Nine in, Nine out

>> Friday, August 28, 2009

He's been out for as long as he was in.

I know what I'm supposed to say.

It's gone too fast.
The time has flown by.
They get big too quickly.

But by my third time around, I learned a little secret. It doesn't have to go so fast. If you soak it all in, absorbing each moment, striving as hard as possible to just hold still - there, in the experience of it all - time passes at just the right pace.

He may be getting bigger, but he's still the baby.

My baby.



>> Thursday, August 27, 2009

It’s these little moments, the seemingly insignificant interactions that I’m so afraid of forgetting, that I want to sear in my brain so in years to come, I can clearly recall the moment in colors as vivid as they flashed this day.

* * *

My Owen, almost six, carries crumb-filled dishes, precariously balanced, across the kitchen.

I’ll help you do the dishes, Mom.

And so we stand, side by side, me rinsing, he loading the dishwasher. An ordinary moment, inconsequential in the scheme of our day. But the sweetness of my child seeps out through his pores for these minutes we stand working together as mother and son.

* * *

My Eli, barely three, presses his grimy palms to my cheeks.

I love you, Mama. You’re mine. I want to kiss you.

And he proceeds with his ritual. Cheek, other cheek, nose, forehead, lips.

I can’t stop kissing you!

And I hope he never does.

* * *

My Axel, nine months old tomorrow. We lay on our bed in the dark, winding down before eyes fall heavy with sleep. I sing to him, and he sings with me, his ahhhhhhhhs pouring out from a mouth open wide. Our harmony is like honey and the sweetness oozes all around us, warm and gooey and sweet.

* * *

Sometimes I tense with fear, gripped with anxiety, knowing that I will forget. That I will lose these fleeting moments of childhood that come and are gone like raindrops in a river. I scribble memories in my mind and scrawl notes in books to capture a slice -- even a bite -- of the essence of our lives, but as I grasp these handfuls to take with me as my boys grow, so much slips like water through my fingers and I stare down at my empty hand wondering how I could possibly lose hold of something that, in the moment, feels so solid.

But I have found solace in accepting that although I won’t remember every mannerism or moment that brings me so much joy right now, that the reason I want to remember it all, to hang on for dear life to all of the bits of life around me, is simply because I am happy. And if I can just remember that we were happy, that I delighted in the little things my children said and did and that our lives were joyful, if I can remember the essence of our life and in years to come, recall the scent of joy that fills our home in these days of raising little boys, then that’s all I really need to do.



>> Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I originally wrote this little stream of consciousness rant in my private journal, not wanting to share the messier aspects of life with small children. But after reading Amber's post at The Run a Muck, I decided I might as well share my take. After all, I think most mothers can relate to the feeling of slogging through the daily messes of life.

Sometimes I wonder if the stink will ever leave us.

The kitchen smells like milk-soaked rags, left under the table where they have been dropped or kicked or thrown. The spills dried and crusted on the kitchen counter go unnoticed for days until they reach a critical mass. Remnants of this morning’s breakfast linger on the table, and a full cup of coffee hides, forgotten and cold in the microwave.

From the bathroom wafts the scent of wet towels, pulled from the peg to dry freshly washed hands and left to lie where they have fallen to the floor. Pee pools in the toilet or dries in sticky splatters after hasty little boys have run off to play. Diapers, needing to be washed, collect in a bag on the bathroom floor. Where has the diaper pail gone? It still sits in front of the washer in the basement from the last time we washed diapers, three days ago.

The dog dish and the recycling sit side by side -- out of sight but not out of smell -- in the back hall.

The boys bedroom smells of sweat and dirt and humid summer air. In our room, scents mingle. Breastmilk, baby spit-up, and the evidence of love stain sheets that need desperately to be washed.

This is the odor of the life we live. It is a stinky mess, this business of raising young ones. The need for cleaning is constant. The messes bubble up from a bottomless well. I feel ready to surrender to the state of disarray.

I wonder if it will always be like this as long as boys grow in this home? It has to get easier to keep up with it all, to strike a balance, to maintain some semblance of order.

Perhaps when the minutes stretch longer and parenting ceases to be called play by play. Maybe then I can find a middle ground between order and chaos. But for now, I will quickly gather the towels and wipe the spills and keep skimming the top off the mess.

My inability to keep my house clean seems to be a common theme here on the blog. Here's more tales to help you feel a little less alone in your messy house:

What are your biggest messes? Does funk linger in your kitchen? What are your biggest obstacles to a nice smelling home? Share. Commiserate. Feel ye not alone. :)


This pretty much sums things up.

>> Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Yep. That's about right.


can't it linger a little longer?

>> Friday, August 21, 2009

Bee Balm

I'm in denial that there are only two weeks left of summer.

It isn't just the warm weather and the camping and swimming and tomatoes that I will miss.

There's more. This summer is different than all of the others. This summer is our last summer marked by the seasons, rather than a school calendar. This summer is the first that ends on September 1, instead of ending when the days get shorter and the air cooler.


This is the summer before kindergarten.

And as ready as he is to go off to school and thrive with other children and a teacher and letters and numbers and science projects, I am not ready to send him off. To accept that he will spend more waking hours away from us than with us. To surrender to the rhythm of semesters instead of seasons. To sacrifice spontaneity for schedules.

How did six years fly by so quickly?

Two weeks left of summer. And then we officially enter the School Daze. I knew it was coming. But I will hold fast to these last remnants of summer sweetness.


Health Care- an introductory ramble

>> Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I just pulled up in the parking lot at the cafe I'm escaping to this morning. I planned to work on some pieces I am submitting in a couple of weeks, but my mind keeps drifting back to another topic. Drifting doesn't really do justice to the pull I feel to the subject of health care right now. My heart hurts over the situation of our nation.

On the radio, I was listening to the Rev. Jim Wallis being interviewed on the progressive talk radio show, The Stephanie Miller Show. (You should be able to listen to the interview from the website as of later today.)In his gentle way, he stressed that we need to steer this debate away from money, away from politics, and focus it back on morals. There are millions of people without health insurance in our country and people are dying every day. They are going broke. Losing their houses. Losing their livelihoods because they got sick and couldn't afford the costs of care.

How did this become a Red and Blue issue? How did health care turn into a wedge issue? How have we let politicians commandeer the issue and use it as a disguise for what, for a loud and ugly fringe of society, is fear and hatred and racism?

I watch these town hall meetings where grown men and women are screaming, yes SCREAMING, at their elected officials. Comparing our president to Hitler (which is off on way too many levels for me even to dissect here). Besides being downright rude, the displays are frightening.

And while we see the images of people freaking out and screaming and waving signs and strapping assault weapons to their bodies, the media are choosing to ignore the stories of the thousands of people lined up for free eye exams and dental work and physicals. I just heard stories this morning of people who were getting in line at 3am so they could have a doctor or nurse treat them. Another story of a person who was rushed to the ER as soon as she was seen because she was having acute kidney failure. From diabetes. A PREVENTABLE condition that went untreated because the woman had no health insurance and didn't want to go to the ER.

People are sick and dying. Adults, children, seniors. Moms and dads and siblings and neighbors and I.AM.SICK.ABOUT.IT.

I am fighting back tears as I type this, because I don't know how to do anything about it. My senator and representatives are already pushing for a public option, so contacting them would show my support but not sway opinion. I don't know what else to do but bring the issue here, to my humble little blog with 50 readers a day. I know it's not much, but I need to get the conversation going.

Please, whether you know a little or a lot about this, speak up here. Let's start talking. Be respectful and don't be mean. Those are my rules and if you break them, I'll delete your comments. ;)

And pass on the link because I have a feeling I'll be talking more and more about this in the days to come, and more voices make the conversation more interesting. (I am not ready to get into policies in this post, but believe me - I have plenty to say on that topic, too.)

I look forward to hearing from you.

Do you think every American should have health insurance? Do you see it as a moral issue? How do you suggest getting involved or making a difference?


New York Times article about the free health care clinic

Another family's personal story, posted on Ariel Gore's blog


well look who thinks he's all grown up....

>> Sunday, August 16, 2009

Could it be less than three months that have passed since Axel had Al Gore looking over his shoulder? We honestly didn't think a week could get any bigger, but he's gone and done it again.

His smile is sparkling extra pearly these days now that he's got one, two, three, count 'em FOUR choppers (but still no interest in his fruits and veggies).

He has not only discovered the stairs, but he has mastered them. Going up, anyway.

And? He decided that at 8 months, he is just way too old to stick to this crawling gig. So whenever he can, he's up and standing or better yet -- grabs a hold of my pointers and takes off at a power-walker's pace. Seriously, the kid rips. It will not be long before he snubs my helpful gesture and takes off after his brothers on his own.

*Sigh* At least he's still hanging on to his beloved stuffed carrot. I just don't think I could bear it if he got too old for that.


Crazytalk, take 2

>> Saturday, August 15, 2009

I have two other posts in the works right now (waiting for time to upload pictures from my camera), but this one had to cut in line and head straight for the top.

After the popularity of my last installment of Crazytalk, I decided to share the most recent construct of my imagination with you. Then you are, of course, obligated to chime in if you haven't yet (either here or there, after reading all the Crazy Comments) with your own Confessions of Crazy. You know, just to make me feel a little better. That means YOU, all of you who didn't comment but just told me in person or on facebook about how crazy you are. We need a compilation here, post anonymously if you're too embarrassed.

So. The other night I'm driving back from a friend's house after dropping off some dinner for her, and I am starving. I discover a bag of pretzel remnants tucked between the passenger seat and the center console, so I start munching on the crumbs and pebbles of salt as I race home.

I must have taken a deep breath or coughed or something, because all of sudden I thought, What if I choke on these pretzels? And as is my modus operandi, I rode the wave of crazy right on through.

If I choke, no one would even know. How could I get help? Would I just die here, driving in my minivan? Because I choked on a pretzel?? I could turn the hazards on. Yes. I would turn the hazards on. And stop in the middle of the road. And throw open my door. That would get someone's attention.

And that is when I realized I was essentially writing in my head my second installment of Crazytalk.

So bring it on, y'all.


Nursing is Normal

>> Thursday, August 13, 2009

It is good to be back on the blog! We’ve been out of town visiting the inlaws for the week, and our first night there, a rippin’ storm knocked their power (and therefore internet connection) out for days. But, now I am home sweet home, and I can post again.

The night before we left, I had the chance to check out a super secret sneak peek of the Nursing is Normal photo exhibit on display at Happy Bambino. Ok, maybe it wasn’t super secret, but it was a sneak peek for the larger show that will open at the Goodman Community Center for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art twice annual Gallery Night on October 2.

And let me just say, it will be worth your time to check out. For one, anyone who appreciates good photography will enjoy the collection. Photographer and co-owner of Happy Bambino Lea Wolf artfully captured tender moments between Madison mamas and their little nurslings breastfeeding in locations all around town. And for two? The NIN project is too cool not to get a shout out here.

The NIN project was created with the understanding that "the more often something is seen, the more accepted it becomes," explains NIN founder Kathy O'Brien. After reading about the NIN project, Happy Bambino co-owners Lea Wolf and Alison Dodge decided to start a Madison chapter.

The entire project is done on a volunteer basis, meaning no money is exchanged for the photo sessions, the time spent taking and processing photos, the cost of printing and displaying the collection, nor the promotion costs for the display, which will hopefully be traveling around Madison following it's opening on Gallery Night. Lea and Alison are passionate supporters of breastfeeding and of families in general, and they are generously giving of their time, talent, and resources to bring this project to Madison.

I know here in progressive Madison it may go without saying that mothers are free to nurse their babies wherever they are when hunger or the need for soothing arises. But the reality is that around the country, many women do not have the support they need to breastfeed, let alone in public.

While not every mother is able to breastfeed and should never be made to feel judged or inferior for feeding her baby formula, I believe that as a society, we should be educating both children and adults about the myriad benefits of breastfeeding and encouraging women to give breastfeeding a shot. The more mainstream breastfeeding becomes, the easier it will be for new mothers to try it. The NIN project has the potential to ease the public into becoming more comfortable with public breastfeeding, and it may be a powerful voice in making the statement that nursing is, indeed, normal.

As a mother who has nursed her babies at home, at school, on the bus, at the park, in the mall, at church, in a restaurant, at the library, and possibly in your home; I am honored to have been invited to the sneak peek of Madison’s NIN exhibit and to have the opportunity to share it with you here on my blog.

For anyone worried that the exhibit will just be photos of a bunch of exhibitionists, I can assure you that the collection is tasteful even to the most modest of viewers. (No skin flick or nipple extravaganza here, sorry folks.)The exhibit is photographic art, and the images Lea has captured are heartwarming.

I hope that if you are in Madison for the MMoCA Gallery Night on October 2, you will check out the full exhibit at the Goodman Community Center. And if the promotion of breastfeeding education is important to you, spread the word.

Photo* by Lea Wolf

Nursing is Normal photo exhibit
Friday, October 2, 2009 at the Goodman Community Center

*edited to add: this photo is not of me and is used by permission from Lea Wolf.


Straight from Owen

>> Friday, August 7, 2009

He peers at me from under his star hoody, looking like a mini-teenager. Wiping the cookie crumbs from his mouth, he asks me,

Know why I don't like cats, Mom? Because I like mice. And cats eat mice. So I don't like them.

But I like eagles. Because they eat cats. And cats eat mice.

But I don't like the animal that eats eagles.

But I like the animal that eats the animal that eats eagles.

And I? I run straight to the computer and capture it for posterity.



>> Tuesday, August 4, 2009

A week ago, I discovered the blog Chatting at the Sky. The author, Emily, started a little project called Tuesdays Unwrapped. She celebrates the little things wrapped up in the big, or looks at the mess and unwraps the gift hidden inside it. Then she encourages others to do the same and link to her post so readers can click on through and share and read stories that unwrap these hidden gifts. Or as I like to put it, find the clarity amidst the chaos.

Here's what I'm unwrapping today.

He's tired and fussy, and he won't sleep if I set him down. So I strap him into the mei tai for the bazillionith time this week, and I pace; my bare feet treading the familiar path up and down worn wood floors.

I try to sit, but he wails. So I stand up to walk and bounce and pace again.

My throat tightens and I blink hard to quiet the tears. The frustration, my depression; this is too much right now.

I look down at him and he grins up at me with a delicious three-toothed smile. I stick my nose in his mouth -- a simple pleasure I had temporarily forgotten.

The milkbreath. It's seductive, addictive, intoxicating. I'm secretly glad he has shunned the spoonfuls of oats and banana and avocado. The sweet, danky smell of a breastfed baby lingers a little longer.

I lower my face to his and inhale. He laughs with my nose in his mouth.

It's like heaven,
I tell him.

He laughs.

Inhale. Giggle. Like heaven.

I need respite from the constant holding; a physical separation from time to time.

But for the moment, I will see the gift in this mess.

I inhale again and breathe the scent of heaven.

For more of Tuesdays Unwrapped, visit

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Clarity in the Chaos

I'm a realistic optimist who relies on raw honesty and plenty of humor to navigate the boystorm that is my life. I am mother to three and wife to one. These are my stories.

Finding clarity in the chaos since 2009.
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