Friday, April 30, 2010

the happiest of all

(happiest of birthdays to my husband)

today is matt's birthday.

this morning he is over at our new house painting some rooms so we can move in,
but first he woke up early and brought me a surprise latte.
(because that's the kind of wonderful he is)

last night i told him i was looking forward to the next 35 years of his life.
after all, i only got to be part of 15 of the first 35.
35 more years of living, learning, grieving, hoping, striving, laughing, disagreeing, and discovering more about each other in the process.

he'll never admit that he's as much of a handful as i am,
but he is.

before we got married, matt and i met with a bunch of different couples for advice and wisdom about marriage. one couple told us to never assume that you'd figured each other all the way out - they said one of the keys to a successful, happy marriage was to remember that your partner still has life experiences, stories, and new thoughts, even if you have been together for 40 years; that it begins to kill a relationship to act as if you know everything about each other, and to assume that you aren't both changing and growing over time. then you stop asking, wondering, learning about who this person you are spending life with is deep down.

matt makes this easy for me because i swear half the time i can't guess what his opinion will be on something. i kind of love that about him. (of course some days it drives me crazy, but it also keeps me on my toes & knocks me out of autopilot)

last year, when i posted about matt, my friend michele (who i have known even longer than i have known matt) wrote this comment:

I'm thankful for Matt because he loves you in a way that you need to be loved and because you are a truer version of yourself the longer you are with him.

she's right.

so in honor of my husband,
you should pick one or more of the following activities today:
listen to some punk rock
drink french wine
read an article in the new yorker
get into an impassioned discussion
share a meal with someone
eat at a total dive
at a super foodie spot
(just don't eat at a chain restaurant)
advocate for someone who can't advocate for themselves
drink some really strong black tea with a healthy dose of whole milk and sugar
sit quietly in a chair to prepare for your day
go on a run
find an impossibly difficult and obscure recipe and then attempt to replicate it perfectly the first time
sit and talk with someone for longer than you intended
hang out with a 2 year old

(here is to my marvelous enigma, my best friend, my number one fan, my counterpart in this journey of life, my handful, my beloved. happy birthday.)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

(our intrepid explorer checks out her new backyard)
coming soon..
matt's garden
aka his urban farm

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

it takes a village

i've been thinking lately about how that really is true- it has taken us a village to survive the last couple of years: as parents, as individuals, as a couple, as a beat down family, and now in the moving process.

in general, matt and i are extremely spoiled when it comes to childcare. we have friends and family who watch our daughter all the time so that we can go to counseling, run to appointments, go out for dinner, go to other weekly commitments, take breaks for no reason at all. i don't take it for granted for a second, and i realize that very soon (as in once this new baby shows up) we will probably be able to take advantage of this lovin' much less. m has INCREDIBLE biological aunts and uncles and grandparents, as well as adopted aunties, uncles, and special friends. i swear i am a better mom and wife because i have so much back up.

and now, this week- i am reminded again that when it comes to life, nothing beats a strong community of support. we got our keys friday night. it's wednesday. so far we have had quite the list of helpers- from packing to moving to painting to bringing food to washing my dishes to covering childcare. it isn't as if these people have nothing to do with their lives, but they are living out their values of caring for others. i love it and i hope i am as generous with my time as they are. (sometimes i think i would like to think i am more generous with my time than i really am. this is a reminder that whether i feel like or not, to help someone else out is the right thing to do.)

so far,
thank you
chrissy, pam, peter, courtney, nicole, chris, mark p., aaron, mom, becca, keith, jeff, damien, luke...
for helping us move.

if i had gold star stickers to pass out, i would.
but i think they're packed.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

baby bump!

...i don't know if this can really count as a bump when it is more like a mountain of baby that is extremely uncomfortable when one is trying to, say, roll over in bed or pick up a 28 pound two year old, but bump sounds so contained and cute, so i'll go with it. i figured i should take some pregnancy photos now that i am in the home stretch; i have been so delinquent this time around.

with not so much time to go, i am getting more and more curious...

little baby, are you a boy or girl?
what should we name you? (uh, yeah, a little delinquent in the naming area as well...)
will you like our crazy family? i hope so.

meanwhile, our friends nancy and keith find out today if they are having a boy or girl,
and i plan to live vicariously through their discovery!
(i really do like the surprise of finding out at birth,
but right around now i channel curious george and begin to wonder...)

Monday, April 26, 2010

ears or no ears

(happy monday!)
little m usually wakes up and then i leave her in her crib to adjust to being alive in the world for a while. lately she has been babbling and singing more and more during this morning wake up time. i find it kind of hilarious that she is in there talking, singing, making sound and since she doesn't have her implants on, she is completely deaf and can't hear a single thing she's saying.

this morning i could hear her carrying on quite the imaginary playtime: "jump baby, jump baby! (lots of random babbling) walk walk walk baby!" and then lots more babbling, which sounds like her baby "talking" to her other stuffed animals in her crib. and then a round of "row row row your boat" in perfect pitch. i finally peek in, and there she is, prancing her doll baby around and chatting her up. it is a miracle to me that even without her implants on, she is talking away, saying appropriate things, making believe with her toys.

friday morning matt, m and i went to grab pastries and coffee. m was chatting away and quickly became friends with the women at the table next to us. one woman asked, "how old are you?" "TWO!" m announced. "you are such a good talker!" the woman responded; m's implants were covered by her crazy morning hair so she had no idea she had implants. i wanted to interject, "And she's deaf! She's working so hard to listen and talk!" i was so proud of her.

i am so proud of her.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

home sweet home

well, it's official!
much to our poor beleaguered realtor's relief...& to our great delight...

after quite the long process with so many twists and turns, 6 failed offers, multiple unscrupulous other realtors and deals that fell through at the last minute, we signed our lives away...
FINALLY everything on our house went through so we are officially homeowners!

and i love love love it.
well, i love the potential of it!

matt wore his paint clothes to our new address when we met our relator to get the keys, and he has been working ever since.
he painted until late last night,
and then all day today he and our friend peter painted and moved boxes to begin clearing out our old house.
my poor daughter can hardly walk in our current place- boxes tower everywhere.

meanwhile, i am doing my best to keep this baby incubating for a few more weeks, so i am trying not to move a thing.
it is kind of killing me that matt is working around the clock and i am, well, not - but the alternative, of going into labor early and trying to move WITH a newborn is a lot worse.
so i'm dealing.

we are so excited to begin this new journey-
we know it will be a lot of work, but it feels like a new season for our family in many ways.
besides, we haven't had an actual dining room since our first year of marriage,
so 7 years later i can't wait to have a dinner party with a table and chairs.

come over and eat with us!
(maybe not this week- it's a little crazy right now)

happy weekend!

Friday, April 23, 2010


happy friday, friends!
well, this week has been eventful for sure - we may very well get keys to a house today...
or we may not.
the roller coaster continues.

our realtor told us the other day that this has been one of his most difficult contracts he has ever worked on (thankfully not because of us, but because of the sellers!)
at least that validates my feelings of "is it always this dramatic and crazy when you buy a house? i really don't remember my friends having so many twists and turns along the way..." all i know is that i could never work in the real estate business- too stressful and too much of a game for me.

but i the midst of it all, points of joy:
these amazing ranunculas that matt gave me this week.
they bring a little beauty to the stacks of boxes consuming our house &
remind me every time i look at them that i am madly in love with my husband.

sitting and talking with matt while he concocts a fun drink
(none for me of course, but so pretty to look at)

yesterday it was one of m's classmates 2nd birthday.
her mom judy whipped up these crazy creative garden/farm themed cupcakes which went along with our class unit right now at school.
um, amazing.
class mom, anyone?
she made all of these from top to bottom-including the little veggies on top.
we all have strengths, and let's just say that when it was m's birthday 2 weeks ago, i made my friend adriane's berry coffee cake for the class- really yummy, but not cute at all.
dance parties to the tune of m's musical winnie the pooh birthday card from her aunt becca and uncle mark. little m pulls her uncle johnny and friend justice into her personal dance-fest.

asparagus season. yum. one dinner this week i ate just one thing: a bundle of roasted asparagus.
and it was so good.

i love this moment.
post bath, post pj's, post stories and songs.
moments after putting her down, she is sound asleep.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

big day

(our front porch at the moment)

i was thinking earlier about how some of the biggest moments in life happen in the midst of the most mundane kind of days. today marked a pretty big milestone in our family's life, but it was also one of those regular old days where i folded about 8 loads of laundry, ran errands, caught up on my to do list, and went through a regular routine with m.

this afternoon, matt and i headed to the title company to sign our lives away...well, not really, but we did sign a huge stack of papers on the house! then we traipsed to the bank and wired a massive amount of money out of our account to cover the downpayment and closing costs. it looks like it will still be about a week before we get the keys because things have been pretty slow on the seller's end of things, which is disappointing because matt took a week off of work to paint and move in. alas, it's kind of out of our control- sort of like everything else has been in this housebuying journey. today at the signing, our realtor told us that this house has been one of the most difficult he's ever worked on. awesome. it felt pretty complicated and stressful along the way, but who am i to know what is par for the course in all of this?

all i know is this: we are going to own a house- for all of the positives and negatives of that...(don't worry- i know there are plenty of drawbacks) for the moment i am sticking to the positives- including that i get to pick paint colors at will & knock out unnecessary walls & have dinner parties with an actual dining room rather than sitting on the couch in our livingroom with a plate on my lap)

(p.s. my secret wish is this: that things will miraculously speed along, that the sellers would suddenly become cooperative & speedy and that we would get the keys this weekend...i'm not holding out hope- but it would be a nice treat since i am due in a MONTH. as in 4 weeks. as in 30 days. just saying. this baby better not come early...)

Thursday, April 15, 2010


i am working away on some new card concepts, trying to crank something or other out, so not much time to blog. oh, that reminds me that i keep meaning to post some of my new cards that are out- go buy them up by the armload my friends! i'll try to remember to post them soon.

i will say this:
this is my daughter.
in the bath.
meticulously brushing a foam doll's "hair" with a baby brush.
little mommy is either going to love being a big sister, or completely hate it.
remains to be seen in about a month (not that she has much choice)...

also, looks like we are full steam ahead on the house and should sign papers and close by the end of next week? wow.

makes me a bizarre mix of totally exhausted, thrilled and delirious just thinking about it.

finally, i am 35 weeks pregnant. i get tired. so maybe i take naps here and there. somehow my next door neighbor, who is retired and is home pretty much 24 hours a day, has a nap sensor and decides EVERY time i am going to take a nap that he is going to use a power tool. like a table saw. or imagine something louder than that, because i don't really know tool names. i swear he is building an ark, because it happens almost every day and it is so freaking loud that even very sleep deprived me cannot fall asleep through the hubbub. it is one time when i think, "hmmm. he is really lucky i have a deaf daughter because i would be all up in his business if she wasn't." no way she would be able to sleep if she could hear.

the end.
back to work.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

sneak peek

i got scolded the other day by my friend kristy for mentioning that we were in the roller coaster of possible home ownership and then since i wrote that post, not posting a single picture of the potential casa.

sorry- it has felt so up in the air that i've been trying not to get too excited.
or preemptive in my house blogging for that matter...

i should say this:
we are veeeerrrrrryyyy close to signing papers
(- originally we would've closed this thursday, but things have gotten delayed by about a week)
but this house is not ours-
quite yet.

but, it seems about 99% that things are going to go through, so i figured i'd give a sneak peek of our new place to be...

i can't help it-i'm already planning paint colors...
future changes...
beginning to pack (which matt is really not happy about)...etc etc.

so fun. can't wait!
(i'm sort of ignoring the reality that baby #2 is due in 5 weeks,
and that all of my amazing plans may be postponed a little due to a newborn in the house.)

(these aren't the best photos;
i just snapped a few as we did a walk through inspection a few weeks ago...
there are random items of furniture, etc. in some of these pictures.
it will make for good before and after pics!)

the front of the casa
the livingroom looking into the diningroom on the right & the breakfast nook on the left
part of the kitchen

and this is the random third bedroom downstairs
that makes me feel like i am in a cabin or on a boat or just stuck in 1972:
built in bunk beds anyone?
faux brick linoleum?
so fun to envision what could be!
(sorry nancy, the bunkbeds will be on their way out)
hoping all goes smoothly!
i'll keep you updated...

Monday, April 12, 2010

a day of all around awesome

april 12th (today) marks the births of three people in my life who have significantly shaped who i am as a person. since all three of them happen to be great, i have decided that people born today must be, as a rule, awesome.

happy birthday to my uncle arthur!
one of the gifts of my jaunt back to michigan in march was that i got to see my mom's sister fern emma and her husband arthur for lunch. they are both so dear to me, but i am so grateful for my uncle- not just for the many conversations we've had over the years, but also for the profound impact he has had on my mom's life. my uncle is kind of like a brother to my mom (she is one of 6 girls.) he is a patient and tender hearted, and i value the times i've gotten to sit down and talk to him. it has been a treasure to me to have his support and love as i have grown up, and especially recently in the midst of so much damage in my immediate family. (uncle arthur, this is a gentle reminder to book a flight to come visit us in oakland!)

happy birthday to shelly, or as i like to call her, my mamabear #2!
shelly has known me since i was about 7 years old, and she has endured every one of my glorious stages in life (good and downright awful) just like a parent would & loved me through all of them, even when i wasn't so pleasant to be around. she is an old school member of "the mommy network," so i know she is always keep abreast of the latest drama in my life and my siblings lives. when i need another mom to talk to, she is the first number i call. she has counseled me & encouraged me (and chastized me) from across the country for years, and i consider myself an honorary daughter to her. i don't know what i would do without her loyal and consistent presence in my life. when my life exploded in my face, i called her within minutes and we got her on a plane as soon as we could to come support our whole family. (shelly, this is your gentle reminder to book a flight to come visit oakland!)

happy birthday to little m!
two years old. oh goodness, i never could have predicted the twists and turns of the last two years since my daughter was born. somehow she has taught me more about faith, hope, joy, patience, and gentleness than the 30 odd years leading up to her birth. what a treasure she is to both matt and i. what a miracle it is to watch her grow and learn and change daily. i am so honored to be her mom and to share this journey with her. i hope she will be gracious to me in my many failings as a parent.

i am only able to be a good mom to her because i have had the gift of such a warm, supportive community- yes, in the last two years, but also in the years leading up to her entrance into our family. people like arthur and shelly (and so so many others) who have taught me what it is to love well regardless of the season of life you find yourself in. i am grateful.

happy birthday to all three of you-
such different people, a different number of candles,
different spots on the map and in my life,
but you all make me better.


more blog to come later today,
but for now my sweet little monkey turns TWO years old on this very day,
so we are headed out to celebrate!

see you later!
happy birthday to you, my firstborn.
happy labor and delivery anniversary to me!

Friday, April 9, 2010

how time rushes by

this week two sets of friends gave birth to baby girls!
my friend xuchi & her husband welcomed nuala,
and jennifer and her husband luke welcomed flora.

(welcome to this world little ones)

this morning matt, monrovia and i went to the hospital where jennifer gave birth to flora yesterday to drop off treats and coffee. it happens to be the same hospital where m as born almost (just two days shy!) two years ago, and as i thought of my feisty, silly daughter racing around the hospital courtyard while i went to visit this 16 hour old newborn girl, i thought of just how quickly time races by.

here is m, wearing my shoes, traipsing around the livingroom, desperately wanting to be a big girl (and thinking that she is).

it seems like moments go that i was cradling her tiny, brand new body in my arms in a hospital bed, marveling that she had been inside of me and now was out in the world and a part of our family.

it is a treasure, this time.

these mundane days of play and naps and meals and laughter and temper tantrums and sickness and school and learning and screamfests and trips to the park and the store and the library. it goes so quickly. m is no longer a baby- now she is a girl.

in a month or so i will be back in that hospital bed, holding another little life in my arms, marveling at his or her soft head and flailing arms, discovering this second baby's temperament and personality. and then before i know it, that child will be racing around, trying to wear shoes that are too big, trying to keep up with his or her big sister.

so i tell myself,
slow down. enjoy. soak it up. remember. be patient. write things down.
hug & kiss & tell my daughter that she is a delight and wonder
and that i am so glad to be her mommy.

(slow down & cherish the day you're given)

Monday, April 5, 2010

a new chapter

for the past 12 months, matt, m and i have had the best next door neighbor.
my mom.
here are our two doors-
hers on the left, ours on the right.
last week, my mom moved to her new place (which is still very close to us
but nothing like right next door.)

i'm so sad she is no longer next door to us
(and probably even more sad is little m, who loves knocking on "ma's" door to visit.)

it begins a new, healing chapter for my mom as she makes her new house into a refuge, a place of peace, a landing spot for her grandchildren, a home.

yesterday we celebrated easter as a family by having a picnic on her dining room floor.
in so many ways i feel like it launched a new era in our family.

in the old days,
when my mom and dad were married & it was pre-family-upheaval,
we had a list of family traditions on easter.
the morning began by
waking up to easter baskets from the "easter daddy" (in lieu of the easter bunny), complete with flour "bunny" footprints leading to each basket.
we had a big easter dinner after the morning church service.
all the kids showed up, and usually anyone who didn't have a family easter meal to go to came along to our house, so the table was packed with people, chairs and food: ham, mashed potatoes, my mom's rolls, pies for dessert.
after lunch we would have an easter candy hunt in the house, and my mom and dad would hide candy all over the downstairs in nooks and crannies: inside drawers, tucked into plants, snuggled atop picture frames, nestled in couch cushions.
we would get to race to gather candy,
youngest to oldest,
and my brother jonathan and matt would always win,
their plastic grocery bags heaviest and fullest.
(they both totally cheat)

yesterday was a little different.
my mom doesn't have a fridge yet,
or a working oven,
or a dining room table set up,
or the heat turned on,
we had an easter potluck picnic!

my brother aaron is on a trip to costa rica this month, so he was gone, but matt, m, my sister rebecca, her husband mark & their cutie pie sadie, and my brother jonathan joined my mom for our easter feast.
we gathered on a quilt on her dining room floor to eat,
reheating our potluck food in the toaster oven, the microwave and in a crock pot.
we strayed from our "traditional" ruff family easter meal, but mmm....
it was yummy:
spring vegetable soup,
my mom's delicious rolls (one holdover from old school easter),
braised asparagus & shiitake mushrooms,
potatoes au gratin,
roasted pork loin....

and then,
for dessert,
my sister and mom made
homemade peanut butter chocolate eggs & coconut chocolate eggs.

and it was a different kind of day-
a little impromptu,
space heaters set up to keep us warm,
paper towels for napkins,
plates and silverware brought from my sister's house,
no crowded table full of people,
no easter candy hunts,

just our little family
starting a new chapter
sharing food on the floor of my mom's new home
the promise of many meals, grandkid sleepovers, conversations, and celebrations
in the years to come

and so somehow,
in its imperfection
it was absolutely perfect.

Saturday, April 3, 2010


our first sweet pea blossoms!
(welcome spring!)

Friday, April 2, 2010

good friday

today marks good friday
and it is dreary outside
cold and gray
which seems fitting for the day
followers of jesus

to me,
always seemed the most fitting single image of christ on a cross
deity submerged in waste
the beauty and filth of the world intermingled
a glimpse of glory
not yet realized...

a poem for good friday:

Andres Serrano, 1987, by Andrew Hudgins
If we did not know it was cow’s blood and urine,
if we did not know that Serrano had for weeks
hoarded his urine in a plastic vat,
if we did not know the cross was gimcrack plastic,
we would assume it was too beautiful.
We would assume it was the resurrection,
glory, Christ transformed to light by light
because the blood and urine burn like a halo,
and light, as always, light makes it beautiful.

We are born between the urine and the feces,
Augustine says, and so was Christ, if there was a Christ,
skidding into this world as we do
on a tide of blood and urine. Blood, feces, urine—
what the fallen world is made of, and what we make.
He peed, ejaculated, shat, wept, bled—
bled under Pontius Pilate, and I assume
the mutilated god, the criminal,
humiliated god, voided himself
on the cross and the blood and urine smeared his legs
and he ascended bodily unto heaven,
and on the third day he rose into glory, which
is what we see here, the Piss Christ in glowing blood:
the whole irreducible point of the faith,
God thrown in human waste, submerged and shining.

We have grown used to beauty without horror.

We have grown used to useless beauty.