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Learning and trying to be kind and living my life as fully as I can stand it.

Monday, September 22, 2014


Walking through the kitchen, feet bare on flagstone, I look down and see an upside U. It's a magnet--part of an alphabet set that covers the lower-half of the fridge. Seeing it there pierces me right in the heart with gratitude. I don't know how an inch-long shape, black on gray because its colored side is face down, can conjure up the images of my two Big kids and fill my heart with warm love in an instant. I see their faces turned up to the big chrome door, reaching up to grab letters and move them, drop them, taste them. On their knees reaching up but more recently on their feet. They are growing so much. Learning so much. So curious, such big wide open eyes. I pick those magnets up from the floor every day, just as I pick up the pile of books they spread off the shelves and onto the wood floor every day. Once, twice, three times a day. As many times as we put them back, they'll find their way back to take them off. Why do I bother putting them back? Because it gives them such pleasure to take them off. They don't sweep them off in a fit of destruction or to see what happens when they move an arm. They reach up and pick one off, look at it. Sometimes they look up at me and say something I don't understand, indicating the book as though we're discussing literature. Sometimes they point at pictures. Sometimes the book is upside down. Often they babble to each other as they explore, sometimes they sit quietly. Sometimes they carry a book over to me to read. I love to watch them and I love that re-shelving the books beckons them back to the shelves to explore.

An upside magnet does not always speak to me but I'm glad I really saw it tonight. Saw my life for a second as I passed from room to room, mind on other things.

Thursday, September 11, 2014


I'm sitting at our dining room table, facing East and eating tuna noodle salad. My laptop is in the center of a circle of stuff with me at six o'clock. Going clockwise, the table is covered with:

-two sunhats that the little girls have yet to wear
-the house phone whose number no one but telemarketers and one department at the hospital have yet
-a gift bag full of stationary that I took out so I could finally write a thank-you note for a gift we received a month ago (stationary stored in the bag because I didn't want to be wasteful and throw it away)
-the box my new crock pot came in, empty of crock pot, quarter-full of bibs we're giving away
-pile of grown-up laundry
-pile of kid laundry
-pile of kid laundry
-6 socks
-my calendar

Behind the stacked laundry is one of the vibrating baby chairs we sit the Itty Bitties in. It's on the table to be out of reach of the Bigs who have a tendency to grab pacifiers or stick inquisitive fingers into tiny baby sister faces.

This is one little snapshot of the inside of our house which is quite reflective of the inside of my mind. Deep breath in. Deep breath out.

I feel good these days. My mood is up. The babies are doing well. I'm back in the swing of things at work, actually getting stuff done. My body is in good shape for the most part. I think about blogging every day. When I first started this blog I declared to myself that I would write every day! The thing is, I'm not someone who does anything every day. I am not a routine person.

Someone I know everyday makes a list of things to do the next day. He codifies each item very specifically, indicating the importance and priority, breaking them up into need-to-do and want-to-do. I consider him to be someone who has his shit together. What I admire about this particular guy is that he makes time to do things that are important to him, while also getting work done and staying on top of his responsibilities. I think it's time to face the facts--that is just not how I roll.

To describe how I am different than that, I offer the following example. When I did Weight Watchers a few years ago, I realized that the main thing it did for me was to give me a reason to plan what I would eat ahead of time. Making sure to have food that would keep me within my allotted points showed me that my usual experience was more like "Oh hey! It's one o'clock and I am starving! What should I eat for lunch??" As though the arrival of lunchtime was a mysterious, unpredictable event every day. This happens to me all the time.

"You mean the dishes need to be done again?!"

"You mean I need to pay that credit card bill again?!"

"You mean I need to go to the bank again?!"

I do not have a plan. I have a whirl of half-remembered ideas that pop in and out of my brain vying for attention.

I painted a picture of the table. Here is a similar picture of my thought process during the time I've been writing this:

"Oh! The NICU reunion is this Saturday. I need to call them and find out what time it starts because I lost the flier."

"Let me check to see what time Aunt Roberta gets in tomorrow. Did I write down the right date in my calendar? Yes, ok good. I should make a plan for Saturday morning and let my sister know when to come over. Oh, and we need to pick up the sandbox on Saturday. I wonder if it will fit in the van."

"I need to check the library to see if they have the book we're reading for book club. Wait, what is the date of the next book club? I should write that down before I forget."

Send an email to a colleague asking for feedback on the project we've worked on together.

Realize I've written down two separate dates for the Bigs' pediatrician appointment next week. Is it on Tuesday or Wednesday?

"Oh, I want to write that thank-you note for the diaper service he and his wife gifted us two months ago that I finally started. . ."


I don't feel stressed. Life feels full and even still, I'm more likely to sit down and read a book in the evening than I am to do one of the many, many things on my list of to-dos. There are lots of to-dos. If I were to make a plan or a goal for each day it would be to:

-Spend time with the kids
-Get some work done
-Do at least one thing to improve the house
-Spend some time outside
-Do some exercise, especially yoga
-Talk to a friend

Usually it ends up being at least one, sometimes two or three of those things. Yesterday I swept up half of the leaves around the pool. Monday I worked almost all day to finish a project. Today I'm finally writing. I haven't done yoga in. . .one million years.

I don't strive for balance. At least not using that word. There might have been a time when I sought it but now I'm not aware of having that goal in mind. I would like to reach a point where all of the surfaces in our house are cleared of stuff that doesn't belong there. I don't think I've ever reached that particular state in my entire life. Stuff is everywhere. On every surface and in most corners of my mind. When I turn around to put something away or jot down an idea, a child is reaching up for me or making a noise to indicate that I am wanted. If it's not a child, it's a chorus of other things whose voices get drowned out by my need to sit and not do anything. I do not strive to work all the time in an effort to get things done. I want things to be done, but not if it means I don't get to rest. This is why I cut only a small portion of the overgrown juniper bush bordering our driveway two days ago. I started it but my son did not want me to leave his side at that particular moment. So instead I joined Stephanie, my cousin, and all four babies under a big blue umbrella, on top of a soft quilt on the grass of our front yard. We looked at books and ants until it got too hot and then we went back inside. It wasn't part of the plan but it was good stuff.