Monday, March 30, 2009

eighteen months is all it takes

The wait is officially over.
He said it.
Clear as a, well
a toddler who wants more than
anything to honor his older brother
by speaking his
has wrapped it up
in fine multi-syllabic

he screached the second time
when he heard us
with our
approving lit up smiles
You did it Cell, you said Sammy!

Best part of all-
ammy walking over to him
and hugging him
all gently while saying;

I knew you could do it-
I always knew it.

Now can you say


(an old photo of a pre-verbal Marcel
to remind us of the distance we have traveled)

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Pan or modeling healthy choices?

So, aside from the
But Mom, rain is the best time to shoot the blaster
then no one notices if they get wet..
the weekend has been delightfully

We don't say gun
but what's the use-
I was in the front of the line
to stand high on
that soap box
and all that got me was
a farther fall to the ground
of face it he's a boy
and it's a gun
and the two will be united
so save your breath

I pray we will defy the
odds and I will keep
my sons safe from the
I won't even type it out
so that that fate has no place to rest
her heavy laden haunches here.

The worry cup has been over

with old maid fears
single parent
isolation too
easy to
and frustration
no space
to write
or exercise
plenty to
and criticize

mud season can do this to you

feels good to slop
through it here
a little bit

it's hard


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

rejection never felt so good

Sam, I wrote a stanza of the poem when I was in the shower.

Did it get wet?


Mama-the-writer update:

I received the greatest rejection letter today, from the editor of a literary magazine on the west coast. After informing me that my piece would not be included in their spring issue she goes on to say;

"I especially appreciated the risks you took in "Let's Go to Your Place" - this was a deeply private piece, and much of your imagery and language recalled a dozen, similar emotions and memories of my own - always a good sign."

It's hard to call encouraging words like this a rejection. And days before that, another writer emailed me to say she had recently come across the blog. Her impressions? Your writing style is spectacular and your sons are good enough to eat. So in honor of crossing the 1000 mark on my ticker, I want to say thank you to all who have stopped by for a gander, and keep coming back. Because the writing will just get better, and the content richer. And how much will you enjoy telling your friends that you knew of me long before I was a regular contributor to Vanity Fair, NPR, The Atlantic, and The Sun for starters.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

All the love

Mom I gave Eddie all my love.

I heard, I am sure she could feel it.

But, now what do I do?


Do I not have any love left?

Cool thing about love Sam, the more you give out, the more you have to give.



Actually Mom, it is not magic. It is your heart.


Meanwhile Marcel, aka the Great Disperser (if it is contained, he will free it, dump it, throw it, send it to a new destination) is gathering words by the mouthfuls to add to his impressive store. At the moment he is waddling around the room talking about hockey (Sam's calendar) bus (which means let's get in the car, and go look for buses his current obsession) poo-poo to celebrate his morning constitution, and Eh-dee because I mentioned to Sam that she is coming for dinner this week, and Marcel has been looking all over the house for her ever since. My favorite is Watch this! And then he jumps in the air a centimeter and screams WOW.

The writer Mama has been on hiatus, and it is time to ramp it up again. A new class begins in a few weeks, a major poetry performance looms on the horizon (yearly school staff talent show, where I have performed for the last two years, and have a little parent and student following now. Most importantly, Sam is looking forward to it, and even suggested topics for the poem last night; "me when I was a baby again, or me doing karate, or a poem about how you yell."
When I told him that I had written a line of the poem in the shower he asked if it got wet. Of course that begins another poem entirely.

Next entry--photos from the newly refurbished, and kick'in playroom, which Sammy described last night to Eddie on the phone as "totally awesome". This was unprompted, so you know he really digs it.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Only in Maine

Do we dress up and drive out thirty miles to plod through the mud and melting snow to wait outside in line two hours for an opportunity to eat pancakes and drink mediocre coffee outdoors with hundreds of other like minded foragers for this seasons' first official taste of the new batch of maple syrup.

syrup verdict: a little light

Maple Syrup Sunday highlights: woodsmoke in your hair, petting an ox, moo-ing at cows, scratching a pig, free vanilla ice cream under a not too generous sample of maple syrup, biggest home made see-saw you ever seen or saw. And mud. Lots of good, free, best of the season mud.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Line Up

Mom? Did you know what I was thinking about when I was watching T play bass?

No, what?

Darth Vader dying and knowing that Luke loved him.

Whoa. The music brought that to mind?

Mom, if you eat everything you are supposed to we won't have to burn you on a pile of wood, because you won't have to die. So let's eat a lot tomorrow OK Mom?


We saw a show tonight, at a local coffee house, where Sam's beloved T(ia) was playing bass, and hosting the songwriter's showcase event. It was the coveted Mommy-Sammy night out. The music was phenomenal, being around non toddlers was in itself intoxicating.

As usual he was the only one under the age of 21 at these things, and was adored by all. Dang he is so precious. Could he get any more charming? He spent the evening nestling into various musician-friends' laps, while I kept him well hydrated with pomegranate fizziness.

As I watched him work the crowd, ask his heart felt questions about musical this, and musical that, I was astounded by his confidence, and his ever increasing independence from me. Last week his namesake, Samantha reminded me that as a mother I am the air that he breathes, he doesn't need to be reminded of my presence, at this age, mom is just a given. You are just there, and if I have done my job right, he knows that, and trusts it completely.

So my lap was empty, my pomegranate drink was empty, and in some way I felt a little empty too. Across the room was a bunch of should-be-in-college kids, drinking root beer, writing in their journals, text messaging their other friends and looking slightly ill at ease in their grown up bodies. I imagined Sammy there in fourteen years, and realized how much more at home he is in his skin now, then I may have ever been. I can relate to those kids, in some ways more than I can relate to him at that moment.

He is already quite an improvement on this older model.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

You know you're a good mom when....

Your son feels so securely attached that he easily makes meaningful connections with other loving adults in his life.

He transitions easily to a new school, and impresses everyone when he elects
himself to be the one who helps another new student adjust by being his special buddy, and helping him when he felt shy or sad.

You decided to stop yelling a week ago, and haven't yelled since.

You give your son a selection of pictures to take to school for the "family" wall, and he looks through them, and chooses one of everyone he adores, and also picks a picture of his birth mother, because she carried me in her tummy to you.

You made pork chops for the first time, and they were good.

You let your four year old take a picture of you with your nice camera, and it comes out well.

Your 18 month old, has so many words and ways to express himself, that you actually understand more then don't what he needs.

Friends rent houses 5 minutes away, to be close to your family.

You have successfully navigated over the past year and some, a co-parenting relationship with your older brother who moved back to the states, your state even, in big part to be nearer to your children.

You have bought him a booster seat for his car, because it is time, and he is fine with that.

You order huge appliques of sports figures to put on the wall of the playroom, and include a few girls too, so that all our friends want to come play.

You practice the karate bow, so your son can get his first belt tomorrow.

You make time to do the stair master at least 15 minutes a day, so you can continue to not yell.

You remember not to wash his hair because the ruptured ear drum could get infected if the soap gets in there.

You kept your son pain free with tylenol and motrin safely.

You inform the doctor at the Saturday office location (who actually has her practice there and isn't just filling in) that this is the third and hopefully last time you need to call to someones attention the fact that the six giant 18x24 color photographs of all white children in the lobby do not take into consideration the needs of all of her patients.

You thank her as she agrees. And, so does your son.

You recorded a happy birthday video for their grandfather, and sent it on time, because the kids wanted to show them how they do yoga.

Your kids do yoga, even though you don't know how to.

The book they often request to read is the book you made on Shutterfly about their summer vacation in Washington--because they like to "read about themselves".

For all the self aware hyper critical introspection you do, you are able to praise yourself for your excellent parenting when it is time.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

For Posterity's Sake

What inspired me to do the asking, or the recording, let alone the publishing here I'll never know. But dag gone if his answers didn't get me thinking more about my parenting. Maybe that's the problem--I spend too much time thinking about it, and not enough time improving on it.

I asked Sam the questions, his answers are recorded here verbatim.

1. What is something I always say to you? Don't do that
2. What makes me happy?
When I say I love you
3. What makes me sad?
When I say I want someone else to be my mommy.
4. What was I like as a child?
You were like me.
5. How old am I?
6. How tall am I?
taller than a lot of people
7. What is my favorite thing to do? Go for a walk.
8. What do I do when you're not around? That's crazy.
9. If I were to become famous, what will it be for?
Writing a book or a poem.
10. What am I really good at?
Making things happen for us.
11. What am I not very good at?
12. What do I do for my job?
Help people be nice, make good choices and learn to write and read
13. What is my favorite food? Eating all the time
14. What makes you proud of me?
When you read your poems in front of people with a microphone
15. If I were a cartoon character, who would I be?
Darth Vader
16. What do you and I do together?
Special things without my brother.
17. How are you and I the same?
We play basketball.
18. How are you and I different?
Our skin.
19. How do you know I love you?
I am in your heart.
20. Where is my favorite place to go?
Do you go anywhere?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Respect is free for the first month

After our initial "private lesson" Sammy is a "little ninja" in training.

On Monday he gets his first white belt, and an official invitation to start karate group lessons the next day.


"Yes ma'am" (no really that is the homework, for him to practice saying Yes and No ma'am.)

Sammy modeled his new belt-less costume, while Marcel ran around kicking things in his bathrobe.

Not only does the place give you the first month of lessons free, but teachers get a discount, and his teacher is a woman, who is going to insist my son learn respect and self control. If someone else wants to take over that piece for a month for free, I say; Yes Ma'am!


A new feature to this blog is going to be the Thursday Line Up.
A collection of one liners from the week that you, my adoring fans of my adorable and beastly children will appreciate.

Minimal context, high impact is our goal.

(Pretend it's Thursday.)

Thursday Line Up

Fashion: I walk out wearing the new bathing suit I had ordered online. It features "boy shorts" and a tankini top. When I walk out of the changing area Sam hoots; "Show us what you got sister, uh-huh." I stop laughing just in time to hear this; "Uh Mom? A little too tight huh?"

Beauty: Feelings were left in tact, because he was right. I emerge three minutes later wearing a black cotton dress with a nifty neck line. But this time I hear, "Mom that dress is too big, it hides your beautifulness." I simply trust the child, and put that in the to return pile too.

Athleticism: Marcel's teacher to me; "He had a good day. He ate well, slept great, and besides needing to be reminded not to kick his friends he had super fun throwing the ball at people."

Politics: Sam: Mom I saw Obama walking down the street.
Me: I doubt it hon, he doesn't walk alone anywhere.
Sam: Why?
Me: Well, he's too important.
Sam: Is that why you are never alone too mom?

Nutrition: Me: Marcel use your words. What do you want for dinner?
Marcel: Ice-keam and cookie. Mine. Mine. Now. NOW!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

not to worry

Sam loves his new school, and I am coming to appreciate all sorts of communication styles from all sorts of people who love my children.

Tia is transforming our basement into a magical, colorful, weatherproofed, and all around inviting space.

Karate lessons start on Friday for #1 Son.

New words include: mine, my, book, baby, cookie, ice cream, and chocolate for # 2 son. I trust all are noticing the priorities in this house.

It is melting, the snow.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

face plant

Maybe the hardest part about it was that we were having a really good weekend. You know, lots of outdoor time, almost no yelling, and at the very moment when he announced it the baby was napping and he and I had just finished thirty uninterrupted minutes of mommy-sammy time drawing pictures and doing mazzes and connect the dots at his request. I felt almost award winning at the time. I am in the small bathroom putting some clean clothes away (it doubles as a walk in closet) when I hear; "Mom, I wish Eddie was my mom." My rib cage turned to sand and I collapsed internally. (Eddie is our friend, his now retired 21 year old nanny.) What woud you have said?

It really is a blur how poorly I handled the situation, but it went something like I have feelings too, and how would you feel if.. and just go in the other room because I need a few minutes alone. Basically I relinquished all medals at that point. I redeemed myself several minutes later when his guilt had bought him several hundred hours of future therapy credits. I said I understood that he loves Eddie, and she is family isn't she. I went on to ask what I could do more of that Eddie did that he might be needing. He twisted the knife deeper with his immediate response to that too; "just hang out with me more."

So the kid can share his feelings, and certainly has no problem in the attachment arena some of you might be saying. Nice try. Oh and then later he is dancing around the living room singing his birthother's name punctuated by the words "love, love, love" in a Beatles kind of refrain. If I had hours to list them, you would be privy to an impressive array of my insecurities that were dancing next to him on that dance floor.

We ended the weekend with leftovers, Star Wars, chocolate brownies and whip cream. He got a line up in the tub, and wrote his name, and mine (he can't spell Eddie yet) on the wall of the tub in shaving cream. After M went to bed, Sammy and I read three stories, cuddled and reviewed the highlights of the weekend. He said the best part was licking the spoon to the brownies, and the bike ride- until he fell, but that was cool too. He reminded me that he would be coming in my bed later if he woke up. I knew it was time for me to get more exercise when I wanted to tell him that it was too bad Eddie was out of town, or else I'm sure she'd welcome a late night wake up call.

I have to go find a way to scrub the pencil drawing he put on the new futon cover, and then patch his favorite jeans or I'd write more.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

here's looking at you

a little early morning March check in
from a new format.
It feels like an important week just
happened. How often to I get to
realize that?
Marcel is routinely, dare I say it, sleeping through the night. And I mean sleeping
not a peep
out like a light.

and language-
We've got it!
Just a few weeks shy of 18 months, my little brainiac is busting out!
every day a new word
with glory and

Mama wook baby my!
translation: Mom look at my baby (doll).
I'll spare you the list
but one more highlight care of Uhn-kle:

I duhn NO.

And really he doesn't know.
Marcel where is your shoe?
I duhn know.
Marcel are you done?
I duhn know.
Marcel can you stop screaming please?
(we think the sound of NO is what makes this so appealing.)

Omniscient is Sam's newest word.
Mom, you are so omniscient he tells me.
Of course he knows what it means.
Thanks Uncle.
I had to look it up.

Sam's to do list this weekend:
sign up for karate
eat pancakes
roller blade outside too
it's fun in the playroom but he wants to JUMP more
help mommy the first time she asks
(I swear this is from his mouth, with only a little suggestiion)

My to do list:
Notice how it feels to be rested
exercise outside
print out five working chapters of memoir (!!!)
get the crock pot back to work
figure out how to record a few books on tape for sam
play more
fuss less

Marcel's to do list:
he doesn't know

Thursday, March 5, 2009


the director reassured me
that this is normal
this not being sam's reaction to his new school-
but mine:
needing information, details, a sense of
the child's day

complicated conversation convinced
to exhale, trust and believe
that he is where he is meant to be-
and i might be the one who learns something
this time around.

we don't believe in the behaviorist model
but we understand that some households do.


it's not like the stickers are going to earn him
a candy bar I hear myself thinking out loud

we believe that children are learning
during the bad days too

kind of like I am learning not
to feel judged for the sticker chart
I have wedged over the car's visor
to immediately reward him
for one more day of
good listening the moment
he plants it in the backseat
and announces he had another


my sticker chart
wedged underneath the chocolate chip
cookies and the
strawberry ice cream
for a Mama who didn't
when she really
wanted to.

Monday, March 2, 2009

four + one = forty-one

A snow day here in the land of
four and one
and forty-one is another gift
to unwrap slowly

Royally treated again:
waking at the farm house in Hiram
for pancakes cooked for me
and twenty minutes to read about
that other famous mom
Michelle with the beautiful arms
in a magazine
on a couch
with a warm cup of
brewed coffee brought
to me followed by
a spontaneous song and dance on a dirt
somewhere under the snow
covered road
announcing to bent over birches
that I
am still standing
tall, and bringing it in
with my best bring it on
surrounded by love on a perfect
First Sunday in March

Balloons, flowers, and festive
welcoming us home
on our return to town
an ominous
weather report giving me full permission
to dress it up
live it up
toast it up
on a
a Girls Night Out
with babysitting
provided by a Boys Night In

Home safely
well celebrated
I revisit the
voice, text and email shouts large
from the world at large
and feel the love radiating to me

Holding my favorite
home made card boasting every letter
in no particular order of
written proudly
by himself

hearing over and over
a one year old's
self assured
bursts of
Hippy-Birday MA-ma
reminded me
over and over again
that what I give up
to be here daily
is worth another
birthday wish devoted to
for it to be no other way
then I had it today
for part two of this life well lived
from zero to forty.

Forty-one to eighty
I'm ready.