Tuesday, July 31, 2007

When everything is clean

I must admit, I've never been real interested in cleaning. I've always been more interested in living life than preparing for it. And, since we hardly ever have visitors to our home, it had become a clutter zone. That's all gone, except for the storage room where those taunting old journals are sitting.

Now that the house is sparkling, clutter-free and actually decorated I'm left to drum my fingers on the desk. This means I'll have to write all day when the girls are napping. No more marathons to pick up, pack up, remove junk. No more sprints to get the floors clean.

It's all about maintenance now. If I do a little each day, it might stay like this.

Still, it's a lot of work keeping a clean house. It makes me wonder about the women who obsess over having the cleanest house around. How much living do they really get done?

Now that I want to keep it clean, in case someone wants to see our house, I am sort of obsessed. I love that it's clean, but I don't want to keep my girls from doing their usual terrorizing of All Things. They enjoy making use of every nook and cranny of the house.

Any tips for keeping your house picked up and clean without taking too much time out of the day? Perhaps, I will enlist a little help starting today from FlyLady.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Shh. Listen.

Dear girls,

Shh. Listen. Do you hear that?




That's the sound of Mother Nature telling us something. We don't know what, but she's using that leak in the roof to whisper sweet nothings, or somethings, in our ears. And she's doing it the very night before people are supposed to come in and tour our home in hopes of finding their new one. She's doing it the very night before our first day of being on the market.

In the four years we've lived here she's never said a word.

Until now.




"It's a good thing I don't believe in signs," Da! said.

"But, if you did, what do you think this sign means?" I asked him.

"I don't know."

Me either. We'll keep listening. Shh.




Friday, July 27, 2007

And, the winner is ...

Today is going to be a GREAT day, and not just because all 211 of you will find out who wins the magical Faith bag, but because my 4-day long headache has finally subsided. Perhaps now some stuff will be accomplished around here.

Before I announce the winner, I want to tell you a little about Eve. I met her by phone a few months ago when I was writing stories about stay-at-home moms who have reentered the workforce. The basic storyline was that staying at home gives you more management skills than you might think. It's all in how you look at the jobs you do all day.

Enter Eve. A stay-at-home mom who started making some handbags for fun, and then realized that she had talent and a business idea. She has since been customizing these great bags from her home, all while caring for her daughter. She also has been hiring other stay-at-home moms to work as consultants and such. It's just a great story of a mom using motherhood to maximize her own potential. I, too, adore her bags. But, it's her story that I wanted to share.

Maeva Design allows you to customize the bag that you want and it will then be handmade either by Eve herself or another seamstress who most likely works from home as well.

For her to pick the Faith bag is perfect. All moms are trying to find a way to balance faith in themselves, faith in their children and faith in the world that sustains us.

For many others, it could also be faith in God. This bag will be very appropriate for our winner. Go meet her here.

As for the rest of you, please consider Maeva Design as a gift to yourselves. Eve is offering all of you 10 percent off your purchase for the next two weeks. Just e-mail her and tell her you learned about her through this site and want to save 10 percent. Go ahead, splurge. Clearly, all of you need a new handbag. Just read through the comments about why and you'll see it plain as day.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Gotta have faith

Well, today is the day. Well, today or tomorrow.

This great big beauty of a house will be for sale.

Gosh, this is so exciting and scary all at once.

It's one thing to decide to relocate, if only 30 miles, but it's quite another to do it with two gorgeous little girls clinging to your legs all day, asking to be picked up.

I worry that they will get pushed to the side in my frantic rush to clean up, and get out of dodge for showings. I worry they will no longer sleep through the night. I always worry that any major change or missed calorie will prevent them from sleeping through the night. I guess 12 solid months of not sleeping through has ruined me, still.

Yet, I know this will be amazing for them, once it's over, to have nearly two more hours a day with their Da!

But, first, we have to deal with all the other worries, like who wants this charmer. Recent news in our little city has put another negative spin on violence here. We walk just about every single day and hardly ever even feel the slightest bit of anything but pure joy. I mean seeing dogs, buses, trucks, fire trucks, a creek, and babies all in one walk -- it's just too much. That's why we usually end up at the farmer's market, to buy blueberries, corn on the cob and peaches, too.

Yes, we'll miss it here. We'll hate the process of packing and moving (how that is going to happen is beyond me at this point) and we don't even know where our new house will be, yet.

Risk takers, we are, I tell you. Risk takers.

I have promised myself daily yoga and meditation and one solid hour before lunch getting down and dirty with my babies. A shower might be nice. Food might be good. But, they will be first in line before all of that, of course.

Bear with me over the next few weeks as this new adventure takes over the lives of Jadyn, Liana and Mama. Tomorrow, though, stay tuned for the winner of the fabulous Faith bag.

Monday, July 23, 2007

A bloggy giveaway

I am offering a giveaway a week earlier than planned. I have been inspired by the many other giveaways going on right now through Rocks in my Dryer's Dog Days of Summer Bloggy Giveaway. Plus, it's just a cute button, right?

I'm offering, with great generosity by its creator, a handbag. My friend Eve of Maeva Design will giveaway one of her fabulous Faith bags to one lucky, and random winner. The drawing will take place first thing Friday, July 27. The winner will be announced that day.

To enter this random drawing you need to comment here, leaving both your e-mail address as well as why you want this handbag. If you are a blogger, Eve would really appreciate it if you link to her Web site, but I"m not going to make that a requirement for this contest. You do, however, have to comment here about what you like about this particular bag. That means, of course, that you have to go to her Web site to take a peek at it!!

It's beautiful. I wish I could enter this contest because my stash of handbags is rather pathetic, actually.

So, go and visit Maeva Design, return here and leave your comment. Now.

Don't forget to leave a comment that speaks directly to WHY you need or want this hand bag. Comments without the WHY are being deleted. Sorry ...

Edited to add: Maeva Design will offer 5% off to any blogger who orders a handbag in the next two weeks. Contact Eve directly by e-mailing her at eve at maevadesign dot com.

For more great giveaways, go here:

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Dusty, old journals everywhere

How do I need thee?

The last two decades of my life are sitting three feet from me, in a cardboard box, among the towering piles of clutter we call storage around here.

Years of torment, self-torture, suffering as a teenager, and a single young woman lie dormant in one medium-sized box.

I pick one up, read the dates, start reading the entries. They are full of sadness, full of gloom with sparkles of the sunniest memories my mind can imagine. There is something joyful inside me whenever I think back to remarkable heartbreaks.

But, do I need to relive those memories to move forward? As I pour through book after book, I am realizing that I am forgetting things that used to haunt my life so very much. How I loved that one boy, a family friend, so much and how I never truly understood why he didn’t like me. How I always felt alone, even when I wasn’t. And, then, there were the mistakes. The dreadful, what-did-I-do, mistakes?

I could drop those journals, all of them, in the trash and be done with those memories. After all, how many memories have I forgotten because they were never written down? Perhaps the best memories, the most vivid ones, are ones that the mind will automatically remember.

Maybe I’m holding on to something by holding on to these journals, which until blogging entered my life were never really given much thought. I knew only that they were glimpses of my past, easy page-flips to take a stroll back in time, to the times of adversity and struggle that brought me to this very spot right this very moment in this old city attic.

On one hand, it’s great to be able to see clearly the road that made me who I am today. On the other, I’m already me, why do I need to know how I got here? Nothing will change by re-reading these journals, right?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Something about your daddy

Dear sweet babies,

Once a night, the last two weeks in a row, your wonderful daddy has fallen asleep on the floor between both of your cribs.
There is no carpet on that floor. Just hard wood. Just goldfish crumbs. Just chewable blocks.
After nearly an hour of crying at bedtime, he’s laid down on that cold floor, and waited for you two to fall asleep. He’s done it to help you, and to help me finally get a break after a long day of no breaks.
He’s done it after being gone nearly 12 hours, leaving often before you wake and arriving home just before you go to sleep. He’s done it after struggling with commuting to work so that we need only one car, and ultimately, can avoid putting you in day care. He’s done it for us.
He’s done it because that is the kind of man he is.
He’s the kind of guy who will patiently wait for the excess water to fall off the just-washed dishes so that a puddle doesn’t form under the drainer.
He’s the kind of guy who faithfully gets up between 4:30 a.m. and 5, does the dishes, the laundry, walks the dog, feeds the dog, starts my coffee and usually brings it to me, and then takes care of his needs -- all before heading off to work.
He’s the kind of father who never complained about being sleep deprived, though the bags under his eyes told a different story. He’s right there, by my side, caring for you all day long every weekend. And, when you're asleep, he’s busy working hard on other chores that have been long neglected in the last 18 months.
He’s the kind of man who, at soon-to-be 46, under-sells himself daily, and wrongfully allows others to undersell him, including me.
When times get hard – and they’ve been so hard at times -- blame him.
Because he’s the kind of man who will take the blame, who will shoulder it all, without complaint, that’s why.
And, he’s the kind of man who after running at 6:15 a.m.– not walking – 10 minutes to catch a commuter bus to get to work, misses it by a blink, even after whistling and waving, just runs back home, gets in the car and drives. He doesn’t throw a temper tantrum like I would. Even though, all of it means he doesn't see your precious, shiny faces that morning, a fact that I’m sure breaks his heart in two all day.
There are men who think they are stars because of the job they hold, because of the money they have, because of the power they carry over others.
He is not one of those men. He gives everyone, even the most evil, the benefit of the doubt, he believes in second and third chances.
He is a star, an angel, really, because he refuses to let a single day hold him back from enjoying what’s right here in front of him, which is either the two of you, or the TV, or me. Yes, in that order.
He’s the kind of father I never had, always wished I could get, and the one who will continue to fall asleep on cold, hard floors to make sure that the rest of us are happy and content.
Nothing else matters, really.

God, we’ll get through this. I promise.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

You asked for it!

Here it is ... Mama Sexy.

Get ready, world!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bringing Sexy Back

Seriously, what is it about motherhood and becoming blah? Is it that we're so freaking tired that even so much as putting mousse in our hair seems to require too much energy? I swore to my hair stylist that I'd defuse dry my naturally curly hair at least once a week. That was three months ago. You know how many times I've done it? Yup, once. That following week.

Why bother is what I think? Half the time, I wake up to the beautiful sound of the coffee grinder on the coffeemaker and think, "Do I really need to shower today?" If I'm not going out in public, the answer is usually no, I don't. Though, I have learned that I have better days when I do anyway.

These rough-looking Mama days are hard for me, even though I've never been a high-maintenance gal. I did enjoy dressing up here and there, though, and feeling good about myself.

Now, splurging on silly things like nail polish and fancy hair gel, seems irrelevant. Even when I do get a cash surge, which is not very often, the money usually needs to go to something else, and that something else both wear a Size 5 diaper, eat us out of house and home and demand lots of attention all day.

That isn't to say I didn't have my bad days before becoming a mother. I did. In fact, I have proof that it's not all from being a mother.

Since I was a small child, writing and storytelling has been my escape, the only way I knew how to let out my exploding emotions. If I was feeling it, it was written down in the darkest of places – a journal.

As we prepare to sell our home, and downsize to hopefully live more comfortably on one income, I am faced with a box of journals that I have kept over the years. I am not sure it is every single journal I’ve ever written in, but I do believe it is most of them.

The first journal I pulled out of the box was one from seven years ago, just before I met my soon-to-be husband. Like most of my lovely journals, it’s only partially full.

This one is different than the rest; it’s not about complaining or crying, it’s about feeling sexy. I wanted to feel good about myself, once and for all. I read about this idea once and thought it was a good one. I set out to not gripe, but to list all of the ways I feel sexy.

That lasted a whopping 13 entries. Not 13 days, either … and, by the end, I was griping and complaining, mostly about men and myself. There was nothing sexy about it.

Before finding this journal, I had thought about starting up a new blog about the very same topic. I think I forgot about the journal, actually.

And now that I’ve found it, I do feel it’s appropriate now, for my mother-like self, with my ragged T-shirts, pony-tailed hair and bare face, to De-Frump or De-Slump.

It is time to make a change, to get back to that sexy girl who felt confident when she walked down the street, the one who wore heels even though they hurt and wore lipstick even though it never lasted long.

That's it. I'm bringing sexy back. As soon as that next burst of energy strikes.

Dear girls,

Do you know that you both have your mother's deep hazel greenish brown eyes, the kind that sparkle when the sun hits them just right? Did you know that you both have the same light brown hair? You both have chunky thighs that meet at the knees in a perfect squishy tenderness. You both say bye-bye, which is more like bah-bah-bah.

Yet, that is where your similarities end, except, of course, when we're playing Monkey See, Monkey Do.

When one eats fast, the other chews so slowly I think I'm watching slow motion.
When one is happy and easygoing, the other is throwing a tantrum the size of Mt. Rushmore.
When one is not teething, the other one is.
When one is learning a new skill, the other is off running around tearing things up.
When one is reading, the other is throwing.
When one is willing to eat just about anything, the other wants nothing to do with any of it.
When one is patient, the other isn't.

Yet, your learning curve continues to be the same. You know all of your body parts, and just about every animal sound, including duck, coyote and horse. We know that your language will soar very soon now as evidenced by the long sentences of gibber-jabber lately.

You also play by yourselves better than ever. Da! says that soon I will be irrelevant, that you won't need me by your side all the time.

I don't think so.

Slow, down, girls. You're growing up too fast.

Monday, July 16, 2007

An old friend

One of the first bloggers I ever read faithfully was Jen Lemen. Oddly enough, one of my husband's co-workers knows her. Through him, she sent me a book about writing as well as one of her own fabulous creations. I thought I'd share that with you today. I sink into her words each time I read the card. The words are perfect for those of us trying to live in the moment each and every day -- without much outside support.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Share the love

OK, so I've got another sinus infection headache ... I can't think straight about anything. Share the food love and tell me what's for dinner -- or lunch -- this weekend.

I'm thinking of making Mexican Turkey Burgers with Mexican corn -- the real kind. Something different, anyway.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

How much greener we talkin'?

Our home was originally built as two row homes in the late 1800s. Sometime between then and the 50s, someone had the bright idea to turn them into one hot Mama. And, she is. She's a near-perfect Colonial who is aging before our eyes, and fast. Another paint chip, another shutter piece cracked, Liana peeled more siding off ... etc.

It's no secret to most people who know us that we love our house and our neighborhood, most of the time. There have been a few situations that have left us more than displeased, but that all usually dissipates as we're walking to the farmer's markets on Saturdays or to the coffee shop midweek.

A lot has changed since we moved in here nearly four years ago as newlyweds. Infertility. Pregnancy. Twins. The First Year. Switching to one income.

We're finally seeing clearly for the first time in four years. And, what we're seeing is a mixed medium. We're parents now; things are different. If we knew then what we know now ...

As I scrub every little nook and cranny of this house this week, I am thinking about all the obvious anti-child measures that were erected in those early days.

First, the staircase (how does one home that was previously two have just one set, anyway?) leads to the top, where you have to take a steep step up either left or right to get to your next destination. In other words, there are really three landings. So, once we finally -- and I mean F.I.N.A.L.L.Y. -- reach the top, one girl starts climbing left; the other right. I'm always a nervous wreck at the top. Now they are learning to resist my directions, too, which is making that peak more painful.

Secondly, the bathroom is way too small and the door opens up to cover up half the bathtub. So, not only can we barely fit in the room together to bathe, but if I want to stop in to say hi or grab a baby who is crying, I have to first knock Da! in the back with the door, wait for him to move over as far as he can (about two inches) and then squeeze in long enough to grab a wet baby and then squeeze back out.

Heavens, what were we thinking?

I could go on. Really. But, what I'm wondering is if anyone is truly happy with their home or are you always, no matter what, seeking that greener pasture?

Buh-bye, babies

Hello Toddlers!

Here's a glimpse at what the end of babyhood offered Jadyn and Liana, and Mama and Dada. They turned 18 months old yesterday.

Last summer, they looked like this:

This summer:

And then we had to prove once and for all that elephants do need water.

And, more water for elephants ...

Ah, sweetness:

And, then, there was the girl who fell in love with a yellow squash.

Or, the girl who can really get an outfit together:

Finally, for the next great non-fiction title, Slides for Elephants:

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The State of The Mama Rant

Dear Village Members:

Remember those days when my belly bulged to the point of suffering, the way you – all of you – stared at me, felt sorry for me, and longed to help me and those baby girls inside of me. It’s impossible to minimize the importance of pregnancy, of carrying two human beings in my body. You held doors for me, switched chairs for me, made sure I was feeling well, eating well and drinking well.

We’re so excited, you said.

Oh, we can’t wait to meet them, you continued.

Whatever you need, just say it and we’ll be there.

The African Proverb that it takes a village to raise a child isn’t literal, is it?

Instead, American families live parallel lives often never really connecting. A family could be floundering, might be breaking down, could be on the brink and where’s the village? The village is busy looking away, surfing the Internet, shopping at Wally World, praying.

Where are the doers of the village? The ones who know what it’s like to want to break down and cry from exhaustion? Where are the ones who just want to spend a half hour entertaining two of the cutest little girls in the world while their Mama cooks their meal or their parents walk hand-in-hand around the block for the first time in more than 18 months? Where are the ones who want to watch them splash around in the sprinkler, wearing nothing but elephant towels and diapers?

I am a lone villager in this camp five days a week. Are children so old news that we don't need to watch the amazing adventure of their growth in person? Are monthly e-mail photos really enough?

Where are the ones who believe in that African Proverb?

I’m so busy, you say.


But, maybe you’ve heard of another saying, the one that suggests that human beings tend to always make time for what is important.

Who's important to you today?

Find a way to get to them, and hug them. Or, at least send them a real card through the village donkey.

Monday, July 9, 2007

So many books for girls, so little time

Dear Duck and Snake (your two favorite noises to make right now):

Your Da! and I have spent a lot of time reworking the inner vibes of the house, which in the process uprooted our best book storage. Since we've been trying to get rid of some, it's probably for the best. But, now my attic office looks more like some hole-in-the-wall used bookstore with much less quaintness, but probably just as steamy hot.

Now that I can see most of the books I've been harboring for so long, I can see why. I love them all, even the ones I haven't read. But, especially, the ones I have read and felt changed after reading them.

As previously promised, I'm going to tell you about some of the best ones, and why I'm keeping them with hopes that some day your eyes will read down the same pages.

The novel I'm talking about today is actually my newest purchase, and it was for my book club.

I'm talking about Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, by Lisa See.

I recommend this book for no other reason than to learn how other girls have lived, what other women have suffered through, quietly.

Our book club had a lot to say about this book, and most of us agreed that we would not be able to endure what those girls endured through the torture of foot binding, but also the soulless life they lived afterwards because they couldn't easily walk and so they practically lived in one room.

I did, however, enjoy the idea of having a group of women who were bound to you for life. I think it's a great idea and that motherhood would be easier if we had such a support group.

Any book that can both keep you turning the pages while offering a passport to another culture, another world is worth keeping around.

But, sadly, that means something has to go. You know this. I'm choosing to send two books packing this time, both by Author Anita Shreve: The Pilot's Wife and All He Ever Wanted. I only read the first, and I really liked it, but it's not something I can see passing along for deeper meaning.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Sweet, mind-boggling mysteries from last week

Why after a three-hour afternoon car ride, my babies decided to finally fall asleep the second we turned into the driveway to go home.

Why a petrified pea or a derelict sticker found on the floor easily slides into my toddlers’ mouths, but they kick, fight, turn up their noses and throw my perfectly cooked, fresh dinner on the floor.

Why one night they gobble up said perfectly freshly cooked food, and the next night flat-out refuse all of it, even though it’s the same exact meal.

Why it takes 13 and 18 miles, respectively, to get them to fall asleep in the car, but only 10 miles for them to be woken by a freaking fire truck siren.

Why feces can entertain my toddlers anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours, but the most expensive toy in our playroom keeps their attention for nothing more than 95 seconds.

Why some people feel spending their life savings on fireworks for one lousy night of the year is a good idea even though their decisions wake up sleeping babies who are afraid of loud noises.

Why my toddlers are afraid of loud noises, like air conditioners and vacuum cleaners, yet feel it's perfectly fine and fun to scream at the top of their lungs after each meal, and before bed each night.

What’s your latest mystery?

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Because one poop story isn't enough

I have another one.

People who don't know me, which is 99 percent of you these days, will probably start to think I'm making up poo stories just for the sake of getting more visitors to this site.

But, I'm not. I wouldn't. I mean, seriously, I don't think I told one gross joke in middle school when they're actually appropriate.

ONE of my girls, who shall remain nameless for her reputation's sake, refused to nap yesterday afternoon. For two hours, while her sister finally napped for the first time all day, I listened as she quietly -- and sometimes loudly -- played in her crib. I thought nothing of this as it has happened before.

But that was before she learned to undress herself.

And, apparently before she figured out how to take off her diaper, allowing poo to roll out. I guess. I wasn't there. Now I understand why a video monitor is necessary. It's not for those first few months, which are starting to look like a breeze. And, coming from someone who has vowed off another pregnancy because of those first several months, that should tell you something.

Luckily, those blueberries they can't get enough of are still making them produce rabbit-like pellets instead of something soft, it didn't make much of a mess. But, she couldn't stop telling me they were in her crib, rolling all over.

I swept up her naked self and put her on the floor and all the while she's pointing to the poop.

"Dah," she said, pointing, pointing, pointing.

So, I picked up more poop this week than ever in my life. Luckily, this time, I knew it was poop right away and used something other than my hand.

On the changing table, I told her:

"We don't play with our poopies. Poopies dirty."

Words I just never dreamed I'd have to utter.

Despite the temperature in their room, both girls were put to bed in their footy jammies wrapped in duct tape and their hands tied.

And, a plug up their butts.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Where's the emoticon for guilt?

My sweet girls,

Each day home alone with you for 11 hours fills me to the brim with emotion. I thought I’d share a few that I felt today. And, no, your mother is NOT moody.

Dread – Getting out of bed
Hope – That the coffee was done
Disappointment – That the coffee hadn’t even started
Eager – To clean up the disaster we call a playroom
Content – Watching you both flutter back and forth from toy to toy, destroying all sense of neatness the playroom could ever aspire to see.
Elated – Learning that there will be a Sex and the City movie after all.
Proud – That I landed an easy, and impressive interview with the Last American On Earth To Be At Work This Week.
Annoyance – That Liana clearly won’t take this morning’s nap and is now waking up her sister by crying.
Surprised – When a caller on the telephone asked for Karen, Dan’s wife. Who the hell is Karen?
Joy – At learning that my blog post about poo passing made “news.”
Relaxed – While spending time in the fresh air with my shorties.
Stressed – As Liana paced back and forth between tantrum and laughter while I tried to make lunch (could easily edit to add breakfast and dinner, too).
Anger – The result of many attempts to get you both to stop throwing apple chunks on our clean hardwood floors.
Some more anger – The result of apple chunks that were finely chewed being spit out of your mouths for no apparent reason.
Patience – As I cleaned up pureed and chunked up foods …
Compassion – yet still feeling kind enough to offer you each a bite of a brownie.
Disgust – While watching you lick your fingers and then pick up brownie crumbs off the kitchen floor and eat them.
Guilt – For letting you do it.
More guilt – For eating one brownie too many (I won’t share what that means to me.)
Even more guilt – For checking my e-mail instead of going to pee, which is what I really needed to do.
Even more, more guilt – For doing above instead of actually sitting on the floor and playing with you.
Wonder – Why Looky, Daddy e-mailed me to tell me to check my stats today.
Love – Seeing my usually combative twin girls playing nicely together.
Eager – To get the easily moved-to-tears Liana in for a nap.
Happiness – Seeing that in just two hours, my site had doubled the number of visitors it has ever had on its best day. Thanks to Daily Dose.
Obsessed – I didn’t realize that counting site visitors could be an actual obsession, until today.
Mischievous – When Jadyn wouldn’t eat her dinner, and I put her down on the floor, she started eating the food her sister threw on the floor. I threw a few extra chunks her way as well.
Hysterical – The way I spent the last five minutes of Little Miss Sunshine, as they drove off into the sunset with that VW horn still honking. (Yes, I’m way overdue in viewing movies, people.)
Thrilled – When I learned just now that more than 400 computer-users visited this blog today to read the Poop Story.
Puzzled – When I realized that only 1 out of 438 people who read my blog today felt inspired enough to leave a comment. Well, two if you count a spammer-type comment. Not even one wanted to try and win a free book! Odd, I tell you. Odd.
Thankful – As always, once you have been asleep for two hours, I feel thankful for the joy you bring to just about every other moment in the day, sweet girls.
Anticipation - For what tomorrow will bring. I just hope it's not poop-sharing, or food-spitting or head-banging fun.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Rockin' Girl Blogger Award

This blogging thing ... I could get used to it. After a world of non-descript, everything is black and white and only the disheveled white males can be our super heroes of newsrooms ... I can officially state that I could revel in the likes of bloggerville forever and be perfectly happy.

First, I won a free six-month subscription to Netflix, which has begun.

Now, I've been granted an award -- a Rockin' Girl Blogger award.

Because once a reporter, always a reporter, I Googled to find the original blogger for this Meme, but couldn't find it. I don't have enough time to wade through all of the searches that popped up. As it turns out, half or more of the Internets girl bloggers have been given this title. I'm technically not a girl, but as I searched neither are most of the women bloggers also receiving this meme.

Whatever, I'll take it happily. Anything to add a bright pink bling on my right column. Anything to get the poop story out of my head, and off my fingers. Anything that will attract more people to read this blog's first author interview and sign up for the giveaway.

Now, I have to find five lucky Rockin' Girl Bloggers who have been secretly hiding ...

Here are my picks for Rockin' Girl Bloggers:

Steph at Baby on Bored who really needs to change her blog title to Babies on Bored because SHE'S EXPECTING TWINS. She even knows she's expecting twin girls. We're on board with that, Steph. We love twin girls around here.

Jane who totally makes me laugh on her Baby Squared blog on www.babble.com.

Leah at Mama Dharma. I recently discovered her blog and think she has great vision and clarity, despite daily challenges.

I find it really hard to believe she hasn't been granted this title, but Rebecca from Girls Gone Child has to be the most rockingest bloggers out there. I find her writing style, her boy's brown eyes, and her insight into motherhood all profound and charming. She's the only A-list blogger I read daily.

Finally, I'm going to give a shout out, once again, to Shannon whose minimalist blog posting style had me at hello. She's all about writing on The Writer's Journey.

Thanks, MamaBlogga for honoring me with my first award.

You gotta check this out

I've been hoping to someday actually start making the girls' scrapbooks. I have collected everything, saved every scrap of paper, taken thousands of pictures, literally. I have everything I need, but the time, I guess. I've heard about digital scrapbooking, but didn't know much about it ... until now. You've gotta check this out if you haven't already.

And, now, give it up for ...

The Da!

For more Wordless Wednesday photos, go here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

This is a story about poop

Instead of publicly thanking MamaBlogga for honoring me with a Rockin' Girl Blogger Award -- my very first blogging award -- and then bestowing the title on other rockin' girl bloggers, I'm going to write about Zen.

Zen for me was starting this day knowing that finally, finally, finally the girls would be moved into their bigger room, the same room we had been preserving for guests -- like grandmothers -- to spend nights upon nights in order to be with their granddaughters as much as possible. Since that isn't happening, we decided to give that precious room to Jadyn and Liana.

Zen for me was knowing that instead of being crammed into their quaint little nursery-sized room any longer, we would all comfortably sit on the floor to read books, giggle and dance before bed and first thing each morning. After all, some of the best moments in motherhood are at the start and end of the day.

Zen for me was realizing how hard we have worked this last week in both painting the dining room and then the new girls' room. It was a ton of work, but all really worth it -- even if Da! and I didn't have much of a relaxing vacation. We were productive, and productive has its merits, too.

Zen for me was sitting back, cross legged on the floor, and staring up at my sweet, freshly bathed girls in their cribs, now next to each other like true twins. They practiced flopping back on their crib mattresses, as if they were as new as the room. They practiced touching hands through the crib slats, and then giggled.

Zen for me was sitting on my bed, close to the monitor, sorting through mounds of recipes to figure out what to buy at the store -- while listening closely to each sound they made during their first few minutes alone, at bedtime, in their new room. All was quiet; I was proud. Those books I gave them before parting ways must have been all they needed. I couldn't believe how adapted they became to the new room so easily. What great baby girls they are!

Zen for me was writing down every essential grocery item needed for the next two weeks, including two meals for families who have welcomed new babies recently. I love thinking of ways to help new mothers of twins; I so needed all the help I could get in that first year. Chocolate chip cookies were among those favorites of mine.

Zen became a bit scattered in the next few minutes, though. Liana screamed. I mean, screamed, like a boogie man jumped out of the closet or like her leg was cut off by the air conditioner. I ran in to see what was the matter.

There, I found her sitting comfortably, smiling by this point. Her fingers were covered in black goo. As I try to move her out the mess, which was scattered about on her mattress, I searched around and around the new room for what she could have gotten a hold of that would be so black, so sticky -- all the while I'm gathering it up, blotting the big piece with the little shards, like Play-doh. Then, it hits me ... the smell, perhaps, the feeling of it, the color ... it was poop. She had been playing with shit.

But, wait, where did this Shit come from? Wait. Jadyn had been the one to seem like she needed to poop right before bed. Jadyn was the one.

Zen, for me, is realizing that my almost 18-month-old twin daughters just spent the last 10 minutes of their lives learning to share for the very first time by passing turds back and forth between their cribs.

Zen hit me again, while they were soaking in their second bath for the night, when I realized that playing with poop is a lot like playing with Play-doh, only they try to eat Play-doh.

Oh, goodness ...

Monday, July 2, 2007

Married with twins

It was a short conversation, me at the refrigerator, Da! by the stairs. The discussion of how and when and where to go for an outting was weighing on us. Time passed. The lunchtime rush had settled into the bones of the old house. Liana was throwing herself on the floor out of hunger. Jadyn, just crying, crying, crying. Ah, another meal. What's this add up to be -- 21 meals a week times 28 weeks? You do the math.

11:45 a.m.

ME: Well, we're going to have to have lunch now.

Da!: Oh, good, I'll take a shower.

ME: Fine. Go take YOUR shower.

Da!: Can I help you with something?

ME: No, I don't need any help.

Da!: What's wrong?

ME: Go ahead and take YOUR shower. I haven't had one yet today, but whatever. I'll make lunch.

Da!: But, I didn't shower yesterday.

Me: (cracks up while searching for the cheese) You win.

MOMMA ZEN: An author interview, and giveaway

I'm proud to announce that this is my first author interview on LTMD. Honestly, I hadn't really been planning to do any, but I found author Karen Maezen Miller's new blog, Cheerio Road, about a month ago and knew it was perfect. About 10 months into my motherhood job, I read her book, "Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood." I had already read a similar book and knew it was something I had to have the second I saw a mention of it in a magazine.

Karen is a Zen Buddhist priest, a wife and a mother of Georgia, who was born in 1999.

In addition to answering my questions about being a mother, being a writer, and being Buddhist, she is kind enough to giveaway five copies of her book. Learn more below about how to enter the random drawing at the close of the interview.

Without further ado, here's the Q&A. Thanks, Karen!

LTMD: First, I loved "Momma Zen: Walking the Crooked Path of Motherhood." It came to me at a time I needed it most; when my young twins were overwhelming me each day. Can you provide how your book came to be for blog readers?

KMM: I have been a writer all of my professional life, but always as a PR person or ghostwriter. Momma Zen was the first thing I ever wrote in my own name. When my daughter turned two, shortly after my mother died, I felt ripe with words. I got a laptop and went away for the weekend. It was a very rare and predetermined act. I drove up to a small inn overlooking Big Bear Lake here in Southern California, and I started to write recollections of my pregnancy and early days of motherhood. It was as though a voice--perhaps my mother's voice --had arrived to provide me clarity and encouragement. I was writing to myself. I naively thought I could finish in two days! (It ultimately took two years.) As I kept writing, I showed chapters to my husband and he said, "Karen, this is Zen." Although I had practiced Zen meditation for 10 years, I had been reluctant to write anything at all about my Buddhist practice. I felt I had no authority to teach, and I still don't. But my husband had perceived what I had not. I was still viewing my spiritual life as separate from my life as a mother. I saw them as two things and often, in conflict. But the words I had written proved otherwise: life as a mother is a spiritual practice. And so it is for us all, whether we know it or not and no matter what beliefs we have. My point in writing was to encourage other mothers to realize the wisdom they already have.

LTMD: To prepare these questions, I wanted to go back and re-read some pages in your book. The first page makes reference to the overuse and misuse of the word Zen, which I know I used in one of our first e-mail exchanges. I was worried that I used it improperly.

KMM: I hope you didn't worry too much! Worrying about it really would be a waste of your precious life. Zen literally means meditation. Meditation means attention. Not some special kind of attention, but the attention you already have. Most of the time we waste our attention thinking about what doesn't exist: our worries, fears, anxieties, and all those "what-ifs." In fact, we think that's what parenthood is all about: engineering the best possible outcome. In meditation we learn to pay attention, or awaken, to what is right in front of us. In Zen, we even meditate with our eyes partly open. We pay attention to the here and now. When we pay attention to what is here, it always has the most beneficial impact on the future. Our children are always right here and now. In our hearts, we already know that to be present with our children right now is the best way to nurture the future. It's the only thing we can give them!

LTMD: You state in your book's introduction, you state that "zen is motherhood." Please explain.

KMM: Zen is paying attention to your life as it really is, so however your life really is, is Zen. Zen is motherhood, Zen is fatherhood, Zen is childhood, Zen is sleeping, Zen is laughing, Zen is eating, Zen is tired, Zen is crying, Zen is confused. Zen is even angry! Zen is you, just as you are. Zen is not some manufactured state, some better way to be. It means dropping the self-criticism, opinions and judgments and just being yourself. (By the way, most of our judgments are about not being good enough, so just dropping those is a big improvement.)

LTMD: I have found that blogging has truly helped me find beauty in the everyday lifestyle of mothering and being a wife. As each moment passes, I am forced to stop and think about it, and think, this would be a great blog post. Do you experience the same mindfulness when it comes to your new blog, Cheerio Road?

KMM: Absolutely. Before, I always seemed to be waiting for somebody else to ask me to write something. My writing became something special that happened only under certain circumstances. I would weigh and value it, even before I got started, thinking to myself, "This is an essay, this is an article, this is a chapter, this is the next book!" The blog is my commitment to writing for its own sake. Freed from any expectation, I see that my life is full of writing opportunities! It is overflowing with lessons, insights and encouraging signs. So I try to keep it spontaneous and unrelated to any outcome. No one may read it; someone may read it; the sun comes up and another day appears. As long as I don't get caught up in my own blogging ego, the practice is very pure. Like making today's breakfast. You don't carry around the oatmeal for a month trying to make something else out of it. You move on to other meals!

LTMD: You recently wrote on your blog that no one asks you how you meditate, only how you get your daughter, Georgia, to meditate. It was a lovely post. I actually found it interesting because my first question to you, over coffee, would be how do you meditate each day or throughout a day, with a child around? Your book offers great tips for mediating. Could you share a few with us, and how you eventually found a way to fit meditation into your busy mothering day?

KMM: What I meant is that people only seem to be interested in getting their own children to meditate, or sometimes they call it "focus." People rarely ask me how they themselves can begin meditating. Just another example of how we often view our children as the problem, imposing higher expectations on them then ourselves. My point was the same one I made in the book: everything begins with you! Just parenting ourselves is a full life's work, and our children will be so much better off if we do! The only way we teach them is by how we live.

I don't want anyone to think that I live differently than they do, or that with a small child underfoot I levitate into nirvana. More often, I scream my head off. But I finally did realize that the only sliver of the day I had control over was the minutes right before I went to bed at night. My formal home meditation practice consists of doing seated meditation on my zafu (cushion) in my bedroom at night before I get into bed. What bliss! It really helps me relax and let go of the day and sleep better, and I only do this for a few short minutes. Throughout the day, many activities can be meditative. They focus the mind and body in unison. Like singing, walking, exercise, yoga, knitting, artwork, gardening, folding laundry, cooking and conscious breathing (count to 10 before you explode). The opportunities are endless. Once you practice on a cushion, it is much easier to take mindfulness into your everyday life. Mindfulness, by the way, is kind of a misnomer. Our minds are too full already. I like to think of it as mindlessness. Empty mind, open and alert to what is happening now.

LTMD: You talk in your book about how we all spend so much time thinking about the life that we want, but really life is what is happening right now, this very minute. You also talk about the Crooked Path of Motherhood, and how we are all Other Mothers -- the mothers we see and think have it all, but really do not. How has knowing all of this, helped you be a better mother to your daughter? How has it helped you feel better about the life you are living?

KMM: You see, there it is right there: "better." I don't know if it is better. I try not to even think about being better, because the thinking always makes it worse. My point is to just be. Here's my only testimonial: I laugh. I smile. I lose it and quickly say I'm sorry. I see the utter delight that my daughter sees in her life and herself. I see the beauty and the bittersweetness, and it makes me cry. A lot. So far, every age and stage is more wonderful (sure there are struggles, there always are), but I love it all. There's nothing I would change, because it changes by itself as soon as I let it go. It's a show, the most amazing show on earth, and it never ends.

To enter this random drawing you will need to write (in any amount of words) about this statement: "For me, Zen is ..." You may write your answer in the comments section here, or on your own blog, but you must link to this post and to Karen's blog as well. Please, no matter what, leave a comment here notifying us of who is entering the drawing. Deadline to enter this contest is Saturday, July 7 by midnight. The Da! will pick the five lucky winners of "Momma Zen" Sunday by noon.
You do not have to be a blogger to enter this drawing; just leave your comment below.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

What's in a name?

Dear Jadyn and Liana,

When I started this blog earlier this year, I thought I would be writing to myself, mostly. I've been used to writing for an audience, but never one so compassionate. I'm glad I found them. Or they found me.

There are some fabulous bloggers reading this blog, who actually care what goes on in our lives. Amazing, huh?

I'm not surprised by most of the bloggers who came forth earlier this week to mention that they are a blogger except for the Indian Textiles guy. That's new to me, but not totally surprising since I have a huge fascination for Indian culture and food. Perhaps he'll return and comment more often, not just for the blog roll list. And, then, there was the sweet lady from Working Mothers Without Guilt. She probably hasn't read much of my previous posts so we'll let her explore for a while before she commits to being on the blog roll.

So, Jadyn. So, Liana. Here are some of our blogging friends -- a few you know already -- and here's a little about them.

PJ Hoover. I've been impressed by PJ's writing blog for some time, how she tries eagerly to stay on task of writing, and inspiring writing. She's so motivated, actually, that she will become a published author next year in the young adult genre. I didn't even realize she had a non-writing blog.

Shannon. I told you about Shannon last week in a post about cyber soul mates. She is also mom of twins who were born only two weeks before you were. She blogs about writing, mostly.

MPJ. You know her because she comments here the most. MPJ writes passionately about various topics, but probably known most for her amazing ability to tell-all (anonymously) about her husband's sex addiction and how she's devoted to him after so many lies. That's love. But, that's not all. She has plenty other great topics that she discusses, including her autistic son who she once wrote is a lot like her, unlike her daughter. And, she reaches an audience of recovered addicts.

Candace. I had to laugh when Candace wasn't sure if she had a special interest. She wrote, "My only special interest tends to be my daughter though." Seriously, Candace, is anything else possible with children? Candace, a good ol' southern mama, has a 2-year-old, Anna, and just celebrated her wedding anniversary this week. She wrote a cute note to her husband that included this," You have suffered through chicken so dry you need a whole glass of water to swallow one bite." Candace also writes a cute blog from the perspective of Anna.

Kasie Sallee. An artist. An Oklahoman mommy to two girls, 5 and 2. What more can be written? She writes about the balance of mom and artist, including writers, on her blog The Art of Life. She is a passionate person, you can tell, by reading her posts.

Lesley. I hate to admit this, but this blogger just might have one of the cutest sets of twins around. Check out her boy/girl cuties who are just about 9 months old. She writes about being a mom of twins, and other topics related to being a mom.

Finally, I've linked to this guy, plenty, and he has numerous fans as it is. Though, not as many as his wife.

So, there you have it. A short but sweet list of bloggers to check out, if you haven't already.

As for the surprise, perhaps I built it up too much. Perhaps a housekeeper or a babysitter is really the only gift you'd be happy with. But, a little link love will just have to suffice. That, and the best gift of all ... which are both located in the very first line of this post.