Monday, August 31, 2009

Way, Way Into The Drumming

This morning, 8:17 a.m., "A Drumming Show"

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Finally... We Get Together As Families!!!!!!! The Slavins Visit!

This photo has been a long time coming. Jen, my college roommate, pictured in real life with my two boys. I can't even express what it all means to me (although, I can say this: I know Jen will be so dismayed that I posted this terrible photo of her on this blog -- in real life she is GORGEOUS and this photo is bad). But, I don't even care. Because, seriously, this photo, to me, is priceless. And, to top it off (total coincidence), that quilt that they have on them (watching Finding Nemo Saturday night, by the way)... that quilt was on our dorm-room couch the whole time we were roommates. We had countless -- countless -- heart-to-heart coming-of-age soul-searching future-planning past-processing present-analyzing life-affirming growing-up-together conversations (not to speak of hang-over-nap-sessions) together under that quilt. And there they are-- my boys and my Jen -- under that quilt. It has been a long time coming.

We graduated from Colby 15 years ago (15 years ago??????), and both lived in Boston (so saw each other tons) during our early 20s. Then she went off to Stanford for grad school, and stayed, and it became tough (obviously, with us on two different sides of the country) to get together. Although we were still able to manage (she and her husband Anthony - who Braydon and I adore - would come East, or we'd go West, or I'd have a conference in San Fran, or she'd have to be in New England, or there would be a major life event -- like our weddings -- etc. And... then there was that time we four all met up in New Orleans for a crazy weekend together). And so it went, until we had kids. And then it all came to a screeching halt. And we've been lamenting it ever since. But -- hallelujah! -- Anthony got a huge-promotion-of-a-new-job and this summer they moved back East! And now they are a mere 3 hour drive away (which is NOTHING!) and this weekend we had our first of many get togethers. No, it is nothing like the old days (to state the obvious: there are five kids in the picture now)... but, it is like the best of friends should be: pure bliss. The past pulls us together, and the future is sprawled out ahead of us. I have a feeling we'll be strong family friends for the long haul. The kind of family friends where our kids will grow up together. Which is, for me, a dream come true. And the five of 'em hit it off like we could only have wished for!

These three (photo below -- and click on any photo to enlarge) were like three peas in a pod. We barely saw them (except for mealtimes) the entire weekend. Seriously. We've already got stories to tell of their escapades -- stories that will embarrass them flushed red when they are sixteen. We cannot wait to tell the tales!
And these two... oh, these two... The Little Ladies (I'm now calling them)... they were born six weeks apart and they are soul sisters already. We decided, officially, this weekend: they will be college roommates. The only question remaining is, 'which college?' That is up for grabs, but we have a short list of some top notch schools that we'll be considering in 17 short years. The only thing for certain is that they'll do at least one semester of study abroad in Australia (Anthony, Jen's husband, is Australian so they have family there to keep a close eye on The Little Ladies while they enjoy university Down Under). As you can see, they've already mastered the fine art of drinking together. So, they should be all set.
Saturday morning the dads and the "big kids" took a trip to Ringing Rocks while the babies napped and the moms talked non-stop.

While they weren't napping, The Little Ladies were lovin' life and just, basically, starting the bonding of their pre-college-roommate years. Doing stuff like generally hanging out, working on their skills in the fine arts, chillin' at the pool, and working out together (this time around, the athletic endeavor of choice: horseback riding). You know, the same sorts of things they'll do when they live together in college someday.

Meanwhile, the Happy Threesome were playing inside and out, watching videos, holding hands, and just generally acting as though they have been best friends their whole lives.

The highlight was a brief period of sun on Saturday afternoon, which we maximized poolside, with Braydon's margaritas and chips and dips. The Little Ladies went a bit nutso with the bean dip.
CHEERS to many more Slavin~J-M weekends!
Jen is a long-time blog reader and it has always been from afar, so this will be her first time reading a blog post here with her in it! That will be surreal, I'm sure. But it is, surely, the first of many. I love you Jen! :) xxoo

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Happy 37th Birthday Heather!

Can you believe she's 37? I can't! She seems like a really mature 22 year old hottie to me! And we've had a really fun day to boot. Our dear old friends Jen and Anthony are here (mostly coincidental, but what a great way to celebrate) and between our kids, their kids, the pool and some margaritas, it's been a blast.

This year, Kyle and Owen picked out their own gifts for mommy: Owen a purple stone funky necklace and Kyle a large lattice heart pendant necklace. Both of which Heather will wear - although neither of which we're sure are actually are her style. But so endearingly cute.

Heather got to have her favorite - carrot cake - with two loving boys assisting with the candle duty.

Happy Birthday my sweet, gorgeous wife! We're all so happy to celebrate you today!

Thursday, August 27, 2009


We've turned off Anonymous Comments again folks. It is just too upsetting for us to allow the Anons. But we remain committed to blogging with as much honesty and truth as we can muster. Thank you for reading!

Dear Meera

Dear Meera,
I cried hard when I left you to go to work this morning. You didn't know I was crying. Partly because you were crying so hard yourself (you weren't really noticing much except that I was walking out the door). And partly because I managed to get the door shut behind me before I broke down. I remember mornings like this when your brothers were your age-- mornings when I'd cry deep wet tears when I'd have to leave them. I try to hold it together. For everyone's sake. But your Papi sees me when it falls apart. Thankfully, he's pretty good about hugging me and telling me that it is all going to be alright. But there is nothing that can dampen it: it is so hard for a Mama to leave her baby. Somehow, even though I've been at this now for more than four years, I still can't seem to find a way to make it any easier on myself. Margie held you and your brothers distracted you and within a few seconds I could hear (from where I was standing in the garage, sobbing) that you weren't crying anymore. So, I proceeded to cry enough for the two of us combined. And that is how I started my day. Less than two hours later I was up in front of a classroom of eager college students on their second day of class, lecturing about sociology, and trying to just grin-and-bear-it that the mascara I had painstakingly taken the time to apply this morning was long gone (wasted on the fistfuls of teary-wet crumpled-up-Kleenex now sitting in the cup holder of my car). And so, the school year has begun. For me at least. And it is back to the grind. Last year I had it easy-- with maternity leave for the fall semester, and then my first semester back (with the excuse that it was my first semester back always there at the ready). But now, now there is no more buffer. And we're right back in the thick of it. Except now we have you too. And it is always harder to leave a baby than it is to leave a bigger kid. At least it is for me. And somehow, Meera, because you're so sweet and easy and full-of-grace, and maybe because I know too that you are my last baby, you are particularly hard for me to leave. And so I spend this day at work like I will so many -- feeling emotionally exhausted before the day even begins; questioning why on earth I'm doing all of this; and generally feeling total psychic upheaval. This is no easy road to travel. But we're on it together. And more than ever, for you my girl, and for your brothers, I feel that I must keep on putting one foot in front of the other. For as hard as this is to do, it is something that women like me must do. And though it isn't a life for everyone, it is done for everyone, and I need to keep on keepin' on. And I will. However, I'd be lying if I were to say that it is possible to push out of my mind all that I am missing during every hour of each of these days. And the tears spring quickly to my eyes if I let myself remember that I'm not the one feeding you your morning bottle, or lying you down for your nap, or watching you play and swim and learn and discover. And on days like this one-- where I need to teach a graduate seminar that will run until 7:00 tonight, I won't even be able to put you to bed. And that, my baby, is hard. I know, though, that we can't give up. Because if we do, then you -- my girl -- will not have the chances that so many before us fought so hard to earn you and I. And so it goes. And we keep clinging to that hope that it will all be worth it in the end. I believe it will. I love you my baby girl.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Little Moments

"For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have. The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out." --James Baldwin

Blessings on the Earth

The corn is getting high, and the apples are almost mature. Things are almost overgrown, but not quite. Driving down the road past the lush fields and trees, despite the hot, humid air, I feel the change coming. And it's not entirely welcome. The autumn is so close; can we keep it at bay for an extra week or two this year? The summer is still hot, and we sweat when running around playing hard outside. We sweat when we go from car to house, to building to anywhere. But today was a little cooler, a little fresher. Driving down roads between walls of corn, you can almost see the combines ready to harvest.

We're cycling through to the next phase of our year, into school, into fall, into crazy calendars and nutty planning, into yet another wave of our selves and our children growing up, growing into being ourselves, into being who they will be. And it's not entirely welcome. Let's keep it at bay for one more year. Can we do that? Can we keep this moment, this single moment, this one time only moment just a little longer?

It seems that each day brings a new challenge, something that in hindsight we should have seen coming. Something that had we been only a little more attuned to the needs of our family, that we would have seen. Something we could have been more prepared for. Something, that while not life changing, could have been done a little differently. It's so many things. It's that Kyle and Owen will be riding the bus for the first time this year. It's that Meera will have to adjust to a quiet house. We'll have to adjust our schedules, our perceptions, our understanding of where we're going and where we will be. It's their first taste of Gazpacho. It's that our children, all three, play together after dinner, by themselves for the first time. It's knowing that this moment, this single moment in time is precious, is changing before our eyes. And it's not entirely, not really completely, maybe almost, but we feel ambivalently; not welcome.

And each night, after we work a bit, maybe have a glass of wine, after the day is finally done, and the stresses are finally somewhat at bay, after we've forgotten a little about who others expect us to be and remember a little more about who we are that we stop. Some the breath.

That we go and take a quick glance at our sleeping, growing, changing children, our changing selves, our shifting world. And we feel the Earth moving beneath us, feel time moving perceptibly forward and have the same sense that countless, loving, lucky parents through out time feel when their children are safe, fed and home sleeping.

We are thankful to be blessed as we are now.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


I've trimmed the boys' locs twice before. Last year around Thanksgiving, and the year before around Thanksgiving. They say that they want their locs long (the longer the better; they love being able to wear them in a ponytail, and they absolutely love the look of black men with long locs), but, really, in reality, they need them short. I want to oblige their long-loc desires. But the rational sane mother that I am tells me otherwise... they are very active (subtle code for WILD and CRAY-Z) little boys who swim in the pool all summer long (one word: chlorine), play in the sandbox 12 months of the year (dumping sand on their heads), roll in the grass/snow, and jump in the puddles (every.kind.of.puddle.imaginable.). They need short hair. And Kyle-- the little perfectionist (verging on obsessive compulsive) personality that he is... well... his hair starts to bug him the minute it gets into his eyes or onto his face. And I can't stand watching him constantly trying to push it away from his forhead. I got it into my head that I wanted to trim before Thanksgiving this year-- preferably before the start of school-- and when I suggested we trim their locs they (and Braydon too) were surprisingly receptive to the idea. They are adament about keeping their locs ("forever!!!!!! and ever! and ever!!!"), but they aren't opposed to trimming them. And so, today, during Meera's nap, we did it. This is a whole thing folks (for those of you who don't know black hair, believe me, it is a big thing). We washed, re-twisted, and trimmed... all in the time it took K & O to watch 'Finding Nemo'. Braydon and I consider this a major achievement. As soon as we were done, we took the pictures below. As you can see by the looks on their faces, the boys are thrilled with the results (as are we parents). We went out to lunch after-the-fact and at one point I noticed a black woman with gorgeous natural hair (braids) admiring the boys' hair from a distance (always a big ego boost for a white mom of black kids). Then, a couple minutes later, as we walked past her, she gave the boys huge smiles and said, enthusiastically, "I like your dreds!" Owen shouted, "thanks!" and kept going, but Kyle stopped and turned around to face her (he happened to be holding my hand, so I too turned toward her). She repeated herself, "I like your dreds!" He said, "Thank you very much! Actually, I just got a haircut this morning. My MOMMY did it." She looked at me, smiled hugely, and said, "Wow. Well, it looks GOOD!" And then Kyle skipped off (literally-- skipped). And later he said to me, "Mom, did you notice that black lady liked my hair? I think she thought it looked GORGEOUS!" Honestly, this whole hair thing is such a huge part of our life. It is a lot of work, but it is soooooooooooo woooooooooooooooorth ittttttttttttttttttttttttttt.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Photo of the Day

Self Portrait, by Zoe, Owen, Kyle --
taken with one of the 245 tokens that they
(with a little help from Christian & Luis) loved-every-minute-of on this muggy cloudy summer afternoon. Yes, you read that right: 245 tokens. Those 245 tokens made 5 kids very happy (and 1 baby very entertained). And perhaps most importantly, those 245 tokens bought us 4 adults who paid for them approximately 2.25 hours of only semi-interrupted chatting. And thanks to Lori (who brought $-saving-coupons), it didn't break the bank. Even if it had, though, I gotta tell ya: what those tokens gave us = priceless.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Little Miss Diva

Over the past few weeks Meera Grace has suddenly bloomed into quite the little personality. From the start she's always had blatantly apparent and noteworthy characteristics (most obvious was her calm and chill demeanor and her exceptionally "good baby" persona). But suddenly she's gone from being a baby to being a toddler, and with that transformation her little Self (capital "S") has really emerged. Turns out, she is such an interesting little kid. I'm not sure why, but this sort of surprises us. I guess when you adopt twin boys from a Haitian orphanage you sort of sign up for 'interesting.' But I guess we didn't really expect 'interesting' when we were anticipating the arrival of our little biological bundle of joy. Not that we expected uninteresting... I think it was just more that we didn't think all that much about what would make Meera, herself, unique.

Well, we're beginning to fully see the uniqueness that is our daughter. At 14 months old our girl fills the room with her graceful presence (she makes everyone smile)... and... her strange little ways (she makes Braydon, Kyle, Owen, and I shake our heads and laugh out loud). I don't really mean "strange" in a bad way, just "strange" in a strange way (I looked up "strange" in the dictionary before typing this, by the way,-- it says, "unusual, extraordinary, or curious; odd." And yes, that sort of sums it right up). Braydon and I regularly find ourselves kind of tilting our heads and saying, "Hmmm? How did she get like this?" And we're really just kind of stunned by the cold hard reality that we now have three (not just two, but three) really strikingly strange little kids. I'm not sure why we're so surprised. But we really are. And Braydon and I are feeling a little bit dumbfounded lately in our realization of this fact.

One little strange/noteworthy tidbit about Meera right now is this: She insists --and I mean insists-- on wearing necklaces every moment that she is awake. She lets us take them off before putting her into her crib to sleep, but otherwise, she's got necklaces on. I cannot emphasize how strange this is. I do not wear necklaces. Margie does not wear necklaces. Nobody she sees regularly wears necklaces. She's not exposed to media, etc. with images of people wearing necklaces. We cannot, for the life of us, really figure out where this intense need to wear necklaces came from. The only thing that I can trace this back to (and really, this is a stretch, but it is all I've been able to come up with) is the 4th of July... (click here for post and check out the photo at the very top)... On the 4th of July we made 4th of July themed necklaces with Kyle, Owen, and Sadie and all of us wore them to the concert/fireworks that night. In my recollection, Meera's interest in necklaces sort of started --gradually-- right around then. It was definitely the first time that she wore a necklace. And over the past few weeks since then her interest has turned into full fledged obsession. She must be wearing necklaces at all times. She turns anything she can into a necklace. And she has definite preferences for certain necklaces over others. The first thing she does when she wakes up is look for her necklaces (which are left where we put them when we laid her down), and carefully choose which ones to put on. She puts them on herself (we've never put them on her). And she has little piles of necklaces all over the place that she puts on and takes off throughout the day. Some of these things are just pieces of string, others are old school projects of the boys' (braided yarn "crowns" from last Halloween, etc.), others are elasticized hairbands of mine, and others are legitimate beaded necklaces that I've given her because she just loves necklaces so much. She wears them all, and she's always wearing at least one (but usually several). We don't mind her wearing the necklaces. We don't really have any strong feelings about it one way or another, it is more that we're just kind of taken aback by it. It definitely gives us pause... and... yes... gives anyone/everyone who encounters her pause. Margie thinks it is absolutely hysterical and says she's never seen anything quite like this with a child so darn young. All I know is that it is strange. Very, very strange. Not in a bad way. Just in a strange way.

Since we returned from New Hampshire this whole necklace thing has really been full-blown. I knew I wanted to post about it, so, over the past three days I made a point to snap 3 random photos of our girl at random moments during the day. Here she is... in all her glory... Little Miss Diva.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Back to Reality (or non-reality, as the case may be)

Every time we get back from a trip it is striking to me how much the boys process it all by playing it all out over and over in every possible dimension. The motorboat (and all the boats on the lake) were a major part of our time in New Hampshire for them. Now, back at home, they are just playing playing playing about boats and ships and water and travel travel travel. Which almost always morphs into travel via planes... of course (this is K & O we are talking about). But in recent days it is always starting with them being "on a boat." They always build the "boat" the same way-- with blankets and pillows on the floor. And then it just takes off from there-- in all sorts of directions. Recently they are repeatedly playing that they take the boat (which soon morphs into a ship which then morphs into a plane) to Paris France and then to Russia and then to China. From there, the sky's the limit. They are globe-trotting all over the world. Owen is sometimes a pilot. Kyle is always a passenger. Whenever they can manage it, they get Meera on board too. Meera sometimes cooperates (especially if there are blueberries involved --- "snacks! we need SNACKS for the TRIP!!!"). The motors to these boats-ships-planes are very loud. The design of the trip-taking-vehicles is very elaborate. The experience is very involved. Sometimes these trips last only a few minutes. Sometimes hours. And given that we're still in the heyday of summer, there are currently very few restrictions on how long it lasts (we have, for example, a "ship" that has been in tact in our sunroom for the past four days). The world is their oyster.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

New Hampshire Summer Trip '09

We've been doing this trip every summer and it has become such a good tradition for us. (click here for last year) We look forward to it all year. We really do. This year, for the first time, we went for a full week. And could have easily stayed for two. And, also for the first time, we stayed at the lake ("MorMor and MorFar's Cottage") the entire week (as opposed to sleeping some of the nights at my parents' house)... which was definitely the way to go. It was a spectacular week in New Hampshire. Lake Winnipesaukee was at its finest. We enjoyed every minute of it. And it was especially good to be able to be with my parents while my dad was still in the relatively early stages of his recovery from his prostate surgery. It was a special time.

We got back one week ago, but it has taken me forever to sort through the 500+ photos that we took while we were there. Some of the photos capture a little of the flavor of how great the trip was. But like always, they don't even really do it justice.

Among many, this year's highlights included:

  • Meera's first 'real' summer NH trip (last year doesn't really count since she was only a few weeks old and pretty aloof!)... sharing it with her and seeing her LOVING IT as much as the rest of us was a major high.
  • MorMor and MorFar's brand new motorboat!!! While the boys weren't riding on it (with Kyle spending countless hours fixated with watching the wake) they were hanging out on it docked.
  • Sadie joined us for most of the week at the cottage and we (especially K & O) savor our time with her! We have been able to spend a lot of time with our niece this summer and we feel very blessed for that.
  • The annual pilgrimage to Storyland! This year it was MorMor, me, and the "big kids" - Sadie, Kyle, and Owen. Unfortunately, we didn't have a camera with us, so we have no shots from that fun day. But it was fun fun fun!
  • A beautiful day in Maine for the J-M's to visit Auntie Stina and Sadie at their house!
  • K & O had one of their dreams come true -- being able to do real, actual mowing, like with a real, actual lawnmower. MorFar can't mow while recovering, so Braydon and the boys mowed for him. This was a serious treat for K & O.
  • Waterskiing for the grown-ups for the first time in many years. Braydon was a superstar on the waterskiis. Heather and MorMor... not so much. The boys loved watching us try it, and they can't wait to waterski themselves (we told them they have to wait until they are 8 years old to try).
  • Re-connecting with Maria. Our special, special, special girl (who is now 20!?!!!??!!!). Braydon and I had her with us every-other-weekend for 6 years while we were in graduate school living in Boston (from the age of 5 to the age of 11). She's now all beautiful and grown up and lovely and it was just so, so, so good to spend time together after many years (we hadn't seen her since Christmas 2004).
  • Red Sox... being in New England definitely is refreshing for our two little Red Sox fans (who normally are surrounded by Yankees and Phillies fans). They got to watch the Red Sox on t.v. with MorFar, they got to talk Red Sox with MorFar 'round the clock, they got to look at Red Sox baseball cards with MorFar, and everywhere we went they saw Red Sox things-- which is very exciting. Also while there they got resupplied with Red Sox clothing, stickers, etc.
  • Eating lobster and catching crayfish. The boys had lobster for the first time. Kyle wanted nothing to do with it. Owen couldn't get enough of it. While kayaking one day, we found some snorkelers who had found crayfish in the lake. They gave one to the boys. Owen couldn't hold it and play with it enough. Kyle could not be bothered with the thing. They both noticed the striking resemblance between crayfish and lobsters and didn't quite know what to make of it all.
  • Trips on the boat to get the mail in Alton Bay, to get ice cream in Wolfboro, to get morning pastries in Center Harbor, and to ride out to get up close to the "Ship Mount Washington D.C." (!).
  • A night out (dinner at Ellacoya), alone (!), for Mama and Papi--- a rare and wonderful treat courtesy of the most trustworthy babysitters on the planet!--MorMor and MorFar!
  • Lots of good playing
  • Lots of good bonding
  • Lots of good eating

Yes, it is a long drive... 8-10 hours depending on how it goes... (and we show no mercy in plodding along as fast as we can with as minimal interruption to the drive as possible). But don't feel sorry for the three bambinos for even a second. They take their road trips in style... and they love every minute of it (seriously.)... Photo below exhibits their luxury (pizza and videos in the back seat somewhere deep into the drive!--- they also have now come to fully realize -and maximize upon- the vast number of Dunkin' Donuts throughout all of New Enland... many "chocolate frosted" and "pink frosted" donuts were consumed by two boys in the back seat).

Lots of pictures in the three posts below (click here, here, and here).

For the sake of my mom, and anyone else who might be crazy enough to want to look through a huge slew of our trip photos... you can click here to see them.