Monday, October 26, 2009

Some Birthday Pictures

Manny's birthday balloon and pumpkin. "Make pumpkin bread Mama?"
Sam and Manny at Julia's for a special father/son breakfast.

Manny's Little Red Wagon Preschool class.
From L to R: Lucy, Drew, Miss Eve, Jordan, Mira, Brevon, Miss Kristen and Manny.

Manny blew out the candle on the first try!

Birthday dinner with the Vances and Kathleen and Charlie. From L to R: Echo, Charlie, Zoe, Sam, Manny and a few locks of dear Max's hair.

Manny had a great birthday. He still says he's two, but lots of us claim to be younger than we are, so I don't fault him. I think age is probably something that's okay to be creative with.
There is a lot going on right now and life is really demanding so I don't feel like writing. I find that happens when things get tougher, but I know there are some of you that check this periodically- some dear friends who are far away and treasured family and I don't want to leave you out of a peek into Manny's big day.
There's a lot that sobers me. The war, health care, the fire at Taproot Theatre, challenges people I love are facing that are grievous and hard and that's just the start. Then there's my own personal limitations that had me exploding glass bottles in the freezer today, flinging poop across the room and joining my kids in a good round of sobbing. BUT we have much to be thankful for (Kathleen's visit was a big one!) and I suppose that includes the mountain of clothes that I have to go iron. I have been avoiding the pile for three months and I think it's now harder to avoid it than to just do it.
Hope you all are well and finding ways to love on the people around you.
And enjoying good coffee or chocolate or whatever your thing is.
Why am I not in Northern Ireland drinking at a pub right now? Somehow that sounds so good. Wish I could meet you Katy!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Manny's Birthday Eve

Almost 3!
A terrible picture of an adorable kid.

Glory before she styled her hair with banana.
Sam is at his board meeting tonight so I got the rare treat of putting Manny to bed. He was laying on the floor and I was straddling him to brush his teeth with his electric Oral B toothbrush and I paused to tell him, "We're going to have to get your hair cut soon. It's getting long!" I stroked his head. "You have nice hair," I said. "It's beautiful, huh?" Manny said. "Yes, it is," I agreed.
Manny, you do have beautiful hair and a beautiful heart and a beautiful bottom that I enjoyed watching as you sailed around on your skuut in your pajamas pants this afternoon. Tomorrow I am giving Manny some fleece sweatpants and waffle knit shirts that we will be referring to as "daytime jammies" in the hopes that I will be able to talk him out of wearing pajamas all day.
I'm off to make some healthy-ish cupcakes for Manny's preschool class. Hard to believe that three years ago tonight Sam and I successfully induced labor with a Clive Owen film, some red wine and a little bit of pressure point massage. Look out for Clive Owen ladies. Or maybe it wasn't him. Maybe it was the heist movie. Or maybe it was Denzel. I guess if you're pregnant, just look out in general, because sooner or later it's going to come out and it might demand a whole lot of jammies, raisins and love. Thank God there's always plenty of those to go around.
Happy Birthday Eve Manny!

Saturday, October 17, 2009


I just had the most ridiculous conversation with the two baristas at my local spot. It’s Saturday afternoon and I am taking a momentary pause from mothering to eat a sandwich and smile at people I often see but don’t know.

The first barista asked me if I have ever seen The Wire. Is that the prison show, I ask. No. It’s a cops versus drug show in Baltimore. It’s awesome , he replies. Then we spend the next five minutes trying to think of the name of the prison show, which incidentally, I have never seen and don’t know anything about. But he’s really trying to help me out and finally when I say, I think there was an O in the title, he says, Oh yeah…that was like 10 years ago.

Wasn’t everything like 10 years ago? I am still trying to get my mind around 10 years ago and 10 minutes ago and all the stuff inbetween. The older I get, the more behind I am in trying to absorb what it means to have experienced all the living, loving, striving, creating, sitting on my hands questioning, screwing up, reconciling, connecting, screwing up more, reconciling more. I think if I live a long life, I may be one of those people that hopelessly has my head in the clouds and makes really asinine comments about someone’s cute little boys who are dressed head to toe in pink.

I have come to believe and have said to a number of friends recently that we are all deluded. Just what we are deluded about varies, depending upon the person. We simply cannot hold it all at once. It is all too startingly painful and beautiful and naked (especially if you are the guy in line who just took off his shirt. Thankfully, no penis sighting. I had three of those in a row back in 2003.)

That’s a neat thing about little kids. They are, almost always, in the present moment. The past is what you ate for breakfast and the future is what you are going to do after lunch. So there is more room to soak up what is now. I like that.

Manny will be three on Tuesday. He is exhibiting so much growth! He is experimenting with conversation and concepts that are coming as such a delightful surprise. Rona has been trying to teach Manny how to deal wth the girls in a more loving manner when they take something he wants or HAVE something he wants (which is all the time). She explained that babies are often easily pleased with new toys, so all you have to do is provide a distraction and, most of the time, you can have what you want.

I had been working on the laundry and came downstairs to get caught up on what they had talked through. As Rona was finishing her update, Manny shouted, “DISTRACTION!” at the top of his lungs while he yanked the toy out of Elena’s hands. If nothing else, I think it is probably the longest word he has ever said.

Elena wants to climb on everything, including me. Last night while I was getting the girls ready for bed, I laid down on the floor to read to them. I told Elena to go get a book. Back and forth, she toddled, bringing me six books, one at a time. I began to read, but kept getting stuck because the only suitable place to sit that Elena could find was my face. She would sit patiently, waiting for me to continue. I would ask her through her diapered bottom, which absorbs quite a bit of sound, to find another place to sit so I could see the words. She got up, walked in a circle and sat down on my face again. We went through this about four times, before we skipped the story and went straight to bed.

Glory loves to talk on the phone to Sam. Yesterday, I called him and handed her the phone. She immediately said, “Hi Da!” I have a lot of things floating through my head that every time I try to write, strike me as a bit self-indulgent and very “little” picture, as opposed to big picture. So I guess the best thing I’ve got before I head home, and it’s pretty good, is “Hi Da!” Pure. Precocious. Pretty cute.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Threat Level Downgraded to Orange. Thanks Zip Ties!

Things are getting tougher around here. The way I can tell is that I am doing unusual things like getting out of the car to go inside the house, but the car is still running, and then today I took a stack of recipes to Manny's preschool and left them in his folder for the teachers and then spent an hour looking for them at home. Boy was I surprised to find them when I picked him up. I am glad I got them back before Miss Eve discovered them. The children baked pretzels on Tuesday and I wouldn't want her to think I was criticizing the simplicity of her choice by leaving her recipes for Orange Pan-Glazed Tofu and Sun-Dried Tomato Cottage Cheese Muffins.

Last night, Sam and I shot another bullet into the chest of minimalism by putting up loads more plastic sheeting and zip ties all over our main floor railings (which are a big feature, in case you haven't seen our house). Not since the eight panel plastic monstrosity baby corral I bought (and have hardly used) has there been such ugly childproofing. Now the minimalism resides in our living room furniture, which we keep evacuating to other crevices of the house because the children can turn absolutely anything into a lethal danger. It is a talent of rare proportions. Our living room would look empty if it weren't for the giant cardboard box and the loads of toys I never get around to picking up. It makes me laugh to think about the goal I had to relegate toys to one area of the house so that the living room would always look ready for company. And it does. Toddler company.

We went to our last Queen Anne Farmers Market of the year today. It was chilly, blustery and on the edge of really raining. We visited all our favorite vendors and I was thrilled to see that even on the first day of October, they had raspberries. Golden ones. Like little jewels mushed in the hands of babes.

Sarah at the fruit stand gave Manny a ripe pluot and he sat on the curb, next to the guy doing his extremely repetitive Dylan-esque banjo thing, and ate every last bit of fruit off the pit. I was glad he was wearing his red jacket so that the juices mingled with his fleece perfectly, leaving no trace of his first whole fruit free-for-all.

After he was done, I bought a mini Butter Toffee Crunch ice cream from the Parfait truck. Holy Moly. I almost turned my back on the kids and ate the whole thing myself. They would have screamed their heads off, but I might not have cared, it was so good. But instead, I was the only who didn't get a last bite. And I was okay with it. This is a clear example of how parenthood makes you a better person.

When we got home, Sam was still on the road and it was time to make dinner. I don't think that people should have to risk their life to make cauliflower, but that's what it felt like with three little people trying to scale the stove and yanking on my legs for the duration. I am amazed that we make it through some of these moments without injury or bursts of insanity. My favorite moment of the haze was when Manny rushed after Glory into the family room, pushed her, came back out to the kitchen, heard Glory crying and then ran back into the family room to say, "It's okay sweetie." Talk about mixed messages.

I was relieved and happy to arrive in the girls' room for bedtime. Elena sauntered over in her diaper to smack me in the head with Goodnight Moon, which is her way of politely asking if I will read her a book. I paused, thinking I should find the comb because her hair looked like a Richard Nixon toupee, but instead we found the comb in the book and said Good Night to it. The girls did their nursing/poking each other in the eye/sticking their fingers in my mouth and laughing thing that they do so well, we read Goodnight Moon again and I made my exit.

The days are so full of joy, laughter, snuggling and peril. Glory almost got hurt so many times today. I took the girls to the community center open gym and Glory loves to ride in this Fred Flintstone like car that has a handle for the parent to push. I thought I was so clever that I could push Glory and keep an eye on Elena until I realized that Glory had slipped under the steering wheel of the car and was trapped, about to be run over by her doting parent. Coming home from the farmer's market, all bundled in her new winter coat, I only buckled the top part of her stroller straps. I realized not a moment too soon that she had slid underneath the buckle and half of her body was hanging off the stroller. Last week on the way home from the Farmers Market, Manny fell out of the stroller. And he still greeted me with a huge leg squeeze when I picked him up from preschool today.

That is grace.

I think I'm going to go eat some chocolate chips. That is grace too.