Friday, November 20, 2015

Let freedom ring

When the power of love overcomes the love of power the world will know peace. - Jimi Hendrix 

The email was brief: Did you see the news about Paris? The girls and I were reading in Violet's room. I immediately turn to my CNN app, and see the horrible devastation that attacked Paris flood my screen.

"Mom," Daisy says, "I count seven American flags on this street. Why are there so many flags, is it America's birthday again?"

I immediately remember the days significance. Of course, I remembered when I woke up, unable to forget the horrors after reading new articles of remembrance, but after spending the morning running around Fairyland with Daisy's Kindergarten class, I blissfully forgot.

Daisy is hitching a piggyback ride. It's almost one, triple digit heat, and we are wiped and are walking the half mile home to our house. We're hungry and thirsty, as we drained the last of our cold water on the 45 minute bus ride back from Oakland.

"No, it's not America's birthday. Remember that's July 4th. Today is a special day of remembering. A day of celebrating the courage and bravery of our first responders: our police officers, our firefighters, our military. Fourteen years ago, on this day, September 11, thousands of people died in America from an attack that was in New York City.  That's why our neighbors are hanging their American flags. It was an event that defined my generation. It was an event that changed the way our nation worked. It changed our future."

"One day", I tell Daisy, "you will learn about September 11 in your history classes. One day I will show you pictures of the event, and one day Daddy and I and others will tell you stories of where they were on the day the attack happen. One day we'll take you to visit the memorials, but today what is important for you to know is that we have freedom. We are thankful for our first responders, our firefighters, our police officers. We are thankful for the military. We are grateful that they gave their lives to protect ours."

My girls are obsessed with everything French. They want to take French language classes. They can find Paris on a map. Lily wants to see the art museums. Daisy wants to eat cheese in the park by the Eiffel Tower. They love to watch the Disney movie The Hunchback of Notre Dame and listen to the French songs and stories on repeat in the car. It's not just Paris, my children want to see the world. They long to visit China and Russia. Daisy wants to see the beaches of Costa Rica and walk with the penguins in Antartica. Lily wants to see the Peter Pan Statue in the Kensington Gardens and rub her hands over the Anonymous Writer Statue in Budapest.

I want to tell them about this devastation in Paris. I want say something concrete and useful. But, instead I put down my phone and look at my beautiful girls. I hug them and kiss them and hold them in my arms. I tell them to always remember that life, all human life, is precious.

One day my girls will learn about violence. They learn about anger and hate. I wish, I wish that I could protect them from those things forever. I know that this is unrealistic becuase this is the world we live in. But, what I do know is that I can show my girls, and teach my girls to love. I can shower them with comfort, compassion and love. I can show them kindness. I can teach them empathy. I can demonstrate tolerance and acceptance and peace.

John F. Kennedy once said, "Our most basic human link is that we all inhabit this planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children's future. And we are all mortal." These words still ring true today, in fact, now more than ever. I want to teach my children that there is infinitely more that binds us together than separates us. And I continue to teach my girls that love is the only response to hate.

Some days motherhood seems like an overwhelming job. I need to be brave when I am afraid. I need to show compassion when I am angry. I need to give love when I am mad. But my hope for the future is that my children know a world fueled by love and peace, acceptance and tolerance. I want my girls to go to school without a worry about shooters on campus. I want my girls to travel the world without the worry of violence. I want my girls to know a life without terror.

I do not think this is an impossible dream because there is no amount of hate that can drown out love.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that. - Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Monday, November 16, 2015

6 Happy Things

"Think of all beauty still left around you and be happy." - Anne Frank 

So, embarassingly enough I started this blog post all the way back at the beginning of October, and now it is almost mid-November. As per usual, the fall is usually nuts for me: it's my busiest semester and usually my busiest season for freelance work. These past few months has been even more so with a total of 12 semester units, three fairly involved grantwriting clients, and marathon training. This means lots of terrible essays, Saturday mornings out on the Iron Horse Trail, Sunday afternoon lesson planning and a often 4:30 am wake-up calls to squeeze in grant writing. That being said, I am finally able to see the light at the end of the tunnel: the great class countdown has begun, it's taper time for the marathon (only two long runs left!) and the grant deadlines are winding down.

And so, with keeping of the theme of late, I have five more happy things:

1. The other day it started raining. The girls were playing inside and all of the sudden we heard the classic sounds of the pitter-patter of the rain. Lily, looked up and realized it started raining and ran outside barfoot, shouting on her way out, "I'm gonna play outside. I want to play in the rain." Before I could even react she was singing and dancing and playing in the rain. Barefoot and all. I couldn't help but smile.

2. A few weeks ago, Daisy and I went on a big girl date to meet Chelsea Clinton. We read sippits of her book, It's Your World,  together and we enjoyed looking at the pictures. We talked extensively about how kids can empower change in the world. I explained that she was the President Clinton's daughter. "First Daughter! I say, isn't that cool? She grew up in the White House, you've been there, look. Here are pictures!" She was throughly unimpressed. Then I explained how she went to Stanford University. "Wait Mom." Daisy stops me, "Wait, Stanford? That's where I'm going to go!"

3. The girls and I have been reading Pippi Longstocking. I LOVED Pippi as a child. I love the magical world she lives in: a world of horses on porches and goofy strength. A world of pirates, gold coins and childhood best friends. A world of where a freedom of mind and a freedom of will is celebrated.I loved reading the books as a child, and I love that I get to re-read the adventures with my own crazy girls.

4. Violet has started to walk. Her way of learning to walk was so different from her sisters. At first, it was a step here or a shaky step there. But, sometime in the last few weeks has has started walking with so much more confidence. She walks across rooms and dances in circles and laughs and giggles and claps for herself. I love that she is her greatest cheerleader.

5. Buddha Bowls. I am obsessed. So delicious, so satisfying and so easy to make.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Maybe it's just magic

On our way to school we talk about how the earth rotates around the sun giving us seasons. We talk about gravity and how the the Sun's gravity pulls on Earth and the planets around the sun, just as Earth's gravity pulls keeps us on the ground. "Nope", Daisy says, discounting my answer, "maybe it's just magic." Then Lily asks me about the tooth fairy. How does the fairy KNOW that Daisy's friend lost a tooth? And then we start talking about languages. People in Spain speak Spanish and people in China speak Chinese and then we move to Emperors and Kings and ancient dynasties. We talk about Papa and how we could fly a plane halfway across the world and then we talk about Grandma and her brand-new knee. We talk about how we've never seen a fairy, or met a real-life princesses, and how we can make a rainbow and why do markers run out of ink, and how tree leaves change colors, and... and.. and..

And we're walking along, answering three hundred questions a minute, listening to the amazing connections of these little minds, thinking about how the whole world seems like maybe just a little bit magic to them. I kind of understand because these three amazing little girls of mine seem just maybe, a little bit like magic to me.

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


This is Daisy's latest rainbow. Lately, she is obsessed with drawing rainbows. She gathers the colors she wants. Sometimes a rainbow has only one color in different shades. Sometimes it has every color she can find. Sometimes she uses markers, or crayons or paint or dot art, and sometimes it's a mixture of all different types of drawing materials. She picks paper - usually construction paper, but junk mail envelopes and pages from her journal and blank white drawing paper are also fair game. Then she draws her rainbow. Sometimes it's a perfect half-circle rainbow, sometimes it's little lines in little blocks of color. Sometimes it starts in the cornor of the paper and covers the entire paper. And when she is finished she decorates her rainbow and puts her name somewhere on the page. She always ask me to hang up her masterpiece. I never want to forget what our wall looks like bursting at the seams with drawings of rainbows.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A new beginning: Kinder

"Momma," Daisy said last night while we were having dinner, "Momma, could you please pack a big snack for me tomorrow. Not like at Lego camp. I need a big snack. I will be hungry." 

"Okay, love. What would you like? A applesauce muffin? A granola bar? A piece of fruit? Carrot sticks?" 

"A cheese and tomato sandwich, apple slices, chips and a small piece of chocolate." 

"Darling, you'll have lunch when you get home. We can have that for lunch. We only need something small for a snack" 

She looked at me for a moment.  Then slowly, carefully, speaking to me as I was the biggest idiot she'd ever met, she responded, "No, Mom. I need that for my snack. All of my success in kindergarten depends on my snack. I need it to be good."

And so, as we walked to school this morning she carried her backpack with her cheese and tomato sandwich, apple slices and small piece of chocolate. She hung her pack up on the hooks, she lined up and marched right on in when her teacher opened up the door.

I only hope her dreams of Stanford are not crushed because I forgot to also give her  chips.

We walked home from school, part of the way with our neighbors, part of the way just the three of us. We found a stick to cast spells. We talked about what we needed to do today (laundry, piano lessons this afternoon, Costco, maybe we would have time to make an apple cake). Violet on my back in the ergo, Lily asking questions about when sister was coming home (we are going to walk to get her in three hours), how long was she gone for (3.5 hours total), when does she start school (in two weeks). We walked in the house, and took off our shoes. I unloaded Violet from the ergo, and Lily began dancing around the family room, "I get to be the only one to play with the toys. I am the only one. I'm so happy sister is gone. I can do whatever I want. I'm the boss. I'm in charge." 

Clearly, Lily is not heartbroken school has started.

This afternoon while we were having lunch, I asked a few questions:

What is your favorite memory from this summer? Starting piano lessons, playing on the beach at Lake Tahoe, and Lego camp

What are you most looking forward to this school year? Learning about math and doing science projects. And going skiing in a snowy place during the winter

What is your teacher's name? Mrs. Erikson 

What is your favorite part of the day? Recess because I got to play with Callie and Sadie (a new friend from swimming lessons this summer and her BFF neighbor friend, neither are in her class) 

What was your least favorite part of the day? Working on paper faces

What is one new thing you learned today at school? What to do with an everyday folder and a new days of the week song. 

Momma, Mrs. Erikson also has a lot of rules. Maybe even more than you. 

And that was that. Our first day of kindergarten.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Lucky Penny is ONE


Last week you turned ONE year old. At twelve months of age you are sizing up to 28 inches long, and 18 pounds, 9 ounces. You have white blonde hair, a beautiful golden eye color, your two bottom teeth and the most perfect mischievous smile.
It is hard to believe that you are the same little peanut that squired about inside of me for so many months. You will always be our baby course, but we are beginning to catch glimpses of the toddler you are becoming. Watching you grow is, I admit, a tiny bit heartbreaking. But, Violet, my sweet, you know what? There is nothing else I’d rather do.

The last three months with you have been amazing. You have graduated from an army crawl to a wicked fast traditional crawl, with the most precise hip swagger. You have learned to master the stairs with such ease and grace that I am still in awe. You have learned a few new signs, but you are practicing new sounds all the time. In fact, your most recent favorite word: sisters. You LOVE music. You point your fingers to the sky and wiggle your body at the first sound of music and you clap your hands in delight anytime you see your sisters dancing. You love to help me empty the grocery bags, handing me the oranges and the boxes of pasta at my command. Your favorite evening activity is to empty the silverware caddy in the dishwasher and you love to destroy any and all block castles built by your big sisters. 
In a nutshell, you love to climb and crawl and cruise and explore and get into EVERYTHING. Your rule of thumb pretty much seems to be this: If you can use it to give your parents a heart attack, YOU ARE TOTALLY GAME. For example, last weekend your sisters got new loft beds for their room. The other day, I left the three of you playing quietly in your room for a few minutes. When I turned back around, you were in their room, on the second rung, halfway up the ladder, of Lily’s bed, calling out sisters, sisters.

While I love that you were looking for your favorite playmates, it scares the living daylights out of me to see you perched like that kiddo. At the same time, however, we want you to learn your limits and explore your world on your terms. Better you fall than never climb at all. So we remind you to be careful and we stand so as to catch you should you need help, and then we let you climb on.
Oh, and also, you are turning into a total cuddlier. IT IS THE BEST THING EVER. But what’s really cute about this is you act sort of sneaky. Sometimes, you pretend you want me to read you a book or to nurse, but you really don’t want either of those things. You just want a little sugar. Violet, honey, you can have hugs and kisses and cuddles and love from me anytime. No fake book reading required.

Violet, the thing is, some days are really hard. Some days I count down the seconds until your father comes home. Some days, I wonder if I’m parenting you guys all wrong. I worry about the future, and fret about the past. And some days, I cannot wait until I am not constantly spit-up stained and exhausted. But, each morning the days start fresh and new and bright. I see your beautiful smile and hear your happy babble as I lift you up for a morning snuggle and all I can think is that you and your sisters are the only thing I have ever wanted.
I love you more than all the stars in the sky and the water in the ocean. 

Love, Momma 

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Letter to my wild bird: 42 months

Dear sweet Lily-girl,
Last week, we took a family day trip into the city where we rode cable cars and ate giant cups of ice cream and slowly wandered through our favorite parts of our favorite city. At the end of the day, as we walked back to the car, you spotted an art gallery and asked to go in. All five of us were on the brink of meltdown but I couldn’t say no. You slowly walked through, studying each piece, first up close and then from a distance. I see you come around the corner calling for me, “Momma, come. Come here. I want to show you something.” You pulled me over to sit next to you on the floor, and snuggled into my lap. “Momma, This. IS. An. AWESOME. Picture. Really look Momma. Look at the blue waves that touch the orange sky. See that tiny bird with the very, very, long tail. See him flying through the sky? See. He makes you feel that we can do anything. Anything we want. This is just so awesome.”

As I’m sitting there, in the middle of a San Francisco fine art gallery, you snuggled on my lap, your voice a whisper, your hair a tangled mess plastered across your face, examining this piece of art that speaks to you I was reminded of a poem by Saul Williams: 

i have faith
in who you are becoming
in who you are
you are the wolf
having run through a stream
to stand on a mountain peak
dripping wet

At three and a half years I marvel at your confidence. I admire your independence. I delight in your creativity. You are so amazingly colorful, determined and absolute. Watching your personality develop feels a little bit magic to me, like watching a wizard banish a dragon or seeing a fairy fly by in the woods. I’m not sure I have ever enjoyed anything as much as I have enjoyed watching your personality develop.
However, many days I consider mothering you to be exhausting. The first reason is the inexplicable obsession with negotiating with me. I tell you, three more minutes at the park, you say. “SIX.” I offer ten chocolate chips for dessert tonight, and you shout “SIX.” It is driving me crazy, child, CRAZY. Someday when you are seventeen and you’re wondering why I only give you six potato chips in your lunch or I end all your curfews on a six, like 11:56 pm, it is, my darling girl, because of this. 

Besides training to be a littly lawyer, you are insanely creative. You love to tell us stories that are blends of your life and the fluff (elves, griffins and pirates, oh my!) that we generally fill your head with. A couple of weeks ago on our family vacation to North Lake Tahoe we went on a four-mile hike. A few minutes on the trail and you were in the zone. You had your wand (the perfect stick you found). We were following the rainbown path, hunting for the diamond snowflakes. You were the princess pirate on a mission to save the Emerald Treasure (Violet, asleep on my back). You and Daisy created characters, backstories and powers for each of us feeding off each other and the story unfolding as you told it. Working together to trick the bad guys trying to steal our treasure, and cheering on and encouraging one another in the story, on the hike and in life.  
I marvel at you my sweet Lily girl, at how you can be at once a big kid, imagining sword fighting and pirate treasures, and a little girl, snuggled up in her momma’s arms. I know I say this constantly, but ever time you reach a new phase, I am convinced that this age is my very favorite.

I love you more than all the stars in the sky and all the water in the ocean.

Love, Momma