Monday, January 31, 2011

siblings and funny faces

I just put a bunch of pics from the past few weeks up on the computer. One thing's for certain. My kiddos can make some damn funny faces. Especially that Sol. He's a nut! And Els and the hair and the perpetual changing of costumes. It's really, really sweet.

So instead of making choices, I'll do a funny face marathon. They're all too good to pass up.

Other than funny faces, there's been a lot of playing between these two lately. Like real kids. Brother and sister. Eliana loves to climb into Sol's crib and get crazy. It's wild to watch. Like WWWF (though I've never really watched that, I imagine the gist...). Sol goes for the hair and Els goes for the full body tackle. I go for the screams and no's! Jeff's more likely to cheer them on. We spend a lot of time in Nana and PopPop's walk in closet (aka, Sol's room) where the games get wild.

We also spend a lot of time in hot water. Bathtubs, hottubs, showers.

Solomon poops more than ever imagined possible, often blowing out of his diaper. In fact, his diaper rash is so bad that I actually had to ask the doctor to prescribe special cream. But other than an extreme wipe sensitivity, Sol's fun-loving, wild man spirit prevails.

He continues to be into everything all the time. He loves to eat and enjoyed his first Baby Burrito the other night. He ate more than his sister did. Jeff proclaimed Sol was the happiest he'd ever been. I spent the next 24 hours wiping undigested black beans from a rashy bum. But there are worse things...

In other winter news, it's been really, really, really wintery. And cold. And gray. And uninspiring. The kind of weather that makes people curse. The flip side of that is when the sun comes out and it's like time stops and the whole of this little valley lifts their heads to the sky. The power of the sunshine is certainly something I took for granted for most of my life. Now she shows her pretty face and I can't help but smile, leave love messages on my friend's voice mails, bring the kids at school outside with clipboards and pencils so they can write it all down.

What else? We finally had the family Snowbowl day that Jeff dreams about. Sol and I happily spent most of it cozy in the bar with buddies and pizza, but I did manage to take one, gray, chilly, freaky run. When all is said and done, I don't really care about my ski progress that much anymore. I'm pretty content to watch my kiddos and let my man have his fun. But I will have a lot to keep up with real, real soon. Els is unstoppable. She skied down Sunrise Bowl, a run that totally freaks me out. She's fearless; points her skis down and charges. Her mama, on the other hand, continues to traverse ever so slowly and carefully from right to left, never just up to down. I'm so proud of that kid. So glad that she'll get to grow into the badass that I'm not. What a gift to give. She and Jeff are total BFF. She said the other night, How about Daddy and Eliana are best friends, and Mommy and Soli are best friends but we're all best friends together? Sound good to me.

Not a whole lot more to report. Sol's digging his new girlfriend, Alina.

They have some sweet times together and I think he's learning not to try to take her face off every time he sees her. Els too is digging hard on her buddies.

Our new favorite family thing is the family friendly Thursday and Fridays at the Top Hat, or as Elie puts it, The Dance Party. She dons whatever weird get-up she deems appropriate for that night (and unfortunately it's not always the super cute, tutu-ish outfit I want her to don...), saddles her way up to the bar for a Sprite (yup, first one ever, at the bar and now she can't let it go), gets insane on the dance floor (dancer friends, think floor work), messes with the pinball machine, and checks out every last disheveled little elf that walks in the door. I happily indulge in my love for on the rocks concoctions while people take turns holding Sol. We can actually talk to our friends because the kids are entertained. And the music has been awesome. Only in Missoula. A damn good place to be.

Monday, January 24, 2011

girl's night

I had a spontaneous, no reason party on Saturday night. I needed to have something on my blank, gray calendar. I needed to remember, exactly, why I live in this icy little valley. I needed to be with my friends without the distraction of our kiddos and their complex, wild, volatile, beautiful friendships. I wanted to sit on my sofa with a good glass of wine and a room full of good conversations.

Apparently we all did.

The mass email invites always make me giggle. They are safe. They require no feedback, no RSVP, and welcome a whole range of responses. They also keep things kind of light and vague. So at 6:15 when my kitchen was still empty, I started to wonder. Maybe there would just be a few of us. Maybe I shouldn't have made so much soup. Maybe I'm kind of a dork to think that anyone was really coming. My inner ten year old waiting for her party to start who begins to fill with self-doubt.

But then the door opened. And next thing I knew, my little house was packed with gorgeous women, the dining room table full of beautiful food, and the fridge full of beer. I finally got myself to that spot on my sofa and found myself in a conversation full of meaning. What it means to be a mom. A daughter. What we lied about to our mothers. What we really regret. What our girls may do to us and how we'll attempt to deal. What we need. What our husbands need. What our kids need. How to meet all the needs.

I don't have time to not have meaning in my life. I don't have time for meaningless conversation. Don't have time for shallow friendships. Don't have time to not just break it down immediately. Maybe that makes me too intense. But whatever. People who don't want to go there don't have to come to my party.

As I busted Madonna and lit candles to make my house smell good, I had that giddy feeling I used to get before going to school dances. I love school dances. Like I lived for them. I love big groups of goofy girls bustin' it in a circle. I love when the slow song would come on and I'd wonder if someone would ask me to dance. I can still here those mellow, sultry tunes. Depeche Mode. Peter Cetera. L.L. Cool J.

It's a question of not letting what we built up crumble to dust...I am a man who will fight for your honor...When I'm alone in the room, sometimes I stare at the wall....

The feminist in me wonders what songs my kids will be dancing too. God knows if, "A Question of Lust" was allowed at my school dances they'll be dancing to something super dirty, super scandalous. What path will we take in dealing with this all? I shudder just thinking about it. Take in a long, slow breath.

One thing I know. I will have my girlfriends to consult. And they'll be going through the same thing. Hell, our daughters will probably be sneaking out together while we're sipping wine in my living room...

So much to look forward to.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

a snowy afternoon

It's been a long, snowy, blizzardy, freaky-cold day. But I got to do some good playing with my chickens tonight and am happy to report that they both have some damn good moves and an appropriate appreciation for Michael Franti.

Monday, January 10, 2011

the day to day

It seemed to have taken us about eight months to really get here but I'm starting to feel it hardcore. We are a family of four. Five if you count sweet Lucy who is actually finding her way back into the mix with marginal upheaval. Something seemed to shift while we were away. We were able to celebrate being together. Able to slow down. Elie and I fell back in love. We cut the drama and got back to our roots as a rockin' couple. And then Sol and Elie started their own thing. This thing where she talks about him and includes him in her stories and games. This thing where all he wants to do is smile at her big, grab her hair and attempt to hurl his body across and over hers. She's a pretty good sport about it all and actually has to put up a fight when he comes at her. He's a tough little lug.

Jeff and I re-streamlined our roles and quit keeping score. Sol and Jeff became super sweet on each other and he stopped just wanting me. And me and Sol, well, me and Sol are pretty much as tight as it gets. I could just let him gum my nose forever. And he would.

Coming back from almost three weeks in a tropical paradise to freezing temperatures (like...I think it was eight today...) and snow and ice can be a bit jarring, even if I weren't a Los Angeles princessa. But when I began to tread and trip a bit into the dark side last week, I reminded myself of my new plan. To take it light. To let it be. We stayed at the party late and let Eliana jump off the stage again and again. Sol sacked out in the Ergo and I had another glass of wine. I found myself in the front of a new class of twenty yoga students, ready to give them my weird, loud, rockin' version of vinyasa. A lot of them actually smiled. I did too. I had to just go with my thing. Be my authentic self.

I think my authentic self needed a good six months to settle into her new role. Mama of two. Wife. Teacher. Mover. Creative chef. Dude! Tandoori chicken in the crock tonight. Not half bad. And a big 'ol batch of daal that both Sol and Elie ate. Trying to be more mindful of the family food. Sometimes it feels like I'm the only one on that train. Well, me and Sol, cuz homeboy'll try anything. The only time he's pissed is when we don't include him at the dinner table. And he just grunts until a rice cake or spoonful is passed his way. And then he gums.

Even the pre-work/school/daycare ritual is coming together. It's still not my favorite part of the day, to be certain, but I'm trying to not muscle through it anymore. I'm kinda rollin'. I did 108 sun salutations on the 31st in a little thatched palapa overlooking the Pacific. It was awesome. But after really settling into vacation mode, I wasn't exactly in the tip top asana way. And I had a bunk finger. Towards the end I felt myself really starting to muscle through it. Then a few days later I think I had my first hernia. It went away. But it was another good reminder about why I should never muscle through anything.

Did I mention in my Mexico post how I sliced my finger the second day we were there. Making a freaking quesadilla for Elie. Hacking way too hard and fast into a hunk of soft Oaxacan cheese with the machete of the knife in our little cocina. My finger was literally gaping, two big flaps, visible bone and lots of blood. "Remember how you said fuck when you hurt your finger, Mama?"

I was in a lot of pain. More importantly, I was pissed. So mad at myself for moving too quickly. So sure that my trip would be ruined because we'd have to spend all our money at some little health clinic on my stupid stitches and I wouldn't be able to go in the ocean. Or in the sun. Or on the sand. And it was all my fault. And I wasn't mindful. And I don't really even like the word mindful really because it's so yogi chic and not really real enough for me like, say, careful. Or slow. Or calmly. Or gently.

Luckily the finger parts reassembled with the help of some gauze, alcohol and a good old fashioned band-aid. The sea water helped. So did the salty air. And I can almost bend it all the way again. I have a scar that will serve as a good reminder. Go gently. I'll bring that into my mantra of 2011.

Mind is feeling pretty full tonight. Speaking of mind full. My worst childhood nightmare came to life in Tuscon. I've had a fear of open fire for way too long. Eliana is developing fears. She fears "shooters" and mountain lions. Jeff and I were talking about our childhood phobias last night. His was, and still is, sharks. I began. Well, earthquakes and fires. And strangers. And bad guys. The night stalker. It seemed I could have gone on and on. I guess I could have added open fire to my list. I can't even read about it. I can't even go there. I feel it will halt all the good work I'm trying to do. Paint a dark, black mark across my body and hold me in his grasp. I'll slip on the ice and hold my children too tight, need to stare at them all night long, lock the doors, never leave the house. My safe valley. I think part of the reason so many of my physical problems cleared up when I left Los Angeles is because I was no longer living in the face of so many of my fears. And while fires and earthquakes and bad guys exist in Montana, something about it felt new enough to help me conquer all that anxiety. Oh anxiety. Anxiety, anxiety.

I'm sipping my calming bedtime tea and wondering why I continue to ramble on here. It's time to turn in, read my book, work on getting quiet inside so I can settle and sleep. Wait for my Prince of Peace as Jeffy calls him, to get his snack on. He's getting much better and will usually settle in for a good six hours or so until he wants to say hi. And then he heads back into his dark little cave for some more sweet dreams. Dreams of pulling Eliana's curls. Of jumping up and down. Of putting every last thing on the floor into his mouth.

And what does Elie dream about? Her baby. Surfing. The carousel. Her buddies.

When is this winter time going to be over, Mama? I'm tired of this winter time! I miss Mexico.

Like mother, like daughter.

But look at the beautiful, shiny white snow, Els! Look at the elk on jumbo. The sun is even shining today.

I neglected to mention that we were in the single digits and she probably wouldn't get to play outside at recess because it was too freakin' cold. But verbalizing the positive, even if it was a bit of a farce, got me to appreciate what I saw. The distinct shine of Lolo Peak. Her curls spewing from beneath her fleece hat in the rear view mirror. The wave and smile of the crossing guard. The faith we put in the goodness that is everywhere to move us from one day to the next.

Friday, January 7, 2011

a year

It's white, white, white outside. I can barely see the mountains across the valley, barely see beyond the massive mounds of snow out the back deck. The thick fog. January has always been hard for me. Or at least since I've lived in Montana. It's still shocks. The cold and ice. The way everything slows so intensely.

But year after year, I brave it. Year after year, I get better at it. Attempt to embrace it. So let's go there. The best thing for me so far since being back? My friends. So, so, so lucky to have the women in my life that I have. This is probably why our roots continue to deepen, why the ocean hasn't lured us back.

My friend wrote a beautiful piece about the year. She inspired me to take a little photo jog down memory lane. I was floored. I beamed. I can't believe that the humongous, round faced, curly haired, young, young, young looking woman in the pictures is me.

That for half of last year, I had yet to meet Sol! That the world was still just us three. Us three. It sounds so weird to me by nici

I had a very mindful new year last year. I had girlfriends over and we wrote and reflected and shared. My best self is a good organizer. She's currently not in top form. I'm hoping to bring her back in 2011. Gonna put it out there. Gonna throw a rager. Gonna get wild with my bad self.

While it may not feel like it right now, drip, drip, slush, slush, slide, slip...Montana is a tremendous place to live. I see that in my pictures too. It's good to look at pictures of Flathead Lake in July when the forecast calls for 7 in a few days. Good to remember that this is as fleeting as those yellow leaves...though I think I could surrender to those forever.

I'm intimidated by the cold. It really does a number on me. Holds me in her grasp. Makes me feel small and vulnerable. The other day in the park I saw a blue heron. Big, beautiful, shiny, gray, she stood still and graceful as stone on the frozen creek. I got the chills. I stopped and stared. I wondered how I could be standing so close to such a wild and beautiful creature.

I feel that same way when I look out the window now. The valley view now thoroughly fogged over. The house silent. Sol safe and bundled in his crib. Els still at school. My teacup empty. My body settling into the weekend.

I know that these white days are short. Short and precious. That we are again moving closer to the light. That the months will unfold and bring new beauty to our days. For now, I'll choose my images of 2010. I'll close that chapter and open my arms to what's to come.

January 2010February 2010
March 2010April 2010
May 2010June 2010
July 2010August 2010
September 2010
October 2010

November 2010
December 2010

Sunday, January 2, 2011

san pancho

I sit here with a chill in my bones, looking out at the snow covered valley I call home. There's so much to say about our time away, time that feels far and fleeting already. I'm drawing on lessons re-learned in Mexico, lessons on slowing down, taking rests, noticing, to help me find perspective on the massive piles of laundry that need to be done, all those darn things that need to find their homes again. Whenever we come home from a trip I marvel at all the stuff we have. Vacation is a purge on so many levels. We learn how little we really need. That we really just need each other.

It can all wait. I can settle down. For now, notes on an amazing time.

I'll start with a journal entry. It seems to give shape to my mind full of memory.

So here I am, week two of our splendid Mexican adventura. I've settled into vacation mode pretty hard. It's fun to go over the decompression, now that I've thoroughly decompressed. At first we're still all coiming down, each bite is novel, each burro wandering down the cobblestones and loud ola something to marvel at. I still move too fast. Do wild, rockin' yoga sessions, grip the cobblestones, play with the residual energy that courses through me. Fret when Sol doesn't sleep enough, still short on patience with Els. Not overt enough in my affection for Jeff.

Then I watch myself settle. Lose complete track of time. Let Sol settle into luxurious beach siestas on my sandy chest, see Els curls tighten into sprightly, slinky-like ringlets, enjoy each wild utterance from her loquacious mouth. And how she's embraced this place! Makes friends with everyone, everywhere. Sang all her best Spanish school songs for Pondo the Mexian fisherman, practiced her kicks in a round of beach soccer with a friendly local family on Christmas, found herself eating her first candy cane when she settled in with the gay boys on the beach, shiny red speedos, Santa hats, greasy, smooth chests. A good life we're living! Saw ballenas and dolphins from the fishing boat, just watched 'em dance and leap and smack their huge fins. As Colleen noticed, just watched 'em pass on by, watched them navigate through the immense blue of their day to day. What else? I cooked a rockin' Christmas dinner for twelve - pork roast in a balsamic, molasses reduction, flan from scratch. No stress, utter enjoyment. That's big. I've had lots of beautiful time with my husband and kiddos, my extended family and friends. I'v ewatched la hora de feliz get progressively easier, read books, eaten numerous delicious fish tacos, watched the sunrise and the sunset with my trusty boy attached to me, our slow saunters to and from sleep, in and out of varying levels of consciousness. He's ready to walk, that one. So strong. Not even eight months and standing up on everything, ready to get his toothless, sloppy grin into all sorts of shenanigans. My children make me so proud. That's such a wonderful feeling. The way Eliana delivers joy to those around her. The way she loves fiercely, playfully, calls everyone by name. Her buddies. You can find 'em everywhere. And my beautiful husband. The way he takes care of everyone. Rocks his new favorite sport, waits for waves in his own, zen like way. I am so thankful to have had so much lovely, calm, appreciative time with him. We're a unit, working together, consistently, constantly, adoringly.

So that's a pretty thorough re-cap. I'll let the pictures guide some more memories and let go of a need for perfection.
The only pic I have of the four of us, packed, Mexican style, in the back of Jack's jeep.

The San Pancho Synergia Arte festival provided Eliana with a local carousel and local buddies to ride with.
Nothing like watching baby sea turtles head to the ocean to give some much needed perspective on the importance of each shining moment of this life.

A defininte highlight was watching Eliana in the pool. She was so proud of her newfound, floaty independence.Big Sol and his amazing grin, his strong sturdy legs, his adventurous spirit!

The amount of time sweet Sol and I spent attached. The number of tortillas he consumed with his gummy little chompers.

Watching the family all together, the generations, the laughter.

Our very unique Christmas, our sweet fake tree, our gratitude garland.

Our other family...

My children growing into their sibling-hood...

While I'm thankful for all the photos, no picture can capture how important this vacation was for me. I feel like I've been in a chaotic fog since school started. Being away gave me a chance to find myself again. I really like the girl who was in Mexico. She's funny and relaxed and grounded. She's capable and kind and creative. She rolls with it. My goal for myself in this new year is to try to keep that spirit alive and rockin' every day. Even when I'm exhausted. Even while I answer forty seven random questions coming from the brilliant minds of third graders. Even when my daughter is wrought with exhaustion and pushing all my buttons. Or my guy wakes for the third time in the night. Or my dog incessantly paws at me. The mess in the house mounts...

I will draw on those waves. The long walks. Floating on my back. Smiling in awe at my husband as we watch our children play. Thank you, San Pancho. Thank you for giving us a break.