RESOLVE ON THE GOOD

January 26, 2015

emetjadegreenhill14

The one good thing about being confined and immobile during an MRI scan is that there is nothing to do but think!

This year has gotten off to an interesting start. A change in our family dynamic, right of the bat, with a side of medical drama, to keep things interesting. We’ve undergone a bit of unexpected restructuring, and I’ll be taking a temporary leave-of-absence from teaching in order to assume the role of primary caretaker of one Roux Huckleberry Baker, duties previously belonging to his most handsome and capable father, who has become far too busy otherwise to adequately care for the baby whose needs have grown exponentially over the past few months.

The bottom line is, it is B’s design work that supports our family. My income is supplementary at best, which is to say, it would cost more to hire a nanny or to put him in daycare than it does for me to stay home. Furthermore, I should be the one escorting him to doctors visits and to have his blood drawn, and vise versa. So I’m doing just that, taking time off to care for my baby. And to care for myself, but that is an entirely different matter.

I can’t tell you how agonizing a decision this was for me to make.

Of course, I have been plenty busy navigating the bureaucratic + scheduling fiasco that is the health system of which the baby and I are both patients, and have been, since the day his life began. We will have had at least six separate visits to our different doctors this month alone, not to mention a surgery, and hopefully a clean bill of health, times two. In the meantime, my anxiety is peaking and the baby is teething, which is to say, my nerves are shot to shit.

Thankfully, the tumor in my leg is benign, a lipoma of unknown origin, which I will be having removed tomorrow. I’m told it is an ambulatory procedure, more like having wisdom teeth extracted than a veritable operation. Still, I don’t like the idea of being put to sleep, it gives be the heebiejeebies. That it is a relative non-issue is a huge relief, because I was a little bit freaked out for a hot minute there, and having been through the devastatingly aggressive surgery that produced my darling little Huckleberry, I have been able to muster up a new brand of confidence toward the whole surgical situation.

The baby, well, his bloodwork has improved to some degree, but he is still extremely mineral deficient. He’ll have another hemoglobin test in a month to determine whether he’ll need another full panel, but the doctors are all hopeful that because he’s shown improvement already, that we’re headed in the right direction. This means that we – he and I, because I’m still nursing him, we’re still a team – we must be on a rigorous diet of easily absorbable iron sources, and watch his vital signs carefully.

Which brings me to our diet, which has changed dramatically over the last month and a half. In a way I could never have foreseen, but then again, one can never underestimate then lengths to which a mother will go when it comes to the health and wellbeing of her children.

The long and short of it is that iron is a supremely difficult mineral for a body, any body to absorb. In synthetic form, it can be harmful. In fact, iron overdose is one of the leading causes of death in children under six. My own body has always reacted negatively to synthetic iron, and I had a feeling Roux would be the same.

It took only one dose for it to be clear to us that supplementation was not an option, that we were going to need to fortify his diet. Thanks to the support and guidance of a lovely tribe of ladies, who all enthusiastically ascribe to and practice the art of “ancestral cuisine” which draws heavily upon the teachings of Weston A. Price. So. In short, chicken broth.

Chicken broth, the real stuff, is sometimes called Jewish penicillin for a reason. There are a lot of easily absorbable nutrients in chicken broth. And eggs. Nutrients that my baby needs, and needs badly.

To an ethical vegan, this can be a real dilemma. I sat with this question for close to a month before arriving at this conclusion: I would rather feed my child something that is divinely created and ethically harvested (sustainably raised chicken) versus something cooked up in a lab (prescription iron supplements). There is something infinitely more wholesome in boiling a chicken to make soup – something nearly everyone’s grandmother has done, mine included – than there is in taking drops that ultimately make my baby sick to his stomach.

His love for chicken broth, and eggs, is all that I need to know that feeding him – and myself, remember, we’re a team – these things is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing right now.

That all of this went down during resolution season was not at all lost on me.

What it comes down to, is doing what’s best. To strive to stand up for whatever it is that is in the best interest of my family.

Steiner, my forever teacher, offers this particular verse, which I’ve adopted as my motto for the year, as one part in particular has been my personal refrain for this season of my life.

To wonder at beauty,
Stand guard over truth,
Look up to the noble,
Resolve on the good.
This leadeth us truly,
To might in our doing,
To peace in our feeling,
To light in our thinking,
And teaches us trust
In the working of God,
In all that there is,
In the width of the world,
And the depth of the soul.

Today is my half-birthday. (And also, it’s my beloved’s birthday. We’re birthday twins. Just another reason we know we’re MFEO.) What this means is that it’s been six months since I last wrote a list of goals, one which I’ve kept a close eye on, but one which is filled with many things yet to be checked off.

Except our house! We all put in a lot of effort, and together we got this place so entirely organized, it’s almost like real grown-ups live here. We’ve also managed to keep it in such condition, for the most part. Again, real grown-ups.

My point is this, the things that I’m striving for in my life are basically the same, but the angle from which I’m approaching these things has definitely shifted.

Six months ago, I was still struggling with feeling well each day. Now, even as I stare surgery in the face, I feel better than I have in a long time. Having the courage to listen to what my gut was telling me from a very primal level – care for my baby, care for myself, feed my family from a place of traditional nourishment – has helped me to reconnect, to feel aligned with my purpose, to emerge from a dark place stronger and more self-compassionate. These are things I needed greatly in order to truly be able to tackle some of the goals I set for myself. Now with a better sense of the person I have grown into, I’m able to have a clearer vision of how it is I am to go about achieving them, or at the very least, putting them into motion.

I have a lot of hope for the year that lies ahead. If the year that has passed taught me anything at all, it is that often the best of times are born out of the greatest challenges.

01/52 // THE 52 PROJECT REVISITED

January 7, 2015

emetkendamajan715

jaderunjan715

rouxswingjan715

“a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2015″

emet: his current obsession.
jade: my child wild.
roux: the quiet observer.

A lot more than this portrait series got away from me last year, that’s for sure. While I’m not one to harbor regret, I can say with a great deal of certainty that I simply did not slow down enough to enjoy the little things, and away they slipped. With nearly a full week behind us already, it seemed as if this year was headed in much the same manner, which is precisely why, instead of driving straight home after school this afternoon, we took a small detour to the playground. It’s amazing how special half an hour can feel, even on an ordinary Wednesday afternoon.

RANDOM THOUGHTS ON THE LAST TUESDAY OF 2014

December 30, 2014

babytoestowel

baby toes. you’re welcome.

My big kids just left for their weekly overnight with their father, that stubborn tiny guy of mine is finally finally napping, and the house is both quiet and clean, leaving me a moment to sit and gather my thoughts. Clickety clack.

I honestly can’t believe how quickly this year flew by. I’ve said this a million times already, but only because it is so very true.

Then again, I feel about a bajillion miles away from the person I was at this time last year. And really, the only thing I miss about being her was that she was pregnant. I will always miss being pregnant. I didn’t want it to end. But it did, and that is when the life of my Huckleberry friend began, and what a glorious thing it is to get to be that boy’s mama. He is so delicious.

Life with a preteen, a second grader, and an infant is blindingly exhausting, I will just come right out and say it. But only in the very best possible way. These little people, one of whom is an inch shy of standing eye to eye with his mother, they are remarkable. I am in awe of them, their talents, their thoughts, and am so very inspired by the way in which they each face the tests they are given with grace, dignity, and confidence. I’ll say it until the day there is no breath left in my lungs, they have taught me more than I could ever teach them in a hundred thousand lifetimes. They are brilliant, and I’m lucky they chose me. The luckiest.

And then there is this man I’m going to marry. He’s something else. The whole of the universe conspired to bring us together, and this little blended family we’ve created is of what I am most proud. We have had some wild adventures together, this tribe of mine, moving more times in four years than some ever do. Which is why getting to celebrate New Year’s Eve in the very same house where we celebrated last year is so significant: the last time this happened, Jade was a year old.

Who knows how long we’ll be in this place. We are, after all, a rambunctious bunch cursed with wild and extravagant imaginations, for whom things like relocating to the French Countryside sound not only practical, but down right necessary. With a brief stop in New York City on the way, of course. As you do. But being here, in sunny San Diego, has helped each of us to thrive in a way I don’t think any other place could have. It’s an expensive place to live, you can be sure, but it’s worth it. I like to call it the Sun Tax. You pay for what you get! I’m looking at you, Oregon.

As for me, this has been a deeply, profoundly personal year. I am not who I was, even two months ago. I’m even eating eggs, but that is a story for another day. My point is that there are some years where I have gone, didn’t I accomplish anything? But not this year. This was a year of doing. I did a lot. Maybe more than any other year of my life, big things, small things, things only me and my Creator know about, so many things. To list them would be in poor taste, I think, because it feels a little bit like gloating. So instead, I will say this. Good things come to those who wait, work hard, and want it bad enough.

You guys, the baby is still sleeping (!) and I think I actually just wrote something from start to finish, without being interrupted once. THIS ALMOST NEVER HAPPENS. Maybe I should go paint my nails, or even crazier, take a nap myself. What I should definitely do is eat some lunch, which is to say it’s time for me to beg my mister to take me out for burritos when the baby wakes up from the nap I was pretty sure he was never going to take.

Look at how much I can get done when you sleep, Roux!

A DREAM IS A WISH YOUR HEART MAKES

December 29, 2014

babyjade2008

this photo is old and blurry, but i love it. mostly because it was taken by emet, but also, her eyes. and that runny nose!

I was raised on fairy tales of the Disney variety, never thinking twice that the good people at the House of Mouse weren’t actually the ones responsible for those stories. So, naturally, when I discovered the Brothers Grimm, I was a little miffed that ol’ Walt and his team of animators positively bastardized the complexities of the German folklore.

When Emet was born, one of the sweetest gifts I was given was a complete and unabridged collection of the original Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I suppose the only thing more complete would be an untranslated version, but sprechen sie Deutsch I do not. So, English it was, and oh! The language in those stories is just poetic.

It was a few years later, when I was in training to become a Waldorf teacher, that I learned just how important these particular narratives – and the eloquent language contained therewithin – are to young children. The curriculum of the Early Childhood and the First Grade are based entirely upon classic fairy tales and so it was that I decided my children would not bear witness to the animated movies of my childhood. Also, I’m of the media-free childhood persuasion, so it wasn’t really an issue.

As my children have grown, they have indeed been exposed to their fair share of movies and television shows, albeit far less than the average American child. And yet, purely by coincidence, the Disney movies were left unwatched. A few months ago, we were at a restaurant where each of my big kids were given a coloring page. Emet’s was Sponge Bob, and Jade’s was Belle. And while Mr. Squarepants was instantly recognized by the both of them, neither Emet nor Jade could name the princess or the film from whence she came. I felt a little bit proud and a little bit sad, because truly, I loved those movies. LOVED THEM.

So, when my handsome mister called me into his office a week or so ago to show me a trailer he’d come across of a live-action version of Cinderella due to hit theaters this coming Spring, I rolled my eyes a little because, honestly, how good could it be? Only so good that I cried. Not once, not twice, but three times. Every hair on my body was standing on end, and the flutters in my heart told me I had to share this with my daughter.

I will never forget her eyes as she watched, like saucers they were, filled with stars and fairy dust and all the magic I remember from when I was a little girl. In that moment, I knew exactly what I had to do. Why, read her Ashputtel of course, a tale which she’s heard at least a half dozen times.

When Christmas morning came, there was a small package finished with glittering gold ribbon addressed to the youngest maiden of the house. And when she opened it up, she squealed with delight to find her very own copy of Disney’s Cinderella.

To be honest, I can’t remember the last time I saw that movie. I’m almost positive I was Jade’s age, or thereabouts. But when she and I sat down later Christmas day to watch it together, from the moment the first note of the overture sounded, I was mesmerized. I remembered all the songs, all the funny little things the mice say, all the magic. Sharing this film with my beautiful girl, at an age when she is more than ready to appreciate it purely as entertainment, well, it was perfect.

She and I have a date to the movie theatre this coming March, and we are so excited we can hardly stand it!

IF I CAN DO IT, SO CAN YOU

December 27, 2014

bemerrychalk

image via

One of the reasons I don’t write about extended family is because it’s a complicated subject. There are lots of hurt feelings, practically an ocean’s worth of water under a very long bridge, and for most of my adult life, I have chosen to remove myself from the chaos. For several years now, I haven’t spoken much, if at all, to any of my relatives on either side of my splintered family, a practice that is equally liberating as it is isolating.

The truth is, I carry around an awful lot of pain and sadness, big armfuls of agony I’ve somehow managed to collect one way or another. Hard as I might try to shutter away the darkness and to pay extra close attention to the good and the beautiful, it is always there, right under the surface, and it comes out to haunt me when I least expect it.

Like during the Holidays, for instance.

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