Thursday, December 31, 2009

a new year

The house is suddenly, unexpectedly quiet. I put on my own music and hide ‘The Cat Came Back’ in a stack of other CDs. I’m standing in the living room, strapping Amelia’s stick horse’s head back into it’s bridle when I realize that the year is ending. The other evening I heard a song on the radio that came out when I was in high school. It’s one of those songs that has all this memory, and nostalgia tied to it, and brings back the intensity of every major (or minor) daily event- the way we feel when we’re 15, or the way I did, anway. And it just happens to be about the year ending. This song came on while I’m sitting in the very un-chic-but-oh-so-necessary-when-you’re-breastfeeding recliner that lives in our kitchen. I’m holding Aven on my lap (just post feeding) and I start singing along with this song, and she goes crazy! She squawks along, coos, waves her arms and legs, gives me that wonder-filled wide mouth, wide eyes look, loving it. So I sing this song to her that reminds me of being 15, of the glow of blue Christmas lights strung across my room, the first boy I really loved, the snow outside my window, the feeling that my life was just beginning to start. And I had this moment with her, sharing this sudden memory, this slice of emotion from my past. So days later, the song is still in my head, and I used to own the CD, but sold it in college when I was broke, I think, or gave it to someone…in any event, I don’t have it and I am feeling that obsessed with a song feeling that also reminds me of being 15, but one difference between then and now is ITunes (which I’ve just learned to use in the last month or so), so viola- I now have the song!

Only it’s not the same. I play it once, then over again. I sing along.

Then I realize that it’s not the same for me, because I’m not looking forward to something better anymore. The last year of my life was pretty damn amazing; I became a mother again- and it didn’t scare me this time, I was able to really soak it up and enjoy the amazingness of all of it, I grew a fabulous garden, Amelia learned to talk so I've been let in on all her ideas, and humor, and sweetness, Mike and I are (quite possibly) better than we've ever been together, I made new friends, I wrote some poetry, and I got creative in new ways.

I am looking forward, but not as a way to escape where I am now…I want to let it roll over me with that same wide eyed joy, mouth open, tasting, breathing in each new thing.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

the dancing gene

It must be something I unknowingly handed down…a dancing gene that I’d suppressed starting in junior high when our little school ‘dances’ in the gymnasium left my usually athletically confident self, a little unsure…then more unsure. Then absolutely sure that I had no rhythm and could not dance to save my life. But before all that, I had danced. There was ritual to it, and tradition. Each year on the night our Christmas tree was lit and decorated and standing very tall in the living room (my mom was a fan of old-growth tree harvest), my sister and I would dress up in all the flowy, gauzy, poofyness we could find, and we would dance like the most graceful of ballerinas beneath the light of the tree. It became our tradition, something that welcomed in that Christmas-y feeling, that made us feel that the world was a slightly more magical place during the month of December, that feeling that is so strong when you’re a kid. Last night while I was making dinner and simultaneously rocking Aven on my hip, listening to NPR, and drinking a glass of wine (a bit in my own world, I will admit), Amelia dug into her dress-up trunk, decked herself out in purple velvet and a crown and began dancing all by herself in the living room beneath the light of the Christmas tree. My girl has the dancing gene! I put on some Mozart, grabbed a few long, flowy scarves, and the three of us danced back and forth across the living room with all the grace, wonder, and joy that I remember, that I thought I had lost as I left childhood.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I don't feel that I've lived a particularly sheltered life. I've wandered a bazaar in Istanbul, slept beneath the stars in the fabulously cosmic Oak Creek Canyon in Arizona, lived on my own for a summer in the West Indies...but there is nothing, nothing, nothing that makes me feel more grateful to be alive than this:Aven has been fighting off (yet another)winter cold, and the cough in her chest sounds way too big for her small body. Soothing her to sleep on my shoulder and feeling her body relax against me is what makes me willing to walk the house with her, swaying and singing for as long as she needs me to.

All I Want

I know the time will come when both girls will have things on their Christmas lists that I cannot or will not want to get for them. Friends of mine with older children talk about the wishes for cell phones, video games, expensive brands of clothes...but I am happy to be currently living in a time when all Amelia asks for is a bongo drum, a blue scarf, and a Bob Marley CD. Her list could have been my sister's after she turned 14 and entered her hippie stage (or my own, for that matter). Along with the blue scarf, I raced through the making of two stockings for the girls while they were napping. They're still waiting for some white fuzz at the top, and a loop to hang them by...but I vow that they will be hanging by the fireplace by Christmas Eve! Amelia loved decorating the tree...and taking the ornaments off and leaving them all over the house, then finding them and decorating the tree all over again. So far the tree has fallen over twice...Santa made a guest appearance in town on Saturday, so of course we were there. Amelia was pretty unsure about Santa and way more interested in the shelter cats that were there to be adopted, but once she found out that Santa had candy, she was all over it.

Wishing a holiday full of peace and light to all of you!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Tree

Mike and I had known each other for about two months when we first went Christmas tree hunting together. It seems like such a small thing, but his approach to choosing the perfect Christmas tree made me realize that I had found someone who would bring a new perspective, a mindfulness to things I had not given much thought to before. He will not cut a perfectly symmetrical, beautiful tree if it stands all alone in the forest. A tree that is obviously flourishing where it is, gets to remain there, if Mike is doing the cutting. No, he looks for a nice looking tree that is crowding out other trees, or being crowded…the man does selective thinning for forest health when we get a Christmas tree!
This would have been a complete family photo-very Christmas card appropriate, but Amelia fell asleep on the drive into the mountains, and I absolutely subscribe to the 'never wake a sleeping baby, or grizzly bear' philosophy.
More attempts at seasonal festivities: I remember building these things in elementary school...but for some reason it was a little more challenging this year! We just decided to call the roof cave-in a sky-light.
And one last one of the cutest monkey ever in her sling:

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Deep Breath

Spent the weekend with my dad, inhaling numbing air on long walks as the girls stayed warm in the zipped-up stroller, drinking good local beer (dad & I, not the girls!), and having great talks. It is cold...the kind of cold that makes you suck in your breath when you walk outside. I think of visits five years ago, or even last summer and I realize how different my attitude toward my whole life is now, how content I am with my world at the moment. For us, everything slows down this time of year. The list of things to accomplish on a Sunday shrinks to simply reading books together on the couch, an easy walk, friends, fireplace time. Mike's work slows down some, and we're really starting to settle into life as a foursome. This feels right. I hear from friends traveling in India, or I make vague plans for my next career, but mostly I'm so happy with my world as it is right now.
I've felt that punched-in-the-stomach feeling most the day, after reading a friend's blog about her tiny daughter who is terribly sick. Sweet baby is now on the mend, but I've been struck all day long by every moment I need to appreciate, to soak in...hugging my dad at the airport, Amelia making 'rainbows' in the sand at the park, Mike and I laughing at something that neither of us even had to say out loud, Aven's 'I-love-my-world' expressions.
I am feeling thankful for every second in this warm, light house full of my favorite people, and the sweet, deep breaths of a slow winter night.
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