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4
Sep 14

tiny flowers

My life lesson is this:

how to live a life fragmented
to find my peace in the uncertainty, the incompletion, the half-formation:
Partly-folded laundry, partly-done dishes, partly-grown children.

no ending to grasp
no project completion date
the ending is the ending is the ending.

leave the crumbs!
come, Mama!
plunge your hands into the dirt, splash in the water, run with outstretched arms to the arms that belong to you
and only you
only you
for now.

complete despite?
complete because of
the incompleteness–

endless birdsong
our anthem


9
Oct 13

At home

We embarked on The Next Big Thing in our house over the weekend: the kitchen remodel. It has begun. (Duh Duh DUHHHHHH!). And I remembered why I have such a love/hate relationship with any kind of home renovation. Love the outcome. Hate the process. It always takes longer (and costs more) and is way way way way more inconvenient than you ever thought possible. Especially with two kids.

The guest room is less a guest room right now and more a holding ground for an odd assortment of cookbooks, kitchen tools, office supplies, and serving platters. I can stand in the kitchen and look into the attic! Fun (and Brrrr cold in the mornings when the cold air from the attic is drifting downwards). Better, I can stand in the kitchen and see into the living room, which was one of the most major things that we wanted to tackle in this project (removing the wall between the two rooms to make for a more open space). I am loving that I can be fixing dinner and can watch the girls playing. It’s going to be so great (especially once we get the storage back in with the new cabinets and the new center island).

In the meantime, I am working on living with the uncertainty and mess that comes with this kind of an adventure. I am appreciating all the more having hot water and a clothes dryer and an oven and stove (the gas was shut off for three days as the gas line had to be cut to make room for the new structural work in the attic). I feel so lucky that we are able to work on making this house if not our dream home, than at least a really comfortable and nice space, great for cooking, living, entertaining. I’m so grateful for all of Adam’s hard work in making this happen. I’ve told him numerous times that if it were up to me, nothing of this scale or scope would ever get accomplished: I’m too chicken and too overwhelmed with all the little details. He is so good at coordinating and managing and getting things done. Can’t wait to share before and after shots (it’ll be a few months for the afters).


27
Sep 12

Yep

My friend Adrea asked me how how I’ve been holding up lately. Answer: so much better than the Perfect Storm Week, the week which began with Adam leaving on his first post-Lily’s birth business trip, quickly snowballed into terrible colds for Lily and I, and ended with many tears and gnashing of teeth and feelings of being outnumbered and the impossibility of life.

This week? It’s been hard. But it has been better.

Now, I don’t say this lightly or blithely, but I think that some of the reason that I am able to hang in there like this, and only cry a little bit every once in a while, instead of every day, all day, is because of Lilith’s personality. What, you may ask, are you talking about, you crazy woman. Well, god or the universe or whatever knew that I just couldn’t handle a (dare I say “Another”???) high-needs child and Lily is just so….chill. So smiley and laid back and can I just whisper a hallelujah because this child actually sleeps. Sleeps, sleeps. For multiple hours in a row. I don’t want to compare my two kids–that can only lead to trouble–but suffice it to say that I didn’t experience this the first time around. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Anna girl, I hope that this blog has made that clear over the years, but my Bird has kicked my ass all over the place, so many times. She is wonderful and intelligent and funny and brilliant and sassy as hell and YES challenging. Lily is just different. And I love them both, I love them for who they are but THANK goodness I got a sleeping baby this time around. This could all change. I understand and acknowledge that, but, for the time being at least, I’m enjoying the hell out of this.

THis isn’t to say that I’m getting a full and entire night’s sleep every night. Oh no no no no. Just that I get a couple of good stretches of sleep. She is a baby, after all. Babies eat in the middle of the night. Sometimes they poop and they want to be changed. Sometimes they just want to make sure that someone, anyone but hopefully Mama, is still around to love them. I’m there for her in her needs. I have fragmented sleep and I feel tired during the day, but just a regular tired, not (usually) a oh-my-goodness-I’m-so-tired-I’m-hallucinating kind of a tired. Just your good old fashioned bone-weary Mama tired. The kind of tired that helps me fall asleep easily at night, not the kind of tired that makes me fall asleep when I’m driving.

Anna is sweet and helpful lately, when she isn’t busy threatening to run away from home. This happens multiple times a week, usually. I’ve taken to treating these threats in a concerned but not overly panicky way. As in, “oh, gee, honey, I’ll really miss you. I hope you change your mind and decide to stay here! This family just wouldn’t be the same without you.” Note: she has always, to this day, decided to stay home after all, after much deliberation and brief trips to the playhouse with backpacks filled with goodies. (Necessary goodies apparently include many pairs of pajamas and underpants but no socks or daytime clothing, Polly Pocket dolls, Maria the Lovey OF COURSE, a bottle or two of water, and snacks that almost always include an apple and some cookies or crackers. Oh, and blankets and pillows. Lots of blankets and pillows). My biggest complaint about Anna with Lily is that she almost smothers her little sister with kisses and hugs. Very very sweet.

Adam is here then gone then here then gone then here then gone (work trips). Story of our life, these last few years. It is what it is, and I’m learning to deal with it. I miss him when he’s gone. I am pretty sure he misses us, too. It feels like a luxury to have him around and we all compete for his attention when he is home.

We’re hanging in there.

I’m doing well enough that we are eating and sleeping and we have clean clothes and a (mostly) tidy home. There is a minimal amount of crying by anyone. We’re doing ok, I think.

Mostly I just love my girls. I can’t believe it when I fold Anna’s clothes and I hold up her looooong and skinny leggings. When did my girl get SO big? I sigh over the sweetness of holding a baby. It is so good. And when I have those moments, where I am snuggled in with both of them, Adam at my side? BLISS. Absolute bliss.


17
Jun 12

Nesting

The last couple of months have been filled with home projects here at Chez Gray: first the BIG ceiling scrape to get rid of our asbestos-ridden popcorn ceilings (which meant moving EVERYTHING) out of the house, then plastering the ceilings to retexture them, then ripping out all the old carpet and laying new flooring, then having the entire interior of the house repainted. Since moving back in (we were out of the house for 2-3 weeks while the above jobs were done), we’ve been (slowly) moving everything back into the house from the garage, hanging artwork back up on the walls, arranging furniture, and (Adam’s LIFE the last couple of weekends) replacing every single electrical outlet in the house (putting in tamper-resistent outlets and changing out the outlet plates and switches to update them from dingy old cream to bright! new! white!). I would feel like a slave driver if Adam weren’t so intent (self-motivated) to finish all of this out. He worked for hours yesterday, puzzling over the bizarre wiring that the previous owners messed up (umm, why in the world would you put a light switch in the master bedroom that controlled the outlets in the living room?????), and crawling behind sofas to access outlets.

Me? I keep arranging and rearranging Anna’s room and the nursery. I’m itching to finish it all off, but, at the same time, I’m content in the knowledge that it will all work out–that it doesn’t have to be perfect before Baby arrives. Baby won’t care!

Though you can’t tell much from the outside, the interior of our house has received a much-needed facelift with these improvements we’ve made and have been making–it already feels like a world of difference from the dated 1970’s feeling that it had before. Amazing what new ceilings and new floors and new paint on the walls can do for a place! I’m loving it and I’m starting to see in my mind what it will be when we can finally get through ALL the home projects we have in mind (that will take several years but, hey, I’m patient).

We’ve kept a tuft of avocado and teal speckled shag carpeting to remind us of where we came from. I’d say we’ve already come a long way from the first time we walked through this place (when I hissed in Adam’s ear so that the listing agent wouldn’t hear me and be offended, “I swear to you, I will NEVER, EVER live in this house!”). Hey, guess what? I take it back. This place is turning out all right after all.


1
Jun 12

32 weeks

I was in line at Costco last week when a young man asked me “So! How long have you been pregnant?” I was so taken aback by the way in which he asked the question (most people ask when’s the due date?) that I stammered out something before he turned and left.

Today I am 32 weeks pregnant, or, alternatively, I am 8 weeks away from my due date. I am due next month! (Commence minor freakout. Sort of).

This is what it is like for me to be 32 weeks pregnant:

I get asked daily, at every single public interaction, the same three questions: (1) When are you due?, (2) Do you know what you’re having (my favorite answer being the smart-ass answer of “A BABY!!!!” said with a beatific smile on my face, as if I have no idea that they are actually asking about the sex of my baby), and (3) Are you excited?

(Alternatively, if Anna is with me, #3 is addressed to Anna and modified to “Are you excited to be a big sister?” Yesterday, our next-door-neighbor–a perfectly delightful woman, by the way–asked Anna this questions and Anna stubbornly responded with a flat, “no.” She was, ahem, kind of in a “mood,” so I tried to laugh it off but the neighbor seemed a big unnerved by her answer).

Me? Yes, of course I’m excited. I went to go see the What to Expect When You’re Expecting movie this afternoon and, despite my foreknowledge of the lackluster reviews of the movie, I really liked it. Mostly because I am a pregnant woman so any chance for a sappy cryfest at the end of a movie that shows women welcoming their newborn babies into the world is totally cool with me. And I sat there, with a stupid grin on my face, while tears rolled down my cheeks, hand on my belly feeling baby kicks and rolls, thinking about meeting this baby of mine. Reminiscing about the day that I met Anna. There is something otherworldly, something magical, something so infinitely awesome about the miracle of babies being created out of what seems like almost nothing–a few cells from me, a few cells from him, and WHAMMO! Baby! The idea that I have this person inside of me, a person with a personality, just absolutely blows me away. I love that. I love the anticipation.

We’ve been doing some home remodeling and, as these things tend to happen, it has been more involved, more expensive, and has taken more time than we had originally planned, but I figure that all is still well because, chances are, the timing on this is a little better than the timing when we did our home remodel when I was pregnant with Anna (we literally moved back into our house the very same day that I went into labor with her–in fact, I spent the day on my hands and knees cleaning and moving furniture around and the minute I sat down on the couch with a slice of pizza in my hands and an old episode of Seinfeld all cued up was the same exact minute that I experienced my first contractions). This time…..I think we’ve got time. The painters should be finished by the end of the day tomorrow or perhaps early next week. Plenty of time, right? Tell that to my nesting instinct. It’s driving me slightly crazy to not be arranging the nursery yet but (deep breath) there’ll be time for that.

As always when we do home projects, I get to pat myself on the back not for the stellar job that I am doing in managing and coordinating all the various projects and workers, etc, but for choosing a partner who is really, really amazing at doing so. Adam continues to go above and beyond. And though he won’t admit it, he is totally nesting, too. He’s the one that couldn’t stand the idea of the baby having nasty old shag carpeting in his or her room so he ripped out that old carpeting (along with the rest of the bedroom carpeting) and laid in new flooring. See? He’s a pretty great guy. I think I’ll keep him.

I can’t decide if we are inching along towards the due date or speeding along, but, either way, it isn’t too much time until we get to meet this new little person. Today I held a newborn sized onesie in my hands and marveled at how tiny it was, and then I remembered how even some of the newborn stuff was big on Anna (she wore preemie size for a little while) and….wow. So tiny! So cute!


26
Mar 12

I’ve got this

Every single time I reach the point of feeling completely and totally overwhelmed (and, believe me, this happens frequently), the point at which I feel like weeping and I think to myself, “I absolutely cannot do this,” I realize, in that moment, Wait. Actually, I am doing this.

Things may not be perfect. I might have dog hair all over the house. There may be way too many crumbs and unidentifiable sticky spots surrounding Anna’s spot at the dinner table. Mt. Laundry might be threatening to overtake the laundryroom.

But just as long as we are all fed (I don’t ever really skip this one; no one can accuse me of not having a healthy appetite), clothed, rested, and still talking to each other and kissing good night, life is pretty good.

So….life is pretty good.


28
Jan 12

House of Waffles pool: soon to be open for business!!!!

Today I am feeling extremely happy with our (financially painful–ouch! so expensive!) decision to install solar heating for our pool as we’ve gone from a frigid 55 degrees to 70 degrees in just a couple of weeks. (Assuming our warm weather holds a bit), once we slap a cover on that bad boy we are going to be IN BUSINESS around here! Well, not literally in business. We’ll be floating blissfully in our 85-degree pool, though! Aaaaahhhh…..Makes that check we had to write to the solar guys feel a little less terrible. I am so stoked to have our own pool again. It’s going to be a great spring and summer!


17
Nov 11

The Me of 5 years ago is totally disappointed

There may have been a point at which a former me would have imagined the current me (childless for a few days as Adam and Anna have gone ahead of me to visit family in Portland) as going out and living it up, staying up late and tearing up the town, when left to my own devices. Instead, I am quite contented in my current state, wearing flannel pajamas, tucked in bed at 10 pm, ready to read myself to sleep. Boring but true. This is my own little retreat and I am actually enjoying it quite a bit. I’ve been working out (ran 10 kilometers this morning!), cooking and baking and knitting and hanging with friends (sans my own kid, including theirs), and watching BBC miniseries while drinking wine and raiding Anna’s (forgotten) Halloween candy. Pretty much my dream come true. Except I kinda miss my husband and child. I guess I can’t have my cake and eat it, too, so until then, I’ll hang in there and look forward to the Thanksgiving extravaganza to come. And thank my lucky stars I’m not around to see how staying up until past 10 pm affects my child’s behavior come late afternoon tomorrow.


4
Oct 11

Emerging from my hibernation

Yes, Hi!, I am here, after all. It’s been a while. Missed me much?

Basically, it has gone like this: moving insanity + head cold/sinus congestion = whoa.

And now I am just now beginning to re-emerge into the real world. And I am here to tell you that things are AWeSOME here. Yes, Adam’s work schedule still sucks. Yes, this house has weird tile and carpeting and ugly aluminum windows and MILES AND MILES of white linoleum (which shows EVERYTHING thankyouverymuch) but there are so many closets! And a dishwasher! And we have a swimming pool! And TWO (2) toilets! It’s all so exciting I can hardly stand it. Friday the very last of our storage unit comes to our new house and I am thrilled that we will finally fit all our junk stuff in our very own house. Now if I can only convince Adam that we don’t need quite so much junk stuff in the garage, life would be perfect. As it is, it is very nearly so (see Dishwasher, above, which has seriously revolutionized my life, as has having a laundry room right off of the kitchen). I love this place. We’ll be here a while.


21
Sep 11

Challenge

I have decided that rather than facing this move as a stressful near-impossibility (seriously, I was having terrible insomnia and anxiety), I wanted to restructure it for myself. So I am thinking of it as a…challenge. Yeah, that’s it. Or maybe like a war. And I am going to win this thing. Totally win it. In it to win it.

Adam’s work takes him away from home quite a bit, and these next couple of weeks are no exception. He is only home for three of the next 9 days until we move. Which means that, for a lot of stuff around the home front, it is all me.

I am a packing queen. I am juggling many balls this week and next. I spent one day (Monday) trying to parent Anna in the usual manner, but by Tuesday I had given up and allowed near constant movies all afternoon because otherwise there is no way that I can get through all the paperwork and phone calls and packing that needs to be done.

I was letting myself get too overwrought about this, I can see that now. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t taking care of myself. I’ve been going to yoga this week (a necessary indulgence, I’ve decided) and that has led to better sleep (much better sleep!) and better all around attitude. I am totally going to rock this move.

Next Friday! Whoa.