The Wink is a labor of love, occasional source of ire and constantly influenced by the toddlywinks in my life- my daughters. There's also the HunkyWink. You'll read all about them as The Wink unfolds. Please feel free to wink back!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Chasing Perfection

Come find me here!

It's for keeps :)

++++++++++++++++



The radio was playing a song from I knew from home, a download of Sean's that the girls had taken to.

I found God on the corner of First and Amistad.

Don't worry, this isn't a post about religion, you won't find those here. This is about tapping into the childhood belief in perfection. This singer's voice is as close to it for me as it gets. I think it comes from the presence of it in the earliest months with two babies. Holding them in my arms and dancing, his voice wrapping us in a place that nothing existed but petal-soft skin, tickling tendrils and a sense of having accomplished the impossible. Rapture.

Driving down the road with that voice filling the car and my babies elsewhere, I found myself holding my breath wishing for perfection. I tried to will away the mistress countdown all too present in the news, I tried to make the ripples of another work day bleeding into family time fade away, I imagined no lines on my face, a morning of waking up and looking better than the day before, of not faltering.

I wasn't listening to the lyrics, just letting the texture of the singing take me back to summer days with nothing on my mind but the next feeding, no dashed hopes, no demands for more than I felt I had to give. A stop sign broke my reverie and I wondered if it has been me demanding more, judging my todays as less than my yesterdays for something that has nothing to do with daughters, or if it is my daughters surging forward in an inevitable gallop to autonomy. Does this really happen now?

How cruel for the demands of work and the tolls of time to play out at their most potent yet at just the moment when I wish I could feel vibrant and present. Sean calls to me, part dutiful seduction to keep me from the demons lapping at my feet, part habit of best friend and partner wanting more. It is a blessing and a curse as I feel one more conflict.

And yet, as I write, I feel the ripples of today— a morning snowman romp, gingerbread cookie decorating, kissing in the kitchen, family dinner. A cuddle with my sweet Briar, as unable to fall asleep as I am, stroking my face and me hers, and then walking her to listen to Sean and the boys play. Laughing as Ave pounded a glass of milk and Sean tousled her hair calling her, my little Amanda Magee." Nursing Fin in the sandbox as more snow fell.

I realize that I live life unedited, each moment aware of choppiness and grit, but just hours later, the reel running in my memory is the perfection I've chased. No more running for this day, tomorrow may bring another pursuit , but tonight I'll wrap myself in the perfection I've found.




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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Shuffles Evermore

She is all blessing, all the more so for how often I forget and remember anew.
Wrinkles over a nose that carries me back, reflections of ages I remember. Echoes of me, but better.
Her eyes defy description, wide and luminous one moment, sly and bottomless the next.
Her mouth a riddle, little dimples on either side and lips that purse and pucker, grin and scowl.
The sounds of her voice cast a robust shadow from throaty to thunderous and the feel of her skin on mine sends whispers to core. Whether nursing or scrapping, her touch resurrects the oneness of pregnancy, toes fluttering to hands over my belly, new beginnings and love-at-first-sight.

I don't know if this is the gift of being the last one, or if it is her. My Finley.

Tonight I sat on the floor after changing her diaper, her sisters were scampering about as Fin walked slowly toward the hall. Her pjs, a striped footy number that Briar picked out, was a little big, the legs bunching at her ankles and the sleeves hanging a bit too far. Her steps were a shuffles, little butt waggling, to keep up or push forward, it was hard to tell. Her pig tails were crooked, curls flipping this way and that. I watched her little hands stretch wide as she considered her next step.

This will be over so fast. No more footed pjs, no more pig tails or diapers. The certainty of it pulled at me and then she shuffled a step. And then another, and another. Still once again, I watched her, then she turned and smiled at me. She held my gaze for quite some time and then nodded.

Those shuffles, little outstretched fingers and crooked ringlets slipped inside, carrying the creak of a floorboard and shine of the hallway light. They're with me. Evermore.





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Thursday, October 29, 2009

So proud of you, *baby*

Have you ever watched your child and very nearly exploded with the force of your pride? Weeks pass when that's an hourly thing, other times it catches me off guard and I reel from the potency of it. I can honestly say it's one of the sweetest gifts I have found as a parent. Watching— no ownership, no jealousy, just an all-consuming need to multiply the celebration, to unfurl each ribbon of triumph and alert every tower, ensuring that sirens and applause enough attend the momentous event.

Have you ever watched someone else's child do something that deserves a cheer? Scaling a ladder or scrawling a name in dirt with a gnarly branch? I try not to judge, try not to compensate, but every once in a while I falter. I overstep or assume a role that is not mine. I wonder sometimes if I'd be grateful if someone did that for me, but a part of me knows that in every facet of gratitude there would be equal parts resentment. I don't want you celebrating my child in my stead because it means I have failed. I want you celebrating with me.

What about when there isn't one? A missing parent that you think should be seeing this? Busting with the wonder of it all?

His hands were moving, strong fingers and solid palms, keeping rhythm with the music. One hand using a shaker, the other a tambourine. I watched as his head moved along to the melody, eyes focused and mouth set in a line of concentration with bits of enjoyment lapping at the edges. I thought, "Did he know he'd do this? Did he know behind the scrapping and the chirping he had this?"

I lost myself in the concentration on his face and the delight in his eyes. My chest threatened to burst as I remembered the shapes of fingers, the tiny infant digits, the plump toddler fingers, and the budding big girl hands clasping pencils. Every iteration as piercing as the last, the babies I knew growing evermore distant and yet never really leaving.

He's far from a baby, his accomplishments soar far beyond this playing of songs with friends, and yet as I watch him, knowing him*, I am overcome with thinking that this should be seen. Celebrated. His dad is gone, but his entitlement to celebration is no less. This man, the boy still inside, he deserves to send fissures through the heart of a grown man, to steal breath with the man he has become.

I ache for what isn't being seen and feel privileged for being here to feel that sensation of awe. He is not my son and his dad is not a man I can bring to the room, but as sure as I am proud of my girls, I am proud of him and confident in what his dad would think.

Not a roar, a plea. Go watch yours, inhale them, celebrate them, cherish them. It isn't guaranteed, but it's damn sure a blessing. Don't miss it.

Live it.






*I hope you'll forgive me for writing this.



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Monday, October 26, 2009

Like Riding a Bike

Autumn seems to spark a sense of hope for me (when I am not fretting over a sluggish real estate market, shattering cosmetics, dull skin, sore feet and sparsely decorated bank accounts.) I love the way the leave and wood fire smoke smell like new clothes from the Bon Marche in Eugene, Oregon circa 1983 and how the swirling leaves and gust of wind remind me of wind sprints and crunches at dusk. I am reminded of the way tomorrow is just around the corner, tempting me with all the things that might happen.

I am finding this all multiplied now as I spend my mornings with the girls peeking through windows and exclaiming, "Frost!" Me, not them. I am excited to share these things with them, reveal the magic. They reciprocate by breathlessly calling to me to point out a bird, a leaf, a stick, the sky. We spin and collapse, hug and hide. The natural wonder peppered with new things that make me gasp.

"Did you see? Did you see that mom? It's 'mom'. Ya just go two m's with an 'o' in the middle. And then with 'dad' it's d's with an 'a', which is an 'o' with a tail."



One baby can write and another can ride, the last is aiming to do both, and then some.

They are pure magic. Sleeping and awake. I'm trying to sleep better, dream better even, so that when I am awake and with them, I really am with them.










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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Malleability of perspective

All I can say is, thank goodness I don't have an immobile perspective. I mean on some things I do, but I am learning to be looser with other things.

I think it may have to do with being able to endure that moment when you feel as if you might explode— from anger, from fear, from anticipation or just not knowing— when you can get to the other side you are almost always rewarded. You taste something new, dodge hate or be relieved of a weight you've carried.

Family. It isn't easy, steeped in regret, dashed hoped, exorbitant expectations and it-is-what-it-is-ness. It is also what I feel like I always turn to, it s the place I turn inside when I am at a loss, or when I need the comfort of immutability. As permanent as the sun rising each day. I am in a profound place of grace as I have moved past the moment I thought was impossible, and am open and present. Loved and loving.

I've not been writing as much lately as the push and pull of life, advancing Adirondack winter and the unavoidable bugs of back-to school rock our house. My last few posts have been wistful. I think when you find yourself between so many beginnings and endings, it's kind of natural to get caught up in fearing or bracing for more.

I got an email that said: "Try not to ache so much about the past; your memories of them are always tempered by the moment of your recollection, so sometimes they’re bitter sweet and other times they’re just sweet."

It gave me pause and after that it gave me license to just revel. I think I might have rocked a little far to the side of intellectualizing, and so now I find myself scooping up bits of birch bark to examine with Ave, roaring at Fin completely out of the blue to make her eyes bug out of her face as she reacts and then dissolves into hysterics. Briar and I galloped to school. Silly, unscripted and delicious.

It is what it is, and it's pretty damn spectacular.






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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Welcome Encumbrance

I had planned to write last night. Sean was going to rehears with friends, the girls were bathed and asleep earlier than usual and I had no pressing work things to handle. I pounced on the couch and smiled as flutters of excitement erupted. My fingers twitched and I felt a huge weight lift as I let go of the guilt of not chronicling or pausing in these last weeks.

I cruised Twitter and then Facebook before opening up my blog. I heard mewing upstairs, but imagined it was standard issue tossing and turning. Wrong. Before long the whimpers became full blown screams and sobbing. I set the computer aside and flew up the stairs.

Briar lat crumpled in a ball at the very end of her bead, her face was ashen and her eyes were clenched shut.

"Briar, Briar honey, shh, mama's here. What is it?" I cooed as I rocked her in my arms. Her cries would not stop, and in fact as her little shoulders trembled in my arms, her crying just grew stronger. I kissed her brow and blew in her face, "Honey, it's mama, shhh. Honey, shhhh, what's the matter? What was your dream?" I murmured as I carried her out of the room.

A full five minutes passed before she would open her eyes. She kept searching my face and clenching her eyes shut. I wanted to tell her I was ok, imagining that she had picked up on my recent preoccupation with dying. I wanted to reassure her, in this moment when I had the power, that I was ok, no dead.

"A ghost," she said. I looked at her and knew she was fibbing, offering up what little she could and the ensuing silence her plea that I ask no more, just rock her. And so I did. After reading a few pages from a book to shoo away lingering fears, I wrapped her in my arms. She kept one hand on my face and the other beneath me, as if the weight of my body protected her.

She trembled and sighed, tossing an turning, all the while keeping her hands and yes on me until she finally gave in to sleep. My laptop lay forgotten on the couch, my earlier excitement replaced by need. Hers to be comforted, but mine, perhaps stronger still, to be able to give her as much as she gives me.

I didn't write, but I did live inside that moment, which, in the end, is what it's really all about, right?





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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

So that you know

Yesterday I wrote about my emotions regarding Briar starting school and today, though no less intense, I am writing about someone else's. I don't presume to know how Briar feels as I write about our lives, though sometimes I imagine I might. I hope that one day she and her sisters will look back on this space and be grateful for the things that have been recorded, if only in some instances to shed light on why we are the way that we are.

Today I knew how her dad was feeling—

Briar was indisputably radiant.



And ready.



And her dad was more in love with her than ever before.




You have been taking our breath away since the day you were born.



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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Freezing the Frames

Lately it's felt a bit as if I am suspended in some sort of alternate reality wherein I am unable to get anywhere. I cannot seem to gain purchase at work or at home, at play or asleep. Or just being.

I am fretting over what will inevitably (please, please) be some little thing or another rather than the dark foreboding thing my mind makes it. My worry is quiet and under the surface, but coincides perfectly with an abiding obsession for Briar and Avery with death.

"Mama, please you promise you won't go to heaven?"

I tried for a while to dance around it and make like I'd never go to heaven, but then I worried about jinxes and let downs.

"Honey, it's going to be a long, long time before I got to heaven. You'll be a mama and maybe even a grandma before I go."

This worked for a while and then it became, "Mama, I am going to miss you so much when you are in heaven."

I am at my wit's end with lobbing light-hearted answers all the while wondering if I am indeed in a perilous place, due to hear some awful diagnosis, in which case oughtn't I be saying something sage and enduring for the time when I am in fact gone.

"Mama, I said I'll miss you when you're in heaven," lower lip out, petulant and feigning sadness. I think the concept is too much for them to grasp and they only ever really flirt with the idea before it's chased away.

"Girls, I am making every decision I can to be as healthy as I can, for as long as I can. I don't want you to worry about heaven, just remember that no matter where I am I love you more than anything and I miss you."

They smile and ask for snacks and books, puzzles and drinks. I let myself dally in these moments, fetching a cup and singing or goofing at FIn in her highchair, constructing a Diego puzzle and watching their fingers as they test each piece. My peace as I let everything slip away is infectious.

The girls climb over me, faces burrowing in my neck, hands upon my back and sides. We wrap our legs around each other, giggle and spin until it is hard to tell where one ends and another begins. I feel them, eager as I am, to hold these moments, to freeze the emotion and keep the next thing away.

I wish it weren't fear that allowed me to hold on like this, and instead it was simply a defiance, a healthy attitude that boasts, "It's mine for the taking and I'll take it, thank you very much."

And so, much like the roar I charged my friend with, I am now throwing out this other challenge:

Take it. Take the time to yourself, the time with your kids, the $45 mascara, whatever it is, go and claim it.
Not doing so doesn't make you noble, it just makes you empty.

Excuse me, while I go cuddle with the father of my three magnificent sleeping girls.




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Monday, August 10, 2009

Living in Sugar Land

Sean and I sat up watching a 2 year old Sugarland concert on Palladia the other night. At first I just smiled, loving the delicious oblivion of cuddling and softly singing along as the girls slept. I'm not sure when the shift happened, but I felt the tug, that unmistakable tightening in your chest and jaw as the tears begin their march from inside to out.

There was no hiding, no turning back. I allowed the tears to come in waves as I watched the lead singer, luminous and irresistible in her exhilaration. I found myself wondering her age, imagining her provenance—
middle child?
small southern town?
parents still married?

It was silly, but as she sang the anthem of little girls emerging from babies to successes I wanted to know her story, the story of her parents. I think it was in that musing that the biggest hit, the mack truck that crumpled me, came- it was in seeing more of my daughters in her than myself.

++++

I remember Alanis blaring from my apartment as Christina showed up with Zima and chips. I remember Ani DiFranco melodically leading us in a chorus of "Fuck you and your untouchable face." Faces of boys, the laughter of girls, the marrow of my unbridled, unworried days. I wept as I thought of the living ahead of each girl. I wondered which girl would date the player, which girl would fall for the badder-than-bad-boy (or girl, makes no never mind), which girl would sit wishing.

I mark time in songs and milestones, but the purest living, the most potent time travel is in going back to moments with our girls. If they're like me, the songs Sean and I play will remind them of their childhood and, one day, some gorgeous woman will be working the stage, maybe slinking maybe stomping, but whatever she's doing will be for them. To them. Their songs, their time.

There is not a part of me that wouldn't give everything I have to ensure that they make it from baby girl to whatever they want.



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Thursday, August 6, 2009

The smell of then



When my grandfather died, I found that I could visit him by peeking my face into the antique cabinet that holds his books. I'd take the delicate handle between my fingers and slip my face between the rough edges of the door. The smell of old paper, gnarly leather and grandpa. I could hear the rustle that used to travel to my room as he read the morning's paper, or the way his whisker whooshed against my face as I pecked him on the cheek. Even as he reached the end, those whiskers and that smell stayed.

I find the same poignancy of time with my face buried in a towel. Sometimes I can go back, my hair behind me long and sun bleached as it was at 16. I can hear the splashes from the pool and the sound of the sliding glass door on its old track. The scent of freshly laundered towels is no sweeter to me than that of a damp cast off that has equal parts must and terry to its smell.

The taste of wet towel takes me to first baths and clenching the towel in my mouth to have every finger and bit of arm free to protect my baby. Camping. Wading pool. Pre-date showers and post-event face washing. Hampers full of towels waiting to be washed or folded make me smile. An easy task of stuffing or folding and a promise of a fresh start ahead.

Last night, unprompted by play or sunscreen I offered Briar a bath without sisters. She looked confused and then delighted. We ran it high and thick with bubbles. She stretched her body as far as it would go and then turned around to do it again the other way. She chirped and flipped and generally delighted in the newness of being the only one again. By the time Finley toddled up the stairs she was ready for the company, Ave soon followed suit. I smiled and giggled as I toweled away bubbles and splashes.

Later as they emerged I felt a lump as I watched, despite a full stack at their disposal, as they shared one towel. It was huge on Fin, reminding me how small she still is, it trailed behind Ave as she carried it more as prop than tool, and then my Briar. She stood, all angles and rosiness, peeking from the duck themed towel. Her hair draped over her shoulder and in one eye as she shucked the towel and ran for her room.

I looked at the towel hungrily, steeped as it was in the this night of firsts and lasts. The water and suds will rinse away, but this night, this now and soon-to-be-then, will stay.


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Friday, July 31, 2009

26+10

This isn't one of those, "I'll always be 29 posts."

Really.

I am 36 today and I love it. The title is a reference to a night 10 years ago, wherein I made a complete ass out of myself in front of several dear friends and my future husband who at the time was just a guy I thought was trying to get in my pants and then dump me. (I had le grand chip on my shoulder.)

Anyway, I had decided back when ZZ Top She's Got Legs was the newest song on the radio that I would grow up, get married, have three sons, kick the husband to the curb and get a job that let me wear stilettos and jeans to work. That night 10 years ago I wept as if my world was ending.

"I didn't do it."

"Do what?" they asked me with tender concern.

"Any of it!" I wailed.

"Of what?" they murmured as they encircled me.

"Kids. Husband."

They were incredulous. I had a great job, a hot and doting guy and a world of possibility ahead of me.

I cried and sniffled (it was actually the big, ugly kind of crying...snorfling?)

I had expected 3 boys.



I had planned on divorce.



I had no idea what I needed. Here's to unanswered prayers and happily ever afters. Thanks for sharing in mine.


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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Four-titude

Briar.

My first and, as it turns out, a veritable emotional echo. I'm not saying she is not her own person, but withering look and dramatic gasp alive, this child has my most annoying quirks. We are in what I can only believe is a preparatory stage, flexing muscles and building scar tissue to prepare us for what will surely be a lively number of years of push and pull and scream and gasp.

I am at once amazed and exasperated by her growing attitudes, whether it's the militant adherence to rules, the know-it-all snobbery or the desperate depth of emotion. I try to honor, acknowledge and accept each one, but I fear I may be becoming toxic for the "likes" and the sighs.

"Like, mah-um, I need to like, do it like, how I need it."

Just when I think I'll have to banish the use of the word she swoops in and wipes Fin's runny nose, hugs her sister unprompted or simply says, "I just love you so much." She is amazing. Tonight we stood in front of the computer and searched for answers.

What do snails eat?

Where do kangaroos sleep?

What state is Paris in?


She understood for the first time that the computer is not just my work, it can be a gateway. She could have stayed all night. Bedtime brought new questions and new aspirations:

Does being a mom hurt?

Can I be more than one thing?

Will we always be us even if stuff changes?


I know that many days I feel like I am suffering the attitude of four, but tonight I realized I am witnessing the fortitude of four.



Special thanks to Mike for the beautiful photo.





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Sunday, June 14, 2009

It does not go without saying

Three kids. Girls. As different as they are the same.

Investigating.



Commanding.



Wooing.



Together.



Every which way.



Feisty.



Flirtatious.



Daring.




Darling.



Wondering.



Wondrous.



I snap—



And snap—



And snap some more—



I never quite get it, never truly capture this perfect chaos that I am living,
but I do get it. I've been growing a life.







It is bittersweet bliss and I am grateful every day for it.






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Thursday, May 21, 2009

On second thought

Forget health insurance woes. I think I had better start bracing for the mayhem in my not so distant future. We're outnumbered, and outdazzled.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Three




Tomorrow Ave will be three. I've been sitting here trying to find just the right picture to represent what she's been and who she's been and the ways she has changed me. I can't.

I've had fun going back and reliving the ride that has been the last three years. Watching video of how she used to approach Briar, try to engage her, play with her, only to literally be pushed down with an emphatic, "Ay-ree, guh-way!" from a toddler Briar. I wish I had understood more clearly than who she was. She'd pop back up, let loose a raspy chortle and continue on her way, pursuing Briar with unflagging exuberance.

I worried so much, from whether or not I could love her like I did Briar to how she would fit into the family and whether or not she'd be as pretty as her sister. That sounds so awful, but the truth is, when you go from one to two you worry, about everything. Of course I worried, everyone said, "Briar is so beautiful!" I wanted to love them equally and have them be equals in beauty, athleticism, intelligence and popularity. I wanted perfection, not from Ave, but for her.



Looking back I see how perfect the mix of acceptance and resistance was. Avery has become a part of Briar as much as she has become her own person, introducing an entirely different kind of beauty and magnetism. She is everything I hoped for and more than I ever dreamed possible.



I watch her in awe, knowing that she possesses certain things I always pined for, specifically a sense of self so potent that she will never follow—speaking as the mom that can be tough, speaking as a woman, it makes my heart roar. Avery is going to be just fine. She is going to have the kind of cool that cannot be created, she will do things her way and in the doing she will delight, confound, entrance and confuse. I am grateful that as she moves through life she'll have Briar on one side, by-the-books and sweet and on the other side she'll have Fin, willful, but with a lightness of being that soothes.

This is the eve of Ave's 3rd birthday, but as she was on the day she was born, she is far beyond anything you would expect. She is magic through and through. Three years that have passed like minutes and yet I feel as if she's been with me my whole life.

video



Happiest of birthdays to my Ave.
My middlest.
My silliest.
My strongest.
My Avery.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Today





Morning and night, I adore you.

Happy birthday Fin!

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Before Shadows

I don't remember when exactly it happened, but it did. I went from being just me, Amanda, insecure about the oddest things and questing for some sort of non-specific, constantly changing, unattainable perfection--

Was it a flatter stomach?

Tauter buns?

Smoother hair?

Whiter teeth?

I honestly can't recall, but in general it came down to: I am not good enough.

Then I looked up and realized that I was a mom, and not just a mom, but a mom of a daughter. I had no idea we'd get to three daughters, but even one meant no more bull shit. I never looked back. Sure, I have my days when I am frustrated or slightly envious of some thing or another, but it is not a constant hunger for transformation.

When I work out now it is to show the girls that feeling good is a choice. I run, jump, lift weights or tumble around not to look better, but to live longer and enjoy each moment more. They get this.

Last night we went to the high school and ran on the track.

"I want to be in the number two lines!"

"I want the 4, cause I'm four years old."

"Am I the fastest?"

"Did you see how I did that?"

After several laps we sprinted across the field, the turf was wild with red, yellow and white lines. Numbers bigger than the girls, huge arcs upon which they balanced, hopped and danced. My heart was bursting with so much- joy that they were having fun, pride that we were all together, hope that this would sustain them in the coming years when the shadows come lapping at their spirits.

Thinner.
Bustier.
Shorter.
More popular.
Different.
Someone else.
Somewhere else.

We tromped up and down the bleachers-

"Red and silver. Red'n silver. RED AND SILVER!" They chanted in unison as they stomped their feet. Finley watched from Sean's shoulders, eyes dancing. It was a perfect, exhilarating, unforgettable time, so simple. Unmarred by anything.

********

Avery: "Mom, where's the bunny's highchair?"

Me: "You mean where does the baby bunny eat?"

Avery: "Uh-huh."

Me: "Baby bunnies don't use high chairs, they just eat on the ground in their homes."

Avery: "Oh."

Briar: "Just woman babies eat in high chairs."

I smiled, woman babies. I am not a fierce feminist, but the idea that she considers a baby to be defined or described as a woman and not human or man made me smile.

Woman baby.

Me: "Yes, that's right. Just woman babies."

*******

I hope my girls stay proud of being woman babies and that they always see themselves as beautiful and capable as I see them. My woman babies.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Never the same

I've come to this page more than a dozen times, hoping that somehow the world would twist on its axis and go back, back to a time when this screen hummed with stories of dancing eyes and bubbling giggles. It still does, but the memories are done, or at least their making is.

Madeline Alice Spohr, the twinkliest girl I ever saw staring back at me from this screen is gone. Panic, anger, despair and incredulity abound. She seemed too bright a star to lose.


In Memory of Madeline Alice Spohr
November 11, 2007 - April 7, 2009

Please give. Please.


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Monday, March 16, 2009

Pages Sticking Together

We have a cabinet with a glass door. It's blue with a sweet little hinge that clasps the door. Inside are three shelves with books books from my grandparents.

Frost.
Lorca.
Auden.
Whitman.
Cummings.

The cabinet smells of my grandparents. A gentle swing of the door and I can feel the velvet of their sofa cushions, can hear the creak of the Calhoun steps and the whooshing of the tide on the shore in San Juan.

I can still recall the day we bought it from a shop in Greenwich. It was an unnecessary purchase, one of our earliest as a married couple. Driving home with it felt both wicked and grown up. From the moment we brought it home it within our things as if it had always been a part of us.

Over the years things have been added to the shelves; a tin sailboat, a baby footprint card, my engagement ring box. I've tucked photos between the pages, slipped flowers in to dry. The girls are fascinated by the cabinet, tempted by its contents and entranced by their reflections. Three little girls, a parade of memories as their reflections gasp to keep pace with their growth.

The other day I reached for a book and the smell surprised me, the co-mingling of two eras: the memory of my grandparents and my place with them as a little girl and this trove of treasures and this new batch of little girls.

My girls.
My grandparents.

Two weeks from now we'll go, this married couple and our girls, to finally bury my grandfather.

Life will never be the same, and yet, a special blue cabinet with a little glass door, promises that it will go on.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

Pre-Nap Confessional and Doo Wap

Briar: Mom, I'm so sorry that I took a cookie from the plate that time.

(Easily 6 months ago)

Briar: Mom, I am so, so sorry that I cleaned the tv.

(1 month ago, with a wipe, after explicit directions not to clean it)

Briar: Mom, I promise never to clean the tv the fireplace or talk about your body like that again.

Avery: Mom, I promise that I not gonna plug out the vacuum ever again, ya know dat?

(Total BS, she cannot control herself.)

Briar: I was thoughting about eating the egg, but I didn't 'cause it wasn't cooked and you said it'll make me sick. Is that ok, that I was just thoughting but not doing?

Me: That's right, there not usually any harm in just thinking about things.

Avery: And you know I was just thinking that the playdough is a kind of cake but you can't eat it 'cause it's playdough and you could get sick and get the red stuff if you eat the playdough that's a cake but not really cause it's playdough, ya know dat?

(Red stuff is code for throwing up, it's a long story involving fruit punch and too many cookies)

Me: Yes.

Briar: Ya don't eat playdough.

Ave: You know dat, mom? No eating playdough.

Briar: Mom, remember that time I got the red stuff?

Ave: Yeah, she got the red stuff that time.

Me: Yes.

Briar: I'll not do anything to get the red stuff ever agin.

Ave: Ever again she won't.

Me: Girls?

A&B: Uh-huh?

Me: Nap. Now.

Briar: Now what?

Ave: Nap.

Briar: Now?

Ave: Nappin' now, Bri.

Me: Good girls. Naptime.

I walked out of the room to the whispers of two sisters and a sleeping baby.

I think the preservation of these exchanges in my memory is exactly the thing that prevents me from being able to keep track of where I set the brush, my car keys and the checkbook.


Are you a misplacer of things and keeper of memories?

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

A splash in the morning

Remember the other day? That whole, "Cry in the night" post? Take a look at the title up there, I'll wait.

Splash


Yeah, turns out that as delicious as this was:



It wasn't the best way to stay healthy. A mere 16 hours after this kiss I found myself in the all too predictable porcelain embrace. I was devastated. And empty. Quickly.

She was sorry.



But not that sorry since she had me to herself.




"Try some cookie, mama?"



I passed, and eventually so did the bug. The big girls were distressed to not be able to hug or kiss me, but managed to keep their distance. I thought the whole episode was behind us and that my predawn upchucking had gone unnoticed. That is until I heard what's kept them so busy in the doll house.

It seems that the princesses have a raging case of the sicks. The girls have them taking turns retching off the back of the house. Big, loud, dramatic gagging. Seems baby Cinderella has it the worst. I think the sheep is ok.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Cry in the night




A mew and a rustle and I knew.

I shot bolt upright and in a flash it was upon us. Finley spent the wee hours with a not so wee stomach bug. She and I are home making like a mama and baby koala bear, clinging and cuddling.

It is all over again as if I am a first time mom. Piercing. Dire. Profound. Consuming. Exquisite bliss with excruciating ache. Back to hand-wringing and brow-kissing, hopefully we'll be toe-nibbling and belly-laughing again soon.


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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cracked Bucket

So my digital camera and my crock pot have both sh*t the bed. Same day. We'll be enjoying blurry pictures over our last riberrific crock-potted dinner. As a way of honoring the passing of the pot-o-easy-dinners-I-forgot-I-made-until-I-came-home-and-smelled-their-all-done-goodness and the blurry death bleats of my little Canon a little spirit of Scrooge photo narrative.

T'was letter writing to Santa night and I thought I'd snap some pics. Sean helped the girls pen the letters, it all seemed innocent enough with Dad and the girls gathered 'round the table.



Sweet updates on behavior and modest lists on construction paper,
signed by the girls in blue and pink.



Then came each of their names,
cut with crafty scissors from extra sheets of colored paper,
artfully arranged on the floor.



Then pictures by the tree...
criss-cross applesauce
Harder than you might imagine.



Ok, now one more shot by the tree.
Atta girl, mama's letters now seem like a ransom note
and the letters to Santa were just a ruse for photos by my captor.


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Monday, December 15, 2008

It's in the grin

During a day spent at home with mom tending to a four year old with pink eye and a 2 and half year old with eyes green with attention envy, a wee 8 month old baby might feel she had drawn the short end of the stick. Might even get into trouble, but with a grin like Fin's there is just no mess big enough to make a scolding stick. Behold one of many, "Hey, I cold use some attention, but if it's asking to much, I can occupy myself just fine."





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Don't Touch

Home today as Briar has pink eye. She and I are both face touchers, I pet my upper lip when I worry, think, sleep or read. She touches her face when she colors, eats, watches tv or sleeps. We are also big on hugging, kissing and touching everyone else in the house. Since returning from the horror that is the medi-center at closing time on a Sunday, we are home with a strict no hugging, kissing or touching directive from the doc.

It is awful, and yet, I am so very grateful to be home, tending to Briar. Her sisters are home as well, and though I am sure my hands will be raw from the excessive hand washing (and wringing), I'm finding deep satisfaction in managing this quarantine.

Perhaps during naps I'll come and visit your blogs, I promise to wash my hands before I comment.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Technology and Toddlers

The girls were companionably munching on grapes and extra sharp cheddar, Ave with a screwdriver in her hand, Briar a Barbie. They were watching a DVD of Lady & The Tramp on our computer. I was playing with Fin who was deciding it was time to tackle crawling. I was, in a word, overwrought—my last baby, sprouting teeth and blazing past milestones as if there were no tomorrow. Gasp.

"S'not workin', mama!" Avery said somewhat incredulously. Briar was indifferent and Finley was on the move. I tucked my upper lip in as my chin took the lead and I huffed my hair out of my eyes, mostly to swallow the profanity dancing on the tip of my tongue as I caught sight of the frozen, pixelated screen. I panicked that it was liquid on the keyboard and another Mac shot.

Briar and Avery took off chirping that they'd keep Fin "from being so lonely." I rattled the mouse and slapped the keyboard. The hard drive sputtered and a window flashed, "The DVD has suffered an error from which it cannot recover. Please restart." I hit eject and the monitor went black. After ten seconds the screen came to life in a blaze of orange, pink and black.


FOREIGN CONTAMINANT


My knees buckled. Foreign Contaminant? Grape squirts? Cheese? Spit? WTF?!

"Ooh, mommy, we watch Wall•E?" They squealed and moved in a blur to the seat in front of the computer.

FOREIGN CONTAMINANT, toddler viewing delight, the salvation of mama's fried nerves.






.

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Remember CSI Barbie?

Ya'll remember CSI Barbie?

And front-bottom Barbie?

Our abuse of and preoccupation with all things Barbie continues apace. Just the other day we enjoyed a Barbie meets Kay Scarpetta kind of game.



Yup, it's painfully clear, Barbie isn't safe here. Just look, they're making room for more.



Run, Barbie! Run!

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