Sunday, October 19, 2014

Little Things

I first met Victoria three years ago. My niece brought her along to our annual Christmas party and my initial impression was she was sweet, polite, fashionable, and pretty. I didn't think much beyond that until later in the evening, once the party had finally wrapped up and it was close to 2am with just a handful of us remaining, exhausted on the couch when she picked up a guitar and started to sing. I remember feeling the room stop, every pair of eyes in that room glued to her as she sang. Each of us utterly blown away by such talent. 

These days I see her regularly, on random weekdays when she and my niece come out to visit, to help me with the boys or see a movie. Visits that usually end at our favorite local Mexican restaurant with margaritas and bottomless bowls of chips and salsa I always come home to regret. Last Wednesday when she was down we decided to film a song from her album.  Little Things. 

If my intuition is right, this gal is destined for good things down the line. With that voice, heart and talent, she is certainly deserving of it. 

Victoria Bailey Band Itunes

V.B Little Things from Mrs. Habit on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

To Greenfield

Last week we took a short road trip up north, to Greenfield, to visit my best friend's grandmother. A trip we've made countless times before starting back in our teenage years, armed with big shot attitudes and one freshly granted license (hers). Just the two of us, sailing up the coast, five and a half hours in a big maroon mini van. Radio blasting, no cell phones, no cyber map assistance to help guide us to a nearby gas station when we pushed the tank to dangerous limits.

Circumstances combined, that make me shudder to think of now as a grown women picturing my own children embarking on the same kind of journey.

"God's country" is what her grandfather use to call it. Miles upon miles of green pastures being the highlight of this quaint farming community. Their house just down the street from the family ranch where her grandmother had been raised. Where the now abandoned barn sits decaying, with rotting antique automobiles and one beautiful white owl that stands guard up top the peak of the roof beams.

The pastures that once housed green produce, have now been inherited by grape vines. Bringing wine, branded with gold flaked emblems on the bottles, initials of their family name.

We spent the day looking thorough her photo albums, visiting the San Miguel Mission and having a  picnic in the afternoon on her back lawn, watching Rex race around the yard on that red bicycle, a plastic bottle wedged in the spokes making it sound like a real motor bike. Laughing at the baby and him laughing back at us.

The three days away were restful and it was so nice to get one kid away. On a special trip alone without his brothers. Where he is the only one heard. And he, the only one in line to pick out souvenirs he doesn't have to share, in the gift shops along the way. And have a bath to himself, and a nap and a conversation at an unfamiliar dinner table in a city he's never heard of, with all eyes and ears on him. Taking the boys on these lone trips is something we try to do occasionally when we can. Something I hope they each remember in the long run. Hayes is too little. But Rex, he came home with pockets full of goodies, a mouth full of tales, and a new bounce in his step.

It was a good trip. And I will happily be sharing more about Elva over on The Ma Books at some point soon. So keep an eye out over there if you can?


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Already One

Some of our home video, taken during the first couple of weeks after baby Hayes arrived.
Because he's almost 5 months now. And naturally, I'm feeling somewhat sentimental about it.

In the begining from Mrs. Habit on Vimeo.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

An Anniversary

"So why am I in your wedding pictures? None of the kids in my class were in their parent's wedding?"

" I don't know. I guess you were just lucky."

A recent conversation between Arlo and me on the drive home from school. Once he finally inquired about our wedding. An event he, as a ten month old, was there to witness. Dressed to the nines in his little linen romper and stiff white baby shoes. A fact I was never the least bit ashamed of. But found it funny that at nearly nine years old he might finally wonder about it.

Truth is, Mike and I dated for nine years before marrying. It was not a shotgun wedding by any means. Actually, I had never been dead set on being married in the first place. But I can remember clearly when that all changed. I was about five months pregnant, and showing. Working the morning shift at Starbucks where I recall how awful it was seeing a very nice man staring pitifully down at my bare ring finger, in such a state. I didn't like the feeling. Not at all. I was 25 and well loved but that bare finger seemed to suggest another story.  I decided then that maybe it did bother me. To be pregnant and unwed. Shortly after Mike proposed, crouched in a seaside cave holding a little black box.

And yet ironically, all these years later, my legal name remains unchanged, and the ring that came tucked in that little box, that I love so dearly I have actually never worn on a regular basis. My bare fingers just as confident without it. But I still smile, to this day, remembering the sad look on that poor man's face. And my heart sinking at the sight of his pity, thinking I was unspoken for or neglected in that snug green apron.  Blooming belly, black grinds in my finger nails, Making coffee for strangers at 5am.

Last month (how is it October already?) we celebrated our anniversary. 8 years married. 16 as a couple.

We spent one night in Palm Springs, where we showed up on the wrong night, after failing to pawn off three of the four boys, so It wasn't exactly the romantic getaway he had hoped for. Or quiet, or even mildly relaxing taking into account the expected amounts of fits, and frustration that accompany such a thing. But, there WAS all day swimming, and 108 degree dry desert temps, and good food, and a few drinks and a long night's rest. As well as one frightful accident on a bike newly stripped of it's training wheels that ended with a bloody hand and a near (pre breakfast) trip to the local ER.

Another year, another story. Another close call.

To which we've learned to laugh about at the end of the day. Toasting everything that's come and gone between us these past several years as husband and wife. And to all that still stands ahead.
To new dreams and fresh disappointments.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Keeping Up

Lately it feels as if I've been constantly chasing after my own footsteps.
Day by day, struggling in just about every aspect of role as wife and mother, to keep it all together.
Constantly falling just short of ever feeling on top of any of it.

Funny only because it was not that long ago that we had a house full of toddlers, in diapers, on strict nap routines which meant we didn't venture out of the house on a whim unless it came to downright dire circumstances. It was just too hard, psychically, to be out and about for simple pleasures. Or to run trite errands. For a good year I was carting around two babies and chasing after another. It was a rough, long year. By all means, getting out of the house to grab, say, something like milk was a whole event in itself.

Now. It's trying in a whole new way. As is the nature of motherhood, I know. These days its more of a frantic hustle. Weekly. Non stop to and fro. To the grocery store, to the school, to the other end of town to the preschool, to the skate parks, the friend's house, to the library, the dr. appointments. And back and forth and back and forth. The errands, the events, the obligations. All the stuff you don't take into account when your babies are babies. Fresh dedications that come with older children that involve So, Much, Driving. To drop off, to pick up, back to drop off, to help out, back to pick up. And so on. And so forth. Facing the plight of early morning traffic. Clinging to coffee. Buckling the baby. Praying for patience.

On Mondays, for instance, from 8:30 until 3:00 it's a consistent back and forth across town. I dread it. And keep thinking there has got to be a better solution, when deep in my heart I know this is just the way it is at this stage in life. The curse of the carpool, unmistakably, a big chunk of what goes into raising kids. And if then if feeling on the verge of constant failure was not enough, I am also struggling with the overwhelming sense of guilt attached to all that - outside of the kids and their consistent school duties - I also can't seem to stay on top of either. Mainly: laundry and emails, and all the basic social media obligations binding us now'a days. Because as much enjoyment and entertainment as these social connections bring us, let's be honest - at some point, there are certain aspects of it that start to feel like time sucking cyber vortexes which are incredibly distracting and even demanding when you allow it to be.

And then there's the guilt, I know all too often I fall asleep cursing the fact of so many unanswered text messages sitting in my inbox, lost books, unrequited instagram questions and / or complements. Paper work waiting on my time and signature, family facebook sentiments that stand unacknowledged, phone calls needing my attention, medical bills waiting to be sorted, site words to instill, and so on. It's like everywhere I turn there is a something, somewhere, waiting for my full and focused attention. And I just can't seem to get it all in one place at the same time for the life of me.

Naturally, in the midst of such anxiety I can't help but wonder if I must be doing it all wrong. That everyone else out there manages to pull it all together. Seamlessly. That the secret to sufficient time management has somehow escaped just me. And then I start to berate my sense of organization and lack of motivation all over again. Which is when I want to lay in bed, and cry.

And then there are some days, I just let it all go.

I sit in a sea of laundry and kiss the baby. I walk away from a sink full of filthy dishes to drink my coffee where it is clean. I turn off the computer, close the emails and take a bath instead, I watch bad tv and vow to face the weight of those remaining tasks when I can. When energy is renewed. I reveal in the chaos and pat their heads with genuine pride upon seeing that last page of homework complete even when it comes two hours past the time I might have preferred it. I bathe them in spite of the line of chores that call out to me from the other corners of the house. I give up, altogether, on certain things when I need to, and promise to work harder in the face of each new waking day on others.

And I tell myself that maybe, it's never going to come together the way I want it. That maybe, it's just LIFE these days.

On the bright side, the skins of these new stresses have forced me to reconsider many of the life long habits I've come to lean on. And with that have come some drastic changes. Simple, silly things like preparing when I can, the night before, making sure lunches are packed, and shoes by the door. Little things that help ease the load in plenty of small ways. Preparation, in any regard, has never been my strong point so I'm learning more and more to force it. Hanging a calendar has helped tremendously. Having a constant visual for the month in front of me is the only way I get through at this point. Again, something super simple and common to a lot of folks but not something I ever paid much mind to until I felt like every single day was coming at me with a surprise sucker punch around mid morning. Most of the time, begrudgingly, even before I've had my coffee.

Lastly, I've dedicated what energy I do have remaining at the end of each day, to clearing out pieces of the house so that we have more space than STUFF. One factor I've pinned as the reason behind some of this growing anxiety. Weight that comes with clutter is so not worth it. And so far it's been a slow and sporadic endeavor, but I have faith in the finished result. I have to. Otherwise I start the self berating cycle all over again and nothing changes and the weight only grows.

So, there you have it. My state of mind currently. Realizing that a home with four kids is more messy, and harder, and more chaotic than I ever anticipated. But the same goes for the perks of a large family too. So I stand determined to make the most of it in the face of such looming self defeat. After all, the good times always outweigh the bad. We all know that. It's learning to embrace the ride and the tides as we go. Priorities shift, life changes as they grow. New obstacles to endure with every new phase. But the payoff being plenty of new ripe adventures to be had along the way.