Sunday, June 24, 2007

Altered Book: Spread #1

Here it is. I actually did everything I said I was going to do. Woo hoo. All despite babies and housework (haha) and exhaustion, etc.

My “assignment” was to use these three things

juicy word: Spirit

emotion: Resentment

media: Fantasy

The medium is found in the picture from Alice in Wonderland, a fantasy classic. It’s the scene where Alice comes upon the duchess and her screaming baby, the cook and the Cheshire cat. It feels like my day sometimes. And I do think Ivy looks a bit like that screaming baby sometimes. And I feel like I have to be two people at once, so make me the Duchess and the cook. And maybe Alice, too. Or maybe G is Alice.

Where’s the resentment? Well, sometimes that daily life makes me resentful that I can’t do more, be more. I might resent myself. I don’t really resent the kids. Well, maybe resentment isn’t the right word at all… I’m so exhausted, it’s not resentment. I don’t have the energy to pour into something like resentment. But I do feel trapped, sometimes. Trapped by the situation, exhaustion, the stage in life. I know it’s temporary, but I wish I could be more… me.

And that’s the spirit part. The me, the feather, trapped behind the bars.

Yes to Yes to Yes

The baby is napping. The boy and S are out on adventure (also known as “getting the newspaper,”) The National Geographic Channel is on tv, and I want to snatch this quiet moment of time to carve something out for myself.

Last night, I said ‘yes’ to my novel, and went through 25 pages. Granted, it’s not really revising yet, or maybe it is revising, as I am re-visioning the book. Whatever it is, I said ‘yes’ and committed to it, and a big chunk got done. If I can commit one hour a day to doing this, then I should be done with this phase in (quick, math skills, de-rustify, and…)oh,15 days, give or take. Two weeks. Then I can get down to the real business of rewriting.

Really, it just means choosing my book over television. And it’s the summer season, really, what’s on? (putting aside the obvious answer to that of So You Think You Can Dance.) And when you come down to it, it means choosing me.

In direct opposition to saying ‘yes,’ to choosing me, is allowing my fears to win—My enemy, the negative mantra of “I can’t.”

We all have a negative mantra in our head. It’s tough to get over. You need to practice with things that have a smaller stake, so that you can build up to those really big things you are afraid of, like success, or failure. (I’m never really sure which I am more afraid of, success or failure.)

The ‘Yes’ I want to practice saying right now, is the ‘yes’ of getting out of the house and going places with my kids. It’s quite daunting to pack them both up, get every body ready—changed, fed, cleaned, clothed, napped—and then wrestle them into jackets, shoes, carriers, and then carry them both down stairs into the stroller and out the door. Just thinking about it makes me tired. It always makes me tired, and so often I let that take over and just give up, play in doors, allow lunch and nap to take so long that we run out of time before the bedtime routine.

Seriously, I now need a nap just from thinking about it.

But I have to buck up and say ‘yes’ to this. Doing just this, getting out and about will make me feel a little bit more capable and energetic, I think. I can stay on top of errands, feel like I am giving my kids the chance to play outside, get some sun on my face, meet up with people… you know, basically living.

One yes leads to the next yes leads to the next leads to living the life I want to live. So, let’s practice saying ‘yes’ by going to the playground.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Right Now!!!!

I am going to get a bowl of coffee icecream with chocolate syrup and then I am going to take out my pen and read and comment on my novel until 11pm.

S is out watching the baseball game. The kids are asleep. And I have a smidgeon of energy that can only be helped along by sugar, chocolate, caffeine and cold.

I’d better get cracking before something on that list changes.

Go, girl, go!

Friday, June 22, 2007


My friend Patty is starting a little group exercise where we all keep in touch via email and do our own altered book, posting our pages once a week.

I wanted to alter an old Alice In Wonderland book that I had started years ago but never worked on due to children showing up and taking over my life. Alas, Alice seems to be lost, so I’m going to alter a Dr Seuss book that I hate reading, although the little man seems to want me to read it all the time. It’s been hidden for a few months so he wouldn’t go get it.

Mean mommy? Oh well. It’ll be a sacrifice and the altar of creativity.

So I’ve got to do my page, photograph it and download it and show it to the group by Sunday.

Wish me luck

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It's Okay

Dinner tonight is a coffee icecream soda/iced coffee/mudslide something or other that I just concocted. I like the idea of it, but I think I could figure out a better recipe. Oh, and I did eat the boy's curly pasta in tomato sauce, since he didn't. So, I suppose that could count as my real dinner.

Now the monkey boy and the Ivy bean are both asleep. If I am lucky, they will continue to be so. It's raining like crazy and the ozone scented breeze is whipping through the apartment. Thunder and Lightning.

Today was hard. Not because of the day-- so the kids tag teamed me again, one waking just as I put the other down for a nap, so I had no break, so what. The hard-ness of the day came from me. All me. I keep seeing all the things that I am not doing right. (Like eating well. Witness: today's dinner.) I keep thinking of how I should be a better mother or a better housekeeper, or a better mate or a better friend or a better sister/daughter/self. At least I could be a better writer. And I don't see the things that are going right, even if I know there's no wrong or right in the situation, there's just what it is.

I know I should work on my perspective, my attitude towards it all, and then I would feel better, wouldn't beat myself up over everything. I know this all because it's pretty typical behavior of mine to be a negative perfectionist. The problem is, I'm just too dad-blasted tired to work on my attitude.

So today, I read a million blogs. Mommy blogs and crafty blogs and writer blogs and city blogs and sometimes they were all four. And I read my blog too, going back to the beginning even, when I first started blogging many years ago. Years go by in a flash!

I'm not quite sure how all those other people with blogs manage to get an audience. I think I was starting to get one, before, with my old blog, but once the kiddos came along, I just didn't have the head space to be marketing my little blog. So my blogs remained something kind of private, something kind of like talking to myself, although someone may stumble across them every once in a while.

But atleast I get something out of them. While I was talking to myself and reading my archived ramblings, I noticed a pattern. Each time I gave birth, I went for two whole months without posting anything. Then I noticed and improvement on the pattern. With this baby, I was back writing and posting after those two months were done. The last time, I posted once or twice a month, and was completely unproductive artistically... or so I complained.

This time around, I am absolutely without a doubt tired, but I am not creatively exhausted, just energetically so. And I know also that I will get back to myself. Things will get better.

It also helped that some of the other writer and creative mom bloggers went through the same frustration when they first were struggling with their children.

So I'm going to ramble a little bit longer and say to myself that it is okay if I am not the perfect mom. It's okay if the house is a wreck and G won't eat proper meals and if we don't get out of the house to give the little man playground time every day. It's okay if my book is taking forever to revise. It's okay if I am exhausted or sad or too tired to get up and run around. It's simply okay. It'll come back. Everyone is getting what they need, if not much more than that right now. There will be time later to be productive and exuberant. It's okay for me, and it's okay for any other new mom who might be in the same situation and come astumbling upon this blog.

It's okay.

And it's time for me to go and watch So You Think You Can Dance, and that's okay, too. More than okay. I love them all so much, I don't want anyone to go home. But that's not okay, because someone is going to have to go. Oh, well. It's still fun times to watch.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

I LOVE So You Think You Can Dance.

I think if I had lived an alternate life, from about age 5, I would have, could have, been a dancer. I love it. And yet, I am completely NOT a dancer. I might shake my booty at a party or a club, or I might have once upon a time, before babies and encroaching age, but I’ve never even taken a dance class.

I love to watch dance, though, particularly modern dance, contemporary, lyrical, or whatever they call it. Sometimes, after a particularly evocative performance, I might even choreograph a number in my head.

My grandfather was also a professional dancer during the Harlem Rennaissance. He was a Spanish immigrant and used to do the Pasa Doble—the same dance they did in Strictly Ballroom. (If you don’t know it, you MUST watch it.) Sometimes I wonder if there’s a genetic predisposition to things like dance, because I’m definitely predisposed, despite not dancing.

And I LOVE the performances today on SYTYCD. The numbers, the dancers. LOVE LOVE LOVE.

See? Dance makes me talk all in CAPITALS!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Are They Sleeping?

Will they stay sleeping?

It's 8:30 pm and I am tapped out. So exhausted. They tag teamed me today again. There was about 15 minutes when both of them were sleeping, the rest of the day one or the other was awake and needing something or crying or wanting to be held or fed or what have you.

I'm choosing not to get down on myself for not having the energy to take G out, or watching too much tv. Or not getting what I wanted done today. I think a lot of it is just exhaustion. Three months of 6 or fewer hours of broken sleep a night, and I'm kind of unraveling.

But I remember the last newborn time, it was just as exhausting. I was also stuck big time in the creating thing. I just couldn't get back into writing or drawing or anything, and I had to chug-chug-chug my way back to myself, like the little engine. This time, I am not so far lost.

This time, I get that I need to organize, need to have a daily To Do list (even if I don't put that list together, I know that I should, and that I could.) I know other women who are mothers, even if I don't go meet up with them all that much.

I also have a project that I am already working on. That's good. I have some 400 odd pages of a novel that needs to be written. My brain has a focus other than kids, I only have to work on the energy and structure to make it happen. I've made the commitment to finish, that's FINISH rewriting this book by the end of September. I want to be able to do NaNoWriMo again in November, so I need to finish this book, since it is the first part of the trilogy.

And I am really excited about the story. No one else has read it at all. I haven't read it, but for the first 75 pages. When I've done me first rewrite, I can start to show it to people. First rewrite by October. Ugh. I wish I was able to read more than a few pages at a time. Ugh doubled. Must commit to my commitment. One hour a day of reading? How does that sound? Doable?

See... I am, truly, very tired, but I start to talk about my book and the juices start to flow. They may not flow quickly, but it's a start. And I think it's going to get better from here on in.

And it's 9pm, and they're still sleeping. I should take out the book.

Monday, June 18, 2007

About the Knocking Down of Walls

I think it would be good to not be so stingy with my happiness.

There’s some sort of protective shield I put up against happiness, or maybe showing happiness. What is it? If you’re not happy, no one can take your happiness away? No one can mock you for not being stoic or sarcastic or snarky. Why do we all have to be so snarky nowadays, anyway? Who was it that decided only cornballs are happy? Where did the cool-unhappy connection come from?

Well, I guess it actually makes sense, to be “cool” you are not surprised by things, they don’t shock you or hurt you, or amaze you, and, unfortunately, you are not made happy by them, either. You are cool, cold—ABOVE it all. It’s about not being affected by people or events that happen.

Is that what I want? Do I want to not be affected? To have no one touch me truly? If I wall out pain, am I not also walling out joy? Love? Contentedness?

I’m being stingy with others, too. Witholding myself and my love. It’s sad really. It’s scary to open up. It’s easier to watch tv or go online to an anonymous message board than it is to actually connect with the real people in my life.

You know, I do this in my writing, too. I have been accused of getting so elaborate in the story leading up to the heart of the matter, and then skipping right over the part that is painful or true or exposing.

This is all a strange thought… that it takes bravery to be happy. It takes bravery to knock down the protective walls and allow the joy (and possible heartbreak) in to your heart.

This Week in Adventures or The Travels of the Adventure Team!

This week, we bought new sandals, adventuring up Grand Street, watching the kids practice tae kwon do through the store front, exploring the kids shoes, especially the pink sparkle Dora jelly sandals which I still regret not gettinig for G, sitting in a cafe eating a plum (G) and drinking ice coffee (me).

We went to the indoor playground, where G got a time out for playing too rough. We played in the rain on the deck. We took a trip into Manhattan, which includes fun times on the subway, watching a tap dancer/drummer combo on the platform, walking through Union Square and the Farmer’s market, where we bought yummy fresh strawberries, then playing in the little playground in the park and even swinging on the swings, which G doesn’t usually like to do. We met up with some old friends of mine who had never met G or Ivy, and they were both very well behaved (the kids, not the friends, although they were well behaved, too) and we had lunch at one of our old favorite restaurant. G played with the crayons and placemat and had fried onion rings for the first time. Then we took a trip back to the school I used to work at. I don’t think that was very much fun for the kiddos, but it was a trip for me. We also bought G his very own little potty. I don’t think he much cares for it, but that’s only because that adventure is just beginning.

What else did we do this week???? We bought papa a Papa’s Day present—The Dangerous Book for Boys, which will be much fun as G grows older. I hope they put out one for girls. Ivy and I went on a trip alone to Barnes and Noble to get it, and sat in the cafe window overlooking Union Square (yes, that’s two trips to Manhattan.)

We also went to the Farmers Market in McCarren park in Brooklyn. We got a coffecake and some apples and some herbs to plant on our deck, then we sat in the grass and had a mini picnic. G ran around with some other toddlers, one of whom had already been through the rough-play stage.

We also set up the wading pool on the deck, and G played in it. He loved it so much that he keeps running back to the window to check on it.

Maybe today we’ll go out on the deck, play in the pool and plant our herbs in the planter. I’d better learn how best our herbs will grow. Should I put them all in one big planter, or spread them out in smaller pots?

Friday, June 15, 2007


I need to find the joy in everyday. Need to experience my life, and value it, not let it pass by in a haze of unmet expectations and negative feelings about what I HAVEN’T done.

This is my life. I do not want to want it to be something different. It’s too easy to get caught up in what I do not have. It’s too easy to get caught up in what I am not.

I don’t want to say “Yes, but…” to life, either. I want to learn to accept it. Learn to accept that we are broke right now. Learn to accept that I can’t buy all the things that would be cool to have. Learn to accept that I am not a great housekeeper. Learn to accept S’s negative traits. Learn to accept my own negative traits.

None of that is to say that I can’t work to change certain things about my life, but I need to accept the way they are right now so that I don’t feel DEFECTIVE, which is what actually happens. And then my self esteem goes down the toilet and everything just seems harder, and I am not happy, and I can only see that the bathroom needs to be cleaned, and not the unbridled laughter of my son, or the soft yet firm grip of my baby daughter’s hand on my thumb.

Remember. Stop in the maddening hamster wheel of “the grind” and remember to pay attention to what is now. Right NOW.

I wonder if I did this, would it help me actually achieve all those things I want? If I just accepted life, said yes to it, would I be a more responsible adult? Would I be more productive? Would I ease into the revision of my novel—which I really like, by the way, although I have been making excuses not to work on it. Would I be able to keep my kitchen clean or get rid of the clutter? If I get rid of my head-clutter, will my life-clutter go, too?


I am an adult; 36 years old, mother of 2, a High School teacher, although not one now, and yet, there are certain areas of life where I just curl up in a fetal position, with the blankie over my head going “no, no, no, no, no…”

It mostly has to do with money, with forms, with official grown up things like health insurance or the government. Of course I also go into hiding when I think of getting my writing published.

But I don’t really have the luxury of being a flake or a child about these things. I am an adult with the responsibilities of an adult. What I do does not affect just me any more, it affects my children.

I may have a hard time believing that I am the mother of two kids sometimes, but I am. And I have to take care of them. And I have to take care of me, too, if not for my own sake, simply because I’m worth it, then for my kids’ sake, because they need to have a healthy, strong, successful mom who is there for them.

Sometimes, when I get small and scared, I remind myself to be an adult. I don’t always want to step up to the plate, so sometimes I have to goad myself, like a bully. “Do it, you wuss, be an adult.”

It’s worked a couple of times, maybe I can keep doing it and I’ll get in the habit of acting like an adult when I need to.

Just to be clear, being an adult does not mean being boring or narrow minded or unadventurous or unhappy or any of that. I truly believe that grown ups can be just as full of wonder as children, just as spontaneous, they just also take care of what needs to be done.

Maybe I should also give myself a goal about childlike wonder to balance out the adultifying.

Monday, June 11, 2007


When am I going to get my energy back? When will I get out from under the tidal wave of baby care? I need to get a handle on all of this and not be so exhausted by it so that I can continue with the other parts of my life. I cannot drop them, writing, teaching, art. I must do them for my own happiness, but also to make money for my kids. This isn’t just my career we’re talking about, this is our livelihood.

Has this raised the stakes sufficiently to get over all my insecurities and self sabotage? Maybe, but it hasn’t helped with the sleepy/achey/braindead/exhaustion. Please say it’s just the post partum junk and the hormones from nursing. It’s the having two under two thing, and in one month when G turns 2 years old, all angst and exhaustion and struggle will magically lighten.

Poof! Baby overwhelm gone! Continue on boldly in your life, Ro. Nothing holding you back!


Sunday, June 10, 2007

I'm tired, SOOO tired. (who sang that song?)

I try to revise my novel when I have time, I’ve done maybe a hundred pages, but I am the mother of two children under two years old, and I almost never “have” time.

That time is almost always taken away from something else.

Of course, I do have unproductive habits that I could give up. Hello, television? Or maybe I should say “goodbye, television.” I mean, it’s summer, there’s hardly anything new on tv. Surfing on line could also go. I could at least cut back on it.

I watch tv and web surf when I am exhausted, as I always am. It’s a real problem to productivity, but it’s also an excuse. Yes I’m tired, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t or can’t do things.

In order to revise my novel, in order to even read it (seriously, I can’t even reread Harry Potter right now) I have to buck up and stop… well… feeling sorry for myself.

Oh, I’m so tired.

I mean, I really am, but I feel so sorry for myself because I am so tired.

I think if I just accept my life as this right now, and not fight that I am tired, but flow with it, then I might get better at editing my novel.

And the truth is, working on my book will make me feel better. It will excercise my brain and get me used to working again on something other than babies.

I don’t have to revise the whole thing this week, but if I just commit to working on it, whatever I can, I can get it done.

Easy would be to commit to just 15 minutes a day of revising. I can set my timer. Easy, right? Easy.

Hey, does this make any sense? I don’t know what I’ve just written.

Did I mention that I’m tired?

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Monster Man

People Building

I look at the baby sometimes and wonder who she will become. They’re so unformed at this point. A blank slate, it seems—but even in those chubby baby cheeks and gummy smile and innocent eyes, there is a seed of who they are.

I can see it more in G. His personality is starting to come out more and more with his individuality. He is a handful, always going off on adventures, with or without my approval. He’s big into playing—things like chase and wrestling, which the other kids his age are not quite ready for. And he’s such a BOY already! Cars and trucks and tricycles, dinosaurs, monsters, animals. Football, baseball, pretty much any ball. And he loves water with a passion—getting soaked on his first time in the playground sprinklers, while the other kids in his playgroup hung back with their mommies, shy or afraid. They all stay by their mothers. Gabriel though is always off. Last playgroup, he actually began a little revolt in the good-baby group, and they all took off after him on his adventures. He was like some sort of toddler Pied Piper of Hamlin… which is funny, because his grandma’s last name comes from the town of Hamlin.

But with the Beanie baby, none of that is clear at all. Who is she? Is she going to be as serious as she seems now, or is it just gas that makes her frown like that? She’s already holding her head up very strongly, and standing on those bowed baby legs… does that mean she will be stubborn? Strong? Independent? Is raising a girl going to be THAT different from raising a boy? I mean, G turned into a boy-boy with no help from me. Is the Bean going to be a girlie girl? Or a tomboy? Or maybe she won’t be that easily defined. I do know that she already shows a preference for baseball on tv… something her Papa is very happy about.

Whoever she is, whoever G is, I want to help them become the best version of themselves. I don’t want to squash their independent spirits. I want them to be able to explore their world and experiment.

And yet… I want to help them understand the world and its boundaries. I don’t want them to get hurt, or to hurt anyone else. I want them to understand the value in other people, as well as the value in themselves. I don’t want them to be spoiled, or bullies. I want to help them be kind and helpful and loving and confident and creative. Strong and Happy. Strong and happy.

How much power do I have over who they will ultimately become? How much of that is really out of my control, and all up to them?

I don’t know. Parenting nowadays feels like a crap shoot. A lot of the old ways of doing things are not really acceptable now. A whuppin’ was common back then, now I would never do that. But I have to say, I don’t agree with the extreme permissiveness and coddling that I see sometimes today.

My philosophy, I suppose, developed when I was teaching High School, is that you give kids boundaries, and then within those boundaries, you let them have free will. I don’t want to strangle them with rules, but they need to know where the boundaries are… that’s what makes kids feel safe, those boundaries.

The question is where I set the boundaries and how I enforce them. There is no question about how consistent I have to be once I set those boundaries. Like for hitting—NO HITTING!

That’s the only one I’m 100% on right now. I guess I will figure out the other boundaries as I go along. I’m starting to work on one—something like, “no playing with water/other liquids inside the house unless it is in the bathtub, ie: no dumping mama’s coffee cup on the floor.”

But on the other hand… I also don’t want the world to be about “NO.” I don’t want to run around all day telling my kids what they can’t do. So I’ll have to pick which things to let go, which battles to fight.

Now that I think about it, it’s not only who the kids are that is unformed…it’s also who I am as a mother.

Friday, June 01, 2007

9:30 PM

And I should turn off the tv, transfer the baby to her cosleeper, bring my beer and head to bed with the next few chapters of my novel.

I’m tired. Bone tired… in fact, my hip is aching inexplicably when I sit, and the center of my back twinges when I stand. My brain doesn’t focus very well, and pretty soon, my eyes will start closing of their own accord.

But not yet.

My normal bedtime is 11pm. I have an hour and a half until then, so why not take that time to revise—

Dear God!!!

Baby girl, go back to sleep!

Sigh. I guess there is no chance for mommy to be not mommy.

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