Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Simple and Direct

I have a new mantra for my life (the idea of even having a mantra came from my friend Margo, so thanks a bunch) which is "Simple and Direct". I am trying this approach in my relationships, communication, decisions and general eating,sleeping,breathing LIVING. It is not as easy as you would think.

Things like nuance, irony, sarcasm, expectations and so on keep life from being simple or direct sometimes. And more often then not, if the person you are dealing with has a mantra like "Passive and Aggressive" then I come across as the ass and they walk away calm as a Spring morning.

I also have to be careful that being simple and direct is not mean. I have been known to blame my new life goal for a harsh tone in my voice or just being a jerk to Grant. "It is not my fault you took it like that... I am just trying to be simple and direct with you". Meanwhile, his skin is slashed open and he is bleeding on the hardwood floor- and I throw him a wet wipe.

But one area in which it has become essential that our communication is simple and direct is while we are in the process of figuring out the next step in our life. Grant is finishing up his PhD and starting to go on job interviews, we are talking about neighborhoods and churches and elementary schools. This next move is going to be a big deal- because we will have two babes that we are essentially deciding how they will grow up. Some things we know we want- no suburbs, two-car dependence or house we can't afford. We want a good urban church where we can serve our city, a community of people to love on, and good schools for our babes. My interpretation is: camelback house in the upper Garden District, Redeemer New Orleans on Sunday morning and one of the many fantastic charter schools that make up the public school system in New Orleans. Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, crawfish po-boys, French Quarter and the streetcar. Grant's interpretation is: rowhouse in Lawrenceville, City Reformed on Sunday morning and either the lottery for a charter school or private school. Season tickets to the Pirates, the Andy Warhol museum, Primanti Bros sandwiches, and his family close by. He can't imagine anything better then Pittsburgh.

So here is where I need to be simple and direct. I love my husband and my home is wherever he is. And I know before I married him that this would not be in my beloved Colorado. I did not think it would be western PA, but he is holding up his end of the FIRM promise he made me never to take us to Florida or Texas. Nothing wrong with these states, I just don't want to live in them. So we have fought, argued, debated, danced and general had many lively conversations about this next move over the past few months. I have two cards in my hand that he has unfortunately already seen.

1. I am a Registered Nurse. I can literally work anywhere in the world.
2. I am one of the easiest people to make happy, and would be content anywhere in the world, as long as I had my husband and babes.

So there is my head today. Don't make me feel alone- has anyone else gone through this? How do you figure out how to be simple and direct with a life decision this huge?

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Little Perspective (Goes a Long Way)

Two evenings a week I go to work. I work as a Cardiac/ICU nurse at the local hospital, and we have been very blessed by the flexibility and income my very part time work provides our family. I really enjoy my job, and once I have gotten past the little twang in my heart that comes from kissing Pursy and Grant good-bye, I love doing something that is just mine. And even though being a wife and mother has opened up my heart to more compassion and empathy with my patients, my primary goal at work is that I know what I am doing and do it well. So for 8 hours I disappear into another role that suits me just as well as the one I carry out the other 5 days a week. And I don't forget about them, but Grant and Purslane are not my primary focus and it is good for all of us. They are the sweetest little unit and have things that just the two of them do together when I am away.

The morning after an evening of work, Grant tries to take care of Pursy for at least an hour so I can sleep a little bit more- babe wakes up at 7:30 whether I went to bed at 9 or midnight. Once I am up, he runs out the door to work, and I head for the coffee. This morning, after Pursy and I had breakfast and the fog was starting to clear from my brain, I looked around the house. It was a total disaster. Toys everywhere, her highchair was a sticky, crumby mess, and it looked like three sets of pajamas had been tried on before she went to sleep in her green striped ones. And my irritation level started to rise. This man is working on a PhD and can't  figure out where all the puzzle pieces go?!? There is ONE bucket in the living room that I organize EVERY week to make sure ALL the toys we keep in the living room will fit into. How hard is that?? So I am slamming around feeling very self righteous about my ability to take care of a babe AND keep things decent around the house- when I look over at Pursy who is sitting on the couch "reading" her favorite ABC book. She is on the "B" page and repeating over and over "nana, nana" pointing at the picture of the bananas.

And I realize that last night when she was home with her Dada, she put 2 and 2 together and that little smarty has now figured out what a banana is. My heart instantly broke into a million pieces when I put into perspective the fact that instead of sitting in front of the TV while Pursy played on her own, Grant was sitting with her reading books and teaching her new things. He didn't waste time cleaning up her high chair because if I know my daughter, as soon as she was done with her sweet potatoes and chicken, she was ready to get down and run around. And she likes company. So he ran around with her. And bed time is not when she shows her sweetest side, so the pajama pile was made while he was wrestling the octopus on steroids she becomes when she doesn't want clothes on.

I cleaned up the rest of the house falling completely more in love with my husband. He loves that little girl and puts his priorities exactly where I would want them- on her. And so I can spend 8 hours away from her without a worry in my head that she is not being taken care of. She is a lucky girl to have a Dada like him.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Sundry Thoughts for a Friday and Sundry Pics of My Loves

Yesterday was our first boob free day. Pursy was down to once a day, first thing in the morning and while it was a very sweet way to start our day, being 5 months pregnant was making the logistics of nursing uncomfortable. The weaning was not as sad and painful as I imagined it would be- she simply skipped a step and went on with her day. We had a great run- 14 months of breastfeeding. My favorite memory is not the hours of holding her close, the middle of the night quietness where only the two of us were awake, or the bond we built. My favorite memory of nursing her is in the last few weeks where she would be snuggled up to me, and I would tickle her side and she would giggle- without de-latching. The corners of her mouth would just turn up and she would look at me out of the corner of her eye. Fantastic.

I found a thrift store treasure last week- a mustard colored leather purse with a black and white cloth lining. It is the first purse I have found rad enough to replace the burgundy hobo bag I found at a vintage store in New Orleans 5 years ago. I like having something other then the extra pockets of Pursy's diaper bag to keep my stuff in- even if all I have in my purse is a Burts and my phone- it is all mine.

Two of my favorite people are back in the country. Bill and Bec came back from Australia today and I ran into them at a random trip to Wal Mart. Bill had three Dinty Moore cups in his hand and Bec was wearing a headband with a white flower. I went out in a shitty mood and was wandering around Wal Mart looking for something besides booze to make me feel better. Seeing their faces instantly changed my day- I knew they were coming back but didn't know it was this soon. I drove home thinking about when we could have one of our fabulous dinner parties- complete with loads of wine, cigars (for Bec and I), and the sort of hilarious conversation that happens when four people with completely different life experiences get together.

Tomorrow is going to be great. Grant doesn't have to work, and I have things planned from the minute we wake up. Breakfast at the Waffle Shop, then I want to hit some yard sales and have my heart set on finding Pursy a Light Brite. At 10:30 we will go to the library for "Jazz and Books", and finally find out what it means to "read Where the Wild Things Are with local jazz band interpretation". After lunch and hopefully nap by Pursy, we are going for a walk at Black Moshannon National Park. Then home to marinate chicken, cook fresh pasta, and eat dinner with friends. After all that, Purslane will take a bath and go to bed and Grant and I will watch Biutiful (finally). I don't know if I am more excited about our plans or having Grant around all day.

So there's my head. Empty now, and I can finish watching the Pirates. Good Night y'all.

 My happy girl
 Dada showing Pursy the baby bunnies we found under a bush in our front yard

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

White girls with Dreads

Grant has mentioned several times over the past few months that he doesn't feel any older then 18. He doesn't always see himself as a 31 year old man with 1+ children and a wife of 7+ years. I never really understood this sentiment, and usually spend at least 30 futile minutes after he makes a comment like this trying to convince him that he is indeed a grown-up, living a grown-up life. Today, I think I understood what he was talking about.

I worked last evening, so after getting home at midnight and eating my third bowl of cereal of the day, the thought went through my head that there wasn't much in the pantry for breakfast. This morning I showered, got dressed, and packed Pursy up to the Waffle Shop for breakfast. Usually we do this on a Saturday morning when Grant is free to join us, but today it was just the girls. I don't remember looking at the menu- just ordered what sounded good and what Purslane would eat. I strapped her safely into a high chair, made sure she couldn't grab any knives or forks and that my coffee was far out of reach. Then I pulled a peek a boo book, her sippee cup and a bib out of the enormous Mom purse that doubles as a diaper bag and entertained her until our food came.

About 5 minutes after we sat down, two beautiful hippy girls came in. They had on matching batik style skirts, sandals and their blond and brown hair was dreaded and up in knots at the top of their head. They sat down close to us and ordered two hot teas. I instantly went back to a thousand mornings in Boulder, Colorado where I was the hippy chick with the unshaved legs, long skirts sans underwear and looking for anything that was local and vegetarian. I spent my time reading Kierkegaard and SARK and hanging out with boys who did things like hacky sack and knit. I was an Anthropology major at the University of Colorado, so of course everyone else in the universe was boring. I don't remember spending much time judging other people for their life decisions, just feeling great about my own. I rode the Light Rail to school, held hands with my girlfriends walking down the 16th Street Mall and spent my Saturdays trail running and taking pictures with old cameras at Red Rocks.

Side note: those who know my husband well now understand how crazy we still think it is that we got together while I was in this phase in my life.

So for a moment today, I thought maybe I should go over and sit with those girls. Of course I would fit right in and they wouldn't look twice at my pregnant belly or Target skirt. Then, Pursy grabbed both spoons and started banging them on the table yelling "DADA DADA DADA" and I was brought back to my 31 year old self. And I smiled at their dreads and organic black teas, then turned and kissed my daughter.

Monday, June 20, 2011

A Day Late and a Dollar Short...

I am making myself feel better about writing this Father's Day homage a day late because we actually spent every second of yesterday with Grant and there was no time for writing.

I know when you are falling in love with someone you are more consumed with how the two of you are going to make a life together, rather then imagining how they will react when you tell them you are pregnant. The first family is the two of you, and I believe that is the most important one. But from the moment I told Grant we were having a baby, his "fathering" life began. He began to love Purslane while she was tucked in my belly and made sure I ate well for her, took care of myself for her and when she was being born, he was our biggest champion. He was the first one to get pooped on, he made midnight runs for mylicon and orajel, and over the past 14 months has put her every need ahead of his own. He was a brave soul- putting those tiny onesies on her tiny body with the utmost singleness of purpose. When I went back to work, he didn't spend his time with her safe and secure in the house just making sure she stayed alive until I got home at midnight. He loaded her into the Bjorn and they went out exploring. I would often get text photos of my tiny daughter sound asleep at a pub where they had gone to watch a blues band. He made sure she was getting an education- long before she could appreciate how stressful it was to take a baby anywhere.

When I watch the two of them together- now wrestling and reading and running around the backyard, I realize all over again that I hit the jackpot with this guy. I put in all my heart's faith that he would be a good husband. That we would spend the rest of our lives together and still make each other smile in a way that no one else could. But when I watch him reading "Letters to a Young Calvinist" and realize that he has every intention of being so devoted to Purslane's life, I think that no woman was ever so lucky.

Happy Father's Day to my amazing husband and father of my child. Next year you will have two of these little people calling you Daddy. Won't that be something...

Friday, June 17, 2011

My New Best Friends

Grant is starting to get a little nervous about how much time I spend with my new community of women. I spend at least an hour every day catching up on their lives, babes, creative outlets, photos and overall person, and then I share my own in response. And while we never have coffee together or baby play dates, the beauty they put into the world affects my day and often whatever mood I am in. I am speaking, of course about the Mommy Blogs I read. I have a list of favorites, and like to check out whatever blogs THEY follow to see if I can find a new best friend.

Last week Grant and I were talking about our upcoming vacation in Asheville with our (real) best friends, Russ and Amy St. John. We were discussing if we knew anyone who lived on the way to NC that we could crash with, and I said "Oh- Melissa and Brent live in NC, we should stay with them!" The puzzled look he gave me grounded me to the reality that I don't actually know this couple- but her blog ( is one of my absolute favorites and since I had just looked at all the pictures of her amazing water birth I felt like we were close.

I have to admit, if I am having a weepy,emotional day these blogs don't always lift my spirits. If I am feeling particularly uninspired and vanilla, reading about their vintage shops and vegetable gardens make me feel more jealous then peaceful. Some have devoted husbands and supportive families, others are single moms, some work full time and others stay home- there is an amazing breadth of experiences and choices being made by Mamas in 2011. And the beautiful thing about blogs is that A. there are tons of gorgeous baby pictures B. if you read the right ones, the women are not trying to promote their way of doing things- just sharing the decisions they are making and not asking for your approval. It is just life. Every once in a while you come across some mom who says something dumb like "we co-sleep because we strongly believe if you don't, your children will never learn to trust you will meet their needs and probably become a crack whore". So then, you just don't go back to their judgey blog.

Most of the blogs I read are just day in the life stories and pictures of families that I would love to live close to. Girls that love their Boys and are making colorful lives for themselves. Another favorite blog of mine is She had a post up a few months ago called "The Love you Came From" and was the narrative of how she and her husband met, fell in love and decided to start a family. Every time I start to feel a little narcissistic about spending time blogging, I think that Purslane will be able to go back and read these words some day and know exactly how I felt about her and our life together. I write things as they happen, rather then the sporadic letters I write to her in her baby book where I summarize the last few months.

So even though I can't pour a second cup of coffee while I spend my hour reading blogs (64 mg of caffeine/day limit while preggo) I still enjoy the luxury of "meeting" these Mamas and maybe finding a little inspiration in their pictures, thoughts and stories. And enjoy the idea that maybe somewhere, someone is reading my blog and our little family can make them happy too.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My Buddy... My Buddy

Yesterday while Purslane was napping, my dear friend Anna stopped over unexpectedly with a gift. Important to understand that in order for this gift to be as perfect as it was, she needed to know two things about me. One, that I have a thing for refrigerator magnets. Two, that I also have a thing for mustaches. As in, Grant will never be taken to bed again if he gets one but I LOVE them on other people. My gift was a magnet that says "Guns don't kill people, people with mustaches kill people" and an image of a glorious handlebar. I love love love it.

Since the babe was sleeping, I showed her my latest thrift store find- a portable turntable which is supposed to be for the new babe's room but right now is enjoying prime time in our bedroom. We fall asleep now to Second Line bands and Tom Waits.. happiness. We sat on our bed and chatted about books, our husbands and food. The breeze came through the window and all was right with the world.

Later that afternoon while sweat was forming on the small of my back while Pursy and I played in the steamy  living room, I realized that I had another buddy to sit on the bed, listen to music and hang out with. I picked her up and we returned to the cool bedroom. The book conversation was a little less stimulating (to me anyway- she loves peek a boo books and could spend hours opening and closing the flaps) but we had a grand time, and I found reason #270 to love being a Mom.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Simple Pleasures

Two nights ago while Grant and I were listening to records and winding down the day, he asked what I thought his simple pleasures were. His are easy- finding a good vinyl, holding hands with me, beer on the back porch, giving Pursy a bath, Sports Center, his KEXP t-shirts and watching the Pittsburgh Pirates. My incredibly complicated and intense husband can 99% of the time be calmed by doing one of these activities.

So here are mine. It doesn't take much to make me happy, so I will do my best to narrow down the list to a managable amount. These are in no particular order- chronological, importance, autobiographical or otherwise.

Iced coffee in the summer and mug of french press in the winter.
A sexy dress
Bob Dylan blaring with the windows down
Grant walking through the door
Full-fat yogurt, granola and strawberries
My black Reef sandals
Pursy's breath in the morning
A farmer's market
A Baby Story (my guilty pleasure)
Outdoor concerts
Watching Pursy chew her applesauce
The feather earrings Grant bought for me at Kelley's house show
Burt's Bees in any shape or form
Conversations with Becki where we are both interrupting each other and I start to develop a southern accent
Cheese and Bread
Etc, etc... life is just good

What are your simple pleasures?


Monday, June 6, 2011

Baby Storm and Gender Ambiguity

 So yesterday I wrote a big long post outlining my feelings about that couple in Canada who are choosing to keep their baby "gender neutral" by not revealing the baby's boy/girl parts. I went on a rant about what the difference between gender and sex is, and why I felt this couple was mistaking their own social issue for parenting.  Read the blog below for a synopsis of the story and someone else's opinion:

I read it again this morning and deleted the whole damn thing. Not because I disagree with myself today, but because rantings are rarely kind, and without knowing this couple I don't feel like I can make a judgment call on their motives. They could be just as selfish as I accused them of being, but they could also just truly want what is best for their kids and with all the lunatic parents out there smoking crack and dangling their babies over pits of crocodiles, maybe I should just remember that not everyone parents like me.

I do still want to comment on the story, because that is what blogs are for and this story is big news. SO here are my thoughts, in summary.

1. I think this couple is confusing sex (penis/vagina) with gender (boy/girl). Society has built stereotypes of gender and what boys and girls should like, play with, dress like, act like, etc. If they want to fight the stereotypes and let their children discover who they are apart from society telling them, I would think it would make more sense to allow their children to decide what their outward expression is going to be, not take away their sex.

2. I feel very sorry for a 4 month old child who has been so exposed to scrutiny, opinion and public media. Doesn't seem nice.

3. These parents obviously feel very strongly about something, which is fantastic. But they are not affecting only themselves- they are forcing their children to live out their opinions. Their oldest son wears his hair in three braids and likes a pink skirt. He is old enough to go to school, but they keep him home because of the teasing he got from his classmates. So essentially, his "freedom" is keeping him housebound. Is that okay? It feels a little like his parents are sacrificing a greater good. Part of my goal is raising Purslane is to make her relevant to her culture- I want her to be able to hang with anyone and do whatever she wants to do- not because she blends in and looks like everyone else, but because her sense of self is not a detriment to making whatever choices she wants to make.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

Summer Lovin'

We have definitely discovered what Summer is for. Once the rain stopped, every day has been sunny and hot and 147% humidity. The air literally feels like you are walking through a wet blanket. Late afternoon cold showers are a necessity and I have a new section in my closet of "evening clothes"- these are the sheer, lightweight dresses that can only be worn after the sun has started to set a little and the brightness of day doesn't shine through and showcase my delicious pregnancy underwear. There is a line from a Pedro the Lion song that talks about how often women shave their legs when no one can see them: "Husbands in winter, they know the truth- but what can they do?". I'm sure this is how Grant feels when I am pregnant. I am not sure how fantastic this secret is, but he is the only person who knows what sort of undies fit under my growing belly and spreading hips. They don't come from Vickie's.. that's for sure.

Two nights ago Purslane was having a hard time sleeping in her un-air conditioned bedroom, despite the breeze coming through the window and a fan blowing full blast. Grant and I traded off sitting in the rocking chair with her, but after two hours we decided to go for a walk. So 10pm we loaded a very sleepy and grumpy babe into the stroller and headed out. Halfway down the block, Pursy got a second wind and became the exact opposite of what we were hoping for- wide awake and thrilled to be outside. Grant picked a daisy for her, and she held it in her right hand like a victory flag and waved it the entire walk. It was pretty adorable, if not totally counter productive to the goal of sleepiness. However, when we got back home, she gave up and passed out in Grant's arms. We stripped her down to her diapers and admired the tight little curls that form on the back of her neck when she is all sweaty. 

So passed the first real week of Summer- in daily bedtime baths, frequent trips to Meyer Dairy for milkshakes, and lots of naked baby time.
 Mama trying to convince Pursy it is okay to get wet..
 Afternoon reading with Dada while the breeze comes through the window...