Ponyo Soup!

Why hello there, lovelies. How are you today?

I had to share this little idea with you because it’s a big part of life in our nest right now. We are experiencing a major Ponyo obsession in our nest. The little birdie wants to watch the movie every day, all day! Have you seen the movie? It’s a beautiful movie – amazing animation and wonderful music. The story is inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen story, The Little Mermaid. It’s much more abstract and interesting than the Disney original The Little Mermaid, don’t you think?

In one of the scenes, Ponyo escapes the ocean again and comes to visit her new friend, Sōsuke. Sōsuke’s mom brings them inside and makes them big bowls of ramen soup with ham, Ponyo’s favorite. I thought it would be fun to have “Ponyo Soup” for lunch so I bought some ramen and ham. I threw in some frozen mixed veggies and voila! Big hit. I have a feeling Ponyo Soup is going to be a regular thing around here for a while…


water painting

One of Wren’s favorite activities is painting. She loves to paint when she’s at school and in the basement of our nest too. She refers to the entire basement experience as “weasel!” because of her easel. I don’t dare correct her because it makes me laugh every time she stands at the top of the stairs and yells, “weasel!”

But when we’re upstairs, away from the bottles and tubes of color, she loves to paint with water. My brother and his family gave this Japanese water painting set to the little birdie for Christmas and it’s proven to be quite a hit. It’s quite popular with this Mama too because all you need is water. Easy clean-up!

So how does it work? It’s simple. Just dip the brush into a small amount of water and paint a stroke on the “magical” surface. The brush strokes become black and then disappear within a few minutes, leaving the canvas clear for a new painting. Voila!

P.S. I’m amazed at the little birdie’s fine motor skills: the way she holds the brush? Wow. We have Montessori to thank for this.

Giveaway! Mocking birdies.

Hip hip hooray! I’m excited to have a children’s book giveaway for you, dear readers. The book is Mocking Birdies by Annette Simon and we are really enjoying it in our nest right now. To enter to win a free copy, please leave a comment on this post. The winner will be drawn on Monday, February 21 and then I’ll pop it into the mail to the lucky lovely. Please spread the word!

The simple yet wonderful visuals in this book make it a joy to read for this Mama and the timeless story of two birdies that copy each other’s whistles and songs is great for a range of ages. I’m not going to spoil the ending for you though – it gets interesting… meow!

Good luck! I’ll be crossing my fingers for you.

doing something right

To make up for the moments when I feel like I’m not doing a great job at much of anything, I’m feeling a wee bit smug today. Why? The little birdie is ridiculously excited over a bowl of cottage cheese. I guess I must be doing something right! It’s the little things to this proud Mama. What makes you sit up a bit straighter these days, lovelies?

what she’s into

Wren is now 20 months old. That means she’s on the cusp of two. Yikes!  In fact someone asked me recently how old she is now and I even said “almost two.” I’m getting a little sick of declaring how many months she is. Other parents of young children understand, but still. Another thing parents of young children understand is that we’re tired of talking about being tired. I think discussing how much (or little!) your child sleeps is just about as interesting as sorting through a sock drawer. It passes the time, but how much does it really say about a person? It’s akin to sharing thoughts on the weather forecast. Everyone does it, but it doesn’t make it meaningful. I’d rather focus on how someone enjoys spending her wakeful hours. So what’s the little birdie really into these days? Thanks for asking.

  • eggs
  • stickers
  • painting, drawing, coloring, scribbling, occasionally eating a marker tip
  • reading books
  • watching Jungle Book and Dumbo
  • dipping Oreos (“Joe Joes!”) into milk and making a huge, yummy mess
  • talking, talking, talking – so many clear words now, I’ve lost count! Yesterday’s additions? Gosh, fun, honey, rats!
  • brushing and flossing her teeth and then spitting into the sink
  • playing with her babies and acting like a baby
  • having a dance party with Papa
  • running in circles around the house
  • click here to learn about patio cleaning (please, God, help me to find half as much enjoyment in cleaning),
  • playing in the snow and riding in her sled while yelling “weeeeeeee!”
  • being sweet one minute and CRAZY the next
  • laughing, goofing around and being the funny one in our nest
  • playing and singing ring around the rosie, trot ole Joe and row, row, row your boat, the wheels on the bus and the itsie bitsie spider
  • watching a slideshow of herself on the computer. Points to the computer and yells, “Wren Wren Wren!”

such a delightful, charming, feisty little girl, that little birdie. Clearly not a baby anymore.

birdie 1, egg 0

Where oh where did my baby go? Just recently (yesterday?) she rolled over for the first time and now she’s begging for another hard-boiled egg so she can crack the shell, peel it, cut it in half, put a dash of salt and pepper on it and eat it. All by herself. Makes this Mamma so proud! But oh, so bittersweet. Sigh. How many eggs can one little birdie safely eat in one day anyway? Yesterday’s total egg consumption: 3. Any food obsessions in your nests lately, lovelies?

squirrely book

We’ve really been enjoying one of Wren’s new books I got her for Christmas, Nuts to You!, by one of my favorite author/illustrators, Lois Ehlert. Of course, it’s about squirrels… but that’s not the ONLY great thing about it, silly. The illustrations are fantastic (Lois, I heart you!) and the story, whimsical AND scientific. I love how Lois (yeah, that’s right, we’re on a first-name basis) adds a bit of science and natural history to a fun page-turner. Makes for a read that will last for years. Heck, I learned something too. Sorry, Madagascar and Australia, NO squirrels for you?! Sigh.

Because Wren is about as obsessed with balls as I am with squirrels, this is one of her favorite scenes in the book as she squeals, “ball!!!” This book, Nuts to You!, gets our squirrely thumb’s up, lovelies. Enjoy!

sad tears, happy tears

My desk calendar still reads “August 24” and it makes sense because I’m feeling stuck there. Literally, figuratively, all a jumbled mess. Last week’s calendar greeted me with a confusing mix of emotions, some clean, happy and overflowing with the spirit of vibrant life, some even a bit raw, and a few that were sorrowful and weepy. Motherhood sure is an emotional roller coaster, eh?

August 24th welcomed Wren Sabina’s 15-month birthday and it also marked the 3rd anniversary of Ariel Jane’s still birth. Wren’s light and energy, passion and thrill, juxtaposed with the darkness of a lost child. A daughter I knew, but didn’t get to know well enough. I share these thoughts today for myself, but also for you for I know you too have experienced loss and you know the confusion of emotions. The way they stay with you and resurface at unforeseen times. Not raw, but also not quite distant enough. Aah, to be only human.

We enjoyed the first 20 weeks of our first pregnancy with ebullient hope and excitement only to be overcome with sorrow, dread and angst for another seven. Ultrasounds are built up to be a really fun experience for soon-to-be Mom and Dad, but this one was met with lots of quiet and questions, confusion. In the end we were told, “sorry, but your child isn’t going to survive.”

The rest of the summer was a blur. Waiting without hope, and tearful days in the bright light of mid-summer. Waiting for the heartbeat to stop while the baby kept growing and I kept growing, visibly very pregnant. Not the early part of a pregnancy when people aren’t quite sure you’re pregnant so they hesitate to say anything. No, the latter part. Round. Beginning of the waddle. Sigh. I didn’t ever lie to people, but I didn’t tell the whole truth. The girl at the grocery store, “awww! When are you due?!!!” November, I respond. She doesn’t need to know. I had an innate sense of the people who could handle the truth and not get too weird with me. I didn’t need anyone breaking down and gasping, sobbing, when I bumped into them in the post office. Good friends and family knew the details, but it’s the newer friends or acquaintances that were the most difficult. What do you say?  I would share the basics when they asked, “wow! How’s it going?” Sometimes I would just respond with a vague, “Oh, fine. How are YOU?!” I tried to make it easy on everyone else, which in turn made it a bit easier for me.

The dog days of summer were punctuated with lots of “why me?” moments followed by the denial that I’d still have to labor and deliver this baby. You have got to be kidding me. Every week we went in to see the doctor and listen for a heartbeat and then one day it was gone. I went back to work and then later that night I was induced. And we waited again. While we were waiting in the hospital for the labor to kick in, we distracted ourselves with a game or two of Scrabble and needless to say, I was not on top of my game. Chris didn’t even let me win.  There’s humor there too, no?

I numbly pushed through labor and delivery, with no happiness in sight, only to then hold a lifeless daughter. Pain with a purpose? What is that purpose when you’re delivery lifelessness? I had pictured us traveling home from the hospital and sitting in the back, watching our child breathe. Instead we traveled home to an empty house. Quiet punctuated only by bouts of sobbing. And the light, so bright. Too bright to sleep the days away, but that’s all I wanted to do, just to escape. Turns out it’s difficult to do much of anything when your milk comes in and your breasts are severely engorged. Hitting the lowest point and meanwhile I try to remind myself that there are lessons here, there are strengths to be gained, there are even opportunities for growth? Positive thoughts only carried me a few steps only to stumble again when I was overcome with the realities of healing my body, raw from delivery. Why all the bad and no good. Cruel, no? And even now, there still aren’t great lessons or reasons and lots of why us? when I think back, but that’s OK now. I’ve reached some peace with the unanswered questions; it doesn’t haunt me (too much) anymore.

At my follow-up appointment with my OB, he wanted to make sure I didn’t give up my hope for a child. After I wiped the tears away and stopped shaking, I thanked him and I still thank him every day for that simple–yet profound–thought for that is what stuck with me through the bouts of sorrow and confusion. Hope eventually won over our weary hearts and our dreams of a family again became vivid.

Fast forward…

At some point every day when I see Wren walk around the house, or drink from her cup, or say “apple,” or give me a hug and kiss, or pick tomatoes from the vine, or throw a tantrum, or refuse to nap and test my patience and strength, I think of the hope and love that is deeply embodied in our relationship. And I squeeze her a bit tighter until she wiggles and squirms away from me, so full of life it bubbles over. Understandably, loss is also deeply woven into our relationship and this helps to shed light on my protection of Wren.

And Ariel Jane? She’s with me every day too. I like to attribute my strength to her. It seems odd to connect a lost child with strength, but emotions rarely are clean and clear. Speaking (err, writing) of clean and clear, I would like to leave you with this poem that Emily so eloquently wrote of our loss.

Scrabble in the Hospital

Jet or zip will give you a higher score
than death or meadow. Even zoo
is greater than grief.  Axe on a double word
will always be more points than embrace.
Our language in tiles can be separated
by vowels, but our bodies cannot speak
the sounds of the word for a baby born
without breath. There aren’t enough letters
for this loss. There are no words
for this color. And when they told me
of how you held your baby girl,
Ariel, I didn’t think of the sprite
on an island or the book of poems
which rests on my night stand.
I thought of your hands
around a blanket of a body
born cold in a room shaded pink.
The same pink of your cheeks in February
on frozen lakes when you’d tell of trout
in their slow sleep. And now your slow voice
staticed and wintered in a phone line
tells me of joy, the stubborn happiness
in loving what cannot live. Knowing
we couldn’t ever spell or keep score
of the light of each star, but we have the word
sky, elephant, and hope. To get close

She walks!

Yes, the little birdie walks! And with gusto. It’s joyful (with a hint of terror!) to hear the pitter-patter of her steps ’round and ’round the house. And she’s awfully proud of herself. Truth be told, her Mamma is tearfully proud too. Sniffle sniffle. Wasn’t she just a tiny little lady who smelled like sugar cookies, fresh from the safety and warmth of Mamma’s womb? Sigh.

Needless to say (err, write), we’ve been a bit busy to be spending too much time in good ole Cyberspace. Little Miss Go Big or Go Home has been a hoot lately. 13 months was a tough time with a lot of frustrations and changes, but 14, almost 15 months? A riot! Wren has been settling in well to her two mornings at school. She still cries a bit when I leave her, but within a few minutes she’s fine. Whew.

So what’s my other excuse for ignoring you lovelies lately? Summer! We’ve been spending a lot of time in the water, trying to escape the high heat and humidity. I love Mother Nature’s air conditioning, don’t you? Although I am happily wearing long sleeves today, I wouldn’t mind another month or so of playing at the water’s edge with the little birdie. Aah, the simple things.

How’s your summer been going? Have you found some means of escaping the oppressive heat and humidity? Chris likes to remind me to store it up for the long winter ahead, but I haven’t figured out exactly how to do that yet… you? Any tips?

Happy Monday, dear readers! I have a lot to catch up on with you. I have literally started four other posts, but haven’t completed them yet. In time.