Sunday, October 31, 2010

Halloween weekend

Oh how I do adore Halloween. This year came on fast and hard. Perhaps because the weather has been so gorgeous and sunny, it hasn't really felt ready to be Halloween. Or perhaps it's because at school we focused on Dia de los Muertos, so Eliana didn't come home with pumpkin crafts and spooky songs like she did when she went to daycare. But even without a lot of build up, today was fantastic.

We woke up to gray and rain. A perfect excuse to stay in our jammies all day, bake a funky Halloween cake and practice our face painting skills. After an early nap for both kiddos, we got ourselves together to join the North side posse for a potluck and trick-or-treating. Eliana was so content to be with her little buddies. They were quite a force when they hit the houses. Talk about a posse. The collective excitement as they made their mass descent upon another house. Such pure sweetness.

Saturday we took a much needed hike in the Rattlesnake to look at the larch. I have a crazy thing for the larch.

It's so wild to me. I didn't grow up with leaves that changed color. I didn't grow up with seasons. I knew about fall from picture books, but the images were always of maples and such. Big, flat red and orange leaves. No books talked about the golden larch. The magic golden larch. Eliana learned about the magic golden larch wizard and his famous yellow needles. She spotted tree after tree, asking again to hear about the wizard and his ways.

Whatever jazzes things up enough to keep her moving on the trail. I adore that child. Her imagination, her determination, her wonder. She wanted to, "paint her pumpkin all herself." After lots of paint, lots of glitter glue and meticulously cut pieces of notebook paper, she managed to create a, "super spooky pumpkin face." See for yourself.

It was so nice have two mellow days with her. No rushing out of bed, to bed, to breakfast, to school. Just taking it slow.

And Big Sol. You know he just kinda rolls wit things. If it hadn't been raining, I would have perhaps attempted to put a proper outfit together for him. Instead I settled for a sort of Kurt Cobain grunge thing; Sol in his black Blondie onesie, baggy jeans and retro looking cardigan. I didn't really get a good shot of the get up. And the lion hat sort of trumped the whole image, messing it up entirely. But Big Sol could give a hoot. He just wants to be close to his people.

So there it is. Another October, come and gone. My mama had her birthday yesterday. My Fall Maiden. After I finally remembered (that really shows how nutty things are right now...there are a few birthdays I never forget, her's is at the top of the list), we talked. All my sisters were gathering at her place for a little dinner fiesta. I felt my familiar pangs of homesickness, wished I could hop to Cali to be with my people. But then I look out my window. I think about this little community we have. So different to hot, palm tree Halloweens. Not better, just different. And mine. Ours, for now. The last golden days.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I had a conversation with a friend this morning as I left school. She asked how I was and with a smile I replied, sleepy. I then alluded to Hottie who was looking up at us from the stroller and said something like, He just wants to be next to me all night long.

Her response was perfect. She talked about her son and how he slept better - they both slept better - the first year when he was in the bed. She mentioned families in Japan, that they sleep together their whole lives.

For weeks now there has been this pull inside between what the books say and what my reality is. I totally get sleep training. We did it with Eliana. It worked. She was and continues to be a tremendous sleeper. Sol, on the other hand, is in a totally different position. The teeny room he was born in is the room he continues to inhabit. Our teeny room. There's no where else for him to go (short of the front hall or the basement, options we continue to return to even in all their ridiculousness). But who the hell puts their baby in the front hall? And I certainly don't want to move down to the basement with him. Besides, radon and mold make it feel unhealthy and ridiculous and desperate.

So why do I resist bringing him into bed when he wakes in the night? I've always been a pleaser. Is it me feeling like I have to do the right thing? Like in order to be a good mama, I have to listen to those books? Am I trying to please The Sleep Lady or Dr. Weissbluth? Am I that ridiculous?
Am I going to create some sort of needy monster if I let him stay in the bed? Those books can be so didactic. Make you feel like everything that's instinctual is wrong. And I love having him close to me. Love that quiet time we get in the night -- especially if it means he sleeps.

Then there's the guilt factor. Perhaps he's up more at night because I'm gone more during the day. Perhaps if I didn't have to go to work, he'd be sleeping like a champ. I know that's ridiculous, but there are always those little voices. So many comments can be taken seriously.

He just wants his mama, Gil. He misses you during the day.

Or in reference to Happy Sad's post school melt-downs:

Six hours is a really long time for a three year old to be in school. She's just had too much.

This may all be good and true. I certainly know that my girlfriend who said this had absolutely no intention of making me feel guilty, of making me feel somehow like a bad mama. But I'm a guilt junkie. Always have been. Give me a taste from the guilt garden and I'll grow it nice and big.

Like yesterday. The The Great Bear Foundation people left this fluorescent pink paper on my front door. Right by my big apple tree, still dripping with apples. Even after Sunday after Sunday of apple picking. And precarious ladder climbing. With a baby beneath the tree in a bouncy seat, apples flying dangerously close to his big, bald noggin. And crock pot after crock pot full of applesauce. And apple butter. But damnit if I just can't get to those top branches. Where am I going with this? So then last night when I'm up nursing Sol, I keep going back to the Bear people. About how guilty I feel for not having my tree perfectly picked. How I'll be responsible for some poor bear wandering around on my busy street, lured by my apples. I wanted to call them at three in the morning and explain how hard I had tried with the apples. Even my neighbor picked some, I would say! You should see my freezer full of applesauce for my baby! Please don't make me feel guilty!

So why the hell am I beating myself up? Why am I so good at being a guilt glutton. This is my situation. This is my family. My apple tree. My little bedroom. We are doing what we have to do. What we want to do.

So thank you mama this morning who made me feel fine about my choices. Thank you for making me feel totally in sync with my instincts.

So many paths to take on this ever-changing journey. So much to explore. Nothing to justify.

Jen, Thank you for taking these insanely gorgeous pictures of our family. You are one talented woman.

Monday, October 25, 2010

dorking out

I'm dorking out hard tonight. I know that part of it is Jeff's away in Seattle for work, so I'm all alone with the chickens, pulling out my dork tricks. Lots of musical theatre on the radio. Lots of dancing in the kitchen. Actually though, along with the dorkness, I'd say I've pulled a few badass mama tricks as well. Like bringing Els to her first dentist appointment which was way, way too much fun. She was awesome! If only I had my camera to capture her on her back in the examination chair, watching A Bug's Life on the TV on the ceiling, headphones on her ears, shredder shades on her eyes. She was in seventh heaven! And Sol was super smiley and sweet, the hunky attraction for the lovely dental assistants. The afternoon involved treats at the Good Food Store, lots of Wicked bites on YouTube (why do you always cry happy tears at these songs, Mama?), a smooth as silk bath with all three of us, and mellow bedtimes. I then got my inner Dorkus Maximus teacher groove on and wrote a rad play about simple machines to debut with my chickens this week. I'm way too excited about it. It's funny what floats your boat as you get older. If six pages of third grade informative humor wasn't enough, now I get to type here on this blog.

Found all sorts of sweet pics on the new camera. Love finding Jeff's gems. I always learn a bit more about what they do when I'm not around. Like this, for instance. Note the second pic. I walked in and immediately beelined for Sol in the big boy seat.

And he took them for a loop around the park, testing Sol's big head in the bike trailer.

Of course, there's my Happy. Who has taken only a few trips to the dark side as of late. Today she was an absolute gem. She's starting to enjoy her brother (mostly). The other morning I put him in the crib so he could help me wake her for school. She was so sweet and said, Mama, take a picture of me and baby bro in my crib! He's always so wide eyed and innocent. She's always so mysterious and deep (an unpredictable mixture of snark and sweet).

And then I catch her in moments of creative genius. She adores all forms of art. Painting and collage and playdoh. Way multimedia, my girl.

Piano playing and dance and, of course, song after song after song. Here she is rocking it hard one night in her room, sola style, breaking free from the piano to bust the Hokey Pokey alone.

Then yesterday, at an impromptu dance party with the oldest member of her dance posse, Moana. When Moana showed up she was ready to rock in fairy wings, footed pjs, and a rhinestone tipped tutu. Watch out. God I love that girl. Sometimes I see her move and it's so me. Pretty cool.

Like her mama, Homeslice also has an uncanny knack with accessories. She can transform an outfit with the addition of one simple piece. I particularly like the neck wear featured in the below images. Straight off the runway, yo.
When she's not a dancing, doctoring diva, she's simply a mama. A mama who, like her mama, loves her Baby.

Even with the rough around the edges sleep, the spotty attempts at leaving during bedtime, the general upheaval and disarray, I am one blessed chica. It sounds silly, but I was so dang proud of my brood in the dental office today. I didn't feel disheveled or scattered, late or frustrated. I was so into that time with my kids. So proud to sit with Elie while the dentist did her thing. So proud as Sol tried to jump from my arms so he too could watch A Bug's Life on the ceiling and charm the pants off the gals in the office. He's even more of a mover and a shaker than his sister. I put him down one place and find him a minute later somewhere else. The king of the roll, that Sol. Love it. Love it all.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

saturday afternoon

I'm sitting up at Jeff's folks gorgeous home. The sky is a dusty, silver gray. The leaves on the hill gold and red, yellow and green, any and all hues of burnt orange. Both of my children are asleep. Their 86 year old grandpa is asleep on the deck, a baseball cap pulled over his eyes. Nana is settling in after taking the old one and the young one on an adventure - first the bagel store (old one) and then the carousel (young one). Her spontaneous date with Eliana allowed me to have a much needed brunch date with a girlfriend and our two babes. So I sit here in gratitude. We are so lucky to have this time here with them.

We never guessed four years ago that Nana and PopPop would settle into our Missoula day to day. Now I can't imagine Eliana's early years without them. Nana with her generosity, the childlike energy that she greets our girl with each time they play together. PopPop and the way he remarks on her curls, her dimples, constantly concerned that she's going to take a tumble, break something. I would never have had this time to get to know my in-laws if they hadn't taken the risk and moved a million miles from everything they knew to be with our little family. We sit here on the eve of another transition; they go back to Jersey in a week. With PopPop's health in a precarious place, we don't know when they will be back.

Saturday has always been a family day. I remember my sister and I playing Fame, making up dances all day long, preparing performances for our patient older siblings. I remember how much I loved going home on the weekends when I was away at college. A Saturday at home meant lying around in my parents bed, watching cable, moving slowly, getting to eat good food out of the fridge. When I get homesick for my family, it's these sort of days I miss. The lounge-y days. A time to just be in the space with the people you love the most. A place where everything is safe.

Eliana is starting to talk a lot about her safe home:
There are no monsters here, are there Mommy?
No baby, no monsters in our home.
No monsters can even get in here, right Mommy?
No babe, you are safe here.

And I hug here a little bit tighter and think about all the anxieties I had as a child (and still struggle with as an adult). Think about how thankful I am for safe places. The comfort of family. These golden hills outside the window, how they hold and cushion us safely in this little valley. My psychoanalyst mother said something about Missoula being cushioned between the safe and warm breasts of the "L" and the "M". While I laughed pretty hard at the time, I'm holding on to her very Freud-laden analogy. This valley has held me. It has held my family. There is so much to be thankful for.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

baby sol finds his voice

Baby Sol has found his voice. And it's sweet. Full of ahgoos and gurgles, full of smiles and grabby fingers. He's so psyched to be part of things, all the time. He's finding his way into a bit of mischief, usually involving his sister's curls. He's decided that he really, really likes to sleep between his parents (goshum golly, I hate this sleep thing!) I vacillate between knowing that he has to sleep on his own to the exhausted, well heck, it's probably my last baby, why not keep him in my arms, a year from now this will all be forgotten and he'll be big. Either way, he's a sweet 'lil dude to have really close by. And he's beginning to look an awful lot like his sister! He's rockin' some of her old duds and it's kinda like looking at an elphin clone. These beautiful, pale, blue eyed children we create. Pretty special.

In other Solomon news, he can now sit up. It only lasts for about ten seconds and then he begins to topple with a big giant grin, his apple pink cheeks all aglow. Until his head hits the floor and then he loses the smile, but takes it in stride. A bit of a frown, but no big theatrics. That's another reason why I love this kid -- he's still pretty low on the drama-meter. This cannot be said for his sister...but oh how we love her just the same. More news from our little preschooler to come. For now, let's hear it for the boy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

so big

It's Monday morning. I've already made lunches, cooked eggs, brought the salmon from the freezer to defrost, dressed and fed a wacky toddler (and attempted to tame her 'do ala Gene Wilder), walked the crew to school, checked my mailbox at work, copied spelling lists for homework, hoofed it back home, made a second pot of coffee, wiped down the counters, put away dishes, paid bills that came in July, showered, pumped, accessorized, put a baby to bed and checked my work email from home. I have fifteen minutes before my nanny friend comes to hold down the fort while I teach. These are the mornings that I'm beginning to get used to. Learning to navigate. And while it's all just the nuts and bolts of a busy life, I can't shake this feeling lately that this all is so big.

I typed that first paragraph this morning. Then continued to ramble on and on and on about life and death and moments and love. The dead deer that appeared on our front lawn last week was a big symbol ("We had a dead deer in our yard for two days last week. Elie talked about all the possible ways it died: A bear got it, it was hit by a car, a flamingo got it... Now when we walk by where the deer lay, we talk about where the deer went after the "Deer Picker-Uper got it...ruminations on life and death, of how big it all, is seem to abound in all forms")

The writing was wild and rambling and not really post-able. I couldn't get at a point. So I'm sitting here, Sol's finally asleep and I'm trying to make something out of it all and he wakes again. He's been having a rough run lately. We're thinking teeth. So I break all the good sleep rules and pull him out of his bucket for another nurse, knowing it's not at all about hunger. He falls asleep again on my boob. I'm stuck, one handed, so I decide to check on what Eliana was doing at five months.

I quickly find a post appropriately titled, "Five months!"

Woah. First of all, a big shout out to the blog. What a gift it is to have it all right here. Way to go me.

Next, it seems this, "It's all so big" theme has been coming up quite a bit since the little ones found their way into our world. I have Eliana's every last word, mood, change logged. It was all so big.

And as for little Solomon at five months, do you think his nuances are captured here? A big no. Our collective groove, perhaps. My personal chaos, maybe. Happy Sad and her wild ways, certainly. So let's give a big shout out to the hugeness of Solomon.

First of all he is, indeed, huge. Eliana looks so dainty in those five month pics! Her wiry little frame, the skinny arms and legs. There's a reason Jeff calls Sol, "Big Chunk." He's meaty and heavy, strong and solid. One big mass of love.

He's starting to really recognize his people. I'm probably at the top of the list, quickly followed by his sister. Jeff's pretty high up there too. He's not as social as his sister is, not as eager for everyone's rapt eye. Mainly just mine.

Sometimes I feel like we're secret lovers or something, his sister's watchful, jealous gaze on us at all times, her occasional, "Drop him!"s that directly correlate to her lack of sleep or food consumption. I don't get enough one on one love time with my guy. But I guess that's part of what makes second born's so special. He's always been part of a package deal.

What else about Solomon? He's mellow. He's good natured. He has a perfectly round birth mark on his left calf. He's got a little sparkle in his eyes. He jumps and jumps and jumps. He is beginning to notice everything. We are totally linked.

Thus bringing me back to the big-ness theme. Biggy Smalls. I am the A number one person in these two little creatures lives. There is a reason why I can't really see my friends right now. Why I feel like I'm rolling in my own, choppy sea. Why sometimes, out of nowhere, I feel like I'm gonna burst if I don't just have an hour of space. Of alone time. And then after an hour, I can't stop thinking about them again. After multiple phone calls and a mass text, I found a friend to meet me for a glass of wine on Saturday evening. An hour into our lovely date, I texted Jeff to see how the team was. His reply, "We're all in bed together." I was ready to throw down my duckets and hit it. The same fervor to return that I'd had an hour earlier to leave. Crazy conundrum.

Casey said something perfect and poignant today, though of course I'm too tired now to give any justice to her quote. It was something about how it all keeps getting bigger as we get older. About how much more our parents really do know. I was so excited because what she articulated was the missing thesis of the rambling post from this morning. She provided the bow and I was gonna be able to wrap this all up, all neat and tidy.

But perhaps that's the point. There is no bow. It's too big to wrap up. It just keeps going, birth and death, Mondays and ramblings. Unexpected walks with best friends on a beautiful, yellow leaved fall day, two sleeping babies strapped to our chests, getting each other so completely. Babies that wake up again and again. Bags under the eyes. Spring in the steps. A moment of harmony turned to time out, turned back to laughter at the dinner table. Rambling posts that can't be tied up. A cramp in my foot from too much movement. A jumping out of my skin because all I want to do is move.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

happy sad revisited

Holy Happy Sad. I'm coming down from a Happy flare up, shoulders at my ears, thick, ugly pain across my neck and back, Baby crying from his bassinet, Barney singing from the TV, the damn neighbor and his lawn mower at it again, just in time for nap. That's it's own fucking story. Dean and the damn lawn mowing machine. For a man who watches TV and smokes 100's all day, you'd think he'd have plenty of time to deal with his damn yard. But whether the kids go down at 1, 2, 3 or 4, Dean's always ready to start things up - perfectly in sync with our random schedule - just to keep the cacophony alive and kickin'. But this isn't his deal.

Sorry dude.

But oh Lord the wrath of Happy Sad. She could barely make it around the corner today without flailing on the sidewalk at every 20 steps. It didn't look like a bite had been taken from her most carefully prepared lunch, so I imagine that low blood sugar was the culprit. From there, we go into the house.

I wanna watch TV!
No, Els, you have to eat something. Here (opening up lunchbox and myriad Tupperware), have a bite of this sandwich. A carrot. Some apple. Anything.
NO! You're not my friend.
Throws lunch items across room.
Eliana, you do not talk to me like that.
No way, Eliana. You have to apologize. This is not how we behave.
Swings fists at mom. Kicks at mom. Baby Sol jumps and squeals from the Exersaucer, once again sadly neglected.
Eliana, I'm going outside. When you feel ready to apologize, we can talk. Eat this bar. Drink this milk.
Inhales bar. Almost deliberately spills milk but knows better.
I don't like you! You're mean! You're NOT my friend!
Pick up baby, go outside to nurse, as he's hungry. Close back door.
Hellacious screams from inside. Wails. Hyper-ventilation.
Don't lock me in the house!
The drama escalates. My head pounds. Between the two of them someone seemed to be up every hour last night. I have to teach yoga in 20 minutes. I'm supposed to be able to model calm and I'm having a Jerry Springer moment with my toddler.

Deep breath.

Eliana. If you want to watch TV, you need to apologize to your mom.
I'm carrying baby.
NO! You have to put him down! Only one kid at a time. One kid at a time! AHHHHHH!
Flings herself into my arms crying. No!
So no TV.
She's now lying on top of me on the sofa. Sol is back in the saucer. Dejected again.

Eliana, all you have to do is say you're sorry (...and then I can turn on the damn TV and feed your brother and compose myself enough to teach my damn yoga class and be done with this once and for all...)

Wails continue.

I'm just hungry!

Homegirl inhales another nutri-grain bars and a quesadilla. Sucks down a glass of soy milk. Then, like a perfect schizophrenic, apologizes to me for being mean. Like the last horrendous 20 minutes didn't happen. Like she's a perfectly perfect Happy(Sad).

I'm sorry, Mama.
Sorry for what?
Sorry for telling you you're not my friend. And kicking. And yelling. And hitting.

Good Lord.
And it's only Tuesday.

Monday, October 4, 2010


It's been a full, full week around these parts. First there was the re-arrival of Nana and PopPop, here to celebrate their birthdays. Kelli, Annabelle and Jack quickly followed suite and the week found us lost in the lovely chaos that is babies, dinners, fall colors and hanging out. One of the highlights has been watching Annabelle get to know her two cousins. Solomon loves to try and grab her sweet cheeks and Eliana likes to pick out her old clothes and say, This ones for my little baby cousin, Annabella!

It's kinda hard to imagine that just a few years ago we were just a group of six adults. The children have come on the scene with speed and fervor, enhancing and altering the dynamic of this group forever. Beautiful.

Happy 86 years, PopPop. You are one incredible dude. Happy ____ Nana (you know I'd never dare post your age on the Internet). Thank you for so much love, so much laughter, such generosity, such kindness.

And then there's my sweet Sol. Happy five months, baby. I played the Birth or Bust mix that brought you from my belly as I made applesauce yesterday. Applesauce from the apple tree outside your window. Applesauce you'll be old enough to eat in one short month. How did this all happen so fast? How is it that those songs can bring back the memory of you moving through me so clearly, yet here you are ready for real food? You are the sweetest, happiest baby. You have moved into our lives with such grace, such gentleness. I love how you jump, love your bright, clear eyes, your smile, your huge heart. You are my very beloved boy.

While Happy didn't have a birthday, she did have a fever and a few days home from school. Her first taste of sick days -- popsicles and DVD's and lounging all day in her nightie. A nasty rash that made her skin feel like some weird reptile. But she got through it with her tough little fighter spirit. And I got through it with the help of my hubby, a wonderful nanny, and lots of family around.

So here we are, in fall. The leaves are vibrant, the love is flowing, and we're settling into the rush of the calendar. So many moments to savor.