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Happy Valentine’s Day

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Pace Yourself

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A new day and a new year! The morning rang in the new year with giggles from the girls beginning to make me breakfast. Together we make cinnamon raison french toast while listening to Paloma say the alphabet over and over. The simply sweet sounds of breakfast. Clinks from our glasses of orange juice as little Paloma cheers in the New Year and yells “Mazel Tav!” she adds a quick, “What ever that means.” Laughter fills the table. I quickly look the definition up and think, “How appropriate!”    

((This month’s goal… Pace Yourself

As life speeds up, it’s tempting to run faster, accomplish more. This does little, however, but strip your gears and deplete your resources. This month, try the opposite: Slow down. Breath. Remember the pleasure of doing – and enjoying one thing at a time. After all , you don’t reach worthwhile goals in a flurry of movement, but through single-minded focus and a quiet, patient resolve. 
By Terri Trespicio))

Growth

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ImageI’m scared when I sit to think how quickly life is flying by. My girls are quickly growing up… 9 and 6yrs old. Not babies anymore. Each moment counts and I still seem to rush the days on by. I’m scared to grow up, I’m still searching what I want to do or be when I grow up… If I grow up at that. I’m scared to have love but even more scared to not have love. Will I choose and long for another? I’m sure at times. Love is so different but so giving and abundant. It grows, it changes, it fades & returns, it deepens, it longs, it sacrifices and builds, it lets go…

Remember to Take a Moment

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ImageMy body slowly wakes to the deep aroma of brewing coffee and the low sweet voice of Hope Sandoval singing. Both my little girls at some point in the night had crawled into bed with me and even tho the coffee beckons me we stay cradled in mounds of down comforters. I cuddle up next to them for the last few minutes before I get to begin my day. Still pitch dark out and cold, I wrap my soft blue robe around my shivering body, quickly open the side door to smell the rain. It’s been pissing rain for over a week now and I love it!! Sierra had gotten up earlier, before returning back to sleep, to start the coffee and boil the eggs for our breakfast. The breakfast shake is my responsibility…. Raspberries, blueberries, banana, strawberries, frozen apricots, nuts of all sorts, flax seeds, plain yogurt, chia seeds, super green powder and water. I begin the blender and the noise awakes the two sleepy heads. Sierra tired and quiet begins to get dressed. Paloma tired and grouchy (to put it nicely) attempts to get dressed but falls to the temptation of sleep, standing up. All this is a typical morning mixed with laughter, whines, smiles, tears and moments of complete gratefulness. As I rush the girls out the door I catch a glimpse of what little Paloma wrote in her daily notebook.

“Paloma and Sierra went on a journey.”

Three Cheers for Us

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Do not be duped by their sweetness.

Do not be duped by their sweetness.

Yesterday I posted a short piece about how much I enjoy being friends with my spouse and the importance of finding the humor in a long term relationship.  So in the interest of balanced representation here, I think it’s only fair that tonight’s brief reflection be – how shall we say – a little less glowing of our counterparts.

Note to men, or masculine partners anywhere… Or for that matter, note to half of couple who is NOT the person at home with children most of the time.

When I say, “Oh my freaking [insert appropriate deity’s name to take in vain here], it has been the longest day and I am flipping exhausted because I never get a moment OFF to just be myself…” 

When I say that, that is your cue to tell me I am amazing and you deeply admire and respect my Herculean ability to balance so many obligations and full time work and child rearing (et cetera ad nauseum) with such grace and poise and fabulous hair.  DO NOT, under any circumstances, try and commiserate and say that you “know exactly what I mean.”  I’m sorry… did you pick up two children after a day packed with meetings, go to the grocery store, and lug a baby carrier and 40 pounds of groceries in kitten heels and dress pants despite the 7 year old begging for toxic colored 100% preservative-infused non recyclable jello cups and the purse bonking into the baby’s head every step because the strap annoyingly fell onto your already over weighted forearm?  No, I don’t think you did.  And you didn’t put two children to sleep after reading THE SAME FREAKING BEDTIME BOOK with a smile and a cuddle and then just strip off the flipping dress pants and throw them straight into the washer because they’re spattered in organic blended quinoa and winter squash which may or may not also be in your hair, and then go straight to the computer to meet a grant deadline.  No.  No, you and I did not have the same kind of day, my love.

Now the fun part of this (because long term relationships should be fun, right?) is your spouse will sense your mood shift.  It’s their natural survival instinct kicking in.  And they will chalk it up to you being “moody.”  Yes.  It will be written off as one of those – dare we say – bitchy female moments and being the loving partner they are, they’ll “forgive you.” Aren’t you glad?

I remember my mother telling me a story about once – when she was where I am now – shutting the door behind her to use the restroom.  She described the sensation of finding incredible bliss for the simple fact that she was alone. And then, like a predictable horror film, the purity of this moment was shattered by little fingers (mine and my brother’s) reaching under the bathroom door silently.  Apparently just to be near her.  I don’t remember.  But I did call my mother from the bathroom once and apologize.  And you should too.

So here’s my three cheers to you!  To anyone – mom or dad – who is the parent on active duty.  Because I too have clipped the fingernails of sleeping babies holding a cell phone in my mouth as a flashlight.  I too have made a one-armed batch of boxed macaroni with a baby on one hip, a bill collector on the cell pinned between my cheek and shoulder,  and checked 2nd grade math homework. And I too have perfected the I-am-having-a-professional-conversation-with-an-adult-and-so-help-me-god-if-I-have-to-pause-longer-than-this-millisecond-eye-contact-to-speak-to-you-you-will-never-see-television-or-popsicles-again-and-will-eat-every-ounce-of-bread-crust-until-I-release-you-from-your-indentured-childhood mother “look”. You know the one.

So smile.  Because even though those moments only seem to happen when you’re the lone adult on duty, you’re not alone.  You’re a freaking superhero.

Jekyll & Hide

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So we’re still figuring out this blogging thing, and I think I’ve figured out how Gen & I can post as ourselves, writing for Benir Vida, rather than posting just as Benir.  This is my first go at it.  And I thought, what shall I post on to see if I’ve set this up correctly?

Me and baby and contacts...

Me and baby and contacts…

How about I post on… this moment.  It’s half past midnight here in Utah.  My children are asleep (if you can call my daughter rolling and kicking the other side of my office wall “sleep”).  And me?  I’m eating a bowl of ice cream in my glasses.  It’s furnace season here at elevation and my contacts are suffering from the dry air.  (They were, after all, bought in Florida where it’s much more humid.)

Lots of people wear glasses.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of.  But few people have glasses that enlarge their eyeballs quite like mine do.  And it’s a shame, because irises – if you’ve seen them magnified to 300% – are quite beautiful.  For example, Emma Thompson’s recognizable visage from the Harry Potter films was obviously crafted by someone who had the fortune of spying me while I was soaking my Floridian contacts.

Joking aside, my husband has always teased me about being the little girl with “coke-bottle glasses”.  The phrase “ugly duckling” might have escaped his lips on one or twenty occasions.  And certainly when we started dating I wouldn’t have been caught dead in my glasses.  I would hide in the bathroom.  Much better to fumble into bed blind and spend an hour and half staring in the general direction of the laptop showing a bedtime film.  You can hear the dialogue perfectly, and develop appreciation for the blind all while looking fabulous in bed to your mate.

The face that inspired Emma's look...

The face that inspired Emma’s look…

But I’ve been married a long time and everyone knows you’re supposed to let yourself go after a while.  Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, we can keep it posh in public and go to hell in a hand basket at home.  And why shouldn’t we?  If you can’t let your hair down (and your contacts soak) in front of your partner, you need to work on being better friends with your spouse.  Nowadays I actually look forward to the grunt of unanticipated amusement I get from my husband when I trot downstairs for an evening cup of tea looking like Sybil Trelawney.

Let’s face it.  No one is sexy forever.  So you damn well better be funny.

On Island Time

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AIpanoSo despite having launched a fledgling blog which I presume requires tending, Genevieve and I quickly took a little time off from posting. We could – without any exaggerations – blame it on stomach flu, which started with me as a suspected case of food poisoning and quickly spread though our two families like the plague.  But the truth is actually that we both spent a couple weeks on island time.

Being from the Florida coast myself, island time is not a novel idea.  Anyone who’s spent a few weeks listening to Jimmy Buffet while nursing a sunburn and wandering through an aisle devoted entirely to blow up rafts of varying cetaceans and large reptiles while searching for margarita mix and popsicles understands the restorative effect of some saltwater and a little time off.

Alas, I am now in Utah.  And so having reached a point of desperation for the smell of brackish water and an offshore breeze, I had pretty much resigned myself to holding out until our winter holiday to Florida.  But I was in store for a much more immediate fix.  A local pointed me towards Antelope Island – a narrow mountainous island in the Great Salt Lake, attached to the mainland by a thin causeway.  Having visited once, I’m hooked.  Of course these beaches are populated mostly by brine shrimp (the largest organism living in the Salt Lake), and this time of year you can best enjoy the vistas in a wool sweater and long johns.  But who am I to judge?!  We don’t get this kind of rugged elevation in Florida!

I invited a friend from Melbourne, Australia, with whom I work on the BLUE Ocean Film Festival, out for Thanksgiving.  He took me up on the offer, and turns out we all had a lovely time taking a little time away, soaking up some salt.

Here are few pictures of our fun, and a nod to Utah’s best kept secret.

Paul from Melbourne.  He's mostly house trained.

Paul from Melbourne. He’s mostly house trained.

Ru & Ronan

Ru & Ronan

Climbing bum...

Climbing bum…

Naked bums...

Naked bums…

PaulpanoSummitG&PAIsunset

The morning cup

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ImageWoke with a hunger to be held. So I wrap my hands around a steaming cup of tea. Sometimes a run shakes the life back into me. I quickly pull on warm running clothes, tie up my shoes and fly out the back door. Flying past cars, dodging piles of dog shit, through heaps of fallen leaves and then slipping on a sheet of ice. As I roll a bit down the hill I laugh wishing someone could have seen my epic fall as I stand up as if on ice skates. Ending up at the bridge over an almost dried out river for the winter. The last bits of the Logan River flowing over rocks of moss and one last lonely duck, not sure what to do. Hmmm me too. While I sit comtemplating my next move I thought of the past year, the past morning, the minutes before now. Through my life I have had a hard time separateing the past, present and future. They seem to blend into one, which brings me to the present moment each time. People pass through my mind as music plays thru earphones on my ipod. A different song for each person. Missing moments, times to share but grateful for the memories. I stand up, bid a thank you to the calmness of the water, turn around and slowly run up the hill, time to get Paloma to head off to piano lessons. Some days seem monotonous. I guess days like these I am grateful for the daily routines I get to share with my daughters and myself. Sometimes I wish I had a lover or a husband or a best friend to bring me that cup of tea.

“If I pour your cup, that is friendship
If I add your milk, that is manners
If I stop there, claiming ignorance of taste,
That is tea

But if I measure the sugar
To satisfy your expectant tongue
Then that is love,
But if I measure the sugar
To satisfy your expectant tongue
Then that is love,
Sitting untouched and growing cold”

-Cowboy Junkies

Earl Grey and Salsa Verde

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The weekend was saturated in wet snow that fell in soaking clumps from tree branches, froze to the last of the golden fall leaves, and seeped into socks that smelled faintly of furnaces fresh out of hibernation.  It was the kind of weekend that beckons you to stay indoors, admiring the gray sky from behind a hot mug.

Genevieve has the best house for just such a day.  Her downstairs apartment in a quirky art deco era house has large picture windows with beveled glass trim that makes tiny rainbows of whatever weak traces of winter sunshine manage to eek their way in.  She has a lifestyle to match.  Potted plants adorn most flat surfaces.  She keeps heirloom tomatoes in ceramic bowls like centerpieces.  There are entire compartments in her refrigerator dedicated to delicacies – one for fine cheeses, one for assorted chocolates.  There is always a jar or two of stuffed olives.  And she keeps tiny jars of every shape and size all over the house filled with every imaginable type of nut and spice, like exotic denizens of some embassy.  Her pantry is like a model U.N.

This past weekend we had managed to lose our older children.  Genevieve’s spent the night at a friend’s house.  Mine was tied up with rehearsal for the regional civic ballet’s upcoming run of The Nutcracker.  And so we spent a mostly quiet day with just the baby, a bowl of tomatillos and a mocha pot.

Peeling tomatillos is a perfect job for little hands that want to help.  I haven’t met a child who wasn’t fascinated by picking up something that looks and sounds like dried leaves and crumbling it all away to reveal something very much like a perfect green or purple tomato.  I am a big believer that there is always something for a child to do in the kitchen.  Genevieve’s Paloma is the queen of spices and will – for someone who is five going on eighty – put quite a lot of thought into selecting whatever she deems to be the perfect blend.  My Gwynn will slice and dice all day given a cutting board and a not-too-sharp knife.  This isn’t done without supervision, but given reminders that thumbs are great things to keep, she’ll carefully do any required cutting.

Genevieve’s tomatillos were roasted, along with a few tomatoes, jalapenos, and onions, drizzled with a little olive oil, salt and pepper, until they were soft and the skins had begun to blacken.  While we waited we sterilized jars for her batch of salsa verde, made fresh pots of coffee and ate a lunch of quesadillas made with goat cheese, brie and peppercorn parmesan.  Before I had to leave to pick up my ballerina Gen made a cup of tea from her favorite aged Earl Grey.  To me it smells a little too much like perfume to want to drink it, though I enjoy the aroma.  But for Genevieve it is perfect for a cold afternoon cooking spicy food in the kitchen.

Because Ronan was the center of attention that afternoon he was pampered all day, kept full on roasted winter squash.  Genevieve shared spoonfuls of Earl Grey tea, which he quickly warmed to, grunting and kicking his little legs for more and smiling each time she refilled the spoon.  I think too often childhood tastes like boxed macaroni and french fries, and watching Ronan, eager to slurp up Genevieve’s tea, I was reminded that we have the pleasure of making childhood taste like whatever we want for our own brood. My grandmother used to make me tiny cups of coffee sweetened with sugar and cream, and we’d stoically share our morning java over newspapers I couldn’t read whenever I visited her house.  I watched Genevieve and wondered if one day Ronan will sip a cup of Earl Grey and think it tastes like nostalgia… like a morning he can’t begin to remember but warms much more than his hands and mouth.