Wednesday, December 22, 2010

gifts my daughters gave me

Just today:
a pad of paper transformed into a waiter's order sheet
a new game: clapping mama's hands together (riotous laughter)
giving gifts to one another: belly kisses/pieces of pancake

ah, my girls. Such sweetness. And great belly kisses, too.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

they really are everywhere

Me: Come on, Lucy. We need to go to Starbucks to get the gift cards.
Lucy: I'm Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz.
Me: Great, Dorothy. Get shoes on.
Lucy: Okay. They have those coffee shops in Munchkinland, you know.

I didn't actually, but I can't say I'm surprised.

this is that house

This is the house with the Daddy gone.
This is the baby waking up at five thirty, in the house with the traveling Daddy.
This is the kid with the runny nose, with the baby awake at half-past-five, in the house with the traveling Daddy.
This is the baby, coming down with it too, the sister sniffling a runny nose, the baby awake at half-past-five, in the house with the travelling daddy.
This is the baby, skipping her nap, that sickly, snotty, coughy baby, the sister sniffling her runny nose, the baby awake at half-past-five, in the house with the traveling daddy.
This is the friends, calling to cancel, the play dates scheduled after the nap, of the wakeful, sickly, sniffly baby, the sister in tandem, blowing her nose, the baby awake at half-past-five, in that house with the travelling Daddy.
This is the mommy, asleep by nine.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

what a difference a word makes

Yesterday, Julia learned to say "more". She signs it, putting her two hands together.

Already, mealtimes are much more pleasant. Now when she starts to squawk, I can ask her if she wants more. And she's so surprised and proud and delighted to be able to communicate her needs that she has stopped being as much of a tyrant. Or--perhaps, perhaps it's just that I feel better, having some dialogue, instead of complete blind frustration.

She also learned the sign for nurse. We are doing that much more frequently. Big surprise.

Monday, November 29, 2010

sunny days

Today was not a morning of victory. A baby pulling open cabinets over and over (and over) while I tried to brush my teeth and pee, a fussy baby who wouldn't let me put her down while I tried to eat the breakfast I was ravenous for, an extra-early wake-up, etc, etc.

When Lucy balked at the clothes she'd asked for my help choosing, I lost it. I yelled, and I contemplating throwing things.

Lovely. They're clothes, honey.

A few minutes later, we left the house. We went to a nearby park, and the sky was blue, and the grass kelly-green, and the sun was warm but the air cool and Lucy found herself friends across the playground, and I thanked my sweet Lord for the outside.

And by the time we came home, it was naptime.
Sweet victory.

Sunday, November 28, 2010


We got sick, every last one of us.
We celebrated the holidays, and took a lot of naps, and decorated the house, and watched the Wizard of Oz.
It was a good, if congested holiday.
And I just put away two loads of laundry and started the dishwasher and put another load of clothes in and cleaned the sinks. All of them. Because believe you me, they needed it after mouldering dishes and phlegm.
I'm ready for a holiday from my holiday.

holidays...with children

Ever since I was young, I've wanted to celebrate the holidays with a bit more relish. I think being the youngest of three kids brings that with it: everyone else has done it before, so it's just not as fresh.
Now, I have my own kids, and it's all new. And this time, I'm in charge. We made handprint turkeys and a banner and a thankful tree. We pulled out the ornaments and wreath and decorated the Christmas tree. We're getting the advent calendar ready and we lit candles today to celebrate the first Sunday of Advent. I'm sure we'll fit in hot chocolate somewhere, along with cookie decorating.
And Lucy's right in there, eager to know about the traditions that just haven't had that richness without her there to make them come alive.
Ah, dear one, thank you for helping me celebrate Christmas so completely. Last year was lovely, too, but this year, you're so much more exponentially able to participate. And last year you were so much more exponentially able, as well. What a miracle it all is: the exponential growth, the family traditions, the wonder of creating them together.
merry, merry, merry.

Friday, November 26, 2010

even for this

thankful that we are all ill,
since flu is "very" sick here.
Thankful I don't know really sick.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


Lucy has a little glass goblet, etched with a pattern of leaves and flowers. Now that she's got cool glassware, she always wants to make a toast, or in her words, "do a toasting."
Today, in the absence of a partner, she clinked my glass and said, "To the kings of China!"

To which I say,
--To the kings of China!
and also,
--Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010



Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I'm cold, Mama

We got home from the library today, and Lucy started complaining about being cold. It caught me off guard, because the girl usually goes around in tank tops and shorts in all weather and refuses sweaters. But it was breezy in the house, and turning colder, and she was shivering. I sent her upstairs for clothes, and she came back down with a long sleeved shirt, a fuzzy hat, and mittens.

She was still shivering, so I gave her hot tea. A few minutes later, she said she felt better, but she still wanted a blanket, and a pillow to lie down on, and was kind of quiet. Suddenly, my brain connected the dots.

So I put my hand on her head. Blazing hot.

Oh, dear. Looks like we did not dodge the bullet on Julia giving the illness to Lucy. Towels going on the bed tonight, not just outside the door.

Monday, November 22, 2010

bean soup, take two

I made bean soup again. This time, I did not put mystery herb in. It did not taste like cologne.
Deee licious.

Yes, I am ready for NaBloPoMo to be over.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


Since one child woke up puking last night, we have clean sheets and towels outside the other bedroom door. Just. In. Case.

Note: Before this year, I think I'd had the stomach flu once. That was really enough. Really.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

ah, nablopomo

Is there anything that can make me want to blog less than noblopomo?

Friday, November 19, 2010


Honestly, I could almost never leave.
Why would I? My tea's fantastic.

Thursday, November 18, 2010


I'm still waiting for Julia to say "Mama."
I'm prompting, and prompting. Here's what happens:
Me, tapping my chest: "Mama."
Julia, smiling, patting my chest: "Dada!"
Me, sighing.

Other words so far: "All done" (Ah-da) and bye-bye (ah-dah, meaning all done, which she does with a wave goodbye), and "Water" (da-dah). That last one, I'm not so sure about.
Obviously, she has mastered the "dah" sound. Come on, kid. Get with the program. Mamamamamama.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

trust walk

Julia is totally ready for her closeup.

Now that she has started walking with assistance (I almost wrote "assistant",) she grabs one hand, then holds out her other, confidently, knowing that someone will grab it and take her where she wants to go.
The sheer effrontery/confidence/trust of the budding toddler is just precious, really. That and the Animal-style laugh. Heh heh heheheh.


I had some lovely women and kids over to our house today. And I got kinda nervous. It was totally low-key, I knew no one was expecting anything of me other than a location, and yet I was worried I wouldn't have good toys/a good vibe/the right snacks/insert hospitality item here.

Surprise: I was worried about nothing. It seemed like everyone had a good time.

(Why, upon writing this, do I want to add I think? Self, stop being so paranoid.
Stop it!)


Monday, November 15, 2010


Today, at the park, a little girl named Katie played with Lucy. After a few minutes, she asked, "Will you be my friend?"
Lucy said yes. And they played together for a few hours, until it was time for us to leave.
Lucy keeps talking about it.
And I'm just struck how little any of us change. Because aren't we all just waiting for someone to ask that very question? And longing for the chance to say yes, and be together?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

just do it

Dear Lucy,
Please, if you're going to wake up too early, please don't throw a fit about needing to go back to sleep unless you then actually go back to sleep.
I think you'll find it make things easier for everyone, no?

Saturday, November 13, 2010

so thankful

for craft fairs with straw strewn on the ground
for honey nut sticky buns, homemade, even with an oopsie*
for taking first pre-steps, holding hands
for the ongoing sagas of bedtime stories, told out loud, wherein the possoms find a real magic wand, and make everyone fly,
for sleep and naps
for an impromptu family visit

*When making a big batch of bread dough, don't put in the thyme for herbed loafs. Because later, after you forget about the herbs, and you have a craving for sticky buns, you will have the filling made, all buttery honey awesome gooeyness, and even when you remember the thyme then, you will not be able to abandon the plan to make sticky buns, so you will have herbed honey sticky buns. Which are still pretty good, because they are, after all, sticky buns. But still. Better to not add the thyme.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Lucy's Anatomy

Julia broke off the door to our play oven. Lucy immediately re-purposed it as an X-ray machine.

She held it over my midriff. "Oh. Here's the problem. The bone that takes the food from your stomach to your brain is going the wrong way. It's sideways, not up and down."

No wonder I was feeling off yesterday.

if you don't want an honest answer, don't ask the question.

Whilst making a thankful tree:
Dyami: But which are we more thankful for? Ice cream, or family?
Lucy: Ice cream.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

a busy day

We were busy today. It was kind of nice. Seeing friends, choir, and watching Dada play soccer. And home just in time for bed.
It was nice, for today.
Choosing homeschool this year (and, perhaps, after that) means being less busy. Less scheduled. Believe me, I like a good schedule. I like not being bored. But mostly, I like being quiet. Being peaceful, having time to be a little bored sometimes, and time to enjoy being home. Time to sit at our table and do crafts, or be leisurely with friends. Time to make spontaneous plans.
I like all that. But every once in a while, it's nice to have a break from so much space. If only to remind myself how tired I am at the end of the day when we're not quiet.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

still a baby

I watched a friens's 20-month son today. He's nearly two, and I was kind of expecting a kid. But no, he was syill a baby--a walking, (kinda) talking baby.
Phew. I've still got months and months.

Monday, November 8, 2010

what's next? cursing her with split ends?

Lucy, dressed as Rapunzel (long red yarn): "And the witch comes! She is a black and white witch! With her powers! And she puts a spell on me so all my long hair gets tangled!"

Sunday, November 7, 2010

favorite things

I just got a broom. It's a simple corn husk broom. We had a broom, but it was plastic, and had been used outdoors, and was filthy. This broom is my kitchen broom.
I'm not super finicky about floors, but the floor in our kitchen is white tile. And we have a baby with a bad habit of throwing food on the floor. And a preschooler. The floor was filthy.
But now I have a broom. And I have it stashed alongside the fridge, where I can whip it up and sweep up the stray food after meals.
And suddenly, I have stopped finding our baby smiling as she gums three-day-old pieces of chicken.


The premise is simple: post every day. One month. Since I post most days, lately, I thought this would be a cakewalk.
I was obviously wrong.

Friday, November 5, 2010


What do I do when it's just me getting dinner? I go out for sushi and gelato, that's what.
Also: I fold laundry. But that last part's less exciting.

in SoCal, it's "seasons"

I spent a year in Argentina,
seasons switched: almost three winters straight.
Every year, I've dreaded lengthening days.
Ten years later I'm finally recovered;
I'm looking forward to seasons' change.
Darker afternoons, hot chocolate, rain, wool,
Roast turkey, candles, peppermint, Christmas parades
Watching TV under a down comforter.

The weather forecast today is 82.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

water, water, everywhere

Julia's very interested in water cups, especially when I let her hold them herself. I'm happy to let her explore, but it's hard to sit back and watch her struggle.
She tries to take a drink, then inhales most of the half-ounce in the cup, and dumps the rest of it over head. She snuffles, and blinks, and protests.
And then she reaches for the cup again.
Would that I have that much perseverance.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

let's just cut to the chase

In our round of unpacking, I finally found Lucy's old shape sorter. It's wooden, and sturdy, and the circles and squares and triangles make a satisfying thunk when they drop in the box. The top with the shapes cut out of it is yellow.

We handed it to Julia, gave her a circle, and waited to see what happened.
She took the circle, banged it against the trianglular hole a few times, then lifted up the yellow top and put the circle inside. Then she closed the lid and crawled away.

That's what I call thinking outside the box.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


A few days ago, I unpacked three boxes!
Yes, we moved in April. Yes, I am a little behind.
I found:
  • Halloween acoutrements, just in time for Halloween! (Note to self: Lucky timing)
  • A stereo. Does one have too many posessions, when one can have a stereo in a box for nine months, and not notice it missing?
  • A butterfly finger puppet.
  • Clothes labeled "pre-pregnancy". That could have been labeled "pre-2005". Much of which still does not fit. I decided the post-pregnancy weight wins, and put the stash in the donation bins. I always used to wonder why women hung on to so much old clothing that didn't fit, until I entered the fun rollercoaster of pregnancy. Really, I might still go back to that size in a few more months. Or not. It's anyone's guess!
  • Our wedding album. Lucy had never seen it, at least not in her current memory. We sat on our bed and paged through the shiny pages, and saw pictures of "momma and her sisters" (my sister, and two friends, but perhaps Lucy is more accurate). Pictures taken around our church, which Lucy knows well. Pictures of our wedding cake, which interested me not at all (not a cake fan) and Lucy tremendously. Pictures of me and Dadda, and Dadda and me, and lots of other people she knows. Pictures of her oldest cousins when they were younger than she is now.
Lucy now has a stereo, has seen pictures of her beloved (but mostly forgotten) Nana, pictures of Grandma lacing my wedding dress, and has learned the word "boutonniere". Also, she has a butterfly finger puppet.

In other words, treasures.

Monday, November 1, 2010

christmas carol

Lucy: "Mama, look what I drew!"
Me: That looks an awful lot like a manger. "What is it?"
Lucy: It's a manger with the baby Jesus. You wanna hear my song?
Me: (Impressed) "Sure!"
Lucy: "Here is a manger, with the King inside!
Jesus! He is inside a manger, the king!
And there are pirates, out there in the woods,
The spooky woods, there with the Baby Jesus!"


Me: (Even more impressed) Bravo!!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

why the heck not?

Up early, I treat myself today:
a full episode of Project Runway.
Yes, reality show + eggs +toast + tea.
Haute couture complements breakfast perfectly.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

an amoire of one's own

I've been deskless since we've moved. My old ugly one got absorbed into Dyami's office, and my only place to pay bills and store papers was on our kitchen counter. I didn't realize how much it was bothering me until I had an inspiration: take over an awkward, largish corner in our bedroom, buy an amoire desk instead of an open one, and possibly move my sewing stuff there too, so I might be able to do a project without setting up in the middle of dinner.

A few weeks and a craig's list ad later, I have my desk. And instead of being ugly, and white, and exposed, it's cool, and black, and can be shut. Today, Lucy was opening and closing the doors, and I said (nicely), "Lucy, this is going to be my private space. Please leave the doors shut."
She looked up at me, nodded, and shut the doors.

Imagine! A private space! It's revolutionary!

I think my writing is going to get a whole lot cooler. Just be prepared.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

at least she's honest

Lucy's friend, to Julia: "You're just the cutest little baby in the whole wide world, aren't you?"
Me, to myself: See? I'm not the only one that thinks that!
Lucy, to her friend: "Well, all babies are cute."

Monday, October 25, 2010

my miracle salve

I was kind of in a funk this morning. I had a not-so-great interaction with someone, and it left me feeling woeful. I was a distracted, weepy mommy for a while, and when Julia took a nap, I let Lucy watch a TV show, and I laid down with a cloth over my face. Darkness felt good, even though I wasn't particularly sleepy.

Then I thought: how can I make this day get better?

So I called a friend and went over to her house. Our kids played, we talked (about my woefulness, some, but also about other stuff). We just talked and talked, and before I knew it, it was time to head home. And funnily enough, by then, it was a good day.

Man, sometimes, the only miracle salve I need is a good friend.

rain rain, come again

I live in the great drought-opressed Southwest. I do not expect rain at this time of year. More, I expect fires.
But I like rain. And this has been the rainiest fall here I can remember. I love the peaceful, tea-in-the-cup, rain percussing on roof Monday morning here.
I also appreciate knowing there's no conflagration brewing 40 miles away.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Kettle Chips sale: two for one.
Assorted flavors, including Loaded Baked Potato.
Are four biggish bags really enough?

Not had enough? Go over to Making Things Up for more six-word fun.


Lucy joined our church's children's choir a few weeks ago. Leading to the improv performance going on as I type. She's seated in front of our music stand with a collection of library books on sea life and lyric sheets for the upcoming Christmas concert. Her mashup:
"Prince of, prince of Peace,
Glory (clap!) I love sha-arks."

Not sure if great whites were in Isaiah's mind when he wrote his prophecies, but hey, artistic license, right?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

a new favorite

I grew up with my mom's go-to appetizer, smoked salmon spread. It's easy to whip together, and tastes great, if you like smoked salmon. It's sort of a poor man's lox.
Dyami's not a huge fan, unfortunately, so I haven't made it too much.
But lately, I got a hankering. So I made some. And on a whim, let Lucy smell it.
"Do you want some?" I asked.
"Yeah," she said. And proceeded to eat it. By the bowlful.

On another whim, I gave some to Julia, expecting her to throw it on the floor, like everything else. Instead, she scraped the salmon off of the cracker, and shoved it in her mouth. After about ten crackers, she was a smoky mess.

Me, I'm pleased. Apparently my smoked-salmon genes have prevailed.
Dyami: not so pleased. Because even I'll admit Julia's new kisses are just the tiniest bit fishy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

grace the bear

A few years ago, I got a book on Japanese-style stuffed animals called by Aranzi Aronzo. I made a few for Christmas gifts. Then Lucy got hold of the book.
"I want this one, Mama," she said, pointing to a very cute, but (I thought) less than exciting) bear. (There were Cats! and Monkeys! and Bad Guys! and an absolutely adorable Terrier!)
But bear it was.
Bear wasn't too hard to make, and I was pleased to make it for Lucy, and eagerly anticipated the reveal on Christmas.
The big day came. Lucy opened it, looked at Bear, smiled, and then set her down to rip open the next package. Then she didn't touch her again for at least a month.
And during the next few months, the bear languished in the bottom of an overlarge pile of stuffed animals.


A few months ago, Lucy dug her out, and dubbed her "Grace the Bear." Then she started intermittantly requesting animals to sleep with. Sometimes it was Grace the Bear, sometimes other animals. Then it was usually Grace the Bear.
Now it always is.

This past weekend, on a trip away from home, it came time to tuck Lucy in. Lights were off, and I was leaving the room, when Lucy sat up in her bed.
"Where's Grace the Bear?"
My stomach knotted. GTB had not been on my packing list.

I broke the news.
Lucy moaned. "Grace the bear! I miss you!" Her voice had a mournful note in it I've never heard before. It broke my heart.

Thankfully, she's attached, but not too attached. After a few minutes of me substituting for GTB, I left the room, and she slept peacefully (well, mostly).

But I have to say: if giving your child gifts is pleasurable, making them, and then having them treasure them is infinitely more so.

Grace the bear, we love you.

Monday, October 18, 2010

I guess you can get bigger

I've moaned a lot lately about how Julia is getting too big. But over the last few days, she has reached my new favorite milestone: giving kisses. When the mood strikes her, she leans forward and gives kiss after kiss after kiss. It is especially fun when Dyami, Lucy and I form a tight circle and give kisses to Julia and one another. This was how we all started the day today.

I guess there's some bright side here.

cute, sorta

Dear Baby,

You're so cute, you can do almost anything and still be cute. Pooping, farting, drooling, having a runny nose: all adorable!

So the other night on our trip, when you woke at 2 am in your pack n play, and then wouldn't go back to sleep for a long, long time because you kept seeing your sister asleep (then not so asleep) next to you, and squealing because it was just so exciting to have her right there, that was cute, too.

Just barely.

Love, Mama

Friday, October 15, 2010


Baby head on my shoulder, cooing.
Daughter's face alight, describing a story.
Children are so alive and afire.

Get short with us at Making Things Up.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Every day, Lucy amazes me. She seems to have come into some kind of new confidence in herself, in her ability to find things out. "I'm going to 'vestigate," she'll say, and grab a notebook and draw pictures of nature, her sister, mermaids, princesses. Right now, she is hard at work on an art show she's going to stage when we next visit her cousins. We do simple crosswords, and she knits her forehead in concentration as I show her how the straight lines and half-circles make P, B, R, K. The letters have legs, and arms, and heads, and they are all dancing for her right now.

I love his confidence I see in her, this artistry, this desire to devour the world and figure it out. And also the joy that she rushes up with in the morning, to see her sister, and give her kisses.

Today someone at our church asked if she were in preschool there. "No," I said. "We have her at home right now."
"They have scholarships," she said, kindly. And I know that preschool could be lovely, too, that there she would run and discover as well.
But I love that I'm here to see this all unfolding. Right now, you couldn't pay me to miss all of this.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

no wonder I'm tense

In my dream last night, I had accidentally bought a cobra. I meant to buy a boa constrictor*. Whoops!

It got loose in our house, and since I'd made the mistake, I was the one who had to go find it and put it in a container (I should have recognized that I was dreaming at this point; no one in their right mind would send me to deal competently with a fanged viper. I am afraid of bumblebees, people). Part of the nightmare was figuring out which container. Just as in real life, it is impossible to find Tupperware lids when you need them.

Then I wandered the house, trying to find the cobra without coming across it unexpectedly. At one point, I watched it take down a very large rattlesnake (kind of like East meets West, with the East winning, hands-down). Another fun highlight was when Julia started to come into the quarantined area of the house, pushing open unlatched doors at the wrong moment (always, at the wrong moment, whether I'm swishing out a poopy diaper or capturing a cobra).

Then a baby woke me. And my first thought upon waking: Man, am I tense. My second thought? Well, no wonder. I was trying to capture a %$^ing cobra in a lidless Tupperware container.

That is all.

*When I told Dyami this dream, I said, "I wouldn't be so scared of a boa constrictor". And he pointed out that a boa might still be problematic with a one-year-old around. Still though, no fangs.

Monday, October 11, 2010


There's a whole interweb kerfuffle right now over the comments of Todd Henderson, U of Chicago professor, whose household income exceeds $250k. He argues that after expenses (taxes mortgage, childcare, student loan repayments), he has little discretionary income left. He says he's not "superrich", and thus shouldn't be asked to pay more in taxes under Obama's plan.

He's getting flamed by a lot of people, but even liberal voices have made his point. However, I wanted to weigh in:

Mr. Henderson, you are superrich. I understand how frustrating it must be that your income is not more flexible than it is. I don't doubt that it can be hard to make the choices you do. But that you have choices is itself a luxury. You have the choice to pay back $250k in student loans. You have the choice to search out day care, a cleaning service. You have the choice for both parents to work, to afford cable. You can make the mortgage on your house in an expensive place. I'm guessing you have the choice to get your kids in decent schools, pay health care.

For most of the world, you're wealthy beyond imagination.

My question is: how has our expectation in the US gotten so skewed that being "wealthy" means that you don't have to make choices with your wealth? When has wealthy become being able to afford anything?

Sorry, Mr. Henderson. I'm not unsympathetic. What month do I not look at our budget and think: but only if we had X more dollars here? Limits can suck. And paying taxes sucks. I'm not convinced that $250 k is truly a fair designation for "super-rich", but please don't complain about your lack of discretionary income. So much of our lifestyle is discretionary--it's just an attitude adjustment to see it as such.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

commuting to fantasyland

These worlds within worlds inside Lucy:
ballet studio, disney vacation, surprise party
artist's lair, runaway hidey-hole, store,
all meant to be populated continually,
by us, to her exact specifications:
I'd like to be fecund, excited,
participate each time, inhabit those worlds,
but my magic is often fitful.
Why is being childlike so hard?

Come on over to Making Things Up and add in your six words.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


We were at Disneyland for a few days, and it was lovely. It was our first time with Lucy (and Julia, though she didn't care about it too much). We rode Small World twice, met Mickey, Minnie, Belle, and Alice, and got a lollipop that was half the size of Lucy's face.
However, some things did not go exactly as planned:
  • We didn't tell Lucy ahead of time, to surprise her! And then when she found out we were going, she was excited for all of three minutes before she got very worried about the projects she was leaving behind, the scary big rides, and said that she wanted to go to Legoland instead. She warmed up after we arrived, but it was not exactly the reaction we were hoping for. Note: next time, tell the child ahead of time, so she has time to wrap her head around the experience.
  • I booked in early October, to avoid crowds! And we ran smack dab into huge crowds for the annual Halloween festivities.
  • I booked in early fall to get nice, sunny, cool weather! And it was raining! Crowds + rain = not ideal.
  • I booked us at Disneyland hotel so as to have a place to nap Julia (and sleep, of course). And then realized when we got there that check-in time was 3 pm: well after nap time. And check out time the next day was 10 am. Well before nap time. Hello, walking the fussy, sleepy baby in the stroller until she passes out.
  • Julia woke a bit more than we wanted, and woke up her sister in the process, but that wasn't too much a surprise. More a surprise: the two 4 AM cell phone calls, fifteen minutes apart. (Voice mails the next morning: beeps. I hate those beeping calls. What's with them anyway? And why did they beep at us at 4 AM?). I do not usually have my phone in the bedroom with me, but since we were in a hotel, it was conveniently close enough to wake Dyami and I up again! (thankfully, not the girls).
Such is the magic of the Disney experience* that none of the above mattered too much. We walked about sixteen miles, we had two tired children, and two exhausted adults, and two very helpful grandparents.
And one mama, grateful to be home.

*Cynic that I am, I think they put some sort of "happy dust" in the air to make everyone cheerful. Opiates, perhaps?

Friday, October 1, 2010


I love a good, loud thunderstorm.
My two girls? Not so much.
So: kept the windows closed yesterday,
and missed that wild, wet wind.
For the record: responsibility's no fun.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

get into the groove

Yesterday, I came downstairs to find Lucy dancing, by herself, to Madonna's "Holiday".
"Did Dadda set this up for you?" I asked, since Dyami, working from home, occasionally pops in to entertain her while I get Julia down for naps.
"No, I," she said. In other words, I did.

Should I be proud, or appalled?*


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

the clothes continuum

I spent some time last night sorting out the hand-me-down clothes bins: to-be-worn stuff for Lucy, and (mostly) Lucy's cast-offs for Julia.
Once upon a time, these were mostly sorted.
Then we had a baby, and moved, and, well, not so sorted anymore.

It was a bittersweet time. Sweet to look over favorite clothes of Lucy's and anticipate them gracing another little girl. Difficult, because nearly all of the clothes that Julia will wear next seem like "girl" clothes to me, and not "baby" clothes.

Her first year happened pretty quickly, though I don't know if I've thought of it being fast. Except looking at the clothes, I realize it has. Surely it took Lucy years to get big enough to wear that pink dress? Those black shoes? To wear the little skirt I made? Surely she was bigger than one, or two when that happened?
Except no, she wasn't.
Ah, me. These babies. THey persist in getting bigger, ever more quickly.

Monday, September 27, 2010

you would think

that after four months of feeding my little tyke, I would think about her breakfast when I got mine ready. Invariably, I am about to start mine, and look down to find a hungry baby looking up at me.
Perhaps I should drink the caffeine first in the morning.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

but I'm saving us money

So I'm about a month into clipping coupons and trying to shop more strategically. I've scored some pretty good bargains, and also returned some things that weren't actually, and also probably bought stuff we don't need.

I cant decide: Am I being responsible to pay less for things that we use, anyway? Is it better to not spend so much time thinking about buying stuff, because I tend to, well, buy more stuff? Do I concentrate less on material things, but use more of our resources to buy said material things? Or do I pay more attention to our spending, and then get fixated?

Perhaps if I weren't such an extremist when it came to projects I could find a healthier balance.

Incidentally, if you like buying a lot of non-essentials, clipping coupons is truly the way to go. If you want to get nearly-free air fresheners, man, I could really set you up. There are about a million and one coupons out there for Glade. The margarine that we buy every week? Not so much.

you're so bigger

Julia is almost one.
I am kind of sick, thinking about it. Even as I say things like, and When the girls are older, we can take the train downtown for the day and Won't it be fun when she and Lucy really play together? And When I'm done nursing so much, I can wear a dress again.

But. Really, I just love her little funny body. The little no-neck. The little rolls, and pudges, and the stubbiness. Her smacking her lips when it's time to nurse. The baby talk, and the headlong crawling, body wagging from side to side.

I know it doesn't happen this way, but I have this vision of her turning one, standing up, getting and insisting she doesn't need to hold my hand when crossing the street.

Perhaps my panic is due to the fact that not long after Lucy started walking, she decided she didn't need cuddles. No voluntary hugs or kisses for months. She is plenty snuggly now, but she's leggy and rangy, and quite her own person, thank you very much. It was kind of abrupt.

My old roommate kept her double mattress when she got married for, as she put it, "enforced cuddling." Maybe I'll keep her in the Ergo until she's three, on the same principle. She'll learn to walk eventually, right?

Oh, Julia. Like Dyami's mom, used to say to Lucy when she was just a wee thing: You're so bigger.


Those days when I think "Why are they so annoying? Why can't they stop asking me questions and bellowing and whatnot? What am I thinking, homeschooling two children? I can't possibly do this even another hour."
Those days, I should immediately take some echinacea, vitamin C, theraflu and go to bed early. Because the gathering stormclouds indicate that someone (Lucy, definitely, and me, possibly) is about to become very, very ill.

Friday, September 24, 2010

thankful, sorta

Stomach flu only lasted a day.

Suddenly speaking briefly? Join us for Six Word Fridays at Making Things Up.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

an upside, sort of

When the baby pukes* many times in the early morning, the upside is she kind of likes being cuddled.
It's not much of an upside (poor thing), but it is something.

*The puking lasted about an hour, and then stopped. Phew.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Oksana Baiul, this means YOU

Lucy, dressed in a fairy princess (pink + wand) costume:

"Mama, read the signs. This one says:
This one says,
She pointed out the rest of the (pretend) signs:
and, because she wanted me to quit nursing her sister:

Duly noted.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Another interest we're pursuing right now? Dinosaurs. Lucy inevitably is drawn to the books targeted at 8-year-old boys, with (fairly) graphic pictures of T Rexes dismembering a triceratops. WHich I refuse to bring home.
However, other than this, dinosaurs are great fun. Perhaps the best time we've had is yesterday, when Lucy decided to draw some dinosaur bones. She drew a picture of a green monster, all knees and elbows, with big pincers (hash marks all over one mystery appendage), and on another sheet, a crooked, purple tooth.
Then she told me about how fearsome the "bronkisaurus" was, how long it's teeth were, how sharp its pincers.
"I'm so scared!" I said, throwing up my hands.
She patted my shoulder. "Don't worry about the bronkisaurus, Mama. It's just pretend."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

out of the mouths of babes

First day of kid's choir practice,
carpet squares scattered on the floor,
the children squiggle and squawk until--
Miss Myra picks up the guitar.
Softly, softly, she strums and sings,
And twenty bodies all sit still.
They are singing now, clapping, patting.
They stand, they sit, they whisper.

Is it not magic to listen
to one woman charm small children?

Suddenly speaking briefly? Join us for Six Word Fridays at Making Things Up.

going just a little too far

When we moved to a small coastal village, we were excited to be surrounded by our local businesses*, and to patronize them.
But living so close to all of these businesses also has it's more annoying aspects.
For instance. A few blocks from our house was a gym. I'll call it "Total Gym." Occasionally, we'd see sweaty people emerging, sipping waterbottles, as they walked to their cars.
Then one day, I saw some guys running down the street in military fatigues and white t-shirts.
The next day, I saw the boot-camp guys running down the street carrying really large medicine balls (think boulder-sized).
The day after, they were carrying each other down the street--lugging them like they were very large bottles of water (or medicine balls).
Then, suddenly, the name of the gym was changed from "TotalGym" to "ArmyGym" and everything was all boot-campy, and two lines of big guys holding up traffic on the street, and people using megaphones and whistles, and call-and-response marches. All within blocks of our house. Very audibly.
Now, I can understand the appeal of boot-camp style fitness. Not my personal cup of tea, but certainly a good regimen. But must costumes be involved? And moving an army recruitment depot to our neighborhood, without the heroic service to our country?

*Incidentally, we live in a sort of hub for yoga studios, Italian restaurants, and colon hydrotherapy. Hopefully, there's little cross-over between the three industries. Also, colon hydrotherapy? Should not really be advertised by a little sign on the main drag, pointing to one (of the many) practitioners just off the main drag (as is done down the street from us). At least, I hope they're not getting walk-in traffic.

The Adventures of Brazilla

We emerged from a dry creative period over here (crayons, puzzles, games were all uninteresting) to a flowering of writing. Lucy is producing her own series of books: Dora and the Princesses. We have almost no gear of either character, nor do we watch any shows/movies featuring these characters, so we needed to add some to our house. Hmmm.
Actually, the princesses of our series are not the pastel-hued Disney royalty (though Lucy loves them, loves them with a ferverent love) but our own creations: Brazilla and Erma. They lend Dora their old gowns and try to keep their jeweled silverware from being stolen by little girls named Rosie and defend themselves with Bubblegum Blue! Whatever that is! And all is beautiful, and they all love their balls, and dresses and tea parties, and they say so, often.
As a writer, I noted with interest that the first book went fast, and the pages were fille,d but by the third, it was harder to come up with new ideas.
Welcome to my world, Lucy.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Julia is sporting a brand-new smile. The bottom two teeth poked through a few weeks ago, and then four on the top decided to emerge, as well. All at once.
We suspect this may have some bearing on our (still very) early mornings.
Anyway, I’m amazed at how my now (gulp) eleven-month-old’s face has changed with the addition of those four upper teeth. That mouth went from being a sweet baby mouth to one that is quite rascally. It makes her look like a six-year-old boy with a slingshot.
In addition, she has changed her vocabulary. Now, instead of saying “Ba! Da! Ma!” she says, “Bum. Dum. Um. Bum.” All quite seriously, with much gesturing and shrieking.
All this is to say: her infanthood is drawing to a close. If she weren’t so darn cute, I’d return her and get a fresh new baby to smell and squeeze.
Of course not! Instead, I am going to find a way to keep her from getting any older. Would tight clothes help?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

early, early, early

Here it is, Wednesday, and I have not yet posted this week. What with Julia deciding that 5:30 am is a very good wake-up time and working on the manual for our family business after the children go to bed, the free time for posting has been, let us say, lacking.
I think I'm going to give myself the week off and meet you back here on Monday. Monday, Monday, Monday. Bright and early. Or, actually, hopefully not.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I finally succeeded in getting Lucy to listen to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. She's listened to one other chapter book (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but that one has chocolate in the title), but so far all my other attempts have failed. I don't want her to be forced; I want her to enjoy.

And now the time has come. She can follow and have the attention for chapters. She asks for the next chapter, and we're reading the book in satisfying gulps.

I keep looking at the titles on our shelf, whole worlds of books to discover, the rest of the Narnia adventures, and Mary of the Secret Garden, and Charlotte's Web, and Heidi, and Stuart Little, and oh, so many books. They may not come tomorrow, but they will be here soon, these worlds, worlds we can explore and savor together.


We bought Lucy some new crayons yesterday. A small box: only $0.79.
Is there anything more satisfying than coloring with a new, sharp red crayon?

Friday, September 3, 2010

My friend Melissa is relaxing with her new baby (perhaps "relaxing" is the wrong word?) a few friends are guest-posting at her blog. My turn again! And just in time for Six- Word Fridays! Check out the fun at Making Things Up!

Two monarch caterpillars in a box
perch on the top, awaiting chrysalises.
A new mom friend admires them,
then talks about returning to work.
“It is physically painful,” she says.
Mutual friends told her motherhood is.
Painful, I mean. I add: transformative.

Caterpillars turn to sludge inside cocoons,
solid to liquid, their brains dissolving.
They stay that way for weeks.
Ah, but those gossamer, spangled wings.

Suddenly speaking briefly? Join in at Making Things Up.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

all of a sudden

My friend Melissa is relaxing with her new baby (perhaps "relaxing" is the wrong word?) a few friends are guest-posting at her blog. Today is my turn. Check out the fun at Making Things Up!

A week ago, Julia made her way over to the coffee table, placed one hand on the side, and pulled herself up to a standing position.

Now she is attempting open-heart surgery.

Okay, not really. But what is it about these milestones that thrusts babies into a completely different continuum? It’s like each new skill is a rocket launch propelling them forwards. Now I can’t get her to lie flat while changing her diaper, she’s grabbing items off the grocery shelves, shrieking in the car, and working on her dissertation.

Sure, I want her to grow and change and develop, but I always expect this nice even ascent, instead of a blast-off.

We should really put babies on intractable problems, like global warming and texting while driving. Surely that forward drive could be used for something other than ejecting naked bums off of changing pads.

Join us all tomorrow for my turn hosting Six Week Fridays. Tomorrow's topic? TRANSFORM. Changes, metamorphoses, or Decepticons. Get more info (and cool buttons) here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

my big accomplishment today

was figuring out that the character that supposedly died in the mystery I was reading was in fact, not dead.
Is it a measure of how much I like the book that I feel pretty proud of myself? Or that I need to get out more?

flight path

Dear City in Which I Live:
What gives with the helicopter noises in the middle of the night? So far I've been woken twice with minutes of chopper-ing, all in the wee hours of the morning. And my baby too. Did I mention that you woke my baby?
What with the coastal train choo-chooing at all hours and the friendly neighborhood bikers, we have enough engine noise for now.
Hmmm. It just occurred to me that the chopper might be Life Flight, as we do live fairly close to a hospital.
You get a pass, fair city. For now.

Monday, August 30, 2010

the car

Today we celebrated a friend's birthday at a local diner at the end of a pier. We parked near the beach, walked ten minutes down a gorgeous boardwalk, and enjoyed our burgers and cupcakes. Lucy gave her friend a homemade card and present, and got a little cardboard pink Cadillac from the restaurant to take home.
She was distracted when I gathered our things, but I made sure to grab the pink car. "You know as soon as you forget it that they'll need it and have a meltdown about it," I said to the other people there.
We said our goodbyes, and Lucy happily took my hand as we made our way outside.

A minute or two later, I said, "I got your car,"
She stopped still. Her face crumpled. "No, Mama! That belonged to my friend!" And just like that, she was wailing.
You're kidding me, I thought. A meltdown for remembering the car?
We have to go in and give it baaaack", she said.
We had only minutes left on our meter. I knew it would take longer to navigate back upstairs, give back the car, go back out, and make it to our car. "We can give it to her next time we see her," I said.
"Noooooooooooo!" More melting down.

I was already carrying Julia, so there was no picking up Lucy. There was nothing else to do. I grabbed her hand, as gently as I could, I helped her walk down the pier.

Oh, is there any walk so endless than one with a screaming child? Every so often, I'd bend down and try to get her to calm down, but my one solution--giving the car to the friend later--was met with more screams. The fishermen, swimsuited tourists, the walkers and the restaurant-goers all stared at us as we walked down the boardwalk. We were much more entertaining than the fish.

Finally, we were almost to the end of the pier. Lucy fell to her knees and howled. "Noooo, Mamaaaaa! We have to give her her caaard!!!!!!"

Wait. Excuse me? The card?

I bent over. "Honey, she has your card. The card. I brought your car." I opened my bag, and pulled out the Caddy. "See?"

She looked in the bag, verified that there was, indeed, no birthday card in there, and said in a perfectly normal voice, "That's so silly!" Then she started skipping down the boardwalk as if she didn't have a tear-streaked face.

Ah, misunderstandings. Next time, I hope to have one on land.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

still waiting

To feel confident parenting two girls,
to know how to navigate them,
their twin needs, nurse or nap,
play or discipline, older or younger.
Today, nothing went right, my attitude,
napping, speaking kindly, older biting younger.
At nine AM I was done,
with a full day left over.
I apologized for being cranky, twice.
We went for a walk, found dandelions,
veins in leafs, pine cones, clover.
We bought lemonade from our neighbors.
Not a perfect day, but survivable.
Each day is harder than expected,
but also more lovely, magical, full.
I'm waiting, but also living, now.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Julia's shrieking? The kind I wrote about here? It has not gone away.

Here's when she shrieks: at the drop of a hat. At dinner. Or any meal, really. When she does not want what she has on her plate, and/or is done. Or thirsty. Or maybe just morose. Who knows? She is a baby, and can't tell us.

She seems a little pickier than Lucy at this age, but that just might be because she SCREAMS WHEN I DON'T GIVE HER EXACTLY WHAT SHE WANTS WHEN SHE WANTS IT.*

I'm not much for running after children with food, but this baby? I will start pressing food against her lips, in the hopes that she will just STOP SCREAMING. Here's what goes through my head:
Eat the ham! *($()$) just eat the ham! Okay--what about apples? Please? Please? Ack! Now you don't like apples? %$#^!

It does not help that we are getting towards the end of the week and our go-to foods are depleted (banana, peach, spicy italian sausage**).
And yes, she does want the food. When she gets what she wants, she will eat astonishing quantities, and then sleep through the night. Thus making me a little more into her eating astonishing quantities.

The shrieking is a phase, right? A phase? And if so, it will end soon, right?
Not that soon, you say?
Don't make me start shrieking.

*What's strange about this behavior is she is truly the sweetest, most easy-going baby any other time. Put her in a high chair, though, and beware.
**Yes, she's a quarter Italian. She has also started gesturing expansively when she's baby-talking.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

who are the ad wizards that came up with that one?

Lucy asked for some waxed paper today and spent a good ten minutes carefully folding it into a narrow strip. To this she taped two twisty ties (one orange, one blue).
"Look, Mama," she said. "A prince shooter!"
"A what?" I asked. Our taste in fairy tales here runs to the traditional, end stop. Favorite pretend game? Cinderella. Favorite dress-up outfit? Princess gown. Favorite video? Faerie Tales. You get the picture.
Not in the picture: regicide.

Lucy explained her invention. "See? A prince shooter! Princesses press the red button (indicating orange twisty) and pop! a prince comes out! A boy can press the blue button! Pop! See, the prince is dancing on the table!"
"Look at him go!" I said, admiring the invisible, jigging, foot-high princ. "How convenient to be able to get princes whenever you want!"

Wouldn't Lucy's invention really change the dynamic of all of those old fairy tales? Who needs booby-trapped mattresses, slimy frogs, or a cantankerous beast when you can have the Prince Shooter (TM)?
Batteries not included.

Monday, August 23, 2010

too many projects

Every once in a while, my good intentions catch up to me.
I like a good project to sink my teeth into, challenge myself, improve things around the house.
Except starting them is just a little easier than finishing.
Here's a list of on-going projects. Perhaps listing them might make me more likely to finish?

  1. Frame Lucy art and display for fun and quick (well, not so quick) home decorating! (3/4 framed, sitting on the floor)
  2. Refi house to save $$$$. I called our bank and did not get a call back. Smashing.
  3. Learn how to use coupons to save $. So far, I am doing a lot of thinking about using coupons to save $.
  4. Make a beach blanket for the summer. Hmm. I have what, fifteen days left?
  5. Finish making happy birthday banner for Lucy. A looming deadline helps.
  6. Sundry other sewing projects. Not a good sign when you can't remember what they are.
  7. Make the doll/hair that I started with Lucy. Why I let her talk me into putting hair onto a "quick" project we started together, I'll never know.
  8. Probably something else I'm forgetting.
Note to self: Do not start any other undertakings until this list is finished.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

no cooking school yet

Today, Lucy asked for a music stand with some sheet music on it. We retrieved some songbooks from her room, and she opened a colorful Mother Goose song book. She found the page for Hot Cross Buns (which she doesn't know), and said, "I will sing my own song to this."
Here's how it went:
We eat some socks!
We eat some bear stuffed animals!
We eat some chef's hats, yes!

Here's my chorus:
We cough up stuffing
and thread and yarn--
Let's wear the hats instead!

Thursday, August 19, 2010


My parents volunteered: watch both girls.
Two hours: I drop off/pickup.

Dropoff. Exchange cars with the carseats.
In their car, I dream big:
Lunch, nap, clean. Relax, read, tea.
Home! Pause. The garage door opener?

In my car. With my purse.
And the cellphone. #$@$. @%%*&. %$#^.

Returning to their house, revising plan:
Get keys. Drive home (again). Lunch.
Look at clock. Get my girls.

What is it they say again?
The best laid plans...ah, well.

Get short with us at Making Things Up and Six Word Fridays!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

none of that, now.

Today Lucy's friend Gia came over. After some puppet theater and jumping on the bed, they found some of the sundry balloons left over from our surprise party on Saturday.
Gia threw one into the air.
"Gia, don't celebrate in here," said Lucy.
Heaven forbid.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

attention, please

Lately, I've been a bit short with my girls.
Sometimes, I just want a few minutes with no questions/squalling/musical performances etc. I want just a minute to check email in peace, or drink tea, or whatever.
Funnily enough, I do not get that, and the lack of that time bumps up against my desire for it and creates just a tiny bit of friction.
Today, I tried to let it go, just a little bit. To close the computer, put down the book, and just be with my kids without having as much of an agenda.
I don't know if I was successful, but it felt good to recognize the irritation for what it was (my problem, not theirs) and own it. It felt good to reframe.
Not that I don't need me time, or alone time, but when I'm not getting it, it sure doesn't help to be thinking about it all the time.
How about you? Any reframing going on lately?

Monday, August 16, 2010

party planning

(Daddy asleep upstairs Saturday morning.)
L: Mama, let's have a surprise for Daddy!
Me: Okay. What?
L: We'll blow up balloons, and when he comes downstairs, we'll yell, "Surprise!"
Me: Sounds great. Which balloons do we use?
(Picking balloons) (Blowing them up) (Wrapping a board book for a "gift")
(Daddy moving around. Showering.)
L: I'm going to go upstairs and tell him we're having a surprise for him.
Me: Don't tell him what kind--otherwise it's not a surprise, right?
(Lucy upstairs, telling him we're having a surprise, and probably what kind. She comes down. Grabs balloons. Dyami coming downstairs.)
All: Surprise! (Throwing balloons)
Dyami: Oh! thank you everyone!
(Julia rolling around on the floor with joy; also crowing)
(General happiness)

Friday, August 13, 2010

said Lucy to her friend

Lucy (Holding out her hand): Hey, Ginger, you worried 'bout something?
Ginger: Why you say that to me?

Answer: Because Lucy's mama says that to her periodically. Sometimes without cause, apparently.

PS. Is there anything sweeter than two preschoolers holding hands?

this much I know: too open

Moving baby+unlocked cabinets=much stress.
Please, let's find workable child locks.

Join all of us over at Making Things Up for six word fridays!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Lucy is downstairs, helping "answer" the phones for our online stop motion software business. She really wanted to help. She has been answering the phones for the last half-hour. Perhaps we should pay her. Or, perhaps not:

Rinnng, rinngg.
L: Hello.
Customer*: Hello, I want to buy some software for stop motion.
L: Okay.
C: Can you help me?
L: Yes. I'm almost four.
C: And you work there? Is that legal?**
L: Yeah.
C: Can you tell me anything about the software?
L: Well, you can get it from our cabinet. And, it's kind of a CD, with movies in it about stop motion.
C: Movies? Do you have any software?
L: Uh, well, you can go to the stop motion store to get that.
C: Can you tell me anything about the software? Like, can you draw on the screen?
L: Yeah! You should come over here, to our house, and get it.
C: Where do you live?
L: Mexico.
C: Ah. Do you speak Spanish?
L: Uh-huh. Um, iewogjsdif. See?
C: Okay. Well, I'd better go.
L: Okay. How do you say goodbye in Spanish?
C: Chao.
L: Show. Goodbye.

Ie, Dyami.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

the noise

Dear Neighbor,
Thanks for being generally nice, in a non-committal way. We wanted to move to a place a little less prissy than the very Suburban place we used to live in, so we're trying to just hang with things, and not be, well, prissy.
The motorcycle? The one that you drive? That is Loud? LOUD? LOOOOOUUUUD?
I'd like to ask you to tone it down, but do I really want to start alienating you? Do I want to be a jerk and complain to our landlord? And yet. You have woken my baby up. You have not woken me up, yet, but I'm waiting for it. Mostly, though, I just am incredulous. It's so offensive. It's so loud. It is much, much louder than it needs to be. It is a gunshot that keeps on giving.
Aren't there laws about noise, and mufflers, and such? Do the police not take them seriously? It's clear that you do not take them seriously.
Really, neighbor, I am at a loss.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

butterflies, everywhere

Since Lucy started looking into butterflies, we've seen a lot of butterflies. This is the classic situation of once you buy a blue Ford, everyone has a blue Ford. Except nicer, because they're butterflies, and they're free.

I'm not much of a naturalist. I was, a bit, when we lived in the Sonoran desert as a kid--Arizonans take seriously their education about the desert, so I knew all about barrel cactus, and how to tap them for water in case of being lost, and why ocotillos get flowers after a rain. But we studied birds for one unit in fourth grade, and I dutifully took out my bird guide around the house to get some sightings, and I think I saw fewer birds than I did when I wasn't paying attention.

It's a little embarrassing, actually, to see a white butterfly with your child and know nothing about what it is. Is it common? Rare? What does its larvae eat? And what the heck do you call it? I mean, I'm all for letting her discover things on her own, but I'd like to be smugly informed while she does it.

But funnily enough, after a few butterfly books, and a few weeks of looking at them, we're both starting to learn. Today we saw a butterfly that I used to think was a moth (until I learned moths fly at night).
"Look, mama, a skipper," Lucy said. And it was. So: my daughter is a genius. And: I have come a long way. Not two years ago, a friend wrote a poem about a skipper in my MFA program, and I thought it was nautically themed, not a treastise about environmental degradation.

About those ever-present white butterflies? Cabbage whites, I think. Common. Destructive. But still, so pretty, with their ivory wings with the greyish green spot in the corner.

It's lovely see more deeply, and to do it with my daughter.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

the mario cart cure

Julia was six months old, waking up five or six times a night, and I was sick. Dyami was gone for two days, and we were moving in three.
I was beyond bleary-eyed.
Our sweet neighbor volunteered to watch our girls for an hour while I tried to rest. It didn't work. In other words, both girls were fine, but I lay awake in bed, heart racing, trying to talk my anxious body into sleep. After about fifteen minutes, I gave up, more tense than before, and thought about going and retrieving my children.
Instead, I turned on our new Wii and popped in the Mario Cart disk.

I'm not much of a video game fan. I have little patience for the learning curve, and my type-A personality feels guilty wasting time on something so unproductive. But I like some video games, and Mario Cart is pretty fun. You can't die, you don't kill anyone, and a lot of the courses are set in sylvan meadows or maple groves, with funny characters and banana peels trying to get you to crash.

I had laundry to do, a house to pack, and a neighbor I was imposing on. I felt guilty turning on the TV. But I did, and I played for a a good twenty minutes. I maneuvered my go-cart down the course, with my little character, Toad, fist-pumping any time I managed to hit an opponent with a turtle shell. I tried a new course, Rainbow Road, a thin ribbon of track surrounded by an expanse of starry sky. I kept falling off the road, and going down in flames like a comet. At first, I gritted my teeth, then I started laughing at my own incompetence. The game rates your performance at the end of each round, and I got an E, which is polite for "failing." It was a relief to fail at something that didn't matter.

I finished the game, turned off the TV, and walked across the street to retrieve my children. I was still horribly tired, behind in packing, stressed about the move, worried I wasn't going to sleep that night. Mario Cart hadn't solved anything.
And yet I felt better. Somehow, taking time to be purely frivolous, to be irresponsible, helped me feel better. I would have preferred a nap, but since that wasn't possible, I took the Mario Cart cure.

Ah, for a Mario Cart cure everyday, to take myself less seriously, to laugh, and to do something for myself that doesn't absolutely need doing.

our froggie

We went to our local nature center the other day. The park guide was kind enough to give us a little "treasure" map of the nature walks around the building, pointing out local animals and plants to check off as "treasures"--butterflies, ants, herons, lemonade berry bushes, willows, frogs.
We had good luck: a swallowtail butterfly, a heron, about ten lizards. We wanted to see, or hear a frog, though, and a walk past the little cattail choked pond did not produce results.
Julia kept chuckling, a throaty noise, deep down in her throat, like a cat with a hairball.
"Julia's our frog," said Lucy. "She's croaking."
We laughed together, checked off the frog, and went on to hunt a spider web. With our chuckling, ribbeting treasure along for the ride.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


Ignore sniffles, open freezer: ice cream.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

what a difference a nap makes

another erg day. I could not think of anything to do; both girls were as cranky as I was, and I couldn't even muster the energy to leave the house. Until about 2, when Julia fell asleep, and I fell asleep, and Lucy fell asleep, all until about 3:30.
It was the longest nap any of us had had in more than two weeks, and I realized, upon waking, that it was exactly what my body had been crying out for.
Laying in bed, every bone felt heavy; when I opened my eyes, the brightness made me wince.
And then we all got up, and left for a hike in a nearby nature center. we all chirped like birds and found spider webs and lizards and butterflies, and I realized anew that it is a lot easier to parent when one is rested.
The sniffles I have had for the last three days are gone, and so is the blehness. Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you sweet Jesus.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Another day of bleh. This cold, it is not bad, but it is like Kryptonite. It will not go away, and I so far have not found a lead safe to lock it in (abandon metaphor! abandon metaphor!) I hate feeling as cranky as my kids. Snitty. This is the perfect adjective. I have been snitty all day. Surprise! Four year olds are not so cooperative when one is snitty!

On the bright side, people are actually getting enough sleep for their bodies (stopped waking up at 6:15 and taking 1/2 hour naps) so eventually we should all catch up and stop feeling drained.


Oh! And on the real bright side, I went to the thrift store today and found this juicer:

I know--it looks like a medieval torture device. But wait! It's fabulous--you press the juice out of the fruit, instead of twisting--then pour the juice out of the clever spout in one end. My mother-in-law introduced me to its wonders and I have been longing for one ever since--except it's not something you can get at Crate and Barrel.

We made grapefruit juice. Which helped both the cold and the general disposition of everyone. Hooray, juicer!

Monday, August 2, 2010

caterpillar clothing

Did you know that caterpillars shed their skin when they're about to turn into a chrysalis? And that they drop the shed skin to the ground like an old pair of jeans? And that if you are lucky enough to come across said skin, you can see their old body all wrinkled up, including eyes, tentacles, and little mandible/antennae thingies?

Also, did you know that doing home school preschool is allowing me to be even more of nerd than I ever have been?

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Dear Ikea,
Ah, Ikea, Ikea, Ikea. Where do I start?
Okay, those pert little handrails I noticed today, just at the right height for a child? Good one, Ikea. You made me smile. And then you had to post a sign next to said handrail, saying something like "See? We care about our little ones!" Which made me narrow my eyes. What are you trying to sell me, now, Ikea, now that you've become my child's caregiver? Rainbow-pack plastic tableware? Fabric with numbers scrawled on it? Those humongous blue bags for only $0.50? And throw in a new bedroom set, now that we're here? Only $1,099--and real wood!

The first time we met, I was appalled. It was like Vegas, except for furniture. I mean, how was I supposed to leave the place? What time was it anyway? The tiny, cheap votive candles are calling to me, saying, spend! spend! Surely you'll use 100 of us! I turned in circles, found an exit, and skedaddled, hands empty.

I didn't come back for years.

Then I had children.

I started noticing the perfect, child-sized tables, the metal cookware, the bright beads of the abacus, the red-legged easel. Any questions regarding said items brought this mantra in response: I-kee-ahh. I-kee-ah.
I shuddered. I considered. I got in my car.
I bought things.

Now, every time I return, I find more to love, and more to hate. Oh, the crowds of consumers, heaping yet another picture frame on their carts. The siren call of cheap, well-designed goods. The eye for detail, coupled with that seductive price. The outfitting of our new rental for much less than I thought.
I-kee-ah. I-kee-ah.
Soon you will be asking to return home with me in greater quantities, unless I resist. Do I really need new kitchen towels? Shelves? Fabric printed with primary-colored flowers?
So don't be appealing to my children, Ikea. Not fair. Not fair at all.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

so sorry, child

After bath last week, naked baby:
round, plush, so new she's dewy;
skin, and skin; perfect pinked toes.

Today, feverish, falling asleep in-arms,
I'm worried but not panicked, yet.
But sad: how can pain exist
in such a perfect, precious package?

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

uncle!! uncle!!

I am ready for both children to not be sick and for the baby not to be teething. Both are cranky all day, one is pushing every single boundary (Every! Single! One!) so that I would like to put locks on all the doors and gates into every room. I would also like some Valium for myself so I can be a little more Zen, a little more relaxed, and not sick, and not mean angry mommy all day.
Ugh. Tomorrow must be better. it must.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

teething, finally

It's official. The teeth have arrived.
It's a great feeling, because I can say, "She's teething!" and know that she's actually teething. Not just being a baby: mysteriously fussy and prone to being unpredictable.
Now, don't get me wrong. I feel sorry for Little Bean (as I call her sometimes*). She was just sad today, and cranky, and you could tell she was hurting.
But it's just annoying to say, "Maybe it's teething" every few weeks. Or have people tell me, "She's teething! Definitely!" I mean, at some point, saying that has no meaning, you know?
These teeth, they are like Godot.

*I'm a lot more indiscriminate with my terms of endearment with Julia. Besides Little Bean and Baby Monster, there's Little Goon and Little Boober. I don't even know what a boober is, but Julia is one, apparently.

Monday, July 26, 2010

don't be flexible

Okay: I admit it. Generally, my goal in parenting is to let go a little bit and not be so, well, uptight. To let my standards slide just a bit.
But last week? I should have listened to my Type-A self.
Beach + mobile baby + very cute wool hand-washable* pants = one nasty clean up job. I was trying to be spontaneous, to not think about the consequences. I let Julia crawl around without removing said pants. Because she loved being in the sand! And after all, it's just dirt, right?
Very sticky dirt. Very sticky and small dirt. That saturated the pants so that ten rinses later, there is still grit on my hands when I touch the stupid pants.
Oddly enough, the beach is not a good place to be laid-back.

*I know, I know, what the heck am I doing, putting hand-washable pants on my baby? It's for cloth diapering, okay? And don't worry--I only wash them once in a while--since wool is anti-microbial--I just let them dry out! ANd they're fine! Well, at least for my slip-shod standards.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


We returned from our lovely trip to my in-laws two days ago. Something about our time there always sort of devolves, kind of like the stages of grief:
  1. Arrival: What acceptance we get from family!
  2. Hope: Our kids will always love each other! Our families exist in perfect tandem! We will get decent sleep while we're here!
  3. Reconstruction: Okay, not great sleep. Actually, extremely crappy. But with a nap, I'll be ready to leave and drive the three hours home.
  4. Bargaining: Okay, so napped a little later than we meant to. And it's Friday. And we have to drive through LA. But it'll be okay as long as we keep moving.
  5. Shock and denial: Ack! Bumper-to-bumper on the 101 to 405. Surely it can't be like this the whole time? Maybe if we stop for lunch, it will get better!
  6. Pain and guilt: Okay, honey, yes. You should have woken me up. Point taken.
  7. Depression (along with rage, pain, guilt, etc). We are trapped on a long corridor with no exits with one misbehaving child, and one screaming infant who keeps getting woken from a fitful nap. We are never leaving our house again.
And then we get home and start planning our next vacation. Apparently, we recover quickly.

Hats off to my friend Abi, who actually attempts real trips with her children. Check out her insight here!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

family time

Watching Lucy with cousins, I smile.
They are less close than siblings,
more permanent than friends can be,
and hers are such lovely kids.
How did we get so lucky?

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

the herd

We're visiting my in-laws today and tomorrow, and it's always odd to come here and suddenly only have one daughter. Because Lucy walks in my father-in-law's house and promptly disappears, joined by her cousins Ava, Milo, and Paloma. They make mud pies, catch butterflies, have dinner in the backyard, and ask for some privacy if any adults come in their kingdom.
Ah, to be three-almost-four and run in a pack...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

a project

This morning, I asked Lucy, "Do you think you're a big enough kid to learn things?"
"Oh, yes!" she said.
"Good! I have been thinking of some things you might want to know about, and I thought you might choose. You could learn about butterflies, or--"
"Butterflies! and dragonflies!" By now, she was jumping up and down. "How do we learn about butterflies, Mama?"

And at this point, I didn't quite know what to do, because I had no Plan. I had decided just to try asking the question, and was half-expecting a tepid answer. I had no resources, no books, nothing in mind.

But in the end, perhaps that was better. I asked Lucy what kinds of questions she had about butterflies, and where she thought we could go to find answers about them. We found out about a butterfly vivarium close to here, and went to the library, and made butterfly drawings, and wrote down questions.

"Don't I ask good questions, Mama?" she kept asking me.
You do, dear child. It's fun to give you a chance to ask them.

Monday, July 19, 2010

it's never good when your infant is bleeding

Full disclosure: She's fine.
Even fuller disclosure: It was my fault.

When decorating, I've discovered, it's good to put the disassembled picture frames (with glass!!! glass, Heather!!! Glass! Think!!!) well out of the way of the very mobile infant. Because she will go over and slice her finger on the glass, and then gamely move away without even a whimper. And proceed to look through a board book*.

One hopes this is because it didn't hurt too much, and not because the glass was so sharp that she didn't feel it.

When Dyami went to pick her up, he was at first confused by the spots of red all over book, hand, face, neck, and then increasingly alarmed. He took her to me, and we quickly became hysterical (sort of a calm parental hysterics), trying to find the seeping wound, decide where it had come from (wince) and whether it was life-threatening. We talked in Loud Voices and Grabbed her hand, and I'm sure upset her Far More than the actual slicing.

Lucy, thoroughly confused by our panic, asked, "Mama, Dada, why are you afraid of Julia?"

Five minutes and a few douses of pure goldenseal later (thanks, Cord Care), we had decided that it was a surface cut, that no harm was done, and that the picture frames should perhaps move well out of reach of all children.

Ack. What if she had tried to suck on the dumb thing? Oh, Lord, thank you that she wasn't hurt. (Shudder).

*The board book is kind of disturbing: smears of blood on nearly every page. I think it might go into the trash, because the combination of blood and bright illustrations is kind of awful.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

star light, star bright

We went to the beach yesterday. Julia ate her first handfuls of sand, and for a while, she looked like she had a five-o'clock shadow.
We got home, and I bathed her, and still there were specks of sand on her. Then she slept, and woke, and gosh darn it, if there weren't still specks.

Except the sand was gone. The specks were moles--two of them on her face. It's sort of a fantastic moment, these little stars coming out on her; I wrote about it when Lucy got them.

For those of you who have never seen me, I have a lot of moles. Many are large (say about the diameter of a chocolate chip) and rather irregularly shaped, and kind spongy in an unnatractive way. They're fine--certainly I don't hate them, but they're sort of a pain, since dermatologists look at them, shake their heads, and say, you should really get those checked regularly.
I guess of all the features of my body, they wouldn't be on the top of my list were I to put myself together. (Though I think I would be sad were I to have to get all of them removed).

Something about having children, though, makes the little blemishes of one's own body lovely, poignant, and precious. Lucy's moles I know--a few on her face, one on her arm--and they are as dear to me as her eyelashes, her funny triangular toenails, and the way her hair frizzes in the back. Julia's moles, too, are dear. They are little marks that say I belong to this woman. They are little bits of me that got sprinkled on her. Like the chips in chocolate chip cookies.

They are especially dear now, when they are appearing: like stars coming out. They are like little promises of the toddler, preschooler, girl, and woman she will be, these marks that will be with her always, part of her face, as unique as her fingerprints.

I wrote a story once where a girl saw constellations in her moles--Orion's belt scattered across her belly, the Pleaides on her leg. It wasn't that great. How much better to see these stories unfolding in front of me, the stars coming out in my very own family.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

me, briefly

Describing paradise, CS Lewis once wrote
"Come further up and further in."
In up to my elbows here:
Children, challenge, partnership, beauty, friends, words.

Bean sprouts unfurl on our table
each leaf seeking and finding light.
I can see their roots sprawl.
Thank you Lord. I'm rooted, too.

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"ideal" is not the ideal

Today on the Motherlode blog, Lisa Belkin talks about "ideal" births, and how they are soo overrated. "The point is not to have “a birth” but to have a baby," she writes to a reader. If that means c-section, epidurals, "non-natural" birth, so be it, she writes.


I am so tired of the "you just want a spa-treatment" attitude towards women who want a "natural" birth. Perhaps some women choose to eschew epidurals to get little gold stars in someone's playbook, but my concerns were far more primal: I wanted to avoid a c-section, major surgery, uterine scars, and an increased risk of death. I wanted to protect my uterus against possibly fatal adhesions for future pregnancies, problems with fertility, increased risk of ectopic pregnancies, and increased risk to future children during birth.

A friend of mine recently gave birth to her third baby. Her first was severely premature; her second induced. Both labors were far from "ideal"--the second, especially, was horrific. Her third, however, was just what she wanted: she went into labor naturally, got to the hospital on time, and labored for a while without drugs. Then she asked for an epidural and got one--but it wore off in time for her to push. She felt supported by hospital staff. Throughout, a good friend of hers stood by her side, encouraged her, coached her, and told her she could do it (this friend, by the way, had one home birth under her belt, and is a personal trainer; a pretty good combination for an impromptu doula).

I am so happy for her. I couldn't care less about her getting an epidural or not--it wouldn't have been my choice, but it worked well for her. What makes me so happy for her was she had support in her labor, and she had choices. She felt comfortable with them, and comfortable with her caregivers.

Contrast this story with another friend, who birthed at the same hospital. She had done extensive preparation--classes, reading, etc--but when the big day came, she didn't know the midwife on call, and didn't feel comfortable with her. When her labor stalled, and an OB came in, she felt waves of condescencion rolling towards her. She ended with a c-section. What breaks my heart about this birth is not just a c-section that wasn't "ideal", but how alone she felt during a raw, exposed experience. Why is it even possible that a first-time mother (and father) can be meeting their birth attendant for the first time? For her not to have someone there with her throughout her labor? (Sure, her husband was a partner, but it was his first time experiencing labor, too) This is most women's reality, and it's absolutely appalling to me.

"Ideal" is hardly the point. I just want women to have a voice, to be able to trust their caregivers, and to be treated as equal partners, not as blips on a monitor watched by someone in another room.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

a plea for calm

Dear children,
You know I love you, right? What with the smiling/laughing/creativity/soft skin/little fingers?
Now that we have that clear, I just want to ask:


The shrieking/scream at the drop of the hat, when you're done eating, or I won't let you have something that's not for babies, or when you're getting your diaper changed in a VERY SMALL ENCLOSED SPACE that amplifies the shriek until it's ear-splitting? Could you stop that, please? Or at least work up to it, so I have SOME WARNING? (Sorry I keep YELLING! I think perhaps my hearing is damaged FOR SOME REASON!)

And the four meltdowns because on a CD of ten songs, you like three, and have listened to all of them, and want to listen to your FAVORITE again, except it's not any of the three you like, nor is it the other seven you don't like, and I keep starting tracks only to have another meltdown half-way through the chorus because IT'S NOT THE RIGHT ONE, could we tone that down a bit, too? Maybe you could just listen to one of the three again, and clap in your adorable way, and then we could all go to bed?

ahem. I mean, Thank you.
and I love you. Very much,

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Berenstain Bears and the Unassisted Home Birth

I am always glad to find books that celebrate home births, especially since they are so few and far between. So to find an unassisted home birth in such a mainstream book as the Berenstain Bears really made my day.

The book is called, officially, "The Berenstain Bears' New Baby". Small Bear outgrows his small bed, and heads out into the woods with his dad to build a new one. He hasn't noticed that his mom's tummy is much bigger--but his mom pauses a minute to celebrate that "You've outgrown that snug little bed just in time!"
While Small Bear and his dad sharpen the axe, and chop down wood, the little bear keeps asking what will happen to his bed.
Imagine his surprise when his dad tells him he's going to have a new sibling!
And imagine my surprise when they come home to his sibling--already tucked into the old bed, and even dressed in white with a bow in her hair!

It's amazing: while they were in the woods, Mama Bear went into labor, gave birth unassisted, birthed the placenta, cleaned the baby and herself, cut the cord, cleaned the mess, dressed the baby, moved the old bed into the other bedroom, and got back into her classic spotted blue dress, her belly back to (admittedly round) normal size.

I mean, they didn't even mention the hospital! Or even a midwife!

I've always thought women who do unassisted birth were pretty self-sufficient, but Mama Bear really takes the cake.

you know you've drunk the Koolaid when...

You think, "Oh! Look at her cute little turd!"

Sunday, July 11, 2010

home inspiration

We recently moved to a duplex a few blocks away from the beach. We're renting a three-bedroom here, and can now walk to restaurants, the library, and our local thrift store whenever we want. The house has a lot of light and huge rooms, more kitchen storage, and is in the heart of a town that I love.

So how come I'm still trying how to figure out how to like it here?

Here's the first problem: I loved our old house. I wasn't ecstatic about its location (think Anywhere USA suburbia, and you'll have a good picture), but I loved the house. It was small in a snug way, we had painted its walls nice colors, refinished the kitchen and bathroom, and after eight years there, it was ours. I moved a lot as a child; I'd lived in this house longer than any other house in my life--by a good three years.

This house, with its fantastic location and gorgeous light, is a rental. It is decorated in boring whites and beiges, and no matter how I arrange furniture and pictures, it still doesn't look pretty to me. Or more to the point: it doesn't look homey yet.

But. This last weekend I pulled out my copy of Handmade Home, and started thinking strategically. For me, nothing makes home homier than stuff I make. I'm thinking a collection of art I make with Lucy, a few craft projects, framed in some thrift store frames. Maybe, if we decide to stay here long enough, we'll paint a few walls.

I think this house (or, at least, this town) is a good place for us. It is hard for me to let go of my old house--my old home. But maybe making some memories here by decorating it and making it home will help.

Anyone have any fabulous ideas for on-the-cheap rental decorations?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

feeling: wistful

Julia woke up screaming last night--
an hour after bedtime--very unusual.
I picked her up, rocked, patted.
She relaxed, head on my neck
Crooking, trembling, snorting, breathing magic.

She is almost nine months old.

I am all done having babies
I am all done having babies
I am all done having babies
I am all done having babies
I am all done having babies
I am all done having babies

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

do something

I just finished Half the Sky, a book about the brutal treatment of women around the world, and the amazing stories of women who have fought back, established support for other women, and pursued education, justice, and freedom. What's stunning about the book is how big a difference women's welfare can make; the authors argue that the countries that have started to tap the potential of half their population (like China and Bangladesh) have risen out of terrible poverty to a more hopeful position in the world.

I always have a hard time reading books about brutality, and this one was no exception. Truly, the things done to women--sexual slavery, domestic violence, neglect during childbirth leading to death or disfigurement, and rape used as a weapon of war--are even too terrible for me to think about. And yet how do we do something about these horrors unless we all think about them a little more?

At the end of the book, a call to arms: do something about these atrocities. Do something about the millions of girls missing because of selective abortions or neglect during infancy.

And here I am, lost. Sure, I can give money. In fact, some organizations I know of (Women to Women, Partners in Health, World Vision) that I've supported in the past, were mentioned as bright lights for women. But--what else do I do? I wanted to start by posting, and seeing if anyone else has any bright ideas. How do you support women around the globe who are struggling with vicious persecution? How do we focus our unimaginable resources to help fight these unimaginable horrors?