Wednesday, July 29, 2009

summer around here

The gardenia bushes almost didn't make it through the winter, but they've put forth their white deliciousness anyway, scraggly branches and all. (You gotta admire that.)

And the blueberries were sweet. All four of them. (Hey, you gotta start somewhere, right?)

Eight sweet pepper bushes. One pepper. (It's better than none!)

The tomatoes are sweet and lovely. But not if you ask Caleb. Caleb took one bite out of a cherry tomato--he was so proud of it, having come from HIS garden--and promptly threw up. (At least he tried it!)

The petunias have survived heat, drought, slugs and squirrel attacks. Resilient, those petunias.

The Crepe Myrtle (Is that how you spell it? I'm too lazy to look it up.) is divine--we set up the baby pool under its shade the other day. The boys were delirious. Then Caleb crapped in the pool and everything kinda went downhill, but it was a great four minutes before that.

My garden is still a place of healing, but more in a sweat lodge kind of way. We don't linger outside too much these days. If the heat doesn't getcha, the skeeters will.

The gourd plants have taken over. They're great! Their prolific, happy wide leaves, proud yellow flowers and zany patterned gourds are a delight.

And sunflowers. How can a gal be anything but happy with sunflowers in her yard?

the agony and the ecstacy

Hello, screaming tantrums! How very nice of you to visit. I really needed to have my eardrums rattled 17,000 times a day. I really wanted to feel brain damaged before 9 o'clock every freakin' morning.

The saving grace? Moments like this: I'm cooking dinner this evening and I overhear the boys happily romping around in the living room. There's a moment of silence, I peek in, and they're lying on the floor next to each other and Caleb sighs and says, "It's a beautiful day, Tavish..."

Friday, July 17, 2009

oh this man...

Be still, my heart. This picture undoes me every time I look at it. This is Jay, just shy of one year ago, standing at the altar waiting for me. That is the face of a man who knows the weight of what he is about to promise, of what he has already devoted himself to.

I love that face, those eyes--those brown-green eyes that held so much light as I said my vows, like a river at high noon in summer, all the rocks and fish shuddering in watered sunlight. I could not stop smiling that day--the kind of smile that sprouts in the warm pit of the gut and does not stop growing until it's blooming all over your face. I can still feel his warm hand on my back as we had our first dance. All my dreams were--and still are--coming true.

Happy (almost) Anniversary, my love. I'd marry you again and again.

Monday, June 1, 2009

the first lily and fireflies

The first lily bloomed in our yard today. I've been waiting for days. Every day I would think, "Today's the day..." but that bud just wouldn't burst open. Kind of like waiting to go into labor.

About a week and a half before Tavish was born, every night before bed my husband would say, "Maybe tonight's the night..." The night he was born, I was putting on my nightgown, my husband said his thing, and I said in a huff, "No, tonight is NOT the night. It will NEVER be the night. Apparently, I'm never having this baby." I was one day past my due date. And, as it turns out, IN LABOR; I just didn't know it (Don't ask--that's a post for another day). Oh me of little faith.

So this lily...MAN, I thought it would NEVER bloom. But she did! And isn't she glorious?

So while I admired and photographed our first lily as the sun was going down on a perfectly perfect evening, Caleb dug for worms the garden next to me. It would have been nice if the mosquitos hadn't been flying up my pajama pants and biting me to death the whole time. And I could have done without a shovel-full of dirt flung in my hair. But all in all, what an exquisite evening. Just as we were gearing up to go inside for "night-nights", the fireflies came out. Just a few; the first of the season.

Caleb can't say "firefly" for some reason. He can say "fire" and he can say "fly," but for the love of God he can't put the two together, bless his little fat heart. "Ooooh, hiiii, ladybuuug!" he would say when he caught one. "Firefly," I'd say. "Ooooh, hiiii, butterfly," he'd say. "Firefly," I'd say. "Butterfly," he'd say. Oh well. We sure did have a grand ol' time watching those ladybugs and butterflies light up. And all of them survived. Caleb has the gentlest touch sometimes.

I can't decide which was my favotite: the long-awaited bloom of the lily or the surprise of fireflies. Actually, neither. My favorite was my boy, my firstborn, my long-awaited surprise running about in the twilight with the firelies.

Friday, May 29, 2009

spring around here

My yard is, I've decided, a place of healing. All those blooms and all that green are like a long lost friend fresh off a red eye flight from a frozen continent who shows up unexpectedly on your doorstep one desperate, dark morning bearing brightly-wrapped presents for no particular reason at all, except that it just seemed the thing to do.

I walk around barefoot in the damp and warmed grass these days--all around me: azure and violet and crimson and buttercup yellow hugged by the shiny ribbon of emerald leaves. I am amazed how everything that was held hostage underground all cold, dark winter-long now breaks the soil, easily as breathing and unravels like a finally-loosened braid, like the silky ribbon of a corset.

Every morning a new delight has appeared from the soil. "Look!" my husband whispers some mornings, "I think the gourds and sunflowers grew an inch overnight!" Meanwhile, the birds rediscover the feeder and its bounty of seeds--they chirp and squawk and light upon the fence and bushes and finally on the dangling feeder that swings with their weight. Whatever darkness that happened in winter evaporates now, rising along with the vegetable garden's dew to a new sky.

The tomato and pepper plants are flowering; the blueberry bushes and squash and cucumber, too. Soon enough, they'll hand over their treasures, letting us hold hope in our hands, teaching us what resurrection tastes like.

Sunday, May 17, 2009


So we're sitting on the porch the other day. Caleb is sitting next to this plant. Spontaneously he reaches out and ever so gently cups a grouping of leaves in his hand. I watch on, perplexed, as he wiggles his fingers and turns his hand this way and that in the leaves. Then he whispers, "It's okay...I'll hold your hand."


So we're in the car. I've just strapped the boys in, fastened my seat belt and put the key in the ignition. And from the backseat I hear Caleb say:

On your mark!
Get sick!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A dream while napping one recent day

I am at a daycare/preschool picking up my eldest son. A little African American boy runs out of the door ahead of us as we are leaving. He is headed straight for a busy road and runs out of sight around a corner. I am so afraid for his safety; I am yelling and running furiously after him with my son.

As I turn the corner, I see an African American woman ushering him to safety. I am relieved and breathless. What would I have done without this woman? I take a second look at her and realize she is my favorite teacher of all time: Priscilla Green, my high school English teacher, who died much too early last year of cancer. I say, "Priscilla? Is that you?"

"Yes," she says, "I am here."

I throw my arms around her in a wild embrace and ask her: "Are you okay?"

"Oh, yes..." she says, "Let me show you." And she holds me very closely, which somehow allows me to feel with my whole mind and body what she shows me, which is this: ecstatic daffodils, new and upright, swaying and trembling in bright, Spring morning sun.

Sunday, May 3, 2009


I unearthed "Godspeed" a couple of weeks ago and let it shower over Tavish, Caleb and me in my cheerful and cramped office one afternoon, happy tears springing from my eyes. Years ago, I used to listen to it alone in my car and cry tears of grief and depression and lost love, hoping beyond hope that I could one day be lucky enough, good enough, to have a baby of my own to sing this song to.

I had no idea how little it had to do with luck, and how good--perfectly good--I already was. I had no idea the beautiful plan God had for my life, the beautiful boys who would grow like miracles in my womb, take their first breaths on my wet and grateful breast, and become firmly rooted in and wrapped around my brave and worn heart. I had no idea how close my greatest happiness really was--close as a veil against my face.

I let the song and my tears rain deliciously down and marveled at bright-eyed Tavish perched contentedly on my hip and gorgeously curious Caleb standing on my office chair blowing out a candle. Gratitude spun like a thousand sunlit pinwheels in my chest.

The other day I found out that "Godspeed" was written by a father for his three year-old son whose mother was moving with the boy to France to be with her boyfriend. I know a little something about being the kid in a move like that. And now, as a parent, I glimpse the tower of pain my biological father must have lived in after my mother and I left. And in the faces of my little boys, I see how fragile and heartbreak-able I must have been.

Ten years ago, trying to find my way home in more ways than one, I took a strange and magnificent and important drive across the country and back. On the way out west, as I was crossing the state line into Colorado (my birthplace), "Landslide" came on the radio. The snow on the mountains was pink with sunset and the road ahead was turning purple with the coming dark. Weeping, speeding through the falling dark, I sung "Landslide" the way I always secretly have: to him, that daddy I had had to leave so many years before.

And so this evening when I found "Godspeed" and "Landslide" paired together in this YouTube clip, it seemed so appropriate. In a burst, my childhood drizzled like confetti behind my eyes and I felt the way seamen must when a wild storm brings them finally to shore.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

random thoughts...

Nothing has made me happier--or more disappointed--that I don't drink anymore than having kids.

Next to love, laughter is the greatest gift.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

earthworm love

Did you know earthworms can drown?

Yeah, well, Caleb and I discover this sad little fact the other day as we're combing the yard for earthworms after a night of rain. Caleb is pretty into worms these days, and while I admit I have some growth to do in the creepy-crawly department as a mother of boys, I am--and have always been--a big fan of earthworms. They are so quiet and diligent in their (very important) work. And if, perchance, they get cut in half by, say, a well-intentioned but nevertheless brutal shovel, they don't die; they regenerate. And become two worms. That, my friends, is a dang marvel, if you ask me. And frankly, something to aspire to. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

So we come upon some of these miraculous beings in a puddle, and I'm very excited because SCORE! we don't have to painstakingly search through our too-high spring grass for those beloved, fascinating creatures. "Look, buddy, WORMS!!!" I exclaim, reaching into the cool water to fish out what I will soon discover are their dead, limp bodies. Oh. goodness.

Caleb, with a face full of pure, in-the-moment anticipation, reaches out his pointer finger to touch what he expects will be their wet, wriggling bodies--something that always makes him giggle and squeal with this-is-so-gross-but-I-still-love-it delight--but instead he gets just what you'd imagine: dead, squishy, soaking wet worm carcasses. He pauses, his upper lip turning up ever so slightly.

And I'm thinking, "Seriously? I gotta do death with a two year-old on this glorious, fresh, worm-filled day?"

"I think they...died, buddy..."

Blank stare. Long pause. Little body perfectly still.

"Ah, jeez..." I'm thinking, "He's devastated..."

Then he says, with absolute cheer and exuberance, "Night night, worms!"

Then later, when we discover yet another dead worm in a rain-filled flower pot, he tenderly and enthusiastically instructs it to "Lie down...put head on pillow! Turn off light! Niiiiight niiiiight...!"

Would that everyone could have such a simple, happy eulogy.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

when spring breaks open

I am wild with relief. Too many days of illness and rain and tantrums had made my house felt like a dirty matchbox, and my mind, a rabid monkey. Then the illness loosens its grip, the weather breaks and I'm breathless and giddy, bumbling through the park with two girlfriends and six of our kids, the new March sun like a benediction all around us.

Popcorn, strawberries, grapes, chips, guacamole, raspberry soda, and sandwiches on a blanket. There is plenty.

The toddlers run into all the open spaces. We watch to see just how far they will go, and then gather them when the distance makes our motherhearts lurch. My boy brings me a tiny blue flower, my baby flexes every muscle in brain and body to come up on all fours and fling himself forward. Soon he will can this be? Just a moment ago he was blooming from my body, red and wet and wailing.

Just a moment ago I was this young. I have a picture--it must be late summer, my hair is babyblond, and I am perched on a bed of pineneedles in the Rockies, tiny fingers curled around a wildflower. I am still this baby.

My boy cries when its time to leave. Later, I am putting him to bed and I ask, "Did you have a nice time at the park today?" He nods.

"Worm?" he says. "Yes, we saw a worm, didn't we?"

"Yates? Soo-wee? Baby Yiy-wa? Baby Ginna? Gia? Pachey?" he says. "Yep, that's everybody. What else?"

Pause. And then wistfully, slowly--there is almost a sound of relief and reverence in his breathy voice--he says, "TREES..."

Thursday, March 5, 2009

old fat naked women for peace

Well, my husband will be mortified, but I just had to post this lovely ditty that made me laugh out loud in solidarity today. This is so brilliant, it will be worth the weeks of (lighthearted) ridicule I will most assuredly get from him.

Friday, February 27, 2009

bedtime sweetness...

These days bedtime is extra sweet. Caleb has just gotten into reading a book at bedtime. These days we're reading "The Quiet Evening" by Thatcher Hurd, who is the son of the woman who wrote "Goodnight Moon." It was published in the seventies and is just so lovely in its simple watercolors and poetic text. We snuggle up with the book, his head resting in the crook of my arm. I rub my cheek on the top of his head and smell his little boy hair, soft as corn silk.

Me: At our house, Father and Mother are sitting by the fire.

Him: Patience, baby Lyra, Mommy, cabin, fireplace?

Me: That's right, Buddy. You and Mommy and Patience and baby Lyra went to the cabin and Mommy made a fire in the fireplace.

We have this conversation every night, among other comforting repetitions. Each page has its own corresponding conversation. Sometimes I find myself stretching out story time because I love the feel of him so still and singularly focused in my arms, because I love trying to climb into his mind and see what he sees, because I love listening to his lisp and watching his pudgy fingers point at the pictures. And because I know that soon enough he will be grown and I will long for these days.

After our book, I nurse him down. Some nights I am so tired, so spent, so weary of nursing. But then I think to myself, "Don't rush this. A few months from now he won't be nursing at all." Most nights I sing him a song while we nurse. His favorite is the "Barney" theme song that goes, "I love you, you love me, we're a happy family. With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, won't you say you love me, too?" He laces his fingers with mine and hums along. When I get to the "kiss" part of the song, he puts his hand, still clasped with mine, up to my mouth for a kiss.

Then I kiss his forehead, his plump cheeks, his nose. I tell him I love him, Daddy loves him, Tavish loves him. I ask him if he loves us, and he shakes his head, "No." Though it's too dark to see, I know he is grinning his tricky trickster grin. Then I say, "Yes you DO!" and I tickle him under his chin, and he laughs.

I tell him I'm so happy he was born. I tell him I'm so happy he's in our family.

Then I say, "Night night, Buddy." And he says, "Feet dreams, Mommy."

I lie in the dark with him, listening to his rhythmic breathing, feeling his warm body melt, little by little, into sleep.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

it makes no difference

Love, tonight I'm remembering those days on Grace Street. Those days before the babies came. Those days when we made this song ours...

my hero...

Watch. This. Goal. It had me on my feet, jumping around the living room and yelling. I grabbed my two year-old, sat him on my lap, insisting he watch the replay, all the while bouncing him wildly on my knee and cheering.

My husband? At. The. Game. The bastard. I was so happy for him, though. Can you imagine the noise and celebration in the stands, a sold out crowd rising in one, fluid flash, cheering? Unforgettable.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

everything is everything

I've been listening to this oldie but goodie a lot lately. It started with a little trouble in paradise, which required some Lauryn Hill therapy. Then came the inauguration, which breathed even more new life and meaning into the song. And before I knew it, I was playing it every time I got in the car. For a spell it became my soundtrack, my anthem. A way to get through a hard time. A way to welcome hope. A way to feel like a ghetto superstar. For four minutes. In the SUV with the kids on the way to the grocery store.

I am so white. Sigh...

Barbie Boobie Love

So the other day we're at a friend's house. They have a daughter Caleb's age. The kids are playing nicely, quietly. Then a little too quietly. I look to see what Caleb is doing. He's in a corner on his stomach with a toy, and I can tell by the way he is slightly hunching his shoulders that he's trying to keep what he is doing private. I spy on him. With pursed fingers, he is gently, deliberately pulling Barbie's shirt down to expose her "girls." He takes a moment to admire them with a cocked head. And then he tries to nurse.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Woman of Light

Woman of Light
for Lucille Clifton

Lucille, whose name means light
and whose dark eyes are light as well,
Lucille, I am the woman in the second row,

white, with skinny hips and a colorless blouse,
more contrained by my pale narrowness
than ever you in your dark strong breadth,

loving the turquoise, the bright,
the long and the curve of it, your words
in my hands, your voice in my ears;

Tell me again, Lucille, about the poems
you lost and the babies you saved.
Tell me you couldn't replace

the children, tell me you could
replace the poems; please tell me that lie
one more time because I, too, have

poems and children and some days they play side
by side, tossing sound back and forth
while I listen; some days they fight

to the death. You say your children
won, but we both know, and so you must say it,
that lost poems are poems lost forever; like

lightning, words don't strike the same place
again. Tell me that truth, strong woman of light;
please, tell me that hard truth.

~ Laura Apol

Monday, February 9, 2009

chicken-scratched half-poems

I have beloved scraps—grocery store receipts, post-it notes, junk mail, irrelevant business cards—that are home to chicken-scratched half-poems written with dying pens at stoplights, in checkout lines, in the kitchen while stirring barley into the soup. Later, I find them sandwiched between diapers and sticky, half-eaten granola bars in the bottom of my purse; I find them in pockets; I find them tucked into cookbooks like pressed flowers. I read them and, like stumbling upon a faded photograph of a long-ago lover, my breath catches; I can almost touch it, that lost beauty. But more immediate miracles need tending: the baby cries to be nursed, the toddler needs his boo boo kissed, dinner must come out of the oven. Then later, after the children have gone to bed, I'm putting leftovers in the fridge, muttering to myself, wondering if it is even possible to resurrect bygone almost-poems, and the season’s first strawberries, red and decadent, call out from the shelf, begging to be rinsed, admired, tasted.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

the real work

sometimes loving
means gently urging the
coiled snake between us to
move aside.
even so,
her rattle warns she is watching,
ready to strike.
we must dance
as if under water,
as if to a sleeping baby.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

the healing time

The Healing Time

Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all the places
where I said no
to my life
all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphics of pain
carved into my skin, my bones,
those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them
the old wounds
the old misdirections
and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say holy

~Pesha Gertler

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Tigger Couch

This was Caleb at 9 pm this evening, 30 minutes past his bedtime. This is what happens when you coop up a two year-old in the house for five days straight. He wants to take the pillows off the furniture and bounce like "Tiggy" until he's coughing and gagging.

Man, I love that kid.

Why, you might ask, have I held my child hostage indoors for such a length of time? Because I am conducting an experiment to see how long it will take me to become bald. From tearing out my hair.

It's this damn cold. The green-snot-wet-cough cold we've all got. Oh, and this damn cold. Holy witch's tittie, Batman. Every time I've tried to take Caleb out in the backyard to blow off steam--Caleb, my child who could be a superhero named Impervious--we're out there for about ninety seconds, then he looks at me like, "Seriously? Seriously?" and goes back in the house. And then I'm like, "Thank Gah..."

Who needs the Great Outdoors when you've got a perfectly good couch for bouncin'?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

What do I know?

So I bought these flashcards just before Tavish was born at the dollar store. Tavish wasn't born at the dollar store. I don't feel like doing the mental acrobatics to fix that sentence (And yes, it would be mental acrobatics. Please don't make fun of me; I've had about 14 hours of sleep in the last 2 years.).

But then I decided not to give Caleb the cards yet, since he didn't seem remotely interested in the alphabet, except to listen (or not) whenever I would sing it, which isn't often. Fast forward three months. We're sitting in the living room this morning, Sesame Street is on t.v., but I've turned the volume off because, although it wasn't even 9 a.m., I was already on sensory overload. But that's a whole different post.

So the show has an animated segment on the alphabet--each letter comes onto the screen solo, accompanied by objects that start with that letter. You know the drill. Well, I'm on the phone with my friend who just had a baby and out. of. nowhere. Caleb starts saying each letter as it comes onto the screen. So immune I was to my toddler's incessant babbling, I tuned him out until he was right in my face, saying, "T! U! V! W!..." as each letter appeared on the t.v. And then it hit me. The child knows the. whole. freakin. alphabet. I about dropped the phone.

Um...ok. I feel like, well...a dumbass. Where have I been?! How did this happen? If I hadn't been so proud, I might have said, "WHERE DID YOU LEARN THAT?" the way *some* moms do when their kid drops an F-bomb.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

lighting the birth candle

"Will it hurt ?" she asks me over the phone today, 4 centimeters dilated.

She will probably have her baby girl tonight--her fourth baby, but in so many ways, her first. The first time with a midwife, the first time going into labor on her own, the first time wholeheartedly embracing natural childbith, the first baby after a C-section.

"Um...yes," I tell her, "It will hurt."

"But you can totally handle it," I say, "and you will."

"I hope so..." she says.

I know there is nothing I or anyone can tell her that will prepare her for what is to come. The plunge into the deep of labor is, in so many ways, a solitary one. No one can convey exactly what it will be like. No one can labor for you. No one can push your baby out. It is an age old truth that is terrifying. Yet, it is a truth that can set a woman free.

I want this freedom for her. Two years ago I watched her walk headlong into the snare of modern American obstetrics, and have her heart completely shattered over an unnecessary C-section. I watched her slowly, slowly put together the pieces. I watched her bloom again with child, and for perhaps the first time, truly take ownership of and responsibility for her birth. And now she is on the cusp of taking firm hold of her birthright--every mother's birthright--to give birth on her own terms. I watch on in amazement.

After I get off the phone with her, I light a candle, just as I promised her. I call women in our tribe, ask them to light their candles. We are holding a joyful vigil tonight for safe passage, for freedom . We are women who have gone to the depths of labor pain and come to the surface triumphant, knowing a singular, revolutionary truth: "If I can do this, I can do anything." We hold out hope that tonight our friend will come to know this truth, too.

Just as I light the candle, my two year old comes in the room.

"Birthday?" he asks.

"Yes, Buddy, it is a birthday candle. Shall we sing Happy Birthday to Ms. J's baby?"

"Yes," he says with his signature toddler lisp.

And we sing Happy Birthday and blow out the candle. We're having so much fun, we do it seven more times.

Monday, January 12, 2009


Caleb talking to a piece of broccoli he had placed on top of his sippy cup, just moments before he flicked it onto the floor:

"Keefow, baki. Fa daow...owie!"

(Translation: "Be careful, broccoli. If you fall down, it will be owie!")

jiggy christmas

Well, Caleb hasn't quite gotten with the capatalist surge toward Valentine's Day. I think the child is living in a perpetual state of Christmas-ness (Well, a lot of our neighbors DO still have their lights up...)

I had no idea he knew any Christmas carols. The other day we were walking through Carytown and he spontaneously started singing, "Jiggy Balls, Jiggy Balls, jiggy all the way..."

Yeah! Now THAT'S the kinda Christmas I'm talkin' about!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

grocery store therapy

Today I took the boys to Whole Foods. I don’t shop there much. It’s all the way across town and expensive. But today I needed a little grocery store therapy. My heart felt very tired and I guess I needed a pick-me-up.

There is a silence in me these days—the kind of silence that comes when there’s an area of my life in serious un-balance, but it’s not quite time to right it. It’s time to let things settle, time to carefully, slowly choose the next step. Time to rest in the in-between. Which can be such an uncomfortable place. Which is why I needed a chocolate croissant. And about eighty-eight dollars worth of other comforting food items.

The boys were a dream in the store. The baby slept in the sling and Caleb sat in the cart and protested only once, when it was taking me an excruciatingly long time to select salad dressing. I settled on a Thai ginger lime vinaigrette. It sounded so good I almost wanted to drink it.

I made my way leisurely. Two Satsuma tangerines. Two Honeycrisp apples. Six Shitake mushrooms. A not-yet-in-bloom purple hyacinth. I was trying to forget the sadness in my chest.
“Owie?Owie?Owie?Owie?Owie?Owie?” Caleb asked, as we passed a couple dozen cacti for sale. “Yes, Buddy. Owie…” I said quietly, repeatedly, distractedly.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Tavish, just days old

My dark-haired prince,
you have
the cutest dimpled chin.
And the ripe berry of your mouth
hangs so delicately, deliciously
open when you sleep.
Your eyes flutter as if winged,
the poem of your tiny hand unfurls and
I am taken, never so taken.

These are the good ol' days

We took down the Christmas tree yesterday, and while I was happy to take it to its final resting place next to the trashcans in the alley, I was a little misty-eyed when my husband put these ornaments away. These ornaments are the kinds of things that just warm my sorta corny, sorta sweet Chicken Soup for the Soul heart. I hope I have them forever. I hope when I am an old lady I get to sit in the dark soaking in the sight of the lighted tree, my babies' handprints and footprints all through the branches.

I loved making these ornaments with my friend, Gina, without whom I probably wouldn't have them. It's always nice when you suggest to a friend that you get your kids together to make a craft and then that friend basically ends up doing all the work (the next one's on me, Gina, I promise!).

Activities like making no-brainer ornaments make me remember that it is indeed true when people say having a second kid makes everything exponentially more complicated. You wouldn't think mixing some flour, salt, water and food coloring together, then smushing it into a pancake into which you press a kid's hand or a baby's foot would be that big of a deal. Or an all day affair. Until you take into consideration that I had an easier time with Calculus than I do figuring out how to get a few minutes to myself in the bathroom some days.

Yet, somehow, when you get a gaggle of kids together in a room with a couple of moms, amazing things can transpire. Like actually taking a task from beginning to end on the same day. And capturing the tiny foot of a baby and a hand of a boy who, though they seem they'll be little forever and I'll never get a damn thing done as long as I live, will be grown and out of the house all too soon, leaving me with plenty of time on my hands to recall--and miss--the good ol' days.