Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Sunday Service

Here's how Sunday looks in our house. We may not pray, nor go to church, nor subscribe to a set religious dogma. But we hold Truths and we praise the universe for our blessings, and on Sundays we make a cozy house with remnants of crafts long abandoned littering the floor and blocks spilled in every room and marker on our hands and faces. It's not religion in it's strictest (or loosest, even) sense, but it is that thing which gives us meaning and centers us and helps us make the Right Decisions and act with Morals and Character. It's this happy home with these loud and wild kids, the time to chill out on the stairs for her, the reminder of 'nice hands' for him, the fighting and the fitting and the kisses that always follow. It's all of this that reminds us that the universe is beautiful and ever-expanding and that in life we can be rewarded for our good deeds with sweetness beyond our wildest imaginations.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

My Babies.

They're in a sweet spot right now where they battle over toys, dip their blonde heads together to color on construction paper sitting thigh to thigh on the floor, chase each other around in bare feet, and giggle like co-conspirators.

I'm really in love with being a mom to two kids right now. It leaves me alternating between wanting to leave well enough alone and never have another, and wanting twelve jillion more. But for now, these two little woodland critters keep me plenty entertained.

Post-Script: I know I'm their mama so I am biased, but don't they both have such killer lips??

Thursday, September 23, 2010


I may or may not have driven home from work after a long and tiring 4 days with an open container of lemon frosting in my cupholder, licking frosting straight off my fingers.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Pressure Cooker.

When I am stressed, I bake.

When I am pissed off, I clean the house. Luckily for my husband, and unfortunately for my home, I am not pissed often. You've really got to concentrate on it to get me fired up enough to storm into the kitchen to slam cabinets and scour the sink.

But baking? Baking is my soul food. I love taking tried and true recipes and injecting them with my own touch. Softened butter creamed with brown and white sugars. Sable brown vanilla splashed into a metal mixing bowl. The crack and thump of an egg against milk glass, the yolk solid and bright. Wooden spoons and secret ingredients and the way flour smells, sweet and doughy and fresh.

The silence of mixing and measuring and pouring, or whisking and creaming and folding. Watching textures blend and smooth, adding a pinch of this or a rounded scoop of that. It gives me time to think of everything or nothing, whichever I choose.

I breathe in the sweet smells of treats baking in the oven, open the door to peek in and see if they are done. I slide cookies onto cooling racks, then load them onto a paper plate and fill a big glass with whole milk. I hand them to my husband, feeding him the edge of a cookie that broke off in transition. I know that what I baked will be good. I know that people will eat it, and it will make them smile and all this, somehow, soothes me and takes the hard edges off my stress until all I can think of is whether I might want to add more rolled oats next time and how many cookies is too many on a Tuesday night.

I smile to myself when my husband puts his hand on my shoulder, kisses my cheek, and says, "Thanks for the cookies." It may sound trite, or old fashioned, but knowing I am making something that will fill the tummies of the people I love fills me with happiness.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Summer Simmer

This summer is in simmer mode, with mornings and evenings that tease and taunt and lull us into believing fall is just around the bend. It may be true, but the flip side of that coin is that the bend is really, really long and the summer is really, really hot and I am really, really over it.
I long for cool mornings, coffee in a big mug, windows wide open, fall candles burning. I am nostalgic about Luca's first and second autumns, when I worked at home two days every week and soaked up the sweet early mornings with a slow-rising sun and a giggling baby in jammied feet. I dream of mornings at home, sitting on the just-vacuumed floor, with a load of laundry in the washer and fresh sheets hanging on the line outside, shading the back patio. I wish for kids napping in a cool afternoon, while I sit outside with a laptop and a freshened cup of coffee, working and writing and reading and soaking in the warmth of the sun as the lazy afternoon peaks. I have a hollow spot in my chest, a dull lump in my throat when I think about all the mornings I've missed with my babies, with blueberry pancakes and bananas and little creamy-white puddles of milk pooling from a sippy cup onto the tile. I want to sneak away at 9 am when we all need sweaters, pulling two blonde imps in a red wagon and watching them run and spin and dance with barefeet in the grass. I want to have all the house chores finished by lunchtime so the afternoon stretches out lazy in front of me.

I am trying to find the power of center. The joy in just being, and in just belonging. Here. Now. But it's getting lost in the noise, the hum of bees stealing the nectar of all my flowers and I want to silence the bees. I know they are making sweet honey, raw and wild, but I want them to stop for a moment so I can hear the sound of stillness. Of air. Of weightlessness and the breath of the trees as they reach for the golden afternoon sun.

I jump from stone to stone, worry to worry, and I almost miss my own reflection in the stream. But I have those two little cherubs with their golden hair and their smiling eyes, skipping smooth stones across the surface or sinking a big round rock into the water with a "Plip". I promise myself I will watch as a crest of water rises to swallow the rock, that I will take note of the way neither hard earth nor nebulous water fights the breeching. At the way water rises to envelope stone and surrounds it in an embrace. At the way the rock breaks the surface, then settles without argument exactly where it's placed.

I want to be the flower and the nectar, the honey and the bee. I want my children to have it all. I want to have it all, and then I realize I already do. Somedays, I am the stream. Somedays, the stone. Some mornings I pack a lunch and sling a big blonde baby boy on my left hip, picking my way carefully up a cobblestone walk to leave him in the waiting arms of a woman who loves him like he was her own flesh and not just another paycheck. I commute and commiserate and invent and create and bang my head against proverbial walls and feel powerful or powerless and hate clothes with zippers and buttons and love myself in heels and lipgloss. Other mornings, I languish in laziness, thanking seamstresses of generations past for stretchy pants and shelf-bra tanks and picking untouched blueberry pancakes from a sticky syruped plate for a mid-morning snack, enjoying breezes, yearning for naptimes, wasting a morning on reruns and Big Big World and HGTV, crafting with my girl and cuddling with my boy. It's perfect and it's not. I want what I can't have and I wish and dream about the things I will change and the new adventures I will undertake, someday. When I have more: time, money, motivation, coffee, sleep.

I find a new approach. I remind myself that dreaming big is good, that imagination is critical and aspirations keep the world spinning when energy and motivation are on sabbatical. I remind myself that I can't relive what's been lived, and so I choose just to keep on. To live the happiness and the frustrations. To dream big but keep my feet on the ground and always moving forward.

Right now, though, I am forgiving myself this one wishing-away: the wishing-away of summer. Because after summer comes long cold mornings and earthy candles and footy jammies and holidays and coffee steam and bliss.

Saturday, September 18, 2010


I had a rough day on Friday for reasons I'm not interested in delving into on a blog (you've heard of Dooce and being Dooced, right?) though in the interest of clarity I will share I was not dooced, I just don't want to delve into things that could get me dooced. Let's just say I'd been looking forward to things happening on Friday and my expectations far exceeded my reality. So after work I headed over to my in-laws' house to meet up with my husband and kids and eat dinner, and I was definitely in a funk. Add to my funk the fact I was on day 2 of a cold, which always and without fail makes me more emotional and sensitive, and it was a recipe for a breakdown, but it was a breakdown that had to be put on pause until I was alone.

Except that 'being alone' is hard to come by when you have two kids, and by the time Luca begged to ride home with me and not her daddy, I was wound so tightly I felt like a spring about to burst and shoot across the room.

I decided to treat myself to coffee and chocolate cake from a little coffee shop near our house, so Luca and I stopped and went inside to order. The shop is right off a man-made lake, and usually we go to a restaurant in the same plaza and let Luca and Rohan go see the ducks by the lake. But seeing as how it was almost 8 pm and the only thing by the lake was coffee-drinking chain smokers, when she asked to go see the lake I said no. And then, I said no to that same request approximately 17 more times in the 10 minutes we were in the coffee shop. I kept my cool, loaded her and the drinks in the car, and then fielded no less than 6 requests to hand her the chocolate milk I'd bought her so she could drink it, all answered with a "You may have it when we get home." and by this point I was not even out of the parking lot yet.

And, I lost it. Big, ugly tears started to stream down my face and my congested nose was running and there were tissues in piles and I said to Luca, "Sweetie, mama is having a tough night and needs you to just not talk right now please, ok?"

Being the sweet and sensitive soul she is, Luca replied from the backseat, "Ohhhh, mama. Don't be saaaaad, mama. I'm sorrrrry mama."

I thanked her and continued to cry, trying to focus on the road ahead. I wanted to be alone to break down, but at the same time I was glad for a compassionate soul so near me. She was silent and gave me space to be emotional and sad and a snot-nosed mess.

And then, from the backseat, "Mommy?"

And me, figuring she had something really sweet and endearing to say, "Yes, baby?"

"Um, the booger I just ate tasted like a corn chip. Isn't that crazy?"

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Out of the Closet.

I have serious issues when it comes to closet organization. I can't stand for my husband to put away laundry because he hangs everything facing the wrong way and just shoves stuff wherever there is empty bar space. Drives me nuts. Add to that my failure to ever catch up on laundry, and you get a closet that begs for a closed door at all times.

This weekend I tackled that closet, as well as the armoire in our bedroom, and did some serious organizing/washing/puging/crying. Ok, I didn't really cry, but I did really want to cry when I saw the sheer volume of clothing I can't fit into since having babies.

Here was my system:

~ I took all dirty items, whether we wear them regularly or not (so this includes the random clothes in the back corner behind my shoes which I've not worn for months and I can't be sure whether they ended up their because I wore them and dropped them on the floor, tried them on and they didn't fit, or they fell off a hanger) and put them out by the washer in piles to be washed.

~ I took the clothes that had been sitting in the dryer all week (yeah, I'm one of those people) and hung them.

~ As I went to hang the clean stuff in the closets, I pulled out empty hangers.With my husband's clothes (his is the only closet with NO organization whatsoever), I just threw the clean clothes on a bar for now, but with all others, the clean stuff went where it 'belongs'. In my closet, it's organized like this:
tank tops
shirts (solids together, prints following)

Everything is arranged in ROYGBV style. Rohan's closet is set up similar. In Luca's, it's the same set up, but in each category I have solids first in ROYGBV, then prints for her shirts and dresses.

~ The kids' stuff gets purged pretty regularly, as they try something on and I notice that it's either stained/damaged beyond saving or it doesn't fit anymore. In Luca's closet, most old dresses become shirts when they are too short to be worn alone.

~ In my closet, I then pulled everything off the racks that I was unsure of: Did it fit? Did I like it enough to keep it? I took those items into the bathroom for Operation Reality Check. I hung them all on the shower curtain rod and one-by-one tried them on.

From here, they were sorted further. Items I liked that fit went back into my closet to be put in rotation. Items I liked that were too small went back into a separate area of my closet (I know most people would argue I should toss them or give them away, but a lot of them WILL fit again once I reach my weight loss goals). Items that didn't fit and/or weren't flattering and that I saw no hope for went into the 'sell or donate' pile, which was later sorted further.

My bar in the closet, with only the clothes I know fit and were clean at the time.

Pile of clothes to try on.

Sorting items after trying them on.

My little helper.

Love this tank, don't love my arms and the armpit flap thing...so it went back in the closet to be worn with something over it for now.

Oh look. Another little helper.

~ Last, I went into my husband's closet and organized it much like mine it. He has two smaller bars opposite each other, so one side is casual and one side is work. I sorted them by season and color, and hung his jeans and shorts on a lower bar.

~ As I finished laundry everything was reviewed before it got a home in the closets, and if it was deemed no good, it went immediately into a pile (sell, trash, or give away).

~ At the end of all this, my closets are better organized and easier to nagivate and we have the following to add to the YAWYK challenge:

- 5 pairs of dress pants
- 13 'unmentionables' in good condition (Goodwill takes 'em!)
- 4 PJ bottoms
- 13 of my shirts, 6 of the hubby's
- 4 pairs of men's shorts or casual pants
- 7 sweaters/sweatshirts/hoodies

A full bag of stuff ruined beyond donation, including holey socks and stained shirts. Estimating it's about 50 items.

- 12 of my shirts
- 3 of my dresses
- 4 of my sweaters

At the end of the weekend, I have empty laundry baskets, clean closets to start the week off right, and I even managed to clear some storage space in our closet and the downstairs coat closet as well. We dropped a bag of 52 items at the local Goodwill, and I'm working on reviewing the items I have to see what the gaps in my wardrobe are. Already I know I need/want:

- brown boots
- short sleeved cardigan in white or off-white as well as one in black and one in brown
- shirts in red, green, and brown
- 2 more pairs of jeans
- 2 more pairs of work pants

And, last but not least, here are some 'after' shots of the closet. I didn't take befores, but just imagine that big pile you saw above sitting on the bed, all hung in this little master bedroom closet.

His side of the closet. In that back corner is stuff I want to hold onto for when I hit my goal weight.

It's really sick how much I love a color-coded closet. I predict his side will look like this until the next time he hangs laundry.

His dress shirts.

My tank tops.

The whole closet. The lower bar on the left is Darrick's jeans and shorts. To the right is his work clothes, and straight ahead is all my hanging clothes.

How I felt after two days of closet organization.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

First Kiss.

Luca kissed a boy in preschool today. His name is Maddox, and he's the son of the Vice Principal at the school (her preschool is on the high school campus where Darrick teaches).

I came home from work and she told me she kissed him. I asked why. She said she loves him.

I promptly packed up her shit and sent her to live in a convent. It's better for everyone this way.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


September in most parts of the USA means school starts and fall is here. Summer ends with Labor Day, people pack away the white and break out the sweaters and tights and boots. Boots! But in Arizona it's business as usual, with daytime temperatures well above 100 and people not just wearing white, but wearing shorts and sandals and tank tops on the daily. Who can dream of tights when just strapping my toddler into his car seat in the morning makes me break out in a sweat?

Not I.

We spent the long Labor Day weekend doing nothing, mostly because money is tight until payday this week and it was blazing hot outside. We did venture out to play in the pool at 8 a.m. on Monday, which is kind of sick but was also totally awesome. At 8 a.m. on a holiday Monday, most of the world is still quietly huddled inside trying to sleep in or making a big breakfast to start the day. We, however, had a full pool, breakfast down the hatch 2 hours prior, and a long day stretching before us with many hours of sunshine and hot. So we splashed and we played and we laughed and we (I) took pictures. Both kids really love the water, with Luca actually starting the requests to play in the pool at 6:15 that morning. Luca mostly likes to lay on her tummy and pretend to be a mermaid, hold the hose and spray her brother, or sit in the water and play with toys.

Rohan, on the other hands enjoys being splashed, splashing, and jumping all over the place. He's a natural-born water baby, and I like to think that has something to do with being born a Pisces and born in water, but I can't be sure. Either way, this kid begs for baths. Baths.

When they were done splashing and crashing and soaking up the water, the got into mud. Because, really...what more can you expect from a 18 month old and a 3 year old.

I love watching them play in the pool. It can take me from tired and cranky to laughing my butt off in a matter or minutes. And I love these moments, too:

But now that we're a little over a week into September, I also love how the weather is finally giving us a reprieve. It's still hot hot hot during the day. But when I get home in the evenings and we finish dinner, it's cooled down enough to go for long walks. Tonight we strapped both kids into the wagon and walked to the school by our house so they could play on the playground. Then we put them back in the wagon and took a long walk through the neighborhood, enjoying the last bit of sunshine as the world closed its eyes and midnight blue enveloped our world. It was bliss. And I am so ready for fall!


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