Fall Reminder

Fall means

Don’t kiss your babies

With those lush, dark fall plums

or moody mauves

midnight azaleas

that instantly make you

want angora sleeves

and cashmere shrugs

 

Don’t kiss your babies

when you are feeling nice and warm

in dark scarlet, plummy lips

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…when dropping them off at preschool

or somewhere will the school nurse, teachers, & principal

may think

that your autumn-inspired dark lipstick

is really a sign that something needs to be

reported

 

right there

from the purple smudge

over his left eye

and there,

Cremesheen Hang-Up (that really is the color)

on the four-year old’s forehead.

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It really looked like a shiner

so I’ve gotta think–

clearly, the people at MAC don’t have kids?

Or they know better tricks to making that

lipstick stick & stay on.

 

 

I Really Hate Loss

It could sound like i’m missing a person

immensely, excruciatingly

even for a moment

while i mourn a loss.

it could sound that way,

and really, maybe I really am.

I’ve just lost months of pictures,

maybe two or three months of raw footage

documenting those I most care about,

those I am saying goodbye too, if even for a while,

if even for a chapter.

i am so hurting to get it back.

Saturday my girl cried, caterwauled.

“Why does Maki have to move? She is my godmother.”

That alone could break your heart.

Our Maki left, sailed off Saturday

as my girl hurt, wanted to claw herself to Maki,

the woman she has been tied to since before being born.

Part of her is leaving and I don’t know how to say that I mourn the loss of those pictures we snapped

Friday night, the two them sitting close,

K hovering, pinning herself to Maki’s shirtsleeve,

distracted from the task of eating.

It was difficult, but taking the pictures, gave me a joy and an anchor.

“I will have these”, you know?

Those pictures, and the ones of them together, lighting Shabbat candles are gone gone.

The ones of Maki dancing and laughing and then crying, too.

Gone.

The joy of being in the room in the unveiling process of my Mom-and Dad-in-law’s new room

with our designers, turned friends, crying crying and cheering and jumping on the bed, well done.

Those are gone.

Shhhhwtttt. Paper ripping, torn up gone.

I’ve said good bye to friends almost everyday.

There is losing and missing and turning over new leaves

and old ones rotting away.

There were students in those months,

beautiful teaching still-lifes and ahas.

It was all beauty.

Irretrievable changes and milestones marked

with my own children.

A little while ago, I slammed a baby gate

and cried on the bath rug on my knees.

My moments in time

reflected, bathing in light

ready for my words— they are gone

and it seems all I have is some crappy tin, battery-less  flashlight.

I want my pictures back.

I want my girl’s godmother

I want my beauty, my words

ready.

I mean every shot is gone since August 11

and i just want to have them come flying back–

the sweet people and birdsong

the material

the momentum that gets me writing and praying and thanking G-d

the pure recording.

There were birthdays and my anniversary

and all that beauty inside a frame I can’t get back

and doesn’t that make anybody just want to wail

or sob or sniffle for just a little bit??

I mean, i am a very sensitive, highly nostalgic,

recorder and keeper of moments.

I BLOG, for goodness sake.

I want my time to mourn, if even a little.

Revisions & Tiny Places

So we remodeled my in-laws’ house, rather their bedroom,

which is as grand a place as a whole home.

It is the first sight upon opening eyes

& the last before sleeping.

 

It is so grand

(& even though I am FORBID to post any pictures before the big reveal

via IKEA & their publications)

you can trust.

 

And we were so pooped

that

my girl

conched-out

on our bike ride home.

 

I pulled-up, parked, & looked behind.

Her mouth open,

not kidding like sometimes when she

wants to be carried-in,

cutely with a small amount of deception.

She was OUT.

 

 

Redoing takes work,

even if you are just

hanging around, jumping on beds.

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Upon coming to, she said,

“I want my room looking more pretty, too”.

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Not jealous, just highly inspired,

“Let’s make it more pretty, yes?”

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So I am looking for the hammer,

still, taking inventory

of every frame,

hanging plates on walls,

& getting ready to switch curtains,

hang out futons,

weed out the too small things

the hanging-up of clothes,

the spaghetti/netflix binging,

the polishing of silver,

“what the heck will i cook for dinner” & when will i return that year-old library book?

 

i’m home

in the thick of it–

doing the little things

the heavy things

with nails.

 

It feels like throwing flames

& scrubbing dishes

with five-day-old nails,

thinking only last night

did we sip some bubbly.

 

come in, glamour, come in clean,

come in swaths of curtains blowing in open-window breeze

come in recipes with potatoes

cream, dill, and shallots

come in brilliance,

inspiration, & the energy to set sparks to flint,

soup to table,

hearth to city,

 

beauty beauty

come in.

Into Your Space, a Gift and a Challenge

Today, this week, last week, and for a little while–

it as if we’ve been visited by the kindest of elves.

the most daring of professionals

who really know how to give.

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What if a professional crawled into your space,

& deeming it worthwhile,

deeming you worthy & likable,

and not a disaster,

they wanted to help

& then they did?

 

what if they represented a larger entity

of design & culture

& they said, “Send us your measurements; we’ll get our team started,”

 

& then they did?

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what if you sat around a round table

(or rectangle)

& over paper-cup lattes,

you met with renowned designers & honey-hearted photographers

all equally excited to get to work,

give you a window, a solid ladder into your dreams,

not even rickety?

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and then you shopped together,

these acclaimed, kind-hearted spirits,

& every item placed in the cart

was an, “I just cannot even believe this”

and you didn’t even have to wait in line

or stay with them until 10:30 pm and then the trains…

but they sent you off to look at the sky

& all that glimmers

& your mom-in-law says, “I can’t believe this is my life”.

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and then the day came

when everything was assembled

 

and one sweet wall behind the pillows

was painted,

and all that was lousy, shoved-in, the best we can do for now,

for twenty years,

 

was resorted and made beautiful in new drawers

that match and mesh and fit like a glove.

 

and in come the photographers

in with everyone, love

in with soul

in with reputation that flies him round the world to shoot

chocolates and burgers and perfume and luxury

 

but he is with your family,

shooting you,

terrible hair, big arms, maybe bra showing

and love keeps showing up,

though your son is restless

and keeps needing tissues

and everyone is

growing up

in this place

 

where everyone has converged

saying, “Oh, it is so good”.

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and they chat with your babies,

eat your ordered-pizza,

iron little pants,

and go round and round with incredibly funny jokes and

infectious smiles

and champagne, too,

and when you say, “Cheers”,

everyone is saying it with you,

also with tears and a joy-overwhelm.

 

and it is good to be like family

with people who could pull-out your right socks on the first go,

those who know

where to find you again.

 

this is what the remarkable team at IKEA Live did for me

in my parents-in-law’s room.

they deserve startling applause and recognition of the heart.

 

The hardest thing is now—

We must not dare post anything online

before March,

before IKEA Live goes live & shakes the house

with more applause, renewed applause

the sound of wood snapping

under the weight of so much featherlight snow

that will by that time, have accumulated.

 

It is all just so exciting.

To the Ballet with a Shark

Did I ever tell you about the time I took my Miss sweet K to the ballet?

I was the first to reply in a Facebook forum–“Who wants tickets to the ballet?”

Well, I do!!! My girl who who has been singing Waltz of the Flowers since she could first stand up,

legs springing out in grande battement since age two, she will be my date! Yes, I really need those tickets!

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It was as it I’d won the lottery, the golden ballet ticket.

It took nearly a full day to go purchase my win from the woman advertising dancers from Ukraine, what with carting Jude, nursing on the way, all the energy needed to rocket myself across and through Tokyo’s winding streets and different address system and then back through the ticket gates, back, back, back to pickup Kariin.

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Well, I’d seen enough of the St. Petersburg ballet, Kiev, Ballet Russe, and all the ballet documentaries on making it into the

fierce, cold, utterly austere ballet schools. As she spoke, taking me into the living room, I knew they’d be young–but coming from Ukraine, I supposed they’d be little phenoms. I remembered the time I’d seen The Kiev Ballet dancing Swan Lake. The impossibly long legs and pointy feet that seems like arrow tips pointing, stretching so long.

Yes, great, done. I tucked those tickets, with whatever bit of unsurety I had, next to my remaining bills and smiled big. Wait til I tell her! To the ballet we go!

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Every morning we planned the days leading up to this, her first real ballet.

What would the dancers wear? What would they dance to—

That sweet flute from Prokiev? Would it be Paquita? Scenes from Sleeping Beauty? Perhaps a nod to Cinderella?

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It would be great. The next morning, I set off to collect,  err, pay for my winnings. I jumped on multiple trains with my baby boy. We trollied down ramps, scampered down steps, me quickly shoving his stroller out trains before the doors shut.

We schlepped through Tokyo neighborhoods we’d not known before.

I was invited in.

“Here are the tickets!” (They looked photocopied on the lightest paper).

Oh, dear. Politey, in my head, I have a creeping slight suspission… I wonder if this is… a scam.

Granted, the tickets were only 3,000 yen a pop, the receipt made me wary. It could have easily been printed from a home printer, even in the early 2,000s. Just a bit of pink and a clip-art cartoon ballet girl.

(My total for the ballet would be 9,000 yen, about 90 bucks, plus my two days of train fare to procure and use the coveted passes I’d beaten a slew of Tokyo mums for).

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No ballet company, but they are a casual school she told me.

My daughter would be enchanted, she said. Surely, I’d been had, I surmised, feet back into shoes for our evening journey home. Watch. There is no ballet. Just a sham.

To her I said, “Thank you! This will be lovely.”

Roll out the carpet; we go back to that neighborhood the next day, but now for the show. Same exit, same exhaustion, but now a left turn for the theatre.

It is ballet girls’ day, my sis, K, & me. KT has on her best silk taffeta finery. She is pink, ready to be plucked, should an audience member be asked to fill Sugar Plumb Fairy’s point shoes in case something goes wrong. She is good natured, relaxed, though she wonders,

“Where? Mom, where

are all the tutus? These are just, just leotards“.

Curtains spread to show us young dancers at the bar. They are pantomiming class. Feels very much like a regular recital.

An expensive recital. An awkward recital. My daughter, ever the ballet enthusiast, witnessed some turns she liked. The eldest dancers whirled in pique turns. By one dancer’s fifth turn, followed by a rapid serious of chaînés tournes, Kariin began slapping. First softly, then with some steam and vigor–it was all involuntary. This is just who she is in dance. Well, it was awkward because she was the only one clapping, but she was right to clap then. It’s like how the whole bouncing and snapping jazz club erupts with claps and hollers at that precise moment when there is the collective, “Aaaaah, now THIS is JAZZ”. Still the only one. Her claps muffled, slowed, and altogether stopped. But. A few got the hint. The dancer spun on. Kariin began clapping again and then the whole place, finally awake to the feast of beauty, a brief beauty, streaming before their eyes, clapped. My girl started The Clap, like in an 80s movie! It was hilarious and I am still so proud.

Intermission. There is a snack table. There is never a communal snack table at Miami or New York City Ballet. Peter Martins never would allow patrons the joy or horror of noshing on greasy, lardy potato chips or neonic Cheese Doodles. Would he? Nope. There would be no little ballerinas wiping salty osembei paws on leotards. Help.

I realized, o how it sank in while watching the sweet little types-cast four-year old working so hard to turn, while holding the barre. Girls in mismatched leotards and convertible tights kept coming around to their parents, asking for money for the vending machines. I finally realized that we were paying patrons at her daughter’s dance recital. We were the only people, I believe, without a kid on stage. Let me say that a fledgling performance of any fine art is solely diminished without the emotional foundation of knowing a kid. I don’t know how crappy their turnout used to be; I only see slight pigeon. And yet…it was fun to be part of the cheering section of sleepy dads and overworked moms, just proud of their kid. We championed two tween male dancers, both predictably awkward in pirate sleeves. We twiddled about while the dj finally got the right song out for the lilac fairy. We sat through the school director’s two lectures, three intermissions, and numerous trips to that snack table.

And then, near the end of this sojourn into dance-mom purgatory, the funny, savvy mom in front of us, asked, “So. Which one is your kid?”

And I fought the urge to say, “NONE OF THEM. We were conned by that woman right there!”

I don’t remember how I answered, but we got out of there, cheese doodles, mini choco croissants wrapped in crappy diner napkins in my bag.

I still don’t know the name of the dance school or who we actually saw, but let me just say,

I will not charge you if you even come to see my child’s first time on stage. Or I’ll apologize profusely for the fee and throw in a free pair of tights for your own knobby-knee dancer. You can hold me to it.

A Real Sweet Tooth

You know how in the moment, in some magic epiphany, you say, “Yes. I shall remember this; I shall remember this moment”, the distinct words coming right towards your soul? Those are the very words I’ve forgotten these past weeks, this past month, or four. I’ve been slow to post from my girl’s birthday party and some wonderful insights surrounding the event seem to have floated away.

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In forgetting, I was reminded that it is the writer who knows, absolutely KNOWS that magic is performed rollerball pen in hand, cap unsheathed, paper spread out and ready for black marks. If I had stopped what I was doing mid-oatmeal spoon to my gap-toothed, three-bowl-a-meal son,…if I had roused myself after dreams. If I had stopped everything for a few small lines, I’d see from where I came. Because in the life of a family, no, in the life of people, we change. Or maybe change wraps around us, one or two hair strands at a time until we are changed and in the subtle or catastrophic fight, we become different. I want to record all this static, chemical, physical change. I want to always remember where we were, where we went, and how we became. Fitting that all this surrounds FROZEN, or what happens when you compress molecules, when you change the most basic of elements.

These are glimmers of my girl’s party. She rocked the house down. All the way to the ground. Singing, dancing, hugging, tearing it up, basically. She turned four and sent three out the door, didn’t even let three pack up. K became a big, gorgeous, hilarious, sassy girl.

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imageHer brother was there, on hand, to help with entertainment. He also hammed it up and has been singing, I kid you not, FROZEN. He has been singing every syllable, recognizable even by his daycare. He could be on the Late Late Show doing his thing.

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See? Proof of not much sleeping. I crafted Olaf from lanterns and made enough snowflakes to deck Antarctica.

No joke. An event comes around and suddenly I’m having to pull crazy late-nighters like I’m cramming for a final exam. I really am laid-back and have no need to try and be perfect or create “the MOST amazing party”. All those little details like pinata making and goody bag filling and princess dress ordering from goofy Japanese translated sites takes time!

And as far as any need to keep up with the Jones’/er Yamaguchis’, that point is fairly moot. Okay, I’d like these same hoikuen/preschool moms who see me flailing about managing kids, shoes, my bike, sheets, school/parent communication logs/general life skills, to see me doing pretty okay in my “home environment”. I would like them to say, “Oh, even though she is a nerd in our culture, she can sing the Frozen song in English pretty okay. She sure loves her kids and look, she even wore stockings.”

So maybe that was part of my motivation. But just for five minutes.

I was mostly just in awe of my girl and our family.

shaka

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Sister & partner-in-crime, Kenzerina. She is the one who makes Pinterest boards & ices the cake.

K with her first ever friend, Miss Miya. Miya’s mum, Anna, took this and many of the best shots in this post. Thank you, lady!!

Below, my gift of a Mom-in-law, Fumie, is helping Jude & his sweet bud, Sara. What lovies, right?!

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It is easy to enjoy such a sweet party, even as the hostess. We also happen to have some wonderful family friends, much to do with K’s down-to-earth neighborhood hoikuen, or preschool.

It is not so “pressurey” throwing a kid’s birthday party in Japan because…Japanese people don’t. Turns out, making a big hullabaloo with kids’ friends and their parents and big sheet cakes and/or cupcakes, games, ponies, bounce houses, Pinterest-planned and obsessed theme parties are American. And European or whatever else. The point is they are not Japanese. Every year, I am the only one doing this. You can surmise that we don’t get a lot of birthday invitations. Try none. They aren’t clogging up the bulletin board at the door or anything. The good news is that it’s not personal (gosh I sure hope not); the kids are just partying it up with the grandparents at home or in a restaurant, just the family.

Wait til they get our Bar and Bat Mitzvah invitations! Ha.

Incidentally, I learned (or remembered that) my husband and I are mic hogs. What are they gonna do? Throw us out? It’s our party! Who’s the keeper of goodie bags, huh? You’ll wait, thank you very much! 😉

hogs

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There will be one more picture. My girl received a bouquet of flowers from her friend who wore a BOW TIE. Isaac made them re-enact it for the shot.

It’s coming, along with more words. More looks back to how one simple party seems like a line in the sand for our jazzy songbird daughter.

K back to back

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xoxo, Me

and that Open Dooooooooor, yeah love is an open doooooooor.

Swedish Meatballs

Dahlings. I have Swedish meatballs for you. Just in time for Rosh Hashanah. Yes, this post could be about crunchy apples gliding through golden honey, sweet for the Jewish New Year, but real quickly–let me please serve these Swedish meatballs.

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Oh, boy. I’ll probably be changing my order. Probably not all-beef and look, they have lasagne!! Okay. Change of plans. It’s a lasagne party. With Swedish wine & those fantastic and fantastically inexpensive, chocolate bars. Meet you at the checkout with your pallet on wheels. 

Do you have Ikea near you? Did you know that Ikea is launching their own Ikea Town in East Strand, London? Did you know that many families consider a day at Ikea to be comparable to an adult trip to Disneyland?

Back in August, I got my shot as guest feature in Ikea’s own, chic-for-less lifestyle magazine. When, normally, they may feature svelte Scandinavian families, a hot British flat, impeccable style down to suede Tod’s, and ridiculously crafted children’s rooms, they chose to feature me, rather us. I know, right! It’s a little like being the socially bumbling girl who finds herself elected Prom Queen. Joke or dream come true? I dunno, but…I’ll take it. At least until they say, “Um, no.”

KOLSYRAD PÄRONDRYCK for everyone!

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I posted the link before, but that was all-Japanese. Here is the English version, ta-da!

Summer Ikea Feature

Mel Willms Photography-IKEA 900-3

Did you click? So yeah, my fourteen minutes of fame, right there, & I loved it. (Windows pre-curtains-oh well).

Our wonderful, generous, & talented friend, Melissa Willms, took the photos. While I definitely could have spruced up the place better, she worked her talent & the fun ensued. Just look at some of her work. Just look.

Thanks, dahlings!

Tata & tack så mycket (thanks very much),

because I’m a dork who looks things up,

Melissa