Wednesday, December 16, 2015

twinkle twinkle

merry, happy, joyous everything!
for my remaining two blog readers (thanks mom), you may remember that in past years i've done an experiential advent calendar with the girls; you can see a couple of them here, here and here.

this year i did nothing. that's right, nothing. i mean, we lugged all of the christmas gear out (later than usual), including the girls' many christmas books and decorations. and then.....nothing. sorry, kids, mama just doesn't have it in her this year. that said, we have done some of our annual advent activities, just not on a schedule. 

we have a tradition of going to a rural country tree lot, and hiking into the woods until we find the perfect tree, cutting it down, then carrying it back through the woods to our car driving to home depot. see? here we were a few years ago! it may not be very romantic, but it's convenient and....does it count as local?
then home to decorate! the girls wanted to help, so they did...and then i rearranged after bedtime. 
ruby doesn't want the ornaments to get lonely, so she bunches them in groups of two or three so they aren't alone. so sweet. so ruby. and then, yes, i still move them around into solo, lonesome ornaments after she goes to sleep. of course the next morning she comes downstairs, sees the rearranged tree, and puts them back with their "friends". 
the twinkling tree is so pretty. i love it.
we also went to our friends' house to have latkes and light the menorah. i think my children ate their weight in latkes (who wouldn't?)
on sunday the girls and i made these sparkly ornaments. 
they turned out pretty, but the process was anything but. how did i think that microglitter, liquid glue, glass ornaments and a very small opening for the microglitter to enter was a good idea with a five and seven year old? i mean really truly what was i thinking?! in the end the girls will not remember me shrieking at them, the glass shattering all over the floor, my impatience and frustration, and the fact that i did 78% of the crafting. so hopefully the holiday mayhem will be forgotten and warm, treasured memories substituted.         
oh, how could i forget? ruby also informed me that last week she told one of her fellow kindergarteners that santa doesn't exist, that it's just parents pretending. 
we are definitely going to be favorites among the parents in her grade. oops!

how about at your house? are you celebrating? is it a hot mess that kind of blurs into cozy holiday time like around these parts? are you making fun plans for next week? are you dreading the holiday? excited for it?

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

and on the 7th day they rested

sunday afternoon a few weeks ago:
one of the significant markers of my childhood was the way we spent our sundays. 

in our house, we practiced the sabbath in the christian tradition. there aren't a lot of specifications on what that means, aside from resting, but what that meant in our house was some iteration of the following: we went to worship at church on sunday morning, then came home and had a big meal- maybe friends from church came and joined us or we just ate as a family, then nap time for everyone in the afternoon, then hanging out as a family, then a supper from leftovers and if there was a church service at night, we went to that too.

some of sunday shifted and evolved as we got older, but in my most formative years it also meant NO TV, no homework, no housework, no shopping, no eating out. my brother wasn't allowed to play on sports teams that played games on sundays. if i went on a sleepover? my mom would pick me up in the morning to take me to church. it sounds like a lot of 'no's" but it felt more like a kind of vacation from life's routines in a house of four kids and two busy parents.

sometimes it was a huge pain, like when i really wanted to go to an event with a friend from school or when i hadn't finished a school project. group projects in high school? nope- wasn't allowed to go work on them on sundays. fun friend who wanted me to come over? off limits, unless it was a friend from church and i was going over to hang out with their family for the afternoon.

sometimes it was the best excuse- like aforementioned group projects in high school or when i didn't really want to go over to someone's house but i didn't feel like i could say "sorry, i don't really want to."

most of the time it was awesome. it was a mellow, restful day in the midst of a busy life. it was time to hang out without feeling guilty that i wasn't doing my homework. when i got older it was forced but organic hang-out with my siblings and parents, which i think it was actually really wonderful as the eldest sibling. it was freedom to play and rest and accomplish nothing at all. 

what's funny is that when i moved away to college i kept to much of the schedule, including naps in the afternoon and not doing any schoolwork. i still rarely do housework or work on sundays, and i love taking a nap or reading the paper on a sunday afternoon. 

i think my parents truly gave me a gift with the structure and rules we had, and as an adult, even as much as i race from one thing to the next during the week, it is my at-home feeling to have a sabbath. it feels like my childhood, and it feels right in my bones. matt and i have, since the beginning of our marriage, tried to make sunday a day of rest as much as possible, but we are leaning in to it even more right now. as we intentionally try to maintain a sabbath practice(with different guidelines - but the intent to rest, not work, allow ourselves to be still and enjoy doing nothing), i realize how counter cultural it is to stop feeding the machine of activity. it's hard! and yet, it does something deep inside of me. it gives me license to slow down. it feels like a radical act to spend a day of my week in which i am not consuming, not producing, not racing around, not in constant motion. my girls love it, because we play, read, cook, talk with them without the interruptions of our laptops, housework, phones. don't get me wrong- everything beckons: my to do list is just as long on sunday! but we are trying to make it a practice that gives our family the spiritual and emotional reserves to carry on life the other 6 days of the week.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

On right now

This Fall has been a transition time, as both my girls are in school all day now, and for the first time since both of my children were born I have five days to work. Over the last couple of years Ruby came home at 12, and was in preschool at the most 4 days a week, so my work time had begun to evolve slowly, but it was still pretty choppy. 

I had this idea that this Fall  (cue angels singing) I would suddenly knock out so much work: paintings, illustration concepts, a book rough concept, blog, update my website, and come up with some longer term goals for making art. Um........

It hasn't turned out the way I imagined. (Cut the angelic voices and insert the crickets)

The thing about my girls being in school is that somehow I've signed up for doing more at their school: field trips, helping run an art event, volunteering in their there have been about 68 minimum days and vacation days, which all adds up to way less productive time in the studio than I thought. 

So I am at a point where I am trying to figure out when and where to give my time, where to allow volunteering to cut in to my work schedule, what goals to lean hard into and what dreams or short term plans to let go for now. Historically I have said yes to too many things, and loved giving of myself, but then in retrospect felt that I was so available to others that I forgot to create space for my own work and needs.

I don't have any concrete answers right now, but I know that part of this soul searching is connected to feeling very 40, and realizing that there are things I want to accomplish that I haven't yet, and that I'm going to have to work hard and intentionally if I want these goals to happen. Suddenly I look around and I realize peers are mid-career, and I wonder what I am doing with my life. I'm not saying that in terms of comparison, because I very much have an internal voice pushing me towards making and doing. I am saying that out loud because being self employed and being an artist can be a very isolating endeavor in which you declare your own benchmarks and goals without community input or accountability, so here I am saying.... I'm trying to figure it out. 

How can I make and do right now with....what time I have, with the season I find myself in, with the resources I have or don't have, with the gift and responsibility of being a mother to two amazing girls? I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Snippets of fall

can't believe that it's almost Thanksgiving. This fall has raced by and somehow between my schedule and Instagram, I've once again allowed this blog to remain silent. Here are some moments capturing how this fall has sped by the last few weeks. 

Honestly it felt like summer until last week. It was still so hot here and it didn't feel at all like fall. Suddenly it rained hard all night long and most of the day, and almost as if someone turned on a switch it felt like fall. Blustery, a little chillier, windy, brisk air, cold enough at night for layers of blankets & the down comforters. Our house isn't insulated, so despite the fact that it isn't actually that cold out compared to many places, inside our house is freezing! 

A few glimpses....

Simple soup that I ate all last week! I call this handful soup because I throw in handfuls of whatever is in the cupboard or fridge.
I got an ear infection this weekend, so took some space for myself on the couch with some tea and trashy tv. (And yes we have a deaf child so I always watch subtitles… I just got into the habit even if she's not watching with me)
Went with my dear friends to Monrovia's deaf school gala. All I see in this picture (besides the two lovelies on the left,) are that my head looks gargantuan and I can see in my eyes and face the ear infection/head cold that I was battling hard! I love celebrating this school that was such a gift to our daughter and got her ready to mainstream. So grateful for the foundation of knowledge and support that has surrounded our family thanks to this incredible school.
Monrovia had her last soccer game! She scored a goal and had so much fun. I never would have predicted how much she'd love it. 
Fall colors! We don't get much out here, so don't laugh East Coasters.
Typical scene: my children taking over my bed!
Beautiful view of San Francisco from soccer practice
Time with family from both sides!
Morning traffic routine, exacerbated by the first rain. 
My girls setting up camp in my studio. Someday I'll forget that they take over and steal my best art supples, and I will reminisce about my small people hanging out with me while I made art.
Face timing with birthday cousin! File under: technology is incredible 
On the sidelines...
Birthday party action at perhaps Dante's unnamed tenth circle of hell: Chuck E. Cheese. (Or maybe it's just in one of my circles of hell.)
Kindergarten homework al fresco!
Post soccer
Matt has been surfing on Friday mornings- good for his soul, so therefore good for our family. 
We played hookie a couple of weeks ago and escaped to Stintson Beach!
Remembering those who have gone before us on All Saints Day
Monrovia has a straight up incredible teacher this year. I feel humbled that both of our girls have such good educators, and I would hope that all of our children would have the gift of teachers who are gifted, kind, and good at their jobs!
We've had countless amazing sunsets this Fall.
Rain?!? What? This drought is no joke. My kids' raincoats and boots totally don't fit  them, because of course it rains once a year here.
Molasses Lemon Curd Vanilla ice cream  Boom.
New bedroom color! I love it. Dramatic, brooding, cozy, dark...
Drop off routine, y'all. These kids are the cutest! I love our girls' school, in all of its strengths and weaknesses.
Tantrums. All the time everybody! 
Prepping canvases
Sketching & listening to podcasts.

So bring on the Fall. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Goodbye summer

Grateful for so many moments to play, run, rest, create, be still, race around, be with my girls, laugh, enjoy the goodness of the earth - the mountains and the beach and  even the desert. 

Another summer has drifted away 
and fall is beginning...

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Two Mary Oliver Poems on a day that I need them both

This morning I found out that someone who I've known for many, many years passed away quite suddenly. I had found out within the last few weeks that he had cancer, and then two days ago that he was going on hospice. My history with him was somewhat complicated and closely connected to my history with my dad. I've known him since I was 12 years old, and he was someone I went to when my relationship with my dad was unraveling to get wisdom, direction and support. The past few months I had been processing how to contact and reconcile with him. I don't know that he knew the grief and need for reconciliation on my part. Maybe he did, or perhaps not. He added me as a friend on facebook this summer, and I left it be & didn't respond. He was on my mind so much, and the fact that he'd moved to Oakland & that I would see him every so often forced me to think through if and when I wanted to talk to him. On Thursday when I found out he was untreatable I sobbed in my studio for a couple of hours. It was a combination of many feelings: loss, grief, regret, anger, sadness. And today, at the news of his passing from this life into the next, I am incredibly sad. He was a really good man who loved and was loved by so many. I think he loved my dad so deeply and when my dad, for once, wasn't very loveable he still supported him. That had consequences for me, but at the heart of it I know he was doing what he thought was best. His life is a great loss, and I regret so much that I wasn't ready sooner to seek resolution. And so I turn to poetry, because like painting and music, I find God there. 
A Settlement
Therefore, dark past,
I’m about to do it.
I’m about to forgive you
for everything.

When Death Comes

When death comes
like the hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse
to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox
when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,
I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?
And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,
and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,
and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,
and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.
When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.
When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.
I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.
I don't want to end up simply having visited this world


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

a short course on hearing loss in the classroom

this summer little m (now not so little 7!) asked if she could make a video for her new teacher explaining being deaf, her cochlear implants, and how to best help her in the classroom. we made it yesterday, just in time for the new schoolyear to start.

she first brainstormed a list with me about all the things she wanted to say, and then had me record her talking through each point. (i left out the one where she said sometimes she likes being deaf because she can take off her magnets and ignore people!) it made me incredibly proud of her, since one of our iep goals has been for her to become more of an advocate for herself. she covered so many of the things i would have had her say, and she spoke clearly and confidently. i am so thankful for this girl, and for all the ways she is learning and growing.

here's the video if you'd like to get schooled by a seven year old!

Friday, August 7, 2015

home sweet home

There is something about going home, to your people, your space, to whatever makes you feel rooted and whole. For Monrovia, we've found that one home for her is her old deaf school, where we took her from 7 months until she was almost 4. It is a trek for us, usually about an hour each way to get there, but it also is a place that changed our lives forever, and gave us an ongoing community of support and friendship that we still carry with us.

This summer we were able to go for one week of Alumni Camp, so every morning we piled into the car at 7 am to make the drive. As you can see, out of my two kids I have one morning person and one not-so-morning-person...
My favorite part of Alumni Camp is that feeling of going back to a place where you are known, and where other people share some of your experience. For Monrovia, she gets to be in a place where almost all of the kids have hearing loss- just like her. Since at her regular school she is the only kid with hearing loss (and she notices this), it is a special time.

Going into Camp with her friend Samantha...(Let me tell you how many times I have walked up and down the below stairs)
Morning Music started at 8:30, and even though Monrovia is now 7, she still loved it. And what can I say? I love it too. Monrovia used to sit in this same circle when she was barely walking. I love that she is now one of the old kids that the little ones can look up to, at the same time that she is singing and participating.

Monrovia's friend Kalia, who also lives in Oakland, was there for camp too. They were in class together when Monrovia was just 15 months old! Not so little anymore...
Monrovia's sweet class of kiddos, and their amazing teacher Lisa - who happens to be my dear friend and a mama to Monrovia's "sister" Lily. Her class theme was The Enchanted Forest, so they named themselves Peter Pan (in honor of the token boy in their class) and the Fairies. Love all of these sweet kiddos.
Monrovia and her friend Lily decided to be twins the first day, so they wore matching outfits, including headbands made to hold their cochlear implants. Melt my heart these two!
Meanwhile, while the big kids are at Camp all morning, the mamas had the younger siblings for a few hours. That usually (and historically) means hanging out at school, going to a park, going to Target and Whole Foods....After a long time apart, they old crew is back together!
Daily errands to the store...

Ruby with her first ever friend Ella. They've known each other since they were born, these two!
The big kids Enchanted Forest....

The kids made fairy houses
And made and wrote about their fairies...
Monrovia's friend Vivian led a cheer at Morning Music. People, these little kids yelling their little hearts out? All have hearing loss. I love it. It seriously never gets old.

Every day we would hang out after camp and eat lunch together. The mamas would talk and the kids would all play for as long as we would let them, running and chasing and imagining and shouting and throwing and being crazy.

Then back on the road, home to Oakland!
Here is the daughter, who is naturally a social, outgoing, friendly kid with lots fo friends, is most herself when she is back with her hearing loss friends. I can't quite explain it, but even though they are so young they are so at ease with each other. And for me, I get time with friends whose kids are on a similar journey. Even though people forget all the time that Monrovia is deaf, we never do. It is a part of our routine and family, and one that we wouldn't change. But when I see my mama friends, or to a degree Monrovia's former teachers and speech therapists, it is home for me too. We can cut out a lot of the explaining and just get right to the stuff that our kids are going through, the high and lows and the logistics of hearing loss that no one else really cares or knows about. So for a week, we got to go home to our people. To our history. To our roots. To safety for Monrovia and comfort for me. Grateful for a week of home.