10 May 2009

Sit, Mama.

we celebrated mother's day on saturday because of jeremy's work schedule, and because we are busily packing today for a trip to houston to visit my mom tomorrow. hooray!

this mother's day feels different for a few reasons. the living room is strewn with trains, pieces from a toy doctor kit, building blocks, and little plastic trucks. eli has grown into such a little boy, a busy, curious one, who without prompting will wrap his little arm around my neck as we sit on the sofa or pat the cushion next to him and say, "sit mama, sit." it is evident that his greatest sense of joy comes when the three of us are together as a family. i am fortunate to have such an involved husband who spends so much time with our son; there is always much togetherness.

so it is different because eli has grown and changed, become more of a boy with all of the grubbiness and diligence and energy the word implies. he has also become even more tender-hearted and sweet. he still loves to be rocked to sleep, switching shoulders every few minutes for variety. if one of us runs out to the store for a bit, he'll heartily pat us when we return, saying, "Home Dada! HOME!" just to reassure himself that we've come back and to make certain we know he's glad about it.

this year is also different because now we've got another baby on the way! it feels odd to wrap my mind around being a mother of two, but i can hardly wait for this next phase of adventure and a new little life to fill our home.

yesterday began with coffee, of course, in my favorite mug with the poppies that my mom gave to me a few years ago. eli shouted, "happy birthday mommy!" as i was escorted into the next room for sweet mother's day cards, a beautiful purple orchid, and a box of art supplies. my husband knows and loves me so well, it's humbling.

after a busy day of errands, lunch, and gardening, J made the best dinner for us. everything (except the spinach salad, which might have been the tastiest salad i've ever eaten----is food always that much better when someone else makes it? this must be one of the laws of gastronomy) was grilled with cowboy charcoal on our patio: marinated steak, cobs of corn with the husks in tact and slightly charred, a fat yellow onion, and mountain bread brushed with olive oil. so delicious and homemade and summery. 

after dinner, as eli slept, we went out onto the front porch with small bowls of dulce de leche ice cream and sat on the swing, listening to the music filtering through the trees from main street. it was a clashing of bluegrass and something else coming from two neighboring "bars" but it sounded nice and went well with Haagen-Dazs. 

the air outside was perfect too. we just breathed in and felt thankful and dreamed about our future rose garden. then the mosquitos came around and i heard eli calling from upstairs. i opened his door and in the bit of light spilling from the hallway i could see him standing there, hair rumpled, clutching all of his luggage: a stuffed lamb, his pillow, two blankets, and his sippy cup. "want sleep with mama now," he said. 

well, maybe just this once. afterall, it was my birthday.  

03 May 2009


Being holed up inside the house like a termite for days upon days is never good for anyone, especially when you’re coming off a bad head cold and really need to see something (any thing) besides a box of tissues. But we’ve had endless rain since almost the precise moment I started to feel better. I am tempted, at this point, to take a cue from my friend Alison, bundle Eli up in his sunshine yellow rain slicker, shake his rubber boots free of slugs, and venture out in search of suitable puddles for sloshing. We may just do that this afternoon.

Until then we have windows, and as I look around out there, it’s almost as if I live in a slightly less quaint, less cobblestoned, Irish countryside. The fog is thick on the hills, a canopy over the verdant landscape popping out with every make of tree, frond, weed, and leaf imaginable. It’s almost like a rainforest, and I half expect to see a toucan or some sort of exotic monkey perched from above, instead of the wide-winged hawks that usually hover overhead when the sky is visible.

It would almost be dreary if it weren’t so beautiful, the contrast of thick milky mist and brand new twists of fresh green life springing forth.

Beauty aside, we are weary of being indoors, Eli with his train set on the coffee table, me with my shopping list as I scour the internet for intriguing recipes. While we long to go out, the ants are seeking refuge from the flood, squeezing in through narrow cracks around the kitchen windows and marching in diligent formation toward the breadbox.

My friend Katy wrote an entry about a rainy day, curled up in pajamas with a book and a perfect little snack. It reminded me that a day like this, even if it seems, at first, to be an annoying repeat of the past four you’ve had, can be full of sweetness and warmth if you know where to look.

Before Jeremy left for work today, I made us lunch. I thought we needed something semi-gourmet but comforting at the same time. A can of Campbell’s condensed tomato soup would hardly do, and we were down to the last heel of bread. I ventured out beyond the rainforest and returned home with ingredients for one of our favorite now-extinct sandwiches. We used to order it at JJ’s Market, back when we were dating, before the place was sold to less ambitious cooks. I replicated the recipe in our kitchen as best I could:

Slice a croissant lengthwise and open flat. Layer with very thinly-sliced green apple, narrow strips of rotisserie chicken (JJs got their chicken from a Japanese restaurant across the street so I had to make do), thin wedges of creamy havarti cheese (I was supposed to use Brie, but close enough), and a few squirts of grainy honey mustard. Place it under the broiler for a minute or two until the cheese is oozy, and wa-la! A perfect sandwich for a rainy day.

We ate at the small kitchen table while Eli nibbled on leftover apple wedges and bits of cheese since I’d already fed him lunch. The dog paced the floor, looking for remnants.

Once J had rolled down the gravel drive to go, the two of us waving to him as raindrops splashed our palms, it was time to flee for the covers. I filled Eli’s favorite sippy cup and piled a soft extra blanket in his crib. He didn’t protest naptime as much as usual, and I can hear him in there now, chirping away with his plush-filled friends, singing little songs. I love witnessing his imagination from beyond closed doors, where I can only hear him laughing to himself and to make-believe companions, conjuring simple stories and engaging his mind to wonder and believe in things far beyond what he can see. This is some sort of early practice in having a bit of faith, I think. It’s also the reason I’m okay with Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy and don’t get hung up on the notion that I’m telling my child a lie. I don’t know who I’d be today without having learned to hold tightly to the end of that string as my imagination pulled me every which way and beyond. [I had kind of a bookish, stringent phase in my faith years ago, and while the knowledge was good, helpful, even formative, I felt a little heart-deflated after awhile. It seemed less like love and more like geometry. And I was terrible at geometry.]

I digress.

I’m in my favorite rainy afternoon spot: our cozy grey half-done bedroom. I pulled a curtain to conceal the un-renovated portion and to make this feel more like a cocoon. On the bedside table, there’s a sample-size grapefruit and hyacinth candle that I won at Alice’s baby shower for coming in second in a game of Name That Tune. I haven’t burned it yet, but I leave the little tin lid off so the citrus-scented wax fills my quadrant of the room. Lately I’ve been finding it the best, most comforting smell in the world so I am hesitant to light the wick and send it burning into nothingness. This may sound odd, but actually, these days, I really cannot get enough of grapefruit in any form. I buy, at minimum, two fruits a week and slice them open in the morning, eagerly scooping out their bittersweet coral flesh with a demitasse spoon and drinking the yummy juice left in the rind. I must be Vitamin C deficient following the sinus cold.

It’s 4 pm now, and the prospect of him actually sleeping seems iffy. He’s chattering away contentedly and a bit softer though, so I might read awhile to see if he drifts off. Currently, I am reading two books at once, which for me is a never-do. One is a classic, kind of ragged and heartwarming and innocent. The other is scarcely a literary masterwork but it’s keeping me amused and maybe even mildly, if somewhat shallowly, inspired. Also, Nora Ephron is making a movie out of it (with Meryl Streep no less) so how awful can it be? Depending on my mood, I flip between the two books. For the past several days with all the rain, I’ve concentrated more on the latter; I can’t really take ragged and heartwarming when there are so many clouds surrounding my house.

As luck would have it, we’re being forced to get out of here soon, sickness/rain or not. It’s almost vacation time and I’m grateful. First, a trip to Texas for my mom’s dinners-to-knock-your-socks-off, and to pick up some of my father’s things. Which reminds me. During the ceaseless rain of Friday’s entirety, I took a long nap and had a sweet little dream that I was with my dad in his backyard. He looked good and healthy, and we just talked about nothing in particular except that I was glad he was alive and that the backyard looked really nice. Funny as it sounds, I love these dreams, simple as they are, because it’s the closest I can come (insert imagination) to spending time with him in real life.

I woke up kind of happy and sad mixed together. Eli had just woken up too, so I scooped him up and said, "I just had the nicest dream about your grandfather." He looked at me with his big brown sleepy eyes, and said, “Can we go see him now?” Being hazy from such a deep rest, I burst into sporadic tears, but not in a way that scared him. He just continued on talking about apple juice and trucks, and chirping affectionately at Gottie--his beloved stuffed lamb. I held him in my lap as tightly as I could and pushed my face into his soft brown hair that smelled ever so faintly of grapefruit.