The Week in Moments: Spring Break

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Last week the kids were off for Spring Break. We spent half the week at home and half the week at my parents' house in Encinitas. (And my Nana's Del Mar garden wonderland. Linking to all posts by/about Nana in three... two... one, zero, etchere's a guest post Nana wrote once ...) Last Sunday, we surprised the kids with a bounce house just because and it was one of THE greatest ideas I have ever had in my life. (We are going to make this "surprise! there's a bounce house in the front yard!" a thing in our house, we've decided. Because this is the stuff memories are made of and sometimes, you just have to jump jump for your love, jump in...)

Other week highlights include watching butterflies mate (heyyaaaa!) at The Natural History Museum/forgetting to bring a change of clothes/forgetting that there was a water feature/driving home with naked children, visiting Quail Gardens San Diego Botanic Gardens and forgetting ONCE AGAIN to bring a change of clothes, beach days, finding a perfectly symmetrical heart-shaped kelp float that seems to be a genetic anomaly and felt like one of those magical heart-shaped signs... of what, I don't know, but even Fable agreed.

"This is an amazing sign, Mama!" she said.

"Right!?? I was thinking the same thing!"

All these years of being my daughter are starting to rub off on her. Also, Yoga. (Fable is taking Yoga after school and it has changed her life. And mine because I was never a Yoga person but now that Fable is so into it, I have become her Yoga student and am learning all sorts of amazing things about mindful eating and peaceful warrior...ness.)

Namaste.

As for Archer, I bought him Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone on Tuesday and by Thursday morning he was on book two.

He had no intention of reading them because everyone else is reading them and then, last night he turned to Hal and said, "These are the greatest books of all time."

My parents have a pool and kindly heated it for the kids so they could swim. Bo is literally diving off the sides into the deep end and giving us all a heart attack even though she has her trusty Puddle Jumper floatation device strapped to her everywhere. Meanwhile, Revi refuses to go anywhere near the pool but will happily float around in her fishy raft in the jacuzzi, so long as someone is very very close to her.

We managed to survive our first candy-free Easter. Mostly everyone ate eggs and my Nana's French Toast. And bacon much to my chagrin. Bo called Bacon "meat chips" and asked for "ten more, please" after trying one when I wasn't looking.

And then I sobbed in the corner and my Nana was like, "but they come from happy pigs! Sustainably raised!"

"MEAT CHIPS, MAMA! TRY IT!"

Anyway. We had a really lovely week. Lots of adventures and sandy scalps, skipped naps and skinned knees.

These photos were taken from the other side of this post. Totally worth the unpleasant moments because, man, is there ever some beauty up in this piece. Post-it notes, abound.
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 via Pinterest

I don't know if you caught Morgan's Marijuana post a few weeks back but if you have not, I highly recommend you hop over to her site today and check it out.

I mean, hasheesh louieesh. There are more pot dispensaries in my neighborhood than there are restaurants AKA everyone is doing it. And yet... shhhhhh.... don't you dare tell a soul that I'm am a medical marijuana patient. Meanwhile "xanax" and "valium" are name-dropped in professional bios like badges of honor while WEED remains a four-letter word. Even when it's being legally consumed, prescribed and purchased. How is this so?

In Morgan's words:

Why do we have to create parenting identities out of our vices anyway? Wine-swilling Mom. Cursing Mom. Pill-popping Mom. Is being a parent so terribly uncool that we must compensate by showing the world how hard we can party regardless of who is under our supervision?


The stigma is a real problem for many reasons and Morgan breaks it down in her post:


We have so far to go in this country with just the simple stigma of Marijuana as street drug rather than beneficial natural medicine which as an added bonus can also be made in to useful cloth, paper, oil, and is easily renewable. We stand by as children have life-threatening seizures and give them drugs so strong they risk shutting down their brain stem when just a few drops of CBD extract (a non psychoactive element in marijuana — meaning it doesn’t make you feel “stoned”) can give them something closer to a normal life than many of their families have ever dreamed. We watch as pregnant women lose babies and risk death from illnesses like hyperemesis gravidarum while science has shown time and time again that marijuana could have wildly positive effects on morning sickness of all severities with no negative effects on the unborn child. Instead, we continue a manufactured war on a valuable renewable resource that’s been portrayed by the US Government as a class I drug while they are simultaneously funding studies that determine that marijuana has medical value....

(As a parent, I would far rather my kids use cannabis for their anxiety than pop a xanax and many of my friends and family members regularly use LEGALLY, thanks to California law, and are happier and healthier because of it.)

If we’re going to have a conversation about pot, medicinal or otherwise, I think it needs to start with the stigma even those of us who support it and benefit from its medicinal properties have trouble shaking. For me that starts with the decision that there doesn’t need to big a big secret or a big confession. I’m a Mom. I’m a card carrying medical marijuana patient. Those are just two of about a million things about me.

A (to the) men. (Read her whole essay, here.)


P.S. The following song has little to do with Morgan's post but it's been on heavy rotation in our house as of late and the band is called The War on Drugs so... it... felt... somewhat... apropos.





201. Red Eyes by: The War on Drugs 

P.P.S. My mom just sent me this essay by Carl Sagan via this post when I sent her a link to Morgan's. Worth a read as well. 

Sagan ultimately concluded that it was easy to use marijuana in moderation. For that reason he wrote that "the illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world."

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The Morning After

My alarm is the sound of a Taboo Game button which I must have accidentally packed in last night's hurry to get out my parents' door and into the car, onto the road where we would move slowwwwly up the 5, bumper to bumper, The Sound of Music soundtrack on repeat.

How do you solve a problem like Easter Sunday night after Spring Break traffffffiiiiiccccc. How do you find a word that means, Exhausted beyond measurrrreeee...

We got home just before midnight. Three of the four kids transferred into their beds. (There's always one who does not. It's like clockwork. While being transferred from carseat to bed, one child will fall completely apart.) And so, for 45 minutes, Bo cried (wailed) and "shhhhh... it's okay, you're home now" as I:

- Separated the dirty clothes from the clean.

- Spilled pockets of sand in the bed on accident.

-Hung creased dresses on hangers in the pitch darkness while singing "Let it Go" for the tenth time because that is the song that was requested.

And finally:

- Listened to her breath become heavy.

- Recognized she was finally asleep.

- Carefully lifted her out of our bed and into hers.

- High-fived Hal for a successful transfer mission.

"Nice work team, goodnight."

***

That was last night, relatively painless in comparison to this morning with this goddamn Taboo button that is killing me slowly. Archer's awake but barely. His shirt is on inside out and backwards and he becomes furious with me when I mention that, well, "your shirt is... it's cool if you want it to look like that but you may want to..."

He storms off toward the bathroom, slamming the door. 

Meanwhile, Fable is still asleep even though I've pulled every cover off of her bed, sat her up against the wall and attempted to help pull her arms out of her pajama sleeves. And Bo is pressing the Taboo button like it's the funniest thing ever.

"Good morning, kids" she says as Tamara pushes open the front door. Beep beep beeeeeeeeep.

And now Revi is screaming to be held. She was incredibly clingy all week and now, when I try to pass her over to Tamara she screams for me.

Mama only this morning.

And the taboo button goes right on beeping and somehow Archer's folder got stuck in his backpack zipper and ripped in half and it needs to be repaired and a long lost piece of homework that has not been finished emerges and "Mom? Have you seen my script?" and Fable finally wanders out of her room half-dressed and in desperate need of the rainbow sock with the hearts on it and MOM, THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS A SOCK MONSTER, STOP SAYING THAT ALL THE TIME! and Revi will not be put down and now she is screaming because she wants toast but the toast I just made her is all wrong because what she really wants is COLD TOAST NO HOT TOAST NO COLD TOAST NO HOT TOAST and I'm trying to Keep Calm and Tape Archer's Folder Back Together.

As Bo holds down the Taboo button.

And Fable needs toilet paper.

And Revi throws the toast on the ground.

And Zadie eats the toast because she's a dog.

And Revi decides the now-eaten toast is the only thing in the world she has ever wanted.

And I am suddenly in desperate need of a paper bag to breathe into and Revi, can I please put you down for two seconds so I can pee? 

No!

Mom, where's my script?

Mom, where's my sock?

Don't put me down! Don't put me down, mama!

Can you braid my hair?

Where's my water bottle?

ZADIE IS EATING MY TOAST NOO!!!!

BEEP BEEP BEEP.

"TURN OFF THAT FUCKING TABOO BUZZER!" I finally say because, seriously with that thing, what the fucking fuck.

And then, Fable appears.

She has found the sock.

The toilet paper, too. (It was on the toilet where it always is.)

And as I'm taping Archer's folder back together with Bo attached to my leg (sobbing because I have taken away her TABOO buzzer) and Revi in my arms screaming about needing a band-aid for the boo-boo she got yesterday (the toast incident was so five seconds ago), Fable presses a post-it note to my chest and walks away.

The note shows two girls high-fiving each other and it says, "YOU ROCK" in all caps and in the middle of the beeping and the crying and door-slamming and cold hot cold hot toast, and life and life and life, I have found the paper bag I've been needing to breathe into since 6:36 this morning.

And it's a neon yellow post-it.


***

The kids are ten minutes late to school. Usually this concerns me, but today I'm amazed (impressed) we made it to school at all. We're all exhausted with hair askew and swollen eyes when I park the car and fish the kids out of the backseat.

"I know, I know. Me, too. I know."

I fill out their tardy slips and hug them both goodbye, but before we go our separate ways, we bring it in for a high (low) five.

Some mornings, when survived, deserve to be celebrated. Even if just for a moment. 
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Beautiful Blogging: Christina Rosalie

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Christina has always been one of my favorite online authors. Her words as well as her photos sing and dance and tenderize and DID I JUST HOLD MY BREATH THROUGH THAT ENTIRE POST? Yes. I don't think I blinked, either. 

The very best writers do not write because they want to tell stories but because they have to. It is a daily requirement. Like going to the bathroom and blowing your nose when it's full of... yeah. Because when you HAVE to write, it shows. Even if you don't want to, necessarily. (Some of the best writing happens when we don't want to write. Some of the best parenting happens when we don't want to parent and some of the best _____ happens when we don't want to ____.)

"Do what you HAVE to do," I tell my kids. "Even if sometimes you don't want to."

FashionPassion before function.

This community was built on that idea. Remember? Before there were ad banners and site meters and SEO and link-bait and self-promoting fan pages, we were all just writing because it was the only way we knew how to listen to each other and hear ourselves.

Christina is one of the first blogs I read back in 2005, and her voice has always been pulpy with wisdom and hope. (Years ago, when friends would ask who to read online, I would would first send them links to Christina and Kate, both of whom pushed me to write hearter. They still do.)

And so. Into the winter we go...
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The winter stayed and stayed. Snow came, then fell again with a vengeance, white, whiter, small hills gathering curbside. Softer snow layered with frozen rain and sleet. Our own glacial record, keeping the things we lost: A single mitten, pocket change, our sense of permanence, the feeling of home. It was the coldest year on record. Biting. Sharp. I spent from November until April in Sorrel boots; wore my grey woolen beanie hat indoors; stopped smiling at strangers (not for lack of interest but because it required too much exposure of cheek and neck). The days grew longer, but the cold lasted. And along with it, a growing, restlessness, a gradual anxiety; a realization that this, here, might not be enough anymore for many reasons. Some more complicated than others. The least of them being the weather, but the most acceptable to share about here.

In retrospect the universe was probably conspiring. In the moment it felt like everything skittered right up against the edge. Things happened slowly, then all of a sudden. It felt like it feels when you almost fall on black ice, but catch yourself just before and walk away, your heart still beating hard.


Everywhere else spring arrived. I watched on Instagram. People had cherry blossoms, camellias, daffodils by the arm-full. Here, it was snow or days of spitting sleet. Temperatures in the low teens. Hunched shoulders. Worry. The feeling of having outgrown our circumference. Uneven footing. A flirtation with change. The idea of moving West. An inkling. A passing remark, here. A half finished sentence there. What-ifs showing up in my morning pages; the words “spend more time on the Pacific” in my 37 before 37 list; and then we started looking in earnest. Then we flew out, fell in love with the city of roses and bridges, saw friends, ate so much good food, interviewed many places, and T landed his dream job.


Or something. Something like that. Sort of. Minus the hundred thousand anxious moments. Minus all the things beyond our control. Minus the anxiousness stitched together to make days, and the logistical conversations we had over and over again on repeat... 


Read more, here. 
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Here are a few more of Christina's words from a post she wrote in January which took my breath away. Of course. Always and forever. 

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...The boys want to poke their booted toes in; I imagine hypothermia. My voice snaps fiercely in the cold air. They look surprised. And when we come close to the shore, they walk along the lake’s broken lip where the cattails rattle, and as the ice cracks and bows under their weight, they laugh with glee and stamp harder. I bark warnings, imagining them sinking under.

So here I am, learning to exist at the edge of the unknown, where my fears rise up again and again. I am afraid what I can’t control, of the things I do not know, of outcomes that aren’t certain, of edges I don’t know how to trust.

It takes a long time for me to realize why I am here, skating on dark ice; how these moments are exactly the metaphor I need.

My breath catches. I release it.

Out there, on the wide open of the icy lake the fishermen silently sit on over-turnned buckets, not moving at all.

Their stillness is a kind of knowing I must learn. Their patience quiet and long.

Wearing thick parkas with fur close to their cheeks, they watch the small hole at their feet for signs of life. Sometimes there is a flicker. Once, twice, they pull in a fish. But the point isn’t that quick action; that flick of wrist and tug of line. Waiting is. Waiting, until even that ceases to be the point, and they simply are. Being. Hearts beating a steady thunder under layers; breath gathering in the stillness above them, signaling a silent gracious prayer: to be alive. To be alive.

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I love her.

I love her light. And her truth. The dance she does with her words, be it waltz or running man. Thanks for sharing your gifts, sister friend.

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It was Revi. In the Ergobaby 360. At Kidspace. #whoareyouwearing

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This post is the book-end of my three month #whoareyouwearing sponsored partnership with Ergobaby which is the most incredible company to work with. I just have to say a few words about them, specifically Christina Soletti, who is one of my closest friends these days and with whom I have had so much fun with during this series. (When I got the idea for it I texted her in all caps and was like LET'S DO A BABYWEARING STORY SERIES AND WE CAN CALL IT WHOAREYOUWEARING! GET IT? OMG I MADE A PUN I LOVE PUNS! And then Christina was like, "Cool! Let's do it!" And so we did.)

If it isn't obvious, I am a babywearing fan to the nth degree.  I am SO EXCITED for Ergobaby to welcome, today, their brand new and much anticipated carrier, the Four Position Ergobaby 360--a carrier that front-faces ergonomically so babes who want to front face can and still be comfortable. (ED: I was just told the 360 is already sold out on the Ergobaby site but is available to purchase, here.)

I was able to take the 360 for a spin a few weeks back when we took the kids to Kidspace (which I have NOT done a "Places to Go" post on but that is DEFINITELY on the list).  Revi doesn't usually ride on the front unless she's sleeping. (This is the only way to transfer her if she falls asleep in the car. Bo is non-transferable, meanwhile.) Revi only wanted to ride facing my "ta tummy" so that is what we did.
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I'm pleased to announce the next five #whoareyouwearing winners and look forward to reading our last week of #whoareyouwearing entries over the next few days. I have five more Ergobaby carriers to give away, which I'll elaborate on toward the end of this post. In the meantime, here are some of YOUR stories...

I didn't realize I picked two twin mamas until it came time to post this post and I wanted to emphasize what a game changer being able to wear my babies has been for the last two and a half years. I know I've written about this before but, really, my only piece of twin mama advice is to buy a carrier and wear a kid when you can. It is SO hard to get one on one time with your babies, especially if, like me, you weren't able to nurse them. Anyway, here are five mamas/babes who won ERGOS through our #whoareyouwearing contest. Thanks for letting me share your stories, ladies!

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Alex is our first baby, and since day one my husband and I have been carrying him everywhere. We were told that having a baby would slow us down, and it has, but it hasn’t. With Alex in the Ergo, every day has become more creative. Our visits to Colorado are usually a week of downhill skiing, but this year we spent the afternoons snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and hiking, and loved every minute of it! Back home in Pennsylvania, my husband rides the stationary bike with Alex in the Ergo, slowly rocking him to sleep ~ a pop’s creativity at its finest! Our little guy loves to be cuddled and carried, and we love to move. With a carrier it’s a match made in heaven. There's an update to our story... we sold our house and are moving to Colorado this summer. Oh, the time that Alex is going to spend in the carrier as we hike every new trail we find!

My sister, Sarah, and I recently started a blog called Live Seasoned. It's a nature-inspired lifestyle blog that focuses on the feelings and flavors of each season. 


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Picture of my husband and me wearing both babies at about 3 weeks old.

Once the twins arrived, babywearing became second nature. My husband and I learned about all the different types of wraps and slings and carriers. It's kept us sane, it's given us a chance to bond with each baby. It's been life saving! After our struggles breastfeeding and my decision to exclusively pump, I spend way too much time cleaning parts and bottles. I've learned to look forward to that time every evening when I can wear one of my babies and do the dishes. Looking down at their beautiful eyes reminds me why I work so hard to provide for them, even when I'm elbow deep in what feels like 2,000 bottle parts! We love babywearing and can't wait to see where it leads us next. 

I blog at hollyrusso.com


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Mary and Zinashi from Finding Magnolia ::  @marymuses
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My babywearing story begins with Zinashi. Though she wasn't a baby when she joined Jarod and me and magically transformed us from a couple to a family, I wore her as if she were. She had been carried on her Ethiopian mother's back for much of her childhood, and it was simply what she knew and what comforted her. At age three, she was tiny, and I could wear her for hours with ease. When nothing else worked to soothe her, I put her in the carrier on my back, and we walked. We walked every day that we were in Addis Ababa during her adoption process, and we walked nearly every day after we came back to the States. Our walks tapered off after awhile, and over time she grew so well that she wouldn't fit in the carrier anymore. I set it aside, knowing we'd have another little one join our family someday, and we would use it again. Now I use it for Elvie, and Zinashi uses a doll carrier for her stuffed animals and dolls. We are often both wearing someone. Zinashi tells me that her dolls and animals like it because they feel safe and loved. If that's not an endorsement for babywearing, well, I don't know what is.
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Mary & Elvie 

Read more about Mary, Zinashi and Elvie at Finding Magnolia. 

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Kate Sargent from @mammakittiwake
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I first got into babywearing when Cali was around a few weeks old. I got a simple carrier and thought it was the bees knees. I was keeping my babe close and it just felt natural. My lovely friend did tell me, however, that it wasn't the best for my back and for Cali's hips...so she kindly lent me her wrap and showed me the basics. So comfy and I loved Cali sleeping on me as soon as we set off anywhere... It really has been an amazing journey so far.  Every time I look down and see Cali staring back smiling, my heart melts!
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Sarah with daughter, Claire
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...and her twin sister, Etta

I have twin two-year-olds and am really not sure how we would have survived this far without babywearing. In the early days, our colicky twin was often only content when worn by one of her parents. These days she's a happy-go-lucky toddler, but she still adores being worn and will get excited if she sees we've got a carrier out, which is good news for me because I love the closeness and kisses I get when they're strapped on. Her twin sister was a chilled-out baby, but we love wearing her too, particularly because she has Spina Bifida, which makes it hard to just sling her on a hip like most people do with their toddlers-- she can't cling on with her legs to support any of her own weight, so using a carrier is the only way to tote her for extended periods of time. I really just don't know how we'd do it without baby wearing-- it's the best, both practically and from a snuggle-loving-standpoint. As they get older, I treasure each time I get to wear them, because I know it won't last forever. 

You can read more about Sarah and her family at http://erniebufflo.com.


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P.S.  Here's a lovely photo of Dani and River in the Ergobaby Wrap, which was not around when I had babies and I so wish it was because it's the coziest.
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Anyway. 

Hi. 

I could talk about carriers all day, especially as I am very much aware that this is the end of my babywearing career. (Although I did wear Fable on my back the other day so maybe not?) so I'm savoring these last few moments with Revi on my front or my back, sleeping, awake... Feeling her close to me is such a joy. Feeling all of them close is kind of my everything. 
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I have FIVE Ergobaby 360 carriers to give away! ONE here on GGC and four on Instagram. To win? Post your #whoareyouwearing babywearing story in the comments below AND/OR on Instagram. (If you post on Instagram, be sure to tag #whoareyouwearing and @ergobaby and/or @girlsgonechild.) I'll pick ALL WINNERS next THURSDAY, APRIL 24TH. 

Good luck to all and thanks to everyone who has joined the #whoareyouwearing party these last few months. It's been such a joy reading your stories and seeing your photos. So much love to all. 
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