Hanging and hanging out

I promised myself that we would hang things on E's walls before her first birthday. It was an arbitrary deadline but a reasonable, attainable one, or so it seemed at first. Then her birthday came and went, without a single thing hung up in her room.

I am still amazed how much activation energy is required to get most anything done now that we have two kids. To hang a few things on the walls of a single room seems like such a simple thing, one that I could take up on a whim before I had kids. Now, it requires both adults to be available (one has to hold the photo up and one has to supervise, as well as run interference with the kids) AND both kids to be awake but reasonably safely entertained. For us, this is pretty much impossible. IM. POSSIBLE. We'd attempted to hang these things for months but by the time we agreed it was a good time to try, set up the kids with toys/snacks, gathered the necessary materials, placed the items where we thought them best, marked the spots, and begun to raise the hammer.... one or both of the girls would need a direct intervention of the diaper/potty/snack-procurement/life-preserving variety and we would lay it to rest for another.... month.

We finally did it this weekend. It took the better part of a day to align all the planets and make it happen but we did it. And it was worth it. Now there are some things of beauty to catch your eye in her little room and it makes me so very happy.

Only 1,248 more rooms to decorate! We should be done by 2035!

So we didn't make it by my arbitrary deadline. But we almost did and they're hung now and maybe that's all the matters.

The rest of our weekend was a blur of hot humid days spent ignoring the rest of our to-do list, chewing corn on the cob, laughing with friends and sitting nekkid in the baby pool. How about yours?


The view from the left side of the stroller

On a walk that only two out of the four of us wanted, I gave Z my Iphone and showed her how to play a barnyard game. Then I showed her how to slide her finger through the photos. When she wanted me to show her how to take pictures, I did that too.

In return, as always, she showed me how she sees the world.

And it's a beautiful sight.


Barometer rising

Best barometers of my day-to-day mood:

1. The number of times I snap at our dog, our poor, Sweet Dog, who asks for nothing much beyond some food, the occasional chance to run in circles and the ability to follow me everywhere I go. She is such a love and so easy, really, especially for a dog, and still, STILL, I've snapped at her repeatedly the last few days.

2. The number of times I sneak off to reach into the top right shelf of our pantry, behind the fruit twists and the ancient boxes of graying, grizzled raisins and blindly but deftly snap off a hunk of dark chocolate to stuff in my mouth before anyone sees me.

3. The number of times I find myself pondering blog posts with titles like "The way it is" or "How it goes" or "WTF? AM I THE ONLY ONE WHO PICKS UP AROUND HERE?".


(Today's tally so far: 11. Anything over 10 means direct Intervention with a capital-I and it's only 9 am.)


This time of year is hard for me, always. There are so many birthdays (Z, E, CG, my mom, countless friends) and holidays and the days are getting longer so every one's sleep is all messed up ("But Mommy! At nigh-night you always say 'See you when the sun comes up!' and the SUN IS UP!!"). We are heading into hot, sticky summer, when we should be outside all the time but it's too sticky and buggy already and we have to put on sunscreen and bug spray and I refuse to use DEET but there is serious Lyme disease here. I left earthquake danger behind in California but now when I can't sleep I imagine tiny little ticks crawling into my ears to suck my brain dry and leave me with some dread version of chronic Lyme disease that I've heard rumors about and I'm SO SURE I will catch ANY DAY NOW.

And Ellie is into EVERYTHING. I cannot do a single thing when she is awake except for trying to keep her busy with something reasonably safe because to attempt to accomplish anything is to do something poorly while watching her dismantle something else. Plus, now that she's walking everywhere, she's SO quiet. When she was crawling I could at least follow the sound of her little palms slapping the floor. Now it's like she's some kind of tiny elephant with squishy fat pads silencing the sound of her stiff-legged drunken zombie stomp.

Our house is a wreck and I am currently failing to be all Zen about it. I loved Karen Maezen Miller's idea in Momma Zen (an amazing book, if you're interested) about viewing cleaning your home for guests as a sign of respect and welcoming, rather than as an ego-driven imperative. Unfortunately, when the AC guy came over yesterday, all I could see was the house as he must have seen it: floors covered in dog hair, plastic toys and kitchen implements and dirty laundry strewed everywhere, a preschooler hopped up on TV and a toddler with oatmeal in her hair who squawked and repeatedly grabbed at my earlobes looking for my tiny stud earrings that I have taken out because even those tiny ones she WILL NOT LEAVE ALONE.

It is embarrassing to admit I got all in a dither about what the freaking AC GUY thought but the house was in such a state that I apologized to him profusely and then cackled and smiled and apologized some more every time he stepped on a Lego or tripped on a plastic horse. It reminded me of when I was little and I would go to visit our neighbors house, the Catholic family with 18 kids (TRUE STORY) and there would be dirty diapers on the floor and peanut butter sandwiches under the couch cushions and I would marvel at the chaos even as I contributed to it with my tangle of tiny plastic Barbie shoes and My Little Ponies.

Somehow, our house has become that house. And we only have two kids.

I think I need some more dark chocolate.



Today I'm taking E for her 12 month appointment which means she's getting two thighfuls of shots which means I'm wringing my hands and thinking about posting what I ALWAYS post about on such occasions so let's think about something else, shall we??

Weddings! Dresses!

I have a wedding coming up and all my dresses look .....wrong. HELP! Which dress should I wear to an outdoor wedding in an arboretum? Vote in the poll over thar ------>

A. I adore this dress, have had it for many years and have NEVER worn it. It's summery and twirly and fun. But is it too.... little girly? Cutesie? And I can't really wear a bra with it, which is a tad problematic since my upper region is not so cutesie without one.

B. I love the way this dress feels. Super soft and comfy. And you can't tell but there's a little diagonal ruffle across the front. But is it too dark for a summer wedding? Also, I think I might need to invest in some serious Spanx to wear this dress without getting questions about being pregnant again and I hate the thought of wearing a hot Lycra sausage casing underneath it.

C. I could bring both and just decide when I get there.

D. I could go shopping and look for something else. (I hate to shop. And I kinda suck at it. Any specific suggestions for other beautiful! slimming! happy! dresses will be rewarded with my ETERNAL FRIENDSHIP AND ADORATION. And maybe even some chocolate!)

Oh, and I promise to take off the buzzkill of a sport watch for the actual wedding. And I might even possibly wash AND BRUSH my hair. I know! I'm THINKING CRAZY.


The first haircut, in stages




(Hey, wait a minute, is it just me or does it look like they didn't cut Z's hair ANY shorter?? Hmmmmm....)


Happy Birthday Eliza

Dear E,

If the first year of birthing and caring for and loving your sister turned me inside out, at times causing me to clutch at her too tightly and at others bringing me to despair that I wasn't clutching at her correctly or that I couldn't clutch her even more, birthing and caring for and loving you has brought me some peace. Sure our house is messier (even with a cleaning service) and I shower even less often than before (if that's possible) but I care less about the stuff that doesn't matter. Even better, it's a bit clearer to me what does matter.

First time motherhood made me want, desperately, to be an expert, to know all the answers. Second-time around, I want to learn how to really see, to let go, to go easy.

I'm not going to lie, this past year has been a difficult one for me and for us as a family. Our cross country move, with a change in our home and every part of our day-to-day lives, unfortunately coincided with your entrance into our family. We had to greet and get to know you in the midst of packing and goodbyes, cross country flights and sleepless nights, raw emotions and big changes, a new home full of boxes and a new life with no real friends. I sometimes catch myself wishing the year could have been different, easier, smoother. But it can't because it happened already, though I still fight that impotent yearning to make everything perfect for you and Z both.

(Perfect is the enemy of good. Perfect is the enemy of good. Perfect is the enemy of good.....)

We learned important lessons ("An FGO! Another F*&#ing Growth Opportunity!" as my father would say) and we've grown through this rough year. Most of all, we've healed (I hope).

When I was pregnant with you, I just flat out didn't believe I could love you as much as I loved your sister. It didn't seem physically possible to contain two such intense loves within the same heart. My mom kept telling me my heart would magically grow, and since I am a second child, I tried extra hard to believe her. I took the leap of faith. I hoped my leap would pan out.

It still boggles my mind, every now and then, that there somehow IS room for both of you in my heart and my memory bank. Even though my attention is more splintered and my time is more limited, the intensity of my love for each of you is miraculously undiluted. I gaze upon you with the same fierce adoration that I have for Z.

(Now I understand, Mom. You were right, as always.)

I can't imagine our family without you now. We wouldn't be the same without your mischievous growl, your sunny smile, your intense physicality, your delighted cackle, your steely determination. You have shown me just how different two babies can be; somehow the differences between you and Z make me see, understand and love her, and you, even more. You have given me perspective and wisdom and flat out joy that I just couldn't have gotten any other way.

It is a privilege to be your mother and I look forward to many more Eliza-inspired FGOs in the years to come.

Happy Birthday Eliza.


your Clueless But Hopeful Mama


The early bird, revised

Morning has always been my favorite time of day. I'm a morning person by nature and though you have every right to hate me for this, I've always thought it was a good, even fun, thing. For most of my life, I've woken up early, easily and quickly; my parents say that, as a baby, I would go from dead asleep to standing upright and jumping up and down in my crib in two seconds flat.

In college, I always woke up early and would often head to the library when it opened (Party animal!). I loved the quiet, the cool air, the empty spaces. Every soft loveseat and neatly lined-up chair seemed ready and ripe for my picking.

As an adult, before I had kids, I still woke up early. My favorite days were when I worked in the evenings. I would wake up early, without an alarm clock, and have several hours to read the newspaper or my book, drink tea, and pad around the house in my bathrobe watching the birds search for food outside my windows. I usually headed out to a dance class in mid-morning, then rehearsal, then a shift teaching Pilates or massaging wealthy ladies with necks stiff from lifting their Louis Vuitton luggage off the baggage carousel.

On other days, I worked early, teaching Pilates or giving massages to people before they headed off to work. On those days, I did need an alarm clock, as waking up at 4:30 am is not what even I consider a reasonable morning hour. But I still woke up quickly and came to enjoy the feeling of my work day being over by noon.

Now, of course, I have a new reason (actually TWO new reasons) for getting up early.

Most days, I am startled awake by E crying desperately in her crib. Jumping up while still half asleep, I land in a stiff crouch like an arthritic ninja. I wrap my bathrobe around me and stumble to her room to pick her up and nestle into the glider for a nursing session. She is grumpy when she wakes up but usually finds her smile half way through nursing. As her belly fills, her face softens, the wrinkles on her forehead disappear and her eyes open a few millimeters more to gaze up at me as if she's just noticed my arrival.

Oh hi
, she seems to say, GOOD MORNING.

"Good morning Ellie," I always say as I kiss her cheek, its softness on my lips bringing me fully awake, fully present. "Here's to a beautiful day."


Under her wing

Dear Mom,

I like to imagine that if I were to someday have a high-powered corporate job (after attending a business school with classes called 'What People Actually DO in High-Powered Corporations'), that there'd be some mentor, someone I would shadow to learn how to handle all the challenging work to come. This person would take me under their wing and prepare me to soar on my own, when the time came.

Since I've never had and, let's face it, NEVER WILL have some high-powered corporate job, I can only think about this job that I have now: motherhood. And how it was under your wing, Mom, that I learned to soar.

Sometimes when I find myself stymied with the girls- what to do, how to do it- I think "what would Mom do?". I usually can't find a specific answer in any recess of my brain since we all know that my brain, even the recesses, are empty of most useful long-term memories (unless you count all the choreography to every dance performance I've ever done since I was 8 and the lyrics to the entire Richard Marx catalogue). Since I totally took for granted how you comforted me during irrational fears or soothed my ego after a friend's bruising or convinced me I could possibly WIPE MY OWN BOTTOM, I still have to figure out the daily details of this job on my own.

But if I find my memories of specific mothering details lacking, I can always, always come up with a strong sense of who you were to me. Of how you felt to me. Of how you made me feel.

Safe. Important. Heard. Loved.

When I think about what I learned from you about this impossible job called mothering, I am able to remember to not get lost in the details of being a mother, to stop beating myself up over my daily imperfections. Though I pray that my daughters' memory banks will be holey in all the right places, I continue to strive to always, always give them the general foundation that you gave me and to let the details flow from there.

Let them know they are safe. They are important. They are heard. They are loved.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. Thanks for taking me under your wing, even if I took most of it for granted at the time and promptly forgot the rest.

Love always,

your Clueless But Hopeful Daughter


The imperfect crafter

I make things for my girls not because I know what I am doing, (I don't) or because I was born with a sewing needle in my hand like some Sewing Superhero (I wasn't).

Z's superhero costume, inspiration and outright stealing from Whimsy's tutorial.

I make things for my girls because I want to craft something whole from nothing but my imagination, some inspiration and $17 worth of stuff from a craft store.

Z's birthday fairy flags, tutorial courtesy of Whimsy
, once again.

I make things for my girls because I want to learn about my imperfection, and then model it for them. I sewed this seam, I tell them. It's crooked and that's okay.

E's curtains, finally finished! And TOTALLY crooked!

I make things for my girls because I love how it feels to look upon something I made with love, with my own hands.

To see them enjoy something that I created is more satisfying than I ever thought crafting could be.


The girl who cried tummyache

I'm still recovering from Z's birthday on Thursday and her birthday party on Saturday. It all went well actually, which can only be the result of all my magically protective worrying. (Shhhhh. DON'T TELL ME MY INSOMNIA WAS IN VAIN.)

Now it's back to reality.

The usual Monday morning mundanity: a tower of laundry, a dog who needs a vet appointment, a house of things out of their rightful places....and a daughter with a tummy-ache, just like many days the last few months. When these tummy-aches started, Z whimpered "Mommy, my tummy hurts" and I ran at her with a bowl in one hand and a thermometer in the other. She's had her fair share of nasty tummy bugs in her life which have seared nightmarish images into my brain. And they all started with those fateful words: "Mommy, my tummy hurts."

But nothing happened. And she kept complaining at random intervals.

I started keeping track of what she was eating, First I wondered if it had to do with the green veggie powder I was adding to her breakfast smoothies in an attempt to get some vegetables into her Cheese and Carb Diet. Then I wondered if it was the Cheese and Carb Diet itself.

But nothing we take out or adjust seems to make much of a difference.

We do have a doctor's appointment to talk about this, of course, though I can't imagine the doctor will have a quick and easy explanation. It could be lactose intolerance. It could be something else more exotic. But it's starting to seem like it may be an acute case of Nervous Tummy, which would be yet another crappy inheritance from me. A deeply emotional girl internalizing stress in her tummy? That's something I know a little about.

What else I know? The next time she actually DOES have a tummy bug, she's going to tell us her tummy hurts and we'll nod and murmur "uh huh" and turn away.

Hopefully we turn away in time to miss the .....you know what.

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