Friday, November 27, 2009

Happy ThanksBirthday!

Being a late November baby as I am, my birthday always falls on Thanksgiving weekend. I wish I could find the card Laurie made for me when she was about seven years old - complete with a happy birthday girl, a turkey, and a mash-up name for a Thanksgiving birthday. I still have it somewhere... if I find it soon, I'll add it to the post.

Anyway, in spite of the stress I'm carrying around under the surface as mentioned in my last post, I do always feel like I am living my dream. The "problems" I have to solve these days are all a result of choosing this life, and despite the uncertainty and inner turmoil, I am grateful to have the opportunity to work through this all and come up with the next plan.

Thanks for Photos and for Family

Last month I told you we were going out to have a photo session and never came back to it. Well, we recently got our photos, and my friends, they do not disappoint. I can't tell you how special it is for Laurie and I to be captured playing with (read: chasing) the boys. I am filled with such deep emotion seeing the four of us together - you never know how close you will end up to your siblings, and let me tell you, I couldn't even dream up a better sister. To have her with us, to be a part of her developing career as an illustrator (can we say major new wholesale accounts??), to have someone to share the daily joys, laughter, exhaustion, and discovery of my miraculous children with... it is all a gift beyond measure. I know I go on and on about her, but really - how lucky are we? Soooooooooooooooooo lucky!!

up and down the stairs at Portland's Downtown Library
Photo by Nicole Renae

Nicole, our truly lovely friend and photographer, wrote about our session here, and has given me permission to share her photos online. If you're in Portland and want to meet both a fabulous lady and a gifted photographer, give Nicole a call. She's terrific. Here's a flickr set with some additional photos that aren't in either this post or in Nicole's.

reading is fundamental!
we thought the children's room at the library would be a great fit, given our family's culture of loving books.
Photo by Nicole Renae

Auntie and Shoghi signing "bird"
Photo by Nicole Renae

There is such an abundance of things that move me to send my deep thanks up to the heavens: my incredibly supportive parents and brother (and Whitney!), Korin and my amazing community of friends both in Portland and spread out across the country and world, this beautiful place we live... the list is continuously flowing. Thanks to you and all of this goodness from my heart and soul - 36 was a great year. May 37 (for me) bring us all light upon light, joy upon joy. Thanks for being a part of our journey.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

the new normal

I am totally overwhelmed. Today, it seems, nothing is going right -- in fact, I'm so screwed, I am just sitting here on my couch, feeling frozen and unsure of what I can even do.

I hate feeling this way. I look at other women mothering toddler twins and can't imagine how they do it. Keep a clean house? Cook good meals that the babies will actually eat? Keep up with laundry; keep the children from biting or hitting, or otherwise hurting each other; pay the bills; deal with paperwork; create interesting things to do; find a way to earn some money???? I feel like I am failing on every single front.

I am trying to run my Etsy shop and get a marketing workshop organized for January. It's becoming clear to me that this path isn't going to work. Not only am I not making any money - I'm losing it. Re-investing in my shop is turning into a nightmare. Finding time to promote either of these ventures is completely impossible. I want to cry at the thought of it all.

When I was pregnant, I thought of China as my backup plan. If I ran out of money and couldn't find a job, I'd just move back there for a year or so. It's cheap to live, the food is great, work is plentiful, and it's easy to hire a nanny. Now that I have children, moving to another country seems insane. There's no way I can take the boys away from their auntie - their other parent. This morning I was lying in bed with Max, and in the dark he awoke, saying "Mama, Mama, Mama. Auntie, Auntie, Auntie. Shoghi, Shoghi, Shoghi." It was so sweet - that litany of his favorite people. It still amazes me to be at the top of that list. Hell - it amazes me to be ON the list. I'm a mother! Despite the feelings I describe in this post, I am filled with gratitude for even having these problems... to say I love these boys and being their mama doesn't even begin to convey the depth of that emotion.

Anyway, it is just so clear that I have to make this work. Here, in Portland. And "MAKE it work" is what it feels like. Forcing something to happen. "This shop must generate some income;" "This workshop must get off the ground." This feeling of desperation is backfiring, though... I feel everything I try to push into existence full of resistance and refusing to budge. My grad school application got filled out, but when it came to sitting down and articulating my goals, I froze. I tried for weeks. Finally, I gave up and told the admissions coordinator that I'd finish the app for summer session.

This morning was our last day with E, our babysitter who has taken care of the boys on and off since they were about 2 months old. Just thinking of it brings me to tears, not only because of how much the boys and I will miss having her around (she's about to have a baby herself!), but on a very basic level, it simply means that I have no more help. I have no more mornings to sit at the cafe for a couple of hours and organize my thoughts. I have no more time to deal with a job search without the boys pulling at me or threatening to bite me (or each other). I have not been able to afford having her for some months, but the alternative of not having anyone has brought me to keep having her over. That luxury is over, though... I'm not in a position to find someone else.

I just feel like it's all building up to a big disaster. I feel incapable and paralyzed. I feel, every hour, overwhelmed. Sadly, this has become my new normal.

Monday, November 23, 2009

sun kissed

we had some unexpectedly warm, sunny weather today, and the boys were just overjoyed to be released into the yard (still in pjs).

Thursday, November 19, 2009


My little brother is in town! Simon and Whitney came in last night and we've been having such a lovely time visiting, playing and eating! Just for my parents, I wanted to share some of the photos from today. I finally broke down and abandoned my search for the perfect camera - after purchasing 5 new ones, I found my good old FujiFilm E900 on ebay last week. Laurie busted it out today at the park, and the difference really shows.

Shoghi warming up to Uncle Simon.
It took a while, but now he's completely enthralled.

Whitney and Max on the see-saw...

a sweet uncle/nephew moment

Thursday, November 12, 2009

not so blomo

I guess I'm not cut out in my present life for daily blogging. I thought last night that I wouldn't throw in the towel yet, but really what's the point of just putting up a desperate paragraph right before bed? Then I woke up this morning and realized I'd forgotten to publish what little I'd written. So, I guess we're going to go back to old school blogging for now. Maybe next year!

Speaking of next year, I wonder what life will be like. It's one of those times when it's hard to see into the future. The boys will be more than two years old, talking and running and playing in all sorts of new ways. Will they be sleeping solidly enough that they will be back in a room together? I wish for it... wish that they have that brotherly togetherness as soon as possible. Will they be using a potty? Chatting and laughing with each other? Will I still be with them during the day? Running my own business(es) still? In school? Living in this neighborhood? Will I have dated at all? Will I be doing daily yoga? Found a love of cooking? Will we be financially secure? Health insured?

I've been spending a good deal of time giving voice to my dreams and sending any and all forces of momentum to those joyful wishes lately. We are at such a turning point... or at least I am, and the boys are along for the ride.

One of the challenges set before us in Mondo Beyondo was to dare to speak our dreams out loud, so I'm going to put myself on the line here and send my most immediate wish out there - to you, to the Universe, the angels, the goodness and abundance and constant flow of generosity and love that moves in the world. I tell this to you with the hopes that you will cherish and dream this wish for us, too...

I wish to be given a home to live in for the next year.

What a huge dream. What a bold thing to ask for. I so deeply want to be home with my boys for the next year, and having a place to live would give me that opportunity. I don't want to cart them around for other people who only have a care-giver's relationship with them to educate them for this next critical year of their development.

I remind myself that the world is full of possibility, and that there may be just the right person who needs us to care for their home for a year... a reciprocal dream. I remind myself that it is not greedy or lazy or selfish to dream and wish that this could come to us.

Please, friends, wish it with me. A home for a year.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


So, I tried for like 3 hours to upload some new video... my efforts failed miserably! What's up with Blogger video uploading lately, anyway?

Tomorrow Laurie and I are taking the boys out to have a photo session! I'm so excited - it is going to be so special for us all to have some beautiful shots to capture our little family.

I'll tell you all about it tomorrow!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

5 o'clock coffee

It's been 10 (or more??) days of sick babies over here, and I'm feeling the strain. It's not even that they've been terribly sick - just fevers and flu/cold symptoms. But it's been a whiny, clingy, night-sleep disturby enterprise, and now as I'm sure we're close to the end of it, I feel like I'm dragging myself to the finish line.

So I'm just gonna keep it short today, sip some decaf, eat a late dinner, and take something for this headache I've been lugging around all day.

Cheers, internetty friends!

Monday, November 9, 2009

dream schemes

photo and prayer flags by Catherine Just

A group of lady friends has been gathering at our home on Thursday nights. We come together, this small group of tight-knit friends, to set aside a time during the week for hope, for positive change - for our dreams. Over the summer, I had thought about having something like a devotional gathering every week, a time set aside to gather for prayer in whatever way spoke to each participant, and that wish for a positive time of reflection seems to have emerged as our dreamy Thursday nights.

This week, we took inspiration from one of my fellow Mondo Beyondo participants who made a beautiful prayer flag gardland out of her wishes and dreams. You can actually meet Catherine, this wonderful mama and artist, by visiting the blog she keeps about her sweet son Max and their family, or check out her brand spanking new Etsy shop, in which she sells her beautiful prints.

We sat together, seven friends, talking about our wishes, clarifying affirmation statements, envisioning how each of us would design our own prayer flags. I had foolishly thought we'd do this project in an evening, but soon after we started (I have a tendency to seriously underestimate the time it will take to do almost everything), it became clear that this get-togther would only be a jumping off point for us to create such an intimate and meaningful physical manifestation of our deepest desires.

In case you're thinking about creating prayer flags, I thought I'd share not only the photo above, taken by Catherine of her own prayer flags, but two links that have come my way since last Thursday.

The first is an article that gives a how-to for making Tibetan prayer flags with kids.

The second is a lovely blog post about an art installation of a canopy bed, where the canopy is actually made from the white ribbony streamers, each with its own wish. It's so delicate an beautiful - the friend who sent me the link said she's thinking about doing her prayers this way, and hanging them in a tree. How gorgeous - I just love the image of her words - her dreams - being carried in the wind like that.

How do you give voice to your dreams?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

don't panic!

I'm not much of a goof, but I came across this photo from back in '02 and thought you might enjoy it, since I'm too exhausted to say anything else, and trying not to let panic or desperation set in as we get deeper into November.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

waiting for the miracle to come

While the boys snooze upstairs after a long, feverish day (for Max, now), Laurie and I are working into the night in preparation for her very first craft fair!

There are so many dreams and miracles in the gestation phase right now - I can't wait to start telling you about their fruition!

This rainbow today seemed a glimmer of the beautiful things to come.

Friday, November 6, 2009

friday randomness

It shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that by Friday I haven't an organized thought left in my head. Combine that with Max spiking a fever today and napping very little, and I got a little scared I wouldn't get my posting done. Fortunately, bedtime was mercifully easy tonight, and the little munchkins are sleeping already. Thought I'd just show you a few photos from the week. I have a new post up here, too, fyi!

 our first time fingerpainting! 

 there was much eating of the fingerpaint...

 Max finally learned how to stick out his tongue!

 Shoghi, where are your teeth?

 why do bark chips and random pieces of cement remain interesting to eat??? 

cutest brothers on the block!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

clip, snip!

At just 3 days shy of 15 months old, Max and Shoghi had their first haircuts today. We went to Rudy's Barbershop, and had the woman who cuts my hair do the honors. The boys sat way up high on the old fashioned chair and handled themselves really well. No crying or fear - it was awesome!

Max just got a little trim in the back, mostly for the sake of the twin brothers hitting this milestone on the same day. 

 first up!

bye-bye baby mullet!

Shoghi was really quite shaggy, and his bangs were bothering him all the time. I thought perhaps his future self wouldn't approve of me putting barrettes in his hair. I wanted to preserve the curls, though, so we didn't go too short.

this morning

 little mister shaggerton


It's strange and beautiful to see them with their little haircuts - I love them!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

learning curves

As you know, I'm trying to step it up in the work-from-home department. Thanks for your suggestions (mostly involving coffee and working at night) last week on my wahm craziness post. I've resolved that November is the Be All and End All month - the month where I will kick ass daily, get all sorts of new products and designs into Bamboo Village Press, prepare for January's Marketing Your Micro-Business workshop, participate in NaBloPoMo on this blog, update the Bamboo Village Blog regularly, complete my grad school application, and enjoy every single (fleeting) hour remaining with my wonderful friend and babysitter, who will be beginning her life as a mama in December. All the while I will be sending calming affirmations to myself, trying not to give in to the mounting breathlessness and a tendency to tense up my shoulders, neck, and back. "Everything is Easy," I will say to myself. "I have plenty of time to get everything done well and be a great mama to the boys."

Yesterday I decided to be daring and do some silk screening without the help of a second adult in the house. I began while the  boys were napping, and was still printing when Max woke up, so into the highchair he went. It didn't last long, but I probably got another 20 prints done.

The downside of multi-tasking came when I was prepping the screen. This was to be a 2-color design - a small print on some gorgeous, nubby handmade paper. I burned the screen only to discover a fatal error - I did not use a carbon-based pen for much of the design. Alas, this meant ruining a 15 dollar screen (my last one) and wasting a large amount of time. Oh well, you live and you learn, right? Better luck tomorrow, Mama!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


Toddler eating is getting to be a little crazy-making in our home. No, the throwing hasn't really begun (and please, Lord let it not!), but picky eaters? Spitting out food? Dropping loads of painstakingly-prepared food onto the floor? Oh, my yes.

The favorite food group by far is fruit. These boys would eat only fruit all day long if I let them. The canned peaches I put up are going fast, and the 20 pounds of blueberries we picked and froze are eaten up already. Next spring I am seriously going to have to invest in a chest freezer to put up many times more than what I did this year. Max signs peach, apple, pear, and grape with glee, squeals for berries and apricots, and tucks into whatever fruit I set before him with great enthusiasm.

Last week, zucchini sauteed in garlic was the only veggie I could get them to eat; this week, they won't have anything to do with it.  Last night I made a seriously fabulous sweet potato dish that they wouldn't touch. The most frustrating part is the whining and clingyness that descends upon our home after 4pm -- prime time for dinner making. Shoghi wants only to be in my arms - he has a great fascination with chopping, cooking, and the stove. When I put him down he cries bitter tears and bites my legs. I had to stop wearing him in the ergo last week when he bit my shoulder so hard I wondered if he was going to come away with a mouthful of flesh. That wasn't one of my prettiest mama moments, lemme tell ya.

So, after practicing mindfulness, patience, and measured breathing for the better part of an hour (or more) at the end of a long day, when we sit down to eat and they won't take more than 2 bites of whatever I have cooked, I find myself feeling rather grumpy. I crack open another jar of pears; I spoon out yet another bowl of yogurt. Goldfish, anyone? I remember reading recently that toddlers have gotten most of their calories already during the day, so dinner doesn't need to be too big, and I remind myself that dinner can actually be the smallest meal of the day... but then I put them to bed with anxieties of them waking up in the middle of the night, and so I beg them to take one bite more.

So, in the spirit of leaving these exploring, blossoming little beings who are developing opinions and preferences to their little devices, I thought we'd take a moment to share some yummies that the grown-ups will certainly enjoy. Let toddler have yogurt and fruit only... we have other things to eat!

First, I give you this cookbook: Feeding the Whole Family: Cooking with Whole Foods which I read about over the summer. I adore this book, from its lovely cover art, to its explanations of cooking whole grains, to its pages of inspiring recipes that I can't wait to try. I've made the maple nut granola so many times already - it's becoming a weekly activity. It is so good, it's worth getting the book just for that.

Second, I thought that you might appreciate the wonderfully delicious sweet potato dish I concocted last night, so here you have it:

Carmelized Sweet Potatoes with Pine Nuts

2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
1 small onion, chopped
1T minced or grated ginger
dry rosemary
olive oil
2T honey
1/4c pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste

Steam sweet potatoes in a basket steamer for approximately 10 minutes, or until fork tender, set aside.

While the sweet potatoes are steaming, carmelize the chopped or sliced onion in 1T of butter and 1T olive oil and a dash of salt. Cook over medium heat to slowly soften, then brown the onion. When onion is almost done, add a pinch of crushed, dry rosemary and ginger, continuing to sautee until onion is nicely done.

In a separate dry pan, roast pine nuts until light brown and fragrant. Set aside when done. 

Increase heat to medium-high, adding more oil if necessary to ensure that the sweet potatoes will be well-coated after adding. When the pan it hot, add sweet potatoes and then honey, turning to cover with oil/onion. Allow to cook slowly and brown, stirring every few minutes, adjusting heat as necessary.Salt and pepper to taste.

When there's a nice brown crust on the potatoes, add the pine nuts. Garnish with parsley if desired.

Let me know if you try it - I'd love to hear what you think! And if you have any toddler favorite recipes or tips, bring em on - I beg of you!

Bon apetit!

Monday, November 2, 2009

black ops

(I'm just going to announce here that I'm attempting to participate in this November's NaBloPoMo. Not really sure if I'll succeed in putting up a blog post every day, but I'm committing myself to it now!)

I've been wanting to tell you for a while that I'm taking an online course about Dreaming Big... it's called Mondo Beyondo, and is taught by two amazing women Jen and Andrea - and I learned about Andrea in the summer issue of Artful Blogging. Way back in Week 1 of the course, we were tasked with sharing some of the affirmations we were given. I sort of sat on this assignment for a while, waiting until I felt a Calling to put one out there. Some people left them in library books on Post-It notes... others left slips of paper in cafes or on bulletin boards.

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I knew what I was going to do - write out one of the affirmations on the driveway of my close friends and neighbors. The days went by, though... I wasn't sure which one to write. These friends have had such a challenging year - so many unforseen expenses, so many changes in course, so much bad news... I didn't want to put something there that would seem shallow.

One night, as I lay in bed waiting for Max to fall asleep, on a day of more hardship for these friends, it came to me. I came downstairs and told Laurie what I was going to do. She stayed with the sleeping boys while I gathered up the sidewalk chalk and my camera and took a nighttime stroll to their house a few blocks away.

Something Greater Is Holding You

I felt so much joy and excitement, kneeling on the driveway, leaning on the chalk to leave them a message of love in the night. I imagined Ryan finding it in the morning on his way out to work. I thought of Korin coming across it when she came out to bring her daughter to school... and it felt so GOOD to be able to do something unexpected, something lively and joyful and "unnecessary". The night air, being alone, doing something creative - it really was a great exercise in service.

This week, I bought a huge tub of sidewalk chalk. I have a feeling my days of evening graffiti writing are only just beginning...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

pajama day

 Yesterday we had a pjs day here at our house. Max has held his resistance this time, but Shoghi was completely miserable for a couple of days. I actually debated taking him to the hospital, he was so wheezy and ill. He really missed his Auntie, and kept her scarf wrapped around his neck all day. There was a lot of cuddling, and lots of Sesame Street and Baby Signing Time. Max, our little TV lover, was thrilled to no end to get to watch so much, while Shoghi just wanted to be held.