Gabriel turns Two: Happy Birthday Sweet Boy

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Quirky Grace Has a New Home

Hi everyone, I've moved Quirky Grace to my own place in cyperspace. You can enjoy reflections on parenting, irreverent spirituality, poetry, politics & abundant (most uncensored) life at


Thanks for sharing the journey!

Happy Christmas and a Very Merry New Year To You & The Ones You Love!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Two Years Old

Two Years Old

You're two years-old
Two years-new, growing wise
Still wild, occasionally tamed
Pulling hair with glee
Helping me sweep
Whirling CD disks like planets
"Different Song, Please," You say,
Forming words from the air
Epiphany! Miracle!
You're becoming you
Before my eyes
You're two years-old
Two years-new and growing wise

~For Gabriel on his 2nd Birthday

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Happy (Lead-filled) Christmas?

Now when you're about to deck the halls with bows of holly, you probably aren't thinking, "How delightful, my holiday lights are wrapped in lead, which is known to cause infertility, insanity and cancer." Unfortunately, this year, that's exactly what ran facetiously through my head, as my husband hauled our fake, pre-lit Christmas tree out to the dumsper -- wearing protective gloves, after reading those little paper tabs on the Christmas lights that actually say the strands of holiday cheer are chock full of lead and "other chemicals." God knows what.

David and our oldest daughter Nika trooped out to the Garden Center and bought a mini real tree and marched on CVS in search of non-lead Christmas lights.

Apparently, CVS doesn't carry any lead-free holiday lights.

"Deck the halls with bows of lead, fa la la la la la la la. Dawn we know our gay apparel, fa la la la la la la la, soon we will all be dead, fa la la la la la la la, tis the season for jolly folly, fa la la la la la la la la la!"

So our humble, scrawny little Christmas tree will have no lights. We'll stick with our one candle, which we light for advent each night. It is enough. Every night when we say what we're thankful for, Gabriel always says in his sweet, almost-two-year-old voice. "candle."

And I'll be sending a message to the EPA about what the *F&^#@* is wrong with us that we keep letting lead products infiltrate the consumer market place, putting our kids and future kids at risk. Because if they'd had lead Christmas lights in 30 BC, maybe Mary would have been infertile and a virgin birth and a fertility miracle just seems like overkill, in my opinion. Like having steak and bacon on the same night.

Happy (un-leaded) Christmas, and to all an un-leaded night.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Time Traveling to get the Rose-Colored Glasses

Time travel would be so cool. Or it might be devastating. Either way, heading into the future would sure put the present in perspective.

"Enjoy 'em when they're little -- it goes so fast." So say nostalgic older parents who gaze with sentimental adoration at my babies, who truly will be no longer babies in a blink of an eye. And that's when I'll get to close my eyes, undisturbed, thank you very much.

If only I could time travel...taste the ache of longing for my babies, the twinge of pain recalling how many waste moments of pure love. If only I could see now with the Rose Colored Glasses of the future.

I am practicing for my New Year's Resolution, in hopes of giving myself a head start:

I will remember those words, savoring with sleepy eyes the precious little human beings who learn almost everything about life through my way of being, listening, seeing, loving, laughing, showing, opening, guiding and communicating. I will enjoy every bit of this timeless gift, dammit.

My attention turns to my breath, not in meditative peace, but in anxious observation of how patter-patter and shallow my inhalations are as I feel ready to explode with the incessant, relentless demands.

And then one flashing grin -- just one sends to the moon and centers my spirit on the miracle before me, her life a gathering celebration of creation and its Creator.

"You're making memories!" admonishes my daughter's Kindergarten teacher as all the harried parents are corralled from one craft table to next, helping our children create cheap and priceless ornaments. This is a Christmas Decorating tradition that's been going on at Haddonfield Friend's School for over twenty years.

"I still have my pinecone!" says the teacher. "And today my Kindergartener is jumping out of a plane. Trust me, you'll wish for this day again, when you could sit with your Kindergartener and make holiday decorations with them."

Meanwhile, I am trying to nurse Avriana with one arm, help Gabriel up on my lap with the other, while extracting sparklies from Avriana's mouth, holding her in place with my elbo and then leaning in to assist Nika in the very delicate process of gluing a cotton pom pom on the hat (I almost typed hate) of a plastic snowman.

That was last week, and already, I'm glad I went, not only because of what it meant to my daughter, but because of the lingering connection created by my willingness to enter into the insanity of Kindergarten parent-duties of of love for my big baby girl, whose growing into power, love and beauty more everyday.

Today was Gingerbread House Day. I was able to get a sitter for the little ones, and give Nika my full attention. Well as much of my attention as I could in between letting my mind wander to wondering where we'll be when David starts residency, or feeling annoyed at how the Teacher spoke to parents EXACTLY like the Kindergarteners: "One Two Three, eyes on me!"
But I got some good moments in their, between the graham crackers and the gum drops, and I keep adding more moments and by the grace of God, I will learn a little more everyday to live now by the Rose Colored Glasses of tomorrow.

Because Today will evaporate, and all that'll be left is the love I gave and the love I let open the door of my silly, preoccupide heart.

"Behold, I stand at the door and knock!" Could it be the knock of a child? Let the little children come, and so help us God, let us be Awake and Welcoming when they come, for we are each other's little Christs, everyday.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Best (low-cheese) Advent Books For Kids

I confess to owning a few cheesy religious books -- you know, the ones that use short sentences packed with oversimplifications that aren't even childlike, as well as jargon that adults barely understand -- all of which make the story sound like a basic, almost pithy catechism to be memorized.

My son, bless him, has unfortunately become a big fan of Patricia A. Pingry's The Christmas Story, which in my humble opinion fits in the above-described category. I like to think my son has good taste, (what mother lacks this bias?) In order to maintain this belief, I am concluding he likes The Christmas Story on account of the rather lovely pictures of Mary and Joseph. My little boy likes to call the Holy Couple by name, pointing at them over and over, with shrieking delight. Gabe especially has a thing for Mary. He has, I fear, a crush on the mother of God.

Mary! That's Mary" exclaims almost two-year-old Gabriel, like he's in love, caught up in a sparkling epiphany of his own.

Like I said, the boy's got good taste.

Mary worship aside, I would like to introduce my kids to some better kids literature filled with the longing, truth and beauty of advent, with its crowning moment, the birth of God with us.

Here are my current favorites, all of which can be located on Amazon.

1. The Three Wise Women by Mary Hoffman, pictures by Lynne Russell

2. The Legend of St. Nicholas: A Story of Christmas Giving by Dandi Daley Mackall, Illustrated by Buy Porfirio

3. The Little Shepherd Girl, by Juliann Henry, Illustrated by Jim Madsen

All these stories offer a unique perspective on their topic that brings alive the essential traditions we cherish, while expanding our eye's horizon and our hearts understanding in a way that is deep, yet childlike, although more applicable to kids four and up. The "up" includes people my age, and I'd bet my boots, well beyond.


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Wicked Sacrifices

In Wicked, the back story of the Wicked Witch of the West and how she got where she got, Elphaba's father is a priest who has devoted his whole identity and life to fighting idolatry. He has sacrificed wealth and the wellbeing of his wife in this fight. I discovered this gem -- a nibble for all ministers to mull over from time to time as a cautionary tale:

He would prevail. He was their minister. He had pulled their teeth and buried their babies and blessed their kitchen pots for years now. He had abased himself in their names. He had wandered with an unkempt beard and a begging bowl from hamlet to hamlet, leaving poor Melena alone in the minister's lodge for weeks at a time. He had sacrificed her for them. They couldn't be swayed by this Time Dragon creature. They owed him. (p 13-14)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

America, Genocide and a Haunting Echo of "Once Again"

I just began a book -- which happens far more frequently than the event of actually finishing one -- called Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide.

The book got a Pulitzer, and a well-earned one. This is a thick, heartbreaking, yet objective read that you cannot absorb without feeling shocked to the point of confusion. Over and over the signs are clear: large scale human slaughter based on being one kind of people and not another is about to happen, and it's not even news until everyone is dead. Yet however depressing, this book is readable and captivating, as good journalistic writing is, and I'm going to see if I can open my eyes and get a better look at the picture, however gruesome or complex.

In the preface, author Samantha Power makes the point that "It is in the realm of domestic politics that the battle to stop genocide is lost...No U.S. president has ever made genocide prevention a priority, and No U.S. president has ever suffered politically for this indifference to its occurrence."

As human beings, why on earth isn't genocide one of the top issues in the campaign climate these weeks and months? Can we make it important enough to get the matter of large scale human slaughter boosted above tax tug-of-wars and terrorism?

Can we make it important to intervene in genocide when we aren't sniffing after foreign oil?

A little piece of hope: I found this press release on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum website:

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Secretary of Defense William Cohen today announced that they will co-chair a Genocide Prevention Task Force jointly convened by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the American Academy of Diplomacy, and the United States Institute of Peace. The Task Force will generate practical recommendations to enhance the U.S. government's capacity to respond to emerging threats of genocide and mass atrocities."We have a duty to find the answer before the vow of 'never again' is once again betrayed," said Secretary Albright.

The "once again" buzzes in my hear, hauntingly.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Little Shepherd Girl

A new mattress was on its way for our little boy, Gabriel, and the house was littered with colorful toys and recycling bags, whose paper contents had been emptied gleefully across the living room space, even trailing down the stairs to our entryway like like bread crumbs. Amazon.com boxes piled like skyscrapers in the corner by the door. There was no room for the mattress, and the delivery was about to happen -- any time between 1pm and 4pm.

David, my husband assessed the situation and announced he was going to take care of the recycling and went about it, leaving me upstairs with our three little kids. Gabe wanted to press the other song on the CD player; Avriana popped like a foghorn, and Nika needed help opening the Peanut Butter -- and a reminder that pushing her brother off the stool is not an acceptable solution to territory disputes. I adore my kids and love them more than life itself.

And yet...

My nose quivered, opening to the fresh air cleverly wafting in each time the door opened and shut between savory trips to the dumpster outside our condominium complex. I sniffed the cardboard on its way outside, and compared that with the poopy smell emanating from a small bum slithering around on our blue rug; the sound of sleet with the sound of whine.

When I was little, I always wanted to shovel snow with my dad -- even if it was wet, heavy snow. I always choose raking leaves over sweeping the kitchen, stacking wood over chopping vegetables or wiping the table. It could be this remembrance that links me Sarah, the protagonist in a fabulous new Christmas story called The Little Shepherd Girl written by Juliann Henry.

Sarah wants to be a shepherd. She pleads with her to go out and watch the flock. Her Father's response at first, is traditional, even protective.

"No, Sarah," he finally said. "Daughters are meant for weaving and baking flat cakes. Only sons can protect the flock from a hungry wolf. That is just the way of things."

"But, Father," Sarah's voice rose, "you have no sons to bring the sheep to pasture! And why does my nose prefer the smell of sweet clover to that of bread dough?"

After I kiss my baby, nibble my toddler and read a story to my very own Little Shepherd Girl, who, like her mother, prefers to play outside, jumping rocks, than tending stoves or dressing babies, I ask David if we can switch places. Being an enlightened man (and certainly not my father,) he doesn't forbid my crossover into "his" territory, though he is caught off guard -- at least a little.

Soon I am outside in the chill, my boots slipping slightly on the sleet-covered sidewalk, with heavy bags filling my arms with life and strength and a sense of accomplishment. Air fills my lungs and I look up and thank God. And I think of Sarah, the little shepherd girl, who, on the Eve of Christmas is finally freed to follow her own North Star.

Caring for her sheep, and without abandoning a single one that first night out in the fields, Sarah, manages to shepherd the flock all the way to the manger, where she meets Baby Jesus -- ahead of her boy cousins, for that matter.

And this is my advent calling: To breathe the wild, fresh air of undomesticated life without abandoning any of my little lambs.

Each day may God open a new window, so I can see Sarah's North Star. And may it point me to the Baby Jesus, whom I discover in my own little ones when I come inside, my body tingling with air and life from beyond the kitchen where the little tots play.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Why men love abortion - Undefined Section

This article is pertinent to my last post, Unplanned Fatherhood: Men and Abortion
Why men love abortion - Undefined Section

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Unplanned Fatherhood: Men & Abortion

Recently on the ooze, an article was written by Kimberly B. George, called TO CHRISTIAN MEN: Letter from a Feminist. The writing is precise, balanced and compassionate -- a call to engagement with the weaknesses as well as the strengths of historic feminism.

The write-ins in the comments section range from open-minded and grateful to vitriolic voices equating feminism with abortion rights. I'm not even sure why abortion is considered a women's issue. It is a couple's issue, human issue, and a social issue.

Yes, pregnancy happens within a woman's body. Look though, the critical facts related to abortion are connected with a couple, culture and society

First of all, consider how a woman finds herself with an unintended pregnancy: unless she stole sperm from the daddy bank and used a turkey baster, a man participated equally in the action. Her egg did not impregnate itself. Yet like the woman Jesus finds about to be stoned for being caught in adultery, I wonder, what of the guy's responsibility? He gets to run away while she gets stoned?

I think not.

Yet to equate feminism with abortion is pretty much a modern equivalent of stoning the woman and letting the man run off with mild encouragement to use a condom next time -- and if the guy's a Christian, perhaps his "brother" hands him a copy of Joshua Harris's I Kissed Dating Goodbye. Let me ask you a question:

What would abortion statistics look like if men took 100% responsibility for either practicing abstinence or safer sex, and for being a present, involved Dad if a pregnancy results despite safest sex practices?

Mothers, fathers and churches: Are you as hard on boys as girls when it comes to sex and unexpected parenthood? Do you equally encourage your young men to be responsible in their sexual conduct as well as to step up and be good, active Daddies if an error occurs and someone with whom your son is involved becomes pregnant? Or would you pressure your son to get the girl to give the baby up for adoption or otherwise "make it go away" so as not to ruin your son's future? A woman's ability to choose life is closely tied with her opportunity to have a partner in caring for that life.

I don't know very many women who would abort their babies if they knew they could count on their partner to be accepting, available and supportive through the pregnancy and in the ongoing raising of the baby into adulthood. I am not implying the boy and girl should rush into marriage - only that that they commit to sharing the responsibility of being good parents to the child they created together.

I want this: before a guy judges a woman about abortion, I wish he would ask himself, "If I got a girl pregnant when I was ---- age old, would I be a supportive partner-in-parenthood from conception through college and beyond?

If not, I wish this guy would shut his trap, preferably permanently -- or at least 'til he has repented and become ready to receive and offer grace, which is all we have, anyway.

All you guys out there who've been through unplanned daddyhood and been there for your kids and your partner, I give you credit.

God knows, we need Young Father mentors, just as much as we need crisis pregnancy centers and other support sources for girls and women experiencing an unintended pregnancy.

Friday, November 30, 2007

This too shall pass (or why parenting young children is like passing a kidney stone)

It has been one of those weeks. My eight month-old, Avriana has eyes like the moon and a sensitive stubborn spirit like her Mama, only more so, if it is possible. She staunchly refuses to let me help her sleep, day or night. She is a wriggly, gorgeous caricature of the painting you saw in high school art class called "The Scream."

Similar, my toddler, Gabriel bangs on the door during "nap" saying, "open the door, mommy. Mommy let you out." When I let him out, to see if he has any actual needs there are two possible scenarios:

1) He has pooped and it's gross and I have to change it, which usually results in flailing and wailing that wakes up his sister, who has, perhaps finally fallen asleep after two hours of guttural screeching while I sat in her crib gently but firmly soothing her (and trying to do yogic breathing.)

2) He smiles, says, "Good morning," even if it is two o'clock in the afternoon and starts incessantly asking for "Frog and Toad."

When I pick up my five-year-old Nika from school, she is angry because her brother is kicking her. Also I didn't pack TWO juice boxes. I try to take an interest in her life: "How was art?"
"Yaga. Bobby."

Baby talk.

The last thing I need from my one child who is supposed not be a baby, except of course the other two seem so successful at taking all my resources by acting like babies, why wouldn't she try? And the poor thing, it's hard to be one whose always being asked to be a "big birl." I miss my Nika.

Frankly, Mama is tired of being a big girl too.

I take Nika to Barne's & Noble, for a brief outing together, despite the fact that I feel and emotionally physically that my heart is utterly tired and I am not sure I can go on, literally.

On the way, I get in the shoulder lane a few driveways before B & N, and out of one of them, an idiot driver decides to start pulling out -- I honk -- a collision is barely avoided and I practice yogic breathing, as we pull into the bookstore parking lot. I'm ready for a steamer. I see flashing lights. Whadya know? Apparently it was my fault that the other car almost hit me because I got in the shoulder lane too early. I cried when the police officer took my info, both because it was impossible not to, and also I have heard it helps commute tickets into warnings. I got a summons anyway. And as I breathed, filling my belly with all the weeks labor pains, I wondered if this kid-ney stone will ever pass.

This one will, I imagine, glimpsing ahead through a peep hole in my mustard seed binoculars, and there will be new kid-ney stones ahead. I only I will have the grace to make alters out of them as they pass, to remember where God has met me in my hour of need and created beauty, healing and love from the labors which invite our utmost and highest, even when we're at our weakest and lowest.

May God bring out treasures from this fragile jar of clay, and those entrusted to her care. Amen.

Milky Multitasking: Places I've Breastfed My Baby

1. In front of the soft porn section of Borders (don't you know breasts are FOOD)
2. Walking up the steps, carrying the mail
3. While dancing
4. In the kitchen while extracting Rice Milk from the fridge
5. In class
6. In her crib (desperate times call for desperate measures)
7. On an airplane
8. At the park
9. Over coffee at Starbucks
10. Hiding behind the coffee table at church

Yes, of all the places and circumstances under which I've fed my baby with the food God created just for her, the only place I've felt (and feel) uncomfortable breastfeeding my baby is at church. Hmmm...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The God's In My Snots:

i tunes was playing the Hamster Dance song, and my husband and our kids were goofy-dancing around, swinging, swirling, hippity-hopping, and after a while, Nika, our five-year-old hunkered down on the couch and assumed a rather peaceful, introspective posture. I asked Nika if she was tired.

Nika: No, it's just nice to lie down and have my own thoughts.

Me: Will you share your thoughts with me someday?

Nika: I'll share one of them with you right now.

Me: Tell me.

Nika: God...is everywhere. Which means God is inside my nose where the snifflies are. God's even in my SNOT! And in my bones.

Yes, God is everywhere.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Control Presence Peace

Control: what we want and can't have. The source of misery when we try to have it anyway. The cause of war when we try to have it over other people.

Presence: being there to be or do as the Spirit leads, to work with God to create beauty from what IS, because God is the Great I AM, and not the God of Shoulda Woulda Coulda.

Peace: it's not what you think. At least it's not what I think. More often it's the tranquility after the storm, or centering in love, smack in the midst of chaos, needs, hurricanes of conflicting demands, giving your all, allowing all your feelings, yet abiding in the Vine of Acceptance, the Arms that Love and Burn until we collapse in gentle, beautiful surrender.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Thank You

A full day. A full belly. A full heart.

Thanksgiving: a time not only of giving things, but of giving of ourselves...and then giving thanks for the good harvest that God grows from our planting, watering, tending and perhaps most difficult, waiting through this painful times when we are utterly helpless. This lesson came home to me this year, as my family and I celebrated Thanksgiving as a nuclear family. Cooking, playing, thanking, orchestrating, letting go, gathering, and all the other million things you do as a family with three young children often seems like a burden when I'm running on a long-dead battery. I know people whose babies sleep...like babies. My children have always had sleep habits that more closely resemble an insomniac crack addict going through withdrawal.

Yet there was grace today. A grace of embracing a time of family celebration and thankfulness and giving to the peeps I love the energy I could have miserly stolen for myself (it would have been spent on self-pity.) Yes, today I ran full steam ahead into the fields of family when a pull of moon-ebb could easily have dragged me away to Borders to work on my book alone. Grace alone led me to celebrate the beauty that is in my world, the flowers I've been watering, sometimes from a seemingly empty watering can. Thank you. Thank you again, dear One who Is, for the Grace of witnessing those seeds sprout, and sprout with spunky, sweet strength.

I watched today, while gently, with robust attention, my two older ones who usually fight washed cranberries together, picking out the squishy ones. I watched my littlest seeking with mighty spirit to join the big kids on the Marimba and in wrestling on the carpet. My oldest daughter said to my on our family walk, "Go be with your husband!" And so David and I walked together on this wonderful day -- a real Thanksgiving. Thanks Be.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Ambiguity, Idols and Socks

I am reading Forever Lily: An Unexpected Mother's Journey to Adoption in China, and I came across this quote:

Ambiguity is one the most difficult things to tolerate, and the intolerance leads to poor choices. Not knowing, not knowing how something will turn out, leads to impatience for an outcome. The impatience then results in one of two actions: either a resolution is corced, or there is a move to retreat, to give up. Either way, the result cannot be optimal, for in every situation, a process is working, an intricate, complex process, which has as its goal the highest outcome, the good of the whole, which we cannot easily see or grasp. The ability to allow the process to work can be called faith, and this faith is not a belief, this faith is not passive. The self-discipline needed to overome the anxiety of ambiguity takes enormous effort to sustain.

I am so a control freak. Not in the anal-cleaner sense. I'm also not an over protective, obsessive parent, and I don't care which way you hang the toilet paper. But when it comes to controlling what happens to me, or in some cases who happens to me, I am a serious case. I want to know the happy ending. I want to know how someone will react, and I want it to be the way I want them to react. I don't want to have to deal with ambiguity about whether someone will want to be my friend, or will be able to meet my needs or honor my boundaries; what I want instead is to get a promise from God that my life will turn out happy.

I am smart enough to know certainty is a hocus pocus illusion, an idol doll in a frosted window. I may have moments when I am in Love without it, but temptation is sly, and I open my mouth and let hell fly out in search of some measure of control or certainty, and the only thing that is certain is that my idol is porcelain, with a highly flammable dress.

I am hoping to be wise someday. Peaceful, unnattached, fully available, with laughing eyes that learned compassion instead of despair. I'm going to go skinny dipping when my body billows like seaweed, and by the grace of Grace, I'm going to love the socks off of life, even when it stinks, and I'm gonna learn to bide my time in the Presence, allowing this process that has as its goal, the highest good. The good in God.

Looking in the mirror

It is one of the ironies that we attract people who cause us to deal with ourselves. And I do think that when Jesus said, "Love your enemies," it would have been helpful if he had mentioned that a prerequisite to loving Other Enemies is learning to accept and love the enemy within, because we are all so alone and desperate and we act and feel out of this place, and that's how we make enemies of ourselves and one another. Then we see it in someone else -- a co-worker, a nanny, a spouse, a child or sibling, and we when we witness that desperate way of living based on fear or need of one kind or another, we want to kill that part of ourself we see in them, whichc means we get wacko, and wammo, you're left with a cat fight, homeland security, marital breakdown or isolation at best (or worst.)

My au pair is awfully like me. And I mean, certain parts of my self which I find awful, I see in her. We also look like sisters and are quite similar in a number of neutral and beautiful ways. I am having a problem with her, and it's like as bad fighting with my husband -- maybe worse. How do I deal with the part of myself I see in her? How do I deal with her, knowing she is not me, and can't be expected to respond to whatever I do in the way I (or any of my inner parts) would respond?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Weekend and the Art of Being

Weekend. A time away from the work week, school week, living by someone else's agenda. A period of homebody-ness or adventure. A time of family being together, learning laughing, lying in the living room, tossing the breeze a frizbee. A time to open a new book. Breathe a few paces back from the crowd and survey life, enjoying and perhaps fine-tuning ways of being and doing so that family members and the world can flow with a flexible, effervescent step through the obstacle course created by the goals and challenges embedded in daily life.

Cleaning up. Running Errands. Taking out the trash. So many things to do that get in the way of rest and happiness. Or do they?

What if taking out the trash could be a hardy, alive experience of fingers tying the white bag, of using God's energy to lift the bag and carry it, without hurry, outside, a slight thrill, hurling the bag into its place in the dumpster. Fresh air in my nostrils and skimming breeze over my bare arm. Walking purposely, breathing gratitude back toward inside, taking in the trees, the sounds outdoors, everything living and still, the little movements of a squirrel, all of it wondrous!

Friday, October 12, 2007


Happy has tagged me in a meme - based on a book entitled unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity...and Why It Matters. I haven't read the book yet, so I'm letting stuff fly out of my mouth uninformed by the book.

(btw, if you don't know what a meme is, the definition is here - i had to look it up :)

Here's the task for the meme: name 3 negative perceptions about Christians, and 1 positive thing Christians should be known for.

Neg 1. Willfil Ignorance/Naivete
Neg 2. Caring more about beliefs than people
Neg 3. Sex hung up and obsessed

Pos 1. Willing to graciously sacrifice status and life for people and love

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Avriana Moonshine

Your moonlit eyes dance under the stars
Understanding Truth
Lighting the evening sky
The first light of morning
Brilliant lights undimmed
Undaunted by pitch night
Mercy and determination
Smiling crescents when your spirit laughs
No fooling you
Your stories urgent
Avriana Kind and Wise
You know so much more than I

Friday, October 05, 2007


I live a few miles from a place rich with Jewish culture and community centers, where the traffic is noticeably light on Friday afternoons or Yom Kippur. And driving home from picking up my daughter, I notice a father and son walking close, arm in arm, something connecting them beyond genes or little league and I see the boy is wearing a yarmulke. The tradition they share seems especially poignant because it is something that, in however small a way, sets them apart with a sense of dignity and pride, and maybe also a responsibility to carry an important torch for future generations, or even perhaps, for God.

As a child, my gentile mother was the one who introduced me to Jewish holidays and rituals. My Jewish father didn't know anything about his heritage. He remembers one time asking his mom to light Hannukah candles. She did, but her inner light was no longer lit; it had been blown out with the holocaust and the blotted history of our ancestors.

Immediately I like the father and son. I wonder what it would be like to be that son, to have that kind of relationship with my father.

I would ask him all kinds of questions about Torah. And he would ask me questions back. I would debate and quote from the Talmud, and my father would tell me a great story, wiser than my line of arguing. And we would go home and break Challah bread together over candles and sweet wine.

I do not like the Jewish megaplexes that sport banners blowing to zionist winds blazing on huge corner lots in Cherry Hill. "Support Israel."

What about Shalom? Why isn't the voice of Judaism in America predominantly, "support Shalom."

When did the victimization of the Jewish people give license to oppress yet other human beings? Did not God say in the Hebrew bible, 'Remember how I heard your cries and brought you out of slavery in Egypt? So treat the alien with kindness and welcome.'

And in an era when no one literally sacrifices lambs, can it truly be justified that the holy land is a literal Jewish entitlement, even when getting it involves the victimization of palestinian families -- and a violation of Torah ethics toward the alien among us?

And what of the Christian voice? It is becoming a voice closer to fair, closer to truthful. But it is a quiet hum compared to the Christian voice on sexual topics. Do we care more about what grownups do in their bedrooms than about Palestinian babies dying because they can't get to a hospital in time? Sex is so much more titillating. Breasts. sex. gay marriage. refugees. desperate youth. wailing. walls between us. Victim, victimizer. sex.

Shalom (where is?)


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Blood Diamond

the cost of love

Blood Diamond. It's a movie (one I watched last night) and a story worn secretly on the feminine fingers of women in the supermarket, teaching Sunday school, caressing someone on a Saturday night. I thought persistently about the images of brainwashed children shooting one another in a culture of violence fed by diamond dealers in black suits accented with slick, cologne smelling skin.

I was thinking about the diamonds themselves as I strode toward my car, distracted only by the voice of my neighbor Alissa calling from her bright red pickup, "Look!" Alissa grinned, happily gesticulating her hand, which touted a huge sparkling rock easily visible from my parking spot. I went over and told her how happy I was for her, as she recounted the proposal, fanning her fingers before my wide eyes. The diamond was stunning -- a gigantic jewel in the middle, cherished between two amethysts, bracketed with smaller diamonds on each side.

A man saves his money for months to prove himself worthy of her love...to prove his love.

A diamond for her hand.

It is expected. If you are engaged and you're finger is naked, you could practically get arrested for indecent exposure. People look at you confused and disappointed -- not exactly the reaction you were hoping for when you leapt with faith toward a life together. Perhaps onlookers think less of you, like he couldn't afford it, or didn't think you were worth it, or he just isn't the romantic type. you didn't play according to the rules and people feel unnerved. Is it possibly easier to get excited about a sparkling stone than a marriage, with all its buried light and rough edges?

What of the more important sacrifices later in the marriage? A man who turns down a promotion may be mocked as "whipped," or honored as a hero. But such sacrifice is hardly expected. A man who gets promoted out of family life is accomodated by society and women, at least until it's too late for everyone.

Would it not be better for a man to give himself for her than to give her a pretty stone to glitter as a placeholder while he's away on business? Which is a more worthy sacrifice of love?

For some men, no saving is necessary to buy a diamond capable of eliciting jokes about the size of the rock. Except maybe he could have saved a child by not buying into this diamond myth; a myth creating by the diamond industry, and not by tradition passed among generations, nor invented by Hans Christian Anderson, God, Hallmark or Disney.

A diamond.

Symbol of eternal love. Bloody, not with the loving, life-giving blood of Christ, but stained and dripping globs of childhood blood into red African earth.

Children. A great gift, welcomed into the arms of couples newly wedded, one in flesh and love, wishing peace, wonder and safekeeping for a tiny gift.

What curse have we bought that a diamond is equated with love even at cost of tiny gifts? And another shot down a minute later, his soul ripped from him long ago. We've confused status with love, symbol with reality. Where is the love for those who extract the gems in a kill or be killed competition promoted by the diamond industry's desire to keep diamonds rare and pricey -- feeding into killing sprees in origin countries, and illusory ideas about romantic love among young American wives; milking the cattiness among western girls who show off their rocks like some guys who off trophy wives. It seems we've all been sold out for sparkling studs.

Isn't it time to stop objectifying love?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

New Year, New Name

A new name is attached to "Jemila" and I'm announcing on my blog to coincide with the Jewish New Year. A time of fresh beginnings, re-dedication and renewal of love and devotion: everything embodied in my wedding ceremony, which unfolded with my best friend Jenn officiating, David's mom & partner Rich as witnesses and our kids the ring-bearers, flower children and living testimonies to the love we share. Our wedding ceremony took place four years after we first married each other in a small one-bedroom apartment with (planned) impromptu vows spoken between kisses on a rose-strewn bed where we first made love. Finally, we decided it was time to let some witnesses, and even Uncle Sam in on our promises to each other.

An explanation of the name change:

David would have happily carried the feminist flag by taking my last name, had it been my maiden name. My maiden name makes me cringe, remembering how it was always mispronounced at figure skating competitions, and how it sounded odd and unappealing to me even when pronounced correctly. These memories explain partially why, when I divorced, I kept former spouse's name, namely Monroe. It was a fine, normal name. Fine and normal were(and at certain junctures remain) appealing qualities. Yet somehow, David wasn't thrilled with the idea of inheriting the last name of my ex husband.

So our solution was to be introduced as Mr. Jemila Kwon and Ms. David Kwon. We belong to each other as we daily give ourselves for one another. In fact, it is more beautiful and true to say that we belong acutely with each other.

We are one because we create a new synthesis when we bring our whole, complete selves to the community of our marriage. And for the record, I am not Mrs. David Kwon, although I will possibly wear that hat once a year for Halloween, or other festive function featuring ridiculous costumes.

Here's a Christina Rosetti Poem David and I read together at our wedding:

What is the beginning? Love.
What is the course. Love still.
What is the goal. Te goal is love.
On a happy hill.
Is there nothing then but love?
Search we the sky or earth
There is nothing out of Love
Hath perpetual worth:
All things flag and flee;
There is nothing left but Love
Worthy you and me.

If you would like to see pictures of our wedding, they are posted at djfamily.shutterfly.com
The password is djfamily

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Why do people cry?

Do we cry because we're sad
Or because we feel safe and comforted, sufficient to allow rain to wash over us unclothed by stiff upper lips
Is it a sign of something wrong
Or that yes, we'll be okay
It is the absence of tears that signals impending deadness
Presence of tears, inviting, watering, signaling Life is occurring
Yes grief
Yes anger
Yes song
river flowing abundant
fertile soil
wet moist
Growing into a tomorrow
Yes Life

Say, cry
feelings brushed aside weeks on end
saying hi, each flowing by
swirling aches, dreams, loss
tears cleansing infected seams
Alive and here
all my tears
Crying, singing, even those waiting to cry
heart singing thank you
glad to be alive
crying soil to flower
Garden of

Saturday, September 08, 2007


Ivett made a scrumptious Hungarian dessert, created from whipping cream, mascarpone cheese, honey, rasberries, chocolate cookie crumbles and butter, decorated with a single walnut.

I could mention less delectable moments in my day -- Nika's meltdowns, my feelings of helplessness and turmoil; Avriana's nocturnal demands, Gabe's anger when forbidden to climb the stairs. Learning Greek grammar. Anticipating David's notable absence during his upcoming surgery rotation....

But in all these moments lies some gift. Love of the Universe, open wide the doors of my earthly self to receive the Life that's here in my living room. Amen.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Quit Quitting, Start Living

I quit seminary. I quit on the grounds that it take too great a stress toll on me and my children and that the loving, self-emptying thing to do is to let it go and be with my kids without the distraction of hanging deadlines or the exhaustion of commuting and thinking layered on motherhood. 'Cause I was pressuring myself to finish my program before we move somewhere else for David's residency. On account of my overriding anxiety and the tape recording that kept saying, "I can't do this." "I'm going to snap."

I quit because I was trying to love my kids selflessly. Because everyone says I can recreate myself later. Because I'm not sure where this road is leading me. Because I was having trouble justifying the time, money, gas and intangibles in a world where kids are starving, the ozone is leaking away and my own babies will soon be big and never again will be little pudgy peach skin rolling in innocence, smiles, fussiness, love, messes and open curiosity.

And when I quit, my heart sank like a sopping wet sand big pitched into an abyss of loneliness and aimlessness. I felt my happy energy sap away and instead of feeling free, lighter, actively engaged with giving my best love to the people in the world I love best, I felt achingly absent and sad.

So I activated the only common sense decision I could: I quit my quitting and put myself back on the road to seminary, now because I am happy to be learning, clear that I am supposed to be on this path, and open to a new way of being that is balanced, learning when it's time to learning and learning when it's time to Be. Laugh. Listen. Engage with life, nourish my family, celebrate the lusciousness of fruit and chocolate, peachy skin and parent in firm, agape ways that acknowledge and nurture the spirits shining through my children in surprising and tricky ways. Love life. Let go of pleasing anyone. Love everyone.

Will I pass my classes with this approach? Will I finish seminary or ever have initials before or after my name? Who cares! I live for the abundant life of the God who lives in me.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What am I (doing) here?

I am enrolled in seminary, but I'm not at all sure what I'm doing -- if I should even be there, if I'll finish my program, switch my program or drop out after a year of acquiring experience.

The natural thing seems to be to drop out after a year. But is it natural because it's right, or because it fits with my family's style of of flirting with success, yet avoiding it? What is the block of fear that I feel about going for an Mdiv, that I don't feel about spending a year in theological learning, followed by a time of letting go, just being in life and seeing about my next step? Is it an unwillingness to follow through? To be constrained by a process rich in bureaucracy, with abundant hoops through which I'd be expected to jump? The desire to not be like everyone else? Or is it a gentle reality that my way takes me on this road for a little while, leading me to another path? In this, where will I discover Christ's face? How can I listen to the Spirit when my own heart is so complex and my hearing muddled with many voices and feelings?

Can I balance education with family, when I am the primary parent while David is in med school? Can I live with letting my aspirations come second to my man's for a while? Can I let go for the proper reasons? Might my aspirations turn out not to conflict as much as I thought...perhaps I actually want to let go and be home with kids? Am I the only conflicted mother out there?

Can I write my life and live it? Can I create a life of celebration and learning?

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Heaving the Mountain, or Shoveling Dirt

Mountains are too big to move. Plain and simple. I don't buy that if I believe it enough, the whole freagin mountain is going to up and move. Shoveling dirt, one scoop at a time, focused, yet delighting in slugs and earthy smells, I can imagine that at some point, one could look up, say forty years later and discover that, in addition to finding others digging and shoveling in your vicinity, the entire mountain has shifted to a new location. This is the kind of faith I get.

But even this "lesser" faith is hard for me to practice. My integrated female brain wants to look at the whole mountain, and my heart feels the heavy, impossible burden of moving the whole damn thing and I'm sunk in stress before I've shoveled a day's worth and come home for Sabbath. Sabbath, to me, is the practice of trusting God enough to not feel compelled to attempt moving the whole mountain at once; the discipline of leaving things unfinished, to celebrate the goodness of today, with each shovel's worth, and the goodness of rest and life and things to come, never snatching control of tomorrow, but letting it stay with God, while we live in today -- an eternal gift, available only now.

I look at all there is for me to manage and I feel too responsible for a 26, almost 27-year-old woman. I want to say girl, because part of me wants to stay young enough, free enough to still be called a girl. I don't want to commute back and forth to my daughter's school in Haddonfield twice before 12am, and then back and forth to my school in Philly on top of that. I don't want want my week nights filled with PTA-esque responsbilities related to back to school stuff that seems fluffy, yet fairly obligatory. I want to stay home and watch a movie, sip a hot chocolate or read a fucking book. Or, God forbid, take a bath or even have sex. Or just stare at a spider alighting on my screen while crickets hum the gentle sounds of evening.

I resent the mountain I feel has been hoisted on my shoulders by forces beyond my control, outside in the ridiculous, oft annoying world, and inside me, in the fermented basements of my soul, where judgment gets clouded and I cause myself harm and unnecessary pain. I let go a little more today.

And perhaps that little letting go is a shovel's worth.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Hungary anyone?

This one thing worked out perfectly: my best friend Jenn slept on my couch the night that our Au Pair, Ivett arrived from Hungary after a brief orientation in New York City. The next day Jenn, Nika and I placed wild tattoos on our bodies -- tattoos of sun, moon, stars and a funky eye, embedded in spirals and poetic swirls that are also kind of tacky. We bought Jenn a pair of turquoise and pearl errands and said beautiful goodbyes.

Help is here to stay, after such a long time of trudging on alone. Let me tell you about Ivett.

She is tall and graceful. Ivett looks a bit like me, although the tall part is clearly a point of difference She bears some similarity to Anne Hathaway, which occurred to me upon her mention a castle near her home occupied by an earl who tried (without success) to buy her beautiful horse named Mirage.

Ivett's quiet love of children shines naturally. She spends long stretches drawing with Nika, and Gabe is smitten, serenading her by name: Ivett! Ivett! Ivett! Avriana is warming up. I am glad someone wants to be a Mama's girl, anyhow.

Ivett is deep, straightforward, mysterious, sensitive and a lover of mashed potatoes, which we served her first full day with our family. She ate about seven small bites of the salty white mash, the most she has eaten of any particular food. She said the mashed potatoes were very good.

Her English is thoughtful and very good, except Ivett confuses gender pronouns frequently when referring to her boyfriend, Peter -- who, by the way, is the son of Russia's Chief Rabbi. Although I didn't know there was such a thing as a Chief Rabbi of Russia until this afternoon, it sounds quite impressive and significant, as this role has landed Ivett's boyfriend at parties frequented by Hillary Clinton and Hengry Kissinger. I couldn't help but ask, "And was Henry kissing her?" Also George W. Bush was at one party.

When I mentioned that I think George W. would make an endearing, harmless character if only he limited his activities to chasing armadillos and frequenting Texan pubs, Ivett observed that she had translated some of Bush's speeches for a language exam and that he sounded "...stupid?"

I took Ivett out driving this afternoon and she said I was a good teacher. I think this was a good sign.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Steps Stone and Mustard Yellow: Beginning seminary with baby

My survival belongings (diapers, notepad, books, wipes, water bottle and Hawaiian print blanket are strewn across the steps of the seminary library, grand stone like a cathedral, old and opening to a seminary world wide, diverse, yet insular. in a permeable sort of way. Avriana, my five-month old daughter is held close to me with one arm; my other hand holds Everything Must Change, a pre-release version of Brian Mclaren's latest book. Squishy noises of poop, boldly propelled by natural gas sound explosively from my baby's bottom. I look around, to note any possible witnesses, before I align my yellow legal pad and a folder emblazoned with the Lutheran Theological Seminary logo and filled with financial information, so as to form an approximation of a changing pad. Opening Avriana's diaper, I am careful not to let her roll down the stone steps into the green seminary square below, and just as the yellow-mustard gooey stuff is revealed to Creation, appearing from the library's massive wood doors is prim-ish looking women who is walking toward me marked by a slightly raised eyebrow connoting intrugue and a predilection for disapproval from behind her nose-level bifocals. I say, "Hi."

Everyday we begin prologue with a small group discussion around a long table, which looks like a sub (or as they say in Pennsylvania, a hoagie,) and it is over this hoagi that we get to know people who will someday be ministers in the name of Christ. Prologue, in case you were wondering, is our introductory seminary course, taking up all day, every day except Sunday for two weeks, emphasizing exposure to the Other, in the form of interfaith presenters, a field trip to the local Krishna temple (where you can find delectable date peanut cookies, as well as freshly dressed deities and caucasian women and men donned in Indian Sari's serving the All Attractive One,) and intense discussion of racism and the socio-ethnic landscape of the Avenue on which sits our permeable, insular womb, in which we will become pastors, priests. Someones and somethings who will bear some responsibility for carrying out the work of Christ's God in the world.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

What is love?

How do you know if you love someone?

Here's love according to me:

Love: 1.
when you could hurt someone and choose to value them instead 2. when someone you love can't meet your needs and you love them without expectation, while also loving yourself 3. when you love someone just because of the mere fact that they're here, beautiful for who they are, priceless treasures in jars of clay 4. when you love them, you feel love toward yourself, life, the Being and all beings. When you love, you are alive.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Flying Spagetti Monster

My ex was here this weekend and introduced me to something very tongue-in-cheek -- the sort of tongue-in-cheek that an ex-fundamentalist enjoys sharing with an ex-husband. It's a hilarious assault on the Kansas School Board case regarding the teaching of intelligent design as a scientific theory along with evolution:

Open Letter To Kansas School Board

I am writing you with much concern after having read of your hearing to decide whether the alternative theory of Intelligent Design should be taught along with the theory of Evolution. I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will only hear one theory of Intelligent Design.

Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.

It is for this reason that I’m writing you today, to formally request that this alternative theory be taught in your schools, along with the other two theories. In fact, I will go so far as to say, if you do not agree to do this, we will be forced to proceed with legal action. I’m sure you see where we are coming from. If the Intelligent Design theory is not based on faith, but instead another scientific theory, as is claimed, then you must also allow our theory to be taught, as it is also based on science, not on faith.

Some find that hard to believe, so it may be helpful to tell you a little more about our beliefs. We have evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. None of us, of course, were around to see it, but we have written accounts of it. We have several lengthy volumes explaining all details of His power. Also, you may be surprised to hear that there are over 10 million of us, and growing. We tend to be very secretive, as many people claim our beliefs are not substantiated by observable evidence. What these people don’t understand is that He built the world to make us think the earth is older than it really is. For example, a scientist may perform a carbon-dating process on an artifact. He finds that approximately 75% of the Carbon-14 has decayed by electron emission to Nitrogen-14, and infers that this artifact is approximately 10,000 years old, as the half-life of Carbon-14 appears to be 5,730 years. But what our scientist does not realize is that every time he makes a measurement, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage. We have numerous texts that describe in detail how this can be possible and the reasons why He does this. He is of course invisible and can pass through normal matter with ease.

I’m sure you now realize how important it is that your students are taught this alternate theory. It is absolutely imperative that they realize that observable evidence is at the discretion of a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Furthermore, it is disrespectful to teach our beliefs without wearing His chosen outfit, which of course is full pirate regalia. I cannot stress the importance of this enough, and unfortunately cannot describe in detail why this must be done as I fear this letter is already becoming too long. The concise explanation is that He becomes angry if we don’t.

You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature over the last 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature.

In conclusion, thank you for taking the time to hear our views and beliefs. I hope I was able to convey the importance of teaching this theory to your students. We will of course be able to train the teachers in this alternate theory. I am eagerly awaiting your response, and hope dearly that no legal action will need to be taken. I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.

Sincerely Yours,

Bobby Henderson, concerned citizen.

P.S. I have included an artistic drawing of Him creating a mountain, trees, and a midget. Remember, we are all His creatures.

So what do you think? Does this make you think? Laugh? Want to cry?

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Great Physician's Rule

Physician's rule: first, do no harm.
The Great Physician's rule: Love everyone.
Religion's rule?


If God is Love, love seeks the wellbeing of another, never disregarding the interests of another for one's own gain. Ones own agenda. Or even one's own religion. Love is the positive phrasing of medicine's rule, First Do No Harm.

If we follow the Great Physician we will seek wellbeing, love, healing and life abundant for everyone on earth. The wellbeing of another person will be more important than his or her religion, sexual orientation, worldview or personal decisions and beliefs.

We are healer's in in the world, healer's in Christ's name. And the first rule of healing is do no harm. In another words, love everyone.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Knocking from the Inside: A theology of redemption in light of God's omnipresence

If God is everywhere, then s/he must be Everywhere, including within the vibrating cells unbelievers, nonbelievers, partial believers and even gay haters, gluttons and grass. Even me. Even before I was becoming a Christian, opening to an increasing awareness of God's truth, grace -- really just God's love in all its many faces, like justice and joy and the cross and being alive.

God is willing that none should perish; Jesus asked his Father to forgive those who know not what they do, and our Divine Creator sent his only begotton Son -- which could just as easily have been a her only begotton daughter -- not to condemn the world, but to save it. Grace is free, and it's already here. Grace is alive, waiting, present for everyone, anytime. All we have to do is wake up and open the Present of Christmas morning: God with us.

The Holy Spirit can't not indwell a person, whatever they do or believe, because God indwells everything. But if we are blind, our hearts are cold and our ears can't hear, we are cut off from being alive to this gift that's wrapped with longing affection and waiting within our heart. God is knocking on the door from the inside. "Open me," says Holy Spirit. "And I will open you."

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Med School Wife, day 24

The weeks are going by, and by miracle or survival, I am adjusting...getting used to things, my new role, the constant rearranging of time; the ebb of changing schedules and the unpredictable cycles of play and work, waking, sleeping, alone and together, family and independent me and the kids. I am getting better at this.

Something I discovered is that it is not a very big shift from being miserable and content, between angry angst and simple ecstasy. They are always there, each present in every single God blessed or damned moment (we get to decide,) maybe one at the front door, ringing the door bell, one at the back entrance standing next to the hose fixture, waiting like a friend.

So why do I look for someone else to make me happy? I never realized I could do it for myself, for one. Also, I always thought someone else should make me happy, like it was there job. And if I think someone's not doing their job, then I darn well am not going to let them off the hook by doing their job for them. If someone else is supposed to clean up, I have always chosen to live in a messy house covered in rotten food and shit stains on the toilet, rather than simply clean up. Does this make sense?

And so this is exactly why I have insisted on remaining an old version of myself.

Is it someone else's job to make another happy? It's not all or nothing. In an ideal world, you love someone, you do things that make them happy, or at least that will eventually lead to their happiness. But that doesn't account for the vast majority of actual life, in which people are suffering so much they cannot make themselves happy, much less do it for you. So I've decided to go ahead and do it myself and I like my decision, which is really tons of tiny decisions I make during moments of my life. Of course sometimes I still opt for self-pity and feel upset, but I try to be compassionate with myself and become more aware of the choice and what it entails.

The best part has to do with sex: Since I've stopped looking for David to make me happy and decided to do it on my own, we been doing it alot together, if you know what I mean, which of course you do. Yes, despite being more tired than ever, we're getting hornier. Sleepy horny, i is the phrase we've ascribed to the state of things libido. The pressure's off him, so he's free to love without feeling like I'm sucking it out of him, and my happy life becomes all the full and lovely because of someone absolutely amazing who loves me and wants to have this adventure along with me.

Funny, I feel similar to when we were first falling in love and I worked really hard to be independent -- sharing things with my guy, but only after I'd dealt with it a little myself first. Intimacy, rather than dependence, or something. Of course now we know each other better, love each other more truthfully because of the better knowing. It seems our lives and bodies are entwined more profoundly -- with two more cute babies as evidence. I sometimes fold his scrubs so they don't get wrinkly, even though I am not naturally domestic; he sometimes surprises me with flowers and declarations of love, even though he is not naturally expressive of his love, which normally he takes to be assumed.

So learning to arrive at being fine, or on my way to fine without turning outward first for deliverance is uncannily helpful. Possibly the ultimate secret to happy relationships. Cause I've noticed this: When I take care of myself apart from my love life, my intimate relationships becomes fresher, freer, more fun and lifegiving, because it's not having the life sucked out of it with the weight of baggage better sorted through before the trip. Whoever knew giving up on being rescued could be so romantic?

Black and Light

An odd thing to say from a postmodern is coming:

The way things unfold goes according to whether we choose black or white. Black, I have heard, is all the colors mixed together in a solid; rich, textured and deep, absorbing light and heat into darkness. All the colors are there, but you can no longer see them. White pigment simply is the absence of color, which could lead a person prone to drama to discount white as boring, utterly pointless. I am not talking about white pigment. I am taking about white light, which is the cradle and proud mother of all colors. She holds them gentle and lets them shine. And you can see this at the exact point where heaven's tears and light touch, awaking the Good, like a flower blossoming exquisitely on account of the shit in which its roots derive nutrients for a beautiful life.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Evening In Summer

Evening wraps itself around me. I can hear myself breathe. Trees sway quietly, night insects and moisture fill the air, an ensemble like a peace blanket of wind and being.

I am on our deck, a periwinkle blanket spread beneath me, a plate of something Indian beside me.

Avriana is between my legs, which are outstretched like a starfish relaxing in the quietude of suburbs at night. My daughter has eyes like the moon, which blink as she stares at the woodwork of our deck, as though it is a novelty, fully enrapturing, yet probably not separate from her at all. Like her thumb. Her pinkie. Her mother, and well everything. She is so at home in the world, at one with everything she absorbs with curiosity and open intent. Unset goals, certain to be attained, the future confidently resting in the present. I nibble her belly and she laughs and her eyes rediscover the panels of rough reddish wood holding us above the world. Is she benignly patronizing me? She knows more than I do, I am sure.

I finish my masala burger and push the screen on its track, careful to push the right angles, so as not to get the thing off track. I whoosh Avriana inside and check email.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Beyond Good Girl or Bad Girl

So I'm sprawled out in Nika's bedroom on her sleeping spot of choice -- the floor -- and I say with awe and meaning,"Nika, you're an amazing person Do you know that?"

She looks at me equally meaningfully, with penetrating eyes like similar to a cat, an owl or a Buddhist monk, and says quite seriously,"Mom, you're very very very Very very VERY very very very Vvvery very very very Girly.

Girly. Of all the things.

Such a surprising crescendo reminded me strangely of my first group therapy meeting, one week ago today, when a woman whom I couldn't stand (and this feeling was quite mutual,) chanted in a voice reminiscent of a crossbreed between bitter divorcee' berating her husband on a talk show and an angry parrot, "You know what you are? You know what you are? I'll tell you what you are...no, I'm not even gonna say what I think of you. You're a, you're a....YOU'RE A Goodie Toe Shoes."

I told my husband and he got this goofy, adorable look and said, "oooooh." Now perhaps some people would be horrified to be called a Goodie Toe Shoes, but I thought it was funny. People perceive largely as either a trouble maker or a goodie toe shoes; either one or the other, and the truth is I am both, although somewhere beyond little personality check boxes The Wicked Witch of the West has melted and Dorothy has traded in her red shoes bare feet, occasionally dressed up in Fair Trade heels the color of living sand. Beyond Good Girl or Bad Girl, I'm free.

Someday will I let them see?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Thursday, July 05, 2007

A lovely dinner

Adventures come with a price, and and the also come with dividends, assumed and unexpected. Living day by day is an assumed blessing of adventure. Spontaneous celebrations come to flick on switches of unanticipated joy.

Life with a medical student entails erratic schedules and getting on a roller coaster that can be a joy ride or a hell ride, largely dependent upon your own creativity, resourcefulness and ability to embrace uncertainty as a positive ingredient in an adventuresome life.

I spent last week making myself miserable, and decided to move on from that, because likely I've only got one life to live. Unless reincarnation happens to be true, and while there's that possibility, I'm not counting on it. Besides, why suck up to misery? So I decided to stop moping and start opening up to the possibilities latent in an adventure I might have foregone in favor of normalcy (whatever that is) if I hadn't been lucky enough to fall in love with my husband.

And fate/God threw me a delightful surprise: Tonight David got off unexpectedly early and we took the whole family out to celebrate at Norma's Meditaranean Restaraunt. Miraculous, from oldest to youngest, everyone savored the company of family, as well as the Sifa pizza, drizzling out feta, onions and little squares of tomato from pitas sandwiched together like lovers. Gabe didn't fuss as he stuffed his face with couscos and cucumbers, occasionally smearing smushy remnants of food on his sister's infant head. Avriana didn't wail. Nika followed directions. David and I conversed. Not one person left without a belly sated, content and practically overflowing with warmth, laughter and good food.

We've been going to Norma's for just about three years now, and our favorite waiter has seen me go through two pregnancies. Today he told his girlfriend that we're his favorite family to wait on, and then told us. He also said his girlfriend said she couldn't stop staring at us because, "they are such a cute family." Alot of people look at my family and probably idealize us; they see us as young, cute, happy, nice and successful. There's a danger in that -- a danger that we could start trying to live up to a fantasy; that we could forsake the gritty true-love of family for a graven image of an idyllic family. But there's a gift in seeing through the eyes of pleasant strangers too: a recognition by others of the beauty we offer to one another and the world simply by being together and loving each other. And tonight we really had a lovely time, shining a light flowing from the blessings we have in one another.

Of course each and every kid fell into fussy wails when we returned home. On the other hand, we turned the tears into giggles before lights out and it's only 8:09. What else could a girl want?

Maybe just a little more sleep. A few more minutes of quiet. But I'll miss the raucous when it's a memory. I already know I will.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Your Doctor May Be Laughing AT You

Now what could be worse than getting laughed at by someone who's seen you with your pants down? Okay, it would be worse to be caught amidst a genocide, live trapped inside an abusive marriage sanctioned by a sexist culture or get the chicken pocks right before giving birth. Nevertheless, probably you'd be pretty upset if you knew the professionalism of your doctor went out the door after you, leaving your quirks and vulnerabilities the possible subject of crass and callous humor -- the coping mechanisms of choice among many physicians.

I remember lying on the OR table getting a C-section, while the doctors tossed jokes back and forth about their favorite TV show. That was disturbing. But apparently, it gets worse when you leave. Or if you're asleep. According to my med student husband, it's the culture: comraderie and coping at the expense of patient dignity. So how can doctors cope with a conscience? If "coping" jokes have to be at the expense of someone, or something, why not focus on the exploitive pharmaceutical companies or the cheesy paint-by-numbers artwork occupying the office walls? Or make fun of your own illegible charting notes, or your over-gelled hair or the semen stain on your white coat. And if you must have a catharsis at a patient's expense, go home and do it with your partner. If you don't have a partner, vent to your dog. If you don't have a dog, tell your goldfish, and if you don't have a goldfish, get one. Or get a shrink. But do not humiliate a patient by discussing them derogatorily amongst office staff whom they will see again in the future. And don't make poking fun at patients a sport. For God's sake.

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Post-Operative Sex

Survival rates for medical couples and partners where both people are in graduate school are not great. Add three little kids to the mix, and it's not surprising that many marriages go flat as Saturday morning pancakes. But after a week of bitter herbs and tears and just making it through another day, we are having Saturday morning pancakes and we are smiling. After a week of rearranging internal organs and trying to establish a new breathing rhythm amidst a freshly irregular schedule, we are together for the weekend and the Sabbath was peaceful and erotic. Let's just say, for a married couple comprised of one half-Jew and a half-East Asian Gentile, we were good Jews. God is one. We are one. And I'm so glad.

An hour later the pancakes are either being digested in our stomachs or going down the drain. I'm convulsing in tears. More scheduling bad news and it's delivered to my on my day off from medical school prison. I hate this. Of course hating it won't do any good. I own a book called Suffering is Optional, and I'm reminded that I can either resent my life, myself and my husband for being what we are, or I can take one day, as it is and allow it to be -- and maybe then what IS will be somehow beautiful and helpful and Good.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Med School Wife Day 3

My babysitter has a saying, applied broadly to any situation she simply can't stand: "This isn't working for me." Variations include, "That doesn't work for me," "This just doesn't work for me," And "That isn't gonna work for me."

Which would describe how I feel today about my husband's medical education, which takes him randomly away from me, our family and any sense of a normal life rhythm, and makes him go to random locations to do and watch random stuff that's supposed to help him be a good doctor someday. Screw it. I am a creative person, and I can think of lots of saner ways to make qualified physicians than to haze them.

David thought the time away would be compensated for by his happiness overflowing upon return to the homefront; but the last few days he's been drained as pasta noodles before the sauce. This sucks. An unqualified sucks. With the qualification that I am being forced to develop competencies I would not otherwise find myself discovering in the dim light of hopeful necessity.

Sunday Worst: Parent-Child Privilege

Dropping my five-year-old daughter at camp for her second day, a counselor leaned into me and said, "Just want you to know we LOVE her. She's so great. We just love her." I smiled politely, replying, "I'm so glad," and walked away shaking my head in bemusement.

The morning had not gone especially well. Phrases like, "No!" "Well I don't caaare," and "I don't haaave to" and "I hate you. You don't love me." were the standard conversational fare from the time Nika woke up to the time I dropped her off at Camp Hoover. This scenario is rather typical. My daughter is complimented on a regular basis for her polite manners and cooperative spirit in public settings or in the homes of new friends. Yet with those who know and love her best, my girl tests up the wazoo. I know she's turning out okay. She feels safe enough to test her burgeoning independence and free will with those who love her no matter what, but she's equipped to go out into the world with a loving spirit and saavy attitude.

So why try to bring God our best on Sundays? Why not instead exercise the parent-child privilege of bringing God our WORST on Sundays? Our most defiant stomps and talk-backs, our hugest heresies. Our looming doubts, rebellious clothes -- in fact everything that needs to be brought to the light, understood, validated, and directed positively.

After all, if our kids get to do it to us, why not take advantage of the parent-child privilege with the Greatest Parent of all? If even an anxious, egocentric, over-intellectualizing, impatient mother like me gives it her best shot, I'm betting my Parent (and yours) surely can handle our worst and channel it grace-fully to bring out our best.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Med School Wife

I thought it was significant that two days before my husband began his first rotation -- obgyn, by the way -- I was hit on by Neil Diamond. A middle-aged, slide-show creating, window-washing not-Neil Diamond, Neil Diamond, who by his own admission can't really sing. "I have other talents," he says to me from his table, kitty-corner from me at Panera Bread. Neil Diamond is not the first middle-aged man to make advances toward men this week, and I am not accustomed to being flirted with so obviously by me, and in particular the graying ex-hippy crowd. I could be insulted -- after all, do I really suddenly look that much older after kid number three? But I choose to be more optimistic and assume that it's God's little grace: a reminder that I've still "got it" whatever "it" is, right at a time I'm prone to be insecure. As in, right before my husband is about to start vocationally sticking his hands up other people's vaginas, and interacting with pretty, starry-eyed nurses on a daily basis.

Yesterday was the first real vagina to be examined medically by my husband. It belonged to a live model, or standardized patient, who taught the incoming 3rd year medical students -- on herself.

"It was just like doing it on the mannequin" David said when he came home. David is sweet, kind and professional. I believe him. But damn, it still weirds me out. I felt so relieved when he reminded me that he wore gloves, meaning that he did not actually touch her.

Today David mostly watched ultrasounds. "Seeing those little babies was so bajoo" he said.

My day consisted largely of watching slightly older babies, who, though certainly Bajoo, fabulous, are hardly the silent little miracles that dance on ultrasounds screens. Gabriel hugs Avriana with robust affection, and then yanks at her hair tufts with a gigantic grin. Avriana grimaces in pain. She is quiet around her rambunctious siblings, but when we are alone with the changing pad, or sharing some minutes in bed before the day officially begins, she coos and speaks with the intention and enthusiasm of a woman who has discovered that both God and alien life forms inhabit other worlds covered in green.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Smashing Red Strollers

I took the babies out today, to give David some time to chill and rest. Nika stayed home and listened to her Frog and Toad CD.

The younger your babies, I've discovered, the nicer people seem to become toward you, as though you have vicarious become irresistably cute and delicious. And when you have a luscious toddler boy with long hair, eyelashes to match and a precious infant little girl strapped side by side in a smashing new red double stroller, people are so helpful and kind, there's no end to the good things it's possible to imagine. Even world peace.

Yes, I received more help today than ever before. Women and men ran to open double doors; I never had to wait a second for assistance, it was as though help dropped straught from heaven traveling at angelic lightspeed. The cashier forgot to charge me for my lip gloss and gave it to me for free, simply because I told him it would make my day. "That's all you needed to say," he smiled. A few moments later, the same gentlemen leapt to hold open the doors, after the lip gloss set up the store alarm. Apparently its bar code apparently didn't know proper ettiquet toward a woman with adorable his and hers babies nestled in a red double stroller.

In the parking lot, a middle-aged woman noticed me struggling to collapse the damn double red stroller without smashing it, and finished the job for me, as though she were assisting Ghandi with his heaviest luggage. This nice person even loading the dainty bohemoth stroller into the trunk of my Prius. I thanked her profusely, and she acted like it was no big deal.

On days like this it's genuinely easy to imagine a beautiful world full of peaceful communities with lots of chubby babies every spring and plenty of "aunties" and "grandpas" to provide the necessary hands to keep parents sane, so that they do not kill one another or start a war with the neighboring tribe at work or abroad.

So why don't I get this same kind of help when I travel with my older child and the big baby, which is really a more daunting challenge in many respects? Why are older children more likely to inspire annoyance, whereas teeny babies inspire wonder and altruistic goodness?

No wonder we all want to go back to being babies sometimes.

What might it take to see each human treasure for the precious miracle she is?

Thursday, June 14, 2007


When was the last time I did a cartwheel? If you asked me that question any time before tonight my answer would have been, "Ages ago. I can't remember. Those were days long gone when I did carthweels on freshly cut grass and ballet performances in the grocery aisles."

A person has to have a certain amount of lifegiving abandon and positive carelessness to do a cartwheel. It is not something the overly inhibited or hopelessly depressed are inclined to do, really. And so seeing as yesterday and this morning I found myself in a rather bad way with myself, I marched said self out the door after the kids' bedtime and wondered happily around my neighborhood until I found a suitable spot in full view of several condo complexes and a commonly trafficked street. Pondering my decision, knowing what I was about to do -- in public -- and felt a thrill better than dirty sex or getting a new blog comment or buying fresh books, or great clothes.

I cartwheeled.

Upon landing, m inner thigh muscle pulled slightly, reminding me that I am an adult. I smiled and thanked God for everything, and especially for the beautiful day that saw me do a cartwheel. I marched myself home, satisfied, limping mildly and ready to go back to being a grownup for a little while. A good thing too, because when I could hear my infant daughter screaming for me from the foyer.

Maybe I'll do another cartwheel tomorrow before the kids get up.

Adventures and Coming Home

I arrived home from vacation last night. This year, the adventure included David, myself, the swimming pool, the beach, three young children, a mother ambivalently committed to a dysfunctional marriage (the first leg of the journey) followed up during the second leg by an ex-husband who is a self-proclaimed ex scumbag and current chronic car key-loser, a stealth bottomless blender and a beautiful oceanfront view.

There were good times and bad times and we proved not only that we can (sort of) successfully travel with little kids and strange family, but also why many people don't. I will focus on the good times.

Before my former spouse arrived to celebrate Nika's birthday with us, David, Nika, Gabe, Avriana and I played Family Feud hosted by our resort; it was great fun! We also happened to win, which was cool, and our family went way with five frisbees -- red, blue and purple.

Everyone meandered along the boardwalk in various constituencies. Sometimes Nika held my hand while Daddydad/Uncle Mike chased Gabriel, and David carried Avriana. Or David pushed Nika in the stroller with Gabe sitting on Nika's lap, while Avriana snuggled into my neck. And sometimes I followed Gabe as he trotted in zig zags in whichever direction called his name, pointing out boats, dogs and rocks.

For Nika's birthday, she climbed to the top of a lighthouse. Or rather her Daddydad carried her. David and I relaxed and played while Gabriel and Avriana slept. In the afternoon, all six of us made Ice Cream Sundays and bracelets in the Fun Zone of our hotel, followed by cake and candles on little plates covertly donated by the staff from the Ozone Grill upstairs.

David and I ate a cute restaraunt next to the marina, which served the best chicken quesadillas. For desert, we ordered chocolate cake, which came decadently splashed with swirls of chocolate sauce and twirlets of whipped cream. "It looks beautiful,"I said to our waiter. "I tried to make it look a little pretty for you," he replied with a shy, mexican accent. After dinner we opted out of Casino land.

Walking along the evening beach, we marveled at crabs melting into sand under the night sky.

Nika had a blast swimming with Mom and Dad in the pool; Gabriel loved the boats and anytime we got to "go go go," and Avriana loved everything except the car. She spent the last twenty minutes of the homeward drive illegally sleeping in my lap while David drove with the care of a professional seamstress. We past two police cars and thanked God for the cover of darkness, and the hope of new light in the morning.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Using God for your life or Using your life for God?

Being open-minded sometimes blurs the line between Christian faith and Self-helpy, be-good-feel-good-do-good religion. For someone who doesn't claim much certaintly about the bible, dogma or what it means to be "saved", what is the difference between worshipping the God of Jesus and embracing New Age Spirituality?

It's all about God.

Or it's all about Us.

Put differently, it's a matter arranging magnetic poetry on a cosmic refrigerator, ordering the words that reflect why God is important in our lives. Simply: are we using God for our lives or using our lives for God?

Pocono: The Tacky-but-fun Galleria at Split Rock

The poconos: A remote vacation spot just hours away from the most densely populated places in America: New Jersey and NYC.

We stayed at the Galleria, a somewhat tacky, semi-run down, pretty nice timeshare complex situated on Lake Harmony. Nika and I did mother-daughter mini-golfing, and later Nana and the rest of the gang joined in for an informal game, in which Nika "helped" everyone's ball get to its desired hole. The lake was calm and uncrowded, and we ooed over a family of the most adorable ducks and ducklings known to creation.

Gabriel loved being lifted in the air and tossed on the couch; so did Nika. But Gabriel's favorite activity was opening and closing the microwave door. Second best, he loved riding slow, then zooming fast down the hallways in the cheap second-hand stroller that has held my three children at different times, and also at the same time on occasion. Gabe's favorite words are currently "baby" and "go go go."

My mother gave David and I permission to be kids again in the evenings -- a freedom which led to a quick pool splash after hours, a sunset walk, a swing built for two (well not really, but it was fun swinging together anyway,) and a rigorous game of ping pong, in which I decidedly lost, except that David's smile was so winning.

Avriana woke up for the sunrise every morning -- at four am. She's lucky she's adorable and perfect.

On our last day, a DJ played reggae music and we ate pizza. Nika played with a butterfly and skip-danced along the sand, while Gabriel chased boats and Avriana slept under her blue-jean baseball cap.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Atlantic City Sirens

We're in Atlantic City. Our first night sandwiching quality family time between billboards of half naked women and lights glowing in the shape of TRUMP. Our hotel sponsors activities like T-shirt painting, scavenger hunts and adult romantic swims. It's all on the weekly schedule.

"What's that sound?" I murmer in an annoyed tone, to my half-asleep husband.

"Sounds like someone set off the fire alarm."

"Can you call the front desk and see if someone's going to turn it off soon?"

"Brring brrring."

"I guess it's real."


"That's what they say."

Attempting to wake Nika is like pouring sustained effort into awakening a bear deep in hibernation. I try anyway. A slight, irritated groan was her best response to me shouting, "Fire Alarm" straight into her sleeping little ear. So I strap on my Baby Bjorn, put Baby Avriana inside, hoist Gabriel onto my hip and watch my husband heave Nika into his arms. Just one day shy of five, Nika is big.

We walk down five flights of stairs. Some people had to walk down thirty-two. Later found out, someone walked from the top down carrying a small baby. People mill around the lobby; grandmas in nighties, probably just finished gambling away a nice retirement; college kids chase each other with a water bottle; middle-aged people meander in tight clothing; a man on crutches complains; an east Asian couple with a baby, the mom clearly pregnant sit and wait.

The firefighters tromp casually around in their cool rigs; I figure this can't be a big, major fire, but I hope there's at least a tiny fire where no one gets hurt to warrant this late-night outing with the kids.

Nika wiggles like a worm in David's arms. Avriana sleeps. Gabe nuzzles her head, and eventually makes friends with the east Asian baby.

Apparently, it was a kitchen fire.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Vacation: day 2

We are at Lake Harmony, staying at Split Rock Resort. It's fancy in some ways, especially the semi-tacky lobby, yet certain things are falling apart and a little lacking in aesthetics. But we have plenty of beds, stuff to cook with and most of all, everybody in our family! Poor Gabe locked himself the adjacent room yesterday and we had to call security; my little guy was huddled in a corner in despair. Fortunately, it took all of thirty seconds upon his release into my arms before he was streaking down the hall, buck naked, laughing (the whole incident occurred right after bath.)

Nika and Gabe each got a sporty new toy car yesterday, and today Nika begged to buy me bought me a BMW convertable as a "surprise," so I could drive up the "mountain" aka the couch with her and the other cars. Of course she wanted to outfit Dad and Avriana with their own toy vehicles too, but a line had to be drawn somewhere, didn't it? Well I might have thought the idea was cute: a whole family of toy cars. But David drew the line, which was sort of refreshing since sometimes I end up playing "bad cop" as I am slightly less patient than my lover.

This morning we all scooted our cars across the coffee table in a goofy game of Catch and Crash That Car, and then everyone danced to disco party music, except Avriana who wisely looked on with furrowed brow at her crazy family.

It's drizzling, but we're going to venture out and take the shuttle bus to the lake this afternoon, if Nika can overcome her petrifying fear of getting a splinter at the beach.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Sex after Three

Some women feel no libido after kids; I just can't seem to get away from my kids long enough to act on my libido. I lie nursing my infant daughter, using my feet to play with my toddler son, and in the afternoon I chase after my nearly five-year-old daughter with one or the other baby in my arms. In the evening I watch my hot hubby cooking dinner, aching to wrap myself around him just the two of us, and I remember when we did this almost constantly, and how that's exactly what led to the beautiful situation of having three children, which is also the frustrating situation of not getting lovingly laid is often as would be nice.

With one child, my sex life didn't really suffer. In fact, the sex in my first marriage was either yucky or non-existent, so when I found David and we decided to share lives and bodies forever, lovemaking and related sexy playfulness flowered and we enjoyed the deliciousness deflowering like water for lilies. If I was tired, I drank coffee before bed, because everything, and especially love was new, and I was still dressing (and undressing) to impress nightly. I bragged to my friends about being a parent with a great, active sex life.

When my son was born, I decided that sex wasn't worth the energy; I just didn't have extra to spare. So we did it sometimes, but not constantly, and I felt more pragmatic than romantic. This was also the stage of a relationship where you realize the person you married is not an ideal, but a real flesh and blood person whose baggage triggers your truckload of garbage and you wonder if human intimacy is such a good idea, while you muse that maybe a life of solitary ecstasy in a convent could be a great plan for contentment and happiness.

Now that I have three kids, something's changed, like the turning of seasons, or the opening days of a new year. I feel romantic again. I want to make love even if I'm sleepy. But my infant daughter wakes up when I try to remove myself from her side, and so I lie awake, thinking of my sexy husband and imagining vacations when the kids are old enough to send off on their own adventure while mom and dad play in bed before lunch. And again before dinner. And maybe again before drifting off to sleep, curled in a ball of loving bodies and connected hearts.

A Wacky Wednesday

Nika looks at me seriously and says, "For my bedtime story, I want to do the letter book. because for story, I'm studying...tomorrow I'm doing my thesis." "Okay" I say, we can do studying. And so we unscramble letters, forming them into words like "Leopard" and "Rooster" on the even of David's thesis defense.

It's Wacky Wednesday, the day when you can wear something wild and you're encouraged to put on your pants backwards for school. Nika selects a blue shiffon dress with a velour bodice and sparkling blue sequins, and sits down for breakfast.

"I'm glad I get to do my thesis presentation on Wacky Wednesday!" David says to Nika.

"Nika, say, "It's not a thesis presentation, it's a thesis defense," I instruct my daughter who sounds so comical when she parrots.

Parrot obliges. "It's not a thesis presenation, Dad, it's a thesis defense."

"Ohh, that's right Nika, it's a thesis defense, says David, And he does a gesticulating gesture that looks life something halfway between a karate chop and a wiggle.

This is our family.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Eat him, not me

My husband barrels toward our daughter Nika, slapping his arms like a fierce crocodile.

"Here comes Crocky!"

"Eat Gabe, don't eat me!" Screeches Nika, giggling with mock terror. Of course if Gabe's in any actual danger, she's the first one there to guard him with her life.

Just days earlier, Gabe reaches for his little sister, Avriana and pats her head saying in his sweet voice, "baybee." He then reaches around her neck giving her the hug of a cobra, before trying to rip a huge hunk of hair from her scalp, possibly with the aim of removing her head from its socket.

"Hug..." Says Gabe, as his little sister screams in pain.

"I love you. Eat him, not me. You're cute. I want to kill you. I'll protect you with my life." These are not just the sentiments of toddlers and young children.