Nov 5, 2010

Halloween II

The earliest Halloween I can remember, I was no more than five, since I remember my neighborhood and friends before we moved during kindergarten. I had a bag of candy, we always used pillow cases, and I ate all I wanted and stuffed my lunch box with candy and by day three it was all gone. I had a friend, same name as me, who claimed to still have Halloween candy 6 months later.

Last year was the first Halloween we took the kids trick or treating. I love Halloween. By November 1st the kids didn't remember or maybe didn't realize they had any candy left and stopped asking for it (I think we allowed them each 3 pieces Halloween night) and they didn't get much anyway because they were so spooked and moved so slow. Anyway, again, by day three the candy was gone, Jerry and I ate it all.

This Halloween we are in a DuPont Circle hotel in DC. Jerry and I have been watching slasher movies on cable for days. The house cleaners had the kids' costumes in a bag destined for the dumpster, but I rescued them anyway. Like last year, the kids dress up in whatever I scrounged up from this and that. Since we are within walking distance, since the neighborhood is crawling with homes and kids, since the streets are full of fall leaves, we cruise Georgetown Halloween night. God, what did these people do to get so much money? I couldn't help but stare past the door and the person holding the door, past the candy bowl, and into these prosperous homes. The beauty compels me. (I have to mention that my mom and I and then Jerry and I climbed the infamous M Street steps in Georgetown made famous by the Exorcist and Alfred Hitchcock.)

Tsega as giraffe hybrid, Sira as lion king hybrid, Bereket as the 4 eared puppy dog.

The sun shone when we started in our costumes, so, needless to say, people smiled and laughed as they passed on the streets. This made Tsega nervous, he asks, why are they laughing to me? Funny he cares, since lately they think everybody on the street wants to be entertained by them. Waving, greeting, gesturing, posing, posturing, performing. I am the one in front with the face, looking back and shouting, avoiding eye contact. I'm not exaggerating. I feel bad because I can't control my kids very well, they frighten me on the street (danger! danger!), then a stranger shoots me an engaging smile, means to say through a glance, You've just made my day by exposing to me the cutest damn kids, perhaps triplets, at least twins, that I have ever seen. And that winning smile and bright eyes meet my unattractive grimace. My mouth cracks to smile.

Anyway, Day five after Halloween. Hell of a lot of candy left. Contemplating throwing it away. Kids demanding candy candy candy, crying, insulted, injustice. Unlike my mother, I take their candy bag, hide it, eat it, Jerry eats it, I pretend there's none left, Jerry and I pass each other pieces behind their backs, make loud noises as I tear a wrapper off. I can't keep eating this stuff. They can't keep eating this stuff. Maybe I'll donate it to the hotel lobby. I think it's faded from memory by now, anyway, I just tell them it's all gone now. I love Halloween. Like, spooky.

Oct 22, 2010


So, Cindy, how is your second month in DC going?

Well, haha, the row house adjacent to ours burned to the ground, our house suffered heavy smoke and soot damage, we're staying in a hotel for about a month, and our dog died of smoke inhalation. Other than that, swell!

Fire. It is late morning, we are all out, except our 2 dogs, Louie and Clementine, and cat Annie. I return to find the street blocked off and full of fire engines. I am walking in a heavy downpour with my heart leaping at my throat and down to my feet, barely sheltered by a ridiculously broken neon-green umbrella, sure that it is my house in danger. No, it is the adjacent row house to the west, we are the lucky ones. I am home just after the fire is extinguished and Clementine is dead on the back porch and Louie and Annie missing. The whole scene, made more depressing by the heavy muddy rain, was a mess. I remember slipping in the mud, in flip flops, as I made my way to Clementine's body.

House. Our house was filled with impossible black smoke something awful. The adjacent house is a dismal, total loss. She, with no insurance, is left with next to nothing. The singed shell of bricks sits boarded up. Our house is a rental and thanks to renter insurance, pros are cleaning our belongings along with the house, and while some things are lost, we'll be OK (except for perhaps the constant drift of smoke smell from next door, surely a health hazard).

Clementine. The fire fighters did all they could to get the dogs out. The smoke was real bad and both dogs were barking and fighting for their lives at the back door. The crew gave oxygen to both but Clementine died anyway. They tell me Louie was pretty bad too but he revived then ran away. When I arrived a marshal gently showed me Clemmy's body and I just cried. I felt so bad for her. The smoke was so bad even the inside of the microwave was black.

I had Clementine for about 11 years. Got her as an older puppy from the shelter. A red coonhound. God she was an awful puppy. Nearly couldn't potty train her. Tore up a new couch and the front seats of my car. I was often asked, Why are your front seats blue and your back seats tan? Always running off, terrible on a leash, baying at everybody, scaring people, although she couldn't hurt a fly. She followed her nose always. She wasn't much a better adult dog, but she was gentle and mine, and I loved her. In Kansas she and Louie ran that countryside like no dog ever did. At first we tried to contain her, but as long as we received no complaints, we let her and Louie do as they pleased to make them happy. I figured if she got shot or ran over, at least she lived a long dreamy dog's life. And she did. Rest in peace Clemmy. Get that rabbit. Will I really never hear that coonhound howl again?

Louie. Soon after Jerry came home to join me, we found Louie cowering under the shed out back. We never truly claimed Louie as our own. He showed up one day and wouldn't leave, so we let him stay on because he fell so hard for Clem. She eventually came around to him too. Physically he is fine since the fire. But that scrappy funny dog is so sad and serious now. He is clinging to us and we are clinging back. I never felt so sorry for a dog before and since the kids our pets have lost a lot of status with us. But we feel his pain and he has instantly risen in significance with us. Now I don't want to go out without him. My heart swells for this silly little sad dog.

Annie. I couldn't remember if she was in the house or not, nobody had spotted a cat. That evening we were back in the house looking for something and suddenly as if nothing happened she scampers on her little squirrel feet across the kitchen floor. Geez, cats are so resilient. I don't believe she is affected at all by the fire. Gotta love a cat.

Kids. They were in school at the time. We picked them up and told them everything and showed them the house before moving on. There were some tears and Bereket was pretty scared when we approached the house. But they are resilient too and doing amazingly well. We're commuting to and from school right now in our van, so we may be a bit messy and our homework missing or sloppy, but they're pretty happy through it all. They tell everybody in that unintelligible preschooler way they have, Our house is broken and Clementine died.

The what-ifs. Plague the imagination with horrifying drama. What if . . . the neighbors were home and didn't make it out. . . or the fire happened at night as we slept or when Jerry was in Nepal and my mom was sleeping in the basement (the worst of the smoke was in there) . . . What if I was home and got stuck downstairs trying to get the dogs out, or our house burnt down too? What if I was home and got the G-damn dogs out???

All in all, tis only a minor curse for us, obviously it could have been so much worse.

The following are happy images albeit bad smart phone quality (camera temporarily out for restorartion):


A moment of peace. The boys are maniacs on the metro.

Clementine (right) with pal Louie before furniture.

Most likely, a multiple time out in public and ineffective.

A little wild in the city.

Still this beautiful.

Sep 29, 2010

In the City

We still like to play in the dirt outside, pretend to be Pinocchio, make goofy faces, and freeze in bizarre poses in the middle of a busy sidewalk. Or wear a dress. Or hop around on all fours barking. You might have seen us exit the ice cream store playing dog. (Don't go in there if you fear the same may happen to your kids.)

We wear uniforms to school. And spend insane amounts of time in Pre-K. Monday thru Friday 8:40 until 3:10. They're only four and always over tired after school and hate walking the three or four blocks home. Naps at home have ceased for the most part. It's cool having all this time to myself, but I think it's too much. They're so little! At school, tongue lashings are not uncommon, which is new for me. I mean, I yell at home all the time, but I'm not used to seeing other people -- preschool teachers, staff -- raise their voice or use harsh tones. Luckily its balanced with sugary sweet personnel as well. And really, the boys' language and comprehension are again exploding. Oh, and we get homework too. Sigh. I didn't sign up for big kids . . . not yet. DC public neighborhood schools are, allegedly, among the worst in the country. Interesting times . . . I feel inspired to do something . . . what?

I moved my kids and they did just fine . . . this we heard a lot. Yeah, but I think you forgot kids also have hair triggers and throw a bobby pin into their world, unravel their knowns, and the crying, oh the crying, the tantrumming, peak at alarming rates. I heard myself say yesterday, time to call in the shrink. Sira is beyond crazy and cracks up all the time and always gets Bereket into it. I love a funny kid, but they are impossible to parent at these times. I think my parenting act is a disaster lately. I do see light ... somewhere down the hill. Deep breaths.

We miss home, we miss old teachers and baby sitters. But we are also having a blast in the city. We love our skinny little house, friendly quiet neighborhood, and I feel a huge unburdening of guilt that my kids' skin color is now the majority in our community. I do love the city and the country will be that much sweeter and DC has amazing urban parks with native vegetation and creeks. Except now . . . you're really going to feel sorry for me . . . baby sitters are hard to find still and charge outrageous fees. The chance of Jerry and I getting a night out alone -- and God do we need one -- are not looking good at the moment. Ah hell, he's in Nepal right now anyway. So I'm moaning a little inside and repeating a favorite phrase in our house, what about me? Me needs a long walk in the woods with the dogs and start dancing again . . . work comes later. Easy to do! Lucky mama overall!

Sep 19, 2010

We're here

The loudest family on the block settled into their new DC home. Our volume penetrates this kind and gentle neighborhood. These country people stand out. Who brings hound dogs to the city? The boys are in school, pre K, 5 days a week, all day until 3:15, integrated into a big kid public school. What. Your kids are in a local public DC school, oh God, they make movies about these very schools, yet they are singing and talking more than ever. There is not one single white kid in school (preschool - 8th grade), some Hispanics, a little bit of Ethiopians, and the rest AA which reflects our immediate neighbourhood.

The boys' charm is catching. Some older girls were calling Corbin Bleu one morning as I dropped them off. Dork, I had to goggle him. Very hot.

Despite bad insect bites - I mean, what are those things biting me - $70 in parking tickets, yeah, forget the car, sunburns, heat and dripping humidity, horrible triplet moments, and rare nastiness, we have experienced incredible kindness from our community and the district. DC is laid back, full of color, kind, happy, with beautiful people and endless rockin AA hair.

Readers, bare with me. I'm still living off a smart phone -ewww she's gone mobile - but soon this site will back and running and full of detail antics and gorgeous. I miss you ...

Aug 11, 2010

Three Little Days

In 3 little days we and 3 little boys move from Kansas to Washington DC.

Jerry and I thought our roots were here. We built our house and planted trees and a garden. Three wild grape vines have taken over parts of our fence. The Kentucky coffee trees are huge now. I planted a rose bush that never did much, except there were 3 plump roses just blossomed on the day we received our adoption referral. Drops of my sweat are sealed into the wood stain. Jerry killed his back with drywall. But in 3 days we leave behind a house empty of people. I think it will sag with silence and neglect.

We leave a house, but it's still ours. We leave our jobs, but they'll be here. I leave my career temporarily (temporarily!) to stay home, Jerry begins again with the Feds. For one year we are city people in the Nation's capitol. Who knows after that . . . a return to home base? Stay? Off to another adventure?

It's a mixed bag. Excitement, romance, melancholy, wonderment. We're up for anything . . . I'll miss my dance classes, my little community of friends, co-workers and even acquaintances, and the biggest loss, our yard -- the place where wild things run free -- but surly I will find replacements. And thank you gods, we found a row house with a decently sized fenced in yard (a few midnight panic attacks -- kids, dogs, cats, no yard, no freakin way -- focused my house hunting energies!) and our new community is a place of groove and racially rich. May the gods be with us and the dollar thrive.

Jul 23, 2010

Two thirds

I once wrote a lengthy blog post on the identical pair's relationship with each other vs each one with fraternal brother Tsega. At the time, although I was noticing the blossoming of identical twinisms between the pair, something that was not apparent during infancy and early toddler hood, such as shuffling together in step, there did not appear to be a tighter bond than what each had with Tsega. Indeed, when the babies began moving about more Bereket considered any brotherly contact antagonizing (see that blog post here). Yet blogging often cast spells and no sooner had my post hit the net when things changed.

Example. This morning Bereket climbed into my bed to find Sira and Tsega sleeping. He climbs next to Sira and starts patting and kissing him and whispering alien nonsense in his ears. He'd never do that to Tsega. Sometimes the pair gain up on Tsega. Poor little dude. He is at times a bit of an outsider to Bereket-Sira. So different than his identical brothers (yet he is the spitting image of his first mother) but prefers to be my little shadow. But they protect him too. They make sure he gets his share: What about Tsega? If they see him drifting apart during our walks, or getting too close to the oxbow that lines our driveway, because he loves to throw rocks down there, they get nervous and cry for him.

There is so much sameness between the "twins", such a profound connection, it's spooky. Even down to that funky toenail, which, BTW, Sira noticed for the first time the other day. He was pointing to it, telling me that he has no nail. But you do, I tell him, it's just a little funky, Bereket has it too, right on the same toe. Come here Bereket, show Sira. Then they studied their toenails seriously before hopping off together into trouble. (FYI, it's not that noticeable and not gross or anything . . . it just looks different than the rest of his toenails, kind of curved). They have the cutest feet and toes.

Anyway, so, yeah, they are definitely a tight bond. Yet Bereket is such an easy going, confident babe for long time now (not so during the teen months), and Sira . . . everything is I don't like or I'm scared of. He may even melt to the floor while proclaiming, I don't like anything! During rough spots I still get his 37 pound body into a sling which soothes his soul like nothing else can.

Tangent. These guys are obviously engrossed by something on video. Lately we started ending our day with the Grinch cartoon just before bedtime because bedtime has seen some heavy resistance. (Yeah, another example of my sloppy parenting.) They crack up and then go to bed like a dream. Last night they were mumbling the verse along with the narrator Boris Karloff. Sometimes they ask me to sing the Whoville carol before bed. Yeah, you got me on the lyrics. Da-hoo, ra-hoo, fa-hoo, la-hoo, something something Christmas time.

Jul 22, 2010


We are loving the scooters. They're easy to ride and the boys look ultra cool. And they ride silently, no loud rolling sounds. I see skateboards in their future. I sort of have a soft spot in my heart for skateboard kids since they remind me so much of my small years during the 70s in Southern Calififornia and all the big kids in their OP pants and groovy feathered hair riding the streets. (If you haven't seen the documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys, get it -- the doc, not the movie based on the doc.) I wanted a big bad skateboard like my brothers but my parents got me this sick girly one (thanks guys!). But the skate kids scare me a little too since the ones around here, although adorable and fascinating, look like trouble (as if I was such a wholesome brat!). I'm a sucker for grace and moving the body as art. Guess it's rubbed off on the boys . . . they love to get funky.

Jul 19, 2010


Wild things, fashionistas, models.

Here Sira is wearing a leopard print jumper layered with a tiger's mask hairband and a draping men's shirt. Notice the complexity of textures and the seamless flow from fitted to relaxed like a super heroic angel.

That was Sira's funky dance. He does it a lot.

Here we have a matching set.

The outfit is not complete without clay feet.

Tsega, always in a state of wardrobe distress -- the kid changes costume a hundred times a day -- is not pictured probably because he is nekked.

Wild Things

Whooping in the rain.

Double Rainbows.

We have about another month to enjoy our secluded piece of nature where wild things run free, naked, or dressed in costume.

Jul 14, 2010

Dot and line

The fabulous triplets had their four year wellness check up. I had two separate appointments since we couldn't fit in three at once and they are too crazy together in the appointment room anyway. Those little rooms, doctor, nurse, me, triplets boys . . . hell no. Our old pedi retired early and unexpectedly. I am sure our appointments accelerated her departure.

Tsega cannot keep his hands off the stethoscopes. I mean I tell him no, the doc tells him no, and he just can't stop. That is so Tsega. He once broke a picture off the wall there. He did that in a hotel room too (not to mention broke off the closet door during the same trip, although aided by his brothers). And he giggled wildly during the exam, so ticklish.

Sira and Bereket leaped around the room on all fours and barked. I wonder if mine are the only boys who love going to the doctor? They ask all the time to go. I gots owie, I need to go to the doctor! Even after a couple of nasty shots and some tears, they still asked to go back.

Anyway, all is well. And . . . drum roll please . . . what about those two shorties? Bereket, for the first time in his history, got a dot on a line on the height chart!!! He is officially in the 5th percentile for height! Sira just missed it by being almost an inch shorter. He is also about a pound lighter which oddly enough put him like tons behind Bereket on the weight chart. Both have always had a decent standing on the weight charts. Honestly, I don't know how Sira keeps weight on since he eats next to nothing at lunch and dinner. Indeed, he gets a pedi-sure now and then.

Tsega is smack in the middle for height (and he looks so tall to my eyes) and 90% for weight! All have lost many baby rolls in the last year and all are rock solid rippling with muscles. It's the Oromo in them.

Jul 12, 2010


Here they are snuggled in their beds. Fancy beds. They still sleep on their crib mattresses.

Sira now sleeps in Bereket's bed. I see he has Bereket's beloved "little pillow".

At first Bereket refused a bed mate, but seeing how upset Sira was to sleep alone in the dark, he invited him in. Now this is the way we put the two to bed. Of course we can't leave the odd man out, so Tsega's bed moved closer. Ohhh, the small years in the dark of night. A monster lurks . . .

Here they are snuggled in mom and dad's bed.

These two always find a way to be close.

Dad on couch because if all three end up here during the night, which isn't uncommon this summer, somebody's got to give it up (I find a pattern in the bad to contort my body more easily than Jerry). FYI, Sira and Bereket snore really loud. Funny, we just had our 4 year well check up and the doctor handed us some papers and on one, it said your child should always sleep in his own bed. Why?

Run away

Sira, your feelings were hurt, as they often are, you are sensitive, over small things I don't remember what. You were beat. I watched your little body saunter slowly down the long rocky driveway, shoulders rounded, head down. Your bare feet shuffling up dust. You're wearing nothing but little boy underwear, backwards, the elastic stretched out. A mouse mask is around your shoulder. What a bitter sweet site. My little boy is running away. I catch up with you, hold your warm body, say soft things. We pick flowers in the meadow for Grandma Di before turning back home. The world is alright again. Until we return and envy cries out. One by one I take each brother back to the meadow to pick more flowers. The world is good. Now can we eat?

Jul 8, 2010

Future pole vaulter

He loves animals, flowers, rivers, and princesses. But he is strong as an ox and throws his grace around like a cannonball. Picture it. My little dude tried pole vaulting, that is propelling himself down to the floor from on top of a stool, not with pole in hand (the end of a broom handle horsey, that is), but with pole in mouth. Gag, literally, gag. He's OK but his uvula is feeling it. I think he might have at least knocked a little sense down his throat? (Jerry who was so kind to make dinner while mama was out -- something he does 99% of the time anyway -- caught him in the act mid-air.)

Ewwww, really gross!

Jun 30, 2010

Jaden - Tsega

More hair, more kicks, more fame and we have twins. I am just a wee bit infatuated with Will Smith's son in that motherly way. He is, after all, almost as cute as Tsega.

Call me a sucker for a cute kid with grace and flexibility, but I liked Karate Kid.

Jun 23, 2010

Happy Happy Happy Birthday Birthday Birthday ! ! !

Since I cannot fathom they have aged so rapidly (four!, wait, they were just months old like yesterday!), since two were naked this morning before work, since one was still in the pink dress he slept in, and since we all suffered severe bed-head, I can only post baby pictures. Besides, we're keeping it on the down low until Saturday so we can spend the whole day eating cake, riding new scooters, running through sprinklers, and basking in birthday glow. Four, wow, the gateway age to becoming men.

Don't you wish you were like Billy Pilgrim in Slaughterhouse Five?

"I am a Tralfamadorian, seeing all time as you might see a stretch of the Rocky Mountains. All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is."

"If what Billy Pilgrim learned from the Tralfamadorians is true, that we will all live forever, no matter how dead we may sometimes seem to be, I am not overjoyed. Still--if I am going to spend eternity visiting this moment and that, I'm grateful that so many of those moments are nice."

What I wouldn't give to flit in and out of the past and smell and see all that I remember. I will always cherish the smell of sweat mixed with sour milk.

Happy Birthday, beautiful babies.