Monday, September 22, 2008


God is unshakably real. I know this because I've tried to shake God -- over and over. But God's presence and creativity and gentleness keep coming. And grace. That's a word thrown around, but I mean GRACe in the fullness of the word -- unfair, undeserved, heaped-on love.

But I have so many questions. There is so much I cannot prove and don't need to. There is so much unsettled about living in this world that is filling with garbage that is swarming with starving toddlers, rampant with AIDS, pocketed with wealthy comfort, murdered with hate and superiority.

God says when we seek we will find. It's an invitation. A promise. But He doesn't say we will find instantaneously, or all in one piece. Maybe what that means is that we'll find tiny tidbits -- enough to keep us following the trail.

How we live is impacted by how we view God, view death, view the continuance of life or not. How we view God and whether we are loved with a big immovable love.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cloth diapers?

This weekend I have explored the world of cloth diapering. I have ricocheted from feeling averse to brimming with enthusiasm. I have called friends across the country who use them; have explored websites (see cotton babies and keen bambino); have called & texted Jen, borrowed diapering items from her and dragged her to Target with me (where -- who knew -- they sell a credible brand of cloth diapers); I have strewn various diapering paraphernalia about my house as if I already use and love it; I have bought a pink cloth diaper, had Eden pee in it and laundered it in hot water -- but it's hard to have a real taste for what using cloth would be like owning only one.

My motivator in this whole ordeal -- chemicals, chlorine and plastics aside -- is to avoid plastic diapers that will sit and sag on the earth for decades to come. I read that each year, one baby's dirty diapers weigh HALF A TON. Come on. So cloth, though not perfect (and not helpful in the water arena) seems a friendly option. I do have some reservations though:

1. These diapers have to be laundered every 2-3 days once in cold water and then in hot. I tend to abandon at least 2 out of 5 loads of our laundry in the washing machine and then find them wet and mildewy a few days later in need of being washed again.

2. The smell of a trashcan full of cloth diapers -- would it be any worse than a trashcan full of regular diaper?

3. Leaving the house usually looks like this for me: I am holding Eden, some stray blanket that is still half wrapped around her, a bag over my shoulder, 4 toy trains Silas has pleaded to bring along, a cup of something caffeinated (actually, I usually forget that on the kitchen table), some letters to mail, and am reaching for Silas's squirmy hand so we can walk through the garage together. Adding 4 pounds of bulky cloth diapering supplies including a bag to zip up heavy wet diapers doesn't sound too appealing... especially for someone who is most happy when carrying nothing.

4. I am all for being organized and planning ahead, but I like the freedom of leaving with no diapers, wipes or change of baby clothes, banking on wipes in the car and a crumpled diaper in the glove box. Cloth diapers would be a whole other ballgame.

All of that said, I know I could rally and embrace this new lifestyle -- I could carry many things and join the world of follow-through laundering, I would just need a few weeks to learn and slip
into routine.

Ben isn't on board right now (which is fair considering the above reservations) -- but I figure I have a couple of years of diapering ahead of me and have time to work on him. Until he's convinced, I have found two decent options: SeventhGeneration and Nature Babycare. They are both "biodegradable" (which I have learned means nothing when diapers are going into a landfill -- only helpful if we were composting), but at least they are made with fewer chemicals and oil-based plastics, and no chlorine. The Nature Babycare ( or Target) are corn based and so far so good.

Silas votes for disposable so we can continue wearing diaper hats (if you have never worn one you should try it):

Thursday, September 18, 2008

I used to Heart Halloween but Heart has become Hate.

Ben is out of town for the night. So Silas and I (and Eden) ate a "picnic dinner" in the car (i.e. had drive-thru McDonald's hamburgers and a milkshake), drove-thru the library return (only a day late), stopped by a craft store and found pumpkins and had a perfectly lovely time until we walked into K-Mart.

What you should know is that my whole life, I have defended Halloween. More than that I have adored it -- pumpkin patches, jack-o-lanterns, the smells of winter and dry leaves laced into the evening, glow sticks, the bizarre tradition of giving sweets to complete strangers who arrive on the doorstep dressed as chickens, princesses, mini-witches, gorillas, huge sacs of candy, the surveying of the goods and sorting into types, the examining for hidden razor blades (did everyone do this growing up, or just us?), the abundance of snickers and reeces cups for days to come...

Tonight Halloween and I broke up. And it's a bitter break up. I've spun on my heels, stormed out the door, and don't think I'll be back.

What happened is this: cheery two year old Silas, who had just finished a vanilla milkshake, and I walked into Kmart looking for marbles. As soon as we walked in and turned left toward the gardening center, I saw in front of us -- middle of the aisle -- a life-sized green-faced, yellow-eyed, disgusting rubber man gurgling creepy sounds. Just as I was about to turn to Silas, the man lifted his own severed head off. I looked down hoping to make light of it and saw FEAR plastered on Silas's face as he started crying. A cry I don't know -- feet rooted to the floor, eyes full of something causing terror.

I was so thrown I felt like I was moving through mud. I scooped him up, held his eyes closed, and pushed past as fast as I could. My chest ached and I was seething, only to find we were trapped in the gardening section (it is hard to write this entry without dropping f-bombs in every sentence) because there was NO WAY OUT of the store without passing the sick monster again.

So I ran, and Silas -- Silas who refuses to keep his head down or close his eyes EVER -- buried his head in my neck saying, "I want to go home. I want to go home."
You can imagine the conversation I had with the manager on my way out of the store, as he clung to me with his eyes still closed, head on my chest.

And so Halloween and I are through.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

how time speeds its way away

I spent an hour looking through old family photos the other day. What I remember is Nana at 65 -- my dad's age. She is now 93. None of those facts seems possible. Nor the fact that I can remember my mom, just slightly older than I am now, holding her "women's group" in the living room, drinking wine and talking about life, careers, young motherhood. That I remember my dad in his 30's, wearing his "tummy tickler" t-shirt taking me for a bike ride in the yellow bike seat behind him. That I remember his coming home from rec football games down on the Mall and icing his knees on the green rug in his room. Max plays football down on the Mall now; we have all shifted and become the next generation.

Time is racing with astounding speed. The other day Ben and I were standing at the table; Silas was kneeling on a chair eating next to us; Eden lay across Ben's arm. We looked up and saw ourselves in the mirror and for a second it was stunning: this is us, this family -- we in our 30's standing in our own dining room, with two children who are our children and will be for the rest of our lives. Somehow we moved from high school to this, and the world aged along with us.

As quickly as life is whirling by, the years are passing slowly. All of the life-turning events seem to stretch a year out like taffy, sticking us in each moment for an extra pause. Claire Ewing was born only a year and some days ago, but when I imagine standing in the hospital room watching Annemarie transform into strength, or driving through Georgetown to pick up sandwiches just after, or standing in the park behind my parents' house looking for the perfect tiny acorn to mark her life, those events feel like they were years ago.

It's a strange reality -- life so fast and slow. And this is a stage where there is much to remember -- so much that I sometimes feel achy knowing there is no way to hold on to it all. What sounds Silas made at 5 months, his perfect baby chub, the sweet inflections when he asked me to hold his hand, his caution before he could climb a ladder at the park, how he ran at 1 1/2 -- much of these details are gone, replaced by the immediacy of who he is this second, a bright-haired 2 1/2 year old boy. And Eden, whoever she will become, is already nothing of a newborn, that stage gone.

I wish I were not quite so conscious of how fleeting this all is because in all the full, laughing joy of raising two tiny people, I feel a whisper of sadness that each stage is nearly gone already and that there is no way to preserve it in perfect accuracy, despite the photographs, video, or jotting down thoughts.

But maybe we would break if we held it all.

How deeply aware of time are the poets--
the quickness of its passing,
the fragility of the now,
the terror of its going.
-Nils Peterson

Monday, September 01, 2008

Fresh September

We are standing on the doorstep of September. The mornings have rested low and misty and the air is welcoming and cool, appropriate for this month of beginnings. I always picture September green, even though here in California it is the month of sparkling summer weather. Still I think of it as opening in leafy newness.

This September marks our deciding for a second time (the first when Ben went to gradschool) to stay in California, a decision speckled with beginnings: a new job for Ben, a pre-school for Silas (on his first day yesterday he walked straight into the classroom over to the cars and ramps on the bright blue rug, sat down and never looked up again -- I had to crawl into his line of vision for a kiss goodbye), the end of Eden's "fourth trimester," the shift from bitty infancy to chubby babyhood. Having two babies is familiar now -- to Silas too -- and navigating our days is no longer bewlidering. A new rhythm is taking shape in our lives and will begin to emerge as the weeks pass.

In this rhythm is a certainty. We stood at the crossroads of DC and California for so many months, waiting on jobs and on God to clear a space. During that time I let life's details float into limbo: I waited til the last minute to RSVP for an east coast wedding, I let the loft grow piles and dust, I didn't buy holiday plane tickets, I gave little thought to where Eden will sleep after the cradle. Yesterday I found I am slowly plucking these things from the air and pulling them back into my daily gravity. It feels good to settle. I cleaned off my desk yesterday and next week will find my spot in the loft once more among paints, journals, and books of poems. A fresh September start.