Life is getting back to normal. You know how sometimes it can feel like you're to busy to play? Well, play is an important part of my inner life, and I've been forgetting that lately. Rowan is a good reminder. But I need to get back in touch with my kidness even when I'm not with his royal chubbiness.

We spent the past few days having fun. We invited some good friends over for dinner on our anniversary. On Friday we celebrated our marriage by drinking cocktails and going out to dinner and serendipitous live music--with Rowan. After some initial fawning over the lights and pretty girls, Rowan was ready to be quiet. I basically hid him under the breastfeeding cover the whole time, and we all enjoyed a wonderful dinner. Mommy and daddy even requested to be serenaded by Al Green's "Let's Stay Together." Now we have another "that's our song" to add to our arsenal, which includes "Home" by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes and "She's All I Got" by Johnny Paycheck, cuz we are sappy like that.

Today we left the house early to pick up a jogging stroller in a place we've never been, because Serkan is home. After we bought the stroller, we headed to Peet's for coffee. We drank it in the half shade on a bench beneath a tree in the plaza while watching the older kids kick up sand in the playground. Classical music on a loudspeaker on the other end of the square completed the scene. Then we headed to check out a couple more apartment possibilities back by the bay, finally deciding on which apartment we would apply for! This is no small feat; we've been looking for a couple of weeks already. We ate a yummy breakfast at a local cafe in our (maybe) new hood. Then we headed to play tourist in sunny San Francisco.

Mission fun: accomplished.

What's your happy spot today?

happy anniversary!

{next year i'm getting you this :: from jcjewelrydesign}

Dear Dreamboat,

Happy anniversary! Thank you for the flowers. They are delicious. Thank you for responding to my wish to have gotten you something by saying: don't worry; we'll have lots of these.

I hope you know that I know how lucky I am to share my life with you.


end of summer sweat.

{by katie quinn davies via creature comforts}
I hope you are all enjoying your end of summer or the beginning of your spring. The evening air here is a different kind of crisp already. Nights are typically sweater weather, but autumn's wind has a different bite to it. Still, it's warm enough to enjoy drinks with ice in sweaty mason jars. And I intend to listen to the baritone clinks of ice in my glass of blueberry juice while ice still feels like a good idea.

happy transitions to you!

my friend, ikea.

I think I must be the last person on earth to get the IKEA catalog. I've seen it on the top of friends' toilets for weeks now, but I was only able to start turning the pages of my very own catalog yesterday.

And I'm smitten. The writers over there have turned the mass-produced, assembly-required furniture store into my favorite stylish yet practical Swedish friends with great senses of humor. I want to have them over for dinner. When the Swedes come over to dinner, we'd all stand in the kitchen and clink our glasses of red wine. A room full of laughter, huge smiles, and mouthfuls of gleaming white teeth. They make me laugh; they help me discover attractive storage solutions. Who wouldn't want to have them over for dinner?

The product descriptions are super clear and practical. I didn't even know I needed stacking pots to make soup while I steam other vegetables, but I sure think I need 'em now. Make good food, save energy and stove-top space. Hell yeah. IKEA has brilliant advertisers.

And I love the dialog-box messages throughout--as if the products are talking: "Fika (fee-Ka) is something all Swedes love to do. Simply put it means grab a friend, some coffee or tea, and something sweet to nibble on." Of course we all like to do that! But do we have a word for it? Or can we honestly use it as a way to describe our culture? We even get an unpretentious pronunciation key--especially good for us English-speakers, who tend to pronounce everything in a counter-phonetic way. Thanks!

{eivor leva}
They even have a duvet set that "lets you follow modern, everyday life in Stockholm--kind of like a bedtime story for grownups." Yes, friends, I'm turning into quite the Swede-ophile. And, no, I'm not getting paid (or noticed) by IKEA. 

How much IKEA furniture is in your house?

a night in the life...

Warning: This is a full-on parenting rant about (not) sleeping. I understand that this is as mommy blogger as it gets, and that you might want to skip this one.

Nighttime parenting is hard. Our baby doesn't sleep well. Obviously almost nobody's does; that's why there are so many books written about the issue. Maybe it's not really an issue at all, and we are forcing too much on little bodies. But I'm so sleep deprived at this point, it's hard to even take that into consideration. My daytime and nighttime skin is as thin as any parent's, right before they try to drastically change what's going on.

{sleep baby sleep :: diddle fiddle cow moon :: by artandphilanthropy}
I am writing this while I listen to our baby screaming in the bedroom. So my temples feel like they are going to explode and my blood is pricking the inside of my skin. Rowan really never cries; we don't let it escalate to that. But right now his dad is with him. The dinner I made is cold, and all that's keeping me sane is trying to write this down.

Some background: I've spent the past few days giving Rowan what I call a sleep cleanse. Basically I try to put him down for frequent naps (a la 90-minute sleep solution) and make sure he is getting enough rest and isn't sleep deprived himself. All this in an effort to take that foray into sleep training. I'm on the fence with the whole sleep training thing. I have a low threshold for hearing my baby cry (who doesn't?). But I also know something has to change. But does it? I simultaneously believe a.) we need to wait it out and that he will outgrow his finicky sleep and b.) that we need to help him develop good sleep habits, because he won't be able to do so on his own. Can you guess which thought is a daytime thought and which one is a nighttime thought?

{sleep baby sleep :: by artandphilanthropy}
At-home moms need a break from their kids for reasonable amounts of time during the day and night: aka nap and sleep times. Let's just say several days in a row of parenting solo with only 20-minute breaks makes for an unhappy mommy. When Rowan sleeps for more than an hour during the day, I am happy to get him when he stirs. I need that time to be able to miss him.

Back to tonight's scene: Serkan arrives home kinda late from his trip. I am rocking Rowan in the living room, because I'm too frustrated to try putting him down again. Basically I know his daddy's going to be there soon, so he can do it. (Hey, not the nicest welcome home, I know, but I need a break!!! And I did have the table set with candles and a salad and dinner "cooking"--um yeah, a frozen pizza and a frozen burrito. Ugh.)

{sleep baby sleep :: little star :: by artandphilanthropy}
We weren't planning to do any sleep training or anything like that tonight. I tried a gentle approach where you don't pick up the baby and just soothe him by patting and singing or shooshing a few nights ago, when S wasn't here. I ended up feeling like the vilest person on the planet--because he screamed through my humming and tummy rubbing. When I picked Rowan up less than five minutes later, he was still so strung out and crying. I felt awful, like honest to goodness nauseous awful. Rowan is screaming like that again. I've never heard him like this. I don't know what Serkan is doing, only that I'm not supposed to go in there, and that baby is with his daddy. Like I said, there was no talk or plan of putting baby down in the crib (which is also in our room; one bedroom apartment) tonight. But we were both willing and ready to try something--in theory.

I found out later that S was laying down next to R and shooshing him. That night--a couple of nights ago now--I slept with my feet hanging off the short couch in the living room. We aren't trying to put Rowan in the crib, but we are trying to get him to nurse less at night. The first time Rowan wakes up at night (the time after we head to bed), S tries to get him to calm down without picking him up, just by cuddling. Rowan screams for about an hour, and falls asleep when S decides it's time to rock him. And I remain awake hours after this. My attempt to get more sleep, pretty much foiled.

{album by ben lee
Here's a typical "schedule" of what 3-5 nights/week look like (when S is not here)...
  • 7:00-7:30: start getting ready for bed, a bath, massage, book if he's into it, breastfeed.
  • 8:00ish: rock to sleep (up until a few days ago, I just nursed him to sleep in the bed because it was easiest)
  • 8:30: yay! dinner and some me time. 
  • 8:45-9:00: or not, back into the room. 
  • 9:30: OK, let's try this again. 
  • 9:45: are you kidding me? stuffing my face with whatever I've been trying to cook. head back into the room.
  • 10:20: finish eating. open the computer. read one blog or respond to one email (the list is long). the music is low and my nerves are awake. 
  • 10:38: is it separation anxiety? screw this. I close my laptop, turn off the music and the light, hurry to brush my teeth--which I'm sure are deteriorating--while I fill my glass of water and start taking off the extra clothes that I won't wear to bed. spit. rinse. spit. look sternly into my bloodshot eyes in the mirror. take a deep breath. scoot into the covers for the all night nurse-a-thon. 
  • 10:42: it usually occurs to me that I also need to pee, after Rowan is already attached to my boob or nestled snugly in my lap for bouncing on the big exercise ball. 
Hygiene, food, and my rubber-bouncy-ball sanity fly out the window and visit sweet fairies. And that, my friends, is why I'm totally obsessed with sleep. How to give it to my baby and reap the benefits for myself.

Sweet dreams, whenever you hit the hay.

how i got here: part i

A few night's S+ I sat with our backs against the couch in the living room as the sun set. Rowan was sleeping. The light blurred from yellow to purple to dark, and I lit a a tiny trayful of candles. The room and my hands still smelled clean and sweet from Rowan's bath and massage. We weren't ready to turn on the light. Outside, the palms and sweetgums blackened. I thought about how--even though I'll probably be awake at 2 a.m.--there's no way I'll actually make it outside to watch the meteor shower. And I didn't even worry about how that thought aged me.

Mostly I was thinking how great the light was. I clung to the mood, and I didn't want to turn on the lamp. The transition to night happened slow and smooth while we watched it.
So much unlike changing hemispheres and home overnight. Going from having a home to: uprooted. You can spend months knowing that you're about to move and change your life completely. But it's only visceral when that last flight takes off and touches down in your new local airport. You can feel the clods of earth still stuck to your toes. Those are the clods of familiarity, and they help you survive the replanting.

{sunny block abstract print by twoems}
But my eight-month pregnant feet swelled to ham hocks on the flight over here. Soon afterward, we went from being two to being three. You can only prepare for motherhood so much. And you don't have to switch hemispheres for it to transform you, utterly. When a mama gives birth to her baby, she inevitably rebirths herself. Clumsy and shock-eyed at first, she quickly learns she's a superhero (however irritable she may be on occasion).
When we did turn on the light, it was time. The change felt right. But I wasn't ready to lose that connection with my husband. Sure, I wanted to blog. But we played Mancala instead, skipping the tie-breaker game, cuz Rowan woke up. That means Rowan slept for a couple of hours straight, which is very good for him! (It's really time for us to do something about his sleeping. I just don't know what we'll be able to handle, but that's another story.)

This post really doesn't have much of a point. Except to say how slow or fast things move. And that all this stuff happens whether we watch it or not. Ready or not.

love yourself.

Just a little reminder from me to me and from me to you-

{love yourself by danita art}
-and do it in color...

all over the map.

Have you ever noticed how nearly all suffering begins with a thought? And that thought can probably be distilled to wishing you were somewhere other than where you are. I'm not just talking physical space. Wanting to escape even a moment can generate buckets of ooey-gooey scab-crusted angst.

I have to get going on this road stretching out ahead of me, family in tow. It's just I see at least 10 roads snaking into the distance, and I cannot decide which one to take. You see, I'm not all that good at making decisions; I never have been. S says I'm wild like a lion.

{by lithiumpicnic :: via rara avis}
But when I'm wearing my editor's mane, I do make decisions. I choose which word follows what word I choose and dischoose punctuation while I wonder what happened to unedited beauty. I choose Rowan's clothes and my own, I choose our food and the bedtime ritual. When we walk, I choose whether to stroll the smaller back streets or stalk across the big street. But I don't like waiting for the red hand to evolve to a green walking man. And I'm surprisingly paranoid about jaywalking across even residential streets while I'm wearing Rowan.

When S' visa for the States was approved, we went to one of our favorite cafes in Santiago to eat lunch decide what we should do. We wrote a list of pros and cons called: Should we stay or should we go? Have the baby in Patagonia or have him in the States? I wanted an unmedicated natural birth not in the hospital. Chile's astronomical cesarean rate scared me. Plus we were just done being in Patagonia for lots of reasons I won't go into here. We were seeking sincerity. The "should we go" side was longer.

So here we are. Our lease is up in a month, and we'll be off. To some place with a higher walkability score. Antwerp? Neither one of us has a permanent job yet. Rowan's home is where we are, so we could go anywhere. In the last month, I've looked into real estate throughout California, apartments in Alameda, teaching opportunities abroad, returning to Patagonia to be a cheese-making maiden, scholarships to go back to school--again. (I already spent nine years getting a terminal MFA.) My scope is to the moon.

{wish i was there purse :: rosie's armoire}
I'm not sure if it has anything to do with motherhood, but I feel stuck. Aside from not being this sedentary (maybe) ever, the pull I feel to move in so many different directions makes it impossible to take the first step. Meanwhile, I'm trying to at least try to be practical. Our little Aquarius born to Gemini and Sagittarius parents, is already lacking in the grounded/Earth department.

So, it's the great clutter of 2011. And the only way out is in. (Not that I ever get out anyway.)

May you be present.

six. months. old.

Rowan is six months old! This happened a few days ago. Today I think he actually swallowed some of those sweet potatoes that I've been attempting to spoon into his mouth. He's starting to look like less of a baby and more like a little boy. It's hard to believe that this is all true.

What's your true thing today?


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