Monday, September 29, 2008

the sleep of angels, again

I know, I've posted about Augustus sleeping before, I think I even posted photos. I didn't go back and check, I'm just pretty sure it's there. But who can resist? I believe my children are gorgeous all the time, and amazing most of the time. I don't only think they're fabulous when they're sleeping. But when I can catch it on film, in natural light, I must. Because this moment will be gone before I know it, his naps are few and far between as it is.

These moments of still mama-milky breath, these moments of pure pleasure and innocence, these moments that I still have him as my baby, they are not long for this world, so I drink them in as they come, try to catch his warm angel yumminess on film, and carry it around with me in my heart.


the dough that will become dragon bread, as captured by Augustus

dragon bread for all!
Frida's dragon bread, minus the head

we decided that Magdalena's dragon bread looked a bit like dragon rat bread, actually

With our homeschooling taking on a different rhythm this year, we celebrated Michaelmas with Eleanor and her two lovelies last Monday. I am new to the Michaelmas celebration, so I'll just say that we celebrated with tales of dragons and St Michael and St George, and our dragon bread was a yummy bread/roll recipe from Eleanor.

Then on Wednesday the party continued with dragon apple cakes and more celebrating and story telling with Jen and her lovelies, well, one of her lovelies. Who doesn't love celebrating? And baking? I could get used to this rhythm.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

get your game on

Today is The Day, Magdalena's first Gator football game. You have no idea. I mean, this is crazy crazy crazy. My mom and dad are/was huge Gator fans. Jeanna and Anthony are huge Gator fans. Me? Not so much. I mean really, not so much. Like, I can't actually watch the games because of PTSD from when I was growing up and you think I exaggerate, well I do not. If the Gators lost, my dad would take to bed Saturday afternoon, only to surface Monday morning to go to work. There was whole period of my youth (any Gator fan will remember it) when it was like we were in constant mourning because the Gator football team was sooo bad we didn't even go to games. So I'm not a big Gator fan, and like my dad used to say of musical talent (his dad had it, Anthony has it, he did not) I guess the Gator fan gene skipped a generation because Magdalena, without any prompting from me, trust, loves football. She loves the Gators and gets all smiley and excited if she hears anyone say "Gators" or "Jaguars", in reference to the teams. She'll ask on a regular basis if there is a game coming up or are we going to Abuela's to watch a game or is Tito Chuchi or Tita or Abuela going to a game soon?

You can imagine her joy when Abuela asked if she could come to a game this season. Well of course! She has been asking for weeks when is my Gator game day? How long till September 27th? And then last night, "I am just so excited I am overwhelmed!" I should mention that it is Ethan's first game also, so they are getting to have some fabulous papa/daughter time and experience together. So here they all are, off for the big day, tail gate party supplies in hand, Gator colors and attire on and ready to cheer on the Gators. Goooooooooo Gators. Daddy would be so proud, man, I know he's smiling down on his little Gator granddaughter from heaven, and on us all.

platforms redux

Friday is usually library day, with a ride on the skyway to the downtown library for story time, songs and books with the mesmerizing Mr. Keith and art extraordinaire with our favorite creative consultant, Miss Marie. But yesterday turned out to be more of a well...let's just stay at home and have a home day kind of day, replete with a trip to the shoe store, Chez Mama, and a shoe fashion show afterward. My three darlings clomped into the kitchen to show me their rewards and I cannot tell you how refreshing it was to see my fabulous shoes on somebody's feet, wow! Augustus had on the rainbow and red wedges and has asked me to wear them every day since. And guess what? I have! I forgot how great it was to wear 4-5 inch platform wedges just to run to the store! I actually received a shout out from across the parking lot, "Great shoes!" and I just said "Thanks!". What more is there to say?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

let the fairy garden take root

We spent Sunday afternoon out in a corner of our yard, under the gargantuan elephant ears, clearing weeds and stumps and moving plants and fallen logs, preparing the ground for our fairy garden. The fabled Fairy Garden. That which will transform any mere human who chooses to enter into an extraordinary magical fairy or wood nymph or whichever creature of the earth one thinks to be. Ethan and his muscles were clearing a stump while we weeded and moved cut fallen trees to be reconfigured as a small fairy table and fairy sitting blocks. I use the term "we" loosely. Magdalena master soup maker was busy putting together a lovely "soup for papa".
Magdalena: Mama, can you cook it?
me: Well, you can cook it on your stove.
MJB: No, I mean cook it for real, on the stove in the kitchen.
me: Uhh, I don't know honey. We're working out here. Why don't you cook it on your stove?
So Ethan and I keep working and I go in to check on my helpers and Magdalena has out the spices and spicing up the soup for papa.
MJB: It is going to be so delicious. Papa is going to be so happy.
Then she tastes it.
MJB: It needs salt. Mama, can you get me the salt?
So then they go outside, Magdalena puts about a tablespoon of coarse salt in, and starts tasting again.
MJB: I put just a smidge of sugar in, ya know, to make it super yummy and sugary.

How does one know which plants may have poisonous parts? Or at least, parts that can make a child sick? I know Oleander is poison, I know rosemary is not. Other than that, as far as what's in my yard, I don't know. We don't have Oleander, we did at our house in NM and it wasn't thriving and it drove me crazy as Magdalena became mobile that we had a poisonous plant in our yard so we just took it out. We do have rosemary here, and that was in the soup. But so were random carefully cut up flowers and leaves and grasses and weeds. In the end it was thrown out, and out came the potato peeler and carrots (that were in my fridge, Nora, on the floor of the rain forest growing roots) and a new soup began.

What is it about beginning things? Everything is so full of promise, so as yet undone, so waiting for fruition. Anticipation of the Fairy Garden is filling us all up with a what's-to-come feeling as we work and plan and plant. Magdalena has big big plans. Augustus is pulling up worms (what's with that? Is it really that simple? Boys like worms? Magdalena has been gardening since she was crawling and has never shown an interest in worms, quite the opposite). And I envision a place a magic and wonder, a place of peace and repose, a place for exploring and imagining and inventing stories and living whole lives, a place to retreat, a place for tea parties and picnics, a place to sit in rain showers under the elephant ears. I am full with expectation and anticipation and am in love with the earth, the soil, the loamy richness of years of a section of no-man's-land yard that is a perfect spot for our fairies to dance.

of Augustus, by Augustus

When Jeanna was in the hospital a few weeks ago, Magdalena wanted to take some entertainment into her, so we loaded a bag of dress up stuff to take to the hospital with us to put on a show. Here is Augustus during dress rehearsal in his Tartan matador wood nymph ensemble. This shot does not do justice to the lines of the creation. The doll jacket ends at his rib cage and the black tights are pulled up high, hence the "matador" effect. Almost three year old style rocks, that's all I got to say.

We were having french toast for breakfast when a knock on the door alerted us to a temporary loss of power as the JEA guys worked on our lines. Of course Magdalena and Augustus went directly into power outage emergency mode and retrieved our candles (still conveniently on the windowsill from T.S. Fay last month) and our camping/emergency lantern and insisted that I close the blinds so we could have the full "no-power/no-lights" effect. Meanwhile Augustus got his syrupy hands on the camera and captured this shot. Do your children wear clothes at breakfast? I guess maybe, if your Nora and Jon and live in NM where it might be a bit chilly and they have fabulous matching pajamas, they might.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


My daughter inspired me yet again to Do Something. Today we had a day at the park with our friend Toni and we were hanging out, Toni and I, on the blanket in the grass under the (yes, I'm going to say it) gorgeous huge sprawling oak tree in the shade enjoying some much needed connection time. Magdalena and Augustus and Frida would intermittently descend upon us for icy cold water from the mason jar I guarded in the cooler and pistachios or soft boiled peanuts or cold orange sections and each child would inevitably crawl on/step on/fall on us each time and I would send them off to play at the playground.

Finally Magdalena had had enough and was ready for some interactive play so we decided to do a bit of theater there in the park in San Marco, under the huge shady oak tree. I said, so what shall we do? And Magdalena replied: I don't know...I want it to be about attachment parenting.

So we did. We performed a short on the spot play about attachment parenting and the cycle of life. Then we did it a second time with Frida and Augustus joining the cast.

I thought, what a great thing. And I thought, I have this whole thing going on in my life that is not my life, but my participation in this greater thing called Attachment Parenting International and there is so much to say about it. So much to say by me, by other members, by families by mamas and papas and children and grandchildren and sisters and brothers and nannies and so here is the latest blog


Tuesday, September 16, 2008


Late Sunday afternoon, after dinner out at my mom's house, Magdalena, Frida and I went down to walk on the sand and stare at the rising full moon and the surf. The surf has been huge ever since Hannah blessedly passed us by, and Sunday it was no different. There was so much sea foam, we were walking in it and feeling how light as air it is and trying to pick it up and Magdalena said "it must have been a mermaid" because isn't all sea foam former mermaids? I'm not big on the animated "Little Mermaid" that has taken over our collective storytelling. My mom has a pre-Disney Little Mermaid and we randomly pick up Little Mermaid books while we're at the library so it was a revelation to me that I had never actually read the Little Mermaid, in any of her forms, so I was unaware of the sea foam/mermaid connection.

Today, when Augustus fell out at 5pm which is one of my least favorite things, (he's transitioning out of napping, I guess, and doesn't want to take a nap at a normal time like noon or 1pm, no, he has to crash at 5 or 6pm and then wake up, eat some food, and stay up until 11:30 or so. wow, such fun) Magdalena said "mama, don't you want to go swing on the hammock with me?" which of course I did and promptly dropped whatever it was I was doing to join her. We were laying on the hammock under our Blanca banana tree and oaks, looking up to the sky and watching the random plane fly by.
me: Look, there goes a plane.
MJB: Is it a writing plane?
me: No, it's a jet, flying people.
MJB: No, it's not a jet. There's no fire. Fire is in so many things... Fire breathing dragons, jets, what else mama? Oh yeah, fire places, fire pits. What else?
me: What about what you were playing with playclay by?
MJB: Oh yeah, candles. Candles have fire.

Magic. Did I mention my daughter is pure magic?

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

kindergarten and a musing mama

Magdalena and Henry, mugging for me

Tuesday was our first day of Kindergarten. Kindergarten. Wow. Our first day. Did I mention it was our first day of Kindergarten? Can you tell what's been on my mind? It was also our first day back at the pool, swim lessons with Kerry, and we have the fortune of being in class with Henry. It's all a bit daunting for me, and a bit exciting for Magdalena.
We picked up some early readers recommended by the divine Miss Marie at the Main Library. We were at our first day back to regular Friday story/art time at the downtown library the week before the official opening of school, and Magdalena said to Miss Marie, who we have not seen since May, "I'm five. I'm starting kindergarten on Tuesday". To which Miss Marie, ever the savvy art teaching librarian said, "oh really? Where are you going to start kindergarten on Tuesday?" looking at me with a raised brow. "At home, at homeschool kindergarten." said my gorgeous five year old daughter.
Miss Marie then proceeded to introduce me to the "early reader" section of the library and Oh Wow! We fell in love, at once, with the BOB books and their whimsical line drawings and simple sentences and Magdalena was reading by that afternoon. Not scientific text mind you, but she read all on her own - Mat sat. Sam sat. Mat sat on Sam. Sam sat on Mat. You get the picture. But maybe you don't because the pictures are really darling and make the books so funny. And maybe you don't get the picture because you weren't sitting there, you didn't see Magdalena sound out each letter - Ssss...aaaa....mmm. Ssaaamm. SAM! and over and over and over until She. Read. The. Entire. Book. And you didn't see the look of pure joy, of such accomplishment after she figured out each word.
Wow. What a feeling. Man, if this is what homeschool is about, I love it I love it I love it. Give me more baby. I know I know, there will be the hard days and the challenging days, but boy this has been awesome.
I can see so easily what a gift our life is. Sometimes, when I'm perusing other blogs, I'll get a bit flummoxed and wonder, why aren't I that fabulous? Do those people sleep? I could do more if I fit it in between 2 and 5am, I mean, I'm not really doing anything those hours, just sleeping. And then I have a day where how blessed we are is hammered home over and over and over.
Last Friday I picked up a friend of mine whose car had a hole in the windshield from T. S. Fay and she had to do some running around to get her car in order, so I gave her a hand. Then I ran into a homeschooling mama at the library who really needed a bit of support and just an ear, I believe, and we talked for a while. After the library I went and hung out with my dear dear dear friend who is experiencing major upheaval and life changes (and doing it with style, I might add) and just needed another mama, cooking in her kitchen, side by side with her. And meanwhile, I had Frida a couple of extra hours because my darling sister, Cookie aka Tita aka Jeanna was admitted to the hospital with Mastoiditis, not a minor event.
So I looked around Friday, at my little family in our sweet casita, and I thought, ya know, there are better things in life and there are worse things in life, but nothing, nothing on this earth is as perfect and beautiful as it all is right here right now.
Last weekend we were swimming like crazy in the huge surf, all of us, Ethan, Augustus, Magdalena, Jeanna, David, Frida, my mom and Anthony (Suzanne was holding down the fort at the sand castle). The surf was all over the place with an incredibly strong current and washing machine waves. Magdalena was swimming in the breaking waves like I have never seen her swim, jumping into oncoming waves and going under and coming up laughing and Ethan was holding on to Augustus for dear life, literally, so he didn't get swept out to see with the waves and he was jumping and wriggling doing the happy dance. I was coming out of being tumbled by this huge wave and when I surfaced the sea foam was fizzing all around me, popping and fizzing little bubbles, popping all over my face. Like perfectly carbonated water, it was fizzing. I had never felt anything like it. Isn't that something? I grew up on this beach, in this water, every time of year, every kind of wave, every kind of surf. And yet here was something so magical, so mermaidy, so perfect and so entirely new, I was amazed and awed and, well, you know, in love with the moment.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

and we celebrate

my mama, me, and the one who first made me a mama

our family

my man, my daughter, me with my son

I don't have a ton to say. I am humbled by the gifts in my life and grateful for all we have. That and my man is h-o-t HOT. Or maybe you noticed.

Monday, September 1, 2008

ode to my mama

When I was nearing my 27th birthday, I wanted to have my horoscope done, officially. There was no record of the time I was born on my birth certificate (crazy, hunh?) so I asked my mom, "what time was I born?" And she couldn't remember. She thought about it, she hhhmmmmed and ruminated, and just couldn't remember and I was aghast! I was turning 27 on the 27th and I thought it a particularly auspicious birthday and I wanted my horoscope done! I kept saying things like You don't remember when I was born? How could you not know that?
Keep in mind, gentle reader, that I was thinking like a self-absorbed twenty-something, not realizing that having a baby in the mid-sixties, for many mamas in this country, meant being knocked completely unconscious, waking up hours later with your little bundle of joy squirreled away while you "recover". So really, how could she know? But I digress. For my birthday that year, she wrote me the most incredible letter, she told me the story of the life of our family as they prepared for my arrival. She told me about the colors of the walls, the decorations she was putting up, just for me, about being so excited to meet me, about nursing me for a good start in life. She told the story of the little details of what she did in the days leading up to my arrival, all in anticipation of me.

So I'd like to spend a moment in honor of my mama, the woman who, 43 years ago on August 27, welcomed me into the world.

what I remember her saying more than anything:
Of course!
They're welcome as the flowers!
The more the merrier!
There's always plenty!
We'd love to!
How wonderful!
What a wonderful idea!
Don't you want to have a party?
How about a slumber party?
Let's make homemade cards/invitations/thank you notes!
Of course you can do that!
Well, let's see, I don't see why not!
Let's go shopping!

regular events:
*towels from the dryer to welcome us into the freezing inside of our house from the pool because my dad kept the a.c. at like, 65 degrees.
*fireworks at Friendship Park
*jumping in the car and going to the - beach, museum, Treaty Oak, park, where-ever was funner than where we were
*playing cards crazy eights and spades and spit and go fish for hours on end
*playing majhong, with real vintage ivory tiles
*letter-shaped pancakes, cat-shaped pancakes, on the electric griddle
*shaving cream for us to have shaving cream fights with in the back yard and pool
*skinny dipping
*swimming late at night
*treats, treats, treats!
*early birthday gifts, letters in the mail, and presents on my pillow
*being awoken with gentle words, good morning sweet Amy (that is my first name, ya know, Connor is my middle), as she rubbed my back gently to awaken me slowly and sweetly
*road trips!

When she was my brownie leader, she and mamaw (her mom) did this sensory event with us. My mom had these little funky colored glass jars filled with spices that sat on the counter top. She and mamaw blindfolded us and had us try to guess the scents. I remember cinnamon, orange zest, sage and thyme. There may have been others, and those may not be correct, but that is how I remember it.
One time when all of us, Anthony and Jeanna and I, had been at mamaw and pappaw's for a few weeks, mom and Aunt Sis redid our room from head to toe, completely and fabulously, with wallpaper accents, matching vanity tables for Jeanna and I with little yellow gingham awnings over each, and details that escape me today, but it was a magical wonder world of a little girl's room.
I can remember, specific times, that I would yell for my mom from across the big ol' rambling ranch house I grew up in, yelling for mom, and she would come saying yes? and I'd say, could you turn on/off the light? or could you get my jack ball? or some such silliness, and she would always laugh and do it lovingly. Jeanna and I would both do that, it was more like a fun game than just us being lazy bones.
Recently, as Fay passed by, my memories were of when we were little and some such tropical storm was passing or a hurricane was near, and my mom loaded us into the car to go watch the waves on the St. Johns river in San Marco. I remember the waves crashing over the wall of the bulkhead and I remember the wind whipping our hair and I remember my mom and how exhilarating the whole thing was.
I remember one chilly winter, my mom pulled out the hide-a-bed in the living room and built a fire and we all got cozy together and stayed warm and slept together. I don't know if we didn't have electricity or if mom just wanted to have a fun and different experience, but I remember how fun and novel it was, how if felt "old-timey" and like for a second we lived somewhere other than Florida.

thoughts on honesty:
There were two events that inform me even today when it comes to honesty. I remember being involved in an unsavory behavior (we'll leave it at that) and telling my mom some story to cover the result. Both times she said to me, well, if that's what you want to tell me, ok. But I want you to know that the door is open for you to tell me the truth. And I remember her telling me that with such sincerity, not as a set up to bust me, but just to let me know that she was available for the truth without her freaking out on me, that I was able to be honest on both occasions. Yes, there were reasonable consequences, but it was a trust building experience, not trust-dashing.

There are so many little memories that occur to me, as I parent my children, as I remember things in the day to day, as words I heard as a child come out of my mouth, as I experience the love and that joy is parenthood I realize that my mother walked this path before me, she had all those little moments, and it is because of her that I get to be here today.
As a mama today, I realize I cannot even begin to put into words the love and gratitude I feel, the joy that floods my heart as I watch my mama with my children, and all I can say is:
Happy Birthday, on my Birthday, mama, and thank you for it all