Thursday, May 17, 2012

remembering Popa Al

Popa Al in June 2008, at my sister's wedding

It was one year ago today that my Popa Al passed away. I just scrolled through the post I wrote about him that day. It was good to look at the pictures and think about him.

I am glad to be able to say that I remember him often, not just on anniversaries. Part of this is because Emry reminds me so much of my grandfather - his blue eyes, the way his little face is shaped with distinctive chin and soft cheeks, the sweetness of his character. When I was pregnant with Emry and my Popa was still alive, I had a feeling that this baby had a lot of Popa in him. It has turned out to be one of my more accurate intuitive predictions about my children.

Emry, 18 months, May 2012

There is abundant sweetness of character, and there is spiciness too. Because though everyone who knew my Popa thought of him as good-natured, which he certainly was, he sure was stubborn too. And with Emry in the grip of his toddlerhood, we're starting to see his mischievousness and the strength of his will coming through. Which is all just exactly as it should be.




And since I'm taking a walk down Memory Lane, here's a picture of Elan at my sister's wedding, when he was 18 months, the exact same age Emry is now.

Elan at 18 months, June 2008

Yup, those two are definitely related.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

recipe for the day

Lemon mint water, September 2011

Take one lemon, given to you by someone who grew it in their yard, and one bunch of mint, given to you by someone who grew it in their yard. Combine.

Take the medicine before the headache comes fully on.

Complete something, anything, but preferably something small that's been bugging you, like a mosquito whining in and out of your ear. Then recognize its completion.

Cut the lemon into quarters. Pluck the mint leaves off the stem. For once, do not practice restraint. Resist the urge to save some for later.

Enjoy the dream, revel in the way the world can look slightly different, the colors brighter, time slowed down just one millisecond. Do not hurry to wake up.

Watch the spiderweb floating up and down in the breeze, a line of silver that glimmers in the sunshine, then fades.

Waking up will happen on its own.

Add water. Stir. Taste. Decide if you want to add sugar. If you do, suck from the bottom of the glass with a straw and enjoy the crystals on your tongue.

Drop off the video at the video store (how old-fashioned) and pick out another, even though you know it will be a stretch to find the time to watch it.

Pick up the waffle that has been torn to bits and strewn in the corner by small, delighted hands.

Pour from the pitcher, drink deeply and frequently, feeling gratitude for the mint and the lemon and the people who grow them and that you live where there is sunshine and land for lemon trees and mint plants.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

in the still of the night

Late night edge
My grandmother's china, 4 a.m.

It's 4:48 a.m. and I'm baking banana muffins.

Some weeks just go like this. We start off all shiny and new, thinking of the things large and small we're going to accomplish. On Sunday night, we either have visions of success or trepidation. Does it matter which we expect, when the end result just seems to come to fruition on its own, a product of moon phase, cycle phase, life phase, sleep phase, what?

On Monday, I was swimming laps, in my happy zone place, thinking about the cool travel journal I'm going to make for Elan for our trip to Costa Rica, when suddenly I ran into something with my head. Very hard. My teeth clacked together from the impact. As I stood up, I heard the lifeguard blowing her whistle. Then I remembered that I had indicated in hand gestures "let's split" to the guy I was sharing the lane with. That was about 45 seconds ago. Which is clearly why I forgot and continued the circle swim, pushing off the wall into his side of the lane, and bashed heads with him. 45 seconds is a long time.

That night, I was feeling victorious for pulling together a healthy, colorful dinner in 30 minutes flat, while making grilled cheese for Elan (the only things he'll eat for dinner these days are grilled cheese and peanut butter sandwiches). Mikhail and I sat down with full bowls at 7:02 pm, which is an astonishingly together time for adult dinner in my household. I fed Emry a spoonful, then noticed that Mikhail was only eating the sprouts that I had heaped on the side as an impromptu salad. I took a bite and we looked at each other. "That's weird, the quinoa didn't cook at all," I said. "I don't think this is quinoa," he said. Yeah. It wasn't. It was millet. Which, in case you're wondering, I don't recommend at all as a quick, healthy starch to mix with your quick, healthy veggie & meatball saute.

I guess, given that start to the week, it's not a surprise that I'm sitting at my table at 4 a.m., Tension Tamer tea at hand, typing these words. Hoping to not burn the banana muffins like I burned the grilled cheese for Elan tonight. When I went to make him another one, I realized I had no bread left. I had gone to two grocery stores in the last two days, each time with two children in tow. I sat on the steps with my head down and thought about crying, but couldn't quite summon the energy.

We were in Trader Joe's (the second shopping trip of the two days), it was 5:45 p.m., and I was feeling very short-tempered and short-fused, generally like a small bomb about to blow up, and Emry had been in the Ergo on my back for what felt like hours, alternating between sucking his thumb and pulling my hair, and Elan was in the stroller because he insisted he was too tired to walk at all, and I was doing everything in my power to keep my back from tweaking yet again and also keep my impatience from flooding out my mouth and all over the floor like greasy undercooked-millet water. Elan was trying to get my attention again, possibly for another fight over whether Gorilla Munch could be considered a healthy dinner. I squatted down beside the stroller and said, "I am paying attention to you totally and completely. What on earth do you want to tell me?" I might have even said, "whadaya want now?" I might even have growled it.

"Sometimes I just really feel like crying," said the boy with the giant brown eyes.

If you have ever felt like you've disappointed someone you love, you probably know how I felt in that moment. Deflated. A little ashamed. And also like - Yes. You nailed it kid. Sometimes you just really feel like crying.

I gave him a hug (awkwardly, leaning into the stroller, with Emry tugging at my hoodie hood). I gave him a bag of those crispy, salty fried peas, which in my house qualify as a vegetable. Half the bag and a few blocks later, he felt better.

And then after I had burned the grilled cheese and sat with my head down on the stairs and wanted to cry but didn't, because my husband was away and I was the only Grown Up in attendance and Emry was throwing bits of wonton on the floor from his high chair and the children have been like barnacles lately, and dinner-bath-bed had to be finished soon, I thought about how, in a house awash with the tears of boys, sometimes I there is no room for the tears of a mama. So instead, there is an episode of Glee on the laptop in bed after they're finally asleep, followed by a 1:30 a.m. wake-up for the big boy screaming, a 2:30 a.m. wake-up for the same, lying in bed until 4 a.m. Finally hovering on the fringes of sleep when the little boy calls out Mama Mama and then goes back to sleep, but it's done nonetheless. I'm irreparably awake. I decide to just get up. Make the muffins, write the words spiraling in my brain. Damn the consequences. Sometimes weeks just go like this.