Feb 24, 2009

Paradise, part II

More pics in what is sure to become an increasingly boring series for everyone but me and my mom!

Rocks are very serious business in a child's world. I believe Michael was quizzing Grace on which was the largest, the smallest, the darkest, etc.

Clearly pleased with herself for many, many reasons.

Flying in the orchard. I can no longer lift her this way, which renders me somewhat inferior in her eyes.

Three generations of dirty blonds.

The male bonding going on here will forever remain a mystery to me. It has something to do with being in the Navy, knowing how to fix things with tools, and a profound appreciation for things that blow up.

Mirror, mirror.

Smart. Funny. Sarcastic. Kind. Generous. Moody. Strong. Needy. Bitchy. Loving. Argumentative. Independent. Short-tempered. Capable. Lazy. Always right. I could go on, but you get the point. Who am I describing? Me, of course, or at least a combination of who I believe I am and what I've been told I am — not always consistent, clearly. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I'm also describing Michael (who I will continue to ambiguously refer to as my "roommate" because I like to keep things interesting). I always subscribed to the notion that opposites attract, but that hasn't worked out so well for me in the past. But put two people together in the same house who share so many strengths AND weaknesses, and stand back. When we're on the same page? Bliss. When we're not? Let's just say we both fight to win, like pit bulls, and it can get ugly.

My mom recently sent me an email to the effect that God doesn't send you the people you want in your life; he sends you the people you need. I'm not sure God had much to do with plunking Michael and me in each other's lives, but the last few months have been illuminating. The things about him that drive me the most crazy are things that I easily see in myself, but wish weren't there. So our arguments usually end up going something like this:

"God, I hate it when you do that."
"You do the same thing ALL THE TIME!"
"I don't do anything ALL THE TIME. Why do you always generalize? And we were talking about you, not me."
"Of course we were. Again."
"Oh, so I'm the one who's always complaining? Please."
"I didn't say that."
"But that's what you meant."
"Now you can read my mind?"

And so on. It's not much fun (or very original, I know) when it's happening, but afterwards I'm struck by the humor in it, and the fact that it presents a very real opportunity for personal growth. Already, I feel myself tempering those nasty tendencies I have, because now I know how they make people feel. My tone is a bit softer; I'm less defensive; I stop and ask myself if something is worth getting angry about. I don't know that Michael will notice, but I hope Grace does, because she's such a sponge right now and HOLY CRAP I don't want her growing up like me! We're all working on using our friendly voices even when we're upset, which sounds totally goofy but is more difficult than I expected. Name calling is verboten. Saying "I love you" is mandatory. Going to bed angry? We're still working on that one.

Feb 18, 2009

A weekend in paradise.

We took a long weekend to visit my parents, and I have a ridiculous number of pictures I must share so that my proud mommy head doesn't explode. Here are just a few for now. My parents' place in Sequim is magical for Grace, and she was adamant about not leaving. And then she was asleep once we'd been on the road for five minutes.

Oh, and check out the top right corner over there. BUY MY BOOK!

She did this on her own. On Valentine's Day. Seriously.

Curious little bugger...

All she found was a spider web.

I cannot begin to count my mom's windchimes, and Grace must touch and listen to all within reach.

Regarding that last post...

After fielding several phone calls from friends making sure I wasn't referring to them, let me say this: if you read my blog and care enough to call, YOU ARE NOT A FRINGE FRIEND! In fact, I love you all. So there.

Our final round of mediation was yesterday, and this morning I slammed my forehead on the edge of the dining room table while cleaning up after Grace's breakfast. When I removed the ice pack and asked "It's not bleeding, is it?", I saw a look on Michael's face that I can't quite describe. What does this have to do with the divorce? For starters, the head wound was more pleasant than yesterday's meeting. More disturbing is the fact that I probably could have used a stitch or two but didn't even consider going to the ER because I can't afford it. Divorcing a man on whom I was financially dependent, during a recession and a longer-than-expected period of unemployment, and watching my savings dwindle away while I make mortgage payments on a house I will clearly need to sell as soon as possible JUST ISN'T FUN ANYMORE. But for some reason I ended up laughing more than usual today (possibly the blow to the head), and I can't wait to get through this transition and see what's waiting for me on the other side. I'm done with limbo; it's been almost a year. I want to settle down and have a nice, normal, boring life.

To that end, I plan to become a bestselling author, since no one appears to need a finance manager or software developer, or even an overqualified administrative assistant. So let me direct your attention to the upper left corner and make a suggestion: buy my book, love it, and tell everyone you know about it. I'll be launching a full-on publicity blitz in the next couple of weeks, so keep your fingers crossed for me — and in the meantime, give me your money! I promise you won't be disappointed.

Feb 10, 2009

It's not contagious.

Unlike every other affliction this season, divorce cannot, by any form of contact, be spread from one couple to another. While my good friends understand this, I've noticed a strange phenomenon among those I consider fringe friends. They seem to avoid me, as if my change in marital status has caused them to wonder if they ever really knew me. Maybe they feel awkward inviting a single to socialize with a bunch of couples. Or there's always the possibility that my married girlfriends who don't know me well are afraid I'm suddenly ON THE PROWL and will go after their men. (This could not be further from the truth, but I've gotten the evil eye at parties from more than one woman whose husband is talking to me.) Since they were never close friends, I'm not losing sleep over it, but I suppose my wittle feelings are hurt. Poor me.

Cute kids...

When I began this blog, I emailed friends and family to let them know I'd be posting pictures of Grace from time to time. (I did this because I am lazy, and I was tired of emailing photos to each person individually.) I also promised to keep the rambling to a minimum, but because I am a writer I broke that promise almost immediately. I love to write, and blogging helped me feel connected and gave me a medium in which to vent my frustrations and share my joys of parenting (in that order, it turns out). Now I feel as though I've reached a plateau, where my frustration and joy remain at fairly constant, unremarkable levels. I suspect that's because Grace is older and more predictable, or maybe I've finally hit upon the correct combination of mood stabilizers. Either way, Grace is old enough that I feel she deserves some privacy, especially while she's making the transition from toddler to little girl, and from a two-parent household to a two-household parenting situation.

All dressed up for a birthday party. Yup, those are tights, and we wrestled for about fifteen minutes before I prevailed.

A corner of one's own. (That photo above her is my first dog, Dutchie.)

Feb 1, 2009

The house that Grace built.

Grace, my little three-and-a-half-year-old kamikaze, designed and built this today, which resulted in a conversation between me and my roommate that went something like this: (I tweaked it a bit for the photo.)

"Did you do that?"
"No. Did you?"
"Seriously, did you do it?"
"No. I think Grace did."
"Come on. DID YOU DO IT?"
"Laurel, I swear I didn't do it."
"Did you help her?"

New and improved

Thanks to an old high school friend, Jeff Strauss, and a buddy of his at work, my book cover has been vastly improved. (Go ahead, judge the whole book by it!)

That's the nifty thing about asking for help — sometimes people surprise me by going out of their way to do something nice just because. I'm not crazy about asking for help; in fact, it makes me so uncomfortable I usually just don't. My experience with this book project hasn't done much to change that, mostly because I've gotten responses that run the gamut from people completely ignoring my requests, to those who are downright rude, or barely civil, or kind but too busy, or grudgingly helpful — to that wonderful species who are genuinely pleased to do a favor for someone they don't know or haven't seen in years. It's possible the latter outnumber the former, and I hope I've let them know how much I appreciate their help, support and encouragement, and that I'll have the presence of mind to do the same for others if given the opportunity. (Although, in all honesty, if I ever find great success as an author, I'm pretty sure it won't take long for me to forget the little people. What? I kid.)

I'm pushing for an early February release. I'll keep you posted.