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

Friday, December 16, 2011

Poetry Friday: A Hand-me-down Poem

Happy Poetry Friday all! I was out shopping today, not Christmas shopping, although I have been doing that too lately of course. I was routine clothes shopping...for Nib. I thought naively that third time around I'd basically never have to buy anything kid-related. The thing I didn't think about is that even though clothes look fine the third time around they often still won't quite fill the roll. So, here I am with a big bag of new clothing items that need putting away and a poem about the experience to boot! Bonus.

There are certain things you just don't think about.

Hand-me-down Caveats

My third son is walking his toddler years
In his brother's shoes, and jeans and t-shirts
I have carefully stored them in clear plastic boxes
A virtual igloo of plenty teetering in the basement
There are labels with Sharpie size and season notes
And each item has been folded into it's cubic home.
I felt so proud and frugal pulling out his inheritance
Remembering each special romper set and tiny tie.
Now I watch him trying to climb the stairs in a pair of
Well-loved jeans, the ones his brother wore to the zoo.
And they slump to his knees with every step he takes
No amount of sentimental frugality can deny
The new knowledge I have that elastic waistbands,
Run through the dryer a few thousand times will quit
And hang slack: tired of covering a slew of diapers
And being yanked hurriedly on in cold winter mornings.
It is not as simple as making sure the knees are stain-free
And the message on the front not peeling off or cracked.
The zippers must still slide up and stay there without pins.
There must not be gum hiding in the pockets of jackets
And the elastic must be fresh and snappy, still up to the job
Of tightly hugging a wee chubby waist.


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Letting Go On My 31st

I am not sure exactly what to say about my birthday this year. I love birthdays. I love celebrations and milestones and accomplishment. I love the concept of aging and reject our culture's adoration of the young and the new. I know that true celebrating is done in little ways with simple expressions of love. But, there's no real denying that sometimes life is still hard and sometimes birthdays aren't as warm as you hope they will be.

We're planning a homebirth for this fourth baby, as we have for all three of our children and have successfully experienced twice. Losing our much-loved midwife and our insurance policy changing to specifically exclude homebirths have meant some serious re-shuffling to orient ourselves to some vague new plan. We've been interviewing midwives and trying to narrow it down to just the right provider and I had just finally made my first appointment scheduled to happen yesterday, on my birthday when A told me to cancel it because of insurance snaffoos. Am feeling so frustrated so down and so upset. Tara Wagner's recent writing over at her blog, Organic Sister about her 30th birthday is really hitting home. I'm not entering a new decade, I'm just letting go of things. I hate living up-in-the-air and not being sure what will happen. Pregnancy makes me irrationally emotional and desperate for settled, carefully pre-arranged plans. I have so little buffer in my head for waiting or throwing out the plan or not having things figured out....and it's Christmas and it's my birthday and I was doing so well! Argh! I feel so peeved about this whole prenatal-care mess falling right in the middle of my smoothly flowing holiday plans. Darn it! Am trying to figure out how to stop crying and just find a way to let go of what I had planned and expected and hoped and wanted and accept whatever mysterious thing actually is instead. So. Dang. Hard.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Less is More, It Just Is.

Tonight A and I are going out for the night, just the two of us, our last date night alone before the zaniness of family travel and other celebratory activities hit us full in the chest. I'm not sure if that's what's doing it or if is intention to focus on what matters in the middle of this holiday season, or even just new thinking about the coming excitement of New Year's Resolutions and the clean slate that is a crispy new January.

Suddenly I'm thinking about all the new toys and sweets and "stuff" we'll be bringing home for our little ones and I'm feeling the unstoppable urge to purge. Time to go wildly through our goods and take boat loads of things to Goodwill! Time to create empty, clean spaces! Time to set things in order in our house so that we return from Michigan to a calming space instead of insanity!

I am remembering that the things children like best are the simple ones....the ones that don't cost much or anything at all. Cookie cutters, shiny pebbles, string, the wrapping paper...you know. Am off to sort the playroom, to vacuum all the corners and to take bags of stuff, stuff, stuff to the trunk of our van for a thrift shop drop-off.

Less is more. It just is.
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Monday, December 12, 2011

Holiday Madness Kept Sane

Still festivizing our way along over here. I am doing quite well with my list of To Do items. Managing to be productive and yet pragmatic. Checking things off the list both because they don't matter after all and because I am accomplishing. Am feeling fairly balanced and clear-minded.

Thank you to our rector and his wife for their wise talk about holiday preparation and the importance of this sort of thinking! I do love stepping into something with the right mindset, even if it is sort of by accident. Last year I was pretty stressed out about the holidays and vowed that I would start shopping in July and take our Christmas card photo in October...etc. I didn't do any of that (not that it is a bad plan) but I still feel okay. I do think that planning ahead is good and that it helps...it also helps to plan to be happy and to have a willing-to-let-go attitude about certain things.

Today we made sugar cookies, I finished addressing most all of the Christmas cards and I started compiling the packing list I'll need to wrap my mind around sometime next week. Anyone have any genius tips for holiday travel as a family? We will be driving 14 hours and then some to Michigan with all the Christmas gifts and what-not....am open to any and all suggestions!

Next on my agenda is beginning the wrapping, gift inventory to be sure I've got everything and a little more elving work with the boys. Buzz, buzz, buzz!!!!
There is no end to the bustle....unless you're a toddler and then you just make spots for bustle-ending and crash as-needed. :)

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Friday, December 9, 2011

Poetry Friday: Cookie Season Verse

Happy Poetry Friday everybody! It's been an age since I celebrated, eh? I have been feeling poem-dry and a little intimidated, plus Friday has a way of casting me deep into "who cares anymore!" mode. Heh heh. Ah the weekend, consumer of my motivation.

I am starting to think about New Years Resolutions and all the they entail, the idea of kicking your own butt back into shape and getting back on all the horses that bucked you recently. So, yeah...I'm back poets and poetry lovers. Poetry Friday must not be ditched. I have to be strong and keep at it. Sometimes I will just write crap. This is life. But keeping on and still writing is the the key to ever turning out good stuff. In the next couple of weeks I hope to compile and number all the poetry I've written this year as a result of this project and if that's not motivation, I don't know what is! Hooray for having output!

I am neck-deep in cookie baking right now, dough and flour from floor to ceiling, I swear it! So, it is time to do some cookie poetry. I bake a lot of cookies during the holidays. It is one of the strange projects I have invented for myself which admittedly creates a lot of work but also gives me a huge amount of satisfaction. A thinks I'm insane. I might be insane but I do bake anyway. :) I bake about 20 different varieties every year and every November I sit down and analyze the list from last year and cross out cookies that were just "meh" instead of amazing and add back anything from previous years that is getting a lot of fond remembering and then I go trolling for new recipes to add. This year I decided to make baklava, something I've made and enjoyed before but never at Christmas.... and then a poem came with it.

Baklava in Advent

I  wrote "baklava" down on the cookie list
It sounded strange but delicious to me,
Sandwiched between the gingerbread men
And sugar cookies iced with sprinkles.
I brush butter, sprinkle spiced nuts and
Gently coax the butterfly wing dough
Into softly fluted layers, rich with scent.
I preheat the oven and remember visiting
The sun-baked land of the Christmas Child.
I remember the heavy pressing heat in Galilee,
Arid country shattered and dusty like pastry.
There was a fervent squawking of hawkers
Selling whatnots in the streets of Jerusalem,
Over-laced with honey and spices drifting up
From the tented market stalls below our hotel.
I slide the finished pan into the waves of heat
Squinting to see through the invisible billows.
And upstairs, amid the squawking of my children
I address a Christmas card to my cousin in Israel
And wonder to myself, how much postage
It will require to send our family photo to that
Exotic port, home of honey and warmed spices,
Birth place of my baklava and my God.

Please do realize that I am in no way asserting that Israel is the birthplace of baklava, just that The Middle East is. I am no sort of expert on the origin of foods and this particular one is a source of great contention among peoples of various Cradle of Civilization nations.

Have a poem you want to share, either one you wrote or one you admire that another author created? You can go share too but posting a link in the comments of today's host for Poetry Friday: Robyn Hood. Happy weekend everyone!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Midwives, Past and Present

Just trying to psyche myself up to call the midwife we think we've finally picked after a few weeks of interviews and appointment setting. I am so weary from all of it. I really hate interviewing, selecting things and the whole lead-up that comes before actually doing things. I also hate calling people on the phone. Ack! I am however, really looking forward to the part where I actually have a caregiver and we can start on genuine prenatal appointments.
My wonderful previous midwife, Martha....checking Nib out post-delivery.
After every interview we'd load all the kids back in the car and start the drive home, discussing the candidate midwife and what we thought of her and compiling a verbal pro and con list. And I'd sit there thinking in the resulting silence after we'd finished..."Crap. I miss Martha. (my old midwife) " Sometimes change sucks. When it comes right down to it I like the familiar and the comforting, those I already know and the previous good compared with the blank future full of "possibles." I hope Martha is enjoying her sabbatical time away in California, I am sending her a long chain of love over the mountains and the plains, I hope she knows she has been a great inspiration and comfort to me in labor and pregnancy and life. I hope she is getting some good, restful care herself now, the caregivers of the world so often need that kind of love themselves. And here's hoping that the new midwife ends up being just exactly the right person for the job.
Martha, does Nib's newborn exam and narrates for big brothers.
I am 14 weeks now, with just my pinky toes over the 2nd trimester line, not really "showing" in any impressive way and still wearing normal clothes just no longer feeling sick to my stomach. I am really looking forward to feeling the baby move and hearing the little heartbeat.
This is what I look like these days, not much belly to show yet which is just fine with me.
Our homebirth midwife used a fetoscope instead of a Doppler to listen to the heartbeat which meant that it was a much trickier endeavour to pick up the sound of the heart, the fetoscope, not being an electronic, amplified instrument is much more subtle, like a slightly exaggerated stethoscope. This means the heartbeat for the fetoscope served homebirth patient is a little later experience, Martha, my last midwife was a wizard with hers and could hear the heartbeat towards the end of the 1st trimester but I could never pick it out myself until the 2nd and not very solidly until the 3rd.
Dee testing out the fetoscope on his puzzled, kid brother's head. Can you hear brains?
My friend Nutmeg gave us her fetoscope so that we have one for trying out and practicing with at home. I have been giving it a try lately but so far I can't pick up anything but my own breathing and heartbeat. I am no Martha. :) Looking forward to hearing that little galloping sound sometime soon.
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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Slow Day For What Ails You

I planned to be out doing things together today, you know, madly checking things off The Great Holiday To Do List, and instead we woke up to a morning with Nib feeling poorly and Ru is coughing.

So, we read extra books, had a fire in the fireplace, snuggled more and got started on our homemade Christmas gifts. There are always a few more cookies to bake and a few more silly jokes to tell grandma over the phone and it turned out to be drizzly, rainy day anyhow.

Sometimes I think God intervenes and forces a break when we are too busy to realize that it is a good idea ourselves.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Bells, Whistles and Chit-Chat

The final bars of the "Hallelujah" c...
Handel's Messiah, original manuscript. Image via Wikipedia,
This morning when we woke up there was a misty fog all over our neighborhood. Even though it is December we are really still having late fall weather. I left Michigan years ago now but I still expect winter once December begins and seeing my lawn for so long and leaving the house in a hoodie seem really out of place, however handy. The leaves are all down now, except for a few stubborn clusters of oak leaves and the shriveled bits of Japanese maple leaves that cling so long. The neighbors are all starting to wrap up the raking and I'm trying to remember to get the gutters cleaned.

The boys and I are doing bits here and there to get ready for Christmas. We've been making paper chains to decorate all our doorways room-to-room in the house, we had a gingerbread house party with friends and we're  all stocked up on flour and sugar in preparation for the big mess of cookies we plan to start churning out.

Nib is a small wordy man these days. We went to a Messiah sing-a-long last night and he was a little too vocal to be in the auditorium during the solos so I ducked in and out with him; when the nice loud, grand choruses were being sung we'd appear at the back and then as soon as they ended we'd adjourn to the lobby while A and big brothers stayed in their seats inside. During our many intermissions we had a long word tour together. He walked around the lobby telling me all the words he knows: "Tree." (pointing to the Christmas tree), "Fah-er" (pointing to the irises in a Van Gogh print on the wall), "Wah-er" (indicating the fountain), "Tree." (the potted ficus near the door) etc..etc..etc. Such fun to hear a recitation of his current vocab list and see his earnest insistence about being taken seriously. Watching a human learn to speak is great fun.

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Celebration to Celebration!

This is how Mama gets things done!
Well, I survived being the mom on Thanksgiving. Actually, to be perfectly honest, I so much more than survived that it is a little bit pale to even call it "surviving." The meal was a grand success. The food was fine, nothing I personally cooked was outstanding (although props to A on his tiramisu cake!), just good..but the company was warm, the house was bustling and the vibes were very, very good.
A's beautiful rolls, rising.

Nib in the midst of the glowing scene.
I had several grand moments in the party when an individual clasped my hand between two of theirs and sincerely thanked me for hosting them. It doesn't get a whole lot better than that. I was a very happy girl and I sailed out of the event with sparkly visions of all the parties I want to have in the future. It was a pretty great note to begin Christmas season on.

And so here we are, in Advent...the first candle in our Advent circle is flickering away at mealtimes and we're singing, "O Come, O Come Emmanuel" with great vim and vigor. We cut our Christmas tree last night and hauled in and erected the largest Tenenbaum that could possibly be squeezed into our living room. The whole house smells like that wonderful tangy, warm scent of fresh tree and the corner the tree is bursting out of is encroaching mightily on the nearby doorway.

The boys had the first chocolates from their Advent calendars this morning and all the Christmas/winter books are out of storage and stacked heaping in the holiday basket next to the big reading chair. I foresee many cozy afternoons and evenings in front of the fireplace in our future! Next up, decorating the mantle! I need to get out in the countryside with my clippers and hunt up winterberry branches and evergreen boughs. Maybe tomorrow!

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