Sunday, November 30, 2008

thankful

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What a tremendous week we've had. Really, it's been mellow, but tremendous in the fact that Eliana, Jeff and I have had five days of total togetherness. No work, no obligations, just time to be and play and laugh and share in all the sweetness that is this little girl right now. We shared our Thanksgiving with Jeff's folks, Eliana's Auntie Kelli and Uncle Jack, and Jack's parents, all up from Oregon. The day was lovely and calm and good. As always, it was wonderful to watch family share in the fabulousness that is my girl. Auntie Kelli, particularly, loved to hang with Elie and gave her baths, changed her nappy, and reveled in her silliness.

But what I keep coming back to are all the little things that this girl is up to these days, all the small ways she brings something new to our lives every single day. Like today when she established that her baby was, "Stinky, stinky, baby" and flapped her hand up and down in front of her nose, making a funny face, like she was smelling something bad (and, of course, she was totally on the money cuz baby was super stinky this morning!). Or the way she has learned to climb on top of every single chair and sofa and bed in the house, making for some tremendous feats for someone so small, as well as tremendous bouts of anxiety for her mama who pictures her flying backwards, but doesn't want to get in the way of her explorations and growing confidence.


There's the way she watches people at the dinner table and imitates their expressions, laughter and intonations, so trying to be a big girl and be a part of things. There is her wild, expressive face and insatiable curiosity that seems to find her way into any and everything these days. And the way she knows when she's into something she shouldn't be. She says, "No, no" and shakes her head and just sort of loiters in the naughty area (Lucy's food bowl, for example) Or the way
that she is trying to master various feats on her own these days. For example, she has this obsession with her pink, John Deere cowboy boots. She says, "Boots? Boots!", locates them, and then tries, valiantly, relentlessly, to put them on her feet. Of couse she has her rights and lefts mixed up and really can't pull them all the way on, but when I try to help her (aka, do it for her), she jerks the boot away and says, "No!" She then says, "Again!" and tries to put her boots on again. It's wild. I so want to help her out of her frustration, but she so wants to do it her way. I know the pink boots will serve as a metaphor for the separation and power struggles to come. For now, I'll watch her try to pull the little boots on to her feet, watch her tug and turn, watch her patiently and progressively attempt, yet again. I'll try to breathe in every sensation of the moment, try to commit it to my memory forever. Her crazy outfit of legwarmers and diaper, one sock on, one sock off, one right pink boot dangling off one left toe. The perpetual, runny nose. The wispy light hair. The enormous eyes and deep dimples. The playful, high pitched voice.

Write it all down, because time refuses to stop.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

two peas in a boat

Nici had the brilliant idea of bathing the girls together so we could prolong our dinner date tonight. They are too damn sweet.


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Friday, November 21, 2008

the big N


The Friday night blog and wine sip has become a favorite past-time of mine over the past sixteen months. While I talk a big game about Friday nights, I generally end up folding early, putting Pea to sleep, and surrendering to a night with my computer. So, here I am, another Friday. And tonight I have the big N on the brain.

N for nurse.

Or as Eliana would say, "Nurse? Nurse? No. No."

Being the little parrot that she is, the little pajarita, she's quite good at echoing what I say. And lately it's, "No, no," (when she pulls gently on my shirt and says, "nurse?"). We nurse at bedtime."

But let me back up. Homegirl has added quite an arsenal of new words to her wild vocab over the past few weeks. One of the most important being the verb, "nurse." It's kinda funny too because I never really said the word, "nurse" until recently. It just didn't seem too appropros to me given the fact that I had no idea she was listening and building up an insane bank of voabulary memory that she would then bust out on me at, say, fifteen months or so.

Hey mama amigas... homegirls and boys are listening.

Watch out!

So here we are.

I was telling everyone I would nurse her until our trip to Mexico, as I was sure the love juice would help us out on the plane and during our travels.

Truth: All she wanted to do on the plane was talk to the other passengers and cruise the aisles saying, "Hello" and "Hola" and "Bye-Bye" and "Ah-dios" (aka, Ah, god), to every fool she passed. Nursing was not nearly as exciting as all those sets of eyes, all those smiling faces.

Which brings us to the notion of weaning the lil honey.

TBQH (to quote my dear Sissy, "to be quite honest"), I really do think I would be one of those crazy hippie mamas if I wasn't self conscious about it or worried about the ramifications of trying to wean her at, say, four. I love nursing. We do it well. We don't do it often. In fact on Wednesday, she slept through her morning nurse and by the time she was awake, I was long gone for work. When it was time for her evening nurse, mama was back in the dance studio, and she didn't have the opportunity (we are on the two nurse a day plan at present). I was kinda reeling when I went to sleep realizing that it had been a good 36 hours or so since I'd nursed her.

But then she woke up in the night.
And boy was I ready with my shrunken totties to give her all I'd got.

It takes two to tango.

I seem to be a very willing partner.

Which brings us to the weaning weekend, which I really need to plan. I need to just go away. I need to rent a cabin somewhere, gather some homies, buy a couple of bottles of wine, and cut lose. She really isn't that interested in the boob anymore. Tonight she nursed for a total of maybe seven minutes. God knows I don't need to "bond" with her anymore. We are in this insane state of connection. We have inside jokes (ask her about her "hot breath" - that's some funny shit). We are totally linked in a gazillion ways. It's really just a letting go thing. On both our parts. And I guess I need to be the "bigger person" and spearhead the movement.

But it kinda kills me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

sayulita, baby


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What a tremendous week we had in splendorious Sayulita! Sayulita surpassed all expectations and was the perfect blend of the cobblestones and delicious street food of traditional Mexico and the ease, safety and comfort of a gringoized beach town. We ate way too well, laughed loud, took long siestas, surfed (Jeff), swam (Gil), read a ton and enjoyed the company of some of our closest friends.

The wedding celebration was just gorgeous - decadent and classy and groovy and heartfelt. I danced hard and ended the night with a skinny dip in the Pacific with our lil Missoula posse. By that point, Eliana was happily asleep with Lety, her local babysitter, after, of course, getting crazy and mildly freaked out by her first pinata. Our dear friends Andrew and Julie thought of everything - down to the personalized, eco-savvy tote bags stuffed with personalized beach towels waiting in our room to the "churro man" that arrived late in the evening to assure everyone had something doughy and delicious to soak up their alcohol laden bellies. What perfect and absurdly generous hosts.







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As everyone said, babies and beaches go together perfectly.

Eliana (aka, "Sand Monster") loved playing in the sand, rolling in the sand, snacking on the sand, and making friends on (and with!) the sand.

Other highlights include, having some really good times with my girlfriends (and the way they would hold and hang with my chica so I could get my groove on). We're talking lots of tequila, lots of silly moves on the dance floor, some great 80's tunes ("Send Me An Angel", anyone?) and some exciting wave diving on uninhabited stretches of Pacific coast.


Watching the love between two of my dearest amigos, on their first trip alone in five years (or since the births of their two boys).




Eliana's new found love for all things girly, including her baby and blankey and mommy's jewlery bag and fabulous joyeria.

Eliana's other, new found love for "tacos" and learning that the one carb she really seems to enjoy is the tortilla. My pediatrician would be proud! She chowed down on avocados, papayas, the bananas that fell in front of our door, black beans, Oaxacan cheese, and tropical fruit smoothies. She definitely ingested the most sugar of her life at this bar on the beach. We ordered the best damn round of pina coladas I've ever experienced. It was one of those place straight out of a movie. Just a simple wooden frame, a few stools, a stacked bar, and some really, really happy folks. I realized that Eliana was the only one not enjoying a bebida. So homie behind the scenes threw lots of tropical goodness into the blender. You could literally see the sugary juices jolt through her body before she started to boogie. When she came down, she had another one of her long, superb, Mexican naps.
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Another highlight and cause for many smiles throughout the trip came from Eliana's gift of the gab. As we know, Eliana is insanely social. She does not discriminate against anyone and her absurd verbal skills allow her to say, "Hello" and "Bye bye!" (or, "Hola" and "Adios" as the case was in Mexico) until she gets the response she's looking for. Sayulita was a town that loves babies. She was treated like a queen everywhere we went, given plates of free beans and rice, allowed to walk back into the kitchens or restaurants (especially if the restaurant was out of somebody's home), kissed and hugged and loved by all sorts.

Watching her strut on the sand, supremely confident, totally content, was, perhaps, the very most fabulous of the fabulous things, though.



A frustrating part about blogging way too long after the fact, is that you lose the freshness in the images and sensations because they get so muddled in the passing of time. This trip was so tremendous and I just don't feel like I'm capturing the moments as well as I could have at the time. After much searching through my sea of crap (post travel I always get this itch to get rid of all my crap, my car, my house, pack up a backpack, and hit the international road; I'm having a tough time adjusting to the mountain of stuff which seems to represent my life). Anhoo, I just located this piece of paper out of Eliana's diaper bag. It captures more of the poignance of the trip than I seem to be able to relay this evening, here at my computer on a freezing, windy, gray Montana Thursday.

"Now that I am such a cyber-writer, I totally didn't think to bring a journal of any sort on this trip. Luckily I brought a few sheets of paper thinking that Eliana may suddenly take to crayons. While she's still sleeping and Jeff is playing on his surfboard, I can lie here in the sandy sheets, ceiling fan whirring above, palm fronds shiny and green outside our huge windows, and record some of our luxurious time. I have to begin by saying how important and super special it is for us to vacation, just the three of us. I feel like we get in this love groove. It's so easy for us to get lost in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. We seem to just be savoring one anothers company here. It makes me realize that so many of our little issues stem from the drama and exhaustion of the day to day. Take us away from jobs, housework, obligations, and it's nothing but sweetness, nothing but the moment, the precious present.

That's what travel has always represented for me. It's always served as a meditation on the moment. On the people you encounter. The foods you try and savor. The unusual landscapes, foreign tongues, currency changes. I want to take everything in because it is nothing but fresh. I guess my lesson here is to try to bring that home with me. That focus on detail, on beauty and uniqueness, on bringing my very best self to the table."



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Thursday, November 6, 2008

a new day


Jeff and I have an old, sweet little saying. I think he started it, which makes it even sweeter. But on special days, usually the weekend, when we wake up, we'll say to one another, "It's a new day!" That saying has been passed down to our girl. I greet her in her crib and say, "It's a new day, Eliana" pulling the shades in her room so she can see the light and life outside her window.

That saying is more true than ever today.

A new day. I can hardly believe it. A new day for our nation, our people, our children. Replete with hope and open-mindedness, tolerance and revolution.

Yesterday I could barely take it all in. I think between the funeral sadness and the election anxiety, I was just emotionally spent. Plus I've been working like a mad-woman because we leave the country for ten days on Saturday. Lots of loose ends to tie up at work and at home.

I stayed home with Eliana while Jeff went to a party. Some friends burned a life size scarecrow-statue of Bush. There was revelry and community and craziness. But Elie had more vaccines on Monday and was having a rough go of it on election day. I figured she could benefit from a quiet night at home.

With our rabbit ears, we get decent reception for only one channel. I sat glued to the one station, watched while they moved between national coverage and our, ridiculous, home spun news coverage. Jeff and I get a big kick out of the news here. It's pretty ridiculous. Growing up in L.A. with the car chases and gang warfare, poverty and celebrities, there never seems to be a shortage of decent material. But in Missoula, we always seem to be searching for something unusual and different to report on. It can be amusing, but with a history-in-the-making event, you kinda want up to snuff reporting.

I got to the point where I couldn't watch our lame, local news anchors babble on any longer. Her bangs and make-up and poker newscaster face were driving me batty. I got up in an anxious huff and, with a wave of newfound energy, scoured our kitchen. I refused to go back into the living room until some time had passed - enough time to receive some new information. After the floor was swept and the dishes were put away, I wandered into the bedroom to tidy up there. As I was walking back through my little house, I glanced at the screen. The TV was now on mute. And there it was. In red letters, planted on the screen.

Barack Obama has been elected the 44th president of the United States.

Holy lord.

I sat back in my chair. My body was suddenly covered with chills. Tears were streaming down my cheeks. I wanted to scream, but Eliana was finally asleep. I could hardly stand it. Hardly believe it. I stared at the TV for a bit longer, making sure it wasn't a mistake.

I remember when I first heard Obama speak at the convention in 2004. Jeff and I were on our honeymoon, marooned in a little hotel room on a four mile stretch of island off the coast of Venezuela.

I said to Jeff, "Who is this guy? He's hot. Oh, and eloquent too!"

Jeff, the current events junkie that he is, gave me the lowdown. I remember being so moved by his words. Remember thinking that it had been a long time since I'd been remotely impressed by someone in US politics.

Four years have passed. I've seen this man, this revolutionary, speak less than a mile from my home. I've watched my community congregate. I've read a gazillion emails and donated money we don't have to the campaign.

Somehow this man got us all to care again. Got us to go out on a limb. Got us to have a bit of faith in that gorgeous word, possibility.

This morning when I woke up, the sun was bright. It was another new day. In the blue chill of a crisp November morning, I walked Lucy up the hill behind my house. From that spot, the view of my little town with the light and beauteous, mountain panorama, I saw Obama's symbol. You know the circular blue with the sun coming up over the horizon of three red diagonal stripes? The symbol in our yards and on our cars, pinned to my student's backpacks, printed on our tee shirts. I felt myself lost in the hope and possibility of that symbolic representation.
Again, the chills and tears came. I was able to take it all back in. I left the worries of packing and substitute plans and sleep schedules behind. I let the power of this time in our history make it's impression on my little frame. One person on a small mountain, in a small town, in this tremendous country.

Last night a friend of mine said, "I kinda wish I was in a place with black people right now." I totally hear her. Missoula can be such a white, progressive, outdoorsy, shiny, happy people sort of bubble.

But I didn't feel her urgency to be back in an urban center. It was almost like I knew that somehow, when I am back in a more diverse community, I would feel this new sense of cohesion and togetherness. Like now, we really are all in it together. In it for the better.

And while, in the end, my state didn't turn out blue, my town most certainly did. This nation most certainly did. That seems to be plenty to celebrate for now.

Monday, November 3, 2008

reminder


Today was a big day. I'm left feeling sad. Anxious. A little freaked out. Kinda rattled and full and not sure where to put all my emotions.

Tomorrow we are electing a new president. That's enough to turn my belly. Bring out all my anxieties in thinking about the future, the future of our country and how that future will impact my world, my girl. And thinking about the uncertainty of it all, the uncertainty of this world.

I attended a funeral today. I heard my strong and proud and articulate third grade student remember his dad. Watched him step up on the step stool so that he could reach the microphone. Watched him take deep breaths, watched him speak with the pride and the self-assurance of a boy who is wholly loved. Heard him speak about the great man, the great doctor that his dad was, his dad who suddenly passed less than a week ago. His dad who gave me my first glimpses of Eliana when she was just a little sprout in my belly. Who had the vision and drive to open the beauteous center of her birth.

Many times during and since pregnancy I've marveled at the job of OB, of midwife, of doula. What must it be like to be there for that tremendous, mind-shattering event, day after day? Does it ever lose it's absolute sheen? Does it become mundane? How full must their every days be? How could you not feel like you were living your life to the fullest when you spend your days welcoming life into the world? And after years and years of bring life into the world, one day, yours is snatched out from beneath you.

There were so many tiny babies at this service. So many pictures of babies on the walls. The cry of a baby breaking the uncomfortable stillness of ceremony. The connection between birth and death, the reality of it all, the continuum, the cycle, so very present.

Death is such a terrifying thing. Mystifying. Real.

My friend recently wrote about accepting the mortality of her child. Reading her words brought me to tears, made me shake a bit as I thought about how much courage it takes to talk about death.

I don't have any wisdom tonight. I try to stay pretty in tune with the notion that moments are precious and time is sacred and to be used with audacious joy. But then you go from a funeral to taking your babe to the pediatrician. And you are waiting for the nurse to bring your daughter's shots after already waiting for what seems like forever just to get in. And you start to feel antsy and itchy and tired and it's already dark because daylight savings was last night and you are the last patient of the day. And you wish you had your own cell phone so you could make a phone call to your husband, complain to someone, tell him you are still waiting.

And then your daughter provides you with yet another lesson of the day. Because she has found absolute joy in an item in the doctor's box of plastic goodies. She has figured out how the marble is attached to the lever that is attached to the bright red plastic switch that she can maneuver. She has shared this discovery with you and then proceeds to kiss the toy. All you can think about at first is all the germs covering this disgusting old piece of plastic. But her, "Aahhhs" get louder and she snuggles the plastic box to her chest.You remember the lesson. The joy of the moment. The discovery and beauty of now. You look at her enormous eyes. Her round belly and skinny, little legs. Watch her pass you the toy so you too can affirm her joy. Watch her in her ridiculous ability to be present.So I guess that's all I can attempt to do.

Be strong.
Be here.
Share my love.
Live with joy.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Halloween

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Eliana really got into the spirit of her mama's favorite holiday this year. While I was a bit worried at first about her being able to hang in her costume (I think it sorta freaked her our initially), she got used to it. She was mildly overwhelmed by the loud festivities in the school gym where she joined mom and dad for a Halloween parade. I love the little school mascot she is; all the kids and teachers adore having her around.
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Then it was off to Nici's for soup and our first try at trick-or-treating. Elie was hilarious. Once she mastered holding her basket and walking simultaneously, she was off. She would then go up to the door and say, "hiiiiiiii!" The only problem was, she didn't want to stop at the door. If she had it her way, she would just go right on into the various homes. Jeff and I got a big hoot out of her weird interactions with the neighborhood peeps.
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Then it was home by eight for bedtime. All in all a perfect holiday for this tuckered out little family.

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