Phee Turns 13

a daughter; a blessing / an ocean; a storm

Phee Turns 13

I am the mother to a teenager as of today. As of today, I only have one child who’s still a child, still a tween. One child who sleeps in the home, who creeps in my bed. Another who has set her foot on the twisted and dark path, through the forest.

As of today, I don’t have two children gamboling under foot. Today I watched a father who did, who had a little one. Those days are gone, they slipped through my fingers. I enjoyed every moment, every bit, but that doesn’t mean I was ready to see them go.

Today, I have a daughter who is a young woman. Never again will her fields contain childhood until the day, perhaps, she stoops to catch up children of her own.

Today is auspicious indeed. It marks that blossoming of hope, that cause for celebration: a child who’s survived childhood. Intact, with a lot of fierce love blooming in her chest, with a lot of laughter.

My daughter is my hope, my strength, my roots but then she is the green shoot out of the wet earth. She is my strength and grows tall like a tree. She is a fierce prickly thorn in a rose and she is the sunset when its impossible beauty takes your breath away. She is stronger, kinder, more intelligent, less spoiled than I and than anyone I know. She is my heart.

She is my heart!

Phee Turns 13

Phee Turns 13

Phee Turns 13

 

Zoo Trip, Phoenix

so it turns out I know how to show 11 – 13 year olds an awesome day adventure

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

We took a page out of Phoenix’s 2013 birthday trip, and headed off to Tacoma today. We had a carload of rumpus!

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

I seriously cannot with five preteens. As in, cannot believe how wonderful they are! Here I’m just ordering them buckets of chocolate milk because we were on the first leg of the trip and had to get from point A to point B etc.

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

They were all grownup and ordered salads with their meal! Instead of applesauce. One child ordered applesauce, then hid it from view when this choice was remarked upon. Can you tell which child?

Birthday singing from staff, other customers, and her friends:
Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

And then – off to the zoo!

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

So like, in no way was our sole male attendee shunned by the girls… but neither was he particularly invited in when they’d cluster up like this. Which gave me no small amount of amusement!

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

 Rarely do I regret having just a phone camera (and no training) – but failing to capture the African Red Tip Starfish is one of these times. Gorgeous!

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

Six tigers sighted – including these little tigers. Some feistiness in the tiger enclosure. They are wonderful animals!

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

So, this lobster was massive. I found the other zoo attendees comments about eating him quite insensitive. Isn’t it exploitive enough he’s in a cage being bored off his ass – or whatever lobsters have for asses?

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

Jaws!

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

UM A DADDY SEAHORSE, PREGNANT

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

Her last day of being twelve. Excuse me, I have something in my eye!

And after the zoo – I got us to Krispy Kreme. Because, hello

Zoo Trip, Phoenix's 13th Birthday

Home to yoga, and delivering a meal to a new family with a brand-new baby, and unwinding a bit before crashing into bed.

bella ragazza

For her next expression of personal style, at first Phoenix wanted to do some purple. Then while we were saving up for that, she decided she didn’t enjoy the dyeing process much (I don’t blame her!). We mustered our hair-stylist friend and Ralph’s partner musician H. who came over and cut the girl’s hair (Ralph’s too, which is looking sharp by the way). Sorry for the extra-dark pictures. Mobile phone at night, because late late night is the best time for haircuts!

We asked my daughter if we could take a picture part-way through, since we loved the little fringe in front and a long braid in the back:

Before...

Phoenix let us, and agreed it was a “cute” look, but wasn’t swayed from her original vision: all of her hair at 3/8″.

& After!

I told Phoenix the neighbor boys might give her shit, and taunt her that she looks like a boy. She said, “I know, I planned it that way. I get to look like a boy and be a girl.”

So, seriously, I have the best little roomates ever. Oh and P.S., as for our living-room stylist, I love supporting the under-employed right now, because it sure is happening around us a lot.

For my daughter, on her 9th birthday

Dear Phoenix Fire,

Today at 5:57 PM I’d just stepped outside the diner Forever The Oriole for data reception. I was acutely aware of your voice behind me at the counter, giggling delightedly with Grandma. I was thinking of you, of course, because you were born at precisely 5:56 PM nine years ago this evening, after a protracted and medically-interventionist labor of about eighteen (very rough) hours.

Obviously I loved you at first sight; I write “obviously” not because that’s the way it always goes but because I’ve directly told you this so many times I don’t need to tell it again. But I want to. I can still see your flushed skin and feel your softly fluttering heart. I can still remember how exactly you smelled because you smell the same way today!  I used to lie next to you in bed in those first days of knowing you and I’d tell you with a frank devastating simplicity, “There’s everyone else in the world, and then there’s you.” Your dad didn’t have everything I had for you, every bit of my fiber and bloodstream and physicality we shared, but he caught up fast. Who wouldn’t? You inspire love wherever you are.

Today as we walked together your hand sought mine and I felt as gleeful and amazed and happy you wanted me and we could be together a while, the same specific joy I felt nine years ago when I held you in my arms.

I’ve written before how much knowing you has shaped me as a person. Mostly you’re just such an at-ease being it’s often guaranteed I am improved by your presence. Your integrity, your compassion, your sedate intelligence and your good-hearted nature are unparalleled in anyone I’ve yet met. It’s not just me who feels that way – every week people are telling me in new ways what a delight you are. I see life through your experience and I see a happy girl who knows she is loved. This is quite a gift for me to witness, as when I was your age I’m not sure I felt so good.

A friend this week said you seemed like an “adult” to her in every way. Yes, I can see what she means, but of course you are very silly and I’ve been meaning to talk to you about this quite sternly. For instance at the restaurant today what was with you and Grandma’s jokes about “King Tut grows butts”? And when I told you to stop wrestling with my mother because these very sour-faced patrons were glaring at me and I was tired of it, you said, “Glare back,” and you did just that. I don’t have the guts you do but I aspire to. Someday.

Of course, you are the funniest person I know even if no, I don’t much go for “butt” jokes. You can screw up your face into any expression and you cast your voice like a spell. When you make jokes I invariably laugh because they’re funny as hell. I can tell when you’re happy and well-cared for when you are quick to laugh at mine. I can tell something is amiss when you scowl at me, although you don’t do much of that lately.

I don’t know how much time we have together but I do know I like drinking up every drop. Thank you for sharing your life with me. Stay as long as you like, leave when you’re ready. Let me know how I can support you in everything you need.

Much love,

Mama

Cobra

Pleased

The other night while we watched a cartoon movie you said, “That’s what I want for my birthday – a giant mechanical wolf!” Well, I’m not sure if that’s in the cards, but we were gratified to see how much you like the scary-looking robotic LEGO cobra Grandma got you. Thanks for not holding it against me that the wolf is not immediately forthcoming.

"Mutant Horse" by Phoenix Fire Hogaboom & Adam Moe

Christmas Gift

A few months ago I picked up one of Phoenix’s beautiful pieces from the many, many we have lying about, and sent an email to an embroidery artist I liked (I can’t quite remember how I first stumbled on his Etsy shop). To my utter delight he took up the commission and we traded emails, then upon completion some cash. About nine days before Christmas I opened one of the happier packages I’ve received in a while. Today the piece was featured on a blog I follow, Mr. X. Stitch:

"Mutant Horse" by Phoenix Fire Hogaboom & Adam Moe

The blog post was the kick in the pants I needed; I figured I’d better throw up the scan and commit to getting this sucker framed. My mom and I tried our own framing for Christmas but it wasn’t quite right. The framed piece is leaning on the kids’ desk right now but I’m going to take it in tomorrow and get a quote.

Here’s the original work:

Mutant Horse by Phoenix Fire Hogaboom

Here’s the treasure hunt “clues” my daughter found on Christmas morning that led her to this present. (P.S. I totally whipped these little clues up fast, no criticizing!):

A gift for Phoenie
A present for you
is hidden away.
First look to where we
your fine art display! [clips]

Patience is needed
if you know what I mean –
go to the locale
where you splash to get clean. [bathtub]

Your brother likes something
with nori wrapped ‘round.
Where is the place
the other ingredient is found? [rice cooker]

Your mom owns no diamonds
their beauty untapped.*
But if she had jewels
where would they be kept? [dish on my dresser]

You’ve been searching and searching –
you must need some rest!
Try a soft, high place
that Harris likes best [bunk bed]

When my daughter found the piece in her room I heard her say, “I can’t believe my eyes! I drew that!” Ha. She was quite impressed and quite pleased.

I feel stunned by the amount of artwork Phoenix produces and how very much she enjoys it. She has been working with a bit of Sculpey clay I bought and shows the same expressiveness, joy, desire, and innate talent. Now she wants more clay. Claywork is more expensive than pencils and pens but I’m going to make it happen, no matter what.

So I might as well put a call out to readers – any drawing (paper, pens, pencils) or clay supplies you can recommend (or those you don’t), let me know! I feel a bit lost in these worlds.

* Not passive-aggressive, I swear!

stuck in the moment

Ralph might have started the game of Blanket Monster, but Phoenix Fire ended it. By clocking her father in the face with the rather rugged and heavy phony-Christmas-tree cardboard box. The way Ralph tells it Phoenix rather reluctantly gave up her hopes and dreams of a normal life, but with a practicality and thoroughness that is so trademark to her sensible nature. “Well, I used to have a daddy, but now he’s a relentless Blanket Monster, so I’d better kill the sonovabitch.” Ralph describes “blinding white light” and staggering to the bathroom where he staunched the flow of bloody nose while our daughter apologized with sincere but pragmatic gravitas. Fucker was pulling them under the blankets by their legs, afterall. “Tickle torture isn’t funny,” she tells me later standing with a towel wrapped around her reedlike body, her freckles standing at attention under a seal-wet post-bath noggin.

Later as we left for a date our daughter calls, “Take care of your nose, daddy!” She means it in a cheerful and loving way but it kinda sounds like a veiled threat.

We got home and later discovered a bunch of items on my Mac. Some intentional video – (I think Flickr cut out some of the artistic differences our children discuss at the end of the film)…

and some unintentional (Ding Dong!):

among interests: kittens, cuddling, creatures, manga

Phoenix opened her own FB account today. You should friend her because she’s a ray of light.

Phoenix at the Mia 1

Phoenix at the Mia 2

Phoenix at the Mia 3

Italian Wedding Soup! Well, my version anyway. (Spinach and parsley):

Spinach, Parsley

Evening. Phoenix intent, playing LOTRO:
Playing LOTR Online

She is just now bathed and wearing a t-shirt of Ralph’s. All four of we Hogabooms suffer dry skin in the winter months. We put lotion on the children after they get out of the bath, then a “daddy shirt”. It keeps the itches at bay.

I finished a testing garment today and got notes sent out and pictures taken before the fading light. I can’t show you pictures – secrets! – but you can at least look at the lovely yardage I used and what is obviously a well-drafted seamline.

Raglan

I also hauled the Wizard sewing machine I picked up at the thrift store ($8) to the local quilt shop. I’m a fool for old vintage machines, having them tuned and refurbished and oiled… oftentimes to give them away to those who want them. The thing is I can’t stand to have someone tempted to buy some POS brand-new plastic thing from Walmart or Sears when there’s so much old vintage goodness – better machines and not nearly as wasteful as buying a new one. And I guess it throws a little scratch to the local OSMG.

Tonight my mom took us to dinner at the local pan-Asian restaurant. Teriyaki chicken, sushi, a bento box, yaki-udon, chicken broccoli, egg flower soup in a clear lovely broth, tea. A lovely hot meal to scare away the rain a bit. When we got home friends were on our porch. The two kiddos stayed until after midnight, laughing and playing with kitties.

Good company.

meaning “dark red” and symbolizing rebirth from the ashes

Phoenix Fire
It’s funny how the most unremarkably pleasant days can suddenly swerve into something kind of concrete and momentous (or as “concrete and momentous” as anything that happens in this mortal coil). We were just pulling into the coffee stand today when my oldest child repeated his desire to legally change his name.

This isn’t the first time he’s told me he wanted to change his name to this particular choice. When we talked about it last I told him it involved a bit of trouble: mostly paperwork and assisting friends and family in remembering  and respecting the new name (which means friendly and persistent repetition). I don’t have the kind of disdainful judgment the name-change can sometimes invoke in some people* as I’ve had one of my closest friends change her name and my own sister has changed her name more than once; I’m all about people self-validating.

I was also very impressed with my child’s choice as it is a very powerful name and one that suits him well.

Still, there is something kind of scary about the whole business.

Names do mean something – otherwise people wouldn’t agonize over these choices; otherwise you wouldn’t hear anyone mock certain names (especially names relating to out-groups, races or ethnicities that the dominant culture scorns). I won’t deny I felt an odd fear at having to call my child something else than the name I’d known him by – his entire life, which felt like a big part of my life too.

Still, I can tell he’s serious about it. He called both his father and grandmother and told them; they were enthusiastic and supportive.

I know I have to get some kind of court order to change a name in my family. I know I’m going to have to call doctors and the YMCA and a few organizations blah, blah. I know I’m going to stop calling him “_______” as I have done for years.

But even today in the grocery store when I called him by his new name he immediately snapped up and came to me. He has been calm and happy in this way I recognize when he’s made a choice that really, really works for him.

Welcome to our home, Phoenix Fire Hogaboom.**

Watching You

* Although of course, the people who sneer at name-changes often have no trouble with married women taking their husband’s surname.

** You can email him at phoenix.fire AT hogaboom DOT org to congratulate him – I know he’d love it!