Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Parenting Lessons at 2 Months

Coco (which we sometimes call Luciana) is 2 months tomorrow

Parenting lessons of the week:

I completely and totally understand how parents stare at their child and say "YOU ARE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING IN THE WORLD". There is no way to me Luciana could be more beautiful, more perfect, more adorable, more lovable. And I know every parent is saying the same thing about their baby, and all of us are right.

photo here

Now I know that you always give your child the seat by the window, even if you yourself would love to look out of it. And that this isn't a decision--it's just what happens. My mom said something to me once and I never forgot it--now that I have a baby I know exactly what she means. She said that your child is the person you lie down in front of a train for without thinking. You might do it for someone else---your spouse for instance, or a sibling you're really close to--but you'd think about it before you did it. That's true for me, anyway. With your baby you don't think. It would happen without consideration if that's what needed to happen. It's the craziest feeling. It's just WHAT IS. Involuntary and absolutely willing surrender to her well-being. For me this is wild, unknown, magnificent, and in its own way freeing. I think about someone other than myself all day. So yes, the window, and everything else.

photo here

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Holgasnake

Carmen and I were thrown together as college roommates our freshman year. What a happy twist of fate that was: we've been best friends ever since. Remember my frolic in the poppies? That's Carm, who's also an insanely gifted and wildly creative artist and photographer. She came over last week and we had Luciana photo day. Carm's digital and film photos are gorgeous, and she's actually in the process of building a dark room so in the future I'll be showcasing some of her prints for sure. But she took one of my favorite pics of Luciana so far on her Holga:

Carm brought over that wagon, which her mom pushed her around in as a babe, along with the blocks which we're pretty sure are from the 50s--her mom played with them--and the bear is Boris, who lives in Luciana's nursery. How adorable is this picture??? I love the corners of black, like you're peeking through a keyhole, and how Luciana's happiness is made more so by the fact that you can kind of see her legs kicking in glee. This one might be a framer. I'm pretty sure it is.

Other Holga beauties Carmen's taken:

I love this vintage car slipping like a ghost through the trees

This one hangs in our house: me and Sky at our engagement party, which was a Pink Panther theme

and that's from our rehearsal dinner, which was at an old school Mexican restaurant

and this otherworldly one is downright mystical--the trees almost look like feathers

For more of Carmen's work and for her contact info, visit her website and her flickr stream, where she's known as the Holgasnake. And yes, she'll photograph your baby, wedding, or hike through the woods.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Paulina Quintana

One of us in this house gets to be fashionable. It's not me. Thanks to Aunt Kristina scoring at a consignment store in Solana Beach, Luciana is decked out below in a bib and diaper cover by LA fave Paulina Quintana. Honestly, when the weather is warm (which, sadly for this outfit, it is starting to not be) what else do you need? A bib for the surprise spit-up and a cover to make the tush look cute.

model pictured with Elijah, an elephant made by writer's mother

I hadn't heard of Paulina, being new to the designer clothes baby scene, but apparently she has a nationwide cult following not only for her adorable, colorful, classy, simple clothes, but for her quintessential un-diaper bag. Which I really want. And at $440 am probably not going to get this week. Unless I find one on ebay, where I am headed as soon as this post is finished.....

Covetable, right?

Paulina is a former teacher, wife of an artist, who started making clothes for her niece before she had her own two babes, and the line was born.

Luciana and I will be making a trip to Silver Lake soon. I might be in the same maxi dress I wear about 4 times a week, but my girl will come home in something like this

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I Can Still Make Lunch

Sorry to be in absentia this week. I thought I'd been spared the new parent blinding fatigue I always hear about. Luciana goes to bed around 6:30 or 7; I go to bed around 9:30, and even though I wake up with her a few times a night, by the time I get out of bed around 6:30 I usually have accumulated 7 or so hours of sleep. Sometimes a little more if I go to bed at 8:45 (has happened) or she sleeps til 7 (has also happened). I've, for the most, part, felt rather, shall I say it, rested. But this week I got slammed. I heard the tiredness was cumulative, but I thought that meant that each day I'd feel a little more tired. For me it was Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine (so I thought I was fine) then BOOM--hit by a truck. I have barely been able to complete a sentence, much less apply myself to something I hope will be semi-interesting to anyone reading this.

Pause for photo-op. Here's my little bird at 6 1/2 weeks, and if I didn't sleep at all for the next fill-in-the-blank- many months she would be worth it.

However, I thought I'd share 2 things which I learned this week:

1)you can make a really nice lunch for another mom in less than 20 minutes. I'll show you how.

2) Worrying is just my way of trying to control things. I don't always understand what is going on with my baby, so the illusion is that if I find things to worry about somehow I'll get the situation under control. It's an incredibly draining way to pass the time. I hope that you pass up each and every opportunity to worry that comes your way, baby-related or not.

My friend Julie had baby Otis 12 days after Miss Luciana came into the world. All four of us are Leos, so there are many playdates of the wild kind in the future. I hadn't met Otis and hadn't seen Julie since the babes were born, and they came over for a visit yesterday. If another new mama comes to me, the least I can do is feed her. Here's how to make a lovely lunch on no sleep with very few dirty dishes:

1. Thaw some dried cherry muffins from the freezer you'd made the week before. To make dried cherry muffins, use any blueberry muffin recipe and sub dried cherries. Serve with plum jam (or any jam) and butter. (I am not able to make any more jam this summer that I know of. It's too time-sensitive/I need to be at the stove watching and stirring. My child doesn't nap reliably during the day and yeah right I'm making it at 8 at night. A personal tragedy which I will try to recover from.)

2. Cut some pita bread into triangles and serve with the hummus and olives in your fridge. Maybe some of Desi's preserved lemons if you have a friend make them for you.

3. Place sheep or goats milk cheese (since we all know cow dairy is tough on a lot of babies, mine being one of them) on a plate and serve with truffle honey. Yes, TRUFFLE HONEY.

4. Make these 2 salads:

For the beet one:

Roast beets in the am while you play with baby. Find a moment to skin them before they get too cool. Remember not to touch anything precious while hands are covered in beet.

Quarter beets and toss with whatever vinegar you like--I used sherry--some olive oil and salt. I went crazy and used black salt. That counts for crazy in my life these days. Slice an avocado and gently toss in.

For the corn one---stolen shamelessly from my friend and personal chef Mandy:

Shuck as many ears of corn as you think the 2 of you will eat into a bowl. Add some chopped or cherry tomatoes (I grew these!--the one garden-friendly thing I did this summer), some lime juice (for 2 ears of corn I used one lime) and a small handful of chopped cilantro. You could do avo in this too, but I figured since it was in the beets I'd skip it.

Put all on table and eat while the two babies sleep, one in his new friend's swing, the other in her Moby on Mama.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

End of Days

photo here
Summer is actually ending. I know by the calendar we have 13 more days, but the light looks different. I always start noticing it in mid-August, always with a pang. I get nostalgic for days that haven't even happened yet, already missing the weeks that lie ahead. This end-of-summer I've been inside more than out, and home more than bounding through the world, but I get the same longing. Longing to stretch these days out as long as I can, take in as much sunshine as I can, even if through an open front door, to sit still in the light in the hopes that time will sit still with me. There's this craving to be in as much of the world as I can, knowing the days are getting shorter and before we know it we'll be hunkering down with blankets and warm socks and big pots of soup. I thought of one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite poets, Mary Oliver: "And who will care, who will chide you, if you wander away from wherever you are, to look for your soul?" which is from the poem below. It's the eternal encouragement to make sure my days are being spent in a way that liberates rather than cages me. Might be as simple as stepping outside for a few breaths while it is still summer, and warm and light, rather than checking email again. My mom gave me a beautiful book for my birthday this year, Ten Poems to Set You Free, and I was so happy to find this poem in it. I hadn't read it in its entirety for a long time. I read it to Luciana this morning while she was nursing. I'm going to interpret the smile she gave me as a sign she approves. One of the wonderful discoveries I've made about her is that her feet are so soft they feel like water. So if I can't get to a river to dip my feet in, I can just touch hers.

Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches?
by Mary Oliver

Have you ever tried to enter the long black branches of other lives---
Tried to imagine what the crisp fringes, full of honey, hanging
from the branches of the young locust trees, in early summer, feel like?

Do you think this world is only an entertainment for you?

Never to enter the sea and notice how the water divides with perfect courtesy, to let you in!
Never to lie down with the grass, as though you were the grass!
Never to leap to the air as you open your wings over the dark acorn of your heart!

No wonder we hear, in your mournful voice, the complaint that something is missing from your life!

Who can open the door who does not reach for the latch?

Who can travel the miles who does not put one foot in front of the other, all attentive to what presents itself continually?
Who will behold the inner chamber who has not observed, with admiration, even with rapture, the outer stone?

Well, there is time left---
fields everywhere invite you into them.

And who will care, who will chide you, if you wander away from wherever you are, to look for your soul?

Quickly, then, get up, put your coat on, leave your desk!

To put one's foot into the door of the grass, which is they mystery, which is death as well as life, and not be afraid!

To set one's foot in the door of death, and be overcome with amazement!

To sit down in front of the weeds, and imagine god the ten-fingered, sailing out of his house of straw,

nodding this way and that way, to the flowers of the present hour,
to the song falling from the mockingbird's pink mouth,

to the tiplets of the honeysuckle, that have opened in the night.

To sit down, like a weed among weeds, and rustle in the wind!

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

While the soul, after all, is only a window,
and the opening of the window no more difficult
than the wakening from a little sleep.

Only last week I went out among the thorns, and said to the wild roses:
deny me not,
but suffer my devotion,
Then, all afternoon, I sat among them. Maybe

I even heard a curl or two of music, damp and rouge-red,
hurrying from their stubby buds, from their delicate velvety bodies.

For how long will you continue to listen to those dark shouters, caution and prudence?
Fall in! Fall in!

A woman standing in the weeds.
A small boat flounders in the deep waves, and what's coming next is coming with its own heave and grace.

Meanwhile, once in a while, I have chanced, among the quick things, among the immutable.
What more could one ask?

And I would touch the faces of the daisies,
and I would bow down
to think about it.

That was then, which hasn't ended yet.

Now the sun begins to swing down. Under the peach-light,
I cross the fields and the dunes, follow the ocean's edge.

I climb. I backtrack.
I float.
I ramble my way home.

Happy falling.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Ramona Trent family photos

I have insanely talented friends--just feel blessed that way. One of them, the lovely Ramona Trent (equally lovely name) takes exquisite photos of mamas, babies, and families. If you're in the SoCal area you might give yourself a gift of a session with her.

Let's travel back in time a couple months...

Recognize that person? Yours truly about 3 weeks before my due date.

This one below is my absolute fave. Am going to (one day in the future when I do house projects again) get it enlarged, printed, and framed.

And here are some from her site that I love.

I think I'm becoming obsessed with family portraiture.

Ramona is a dream to work with, brings all sorts of cool fabrics to act as backdrops if you shoot indoors and want to use them (we did some with her grandmother's antique lace that are too nudey for the internet but that are pretty amazing) , and is one of those photographers that has that treasured virtue called patience, so you're not stuck feeling like you have to make silly faces for the camera and get the shot in the next 2 minutes or else. I so recommend getting in touch with her up if you've been thinking of getting some shots of you or your babe or your family done. She has one package which is 3 sessions with your baby over the course of a year. Is it too late for me to ask for another birthday present?

As I write this, Luciana is asleep in the Moby wrap (my new lifesaver since she doesn't seem to want to nap during the morning otherwise) and making high grunty dream sounds. Where is she in that vast subconscious housed in that tiny head of hers? I don't get to know, but I think she's having quite the adventure.