Saturday, January 28, 2012

Suburban Field Journal

Did you know that we have a theme song out in the suburbs? Yes, you must have known this post was coming. It's the song "Little Boxes". It was written all the way back in 1962 by Malvina Reynolds but most people know it as the theme/opening song from the show Weeds. I think it perfectly captures the spirit, or rather lack thereof, out here in the 'burbs.

Speaking of Weeds....I always thought the opening sequence was rather genius. In Seasons 2 & 3, a different group or artist performed the song for each show. As I love music, I couldn't wait to see what was coming next. In case you've never seen Weeds, you can find a video of the opening sequence here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Our Homage to Whales

I've recently discovered the children's author, Cynthia Rylant. Upon reading just a few of her books, she is at the top of my list of favorites. When I was at the library on Monday, I checked out several of her books. Of those, my personal favorite is The Whales.

Whales are my spirit or power animal. They are magical to me. One of the best days of my life was the day I first saw humpback whales swimming and feeding off the coast of Provincetowne in Cape Cod. It took my breath away. Each time that I've been pregnant (six times all together), I had a dream about a whale very early on. A few times that's how I knew I was pregnant. I don't know why this is but the dreams are always ethereal and calm and magical.

So, back to business, I'm reading this book in the library. And I get to a page that has this narrative:

And whales do not know,
as they rise up for a big breath of air,
that someone is standing on a shore
and "her" heart is filling up.
Filling up and ready to burst.
Whales do not know how they change people,
how they make them better,
how they make them kind.
Like angels appearing in the sky,
whales are proof of God.

I read this and it brought tears to my eyes. Amen, Cynthia. You are my kind of woman. I was so excited to read this book to Sophie and, of course, she loved it as much as I did. Whales do fill my heart up until it's ready to burst. I hope my girls feel the same. I dream about the day when I can take Sophie & Clara on their first whale watching expedition.

Since I have no photos to accompany this post, Sophie and I took the liberty of drawing some whales. Mine is quite elementary (I never said I was an artist!) and I surrounded my whale with a rainbow aura. Rainbows, like whales, are magical to me. Sophie drew two whales, a Mom and a baby. She told me specifically that hers are beluga whales. Later that night, as I was cleaning up our mess, I noticed that Sophie added rainbow auras to her whales also. Warms my heart.

Whales are one of the greatest pleasures in life. Just knowing that they're out there somewhere makes me happy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Well, hello there!

I've mentioned before that I'm a dreamer. Yes, I am.

Every once in a while, when Clara falls asleep in the car, I go for a drive. This kid NEVER sleeps so you have to ride it out on the rare occasion that she does. My favorite destination is a street not too far from home. It's smack dab in the middle of a bunch of cookie cutter, typically suburban neighborhoods. This street is like a canary in a coal mine. It's not an organized subdivision. There is no Home Owner's Association with a bunch of ridiculous rules. It still has a rural feel to it. Every single lot on the street has a small plot of land next to the house. They're all fenced in. A good majority of the home owners have a horse and a goat. Why do I go there? Well, of course, I'm looking for a FOR SALE sign. They just never appear. I dream of having a home there and having chickens in my backyard. Space for my kids and my dog to really run around. Some room to breathe. Woods to play in. I imagine putting a table and some chairs under one of the big oak trees to have little celebrations. Maybe one day! Anyway, back to reality here...

Last week I took a drive there and encountered the gorgeous beast in the above photo. And she even posed for a nice photo. It really made me smile. Who wouldn't want to drive by that every day on their way home? Better then a bunch of dead-end sidewalks, no? *Smile *

Monday, January 23, 2012

Going A Little Crazy

That would be me. Clara's had a really rough week or two. I have no idea how long it's been because the days seem to run together and all concept of time is nonexistent. I have no idea what's wrong. I feel like we've tried everything. And I've certainly questioned everything. Is it trying solids? Was it the Indian I ate the other day which tainted my breastmilk with all kinds of undesirable tastes? Could it be the margarita I drank that was made with grapefruit soda? Breastfeeding is a confidence game. One that I am constantly losing. Should we try a new formula? Is she teething? Could it be a growth spurt? The diaper rash she currently has must have something to do with her fussiness. Is it just reflux? Right before this current rough patch, we had several good weeks. Clara even slept two nights in a row for about ten hours each night. Ahem. I am not a fan of false hope. Ever since then, it's been hell. For the past two weeks, I don't think I've done one thing that wasn't interrupted by Clara's crying. Pumping. Showers. Loading the dishwasher. Making a bottle. Playing with Sophie. Sleeping. Going to the toilet. (I know I ask a lot of my child to allow me to go to the toilet!) After yet another really bad night and no sleep for either myself or Clara, I am at my wit's end. I have cried almost this entire morning. Rarely in my life, if ever, do I remember feeling this hopeless, helpless and totally desperate. Even my body is giving up.....the last few pumps, I could barely produce any milk at all....something that has always been pretty easy for me. Yet I forgive this body because who should be expected to work so hard with so little sleep? Honestly, I am surprised at how well I've held myself together for six entire months of this. Why I'm breaking down now is beyond me. I guess everyone has to break at some point in time. And my little Clara. My heart aches for her. I hope she realizes that we've been breaking ourselves to try and make her comfortable and healthy and happy. And I hope she realizes how much attention her Big Sissy has had to sacrifice so that Mom & Dad could tend to her needs. We have a doctor's appointment this afternoon to get the diaper rash checked out. Alain and I spent the entire weekend doing all kinds of things to try to cure that on our own, to no avail. I know I should feel comforted that we're seeing the doctor but I don't. All attempts thus far to help Clara have been pretty fruitless. I'm amazed at how little doctors know about GI issues in infants and how we can help to make it better for them. My only saving grace is Alain. Thank goodness I married a saint. He could see that I was not well this morning (although you'd have to be deaf and blind not to see that!) and he sent me out for two hours to be alone. And, it's only in this time alone that I can truly see how hard it's been. I see how other people have so much freedom and quiet in their lives. And I see how my new boss (Clara) is extremely demanding. And I have to pat myself on the back. Luckily, it only took about half an hour out in the world sans baby to feel a little bit like myself again. This gives me hope. I chose to spend part of this time at the library. One of my sanctuaries. I spent about ten minutes in the children's books and I could already feel myself smiling. I left with a pile of about twelve books for Sophie. I called two friends and cried in their ears and listened hard to their encouraging words. And here I am now, at Barnes & Noble, drinking a warm drink and writing. Two other sanctuaries. Small, simple pleasures. It may be short-lived but it's working. I have no intended direction with this's only therapy to get these words out of my system. And I cannot stop typing. It feels good. I wish I knew how to help my baby better. I do believe my pumping days are over and a huge part of me feels so relieved. It's one less thing to question, one less thing to do. The confidence game can end, finally. Clara has started to crawl around (WHAT? A five month old? I didn't even know it was possible!) and it's made pumping rather hard. She's also sitting up now. I do feel happy and relieved that, at the very least, she doesn't have any developmental issues. Still, I hope for more, for all of us. Our house is in no way peaceful at the moment. Sadly, I have to finish this post now. My two hours is up. I have to relieve Alain. Wish us luck!!!

(No time to reread or proofread this post so please overlook any spelling or grammar mistakes!)

Capturing Motherhood in a Photo

(Audrey, Sophie & Clara)

As my girls get bigger, the one thing I know for sure I will long for and miss are their precious, perfect little feet. There aren't many things on Earth I love more than sweet little baby feet. Both of my girls love to have their feet massaged and it's one of my favorite things to do. Alain took this photo over the weekend and I thought it perfectly captured a motherhood moment that I love.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Suburban Field Journal

As I travel through the suburbs each day, a sight I see most often is this....

Sidewalks that just end in the middle of nowhere are everywhere.

You can take a nice stroll out in the 'burbs but, chances are, you won't get anywhere.

Did you love Shel Silverstein's book, Where The Sidewalk Ends, when you were young? I did. I'm guessing now that Shel must've lived out in the suburbs!!!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Suburban Field Journal

My goal was to publish a "Suburban Field Journal" post each Monday. It's my own personal project ~ something to keep my mind going ~ a fun research project each week. It's a subject that is obviously part of my every day life. I remember the day several years ago when I came across the book "Suburban Nation". I read it and had my own personal "aha moment". Other people felt the same way I did. It was comforting to me. One of my mottos in life is "Question Everything" and I do. I realize how lucky I am to live in such a nice place. Despite current economic issues in our country, I live in an area that is thriving. I am thankful for that. Still there are many issues here and ways that we can improve our suburban way of life. I'm hoping to capture some of that in these posts.

As you know, most of my suburban posts have a more negative tone. That will always be the case. Every once in a while, however, I also want to focus on the positive sides of Suburbia, when I can find them. This will be one of those posts. I didn't make my self-inflicted Monday deadline but I'll forgive myself. Just this once.

On Monday I headed out to get a mani/pedi. It was the MLK holiday and Alain had the day off. He's so good and often sends me out to do something just for me. A lot of other people must have had the same idea so I had to wait a while to be tended. As I was sitting there reading through the plethora of magazines and books I'd brought along, something caught my eye. It was a little shrine to Buddha on the floor in the corner of the nail salon. It captivated my attention. There was a HUGE fruit that I didn't recognize. A tiny little cup of tea. Several figurines. A candle (the flickering had caught my eye). Incense. Lots of coins. I looked at it for a long time and decided to take a picture. It warms my heart. And I only hope I didn't break some rule by taking a photo (thankfully no one noticed).

Diversity. In my suburb, we have a lot of diversity. There are people from everywhere. My husband is a mutt ~ he's part Argentine, part Dutch, part German, part Italian, part American (like it or not, honey, you are!), part Israeli. And all Jewish. Just perfect, I think. And we have friends from all of those places and then some. You never know who you're going to meet and where they're going to be from. I love it because I like to learn new things and be inspired by different cultures and ways of life. I'm ALL American with an English heart. Quite the Southern Belle. I don't have a religious cell in my body although I am extremely spiritual. I lean towards Eastern religions, if anything. Being vegetarian is one of the most important things in my life. I watch very little TV but am a voracious reader. I love to garden. I obviously don't fit in any box. And, every once in a blue moon, I find someone sort of like me.

I know diversity is not for everyone but I need it in my life. This small shrine was a sweet reminder that there are some things I like about this stereotypical suburban life.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I've made it no secret how much I dislike e-readers and how much I love real books. My personal ode to real books is one of my all-time favorite posts on this blog. After a recent trip to a Barnes & Noble I was disheartened to see that the store has downsized their inventory of REAL BOOKS. Seriously, about a quarter of their books were gone. Those sections were replaced with toys. As if children need any more toys in this world! Honestly. When I went to the help desk to ask for help in searching for a book, she told me it was only available as an e-book. I scowled at her.

Well, my heart soared when I discovered this video that has gone viral. It came at just the right time. It's comforting to know that there are others out there like me. Very comforting. I always feel do I put it.....outside of the box. This video is so genius and makes me so very happy. And it's been added to mine and Sophie's collection of our favorite stop motion videos. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Tia Jenny, do you know this bookstore in Toronto?

I keep watching's so fun to pick out some of my favorite titles!!!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Heart is Heavy

At just after 7:00 AM this morning, a former colleague of mine was killed while walking the few blocks from the train to his office building for work. He was hit by a dump truck and died at the scene of the accident. He was 47 years old. His wife and daughter are left behind with a loss as big as the universe and everything beyond it that we don't even know yet. He had the green light that means it's okay to cross. The driver of the dump truck had a green light as well but, for whatever reason, this driver didn't yield the right-of-way to the gentleman, the pedestrian, who just happened to be crossing the street. I've thought of little else all day.

I hope:
~ that he and his family had a pleasant morning. I try to imagine it. It was so early and his daughter is a teenager. Was she still sleeping? Did she even get to say goodbye or give him a kiss? Did they argue over something silly as teens often do? Did his wife get to kiss him goodbye? Did he maybe tell her that he loved her before he left for work? I hope so many things for their last morning together. So many things. So many things.
~ that they had a recent beautiful vacation together. Something that the wife and daughter can remember and be thankful for in their last month or so together.
~ that his death was quick and painless. That maybe the truck hit him from behind and he didn't know what was coming. Dear God, I just hope that he didn't suffer.
~ that his wife had good people around when she got the news. Folks who could say the right things and support her in her time of most desperate need. Hold her up. Take her home. Hear her cries. Her pleas. Her screams.
~ that she was able to give the news to her daughter.
~ that all my former colleagues somehow survived the day being in the office. I can't imagine how awful it must have been. How sad. And I hope they were all able to comfort one another as much as possible.
~ that those awful people who made inappropriate comments on the local paper's website.....well, I don't know what I hope for them....but it isn't good. Thank goodness the Charlotte paper has enough sense to shut down the comments and remove them from the site....and I hope it was before anyone in his family had a chance to read them.
~ more than anything, I hope that he died a happy man. I hope he had peace in his heart. I hope his last thoughts were pleasant ones. And I hope that he has moved on to a better place.

I don't like being reminded of life's fragility. At the same time, I am thankful for the opportunity to hold my family a little tighter today. Thankful to have the chance to tell those closest to me how much I love them and what they mean to me.

I also feel angry. I get tired of hearing these tragic stories of bikers and pedestrians who lose their lives to moving vehicles. This is the second time it's happened to someone I know. It happens all too often in Charlotte. It's just a sad state of affairs. How many people have to be lost before someone makes a change that really makes a difference? I've lobbied my city councilman in the past (to no avail) and I'm working on a letter now. It's the least I can do to honor the precious life that was lost today.

I will be thinking of his wife and daughter for a long time to come. They are strangers to me. But I hope for so many things for them. If I could bottle up a little bit of my own strength and give it to them, I would. I hope they can somehow find peace and a way to heal from this devastating loss.

Signs of Love Are Everywhere!

Even on the tarred surface of the parking lot.

Sophie is recovering from an illness that kept her out of commission all weekend. I kept her home from school today to give her an extra day of rest. Alain came home for lunch so the four of us went out for a family lunch. As we were leaving the restaurant, I noticed this little heart on the ground and it made me smile....

Monday, January 9, 2012

Suburban Field Journal

In our area of town, there are a good number of developments marketed primarily to the elderly. The homes tend to be of smaller size (by Charlotte standards) and are typically one floor. The lots are small so there is less yardwork. Sounds good, right?

We just happen to pass through one of these neighborhoods on our way home sometimes and, brutal honesty here, it makes me depressed. This is what it looks like....

Every house is almost exactly the same and they seem to go on forever.

Someone obviously lacks imagination and creativity.

There's almost no nature to speak of and it seems like a Ghost Town because you rarely see anyone outside.

There isn't much within walking distance so everyone has a car. The garages must be full because most people seem to park in the driveway.....thus you see a bunch of ugly cars when you look down the street.

Not to mention the lack of privacy. If there were windows on the sides of the houses (there aren't many), you could lean out and shake your neighbor's hand. If you do have windows on the side, you wouldn't be able to leave the curtains open without your neighbors knowing all of your business. And, in typical suburban fashion, a good number of houses in the 'hood have this ugly utility box right by the driveway.

I've visited the model in this particular neighborhood and the houses aren't bad inside. They lack character ~ one is the same as the next ~ but they're decent enough, I guess. Some find this neighborhood very desirable ~ I'm only giving my opinion. But I'm making it one of my personal goals in life to NOT live here when I'm old and grey.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Furry Friday

Trying to get a good photo of these critters together is extremely difficult.

When one looks at the camera the other is looking off somewhere else. Earth to Hubbell!

We employ all kinds of tricks. Treats. Special words that make Kenzie's ears stand up. Stern voices. Sweet voices. It doesn't really matter.

They have minds of their own. Just having them both sit in one spot for this long was an accomplishment in and of itself.

After all this we didn't manage to get that elusive perfect photo. Or did we? Looking at them now, they all seem perfect to me.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Tea Time with Sophie

One of the top items on my Winter Bucket List was to take Sophie for Tea Time at The Ploughcroft Tea Room in Lynchburg.

It gave me a chance to use one of my favorite gifts......a gift certificate to the tea room.

Thanks Mom & Dad!

I spent my entire pre-college life in Lynchburg and I know it very well. It pleases me to no end to see what an awesome job is being done in revitalizing the Downtown area. Every time I see the storefront of the tea room with the Union Jack flying proudly, it makes me smile.

We told Sophie she could order whatever she wanted and she chose the butterfly-shaped PB&J sandwich with fruit. It came with a juice box but I am happy to report that Sophie drank plenty of her Earl Grey tea as well.

Meanwhile, Alain and I ordered the Victorian Tea which came with this three-tiered platter of yummy goodness. Just the sight of those scones is making me drool. For the record, I did ask for more devon cream this time and, I am sad to report, I finished that second little tub as well. It's hard to control myself where devon cream is concerned. Ever heard the saying, "A moment on the lips forever on the hips!"? Well, let's just say that my hips wear those devon cream moments proudly. Also, Alain and I were totally smitten with the homemade shortbread. It was like little bites of heaven. Seriously.

We let Sophie choose where to sit and she did so based on the tea cup she liked best. She chose this holly rimmed one and wanted to show if off.

After we finished eating Sophie circled the restaurant to check out the tea cups on each table. She did some dances around the restaurant as well but, for some reason, the pictures I took turned out blurry. No worries.... we were the only ones in the restaurant at that time.....although it was short lived.....there were a number of tables filled the entire rest of the time we were there.

Our tea time with Sophie was lovely and she reported several times while there that she was having so much fun. Makes me smile every time I think about it!

Needless to say, we look forward to our next visit....

PS ~ Hi Shelby!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Look Who Popped Round for a Visit!

I tried to get a little closer and take a photo from a different angle but I scared her away. I was so bummed and felt bad for interfering in her business!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

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