Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Breathing Space

(This is the view from Rich & Bev's bedroom)
At the beginning of August we drove down to spend some time with Matt's aunt and uncle, and the experience was such a gift to us. Richard and Bev have lived at the Vajrapani Buddhist Retreat Center in Boulder Creek (kind of Santa Cruz Mountains, I guess) for a very long time. I think it's been about 30 odd years since they first began living there. In some way the place itself is like their child - they have lived to see it grow from just a vision to a place of community, retreat and teaching. We've never made it down there to visit, which seemed sort of silly since we live only an hour or so away, so we made it a priority to go see them during our vacation.

M and Great Aunt Bev have storytime
Ruby doing what she does best- snuggling
It is really a commitment to live where they do: after driving lots of winding roads you drive on a gravel road for a while. Then once you finally get there, it is a little hike up to their home (hence the amazing view that they wake up to every morning!) I was amazed that they hike up and down to their house every day when they head to work. I am still not quite sure how it happens when it is rainy or dark, but somehow they do it!

Matt and Rich talking
Rich showing M a prayer wheel. Inside are hundreds of prayers, so when you spin it, it is a physical action to represent these prayers being released, much like Tibetan prayer flags represent the prayers printed on the flags blowing in the wind and being sent out into the world.
The land they live on is quite beautiful and peaceful - we went for a couple of long walks to see the property and to enjoy the trees and trails. M loved feeling the moss on the trees, exploring the house that has been built on top of and out of an ancient gypsy bus, and looking out from the showers that are built to overlook the entire forest! Can you imagine taking a shower in a wooden shower with a huge open window (no one can see in at you because you are up high overlooking the scenery) that looks out over thousands of trees? A whole lot more beautiful than our dingy, soap scummy shower stall. Just saying.

It felt so removed from our urban neighborhood, and it was so interesting for us to hear about their experiences living on this land for so many years, as well as to see glimpses into their relationships and routines. Even though we hold some different practices or beliefs, I respect this incredible journey they have been on (and continue to walk.)

In our conversations and time there I was struck at the ways that Rich and Bev's spiritual practices as Tibetan Buddhists inform every aspect of their life: their free time, the location where they live, their vocations, their vacations, the use of their money, even the way they have built and decorated their home. The layout of their small house encourages meditation and study, it seems as if there are spiritual books on almost every surface and the walls are covered with photos and images that allow them to reflect. There is no question as you spend time in their space that their time, energy and lives are directed toward these spiritual practices. They both devote considerable time to retreat or meditation.

M goes for a ride
 Matt and I desire to live in the way of Jesus, and this day spent with his aunt and uncle made me think about our own spiritual practices as well. Are our lives marked by generosity, hospitality, kindness, study of Jesus' life, grace and love? I thought about how we would orient our lives and our home to reflect these practices. I left feeling like their choices are all very intentional, and hoping that there is integrity in my own choices, and an intentionality about how and why I do things.

Monday, August 30, 2010

our very own summer reading program

freddy, ruby, zachary and little m
(note the squinty, scowl-y expression on my face. sadly, that expression gene is strong because m makes that face ALL THE TIME)
This summer Little M did the Summer Reading Program at the Oakland Library. Um, it was awesome. We read books anyway, so just by keeping track she won prizes! First she won a metallic frog slap bracelet. (Remember those?) Hours of fun and laughter all wrapped up in a trinket. Then she won a pack full of coupons: free ice cream at Fentons, tickets to Fairyland, the Space and Science Center, a meal at Pasta Pomodoro. So fun!

We have some neighbor boys who frequent our house. Freddy (9), Jeremiah(7) and Zachary(6) are brothers and they stop by all the time to play or see what we are up to. Sometimes I am not exactly thrilled when they come by and hit the doorbell 53 times in a minute - especially because it tends to coincide with when Ruby has just fallen asleep or when I am miraculously taking a nap.

Right around when M was raking in the big money prizes through the library, the boys came by one day when M was wearing her frog bracelet. They thought it was pretty spectacular & I told them she won it at the library for reading books. I asked if they wanted to read with us, so right there and then we started our impromptu summer reading program on our front porch. Some days Little M was napping or uninterested so it was just Zachary and me, hanging outside, reading books and eating snacks. Today was the first day of school, so maybe our little al fresco reading sessions will be over for good? The only thing is my reading program doesn't come with any dazzling prizes. Just my awesome company.

Home Sweet Home

Somehow this pool already feels very far away. Sigh.
To think I was enjoying it just a couple of days ago.
(Apparently Ruby is not a fan of aquatic adventures)
After three very full weeks of visiting friends, family, and dear ones, and after trekking through Northern California all the way down to San Diego and hitting up lots of places in between, we are home. As we drove up our street Little M shouted, "Home! I want see my's purple room at home!" I guess she was ready to be back in her own spot again.

So today I have been unpacking, grocery shopping, opening mail, and settling in. I probably owe you an email or a phone call because we completely dropped off the face of the earth this month. It was, I admit, kind of nice to feel disconnected from our routine.

Tomorrow is the first day back at school. Last year I was so excited, and for a bunch of reasons that I don't need to get into, I don't have that same anticipation this year. Before M was born, and before we knew she was deaf, we never would have planned to have her start school so early. (She started going to therapy and an infant group at 6 months old.) This year she will be going to class 3 days a week, from 8:30 in the morning until noon. That means a long day for a toddler (and her baby sister). It takes an hour to get to her school, so we leave the house by 7:30 at the very latest and won't get home until 1 in the afternoon at the very earliest.

I guess it all makes me want to guard the rest of her childhood even more fiercely - from such a young age she has been in structured environments, actively being encouraged to think, to follow directions, to participate. There are a lot of benefits to this I'm sure, but I also want to make sure she has time and space to just imagine, play, discover, dawdle, and be a kid.

P.S. Even though I am a fan of channeling e.e. cummings and rocking all lower case on this blog, I am flirting with using correct punctuation. I figure it might make this blog more readable. Thoughts?

Friday, August 27, 2010

oh blog

sigh, vacation is almost over. 

santa cruz, sonoma, tomales bay, ventura, san diego, back to ventura, orange county, and tomorrow, off to fresno.

oh yes, you read that correctly. we are completing our vacay in the glamorous and exciting bastion of heat known as fresno, california.

a little less saucy than san diego, and waaaay more hot than any of the places we've hit up on our trip. however, matt's grandma lives there, and we try to visit her when we can, so off to fresno in triple digit heat it is!

for the record, driving a 1992 toyota corolla with air conditioning that has seen better days with an infant and toddler does not make for the most pleasurable vacation experience. just saying. otherwise? vacation has been glorious. the transportation portion? not so much.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

3 months of lovin

3 month old snugglebug
happy three months old today, sweet ruby!

you are snuggly, 
patient (when your big sister body slams you or wants to hold you), 
fascinated with ceiling fans, 
full of smiles, 
discovering the delight of kicking your legs, 
wide-eyed at this world, 
happy as can be to nurse at all hours-when you pause from eating to smile up at me,
good natured,
fixated on getting your entire fist into your slobbery little mouth,
my little swaddled houdini- 
you wriggle your way out of a double swaddle and yet won't sleep without it,
and a delight.
stealing kisses at the beach
we really like you around here.
thanks for putting up with all of our crazy shenanigans!

Monday, August 23, 2010

logging off

Lucky ducks are we - I know. We are still on vacation. Matt gets 4 weeks of vacation a year, so usually we take the whole month of August, but this year we are only taking 3 weeks. We have a week to go before we head home to the daily grind. I have tons of mental blogs written, so maybe I will finally get around to posting them. Usually on vacation I actually like having uninterrupted blog time, but this time around we have been staying places that don't have access to the internet.

It's been a little weird (I have to admit) to be offline for so long. I ran to a Starbucks last week to check email and do a couple of online errands, and I realized that I am so used to having access to my laptop and the internet that it felt kind of uncomfortable not to have the capability to connect instantly.

For a long time I have struggled with quiet. This may sound strange when I have two kids; you would think I would long for rest and silence. And of course in some ways that's what I think I would like. But the reality is that I have acclimated to the noisiness of always having some sort of information streaming in. I like to have music or podcasts on while I clean, work on freelance or work in the studio. I read blogs or watch something online while I nurse. I listen to music in the car, and watch the TV's up at the gym when I work out. I listen to my ipod when I walk.

I think about years ago, when I didn't have a laptop, and then years before that, when I didn't even own a computer. Did I think more? Dream more? Imagine more? Hope and pray more? Sometimes on this vacation I have realized that when I fill in all of my empty spaces with the activity and noise of the internet: blogs, podcasts, music, tv, that there is no space left for me to generate ideas and thoughts of my own. This isn't to say that I am going offline, but it gives me pause to consider how and when I want to integrate the internet into my life.

I've done a lot of internal work that last year or so, and that has taken a great deal of energy and intentionality. I think in a lot of ways I have wanted to escape thinking any more on a deeper level after doing so much mental and emotional work. Anyway, good to be away from home, with time to think and rest (as much as one can rest with an infant and toddler.) Lots to share, so I'll be back soon.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


i've been frolicking with the fam as matt has three weeks of vacation this month, so i'll pop in now and again on the blog, and then be back with more in a few weeks. so far we are having a great time!
check in for posts, but they will be kind of randomly posted. (um, sort of like all summer i guess)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

oh, to be young again

just kidding. 
35 is the new 25, right?
tomorrow i am taking my friend linda, along with my girls, to my alma mater, the super fantastic uc davis. (go aggies!) she is going to be a senior this year, and is looking into colleges. she just got back from a trip through southern california looking at schools, and now i get to take her to davis for the day. i loved college. i loved davis. i am hoping i don't just spew my love for davis all over her and scare poor linda off.

that said, if you went to davis (and i know a few of you did..), where would you take her to show off the campus and city (or town or village? what is davis anyway?)?

i had such a great college experience and i want her to have one too- even if she goes somewhere else. so for the rest of you, any words of sage wisdom...things you wish you had known when you were 17 about college? about picking a college? about life? what she should look for in a school?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


this afternoon we have m's first audiology appointment since january. she's been really temperamental lately and it's hard to know if the cause of her whining and fussiness is her ear infections (which she has been getting almost constantly), her implants somehow bothering her (which happened before when 2 of the electrodes had to be turned off), or her just being 2 years old.

i am kind of hoping it has to do with ear infections, because i like that problem more than i like her whining just for the sake of whining...and i like it way more than her implants having more issues. the more electrodes that get turned off the greater the chance that we may have to have another surgery and put in a new internal component.

i feel like these appointments always stress me out - my sweet feisty daughter is not always the most cooperative in booth tests, and i always wonder how accurate her results are. hopefully we'll find out that her implant settings are absolutely wonderful, and that she is hearing as well as possible at this point. in the least we know she is getting a lot of sound input since she is talking so much and hearing even very quiet sounds.

here's the thing

six, count 'em, six strollers.

i never thought i'd be traveling in a pack.
in my pre-kid day i remember sitting in coffee shops as a herd of strollers filled with itty bitties came in, kids all the same age more or less, moms chatting away and wrangling their children. some days it was annoying because they would completely take over whatever space we were sharing.

funny how things change.
now i'm one of the stroller-pushers.

double trouble

look at these two partners in crime.
we are so in trouble.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

happy tuesday

happy tuesday!
someone has decided to start rocking a smile lately. melt my heart, why don't you, ruby
this morning we are headed to fairyland! last summer we went to fairyland with m's friend from school, vivian. they were so little back then! and m had almost no language at that point. my, how things have changed in a year!

little m (looking very grownup) on one of the merry go rounds at fairyland last week when we accidentally showed up to meet our school friends a week early. oops! well, we had a wonderful time...just me and the girls!
i love fairyland because it is the epitome of old school, as not much has changed since it first opened years ago. it is the perfect place for toddlers to explore in a sweet, low tech way.

have a great day!

Monday, August 2, 2010


on saturday i headed to the renegade craft fair in san francisco with my mom and sister. oh, and i took ruby too, since she is a one-woman feeding machine, and pretty much snacks around the clock.

there was a country music festival happening right next to the craft fair and apparently, i missed the memo that the uniform was super short denim cutoff shorts and cowboy boots since every female we saw heading to that event was wearing that ensemble except for us. oh well.

i went last year with matt and monrovia, and trying to navigate this space (see below) with a one year old was pretty much impossible and not so much fun. imagining a two year old running amok in this scene? uh, not feasible.
lots and lots of people!

so matt stayed home with m. with the help of my mom and sister, i pulled off some slick mom moves and fed ruby while sitting on the not so clean ground. i was pretty impressed with myself.
she looks a little scared, but she slept on me almost the entire time
and with her fauxhawk she fit in nicely with all of the hipsters and craftsters
here's the thing: i would be a way better blogger if i had actually used the camera i decided to bring to document cute stuff. suffice it to say, my wallet left lighter & i own more trinkets (as matt likes to say)!
there was nooooooo parking anywhere nearby, we trekked at least half an hour to and from our car, critiquing all of the multi-million dollar homes on our way.  (an observation: more money does not automatically equate better taste. )

i have to say, it was pretty inspiring to look at so many makers' work. a lot of it looks similar or at least shares an aesthetic, but nonetheless it was refreshing and inspiring to think about the value of craft and workmanship and creativity in this land of huge target and walmart stores and mass produced stuff with little gold 'made in china' stickers slapped on.

come along next time! i promise- it's worth the long walk to parking.