Holiday Letter 2017

Since I spent the day at a coaching intensive, I had pretty much no brain power for a full entry.  Instead, I’m including my holiday letter for this year – it’s also a very summarized summary of the last year and a bit.

Dear Family and Friends,

It’s been awhile since I actually managed to send out holiday cards, and as there have been quite a few changes in my life since the last letter, I figured it was time to get it together.

First the biggest change: after 18 years in San Francisco, the kids and I moved to Fairfax, a small town in the North Bay.  Tom was moving to Marin to be with his girlfriend and her family, so I wanted to keep the kids close, but more – I was ready for some quieter living, with more green space and more freedom for the kids.  In April I found the perfect house, closed in May, and moved in August after doing a little work on the new house.

Tai and Miriam were sad to be leaving friends, and Tai was a little nervous about starting a new school – but the big back and front yards, and (even better) a room of their own, they were convinced.   They were happy to pick out a color for their room (Tai, blue; Miri, pink – to no one’s surprise). We’ve also discovered that there is more wildlife here in the ‘country’ – we regularly have deer browsing in our yard.  The mamas and fawns come in the morning and afternoon, while the bucks tend to come in the evening or after dark.  They all munch the apples and pears from our trees.  Fairfax is so much greener than the city.

The kiddos were also excited to discover that their new school, Manor Elementary, is directly across the street.  On nights they stay with me, they just walk across the street in the morning – no more frantic rushes through traffic with Mama dropping inappropriate f-bombs at other idiot drivers.  And Mama gets 10 more minutes of sleep in the morning.  Win-win!

Manor Elementary has been great for both of them.  Tai started fourth grade this year.  His teacher is very environmentally conscious – she runs the Green Team, where kids help with recycling/composting/cleaning up litter around school, they take care of the school garden, and do various earth-friendly activities.  Just this past week, Tai’s class wrote letters to the County Board of Supervisors, encouraging them to purchase a golf course and turn it into a park, as a creek running through is a habitat for Coho Salmon, who are endangered.  His teacher asked for volunteers to read a letter at the Supervisors’ meeting, and Tai volunteered.  He spoke in front of a room of at least a hundred people – and he was the youngest one there.  Afterword he told me he was so nervous he was shaking – but he did it anyway.  I am so proud of him – there have been too many times that I have let being afraid of something keep me from doing it.  One of my main goals as a parent is to help the kids do stuff even when it’s scary.  Tai is also rocking his math lessons – sometimes it’s all I can do to keep up!  He’s made several new friends, and enjoys biking around the neighborhood with them (well, and playing video games).  I wanted the kids to have more independence here – it’s working pretty well.  

Miriam is more ambivalent about school – at least during drop off.  But when I go to pick her up at the end of the day, she’s never ready to leave.  Her teacher has been teaching kindergarten for more than 15 years, and has two young boys of her own, so she’s seen it all.  She’s been very kind to Miriam, and to me, as we’ve made the transition to kindergarten.  Miriam’s made some good friends both in her class, and from older classes during the after-school program.  She also has more style in her pinky than I do in my entire body – she likes to dress up, and have all of her clothes matching. She is into art and craft projects, and we have fun making things together.

I’ve gone back to work, finally making use of my English degree as a Grant Writer.  I’ve been apprenticing for a couple of years now, writing grant proposals and reports for various nonprofits, usually those with a focus on the arts.  I’m really enjoying it, both helping the nonprofit organizations as well as telling stories.  I’m also working to start my own coaching business, providing transformational life coaching for women in spaces of transition.  I’m lucky enough to be able to work from home most of the time, which gives me the opportunity to be around for the kids when necessary.

We also have a new addition to the family – in the beginning of October we adopted a new pup. Tai was wishing for a dog who would play fetch and run around with him.  Foxy, while only 8 years old, never felt that she was a dog.  Playing fetch was not in her vocabulary. At 13, Sweet Potato might want to play fetch, but doesn’t really have the energy.  Enter Chocolate Chip (or, Chip, usually) who has energy in spades.  He came from Tijuana, where he was a street dog.  He’s a mutt, probably a terrier of some sort.  And he loves fetch.  And chase.  And zooming around the yard. And barking at the deer.  And chewing on absolutely everything.  And nibbling your hands.  And eating.  The puppy energy is a needed change in the house, though Foxy and Sweet Potato might disagree.  While Sweet Potato is mostly bemused by him, Foxy keeps him in line when he gets too boisterous, giving a show of teeth and growl and nip.  She’s firm with him, and he lets her be the boss.

I hope you are well, and that you have a happy and healthy 2018.

All of us – Miri, Me, Sweet Potato, Foxy, Tai, and Chip

 

Holidailies, again

I’ve been participating in holidailies for ?? some large number of years. (Brief summary for those who don’t know – holidailies is a group of old-school online journalers who commit to updating every day for a month, usually Dec 1 – Jan 1.)  For the last several years I’ve signed up, but only written an entry or two.  Fortunately, and unexpectedly, this year I’m feeling less like I’m drowning in depression and anxiety so I’m giving it a go again.

Today’s will be short, though.  I’m just back from a whirlwind trip with Lisa, down to LA to see Tim Minchin. We managed to fly in, visit Disneyland, eat a late lunch, see the show, go out to a late dinner, get up and get breakfast and back to the airport and home, all in just over 24 hours.  Then I had to catch up on some work, pick up the kiddos and have an evening together and now I’m sleepy.

It was a great trip.  I’d never been to Disney when it was decorated for Christmas – it was beautiful.  So many lights.  The castle was amazing – all of the icicle lights made me think of Elsa’s ice palace.  And needless to say, Tim was awesome. He’s doing some new songs, more music, less comedy.  He played several of my older favorites (“White Wine in the Sun”, “Drowned”, and “Seeing You”) as well as two new ones that I have fallen in love with, after hearing them only once, when Lisa and I saw him here in San Francisco last month.  All the feels with those songs.  I don’t know how he does it, have both funny and deeply touching in one song.

I’ll do a catch-up post soon.  Until then – have a photo of me, with my nephew Sam (who is 4 and absolutely adorable).

Me and Sam

Restless

I’m feeling that longing again, that restlessness that tends to bubble up, telling me that there’s something I’m meant to be doing with my life that I’m not.  I just am not sure what that is.  I’m stuck in a rut – making a living, but not making a life.  I feel like I’m spinning my wheels, and not getting traction.  I feel scattered, unfocused.

Part of it is working three jobs – and all spread out over the week.  I do grant writing on Mondays, Thursdays and every other Friday.  I do book-keeping on Tuesdays and the other Friday.  I also do cancer registry work on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Then there’s the household stuff, and the kids stuff, and the pets… So my writing has taken a back seat.  Or maybe a seat in the trunk.  Even in the evening, instead of writing I’m so brain dead that I’m plugged into the TV, or dozing off with the kids.

Part of it is that, three years out from the separation, I’m getting tired of living in this holding pattern.  I’m living in the same house, sleeping on the same side of the bed… I’m working, but doing jobs that engage my mind but not my heart… I’m not dating… it’s almost like Tom isn’t here, but I’m still going through the same motions.  Just by myself.

It’s time to start dreaming, and to see what I want to be when I grow up.  See who I want to be.

Striving for the Spirit

Day 3 of Holidailies – entry two.  Oops.  The hazards of putting the kids to bed when they go to sleep in my bed.  I lay down with them, just until they fall asleep… and then I wake up at 3 am, still in my jeans and with all the lights on downstairs.  And with my entry unwritten.  Fortunately for writing, they are with Tom tonight, so the only Sleep Rays I need to resist are those of the dogs.

Tonight I started working on making holiday cards.  I haven’t sent out a letter in at least three years.  Not since the separation.  I’m not sure if I’ll write a letter, but I am enjoying creating the cards.  I pulled out all of the supplies – the scrapbooking paper and stickers and inks and stamps, the markers and embossing powder, and the die cutter.  I spent a good couple of hours working on just one card.  And for those two hours I wasn’t overthinking things.  I wasn’t worrying.  I was just enjoying myself.  A small taste of the season, and maybe this is a way in.  One thing at a time.

This time of year has been hard for a while now.  I had some pretty fierce anxiety and depression in the weeks after Miriam was born.  It was this time of year three years ago when I finally hit the wall with my marriage.  Last year I got hit with a stomach flu that put my on my ass mentally as well as physically, and then I had to figure out how to do Christmas for the kids when I could barely keep from committing myself.

In between, though, from about February until November 8th, I was doing really well.  I’m not letting this pull me off course entirely.

That Time of Year

It’s not yet midnight, so it’s still December 1st, at least in California – the first day of Holidailies, a community of online journallers who solemnly swear we’ll update daily from today until January 1st. I’ve participated in this challenge since the beginning – lo those many years ago before Tumblr, before Live Journal, before it was called ‘blogging’.  But it’s been quite a while since I actually completed the challenge.  (And I recently discovered that I lost a bunch of old posts, as I’d let my webhosting account expire without realizing.)  New year, new leaf – a month early.

Maybe writing every day will get me back in the habit.  Maybe it will slow things down – because this year has flown by.  Miriam is going to be five in just 20 days.  Tai is going to be nine in February.  And somehow we are almost through 2016 when it seems like just yesterday that I was making New Year’s resolutions and getting excited to see Tim Minchin on the day before I turn 40.

Maybe writing every day will get things more clear in my head, and in my heart, because I’ve been in a dark space lately and I’m counting the days until the Solstice, when the darkness begins to retreat and the light returns.

img_9945 Because there are very few pictures of me and the kiddos (usually I’m the one behind the camera.  Or, technically, behind my phone) here’s one from months ago – at the Little League Night at a Giants game.

Mixed Bag

Thursdays are the busiest days at the church.  On Thursdays I put together the final drafts of the bulletins (which are the order of the service, the readings, the hymns, etc) and print them out – almost two hundred booklets.  I was cruising along this morning when I hit a snag.  For some reason, half of the bulletins would not print correctly.  First they had their first page (like the front cover of the booklet) upside down, while the rest of the pages were fine.  Then, they printed fine, but were bound on the right side rather than the left.  Why?  No idea.  I used the same templates as last week.  I didn’t change any settings on the documents or the printer.  I spent hours trying everything I could to figure it out – with no luck.  So I have to go back tomorrow and either get the printing done out-of-house and spend a couple of hours folding, or hang out while 100 bulletins print with the wrong side open.

To make this more fun – I am supposed to report to the Hall of Justice (maybe I’ll meet some superheros?) for Jury Duty at 8:45am.  I can barely get Tai to school by 8:45.  I have no idea how I’m going to get both kids dropped off, drive downtown, park and get into the Hall of Justice on time.  At least it’s criminal court – if I do get stuck on a jury, maybe it’ll be an interesting case.

Fortunately there were some good things today, too.  I decided to keep Sweet Potato.  She still wants to chase the cats, but I’m going to figure that out.  Other than that, she’s perfect for us.  She’s got more energy than Foxy (and she’s at least four years older than Foxy), she likes to play fetch (which makes the kids so happy), and she’s funny and loving and happy.  She’s even getting comfortable hanging out with Foxy and me at the church.  (Poor beastie – on Monday she spent most of the time sniffing around the room – then just standing there, rather than stretching out and relaxing.)

Tai has his therapy appointment on Thursdays, so I pick him up right as school ends and we spend the afternoon together.  I drive him across town, which is a nice time to chat together.  (And make fart jokes, of course.) I’ve also started taking a Zendoodle coloring book and some markers along and coloring while Tai is in his session.  It’s a quiet, calm time.  Not enough of those generally speaking.

Miriam was cracking me up tonight, too.  Sweet Potato has itchy skin, and I gave her a bath tonight.  Afterwards she was nibbling her feet, then whining a bit and Miriam said, “She misses her Faster Mom (read: Foster Mom).  But she doesn’t need to be sad – she’s not going back to her Faster Mom because she’s staying with us.”   Then, just before we were going up to get ready for bed, she went searching through the kitchen to find something for her “Nighttime beast” (read: feast).  Not sure where she got this idea, but she’s convinced that it’s important to bring food to bed for middle of the night eating.  I’m going to miss her creative words.

This may be speaking too soon – but she may be weaning.  She came home from her time back East and when she tried to nurse Monday night she said the “milkies taste weird. … but I like it.”  She was with Tom on Tuesday, then last night she said there wasn’t any milkie there when she tried to nurse.  Tonight she asked to nurse, but I reminded her that there wasn’t any milk last night.  So she said, “I’ll just hold the milkies.  Hold me in your circle and sing to me.”  I put my arms around her and sang our night-time medley (Bushel and a Peck, You are my sunshine, Twinkle twinkle, rock a bye baby, eensy weensy spider, rain rain go away, ABC’s, baa baa black sheep, row row row your boat, and London Bridge) and she was asleep before I finished.  I’m pretty sure this is the first night she hasn’t nursed at all when she’s falling asleep.  On the one hand, I’m going to like having my body be my own again… but on the other, I really love nursing, and this is probably my last nursing relationship.  I will miss this particular sweetness.

 

Sleepy beastie

Feels like winter

It’s December 1st, which means several things – 5 days until Hanukkah, 20 days until Miriam turns 4, 24 days until Christmas, and the first day of Holidailies, a community writing project where a bunch of writers commit to the attempt to post every day from today until January 1, 2016.  It’s been a couple of years since I’ve actually completed the challenge, but this year is going to be different. In the last few months I’m finally starting to feel like things are coming together.

A brief introduction for those who don’t ‘know’ me – and an update for people who do.

I’m 39, going to be 40 in February.  (Dad teased me about this on my last birthday “How does it feel to be one year away from 40?”  I said, “How does it feel to be the parent of someone one year away from 40?”  He laughed.  For all of our issues, we do share a sense of humor).  I’m a hippie, slightly crunchy mama to two kidlets – Tai (almost 8) and Miriam (almost 4).  Having kids was the best, hardest, most insane thing I’ve ever done.  And it made me start to grow up, finally.

After being with Tom for twenty years, married for nine years, we separated in April of last year.  It had been a long time coming; neither of us could fix what was wrong.  Then I came out as lesbian.  It gave us the push we needed, and even though it’s been a rough ride, I believe we are better for it.  He’s met someone, and they are creating their own family.  She’s good people, and has two kids of her own.  Fortunately they get along really well with Tai and Miriam.

I’m working again, after 8 years as a stay-at-home mom.  I’m Parish Administrator of a small Episcopal church, and I am also working with a freelance grant-writer, Barbara, assisting her and learning the trade.  Using my brain on a daily basis, for things other than worrying, makes for a happy.  I’m in the third draft of my novel – but I’m stalled at the moment.

Along with the kiddos, I’ve also got a Corgi/Sheltie mix (Foxy), two cats (Pip and Paws), and I’m seeing whether I can make a new dog (Sweet Potato) get along with the cats.  I’m well on my way to having a menagerie.

For the first time in more than a year, I feel like things are coming together for me.  I’m on the edge of something good.  Work is good, kids are (usually) good… maybe I’ll meet someone.  I think I’m ready for a new relationship.

I’m ready for some holiday spirit, too.  Decorating this weekend.  Gotta hold to the light in the darkness.

 

At the beach in April Here’s me and the kidlets having fun at the beach in April.