Tuesday, April 7, 2015

love in the mail

empty mailboxes are no fun,
but let's face it!
once the holidays are over it's unusual to get much in the mail besides bills and junk mail.

april is national 
letter writing month! 
and one of my favorite letterpress companies, eggpress, together with another fave (and local stationary company) hello lucky! and one of my favorite pen companies, sakura of america, 
i got one last year, and sent out 30 letters in thirty days, and this april i'm doing it again! 
so far i've sent out 12 pieces of love in the mail. 

would you like some mail?
or want to swap letters: you send me a piece of mail and i'll send you one?
or do you want something fun in the mail for your kiddo?
or do you need a little something to brighten your mailbox?

let me know in the comments!
or shoot me an email with your info:

Tuesday, March 24, 2015


this girl has taught me so much about how to be a good mom. how to advocate. how to be kind. how to be patient. how to exhale. how not to compare. how to be thankful.

yesterday morning we had her annual iep, which is when we meet with her team from the school district to decide what services she will need for the coming year. it is always stressful, and a bit of wearing my mama heart on my sleeve to have her strengths and areas of need evaluated. even though i want her to get services for her areas of deficiency, which, let's face it, are to be assumed since she is profoundly deaf,  it's also hard that she still struggles in areas after working so hard day in and day out.

we are really lucky to work with such great people at our school district. if you know much about our public schools here, you know that we have far fewer resources than many other districts. and because our district serves such a diversity of backgrounds, they are also juggling many demands and needs with those limited resources. that said, the people who work within our district are not doing it for the money or the kudos. they are in the trenches in a very real way, and helping kids who are struggling, who have special needs, or who are the most vulnerable. i adore our daughter's teacher of the deaf, and her speech language therapist. they are both itinerant, which means every day they are driving to schools all over oakland, working in hallways and closets and tiny offices and the backs of classrooms with the kids on their caseloads. we are lucky enough to have monrovia on their list of students. they truly go above and beyond to make sure she is getting everything she can out of her mainstream setting. i really feel- as you're supposed to if your child has an iep- that we are all on the same team. it's such a gift to know that when she is at school all day, that the people working with her truly want the same best for her that matt and i do.

yesterday morning matt, our principal, our daughter's teacher, her speech therapist, her teacher of the deaf and i all sat around a tiny table in the principal's office, hashing out what would help monrovia do best this next year in school. instead of having to negotiate and wrangle, we had a two hour fruitful, encouraging, frank discussion of our daughter's best coping strategies, her gifts (compassion and kindness), her areas of need (oh reading, you are killing us), how well she does on paper vs. in reality, different approaches that could help her reach her goals, and ways she's improved over the last year.

at the end of the meeting, i did something i've never done before in almost 7 years of having these meetings: i signed the iep. right away. without thinking about it, without holding out for something better, without having to assess whether it was enough, we came up with a plan that supports our daughter's best self and recognizes that she really needs support in some key ways.

it doesn't always go like that, and even with fantastic services in place there will be areas that monrovia will struggle. but i am thankful for the process of revisiting her needs, talking it through with professionals who support and know our daughter, and for the feeling of not having to be her only advocates.


Friday, March 13, 2015

taking names

husband was back east this week, helping his sister robyn our with her new baby and toddler. he was able to juggle work from a distance and uncle/brother duties while i was on the homefront juggling work and mama duties.
in the cons category: daylight savings (%&*$#), minimum days for m's school, solo parenting and a lot of deadlines for my freelance work.

in the pros category: mama daughter time, and matt getting to meet our new nephew while hanging out

it's friday and i am beyond exhausted, but this will be short and sweet because i have to sneak a run in while i can!

this week in a nutshell
(although i spared you the tantrum pictures, of which there were many. goodness these girls don't know the meaning of the words, "i really need you to cooperate."
ruby and myles playdate. fast forward ten years and this is their homecoming picture.
moms are creative so did a little childcare swapping to get more work done. i mean a WEEK of minimum days? 
i hooked my girls up with special adventures and treats and somehow they have amnesia and forget five minutes later and launch into, "what fun thing are we doing next?" add that to the below rant post.

ruby making backyard tea
(that girl plays so hard she's one shoe on, one shoe off)
homemade chicken soup (thanks, jo)
did a little front porch chalking with ruby

did i mention deadlines?
 my studio is a disaster zone, but i kept two children alive AND busted my butt working
 ruby fashion
 after school homework sesh at a cafe
 monrovia's friend lily had an audiology appointment in oakland so we got to meet up with her family for dinner at fentons! it was so much fun to see the girls together. monrovia brought her the graphic novel/memoir el deafo, and the two of them giggled over it and compared deaf stories. the cutest. 
these sweeties have known each other since they were itty bitties- and ruby and johnny since they were born!

we snuck in some facetime with daddy

and finally our chickens are laying eggs again! some of this week's bounty

honestly, this week was loooooooong and had some hard hours for sure. i'm tired, ready for matt to be home. ready to sleep. ready to co-parent again. but also grateful he could go, and thankful i survived the week. 

oh, and in terms of taking names?
yes, that was me.
too little sleep (way too little) but rocked a whole lot of everything. and my house is even mostly clean!

hallelujah it's friday!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

rant break

taking a pause to rant for a moment.

consider the following:

  • daylight savings. yes, i love the evening light lasts longer blah blah blah, but i don't love this wreaking havoc on my night and morning thanks to kids who refuse to go to bed at night and refuse to wake up in the morning. my valiant attempts at guilt trips and bribery do nothing in the face of their internal body clocks which are set at, oh i don't know- THE OLD HOURS of the day. killing me.
  • this plague of 2015. is everyone you know currently sick, was sick, or getting sick?  killing me.
  • extra rant on that note: males with the plague of 2015. extra killing me and the significant other in their life.
  • eye rolling. oh i did my fair share of it to my own mother, but i swear i was in the double digits before i tried that sass out. my darlings? both on the eye roll action. to me. they are 4 and 6 you guys. killing me.
  • the ongoing fundraising at my children's school. hey friends and family, want to give me some money for their fill in the blank? oh, you just gave me money last week for a different fill in the blank at their school? yeah, i know. sorry about that. it's because we don't give our schools enough money to cover the basic necessities so i get to use some of my aforementioned but slightly different guilt trips and bribery to persuade the good people in my life to bankroll my children's education. insert cringing face here. killing me.
  • running. ouch. it's hard. i'm doing it everyone! i am doing the damn thing. my race is in 11 days! i know they say what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but...killing me. 
  • selfish parents at school drop off and pick up. yeah, we'd all love to double park and simplify our life with pulling right up to the front of the school. how convenient! except that would be a total traffic disaster, which is why in practically every week's school newsletter, back to school night and school assembly the principal talks about how you're not allowed to do that. and yet, every morning and every afternoon a few parents decide that they are above the law and get to skip the parking battle or the designated drop off zone and go straight to the entrance. and then those same parents who are backing up traffic and swerving to miss small children get mad if you, oh i don't know, roll your eyes at them. killing me. 
  • the bachelor. i've never watched this show before but watched a few episodes this season and all i can say is WHAT?!? is it 1913? maybe it's because i have daughters and the idea of one of them getting gussied up to prance across national tv, while pitting her against her own gender to gain some guy's affections, turning her into some human barbie doll that does different challenges to see how well she performs in different scenarios all while the guy evaluates her crushes my very soul. how on earth would i explain this stuff to my daughters? this does not mean that i didn't watch some of it. sadly, i did. BUT super killing me.

and that my friends, is it for now. but i'm sure you have some to offer, because ranting is fun. i'll be back to my kinder, gentler self next post.

ready, set, go in the comments and brighten my day!

p.s. i will add that as i was ranting away, one of my oldest, dearest friends showed up at my doorstep as a surprise! kind of hard to complain after that. happy wednesday!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

moms rock

I am so grateful that I can work from my studio attached to my home, and have a great deal of flexibility regarding when I work. I'm luckier than many of my friends who have far more rigid schedules. Every week I attempt to knock out really good work and to be a good (or sometimes just as good as i can be) mom, wife, and friend. It's no joke.

Yes, it means I'm often working on a work deadline until midnight (like last night and every weeknight this week) but there are benefits: I also get to get my kids ready in the morning, volunteer at their schools, and pick them up after school is over. I rarely have to get them childcare during the day. My kids can come work alongside me in my studio. (Ok, to be honest- this sounds MUCH better in theory than it works out in actuality.) Sometimes I surprise even myself at how much I'm able to get done as a parent and employee at the same time. And for my friends who have jobs that are more structured than mine? I have no idea how you do it. YOU ARE INCREDIBLE.

It's always crazy to me when working moms aren't given flexibility and are seen as slacking off or less committed; the moms I know juggle so many things while working (paid and otherwise) and accomplishing phenomenal amounts every day. This is a great article on the value of giving moms flexibility and on how hard mamas are actually working!

"There’s a saying that “if you want something done then ask a busy person to do it.” That’s exactly why I like working with mothers now. Moms tell me when a project can be done and they give me very advanced notice when they have to take time off work. If they work from home, it doesn’t matter if a kid gets sick...but they can still be productive because they can work from home while keeping an eye on their child...Moms work hard to meet deadlines because they have a powerful motivation – they want to be sure they can make dinner, pick a child up from school, and yes, get to the gym for themselves."

Here's to you mamas out there who work incredibly hard, juggle things constantly, and still somehow manage to hold themselves together. You're rock stars, each and every one of you. Oh, me too. I'm a rock star too.

Monday, March 2, 2015

hurry up, slow down

it's funny, isn't it, how we compete with each other for how busy we are?

how we are trying to get more and more done? pack as much work as we can into a week? how rarely we sit still with nothing on the to do list? it's as if it's a moral failing to merely enjoy a day of rest.

i feel like i am constantly behind, and if i am accomplishing nothing than somehow i am failing.


when i was growing up, sundays were sacred spaces. the sabbath. that meant church in the morning, home for lunch- maybe with friends from church over, naps, and for most of my childhood, no tv, restaurants or homework. that shifted slightly as i got older, but for many years there were strict boundaries on what sundays looked like.

yesterday was a pretty perfect day and in terms of accomplishing things? i got nothing done. in the late afternoon matt and the girls and i went to the college campus that's about a mile from our house.
the girls rode bikes with matt trailing them, and i walked four miles. (remember? i somehow signed myself up for a race even though i don't run, so sundays are the light days in my training when i just walk.) living in the middle of a city it's kind of nice to escape to places like this, especially when they are so close to our house:

i walked for about an hour, and thought about how content i was. i could smell all of the trees in bloom, the sky was bright blue, my children were racing around on their bikes, my love was happily chasing after them and scooping them up after every tumble, my body was strong and healthy, i could hear the birds chirping and leaves rustling. a good afternoon. i'd usually feel guilty that i wasn't getting more done. and yet, why? who cares if my house is kind of messy? that i am not working every single day to make money? that my to do list isn't getting crossed off as quickly as i'd like?

to slowing down. to recharging. to being less efficient. to wasting time. to resting. to savoring the sounds and smells and tastes when i stop moving. to nurturing these quiet, still spaces. to a sabbath that recharges me for a very full week ahead.  

Friday, February 27, 2015

that was then, this is now

i haven't posted much about monrovia's deafness lately, partly because i've been in a bit of a lull posting...and partly because life just rolls along, and her deafness is just part of our normal. i was thinking about it the other day, when i was texting with her deaf teacher about a couple of issues that have come up at school. overall? we couldn't ask for a better outcome. at the same time, we field little hearing loss related things every week that have just become part of our life rhythm as a family.

monrovia is completely mainstreamed, and thriving in her classroom. she has a speech therapist that works with her once a week, a deaf teacher that comes in twice a week to address any classroom issues, and her teacher wears an fm system so that her voice can go directly into monrovia's implants. most of the time things go smoothly. so much of what we think about with her implants and deafness is invisible to anyone outside of our family. she's learned to advocate for herself, and we've learned to choose when to speak up and when to let things work themselves out.

this week we celebrated the 6th anniversary of when monrovia got her surgery for her cochlear implants! i cannot believe it's been SIX years since this day happened.

i had so many fears when i wrote for the very first time about her potential diagnosis. then we moved on from grief to action, and life with a delightful baby! there was lots of this with very little results:

those powerful hearing aids just couldn't make the sound loud enough for our baby. remember those days? the little pilot hat snug on her head because she would pull those teensy hearing aids out to chew on them? therapy back then was really more to teach matt and i how to teach speech and language to a deaf child than it was helpful to her.

then, after those silly hearing aids and a very long and hard fight with insurance, we won! on february 24, 2009, our little bambino had her surgery. in retrospect she was so small! look at her snuggling up with that pacifier! i remember feeling so at peace as the surgeons worked on her for hours.

so much has happened since, of course. so many milestones and celebrations! our beautiful, smart, kind deaf girl loves these implants more than anything. in a few weeks we celebrate her hearing birthday: the day her implants got activated for the first time and she heard her first sounds, including her name, our voices, and the words "we love you." a pretty remarkable six years, i'd say; there's not much that could make me take back a day of it. proud and grateful for this journey, and somehow i become more proud as each year passes.
(someone was very excited to discover this week that her two implants 
make the shape of a heart when she puts them together)

some awesome for your weekend

a little bit of this and a little bit of that for your friday...
  • here in oakland we have lots of sun (sorry east coast,) so i'm trying to make the most of it!

if you're local, our orange tree has about 3 billion oranges, so come on by and harvest some! 
also, our chickens are finally laying again so you might even get to take a few eggs home!

  • i have some new cards out, but they might be harder to spot than my usual suspects because they look different than my usual designs, so here's a few of them: 

these are available wherever marcel schurman products are sold!
(i think it's easiest to grab them off of website so you don't have to hunt, but they are available at retailers nationwide)

  • i realize i control so much of what my children eat for every meal, but not what they wear.  if you've seen my children, they have quite the mishmash of ensembles. always. lately ruby is into multiple shirts plus a dress and a skirt and leggings and mismatched socks and a few accessories for good measure.
exhibit a:
in light of that? this mom is rad for what she lets her kid do for a week. would you dare? 
i would be wearing 43 layers i think.

  • have you seen this website before? i love it and so do my girls. so many great videos on a huge range of topics: art, science, animals, etc... for them (and for grownups too!) it is way more manageable than looking for things on youtube or even on a site like pbskids. my girls loved this video, and i loved this one. (it actually made me tear up. who knew an astronaut could bring me to tears!)

  • this video is perfect for a friday morning. click on it. no, really. (you're welcome!)

have a good weekend!

sugar mama

i feel like childhood can be summed up as one massive sugar explosion rolling into the next sugar volcano. halloween into christmas into valentine's day into easter....plus birthday treats every time someone turns a year older...treats from the grandparents, treats after school, treats on a play date...treats, treats, treats! 

so i spotted this cute alternative to a candy packed easter basket and sighed, ah yes: 
(picture via http://www.designmom.com)

i feel like my girls get more than enough sugar and treats, and yet in their minds what they get is never enough. i swear they ask me constantly for a little something. it doesn't seem to matter how many times we talk about "sometimes" or "once-in-a-while" foods, they still ask for them. incessantly. 

granted, they eat really healthy food too. yesterday they were nibbling on stalks of broccoli that they pulled out of one of our planter beds, and i can always tell when they've been grazing in the kale in our garden because they come inside with their faces stained green. they love salad and vegetables and fruit and all of that anytime-category of food.


i've worked hard not to allow treats or food to be a reward or for it to represent love or as a filler for sad times or as a symbol of happy times. that doesn't mean they don't get that message from other places, but as much as possible i've worked hard not to have food represent something that fills the parts of your soul that need filling.

and yet?

it's wearing me out, this constant begging for shugs. it feels like a daily ask on their part. so i wonder, wise ones, if you have some smart way that you speak to your kids about sugar or treats? i feel like it is EVERYWHERE. i don't want to limit them completely, because a.that's pretty impossible b.i think no treats would lead them to want them even more and c.did i mention it would be really close to impossible? 

wisdom? insight? advice? 
happy weekend to you.
now that you've stopped by, say hello in the comments :)

Thursday, February 12, 2015


feels like life has been hurtling by, in all of its glorious messiness and mayhem. am i right?

(ruby sleeping last week, with her friends little house + richard scarry)

time feels precious to me lately. i walked into the girls room last night and they were both sprawled out, legs splayed and covers twisted around their bodies every which way. the hallway light fell on their sleeping faces, and i just wanted to gather them up into my arms and hold them.

i dropped monrovia off at school this morning; as we walked up the hill to get there, her hand in mine, she told me all about what they'd learned about the day before for black history month. it felt like a sacred moment, and one that would soon be gone. i know after not too long she won't want to be holding my hand in public.

ruby has been so clingy lately, saying, "Uppy, uppy!" like a little baby to get me to carry her around. i was getting frustrated with her about it; it just seemed like i could hardly move a couple feet without her pulling on me or wrapping herself around my legs. and then i thought, it's going to be done soon. this part of life with children. so slow yourself down and pick that girl up while you still can, susannah.

i wish everything was unicorns and rainbows around our house, but i won't lie. it's been a battle lately, this parenting thing. i want to teach my girls appropriate boundaries for pushing back at me as their mom, and boy are they testing those boundaries. sometimes at about 5 pm i'm ready to call it a day and ship everyone off to bed, including myself. this morning i had barely put breakfast on the table before i was ready to call a time out. i mean, COME ON, how many times can you say no or complain within the first hour of waking up? i don't know, but my children are the current world record holders i think.

so. left hand? sweet slivers of time that will be gone way too soon: like their chubby little bodies finally at rest, or holding their little hands in mine, or their cute little pieces of artwork that they thrust into my face for approval. right hand? button pushing, screaming, whining, complaining meltdowns on repeat.

the challenge for me is to hold both of those hands open. know that to grow up well they have to do both and that my job as a good mom is to nurture the snuggling moments, and to allow and shape the crazy moments without losing my %&$#. man, it's hard. so despite the running on empty i'm forging ahead (because ha! what choice to i have!) and trying to breathe deep, love these little humans while teaching them what behavior is ok and what is not so much.

meanwhile, i'm learning what mommy behavior is ok and what not so much: when to reprimand, when to hug, when to give space, when to push in and let them be a mess. (feel free to insert your wisdom in the comments section)

lord, have mercy.

because most days i have to hope i'm making the right choices in how i'm loving them. and then the other days i just figure they'll end up in years of therapy.

Monday, February 2, 2015

happy february!

for the love, january is over! usually i love january- since it's my birthday after all, and i adore my birthday. but this january was full of hard stuff: from the little, like the cold that just knocked me out cold (pardon the pun) to the flu that hit everyone in our family to the big, the passing of long-time wise and kind members of our church community. like i wrote last week, it wasn't the way i imagined going into my 40's, but hey, life is unpredictable!

and at least around here...february means that everything is beginning to blossom!
this weekend was beautiful, and i started it off by taking on a section of our elementary school that has been driving me crazy for the last two years! i worked with two other mamas, nancy and sarah, to rehab this sad and sorry little section near the kindergarten entrance. viola! after two hours of digging and watering and pulling and rearranging and replanting?
this sad patch looks much happier. it made me so thankful for teamwork, and for living in a warm, sunny place where at the end of january we can dig in the dirt with the temperature hitting the 70's. oh, and for feeling healthy again! hooray!  
bottom line? i'm happy it's a new month.
are you looking forward to february? have you started your kids' valentines?
i haven't!

oh, also?
today is the birthday of my dear friend karen,
who is one of the hottest mamas i know.
she's also a kind-hearted, generous, wise, funny, saucy, smartypants, witty, strong, loyal, thoughtful, incredible wife, mom, daughter, sister and friend. happy to YOU, karen!
i don't know what i'm doing in this photo, but let's move along, shall we?

happy february!!!!

Friday, January 23, 2015

40? yes, 40

i'm sitting at a cafe, taking some time for myself (thank you very much husband) and making up for the fact that last week, on my actual birthday, i was stuck in bed with a terrible flu. every year on my birthday i try to go and spend some time on my birthday working on a list of goals for the year. i used to write a goal for each year of my life- yes, as in this year i would write 40 goals. i really don't think i thought it through all the way way back in the day that the older i got the more goals i'd be creating for myself. hmmm. so i haven't counted the goals i came up with this time, but here's a snippet of a few of them:

less: phone use, sugar, procrastinating, time wasting, aimless internet wandering, dairy and bread (yes cheese and baguette- i'm talking to you sweet soulmates), criticizing, mom-voice, mindless tv

more: blogging, moving (in the forms of running, walking, interval training), playing, active listening, drawing, from-scratch cooking, veggies, writing snail mail, snuggling, imagining, volunteering, sunscreen, reading for pleasure, podcasts, friend time

i am still sitting with the fact that i have slowly but surely tiptoes into a new decade of life. i was thinking about how the last days of my 20's and my 30th birthday were spent in the hospital with my friend who was fighting leukemia. ten years later she is healthy and thriving. since then i have begun and finished grad school, made a bazillion cards for papyrus, started a blog, become a pastor's wife (at least my own version of that), moved from my parents house to a place of our own to a house that we bought, had two beautiful and amazing daughters, weathered the loss of my dad and the implosion of our family unit as we all knew it, made new friends (and kept the old too), shared so many moments with people i love. what will the next ten years hold? i can hardly imagine. 

hopefully more courage and beauty and goodness.
less fear.

Monday, January 12, 2015

sick day

(please don't be misled- i did not see this beautiful blue sky today.
because i was in bed.
all day.
no drama here, i know.)

for those of you keeping score at home, you know that i love my birthday. we actually celebrate birthday week here in our house, because i love them that much.

and my birthday- actually a very big one- is in two days. TWO! 

and i'm sick.
in bed.
all day long i've been in bed doing different variations on sleeping and trying to sleep and medicating and resting.
but to no avail because i feel just as bad if not worse than i felt this morning.

this was not my plan for today. 
i only have two days of my thirties left and this is how one of them plays out!? 

so, instead of a birthday eve eve party?
i'm throwing myself a pity party.
anyone want to come?

Sunday, January 11, 2015

i'm shallow, too, everyone. so what.

yes i care about justice and high culture and good books and reading the ny times and east oakland and blah blah blah all that smartypants stuff. really, i do.

but if you know me well, you also know i like celebrity trash and low culture. high, low..., my friends. there is a time and place for everything. i watch tv shows online when i am working on freelance deadlines at night, so i am all about mindless things that i can watch without paying too much attention but that will keep me awake.

so in no particular order, tv that i like right now:

not really mindless ones:

1. parenthood- only four episodes left! ah, i wish this show wasn't going off the air, but they have a huge and $$$$ cast, so i get why its time is coming to an end. as the oldest of four siblings this show rings so true from sibling dynamics to real life highs and lows. i love you parenthood; i wish you would grow old with me. (also i am team joelia all the way)

2. the good wife- i only started watching this in the last year when i had a really big deadline and i was up at all hours for weeks and weeks on end. ahhhhh so good! kind of addictive and i have a girl crush on alicia florick. she's so beautiful and classy and kick ass. my least favorite aspect of this show is her relationship with peter, her still husband even though it's all for show.

totally mental candy but better than watching the real housewives anything:

3. selfie-dumb title, got cancelled, but sweet show based on my fair lady. you can still watch this on hulu. i still don't understand how reality shows about moonshining and pawn shows are on, but this gets cancelled within 7 episodes, but then again...we also let donald trump have a tv show on network tv for how many seasons now?

4. the mindy show- i love mindy kaling and she is brillant, funny, and also all about low culture. this show is the funnier the more you watch it, but it also has lots of truly sweet relational moments. i love morgan, the ex-con turned nurse. he is one of the best parts of this show.

5. jane the virgin- i love this new telenovela with incredibly adorable gina rodriguez starring in the main role. addictive, funny, quirky.

my sole reality tv exceptions and i can justify these because they help the creative process:
top chef and project runway 

the please don't judge my character based on my tv viewing habits category:
the new girl (schmidt makes this show worthwhile, and this season is a billion times better than last season), scandal, hart of dixie, grey's anatomy, nashville

so just a reminder: really, truly, i only watch tv when i'm working on a project. so i don't spend endless hours vegged out on the couch consuming these shows.

the one exception? mad men. matt and i have slowly been watching all of the seasons. this one goes into the watch-it-without-multi-tasking genre.

now that i've listed basically 85% of the shows on tv, are there any left i missed that you watch that i should add to my list?

um, also, topic for a future post but OF COURSE i listen to the serial podcast. anyone? anyone?

Saturday, January 10, 2015

a post to myself, because i forget.

when i'm about to go ballistic on my girls
because it feels like they have a targeted ability to push my buttons
i'm at the end of my rope

i need to go in my mind to moments like this,
where my girls remind me that


they are discovering how to make their way in the world,
how to be human,
how to fight and make up,
how to have conflict and resolve it,
when to make believe and when not to,
when to play well with others and when to resist the crowd,
how to have self control
how to be silly
when to follow the rules and when to make their own way,
how to mature.

it's tricky business,
and sometimes i think i expect them to be small adults,
to realize the obvious consequences of their actions,
and to read my adult mind and know how to behave properly.

on one hand i want them to grow up fast, 
because i want them to listen and respond to my requests,
and to be appropriate at all times,
and to have good manners.
but then on the other hand i want them to stay just like this-
twirling and dancing in make-believe costumes,
playing together in the world of pretend. 

a challenge to me this year is to hold both of them together:
the importance of teaching my girls when they need to be appropriate
when i need to let things go and let them play,
and savor being 4 and 6 years old.
 i know before i even realize it they will be all grown up, no pretend left in them, 
navigating a harsh world.

what can i give them?
i can give them a safe place to come back to-
a place where showing the wrong actions or emotions is forgiven with love and grace and hugs,
a place where they can play and not be embarrassed,
a place where they are loved and known entirely
no matter how old they are
and how unkind the world outside is.

what do you need to work on this year as a parent?
talk to me wise friends; 
i need all the help  can get.

Thursday, January 8, 2015


“Nothing is worth more than this day.”  Goethe

my mom, younger brother johnny + me circa 1977

it's been a week. you know the kind? 

(i should insert here, the week has not been apocalyptic- there have been giggles and silly jokes and snuggles and snacks and great mommying moments....
good mundane kind of stuff.)
thought the girls might have pink eye (hooray they don't but they stayed home from school anyway)
i slept on my neck wrong on sunday and still killing me four days later
my house is essentially one huge mess made up of 4,576 little messes
monrovia was late to school today despite my very best efforts (she was totally sabotaged by ruby's slow as molasses routine)
i haven't done last nights dishes (ahem, see above re: messes)
my studio is a disaster zone and looks like someone broke in. 
child #1 swings between being helpful and kind and rude and demanding
child #2 swings between being clingy and snuggly (same thing basically but one is with whining and one is with sweetness)
homework battles and somehow i'm already googling proper comma use for my first grader when supposedly that's a subject i'm good in (you know, just to double check)
oh, also i'm solo parenting

i was looking at this picture of my mom with my younger brother and I from long ago, (yes, that's me looking like a boy) thinking about how all that stuff doesn't really matter. i'll never know how crappy my mom's day was there. maybe she yelled at me, maybe i was perfection all day long, maybe a hundred things went wrong, maybe jonathan and i had the flu. i have no idea. but here i see a beautiful young (27 years old!!) mom reading with her children who love her.

i mean i should probably do the dishes eventually, and work harder to get out of the door faster in the morning (for the record it is crazy rare that m is late to school,) and i do need to figure out what on earth is going on with my emotional roller coaster of a 6 1/2 year old. 

but big picture? today is a good day. i have healthy children who i love, a home full of love, a car that runs, a body that works, and so much more goodness. my kids will probably not remember that i yelled to put their shoes on or that they lost a third book at bedtime because they were being crazy or the 4,576 messes everywhere. they might not remember that i apologized for getting frustrated so fast and that i came and kissed them extra times at bedtime and that i did super fun after-school activities with them and let them watch a movie when they were home sick-not-sick and didn't work so i could play with them. 

but maybe they'll run into this picture someday that we took for matt and know that even if all the details are hazy that they were loved messily and with flaws, but loved.

Friday, January 2, 2015

new year, new scary

this is oakland's beautiful lake merritt, which is the perfect place to run or walk or bike around. 

back in the day, and by that i mean before babies and toddlers and now big kids, i used to run lake merritt. i'd say it's been a healthy 7 years since i ran around it, although i've walked it hundreds of times. 

it is one of my favorite places in oakland; i always think of it as the great equalizer because every single demographic you can imagine is hanging out at that lake. octogenarian athletes that still shuffle around the lake daily? check. cute new couples who are strolling along or hanging on a bench? check. new moms pushing their strollers? check. guys who look like they are in the run-all-over-philadelphia-training-portion of rocky? weekend warriors? check. women in skimpy little bikinis sunning themselves or women in full hijab? every other possible type of person? check. 

so, i love it. it makes me feel part of our larger mish-mash of a city every time i'm there. but the running part was never the part i loved...more like the part i tolerated to get stronger, healthier, faster. and yet a month or so ago, when a mom friend form school posted that she was looking for two more relay partners in the upcoming oakland marathon i somehow, inexplicably, thought: "this would be a good personal goal for me. after all i'm turning 40, it's a new year, and running any sort of race scares the bejeezus out of me but it would be a good personal practice to train for it." um, what was i thinking? i have no idea. but i did it. and now i've gotta hustle to get ready to run 7 miles by march 22. SEVEN. i currently run ZERO.

i will add at this point that the part that is hard for me about running these days is that thanks to my two darlings, and pushing them out of the birth canal, that there are some not so pleasant side-deterrents from running. people, i am a one woman pee-on-myself-machine. perhaps that was too much information, but it is a very real reason that i've stopped running.

yet the deadline looms, so i'm off to face my fears and my issues. pep talk anyone? training wisdom? personal stories of triumphing over adversity? (ok that may be somewhat dramatic) 

anything new and scary you're taking on this year?
talk to me.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

just in case & a christmas roundup

....our christmas card didn't grace your mailbox (because let's be honest, i realized after i sent them all out that i had missed a whole page of addresses and was running short on cards and letters...so perhaps you are one of those who usually gets our letters and then this year, poof! nada. my apologies- it's totally my fault. i inadvertently didn't order enough! 

thanks to technology, you can peek it right here.)

meanwhile, this is kind of what december looked like around here: an insane amount of treats, family, friends, more baked goods, love in the mail in the form of holiday cards (thank you very much- i love real mail!), vacation from school!, christmas lights, finally some rain, and a mish-mash of otherness.

a photo bomb of december, from a mini showing of some small paintings to m's school art show to ruby's broken arm, a living nativity (i'll recap that action later), christmas eve aebleskivers, dinner parties, movie nights, gift making and giving and receiving, baby jesus celebrating, seeing the long-awaited annie in theatres, making baked goods and sharing with our neighbors, stormaggedon that gave the girls their very first rain day from school, december birthday celebrations of which there were multiple, and general holiday hijinks? it was a full month:


and somehow, inexplicable it is the end of the year. we are almost to 2015, the year in which i turn (i don't know how this is even possible) 40!

i don't know about you, but my body is feeling the month of treats and cozy nights and sleeping in and extra drinks. out with the old! in with the new! time to ramp up clean eating and moving. yesterday i worked out for maybe the third time this month and i felt myself cursing throughout my sweat session. i was frustrated that yet again i sort of put exercise on the back burner when life is full and busy; it feels selfish to take time to make slow food and to schedule a workout. how is it so easy to fall off the wagon of healthy living? how on earth is it so hard to sustain positive actions of eating well and exercise? and yet, somehow, when i was in a delusional state, i signed up fro a four-person relay at oakland's marathon. people, i hate running. people, i am crazy. but deadlines are where it's at! so off to walk or run or walk-mostly-run-a-little. love to you and yours!