Sunday, May 28, 2006

Mama Got Some New Ink!

I earned a little street cred when I went for 4 1/2 hours at the tattoo shop yesterday -- enough time for the lovely and talented Leslie Mah to start and finish my new tattoo! Yeah! I had some Vicodin leftover from my root canal earlier in the week, so that helped. Here I am, so cool I can hardly stand myself:

I love my beautiful violets! You can not tell at all that there was a tattoo on my shoulder before, but you can see a little bit of the star peeking through the leaves on the bottom part. Some fine tuning will take care of that, though. Overall, I'm really, really happy with the end result. I love how she used shadowing and light to make the overall effect tropical and bright.

Working with such dark shades of green and purple on top of an area already saturated with color could have resulted in something murky, or dense, and the fact that the entire piece is diffused with light and space is a testament to Leslie's talent and skill. If you live in the Bay Area, may I recommend Leslie Mah for all your tattoo needs? I'll be going back to her at the end of the summer for some witch hazel on my other shoulder. Because, really, what kind of mother would I be if I didn't have both my girls represented in permenant ink somewhere on my body? ;) Maybe I'll see you there!

Friday, May 26, 2006

Mama Needs Some New Ink

A confession:

For the past 10 years, I have been living with (shhh! don't tell anyone) dorky tattoos. See?

The star was my first. I was 19, I really wanted a tattoo, and I liked stars. Um, okay.

The two wavy lines are my sign (Aquarius). I was 20, I really wanted a tattoo, and I liked the zodiac. Riiiight.

Cut to 10 years later, and not only are these tattoos insignificant to me, I find them slightly embarassing. They smack of awkward youth, "finding myself" and, truth be told, they aren't even that good. I love tattoos, don't get me wrong. I just don't love mine. And since laser tattoo removal technology is nowhere near effective enough to remove them completely, I'm getting them covered up.

I made an appointment with Leslie Mah at Diving Swallow Tattoo in Oakland, and tomorrow is my first sitting. The tattoo that Leslie and I came up with together is going to be big, beautiful, vibrant and meaningful. I can't wait to see it on my skin.

Stay tuned for "after" photos!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Fart Joke: A Play in One Act.

Scene: The women's bathroom at the Metreon.
Characters: Hazel, Alisyn, Mystery Farter

Hazel: Ew, Mama, it's stinky in here!

Me: (Cringe) Shhhhh. It's a bathroom.

Hazel: But Mama, it smells like poop!

Me: (Cringe, whispering) Hazel, lower your voice. You're right, it is a little stinky. Just pee, please, and then we can leave, okay?

Hazel: Okay... (Tinkle, tinkle, tinkle.... tink)... Done!

Cue amazingly loud, juicy fart from the next stall.

Hazel: HAAAAAAAHaaaaaaahahahahahaaa! She TOOTED!

Me: (Cringe, gag, whispering) Hazel! Shhhhh!

Hazel: Hahahhhhaaaa! She didn't say EXCUSE ME when she FARTED!

Me: (Cringe, gag, trying not to giggle) Hazel! Stop! (Rushing to pull her pants up, wash hands and get the hell out of there before Mystery Farter) C'mon, let's wash up and go.

Hazel (taking her sweet-ass time): Mama, I want the pink soap, not the sandy white kind.

Me: Let's just use whatever they have, okay?

Hazel (hanging back by the stall): Hey, Mama, can I touch this? (hand hovering by seat liner dispenser)

Me: (hissing) NO! Come wash up.

Hazel (hand hovering by sliding door lock): Can I touch this?

Me: NO!! Hazel, come wash your hands, NOW.

Hazel: But Mama, you didn't let me do the flush with my foot.

Cue flush from Mystery Farter's stall.

Me: (in my I-mean-business-tone)HAZEL! Come wash your hands NOW! I will not ask you again.

Hazel: Okay, okay. Mama, do they have the pink soap that I like?

Me: Yes! Come get some!

Cue Mystery Farter's exit from stall. Mystery Farter is a tall, fortysomething tourist with a banana clip holding her frosted hair back and a faux Louis Vuitton fanny pack. Mystery Farter meets meets my gaze, then Hazel's in the mirror above the sink as she walks to the door. Mystery Farter pauses to address Hazel heavily, and with great irritation.

Mystery Farter: Excuse me.

Mystery Farter cuts out without washing or drying her hands.

Hazel (after my laughter subsides): That lady didn't wash her hands!

Me: But she did say excuse me for tooting!

Hazel (putting two and two together): ....Yeah! That's good manners!

... And, end scene.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

The Eyes Have It (Haze & Vi at 12 mos.)

I just love scrolling through our iPhoto archives and juxtaposing pictures of Hazel and Violet and the same age. The similarities outweigh the differences, don't you think?

Chunky, rosy apple cheeks? Check. Big, brown eyes? Check. Curly, wispy hair? Check. Hazel's overall hue is a dark gold; Violet's is more of a fair pink. Hazel was chunkier, Violet is longer. But as far as looks go, they are sisters, no doubt.

What I think I love most, aside from the girls themselves, is that they both have what is a common characteristic on my side of the family: those big, dark brown eyes. Myself and all of my brothers have 'em, we got 'em from our Mom, and I love that you can tell we are siblings just by looking at our eyes. There are slight variations, of course -- Kyle's have a slight almond shape, Wyatt's are almost overshadowed by his impossibly long eyelashes, and Ty's are almost green some days. But put us all together and, like Hazel and Violet, you're sure to see the likenesses before you see the disparities.

Sharing physical characteristics with someone is a powerful thing. It gives me a real sense of solidarity to see my eyes looking back at me in my mother, my brothers, my daughters. It makes me feel like, yeah, we may have our differences -- and we certainly have those in abundance -- but the bottom line is, you are like me. I am like you. We are, in many ways, the same. Whether we like it or not.

I like it.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

House Rules

Everyone says it's normal, it's age-appropriate and it's to be expected, but I'll be damned if I'm not shocked everytime Hazel sidles up to Violet, with that look in her eye, and pushes her over, swipes her toy, or pokes her in her face.

Sibling rivalry.

Being three.

Testing boundaries.

Whatever you call it in your house, I call it a big ol' pain in the ass in mine.

I'm beginning to understand why some people choose to have their children close together -- because when your oldest kid is in the throes of Three, a nearly defensless, newly-minted toddler is just fuel for the fire. It's like Violet is walking around with a sign on her forehead that says "Trip me!" or "Someone, please, take this cookie!"

I feel for Hazel, I really do. For 2 1/2 years, she was our one and only: a star on the family stage. How dare this little baby, this interloper, come along and try to steal the spotlight?! Who does she think she is, walking around here with her cuteness, and her new words, and her demands for attention, for love, for Mama?

It seems like the older Violet gets, the more fun, the more human, the more Hazel resents her. She has moments in which she is deeply besotted with Violet, to be sure -- usually when Violet is in her highchair, or nursing first thing in the morning, or just waking up from a nap in her crib. The moments in which Hazel genuinely dotes on and cares for Violet are those in which Violet is contained and subdued. More like the baby she was, less like the girl she is.

Last night as he was putting Hazel to bed, Mike heard Haze say, to no one in particular and apropos of nothing, "I don't care that much about having a baby sister. I'd like to share her. I would like to give her to a family that doesn't have a baby, but wants a baby."

While being kind of funny in a way, this makes me sad, for many reasons. I'm sad for Hazel, because I know she feels genuinely threatened by Violet, despite all the love, attention and one-on-one time we give her. I'm sad for Violet, because she thinks Hazel is an absolute goddess, and is always shocked and upset when she pops her one out of nowhere. It's just sad-making, to see one's two babies at odds so often, not to mention completely annoying. I know she can't help herself -- Hazel just knows that she wants my attention, and that she wants Violet out of the picture. She'd like to be able to put her away, up on a shelf, and take her down on her own terms. I know that her feelings are normal, and healthy, even -- hell, I feel like that about Hazel, sometimes! I know - but it's still it's so frustrating!

Hence, The House Rules.

Hazel and I brainstormed this morning at the breakfast table, and this is what we came up with, together. All four of us signed our names at the bottom of the list, Violet keeping the marker out of her mouth long enough for me to help her with her "V." Violations of the established House Rules result in time-outs, on a stool in the little enclave across from the House Rules poster. Time-outs that are not repected on the stool in the little enclave across from the House Rules poster are moved to the bedroom.

So far today, no time-outs have been needed. Considering that it's already almost 4:00, we've had a pretty freakin' good day. I'm happy for that. Know what else would make me happy? Hearing from you. How do you keep sibling rivalry at bay? What's your secret to happy kids? What are your House Rules?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

To Violet, on Her First Birthday

Dear Violet,

One year ago today you were born. It hardly seems possible, but here it is, your first birthday. Happy Birthday, my sweetheart.

You came into this world on a sunny May morning, eleven days past your due date. Although we had to nudge you along a bit (induce labor), once you realized you were gonna get born (Pitocin), you made sure that your journey into this world was swift and short (3 pushes!) - for which your mama thanks you. Even as a babe in utereo, you were an if-there's-a-job-to-be-done-let's-do-it-right kind of girl. You've always had moxie, kid.

It is amazing how quickly your first year has passed, with you blowing through each stage in your life - infant, baby and now, toddler - with such self-assurance and independence. When you were just 4 months old, you demanded food. Demanded it. Your first solid food was the veggies from mama's turkey pot pie, and you loved it. You never looked back. By the time you hit 5 months, you learned that you could get anywhere you wanted to go by rolling. We'd find you under the coffee table, or cozing up to Zoe, or staring out the sliding glass door. You never could sit still for very long. At age 6 months, not being one for moderation, you learned to sit, stand and cruise. The week you turned 11 months old, you started walking, and in that same week, you started talking, too. All of a sudden, our baby is the littlest big girl on the block. Where did the time go??

I have never known anyone with determination and stregnth of will to match yours, Vi. You never give up on what you want, never. This is a quality that will serve you well in later in life, but right now, is making for epic battles between you and Hazel. Just between you and me? I love it when you stand your ground, and hold fast to whatever toy Hazel is trying to swipe from you, while grunting in protest. I also love it when you succeed at keeping the toy out of Hazel's grasp, and then turn around and hand it to her after she's given up and moved on. You little so-and-so.

Speaking of Hazel, I know it doesn't always seem like it, but she loves you so much, Violet. So much. Sometimes she says she wishes she were bigger so she could carry you around with her, wherever she goes. You are the first person she thinks about when she wakes up in the morning, and you are the first person she kisses when we pick her up at preschool. Hazel studies your bravado -- the way you will let anyone hold you, the way you walk up to kids you don't know at the park, and try to play with them, and she delights in feeding you, because she knows you are game for eating anything, including sand. Hazel has millions of silly nicknames for you: Little Gnocchi, Little Chocolate Chip, Centerpiece, Waterfall and Beast among them. She's learning that life with a baby sister isn't always fun, but that when she is upset, you will be there for her, offering her your favorite toys, even your blanket. She is teaching you how to talk, and take care of your baby dolls, and how to play with sidewalk chalk. You are teaching her how to try new foods, how to open up to people, and how to give.

A year ago, Violet, your Dada and I could not imagine having enough love in our hearts to two girls... it just didn't seem possible. But then you came along, and our hearts simply exploded. We just couldn't get over you, with your faux-hawk and your tiny mouth like a little bow. We still can't get over you, with your wild curls, your huge, toothy grin and your many Violet-isms, including: curling your fingers up and squealing "ticka-ticka-ticka!" (tickle-tickle-tickle!) whenever you see anyone's toes, including your own; calling Hazel's Mardi Gras beads "ooh la laa!"s; and carrying rocks from the driveway around with you and chit-chatting with them in your mooney, yappy way.

You are our joyous baby girl, our little Flower, Miss Violet Olivia. When you joined our family, you completed it, absolutely. My dream of giving my daughter a sister came true because of you, Vi. And what a sister -- what a daughter! -- you are. You amaze us, and we feel blessed to call you ours.

Happy First Birthday, Violet, and many happy returns!

Mama, Dada and Hazel

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Oh, Sweet Purgative Sunshine!

For too long thou hast deprived us of thine splendor!

Seriously, with all this heat and weather, it's like getting unlimited free sessions with the best therapist I've ever seen. The sun is strong and hot, the legs are bare, and the feet sandaled. The shoulders are brown (me and Hazel), and freckled (Mike and Violet) from spending our afternoons watering plants and eating popsicles at the park. The summer clothes have come down from the top rack of the closet and the sweaters and jackets have been packed up for next year. We even went to a baseball game this past weekend. If that doesn't scream "spring is upon us!", I don't know what does.

Last year's barely potty-trained 2.5 year old is teaching her younger sister all the tricks of the toilet ("You put your bum in the hole, Violet! You won't fall in, but you have to HOLD ON!") The little chick hatched just last May has emerged this month on two solid, stout legs, walking laps around our little house, yammering to herself about this and that. The day before yesterday we found her in the backyard, chatting with the nasturtiums she was eating. There wasn't any film in the camera that day.

Much as I look forward to a little cool weather in the fall and rain in the California "winter", by the time spring rolls around, I am starving for natural warmth, and the smell of grass, and my skin itches to warm itself in the sun. May has only just arrived, and yet I feel like I've been waiting for it for ages; waiting for the day when I wake up and know that the day will be bright and clear. Life feels lighter on those days, like anything is possible.