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

Thursday, March 28, 2013

This Whole Motherhood Thing

There are times when being a Mommy is super, crazy fun. They are, I won't lie...pretty select times. Mostly its just a thing...like being a homeowner or being a wife or being a student. Not bad, not amazing...but decent. And sometimes it makes you want to gouge your eyes out with a spoon but that's for another time. Sometimes...there are real, genuine moments of idyllic happiness.

From time to time I wish I felt like motherhood was almost always moving and wonderful but it isn't, at least for me. Sometimes, I wade through Mommy-guilt about that fact. I think maybe "good moms" are the ones who always rave about adoring their children. Maybe even good moms are the ones who pretend they're perma-thrilled with their role. But then, I have a real penchant for honesty. I'd rather even my children know the truth. Being a mommy is really hard, its scary, its exhausting and its heartbreaking. Its not my most favorite thing in life. Its also very personal, and delicious and peppered with some of my most exhilarating feelings of success. I had no idea teaching someone to read would feel like climbing Mount Everest or that I would actually weep over the strenuousness of potty training. I am genuinely ridiculously proud of myself and the child when I cross the finish line on some Mommy-goal like that!!!!

Although mothering has been really feeding and exciting it also feels like a business I am a little loathe to make "my life" even though I am home full-time and admittedly not really a classic career person. Its a sticky business to make the care, feeding and emergence of a tiny handful of fully sentient and self-aware humans your life-work. I want to support them and encourage them and teach them but on some level I kind of want them to wear that label themselves, not me. I try not to encourage myself to "own" them and their development and instead to do all I can to enable them and to make myself my own life-work. I think there's a lovely, deeply personal, delicate piece to being a mother, there's also a lot of room for mismanagement, obsession, and forgetting who you are as a person and your responsibility to continue growing. And that's my soapbox for the morning. Happy Thursday!

Monday, March 25, 2013

City Affection

We were in NYC this weekend, down for a day-jaunt to show Lockbox the sights. So much to see and so much to try to explain. I rambled off and stuttered up a few times when I was trying to specify why New York hits me between the eyes. Lots of it is ubiquitous to any city...energy, cultural diversity, great food, art, sheer beauty. But there are so many little, funny things that are just New York although some of them are hard to describe. 

 The ubiquitous yellow cab. The way pedestrians brazenly and energetically jaywalk anytime and anywhere they please. The rows of stalls in china town with bright heaps of produce side-by-side with the booths selling cheap scarves and knock-off watches. The way people push through almost unfeelingly to cram into a subway car or elevator but also wink at little kids on the sly and help carry strollers up and down subway steps without being asked.

The way cheap black umbrellas accumulate in the gutters after a sudden, gusty rain like a batch of fallen blossoms. The smell of the over-sugared, roasted almonds in the sidewalk carts on a winter day. The glitter that lingers in the street dust the week or two after Chinese New Year. The ultra-chichi ladies with their glamly costumed mini-dogs and the completely wacky, raggy bums in the parks.

 So many, many things....some of them things that sound odd and some obvious but all of them important in some small way.

The first few times I was in the city I didn't like it at all. I felt swept under by the volume, the dirt, the sheer over-done grit of it all and couldn't enjoy it. It was like that the more than once, I'd guess about the first three or four times. New York slyly grew on me when I wasn't looking, the real clincher was when I spent a day walking all over the city with A's cousin, a life-long New Yorker who showed me the city she loved. The affection she felt came shining through and suddenly I could see it too, irreversibly, like one of those Magic Eye puzzles and I wondered why I couldn't see it all along.

So much fun to feel like I own a tiny piece of this city emotionally and to now be able to take my sister along on a tour of what makes me smile here. I hope she understands a little bit of what I'm sharing when I tell her how it feels that ride the Staten Island Ferry in the heat of a July day or stroll the Union Square Farmer's Market and buy rooftop honey from beekeepers living the golden urban life above this pavement. Its a good world, and a strange adventure but one I feel really lucky to be living. 


Thursday, March 21, 2013

Farm Therapy

I firmly believe that a farm day, even in darkest winter, is good for the soul. When we feel low or when things seem stressful or when winter has just been too long...we head for a farm get a little pick-me-up. Farms and farmers have a vibrant steadiness about them, a sense that even though the rest of the world may be doldrums and grey there are still energies and happenings inside the privacy of the barn. 

We saw a mama sheep, tucked into a warm indoor stall with plenty of hay....just waiting to lamb. We'll have to check and see if she has one lamb or twins the next time we're up. The boys were pretty happy just to be lifted over the half door of her stall and peek at her expectantly. We poked around a little more the way you do in barns, dodge sparrows flying in and out the doors heading for the rafters, climb the ladder to the haymow and then come back down backwards, open the feed bins and peer in at the big mounds of grain pellets. All good things.

We bought milk, piled on a few cartons of eggs, took an apple each for snacking, we oggled yogurt (and I promised myself I'd make some) and I talked them out of chocolate milk. We noticed a pile of freshly washed spiles in the dairy, read a brochure about the expensive and select maple syrup program they're running and smugly remembered our time up north at my parents house tapping trees with Big Grandpa. 

And after paying for our goods we wandered off through the snow and mud puddles to explore the door of the open greenhouse. So lovely. Greenhouses, farms, Panera Bread. My survival techniques. I think we need to hit up another one sometime very soon. There is something so very healing about the green and alive. I worked in a greenhouse for a little while and even thought I largely did just grunt work, I LOVED it. I still think about that business sometimes and wonder if they are still running. Going to "work" in the middle of January and spending all day trimming blooming geraniums and watering seedlings is a wonderful way to spend your time.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Mango Mania!

Its mango season, yo. Such a great way to celebrate the first day of spring! The big red and green mangoes are alright but my favorites (the ones I wait all year for because they're still blessedly seasonal) are the little, golden ataulfo mangoes. I buy them by the case and A balances them in long lines on all our shelves and windowsills, an ever-ripening  line.  Then one day the first one is ripe and they begin to pile down on us ripely ,we eat them end to end, slicing off the two cheeks and then gnawing all of the leftover flesh from the large seed in the middle.

I have many plans. There will be cardamom lassis, broiled mango halves a silken mango pudding and a saffron colored mango salsa over wild salmon. YUM.

The ataulfo mango is different from the standard mango on a couple of points. If selected properly they are sweeter, the color is richer and so is the depth of flavor. You get none of the stringy fiber in your teeth with these babies, the flesh is soft and melty, no ropy bits to be found. The pit is also more slender so even though the fruits are smaller the proportion of meat to seed is greater.

Having a naturalist in the house is contagious. We were eating one over breakfast one minute and the next thing I knew we were dissecting the seed and examining the embryonic sprout end vs the stem end and letting the boys touch the papery brown skin. Its living on the window sill now in a tiny metal pot of water. Google tells me I have good odds of growing a mango tree! I'm for that.
 Must be time to buy another case.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sister Paint

Lockbox and I together are a little combustive. I don't mean that we conflict but more that like a combustive engine we are a positively explosive combo. The two of us here in the house means that suddenly we're caught up on the washing, planning art projects, starting new books with the boys and randomly busting open cans of wall paint! Huzzah!

The other night when we were sitting around together, plotting the final hours before A came home and what still needed to be finished...we got the urge to paint. With no real warning we found ourselves in the dining room with paint and brushes, screeching all the furniture to the center of the room and skipping the whole taping off the edges part. Bam. The dining room is that beautiful Swedish grey I've been contemplating. I went with the darker color that I wasn't sure I was brave enough to try and we repainted all the gloss white trim to contrast.

I love it.

Lockbox is galvanizing for me. She tells me to go ahead and do the things I am bashfully considering and then volunteers to hold the ladder.

Love sisters.


Monday, March 18, 2013

Bitter Pre-Spring

The wind is bitter today. I just went and got a sweatshirt out and am downing cups of tea end to end  to keep warm. Lockbox and I are spending lots of time huddled together, building mood boards for home decor to the tinkling accompaniment of Pandora. The boys keep holing up in their bedroom listening to endless stories on cd under fuzzy blanket tents strung from the bunk bed to the radiator. Indoor weather.

I didn't plant any peas for St. Patty's Day. It wasn't the year. And by the time I thought of it it was dark and I was in my pajamas standing at the kitchen sink, staring out past the porch light at the bitter, brown garden with a snug decaf latte in my hand. Somehow there wasn't a lot of appeal. The snowdrops and the witch hazel are going to have to suffice for now. We're thumbing through the garden books, holding on for warmer temps and planting more things in little mini-greenhouses made from old produce boxes and plotting what we'll do later when spring pops by again. (Because it will!)

Instead of Spring I am thinking to spend some time thinking about painting again. Maybe it is time to attack marketing again? Am  finding it hard to be motivated about these things. I believe lots of lies: "I am not able to handle numbers and promotion and other such technicalities. This will all be very boring. It is all too much work. I will die!!!!" Lies can't win though. Time to grease up my elbow and order some business cards and scope out some local art shows to join for the spring.

Also on the agenda: Curing Pom's eczema, which gets worse by the hour. I harvested some leaves from my houseplants this morning and made some diy aloe vera gel for ointment. Am also eliminating dairy in his diet and going to feeding him some evening primrose oil, fish oil and a little powdered probiotic. Zam! Eczema doesn't know who its messin' with. Mama means business! I'm sick of this scabby, rashy, painful, itchy mess. Poor little babe has enough goin' on with six teeth in his head already at the age of 10 months.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Sick and Reminiscing

We are all laying low today. We were hit with a wallop of illness on our way back home and it has only gathered strength  in the last day or so. Today was pajama, movies on the couch, bottomless cups of tea kind of day. Lots of sleeping, a little brow wiping, and lots of low energy mass lethargy.

In our season of convelesence I thought I'd share some of the warm little moments from our wild trip back to Michigan Daddy-less. Lots of great moments, special Northern beauty, great family and a full stock of happiness.  This is Michigan in March.

I think I'll go turn on the kettle again and take another nap. The baby has gone back to sleep on my lap and there are fluffy clouds floating in teh blue sky that I can watch out my bedroom window if I angle the right way on my bed. Survival. Its a survival game.