Friday, January 30, 2009

row, row, row

{here we are rowing a boat in the middle of a park in rome last fall.} 
{i appear to be so purposeful and knowledgeable in this photo, but i actually took us in circles for a good twenty minutes until matt ever so kindly obliged and took over the oars. the kids in the boat nearby did a better job of navigating the choppy manmade lake than i, a grown woman, did. pitiful.}
{i am headed for the rocks...}
today in little m's therapy session we sang row, row, row your boat to her after she ever-so-deftly figured out how to scoop a little toy boat out of a box with a lid on it. of course, her instant response was to stick the boat in her mouth and eat it, as she does with all things that she gets into her little pitty paws. so, she snacked on the plastic boat and we serenaded her. i'm sure the three of us (matt, her therapist and i) looked ridiculous, all sitting inches from her, smiling and singing row, row, your boat as she sat staring back at us, totally unphased, noshing on the boat. 

sharon, her therapist, was singing enthusiastically and making the rowing motion, and matt and i were supposed to join in. i sort of started singing and attempted to make the rowing motion, but all of a sudden i was thinking- i am such a faker! 

who am i to be singing about rowing a boat? 

let me tell you what i do when given oars of any sort and a boat: actually, i don't even know what i do, but whatever it is, it doesn't work. i row in circles, or backwards, or into the side of whatever body of water i am attempting to move through. 

all i know is that in 1995, when i was working at a summer camp, i somehow mistakenly got assigned to "teach" three activities over the course of the summer that i should never have been even allowed to visit, much less be in charge of:
  • soccer. hello, i made one of the kids be the referee of the game, because i know none of the rules. i didn't even know how many people should be on each team. i just turned it into a world cup championship and got away with it by singing a lot of soccer songs. (sorry, husband. i know this lack of knowledge must be appalling to you when soccer ability courses through your veins)
  • the BB gun range. um, considering the fact that only 4 years before, my younger brother had been shot in the head with a BB gun and almost died, this was not the ideal place for me. oh, and that i didn't know the first thing about teaching how to shoot a BB gun, much less want to shoot a BB gun. (they let me switch out of this activity, good thing. those poor kids would've been pretty disappointed if i had been their counselor for that activity. i think we would've just drawn pictures on those cool paper targets instead.)
  • boating. i swear the kids did better at rowing than i did. so maybe a lot of the boats ended up stuck along the bank throughout the week. so maybe one of the other counselors ended up giving the campers pointers instead of me. it's about the journey, not the destination, right?
anyway, my sheer mediocrity at steering watercraft came rushing back at me this morning as i flailed my arms and sang the song to my sweet little girl. good thing i can draw her pictures of boats. and sing about them. who needs to actually row a boat? not me. 

happy friday!

it's a beautiful friday here in the bay area, and after spending way too much of it in the car and at little m appointments, i'm going to enjoy the rest of the daylight instead of posting anything.

hope you have a lovely friday, whether you are bundled up from the cold, or enjoying a sunny warm california day.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

hello, supercute. nice to meet you.

{i love these blocks from petitflaneur's shop on etsy. i think they are adorable. 
look how they rotate to become a little town. }
{save your pennies little m! save them up!}

a few of my favorite things

{french press coffee in the morning, made for me by matt- 
i believe it tastes better if you don't make it yourself}
{my christmas present from matt of a black hobo wallet; 
it's a clutch, it's a wallet, it makes me feel organized, it holds so much, including lip gloss 
(i LOVE it! thanks, daphne, for introducing me to its' fabulousness)}

{bare feet in january}

{this awesome hand-me-down outfit, worn by little m, from circa 1985}

{playing on the floor with little m}

{the smell of oil paint}

{these haba wood blocks that little m loves...thanks tuan, casey + jonah!}

{matt reading to little m}

{my current favorite breakfast: plain yogurt with blueberries. yum!}

{winter veggies. here are some of the vegetables from full belly's csa box. daikon, anyone?}

for like ever?

...or maybe not.

last night on two of my favorite blogs, oh happy day and a cup of jo, i discovered that my very favorite magazine, domino, is closing. next month's issue will be its last. 

so. sad. 

even though i am married to mr. all-things-minimal, who prefers mid-century-plain, i loved all of the great ideas packed into domino every month. sigh. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

happy to be in the studio

i've finally gotten back into going to the studio on a regular basis. ah, makes me happy. it's sort of the epitome of good but hard, and if you are an artist, or at least an artist who struggles through the process of making things, you know what i mean. 

been thinking about these two painters, and love these thoughts about painting:

Images also help me find and realise ideas. I look at hundreds of very different, contrasting images and I pinch details from them, rather like people who eat from other people’s plates.
-- Francis Bacon

I do hope I play out the contradictions that I feel, all the anxieties and dilemmas. If they're there in the work, then that's brilliant.
-- Jenny Saville

little miss fancypants

last week we took little m for another checkup at her pediatrician. there's this part of every appointment when the doctor asks, "is she rolling over? is she scaling large buildings?" and so on. well, she asked a bunch of developmental things, including questions about sounds she is making or responding to. that's always super fun. but she also asked, "is m pulling herself up to sit from the crawling position? is she pulling herself to stand?" first, i always feel like i am a negligent parent as i wrack my brain trying to remember, "is she? does she? i forgot to notice that one..." i didn't think she had done either, so we said no on both accounts: no pulling herself up to sit or stand.

imagine our surprise when later that day i watched her finagle herself from flat on the ground into sitting straight up! (shows you what an attentive mother i am.) 

we were in for surprise number two when we peeked in our little scallywag while she was "taking a nap" a couple of days later. instead we saw her holding onto her mobile for balance with one arm, while playing with one of the dangling toys with the other hand. we pulled her out of the crib and promptly lowered the mattress and removed the mobile...not that it's stopped her from repeating her new trick every time we put her down. next thing i figure she'll be hoisting herself over the side, rapelling down the crib, and sauntering into our room.


this is the view from little m's changing table. 

it's what i look out at in the early morning, when little m is up and ready to play, and i am wishing for an hour more of rest. even though i'd rather sleep in (matt can attest to that), there is something very peaceful about waking up as the day is becoming, and the sky is growing lighter and lighter.

ever since i was a little girl i've loved to see the dark outline of trees against the dawn or evening sky. in the distance i can see the bay, and somewhat less beautiful, the bart train carrying people to work. as the train goes rushing by, i can hear it faintly, and it stands as a reminder that even though it would be nice to crawl under my covers and head back to sleep, that i am happy sitting on the floor, playing with blocks and puzzles as this new morning begins.

Monday, January 26, 2009


one of the things matt and i have heard many, many times since little m's deafness was diagnosed is some variation of, "she is so lucky to have you as parents" or "you are the perfect people to be her parents. (ie the parents of a child with hearing loss or a disability of some sort)" it's one of those comments that i've found is kind of funny. ok, not really funny-ha-ha, more like funny-weird-and-annoying. i know that it is intended as a compliment, and is a way for people to encourage matt and i that we will love her well and embrace her with joy despite her hearing loss. (and so don't feel bad if you've said this to us.)'s funny to me because, wouldn't any parent love their child no matter what their child's physical and mental abilities? yes, i am sure there are exceptions, but there is nothing special about us in that respect - we are just loving our daughter as any good parent would. and a little bit, as the recipient of this comment it feels like someone is either saying, "i wouldn't be able to handle it, but you're the type of people who can" or "little m has hearing loss because you and matt have the capacity to handle a child with hearing loss." i know that isn't what people mean by saying she's lucky to have us as her momma and papa...

i don't quite know how to articulate what about that statement makes me squirm awkwardly, but it hits me someplace wrong inside every time. it ends up feeling like a backhanded compliment that i don't really know how to respond to.

until now.
i've thought about it for a while: she's not the lucky one, we are the lucky ones. little m is a gift that brings such joy and life to matt and i. sure, i grieve that she can't hear my voice saying "i love you" on a daily basis. but she gives me so much more than i give her.

i am so lucky. 
filled to the brim with gratitude that she is in my family.

(p.s. i should add that the last 9 months have been a constant reminder that i, myself, utter well meaning words all the freaking time that probably annoy, offend, or do absolutely nothing helpful to the person with whom i am speaking. so more than anything, i am learning to look at myself and my words...and trying to speak fewer, more carefully chosen ones.)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

breaking hearts

how is little m already getting the moves put on her? who knows, but looks like her friend eli is doing his best to woo her. i like the sly arm around her and the flirty eyes. um, is it just me or is my daughter moving a little fast- she's only 9 months old!? we may need to have a little talk...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

busy busy

(supercute valentine #1 by me)

(and supercute valentine #2: this one has microglitter on it, so when the one you love opens it and inadvertently gets glitter on her cheek, or on the couch, or smack dab in the middle of her nose, then she'll keep thinking of you fondly every time she sees that dang glitter and tries unsuccessfully to wipe it off aforementioned surface. the sentiment will go on and on. promise. that's love, people. love that keeps on showing up when you least expect it! )

this week, in between umpteen hearing loss related appointments, i am working on some mother's day and father's day cards for papyrus. (i always think those are the hardest holidays to make good cards for, so wish me luck!) too busy to do much else, so i'll be back to blogging in a few days. so, more from me sometime this weekend!

and let this serve as a friendly reminder to go buy one of my valentine's day cards! (or birthday, or thank you, or friend...) here are just two cute ones valentines of the ones floating out stop reading this and as my mom would say, hightail it to wherever papyrus cards are sold or at independent retailers nationwide + buy someone you like a lil' loving.

xoxo, me

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


my daughter is brilliant. just look at how intently she is working on the puzzle she got for christmas. brilliant i tell you. 

and, adorable. (in case that wasn't completely evident by the above photos. i know i'm biased, but really. freaking adorableness stuffed into a 15 pound container!) 

today we had to go to a couple of appointments on the long road to her cochlear implants. it was a new office for us to go to, so little m had a whole bunch of willing converts to her school of ridiculously cuteness. i swear she charmed her way from one person to the next, smiling, flirting, waving, accepting stickers and toys and hugs from complete strangers! who knew our child would be such a social butterfly? i don't know where she gets it...

happy inauguration day!

"praise song for the day" by elizabeth alexander

Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others’ eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. 

All about us is noise. 
All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, 
repairing the things in need of repair.

Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

A woman and her son wait for the bus.

A farmer consider the changing sky; A teacher says, “Take out your pencils. Begin.”

We encounter each other in words, Words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; 
Words to consider, reconsider.

We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, “I need to see what’s on the other side; I know there’s something better down the road.”

We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

Say it plain, that many have died for this day. 
Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. 
Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

Some live by “Love thy neighbor as thy self.”

Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. 
Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.

Monday, January 19, 2009

mine eyes have seen the glory

this speech was mlk's last as he was assassinated the next day. powerful words:

mlk jr.

today marks the celebration of the birthday of martin luther king jr., a man who was certainly flawed, but who also sought racial, social, and economic justice and equality with such passion and commitment that his life was taken. mlk jr. was a preacher who followed and lived by the teachings of jesus, just as i try to do. some of those teachings seem easy enough, "do unto others as they do unto you", while others challenge our individual lives and existing social structures on a fundamental level.
there are a lot of speeches that king gave that make me tear up or feel warm and fuzzy with hope. this following excerpt, however, is a little bit tougher to hear, as it pushes me to think of ways that we continue to need rebirth and structural change if we really want to achieve king's vision of social, racial, and economic equality. i don't have any answers. to be honest, true change in our country and even in my neighborhood just seems overwhelming and impossible. there has been change, but huge issues of inequality still exist; all i have to do i walk down my street, by the check cashing spot down the way, or past my local school, to be reminded of these inequalities. but i hope that we are moving in that direction, with hope, resolution, faith, and vision.

a few of king's words:

"And if you will let me be a preacher just a little bit. One day [applause], one night, a juror came to Jesus and he wanted to know what he could do to be saved. Jesus didn’t get bogged down on the kind of isolated approach of what you shouldn’t do. Jesus didn’t say, “Now Nicodemus, you must stop lying.” He didn’t say, “Nicodemus, now you must not commit adultery.” He didn’t say, “Now Nicodemus, you must stop cheating if you are doing that.” He didn’t say, “Nicodemus, you must stop drinking liquor if you are doing that excessively.” He said something altogether different, because Jesus realized something basic: that if a man will lie, he will steal. And if a man will steal, he will kill. So instead of just getting bogged down on one thing, Jesus looked at him and said, “Nicodemus, you must be born again.”

In other words, “Your whole structure must be changed.” A nation that will keep people in slavery for 244 years will “thingify” them and make them things. And therefore, they will exploit them and poor people generally economically. And a nation that will exploit economically will have to have foreign investments and everything else, and it will have to use its military might to protect them. All of these problems are tied together.

What I’m saying today is that we must go from this convention and say, “America, you must be born again!”…."

may we have the courage to keep looking at the flaws in our society's structure as well as the courage to address them.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


i want a koi pond in my backyard.

just saying...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

january 14, 1975

34 years ago today my mom gave birth to me in very cold northern maine. it was early in the morning, and 20 degrees below zero when i made my way into the world. (is that why i don't like being cold or anything associated with the morning?) 

every year on my birth day i think about how really it should be my mom getting the special kudos and presents, and now that i've been in labor and had my own firstborn, i realize just how painful childbirth really is! (especially no drugs childbirth, which is what my mom rocked with all four of her kiddos) 

so happy birthday to me, but really, a huge amount of gratitude to my mom, who labored through the night to give birth to me all those years ago, and who has been putting up with my antics ever since. you are a patient, kind, and gracious mother, who has sacrificed a great deal of your own preferences and desires for your children. thank you. treat yourself to some sugary cakiness...

and also, a very special birth/labor day dose of love to my friend hope, who gave birth to her first baby, a little girl, today! such a joy to share in your daughter's birthday. (as an eldest daughter myself, i have a special place in my heart for baby #1 coming out as a girl. my younger siblings may say otherwise...)


We interrupt this blog for an important announcement:

TODAY IS SUSANNAH ELOYSE’s BIRTHDAY and we have commandeered her blog for official birthday business. As the founding members of the Susannah Eloyse fan club (started back when she was Siouxzie Ruff wearing flannel shirts, collecting Eeyore figurines and playing MASH in Human Development classes to figure out her future husband), we have broken into this blog to let the world know how much we love our birthday girl. After watching her honor so many others on their birthday, we decided it was our turn to honor her! And in the spirit of Susannah, we are starting our own list of reasons why we love Sooz:

1. she writes a witty blog that we read daily (what a great writer and voice for our generation)
2. she is an incredibly loving and attentive mother to monrovia and has done an amazing job of learning everything she can to help her daughter grow. (from wig tape to constant eye contact and conversations, monrovia is a brilliant 9 month old)
3. she is a wonderful lover to her husband (and has taught him the art of snuggle-heehee)
4. she is a intentional and compassionate friend (holla if you’ve gotten a card in the mail or flowers on your doorstep or an encouraging text)
5. she is a talented artist...getting a masters in art, along with grants and awards and special shows to recognize her gifts. The art she makes is thought provoking, beautiful and appropriately priced (buy one today!)
6. she is devoted to her family and makes them a priority each day in her life
7. she can sing, she can dance, she can cook (she’s taken boys) but what a list of talents this woman has!
8. she is the information superhighway. Sooz always seems to be on the cusp of discovering the new technology thru her internet research, reading or connections (she knows everything)
9. she loves to keep learning. from books, to magazines to music to recipes, sooz is constantly challenging herself to learn new things. (want to know why brangelina snubbed ryan seacrest at the golden globes? ask sooz...okay she’s way smarter than those details but we couldn’t resist)
10. she seeks Truth...not just believing what she was told as a child, but finding for herself the meaning of life and how to live life to the fullest.
11. in a world where people need to laugh, sooz is funny. witty, creative and definitely funny. (she’s the rally queen behind many a photo shoot with random props at a hospital or new years eve party)
12. she has a great sense of style! a funky fun dresser who now shares her love of fashion to little m (and one day they’ll share clothes like we did at benevides!)

so these are just the start of the reasons we celebrate Susannah today!
We want you to join us in the celebration! Please add your ‘I Love You’s” to the comment section below for a great birthday blog!

We now return to our regularly scheduled blog entry...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

the year of living generously

i've mentioned many times how hard this last year has been. in some ways, the grief that we experience with little m not being able to hear has been trumped by the major family changes we are experiencing, and have been rocked by, in the past three months. i don't need to go into details since this is essentially a public forum, and i don't think it's fair for me to talk smack about my dad on here, even if he deserves it. 

i am used to living in earthquake country: the house we live on basically sits on a huge fault-line, and i hardly give it a second thought. of course, even if i am not thinking about it on a conscious level, these faults are still there, lying dormant under my day to day routine. the times these fault-lines have shifted even slightly has, to be honest, freaked me out. i don't like earthquakes. i have been known to jump under a table in a teeny little 4.0 earthquake. (hey, maybe that is just the first one, and another bigger one is to follow...)

most likely there will be a significant earthquake in the bay area in my lifetime - and it will have devastating effects. i kind of feel like my family has been in a massive earthquake. we didn't really realize that there were fault-lines crisscrossing our family, but that didn't change the fact that complete upheaval was brewing right below the surface; it also didn't change how much my siblings, my mom, and countless other friends and family members lives have been inalterably changed by the emotional "earthquake" that hit us a few months ago. (to be honest, it still feels like there are aftershocks on a daily basis.)

you know how every time there is a natural disaster these different people rise to the surface as heroes who save the kid stuck in the house, brave the elements to rescue a stranded family and so on? well, as i think back on the last year, i am humbled by the immense amount of grace, kindness, and generosity i have experienced by the people whose lives intersect my own. it is like you are these unsung rescue workers who have bailed my family and me out of a sinkhole. as i think about these moments of tenderness on your parts, it is impossible to go through each act of generosity and truly recognize it fully. i am pretty overwhelmed by the ways that people in my life have been thoughtful: free houses to stay at to get away from oakland-from sea ranch to tahoe to solvang to cloverdale, anonymous gift cards in the mail to my very favorite stores and coffee shops, meals aplenty after little m was born, thoughtful letters or poems, a brand new washer and dryer (who knew an appliance could bring such joy), hours of free babysitting (and in the beginning months, staying up all night with our newborn when little m would not sleep), gifts for little m left on our doorstep or arriving in the mail, good meals in your homes or in restaurants or bringing by takeout, even better conversations, sharing tears with us as we grieved m's deafness and then as we struggled seeing my extended family so damaged, washing my dishes, the selfless action of giving matt and i the gift of a superfancy foodie meal (hello, chez panisse) instead of a christmas gift to your own spouse, so many text messages, calls, and notes, even when i didn't have the energy to respond. even as i write this i am thinking of other ways that you dear friends have loved on us.

tomorrow is my birthday, and i enter a new year of life without a single doubt in my mind that i am known, loved, and supported. it is pretty humbling, and it encourages me to be generous as well. the fact that your generosity has meant so much to me in a season of pretty much crappiness has shaped who i am entering a new year. i hope i can live a life of generosity, kindness and grace myself. 

thank you.

nine months!

wow. can't believe it's already been nine whole months! little m has been keeping us on our toes for almost a year now.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

our rockin' new year's eve

this new year's eve was a quiet one: matt, little m, my mom and i hung out at our place. my mom provided the babysitting while matt and i cooked up a storm. we decided that it would be fun to make a bunch of courses for her, and since she loves playing with m and we love cooking, it was a fantastic arrangement for us all! it was a very european meal, minus the cigarette smoke everywhere and poor exchange rate- i think we started around 8:30 and it lasted until 11 or so. each course was sort of a taste of something; instead of eating a full serving at each course, the three of us shared a couple of bites of every menu item. 

this post is long, with lots o' pictures, since we had TEN total courses.

little m, obviously distraught that she has to go to bed early and only gets to eat pureed veggies, while the rest of us get to eat copious amounts of yummy.

course one: we started with a cheese plate; hello, caramelized onion cheddar cheese, can i name my next child after you?

course two: gougeres, or cheese puffs; how can you go wrong with gruyere anything?

mama bear surveys her next cheese puff conquest

matt pours out some celebratory prosecco from the magnum that we got especially for my mom since she's such a heavy drinker (i kid, i kid)

course three: pate (wrapped in bacon) with cornichons and mustard on the side; ok, this is SO not my scene, but my mom and matt are fans. i think pate is essentially fancy cat food, so that shows i'm not such a foodie after all.

mom and i in a jovial new years mood

course four: winter squash and pear soup

course five: avocado grapefruit salad; so fresh and so clean, clean

course six: first time homemade pasta queen cornelia upstages the old pro, matt. my mom had incredible skills with the pasta maker!

course seven: mushroom ragu on homemade paparadelle; i love mushrooms, so this was my happy place.

course eight: sauteed cauliflower; somehow a very simple preparation - just a quick saute- of this humble and overlooked vegetable elevated it to sublime.

course nine: rump roast; matt was kind of disappointed with the meat because it was a little overcooked for his tastes. perhaps that's what happens when you freestyle and try to combine three different recipes and cooking times... or maybe that's what happens when you are too busy eating mushroom ragu to fastidiously check the oven!

the finale! course ten: apple cake with warm caramel sauce. uh- caramel. do i need to say any more? (of course, i am kind of a caramel junkie, so this word may not have the same draw for all y'all that it does for me.)

not even midnight, and matt falls sound asleep on the couch with a full and delighted belly while my mom rocks all the dishes. sorry dick clark and ryan seacrest, we missed you out on you this year! (but we did enter 2009 with contented palates and a clean kitchen.)