THIRTYONEDERFUL

July 25, 2014

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favorite candid shot from a lunch date with my handsome fiancé a while back

Tomorrow I will celebrate another birthday, and since I always seem to wax nostalgic about these sorts of things, I offer this here assortment of sentiments in honor of my thirtyfirst year.

Oh, 31. You were good to me, but you also kind of kicked my ass. I spent the entirety of these past twelve months not feeling exactly like myself, which is odd. And after all that’s happened, I’m not quite sure what myself is supposed to feel like. Between pregnancy and ongoing postpartum issues, I’ve gotten a little lost in the shuffle of things. But instead of freaking out about this minor identity crisis, I see it as an opportunity to grow, which is how I know I’m not just getting older, but wiser, too. Age is a blessing, thank you very much, and I think I’m starting to get the hang of this whole woman-in-her-thirties thing.

I accomplished a few personal goals that I’d been working toward for what seemed like forever, all three of which were finally ticked off my life’s to-do list on three consecutive days, just like that, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel a little bit more like a grown-up. Also, this coming September marks the longest tenure I’ve had as a teacher at any one school, and even though my role has shifted a bit – moving from one subject to another – I’m more comfortable and confident in my career than ever. Working in the Waldorf movement inspires every other part of my life, and I’m very lucky to be able to do what I do.

To be brutally honest, nothing has aged me more in all my years than the delivery of one Roux Huckleberry Baker and the subsequent recovery therefrom. I woke up from emergency anesthesia to a body I didn’t recognize, one I’m still learning to claim as mine. I mean, even my broken foot hasn’t fully healed! In short, thirtyone was not kind to my physical self. But if there is one thing I know about bodies, it’s that you get out of a body what you put into a body, and I’m carrying that tidbit very close to my heart as I move into this next year.

Speaking of my heart, thirtyone was a mighty good year for love. The best year. That mister of mine, he’s full of surprises, which is precisely what made his marriage proposal so special. I had absolutely no idea! Seeing a sparkly ring on my finger every day still takes my breath away, I simply could not be any more over the moon madly in love with the man I’m going to marry. He’s one of a kind, and he’s a damn good father to boot. To all three of my kids, because that’s just the kind of guy he is. So, yeah. Our engagement is clearly the highlight of what was, quite simply, a furious and fabulous year of my life.

Any year that brings me a baby is going to be special, that goes without saying. And this baby, well, he’s all kinds of special. His wellbeing has occupied a significant part of my day to day, almost at the expense of my own, and in taking stock of things, it’s clear to me the ways in which I can afford to expand as a person. And if clarity isn’t a sign of maturity, then I give up!

Seriously though, I’m starting to feel like an adult and I like it. Because let’s be honest here, I couldn’t name one song on the radio if you paid me.

ON GETTING MY GROOVE BACK

July 10, 2014

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image via

There’s nothing like a good cry to get your thoughts really flowing, amiright? I, for one, have been weepy for the past week or so, which is to say that I’ve got more than a few things to get off my chest, and they’ve got to go somewhere, so here they are.

Emet turned eleven years old yesterday and I’m all kinds of nostalgic about the whole thing. For me, life pretty much started when I was eleven. That’s when things got really good, in the juicy, sink your teeth into living sort of way. To think that my baby boy is now a young man, an actual preteen if you will (if you say the word tween I will cut you), boggles my mind completely. He is easily one of the coolest people that I know, and watching him stretch into a body that is very nearly as big as my own is incredible. Soon he’ll rest his head on mine, and that gives me a pain in my heart that only a mother who’s watched her son go through the same transition can understand. I wouldn’t trade that pain for anything in the world. It’s beautiful, and I couldn’t be more proud.

I gave him deodorant for his birthday, by the way. So.

Today marks the anniversary of discovering the presence of a certain tiny guy, and hell if my body hasn’t been through the ringer. Between a difficult yet beautiful pregnancy, a broken foot, and a surgery that scarred me in all the ways, the time has more than come for me to give myself a little bit of attention. I put aside a lot of creative and delicious endeavors due to the distraction that is having a baby, but my oh my what a magical distraction. Still, there is a lot of change involved, and I might not be the quickest when it comest to adaptation.

But a year is long enough, if you ask me. My Huckleberry friend is twenty weeks old now, and doing wildly better than expected. He’s off the preemie charts, just barely in the case of his size, but he’s off them altogether and that is something. My recovery is clearly going to take more than me just waiting for it to happen, an oddly familiar theme, so doing something about it is really my only option.

Getting started is always the hardest part, why must this always be the case? I shake my fist at you, momentum! It usually takes something radical like a thirty day writing challenge or a couple dozen miles on my bicycle, but without fail, it takes some kind of daily maintenance and I have not been committed to anything on the regular in a very long time.

Except breastfeeding. Breastfeeding forever. We’re a little over one month away from solid food and the fact that my newborn baby is that close to being six months old? Crazy, I say. Just plain nuts. But breastfeeding is not for me, it’s for him. And I need to do something for myself.

My big kids, they left this morning for a little vacation with their relatives in Los Angeles, and I’ve decided to dedicate this time to carving out a few new habits and hobbies for myself. My beautiful friend Kate wrote this thoughtful essay about refining her morning routine which really resonated with the struggle I have been experiencing personally. I have no routine to speak of at present, and I think that’s partly why I can’t seem to get anything done. I haven’t found my rhythm yet.

The plan is simple, really. To get up, get out, and get moving, is the basic idea. Little walks around my beloved neighborhood, a gentle swim at our local pool, a few trips up and down my favorite secret public staircase that’s right across the street from my house, these aren’t exactly difficult things to do. Neither is finishing the few essays I have still lingering in my drafts folder, or even preparing and photographing a couple of the new recipes that I’ve developed recently. And yet, I can’t seem to accomplish any of it. So for the next five days, while my big kids are away, I’m committed to doing at least one thing for myself every single day.

Like writing this here manifesto. I do declare this to be the year of loving myself, of not letting life get in my way. Because when it comes right down to it, I spend an awful lot of time taking care of others, and methinks I’d do a much better job of it all if I actually spent a little time taking care of myself. Furthermore, I want to set a good example for my children, for them to see the importance of personal practice, to always feel that they are worth the effort, and, above all, to never forget that they are the guardians of their own well being.

HELLO, JUNE

June 9, 2014

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image via

I have no fewer than six essays in various stages of completion cluttering my drafts folder, in case you were wondering. I haven’t had a lot of time to finish things lately, and not just silly things like blog posts. My to-do list is long, and although I’m getting through it much more slowly than I’d like, I have managed to do a pretty commendable job of fattening up a certain tiny guy. I thought about it the other day, and I literally spend between 4-6 hours a day nursing him, which doesn’t exactly leave time for much else, although I did manage to tackle all the laundry, a personal victory.

June really crept up on me, which is fine by me seeing as it’s one of my favorites. I love me a good summer solstice. Also, there are just three school days left before summer vacation officially begins, and thank goodness because I’m pretty sure we’re all already on break. I’m really really looking forward to lots of little adventures with all three of my kiddos — I plan on taking full advantage of the fact that we live in San Diego, one of the loveliest cities on planet Earth, which is finally starting to feel like home.

I started this blog back up last year around this time, well before I knew I was pregnant, when I was just starting to feel like myself again after a couple of really turbulent years, including that one in Oregon that really unsettled me to the core. One year later, and I’ve got a new baby, we live in a lovely new-to-us home, and we’re more settled as a family than we’ve ever been, Jesse included. In other words, a lot has happened over the last twelve months, and somehow I’ve managed to chronicle bits and pieces of it here. And only one recipe! Shame on me, is all I have to say about that, but the rest of it is pretty spot on and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I’m rather proud of what I’ve published.

This next year is sure to bring lots more exciting things to write about, including wedding shenanigans. I apologize in advance for the many posts to come about all things related to our totally rad future nuptials, but there are just too many thoughts and they have to go somewhere! I also hope to incorporate more recipes and even a few craft projects into the rotation because, let’s face it, those things are helpful! I’ve learned too many things from the internet not to give back at least a little.

Thank you for reading this silly ol’ blog of mine. I really do pour my heart into the things I write, and having you along for the journey is nice company. Your comments and messages are so kind and thoughtful, I appreciate each and every one and feel pretty lucky to have such a gracious audience.

Seriously, though. My precious firstborn is one month away from turning eleven years old. His tenth birthday was a day I’ll never forget, as it was the very last day of my life as a mother of two. Discovering that a new baby would be joining our family the following day, and all that has happened since, has been wild and wonderful. I can’t even begin to imagine what lies in store for us this coming year. I’m sure there will be plenty of good stories to tell.

19/52

May 11, 2014

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“a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014″

Emet: A constant state of motion.
Jade: Smile for the camera.
Roux: Fresh from a nap.

I’ve always had a kind of love/hate relationship with this holiday, if it’s even really a holiday, I’m still not sure? For starters, my own mother and I have a long history of tragic encounters as I always fell short of her expectations surrounding Mother’s Day. Then, five years ago, I made the decision to end my marriage to the father of my two older children, the inciting incident involving Mother’s Day plans that had gone awry. Of course, this particular infraction was the last in a long string of similar disappointments, but nonetheless, making such a choice cast a certain kind of damper on the day meant for honoring my role as a mother.

Each year since, Mother’s Day has found me in an unsettled place. Whether I was just starting a new job, struggling to make a strange city feel like home, or battling with plain old anxiety, it seems this day has always brought with it some sort of challenge.

Today started about as unpleasantly as possible, with a crying baby after a rather restless night, followed shortly by a sibling squabble that erupted into full on hysterics. And this was all before I’d even had any coffee! I declared our family unfit for any sort of outing, and set us all to work on various chores instead. Somewhere between the third load of laundry and moving furniture in the dining room, I realized how far five years has brought me.

Never in a million years could I have conceived of the journey that began the morning I chose divorce over despair. Yet here I am, older, wiser, happier, more grateful, more fulfilled, and more inspired than ever before. Sure, I didn’t get breakfast in bed, or even a day without my kids fighting, but this Mother’s Day was spent with the family I have always wanted caring for the house I have always dreamed of, and it was perfect. I even took photos!

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Little by little, our living space is transforming into a reflection of our family and our lifestyle. It’s been five years since I’ve lived in a place that I truly moved into, with photos in frames and art on the walls, and with help from each member of this sweet family of mine, our house is starting to really feel like our home.

Happy Mother’s Day, indeed.

HIGH // LOW // THANKFUL

May 9, 2014

dodonap

It seems as though my infant has developed a bit of a co-dependent sleeping habit, stubborn li’l sucker. Literally, sucker, as in the dreaded pacifier. I was never much of a pacifier enthusiast, until my oldest child, at the age of eleven months, decided to cut eight teeth at one time and was sucking on anything he could find. The pacifier, I reasoned, was at least a controlled substance, and these were the days before the now ubiquitous teething necklaces. He held on to that bloody thing until shortly after his third birthday, and at around fourteen months old, dubbed it his dodo, as in the bird, and the name has stuck.

Dodo.

It has a nice ring to it, much more so than binky. I can’t stand the word binky. So. Dodo. Jade would have nothing to do with one and therefore spent much of her infancy as a chubby pink ball of inconsolable screaming, but Roux loves him some dody. I blame the hospital and the fact that he was given a pacifier before he was given any other kind of nipple, but the fact remains that without it, my baby just will not sleep. On some days, he won’t sleep without being held and isn’t that fun? A great way to get things done, holding a baby, and I do believe my house has reached maximum clutter capacity, just in time for spring cleaning. It’s still spring, right? I live in San Diego, I can’t ever tell. Sorry, rest of the country, but what they say is true. This is America’s Finest City.

HIGH: Enough with the crying already, is what my baby is probably thinking, but Roux decided that he really likes it when we play pat-a-cake, like really, really likes it, and his face lights up in the most splendid way and it gets me every time. My heart was already a tender thing, but ever since my sweet little Huckleberry friend came into the world, I’m one giant weepfest. Life is just so beautiful, and I’m so overwhelmingly grateful, that my body literally can’t contain the wonder of it all and so my eyes leak. I can’t help it.

LOW: TAKE A NAP, BABY. That is all.

THANKFUL: After nearly seven years as a non-vehicular adult, I have joined the ranks of The Driving. Turns out, it’s not so bad. I think it’s pretty funny that I’ll be 32 this summer, and getting my license again has given me the same feeling of freedom I had when I got it the first time, sixteen years ago. Hey! Wanna go to the mall?! Kidding. But really, I had no idea that not having my driver’s license was holding me back as much as it was, and even though I’ll always have a soft spot for urban cycling, I’m pretty glad to have the ability to get around town in a car.

Tonight, the mister and I are headed out on our first actual date. We’re leaving all three kids at home with a babysitter (Thanks, Jesse!), and have plans to eat delicious food and see some stand-up comedy. We haven’t gone out like this since Babe’s birthday back in January, which means I will be washing my hair and shaving my legs today, thank you very much.

Wishing all you lovely mamas out there a Happy Mother’s Day! May you be doted on by your loved ones to your heart’s content. And chocolate.