"She refused to be bored, chiefly because she wasn't boring." Zelda Fitzgerald

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Art Peek

So, have I ever told you all how very, very important I think it is for mommies to have alone time, time with good friends, time with people who inspire, time to create something of beauty, time away from their dear little ones. Of course, there's nothing so very particular to mommyhood that means a given woman or human being for that matter, needs these things except for the fact that motherhood somehow carries with it the suggestion of martyrdom. A good mommy is a doormat for her husband her children...she pushes her needs deep, deep down to her toes and pours herself out for those she loves. While on some level this does just happen, and on some level its even good and to be admired and suggested....on another level it is kind of sick and insidious. And I assert that mommies who are having these deep human needs for specific kinds of "time" in their lives are able to be better mommies for it.

As you all know, my own personal time at the moment is my art group that I'm painting with once a week. I cannot even tell you how helpful, wholesome, healing, and fabulously empowering this new thing has been for me. Some weeks I feel like the only truly worthwhile thing I got done was painting at my group. That I came away with my soul a few notches fuller and I know that there are countless Tuesdays now when I've left with more stamina, resources and bounce in my step as a mother to boot.

One of my artist friends, a fellow mommy who first invited be to be a part of the art group, recently quipped:
  "I am fortunate, there is no doubt.  I don't have to make money at art right now, yet I have to make art, I simply have to.  I make time to make art.  I think a widespread obsession with raising kids well is not such a bad thing.  However, to raise healthy children it's important NOT to obsess about their every moment; growing up for any person means learning that the universe does not revolve around oneself. I believe it's better for my kids to come along on my adventures than to BE my adventure.  I rather think my children benefit from knowing that I have a creative life that is nearly as much a priority as they are.  It is good for a child, or anyone really, to learn about delayed gratification!  That is why I don't feel guilty for saying, 'Love, I will get you more juice in ten more minutes, once I have gotten this bit just the way I want it.'"
Yes. Yes. Yes. That...is what I mean.

All that to say, find a way to feed your deepest you, even if (or maybe even especially if) you're a mommy. And if you're curious about my group...here's a tiny peek at today.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Three Months and Counting!!

Our little Nib is three whole months old now. He's working hard at rolling over anytime he finds himself on a flat surface, grabbing my skirt if I sweep past within fingertip range, and putting everything (including his whole fist) in his mouth non-stop. He's a super social little guy, loves people and smiles easily. We've finally started getting those first few giggles from him which are unspeakably delightful although I  feel like I'm still waiting for a full out belly laugh chortle session. He's still extremely mellow...in bed at night and around the house during the day he's as non-invasive as I can imagine a baby being. I'm still not sure exactly where he came from.

In addition to Nib's third monthiversary, we also had one last trip to the farm today with our visiting cousins. Penny and the girls have been really, really fun to have as house guests and I have to say that even though there are a million things I wish we could have had time for, having Penny here when I moved was an amazing sanity saver. I owe her about a million times over now for the late night parenting talks, photo sessions, babysitting swaps, endless box unpacking, manic meal making and a host of other memorable lifesavers. I have no idea how I would have pulled off the move without her. I feel like a total wimp for being that weak on my own but, as I mentioned recently....it takes a village, right?

Is there anything cuter than very small people in the lush grass next a New England stone wall? 
I'm not sure. 


Friday, August 27, 2010

Garden Excavation

Tomorrow morning A will roust us all out of bed early and we'll head down to our local U-Haul pick up station and collect our cargo van. Then we're off to the old apartment to spend the day digging plants, bundling them into um....plastic grocery sacks? (I haven't any better ideas) and then hauling them in variously layered loads back to our new house.

I was really supposed to carve a "holding bed" for them out of the lawn but instead I'm going to hack it out in two minutes and pretend that was the plan while A stands there looking dubious and our children roll in the freely sprinkling topsoil. I expect to be one big filthy family from top to toe by tomorrow bedtime. Good thing I bought a fingernail brush earlier this week, eh?

I have made a list of all the plants I want to dig and even though its a list of (lemme check)......a list of 30 plants, but truly, that's not terribly daunting, is it? [*note: if you disagree this is the spot in the dialogue where you lie] A is planning to spend the entire day digging plants and hauling and hauling and hauling.

I on the other hand am glibly planning to dig them all in the morning, have a jolly lunch together and then go and do something clever and fun that we haven't though of yet! I like optimism.

One last fond goodbye to the old garden of yore.....

And P.S.

While we're on the subject of gardens and home decorating...we were perpetually thinking about home decorating, right? Right. Anywho. I am in mad, mad love with this very expensive rug. Blast you Anthro.


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Back in the Saddle

I am very full of heart tonight. How could I not be? Really, sitting here in the cricketing evening (yes there are crickets in our part of the small city we've moved to) listening to the wind in the maples behind our house I feel so many shades of "good" that its preposterous to be trying to enumerate really. The keyboard is just as springy as I remember, the lovely, zippy Internet so full of inspiration, friends and brilliance and the house, this lovely, dreamy house...every inch my hopes come to life. Its true that there's no bathroom on the whole first floor, and yes there's some amazing acoustic tile and faux wood paneling and heaven knows the master bedroom entry floor could hardly be creakier....but I do love it. There are wood floors, there's a fireplace, windows everywhere you turn, a clotheline pulley, an old apple tree, some glass door knobs, radiators, and all kinds of fabulous little bits that I'm still discovering.
Can you believe this cool window crank on my kitchen sink window?
And check out this cool old clock they left....am swoony over it.

A nun from next door (there are nuns next door!) stopped by to beam at the children and greet us energetically and made sure that we knew were were welcome to come over anytime. The neighbor lent us forks for our first meal at the house, we've had three plates of welcoming cookies and two deliveries of homegrown tomatoes and something like 10-12 visits with people from the surrounding houses, all grinning away and telling us to knock on their doors if we needed anything. The garbage men have been past and taken away the first load of packing paper and boxes, we've found the flour and the canned peaches and our collection of silverware although admittedly we have no silverware tray at the moment. I have cooked real food for three days running now and we're starting to think about finding some of the laundry baskets and hoping one of the dressers I keep trolling Craigslist for will materialize so we can start putting clean clothes away again and stop living out of our suitcases.
This is just about how great life is at the moment.

It is a bit absurdly chaotic still but, really...every time another neighbor rings our doorbell or we're pulling our hair out over all the boxes and we go outdoors and watch the kids tumbling around in the grass of our very own, generous lawn....I feel painfully, stunningly lucky. I can't believe this is me! I feel like I'm living in a movie script or like I've wandered into an episode from Mr. Rogers. How in the world does this sort of thing really happen to people, least of all me! I feel a little dizzy from the fabulousness.
The Big Rock in our backyard. (with a load of cousins on it)

There are so many thousands of little delicious bits about our new house to share with you all that I am sure the introduction will stretch out for some time but, tonight I especially want to share with you the lovely wood floors we uncovered when we took off the amazingly nasty blue carpet that was EVERYWHERE in many of the rooms.

The men who ripped it out for me said that that guessed it was at least 30 years old. My shots somehow look a lot more rosy than it really did.

 There were dark grey trails where the main traffic patterns had been. It was positively delirious to see the beautiful wood emerge from under all of that and watch as it became more and more alive as it was swept and then washed.

I knew it was going to be stunning.
Our tree hydrangea....so pretty!
The basement door.

Of course the rooms are mostly a jumble of boxes and assorted homeless items with the occasional bushy haired child thrown wildly in for good measure but, eventually here I will be able to do a more personal introduction to the particular spaces we're living in these days. I am already dreaming of paint!


Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Am just posting tonight, to let you all know that I am off on a little bloggy vacation for a while in order to create some variation on sanity while moving. Think of me as you watch this space and remember me and all my boxes and the whirl of small children flying through and around said boxes! I'll be back in a week!


Monday, August 16, 2010

Intergenerational Parenting

You know that old saying about how it "takes a village to raise a child?" I have always had mixed feelings. I mean, really...people use it to say that somehow parenting their child is everyone's business and for real, how reasonable is that in some ways. It feels lightly invasive (everyone should be all up in my parental business) and also a bit helpless  (I can't parent my own anyhow...nobody can!). And although I really like people and I'm super borderline, on the Myers-Briggs scale I am an introvert. For folks like me, the idea of parenting posing as the ultimate group project (Man, did I hate those in school!) is a little headache producing. Blech. Can I just go off in my own little corner now?
A's Mom with my neice

Yes, except that there's something to it! Of course we all are responsible for our own families and sometimes its really great to be able to make your own choices about your children's upbringing, there is great comfort and sometimes even brilliant wisdom in the input of other people. Today, I'm vouching especially for the wisdom of the older crowd.

When I was growing up I lived most of my young childhood a ways away from my grandparents but, I was raised by a mom who really cared deeply about inter-generational interaction. My parents weren't perfect but they were spot on about some things. This is one of those things that I so appreciate.
A's uncle with Ru and my other neice

Even though my grandparents were far away, I had a fair amount of time with them (my parents made visits, phone calls from a very early age, letter writing and lots and lots of photo viewing a big priority) and also lots of great time with psuedo-grandparent types who went to our church, lived in our neighborhood or were friends of the family in some other way.

I am saddened by how much I see current society segregated by age and I am cheered by the fact that although its weird to mix the generations in a social setting, when I initiate on behalf of my children or myself, people are almost always very receptive. Yes, and I have three sets of incredibly caring, and involved grandparents, despite the fact that my children are also far away. That's a pretty lucky break to begin with. Having living grandparents is in no way a given.
A's dad, wedged in our armchair with three of his grandkids

My painting group ladies are half young moms in my own stage of life and half older generation mentor types who spend precious minutes every week talking earnestly to my children about whatever crosses their little minds and tickling my baby under his chin to watch him smile. We also rub shoulders with a couple of neighbors and there are of course several warm grandparent types at our church that wink at our boys and ruffle their hair every time we see them. Our babysitters are also both women who have raised their own little ones and are now pouring a bit of themselves into my babies.

When older folks love on my kids and "help me raise them" I am amazed at how much more I trust their opinions, enjoy their company and am warmed and encouraged by their very non-judgmental attitudes. They have done it all, come up with brilliant plans for keeping pacifiers in and lost their minds during the teething phase and told kids things no mother should ever speak out loud. Such is life. And their children have all grown up, they have a little distance on the all consuming brain-sucking child rearing bit and are able to chuckle about many of the catastrophes they survived. Oh how I love that!
Our wonderful neighbor, reading with Ru after we had her over to dinner
I love the old fashioned tips older folks have, the way they help my little ones learn to speak quietly, move gently and listen more carefully, I love that they think my no-t.v. way of life is fabulous, I love the way the very positive and strengthening attitude they have about even the childhood conundrums they haven't got any solutions for, I love how they encourage my children to be respectful and mannerly, I love that they really appreciate a kid just being a kid, I love that they don't mind sticky fingers, that they know babytalk and big-boy elitism and can move smoothly between them and I love that they're available wherever I'll end up. My own parents and A's are a special form of precious but, folks of their generation and beyond are a never to be overlooked bonus. There are few other things I want for my children relationally  than an inter-generational ease, and a genuine desire to connect to and understand people of varying ages. Try it out, you might find it as buoying as I do.

I dare you to adopt a few grandmas!


Thursday, August 12, 2010


We were up at the farm this week again (as we are every week) and I was reminded of a special obsession that I have and will hopefully finally get to live out. We were sent to a new field we've never visited to pick cherry tomatoes (Sun Golds, my favorite ever by the way!) and we accidentally stumbled on the farmer's bee hives in all their glowy white glory, humming away by the stone wall, not far from the side gate. For years now I have dreamed of keeping honey bees and in the new house we will finally have a yard of our own and enough space to make my dream a reality.

This afternoon we'll be going over to our new house with A's family who are visiting and taking lots of pictures. I will be looking at the house with lots of thoughts in mind (is there room for my giant dresser? where to set up the sewing machine...or can I set up both of them? where could we wedge a dishwasher into the kitchen...etc. etc. ). There is no real end to this sort cozy, nest feathering train of thought. But in the yard....I'm going to be dreaming about where to put the bees.

I promise to update on this topic once the bees have been ordered and a location settled upon.

Believe it or not...that is how you get honeybees these days. You order them. In winter, so that you can get them in the mail in a humming, alive package in the spring. I cannot wait! I am dreaming of ridiculous amounts of homemade baklava with our first honey and little pots of honey butter for spreading on winter loaves, hot out of the oven. Christmas presents all round? I cannot wait!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Living in Color

I like Calvin and Hobbes...and somehow...even though Calvin's dad makes his usual incredibly confusing muddle of the topic....there's something to this idea. I somehow feel a little like color was invented in very recent history. Its hard to imagine the turn of the century and the 20-30 years afterwards being reliably "real" somehow because I see it all in these somewhat less lively looking black and white photography. People feel like sketches, not real humans and it somehow really shocked, emotionally moved and deeply touched me to see this little series of photos that The Library of Congress has put up on Flikr....Rare Color Photographs of The Great Depression Era.

The people feel heart-breakingly real....alive...and somehow painfully interrupted and touchable. Its very core shaking especially in the midst of  reading The Grapes of Wrath. (We're nearing the end) I feel in some small way from looking through the photos that the people still are in some vague sense. They don't feel like someone's ancestor...they feel like themselves: mothers and fathers and young women and little boys with messy hair. There's something very gritty and gutpunching about it for me.

I am also impressed by the true formality of the era in small ways. The dresses that the black field workers are wearing look like church clothes to my modern eye. Very interesting to see female mechanics working with make-up, pretty scarves on their hair and just so touches.

Here's a link the whole shebang on Flikr and if you have less time in your life, here's a more touching smaller selection of them, singled out by ABC