flying through life with my hair on fire...i am a planet called mom, with four moons in my orbit.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Everything happens all at once

I'm a month into my job and am starting to wonder a bit if this is all there is (short answer, unlikely, but I'm impatient), my marriage is on the rollercoaster big time, many things to juggle and worry about.
Now, add one more. My baby girl has mono.
Mira has been sick since last Tuesday, a bit over a week, now. At first, the diagnosis was strep, mostly based on the fact that Soren also got sick and had a positive strep test. Mira had the same symptoms but was worse than Soren, and her tonsils looked shredded. Our doc didn't want to swab them, and all signs pointed to strep in Mira as well. When the antibiotics didn't help, however, our doctor moved both kids to a new prescription and then ordered bloodwork to see what was going on underneath. Answer: Soren did have strep, and is now fine. Mira may well have had strep too, but her main problem is mono.
In the past week Mira has lost a pound. She went from 53.5 to 52.5 pounds. Mira is 10, and has hovered around the 50 pound mark for about two years. We've been hot on the trail of what is causing her to be so skinny for some time now. Considering that Chiara, at age 6, weighs 47 pounds (and is a head shorter than Mira) and Soren, at age 12 and about an inch or so taller than Mira, weighs 75 pounds...I have a sense that Mira is about 15 pounds underweight, at least.
So, how to get her better and also help her gain weight. The saga will continue....

Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Since I started working at Desert Academy I've been delighted to be there. Desert is a small, dynamic private middle and high school. The head is a former teacher of mine, from 8th grade. He's long been a friend, and I used to babysit his kids when they were babies. Just a few weeks ago I went out and had drinks with the youngest of the two, who was 6 months when I cared for her. She's now 21 and fabulous.
I feel old.
But I digress.
I assist the admissions director and the finance director in their day to day stuff. Filing, errands, answering phones, researching updated college guides, creating sign up sheets and binders for college counseling, typing letters and get the picture.
Of course, I crave more.
Many of the teachers were born in the...1980s. I would guess that none of them recall with much detail the Challenger disaster, nor do they likely have a memory of the hostage crisis. Of course, not all the faculty are 10+ years younger than yours truly but many are...and they are teaching. They are creating, and imparting wisdom to the next generation.
So, I think I want to do this. I think I want to teach. But I? Really? Do I want to track grades and create lesson plans, mark kids tardy and tell blossoming girls to pull their shirts down to meet the tops of their pants? Do I want to remind boys to remove their hats in class, and police homework assignments? Do I want to be assigned to committees and be required to attend a boring adult?
I am getting to know these kids, slowly. The ones I've met are wonderful, intelligent, inspiring. Some are shifty eyed and uncomfortable in their own skin, yes, but I remember being on the other side of this relationship--feeling some sense of weirdness in the presence of adults. There was always something unsettling about them when I was an adolescent. Adolescence is, after all, a strange limbo. Striving to be independent and grown up while feeling a deep sense of disdain and impatience for all things "independent and grown up." We adults represent all that is suppressed, and since school started on the 21st I've already heard the assertion that we're trying to make them "conform."
Once upon a time I fought the power too. Wore black clothes, dyed my hair black, walked around looking morose. Hated being home, craved being with my friends....
I can't say I did it all but I did a lot. And now, I am in other shoes. Now, people rely on me, and my yearning for independence and wider boundaries has come to fruition. Now, I am the gatekeeper and the task master. I really want to gate keep other people's rebellious kids?
Perhaps not. I mean, I have a two-year-old and all.
What I crave, then, is this: to create. To inspire. To leave a mark. I could do this through teaching, certainly, or I could stay the course, file the files, write the letters, and answer the phones. Let my day job inform my own creative pursuits.
Assuming I pursue them.

This is rather old news. This has long been my struggle. But at what point will I reach the top of the peak, find that incredible view, step off into the void...and soar?

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Dropping off the planet's face

I know. I know I know. I get a job and suddenly, I vanish. No more updates, no more nada.
C'est moi, and I know this about myself.
I have some sort of fantasy that I will only stop by here to update my Planet when I have something cohesive and essay-like to share. None of this posting my day sort of stuff: I want to achieve finished, polished, insightful essays daily.
But then, my days happen all around me. Every second of waking life a juggling act, balancing smallish needs and medium needs, my own needs, my husband's needs. The need for dishes to be washed and flies to be swatted (and dang but the flies are numerous right now!). For homework to be helped with, for a particular small butt to be wiped and rediapered, always against the will of the vociferous person attached to said butt.
There is dinner to be prepped, eaten, cleaned. A dog to shoo from the kitchen.
There is....

Right now, there is silence. Sleeping. Nobody fighting off siblings or clothing or baths. Nobody screaming and flailing. Nobody asking me for anything.
So I write, and remember how the silence of the early morning before the cacophony was broken by the hoot of an owl out in the darkness. Before my day rolled out beneath my feet, when all was still possibility.
But isn't it always possibility...wrapped up in every moment?

I kiss my smallish son on the cheek. He is quiet, and still. I will lie him in bed now, and ignore the dishes, ignore the laundry. Time to read, and to be.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

WHoo hOO!

I got the admin job! Will step into the full-time working world on the 14th...which is also Mirabai's tenth birthday. I worry about Gray and how he will adjust to a new daycare but we'll work through it all, I'm sure. The extra income will be incredibly helpful and...I will have an OFFICE.

More details to come....

Monday, July 24, 2006

Bringing the Outside In

I'm sitting here on a cool July night, after a spectacular thunderstorm this afternoon, in the dark, quiet house. The Whirling Dervish, AKA Graysen, has finally succumbed to sleep after much heartache, tears, neediness, frenetic energy. He changes on a dime, I spend all my waking hours, it seems, trying to keep up with him. His new thing: if his shoes are ON and we remove them he pitches the holiest of holy fits. He literally acts as though he's losing it. He won't sit for more than a few minutes in his hichair. I usually have about three minutes of peaceful seated eating time before he's climbing out and, invariably, into my lap to nurse. He nurses ALL THE TIME. This morning we were up at 5:30 because he couldn't stop nursing, and switching sides, forcing me to constantly shift my position in bed to accommodate his demands. By morning, I am exhausted, wrung out, dehydrated. I almost feel violated, my body beyond my control.
This child can slay me with his smiles, and then leave me feeling depleted beyond all possibility.
I say this as the mother of four, and he is my youngest. Though the other three were intense, with this child I feel like I'm on a rollercoaster with no seatbelt, and no promise of any reprieve.

Chris and I were at odds tonight over smallish slights from the night before and a couple from today. Gory details aside, he feels as though I've been pulling away and being rude to him. I feel like I've been in a funk and am trying to be direct with my feelings. It all culminated in tears tonight--mine--and feeling at the very edge of myself. It seems, in our marriage, that we rocket between extremes. Extreme happiness and passion, extreme upset and hurt. Like a bipolar marriage. Like a rollercoaster, with no seatbelts, no reprieve.

So I came here, to the couch where my butt is slowly working a groove into the cushion (again with that issue of my "home office") and tried to find some definition around my grief. I am close to some sort of epiphany, I already grasp it in theory...but trying to bring it into my psyche and live from that place is proving difficult.

I am struggling with the idea that I keep looking to the external to fix the internal. That job I wanted is a prime example of this. On the one hand, there's nothing wrong with desiring a position of paid employment doing what you love and have worked so hard to build. Therein lies my disappointment. Alternately, however, I knew going into the long wait that if I DID get the job I would be facing a very steep learning curve, be put into a position that would challenge my fundamental nature (mostly introvert whereas I would be required to be extroverted), and I'd have to devote a larger block of time to the work. Evenings, special events, weekend straight 40 hour workweek for that position.

I knew this, and had this nagging sense of insecurity about it. Would it mean I'd have less time for the kids? Gray is still so little...what would I do if I had to work late and Chris wasn't home yet? How often could I really ask my mom to help out? So many questions. As the backbone of the family when it comes to managing the kids' time and needs, this concerned me. Of course.

I chose to ignore it, feeling that I'd figure it out. In the end, it figured me out.

In the dust that is my hopes for that position I can see something more clearly than before. I don't have to take a job to continue my creative pursuits. Perhaps, in fact, I can separate the two things and really create on my own terms. Design, writing, photography...for ME. And, hopefully, publication here and there.

The largest lesson in all of this: though I know better, with my mind, my spirit isn't quite up to speed with the idea that validation for my life and love needs only come from within ME. I don't have to land that director position to prove I have the skills I have been building for so long.

Right now I am faced with a dilemma. My inner editor wants to grab my hand, read this over, and poke holes in it completely. It's rambling, it doesn't hang together. What in HELL are you really trying to say, anyway?

Ya know...fuck it. What I'm trying to say is this:
I live on the fringes of this brilliant raw world where everything either brings great joy or great sorrow. My time is rarely my own and I am always tired. My belly sags, remembering the stretching of each tiny being I made with my blood and bones....and my heart is filled up with them. My marriage is a blessing and a curse, my husband alternately my best friend and confidante and the person who most makes me want to run screaming. I embody this rawness, this deep thick life...and I both crave it and feel repelled by it.
I can validate myself, and need validation.
And I got a big kick out of saying FUCK it. Fuck it!

Saturday, July 22, 2006


I found out on Friday that I didn't get the job I wanted. I was bummed. The person hiring, however, went on to tell me that the decision wasn't an easy one, and that she was impressed with me personally. She asked if I'd be interested in interviewing for a different position within the school--Administrative Assistant to the Director of Admissions. Basically, none of the stuff I enjoy doing. Not a creative position.
I said yes, I'm interested. And I am, for the following reasons:
1. The tuition benefit for school employees is phenomenal. Without working there, my kids wouldn't be able to attend (nearly 15k per year).
2. I suspect that this would be more of a straight 40 hour/week position, thus lending me more time and less stress for the kids and my own creative pursuits (the other position would have likely required a lot of extra time).
3. It's a regular paycheck with benefits.

So, I hope to hear about an interview, and was told that this position would start soon. School is just around the corner, after all.

Here's hoping.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Getting away, getting back...

I feel like this lately--like a speck of a bug being followed by shadow poised on the very edge of the world. I try to focus on the color, rather than the precarious ground beneath my feet, but it's so easy to lose sight of the glorious view.

Last Sunday, we got away. Loaded up the Moose (our burly and beloved '85 Landcruiser) and trekked out to a canyon about 45 minutes from town. Chris, my mom, Graysen, the rattling truck, beneath the hot hot sun, on a day of raw feelings. Chris's work schedule, 12+ hour days 6 days per week with a 120 mile round-trip commute, has left him feeling flayed. I struggle to offer my support while stuck in the quagmire that is, on an almost daily basis, parenting four kids. We both have our burdens, and it's so tough to see each other without the cast of our own shadows. Last Sunday saw us getting a late start after much tension, and there were few words between us as we closed in on the mysterious and treacherous canyon that wends its way up from Dixon Apple Farm. In the canyon, a stream, butterflies, wildflowers...a reprieve from the parched desert landscape that otherwise surrounds us, pulling all the moisture from our skin.
A roostertail of dust followed us along the stretch of road by the farm and we rounded the bend, mouth of the canyon in sight, only to come up short in front of a locked metal gate. ROAD CLOSED. The canyon out of reach.
We turned around, defeated, and mused about the reasons the road was now blocked off. Our suspicion: in January one of my mother's co-workers drove her car off a cliff somewhere up here. She wasn't found until March at the base of a cliff in a canyon so remote that rescue workers had to rappel in to retrieve her body. The papers referred to the canyon where she was found as Bland Canyon, a label my mother was uncomfortable with. "There's simply no place in Bland Canyon where she could have plummetted from such a height in her 2 wheel-drive car," she said. The only obvious place is here, on this now blocked road that winds up, up, and around one of the most frightening corners I've driven. The one-track dirt road snakes its way around the corner where there's no guard rail on the lip of a drop-off nobody would survive. It only makes sense.
In lieu of venturing further into the canyon we planned to visit, we took a right turn past the apple farm and went instead into Bland Canyon. As Mom described, the road did not climb high enough to create a suicidal drop-off. Rather, it meandered through the bottom of the canyon, was shaded by evergreens. Recent rains had raised clusters of wildflowers, and at one point I called the halt, grabbed my camera, and was awestruck by the small world I found unfolding on a crop of coneflowers. White butterflies, reddish spiky bees, bright red aphids, a honeybee or two...the air was thick with life, the flowers host and witness to all of it. Beyond that, we found a pull off where we explored for awhile, all three of us adults with cameras in hand. Then, we moved on, and found a road that climbed away to the left. With Moose in 4 low we climbed up an old washed out track, passing a sign that piqued our interest:

A cemetery up this old road? Of course. Bland Canyon gets its name from an old mining town, now a locked-up ghost town. A few years ago, Mom visited Bland and met the last resident, a woman named Helen Blount. I recall seeing Mom's photos from her visit, but having no physical place to connect with personally they didn't resonate for me past the aesthetic (Mom is a great photographer!). When faced with the cemetery, which we found a ways up the road and hidden in some trees, I'm jonesing to go to the actual town.
The cemetery isn't delineated on its border, as far as we could tell. Simple rings of moss rock seemed to mark the older graves, which are scattered beneath trees and around bends. The only marked graves we found were enclosed by a short black fence. Three people rest there. The two older graves were a bit hard to read but I think they said Grace and John Callahan, both deceased pre-1980. The one to the farthest left was Helen Blount herself. When we approached the grave I had not yet made the connections with Mom's long ago trip to Bland, the pictures she took, and this canyon or this cemetery. So I was at first surprised when Mom said: "Oh look, this is where Helen is buried." Surprise passed quickly, however, because I am well aware of the fact that Mom knows pretty much everyone. Forget Kevin Bacon--around here it's the six degrees of Laura Ware.
She filled in the gaps of my understanding about Helen and Bland, and we explored a bit before heading back up the road that took us to the top of the ridge and the most beautiful view. The bouncing of the Moose along the old mining roads rocked Gray to sleep and as the sun set we retraced our steps back to the mouth of the canyon and home, the full moon inset in a deepening blue and pink-streaked sky following us the whole way.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006


Driving away from the house in the early evening, Gray in the carseat and unhappy about it, I felt like running away. Running until my chest constricted and forced my legs to melt, my body sink to earth. And reality. I felt like running from Graysen, who screamed at me from his carseat. Not a sad scream, not a crying scream. A scream to see where my boundaries would be. A scream so shrill it made my head echo painfully. After each such scream he looked at me, challenging me. What are you gonna do about that, huh? his eyes seemed to say. They could have burned holes through me, bad mama who strapped him unwilling into the carseat. If you wanna see your mama pull all her hair out and run screaming from the car you keep that up...I said through clenched teeth. He kept it up. Kept doing it until my voice washed over the decibels of his, canceling out his fury with my own. I turned and saw his little body jump, his eyes crumple along with his rosebud lips. He began to cry. The screaming challenge ground to a sudden halt. I drove on, raging mother, taboo and guilty. Full of anger and regret. I wanted to reach back and touch his little bare legs. Comfort him. Reassure him that his mother isn't psychotic. Isn't fractured with insanity.
But I didn't want him to start screaming again...I be taken seriously. I white-knuckled it into town, listening to the tide of his sadness ebb. Then, there was silence between us, the monotone of the car engine the only soundtrack for our sinking feelings. Mother, child. Mother, son. He is my baby. I reached back, felt his rounded knee, rubbed his little boy legs. Turned my head ever so briefly and saw his little half moon belly poking out from under his big boy button up shirt. Caught a small smile playing on his lips.
Everything forgiven. The fracture sewn back up, fire and fury tucked away. For now.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Emotions run high today, a symptom of lingering stress. Chris, my husband, is stressed by a job that demands so much from him. He's working 6 days a week for the forseeable future, and each of those days also requires a commute of 120 miles roundtrip. The job is a good one, and he's fortunate to work days now, instead of nights. He worked graveyard shift (with a commute) for nearly a year. That ended this past April and we're both relieved. Still, jobs can be stressful, especially when you're faced with a learning curve. His new position requires him to learn a whole new technology--he was in computer hardware support, now he's a technician supporting projector technology. It's all very complicated. Greek to me.
I, too, have been smothered by stress lately. My job at Mothering effectively moot, I am in limbo. Where do I put my energy? What do I focus on and build? I am slowly letting go of the job I wanted...I think I still want it but it's been so long that I have to move on, emotionally. I need to at least start considering other options. Plan B. For nearly 5 years I have freelanced as a graphic designer, writer, editor, and photographer, and I am still pursuing jobs. But do I throw myself into this and market my services on a wider scale? Do I want to be taking in a lot more contract work, pursuing invoices, writing contracts, dealing with vendors? Whereas the flexibility of running my own business is wonderful, and empowering, it's also tiring. To bring my business to the next level I really need to spend a lot of time on it now, and that won't pay off right away. There's something so attractive about getting a regular paycheck...ditto going to work rather than planting my butt on the couch (where I am now). I won't even go into the long story that is my "home office."
Other ideas have been floating around in my brain. I need something solid to latch onto, some sort of plan that offers a bit more hope and possibility.
A few months back I entertained the idea of going into business with my sister. We looked into buying an established babywear business. We both have good connections for this market and we work well together. She lives in Seattle, I'm here in Santa Fe. It all made sense....until we realized that we would likely take the business and redesign it from the ground up. We toyed with the idea of starting something from scratch, came up with a name, a look, and product. Then, she realized that her focus needs to be on school. I balked at the fact that I don't have a designated place in my house, right now, to run a business that requires stocking inventory. The idea drifted away. We both still want to pursue it at some point, but that "some point" is so nebulous now. Today, it came up again for me. Perhaps I need to pursue it on my own. Scale it back a little from the original plan...offer two product lines rather than three. Maybe I need to start small now, draw up a timeline, work on it slowly with no expectation of return for about a year or so.
Alternately, perhaps I should finally bite the bullet and throw myself into school. Obtaining my degree, that speck in the proverbial distance of time, is a goal that I have long wanted to meet. A goal that continues to be elusive. Santa Fe is tough for that--we have no public four-year university here. The closest is in Albuquerque, 60 miles away. I'd hate to commute for school...but maybe I need to consider it. Maybe I could go part-time, take some classes online, work toward it slowly. It IS the most affordable option, after all. I'd prefer to pursue my dream of attending Prescott College as a distance BA student, but I balk at the cost. Really. Maybe I need to consider private college for my MA rather than my BA.
But with a degree....would I teach? Would I start my own business? Would I write books and travel?? What??
Obviously, the choices are still not clear enough. Hopefully, time will lend that clarity.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

I suck at this....

Last update to my planet: March. It is now July. Conclusion: I suck at this blogging thing.
Inspiration this morning came from my good friend at Stay-at-Home-Mayhem, who also has lots of comments after each of her posts (jealousy rises!!). She is here:

And I...I am here, planted in my seat on the couch, hoping that "Da da da," also known as Spongebob, will keep the kinder happy for a while so I can write something of note here.

For just over a month now I have been living in a gray, emotional limbo. My life is on hold. School ended in May along with my job at Mothering magazine. I was waiting then too--waiting for the chronic migraines that had spiked in March to subside. Waiting for my hip surgery, scheduled for June 7th but entirely up in the air because my surgeon's first baby was also due that day. Now, from my July 8th vantage point, I look back and can see this whole year as being one of waiting and hoping that something will open up. That my career will take a mega leap, that Graysen will talk and use the new blue potty that is taking up so much real estate in the bathroom (which as of this moment has just been a repository for farts).

I took a chance in the beginning of June and enrolled Graysen in preschool two days a week. I did this so I could regain a touch of sanity, and maybe get some work done. What I didn't anticipate was that there would be no work. Or, should I say, not much work. As I suspected over a year ago, there wasn't another book project following on the heels of the one I worked on for Mothering. My title "Book Editor" now seems a cruel joke. Freelancing is hit or miss, and the cash flow from that is always unreliable. I'm still awaiting payment for a project I did over a year ago, and am now considering small claims court.

But what I am really waiting for now is a job that I want with all my heart and soul. It's a full-time communications position with a local private school and I applied for it just days following my surgery (which thankfully DID happen on June 7th). I was hoping to hear something this past week but the phone has been silent. I'm living on pins and needles, have been really cranky as a result, and am simultaneously mad at myself for putting so much of my hope into this one thing.

The waiting continues on this rainy gray Saturday. I am a held breath, hoping not to explode.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Yet another new way to start my day...or I'd rather shout at birds, thanks, than wake up to this....

Six-thirty am, in the electric heat of my bedroom where thin sunlight is smudged out by the dark curtains, I am brusquely awakened by the shock of cold hands on the backs of my bare legs. Graysen.
Coming slowly to awareness I can tell by the temperature of his hands that he has been up for a while. That he apparently snuck out of bed at some unknown point in time, leaving me to (finally) sleep soundly.
At the next level of awareness I sense that his hands are slightly damp. My first thought-the toilet. This makes me leap up, eyes still glued with sleep. Graysen loves water, and has no qualms about exploring that ever-present ceramic pool.
But then I notice he's holding something and shaking it lightly, and my concern about toilet water dissolves. I wrest a small white bottle away from him and feel my heart sink.
It's Soren's bottle of Singulair, and it's empty.
First, I fish around in his mouth. This offends him greatly, especially when I extract the soggy remnants of at least three pills. Then I scope out Soren's nightstand, and find a curious glass of thick pink goop. Being still half asleep I wonder if Soren concocted some strange drink in the wee hours of the morning. But then I notice that the floor is wet, and there is a small pile of partially dissolved pills on both the nightstand and mushed into the carpet. Beside the nightstand, Soren sleeps, unaware of what went down (literally) inches from his head.
"Soren," I say, shaking him gently. He stirs, tries to open his eyes. Fails.
"Sobie, wake up. I need to know how many Singulairs you had left."
"Uhhh..." he tries again to open his eyes. Succeeds. "I think a lot," he finally says, then succumbs to the gravitational pull of his pillow. I scoop up the soggy pills, grab the glass and pill bottle, and head in to do what must be done.
I have called Poison Control a handful of times. When Mirabai was two she licked some damp paint off a silkscreen. Fortunately, the paint proved to be non-toxic. Since that time I've called about ingested vitamins, Tylenol (as a formerly certified EMT that one really scared me!), toothpaste, and now this. Allergy pills.
The woman on the other end of the line when I call Poison Control sounds like she's short and has gray hair. I explain twice that I was sleeping when Graysen did this, and then wondered if that made it sound like I was a bad mother. I flashed on all the other things Graysen has done before-climbed up on the hearth and pulled all the ashes out of the fireplace...floated my mother's glass fishing floats in the toilet...dunked bread and then climbed INTO the toilet, with his shoes on...spilled a huge bag of M&Ms in the girl's room and then proceeded to eat a few handfuls of them before I caught up with his antics....
I began to wonder if I AM a bad mother.
I didn't dwell there long-what's the point? And I was relieved to find that Singulair is virtually harmless. The woman told me calmly to watch him for signs of excess thirst (this while he nursed-his fave activity) and note any signs of "hyperactivity." "Yeah," said I, "you're pretty much describing how my son behaves on a normal day."

So I proceeded to watch him a bit more closely. In between my watching (short moments, really, for bathroom breaks and snacks) Gray managed to get into the girls' Sea Monkey aquarium for fun swishing the microscopic "monkeys" in their pink plastic environs, followed closely by the heartrending push of my laptop off the footstool onto the floor. All before noon.

Then, we celebrated his remarkable achievements with some ketchupy hot dog fun followed by a nice long bath. And the afternoon stretched out ahead of us, full of possibility.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Yelling at Wildlife--a new way to start my day

My first interaction of the day is typically with my kids. Graysen and his ten-pound diaper, Chiara and her need for a "honey nut cheerios tasty and sweet" fix, Soren and Mirabai and their battles over a. the space heater in the living room OR b. the TV....

But this morning was different. This morning I found myself standing, bleary-eyed, on the front patio yelling at a giant flicker.

I had a wicked migraine yesterday, which made me feel completely flayed last night. I was here, in the dark quiet house, fire blazing, Graysen asleep as of 6:30 (and he slept through!!!). And I could barely function, my head hurt so much. I went to bed around 9:30 feeling dizzy, shaky, totally spaced out, exhausted. After a night of fitful dreams that had a lot to do with winning (or not, as the case was) a very large house, I was awoken to the sound of something pounding on metal at regular intervals. Rising through the layers of sleep was painful, and I realized I was still under the influence of the migraine aftermath (and it's now early afternoon and I'm functioning only at a very basic level, sadly). I thought at first that I'd dreamed the noise. I tried to open my eyes. I heard it again. Graysen was undisturbed next to me, his legs propped up on mine. He has to be touching me while he sleeps....

Finally, after realizing I hadn't dreamt the metallic din I snuck out of bed, careful not to wake Gray, and found my slippers behind the door. I tried, for reasons relatively unknown to me, to peer up the fireplace first...duh, can't see a thing. Finally, I went outside and looked up into the painfully bright sky.

There, perched on the top of the chimney, was a gorgeous giant flicker. I regarded him. He regarded me. For one fleeting moment I considered my camera back inside. What a shot that would have been! But that moment was intersected by what I actually did: I yelled. "Would you PLEASE GO AWAY?"

And he did.

An hour later, I yelled at a very cute bunny who was very uncutely digging up my daffodil bulbs (stoopid bunny--nobody eats daffodils!).

And that is how things were today....

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Cooking Lessons

I think I could like cooking if I could do it with a glass of wine in one hand and great music piped in to the kitchen. I could do it if I had competent and inspired help in the form of another adult. I think I could actually get creative with food, given time, space, and support. But time is such a rare commodity these days. Due to competition over who of my 3 older kids gets to sit next to me...and my youngest's inclination to want nursing any time I sit down...sitting down to eat is a luxury. Add to that the fact that my husband, Chris, works nights, meaning that dinner is always on my watch alone. So I have to juggle food prep with toddler often underfoot whining at me (or eating potting soil in the corner of the dining room, climbing on the table to play with the candles, removing DVDs from their boxes in the den...) and the three others wandering in now and then for snacks so that, of course, they aren't hungry when dinner is on the table.

Typically, everything is cold by the time the table is set, and I'm ready to throttle someone. I turn into evilmommymonster intercepting my five-year-old with her frequent "just bread, thanks" snacks, and imploring the older children to just please please play with Graysen and set the table! Please!

And on some nights, I am so bombarded with noise and cooking needs and children's requests.... On one of those nights I was about ready to pull my hair out BUT, I got it all together and went to the table, smiling children seated, food still warm (!), and then I looked down to find that someone (Graysen, it turned out) had, unbenownst to me, drawn all over my jeans with blue dry erase marker.

Yes, I was wearing my jeans at the time.

So, I'm not a big fan of cooking. Plus, get a load at the pathetic way I make an overeasy egg.... Yikes!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Another Night of Chaos...

My head feels like it’s buzzing, I have the hiccups and I’m too hot….everything is too bright and noisy. Why does this happen? I hit absolute overwhelm and feel like wringing people’s necks. I can’t formulate a coherent sentence or find the right child’s name in the moment. I’ve been known to direct Mir-So-Gra-CHIARA!” to do something vital, only to find that my words are falling on deaf ears because I stuttered too much at the outset.
My hair keeps falling in my face.
Graysen is nursing and keeps trying to grab my other nipple.
He is into screaming in joy as well as agony. He whines, doesn’t have many words yet.
In the middle of dinner, he dropped a green bean down his diaper. He retrieved it which, of course, involved removing his diaper. I was so hungry I was shaking and so let Gray move on to the next logical action—getting out of his hichair, butt naked, and running into the den.
That was where, of course, he promptly peed and danced in it.

The kids are in bed, Graysen is watching Spongebob (after a screaming fit he threw outside the bedroom door, beyond which Chris is trying to sleep) and things have settled a little. To cool down I went out onto the front porch briefly—the air is warm and full of the scent of rain (oh please!). This is February…the weather is frightening. No snow this winter. As I stood there feeling myself relax I heard them: a chorus of many coyotes harmonize to the moonless sky. The world is all sound and fury….

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Heavy Reading

I love books. To me, they're sensual beings, full of possibility. Remember High Fidelity and Rob's obsession with his record collection? I have a similar attitude toward books (perhaps I should try ordering them autobiographically). There are books piled on a bureau near my closet, hidden away in a cupboard (which makes them even more full of possibility since they're not always visible), on two bookcases in the bedroom, along one wall in our home office, and tucked away in the shed. I even keep books I know I'll never read, including old textbooks.
I no longer carry a bag full of books with me everywhere I go. My kids cured me of that habit, although I did trade the weight of books on my shoulder for that of a child on my hip. But I still have at least one book tucked in my purse or computer bag. Right now, that book is Sula, by Toni Morrison. She writes like a dream and achieves that important and elusive goal of writing--to communicate the ordinary in an extraordinary way.
The picture above is the stack of books, Sula included, that is on my reading list for a class I'm taking at the community college. We've already read Winesburg Ohio and Mrs. Dalloway. I'm halfway through Middlesex and it's phenomenal. Anyone who is so inclined to post a list of their favorite books in comments, please do!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Basketball Diary

This is Soren's second year playing on his elementary school basketball team. When he first joined up last year he didn't know much about the game beyond the fact that basketballs are round. I giggled quietly in the bleachers during practice as Soren stood, Ferdinand like, with his hands in his pockets and his eyes on everything but the ball. I watched as he learned to dribble and assimilated the rules. Then, I emphatically leapt out of my seat and cheered his first basket during a game, embarrassing him no end. All the while I encouraged him to play smart, fair, and be kind (lessons that extend far beyond the court, of course). I was thrilled, and admittedly a bit smug, however, when "our team" proceeded to win nearly every game and likely would have won the district title had we had enough players. In the end, due to our player shortage, we had to forfeit a key game and ended up with third overall in the league. We celebrated with a pizza party and each kid received a trophy, medal, and tee. I was beaming, of course, and Soren couldn't stop staring at his trophy.

Since that stellar season I have noticed a change in Soren. He's more coordinated. A bit more focused. Soren learns differently than other kids, and so struggles with how things are taught in public school. He's a kid who can hear a cool fact once and remember it forever...but doesn't always interpret what he reads accurately, in the moment, and his retention is not as lasting when he sees something as opposed to hearing it. I am the opposite, so this has been hard for me to understand. Regardless, basketball helped my drifting son find a bit more solid ground beneath his feet. The result: more confidence and less difficulty with his schoolwork.

I have never really worried about Soren's compassion--he's a deeply empathetic, understanding child (though his sisters might beg to differ). Thus it was no surprise to me to watch Soren show his opponents genuine kindness before, during, and after a game. I can't take all the credit for this...he was hardwired to be compassionate from birth. But I do offer encouragement for understanding how others feel when perspective is lacking, and as Soren is maturing he's beginning to remind me here and there of my own philosophy when my chips are down.

We are now nearing the end of Soren's second season in basketball and it's been a bit more rough this go 'round. The kids have only won 2 games (out of 8, I believe) and I have been bummed right alongside them. But for every loss I remind Soren of the goal--to play well, be fair, and have fun. This is elementary school, after all.

So I was angered and frustrated when I overheard a petty verbal tussle between two audience members at the most recent game. There were kids huffing up and down the court, playing their young hearts out, while to my right a mother and grandmother were rooting against our team whenever they didn't feel they could root FOR theirs. "Miss it, miss it!" I heard them say as one of our more sensitive beginning players toed the free throw line and tried to sink the ball. He missed. He couldn't hear them, granted, but I could, and so could that boy's mother.

To my left, a vociferous father whose son towers over all the other players. This boy is playing for the first time, this year, and is determined and getting better at the game every day. I know this boy's father and, of course, the boy--they're on "our" team. But I was embarrassed by the dad's inappropriate and loud remarks encouraging our team to foul the other players. Of course, it was inevitable that the comments from both parties would be redirected at each other in the form of accusations and put downs...condescension from the dad on "our side" and ugly comments about our children being "dirty players" from "their side."

And I just shook my head, wishing the right words were available. But what can one really say in the face of such hurtful ignorance? I didn't know then and I barely know now. I just looked out at that court full of kids--my own amongst them--and hoped like hell the limitation of these parents didn't seep down to them.

The picture at the beginning of this post was taken last season. That's my boy, the smiling redhead, loving every minute of this game. Looking at him, I can stop worrying...just a bit. He knows what this is all about, and he's having a hell of a good time.


Blog, that is. At the risk of opening myself up to scathing comments (assuming anyone even happens by this little spot in the bigger picture) I have to confess that I have always thought of "blogs" as nothing more than platforms for self-indulgent whiners to showcase their drivel.

There, I said it.

Another thing...I love words. When Soren, who's in fifth grade, brings home his weekly spelling list I have a grand time helping him memorize not only the spelling of such words as "euphemism" and "magnanimous," but I also thrill to the idea that he's learning them. On evenings when he's particularly focused and interested, I share other personal favorites with him: onomatopoeia...fractious (a word commonly applied to 20 month-old Graysen)...bombardier...reticent... somnambulate....and my all-time favorite ever: floccinaucinihilipilification. Running through spelling lists and musing about the language allows me to live vicariously and forget my childhood humiliation when my quest for spelling superiority fell apart on the word "leasable" in sixth grade. Following on the heels of that debacle my spelling brain in middle school must have been playing tag with my math brain (which is always AWOL) and I was eliminated because I couldn't spell "spaghetti." For shame. I recently watched the National Spelling Bee on cable at a local Mexican seafood eatery (the other televised choice: a Spanish variety show featuring something in drag--I think--a mute person in a wrestling mask, and lots of frenetic dancing) and was glad, for the first time in my life, that I hadn't taken my knack for the arrangement of letters further than I did back then. Watching those skinny kids with huge pieces of cardboard strung around their necks trying to speak coherently into the mic about words the likes of which I'd never even love lost there. Really.

But I digress.... considering my interest in words I must say that the other reason I've never "blogged" before (no, Themestream doesn't count. REALLY!) is that the very word BLOG sounds like something you'd extract from a kid's nose. MY kid's nose, in fact. It sounds...yukky.

But then I started reading blogs. Not everyday, mind you, but here and there. Following webboard links, I'd find blogs at the end of profiles, people I didn't know from Adam, or Eve for that matter, sharing their lives with whomever happens to surf on by.


As a writer, I love to read stories.
As a writer, I love to write stories.

So I was tempted to write a blog of my own, but kept thinking "nah...I don't blog...." Then, when I got over my reservation about joining ranks with the blogging for reasons previously stated I ran into the seemingly logical excuse that my life simply isn't interesting enough. With four kids I don't travel much...I don't engage in high-risk activities aside from sometimes driving a smidgen too fast...nobody I know has a terminal illness...nobody is being born (all done, thanks!).... I am also aware that there are people out there, fellow bloggers some of them, who would rather chew on roadkill than read about another Jane Doe's passel of sproglets. So, I figured that until I was faced with something fabulously compelling, I'd just keep a lid on things and go about my days.

But then I realized something. I crave peak experiences but it's really pretty rare that such events define the overall course of life. Life is that ebb and flow that is as interesting as one makes it. And honestly, there's never a dull, boring moment around these parts.

If you're sick of reading motherly dispatches, I can grok that. But if you, like me, wake up every morning to find smallish feet in your face...if you, like me, find that your days are all about other people's mundane details (particularly if those details involve such things as the placement of Hello Kitty hair ornaments, appropriate application of sparkly lip gloss, and toothpaste-tube-squeezing lessons)...if you, like me, have anything whatsoever to do with other people's butt hygiene (or if you ever used to be concerned with this), if you, like me, decided on a passionate whim (or four) to create something so precious that someone once likened this act of creation to choosing to allow your heart to walk around outside of your body for the rest of your life...then I hope you stop by frequently. This is one crazy, fabulous planet!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

flying through life with my hair on fire...i am a planet called mom, with four moons in my orbit. soren, age 11, is my dramatic, gentle boy who lives in his own universe...mirabai, my 9 year-old poet and golden girl...chiara, 5 year-old girl of light and dark, as her name means...and graysen, 20 month-old baby fury with laughing eyes....c'est ma vie.