Monday, December 31, 2007

The end. The beginning.

I think it is just part of who I am. I have always been introspective. The end of the year always finds me buried in my journal. I am writing about the past year and looking forward to the new one. This year, I haven't found as much time for journaling as I would have liked. In years past, I would fill up a journal in about 6 months. I started my current journal three weeks after Seren was born. It begins, "I am a mom!" There are still 4 blank pages. Nearly 19 months later. So clearly my journaling has been placed on the back burner.

That being said, on Cape Cod this past week, I found time to write. To think. Too often my mind is a very "busy and loud" place. It hums with somewhat meaningless information. A master to do list. It begins when my eyes open. I check the clock and then calculate how quickly I need to move to get to work on time. And it ends when I lay down in the evening, calculating how much sleep I will get before I do it all again.

So I always look forward to the new year because it guarantees at least several moments of reflection.

I looked back to last December and read my goals for 2007. Sadly, they are very similar for 2008's goals! But there is promise to start anew!
In 2008, I hope to:
* Do yoga
* Visit my friends in CA
* Keep old friends and make new ones
* Blog/write

I always have a tendency to make about 1500 goals. That is meaningless. So I am keeping them short and sweet this year.

Happy 2008!

Friday, December 28, 2007

It got worse before it got better

Christmas 2007 will be remembered as a mix of germs, smiles and exhaustion. As my last post indicated, Seren was sick last week. The stomach bug she picked up from some time at the local mall had us all in a tight grip through most of the Christmas holiday.

Thursday and Friday of last week had me returning home to a very tired, very needy, very sick little one. Seren went on a hunger strike for three days. She wouldn't eat and when she would, would vomit it back up! It was horrible! I ended my work week on a bad note- traveling in a commute that lasted over two hours.

Saturday came with a punch! We too were vomitting all day. It was horrible to be SO out of commission! We took turns dragging ourselves out of bed to hug Seren who insisted on being "up, up" in our arms. We slept and puked all morning. And then it got worse. Our sewer system backed up! We couldn't run water or flush a toilet without it all ending up in our downstairs bathroom! We have had this problem twice in the year. Clearly, we need to replace our entire sewer system! So there we were. Fevers. Chills. Puking. And not able to flush the toilet!!


The plumber came. We all went back to bed. We were supposed to leave for the Cape the next day at 10 in the morning. Nothing had been packed up. We still needed to purchase a few gifts. We called and changed our flight.

By Monday, we were on a plane. Seren was on the mend and so were we. Despite all of our warnings, my parents and brother insisted we come to Cape Cod. We were 24 hours out from our last puke when we arrived. Apparently, that wasn't time enough. We all had a great Christmas and then my mom and my brother were out of commission. 12 hours later? My dad.

So much for enjoying time as a family. We have been drinking ginger ale and praying to God it ends soon! :) What a year!

But we have been all together. As I write, all of us are feeling better, the sun is out and we have been on the beach. What could be btter?

Seren really enjoyed Christmas! Oh what fun we had watching her opening her presents! We went to Christmas eve services on Monday night. At the end of a hymn she cheered "Yeah!!" The entire church laughed at her enthusiasm. It was awesome! And so we enjoyed our time. My parents LOVE Christmas and were QUITE the elves. They gave her a play kitchen for the holiday and assembled it here on Cape Cod. She enjoys "cooking" soup for us! It took her HOURS to open the many presents. We spread it out over two days. She enjoyed just opening one gift at a time and playing with it. She rec'd many books. It has been great to extend Christmas out over a few days. She loves the tree and just smiles so widely when she sees a Christmas tree.

The words continue to come. The holidays have welcomed the words "wow!" "woah" and "ooh". We love to hear her mimic our sounds and words. Santa also brought her a tunnel to crawl through. This has been a big hit! She has really enjoyed the gifts but didn't anticipate them. It was refreshing! I couldn't help but to think what next year will bring. Last year, she LOVED tissue paper. SHe had just learned to sit a few weeks earlier. I think next year, if this year is any indication, she will be providing a running commentary.

We look forward to the next few days of relaxing with family, enjoying the quite of the woods, the waves on the beach and the time just focusing on being in the moment. Happy Holidays!

I'll be back to post pictures in a few days. I hope we captured some good ones. Despite the blog, the camera and the video tape, I still haven't figured out how to capture the joy I feel when I look at my little girl. It is hard to explain. Pure love. And if I needed any proof to myself how much I love her, I can just recall the moment when I leaned INTO the puke to comfort her when she was so sick.

I would do anything for that little munchkin. I am loving this week at home, the joys are many!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

One more gross one for the baby book

We woke up late today. I heard my alarm but instantly fell back asleep. My unoffical alarm (Seren) didn't go off until 6:20. I was thrilled with the extra sleep. However, as soon as she "went off", something didn't sound right. I had just gotten out of the shower so Sam went in to get her from her crib. He said to me, "Oh, we have a problem."


The first puke since all of that spit up that ended at 6-7 months. Man, that stuff is nasty! Thank God I'm not pregnant or else I would have followed suite. Poor little thing!

I have no idea when it happened. She slept well all night. But the poor thing was just caked in it.

Back into the shower with a dazed and confused Seren I went.

It was like a fraternity party gone bad.

I'm "hoping" it is food poisioning but I have a feeling that we are in for a bit of a rough road the rest of this week. Any suggestions/ideas how this may play out?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


It is the season of giving. But it is also the season of driving ourselves nutty with shopping, returning, budgeting, mailing, fretting, planning, etc.
Yesterday as I drove home from work in the holiday shopping traffic, I had a full blown pity party. I was sad that we would not be able to see certain friends, that we hadn't made as many new friends this year as I would have hoped, that our gifts weren't generous enough and that we couldn't donate what I wanted to East Bay Habitat, the organization that was (and is) so dear to my heart in Oakland. We made a family pledge back in 2005 which we have mostly paid off. But there was still some left over. The guilt of that unfulfilled pledge has haunted me. Because I know that they need it. We gave but it wasn't enough. They needed more. And we can't give it.

I missed Oakland.

I arrived to see Seren and Sam sitting on a huge pile of presents. Gifts had come from so many places. I immediately became giddy with excitement of the packages! And one of those gifts touched me in ways I'll never be able to express in words.

My dear friend is having one heck of a year. She has had some hard times. I won't go into details. I have tried to support her the best way I could. From 3000 miles away. I longed to visit. To have tea. To make her dinner. To just be there with her the way I wanted to be. But I couldn't. So I sent cards, emails and prayers. It all felt so useless against what she has been facing. No matter what I could think of to do, it just wasn't enough.

But we rec'd the most special gift from her yesterday. A wonderful card. But also a donation, in our name to Habitat! Her donation was the equivalent of the amount of money it would take to buy a door. She "bought" us a door for a families' new home.

I burst into tears.

The thoughtfulness of that gift touched me so deeply. On different levels. The first being joy at the thought of a family being welcomed into their home through that door. I got goosebumps at the thought of it. The second joy was just knowing that my words and prayers HAD reached her. On some level. Her generous gift was to thank us for our friendship. (Which she didn't need to do, of course. It is so "her" to turn that around and to give to someone else.) Our actions and our prayers ARE being answered. We can't contribute to Habitat the way we want to right now. And I can't be there for my friend the way I want to be. But in that moment of opening that gift, the two worries dissolved. My love for my friend and my commitment to the organization is "enough". She blessed me so much yesterday.

I sat there with tears in my eyes as Seren played nearby.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Random Thoughts

Seren is bringing me so much joy these days. On a daily basis, we get new words. Yesterday's words were "ham, heart, tree, cheese and house". Not bad for one day! Kids are just giant sponges. It is just so fun!

She LOVES the Christmas tree! Loves it! Whenever we ask her about the tree, she sprints into the front room and stares at it. She loves to talk about all of the ornaments on the tree. Bear! Baa-baa (sheep)! Naa-naa (horse)! It is so much fun to watch her just talk about the tree. She really likes the angel on top. (She helped Dad put it there two weeks ago)

Today she fed herself cheerios with milk. It took her FOREVER to eat the cereal but man, she was proud of herself.

Lastly, we love to watch her run. She just sprints down the hall. Her legs move from side to side instead of up and down but man, she can cover some ground. I especially love watching her run with just a diaper on or naked. She giggles while she sprints. She seems to be so free!

We are also enjoying the many kisses. She has got it down now where we makes the kissing sound at the same time as delivering the kiss. A few days ago, there was a delay. She'd kiss us and a few seconds later we'd hear "wwmah". Last night, she was just SO tired. I was rocking her and singing like I usually do. She was growing heavy with sleep on my chest. She then sat up, held my face, gave me a kiss and curled back up in my arms. I ask myself, "Does it get any better than this?" Honestly!

Here is to finding joy in all of the small things! Like Cheerios and fresh milk!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Creative Dresser

It is genetic, I suppose. When I was little, around age 3, I would dress myself in the most amazing outfits. I wish I could scan a picture that my parents have of me. I had dressed myself to go out in the snow. I had a rain coat on, mittens, a sun dress, a sun bonnet on top of my rain coat hood and big red boots. I thought I looked smashing. So did my parents.

It is this sort of creativity and individualism that I really want to foster in my Seren. Just do your own thing! She'll have the rest of her life to be told what is "right" and "wrong" and "appropriate" and "inappropriate". Right now she can just do what she feels is fun!

Which is why, around 9 am last week she decided that she MUST wear her Halloween costume. Who cares if she is still in her pjs? She wore it for over an hour. She buzzed around the room happy as can be.

Monday, December 10, 2007

In the nick of time

This weekend was the weekend I needed.

The upcoming stress of the holidays, paying the bills last week (or the game we play once a month is "paying some of the bills"), new projects at work and a super long commute due to holiday shopping left me deeply tired. All week I knew if I could just hang on to the weekend, I'd be ok! And yet, Saturday morning was one of those ugly/overly tired mornings. Sometimes I feel like Seren in full meltdown mode. I can even see it coming! :)

But my parents arrived in the nick of time. We all had lunch together and then Seren spent the night at my parents house. They all left our house at 1 pm. And instead of sitting down and resting, I raked leaves. LOTS of wet, soggy leaves! 11 bags of leaves! 2.5 hours later, I laid down my rake. But it felt good. Felt good to move my body. Felt good to be outside.

Sam and I enjoyed a night at my company's holiday party. There is nothing like a bunch of nerds dressed up and drinking wine to make for some fun stories. We had a good time eating, drinking and dancing. But the best part of our weekend was spent on Sunday morning. We took a drive together. We did not play "Music Together", we did not talk in Elmo's voice, we did not argue about how "best" to drive, and we did not sing the "Itsy Bitsy spider".

We just sat. And drove. And laughed.

We needed this time. We needed the 24 hours of just "us" time. This morning, I feel as if I didn't see Seren as much as I usually do on the weekend. Because, well, I didn't see her for 24 hours of it. But I feel renewed as wife, mom and employee.

I needed to recharge my batteries. Thank God for grandparents!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

19 months

Seren turned 19 months yesterday! 19?! How did that happen? Doesn't that sound close to 20? Which sounds close to 24?!

When do parents stop counting months?

For the baby book, I'm going to recall a few things that Seren does/likes
* She has decided that baby cereal is out. She also seems to have "over dosed" on bannas

* She loves stuffed animals. Any kind. All get kisses. Including the ones at the stores.

* She still sleeps with baa-baa, her stuffed sheep.

* She sleeps with her paci during nap. Baa-baa has one too.

* Her general schedule is to get up at 6, sleep from 2-4 in the afternoon and go to bed at 8.

* She is getting very picky about food. Stuff still gets thrown on the floor. She eats a TON during lunch which makes her dinner a really small meal.

* Her newest obsession is to talk about her book, the Three Bears. "Bears! Bears!" I feel like I'm raising a Chicago fan. "Da Bears."

* She doesn't like diaper changes and procrastinates on getting them changed.

* Words are finally coming! We have heard "hat, head, bird, bears, hot, juice, etc." It is very fun to have someone to "chat with".

* She knows when something is out of place. I came downstairs today to find that the smoke alarm had fallen from the wall. Seren pointed to it. Pointed to the wall and got distressed. Things have a place.

* Bathtime is hit or miss. Sometimes, I can't get her out of the tub. Othertimes, I can't get her to soak at all. She particually gets scared of the sound of air escaping in her blow-up tub.

* Seren hates doctors. She had to visit sam's doctor last week and freaked out. No one was touching her but it was just too much for her.

* Strangers still cause her to be very shy. She mostly observes new adults and new children for at least 5 minutes before she is comfortable.

* Seren loves to read her books to herself and to us. (Or anyone else who wants to hear)

And since I didn't write about her 18th month birthday, which was a big milestone, I'll include a picture of the two of us for her 19th month.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

When do we do those "other" things?

In Berkeley, I was very involved in many community organizations. I spent a lot of time working with my church and working with Habitat for Humanity. At one point, I had 9 weekly obligations to groups of people. I felt overwhelmed by the responsibility of this but also felt that my life was very rich. I spent time leading youth group, time leading a women's group, time knitting, time with elders, time working with Habitat for Humanity. These organizations helped me define myself. It was and is a big part of who I am. I was able to live out my life's values in meaningful ways.

Motherhood, I fear, has changed that.

I remember asking my good friend Andy, after she had her daughter, "When do we get to do other things?" She responded that it would take years. Maybe when they were grown. That we just need to focus on them right now. And later, we'd do the "other things."

This answer didn't sit well with me. And it still doesn't. I really wrestle with it. I agree that we need to focus on kids now. Currently, I work a 40 hour week and rush home, every day, to spend time with my daughter and husband. THAT is important to me. I don't want to go to "Committee" meetings if it means less time with my family. That isn't a trade I'd like to make.


But the reality is that I still miss that life. I don't like that my current life is so...insular. So self focused. There are still young kids that could use an adult in their lives, there are still many families who need housing. None of that has changed. And yet, I can't find a way to live out that part of my life. I have tried to find a faith community. I have even taken the Habitat for Humanity training here in NJ. But I can't seem to dive in. It is a matter of time. Logistics. Guilt.

And so I basically work and then play at home. I don't do church, I don't knit. I don't build homes or create opportunities for women (of all ages) to connect.

I have seen women solely defined by their children and their children's accomplishments. And I can see how this can happen! Children are so life consuming. They are wonderful! They provide so much joy! But how does one be a "good mom" while holding that in tension with wanting to be a "good woman" and focusing both on herself and the broader world?

I guess there are two tensions here that I wrestle with. One is finding time to take care of ME. (Which is a different post). The other, is really finding time to take care of my corner of the world.

Some would argue that our children are our greatest gifts to the broader society. I can certainly see that point of view. That by doing well by them, listening to them, encouraging them, caring for them, playing with them, we are doing our part to change the world we live in. And maybe that is where I need to "be" for a while. But I can see that by focusing so much on "my family", I could forget how to "do" the other things. Or that I won't see value in them. And since doing those other things is really taking care of myself at the same time, I worry that I will lose part of "me" in post-poning it "until she is grown."

In time, perhaps Seren can join me on a building site. Or, if she wants, we can tutor kids together. But in the meantime, I struggle with how to hold my commitments to my family with my commitments to my social justice self. I think being someone who focuses on social justice issues will make me a better mother in the long run. But for now, I still see it as a tension and a struggle. Either one or the other. Afterall, there are only so many hours in the day.


I just want to be a tree-hugger again. :)