Swimming tonight was fun. We saw teenagers from our ward-they allowed Carolina to ruck it up and played with her to the point that she asked me if any one of them could babysit her sometime. They made her feel like the most hilarious thing since grilled cheese (ok, not the best parallel...) And Adrianna...she made an exciting break through learning to swim. For the past few days she has jumped from the stairs to my arms at a safe distance "swimming." She often wants me to come closer in and I try to push her comfort zone as much as possible. Well she got brave and put her face in and swam to me. Typical to a beginner she didn't have much of any movement propelling her forward. Her body was crooked and she wasn't orchestrating arms and legs together but she had some float to her "stroke" keeping her near the top and was kicking and made it to me. It was so exciting to see her do that. She felt just on top of the world with this great accomplishment. It gave her the confidence to do a perfect back float for about 5 seconds, too. She wanted to try everything she could think of to prove she could swim and was suddenly able to do more than she thought she could. It was the most beautiful swim I had ever seen. Recently I read a book on teaching your baby to swim by Virginia Hunt Newman who taught the first baby, Mary Frances Crosby to pass the beginner American Red Cross test. It was very helpful. Before I had been approaching teaching the kids from the view I had been trained to do which is often an older kid. Instead I learned some redirection to teach a child or a baby enough "swimming" skills to save their life if needed. In other words, doggie paddle and any kind ofr propulsion forward is good enough. This backbone feels like a more natural way to teach, more effective skills can be built upon later. Seeing Adrianna's peak in confidence confirms to me that this is the way to go. She is more willing to try other things now that she has seen some results. You should have seen that ear to ear smile and glow in that little girl's face. I am going to go hug her.
Rainbow started out buckled in the red wagon with sad, leaning wheels. Her smiles compensated for its lack. Down the sidewalk we trotted. Adrianna brought toys including Jerry and her elephant. Moses had plastic zebra and elephant. The toys had a mean mom, I overheard. She was really bratty. We stopped at the library to get the last summer reading program stamped. They scored awesome T-shirts for their reading and listening labors which they left behind at the kids school as our next stop was registering Moses for kindergarten. Easy come, easy go... Moses offically a kindergartener and Sunny a second grader. Mrs Baker said to say hi to her (lucky Sunny was invited to go to the zoo with Kierie today). Rainbow mopped up the freshly polished linoleum at the school while I filled out paperwork all the while making friends with the custodian (is that the politically correct term, how is that so much better than 'janitor.'), the principal, a lady with a cast and the neatest scooter walker I had ever seen. Moses and Anna met a guinea pig and played at a desk in the hall. Adrianna was reprimanded by the southern principal for running in the halls. I brought the wrong shot record so its not really official. Moses made Rainbow laugh harder than he ever has before. She "hougs"him tight. What a guy. He'll make a fine kindergartener.
At dusk Carolina, Moses, Adrianna and I walked to the library to return my ghastly overdue books. We talked about the day, about the new backpacks and school supplies, Adrianna swiveled in her new skirt (just a little too big) hugging her hips and I noticed she was wearing two different sandals. By now it was dark. We went to the park anyway and headed to the tennis court which was illuminated by lights. Two young women were playing a casual game of tennis and bantering the ball and exchanging reasons why he was not a good boyfriend. They let the kids play with one of their balls and we created our own version of tennis on the opposite side. Carolina wanted to be her own team. There weren't too many rules unless you did something wrong. Then we played goblins and ghosts on the playground equipment. Lying down atop the twisty slide in silence, still close to Adrianna and Moses (they got a little scared when Carolina's counting was up and she transformed into Goblin, it was dark, mind you) and looked up at the stars. Little specks of light. Reverse chocolate chip cookies. I learned I was not allowed to grab a Goblin because they are like a ghost-your arm just goes right through them...Funny think was, MY arm didn't actually just go through this Goblin-I decided not to press the issue further. It was nine, the witching hour and thus the fun had to end. We walked home and now they are sleeping, all except for a certain Goblin who reads late into the night.
We have planned to go to the beach all summer and haven't made it yet. Rainbow has never seen the ocean in her nearly 11 months of life. So Monday was our scheduled, absolute, definite day we were going to the coast! But then...Recording of The Subterranean Howl's second album, "The Tyranny of the Visual" has been in full swing for the last few weeks and Monday happened to be a day where two band members had the day off from work, and I am headed to a beach trip this weekend with church friends so it is imperative for Eli to cram as much recording in as possible before I take off etc...So much to the dismay of the darlings we changed the day yet again to Tuesday, today. Picnic vittles-check. Ice-check. Enough diapers-check. Extra clothes-check. All systems ago. Alarm set. We awake in the morning and think to check the coastal weather forecast. Chance of showers 60 degrees. Wednesday's temperature is ten degrees warmer....We considered postponing and came to a compromise. So as not to upset our careful balance of other appointments Wednesday and more importantly these fragile, hopeful hearts we pack in the car and head to Rooster Rock by the Colombia River. Rumor has it going east leads to more sun. As we arrive there are hints of rain and a gray cast. We check our options along the rocky shore hoping for a patch of sand, head to the left (the opposite direction) of the "Clothing Optional" portion. As an aside, the nicest portion is reserved for the weirdos who feel so burdened by a measly piece of fabric called shorts, ruining the possibility for morally discerning families the enjoyment of this portion. Hoping to add some cinnamon to the search and long walk for a suitable spot I sing, "Going on a Tiger hunt, I'm not scared, got my lunch by my side and my camera, too. Comin' to some tall grass...Gotta get through it...." No eye contact made and I could sense the groanings of Carolina and her lack of appreciation for my musical prowess. In my defense it did look like a grassy safari trek. Then a random sign tells us beyond this point clothing is optional. What? So much for this way being safe. Eli investigated to see if there were people there. Unfortunately the report was true so we turned around giving limited information and answers to the kids. Turned around, headed toward wooden pillars and a dike we balanced the whole strip. Moses jumped/fell off just before it got too dangerous to jump. Eli hoisted him to safety and to the end we went hoping again for sand at the end. There was plently of squishy, silty mud instead. I nursed a tired Rainbow who fell asleep in my arms for a cat nap while Eli took the Adventure Crew into the mud. I loved seeing their enlightened forms charge to nature, where they belong. Holding Rainbow still I heard many things: a small, steady rattle sound. I think it was a cricket. A flock of crows squack and fly low, the batting of their hollow wings, wind sorting the grass and tendering particles of sand. The wooden pillars as a backdrop, green erratic grasses and boulders formed in my minds eye a decent composition. I slowly stretched to my camera disturbing Rainbow a bit so I settle back to home base so as nopt to wake her. This composition must be painted only in my mind for now. The gang comes back ready for peanut butter crackers and juice, whetting their appetites for lunch. Adrianna protests the long journey back to the playground and grassy park area. Her shoes are muddy. "I'm uhsausted! I need help Mudder." Rainbow enjoys a pear, some yogurt, a raw carrot. At first I took it away assuming it to be too hard but she keeps kinding it so persistance serves her well and she enjoys its teething qualities for awhile. Moses takes his granola bar to go, in motion on the swing. When we get home he tells me he didn't eat much. I ask him why and he says he was just having too much fun to eat. Sunny and Moses' work on their frizbee skills with Eli. Rainbow sings a sobbing, sweet sorrowful tune of not enough sleep. The kids ask to go back into the water. Swimsuits on and ready the sun is breaking and sharing its smiles on my spirit. Suddenly free-spirited adventure crew and sunshine unite to convince me this is a good idea. The mud was so squishy and wonderful. Wet and shlunky it made the most satisfying sound when you pulled your foot out. Mud splattered on my leg. Adrianna and I dance and spin "like ballet" she interprets. The pools are surprisingly sun-kissed and the flat and shallow water extends for quite a while. It was sooooo fun! Rainbow was quick to note all the fun we seemed to be having and insisted she be allowed to participate. She kicked in the water and splashed and stirred her hands. Ate some silty sand. A few times-she didn't catch on that it wasn't good the first time and wouldn't be so great the next time. Happy sounds. Sunny roamed as far as she could pushing the boundaries of her freedom. Oh how that girl loves to be free. Sunny found a small peninsula and the trio began to make two mud jellos-which I overheard Sunny say they were best when they were 'plump.' So, if you ever make mud jello, you'll know.
Sunny Carolina adorned in shades of violet and saphire (make-up done by co-conspirator and friend with broken arm:Rhoyah Johnson) pleads "Can we play dress-up?" I say "Uh, I don't know...(thinking of the aftermath souffle of sequins, sashes and puffy-sleeves) Ok but remember to be modest" The girls shriek with glee. Moses thinks they disn't hear my tail comment, "Ok, Sunny? Be modest!" As they slam the door to the transformed dressing room Moses expounds, explaining his understanding of modesty. He implies he's kind of uncomfortable talking abour it...but says he knows its about 'boobs' They don't really look nice. They look weird, when girls are a grown up." Thankfully, to Moses they come out fully modest with the introduction, "Hollywood!" Carolina has pink-shimmer rimmed shades, purple-tulle skirt, hair parted ever so artisitically, my black leather heel dress boots, Rhoyah has a recycled costume with a rich heritage passed worn by many starry-eyed imaginative engenues, a blazer and ratted hair straight out of a B 80's movie. Modest, yes. Conservative, not so much.
Adrianna called me "Mudder" several times today. My name is usually Mom, Mama or Mommy or babe, depending on who's hollering...But 'mother,' never. She called me mother when we were floating down the current stream in the pool, "Mudder, hold my hand" as she tip toe bobbed with the waves just barely tall enough to keep her head above water. I must remind her to keep her mouth closed as she gags on the water. While she floated on the pink turtle board-apparently it is named "Tortellini." I caught her intentionally slurping up the water while floating on Tortellini-and also mind you she told me just a few minutes earlier, she was goin' bafroom-yes in the pool. So she drinks pool water, I eat floor cookies (when nobody's watching)-and I will let you draw your own parallel conclusions about how much 'p' is in our 'ool.' Come on, don't tell me you've never done it.
After church on Sunday I went back to my families pew to gather up our belongings (i.e stuff the clean cloth diapers, dirty tissues, package of strewn about Crayolas back into my purse-by the way I have officially decided I will not carry a 'diaper bag' anymore. Whatever receptacle contains diapers or relations therein must be in resemblance of a purse.) So-purse packed. I glance under the bench once more and to the side of the far wooden leg I see something. To interject, I am hungry. I ate cookies for breakfast and it is going on 4:00. So the something, it is a crispy, lone chocolate teddy graham. My flight instinct was to pick it up and eat it. It was not ours, we had not caught our neighbors savoring such chocolate morsels either. Quite likely it was a week old and missed by the clean up volunteers. Oh, sure what SHOULD have been foremost in my mind...it was on the floor. Nah, didn't care. The sweet buzz of chocolate crisped flour was all that motivated my pathetic excuse for a soul. A force pulled me back. It felt physical but I am convinced it was spiritual. I was at church, remember. I sat up and allowed a moment for the blood to disperse from my fuzzy head. Perhaps I had just had a vision. What do to now. I did what I had to do. I touched Eli's arm, pulled his ear towards my lips and relayed to him the occurence that had just taken place. I told him of The Force I had just felt. That Force was Eli's presence. The sole reason I did not partake of that chocolate teddy graham was that I knew Eli would be appalled. Then I asked him, "What does that say about me?" He shook his head and repeated twice, "That you need me." And so I do.