Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Six years of him

We moved out of our downtown condo and into the second of what may be a long succession of temporary homes over the weekend.  As you can see, the children did not make the move easy but it did eventually happen.

Now we live in Tiny Cottage.  Tiny Cottage is just a few blocks from The Goddamn House.  We can now walk past The GD House regularly and throw rocks at it, give it the middle finger, swear at it -- you know, the normal stuff you do to something you love.

(There is no progress on the purchase of The Goddamn House.  We need the ex-wife to sign some things and she doesn't feel like signing things right now.  I kind of don't feel like not smacking her upside the head, either.)

Tiny Cottage

Living in Tiny Cottage has put us within a few blocks of some of our best friends.  It's also an easy walk to anything we could ever want, such as bars and restaurants and tattoo parlors.  Seattle Mom and I walked to the local hipster bar Saturday night.  Hipsters are funny in their plaid pants and thick-rimmed glasses, derby hats and ironic piercings.  I bet you didn't know a piercing could be ironic but Seattle hipsters can make it happen.


Seattle Mom and I had too good of a time and got home late.  Alex got up with the kids the next morning so I could sleep in.  He thoughtfully closed the big, beautiful pocket door to the bedroom to give me a better chance of being left alone by little people (our kids, not the other kind).
Our tiny cottage is a turn-of-the-century house with some quirky old house features.  For instance, you can't open the drawer of the bathroom built-in if the bathroom door is closed because it hits the doorknob.

So quirky

The exterior doors have old-fashioned keyholes that are completely open to the outside so we had to stuff them with paper towels to cut the draft --

So silly

But most important, another quirky feature of the house is once the big beautiful pocket door to the bedroom is closed, it is impossible to open again --


I was stuck in the bedroom for a long, long time.

When yelling didn't work, I called Alex on his cell.  I said, "Come get me. I can't get out of the bedroom" and he said, "My God, you're a disaster."  We eventually shimmied the door open;  the secret is to push on the upper right side as you pull on the handle.  Of course, you need the wing span of a pterodactyl to do this alone, so I'm just going to go with "let's never close that damn door again."

Yesterday was Lucien's 6th birthday and me being the fantastic mom I am, I didn't take any pictures of him.  The only picture I took was of his dinosaur birthday balloon in the dining room.  I am the worst.

where's the kid?

In my defense, I was distracted because I had to attend Lucien's classroom birthday party and it was a high pressure situation.  I was instructed by the teacher to show up in the class with cookies, juice, napkins, Lucien's favorite book, and some music.  It made me nervous because it was so different from our school in Paris, where they instructed me to bring nothing, absolutely nothing, stay the hell away from school on celebration day, hippie. 

It was my job to read Lucien's favorite dinosaur book to the class while the teacher set cookies and juice on all the desks.  When I first sat down in front of all those bright blinkie eyes with my book, I felt icy cold fear.  Kids are very good bullshit detectors.  Would they know I didn't know what the hell I was doing?  That I'd never entertained a large group of children before?  Could they sense my fear?  Would they turn on me like angry chimps?  (The answer is no but it looked iffy for a second when little Miles raised a suspicious eyebrow.) 

The book-reading was chaotic because Lucien couldn't contain his excitement and jumped up to share what he knew about every dinosaur I mentioned.  Several other boys were also dinosaur experts so they talked over each other to add their thoughts and hypotheses to the mix.  One little boy believes dinosaurs became extinct because they ate some bad burritos.  I wonder what happened at that kid's house recently...*shudder*

Coco, for some reason -- either excitement or a grave balance problem -- couldn't stay in her chair to save her life.  She kept falling over backwards and landing with a loud THUD.  I reached over and picked her up without skipping a word, all while keeping Lucien on an even keel and fielding questions from his classmates like "Would that dinosaur eat french fries?" and "Lucien's Mommy, can I go do poo-poo?"

The teacher told me afterward it was the most impressive multitasking she'd seen from a parent during birthday story hour.  I gave her a feeble thumbs-up from the floor, where I'd fallen after finishing the final paragraph about fossil formation.

No time to rest, though, because then came the dancing and I was the DJ.  The teacher asked me to play a "dance song" and of course I played some Korn followed by some Marilyn Manson.  Dancing time was vocabulary time, too!

(I actually played Laurie Berkner and it was as lame as it sounds)

(P.S. If you've never danced with a classroom full of kindergarteners, you really haven't lived.  It was the cutest thing I've ever been afraid of but ultimately enjoyed)

Lucien's class then presented him with a book of drawings of all his favorite things.  I really liked this one --

 It's an herbivore dinosaur eating a macaroni and cheese tree

After school, Lucien, Ms. Cokes and I took cupcakes to his friends who live on the same street as The GD House.  I think we really pleased our friends when we dropped off cupcakes right before dinner, thus instigating horrific struggles between parents and their children who wanted to eat cupcakes RIGHT. NOW.  Sorry about those migraines, friends.

While delivering cupcakes, we got pulled into a spontaneous dinner at a friend's house.  That's why we want The GD House.  When you're just walking down the street and someone suddenly offers you delicious food, you know it's where you need to live.

Lucien's birthday party is this weekend.  Maybe I'll remember to take some pictures of that.  Until then, here's a picture of Lucien getting on the school bus for the very first time, just this morning.  It's blurry because I was verklempt.  It hasn't been six of the easiest years on record, but man, I love that kid.

bye-bye, buddy

May you discover a most excellent dinosaur skeleton someday, crazy little six-year old son,


  1. Hi MJ! Over here it's It's morningtimetogettheboyandgirlonthebus time! Perhaps you're there on the upper left coast polishing off the last glass of celebratory "He made it past 6!" wine, and to that I say "Happy Mom's Day MJ."

    All the best,
    Mr. Staying Positive

    1. Thanks, Mr. Staying Positive. You bet there were a couple glasses of wine polished off, as there have been on many an occasion since this kid was born. We used to suspect he was put on earth to destroy us slowly but nah -- he's just a high maintenance, though thoroughly loveable, kid.

      You guys still doing well over there? Hugs to all the Staying Positives!

  2. Do working mothers go in and take over the class for their child's birthday?

    1. Hi Sarah. No worries -- kids whose parents can't make it in (often happens) are still celebrated in the same obnoxious, high maintenance way. All the above mentioned items get sent to school in a bag that weighs as much as the kid, and a couple teachers lead the party.

      Have heard of a few dads taking lunch breaks to go in and do it. Would've paid cash money to see Alex at the front of that class...and the dancing, my God, the dancing...

  3. Happy birthday, Loosh!:)

    That cottage is very cute!:) God, I hope you get the GD House! This is ridiculous! Doesn't the ex-wife want money from the sale?!

    Your description of Lucien's classroom brought me back to my kindergarten teaching years in Korea and Finland...:) How did I survive that, I wonder?;)

    To answer your question from the previous comment section, I'm not sad about leaving in a few months... after all, it's The Hague I'm leaving and not Paris!;) And my husband hates the climate here and feels very isolated (he works from home...). Besides, I'm working full-time and doing a Master's part-time while preparing for a Spanish language exam in May and a UN competition in June, so when I get home, I'll probably be barely breathing anyway;) It'll be great going home. The hubby will be happier and I'll have more time to do my stuff since my work schedule is a lot my flexible back there. But I'm sure that as the time comes closer, I'll feel a twinge or two;)I think that knowing that we're only going home for a few years before leaving again makes all the difference in the world.

    1. Duchesse! Hello, woman! Since the GD House is a short sale, there will be no proceeds from the sale. It's being sold at a lower price than the monies owed on it, all monies raised go to the mortgage and lien holders. It's a mess, terrible procedure that rarely succeeds and yet here we are.

      But the ex-wife WOULD get some cash, because one of the liens is for child support. It's been negotiated down and she would get the cash that's been agreed upon. But she's gotta work with us to get it. I guess her hatred for her former spouse is overruling cold cash money. Aren't people just disasters...

      I'm glad you're happy to return home (albeit for just a few years?) I can't wait to hear what you think when you're there. Feels like putting on an old pair of slippers. You're like, "Well hello there, old friend...."

  4. Replies
    1. Jenn, The Loosh says thank you. And he loves dinosaurs.

  5. Happy birthday to the Loosh.....sounds like he's doing fine in his new school....quite the elaborate birthday party ar school...what do working mom's do?

    Love the quirky cottage

    Bonne journee

    1. Hi Debbie! Lucien is thriving in school. Thriving, and happy, and is no longer saying "I'm the bad kid." I loved Paris for a million reasons - Lucien's school experience was not one of them. He was never, ever going to fit in at that school!

      I love the quirky cottage, too. Maybe the owners will let us buy it from them and we can live here forever. I'll ask.

      Bonne journee, Debbie!

  6. and just thinkink of you getting verklempt makes me verklempt the back shot of him climbing thase stairs (with what looks like a new backpack)-...and to think he was only 3 when we first "met"...good luck with the party!

    1. Awww, G, look at us getting all verklempt together. Crazy I've been blogging for three years and a few of you have been with us all that time. You're watching him grow up, too, though from a safe and much calmer distance. Smart.

      Thanks much, G.

  7. "Wonder what happened at that kid's house..." - fricken peeing my pants, girl.

    I'm guessing Alex letting you sleep in means he's forgiven for succumbing to Man Flu :)

    There are no temporary homes, MJ, only temporary houses. Paris, Seattle, apartments, tiny cottages... home is where the heart is and honey you've got a bloody huge thumper. The love you have for your kids, hell for life in general, is a joy to share and makes me do this :D

    As for what working mothers do, they read dinosaur books and play Korn... right?

    1. Well hello there, Bec. Alex is forgiven for now -- until the next illness hits and he does it all over again.

      With all our moving around, we're getting very good at settling in immediately. This most recent move didn't phase us much. The kids were like, "New house again. Cool." and got right back to livin'. Maybe we'll become gypsies.

      I'm happy to have you along for the ride, Bec. You crack me right up. too.

  8. Cute little cottage.

    Happy Birthday wishes to the Loosh.

    Working mothers send in store bought cookies or cupcakes and try to avoid the teachers eyes when she tells her she can't possibly be there on the that day because she will be out of the country on business. The child (now 39) and I are still in therapy.

    1. Tara! Thanks for the birthday wishes. Lucien is feeling the blog love.

      Hope that therapy is working out for you and the daughter. Do you think things would have been THAT different if you'd played a horrible song in her Kindergarten class and danced like an ass? What you did is probably more respectable than what I did. Tell her that at your next joint therapy session.

      Thanks for stopping by, Tara!

  9. I hate to be a wet blanket on the GD house situation, but, as a real estate agent of 20 years' standing, I can tell you that if you're expecting an ex-wife to sign something, you may be in for a long wait. I have ceased to be astounded at how illogical people can be when it comes to parting with real estate. And when that's combined with an ex-partner who has a say-so in the process, the difficulties are quadrupled. And if the ex-wife is involved, you're also dealing with an owner who hasn't gotten his shit together. He should have gotten his wife off the deed as part of the divorce agreement.

    Sorry. Keep plugging away, but I wouldn't be too optimistic.

    1. Yo ABF. No one knows what a shot in the dark this house is more than we do! Don't know if you caught my first post about it, but it's a short sale on top of everything, and I think they have about a 99.9999999% failure rate so ...yeah, we know. But we've got to see it through until we're told there's no way in hell we're getting it. Gotta say we put up the best fight we could!

      (And ex-wife claims she IS off the deed. Has submitted her divorce decree staying she's got nothin' to do with the GD House. We'll see what happens next. It's like a really, really painful and stupid game.)

      We're plugging, and remain optimistic, because otherwise there would be no point to doing it.

      And I like your name, Arlington Big Fish.

  10. Hmmmmm....concerning your hipster bar experience, it looks like it might have been "Twilight" when you "Left" that bar...


    If so, the Ethiopian grocery next door was robbed the next night (Sunday).

    Moral of Story: Avoid Ethiopian grocery stores when they are being robbed.

    1. Gosh, Michael, look at you talking the crazy talk. (Was it the light fixtures?)

      Anyway, whatever you're talking about, your advice about avoiding things while they're being robbed is very sound, and I will obey.

      Ciao, Mr. Strangeways.

    2. It was the blurry hipster decor and the smell of unwashed flannel.

  11. Love the cottage. I wonder if it's haunted...

    1. I thought the cottage was haunted earlier because I kept hearing a banging sound but then I realized it was the trash can outside being rammed into the house thanks to our current strong winds. Phew. But darn, no ghost blog material.

  12. I laughed so hard at this -- "One little boy believes dinosaurs became extinct because they ate some bad burritos." -- that after I finished changing my big girl panties, I had no choice to tell everyone on my Twitter & Facebook feeds with a link back to this post. So you'll probably get lots of weird new Francophone readers wondering what they hell they're doing reading a blog about life in Seattle.

    You're welcome. ;)

  13. Wel ~ I just spent a fun 15 minutes reading some of your blog that I stumbled across! You're quite entertaining and look at life in a very entertaining way! I, too, am from Ohio ~ always. I have a son and his family who live in a Seattle suburb and it is absolutely my most favorite place to go ~ Seattle ~ not the suburb ~ although it is beautiful! I love the Market ~ we went the day after Thanksgiving and I loved all the artists and the shoppers and the atmosphere! Enjoy your journey ~ I'll check in again!

  14. Ok, so I know these stories because Im living some of them with you...well living a lot of them with you. But, still Im sitting here crying with laughter (and btw, Im supposed to be out for a run because our men are outside with all the kids). Damn, you are good with words MJ and your take on the everyday occurrences just about makes me piss my pants. Your description in the classroom for the bday, OMG, still laughing. xoxo Seattle Mom.

  15. MJ I read about this and immediately thought of Lucien's love of dinosaurs. This might be something he likes. http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/dinoprints-puts-your-child-on-a-dino-165035

    Happy Birthday Lucien
    Academic Mom

  16. I'm late to the party, but wanted to give the Loosh a huge virtual hug and holla "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!" Please do give him an actual hug from me and tell him it sounds like he had a great 6th. :) I hope he's not all, like, "WHO?" (lol)

    I loved this: "Hipsters are funny in their plaid pants and thick-rimmed glasses, derby hats and ironic piercings. I bet you didn't know a piercing could be ironic but Seattle hipsters can make it happen."

    Ironic piercings, hahaha! I've been watching "Portlandia" which has a lot of NW hippie and hipster irony. Check it out, if you get a chance. :)

    You survived Kindergarten!! Wooo hoooo! You know, reading that reminded me of exactly why I stopped teaching Kindergarten after one year, haha! I still think of the kids I taught though, who turned 14 this past year & will be 15 this year. Time flies. Before you know it, you'll be wishing Lucien a happy 16th at which he will grunt, and say something like "Whatever." Naw, just kidding. Sort of. Hope we get to read an amusing blog about it, though.

    Hugs 'n' junk to you all, m'dear.

  17. 1) Can't you reckinize a prehistoric banana tree?

    2) Can I come clean your house????