Friday, November 11, 2011

On Veteran's Day

I saw only the back of his head as he darted out of the room.  I took a mental tally of what had been happening.  I studied the faces of those he had been working with only to see smiles and the hum of productive conversation.  It was odd.  Something in the basement air twisted.

As quickly as he darted out, he was back.  I saw the pink marks around his wide eyes.  Hands in his pocket.  He seemed smaller even as he towered above me.  "Can I talk to you...outside?"

I followed him as he jagged out the door.  "I have PTSD and I am triggered."  His brown eyes were even wider.  "I am not sure why."  His skin was marbeling pink.  I could sense his heart racing.  I resisted the urge to hug him, to push back the fear.  I listened instead.

On this Veteran's Day, I know the drill.  I am to feel grateful.  Thankful.  And I am.  Yet, this sits with anger.  Young men and women are expected to sacrifice what they do not even know they are giving.  And a lifetime is spent recovering, reflecting and attempting to move forward.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Blueberry Girl

"Ladies of light and ladies of dark and ladies of never you mind--This is a prayer for a blueberry girl."

Nor and I have taken to reading and rereading and reading one more time for good measure Neil Gaimen's Blueberry Girl.  It starts with a beautiful picture of a reclining redheaded woman, almost 9 months of babe in her belly.  Nora points and says "Mama."  I neglect to tell her that I looked more like the planet Mars with a small pimple of a head on top.  And then she points to the belly and grins.  "Nora." 

"Keep her from spindles and sleeps at sixteen, let her stay waking and wise.  Nightmares at three or bad husbands at thirty, these will not trouble her eyes."

I venture into asking her what she remembers about growing in my belly. 
 "Warm," she says plainly. 

What was it like when you were born? 
"I was really sad.  I cried a lot.  And then I had milk, strawberry milk."

"Words can be worrisome, people complex, motives and manners unclear....this is a prayer for a blueberry girl."

When I ask her if she is a blueberry girl, she tilts her head and grins with astonishment.  "No!  I have no costume."  A strawberry girl?  She just shakes her head.  Silly mama.


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dinner Time

This is the drill. I suddenly become aware of the time.  Usually 30-40 minutes past the time I had intended to be on my way home from the gym.  I shut off my computer screen, rush a student out of my office, and toss a few books that I intend to review at home.  (And dutifully will return to my office the following morning still tucked in my bag.)  I keep my head down as I speed walk to my car, so as to avoid eye contact with anyone that could derail my singular quest to make a delicious meal.

As I dart through side streets to get to my abode, I concoct recipes.  I think through what we have in the house, briefly reflect on the food pyramid or food circle or food plate.  I burst through the front door with visions of vegetable-based protein sources and delicious sauces.  I settle on roasted pumpkin risotto with slivered almonds.  I get to work.

Dave calls breathlessly from his race to pick up the kids with short updates on their days.  If the lights at 32nd and Hiawatha cooperate, I have about 12 minutes to finish the meal before the kids shoot through the door and start poking in the kitchen.  A bit of movie magic somehow happens and dinner is on the table, the kids hands are mostly washed, and we are about to eat.

Upon seeing the meal, Spencer just asks if he can have broccoli instead.  Nora demands pasta.  I want to bang my head on the table, but am wary that my red wine may spill.  When I get gruff and muffle something like, "I worked really hard on this meal and this is what is for dinner," Spence asks to be excused.  Nora starts wailing.

Just another dinner at the Snyders. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Perhaps I should be a bit embarrassed in admitting this. 

I love pumpkins.  Passionate about pumpkins.  I want to hoard them.  Pile them up on my front porch.  Stash them on every stair on my case.  I want to name them, cuddle them, comfort them from the inevitable knife that is waiting to slice into them.

When I was small, I would bathe them.  More than once, in the sink like a wee baby.  I would steal a laundry basket and turn it into a pumpkin crib.  Name them.  And weep when my mother mentioned carving into her.  It was haunting to see the gourd start to decompose, despite my best efforts to hold back time. 

And I would pine for the next October to do it all again.

I am a bit more grown up about it all now.  I slyly wash the pumpkin, just once, and never with bubble bath.  I am all business-like about the carving.  And there are no pumpkin cribs.

So you can imagine my heart flutters when Nor decided to cuddle her baby pumpkin.  Bring it into the bath and scrub it with her butterfly wash cloth.  Sleep with it right next to her on her nightstand.  Demand to take it to school and introduce her friends to her sweet little pumpkin. 

And a new generation of pumpkin-lovers begins.

Thursday, September 29, 2011


I am getting better at navigating Jewish holidays.  I didn't have even one meltdown today as I got dressed for services.  Not one tear was shed when I maneuvered through my closet of Target clearance buys and countless pairs of cords to unearth something suitable.  Even though the usher refused to say hello, shrugged at my prayer book request, and sent me to the cheap seats, I think I totally belonged.  Except for the Hebrew thing.  And well really knowing what was happening throughout the 3 hour service.  And still being stunned it was a 3 hour service.

Dave was asked to give the sermon today to kick off 5772. It was nothing short of amazing.  I sobbed through most of it, in awe at the way he knit words, images, and actions together.  It was a masterpiece.  

Seven minutes in, I had to sneak a photo.  I know, not Kosher.

I was (mostly) discrete.  I just needed some documentation of the moment.  And really, this photo pales in the face of Dave's words.

Soul Justice and The Faith of Isaac

I sat cross-legged, self-conscious and stiff, but enough at peace to slow my racing thoughts and enjoy my first meditation class as a young adult in Baltimore. The rain clattered against the roof and the wooden floors creaked against my settling and resettling hips and ankles. As I held my hereditary anxiety at bay for the duration of the class, I noticed that both my inner and outer worlds had grown quiet. I walked out of class and discovered the rain had frozen into the season’s first snow. The muddy light of streetlights, automobile headlamps, and neon storefront signs reflected off the snow and was lifted to fresh heights, and the sounds of the city were absorbed into the snow’s silent crystalline surfaces. A minor rebirth of self, within a minor rebirth of a city; this is my first offering to you, my Shir Tikvah family, on Rosh Hashanah.

I wish I could say I stuck with it, and developed my own meditative practice; but I didn’t. Then I joined the morning Minyan here at Shir Tikvah, and loved it deeply; but I let my busy-ness grow like weeds into that Thursday morning space where I’d prayed with a small, dear group of chaverim.

If I think about my most meaningful experiences in prayer, in meditation, or in spiritual practice, the common denominator is a sense of welcoming; a bone-deep feeling of being welcomed and celebrated and accepted and enfolded…; and a rising song of an answer in myself that celebrates the world and rededicates myself to its people. I notice my breathing; I notice the wind stirring tree branches. This happens a few times each year, if I’m lucky. Such a feeling may visit some of us in shul today, but for many of us, still shaking off the distractions and anxieties of our secular lives, it may not.

I’m afraid that many of us, myself included, spend a lot of time in the clutches of what some in the Buddhist tradition call the trance of unworthiness, which means we are telling ourselves, mostly below conscious awareness, that you don’t belong here, that you’re a fake, you don’t really know what you’re doing, you’ve earned only the misfortunes that have befallen you, while anything good in your life is the result of some cosmic or bureaucratic misunderstanding, and you better keep faking it so that “they” don’t figure you out and exile you from your home, your community, your school, your workplace, your shul. The writer Anne LaMott called it her very own subliminal radio station playing in her head.

I wonder if Isaac, the son of Abraham, felt any of the tension between these feelings of unworthiness and feelings of welcome, as he lay bound upon his father’s altar. We hear a lot about the test of Abraham’s faith, but what about the faith of Isaac? Was Isaac’s faith shaken as the bonds cut against his skin and his father readied his sacrificial blade? Was he calm as he readied himself to die? Or did he blame himself for the suffering he was about to endure, to make sense of the inexplicable fate that hurtled towards him? This figure of Isaac becomes achingly familiar across the millennia. Especially as children, but even as adults, we accept our suffering, and we twist our lives like vines slowly around the question, what must I have done to deserve this fate? She’ll find her away out of that bottle, she didn’t mean it when she hit me; he’s just a tough love boss, and how could I have made such a clumsy mistake anyway? Like vines slowly covering the contours of an altar, we endure domestic violence, poverty-wage jobs, school bullying, predatory lending and foreclosure, we twist our living, our thinking, our being into harmony with violence, and project the figure of Abraham onto our oppressor. 

(Kristy here.  It was at this point that all of the tension that I sometimes have about raising our kids Jewish evaporated.  I mean, who wouldn't want their kids to be like this man that I get to be married to forever?)

None of us needs to perish upon these altars. This is the prophetic wisdom of Judaism that I believe in—that we are welcome in the radical abundance of God’s universe, and we are commanded to knit justice and radical openness to the stranger, the widow, the orphan, into the societies we create, and even, as Jeremiah reminds us, into the strange cities into which we are cast by chance or flight. And if we find we have to blind ourselves to this commandment in order to get through a single day in this society, may the Shofar blast illuminate a different path, even for a moment, like a lightning bolt in the depths of night.

At the intersection of prayer and power, of spirituality and the struggle for justice, I offer the question: who among us remembers we are welcome, and who twists upon the altar? Who has bound herself in the unforgiving coils of a self turned against itself, in exile from itself, and who is bound by injustice, prone on the altar of poverty and powerlessness? Who chokes on the false faith of Isaac? And when will we free ourselves from the altars of sacrifice that bind us; when will we unmask the false Abrahams that menace us, to refashion the world so all of us can revel in the same message of radical welcoming and celebration, that says, to all of us:

You can dwell here.
You can thrive here.
You can love and be loved here.
You can be different, or think different, or believe different, or love different, or look different, and you will still be recognized and welcomed here.
You can labor here, and you will reap an abundant reward, and so will your children.
Your children will be nurtured here, will be called to contribute their best, and will know that they belong here.
You can thrive here.
You are welcome here.

This is the message that I would place like a signpost to all travelers at the intersection of the path of prayer or spiritual practice, and the path of justice, of tzedek.

Now come with me, 1100 miles to the east, and around a decade into the past, into the blazing Baltimore heat that baked the blacktop soft against the slapping soles of my dress shoes, hurtling through rush hour traffic towards the inner harbor, towards the Convention Center, towards Phyllis, a veteran banquet server and shop steward, who was standing down her general manager, forbidden Union buttons clenched in her fist. I had been driving south on St Paul avenue a moment earlier with two fellow organizers, Leon and Alyson, before Phyllis called me from her cell phone, whispered a few frantic hushed words, they’re going to take me away right now, I started giving out the buttons and they caught me right away, get down here now! We were stuck in rush hour traffic, inching along towards the great convention center where convention guests were preparing for some tasty appetizers and where the GM was preparing to escort Phyllis off the premises… so I jumped out of the car, leaving Leon and Alyson with the keys, and our picket-signs stuffed in my trunk, and I ran down the street to give Phyllis some back-up.

Now Phyllis lived with her family in a pretty tough, run-down apartment complex in West Baltimore, but she looked sharp in her tuxedo attire, and in my opinion, the crowning touch was the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees, HERE Local 7 button, a classy grey with navy letters, on her lapel. Convention Center management differed in their opinion, and threatened to fire any of the 120 or so workers who dared to wear a union button as our contract negotiations heated up that summer. So we planned to all ‘button up’ just before a big convention meal was to be served, and in case they tried to punish any of the workers wearing buttons, we prepared the whole group of workers to walk off work for an “unfair labor practices strike”—which meant they would have some extra legal protections from company retaliation.

So… I dashed past the security guards who, I would later learn had a mug shot of me and orders to kick me out if they saw me without a management escort, and I raced upstairs to join the confrontation between the HR director, the general manager, Phyllis, and a gathering throng of workers and befuddled convention goers. Ultimately, a little bit of justice was served that day. Phyllis and I stood our ground and so did the other workers, and they got to wear their union buttons without retaliation. They ended up getting a great contract with health insurance coverage and wage increases. That, and I’ll leave you with the image of Kenny, an older gentleman who worked in the back of the house, unfailingly courteous but too cautious to get caught up in union trouble, even to wear a button; Kenny, who came hesitantly out with the other workers to support Phyllis that day, silently; Kenny, who finally approached me on that day of raised voices and confrontation, and silently invited me to put a local 7 button into his open, deeply calloused hand. Something both concrete and inchoate, something objective, quantifiable, and something that cannot be safely entrusted to language, all of it clumsily filed under the word Justice, happened that day, and that summer, in the stifling heat of Baltimore.

Sometimes the angel of G-d tells Abraham, “do not lift your hand against your son, free him and be welcome on this earth”, and sometimes maybe G-d speaks to a woman named Phyllis, and tells her to overcome the false faith of Isaac in her oppressor, so she can rise up and call on her co-workers to wear a union button, risking their jobs to hold the line for economic justice, to free their families and the generation of their children and grandchildren from the altar of poverty and powerlessness, from a society that tells them that they don’t belong here, they have no right to dwell here, no right to thrive, to accumulate knowledge, a home, or other wealth to pass along to their children…

I challenge each of you, I call upon you, I implore you to hear within the raucous sounds of struggles like this one, and many others that go unreported today, the profound labor of rebuilding an economy—it cannot be built without you, and you cannot join in building it until you yourself are released from your own altar, until you dispel the sham Abraham that menaces you in a thousand forms. When it seems too hard, think of your children, and your children’s children, emerging from an economy of cruelty into a new world, like a world freshly adorned by the season’s first snow, a new economy that resonates not with a message of judgment, but instead with a message of welcome:

You can dwell here.
You can thrive here.
You can love and be loved here.
You can be different, or think different, or believe different, or love different, or look different, and you will still be recognized and welcomed here.
You can labor here, and you will reap an abundant reward, and so will your children.
Your children will be nurtured here, will be called to contribute their best, and will know they belong here.
You can thrive here.
You are welcome here.

(Me again.  I did resist the urge to stand up and cheer.  Or to raise a sign like Norma Rae...something like, "That's My Husband!" or "Revolution Now."  But, it did dawn on me that Dave might need to become a rabbi.  And that I might really be okay with that.)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Perilousness of MPR in the Morning

I woke up this morning to this.  I had not yet even had a sip of coffee.  Incredibly bad timing.

I have now had about 8 large gulps of cold press and I am recovered.  Mostly.

I had never thought about the other relatives of my donor.  His parents, his siblings.  My donor grandparents, my donor aunts and uncles.  It was a subtle ache.

And then I started to read the comment sections.  Something I should recommit to never doing.  I don't understand folks that try to narrow identity down to one thing.  I am not sure why in questioning the use of anonymous sperm and yearning to know more someone might comment that your life could be taken away if you are not grateful.

I suppose, if I am being honest, that if a letter arrived at my door with the information about my donor I would not hesitate to open it.  I do want to know.  I want to know what he looked like, if his eyes are green or hazel or brown, if his amygdala is as active as my own.  It is a question of identity.  Because time is precious and scarce, I cannot devote my time to this effort.

But, I am still curious.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


If my grief from my mother's death bore a child, she would be 24.  She could be in her third year teaching.  It is all quite overwhelming.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Suppressing Super Heroes.

Introducing Spence to super heroes was fairly intentional.  After too many nights were interrupted with terrifying nightmares, I decided that it would a little super hero support might be needed.  Yes, a bad guy might be lurking around the corner of your bed, but Iron Man is on the job with a new machine to thwart him.

Soon his room was littered with Batmans, Iron Mans, Spider Mans, Wolverines, Green Lanterns, Captain Americas....and of course, Flash.  The list is endless.  Plastic action figures are fairly easy to find at the neighborhood garage sale.  It seemed to help with the nightmares.  Slightly.  Well, that and the sweet smelling air freshener that we said monsters were allergic to.  Another lie.

I wish I could say that I had thought ahead.  Perhaps it was my white privilege that let me turn a blind eye.  (Perhaps?  Even now I cannot escape the protective language.  It was.)  But, suddenly I looked up and saw my son surrounded by white action figures with a token white Wonder Woman thrown in for good measure.  White Supremacist Capitalist Patriarchy.  And then I stumbled upon this article by a dear friend who was an originating force for the White Noise group that I am apart of.

Commitment to anti-racist work does not prevent embarrassing backsliding.

Tucked in to another long road trip, I decided to broach the subject.  "Spence, do you ever think about who is not made into a super hero?"  The question was clumsy.  His response led to a discussion on how he desperately wished to be a super hero.

I tried again.  "I think it is strange that you only have super heroes that have white skin."  This led to an extended response on how *actually* the Incredible Hulk has green skin.  Silly me.

And again:  "Where are all the super heroes with brown skin or black skin?  I just don't think it makes sense that there would only be super heroes with white skin."  Spence was thoughtful.  Then pointed out Hawkman, who indeed does have brown skin.  He has learned well from popular media.  However, tokenism does not lead to societal transformation.  I kept pushing.

Once more, with feeling:  "That's true.  I still wonder why there are so many people in the world with black and brown skin, but you can only name one super hero with brown skin.  I am curious about that.  It doesn't seem right or fair."  Another thoughtful pause.

"Maybe it's because their white skin gives them their powers.  Like their costumes."

This is where I wanted to jump in and police his emerging racial understandings.  After all, these thoughts become a representation of me.  Suddenly, there was so much more at stake.  Part of me wished that I would never have followed him down the rabbit hole.  Perhaps if I wouldn't have pushed we could have never arrived here.  I could have lived comfortably under the veil of colorblindness.   Was it my pushing that brought him to this thought or would it always existed but hidden from view?

I suppressed my overbearing policing voice and just said, "Can you say more about that?"  I let him try this thinking out before Nora interrupted him with her shrieking for inclusion.  I asked him if we could continue the discussion later on because I wasn't convinced that the powers were because of the white skin.  I asked him to keep thinking about it.  He readily agreed.

I wish this were the movies and I could report a Hollywood ending.  But, we are talking about it.  And I have been researching and finding new narratives that have been hidden from my view.  Stepping up my game and not letting the Target shelves dictate his exposure to super heroes.  Like the new Spiderman.  And as he wields his Lasso of Truth, I keep posing the questions and sharing my own critical analysis.

Is there any other way?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Somewhere in Middle America.

We must have listened to this song for about 1/5 of the time we were in the car.  Yup, about 3 hours.  Kickin' it middle school style...

Friday, July 8, 2011

Big Eyes

The problem with these big eyed ponies?  Not only are they creepy, but they will get glaucoma.  And I would be hate to be the person that has to tend to all of these big-eyed, glaucoma-infected ponies.  Especially the one with wings.

I know this because I went to the eye doctor today.  And I have larger than normal corneas.  Yes, the average cornea is 11 (insert appropriate eye measurement here).  Mine is 13.  One needs no crystal ball to see glaucoma in my future.  Unless there is too much fluid there....

But, that is not all.  I noticed that the doctor was rolling out all sorts of tests I had never 'seen' before.  And after each one, Dr. Mike would rub his hands together.  With a mix of worry and glee.  The kind of glee you see in a professional who gets an unusual case.  It was more than a bit disconcerting.  In all fairness, I had mentioned that I have been having some visual perception issues.  You see, sometimes when I am walking on flat surfaces and the color shifts quickly, I stumble.  I have to stop to catch my balance.  I look ridiculous and I generally cover it up with a joke.  Apparently, this is not good.

In the end, I failed all of those newfangled tests.  I have no depth perception.  My brain has been shutting down any ability to merge the two images headed its way and instead picks an image.  This accounts for that nasty bike accident that broke my front tooth and the pesky walking on flat surfaces problem.  His eyes were wide (although appropriately sized), when he told me that my case was "most unusual" and may require "training" my brain. 


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Love, Laws & Marriage

When the word came in last night about the vote, I ran into the bathroom to tell Dave.  Breathless, I whispered excitedly, "It passed!"  Spence was still up.  He has perfected a stalling strategy that involves brushing teeth, snack, brushing teeth, creative potty use (this is for another post), books, monster spray and as of late, conversations about God.

Spence was intrigued.   "What passed, Mama?"  I had intentionally whispered, as I know that any chance to stall was immediately pounced on.  I wanted to brush it off, but who am to deny Spence his "where were you when..." moment?

I launched into an explanation that said that the laws in most states prevent some people who love each other from getting married.  "That's silly, Mama," he said plainly.  And that in the state of New York, the legislators voted to make sure that any two people who love each other can get married.  "That's good, Mama."

I went on to explain that Minnesota is one of those states that do not let two people who love each other marry.  And that there is a law that wants to further legalize what is already illegal. 

"Why, Mama?"

I was at a loss to explain why we are being forced to vote on something that is already illegal.  And why we don't get a chance to vote on ending discrimination instead. 

"We have a lot of work to do to change that law, Spence."

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day

 Walking to the new Turtle Bread...

 The Kissing Papa Game.
The other Iron Man...
 The crumbs of a wonderful breakfast.
 A quick call to Bubbeh with a "phone."
Creating lairs for Iron Man and Captain America.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

It's The End of the World As We Know It...

And I feel fine.

Dave tells me not to feel so smug.  Rapture is coming at 6 p.m.  But, it's 6 p.m. somewhere....right?  And if the rapture did already come, at least my family is together to face whatever may come.  We have been eating pancakes and cuddling and watching Word World, so I suppose it could be really awful outside the gaze of our windows.  And if it is the end of times, Dave assured me he could negotiate.

Or we could go outside and find a few 'wish flowers' and make some wishes to enter heaven.  Currently, Nor has been using her 'wish flowers' to wish for 'peace, food, happiness for the children all over the world."  Spence has been using his for, well take a peek below:

Monday, May 16, 2011

Files from the Courtship

When I was in third grade (or was it fourth?), I desperately wanted a Swatch watch.  It was deep in the Swatch watch craze and there was nothing more that I wanted but one (maybe two or three) Swatches.  Particularly, I wanted one with the flags of the world on it.  I think we had been talking more about different countries of the world in social studies.  (Does that date me?  I used to have social studies classes in my K-12 schooling.) My young mind was convinced that this worldly watch was the ticket to my place with the cool kids. 

When I broached it with my mom, she told me subtly that she did not think I could tell time without numbers.  I begged.  I pleaded.  I told her I would learn.  She insisted on the numbers.  I carefully composed my letter to Santa with clear directives. 

On Christmas Eve, my Aunt Cathi and Uncle Johny gave me a Swatch watch with large numbers on it.  I hated that damn watch.

I told that story to Dave during our courtship.  He chased down the watch and presented me with this poem.  Isn't he grand?

Ode to a Swatch
by Dave Snyder

I'm wound up tight,
If you pay too much attention to me,
You will be too.

I catch what files with my hands,
but always toss it back.

I'm in a band,
but make no noise.

My ancestors are stone,
Worshiped the sun,
But worked with shadow.

It was only after I opened the box that I realized the flags were not of the world.  Rather, they were of the boating world.  Yachting flags.  And for the record, I can tell time on it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


I suppose you never outgrow being a daughter.

I keep expecting this to get easier. It doesn't. Or perhaps I could grow a little more self aware. I don't. About 36 hours before Mothers Day, a flip switches and the weepy bitch arrives. And I can mostly tamp her down, but there are moments when she seizes control and warps every interaction.

Mostly with Dave.

He's beaming with news of "the best Mothers Day present" and I am pissed before I even open the box. Furious, as NOTHING can replace my mother. I understand this is not what he is aiming to do. I feel like I am not being listened to, ignored, forgotten. And I don't even want to open the box.

He cannot win. And I cuddle into Spence who has proclaimed, "I hate Mother's Day." Good boy.

There are always moments of goodness...because life is bittersweet or really, sweetbitter.  Eating my favorite breakfast ever with those I love.  Chasing after a beaming Nora with her babies and a superhero whose main methods of saving people are webs and water.  Holding hands with Dave.  Breathing.

It's just still hard to stay in the moment of mother, which still feels deliciously surreal, instead of daughter on a day such as this.

Life is Sweet?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Peep Show

It was a lack luster dinner.  Veggie fried rice from TJ with tidbits of tofu.  Mixed vegetables for Spence, cheese for Nora.

The rice was rejected.

In the end, Nora only ate shredded cheese and five bites of raw tofu.  Spence was the champ--"I only want to eat mixed vegetables."  And he did.  Approximately 8 ounces of 'em.  He then tore into the raw tofu.

I admit.  Part of me was so disgusted by what they ate (Seriously?  Is that even a meal?) and felt guilty that they were eating components of foodstuffs rather than a proper recipe.  Boring food eaters.  The least I could do for the one kid that ate enough to approximate a complete meal was to offer a piece of Easter candy.

A Peep.  A pink Peep bunny.

I set Nor up in the other room counting her four pennies and called Spence back to the table.  "Look on your plate!"  I was anticipating cries of joy.

He looked down at the lifeless peep.  He kind of poked out it.  "What is it?"

"A Peep.  Well, a marshmallow.  Covered in pink sugar?"  I actually am not sure what a Peep is exactly.

"Candy?  Candy?  I only eat healthy food."  He left the Peep on the plate and ran off.

A few seconds later, he darted back into the kitchen.  "I have an idea of what I can do with that unhealthy food, Mom."  He picked up the Peep and unceremoniously plucked it in the trash can.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I have become quite obsessed.  In a quiet way.  I stare and stare at my children and wonder if they look like my donor dad.  And wonder if there are traits that did not show up in me (or my sister?) that might be showing up in them.  The question of nature vs. nurture shifts when you don't know half of of your genetic makeup.

I have been seeking memoirs of people that are in my situation.  I have only been able uncover the perspective of late teen, early twenties girlfolk that have been living with their knowledge of their 'donor dad' and 'social dad' for some time.  It's different when you have kids.  It's different when you are older and the process was much more hidden.  I suppose that many people who are like me might not realize that we are so alike.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Things I Did on Spring Break

* Painted the kids' room--one coat of Serene Sky (yuck!) and one coat of Island Blue (perfect!)
* Procured, painted, and was part of a large team to assemble the Kura bed.  (All lies that it takes about 3 the time Eric and Katie arrived, we were on hour 18.)
* Visited Ikea.  Many times.
*  Got my car broken into and radio stolen.  (I suppose that doesn't count as my action, but I did get to spend 2+ hours and dropped 200 bucks on a new passenger side window.)
*  Lots and lots of errands to prepare for a 4 year old's birthday party.
*  Spent some time at Maxfield Elementary watching my developing teachers work with some amazing kids on their Public Achievement Projects.
*  Did some paperwork for my work study student.
*  Canceled my hair cut appointment.  No time.
*  Hung out at Sojourner Truth Academy with some kids passionately working to change their school lunch.  It apparently causes many kids to vomit regularly.  (Their coach had erroneously thought we did not meet during Spring Break.  Silly woman.)
*  Watched an episode or two of the "Unusuals" on Netflix streaming.  Why did they cancel that show?
*  Observed my future teachers at Andersen United trying out some new ideas to engage and empower students there while taking on issues such as immigration, drug use, vandalism, and recess. 
*  Took an amazing student out to Vietnamese food.  She'll graduate soon and I am already in mourning for missing her.  In many ways, I see myself as team teaching with her.
*  Grocery shopped.
*  Saw "The Kings Speech."  The Academy was not wrong. 
*  Lunched at Muffaleta while cuddling with my husband in the corner booth.  
*  Shopped:  Unique Thrift, Old Navy, Joann's
*  Baked a mammoth cake that Carin deemed "the Scottish countryside" and covered it with superhero cake toppers and chocolate chips.  The most important thing were those cake toppers.  Narrowly averted a meltdown when Spence initially saw the cake without the toppers.  "I just (loud sob) thought (gulp of air) there would be (screaming) CAKE TOPPERS!"
*  Cleaned.
*  Decorated for the 4 year old party
*  Party!  Party!  Party!  Party!  (7 kids! + parents)

Can I have another break now please?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wall Street Stole Your Radio

A broken metal file, scissors bent to a perpendicular angle and a handle of a screw driver.  These were the tools leftover from a job well done.  One that left the passenger window shattered and our broke-ass radio disappeared.

It's not like this has not happened to me before.  There was a time when I asked if there was a punch card at Safelite Auto Glass in Baltimore.  (There wasn't.)  But, that was years ago.  Radio theft now seems like an old school crime.  Dave even joked that we should have left a manual on identity theft so that the would-be "crooks" could have made off with some real money.

I chose to deny the gaping hole and go forth with my errands for the day.  When peopled gaped at me in the strip mall, I rolled out my surprise/anger look to act as if I was just discovering it for the first time.  Brushed a bit of the broken glass onto the parking lot and carried on my way.  It was really only the rain that put a damper in my denial.

But, I could not deny the unsettled feeling of being violated.  When you are the victim of a crime, you feel it to your core.  You want the police to notice you, to break out the finger printing kit and send the prints off to the lab.  You stew.  You imagine facing the person in court and ask why.  Your cells crave justice.

I wonder if the response to Wall Street would have been different if they would have stolen everyone's  radio.  Or invaded your home for a television set.  Would regulators broke out the fingerprint kits?  Would we see more bankers behind bars?  Would there be more clear demands for justice?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Beauty of Illusion

The social construct of time has hit again!  And for once, it was in my favor.  Yes, we lost an hour.  But, the mind trick of telling myself I slept in until 8:45 am this morning made my body feel drunk with sleep. 

Even if it was just an illusion.

And a hard fought one...all four of us were enjoying the 4-5 a.m. hour...(or was it the 3-4 hour?)...fighting hard to get everyone back in their beds with eyes closed.  ("Just close your eyes.  Just try it.  Close them.  Close them...")

Even if we will all suffer tomorrow morning.  Particularly because I am still up.  Teeth unbrushed.  Contacts in.  And it is almost midnight.  

(Happy Birthday, Em!)

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Thinking of Kakuda

It was in Kakuda, Japan that the family I stayed with taught me to make sushi and other delicacies.  I remarked on how much I loved the tea and cup that she served me.  The pink cherry blossom tea cup that I was drinking out of sits in my cupboard now.  She insisted I take it with me.

Probably the other four  tea cups that remained in Kakuda are all in shards now.  Buried under water.  Kakuda sits right on the sea, close to the epicenter of the earthquake.  A 23 foot wave washed ashore last night. 

Mouth agape, feeling helpless, sending love.

ETA:  Pictures of Sendai
This is where I chatted with future teachers, bought beautiful paper at the mall and discovered "popcorn" tea. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

For the Twos...

All this two year old talk has made me think about my mom. And this picture.  This is her 2 year old birthday.  I wish I knew about her party. Did she sit in her mom's lap, overwhelmed by all of the kids playing with her toys?  Somehow I doubt it.
It's really tough building a bridge from my mom to my children.  I want her to be a part of our lives.  And yet stories of impromptu banana splits and roller skating in the house just falls short.  I only have so many memories and they seem to fade more than I want to admit.  The stories are interrupted with questions about death that I cannot answer.  There is also the inevitable subtext of mom's dying.  Perhaps I am overly zealous, but I worry that they'll worry about me dying.  And I worry about that too.
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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Two Years

Two years ago, I was in labor.  Back breaking, bone crushing labor.  Dave grabbed the phone and threatened an ambulance ride.  Ready the warm towels, I thought the baby boy would be born right there on our bathroom floor.

We made it to the hospital.  Through a few red lights.  In time to have another five hours of can't access the English language labor.

She was finally born. Right after midnight on February 24.

Nora Charlotte turns 2 tomorrow.

Monday, January 10, 2011


There is a small band of plastic superheros guarding Spence's door tonight from the dinosaurs with long wiggly arms. The cinnamon spray that those particular dinosaurs are allergic to seemed to be waning in its power. I left him still wide awake cuddling his wobbly gobbly.

I have tried many different approaches to helping Spence with his fears. Encourage him to learn more about the dinosaurs. Asking him to describe them a bit more. Walking him through guided visualizations where he is his own hero. Affirming our love and protection. And yes, using cinnamon spray and toys.

I wish the plastic toys worked for adults. I could line up little plastic dolls outside my own door. Perhaps use a little lavender spray. Or at the very least, my nightmares could be delegated to just my sleeping hours.

My uncle is having surgery on Wednesday. Serious surgery. Hours and hours of surgery.

I don't want to know more. And I don't want to describe my fears to you. I just want to line up toys made in China, spray a little scent, and have all the nightmares go away.