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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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

For Anissa

This post is cross-posted from Aiming Low as extraordinary traffic slows that site.



Hope for Anissa

Tue, Nov 17, 2009News

As you may have heard, Anissa, our beloved friend and leader here at Aiming Low, suffered a stroke on Tuesday afternoon. She is in the hospital right now, in the ICU.

More than anything, Anissa needs your prayers and positive thoughts but to the many people in the Atlanta area who have offered help to the Mayhew family, we have set up a form for you to fill out so we can have everyone’s contact info in one place (please be assured your information will be kept private).

Things that would be helpful right now are gift cards to restaurants and gift cards to the movies or to Blockbuster (to help keep the kids’ occupied) and gas/hotel gift cards for her extended family. We will be setting up a PO Box on Wednesday and posting the address here along with any updates. Please don’t send anything to the hospital or the Mayhew home. If you have questions, please email helpforanissa@gmail.com

We ask that you please respect the Mayhew family’s privacy by NOT calling the hospital and we thank you all SO MUCH for your outpouring of love and support for Anissa and her family.
With thanks and love,

The Aiming Low Team


Praying for you, babe!



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Fitness without sweat

We rejoined the YMCA over the weekend. I can honestly say right now that as I type this I am moaning. Oh, the nuanced pain of unused muscles. I am discovering expanses of self that hurt as never before, the cruelest part being the surprise as a movement draws a new ache. It's good, just makes everything from lifting my coffee mug to scaling the stairs a spectacle of "oohs" and jerks that make the girls throw back their heads with amused delight.

I'm not bent on writing about working out though, it's something else. It is using another set of muscles that has helped me rediscover the kind of high I get from overcoming the "I don't want to work out malaise" and actually making it to the gym, track or whatever and loving it. I visited my dusty, old pal Bloglines and pointed myself in some neglected, but beloved sites.

I popped over to the sites of old friends, collaborators, inspirations, models and amazing women. I read entry after entry, followed the trails of commenters to sites of people I have admired from afar and to others I hadn't known. Then I found my way to sites I should have been keeping on my radar.

It took time and had been something I'd been avoiding. The pressure to achieve traffic numbers, make comments, establish ties— it all became too much and something for which I was not feeling driven. Silly me, I'd forgotten how a 15 degree shift in perspective could make me pee my pants laughing, or that the musicality of another voice could bring me to tears and remind me of my blessings. I'd lost sight of the idea of belonging, forget "community" and other buzz words insinuating something more than place. Whether you are going about your day or turning the pages of a story, it comes down to how you feel.

My mom used to say, "It isn't that I don't like so and so, it's that I love seeing how this other person makes you light up." Have we all gotten so tied up in the numbers and rewards that we've forgotten the treasure of hearing a good yarn? Of nodding along as someone gives voice to something you've thought, but been afraid or unable to articulate?

I got my head out of my own way, and traveled to places that lifted my spirits, ignited my imagination and made me feel as if, "My god, I need to get back to living." When reading and commenting mimic life, when they are done in moderation, or according to appetite rather than dictate, they invigorate. So, go take a dip. Leave a comment, find inspiration, you'll be surprised how good it feels.



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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Just beyond



Just beyond this photo waves a flag— on sunny days and in the darkest hours of the night, it is there.

Outside the border of every photo.
Along the edges of every memory.
A key I neither fought nor asked for is there for me to use.

I play with my kids, tuck myself into bed cuddled into the arms of my husband.

Today I am acutely aware of how much others have sacrificed so that I can have this life of mine.

I will remember. I will be grateful. I will give thanks. Today and beyond.



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Friday, October 23, 2009

Not Quite Numb

This has been without question one of the most exhausting and challenging weeks I can remember. I find myself stuck in a place of forced silence. Things at work are intense and all-consuming, but not of a nature that we can share. Some of the experiences with kindergarten and pre-school are things that I can't describe for the preservation of the girls' privacy or my own inclusion in day-to-day things. This is to say that boy, oh boy do I have opinions and stories, but I am in the unoriginal position of needing to zip it, because it all touches so many more people now.

It is as if the lines of my life have slowly, unbeknownst to me, shifted so close as to become inextricably linked to one another making compartmentalization impossible. There is less me and much more of everyone else, perhaps it's an overdue realization that while I am my own protagonist, it's only in my mind that I play that role. I am treading along the shores of judger, villainess and detached narrator.

I miss writing, longing for the connection, either in reading my own words days or weeks after I've written them and going back to a moment in time or the friends I've made. I've been having every bit as many magical moments with the girls, more even, yet I sit frozen instead of fingers racing across the keys.

Lovely. This is not meant to be a dark post, because I think if anything, you know I am not dark. Lately as my awareness of the egos and sensitivities of others has grown, my own worries of looking the fool have fallen completely to the wayside. I took Fin and Ave with me to pick Briar up from school the other day. We were early (this would mean so much more if I explained the harrowing experience of being late (#abjectfailureasamom). The girls got understandably antsy and I eventually gave into their please to get out of the wagon.

Ave struck immediately for the dirt, knees akimbo and the tiniest bit of toddle crack peeking out of her jeans. Fin tried to follow suit, but on her way to a squat, she felt too much like dancing. She began to do what looked like a stab at doing the twist while trying to jump with cement blocks on her feet. She looked at me with such pride and delight, her dancing eyes tittered, "You catching this, mama? You see what I am doing? It's like dancing or jumping, mm-hmm." Ave shook her head and looked up from under her impossibly thick bangs and began to chuckle.

Fin was looking at me expectantly and I didn't disappoint. I swung my arms in front of me and then back, she watched, mystified as I did it again. I looked to Avery and back to Fin, both were transfixed as I swung my arms once more and then leapt into the air. Their eyes popped and I just kept going. I am fairly sure I looked like an over-caffeinated and uncoordinated orangutang. I remember finishing my impromptu performance and thinking, "I used to blog about this sort of thing."

I actually thought about how I'd describe the way the mulch in Finley's hair made me realize how much red she has in her hair, or how the way she held the sticks to scratch aside the soil, her fingers looked like a baby's. Ave's skin was something too, so creamy and clear, the lines of her jaw equal parts baby and little girl. And there was more, as I watched Briar run to her sisters, such delight at the perceived fanfare of a pick-up entourage.

But I didn't write.

Until now.

So, while I have felt a bit numb, I'm not quite.



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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tweetle Dee

Do you have a Twitter account? If you do, leave the name in the comments here and I'll follow you :) If you don't, this may not make sense. Last night Sean surprised me with tickets to Sugarland. It surpassed my wildest dreams and I have the gushing, over-the-top tweets to prove it. I wanted to write about the experience, but these entries are exactly what my Grandma Joy used to tell me to do with a journal, "Just write even a few words, just to let you back into each memory." These do just that.


Heading to the Sugarland concert tonight. Keith Urban follows, but all I need is that first act. No offense to Keith.
4:30 PM Oct 7th from TweetDeck

On our way to Sugarland...
6:40 PM Oct 7th from TwitterBerry

@theheatherb where does one go for a quick something before a show @ the Times Union Center?
6:48 PM Oct 7th from TwitterBerry

Holy crap I am old and small town. The bar across from TU Center is sending me back. Decades. #onway2myfirstconcertinyears
7:08 PM Oct 7th from TwitterBerry

Protocol would appear to be scowl and sneer, not swallow nervously and grin.
7:09 PM Oct 7th from TwitterBerry

Sugarland just came on stage, not ashamed to admit I am crying I am so excited.
7:35 PM Oct 7th from TwitterBerry

Yup, still crying and grinning. Getting exactly what you want is literally awesome.
7:43 PM Oct 7th from TwitterBerry

They say this town...two thousand miles and one left turn. #happyasapiginshit
7:46 PM Oct 7th from TwitterBerry

Baby pictures of the entire band and crew running behind Love your baby girl. #myundoing
7:48 PM Oct 7th from TwitterBerry

Watching having revelations of self-acceptance and seizing now. Epiphany via concerts and date nights. Please let me remember.
7:55 PM Oct 7th from TwitterBerry

So seriously, feeling like so many unfulfilled wishes are coming true. In silent, weepy wonder. Have you ever felt that?
8:02 PM Oct 7th from TwitterBerry

"For the mommies and the daddies" she said.
8:11 PM Oct 7th from TwitterBerry

What I'd give...to hold on to this feeling. Subtract worry, add revelation and unapologetic pleasure. Living, really.
8:14 PM Oct 7th from TwitterBerry

"That's a f*cking guitar solo," said Sean - for those of you fatigued by my gushing.
8:16 PM Oct 7th from TwitterBerry

Hands together for the crew! Hell yeah from this techy! Go @capitolbuzz
8:17 PM Oct 7th from TwitterBerry

Me: I want to try surfing. (After Jennifer Nettles surfing montage) Sean: Let's get the hang of skiing of first. #nowacceptingcoastalgifts
8:20 PM Oct 7th from TwitterBerry

She is singing Holiday! Whee high school meets mom-of-3 meets holy shit it's getting hot in here. Bwaahahaha
8:25 PM Oct 7th from TwitterBerry

Awesome Albany montage at Sugarland's close.
8:37 PM Oct 7th from TwitterBerry

Here comes Keith Urban!!
8:38 PM Oct 7th from TwitterBerry

After last night I'm excited for this weekend's Johnny Cash Tribute. Troy Record wrote this http://bit.ly/32ISLN DM me for discount!
about 12 hours ago from TweetDeck



The last tweet is different, a morning after invitation in the spirit of carrying on the incredible feeling. Go do something for yourself, if you are around here, try the Cash concert (use code: TWITTER for 2 for 1 tickets), but if you aren't, just go and find something.

Times are tight, but it's worth finding the exhilaration of delight again. For you.


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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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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Is it just me?

Our house is on the market.
I am growing my hair out.
Briar has started kindergarten.
Avery is in pre-school.
Fin keeps flirting with weaning.
I am at home part time and at work part time.

It feels a bit like I am chasing my own tail, with each day bleeding into the next. Lunches to make, clothes to fold and put away, projects to finish, promises to keep. I am never done. I keep trying to determine if it is just the inevitable fatigue and subsequent acceptance that it can't all get done, everyone can't be made happy, or if it is something else.

Am I missing something? Pursuing the wrong thing? Fighting the wrong battles? Or, am I simply slipping into a chapter of my life where I am more aware of death than birth, more drawn to arriving than pursuing?

I rapture in the girls and long to do the same with Sean. We are never not working, parenting, cleaning or chasing a deadline.

Does it slow down? Can we slow down? I mean, if we do slow down, will our lives follow suit, or will we just fail?

I sputter and start, vowing to view things from this perspective or that, but the truth is, I yearn for winter. I want the dark shadows of snow and shorter days to give me the license to pause. I want to stir soup and match socks, tuck little girls into downy blankets and cuddle in for the night with Sean.

Melancholy laps at my feet when I get this way, knowing that I am wishing away today for the perceived promise or relief of tomorrow. I don't want to miss anything, don't want to rush through a phase, but lately it feels as if something doesn't give I am surely going to stumble.

Am I alone?




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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Crickets, Woodpeckers and Bunk Beds

Sean had set his iphone up as an alarm clock for me, but when I heard the soft rolling of digital bells as day broke I was confused. I waited a moment before stirring, the sounds of crickets through the window punctuated by the rat-tat-tat siren of a woodpecker. Finley was to the right of me, nursing with one hand woven through her tousled hair and the other on my neck, Briar was behind me, curled in a ball parallel to the foot of the bed with her legs touching mine. Sean was gone.

This musical sleeping station thing happens around here, with one parent being traded for a child and another child being added to the mix. After flanking Fin with pillows and covering Briar's bare shoulders, I slipped out of bed and I tiptoed down the hallway to find Sean. The guest room bed was empty, as I passed our room I smiled at Briar and Finley's forms, so tiny and yet, together they seemed so big, so undeniably significant, less babies than people.

I saw him tucked awkwardly, but soundly, in the bottom bunk of the girls' room. The intensity of yesterday still clinging to me, I drank in the sight of him, hands resting on either side of his pillow, elbows poking out, Briar's pink fleece covering him and proclaiming him a father-of-all-girls even while he sleeps. Ave was overhead, a dark tangle of curls and plump lips were all I could see until she turned, then her face flashed at me and she gave a kind of contented sigh as she buried it once again.

There is potent healing in the embrace of a sleeping family, in knowing that the primal hum is running beneath the beating of your own heart, sustaining it when you are weak. Yesterday and so many days before had been spent figuratively huddled in a corner with my arms wrapped around myself.
____________________

I was weak and so very scared. Today I am healthy and filled with gratitude. Thanks be to crickets and daybreak, to family and to friends.






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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Bells On

So, the day is finally here. My colonoscopy is at 1.
____________

Ave's take: Wear a seatbelt, bear down and pretend it's a motorcycle.



I am trying to quell the expectation that the doc is going to pat me on the hip post-probe and say, "Well, as I thought, it was an (insert harmless affliction)."

Sean and I will gleefully hand the cashier a $75 copay and head out for a brilliant, if kinda crampy, sunny Tuesday.

I am preparing for him to say, "Well, as I thought, it was fairly harmless, but we did take a few samples and will have them checked. Should know more in 7-10 business days."

We'll still pay and hold hands, it will still be sunny, I'll still be crampy, but, you know, I want to know.

Sigh.

Funny how I feel like the child today.

______________

Here's what I have been using again and again to make my snorts and chortles chase the worries. Give it a whirl.






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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Blocked

It's not that this is not a magical time, because it is. We are sitting at the eve of a new era; Briar starts kindergarten in less than a month, some 8 blocks away Avery starts preschool and Fin gets a crack at being the only kid. This is the last summer of babies and yet I am without words.

I look at my laptop with an aching, I am desperate to write something down, to mark this time. I come up empty every time, either too nervous to open the dashboard on blogger or too keenly aware that the words I would write would be forced, fake, unworthy.

This is my space to remember and with very few exceptions I have kept it a place that is without artifice or the slightest sliver of something that might make me question it years from now. I think I know what's wrong and I've gone round and round with whether or not to try and push through it.

Too many of you (thank you to each and everyone of you) have written to prod me—

"You ok?"

"Should I be worried?"

"Thinking about you and hoping you are ok."

It's something we do, this checking in on people who've become a part of our routine, whether they know it or not. Look at me, so clearly stalling, even during a post intended to lay it all out there.

I am bleeding. I have been bleeding since just before BlogHer. The bleeding at BlogHer was significant and startling and occurred during my first trip away from my daughters and Sean, whilst sharing a room with two wonderful women I'd never met before.

I've had 3 babies in five years, I have been nursing without pause since September of 2004, I am under incredible stress and I err on the side of anxious. All of these things add up to, "Hmm, have you considered this might be hemorrhoids?"

And I have. And I promise there is nothing that I would like more than to report that I freaked the hell out over some hemorrhoids. Truly.

The thing is, this is a magical time and I have these three beautiful daughters and a husband I adore. I can't help but wonder if I have too much, if this happiness and my health to date has exceeded the good I was supposed to get.

The doctor talked about the things it could be and very candidly put out there that Cancer was a possibility. He later said everything really points to something else, but we can't know yet.

And so I sit, fretting and worrying, willing and bargaining. I imagine new wives and stepmoms, milestones missed and promises not kept. I doubt everything I have done to now, my convictions about organics, my theories on physical activity and fresh air. I want to be calm and have a wait-and-see attitude, but I fear that if I don't prepare I am being irresponsible.

Honestly, I think a part of me thinks that if I share with you how Finley has started catching my eye, cocking her head and saying, "Hai wuh-yuve shoo," and how it literally makes my knees buckle, that that will be it. That time will freeze and the knowing and chronicling of my life with three girls will stall at the first I love you's of my last baby.

I am absolutely terrified and up until now I thought I shouldn't say that, but there it is.

I am bleeding and we don't know why. Tuesday I have a colonoscopy. I am hoping with everything that I have that I'll be back here making you pee with the tales of my handsome doc and the fiberoptic scope he used to establish that the 25+ pounds of little girl goodness I've pushed out of me gave me more than a lifetime of loving.

Anyway, I just wanted you to know, so maybe I could find my way to writing again.



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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Cents of Peace


Life is a blur of scampering out the door before open houses and squeezing in swing time and walks before bedtime and baths. My days in Chicago are already a distant memory of hot mid-day walks and twinkly nights upon the fringe of the merrymaking. I had one moment, during a walk with Leslie, that I stole for home.

We were in Millennium Park and she exclaimed, "Oooh, I'm putting my feet in the water!" And before I knew it she was squatting down and yanking off her shoes. I sighed, it seemed like so much work to take my tennis shoes off in the heat and then put them back on, socks sure to be damp with sweat. She let out a sigh like a dog curling up by a fire and I caved.

The water was incredible and the stones along the trough were cool and slick. I wiggled my toes and felt myself relax, my hands behind me and the sun shining upon my face. I looked at Leslie and saw a similar peace. We sat in a contemplative silence as people on either side of us began to follow suit.

Glimmers of sunlight reflecting off coins in the water caught my eye. I thought of the girls and Sean, of pennies tossed in Placid and Burlington. I felt silly and hopeful. I reached my hand in my pocket and slid a shiny dime between my fingers. I peeked at Leslie from the corner of my eye and as she leaned in looking at her own toes I dropped the dime silently into the water.

Unspoken wishes and s dreams of reaching an as yet invisible finish line.

As I remember the soft, soft splash, I feel a quiet hope.

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hey, it's me

I wear contacts, at night I take them out and put on my glasses. Sometimes on the weekend I'll keep my glasses on for coffee and maybe a run to the grocery store or Lowes. People know me without glasses, switch up something as little as glasses and it throws people off a bit.

I'm at BlogHer. Some people know me for this blog, some people know me for my other blog, or from twitter and, well, some people don't know me at all. Watching people's faces as I introduce myself and they struggle to place me is odd, I know it mirrors some of my own reaching for names and connectors.

Last night after one such introduction something occurred to me, say what you will about crowds and cliques, hierarchies and oligarchies, it comes down to self. Contacts or glasses, blogging or talking, I am who I am. There is not a person I can meet or not meet who will change that.

I love tortilla chips.

I adore the word inimitable.

I don't get the Robert Pattinson thing (may have to do with turning 36 in six days)

I blush easily and am kind of prudish, yet I curse like a trucker.

I am passionate as a mom, getting better as a wife and loyal to the end as a friend.

I can write. I can dazzle. I can. I am.

Why would I ever forget that?

Have you forgotten you?

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Can you roar?

A few weeks ago, maybe even a month now, I posted an entry on Facebook that had something to do with going for a run and feeling kick ass about it. That wasn't it, but the point is that in the string of comments it turned into a big roar. Young friends, older friends, close friends, distant friends and I think even some of those "accept as friend"s but-you-don't-really-know-who-the-hell-they-are, friends.

It got me to thinking that maybe we need a little more roar, or, more specifically a little more license to roar. On the last day of this month I'll turn 36, which isn't a huge deal, but...

I'm increasingly aware of the you'll-look-back-and-wish-you'd-been-kinder-to yourself tsk-tsking. Or worse the realization that like the asshole who dumped you in your twenties, you never really knew how good you had it. How great you were, roar-worthy, if you will.

So, without further adieu, I give you a roar for myself that came via a couple of photos taken by my mother-in-law.





Go ahead, give yourself a roar, I promise you deserve it.

Christine, why don't you start?

And you.

And, just to populate the dance floor enough to entice the rest of you, how about you?

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

BlogHer and a for sale sign

Denise put out a tweet about a post Shash (say it shushy and breathy like Posh) did regarding BlogHer. It was brilliant in its "Let's-have-a-little-fun-but-offer-some-pearls-at-the-same-time theme." I pledged to lift the idea and use it here.

The difference with the Primer About Amanda for BlogHer is I am not technically going to BlogHer. I went last year and had an experience I'll never forget. It wasn't like Mrs. Flinger's, but it was incredible. This year I am flying to Chicago, but have no pass to the conference, though I did diligently sign up for the waitlist. I'll be shacking up in the conference hotel with the sure-to-be-divine Mommentator and the I-bet-she'll-be-awesomely-fiery Texas Red , this is to say, I've never met either of them.

I'll also be hanging with Mrs. Flinger, I say hanging with, but hanging on may be more appropriate, because while Shash alluded to a certain emotional sitch that might flow through the conference, I've got my own. See, as I sit here, I am waiting for the For Sale Sign to go up in our yard. It isn't a bad thing, we want to sell our house, are looking forward to the next chapter and transitioning from a brilliant first home to a home that will fit our family of five.

We did this three years ago and it was hard. I was pregnant, we had a kitten, a toddler and a growing business. Then we got an offer. Our buyer died. It was heartbreaking, feeling angry and disappointed and then slapping ourselves because, my god, the poor man died out of nowhere.

I am nervous about the reaction to the For Sale Sign and I am anxious about what may happen. This is compounded by heading to BlogHer without a baby or a pass. It leaves me feeling naked, uncertain and compelled beyond my normal 150% determination, to accomplish something.

This is a bit long, let me get right to it.

My house is for sale.
I am traveling without my last nursing baby.
I am unsure of what's ahead.
I want desperately for it all to coalesce into something that provides more for my family.
I am terrified* and exhilarated** and hopeful***.

My name is Amanda, what's yours?



*I hate flying.
**I may actually make friends.
***I have, and will continue to, bust my ass for my family's gain.


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Friday, July 10, 2009

It's Not a Competition

Ok, this is an assignment.

No, wait, maybe it's more of a request...

A plea?

A bewildered shot in the dark maybe.


What do you do when people insist on competing?

This is not about my family, our best friends, our partners or our co-workers, so exhale and read on ;)

Seriously, what do you do when you find yourself in a situation wherein people are measuring themselves against you and foisting this bit of information or that on you so as to assert some sort of dominance?

Do you lavish praise? Reassure them through your words that the focus is on them, that they are in fact the most amazing people of all? Because honestly, it exhausts me, I have what I want, am where I want to be and wish everyone well.

I know the answer is you suck it up and deal, just wondering what you've done.

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Independence Way


It was a glorious, if occasionally blustery, day spent celebrating the fourth of July with our Pownal pals.



I felt bad for the ponies as the Newfies effortlessly dwarfed them.



The sound system was creative and mobile.



The hammock and impossibly lush surroundings made the day seem magazine perfect.



The wind was straight from the Kansas to Oz opener.




Fin embodied the way we all felt about the day.




Thanks to Deb, Rui and Harold for delighting us once again!

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Well hello there, Ken

I talk a big talk about how hard Barbie has it in our house. I was puttering around the house the other day and happened past the computer. I did a double take as at first glance it appeared that Ken was doing something very different than one might expect from a decidedly anatomically-incomplete Ken doll.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Belle Down Below

It's a tough life here for a doll. Why just this afternoon Ave walked up to me and said:

"Uh, mom, Belle's got a problem."

Sure enough, Belle went and got herself knocked up in some sort of self-impregnating disaster.



And so I did what any good mama of 3, privy to the tearing of childbirth and doll abuse would do, I yanked as hard as I could crossing my fingers nothing break.

I give you Belle²

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

A day late and a daughter sweet

I've not really ever done Wordless Wednesday. Seeing as today is Thursday and I am typing, I guess I'm not doing it today either.




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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ripples

I am still reeling a bit from the news. I keep thinking, "How long did they know?"

"Did they know when I was giving my presentation?"

"Did they know when he sent me that email?"

"Did they know in the days that followed?"

And then it twists and my pondering gets ugly. Angry.

"Did they listen down the hall?"

"Did they know before me?"

"Do they feel bad?"

I mean it's ridiculous. The decision was made based on certain immutable facts. I have no business feeling resentment toward people that were not involved, or who at least had no say in the matter. But then the wicked side of me chirps, "Are you sure? Are you sure they didn't throw your name out to save their own hides?"

I want to shake it. I don't want to be angry, don't want to be afraid. And yet here I sit, angry and afraid. The emotional pendulum rages and I find myself weary from the force of it all. The truth is I would do it all for free. I want to help and be of service. I want to belong to this place that I have known for five years, but I don't. I am no longer a part of the team and my way of mourning that seems to be through spite.

I cannot see my way past what feels like betrayal. I am numb. I am waiting and hoping that this fury and despair will fade.

*****

I refuse to end this without light, for despite the clamorous emotions over what has happened, I am surrounded by good. Sean takes my anger, weathers my inexplicable melt-downs about this thing or that as I struggle to come to grips with having something be beyond my control.

The girls are here, demanding and delighting. My temper can run short, but I have found new depths for just tethering myself to their joyous will— bubbles, gardening, walking, reading, spinning til we fall.

I am healthy.

I have friends.

I am gingerly finding my way.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

I'll just get right to it

"This is the hardest conversation I've had to have since 2003," he said.

I set my notebook down as I realized what I'd been summoned to hear.

"It's ok," I said, though behind my bright smile, every part of me was howling, "Nooooo. Nooo, this isn't happening!"

********

I am officially a statistic, a victim of the economy. My position is being eliminated. My health insurance is gone.

I have the option for Cobra, maybe even some federal plan for those that are laid off. I just don't have what I've had anymore.

I know that we'll be ok, but I know something else now too. When it is not your decision, when you have done your job, when you have to wait ten minutes for them to get to the point, to finally say, "It's not you, it's just, well, I really don't want to, but I have no choice..." it kills. There is nothing to be done but to preserve dignity. It is an excruciating feeling, a kind of naked fear, shame and embarassment feeling and I know but a sliver of what some people do.

********

I deleted a post earlier. It was jumbled, unclear, like the pieces I was trying to sort. It's later now. I took a walk with my family. Counted 1, 2, 3 for sister arm wrestling. Twisted braids and brushed teeth. Allowed myself to be hugged. I am still scared, still stinging, but a little less numb.

Maybe this is my chance to write my book.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Not really.

Today is Mother's Day. I was searching for a way to encapsulate what that means, striking just the right chord to make people exclaim, "Oh that! Yes, that is it! Me too!" It's funny, whenever you try to do something perfect you are almost certain to fail. Sure enough the keys stared back at me, "Well, you gonna type something?" they seemed to mock. The girls didn't nap. The coffee didn't satisfy. And the words, oh how the words wouldn't come.

I guess it really boils down to this— I think Mother's Day is bogus. Don't get me wrong, I think there are a lot of things I do that deserve recognition, but they don't have a whole lot to do with mothering, maintaining maybe. Thank me for the laundry, yes. For remembering the ticky-tack little shit details like which day Briar has to bring snack or which day Sean won't have time to sneak out for lunch. Be amazed that I can find an undershirt, the Crystal Light and a last-minute-perfect-for-the-occasion-gift. Sure, that'd be great, but recognition for loving? No, thanks.

I am an unapologetic momaddict. I can gush for hours on breastfeeding, middle of the night babbling or shape spotting in clouds. I am absolutely certain that the person I am today is better than the person I was before having kids. I stand behind the decisions I make, the life that I am leading and the way in which I prioritize. The things is that's all just instinct, hard coding within the mom that I am.

This "special day" meant to honor that feels very strange. I like making breakfast. I take a sick delight in the chaos and weight of it all. It's why we went on a hike last year, the injuries from Finley's birth still raw and unhealed. I wanted to be doing, loving, experiencing.

The girls are upstairs right now, the writing on the wall is clear— there will be NO nap. Sean is out mowing the lawn. Instead of music the loud roar of the lawnmower, the thunderous clomping of Avery's attempts to tiptoe and the non-stop banter between Briar and Fin are my playlist.

I am a mom and exactly who I was meant to be. Every day. I suppose the only thing really different about today is how heightened my awareness of other moms is and for that I am quite thankful. I think the things we are doing every day, whether it involves an office outside of the home, a gaggle of kids in side the home or any variation on that theme in between, are amazing. Maybe thinking about it as a day for all the mothers to be recognized as one incredible part of society than I kind of dig that.

Today for those that are moms, are about-to-be-moms, trying-to-become-moms or remembering-moms-that-are-gone, I wish you a happy day.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Go find an actress

Sean can tell the story better, but as he doggedly pursued me in the summer of '99, taut abs rippling beneath a worn, white t-shirt, I spat something to the effect of, "Why don't you go find yourself another crush, an apprentice or something." At the Williamstown Theatre Festival many of the apprentices were indeed something, often in perky, little packages that made my not-so-tiny, not-so-perky self ever so insecure.

This is not to disrespect those women at all, they were great. Seriously. I was just very taken aback by someone so easy on the eyes being so unabashedly into me. Fast forward 10 years and here we are, a little less taut, inexplicably perkier and together. Unabashedly. It took me a while, but three kids and a thriving business later demonstrate the rightness of it all.

Today we are wrapping up a project that takes me back to North Adams in the early spring of 2000, to a lush backyard in Pownal later that summer, and to the stretch of 2001 that saw me living in NYC and then signing my first lease in Boston. It is amazing how much a little bit of theatre can take me back. I had to share this because this has been where I've scribed some of my most precious memories, from welcoming Ave and waiting for Fin, to rediscovering joy and hope.

Tonight into tomorrow we'll be promoting the creation of a new mark for the Adirondack Theatre Festival, literally rolling it out on their Facebook page. It isn't where we met, but it's where we love. It will be the place we go for dates this summer, the place we thrill our girls with the magic of the lights going down and make believe surpassing reality, and the place where ten years from now I hope I'll be celebrating the difference we made way back when.

So many of you here have made me feel exception, through your comments and emails to packages for my girls. As I reach deep for whatever I can find to make this roll out a success, I find myself turning to my go-to team. I hope that you'll visit the ATF Facebook page and see the logo we've created, maybe even become a fan if you feel so inclined. This has been such an incredible experience for us and, like most of my life, I wanted to share it with you.

Thank you.

-Amanda

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Fetishist*

I love bowls, bedding, camisoles...


And, despite a current frustration with my reflection's pronounced dark, under-eye circles, mirrors.


The antique shop across the street, Poor Richard's, makes me indescribably happy with the bits they put out on the sidewalk.

A nod to Grace in Small Things, I give you "Unexpected joy in a sidewalk mirror."



Here's to joy.


*The title is a mischievous attempt to thwart unassuming fetish seekers.

**Kidding, I think it's a beautifully complex word, so I used it.

***Not that she ever intended it, but Slouchy has been keeping my fascination with language ignited with her words of the day. Thanks, Sarah.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Familiar Pang

Finley will be 1 year old on the 30th of this month. Avery will be 3 on the 15 of next month and this fall Briar will turn 5 and begin kindergarten. I find myself laying the springs of the past five years over one another, deepening and or lightening the hues of my life depending upon they way I arrange them. Yet, even as they change, certain pangs remain.

Fin's newly discovered walking and running talent has me grinning from ear to ear, each step leads her closer to some victory, whether it's lifting and clutching a baby to her chest or latching on to my ankle. She teeters to and from, reminiscent of her sister's, but in a way that is all her own.

Avery is surging ahead, her quirks and talents becoming more pronounced each day. She declares that she wants a black cake for her birthday and that she wants to wear a tutu to an upcoming wedding. She dresses herself with great aplomb and triumphant declarations, but in the safe cloak of her pjs, she comes, sidling up next to me to sleep in the early hours of the morning.

Briar is a blur—giggly and flirtatious, stormy and petulant, inquisitive and closed off. We tread lightly, she and I, questing to find a place where we can satisfy the other's needs without embarrassment.

I remember as I traversed my first year as a mom, I tried to let Briar do everything for herself. I didn't want to set a pattern or precedent for doing things for her. It wasn't easy, so often I felt the temptation of fixing, of taking the easy route and stealing the glory. I did it, I still turn to the back of a book to peek at the ending, but I never did it with her. I let her strain for and ultimately reach things on her own. I was always there to catch her, but I let her do it. Own it. And each time I did the sense of accomplishment was just enough to conceal the shudders of, "I failed you, I made it too hard."

She was six months old when I knew I wanted to have another baby. We made the decision together, Sean and I, talking softly by moonlight about how she had changed our lives. I told him on a camping trip just before she turned one, that we were pregnant again. We spent a rapturous year waiting for Ave as Bri sat in my lap, her vocabulary expanding along with my belly.

Ave made us bigger, tighter and more in love than ever with the ride of life with kids. The roller coaster was still in effect, a lump forming in my throat as she surged past each developmental marker. Briar standing on the other side waiting tempered my ache, reassuring me that from my arms Ave was running to her sister. And there it was again, the pang of longing. My belly felt empty, and as I watched the girls it seemed as if we had one more player meant to be with us.

Enter Finley, our sweet, stubborn, meant-to-be-with-us player. Briar and Avery welcomed her into their circle with fierce pride, declaring to anyone who would listen (and many who weren't) "D'is is our baby sister, Finley Frostin' Magee." We'd smile, at peace with our girlie trifecta.

This first year has been a whirlwind, the transition to a family of five an admittedly difficult thing. Today we stand on the eve of a parade of milestones with a lone line of accomplishments behind us— 1st birthday and first steps, 3rd birthday and preschool, kindergarten and playground crushes, Friday date nights and working lunches. I am more satisfied than ever and yet I feel that pull, the longing for a baby and the wonder of pregnancy. I can imagine Fin kissing my belly and gurgling "bay-buh." Briar talks about a little brother and Ave asks about another baby in my belly.

Like every year of the past five, there are shades what has been. The girls are waking from their nap, Sean and I are working on the house, it's a classic Saturday. This year though, even as I feel phantom flutters in my belly, I know that we are done. We have our three and I think the truth is, like other moms, I'll always wonder what might have been, but that doesn't mean it's meant to be. What is meant to be is this sweet family of five of mine.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

I hate cats

No, I really do. I am sorry if you love them. I should probably say I also never really went through the "I love dolphins" phase. I was kind of a dorky Huey Lewis into George Thoroughgood, David Addison into Arnie Becker into, hula hoop into track shoes kind of dork. All the way through I hated cats and they hated me back.

Ask my sister.

Anyway, the cat today is the proverbial cat in the bag, or out of the bag as it were. I have officially lost track of who reads this blogs, who knows this blog exists and who could use this blog to trip me up publicly. Not that I'd ever say anything that isn't true, but perhaps I've had private battles here that allowed me to play nice, act unhurt or just generally move on in public.

I have no bones to pick to prompt this, just the realization that for the past week or so it's been my boobs here, specifically me talking about them. One could say it was to demonstrate for my recent presentation that one should be engaging, racing or controversial in order to gain/retain/whatever an audience. The truth is I've always done better when being true to myself and my life.

An old colleague that I have recently friended on Facebook posted an entry that said something to the effect of:

Hey, parents- MOTHERS OR DADS, could someone please post about screaming at your kids? Share some audio, maybe publish the note from school saying your kids has not potential. Please?!"


I totally get what he's going for with this. I left a comment about how in those moments we drop the camera. But seriously, I suppose some people may enjoy reading that and others may enjoy writing about their boobs and sex life all the time. I prefer writing the things that I would like to remember.

My memory is abysmal at best. I need these morsels to lead me back to dried clovers, to snoring rapture and to the days of dolls and romance.

I suppose I could get wrapped up in people that don't want to read it, or too worried about the people that do, I think instead I'll keep my eye on the ball and worry about hitting it— thwack. The feeling of the words hitting the screen just right, bits of my heart and mind winking back at me, feels just like a great hit. When it resonates with others, all the better.

Here's to great shirts, hot dads and golden moments with our kids-not necessarily in that order, or, maybe if the shirt is great enough, in exactly that order ;)

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Monday, March 23, 2009

I'm Saying It

There's a reason the phrase, "getting up the nerve" exists. I think if we always had the nerve it'd no longer feel like nerve, it would just be. Not bold. Not brave. Just constant and with constants come the desire for change, no? Look at me overthinking and stalling while I try and work up the nerve.

See, yesterday was a bad day. Started a half-step out of synch and began spiraling quickly to something much worse. We tried to fix it and by we, I mean Sean. He did every little thing you wish for your husband or best friend to do, but you're too embarrassed to ask. We almost made it, but then naps and meals and conflicting desires collided into a family-wide meltdown on the way home. Yay failure. Somehow through a haze of Lion King soundtrack, drowse-inducing heat and hand holding we made it.

This morning, despite serious indicators of another shitastic day, I turned a corner. After a brisk, but sunny walk with temperatures below 20, I found myself remembering. I walked a little faster, held my head a little taller. It was intoxicating, not a little bit, like head-to-toe chills and a smile that never wavered intoxicating.

I'd dressed for a meeting knowing that I would have to be walking outside in the cold. The pants were an unapologetic kelly green and the shirt a silky black find for our last trip west.

Here comes the part where I show my nerve. I love this shirt. Love it, love it, love it. I love that it has a ruffley front that probably flies in the face of trends but makes me feel sassy. I dig that it has a three quarter sleeve that doesn't make me feel like my arms are too long. I am wild about the way it hangs just right so that I don't have the to tuck or not to tuck fretting issue. I giggle at the way that the collar opening frames my neck and makes my hair look chic. Rather than choking up I feel giddy as the girls eyes pop when they see me in it. "Oooh, mom, that's pretty."

But the thing I love, the thing that really makes me wrinkle my nose and do the mean pretty girl laugh is...kind of embarrassing as I sit here in my too small Target sleep tshirt in day-glo coral. It feels so far off, but it's still there.

My silky, funky, cut-just-right black shirt makes me look like I have a preserve-it-in-a-pin-up-poster-OMFG-rack.

There.
I said it.
My boobs look good in the shirt. No air of those girls are meant for nursing, no "that shirt is cut too low and all I see is cleavage," just pure, undeniable that shirt and that chest make beautiful music together.

As I said here, deal with it. Today this mama is owning the fact that she felt sexy. And that feels sexy and frankly with three kids a small business and part time day care, sexy can be in short supply.

You can go here and read another kind of deal with it or you can stay here and sing your own. C'mon, it feels good. What's your good girl's bad girl confession?

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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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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Naptime musing

I decided that I should put naptime to good use, unfortunately I just came up with a bunch of questions.

Why does the shower curtain liner always fold in on itself and get bitty mold spots no matter how diligently I spray it with cleaner, scrub and dry it?

What is the clear sticky substance that always glues down anything I put on the second shelf of the fridge?

Do I have stress induced bald patches in my eyebrows or do I suck at plucking?

Does the Garnier under-eye, silver ball thing I bought actually make a difference or do I just feel better for having tried something?

Does a 3rd cup of coffee make me weak?

Does Fin have any idea how much I love it when she clings to me?

Can I possibly protect Briar from inheriting the traits from me that have caused me the greatest heartache?

Exactly how long will it be before Avery breaks another bone?

Am I beginning to look like a ventriloquist doll?





Am I alone in wondering these kinds of things?

Updated to add:

Briar just said, as she stroked the front of my shirt, "Mom, your belly looks like it is just going big again. Like you are having another baby. Are you?"

Horror! At least I was alone. But damn, for the record—

Here's what she pointed at:



And here it is in profile with no sucking in. It may not be taut, but expectant? Excuse me while I go and weep quietly in the corner as I imagine the things she'll say when she is actually trying to hurt my feelings.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Look at you!

Whoops, for those of you catching me in your reader, surprise. That's what a bit of dust, a late night and a precariously perched laptop while blogging will get you.

The old premature publication

Sorry.

I was taking a demi break between assignments to pop my head in and say hello. A freshly shorn and highlighted head, natch. After what might be called a famously bad day or an eerily prescient message, I darted down to Saratoga for a hair appointment I had scheduled months ago. It would be fair to say that I went just shy of kicking and screaming. Felt like I might have an accident, turns out the universe wanted me to get my hair done, it did NOT want me to do certain other things.

Fair enough universe, I may be stubborn, but I can take a hint.

Can you even stand the cryptocity? Like that? This day has been so odd I am making up words. I think I'd actually do quite well to make up words. If Perez can say, "Ridonculous," "celebutard," and other stuff that makes me roll my eyes and think, "Damn, he's just making stuff up and people keep reading it," then I can too. Or not.

Back to, "Look at you!"

I am constantly exclaiming just that to the girls. Life is a bit like an experience I had as an exchange student in Spain. My host family (Hola Marta!) had a chicken and pig farm. Joan and I were at the farm to visit the chickens. Joan took me into the space where the chickens were. It was amazing so many little chicks. A visit some two or three weeks later had the chickens every where, covering the floor of the building. It was constant motion, with little white bits of down fluttering everywhere, clinging to your clothes.

The girls, though perhaps not as prone to molting-like tendencies, are in constant motion, always underfoot, on my lap or clinging to my person in some way. I love it. I t can be an endurance sport, but really, my absence here is a testament to their pull. I find myself standing in the halo of their vivacity as if taking in the sun.

This afternoon I left as Sean took my place, a moat of princess tiles circling his feet before he knew what hit him. I trudged to the car thinking that I was abandoning my spot, but I was wrong. When I returned home, my hair flippy and streaky, they were there. The princess tiles had migrated, closer to Sean's post at the stove. They were twinkling and giggling, breathless to share what they'd been doing while I was away.

And so it was that I found myself falling in love all over again, with my girls, my hair, my husband and my haven, this place I can come to, daily, or not, to share.

Thanks for being here.

What have you been up to?

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Deal with it

That's what he said, "Deal with it."

It hit me like a face full of ice water.

"You are better in your sleep than most people are on their best day."

I tried not to be annoyed, not to roll my eyes and think, "Do you have to deliver the compliments in such an annoyed and obnoxious way?"

He read my mind.

"I can't figure out a way to say this so that you'll hear me. It's exhausting."

Then I felt like smiling, which pissed me off.

He saw that too.

I cracked wise and we both relaxed a bit. He's right, but so am I— I realize I didn't explain to you the basis for all of this, but it doesn't matter. Trust me. Every so often I veer off course and let insecurities get the better of me. More often than not I recognize them for what they are; stalling tactics or passive aggressive attempts to go around something rather than straight through.

Now I find myself emboldened. I remember talking about a similar thing a while back, I called it a rear view mirror confession. A good friend printed it and sent it to me on my birthday. I'll never forget that. Thank you, Cindie.

So let's revisit the idea of acknowledging some things, good and bad.

I am a hand-wringer. Not always, but often enough to know that it could be used in a list of things about me.

I wear short sleeves year-round. My arms are long and my shoulders are broad, my torso is long too, but not so broad. Long sleeves fit me weird and if I'm cold I'll put on a coat. Deal with it.

I judge inseams. Seriously people, make sure they're long enough, it doesn't cost anymore to size up an inch or two.

I break cameras. So help me, but any camera with me, though deeply cherished and revered, has a significantly diminished lifespan. Can't explain it. I need a new camera. Sob.

I kinda love my body right now. There are hollows and curves that aren't exactly as I'd like them, but overall, the lines of my face and the planes of my body are dear to me. Rambo shoulders, phlebotomist-wet-dream-veins, muscular calves, big feet and stubborn chin. Mine.

I don't cook the same thing twice. No recipes, no discipline, just fun.

I am tuning out and going to hang with my kids. I beat myself up for this, never truly unplugging. But I am. Now. Deal.

Can you tell people to deal with it?

Can you?

Do it.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Dreadtime

Three kids, you'd think I'd know better. I mean Briar was a nightmare, granted we didn't know it, but in the bedtime territory she was a nightmare. Then came Avery, she wasn't hard, but she wasn't easy. Now Fin, my little Fin-diddle is such a riddle.

One day she sleeps, down at 9am with coos and sighs, up for giggles and cuddles again until 1 or 2. The afternoon is spent napping in her crib, then up again for more playing and eating, Dad walks through the door and they nap through the news. Dinner, then bed. Following a day of routine naps she might wake up at 4am, but I really don't mind that.

What I do mind, dread really, are the days when she doesn't want to wake up with the rest of us—it never ends well. Today was just such a day, when we got home at three Erin told us, "You guys, you guys, ok, listen to what Fin did. I put her down at 9:15 and she slept until—" (she looked at the clock and did some math) "she slept from 9:15 until 1:15. Can you believe that?"

I could. I looked at Fin and she gave me a placid look. I shivered. Lately it seems like when my normal allotment of sleep deprivation is tweaked, be it adding more or restructuring its composition, I suffer. Breakouts, breakdowns, you get the idea. Last night was bad and I knew after the nap that the night ahead was not going to be easy.

Sean is upstairs with Fin, the fifth time one of us has gone to her since she was put to bed. It is nothing short of relentless to go up and down, hopping this way and that to avoid the familiar creaks on the floor, the groans of the stairs. Just when you think you've made it she rouses, first a new and then a scream. Or you settle in for a cuddle and just as you feel as if you are done, free to just laze about, she wakes again, or somebody needs water, or a snack, or to pee or to just randomly wake up a sibling.

We groan a bit at each new cry, the passive aggressive game of bedtime chicken, until one of us finally pops up. I hate not wanting to go up, hate the sensation of just wanting peace. The irony is in the peace I find when I scoop her up, the intensity of her relief, the way she scoots her legs up as she wraps her arms around my neck. The warmth of her skin and the softness of her hair take me back to the delivery room. We had all three girls in the same room of the hospital and I can remember the way each head felt on my chest, the first time they nursed, the way their bodies fit into my arms.

I am grateful for this connection, because I promise, without the reminders of love and wonder, bedtime could effectively end the human race.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Broken, but not worthless

My camera is broken, otherwise I'd show you proof that my dryer is broken. It's beginning to look like a cross between performance art and a housekeeping walk-out— wet laundry languishing, unwashed laundry mounting, folded laundry permanently stationed in hampers so as not to encourage the gathering of more dirty laundry which cannot be washed.

This morning as I tried to assemble an outfit after being out of town for over a week, I looked like one of those dogs that is relegated to turning in hysterical circles as visitors approach.

I walked to the dresser— nothing.
I circled back to the closet— nothing.
I knelt down and pawed through a hamper of folded clothes— nada.
I rifled through the still-not-unpacked-suitcases— zilch.
I returned to the closet— still nothing. This went on and on, until...

"Mom, can you get me dressed? In my red, reindeer sweater with the zipper that I love 'cause it's my favorite?"

And the circling began anew.

I made it to work, dressed no less. I am not wild about the outfit, but it is more than jeans and a tee.

I am dreading the mountain of clothing that is begging to be washed, the sheets on the bed that I want to change, but hesitate to remove for what it will mean to the great, unwashed heap, however the kitchen is clean.

If you follow me on Facebook you saw that this weekend revealed just how far the cat hidden in our attic went to to claim the space as his own. What I didn't share is that I cleaned it and while I was at it I purged a bunch of stuff, organized and reclaimed the space.

The girls have me going non-stop and yet there was a moment this weekend that was nothing short of perfect in its oh-my-goodness-I-have-three-daughters sweetness.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that despite the state of disrepair of many things, my life, my personal state of affairs, is beautiful. I'm almost grateful I don't have the camera to try and capture it, this moment in time.

My beautifully broken, dirty, wacky and haphazardly dressed life.

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Haunted.

Sorry, were you looking for something profound? This isn't it. This is straight up coveting.

You know when you see something and know you have to have it? I wasn't quite there. Now I am. It's in-your-face-yellow and covered in graphics. I want, oh how I want, want, want.



Oh, Lulu Lemon, you are my kryptonite! Special thanks to Karla for introducing me to LL and igniting an addiction. And thanks to Mom and Abs for finally getting me there at a time when I could appreciate it.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Hope Swings Eternal

I've been away, literally and figuratively. I've been finding my wings. I'm thinking about coming down to earth, down from this buoyant perch filled with giggles and whispers, skipping and laughing, exclaims at dawn and smiling yawns.



Thanks for waiting.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Decorating the days

Through the window I can see icicles suspended beneath branches, silver droplets casting rainbows and carving bowls in the snow. There are cardinals and blue jays, bunnies and tom cats. Ribbons billow from the birdhouse, hangers-on from a summer party. The sheer curtain, with its lacy border, flutters as the furnace blows, Cheerios skitter on the floor and the pages curl. Sparkle paint and colored construction paper upstaging the winter scene beyond. My life inside, my girls and the exquisite mess that comes from playing and loving, dazzle, pressing on my heart and stoking my soul— I am alive. Here, in the midst of what I can only describe as heaven on earth.

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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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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Edges— blurred and sharp

Time has been treacherous lately, whether it's managing the preschool snack responsibility schedule or just keeping bread in the house, I seem to be on a wheel spinning faster than I can carry my feet. We haven't had any complete busts, but there have been forgotten backpacks and tardy arrivals. My nights, once long enough to fit blog entries and tv, have become a startling whoosh of checking the mail to chucking the night's unfinished dinners into the trash after a lengthy bedtime routine.

Sean and I are working together, literally in the same office, yet our rhythm is off, taking me back to my hurdling days— stutter steps to avoid a spill from misjudging distance or awkward lunges to try and catch up. There is no anger, but unapologetic exhaustion and disappointment fill the air.

The girls are a carousel; alternately gay and inviting or cacophonous and harrowing. They spin round and round, their braids and pigtails unravelling and their necks longer with each passing moment. I pause to track the pattern, to find my way on, to at least be upon the same wave of time, but as I prepare to leap there is a crescendo—a tooth.

A word.
A triumph of autonomy that nearly mocks me with its finality.

My weariness, a growing awareness of this passage of time, of the inevitability of their growing. Leaving. I see myself, the lines of my body beautiful and strong, the architecture of my face familiar and forgiven. I want to live in this moment, throw back my head and leave the dishes for another day while I spin with Sean, deep romantic dips by moonlight in the kitchen. I want to sprawl along the floor and frolic with the girls. I am desperate to explode within now. I want not to look back even a year from now and think, "Why didn't I just do it?"

And yet, as he rubs my shoulders or as they beg for a story, I find myself tragically frozen, wistful for what has already passed, devastated by the time tomorrow will mark as gone. I throw this out now to startle myself. A jump start. No more ruing what I haven't done. The prick of aging and missing can be caresses of achieving and choosing, if I only forgive myself my mortality. My imperfections.

I just want to catch up to my now.

****

My now just woke. A howl from upstairs, my order back from my reverie. We do this day by day, don't we? By the time I get up those stairs I am going to have forgiven myself, because not to, well that's just unforgivable, isn't it?

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Monday, January 12, 2009

D'lurk delovelies

It's a jolly holiday with you Burt...

Been watching lots of Mary Poppins at Chez Wink. Seriously people, I flit, I float, I want to slit my throat. That's awful isn't it, but it's so bad I am missing Yo Gabba Gabba. Sure, it was sweet at first, sort of Little House on the Prairie, squeaky clean, "My kids are singing along with Julie Andrews while your kids sit, eyes glazed before the golden bangs of Hanna Montana," righteousness. Now? Well, now I fear that I may end up a bit like the jolly uncle, floating on the ceiling laughing at god knows what.

I now totally get this:



So, as I sit gently rocking myself in the corner willing the dancing penguins to waddle off and take Mary and Burt with her, I'll brandish the Delurking Flasher and ask you to show yourself.



C'mon, it won't — a spoonful of sugar and all that...
Let me know that I am not alone, that you are here. Anything to get me to stop singing...did you realize that I actually included a Sound of Music song? Know why? Because when they aren't watching Mary Poppins, it's the Sound of Music. Clearly they dig Julie, think I should try Victor Victoria?

*************

Today my sister is 30. No names, no teasing, just this— I love you, Abs. Happy Birthday!

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sea Change

I am admittedly bad with history and geography, like Leno-stupid-people-bad or "Are you smarter than a 5th grader?" bad. It's embarrassing and something that needs to be remedied before the girls are old enough to realize mom's kind of a ditz. Luckily little things like floor size puzzles of the United States I no longer imagine Wyoming and Montana being reversed. Next up, maps of Europe, South America, with Asia and Africa to follow. The history thing is going to be a wing and a prayer and a whole lot of, "Hmm, ask Daddy," I think.

I used to be proud of my celebrity knowledge. It was my thing: who dated which star, what movie starred which actor etc. I still follow some of this, but lately Perez Hilton has lost a bit of its allure. I don't really care to spend time checking to see what state of undress Amy Winehouse is stumbling about London in, or how hard it is for Jessica Biehl to get people to understand that her relationship with Justin is sacred.

Last night a promo for the Golden Globes came on, it was a blur of flesh, bling and excess. I was shocked by how visceral my response was, never one to sort of decry the inappropriateness of something, I flinched. I remember after 9/11 they were canceling award shows, stating that to celebrate seemed disrespectful. Now I find myself wondering, how, in a time when so few of us can even afford a movie ticket, they can think this is respectful.

I want no part of this celebration. For once I have no interest in gawking at dresses, with their plunging necklines and million dollars jeweled accessories. I don't want to root for this person or that person. I want to turn inward and be thankful for what I have. As that show airs I'll be sitting with my girls, likely in a pair of jeans and unkempt hair. The only fancy frocks will be on the girls as they twirl and giggle on our kitchen floor. We don't have a villa in France and I haven't played any role other than mom, wife and a friend, but we have plenty to celebrate and we'll be doing it in the first person, rather than in some virtual audience.

I'm surprised, not sure if this is fueled by my age or my situation, but I think we have some re-evaluating of values we need to do. A little less idol worship and a bit more self-awareness and presence in the moment. I think ten minutes listening to five minutes of your kid theorizing on the ingredients in a cucumber (no, really, five minutes) will sustain and delight you in ways that five minutes of Jessica Alba blathering on about the art of whatever never could.

Go ahead, ignore the drama of the pampered, polished and privileged for a moment and just live in your own story.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Tentative Update and Forceful Thanks

This will be brief as I don't want to muddy anything with emotional meandering.

Your thanks, via your comments, emails and attendance surpassed anything I had imagined might happen when I pressed publish. Eight days have passed and while we hear utterings like, "out of the woods" and "recovery," there is still worry.

Dennis—dad, husband, son, uncle, friend, has been hearing your comments and, as I am told by his daughter Erin, has smiled at the notion of a post about him. The idea of that smile and of something other than the color of the walls and the sterility of the environment to talk about, makes me feel as if together we accomplished something.

As for concrete things to update, Dennis was extubated late last week and is able to breathe on his own. He took a hell of a beating from the truck and has had significant pain to cope with, one part of which is a kind of damage to his leg that has had specialists scratching their heads, weighing whether to operate or not.

Friday night they finally arrived at the decision to operate. He was transferred, via ambulance, nearly two hours to the hospital with the most qualified orthopedic trauma surgeon. We have no date for surgery, nor a solid timeline to recovery, but we do have this;

Dennis.

We also have specialists joining the circle of people hoping, wishing and praying for his return to health. So on the eve of a New Year and what I hope will be the start of renewed health for Dennis, I thank you— we thank you. Your words, your visits and your emails have simply meant the world.

My hope will be to publish photos here later to share with you the image of a beaming Dennis as he walks his Erie down the aisle.

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

On the subject of blessings

When last I posted I was bitching. Now it's a few days later, a few feet of fallen snow and a whole new perspective. A few days ago Maggie wrote a post, today I went and visited the reason for her post. We do these things: we dedicate posts, we leave comments, we visit.

I am not sure that when I do things like write about sweet Serenity, that they actually make things better, but they give me a sense of having used what I have to help. Today I am writing because in this time of blessings and family I find myself struggling to figure out how to help. I think you hold the key, you there reading this post, maybe waiting for news of the Briar or Avery or the latest update of what Fin can do. I promise a post soon that will give you that and more, but today I need you. I need your ear and then, if you're willing, your words.

Friday night Sean's Uncle Dennis was struck by a truck. He is here on the East Coast and as we emerged from what would be the first of three heavy storms, he was snow blowing his driveway. He was struck by a truck that lost control before it had a chance to slow down. 25 miles an hour. This accident was the kind of thing that I had heretofore only read about. Now, it is two days later and it is real. There is no end in sight to the hospitalization. Surgeries. Tests. Worry.

His name is Dennis and he is without question the most gentle soul I have ever known. He has, since the first time we met some eight years ago, treated me as both family and friend. He is the kind of person who always listens before speaking. When he sees you his face lights up in a way that makes you feel as if you are special; as if you have a story that is exceptionally riveting. He just makes you feel special, or at least he has done that for me.

Barely a month since losing his mom, Helen (an unbelievably bubbly and sassy woman), he is laid up in a hospital, a hospital his wife works in, and a hospital that is only able to do what it is able to do. Three amazing children— Chefs Ryan and Ian and civil engineer, Erin, sit in vigil, a wife, Debbie, waits struggling between her role as partner and nurse.

I realize this is unconventional for me, but today I am asking you to comment. Take a moment to leave words of encouragement or a prayer. I cannot heal Dennis, but what I can do as he makes the courageous fight to convalesce, is offer your words. You see, despite being related tangentially by marriage, he loves my blogs— reads them more than other family members. Raves about them whenever we meet.

I am hoping that to present him with your words will make him understand how desperately I wanted to help and how fiercely proud I am that he is a part of my family.

Thank you for helping me to help Dennis. I believe in this most magical time of the year, that together, we can make magic.






*Thank you.

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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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