Friday, February 15, 2013

Spelling lessons

Turns out, Phoebe is great at spelling.  She is obsessed with finding words that start with different letters, and will go through the alphabet naming things and not just letters.

"Apple, ball, cricket, doggie, elephant ..." etc.

Last night we were playing around and she said:

"K is for CRAP!"

and Geoff and I just about lost it laughing.

And then she said:

"B is for bootleg"

Guys, I think she really might have some of my DNA in there after all.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Chronicles of Jack

This morning, Jack held the toy stethoscope up to his buns and said "I checking my poops, mommy!"

He was wearing 1 pink boot (Phoebe's) and 1 navy blue boot (his) at the time.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Truth; hurt

Tonight was just like any other night.  Reading library books with Jack.  Phoebe playing with her babies.  Raefy fast asleep.  Music on the tv.

But Canon in D came on and suddenly the room shifted.  And I felt the narrowing breadth of time.

I remembered that song at my aunt's wedding.  I think I was 10?  9?  I was young.  I imagined Phoebe's wedding.  And Jack's.  And I looked at Phoebe and Jack play and squeezed my eyes to just *click* take a picture of the memory.

Phoebe placing all her babies in their own chairs at the table.

Jack pointing out the garbage trucks and cars in his book.  "What's this, mommy? What's this? What's this, mommy?"

Right before I picked up Jack to put him in bed (he hates bedtime the most, but always wants to go first), Phoebe said "I be 18, mommy"

I said "What?! You are 18?"

She said "Yes! Like Tangled!"

I said "Yes. One day, you will be 18 like Tangled"

And it's going to happen entirely too quickly.

I picked up Jack, and put him in bed, and said "I wish you would stay little forever.  Are you going to stay little forever?"

"No," he said.  He laughed.  Eyes twinkling in the glow of his little musical turtle light.

I said "Oh I know.  Are you going to grow up big and strong?"

He said "Yesssss!"

I kissed him and returned to the living room for Phoebe.

She is almost too heavy for me to lift.


I told her "You will grow up and be big and tall one day"

She laughed.

"You are the joy in my life"

She giggled and said "Yeahhhh".

I tucked her into bed, new batteries in the little ladybug nightlight, purple stars on the ceiling.
"I get to sleep with my ladybug stars, mommy!"

Her face lit up with joy, aglow with purple starlight, not yet 18, still little for a little while.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


Phoebe's been learning the days of the week at school and that means several conversations in my day look a lot like this:

P: Today is .....
Me: ... is?
Me: Yes! Today is Wednesday!
P: Tomorrow is ...
Me: ... tomorrow is ... ?
P: Tomorrow is THURSDAY!

... you can imagine where it goes from there.

If I had to ballpark, I'd say that conversation annoys the living hell out of me at least 90% of the time.  Yes, yes, I'm proud she is learning the days of the week, but a mildly neurotic 4 year old WHO LOVES ROUTINE becoming obsessed with the days of the week can get old.  Fast.

Just like she's gotten old.  Fast.

Tomorrow afternoon sometime, UPS will be dropping off a new carseat at my house because Raef is now too big for the infant seat.

The same infant seat I spent hours researching (on the clock at my old job, pregnant with Phoebe), meticulously reading Consumer Reports reviews and then exchanging several emails back and forth with (fellow) childless friends debating gender-neutral color schemes.

I used that infant seat for all three of our babies.

And on Friday, when I take Phoebe to school, Raef will be in his new seat.

I look at that seat in my living room (battered, covered with In N Out stickers) and remember unpacking it from the box.  And how Geoff and I fumbled with the locks putting our delicate floppy baby in it for the first time.  Proudly carrying her to the car.

I remember her screaming the entire drive home from the hospital, her first experience in the seat, our first car ride as a family of 3, life changing, road passing, time pushing forth, unrelenting in its movement.  Forward.

Phoebe got the most use out of the carseat since she was still 20 lbs at a year old.  Jack got his new seat around 8 months, and now Raefy the giant monster baby will get his new seat at 6 months.

And time pushes forward.

And tomorrow is Thursday.

And you can imagine where it goes from there.

I honestly can't say why I paid $4 extra for the overnight shipping.  One extra day in the infant seat probably wouldn't have harmed anyone.  But I got excited.

I vacillate between excitement and nostalgia when I look at our children.  The single thought that launches 1000 more: "Look how big they're getting".

Raef still likes napping in the carseat (haven't put up blackout curtains in their room yet), so it will probably stick around a little while, but it will get too small eventually and I'll have to just ... put it in the garbage, I guess.  It's just ... expired.  It's served its purpose and now it's ... done.

Phoebe keeps talking about how on her birthday she'll turn 5 years old.  She has recently discovered birthdays.  And she excitedly talks about Kindergarten because she knows she will go to Kindergarten when she turns 5.

I remember Kindergarten.

And, I'm telling you people, it was, like, last week.

Except it wasn't.

And I start to think down the road, about all the things she'll outgrow and the birthday presents she'll ask about and the school pictures and the clothes she'll love.

Her school pictures are Friday and the new shirt I bought her on Sunday was received with such joy, it has been worn to sleep and to school once already.  I have been hiding it in the dryer (on purpose, I assure you) until Friday morning. 

And I swear, I was just putting that floppy baby in that brand new carseat that sits -- sweat-stained from a sweaty Raef -- in my living room, soon to have no babe to cradle.

And time presses onward.

As Phoebe reminds me daily.
"After Thursday is ... Friday!  And on Friday is get your picture at school!  Is wear your neeeeeeeew shirt."
"Yes, Phoebe.  Picture day is Friday.  You'll wear your new shirt."

So, I pick them up by the scruffs of their necks and kiss their little fuzzy heads, putting them in their beds at night with favorite blankets, stuffed animals, prayers. 

"Tomorrow is Thursday and after that is Friday, mommy!"

And when I wake up on Friday, I won't have an infant seat in my car anymore.

And the steamroller of time will pass once more over my chest, crushing my heart.

Monday, July 16, 2012

On who I am

I think it was my sophomore year (or 2nd year, or whatever) of college when my friend gave me an autographed DVD of Chasing Amy.

I watched that movie -- and this is an honest figure -- at least 5000 times.  I'd watch it every day after school while I was doing my homework. 

I'm not sure why I loved it so much (besides, of course, Jason Lee), but something about the movie just resonated with who I was at that moment in my life.  Maybe I imagined I was such a complicated person, and that no man could ever understand me.  Sigh.  19.  You are wasted on the young.

There's this epic scene in the movie where Ben Affleck's character pulls over the car to tell the Joey Lauren Adams character he's in love with her and it's this great romantic speech that every woman in the universe wants to hear, and you can see Adams' character, Alyssa, getting all uncomfortable.  And they fight.  Because she's a lesbian and she tells him "Being gay is who I am!"

At Phoebe's last IEP (Individual Education Plan) meeting, her teacher told Geoff and I that she thinks Phoebe will be attending "regular" kindergarten.  Also known, simply, as Kindergarten.  You know, just usual ol' school.  For regular kids.  Kids who aren't in occupational therapy, speech therapy, wheelchairs, sensory-approved clothing.  Regular. Kids.

And I looked at Phoebe with new eyes.  And couldn't believe it.

"If she makes as much progress this year as she has over the past year," her teacher said. "I don't see why she couldn't do well in a regular classroom."

And just like that, who I am was changed.

I have this group of good friends and we jokingly refer to ourselves as "special mommies".  Our kids are in the same special needs classes.  We talk about therapy.  Diapers on kids older than 3.  We talk about our kids.   We say things like "Oh, well, you know she has brain damage so we just don't know ..." and we get sympathetic eyes. 

We don't need to explain.  We ask about neurologists, how to get help for our kids, resources, recipes, wine.  We share moments of glory and moments of pain.

All our kids are different in terms of the severity of their disability.  Phoebe is definitely not as severe as some of her friends, but my special mommy friends don't mind.  We're all in this together.  This is who I am.

And then suddenly, that was gone.

I'm not sure I fit into that box anymore.

Last week a friend came to my house to pick something up and drop something off, and I got to meet her 4 and a half year old daughter.  And talking to her, and seeing how she interacted with her mom and I, I realized how completely far off Phoebe is from that.  How far from "typical".

I watched Phoebe take off her clothes and get into her pool, while her friend said "I didn't bring a towel and she shouldn't be putting mud in her pool" with crystal clarity.

The maturity level blew me away.

I tried not to cry later to Geoff as I told him my worries about Phoebe and her future.  How I see this beautiful, smart, sensitive, gentle spirited soul and how terrified I am about what the future holds.  Will she be the "slow" kid in class because of her delays?  Is she going to be teased?  Will she understand the teasing?

She's so sensitive and gentle and sweet.  She has absolutely no malice in her at all.  Well, okay, if she hasn't napped then ... sometimes, but rarely.  She's just so ... tender-hearted.

And I wondered where she fit on the scale of normal and special needs.

I know people say "You shouldn't compare" and maybe some of you are thinking that as you read this.  Yes.  Of course.  But it's what we do.  We can't help it.  We look and say "Is this normal? What is normal?" about almost everything we do, and especially our kids.

I love Phoebe for who she is.  Completely.  I just fear for a future when she'll get older and I won't be there standing next to her going "I love who she is" and someone will hurt her for who she is.  All I can do is hope that what we do here, now, will be with her when we aren't.

Yesterday at the park, Geoff was playing with Jack and Phoebe on the toys while I stood in the shade of a giant oak tree wearing Raef in the Ergo.  I saw a little girl about Phoebe's age excitedly grab Phoebe's cheeks with her hands and say "PHOEBE!" and grab her hand.  She yelled "Mom! MOM!  MOM!!  This is PHOEBE! She goes to my school!"

(Phoebe's preschool is on a regular school campus that also has a preschool for typical, but low-income children; they usually share recess time)

The girls continued to hold hands on the toys, walking across the suspension bridge.  Going down the slide.  Phoebe didn't say anything that I could tell, but she laughed.  Excited to have a friend.

And I stood in the shade of an oak tree and tried not to cry at seeing a little girl's face light up at the sight of my daughter.

And I tried not to cry when I heard her mom say to an older daughter "Oh. She must be in the 'other' class with the disabled kids."

And it cut me. 

I'm not sure how to define who I am right now. 

I guess I am somewhere in the middle on the scale of typical mom to special needs mom.

But I saw one typical little girl show kindness to my daughter.

And that can get me through today.

And, I hope, for a little while as I plod along blindly toward the uncertain future.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Phoebe, 4; Jack, 2

Among other news (besides birthdays), we've moved.  And I just haven't had time (or will) to write about it yet.

It's going to be a great summer.

The verdict is in

Our children love s'more's.


Saturday, April 28, 2012

I used to be hot

I remember very clearly looking at my naked body in the mirror when I was 26 years old.  I was hot.  I was working out 6 days a week, fake tanning (the "good" kind at the expensive place .. whatever that means), and I was getting regular haircuts, pedicures, time to myself.  I had a dog.  And a housekeeper.  And an unlimited wine budget.  And free time.

My ass was amazing.  I mean, I still can remember the precise shape of that curve, and looking back in the mirror to see it.

I met Geoff a few months later.

Can't say I blame him for falling so in love.

That was 7 years ago.  3 children ago.

I get up sometime between 6 and 7 and can't stand my face until I put on makeup.  Expensive makeup.  After I put on my makeup I look somewhat like the me I remember.  Sometimes I brush my hair, but it usually goes into a ponytail and it hasn't seen the hands of my hairdresser or her treasured foil wraps for a very long time.

I go to button jeans that should be big, but are too small.  I put on a shirt that used to flatter my bust, but now can't get over my head, let alone up and down all day long to nurse my 7 week old baby.

I look at the clothes in the drawer and they seem like they should belong to someone much younger than me.  Someone with free time.  And a housekeeper.

I try not to wear shorts.  Or skirts.  I look down and see the legs of my grandmother.  Not even my mom.  No.  They skip a generation, these legs.  They're ghost-white.  Veiny.  Covered in cellulite.

My heels are rough, my toenails becoming ingrown.

I haven't bitten my nails recently because I have 2 week old polish on them and that has prevented me from biting.  But the polish is chipping off and I haven't had the chance to take it off.

I always feel so ... almost.

I'm almost the weight I think I want to be.

I'm almost going to fit into those pants.

I'm almost presentable if I put on enough makeup.

I debate the varying powers and strengths of face creams and which one I need.  Do I need retinol? Do I need vitamin e? What's toxic? Should I even buy that stuff?

And I see women at the Farmer's market who look like they've spent their entire lives jogging and hiking and gardening and they have 2% body fat and tanned leathery skin and lots and lots of wrinkles.  They always seem so happy.  So ... unaware of high-strength no-oil sunscreen.

They always wear sunhats at the Farmer's market and (of course) bring their own bags.

I think about the futility of trying to get back into the shape I was at 26.  And why I feel it's so desirable to be that way again.

After I had Jack, I felt downright celebratory about the experience.  I was woman.  I roared.  I was invincible.  He was not an "easy" baby.  I didn't care.  I had DONE IT.  I had this big baby, naturally, and he was strong and powerful and so was I.

And when I got pregnant with Raef, my body betrayed me.  It got pregnant (wasn't supposed to happen).  It had a subchorionic hematoma that left me ordered to not do anything.  I sat on the sofa and watched the weeks tick slowly by.

So. Incredibly.

And labor was easy.  And birth was easy.  And afterward, I felt like I had given everything I had to give.  And I was gone.  And in my place were 3 children looking back at me going "I need things from your body".  And I didn't have anything to give.

And sometimes I wonder if I still do.

I nurse Raef, and he sleeps great.  I feed my body good foods.  I am done having babies.  But my body is not my own as long as I nurse.  I used to love it.  And I love the convenience, but now I feel it weighs me down.  It's an obligation.  More physical giving.  And I just get tested to my limits every. single. day.  And I never felt this way before.

At that 2 a.m. (or 3 a.m., or 4 a.m. ... whatever time he wakes) feeding, I think Phoebe is my heart (my sweet, affectionate girl), Jack my body (my physical boy who climbs and jumps and takes risks) and Raef my soul (my intense mellow baby who seems older than his ... weeks ...  in every single way).  And I'm not sure where I am because I feel like I've been spread out.  Dispersed.  And now I'm just sort of ... there.

My midwife (who - sadly - didn't catch Raef) has 3 children and she said her 3rd did the same to her.  It was such a huge shock, she said.  "The laundry alone nearly killed me".  Yes.  I have some I should fold, but at least it's only 1 basket's worth.  She said 3 isn't just like adding "one more", it's like adding 10 more.  And it really feels that way.  Nothing ever gets done.  Life is Groundhog's Day. 

I wake up, weigh myself, look in the mirror and I see the wet bread that is my butt.  I look back and look away.  White.  Doughy.  Soft.  Unattractive.  At least my hair is long, I think.  That is something.  And I'm not really that fat.  I just am fat for me.  Soft.  A mother.

My face develops new wrinkles daily and I'm thankful for glasses that hide them ... but maybe they make me look older?  Maybe the new mascara I bought will be the miracle that makes me suddenly younger.  More attractive.  26.  A dog-owner.

Tonight I saw a bus of Cal Poly students (hell, maybe they were high schoolers -- I couldn't tell) going to some kind of party or something.  I was with my family and we were getting In N Out (my order so complicated, I had to repeat it; hamburger, protein-style, no sauce, no salt).  They were all attractive.  They were all laughing.  Eating cheeseburgers.  And fries.  And drinking Dr. Pepper.  Carefree.  Not even a whiff of the future.  All hoping.  All individuals.  One man (man? He's just a boy, right?) wearing lederhosen.  And I remembered I used to have fun.

And I used to be fun.

And I used to be hot.

And I get up and put on my makeup.  And I pretend I still am.  And I smile.  I am happy.  But I grow ever aware that I am aging.  And nothing, no feet dragging or expensive face creams or higher and higher (I found 70 today!) SPF lotions will prevent it.

And maybe my husband doesn't like looking at my doughy shapeless wet bread of an ass (he assures me it's fine. he's obviously lying.).   Or the wrinkles around my eyes (yes yes, smile lines from the joy brought about by my children of course ...).  I see the beauty around me, and wonder when I will once again see it in myself.

I used to see it all the time.

When I used to be hot.

And I wish I could go back in time and take a picture.  And show people "See? This was me.  I was that, once.  I wasn't just the mom at the grocery store with the unruly children.  I was fun!"

And I think of those pathetic women pretending to be 26 when they're in their 40s and 50s and beyond ... at a certain age it becomes charming though, really.  And I wonder ... what is appropriate for me at this age, anyway?

And I wanted this life with lots of children (I used to think I wanted 6 of them!).

I really did.

I just think I imagined I'd always be 26.  With a housekeeper.  And a dog.  And endless time to myself.

And some days, I really wish I could go spend a day with her, and tell her to look back in the mirror one more time to get a good hard look, and know that it won't always be that way forever.

It won't.

Like I know this insecurity will pass.

Everything is transitory.

Hear. Me. Roar.

Thursday, April 19, 2012


Phoebe just woke up from her nap and I heard her say ...

"Hi Jack, I MISSED you! I MISSED you, Jack!"

And that is why we have more than 1.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Oh and also? That happened.

I braved Target with my 3 children last week and since Raef was so contented in his carseat (sleeping even! -- a rarity), I decided to leave him in it and just put the carseat in the basket, while the other 2 were strapped into the cart.  God Bless Target for having those giant carts.

Usually, I'd wear him in the Moby, but I'm not about to wake a sleeping infant under any circumstances.

So, we got everything we needed (and Phoebe got to point out the babies she wanted in the toy aisle), and when I went to pay I (finally) signed up for RedCard so we were there for a little while.

A middle-aged woman (God help me I hate that phrase, because I know it's my fate, but she was. She was middle-aged) finished unloading her cart, gave me a warm smile, and said:

"When's your baby due?"

I said "Um."

And then I died.

And from the grips of death, I managed to choke out "He's almost 5 weeks old" and indicated him in the cart.

You can imagine she was mortified.

I said "It's okay, he was a big baby, my belly hasn't gotten flat yet."

She said "Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry! I have 3 kids -- I should know better.  I just didn't see him in there!  Oh my gosh .. congratulations."

And that was the precise moment I decided it was time to get back on Paleo and be serious about losing the baby weight.

The worst part? I thought I looked pretty good that day.