Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Stream of Consciousness

Cold pad thai, broken chopsticks, and what's left of my sweet balsam candle sit beside me on my desk--the latter enticing me with its clear pool of hot wax that begs to be played with. I did it--I listened to my inner child and dipped eight fingers (the thumbs wouldn't fit) into the candle until each was covered with a thin wax shield which dried and was removed in a process that brought me far more satisfaction than it should have. I tell you all this because I am tired, and my short cloud of writer's block was interrupted by the brilliant idea of setting the scene. My bad.


Highlights of this weekend:

Saturday morning coffee with friends which I like to think of as the gun blast in the horse race that initiates the trot of stallions to follow. The tired horses assemble at the starting line. And then Bam, coffee. Bam, conversation. Bam, cheesy egg hashbrown thing. Giddy up, Weekend, here we come. Really, I just like relating things to derbies. There are a lot of untapped analogies there.

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I ran into this thing the other day.

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It grazed my face upon entrance into the woods, its sticky threads kissing my cheeks and sending me springing back in a crazed, arm-flailing response. Surprisingly, it stayed intact, and my disgust melted into "oooh pretty."

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Lainey does a mean pliƩ. She throws in one legitimate ballet technique for every 20 of her made-up interpretive moves.

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Alec, Lainey's buddy across the street, is one of her favorite people. Sometimes she looks out the window and waits for him to take his dog out and, when he does, she tells me we need to take our dog out too--at that very moment. This "chance encounter" often leads to an invitation to play. This weekend, Lainey and her bud played camping. A real tent, fire, flashlights and a bubbling brook they rigged up with a hose and a few rocks.

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After being gone last week, my awareness of every little precious detail of my kids was hyper stimulated this weekend. Like how good their hair smells after a bath, how Nella holds her pointer finger and thumb together on the "roll, roll, roll" part of Patty Cake, how Lainey smiles with her melty chocolate eyes. We made up for our two lost days this weekend. Fo sho.

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This is Ginger, the new temporary member of the family.

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We've been watching my dad's puppy for a couple weeks now, and Lainey's in love. Ginger spends most of her time in Lainey's arms, skipping behind her, or tucked in a fuzzy backpack on her back. Which is where she chilled during our round of putt putt Sunday evening.

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I forgot how much fun putt putt golf can be. Especially when you bring a push car for your kid and it doesn't fit through all the pathways and bridges and narrow stair cases.

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So you carry it. While you carry a baby in your other arm, fetch thrown-off shoes (can't count how many times we asked other golfers "have you seen a pair of kids shoes?"), tend to a dog in a backpack and chase after wandering balls.

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I got so embarrassed of walking up to get another ball after ours fell in the river/waterfall/manmade ravine that, after Hole #13 left us ball-less once again, we called it quits and walked out.

Only after we made up our own games for the green though.

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Post golf grub.

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Finally, she's off.

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As if she blew the final wisps of babyhood away with those candles last week. The walking is a done deal now, and it's been hard to get used to this different baby in our home. It really changes so much, and though I mourn the last of that itty bitty girl--the one I got to enjoy a bit longer than most--I can't help but smile with the onset of new changes.

Mainly, how they play. Less Big Sister/Little Sister and more...just sisters. Now with a level playing field.

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A cardboard box--the most captivating of toys.

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Her body even felt heavier tonight as I walked her to sleep under the stars--lengthier, stronger. A big bad walker.

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And speaking of the big two year mark, my e-mail box was flooded this morning, the subject line all the same: "You Made It! You Made It!" It being Nella's 2 for 2 Fund. This weekend, the fund stood a little under $10,000 of making our goal. And that in itself was amazing--you all raised a whole lot of money these past few weeks. But then came the kindness of one person--a single $10,000 donation that tipped us over the scale. And my, how I am inspired by kindness today. Pay it forward this week, in some way, to another.

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Welcome to new sponsor, Independent Silpada Consultant Debbie Smith.

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love this simple, delicate Dream necklace

If you're not familiar with Silpada designs, I suggest you browse her catalogue just for the fun of it. Ranging from classic and simple to striking and unique, Silpada offers a variety of quality jewelry pieces that accessorize any wardrobe.

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Silpada Ring

Debbie Smith
has made the generous offer of donating 20% of all sales right now to Nella's 2 for 2 Fund, so you can shop with a cause (choose "Nella's 2 for 2 Fund" as the hostess when you check out.)

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My candle just burned out. Literally, figuratively. Good night.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Different Strokes, Same Folks.

New York delivered, as can be expected. And by that I mean I found the word unicorn carved into the cement somewhere along 5th Ave. If you're going to deface the public's walking foundation of a great city, I suggest you choose a word like "unicorn" to do so. I don't think it's a misdemeanor if its intent is positivity--which explains the presence of so many spray-painted "God Loves Yous" and "Jesus Saves" under overpasses.

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And if New York didn't bring it with its mystical creature sidewalk vandalism, it surely did with its offering of cleverly titled shops. Case in Point:

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It's the lactation kingdom of the Upper West Side, its walls covered with an impressive display of pump parts and nursing bras that hang like expensive art in a gallery. I didn't think I'd have any issues with missing a couple days of nursing Nella as it's winding to a close anyway, and I wasn't sure she was even getting anything (this milk/boob discussion's getting slightly uncomfortable). Needless to say, I had to stop by this breast kept secret for some equipment, shall we say. I asked to get hooked up with the cheapest, easiest solution which turned out to be something that resembled a cross between a PVC pipe, a giant syringe and a victrola. If you've ever seen a breast pump (okay, I officially don't love the word "breast"), you know exactly what I mean by victrola. And then try using it in a public bathroom stall. What did I learn from all this? Well, I learned never to admit you're going to throw your rhymes-with-quest milk away when you're standing in the middle of a shop dedicated to holy mother's milk. You might as well just light a hundred dollar bill on fire. When you are asked what you plan to do with your "expressed milk" (still uncomfortable) and if you need a bottle/ice bags/insulated iron safe in which to keep it, just smile and say "yes" and "yes" and "of course."

Oh, but I'm getting utterly sidetracked now.

Back to New York.

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E. 46th St.

I was going to write this post with the whole angle of leaving my kids and what that was like and this dual life we have of mothering, nurturing, loving and yet fostering our own passions and dreams as well. How it kind of melds together, pushes and pulls and generally works out in the end.

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I loved every minute of New York and yet my true statement of "I let go, I enjoyed me time, I knew the kids were just fine without me" can be contradicted by the same truth of "I missed them and thought about them all the time." If that makes any sense.

For me though, the more interesting angle on this trip is the realization of just how alike we all are. Moms, not moms, New Yorkers, Midwesterners, Cab Drivers, what have you. My favorite thing about traveling a little more the last two years has been meeting people. People who live completely different lives, enjoy different pastimes, like different music, jobs, food, etc.

I've always had a tendency to be very conscious of what made me different in social settings. Not necessarily to be intimidated by it but at least to be aware that standing in the middle of a busy street, unfolding a giant NY map or hailing a cab the "wrong" way made me stand out. To be sitting at a table with beautiful, successful New York single women and have that moment of "I'm the crafty dork mom who keeps checking her phone for pictures of her kids." The more I really spend time with people though--open myself up to different atmospheres, allow myself to relax and really listen to people, be moved by the rhythms of different cities and landscapes, backgrounds and life stories--the less I notice what makes us different. And the more I become aware of what makes us the same.

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Alta, W. 10th St.

Surrounded by the colorful culture of New York City these past few days and weaving together the several encounters I had with different people, I'm inspired by the ever present truth of...we are all the same. Despite how many bright yellow taxis pepper our streets or what passions we pursue, how we dress, where we work, what we eat--we all want the same thing. To seek adventure, find comfort, connect with others. To relate, to feel good, to be recognized for our efforts. To be good at something. To love and be loved. To feel happy.

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St. Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, Midtown Manhattan

It felt really good this week to explore the city, meet new people and reconnect with old friends. While the past 48 hours were efficiently filled with a lot of work (a couple meetings and some very last tie-up work for the book), my friend Meg saw to it we had some fun as well.

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Other Desert Cities at Lincoln Center Theater; a captivating well-written show

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Times Square

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Holy Cow, was it a fast trip.

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Sweet Mother of Buttercream Frosting

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It rained 2 out of 2 1/2 days there.

But completely inspiring and invigorating. Even in the rain.

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That medley of wet reflections and steam that seeps out from manhole covers and sort of dances along the dark, slick streets? It's poetic. Lovely.

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Street Corner Hot Pretzels and Roasted Chestnuts

And yes, I missed them.

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I did so well at being present and really enjoying the opportunity to be alone, sleep (for the first time in three years!), move from one location to another without taking a head check, buckling seat belts or making sure to grab a to-go snack; but I missed them, truly. You get to a certain point in motherhood where, no matter how much fun you're having, you just subconsciously breathe your children. You can smell them even when you're not purposely thinking about them. You can feel their arms around your neck, their breath on your shoulder. You hear them whisper good night even when, by the time you climb in bed, they've long been asleep several hundred miles away. Brett's mom said yesterday Nella walked all day. Just took off for good and didn't look back. Because she's two now and Sister knows it.

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I almost cried when we got home and realized Grandma was right. Walking is now Nella's transportation mode of choice, and she's good at it. Quick, smooth and agile.

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Just another thing that makes us very much the same.

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Friday Photo Dump:

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Friday Phone Dump photos are taken on the Instagram iPhone app (free) and dropped into a 12x12 collage using a photo editing software (Photoshop Elements works). I am @etst (enjoying the small things) on Instagram if you want to follow the feed.


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Introducing new sponsor, Crystal & Co. Crystal is a Texas mom of five boys with a mommy resource site where she shares easy recipes (most can be made in a crock pot), crafty tutorials, meal planning ideas and solutions for every mom. Crystal & Co. features D.I.Y. crafts including a great current Valentine's Day crayon making craft with a free printable.

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Check her out.

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One Week and $10,000 to go. Look how far we've come! 2 for 2 just needs a little more pushin'.

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Have the breast weekend evah.

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Monday, January 23, 2012

Weekend: She ate cake.

Want the satisfaction of feeling all adventurous-go-get-'em without really having to go get 'em? Make a bucket list of very doable things and then do them. Cross them off your list with a big fat red marker just for the heck of it.

Like...
Eat day-old birthday cake using my hands for a plate. Check.
Brush my teeth with Dora bubble gum toothpaste. Check.
Do a crappy job painting my toenails and don't bother to clean up the smudges. Check, check.

Ooooh, look at me, I'm knockin' off my bucket list.

'Tis true, there are cake crumbs, a bubble gum after taste and a pedicure that looks like I painted my toes with a blindfold. I ran out of polish remover. Thankfully, I'm headed to a closed toe shoe region later this week.

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Our weekend was quiet and homey, just the way it's supposed to be.

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Brett and I cleaned the house together yesterday, making trades like "I'll do the kitchen if you do the bathroom." It all came together swimmingly for a perfect evening of family and celebrating two very special years.

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I didn't even notice when 4:24 p.m. slipped by. We were busy, happy, making cake.

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I started shoving candles into her cake and convinced myself that more candles represented more love. So I used the whole box and lit that muthah on fire.

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Brett practiced blowing out candles with her all day yesterday so that by the time her moment was up, Sister took a bow.

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Three out of four sets of grandparents (ah, the one bonus of divorce) allowed for a more harmonious chorus of "Happy Birthday," and oh, did it feel wonderful to have a house full.

Right before bed, Heidi said "I love you" to Nella, and you know what my girl said back? "Love you." We reacted appropriately. Like maybe we fell off the couch.

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I am feeling content today. Exactly where I'm supposed to be--over my funk, productive, reflective, slow and steady.

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For all the times I write about an imbalance--feeling too busy, uninspired, a creative bang, a high, a low, a when's-it-going-to-iron-out--it's assuring to know, there is a rhythm to all of it. Right now, in this tiny moment of time, work and family feel so appropriately melded. I feel both inspired and at peace; motivated and content; excited and calm; and even if that balance shifts tomorrow, its presence right now is enough to remind me, it works out. Ebb and Flow, Shift and Settle.

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For the first time since before kids, I'm traveling alone this week. Two nights without babies. While I am expecting a smidge of chest-constricting angst as I board a plane solo, I am surprisingly at peace, knowing this is good for all of us, and my babies will be well taken care of.

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Bucket List #148: Take a trip to the big city...alone.
Check.

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Lainey's Chinese Dragon tee, Happy Family

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Our new sponsor has a very generous offer for us this week. I am delighted to introduce Happy Family, a shop you'll find very useful if stylin' it up with more color and character is on your bucket list.

I posted this picture on Instagram (@etst) this week and received several requests for the t-shirt source:

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Word: Happy Family. Stocked with hand screen printed tees, messenger bags, potholders and totes, Happy Family has fun, conversation-sparking goods for men, women, children and babies.

Nella's birthday tee:

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..and my funky camera tee:

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Happy Family is donating 20% of all their proceeds this week to Nella's 2 for 2 Fund--an even better reason to shop! Please mention Nella's 2 for 2 Fund in the seller notes.

Happy Shopping!

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We are almost only $10,000 away from our goal of $200,000 raised for the NDSS for Nella's second birthday. 2 for 2 will continue until Nella's Tea for Two party next month. It's not too late to share, to give, to continue the efforts of many...to make a difference. Thank you so much for everything you've done to support our community.

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Wednesday's post might look a little something like this, sans sweet baby along for the ride.

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