Thursday, October 30, 2008

my new favorite place

we've had some great talks recently sitting around matt's firepit in our backyard with all different sorts of friends + family. 
it's pretty much great.
come on by...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

bad news bears

stupid highmark blue cross blue shield's building, pittsburg, pa

we just got news that our insurance, highmark blue cross blue shield insurance, is denying little m's surgery on friday. when matt called me tonight to tell me i just broke down sobbing. honestly, i feel like we have handled much of this very hard year pretty well, and this felt like a breaking point. i am so, so tired. despite all of the big decisions and constant appointments, i felt like we kind of got into a rhythm on this marathon of hearing loss. then we got hit with the avalanche of everything with my dad, and emotionally i've felt completely leveled. our family is sort of gathering together, huddling up, and figuring out how to move forward with these gaping emotional wounds. 

but at the same time i was thinking, ok, we have m's surgery so soon! this is a good thing in our world! SIX months is so young to have the surgery but our surgeon made it seem as if everything would go through without a hitch, insurance and all. originally i had thought that there was no way she could get implants until 9 or 12 months, so when the surgeon said 6 months, it was such a shift in expectations. it's one of those things where as soon as we found out 6 months, then everyone we would have appointments with would say, "oh, yes. bilateral surgery at six months is SO much better than at a year..." it kind of felt like when you are dating someone and your friends smile and are polite until after you breakup, upon which they all tell you how they really felt all the time. so, as more and more professionals told us that 6 months was so much better, that is what my expectations became.

and now, a big fat no from the insurance company. i feel deflated and exhausted and beaten down. i want to plead with someone and say, "if this was your baby, and your baby was deaf, and could access sound when it was most important, and in a way that would benefit her for the rest of her life, wouldn't you want that?" we don't get this time back, we can't rewind and get these six months again. this may sound like no big deal, but it is in our world.

i have no problems fighting for this. but i am so tired. and just ready for something to be easy and effortless and battle-free.

and it makes me so mad that if we had the money lying around to pay out of pocket for this surgery, that we would be at her pre-op appointments thursday morning, and in surgery on halloween. that seems so unfair.

little m's world

here is a description of cochlear implants that i saw on another cochlear implant blog that i thought was good:

I'll try to make a visual picture that relates to the way sound is heard by a child with a cochlear implant. Suppose that you have to identify a four-legged animal, and you've not seen that animal before but you have to figure out what it is. 

Maybe you have to draw it. 

Maybe you have to learn the name for it. 

Now that animal is standing in back of a bunch of trees. To see that animal, you have to look through tree trunks that are hiding big parts of that animal. 

Now, if you were looking through those trees with the equivalent of a hearing aid, you could probably only see the tail end of that animal because you could only hear the low frequencies with that hearing aid. With a cochlear implant, though, you can see pieces of that animal's head, pieces of its neck, its legs, its body, pieces of its tail end, but you still are missing pieces in between each of those that you see. 

The reason I'm bringing this up for you to think about is because it's important for us to realize that children who are using cochlear implants still don't see the whole animal. They see more of a range of that animal but they have to use their brains. They have to use what they already know about the world. They have to use their cognitive abilities to fill in those gaps to be able to put together a picture of that whole animal. 

That's the kind of task that a child is facing using a cochlear implant. 

-Dr. Patricia Spencer, Professor, Department of Social Work, Gallaudet University

little m's surgery update

i am supposed to be taking a nap right now while little m naps, but i've been trying for 20 minutes (uh-during which time she just cried and rolled around her crib trying to get my attention; she finally just fell asleep), and my mind is full of too much and is racing around. 

last thursday we went for m's first of three pre-op appointments. as her pediatrician signed off and gave the ok for m to get the surgery, the last thing she said was, "just whatever you do, don't let her get a cold. obviously you can't do anything about it and it's out of your control, so don't worry too much about it, but do your best." we all laughed, thinking how unlikely that would be since m has never even had a cold, and headed down the street to sweet adeline's bakery to get a post-doctors visit treat.

fast forward to yesterday. of course, we all see the end of the story coming: who do you think starts coughing? little m. i mean, are you kidding me? coughing in and of itself doesn't mean much, so i took her temperature today and it is slightly high at 99.5. not good. i sort of wince with every cough, thinking, well - i guess we'll have to postpone it. it isn't the end of the world if she doesn't get her surgery this friday, but emotionally i am just ready to have a bit of certainty in our lives. our insurance hasn't even 100% approved the surgery, and won't until tomorrow, so it just feels like everything has come down to the wire. as usual, little m is oblivious to this and is happy as can be. this morning at her speech therapy she was silly as can be and practically crawling across the room (matt has been coaching her on her crawling technique).

we'll see what happens. for now everything is a big question mark.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

speaking of cafe au lait...

ah, to be sitting at cafe fanny in berkeley right now. so amazing the cafe au lait there is. yum. throw in one of next door neighbor acme bakery's turnovers - either ham and cheese or apple, and you are pretty much in culinary heaven. people, i am not exaggerating; do you live within 50 miles of berkeley? in that case, you really have no excuses & you need to experience the goodness. i should mention that cafe fanny's beignets (pictured) are not so bad either, but really, they are a distant second to turnover fabulousness

yay for my bro

props to my little brother aaron for making partner of the month at starbucks! (here he is in action pimping coffee a la little m)

i tried to convince him to jump ship and relocate at a local peets so that i can stop by for free drinks, but he informed me that peets is for hard core coffee drinkers. he is a self declared not-so-much-coffee-but-sugary-sweet-drink-liker, so he said he wants to stay at starbucks. every day when he's finished with his shift he gets a drink. yesterday's was a flop i guess: i think it was raspberry iced tea lemonade with a shot of melon syrup added. um, i think i could have preemptively said that bizarre flavor combo would be nasty. 

as a side note, there used to be a starbucks very close to an art store that i frequented when i was in grad school, so sometimes my next door studio mate, taylor, and i would stop in to get a hit of caffeine mid-day. once i discovered that their iced coffee costs more than their regular plain coffee, i had to boycott for good. i mean, seriously? i kind of went off on the barista one day, because it makes absolutely no sense to me. he informed me that it is due to the cost of ice. ice? really? as if starbucks isn't making money hand over fist with raspberry iced tea melon drinks? besides, you get less coffee when you get iced coffee, because the ice takes up at least 1/3 of the coffee's space. sigh. 

and side note number two: who does not know that coffee plus steamed milk = cafe au lait? ok, maybe not everyone, bt if you work at a coffee shop, one would think this goes with the territory, no? at starbucks it's a misto though, not a cafe au lait, and so until i realized that a. cafe au lait=misto and b. that i needed to translate my drink desires into starbucksian, it involved a confusing and complicated explanation process at the register. sigh #2.

but aaron, i digress. i am super proud of you and don't worry, you can always give me a free drink and i won't object.

Monday, October 27, 2008

post-phillies rainstorm part 2

here are a few during and post-downpour shots. during the craziest rain moments we were freezing, and huddled tight, trying to keep m as dry as possible. notice bec, sharon, matt, adam, and i are soaking wet, while little m is peaceful as can be, napping away, and mostly on the dry side.

little m is a very faithful fan. here she sports her wet phillies onesie, once safely in the dry car.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

lets go phils!

well, aside from the fact that little m is on schedule to get her bilateral cochlear implants this friday, there are other huge things going on in the world. you may ask- is that even possible?!?

but it's true, as in....the phillies being one game away from winning the world series. maybe i have not lived in philadelphia since i was 12 years old, but i have been born and bred on pennsylvania teams : penn state, phils, sixers, eagles, and flyers. these have always been sacred teams in our household, and it does not matter how poorly the teams have been doing (or even if they've been losing for years in a row), you still always cheer for philly. family rule, no exceptions. 

earlier this summer, matt, little m and i headed back to philadelphia for my cousin eric's wedding. as part of the post-wedding festivities, a bunch of ruffs went to a sunday afternoon phillies game. it all started out well, the key word here being started. we had upper deck seats, and it was suddenly shifting from a typical humid day to super windy and dark. then the wind kicked up a bit more and the thunder and lightning started. you know how you can count "one one thousand, two one thousand, three..." to figure out how close the storm is? well, we couldn't even get to "one one thou-" because somehow we were literally in the center of the storm. most of us headed down the stairs for shelter, while a few die-hards stayed up in the wind, convinced the rain was not coming. soon the rain started falling, and i mean falling like crazy. super hard rain + super strong wind + thousands of people crammed into a tiny space with an overhang on the upper level of the stadium= miserable. i swore i was back in africa with the craziness of the rain! the rain was coming sideways at us the wind was so intense, and we were completely soaked in just minutes. poor little m, smashed into random phillies fans, scared, totally wet. 

at one point when we realized the rain was not going to subside for a very long time and when, in fact, it was just intensifying, matt run-escorted little m and i to the closest women's restroom. as we finally escaped the rain and got inside the bathroom, it was like entering a gauntlet of women - the hallway leading into the actual bathroom was packed solid with women of all ages. of course the second they saw little m, a collective "aaaawww" went up in the crowd, and the wall of women parted so we could get through and into the inside of the bathroom. little m and i hung out there for at least an hour and a half, while the rain continued to batter the wet crowd outside. we made lots of friends in the bathroom (let's be honest, little m's cuteness made friends); not only did i change little m's diaper, but i also changed her clothes, and nursed her standing up. (i felt like quite the flexible and make-the-most-of your-situation-mama.)

in the end, with a three month old baby we gave up and decided to head home instead of waiting for the delayed start. my cousin adam, matt, little m and i ran through multiple parking lots to get to our car- shielding little m, me barefoot on the wet, nasty, post-tailgate asphalt, running as fast as we could. FINALLY. we made it to our happy, dry car, and headed back to the ruff house (stopping to get adam's supposedly-the-best-hoagies, but really just the-closest-to-his-house-hoagies-and-really-not-the-best-after-all on the way home). 

in all, i'd like to say that our presence, albeit in the bathroom, at the phillies game somehow contributed to their glorious season. who knows. but  monday night, when they take home the championship, we will be watching from somewhere that is nice. and dry. 
sans the gauntlet of women, nice as they were. 

(the above images are from moments before the apocalyptic rain storm. see post part two for post-drenched pictures)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

with or without you

this is a video our friend richard passed along to us a couple of years ago. it is such a beautiful rendition of this song - especially as the song comes to a close. there is something so moving about the conductor's expression in the final notes of the song.

for some reason, i started thinking about it today and was in the mood to watch it. 

take a few minutes to enjoy it...hope your weekend is renewing and life giving.

Friday, October 24, 2008

happy birthday aunt robyn!

today is little m's aunt robyn's birthday! robyn lives in mexico city, which is so far away, but we're lucky enough to see her more often than you'd think. i'm so glad that little m has such amazing aunts and uncles: robyn is just one of them. and i am so thankful to have married into matt's family and to know robyn as not just a sister-in-law, but also a friend. 

i remember the first time i made robyn a birthday cake. it was just a couple of weeks after matt and i had married. robyn came over to our place and i made a two-layer cake. i had to leave and run to the store so i left it up to matt to take it out of the oven and frost it. when it came time to cut into the cake, the knife suddenly ran into something and wouldn't cut through to the bottom. the reason why? matt and robyn had taken the cake out of the pan, the parchment paper lining and all, and stacked the halves (including the parchment) and frosted them. we pulled the paper out of the center and off of the bottom of each slice and proceeded to enjoy the (to be honest, kind of dry and not that great) cake.

sending much international love from our spot in the world to yours, ra! here's to a new year with many adventures and lots of good cake (sans parchment)!

the peace of wild things

this morning my aunt fern emma sent me the poem at the end of this post, another one by wendell berry. 

a few years ago, following matt's time at seminary and before i went to grad school for painting, we drove across the country to chester, new jersey. chester is where my aunt fern emma and uncle arthur live, and at the time they were taking care of my grandfather in ohio, so their home was empty. their house is set back from a small, almost country, road, and is surrounded by trees. their backyard is essentially a field. during our stay there we were able to experience some of the stillness of nature that berry expresses in this poem. the deer and their fawns passed through the yard in the evening and early morning, moving slowly and gracefully and pausing the moment they heard a sound or saw movement. it was late fall when we were there, so the fall colors were at first aflame until slowly the trees began to shed their leaves. we would walk along the black river in the afternoon: we saw the work of the beavers on the felled, gnawed tree branches, the ducks as they glided through the water, and the twisted tree roots covering our path intertwined and wearing a fuzzy layer of moss. 

(one sunday as we passed the old mill and wound our way down to the path along the river, we realized that sunday was also a sanctioned hunting day! of course, neither of us was wearing orange, and we heard shots firing in the not so distant distance, so as my mom would say, we high-tailed it out of there!)

aside from hunting days, our season at their home was one of peace, and one in which we were able to rest in the grace of the world.

The Peace of Wild Things

When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

— Wendell Berry

Thursday, October 23, 2008

little m's surgery!

since we hadn't heard anything back from insurance or children's hospital, this morning matt talked with someone from our surgeon's office. she said that little m's cochlear implant surgery is indeed set for NEXT friday, october 31st at 8:30 in the morning. wow. that seems so freaking soon. who would have ever thought that our six month old baby would have surgery to get implants! i remember at the beginning, when we were first talking about implants, we thought she would be somewhere between nine months and a year, and even that seemed so young.

today we go for a pre-op evaluation at our pediatrician, and then next week we have two pre-op appointments on thursday, including one with the anesthesiologist. i am so excited for m - that she will hopefully have access to the hearing world, and that despite all of the hard work these implants will be that she will be able to experience sound! at the same time, as her parents, we think this is also so scary. since they are implanting both her left and right side the surgery will be a bit longer than if they were only implanting one side at a time. i was scared enough in her mri when it went an hour and a half instead of half an hour; i'm sure the 2 1/2 to 5 hour surgery will seem like an eternity! 

here is a one minute video explaining how a cochlear implant works:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

a momentous occasion

my mom is not a fan of potty mouths. 

she has no tolerance for even slightly foul language, and so growing up we never used bad language or swore. i have grown to have a healthy relationship with various words that i never would have dreamed of saying, but that is besides the point. my mom's distaste for certain words includes the words piss and suck (as well as any variation or conjugated form). so, the other day, october 20th to be exact, you can imagine my complete shock (well, in the least my siblings will get this) when my mom walked up to me and said, "life really sucks right now." um. WOW. it is true. life does suck right now, but my mom saying "sucks" (as well as the high five she proceeded to give matt for uttering that word) brought a bit of levity to our house. unfortunately she draws the line at pissed so i will never hear that one cross her lips. all i know is that i am marking october 20 on my calendar as the day cornelia dropped the s- bomb. because in this household, that's exactly what it was- a bomb, probably never to be repeated again.

p.s daphne, i have to give you the credit for getting her to say it in the first place. another reason you should live on this coast and not all the way up in michigan.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

the great meat parade of '08

i love my husband. i think he is kind of hilarious in that he gets some idea in his mind and then he proceeds to do whatever it takes to make said idea happen. 

let me give you an example, with a bit of history first. so throughout college, matt was a vegetarian; his primary reason being that it takes far fewer resources to grow vegetables than meat, so the less meat that is produced and consumed, the more humans on this planet are able to eat. well, one night into living in mexico following college, he was no longer a vegetarian. he essentially had to eat what his hosts fed him, so back to a carnivore he went. now, this did not mean that he abandoned the philosophies that first led him to vegetarianism, but he did embrace the glories of meat wholeheartedly (with a bit of guilt about it now and then. he often says he should return to his veggie lifestyle). these days, he pretty much adores any cut of beef, pork, or poultry, as evidenced by the fact that he enjoyed both rabbit and boar when we were in italy last year. there are so many local and global issues of justice surrounding meat, however, and matt has done a lot of research and put a lot of thought into the world of meat consumption.

despite reading tons of michael pollan and the like, matt is a novice in the world of sustainable meat practices according to the guys from prather ranch, who sell at the farmer's market. nonetheless, he was thrilled when a friend of ours, sylvia, told him that together with her brothers she owned a ranch in livermore where they raise cows. the cows are happy cows as they are grass fed, organic, free range, etc. 

when matt learned that he could buy a quarter of a cow, he was thrilled. not, mind you, because we have some massive freezer lurking somewhere. in fact, we have a pretty crappy fridge with a teeny freezer. he realized, though, that he could likely gather some friends together who would go in on the quarter cow and divvy up the meat. it took a bunch of planning and arranging and emailing, but he managed to get 7 other takers so on sunday matt and his mom headed to the ranch to get our cow! they collected not only the meat, but also a bunch of the ranch's flies wandered into his mom's car too! (i asked, "because of the meat? nasty!" but no, the meat was all frozen; the flies just wanted to visit the big city.)

so matt got home, 116 pounds of meat later. (the quarter of our cow was actually 177 pounds, but then you have to subtract all of the bones) the funniest part of all of this was that then he proceeded to divide up all of the cuts of meat between our friends who had pitched in. now, you get all parts, from the filet mignon to neck bones and short ribs, as well as a lot of ground beef and different roasts. our 22 month old cow, well at least a 1/4 of him, ended up spread all over the floor of our neighbors kitchen. 

my brother aaron and matt developed this complex meat dividing chart with columns delineating the type of meat cut, the weight of each cut and the individual it would go to. it actually reminded me of the process of assigning seating at our wedding reception, because there was a lot of shifting and swapping and "no, that will only work here if that goes there. no wait, that won't work either." you know, you can't just plop people down at a table next to anyone, and you can't just assign random cuts of meat either. in the end, after considering all of the types of meat we had, what type of food each individual or couple typically cooked, and how many total pounds each one received, matt finally had a relatively equal division of beef. it took a few hours, and a lot of switching beef from one person's column to another, but our cow ultimately found its way to 8 different, and hopefully content, freezers.

we'll see how it tastes after all this, but no matter what, i think it was pretty fun for matt to go get his cow off of the ranch with not a single middle man in sight.

today i am

it is the end of the day, and as i sit writing this, end of the day golden light is streaming through the trees in our backyard. it sort of twinkles in the leaves, and makes this moment - these brief minutes before the sun begins to set and darkness descends - feel like a gift somehow. that seems sort of cheesy, and maybe it is, but there is something special about the light at the close of an october day here in the bay area. this time of year the air is crisp enough that you know that autumn is here, but the day has still been warm enough that you sort of forget that a new season is arriving. it all makes things seem very present.

in light of this feeling, and inspired by a blog entry by soule mama, this is what is happening in my world today.

today i am....

feeling - oh so many different emotions simultaneouslysad, empty, exhausted, tender, grateful, weary, anxious... the best way to sum it up?overwhelmed. life has just closed in on our family and it is hard to escape the weight of everything.

listening - to a random mix of sufjan stevens, the national, over the rhine, imogen heap and a healthy dose of songs from the swell season thrown in.

watching - my daughter discover her tongue. matt and aaron tear down the blackberry bush and ivy infestation taking over the backyard garden.

loving - far away friends that feel like next door neighbors, close-by friends that show up when crap happens, and a family that knows how to love each other when it really matters.

drinking - not enough water and too much caffeine.

wondering - what tomorrow will hold.

hoping - to get back into the studio sometime soon?

and now the golden light has faded, and the evening is settling in.
whatever your today has been like, hope you sleep well tonight.

Monday, October 20, 2008

i also heart friends

so, pretty great to have our great friend daphne in town from michigan. as you can see, little m is a fan too.

when i was 12, and we moved from philadelphia to the bay area, i had this brilliant plan to get rid of all of the states between california and pennsylvania. i thought it would work much better for me to keep in touch with friends if those two states were right next to each other and not like 38 states apart. anyway, i'm thinking right now that it wouldn't be so bad if ann arbor and oakland were smack next to each other too. 

points of joy, culinary style

sometimes i am just so thankful that i live in the bay area- land of deliciousness. my amazing friend daphne is in town visiting us and so we've been on a food tour today and yesterday. here are a few points of joy, a la good-places-to-eat in oakland and environs.

1. fenton's creamery. hello- coffee cookie dream? cookies and cream? ccac? (creamy caramel almond crunch) seriously, it is not for the lactose intolerant. 

2. bakesale betty fried chicken sandwich. so worth the 2,000 odd calories. it can turn a vegetarian into a carnivore. or at least a fried-chicken-ovore.

3. carne asada burritos at a. mi pueblo supermarket or at b. taqueria san jose

4. chocolatine croissant or morning bun at la farine. um, so freaking good- layers of buttery goodness! 

5. pizzaiolo. pretty much everything. another reason that oakland is a fabulous place to live is that people just assume that it is ghetto, and so they miss out on great restaurants like this; they head to sf instead for good eats. that just means more goodness for us oaklanders.

6. camino's super delish but admittedly kind of weird combo of mint ice milk with pomegranate seeds. i know- i was skeptical as well, but it is so yummy. sweet and fresh all at the same time.

7. zachary's sausage and mushroom deep dish. i could eat it for days.

8. gregoire's potato puffs. crunchy on the outside + creamy potato-ness on the inside. sigh.

9. over the bridge and into the city of san francisco for a little bit of heaven at tartine: today we had their croque monsieur. SO good. country bread with bechamel, tomatoes, ham, and gruyere. heart attack waiting to happen, yes. but crazy delicious? also yes.

10. our weekly csa box from full belly farm. it's kind of like chose your own adventure cooking. who knows if you'll get potatoes or apples, squash or bok choy. my favorite is going to places like dopo or pizzaiolo whose menus change daily and are shaped by local farms and purveyors and seeing that their entire menu has all of the same ingredients that week as our box!

11. last but not least, my mom's cooking: warm oatmeal bread, lemon meringue pie, pork buns, swedish meatballs, molasses cookies.... so good. and the best thing is, she usually drops the treats off at your doorstep!

how about you? any culinary points of joy in your world?

i heart project runway...

...well, usually. the season finale was last wednesday, and thanks to the glories of you tube i was able to watch it just hours after it aired on bravo. anyway, i have to say that despite my devotion for tim gunn (image above snagged from its creator's blog ), heidi klum (i can't help but think she is adorable. i know people think she's annoying but i kind of love her), and all things project runway, that this season was a total letdown. 

to be fair, i did love korto, her designs, and the fact that she hails from monrovia, liberia. i do love the dramz with kenley, even though i thought she was rude, rude, rudeness. and i did like that the final three were all women, for once. but overall, it just seemed tired...blah...and even the designs seemed not as over the top as in seasons past. where was the craziness of a santino or christian or jeffrey sebelia? (and as i write these names, why are the crazy crazies always male? hmm. interesting.)

in the end, i wish that korto had won. leanne was ok, i suppose, but a bit on the boring side. i also wish i had gotten to see jerrell's entire collection instead of kenley's. 

i know, i doubt any of you reading this even care. 

but the show is still a little addictive, & i am really hoping that the show injects a little somethin' somethin' to spice it up the next time around.

(if anyone else here is an addict, there is a british version you can find on youtube called project catwalk. not as good, although season one with elizabeth hurley in heidi klum's role is on the ok side.)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

great news!

two pieces of super great news!
1. little m's cochlear implant surgery is currently scheduled for october 31st! that means for halloween she'll be dressed as a hospital patient. insurance has not yet given approval, but the surgeon is going ahead assuming they will. yay!

2. yesterday matt, his mom, little m and i met with the head of special ed for oakland. she's in charge of all kids in the district from zero to 22 years old. after a long week i honestly did not have the energy for a fight. we were asking for oakland's early start program to fund little m going down to therapy in redwood city at jean weingarten peninsula oral school for the deaf  instead of having her work with one of oakland's infant deaf teachers. not only did they ok it without a fight (YAY!), but they also approved mileage reimbursement for our drive down and back to the school. i'd like to think it was the fabulous letter i wrote on little m's behalf, outlining all of the reasons they should fund it, but who knows. all i know is it is wonderful news. not that i want to use little m as a pawn or anything, but she was super charming while we were there! matt just held her as she played, grinned, and otherwise distracted-with-cuteness the school district representative.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Prodigal

The brown enormous odor he lived by
was too close, with its breathing and thick hair,
for him to judge. The floor was rotten; the sty
was plastered halfway up with glass-smooth dung.
Light-lashed, self-righteous, above moving snouts,
the pigs' eyes followed him, a cheerful stare--
even to the sow that always ate her young--
till, sickening, he leaned to scratch her head.
But sometimes mornings after drinking bouts
(he hid the pints behind the two-by-fours),
the sunrise glazed the barnyard mud with red
the burning puddles seemed to reassure.
And then he thought he almost might endure
his exile yet another year or more.

But evenings the first star came to warn.
The farmer whom he worked for came at dark
to shut the cows and horses in the barn
beneath their overhanging clouds of hay,
with pitchforks, faint forked lightnings, catching light,
safe and companionable as in the Ark.
The pigs stuck out their little feet and snored.
The lantern--like the sun, going away--
laid on the mud a pacing aureole.
Carrying a bucket along a slimy board,
he felt the bats' uncertain staggering flight,
his shuddering insights, beyond his control,
touching him. But it took him a long time
finally to make up his mind to go home.

Elizabeth Bishop

Thursday, October 16, 2008

thursday, october 16th, 1:30 in the afternoon


Did I believe I had a clear mind?
It was like the water of a river
flowing shallow over the ice. And now
that the rising water has broken
the ice, I see that what I thought
was the light is part of the dark.

-Wendell Berry

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


my brother put some music on my computer yesterday, and i these lyrics struck me:

am i really living
or am i just existing
hiding away

the world is full of danger
but if i never try to go outside
my heart will waste away
-jj heller

i don't know that i feel like i am merely existing right now. on the contrary, i feel pretty alive (for all of life's bumps, bruises and joys). but i have felt this way many times in the past.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

i'm a little succulent

in the last few years, i've sort of become obsessed with the coolness of succulents. i promise i have never stolen them from anyone's yard (although i've been tempted, especially because they can just grow back and you can just plant a torn off succulent and it will grow!) one of the characteristics of succulent plants (& trees) is that they are able to adapt to and flourish in arid climate and soil conditions. they store water in their stems, roots and/or leaves. these little built in water-saving containers gives succulents a more swollen appearance than other plants. (and in my opinion, is what makes them so striking visually.)

i feel like matt and i are kind of in a perfect storm at the moment. we have a lot going on in our collective life, and much of it isn't even due to little m's deafness. of course, the fact that we are making such huge decisions about her surgery, her therapy, and her future right now is a part of it all, but that is only one element of what we are dealing with. in the midst of it all, i honestly feel a bit of hope (even though i have no tangible evidence to base this hope on). 

i kind of feel like a succulent. and i guess i want to feel like that through all sorts of conditions- that i can adapt and survive life's darkest moments with grace, peace, faith, and hope. for a succulent, if the water isn't in the soil or atmosphere, the water is stored internally. i'm not saying it's just digging down into myself that will sustain me; i don't think i personally have the resources to get through things on my own. the water that allows the plant to thrive but it is not an innate part of the plant, but it gives it life and existence. so that's where i'm at today. my circumstances may not be hydrating me, but i have faith that the water is in there, deep down inside.

Monday, October 13, 2008

60 years

a family is complex and ever evolving, perhaps even more so when you have multiple siblings. it often means more drama, but in our case, in addition to more drama (we have plenty of that), it has also meant more love, more adventures, more fun.

today is my dad's 60th birthday. on my own birthday i always think about it as a time to evaluate my life, and to think about the year that has passed as well as the year that stretches, unknown, ahead of me. i often set some time aside to write down a list (the list is long as the years i am old- which gets harder and harder as i age) of goals and hopes for the year. as in any family, there are parts of my relationship with my dad, (and on his part, his relationship with me!) that i wish were different. we have definitely had to work through some hard things together, and will likely continue to in the future. in many ways, i am a lot like my dad, with parts of my mom thrown in, so often i see myself in him. and the parts of our relationship that are frustrating are often connected to those similar traits.

there are some characteristics he has which i hope increase in me by the time i am sixty. my dad is an unfailing optimist; he is incredibly loyal (and is finally getting some rewards for his loyalty to philadelphia sports teams); he is the most gracious person i think i know; he does not hold grudges; he is quick to complement; he is a dreamer; he has big hopes; he believes in people when maybe no one else believes in them; he has great enthusiasm; he is patient; he is a great storyteller. 

happy birthday dad. 

Sunday, October 12, 2008

october 12, 2002

"To Be One With Each Other" by George Eliot

What greater thing is there for two human souls
than to feel that they are joined together to strengthen
each other in all labor, to minister to each other in all sorrow,
to share with each other in all gladness,
to be one with each other in the
silent unspoken memories?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

drumroll please...

{an old school sign for children's hospital oakland...don't worry, their facilities are more up to date}

so, after much deliberation, matt and i have decided to have little m get her cochlear implants at children's hospital oakland. this is a huge decision in our world of hearing loss, and it took a while to decide as there were many pros and cons to both of the programs we looked into. we really super liked everyone at stanford and their program and we actually even preferred one of the implants they use that children's hospital does not (it's the european model and has way better style, but is less used in the u.s. and our surgeon at children's doesn't work with it. leave it to the europeans to be both fashionable and functional! what's new.)

at first, as soon as we said it out loud to each other, i had buyer's remorse and wondered if stanford would have been better. but then we went in for an appointment thursday (yes, we had not one but two appointments there this week), and it just confirmed to me that this was the right decision. i love little m's audiologist. i love her speech therapist. i love that they gave us free loaner hearing aids until her surgery so we didn't have to pay thousands of dollars for a few months of use. i love that it is ten minutes from our house. i love that it is blocks from our pediatrician. i love that there are huge stuffed monkeys hanging from trees in the foyer. i even love that bakesale betty is so close (the most amazing sandwiches. ever.) (ok, that wasn't actually on my list of pros and cons, but now that i think about it, it is totally a pro. while i'm at it, sweet adeline's bakery is also so close and that now bolsters the pros list even more.)

while we were at m's pre-implant speech and language assesment, i met my new hero. adeline mcclatchie, who directed the pediatric audiology department at children's hospital from 1968-1994, and who started their cochlear implant program in 1990! she played with m while i answered umpteen questions for the therapist and she was just amazing with m. in just a few minutes she taught me all of these new ways to interact with little m to communicate with her effectively. honestly, i want her to move next door and be my personal tutor for all things developmental. m loved her too, and as usual, charmed her way through the session as she cooed, played, and rolled around on the floor.

we also found out that if our insurance approves it, m's cochlear implant surgery will be SO soon! either october 31st (yes, as in 20 days from now) or november 7th. wow. surreal, exciting, scary, all rolled into one. that means she will still be 6 months when she gets it- isn't that crazy? i will say that it is all becoming more real, and after her mri this week it remains frightening to think of doctor's opening up my baby's head. wow. so many emotions....

but for now, at least we have a decision as to where her surgery and followup will be, and as much as it is a cliche, we are taking one day at a time around this house!

Friday, October 10, 2008

points of joy friday style

happy friday from little m, here with her great grandma, who we went to visit last week in fresno!
some points of joy to start off your morning...
  • the gurgly cooing sounds of m in her crib every morning, as she plays with her toys (she can now throw her pacifier across the room- which makes ehr quite proud of herself, until she gets pissed that she no longer has her pacifier
  • matt coming home from chicago after one very long week of appointments!
  • the beginning of the season apples in our csa box
  • rediscovering that i love the song "fake empire" by the national.
  • chocolate creme pie from sweet adeline's
  • sunshine & a walk around lake merritt
  • this week's episode of project runway. um, since we have no tv in our house, i love you tube & they feed my media need
  • sleeping in (kind of) this morning under my cozy down comforter!
how about you? any points of joy??? 
{big huge announcement (and no, it's not that we're having another baby or buying a house) coming at you in a post later today!}

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

sending love...

and congratulations to my dear friend kimiko (& her husband garrett) who just had her first child, a beautiful little girl named yael!

kimiko and i, as eldest siblings, wreaked great havoc on our younger siblings i'm sure. ok, i'm positive, because my somehow unappreciative siblings remind me of what a pain it was to have me as the big sister. (i think deep down inside they are a teensy bit grateful.) kimiko and i have been kindred spirits over many years and through many situations (especially regarding boys, family issues and growing up in church), and for all of our complaining and bemoaning the fact that to be the oldest child was a burden, i think we both kind of liked it. in fact, both kimiko and i told each other when we were pregnant that we kind of wanted girls because they were the best to have as an eldest child because they could help out so much and be responsible. (the exact part of being the oldest child that we've complained about in the past- it's come back to be an asset?)  i think it is quite comical that we both ended up with daughters as our firstborn children, and within 6 months of each other! 

hopefully little m and yael will be as "endearing" a mixture of bossy, supportive, blunt, loving, opinionated, cuddly, motherly and stubborn as kimiko and i were (and are) to our younger siblings. 

carpooling queen

props to my girl m, who spends most of her life driving to appointments. she's quite the flexible one these days, after "singing" to us at all hours with her screams the first few months of her life. today she went to school for therapy and aunt rebecca came along for the ride, so our social m played during the hour drive (each way) instead of sleeping. 

tag, you're it

this week i got tagged by not one, but two people in a blog game. (that would be via monte and three bay b chicks

since i am super-sucko at the real game of tag because somehow the gifts of athleticism were all dropped on my brother with none left over for me, i thought maybe i'd be better at blog tag? 

here are the rules (well, they sent me slightly different rules so i'm going with the easier ones :)): to the person who tagged you
2.mention the rules of your blog
3.list 6 unspectacular things about you
4.tag 6 other bloggers by linking to them

i will say it makes it hard that some of the blogs i follow are password protected! sigh, alas, no fun for them.
6 unspectacular/random things:
1. i abhor bananas. really. (don't try to tell me that they taste ok in banana bread, or that you really can't taste it in a smoothie. um, you don't & you can.)
2. i am the oldest of 4 kids and we are all two years apart, and were born in order tuesday, wednesday, thursday, friday.
3. one of my worst traits is that i am an awful phone call returner. awful, horrible, super pitiful. (i am trying to work on it, i promise)
4. i have always loved celebrity trash. (when i was little i was all about princess diana, who, if you think about it is kind f one of the ones who sparked the crazy paparazzi-ness that now gives me celebrity trash) i feel guilty, and it does absolutely nothing to improve me as a person, but i still read it.
5. i read magazines from back to front and i always look at the last page of the book i'm reading before i start.
6. i act like such a foodie, but i don't like the chai at indian restaurants but i do like the fake, sweet chai at starbucks.

here are a few blogs i follow....

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

{a long day}

{here is someone a bit groggy and very roll-y after her anesthesia today}

it was a long morning and afternoon at children's hospital. m was amazing- so patient and agreeable, despite being ravenous and exhausted. we sat in the waiting room for such a long time; i started to get increasingly nervous as more and more time passed. finally a nurse came out and said all was well. by the time we finally got in to see her, she looked so tiny laying on the bed, still out from the anesthesia with the mask still on her face and the iv still in. as she slowly awoke, our feisty one came back strong as ever- she pulled the mask off of her face and began flailing about to pull the blankets off. her eyes still looked so dazed and out of it, but her personality was coming back. it was hard to see her so small, dressed in teeny blue hospital pj's, looking so out of it. she did so well and was so brave, and now she is a little out of it and fussy, but fine.

but honestly, i am also extremely grateful. it's so easy to compare your situation to the best case scenario in life, don't you think? most of the time when i get sad about m not being able to hear it is because someone has made a comment about singing to their child, or i see a baby turn at the sound of its name, etc. it is always an instance when i compare m to a child who can hear, and never to a family who may be having harder things going on than ours. inevitably it is not a healthy or wise practice to compare whether someone is better or worse off than you. does it help anything? no. does it make us more gracious people? uh, no. or give you a better attitude? no.

as my mom and i sat in the waiting room i saw so many children and families in such difficult situations: a newborn from the icu who had just had an mri, a little girl with kidney problems, a boy who was pre-verbal and unable to walk, and on and on. it is pretty sad to sit in a children's hospital for more than ten minutes. as all of these families come in and out of appointments you get glimpses into their worlds and into how much they are carrying as they raise children with special needs. it made me think about how healthy and happy m is. yes, she is deaf, but i am so thankful...for living so close to a pediatric hospital, for insurance, and for having the support of family and friends. 

this will be a long road, but i am so freaking grateful for our daughter. i'm also so amazed by the men and women who work in pediatric hospitals; everyone we interacted with today was so kind, gentle, and encouraging. and i have such respect for the many parents who love their kids in the most difficult situations, and who have to lug their child from one doctor's appointment to the next. it was humbling.

our big girl

i think little m looks so grown up here. sometimes i feel sad that she has to go through so many procedures that i've never even had to go through. this morning we take her to get an mri at children's- just one more thing on the road to getting implants. they called just yesterday to make the appointment - very last minute they had a cancellation. my mom is coming with me since matt is out of town for the week. i always get scared seeing her go into these big machines or getting assessed, so my belly is doing little flips this morning. the anesthesia will be fine, i'm sure; it's just a bit scary. m is happy as can be of course, oblivious to what the day holds as she plays happily with her grandma. 

Monday, October 6, 2008

little miracles in the world of hearing loss

little m's hearing aids are a constant battle. i'm sure you can imagine the joys of wrestling a teeny tiny hearing aid onto both the back and inside of baby ears. we have a wonderfully feisty baby (as i write this, she is screaming herself to sleep for a much needed morning nap), but that means the hearing aids do not go on without a fight. she recently discovered the power of her hands to grab them and pull, so she's now able to remove them, even though they are stuck onto the backs of her ears with wig tape. once they are actually on and she hasn't yanked them off, they feedback with a super high pitched tone every time she leans against something or moves in a way that they get jostled out of her ear canal. this happens constantly. 

i think it would be less frustrating to deal with them if we actually noticed a difference. people always ask us if we think she can hear us when they are on, and we always have to say no. at the beginning when we first got them, we'd make loud noises behind her to try and test them out and then since she did nothing in response, we stopped; too discouraging. the doctors have told us that it is highly unlikely that she is getting much sound at all from the hearing aids since her hearing loss is so profound, so there is a part of me that says, "what's the point?" at the same time, i know that there is value in putting them in, even if it is a pain and seems to do nothing. in the very least, they are hopefully stimulating that part of her brain so that it is getting some action and not atrophying. and i do hope that maybe little spots of noise are getting to her; i feel like it is selfish for me not to put them in, even as frustrating as it can be, when they may give her even a little sound. 

that brings me to this morning's little miracle. sometimes i try to put little m's hearing aids in when she is nursing, because she is happy and distracted, and won't try to move too much when i am adjusting them. as i put on her second hearing aid this morning, i sang her name to her (we try to reward her with sound as soon as we put them in so there is instant gratification and something positive for all of the poking and prodding we have to do to her). as soon as i sang, "M", she stopped, turned from nursing, and looked up at me with a smile. i couldn't help it, i was so surprised that i started crying. 

who knows, maybe it was a fluke that she turned right then. or maybe she heard my voice. i'll never know, but it was a gift to me. and hopefully, a gift to her too.