Friday, March 27, 2009

Grace in Small Things 13:365

1. House concerts where one can see/hear/sit up close.

2. Avalon Organics "weightless, nourishing" baby lotion.

3. Cool rainy air.

4. New England folk songs both lyrical and humorous.

5. Cheap but durable flat-front khaki pants.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Grace in Small Things 12:365

1. Soap floating on top of bath water in marbleized, fractal patterns.

2. Keeping up with far-away friends.

3. Clothes kept in circulation by friends and thrift stores.

4. Super-duper stain-lifting clothing treatment.

5. Whole-wheat tortilla chips.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Grace in Small Things 11:365

1. The happiness of seeing loved ones you haven't seen in a while.

2. Chili-cheese tamales wrapped in corn husks.

3. Cats curling up in boxes to keep me company in the office.

4. A nicely-made work-horse art pencil sharpener that's still good after 25+ years.

5. "Love is never wasted."

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Grace in Small Things 10:365

1. Pink clouds of tree blossoms in the distance.

2. Spicy Indian takeout that calls itself "mild."

3. Silencing rusty, squeaky hinges with the application of
a little 3-in-1 household oil.

4. Glowing baby smiles.

5. Little vintage cut-glass bowls to hold anything and everything.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The New Normal

After the previous couple of months with a sooner-than-expected newborn, I'm starting to work my way back to some sense of normalcy. Scratch that. What I am really doing is establishing/exploring a *new* normalcy!

So instead of going dancing every Friday night, I am evaluating when the next feeding should be, or whether one of us can make it for part of the dance, and if so, which part and which week. Or what the logistics are of us both getting to go. Or just when I'll be able to crawl into my pajamas...

Instead of taking every gig that comes my way and happily packing up my schedule, I'm having to carefully guess whether I will be able to pull off traveling/working on a given day/location. And how far and how soon? And what is Mr Sweetie's schedule like so that he can come with and/or baby-wrangle meanwhile?

Instead of responding to any misbehavior, wail, or request for snuggles from the cats, I hiss or coo at them from afar, batt my eyes at them with my lap full, trail a hand over the side of the chair so that they can catch a back stroke, or ignore their fighting and shenanigans outright.

Instead of taking long hours doing errands, reading scifi novels, or digging in the yard, I negotiate when MS can take the baby so I can run by the grocery store at midnight, wrestle with the carrier and/or sling, snatch a few pages during an extended feeding, and throw bulbs and plants into the ground in 15 minutes of desperation and inspiration.

Instead of taking the evening off to go out to dinner and/or watch a video, we are taking turns eating some semblance of dinner or lunch or that long-neglected breakfast, and talk about maybe seeing the movie we've had for months *this* week. Maybe this afternoon. Maybe next month.

Instead of sleeping in on our Saturday mornings, snuggling and talking, we pass each other in the hall as we trade feeding shifts, catching fleeting, half-awake hugs and kisses in the hallway, and asking each other: what day is it again?

Instead of taking hours to contemplate and write out and edit a blog post, I either type it out with one hand in dribbles of minutes over days, or I hack it out in a rush, for as long as I can stand it, before the next big poop comes along. So much for editing.

Instead of sacking out on the couch reading the paper or a good book, weighed down by a happily purring cat, I am enscounced in The Chair with The Baby for the umpteenth feeding of the day (they all blur together), and propping my eyelids open. Or better, spending hours gazing with adoration at the baby's perfect skin, her delicate fingers, seeking her fleeting expressions or contented noises, marveling over how her hair floats over her head and changes color depending on the light, wondering who she will be when she gets older, who she will resemble more once the baby fat subsides. And hardly bearing to tear myself away when I need to sleep.

So yes, this is the new normal.

I know things will smooth out soon or eventually, but for now, it's a whole new learning curve.

Today I took the baby to a workshop I wanted to go to by a visiting expert. In the past, I'd not only be there early, but I'd help my friend organize and promote it. I'd be thinking about what I wanted to get out of it, and target a few skills to acquire, explore, and practice. Yeah, sure!

Today, I worked on a few more skills.

How to shuttle a baby in a carrier, two bags and a water bottle through the rain. Several times. I made a make-shift rain barrier by throwing my large-brimmed hat onto the part of the baby not covered by the expandable roof. I adjusted the Panda Mirror so I could monitor her situation from the front seat. I practiced asking for help.

I explored putting the baby in the sling after entering the hall and after I returned to the car. Before, she's still half asleep. After, she's still content. Maximize the sling time if at all possible!

I practiced keeping her happy and not-too-noisy during the workshop. I covered her head and cooed at her. I jiggled, I paced, I apologized. I went out on the dripping porch in the rainy mess when her volume conflicted with the lecture. And felt part fool and part mother. This is what you have to do sometimes.

I experienced the awkwardness of arriving way, way late after not only gathering the last minute items but also wandering about the county in a sleep-deprived state, spending 45 minutes driving up and down *the wrong road* trying to find the place.

And then of feeling alltogether proud and shy and conspicuous because OMG! It's the baby! Who has barely been seen in public! And she's adorable! And she's making noise! It's like traveling with a celebrity. Who does not get the social conventions. You're thrilled to be seen in their company, but not sure if other people are so tolerant of their quirks. (Mostly, people were thrilled to catch a glimpse of her.)

I also experienced the panic of having a crying baby wanting her next meal as I frantically drove home, singing to her and kicking myself for not feeding her before we headed back into the rainy mess. I tapped into skills I never knew I had, and made up a song on the spot in an attempt to calm her. Next time, next time...

Next time, I'll do better, I swear. Next time, it'll be another challenge.

I'm setting myself goals and challenges. Take the baby to the grocery store. Oo! Live on the edge, huh? Go crazy; take the baby on a hike or to the thrift store! Put her in the sling. Juggle the chores with one hand. Visit out in public. Go to a dance. And does she like to dance?

Today I danced a little with the baby in the sling, sung along with the beat telling her: You remember this, you heard this for months!, and heard advice and reminiscences from the workshop leader about when she carried her own daughter to dances and gigs. Not bad. Doable. What's next? Another outing. Another downpour. Another experience. Another challenge in the new normal.

Now I gotta go. The baby's gotta eat. After that, I might catch a nap. The oatmeal and dish water has been cold for hours. I know, I know. It's my new normal. And when I get to gaze at that little fluffy baby head and snuggle my little girl's sleepy-squirmy body, it's the best.

Grace in Small Things 9:365

1. Sling, baby sling.

2. A small grey fox streaking across a suburban road at dusk, tail streaming behind.

3. Vivid jewel tones good enough to eat because it IS food.

4. Lithium long-life batteries for electronic equipment.

5. Soft pink camellias blooming, triangles of petals in the center, waiting to open.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Grace in Small Things 8:365

1. Chocolate-covered raisins.

2. Blue-jays calling and robins whinnying, making everything sound sunny.

3. Taking that walk to the shops within convenience.

4. Finding all kinds of UUs online.

5. Rumi's lyrics in song:
Come, come, whoever you are
Wanderer, worshipper, lover of leaving
Ours is no caravan of despair
Come, yet again, come

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Grace in Small Things 7:365

1. Finding just the book we were looking for at the used book store.

2. Free gifty things.

3. Warm-cool breezy air against the skin.

4. Whole wheat capellini pasta that cooks in only 3 minutes.

5. Old Ontario tune "Rattle on the Stovepipe" with new lyrics (by Flapjack):
Last night I heard the lake ice creaking
Morning brought the first warm breeze
Snow is melting off the rooftops
Sap is running in the trees

We're dancing 'cause the ground is muddy,
Laughing for the longer days
Strum the banjo, squeeze the squeeze-box,
Grab the spoons
And start to play:

Rattle on the stovepipe
Bootjack Jews-harp
Rattle on the stovepipe
Bootjack Joe...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Scenes From My Kitchen Table

A container of combined Cadbury milk chocolate eggs and Hershey's meltaway eggs, an empty container of chocolate n almond lace cookies, packages of yellow Easter peeps and chocolate mousse bunny peeps.

Two over-ripe bananas, two nearly-ripe avocados, four sweet potatoes past their prime, a tin of leftover Christmas cookies, a few sheets of leftover Christmas paper, my pizelle press.

A household budget book, a hand-held solar-powered calculator, a pen, and a card box full of receipts that need to be entered, a small stack of newspaper coupons.

Two large, square plastic boxes of breast-pump parts and bottle parts that are not currently in use, a clean towel with clean bottle parts laid out, the spare nipple shield, a microwave steam-clean bag for sterilizing parts, a pair of tongs for moving clean hot parts.

An extra large container of powdered formula, a small plastic box with a bottle of infant anti-gas drops and eyedropper for administering drops, unopened prescription eye drops, a damp baby washcloth, pre/post-natal vitamins.

A folded paper towel, formula dust, a silver-plated butter knife, a tall drinking glass, a small yellow plate with wavy edges and bread crumbs.

Ten packages of soft, brightly colored "sculpty" oven-bake clay.

Sunlight, dust motes.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Grace in Small Things 6:365

1. The extra-rich layer at the top of a container of whole-milk yogurt.

2. Summery warm temperatures after winter weather.

3. Chance contacts & a chance to make some ones afternoon with an appreciative email out of the blue.

4. Cheerful sunflower stamps.

5. A baby wiggling around and actually enjoying a warm water bath.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Better Now Than Never

I'm taking a crash course in the Do It Now philosophy. If I have a spare moment or more, I'm learning to do those things I need to do NOW. If I wait, the moment's gone, so gather ye rosebuds, eat breakfast, write a thought, etc. while ye may.

This has necessitated a clarity about my priorities that I sometimes don't have. Such as: do I eat or sleep or spent time on facebook connecting with friends? It's not always an easy choice (I need both for sanity).

Our latest sleep book tells us that chronically lacking sleep can bring on an overtired state, in which adrenaline not only keeps one moving past fatigue, but then prevents one from resting or sleeping when such time is available.

Oh, I can feel it. Last night, I lay awake for nearly half an hour, even though I had been craving sleep for the previous 24 hours. Similar things have happened to me when I was in school, where coffee made it impossible for me to take advantage of the time I was awake. I need to use every moment I can get my hands on!

So I'm practicing using those moments where ever and whenever I find them, and using them for what I really need. What I need is always sleep, but it's also wiping down the kitchen table, washing another bottle, getting dressed, getting a bite to eat, sweeping the floor.

Here I am talking about my routines again. Heck, yes, I'm also talking about maintenance! But my usual routines are fragmented. My time is shredded. Instead of an hour or fifteen minutes, I'm working with three minutes or a half hour that may end at any moment.

And even beyond routines, how much of a post can I write in one minute? How much can I edit images in 5 minutes? How quickly can I set up the sewing machine-calculator-desktop-kitchen so that I am ready to undertake something creative the next time a spare five minutes appears?

It's a daily version of living your life as if you may die any day. I can eat now, but at any moment, the baby may wake up and demand attention.

Seize the moment! Write that post!*

*Yes, even if it takes you all week.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Grace in Small Things 5:365

1. The King's Last Song, a marvelous novel set in both ancient and modern Cambodia by Geoff Ryman.

2. Sturdy plastic packaging bags with zippers and snaps that can be reused.

3. A fresh budget book

4. Soft pink terry cloth.

5. Short snows that make everything look pretty and hushed, forcing everyone to slow down, that then melt and let Spring back in the door.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Grace in Small Things 4:365

1. Chubby yet delicate baby fingers

2. Blueberry-banana-walnut muffins

3. Sunlight glancing off of snow, car chrome, and ice-melt puddles

4. Plum and lavender-colored clothing

5. A bonus amaryllis bloom

Monday, March 2, 2009

Grace in Small Things 3:365

1. Leftover chocolate fondue

2. Flocks of birds picking over the holly berry trees

3. Cute baby sweaters that someone gave us that actually fit

4. Automatic overdrafts with no fee

5. Yellow daffodils from my sister's yard