Tuesday, May 29, 2012

a day at the park with papa

we have sure had our differences, and i have spent much of the past six months being furious with david, but at the end of the day, i will always be so grateful to him for the existence of our shoshanna mary.  she looks just like him, those two part-cherokees with the exact same shade of brown eyes.  she gets her wildness from him, and her seriously enviable dance moves. 

pictures of david and shoshi at age two are remarkably similar, their super-straight ragamuffin hair, big ol' foreheads, and a certain gleam in their eyes.  when she flings herself from the top of a jungle gym, climbs the ladder to the pool slide fifty times a day (and would slide right in without a glance back, if we didn't grab her each time), and yells "higher!" whenever she's on a swing--that's her papa, and i'm so glad she has that side to her.  (what mother could imagine her child any other way than what they are?)  it's the same side that compels her to wave and say a fearless "hi" to anyone she encounters, from homeless men to high-heel clicking businesswomen in suits, frat boys and other little kids.  she is really so different from me, and i learn so much from her because of it.     

the other day i dropped off a little gift at a friend's house, and right around the corner was a house where i used to live when i was in college.  the lights we'd strung around our second-floor porch were gone, as were the little green patio table and the overflowing garden of pots our downstairs neighbor had planted on his porch.  but still, for an instant as i walked back to my car, i felt like i was back living there, about to run up the backdoor stairs and into the crowded, messy red kitchen full of mismatched plates and photobooth pictures.  and for this crazy second i thought, where's sho?  where was she during those days?  it was almost a panicky feeling, like i'd somehow traveled back in time without my girl.  which is all to say, there is sure a lot i would change about my past, but i also wouldn't change a thing, because it all lead to shoshanna mary.  how worth it it's all been!

Monday, May 28, 2012

shoshi's second birthday party

yesterday afternoon we had a little party for shosh, mostly with the little neighbor kids and a few of my friends. 

she wore the fabric strip tutu i made her for christmas and that she's been wearing ever since, and a birthday crown i whipped up the night before.  perhaps i'll make a quick tutorial for both here sometime soon, because they were simple to make and much-loved.  the balloon banner was wicked easy to make (i used these instructions), and i used paint chips from the hardware store to make the triangle pennants.  my mom was up until one in the morning making a truly epic chocolate cake and homemade funfetti cupcakes. my dad blew up a bazillion balloons using his tire air compressor, and they both worked really hard in many other ways to get the house all partied out.  

i hid some "surprise balls" around the yard (below) and had the kiddos run around finding them.  basically you buy some plastic junk that kids love, and wrap each item up progressively in a ball of crepe paper. (i got the idea from shiso mama.)  these were started off with a big pink old-fashioned bouncy ball; the key is to get sort of flat toys for the rest so they can be wrapped up efficiently.  so not only are "surprise balls" unwound to a symphony of junk hidden inside, but it's also very festive what with the streamers and plastic objects flying everywhere!  i was thinking they would be a really smart idea for a car ride or airplane trip, because it would keep kids entertained forever.  maybe they could unwrap another layer every time they saw a cow or a red VW or something.  sho really loved them and has been begging me for another one ever since.

anyway, it was a good time.  it's hard for me not to go overboard during party planning, even just for a teensy little gathering like this one.  i'm pretty much constitutionally incapable of not filling a house with balloons, streamers, and rainbow fruit kebabs for my girl's birthday, it seems.  i hope shoshi remembers her birthdays as magical times...and not as times when her mother turned into a total crepe-paper/frosting maniac.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

you know how sometimes, a girl just feels like throwing a naked one-woman pride parade?  
sho totally feels you, dog.

Friday, May 25, 2012


i keep laughing at this picture of shoshi mama at the doctors' office last week for the dread PINKEYE.  she had this very dramatically WTF/i will keeeel you expression on her face the entire five minutes the doctor did her examinations.  stinkeye or no, being a nurse or doctor must be such hard and satisfying work....

work!  i dunno, right now i'm the receptionist at an office building for about 15 businesses (way to use that degree!).  sometimes i think about how many secrets are being told behind the walls in this building every day, between the lawyers and the psychologists and psychiatrists and the financial consultants.  in fact, sometimes i am amazed by how many secrets are told to me, the secretary!  i love those moments when a person, waiting for the lawyer and too full of grief or frustration to resist, starts telling me the intimate details of their divorce.  or the parent of a child meeting with the psychiatrist starts telling me how difficult it's been.  i trip over myself offering hot chocolate and the mason jar of crayons i brought in for the kiddos here for counseling, offer small details of my own separation so people won't feel embarassed telling me so much...those parts of my day are the best, when i can interact in a meaningful, real way with people.  one woman yesterday said, "you've helped me so much, i never thought of it that way!" regarding her straying ex.  maybe i'm just nosy but...i do love to listen.  i guess maybe i am just starting to imagine a career-life for myself beyond answering phones, however faraway it might seem....

Thursday, May 24, 2012

birthday ruminations

"what is it about this day that's been so great?" my mom said last night, after sho finally fell asleep, a dreamy smile on her face (seriously). "it was better than any other day this year."  our eventual hypothesis was that birthdays are meant for kids.  when you are small and largely powerless, a day when everyone sort of caters to your wishes and treats you like someone big and important, is literally unbelievable.  i got that feeling from sho all day, from the moment she saw the streamers hanging in the kitchen, to the second when i walked into her daycare (in the middle of the day!) and all four of her grandparents were already there, about to eat chocolate and sing to her and her alone...she just could not believe what was happening to her.  the lake trip afterward with vanessa ("neesy," as she's known to us) just put the icing on the cake, so to speak.  it was such a pleasure to treat our shoshi--especially when the treats were so very cheap, and the appreciation was so great.  things are tight for us money-wise right now, but it didn't seem to matter to her at all. 

i hope that i can always remember that, about kids and money.  sometimes, to be honest with you, i get to feeling so jealous about other blogs i read, and the lovely organic fabrics and pricey vintage clothes and hand-crafted this and thats they can buy for their children, the elaborate nurseries they create and attentive husbands whose salaries sometimes allow it all....especially when, at present, sho sleeps with me in my old bedroom at my parents' house, and i (or friends) honestly make most of her clothes and toys, or buy them on the super, super-cheap...it was good to know that she still feels pretty ballin'. 

anyway, her favorite gifts (as of yesterday) were the streamers (a few dollars), that cheap little plastic microphone, a pink care bear and some truly insane dance/ballet leotards (pictured above) that neesy found at a garage sale.  that's it.  i think the triycle & blocks love will come later.  (and, can i just send out a prayer of thanks that shoshi has neesy in her life, because...i just cannot with the pink and princessy.  but she really does love it, always prancing around and saying things are "so, so boo-ful, mama.  so boo-ful."  well, i can get down with that, i suppose.)  so i guess just: thank you universe!  for the beautiful day and my beautiful, thankful girl.  and all the people who help make her feel like an awesome little dude, everyday.  (except when she's not being awesome.  thanks for that, too.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

hap bir-day shoshanna mary!

[sho in her new birthday jammies, which she calls her "ballerinas"]

dude, i hope i never forget the look on sho's face as she rounded the corner this morning and saw a kitchen decorated in head-to-toe streamers and a huge stack of cardboard blocks, where last night there had just been an ordinary kitchen and high chair.  she could not believe her eyes!  she kept running around yelling, "hap bir-day uma!  hap bir-day chuck!" (that is what she calls my dad, for unknown and hilarious reasons).  we kept saying, "happy birthday to YOU, shoshi!  it's YOUR birthday!"  i tried to take a picture, but every single one turned out blurry because she was running around so much.  her little self could not even with the excitement.  i'd put out a couple little things for her to open this morning too, a little pink squishy ball and one of those cheapo microphones that echo.  i think those could be her only presents and she'd be totally psyched.  "hap bir-day CHUCK!" she would yell into the echo-phone.  "hap BIR-DAY!!!"

our shoshi is so dear, and geezy petes so easy to please.  i love a kid who can get that worked up over some streamers and a $1.99 microphone.  it's only nine o'clock and this is already one of my favorite days.  just like the morning she was born two years ago, as a matter of fact, at 8:05 am after a hazy night of hard labor at home.  by nine o'clock, already one of my very best days.

["don't wory guys.  i GOT this birthday"]

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

revelations (not the bible kind)

tomorrow is shoshanna's second birthday, and dudes, i am so excited for it.  i even had a hard time falling asleep last night just thinking about it, oh god i'm a nerd.  about 90% of our loved ones' birthdays have taken place in the past few months, so she has had a lot of practice with the whole birthday thang, and often runs up to me yelling, "hap bir-day, mama!"   i think i'm so excited because this is really the first "holiday" that she understands, can anticipate and truly appreciate. 

[sho and i at her first birthday party. photo by vanessa hardy]

i stayed up waaay too late last night making her a silky-soft pair of summer jammies (from a thrift store slip) with a pocket made from this lovely scrap of fabric my friend sara gave me, and scored a wink-wink deal at the salvation army when the checkout guy gave me a huge tub of big cardboard blocks for one dollar.  i also splurged (well, $27 is a serious splurge for my budget) on a nice, non-annoying keyboard to replace the 99 cent one from salvation army that she's been playing all winter.  best of all, i'm making dirt cake tonight to take to her daycare birthday party tomorrow...and then, i have the rest of the day off to take her on a surprise trip to lake michigan (i.e. "the oceant") with our friend vanessa!  dude!  i'm way more excited about this day than i was about my birthday and mother's day combined.

[vanessa and shoshi, one year ago]

so yesterday, after i picked up sho from daycare, we headed to the store for a "quick trip" to get the ingredients for her daycare dirt cake (i got gummi worms and edible flowers y'all).  holy god it was a shit show of the highest order.  sho was tuckered out and refused to stay in the cart, so we alternated between her running alongside the cart and the very short me (somehow this made it all the more embarassing) carrying her on my shoulders as i pushed our cart.  i was hot, tired, and flustered, trying to keep this kid from all-out losing it in the middle of a super-crowded grocery store.  and i try not to talk about this, but i was angry at her dad, too, for not even acknowledging her birthday yet and for leaving me to do this--all of this--on my own, every day, with no financial help to boot.  i thought, "man, anyone who sees me right now is thinking: 'that woman is in over her head.'"  and i realized that that is kind of my biggest ego trip/fear, for anyone to think that i can't handle my life or the things that are happening in it.  but dude...sometimes i can't.  so what?  we've all been there.  (or if not, your life has been way too easy.)  what on earth good does it do for me to pretend i'm doing totally groovy, with a screaming toddler on my shoulders and a spilled carton of blueberries at my feet?  i don't know, it was just a good thing for me to realize.  i can fail at this sometimes, it'll be okay.

it almost made that cluster-cuss of a grocery trip worthwhile.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

sewin' monsters

last night and this morning, i raided my scraps stash and sewed up three lil monsters for a customer who was headed to a baby shower for twins, and has a little one of her own.  they were pretty fun to make.  each monster had one crinkly ear (plastic grocery bag) and one ear filled with rice, for tactile delights.  sho (not normally a stuffed animal/blanket loving kid at all) got ahold of em and hugged them tight, dancing around the yard singing, "fweinds, fwiends, i haff some new fwiends!"  it was pretty much a total shitstorm trying to distract her long enough to kidnap back her fwiends.

i think maybe i like drawing monsters with big teeth and whatnot so much because you don't have to be so perfect all the time.  lopsided head?  crooked eyes?  uneven legs?  go on with your bad self!

it was good to try sewing something a little different.  i always forget to take pictures of the orders i make for folks, but now that i'm a total blogger i'm goin' for it!  would you like me to make you an ugly monster for the child of your heart's affection?  holla at me, sarahvaneck@gmail.com!  each one comes in a brown paper gift bag with a vintage sewing pattern as tissue paper.  the price totally varies by how rich you are, because i am a communist.

happy weekend!

Friday, May 18, 2012

sk8 or die

three summers ago, when david and i first started hangin' out (and, it turns out, a scandalously short time before shoshi came to exist in the world), i was recovering from a hard time in my life and was, at the age of 25, strangely out of nowhere fascinated with skateboarding.  i was like a twelve-year old boy who had suddenly discovered boobs, mtv, and skateboarding (maybe not in that order) for the first time. the thing about skating is that it looks easy, but as soon as you step on your board and kick off the cement, you realize how little control of your destiny you really have.  i fell so many times.  i was way too old to be failing like this, at simply stepping on a board and kicking off.

but i kept going back for more.  i started to realize that the more you just sort of let go, the better you do.  the more free and wild you feel, the less you fall.  dude, it was so totally symbolic.  i ran into david, whom i'd known for ages, one night at bell's, and mentioned my recent skateboarding passion (it was sort of all i could talk about at the time, like any freshly twelve-year old dork-skating devotee).  he said that he, too, had been 'boardin it up more than ever lately.  we met up downtown, i carrying my little brother's scuffed skateboard from back when he was a twelve-year old skate fanatic.  i felt like a total badass anytime i could coast on the board for longer than ten seconds. 

we skated together a lot that summer, kicking off from the rough pothole-strewn north side pavement in front of his brand new hundred-year-old house in the ghetto, and going as far as the heat and our scraped knees would allow.  this video still sums up so much of what i remember from those days, and this song.  i will never listen to either of them without remembering those barely pre-shoshi days, for as long as i live. 

soon i was knocked up, and far too consumed with turning that old north side house into a dreamy babyland to skate much more after that.  but i will always smile at any skateboarder i see racing past, feet kicking ferociously and hair swirling in the gliding breeze...'cause without skateboarding, i don't know if there would be a shoshanna mary today.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

no pictures


last night when i got home, shoshanna wanted to go down into the basement (a favorite place of hers, for dank and unknown reasons).  i kept putting her off distractedly, doing other things first. then my mom said, "why don't you go play with sho?  she's waited a long time to see you."  oh man, duh!  so often i am doing other things when i'm with my girl, checking my phone or sneaking peeks at my book.  it's so hard to be really present with kiddos sometimes, especially when the repetitive activity they want to do for the fifth time in a row makes you want to run screaming in the opposite direction.  (candyland, can i get a witness?)

so i said, "shoshi, do you want to go paint outside?"  what what!  she was all, hell yes.  especially when i then stripped her down.  paint and outside and naked?  three of her all-time favorite things!  throw in some chocolate and she might just have exploded with happiness.  so i refrained from the chocolate.  anyway, so i spread out a roll of brown kraft paper and forgot about paintbrushes.  she used her hands, feet, booty, rocks, grass, the cat, etc, to spread the paint around.  before long she was a glorious mess, head to toe paint monster.  she had streaks of red paint across her shoulders and cheek like an awesome warrior goddess, and oh my gawd i wanted to run inside for the camera like a total crazy person.  no!  i told myself.  sometimes cameras are just another way of not really being present, at least for me.  so i made myself sit, and just soak in the moment without needing to document, catalog, or share it as it was happening.  it was not easy, which means that i am a dork and also that i should probably do it a lot more often.

so that's why the only pictures are unrelated ones my mom texted me while i was at work today...but the ones in my mind of our painting session sure are bright and clear.  is there anything better than a juicy little baby booty waggling around, covered in paint?  you'll just have to use your imagination....

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

gettin' philisophical

i feel like having shoshi as my daughter is the hugest cosmic reward i could ever ask for.  she's kinda the person i always wished i was, all wild and outgoing and darkly beautiful.  i like to believe that somehow she chose me to be her mama.  though lord knows i have a lot of flaws and maybe i'm just foolin' myself....  

i never used to believe in anything, but nowadays i do like to imagine souls going somewhere lovely when they die, and the same souls choosing what kind of life they'll be born into, what challenges and heartaches they'll face.  it sort of lends meaning to the brutal realities of life.  like huxley said, god is that "rich round feeling in your stomach," when you're so happy and sure of the beauty of everything.  maybe when you die you catapult right into the center of that feeling.  i would heartily reccomend this worldview for any recovering atheists out there!     

Monday, May 14, 2012

thoughts on this mother's day

[airborne sho, mothers' day 2012]

yesterday was my first mother's day in the "single mamas" camp.  i have to say, i'm proud to be here.  thinking back to the single mothers of my childhood friends, it's an honor to be part of this hard-working, ocasionally pissed-off, ever-loving crew. i remember really looking up to those fatherless family units a kid. they seemed glamorous, strong and scrappy, more like friends who were in it together than the boring nuclear families who dotted the suburban landscape of my childhood.

that image sure is a glamorization though.  i definitely didn't get breakfast in bed from my adoring husband this year, or an elaborate present, or actually any present.  sho woke up at 6 o'clock, so i did too, just like every day.  but who cares, i still have it so easy.... 

this mother's day, sho's paternal grandparents, whom i adore--they are the laid-back version of family i never had--cooked up a glorious breakfast for the two of us, eggs and potatoes and bacon and fruit and biscuits and gravy, pretty much my dream breakfast o' gluttony.  of course, my own (still-married and fabulous) parents help too much to describe.  and my friend vanessa mailed the sweetest mother's day card everrr.  she is another of sho's true mamas, building her a cardboard clubhouse (which, along with the exercise trampoline she recently garage-sale-scored for sho, take up approximately 40% of her tiny apartment), buying her new shoes each season, listening carefully to every unintelligable word sho has ever spoken, and best of all, not being afraid to say NO to our naughty and charming girl. 

anyway, i had a post planned about everything i have learned from my mother, but it turns out i've learned too much to sum it up in a day's worth of writing, so that will have to wait.  in the meantime, i guess i just want to thank all the women who have mothered my little girl in her almost-two years.  sara, rosie, casey, sara, emily, kelsey, brittany, vanessa, DANG that's one lucky girl!  each woman is worth her own post.  maybe that will be a "feature" of this blog in the future.  she has so many funny, weird, super-smart aunties who love her SO.  happy mothers day, y'all.  i could not do it without you.

Friday, May 11, 2012

it was a hard morning today.  for the second time in a row, sho clung to me sobbing, the daycare teachers prying her off me while i ran for the door.  holy god, what a horrible moment in any working mother's life.  she started crying as soon as we pulled in the parking lot, saying "play, mama?"  when i said i could play with her for a little while but then had to go to work, she wailed, "go, car, mama!"  as in, let's get the eff outta here.  how tempting!  to just snatch her, ditch my job and drive to the beach for a day of ice cream and sand.


but i can't, little dude.  it's up to me these days to support the two of us, and that means being away from my kiddo for all but a few hours on weekdays.  honestly, it does feel unnatural to me.  i am full of guilt about it.  i've always really tried to follow my instincts as a parent, and look to the ways humans have been raising their chilluns for thousands of years, and kind of go by that.  wild parenting?  natural parenting?  attachment parenting?  who cares, it seems like when you put a label on it you're just trying to hurt someone's feelings or say "this way is best."  which isn't really my thing, i say go with whatevah works!  so anyway, what worked for us was for me to stay home and cuddle our baby up--even though we often didn't have any money at all because of it.  that stress definitely contributed to our divorce, but i am still so thankful for those almost-two years spent just lovin' on my girl.  it felt good and right (to me), to be able to nurse her whenever she was hungry and carry her with me as i went about my day, showing her the best version of the world i could.

and now, circumstances have changed and i have to work, and i'm happy to work.  sometimes i feel guilty about how happy i really am to work, for long hours at a time, without tending to a small person's many illogical and exhausting needs.  but then i think about how small she really is, and how sort of biologically unnatural it is for a little one to be separated from her mother for such a long, long time, every day.  i'm not really sure what to say about it, other than it doesn't feel quite right.  (to me, that is.  i feel nothing but admiration and empathy for other working mamas.)

her daycare IS amazing, the best in town i'd say, and she is a social kid who will really benefit from time with other kiddos, which she was really lacking in her life.  i guess i just often think about the way humans have lived for thousands of years, in tribal communities where the women gather together to do their many tasks and tend the children, who get to play together, and the men also gather together to get other things done, and the whole community benefits and thrives from all this working together.  is that a romanticized notion?  probably, but my soul still thirsts for something along those lines. 

sitting here in an office chair, listening to 103.3 "W-K-F-R!" and answering phones, saying "can i let him know who's calling?"  and "let me put you through to voicemail" dozens of times each day...it just seems so far away from my potential as a human on this planet.  

we'll figure it out though, and in the meantime i am so grateful for this time in our lives, however difficult it may be.  talk about first world problems!  


Thursday, May 10, 2012

helloooo blogosphere!

[photo credit: dan foley]

i've always kept the pictures small on this little blog, to match my expectations of it.  well, no more, friends.  this blog's about to get loud and proud!  i might even tell people about it.  the more i read other blogs, the more i think, these people's lives aren't any more interesting than mine.  yet i gobble em up!  so maybe someone will want to gobble me up?  if you do read this, won't you leave a comment from time to time?  then i will feel less like i am a narcissist shouting into the abyss.

i just turned 28 last week, and am therefore feeling ruminative.  "how old are you?  thirty?" my mom said.  dang, ma dukes!  but also, i feel you.  this has been a rough year.

in some ways my life has exceeded expectations (see above photos), in other ways i am sort of...not living up to potential.  failuriffic, i'd call it.  my marriage has ended, i live with my parents, i'm a lowly receptionist.  oho, but wait!  my marriage has ended, what a blessing.  i get to wake up with my daughter (pretty much the best boyfriend ever) and know that our day together will be peaceful and stable (or as much as that is possible with a two-year old).  i live with my parents, who are so incredibly supportive and have helped sho and i in about a thousand different ways these past few months.  i really don't know what on earth i would've done without their help; it's worth a post of its own, really.  and: i'm a lowly receptionist, which also means i finally got a full-time job with the fattest paychecks of my life!  which is kind of sad, but whateva dogs, living ever-so-slightly above the poverty line is AWESOME.      

stay tuned, friends.  i'm about to blog this blog into reverse-oblivion.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

what up y'all!  it's been awhile, and life is about 800% better nowadays.  i got a menial full-time office job, got shoshi enrolled in a cool daycare with gymnastics facility attached, the world is mah oyster bitches!  so, due to my office job, i'm surfin' the world wide web alllll the dang time, which means i can now update this beast on the reg.  REJOICE