Archive | May, 2010

Day of Jubilee!

21 May

Yes, I know that the phrase “Day of Jubilee” actually means something (other than a day without my usual responsibilities), but just like I say “telemundo” when my telephone rings, I am using this phrase in the way that most immediately and satisfyingly suits my (considerable) fancy.  Deal with it!  (Better Off Ted?  Anyone?)

So, because I’m sure you’re dying to know – here’s what I did with my day (i.e. Hard-core freedom-porn for mothers of young children).

5:40 AM – I wake up on my own.  Now, this may seem unusually cruel, that I should awake so early if I don’t HAVE to – if nobody is screaming at me, BUT – consider this:  I have the whole day free and will not have to worry about doing a bunch of junk on no sleep.  I already feel luxuriated.  I lie in bed and wait for Ida to wake up.  I think about how this will make it that much more enjoyable to take a nap later.  Big plans, my friends.

6AM – Ida wakes up laughing and making her funny little sounds.  I nurse her and then Nathan, Ida, Maude and I get ready to go for a walk together – one of my very favorite things.  We get coffee, and walk around the Balmoral-Lakewood Historic District (or as I like to call it “house lust row”), stopping halfway to push Ida on the swings at the park.  Strangers may or may not admonish us with looks of dismay as we push our screaming (with delight) infant daughter higher and higher on the swings.  She’s a daredevil, this one.  We also stop and pick up scones from Taste of Heaven.

8 AM – I change into the clothes I laid out yesterday for the expressed purpose of lounging in bed all day and resume my post.  Nathan puts Ida down for a nap and makes me coffee and bacon (yes, I did eat a scone and bacon for breakfast this morning – fat with a side of fat and possibly some nitrates – what of it?).  I light some candles, and proceed to read a book, slurp coffee, and stuff my face with tasty, saturated-carbohydrate goodness for 3.5 hours.  I also put on a Lush Facemask – this elicits a look of concern from Ida.

11:30 – I nurse Ida and then promptly take a nap while watching TV on the interwebs.

1:30 – I wake up and eat some delicious leftover Mediterranean take out for lunch while surfing the interwebs for funnies.

2:30 – I nurse Ida and then head out on the mean streets of Andersonville for some latte/redeye Sudoku time.  I take a leisurely stroll down Clark and peruse my favorite antique/junk store (which has ridiculously tiny aisles making it impossible to enter with a stroller).  I read some more, write a little, and marvel at the fact that none of these people can tell I’m a mother (unless my wobbly middle is some kind of dead-giveaway?  Which, to be fair, could perhaps have something to do with the bacon/scone instincts that I act upon with alarming regularity – so I don’t think they can tell).  Those who know me well will understand how this little “fast one” I’m pulling on all of these jokers delights me.  Also, on a related theme, when the gal at Presence asks me if the earrings I buy are for anything special, I tell her that I’m putting together my burial outfit, just in case.

6:30 I nurse Ida, cuddle her sleepy little self and put her to bed.  I love the crap out of that kid.

7:30 I take a long bath and drink a miller high life while finishing the book I started this morning.

Lattes, Lies, Literature and Lounging – a perfect day for Liz.

Special thanks to my dear husband, partner, and conspirator Nathan, who is a super-duper listener and gave me exactly what I wanted, even though he has a big paper due, and lots of work to do.



21 May

Behold, whilst I am at work, I am accomplishing things!  And you thought I was just hanging out in my car, eating sandwiches and bad-mood-ed-ly using a breast pump under my trusty blue scarf (okay, well, all of those things are also happening – AND an aside?  Ladies?  If you’ve ever had to pump breast milk in your parked car, I salute you and apologise to you and hope that none of us has to do it again.  Cars?  So not designed with this fun activity in mind.  Show me a minivan with a compartment for my Medela and I will show you a swarm of working, nursing, mothers, wild with fistfuls of cash).

Wow, this took a totally different direction.  Moving on.

So, as I was saying, here are my students!  Dancing!  Just like I taught them to!  They were on Chicago’s WGN Midday News today, and let me tell you, they were more than a little nervous about their television debut.  I am so freaking proud of them that I can hardly stand it.

Click on this link and watch the magic!

AND (shameless promo) check out more info about Chicago Youth Dance – CPS’s truly fantastic dance program.

Mothers Day

11 May

I had a wonderful Mothers Day.  I guess I technically celebrated my first MD last year (Nate got me a gift cert for a massage, which I hoarded until 8.5 months gestation – a wise choice), but this year it felt like I was going pro.  I was really looking forward to it.  I wondered what Ida would get me…..

The day was jam-packed.  Ida was baptized at Berry, we had a little party at our place and had lots of family in town to celebrate with.  The baptism was so incredibly beautiful and I’m glad that I took a leap of faith and did it.  I was on the fence for a while – not really knowing how I felt about the whole “salvation from damnation” aspect (not good – I did not really think my tiny redheaded meatloaf was doomed until dunked – and also, I do not think anyone is doomed), but I felt really excited about a ritual that recognized Ida as part of our little community and commenced her journey of discovering the world.  I think this tension pretty much sums up my feelings about Christianity in general – I’m not on board with some of the cultural tenants of American Christianity (and as those professing them would say “Biblical Tenants” – potAYto, potAHto….), like, for instance, believing homosexuality to be an abomination, thinking that Buddhists are barking up the wrong tree, or giving two shits about whether or not folks have loving and respectful sex before they buy me and their other friends and relatives some chicken kiev. But at the same time, I love the community that this faith can inspire (don’t get me wrong, it can make some ugly stuff too).  Like lots of my evangelical baggage, these issues were neatly and peacefully addressed in a meeting with our church‘s wonderful shepherd, Pastor Sherrie.

Photo by the truly amazing Sarah Rhee (

You know those people who just seem to ooze calm, and love, and serenity?  That’s Pastor Sherrie.  Every week she stands up and delivers brave messages of inclusion and peacemaking and advocacy for the voiceless.  She is wholly herself in these talks – going about communicating in her own perfect way that conforms to none of the expectations of my idea of “pastor.”  She is not bossy, loud, or aggressive – always pushing us gently toward more love and acceptance.  I adore this woman with my whole heart and have a really hard time keeping it together when she says “everyone is welcome”.  In fact, the first time I came to Berry (after performing with think/dance collective in their basement), I bawled my eyes out when I heard the words “In the United Methodist Church we practice holy communion.  Everyone is welcome.”  And then she said…….. nothing.  That was a revolution to me.  In my experience, taking communion was always proceeded by lengthy explanations of who qualified – of who was committed enough – of who was NOT welcome.  Everyone is welcome – now THIS was a church I could get on board with.  In exploring Berry more, I discovered a community that is committed to fair trade, CSA, full participation by children (they are very much seen and heard and loved at Berry), the arts, GLBT rights and advocacy, feminism, and a slew of social justice clauses.  I’m pretty sure this is the place Glenn Beck had in mind when he made his insane comments a few weeks ago.  Don’t worry, we turned Pastor Sherrie in.

So anyway, at this meeting, Pastor Sherrie, Nathan and I talked about baptism.  We talked about welcoming Ida into our community, recognizing the light inside of her and sharing in a ritual that would celebrate the beginning of her journey of exploring the world.  I was nervous that there would be talk of hell and damnation (why?  Who knows.  I’m not sure I’ve ever really heard Pastor Sherrie talk about hell outside of the context of poverty or injustice) but of course, there wasn’t.  Ida grabbed at the hymnal pages, trying her best to rip them out and eat them.  She has a hunger for hymns, this one.  I felt so glad for a place where we could all be, and explore, and grow.  Berry is one of the main reasons that I can’t imagine living anywhere but Chicago.

Seriously, Sarah! How do you do it?! Everything looks so beautiful through your camera.

As always, at Ida’s baptism, the folks at Berry did not disappoint.  Pastor Sherrie is a genius of human kindness and finding the important stuff – she talked about the idea of a neighborhood, about taking care of each other, and about Ida flourishing however she will.  We sang “This Little Light Of Mine” and all lit candles from the big candle that Pastor Sherrie and Ida lit together after Ida was baptized – Ida’s candle.  The choir sang, and the band or miscellaneous instruments played in their wild and jubilant way.

I held my little light (Ida) and felt so glad for the millionth time that I had all of these beautiful people with me to help with the awesome responsibility of letting Ida shine.  Have you seen the kid smile?  I think she’s got the whole shining thing down…. She’s going to shine no matter how much I screw it up, I think.  Okay, mama moment, I’m done.  Pastor Sherrie walked Ida around the room to see everyone.  I watched the faces of all of these people adoring my daughter – glowing with gladness that she had come to be with them – and I felt like I might burst out of my skin with the fullness of it all.  Parents, you know what I’m talking about here, right?  Like, it’s one thing to love me – that’s great, but when you love my kid my loyalty to you – my love for you gets ferocious and strong.  I literally felt relief when the service was over – it was almost too much goodness to take.

Berry hearts Ida (Photo by Sarah Rhee)

So my first Pro Mothers Day was great.  Nathan got me a book I really wanted, I Don’t Care About Your Band,

My husband sure is dreamy. This book is right up my alley.

Aeropress coffee maker = AWESOME

an Aeropress coffee maker, and a day of my choosing to do whatever I want, during which he will make me coffee, breakfast and leave me alone to read in bed all day whilst taking care of our lovely daughter.  This combination was absolutely perfect and reminded me again why he’s such a great partner and co-parent.

Happy Mothers Day, Everybody.  I hope yours was grand.

Hummingbird/A Love Letter to the Mothers at Berry

10 May

I moved here and I had no idea why.  In the hindsight of these last two years – you are the ones who crop up everywhere – the most tenacious ones.  My guides.

I saw you.  Not like “I noticed you” – it was not casual.  I mean, I saw you in this room– all the time – all of my watchful energy pulled to your steady balance. I can see your hand on her/his back – this image is so clear to me.  You’re sitting about a foot behind them in the pew – they’re leaning forward with their armpits pinching the restraint – the pew in front.  Your elbow is resting on the pew behind and your hand is in the middle with your fingertips pointing to the right.  Your palm is open and touches both of their scapulas at once.

I saw you in this room.  In all of your ways – all of the very small things you were always humming with.  Your bodies moving with perfect economy always in these small tasks that you can’t even know now, they’re so inseparable from you – the way cells make a body.  Your children flowed – flowered right out of these economies.  The stream of your care like a fuse and their tiny shocks of hair at the end bursting into the space like fireworks.

I have so many questions for you.  Like, “how do you keep humming with all of these moves – all of the pickups of dropped things, finding of lost things, wiping, spooning, holding, whipping of hair – so quick! Into a neat little elastic, pulling up, tucking in, unwrapping, ENDLESS – how do you keep humming like this and still clearly sing your song?”

“How did you trust the long line of that fuse – your care?”  Because that fire – it smolders on the fuse – taking forever to make that burst of color – that firework.  Work.  So very much work.  Which sometimes – best ones – feels like steady, and consistent and purposeful and love, and fullest fullness, but other times feels like monotony, and numbness and an endless ebbing away.

I have watched you looking exhausted in a million different ways – have catalogued the differences between your tiredness that comes from stress, or sickness, or sleeplessness or loneliness.  But still there is a hum and that smoldering work burning along that fuse.  Braiding, and lighting and stoking in this sort-of wild and unimaginable sustenance I see you masterful – strong and flexible.

And the hum is steady and just right.  In the same way that our swaying from side to side is universal – Amy told me once – your hum is part of this larger, openly secret thing.  I saw it and it consumed me – first taking root in my mind where you were always laying hay – tending – and later in the form of Ida – my initiation, my amazing membership.

These doings, your being – the sum-hum of these million things was, is the holiest thing to me.  I still feel compelled, whenever we are together to say that I’m just so glad I get to be here looking at you. Every time, with brand-new excitement and discovery, I want to tell you that you are amazing and that I knew, from the moment I saw you doing this incredible work that your story was a big deal to me – that I loved you all of a sudden.  I know now – and it’s weird for me to make such a mystical statement – but I know it, so I’m going to.  I know now that I came to be here, to you, on purpose – that your lives were, in part, for me to witness and that the force of your love for your children drew me from Michigan to Chicago – pulling me with those thousand tiny, unknowable things.

And if I were being perfectly honest – which you really should in a love letter – I would raise my hand every week.  It would be a joy and a concern and one of those splatter-y, fruit-bursting-out-of-it’s-skin kind of things – and say the same thing over and over because it is always on my mind.  “I am so grateful for you.  I am so glad for the way that you share your children with me.”  And if I were being perfectly honest I would get crazy and be crying and shaking my head and trying to find bigger and bigger gestures to express just how intense this gratitude feels and I’d try and press my gratefulness into you – so you’d know, and feel as loved as you are.

I’m telling you this so that maybe you can think about yourself this way – who you are to me – when you feel invisible or when you feel like someone’s grubby little hands are extracting the last of your wits or will, or when any encouraging thing just feels like a platitude.  When you make a steely decision to laugh and play. When you just really want to eat a sandwich in the bathroom with the door closed – when the idea of that seems luxurious and not at all sad.

So all of this to say that I love you ferociously, and that to me, there is no ebbing away of you but only flourishing.  And that even though there are times when it feels like the end of everything, there are other times, like right now, when it feels like a holy gift to flex in these thousand moves and know that I’m humming too – to know that I’m part of this most amazing collection of women doing this most mysterious work.  I am so very glad that we are mothers here, together, right now.

Like all the best love letters, this one will just go hoarse and lose it’s voice, exhausted from trying so hard to say everything, of never being able to say it just right – to tell you how much, and how fully your life has inspired my own.

A Hummingbird.  A frantic pulsing that’s performed so expertly that it looks like stillness – like nothing.  Moving your whole being all the time until those movements disappear from view.  We say “oh look!  A hummingbird!  How nice!”  But we know, we see each other, and that is not nothing.

Recent Acquisitions

2 May

Nate and I were on a walk with Ida when I spotted a fabulous chest of drawers in the alley.  I’ve lived in Chicago for 2 years now, and have never taken part in the dumpster dive/alley – grab phenominon.  My moment was NOW!  I was excited!

Thinking logistically has never really been my strong point, so I told Nate I was pretty sure we could carry the dresser home.  It was only, like, a block away.  I thought it would be totally possible for me to push the stroller with one arm, and carry a chest of 8 drawers with the other.  Aparently, when I look in the mirror each morning, I see a shining beacon of physical fitness capable of incredible feats of strength and not a semi-comatose couch potato with a fanny pack (and then another fanny pack) worth of flab around the mid-section.  Well, at least I have a healthy (if not a little/lot dilusional) self image.

So when Nate got back from driving the block and a half to the alley, loading up the dresser and schleping it back to our place, here is what we found:

It was love at first sight when I saw this little number in the alley

Bonus contents! Some lovely prada body wash and lotion along with handmade birthday cards.

MORE bonus contents! Pacifiers! We opted not to use them...... But I felt a little sad tossing them in the trash.

Musical Stylings

2 May

We all know that Ida is musically gifted.  Given her obvious aptitude, Nathan decided it was time to include her in his compositional process.  Here is Ida, hard at work during a Logic session with her papa.  She may or may not be mugging for the camera throughout……

Delight and Constipation

1 May

My dear friend Megan has been taking care of Ida several afternoons a week whilst I teach the children to do the dancing.  This is a funny game they played one day.  Also, Ida is wearing a dress that I made out of a pillow case in this very short film.