Friday, March 25, 2011

the room

So it's been a week with both kiddos in the same bedroom. Funny, funny shit. Super sweet. Super freaky. Like they talk a lot to each other. And Elie hops in and out of his crib, bringing him all sorts of random stuff from the room. Then when I go in to tell them to knock it off, she flies back in her bed, pulls up her comforter, and pretends to be asleep. Her bro gives her away because he's laughing hysterically. He laughs so hard, he literally makes himself fall over. He side splits himself. It's too funny. I don't even want to break them up because I want to keep listening from the other side of the door. I should set up a video monitor. I love being lurky.

And then at night, even though Elie doesn't seem to wake up when Sol starts his midnight chat fests, I totally freak and am there in a flash. And then it seems all he wants to do is nurse and nurse and grab my face and do the one armed slap all over my person until I'm freaking out about going back to bed and he won't seem to get calm but I don't want to put him in his crib and let him cry cuz I don't want him to wake Els. And there we are. And somehow we get through until morning. And coffee saves me again. Coffee and exercise. And I wonder if there's some weird addiction I have that maybe others share. Running on empty addiction. Like if you just keep moving, it'll all be okay.

Speaking of coffee and exercise, my girl Aimee took some gorgeous pictures of Sol the other morning. It was a pseudo photo shoot to go with a little article that I have coming out about 108 sun salutations. The same 108 sun salutations I did last Sunday for the spring equinox. And it was awesome. I have become so much stronger, I can hardly believe it's the same me. I love that post-baby, oh-yeah-this-is-who-I-am thing that happens when your kiddos get close to a year. Your body reclaims herself. Your muscles are back. And it's all even cooler than before because it's all been to heck and then some.

While our little house is, well, little, it's lovely being here. I have such love for every last random object, every color on the wall. Tomorrow night my all-star, A number one favorite lady arrives for a quick little spring time action in the basement, her little lair. Ah, SisDawg. In the flesh. I can't even believe how lucky I am to have a sister as cool as the Dawg. And she even loves me too.

I wonder how the hell our night will go. If I were smart, I'd go to sleep now, try to get a solid two or three before the madness begins. But this is my sacred, quiet, nobody needs me or is touching me or is talking to me time. The white noise disco is open and rockin' and I wanna get mine. Mines.

I heart ghetto slang.

I also heart my little walking boy. The way he weaved, tonight, between the tables at the restaurant, soaking up the glory of all those admiring patrosn. How old is he? they'd ask. Wow! That's pretty young to be walking like that. I'd smile. He'd smile. We'd smile. And then I was off and running, chasing him up stairs and around waiters with big, full trays who couldn't help but smile at the tiny boy and his strong, determined legs.

And then there's CelieBop. With her new favorite euphamism, "Right?!"
You are Dana and Whitney's teacher, right? But they're my friends, right? And your friends, too, right? We're all friends! Friends, friends, right!

And it just keeps coming...

Auntie Hilary's coming, right? She's my auntie, right? But your sister, right? And Queenie's my sister! We both have sisters! Sisters, sisters! But I have Auntie Kelly, too. And Auntie Wendy. And Auntie Alison. Aunties, aunties! But you don't have any aunties? Do you? Do you have aunties...we both have aunties! Aunties, aunties! We both have aunties! (Elie's big on lots of repetition for added emphasis...)

So much love in her little heart these days. She's shedding her dark layers and I thank the good lord for that. And when she does get freaky with me, she apologizes. Ah, the ability to reflect. It's important, right! Makes us see more clearly, right! Understand and appreciate and take it all in.

And while I'm bragging, her Espanol is outta hand. She can run a whole little faux circle time in Spanish, replete with copious tambiens and buenos, spoken just like a native speaker. She adores her teachers, adores the whole shebang. And being back in the 'hood makes it all so seamless. The stroller to door trek ridiculously simple, especially now that I'm all seasoned and everything. I love how much better we get at our jobs. How a bit of time can tweak the whole perspective. And settling into roles. That's another thing I like. Letting time ease you into a new phase.

Happy spring, right?

Monday, March 21, 2011

our little house

We spent last night back in our little house for the first time in over four months. It was extremely sweet. And kinda weird. Because we fill the house so much more now. Sol is into every last, dust-bunnied corner and Eliana can't get enough of all the toys and books she hasn't seen since October.

Somehow they managed to both fall asleep in the same room last night. Amazing. Unfortunately it didn't last and when Sol woke at one, he brought his sister down with him. It actually was pretty funny. Sol up and big nurse. Then Els up. I snuggled in her bed with her whispering, trying to not let Sol know I was there. But he's sharp as a tack, that one. When he realized we were both there, we heard his little crib creaking like crazy. He was jumping up and down like a maniac, wild with excitement. We both started cracking up. Needless to say, it was hard for any of us to get back to sleep after that. But we all managed.

We welcomed a new day with Madonna's, "Into the Groove." Eliana was thrilled to be able to walk to school, just like we used to. She remembers everything. Everything about the rituals we established in the fall. It made me appreciate the ease of living so close to work infinitely more.

I'm now having a mama dejavu. They are both in the little room for their naps. I told Eliana to sing to Sol if he chatters, told her to help him. Ten or so minutes in she stormed out and said, "Mom! Soli won't listen to me and he won't go to sleep!" Say it, sistah.

I then told her to "model" for him what taking a nap looks like. Told her to close her eyes and settle her body and ignore him. Maybe it worked cuz while Sol still won't shut up, Els is finally quiet. I need them both to sleep. So I sit outside their door typing away as a way to monitor, but pretend I'm actually doing something important. I need him to get the excitement of sleeping in a room with his sister out of his system. But I hate sacrificing the sleep they both need in this moment.

Alas, our dark, walk-in closet days are over. It's time to build a new routine and pray for success!

Saturday, March 19, 2011



One of my favorite bands of all-time, The Smiths, have a song with a line that goes something like, "I would rather not go, back to the old house..." That line is stuck in my head right now. As we spend our last Saturday morning up in this gorgeous home that isn't reallyours. Of course we'll still be spending a ton of time here. And it will be lovely to have Jeff's parent's back. There is so much getting to know of Solomon, so much reconnecting to do with Eliana.

As I've spent time at our little house this past week - getting things cleaned and sorted, compiling massive bags and hauling them to the Goodwill and Dumpster respectively, I've been filled with a total sense of calm that comes from being in my space. All of my things, exactly as I left them. My music. My artwork. My photographs and books. My close proximity to the park and Jumbo and school. My weird neighbors and new buddy a house away. But the vibe couldn't be more different.

Down there, we're in it. Up here, we're away from it. Down there, it pulses. Up here, it sways. Down there the view is the top of the mountains we're pressed up against. Up here the view is expansive, the whole valley, the grandeur.

I have noticed that Eliana and I have felt a sweetness together in our "little" house that is nostalgic, that is made up of her lifetime of memories. And as we approach Sol's first birthday, I get lost in memories of his birth, the sofa contractions, the shuffle from living room to bedroom to baby boy in my arms. The same candles I burned that night still sit, their nearly empty, lemongrass and lavender heads smile as if to say, "I remember too."

But we've had a good run up here. Managed to get some sleep. Managed to find some space. Settle into a calm. I am eternally grateful to Mort and Roseann and their generosity. It's really, really tremendous. Like one of those pauper/princess fairy tales. Thank you.

So this morning I sip my coffee and look out at the brown hills, the snow almost completely melted, and feel a surge of gratitude. My children are thriving. They are the coolest. Solomon is
so strong, so determined, so damn sturdy on his little tree trunk legs. Everywhere on his legs. Like I so didn't get the whole "babyproofing" thing with Elie. But little man. Wowzers. His ability to seek and destroy is baffling. And Cool. Filled with his own little brand of Solomon pride.

Eliana is so thoughtful and reflective. Her memory a steel trap, her musings and observations astute and aware. She builds intricate sofa forts. All of her dolls and stuffed animals have fascinating histories and unique personalities. She has a flair for the dramatic and can articulate stories replete with emotion like it's nobody's business. She even has a, "Baby Sister." Her name is Queenie. She wears headbands. She talks to her teachers about her. In Spanish. Don't even get me started on her Spanish. If only I could be more consistent in speaking it at home. Homegirl has an ear. Y una memoria.

She took these pictures of us the other night. They capture what most of our Winter afternoons have been like. Toys strewn. Children up to no good.

I feel like I leave this house a more refined Mama. Wiser. More grown-up. This fall when we fled our little house, I was wide-eyed and bleary. Trying so hard to do it all so well. Was taking it all really, really seriously.

I return feeling grounded. Like I'm finally coming out of the manic fog of two children, two jobs, one husband and one dog. Something shifted in me on my birthday last Wednesday. I don't know if it's due to the scare with Sol or just the marker of another year, but I feel like I shed some major shit. My mind talk has quieted. I feel confident and secure about the quality of my work as a mother, as a teacher, as a wife, as a friend, as a daughter. I feel more forthright. More appreciative. I'm choosing gratitutde instead of resentment. It's just not in my nature to be negative. Instead I will chose to say what I feel in the moment and not let it bottle up. I will take back the night on my thoughts, on my voice.

So here's to Spring! Can it be true? You wouldn't know it on this gray, colorless Saturday. But I feel it in my bones. That shift that hope brings. Spotty sunshine. Muddy lawns. Bulbs rearing their pointy, green hats. Longer days. Walking boys. Long, smart girls. Grounded, strong mamas.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

big sol

My Big Sol. My Big Sol walks. He walks and talks and is totally aware of everything, all the time. My Big Sol will be one soon. My Big Sol makes my heart melt. He charms everyone he's around. We all love him. They all love him. He's never fussy or sad. Just curious. And moving. Walking. Eating. Touching. Watching to make sure you've seen all the funny, phenomenal things he's been up to. I love my Big Sol.

And my sweet Celie. My sweet Celie takes Creative Movement. She has an arsenal of tutus (all second hand, making them a little extra cool, a little unimportant). After she came home from class she showed me everything she learned. She was long and poised on the floor, feet kissing in a triangle, spine perfectly straight. She talked me through class, told me her favorite parts. She's reflective and smart and expressive. All qualities I highly value. She makes me really, really proud.

I think I'm finally getting the hang of two kids. It's almost a year in, but what the heck, everyone has a different learning curve. I am getting a bit more seamless. Can move from work to kids without so many potholes. Damn potholes. I'm beginning to get a bit more in the moment. Trying to bring my Dynamic Self to all I do. I get on my kids for capitalizing nouns that aren't proper. But it's kind of fun.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

what's mine

I turned 37 yesterday. And while I seem to love my own birthday a bit less each year, I tried to hold on to my usual birthday spirit and made myself a perfect plan. I'd soak in the hot tub. Go to yoga. Take myself to lunch. Get a massage. Have a date with my hubby. Mind you, I'd have to do all of this while still doing what I normally do on a Wednesday. Schlep my kiddos and baby to school/day-care after getting them dressed, fed, diapered, etc. Classroom manage and discuss the finer points of spelling and punctuation with an enthusiastic, jiggly room of third graders. But whatevs. It was my day and I was going to make it perfect.

It all began so well. In fact, it began the night before when my girlfriends took me to dinner and even stayed up way past their bedtimes to soak. Waiting on my pillow before bed were three beautiful, hand-written birthday notes, one from Jeff, one from Eliana, one from Sol. After thanking the universe for all my blessings, I blissfully fell to sleep. And actually managed a solid five hours before Sol needed me. We were on a good trajectory.

It's the morning of. Jeff takes Eliana to school so I can have some special me time. Sol sleeps in, so I decide to take a morning hot tub. The sun is shining on the valley for the first time in what feels like months. There's this beautiful, early morning mist kissing, blessing the hills. The vineyard shines in the distance, my favorite yellow house so cozy and nestled in among the vines. All the cynicism I've been feeling lately lifts. I feel nothing but grace.

I go in and check on Sol. He's still out, so I take a shower. Check again. Still quiet, so I get myself pretty. Then I hear him. So excited to see his funny, toothless smile, I turn on the light.

And the day shifts.

Sol sits in his crib. Nestled among single earrings, pairs of socks and...two random prescription pills. See, he sleeps in a closet. In that closet is my mother in-laws dresser. He's never done more than play with the handles. But in the past few minutes he's managed to not only open the drawer but empty the contents into his crib. And maybe his mouth. I don't know which.

Shell shocked, panicked, frightened, I get him up. He doesn't appear to have anything in his mouth, though who the hell knows. My plan was to get him to daycare on time so I could make it to a 9am yoga class. I anxiously try to continue with my morning routine.

So I'll stop right here. Why in god's name I didn't call poison control right away, I'll never know. Why I didn't call my husband, I'll never know. I do know that my gut said it was okay. But it was my gut and my son's life.

I see that now. I don't like how I responded. It's a good lesson for my family about how I deal in potential emergencies.

So his nanny Meghan said she'd keep a close eye on him. I didn't go to yoga. I went to work early, pulled Jeff from his classroom and calmly told him what happened. He promptly left school, raced up the hill to find the pills, called poison control, picked Sol up and drove him to the emergency room.

This is when I really felt like an asshole. Awful, awful negligent mama.

At this point it had been almost three hours since the potential incident. He still was acting like his normal, goofy self. The nurse we talked to was awesome. She said to watch him. That they wouldn't do any tests because he was too little. That if we admitted him, they'd just watch.

So that's what I did. I got to spend the afternoon of my birthday just watching my son. And it was perfect. Because he was fine.

When I finally felt okay enough to let him take a nap, he drifted off to sleep in my arms. I held him close. Listened to his breath. Marveled at his perfection. We lay in the dark together while I let his little body heave gently against mine. It was a beautiful birthday moment.

When I told my friend Gita what happened later that afternoon she said something like, Ah, babe. Your birthdays stop being yours after you have kids.

How right she was. Who was I to think that I'd really be able to pull of my detailed, all-about-me plan. Not that I thought something as scary as what happened was possible, but I certainly didn't take my little ones into account when planning my day.

So there I was. My son was healthy. My girl was at dance class. My evening massage appointment was still waiting for me.

The last time I went to this masseuse, Sol was in my body. How quickly things shift. Now that little boy is ransacking drawers, taking steps, grabbing everything within sight. I lay with my face pressed into that funny pillow and took a deep breath. I felt kind of guilty to be there, guilty to have left him at all. But there was still a bit of daylight, still a few hours left in my precious day.

I was back at that place of balance. How do we balance it all? How do we take time for ourselves without lessening our appreciation of our families? How do we trust the universe when everything feels so tenuous? How do we forgive ourselves when we falter, again and again and again?

That's my big job this year. To forgive myself. To loosen Guilt's noose, the one's he's been hanging over my neck since I was a girl. To be less apologetic. To assert myself more. To stop always being, the "nice" one. As much as I love nice and love being nice, I'm also kinda over nice. I need to be stronger. More thick skinned. I've earned it. 37 big years.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

the loop

My brain is back on the loop tonight. It darts wildly, flits from one random thought to the next. Most are related to work which makes the whole thing even more frustrating. I'd like to let that be. If I must be kept up at night, at least I could be fixated on my children. How quickly it all goes. How perfect they are.

One of the opening lines of a student's poem reads, I am a hamster on a wheel, spinning all about. I'm channeling her hamster tonight. My sleep is so ridiculous. Last night Sol was up for ever. He never cries but last night he carried on and on and on. Jeff actually went downstairs to sleep. So you'd think that after a really long day of running on very little, my exhausted body would sink into slumber. But here I am, typing away, even after a journal scribbling session at the start of this bedtime ritual. Is there that much to try and situate?

The seasons are beginning to shift. I smelled it in the air today. Sometimes shifting seasons keep me up. Moon phases. Anxieties. Neurosis. Excitement. Wonder. Plans. Agendas. Sleep has never been my thing. But right now I really, really need some.

I'll finally get down and then I'll hear it. My little guy beginning to stir in his crib. So I'll nurse him and kiss his head. Marvel at him. Wake up my brain and my senses. Again. And now we're at 3 in the morning and I can easily count the hours til Eliana will stir and the whole, wacky wheel will begin again.

Thank god for breath. Thank god for my strong, resilient body. Thank god for my good natured children. My husband who listens. My ability to use words to express myself. My girlfriend on the phone today, listening to me like a shrink when I desperately needed to be heard. My in-laws and their generosity and this beautiful house where I can track the snow fall on the banister, find space from my little ones, soak and take in this insane valley.

And even with all these blessings, I can't just fall gently down. I need to quiet my mind. I give such good advice during savasana, can do it in the studio, but not in the bed. Ridiculous hypocrisy. Ridiculous frustration.

Solomon will be ten months old on Thursday. This is so wild to me. He took three little steps today. It was the most beautiful thing ever. I screamed and squealed and then there was Eliana, pretending to be a baby, taking wobbly steps into my arms as well. She is beginning to really appreciate him. And he adores her. If only he could shift his adoration away from pulling her curls.

Speaking of which, she had her first haircut. We had her's and her's cuts, with Sol on my lap. I love my short and sassy do. And she looks more together, a little less Flock of Seagulls (thanks Case).
Chatting it up in the chair...
An impromptu Iza dinner afterwards...

In other firsts, Sol's gonna be a musician. He loves to bang out patterns on the counter and bop to tunes. But his latest musical love is with the kazoo. The cutest thing ever. He grooves to his own beat. And thinks he's the funniest thing in the world. He's right.

And Els finally started dance class. Creative movement. She loves it! That and the Friday night dance parties at the Top Hat are her two favorite pastimes. Even without pushing it, my influence is finally taking hold!

My kids have a poetry reading this week. Their books are insanely gorgeous, their words so fresh and vital. I love teaching poetry to kids. Love it, love it. Read a ton of Mary Oliver in the tub tonight. Remembered how much poetry I read in college. How we'd read and dissect, read and dissect, write and read, read and write. What would it be like to do that again? What a gift that time was. Will I use my mind like that again? Does it even matter?

It does. Her poems reminded me how badly I need to get outside. Pay attention. Walk without distraction. Connect again with my mountain. My park. The winter strips that part of me away. My walks are more concerned with function. My concentration turns to the ground, to patches of ice, to potential pitfalls.

Good grief, Spring. Please, please show your sweet, green head. The white dazzles. Is all encompassing. But I'm ready for a change.