The Love List – May 2014

 

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Strawberries!! Oh how we love strawberries. Mostly we eat them straight up but if you’ve never had a grilled peanut butter and strawberry sandwich, you must. Our Farmers Market opens in early May and strawberries kick off the season. This year we were there bright and early to choose the yummiest pints and the four of us settled down by the bluegrass band and got started. Many, many strawberries were eaten. Just yesterday we decided to take a family trip to a nearby farm and pick our own. What a blast everyone had and look at our haul!

Hug & Fall. If you’re not familiar with this game, I’m not sure where you’ve been. The boys are all about it. It’s very simple and very cute. First you bear hug your brother as big and wide as you possibly can and then you pull him to the floor so that you collapse in a giggling, wrestling heap. As soon as you catch your breath, you jump to your feet and begin again.

Almost 4. Something wonderful is afoot with Yogi and I think we can credit his emerging four-ness. His dramatic edges are smoothing a bit and he’s growing into himself with increasing confidence and independence. It’s lovely really. He’s truly a joy to be around most of the time. This is something that only months ago I never dreamed I’d say. Ever.

Golden Wellness

Golden Wellness Smoothie. This is my smoothie of the moment. You know what makes it golden? Turmeric. I wasn’t so sure about the turmeric at first, but it’s grown on me. It’s so good. Here’s the recipe.

1 large orange, frozen
1 cup almond milk
1 banana, frozen
1/2 tsp maple or agave syrup (optional)
1 tsp turmeric
a few pinches of cinnamon
a pinch of cayenne

Directions: Blend from low to high until smooth and frosty. A high-speed blender is needed to obtain a smooth blend with the fibrous orange. Adjust flavor: Add in more turmeric for a brighter yellow blend. Add in more banana, maple or agave syrup if you want things sweeter. If you do not have a high-speed blender, you can substitute the whole orange with 1/3 cup orange juice and a handful or ice – but the texture will be thinned.

Our Garden. We have a lovely garden and I have one person to thank. My rockstar wife. Well, and Yogi helps too. He can water a garden like nobody’s business. Here’s what’s coming up at our house: spinach, kale, chocolate mint, cilantro (so delicious), cucumbers, beets, and carrots. Yum, yum, yum!

Boy Bonding. After months and months of being fairly certain that the boys were NEVER going to do anything but fight, the tide has turned.They are talking to each other!!! Working things out themselves. It is a miracle to behold. There is still plenty of fighting of course, but now there’s also working together and communal problem solving. It’s pretty awesome actually.

Claire Danes

Homeland. Finally we have a show again. It has been a LONG time. My wife and I just don’t have the same taste in TV shows. We have truly shared the love for only two shows: Six Feet Under and Twin Peaks. So, it’s thrilling that we’re both into this one. It’s a great mix of our interests: the CIA/political intrigue/suspense (her) and mental illness/relationship drama/Claire Danes (me). Nothing better than snuggling together on the couch after boy bedtime.

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Patience Eludes Me

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I’ve never had much talent for patience. Having children has brought this into blindingly sharp focus. I have some hope that patience can be built, in the way of muscle, but I don’t have much in the way of personal results to stand as evidence. The worst part of my patience problem is that I spend every last bit of what I’ve got on the boys. And…. I have a three year old and an almost two year old. So, yeah. There’s not going to be a surplus. Ever.

Where does that leave everyone else I encounter? In trouble. That’s where. I’m the worst on myself, although my wife runs a close second. It’s awful really.

The last two weeks have been an adventure. We’ve had some high-highs and some low-lows. Mostly highs really. Nana and Pops came to visit, followed by a quick trip from Grandpa and then our oldest, bestest friends came to town with their two girls. We have zoo-d and blown bubbles and kicked balls in the yard and had many of those (much needed) “you really get me” kinds of conversations. All of that has been lovely and affirming and just in time. Unfortunately an extremely disgusting stomach bug has been woven through every last bit of the good stuff. This means that there has also been oh.so.much vomit and laundry and scrubbing and pedialyte and applesauce and anticipatory nausea and even more actual nausea. Of the 11 people who have been in my house recently, only 4 have been spared.

I’m sharing all of this because it struck me that a more well-adjusted person might allow themselves a moment to recover. I am clearly not that person. All I could do yesterday was maniacally clean my house and berate myself for the too-much-mimosa-and-monkey-bread state I found myself in after a neighborhood egg hunt. That and a looping question related to how a person could have a stomach bug and not lose weight?  It’s obvious to me that a little self-gentleness is in order, but I can’t seem to find it. At least not for myself. It’s ridiculous really and I’m getting too old for this.

I do however have new glasses! Rose colored glasses. I probably need to put those on!

This Moment

Thanks for your sharing in the excitement of my last post! I really enjoyed the comments. However, there are things going on around here that have nothing to do with the third baby question. Here are a few of those things:

Dinosaurs. As part of Yogi’s ever-growing fascination with power (how it works, who’s got it, how he can get some) he’s got dinosaurs on the brain. Every library book is a dinosaur story (a really great one is Edwina: The Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct (Mo Willems)) and most of his imaginary play features growling, crushing houses with his huge feet and telling everyone that he is a dinosaur who eats other dinosaurs. His favorite? T-Rex.

Sesame Street. This winter we started having some family TV time after dinner and the boys fell in love with Sesame Street. Now that we have more daylight and can get outside we’re trying to remind them of how fabulous the post-dinner family walk used to be. It’s a work in progress. Bert and Ernie’s Great Adventure, Super Grover 2.0 and Elmo’s World are hard to resist.

Repetition. Every word that anyone says is guaranteed to be repeated by the Monk. Not only will he repeat your words, but that repetition will echo. His little voice might be the sweetest sound I have ever heard, but there is such a thing as too much sweetness.

Yogi’s New Closet. He’s been choosing between two shirts every day since he was old enough to point, but until recently we called the shots on all the rest of his clothes. A while back it occurred to me that giving him a little more say might smooth out some of our getting-ready friction, so we rearranged his closet. Now everything is within his reach. He can choose shirts, pants, and socks. At night he picks out his pi’s. He looks a little eccentric much of the time, but he takes pride in his selections.

Evolving Values. I’ve been flirting with veganism for years. It’s the cheese that really stands in my way. I would miss fish and ice cream, but I could handle it. But cheese? Man would I miss cheese. And then last week I read this. I’m a long time Zen Habits reader and I’ve certainly read his ideas about living vegan before, but this piece really connected with me. The flirting continues.

Baffling Boys. The sibling dynamic is incomprehensible. I don’t think I will ever understand it. At 4:28 they can be shrieking and using every ounce of their strength to crush one another and then suddenly it’s 4:29 and they are belly laughing. I wasn’t aware that such radical mood shifts were possible outside of psychiatric facilities. Or maybe…… never mind. 😉

Another Big Boy Bed?! Grandpa has made it and brought it to our house, but I am NOT ready to set the Monk free. He, of course, feels differently. He spends much of his time trying to dismantle the crib himself. I guess we should be glad that we don’t have climbers, but climbing out of a crib might be safer than shaking the bars and jumping with such force that the whole thing crumbles beneath you. Ugh. We’ve got to do it soon.

Seasons Change

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This is happening outside my window. Every glance at those petals melts a bit more of the quiet chill of winter and for that I am oh so grateful. The last season has been a long one. The cold and the darkness have been the too-perfect companions for my (obsessive?) ruminations. My quiet inwardness. Perfect for holding me in that space, not at all perfect for forcing me out.

Happily, seasons change. Even more happily, this new season is spring. Everywhere I look something lovely is in bloom. Walking to the park with the boys this afternoon I had to acknowledge that our neighborhood is in the throes of a beauty riot. It’s fairly impossible to remain unmoved in a situation like this. So, I’m not. I’m moving. I’m making my way out of my head and back out into the world.

Thanks for putting up with my long silences. I’ve missed you.

NaNoWriMo Here I Come!!!

It is official. I am a crazy person.

It’s November and for me that means one thing. It’s National Novel Writing Month. Back in 2010 when Yogi was three months old I decided to jump in for the first time. I had heard the NaNo buzz for a few years and now that I was home with an infant it seemed like perfect timing. The goal was 50,000 words in 30 days. It wasn’t easy, but I got it done and I could not have been more thrilled with myself. The next year when I was home with a one year old, I jumped in again. I spent much of October outlining and brainstorming and generally getting ready and by the end of the first week of November I was out. It was over. I just couldn’t make it happen. When November rolled around the next year I was home with a two-year old and six-month old. I didn’t even try.

So here we are again. I’ve spent much of the last month pining for NaNo. Talking myself into and out of it from minute to minute. The Monk is now the age that Yogi was when I couldn’t get it together in 2011. And of course now I have not just a one and half year old, but also a three year old. A three year old who doesn’t nap. All of that plus we will be embarking on the Great Room Sharing Adventure tonight at bedtime which is sure to stir up all of our most challenging sleep issues. I think you can see that it’s obvious. This is the perfect time to kick my writing practice into high gear. It’s ideal really.

In true crazy person fashion I’m incapable of listening to reason. I’m doing this thing. I won’t be writing a novel so I’m not technically a participant, but I’m riding the manic energy and committing myself to thirty days. I’m not so adamant about word count (although 50k would be nice), but what I am adamant about is developing a habit. Writing every day. I’ll be working on lots of different things in the hope that variety will keep me going.

If you have any extra persistence or patience, please send them my way. And while you’re at it if you have any words of wisdom about behavior change I’d love to hear them. Perfection isn’t my goal, but a daily-ish writing practice is a habit I would love to build. I’ve been moving towards it for a few years now, but a solid effort this month would be excellent for momentum.

Here’s to November!

I Miss My Wife

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I miss my wife.

Last night when I settled into bed next to her sleeping self it occurred to me that we are on Day Three. Three nights of my running out of the house as soon as the boys are in bed and returning only after my wife has fallen asleep. Three nights without even the abbreviated connection that we’ve (mostly) settled into since becoming parents.

It’s been busy around here lately, but that’s not really so unusual. We are busy. Life is busy. Somehow in spite of our efforts to keep it simple and commit to only what truly matters and just take.it.slow the world continues to hurtle and spin both around and through us. A lot of it is wonderful, but it also makes me dizzy. Dizzy and disconnected.

Connection is one of my most favorite words. I love the way it sounds and even more, the way it feels. I crave it. There’s a high that comes from that moment of engagement, no matter how small. It can happen in the line at Target with the cashier or waiting for the boys at pick-up with another parent. All that’s required is two people tuned in to the same moment. It’s a little thing really, but even little things require attention. Perhaps they are in particular need of it.

There is so much to be done in every moment that it’s hard to create space for much beyond the doing. By the time I can really see my wife we have both been mauled (a tad dramatic, yes) by the day and there is still so very much to be done. We are tired and our tuners are half dead. I wish that this were different. I trust that it will be. Eventually.

For  now though, I just miss my wife. It’s Halloween with nothing but rain in the forecast so I’m looking forward to a whole lot of slow at my house tonight. No plans, no to-do lists. Just this family being together. And then after bedtime, just the Mommies. I’m going to tinker with my tuner this afternoon and see if I can get the thing going.

This being a grown-up thing is no joke.

Intimacy in Casual Friendship: Too Much to Ask?

This having a network thing is not without its challenges. Now that I’m taking my interactions with people who are not my very best friends more seriously, I’m realizing a few things. The first is that my Truth Tourettes extends to others. Or maybe I should say that I wish it did.

What I mean by this is that it drives me crazy when people pretend like everything is fabulous every.single.time you see them. And by “people” I mean fellow stroller-pushers/park visitors/playgroup attenders that I see multiple times in the space of a week. While it might be reasonable to accept the fact that other people are not (technically) required to share their deepest darkest secrets with me, I am chronically unreasonable. At least when it comes to sharing. I have expectations.

My expectations do not require the complete and immediate baring of the soul, but I do expect something. I need it. Something that seems real, something that has a hint of unique authenticity about it. Maybe dimensionality would be a way to describe it. One-dimensional interaction is frankly painful. It’s not just that it’s boring (which it is), but that it’s actually uncomfortable. When you’re holding everything in, you’re withholding yourself. Pulling back. Maintaining a distance. It’s a thing that can be felt.

All of this is made worse when it is clear that this person with the smile duct-taped across her face is miserable. When every non-verbal message within 10 feet is flashing “Danger, Danger!” in bright white lights. It’s (quite) possible that I put more faith in my intuitive ability than I really should, but when it seems clear to me that something is UP with a person, something very usually is. And even if my gut is completely off and everything really is perpetually-sunny-thankyouverymuch, is that any way to live? Perhaps it’s because I can’t even imagine such a life that it strikes me as mind-numbing, but come on. A person needs some valleys. They make the peaks all the higher, don’t they?

All of this to say that I need some intimacy in my friendships and (with important exceptions) I’m finding that hard to come by.  Why all this “Yeah! Everything is Great!!”? Is there a prize for being totally together in all of your social interactions? If that kind of behavior earns you a prize I bet it’s something really vacuous and fake. Something like a lifetime supply of Cheese Puffs. A lose-lose for sure. Not that I’m bitter.

A (partially) Superficial Break in the Silence

When things get loud on the inside, I have to get quiet on the outside. Balance, you know? It (mostly) works for me. So I ride these waves of outward, now inward, now outward again without ever really mastering the both-at-once. The little bit in, little bit out. Working on that one.

The awkward part of coming out of the inwardness is the how. What do you say when you’ve forgotten what your voice sounds like? Never knowing the answer to this one, I usually just keep quiet a bit longer. Well… not today. Today I’m using my voice to tell you two things that are very exciting.

The first is that my NOT having cancer is official! It’s so official that the doctor says my efforts are no longer needed. My body will go on NOT having cancer all by itself. No crazy person energy required!

The second is that my girlfriend (Abby Wambach) got married last weekend!!! May she and Sarah Huffman (lucky dog) have a long and lovely life together.

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How cute are they? And more importantly, when will they start having babies?!!

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In my hunt for wedding pictures (no luck) I stumbled on this gem. Swoon.

On NOT Having Cancer

Since last time I have been mostly sure that some manner of gynecological cancer diagnosis is imminent. I say mostly bc there are sane moments in which the logical arguments of my wife (a physician), her father (a retired OB-GYN), my personal OB-GYN and the quite specialized radiologist who read my ultrasound drown out the crazy voice to remind me that an ovarian cyst is practically pedestrian. Sure, I’ve got a weird mass in there and lots of what people-in-the-know refer to as “irregular bleeding” (do NOT google that), but when they take a look again in 3 months that thing will almost certainly be smaller and as my quite wise and not-at-all-medically-trained friend explained to me, scary things never shrink. Scary things never shrink. I like that. Of course! THAT is true. The kind of true that calms me and makes sense. If only I could find a doctor that would communicate with me like that.

Instead I have a doctor who, while wonderful (she helped us welcome both Yogi and the Monk) is still a doctor. She does what she can to communicate in a way that I’m sure she believes to be straightforward and accessible, but my rational self still runs right out of my mind the moment she starts explaining anything. I’m capable of little more than nodding. Nodding is really quite an achievement. What I want (need?) to do is run. Fast. It’s impossible to focus when a very primal (and loud!) part of your brain is demanding that you GET.OUT.NOW!!! It’s probably the white coat. A simple matter of stimulus-response. Simple….right.

So, it’s hard to focus and write now that I’m so busy not.having.cancer. It’s a job. I’m more than ready to quit, but I’m on the job until I get this follow-up ultrasound behind me. The crazy doesn’t permit irresponsibility. In the meantime though I’ve neglected to keep you up to date on all the big stuff going on around here. What I’ve got now are bullets, but actual sentences will be coming soon.

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  • It’s back to school in our part of the world and TWO BOYS are attending!
  • Yogi and the Potty Saga continues.
  • We have a brand-new baby boy cousin!
  • I’m suddenly (unexpectedly) obsessed with the idea of donor siblings.
  • I’ve got crazy baby fever (maybe it’s the cousin?).

I Now Pronounce You Married!!!

After being actually married for almost five years, thanks to the great state of New York and super-trustworthy (and fun!) grandparents we are now legally married. This means that we have another anniversary, which I can’t help notice is a rearrangement of our actual anniversary. This is (of course) entirely coincidental.

September 13, 2008     09/13/08

August 9, 2013               08/09/13

Creepy or cool?

I can’t tell you that I feel more married or different in any significant way, but I can tell you that I couldn’t be happier that we did it.

First there is the matter of enjoying a romantic getaway with my wife which is just huge. After planning on two nights, thanks to a flight cancellation we spent three nights in a hotel without children. THREE NIGHTS! I think you get what I’m trying to say here. Ah the luxury. When we weren’t applying for the marriage license and actually getting married, we were walking all over the city (at our very own pace), eating delicious food, watching a movie (Blue Jasmine) in the afternoon, taking naps and talking without any interruptions. It’s hard to get away with kids this young, and we did miss them and we did worry, but it was so, so worth it. Little people are tough on a marriage and it felt wonderful (and frankly necessary) to reconnect.

Then there is the fact of the courthouse wedding, which is actually (I had no idea!) quite a fabulous thing. I’m sure the experience varies wildly depending on where you are in the country, but I loved ours. There was a fair amount of waiting, but it was the excited, eager kind of waiting. The best part was being surrounded by so many different kinds of couples with the same goal. There were gay couples and straight couples, young couples and older ones, folks who were dressed to the 9’s and others in shorts and flip-flops. I don’t even know how many languages I heard.

I’d never thought about sharing my wedding day before, but I think it was the sharing that I loved the most. The fact of all us coming from all of our separate places to this one spot where, couple after couple, we would say these most important words. Not together exactly, but certainly in a kind of community. It felt good and deeply right. There was a lot of goodwill and well wishes in the air. I love that.

And then there was our witness. You need to have a witness when you do a courthouse wedding and when you’re getting married in another state this isn’t necessarily easy. Although we know a few people in NYC, it is hardly our neck of the woods. But….my mother-in-law’s (I can say that in a way that is technically true now!) oldest and dearest friend lives in the city and we asked him to join us for the ceremony. Joe is someone I’ve heard about over the years, but we hadn’t met. I knew that Joe was in his 60’s, that he was gay, that he had been diagnosed with HIV almost twenty years ago and that he and his partner had been together almost as long as I had been alive. I knew all of those things, but I didn’t get the enormity of it until it crashed into me while we standing outside the chapel.

The three of us were huddled together outside the doors, quiet after all the catching up (my wife) and getting to know you (me). I looked over at Joe and our eyes just held. It was only a moment, but in that moment I felt the crushing weight of all the history that had brought us here. All the people who have hidden and suffered and died and rioted and gotten sick and been murdered and on and on and on. And how different my own life has been. Standing there I felt dizzy with all the things that have been possible for me that were never possible for Joe. That were never in the realm of possibility. It almost got me, the sad shame of all that loss. Almost, but not quite.

I’m certain there was a sadness in his eyes then, but there was happiness too. Joe was glad for us and for our boys and I’m sure for his own life as well. He smiled and took lots of terribly blurry pictures and clapped with an enthusiasm that made it easy to forget that there were only four people in the room. After the kiss he hugged us both and later that night he and his partner toasted us with Proseco and lots of good conversation.

It was perfect is what I’m trying to tell you. I can’t imagine a better wedding.