Saturday, March 18, 2017

7/52 & 8/52 & 9/52 & 10/52.

This little forum of mine has gotten away from me lately. February was warm and March has been cold. During a warm stretch I got over-excited and planted some perennials, only to find them piled with snow and ice a week later. I cut many of our daffodils before the winter storm and enjoyed them indoors, but found the ones I did not snip did manage through the weather and are now reaching their heads upwards again. So it's been a game of getting ahead, of losing ground, of playing catch up, and of learning if I just sat back and did nothing the world would still turn. But of course.

Nobody has adjusted to the daylight savings shift, but it's nice to feel a stronger sunshine on the afternoons the sun does shine. Two weeks ago we all took a turn with the stomach flu and it was about as hideous as you can expect. Then the following week Genevieve fell off the dining room chair and split her lip, earning five stitches. She is fine now and will never remember it. And I forgive myself, as accidents happen. But I'm not sure I will ever forget the blood-soaked images of that morning. A lip can really bleed. I'm so sorry, my littlest girl.

To encourage spring along we have started our vegetable garden indoors under a grow light. Passerby likely think there is something far more nefarious than arugula growing on our windowsill. So be it. Jon and I celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary, and we installed a tree swing. Not in that order. But: Thirty-six feet of rope! I am probably asking for another accident, but it sure is fun. And so up and down, back and forth we go ...

Monday, February 13, 2017

5/52 & 6/52.

This time of year when the late-winter skies are so often blanketed in grey, I have a physical ache for color and light and sun. Optimism comes more as a choice, it seems, than a natural state of being. I find myself ignoring what really needs to get done and instead pacing the perimeter of our yard, rethinking the garden in its entirety. The perennials are there, hibernating underfoot, but I cannot will any memory of their whereabouts. Trees are bare, their ridges, fissures and furrows in plain view. But I can't recall just how full their branches get, or remember exactly how much sun filters through to the beds below. And though I appreciate the art found in the knotted, naked mess of our wisteria, I am craving more lush surroundings. Summertime seems an eternity away. And yet! The other day I spotted a crocus in the yard. The angle of the afternoon sun is stronger. Promises, more promises of the season's coming change.

We've kept busy lately. Days there are no school we march our runny noses to museums and then return home again to cuddle on couches and read and read and read. And cook. Yes, there has been lots of cooking lately. This is mostly because Genevieve isn't particularly enjoyable to have out at restaurants at the moment. Cecile is going through a bit of a picky-eating phase, which is frustrating because it's so unlike her. But she has such focus in the kitchen. When the mood is right, she can be quite the little sous chef. My Genevieve is a downright delightful child. Truly. Ear infections continue to come and go with her, but she remains mostly upbeat and I am grateful my winter melancholy hasn't rubbed off on her. 

I can hardly believe camp registration is upon us. Perhaps that's why summertime is on the brain. This year, Genevieve will be eligible to attend a program, and so I'm asking myself how much time I want to myself. I am out of practice at "me" and I am so excited to be reacquainted. But I can hear the echoes of every grandmother I've ever met, their it-goes-so-fasts and gone-before-you-know-its. It's true I barely remember what life was like before someone else dictated the emotional tick-tock of my everyday. What a beat it is.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

3/52 & 4/52

There are only a handful of hours every week that all four members of our family are together. So if I'm going to take time away, it's going to be spent meaningfully. Last Saturday I marched in the Women's March on Washington. I left to go out and vent political frustrations and personal fears, but mostly to raise my voice for my two daughters, who cannot. Skies were overcast, but the crowd was radiant. The day brimmed with love and dissent, and I was so relieved to discover so many millions of others around the world feel as anxious as I do. "This is the upside of the downside," Gloria Steinem said at the rally. And she's right: despite the unnerving truth that we were protesting a leader with grossly uninformed perceptions of reality, I was having a fantastic time shouting and dancing in the streets surrounded by so many smart and witty and strong and brave and passionate people. 

Since their conception, my children have forced me to think beyond the immediate. How is our behavior, how are our decisions going to impact the future? Well, I am grimly vindicated that the country in the hands of a nihilistic narcissist is as scary as I thought it would be: climate change denial, amped up nuclear tensions, limitations imposed on the press, isolationism and xenophobia, spiderwebs of spin and lies, mostly lies. However, I refuse to let anger and fear consume our family these next four years. There is real work ahead and I have a sobered awareness of my obligations to my girls and greater community. But I am also trying to hold room in my heart for love, to be present for all the good that can come in the day-to-day. I am upset, but I know we're some of the lucky ones. 
This last week I looked at my phone too often, gave too much attention to the ping of every news alert. I have also not been very good about masking my feelings over the changes in Washington. "Trump has a hard time telling the truth," Cecile declared over breakfast yesterday. While I was bemused my four-year-old can get the facts straighter than our Commander in Chief (I also didn't counter her; sorry, not sorry), I don't think it's entirely fair to expose her to any of this mess. But I'm so frustrated, and some events I read about audibly take my breath away. The kids feel that. It's difficult to be both an informed, active citizen and a good, attentive mother. I want to do more, on all fronts. I must contribute to the world I want more of, starting at home and branching outward. 

Monday, January 16, 2017

1/52 & 2/52.

A change of scenery always helps bring things into focus for me, and for the fifth year running we rang in the New Year in sunny Florida. And even though there isn't necessarily any rest found on a family vacation (lo, the tensions between an adult desire to stay still and rest, and the childhood impulse to move and explore!), I am always so grateful for this trip. There is something fraudulent about stripping your winter coat in January, like we're getting away with a heist. The children dictate the pulse of the day, so there were sandcastles underfoot, tea served in seashells, and waves to run away from as quick as a sandpiper. I saw a sea turtle this trip. It bobbed to the surface for air and then was gone. Much like the week.

We came home to ice and snow. Oh, our frozen toes! Cecile was happy to return to her classroom, where she told her friends she spent the week in Gift Shop, Fla. Genevieve continues to grow in body and with her words, even combining them together: "coat, hat on," "mama, down" are examples. "No," is a favorite word at the moment, as is "stroller," which she says with such pursed, tight lips she looks like a guppy. The two of them are such buddies. There are fights and competitions for attentions, but they work so hard at trying to make each other laugh and are already very good at teaming up on me. They never stop moving and at the end of every day I am physically and mentally exhausted. I think someday I'll view this phase in my life as a long-exposure photograph: a scene captured over a length of time which grows clearer with distance. 

Friday, December 30, 2016


I took down the Christmas tree last night. It's needles are (mostly) cleared off our floors and the rest of our decorations, in boxes. As much as I enjoy decking the halls, by the end of December I'm always ready for the holidays to be over, to strip everything as bare as the trees outside.

So 2016 ... This was a challenging year. I'm trying to reflect and think of the small ways we've grown, the way the year's events have forced evolution. Personally, I raised my voice this year more than I'd like to admit. I need to be better about "taking five" in front of the girls. One resolution I will carry into 2017 is to visit one museum or monument every month together. I learned (or relearned) it is easier to have the kids outside bundled with hats and gloves with the winter wind hurling us about, than keeping them indoors and praying for peace. This week alone we marched to the park and to the Botanical Gardens and went to a children's tour at the Library of Congress. Oh, and of course there was one last stop at the pediatrician to check Genevieve's ear. Prices paid, I suppose. I started exercising again this year and it has changed me in ways I cannot describe. I drank more water. I wasn't great about sticking to our budget, which bums Jon out (sorry, babe); and I didn't publish a single article, which bums me out. But at least I'm writing in this space. 

Flipping back through the year's pictures gives me pause. Genevieve started the year rolling and she's ending it running. And there's nary a trace of baby left on Cecile's face. She's such a kid now. My girls are both challenging and a joy, in different ways. I am ready to continue writing our narrative in the New Year, together ...