Sunday, May 31, 2009

In this moment:: weekend three

In this moment::

I am:: loving the fact that Lizzie's idea of a good time is carting around the laundry for me.

I am:: having so much fun watching Noah play soccer, more for his natural celebration of teamwork than anything else.

I am:: moved to tears when watching Max nap-- on the couch or my bed or the floor or where ever else his four-year old body gives out-- as I see glimpses of his baby days and his growing kid-ness all woven in the threads of his blankie.

I am:: thinking this through the lens of our anniversary.

As the years pass, I am coming to understand that we celebrate more than our commitment to each other when we remember our wedding day. We are remembering to be joyful in the little things. I know just how much milk to put in his coffee. He understands the look on my face that says I need a break (now). We can look at our three children, humbled, knowing. Yes, an anniversary is not really about a wedding at all, because that piece of paper means nothing compared to the choices we've made everyday since. To plan. To get off track. To forgive. To love. To grow, each day, together.

(and grow with such maturity too)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Just maybe, the meaning of life

Two nights ago, I saw the most beautiful sky sweeping across our town's little harbor. Walking our two dogs at 8:30 p.m., I stood on the bluff and paused, feeling revrant and awed as I watched a thick line of fog move in to cover the land across the bay, giving the illusion of a canvas with wet colors or a bowl of melting pink and orange and creamy grey ice cream or, I don't know, something mythical, something unreal. As the dogs pulled me down the hill, I knew the gravity they were contending with was not a vertical pull, but a horizontal one. Whereas the rich rows of lilacs edging up from the hillside were slowing me down, the call of the lake, nearby, not frozen and yet so still, was driving my Teton and Dakota into a near-frenzy. We moved swiftly toward the shoreline, and when we got there, I was stopped in my tracks. By beauty.

Have you ever been stopped in your tracks by beauty? I kicked myself for not having my camera, but in that rare and fleeting timeframe to get outside-- without small children, without a to-do list-- I left without thinking.

And maybe that's okay.

I needed to see this horizon, vast and full, and not through a view finder. If you close your eyes and picture a shawl, made from the most wispy tangerine-colored yarn, spreading across a pale blue sky, reflecting in a pale blue lake-- that is what I was seeing. A sliver of a moon was shining through, and as the wall of fog softened, it dipped into the water, stretched up like a dance. It was 49-degrees. I inhaled, taking deep and slow bouts of cool evening air, silent and absorbed in each breath,

because it carried
the lake, the sky, the sounds of waves of birds, of breeze
into, out of my body.

By the way, that painting, which feels a lot like that night, was created by this artist, whom I am lucky enough to know and admire.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

In this Moment:: weekend two.

In this moment::

I am:: wearing my first hand sewn skirt. And I'm so very happy about it.

I am:: falling in love with the book A Homemade Life, with its rich recipes and sweet prose. And I'm so very happy about that too, especially after just finishing the book Infidel, which disturbed and challenged my thinking in more ways than one.

I am:: still sighing over Max's words this morning, "Mama, you make the best pillow."

I am:: still grinning about Noah's exclamaition last night "Mom, I totally love your laugh."

I am:: feeling in tune with my choice to stay home, raise a family, grow our life; looking forward to planting our garden and later, washing dirt from small fingers; wondering how to be an activist without actively over-committing; thinking it is a luxury to wonder such things; wanting to write a poem after reading these words:
"When I grow weary
of the ceaseless prattle
of my brain-sealed
mind-talk, the inner
play-by-play man/
color commentator who
never lets the action
speak for itself, I

split off, stand away,
become the benign,
vigilant watcher
of the entity named"
which is part of a poem by this writer, one of my favorites, and also, my friend.

I am:: learning to be okay with-- no, that's not quite right-- learning to celebrate the me that I am, inconsistent, full of conviction, always scattered and sometimes just. simple.

Happy weekend.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


There are a lot of big milestones happening around here lately. Noah, at 10, has now stayed home alone while I ran to pick us up our favorite milkshakes from downtown. It was a whole seven minutes and 28 seconds, not that I was counting (deep sigh of relief). Max is actually opting to sleep in his "big boy bed" (as in, the futon mattress on the floor of our room) instead of hurling himself headlong into our bed when he wakes in the middle of the night. Lizzie's vocabulary is steadily increasing and she's slowly moving toward more food, less milk in her daily diet.

But there are the small milestones too, the ones that slip by unnoticed if we aren't paying attention. I found myself privy to one of these moments last night, as the kids and I headed out back for a pre-bedtime walk in the woods.

When we hit the tall grasses of the field, Lizzie normally squawks and throws her arms up in that "Mama-carry-me-right-now!" kind of way. Which I do. The entire time we are out walking. Occasionally, she'll let me set her down, so long as I hold her hand. Tightly.

As the dusk light gathered around us yesterday, however, something happened: she. let. go. I don't know if the whoops and yells of her brothers, far ahead and in a full-on stick sword battle caught her attention.

Or maybe it was our dogs, circling like she was a lamb that needed herding that distracted her.

Or it might have just been this:

Whatever it was that made it happen, My little girl let go of my hand.

She began to walk away from me-- tentatively at first-- as she reached over and touched everything in sight.

She came back once or twice to steal a hug before venturing off again, a little further...

As for me, I just hung back, watching her go. I took a few breaths, knowing I was seeing her gain a little independence, a little desire to explore the world around her all on her own. High in an old oak, a mourning dove cooed. Its song seemed full of peace and promise, as it carried my girl forward.

*I disappeared for a week (something to do with a dead computer...sigh) but I'm back, and do plan to post here at least twice each week. You can also find me at Cluck and Tweet, where I post crafts and recipes and silly domestic matters every other day (and on my off days, my partner in crime is much funnier than I). I'm also still here at MyNorth, where this month I'm focusing on fun things to do outdoors with the little ones.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Arise, mamas, arise.

"Arise all women who have hearts."
--Julia Ward Howe

Yesterday I woke up to pans banging, loud giggles, and several "sssshhhh's" as three little heads took turns peeping into my bedroom. And from the moment I pulled back the sheets, I was washed over with sweet hugs and words and pampering from my children and their daddy.

There was the traditional breakfast and morning cup made by the boys in the house. There were the marvelous handmade cards.

(yes, that really is us if we were a family rock band. My favorite part? Even as a lead singer in said rock band, I still carry a tote with an apple inside).
There was the quiet moments I got (instead of cleaning or changing diapers or making lunches) to sit and focus on my breath, my gratitude, my blessed life.

There was the time spent together, just playing and being. It was perfect, really. But I must confess: my Mothers Day was all weekend long, and perhaps the stuff that I will carry with me most happened away from my children, on Saturday morning in a yoga studio across the bay.

While the very fact that I was doing restorative yoga without my normal, um, helper

was glorious, the truth is, the morning's power came far more in the reason for the gathering.

For four years now, my good friend Copland and I have been part of the national organization Mothers Acting Up, a mama-led, mama-fed movement that inspires people to act up-- with joy-- on behalf of the world's women and children. Each year, we've put on a Mother's Day event focusing on international initiatives working for the betterment of those who so often do not have a voice of their own. We've opened a village bank in Haiti and put in a PlayPump in Tanzania. Our community of women in a town of 1,500 people has come together in ways we never imagined; a collective uprising rooted in love that is truly making a difference. This year, Copland organized a morning of restorative yoga, tea and conversation as a way to give back to these women, and as a way to kick off our part in the Stand for the World's Children campaign.

The campaign is aiming to reach one million people-- through postcard signings and online petitions-- to Stand for the World's Children by asking elected officials to prioritize so that the world's most vulnerable children are cared for in the following ways: 1) to see President Obama appoint a Children's Ambassador, a person who would report to Secretary of State Clinton and oversee programs and funding dedicated to caring for the children of the world. 2) To see congress fully fund programs benefitting orphans and other vulnerable children on this planet.

Sitting in a circle on the yoga studio floor with this diverse group of women-- conservative and liberal, young and old, mothers and others-- I was able to breathe in the incredible gift of the collective spirit. It gave me hope. It encouraged me to step forward and to open my heart with a compassion that requires action outside my own four walls.

Driving home Saturday morning, I spent my time thinking about these beautiful children:

Caroline, Isaac and Watuma-- sponsored family members-- who live in Kenya and Uganda. I know of the fear their own mother's face; I know they worry about having enough food, about violence and school fees and illnesses that run rampant in the slums of cities like Nairobi. I recognize the innocent and pride of these children, as they learn to draw pictures with English captions like "chicken" or "This is cow."

It is hard to not feel overwhelmed and yet, it is hard to ignore the fact that my blessed life can only truly be honored if I am doing what I can to ensure that all children are cared for, that all children can curl up in their beds at night and fall asleep feeling full and safe and warm.

Mothers Acting Up provides me with the fuel to stand up for these children. I can connect with other women, can share my frustrations and my dreams. Together, we are able to open space in our lives to dig deeper, to uncover the well that is at mothering's soul-- a universal web that binds together anyone who has loved a child as we do. This place within us, the place where the heart and art of mothering lies, shows us an undeniable truth: all the children of the world are our own. All the children of the world need nurturing and love and the protection of someone bigger. It is not our burden, but instead, our gift, to know that we can stand up in their honor.

I encourage you to spend a few moments by your child's bed tonight. Watch the peace of their sleep, the way the rhythm of their breathing becomes your own, the way your body feels like it radiates the most beautiful light as you look upon them. Soak in the gratitude, and then ask yourself, "how can I give this to someone else?"

The answer? It can be as simple as signing a petition.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Doing our own thing, together

If you have been a Blankie Chronicle subscriber in the past, please re-subscribe. Something nasty happened with feedburner, and you've all seemed to disappear from my list. So sorry. And thanks, in advance, for taking the time to re-submit emails or rejoin on your readers.

"It's froggy outside," Max said with a yawn. He was sitting on our couch, looking out toward the valley with his eyes scrunched up, as if he could cut through the gray mist simply by squinting. "Maybe we better stay inside for awhile."

Curtains of fog hung heavy in front of our house yesterday, contrasted only by a darkening sky. Rain was coming. The air smelled of it. My right knee, broken at age eight while jumping on a neighbor's bed, was aching as it does whenever a storm is brewing. With days of warm sun and hours upon hours of outdoor play and exploration behind us, I was content to let the sky open up and begin dumping the first warm showers of the season.

It was a morning of moving slowly. I sipped tea and fussed with my sewing machine. Max stayed on the couch, resting with books and filling his blankie in on any and all adventures "he" may have missed earlier in the week. There was the many bird hikes (and bikes), with swamp discoveries.

There was the noise Lizzie made when she tried out the swing. (A Terodactyl noise. A very loud Terodactyl).

There was the great army battle (more on this another day).

Meanwhile, Elizabeth found her way out the front door. She sat for a long time, waiting for the rain to stop. Or maybe, just soaking in the very sight of water hitting earth, of the damp smells and warm breeze.

And by afternoon, the sun returned, bringing with it new energy to go foraging for leeks,

to play tag,

to work the flower beds,

to curl up on the porch and read the last (sigh) Percy Jackson book.

Everyone found a rhythm to get lost in on their own, but together. The best kind of day.

Happy Weekend. And PS-- come on over to Cluck and Tweet, where we've gone all Typepad fancy. Lots of crafting and cooking and funny business going on there. Really.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Half Full

If you've been visiting this space for awhile, you'll notice the blog has had a bit of a makeover. A little lighter. A little more simple. And a little ditty on the side about how I'm trying to live my life. It's new, and I'm still getting used to it (the ditty, that is) because I'll be honest: I do not come by this whole "choosing joy in every moment" idea naturally. Truth is, I have a tendency to swing into darker places, to stew over little messes, to be stormy and passionate-- sometimes in the not-so-nice ways. My 30 years have been spent swinging in the extremes of emotion. Balance is not a word often used to describe my life.

And that's okay.

Because right now, I am typing while my daughter sleeps on my arm.

She's breathing in a rhythm that makes me realize we are moving toward summer; her inhales and exhales flowing slow and clear, the result of spending an entire day outdoors. It is this baby, along with the two boys breathing in similar candence in their beds a floor above us, that helps me understand the importance of choosing gratitude over anything else.

As a poet, I've always chalked bouts of dark and stormy (or weepy and aimlessness) on my craft. Occupational hazard of sorts. It almost seems attractive-- and certainly has its elements of romance-- to be a creative soul that bleeds emotions in words and sponges the essence of loss as much as love from the world all around. I know. It sounds pretty stupid when I actually type it.

The older I get, the more I realize how brief this time in life really is. I look at my children and find myself totally awed-- when I take the time to slow down and notice-- how quickly they grow and change.

The Noah who woke up this morning was not quite the same Noah whose hair, damp with sweat, I tucked behind freckled ears as he slept tonight. Experiences, moments, discoveries; these things happen to him all day. And he changes.

It is the same with Max and Elizabeth.

Each moment is part of their story. I think I got tired of being caught up in anything and everything that got in the way of the opportunity to watch these stories unfold. And so, I made a decision to choose joy in every moment. And I'm not looking back.

Don't get me wrong: there is very little joy in unclogging the toilet every other day, even when my four-year old is prancing around yelling "I'm the best toilet clogger in the universe!" It isn't easy to feel grateful when my daughter gets up a thousand times a night or when Noah is crying because some bully called him an "A-hole" and he feels like he is swearing by even saying A. Hole. I have plenty of melting moments around 6:45 p.m. (exactly) when the wear-and-tear of the day just feels like too much and I want to pee alone or curl up on the coach or sew or anything besides what I'm doing. My breath gets shorter. My back tenses up and I feel antsy and agitated and unable to settle. And that's okay too-- because it is my body's way of calling me back to the present. Maybe I need to step outside or slide out for a walk. Maybe I need to go grab a book and curl up on the couch and let the dishes wait in the sink. Learning to give myself a break-- this is a big part of living joyfully. In these moments, however, more than anything else, I need to stop and ask one question: am I, despite all the junk, still very blessed? I've never, ever been able to say no. And somehow, I swear, it changes everything.

One glance as photos like these, and I realize, my life is full.

So very full in all the best ways. What are some ways you remind yourself to choose gratitude?

I'm also so very grateful that I'm learning to sew, because now I can whip out fantastic little projects like this sandwhich/snack bag.

You can check out the tutorial on Cluck and Tweet.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

In this moment

In this moment:

I am:: discovering spring again through my daughter's eyes

I am:: filled with gratitude for the little things

I am:: taking each step, one foot at a time.

I found this passage in the Parent's Tao Te Ching the other day and I'm letting the words sink in past my skin, past my mind, past the bones and muscles into that place where an inhale stops and an exhale begins.

"You do not have to make your children
into wonderful people.
You only have to remind them
that they are wonderful people.
If you do this consistently
from the day they are born
they will believe it easily.

You cannot force your will
upon other human beings.
You cannot hurry children
along the road to maturity.
And the only step necessary
on their long journey of life,
is the next small one."

Happy Sunday.

Come visit me here for fun (and funny, at least to us) domestic "stuff".