Saturday, April 30, 2011

solomina


This spring finds me in an odd sort of time warp. While last weekend was sunny, this week has brought rain and snow and hail and more frigid temperatures. The buds are bursting, but keep getting shut down, never truly allowed to unveil. My heat is cranked back to 70. I watch hard little balls of hail hit my picnic table, drop into the orange bottle of bubbles left open when we thought it was all over, when we thought we'd be outside every afternoon. It's been a true Montana winter. Continues to be. My only true mark of time seems to be the boxes on my calendar, as the weather keeps changing her mind.

But the time warp has to do with Solomon. He turns one on Tuesday. And there's something about these gray, cold days that bring me back to the days before his birth. I remember the Saturday before, a cold spring Saturday morning just like this one. We went to the first Farmer's market of the year. Found ourselves back at home. Nici came over and took pictures. The house was bursting with anticipation. We had no idea what he'd be like.

A year later, and I can't even imagine a world without Sol. His jolly spirit. His love of life and action and people. Solomina, as Elie dubbed. Mina for short. We all seem to have taken to the nickname. You should see Mina in action. He rocks a tutu pretty hard. Sissy loves to dress him up. They play mommy and baby. She gave him a kiss on the head this morning, grabbed a dog leash and said, Bye bye, sweetie! Mommy's going to get her exercise.
She shut the door behind her. Then walked back in.
I'm back, sweetie! How was your day?


She's really starting to love him. They are playmates. And it's the most beautiful thing ever.


The hail has now turned to big, fat, wet snowflakes. It's a day to curl up with blankets and read on the sofa. Write poems. Bake a big batch of cookies. Stay in jammies.

But we have to motivate. In an hour we have a brunch to go to. A baby shower for one of our oldest Missoula friends, friends we thought wouldn't have babies. Got a call last week from one of my BFF's in Cali. Another one who maybe wasn't going to take the plunge. And she's seventeen weeks. There's something about these friends being pregnant that makes me feel so deeply happy. This opportunity to live their lives fully in a completely new way. Both friends are total life lovers, dream followers. Their dreams for many, many years have had nothing to do with children. Yet here they are. Their worlds are about to expand in ways they never imagined.


And the really cool thing is, after your world is opened and amplified and over-run, a year goes by. Then two and three and four. And suddenly, you are in a place to follow those old dreams. They don't need you the same way. Life has expanded and, yet, there you are again. Your same, lovely self. Changed forever, yet still the same. Good lord this is rambly. But I think I have a point.

Last night I looked back at images of Eliana's first year. Once again I affirmed this blog. I don't regret writing a single thing down. I was so unselfconscious in my writing then. So raw. Let it all hang out. I want to get back to that. This is for me. For them.

The snow is now dumping. Ridiculous. The picnic table has turned white. Tomorrow is the first day of May. I sigh. Shake my head. Solomon sleeps. Elie's curled up to Madeline. Blocks and legos and dress up clothes and books are strewn about. All is as it should be.

Monday, April 25, 2011

sunshine!


We had our first sunny weekend since forever and I have not felt happier in a long time. It's the simple things, you know? Sunshine. Water. A bit of sleep. Nana and Pop took Eliana to her first circus, which gave Jeff and I an opportunity to take Sol on his first hike. He was a maniac on those hills and hiked like the best of them (though he did continually try to hike down the side of the slope towards the freeway...he's fast that one).

The rest of the weekend was spent preparing for Easter. Egg dying and basket diving. My mom sent a beautiful Easter themed pakage that started the ball rolling. Thank God, Sol now has a new, gold kazoo! And those little chicks that wind up and hop? Got 'em. Pastel covered Easter grass strew in every corner of our messy home? Check!





Yup, the Easter thing was a hit around these parts and I have to say I totally got into preparing Elie's basket this year. She squealed with such delight when she saw it waiting for her on Easter morning. While we did have a few good nights since my last sleep rant, Easter eve was not one of them. Luckily, Elie slept in. And lucky for Jeff, I got up with at the crack with big Sol because of my festive Easter mood, allowing him a few more hours of sleep. Found myself ordering a triple latte at Le Petit at eight Easter morn. Sol and I played hard waiting for the other two to get up. I think by the time she finally found her basket, I was more excited about her little treasures than she was. I kept saying, What else did the Easter bunny give you, Elie? And what else? I so rarely buy Elie new things. I know that sounds ridiculous, but it's kind of true. So I really had a blast at Target finding goofy things for my girl. Thank goodness for the dollar section. And the art supplies. And the random orange tutu on sale. Love that place.


What else? We had a lovely brunch at Moana's with the little crew we've shared Easter with since the girls' were babes. Sol got right in the mix with the egg hunting and held his own with the big kiddos.




We came home for nap and Jeff, finally having a little taste of a good thing that morning, took himself a nap as well. I ventured up to the Sacred Tree with Lucy in....nothing but a tank top! Hello warm weather. The irony is it was probably only 50. Just give me a taste of sun, man...I love it.

Roseann had everything ready to make us a lovely Easter ham dinner, but after a bit of an oven debacle (aka, pressing "cancel" instead of "on"...) we threw together pasta instead. It was low key and simple and the perfect ending to a lovely, lovely weekend. May this spring continue to bring sunshine, good health and calm spirits.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

american music

Sleep continues to elude us, but somehow, day after day, we have relentless amounts of energy. I swear, every Tuesday since being pregnant with Sol I have the same thought around 4:40 as I'm preparing to teach my 5:00 yoga class. How the hell am I going to do this....? Then next thin g I know it's 5:30. I look at the clock and can't believe we're already halfway through. I pump the music and tell them to hold dolphin a little bit longer. It's really great, these energy surges. I'm not sure where I'd be without them. Energy surges. The ability to get a lot of things done in one day. Foresight. Planning. Creativity. Passion. Extreme efficiency. It all combines into an energy surge cocktail, day after day after day. The cherry in our proverbial cocktail is the energy that spills into the house with a daddy inspired dance party. They're a bit more rockin' than those inspired by mom, a bit more ripe with chills and spills. But they have a very special place in this home.


In other news, big Sol, aka, John Muir, is on a journey of discovery. His favorite thing to do is go outside and if I don't take him, well, he just takes himself. He's crazy agile. Even took himself out the other morning barefoot when there was still a soft brush of snow from the night before. He navigates carefully, fearlessly and then explores every inch of our little yard. I'm so proud of him out there, so proud of his independence and curiosity.



And while I'm proud by his strength and agility, it doesn't exactly help me stay at all relaxed. Yesterday I left him alone for a moment so I could go to the bathroom. When I came out he was nowhere to be seen. Both the front and back doors were open. I started to freak, screaming, "Sol! Sol!" I found him in the basement playing with Elie's giant E.T. doll (whose finger lights up and who says like ten different E.T. lines in E.T.'s raspy, freakish voice...). Note to self, stop going to the bathroom. Or at least bring the boy with you.

Easter is upon us. Then Solomon's first birthday. Yet he continues to wake and wake and wake in the night. Last night I had another breaking point. Jeff thinks it will be better if I wean him. I don't want to. But I do want to sleep for longer than a three hour chunk. My eyes are getting set back further and further in my head. My face is pasty. It's time for a major change, yet I don't know what to do.

Thank heavens for coffee. For children who make me smile. Curly headed weirdos. Barefoot explorers. That this all will soon be a teeny piece of our story.
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Sunday, April 17, 2011

eliana's theory of evolution

Eliana has a pretty fascinating theory of what happens when people age. She thinks that as adults get older, they get smaller. As they get smaller, they need to be taken care of. On the flip side, as she gets older, she gets bigger. Then when she's big, she takes care of the adults who have grown small and who can no longer care for themselves. I never saw Benjamin Button, but maybe it's something like that. Or not.

We've had a fascinating, albeit exhausting, week that explores Eliana's theory. We've been living up in the big house with Pop Pop while Nana's away in Portland. The time away is very important for Nana and I certainly understand more than ever now why. Morty has Alzheimer's. He's 86. And while we've thought it was more of a label for an already aging man, I have to say that after these past five days, I've certainly seen things a bit more clearly.

Jeff's dad is an extremely strong, extremely sharp, extremely sassy man. Over a game of Scrabble the first night I met him, he told me when I was taking too long to take my turn to, "Shit or get off the pot already!" He's lived in New Jersey his whole life. He flew fighter planes in World War II. Was a self-made, extremely successful business man. For most of my thirteen year history with Jeff, I've always thought his dad was older, but totally with it, cool and savvy and tough.

This diagnosis came a few years back. And I think we've pretty much been denial of it up until recently. And while it certainly isn't as rough as it could be -- and I don't even want to go there -- it's rough. And it fits Eliana's theory. He needs us to take care of him. He needs her to take care of him.

There was a moment when we were loading up in the car after dinner the other night. We were all on a busy street downtown. I was holding the baby, Eliana was running up and down the sidewalk, Jeff was finishing up with the bill inside. Pop wandered off the curb and tried to get in the back door of the car. There was a carseat in the way. He looked confused, looked like he may wander into the road. I called for Elie. I need you to stand right here in front of the car. I need you to help Pop Pop get back on the sidewalk. Show him where his door is.

There she was in a flash, just like that, to help. She is getting smarter and more articulate by the day. Her sweetness is surfacing again. She loves her Grandpa and runs to him and gives him a big hug every morning when he wakes. She loves to talk about her theory. Pop Pop's getting older and sometimes he gets confused. But that's okay, because I'm getting bigger and I can take care of him when he gets small!

There's an intensity to this time. A sweetness. A level of exhaustion. Sol continues to wake multiple times during the night, his teeth popping up like daffodils in spring. I know this whole night waking thing would be way easier if I stopped nursing him but I can't even go there. Nor can I go to his birthday that is less than two weeks away. But for now, we're heavy in the moment.

Last night Sol was fussing before bed. Morty gets really agitated when the baby is sad and has a particularly hard time making sense of things in the evenings. I took Sol into the downstairs bedroom to nurse and lay to sleep. Pop Pop wandered in. When I asked what was going on he told me he was just trying to get to Newark. Oh this intricate, tangled web of a life we lead. From lost babies to lost men, all of us just trying to find our way.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

a little spring snow

A couple months ago when I was freaking out about this long, white winter, I said something along these lines to Jeff: I don't care where I go, I just need to go somewhere where I can see the sunshine during spring break. I don't think you understand that I'm going a little bit insane.

The next morning he and his sister did some research on their family time share and hooked us up with a couple of lovely condos in Jackson Hole. There's always sun in Jackson, honey, he said reassuringly. I love the cosmopolitan allure, the price was right, the drive manageable, and it was a way for us to spend the week with his parents who are back in Montana. After checking out a few restaurant menus, I was sold.

And while the week was lovely, the sun did not shine.

So I guess that's a mark of a good vacation. I came home well-rested, satisfied, relaxed without getting what I initially wanted (a sweltering, tropical beach...). Instead I played and hung hard with family, old and young alike, watched my kiddos get really into each other, nursed my son whenever I wanted, ate delicious food, cross-country skied in an insanely gorgeous national park, took two of the most challenging and most inspirational yoga classes of my life, actually enjoyed downhill skiing, snuggled with my husband, and read a few really great books.









Oh, and saw a bit of wildlife, namely a really big moose. Jeff then embarked on his latest photography installment, "13 (or so...) Ways of Looking at a Moose".



He even woke Elie from a nap and brought her outside to see the big boy. Morty was so excited, we had to stop him from going right up and petting the big guy.


Thankfully, Mr. Moose was the impetus for a few pretty hilarious family shots. Take note of the barefoot children and how hard Elie's rockin' her Flock of Seagulls do (and be sure to catch the moose in the background).


Absolutely nothing to complain about.

Our teacher's schedule seems to be a continuous saving grace in our hectic lives. Just when things really get wild, we come to another break and we can all re-connect, re-root. Spring break is particularly fun because when you get back to school, you know that the year is almost over. Unfortunately, so do the children who bring some awesome, sunshine-y energy into their spring days. Ah, to spend your days with eight year olds. A blessing. A really high-energy, pinball like blessing. Love those kids. But damn it's amazing how much energy a one hour and fifteen minute class can zap from this tuckered mama. Whose son, by the way, turns one in a mere two weeks. And, by the way, whose son still does not sleep through the night. Any tips out there? God knows in Jackson he was up like every two hours because he could smell me right there in our little room. Boobhound, that boy is! Now that we're back home, he's generally up once a night and then again pretty early in the morning. Jeff has tried to go to him but he freaks until he sees me. It's really not risk waking Eliana up cuz of course, I'm up anyway. I'm hoping something magical happens when he turns one, like he just knows and starts sleeping thirteen hour stretches like his sister did. But I know this is just wishful thinking. Again, I'm always amazed at how much I get done in a day, even without a whole lot of consistent sleep.

So we roll with it. God knows that little boy should be earning some zzzz's. He is a mover and a shaker if ever there was one. Tried jumping on the trampoline yesterday. Ate soap. Ate dog food. Tried to run. Laughed really really hard. Love him. And oh how these cool spring days remind me of the days leading up to his birth. But that's another post.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

siblings



Something really cool happened when we were away last week. Our two children turned into siblings. Obviously, this isn't exactly new, but there is a new energy, a new joy to their relationship. They could have spent hours in our little mountain condo playing weird, make-believe games together. Then went up and down the stairs and then some like they were a ride a Disneyland. They played chase and catch. Soli followed her around dutifully. When he'd knock his hard noggin' for the thousandth time, she'd help him up, give him a kiss, make it all better. He is totally dialed into all his sister's favorite things and can sniff Baby and Night-Night out of an unmade bed like a bloodhound. Even when Els was tuned out to her TV on the road, she'd periodically chat with him, acknowledge him, make him feel loved and cool.

Jeff and I did a lot of holy-cow-this-is-so-damn-cool look exchanging, never wanting to say too much as to distract from the moment. There's more to tell about our snowy, socked-in adventure, but for now, I've gotta just get that bit out. I have a brother and sister, a boy and a girl, siblings, forever.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

pretty good year

Dearest Solomon,

I just nursed you to sleep and felt a compulsion to write about you. I put on my pandora and Tori Amos's Pretty Good Year came on. The perfect song for the way I'm feeling right now about you. Even after you were up every two hours in search of my breasts, a regression back to the little you who slept by my side all those months. And even though my head aches and I'm bleary eyed, I still can't get enough of you. You looked up at me after you nursed just now, your big, clear blue eyes and your little toothless mouth spread into a beautiful smile. A smile that said I am the one you love. And that smile assuaged my exhaustion, my guilt over how much I work or how often I need to do things to take care of myself only. You are a very different creature to your sister. The first born. How simple and just the two of us her first year was.

But you, my little boy. Less than a month away from your first birthday, little boy. Walking, eager, expressive little boy. Little boy who is perfectly content as long as his mama is by his side. We drove seven hours together on Sunday, you and I. I made googly eyes at you in the backseat and watched you fall in and out of sleep. I fed you road snacks and sang you Spandau Ballet's True. Last night when I couldn't get back to sleep in between your excessive nursings, I listened to that song in my head, over and over. It's the perfect little love song for us. Simple. Repetitive. Beautiful. Dramatic.

Oh little boy. We're here in these snowy mountains. Even though I've had enough snow, enough days without sunshine, I think of you asleep in that little room and I feel fine. This is the vacation we are supposed to have. Old ones below. A wild haired little girl zoned out to PBS kids. These days where the old and the young in habit our space more than those of our generation.

I think about your birthday. How I want to celebrate. And I keep coming back to your birth, to the few friends that were there, who helped me bring you into the world with the grace and calm you deserved. I think about your placenta sitting in the red biohazard bag in our deep freeze. I wonder if the ground will have thawed enough for us to put it in the ground, plant you a tree by your sister's. I imagine all you want for your birthday is us. Maybe a cake to sink your fingers in. An audience to strut in front of. You don't even crawl anymore. You strut. You little nut, you.

My headache is going away as I write this. I feel my body settle into a snowy day. La f''in nina. But this is the life we chose for you. Close friends. Open spaces. Jagged mountains. Snowy winters.

Blessings abound.