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A Moment

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Life has been in full swing over the last 6 months. Elaine and I have had opposite schedules for the last few months so in case you haven’t noticed the blog has been put on the back burner.
A blog post is a blog post however I miss the time and creative process. Right now most of our updates are short and filled with photos… but it is still an update.
Here are some photos from last night after dinner. It was moment. A normal and routine time of our day, but so mundane that I decided to document it. Each stage goes incredibly fast and each phase means new moments.

Here you’ll see Mason was outside playing in the garden and Caleb cracking up with his baby giggles in the living room.

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Morning Play Time

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Elaine was out late last night so Mason and I had a play date this morning on the floor. He was in a great mood, at least for part of the two hours, so I decided to capture a few of our moments for the blog. The photos took place over a couple of minutes but they give you a snapshot of our morning together.

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Moments like these happen almost everyday and this was my opportunity to soak one in. It’s scary that they go so quickly. I was looking at one of our older posts and Mason was a baby-baby. Now he is a crawling, squirmy, toothy, food eating, iPhone jealous kid. Sometimes when it’s just the two of us I get so focused on what is happening next or counting down to when Elaine comes home or when we can go for a walk to get out of the house. Elaine does a great job of being present for Mason and herself and living in those moments. My goal is to be more present, more moment focused, and celebrate these morning play dates. They go quick too. Enjoy, Mark

Half Moon Bay

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Funny timing for this post, (which I wrote last Thursday and meant to post before the weekend!) because Friday, we actually headed back up to the bay area for another weekend workshop (this time for me!)

Mark posted before about our little getaway, but this was such a great trip that it deserves two posts, and more photos of course.

Sooooooo one lovely, albeit slightly rushed, Thursday morning, we headed up north in our shiny charcoal colored Corolla.  A quick stop at Trader Joe’s to stock up on some Vegan, Gluten-free, Soy-free, Sugar-free snackables and mini meals (no easy feat, even at a relatively health conscious store), in case restauranting was limited up there… and we were off!  Although Mason has developed a new immediate dislike for being restrained into a car seat, that I’m certain begin during this trip, he did pretty well on the four hour drive up to Santa Cruz.  This is where we stayed our first night, to break up the drive a bit.

Santa Cruz is a place that had instant ties into my heartstrings.  Not because I have any personal or emotional connection to it.  I think I’ve only been once before.  But the town has this wonderfully relaxed, slightly urban, salt streaked, bohemian flavor to it that just makes me feel at home.  It doesn’t hurt that the main drag near our hotel, Pacific Ave, was a lot like Santa Barbara’s State street, although somehow less pretentious. (Perhaps the lack of Juicy Couture’s and Coach stores)

Like Mark mentioned a couple weeks ago, Santa Cruz is also where we found Cafe Gratitude, a delicious vegan restaurant who’s menu was also half RAW.  Music to my restricted palate.  What an amazing treat to dine (for dinner and lunch the next day might I add) at a place where I could order almost anything off the menu! (There was a veggie burger on a whole wheat bun that was out of my gluten free league)  Even though I’m a huge fan of the comforting warmth of cooked food.  I ordered raw both times I was there!  I felt a little silly ordering with the names of their dishes… “I am hearty” and “I am elated”… which probably says more about me than I wish to dissect right now… so I just asked for the raw pizza one night, and the raw enchilada the next day.  YUM!  I ordered their cookbook off amazon within a week of returning home 😉

At the risk of this becoming a novel… the real purpose for the recap on this trip is this…

Once we got to Half Moon Bay, Mark had to go into the conference almost immediately, and spent long hours of the day there, sometimes through dinner.  Our hotel was gorgeous.  Like a studio apartment, with kitchenette, sitting area, fireplace and a small outside patio… right on the beach.  It was a fantastic, airy, fresh place to spend the days.  And the days alternated warm and sunny and cool and foggy.

There’s something about vacations that can reset your pace.  Even if they’re just a few days.  It’s the removal from the normal routine of life.  Distance from everyday crutches, positions, habits.  Although we brought a laptop with us, I felt silly using it when the beach was right outside our door.  So we took long walks at sunset, or in the morning mist, the baby and I, while Mark was in the conference.  We played, I flew Mason around the room on his stomach, sang to him as we danced around on the patio, set him on his stomach and he stuffed my books into his mouth.  And when he napped… I paused.  And considered what I wanted to do next with my time.  I had brought some knitting, a couple books, and a journal.  I ate when I felt hungry, I made some tea when I wanted comfort, I sat in front of the fireplace when I wanted to still my mind.  I had an informational book about baby’s brains for when I felt like learning, and I had a novel for when I felt like being told a story.  And I even watched a couple tv shows, but only when I checked in with myself first.  I did so little out of reflex, or habit… that I realized how often my days just disappear, leaving me frustrated by the end of them, because the hours were filled with activity, but I did very little that I actually felt was nourishing, or productive in the way that I wanted to be.

Of course we squeezed in some time with bay area friends, and managed to grab some meals as a family of three, too.  And while Mason didn’t enjoy the long car rides very much, they gave Mark and I a long awaited time to just talk.  And we talked and talked and talked.  The conference gave Mark some food for thought on his career and it’s direction and his long term goals… and his thoughts on that spurred on my talking about potential long term career goals of my own.  Long term anything talk tends to turn into future moving possibilities as well… so our car ride home Monday night was filled with lots of musing and dreaming out loud about plans for the future and appreciations for the present.

So this trip… I think it gave all of us a chance to reset.  I definitely become more aware of my approach to the days and slow myself down just enough to make sure I was headed in an intentional direction before I took off.  To remember that word I chose for this year, Attention, and apply it, not just to those special fleeting moments that I want to treasure, but to all of the moments in my day.  In paying attention… to how I’m feeling, how Mason’s feeling, how Mark’s feeling by the end of the day, and what we all need at varying points… those special moments happen far more often.  Because life isn’t just occuring without my participation.

And who doesn’t want to be an active participant in every day of their own life?!

 

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Snapshots

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Here is another quick moment from today. It is the content face right after a diaper change, some giggles with Elaine, and then another realization that he was wet again. Tis the life.

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These are the moments that I’m happy to have on record. They are the normal, everyday, and mundane but they are our life moments and they go too quick. Every day for over a year Elaine and I took at least one photo of our day and uploaded it to an account on Facebook called Snapshots. Very rarely do we post to it now but the over 700 photos are great memories of days. Go check it out if you’d like and you’ll often see a small moment in our day that was beautiful, unique, or one that captured a fun moment.

Have a good day, Mark

Ah, to be a beginner

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I’m in the living room, Melody Gardot singing to me, while I’m wishing I knew how to work the heater without fear of something going wrong.

I put the baby in the swing while I made my breakfast, and in a lucky stroke, he’s fallen asleep and rocks contentedly even after I’ve finished eating. Whenever he falls asleep outside of my arms, I search my mind for what I should or could be doing with this valuable hands free time. Sometimes responsibility gets the better of me and I do the dishes or fold laundry or pick up around the house. But this morning (thanks to another lucky stroke yesterday) none of that needs to be done. Sometimes I’m still tired from the night, or freshly tired from the day, and all I want to do is lay and watch a show or read what other people have written. And then there’s the occasional revelation that I could do something just for me. Something creative. Something like writing or cooking or drawing or scrapbooking.  Things that I used to be able to do freely once upon a time, that I didn’t do nearly as often as I could, but still did far more often than I’m able to now. Since it’s on the less labor intensive side of the scale, I chose to write. Writing can be started and stopped if my sleeping babe decides his nap is over. But to have glorious stretches of time in which to write… that chance is rare these days. And now that I have it… I’m struggling with what I want to say.

It’s interesting to live, this whole process of being a mother. The incredible and complex contexts of meaning that word brings up just on it’s own… but then the actual practice of it. It is literally a practice. A compilation of trials and errors, leading us to some things that are helpful and some things we have to keep practicing in different ways until one seems to fit. For the time being.

I’ve always been good at being a beginner. When I’m interested in learning, that is. If you put me in a math class that I don’t want to be in, I’m bitter, I’m resistant, I’m willingly distracted and I’m generally pretty arrogant about what’s worth my time and what’s not. But put me in a learning context that I want to immerse myself in, and I will eagerly explore. I have no problem trying new approaches, asking for advice, admitting when I haven’t a clue of what I’m doing. It’s true with dancing, it’s true learning bodywork, it’s true in a finance class. And so I’ve come to understand… it’s true with mothering. Of course when something is really important to me, I have the initial instinct to want to know that I am absolutely doing the right thing. But I’ve known too, and realize more every day, that there isn’t a right way of putting your baby to sleep, or comforting him when he’s upset, or of using your free time when he’s napping. There’s your way of putting your baby to sleep and there’s my way. And furthermore, there’s my way of putting him to sleep tonight, and my way of putting him to sleep yesterday. And my way a month ago. Because everyday, every hour even… we get to know our baby a little bit more. And tomorrow his habits might change, and we’ll have to be beginners all over again.

My days are much simpler now. Sometimes we go for a walk around town, sometimes we only walk out to the backyard. Sometimes he naps long enough for me to write for an hour, sometimes he doesn’t stay content long enough for me to do throw a load of wash in. Sometimes he loves the swing, watches me as I walk around, makes faces at himself in the mirror above him, snoozes. Sometimes he screams as soon as I put him in it and doesn’t stop till he’s picked up again. His mood determines the productivity of my day, and his presence has redefined that word for me. I haven’t found a predictable routine to our days yet… but patterns are starting to emerge, and certain activities are starting to stand out and reoccur. And what a productive or successful day has started to mean to me, is a day in which I am most present throughout it. The days that I enjoy the most, are the days that I’m most able to let go of any imposed ideas of what I should be able to do or accomplish. Those are the days where I am most reactive. Responding to what the moment calls for. What Mason will enjoy in the moment, and what I will feel good about in the moment. Which… ironically enough… is something I had been trying to achieve long before Mason was even a twinkle. And I think it’s the simplicity of our days that has allowed me to tune into this responsiveness better now than I had been able to before.

Soak up your moments as well.
Whether they are momentarily filled with frustrations, coos and smiles, or open-ended time.

Swinging Nap