This was a tough week for me to decide because I have thousands of picture of Holly in water, playing in water features with Blue Turf, sitting on Blue Water Slides, at the pool, ect. And she is such a water baby. But I had this image of her in my mind at the Ball Pit at Play Cafe, they call it the "Watering Hole" and it is the first time I had ever seen a ball pit in only one color... Blue. I also thought this face was the most melancholy.. or closest to blue i would get from my eternally happy baby.. Unless of course it was of her crying. I decided to desaturated her to focus on the blue and give the whole photo more of a hit of that feeling. Hope you like it.
I Heart Faces is a site where you can share photos and submit them into weekly contests, of faces, one for kids and one for adults.
The other weekend Joel and I went questing for the "TotLot" we had heard a lot about it and needed an excuse to get out of the house. We found the Charlie Dorr Mini park, also called the Acton TotLot, which ended up not being the place we intended to go, but we had fun.It was a cute little park nestled between two houses right in the middle of a neighborhood. There were bikes and mini slides and lots of various "left" toys to play with.It was a windy evening but Holly enjoyed being outside and exploring. The lot actually went far back and behind the sandy sliding area there was a picnic and grassy area.Here is Daddy and Holly playing. He had fun chasing her around the park and especially the cuddling part.Its really fun to go to the park with Joel, as he doesn't get the chance as often as I do, and when there are two of us its nice to take turns pushing at the swing, and helping with the slide.This park had a pretty cool slide that was like a wave. Holly was a little nervous going down, and of course Mommy was afraid to let her do it on her own, but daddy was below to catch her.She of course did just fine. I think having on the shoes and socks made it less slippery and the bump also I think made her slow down a bit.This was a little slide like the ones you can get for the back yard. Holly climbed up all on her own and then slide right down. We have thought about getting something like this at home but I keep flip flopping.One day I think she would love it and it would be fun, and the next I feel like she has outgrown the little slide, but she had fun playing with it here.This was a weird little crawling tube thing. it had like a slope on either side like a slide, but I think it was really for little kids learning how to climb and crawl. Of course she enjoyed climbing through it but lot interest pretty fast. Before long she was off to find the swing, and then it was getting late and time to head home. It was a fun outing.Slides - 1 - Not only were there the wavy slides there were little play slides.
Swings - 1 - Yes
Surface - 1 - Sand and grass
Shade - 1 - it was over cast the day we went, but I imagine on a sunny day you could sit in the shaded picnic area.
Climbing - 1/2 - There wasn't a lot of climbing to do, except the one play structure.
Parking - 1/2 - Street parking
Bathrooms - 0 - None
Distance - 1 - only a few miles away
Friends - 0 - No other kids at the time. I imagine there might be more earlier in the day.
Fun - 1/2- It was a nice outing, but not the funest park we have been to. We enjoyed it, but there is a lot more to do at other places.
I have been feeling a bit philosophical as of lat so I figured I would write this post. It is something I had been thinking about for a few weeks now, actually ever since I had a conversation with Lorraine about growing up. Just after we danced like teenagers to Bon Jovi at the wedding. You have all seen picture of the play dates at Chloe's and I am sure rather then reading another play by play, you all already know the players and so this post will serve two purposes, an opportunity for me to be reflective, and one for you to browse pictures of holly and her friends. I will preface by saying that Chloe's mom and I had nothing to do at all with the game the girls made up towards the end of the post, we don't help them and they did all the pushing, pulling and climbing all on there own. Enjoy the photos.What I wanted to talk about today was being a teenager, growing up, taking risks, but really its a post about motherhood I think. It is hard to really get to the heart of the matter, and I am sure the philosophy I am describing won't be everyone;s experience, but it has been mind. I have been thinking of late about what it was like to be a kid, in fact a wild teenager, getting into trouble, experimenting, staying out all night (yes I was one of those teenagers) and I can hear my mother's words, don't you worry, you will get it all back when you have your own kids, and I guess for Holly's sake I hope I do.See... now I bet you weren't expecting to see that. But it is true, while I love my life now, and would not trade it in for the world, never in my life have I ever experienced so much freedom as when I was a teenager, and the sad thing is, you don't appreciate it when you are young, you don't even know you have it, as you feel trapped by adults, and school, and rules, and pretty much anyone with authority, but it is a personal freedom, that I think as we grow older we loose.I have been thinking lately on the notion of growing up, and I think there are two sides to it that are often over looked. I think many times people think that growing up means not having fun, not being goofy or silly, or playing. But I think that is a mistake, and I have always said I would never grow up, and in that respect I have been true to my word. I admittedly watch silly teeny bopper movies and TV Shows, I play video games, love rolling around in the grass and the sand and the ball pit with my kid, play fun games with her, tickle and chase her, sing silly songs, make up funny dances, and while I am not the goofiest of people, I was never that "Silly" as a kid either, so I feel like in many ways both Joel and I can be and at times are big kids, and I hope we never loose that.Finger painting, getting messy, playing int he mud, board games, camping in the back yard, collecting fireflies, believing in fairy tales, those are the parts of being a kid you want to and can actually hold on to, and when you have to be grown up you don't have to loose that. But there is another part that I think you loose, and ultimately I think you have to grow out of to be an adult. This confused me for a long time, because on one hand I felt very grown up and felt like a responsible adult, but on the other hand I felt like a big kid and didn't understand why.I think it has to do with those teen aged years. All the things above I am talking about really have to do with being a "kid" not a teenager. When you are a teenager you are discovering and experiencing the world, taking risks, being wild, irresponsible, wreckless, careless, and when you are a teenager you can. You don;t have to pay the bills, you don;t have to provide for your family, you don;t have to stay safe for your loved ones, you don;t have to take care of others, and really you can have an utter lack of concern to the consequences of your actions. This I think is freedom, and not every teenager gets to experience it, and even those who do, I think don;t appreciate it at the time, but I feel like this is a time of your life when you can live outrageously and truly burst at the seems and try new things and be crazy, and it is so well.. freeing.It makes me understand now when some people talk about kids having to grow up too fast, because some kids do have to help pay the bills, put food on the table, take care of a younger sibling, and they never get that chance, that once in a lifetime chance to really be free or society's proclamations about who you should be and what you should be doing and how you should think. They get to rebel. Well at least some of us do. Looking back, I am so grateful for those years, I didn't know it at the time, but I think if I knew what I do now, I might have been even more crazy and irresponsible (gasp) because the window you have to live in this way is short. Soon you are in a relationship and someone is counting on you, and then you are out on your own, and you have to put food on your table and pay rent and then eventually it is being a good wife, and balancing an ambitious career, paying a mortgage, and now you have co workers and a boss who is counting on you, and before you know it you are a mother. And well, now you have this life you have to love and protect and teach, and your world really shrinks, and nothing else matters, and you have everything to loose, so you have to be responsible, because the consequences are so great, that the risks aren't worth it.But for a few moments in your lifetime you are at a place when the consequences are inconsequential, and the risks are worth everything when you can experience life and freedom and you don't have anything to loose. I looking back truly appreciate those times. I wouldn't trade in what other;s might see as mistakes for anything, as they were world experiences, and shaped who I am today, but I also wouldn't go back for anything either, because what I have now has such value, that I wouldn't risk loosing it for anything.This will sound utterly silly, but an analogy is like becoming a vampire. When you are a teenager, or at least when I was, I imagined that if someone wanted to make me a vampire I would jump at the opportunity, to be immortal, to have that power, that freedom. But today, no way. I would loose the opportunity to be a wife and a mother, and nothing is worth giving that up, to me anyway. And I think that is the difference. I think when one becomes responsible, and people are counting on them, and they have things in there live that they value, a home, a family, that is when you have grown up, because you can no longer take crazy risks, as you may loose the things you love.So in a way, you can be grown-up, but you can still be a playful kid at heart. You give up part of that childhood, the rebellious teenage youth, but you can still hold on to being a kid. I don't know if any of this will make sense, and I suppose there are those out there who are able to somehow balance being a raver and a mom at the same time, but I think, I am am not trying to be judgemental here, those mom's haven't actually grow up yet, and don't know what they risk loosing.So I think the last point I want to make is that Yes, for Holly's sake, I hope she gives me back the worry and sleepless nights i gave my parents tenfold, I trust she will come out the other side safe and as long as she survives, I think those experiencing are something you can never have again, and can;t trade in, and I only wish there was some way to help her know that going in so she values them when they are happening, and appreciates them, but if a teenager thought in terms of appreciation and value, they wouldn't be taking risks, and wouldn't be a teenager.So I think the last point I want to make is that Yes, for Holly's sake, I hope she gives me back the worry and sleepless nights i gave my parents tenfold, I trust she will come out the other side safe and as long as she survives, I think those experiencing are something you can never have again, and can;t trade in, and I only wish there was some way to help her know that going in so she values them when they are happening, and appreciates them, but if a teenager thought in terms of appreciation and value, they wouldn't be taking risks, and wouldn't be a teenager.I also think a lot of my perspective comes from have a baby in my early 30's I had been married for 10 years, and utterly had oodles of time to be mostly free. I think there are other's who find themselves becoming a mom in there early 20's or even as teenagers, perhaps before they had a chance to experience this freedom, and that must be so difficult, because i think we are drawn to these life experiences, but they have responsibility thrust upon them before they actually had time to grow up, so they try as young parents to balance both, but I think often one part of there life might be lacking the balance they need. So I think in that way I think I feel really lucky that I had this great career and marrage and life before having children, as I can now appreciate motherhood without looking back and ever feeling like i missed out on anything else.
I have been putting off writing this post for almost two months now. I am not sure why, I suppose that the text we read in book club for this particular meeting had a profound impact on me and I wanted to do the description, discussion, of the topic justice, but it seems in stead I am just procrastinating, and so instead I will jump in.I have written this post several times in my mind, it always sounds so profound when it is in my head, unlike the words actually written here, I often wonder about that, how something can be so well "written" in your mind but then the beauty lost in translation to the page, i wish I had a way of recording those thoughts. In fact I thought next time I would use the voice recorder on my iPhone and actually record my thoughts verbally, but alas this last time I was in bed putting Holly to sleep. This is ironic, as you will see as instead of attending to the moment at hand I allowed my mind to wander and race to thoughts of the evening, what i had to do tonight, this blog, and what I would be trying to write before I myself could go to bed. The book we read was called Everyday Blessings: The inner work of Mindful parenting by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn, and for me was almost a primer in Zen teachings, in particular an approach on how to be zen everyday in parenting, how to be meditative, and how to be present, in essence mindful. Now for those of you who know me well, or at least have known me for a very long time, prior to ever having a child this might sound utterly strange coming from my lips, the very notion of me having an interest what so ever in meditation is the antithesis of what my core being had been. I might have easily been heard saying I didn't get it, not only could I not sit still, or talk, but to not even think, to clear your mind even for a moment, how could you not be thinking something, I think back to endless early relationship quibbles when i might have asked Joel what he was thinking and he would answer nothing, and this seemed like an utterly foreign concept, how is it even possible to think nothing, it was something I could never even have imagined let alone ever pondered on how to do.Yet here we are today, and after reading this book, it talks about some philosophical constructs I have been pondering since child birth that really resonate with me, and truly I thought to myself, I could totally do this meditation thing, how wonderful it would be to approach the day with a mindful, peaceful, presence, a truly zen approach. I even surmised that I perhaps could one day do a retreat, as when the book described it, it seemed something utterly welcoming in comparison to the chaos of everyday life with a toddler, not that that everyday life doesn't have its own magic, if fact it does, which is really what the book is about.It talks in one section about the 18 year retreat and how meditation is a practice and you simply do not start of as a master, but literally could be practicing your craft for 18 years, in your parenting, and why not use this gift, as a way to truly be present every moment with your children, or for that matter any task, I find in my old age, or as I have been know to say, with my newly adopted "Mommy brain" that it is harder and harder for me to multi task. I used to be able to watch TV, listen to music, browse the Internet, read blogs, write emails even knit all at the same time. now I find myself pausing a show if I need to read or write something, or closing the laptop when i want to actually watch a show. That isn't even considering the fact that at those moments when i am actually able to do any of these things the house is already full of quietness as Holly is asleep. It is a strange place in which I find myself these days.One of the examples in the book talks about doing the dishes, something so simple can provide a moment of meditation, the practice of being present with even such a mundane task. Why should your brain race, and should you be worrying about bills, and emails, and activities and duties and chores, why not simply think about the water running over your hands, the sponge, the dish, and then eventually nothing at all as your body rhythmically fills int he motions at hand and you begin to empty your mind and let the quiet in. I am not sure that I actually even know how to meditate, as shutting off my brain isn't something I know how to do. In these moments I find myself and thoughts wondering. it has become easier to turn off responsibilities and reminders, but sometimes I will find myself composing, posts, descriptions, reciting, stories i want to tell Joel. As I learned the the book, I acknowledge those thoughts and then let them drift away, back into the quiet, but then I will notice an itch, or a bird chirping, a cat meowing in the back yard, the sound of the water, the refrigerator humming, I never seem to get past these little observances into nothing, and I still am not sure if nothing is the goal, or what that would look like, but then again... this is a practice, and I have only been at it for two months.Another point int he book was how these meditations can be done anywhere at any time, a stop light in the car, two minutes of reflection, the moments in bed before drifting off to sleep, your morning shower, at least for those of us whose little ones let us get one on a daily basis. Supposedly in time, it becomes more natural less of a thought more of a routine, or even a habit. I read the book, and to be honest, I still have a few chapters left, maybe 1/4 to go. While I was in Mendocino at the beach. It is honestly one of the only times I get to read. I am trying to read another book now, but I get interrupted three times a page, so it is much more difficult, the current book is pulp fiction, so the interruptions do matter much, but with a book like this, the reading of it was almost a meditation in itself, to be so focused and in touch the way the words flowed like water, and it has been difficult to find moments when I have time and am in the right mindset to get back into it to finish. But back to the point.One afternoon I was sitting out on the porch, the windy cold porch, the air was crisp, ocean air, I was loving it, and I heard Jackie ask me, or maybe it was even Joel if I was cold, and I thought about this and said No. But it was inf act cold outside, at least the wind was cold and so I meditated on my answer and while i let the thoughts flow out and simply tried to "be" in my surroundings I noticed how warm it was. In fact the wind almost seemed to slow down, and I noticed between each gush was the sun and the heat of the day, and only when the wind would blow would the chill of the ocean cross my skin, but the in between, that was warm, and when one wasn't looking there you didn't notice it at all, in fact all you noticed was the wind if you weren't still and waiting. And in fact the in between was much more prominent then the wind itself, if you were open to it. This observation came right at the moment when I was reading the section on meditation about how it was like the waves, and how our mind is the waves and between each wave is stillness, and if we focus on the in between we can find that stillness. It was transformative to experience it just as I was reading it, a meditation within a meditation.Another part of the book that really spoke to me was on child birth. The weeks following Holly's birth was the first time I had ever in my life, or at least in an recent memory of my life truly been present, not planning for the future, thinking on the past, but living each moment as it came hurtling towards me and loving every single one of those moments. This is something I lost when I went back to work and feel like I have been searching for since I quit my job, it has been 10 months since then, a longer time then I had experienced this complete presence and I still haven't really found my way back. I get glimpses, but it isn't the same. The book talks about this. It in fact starts in pregnancy, when you are literally creating another human being from start to finish, and as a mother, a woman you become so aware of your body, so focused on your creation, and although you do tons of reading and planning and research, there are many moments when you just are. you are listening to the heart beat, feeling a kick, noticing the changes in your body, and this was how it started.I wonder if the initial magic wears off for everyone whether they return to work or not, for as your infant grows into a baby and then a toddler you are working on milestones, and weening, and solids, and play dates, and nap schedules, and typically some type of order eventually does resolve. I guess however the trick is allowing yourself to drift back and forth into the various role, of course you need to do chores, and have responsibilities and those must be managed and planned, but then you need to find a way to shift gears back into the moment when you are sitting on the grass and your little one notices a lady bug on the flower and you are right there with them, practically watching the magic of flowers growing, because in there eyes everything is new and everything is a tiny miracle.This I guess is where the practice comes in, the balance, of being able to live your life both present, but be able to plan and do the every day things you need to do. I find this shift hard. Some days i simply let go of everything and I am right there, others i am so caught up with what needs to be done, I miss out on the little moments. So the practice is learning how to do both not day by day but minute by minute.I am barely grazing the surface of this book, there is so much more, particularly about connecting with your children when they are older, conflict resolution, picking your battles, not letting the little things get to you, taking care of yourself. I find though, that for me, when I am reading the words I am feeling them, and when I am not it is so hard to remember exactly how to put into practice the philosophies that resonate so well to me, its like a bedside meditation that could be read over and over again. But then again, perhaps you are already very familiar with meditation and mindfulness and won;t find it so profound, but for me it was something so utterly foreign to the person whom I had always been before coming a mother, yet spoke so deeply to me now that I was a mother.I recall many of the moms in the group enjoyed the book, many were familiar with Jon Kabat-Zinn's other work, or other books on Zen Parenting and Mindfulness, so it probably didn't have the same impact on them, but many said they would read it again, and quite enjoyed it. I will finish it, and I will surely read it again, and I hope to have Joel read it as well. One last thought has to do with Holly's Diagnosis, it just sort of came to me upon finishing up this post. The person I was before having her, I think was very A type, the parent who would push their kid, focus on academics, work full time, and perhaps miss and not notice many things. Maybe that wasn't me, but I suspect that the notion of having lofty goals for my child the best schools, colleges, ect. were certainly there. The thing is, Its not that I still don't believe she can achieve many of those things that society typically uses to define success, it is that they don't matter to me like they once did. Status, wealth, ambition. I think coming to terms with and accepting her diagnosis, even before she was born, forced me into a place where I have learned to appreciate every single moment, achievement, milestone. Things other parents may not even notice when there child learns how to do it, clapping, reaching, chewing, squatting, banging together two blocks. It has made me appreciate everything she does and it has also made me realize that what she does doesn't really matter, what matters is who she is and that she is happy, and if anyone knows Holly they know what a happy baby she is, and i fully expect she will grow into a happy child, teenager (though I am sure we will experience the angst) and one day a happy adult. That is really all that matters. When one says that, i don;t think they always really know what that means, but I feel like being mindful and present help you to get it, and I feel like letting go of past expectations, and letting go of control, and giving in to the universe, when I got this curve ball was a big leap in helping to put me into the present.