Sunday, June 28, 2009

Surviving without Mo

Mo went off to do good deeds last week, leaving her only daughter and only known husband to fend for themselves. We looked in the fridge, saw three slices of hard salami, two packages of Arby's Sauce and a six-pack of forlorn, long-neglected, non-alcoholic beer. We wept.

We looked a Lulu, sized up who would win in a starvation match and surrendered. We called Grandma in for reinforcements. She arrived from Maine just in time. Hope was wearing Scrabble tiles for diapers and bottle caps for hearing aids. In two days, I lost 45 pounds, grew a beard and began delightful conversations with a volleyball I called Wilson. 

Things are tough around here without Mo. 

Actually, her semi-annual, volunteer trip as a camp counselor in Elk Rapids -- I'm sure she's champing at the bit to dish details -- was planned months ago, as was my mother's visit.

Her timing was great. The weather was terrific, the Detroit scandals are in full flower and Hope was in mighty fine spirits. She's doing so much so quickly these days, it's hard to keep score.

Suddenly, our cuddly lap pal needs to move. A few weeks ago, she began to cruise, and now there's no stopping her. She has several hobbies, including a nifty game my mother taught her called "Librarian" that involves scampering from one side of a bookshelf to another and knocking off all the titles except one, David Simon's excellent "The Corner: A Year in the Life of an Inner-City Neighborhood." 

She stops and flips all the pages, either fascinated by the gritty tale of urban decline or the book's spiffy red cover. We call another game "Go Get the Remote Control." It is similar to "Librarian" but involves a remote control, a leather couch and a noticeable lack of detail about the economics of the heroin trade.

Another new hobby is something called "Look at that Beautiful Creature in the Mirror." I taught her that one. It involves staring at the most beautiful creature in the mirror, waving rather coquettishly and coyly, having difficulty containing your excitement, waving your arms in joy and breaking into hysterical laughter. It took me 10 years to perfect the game. Hope has mastered it in a month. Smart cookie.

While Mo did good deeds, we ventured north for a mini-getaway to Michigan's kitschy Little Bavaria for 24 hours of eating chicken dinners and bratwurst, riding in paddle boats, swimming and looking at ourselves in the mirror and laughing with delight.

Great times. Big Mo is back and we are so happy we broke from the revelry to stop at the world's largest Christmas store to buy her a taco ornament with an inscription showing how much we missed her.  It reads, "Big Mo's Taco."

My mom left town on Saturday, and we were all very sad, but we see her in three weeks for another vacation. That makes us so happy we need to head soon to the bookshelf.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Bubble Man

There are moments when you step outside your body, listen to the words leaving your mouth and realize: Holy Tamole, my life has really changed. It went down at work, last Friday, idly chatting about the weekend.

Co-worker X had concert tickets. Co-worker Y was leaving town. Co-worker Z had two parties.

"We're going to see the Bubble Man," I said, as if we were going to the post office.

Blank stares.

"Y'know, the Bubble Man? He's at the Bubble Festival."

The words came so casually, so naturally, so predictably, as though the Bubble Man requires no explanation. Like Cher, only jollier and not quite so cougar-ish. The Bubble Man blows bubbles. Big ones, little ones, funny shaped ones, ones that make you say "ooh" and then "ahh."

The Bubble Man indeed headlined the Bubble Festival in Ann Arbor, a celebration of -- wait for it -- bubbles. We went because Hope likes bubbles. We blow them on the deck. She claps her hands with glee. We blow them some more and Lulu tries to eat them.

So it seemed appropriate that we would make the trek for bubble-mania. We caught the Bubble Man's final show of the weekend, a 20-minute extravaganza of bubbles-within-bubbles, ginormous bubbles, gazillions of tiny bubbles to make Don Ho proud.

Somewhere, there is a handbook of children's entertainers. Buried deep within it, perhaps in Subsection 12, Article 7, there is a mandate: You must wear suspenders and brightly colored T shirts, ponytail optional but strongly recommended. 

It must have been the end of a long weekend for the Bubble Man, who held court at the Hands-On Museum. He flubbed some tricks. His finale popped prematurely. At times, he seemed frustrated, but the Bubble Man is a pro. He soldiered on, to the delight of his tot-sized fans and us. 

Hope seemed to dig the Bubble Man, but enjoyed the museum more, especially its mirrors. Like her old man, her new hobby is staring intently into them, eyeballing the gorgeous specimen on the other side and clapping with delight. Can you blame her?

Thursday, June 11, 2009


It's the kind of thing that can keep you up at night. You flip through magazines. You scour the aisles at Hallmark and your local craft store. You wonder, "Will they like it? Will it be just right?"

You know what I'm talking about (especially moms): What to get your kid's therapists or teachers for an end of the school year gift. I know Heidi from God's Grace in Practice blogged about this a couple weeks ago.

I'm still learning what the etiquette is for all stuff but I figure a small holiday and end-of-the-year present is the least I can do for the important people helping Hope learn to walk and talk. 

Last year, I bought each therapist a small basil plant (I was obsessed with growing herbs in my backyard). This year, I stole an idea from Parents magazine for a homemade pencil holder. It sounds very fourth grade-ish -- paint a tin can, put some colored rubber bands around it along with a nifty name tag on it and you're all good -- but I thought it turned out cute. Joel promptly mocked me when he saw me painting the cans. I know what he WON'T be getting for Father's Day.

Our last days of therapy were Monday and Tuesday and we finished the school year with a big party at school on Wednesday. There were train rides, duck games, and cupcakes galore. Of course, Hope liked the balloons attached to the table centerpiece more than anything else. 

So summer is here again. We won't see Hope's therapists again until September which bums me out in a way but it'll be nice to have a break, too. I'm off to northern Michigan for a week at the end of the month -- I'll post about that later -- and we're all going to Maine for a week in July. In between, I'd love to take Hope camping, dip her toes in her own sandbox, take her for a swing ride and go swimming again (she's only been once -- ever -- in a heated pool at the CdLS Conference in Chicago). 

What are your big summer plans?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Return from exile

Aloha, sports fans:

I've been away from BlogLand for precisely one month, and I gotta be honest: It's not all it's cracked up to be. Reality is spooky! It's hot outside, there's yard work to be neglected and diets to abandon.

Fortunately, Mo filled in superbly in our small corner of the cyber village. OK, more than superbly: Mo rocks this blog thing. Granted, there was a conspicuous absence of Finnish disco dancers and fat men playing xylophones -- and a disturbing proliferation of exclamation points -- but I was entertained, enlightened and impressed. So much so, in fact, that 18 months into this social experiment, we've decided to do what adults would have months ago: Share the blog love. She'll write. I'll write. She'll share feelings. I'll post inappropriate videos of our 19-month-old cherub to the tune of "I Drink Alone." A 1,000-year reign of mirth will ensue.

Perfecto! It's just like the Romper Room preached decades ago: Sharing is fun!