wafers and things

wafers

+ I’m very refreshed from my vacation. I didn’t make dinner for two weeks! Thank you, Mom. And I hired a babysitter for three hours a week.

+I keep listening to this coffee song by Sylvan Esso. Reminds me of the first time I ever heard Feist, way back when.

+ I’m experiencing a Necco revival. Oddly satisfying with their dusty minty flavor.

+ Conde Nast Traveler has gotten so good since Pilar Guzman took over the editorship. I love paging through it each month. Totally worth the $12 subscription fee. Though opt-out of that crappy travel bag that comes with a subscription, if you can!

+ While on vacation in Michigan I was able to do some freelance copywriting. I’m going to spend most of that money on a case of interesting white wines to savor and enjoy in this muggy heat. One hobby supporting another hobby is my ideal scenario!

+ I used an amazon affiliate link for the first time when I wrote about that water pitcher we like so much. And I gotta say, it was very satisfying to see that 31 people bought it. Influence! People like my advice! Water pitchers in every kitchen across the nation!

 

 

Longest Shortest Time, continues

radio

I gave money to the kickstarter of the  Longest Shortest Time podcast awhile back, but I did not expect her forthcoming episodes to be so, so good. Rewriting your birth story? So important, so powerful. The one about a late term, stillborn birth? Possibly the most beautiful thing I’ve ever heard over headphones. I was weeping, obviously, but I’ve thought of that episode every time someone has mentioned a death to me since. It changed the way I thought about mourning. The one about how to talk to other moms without boasting? Kindly discusses a difficulty I brush up against every time I hang out with other moms. INTERVIEWS INA MAE AND COMPLAINS?? Amazing. Did not know that was possible in this life.

This is very cool stuff happening over there, in 30 minute increments. Well worth your time.

the water pitcher

water_pitcher_1

I’ve been experimenting with some Montessori things around the house. When I say Montessori, I mean keeping items that let Lux care for herself without asking for help. I have long practiced the belief that child-appropriate-things will just materialize in my life at the necessary time, and I’ve often leaned away from buying things outright. However, three years into this, I’ve finally realized that some useful things must be sought out and purchased. And if you can manage to get them immediately after you conclude that your child would enjoy them, they turn out to be the most satisfying for both of you.

Some of these Montessori-type things have really been a hit and some have just been so-so, and I’ll try to document them as we try them out. Anything I post here would be familiar to someone in the Montessori world; I don’t mean to pretend that I’ve discovered any of these nice ideas!

water_pitcher_2

First up: a hit. A 16oz glass pitcher, of satisfying weight, with a tight-fitting plastic top. I ordered one, and one day later, we concluded we needed two. One to sit on the table filled with water, waiting for a thirsty customer. Another filled with milk, sitting on an accessible shelf in the fridge, waiting for a starving toddler in the morning who has cereal and a bowl, but no milk.

The first night the pitcher arrived, I put it on the table with some glasses and Lux spent most of the meal asking us if we would like some more water and then solemnly pouring us half-glasses full. Joe and I were tossing water back just to keep up with our eager waiter. I felt she was 2x as engaged as usual and I had the aha moment-–time at the table for Lux is often an endless succession of requesting things then and waiting for her request to be filled. It was a treat to have her focused on what was happening and reversing the constant “I need” refrain.

Six years

six

Six year anniversary for us this weekend! It’s much more satisfying to look back on a marriage and see how far you’ve come than to look back on oneself, and wonder why you were so annoying. I get a little flustered looking back at old me–gosh she was whiny! But looking back on our early marriage years well, things have come along way. I’ve always wondered if a marriage might end because people forget what it’s like to do things by all yourself–get an unexpected bill in the mail by yourself, arrive at a new airport when all the taxis are gone, by yourself. I don’t take those things for granted and I never mean to, but I can read this article about masters of marriage and know in a split second what he means by “little bids for one another’s attention.” They happen all day long and it’s easy to decide you’ll catch up later and explain yourself. Nope. It’s a challenge for me now and I imagine it will be challenge next year too; I know what I’m up against.

We only have one tradition and it’s a bottle of Veuve. :  ) Easy, delicious, and no guess-work about reservations or the right gift. We caught the golden hour last night after lumping the girls into bed like quick-scrambled eggs and scooting up to the roof.tradition

white flag

The muchy muchness of two knocked me totally on my back last week. I could not seem to refresh, no matter what I did. Conversation at the playground usually does it. Or sunshine. Maybe a podcast and a pastry treat on the way home. But not last week. Their needs seemed to be growing like basil on the windowsill—long, droopy tendrils reaching out to brush you, desperate for water every time I looked over. Joan is wrapped around my ankle as much as she can be. She’s having a tough month, and it means crying, lots of it. My shoulders would tighten in anticipation of her frustrated outbursts that seemed at random–in the stroller, on the ground, in the carrier, in the highchair, feeding, not feeding, napping, not napping.

She is weaning too, so the oxytocin I’ve been running on is easing its foot off the gas pedal and I’m putt putt putting down the road, gravel kicking up underneath. I’m craving chocolate, pasta, cheese, watermelon, pretzels. Constantly hungry but never appetized. Hormones, yes, and flavors too, rushing in to fill the empty tank.

I only ever bought one bottle. Plastic, BPA-free naturally. Used it for Lux, and Joan. A token bottle of formula, every week or so, for an evening out or to sooth a long car ride–wonderful. I’m indebted to that formula. It was a tough month or two with Joan back when she refused formula because I never felt confident leaving her for more than a couple hours. By the way, where were you the day BPA-free died? I was sitting in the park, chatting with a friend, who mentioned in a ohdidyouhear voice that BPA-free had been found to be worse than BPA itself. We have few confidences as modern parents, and that was one silly one that felt good to get right.

All my posts here should be headed with an italicized caveat of this is how I feel this week ONLY. Like that post about getting things done with two–it’s still true. But this is the flipside, and the flipside just flipped, with a vengeance. I do not have this figured out. I do not know the secret. I don’t know how to write an email when my children are talking to me. I don’t know how to talk on the phone when they are in the room. I don’t know what to do when I have no family nearby and all my friends are as equally and wonderfully yoked as I, and I am so. tired.

I think it was Tuesday when I told Joe I’d rather have an empty savings account than feel the way I do, and asked if I could get some help. How did I feel? Mean, angry, crazy. On the outside was one mom who could calmly handle cleaning peanut butter off the floor for the fifth time while one fussed in my ear like a buzzing fly and one jumped on and off my back. But on the inside was a bird about to fly the coop, for good. The bird was the trouble because the bird is a very real part of me that needs some time to shimmer in the sun.  A couple hours to flick drops of water back onto my feathers and pick among the bushes for a red berry.

So bring on the avalanche of applications for the job from sweet, educated, athletic, thoughtful women. I’ve read almost twenty so far and I can tell you, this voting group is doing well. Thriving. There are lots of them. I can see in an instant that my girls’ lives would be enriched by hanging out with any of them, and yet deep in my heart, I am skeptical. It sounds a tad hypocritical doesn’t it? To self-identify as feeling crazy and hassled, and yet to believe that no one else can be trusted with your children.

I have a friend who gets a lot of help. So I asked her, it must take a lot scheduling to figure all that out? She shrugged. “It just takes a lot of ‘That isn’t how I would have done it, but oh well, it’s getting done.’” Ahhhh my handicap. Why I never would have made management, had I aspired. No one else will know how to handle a toddler, a stroller, a diaper bag, and a city street corner. No one can listen carefully to Lux and respond with the right mix of affirmation and information. No one else will remember to replace “good job!” with “look at all those things you did!” ….You see what I mean about the silly things it feels good to get right. Right by your definition, and important pretty much only to you. The girls would do well with a little of the un-devoted no-nonsense I see doled out on the playground by nannies.

What is that magic number of hours? Three hours a week? Six maybe? That’s what I’m hoping. Honestly all I want is enough time to walk away so I can enjoy walking back to them. And yes, I admit, enough time to write down a few sentences so I can remember all this at some future date that I’ve been promised will exist.

 

 

21/52

21_LuxLux: Somehow whenever we’re supposed to be getting dressed, we’re jumping on the bed instead.

21_JoanJoan: determined to walk and won’t stop begging for a hand to hold until she can do it herself.

Second photo by my cousin Molly, taken at my grandparents’ farm. Thanks Molly!