Monday, October 30, 2006

Why Why Why?

The hardest part about moving has been explaining to people that I am perfectly aware I am moving my little toddler-children into a two-bedroom house with no yard and smack dab in the jumbled-up zoning-free center of the fourth largest city in the U.S.

Yes, two bedrooms. By modern housing standards, they are small; the master bedroom is 14'x17' and the second bedroom is about 10'x12'. If we really need to find more space we could always convert the garage, but that's not likely. What small bedrooms mean is that we can't buy large furniture or hoard a decade's worth of clothing in our closets. When we tell each other good night we won't have to yell from one wing of the house to the other. Isn't all that a good thing? Anyway, is a master suite, children's suite, and gameroom/loft the size of Belgium actually necessary? In fact, should we even pretend that the spacious McMansion of American dreams is a mainstream expectation when a significant fraction of this city's population will go to bed hungry tonight, with siblings, parents, and grandparents crammed into a dark one- or two-bedroom apartment?
And are Carmen and David better off if they grow up assuming that they must have those American essentials--bedroom, television, bathroom--of their very own when one of the most common complaints of the 21st-century modern society is the family that has grown distant despite living under the same roof?

The other benefits of the neighborhood outweigh the fact that we'll have to share bathrooms and not all have bedrooms to entertain friends. (Instead, there's the living room with 18' of floor-to-ceiling windows, a breezy balcony, or funky private patio screaming for strings of Christmas lights and a DJ.) We'll be able to walk places, like school, the library, the grocery store. We'll have a diversity of friends and learning resources at our fingertips.

And parks. Lots of parks. When they are through worrying about the bedrooms, people worry about the fact that I have no yard at the new place. But I can't hide my delight. A 1/4 acre plot of St. Augustine grass is one of the most boring, understimulating, all-around awful constructions of the 20th century. "But where," people ask, "will the babies play?" Let me put it in writing that the neighborhood kids on Carvel, where we are moving from, rarely play in their backyards. Instead, they play on the street, making my car the end zone. Or they beg their parents to take them to the park, where they don't have to worry about kicking balls over fences, or breaking windows with softballs that weren't, after all, so soft. So what's the big deal about all that fenced-in grass, anyway? So when C&D need to
climb and holler like monkeys, or run and dance like colts, we can walk to a park and meet some new monkey-friends, or drive out to the country where we can run past the pastures and sink our hands in the loose dirt the chickens scratched for us.

Underneath these arguments is a deeper sense of reasoning that I don't discuss much because some things are just too hard to talk about in polite company. But it's this: We're really
doing an experiement, I guess, trying to live city-style in a so-called city that's really one big suburb. Call, it, maybe, "city lite." By walking more and driving less, relying on public spaces like parks rather than our own private ones, and living closer to several sources for local, organic, and/or sustainably-grown food, we'll be better able to live more consciously, and show C&D that there is a better way than living in Houston's newest housing development, shopping according to the advertisements at the Super-Duper MegaMart and spending a significant part of their lifespan on the freeway while their buttocks mold to the seat of the minivan. The new place will rely 100% on wind power for a source of energy, and some minor modifications should easily make the new house more energy-efficient. We hope that C&D will learn that by buying an existing house with no yard, we are preserving, someplace, 1/4 acre of parkland or pasture or Big Thicket forest or rich loamy cropland above a Brazos river bottom. We hope that when C&D look back at growing up in the funky grey house they'll proudly consider themselves a kind of urban pioneer, settling in the city to avoid the exurban landscape of concrete and TruGreen Chemlawns, and doing our part in the day-to-day to ultimately create more of what we really want: cleaner air, greener spaces, wilder places.

To David and Carmen

Good Morning!!! "precious babies!!" I was thinking
about you this morning in music class with Dad and
Mommy with the movers. I was thinking about the
"Hokey Pokey" dance we learned on Saturday with me.
You learned it so well, you could probably show your
music teacher how to do the "Hokey Pokey". It was so
much fun being with you over the weekend; the singing,
the dancing, the reading, and the lunch, and picking
up toys so "we can eat" and "nack time" were all fun.
And before Grandpa and I left, we did one last "Hokey
Pokey" dance and then as we were leaving, David, you
made us laugh when you said to Grandpa, "Bye Pokey".

In fact, we laughed and played all the time. Grandpa
worked so hard on painting the new house, we wanted it
to be pretty.
I was thinking about your nap time today in the "new
house". Hope it went well.

Keep dancing and laughing.

Love you mucho,

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Moving Day

Tomorrow we move to the new house, newly painted and cleaned by my parents, and then babyproofed and carpeted my Matt (the floors are mostly quarry tile, painted concrete, and pine). And I got to play general contractor while my mom took a turn at baby-wrangling.

I'm going to miss our little house, the house that we bought because it was cheaper than rent and halfway between Sugar Land and Rice. I'm going to miss our neighbors, our breezy screened porch, and the sound of the wind blowing through the trees in our shady backyard. I'm going to miss my happy little spots of ruellia and Gulf Coast muhly, now cotton-candy pink, and my azaleas, and the little bluestem that rustled when the wind blew. I'm going to miss my red maple, the one that dropped its leaves at all the wrong times, and the American Holly that we bought at Teas Nursery last Christmas. I'm going to miss the massive (does Matt do anything small?) bird feeder that Matt built and placed outside my window so I could watch the birds (but mostly squirrels) while I studied, and the blue dining room that grown-ups hated but kids loved. I'm going to miss the hardwood floors Matt and I refinished ourselves, although I won't miss the squeaks.

With a slide and a bouncy layer of rubber mulch in the patio, a fresh coat of pretty green paint (Aloe Essence, the card said), and some friendly new rugs, the new place is already feeling like ours.

But I'm still a little bit sad. That's okay, I think.

Even though we've been so busy, C&D have had plenty of time to make us all laugh, laugh, laugh. Maybe if I work hard I can get some pictures and videos posted soon. They are the Cutest Babies in the World. (Say what you want about toddlers or kids, but C&D are babies. In fact, they'll be my babies until forever, maybe longer.)

DSL will go down later tonight; we should be back online by Tuesday or Wednesday, when I've found a place to put the 'puter and keyboard.

Friday, October 13, 2006


Packing, Big Thicket annual meeting tomorrow (Cong. Brady showing up, and lots of other people, besides), C&D have both battled colds and the resultant sleepless nights, I strained my back, and this week visited every store in the Galleria area to find the Perfect Shirt to wear with my Perfect suit. Oh, and, right, I had to buy shoes. (I didn't want to visit every store in the Gallera area to do this. I hate buying shoes. So instead of dealing with the usual shoe-shoe foo-foo, I drove to one store off Post Oak, explained what I needed, and just handed over my credit card. At least that one thing was relatively easy.)

So, with so much to do, I am probably a little distracted. It maybe shouldn't be suprising, then, for you to find out that today after finally finding the Perfect Shirt (and Perfect Choker and Perfect Earrings) I inhaled dinner and for dessert ate an entire Chinese fortune cookie. Yes, the entire cookie. I ate my fortune. Sometime mid-chew I realized that there was something, ah, particular in my mouth, and extracted a piece of partially-dissolved, entirely masticated paper. I tried to retrieve my fortune, but, alas, it was long gone.

So now I have to go back to Shanghai Joe's and get another cookie. Fine by me. I like fortune cookies, and I like Shanghai Joe's. And, anyway, the sushi chef said she missed the babies and wanted to see them. I'll pick up another cookie when we swing by, maybe as soon as next week.

So tomorrow we present to the community the report that I edited, and I also get to do my quarterly treasurerly things. Since C&D don't know how to attend a day-long meeting, they are staying home with Matt (who does know how to attend a day-long meeting; don''t want to imply he doesn't). Tomorrow night we'll all kick our shoes off, collapse in a heap, and swap stories.

Great pictures lately. I'll post them when I can.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Mess by Any Other Name . . .

is not the same. Today, right before bed, David opened the hall closet and pulled out an old tube of Christmas wrapping paper. He unrolled it and the house quickly filled with the loud crinkle of paper while I cleaned up the last remnants of dinner. Within a few minutes I found C&D walking over the paper, by this time unrolled like a red carpet through the entire length of the kitchen. Crackle, crackle, four feet marched up and down on the paper. Carmen was saying something as she marched . . . and I eventually made it out to be "oh-de-brish," or, in English, "over the bridge." She was marching on a paper bridge. I didn't have the heart, especially after hearing that, to put the paper away so I left it out a little while longer.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Can't Resist

I'm supposed to be busy. I'm supposed to be listing the rest of my things on eBay, and checking on my Craigslist responses for the things I have posted there to sell. But I had to post here, first.

Yesterday someone came to pick up our deep freeze. You don't need a deep freeze when you take your babies to Whole Foods two-plus times per week because they like going there as much as the park. And if somebody cooed and oohed and gave you free cookies and fruit and juice everytime you went to the grocery store, wouldn't you be there just as often?

Carmen and David watched as our new friend backed his truck up to the garage, loaded the freezer, and then waved goodbye. Except that David didn't just wave goodbye,
he did this:
and this:
and this:

That's my boy!

Matt says that he does this all the time. I guess I've never noticed, because I'm generally on the other side of the door. Now I know why I have to clean that glass so often. I thought I was just cleaning handprints. But maybe now instead of cleaning it twice a week, I should clean it twice per day?

I also wonder who else has received such a lovely adieu. Perhaps I should attach a sign to the door, along with the "Shhh, knock quietly" sign. It would read something like, "We do not assume liability for any mistakes, misstatements, falsehood, or squashed, drooly faces in the statements, opinions, representations, and anything else from the little people in this house. Anything they say or do, especially if it is embarrassing, but not necessarily if it is brilliant, is neither endorsed by this family nor does it necessarily reflect our beliefs. Especially the embarrassing parts."