Thursday, April 30, 2009

my husband is my most favorite person.
today is his birthday.
last year on this very day, on his day of birth, 
on a day we should celebrate,
we found out our baby was deaf.

in that moment, 
it felt like someone killed something inside of us.
or stole something from us.
we didn't know that it would be ok - that our daughter would be ok - that we would be ok.

i remember sitting in the livingroom, 
on matt's birthday night.
matt sat holding our two week old little m, 
bouncing her on our exercise ball 
(because that is the only way she would calm down), 
crying. 
really crying.
i remember saying through my tears, 
"i cant do this. i really can't do this. 
i don't even know how to be a mom of a baby that doesn't have anything wrong!"
we had no idea what life was about to look like.

it was a pretty sucky birthday.


here we are a year later...
i love this man on sucky days and on perfect ones.
i love that in those first days, when i would say those words in the secret of our home, 
"i can't do this! i can't be m's mom! i'm not strong enough"
that he would listen, hug me + send me back to spend time with our baby
because he knew that being with her would bring me out of my dark place.
i love that he is the same person behind closed doors that he is in public.
i love that he embraces me as an artist, even when i am full of fear, excuses or insecurity.
i love that he listens to my stories, 
even though i ramble needlessly and lose my train of thought.
i love that he believes in community.
i love that he has the biggest stack of books on his "to read" pile ever 
and still gets new books every chance he gets.
i love that he is always trying to live out his faith, 
even if he winds up with more questions along the way.
i love that he bakes the best chocolate chip cookies i have ever had.
i love that we will never be the couple that finishes each others sentences, 
but that he still usually knows what i am thinking when i don't say a single word.
i love that he is such a natural and nurturing dad.
i love that he puts up with me, even though i am a handful.

happy birthday to you, matthew thomas.
here's to a better birthday this time around.
i couldn't be me
without
you.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

(also)

it's spring. 
well, it has been for a while now, 
but thought i'd mix the layout up a bit.
enjoy the brighter colors 
xo,
me

{one}

on easter day, april 12th,
this little monkey turned one!
i can hardly believe it's been an entire year. 
what a full year:
bursting with such joy and sorrow and discovery, 
all mixed and mingled together.
but the joy wins out, every time.
just like the good overcomes the hard.
grandma made a cake!
{little m attacked it}
maybe the rest of us did too.
(can you blame us? my mom is a super amazingly great baker)
{dear sweet m,
you are a joy-bringer. 
you have taught me how to see and hear and feel new things. 
we love having you in our family.
i am so glad that you can hear me say that i love you.
because i do.
love, 
your mommy}

you can do anything for a month.

you can do anything for a month.

that, i am sad to say, has been my mantra these past few weeks. i guess it's better than when i would tell myself, "you can do anything for a year" when i was 22, and teaching in a crazy classroom complete with race riots, theft, and 35 kids who were 10 years old going on 18. (but that's another story.)

so, you may wonder where i have been these past few weeks. well, sometimes life just doesn't look the way you had planned it. {i think i've learned that over and over this past year, as if the 33 years leading up to this past year hadn't already taught me that.}

i am knee deep in the detritus of my parents' divorce. that is to say, that i have been helping my mom clean out, pack up, and move everything out of the house. (and when i say pack up and move, i mean everything, from the 20 year old nordic track to my sibling's elementary school report cards.) the euclid house is 100 years old, and big, and has a lot of issues. so the past few weeks have entailed scraping wallpaper (really old and stuck on wallpaper covering every freaking inch of wallspace including closets), fixing walls, painting, tearing out bathroom fixtures, rewiring the electricity, filling a dumpster, hunting for ancient bathroom tile, priming, sanding, painting, hammering, running to home depot and salvage stores, organizing volunteers, and on and on. it's a big job, and i know i mentioned it in my sole post last week. it's a big job that keeps getting bigger, because well, the house is 100 years old. it's such a big job that, honestly, it is hard to explain. 

i have been living and breathing getting this house finished and ready to sell, and the rest of my life has stopped momentarily. last week matt's mom came up and was on little m duty all week. she did an amazing job, since i was working at the house from 8 every morning until at least midnight every night. now we are back to our routine of little m taking her naps and getting put down to sleep in a pack n' play until we are done working around midnight and we scoop her up, put her in the carseat, and bring her home to her crib. 

and yet, there is still so much to do. so. much. it overwhelms me if i think about it for too long. there is no way to sustain this pace of life for long, but we don't really have a choice. there are moments when i am working that i grieve the loss of my parents' marriage, the loss of the good memories that that house holds, the loss of who my dad was to me. some days i am just really sad, realizing that all of these hours of labor are leading up to a finality. my parents are getting divorced. i haven't talked to my dad since october. at times my heart feels like an open wound. this isn't the way i thought life would go. 

at the same time, there is something healing about the physical act of laboring, repairing, renovating this house. there is something healing about all of our friends who have come to labor alongside us, in a physical and tangible act of love for my mom. some of our friends don't even really know my mom, but they have come anyway, sacrificing multiple days or a few hours to muck through this mess with us. 

it is humbling. 

it is these acts of grace of the people in our life that remind me that i can do anything for a month. this season will pass - the house will become a home for someone else, our family will mend, and soon i will get to play with my daughter, cook meals with my husband, make art, spend saturday morning at the farmer's market, catch up with friends, go on long walks, bake, finally get back to my blog, return to my life.

for now, i work. 

Monday, April 20, 2009

splish splash

kids get dirty. 
so when we visited our friends kim and jeremy a few weeks ago, our dirty kids took a bath.
small, medium, and large.
(my daughter looks like she has been laying out with the hawaiian tropic slathered on)
sweet faced eli and amos share their tub.
how is it that roro hates bath time when she is all by herself, 
but loves it when i throw her in the tub with two other kids?

(little m isn't quite sure how to handle water in her eyes)
love it.

my little rockstar

(so close to walking!)

you may have noticed that i took a bit of a hiatus from the blog...
life has been full.
matt and i have been scrambling, helping my mom get the house my parents' lived in 
packed up, cleaned out, and ready to sell. 
to say that it is a big job would be an understatement.
to say that it is our full time job right now (in addition to matt's already full time job)
would be an understatement.
to say that it is overwhelming would be an understatement.

in the meantime, our poor little m has had quite the weird life. 
most days she naps and goes to sleep at the house while i am working there, and then late at night we pull her heavy, sleeping body out of the pack n' play, put her in the carseat, drive home, and then put her back down again in her crib. she has rotated through multiple babysitters - kind friends who have offered to watch her so i can get work done, which means meals and naps in all sorts of locations. 

and yet, my flexible daughter still rocks.

she is joyful, silly, able to sleep pretty much anywhere, 
and willing to go to most anyone who will play with her.

soon we will have a day where she gets two naps in her own crib, play at the park or visit one of her little friends, walk to peets and get a treat, or do absolutely nothing all day but play on the floor, eat in her own chair in our kitchen, and then sleep in her crib on schedule.
soon.
for now, 
i am thankful that she puts up with the craziness.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

dear blog,

i miss you.

um, more to follow. i promise.

yours truly,

susannah

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

{the stories we tell}

i have been going through all of the things in my parent's former house the past few weeks, dividing things equally into "mom" and "dad" boxes. it is surreal to be shuffling through the most mundane items- mugs, measuring cups, our childhood toys, knick-knacks, and  be reminded of our lifetime as a family, of countless moments that all add up to comprise one's life, and one's personal history. there is a strangeness to the fact that these inanimate objects are essentially worthless and could be thrown out without anyone specifically remembering that they are absent, and that simultaneously one glance at these same inanimate objects sparks years of meaning and memory just because they were a part of one family's daily life. 

and then a few days ago, matt and i received news that a very special elderly woman in our lives, jamie, had passed away. i cried when i got the email; jamie had such a regular, ordinary life on paper, but she was an amazing woman. this cleaning of a home, this passing of a dear soul, it has made me think a lot about the measure of one's life.

about ten years ago, i lived with jamie and her husband al for a summer in their place in southern california; then i would also stay there every month when i went down to visit matt. he and his roommate brian lived about 2 blocks from jamie and al. i had my own key, and because i was young and in love with matt, i would wake up early, go work out at the y, spend most of the day with matt (i helped run an art camp for the summer with matt and brian), and then return late at night to my little room at al and jamie's, which was decorated with kitschy stuffed clowns and lamps with red lightbulbs

that season was a wonderful one for me, not just because i was young and in love, but also because it was as if jamie and al were my grandparents. we would pick all of the fruit off of their trees: plums, pluots, figs, and make jam. we would watch the shows jag, law and order and the news together. they would tell me stories of all of the people in the photos on their family room wall. stories of their meeting on a train in the midwest. stories of the foster children they raised. of the biological children they raised. stories of canning and cooking in oklahoma growing up. stories of going to powwows (al is part native american.) stories of jamie's youth growing up in oakland: going to oakland high, walking with her sister through trestle glen, raising money for the golden gate bridge to be built by wearing maroon silk shirts to school, living off of grand avenue- just blocks from the house i am now packing up. jamie would cook: texas toast, chicken and dumplings, casseroles, and always try to feed me seconds and thirds. we would play mexican train, long lines of dominos stretching across the family room table.

here was this regular woman, in her 70's at the time, who had a lifetime of amazing stories. she was the inspiration for the public art grant i did in the city of oakland called "stories we tell", because i wanted people to hear the stories that women like jamie carry - stories that disappear unless we take the time to listen to them. our society is so quick to separate us all out into age categories, and the older, wiser members of us get pushed to the side and ignored. in the grand scheme of the world, i realize that most outside of her closest family members will even realize that jamie perry is absent. but her life, her stories, her marriage, her kindness, have made me a better woman. i hope my life is as long and as rich in generosity as hers was.

(listen to each other's stories)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

oh, i still ♥ fabio, even if he ignored our table

so, even though i've been remiss in blogging about my love for top chef, it is no secret that i ♥ project runway and top chef. it is no stretch when i love to cook...and those two shows remind me of art school, that they are the perfect reality show equation. of course, i don't have a tv, so i have to hunt it down and find where it has been illegally posted on sites like youtube. tricky wicky, i know. well, last week we got to hang out with our friends jeff and jenny, who also love top chef. we happened to adore the top chef contestant fabio, much like most of america. (who can resist his pithy sound bites and swoony italian accent? not i.) jeff had tried to get us reservations at fabio's southern california restaurant, but they were booked for 8-10 weeks. jeff decided to email the restaurant in the hopes that fabio would read it and hook us up with a table. so guess who calls jeff! yes, fabio himself (or a really good impersonator, which is entirely possible & would be a brilliant business move...)! jeff had told fabio that we had had a difficult year, and that as parents of babies, we'd love a night out. suddenly we had a dinner reservation! we were soooo excited.the restaurant is in this random strip mall in moorpark, next to a baskin robbins. but there is a cute vespa parked outside, to transport you to florence. one vespa doesn't quite do the trick when you are staring at a large nondescript parking lot, but it's a nice touch. we waited for a while for our table, while all the moorpark singletons mingled and tossed their highlighted locks. it was pretty much the scene, apparently; at least if you counted all the single ladies showing off their manicured fingers, glossy lips, and come hither glances. 
finally we got to sit at our table...
we spotted fabio, 
and his lookalike (who works there too) once we got inside.
jeff & jenny, who are wholly responsible for us getting to eat at cafe firenze.
we started out with a super delish caprese salad. 
they put a slice of parmagiano in between the basil, mozarella, and tomato; 
unexpected and super good. 
we also had a kind of standard green salad with poached pears, 
carmelized walnuts, & blue cheese. 
lamb shank & gorgonzola gnocchi with sauteed mushrooms. 
the gnocchi were little pillows of love. 
they were perfection. oh my deliciousness.
 i dream of these now on a nightly basis.
jeff brought along some veeeeery nice bottles of vino.
yay for good food and good friends!
grilled sausages over mashed potatoes and sauteed veggies. jenny picked this yummy number.
behold the power of the best ravioli i have ever experienced in my life.
butternut squash & ricotta ravioli in a sage & cream sauce. 
seriously, i would drive to moorpark just for these - 
they were sweet, savory, amazing.
for all of you meat lovers, a close-up of the lamb shank situation. 
(sporting a limb of rosemary as garnish)
this was my least favorite of the evening; 
it was ok, but not quite as epic as the other entrees: 
pasta with pancetta & some sort of sauteed greens. 
eh, i was happy with the ravioli and gnocchi, but this was just so-so.
so, we caught glimpses of fabio schmoozing it up at other tables, 
but by the time we were done eating and wanting to say hello, 
he had supposedly headed home for the night. 
oh well, we had fun chatting with each other.
a toast to friends, and to discovering new restaurants thanks to reality tv.
how do you top such a great meal?
not with baskin robbins (although it was our initial plan)...
you sing old hits from the 90's at the top of your lungs all the way home. 
it was just that perfect.

ps. fabio, you missed out!

my daughter's moves

little m's target: adorable younger (by 4 months) man, henry david.
she makes her move and beckons for henry to come play with her.
henry is woo-ed by her boldness & crawls towards m
henry make sit all the way across the room to sidle up to little m, 
where they share the toy box 
(which everyone knows means true love)
{today is a good day to feel the grass between your toes}

sometimes


sometimes my heart is sad when i realize how much my daughter is in appointments. i know it is just a season, and that soon she will rarely visit doctors and audiologists and speech therapists. soon she'll just get to be a kid. i have to say that the people we have encountered in so many different offices are absolutely wonderful; it is as much of a joy as it can be to go to our pediatrician, or labs, or specialists, or school. there are some incredible individuals working in the world of hearing loss, and for that gift i am so grateful. 

i keep saying to myself and others, "soon it will all slow down. not so many appointments..." but somehow they keep coming. this week is a perfect example, as we have had appointments all morning wednesday, today, and tomorrow. i put my poor girl into her car seat at 8 am, and then two appointments later, we pulled back into our driveway at 1:41 pm. almost 6 hours in medical offices or in the car. one of her appointments included a blood draw, and she was 3 hours past her nap, so she screamed her little heart out while i pinned her squirming body down on the table. (crunch went my heart)

in the midst of it all, she is so flexible and charming. i am grateful. so thankful for her joy even when the day is long and the schedule is ever-changing.