31 January 2012

THANK YOU NOTES

My mother's been after me to write thank you notes for all of the things we have received in sympathy. Actually not all, she's really just concerned about the things sent to us by people she knows. They may be deeply hidden under a shock of blue hair, but my mothers southern roots are showing.

I find the thought of tackling this task overwhelming.  The gifts and thoughts we have been sent have been utterly personal, empathetic, inspiring. I can't return or relive the sentiments of each of these again without feeling like I am going to come apart at the seams all over again.  Anyway, as much as these things are undoubtedly for us, I felt from so many people that they were just as compelled to express their thoughts about Lula to help themselves articulate their feelings to themselves.

We have received paintings, drawings, music, books, jewelry, family heirlooms, and dozens and dozens of beautifully written notes. Not to mention the meals that were cooked for us in our home or delivered every day for almost six weeks.  It is a mountain of gratitude that I can't possibly parse out equitably to all those that deserve it.

So here I am going to say to you all Thank You. I hope you all know who you are, and if you know someone who was thoughtful but doesn't read the blog please pass on the message.  I am just not in a place for formalities right now but I am so humbled and appreciative.

27 January 2012

DYNAMIC DUO

So now that it's pretty much me and the wee man all day every day I have had to get creative with occupying our time. Being with a toddler all day is deceptively tricky because, while they don't require a lot of work really- they can feed themselves and pretty much entertain themselves with a cardboard box if left to their own devices- they have a way of hijacking your attention back from any task just long enough to ensure that you never accomplish anything. Today, for example, I didn't leave the house until 4:30, and before that only managed to clean the house (repeatedly, since cleaning after Roan is a bit like putting sand back in the ocean) do some laundry, and use my handy new mandolin to slice 5 potatoes into paper thin discs, but didn't even have the time to finish the gratin dish they were meant to become before I ran out of time. Martha Stewart would be horrified.

Yesterday was more of a success, mainly because we left the house. In preparation for Burns Night I had to get 2 dozen small soup bowls so we took the subway to Chinatown. Let me say that every time I go anywhere by subway with a stroller I am horrified that we do not have a fully wheelchair accessible public transportation system. How the hell can his be? What, exactly, was this whole "Americans with Disabilities Act" business all about then? There are a few stops with elevators but, as we discovered at Canal Street, they are often broken and/or don't actually go to all of the train lines. I wound up thumping Roan up 5 flights of stairs with the help of a couple of sympathetic strangers but anyone in a wheelchair would have been screwed.

On to the restaurant supply stores on the Bowery. I had to navigate the stroller through perilously narrow aisles stacked to the fluorescent strip lights with towers of ceramic plates and bowls of every imaginable shape and diameter. There was no way I was going to let my little whirling dervish out of containment so I quickly found my little bowls (perfect! And only about a buck apiece so I bought myself a mandolin- the slicer not the instrument- thus the aforementioned gratin) and booked it for the Village.

Next stop was Myers of Keswick which stocks all manner of both the bizarre and the disgusting in British foodstuffs. It was unseasonably warm so we walked, or rather I walked and Roan napped. I found myself among many a browsing mom in SOHO ogling obscene handbags at Chanel and the like. We even had a celebrity mother and child encounter at Bleecker Playground (which, by the way, has a great special needs swing).

Mainly, I just walked and looked and kept to my own thoughts.

Myers of Keswick was mostly a success. We got Tunnocks Tea Cakes, Readybrek, a scotch egg for Sam, and several bottles of Irn Bru which Sam adores (it tastes like carbonated cough syrup). Roan impressed the hell out of a lady who was holding a jar of Marmite when he said, well, "Marmite".

I was too tired to take the subway home again, and too laden with merchandise, so I hailed a cab. New York has a bizarre exception to car seat laws which allows you to take a cab with any child sans safety seat. Again- can someone please tell me why no one has designed built in, fold down car seats for all cabs? The last time I tried to take a cab with Roan he lept around like a lemur and refused to wear a seatbelt but this time he was so good. I sat him down and put his seatbelt on and he sat there like such a big boy. He looked out the window and watched the trucks and the buildings pass. He just looked and kept to his own thoughts.




24 January 2012

SEPARATION

 
Your absence has gone through me   
Like thread through a needle.
Everything I do is stitched with its color.
 

22 January 2012

MUSIC TOGETHER

Someone asked me what Roan does all day and I had to think about it for a minute.  He never had his own schedule really, he had Lula's schedule which we slotted him in to.  Now that I have no job prospects and no Lula, Roan and I are awash in unstructured time.

My first inclination is to overschedule the shit out of everything.  This was my temperament even before Lula. As a shoot producer I love the OCDness of the hyper timed, meticulously organized day.  In some ways Lula's needs made the most of my producing skills.  Now, however I am bereft of stuff to fill my day with.  I am trying to keep it this way on purpose.  I find that I can become overwhelmed very quickly, with emotions, thoughts, ideas, and it sneaks up on me most when I behave as though I am still the person I was before. I am trying to give myself so much time that quiet contemplation is inevitable.  As my mom once told me "doing stuff and having a life are not the same thing" (see mom, I do listen!)

All that said, I did think some classes were in order so my friend and neighbor Eva and I signed our boys up for music classes. We went to a demo class and it was in the old building that Extreme Kids was in.  It was hard because the last time we were there was for a music class that Kia and I took Roan and Lula to. I remember the AC was broken and it was sweltering and we had to drape Lu in cool cloths. Music was always something that we really believed was great for her because we knew she could hear and there is no wrong way to listen to music. I started welling up in class, as has been my habit several times a day, with a sort of nebulous pining.  It never lasts but it never really goes away either.

The classes aren't all that amazing - growing up I was lucky enough to take music classes with one of my mom's best friends Delores who is phenomenal, so I was expecting something a little more special - but it's a great introduction to so many things he's never done before; sitting in a circle (he kept wandering off to the stroller parking to try to swipe other kids snacks), paying attention to a teacher, playing different bells and drums, repeating sound patterns etc. Here are Roan and Isaac during the "free dance" part:

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New memories are always bittersweet because we make them without her.   

BELLA LULA

Fizzy lemonade - my favorite

21 January 2012

THE SNOWY DAY

Finally, finally it snowed in Brooklyn. Since the freakish blizzard we had in October there hasn't been one flake, and since we got Roan and Charlie sleds for Christmas we have been itching to get on the slopes of Fort Greene Park. It took an hour to layer ourselves up like fleece baklava, and then dog and kid in tow, lumbered to the park.




It wasn't the storm of the century but it was just enough snow for sledding and the kids were out in droves.  I got taken out by 3 girls who barreled into the back of my knees when I wasn't looking.

Go Team Murray!







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I think Sam and I may have been a little more enthusiastic about this endeavour than Roan. He's had a couple of off nights lately and I think he may be coming down with something. He loved the first few runs but after about half an hour he looked like a popsicle. He kept pointing to his chin, which looked like a cherrybomb, and then just kind of lost it, poor kid.  Sam had to take him home before we could meet up with Charlie and some other friends. We're going to have to toughen this kid up before we go to Scotland or he won't last a minute, even in the summer.

Cranky Pants
In the afternoon our friends Suzan and Tom visited with their twins.  Suzan is a friend of mine from high school and in the most unlikely of coincidences we both wound up pregnant with boy/girl twins in the same year.  They are such hardcore twin parents it makes my head spin.  They trekked on the subway from upper Manhattan with both of the kids and their gear in baby carriers and back packs despite the snow, like urban toddler sherpas.  It reminds me of how much work it was having twins, even without all of Lula's other complexities.  I loved having their giddy dual energy toddling around the house.   It was a truly impressive effort to go through all of that to visit us for a few hours, but I also think that at a certain point nothing is worse than the thought of being cooped up with two 14 month olds all afternoon.  Here they are all geared up for the journey home.



18 January 2012

GIRLS DAY OUT

We had a long standing girls day planned, my cousin and I, with her daughter Saire who just turned 6. She and Lula were the only girls amid 5 boy second cousins last time they visited and it all got a bit "Lord of the Flies" so we vowed to do a girlie day.

Last time they visited a model scout from a children's clothing company spotted Saire at the Brooklyn Flea and asked if she could come to her NYC office, which was the starting point of our day.  It's no wonder that this happened since Saire is uncommonly, exceptionally beautiful:

Hello gorgeous!
Frankly, she wasn't terribly impressed with the whole casting experience. Her favorite part was that she got her own badge at the security desk.  She was far more excited to go ice skating.  Unfortunately it started to rain and the thought of being on slippery ice in sub-zero temps on skates had no appeal whatsoever to Jamie and I so we took Saire to FAO Schwarz, which is one of the largest toy stores in the world.  I think we were all a bit overwhelmed at the scale and selection.  Among the more disturbing items were a $1500 Swarovski crystal encrusted Etch-A-Sketch and this:

Barbie Foosball anyone?

The highlight of the store was definitely the giant piano keys, which was nearly as good as skating.  Saire perfected her knee slides:

Action shot!
 Next we lunched at the Plaza.  We skipped the stuffier Tea service a la Eloise and opted for an amazing 3 course lunch at the Food Hall for restaurant week.  The food was incredible - even Saire reckoned that her mac and cheese was the best she'd ever had. There was a woman painstakingly making butternut squash tortellini near us and she even let Saire make one of her own and take it home.  What a treat!


After we walked by Bergdorf Goodman where they were setting up stunning window displays of exquisitely crafted paper dragons for Chinese New Year and then introduced Saire to the row of jewelry stores along Fifth Avenue that sell jewelry that costs as much as a house.  She was totally into it.

Getting close to Harry Winston
 We continued our stroll through decadence with a chocolate dipped strawberry from Godiva:


Finally we made our way through Rockefeller Center and ended with a bang - cupcakes to take home to the boys from Magnolia Bakery.

It turned out that our absence was greatly missed and Roan had spent the whole day with Kia asking for Saire.  She spent the rest of the evening schooling him in the ways of the iPad and locking him in the bedroom with the lights off, which she thought was hilarious and he begged to differ.



I know that Lu was with us the whole day and loved every minute of it. The only way to counter the sadness is to see other people being happy, especially those that loved her so much.

16 January 2012

SNOW BUNNY

My cousin Jamie and her daughter Saire are visiting to have a girls day tomorrow in NYC.  Saire brought her new slippers and Roan took them for a spin around the living room.  For sure I am blackmailing him with this one when he is a teenager!

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13 January 2012

BEDTIME FRIENDS

Roan is an amazing sleeper.  Though he gets up painfully early for me he is gloriously consistent about going to sleep.  He is also super easy to put down and almost never protests being put to bed. Mostly, I think we just got really lucky with this, but I would like to think it is partly due to a rare stroke of genius I had several months ago when he learned to pull himself up in the crib.

Here's what I do to ensure that he doesn't pop back up like a weeble, and it works every time:


09 January 2012

ALL'S QUIET ON THE BROOKLYN FRONT

Too quiet for my liking.  Despite my best efforts to overschedule myself as per usual, I found myself with a sitter for several hours today and nothing really to do.  I realized that I had been dreading this moment.  I am no good at quiet contemplation.  I like my contemplation amidst a flurry of tasks, chores, errands etc, thank you very much.

In the end I decided I had to roll with it and have a nice quiet day to myself.  I went to a yoga class - my new years resolution - I cleaned the house up, although it was pretty clean already,  perused cookbooks for an upcoming dinner party, and then completely surrendered to my day as a 1950's John Cheever housewife and got a manicure and pedicure (no 11am cocktails, however).

I really have no clue what to do with myself with so much time on my hands.  Not only did I lose my baby, I lost my job.  Or, rather, I was downsized.  Roan is fairly monopolizing of my time and attention, but not nearly at the level I was at before.  I feel like I have jumped off a moving train that was going 75 miles per hour and I am now gradually slowing my gate.

The nice part is that I am so aware of how much I enjoy hanging out with my goofy, inquisitive, charming little boy.  Watching him discover the world is nothing short of magic.  Every day is an endless, joyous revelation and comic masterpiece of sheer silliness.

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Roan getting his very own manicure

04 January 2012

WHERE YOU USED TO BE

Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world,
which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. 
I miss you like hell.

- Edna St. Vincent Millay

BITTERSWEET

Today it has been one month since Lula died.  It is also her Aunt Caitlin's 26th birthday. Today I'm celebrating two of the most special ladies I have ever known.

Happy Birthday Aunt Boo!

Off topic: Why is one pant leg rolled up in this photo??

02 January 2012

EXTREME KINDNESS

We met a couple, Josh and Avigael, in the hospital about 4 months ago with their baby girl Penny.  We were sharing a room, a small one as I recall.  Sharing a space like that is always strangely both intimate and public, a bit like living in the dressing room at Macy's, so mostly everyone always put on discretionary blinders as a courtesy. For some reason, however, we all wound up talking a great deal.  Penny was only 4 months old so her parents were new to it all. I recall suddenly realizing that Sam and I were old pros at the doctor visits/hospital stays/tests etc revolving door.  Josh and Avigael had the startled calmness that I remember us having when we first realized that this would be the narrative of our lives from here on out. I remember how well Penny took a bottle, how supportive and attentive Josh and Avigael were to Penny and to each other, and I knew Penny had somehow found the right parents.  We exchanged email addresses before we left. We have periodically updated each other on the kids over the months.

On hearing of Lula's death Josh and Avigael were so compelled to contribute to Extreme Kids in her name that they have started a fundraiser in her honor with a goal of reaching $1000.  They are nearly there.


How amazing! I am still totally stunned by the gesture. 

To further the theory that when given the opportunity most people will be astonishingly generous and kind towards others: over 45 people have donated on Lula's behalf to donated to Extreme Kids on Lula's behalf to the tune of over $3500.


The money is being set aside to create a special space for profoundly disabled children in Lula's memory.

01 January 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR!


 We went to a silver and gold themed party for New Years. Here's Sam wearing his 100% polyester Fulton Mall special.  Roan had to celebrate early, but he learned a new phrase!

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