Monday, June 29, 2009

My Latest List of Likes

-lychee black tea

-Starbucks dark chocolate graham crackers

-Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

-The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

-Simply Lemonade

-Purple Rain fireworks (Silas and I hit up the stand today)

-the fabrics at

-and the general amazing-ness you can find on this blog:

Saturday, June 27, 2009

When all our needs are met yet still we're not quite free...

It is a funny time to be reading Bel Canto by Ann Patchett, the story of a dinner party taken hostage by terrorists. It is a pleasant kind of capture as the guests are held in the vice president's mansion and are bothered by monotony and confinement rather than cruelty or torture. It is funny because as I write this, I am sitting in a motel room, wedged in the corner next to an air conditioning unit on the floor, holding my book just under the drapes so it catches the seeping late evening light. I sit here because Silas can't sleep and has asked me to come in enough times that I've conceded. He has run fevers on and off for two days, not been hungry, and has needed his mom. So here I am, held hostage by the bed, waiting for his sleep to set me free.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Last Week I Flew to Florida to Say Goodbye to Nana

After I left her hospital room, I drove across the city to St. Pete Beach and walked across the powdery sand to the warm lapping water. The beach was wide, and despite the few children hunting crabs with the low glow of flashlights, I was alone.

In the cloudy dark, I could make out the shapes of white shells in the white sand, and I picked them up until my hands were full.

I pictured Nana at 70, 85, 91 years old, leaning down to pick up shells, tossing away the broken ones, pictured her hands as they loosely cupped her findings, and the thick white shells from the dark helped locate me.

The next morning when I left my motel at 5 for the airport, I found that the night's low cloud cover had vanished and the sky rang clear navy. A sharp sliver of moon gleamed and nearly cradled one bright star -- she would have loved this.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

It must be Love

It appears the adoration I have for everything Silas draws or paints is mutual; today he walks into my room while I am sitting on the floor working on a journal:

"Hi Mama," peering over my shoulder.
"I came to see what you're making."
He watches me smear black paint all over a square of brightly flowered fabric until the colors are gone.
"That's beautiful Mama. That's really beautiful."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Boys and Girls, Stuffed Animals and Dolls

I was never much of a doll girl. Animals were the way to my heart, especially little animals. I collected tiny porcelain animals for years. And do you remember fuzzy bears? They stood about an inch high, came in every color and were sometimes were stuck on the end of a pencil? My prize fuzzy bear was from Safeway -- he was light brown and held a teeny pack of Reese's peanut putter cups. I loved stuffed animals too. I remember on my first trip to New York -- I was probably 7 -- standing in FAO Schwartz sniffling as I told a stuffed puppy how sorry I was that I had to leave him there and that I'd try my very best to come back for him. (Incidentally, I did come back for him, named him 5th Avenue, loved him for years, and then put him in the dryer where his fur melted...)

When Silas was born, I awaited the day that he would LOVE stuffed animals too. I made them talk to him, kiss him, nuzzle him, walk along his crib rail. He'd laugh. Sometimes he'd even grab one and hug it. For a second. And then drop it and turn to a a car, truck, train -- something plastic or wood. This wasn't animal love. When Eden was born, a friend gave him a boy doll with blond hair who sucks his pointer finger just like Silas. I thought if he would love any doll, this was the one, especially once a real baby infiltrated the family. But no, all baby Charlie's gotten are a quick hello's here and there.

Then Eden was born and turned one.

For her birthday she got a doll. It turns out that baby dolls make Eden BEAM. She squeals, hugs her baby, carries it with her, sleeps with it. She put it in a play shopping cart and pushed it around the house. She ROCKS it.

The other day I poked my head in her room to see if she was still asleep and found her sleeping with her arms around a giraffe.

I have never been one to categorize girls and boys, but I am amazed by the differences in my house.


For a while, Silas has been drawing some lines here, some swirls there, an occasional face (which each time causes me to die and go to heaven). Recently he started drawing wavy lines with loops -- race tracks or roller coasters. And in the last two weeks, he drew these:

a rocket ship with fire

Ben surfing (Ben is green, the board all sorts of colors)

BB (my mom) -- his first person with legs! and many toes

I am his biggest fan.

While I've been writing this, Silas has been singing his "heart out" (as he says) under my desk, drawing with a red marker, a nice, non-washable red marker. He's used it many times before. He just poked his head out, and his forehead is smudged with red ink. His hands, fingernails, arms, feet, soles of his feet, ankles, shins, and knees are also bright red.

Apparently there is no differentiation between red marker + inside and chalk + outside:

An Eden Celebration

Yes, she is wearing a birthday dress that has all sorts of frizzy celebration ribbons on it...

Silas couldn't sleep the night before because he was so excited for Eden's birthday. He still talks about the pinata, which is a little sad since it had precisely 4 hacky sack balls in it and 4 boxes of raisins...

Saturday, June 06, 2009

One of sooooo many heartbreaks to come... How will we endure it?

Silas and I pick flowers together. Sometimes we pick up dead jacaranda blossoms from the sidewalk. Sometimes we sneak a hibiscus bloom off a bush. Sometimes it's a cluster of bougainvillea. Sometimes it's a geranium he yanks from a planter. Sometimes it's simply a dandelion puff.

More often than not, Silas simply holds the bloom in the stroller until it gets too wilted and then tosses it overboard. But sometimes, he asks me to tuck the flower behind his ear. Once on the way into church, he found us both giant purple flowers, and we made a deal that we'd each wear them behind our ear to think of each other while we were apart (he didn't want to go to his class) -- this, in fact, is how the flower-wearing began. 20 minutes into his class, I peeked into his room and in the midst of all the kids wrangling for cars and capes and racetracks, he was still wearing his bright purple flower tucked into his blond hair.

Today, on the way into a restaurant with some friends, Silas picked up fallen bougainvillea blossoms for the two of us, and I tucked them behind our ears. As soon as we walked through the door, his 3 year old friend turned to him and said, "why are you wearing that? You're not a girl." And I watched him falter. (Falter!) The next second the friend's sister walked in, looked at Silas and laughed "what are you doing with that flower??" I quickly stepped in and explained that anyone can wear a flower, then heard the boy mumble under his breath, "I don't want to wear one of those." And then -- despite my efforts -- without saying anything, Silas took the flower out. And he didn't put it back in.

My heart crushed. Even though Silas clearly smoothed his heart right out and played on, mine is still a little crumpled.

In Charge (or Not in charge)

I like being in charge. Maybe that comes from growing up the oldest of 4 kids. Maybe it comes from hard-wiring. Maybe it comes from deep-seated fears about losing control. Wherever it comes from, I like it.

But lately, I've been practicing not being in charge. I've been practicing allowing.

For example, today, Ben, Silas and I hung out in the loft. While Ben and I talked, Silas played with the vice that's anchored to Ben's desk.
How do you put wood in there and cut it? Silas asked.
You turn the lever so it opens, put the wood in, and tighten it up. Try it. That was Ben.
But I don't have any wood?
There's some in the corner behind you.
Silas turned around and sure enough there were three 2 1/2 foot long 2x4's behind him.
Pick one up and put it in the vice.

This is the point when ever fiber of my body bent toward the boy and the wood, and my mouth started to say with great urgency -- don't pick it up! We will come help you! But just as my mouth was opening and some "d-" sounds were coming out, I looked at Ben who clearly did not share any of my impulses and was happy to let Silas go. So, I bit my tongue (maybe literally).

Silas picked up a piece of wood as tall as himself and carried it to the vice and Ben talked him through it:
Turn the lever... that's right... is it wide enough to put the wood in?
Silas clumsily picked up the wood and diagonally tried to feed it into the gap. Not yet!
Turn it a little more. Now is it open enough?

Again Silas maneuvered the heavy wood up into the vice (which I don't think I mentioned is at shoulder-height) and teetered it somehow into the space firmly enough to let go of it and spin the lever until the wood was firmly inside.

I watched, tense with anticipation of injury, catching myself from rushing in over and over to help. Allowing. Allowing. (my inner mantra) Allowing Ben to instruct Silas. Allowing Silas to wield a huge heavy piece of wood into a vice. Allowing him to learn.

Just as I turned to Ben to tell him how (tentatively) impressed I was with how much he was allowing Silas to do, Silas turned the lever the wrong way and the wood came crashing -- CRASHING -- down on his toe.

I stood there as Ben moved in, lifted Silas, and talked to him in a soft voice. My head erupted into arguments from the I-like-to-be-in-charge voice: I knew he shouldn't have done that alone, I knew that wood was too heavy, I knew he shouldn't be trusted to use giant building materials, I knew I should have said something (this voice knows a lot of things) -- And listening, I knew the best thing to do was to leave the room. And in fact, just as I was about to, Ben mouthed just that.

And so I did. I left my flushed crying boy with the freshly purple toenail and his father. His father. And as I walked down the ladder, down the stairs, out the front door (because I was on my way to Home Depot), I thought about how important it is that they are learning their own way together quite without me. Silas might not do heavy lifting and use a vice with me (ok, he definitely won't). And with his dad, Silas may use a vice and may smash his toe, but he will be all right and his toe will heal too. In the meantime, he and his dad will have moved through something and fixed it together.

And so, my job is to move out and to allow. Lots of rub against the grain. Lots of growing edges.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Speaking of Spending, one more List

Since I'm in a groove making lists, here is one more.

Amazon is my catch-all online store, but since I'd like to shop from more independent dealers, I asked some friends for their favorites. Here is the list so far. Please add your favorites in the Comment section!


Home of handmade goods. Tons of artisans sell their work here -- jewelry, clothing, paper goods, artwork, home goods. You might want to clear a few hours to explore this site if you've never been there before (but don't feel daunted -- 5 minutes will also give you a taste).

Chocolate and Steel
She uses re-purposed/recycled metals and materials and a lot of her jewelry has stories to them (my necklace is based off a children's book she wrote).

fun clothes

Also re-purposed materials made into purses, skirts, hairpins etc. She will custom make items too, like bags made from pillowcases etc.


Chronicle Books

this publisher supports wonderful artists and has great stationary, journals etc too


I've been buying blank board books for various journal projects here (they have a few fun blank items to spark creativity). Also, toys, home things etc.

a brand new store -- sister to Romp

Fred Flare
quirky gifts and paper products


The Little Seed
adorable baby things

Great toys

Beco Baby Carriers
I have loved our carrier and her fabrics are fun. She's local in Costa Mesa -- gotta love that, too.

Bronwen Handcrafted Carriers
I had to include these because her name is Bronwen. A friend of mine really likes these.

Belle Heir
incredibly beautiful (and expensive) vintage children's clothing -- so beautiful that you should click on the link just to look at it

Mahar Dry Goods
vintage and artisan crafted beautiful things, especially children's things

Frency Baby Organics
yummy simple organic baby/children's clothes

A Year Ago Today

One year ago, we met Eden Joye for the first time. She arrived 2 weeks early at dawn. Until tomorrow a year ago, we wondered what her name was. Late at night on her birthday, while Ben slept in our hospital room, I held this new baby and talked to her about her name -- who are you?

She was Eden. Eden Joye, after her aunt Kaia Joye, whose birthday she arrived on and whose face she already resembled, and after her great-grandmother, Millie Joye.

Eden. When God imagined the most vibrant, thriving, fragrant, lush garden, he named it Eden and spoke it into being. Eden, God's delight. Eden, where people sat with God without boundary. Eden, the place of Shalom, fullness, peace. Eden Joye, the hope that this little one will grow to know the Joy of Eden throughout her life.

Ben's first time holding her
Silas with Eden
The two Joyes

One year old:

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Jesus are You Real

Jesus are You Real - Mason Jennings (get it on itunes)

Standing like a statue in the sea
in a little truck stop in Tennessee
bombs are crashing down in waves
on a giant tv screen

and I am struck I cannot move
to make it stop what can I do
people are dying in their beds
while this flag flies over our heads

Jesus are you stronger
than a loaded gun...
strong enough to show your love
strong enough to give
strong enough to go through hell
strong enough to live

When you do not know
you know
and when you know
you do not know
and when you think you do you die
and when you do not think you grow

Are we left here in the dark
or are we left here in the light
it seems to me that both are true...

All i do is doubt you God
all is do is love you God
all I do is question you
what else can I do

This world was never solid ground
religion cannot help me now
all I do is search for you
what else can I do

and when I say I search for you
I mean I search for peace
I search for hope
I search for love
and one day release

God give me strength to accept the things
that I just cannot know...

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Oh I love Paris...

At the beginning of May, Ben and I left Silas and Eden in Washington with the grandparents and flew to Paris for 3 1/2 days (5 days total with travel).

I made Ben a book that tells the story of our trip: