Four

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This week, this charming young man turned four.  Four is such an amazing time: every day he makes new connections, and piece by piece constructs the rules of his world.  Play can be nuanced and full of imagination, or it can be very black and white.  One moment the world is full of mystery and lightness, and the next moment things are incredibly frustrating to figure out…  But he marches on, sometimes timid, but undeterred.

May you always be as full of wonder, awe, trust, and curiosity as you are now.  Happy Birthday little love!

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40 in 40 take 3: Sleep

40 in 40 day 3

My children’s circadian rhythms are baffling. Most days, they are up with the sun, rearing to go. Every night, they fight sleep ferociously. Yet once in a while, there are surprising mornings of an overwhelmingly deep and uninterruptable sleep… always Mondays.

40 in 40 day 3 sleep

The Letting Go

Winter is holding on as best it can here, but as the hours of sunshine get longer every day, its days are numbered.  The little man has shed many of his comfort objects, seemingly overnight, and we are all slowly waking from a state of hibernation.

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Winter brought us just enough snow to remind us to play, but not so much to weigh us down.
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And the beauty of this place still takes my breath away when I least expect it.
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A couple of weeks ago, we said goodbye to my brother, after an extended stop in his own journey. He brought with him much lightness and levity, and I hope we can keep just a little of that brightness with us here.
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After all, spring is here, just about to burst. Any. Minute. Now.
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Separation Chronicles: Moving with Kids

The day we told our kids we were moving into two houses, my oldest had just one question: is it going to be fun? Of course, the answer had to be yes! But moving can be stressful even when your whole world isn’t changing. And moving into two houses can also feel like a loss. So how do you keep it fun?

Here are my tips for surviving with your sanity intact:

This one is for you, and is the most important: you will stay sane if and only if you take care of yourself. Need help in the self care department? yes, you do. You are not made of rock and sorting through the physical artifacts of your marriage sucks. It will be hard. Get a moving buddy! I cannot stress enough how important this is. I was lucky (incredibly, amazingly lucky) to have my brother to help me with both our yard sale and with packing. Your moving buddy can help by telling you that no, you don’t need to keep that incredibly charged item, and by making sure you eat and nourish yourself during the pack. You will need this. It will save you.
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Now what about the kids? Here are some things that worked for me:

1. Make the kids feel involved: set aside time in your pack and prep schedule to have them pack up some of their things, choose some things to donate or sell. These activities will take longer than when you do it yourself, but will help them understand and cope with the move.
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2. While packing, keep a kid-safe space free from chaos in your home, where they can rest and play.
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3. Label everything! write on the outside of the boxes, not just “toys” or “books” but be specific: then when you want to find the legos and magnatiles in a sea of cardboard, they’ll be easy to find.

4. At your new home, first things first, set up the kid’s sleeping and play space so they have things to do while you get your place sorted. (Here I’ve put up some temporary shelves with a few toys and books. They have a place to sit and play away from the chaos in the rest of the house.)
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5. Embrace chaos! your house will be messy during this transition. Accept it and move on. Let them explore the new place and make it their own!
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6. When all else fails, take a break! Find a place to refresh and recharge.
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And keep this with you: soon all this chaos will end. This is temporary madness. On the other side, you will have a space of your own! As I sit here, only a month after moving into my own, I feel such an incredible sense of space and peace, that five weeks ago I could barely imagine. That will soon be yours.

This Is Not What It Seems

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The children in this picture are unaware.  They are filled with promise.  It’s an early spring evening, one of the first warm ones of the year.  The air is sweet with the scent of newly opened buds.  We are at the playground just a little longer than we should be as evening draws near.  They are full of joy, and laughter, and openness.

What they are unaware of, is that in eight short weeks, their life will change forever.  They will leave the small, cozy apartment they’ve lived in for the past three years, and board a plane headed several states over, and when they land, it will be into a very different world: a world where they have two separate families.

Six months earlier, during one of those conversations husbands and wives have, I asked their father what kind of a life he wanted for himself, and for us, as a family.  His answer sent shockwaves: “I don’t know, but I don’t want it to be with you.”  It hung there in the air, the fault lines immediately forming.

I can’t say I was completely surprised.  For a long time, something felt wrong, and I just couldn’t put my finger on it.  But I always assumed, whatever it was, we would face it and fight it together.  That night, I began to realize that what I was trying to hold on to was not there.

What followed was quite surprising: there was, of course, hurt, rejection, and anger.  But we still had something together: a strong commitment to the lives of two young boys.  Somehow, through all the strong feelings, I decided to focus forward, on creating the life I wanted for me and the boys.  And most surprising of all, to put aside strong feelings temporarily, and with the help of a very kind therapist, continue to live with the man who wanted to leave me. To continue to share a home with him for seven months.

To say it’s been an easy journey would be false.  Its taken levels of restraint and acceptance I never knew I was capable of.  An incredibly supportive and discreet small group of family and friends created the backbone without which this would not have been possible.  But as spring fully takes hold in these parts, with five months behind me, and two short ones to follow, optimism is starting to occupy more and more space.

This journal has been an intermittent place for me to chronicle my creative and family life.  I’ve always tried to keep it positive (perhaps that is why there are so few posts-it’s hard to positively chronicle unease.)  But I’m going to allow myself to chronicle this new journey here.  There have been many folks online whose inspiring lives and stories have been a comfort for me in this time, and maybe this story will someday bring comfort to someone else.

There are fifty-seven days left in this leg of the journey. On the other end of those fifty-seven days is a horizon filled with what I hope is endless possibility.  There is a community that has already been so surprisingly welcoming, open, and supportive, that their love buoys me on those dark days that do still come.

And there are two boys, filled with joy, and open hearts.

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Letting in Spring!

Fickle friend Spring has been slow in coming this year to this northern spot. Only 2 weeks ago, I was grreted by a snowy scene as I waited on a train:
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but just days after our first ritual spring feast

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(let’s see if you can spot and identify our Passover lamb shank replacement:-)

the sun started poking out, as we readied for another celebration (once again, legos make an appearance, this time supervising prep for the easter bunny)
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and just like that, Spring arrived, slowly peeking in…

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