Sunday, April 13, 2014

one or two stories about my brother mikie

my brother mikie came to town for a few days. when i saw him i started crying.....

i had been thinking about the past. the glorious, madcap, wild adventures of my early twenties. my little brother mikie was a senior in high school and was the star of the spring musical, Godspell. yep, he was jesus.

here's a polaroid from closing night, that's mikie in the striped pants. there are many people i love in this picture.

during that time i became close friends with some of the other godspell kids: jamie, rebecca, mary, and in turn my circle of friendship was blossoming into what it is now. we basically all fell in love with each other. i've written a little about that time when i told the story of my little yellow house.

we hung out all the time that summer. once a large group of us hiked to some natural waterslides at a place we call Quintette. it was a wonderful day but on the way back i got melancholy. i can't exactly remember why, but it had to do with having some regrets and feeling stupid about some things i'd done. getting too drunk, acting the fool, embarrassing myself, whatnot. i'd gone to a dark place earlier that year, right after the break up with a longterm boyfriend. in any case, i was walking with my brother mikie talking about this, and he sang to me a song from godspell: you are the light of the world. he sang me the whole thing but i remember this part best:
"so let your light so shine among men,
let your light so shine.
so that they might know some kindness again.
we all need help to feel fine (let's have some wine!)"

he told me that i was indeed a light in the world, and i believed him. there was so much love surrounding us, and also playfulness and youth and some sweet magic of time and the moon.

i cried thinking about this the other day. because i'm hormonal and i'm a mom now and i know more deeply that hard-earned and perfect light inside each of us.

i might add: it's mikie who is truly a light in the world. it sounds cheesy, but he really is. he has a wild heart; he's playful and lively and loud. but also he's kind and nostalgic and a worrywart. added bonus: he's super smart. and super handsome. 

just say his name out loud: MIKIE. it's fun.

i also thought about the time we hiked mount timpanogos, how he stayed with me toward the top, toward dawn. how we crossed that steep field of shale and he was right there with me, telling me to focus on just one step at a time. i told that whole story  here as well.

how sweet he is, how he worries for my dad when we go camping or hiking together, how he always champions the underdog, the one who needs a little help or encouragement.

when i saw him on wednesday i told him the stories and told him i appreciate him for this; for having so much energy that he freely gives it away when someone needs a boost. i hugged him and cried at breakfast and his beautiful wonderful girlfriend marisa, who understands it all and has a marvelous similarity to mikie in most ways, had tears in her eyes too. it was just one of those moments.

i am blessed beyond belief with this amazing family of mine. sometimes i pinch myself and wonder how i got so lucky with these two precious baby girls. then i remember i was always so in love with family, my heart was right there all along, and somehow this just all makes sense. it's just all growing outward and on, expanding, like light in the world.

for another mikie story, go here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

brave new world

 once you have a baby, bravery takes on a whole new meaning.
double that when you've got two.

it took me a while to get used to going on solo outings with lucy when she was a newborn. i remember the first time i took her to the thrift store, the first time i drove twenty minutes down to trader joes, the first time i took her to target. i also remember lots of stopping, running around the car and getting in the backseat to nurse her, to soothe her, to get her out of her seat for a minute and pace around by a busy boulevard. the blood races, you can feel a paleness take over your worried face. maybe it comes down to the fact that i can't stomach a screaming baby. maybe i'm spoiled because neither of my babies have been mega-cryers, so when they do cry, especially when they scream that gasping/choking scream that tortures a mama's soul, well i just cannot take it.

so embarking on outings with two babies, unpredictability is high, preparation is key, and you must have the energy and wherewithal to face any situation. it might not seem brave exactly, to tackle that kind of situation, but once you go through some of the inevitable challenges that happen while traveling with baby, well, you do feel pretty damn brave to willingly go forth.

i was well aware of this when i decided to venture to north lake tahoe alone with my babes on saturday while darin was at a long day of work. it was our friend doniella's birthday celebration weekend, and they'd rented a big cabin up in the snow. most everyone drove up from san francisco together. my sister decided to pack up little Utah and meet us there as well, coming up the other side of the mountain. i had not really committed to going for sure, but i woke up feeling excited and refreshed, like I CAN DO THIS!

and i did.

you're looking at a couple of brave mamas.

the drive up was two hours. i took it nice and slow. my babies both fell asleep within the first twenty minutes. i had made a mix of lullabyes and slow songs that perfectly accompanied the majestic drive into the mountains. the sierra nevadas are high, snowy, peaks covered in towering pines like wizards communing. highway 50 curves along up into these mountains next to the american river, and sometimes you can see old damage from avalanches and fires.there is a cold bite to the air, so fresh it makes your skin glow, and as i drove i felt on top of the world.

the view from doniella's cabin:

the birthday girl herself, with the most perfect carrot cake she concocted for her own birthday celebration.

this group knows how to party....

...except this year, with the addition of....BABIES.

we weren't the only baby-wielders. amanda and spencer brought their adorable little gal, Chloe, who is only ten days older than polly but already has two teeth, is practically sitting up, has fingers and toes as long as Lucy's, and is communicating like a six-month-old. Polly seemed quite petite and reserved by comparison! 

lucy and utah were so excited to see each other, and set immediately about the very important business of playing.

babies definitely change the dynamic of a social situation. this is another aspect to a mother's bravery. if you want to be in the social world, you risk jarring your adult friends' nerves with the fussiness, constant attention-seeking, and varied demands that a tiny person brings to the room.

we were lucky in that these particular adult friends were super cool about the baby bombardment. not to mention super helpful! 

sara helping lucy get yet another snowball to eat. 

i forgot to bring gloves. her hands were icy, i know they were aching, and yet she refused to leave that snow alone. it was all very confusing for her, and a toddler meltdown was on the horizon.

sara and suzanne are nannies for twin three-year-old boys, so they helped normalize the situation. lucy was losing it quick, and those two gentle ladies never skipped a beat. they just stepped right up and took her under their wings until the difficult part passed and her psychotic toddler moodswings went the other way and she was happy again!

suzanne trying to stave off said-meltdown with a look at the crazy icicles:

lucy really couldn't even handle a nice pull on the baby sled, but utah was definitely game.

back inside the warm cozy cabin, sara took off lucy's wet things and fixed her up a snack of sliced bananas, rosemary crackers, raisins, and a drink of water. complete turnaround. 

my girls getting cozy. on polly's three-month birthday.

two lovely capricorn women getting to know each other, with a spark of recognition. sara says capricorns are born old and get younger. indeed everyone does say that my polly is an old soul. 

the dudes in the hot tub thrilled these babes by throwing snowballs at the sliding glass door. ka-boom!

old friends. OLD friends ;)  i love this woman dearly. was a little later than i hoped once i left (6:30). i was thinking, i could still get home very close to dark. i knew once it got dark the car trip would be a terrible idea. well i drove over highway 89, around the west side of the lake, where there are switchbacks and crazy cliffsides with no railing, and bone-chillingly beautiful vistas off the side of the mountain. lucy was on a high, talking all about the day, and polly fell asleep. we were singing songs and all was going well. then, about a half hour later, as we came through south lake tahoe, polly woke up, assessed the situation, and started crying. at first i hoped she'd go back to sleep, but her crying built and built in a heart-breaking crescendo. we were coming over echo summit and it was already twilight. it was getting bitter cold outside. my hands were white-knuckled on the steering wheel with my sweet baby's piercing screams in my ears. finally i had to pull over. trucks with their headlights already on whizzing past me over the summit. as soon as i went around and opened the door and she saw me, polly smiled right through her terrible tears. that made it even worse, i could tell she just wanted to be with me. but i had to get us home! i nursed her for a minute (she wouldn't really nurse because she wasn't hungry) and shushed her and she calmed but as soon as i started driving again, the crying started again. let's make the rest of this grueling story short, mkay? i limped home, getting five or ten miles until i couldn't bear it again, getting out in the ice cold now completely dark night on the mountain in a mud pull-out and rocking my babe for a minute, while lucy fussed too, and just dying to be home. it was around kyburz that i thought to dig frantically through the diaper bag for a pacifier, and lo and behold, i found one. polly never even takes a pacifier, and when she does she usually doesn't keep it in, but i think she was so desperate that for once she kept sucking! it was suddenly calm and quiet. i begged lucy to keep quiet too, and talked softly over and over again about the things we'd seen and done that day, and made up some story about a green-tutu-wearing fairy, to keep lucy happy. that pacifier kept my poor baby calm for about the last twenty minutes until lucy accidentally knocked it out with a book and she started screaming immediately; then it took two more stops to get us home, with the last one being right up on Broadway about two miles from home. it was absolutely a physical and spiritual relief to pull into our driveway. darin came right out and i don't think i've ever been so glad to see him. he took polly in and told me she seemed dazed. lucy was fine, excited to be home and get into her toys. both girls were visibly glad to be home. almost as glad as this brave, tired mama.

so although i might end this on a note of how worth it it was, and it was, well i will also say it's important for  mamas to learn lessons. and i did. journeys are fine as long as we're home well before twilight. i should've known better; evenings are not good for babies. polly is grown up enough now to not fall asleep any old time or place, and to know her wants, and in the evenings she just wants me. if darin had been driving and i could've sat in the back with her we would have been fine.

so be brave, mama, but be brave within reason.

Thursday, April 3, 2014


hey hey hey my little sack of sugar
ho ho ho my little sack of sweet
hey hey hey my pretty little angel
pretty pretty pretty i could eat your feet.

hey hey hey my little honey bunny
ho ho ho my little turtledove
hee hee hee, my little sack of taters
so pretty pretty pretty i could eat your nose.

here's my girls hanging out with cousin Scout.

Lucy is at an age now where she is in love with music. She wants to hear certain songs over and over. She's been like this for a long time but now she really picks out certain lyrics and even tries to sing along. She loves pop music and the Rio soundtrack, she loves when I sing her songs from my own childhood (Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree ...) and she loves to hear other kids' voices singing classic tunes like Twinkle Twinkle. She points to the floor next to her and tells me to "Dance! Dance!" and has started shouting out moves: "Kick! Kick! Twirl! Twirl!"

Hey hey hey, my tootsie wootsie
wrangle, tangle, dangle and my honey in a tree
Ho ho ho, my butterfly fritter
So pretty pretty pretty I could eat your nose.

We visited Grandma Cherie in Reno. My two girls with my mom and grandma, warms my heart:

So I have been collecting a few CDs of children's music. So far I have the following albums:
Tumble Bee: Laura Veirs
 Catch the Moon : Lisa Loeb and Elizabeth Mitchell
and some preschool songs by the Kiboomers I got from itunes, and a rad mix cd a friend made me when Lucy was born. 

We have been loving all this music and sing along to most of the songs. Lucy's favorites include "Little Red Caboose" and the "Stop and Go" song on the Lisa Loeb album, which has little kids voices shouting out stop, go, dance, reach, etc. She gets really relaxed (Polly does too!) to the song "Prairie Lullaby" on the Laura Veirs album; also "All the Pretty Little Horses."  She loves "Old MacDonald had a Farm" and "Baa Baa Black Sheep." Things with funny sounds, animals, and actions (jumping, monkeys falling off the bed, etc...) thrill her.
And Darin and I love all the Woody Guthrie songs best of all.

bridge, water, fish, wishing well....these have now been topics for weeks. she loves to retell stories of adventures she's had.

running around the park in folsom:

So all you mamas out there, or dads, or grandmas, or friends, aunties, music lovers and babysitters ....
any recommendations for super fun kids music? or nice lullabies? My favorites tend to be indie type singer-songwriters with nice voices and interesting instrumentation. But even some of the classic kids stuff has proven to be really fun, if only to see Lucy respond so energetically. So I would love tips of any kind!

polly and scout: born one month apart, they like to lay casually by each other and act like they've been hanging out a hundred years....

help me keep these cute little beasties entertained!

and don't forget your dancin' shoes.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

wabi sabi dreamin

Hey all! If you get a chance, go check out my guest post on wabi-sabi at Rachel's wonderful blog, Our Buzzards. In case you aren't familiar with Rachel, her blog exudes warmth, humor, beauty and vitality. she writes about her rad family and community, her home and adventures, always with energy and thoughtfulness and a beautiful kind of wholeness.

As for this particular series, she's been looking at wabi-sabi in a few different bloggers' approach to house and home. For me this was a compelling subject as our home is not minimal or contemporary or beautiful in the design aesthetic of the popular blogging world. I pondered what our home means to me, what kind of home I'd like for our forever home one day, and what our messes mean to our family. Darin even brought me home a book on wabi-sabi yesterday that i really wish i'd had as I wrote the post! It is a much more historical, cultural, misunderstood, and mysterious concept than I ever grasped. I will probably write more on it later as I learn more.

Anyway, I'd be honored if you'd read the post and I'd love to hear more your perception of wabi-sabi and what it means in your own households.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

i will be the gladdest thing under the sun

when spring comes, life explodes with poetry.
it's funny, in march and april i love to read edna st.vincent millay, t.s. eliot, the romantics like coleridge and wordsworth and keats, whitman, and some contemporary poets too, like sharon doubiago. i think it harkens back to the year i was studying for my graduate exam, reading feverishly in the midst of a very busy social life. absorbing poetry and literature, then breathing it out through my skin. i've said it before, and it rings true every year:
poetry fills the springtime.

i wish i had a poetry reading group that met every vernal equinox. read poetry together to our hearts' content, if only for that one meticulously balanced day.

we celebrated the beginning of spring with a little picnic in sutter creek. 

Afternoon on a Hill

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.

I will look at cliffs and clouds
With quiet eyes.
Watch the wind bow down the grass,
And the grass rise.

And when the lights begin to show
Up from the town,
I will mark which must be mine,
And then start down.

- Edna St. Vincent Millay