Friday, April 24, 2009


I've tried really hard this week not to vent or rant or complain too loudly about being alone with my girl. Being that this is our last day of alone time and I'm still ready to burst, I think it's time to let off a bit of steam. First of all the dog. She's really making me insane. Last night was the first night since Jeff left that Eliana slept through the night. But then there was the damn dog. She paced around and whined at me and wanted to go outside and wanted to kill every squirrel, college kid, random noise that came from our busy street. She's my straw. Always. And home interrupted my first night of uninterrupted sleep. Grrrr.

Then there's the poop in the tub. This might be sort of cute and weird when you have a little tiny baby. But when your kid is counting and putting little sentences together and seems to be quite in tune with her wants and needs, why in gods good name would she poop in the tub two nights in a week. The only good thing about this scenario is that last night I managed to get out of the tub (we enjoy bathing together) before the turd hit the water. And her sick little antibiotic cacas are not exactly solid. It's totally gross. It makes me think of that stupid Alanis Morrisette song. "It's like raaaiiiiin, on your wedding day." But instead it's like, "Poooooop in your bath, after a really long day." I know a more focused potty training is on the horizon. But it's certainly not something I'm going to tackle this week.

Another lovely new development is Eliana's ability to whine. And fake cry/moan. She woke up this morning in such a whiny, needy place. She said, "Daddy? Daddy sleeping," because I told her before bed that daddy would be home tomorrow. When she saw that he wasn't in bed this super incessant, ridiculous whine kept coming from her. I was so damn sleepy, my eyes all crusted shut, my body just craving a few more uninterrupted, quiet moments in my warm bed. I tried to get her to snuggle with me. No. Whine. I tried to bring her babies into bed. Whine. Thrash. Tried books. Nope.

Guess what got her quiet? Barney. That big, annoying purple dinosaur. And the only thing she'll eat with her Barney? Sicko goldfish crackers that I bought the other day in the store when she basically fell apart upon spotting them on the shelf. When did I become this trashy TV and junk food mama? I've never even had goldfish in the house before. I know it's not a bad food. I know that every kid loves goldfish crackers. But even when I was a kid I thought there was something totally sick about goldfish. And the next thing you know you're frantically ripping the bag open in the middle of Albertsons because it's the only thing that will enable you to get across the store to the cream isle because all you really need is goods for your coffee because coffee and wine seem to be the only things that are allowing you to get through your days alone with your kid.

And it doesn't help that everyone in Albertsons that day seemed to be over 87 or extremely special needs and/or the victims of some terrible accident where they were confined to a wheelchair. Or they were a member of a five plus child family, all the little snot faces crammed into the cart. Elie wouldn't sit in the cart and wouldn't hold my hand so I had to push my cart and lug her 22 pound self in the other arm. Then you get stuck behind one of these sad, sad cases that is moving as slow as anything and it's enough to make you feel a little insane. The Albertsons by my house brings out all sorts of issues in me. My prejudice agains poor white people. My lack of tolerance for unintelligent people. How grotesque I find certain types of Americans. There I was with my organic cream and my seventh generation diapers, a pawn in the game of corporate America along with the rest of them.

Woah. I said I wouldn't go there. But it feels so good to say all the things I'm not supposed to say, even if I'm just typing them into my computer, some goofy Barney songs setting the tone in the background.

Let's change the tone. I am incredibly lucky to have a beautiful, smart, funny child. I know it's normal that she feels needy sometimes. Of course she does. And she knows that we are alone and she just wants my attention. I also know that I have a husband who works so hard to be the best daddy he can be . He is such an integral part of our daily routine, so crucial in enabling me to teach at night or see my friends. I cannot wait to see him tonight. I can't wait to want to cook dinner again, spending time putting together healthy, savory ingredients because it's not just me. I've kinda let most of my standards go this week. I can't wait to snuggle with him, to hear him say, "Why don't you walk Lucy up the 'L'? I'll stay here and hang out with Els." Can't wait to enjoy my dog again because, she too, is a dog with her own needs.

So it's a short work day, Eliana and I don't have any play dates or plans, and we can just have a quiet afternoon until daddy brings his vanload of middle schoolers back from the Tetons and we're there waiting on the curb, arms outstretched, smiles wide.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


Friendship. I'm feeling so full of thanks for the tremendous friends in my life. I've decided it's okay to be redundant about some things in this blog. Gratitude for love and acceptance and generosity is one of those things. Jeff is away and we need some extra help. My girls have been in full effect - at the house for food and q.t., giving a hand to help Els and I through, even helping walk Lucy. When it feels overwhelming or lonely, when I wonder what in the world we'll do for the next big chunk of time, just the two of us, I see this light. The light is the girls coming for dinner. Or an old friend stopping by to catch up. Or another one I don't see enough showing up with a bottle of wine and an itch to sit in my yard and break it down. Or even neighborhood peeps that I run into at the park who I've always wanted to get to know a bit better. That's what I'm talking about.

I see the friendships forming in Eliana's life. I see the friendships that I am forming with her friends. I love that we are becoming that family. That family with, "family friends." It wasn't a concept I understood too much as a girl. We were a large bunch and our own, wacked out village. And I came out just swell with that loving, haphazard crew. But there's a certain simpleness to the girlfriends in my life and in my daughter's life that is exceptional and rare. It's honest. It's dignified and reliable. It's funny and genuine and a gift I send all my appreciative goodness towards every single day.

Monday, April 20, 2009

fakin' bacon

My daughter is an actress. And a faker. And a complex, hilarious, exhausting nut. With another earache, another fever, and a new round of antibiotics. And we're all alone for the next week. But I'll do my best not to gripe.

Where to begin? Eliana is totally learning how to fake me out. She is a drama queen (can you believe that?) and everyday she seems to be working to further hone her craft. She is caught between being this totally independent, headstrong goofball and being a needy little monkey girl who won't let me put her down. She's decided she doesn't need to eat, but knows that a great way to get out of the crib at bedtime is to ask for food. The more specific the culinary request, the more impressive the response from her gullible mama. She is such a sneak.

Tonight I made her a "milkshake", thinking that this might be a way to get some calories into her. I put about ten things in the blender including basmati rice (grains?) some pureed carrots, lots of banana and frozen yogurt. She was digging doing, "cheers" with me (I was not drinking the "milkshake", I might add - thankfully it was after five and I could rationalize the chardonnay). We were sitting on the lawn in the sunshine, smiling, clicking our glasses. I would take another sip of wine and she would take a huge guzzle of milkshake, complete with gulping noises and a bit of an, "ah" sound at the end. We did this again and again. I started to feel a bit loopy. I also started to realize that the line of milkshake that was showing through her sippy cup was not going down. She was totally fake chugging her drink. And she managed to get me to believe her.

"You are fakin' bacon, Els Bells!"
"Cheers, Mama!"
"You are fakin'!"
"Cheers, Mama?"
"Fakin' Bacon!"
"Airplane, Mama! Clouds! Sun! Moon! Birds! Cheers!"

She smiled a smile that told me that she knew that I knew she was a phoney. I'll give her credit for being clever. And keeping her mama laughing, even when things are wildly unpredictable.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

family unit

Eliana has a new obsession with family units. She likes to talk about the people she loves in relation to the rest of their family. The holiday picture of some of our old friends from California is on the fridge and Elie loves to take it down and name everyone in the picture. She talks about them like she just saw them yesterday, when in reality we saw them a few times over scattered, overcrowded park visits. She talks about her cousin Piper and then immediately says, "Chickie Bum Bum" the word my sister Wendy whispered in her ear in December. How she remembers these people, let alone that they go together, is beyond me. She talks about Jiah, and then immediately mentions his brother Solan, mama JoJo and daddy Bob. She says, "Nanapoppopruby" like it's one word because the unit of Jeff's parents is so clear in her mind. Her favorite 14 year old Dessa is immediately followed by Julie, her mom, and Chris our friend who works in the office next to her mom. Weird. Smart. Very, very smart.

Which brings me to thinking about our little family unit. We have finally found our groove. It's a rough start on a couple, the incredible, all-consuming presence of a child. While Jeff and I are both very busy and our daily lives are full of "the revolving door" parenting method, in which one parent comes in, while another parent goes out, we are still managing to find time to really revel in being a threesome. This past weekend we spent the entire day of Saturday together. It is, sadly, not something that happens very often. We cooked together. Went to the park together. Hiked together. Dyed easter eggs together. Went to the nursery together. Put laundry away together. Put Elie to bed together.

It was a really, really beautiful day.

The post-spring break days for a teacher are in some ways the toughest. The excitement of a new year has died down, the long winter months are over, and the days are getting sunnier while the exhaustion level increases. The end is near, yet not really. Two months is a long time.

But last weekend got me thinking about the summer and how much time our little unit will have to be together. Teaching was the first job Jeff and I had. I was 22 and he was 21. We met, ridiculously enough, in the teacher's curriculum center in a big, overcrowded public school district. We only know the calendar of the school year. It's our rhythm. Our pulse. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

So for now, I'll concentrate on slowing the swinging door, continue to make plans to spend whole days together, and be full of gratitude for a husband and a child that I adore spending this precious life with.

Monday, April 13, 2009

easter bunny

I just looked back at some of the titles of my recent posts. "Sunshine." "Happiness is a fluffy bunny." "The pink happiness." Lucky me. Those all sound pretty swell. So to tie in the whole bunny, happiness theme, I'll continue on my cheerful note. Easter was super. I had pretty high expectations and had kind of built the whole holiday up in my mind the way a seven year old builds up her birthday party, only to be totally distraught when the guests arrive because things aren't just so. I sorta had that moment when Eliana wouldn't go down for a nap and yammered away with her baby for three hours while I got increasingly more anxious that she would ruin my party by not sleeping. My handsome hubby even went as far as to call our amigos and tell them to come an hour later, us hoping that she would eventually go down.
My theory is that I talked too much about the Easter bunny coming and her buddies coming and us finding all the eggies in the yard. She knew I was excited, so she was too.
Anyway, as always, she was fine. She even managed to stay in her Harriet Tuban-esque hat that matches the purple corduroy dress that I found in a recent hand me down bag.
Gotta love the giveaways. The hat was a hoot. She's a hoot. Not only did Els have her first egg hunt, Homegirl had her first jelly bean, first m and m and first disgustingly sugary, "Peep." What kinda nut invented the Peep? Freaky stuff. It's like she totally knew before she even tasted any of that stuff that she had to love it. I've never seen her consume anything so quickly.

The day was lovely and warm and I actually managed to show some leg and not freeze to death. I am so tired of wearing jeans! We also finally buried Eliana's placenta (my placenta? the placenta?) that has been getting lots of freezer burn over the past twenty months. Burying the placenta somehow seemed like an Easter-y thing to do. You know, instead of going to church. We planted another lilac tree on top of that heavy, icy, red mess of amazingness. Eliana dumped dirt on top of what looked like a big, frozen, rump roast.

Sometimes you can over think a ceremony. Or anything, for that matter. I had these grand visions of us trekking up Mount Jumbo, Jeff carrying Eliana on his back, a shovel in his hands, me gingerly gripping the red, biohazard bag. We would put the placenta under the sacred tree. I would read a poem or light a candle, the sun setting behind us.

But after she turned one, it turned more into an afterthought. I would remember the plaenta when I would dig around our big basement freezer looking for a perfect cut of meat or some frozen kale. In any event, going with Eliana to my favorite nursery on the day before Easter and picking out a lilac while Eliana ran from tree to tree was just perfect. She got all warm and fuzzy with the tree in the backseat of the Honda and even managed to eat a few lilac buds. Sometimes ceremony takes its own path.

And that's the lesson about Easter too. There was so much build up because I was finally in charge of my own holiday. I wanted it to be perfect. Having a homegirl in crime who was even more excited about Easter than I was, got me even more jazzed. Casey insisted on being in charge of baskets which meant they were totally fabulous and included a beauteous, reversable, hand crafted and embroidered skirt for Eliana made from my old, favorite Guatemalen hippie dress. And she emobroidered the "M" for our town and the lovely mountain it sits on on the other side. Too much. She really has more craftiness in her pinky than I do in my whole being. Lucky for me, I have her!

And the dinner was excellent, the lamb just right. As always, the things you can count on going right, the things that are more after thoughts, are sometimes the best part. Like Moanie asking to go in the tub with, "Elalala" and the way they made each other giggle in the warm water. And, alas, the kiss. Always the kiss to mark another perfect moment in our lives.

Happy Spring. Here's to no expectations and lots of unexpected bursts of sunshine.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Is it really this easy, life, when it's sunny out? I was thinking about this when I was reading to Els tonight, her cheeks a little glow-y from the sun, the sun that had still barely set. The weather is such an intense thing where I live, an intensity that is still rather new in my life. As I know I've mentioned quite a bit in this here bloggy, where I grew up, there were no seasons. We took sunshine and fair, consistent, fabulous weather for granted. So I suffered through a smog alert or two. For the most part, as a child I could run around outside, swim in the pool and ride my bike up and down the pavement all year round.

Last week was spring break. I imagined my spring break with Eliana to be long, lazy days in the park, some early sessions in the garden, some burgers on the grill. Instead, every day of spring break looked like this:

Thankfully, after a week of fevers and heaters turned way too high, we woke up on Sunday morning we woke up to a day that looked like this:

It's like entering a whole new world overnight. My house suddenly seems enormous because we can hang in the yard. All I want is to barbecue. I could go on a gazillion walks a day. I don't mind recess duty. I'm thinking gin and tonics, white wine, big parties, loud reggae.

Tonight I rode my bike downtown to teach my yoga class. If I had been a movie and there had been a soundtrack as I biked, smiling and giddythrough the park, it would have been something cheesy and upbeat like, "Brown Eyed Girl" or "Abra, abra cadabra (I wanna reach out and grab ya!)."

Even with our busy lives, the days feel long and lazy. Perhaps it's because I'm present in each moment in a new way. Sorta like Eliana. Every moment is a new discovery. Laughing as the girls at school turn cartwheels and walkovers on the lawn at lunch. Listening to the creek that was just frozen, run like mad through the park. Watching the little purple tulips and yellow crocuses make their hasty way out of the earth. Remembering that the grass really is green.

So it was a super treat to come home on my lunch break to see the little ladies playing on Eliana's slide out back. Look at their ridiculous faces! Their goofy hairdos! I mean, it doesn't really get much better than that.

We all have spring fever. And it's certainly the break we've been waiting for.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

dancing fool

happiness is a fluffy bunny

During the recent poetry unit I did with my second and third graders, one child continually referred to a white, fluffy bunny. As much as I wanted her to explore different metaphors, the fluffy bunny thing was pretty big with her. As she said (again and again), happiness is a fluffy bunny.

I've never really been a bunny person. We tried to have a couple of bunnies when I was a kid and they promptly kicked the bucket. Their sharp teeth and claws freaked me out. I hated their poop. Growing up on an eight lane street with cars going 50 mph is not really the ideal environment for pets.

But Eliana seems to agree with the lil munchkin in my class. Happiness is, indeed, a fluffy bunny.
And this is after an evening spent in the Now Care, her fever at 104, her breathing, sweaty little self listless in my arms, my heart ready to beat out of it's chest with anxiety and worry. I seriously don't know how I'm going to handle it when she gets really, really sick or breaks her first bone or falls off the monkey bars -- I shut down inside, feel paralyzed with fear.

I had put her down at my in-laws and joined my sister and her dancing girls for lunch. Apparently when she woke up, she was burning up and Roseann, an ex ER nurse, threw her in a warm bath to get her temperature down. By the time I made it up there, Eliana was wrapped up in a towel in Roseann's arms, asleep again. She looked so pale and awful. The drive to the hospital was wrought with fear.

She fell asleep again in my arms while we waited in the empty waiting room - me resisting the urge to shout to the ladies behind the desk, what the hell is going on? Why hasn't my baby been seen? Can't you see that she does not resemble the self she was only a few hours ago? Can't you see that I don't have a kid who passes out in my arms, ever?

The big mama nurse bugged me when she said, "Hasn't she ever had a fever before?" Oooh. I could have growled. Don't imply that I'm some naive, nervous nelly mama. Even if I am. Oooh.

Luckily the doctor was lovely and thorough and understanding. She found the ear infection, prescribed the drops and antibiotics, and we were on our way to the pharmacy to get better.

After sleeping through the night for the first time in a few days, she awoke to her fluffy bunny, all wrapped up in yellow tissue, a present from her gran and brought to us by her auntie Hilary. The fluffy bunny is the perfect symbol of her resilient spirit, her desire to be present and happy and light, even when her little body doesn't want to cooperate.

All I can say is that I am so thankful that I don't have to work this week. That I get to read to her all day and pay careful attention to what she's eating and when to administer her medicine. That I get to listen to the bunny sing her whacked out song again and again. I need to be that mama this week. Grounded, focused and thoroughly available for my girl.

Here is a little video of her watching her bunny sing and hop for the gazillionth time over little eggs with toasties this morning.