The Dairy Life, Yoga Withdrawal, and Writing Critiques

I’ve been on a deadline (per usual this time of year) so I haven’t been writing much. But today my next job is late so I am free…FREE I SAY! There are ton of things I’ve been wanting to put up here, but then time passed and I didn’t have time and blah, blah, anyway I’m putting it all right here in one little post so here ya go.

Declan can eat dairy! It’s such a bizarre concept. Monday morning at 9am my husband called me to say that the allergist’s office had called him and offered us a 10:00 appointment for Declan’s food challenge. Despite my begging my sitter to come when she wanted to cancel so that I could make my afternoon deadline, I said “Holy crap, I’ll be there!” I dropped everything, put some yogurt and milk in a cooler bag, grabbed the kid, and hopped in a cab to West Side.

Declan was seriously an angel and colored and played with his toys and barely even looked at the iPad for the nearly 3 hours we were at the office. He ate his yogurt and drank his milk with no argument. Halfway through his cheeks got red and we worried a bit, but some time in the waiting room where it was cooler solved the problem. He made it through the last waiting period and showed no reaction. I couldn’t believe it. The allergist said that if he tolerated a full serving of dairy the next morning, then he would be clear and have no restrictions. Declan is a dairy eater! I no longer have to worry about his grabbing Go-gurts or cheese puffs. He can have cheese sticks for a snack! I made chicken and dumplings this week because I hadn’t been able to make creamy soup in years. Other than a little tummy discomfort and his insisting for the first two days that he can only eat dairy, Declan’s been fine. It’s kind of amazing.

Playing so nicely.

Playing so nicely.

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Silly, dairy-eating boy.

Which brings me to yoga withdrawal. As of right now, I have not taken a yoga class in 13 days and it SUCKS. I do not do well without my yoga. My anxiety is left to fester and grow and take hold without my asana practice. It is not a good scene. But 13 days ago I took a very back-bendy class which left my lower back ridiculously tight. That night, like every night, Declan came into my room at 2am. I carried him back to his bed and as I lowered his 35lb body into the lower bunk, something really bad happened in my lower back. I could barely stand back up. I then endured several days of spasms and pain and stiffness and general awfulness and, of course, no yoga.

A week later it was finally feeling less painful and more mobile, but I wanted to give it time. The thought of doing a forward fold was kind of terrifying. Actually, it’s still pretty scary, but I’ll be in class tonight. It’s an instructor I know well and trust and I’ll be talking to her beforehand to make sure I don’t do anything to re-injure myself. Back pain is the WORST! I can honestly see how people with back problems get hooked on pain medication. You need your back for everything!

And the writing critiques. A few weeks ago I sent four of my poems to my husband’s aunt to read. She is pretty much one of my favorite people. She’s been a professional writer in many capacities and has also taught writing and she recently got her MFA in poetry. I respect her writing and her opinion so I asked her if she would read some of my stuff. I saw her at Thanksgiving and she told me she’d be sending me her thoughts and not to worry. But I worried.

A few days later I got her response and its’ several pages long. I read the first paragraph and realized I wouldn’t be able to finish. Due to the aforementioned deadline and back pain (and maybe just a tiny bit of fear), I wasn’t able to sit down to go through it. Today, I am free. I should read her thoughts. I should sit with my poems while I have the chance. But I am paralyzed. I am writing on my blog, but I am afraid to open that attachment and read her words. It’s been quite a few years since I’ve handed over my work to another writer and I don’t know if I’m ready. I get so married to my words that I find it hard to think about changing them. I have flashbacks to college writing workshops where I picked to pieces by vengeful English students. I am trying to get up the courage. It’s the next thing I’ll do…I swear.

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Where Have All the Spoons Gone?

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Once upon time, shortly after we were married and all those gifts came pouring in, we had 10 sets of flatware. That is: 10 dessert spoons, 10 soup spoons, 10 salad forks, 10 dinner forks, 10 knives. In the time since, tragedies have occurred and things have been reallocated, leaving us with less than 10 full sets, but such is life. I haven’t taken an official count or anything. But last week I noticed after emptying the dishwasher that the dessert spoon (my personal fave piece of flatware) pile was looking noticeably short.

I knew that one of these brave souls had gone to the trash bin in the school cafeteria one day when I packed spoon yogurt and had no plastic ones left. Aside from that, what had happened? I took count and there were 6. SIX!!! So that means that 3 freaking spoons are unaccounted for. How exactly does that happen? This becomes a problem because the kids and I eat cereal or oatmeal every morning and all use those spoons–3 down. Then I always have yogurt–4. If I forget and stir my coffee with one we are down to 1. One little spoon!

Yes, I am aware that I can hand wash one and use it again or ‘gag’ use a soup spoon instead. But come on, who wants to spend time washing spoons when there are supposed to be 9 in the drawer? I can’t spend $70 per set getting more, matching flatware. Can I buy just the dessert spoons? Maybe on Ebay? Does it even matter?

My parents never had matching flatware. Or maybe they did before we came along and did things like lose pieces in the school trash bins or use them as trebuchets for Lego knights or whatever it is that my children have done with our spoons. Looking at our cabinets, our kitchenware is beginning to resemble that of my parents. We don’t have stacks of white matching Pottery Barn bowls anymore. We have some chipped Pottery Barn bowls and some Spider Man bowls and some plastic Taken N’ Toss multicolored bowls. We no longer have 8 juice glasses and 8 water glasses. We now have 1 juice glass and some pint glasses and maybe a water glass or two thrown in there with a stack of rainbow-hued cups from Ikea.

But when I think back to dinner with my family as a child, I barely remember the dishes we ate on anyway. I remember the food, I remember the way my father laughed at his own jokes as he ate bread with mayonnaise spread on it. I remember exactly where each member of my family sat. If I think hard I can remember my “special fork”–the one with a pointed end and a rose imprinted on it. If my parents had matching flatware would I have even had a special fork?

So maybe I’ll head to Target and pick up a few spoons or even grab some at the Goodwill. Maybe Declan will have a “special spoon” one day to remember when he thinks of how he sat between his father and I at our dinner table with his brother at the head. The mystery of the missing spoons may haunt me till the end of my days or I may find them all waiting for me the next time I get around to vacuuming under the couch. Maybe the universe took my spoons off to another dimension. Or maybe families are just meant to be built on mismatched spoons and chipped bowls and rainbow stacks of plastic cups.

Burn Baby

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Burn Baby

The fire that sparked with his birth
Burned for months,
Its flames fanned by his midnight screaming,
Turning the forest of me to ash
And covering me in a shroud of thick smoke.

Those days of smothering heat are blurred,
In my memory,
Punctuated by both of our sobs
And moments of surrender,
That kept us alive.

When the fire burned out and the smoke
Cleared at last,
The bright blue of morning was waiting
Shining sunlight on what remained
And nourishing new life.

The fire took a lot, leaving
Only the oldest trees.
But I know now that it was necessary,
Lovely even,
How that destruction ushered in

Something better.

Reminders

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There are times when signs pop up in your life and you can’t see how they might be related until it is pointed out to you. Perhaps they are never intended to make sense at all, but the meaning is nevertheless created by a common thread.

Last week a college friend posted a photo of a mutual friend of ours on Facebook; a face I hadn’t looked at in years, but that I picture so often in my mind. In the photo the two of them were tuxedo-clad and grinning ear to ear at a wedding. This friend passed away after being involved in a hit-and-run accident 11 years ago. He was 25 and had been married for 3 months. We were all recent graduates at the start of our lives and his was ripped away.

A few days ago, my sister called me and something was obviously bothering her. She had just found out that a friend’s sister had been diagnosed with a rare, debilitating, and always fatal disease. She will be dead within a year. She will leave behind a husband and two children. There is nothing that will change this.

Sunday afternoon I arrived early for my yoga class, eager to see my favorite instructor who had been away for a few weeks. I greeted her with a smile and asked about her trip. Her usually bright face was distracted as she told me that it was wonderful. As she began class she told us that if she became emotional it was because just before walking into the studio she had gotten an email telling her that a student of hers had passed away suddenly the night before. She was a young mother who had adopted a baby with her husband last year.

“And so,” she told us as we settled into a comfortable seat, “let’s remember today that life is fleeting.” At that moment it came together for me. These little reminders arranged themselves in my mind as a message. “Enjoy today. Remember that tomorrow isn’t guaranteed.” Living with anxiety, I am often too focused on the future, constantly running through what might happen tomorrow, or next month, or in a year. Despite my constant recommitment to being present and mindful, I still fall into the “what if” trap and find myself missing beautiful moments.

I made good on this one yesterday by fighting through major anxiety to take my kids to the beach on the ferry. Although I was nearly paralyzed with worry and fear in the morning, I kept telling myself not to let it tear these happy experiences from me. Once we were out the door, I found myself able to breathe a little easier, and by the time we hit the sand all I could see were smiles and sun and splashing in the waves. It wasn’t perfect–there was a little whining, some impatience, and general toddlerness–but it was worth it. We came home sweaty, exhausted, and full of wonderful memories, which was exactly what I needed.

 

Time

Summer has begun. We had a wonderful first weekend with swimming, biking, World Cup watching, and a trip to Sixteen Handles for froyo. This year, summer isn’t just for the kids. I finished up a big freelance project last week and because of our travel schedule this summer, won’t be picking up another right away. It feels weird and sort of scary and also a bit freeing. I’m excited to have time with the kids to do whatever we want, but I’m also a little nervous about having that much time with them. It’s odd not to constantly be feeling like there’s something I should be doing.

Also, my mother-in-law will still be coming to spend time with them even though I’m not working. This gives me a strange thing that I am NOT used to having–time for myself. It also puts a bit of pressure on me. I’m always complaining that if I just had the time, I would really try to get something published. So here is that time just plunked in my lap and it’s almost overwhelming to think of how I should spend it. So far today, I’ve had coffee with a friend, gotten my nails done, and worked a bit on an essay I’ll posting here soon to participate in a weekly writing challenge that was brought to my attention by a reader.

This, of course, brings up my usual conundrum of, if I try, what if I fail? This is the one that usually stops me in my tracks, reroutes my attention elsewhere, and brings me to putting nothing on the page. When I had no work for a bit last fall, I did write and submit two pieces–both of which were rejected. But, I promised myself I wouldn’t let it shut me down and I won’t. I’ll have new things to submit this fall. New things to, most likely, have rejected. But it will be worth it. Right? At least I have the time.

Apparently, I’m Inspiring…Are You?

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Thursday I got a wonderful surprise when I was nominated for a Very Inspiring Blog Award by Anniemation Flow. Thank you, thank you so much for reading, for writing, and for the nomination! Please go check her out because she has a lot to say and it’s always interesting.

Aside from the fact that someone halfway around the world took notice of my blog, I was really happy to get this award because I think one of the things I try to do with my blog is to inspire others. Not that I’m doing anything ever so special here, just that I hope I sometimes get people to think about things in a way that they might not have seen before.

The rules for the award are:

1. Thank the person who nominated you. (Did that above!)

2. List the rules and display the badge. (Listing them now, badge below.)

3. Share 7 facts about yourself.

4. Nominate 15 other blogs and notify them.

Here’s the badge.

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Now for 7 facts about me:

1. I have three tattoos and I’m planning my fourth, which will have four parts.

2. My biggest pet peeve is people cutting in line.

3. I’m currently obsessed with two very different songs…Chandelier by Sia and Escape Artist by Zoe Keating.

4. While in yoga class, I sometimes plan my playlists for the future, hypothetical, yoga classes I want to teach.

5. I’m married to my college sweetheart and in a year and a half I will have spent half of my life with him. (Ah! I’m old!)

6. I had my first spin as Tooth Fairy last night and it wasn’t nearly as satisfying as being Santa.

7. I will NOT be nominating 15 bloggers. I will nominate as many as I can. I LOVE a lot of bloggers, but the nomination part is always tough for me. Also, a lot of the people I’m nominating probably already got this one, but I’m nominating those who inspire me. So there.

And the nominations:

1. Kerry at Winding Road – She is a constant source of inspiration for me, especially with what she’s gone through recently. She somehow always has a wonderful way of looking at things.

2. Jessica at Like an Apple – She inspired me to start writing poetry again and that is just so amazing. She is a wonderful writer and also finds amazing poetry to share, in addition to being a working mama raising two boys.

3. Mummy Says – She has such inspiring things to say about being a mother and a woman.

4. Amy at Mom Goes On – Life is still very busy when the kids go to college. Amy’s view of life is always an inspiration to me.

5. Bronwyn at Journeys of the Fabulist – Not only does she make me want to travel, but she inspires me to go ahead and do things with my kids that I sometimes think will be too difficult. If she can trek all over Thailand, I can take the subway to Brooklyn.

Ok, I only made it to 5. But they are very, VERY good ones. These five blogs inspire me to keep blogging and, more than that, to keep writing. Please read them.

Poetry Link Up with Feral Little Secret

Somehow I was turned on to Feral Little Secret, which runs weekly writing prompt link ups for which the winner is featured on the blog. This week’s prompt is poetry so I wanted to go ahead and join in. Here is my entry.

 

Mother of Sons

Boys
Tumble over me indiscriminately
Covering me in elbows and knees, fingers and toes,
Bruising my shins and scratching my chest with uncut fingernails.

They mess my bed and throw my clean clothes to the floor.

Boys
Smother me in kisses that taste of strawberry jam
And organic peanut butter,
Leaving sticky traces on my cheeks and chin.

They whisper, “I love you…one more minute,” into my ear at night.

Boys
Rip my book jackets, push cups of juice from tables, and pull
picture frames from the shelves as I shout,
Uselessly into the air of our house.

They write me books of their own and leave pictures on my pillow.

Boys
Fill my days with noise and worry my head through the night,
Ripping my heart and making it whole again
In the same sentence.

I am keeper of the castle,
Mother of kings.
I am center of the universe,
And focus of adoration.
I will push my love into them
And send them shining out into the world.

 

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Off Course?

 

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Once upon a time this place was what you might call a “mommy blog,” back before they were such a big thing. In the beginning I mused on being a lonely, stay-at-home mom of a baby in the big city. It made me feel better. It made me feel connected. And it kept me connected to a big love of mine–writing.

Then things changed. My baby grew. I stopped being so lonely. I took a looong break when my second baby was born and now he’s growing himself. I fell in love with yoga and found my creative voice again. The internets blew up with “mommy blogs.” WordPress became more of a community and with that community came cliques and popularity contests. Blogs started, got big, and disappeared again and again. Everybody got on Facebook and started sharing other mommy blogs and HuffPo and Scary Mommy. Blogs even got their own Facebook pages and Twitter accounts and Instagrams and Pins. I started to feel better about being a mother and worse about being a blogger. I stopped sharing so much about being a mom on my little blog.

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve gone through a good bit of the process of potty-training Declan without ever mentioning it here. It’s odd, because I documented most of Brady’s milestones with a post. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s not new to me anymore or because I forgot that it’s still new to other people or because I feel like the world is now inundated with mommy advice via the Internet so why would anyone want mine. I began to wonder if I’d gotten off course–with my blog, with my subject matter, with my feelings–or if I’ve simply found a new road to travel.

In the six years I’ve been writing here, so many things have changed. Unfortunately, one of them is not that my blog became “big.” It’s still something that I strive for, no matter how hard I tell myself not to. I think that in some ways I have veered off my path and in some I have found new ones that I want to continue to explore. But I know that the people who have commented on my writing in real life, really did like some of that “mommy blogging” I used to do. Maybe I’ll bring it back. Maybe I’ll find other directions. For now, I just wanted to put something here. Anything.