Sunday, November 30, 2008

Homestretch & Promises

Another year of NaBloPoMo is coming to a close. I am thankful to the amazing woman who came up with the idea, and the thousands of others who participate. There is something to be said for a seed that gets a practice going.

All of my life I have struggled with practices: writing, painting, meditation. I need to be in a group of some kind to really do the hard work. In past years, I have tried to put out a promise that I would write more, or better, or at least more earnestly, for you. Every year I have failed.

It seems that parenting is a collection of daily failures; in voice and in action. My attempts, although often sloppy, are genuine. I am so proud of who you are quickly becoming.

When you were a tiny baby, I told you that being a sensitive person is okay. Crying or exhibiting fear--even when it seems exaggerated or unnecessary--is just fine. I want you to feel good about your emotions, even when they don't match the world's expectations.

You are reading real words now, and working with numbers. Everywhere we go you are sounding out and decoding the written word. You like to count everything and can add up how many errands we have to run, or things we need to pick up at the store.

So my promise to you is not how many times I'll write in a week or a month, but how I will compose and record my thoughts. In the past, I've been hesitant to write down 'real' goings-on. That is, if I'm frustrated with an interaction, I tend to pull away from writing here. I'm going to turn that around and see where it takes me. I want this to be a true record, no matter how sappy or negative I may be feeling at the time.

That being said -- I love you and will always love you no matter what path you choose. Tonight at dinner, you said, "When I grow up, I'm going to have a baby in my belly." I felt a surge of nerves and anxiety fill up my chest because I just can't imagine it. I can't imagine your spot at the table empty. But I can't let the worry of what may be--what will be--overtake me.

Please dear, let me hold your hand a few more years.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bugle -- a guest post from Dad

Your grandpa has a yen for old instruments picked up from thrift stores and church basements. On this trip, you have taken up the bugle. It's true! Your sense of voice, tone, and craftsmanship seems to move up by the minute.

Tonight you were doing an almost spot-on version of Jingle Bells, one of the first songs that you learned to sing. Yesterday, you recorded a song. You simply love Papa's bugle.

Since your baby days, you have resisted any attempts that I have made to play guitar. It has been a source of grief and frustration over the years. Now, with bugle in hand, you are asking me to grab the guitar and "be the clown" in your marching band. As clown, I get to play guitar. I am not only playing, we are finding audiences of pretend friends and citizens all over the house. You cue me and that is fine. In fact, it is as it should be.

I have played guitar on and off for almost twenty years. During that time, I have never been invited into a real band; until now. I can't think of any bugler I would rather follow, anybody's clown who I would rather be. Send me the cues, I will pluck and strum the funk and love of each moment as it unfolds. Let the band play on!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Star of the show

Taken tonight...
My little sweetie, stealing the light.
But I'll gladly give it to you.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving

I am thankful for many things. You--well, you are thankful for a lot of stuff too. But today, you were totally excited about blueberry muffins. Thank you for making them with me, my lovely.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Family time

We are at Nana and Papa's house for the next few days. This morning when you realized that we were spending the night, you got really exited. "We're staying? Overnight? For how long?! I'm so excited!!"

When we finally pulled up in front of the house, it was almost past your bedtime and you wiggled and giggled your way out of the car seat. As the years have passed, you have become more and more elated to reconnect with your grandparents. This time, you leaped into Papa's arms and I know he's been anticipaing the love you save just for him. Nana stood waiting on the porch, beaming.

You are asleep now, in my childhood room. Rest well, my sweet.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Village

Today Miss A. talked with you about your Bedtime Behavior. You respect her as a teacher and as your main babysitter, so we knew a conversation would make an impression. After school, we asked you what you two had talked about; you replied, "ahh, it's a long story. I don't want to talk about it." So we didn't push you, and, consequently, bedtime was short and sweet.

You brought home your first packet of "homework" tonight and worked on it diligently. You are so interested in learning and growing. Looking at your written numbers, letters and words--seeing the pride in your eyes--well, I am just so proud of you. It's no wonder you sometimes sob and cry and writhe around.

I promise--at least I promise to try--not to push you too aggressively, if you promise to respect your own boundaries. Those boundaries will shift and change, of course. My wish for you is that you learn all you want to know (and more).

Monday, November 24, 2008


So I promised myself that I would see this 'month of posting' to your blog through to the end. Hell, sometimes these months of posting are the most I write all year. It's important, and I'm thankful for the challenge. Mostly.

Earlier, while you were screaming in your bed, refusing to sleep, my finger hoovered over the "create new post" button. I didn't want to push that button. I wanted to walk away.

But here I am.
There were moments this evening I understood why, perhaps, women end up rocking away, in dark corners of their bedrooms or with tangled-up brains, hiding in the basement.

A part of me has been there, but not as a parent. What's frightening, though, are the gray corners of that image that creep in--start surrounding me.

There is no regret, but sometimes the vastness of this responsibility is heavy.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Letter to a robber

Tonight when we got home from our night and day away from home, you noticed that a few lights were on inside. You asked if someone was already home, and dad explained that we left some lights on so it looked like the house was occupied. Of course you wanted to understand why we would leave lights on, and dad told you that the lights keep potential robbers away.

I wasn't exactly sure if I wanted to enter into a discussion about burglars, but here we were. Since it was not my idea, I allowed dad to attempt an explanation without scaring the, uh, crap out of you. The idea that someone could come into our house and be here, uninvited, much less take any of our stuff creeps me out plenty; I chose not to be the explainer this time.

Anyway, after the discussion and going round and around -- yes, people could break in, but no, it probably wouldn't happen and, yes, that's what the security system is for but, no, you shouldn't be afraid -- you set to work on a project.

After 10 minutes or so, you came into the kitchen with a note for any potential robbers. It is written on adding machine tape and you insisted that we post it on the door. According to you, it says, "robber, don't come into our house. I don't want you to take my work. And Myra. She'll run away, so don't come in." Additionally, you want to create a special piece of artwork for any potential robber to take instead of something else he or she may want. Your reasoning is thus: if you make something nice for them (a painting, or even some nice needlework!), then they won't want the other stuff...right? Right?!

You seem to understand that sometimes people don't have what they need, and so they may do bad things to change that circumstance. I think it's lovely you believe that the power of the written word--and your own creativity--could help turn that negativity away (literally) at the door.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

November sleepover #2

We are at our friends' house for our family dinner and sleepover. In the morning we will have a quick breakfast and then head to Buddhist Sunday school, which we all enjoy.

Lots of hangout days ahead.

Friday, November 21, 2008

BOB Books

You are on the first box of BOB Books and I so enjoy watching you work your way through them. When we got them in August, you were interested, but became frustrated so easily. We encouraged--but did not pressure--you to go at your own pace.
You read a new book in the series tonight and it was so wonderful to see you really, truly reading and encountering a new character (Jig the pig) working with good old Mag the dog. Your joy in the content of the story was authentic. You held your hands up to your face and leaned over, gripping your stomach at the sheer hilarity of Jig and Mag's digging contest. It's a beautiful thing to be on the other side of the book. We hope you always encounter reading and learning with this much amazement. After all of these years reading myself, I certainly do!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Sometimes, after a long day, all it takes is a couple of prat falls--or silly dances--to send you over the edge.

Your giggles and all-consuming belly laughs are so rejuvenating after spending hours with
teenagers who: outnumber or lack compassion for me (or learning)
who: turn away when I ask them meaningful questions.

In the long afternoons, I dream of the running hug and burying my face in your blond curls, feeling your smile on my neck.

And then
there you are again.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Early Fall birthday party, for our sweet friend J. Your first time rollerskating. We look goofy, but it was a great time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Blue streak.

From the time you entered the house tonight until the moment you went to sleep, you were talking.

At dinner -- you brought your purse to the table just in case you had to answer your phone. There was great conversation with all of your friends. We heard all about the little soap opera you have cooked up for them.

While in the bathroom -- you read books aloud to yourself for 10 minutes.

Before bed -- ongoing dialog about school, Dad's school, how he should change his classroom, "You need more colors in your room! A green rug, yellow bookshelves. This is how you will do it..."

Lying in bed for your nightly back rub-- "no, no, over over, and around my neck...good, no, now on my shoulders!"

Truly, there was not a moment where we had silence, and this is not the usual way. Most nights, you have at least two minutes to yourself, but there seemed to be a lot of things you needed to communicate. I love it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Snapshot: With Baby Jo

One evening, after you were dressed for bed, you wanted to cuddle on our bed. You took off your glasses and tucked in. Suddenly, you realized you were missing Baby Jo, hopped off the bed and brought her into bed with us. After about 5 minutes or so, it was time for you to head to your own bed. We needed a photo to commemorate the occasion.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Baking together: Raspberry muffins

Because of your allergies, baking and cooking can sometimes be delightfully simple or uncomplicated in a boring way. Over the past few years, more and more gluten free and dairy free items have come into the market. You are not interested in any form of chocolate, so that limits our choices even further! Today, while at Whole Foods, I discovered that they've introduced their own line of gluten free baking mixes. Although Whole Foods carries expensive items, their 365 Organics lines are often less expensive than other brands. So we picked up some muffin mix and a bag of frozen raspberries to stir in.

Instead of the pre-bedtime game or book, tonight we made muffins. We even sat in front of the oven and watched them rise (16 minutes! You sat on my lap the whole time). These muffins good. So, so good. We used Earth Balance and Hemp Bliss instead of butter and milk. Luckily, you are not allergic to eggs, so we didn't have to use a substitute. These muffins did not have a gritty, flat taste as gluten free products often have. The raspberries were perfect, although you did not like the "squishy" texture of the whole berries.

I can't wait to bake more with you! I know you probably won't eat them, but we will make the fudge brownies together sometime soon. You enjoy the process of working and helping so much, you don't seem to mind if we make something that's not exclusively for you. Perhaps I can convince you to try one bite!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Sweet nothings

"I love you Mom. You are so pretty. You are the most pretty, that's why I love you.

I love you Dad. You are...the weirdest. You are weird.

Mom, you are the prettiest, and Dad, you are the weirdest.

I love you, good night!"

Friday, November 14, 2008

Music: Elizabeth Mitchell

You have always loved listening to music and so we've introduced you to as much variety as possible. In the last two years, you've grown very fond of Dan Zanes, Lisa Loeb and Led Zeppelin. You are into anything, really, as long as it has a good beat and it matches your mood. One of your favorites is the singer Elizabeth Mitchell. She has, with her husband and daughter, created some wonderful albums. About two months ago, she graced Portland with her presence. Although the show was short, and the venue uncomfortable, we were beyond excited to see her. Here's to enjoying more live music in the future!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Slightly sick

Today you and Dad came home with sniffly noses; you came barging through the door with coughs and pitiful looks.

Dinner was just coming out of the oven. Then, a puzzle and bath. When we tucked you in--Dad rubbing your back and me, next to you, squeezed in tight--when we tucked you in, you were asleep as your head hit the pillow.

I love to lie next to you when you have just fallen asleep.

So many of my words about you these days seem to reflect my night writing habit. I am trying to find the light.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

passing thoughts

On my way to bed tonight, I was thinking of you as I climbed the stairs. The temptation to check in on you was great. Why do I still miss you when you are sleeping?

Dad told me that you cried for me in the car tonight. You must have known I would not be there, but perhaps your desired closeness overwhemed your memory.

P.S. I love our new nightly ritual: robot stories. More on that soon.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Sometimes you play favorites.

Today, it was my turn. As you cuddled into my lap for your snack, you said, "I love you the muchest!" And I didn't want to correct your grammar because, for just awhile, I want to savor the sweetness of your misspoken affection.

It was a good day.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Multiple Directions

Today, we came to pick you up at school and your caregivers couldn't tell us where you were. In one instance, I was angry, worried, sad -- livid. Running down the hallway toward your dark classroom, I could hear your wails as I opened the door. You were in the doorway of the bathroom in wet pants. Paralyzed and ashamed. You said, "I've been here a long time! No one came to help me!" I stroked your hair and held you in my arms. Who knows long it had been, but you tell the truth. What if we'd been another 15 minutes? There were three adults in the common room, watching 8 other children listen to prerecorded music, but apparently not one of them remembered or noticed your absence.

The sick feeling in my gut pulls me to places I don't necessarily want to go emotionally, but certainly helps me examine what I want in my relationship with you. When we come home after a long day, do we really need to clean and do other chores? Tonight I gladly painted with you, and then created stories before a long bath.

There are moments when I wonder if we'd be better here together, holed up with our books and paints and pretend games. You are, in many ways, a homebody like myself. This weekend you told me, "I like to be home. Will we be home next weekend?" We will, but I know full-time, at home life not what's in the cards right now.

Tonight during our goodnights tonight, I was holding your hand -- stroking your fingers and kissing the soft skin. You said, "you'll always take care of me, Mom."

Sunday, November 09, 2008


This afternoon, we went to Wordstock at the Portland Convention Center. Both Dad and I were volunteering for BookMooch. The expectation was that you would not be able to handle 4+ hours there, but you were more than happy to stay.

You helped at the table -- explaining BookMooch and handing out flyers, you sat at a poetry reading -- our dear friend Matthew Dickman read from his new book, "All-American Poem" (at the end, you even raised your hand to ask a question!), then insisted you return to see another friend, Michael McGriff, read from his new book, "Dismantling the Hills," and, of course, ran in circles around the children's area.

At one point, you dragged Dad to see another author (Kevin Cook) discussing his book about teen golf education. We aren't sure why you were drawn to this, but any (appropriate) opportunity to learn about new books and ideas is fine with us.

You even created your own comic book!

Whew. It came as no surprise that you were exhausted and cranky, but you still managed to listen to a story, and then create your own story, before bed tonight. It's tough for you to understand, sometimes, that there are many more stories for you to write...but that you must sleep and rest in order to live them.

Saturday, November 08, 2008


We had a big day with friends: eating, laughing, playing and, hopefully, sleeping. You three friends will grow and learn together, and for this I am eternally greatful. We are all so lucky to have each other in our extended families!
More on all of this tomorrow.

Friday, November 07, 2008

By the numbers

45 minutes -- time it takes to get you ready and out the door (this amount of time includes the Dressing of Dolls).

5 minutes -- time it took to convince you that yes--yes you CAN take care of yourself after you use the bathroom.

3 minutes -- length of time between the first and last bite of your mixed berry cereal bar (eaten in the car).

9 hours -- length of time you are away from us on weekdays -- too long.

1 hour -- bedtime ritual: puzzle, bedtime toast, dressing (you and the babies), brushing of teeth etc., book at bedside, song (Wouldn't It Be Loverly, sung by Yours Truly) and tucking in (with extra kisses).

11 hours -- about how long you'll sleep tonight.

Until we meet again, my love.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


This morning, you got in the car with your Dad and said, "Daddy, we have energy in our body." And he said, "who taught you that?" You responded with, "I thought it myself." Dad asked you if energy is everywhere or just in you. You determined that energy is in everything, but that it comes "from inside your body." He asked another question, "are we energy or do we have energy; is it part of our body?"

After a few moments of silence, you said, "Daddy, stop asking me about energy." "Okay," he said. "Okay," you said.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Bargaining Skills, Or Why You Could Work As A U.N. Negotiator

Tonight you met your match. We like to pretend we rule the roost 100% of the time, but it's really not true. Sure, we have rules and regulations, but when there are low-stakes requests, we will often let you have your way. Sometimes this comes back to bite us in the a**.

We have long said you could work for the U.N. in conflict-resolution. Or, really, we could, depending on the issue. Tonight the scene in our house reached critical mass: there was biting, hair pulling and, after dinner, a drawn out bedtime snack negotiation. In the middle, of course, there was sweetness and light. Our meal conversation was happy and interesting. But you are really attached to your bedtime toast. Tonight, however, you didn't mention the need for said toast until we were upstairs and ready to begin the other bedtime procedures. You did not need the toast--for you had actually been noshing on snacks before dinner as well--and so tonight we stood firm. You were, for lack of a better word, pissed.

"Okay, then -- I'll take 3 pieces or ZERO pieces!"
"I'm going to sleep in YOUR bed tonight!"
"The FIREMEN are going to come to our house and shoot FIRE at you!"
"Give me my DINNER BACK! You didn't let me FINISH!"

Eventually, of course, it ended because we refused to battle with this attitude. This behavior always surprises me because, well, you are my baby. I see, most of the time, a girl who is growing so quickly--who is strong and smart and reasonable.

During the turning moment, we had a talk in the dark hallway about letting go of wanting things, or, even, letting go of wanting a different feelings. Dad spoke of your Yoga practice and breathing. Finally, you held out your little fist, palm up, and opened it slowly, saying, "I'm letting go of want. The grumpy feelings are going away." In that moment, we all got what we wanted and needed.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


Right now, we are sitting on the couch together. Dad is helping you put on your pajamas. Our little family of three is watching Barack Obama accept his new role as President of the United States. And we are--all of us--so happy. As you tuck yourself in beside me, I have hope for you--for us--for all of us. I have hope that those who did not stand behind him will work to unite our country--will honor and stand behind our new leader.

This is an amazing and important moment in history, one that I am overjoyed to share with you. "We are not enemies, but friends," President-elect Obama says. These are words to hold out to all you meet, dear Lucy. I will do all I can to live this example for you.

Yes we can!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Picture Day

Today we found your Fall portraits tucked inside your little cubby at school. I am always excited to see what parts of your personality are revealed in the variety of poses. This year, your opinion on the chosen outfit included a debate about whether or not you'd wear your cardigan over your dress.

As we were preparing for picture day a few weeks ago, I was somewhat insistent you take off your sweater and, although you agreed, you were reticent. You had other ideas. As Dad and I were driving away from school, he reminded me of a debate I once had with my own mother. I was in the 2nd grade, and when she pulled the school pictures out of the envelope, she was disappointed because I hadn't removed my pale, purple cardigan. I remember thinking it looked nice, and had only buttoned the top button to show off the cute shirt underneath. When I look at the pictures, even now, I remember the sadness I felt. Why didn't my mom honor the ideas I had about my self-image? I did not want to pass on a similar memory.

When we picked you up after school that day, the first thing you said was, "I forgot to take off my sweater!" I said, "that's okay, sweetie. I'm sure the pictures look great!" You replied, looking down, "actually, I left it on...on purpose. It looks pretty with my dress." And I told you that I was so happy you made your own decision and reiterated how much I want to value your ideas.

While looking at the pictures after dinner tonight, you were so proud of how cute you looked. Each pose featured a different version of your smile--the tilt of your head shifted a bit in the shot with the Fall leaves in the background. Your golden hair looked lovely and your skin was peachy and clear.

As we put the photos back in the envelope for safe keeping, you said, "see Mom, I was right! The sweater did look great with that dress!" Yes, yes it does.

Sunday, November 02, 2008


In no particular order -- events and moments to cover this month:
Bob Books and reading
Working with numbers
Telephone etiquette
Baby Guy and your imaginary friends

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Once again...

I am going to post here every day here for the month of November. Someday, when you see all of the sentences and paragraphs I've written for you, you'll notice that it's more of a yearly update. Although I always intend to write more and more often, intentions have rarely turned to action.

More soon....