Monday, December 31, 2012

new year's eve

It's 9:20 on New Year's Eve.  The children are asleep.  I have my special candles going, some mellow tunes, a glass of wine.  I just made Jeffy play literatti reflection with me.  Then we did new year tarot.  It was awesome.  It was great.  I feel with my whole self that this is exactly where I want to be at this very moment. 

The day after Christmas, life told us to settle down.  It told us to get the kids on antibiotics, get far away from our busy world, our dinner dates with friends, our proximity to school, our in and outs and all arounds.  We drove north and settled into a beauty spot, bigger and more luxurious than the one we actually live in, cable TV and multiple hot tubs, long days with just us to play with.  We bundled up the kids and gave them adventure after snowy adventure.  All sorts of skis, chair lift rides, sleds and many, many promises of hot cocoa.  It wasn't, at all, always easy.  It was far from perfect.  But it was just us, building moments, being moments, breathing moments.  There was one moment when we were all four riding up the chair lift at the little mountain (at The Big Mountain).  I felt such incredible perfection in that moment.  Such closeness.  Soli was snuggled into Jeff.  My arm was holding Elie's knee.  We were a mess of goggles and down, unnatural in our pokey skis and cold breaths.  I thought, this is one of those moments.  This is what I am giving to my children.  This time together.  This cold, mountain air.  The toughness that comes with seasons.  Solomon's absolute, natural ease as he moves on skis for the first time.  Eliana's awesome attitude through coughs and snot.  I'm not always sure how I got here, but I know it's where I am supposed to be.  For now. 

I love how no matter what Pandora station I have on, I always hear Stevie Nick's, "Landslide."  It's such a song for me and I'm pretty certain that the Pandora peeps have a good handle on what I like.  I sit here after our ceremony.  I look at my handsome husband on the sofa.  I think about the cards we drew for our relationship.  He's Friendliness.  I'm Flowering.  Together we are Possibilities.  Our composite energy...get this...We Are The World.  It really couldn't have been more perfect.  Even Jeffy's Friendliness.  Because for all his dicky attitude, he has a tremendous heart.  He always has.  He is growing into his power, into his goodness, into his patience.  He rocked his job these past few months.  Was really amazing.  Everyone saw it.  Felt it.  Me too. 

I love that about relationships that move over a long period of time.  You so know the essence of someone, see them move through it, around it, back to it. 

I am feeling the possibility of all we can be.  I am feeling us take hold of our family.  I am feeling the way our children feel us.  Feel the power that is our unit, our choices, our journeys and foibles and time.  Our challenges.  Our grace.  Our wisdom. 

There were some intense moments in the great outdoors this past week.  Sick Solomon with cold hands in the backcountry of Glacier Park is a force not to be fucked with.  It's loud and screaming and really, really sad.  Eliana as she tries to navigate her role as big sister.  Her disappointments when her bro is freaking, her frustration when he clocks her on the floor out of nowhere, for no reason.  Her absolute delight in every hysterical thing he says.  In the way he loves to run around naked.  Dance.  Talk really, really loud.  In complete and awesome sentences. 


They play Family.  Soli is always the big brother.  Eliana is always the baby sister.  I am...can you guess it...always the mama. 
I like that.  I like always being the mama.  I like escaping my mamadom.  Heading into the yoga studio, into the wine bar, on to the trail with a girlfriend, into my classroom, my book, my bath.

But I always like coming back.  Those moments that go from complete frustration and chaos to total hilarity.  The unpredictability of it all.  I could just sit here and smile, breathe in, all the beauty that we had during our little escapade.  Eliana on cross-country skis for the first time.  Eliana in the mighty, great, bounty that is Glacier park, scooting ever so gingerly, through the snow, one choppy glide at a time.
  I had built it up.  Now this is Mama's favorite winter sport.  Isn't it awesome, Eliana?  Breathe that beautiful air!  Feel it move through your body! So simple!
Admittedly at that goofball moment on my part, I totally got why Eliana is gonna be way more into downhill skiing.  It's fun.  It moves fast.  You can just let go and fly.  And I even had a few moments like that on the Big Mountain, a few, okay...I kinda get's kinda fun....

But just seeing your little ones trying something that you so love?  It's awesome.  And when it all went to hell because Solomon was a cold and cranky little old man?  Well, dang.  And Jeff's face as he hauled their cranky asses on the sled through the snow after he gave me the time I needed to get in my special solo ski.  Dang again.

So when the hell is it the new year already?  It's only 9:50.  I don't think we'll make it.  But gosh am I glad to be here.  Glad for this time.  This little home.  The smell of my sacred candles.  My friend Pandora.  The really expensive bottle of wine that a parent at the school gave Jeff for doing such a great job running the joint.  This is a good place to be.

Happy new year, my sweet and beautiful friends.  I think its you Melis, you mom.  Jody maybe.  Hollace?  Hilary?  I think those are my loyal fans.  Maybe Jeffy's mama? Kelli?  I am so thankful for this public space for reflection.  I am a stronger, more thoughtful person for taking this time to be with my thoughts.  My journal is all images and fragments, bits and pieces.  Thank you for giving me this space to flow.

And happy birthday, beautiful Brandon.  I've spent lots of time with your voice today.  Your words.  Our memories.  Happy birthday Gang-Gang.  I wish I knew you now.  Would love more insight into my past, my DNA.  Appreciate my propensity to over-accessorize from you.   My love of rich foods.  My delight in abundance. 

And to the living, happy birthday, beautiful sister Erin.  You are such a bright light of all that is good and love.  May I tap into more of that as I move into this new year. 

Here's to the age of the feminine, this time of 2013, this time of new.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas eve


It's midday, Christmas eve.  Soli's sleep is wracked with deep, hacking coughs.  Elie's fever burns as she rests in my bed.  This wasn't what we had planned for the day.  We were supposed to play on the rope tow and eat pizza at Snowbowl, maybe head for a family cross-country ski, our visions sunny and perfect, far, far from fevers and coughs and all things ruinous and unpredictable.

But things have been pretty all over the place lately.

I've been pretty scared to even sit down at this computer after the school shooting a week ago.  I know I can't bring an ounce of bow-tied closure or understanding to that one.  It hit me hard.  Like I could barely read a book to my students' without crying that afternoon kinda hard. I have a kindergartener kinda hard.  I've always suffered from extreme anxiety kinda hard, but schools are my sacred place kinda hard.

So I'll take the fever and cough, a simple change of plans, a day folding laundry and celebrating the simple and mundane.  We are all here.  We are all tremendous.  There is so much love.

My daughter fills me to the brim right now.  She's so eager and spritely and creative, even when resting at 102 degrees.  She takes weird, artsy pictures with my phone and then looks at them over and over again.  She loves to draw and is learning to read.  I hear her feet pitter pattering my way, curls wild and akimbo, skin a bit paler than usual, eyes bigger, dark circles, sunken.  Now she's squeezed up next to me on the sofa and I just told her about this blog, how I started it when she was in my belly, how I don't write as much as I used to but how it's still super important to me.

****days later****

Needless to say, I didn't finish that post with the little miss next to me.  What we did do was go back and look at pictures and read tidbits and watch videos of when she was "little."  Because she's so big now.  I was filled with gratitude for this space, this forum for reflection, for memory, for keeping time. 

Christmas was a sweet, simple affair. The kids were still sick and not their best selves.  Jeff woke up early and picked up his dad so Poppy could watch the kids open their stockings and gifts.
   The kids loved their books and puzzles, a yukelele and cool ABC train from Gran, candy canes and barrettes and all sorts of random stocking fillers.  
Eliana so purely believes in Santa Claus right now.  It's awesome.  When we were at Bobby and Jo's for Xmas eve dinner, he made a brief appearance.  Eliana held her hand over her mouth and stared in shock.  After a few of her older girlfriends went up and told Santa their wants, Eliana gathered courage and went up.  She was the picture of sweet innocence.  And her brother?  Well, he had no reservations whatsoever. 

Interestingly enough though, a few days later, totally out of the blue she said, "Mom, that wasn't the real Santa Claus at JiJi and Solan's house."  When I asked her why she replied, "The real Santa wears red pants.  That Santa's pants were white." True indeed.

I had splendid ideas about cross country skiing or sledding or general nature discovery on Christmas.  With our two little sickies and the amount of time and effort it takes for us all to get out the door, especially when snow sports are involved, well...we weren't out for long.  Soli ripped it on his little skis though and the sun was out, the sky was blue, and, well, it was worth the collective effort. 

Even if little man passed out hard in the car.  And didn't sleep again that day.  He's so big these days, so insistent on not being "a baby." 
Christmas dinner found us hosting some of our MIS colleagues and their little families, an international and motley crew enjoying steak and wine and chatting in Spanish.  I love having people in my little home. 

 Which brings us through the big Navidad.  I felt so glad for the quiet time at home, for Facetime with my mom, for real time with Jeff's dad.  I also felt mildly relieved to wake up on the 26th and know that it was all over.  The build up.  The chaos.  The stuff.  I'm ready for phase two which will find our family up in the mountains, our own little snowy vacay.  Until then, much love, much merry, much gratitude. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

running up that hill

We continue to crest towards the holidays.  I feel myself slow this week at work.  Feel the kiddos rev.  They finished their big show, yet they have two more full weeks until the break.  They want to chat and sing carols and count down the days.  "Only fifteen more days til Christmas, Gillian!"  That sounds so short, yet the days til then exhaust with the all the glitter and sheen that is Christmas.
And this year, Hannukah.  Jeffy seems to be owning his Jewish faith pretty hardcore this year.  I imagine it's because Morty, our favorite local Jew, may be experiencing one of his last.  On the first night of Hannukah, Jeffy was lamenting the fact that we don't own a mennorah.  "I'll just make one," he said with confidence, heading into the garage.  Hmmm.  I thought.  My husband the handy-man.  Sort of.  Not so much.

But then he returned.  Perfect piece of plywood covered in tin foil.  Foil nests to hold candles.  Sticky Tac holding the candles to the board, one a bit higher representing the Shamus.  It's rad.  So Jeffy lit the candles and sang the song, the kids flailing behind all, "Barukah, lalala....".  It was after we cut down and put up our tree.  The house was ablaze of tradition and history, of then and now.


Tonight is the fourth night of Hannukah and I think we're all getting the hang of it.  Eliana declared in the car on the way to visit Poppy tonight, "I LOOOVE being Jewish!  But mommy's not Jewish, right?  Just you, Dada and me and Solomon and PopPop.  But not mommy."
Sigh.  Let the games begin.

Jeffy tried like the devil to find an actual mennorah to bring his dad tonight.  He finally found himself in Target asking some chick named Nature where to find one.  Needless to say, he was sent all over the store.  And they didn't have the proper candles, so he bought birthday.  Rainbow.  And they didn't have gelt, so he bought a chocolate bar.  With some Hebrew wrapping.

PopPop seemed to sort of get it.  He was certainly glad to have us all there.  And he used the word, "Nosh," wish means he was thinking with his Jewish brain.  I loved it.
And I feel so wrapped up in this big, full, life right now.  It feels so fitting that we aren't going anywhere exotic, that we're just hunkering in our little home, the tree full of handmade ornaments, the table a pile of laundry to folk, homework to do, shirts to iron.  My husband took out the iron tonight.  That's how real life we are these days.  He's the BMOC (Big Man On Campus) and he irons.

I'm so, so proud of how hard he's worked these past few months.  Eight more days of being boss and then Julie returns and our lives can have some sense of normalcy again.  He's been awesome, though.  I can't wait to take him out on Friday to celebrate.

We did go out for a bit this past Friday.  And a weird old lady at the Union Club came up to our table with her old camera and said, "I do feet."  I think my white tights and red boots and Jeffy's white, polyester bells caught her eye.  We took off our coats and reveled our whole get-up.  Next thing we knew, we were in the girl's bathroom posing.  Jeff was mortified.  I loved every second of it.
We're figuring out how to rock this thing together.  Our eyes grow wide again and again as we listen to our daughter who seems to never stop talking, moving, singing, putting dreaded curls in her mouth.

 And Big Sol.  Who is so damn articulate and beautiful and greets me each afternoon with big lip kisses.  He's the best kisser ever. Hopefully he won't destroy all the ornaments.
I swear Elie sang Christmas songs for three hours during our tree love fest.  Jeff took a break and Soli slept and Els and I busted Pandora Holiday and talked all things heirloom and tradition.  She loves the word heirloom.  Everything is an heirloom.

When Soli was finally up and Jeffy back, we were ready to hang.  At which point all Soli wanted to do was run his wagon as fast as he could into the sofa and all Jeff wanted to do was get the tree perfectly straight which was a huge task.  Elie and I should have hung without the boys.  Because they are so not sentimental like that.

But we love them so. 

holiday blast off

 We blasted off into all things holiday last week.  It's been such a whizpop, I haven't even had a chance to do much recording.  Now all things Christmas are starting to lurk, so it's time to get up to date.

Oh how much we needed Thanksgiving break!  Fall madness was beginning to mount.  Five full days without having to be anywhere besides a big table full of food was very much appreciated.  I took some time to get back into my body after so many full months being so in my mind.  I can't believe how much I needed a few days of yoga.  It was like drinking water after months in the desert.  Oh how I need that movement.  I remember Melissa telling me when I was a 23 year old freakazoid of a new teacher in the 'hood, how she thought I'd really benefit from yoga.  That was a turning point.  And that was sorta how I felt in class last week.  Like, how have we been away from each other for so long?  How could I have let you go?

Thanksgiving asana was followed by a gratitude hike with my lovebugs on Jumbo saddle.  Watching the three of them walk ahead of me, play hide-in-seek, the golden grass and big, sheltering sky, well, I'll take it.  And then a delightful big meal with our favorite friends and family.  Super swell.
I have those intense moments of missing my parents and sisters, especially when I'm not with them for holidays.  But it's been so many years since I've had a California Thanksgiving.  This is what my children know.  This is where they want to spend their holiday.  I feel like it's taken five years for us to settle into this.  This is the family that we made.  Traditions begin to follow.  Thank goodness for Face time. 
Our post feast day found us at a lovely house down in Ennis.  The papas wanted to hunt, the mamas wanted to chill, the children wanted to be goofballs.  The hotsprings wanted to be bowed down to by this tight and worn-down chica.  Montana is one hell of a state.  The drive home was like a light show of colors and peaks, sunlight streaks and shifting clouds.  We needed some space from the intensity of now.  Space from school and laundry baskets and buckets of responsibility. 


Time is moving way too fast.  Eliana and I were looking at some of her baby pictures today.  I was a baby too!  Age seemed to hit me fast and hard after Soli was born.  Lately I feel like I'm a series of lines and streaks and strange, unusual folds.  I need to remember to give my self the water that is time in my body, time with my friends, time that is slow and casual and light.  I barely got dressed today.  It was heavenly.  My girlfriend and her daughter stopped by around noon and laughed at all of us because we were still in our jammies.  I need to buy some mud mask, some new candles, and hereby declare monthy Sunday spa days, stay at home days, cook broccoli soup and shuffle in slippers days.  It's the only reason I have the juice to write tonight.  Because I took it so way down today that I  am actually functional at 9:00. 

Because we have officially entered the season of this.  And my little elves are ready to blast off.