Category Archives: Life with Baby

Beating the Heat

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September is a playful month. It presumes to promise Fall-the cool, crispness of air, the fresh unfolding of a new school year. Rosh ha Shana being around the corner I am amped on this season and the sense of new beginnings held out like a crisp green apple dipped in honey. Except that for days now September has played me for a fool!

Today Ben and I grabbed baby Aaron and drove to San Diego. It’s become a little ritual for our anniversary. Go south and buy a special piece of art or pottery from an artists village in Balboa Park. But we were unprepared for the hundred degree weather and the dearth of shade. Our picnic melted and we hung out in the air conditioned art museums.

Still, art was found. We bought some small, incised cylindrical vases from a favorite potter named Doug Snyder. And I found fresh inspiration in a Russian born painter, Igor Koutsenko. But the best art was the conversation – with Ben as we drove, sharing our artistic goals for the coming year – and once home, with the baby. Ok, the baby doesn’t talk yet in the grown up sense, but he’s very conversational. He wanted to draw and make a tent out of a giant brainstorm page I made. So out come the crayons and in comes the fullness of fun. Leave it to the baby to help me get my art supplies out and begin to draw!

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Gnocchi and Valentines

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Valentines Day.  Most people take firm sides of either loving or hating this classic holiday.  I’m one who falls massively on the love side of the scale.  A whole day dedicated to expressing affection! What could be more ‘Becca-like?  As a kid I delighted in the endless pile of tiny envelopes you got to open, always hopeful for the ones containing a foil wrapped chocolate or powder coated message-candy.  And while I greatly admired my classmates who managed to make 31 handmade valentines, the store bought variety with Winnie the Pooh or Snoopy or Cinderella handing out hearts and balloons were just fine by me too.

This year I think my delight meter burst in the red over St. V’s day…not surprisingly the Bebe had some part to play.  But actually the most expansive part of this past Tuesday was that several people–old friends from college, my dear Mummy, gals from my Bible study group and my former boss–all made efforts to say hello and express love in some special way.  It was like a grown-up version of what I so enjoyed in elementary school: Valentines Day is for everybody, not just lovers.

Of course the romantic, make-sure-you-have-a-date pressure of Valentine’s Day can be a major drag.  When you are single, V-Day can feel like the day of dire desperation or sinking cynicism. One year I got so befuddled I actually tried to find an ex-boyfriend who had since moved to New York to pursue acting, and ended up leaving a needy-sounding message on the machine of some dude with the same name.  Yep, that was me.

What I decided to do this year was surprise my husband with a home-cooked dinner and an intriguingly romantic and creative atmosphere.  So I made meyer-lemon gnocchi (from scratch no less!) while baby sat in his bouncy seat wondering what I was up to.  And Ben surprised me with a hand made garland of origami hearts, each one containing a promised outing, adventure, or gift.   Smashing dahling!  This is a year to remember!

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Healing Hands

 

Jessica Day is a friend of mine who's got the healing touch

He touched their eyes and then He said, according to your faith be it done unto you. (Matthew 9:29)

I’ve been pondering the significance of touch lately.  On the natural plane, I’ve noticed that my son Aaron responds so well to massage as a pain relief method.  I got the idea from my childbirth preparation classes.  Jackie, the instructor, emphasized the importance of touch and/or massage from a loved one and I can say from experience that it really did help me manage the pain of labor.  Similarly, since Aaron has started teething, I find that sometimes the best remedy is distraction via massage on his legs, arms, or tummy.  I notice that he responds to the loving intent of this touch as well.  As if healing energy were indeed being transmitted.  As if the human touch was a form of prayer.

This made me think about Jesus, walking around in Judea back in the day.  Constantly reaching out and healing people with the laying on of hands.  All people: good men, bad men, rich men, poor men, women and children.

With the lens of being a new mom, I see Jesus’ compassion more viscerally.  He was getting His holy hands dirty, wiping away people’s pain.  He didn’t distance himself.  He came close.   He reached out and combined the Words from the Father’s heart with the flesh of His human hands.

Twice last week I received prayer and both times, it came with laying on of hands.  The warmth of human touch.  But there was something else as well.  Each time, the words spoken were healing even as the energy that flowed through the hands.   Each time I experienced the compassion of Christ shining through the eyes of His people as if He really were right there, guiding the time of prayer.  And each time I went away changed – perhaps not with the immediacy of a “miracle,”  but with the evidence of inner peace and courage within.  So if nothing else today I want to encourage everyone who prays to know that you are making a difference, for your relationship with God is shining through when you pray.  And your hands become holy hands of Love when you reach out to lift the burden of another and bring it to God.

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Love in the Afternoon

It rained yesterday.  A real rain.  Not the half-hearted drizzle Southern California sometimes mistakes for rain, but the rat-a-tap-tap pour down on your tin roof kind of rain.  By afternoon, it had cleared up enough to reveal a glorious sunset between the palm trees.  But still, the cozy feeling of a rainy day persisted.  And by afternoon, I was in love.

In love with the easy comfort of home.  In love with the cute little piles of debris: baby rattle here, pacifier there, fabulously unmade bed, Melita coffee filter with its fragrant grounds, stash of watercolors and pencils, left over butternut squash lasagna with its vibrant orange color.  In the middle of it all was my son, laying on a blanket on his tummy, propped up on his forearms.  He’s building up the strength to roll over soon – a milestone often reached at 3-4 months.  He looked so adorable, little tushie and little legs, struggling to keep his head and shoulders off the floor.  And when he started to tire from the exertion and cry, I picked him up and we danced, and danced.  On the rainy day, to the tune of flamenco guitar by Ottmar Liebert.

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Sle-e-ep in Heav-en-ly Peace

A week or so before Christmas I was pondering my purpose in life.  I was disappointed with the reality that no matter how hard I try to be efficient, I just can’t seem to get much done besides being Mamma.  Some days, just getting a load of laundry completely through, or getting the dishes from table to dishwasher feels heroic.  The interruptions of baby Aaron are frequent and imperative.  Not that I’m complaining.  Being a mother trumps any experience or achievement real or imagined in my life so far.  Just holding him is a sweet reward.  Yet I persist in wavering between pure surrender to the fleeting moments of motherhood and the voice of the self-critic that says I’m not doing enough to validate my freedom, my time, my education, etc. etc.

So, while nursing the wee babe I decided to journal.  I figured by asking the question: “what am I supposed to be doing with my time right now” the answer would manifest.  I wanted to search the Scriptures for answers, but my Bible is unwieldy.  Too big for balancing with the baby on my lap, especially when he’s focused on his all-important task of eating.  Meanwhile the good hormones released by breastfeeding had begun to work a marvelous calm in me.  When Aaron finished eating I decided to lay him down on my bed and sleep next to him for 15 minutes or so.  My face was right next to the baby, so we were looking eye to eye, so focused I could see my own reflection in the blue-black of his iris and pupil.

We both fought sleep in order to keep staring, but it was a losing battle.  Aaron succumbed first.  Sleep washed over him like a soft wave and I admired how his wide lids and long lashes are so perfectly formed.  Cheeks full and flushed with life.  Lips slightly open.  I could feel cool air on my face and looked up thinking it was the ceiling fan, but the fan was off.  It was the breath from baby’s nostrils.  And then he reached with his hand, still so hard for him to control, and it landed like a gentle smack across my nose.  Palm to Palm is holy palmer’s kiss (Romeo & Juliet, Act 1 scene 5).  Smack to the nose is baby Aaron’s kiss.

I got to thinking the intimacy between us as mother and son was so seasonally appropriate.  The image of Madonna and Child–an icon of Christmas–is kind of an ordinary event.  A portrait of a woman holding her child and contemplating the mystery and the miracle of his life.  For us as women it is also an expression of Emmanuel.  Just as the Spirit hovered over Mary, God-is-with-us, dignifying, sancifying and blessing our everyday acts of love toward our children and other family members.  Mary had prophesied over herself: “henceforth all generations shall call me blessed“; I believe she was also symbolically prophesying over all womankind.  We too are blessed to be agents of heavenly peace.   We carry this Peace when we welcome the love of God for us and within us, allowing that Love to spill over into the lives of the people around us.

Thank You Aaron, for being my son.  Thank You Jesus, for coming as a helpless baby.  Thank You Father, for sending Him to us in this way and affirming forever the dignity of every mother’s work.  Thank You for the blessing of this sacred time in my life, when I am called to contemplate the peaceful face of an infant and even to see through his tender eyes a new image of myself.  Thank You for this beautiful portion of Heavenly Peace.

 

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The Creative Everyday

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How do you nurture your inner-artist when your day is full of unglamorous tasks like diapering and laundry and scrubbing the kitchen sink?  One idea is to make your world (including your laundry room, kitchen, sleeping area, etc.) a place that inspires.

Here’s a few things I love:

  • A beautiful tin and the aromatic contents of Peet’s Winter Solstice Tea (available only this time of year)
  • Shadows cast by small bowls and bits of pottery on the tile
  • Original art by high school senior (at the time I bought it) Natasha Weir.  Hanging over the stove like a port hole on a ship
  • A painting of Crystal Cove on the kitchen wall I painted turquoise
  • A framed photograph of my German grandmother at 19
  • Whimsical clay cups Ben and I bought from an artist in San Diego
  • Radishes and chard sprouting from seed and beginning to look ready for harvest in the garden
  • Walking to the grocery store and nesting the purchases around Aaron in his stroller
  • Putting paint brushes in glass jars and storing them in the laundry room
  • The new bright blue label on Trader Joe’s plum tomatoes
  • Discovering a new way to make Mexican hot chocolate

I’d love to hear from you…where do you find the “creative” in your hum-drum life of everyday?

Natural Talent

talent  (ˈtælənt)— n
1. innate ability, aptitude, or faculty, esp when unspecified; above average ability: a talent for cooking ; a child with talent
2. a person or persons possessing such ability
3. any of various ancient units of weight and money
4. informal  members of the opposite sex collectively, esp those living in a particular place: the local talent
5. an obsolete word for inclination

[Old English talente,  from Latin talenta,  pl of talentum  sum of money, from Greek talanton  unit of money or weight; in Medieval Latin the sense was extended to ability through the influence of the parable of the talents (Matthew 25:14–30)]


There is a quality of egoless perfection in a person exercising their talent.  Egoless because they are so full of joy in doing what they were designed to do that there is very little self-consciousness or striving.   This is how I felt when I watched my beautiful sister-in-law Emilie help take care of my son Aaron.  She has rare talent for care-giving, whether it be of animals or of little people.  It’s as if she can sense what they need and patiently she responds to that need with beautiful skill.  A talent, I think, often overlooked in our society, but never more urgently needed.

I suppose most talents are visible early on in life.  Take Alexa Richter, for example.  She is 4 and a half years old, and already it is clear she has a keen sensitivity to infants.  She was so helpful with Aaron when she was visiting us for Thanksgiving, expressing both a capacity for learning about how to care for him, as well as great intuition about what he might need.  I look forward to seeing her talent come into full bloom as she grows up!

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Giving Thanks

This year I have so much to be grateful for, it is hard to know where to begin.  By far, the biggest blessing is our son Aaron.  As Ben and I look at him, we can’t believe we’ve been entrusted with something so pure.  It’s a sacred trust, according to my good friend Judith Montgomery.  The life-giving energy of a new baby is so profound, it reaches back into your past and changes the way you view the future.  I see my mother and father with a newfound gratitude, a sense of overwhelming love. It’s like this sweet grace poured out over all of our human shortcomings, because in spite of them, a new life has come forth, through us.

This year we celebrated with our dear friend Irena Polic, her adorable and rambunctious twin 4-year olds, my mom Bobbi, and my big brother Jesse. Irena lived with my family when she was a senior in high school (I was a freshman), and we’ve been crazy about her ever since.  She is Croatian, beautiful, brilliant and a fabulous example of a woman who balances career and motherhood.  It’s amazing to look at us, just teenagers when we first met, and here we are, both moms of sweet young children.

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This is Where I Write

This is where I write.

At a little wooden desk I found in one of the Laguna Beach alleyways (the jewel box town of Laguna is sometimes a treasure trove of promising castaways–whether in the miniature backstreets or at rummage sales on weekends).

You can see I’ve a little companion-in-arms: my newborn son Aaron.  He is being fussy at the moment so I’m holding him while I sit down at the computer.  It does make typing a bit more challenging, but Aaron is such a delight and I’m grateful I get to spend so much time with him.  Besides, I’ve always believed having kids and being a writer/artist is quite doable, you just have to bring your little ones along for the ride.