Friday, March 30, 2012


Mister. Buckaroo. Little Man. Tiny Chef. Maxxa. Maxi. Maximalian. Bubba. Manchego. Max goes by these names and other ones I can't remember. He's 2 years and almost three months old and he's wearing Zoe's old converse that look just like Zoe's very old converse.

I don't know if I wrote about this before but Max. We called him stubborn, but that was us just trying to be nice. Max was a bit of a screamer. I did mention the "train. train. TRAIN" aspect of him earlier. He does like a cookie. Cookie. COOKIE. When we took his bottle away, he cried "more milk" and made the one sign he knew, the image of a milking a cow all day until his hand hurt. When he finally realized we weren't going to give in, he said fine. No bottles. No milk. He hasn't had a drinkof milk since.

But, sometime around his 2nd birthday I said to Erik and Zoe but mostly myself. "It must be hard, being Max. We're all so used to us be us, and us being us together. Max has his own plans, like trains and cookies, and, when they're not being our plans, we think he's being a stubborn butthead. But maybe we would think that less if, once and awhile, we could appreciate trains and cookies with him. Let Max be Max.

Since then, Max has chilled extremely. Maybe also he has chilled because he can talk. His talking is impressive. He's a bit of a myna bird. He'll say whatever you say. Usually, it's just the end of your sentence. "Max, you want to sit down?" "Sit down." "Can I have the keys." "Keys." "Should Zoe sit down?" "Zoe. Sit." He's a fan of the imperative form. It's fun to try to make him work and say, "delicious" or "inquisitive" or "serendipity." It IS delicious, his serendipitous inquisivity.  He can also very much make his own sentences, which usually take the form of demands: "Mama carry blanket," "Mama, juice." "Mama, I watch George." "Mama, I watch Gummies." "Mama, would you please give me all the TVs, computers, and iPhone in the house and put Curious George and that dumb gummy bear song on and leave me to it?" I hate it when I don't know what he's saying. Today, he said something like "Plate ceelio poon." Which, I finally figured out meant that he would like a(nother) bowl of cereal. On plate. With a spoon. And milk. I gave him cereal in a bowl.
There's something about his being able to talk and my being able to talk to him that makes all the bowls of cereal in the world easier to get.

Today, I took him running. Usually (please don't call Child Protective Services), I get him to stay in the stroller by giving him gummy bears or Skittles. (Let's face it. Skittles was one of his first words. "More" being his first). Today though, I told him that he could walk all the way home if he would just hang in the stroller. Now, I don't know if it was my sweet argument or the fact that he was full from eating 3 bowls of cereal that made him comply, but he sat happily in the stroller until the run was mostly over and we turned toward home. On the walk home, he pointed out every Skittle-sized bit of deer poop. "Poop!" He was so happy. He squatted down to investigate it. I had to say, "goodbye deer poop" for him to move on to the next deposit.

For some reason, the forest was full of garbage today. It has been windy lately. The snow had probably covered some of this up all winter. But the run turned out to be "remove plastic from the forest day." I got the plastic. Max picked up every rock, stick, and dirt clod (not poop, I hope) and asked, "garbage?" The forest would have been very, very clean if we had stayed out there all day.

For lunch, I made Salad Lyonnaise (again. I'm sorry for you who weren't here and for those for whom I've never made it. I'm getting kind of tired of it). Max was my best audience. He loved the bacon. And, Mister I don't eat veg, he loved the salad. And the salad dressing. After lunch, I said, I need to clean up before we go get Z from school. He left me to the dishes while he went in his room, gathered up as much as his little arms could hold from his laundry basked it and carried it to the washing machine. He put down the clothes, opened the door,  stuffed the clothes in and asked, "push button?" Max likes nothing more (well, maybe Skittles and Curious George) than pushing buttons.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Too Much Spring Break

Leaving town just one week after I'd returned from AWP was a crazy idea. But it was a good one too. We packed into the car on Saturday and drove west on I-40. Max watched as the trains choo chooed parallel to us and Zoe asked for more math problems. We ran into friends at the In & Out Burger in Kingman. (Erik's disdain for fast food does not extend to In & Out Burger) on their way to San Francisco. I was glad we weren't going that far. After we left that desert for the Mojave one, we did not stop. Max played Lego's for 1.5 seconds and Zoe ate the broccoli we packed because her disdain for fast food does extend to In & Out Burger. We turned left on California State Road 237 and drove up the back way to our friends' house in Angelus Oaks. We had to stop three times since it was the turnyest of roads and Zoe gets car sick. She lied down on various tree trunks until she felt better and then we drove on.

Our friends met us in the driveway and took us into their sweet house--huge wooden beams, big windows, a big bed with a memory foam pad that for some reason they always let us sleep on. We went to the park adjacent to their son's school and road around on some sort of perpetual motion cars. Max wanted to climb up the rock walls. Mostly, we spent the afternoon keeping Max from falling on his face--the forehead is his favorite crashing spot.

Then we went to dinner at a great Yucatan restaurant. Chile rellenos are my favorite food group--far better than the In &Out Burger burger.

The next day, we drove into the valley. Rebecca was at the hospital all day with her baby so Erik and I hung out with the boys in the backyard. We made pork chops for dinner and red bliss potatoes--all from the CSA/local farms from here. The next day, Rebecca and I went to the hospital for the day while the kids and the husbands went to the beach. The first thing that happened when we walked in was they told Rebecca they were going to extubate the baby the next day. Bek hadn't expected the baby would be removed from the vent for weeks yet. She about fainted, if fainting was something Bek was inclined to do. Instead, she did what Bek does best which is ask every nurse and doctor and respiratory therapist what was good about this, what was dangerous, what were the reasons to worry and what were the  reasons to take good heart. We went to lunch to celebrate. I had steak tartare. It was good, if a little overly cornichon-y. We were happy. We spent the rest of the day with the girl, telling her she could do it.

Erik and I made carne asada for dinner. Not as CSA/local. The steak, the avocado, the tomatoes had probably all come from California, been driven to Flagstaff and then driven back. We did bring them some local (Phoenix) oranges. They weren't that good. Bek called the hospital that night. They were still planning to extubate. As we piled in the car to go back to our hotel (Hotel Angeleno--underneath the Getty Museum, off the 405--not bad), I told Bek that I thought the baby could do it.

And, the next day, as we drove home, she did. She's been off the vent since Tuesday. Today is Thursday. Everyday I send a note telling that girl to keep it up. And she does.

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Max and Zoe and I took Cleo walking in the forest. We painted. We went grocery shopping. We cooked dinner and hung out with Erik's parents. Zoe and I found a full set of dishes at the thrift store for 40 bucks. I have only bought individual plates before. I still have one from Pic & Save that I bought before I left for college. This set came with bowls and cups and saucers and salad plates.
They are white and very matchy. I kept that one from Pic & Save for back up.

Sam came over Friday night for corned beef and hash. Saturday, I tried to reproduce chile rellenos. They were pretty good. Sunday, 19 inches of snow and yet our friends drove over from the other side of town for enchiladas. Monday, an extra day of spring break because the University closed campus for snow, Erik took Max and Z sledding. Max took 4 runs and, after a spray in the face of snow, said, "I done." Z went off a jump and hurt her back on the last ride. Naps for all and the kids were recovered. We went snow shoeing and sledding again later in the day off the gentler her in the forest behind the in-law's house. I cooked for dinner something much like paella that was far more work than it was worth but with my father-in-law's help, much fun.

The return to school yesterday was rough. Department politics and the general sense that the semester should be over by now made it hard to trudge through the snow toward my office. But my students came to visit me in office hours and the essays we read for class were stellar, so I do think I'll make it through these last 7 weeks, especially because we're going camping this weekend with those same friends from Angelus Oaks because it's hot in the desert and there aren't that many chances to actually go places with friends and this town, though lovely in the snow, is returned to winter and I'm 100% ready for spring.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Yes, It IS Spring Break

How it comes at just the right time. Petty department squabbles over course caps, an office floor covered in crumbs from the reheated leftovers eaten at the desk, an inbox full of applications, of theses, of prospective incoming student questions, meeting meeting meeting requests. We travel westerly tomorrow to visit our friends in LA whose baby is in the hospital. Perspective. We also get to visit our friends who live near Big Bear. We're staying in a hotel that is not close to our LA friends. I don't know LA. I'm nervous it's too far from their house. What if it's a hellhole? I should cancel now and stay at the Culver Hotel where all the dwarfs stayed when they were filming Wizard of Oz.  I will go to the Museum of Jurassic Technology, which is right across from the hotel, even if we're not staying in said hotel.

Speaking of hotels, I stayed in the hotel next to the conference hotel for AWP. What a dream. First, it was a very nice hotel. Second, the buzz and drama and anxiety of the book fair did not permeate through 19 floors to agitate me through the night. The whole AWP was good. I saw almost (almost) everyone I hoped to see. I had a great dinner with good friends and a great lunch with Big Bear friend (see her twice in one year, what luck is that?) and great drinks with the whole contingent of Utah grads--1999 until present (some key people keyly missing). It was a large party and I snuck off to the liquor store to store liquor in my purse and pour it not only more cheaply (not the point, really) but more quickly (indeed, the point) than the hotel bar staff could pour.

I must go to AWP Boston but AWP has become something, specifics above notwithstanding, that is a lot like work. AWP is not Spring Break but a good thing to do before Spring Break so you can work a lot at the book fair, at readings, at panels and get home, get all riled up by department squabbles and crumbs and inboxes, and then do something restorative like go to Los Angeles where you hope you can do some good.