Thursday, March 29, 2007

Spring has sprung

...which means Ella is sick. And staying sick far longer than I want her to. After the parent's meeting at The Cult Monday night, I went home and went to bed, beside the Flipper. I was tired, very tired. But at midnight, a cough from her, followed by the sound of water being poured on the floor from about 8 feet up in the air, caused me to leap out of bed, fully, fully awake. For she was sitting up, calmy, in a flood of puke. Soaked through the sheets, the comforter, the mattress pad, her pj's, etc. The dog just about wet himself with joy, joy that he could help himself to one of her bodily fluids, and about 10 gallons of it at that. I was very very tempted to let him have his way with her and the bed, as he does an incredible job of cleaning up things that are beyond disgusting. Blessedly, she was really calm. I hustled her into the bathroom, stripped her down, stripped the entire bed, re-made it, using my incredible puking kid system, which involves gathering several bath towels and layering them under her head and body. Then, if she throws up again, you tear that one off and toss it in the hamper. Repeat as needed all night long. Clever, no? About an hour later she sat up and said, I don't feel good. I grabbed her and thrust her over the toilet, where she threw up again, just like a grown-up. It was a strange glimpse of, perhaps, college? Then, back to bed. No more puking after that, thank God. Just a fever for the next 3 days, which has kept her out of school and home with my mom and dad. I actually purchased a few DVD's for her to watch at their house, Riverdance and When Dinosaurs Walked, an excellent BBC production. Flipper is very very fascinated by dinosaurs, which I love. It off-sets my loathing of her ballerina/pink-and-purple life. An example of her shallow, materialistic self came the other day when I was with Flipper and her little neighborhood friend. They were blowing on dandelions, making wishes. Her little sweet friend's wish was, I hope the sun comes out and all the flowers bloom and stay happy which sounds like something I would have said in college, high on life and whatever guy I was fucking at the time and endless supplies of LSD. Flipper's wish? I wish for jewels. Great. But there is something about her love of glitter and jewelry that I secretly love, it is so very different from me, something is is truly just her. And in the meantime, there are also dinosaurs. Her favorites are the plant-eaters, although she is very fascinated by seeing the meat-eaters tear their hapless victims limb-from-limb. She loves this, for some reason. As a child, I was so distraught at the thought of anything being inpain, and this included inanimate objects as well, that I couldn't even watch a cheetah take down a gazelle on Wild Kingdom until I was about 12. But the nature red in tooth and claw thing doesn't faze her at all. But enough. Back to work. Or, back to "work."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Morning Person, or not.

I accept (no, really, I do) that Flipper is not my little clone, a Mini-Me of any kind. 99.9% of the time I am beyond happy about it...that she can put down a cookie if she is full, and leave it unfinished (who does that??), that her attention span is longer than a hyperactive 5 year old's (like mine), that she is intensely cute (unlike me) that she already seems to love numbers and manipulating them, again very very far from the writer-of-this-blog-that-could-not-pass Algebra II-and-cheated-shamelessly-through-Algebra I-in-summer school-just-to-graduate from-high school...BUT there exists one area that I wish more than almost anything that she copied directly from me, and that is a happy morning attitude. A very happy morning attitude. Flipper's father and I are Morning People. Annoyingly so. I believe that most people are born morning people or not morning people, yet I never ever thought in a million years I would reproduce a creature that is most decidedly NOT a morning person. Never has been. I can only imagine that she hates me in the morning as much as I dislike her: me with my chipper, been-up-since-6 a.m. and already had 4 cups of coffee attitude, and her, in sheer agony. Nothing makes her happy, no matter how much sleep she has or has not gotten. It is incredibly hard to deal with because while I am patient and kind for oh, about 20 minutes, and then my general goodwill and bonhomie quickly starts wearing thin after the endless tears and whining and refusal to get dressed, eat anything, make a decision...it is, frankly, beyond me. FAR beyond me. And nothing I try or do seems to make any difference, except on the days when she drinks coffee out of her toy china tea pot and tiny tea cup. Or, in reality, sugar with a tiny drop of coffee added to it out of her tiny china tea cup. It works like a charm; like a miracle drug, which I guess it is. But something in me is resistant to letting her start her day with sugar and high-quality, shade-grown, organic bird-safe coffee. The partially recovered party-girl/groupie/druggie fears Flipper inheriting the same tendencies, even at not quite 4 years of age. So I can't decide what to do: let her drink her hot sugar water and get in a better mood, or let her be a caffeine and sugar-free child in the mornings, the way I suspect she should be, and suffer, both of us. How I hope she outgrows this, although, if she keeps up with the morning coffee, she might not keep growing at all!

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Phases (of Hell)

Last night was "delish" as Rose says, a tasty dinner at Carrburritos which was would have been much more fun had Flipper not been in attendance. Her days have been punctuated by endless whining, short-tempered bitchiness, and general, all-around misery. These little spells come and go, something that I finally figured out after almost four years of parenting. But the knowledge that it is some sort of short-lived phase doesn't exactly send me into some blissful Zen state-of- mind, because I know that one irritating phase is usually quickly followed by another.
At this point in time we have two distinctly different yet equally maddening phases in attendance, and I will expound upon them. One is the endless endless whining. I thought nothing would push me closer to the brink of total mayhem than the high-pitched screaming she did as an infant, often when nothing was amiss, but I was mistaken. Very, very mistaken. Because the whining, wheedling she has taken up and perfected is worse. And she is so very, very good at it. Perhaps my most-hated utterance from well-meaning yet clueless people while she was a baby was this, "Sleep when the baby sleeps!" as though there was nothing else pressing for my time: no dogs, no food to prepare, no laundry to do, no housecleaning, no dishes to wash...as though I had nothing to do but grab 30 minute naps every day. The second most annoying maxim is "If you don't give in, they'll stop whining once she figures out it doesn't work!" Again, beyond wrong. She whines fior the same reason any grown-up complains: because it makes her feel better. That's why we bitch and complain about so many things: not because we really believe that things will magically get solved, but becasue it makes us feel better. This knowledge does not make her any easier to listen to.
The other current phase we are in is the Injury Phase. And by "injury" I mean some sort of teeny tiny fleeting stab of pain, you know, something you might feel a million times a day if you get up too fast, stumble, get a paper cut, whatever. But Flipper has yet to learn that these tiny injuries are really not worth the drama. Here is a typical (meaning a 110x a day) event: She runs. Ankle barely turns. Collapses sobbing. Are you OK? (me). "NO!! I runned and it hurted and it went like this..." (reenactment) Are you OK? (me again). "Yes. Can I have a popsicle?" NO. "But it hurted!" Stop crying about it and go play!!!!!!!!!!! This is repeated about ten thousand times. Then comes the begging for the Band-Aid. "I need it." No. You're not bleeding. "But it hurts!!" Then I lock myself in the bathroom.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Timewarp

Yesterday was 65 degrees of heaven. The nice weather and blessedly extended sunshine in the afternoon has led to a distorted sense of time for me. After some casual playground time with my friends adn Flipper's, I had the sense that it was edging on 3 or a little later, which meant it was time to gather the scattered sand toys and uneated snacks, and head for home. I almost fell over when I found out it was 4:30 (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). Shockingly late for us to get home, walk the damn dogs, and think about dinner. Thinking is really just about all I can do in terms of genuine meal preparation these days. It is the ball that gets dropped the most often during a week of juggling frantically. I wish our diet was better, but I also don't think it's all that bad. Some nights are better than others, and things are a lot easier once I gave up the Food Wars with Flipper. Her begging and wheedling is getting to be Oscar-caliber, however. She is a terrible terrible sugar addict, and will do what she can to get some sort of dessert. Some nights we have it, some we don't. She is finally over her hideous cough/fever illness and back at school, albeit really really reluctantly. I rely on her hearty healthy organic snacks at school to fulfill gaps in her diet, with some success. Success is measured by whatever makes me feel less guilty. Guilt is something I have never felt much of until the past 2 years or so. Now it is a constant companion, I wonder if anyone is ever really satisfied with their life as a parent. If they are, they might be too smug for me to be friends with.

Monday, March 19, 2007

No difference

Sadly, there seems to be no real difference between week-days or week-ends anymore. In my past life, B.F. (before Flipper) week-ends were ridiculously lazy: a few minutes of yard or housework, followed by hours of being horizontal, either inside on my huge bed, surrounded by my dogs and trashy novels and magazines, or outside on an ancient and battered mesh lawn chaise I bought for 7.99 from a drugstore. Also surrounded by the dogs and trashy reading material. This consitutes a day in heaven for me. Admittedly, a bit sedentary, but blissful all the same. Those days are over. Now the week-end days feel just as frantic and rushed as the week-days, but a bit harder as I have to watch out for/do things with Flipper all day long. Pretty easy unless the weather sucks. How do people in Minnesota survive all winter with their kids? Or, even worse, Seattle? This week-end was particularly frenetic: office-cleaning, one-time copy-editing job, benefit auction for Flipper's school, housecleaning, dog-walking, and she has been sick, sick enough to nap every day for the first time since she was 2.5, but not sick enough to avoid the trampoline, the new love of her life. Definitely not sick enough to stop endlessly whining, either. We have been replaced by a metal and springy nylon death-trap with a cage-like net around it, which I loathe because I think it is so ugly. I never thought I would have a trampoline, but something compelled me to ask a neighbor with college-aged kids if she was interested in selling it, and for 60.00 it is now ours. Rose loves it, Baby Seamus loves it, Flipper and I love it. I hope her birthday party guests love it too. Rose thrills Flipper to no end with her flips and leaps and mid-air splits. I can see the gymnast she used to be. Flipper is quite in love with Rose, and wants to emulate her as much as possible. So she practices her forward rolls, her mid-air splits, and I know that sooner or later, she will attempt a backflip. Perhaps I should sign the computer-generated waiver that I might get other parents to sign, absolving me of all blame if/when their kids get hurt on it.

Friday, March 16, 2007

The Name Game. WITH RULES.

Let me preface this by stating that I dislike my daughter's real name (no, not Flipper) and have pretty much from the get-go. I expected a boy, which didn't happen, and I didn't have the nerve to name her after my mother (Henrietta) or give her one of the ugly M names that I love: Martha, Matilda, Maude, etc. And a name that felt a little different back in '03 feels and sounds very trendy today. I hate this.
I think my father's greatest fear was that I would give any baby some sort or freaky, hippie-ish name like Sparkling Moonbeam, or name her after some sort of Widespread Panic song. How about it, CONRAD?? My parents love her name, but I think it is mostly relief they feel. Apparently, there are some people out there (OK, many) that need a little professional assistance when it comes to the naming of their offspring, because I am continually shocked at how bad people are at providing a handy moniker for your child for the next, oh, 70 or 80 years. More and more, this thought flits through my head when someone tells me the name of their baby-to-be or newborn: what in God's name were you thinking? Or ARE you thinking? It is not worth lumping celebrities with regular folks, because they don't generally follow the same rules as the rest of us. Plus, celebrity baby names are often just so terribly awful, that it doesn't feel quite sporting to poke fun at their poor children. Except "poor" is something they'll never have to worry about.
It occurred to me, while discussing the potential name "Gais" pronounced Gay-iss, (it is some incredibly obscure reference to some Roman guy that lived about a million years ago)- that people feel the need these days to try too hard. It is some sort of backlash against the multitudes of Jennifers and Lisas that proliferated in the 70's. I mean, don't you have about 50 friends that go by "Jen?" But I digresss. To Gretchen, who brought up the name Gais, mentioned by a neighbor, the name sounds simply like "Gay-Ass." And so we come to rule Number 1: Do not give your children a name that is ripe for teasing. Do not. Spare me any talk that teasing will build character and make them stronger, or quote that dreadful maxim "That which does not kill us only makes us stronger." I propose that the one getting killed will be the parent that names their little boy Gais. This leads right into my next rule: Do not name your child anything that needs some sort of explanation. None of this: "it's a family name" crap, unless it is a family name like Henry. Please, for the love of God, avoid giving your daughter a last name as a first name. It just doesn't work. Again, it requires some sort of explanation from your poor child and makes life hell for her teachers for the 16 or so years she will be in school, dreading that first day when the roll is called. Spare me the Byers, the Bryson, the Mackenzies...dear god, there is a woman out there whose first name is WOOTEN!!! THESE ARE NOT FIRST NAMES. Usually, they are also used incorrectly, in my view, for girls. Please, people, let your girls have a somewhat girly name!! In my town there is actually a girl named Owen. News flash: this is not a girl's name. Not by a long shot. It makes it seem as though you REALLY REALLY wanted a boy all along!! "But we're just honoring her grandfather blah blah blah. Find another way. Or have a boy. If parents continue to steal boy names for girls, the poor little boys won't have any names left!! It is hard to imagine, but just 100 years ago Beverly and Evelyn and Joyce were all boy names. Tracy and Stacy were as well, right up into the 60's. But a subversive movement was already afoot, first disguised by girlifying a boy's name, such as Phyllis or Roberta, but leaving the boy name well enough alone. But now the attack is direct: Owen, Mason, Charlie...these are not girl names. Nor should they be. But don't swing far to the other side, and avoid a name trend that I think is pretty southern: the double name. I hate it. Don't do it.
Rule #3. Do not try to be "creative." Put forth your "creative" energies on making scrapbooks, or your church cookbook instead ofyour poor kid's name. Hey, I'm talking to you, Idiot-Mom who named her kid "Trystyn." Or "Aydyn." You are not setting yourself apart as "creative" you are setting yourself apart as an idiot. An idiot that doesn't know how to spell. Were I to run the world, or, at least, the U.S., I might follow Denmark's example. Believe it or not, when you have a baby in Denmark, you have to select the little creature's name from a government-issued list. It has something like 1200 boy names and 15 oo girl names. I read about this before I mated and reproduced myself, and, like any true American, was horrified at this intrusive government interference into someone's private life. But now, 5 or 6 years later, I'm not so sure. They might really be onto something over there. A list that struck me as small suddenly seems more than adequate. I mean really, how many first names can you readily think of? 200? 300? Plus, I'm guessing Lexus or ESPN didn't make the cut. And I'm not kidding: in our brand-happy, consumerist world, there is some kid out there that has to go through life knowing that his parents could have chosen something-anything- else and didn't. Just so they could be "creative" and their kid scarred for life. Do yourself and your kid a favor: pick something normal. I'm begging you, and your kid will save you a few thousand on therapy sessions later on.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

A little sickness

Yesterday Flipper and I stayed home and did nothing. ALL DAY LONG. She flitted around, painted for a few minutes, sat on my feet, went upstairs to try clothes on (#1 fave activity) and generally wandered about, without whining, for about 5 hours. Frankly, it was heaven. She didn't feel well, did not want to go to school, which is quite rare for her, so home we stayed. I had absolutely no energy, hence the sofa-lying about, and while she felt OK she clearly wasn't 100%. What I love almost the most about her is the incredible blend of patience/acceptance/flexibility that she has. She accepts any logical reason for something, even if it is something she wants. Still sick this morning with a fever, so no school and no ballet. I told her, "You can't go to ballet today becasue you don't feel healthy" and she said, OK. No crying, whining, bitter disappointment, etc. How I pray she keeps this up...it will see her far in life. Perhaps as far as being cute will.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Another wasted day

And I'm not talking about being high or drunk or any other form of being wasted. Yesterday was gorgeous. It was 63 or so, sunny, warm enough for Flipper to get in her baby pool in the backyard (at least for a few minutes) and splash around, before getting on the trampoline and bouncing around buck-naked. I enjoyed...none of it. I was in agony, with an unusually bad migraine. Now, those of you that know me know that this is something I suffer with, and with incredible frequency, at least 6-8 times A MONTH. And for anyone out there that thinks it is "just a bad headache", well, you know not of what you speak. And you should hope you never do. This is a headache Vicodin can't touch, except to make the pain feel like it was happening to some one. But still felt by me. They were dreadful when I was with child, as they say, and they are bad now. But beyond how awful I feel physically is the sadness that comes from having Flipper sit beside me, trying as hard as she can to be quiet, or go downstairs and play by herself for 2 or 3 hours while I lie in bed. She isn't even four yet! My greatest fear is that I will die of a stroke in the middle of the night, and she will wake up beside my dead cold body. Like that excellent Michael Keaton rehab movie. What would she do? Besides go into therapy for the rest of her life. Would she have the presence of mind to go next door and get Rose? Thereby putting Rose into therapy for a few years as well...perhaps they can go together. Or would she sit there and cry? Or get up and start her day? these are things I shouldn't think about, but I do. I take great drugs that weren't even available a few years ago, but they don't always work. And I order them from Canada, via India. The stamps from India are gorgeous!! But I digress: this is one of the biggest parts of parenting that I feel horribly guilty about. The "trigger" for the bane of my existance? Weather pattern changes. From sunny to cloudy, form cloudy to sunny, from hot to cold, rain, fog ,etc. I live in North Carolina. It changes all the time. I do not see Arizona in my near future. But my head sure wishes I did!

Monday, March 12, 2007

That Moment.

It was one of those moments where, like a bolt of lightning screamed across my brain "I can't believe this is my life." Unlike lightning, it wasn't too painful. Like lightning, it was shocking. Kneeling on a battered wooden bench, hands cupped around my eyes, peering with some difficulty through a wire-hatched one way mirror. Into a ballet class. A ballet class FLIPPER was attending. And attending very very happily. How did this happen to me? How did I go from basic thirty-something loser to almost-forty parent of a child that wants to take ballet?? I was no kind of girly-girl growing up. My mother was all natural, my father prizes brains above all and our family just wasn't that all-American. They were quite strict about clothes, make-up, etc in our house. Strict as in none. Unlike so many of my friends' parents, they put their foot down about everything, and stuck to it. If you are thinking right now, Wow, you must have hated them, you would be right. I wasn't pretty, wasn't ugly. Blessedly good skin. Just regular looks. But we didn't do anything very girly. No princess anything (my mother was an early early Ms. Magazine subscriber) no Barbie dolls, no frilly clothes or barrettes or the like. Instead, we went outside every day, and cut up our stuffed animals, often transplanting limbs from one to the other. No one I knew took ballet, especially not at such a young age. Maybe gymnastics, when we were up in elementary school. Flipper is different. She has more chances to experience things than we did, living as we do in a child-oriented area where there are classes galore for just about everything, and she seems to have inherited some recessive girly gene, one that makes her love pink and change into frothy tutu skirts as soon as she gets home. No jeans for her, whereas my sister and I were already, at her age, decked out in our matching Tuffskin overalls. I offered ballet to her tentatively, quite confident that if she said "yes" it would quickly be followed by, "Can you stay with me?' At which point I could say to myself, "Nope! Not ready yet!" and continue on our merry way. Flipper also attends prechool 5 days a week, a somewhat non-mainstream preschool that encourages families to gear down, slow down, avoid too much of everything, and let kids be kids for a very very long time. So the ballet thing, even just once a week, I felt might be too much. But she loves music. Loves to dance. The deciding factor (nail in coffin) was at the luau in January. She was enraptured, thought the girls were beautiful, copied them unselfconsciously while other tourists took pictures of her. So she participated in a trial class, and that's when I found myself pressed to the one-way mirror. Flipper does and does not look like all the other little girls. Her body is much more muscular, and her hair is short. Flipper marched into the first class with nary a backward glance: this from a girl typically so reticent at new things that she takes a good 30 minutes to warm up to a birthday party. Even one with tons of sugar offered. She did not stop smiling joyfully the entire "shrink hour" class (50 minutes long). I went to the desk to pay, and they attached an invisible hose to my wallet, one that will silently siphon my hard-earned money away on a very regular basis. Now we go every week. I chat with the other moms, as we take turns peering through the mirror. We all mention "how cute" they are, and discuss the upcoming recital in early June. Where Flipper will be transformed, via 4 months of classes and some siphoning of funds, into a piece of popcorn, which she is convinced will be pink. A star is born.

Friday, March 9, 2007

Back at "work" a day later. Defiantly refusing to believe that trampolines are dangerous, we now have one in our backyard. While Flipper is quite coordinated, and always has been, she is one of those kids that gets banged up a fair amount. Were she a fortune cookie, I think I would see the words "I see a broken bone in your future" tucked inside. She is quite the active little Flipper, and always prefers to be outside rather than in. Just like my entire family, as well as her father. Another star in my personal constellation, my next-door neighbor Rose, came over to bounce with her almost 2 year-old, Baby Seamus. We call him that to distinguish him from one of my dogs, the original Seamus. Of all my friends, my friendship with her is one that I regularly step back from and wonder, how did this happen? Quickly followed by, how lucky am I? It is so so wonderful to have a close, awesome friend right next door, although the proximity used to make me quite nervous. Last fall we took our kids to her mother's beach townhouse. I was beyond nervous about this trip (a feeling she didn't share). I knew that it would either go well, or end awkwardly, and can you imagine having someone next door that you just aren't that into anymore? The stilted conversation, the short, jerky waves while pulling out of one driveway or another...I was terrified. But it was great. A really really perfect four days, from start to finish. Rose is and is not anything like me. I have always been fascinated by people like her: people that didn't spend their entire college experince high on some sort of illicit drug, or at a Grateful Dead show. People that have made all the Right Choices regarding school, grades, careers, relationships. People that delay gratification, or work really hard for it. People, that are, in fact, not much like me and my scattered, random life, filled with poor (yet fun-driven) choices, no real job history, no real goals. Flipper changed all of that in an instant, once I made the rather agonizing decision to, for once in my life, follow something through.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

I am at "work" perusing the Hanna Andersson online catalog while wishing that I was very very rich. Or, more ideally, married to someone very very rich, someone who traveled a great deal and came home only to spend a few days and then go away, leaving behind great piles of money. And our children would be completely untraumatized by this. How I love the organic cotton! The bright, cheerful colors!! The playdresses, the smock tops, the clogs...I love it all. Ever since the birth of The Flipper, I have become more and more obsessed with baby- and now children's- clothes. Part of the inner clothes horse in me comes from my general dislike of typical baby and kid clothing: the hideous graphics, the endless advertisements, the annoyingly stereotypical pink princess and flowers on girl clothing and the even more awful truck and sports equipment on the boy clothing. I hate it all. I actually have long discussions with my friends about children's clothes. The brands, the sizes, the cost, the originality factor: all of this is worthy, to us, of discussion. Never mind Darfur or what new atrocity the White House is perpetrating. We prefer more important, more relevant topics! But an unexpected wrench has been thrown into my previously well-oiled clothing machine: the one in which I spend time and money selecting cool, gorgeous, unique clothes and Flipper happily puts them on, receives many compliments which I take as an affirmation of good parenting. I could not get more shallow if I tried. But the wrench, unexpectedly, is the Flipper herself. She is no longer my pliable mannequin, now she has very definite ideas of her own. Clashing, tacky, mismatched and uncoordinated ideas. Ideas that are painful to the eyes. A friend told me that small children dress "to express themselves." If Flipper is expressing herself, she is schizophrenic. I try not to be too controlling. Somewhere Keith is laughing at that statement. I try to let her grow up a little, make her own choices, terrible as though they might be. A nursery school friend tried to rein me in, reminding me that little kids have their own personalities, will have their own opinions very different from ours. And I said, "But that's why I have to control her now, while I can!" A losing battle, let me tell you. Blessedly, her school has a rather strict dress code, something that was a large factor in my decision to send Flipper there. Her teacher loves the way she dresses. "Very appropriate" is what I hear a lot. And while I am glad she doesn't dress like pre-rehab Britney, I miss the days when I selected all of it. Right down to her carefully selected dragonfly Robeez.
My favorites: Boden, Hanna, Land's End, LL Bean.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

In the beginning...

After several years of reading blogs daily while at "work" I decided to get my feet wet, so to speak. This is about Me. And more of Me, and my life. But I think, despite my efforts to be about Me, it will morph into a blog about Flipper. My almost-four-year-old daughter, whose real name is Ella. A name that I regret giving her almost daily. More on why later. There will undoubtedly be repeated mention of the following people, so I will provide a short bio, and then get back to "work". Then I will pick Flipper up from my mother's house, where she will be after a gentle and magical morning at her Waldorf preschool. All of these people are important, some I like much more than others. But they are still important. Now, about ME.
I live in Chapel Hill, NC. But I am a Duke fan.
I am the perenially broke single parent to the above-mentioned child.
I have 2 dogs, a high-strung rescue doberman named Sophie, and a mongrelly mutt named Seamus.
I have an ex, Ella's father, Keith. We live in his house in lieu of child-support payments. He lives in our neighborhood, less than half a mile away. We get along fine. He comes over every night, and we do a fair amount of family stuff together.
My family is quite important to me, indeed, I wouldn't be able to do anything I do without them.
I have one sister, Kathryn, who lives in Maui. Yes, we visit yearly. Ella has alread been three times!
Two parents, married now for 44 years. Shocking, really, that they have daughters that cannot maintian any kind of healthy relationship.
Mother: a total GILF, incredible grandmother (really more like a co-parent) and all-around fuin person.
Father: the bane of our childhood existances, but now tolerable. Just retired. Adores "the baby" as he calls Ella. Mostly quite fun.
Jessica: best friend. We could not be more different. But she is the greatest.

Posting this, and more later. You know, while at "work."