Tuesday, March 31, 2009

home is where the mess is

as you can see, little m has been car-bound. don't be mislead by this cute picture - she spent a better part of the drive hoem form san diego not pleased. and when i say not pleased, i am referring to a sort of unhappiness that = the constant & blood curdling screams that she uttered throughout the night the first three months of her life. not fun. but in this picture, she posed. such a faker, my daughter.

we are home from our trip to so cal, and well, the house is a disaster, so in order to be, you know, responsible and all that, i am going to clean up and put away all of our stuff while little m sleeps. i'll be honest, i'd rather be blogging, because our trip was just so great: great friends, great meals, great art, great weather & great study leave for matt. 

just so you know, one of my very least enjoyable things in the whole world is unpacking after a trip. it's sort of like putting away folded laundry. granted, i feel so much better when i'm done, but there are about 4,657 things i'd prefer to do first.

ok, i'm off to be a non-procrastinator.

Monday, March 30, 2009

coming home

we're headed home from so cal! 
after a long but beneficial week of study leave for matt where he read, met with former professors, and dialogued about issues he's struggling with, and little m and i mostly played with a dash of work thrown in, we get back to oakland today. it was good for both of our souls, but not so fabulous for little m's sleep schedule. she's a mess. oh well, it was worth it.
happy monday!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

oh, i heart you, springtime, yes i do

matt's mom always has the most amazing garden going on.
i love ranunculus- they are my favorites, and her backyard is chock full of them right now.
i love them so much that i was not pleased 
when someone cut a bunch of my pretty ranunculus 
in my front yard two years ago. 
(did you read that? 
they cut, 
not just ripped out, 
but took the premeditated energy, 
to cut the flowers in my yard?) 
it just happened to be mother's day. 
maybe it was a coincidence, but here's my theory:
i think someone had forgotten to get flowers, 
so they stole my perfectly blooming, joyous reminders of spring. 
i still haven't moved on, as you can see.
so pretty.
{love, love, love}
pretty much perfect.
they are like a little pint sized version of springtime. 
or maybe tablespoon sized version, 
because a pint sized ranuncula would be pretty massive.

speaking of food...

...and matt enjoying it, we've made a few yummy meals lately. 

last monday, on our way to southern california, we stopped at matt's parents for the night. matt has been hankering to make a full meal out of one of his newest cookbooks (purchased for him by his lovely and generous wife), david tanis' a platter of figs, so we decided to make his parents dinner. 
little m was not too pleased with her dinner of peas,
despite the tag team efforts of the grandparents.
matt's mom made a super delish spinach & cheese tart, with yummy puff pastry enclosing the oozy cheese in buttery flakiness. i ate waaaay too much of that appetizer, because it was just that good. (i took a picture but it didn't turn out so well, so you can rely on your powers of imagination and picture the goodness in your mind.) matt followed up with braised beef and rutabaga mashed potatoes; the meat was incredibly tender and the flavor, perfect.
we finished the meal with roasted apples-
sometimes the most simple thing 
is the best thing. 
it's kind of that way in life, too, i think.

our little foodie

(someone likes food as much as her daddy)
matt's signature move is to clap when a meal is epic. 
guess who started clapping in joy mid-bite the other day? 
yup, this little munchkin.

Friday, March 27, 2009

wish you were here...

matt is on study leave this week, so we are in pasadena, where we lived while matt finished grad school. we'd only been married one year, and we lived in a tiny little 450 square foot cottage. the shutters were pink. we'd eat meals at the end of the day in a dining nook that was smaller than many people's walk in closets. in the morning, we would run or walk along the bungalow lined streets, and at night, i'd paint out in our little garage. our place was one of four identical cottages, all lined up next to each other. it feels surreal to be back here, and i'm suddenly reminded of some of the things that make pasadena, well, so pasadena:
  • the food. matt's stomach really likes pasadena. the hat for a pastrami burger, rick's for a sourdough cheeseburger, fries and iced tea, lucky boy for a breakfast burrito, la estrellita for nachos...(i'm partial to zankou chicken & the massive salads at green street restaurant-hello, yum.)
  • the flock of noisy green parrots. i'd totally forgotten about these very loud, very active in the morning birds until first thing tuesday morning.
  • the random shopping carts strewn everywhere in the city. shopping cart, anyone?
  • the really wide, tree-lined streets. when we lived here the ghetto bird flew over our house every night, so we weren't exactly living in an upscale area, but our street was still wide and green. love.
  • the rose bowl. so fun to walk around - it kind of reminds me of walking around lake merritt in oakland. except there's no water. or annoying fowl to trip over.
  • the houses, which range from teeny cottage to cool restored bungalow to palatial mansion. pasadena is such a walkable city, and there are so many pretty houses to ogle...which reminds me of just how much matt and i walked when we lived here - even in the not so great areas of town it feels walkable.
  • the traveling grocery stores. there are these nondescript delivery looking vans painted all white; once they pull over and roll up the back door, they become mobile mini marts. i walked by one yesterday that was chock full of items for sale: housewares, food, produce, random stuff, all neatly organized and lining the truck's insides from floor to ceiling. that's exactly what i need parked outside of my house when i run out of sugar in the middle of making cookies.
  • the super great (and why don't they have these at all intersections besides chinatown and pasadena) crosswalks where you can cross diagonally as well as just through the traditional crosswalk? love it. you feel a little rebellious even though you are law abiding in your street crossing.
  • vroman's bookstore. i freaking love that bookstore. little m and i walked down there yesterday for a little quality time, and from the look on her face as she pulled books by the handful from the shelves and dumped them on the floor, i think little m likes vroman's as much as i do. bonus: i spotted one of my papyrus cards that i hadn't seen in stores yet, so if you need to thank the administrative professional in your life, have i got the card for you!
ah, pasadena. it's good to be back, if ever so briefly.


so, we all have our flaws: mine include enjoying diet coke, reading celebrity trash magazines in line at the grocery store, avoiding washing silverware, putting away laundry (love to fold it; hate to put it away), being the worst call-er back-er ever, and watching lame tv. of course, you know all of this if you've read my profile, because much to matt's chagrin, i am very upfront about it. don't get me wrong-i am also a woman of substance, but i have been known to dabble in the fluffy world of pop culture.

i've watched grey's anatomy since the first season. that feels like a long time ago. one of my friends was recovering from a bone marrow transplant and we'd sit together in the treatment room, huddled over her laptop, sharing a single set of earbuds and watching the latest episode that her husbnad had burned onto a dvd for us. she was being treated at a teaching hospital, so it felt only fitting that we would watch mcdreamy, meredith, and the clan living their pretend and love-drama-issues filled lives at seattle grace. it was a good distraction, and back then, it was a good show (even if it was/is basically a soap opera)

for some insane reason i keep watching it - usually when i am up at night working on freelance stuff and matt and little m have long ago gone to bed. this season has been ridiculous, but i've soldiered on, hoping that any episode now it would get good again.

it finally did- last week and this week were actually good episodes. the only reason i am even stooping to mention that i watch crappy tv on my blog is that i loved one of the lines from last nights episode:

people are better than no people.

in other words - we're human beings; we need each other. and we need to be there for each other. we are not meant to trudge through life alone. and we are also not meant to be so absorbed in our own crap that we don't show up when the people in our lives need us.

thanks for being my people. people
are better than no people; i've gotten through a bad year much due to my people. (you're way better than drinking a diet coke and reading us weekly all by myself.)

Thursday, March 26, 2009


we are in so cal this week; matt is on study leave which means play time for little m and i (with moments of work scattered in!) we stopped at matt's parents on the way down and i loved this shot of grandpa tom and m reading together. i love how intense my kiddo is. (don't know where she gets that from...)

(happy birth day to you(r ears))

(chalk on pavement by sophie, elodie, jonas, ashlynn & joaquin)
on sunday we had a hearing day of birth party for little m! her actual first birthday is on easter, but in some ways celebrating her new ability to access sound (especially after such a long road) seemed more important.

there was a definite chance of rain and our place was too teeny to contain all of the well wishers joining us, so i was a bit-ok, very- nervous. and then on sunday morning, after some brief showers the sun poked through the clouds until the blue gradually overcame the grey. first thing in the morning, when i was still at home and he was at the church already, matt called me just to say, "the sun is out!"

it was a wonderful celebration of little m's cochlear implants getting hooked up and turned on. i was kind of overwhelmed with gratitude at how many people came to join us in such a historic and special moment in our family. i felt supported and loved beyond measure, both for matt and i but also for little m- something never to be taken for granted. people from all parts of our life came to hang out, eat and drink. i loved it.

it was a pretty great afternoon: we hired the pupusa lady from down the street to come and make pupusas for everyone, braved the sunny but windy back yard, chowed on yummy latin fare, and enjoyed delish sweet treats at the end. (my one disappointment was that my blueberry pies did not set right- they were more like blueberry soup in a crust. sigh.) the big kids (i.e. older than little m but younger than say, 7 yrs old) decided to spend the afternoon decorating the entire perimeter of our house with amazing chalk drawings. what could be better than to walk outside and have the party continue with these beautiful drawings under foot? 

it was a wonderful celebration, and i am so grateful that the people in our life get how huge this moment is for us...pretty special.

 i can only imagine what little m will be able to hear and say a year from now! maybe she'll be tagging along after the chalk drawers, trying to keep up.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


sometimes you get the gift of sitting with friends, talking about everything and nothing, sharing the day, the sunshine, lingering over meals, doing the dishes together, walking together through quiet neighborhoods, life.

and even though you are miles from where you usually lay your head, you are home.

i'm thankful-that's exactly the kind of week i'm having.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

little m is getting used to having her "ears" on! 

it is still a major hassle to actually get them on in the first place, and takes a whole lot of time and energy and a mini meltdown (on both our parts as well as hers...) but once they are on she just goes on with life as usual-like here where she is trying to get her dad's attention (it worked of course!)

Monday, March 23, 2009

a confession

matt says i always take over the whole bed when we are sleeping.

i think he's being dramatic and has a hard time telling where the half of the bed is 
when it's dark.

matt says i always steal the covers.

but, no, i insist; that is SO in your imagination! 

and then....
i made the bed the other day (not i novel thing, i promise), 
when i spotted his side of the bed covers, barely covering the mattress:

versus my side of the bed covers: long, almost touching the floor, 
and obviously unevenly distributed in favor of (gasp) 
so i confess. 
i guess i am a blanket thief. 
i take it all back. 
not that i plan on doing things differently at all;
but i can at least be penitent in my thievery.

neighborhood watch

little m's very favorite location in the house is right here, 
perched over the couch, looking out at the world through our living room window. she has a fabulous view of all the cars zipping down our street, all of the assorted passers-by, the hummingbirds that reside in our front yard, and of any visitors that happen to stop by our house. i may be having the worst day imaginable, or just feeling rather blah, but when i walk up our walkway after being away for a few hours and see this little monkey looking out the window grinning at me, crazily making the sign for mommy, and swaying back and forth, 
all is good in the world.


warm sun +
trees in bloom +
flowers poking through the dirt +
blue sky =

wonderful glorious spring

Friday, March 20, 2009

ah, friday

it has been such a full week- chock full of many long appointments and so much joy. sometime this weekend i'll get a chance to upload photos and write more about life... that includes life outside of just little m's ears! (sorry- it has been pretty baby-centric around these parts)

it has been such a week of celebration. we had very positive hook up appointments for little m's ears, and then a great therapy session today at her school. 

it literally brought tears to our eyes when matt, standing behind m, banged on a little drum and she turned toward him. i can't tell you how many times in the past 6 months we have banged on that same exact drum, inches from her ears, and little m has just kept on playing, completely oblivious to the loud sound filling up the room. 

every time that happened a little part of me died, thinking, we keep banging this dumb little drum, and she can't hear a freaking thing. today, she heard it for the first time. and we all got teary, including her therapist.

it was kind of weird: on the way home from school we stopped at costco. i hadn't really thought about the fact that it was the first time since little m's activation that we were in a public space with lots of people around. everywhere we have been this week, her audiologist and school, it is totally the norm to have cochlear implants; pretty much all the kids at her school have either hearing aids or implants, so she's like every other kid. as we walked around shopping, i realized that people were totally looking at her like, "what are those things on her head?" or i would turn in a direction and see someone look away quickly. they were just curious, but i did have a moment where i thought, "oh yeah. i forgot that this would probably happen."

when we came home i caught up on email and the blogs i read. my friend hannah, who i met at little m's school, and who is mom to adorable little vivian, happened to write this fantastic post about perspective today. it was so appropriate, thoughtful, and truly resonated with me; i encourage you to read it here. after so much activity this week, i feel joyful but worn out, and this post speaks so beautifully of emotions and thoughts that i have had myself in the last year.

(xoxo, have a great weekend)

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"i hear that!"

i can't find the camera charger, so no pictures from today (yet.) but i love this moment with matt and little m reading, because now, with her implants in, she will someday be able to hear, understand and respond to what her daddy is reading to her. what a miracle!

it has been a long day: we drove down early to palo alto to get little m's implants mapped with annie and jennifer at let them hear. because m had her hearing aids in so much, and because she has had exposure to sound (damaged as it was), she didn't have a crazy response to the implants getting turned on- she did do some dancing, and swaying and smiling...

the trick in the immediate future will be getting them on her ears and keeping them on! she was NOT happy as we stuck them on her, but once they were there she kind of forgot about them.

oh, i hear someone waking up from her nap with quite some lung power- so got to go rescue her from the crib. thanks for joining in our joy with us! we are pretty content that this day is here. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

the big day is finally here...

there's this song i used to sing back, oh, in the mid-90's perhaps...one of the lines is, you've turned my mourning into dancing again, lifted my sorrow...as i started to jot a quick blogpost, those words came into my mind. 

tomorrow morning we meet with m's audiologist to get her implants activated! it is only the beginning of a very long journey, but it does feel like a moment of sorrow being lifted. it does feel like we will be able to dance again.

i was telling a friend of mine the other day that i am so quick to share the hard aspects of life; i think in an attempt to be authentic and real, but some days it is ok to celebrate. there are a million moments in life that will be hard- but tomorrow will be just good. 

i'm so thankful we are here...and that we are one step closer to our daughter getting to hear her mama sing - even old songs from the 90's. i'm sure she'll roll her eyes and grow crimson. (just like i did when my mom would sing.)

yay for little m's hearing day of birth.

m & m


Monday, March 16, 2009


first to my non-napper and now to my home away from home; i'm such a busy letter writer...

dearest studio,

as you know, it's been a little crazy lately. i know we had this whole plan worked out where i'd come in a few days a week, and in the past month i've only been in here and there. rest assured, it isn't due to hard feelings - there's just been tons to do with little m's implant appointments and freelance deadlines! i miss you: the smell and feel of oil paint, cleaning my brushes, flipping through art magazines, the hours of wondering how i'll resolve the paintings i'm working on, the coffee breaks and hallway chats with my studio partner in crime, renetta, and then when i've exhausted all of the above...painting.

alas, i'm bailing again this morning for a meeting for little m with the school district. but promise i'll be back in soon. maybe even this afternoon for an hour or two? 


Sunday, March 15, 2009

the sound of sound

the following essay was originally published in the supercute parenting magazine wondertime (the only parenting mag matt would actually read and occasionally even steal(!) from the waiting room when we'd go in for our prenatal appointments. first of all, it is printed on great matte paperstock. second, it has cute stuff in it and third, the articles are well written and longer than 2 sentences, unlike most other parenting magazines...but i digress.)

if you are wondering what it feels like to be on the journey of having a deaf child and choosing to work using implants or hearing aids so she (or he) can learn to hear, read this. as i read this article aloud to matt last week he broke down sobbing & we both just cried for a while. there is a lot here that resonates with us both, and maybe it describes aspects of what we feel better than we can articulate ourselves. it's a bit longer than one of my regular posts, so if you'd rather go to a printable version of the same, go here.

The Sound of Sound
Written By Jennifer Rosner

What it's like to be a little girl with a cochlear implant. What it's like to be her mom.

For my 4-year-old daughter Juliet, hearing is optional. She was born profoundly deaf. Juliet has a cochlear implant, which brings her access to sound, so long as she wears her external processor — a behind-the-ear device that looks like a hearing aid with a small magnetic disk that attaches to the implant in her head. Throughout each preschool day, Juliet wears her processor, and with it she hears. And she talks. She hums. She sings. Juliet's language and music are wonders to behold. But when she arrives home from school exhausted, she often wants to take her processor off.

"I don't want my sound," she says, and she piles the mound of earmold, wire, and magnet into my open palm.

If a restaurant is too loud and Juliet is tired — yank — I have to rush to catch this several-thousand-dollar "ear" before she sets it down on a table smeared with ketchup or blue cheese dressing. Just as quickly, I race to settle Juliet into a comfortable position because, with the blessing of quiet and the shut of her eyes, she falls asleep in seconds. On weekend mornings, Juliet asks to wait before putting on her processor. She enjoys puttering around the house in silence, tuning us out, ignoring our demands. When she wants us, she just stands in place and yells (she has no idea how loudly) until we show ourselves in her visual field. Juliet signs, and we sign back, yet she often chooses not to reason with us when her sound is out. Sometimes she won't even look our way, disabling our speaking voices and our signing hands. To be sure, Juliet can be ornery with or without her sound. But without it, her face takes on so much expression that her glower can send us packing.

Juliet rips her processor off at the sight of the blender or the vacuum cleaner. She puts it back on when she spies a book I could read to her or a video she wants to watch. Like a baseball cap: off for the bath, on for the playdate, off to run through the sprinkler, then back on for the cupcakes. I wonder sometimes whether to encourage this. But why should she hear the babies crying at the pediatrician's office if she doesn't have to? Why not miss the jackhammer blast when the car is stuck in traffic? Juliet senses everything that's happening through vibrations anyway. Whether her sound is on or off, she knows when someone walks into the room, and she can read a face like a book. As she reminds me with a scowl when I repeat in sign what I've said aloud: "I know what you just said."

It's impossible for me to know what Juliet's experiences are like, with sound or without it. When I first heard a simulation of how a voice sounds through a cochlear implant, I was horrified. It sounded like Darth Vader speaking through Demi Moore as she imitated the Wicked Witch of the West. "We're going to drill into her tiny skull for this?" I asked the Boston Children's Hospital cochlear implant team. Can I never expect her to hear the timbre of my voice, or to distinguish between voices? And what will her voice sound like? I was placated, ultimately, by the sight (and sound!) of other implanted children at the playground of a nearby school for the deaf.

Juliet's cochlear implant surgery took place on her first birthday, and it lasted five hours. A few weeks after, her sound was "turned on" — the external processor was programmed and activated. It was set at a low volume, so as not to scare her, and it came with extra settings that grew gradually louder.

We were warned that most implanted babies cry when they hear sound for the first time. I wrapped my arms around Juliet as the audiologist attached the processor — glop — and the external magnet glommed onto Juliet's head like a magnet onto a refrigerator. Instructing us to be quiet, the audiologist handed Juliet a drum and a stick. Juliet whacked the drum, then jumped back like a startled animal at the sound of the boom. She searched our faces with wide questioning eyes. She beat the drum again. And then Juliet thrust back her head and laughed.

For the next hour, she used the drumstick to beat other things: the audiologist's pant leg made almost no sound, the metal file cabinet made a loud clanging boom, the tone of the wood chair was different than the thicker wood table. Juliet had become a scientist, studying and experimenting with sound.

According to the audiologist, all sounds would come in as beeps and blips at first. It would be months before the neural pathways between Juliet's auditory nerve and her brain would be forged and able to translate the input into meaningful sound. That is, it would be months before "moo" could be distinguished from "quack" and pinned on its rightful farm speaker. And months before Juliet would turn at my calling of her name. In the meantime, we would put in a lot of "moos" and "quacks." We would point out and comment on nearly every sound that could be heard in our home: the sizzling of an egg in the skillet, the full rush then drip drip of water from the faucet, the stray cock-a-doodle-doo of a neighbor's rooster, the metallic scritch of a zipper running up a coat. "I hear it," I'd say, pointing to my ear, as the phone rang, or the heat kicked in.

The flop of a pancake. The shake of the milk bottle. The sound of the birds as we walked outside. The click of the car seat buckle before we drove. The clank of carts and the thunk of grapefruits as we shopped. Every sound: listened for, acknowledged, remarked upon.

Each morning, I'd put on Juliet's implant processor. I'd also stick a hearing aid into her nonimplanted ear. I was used to hearing aids. Juliet's older sister, Sophia, has a lesser hearing impairment, and hearing aids enable Sophia to hear and speak. Juliet objected to her aid, but I persisted. Set at its highest volume, it might give her access to new sounds.

Then, to keep things cheery, I'd chase her around the house. One snowy day in February, when Juliet was 1 1/2, we were running round and round. "I'm going to get you, Juliet," I yelled, offering her the lead, then trailing in the sea of squeals and laughter that floated in from the room ahead. At one point the tea kettle whistled and I broke the chase for a quick hearing lesson. I stood still in the kitchen until Juliet knocked into me, and as she caught her breath I pointed out the high-pitched whistle, thick steam shooting up at the kitchen cabinets. "I hear it," I said, pointing to my ears. Then I switched off the stove and resumed the chase.

Time out had to be called several times because Juliet's processor magnet slipped off, dragged down by the weight of her controller, which flapped in a pocket I had hastily sewn onto her T-shirt. Juliet took the time-outs like a puppy halted mid-nip to scratch an itch. Her hair came loose from her topknot. Her eyes sparkled. At one point, as I gained on her, sock-skating into the dining room, I called out, "Juliet!" and she turned her head to look at me.

I stopped in my tracks like Road Runner.

"Juliet?" I ventured again. By now she was smiling a huge smile — she had heard and recognized her name.

"Juliet," I choked, and I scooped her into my arms, "I got you, Juliet. I got you. I've gotten you."

oh dear

dear little m,

you must be confused.

perhaps it is because of the time change or perhaps you are just misinformed, but for some reason you have decided that sunday afternoons are playtime. playtime as in i-must-play-with-someone-and-get-lots-of-focused-attention. um, we specifically told you when you came out of my belly that sunday afternoons are naptime. that's what we do in our family: take little small small naps on sunday afternoons. the problem is that when you don't take a nap, then we don't get to either. i'm sure you'll fix the misunderstanding immediately and let all of us sneak in a little snooze. i'm so glad we had this little chat.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

pretty little thing

my brother made this pretty little bouquet the other day. 
it is so fresh and just sings spring, spring, spring! 
{love it}

(editorial note: cute boy+flowers+sunshine=a pretty much perfect day if you ask me)

(eleven months)

today little m turned eleven months old! for not even hitting her first birthday yet, m has had quite an action packed existence! in the past month she finally had her bilateral cochlear implant surgery, quickly recovered, and is now back to her spirited and feisty self. (she takes after her daddy, i say)

at eleven months m is 
  • pulling herself up on pretty much everything to stand
  • sporting two bottom teeth, which she uses to chew on everything in a 5 foot circumference of her
  • cruising around rooms by reaching from one piece of furniture to the next, or your legs if you happen to be standing close to her
  • feeding herself bite-sized goodies (she stuffs her face i tell you! stuffs! the girl is a mini foodie i swear- i gave her some leftover risotto this morning and she demolished it in moments...did i mention she takes after her daddy?)
  • her own personal dance party; she may not hear a pickin' sound, but the girl has got some moves, especially once she spies cheerios.
  • obsessed with the following: her small light-up rubber ducky, her pacifier, grape juice (what's not to like about grape juice?), the microwave (it is her best friend. bff runners up include her old favorites: my cell phone, camera, laptop, and any extraneous cords she may encounter; let's just say the aforementioned would be her bridesmaids if she got married tomorrow), turning the pages of her books (she prefers to read from back to front like her mama), playing at her little musical table (i think she may be surprised to find out that it makes sound! once her implants are activated), climbing, rolling and cavorting about in her crib rather than napping in it, looking out the front window at the world, kitchen utensils, playing tag (or at least the baby version of tag, which just consists of you tagging her while she is being held by you), and last but not least, chewing on people's chins
  • already tricky wicky: she looks at you right before she is about to do something she knows she shouldn't and grins or begins to laugh. i kid you not - she literally gets a glint in her eye and smiles.
  • ridiculously cute. we are hopelessly addicted to the monrovia channel.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

points of joy

so much to be thankful for, even when it's only halfway through the week....
today's points of joy:
(remembering that little m used to be this small)

(sitting outside with courtney in the warm san francisco sun: the anticipation of the new life inside of her growing bump joining us in the world any day now- come soon little one! we want to meet you!)
(matt's delicious scones; they give all other scones a bad name)
(this man and this little girl, sitting together in our home. 
they are more like explosions of joy, not just points of joy, 
bringing warmth to the coldest parts of my heart.)
(one of my most favorite kids ever: quentin and his awesomely painted nails- 
purple on one side and sparkly on the other)
(the best ever birthday cake: pink and purple frosting, sprinkles of all sorts, and dinosaurs, decorated by aforementioned cool kid quentin. perfection.)
(march in oakland)
(babylegwarmers. love them. so much. so cute on lil' bambinos. m has 5, count 'em,
5 pairs!)

and last but not least, the thought that just one week from today little m will experience sound for the very first time. amazing!

(you're beautiful)

i {love} this. 
(it's worth a minute of your time)

Monday, March 9, 2009

why i love oakland

(image from thedude.com)
a friend of mine, who writes this great blog, is moving to the east bay, and asked me what i think of oakland about a month ago. i keep saying that i'll write her back, but somehow i keep putting it off; you know it seems like i have a novella's worth of thoughts on the subject after living here, except for a year, since 1997. ah, procrastination.

then today my basically-a-sister-but-technically-not-blood-related-friend adriane sent me this excellent blogpost on sf gate's "the poop" titled "why i love oakland." it also reminded me of my friend monte's post about oakland a couple of months ago, and i thought that until i get my act together and actually write down what i love about oakland, i'd let these two speak for me. 

in the meantime, i know some oakland-ers read this blog; 
what about you? 
what do you love (or hate or fill in the blank) about oakland?


i don't remember the day my brother jonathan was born. 
i was only two years and two months old. 
i do remember that i loved him when he came home.
it was march 9th. in maine. he made me a big sister. i remember that from the day he was born,
 he brought adventures into our little family. 
i remember how my mom would sing to him, 
especially a song she made up just for him, 
especially on days when he had gotten into trouble or was feeling sad:
jonathan, jonathan eric ruff,
you are my great big boy,
you to laugh and play and sing,
and have a lot of joy.
jonathan, jonathan eric ruff,
you are my first born son,
and i would not replace you
with any other one.
i remember that he was my first best friend.

i remember when i almost lost my brother.
it was august, in the summer in between my junior and senior year of high school; 
a few days before, jonathan had been down the street, stopping off at a neighborhood kid's house before he came home. i was sitting on the kitchen counter, swinging my legs, kicking the cabinets and talking to my mom when the phone rang and changed our family history forever, so that time has been delineated as "before the accident" or "after the accident" ever since.

it is a long story if i tell it because that moment has shaped so much. 
but it would be a short story if you told it because it can be abbreviated easily:
my brother was accidentally shot at close range by a pellet gun behind his ear, the pellet shattering his skull, going all the way through his brain, and lodging in the other side of his head. 
he was in a coma. he was partially paralyzed at first. 
he came so close to dying that the doctors said it was a miracle he survived.

i remember walking next to his gurney as far as possible before he was wheeled into brain surgery. it was my mom, dad, and i surrounding him and he was in a coma, but when my dad asked him if he was scared and if we could pray for him a tear rolled down his cheek.

i remember after the surgery, when the surgeons brought my mom and dad into a little room adjacent to the waiting area and they closed the door. when they returned and i saw my parents' faces i was so scared. they looked so sad, so pale, so small standing in front of me. 

i remember saying, "did jonathan die?"
my mom put her hand over her mouth and started crying.
in that moment i thought i had lost my brother.
it felt like a very long pause until my dad said, 
"no. but the surgeons don't know what he will be like when he recovers. he might never talk again. he might be like a vegetable. he might be paralyzed. or he might be just fine. 
they just don't know."
i will never forget the sadness and scariness of that season.

it might seem weird that i'm writing about jonathan's accident on his birthday. but every time we celebrate another year of my brother's life, i can't help but thinking that we almost lost him. it makes the joy of his birthday that much greater.
 his accident doesn't define him, but it is a part of his story, and mine.

my brother is very brave, strong, and determined;
so much more than people realize, and so much more than i think he gives himself credit for.
he worked so hard to walk, talk, write again...
to finish high school, 
and college and graduate school.
to become a teacher.

i am incredibly proud of him: not just all that he has struggled to accomplish, 
but of who he is as a person.
it has been a long road, and he has walked it with courage and without complaint.
the name jonathan means "gift of god."
a gift of god - that is what my brother is -
and i would not replace you
with any other one.

Friday, March 6, 2009

ah, naptime

{me + my brother johnny, asleep in the backseat, circa 1981}

full disclosure: i kind of love naps. and i always have. (born and bred on them actually...how do you think my mom raised four kids with only 6 years between the eldest {me} and the youngest {aaron} + stayed sane? NAPS. we were required to take a whole lotta naps.)

yesterday i was in the car with my friend meeghan. we chatted away as her three year old, justice, was crashed out in the backseat taking nap, the seatbelt stretched across the top of his torso and keeping him mostly upright. 

every few minutes he would startle, look up groggily and then his head would jerk once, twice in an attempt to hold his head up and stay awake. it was futile; his heavy head would drop, heavy lids close, and then he would once again give in and fall back asleep. his head was literally flopping down onto his chest. 

you know what i'm talking about- the inadvertent napping that happens on a plane, or in a car, or in a class, when you don't really intend to take a nap but it just happens?

car naps are my favorite. don't you remember falling asleep in the car as a kid, somewhere midway between home and your final destination? 

your body becomes one with the car: in my case, the embossed naugahyde bench seat of a ford fairmont station wagon. whichever three kids were in the backseat would sort of slowly lean into each other as we fell further and further asleep until we were slumped onto each other and a sweaty tangle of siblings. forget the fact that only moments before succumbing to dreamland we kids had been arguing over who was invading our alloted portion of space, who had poked who, and who had cheated playing car bingo. suddenly the most bitter of sibling wars abates, and you want to snuggle, or at least lean on the shoulder next to you. usually i sat in the middle, and inevitably i would be a jonathan and rebecca sandwich, as both of them would fall asleep on each of my shoulders and then i'd finally crash out, my head dropped forward onto my chest or sideways against one of their heads. i honestly think that most of our sibling squabbles were resolved by those car naptimes. seriously, it's kind of impossible to stay mad at your brother when you've been drooling on his forearm for 35 miles.

car naps end one of two ways: either by jerking awake as the car pulls up into the driveway lazily stretching yourself out of a sleepy stupor or, if it's nighttime, with mom or dad scooping you up, snuggling your limp deadweight body against theirs and carrying you into bed. 

i think on my list of things that i miss from childhood, car naps may be close to the top. car naps and reading little house on the prairie books on a saturday afternoon. 

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"everyone needs beauty as well as bread..." 
john muir

{just a little reminder to fill your day with things of beauty}

sweet dreams

{the good:} 
last night matt dreamt that little m was describing to him what it sounded like to hear, 
and he woke up crying. 
(i can't wait.)

{the bad:}
he also had a dream that involved me getting devoured by a lion. 
except for an arm, or some other random limb. 

{the ugly:}
i was up until 3 am working on a greeting card deadline for papyrus, so no dreams for me. here's my thing: 
i hate that i work so well at night when all is quiet. 
it's great and all in the still of the night, but right now at 8 in the morning? 
i'm in a sleep coma.
how can i feel completely awake and normal at 3 am and then at 6:18 am, 
when little m wakes up and starts crying because she wants out of her crib,
i feel like a lion has partially devoured me and i am barely alive?
because that's how i feel right now.
like a partially-lion-devoured-sleep-coma-survivor-with-abba-songs-running-through-my-head*

*i had the movie mamma mia on in the background while i worked...
(don't judge- you know you love the song dancing queen)


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

little m's follow up

little m has had these little bandages behind her ear since her surgery last week. you can kind of see them under her hair in this picture.
yesterday we went down to her doctors, dr. roberson and dr. ort at california ear institute to check in on her and to take the bandages off the incisions.
{we love her doctors}
she was not very happy when dr. roberson peeled the bandaids off, 
but then she recovered quickly. 
they said her incisions were healing well and that the swelling she has is normal. 
brilliant little m has figured out a way to sleep in her crib so that she is not laying directly on her head and putting pressure on where it is still sore. 

we're all set for her activation dates on march 18th and 19th! 
now that her incision sites have healed, we could finally give our dirty little baby a bath!
she wasn't too happy about it...
(can you see her two itty bitty front teeth peeking through the gums?)