February 27, 2011


Things I need to remember:

Sidewalks and ball fetching.

Basketball hoops.

TV: Little Bear and Spongebob.

The piano.


Your cleats.

Your doll.

Your bed.

Outside outside outside.



Moving forward

February 26, 2011

We went to Target today. Max, you and I. I was prepared this time — prepared to relax. Prepared to play with you in the aisles as you rolled that luggage, bounced this ball, carried that package around. We made it, and I barely felt exasperated. I’m not sure when I became so uptight (might have been sometime while pregnant with you, I hate to say it), but I let it go today.

You hadn’t had a nap yet, but you’re mostly reasonable, and such a sweet baby. Have I mentioned that? You know, you love animals so much. You’ll walk up to a cat and gingerly pet its head, bend over to eye level and say, “hi kitty, hi.”

You want to do whatever your brothers do. Today was baseball tryouts for them. You walked around in your (too-big) cleats, mitt on your hand, baseball in the other hand. When just recently they were your “soccer cleats,” today they’re your “baseball shoes.” “Tie my baseball shoe, mama” you say to me. “Please mom?”

Driving back from Target, driving along the safety corridor at 50 mph, I saw a formation of geese. The line of geese undulated in the sky, reminding me of a garter snake in the river in the summer. It was a V, then a straight line, then a wave. I couldn’t tell what direction it was going — south, east, north?

It was warm sun today, biting cold wind. You won’t wear a jacket. You’re very much two already, you know. Stubborn.

You’re still sleeping well. You fall asleep in the big bed, and I move you over to your little bed when I go to sleep. You’ve been staying there all night — not a fuss. It’s amazing. Is it any wonder I’m feeling better these days? I promise I will keep feeling better.

Those geese were flying against the wind, changing positions faster than I had ever seen, but hardly making headway. As one became tired, he’d drop back behind another. From down below, it was a beautiful movement – the flowing of that skein of geese. They flowed.

And maybe that’s what we look like — the five of us in this family. We might not be making headway too fast, and it might just feel like each one of us is dropping back (falling down, falling apart) too frequently, but I think we’re moving forward… together.

It’s been months since I’ve written to you.

A week ago I weaned you cold-turkey.  We pulled apart and it hurt us both and now look at you, so independent!  Fiercely independent.  “No, Mom, go back in the house!” You said to me today, after I got off of work, and wanted to check on you and Max.  You and Max go on short walks down to the corner, or the other way across the street and to the basketball hoop.  You two are finally bonding.  Fiercely.

In just a couple of weeks, you’ll be 23 months old.  We’re taking a road trip to San Diego, and then I’m flying by myself to Orlando.  You’ll be fine with your dad.  Though just a couple weeks ago, you still woke and cried for me in the night, now you’re sleeping all night in your own bed, and climbing out all by yourself to find me at my desk.

You talk and talk and talk.  You’re figuring out the articles and prepositions, and you’re starting to get the order of words right.  You like to add “y” to the end of names — Mommy, Daddy, Maxxy, Matchesy.  (You call Matthew, Matches.)

You still love balls.  Fiercely so.

You carry one in one hand always, and only throw a ball if you have an extra. We have a cubby box that is stuffed to the gills with just balls, of every shape and color.  You have a gift of finding balls — a baseball here, a golf ball there.  You will spot an orphan ball across a field at the park, and demand we walk over and pick it up.  You also like to borrow balls from the neighbors’ yards.  I swear we’ll return them all eventually.  You throw them, hit them, kick them, shoot them, dribble them.  You can dribble!

A few nights ago, you wanted to read by yourself.  “Read a book by myself, mama.”  You sat in the big bed, blanket pulled up to your chest, and said the words you remembered from the book we read the night before.

The last few months have been busy, chaotic, up-and-down emotional.  A couple weeks ago, my work friend Caetano died of cancer.  I’m so sad to hear that he’s not here anymore.   He leaves behind his wife and 5 year-old boy, and quadruplet 2-year-olds.  His smile used to light up the office, and if I asked about his wife or kids, his love emanated around the room.  Amazing man, so full of life.  I’m comforted to know that it’s possible to be as positive as Caetano.  I was thinking about him last month, and am left feeling there was something I wanted to ask him.  I wanted to ask about his kids, ask how he is, how he is doing…  RIP good man.


There was Halloween, and the problem of what to do with baby pumpkins.  Roll them. Stack them. Lick them. Carry them. Throw them.

When the stem was sharp and kept sticking your hand and you’d tell me “hurt” and “sharp” and point to your palm and I figured you would have to find a different way to play with the pumpkins, but finally you had enough. “Hurt sharp cut knife?” You pointed towards the kitchen, wanting me to cut off the point of the stem with a knife.

Too smart.  Solving problems for yourself.  Later you asked the same for the second baby pumpkin, and I sawed off the sharp tip with our old junky serrated knife.


There was Christmas, and you so carefully took care of the tree.  You were not wild nor rebellious, and you took care not to knock all the ornaments off. In fact, I kept the tree (lazily) up until far after New Years.

A week after Christmas, your dad and I got married.

Imagine for a moment: a small intimate family wedding, just the two of us at the county courthouse, with three boys by our sides.  The judge is a county employee, nicely dressed, a light blue cardigan open with a lovely flower brooch at the top button.  The family is led to a back room, windowless, but full of old rusted filing cabinets with labels such as “Marriage Licenses 1906” and I’m charmed.  Precious papers stored here.  Commitments made and broken. Thousands and thousands of families recorded in this one little room.

There are also office chairs back here.  Three of them.  With wheels.

In walk the children.

Do I need to tell you about your brothers?  They’ve always been this way.  Any situation that requires consideration, any situation with even a bit of gravity, whether it be a wedding or a funeral, a napping baby, or gosh, I don’t know, someone recovering with a hangover?  They’re off the walls.

And they wanted to roll on those chairs while bouncing off the walls.  We interrupt the ceremony. The judge interrupts the ceremony. We do the vows twice (maybe she wanted to be doubly sure we’d make it through with these kids).  I tried to be calm to your brothers.

But it was crazy.  And I’m sure we’ll look back at it, and just remember that one sweet second when we could look at each other and say a sweet word.

So that, darling baby, is the reason we don’t have any photos of the day your parents got married.


Last month, there was a shooting in Arizona where Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was meeting with the locals outside of a grocery store.  19 people were shot. Six died, including Gabe Zimmerman, who your dad knew and worked with a few years ago at Kinderland.

There was a numbness in our house, a distance.

What can I say?  I can’t express the anger and sadness and helplessness that I feel.  And anger.


You weren’t sleeping well before.  You’d wake and cry out.  You’d talk in your sleep.  You’d toss and turn.  You’d nurse.  You’d nurse and nurse.  You exhausted me.

And because you weren’t sleeping well, we often had to take you on drives to get you to sleep for a nap.  Especially on weekends, when the house isn’t quiet enough for you to sleep anyway.


We live in a small town near the river.  On a nap drive in January, I counted 55 vehicles parked on the river.  More than that many men standing on the side of the road, walking down the bank, up to their thighs in the river. A cold winter day, the sun was out, the river down, the water clear. A good day to fish.

Sometimes we take you down West End Road, a back country road, where you can fall asleep while we pass the goats and sheep and cows.  There are great blue herons that hang out down there.  Rows of blackbirds up on the telephone lines.  The pygmy goat munching in the sun.  Brand new baby sheep, fuzzy black legs.

We love it here, fiercely so.


February 21, 2011

Sometimes I tell you stories…


There was an orangutan.  He lived in a zoo, and he was sad and a bit lonely.  The zookeeper loved him, and would bring music to play on his little stereo.  The orangutan enjoyed the music a lot, and one day, found that if he blew into a bottle just so, he could make a sound. One sound led to another until he could make his own music.

The zookeeper noticed and decided to bring him instruments. First he brought him a flute, but the orangutans fingers were big and clumsy and he couldn’t use it.  Because he was clumsy, he broke the guitar that the zookeeper brought next.  The zookeeper loved him, and so he went through the trouble and the expense and brought him a piano.

It was big and shiny and beautiful and it was like magic when the orangutan pressed a key.  He knew how to play right away, and played and played the most beautiful music.

People came from all over the world to hear him play.  Money was donated to the zoo, and they were able to improve the housing for the animals.  They were even able to bring in another orangutan.

But they didn’t get along very well, the orangutans.  So they have different houses and still the orangutan is sad and a bit lonely.

So he plays and plays the piano.  One day a stray kitten heard the music and found his way to the feet of the orangutan.  She loved the music so much that she curled up and closed her eyes, purring herself to sleep.

When he stopped playing, she followed him around, meowing, “Mew mew. Play more, play more.”

And he did.  He played for the kitten and she was happy, and she came everyday to listen and to purr at his feet.  One day, he found himself a little less sad and a little less lonely.

Over time, she stopped meowing at him, and over time, she made herself at home.  They spent every moment together, the kitten and the orangutan, and he no longer played music for anybody but her.  He was no longer sad, nor lonely, now that he found happiness in the little kitten’s smile.