April 6: Elongating

E

Between baby hands

And child-like fingers: Maya.

Where has the time gone?

IMG_5050

A to Z Challenge: This month, I will be writing a haiku (sometimes a senryu – same syllables, not marveling at nature) each day save Sundays for the 26 letters of the alphabet as part of the blogosphere’s A to Z Challenge.

 

April 4: Discovery and Delight

D

She runs tree to tree:

Rainbow eggs filled with sweetness;

Spring peeks out at her

Maya Easter

A to Z Challenge: This month, I will be writing a haiku (sometimes a senryu – same syllables, not marveling at nature) each day save Sundays for the 26 letters of the alphabet as part of the blogosphere’s A to Z Challenge.

April 2: Between days: insomnia

B

Black windows reflect –

me. The light, on, shows only

inside. Uncurtained.

A to Z Challenge: This month, I will be writing a haiku (sometimes a senryu – same syllables, not marveling at nature) each day save Sundays for the 26 letters of the alphabet as part of the blogosphere’s A to Z Challenge.

Celestial Lights

When you have a child, you begin to do everything one handed. Best practice or no, everything is a multi-task, like juggling with one hand while doing dishes with the other. I can’t count how many times I have lamented my ignorance about appreciating free time before I had kids. It’s not that I want that back, I just wish I knew what I had when I had it. Now, everything, from switching the laundry to reading a book, only comes into being after negotiating with, or trickily dodging, a toddler.

Now, pregnant with my second baby, the pregnancy itself is taking a backseat to that negotiation. When I was pregnant with Maya, everything about the experience was in sharp, closely examined focus. It was magical; it was scary; it was uncomfortable; it was beautiful. But everything that it was was clearly in front of me at all times. It was the sun that everything else spun around; it colored my days with its new take on how to live, move, breathe, and be.

We have only remembered to take a picture of this pregnancy twice. Once at 17 weeks, then again at 32 weeks!
We have only remembered to take a picture of this pregnancy twice. Once at 17 weeks, then again at 32 weeks!

Now, sometimes, I forget that I am pregnant. And I am pretty far along at seven months. It is another thing that does not get my full attention, just like work, writing, household matters, husband. I do not mean to sound like I am complaining about life with Maya – it is neither unpleasant nor difficult – she is a happy, relatively easy kid who has a good routine and is cooperative, most of the time. But she does need me and her dad and her nana and her gigi, and that’s cool. She is helpful in the way that a windstorm is helpful when folding laundry or sweeping the floor, but the fun, learning, and building of good habits makes it better and not tedious or frustrating (usually).

This morning, I managed to squeeze in some pre-natal yoga before Maya woke up, and the directives of “place one hand on your baby” and “breathe into your baby” snapped me into awareness of how often I am not doing this with this second pregnancy. I am aware of this new life, and I really enjoy that we have reached the stage of big, obvious movements that catch and hold my attention, but being pregnant has become part of our routine and has been swept along in the nuts and bolts of our day. The pregnancy is not a new experience to be marveled, or the sun around which everything else spins. It is more like one of the planets – part of the team, but just another thing in line with everything else in our solar system.

We are not finding out the gender of baby number two, and I think this has contributed to “it” (I hate that) not being a real person yet. But we did, recently, decide on a name for each possibility, and that has made a difference in my perspective. It is evolving from a routine pregnancy, at which I am old hat, to an identifiable baby – my little May baby girl or boy.

I will begin to carve out some time to talk directly to him/her and not just have him/her listening in on the conversations I have with Maya. I realize that very soon, he/she will be here and be swept into our routine. But he/she will also make some big changes, and Maya, the sun, will have to take a backseat and help to warm the new babe. Maya will grow a little and learn to share being the center of the universe, which can only be good for both celestial lights.

So for now, as the weeks wind down, I will place one hand on my belly and breathe into the baby, practice saying each name out loud, and try to appreciate how easy it has been to do everything with only one kid.

IMG_2893

 

It’s Just Words

This morning, as I drove Maya to Nana’s house, she asked me (as she does 4,987,003 times per day) to tell her a Hero and Baymax story (formerly an Anna and Elsa story), and I said, “Not right now, honey, I’m listening to a story on the radio right now. I will later.”

And her reply? “Mama, it’s just words.”

I am not exactly sure whether she was referring to what I was listening to (like the radio story was just words, not something to prioritize over the fictional adventures of the Big Hero 6 characters), or whether she saw through my excuse to try and avoid the exhausting task of coming up with a plot and moral off the top of my head countless times per day. I know that she would be just as happy if I kept things simple and occassionally told the same story over and over, but I feel the need to make each story meaningful, if not always complex.

(Now that I write this, I realize that I really should get a few plot lines down and repeat them with slight variation – it would benefit me because I would not feel constant creative strain, and her because she would hear those roles and lessons over and over, just as she likes to reread her actual books over and over.)

Her words caught me. I was already scolding myself internally for turning down my darling daughter’s request for a story – I mean her desire to hear a thing which I value and love so much is the highest of joys to me, but I wanted to be passive, to just listen. (To be fair, I had not yet had any coffee, so words and I had not come to a fluent agreement yet this day.)

But it felt like she was calling me out from a much more abstract and deep place. ‘Don’t be afraid of telling stories, mama, it’s just words. One word in front of another. One foot in front of the other.’ A piece of encouragement, a gentle nudge, a reminder from the universe, delivered through my toddler’s voice.

There is much to writing that is daunting: the sharing, the promotion, the business of publishing, but when it comes down to it, the raw bones of it, it’s just words, and that is where I am happy and in love.

Just go back to the words, mama. One foot in front of another.

Snowday = Pinterest

Our snowy front yard
Our snowy front yard

This morning, around 6:30am, I groggily woke up, put on my glasses, reached for my phone to check the time, and noticed that it was snowing. Not a lot, but it was.

“It’s snowing” I said to Sean as he began to stir. The snow was light and unobtrusive, and I really did not think that it would continue for more than a few minutes.

Maybe Maya will get to see it when she first wakes up, I thought to myself.

I got out of the shower.

“It’s really coming down now,” Sean said as I came back in to the bedroom.

“Well, it must not really be a thing, because I haven’t heard from school.”

I went about my morning routine; Maya woke around 7:30am and she and Sean spent some time chatting about the falling snow while I made coffee and smoothies. I asked him to get her dressed because we needed to leave by 8.

7:40am: We get the call – two hour delay. I go back upstairs and change from my maternity “work slacks” into jeans. Maya stayed in jammies.

By 9am, school was cancelled and the snow was still steadily coming down, lovely to look at.

Maya is pulling her "dog sled" - she's the sled dog.
Maya is pulling her “dog sled” – she’s the sled dog.

But after having THE WHOLE WEEK off last week due to a little snow and a lot of cold, I was staring down the barrel of another day stuck inside with a twonager and trying to avoid a Caillou marathon.

IMG_5002

Well, I had pinned a number of “things to try” for a day stuck inside with a kiddo, so I supposed we would go ahead and try some of those things.

First, we made what I am calling “magic sand” but was really just a bowl of baking soda, some little bowls of white vinegar with food coloring in them, and two spoons. When you put vinegar on baking soda, it fizzes. This has been A) a revolution for me in cleaning the house – thanks to Pinterest and the 9,864,3993.78 pins dedicated to the hidden uses for these two common household items and B) cool to me that it fizzes, so it was sure to entertain Maya also. Plus throw in some food coloring (I kept it limited to two because it was getting messy already) and voila – entertained kid for about 20 minutes.

IMG_5031

I count it as a Pinterest success.

Next, as I tried to gear her up for nap-time with a soothing warm bath, we microwaved a bar of Ivory soap. Again, science is weird and cool. It did not break my plate, as one commenter on the original site had said, but it did get way too big, so I had to keep stopping the microwave and letting it deflate a little before continuing.

Then, it broke up pretty quickly and anti-climatically in the bath tub, but I think it was worth it to A) get Maya in the bath mid-day and B) watch it grow in the microwave for two minutes.

Before it became a million little "clouds"
Before it became a million little “clouds”

I don’t need to worry about letting her stand with her face inches away from the microwave for that short amount of time, right? I didn’t ruin her pure-self for good with micro-waves?

She napped, I read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I should have been cleaning out the fridge or filing papers, but you know, snow day. (Review: I’m really enjoying it. I have enjoyed everything I have read by her.)

Sean had since braved the arctic to go to the store. He said our neighborhood and side road were bad, but the main roads were fine.

I’m glad he went, because I needed Cream of Tartar (I have no idea what this is actually used for) for our post-nap Pinterest experiment: homemade Play Dough. And yep, I was drawn to the smell-good essential oils recipe.

Once again, I kept the options down to two – I only had two essential oils on hand: lavender and jasmine, so Maya picked her two colors: purple and green.

IMG_5046 IMG_5047

BIG THUMBS UP for this one. It feels so much better than store-bought play dough (at least than the off-brands we have gotten so far) and the good smells were a pleasant bonus.

Maya made a snowman out of the dough that was much more successful than our tiny-snowman-made-of-ice from our back deck a few days ago.

IMG_5036

IMG_4999

This kept her busy for a good half hour or so, and we can pull it out again because it’s storing nicely in an old tupperware.

All in all, not a bad day for the Pinterest solutions to cabin fever, though the prep and set up and clean up all amount to about as much time as the actual playtime – but that’s something to kill the time too, so win.

We have a two-hour delay tomorrow morning now, so maybe Maya will be just as thrilled with helping me clean out the fridge? Though I hope we don’t encounter as much science in there…

IMG_5001

 

Mountains

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I just read a blog post called “Climbing Mountains” on infertility which spoke to me. Even as I sit here, growing larger with my second bun in the oven, it was written in a way that A) helped me to find empathy on a deeper level than I had before B) felt so universal, and C) opened my eyes to new gratitude.

The writer is Suzy Krause of Suzy Krause and the Skyscrapers and Coffee + Crumbs.

Some of the piece hit a very personal note with me – seemingly articulating my own challenges, though of a very different variety:

If I could tell myself one thing…[i]t would be that no matter how this all turns out, this time of wanting and waiting and hoping is so valuable. That’s all. It’s a life lesson for all stages, no matter if what you’re waiting for is a baby or a partner, or a job, or a train. This is an opportunity to grow, to learn, to experience joy that’s not dependent on life’s circumstances…

I hadn’t known when I started this climb how long it would take, or how hard it would be. Or I how much I would learn and grow and stretch and be changed. Or how beautiful the view would be from up here. But as I sat there, I decided this moment was well worth the journey. That’s the thing about mountains, I guess. People wouldn’t go through all the work to climb them if there wasn’t something amazing at the end.

Transitions

My student teacher started today. I am so grateful.

I was talking with him yesterday about his plans for the week, and he was so full of energy, life, creativity, and ideas. My first reaction was to beat myself up for not bringing that kind of passion lately. Though I don’t think I have been slack or doing a poor job, he is just so full-to-the-brim with vitality and verve.

IMG_4353

Then I realized that I am so grateful that he is here right now to bring that idealism and that creativity to our classroom. I am here to help funnel that energy into productive lessons. He is bringing the newness; I am bringing the experience. It’s a good balance. And one that I need so badly right now.

Maya comes with me to work on the weekends
Maya comes with me to work on the weekends

This is a time for major transition for me, and that’s okay. Spending my outside “free” time working on new ideas for school is just not my truth today. It has been, and maybe it will be again, but it’s not right now. This experience with hosting a student teacher has granted me time: time to take care of all of the necessary, logistical, and professional things that are required of me. The gift of not having to use my outside time to take care of nuts and bolts, which must come before creativity, but often does not!

And if I get those things taken care of, then maybe I can use some of these gifted days to find my creative thought again, though they may be less of the teaching variety and more geared toward the new version of my life. One with two kids, no day job, new ventures, a possible new home.

It’s time to put my creative energy toward this new portrait, and also toward my own writing – in a journal, on the blog, in some stories. Our story is changing and I am so ready and so excited.

IMG_4919.JPG

I would like to remember how I built some of my favorite lessons and apply those habits and skills to my new writing life. I have felt proud, energized, and successful in those moments of inspired teaching and planning, and I would like to continue to experience the joy of that kind of satisfaction and productivity.

Inspired by Khaled Hosseini - I wrote a lesson plan on the back of my book mark for "And the Mountains Echoed"
Inspired by Khaled Hosseini – I wrote a lesson plan on the back of my book mark for “And the Mountains Echoed”

I will have about a month of teaching left after my student teacher wraps up his tenure here, and I have no doubt that in these meantime weeks, I will find my most favorite, most cared for, most loved, most thoughtful lessons to share with my classes before I officially exit this building.

IMG_4614
View when I leave work in the winter
My view when I leave work
View when I leave work in the spring

 

Who knows exactly what’s next, but I embrace this changing chapter.

 

T.S. Eliot’s take on change and reflection, appropriate for the new year

cropped-img_18421.jpg
From “Little Gidding” by T.S. Eliot

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
But as the passage now presents no hinderance
To the spirit unappeased and peregrine
Between two worlds become much like each other,
So I find words I never thought to speak…

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning
The end is where we start from. And every phrase
And sentence that is right (where every word is at home,
Taking its place to support the others,
The word neither diffident nor ostentatious,
An easy commerce of the old and the new,
The common word exact without vulgarity,
The formal word precise but not pedantic,
The complete consort dancing together)
Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem is an epitaph. And any action
Is a step to the block, to the fire, down the sea’s throat
Or to an illegible stone: and that is where we start.