Saturday, December 12, 2015

Dusky Desert

The desert is like a rose blushing again after its been withered from the heat. Its beauty never gives up. 
We spent some time at the archery range on Thanksgiving.  Gunther and the human pups from his pack ran wild.  Zander threw the ball for Gunther and his powerful body shot straight like an arrow; he impresses me. At one point Zander threw the ball off of small hill that dropped suddenly at the bottom. 
 I didn't see, but all I heard was the weight of a canon ball hurtling from a great height, hit the dirt with a mighty thud then run off with winged feet. 

 The story of their lives.....

Gunther clothes lined them.  Ender is actually taking it really well here, believe it or not.  In seconds he'll pop his head up with a smile. Cora is spittin' mad, however. 

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Life's Rhythm

When I was younger, I took piano lessons in a mint green house from my best friend's mom.  I don't know where she kept her reservoir of patience hidden, but she seemed to never run out.  My lack of musical talent must have had her dipping into her surplus tank as I tripped across those measures, each note more like a crack in a sidewalk then a ripe fruit waiting to be plucked by nimble fingers.  My hands became even more confused when she brought out the metronome.  tick. tick. tick.  The little woodpecker picking a hole in my brain, I could barely think.
I can't even clap along to a song.  If I'm lucky enough to be standing by someone who knows what they're doing, I'll tune out the song and focus all my energy on watching their hands, guiding me into the world of rhythm.  After a few rounds I get a little cocky and think "I got this.  Easy"  So I'll add a little shoulder or foot tap.  Big mistake.  Its a race to find my guide again before anyone notices the girl who can't clap.
And Zander on the drums?   Thats pure quantum physics.

I was thinking about this as I was pushing Cora on the swing.  Back and forth under the porch in our back yard.  Forth she would fly out under the sun, yellow curls an impossible mess, glowing, then back to me under the shade for another push on her back.  Over and over again and nearly every day.  

I finally found a rhythm I'm good at.  My own.  Day in and day out with 3 unruly and fascinating children and 1 man equal to their spunk and magic we rise, eat, play, work, and sleep

Even then, though, I'll find myself with stumbling fingers, completely making a mess of the measures.
"Zander, I feel so overwhelmed, panicky.  What am I going to do?"  I'm known to ask this in the mornings before he leaves for work.

He pulls out the metronome.  It begins its rhythmic ticking. 
"Just love the kids today Leslie."  I don't think I've ever told him how purely pragmatic that response is to me.  It changes everything.  It keeps me from feeling frustrated that I'm not a musical prodigy.  It frees me from playing some other composers piece to playing the one me and the kids create. Listening to the One who loves me changes the way I do the dishes, wipe stinky butts, discipline the cats and dogs, plan for dinner, and the way I see myself as a mother, as a human being, as just plain jane me.  When I love, I find myself with the strength not to sit idle in my fears or not to panic because I'm not living up to some great expectation.  I'm just living this life of mine in freedom.

 The kids standing on top of the dirt pile.  Ender came out one afternoon to find this particular dirt pile and his eyes lit up and his jaw dropped.  "Mama!  There's a dirt pile!  Is it for me? Did you make it for me!?"  (uhh sure kid)  "YES Ender, Just for you!"  Zander likes it because Gunther will poop on it and then it rolls down the little hill getting coated in a light powder of dirt which helps with flies and cleaning up too, I guess.  I'm trying to eradicate this though.

They are always begging us to take them in the alley when we take out the trash.  Its always a no because they never are wearing shoes and by the time they get their shoes on, the task is completed.  They recently got new easy slip on rain boots so they were elated to bust out of the shelter of their backyard to see what lies beyond its borders. 
Now that I think about it, I used to love riding my bike up and down the alleys.  One of the best producing pomegranate bushes there ever was grew up and over an alley wall.  That was "Arcadia" though, this is straight up Coronado. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Cora pranced around with her floppy hat and poofy hair winning a humble award for the "cutest" costume.  Though when Zander styled her, he was definitely going for more of the creep factor.  When her curls have been brushed out, all that is left is a scary white guy with a fuzzy mullet.  It makes me shudder and laugh at the same time.  I tried to showcase it in the setting sun.
Ender could care less about entering in any costume contest.  He contently wolfed down his hot dog so he could attack the games and candy at our church's trunk or treat.  He much prefers Cora in the spotlight.  The nights leading up to Halloween Ender was getting nightmares and not wanting to go to bed.  After praying over him, I told him to try and think of happy thoughts.
"I just can't.  I won't.  Its going be Halloween soon so I can only think of spooky things.  After Halloween is over I won't be scared anymore"
And he's not.  Onward to Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Precious Poppy

We were having such a hard time keeping Cora from stealing Sam's pacifiers which she refers to as "poppies".  When the house went quiet, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt she had located the forbidden fruit and was defiling it in her germ filled mouth some where in secret.  She burrows under blankets, pillows, or just behind her crazy fray of hair to hide. One time I found her perfectly coiled in my little suitcase, lid closed.  The blanket hide out is the best though.  She throws it over her head and leaves the rest of her naked self out to air dry. Its quite startling.

Cora can be such a bear.  Naturally, she loves stories about them.

Once upon a time, there was a little girl named Cora.

"No, I'm a big girl!" Oh, yes yes, of course.

Once upon a time there was a big girl named Cora.  She was a very fortunate girl.  She had so many poppies; one in every color of the rainbow.  Except she did not have blue.  Her baby brother had one poppy in the whole wide world to call his own and it just happened to be blue.  Cora wanted that poppy and she stopped at nothing to get it.
One day she sneaked into his sun filled room while he was napping and soothing himself away on that gloriously blue poppy.  She tip toed over to his bed and quick popped it out of this mouth.  His precious bottom lip puckered and quivered and then the loudest and saddest wail bellowed from his baby lungs.  A moment later, down the hall way, came a low growl and a fierce snarl.  Cora froze.  The terrible noise came closer and closer, until Cora saw a great big paw creep across the threshold to Sam's room.

**(I know this can sound traumatizing, but I'm paying close attention to my human test subjects and noting if there is any impending psychological damage..  Of course, I won't get my longitudinal results until they are all grown up and any unforeseen consequences have already and irrevocably occurred.    :) 

The beast was a dreadful bear who introduced himself as "the guardian of baby brothers and their poppies"

At this point Cora and I get into an argument about what happens next.  I say that the bear gives her a stern warning not to take Sam's pacifiers anymore, or else.....!  She is adamant that "character Cora" takes out her sword and kills the bear.  Swipe, swipe! "I kill you bear!"

Suffice it to say, I think the story has worked.  She no longer steals his poppies for sucking. She still looks at them hungrily though.  If the temptation is too great, she will grab for it and say "here you go!" or "let me wash it for you", just so she can have a moment with it alone in her hands.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Are you really FIVE years old?

The night you were induced, we were blaring Weezer through out the house.  Daddy was cleaning it like crazy and I was showering and curling my hair.  Ha!  I don't know why I wasted time on my hair.  The sweat of labor foiled my beautification attempt.
Well, turns out kiddo, induction wasn't working with you.  Figures.  It wasn't exactly your timing.  Twenty odd some hours later, I wasn't dilated and you were still the farthest point away from the exit.  It took a scalpel to get you here.  If it were not for your IUGR "diagnosis" I totally would have waited for your go ahead.  Nothing much has changed.
If you don't want to do something your heels are dug and they are not budging.  However, if your mind is made up, there is no stopping you and you're totally "cool with it".

I imagine your mind to be bolted shut with a complicated combination lock.  Experiences, stories told, music heard, tv shows watched, people interacted with, adventures that were had, all have an assigned number which remains unknown.  Rotating the sequence in the correct order:  turn left, then right, past 0 three times..... but who knows.... then suddenly Click! a part of your mind is thrown wide open and you swim, climb higher in the tree, pump your legs on the swing, read words and so on. Life is furiously working at trying to unlock the mysterious of you.  Some compartments are easier to get into than others.  I have witnessed some of the most rarest treasure spill out when a lock has been broken.  I never know when it will happen, but I'm so glad I get to be around when it does.
Ender, love, you've opened my eyes to the supernatural, to the humble, to God.  Thank you darling.  And here is to another year of discovery and loving you!

Friday, October 02, 2015


The month I draw all my capital O's as little pumpkins. 
The month with the birthday cake scribbled on the 9th square for Ender.
The month I come crashing down the doors of Hobby Lobby for even MORE fall decorations. 

The month I try to convince Ender that he doesn't want to be B-Dog from Space Buddies for Halloween.
The month that needs to come full circle in Cora's head.  Last year at this time, a beast was born.  I'm hoping this time the beast doesn't die, (because the beast is fun to laugh at/with) but that it just learns some manners.
The month where magic steps out of hiding from the lidless eye of summer to flit and flutter over cooler days.
The month that Sammy smiles more and more at his lunatic mom and the siblings that drove her there. 

Raising a glass of cider to you October!  In the desert you are especially enchanting. 

Some photos from last year's October from our humble abode's perspective.

My Ghost Pumpkins didn't make it this year.  The delicate sprouts wilted and withered while we left on vacation. And the one that managed to survive has stayed no more than 3 inches tall.  He's a determined fellow.  I'm not sure why he isn't growing, though.  His neighbors, the lettuce and the pepper are thriving.  Hmm... maybe the seeds were duds. 

Friday, September 18, 2015

They are like sharks, or are sharks.  They smell blood, weakness, and attack.  They are my children.  And they have a keen sense of when mama is barely keeping afloat.  Their father is lounging in the boat, soaking in the sun, enjoying the light salty sea spray, and glancing over the side thinking,  "awe, I didn't know dolphins had so many rows of teeth and a such a razor edge dorsal fin.... too cute!"  "Leslie, honey! You're swimming with flipper, we should instagram this."
No, Zander.  Wash the sunblock out of your eyes.  This is JAWS!  Get off your butt and get me out of here.

He did.

Needless to say the kids are being whipped into shape this weekend.  No, not literally whipped, people, but close.  Just kidding.

I understand exactly how that apple feels. 

 Below.  She leaves no survivors.

After a great change like a new baby, the whole house (except Zander, of course) takes the first flight off this earth to la la land.  Its only a matter of time, though, before things settle down again.  God is so faithful and I feel soothed by His non judgemental ears and eyes.  He knows to the core our weakness and the dark things that can prey on His children.  The lies.  The kids are one thing.

 They can be managed.  But its another to face your own demons.
In a city of 3 million people, I can still feel isolated.  The assumption that I'm the only one that struggles with such and such shapes my perspective, narrows it, perverts it.  Yet, when I get out the door, open my heart up to people, I realize I am not some sort of sub species, but very much human.  I'm trying to be more open in hopes to fish for more "I totally get you!" or "I'm so glad I'm not the only one"   And then there is Christ, fully human fully God, who mysteriously and undoubtedly understands and gets the nitty gritty details of being at home with 3 tots and much of the under lying issue connects to someone, anyone out there.  And it feels so good to find that person when I do who ever they may be. 
He can be a real slice of ham, this kid.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Friday, September 11, 2015

Little beetles on their backs.  With wiggly limbs and smiles that quicken across their perfectly plump cheeks.  I don't know who they will be exactly, so I'll just safely put them in the category of 'AWESOME'  Yet, as people who love babies, we throw our love blindly into the future.  Hopefully, as it hurls headlong into the unknown, the path it carves will be the one we always follow.  In the future, as a mom and aunt, I will find my love face to face with these grown up cherubs.  I trust God to get us all there.

These two.  Basically twins.  Born three weeks shy of each other.  They are lounging on, what I believe to be a blanket intended for my older brother, my mom's first born who only experienced the woes of this world for a couple of days, then left to go help God find me the best sycamores to climb when I meet up with him.  I'm only assuming, but I think I have a pretty good hunch this was one of his heavenly priorities. 

This makes my heart settle in nice and cozy seeing them, all of the stinkers really, make use of their uncle's blanket.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

It is such a trivial thing.  I am foolish to obsess over it.  Fear of the future dims the lights and I can barely see my feet when I walk through this life.   If I can just find the answer to my question, I'd find the light switch and I'd quit chasing shadows.

Chalk it up to post partum, but I can't seem to shake the question "Should we have another biological child?"
"Who cares?!!"  I scream at my thoughts.  More softly, "Rest your mind, rest your heart on the amazing lifeforms that run around making a mess of my unfounded pride".

The other afternoon, Ender joined me on the bench swing in the backyard.

"Are we going to have another baby after Sam grows up?" he asks.

"Uh, I'm not sure.  Should we?"  (I'm losin it, asking family planning advice from a four year old)

"No, three is the rule"  He pipes.

"Oh really?  Who told you that?"

"Nobody.  Its just the rule."

"Well what if we had a fourth.  Then what?"

"I'd be happy"

"What about Three is the Rule?"

"Then Four would be the Rule"  he quips.  "THEN TWENTY ONE HUNDRED!"  (Thats his favorite number to yell)

Thank you my sweet boy, my little teacher with twiggy limbs and stinky breath. 

You're right.  Whatever we have, we have.  That is the "rule". 

Thursday, September 03, 2015

It used to be that Oak Creek canyon would begin to feel suffocating after a few days spent crawling around like an ant at the bottom.  Restlessness would begin to set in my bones and I'd want to escape to the wide open.

 Now, I know it's embrace was only meant to hold me until I stopped squirming from the fruitless busyness of my mind.  It holds me like Zander holds the children when they are having a complete utter melt downs.  Once I'm swaddled in emerald trees and the glowing rose of the canyon walls, I stop fighting.  I think I just might be learning how to be a child again: puttering around in an orchard, stopping for what seems like eons to let a snail pass, watching movie after movie not caring about the latest child development research, napping, snacking, playing, making unbeautiful messes..

And lets not kid ourselves, this is the reality of living with Calamity Cora these days.  

Of this picture Zander says. "you're welcome"



Sam would sleep so his siblings could terrorize the pristine creek.

He loved his lazy boy the most though. 
Our days could have stretched into months, but we ran out of food. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Fathers Day - many many moons ago

This breaks my heart, but also gives wings to each broken piece.  I don't know how else to describe longing and joy.

Arica helped make this video for Zander a few years ago for Fathers Day.  I think the sound should work.  Hey Zander, let me know, okay?

Friday, August 07, 2015

Afternoon Storms

Those are some well defined ribs.  He "has a hole in his leg" as the expression goes.  This kid eats basically everything and anything.  He would guzzle a gallon of milk in a few days if we let him.   

 Ender changes outfits atleast twice a day.  Summer or winter he'd rather be in his "tarzans" (underwear) Cora, summer or winter would rather be buck naked.  In the winter, however she orders me to roll out the space heater in the kitchen so she can eat breakfast comfortably.  Anyway....

The lightning and thunder splintered and cracked the iron clouds.  Rain gushed out and my tough girl that likes to push her big brother around whimpered and begged to go back inside.  The thunder was intense, its great sound smashing straight over head, but I couldn't go inside.  Its not me.  I tried to comfort her with a little education and teach her to count the seconds between the flash of light and the peal of thunder.  I think it took hold.  Later that evening, she and Gunther accompanied me on a puddle jumping walk while the sky still gurgled and fizzed with electric clouds.  I am beginning to pay more heed to her.  She has always been so simple to interact with, yet lately, she is demanding a more complex response from me and zander.  Some things she just can't get over as easily like before. She needs a human connection to encourage, persuade or distract her.  It only takes a moment of this "extra effort" and she's back on track, but if you choose to dismiss her feelings.... cover your ears and duck because she's coming for you.  Its a normal and healthy thing being 2 1/2, its just that the majority of my mental energy was required by our strong willed Ender.  "Oh would you look at that, Cora needs a mom and a dad too.  Make room Ender Johnny" 

Sunday, August 02, 2015

It just comes with the Territory

A week before Sam was due, Ender contracted pink eye.  Lovely.  He was more than happy to share it with his sister.  If only they could share their toys and space so easily, we would have accomplished Miss America's dream of world peace within these walls.
Thankfully, it was plenty of time to medicate those angry eyeballs, so..... we could move on to the day of Sam's birth where Ender woke up with round two of pink eye, zander with flu like symptoms and me in early labor and a sore throat.  Stupendous.
Grandparents are the greatest.  I was worried no one would take our infested children so I could do the whole labor and delivery thing.  But, grandparents have guts and unconditional love.
With Ender and Cora gone,  I could focus on the contractions. By 11 that night we decided to head to the hospital for the heck of it, oh, and so zander could sleep.  He reasoned he already wanted to be there instead of me waking him up in the middle of the night because as it was he was not feeling well. 
We go through the annoying but I guess necessary steps it takes to get checked in through triage and eventually admitted to the hospital.  I get an epidural that works this time, have mercy!  so thats the heaven everyone is talking about!  The nurse seriously tucks Zander in for the night and he promptly passes out, leaving me to wonder.... was that my water that just broke? He misses a few scary moments of Sam seemingly disappearing, of needing oxygen, of being rotated this way and that, but I didn't mind a bit, not with an amazing nurse.  Nurses can be all you every need in life.
Around 6 am, I'm watching the planes land at Sky Harbor and its pretty much go time.  The doctor's and nurses scurry in and all that commotion wakes sleepy head in the corner.  Twenty mellow dramatic minutes later, we welcome Sammy boy into the blazing summer of this world.
Zander gets pink eye that night in the hospital.  I'm sick with swollen lymph nodes and my crotch hurts of course.  He takes medicine and is no good to me at that point.  Of course, Sam raises hell for me that night.  I've never been so tired before where I was hallucinating voices and getting a nice foot massage by a 1800s railroad worker.
You just got to keep going though.  We did and at the end of it all, and two weeks post partum, we rush Ender to the E.R. for a sudden attack of the croup.  But of course once again, I have to handle the situation because Zander has taken a sleeping aid.  Thankfully, those trusty grandparents I mentioned before come to the rescue. Zander's dad and Aunt Arica pick Zander up from home so he can switch with me at the hospital and I can be back at home with a hungry newborn.

I think things are settling down.  However, Zander's tendency for OCD -ism and neuroticism has been agitated and he's been fixating over the air flow and dust content in our house.
Because of that I have to open our vintage milk delivery door every time I run the dryer or bathroom vent, but I always forget.
In the middle of his air flow puzzle and the day after Ender's expensive ER visit,  he asks me to run the dryer.  I hit the ON button.  Ker-klump thump, clunk and maybe a snap crackle and pop was thrown in there too, but I'm not confident.   Then a dead dryer.  Aye caramba!  I'm thankful I married a problem solver.  I Just would have cursed the no good machine and bought a new one.  Zander gets to business.  I'm washing dishes as he's tinkering at the old clunker.   In helping him to diagnose the problem, I chime in "It sounded like a spoon getting caught in a garbage disposal"
"Um, well...come look and see then."
I go over to he machine and I see on the floor one of Cora's purple spoons on the floor.
"Huh, thats funny, "I think, "it doesn't seem chewed up.  In fact, its perfect"
"No, not there " he says "Look here"

As my realization comes into focus, my whole body tremors with disgust at the sight of a chewed up rat clogging the vent hole.  I proceed to surprise myself with a 5 minute long heebie jeebie dance paying tribute to all things putrid.   Dang!  Just when I was able to start eating spaghetti again.  Its taken me half a year to get over the first 45 minuets of the movie Seven.

And for as strong willed Ender is, he is equally tender hearted toward his little brother.