thing about babies & change

1. the thing about babies is that you don’t know how much, exactly

is gonna change,

besides, say, everything in the practical, emotional,

physical, …

 

but you don’t really know

so much like

even now on my third,

how will the labor & delivery go

how short, how long,

how much breath will i be able to pull in

between each surging contraction, each wave pulling us to

each beach

& will my focus be so much better than the last times

i birthed?

how much will i change?

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will her eyes be lighter than my eldest daughter’s

hair curly curly or straight

ahead eyes heart serious yet glimmering-

will i rest in the calm of dim lights

and how much sleep will i remember

i can go without?

how much will my heart mush to see

brothers and sisters meeting

meeting

for the first time?

 

how tired, how languid, flushed with fatigue and love will i be?

so i’m doing these things now,

a sitting, ripening plum,

halfway between industry and rest,

near-continual heartburn

to the occasional forgetting i’m even pregnant

somehow maybe only in sleep.

(who am i kidding? i’m restless and big).

 

and today we built cupcakes sanded with sugar,

read three books before 7:30, dishes soaped and put away;

today we burried 48 morning glory, nurtured and snipped spreading leaves,

and i was patient, more than before.

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we laundered, we showered,

created, & put away.

killed one harmful caterpillar

curled up in leaves like a sleeping bag;

i rescued one spider and carried him outside.

we sang lots of songs and i know we sure danced,

laughter pooling inside and out, onto the patio, out to the driveway and back.

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11. every day is the same and yet so very different

i can tell time is folding and growing our family

and stretching our long legs.

 

my memories sugar on the counter from this afternoon,

a coating that sticks to the floorboards and each uncovered little toe

like his little hairs that fell off his head and clung to his neck,

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i want to remember everything before the change and now

 

111. when i shave my legs, i wonder if it’ll be the last time before

i work so hard to see my newest babe

 

and when i apply mascara, three generous coats on dark

lashes, i wonder how long before i am doing up my eyes again

once baby comes? that is, how long before i regain momentum & the balance

to pull a straight line, a carved out time

 

altogether, me.

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i wonder each day what time line, what story we will say

when describing the moon, the errands, the metaphors

the field in which you were born

from conversation bubbling with “i love my family”,

to a small argument, perhaps, with a little speck of feeling

lonely or weightless

within the movement of infinite details and ohmy

 

goodness

infinite process

all moving towards birth

 

who really is ready and who just takes

a couple hundred deep breaths?

 

i eat three more mini cupcakes before bed

drink anything fizzy, wonder about each pull,

every sensation

and smile, try

to swing legs and hips to each side–

remember the change before and after this night.

 

remember the air, all the was done and spoken

in each room.

 

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Catching Up with Spring

I am pleased to report that I have been so taken up with all of our recent blossoms that I have not kept up with this blog. Sakura season in Tokyo is mythic and a simple day or weekend of rain and wind can dash all of those little blossoms and the picnics we anticipate and plan the whole year long. They bloom and I just have to be outside. It is imperative.

I have been caught up with opening buds, with every sign of spring.

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And living. And running towards the playground with my kids, their legs longer than I remembered. My son won’t wear pants. He wants every inch of skin out, even in rain or wind. My daughter is now throwing her own tea parties, setting the table and moving every grain and clump of sugar where it belongs, in the dainty pot for her to move with a dainty spoon.

We are observing and planting and seeing each bud open.

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There is a sadness, too. Cherry blossoms are fleeting. In fact, this is part of their beauty long admired here in the land of the Rising Sun. This is the poetry. Even the young kamikaze were compared to the sakura. For a moment they live and then, the season is gone.

Last year our Grandfather passed from life to death. He made his circle, a beautiful, beautiful life. And that morning, the morning after I sang to him on Skype, just 15 minutes or so before his death, there was a moment just for me. A clasp, a kind of delicate closure. I rode my kids to school and as I stopped our bike to admire the sakura, one perfect flower dropped from its limb and helicoptered down, perfectly into my hand. Not bruised, not missing any petal or stamen. It spun on the wings of the wind and landed in my hand, a hand that wasn’t even prepared to take it.

Here we are, a year later, new flowers. I’m pregnant with another daughter and just this past weekend, on a cloudy Shabbat, we met under the trees and chanted the Mourner’s Kaddish, the Jewish song when grieving a loved one. It is all there, like a sakura. Life full of promise, a life so revered you cup that person in the heart of your heart, where your hand cannot unclench. The uniqueness of this chant is that through our sadness, in the midst of our grief, we praise the Author of Creation. We acknowledge His Holiness and the continuation of His Glorious Kingdom now and forever. Somehow praise rises up.

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I cried and still sang. Tears can fall just as the heart balloons with a new air, a clean hope. Spring is this, isn’t it? The old still falling away while the new marches on, taking with it every nutrient, every bit of oxygen and peace it can.

The next day we were back. All day Sunday for falling petals that rained on our tarps and stuck to our April skin. Soft white, almost pink. Petals in my daughter’s hair, petals on the seats of our bikes. Petals that streamed past our faces and felt glorious. Even though they passed. Petals even lining gutters. Even though it means less puffs, less beauty on the trees, those moments of pink wind and soft petally rain, I herald and take in this spring.

Every day looking up, expecting beauty and yet, shocked by its power, simple and diaphanous. Every day looking through seashell pink petals and the wind that moves. And the next and the next and on and on until pale pink clumps of dried stamens, petals, all crunchy, lay on the street.Flexibility and the trust to keep growing, to keep pedaling through that wind.

This must be spring’s song.

 

 

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! 😉

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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.

Out with the Old & Brittle

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I felt so good from my time getting a luxurious haircut with a friend, that I’ve stayed up all night. Just poop.

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Now all the luminosity from a long long scalp massage, divine hair washing, treatment, great cut, and blowout will be lost in the sag of eye bags. Just poop.

Nesting, 2, sidenote

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Funny, On the night I’m thinking nesting, there is a Big Bird nesting episode on Sesame Street, an up-high nestful of squaggling, squeaking birdies on my walk, and this–my daughter happened to spot a box in my room, a sweet white box with a sticker of a yellow egg. Inside this, a piney wooden egg, some packed-down blue shreds and in the very interior, my son’s umbilical cord, like waxen floss, gathered like old Indian leather.

It was all, minus the cord, handmade.

In Japan, the cord is special, maybe even sacred? Certainly not to be tossed, not lost, not for some blue plastic biohazard box.

This is the very thing, even another string, inflated and filled with life, travelling life, which held, first tied mother and child together. And “heso“, or the point of connection, that little belly button navel, never seemed cool until my little peewees sported their own.

It only comes from being born. For Mother, too. A being born.

The nest becomes the beginning, a collecting place of all that will change.

What is an interesting or funny momento saved from your own birth, your child’s, or someone you know? What do you wish you’d saved? Would you be creeped out by an old withered umbilical cord?

*Interesting umbilical cord article re Japan: read here

turn of the season

Living with seasons changing

means i still need a system.

Trash bags with Sharpie labels

turn up months after I needed that leather jacket.

Still hoping for KT’s knit lavender scarf before it’s winter.

Also fall is here

so where are all my socks?

What the heck is your system?? Where do you put the outa season heaps of items?