Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Book Review: Rockabye

Last year when I stumbled upon Rebecca Woolf's Girls Gone Child blog, I was instantly captured by her wit and honesty and beauty.

I am not one to be smitten with the Famous (well, there's a few people I've idolized) but Woolf's writing style had me at first click. She's been on my blog roll since I've had one and it's only been in the last week that she's even known that I existed.

I'm a lucky woman these days being offered to review products in exchange for a freebie. For a one-income family and a starving artist writer mommy, this has truly been a blessing for me.

There are some books I have, especially right now, I put off reading once they arrive in the mail.

Woolf's memoir, "Rockabye," is not one of them. From the gorgeous cover to the witty synopsis on the back, I was ready to roll up my sleeves and get reading.

I read books on Mama Time now so it took me two weeks to read it, but that's not because I didn't want to sit down and devour it. It is, in fact, a fabulous read that, more importantly, gets a Mama thinking.

If you know a woman who is pregnant for the first time, pregnant unexpectantly or just a little shell-shocked by the fact that a human being is growing inside her body, this book will make a great addition to that baby shower gift. If you have ever struggled with fitting in as a mother, following the rules or breaking them as a mother or wanting more than just caring for your kids then this book is for you.

Just like her blog -- with many of the same themes -- "Rockabye" leads you on a long walk in Hollywood, where you learn quickly that Woolf is truly a gem of a mom in a city that could easily swallow up a new mom in a single vegan bite.

This book made me laugh out loud and I was sharing bits with my husband -- especially about her arguments with her husband, Hal.

I think about Woolf's story often since finishing - especially yesterday when I had two toddlers hugging my legs to the point I could not move. Their strength is amazing to me. Woolf described a time when her son Archer was physically assaulting her and she seriously felt like he was going to kill her. I laughed so hard at that, knowing how that feels, like you might not escape this one (at least not without hurting the child).

What says with me most, though, is her confidence as a mother to let her children be children and to not worry about what others are doing and thinking. She demonstrates how she insists that Archer isn't put in a box and raised to be like every other child because he is not like every other child. He is Archer.

There's some lessons to be learned in that.

Seriously. Check out her book if you have an extra $10 around somewhere. It truly is worth reading.

Be sure to read my interview with Woolf. And, check out the other reviews of "Rockabye" as well at The Parent Bloggers Network blog.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008


What if after more than a year of being at home, being just a little more than just a mom and someone – no, not just someone – a very important someone called upon you for a very big job?

What if the mere thought of leaving your daughters made you sick to your stomach, and yet the job is enticing and interesting and perfect enough to get your mind racing about it?

Could you imagine dropping your daughters off at day care, wondering about their day and picking them back up only to have a couple hours before bed to spend time with them?

Would evenings and weekends – and some holidays – be enough?

Does the sound of your own high heels clicking on the tile floors excite you or make you cringe?

And skirts? You hate skirts, right? Especially after day after day in sweatpants and T-shirts, right?

Why on earth do you need the money anyway? You’re fine living just above the line on one-income.

It’s just money, right? And most of that would go to day care, yes?

What would your daughters want from you? What is best for them? To be stuck at home some days of the week with their crazy mommy asking them to do crazy art projects yet again? Or, playing and learning to socialize and get along with other kids every day of the week?

What would they want? What do they need right now -- to play and learn, right. Wouldn't they like to do that with friends?

Do you think they can learn as well from someone else?

Would they understand why you are suddenly leaving them every day?

Can you imagine leaving the one that cries for you when you only leave the room let alone for an entire day, for an entire week for weeks on end? Would she eventually stop crying for me?

What if it's for a job that could change lives? What if it's for a job that puts nothing above serving and caring for fellow human beings?

Dear Counsel of the Internets: WWYD?

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Interview: Rebecca Woolf of Girls Gone Child

There's little secrets left to tell about Rebecca Woolf, well-known mom blogger of Girls Gone Child fame and mother to sweet little Archer. On her blog, and in her recently published memoir, Rockabye, Woolf is a tell-all kind of writer and woman. I admire that immensely. Though we lead extremely different lives, an interview with her makes me realize how alike we actually are -- and maybe that is why I've always been a big fan of her blog and writing. I'll be reviewing Woolf's book tomorrow for The Parent Bloggers Network. In the meantime, check out her blog and this interview with this rocking Mama. Believe me, you'll want to stick around to see this one end. Here goes ...

Shawn @ Between the Lines: Thank you so much for taking the time to answer questions. I’m sure you are extremely busy now that your book tour for your memoir, “Rockabye” has kicked off. I’m also sure it’s a thrilling kind of busy. Many of my readers and I are aspiring writers through either non-fiction or fiction so reading and reviewing your book was a real treat for me. You were one of the first Bloggers I read on a regular basis and I have always admired your honesty and great love for your son.

First, please tell me how Girls Gone Child came to be. It’s a great name and seems very well thought out. Did you do much research before starting? Did your blogging style and voice evolve over time? And, how did you build your readership?

WOOLF: I started blogging in 2002. I had a personal blog called Pointy Toe Shoe Factory ( is now defunct), a blog I started as a travel (and life) log when I was 21. My slogan was: “prove your pointy” and I used shoes as my ongoing metaphor for life… the journey… a young single-girl and her experiences. When Archer was born, PTSF didn’t really fit my lifestyle anymore. I was introduced to a few mom-blogs, Bite My Cookie ( was really what inspired me. And it’s author, Dana has since become one of my best friends. My blog was originally named Childbearing Hipster but then I found that there was another Childbearing Hipster so I changed the name to Girl’s Gone Child after a brainstorm sesh. My slogan: “Welcome to the new titty-flashing all nighter” because, well, when you become a mother, your tits pretty much become breasts and all-nighters become very different all-nighters then the ones we remember from our single-years. I mean… right?

SHAWN: I must say that there are many lines and sections of your book that I had thought to myself and even though I’m considered to be a pretty truthful blogger, your book comes and out says things that only I’ve ever thought to myself. How did you discover your writer voice and has that voice always been candid and transparent? If not, when and how did it evolve over the years?

WOOLF: I have no shame. I was never to cross my legs under my chair and sit quietly at the table and that’s gotten me into loads of trouble but it has also allowed me to open up and be honest with myself and my peers. I’ve always been very comfortable talking about the burps and farts of life, the fears and failures. I think it makes me a more interesting writer and person to show flaws. I don’t close my doors, because there is nothing I have going on behind them that is exceptionally unique. We’re all having different versions of the same experience. I want to relate to people and in turn, hope they can relate to me.

I think honesty is one of the greatest gifts we can give to one another, especially as women. One can have grace and class and still talk about her post-partum vagina. And I think we owe it to one another to be candid and open and real, especially when it comes to the things that isolate us most (marriage, motherhood…) For instance I was appalled that no one told me about the physical aftereffects of childbirth. The pain and the bleeding and the fear that sex will never be what it was before childbirth. I was deathly afraid of sexual surrender, mainly because I didn’t have anyone to talk to about it at the time. It makes me feel less alone to open up to people, just as I hope it makes people feel less alone to be opened up to.

SHAWN: I was overly excited to see your book placement on the shelves – smack dab between Mary Wolstencraft and Virginia Woolf. It seems more than fitting considering for you and your memoir. Then, I saw that you quote Virginia Woolf in the beginning of your book. Virginia Woolf is one of my favorite writers. How has Woolf been an inspiration to you as a woman, as a mother and as a writer? What other writers, historic or present day, have you considered your muse, of sorts?

WOOLF: Virgina Woolf was always fascinating to me (as a child) mainly because we shared a last name. When I was old enough to appreciate Woolf I read a great many of her works. A Room of One’s Own is by far my favorite work of Woolf’s, one I would highly recommend to any woman and writer. The quote I chose for the book was one I found to be so inspiring, so totally the way I’d define my parenting philosophy and I suppose, general life philosophy (Thinking against the current… puncturing gas bags and discovering the seeds of truth). I didn’t intend to choose a Woolf quote to open the book, I just kind of fell in love with the strength and independence in those words.

Anais Nin is a goddess to me. I worship her writing, her thoughts. And of course, Henry Miller who I equally adore for different reasons but as a woman I most identify with Nin. She was a brilliant philosopher, on top of being an incredible writer. I have a tattoo around my waist adapted from her book, House Of Incest “… only the truth dressed up as a fairytale…” it says. She’s my ultimate hero. I also adore Jeanette Winterson’s work (specifically Written on the Body and Art and Lies.) If I could write like anyone I would write like Winterson, but if I could spend time with any writer dead or alive, it would be Anais Nin. Other writers that have been of inspiration to me are Colette, Marguerite Duras, Lawrence Durrell and Sylvia Plath.

SHAWN: Congratulations on your pregnancy. You are due Oct. 12 with your second child and have been busy preparing (including the ever-so-important name decisions). Your book gives great details about how hard those first two years as a mother were for you. And yet, you have a very clear, undying love for your son. What will you do differently, if anything, this time around both during your birth and delivery and in that first year or two of mothering a young child?

WOOLF: As far as my birth is concerned I had a really terrible experience with my OBGYN last go around so this time, I’ve found a fantastic doctor that has already made this experience so much more delightful than the last. So there’s that. In terms for what I would do differently with my next child, it’s too soon to know. I know how to be a good parent to Archer and will have to get to know this next child in order to be a good parent to him/her. It will be interesting to see if I apply the same parenting philosophies to both children. I definitely believe that each child is unique and should be treated and nurtured as such.

Oh! And this time around I solemnly swear to get my kid a birth certificate. Archer’s almost three and I still haven’t made the trek downtown to the notary to get him one. I know… it’s horrible.

SHAWN: The way you describe today’s modern parents – full of dreams and goals and distractions – was so right on I was practically cheering you on while reading late one night. It really is a fine line to be a mother and to be a dreamer, too, because so much of our life isn’t our own anymore. It’s like walking on a tight rope every day of what we want to do and what has to get done. What advice do you have to offer other dreamers like myself to write that book or pursue any other dreams women might have while caring for young children?

WOOLF: Women are nurturers sometimes to a fault and become a parent exacpterates our desire to nurture. Unfortunately more than not, we forget the importance of nurturing ourselves, so concentrated are we on our families and children. I’ll use the ol’ sex analogy. It’s easiest to lay there, wait for the man to get off and be done with it, but what’s the point, then? What’s the point of sex if there’s no happy ending? What’s in it for anybody? No man wants an unfulfiilled woman. And how many of us are really enjoying ourselves just laying there?

With some work and perhaps some self-stimulation, it is possible to “have it all”… To provide and still be provided for. I guess my advice would be to masturbate your creativity. Ha! Set a time every day for you and the things that make you feel whole. Whether that’s working on career aspirations, creative impulses, etc. There is always time for the things we truly love and we owe it to ourselves and our families to feel good about ourselves and what we are doing to better and nurture our own identities.

How does blogging inspire/motivate/move you as a writer? As a mother? Do you ever think you’ll quit blogging?

Blogging has been very beneficial to me. I love doing it and it’s absolutely made me a better writer, and parent but most of all it’s given me a community of like-minded amazing parents and people and that has been the most inspiring thing of all.

I don’t know if I’ll quit blogging. I will stop blogging about Archer at some point (my cut-off is Kindergarten.). I think at a certain age, our children should make the call as to whether or not they want to be written about. I don’t want to tell Archer’s story for him…It’s his story to tell, after all and I believe it should be up to him whether or not he wants to tell it himself.

SHAWN: Finally, what’s next for you? Will you delve back into that original dream of yours – to write a novel?

WOOLF:Yes! I actually just finished a short script that I’ll be co-producing this summer, in a feature presentation (with four other film-makers.) It’s a very exciting project and I’m the token female on board so I feel kind of scared and special all at once. It’s also my first stab at screenwriting. It’s super low-budget, indie-rock situation but I’m proud of my little script and also am working on a pilot based on Rockabye with my husband, Hal, who’s a producer.

Re: my novel. I’m picking up where I left off last January when I sold Rockabye and had to drop my current novel renovations. I have a lot of work to do yet. The story takes place in San Francisco during WWII so I’ve had to do a lot of research and the book’s format is insanity so it’s going to take some time to write it the way I’d like it to read. This is actually my third novel. I finished two but neither were good enough I don’t think. I have high hopes for this new one, though. I think I’m ready to be a novelist. I feel ready. I hope.

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Many thanks for a deliciously green conversation about being more eco-friendly. Lots of great ideas so be sure to read through them all and make a list of what you haven't done yet to reduce your carbon footprint.

I've talked before about how we have been a one-car family for a year and a half and we try to avoid driving that car -- an SUV -- too much. Dan commutes to work. I walk for groceries when possible.

We buy local fruits and vegetables and some meats except in winter when it's just too cold to deal with the walk.

We have all CFL bulbs -- which reduced our electric bill GREATLY -- and we are doing our best to recycle everything possible, even coffee grounds at times, which we scattered around rose bushes.

Like most people, we have a long way to go, yet, and so I'll be using a lot of those comments everyone left last week.

The random winner of the giveaway -- Healthy Child, Healthy World -- is Frugallm at Frugal 20. Congrats!

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wait ... before I go!!!


I feel like celebrating. How about a giveaway in honor of Hillary Clinton winning big in Pennsylvania???

Yup, just leave a comment below telling me what your family has done -- or wants to do -- to help reduce your family's eco-footprint this year.

One random winner who has left an appropriate comment below will win a copy of the following book: Healthy Child, Healthy World, which I reviewed here. Please, please, please leave an email so I do not have to go hunting you down.

(Oh, and this is a Democratic blogger here talking so no need to try and sway me toward Obama; if he wins, he'll be supported like crazy.) (Anti-Hillary comments will automatically be deleted.) (Comments praising Hillary as president will count twice!! LOL just kidding ... but leave 'em anyway)

Good luck. The winner will be announced on this blog next Tuesday.

For more giveaways, go here:

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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hal-low, Writer Mama!

The question I get asked second most besides, "Twins?" is actually about how I manage to have a freelance writing career along with caring full-time for my girls.

Sometimes I don't know the answer myself. Other times, it's easy for me to understand -- it's because I rarely take on too much than what I know I can handle.

That would NOT be the case right now.

So, I'm going to skip off into the sunset with sticky little girl fingers and a pile of writing assignments tucked neatly below my eyelids.

Not only have we listed our house back on the market (um, not one call, yet), but I'm juggling three other deadlines, taking a freelance pitch e-course and then, of all times, a good-paying assignment (= lots of work) landed in my inbox yesterday and I'm going to need to focus on harder for a week. (You know, and not worry about comments, not worry about responding to comments, not worry about not reading all of your blogs, and not worry about not having any comments, etc. It's true that this portion of blogging takes up more time than the actual writing the blog itself.) So, all work, including the fun, but not growing, Fun for Moms meme will be suspended on this blog for 7 days.

When $$$ calls I must answer and say Hal-low, which is how Jadyn and Liana say it even if IT is a pebble or a banana or a small block.

Hal-low, Money. Hal-low, Work.

I'll return next week with a must-read interview with one of the coolest bloggers in all of the blogoland: Rebecca Woolf from Girls Gone Child. If you're not a fan yet, you will be. I'll share my interview with her next week along with my review of her book, Rockabye. Stay tuned and have a wonderful week.

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Monday, April 21, 2008

Let's celebrate now, while we can!

We're celebrating many, many things today at my other blog. Come on over and check it out.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

When I Say Madam ...

You say President!





These were the words that got to me among a small crowd of thousands at the intersection a half block from our favorite farmer's market.

I've taken longer than I thought to write about this because I'm still absorbing it, still mulling over it and what I heard hours later, long after Hillary Clinton departed for her next Pennsylvania destination.

She was compassionate. And stunning. And full of life and passion. When she entered the stage, I couldn't hold the camera to take a picture. I was so moved by her presence.

She is fearless, and she is bold. She is everything -- and much more -- than the media has portrayed her these last 15 months.

She is not a quitter, and that's what we teach our children, isn't it? It's what we admire in the world's most courageous leaders. I admire her for that; I think she'll know when it's time to give up. We all do.

I learned so much more about her in a half hour than I have from any news report. If this were a job interview, I'd hire her on the spot for her passion for the job, for her details about how she'll do it and for her eagerness to please regular people like me and my urban dwelling neighbors.

Hillary speaks to her crowd as if they are intelligent, as if they get it and don't need a lesson in how hard long they've been depressed or repressed: she just lists and lists and lists all that she will do to make things better. Nothing glossy or sensational. Nothing evil or scary. Nothing bitchy or negative. No dreamy speeches with silver linings; just the facts, ma'am.

Yes, just the little itsy bitsy old facts that matter more than anything else in a presidential election, Madam.

Madam President.


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Saturday, April 19, 2008

24 hours to go ...

Our Friday afternoon in preparation for this:

An after-nap cruise to the local campaign office to snag some stickers.

The local campaign office where volunteers ooohed and ahhed over us.

A flower for Hillary or for Mama or for whomever.

Giggly girls who forgot all about their stickers.

Blowing bubbles toward each other is the most fun we've had in a long time.

After a good hand washing, a filling dinner and a good night's sleep, we're off this afternoon to see a presidential candidate in real life.

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Friday, April 18, 2008

I'm an emotional wreck

Just when I thought I had lost hope; that all hope was lost.

I woke to this news this morning: That Hillary Clinton will be visiting my town tomorrow, a Saturday of all days. Any other day it wouldn't work. But, a Saturday ... oh, my.

And, then this afternoon, I learned this: That Hillary Clinton will be visiting in my town in the very spot of the sidewalk where I walk my girls weekly. She will be just blocks from my home.

I am a teary mess of renewed hope and fear of rising hopes; of dreams and inspiring ambitions, of potential and real, significant change. This afternoon, I will walk Jadyn and Liana into the local campaign office and find something to wear for their first attempt at learning about the power of women.

But, what will we wear?? If only I had ordered T-shirts. Will we get close enough for her to see our future women leaders?

(And, to let you know how BIG this moment is for us here in PA my house has been visited and called on twice by Hillary volunteers in the last two hours).

Maybe there's a chance I'll get to do that scrapbook after all. Maybe, just maybe, someone who needs to know it, will learn that she is nice. (If that's what it will take to get a woman president -- for her to be nice than so be it.)

If not, at least I have these blog posts. And, drippy mascara on my face. And, two daughters who hopefully will get a better, more fair chance at the podium.

I will blog about the event tomorrow evening.

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Shake, shake, shake ...

Our letting go of the rules fun this week was going to be about traveling to Daddy's work, hitting a kid museum ... but then this morning we were struck by the Fun Bug that I wanted to share. I didn't get any pictures ...

But, for Easter Mom Mom gave Dan a box of Easter eggs filled with candy. We hid them from the Monsters because they aren't child-friendly and we don't give them candy anyway.

I just remembered that they were hidden this morning. I got them down to inspect them and realized as I pulled them out of the box that they would be more than just Easter eggs. They are clear plastic and filled with bright colored hard candies like carrots.

Perfect! Music is the one element of fun that I try to mix into our day, whether it be making our own, listening or dancing. It always brings a certain vibrancy to our day and so I know it's an essential ingredient to our better days.

They were already made shaker eggs, which among our clan is a big, big, big deal.

So, in a circle before the breakfast dishes were cleared we had this fun:

Shake them
Shake them up high
Tap them on the floor
Shake them behind your back
Shake them by your ears
Shake them on your belly
Shake them between your legs
Shake them down low
Shake them to the side
Shake them to the other side
Tap them together
Shake them fast
Shake them slow
(and the last two were so popular that we did that a few times)

We ended with Roll Them, which became a new game in itself.

To make your own egg shakers go here. I suspect that next year, I'll find some new items to store inside to mix it up a bit. But, for now, I think we've found a new fun game to start our mornings with ... add a little music, and let the FUN begin.

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Fun, fun, fun

Do you have any new Fun for Moms ideas to share this week? Time has slipped before my eyes and I have evidence of fun, but it will have to be posted later today.

In the meantime, how about linking to a post you've written in the past that involved having some Fun with your Kids ... doesn't have to include pictures or it could. Doesn't have to be long, but it may be.

What's your idea of having fun with your kids? Leave a comment or a link with Mr. Linky.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

No Hablo Toddlerese

This post started from a comment on Karen's blog until I realized that I, perhaps, had a little more to say than just a passing comment. (Eh-hem)

A book, perhaps. Or, a series of books.

As you know, I've been studying the younger set for a little bit now and, well, I've come to realize that I'm absolutely clueless.

I just don't get it. I'm starting to think jumping off the rooftop in front of a tractor trailer would be more pleasing at times.

Like when one of my girls stuffs her mouth with all of her snack, and her sister's so that her mouth is so filled a milky slobber dribbles from her lips and onto the clean floors.

Or, when they pull out the claws over a booster seat. No, silly, not the OTHER booster seat. I'm talking about THAT one, the one that isn't the OTHER one that looks EXACTLY like it. The one that is worth SCRATCHING an eye out over because it's NOT the other one.

Or, why they will chatter all morning about going outside or going in the car, but the second we're supposed to actually GO OUTSIDE OR GO IN THE CAR, they are suddenly no where to be found or found sheepishly hiding atop the stairs, waiting. And, by the way, no amount of pleases, come heres or threats work. My butt has to go. upstairs. and. get. her. Rinse and Repeat on some mornings. Some. Very. Bad. Mornings.

And, then there's this: It's perfectly fine to get soaking wet after, oh, a half hour playing in dirty water outside, but if a single drop of water gets on her shirt sleeve while washing her hands in the sink all bets are off, and so is that shirt. Or else. There is no reasoning, either. Just. Remove. Shirt. Rinse. Repeat. Five, maybe Six. Times. A. Day.

But, toddlerese isn't the only thing I can't translate. I don't really understand husbandese either these days. You know, when he tells me that I'm worrying "too much" and I respond with your not worrying enough. But, I'm considered to be "attacking" and this is why he's harmed for life you see. (I won this one, by the way.)

No, I'm not really understanding people right now. They are all too wishy-washy for me. No one can make a decision, yet no one likes any of my decisions.

So, yeah, life is feeling a lot like being in another country, and I do not speak the native language.

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Monday, April 14, 2008

Review: Your Baby Can Read

Reading is the most enjoyable part of our day. Well, mostly. Not when my twin daughters fight over who gets to turn the page or what book we'll read. But when they really get into a story and laugh and point at the pictures, it's perfect and just how I envisioned my days as a Mama.

So, when I was asked by the Parent Bloggers Network to review Your Baby Can Read Starter DVD and Volume 1 DVD I was pretty excited at the concept.

To read the rest of this review please go here.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

An Urban Love-Hate Affair

My feet hit the pavement in rough taps as I remembered just how much energy it takes to move one leg in front of the other for more than a few steps at a time.

This is what it feels like to move again, to live again.

Winter had turned me into a caged monster. A lethargic, cranky beast who nearly forgot what it was like to feel the sunshine warming her cheeks or to feel a breeze shift her hair into her face. It feels as if I curled up under a dark blanket and slept for three months. Everything is the same again, and I find it comforting.

Each step brought me closer to more of the same. It all felt new. I felt alive, awake. I soaked it all in as smells of Puerto Rican spices wafted through the air mixing with the smoke-filled exhaust from passing buses. We stopped to smell pansies next to the newly installed trash cans. We stepped carefully around shattered glass to hurry to watch the day care children giggle and play in the courtyard.

This is what it means to be in love. To remember to love what you hate. To forget the hate for all that you love. This is what it means to feel a part of something.

Walking is a form of meditation for me. My mind wanders with each stride, and these days it truly is the only time my mind can just settle into one complete thought instead of a million fragments. Sentences, new phrases, new ideas zoom into my mind like the Subway to its next stop: fast, furious and fierce. It's why I carry a notebook; to catch the pristine moments and distinguish them from the junk.

This is what it feels like to dream, again. To remember how good dreams can feel as they wash over your body and as you take it all in and smile.

Our walks are always more like tours through a museum -- one filled with life and color and familiar objects. Fire trucks! Look at that truck. The red buses. The blue bird. The dogs. The busy dogs. Looky, there ... I see a baby. Sleeping baby.

In the farmer's market we oooh and aahh and wow over the red California strawberries and the especially green green beans. We weave through stand after stand filled with food -- glorious, homegrown food.

This is what community is about, this is where I left it last fall when the weather turned cold. I left it here, at the farmer's stand, where the colors are vivid and the cycles of seasons stare me in the face.

I was amazed that after not riding in the stroller that my daughters were eager to sit and let the sights wash over them for 10 blocks with nary a squabble or slap. In fact, they hugged on the ride back. They were just as awake as I to the renewal feeling that spring brings along with it. They felt it.

There is so much to learn from these walks, and despite my mixed feelings on leaving this city, I am so in love with it when the weather is perfect and my fellow community members come out of their hiding places and convene on the sidewalks. Their toothless grins, and stern, hopeless-filled eyes move me to appreciate my path all the more. They humble me and inspire me and fill me with great inspiration. To write again. To live again. To love again.

This is what compassion feels like. This is eternal bliss. This feeling of walking on air and passing the world by with smiles and busy lives. This is my neighborhood. These people are my reality. They are my whole world.

I am in awe. Always. Forever. In awe.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

An interview to share

If you haven't gotten enough of me by now ... you can learn a few more things by going to Bella's place to read her interview with me. Thanks, Bella, for choosing me to interview along with so many FANTASTIC women. I'm so honored.

In other news: My first article in a consumer magazine is on stands now in Pregnancy. Check it out! I can't find it online so you'll have to go to the store and read it in person. Drink a coffee while you're there. My thanks to all of you who participated in the interviews. You have been quoted.

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Thursday, April 10, 2008

Gimme an F; Gimme a U; Gimme an N!

The Mother of all Fun Blog Injections is back and it's your turn to share some fun with other moms who might need a new fun idea or a laugh. Please share your best fun moments from this past week in Mr. Linky. They can be messy, dressy or just plain weird. Write it, snap it, brief it, too.

Have fun with it!

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Where in the world was our FUN?

Fun was many places and came in many forms this week. Just in time, too, because both girls caught a cold late in the week. Hip Hip Horray for colds landing on a weekend! Fun this week meant trying to say yes more even when it might have been inconvenient to the schedule or to the Purse. We hosted a play date, went to Gymboree, went to two parks and took a long walk.

I saw a bit of a transition this week as I look back at our pictures. Jadyn and Liana are really becoming best friends and happy sisters. That is ... until they aren't and then, well, a girl has to do what a girl has to do: Check it out:

Here, Liana helps Jadyn after a slip at Gymboree, which the girls just LOVE to no end. I love it, too, actually.

Here the girls set up their chairs to sit in front of each other. Very cute, and best friend-like!

Then, at a local park they watched a fountain together.

Smelled flowers together ...

Later, they shared a snack side by side.

But then ... this happened:

Uh-Oh, as the girls say. Somebody got mad at somebody else for a little privacy invasion. J insisted Elmo be a part of our outside play, which I at first didn't agree with but relented nonetheless.

Turns out, it was kind of fun ... a girl without a playmate has to do something, right?

Later, after the sisters made up ... they created art together on our door. But, J wasn't about to push Elmo too far away -- just in case she crosses that privacy line, again.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Chop My Grocery List ...

... Sounds like the title of a great new reality show featuring moms everywhere desperate to keep their money in their purses and the smiles on their faces ...

Truth be told, I am not consistently faring well with the whole cutting grocery expenses. Some weeks are very good. Others, I just want to give up, go on a huge shopping binge and then want to yak it all out afterward. It's a terrible feeling knowing that you should be trying harder, but truly just do not have the energy. And, these days, energy has been eluding me, for some reason.

And, just when I think I've kept to my budget ... something happens and I still need to go back to the store for something or two somethings. Maybe it's because my two 2-year-olds are so dang unpredictable. One minute they hardly eat a crumb and the next they are devouring a cart load of groceries per meal. And, heaven freakin' forbid it if a pea crosses the yellow line into the rice because then the whole meal is a total goner.

But, I have learned a lot and I do know that our grocery costs are down a good bit from this time last year when I really knew nothing about feeding toddlers.

We still shop weekly at Aldi, and I love that store so much, and I still CVS, but rarely since there aren't any coupons out saving extra since the prices there are pretty high to begin with. Mostly, I am trying to make my regular grocery store and Wal-Mart where I see the most decrease in costs.

Yes, I wrote Wal-Mart. The store that I detest beyond belief and now shop at now and then only because we need to save every cent possible right now.

But, my quest continues. Food is expensive. Lists seem to grow longer not shorter around here. We stockpile when possible, but it's just not always possible. I will say that signing up for freebies has been a great deal of fun. In fact, we've gotten some very cool things that are almost always paired with very good coupons.

And, sticking to the budgeted menu is helping. Though, not perfectly just yet. But, I like challenges. I'm up for it. I can do this. And so can you. We can beat them at their own game, right?

How about you? Anyone finding great ways to save on groceries since I confessed my addiction to The Art of Coupons?

And, to thank you for visiting today, please check out this link to save your own fantastic grocery list. And, this link for the latest Chunky Purse money-saving idea.

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Sunday, April 6, 2008

Friends vs. relationships

As part of a project that Bella is doing, I recently examined my soul a bit deeper than I planned on during spring fever and spring cleaning. In fact, her questions sent me spiraling into a reflection of sorts. You'll see those play out on her blog sometime soon ... but for now I'm continuing my quest to figure out where I've been and where I'm going.

Since I wrote previous posts about the intense isolation I have experienced during motherhood (see here, here and here), I have come to terms with a number of things regarding the topic of relationships and friends.

I'm not sure that most new moms were left alone as much as I was -- and still am. I think most have their moms around more at least in that first year.

Regardless, I was alone way more than any new mom should be, especially with two crying babies. And, I'm still very much alone all week, but I do not feel as alone anymore and that is a big difference to me.

The reason is simple. You see, back in December when I took a couple weeks off from blogging I was sincerely worried about my life and how pathetic it seemed because I lacked flesh and blood visitors and friends. I did have one great friend, but I felt like I needed a bigger circle of friends, much like my single life included.

What I haven't mentioned is that soon after that, I went to the local library, and met another mom who just happened to be the head of a local moms group. She invited me out that very night for a moms night out. Desperate for friendships, I went and was instantly hooked.

I've joined moms groups hastily before so I wanted to move slowly into this one. In fact, truth be told, I haven't yet joined, but only because I'm lazy and unorganized not because I'm afraid.

These women were exactly what I had been missing in the first two years of motherhood. They are over-achieving mothers just like me, career-driven, smart, young and completely, utterly and totally laid-back.

And, 100 percent supportive.

They do not carry fancy bags, but rather talk about science and philosophy and writing as if it's second-nature. None of us dress nicely, and we can always be found down on the floor with our kids. If these women own cell phones, I have yet to see them using one. If they gossip, they do it well because despite being the second newest member, I've never seen them sitting in a clique, not even at Gymboree, not even after two months.

And, since I'm the only member with twins, I'm a bit of a lucky girl. They help me out -- a lot. I'm always outnumbered and they always jump in to help, whether it's spotting one of my girls on a piece of equipment or helping them upstairs. They don't ask; they just do. Those are my kind of friends. They just happen to be moms, too, and like me they put that first in their life.

What's great is that there is something to do with them every week. Every week, we have plans even if it's a simple gathering at a park.

Now, do I tell them I'm a blogger or not? What about you? Do you have a moms group or a supportive group of moms? Tell me about them. Do they know that you blog?

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

That F-Word Project

Did you have any fun this week? Extra special fun? The kind you are willing to share, proudly?

This weekly project is designed to help all of us stay awake to the fun in our lives and maybe even go out of our way to have a little more even when there's a really long list of things to do.

If you're new here, or you just didn't have any fun last week, perhaps you'll pick up some ideas for next week here among the F-U-N posts.

Please leave the link to your URL of your FUN post in Mr. Linky. Thanks!

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Can you say Messy?

This is my 301st post. A year ago this week, I started posting regularly on this blog and much of my posts were related to toddler activities like this one, or this one. Kind of like it is right now, actually.

Spring fever has settled in and this is my version of trying to stay sane, I guess. I've been setting our days up like a preschool day since the girls were 10 months old. But, this latest project is new in that I've never sat back and truly sought out the fun worth sharing with real life people.

I learned a lot this week as I put our level of fun under a microscope. I had lapsed into a bit of Mom-coma over the winter and forgotten to take my shoes off and stay a while. I also realized that some parts of our days, no matter how hard I try, are just not fun at all and that's because I have two 2-year-olds. In fact, there are parts of our days that are just plain awful and we really are spending 15 minutes arguing over who gets to wear THOSE yellow pants or when you turn your head and the next thing you know you have two toddlers completely naked for the fifth time that day.

And, then there's pee-pee inside the ottoman.

But, I also realized that we do have fun and much like I figured this project would highlight, it's also all about how the mind is willing to sit and soak up the fun. OK, so some of the fun might not have been my idea of fun, say, two or three years ago. But, it's still fun.

Fun took shape in a few forms this week.

While it was still cold all but one afternoon, we managed to get outside for some sunshine. On Tuesday, when it was warm, they splashed in a mud puddle. I true mud puddle. And they got dirty beyond belief ... which led to their very first shower, which was another mess in itself. But, they had a blast with both and so did I. Could I have been more fun? Yup ... I could have jumped in that puddle, too. But, I didn't. Maybe next time.

We also did some projects this week like puffy painting -- which was such a messy activity that I was only able to take one picture. This one:

But, the Fun I'm highlighting this week is the fact that we participated -- a wee bit late -- in another project I stumbled upon thanks to one of my new readers, Michie. The Unplugged Project is all about stepping away from the TV and doing something creative with your children. I'm all about that since we don't really watch TV here during the day except for one half hour.

Each week, Unplugged Mama picks a theme and you are supposed to do anything you want with your kids related to that theme. This week's theme was rocks. Next week's theme is books. Cool, right?

So, rocks. Yeah, my girls love rocks. And, we have a ton of them in our driveway. I stole our idea for this week's theme from Toddlebits, another participator in the project, which is a bit of a cheat ... I realize, but I knew it would work for us.

And, it was a real blast.

When Jadyn and Liana stopped drenching the rocks with paint, they painted paper towels, which turned out nice enough so we moved on to construction paper -- six sheets of it!

The girls had a great time with the paint -- as you can see. Yup. We had F-U-N this week!

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