Robin Fly

I grabbed the Economist out of the mail today and flipped quickly to the obituary, like I usually do, and wondered who would be the subject next week, next month.  Who is alive right now who will not be when I next pull the Economist out of the mailbox?  Like I usually do.


Craig is curled and heavy my arms.   I was rocking him in the glider in my bedroom, pinning his flailing arms and legs, shoving a pacifier in his squawking mouth, squeezing him into submission until his immature nervous system finally stopped firing out random signals and let his heaving bucking limbs relax.  So now he is relaxed.  I run my thumb across his forehead, smoothing.  His sleeping mouth sucks at the paci.  His sleeping hand clutches at my shirt.  Tucked in.


Robin Williams committed suicide today.  Since everything is a circle that all winds back around to my children, I think about depression and addiction and a mind that goes so quickly, the chattering streaming monologue, and how relieved I was to hear that Mr. Williams’s mother Laurie preceded him in death.  I think also about how little the public will care when I die.  It will not be like the way we all collectively gasped at the loss of Mr. Williams, and Mr. Hoffman before him.  And I wonder which I’d want for my children.  A plodding, quiet, uneventful life of contentment, or the mad loneliness that seems inevitably to accompany the mad artistic gift – beloved by the world and yet walled off from it.

People on facebook are talking about sadness, but I know depression isn’t sadness, but blankness.  Depression is absence.  Addictive substances are hole-fillers, putting something where there is nothing, and almost always the Nothing swallows up the Something and then the gravitational pull of the twin diseases cannot be escaped, even by a mind running so manically, frantically as his.  Outrun.

A couple of days ago we were disciplining our oldest for getting in the baby’s face and trying too roughly to make him laugh, again and again and again, too too many times.  And at first he was defiant as we lectured, but eventually he broke and his face split open and in a vale of tears he wailed “But I just love him so much, I just love his smiles, he’s so little and cute and I just want to make him smile.”  And I loved my oldest boy so keenly in that second, I almost couldn’t bear it, so my face split open and through a vale of tears I wailed “I think the same thing about yoooooouuuuu.”

I’m not sure what these things have to do with one another, except that I think there is a fine line between a vale of bittersweet tears and a set of blank dry eyes . . . between feeling keenly the pain of the human condition and feeling nothing in the face of it.  We humans, each standing inevitably alone.  We reach and reach for each other, grasp each others’ hands sometimes and sometimes not quite making contact but always reaching toward each other, except sometimes a loved one stops reaching and your hands claw through empty air and you want your arms to grow long enough to cover your wingspan and the loved one’s, too, but you can’t.  Your reach goes as far as it goes, and no farther, and if they won’t reach back . . . you feel sadness and they feel blankness and though to outsiders those emotions probably look the same the distinction between the two is vital, literally.  So maybe the difference between sadness and blankness is all in the reach.

His manic, crazy, genius mind.  I read an article recently that said there is some scientific theory, some potential actual physical proof that human consciousness continues beyond the death of the body, into some plane of existence we cannot comprehend.  I hope that if it’s true, the heavy blankness is left behind, leaving only the lightness and energy that we all loved him for.  I imagine him, lighter now, lifting like a helium balloon, like a bubble, like a bird with air under its wings. Up up up and out of sight, and his family below, arms outstretched, a vale of tears, reaching.  I just love him so much, I just want to make him smile.  He made us all smile, he dimmed the pain of the human condition for millions.  Blessings be on his immortal soul, now and forever amen.

Posted in Navel Gazing (and I Don't Mean Oranges) | 3 Comments

MILP Roundup # 358 – Naming the Baby

The weekly Mothers In the Legal Profession Roundup is hosted on a rotating basis at the Butterflyfish, Grace, BJJ, Law, and Living, Mommy and the Sin City, Magic Cookie, The Reluctant Grownup, and Perspectives of a Hard Boiled Egg blogs.

This edition of the Roundup covers posts from July 28 – August 3.

We MILPs, we are a fecund, fertile group.  At any given time about 20% of us are pregnant, and this week three lovely ladies in this list are brainstorming names for the wee darling little parasites fetuses that shall be joining the growing posse of MILP-offspring very soon.  So, in order to help ya’ll out, I pulled some baby-naming instructions off the interwebs.  This week’s theme is Naming The Baby.  (And please, my dears, for the love of god, don’t do this to your child.)

**all bold italic quotes taken from here.

How your baby’s name sounds when it’s said aloud is one of the most essential things to think about. Is it melodious? Harsh? Does it go well with your last name?

I personally think Tenders Wonderland is a pretty darn melodious name, myself.

An unusual name has the advantage of making the bearer stand out from the crowd.

I’ve always thought “Vue” was a weird name for a car, but am still sorry to see QH’s Vue kick it, even if it is “just a car.”  Chin up, QH, you are a coping superstar and we are all cheering for you to get through this latest roadblock.

And never let anyone pressure you into a name you don’t like.

This may be a problem for FOTD, since either her or her husband are going to have to give in!  (HINT HINT IT’S HIM AND WE ALL KNOW IT BUT YOU CAN LET HIM THINK OTHERWISE FOR A LITTLE WHILE).

Take ideas graciously, but don’t tell anyone what you and your partner have decided until after the baby is born — when it’s too late to give in to any subtle hints.

Although I agree with Frenchie that it’s ok to share the name you’ve picked once you’re fully sold on it, given the response she’s getting to her (lovely) chosen name, perhaps she and I are wrong and should have followed this advice!  That said, she did get some good help with buying a family car - we have a Pilot also, and love it!

Many parents choose to name their babies after a grandparent, other relative, or close friend.

FOTD (in her second post of the week) heads to family reunion, continues to take pregnancy completely in stride.  Meanwhile, Daisy JD also has a vacation with family, then sets up the virtual vacay slideshow and offers us a glimpse of her fun week, followed by some meal planning at home.

Keep a list of favorite names handy so you can add to it whenever a name pops into your head.

But I Do titles this post with just such a list . . . a terrible, terrible list, what we call in the law “the parade of horribles.”  But I Do . . . I hope you survived that crazy day!

The derivation of your baby’s name is something you may want to think about.

I’m not sure what “Cora” means, but based on the pix in Lag Liv’s latest post, it’s probably something along the lines of FREAKING ADORABLE.

Be aware of what your child’s initials spell.

I suspect that neither Kate nor the rest of us MILPs would ever want to accidentally give a child the initials MPRE – too many bad memories!


Perfect Yellow Yolk posts a lovely poem that inspired the theme of Naming the Baby.  Go read it.  Gives me chills, and the very teeny tiniest bit of sadness that it is something I will never do again.

And in closing, I will post my own poem – not one I wrote, but one I was introduced to shortly after Craig was born, and which still makes me tear up when I read it.

Thirty-Six Weeks, by Emily Grosholz
Ringed like a tree or planet, I’ve begun
to feel encompassing,
and so must seem to my inhabitant
who wakes and sleeps in me, and has his being,
who’d like to go out walking after supper
although he never leaves the dining room,
timid, insouciant, dancing on the ceiling.
I’m his roof, his walls, his musty cellar,
lined with untapped bottles of blue wine.
His beach, his seashell combers
tuned to the minor tides of my placenta,
wound in the single chamber of my whorl.
His park, a veiny meadow
plumped and watered for his ruminations,
a friendly climate, sun and rain combined
in one warm season underneath my heart.
Beyond my infinite dark sphere of flesh
and fluid, he can hear two voices talking:
his mother’s alto and his father’s tenor
aligned in conversation.
Two distant voices, singing beyond the pillars
of his archaic Mediterranean,
reminding him to dream
the emerald outness of a brave new world.
Sail, little craft, at your appointed hour,
your head the prow, your lungs the sails
and engine, belly the seaworthy nave,
and see me face to face:
No world, no palace, no Egyptian goddess
starred over heaven’s poles,
only your pale, impatient, opened mother
reaching to touch you after the long wait.
Only one of two, beside your father,
speaking a language soon to be your own.
And strangely, brightly clouding out behind us,
at last you’ll recognize
the greater earth you used to take me for,
ocean of air and orbit of the skies.


Posted in Categorizing Things is Overrated, MILP Roundups | 4 Comments

Slice of Life

Liam-isms. Observing Jack drawing a picture: Why Jack,  you’ve outdone yourself!  Waiting for Jack to cross the road and join him on a sidewalk during a family walk: You’d better get over here toot sweet, buddy!

I wonder where these turns of phrase come from, until later in the week I am watching Wreck It Ralph, and hear Ralph telling Vanellope something about crossing the road toot sweet.  Ah. There it is.

My Future Grandchildren.  The kids were discussing their future adult lives with their dad – all the things they will have and do.  Jack says he will have three kids, and name them Jackson, Bomber, and Pretty Unicorn.  Liam says he will name his future kid after me.  I could see that.  Of all my boys, I could see Liam doing that.  It’s a kind of distant way of showing closeness, if that makes any sense at all.  Jack wouldn’t name a kid after me – he’ll just call me all the time.  Liam will travel the world, far and wide, contacting us when he gets a minute here or there.  But if he has a daughter he’ll name her after me just as a little way to keep me close.

Eh, maybe not.  I just like to think about it, sometimes.  Who they are becoming.

A Lovely Chat.  I get home from work today at a bit after six, as usual.  When I walk in, the husband hands me the baby and heads right out to mow the lawn before the light is gone.  (Yes, the lawn needs mowed.  Also, the husband – primary caregiver in the summertime – needs a few minutes outside.)  I have a quick meal to make from scratch, with a baby in one arm and the older boys circling me, talking all at once.  Jack asks: “Hey.  So you wanna sit on the porch with a cold drink and, like, chat about our day?”  (He’s peppering his speech with “like” a lot these days, and I wonder where he gets it.)  I almost say no, but then I think HOLD UP THIS IS WHERE LIFE HAPPENS, YO, and so I say yes.  Let me just make this super fast and get it in the oven, and then we’ll all sit on the porch with our cold drinks.

While I make some black bean enchiladas (a diversion from my original plan of turkey cutlets in tomato cream sauce, a slightly more involved dish), the boys gather some camp chairs, pour themselves drinks, pull some “appetizers” out of the pantry (Triscuits and Tostitos), and go sit on the porch and wait for me to join them.  I throw together the quickest darn enchiladas you ever did eat, then throw them in the oven and go sit, Craig in my lap.  We enjoy our cold drinks and “tasty snacks.”  We talk about our day, the sound of the lawnmower in the background.  I am glad.

After bathing the baby, the Professor takes the bigger boys to the shower.  I carry the sweet smelling Littlest out onto the front porch, porch ceiling fans whirring.  I rock him a rocking chair, nursing, and watch the sunset as he falls asleep in my arms.

Posted in Alabama, Domestic Bliss, Jack, Liam, Tex | 1 Comment

Sunday Morning Meal Planning

A rare morning that Liam has not drifted down the stairs at 5:30 am to cuddle with us, and so of course I’m up at that time anyway.  Craig is nestled in with me – he cried for me at 4-something and I fed him and then let him stay.  This tends to happen to us – I’ll nurse him on my side and we’ll drift to sleep together, and then I’ll wake an hour later with him snuggled happily up into my armpit.  I can confidently say he is the only human in the world who enjoys being tucked up in there.  My little monkey, my little best friend.

I pick my way delicately out of the bed without waking him, fetch a glass of ice water, sit on the living room chair with a favorite old book for a minute, then remember the laundry needs doing, the week’s meals need planning, I’d better water the ferns on the porch so they can fortify themselves with H2O before the heat of the day sets in . . . sigh.  The running commentary, the nagging internal Honey Do List.  It never leaves me.  I water the plants.  I start the laundry.  I settle back into the chair, ready to plan a week of meals, write up a grocery list, buy it all and put it all away and make some of it ahead of time.  Life just churns ahead, doesn’t it?  Once again I wish for the English 6-weeks’-vacation cultural norm, just to get off this train for a couple of days and not have it all be so urgent.  I haven’t read a book, or exercised beyond a shuffling short weekend morning run, in sooooo long.

But.  Best not wallow.  Could be worse, could be better.  We spent this past Friday night in NOLA, moving the Professor’s offices in the afternoon and spending the evening with friends, then sleeping in his tiny (seriously tiny – maybe 200 sf?) apartment, all up in each others’ business.  I pretty much nursed the baby constantly all night so that he wouldn’t disturb anyone else with even a whimper – dealing with him through the wee hours is trouble enough, but if he’d woken the boys and they were grumpy and whining, I’d have lost my mind.

On Saturday morning we went swimming together in the apartment pool, then drove home to Alabama.  In the afternoon I tried unsuccessfully to relax a bit while the children pestered me and the Professor mowed the lawn.  We had leftovers for dinner, then I fell asleep on the couch shortly after the kids went to bed, exhausted, as always, after so many nights in a row of poor sleep.  I’m kind of tired of straggling through the day with this poorly working body, I have to say.

The older kids and husband will be taking a week’s vacation just before school starts, heading to the Professor’s hometown to visit friends and family.  I, as usual, have to stay here and work, but I’m hoping to use that week as an opportunity to kick-start a new period of self-care.  My little self has had very little care of late – the kids take it all, everything I’ve got left over once work has had its fill.  And an almost-36-year-old body needs attention to keep itself running smoothly.   I am thinking of starting the day swimming laps each morning that week.  I’ve never been good at keeping up a swimming routine, but I think I could do a week of it, especially since there is a nice pool in my building, and a nice locker room area (really the locker room of the spa) where I could dry my hair and get ready.  After the boys return, first grade begins!  We will have to start getting up at 5 am again to get Jack on the bus in time.  I’m not going to be able to maintain such a crushing morning schedule unless I pull myself together somewhat, and do something about this constant burning low back pain.

So here’s my plan – when the boys are gone, I’ll start the week with a massage and a haircut.  I’ll swim every morning before work – it’s my last week of summertime straggling into work late and I won’t feel guilty about it.  Since I’m getting a much-needed haircut (and I’m going to chop a significant amount off, because my hair is ridiculously long right now), it won’t take so long to dry it before work.  At night, after I put the little one to bed, I will do five minutes of yoga/meditation before putting my feet up with a glass of wine.  It can be longer, but it has to be at least five minutes to earn that nightly wine.  I am actually really looking forward to this.  I think it’s a fun “kick-off” week.  I’m not pregnant anymore, and I’m far enough post partum that I can start taking care of me again – I just have to carve out the time to do it.

The next week, when we start first grade/getting on the bus at the crack of dawn, I’ll be getting into work so much earlier, I’ll be able to spare a lunchtime workout again.  That can be swimming or heading to the gym – both are across the street and easy.  They have yoga classes and pilates classes, in addition to all the normal treadmills and such.  I was doing this regularly before the pregnancy derailed it – it’s time to jump back in.  HEALTH!  WOO!

Everybody’s up now and we are moving on with the day.  More swimming at the pool this morning, followed by turkey burgers on the grill, and then an evening baseball game.  A perfect summer day.  Quickly, here are the week’s meals, which is what I sat down here to do in the first place:

Today: Turkey burgers prepared by the husband, fried green tomatoes over basil goat cheese grits  for lunch, and food at the baseball stadium for dinner

Monday: Pasta with jarred sauce and zucchini chunks, salad, bread

Tuesday: Asian Cobb salad – looks really fresh and good for summer

Wednesday: Creamy caprese quinoa bake

Thursday: Chicken soft tacos, salad

Friday: Chicken korma over rice (I cheat and use jarred sauce), broccoli

Posted in Domestic Bliss, Navel Gazing (and I Don't Mean Oranges), New Orleans | 2 Comments

Friday Rain

Although I remain covered up with work, I was able to jet out a touch early today, arriving home before 5pm.  I drove through a wild summer storm, hazard lights blinking click click click, the sky dark as night, going 30 mph and blinded by the driving rain.  Upon reaching my own home driveway, I dashed from car to garage, then hopped up into the house, one step at a time, to greet the boys I hadn’t seen but maybe a max of twenty minutes on each working day this month.

It had been a quiet day – no emergencies, few emails, just a steady, solid nine productive hours.  I cannot remember a single workday since I have returned that had no emergencies.  Today was vital, and vitalizing.  If I have another one like it I might just – gasp – manage to get to the gym again.

Meanwhile, I have just a few moments before Jack and his dad return from a birthday party.  I have put the younger two to bed, drunk my one glass of red wine, and now I’m on the couch and the house is quiet.  The dog waits by the door.  The windows are steamed from the humid summer rain.

We’ve had some summer activities, and it would be nice if one day soon I get to go back and post a few pictures, give a more complete update.  But for now, a few snippets of the past few weeks:

  • A week vacation at a beach condo with the Professor’s family, a trip which will always be know (by me anyway) as The One With The Waterslides.  I work long hours the first few days, drive the longer commute from work to the beach so I can at least sleep with the family.  Late in the week I finally get my turn to join them for an afternoon.  Clad in my Popina one-piece, I sit at the top of the ladder, plant a child between my knees (probably Liam), push off and weeeeeeee down the twists and turns.  It is too soon after having the baby –  after the third run, I feel my pelvic bones diverge in all directions upon impact with the water.  I am held together by loosey goosey rubber bands, my ligaments have given up the ghost.  It’s been weeks and I’m still not right, I tell you.
  • Crab and ricotta stuffed shells.  Company chicken.  Grilled snapper fillets as big as your thigh.  Kids on benches at the kitchen peninsula, parents at the large round table.  Out our living room wall of windows, we see boats on the sound, some anchored near the sandbar.  Commercial fishermen in the first light of morning.
  • One day I am on the porch, taking a work call, and a cell phone falls from the sky above me, bounces off our balcony railing just inches from my ear, tumbles to the ground four floors below.  Its teenaged owner thumps down the many floors from his room to the ground below, gathers up the pieces, hooting raucously at his mistake.  His reaction makes clear it is not a mistake he will have to pay for himself.  I spend the rest of the week looking above me nervously.
  •  An afternoon at the lazy river with my sweetie and me, while the kids snooze back in the condo.
  • We all pack up and drive home, them much farther than we.  On our way we stop for breakfast.  The waitress has a Star Wars apron on.  The boys eat pancakes, the baby sleeps soundly in his car seat on the floor, tucked under the table by the wall.  Then we come home, launder clothes, prepare for the week, which comes too quickly.
  • Ah, but that week is short, and on Thursday we find ourselves driving to the pet-friendly hotel in Birmingham where we have stayed a dozen times at least, on our way up to Nashville.  The boys are wired, but eventually fall asleep, the pair of them tucked into a queen bed.  The baby sleeps in his Pack and Play without a sheet.  I sleep fitfully with all of them in the room, and the morning of the Fourth of July comes early.
  • A long weekend in Nashville.  Fourth fireworks from the mall parking lot, where we tailgate, spread out blankets and beach towels on the very hard asphalt and eat fried chicken and various picnic salads.  It is chillier than we were expecting – by the end of the night, most of the women are wrapped in the beach towels.  When the fireworks come, the boys react in their different ways.  Craig doesn’t much notice, but gets passed from one set of arms to another.  Liam deals with his nervousness about the booms by ignoring them, pretending they are not happening, playing games instead.  Jack begins to flip and I can see him winding up for a freakout.  We get him some ear plugs.  He burrows into me.  I wrap him in a blanket and tell him he can leave any time, we can go sit in the car and not look.  “I’m scared.  I want to look.”  We end up staying.  He is tense, cannot relax, but also in control of the situation (he is permitted to leave and chooses to stay) and that somehow allows him to retain control of himself.  Little by little he is practicing, learning to deal with sensory overload.  “Look, a heart!  I love the heart.  Mom, I’m afraid they’re going to fly at my face and burn me.  I don’t like the noise.  Oh, that looks like gold falling from the sky.  Please don’t let it burn me.”  “Do you want to go in the car?  I’ll go with you.”  “No.  I know it won’t burn me but I’m still afraid.”  He watches them all.  I’ll never forget having him tucked in there, watching the fireworks cheek to cheek.
  • He does not do so well with the dinosaurs exhibit at the zoo the next day.  Two years ago we saw this same exhibit at the zoo, and the same thing happened – the first one is awesome and amazing and fun, but the second and the third and all the rest lined up along the path make him lose it.  Unlike the fireworks, with the dinosaurs he is not able to keep ahead of the fears, and my sister basically jogs through the exhibit with 60lb Jack climbing her like a tree, trying to look all directions at once to protect himself from dinosaurs that he knows are not real.  But . . . he enjoys the elephants, and giraffes, and monkeys and such.  It is a fun trip to the zoo, all in all.
  • We play games, of both the video and board variety.  The boys build a racetrack that extends from the banister of the top stair down through the air to the floor below – the big boys, that is, while my little boys do their level best to destroy it with their enthusiasm.  They play in the paddling pool outside, play soccer and keep-away with their uncles, cuddle with their aunts, and even go to Chuck E Cheese.  The adults have whiskey punch – Minute Maid fruit punch with whiskey and real fruit in it, oh mah lord it was delish.  Steaks one night, tacos another, and green beans fresh from the garden for every meal.  Craig gets as much love as he can handle.  We have all learned how quickly they grow, how fleeting his babyhood, and everyone gets their fill of 5 month old.
  • The Professor, the baby and I head home on Tuesday, leaving the big boys to stay for the rest of the week.  Both halves of the family are spoiled by this arrangement – the boys by trips to the pool and splash park and ice cream store and movies in the park, and we adults by having only one sole solitary single child to care for, and one that sleeps a lot at that.  I am glad for the respite.  Our house is soooooo clean . . .
  • The night the boys return home from Nashville, we are getting ready to throw them both in the shower, and Jack is humming Chim Chiminee, Chim Chiminee, Chim Chim Chereee, a sweep is as lucky as lucky can be  . . . He had watched Mary Poppins at Nana’s house, and has the song in his head.  This kicks off a singalong that lasts at least twenty minutes – all of the Mary Poppins songs I can muster from the deep recesses of my memory, Jack watching my face intently so he can catch the words.  Mary Poppins is more haunting than I remembered . . . it is a sweet evening, singing Feed the Birds, Stay Awake, and the Chimney Sweep song.  Jack asks “Why does it sound so sad?”
  • At some point after returning, apropos of nothing Liam says to us “I love everything in the whooooooole world.  And also mushrooms.”  I think my parents must have introduced him to mushrooms on pizza, because now he is all about them when formerly he was a Cheese Only kinda guy.
  • And today, while Jack is out with dad at the birthday party, Liam is so tickled to have it be just us three – him and me and Craig.  We take turns eating the baby’s face noisily, while he absolutely SCREAMS with delight.  We watch Spiderman movies and eat pizza and even splurge on Cinna Stix, since my original delivery order didn’t meet the minimum purchase and I had to throw some little extra in there.  We all take a bath together, the boys and me.  I gently scrub Liam’s scraped knee – always a scraped knee on that one – and he rubs a washcloth through Craig’s hair.  Craig tries to eat the bubbles.  We read one book, and then another and another.  Craig tries to eat the book, and Liam pulls it away patiently.  I let him go to sleep with the book in his arms, music playing softly on the CD.  Funny how so many nights the nighttime routine feels like a prison, and then once in a glorious while it is magic, like I thought it would be all the time before I ever had kids.

I feel as though I have missed some things, but this will do for now.  A snippet of summer 2014.  Not a whole lot different for me, but I get some kicks out of the boys’ good time.

To bed, now.  Last night a local lawyer in his early forties died suddenly of a massive heart attack.  Just a couple of days ago, a flight was shot out of the sky while it flew along a route that I myself took a decade ago – Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, and from there to Melbourne, and from there to Sydney.  Same airline, same trajectory.  Here I sit with a belly full of terrible pizza and good red wine, boys snoozing in all the rooms around me, and isn’t it so unfair that I should be so lucky, and others so tragically unlucky?  How it can be, I do not know.  Chim chiminee, chim chiminee, chim chim cheroo, good luck will rub off if I shake hands with you.  Or blow me a kiss . . . . and that’s lucky, too.

Posted in Domestic Bliss, Everyday Adventures, Jack, Liam, Tex | Leave a comment