Friday, March 29, 2013

Life.... A Blank Canvas

As I've grown, I've collected so many things - old expectations, old fears, old stories, old wounds. And in that process, it has seemed sometimes like my life has gone from an expansive green meadow of diversity to a deeply rutted dusty path, walled in by high embankments. And I've thought, "if I had made different choices, tried other things, I could be doing something so different now, be so much happier now". Winding up a PhD program four years ago, this is how I felt; stuck on a train track I didn't know how to jump, hemmed in by a heart-crippling fear of both the unknown and the possibility of disappointing others if I didn't meet their expectations. But somehow, through no particularly monumental event that I can recall, I realized that it is never too late to screw up one's courage and make new choices. So I ignored the niggling arthritis in my knees and jumped. Not so far that I completely ditched what drew me to my field to begin with, but far enough that I get plenty of raised eyebrows when I try to explain the unconventional path that I'm choosing.

 I haven't completely landed yet. Although I can see the ground below me, not so far away. This blog has been part of learning to touch down, find my own voice and vision. I've loved pulling out my old, battered, craigslist-special camera and learning to get a different perspective on the world. I've struggled with shaking the dust off my gray matter and writing about what I see, wondering whether anyone cares, whether I care. But even this process I've loved too. I'm starting to see a few seedlings pop up around my feet now as I walk.

 When I first started this blog, I hinted at a grand scheme for my life, but haven't ever talked about what that was. What I'd really love to do is bring what I love about Ecology and education to kids. To remind them that you don't have to go someplace wonderful to see something wonderful - that even on a microscopic scale, amazing things are happening in the patch of dirt in their own backyard, be it January or July. My process of achieving this goal is almost infinitesimally slow with one lovely, wild child in my life already and one shortly to arrive. But I am getting there. Like Michael Ende's wonderful character, Beppo the old street sweeper, I'm getting to the end of my road one step at a time.

 One recent leap was to sign up for a photography class. For 26 years (so crazy to talk about periods of my life in terms of quarter centuries!!) I've talked about wanting to learn manual photography. Since buying my DSLR camera, I've gotten 85% there through playing around on my own, but plateaued on AV mode. I've had so much fun over the past week moving the dial on my camera to fully manual. I've botched more pictures than you can imagine and missed a million moments fumbling over shutter speed and aperature, iso and spot-metering. But in the process I've captured back the feeling that failing isn't really failing at all. Just stumbling forward to the next great thing. And I'll take fumbling any day over standing in the same stagnant mud I've been in for years.

 Here are a few of the photos I've had fun capturing this week:
Heading off to pre-school with K Bear in tow

Making new friends at the duck pond

Never ending fun with toilet paper and a bathtub

Bathtub Gondola

Friday, March 15, 2013


Well, after months of slow and not steady progress towards potty training, we have made the big leap to undies. Training undies, but undies none-the-less. And he couldn't be more pleased with them.
I have to admit, I'm a bit bewildered by potty training. What is it exactly? When does it officially begin? And end? In the spirit of letting him lead the way, over the past 6 months we have taken the approach of asking if he needs to go and if he says yes, well than great! If he says no, that's great too. When people asked whether we were potty training I would reply, "Ummmm, I think so?" But as my due date rapidly approaches and we have times where days go by with no potty use, we realized we needed to get the ball rolling. So I bought some training underwear and 4 days again mission Undies! began.
You know how there is often no perfect time to have kids? Well, the same thing applies to potty training. Last week was no good because we were headed on a road trip for a few days. This week was no better because Joe is heading out of town for three days and hauling a toddler up and down the stairs every 30 minutes for a potty break is no easy feat with a 32 week pregnant belly. But as soon as Taran spied those packages of sport-themed underwear he was determined and we figured we better jump on that train before it left the station.
I feel like this is the point where I am supposed to get misty eyed about how my big boy is growing up. Maybe I'm just too busy cleaning poop out of underwear and pee of my chairs to process the awe-inspiring hugeness of it all. Or maybe it's just not my style to get sentimental in that way. Hey, it was Joe who cried when Taran was born, not me. I am proud though and I just love every minute of watching him grow and explore and try new things whether the feat be big or small. And to take a cue from the sport-themed undies... "Go! Go, little man".

Friday, March 8, 2013

packed like jaguars

I have made some bad choices in my life when it comes to relationships. Wait? Did I just say some? Make that many. Eventually I got pretty tired of running into brick walls. I had to stop and question why I was making decisions that led to such painful outcomes. And after a lot of exploration, and the realization that it was time to let something good into my life, Joe came along. And he's something good. Something really, really good. 

I am grateful for all the small moments in a day that I witness his tender regard, his fierce loyalty, and his openness to experience the little wonders of the world and how he brings these gifts to me, our son, and our soon-to-arrive daughter. 

This morning he made himself late for work so that he could crawl inside this tunnel with Taran "packed like jaguars" (Taran's suggestion after Joe said they were packed like sardines) and listen as Taran told him stories about all the things he was going to do and see on our upcoming visit to Ye Ye and Nai Nai's this weekend.