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Saturday, August 13, 2016

this guy and thoughts on babyland

First off. This guy. Just look at him a second.

Holy cow. I have only known him for five months now. FIVE MONTHS. Well, really 13 months, right? But this face. I have gazed at it now for five months. I look at this guy and his face and I see another part of myself - a part of myself I never knew. And what is more, I didn't know that I didn't know this part of me.

But now I do.

And somehow I am more whole.

God knew we needed this guy. In our family. In this chaos. In this now.

This really is what parenthood is. An expanding of self out into the world. And then a realization dawns, at some point. Oh. And that isn't me. They are their very own selves. But somehow you have actualized a corner of you, into this new being, that you cant control or fully protect forever. And one day they walk up the stairs to school. And life begins in a new and different way for you all.

Having a fourth baby, so many years after the third, is vividly pointing this out to me. I watch him and remember his brother and sisters passing the same milestones. Was it just yesterday? No? Four years ago? Seven? Almost ten??

It is unnerving. When they are all little you are caught up in it all. The sticky hands and the sleepless nights and the cheerios everywhere and the chaos and exhausted joyful days. And then it slows a little. You find yourself going a whole day without pottying accidents. They sit and look at books and play Lego and the house is quiet. You can send them outside to run in the yard. You sip tea while looking out at them and the whole world silently expands, your horizons seemingly unlimited.

Things start changing slowly but then it escalates. And you find yourself reminiscing the baby days. When you had three under 4 years old. When they toddled around and wore crazy outfits. Gluing each others feet to the floor. Cutting hair out of the way. Trying to hug beams of sunlight in the dusty kitchen. The problems are different now. From potty training to potty mouth friends. From how to share toys to offering to share lunch with the kid who doesnt get enough food in her lunchbox, and why doesnt she have enough food mom? From learning your letters to finding books to read in the big kid section that doesnt involve "kissy stuff." Screaming over where are my red socks to why do I have to wash my hair its only been 6 days.

And then.

Baby again.

And time slows for a minute at a time, as if magic. The lens zooms in and he is in focus. This beam of light. He breathes in and out in his sleep. I take pictures of him every night on my phone. His perfect little round fuzzy head, the fists curled, the dimpled feet. He sleeps against my chest as I type, breath in and out. finally asleep after fighting it all morning. He wants to be big, so big! At five months he is almost crawling on hands and knees, wanting to eat at every meal, cutting his second tooth. Saying mama and da. Only satisfied if he can stand, leaning against my legs against the ottoman.

And I am so grateful for this last trip into babyland. A trip I had thought we'd never be able to take again. I breathe in every sigh. Every milky breath. Every damp head nestled against me. Reveling in his potential yet to unfold. Who is he? Where will his road take him?

And I find myself having a new appreciation for my big kids. Remembering their baby years with an ache. Tearing up at how big they are getting. How full of life they are. How awesome amazing even if maddening creatures they have become, the unfolding of their selves in such long days, yet such quick years.


And then you find him chewing on a little wool felted baby doll you made your big seven year old when she was a baby. Remnants of a former life.

Slow down baby man. Slow down Sara, as all of life and career and goings on whirl about. Slow down. Drink this moment in.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

thoughts on holding space for our kids... plus volcano pics (!!)

I've been thinking a lot about this concept over the past crazy busy month.

Holding space.

And it has been busy. I've been teaching and attending meetings and skyping in on conference calls. Meanwhile registering my kids for school (what the heck with all the paperwork????) and finishing up karate lessons (Martial Arts MOM!) and trying to keep the house in order, somewhat (mostly thanks to Auntie Molly who has been staying with us for the summer!! YAY AUNTIE!!)

Meanwhile. Meanwhile.

Parenting needs seem to increase exponentially, don't they? Everyone seems to hit peak of "I NEED YOU" at the same time. One getting near 10 years old, and all the complications the pre-teen years bring. Another hitting the mid-7-I-know-everything-and-feel-everything phase. Another heading off into the unknown nethers of kindergarten grown-upedness.

What the heck.


And don't forget the four month sleep regression growth spurt for baby...

All. At. Once.

And everything is so BIG and FEELINGS and IMPOSSIBLE and I CANT DO IT MOM and MORE FEELINGS that are VERY BIG.

And then I am tired. Very oh so very big tired.

But I read this article somewhere about this concept of "holding space" for people, emotionally. With so much going in our country and so many feelings and hurt and social media makes it so easy to react big and violently and not actually have to interact with others who are hurt or who have different opinions than us. Holding space is saying, I see your hurt. I am sorry. I am here for you. And that is all. No judgement. No rushing to condemn or condone. Holding space for other people's sorrow.

And then thinking about what this looks like in parenting.

It is "Calm Wall." One of our favoritest parenting mantras for our BIG FEELINGS kiddos (er, all of them, uh, dont know where they get THAT from). CALM WALL. I chant, as they yell and cry and writhe over small injustices and big.

Calm Wall means this, it isn't our emotion. It is theirs. We dont need to absorb their emotional energy about a problem. Their anger doesnt need to lead to our anger.

CALM WALL. Say it with me, while exhaling through the teeth. I AM A CALM WALL. I swear to you, this works.

But this holding space concept goes beyond.

Because they aren't just small, these feelings. They are big too. Real things. The friend that says the hurtful word, or that doesn't extend a birthday invitation. The group of kids that calls names and convinces my child, my sweet child, that he is fat.The fear of an unknown school that leaves our stomachs in knots at night. The fear of an earache and visit to the doctor.

These are real things. Hurtful, and scary situations for adults too. That medical diagnosis we don't understand. That group of moms that gossips about us at the park. That caring aunt who questions our parenting and leaves us doubtful of ourselves.

All very real.

All very worth feeling. But we have learned to control our emotional responses to this kind of hurt. We have had years to learn to suck in our nasty retorts to our aunt and smile and graciously leave the room. To stop googling a list of symptoms and believe its the worst ailment possible (SARA. STOP GOOGLING) To smile and wave at the moms at the park and let their ugly words slide off us like water off a duck.

What? No?

SEE?? I totally get freaked out and up in my head about all of those situations. I do it all the time. I see myself doing it, but it still happens.

So for our kids, who are still learning to gauge their feelings, who are still asking, what is worth this big response of yelling at crying?? My brother hitting me on the head in the car? Wait, it isnt? Oh. Ok. Sorry.

The need to modulate these responses (yes, I just used the word modulate, PhD program here I come) is what comes with age. With maturity.

This is holding space.

To be a calm wall.

To be a mom who says, I know that you getting a small piece of chocolate seems worth the rage you are throwing. I am here as you sort that out and calm down. To teach appropriate responses.

Or, I know they hurt your feelings with those mean words. I am here for you, as you cry in the bathroom to move back home, that no one likes you, that you have no friends.

Holding space. Like we appreciate from friends around us when we too are sad.

Have you ever had someone say to you, "Calm down!" when you are frustrated about something.? As a BIG feeler of ALL THE EMOTIONS I can tell you I have. Over and over. And its not fun. It says, "your emotions dont count" which is a short path to "you don't count."

Anyway. Its taken me almost a whole week to get out this post. Even now my 9yr old has interrupted me forty bazillion times, I've had to cut out three butterfly wings from felt for the crafting 7 yr old, and I've rescued the baby from getting shaken to death but his enthusiastic little sister ("you are SO CUUUUUUUUTE, arent you???? SO CUUUUUUUUUTE!!!" she squeals in his face.)

But I am really hoping to get more into this practice. It takes practice, for sure. Your emotions aren't mine. But I can stand here, with you, as you work them out. And I love you.

Here's hoping we get a bit more of this in the upcoming political race too. We sure need it. LORD HAVE MERCY and OY VEY.

Hugs mamas.

Three days until we start school. I am going to go drink more coffee and try not to throw up. We are doing a mini "staycation week" this week. A few days ago we went, finally, to Volcano National Park. It was magical. Otherwordly. The kind of place you expect to see fairies popping out of the many orchids scattered around the rainforest or dinosaurs trekking across the vast landscape dotted with steam vents. Here are some photos.

mom. i can see LAVA.

photographer mama. i swear i was there too.

yes, i totally had a heart attack as the kids peeked over a huge cliff trying to get a first glimpse of the caldera and the volcano

auntie molly studies geology (headed to grad school in a month!) she was KINDA excited by the steam vents

the kids hiked more than two miles!!

except this one strolled. Little Green style.

the lava was seriously bubbling up. so cool

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

the thing about us and homeschooling...or, my incredible guilt and simultaneous elation about next year

So I have been meaning to write this post for awhile, but I wasn't quite sure what to say, or how to say it. So I guess I just have to give it to you straight


About the school thing.

I'm tired?

Not tired.

That isn't right.

I'm not like, give me another cup of coffee and I'll make it fine, tired.

I am weary.

Like, carrying too much, too many things to do, too many lists in my head, too much of everything, infant and kindergartener and big kid coffee wont touch it weary.

But here is the thing. That is just half of it. This isnt about me feeling "burnt out" I wont even use that phrase. Because we are doing this for them too. I want them to have the good stuff. The field trips and extra classes. Friends. Teachers who invest in them. They know how much we love and value them. I want them to feel this from other adults too. To have this input into their lives. To be around other kids who are different than them.

But it will be hard.

Because I love being by my kids, I will miss the daily of our old routine so so much. I will cry about it, I am sure. I will miss knowing every detail of their day (but also NOT miss it. HAHA)

But that is just the thing. That was our old routine.

It isn't where we are now.

I have meetings and conference calls, conferences even, and I am trying to do all these "good things" and I feel like, well, I wasnt giving my best to our homeschool. I know I could do better and every day, when I didn't do "the best" I knew I could do, I felt horrendously crabby. And then I snapped, taking my guilt out my kids.

Here is the thing a very smart mentor lady here told me. I want to be a parent to my kids, not their teacher.

I can do both roles, I mean, I could. but now, all my best highest intentions have devolved into two roles, mediocre teacher, and crabby mom. And if I can be one I choose mom. Fun, happy, crafting, cookie-baking, project-doing, trip-taking mom. And yes, we will learn together and we will discover things, but I can do that as fun mom role, not cracking the books teacher role.

We will come back to our home schooling journey, definitely. We love the ease of it, the flow of it, the togetherness of it. We will pack up our books, load up the kindles, probably just next year, and hit the road with four kids. Mexico! Then England! Who knows...

But for this year, we need more structure. I need more support. Our kids also need it too, for a year, I think. Friends. Activities. A connection to this very different place we now call home. Our new school teaches ukulele (!) hula (!) Hawaiian (!) and sustainable agriculture! And it is Waldorf-y!

So I am going to do this teaching, book writing, baby tending, mommying year. Just not the homeschooler part. (Though you can bet your bottom dollar I am going to end up on the PTA by the end of the year HAHAHA)

I have many more things to say about this transition coming up but its all too swirly right now.

So I am trying to get this vision of our new normal into my head. Packing lunches. Out the door by 7:45am (literally one of the most stressful things to think about!) Dropping the kids off at school. Going to my office. Writing on my book. Working on my teaching materials. Baby in the play pen next to me. Sipping iced coffee. Pick up Little Green at noon, go to lunch, run errands together, home for a bit, then pick up the big kids. Homework (!!??) play time, dinner out of the crock pot (or take out!?) Play outside. Books. Bed

Stay tuned for a variety of whirlwind emotions. HA HA.

not sure how this relates except perhaps...the sun is setting on my homeschool days...

Sunday, June 26, 2016

the deep 'eh' of summer

Oh My Gosh Sara. Its only the end of June. Are you really in "eh" already??



I am.

Here is the thing. I like routine, to a point, exciting routine! HA.

And when I wake up to kids immediately asking about TV or ipad games and there is no school work to anchor our day...I kinda lose my grip.


Good question.

My amazing summer list is taped to the wall and pretty much ignored, just a few weeks into summer.

Why, SARA, WHY??

Well. Because mama is tired and lazy. Mama has a baby who loves watching brother and sister, cries when he drops his toys, and refuses to nap if he sees the kids doing anything remotely interesting (no seriously, how do I get this kid to nap in his crib, GAH!!)

My Little Pony and the iPad are saving my sanity right now, is the problem.

Also. We shipped our entire blasted minivan all the way from Minnesota to find out....duh duh DUH...that it needs the ENTIRE transmission replaced (not just HALF a transmission mind you, the ENTIRE THING.)


Dada has been walking to work. At 5am. So the mama can shlep the kids and baby and snacks and ice water to three hours of karate lessons twice a week. (Martial ARTS mom, NOT KARATE)


Okay. Here is the thing about the beach with three kids and a baby and a dada that works nonstop. 1) Its COVERED IN SAND. Everywhere. SAND. 2) Its hot. 3) The big kid goes into the waves and proceeds to give mama a heart attack. (I'm body surfing mom! Really? Because from here it looks like you are TRYING TO DROWN YOURSELF.) 4) That's enough reasons actually.

I haven't been to the beach in two months. Oh, I know I know, I will get back my beach mama mojo soon. Right now though? TOO MUCH.

Did I mention I broke my toe? (Stubbed it on the coffee table, holding a screaming baby, while texting dada the following familiar message - WHERE ARE YOU??)

But. Now to flip it around. Karate, er, martial arts, is saving us this summer. Lots of our friends take their kids and all the moms sit and talk with iced coffee and the instructor is great and the kids are adorably good at it.

And dada is borrowing a moped from a friend for the next several months. No more walking at 5am and we can now go together places as a family, albeit with two vehicles. Costco here I come!

And I actually got appointed an office on campus. (This is a big deal, space is at a premium) AND IT HAS AIR CONDITIONING. This means. Me and baby are heading down there every few days where I plan to put him in a pack n play with tons of toys while I sip iced coffee and mess around on the internet, er, I mean WORK, of course. I can just imagine the cool silence. OMG. HA. YAY ME.

And all that work-y stuff is going pretty well. We are doing a seminar this summer. And I am teaching next spring. Social Justice Advovcacy How to Make A Difference Type Stuff. Its gonna be good.

AND I am actually plugging away at my new novel idea. That's right book number three, for some delusional reason. Somebody gave us an old laptop that only has word processing. Perfect because then I can't be tempted by further perfecting my Amazon shopping cart or flipping through my Facebook feed. Maybe someday this one will be THE ONE?? (I'm still trying to sell book two. Gotta keep the faith, right??)

Writer/social justice lady, here I come.

Our minivan, over on the other side of the island, is in fact fixable and we have a trustworthy mechanic working on it. One day soon, minivan, you shall be MINE, and I shall cry tears of joy at your return!

The pool. SAVES MY LIFE.

What else?

I read an article recently about some study done on the Danish, maybe? Somewhere in Europe. Just their untiring optimism. And how framing how one perceives events in life is so important. For instance, Sure we have to get the house tented for carpenter ants on Tuesday BUT we also get to spend 24 hours as a family on a mini vacation around town, which we have never done. AND no more cockroaches! Yay! (See how good I am at this??)

And best of all...

My little sister, a brilliant rock scientist of some sort, is in between college and grad school and she is ACTUALLY COMING HERE. TO STAY. ALL SUMMER. We are ecstatic. And we are saving all of our camping and hiking and touristing energy up for when she is here along for the ride. YAY AUNTIE MOLLY!

So, you see, with all this. Mama be like, um, do a chore, then fine, GO AHEAD AND WATCH MY LITTLE PONY. Ha.

One can only do so much.

Rock on summer mamas, rock on.

 I took the kids ALL FOUR KIDS to a parade BY MYSELF. My outing as fun mama for the month. HA HA HA

 King Kamehameha!

 I love this picture...

 No seriously, I broke my toe.

 One more episode Mom???

 Out of my front stoop...
 I can't express how blessed I feel by this guy. I find myself taking a picture of him every night after he falls asleep...

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