Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Really Good Julian Story

This one is actually a two-for-one, so get excited.  First, it may have been mentioned that Julian has certain tendencies. We love him dearly but as an example of the following funny thing, when he was in first grade, I had to ban "bad guy" talk at breakfast.  It was excessive.

Lately we've had to crack down on him for saying basically every thought that enters his head, to us. It's all conversational. He's not being unkind or intentionally offensive.  Really I think what it is is he needs to learn how to have a filter.  Like, not EVERY thought needs to be said. We all have thoughts, I mean, c'mon.  But do we say every thought? No.  He is still learning this. This could be because he is so comfortable and open with us which is really a positive thing, and also that he has a dearth of kids, perhaps particularly age-appropriate boys in his life to share these interests.  

I have also told him I refuse to be a garbage receptacle in that I won't just listen to whatever thought happens to enter his brain. After a certain length being subjected to a certain style of talk, consisting of an over-abundance of certain subjects, it can bum me out or annoy me to high heaven.  Same goes for Sean.  So, like I said, we're cracking down and have to practice constant vigilance. This may not sound like a big deal to you and it's not really, but he talks about these things on a constant basis.  Bombs, weapons, death, dying, weird, disturbing, gross, etc. 

Sean just came in the room and I told him that this morning Julian started on something and it went like this:
JULIAN:  The way I'd like to die is-- 
JULIAN: [laughter]  Yeah, ok. I guess I'm young and don't need to be thinking about things like that... 
JEN: very good.

And then we laughed and Sean said he had one similar the other day:
JULIAN: I think I'd like to make some grenades--
JULIAN: .. I was going to say, 'with molasses in them!' 

Ha ha ha. 

Ok, that's funny story number one.

Here's the second and best one:

Julian has a certain quality where he is so smart, perhaps is told that he is smart, and therefore thinks he is sooooo smart.  And the way he talks about things can convince you he really knows what he's talking about and that you should believe him.  Sean confesses he shares this same quality.  Therefore, another thing I like to do is shut down Julian and remind him to humble the heck up and that he doesn't know what he's talking about. 

He's so insistent and passionate about these things. One small example is he's been reading Old Yeller and then he found my Zombie Survival Guide book and has been reading that, which i have now banned (banned books in our house) because it's chock-full of--you guessed it-- weapons! It's actually totally entertaining but not what i want for him at this moment in time. 

The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living ...

Anyway, the other day he said something so ridiculous and i had to jot it down:
JULIAN: But there are real accounts of being a zombie. 
JEN: No. 
JULIAN: Yes there are!
JEN: No. It is not real.
JULIAN: Yes, it's like with hydrophobia, which is technically being a zombie. 

ha ha ha. a) "hydrophobia"  b) "technically" and c) FALSE. 

I just realized that zombie book was written by the World War Z guy, which I read, and was totes different from the movie. I liked it, but now I'm thinking that Max Brooks may actually agree with Julian.

Ok, I guess this turned out to be sort of a three-for-one.  HERE is the final and best story:

We were in the car, driving to the library, back when that was a thing we did.  He was going on about something he was soooo sure he was an expert on and I was saying words in response, probably trying to shut him down. Dialogue went like this:

JULIAN:  I guess I am kind of a know-it-all.

Jen thinking, ah-ha, hallelujah--

JULIAN:-- but that's because I DO know it ALL! 

JEN: *exasperated eye roll.*

JULIAN, all smarter-than-thou:   Other kids say things like, "funner" and I'm like, go back to first grade and work on your pronunctuation. (read that to yourself a couple times. Like a combo of pronunciation and punctuation)

JEN: Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

JULIAN: What? Why? What is it??

JEN: ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

JULIAN: What!! What IS IT?? What's the right word??

JEN: ha ha ha ha noooooo! I'm NEVER TELLING! You're soooo smart! ha ha ha ha ha.

JULIAN: What is the right word???

I refused to tell him.  Julian also loves swears but is not allowed to use them. So he's been experimenting with replacement swears, where you alter it slightly to make it ok. So the next thing he said was:

JULIAN:  Tell me! TELL ME. Tell me the gob-dan word!!

Which sent me over the edge on our way into the building.  


Ohhh it's my favorite story. Later on we told Sean this story and I made him promise not to tell him either, which he abode by.  Several weeks later we did tell Julian the correct word but I'll be danned if "pronunctutation" is not my new all-time favorite word.  

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Joy Bringer

What if your name was Joy Bringer? Joy S. Bringer.

I just discovered there's a song called Joybringer by some band named Manfred Mann's Earth Band, which is a pretty cool band name. Also I just learned it's Earth Day today, so that's serendipitous.  The song is from the 70's and it's not the world's greatest, though there is some pretty excellent digital/laser space sounds.   But here are some simple lyrics:

I bring joy and I can take you through
All those days when people seem to get to you
I bring joy and I come here to you
I bring life and I can take you where
You can see and feel and breathe and touch the air
I bring life and I can take you there
Feelings inside that we keep
Out of sight and out of reach
Brings us to the things we seek
Take your time, remember when you do
There are days when people feel the same as you
I bring time and I can take you through

Today I am focusing on things that are bringing me joy these days.  Yesterday Julian and I went on an epic scooter ride to my parents' house because I ran out of apricot jam.  Listen, we are self-isolating pretty hard and don't see an-y-one, much less my aged parents.  But like I said, i ran out of my mom's apricot jam and desperate times call for desperate measures of putting yourself and your loved ones at risk.  Ok, I am JK-- we did stay outside and I kept inching away if I felt too close-- but my point here is that I've realized that apricot jam brings me a lot of joy these days.

Yesterday I was sitting in the hammock chair reading my new book, one that everyone but me has read, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.  I remember a book club reading this one a million years ago when we had first moved to Bklyn and at the time I was like, book clubs- lame (I was young) and I didn't read it. And I'm glad I didn't because it wouldn't have been right to have read it then, being newly transplanted in Brooklyn, not yet knowing the place.

The time is right, now. And as I sat swinging lazily in the morning sun that is like an intravenous hookup to the only thing that can keep me alive-- as often happens, I started thinking about bread, particularly rye bread.  On the handful of occasions we've been out to the grocery stores, we always look for a good loaf but there are none, of course.  And also of course, we aren't going to be making any any time soon, though we did buy some yeast, which is sitting in the cupboard--what I consider a huge step.  So I got online and actually ordered two loaves of marble rye bread on Etsy-YES. Etsyyyyy.  I can't tell you how happy that made me in that moment.  And then I read a bit more and then sent this text to a friend:

We've decided to tame our wild cat, who loves to go out into the night if he can, getting in all sorts of trouble, and are hoping to stamp out his wild outside cat-ness (ha) and turn him into an inside cat.  He's come back with so many mysterious injuries and as mentioned, hunted and murdered much wildlife.  He also cannot resist rolling around in dirt piles and I'm sick of it.  So we tied a rope to a stake in the back yard, make him wear a harness, and only let him out when we can hook him up. Julian tries to take him on walks which is comical.  


But he's becoming much more docile and I have to be sure to give him lots of attention.  This is him right now. And this cat is me right now, and the cats in general, are taking me through the days.
wherever you can, Kat. Get it

And here was me in the hammock swing yesterday:


I go out back on every nice morning, go walking or biking or scootering in the day, and then sit on the stoop out front every evening.  I've also been known to open the front blinds and park myself on the rug inside, late afternoon sun full in eyes, and just bask. That life-giving sun is taking me through. 

Other things that bring me joy:

- our blender.  We got a blendtec blender for Christmas, after years of foolishly thinking our junky one was sufficient (also: there's a difference between "junky" and "junkie," I have just learned, ha ha).  I make smoothies every day and every time I use the blender I stand there looking at it and think how amazing it is, and with its easy-clean feature.  It brings me joy.

- our vaccuum.  In my moments of stress-cleaning, this one is a big player. We recently acquired a cordless Dyson vacuum and this thing is a literal life-changer.  I wouldn't include it here if it didn't bring actual joy to my life.  It is a pleasure to use and the nightmare of a corded vacuum is and will hopefully ever be a distant and forgotten memory.  

- food.  Food brings me joy.  I plan my days around food. We even meal-plan, something I abhorred up until now.  This is also necessary so that we don't go to the store too often, something we are accustomed to doing.  But food has taken a prominent place in the joy centers of my brain.  I made chocolate lava cakes last night. I had to make some adjustments because our recipe has not enough chocolate and too much sugar and zero salt, so it's a hard balance and guessing game, but I got it.  I got it.  It worked.  Too bad I didn't measure anything out exactly.  But they were so good. I'm still thinking about them, especially that 1/3 stick of butter I consumed.

Once again, it's the simple things, and may you have some of your own that bring you a moment's joy throughout the days. 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Quarantine Easter

Does every blog post have to relate to the quarantine? Maybe.  Am I just lazy and keep repeating titles accidentally? Yes, absolutely.

Easter this year was nice and low key.  I spent the week beforehand gathering together pics and links and thoughts about Holy Week and sent them to some people and made myself a nice little way to prep for the Easter Day.  I printed off all this stuff and it will go into my quarantine scrapbook.

This year we hid some eggs in our own yard. Julian felt too old and like he'd rather hide than hunt, a sure sign of the aging out of childhood, alas. Fortunately for him, I've NEVER aged out so I'm happy to still be hunting.  Also Sean, as seen here:

this pic isn't really anything, turns out.

On Sunday, we had an egg-dying blitz, which i love.  We started this tradition maybe last year, maybe the year before (what is time anymore?) and it's kind of my favorite.  We used all of the kits we have which somehow seem to multiply, and then got a new one for this year (ok, i see what's happening there).

Something I learned this year: I really love putting together an Easter basket.  We have one family one and we were sure to order our favorite chocolate from our favorite places, and get a little something for everyone.  Sean and Julian went camping to a secluded spot the day or two before and I got to assemble in solitude and again, rather loved it.  I love Easter candy way more than, say, Halloween or Valentine's Day candy.  I also love everything about Easter-- the religious symbols, the "everything is born again" vibe, like baby animals and springtime.  I didn't take a pic of my finished basket because I'm a dummy because it was nothing short of glorious, but we had:

  • fancy chocolate eggs which i had been looking forward to for weeeeks.
  • mini-eggs, much beloved by Sean, newly beloved by Julian, and now with the dark version, adopted by me as well. 
  • twix for kids who like that
  • a large chocolate egg filled with truffles
  • a collection of other truffles with a variety of white, milk, and dark chocolate, all delicious because it's good quality. I love my Easter snobbery. It's one more reason for the season, for me. A carefully curated basket.  
  • medici almonds-- so pretty and almondy. 
  • chewy tiny tarts, my deep, unabiding guilty pleasure candy. 
  • and the creme de la creme, a paper mache victorian egg i purchased this year, filled with delights and was no match for the delight that filled ME. I looooved this thing. 
  • some peeps, which are gross, but traditional.
I don't know what it is about Easter treats, or Easter in general.  I have such vivid memories of Easters of my youth. Why?  Must be the time of year, when I feel like I can truly open my eyes for the first time. Memories are more in focus, I'm taking those first deep breaths after hibernation.  I remember making Easter crafts with my mother when I was a kid-- those sugar string eggs, where you wrap sugary goo-covered string around balloons, wait until it's hardened, and then pop it and you have this weird egg shell thing.  Or those sugar eggs filled with a little Easter scene made out of candy.  Why do I love this so? I'm not sure I'll ever know.

Here are some pics.  

First, here's Julian after I was like, "hurry up and go find the basket! I WANT IT."  

The basket unpacked:

There's something about digging through the grass to find the candy that keeps the excitement alive. If it were just a basket with goodies, no grass, where's the surprise? Where's the thrill of discovery? It would just be a basket full of stuff. With grass, it's mysteries and possibilities. This is all part of Easter for me.

My Victorian egg!
ohhhh my good heavens, I love it so much
 Here is an egg collage, in case you didn't want to scroll through  all 87 of our very BEST eggs:

Methods used:

1. Melting crayons on hot eggs. This made for a couple cool eggs (A2, B2, and A3) but was quite difficult as it was so flaming HOTTT.  I burned my fingertips which just kept on burning because--hot wax. So, not sure I'd mess with that again. On the other hand, those eggs look awesome. So maybe the pain is worth it. Wait-- C1 is also a wax egg. Sean did this one and I think it's my favorite of them all. How did he get that pale blue?? I have no idea. He did something to it and then wiped it all off and that was the result?  Who knows.  So beautiful. So pure.

2. Eggsperimenting with dyes.  One of my favorite things to do is to pretend I am a chemist and try to make the color I want using the limited colors these kits give me.  Or just something different and unique.  I was most proud of eggs B1, B3, and C3 which is more grass-green than teal, which is what the kit dye made.  I worked hard at this.  I love that brown one of B3.  And B1 took many trials, back and forth, back and forth, until success.  Now I know how Marie Curie felt.

3. New stripy stripe machine which made every egg look awesome.  I saw this on Instagram and, like every purchase I've made from there, i did not regret this one bit.  It was so easy and fun and again, made everything look cool.  In fact, here are some more because you need to see:

When I was a teen, one of my favorite things to do was spin boiled eggs really hard on the table so they'd turn upright and then take a Sharpie marker to it and watch the change occur, like a pottery wheel.  When it stopped spinning, it looked like nothing, unlike these eggs.  So thanks, stripe machine.
Next year I want to do natural dyes again. We did this a few years ago and I'm itching to do it again. Yes, itching.  

More pics.
Easter kitty:

Egg filled with truffles. Favorite, and very difficult to see:

Lastly,  a few mornings before Easter, i opened the back door and saw some feathers on the mat. NO. I knew what this meant.  "Carnage!" I shouted to Julian.  And instructed him to look for the body.  We found it not too far away, lying on the grass:

I love birds.  And this horrified and disgusted me.  Our killer cat struck again.  We somehow got the bird into a garbage bag to throw away but then that didn't feel right so we decided to bury it instead. 
Julian and Sean dug a hole and Julian made a stone for remembrance.  I looked upon our Easter bird and reflected on death and life, how they go hand-in-hand, recited a poem, and said a solemn prayer in my heart for the bird that needlessly died, on what we now call Easter Thursday. The eve of Good Friday. It was a somber moment and good symbol for the proceeding days.

p.s. I've been watercoloring a bit lately. It's calming and I enjoy it.  There's a photographer on Instagram I follow. He is Finnish and, from what I can tell, lives in the forest and takes insane photos of every amazing woodland creature you can imagine as well as other wildlife.  In fact, go follow him. His snaps will brighten your day. I particularly love the birds, and tried to paint them:
i will not rest until i can capture the bird face.  it's so hard.

this one is ok except i broke the bird's beak. :(  Sorry.

 Watercolors suit my personality.  They've got a laissez-faire quality I really enjoy. It helps me to just let go, see what happens. It's a form of painting by water where part of your role is to just see what picture will be revealed.  There are a few high stress moments like with the eyes (deep breath) but other than that, I just see where the flow takes me, what colors I can achieve.  I like it.


Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Quotes from Quarantine

Being forced to spend all day every day with my two favorite people has been a really lucky thing. I think about people who struggle with people they live with (whoever they are) or are forced to quarantine with loved ones but in a tiny space which would drive anyone crazy.  Or in general, with all of their family members all of the time which could be exhausting and cause some stress-pressure merely by obtaining the same general space for days on end.  Really, I have it good. Our situation is doable, and let's not even mention those who are struggling with illness or on the front lines in some way or dealing with employment problems--ugh, ugh, ugh.

That said, we all have our limits before tension rises and the steam forms and threatens in what has become a bit of a pressure cooker, you might say. 
Julian is doing alright with it. He misses school and his friends and just being around other kids.  He told me he feels like he's losing his sense of humor because he knows that kind of audience really well--the kid audience, i guess.  I told him maybe he could get a Youtube channel or something.  And we really might need to because taking the place of basically all other humans in his life, I am the sole recipient to all of the chatter/ brain noise that is expelled from within. He talks nonstop, telling me THE weirdest crap and I am either laughing, shaking my head, vehemently rejecting what I'm unfortunately on the receiving end of, or am just left stunned and speechless by the things that come out of this child's mouth.  I cannot run to my stash of post-it notes nor scribble with fumbled pen-in-hand fast enough.  But I have tried. So, in the spirit of record-keeping in this crazy time, here are the latest post-it quotes coming at you from recent days and weeks:

1. Julian and Sean are in the middle of an epic Star Wars marathon. They watch a bit every night before bed. Right now they are smack dab in the middle, which is the middle of Empire Strikes Back, I believe.  A week or so ago they were slogging through episodes 1-3 and I overheard Julian say something really excellent to Sean as they were watching Attack of the Clones or whichever one has Anakin being older and annoying:

March 18, 2020 
"I really hate Anakin Skywalker in this episode.  He's like a super sexy jerk."   
 Hi-larious.  And it's true.  He seems to spend the entire film trying to be sexy which is disturbing and annoying the crap out of everyone.  Nailed it, Julian.

2. These are out of order and I didn't date them all. Here's another one from before then:

March 13, 2020

"I usually build a whole world inside of my head with books."

This is adorable and I believe was during the calm, innocent days, pre-quarantine.  It's cute because that's exactly what reading does but he said it like he had just invented the concept, and I got to see watch him stumble on this idea for the first time.   He went on to tell me how he knows a book isn't good-- when he can't visualize it very well and I thought it was very wise. I struggle with books like that too. 

3.        JEN: You're funny.

JULIAN: Aw, thanks. I love being told I'm funny, even more than being told I'm loved."

ha ha.  I recently heard a statement saying something people love to hear perhaps even more than "i love you" is "I understand you."  Perhaps "you're funny" ranks right up there as well. 

4. These next three were in quick succession, like everything he says.  I congratulate myself enormously for a) listening in the first place because a large percentage of the stuff he says is weird or disturbing or gross. Also for b) getting the stuff done that I was working on at the time amidst his verbal torrent and c) getting to a post-it to write them down.

4a. We were discussing natural rock formations for some reason and Devil's Tower came up (again) and as I was heading upstairs he said,

"Another name for that could be Earth's Wart."  
And I was like, "ew." 
 And he said, "why not? It's formed the same way warts are formed."     


At this point I had successfully made it to my bedroom. Once again scenes of Calvin and Hobbes flash through my head.  I used to think Calvin's mom was kind of lame and boring but I think I understand her better now. 

4b. He was eating scrambled eggs at breakfast and apparently had some trouble chewing/swallowing and said,

"aagh, I half-swallowed that scrambled egg but I was able to bring it back and swallow it again! It's like I got to eat it twice!"  
*Jen making grossed-out face at the sink or wherever.*
He rolls right on through with a contemplative, "I don't know why we can't chew our cud..."

4c. 4c isn't a quote but a point to say that this time also included him telling me all the horrible and graphic details of the book he was reading about Hiroshima that someone wrote when visiting soon after the bombs were dropped. It's some rare book Sean had in the bookcase, probably next to the parenting books Julian always grabs at the free little library book drop.  Note to self: Make Amelia Bedelia books more readily available. ALso +5 points to me for using "readily" in a book context. 

5. He asked me out of the blue the other day (of course),

"What would your bounty hunter hairstyle be?

Me:  Meet Smudge, The Confused Cat From The "Woman Yelling At Cat" Meme ...  
"uhh..don't they all wear masks? or helmets?"
(why am i even attempting to answer this??
He replied, "That's a bounty hunter stereotype because of Boba Fett."  

Like I was admonished. Like all of a sudden I find myself in this surreal situation where I feel ashamed because I was stereotyping bounty hunters?? What is happening? What world do I live in?  Who am I? Is this real life?  I was dying at this. This kid is the weirdest.    I then pathetically tried to give him an honest answer but now, upon reflection, it feels like the weirdest word-trap or weirdo mind game or something and I feel foolish to try to participate. 

6.   "What if we all had to share one sheet of paper? That thing would be so thick and weighed down with white-out, it would be unrecognizable."  

 Fortunately he often doesn't really require a response. He's just like a short, loud, kind of scatterbrained philosopher with poor short-term memory, because sometimes i will give a delayed response and he'll have forgotten he even said anything, making me look like the crazy one.

"That would be gross and sad..."

"Huh? What would?" 

7. "I wish I could buy a valley."  

     "What would you do with your valley?"

     "I'd build all of my ideas and have them in one place, like my cup car."

Oh, the cup car. He has told me at length, on multiple occasions, about his invention of a cup car. It's essentially a teacup vehicle--like the teacup ride at Disneyland.  It's powered by up to four people pedaling and can go up to 60mph.  Being no engineer, I pointed out what seemed to be a problem in his person-propelled engine and that kind of speed.  Also, how do brakes work? Does only one person have access to brakes? How do they brake and let the others know to stop pedaling? Does he/she signal in some way? Does he/she shout, "BRAKE!"?  Does using the brake automatically lock the pedals? Actually, that last one is a pretty good idea. I should suggest it to him.  He heard all of this and after considering my questions, declared he might need to rethink this invention.  But here's his drawing because I happen to have it right here next to me: 

Also that looks NOTHING like a cup car, Julian.  By his description, I told him it sounded more like this:

Our Handcars

but he was like, noooo it's totally different. 


But hey, he's not an artist, he's an idea guy.   Also, the steering wheel in the center (like it is in the teacups ride) is making me el-oh-el right now. 

8.  "I can put a bookmark in my memory."   Sometimes he says things weirdly profound and lovely. See, this is why i have to keep listening.  

9. "Have you ever juggled in Oregon?"  

He asked me this twenty times because it took me that long to even register this and get on board with the question.

I think I said, "what? No." 

"Really? Never?"

"No! What??"

Finally he got to his point-- "because it's illegal. You have to have a license."   So I guess I'm glad there was a point. 

10. Speaking of profound/poignant, I said the other day,  

"I just want to lose myself in a good book."

He replied, "I think I've been lost in a book my whole life and have never been found. I don't think anyone knows the real me. I'm not sure I even know myself."  

Me:  We Finally Know What Cats' Facial Expressions Mean | IFLScience

After which he grabs a fistful of Werther's Originals and casually strolls away. 

11. "Everybody has a beat that they're born with, and it stays with them for the rest of their skipping lives."

This was while we were high-skipping down the road (which is really fun if you haven't done it in a while) and I loved it so much but didn't have my phone or anything with which to record, so i made him help me remember it. I had to recite it again and again and thankfully, it worked. 

12. "If I have four or five cats when i grow up I'm going to name them big long German names." 

I approve of this.

13. "I've been doing a lot of scrapbooking." 

Sometimes, when we ignore him, he does really funny things-- like he got this catalog (since when was the "catalogue" spelling not ok?) of weird office/packaging supplies and cut out pictures of stuff and wrote his own captions in a binder of loose paper.  The quote alone made me laugh, but his actual scrapbooking is hi-larious.  I told him we should probably get him his own Instagram account.  

i love him so much.

"Maybe in the afterlife I could come back and be a crash test dummy.  I could ride roller coasters and not feel the tension and stuff because I'm just a crash test dummy."  

Double-you, tee, eff.   It's funny, but also disturbing and just plain weird.

I need to figure out way to relieve the apparently pent-up and frustrated brain energy.  I keep telling him to write down all of this but he won't listen to me.  Tell it to the paper, Julian!  That i can read later when I choose to, like Stephen King's mom I would imagine, and not necessarily be a forced party to the play-by-play.   I'll keep trying.  In the meantime, I guess he can refer to my post-its notes that I am, for some unknown reason, so dutifully and carefully keeping for him.   


Wednesday, April 01, 2020

April Fool Revisited

A few years ago, we played a few April Fool's Day pranks on Julian who was about five years old at the time.  He loved them but was a little bit flummoxed as to why. Don't worry about it, Julian.  Well since then he has really come to appreciate a solid prank and each year, Sean and I don't really do anything because I never remember and I want it to be good and my last-minute ideas are lame so we don't do much and it's really quite sad.

This year, however, was different.  First, the Sunday before, Julian was sure we were well into April already (how could March have possibly been as long as it was. Like, really, how)  and he sadly exclaimed that we had missed April Fool's Day.  This gave us a peek into the desires of his heart and the good fortunate of having NOT missed it, so there was still time.   I expressed my desperate wishes to Sean to really make it good this year and he and I, in spite of our collective stress and exhaustion and general bummed-outedness, collaborated and threw together a bunch of ideas the night before:

1. Fake cat vomit.  This was awesome. I had looked it up online and was like, MOD PODGE--ehhhh nevermind.  I get craft-exhaustion before even doing anything. But Sean soldiered on and actually dug some up and made it happen.  I guess all you need to do is mix some mod podge with acrylic paint and then throw in some dried cat food and then bake it.  This one was awesome and totally disgusting.  Our cats vomit from time to time and there's always horrible excitement when we discover it.  When the barfer (usually the big one--probably only the big one) starts making his noises, I start guiding him away and onto hard floor or outside if we can get there. Every time I do this, memories of my mom swiftly walking us kids as the stomach threatens to expel, hurriedly to the bathroom.  I laugh every time because my cat has been trained by now and, I swear, almost expects it.  That was a tangent.  Here's the barf:

This was probably the most successful prank.  I put it on his bed and he didn't notice it until well into the afternoon, when the cat was lying innocently next to it.  *gasp*  "EW!!!"  *running in terror from room.*  I tried so hard not to smile through this to make it last, but it was too good.  Well done, Sean.

2. Spider drawn on the outside and bottom of cup. Julian has serious arachnophobia so this was a good one.

How did it go? Well. Very well.  Sadly, Sean could not be present for most of the moments, per usual.  But I gave Julian some water and a while later got a good, rewarding yelp.

3. Mr. Bones reclining in Julian's usual morning reading spot.

I kind of feel like we should bring him out at random times of the year and pose him just for fun. Last Halloween we had him sitting on an old rocking chair on the porch. We brought it in and forgot about it and when I went downstairs and saw the shape of a sitting someone in the darkness I about LOST IT.  Way too easy to prank oneself with that thing.

4. My ugly mug Sean found from the doorbell spy cam and printed it up--ha ha ha.  Put it on the window above the piano.   "Julian, could you open the blinds and let in some more light?"

5.  Crepe paper'ed the bathroom.  Not pictured is a printout of his face under the toilet seat, as well as a toilet full of green water.

6. Not pictured is a web of string just outside his bedroom door.  He noticed it before he got caught but he was delighted nonetheless.  

7.  Lastly, I woke up that morning and in a sleepy haze, tried to look at my phone and noticed something was very wrong.  There was a huge inexplicable crack on it and I couldn't push the "home" button for NOTHIN'.   In my stupor and morning dumbness,  i immediately began to freak out and somehow was able to text Sean and frantically question what in the hey happened to my poor, surely busted up phone.  I usually set it in a drawer on my nightstand where I keep all kinds of things (aaaall kinds of things--curious now?) and thought I'd somehow bashed it in my sleep-fumbling during the night?? Anyway, here you go: 

First of all, it was expertly done. Second, again, i was out of it and in a daze. But third, Sean isn't much of a prankster. He rarely plays jokes on us even though we are constantly teasing and playing jokes on him.  And even more bewildering is that apparently he's a prank WIZARD.  He came up with so many things so quickly, I was a bit astonished and declared him gifted at this. Who knew?  Who knew.  He got me good here. It was kind of embarrassing, but I applaud.

 Julian loved it all.  A friend of mine said on the Facebook, "turns out april fool's day jokes are my kids' love language" and I have to agree.  Making people believe believable and false things isn't super fun to me.  But stupid crap like this IS, and it made for a nice break from whatever this is we're all living right now.  I especially loved giving the kid who is rolling with all of this way too well, a nice reason to laugh and have some silly fun. 

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Best Disney Song Ever

Well, it's Sunday today.  And on this day of rest, I'd like to share a project I've been vigorously working on this week.  A few years ago, Sean and I were on a plane and came across a Disney song bracket thing that helps you whittle down all the Disney sounds to the very best one, according to you. It was in an Entertainment Weekly and it engrossed our attention for much of the time.  I admit I think I knew before which one I would pick but I tried to be neutral in all my decisions and it was a very interesting and at times difficult bracket to fill out. I mean, as brackets go. I've thought a lot about it since then and recently, I found it again online. I hope I've found an image that is high enough resolution to see it ok but I encourage you to print this, fill it out with loved ones and see what conclusion you come to.

If it's not, see if you can search for it and find a good one. It's definitely worth your time and attention.  And, here is my answer, in case you were curious:

Special thanks to Julian for being AMAZING.

I have shared this with several friends and challenged them to a lip sync battle and do the same to you. But at the very least, filling out the chart is super fun and just the right kind of brain power required during this weird and wacky time.  

Good luck! Report back with your answer. 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020


Since the total and complete upheaval of the human race (privileged exaggeration), some things have changed.  The structure of lives has changed, routines, schedules, plans. Work, school, travel.  Everything at what feels like a complete standstill.  But other things too-- previously held concepts of time have changed, our views of the world, of humanity, has changed.  Our perception of our own existence, perhaps. How we find a sense of purpose, our identities, perhaps, have changed.  The passing of time.  How we anticipate things. Our sense of being able to predict is all skewampus, to put it in technical terms. So many huge changes with closures and cancellations and constantly changing statistics and news were taking place at such a crazy rapid rate, it behooved us to stop being so surprised, to try to roll with whatever madness befell us, so that after a bit, nothing felt normal, or stable, or predictable.  Going through my phone and deleting things off my calendar felt equal parts weird and also awesome.  But lately I'm finding I need to have something to plan for.  Things to schedule so that one day looks different from the next.  So I've started scheduling silly things in my calendar.  For example, tonight is "nerf battle."  Been looking forward to it all day.

All of it is so disorienting, it feels like an enormous, extremely weird re-start.  Someone hit the re-start button and instead of being as it was, we're living a strange alternative existence.  How many times did I say or hear the phrase, "It's so weird" through the course of these past couple of weeks, or during one week, one day??  And are we really only one week two of this quarantine?  Feels like a million years ago. It's so weird.

For a while there, I was pretty stressed. Anxious. Trying to grapple.  Losing my gee dee mind, you might say.  And then with the earthquake where I read WAY too may things, was involved in way too many group texts with all the panic, it really sent me into quite a tailspin which sent me right over to the frigging gas station to fill up our car "just in case"(??) and there were LINES of other crazy, panicky people doing the same.   It can feel like too much. So mentally, we have to take breaks. Check out, stop reading things, stop thinking about it, watch silly movies, read fluffy books.  Every time it's a nice day and I can go out and even chat with people, it all feels so much weirder because I forget for a minute that it's real.  But I cannot shake the looming feeling that something is coming and all I can do is sit home and wait for it.  Being that Lord of the Rings applies to every aspect of my life, this scene has popped into my head on more than one occasion, feeling particularly apropos:

But we are adapting and are extremely fortunate in our situation. Sean continues to work from home as he's been doing, so that was a non-thing.  We have access to supplies and medicine and basically everything.  Julian still has an ugly cough so we're being extra cautious for his compromised lungs.  But this new way of being is very doable for us.  Doing school at home is going well and once again I am grateful for my one child.  We are figuring out the new system and I'm already seeing some real benefits to it.  We've got a schedule and though I've never really been a big scheduler, I'm seeing Julian take to it extremely well.  He's a good little self-starter and having some structure is a good thing, turns out. It's a good distraction from that pesky fear of the unknown always loitering on the doorstep of my psyche.

One of my favorite things to think about in all of this is what people "stress-do."   The things we do to cope with high amounts of stress.  That first little while was pretty stressful and though it's waned a bit, it's not totally gone, of course.  I stress about things but then I have to decide not to because stress = bad. But it'll show up again, as is normal, of course, in life pre-virus and now.  So, one might stress-eat to cope.  Or stress-clean.  I do both of those things.  Food has taken on a whole new identity/hit a new level in my life, even more than before I mean, which I didn't think possible.  Often I will say, "I just want to eat food."  And Sean will agree.  It's got a big presence.  For Pi Day, I stress-baked a pie and we all stress-ate it.  I really stress-ate it though, days later, when I finished it right out of the pan because who even cares anymore.  I don't regret it. 

As mentioned, I also stress-bake.  During those first few days of ultimate panic and meltdown, I stress-baked some cookies and then basically flung them at my neighbors and shouted, "Hey! I stress-baked some cookies! Don't worry, I have no symptoms..YET..  enjoy! Blahh!! BYE!" 

I also stress-clean.  I'm not a deep-cleaner. Like I'm not cleaning things I normally wouldn't (yet) but I definitely start cleaning something when I'm feeling the stress. It gives me a sense of control which, isn't that what it's all about?

I also stress-write.  I knew this already, always having fled to my journal whenever something big or difficult or emotional or really, anything was happening in my life.  But I was struck this time around, how helpful it was for me.  Nothing was helping me feel better except writing.  It was a way for me to process, cope, deal, and get out ALL the stuff so I didn't have to carry so much of it anymore. Plus I just feel this constant compulsion to document.  I stress-journal and I also stress-write letters.  I have pulled out my non-electric typewriter so I have to pound those keys and it's strangely therapeutic.  I love it.  I'm sending out the weirdest letters to people.  Thanks for being part of my therapy, everyone.

My friend says she stress-talks.  On the Marco Polo, an app saving all our lives right now,  she mentioned this and I laughed.  She also mentioned stress-organizing or stress-project-planning.  This is Sean.  He stress-builds.  He and I ran to IKEA and bought tons of stuff for Julian's room, which needed a makeover.  And then in one night he literally hack-sawed the metal legs off Julian's loft bed so it was shorter because he wasn't using the space below for anything other than storing his junk. He also removed an old shelf, built the new one, put books in it, then we moved up a big desk that wasn't being used, and we set Julian up for school with laptop, desk lamp, jar of pencils, a pencil sharpener, aaaall the good desk things.  Organizing and building, taking care of projects, is Sean's coping mechanism and I concede it felt good to do that.   One day though, I had to declare, "I'm NOT a busy body! I do not need to be busy all the time!!"  because it was one thing right after another and I needed to jump off that crazy train.  That was last Saturday, when the blessed sun was shining, and I made Sean stop doing five million things at once and come out and sit in the sun with me.

So what do you stress-do?  Please share, and good luck to you, whoever you are, wherever you are. To be continued, of course, because obviously I also stress-blog.