Friday, September 7, 2012

I've Moved!

My friends, it is with great pleasure that I announce my change of location! The marvelous Desi has built a website for me that Figs and Feathers is now linked to. Do visit me there, and when you're on the blog there's a handy red RSS feed button so you'll never miss a post. See you over there!

Monday, August 20, 2012


A couple of mornings ago, Luciana woke up at 6:15. I woke up at 6:06 and upon checking the clock, immediately panicked. My daughter has slept past 6am exactly 3 times in the past 6 months, so 6:15 seemed like justifiable cause for alarm.

Then I remembered: oh yes. Me and worry. We're old friends and even though I've tried to break off our relationship, W has a habit of paying unexpected and intense visits at times I didn't realize I'd left the door open. Should the little miss choose to sleep in again someday, dear God, please help me to lie there and enjoy it.

So Luciana is one. Coming up on 13 months actually. I'm pretty sure my lag in posting has been because I'm convinced there's a perfect and profound thing I want to say about her being this age. About us both completing a huge year. But here's something else I know about mothering: there isn't the time to try to be perfect anymore. And the deepest insights I have about her and myself happen unplanned: right before I fall asleep. During a quiet moment in the car. While watching her on the playground. My life isn't set up anymore to dedicate long stretches to crafting words about observations, and I've been longing just to get something down.

My babe is one.

Some things that are going on: she's walking. Pretty much....Her record is 15 steps, over the weekend she went from usually taking 3 or 4 to usually taking 6 or 8. She lifts her arms over her head and I want to hand her a tiny umbrella and play circus music. It is so so sweet.

I still nurse her 4x a day, and I have no idea when that will change. Neither one of us seems in a rush.

The monologues before naps and bed are....I have no word. The most glorious sounds I hear all day. She loves her crib and loves her world in there. If you remember me agonizing about moving her in there you know how major this is for me. She asks to get in when she's tired: we'll be snuggling in the big chair and suddenly she'll sit up and point. I'll ask if she's ready to go see Lambie (our creative name for her lovey which is.....a lamb) and she'll wave her arms and legs--her signature I am Excited that You Understand Me move--and I'll take her over and place her inside. She says Bye Bye to me and begins to coo to Lambie. I leave and spend the next 15 minutes or so listening to her. She sings--I swear the other day it was a tune I sing to her---she makes loud sounds over and over. She rolls around and looks at books and all the time is chattering away to her friends that live in the crib--her cow and her dolls and her rabbit-- that clearly understand everything she says. I honestly marvel every day at the range and the pitch and the openness with which she just lets it all out. I've taken to putting my iphone outside the door and making voice memos of her. I'm going to listen to them before my next audition.

She eats what she eats and it seems, from a chat we had in our mommy-and-me group, that most kids her age like only a few things. Since she shoves palmfuls of pasta (usually whole-grain at least) in her mouth I've taken to tossing the "nuh nuh" with hempseeds, flax and quinoa along with the cheese and/or yogurt. She likes them as much as the parmesan and butter ones and I sleep easier knowing she's getting food groups other than dairy and carb.

At her party (which was bigger than any I've had for myself I think ever) she had one bite of cake and was off to play.

She has friends that she knows and loves, one of her besties being her cousin Dash.

I'm starting to let her pick her clothes out--offering her a couple choices and she gets to decide.

And me.....

A year into being a mom.

Delia sent me this article from the Huffington Post and my whole body exhaled when I read it because the writer says so perfectly the 2 sides that go on being a mom. The bliss, the love that is so crazy and so big, and the incredible challenge that it is--to be a mom, a wife, an artist, a person living in a tech world of emails and tweets and Pinterest. HOW does anybody have time to do pinterest????

I mean it when I say I love being a mom more than anything I have ever felt, been, done.

And there are ways I so wish I could do "better" all the time. I know Luciana feels things without me saying them or consciously expressing them. I worry (yes, that friend again) that she'll pick up my habit of rushing through things--of being frenetic when I feel late or behind; that she'll be a grazer like I am rather than enjoying beautiful complete meals; that she senses when my fuse is short and will blame it on herself. I know she knows when I tune out--she looks away. What does she think of my phone which I try not to use but I definitely do?

Here's what I know 12 1/2 months in: I can't control what she feels and thinks any more than I can control what another adult feels or thinks. And if I was a Perfect Mom she would never see feelings and stress and might feel weird when she had them. So instead of trying not to have those things happen, I'm working on how to I behave when I'm stressed, sad, angry and I'm with her. I know that when I take care of myself by meditating, even for 3 minutes in the morning, I ride the day with so much more grace. And still I stubbornly refuse to do it sometimes, believing I have to check email like a rat pressing a lever. But these days when I feel myself about to blow, I tell her we're taking a Breathing Break. Rather than blowing a fuse, I blow my lips like a horse and she does the same, and we do that til we both start giggling. Or I tell her I'm going into my room for a minute to let some feelings out. I try to get ready to leave way before I or we have to walk out the door so I'm not freaking out looking for my keys. Things like that.

There are a lot of prayers on the fly.

I've stopped making to-do lists at the end of the day and am instead reading or journaling or hanging with Sky on the couch. Speaking of my exquisite husband--we are Bringing Sexy Back. It ain't always easy, but we're up for the challenge:). It used to be that my spiritual life and self-care was for me. Then it was for me and my marriage.  Now it's for me, for my marriage and for Luciana. I can't be the mother I want to be to her and the partner I want to be to Sky if I don't take tiny steps to keep my own heart open and surrendered. Happy mama equals happy baby equals happy family. If I have time to check email, I have time to spend 5 minutes taking care of myself. For most of this first year, I didn't need it like I'm starting to need it, maybe because I am re-meeting areas of my life that I've let lie dormant for many months. I can't give away what I don't have, so as we all head into our second year together, my promise to all of is I'm bringing some of my practices back. I've been at it for about a week, and it makes a difference when I go to clean the floor for the fourth time that day.

So yes, there's the feeling of passing the year mark and the game changing. It's more complicated, but it's better than ever. We are so lucky. Our life is so beautiful. Looking back on photos of her at one, three, five days old, what I want to say to my family is I love you. I love you. I love you so deeply, so endlessly, for forever. It goes too fast to stress about dishes and bills. We did it! One turn around the sun. May we be blessed with many many more. 

Now I get asked at least 3 times a week When is Number 2? Not yet, my friends. I will let you know.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

(Baby) Nay, I Say

I'm going to tell you all about the birthday. 
When I finish picking up wrapping paper and sit still long enough to take it all in.

This, however, is something I've been intending to post about for a month! I love that by being a mama I make friends I wouldn't know otherwise. It's through our babies that I met my gorgeous friend Delia, who works with Baby Nay. If we play word association with Baby Nay's clothes, I get


The last one, perhaps, because Luciana looks like one in this romper of theirs.

Then there's the dress. If you go on the Nay site, this one is actually in the Piccola Danza line--maybe just a tad fancier than Baby Nay, which a baby girl has to be sometimes. I would have put LC in this for her birthday, but we were playing outside in water and dirt. Not gonna happen.

Let it be known there are ruffly white bloomers under the dress, which get as much attention as the dress itself. I didn't catch it in Canouan, but if you zoomed in on the neckline of this dress, you'd see little pearls. I can't get enough of how the dress billows around my babe when a wind blows.

I hadn't heard of Baby Nay before Delia, but now I've seen them everywhere. If you need further proof of their deliciousness, start here, then head to the site and start swooning.

photo from Nay et al

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Year Ago

A year ago tonight I went into labor. Luciana turns one on Sunday. Every day as I hold her I marvel that this can be so. I get teary a lot because my baby is not, in fact, a tiny baby anymore. She is actually incredibly tall and incredibly stable, and her body is so sure of itself as it moves through space. Her mind is up to things I couldn't fathom being witness to in those early days of her life. I get teary because that's what moms do, I guess, not because I would have her slow the pace of her glorious life for me.

We're having a party for her on Sunday, and I have a feeling that I'll cry during the Happy Birthday, and probably again that night after we put her to bed and I can take a minute to be still.

A year ago I wrote this in my journal:

I feel like my emotional vocabulary is so limited right now. --I don't know how to describe what it is.--I feel, as I walk, like I'm only half-connected to the ground, like I can only half-focus on what's in front of me. There's the presence and the knowledge with every blink, every dish I pick up, every time I sit down to get quiet or rest, that the baby is coming soon. My body is about to do something it's never done before. It knows what to do. It knows what to do, and the baby, my baby, the soul that's chosen now, and chosen me and Sky, knows what to do.

If we didn't know each other a year ago, you can read the story of how Luciana came into the world here. I didn't know what this year would be, and I certainly didn't know what my labor would be. She was born after 4 days and a wild ride worthy of Mr. Toad.  Nothing, absolutely nothing, could have prepared me for the love I feel for this girl and the gift that motherhood is. More on all of that after Sunday.

Thursday, July 12, 2012


We were here last week. 5 square miles in the Caribbean Ocean and, including us, there were 8 people on the resort. 

We had

Time as a family

Time as a couple (oops no couple pics)

Time individually with Luciana

Time alone

It was such a happy week--we haven't had that much time together the 3 of us since Luciana was born and Sky was home for 10 days. Sky and I haven't had dinner together for a week straight since the same time. We'd spend all day on the beach, come back to our enormous villa for naps (for which I joined Luciana and which if you know me is completely out of character. I loved every second of mosquito-netting-draped cool-white-sheeted sleep), and after Luciana went to bed we'd hire a babysitter to come watch TV while we rode to dinner in our golf cart. I started reading a novel that's longer and more complicated than Hunger Games. I forgot my phone in LA and didn't long onto email except twice for 5 minutes. 

We're home and Sky's back to working 60-hour weeks and Luciana and I are on the park circuit, but we're all still feeding on last week--feeling really close and despite baby jet lag and some 4am wakings, rested and refreshed. I have spent a lot of time in my life wanting things different: wanting a different career, a different body, a different income, a different house, different talents, WHATEVER. And I've spent a lot of time counting: calories, dollars, credits on actors' resumes that I've been jealous of, minutes I sit in traffic. I didn't want anything different last week, and in thinking about this year with Luciana--and I had a lot of time to think-- I don't want anything different than it's been or how it is. She's coming up on a year this month, and part of me feels that I can't keep playing the card of I Have a New Baby so Therefore I Don't Have to Have My Life Figured Out. However, I don't have it figured out, so for today the card stays in the deck. I don't know why, but sitting under the full moon by our, um, private pool (thanks, upgrades), I made a wish that I stop counting. It's always a sign that I'm scared of something, and I got to remember last week that there is nothing to be scared of. Life is, and always has been, exactly how it's supposed to be.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Birthday Cake

I've been stalling on this one because this recipe is just so dang long to write out! But we're leaving town in less than a week and I can't put this off til we get back. That would be wrong.

I BAKED recently. It's not something that happens all that often around here because I'm busy making baby food and cleaning up Lake Luciana, ie the dining area floor, after every meal. That takes time, people. But Sky's mom had a birthday not too long ago and she came up to LA to celebrate at our house and I thought the least I could do was make the lady a birthday cake! It was so satisfying to make a birthday cake. It totally justified the cake stand and dome I impulse-bought a month or so ago from Bountiful during their 50% off sale (which seems to still be going on and I do suggest a trip). It was delicious, pretty, and I have a tub of buttercream frosting in the freezer so my work is half done for next time.

When Sky told me his mom likes old-fashioned desserts, I decided on coconut cake. It's one of those things I've never made, always want to order, and rarely, if ever, eat. I have a copy of the New Best Recipe book by Cook's Illustrated and it's one of my go-tos for classic recipes. The recipes are really good, and there are explanations of how they arrived at them which is educational if you want to read. Also equipment and technique tips. I recommend. This one has coconut flavor in the cake, in the frosting, and then coconut is pressed all over it. YUM.

I'll say before I start that this cake is supposed to be 4 layers. Now, I am no professional baker, but I've done my share and I followed the recipe EXACTLY and have good pans and a great oven. My rounds didn't rise enough to make 4 layers remotely do-able. So mine was 2 layers, and totally delicious. I made the cake the night before and frosted the morning of the bday. Both the cake and the frosting use a lot of egg whites so this is a perfect excuse to make ice cream with the leftover yolks. I will also give the disclaimer that the cream of coconut used in both the cake and the frosting is anything but organic. I think there might be some, um, artificial things in it, and the cake is full of gluten and sugar. And it is f-ing delicious and a crowd pleaser. Not for my baby, however. Yet.

said cake stand and dome housing subject of post

Coconut Layer Cake
 from New Best Recipe

for the cake:

2 1/4 c cake flour, sifted, and extra for dusting pans
1 large egg plus 5 egg whites
3/4 c cream of coconut *
1/4 c water
1 t coconut extract
1 t vanilla extract
1 c sugar
1 T baking powder
3/4 t salt
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, cut into 12 pieces

2 c packed shredded sweetened coconut

for the buttercream:

4 large egg whites
1 c sugar
pinch salt
1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened but still cool, each piece cut into 6 pieces
1/4 c cream of coconut
1 t coconut extract
1 t vanilla extract

To bake cake:

1. Adjust oven rack to lower middle position; preheat to 325. Grease and dust with flour 2 9-in cake pans.

2. Beat whole egg and egg whites to combine in large liquid measuring cup . Add cream of coconut, water, coconut and vanilla extracts; beat with fork til combined.

3. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in bowl of mixer and beat on lowest speed to combine--30 sec or so. With mixer still running at lowest speed, add butter, 1 piece at a time, til mixture like coarse meal and there are no large butter pieces: 2-2 1/2 minutes

4. With mixer still running, add 1 cup egg mixture to flour and butter mixture. Increase speed to med-high and beat til light and fluffy--45 sec or so. Add remaining liquid in steady slow-ish speed. Stop mixer, scrape batter down sides of bowl, then beat at med-high speed to combine (batter will be thick).

5. Divide batter between pans and level with rubber spatula. Bake til cakes are deep golden brown, have pulled away from sides of pans, and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 30-40 minutes. (Rotate pans from front to back after 20 minutes). Do not turn off oven.

6. Cool cakes in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then loosen from sides with paring knife, invert onto racks and reinvert so tops face up. Cool to room temp.

7. To toast coconut: while cakes are cooling, spread shredded coconut on rimmed baking sheet, toast in oven til shreds are a mix of golden brown and white, 15-20 min, stirring a couple of times.

For the frosting:

1. Combine egg whites, sugar, and salt in mixing bowl; set bowl over a saucepan containing 1 1/2 in of barely simmering water. Whisk constantly til mixture is opaque and warm to the touch and registers 120 degrees on instant read thermometer (which I do not own and was fine without), about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.

2. Beat whites at high speed in mixer til barely warm (80-ish degrees if you have thermometer), glossy and sticky, about 7 minutes, Reduce speed to med-high and beat in butter, 1 piece at a time. Beat in cream of coconut and coconut and vanilla extracts. Stop mixer, scrape down sides of bowl, then beat again at med-high speed til well combined, about 1 minute.

To assemble cake: If your cakes got tall enough, split each cake into 2 layers (the book has an illustrated guide as to how to do this well). Otherwise, frost top of one layer, place next layer on top and frost whole cake with a thin layer. Put in fridge to set for 10 minutes, then add as much frosting as you want, spreading and leveling with butter knife (or frosting spatula which, again, I do not have). Sprinkle top of cake with toasted coconut, then press coconut into sides of cake with your hands, letting excess fall onto parchment paper or something. Decorate, light, mount, whatevs and cut and serve when you're ready! You will have lots of frosting left over if you only do 2 layers.

*Cream of coconut is found in the liquor section of the grocery store and it is highly processed artificial stuff. But it makes this cake awesome. If anyone wants to come over for pina coladas, I have a bunch left in the fridge.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Stanislavski

Here are a few pics from Taos--we had a gorgeous time, all 4 generations of us. Luciana is now obsessed with dogs (or "dah" as she says whenever we see one) thanks to Sam and Lucy, who she spent lots of floor time with.

The newness of what she does every day continues. Today was stacking the Stacking Cups inside each other. It's been all about Taking Things Out for the last month or more, and now we seem to be shifting to Putting Things In. Her spoon in a cup and now these colored cups inside one another. She'll work at it for over 5 minutes, succeed, immediately pull the cups apart, and spend 5 more minutes trying to do it again. I watched this awesome video on Janet Lansbury's site and I thought of it this morning while Luciana was taking herself on the Stacking Challenge. When she had done it, she didn't want me to applaud or give her a thumbs up, she just wanted to take her work apart and figure it out again. It makes me want to go do work for work's sake because the challenge is so fantastic, not because I'm going to get some reward or someone's approval after.

So of course she's my teacher in a million ways---we always hear that about kids and it's true true true. Before I became a mama, I imagined that being one would make me a better actor because I'd have lots of practice being present. True. And I'd be less attached because I had something more important to me in my life. True. But her communication is reminding me of something so essential to my acting work--and to communicating in life in general---that didn't occur to me. 

Luciana is really vocal and always has been. When she was a tinier baby I knew generally what she was saying: she was uncomfortable, she was happy, she wanted something. And as she gets older, naturally her sounds expand and because she can make more sounds she can get more specific.  Last week Sky remarked that when Luciana makes a sound I know exactly what she wants, down to the specifics of a particular object she wants or a particular way she wants to be held or somewhere she wants to go. It's kind of true. Not always, but often, what she's saying with her voice and body are crystal clear to me. I don't think this is because I'm some kind of mommy psychic. I do pay attention, that's my part, but I've got this theory that the reason I know what Luciana wants is because she knows what she wants, and she is so committed to communicating it that she doesn't need the English language.

So what she's reminding me about my work is that I have to know exactly what I want and how I feel about that if it's going to mean anything to people on stage with me and to the audience. I can't just arbitrarily decide to get mad for no reason--because I think it will be "exciting" to do or to watch. If what I'm doing doesn't ring true or deep for me, it's not going to ring true or deep for the audience, and then what's the point? We don't get sucked into stories because they're ok; we get sucked in because they resonate with us even if that resonance is outlandish humor-- the humor usually comes from someone wanting something really badly. Luciana, through all the things she says without saying them, is a living breathing crawling standing squawking example of clear intention expressed with whole voice and body. Even with no words I get what matters to her; she gets to me at that level below the words, and wonderful artists do the same.  I don't know the next time I'll be auditioning or performing but I hope when I do I don't get lazy, and I bring my pumpkin's wisdom with me. Meanwhile I'm inadvertently memorizing "I am A Bunny" and creating all the voices I can for Boris the Bear, Wesleigh the Elephant, Clare the Cow and their consorts.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Next Week

My friends!

I'm missing you. Luciana and I are heading to Taos tomorrow and I'm unplugging in a big way. Would you promise to visit me here next week? I've been jotting down notes on a post I'm really excited to write. Have a beautiful week; drink in the long days; may you feel enormous amounts of joy just because you can.

xx Melanie

PS: This was Friday at 6pm at our house. Which one of us needs the nap?

photo by the illustrious Sky Meltzer

Thursday, May 10, 2012

In Time

Dear Luciana,

We were grounded today since my car died two days ago and Daddy and I are sharing his for the moment. It was perfect--we couldn't do any errands or even any outings that require a car, so we took 2 walks, played in the yard both morning and afternoon, had a visit from a wonderful friend, and crawled around the house no less than 15 times. Yes, WE crawled. Not just you. My knees are constantly bruised these days; yours somehow have not a mark.

I've been wanting to write to you for a good week. As usual time is flying by in the beautiful blur that is being your mama. Each moment is so crystalline while it's happening, but suddenly you're 9 1/2 months almost, it's getting near the end of another week, and time feels so fast when I say that. I sit with you to eat 3 or 4 times a day now. We have breakfast, lunch and dinner, and sometimes we're getting wild and throwing in a snack. (You still nurse a lot: we both seem to like it.) You were feeding yourself a couple of days ago--which suddenly is of much greater interest to you than having me feed you---and I was looking at you, offering you bites from a spoon, in a way that was no big deal--we're getting the hand of this.  Then I had one of those moments where time freezes and I said to myself  "this is my daughter feeding herself". This girl who 9 months ago spent her days lying on me, her daddy, any one of the people who love her and came to visit her, waved her arms and legs a little but couldn't roll, couldn't go anywhere, couldn't digest food. This is my daughter who gets around the whole house now. Who stands and balances and makes the same sound every time she sees a cat. This is my daughter who looked me straight in the eye a few mornings ago and said "mama". This is my daughter who turns the pages of her own books, who takes everything out of everything, who invites me to play by waving her arms and tells me when she's done eating by pulling on her bib. This is may daughter who I see doing these things every day and it's just who she is until I am stunned, stupefied, speechless when time freezes and I say to myself This is Who She Is. This is who you are. And a month from now, if I write something like this, You Now will be rolled into new skills, sounds, interests, expressions. Your face will look just slightly different. You'll have a little more hair. Certain clothes I love to put you in I will have folded up and stored in the garage because they don't fit you anymore.

Nothing has marked the passage of time like being your mother. I won't say I want to freeze time. I don't: I don't wish I could freeze you or freeze me or freeze the magnificent adventure of being with you. But I wish I could expand my brain. So that I remember the exact size of your feet when you were born. So I remember the little wave of your hair in the back as it is now. So I remember the way you move your mouth in a silent "ba ba ba ba" when you're concentrating on standing. Because these are clear to me now, but when you're 18 how will I remember it all? And I want to remember it all.

On our afternoon walk today in the Ergo you fell asleep. I didn't expect it:  you were full of energy when we set out. But it was warm and golden out, you had a little hat on that I suppose gave you some privacy and maybe toned down a bit of the stimulation, and all of a sudden, about 10 minutes from home you fell asleep. It was such a treat. I used to walk you three times a day to help you sleep, and though it is wonderful for both of us that you love your crib now, I miss the feeling of you sleeping on me, and getting to hold your little head in my right hand and being quiet: not talking on my phone or needing to do anything other than walk and feel you resting. I walked a bit extra, and then I decided to try something: I went home and climbed onto the big orange chaise in the front yard, keeping you in the Ergo. You didn't stir. And we lay there for about half an hour until you woke up. And I remembered a year ago, when you were due in 2 1/2 months, and the weather started to get warm and the artichoke plant was full and the succulents in the front yard were blooming and I lay on that chaise. I lay on that chaise and felt you, and today, with you resting on my belly and chest and the artichoke full and the succulents blooming, I breathed and felt you. And if you had me close my eyes and placed 2000 babies on my chest and belly I would know you when you got there. I don't know how to explain it, but what I felt last year and what I felt today were exactly the same. You are an unmistakeable presence to me, and wherever you are in the world or in your life, you can always come sleep on me.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Get Curious

OMG people. I'm taking a detour today from mama musings because I can't not share the adorableness that is Tiny Curiosity. Created by one of my besties Carmen's cousin Julia, it is honestly some of the most darling baby clothes, nursery decor, and little accessories that I've ever seen. Seriously! Don't stop reading if you're not a mom. If you need to shop for a mom, or one day might shop for a mom, bookmark her page now.

Julia and Carmen came over a couple weeks ago so Luciana could model the Ellie Elephant line

And while Ellie is pink and grey, making her more suitable to the bambinas, Julia has taken requests to make Ellie green. Or blue. I guess then he becomes Elliott, and the baby boys have loved him.

I still have no theme to Luciana's nursery, but if you do you could style a whole room around Ellie or her cohort who is a little owl. Look at this mobile and this quilt! (Quilts are how Julia got into this whole thing to begin with. She makes her friends custom ones for their babes. I need to be her friend.)

Once you pick out your quilt, you can order bunting flag banners to match. Luciana's nursery might be beyond the work-in-progress it continues to be had I found all of this earlier on.

Lastly, and I am ordering one right now, is this genius toy:

It's a crinkle ring. Meaning that all those leafy-looking pieces of fabric have that famous crinkle paper in them that draw babies like bees to flowers, and they're attached to the ring that can be a) a teether and/or b) the perfect new addition to the Shake Shake dance that my baby, for one, does with pretty much everything that makes sound.

I have a craft crush on Julia, I really do.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Am I Still Here....?

I just put Luciana to bed. Her new favorite thing is to cruise over to the baby monitor which up until now has perched on the edge of her crib. I see her on the monitor see it, head for it, and I'm whispering to her in the hopes of telepathically communicating to her, "Don't do it! Don't do it!" meanwhile cracking up as her eyes glow like baby owl eyes and she gets closer and closer and bigger and bigger and then....crash. It usually lands on the floor; two days ago I had to go in and take it out of her hands where she was happily examining it in the crib.

So tonight I got one step ahead of her and I put the monitor on the floor before I put her in bed, and snuck in after she was asleep to place it where I can see her and occasionally make sure she's still breathing, because, yes, 8 1/2 months in I still do that. Let me pause here and say she is sleeping!!!!! I put her to bed somewhere between 6:30 and 7 and she pretty much goes til 4:30 or 5 in the morning when I nurse her, then she sleeps again til 6:15 or 6:30. Whaaaaaaaaa????? And though it's a slower road, the naps are progressing too. !!!!!!!! Anyway, I snuck in to replace the monitor and she was actually still awake. Barely. Just lying on her side looking or not really looking at whatever her eyes were focused on, and she actually didn't see me. On seeing that she was awake, I got out of her sightline because I didn't want to confuse her, but I don't know if I'll ever forget that look: total sweetness and stillness just before her little eyes closed and she drifted to her special dreamland. I fall more for that girl every day.

Which has brought up some confusion about career, ambition, and who I think I am. Let's just say that there are certain parts of my work that haven't happened the way I've always wanted them to happen, and that part of me wants to turn my back on those parts forever and not look back. I love being a mom. I love doing the work that I do get to do. Maybe that's perfect and these other ambitions are old ideas I can let go of. But maybe not. Maybe I've got plenty on my plate and many extra servings of joy and I don't have the time to think about the career dreams the way I did but maybe I do still want them. And if I do still want them, I should probably go after them. But if I don't want to go after them because I love being with my girl then where does that leave me? And so the wheel turns.

Here's what I know: it's entirely possible I'm hiding out a bit. It's entirely possible that things have changed and I'm letting certain things go. It's entirely possible to have it all if I want it.

I know I'm not the first to feel this, and every mama has a different story about what happened to her identity after her heart, as that gorgeous quote says, was suddenly living outside her body. I don't know what mine will be---joyfully accepting the letting go or joyfully going for those visions I've had forever more than I've ever gone for them or both. Or later. But I know I want to feel spectacular about it---for my own fulfillment and so that I can model that for my daughter. I guess my job for today is to sit in the unknowing and make sure I'm not thinking about it too much when I'm playing with this one. More will be revealed, as they say.

Friday, March 30, 2012

8 Months

Luciana is 8 months today. Or yesterday. I'm writing this on Thursday but it'll post on Friday so....ok. She's 8 months or 8 months and a day. I've been really emotional this week and though it doesn't feel specifically about her having a mini-birthday, I think in some ways it is. I already feel her babyhood passing by quickly which leads me to see in some nonlinear part of my brain her whole childhood passing by quickly. How swiftly our lives together pass. It's this pulling on my heart that is so rich and full it's almost heavy; it's a sweet kind of heartbreak for all these moments she's not going to live again and I won't get to live again with her. I understand in those moments women who have baby after baby after baby: the never wanting to give up the completely new.

I've had some garden-variety mama struggles in myself recently: food, sleep, and what's my role in facilitating both. I was walking with Luciana earlier this week after a morning of beating myself up for basically not being able to control my daughter: she doesn't eat as much as I think she "should" eat. She'd had a hard night of sleep and I was blaming myself. And it hit me with the grace of the sunshine we were walking in: I can't control or manage my daughter's wellbeing. I can't make her eat. I can't make her sleep. I won't be able to make her have this friend and not that one or play this way or that way. My daughter is who she is, and I am here to be a guide and a teacher where she'll let me in, but I cannot have an agenda with her. An agenda? Of course I don't have an agenda. I'm not planning where she should go to college or anything. But every time we sit down at the table and I think she should eat a certain amount, that's an agenda. And she eats on certain days and she doesn't on others. I've stressed over that, especially because she's a lean girl, and I really got this week that stressing over it is not my job. And it's not nice for either her or me. My job is to offer and make is pleasant. And to completely respect her choice in the moment.

I read a great piece about appreciating what your kids can do. Rather than focusing on She's not crawling yet! He hasn't said Mama yet! the article encouraged me to just watch the magical way in which Luciana moves even though, no, she hasn't crawled. She's poised to: she gets up into position and plays with moving an arm forward. She's studied and a little cautious as she lifts her hand up. She hangs there, suspended, and then, as though abandoning her own game completely in an act of rebellion against herself, drops onto her belly and happily and gracefully rolls where she wants to go. And I remember wondering if she would ever roll.....Just to witness her collecting and testing her data is so joyful and so phenomenal. This is the girl who came out of my belly 8 months ago, and now she invites me to play, has her favorite games, converses with me in her big sounds, is strongly opinionated about likes and dislikes. 8 months from now she'll be.....I can't even imagine. I value more than just about anything these times on the floor where she just is: being and doing what she wants and I get to revel in it.

So as for struggling with wanting to control food and sleep: I thought, should I go get her weighed? Nah. She eats when she wants to eat. She's happy and full of energy. She keeps growing more hair and I swear her eyes get bluer every day: clearly her body is working. If I'd never heard of percentiles would I be worried? The answer was No. So we skipped the scale, I continue to offer food a few times a day, she drinks a lot of breastmilk, and here we are. As for sleep, we actually started doing a more structured plan with her in terms of night feedings and me not going to her every time she squeaked, and it's been working beautifully (knock wood). I'm starting to get sleep for the first time since she was born.

I guess if there's one challenge I'm posing to myself for the next month of my hummingbird's life it's What if I Choose Not to Worry About her At All Today? Of course this excludes illness, getting hurt, making sure we're babyproofed. I'm talking about the worry clutter that clouds the purity of being with her. I'm willing to drop that for the next 31 days.

I was reminded this week thanks to my mom of Kahlil Gibran's words on children:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you
And though they are with you they belong not to you.

Happy happy happy 8 months my precious exquisite remarkable girl.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

We Love Now....

A couple of things I am really enjoying with Miss Thing over here:

First, the Kissy Kissy long-sleeve onesie. Someone gave me one of these before Luciana was born (I think that person was hedging a bet I was having a girl---the onesie had lace trim and everything) and after one wear I immediately went out and bought more in the 0-3 size, then went to 3-6 mos, now in 6-9 months size. I started with white, now have added pink, and should probably get online and see what other lovely soft colors I can find. I seriously put Luciana in these 4 days a week: they are the perfect layer under a short-sleeved tee or a dress and they're great on their own with a cardigan on top. I feel like an ad saleswoman right now, but they are SO soft and SO lightweight and just so sweet under everything.

This photo was when she was a YOUNG baby. She's such a seasoned one now....

If you don't know about these books, you need to. Like their name implies, they are indestructible. Luciana is a fan of eating paper these days, which means books with paper pages are pretty much out. And while we love board books, they can't be played with in quite the same way--as in bent, folded, flapped, crumpled. Another thing I like about them is that they don't have words--at least the 2 we have don't. So we get to make up our own stories or talk about the colors or read it backwards if we want to. I highly highly recommend and they travel brilliantly as well.

As for mama, I'm pretty much living in the soft long sleeve tees I got from Target recently layered over their stripey tank tops. I felt pretty good about myself when I had three people ask me in a day where I'd gotten my shirt. When Target is good, it's so good. I dream of updating my wardrobe---it's been a long time, my friends, but that would require taking time to go shopping. Which I haven't figured out yet.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Weekend for Three

As I said we were, we went away last weekend.

It lovely.

Sky and I had amazing time with Luciana together---that was most of the weekend and that was wonderful. She looked back and forth to us with what seemed like big delight and a bit of fascination---we were really light on the family playtime the last couple of months. But we also each had great one-on-one time with her--I get lots of that but Sky doesn't and man, does that girl love her daddy. And he and I had a little time with each other. That's the beauty of the travel crib: baby goes to sleep in the bathroom, where it's really quiet and really dark. Never mind that Mom and Dad had to go outside to the patio and pee in the bushes. No joke.

There was some amazingly warm weather and Luciana got to put her feet in the ocean for the first time.

She spent lots of time playing in the grass.

And oh yes--where we stayed! I didn't get many photos but suffice to say the Four Seasons in Montecito is as good as we hoped it would be. I have wanted to stay there for years, and at low season with a stay 2 nights, get the 3rd free promotion plus "Incidentals" credit, it was manageable. A splurge, but a manageable splurge, especially given that a nursing mama can't drink many of their delicious cocktails. When you stay there you have access to the Coral Casino, a swanky beach club across the street with a crazy good swimming pool. I do want to return there in July with a big sun hat and a copy of The Great Gatsby. But then it will be high season, so I think I'll have to wait.

And that's OK, because as wonderful as they are, life is not about hotels. It's about having time to kiss your beloveds on the nose. Sometimes nice hotels are facilitators for that since there are no kitchens to clean. But the point is to find time for this stuff daily. I'm happy to say that we have.