29 December 2009

In with the new

I am a paper girl. Or maybe I was a paper girl. Not sure yet. But this year, as I opened every holiday card that came in the mail with a sort of "Oh, they had their &$%^ together", I kept thinking I would just get something printed and at least send it out before the end of the year. And then, as this creation began to take shape, I saw what it could be - that it could be emailed.

It could be emailed. It could be emailed!

And so, for the first time in my entire life, I did not send out a paper holiday card. And, as I saved on stamps and paper and most importantly time, I realized this might just become a new tradition.

For the "outtakes" of our photobooth experience, click here.

25 December 2009

First Christmas

Here's our Christmas baby. And yes, he has a screwdriver in his mouth. Or at least the handle of a screwdriver. That's what happens when all the big boys get remote controlled helicopters that need tools and batteries and extra parts and repair within an hour.

But really, it's just the handle. Don't worry.

19 December 2009

Buy handmade

Tis the season for craft fairs. Seems there is one every weekend.

I went to the Bizare Bizaar last weekend - and actually left my wallet in the car. You see, we decided this year to forgo presents. There are a few little tricks up my sleeve for my husband and a few things for other family members but we have freed ourselves this year from the "oh, my god, what am I going to get for so-and-so" or "I spent more money on her present but its really small in size, so it looks like nothing compared to the cheapo things that so-and-so got that make up a tower of gifts." And can I say - there is an immense freedom in not giving store bought gifts and there is an immense amount of time I have available to do anything else but shop.

This year the gifts are of time, togetherness and craftsmanship - My wish from my husband was to have our music situation figured out - all CD's uploaded, IPOD synched, itunes accounts merged. The whole shabang. We'll see if that actually happens.

So going into last weeks fair, I knew there was nothing I needed. But what happened was that I realized that there was also nothing that I wanted. Perhaps living in less than 700 sq feet makes me more aware of what comes in, or maybe I just feel full - full with all the stuff we already have. Or maybe, I just feel content and happy, and aware that nothing material actually makes the good, content feeling stay for very long.

However, I am always curious who is making what and how and how much. And sometimes, there are little treasures that stand out. So, I take their cards, look them up and save them for the day when in fact a little retail therapy is just what the doctor ordered.
This year's treasures are:

I saw them last year. See photo above. I love everything - their website, their photography, their business card. This year, I wanted the moonshine t-shirt for the nugget. But somehow I just couldn't do the $35 pricetag. Next year.

Katy Kristin
Handmade hedgehog. Stuffed. Enough said.

Bird Mafia
New this year. Strange and whimsical felted cubes in the shapes of animals - my favorite was the owl. Nugget seemed to be intrigued.

One of a kind baby and kid clothes made from recycled fabrics. Adorable. Just adorable.

The nugget and I whirled through the crowds, grabbed cards and then slipped right back out the door, as quietly as we had entered. I will go to Renegade tomorrow - because I get inspired that people are creating, making, recycling, reinventing and repurposing. And I get happy when I see people supporting handmade. We'll see if I can leave there empty handed as well.

17 December 2009

Slow down, you move too fast..

I wasn't really reading the NY Times in April - I was navigating those first blissful and hazy weeks of new motherhood. So it is no surprise that I missed this article/conversation with Carl Honore, author of Under Pressure, a book about what has been termed the "slow parenting" movement.

And really, the article is worth reading and I hope the book is worth reading too, as I just placed it in my shopping cart - Christmas present to myself.

This is a topic I think about everyday - everyday as I watch the nugget navigate his world and then watch how I react to him. As he has gotten more capable, I have wanted to become more capable - more productive, more efficient, more like the old me. But the old me didn't have a little side kick. So there is no old me to go back to. So when I drag him around - to get groceries at Trader Joes, ink cartridges at OfficeDepot and vegetables at Rainbow - and he at some point breaks down in the basket of yet another shopping cart, I think to myself...what am I going so fast for? What does he need? And really, he just wants my attention. He wants me to stop and look at the ceiling fan that is spinning above. He wants me to stop and see the woman filling the bins with multi-colored grains. He wants me to stop and see what he is all seeing for the very first time. He wants me to see what I take for granted every day.

What I like about the author is that he defines slow parenting not as snails pace or slow pace, but the right pace. It doesn't mean being slow, it means choosing the right speed. The right speed for the place, the time, the location, the child, the situation. And knowing what pace to take means paying attention, lots of attention.

I have noticed lately how much I want to speed things up. I see toddlers with their trikes and think about which one to get for the nugget. Or Duplos or Brio or Playmobile. All those fun things in our future, but really, I still have a baby. A baby who sticks anything and everything into his mouth, who is just figuring how to scoot across the floor on his tummy and who is amazed when he can pull himself on anything that will hold his weight. That is where we are - that is where he is. There is nothing to push or hurry.

But we are in a forward thinking culture - better, bigger, faster. And we want to do what is best for our babies - give them the best, offer them the best, be the best, make them the best. But in this race, I think that we are forgetting to stop and reflect and then we say "I don't know where the time has gone." or "Enjoy this stage, because before you know it, they will be asking for the car keys." So obviously, time moves at its own momentum, without us pressing fast forward.

There is indeed a time to every purpose under heaven. For now, let them be babies. Let them need you. Let them sleep in the middle. Let them play longer. Let them be fascinated with ceiling fans.

16 December 2009

iphone envy

On Wednesdays, the nugget goes on a date with his girlfriend. Her name is Alex. Some might call her a babysitter, I call her an angel. She gives me sanity and peace and time to just be by myself. And when I get home, they are both all smiles - I never really know who is enjoying themselves more.

She has an iphone and took this picture. And then she emailed it right away. I love it because it is simply a snapshot of a moment in time - a smirk that she just happened to catch at exactly the right moment.

So, I think I envy her iphone. I think I might be the last person on earth without one - I mean, my mom even has one. Go figure.

15 December 2009


It's inevitable - whenever I think, "Um, something is up. I wonder what is going on with the nugget", I open up the big red book and sure enough the world has changed again.

The nugget world that is.

This time it is the world of categories, in which his little brain starts to realize that some things belong together in groups while other don't. It is a developmental leap that involves his whole being and every sense he's got - sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. So, it makes only sense that he tires easily, cries easily and has the most serious, pensive look on his face, most of the time.

This developmental leap tends to have many defining characteristics, but the ones that seem extremely pertinent to us at the moment are:

- Gets bored easily
- Gets anxious and frustrated when mom walks around
- Demands mama's full attention, even if he is interested in something else
- Sweet + Sour (or I like to call this Jekyl + Hyde) - one minute sugar and spice and the next, well...I can't use that word here
- Listlessness (moments of staring into space)
- Hating the diaper changing routine
- Babyish regression (wobbly, needy, etc)
- Whimpering, all day long

Sound familiar anyone?

What I have to trust, is that again, this too will pass. And that it is my job to love him even the rough patches - even the grating-on-my-nerves whimpering.

My job to love it all. My job to love it all. My job to love it all. My job to love it all. My job to love it all.

14 December 2009


Usually when something crosses my path twice, from two different sources of equal influence in my life, I pay attention. The first time I heard about Babies, I was intrigued. The second time, I knew I needed to write about it.

This is the story - of four babies, in four countries - Mongolia, Namibia, United States and Japan - during their first year of life. How, in the end and I suppose at the beginning, our similarities are universal, our differences not that important. A baby, is a baby, is a baby - no matter where you are.

I have been thinking about this subject with every new decision I have to make concerning the nugget. During our travels the year before he was born, we saw babies in slings on 8 year olds in Laos, babies in hand-made hammocks in Thailand, babies on 6 hour bus rides in Ecaudor, babies on mopeds in Vietnam, babies without diapers everywhere. Babies without safety straps, or hand sanitizer, or organic pureed pears. Babies without sippy cups and plastic bibs. Babies without cribs and co-sleepers and nurseries. Babies with love, babies with joy and babies with little if no melt-downs.

So, I am overly excited to see this film - for its beauty and perhaps more the reminder that in fact, with very little, much happiness is possible. And that in the end - babies need us and that is all.

13 December 2009

And tonight, my fortune cookie read...

Be prepared to modify your plans.

And that made me smile.

12 December 2009

Gate Envy

Numi Baby Gate available here

a clever dad's genius design {as seen at oh dee doh}

Let's just say the world of babyproofing is more practical than pretty. And though I do agree that when it comes to safety practical is first, why of why can't they design something pretty?
I am still tempted to splurge on the Numi Gate available at the time only in the UK. But for now, I'll just be fine with the very white, very free gate that was waiting for us in grandma's garage.

11 December 2009

Away we go...

Last week was a rough week. I cleaned up more bodily fluids from one baby and one husband than I thought was possible. It's not fun. And I don't feel well either, but that doesn't really seem to matter.

It was Friday night - and somehow I got them both to pass out. So, I took my old broken lap top that has a wonderfully large screen and a DVD drive installed, put in the movie, plugged in the headphones, got into bed and indulged.
I am a bit behind, so perhaps Away We Go is old news to everyone, but to me it was a little unexpected piece of yummy pie. I laughed, I cried, I laughed some more. If you have recently had a baby, are having a baby, are thinking of having a baby or just love sweet out-of-the box love stories, this one is just perfect.

At the end, I was in love again with my two sickly boys. And all was again well in the universe.

10 December 2009

Missing him

There have been birthdays without him. There have been graduations and Halloweens and final school projects without him. There have been boyfriends and girlfriends. There have been Christmas Eve's and Thanksgiving turkeys without him. There was even a wedding and a walk down the aisle without him.

But somehow, after all that, I don't want to do Christmas without him this year and it has caught me completely off guard.

It's the 10th of December and there are no bells on the door, no Christmas music streaming over iTunes in the car and at home, no advent wreath. Even my husband noticed that something is array with his Christmas loving maus. There is only sadness. There is only deep missing that my dad is not here for this very important first Christmas. He's not here and he should be here.

And I haven't felt that way in a really long time.

So, I am going to let myself be sad for as long as I need to this time. Because at some point, I will not feel so sad and I will want to go with the nugget to pick out our very first family tree. And there will be a point when I can listen to the familiar and comforting lyrics of my favorite Christmas songs and smile with joy. And there will be a point when I can look at the nugget and tell him how very much his grandpa loved this holiday and how he was the best gift giver I have ever known and how he wrote clever little names on the gift tags of the gifts he gave and how he took a bite out of the cookies we left for Nikolaus and how he sang "O Holy Night" more beautifully than any recording I have ever heard.

Until that point, I am missing him, terribly.

08 December 2009

maus + nugget

I got some of the pictures back from a photoshoot that a friend did for me a few weeks ago. Here we are.

07 December 2009

The things we've handed down

First, you fall in the love with the realism of the relationship in his True Companion and you wonder if an adult relationship can be that simple. And then you hear this tribute and you think "I don't think I could I have said it any better than that."

The Things We've Handed Down
Lyrics by Marc Cohn

Don't know much about you
Don't know who you are
We've been doing fine without you
But, we could only go so far
Don't know why you chose us
Were you watching from above
Is there someone there that knows us
Said we'd give you all our love

Will you laugh just like your mother
Will you sigh like your old man
Will some things skip a generation
Like I've heard they often can
Are you a poet or a dancer
A devil or a clown
Or a strange new combination of
The things we've handed down

I wonder who you'll look like
Will your hair fall down and curl
Will you be a mama's boy
Or daddy's little girl
Will you be a sad reminder
Of what's been lost along the way
Maybe you can help me find her
In the things you do and say

And these things that we have given you
They are not so easily found
But you can thank us later
For the things we've handed down

You may not always be so grateful
For the way that you were made
Some feature of your father's
That you'd gladly sell or trade
And one day you may look at us
And say that you were cursed
But over time that line has been
Extremely well rehearsed
By our fathers, and their fathers
In some old and distant town
From places no one here remembers
Come the things we've handed down

I've been thinking about what we've handed down to the nugget. Or what I have handed to him - only now are people beginning to say that he looks like me. So I wonder, what did he get? What will present itself? What will bubble to the surface? Will it be the pieces of me I love or the pieces that I disdain? What strange combination will he be?

For now, as I watch his little body and spirit navigating the world around him, I see one one thing that makes me smile: he piggy roots. His tiny little toes and feet are in perpetual motion, even as he is falling asleep in my arms. His little piggies are rooting around, for that perfect position, that perfect place to rest.

My piggies, well, they do the same thing as I am falling asleep.

Touching toes

Touching toes has taken on a whole new meaning. Pre-nugget it was the olive branch - the sign that no matter what conversation or marital breakdown may have happened just before bed that kept us a bit at odds with each other, it was not bad enough and would be resolved with the freshness and clarity of the new day.

Now, post-nugget, when there are 3 in the bed, its more like the secret handshake, of the secret club that only two of you belong to. No words are needed to acknowledge each others presence and the handshake is bonding - like saying "I get you, I accept what you've been through and I am glad that you are here."


Here is what I love
Chapters that are 2 pages long

Here is what I am working on
Easing up on myself

I committed to reading one chapter of Momma Zen every Sunday. Already on the second Sunday I flaked. Do I get to excuse myself because it was Thanksgiving weekend or because I am a new mom and was probably really tired for some reason or that I simply just forgot. I think the only person that I have to justify myself to is myself and this is where the easing up on myself comes along. So, it's officially Monday (by 4 minutes to be exact) but if I had started writing 20 minutes ago instead of writing some emails, then it would have still been Sunday and I would have only missed one week. So much for easing up on myself.

Here is where the 2 page chapter comes in. I was going to catch up and make up the week I had "missed" by writing about two chapters, but then I thought, "Who am I rushing for? What on earth am I trying to prove?" And I realized that I am trying to prove to myself that the old me still exists: the organized, highly capable, multi-tasking, can-do girl who just gets stuff done. When really, I am now the absent-minded, forget everything unless its written down, distracted mom who manages to misplace her phone at least once a day. I thought that if I could commit to something once a week, that is for no one's benefit than my own, maybe I could believe that the old me is still in around, hiding on there somewhere.

And then of course, I read exactly what I needed to read. And I stopped at one chapter. Chapter 3 will be waiting for me next week. For today, in this short second chapter, there in black and white, it says: "It's not what you think it is. First, what you call your life is not yours at all - not yours to plan, manipulate, or control, at least not very often." (Momma Zen, p. 11) My life in fact, will never be as it was nor will I ever be how I was. There is no one better to remind me of this than the almost 9 month old nugget whose life is about being in the present moment, every moment of everyday. And though I can "schedule" our days in theory, there is an underlying unpredictable chaos that is bubbling right under the surface. I can twist and grind and clench my way to things looking the way that I want them to, but at the end of the day, the only person who suffers is me.

And then, bam, the sentence of all sentences:
" I was humiliated to see that the maturity and serenity I thought I had achieved was simply the result of having things my way all the time." (Momma Zen, p. 12)

And there you have it. Its not about me. And, its not even about him. It's about loving what is, what is not and what may never be.

06 December 2009


It was Nikolaus day today.

That means its the 6th of December.

And it is almost unheard of that there is not one sign of Christmas in our tiny little apartment. No music, no advent wreath, no bells on the door, no calendar filled with chocolate. My husband even asked what was going on.

And I don't have an answer. I love Christmas. I love everything about it. But it crept up on me. Suddenly there were tree lots and cars driving around with bound evergreens strapped to the roof. And jingles filling the air at the supermarket and dads on ladders stringing brightly colored lights. And wish lists and holiday parties and annual tree lighting. And then there is us.

And yes, it is the nugget's first Christmas. But he is still too little - too little for baking cookies and watching The Nutcracker and attending carols at Grace Cathedral. So instead of doing too much, I have done nothing.

But I want to feel it. I want to feel how I usually feel about this time of year. Maybe, I just need to set Pandora to O Holy Night and see what happens.

04 December 2009


Like the big white elephant in the room, it's there but no one wants to talk about. But today, we talked.

We talked about why, how, and why not, and how much, and how little with Andrea Nemerson, the writer of SF Bay Guardian's Sex Column. There were 7 of us - new moms that is and by the smiles and head nods and smirks and questions and me-too stories, I realized that this was indeed a worthy and important topic.

So we listened and shared and attended to our babies at the same time. And though we just touched on the tip of the iceberg, it was enough to send me on my way, feeling well, not alone.

And so my key take a-ways were this:

1. Most couples in the first year of parenthood experience an extreme change in their intimate relationship due to lack of sleep, exhaustion, changes in roles, changes in relationships, sleeping arrangements, pain, scheduling, etc, etc, etc. The list goes on and on and on.

2. It is NOT unusual to have a complete halt in your sexual relationship in the first year of parenthood.

3. That does not mean that your partner (usually the husband) is not not wanting it.

4. It is possible to be "overtouched" - meaning new moms are often in constant contact with their babies and their need to be physically touched or close to someone is fulfilled and that additional touch is the last thing they are wanting or needing.

5. Intimacy doesn't have to be sex - there are ALL kinds of ways to start to re-build your intimate relationship.

6. It will not be what it used to be, nothing ever is. But it could be better.

7. Talk, talk, talk about. And then keep talking about it. The conversations done in silence in your own head are the ones that start to breakdown your relationship.

8. Make time to be together without the baby, period. Do whatever it takes to make that happen. And when you do, don't talk about the baby.

9. Don't send dad to the couch or the spare bedroom. If he goes, follow or at least try.

10. Just do it.

03 December 2009

My mom gave me this book a few weeks after I gave birth. She thought it was really cute. I have to admit, I chuckled.

When I mentioned it at the reunion of our childbirth prep class one of the women said, "Oh my god, my husband already does all of those things." I think the rest of us smiled sharply, trying to hide our sheer envy.

Yes, I have a great husband. And yes he helps. And...

However, on Sunday, he did something extremely unusual. I left with the nugget - to simply get him out of the house and I left a totally dismantled kitchen. Breakfast dishes, maybe even the night before dishes, a dishwasher that needed emptying and groceries that perhaps still needed to be put away. I left, knowing that I would have a mess to attend to when I got home.

We (the nugget and I) were gone for maybe an hour.

When we got home, as I reached the top stair, I heard the whirring sound of a newly loaded dishwasher and caught a glimpse of a completely cleaned up kitchen.

Right then and there, I wanted to ditch the baby and jump into his arms.

Yes, the book is dead on and that's all it takes.