Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer of Dad

Next week, Darrick returns to work to prep for the start of another school year. We made the calls to our daycare provider to let her know what the schedules will be. We're all set for Luca to start preschool, something she is very excited over and I want to cry about. She has to have a BACKPACK. What in the hell is a 3 year old putting in a backpack anyhow? I guess we will find out.

This morning we were all in the kitchen, Luca and Rohan sitting together on the floor eating ice chips from a pink IKEA bowl, Darrick scrambling eggs, and me pouring coffee. I told Luca that Laura (our DCP) was very excited to see her next week. She smiled at me, and said, "But I'm going to SCHOOL, Mama." Like, duh Mom. Darrick replied to her, "You are, but not next week. Next week Daddy has to go back to work and you and Mo are going to play at Laura's." I noticed she looked a little sad which, frankly, was surprising. This is the kid who visited Laura once this summer so Daddy could have a day to relax, and threw such a fit when she had to leave that he refused to let her go back until summer was over. She love, love, loveS Laura and her friends there.

Suddenly, it clicked. The Summer of Dad was about to be over and bygolly she was sad about it! She confirmed that was the case when I asked. Turns out, a summer full of naps together, coloring, crafts, playing at Grammas and the Other Grammas, the ocassional MickeyD's breakfast fun....all coming to a close. I know it's not conventional. I know there are probably people who look down on us for me working all year and my husband staying home with the kids on school breaks. I know it wouldn't work for everyone and heaps upon heaps of dads would rather have a vasectomy with no anesthetic than stay home for even 1 week with their kids. But damn if my husband isn't awesome with it. My kids have fun and learn new things and get lots of quality time with their Daddy. I don't have to stress about daycare costs and transportation, he does much of the grocery shopping and cooking, and it works out so well for us that I look forward with great anticipation to the summer break and the Daddy/Kid time.

I'm not saying it's perfect. He definitely still calls me at 3 pm somedays to start pressuring me to 'sneak out early' because he Has Had Enough of the shenanigans. Some days, I leave to a baby crying and clinging to my leg and come home to a baby, crying and clinging to my leg. Other days, I get home and can't walk through the door without being assaulted by toys littering the expanse of the floor, their little plastic and wooden parts digging into my feet and almost sending me flying. And on most days, I am just plain jealous that my husband gets to sleep later, nap in the big bed with both kids if he likes, snack on raisins and apple slices, and never once maniacally search a huge pile of washed-but-never-hung clothing trying to find something that fits to wear to work while simultaneously wondering how many days in a row he can get away with sandals instead of heels before someone asks him if he needs to either go on Jenny Craig or Paxil.

But this is the first summer since Luca was born that I feel like we have this thing 'down'. We have a routine that works, we have loose expectations of each other (me: will make the coffee in the morning, put the kids to bed at night, and take off a few days here and there. him: will make an honest effort to keep the house from looking like Hiroshima and will grill several times a week) and we have a happy family. So, in honor of the Summer of Dad, a recap of all the things our little sprinkle-butts have done/learned this summer:

- Rohan learned how to jump into the kiddie pool and splash
- Luca learned how to convince her Daddy she needs donuts
- Rohan dropped his morning nap because morning naptime was cramping their 'get out of the house every day or we'll all go crazy' style
- Luca learned how to safely (ish?) jump from the third step down to the floor
- Rohan expanded his vocabulary to include the ever-vital words: "poo poo", "pee pee", "bum", and "BOOBIES!"
- Luca visited Grandpa enough times to discover that soda (!) and jelly beans (!) go well together as a snack
- Rohan found out how to climb onto the couch, then onto the back of the couch, then up the outside of the stairs while holding onto the railing
- Luca learned how to become a Scorpion Hunter, and the joy of doing so with no shirt on just like her Daddy

I laugh about these things now, thinking 'Only under Daddy's watch...' but truth be told, I am so full of pride and awe over my husband and the dad he is to our kids.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


Someone should be napping right now. But he's not. Instead, he is resisting with all he's got.

I love this silly boy.

In Plain Sight.

As part of the YAWYK Challenge I have been tapping into my inspiration to revamp some of our rooms to be less cluttered and more useful in our daily lives. A big one I'm in the midst of tackling? The den/weightroom/office/crap pile. This room is a serious eyesore, which is a shame because it was part of what appealed to us about this house and it's in plain sight.

When you come in the front door, to the right is The Room, and though I was charging my camera battery and didn't get a 'real' Before shot, I have some in-transition shots that pretty much sum it up.

Sigh. Ok. The box springs leaning against the wall to the left foreground was brought over by my mother in law. She just sort of....showed up with it? She thought it would fit in Rohan's crib when we covert it to a toddler bed. Which, given Rohan's personality, won't be happening for awhile. So....there it sits. We have nowhere to store it. You'll also note the weight bench, which was square in front of that big window on the main wall until I convinced Darrick to move it and open up the room more,  and TONS of stuff over to the left. Let us look closer, shall we?

On top of and in front of the desk is stuff that was on the shelves and in the compartments of the bookshelves to the right. Lest you ever doubt how obsessed I am with photos, please note that most of these things are pictures I've developed over the years, albums, and frames. I might have a bit of a problem.

These are the bookshelves everything was taken out of. They are nice and solid, but not the color we like and not really functional for what we want this room to be. They will be sold.

We haven't tackled this side yet...another bookshelf and a small table intended for an entertainment system. Both will be sold, as will the stereo set-up, which works but no longer plays CDs. Speaking of...I think it's well past time for a different CD storage solution.

So, I'll have some numbers to share for the YAWYK tally, as well as After pictures, hopefully by the end of this weekend. I have big plans in my head, but we're doing this on the cheap so they will only come to fruition if I have good luck at the local thrift/consignment stores.

While we were in a frenzy, I also moved the pink play tent that used to live in this room up into Luca's bedroom, and the train table that was in her room into Rohan's. She LOVES the tent in her room so much she is napping in there right now.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Wild Side.

This weekend the kids got in touch with their collective wild side. We packed the mini van with blankets and a suitcase of clothes, a tent, a huge blue tarp, propane and a stove, and 2 coolers of food and drinks. The diaper bag included lots of extra wipes, and each kid had 5 outfits to accomodate dirt and sap and water. Even Ruby, old and with a bum leg, was lifted into the back of the van to come along.

The road to our usual camping destination takes you up through some pretty parts of Arizona. Past dry fields of brush and yellowed grass, then slowly climbing the mountain. We passed hills dotted in cactus, then the cactus spread long arms to the sky and suddenly it was mountains with Saguaro literally marching up and down all sides.

Eventually, you find yourself ensconced in a valley of sorts, and everything starts to get bigger. The cacti. The rocks. The trees. The excitement. The road winds, and the kids whine and before you know it BAM you're in Payson. You'll know it by the McDonald's on the corner. Up another hill, through two more small towns, a  right at FR300, and next thing you know you're in a minivan like a jackass on a road not meant for minivans. It was almost three days we were out there, and not one single time did we see anything resembling a minivan go down that road. Shit, we didn't even see trucks going down there. Instead, our only visitors were those offroad vehicles used by hunters to get to the backwoods. And every time we go there I say the same thing: "This is insanity. I'm NEVER doing this again. Ever! Why can't we camp where normal people do?!?!"

But then: "Oh. Right."

Let us not romanticize the process, though. No camping trip - and I do mean no exceptions here - is complete without at least one tense-voiced spat about some irrelevant or obnoxious nonsense. "What do you mean you didn't bring chips?!?!" or "I don't fucking know which fork in the road we're supposed to take. YOU'RE the one who 'grew up on this mountain every summer' so YOU should know!" or whatever. And so it was with this trip, except that I excused our tensions being high early on because it was 104 when we left the Valley around 9 a.m. and I've been like a pressure cooker waiting to boil lately. And by the time we landed on a spot to set up camp, I found myself offering to set up the tent myself while Darrick prepped us lunch. How very modern of us.

Once we set up camp and ate lunch, as if on cue, a storm came piling over the top of the mountain, cresting in a gray fury of clouds capped with white cotton peaks. I brought the kids into the tent while Darrick decided to sit outside and stand sentinel or some such notion, afraid that the fresh bear and elk poop we'd found mere yards from our tent meant we'd have some visitors. How very nostalgic and old world traditional of us.

The storm was actually fun, other than the fact that its excitment kept Luca from napping. At one point, we three (the kids and I) were joined by Ruby, the family member by far most frightened of thunder, and we snuggled under blankets and giggled. As I sat there soaking it in, thunder tracked across the sky starting as a low rumble to the mountains on the far east and rolling slowly and with increasing volume over the top of us and out, until it dipped over the edge of the rim and disappeared. And like that, the storm was over leaving behind only cooled temperatures and lush wet soil and plants.

That night I didn't sleep well, mostly because I was afraid of all the animal noises I heard. We tried putting Ruby outside the tent to serve as guardian as she's done on trips in the past, but it turns out she's old and highly disinterested in the whole 'standing guard against potential bad guys' gig. So instead I woke at every noise, jabbing Darrick maniacally and shout-whispering "What the fuck was THAT?!?!" After the 47th jab and shout-whisper, I think he stopped even pretending to care. It was like trial by fire though, because after the restlessness of the first night I had a sort of "Eh. So there's a bear nearby and he might kill me. Not much I can do about that." attitude, and I slept soundly all night.

The next morning we ate a breakfast of eggs and fire-torched raisin bread, which really and truly is much more tasty than it sounds. Our quiet little family moment in all its pastoral bliss, however came to a screeching halt when Rohan began to cry. He wanted something...to be picked up most likely?...and we couldn't immediately oblige as I had raw-egg hands and Darrick had fire-tending duties, and the cry soon became hysterical, body-wracking sobs the likes of which echoed off every corner of the meadow and valley where we camped. And then, in response to his cries, a sound unlike any I've heard before.

Howling and yipping, delirious and taunting: wolves. A pack of them, by the sounds of it.

Have you ever heard someone say something chilled them to the bone, and thought "Well what the fuck does that even mean???" I have, and that phrase has always been one I considered to be melodrama bordering on hysterics. Until, that is, A PACK OF WOLVES HOWLED AT MY TODDLER SON AS HE CRIED IN THE MIDDLE OF GODFORSAKEN NOWHERE. Instantly I covered my eggy hands with baby wipes and swooped him up, then pulled Luca to my side, and there we stood next to Darrick, surveying every corner of the land we could see. We saw nothing of course, but that didn't make my heart start beating again anytime sooner. My hands were numb and cold and I couldn't really feel my face. I was terrified. I was protective. I was Mama Bear and no one was going to fuck with my babies.

Later that day we would recount this story in much the same nervous-laughter-filled way you retell your near-death freeway swerve at 85 miles per hour to the passenger who had been victim to your erratic driving and reflexive soccer-mom arm pinning them to their own seat. Laughing, Darrick asked me just what I'd planned to DO if those wolves came for us, and I looked him square in the eyes and said, without pretense, "Run for the van and lock us in." Apparently, this answer is funny to the man who carries 200 pound boulders in his bare arms.

In retribution, I totally made fun of him for his '1940s boxer style' with the pants pulled up to almost the nipples. So there, honey. So. There.

A few hours later, we headed back out on that same insane 'road' to Potato Lake nearby, where Darrick fished and the kids played in the shallow water. Darrick caught nothing, but Rohan ate a lot of mud so I'm calling it a success. The kids really loved playing there. It took Rohan about two minutes to get into the water, shoes and diaper and sweats and all, and Luca soon followed suit. "I am so happy," she told me earnestly, "that I wore my Zoe panties. Zoe is nice to me on TV and I think she would like to play in the water."

After the lake we ended up having to drive into the town of Strawberry for a new car battery since the car almost wouldn't turn over and the nearest campsite to where we were was two miles away. We didn't want to be stranded out there with The Pack, after all. In Strawberry we had homemade ice cream cones and met Ralph the mechanic and his female assistant Terry.

The rest of the weekend involved much sitting around on my part, cooking on Darrick's, and begging to tend to the fire on Luca's. Rohan had an awesome time on his first trip and was a trooper all the way through. As we tore down camp on Sunday morning, Luca was already talking about "Next time we go camping..." and filling in the details with her wishes. As for me, I returned to work today a bit sunkissed but refreshed and no longer on the verge of breakdown.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


On Tuesday, Darrick called me about 3:45 to see when I was planning to come home from work. He does this about 3 times a week most weeks so really I didn't think much of it. Until he explained that he'd taken a nap in our bed and let Luca sleep in there, and he was awoken to her crying and puking Exorcist style all over the sheets. Sheets, incidentally, that had JUST been washed and put on the night prior.

Once he ran her to the tub and stripped her down for a bath, he realized Rohan was sobbing hysterically in his crib. He went in to get him, only to find his diaper and pants off. His poppy diaper and pants, I should say. So into the tub he went as well. So you can see why he was in a rush to get me home, and also why I was not really feeling the urgency myself.

The rest of the night consisted of her trying to drink water. Then puking. The asking for juice. And puking. And then there was the strawberry popsicle. And red puke. And goldfish crackers. And yellow puke. And finally, she whimpered for me to sit by her, and she leaned over on my lap and fell asleep.

Did you know that there is nothing in the world more soul crushingly bitersweet than the way your three year old looks, her hair all golden and curled into ringlets from sweat, sleeping on your lap? I swear sometimes I look at her and think I can't believe I made her. I let her sleep on the couch for awhile, and when I finally lifted her in my arms to carry her up to bed, she smiled at me through her sleep and fever and said, "I love you Mompy*."


Tomorrow morning we're leaving for Rohan's first ever camping trip. My husband wanted to go for 3 nights, but I told him we really need to play it by ear. We have no idea how our kids will do with the wilderness and the sleeping in a tent with all of us together stuff. We used to camp quite frequently before we had kids, and we always swore to ourselves that would not change. Since having Luca, we've been camping exactly once, and she is 3 years old. I can't explain it, but the idea of camping suddenly went from this fun, easy, cool-weather getaway in the pines to some sort of anxiety-inducing drama for me. Something about kids and bugs and wild animals and mountains and campfires...it all adds up to me being a bundle of nerves. I'm embarassed to admit that for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the smug tone I has before having two kids. But in addition to the anxiety, the timing's been rough since both our kids are late spring babies, so when the weather was good for camping we've either had a newborn or I've been really pregnant. I hope this trip is a success!

Luca's stoked, however. We went to Target tonight for a few things, and she came home with a Disney Princess flashlight. She can't wait to go out in the woods and shine it at things. She also can't wait until "We will ALL sleep in the BIG tent together and SNUGGLE!". Mostly, though, she can't wait for the marshmallows. Seriously, can't wait to the point that she dug a tiny hole in the corner of the bag and I busted her with her cheeks stuffed, looking like a little blonde cbipmunk.


Work has been stressful and busy lately, and I'm finding myself feeling like I'm on the edge of losing it. I am happy, on one hand, to feel like a lot is going on and I'm needed and busy and doing important work. Other than my boss, I've been there longest, so all the newer people defer to me a lot and ask me a lot of questions. It's nice to feel needed. It's also nice to have other women (of all ages and with a variety of histories) to talk to about love and marriage and kids and work and politics and relationships. I haven't had that in a long time in my office, and I feel really happy with that. But the long days and limited time with my kids is really wearing at me. I need a few mornings a month to linger over coffee and Sesame Street while checking my emails from home.

And recently? Recently I've decided I deserve that. I used to work from home 2 days a week, but then we lost some staff and it was just my boss and I in the office. So I moved back to being there full time and that was a year ago and in that past year WHOOSH Rohan has become this 5 foot tall walking, taking goofball. And Luca is practically 16, it seems, and it's all going by too fast. And I can't slow time. I try. Over and over I wish for it to slow and for the days when my babies want to fall asleep while I sing to them or call me silly names like Mompy to never ever end. And still, the calendar pages flip and I feel a sadness at it all.

But when I am  home? With my husband and my daughter and my son? Fullness. Perhaps that's why I'm that annoying chick who waxes poetic about the cute thing Luca did and how Rohan is so deliciously adorable, and why I'm the mom who says being a parent is the biggest thing I'll ever do in life but it doesn't feel like work to me. Maybe it's because the moments I do get with them are what I have to savor, and I look at them through rose-colored glasses? Either way, I'm still trying, 3 years into this whole parenthood thing, to find the balance that works for me and my family. And I'm feeling lately like that's going to mean working from home more. Here's hoping the boss agrees.


Tonight we met a friend and her son at Target for coffee and shopping. Her husband works nights as a police officer, and Darrick was at the gym. Her son was due 10 days before Rohan but came a few weeks earlier, and Luca just adores them.

We walked in and the first thing Luca said to her was this: "I think we're gonna hafta get me a baby sister soon." In truth, it's something we talk about a little here and a little there. Before we had any kids, Darrick wanted only one. When we had Luca, he realized he wanted two. After Rohan, he wanted a vasectomy. But 16 months (tomorrow) later, he has finally said he thinks he would like another baby. But a few things stand in our way, primarily a bit of debt we want to pay down before we consider more kids. It was nice, though, to have that conversation and to know that there's possibility down the road. I adore my kids. I love my family how it is and it definitely feels full. But in a great many ways, I always still feel like we have another kid coming our way. Even when I was pregnant with Rohan, I felt like this wouldn't be the last pregnancy nor the last baby for us. Maybe it's wishful thinking since I love pregnancy and birth and babies and kids so much. Maybe it's intuition or the universe talking to me. Hell...maybe it's my biological clock. But I'm not ready to completely close the door on possibility just yet.

I watched Rohan this morning, hopping and running around the house, all big feet and big hands and round belly and fat cheeks. He's got the body of a two year old, and I love it to pieces. I want to scoop him up every spare second and rain kisses on his face and tickle his shoulders to make him erupt in giggles. I still think of him and speak of him like this: "My baby." But in truth, he's closer to 'kid' than he is 'baby', and there is no going back. If we stop with two kids, soon there won't be any babies left in our house.**


* Mompy is my new name, courtesy of Luca who also now calls her brother Romak.


** You'll always be my babies. Even when you're dating boys I don't like or scaring me by wanting to ride a motorcycle or telling me you hate me and I'll never understand. Then, maybe, more than ever will you be mine.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Mondays just sort of suck by their very nature, except that they happen to be the day of the week when both my kids were born. That = Monday's saving grace for me. Otherwise, Monday would be dead to me.

Saturday I came down with a cold, which may explain away at least a smidge of that profuse sweating I did during family photos. By Saturday evening I was 3 glasses deep in Emergen-C (tip: mix it with something like Crystal Lite, lemonade, vodka...to make it more palatable) and looking down the barrel of a cold. In July. When it is 110 out. You know what sucks? Being sick when the outside temperature makes you feel like a chicken in a rotisserie. I went to bed Sunday night feeling like death warmed over to the point of sweating, and then this morning I woke, still sick. With dread in my stomach, I admitted defeat and got up to shower because the last thing you want to do when you have a cold is skip your shower and leave the house smelling like swamp ass (remember: 110 out!) without even realizing you do. I got up at the same time as I heard Rohan crying in his crib, so I said "You get him. I shower." to Darrick in a very me-Jane kind of way, and smiled to myself. Hell, at least if I was sick and getting ready for work, he could play househubby and get the baby, right? That'll learn him!

Twenty minutes later I'm toweling off and notice the house is silent, which must mean my hubby is down making me coffee and feeding the kids. Except. He's not. Instead, I swing open the bathroom door and there, in my bed with fresh sheets from last night, piled into the coziest cuddle puddle I've ever seen, were Darrick, Luca, and Rohan. Snoozing. Woozy-snoozing. Not Gonna Get Up Today style. Zizz Zizz Zuzz.

To say I was bitterly jealous to the core might be an understatement.

The rest of the day went something like that. In short, I went to a presentation where there was no a/c on and the room was packed with 25 seniors (in age, not school) who all spoke Spanish. Then I returned to my office where the a/c was not working (noticing a theme here) and continued to sweat. There was some swamp ass happening, I am sure, except that I couldn't smell myself so I just had to go on blind faith and light a vanilla scented candle and use good smelling lotion. Precutionary measures, really. Like the courtesy flush of the B.O. variety.

But then tonight after dinner, we sliced a fat circle of watermelon and shared it, sitting on the floor, 3 out of 4 of us shirtless. Then we wrestled and giggled until the rims of Rohan's eyes reddened and he began to rub them with fat little fists. My boy let me snuggle and nuzzle him before putting him in his crib (where he fell asleep on his own, thank goodness, meaning the sleep-resisting streak seems to be over!!!), and then Luca and Darrick and I read some books together. We worked on learning letters some, talking about how 'O' is just a circle, but 'e' is half a circle with a tail of sorts, and then 'T' is a tall man with a hat and 'S' is slithering like a snake. Eventually this got us to a place where she recognized all 4 letters together and we read the word 'toes'. It was awesome.

After the book, we went up to bed, and she brushed her teeth while I sang her Twinkle Twinkle and Rockabye Baby (her requests). When she had trouble squeezing out her pink princess toothpaste, I offered to help. "No thank you, SIR!" she giggled, and then we were both laughing, and then she went to bed.

My cold? It feels almost gone. My day? It definitely could have been more awesome, but it also could have been much worse.

Tomorrow's Tuesday. Not a day on which either of my babies was born, but a fine (hot) day I'm sure. I think I might just go steal a certain princess lover from her bed for a cuddle puddle right now.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Baby Clothes.

I went through a basket of baby clothes that's been staring at me from by the coat closet for...um...weeks?...today. I divided things into a few piles:

1. Trash: stuff stained, torn, or too worn to even donate
2. Boy clothes: donating to our neighbor who is 19, living at home, and due any time now with her first baby, a son.
3. Girl clothes, sizes 2T+: for Luca's BFF Madison
4. Girl clothes for Vivienne (Luca's cousin, born in May)
5. Girl clothes for Jules (Luca's other cousin, born in February)
6. Donate: Stuff that just plain isn't cute enough to pass onto family or friends, but is still in good shape

All told, we ended up with:

6 items to trash
31 boy items to donate
8 2T+ girl items for Madison
70 girl items for the cousins
6 items to donate

I also found another small stash of maternity clothes to pass onto a friend hoping to get pregnant soon, so that was 12 more items.

Big weekend for YAWYK! Coincidentally, Tabitha has a post today on YAWYK's blog about deciding which items you should hold onto for the 'just in case' baby pile. I have to say I agree with her list, except that I think after baby #1 is a good time to weed out the things you found totally useless the first time around. I wish we'd done that sooner with our glider and ottoman, which ended up just taking up space for months on end. Lesson learned: if it's something baby #1 didn't like but baby #2 may like, go ahead and hang onto the big ticket items. But if it's something YOU didn't like the first time, chances are you won't like it the second time either. Same goes for clothes you didn't like on baby, maternity items you never wanted to wear because the fit was funny or they itched or whatever, etc.

Flower Jingas.

I have no idea what a 'jinga' is, other than it's what Luca asked me to help her make. So 'flower jingas' it was, and it was a lot of fun sitting down with my little girl to make these. She prefers to cut her paper with her 'cutter scissors' but I prefer to leave mine uncut. She sorted the flower foam shapes in categories (flowers, circles, smileys, and curls) and helped me choose the combinations for the large green 'jinga'. The blue one is hers and hers alone:

I really love seeing this creative side of Luca coming out more and more!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Books and Butterflies.

We paid a visit to Bookman's tonight, a local resale store for books, movies, music, games, and some home decor items. I took in a bin of old books, including a few text books from college, as well as a few home decor 'trinkets'. In total, they bought:

2 text books
2 Jodi Picoult novels
1 children's book
1 vase
1 picture frame holder

The other books they didn't buy could have been left there for donation to a prison library, but if the library didn't take them, they would have just been recycled. So we decided to take them with us and donate them to our local library.

We also tossed out two paper butterflies that have been hanging above our TV, which is now placed where the changing table used to be when we first moved in the house. Yup - they had been there for over 3 years! They had a thin film of dust on them but Luca was still sad to see them go.

We also threw out a bag of old balloons from some party long-over, an old plastic table cloth, and a pair of broken flip flops.

Last, we cancelled 3 of our paper bills and set them up for automatic payments, which will save paper that ends up sitting on our counter and then put in a pile somewhere. It also saves me from my bad memory for dates, since now I don't need to remember to pay those bills!

I feel like my YAWYK efforts are slow-going, but I'm happy to be making progress!

Studio Shots.

Darrick's mom really, really wanted a big family picture, so she reserved the date and time 4 weeks in advance so everyone could take time off and be there. The boys, in collared shirts with long sleeves and ties. The girls, in cute tops and heels and lip gloss. The kids, even in a tie (his) and a new dress (hers), looking quite Baby Gap.

And this, my friends, is the list that results from this experience. We're calling this list "Why You Should't Rely on a Department Store Portrait Studio":

1. Because one of you will wear jeans since all your 'nice' pants are not clean, and the 'photographer' won't think to crop them out or put that person in back.

2. Because the studio will actually be one small room the size of my kitchen with, apparently, no air conditioning. And it will be 105 and humid outside....and feel the same inside.

3. Because your kids? They look adorable, but they really, really are not amused by said small, hot room.

4. Because portrait studios don't Photoshop out the sweat beads on your forehead or the drool on your 15 month old's button-down.

5. Because the so-called photographer will fumble with the DLSR she is using, taking 1 shot per pose and never saying 'cheese' or '1, 2, 3' or even 'look this way, assholes' in order to ensure that 8 adults, 2 toddlers, and 1 newborn are all looking toward the camera when the shutter releases.

6. Because after you sweat through 30 minutes of pictures and change into the 'just for fun, we only need 1 or 2 shots in these clothes' clothes, so-called photographers boss will come in and inform you the flash has not worked and all the sweat and smiles and juggling sleepy kids was for naught.

7. Because your Mother-In-Law, bless her, will refrain from beating the SCP about the neck and head with  a mini chaise lounge designed for kids, and instead will say, "Just take as many as you can get in these outfits." And so your formal family picture will end up being a group shot of 8 adults, 2 toddlers, and 1 newborn in jeans and tie-dye.

I promise, if I get a digital copy of these pictures I am going to share. Because, really, it's too mind-bogglingly ridiculous not to.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Hold It Near, As It Were Your Own.

if my words did glow
with the gold of sunshine
and my tunes
were played
on the harp, unstrung
would you hear my voice
come through the music
would you hold it near
as it were your own

Bare feet on the carpet in his bedroom, I hold him up with my arms and my words as I sing this to him.

ripple in still water
when there is no pebble tossed
nor wind to blow

For three nights now, this has been our routine. A hesitant one, at first, as it feels foreign to me. On the first night, I assumed it a fluke. Not since he was a small baby has Rohan wanted to be held and rocked into dreams. Many hours were spent on my beloved yoga ball, bouncing and shushing and cuddling and kissing fat little fingers when he was a newborn. But then he got a little older, learned how to roll, and decided he didn't want to be rocked or shushed; he wanted to be put down with his Bop and his blankie and left alone to fall blissfully to sleep.

there is a road
no simple highway
between the dawn and the dark of night
and if you go
no one may follow
that path is for
your steps alone

And so this has been our routine. Diaper. Jammies. Milk. Kiss. Cuddle. Blankie. Bed. Door. And then sweet silence of slumber until morning time. He hasn't been into co-sleeping since he learned to roll over. He does things his way. He leads us, and not the other way around.

you who choose to lead must follow
but if you fall, you fall alone

I haven't figured out what's going on, but the past three nights the 'put in crib and shut the door' routine has been loudly protested. Not just a whine and a moan, but a screeching cry. And when I open the door and go back in (which I always do - we're not a cry it out household), his little face is red and soaked in hot tears, and he reaches for me and says "Up?" The few times I've tried to just give him his Bop back and encourage him to lay back down, he stands in the crib and reaches over the railing, buries his head into my belly and wraps his arms tight around me.

if you should stand, then who's to guide you
if i knew the way, i would take you home

I lift him, all 28 pounds of clammy-skinned boy, into my arms. He wraps his legs around me, buries his head into my shoulder so that I can burrow my face into his soft blonde hair, and he grabs at me with his strong little hands. As I begin to dance with him, he taps his fingers lightly on the back of my arm; we create our own rhythm together up there, the sounds of Darrick and Luca reading bedtime books climbing up the stairs.
reach out your hand
if your cup be empty
if your cup is full, may it be again
And there we dance, just the two of us enraptured with each other. I sing the first song that comes to me, soft and light, and it's always this one. For some reason, it's the one that comes to me as I dance with my son, and it's the song that sends him into dreams the fastest. I feel his body as it grows heavier, pulled to the earth with sleep. His fingers stop tapping and his arms sink to his sides, and I put him down gently in his crib. Never wishing this new routine away. Not even for a moment. How could I, when his body is so warm and his hair is so soft and his smell intoxicates me in a way only a mom could understand?
it's a hand me down
the thoughts are broken
perhaps they're better left unsung
i don't know
don't really care
let there be songs
to fill the air

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Road.

For work I often travel within Arizona. Today I kicked off the short work week with a road trip to Green Valley, a small town between Tucson and Nogales in southern Arizona. Despite the fact I was 15 minutes late after driving 18 miles one way in the wrong direction and the fact I was greeted by 12 surly seniors, I kind of enjoyed the road trip. I'm a native in Arizona and yet there are many parts of the state I've never seen, so I actually like getting to see new cities and towns. On top of that, I know a lot of people think that as a working parent I get a lot of 'alone' or 'me' time, but that's just not true. My 'alone' time is in the car during rush hour, and my 'me' time is after everyone else is in bed. It doesn't add up to much when you figure I'm up at 5:30 every morning, home about 5:30 in the evening, and pretty much every second up to 8:30 or 9:00 when Luca goes to bed is consumed by work, returning phone calls, dealing with traffic, and family stuff. I love it - don't get me wrong - but these day trips for work are really an escape for me. I can stop for coffee in the morning, eat lunch at some place I've never been before, listen to anything I want on the radio, talk to myself, stop for an ice cream cone on the way home. I have even been known to stop on my way home to check out a neighborhood in an unfamiliar city or shop for something for myself that I haven't had the time or energy to shop for prior.

In short, even if I'm driving to an armpit town in nowhere-ville to speak to 12 semi-catatonic geriatrics, I enjoy the freedom.


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