my hair. here it is, (as seen in eve and ruth's mirror which explains the serious smudges i'm too lazy and forgetful to clean). fairly anti-climactic. . . i still haven't seen the back of my head but judging from the size of a few chunks that came off with the pinking shears, it's a little rough.
just to clarify, pinking shears and eve's paper cutting scissors were not my first choice. i was maniacally impatient and so used whatever i could find in thirty seconds.
a few nights after my cut, i cut chip's hair. (have i made it clear that i have no idea what i'm doing with hair and that we never do this- not even with our kids hair? i don't know what's going on.) after i finished with chip's hair i walked into our bedroom where i found ruthie, scissors in hand, giving herself bangs. not ideal. i tried to fix things as much as i could without stabbing her in the eye. she looks mostly cute in a mini hipster way but the random chunk of hair missing above her ear (the ear not pictured) will have to just sit there until it fades in. or, i can wait a month or so and do a full-on dorothy hammill for her.
the more i look at that picture of myself, the crazier my eyes/expression looks. do i have a lazy eye? i blame the dirty mirror, which of course means i blame my children. what good are they if i can't use them as scapegoats for at least some of my failings?
new york can be a forbiddingly lonely place. and it is. at first. and then, almost magically, you find people who you like, then love, then before you are really even aware these one-time strangers have become more than just best friends, they've become a part of your family, a part of you. and life, despite all the new york struggles and stories and ridiculous circumstances, is great. this place becomes home with your family right down the block.
but then things change. people move away. far away. and you're left wondering how to even begin duct-taping over the gaping hole that has been left behind.
alysha flew away to her new home sunday night. and with her went all of my favorite brooklyn beans. we made a pact not to cry as we said goodbye. no eye-contact and a quick escape proved effective. but maybe it would have been better to just let myself sob because my mourning has been a little strange and drastic since they walked out the door. i started by eating all the remaining gummy hearts. then moved onto the praline spread followed by handfuls of chocolate chips. if we had ice cream in the house i would have eaten an entire quart as i stared at the wall. instead i laid down on the couch and slept for 30 minutes. when i woke up i decided to cut my hair. i hacked off four inches with pinking shears and eve's safety scissors. and now i just wish alysha was here to help me fix it.
life will no doubt right itself eventually. i'll figure out how to reconstruct my days, but i am still so sad to know that it will never be the same. because it was really really great with alysha down the street. it was great to laugh and shop, to count on her for knowing random songs and even more obscure scenes from movies most the world has never seen. it was great to be able to call her up and ask for favors and it was great to be counted on for giving favors in return. it was great to be able to cry about not getting a bag i really wanted and have alysha understand, despite the ridiculousness. it was great to confide and discuss and be comforted and just hang out. and, yes, it is better than great to know that almost all of this will continue happening for years and years to come, i'm just having a hard time accepting that it will be by phone and email and i-chat, not on each other's couches or a park bench while we watch our kids trip and play.
this is grossly self-indulgent. i am truly happy and excited for tom and alysha. i can't wait to hear about life with grandparents and aunts for luke, the mountains, a backyard and real-sized fridge. i can't wait to hear about all the adjustments and successes. and i can't wait to see them again, in person so we can pick up right where we left off in our conversation the day before, just like the family that we are.
the first things i saw when i walked into the grocery store last week and they looked good. as i stared at them on the shelf i had a little internal debate about these blackberries:
blackberry season is in august. it is january. a ship carried them through the ocean and a truck bounced them across the country to stock the shelves in my fairway. how much oil and gasoline was consumed by those vehicles to bring me those berries? how much pollution was released into the water and the air? how can i feel good about encouraging all that waste and damage? but those berries were really pretty and i really wanted them. so i put them in my cart and actually said to myself "that's the glory of being a modern-day american, right? fresh blackberries in january."
i haven't stopped feeling guilty since. each time i open the fridge i think about the tankers and the trucks and the oil and how i am a part of the whole polluted system of needing to have everything and anything whenever and wherever i want.
maybe the fact that i'm eating them with a local dairy's fresh organic cream purchased at the farmer's market redeems me? a little?
this past september i was in arizona for a family reunion. while there i took several trips to joanns and bought a gross amount of fabric. one piece i purchased was really out of my usual comfort zone but the christmas gaudiness really spoke to me. right as i saw it i planned to make a little button up peter-pan collar shirt for eve and a skirt for ruth for christmas. great plan. pregnancy hit me (i'm annoyed to be typing that again, but it's true) and i gave up sewing anything other than what i absolutely had to. but now the "just over half-way done building this baby" stage has hit. i've got energy, and with nothing to watch, i've got time too. but apparently i don't have a logical thought process to rely on. out of over 70 options (no exaggeration), the bundle of fabric i pulled out to turn into a dress on monday was this christmas business. christmas was three weeks ago. but, i went ahead and made the simple dress for eve, a size too big, in gaudy fabric most likely meant for a table runner. and today i'm going to make her wear it to church. good news for her is that even with "lots of boy colored things" on it, she focuses on the lovely subtle sparkle and feels pretty fancy. plus, she gets a bow tied around her waist, and eve loves a bow.
now i just have to hope that nobody asks when i made it. i
after the usual rush of getting ready and scrambling out the door, the girls and i made it to church almost on time, made it through sacrament meeting almost quietly and each went our three separate ways for the first time almost happily.
eve has been getting excited about moving up from nursery to primary, where all the big kids and a lot of her friends are, for a couple months. but she never realized ruthie wasn't moving up with her. she broke down sobbing as we dropped ruth off. sobs down the elevator, down the hall and into the chair next to her new teacher. eventually the sobbing turned to tearful wilting and with a kiss and my special lip gloss for her to hold on to- she loves that lip gloss- i made my way out and up to teach the gospel doctrine class wishing i could sob myself. i love that little team of two.
two hours later all the tears were dried and excitement filled the conversation as eve and ruth reported all the things they did and learned, many of which could have only taken place inside their little brains. with chip home from his meetings we all took a walk through the park and neighborhood and reveled in being together. next sunday we may not be perfectly on time and we certainly won't be perfectly quiet, but i think we'll all be a little closer to happy with the separation from each other for those two hours, because the reunion is pretty great.
the glory of the wrap-up report is that it is really simple. for the week in between christmas and new year's chip's office was closed, and for that one magical week we had no obligations. no meetings to attend or lessons to prepare or appointments to keep. we just got to hang out with each other and do as little as possible. we read books and built castles and watched planet earth. we walked to the park, the library, the playgrounds and we went out to eat. we went to the central park zoo with the upper east side riches and to the bronx zoo with the beans and we (i) did a little shopping, but really, the bulk of the break was all about being home and doing nothing.
as for new year's eve, it was another great night at the beans with a lot of friends and too much good food. alysha went overboard with a ton of chocolatey treats and i went a little overboard with my part: spinach dip in bread bowl, bruschetta, stuffed mushrooms and cream cheese/marshmallow fluff/almond extract dip with various fruit. the kids played, the adults talked. and we all said goodbye before the new year arrived. just as we were putting eve in her bed the countdown outside began. we joined in quietly in our little place and fell asleep listening to fireworks boom and our windows rattle.
welcome, 2008. i've got a few goals for you. but mostly i'm just hoping to be a better friend, a better mom, a better person in general.
after almost five hours of sleep i woke up surrounded by chip, eve and ruth. all in our double bed. after some half-hearted attempts, i gave up trying to go back to sleep. so instead i stared at chip, i stared at eve and i stared at ruth. i nudged and whispered but no one was budging. so with the darkness and silence of brooklyn outside, the glow of the tree in our little place, i got up, wandered a bit and started playing with the gift chip and i got for each other. an amazing camera is a fun thing to have when you're anxiously waiting for your family to wake up christmas morning.
about two and a half hours later the girls started rustling, which possibly had something to do with the countless pictures i was snapping inches from their faces, and ruthie was the first to get a cheery "merry christmas!" whisper and kiss from me, with eve and chip following shortly after. eve's daily question of "it's christmas time today?" was finally answered with a yes and when asked if we should go into the family room to see if santa came ruth gave a very strong, panicked "NO! no santa a my house." so we stopped mentioning his name and after about 10 minutes ruth was ready to leave the bedroom with eve close by her side.
last year we over did christmas. even with my handy rhyme and limited gifts, i think we did it this year too. the stockings, which are so fun to pack full of great little gifts, kept the girls busy and entertained for a long time. i think we could have stopped it all there. but, after a bowl of lucky charms and apple jacks for the girls and grapefruit for chip and i, we went to work opening the rest of the gifts. all the gifts from chip and i were wrapped in white paper and tied with fabric ribbons only. maybe a little obsessive, but i loved it.
the girls unwrapping their gifts was perfect. ruthie would immediately flip the gift over, find the seam and tear like crazy. eve, after having untied or cut the ribbon, would carefully unfold the edges and then proceed to unwrap or tear as gently as possible until the gift was revealed.
hits: the blocks, hello kitty camera (after it finally charged after a billion hours) the planet earth series, the saute (thank you s&e), and the magic wands. along with every gift from grandparents.
misses: the bicycle riding duck, from santa to ruthie. she's terrified of it. thanks a lot santa.
after playing with all the gifts for awhile i hurried to the kitchen, pulled the strata from the fridge, stuck it in the oven and got to work on preparing and baking the cranberry coffee cake. then off we walked to the beans. christmas with the beans is always so great. and fattening. alysha had baked like crazy, so altogether we had eight (more?) different treats/dishes to choose from. between five adults and three kids we ate almost all of it and then sat around talking, laughing, napping, playing and taking pictures.
after hours of lounging at the beans we made our way over to the nelsons and their homey brownstone. more chatting, eating and laughing. once the girls couldn't take it anymore we made our way home. as chip and i cleaned up they watched a show. ruth fell asleep almost instantly after lying down on the rug. eve was not far behind and neither were we. i fell asleep to the oddly soothing sound of jamaican style christmas music and chip's heavy breathing. merry christmas, brooklyn.
next up: the final installment so i can be free: christmas 2007 retrospective: the wrap up.
i'm starting to feel bogged down by my report of christmas. like it's a history paper i should have turned in last week, this is quickly falling into the chore category. but, i want this christmas documented, so i've just got to do it. and quickly, if i can make myself sit down in front of my computer long enough to sift through all the pictures and write something, anything, that makes sense. here goes.
church program. i wish i had a recording of the choir. the music selected was much more traditional than the usual fare; old basque, german and french carols. so lovely and the tiniest bit complicated, adding to the interest. i sang a solo in "the angel gabriel from heaven came" and shockingly, managed to not sound like a goat. in fact i was really happy with my performance. and that's rare. the best part of this program was the timing. held on december 9th, i got thinking about what christmas really is early in the month, and there was plenty of time for the excitement to really build. the worst part was the complete break down the girls had during the entire thing. apparently they're no fans of me being up on the stand while chip sits with them in the pew (a complete reversal of the usual church experience). chip was able to hear about 1/16th of the whole thing. but honestly, it was really nice watching the freak outs and not having to deal with them myself.
decorations. chip is the christmas decoration master around here. this is his doing and to his credit. except for the crowd around baby jesus. eve took care of that.
lights at grand army. our neighborhood is certainly rough on the edges, but the location is ridiculously great. the museum, the botanic gardens, the library, the park all within three blocks. and around christmas time it is grand army plaza that we love to visit at night. the tree that changes colors and lights up the arch fascinates for all of us, and eve does a strangely good job of guessing the color the tree will be when we first come down the street to see it.
kid's work party. eve now thinks that everyday chip goes to a place where cotton candy is readily available, pigs in a blanket and chocolate milk are continuously supplied, photobooths hang out for your enjoyment, movies about santa and reindeer play on fancy t.v.s and all conference room tables are covered with countless sugar cookies. before this visit eve was convinced chip worked on the train, so at least she understands there's a building involved now.
rockefeller center. started out walking from chip's work, got really lazy really fast and so decided to hop into a pedi cab. worth every dollar. eve waved to the people walking by, the "driver" drove them by the american girl superstore which they had little interest in, and we all hopped out at the huge tree. rockefeller center is an annoying place to be during the holidays- always so crowded- but we managed to have fun seeing the tree and watching the ice skaters. except for ruth. she did not like the ice skaters dressed up as oompa-loompas. something about painted faces and white gloves. a terrifying combination for her. i should probably avoid the circus for awhile.
church party. ruth's first up-close experience with santa. not a fan. eve, however, summoned all her courage and was able to sit on his lap and tell him what she wanted without completely wilting. "i was kinda a little bit nervous, but so i did it anyway."
christmas eve. all our pictures from the event are useless, but nights like this make me think i want to live here forever. the palmers, beans, and jeppesens. such great friends with all our kids gathered together in a brooklyn apartment. of course they won't all stay, but for now it is almost magical being together on nights like this. excellent food, great laughter, a lot of singing (accompanied by guitar and violin- how great is that?) and a ton of dancing by the kids. the nativity acting was so sweet. ruth was primed to be mary but lost focus moments before we started and ended up being a lone, mostly naked, wanderer. but eve was a solid shepherd; her character of choice. the white elephant gift exchange was entertaining. we gave the sad earless and armless sock monkey to the beans and we scored a can of spam from the palmers. i'm calling it food storage.
after leaving around 10pm, eve shouted her "very christmas!" cheers to everyone and we made our way home. we dressed the floppy girls in their christmas pajamas, put out a cookie and egg nog for santa (despite ruthie's protesting that he come into our house) and watched them fall asleep within seconds of their heads hitting the pillows. chip and i set to finishing the wrapping, filling the stockings and getting everything just right for the morning. with the tree lights still glowing we got cozy in bed around 2am, and i fell asleep feeling more excited and giddy than i have in years.
i'm going to have to separate this retrospective out into a few different categories so i don't overwhelm myself and skip it altogether. for those of you chanting "skip it, skip it!" hoping i'll move on to the more exciting grounds of brooklyn home life usually documented here, my apologies. i've got to get this down before it all becomes a distant blur and i start making things up.
i decided 10 days before christmas that i was going to make quilts for the siblings we were giving to this year (we've got a rotating list of who we give to avoid being overwhelmed, which is helpful because even giving to two out of thefamilies seemed to do a fair amount of overwhelming on me). so i set to work cutting and planning while chip was a champion running to purl several times to pick up materials i was short on. miraculously the quilts were complete and out the door in time to arrive in san francisco and provo the day before christmas.
quilt for bobby and megan:
i cannot see bright yellow and lime green without thinking of bobby and megan's wedding. so i threw a little turquoise and some orange print in there and finally made a coin quilt. i love a mostly-white quilt and i wonder if i'll ever venture away from it's simple nature. this quilt is enormous- about 80"x 90". amazingly, all the fabric used was already in my home at the time of project conception, which i love. the back is the softest vintage sheet pieced with some turquoise and the binding is from my third purchasing trip to purl a year and a half ago. a little scary how specific my purchasing memories are. if i thought about it for a few minutes, i could probably tell you what i was wearing on that day too. i'm hoping the very tall bobby and megan get some good cozying and fort-making use out of this.
quilt for emily and scott:
wow. these pictures are not great. in my frenzy to finish and get the boxes out the door i saved photographing until early morning before the sun rose. not my best idea. but hopefully you get the idea. it's a cool quilt, totally simple and inspired by a scarf i made for mim several christmases ago. the random plethora of quilting sucked up several spools of thread, but the "technique" of no-technique-required makes it kind of fun. no stressing about the lines being strait or even. just quilt away until it looks good. having never worked on any quilt bigger than crib sized, wrangling the 60" by 70" (roughly) beast through the machine over and over was laughable, but successful. the tiny wrinkly puckers created in between some of the quilting lines after washing and drying are my favorite part. (first picture taken pre-washing). off-white cotton for the front, high-quality unbleached muslin for the back, orange, turquoise, lime green, yellow thread for the quilting and dark brown cotton for the binding.
hat for baby veronica:
this aviator cap has been sitting, complete, in my home for over three months. i got pregnant and mostly miserable and never got to finishing the second part of the new baby's gift. i'm a really great aunt that way. so, i finally wrapped it up and sent it along with christmas, completely unphotographed, with the second half promised for january. welcome to the world veronica. thank you, emily, for the picture of the babe sporting her new cap- on top of the quilt no less!
home-made applesauce and granola. both really simple and really yummy.
the rest of christmas was bought from mostly local brooklyn shops (with the exception of a few more gifts to the girls' grandparents that are currently "in the works," yes, i am that person too. shamelessly giving away gifts in march that say "merry christmas!" on the card), which was fun in a completely different way.
next up: christmas 2007 retrospective: the build-up.