Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Daily Message


That's pretty concise.

Messages like the one above along with "joy", "peace" and "freedom" were embedded in the concrete walkway that wove through the playground we went to for the first time this morning. It was warm, the sun was shining and I felt happy, joyous, peaceful and free.

On the way home I asked Ada what made her happy and she responded with, "Bicycles, trains, motorcycles, homes...[pause]...and presents. [longer pause] and Sarah." I would like for life to be this simple for her for as long as possible.

That's all.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dangerous Space

It's dangerous to fall into this space - the one where I'm not writing it down. Because getting it down in words is a huge part of how I process. It always has been. I got my first diary when I was about 8 years old. It had pink, lined pages and a girl wearing a straw hat with a blue bow standing in a ring of flowers on the front. It had a paper hinge with a little gold lock and a thin metal 'key' that never really worked. I hid the diary between my mattresses because God forbid my mother should ever find what deep thoughts lurked in my 8-year-old mind. Things like, "Went swimming today." Riveting.

It grew from those tiny seeds though and my need to journal and chronicle has since filled volumes. If something is really, really upsetting I'll either get after cleaning the house or sitting down and writing for hours. Sometimes those stories are bound while other events were written on stacks of printer paper or a legal pad. I have some blank books that are just so beautiful that I can hardly bring myself to write in them. One day I will throw them along with the words and thoughts that inhabit them into the bottom of a metal barrel or a grill, douse them with lighter fluid and watch them burn. I've done it with every journal, every writing since I can remember: watched my written history turn to ashes and float away on the winds. I've read that some people like to re-read them. Not me. I also never got back together with old boyfriends. I don't need to relive it. The ritual of writing and purging is a huge release.

This space right here is the only one where I record things with the intention of them being printed, bound, and given to my daughter as a permanent record of her early history. A history that she will have no memory of without me to help her fill in the details. Sometimes the words don't come easily. They're in my head: there are memories to record and pictures to include but sitting-down-to-do-it part just doesn't happen. Or it does happen and the next day I re-read an embarrassingly whiney or desperately negative post. Then there are some things that are too private, things you can't write about publicly because it isn't your story to tell. But it impacts you all the same.

There are 6 unpublished blog posts sitting in my que right now so I've been writing something. Trust me, you don't want to know. Its not like our family has come upon some life-changing challenge that can be woven into a great story of triumph! It's all stuff that we all deal with and it will eventually land in our Weber, doused with lighter fluid, while I stand back with a glass of wine and a deep breath to watch it burn. The way it's meant to be. A year from now I don't want to be reminded with detailed descriptions of worries and hardships. And 20 years from now I don't want Ada to read this and know anything other than this: we got through it because that's what we do. Besides, at this point it all seems so ... last week.

A few things roll out as beautiful commonalities over the past 2 weeks though:

Her sense of wonder:
The apple didn't fall far from the tree, I can tell you that much. On a rainy, miserable Friday morning we made our way to the Exploratorium down in the Marina. I thought Ada's head was going to explode. Mine too a little. I saw the work-shop there and said to Kathi, "That must be the greatest job in the whole world. You just get to hang out and test basic principles of physics all day." If academic science had worked out to be more like, more like I thought it would be then I might have stuck with it.




Her growing sense of independence:
She has yet to turn into one of those kids who wants to do everything herself. Instead, I hear a lot of  "Mama, Heeeeep!" But she is wildly confident when it comes to certain things. I take this as a sign that we have settled a good, secure foundation for her because this girl is totally happy to run off and explore with no regard for where we are. It's not just toddler lack of attention either. Sort of like she knows we're following and wouldn't dare leave her all alone. I love it that she knows this, that she feels it at her core that we will never, ever abandon her.


Her self expression:
Need I say more? By the way, the singing along with the radio comes now complete with vocal intonations and appropriate emphasis on particular parts of the song. I search for Pumped Up Kicks and Somebody I Used to Know on purpose scanning the stations just so that I can hear her sing along. Oh God, and if she starts dancing?


Her self-control:
You know, I think she's going to be just fine. We're guiding her with the complete recognition that at this age her frontal lobes are connected to the rest of her brain by a precarious, often-interrupted thread. Toddlers act how they do for a reason: It's developmentally appropriate. It is not, however, alway resulting in appropriate behavior. I am her ambassador so when she does something particularly uncalled for (like push her favorite friend for no reason at all) it's my job to swoop in and try to make it better AND harness this moment to teach her how to be compassionate and considerate. It's not always easy. Or fun.




All said, despite how freaking exhausted I am ALL THE TIME and the various random stuff coming up lately that falls into the category of "Sucks-a-whole-lot" I can say without hesitation that I am so over-the-moon for this kid that every day there is some little memory I wish I could record or bottle up and save forever. And that's cool. I love there is a moment in every single day when, no matter what else is happening I can look at her and be washed over with a sense of peace and overwhelming love for her. And she makes me laugh.

Things I want to remember about right now:
Her singing along to "Somebody I Used to Know" in the back of the car.
How she makes up words to Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and the ABC song.
The sound of her footsteps when she runs from her bed to ours first thing when she wakes up. I love it that her first thought is to come snuggle with mommy (that's me).
Baby brothers tiny kicks.
How she reads along with her favorite books now. Today I heard her reading "Freight Train" all to herself. She has the whole book memorized.
How she'll only lick ice cream but won't take a bite of it.

Happy Monday! More to come. April is almost here!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Not so much.

Last night we all went to bed early. In fact Tim had been napping since 7:00. Honestly, I couldn't stand to engage in one more minute of the day.  We had a sick, crabby, crappy weekend at the Shepherd home. In fact, it was so bad that it was ten on 10, my favorite meme ever, and I carried my camera with me all day but still couldn't find any beauty to capture. Instead I snipped at Tim and drew in my breath at Ada all day. I was a bitch. How a weekend can start out so wonderfully and then turn to total shit is beyond me.

Actually, I do know. Friday night, right before our date - right before I came to realize that not one of my shirts fits anymore, my nice black pants shrunk in the dryer leaving them too short for heels and one of the glass beads on the Anthropologie necklace I indulged in last year was broken - I felt that tell-tale tickle in my throat and that I knew was getting Ada's cold. This makes the third virus I've had in the past three months. Can I just tell you how freaking tired I am of being sick? Of being tired? Of being sick and tired? Ugh.

I feel a lot like this but without the smile.

But before all that it was a great weekend.

Thursday was a visit to my Ob. Ada helped hold the doppler to listen to her baby brother, who is just growing and developing away in there. There was tickling and hiding in a big pile of pillows on the bed.


There was Golden Gate Park on Friday morning. We dropped off the American Classic at the car shop again (I know, dad. I know) and went to a playground in the park. It was warm enough to not wear a jacket but Elmo is a pretty hard little monster to give up.

I think there is a grown up face right there. Boy am I in trouble. 

I love the giant eucalyptus trees in this park. Ada stopped at this one and repeated, "Look mom! Giant tree!"with her head all craned back and squinting her eyes.

Reminds me of one of those walking, talking old wise trees in Lord of the Rings.

She spent a good deal of time on the swings, as usual.


And on our way out we caught a rainbow. Ada thought this was really cool and so did I. In fact, I usually think of rainbows as being a rather auspicious sign so I was expecting to have a completely kick ass weekend. A few hours later the throat-tickle began so I guess fake rainbows made by sprinklers, while pretty, bring no good luck at all. Beware.


Saturday morning we met Kathi and Sarah at the park. Well, this was after I yelled at Tim. Again with the swings and I was annoyed by it this time. She will spend hours on the swings if I let her. Cue the drawing in of the breath in frustration.


I managed to convince her to go do some other stuff.


I tried to convince myself that there was beauty all around if I only looked for it. And I took some pictures for ten on 10. Looking back over them by the end of the day I could tell that even though I wanted to feel it I just wasn't feeling it. Not every day is beautiful and inspiring. My Saturday happened to be full of snot. So I let it go.

If sunlight through the petals of a flower and spring buds on a tree can't bring a smile to your face then it's a sad, sorry day indeed. 

This is a sight that ALWAYS makes me smile.

Later, the weather turned cold, rainy and windy. Kind of like my mood. We went out to get peanuts and bananas at the shop on the corner in our neighborhood. All bundled up, we had a nice walk.


At home we wrapped up the craptastic day and went to sleep for the time change. The past two days have been the tail end, the aftershocks of a bad weekend. We're still short with each other and I'm still full of snot but the week is slowly looking better.

Practically everyone I know has been sick or had a crappy weekend for some other reason. All I can say is keep your chin up! It can't go on forever. I even woke up this morning feeling kind of normal. Next weekend is going to be awesome. Now go get 'em!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Long Goodnight.

Sometimes a moment comes along that is sweet and so worthy of remembering that I spend part of the moment greedily grabbing on to the details and putting them consciously into my memory. Ada and Tim are both snoring next to me but I want to remember forever...

Reading Clickety Clack Moo (also known as Farmer Moo) twice tonight while she used her left index finger to trace each sentence of the notes the cows left for Farmer Brown while I read them.
The smell of her freshly washed hair.
The weight of her body heavy and warm in my lap, leaning back and snuggling her head into my shoulder.
The perfect warmth as we were covered in a soft blanket together.
The sound of her voice when she said she said "No night night," and then rolled over to let me cradle her like I did when she was a tiny baby.
The way her nightlight spins and makes a pattern on the ceiling and walls.
The ocean sounds we all sleep to every night.
The feel of her silky right eyebrow as I traced it with my left thumb.
The radiant beauty of her smiling at me as we starred into each others eyes.
The deep knowledge that on the great time space continuum there was nowhere else I had to be or wanted to be. Peace and gratitude for this child were my only thoughts. Just like my mantra for the year: You are exactly where you are meant to be.

It's been a long time since I've held her until she was nearly asleep. The toddler bed has brought with it a whole new level of bedtime routine structure. Seems like we might want to break the rules a little more often: after a rough week we both needed this time tonight.

Happy weekend and I hope you find some time for whatever you want this weekend.


Tuesday, March 6, 2012


We live in San Francisco. There are a lot of homeless people here. It's a multifaceted problem with no easy answers. I've gotten pretty good at ignoring them except for a couple of guys who live near my workplace. Sometimes I bring them a coffee or a snack.

What I hadn't anticipated was how this might impact my daughter. This morning on my way out the door to go to work I stopped to get a picture with my phone because it was just too funny to ignore.

Think someone has seen one too many homeless people pushing around their grocery cart loaded down with stuff?


Monday, March 5, 2012

Junk of the Heart

Latest breaking news: 

Ada sings along to Pumped Up Kicks (Foster the People) AND Junk of the Heart (The Kooks) both of which are in the playlist over there to the right in case you've never heard these songs. Holy mother of God, it's practically too much for my heart to contain.

OK, Moving on.....

The rest of the news is pretty mundane. As my friend Erika put it last Friday morning as we stood in the sun pushing our girls on the swings, "It's kind of nice to not have too many stories to tell right now." I second that sentiment.

Our family has a tendency to see-saw this way. We find ourselves in circumstances that demand us to juggle too much for a while followed by stretches where we do absolutely nothing. We're in a rest period now and it feels nice. Down-time is so necessary to keep our bodies strong, to keep our minds focused and our family connected. March brings with it the first stages of really planning this move to New York so I'll happily embrace this lull while I can get it.

The weekend included a lot of time at the playground and some simple activities at home. Last night I got home from work and Tim remarked that after a day of doing nothing special he actually felt relaxed. I don't thing I've ever heard him say that he felt relaxed. He must not have been lying though - we were all in bed totally zonked by 9:30 last night. Well, at least Tim and I were. I can't say for certain when Ada fell asleep.

So what did we do?

We laughed when we found Ada munching on a stick of butter. Again.


I sighed heavily when I went in to get her from her nap and found her bedroom furniture covered with diaper rash ointment, the worlds most hydrophobic substance ever. Again.


We countered the rain and gusts of wind with some sunny yellow and delicate white tulips.


She babied her stuffed animals.


We baked cookies (oatmeal scotchies).


Ada saw her baby brother for the first time. He looks perfect.There's even a corpus callosum, thank God.


Tim made play-dough


And I spend a lot of my time over the weekend just loving her.


Happy rest phase. We all need it. We all deserve it.