Friday, March 05, 2010


Last night I got to watch the kidlet fall asleep, like really, truly “one minute I’m awake, and the next I’m not anymore” fall asleep. As much as we want him to be able to fall asleep on his own, without one of us sitting in his room watching, these moments are precious and tender: his hands tucked under his chin, clutching the blanket, New-B, eyes fluttering and then not.

I watched his face loosen and calm as he settled into the folds of sleep. I watched as the hold on the blanket became not as fierce. I sat there, longer than I’d intended, watching.

It reminded me a bit of when he was first born, how we would watch him for hours, amazed and fascinated that he was ours, that he was real, that this bundle simply was at all, all of our tenderness summoned into a finger as we traced his ears, the swoop of his nose.

There are times, daily, when he pushes me to points of no return, points of frustration and irritation, when my exhaustion is highlighted and my patience as threadbare as an old quilt, though no less meaningful.

There was poetry in those moments last night when all was quiet save for the music that played. There was a delight of the moment when awake fluttered into asleep, and I dared not trace his ear, the swoop of his ear. So I whispered gently, “Love you, snugglebug. Sleep well,” and stole out of the room, my heart full.

Friday, February 26, 2010

RGBP Friday Five

Friday Five: Winter Olympics Edition

Songbird brings us this week's Friday Five, the first one that I've done in a looooong time. 
1) Which of the Winter Olympic sports is your favorite to watch?
I love the WO, and will watch whatever is on. This year we recorded them, en bloc, and have relished watching them in the evenings. I particularly enjoy Speed Skating and Ski Jumping, and every four years love to watch Curling. 

2) Some of the uniforms have attracted attention this year, such as the US Snowboarders' pseudo-flannel shirts
and the Norwegian Curling team's -- ahem -- pants. Who do you think had the best-looking uniforms?
I was smitten by the paisley-appearing orange Russian speed skater uniforms.

3) And Curling. Really? What's up with that?
Really. If your lakes were frozen most of the year, and you loved bocce ball, you'd find a way to play it on ice, too. And if your mom let you, you'd want to flatten the grass like they smooth the ice to make your ball go farther. Couldn't. Stop. Watching.

4) Define Nordic Combined. Don't look it up. Take a guess if you must. 

Ski jumping and cross-country skiing. This was the first time the US had ever won a medal. Spillane won a silver medal in all events; DeMong won gold in large hill. Jump first, ski second, starting in the order of longest jump first.   

(There will be a prize for the best answer, but be aware, this is a judged sport.)

 5) If you could be a Winter Olympics Champion just by wishing for it, which sport would you choose for winning your Gold Medal?

Downhill skiing.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

not sleeping

My insomnia doesn't come these days during the first part of the evening. In fact, I've been drifting off to sleep while reading a book, my head snapping up as the book falls to the side. I fight this sleep, actually, wanting to stay awake and be lost in the pages of a fiction-world, a documentary-world, a memoir of someone's fascinatingly ordinary life. Last night I went to bed to read, lusting after that wee-hours reading that I've been known for since childhood. And, while I read a bit, it was nowhere near the bleary-eyed ending I'd imagined.

No, these days it's the morning portion that haunts me. It's not chronic or cyclical, this insomnia. I'm not even particularly concerned about it, except in that way that everything concerns me and I acknowledge the weight, the heaviness of the days. Instead, as happened this dark-morning-night, after returning the kidlet to his own bed, I realized that it was only a bit before 3, a completely decent hour to fall back to sleep. Except it wasn't.

So, I prayed. I meditated on my toes and my ankles and my knees. I flipped pillows and went to the bathroom. Finally, I put socks on my feet and ventured into the living room, eyes still heavy, body still aching to be asleep. Snuggled in beneath the ancient quilt and with the puggle snoring in the bend of my knees, I caught up on some things from the DV-R.

It's a tricky endeavor, this dwelling in the in-between of night and morning. The dog will sleep as long as we do, but once we're awake he likes to be fed and let out, to be let back in moments later. I understand. I rather like those things first thing in the morning, too. He returns to his spot quickly, though, content to have someone watch him sleep. But it's also a time when I don't want to wake the rest of the house, and I hope upon hope that I'll fall back to sleep, and so don't want to engage in a task -- like the dishes or the bills or the taxes.

Mostly this morning, honestly, I was thankful for the few hours of solitude, the quiet only broken by the sound of an occasional snow plow, the darkness illumined by the flashing orange lights. My time alone like this is rare, especially unencumbered of expectations of productivity. The day feels different when I'm the first one to stir, when I'm the one to break the seal of the sleep cocoon, and to see the first rays of sunshine glowing behind the blinds. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


"You can hug me all you want forever, Mama," he said, standing tall on the kitchen stool. "But I get to decide about the kisses."

He smiled at me because he knew he was getting away with something. I said, "Ok, that sounds like a deal." And then I hugged him because he let me, and because I'll never get enough of that feeling of him in my arms and how it brings back holding a not-even-eight-pound bundle.

But last night, as I peeked on him before bed, straightening his blankets and repositioning his snuggles, I kissed him, once, twice, three times. I smiled, thinking that I still get to decide about some of them, and when he's sleeping, I steal all the kisses I want from the top of his head.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Looking forward

I'm not especially good at things like "setting goals." In fact, I rather bristle at the idea of them. It's not that I don't like to get things done, because I do -- but more often than not, I feel that all I'm doing is setting myself up for failure. Perhaps I'm good at the goal, and not so good at the follow-through, the steps that support the goal.

Or maybe I need to be gentler with myself and more realistic in my goal-setting.

Ash Wednesday I thought, "I should blog again. Maybe that's what I'll do for Lent. I'll write every day. That would be good. It would re-establish the habit." And then Thursday came and went without a word being set down upon the blog. I also thought things like, "Maybe I should use Lent as a time to re-discover my passions about music ... cooking ... wine ... self-care..."

Or maybe I need to be a little less scattered with my goals... "Squirrel!"

There are resources that exist to help me with all of these things, including changing that inner monologue that "shoulds" all over the place... and instead gives me permission to accomplish things or even permission not to accomplish them. Because it's Friday and I'm writing, not because I should, or because it's my discipline, but because I want to, and simply because I am.

There are a lot of things I have to do, daily events that could just as easily be classified as chores, except I don't get an allowance for making my child breakfast or returning phone calls at the office (paycheck not withstanding). I also don't get a reward for the other things that help me to be whole -- meeting with my mentor, observing my sabbath, keeping my time holy, caring for myself -- and yet those are the pieces that often get lumped in with a litany of shoulds and a sense of failure because I don't.

I usually throw marketing materials and board reports into my recycling bin, simply because I don't really care. For some reason I opened one other other day and it was fascinating. It was more marketing that report, and every page had a goal under the headline, "Where we're going" followed by a paragraph or so of "How we're getting there."

So I've been thinking about that as I look forward. Where am I going? And how am I getting there?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Dirty Hands

It's Ash Wednesday. You know, that day when we get dirty on our foreheads and we pray the prayer of confession that acknowledges that we did all this by our fault, our own fault, our own most grievous fault. It's that line that gets me every year -- that causes me to pause in a way that most other parts of the liturgy don't. Maybe it's because I'm kneeling at that point, and all the words are in front of me so I don't have to be thinking ahead about worship and my role in leading it and whether or not I'm on the right page instead of leading the people astray down a confession or a proper preface that they're scrambling to find.

I made peace with the beautiful notion that each year I impose ashes upon people's foreheads who are quite close to returning to the dust, and also to those foreheads that are practically still wet from the waters I placed there during their baptisms. I'll get a little weepy still when I notice these beautiful people of God kneeling at the rail, and I bend over a bit to make that sign, that crumbly dusty sign of mortality upon their brows. But every year I make peace with it, usually over my morning cup of coffee, as I stand in the kitchen warming my hands around the mug, thinking about the day ahead of me. And so the tears that well up in my eyes are ones of deep love and care, not of trouble and distress.

Some years I preach and some years I preside. This is a presiding year -- a year when on Ash Wednesday I move from leading the confession to dipping my thumb into the small cup of ashes to standing behind the table to lift the bread and wine. We stop at the small table and swirl our hands in the soapy water there as a way station, a nod to cleanliness, and it strikes me that some year I'd like to put soap in the baptismal bowl and wash my hands there, for the whole congregation to see, instead of tucked in an alcove and using a dish towel.

But it never all comes off right away, those ashes mixed with a little bit of oil that we use. And so we move to the table lifting the bread with the remnants of ash worn into the grooves of my fingerprints and wedged beneath my nails. My hands are dirty on this day as I stand at the Lord's Table, and as I share the body of Christ with the faithful. The body of Christ, given for you.