Saying goodnight

As I was getting ready to go out, my eldest son glanced up and noticed a strand of silvery colored beads around my neck.

Wow, I like your necklace, Mama. Those are shiny. And pretty. And sparkly.

A few minutes later, my husband glanced at me.

Him: Are you going for the middle school.. ahem, ahem… look?

Me: What? 

Did you say middle school teacher? 

Or middle school librarian?

Him: Oh, nevermind, he responded.

Me: Because one of my best friends happens to be a middle school librarian!

And She.Is.Hot.

He agreed. So there. True story.

For the record, I was wearing tights, tall black boots, skirt and… kind of a wraparound black cardigan thing that my hubby can’t identify.

Him: What is that? Is it a sweater?

We headed out for drinks and dinner on a Friday night. I’d just spent 6.5 hours on a kindergarten field trip with said kindergartener AND his preschooler brother. It was gorgeous in Portland, a mild, sunny day in early March that happened to coincide with my birthday. It was a fun, exhausting and life affirming experience surrounded by five and six year olds.

As I bid good night to my 39th year and cautiously enter my 40th… which, by the way, means I turned THIRTY NINE and I’ve got a year to go till I hit four decades of life so far…

Now I can’t remember what I was talking about.

Oh yes. Birthdays and love and family and stuff. All of the usual suspects.

My baby will turn three years old quite soon. Perhaps because he’s the “baby”, I haven’t given much thought to his birthday. For my eldest, I think back on how we threw a party in a park and tossed a beach ball to every party-goer age 1 and up. It was a blast.

I don’t have similar plans in mind for little M. He has some difficulty expressing himself in words, and that adds to the  pot of perceiving him to be younger than he actually is. I’m looking forward to him meeting with a speech therapist on Monday. However, he is adept at communicating his needs, and more often than not he needs hugs and cuddles rather than food, water, or the potty (actually, he never needs the potty, as he is potty-training averse). As we embark upon his fourth year, I think of babies and the need… the constant need… the physicality of parenting… the holding, patting, soothing, rocking. My little one is still a rocker, and when very tired he will rock back and forth on the sofa or in his carseat, soothing himself. I remember the stretches when my husband or I walked back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, across a dimly lit room, willing the tiny being into sleep. I recall the minuteness of their hands, their diminutive feet.

I don’t miss it.

Not really.

For a moment, ok, I miss it.

But as they grow, and as I linger by the computer while they sleep, I remember, and I think – wow. This is happening. They are becoming real people. They are a part of me.

And so, my birthday recently past, and despite the challenges of my 39th year, I feel good about raising these small people. They are contributing. They are observing. They are learning.

So when my eldest told me today that he “would be much better behaved if he didn’t have a brother”, I could breathe in and nod and say, yeah possibly. But you do have a brother. And I do have two kids. So let’s get on with being a family today.

Thanks, readers, for the journey around the sun love last week.

boys Jan 1 2012

We look at life from both sides now

By mid-day the Nyquil fog had lifted. Finally. I can’t tolerate the medicine anymore. Every morning this week I felt like I’d fallen asleep in a bathtub of gin.

Today is day six of Me vs a Sinus Infection. When I woke, I could breathe! This immediately put me in a good mood. Unfortunately, rousing the boys was my first mistake. But they had to get to school, so wake them I did.

Disclaimer: Now that I’m working less and staying at home with the boys more, these posts may get awfully boring. For some of you, however, they may become a bit more compelling as I transition to a different way of being, living, and loving this season. Stay tuned.

As some of my readers may know, the little guy is just killing me. Tearful in his crib, he wanted his father to pick him up, and sadly we went to the window to see that Dada had already left for work. Breakfast is a challenge and “Max no like that” is a common refrain. He immediately offered his buttered English muffin to our dog who snapped it up, wagging his tail. He ate some applesauce and a few frozen blueberries. He cried when he accidentally knocked over his water glass. He cried when some applesauce got on his shirt. He cried when I told him it was time to change his diaper. He cried and he yelled and he ran away when I tried to get him to wear a jacket on this chilly fall morning. Sigh.

We piled in the car while the eldest chattered happily about a time when his brother Max will be five years old (like him) and we can all go to Disneyland. Arriving at daycare, Max did the quickest 180 I’ve ever seen. His buddy C. was there waiting for him. Both boys broke out in huge smiles and began to chase eachother around the room. He kissed and hugged his brother and me and said “Mama go bye bye now. Miles go bye bye now”.


On to kindergarten.

Yesterday I volunteered in Miles’ classroom for two hours. He was thrilled. When I left, however, he cried and cried. He thought I was a teacher now. Oh dear. This morning we approached his classroom and the tears began. Oh no. I hugged him tight. Told him all the love in my heart was in his heart, all day, just like I used to when I dropped him at the Maple Room.

He misses his old school. He misses his old friends. He doesn’t want to go to kindergarten anymore. Well, except P.E. He likes that.

Bravely he watched me walk away. My heart broke a little, and I’m wondering what he’s doing right now. I guess I’ll keep wondering till pick up time. He has a soccer game tonight and I know he’ll rally with his soccer pals. But as for kindergarten, can someone please tell me when he’ll make friends and like school again?

P.S. After writing this post I received a call from a dear friend. She reminded me that it is hard work to make new friends. We’ve known eachother for over twenty years, and I wouldn’t replace her friendship with a new friendship for all the world. So I think I’d better proceed gently with my new kindergartener as he navigates his new and strange world. If you’re reading, amiga, then thank you thank you thank you. You are a forever friend!

Weep lightly, laugh big

It has been a strange and weepy kind of day. I cried twice before noon. I felt fat, tired and defeated by 9:00 am.

But mostly tired.

The two-year-old is kicking my ass. He says yes and then no and then yes in forceful, angry terms. He wants to be held all the time.

Uppy! Uppy! he cries.

Unlike a babe in arms, it is next to impossible and at a minimum uncomfortable to actually accomplish anything while holding a fussy toddler.

If he doesn’t want to be held, then he prefers to be completely independent.

Max do it! Move back, Mommy! MAX DO IT! (weird how one child calls me Mama and the other one calls me Mommy).

The first time I cried was while reading a blog post that many of you also read on the one-year anniversary of the death of Jack.

Jack, age 12, had just started seventh grade when he was swept away while playing in the rain by a local creek. You can read about it here. He had eyes that sparkled with happiness.

God. Tears again as I write this, remembering Jack. I never met him, and now I’ll never forget him.

I glanced at my then-quiet and beautifully-playing-with-cars children and felt awful for being so unsympathetic to the two-year-old attitude.

A few hours later a close friend sent an invite to a select group of amazing women to celebrate her 40th birthday – in her words – to embrace it rather than mourn it by spending a long weekend in Palm Springs to talk, hike, eat, drink, sleep, laugh and play. I cannot wait. I started crying as I read her sweet message about getting older and friendship and the opportunity to take this time – this time to be together and to play.

I don’t play enough. I read a lot, sleep less than I should, and think more than I should.

I haven’t worked outside the home for one month now. It’s felt like a vacation. My parents were here for a couple weeks, and we partied, made outstanding dinners and were fully present with the boys. We went to Hood River where my father and I swam across the Columbia River. We picked tomatoes andcucumbers and peaches. And we genuinely enjoyed one another.

But I’m not on vacation. I miss the routine of getting up and ready for work. My eldest started kindergarten on Friday and it was an unbelievably easy and heartfilled day of learning for all of us. My mom left early this morning which always makes me sad. So much feeling is welling up within me. I can’t stand it.

Last night I told Miles that I wished he could be a baby again for just a few minutes. He looked at me kindly and explained that if he were to transform into a baby, then he would have to go back to the Cherry Room (daycare) and not have any teeth. Right? He makes me laugh.

Where is the reset button?

By evening the day had wildly improved, though I was still feeling out of sorts. Naptime brought peace into the household. Post-naptime was full of energy and activity. I was still wishing for bedtime and it was after 8:00 pm when I finally got  a shower, and the boys were sprinting from room to room.

It was too predictable.

Laughter turned into tears when they crashed into eachother and tumbled down. Bonked heads, I made them sit on opposite sides of the sofa with icepacks.

This is headbonked boy # 1.

And his younger headbonked brother.

Finally, finally they slept. And now so will I. This headbonked mama is ready to crash.

Damn that Peter Parker

Dear Two-Year-Old,

You were so mad because I wouldn’t let you wear your pajamas to school today.

Those are your “night night” shorts, I explained. Try these baseball shorts instead.

No! Not these baseball shorts!

You grabbed your pjs and ran away.

Cursing silently, I drank deeply (coffee – it’s 8 am).

I told him he could change into his jammies as soon as he came home from school.

Observing me solemnly with dark eyes fringed in long lashes, this tiny half-dressed warrior toddler almost preschooler boy child considered my suggestion.

Ok, Mommy.

And he put on his baseball shorts.

We walked toward the front door. Let’s put on your shoes, I said benignly, and waited.

Sneakers successfully on, he grabbed a pair of Spiderman crocs from the basket of shoes on our way out, and began crying wildly in the car.

Not these baseball shoes, Mommy!

Dear sweet heaven help me.

Yesterday his big brother asked me to buy him a box of Spiderman Cheez-Its. You don’t even like Cheez-Its, I countered.

Yes, but I will like these Cheez-Its, you see, Mom, because they have Spiderman.

Ah, I do see. That’s called Marketing.

What’s Marketing?

It’s a tricky way to get you to buy stuff that’s not good for you.

Oh. Marketing is like an evil bad guy criminal.

Right. We did not purchase the Spiderman Cheez-Its.

Back in the car on the way to school, my youngest attempted to break free of his carseat and yelled “Open door, Mommy! Open door!”

Would you like me to open the window? I inquired.

This really made him mad. He’s not an idiot, after all.


I’m driving down the road. I can’t open the door while we’re driving.

Finally he agreed to have me help him out of the car, and he tearfully unclutched the Spiderman shoes.

Damn you, you webbed, taunted spider-bitten hero. My boys adore you.

I love these kids.

I hear crashes and yelling coming from the basement.

I walk quietly down the stairs to investigate. The playroom is out of control. Legos and puzzle pieces and soccer balls and feathers (feathers?!) are everywhere.

Hi Mom. We’re destroying the planet.

I can’t get into this right now, so I nod ok and head back upstairs.

Bits and pieces of their dialog float upstairs.

No more pizza!

Toss it off the pirate ship!

One more minute!

They are boys, and they are ours. This week we’ve experienced crankiness, heat, vomit, fever and wake up calls in the wee hours. But today they are bursting with energy and have played more or less quite well together all morning.

We are gathering our things to head out to a family wedding…. fancy dress, shoes, diapers, favorite lovies, action figures, books.

But mostly all we need is eachother.

I love my family. Can’t wait to get to Detroit!

They’re destroying the planet before going on vacation

Good night moon

It’s 8:20 pm. I listen closely outside the door of  the boys’ room.

Blessed silence.

Drill Sergeant Mama arrived on the scene at my house tonight the moment dinner ended. She allowed a tolerable amount of playtime, negotiated dustups as they arose between brothers, ushered children into the bath tub, supervised a dance party, worked a puzzle, and then began the great attempt to wind them down for books and bed.

Yeah right, like this happens easily.

The boys rock out to Mary Poppins’ chimney sweeps singing “Step in Time”, and then we head downstairs. Pajamas. Glasses of water. They are completely wound up, their little minds active and awake.

Let’s. Read. Books, she said nicely, gritting her teeth.

Am I the only parent who when, as the hour approaches 8 pm, feels like she is just completely, entirely done?

I am not with my kids all day because I work full time, and  I treasure my time with them. The problem is that nearly every hour of my day is devoted to a) kids or b) work, thus leaving c) me or d) my partner and me conclusively out of the picture. Instead of winning a $640 mega-million lottery, I wish for a mega-million hour day (although both would be fabulous).

I don’t mean to be the cranky mama. But when I left the daycare tonight with the littlest screaming bloody murder in my arms – every other parent in the parking lot’s eyes on me – it didn’t bode well. Here’s how my evening played out.

We arrive home. One kid is happy. The other is still mad that I made him leave his big brother’s super fun and fascinating preschool classroom. They are both hungry. I scramble to put out veggies and crackers and throw something frozen in the oven.

We go outside (it’s not raining, so we cannot resist). Everyone is happy now.

We admire tiny ants crawling on trees and pick up dog poop (this is really fun for the littlest).

We look at more tiny ants. We march around in the muddy yard and admire the small starts on the garden beds. Littlest child takes off boots to walk around in muddy socks.

Eldest child climbs tree. Finds more ants. Littlest child yells for Mama to pick him up so he, too, can see the ants.

Dinner might be burning.

Where is Daddy?

Eldest and littlest are convinced to come inside to eat. They both eat good dinners – leftover pasta with red sauce, raw veggies, and frozen artichoke puffs that contain mostly cheese and a little spinach.

Daddy arrives home. Everyone cheers.

Let’s return to the concept we call Bedtime.

In philosophy, an important distinction is whether an object is considered abstract or concrete. Unfortunately, my young philosophers prefer to define the concept of Bedtime abstractly, while Drill Sergeant Mama insists Bedtime is a concrete activity that results in real, live sleeping children.

I give up briefly and leave the imps children on our king-sized bed to begin the wind down routine with their father while I drink a glass of wine I toss soiled clothes into the washer and fold a gigantic pile of clean clothes.

Before heading to the laundry room, I give strict instructions. Brush teeth. Read three books. Be quiet. You may snuggle under a blanket if necessary.

Moments later, crashing sounds and peals of laughter resound above me. Tickling fights on the bed ensue. Both children are now jumping as high as they can while their father eggs them on. I can’t quite tell, but I think they are pretending to be pirates on a sinking ship.

This is Not.Winding.Down.

But Daddy did get their teeth brushed.

Drill Sergeant Mama returns to the scene to announce darkly that there are now seven minutes remaining for books, and then it’s Time For Bed.

Chagrined, the boys actually settle down for a few minutes, and the eldest picks out the book that I least enjoy: a preschool friendly book filled with images of gigantic spiders – bigger than lifesize. The photographs are blown up to frog, no, cat-like proportions, and are seriously creepy. As we read, both boys take turns pretending to be attacked by spiders, be spiders, or transform into enemies of spiders who prevent attacks with their “force fields”. Never mind the littlest can’t talk much. He is totally into this.

When I drag them away from the spider book, we read Byron Barton’s Planes and Mama, Will It Snow Tonight? by Nancy Carlstrom. We are transitioning into a wonderful moment where both boys go to bed at the same time. In the same room. As you may imagine, it’s not going over so well with the eldest, but since he gets to wear a totally awesome headlamp from REI and take a notebook, books and a pen to bed, he concedes.

Ahhhh. Good Night Moon.

Good Night Moon


Remembering 1974

The eighth of March in the year one thousand nine hundred and seventy four was a Friday. A brief examination of the day’s history did not offer exceptionally interesting bits of information, except that perhaps it was the day the Charles de Gaulle Airport opened in Paris. But while looking at what happened either just before or just after the eighth of March, in the year 1974, things got more interesting.

In June 1974, the tenth staging of the World Cup took place in Germany. The soccer tournament marked the first time that today’s trophy, the FIFA World Cup Trophy, created by the Italian sculptor Silvio Gazzaniga, was awarded. Cool, and shout-out to my European football fan husband for making me pay attention to this stuff.

Later in the year, American President Richard Nixon resigned due to the Watergate scandal that broke in early August. This isn’t news to most people, but it is the most significant political event of the year of my birth.

Oh, didn’t I mention that?

Today is my birthday. To conmemorate the occasion (and before I go to work), I decided to do a little light research. I’m not worried about aging (much), and to confirm that I identifed other women with whom I share a birthday, give or take six weeks. They include Victoria Beckham, Penelope Cruz, Eva Mendes and Faust.

While one could compare one’s own success to that of said women of same age, that would be an unfortunate idea. Instead, I am inspired. These women are confident. Motivated. Successful. Hot. And they’re all, like me, rapidly approaching 40 years old. I am psyched to be in the same company (from a distance). Seriously. I may not have the make-up artists/personal trainers/agents/bank accounts that they do, but I have one life to live, and it is mine. And I am so grateful. So grateful, in fact, that in my quicky research I realized that I didn’t need to figure out who shared a birthday with me to find inspiration.

It occured to me this morning to go to the source.

My mother.

This woman, after all, is the person who conceived and co-created me. When I realized that what I was looking for was practically right before my eyes, I asked her to tell the story of the eighth of March, so many years ago. Here is what she said:

March 7,  1974

We were living in Philadelphia, Pa.  Tomorrow would be my last day of work! Our baby (we didn’t know the gender in those days) was due about March 20th so I was happy I’d  have a couple of weeks to prepare for the upcoming event!

March 8, 1974

I woke up and got ready for a doctor appointment and work. I believe the appointment was at 10 a.m. On the way there I felt kind of  crampy but okay. We parked the car and went to the office,  and I’m feeling slight pain.  To make a long story short, the doctor examined me and said, “You need to get to the hospital ASAP.”

We started walking down the street to the parking lot, and all of a sudden I had terrible pain and had to sit on the curb. Your dad immediately hailed a taxicab and off we went to the Hospital Center which fortunately was not far away.  I was in pain, the cab driver knew I was about to deliver and he kept saying, “Hold on, we’ll get you there”.

 As we were pulling into the emergency room, I threw up in the car. I kept apologizing but the driver was a sweetheart. He said, “Just go in…..not to worry.”  Dave gave him a huge tip (which he deserved!) and off we went. I was immediately put in a wheel chair and went to delivery.  My little one was breech, and Sarah Kathryn Padilla was born at 3:38 p.m. , a vaginal birth (in this day and age, they would have done a C-section without thinking twice!) They thought that she may have broken her collar bone, so they took her right away to check it out. She was fine, healthy, weight was about 6lb. 13 ounces. Absolutely beautiful, and very healthy, and very hungry.

I cried when I saw her. Dave was thrilled and I can hardly believe that our little daughter is 38 years old. It seems like yesterday that I almost had my first child on the streets of Philly, the City of Brotherly Love.

Thank you for giving birth to me, Mom.

I love you so much.

Found the Marbles