January 22, 2015

Productivity


If at the beginning of December my mind was a flat slab of dirt and pretty much devoid of anything else, today that flat slab has been worn into a trench ringed around a massive pile of thoughts. Hello, my name is Sarah, and I am an mental pacer.

I can't say what particularly I've been encircling. I suppose I could pick each thought off the pile and study it and name it; but mostly it's all blurred into one mountain rather than individual pieces. There are the starts of thoughts and the ends of thoughts and thoughts that repeat in some annoying pattern, though each recurring version looking a bit more tattered since it has been mulled over again and again.

This is a certain kind of block--writerly, yes, and also, just a human kind. I'm sure there's work to be done on the mountain, and I'm sure there isn't. So while I'm terribly annoyed that the pacing hasn't been productive, I figure, at least it's exercise. 

January has been busy and terribly lazy. It's been full of good news and frustration. There are nine days left and I'm tired, but my heart is full. Next year, just remind me that this is how I feel every January. 

December 30, 2014

2015


As big as 2014 was, I can say with all honesty that I will end it with little reflection. The events of this year have been so big, maybe they speak for themselves. Then again, in many ways, it's been months of transition and adjustment. And while I'm so looking forward to the fresh start that first page of a new calendar brings, I'm also fine with today too. Maybe that's the single reflection: I'm good with today. Yesterday was unbelievable, tomorrow is exciting. Today is good. 

With that in mind, and with simply calling this year at face value, I recognize this shift in myself too. I'm not so concerned with the girl I used to be; and while I have dreams for the future, the present will do. I feel like an adult living her adult life. It doesn't eliminate the need or desire for self-study, but changes the means by which I conduct such a review. My thoughts and observations are free to float in and out, and the real ones get stuck in my heart. Those are the mighty and familiar ones, like parts of me rather than notions I better get down to organize and nurture. 

2015 presents itself less like THE YEAR OF SOMETHING and instead, just a year. It is another stretch of time as this person I am in this life I am living. I have things I hope to accomplish, places I wish to see, and, yes, of course, resolutions I hope to make a part of my daily life. Such is human nature. But the pressure is off. Whether or not those things get done or those destinations are visited or if I drink enough water each day, I am feeling comfortable in my skin and called to such a time as this.

As it turns out, contentedness feels a lot less complacent than I had once feared it might. A few weeks ago, I sorted through old photos to put into an album (I've been cataloging prints from each year since we were married--a collection that will be special to me, but I think will be even more special to the girls). I studied a photo of me and Iris for a good long while. It was a candid shot: Me, very pregnant with Edith, and Iris donning her once trademark pigtails and sparkly gold Oxfords. Now that seems so long ago it's like it was barely real. And though I know I was struggling with career choices or financial concerns or troubles in a personal relationship at the time, all that was captured in that shady light was perfect happiness. It occurred to me that, if we let it, life simply is like the photographs. We store up snapshots of these simple, serene moments, that maybe when we're in them mean almost nothing, but down the road they mean everything. 

So now I know, whether 2015 is like this last year, full of incredible and big life changes, or if it's simply a whisper, it will be important. It will be full. It will make a mark with its own album of silly prints and called as joyful as all the others. This is the grace I hope to extend to the year, the grace I hope to extend to others, the grace I hope to give myself. 

If 2015 must be THE YEAR OF SOMETHING, let it be the year of grace. Let it be the year we learned to be gracious and the year we learned to be graceful. Grace is what turns nothing to SOMETHING. 

December 16, 2014

It's Christmas Time in the City

*Brief notes to The New York record, because the city is full of new life now that it's Christmas, and we've been running all over the place trying to soak it up!



Swedish Cottage, Central Park
We took a field trip with Iris's school to the Swedish Cottage Marionette Theater in Central Park. We'd had the chance to see one of the company's productions during their mobile Brooklyn shows this summer; but going to the cottage and watching with several dozen other mesmerized kids was the best. Sure, marionettes can be basically creepy; but the cottage is kitchy and whimsical, and the holiday production really was brilliant. Afterward, the puppeteers showed the kids how the puppets work, which was really interesting too.


FAO Schwartz
LaTonya texted me last minute one day and asked if we wanted to go to FAO Schwartz. And I said, "Why not?!" because FAO Schwartz is not the kind of trip you make on your own with two kids; but if you go with your kids and the greatest of friends and her kids, then it's the best day. The best day at FAO Schwartz is basically just Christmas spirit incarnate--posing with the tin soldier guys, playing the giant piano like you're showing Tom Hanks what's up, stopping for treats on the way home. We hit the place during the week in the middle of the day, and I think that was wise. I imagine the crowd during peak hours is too thick to push a stroller through.


5th Avenue Shops
Our Advent calendars have always included car trips to see the lights (the downtown Denver displays were always over the top). We went back and forth this year: Should we drive? Should we walk? One night when we were all too exhausted to do anything else, we pushed up our drive night and hopped in the car with no real plan. The girls are just as excited about a single strand of twinkle lights carelessly draped over a deli awning as they are anything. But we head for the city and found ourselves cruising 5th Avenue with the masses, and it was so amazing. We couldn't have timed it better for the lights show in front of Saks, and I love nothing more than peeping windows like a spy (except not really a spy since looking in these windows is the entire point). I'm hoping we find time to walk by the shop windows for a closer look!







Macy's Santaland
If you know me well enough to know how embarrassingly obsessed I am with Miracle on 34th Street (1994 version, guys! I know!), then you know what a dream this is for me. I've spent the greater chunk of my life imagining an old-fashioned Christmas in the city, and now here I am and I'm dragging my kids through every fantasy I ever had about it. BUT! Macy's Santaland is so, so very worth it. (Early on a weekday is the way to go, if you can swing it.) The setup is breathtaking and fascinating and magical! We all loved it (and especially me)!

December 12, 2014

Fiercely Fab Glam Party








With major thanks to Fiercely Fab, I got to take my beautiful girl on the most amazing mommy-daughter date a week or so ago. Fiercely Fab hosted their first pop-up Glam Party in NYC, and they invited Iris and I to check out the goodness. And was it ever good!

After Saturday brunch with friends in Fort Green, Iris and I dressed ourselves up (and bundled up too--FREEZING) and head into Manhattan. The very act of going was already exciting for Iris because she knew she was skipping her rest time. We rode three trains like champs and wound through the touristy crowds of Midtown before climbing the stairs to the dreamiest art space where Fiercely Fab was all set up. 

"Welcome, Iris," all the ladies said and escorted her to the make-up table first. Oh, the look on her face. It was the kid-equivalent of me at the spa. She was ready to be pampered, and I could tell she loved pretending that she was grown-up (which is so fun to watch and also hard in a way, but, you know, mom stuff). She picked out pink eyeshadow and purple glitter, naturally, and topped it off with a sparkly lip gloss. "Look this way!" we'd call out to snap a picture, and she would pose so poised and serious like she felt regal. Heart melt.

I'd already done up her hair in braids, but the ladies added a generous showering of glitter spray so Iris didn't miss any glam.

And then it was time for a manicure. Not like, "Here, kid, choose some glitter polish." But a real manicure. They shaped her nails and she chose a lotion for her hand massage. Iris so matter-of-factly directed which colors were to go on which nails--almost bossy, but mostly self-assured. Girl knows what she likes, and the Fiercely Fab women couldn't get enough of it, they assured me. 

Once she was all dolled up, Iris joined the other party-goers in front of the mirrors, checking herself out, playing with balloons, and dancing to good old T.Swift.

Lest you think it couldn't get any better, we stopped for some Sprinkles before heading home.

I really love being a mom to girls. I love being in a place where things like this happen. I love knowing the sweetness in my daughter that confirms a can of glitter spray and a chocolate cupcake makes LITERALLY THE BEST DAY EVER. Thank you, so much, Fiercely Fab for such an experience!

New Yorkers, keep your eye out for the next pop-up Glam Party by following Fiercely Fab on Instagram. (And keep in mind that they do private parties and birthday celebrations too!)

December 10, 2014

#momlife


People of the world are ridiculous. I think that no matter how long I am a mother, I will never get used to other people thinking that being such makes my life their business. This week, I overheard a conversation in which a young woman told her boyfriend that the only reason he was noticing so many pregnant women was because it was, and I quote, "trendy to get pregnant." Like, previously, guys, it wasn't cool to progress humankind, but now it's rad, so get on that bandwagon.

On the flip side, I had an old Irish grandmotherly type stop me the other day stop to swoon over Edi. "She's three?" she asked. I replied, "Oh, no, she actually just turned two." She eyeballed me like I was lying to her or potentially forgot how old my kid was. Then she asks about siblings, and I say, yes, one older. "How old?" "She'll be four in February." "Well then you're done! That's enough!" she said to me before patting me on the back and walking away.

??????????

I am finding myself smack-dab in the middle of mom life these days. And it's a very funny hashtag, yes. In #momlife is humor and the fact that I did actually consider not dusting for the month of December and claiming that the white stuff on my dressers was fake snow. GET IN THE HOLIDAY SPIRIT, PEOPLE!

But sometimes, mom life is not #momlife, it's just mom life; and that means it's very normal, sometimes mundane, and just a matter of functioning in this sort of anonymous-feeling space. I don't write about these things often, and for a number of reasons. I like to keep the positivity flowing. I like to think about what is best for my girls. And like everyone else, I like talking about the parts of life that are very un-normal (not to be confused with abnormal) because that's the loud sparkly part.

A few days ago, I trudged upstairs with a cart full of at least six loads of laundry and two kids in rain boots (because we keep rain boots by the door not in case it's raining but because they are shoes that can be put on without my assistance). One of the washers was broken, the other two were occupied. This happened four times before I was able to start laundry. We finally took a break from trying, and we decided to put on a movie for lunch. The girls were watching Toy Story and I was making a delicious black bean and pineapple mango salsa quesadilla for lunch. Fancy, right? Well, five minutes later, I posted this photo to Facebook:


Why did I have to post it to Facebook? Well, I think because there's a rule of the Internet that says, if you turn your annoying day into a joke, then it's instantly better. You've declared it instead of hiding it, and you've sought refuge in commiserators. Once people responded to my despair or to my humor--either way--I was less anonymous, and therefore granted more perspective. It felt like my mom life had gone to #momlife, and that made things okay.

Don't we live in such a weird time? It's an age where we post all of these little pieces of our lives in a very public space, and we expect people to care. In fact, we get offended when they don't. There's plenty written on this subject, so I don't need to bore you with the absurdity of it. And, frankly, I flip-flop between the tendency to overshare and wanting to run off the grid entirely. I don't think this is a new phenomenon, actually. I ask the same questions, have the same worries, when I'm writing a magazine article or even in conversations with friends, so it's not limited to the Internet (though the Internet makes it easier and bigger). 

I guess what I'm realizing is how communal we are. I don't know guys, but what a strange thing to learn at 30. I spent so much of my growing up time alone--sometimes by choice, and often, well, not. No man is an island, and blah, blah; but I learned to be pretty content by myself. Yet here I am, seeking out my people, desperate for them to know that I dropped a quesadilla on the floor and I was having a bad day. 

It made me think a bit more about people all up in my mom business. I will always think the things people say are plain ridiculous. But it's pretty likely someone quit following my Facebook page because they thought a picture of a splattered quesadilla was ridiculous. We are humans. We are ridiculous. Maybe instead of focusing on the ridiculous things they say, I need to pay closer attention to the motivation. Perhaps that doesn't change anything (see exhibit number one in the first paragraph); but maybe it does. We are humans and we need each other, and not everyone knows how to express that well. So thanks, humans, so much, for the days when you help me turn mom life to #momlife and for all the other big and small life things we have worked through together. 

P.S. We turned the day around with some mugs of hot chocolate, and suddenly spilled quesadilla and dirty laundry didn't matter.