Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sweet Dreams

"The storm is breaking 
Or so it seems
We're too young to reason
Too grown up to dream."
                                                                                                                 -Slave to Love, Bryan Ferry

Boys and Girls, an album released by Bryan Ferry in 1985, is still one of my all time favorites. I remember my mom and me driving out to some nearby rural town to get a new backpack for school. I played this tape over and over again. She always let me pick the music. I was only 13 years old then.
I thought I was so grownup and that I knew so much. Goodness, I was barely more than a baby but I was old enough to wear this with earnest and excitement


I had so many dreams then. I would spend hours working on them - daydreaming, writing in my diary (you know the one with the lock at the end of a paper hinge and little thin metal 'key' that opened it) and talking to my friends.

Many of these dreams turned into plans and plans turned into reality. This was something I was really good at - achieving my dreams. Some people call this the Law of Expectation. I like this law. Mostly, I like it because it says that you have some control over how your future will turn out. I'm willing to accept that there is an element of the future that is well beyond anyones control but I like thinking that I play a part in it all. 


It starts with your imagination.


It starts with rich, elaborate, detailed stories that you weave with yourself as the star. 


You fill it out with some key people. 


And then, once you accepted the work that needs to be done, you make it happen. 


I didn't really understand that song lyric "too grown up to dream" back then. This morning as I corralled my two and a half year old with her three toothbrushes and tried to put some deodorant on under both arms, it made more sense. You need some time and space in order to access your imagination. What else did I have to do when I was 13 years old? Some homework and worry about my skin and if some boy liked me or not...these were of paramount importance to me then. My mom always warned me to not be too eager to grow up too soon.

I get it now. What a tangled web we can weave without even meaning to - it doesn't have to be sinister to ensnare you. It's like holding the end of the thread and watching as the spool falls to the ground, bounces a few times and rolls off to the other side of the room. A big spool of job thread, a little spool of retirement savings, many parenting spools, I forgot my friends birthday spool...Do this a thousand times and you're nearly there. The further into adulthood you travel, the more loose threads that are just out there.


Spending all your time just trying to contain the various threads doesn't leave a lot of space to breathe or room to dream. That makes me sad because if my imagination is stagnant and I don't have anything I'm dreaming of then what will the future look like? 

My key players are here so I know it will be good. It's just the details I'm a bit fuzzy about. 


I mean, I know some basic stuff like adding to our family, being the best mom I can be and keeping my marriage alive. All the other stuff about my career and the things I like to do ... well, I haven't thought about this stuff in a while. The question is: if you are living the old dreams that were worth keeping and you can't seem to access the new ones then where do you go from there?


I'm lucky. I have a supportive husband for a partner and a beautiful daughter. We're on a good path as a family and part of being a family is being willing to do the driving while the other person keeps the wheels on the bus. We're doing all that we ever wanted to do, even if it doesn't look like it's going to fall within the confines of even the loose framework of my dreams. One of the reasons I married Tim is that he keeps me on my toes. The road ahead looks good.


As for me, I keep saying that I'm going to get back to this dreaming thing and I will. It may be a few months from now until I can create some space to do that but it will happen. As soon as I have a little space to do it, I'll hop back in the drivers seat. Until then I'm just going to keep on the ride they're on. I trust them. I love them more than anything. It's going somewhere really great, I can feel it.  

Monday, November 28, 2011

It's Sunday afternoon and my family is napping. The sweet smell of pine is creeping through the house as our Christmas tree lay still bound on the living room floor. We dug out the decorations this morning and the boxes are stacked, waiting to be opened.

We also dug out a bunch of crap so that I could get pictures to post on Craigs List. This led to Ada posing with Tim's scuba tanks and the bike trainer saying, "Cheese!" I think she learned that at her Christmas portraits with the nanny last week.


This Thanksgiving weekend Tim was on call and I've been sick. Let's put it this way: it's easier to get dressed and take the very curious toddler out of the house than it is to try to entertain her at home the whole time.

We went over to have Thanksgiving with Tom, Kathi, Sarah, Mia and Martina. Tim was amused that while he was on call I would celebrate this most American holiday with an Austrian, a German, and an Argentinian. Hey, we all have stuff to be thankful for even if we weren't born in America. Tom grilled the turkey and it was perfect! You'd think he'd spent his whole life watching the men in his family perfecting the grilled turkey. In fact, I think this might have been his first one. He's good with the grill so I'm not at all surprised that dinner was so good.


The girls ran around like maniacs and though I didn't think it was much different from the other times we've been over there, it must have been something really special because Ada slept until nearly 9:00 am the next morning. A new record. Maybe it was all the L-tryptophan in the turkey.

Brown corduroy jumper is the Thanksgiving outfit for toddler girls. Ada wore one last year too.

Friday night we went to the tree lighting ceremony at Ghiradelli square with Kathi and Sarah.

As we were walking past the marina I was thinking about how cool it is that we get to do stuff like this. We live in a really beautiful city and we're lucky that these things are so easily accessible to us. Even on a cloudy, cold day the view of the bay is so lovely. It doesn't hurt that the love of my life is in this picture.


There were other sweet times too most of which involved a lot of climbing or scrambling down a steep, muddy hillside. We all made it.





Once we were at Ghiradelli square you could feel the energy in the crowd.I love this time of year and I think that other people who love this time of year all love it for the same reason: the warmth and patience that most people will display. Like motioning for you to go ahead of them or waiting for your toddler to hop down all 46 stairs to the bottom of the square. It's sweet.Except for the shoppers on black Friday. That was just shameful.


The girls had a blast - they saw the albino alligator from the science museum. Ada thought he was really cool and gave him three hugs and six high-fives.


Sarah was not so sure about all that. 


They each got a small piece of Ghiradelli chocolate and a sticker though so it was all OK in the end. Later on they saw Santa, some carolers, snow, and the first tree of the season. It was exciting enough that Ada was snoring in the car before we got home. Not a huge surprise given the lack of naps on Friday after sleeping in so late.

We spent most of the rest of the weekend relaxing. Or at least I never left my yoga pants again and spent most of my time under a quilt with a cup of tea. There was still beauty there too. I'll write up  about that a little bit later. One sunset after a weekend with friends made me all wistful for the city we haven't even left yet.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Be My Friend

Today while contemplating an autumnal bouquet or potted poinsettia in the flower aisle of Trader Joe's I heard someone say my name. It was the warm voice of a friend I don't get to see nearly enough of. We hugged and chatted as we made our way past the bags of lettuce and stacks of bananas. Just before we got to the dairy case we parted ways, off to each go on about our day but I felt lighter, warmer and happier for having run into her.

Tonight, on Thanksgiving eve I'm thinking that of all the things I'm thankful for. The list is endless it seems but the people in my life are the what I am thankful for the most. Of course, my husband and daughter, my in-laws, who I've already declared my love for, my brothers-in-law and their wives, my Dad, my Aunt and my cousin Cori. Then we move on to my chosen part of my family, my friends.

I've always said that I was lucky - I have the fortune of knowing some of the most incredible people on the planet. How this has happened, I haven't any clue. I mean, look at toddler friendships. Ada just sees another kid and runs over to them and yells in their face, they yell back and the volley of some secret screaming conversation has begun. One runs circles around the other and Voila! She's made a new friend. As I get older, I realize it's not so easy for most adults. At least not for me - I'm a bit shy with new people. So I'm astonished that I've been able to find these amazing people and then form friendships with them again and again. When we move to New York, I'll start all over and eventually I'll find a group of women who I connect with.

For today though I'm thankful for my friend I ran into at the grocery store. I'm thankful for the friend I'll hug tomorrow before we eat turkey. I'm thankful for the friends I went to Las Vegas with last weekend and the ones who watched Ada on the spur of the moment so I could go to an appointment. I'm thankful for old friends like the one who came to me during the darkest time of my life. I'm thankful for my Cuban Maria, my Greek Maria, my little French girl, my Puerto Rican hottie, my Portland resident and the friend who always has the perfect advice. These are some among many friends. They are some of my favorite people and even time zones and children and jobs haven't managed to separate us even if we don't talk every day like we used to. I still love them and find that we pick up where we left off as if no time had passed at all. I love these beautiful women and I am thankful we are a part of each others lives.


Meanwhile, today is Tim's birthday. Poor guy left the house this morning and that was 15 hours ago. Let the holiday weekend of call begin. Ada and I baked him a pound cake (silly, since angel food is his favorite. Sorry, love, I get the the two confused). I should rephrase that: I baked a cake. Ada was very busy doing such helpful things as re-arranging the flameless candles and eating butter.


Or riding around in a laundry basket.


Still, I made a damn good cake.


Really, it's damn good. Oh look! And somehow when it came out of the oven there were tickets to see Fela!, which Tim will be over-the-moon thrilled about. A nice birthday surprise even if call did make a wreck out of the whole day. This makes 2 years in a row I've had to improvise. I must say that my comfort level is growing.


Monday, November 21, 2011

More!! I want more!!

It's not a secret that I want another child. What I haven't really put into words is why. I've done it a thousand times to myself but this week the listicle challenge gave me a reason to put it all down. I hope that we are lucky enough to have this wish come true.

1. Doesn't love grow exponentially? I like to think so. Imagine if I love Ada this much already just how much more all that love will grow.

2. I want to see Ada as a big sister. A whole new side of her.

3. We always wanted two. I feel that our family will be complete with two.

4. I want to be pregnant again. I know that sounds crazy to some people. My last pregnancy was hijacked. I'd like to enjoy this one.

5. I loved it so much the first time that I want to do it all again. The tiny baby toes, the toothless wailing, the suck and sigh of breastfeeding, the smell of her head when she was a newborn...ugh. I just love it.

6. I want Ada to have a sibling for many reasons - now and later.

7. We're good people and good parents.

Check it out for hundreds of reasons to have or not have another baby. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

We're Moving to ...

New York City

Last Saturday Tim formally accepted a faculty position at NYU.  I am thrilled to be watching all the years of hard work and sacrifice finally result in something so wonderful. This is his dream come true.

We're going.  And we're determined to make it amazing.

The reality of what we are about to do is overwhelming. My initial impression of New York city as a place to live is daunting - and not in a good way. Part of that comes from old ideas, media-driven stories and pop-culture representations. They may be all falsehoods but when I tell people we're moving there it's like they can hardly wait to tell their horror stories! Like how so-and-so got mugged. I hear about how the schools are cut-throat competitive and the playgrounds are downright violent. Then there's the traffic and rudeness and how long it takes to get anywhere and the expense. The ending of these stories is always punctuated with, "Oh, you'll be fine though!"

Goodness. Really?

Cause all that leaves me feeling like this:


When, once the shock wore off, I really feel more like this:


I'm slowly learning about this city and my impression is improving - greatly!! As if we know what we're up against, the work of preparation has already begun even though the move isn't for several months yet. Our bedside table has a stack of books on it that looks like this:


We've been watching Seinfeld and Sex and the City as if some salient information will be woven amongst the witty banter. I even watched When Harry Met Sally and bought a Sunday New York Times that I never got around to reading. In all seriousness, we are reaching out to everyone we know and even some people we have never actually met to get information about where to live, schools and commute times. We have spent hours on Craigslist and various real estate sites. We have a scouting trip in early December. I even bought a new hat for the trip. What do you think?


I never imagined myself there. On one hand, it might be a good thing that I have no idea what our life will really be like. So often whatever thing I had been thinking about was so incredibly built up by the time it happened that reality could never match the fantasy and disappointment followed. Seems to me that some of the very best times I've had were those that were pretty spontaneous had no expectations attached. On the other hand, a small-town girl is the cornerstone of my personal foundation. That girl needs room to spread out and lately, I've been dreaming of space: closet space and a yard and a parking space. There's also the reliable comfort of seeing the same familiar faces and being a familiar face. I have a tendency to turtle in new situations and can easily get lost in the crowd - a lonely place to be.

Believe it or not, the biggest issue I have with moving to New York has less to do with the cost of living or  small rental spaces. My bigger question, my biggest question really is - where in the hell am I going to fit in there? In this city, you can get the best of everything and the best of everyone. Really. Even Frank Sinatra said it in a song lyric: "if I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere." It scares the shit out of me. I mean, what if I don't make it there? Does that mean I won't make it anywhere?

Then it occurs to me: I'm not really interested in joining the competition. I have her and I'll be as good of a mom as I can be regardless of our address. Right now, she doesn't care about how much storage space we have. She just wants to hang out with us and that's pretty cool. We're going to be just fine.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Vacation - What makes a good one

I haven't had a vacation in a while. Thinking back, we've had some amazing vacations. Like when we camped all around New Mexico or when we went to St.John for a belated honeymoon. Pre- and post-baby vacations are so different.With Ada we went to Portland and were in bed before 9:00 each night, which is better than Hawaii when she never made the time switch and one of us was up with her at 3:00 AM. I actually cherish those early morning walks on the beach in the dark with her snuggled in the Ergo.

So this week, a list of the elements of a good vacation.

1. Sleep: I just don't think this requires any sort of explanation. Especially for anyone who has or has had kids. In Alaska Tim and I noticed that we were bickering  with each other a lot. It took us a few days but we realized that we weren't sleeping. In July the sun scarcely goes down and our tent was no good as a light block. Ugh.

2. Vacation sex: Something about the freedom of having no place that you absolutely have to be mixed with anonymity of travel and well, there you have it. Afternoon delight every single day if you want to.

3. Lunchtime cocktails: I love a glass of something with lunch. It's normally so forbidden that indulging over vacation just feels sinful.

4. Water: Anything with water will do. A waterfall, the ocean, a river or lake...I love them all. SCUBA, snorkeling, water skiing (being drug around behind a boat really fast on anything is pretty awesome), canoeing, a boat trip. Love it. The breath of life I need.

5. Pre-vacay shopping: What do I have to wear in the tropics? Nothing. Must go shopping.

6. No plans: Isn't this the best part of vacation? Some people like to fill the agenda from the time they wake up until the time they go to sleep. Not me. Maybe put a thing or two in the agenda but otherwise, I like having the freedom to explore and be lazy and read books, and daydream.

7.Trying something new: I have a rule that if I'm traveling and I see a fish on the menu that I've never had before I must try it. This leads to all sorts of wild adventures like the time Tim and I lolled around in a hot spring in Truth or Consequences, NM.

8. Cool People: One thing I've noticed is that I usually meet really awesome people when on vacation. The one exception was St. John. We were on our honeymoon and not all that interested in meeting other people.

9. Good Food: Local, fresh, good. Love it.
Best meal: Asolare
Worst Meal: Alaska, something we got out of the tour book.
Funniest Meal: New Mexico - we didn't speak Spanish, they didn't speak English, I was still a vegetarian then and the food was hot as Hades.
Most authentic: the Cornish pasties out of a local house kitchen in Kynance Cove, Cornwall.
Oh, and once in HI we went to eat dinner at 4:30 with Ada (she woke up at 3:00 AM, remember).

10. Physical exertion: Other than all the sleeping and resting and lazying about that I like on vacation I do also like some good, hard physical exertion on a daily basis. What is better than playing hard all afternoon and coming back to the hotel for a shower and drink before dinner.

This makes me achy to get back to St. John ASAP.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thankful November: Part 2

Last week I decided to make a list each day this month of three things I'm thankful for. I invited others to join in and my mother-in-law agreed to play along. Hoorah!

This list si starting to look like 14,000 Things to be Happy About! Good, I love that book!
November 5
1. Large play rooms
2. local grocers
3. In aparment laundry

November 6
1. Baptism
2. My favorite Steve Madden pumps
3. roasted red peppers

November 7
1. Self-control
2. kittens
3. puppies

November 8
1. Taxi cabs
2. snuggling with my husband as we fall to sleep
3. water

November 9
1. Acupuncture
2. A single seat at the bar
3. Coming home

November 10
1. Rain
2. Tricycles with push handles
3. Scented candles

November 11
1. Negotiation
2. Dora. Lord, help me. Yes, I said "Dora".
3. Zazie

November 12
1. Public library
2. sugar cookies with sprinkles
3. John, may favorite guy at Lavande.

You can play too if you want to - here, by email, twitter, even in your own thoughts only.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

November 2011 Ten on 10: YAY!!

It's my favorite day of the month. Seriously, Rebekah - brilliant. Did you know it's my favorite day of the month (especially when I'm not at work)?

It is, mama. It is.
ten on ten button small

6:30 AM

How did I survive before our farm share box? How? If kale is the best vegetable, I'm telling you that persimmon is the best fruit. And that's my grandmothers milk glass. I swoon and smile every single time I use it. 

7:30 AM

The perfect cup for the season. We might be moving from San Francisco. I'll give you one guess as to where we're going. 


What's better than the image of my sweetest heart? Why, a kaleidoscope of her images, of course. 

9:30 AM

Music class. The teacher is named Monica, just like me. She often plays this little guitar/ukulele thing that has a Spanish name I can't understand. Whatever it is, Ads is mesmerized. 
10:30 AM

This corner is the center of the world, as far as I'm concerned. 
11:30 AM

I love the way the sunlight starts to filter into the back of our house in the afternoon.
Hello, birdie.
The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook: maybe one day I will make something from this beautiful book I got last Christmas.  I mean, if I got some canning stuff for Christmas this year I could still make some orange marmalade.
12:30 PM

Ada is napping. This sweet bird is on my wall above my bed. I will miss him when we move out. 
1:30 PM

Ada is still napping. I'm getting bored.
When we moved to San Francisco we wanted to live in an older home. The heating/cooling aspect of this decision was not so wise but there are endless details to compensate for it. This door handle, for example. How many people have touched it in the last 103 years? What stories did they have to tell? 
2:30 PM

Late lunch. I convince her to eat her strawberries by putting about 2 Tbsp of vanilla ice cream on top. It works. 
3:30 PM

Confession: sometimes I dress Ada in clothes that are just a tad too big so that I can pretend for a split second that she is a wee baby again. Blue toes and heels = love.


That's officially ten photographs (I snuck in an extra or two) but I just kept going. Check it out, or don't. Whatevs. 

4:30 PM

Pre-dinner preparation. We had salad with persimmon, pomegranate, local blue cheese, pumpkin seeds and grilled tuna dressed with a pomegranate balsamic vinaigrette. Please don't ask about the marker on her hands.
5:30 PM

I love her. 

Bonus: this is from the morning. Overexposed, poorly focused, but I totally don't care. My Heart is so happy. I have a crazy smile when I'm happy - like, soulfully happy. My husband knows it the second he sees it. She has it. She makes it look good but I don't know if having a tell this obvious is a good thing.


Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Truly, Madly, Deeply

Long before I had kids and all through the time I was pregnant one particular worry plagued me:

What if I don't like my kid(s)?

I've always held the philosophy that kids are just little adults waiting to grow up and, to an extent, their personalities are already there when they're born. I mean, what if my kids are assholes or are naturally selfish? Then what? Is it possible to love them without liking certain characteristics about them? Is it possible to not like certain things about them without them feeling rejected? Now, we could argue this basic tenant - nature vs. nurture - on a philosophical and pyschological level six ways to Sunday. I'm not trying to espouse a theory backed by data or research or anything other than my own gut feeling. I'm pretty convinced that elements of Ada's personality were declared quite clearly from the first day of her life.


While her basic nature might already be set in stone, I think one of my main jobs as a mother is to steer her to be the very best person she can be. As Abraham Lincoln once said, "Whatever you are, be a good one." A big part of my role as a mom is to guide her do that.

Lucky for me, she makes it so easy - my first born is also my greatest love. I refer to her all the time as "My Heart" because she is - that girl is the manifestation of all the very best of my very own heart (Tim's too). She is sweet, generous, forgiving, affectionate, considerate, empathetic and all around lovely.


Pride overwhelms me when she brings another baby her sippy cup in baby school. My heart melts when she asks for my hand to take me where she wants me to go, which usually involves doing something cuddly with her. I love how good she is at sharing. If she sees a sad or crying baby she will go stroke their hair to calm them down. Oh, and when she sings? All off key and so earnest... I very much like the person she is. If the glimpse of her I've had over the past 2 and a half years is at all a preview, I will like her 10, 20, 40 years from now.

I am truly, madly, deeply in love with that child. Maybe everyone else was right and you just love your kids unconditionally. Really, it's the greatest relief.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Thankful November

I took down the Halloween decorations and put our moldy pumpkins into the compost bin today. Ada wore her "I'm so thankful" turkey T-shirt to music class today and we put some leaf gel-thingys on the front window. The air is cooling down and the wind is picking up. Today there are high steely gray clouds high above my city. All I want is to eat pumpkin soup today and play on our local playground with scarves around our necks. The first bits of Christmas are showing up on the shelves of our local hardware store and it's time to plant the amaryllis and narcissus for a December bloom.

I LOVE this time of the year. 


Every day this month I am going to list 3 things I am thankful for and I'll sum them up weekly right here. I hear that Oprah started doing this and it turned her life around. I don't think I need to have my life turned around but being thankful - sincerely grateful - is just a good feeling and valuable perspective. You're welcome to join in - leave a comment, link to your own blog and write a post about what you are thankful for, even just think it to yourself.

November 1:
  1. SLEEP: Seriously. Does this need elaboration?
  2. RUCHE: More affordable than Anthropologie. 
  3. HEALTH: I bitch about my body plenty. It's shaped funny and won't get/stay pregnant are my two biggest complaints. Overall though, I'm lucky. I am very strong and for the most part my body has done some remarkable things over the past 40 years. 
She still refused to wear the Elmo costume I made for her.  Instead she went as Dorothy. Good thing I picked up some dress-up outfits at Target last year for 80% off. 

November 2:
  1. KALE: Yes, I'm thankful for kale.  I've decided that it's natures perfect food. The nutritional content will knock your socks off, it's super cheap and you can hide it in anything. I put it into fruit smoothies, tuna salad (put s can of sardines in there too - more nutrition and you won't notice), spaghetti sauce, and soup. My favorite is dinosaur kale but curly is great too. 
  2. LIZ and SHIAN: My office mates. They are super fun and super supportive. We also share a love for some not-so-cool things. But you would be surprised how many cool people are closet Barry Manilow fans. We might go to a casino out in the middle of nowhere to see Air Supply. It's OK to be jealous. 
  3. PARKING: Halloween weekend was rough on our hill. This night, I parked right in front of our house. Such a blissful indulgence. 

November 3: 
  1. ABC's: She sings them, among other songs. I could just die from smiling when she sings. 
  2. DECAF COFFEE: God bless the person who discovered water-processing to decaffeinate coffee. I'm still off the caffeine - it's been 2 months now. I didn't think it was possible but look at that, it was. 
  3. COLE VALLEY: Our neighborhood is great. After music class this morning we got cat food, a balloon, and milk on our way home. We walked the whole way and smiled at our neighbors. 

November 4:
  1. VIRTUAL FRIENDS: Some shit is going down right about now. Thank God for the ability to network online. These ladies are worth their weight in gold to me now. 
  2. BURRITOS: Thank you, Mexican friends. 
  3. ORGANIZATION: I don't mean to sound arrogant but damn, I can really organize stuff.

Like I said, feel free to chime in. Meanwhile, I'll be even more thankful next week. 

Good Morning, sleepyhead.