December 18, 2014

Mornings


With a husband that leaves the house before dawn and a baby that thinks 6AM is sleeping in, mornings start insanely early over here. I remember the days when waking up at 7AM was painful, and now I am routinely out of bed at an hour that starts with a 5... I'm certain this qualifies as some kind of torture for a lifelong night owl. 

I have spent a lot of time bemoaning my forced early start, but in the last few months, and with Little Smith in school several days a week, I am starting to come around. It's one of the few times during the day when we can be home together and everyone is actually in a good mood. We've settled into a (slightly variable) routine, and rising so early makes our pace feel leisurely, even when we need to be out the door by 8:30AM.

Breakfast is the one meal of the day that we do not eat together, and I break all of my rules about not catering separate dishes to suit different tastes. We eat in shifts, often the kids start with some yogurt or toast with honey and nut butter, then follow with eggs for 'second breakfast'. They always seem to eat best in the morning.

We try to fit in a little project, like painting or baking. We do some reading and listen to music or NPR. When it is finally time to get washed and dressed (that part is never fun), I actually feel as though we've had a pretty full day. I appreciate that I don't have to rush, or feel guilty when the afternoon is devoted to errands or we indulge in a movie. 

Don't get me wrong, if our kids suddenly decided to sleep an extra hour or two in the morning, I would gladly follow their lead! But this is my lemonade our of lemons for the winter... finding some special time with two bright eyed little people... even if there are some serious bags under my own tired eyes.

December 14, 2014

A Tree


With the semester sprinting to a finish, James's relentless work schedule, and my general displeasure for many things holiday... life has been crazy around here. Last week I felt like everything was ramping up, and was bracing myself for the inevitable implosion; final reviews for the studio I teach, serving as a guest juror on a few other reviews, several late nights of social and work related engagements for James, zero interest or success in purchasing a single Christmas gift, various family pressures and woes, Little Smith's new found anxiety surrounding school, Roo's new molars cutting through and robbing us all of sleep, miscommunication (or no communication!) between James and I leading to numerous frustrations, the cat routinely yowling and vomiting on our bed at 4AM sharp... I reached my breaking point and found that I just had to keep bending, because that bottom was yet to come.

And then, mercifully!, the crashing low that I was bracing myself for never did hit. Instead we seem to be on a slow and steady rise back to 'normal'. I finished up with my class, Baby Roo took a few great naps and I got to spend a little quality one on one time with my favorite four year old, which seems to have eased at least some of his tension... plus I introduced him to Superman, and there is just far less room for whining when your mind is totally blown!

We had a quiet weekend, breakfast in bed, Christmas shopping in Harvard Square, and getting things done around the house. Roo decided to be daddy's girl (a welcome break for this mama) and Little Smith stayed up late with us, drinking sparkling cider by the fire and playing his favorite board game, Wildcraft. We all laughed so loud, I was certain we would wake the baby. 

We decorated the tree and made gingerbread cookies shaped like acorns and leaves. Little Smith talked our ears off about the magic of Santa. I loaded up my Amazon and Etsy carts and crossed several gifts off my list. James did mountains of laundry, and we discovered that we actually do own socks and underwear. It was all sublimely uneventful, and much much needed.

Our holiday frenzy of travel is just beginning, and I know we are more likely in the eye of the storm than legitimately through it. Still, I feel more prepared to face the chaos having enjoyed a few days of quiet. There is nothing like closing the chapter on a crappy week (or two) to make you really appreciate a man that gives you clean socks, kids that make you laugh, and just enough sparkly lights to cast a glow.

December 6, 2014

The Cabin


My memory has always been a point of pride. Well into my twenties, I could trace back through most of my childhood, not just the highlights but the little things; the mark my name tag made on my kindergarten jumper and the way the lilacs drooped from a neighbor's house on my walk to grade school. I never related to the flashbacks played out in movies, triggered by some song or smell and described in fragments. I had the whole picture, laid out in linear perfection.

Cut to a decade later, now with two children and many more milestones to file in my mental scrap book... and it is shocking how much of my own memories have slipped away. I just don't have the space or use for them, and when I see something in my kids that reminds me of my own youth, it is like that cinematic fractured flood of recognition that used to seem so foreign to me. 

We spent the Thanksgiving break at my aunt and uncle's farm, where we are lucky enough to enjoy so many of our holidays amongst family. Now that we have two growing children (and no one wants to put up with us!), we have been happily relocated to a little cabin in the woods, an outpost of our very own. My aunt has made the place as cozy and magical as a dream. Little Smith went bananas over the bunk beds and we all agreed that we never wanted to leave.


This visit was layered for me, because back when this cabin veered less towards magazine ready and more towards rustic (complete with a pit toilet), it was where my father lived, and where I visited him often. The memories of my time there came rolling back; the wicker couch my dad hung from the beams that served as my bed, I would fall asleep swinging back and forth in front of the fire, soup from a can heated in the fireplace before there was a working kitchen, Christmas trees, cut fresh from the property, and dragged through the snow on a sled, then hung from the rafters instead of a stand... my presents were literally under the tree... so many amazing moments that I am grateful for to this day.

But with intense light, also comes darkness. In my experience, being in the orbit of a manic depressive (and I know the more correct term these days is Bipolar, but it never seems as accurate) means that life in general is lived out in extremes. At his best, my father has the talent, style, and charisma that draws delight from everyone and made me feel like a superstar by his side. At his worst, being around him was frightening; bed ridden depression, rage, and alcohol and drug addiction that eviscerated most of us who love him. 

I have watched so many close friends and family squander their lives obsessing over the injustices of their childhoods, my own father included. I still don't know if my coping methods are healthy or veer towards denial, but somewhere along the way, I made the choice to carry forward all of the privileges of my upbringing, and push down the adversity. I have been unquestionably lucky in so many ways, and with limited space left in my brain for memories... I set those dark ones free to float adrift.

December 2, 2014

F O U R

november 25, 2014

My baby boy turned four last week. It's been four years since he made me a mother and changed everything forever. It's difficult to remember life without him by my side, yet hard to believe that there is no baby left in his long limbs. It's been an amazing honor to spend every day with him, help him learn, and watch him grow. 

He is such a smart, funny, and sensitive little person. For months, I have been watching with pride at how mature and easy going he's become. His confidence is building, and he is opening up and talking more freely with friends, and even new people. But after a fall filled with few tantrums and the best of behavior, we have hit a rough patch in the last few weeks. 

He doesn't want to go to school or speech therapy anymore, and every morning is a battle. He tells me that he is going to knock down his school, and all schools, so that he can't go. He just wants to stay home with me and his sister. He also begs me not to teach on the two nights that I leave an hour before his bedtime. Almost every morning, he asks what we are doing that day, if I am going to teach that night... I sense that he feels his plate is just too full, but it is difficult to know how to make it better.

I deliberately haven't enrolled him in any extracurricular activities, it's simply three mornings of preschool and two mornings with a short speech class. I imagine many kids have far more scheduled days, but for him, it's a lot... and I hate seeing him so clearly uncomfortable with the pace. 

I debate if I should cut back on teaching or take some time off, if I should pull him out of preschool or reduce speech class to a single day. I sift through all of the possibilities over and over, but ultimately I think these commitments are good for him, or good for me... it feels like we are both holding our nose and drinking down some awful tasting medicine, and I am just hoping that I am right, that this is what is best for both of us in the long run.  

And we are working to make the most of all the free time that we do have together. It's easy to burn through these short winter days on errands, but taking the twenty minutes to walk, instead of driving to school, talking and collecting leaves along the way, it makes all the difference. 

To my buggy, happiest of birthdays. You are the sweetest and most curious four year old that I know, and I am grateful for everything that you have taught me, and excited for all of the adventures ahead. May this year be filled with lots of fun, and many slow days to explore your heart's desire.

three / two / one

November 21, 2014

Just Do It


My grandmother always used to say, 'if you want something done right, do it yourself'. I never want that expression to prove true, but it usually seems to be dead on. I have struggled to delegate throughout most of my personal and professional life. I rarely seek or accept help, and I suspect in part that's about self consciously not wanting to inconvenience anyone else, but in much larger part, it's about an arrogance in assuming that only I am capable of getting everything accomplished correctly. 

Slowly, over the past couple of years, I have been trying to farm out some of my responsibilities. It was slightly painful to relinquish fall planting to James and Little Smith for the second year in a row. This past spring, I scratched my head as I watched garlic push up in odd places throughout our garden... because why there... and why just a few bulbs over there? I was determined to step in and correct those mistakes this year, but when I realized there was just too much on my plate and the ground would soon be frozen, I determined done should trump done right

I am looking forward to the surprise of seeing where those sprouts spring up next season. From what I can piece together through the pictures, it should be interesting! :)

*Little Smith's first year planting garlic (he was younger than baby Roo!) here.

November 14, 2014

Not for the Season


Springtime comes and the leaves are back on the trees again
Snipers are harder to see (my friends)
Weeding out the weekends

Summer comes gravity undoes you
You're happy because of the lovely way the sunshine bends
Hiding from your close friends
Weeding out the weekends


Candy left over from Halloween
A unified theory of everything
Love left over from lovers leaving
Books, they all know they're not worth reading
It's not for the season


When autumn comes you sit in your chair and you stare
At the TV square
Hiding in the deep end
Weeding out the weekends

Winter comes and the days all start late
There's motion on the boughs where the dark shapes prowl
Feeling out the feelings
Feeling out the feeling


Candy left over from Halloween
A unified theory of everything
Love left over from lovers leaving
Books, they all know they're not worth reading
They're not worth reading

~ Laminated Cat (Not for the Season), Wilco

++++++++++++++++

We woke up to a decent dusting of snow this morning. The heat is on, some wood is chopped, my knitting ambitions are ramping up (trying to find the time!), and the darkness is falling way too early in the afternoon. It's a long season ahead, but I think we are all ready.