Sunday, February 27, 2011

the last of it

Thanks to all the lovelies who entered my little giveaway. I stuck your names in a hat {okay, it was a pot} and pulled one out. 

Betsy! You win! I'll be sending you a little LuSa love shortly. 


Over a fresh dusting of snow, I walk. White that goes on forever, untouched. My prints trail behind me: divot, streeeeak, divot, streeeeeak, heels pressing and dragging across the powder. I can trace exactly where I've been. Anyone can.

Spring isn't here yet but I'm changing the season. Putting on some lighter shoes and walking in a different landscape. I want to leave invisible tracks for now, over rocks and grass exposed under my feet. I'll show you the map when I'm all done. If I ever get there.

I've been scattering words in my wake, a trail of crumbs for a whole year. I want to horde them in my basket now. I want to gather enough to press together into something a little more substantial. Perhaps it won't be edible, but I think it's going to fill me.

And that's what this has been about, all along. Thanks for being here. I'll see you around.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Birthday Treats (for you) -- a giveaway

It really doesn't feel that long ago. A day just like today, probably.

My mom poured chocolate into heart molds. We added lollipop sticks and waited for them to cool. I took them to class and handed them out at snack time. Sweets to the sweet. Star for a day.

Today I'm 30. Years away from that elementary school classroom. And miles away from so many of you.

But I'm so happy you come here. And while I'd love to hand out cupcakes, this computer screen is no magic looking glass. So the best way I can think of to reach through is to share something I love.

Sleep is getting better around here, but I usually wake up with a foggy head and an outlook that could use changing. When I hop in the shower, I reset my morning. Something about the idea of *washing away* that does the trick for me. The steam and the silence helps. And my soap? Mmmmm. A slice of sensory heaven. I'd love for you to try it.

Please hop on over to LuSa Organics and browse around the site. Pick a product that piques your interest and tell me about it in a comment here. (Visit their blog while you're at it to meet the family behind this inspiring business.)

I'll pick one random entry and I'll order you something lovely. A birthday treat from me.

Sweets to the sweet. Thanks for stopping by!

Thanks for entering. I drew a winner -- Betsy!

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Last night's menu included bacon. Breakfast for dinner.

Today that greasy smell weighs heavy in the air. Sticks in my hair, even after my shower.

It's really starting to gross me out.

I open the kitchen window. The pane rows outward, a brave pioneer in the cold. Winter walks in.

The brown window frame stands out, warm against all that gray. The snow. The clouds. The trees. A landscape barely breathing.

Then I see it.

A small moth. Stuck where it last quivered with life, just before the window closed in some warmer month and squeezed the life out of it.

The clock ticks above my head.

Tomorrow is coming.

So I leave the window open a crack and get the kids ready. We're going outside. We'll kick the snow around a little. Feel the breeze chill our cheeks. Shake the bacon out of our hair. Move.

February wants to hang around forever. But we're never really stuck unless we fold our wings.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

conversation with the muse

I tried rain.

I thought the sound might wake you. It fell steadily, then harder. It roared in my head but you didn't move.

I added something a little more solid. Something that would plop heavy like wet sand and stick to your roof.

Sleet. It drummed and hissed right above your head, but your breathing never changed. You were down deep.

I clapped once. Thunder in your ears. The rumbling shook the whole house. You groaned and rolled over, pulling the covers up over your head.

I don't have time for this. I sigh. Your eyes are beautiful when they're open.

Now snow falls silently. Tucking in the ice and gently kissing it goodnight. In the morning, you'll step out into this wonderland, unaware of what lies beneath.  You won't recognize my footprints on the driveway so you'll crack your tailbone on the front step and curse me for never stopping by.

You want inspiration? Next time I'll have to hit you over the head.

Friday, February 18, 2011


The fog flies thin and breathy over the windshield of my car. In transparent, transient clouds, the lake exhales -- breath moving again after winter's frozen coma. The season is changing by degrees. Groaning under a week of warmer weather. The mud loosens under softening snow.

I wonder if it hurts -- the change. The shape shift. The thaw.


It finally happened. She said it.

I don't LOVE. YOU. ANY. MORE!!

Girl-two rages on. Again. It's been a long week.

I release 20 slow exhales (One minute. Thank you, Stacy) and keep my voice even.

I'm sorry to hear that, E. I love you very much.

When the fit finally fizzles out, she falls asleep. I watch her chest rising and falling and I wonder about the depths I can't see. About growth -- in body or mind or spirit. About subtle degrees and changing seasons.

The stretching, the shape-shifting -- it must hurt.  I let her sleep.


I look forward to Spring. To warm, gentle breezes. But I know the thaw comes first -- muddy and groaning and stuck in between.

All I can do is watch. Wait. Breathe.

This is where we are.

Thursday, February 17, 2011


My kid is not in school today.

No, she's not sick (actually, she's finally over the most recent cold...)

No, its not another blizzard (actually, our yard is melting apace...)

My kid is not in school today because the district canceled all classes due to staff shortages. Teachers are protesting.

They are upset.

The new governor plans to cut collective bargaining rights of state workers to help correct budget shortfalls.

In an automated phone message on my voice mail this morning, the school district superintendent stated his apologies for inconveniencing our families with the closure.

I wanted to call him back.

I wanted to tell him I don't mind.

I wanted to tell him I hope my child's teacher is protesting today. I hope she is standing up for her benefits. And I hope her voice is loud.

Because her voice is the one my child hears all day. Her voice is the one my child trusts. Her voice is the one we should value and reward.


We were standing at the bus stop when Girl-one startled me: Mama, I think I'm being bullied.


She quickly told me about some teasing words. How sad she felt. I quickly explained that these were hurtful words, but not really bullying. We could talk about it more after school.

I emailed Mrs. K to let her know how Girl-one was feeling. What actually happened. Bullying is red-hot word and I didn't want the teacher to think something larger was going on.

She didn't respond right away. I figured she was busy.

The next day, I received a very long email from Mrs. K. She talked about how this issue always hurts her heart. How she wishes sweet, sensitive Girl-one did not have to hear such words. How she thinks about her students as her children and has zero tolerance for teasing in the classroom.

She told me that in class on Friday, she read a book and sang a song with the children about teasing. They talked about words that hurt and trying to ignore teasing. They talked about why a child might tease another child. They talked about real situations. Mrs. K told them about a time she was teased and how she handled it. She made sure they understood they could always talk to her about teasing and about their feelings.

All of this was in response to my email. In response to my child. 

The email came at 10pm on a Friday night. On Mrs K's own time. After she had put her own three children to bed.

I've always worried that sending my sensitive girl to school was the same as throwing her to the wolves. But knowing that she is under Mrs. K's kind, expansive wing reassures me. Girl-one is safe. She spends her days with a gifted and generous heart.

I want to give Mrs. K an award. For this. For everything.

But my state is planning to reduce her benefits. I don't care if she has access to a pension and I don't. I don't care if she pays less into her benefits than I do. I don't care if we have a budget deficit. There has to be another solution. Taking something away from teachers doesn't say we value you. Taking something away from teachers does nothing to invest in our children. In our future. 

I usually stay out of political discussions. I am usually the political apathetic.

But when I think about this issue, this protest, all I can see is people. Families. Mrs. K.

They're afraid of changes in their financial security. They're upset about what's being taken away. They're worried.

I'm worried, too.

This just isn't right. 

Saturday, February 12, 2011

clean slate

It's been one of those days. I'm ready to turn the page.

I'm drying Girl-two's hair. She's crying. I'm thankful for the white noise. Something louder than her, finally.

She's upset about the snarls. About hair blowing in her eyes. About being too cold. I don't respond. My sympathy already went to bed.

We're done.

You must be too tired for books? I'm accusatory. This doesn't help.

It will have to be a short one. The words are sharp in my mouth and I don't swallow them. I should.

I try.

We read. She gets her sip of milk and tucks into bed. I tell myself that tomorrow is new. A clean slate.

John kisses her forehead.

Her request is soft. I want Mama to say "Goodnight, Moon."

What is tomorrow, to her?  Every moment is a clean slate. How does she know this? She teaches me.

New starts now.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

how I got here

I snuggle down and pull the sleeping bag over my shoulder and up to my ear. I had forgotten how warm this thing is. I am pretty comfortable.

I can't sleep, though, because Girl-three is still complaining through the crib slats, just behind my head. But she's winding down, now that I'm here.

My mind grows legs and walks back in time, settling into a night nine years ago when these very covers were much too warm.

I'm positioned similarly, but I have the sleeping bag pulled all the way over my head, sealing me in. Or rather -- sealing them out.

The mosquitoes.

I'm lying on a picnic table in the Everglades, buried deep in my down-filled sleeping bag. Sweating.

It sounds crazy, I know. Perhaps you are wondering how I got here.

During my sophomore year in college, decided I needed to get away. John and I had just broken up. I was starting my engineering classes and balking at the career in front of me. I needed a break from the path I was walking. So I joined Americorps NCCC and spent 10 months hopping around the southeast from service project to service project. {Missing home. Missing John. Finding myself. -- But oh, that's a different story.}

We were heading back from our project in the Florida Keys and we stopped for a weekend in the Everglades to pick up some service hours and experience the place. The night we arrived, we set up camp and everyone hunkered down. But there were mosquitoes trapped inside the fabric of my tent and they whined in my ears. It seemed like everyone else was snoring. I tossed and turned and started to feel desperate.
It has to be better outside. 

I unzipped the tent and hauled my stuff out there. But it didn't take long for them to find me down in the grass. So I headed for higher ground -- the camp picnic table.

Higher, lower, it didn't matter. I was spread out like a feast.

Sleep never came. I listened to the night sounds for a very long time. I saw myself at the bottom of the food chain -- my blood fed the mosquitoes, who fed the bats swooping over my head. Dawn was a relief.

I vowed never to camp out under the stars in the Everglades again. But if you would have told me then that I'd be camping out on the floor in my baby's room in this same sleeping bag,  I would have laughed at you.

Now that's crazy.

I would have laughed even harder if you had mentioned the baby's two older sisters would be sleeping in the other room. I mean, I knew I wanted kids. But three? By 30? I pictured myself doing a lot of backpacking.


Girl-three is finally asleep and I'm drifting off myself. Maybe I'll unwrap out of this sleeping bag and crawl back in my own bed. Maybe I won't. I'm pretty comfortable right where I am.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

not a raccoon

When I was a kid, I loved the novel Where the Red Fern Grows. I'm sure I read it at least five times, and I always cried at the ending. Old Dan and Little Ann lived in my young heart, for sure.

There's a bit of miscellany hanging around in the cobwebs of my consciousness from reading and re-reading that book.

About raccoons. About trapping raccoons.

Did you know that if you drill a hole in a log, place something shiny at the bottom of the hole, and insert two nails facing into the hole and at just the right spacing, you've got yourself a trap?

The curious bugger will stick his paw into the hole and grab that shiny thing. He will get stuck. The nails will hold him there.

He could just let go.

But he won't. He's clutching his prize. He can't see the simple escape.

Let go. 


Girl-two used to melt down a lot. I mean, a lot. Like six times a day. (That's a lot.)

She'd spy some shiny thing that she wanted -- a certain snack, more time at the park, a way to sneak out of teeth brushing or room cleaning -- and she'd hang on. Tight. She'd scream for a good.long.time.

I would encourage her to let go. With gentle unwrapping, insistent prying, or creative distraction. Nothing worked.

Until finally, she'd release. It was a decision she made herself. I couldn't bring her there. She'd collect her nuk and blanket and tuck into her bed to regroup. 

She still throws wild, unstoppable fits. But they possess her much less frequently. I watch her winding up sometimes, wrapping her fingers around that shiny thing, but five times out of six, she can let go of it before she's completely stuck.

She's learning.

Let go.


I fluster easily.

Especially when things don't proceed the way I expect.

It's Sunday morning. John is outside with Girl-one and Girl-two, building front-yard sledding tracks for them and taking breaks to rake snow off the roof.

Girl-three sits on my hip and we wave from the front window. They're having fun. I'm glad. But.

But I will need to log in to tutor soon, and I have some other work I want to complete first. Getting it done will mean a bit of free time after the kids are in bed tonight. My prize. But afternoon knocks at the door. It's not going to happen.

And now I've got my fingers wrapped around that shiny thing and I don't want to let go. I feel my teeth start to clench. It's happening. I'm flustering. Getting stuck.

But before a full blown bad mood can cloud my vision completely, I spy that simple escape.

Let go.

So with a deep breath, I do. Free time clinks softly as it lands on the bottom of the hole. I leave it there while I make lunch and log my tutoring hours. I leave it there while I clean up after dinner and put the kids to bed. I don't miss the feeling of fluster.

And guess what. I got that work done more quickly than I expected once the kids were in bed. I'm holding free time in my hands right now.

I'm learning.

Let go.

I am not a raccoon. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

so I remember

I'm wearing it across my chest today.
It's white-hot
Pain to the touch.

My body knew how to feed a baby
But now
It doesn't
Know what to do.

I'm full
Of emotion.

For your entire life
And all of mine
(that I can remember anymore)
Nursing was a retreat
in the rocking chair
a comfortable connection
a quiet love.
Your body would relax
And I watched you fall asleep
In stages.

But the peace leaked out of that space,
a slow

You are fine.
You are forgetting.

I can't.
It hurts too much
to lay on my side.

But when the swelling goes down
and my heart hides back inside my chest
I'll have this
So I remember.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


On the day I met you, you surprised me with your intensity. 

One minute, I was seated on the exam table, facing the nurse-midwife. My voice was even.  

I really like your shoes, I told her. She remarked that they were, indeed, comfortable. I thought that I would, perhaps, get a pair myself.

The next minute, you were in my arms. 

And then you nursed for the first hour of your life. You screamed when someone else held you. You attached to me with a fierceness I was unprepared for.You were a loud, wrinkly, thin-skinned little seed. The world was so much for you, all at once. You needed to burrow deep.

I worried that you'd always fear everything. Everyone. But in the past year especially, I've watched you peeking out more and more, your tender shoot testing the sunshine and finding it warm. Safe.

What's unfurling surprises me with its complexity. You're the girl who dances ballet and collects snakes. You're a snuggler through and through, but you can throw fits like no one else's business.  You sample many foods. But refuse to drink water for its boooorrrrring taste. You're sweet. But intense. You know what you want and you're willing to hold out for it. You warm my heart daily -- and push me to pull out my hair just as often.

At night you usually fall asleep instantly. But last night it was late when you crept downstairs and said you couldn't sleep. You were too excited.

For today. For being Four.

You were excited about presents, of course. But you're also looking forward to everything this year will bring. A booster seat in the car! A dance recital! 4K in the fall!

This excitement -- this looking forward to it all -- doesn't really surprise me, though.

You've always had it in you.

Happy birthday, E!