Friday, February 27, 2009

How to build a castle with a fabulous eight year old.
First you need to make a floor plan. We checked out a small mountain of library books.
Next, Owen devoured these resources and began a series of diagrams, drawings and floor plans.

Next, make a model out of clay(well Mom didn't have clay, but I do know how to make a mean play-dough, so that is what we did). Owen began sculpting immediately.Bodhi, was equally inspired (or he just wanted to be like Owen) and began, squeezing, poking, cutting and eating the playdough with a wild abandon.
The castle complete,the next step - paint it. A little wash of food coloring can work wonders, particularly with motes and the like...Next, draw some characters and have mom make a back drop.
These fabulous creations prompted a fabulous story telling/book session (which is in production now).The final step -CLEAN UP of course and there is no one more excited by this than Bodhi.Stay tuned for a link to the upcoming book.

trip to the zoo with a two

A trip to the zoo is so much fun with a two, if you have never had the pleasure of doing it than borrow a willing toddler (with parental permission) and head out to your nearest animal park. The key to having fun with a toddler is follow, follow, follow! All too often I see parents and caregivers rushing children on to the next animal, "Come on honey, it's time to see the zebra. Hurry along", in some frantic pursuit for more. Why? Who needs to see all the animals in one day? Bodhi will occasionally spend two hours visiting three animals. We always begin with the lion. Bodhi becomes stock-still staring at his regal friend and peppering his observation with "OOOOOH, OOOOOOH, look at that Mommy", in response to something unexpected.Next, our beloved elephants, with faces lined by wisdom and a movement that suggests a "no hurry" attitude that appeals to the toddler and busy mother, both.
Finally, we wind our way to the penguins. This is generally a 45 minute visit. Bodhi watches, laughing wildly, as the tentative swimmers line the rock lip overlooking the water. They bob and lean, they rock and suggest an impending leap, then lean back again and preen. Bodhi loves this, almost as much as the wild freedom of a swimming penguin. On our way out, we may glimpse an animal to explore another day.On the way home, we both feel so happy inside, so peaceful... like we made a few good friends and weren't in any rush to do so.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

WOW!!!! Shane and I went to see the off beat comedy, Love Song, performed by the Paragon Theater Troupe, and WOW! If you live near the Denver area, I highly recommend going to see this one. The intimate setting coupled with stellar performances and a fabulous script left me laughing and crying, sometimes simultaneously. I won't spoil it for anyone lucky enough to get to see it. Let me just say that the theme of opening was quite timely. We all hoard and closet our feelings to one degree or another in the hopes of avoiding pain, but in the end we avoid life... how much better to embrace the unpredictability of our feelings and step into the sticky beautiful messy existence that is our own unfolding.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Life is in the parenthesis, in the comma, in the spaces and in the pause.
I have been thinking a lot lately about life in general which of course leads to a contemplation of life in specific, namely mine. I used to approach myself with Jesuit tenacity and finatical austerity. I was certain that I could mold this thing, this life, this "Angelina" into something valid, something purposeful, perhaps even exemplary. I meditated and cajoled, I coaxed and cursed, I exercised and hiked, I did yoga and ate vegetarian, I went to workshops, I read and read and read and then tried to understand it all.
Then I became a mom.
Let's face it, who has the time to examine life with a fine tooth comb once you have exchanged sleep for diaper duty/food preparing/story telling/child tending marathons. I went through an identity crisis with my first son. Wondering, "who am I now?", now that the backdrop of my life is no longer punctuated by long vistas of reflection and wide expanses of self absorption. "Who am I?" and "what?" and "where?". Over the following years I began to find myself in the spaces between the actions. A walk in the park holding a small hand, a spontaneously composed lullaby, a good night kiss, a candlelit supper, a poopy mess, a homework session, a trip to the grocers. These mundane moments ARE our lives and the question isn't how do we rise to meet them but how do we OPEN to greet them. This is where meaning is found and this is where we catch gossamer glimpses of ourselves. As a teacher of young children, one of my jobs is to act as a memory keeper. Children are creatures of the NOW, hurrying from one experience to the next with evident disregard for the one that preceded it. We can deepen their experience by elongating the pauses, asking questions instead of providing answers, documenting the journey so they can remember and by getting out of the way of the process. We adults are not so different. We are rushing through the moments of our lives for altogether different reasons, but rushing just the same. Writing these vignettes is a way for me to prolong the pauses, to extend the in-breath, to enjoy a comma. Writing has become a way of widening those gaps, to savor them, share them, and reflect on them. Thus the in-take of breath in a long distracted day, becomes a story and in that story I glimpse Me, the point where I interface with the world. Not the busy being me, but the quiet residing me, beckoning toward wholeness, toward openness, into LIFE.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Of course, following the last post, I would be remiss if I didn't tell you, dear reader, that I haven't grown up all together. I painted a blue butterfly on my throat/thyroid and some wings over my forehead hoping for flight.
Boyhood... so beautiful, so precious, so transient. I read a poem recently by Billy Collins that encapsulates the importance of respecting and protecting the magic of childhood. I will share it with you at the end of this post, but let me first tell you how the day began. I have been a bear, a growling, grumpy pain in the backside mama-bear and there is no way around it. I could blame it on my illnesses but that would be a cop out, I could say that I am overwhelmed by the busy-ness of my life but that would be a whine session, so I will just say I have been moody...PERIOD. This morning I stood folding the six loads of clean laundry on the table (which I ignored yesterday) and asked to be left alone. Owen was a bit hurt and sequestered himself in his room, when he emerged he announced, "I am the pink panther today". Looking at him, my heart melted and swooned, while guilt over my scowling demeanor tried to chase me into a corner, I just stopped and looked at the magic and mystery of my son. He asked for a mustache and I offered the scarf and glasses and the result is brilliant. (Of course Bodhi is quick to jump on the drama train and quickly found a hat and said,"Mama paint Bodhi"... the resulting cowboy is SO Bodhi.)

Owen is not one to dress up when nobody is looking, nope that is definately not his style, and so the Three Amigos, are off for a day in the city... museum hopping and eating out.

And I am left contemplating the beauty of my kids and the strange affliction of adulthood.

Click here to read the promised poem

Saturday, February 7, 2009

botanicals in winter

When I am feeling unbearably blue about the cold days of winter I pack up one or both of the boys and head off to the Denver Botanical Gardens. There is a marvelous indoor arboretum that smells of Hawaii and flowers and distant places. I wander amidst the ripening foliage, imagining a forest or a jungle, imagining sunny skies and languid days, until I am full again and then I step out into the cool-dry Colorado day, refreshed.
We then begin the game of "beauty where you find it". A game I have played since I was a small girl and one that my boys take equal pleasure. The rules are simple and the world is the playground. Simply wander through your day and find reasons to take your breath away. They are everywhere. Here are a few that Bodhi and I discovered in the Botanical Gardens.The immeasurable beauty of a child is always an easy place to begin looking. Being a mother is a rare combination of poet, artist, teacher, chef and 24 hour maid, but there are ALWAYS moments of pure bliss that keep the singing soul in pitch.I have no idea what this plant is, because I didn't read the little metal label preferring instead to imagine myself an explorer in the wild jungles of some imagined place, discovering this rare and royal species for the very first time.This beatiful staghorn plant was vibrating with sunlight. Bodhi and I stared for sometime, watching the sunlight and mist dancing amidst the leaves.
The upward icicle was such a marvelous find, Bodhi watched the slowly dripping faucet with rapt attention... until the sound of tractors caught his attention. The gardens are under construction and most of the trails are temporarily closed. Undaunted Bodhi ran hell-mell past the caution strips toward the nearest yellow land mover, with me coming behind with admonitions.Fortunately, he was befriended by a kind worker-bee who picked him up and settled him into a tractor-truck seat. A fact that he will tell any friend or stranger within thirty seconds of conversation.Finally, near the exit, we discovered these beauties amidst snow and winter. I wonder why these flowers get such a bad rap. I would think being called a pansy would be a compliment, they are hardy, delicately beautiful and as resilient as any flower I know of. While Bodhi and I stared on, I began to feel that if I were a flower I would be a pansy. When I was young I imagined myself a sunflower, turning ever toward the light and then as a starburst lily, blooming with exotic abandon, but now I think I am a pansy. Blooming in spite of myself...

Friday, February 6, 2009

My Grande' Goes A-Walkin'

My Grande goes a walking,

Winding down the street

Pushing someone’s stroller,

Sticky donuts in the seat.


My Grande goes a walking

Over hill and dale,

Holding little hands in hers,

Looking for a sale.


My Grande goes a walking

Miles in a day,

With bags of eggs, toast and ham,

And please is all we say.


My Grande goes a walking,

Passed the squealing lanes

Glasses thick and eyes grow dim,

Walking with a cane.


My Grande goes a walking

Not as far today,

Eyes too cloudy barely see

Near the house she stays.


My Grande walks no more

Down the winding street,

She watches Lawrence Welk instead

Of being carried by her feet.


Oh if I could make her breakfast, oh if I could hold her hand,

Oh if I could push her stroller,

Whisper softly and understand.


I’ll lend to her my good eyes to see with,

I’ll lend to her my strong legs to walk,


And when her body no longer tarries on the winding trails of Earth

I will go a walking for her,

Laugh and giggle on the way.


Holding onto little hands,

I’ll remember Grande’s own

That taught my feet to walk this way

And tarry not till they find home.


I love you my Grande-Cia, thank you for all the giving you have blessed me with in a lifetime, I love you and love you and love you and wish you a safe and speedy passage. We will play again next time we go a-walkin'.

Monday, February 2, 2009

so what have we been up to?

Well the first thing occupying our time and energy is Maia,
our puppy. She is an absolute sweetheart and a total pain in the arse.
We have all spent an inordinate amount of time and energy scooping pet excrement. To which Owen can often be overheard saying, "Lay off the chow Maia", when he is not dry heaving.
When not playing and rolicking in the back yard, dry heaving and hollering at the dog, Owen can be found curled up in his favorite spot on pop.
Shane enjoys it in equal measure, although trying to squeeze in a few pages of Larry McMurtry's book is never an easy task. Bodhi has been playing with typical abandon:running, sliding and enjoying the forty degree weather we've been having.
And me, I've been pursuing health with a vengeance. Here you see a delicious lunch I made:
Steamed kale, topped with cucumbers, red peppers and both sundried and fresh tomatoes. It was delicious.
Until next time... when I might actually WRITE something of merit.
Much love and blessings,
Angelina