On A Walk: Camp Edition

Camp is my happy place. My peaceful zone. When I listened to meditation tapes in preparation for an unmedicated labor I used camp as my place to visualize. It didn’t work, unfortunately, because that was really really painful you guys, but this place is such an escape. It’s the nostalgia of my childhood with the peace of nature with the joy of watching my dogs and kids be truly free here. It’s fresh air and clean water and quiet.

Where you are from camp means ‘sleep in a tent’ or ‘go to summer camp’ but where I’m from it means head out to a cottage or cabin in the woods and wear your old clothes and forget about shampoo and read dusty books and sleep at odd hours. It means checking for ticks but not being bothered by it, it means eating a lunch of watermelon and potato chips, making s’mores and digging for worms that we will probably not use to catch any fish.

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All of these photos are unaltered. #nofilter, as the kids are saying these days. Because camp has no need for filters. It’s as beautiful as it was 100, 200, 500 years ago. We make our footprint here but feel more conscious of tiptoeing on this piece of Earth than on any other. DSC_1086 DSC_1087

If you set a rescue dog from the desert and a gypsy child from everywhere lose in these woods you can see the way these creatures were MEANT to live. So free. So dirty. So curious. So brave. So very very happy.DSC_1090 DSC_1091

That gypsy child and those rescue dogs become a cross-species team hunting chipmunks and flowers and the perfect stick and around every corner is more of the same beautiful adventure.DSC_1092

I always love the me I am at camp. In my most comfortable clothes with my barest face and my barest feet and my bare soul drinking it all in. With a baby on my back. So I’m all of the aforementioned plus quite sweaty. Always so sweaty.DSC_1093

We were raised by a a middle class country kid turned hippie who married a working class city girl turned hippie who brought us here as much as is humanly possible in the schedule of working people with busy children. And they taught us to use this place to practice creativity and to catch-and-release creatures smaller than us, to shoot guns but only at milk jugs, to soak up the silence so we can appreciate urban sounds.DSC_1095 DSC_1097 DSC_1098 DSC_1100

When I was a kid camp was all about my adventures and now it’s about their adventures and what greater adventure could there be for me anyway?DSC_1101 DSC_1102 DSC_1105

At camp you learn that every long day can be cured by a cool soak. Every tired heart can be healed, even just a little, by a day here. DSC_1110

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On A Walk: Around Here

This blog has suffered badly under the regime of Baby Ondine. Time I spent quietly typing away my deepest thoughts to all the internet is now spent lying in nipple prison with a baby who doesn’t HATE sleep but only LOVES sleep when I’m doing it next to her. But life is full of seasons and this is a season and this too shall pass and what doesn’t kill us and something inspirational inserted here. *yawwwwn*

Meanwhile as I’m not blogging we’re still here. Working. Running. Playing, eating, talking, laughing. Fixing the house and visiting with friends and planning for the next big adventure. And while our plans are always grand for now our radius is nice and small. A few blocks. A couple miles. For a while, just a little while, let’s not go any further.

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On A Walk: Frozen Spring

Remember me? One month ago we left Japan and headed back to Michigan. In a flurry of bags and then sweat and an unexpected overnight in Chicago and voile, we are here.

Since then it’s been non-stop jet lag recovery, unpacking, reacquainting, more unpacking, home renovations, more unpacking, some lounging, working, and just trying to enjoy a chaotic daily existence. It shouldn’t be hard because LIFE IS GOOD but sometimes it just is, you know?

The other thing is, and I hesitate to even mention it because like…what is the point, but the weather. Has been tough. The snow melted (mostly) then piled up again and then melted some more and is hanging on in some corners. But I’m from the north of the North so I get it. It’s fine. But just some SUN would be nice. Some sun. A little sun.

So when some sun showed it’s face, we got out. To a beach where we walk a lot. To a familiar place. Because weather and unpacking and jet lag be DAMNED, we are home. Home. It’s so good to be home.

That being said I need caffeine. So much. All the time. Have you ever been up at 3am Googling ’4 month sleep regression’ mostly just to get confirmation that other people feel your pain and live to tell the tale? No? Then I don’t want to hear it.

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Honestly, this is her in a nutshell. This outfit. My god.IMG_1853 IMG_1854

The epic battle of keeping a jacket on a toddler in subfreezing temperatures. IMG_1855 IMG_1857

Obviously I want to interact with my kids, but I’m not putting the coffee down. Not now. Not ever.IMG_1858 IMG_1859

I might be biased but is this not one of the most handsome men you’ve ever seen? The background isn’t bad either.IMG_1860_2

Little O is ready to try a cafe au lait. Sister girl is as tired as the rest of us.
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In his happy place.IMG_1870 IMG_1871

‘Let’s pretend this is snow!’ Sure. Snow that will be in your hair and our car forever.IMG_1877 IMG_1878

The earth made this, mannnnnnnn.IMG_1879 IMG_1880 IMG_1881

This timer shot worked out really well, I think.IMG_1882

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This is Not A Birth Story

I’ve sat down to write the story of Ondine’s birth several times. And nothing comes out. So many words and feelings fill my head but I seem to lack the ability to actually let them filter through my fingers onto the keyboard.

Since having my own kids, I have always enjoyed reading the birth stories of other women. They can be joyous or sorrowful or frightening or hilarious. Some are detailed and some are vague. The women who write these stories can edit them however they choose because the story is theirs. They are stories told by women about an experience only women can have and no matter how the story is told or who does the telling it’s a powerful narrative indeed.

It took me almost 6 months wot write down the experience of V’s birth (and O is only almost 4 months) but once I did I felt very liberated. Liberated by letting out my frustration at the way some things had gone, by expressing my acceptance of my own fear, and sharing the joy of daughter’s arrival. It wasn’t the ‘perfect’ birth story because there isn’t one because it is what it is and it happened how it did and I was so happy to share.

This time I can’t quite release the way I did before. I want to share. To add to the narrative that I enjoy being a part of. But…I’m not sure what’s stopping me. Maybe I just need more time.

The logical side of me finds this annoying. Nothing went wrong, everything went well. No complications, in a safe place, the best situation I could hope for. I delivered little O in a women’s clinic instead of a hospital. I had lovely midwives and a nurse with me when I needed them, I had Dave with me the entire time, and my doctor popped in to say hello for a few minutes. This is the exact balance of medical safety and natural non-intervention that I wanted the first time and sought out this time. Continue reading

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What Drives You

I’m probably the last person in the world to talk about this Cadillac commercial. I saw it while we were watching some of the Oscars. So obviously it was aimed at fancy people. Or people who like to think they are fancy?

I honestly had to ask myself for a moment…is this for real? So I looked it up in my spare time ie: a month later.

It’s for real. If you live sheltered from commercials like I do and haven’t seen it, it’s here:

Or if you’d rather not let this beautiful man ruin himself for you with this script, the transcript:

Why do we work so hard? For what? For this? For stuff? Other countries they work, they stroll home, they stop by the cafe, they take August off. Off. Why aren’t you like that? Why aren’t we like that?

Because we’re crazy driven, hard working believers, that’s why. Those other countries think we’re nuts. Whatever! Were the Wright brothers insane? Bill Gates? Les Paul? Ali?

Were we nuts when we pointed to the moon? That’s right, we went up there, and you know what we got? Bored. So we left. Got a car up there, left the keys in it. Do you know why? Because we’re the only ones going back up there. That’s why.

But I digress… It’s pretty simple. You work hard, you create your own luck, and you gotta believe anything’s possible. As for all the stuff, that’s the up-side of only taking two weeks off in August. N’est-ce pas?

The first ever ELR.
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So once you’ve soaked that up, I’ll just let fly with my personal analysis of this. Heavy on the sarcasm.

Unfortunately, they lost me in the first lines. Implying that strolling home by a cafe is…undesirable somehow? Perhaps driving home in the dark in the stop and go traffic of many suburban commuters is better? Ok sure. Let’s say that. Cafes are awful and strolling is the worst.

And taking August off? How horrible that must be for those socialists with their healthcare! I’m actually surprised we didn’t get a healthcare jab in this commercial somehow. They are probably going to the cafe during that month! THE CAFE!

But to answer the question posed to me by Cadillac: why aren’t we like that? Is it, as they posit, because we are “crazy driven, hard working believers”? The short answer is no. But let me explain. Continue reading

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On A Walk: Utsunomiya

The weather here has turned decidedly towards spring, while back in Michigan winter is still hanging on tight. So on our last weekend in Japan we soaked up the sun and soaked in the sight of ume blossoms as they start to fill the brown branches with pink puffs.IMG_1697

Nikko isn’t a cold climate by any Michigander/Manitoban standards, but it’s always almost 10 degrees warmer in Utsunomiya, a 45 minute drive away. Also, they have Starbucks. Which sounds so boring to people who can buy coffee at any coffee shop in a mug larger than a shot glass. But we are not those people. And so we went.IMG_1698

We found a park in the city that, after 3 years of day trips, we had never noticed before. The flowers were everywhere and we weren’t cleaning or packing or saying goodbye-see-you-maybe-nevers so we were happy. Happy and warm.IMG_1700 IMG_1703 IMG_1706 IMG_1711 IMG_1714 IMG_1715 IMG_1717 IMG_1718

Perhaps one of my favorite things about our girl is how much she loves being outside. Just out. In the air and the dirt on the run. She doesn’t need a plan or a game or a bunch of toys, just someone to play along with her imaginary scenarios. I was happy to oblige.IMG_1720 IMG_1721 IMG_1722 IMG_1724 IMG_1725 IMG_1728 IMG_1730 IMG_1733

I wonder what they sell at titty&Co.? Actually I am fully aware that they sell clothes but like…has no one mentioned to anyone that this name is a little…off? I mean if they sold bras maybe it could work? Sign spotting is absolutely without question my favorite pasttime in Japan. I should get out more?IMG_1737

We went for Thai food for lunch, because nothing says farewell to Japan like Thai. IMG_1738

It’s funny how spring makes you forget how awful winter was. And how being a few days from going home makes the struggles of the season seem so mild. Two months ago I had it up to here with Japan. I was sick of taking off my shoes and bowing 40 times never knowing when I was supposed to walk away and eating things out of fishy broth the consistency of jello and feeling a breeze through my single paned windows. But with the sun shining on my back and the plane waiting to take me home in two days I will miss the friendly smiles and the special slippers and sliding doors and the chopsticks. You know I’m getting slaphappy because even the men’s haircuts are starting to make sense. IMG_1740

We sipped cold drinks at Starbucks and chatted up the Australian man next to us. We are so starved for conversation with new people we would talk to anyone at this point, but soon we will be able to communicate with everyone and won’t feel the need to exchange names with every person we sit next to in Starbucks. But maybe we will. Just out of habit.IMG_1741

My girls and I soaking up the mean streets and the friendly graffiti. As one adventure ends and we point our ship homewards I already find myself asking…where to next?IMG_1743

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City Break in Tokyo: The Same But So Different

Before I had kids, and since, considerable time has been devoted to worrying about who I am in relation to who they are and what it all means and it was very liberating when I finally realized I am them and I am and we are us and all of it. So it’s fine.

Dave and I still have a lot of the same interests personally that we had before we had children. He golfs. I run. We make jokes and make lasagne and have long talks about the nature of the universe. We visit with our friends and watch crime dramas or silly sitcoms.

But one thing we do a lot less of is travel. It’s not a conscious choice, really. And it’s not that we don’t travel at all. But we don’t just drive cross country anymore with an atlas and some good tunes and wing it. Instead we have a cooler full of snacks, a map of all rest areas, and hotels with pools pre-booked.

We don’t settle in for long haul flights with an Ambien and some wine. It’s a carefully orchestrated dance of bed times and potty breaks and window clings and snack foods.

Every trip we take takes a little more planning, every destination we choose has the desires of a three year old in mind.

Every trip has so much more sweat. So sweaty. Sweat is everywhere.

We don’t just jaunt off for a city break with a purse and and a camera and hope for the best. We pack a backpack strategically analyze train schedules to choose the route with the least changes. And so we did when we headed to Tokyo this week.

Every single stage is an adventure. Waiting for our train Ves spins the stroller endlessly. Business travelers are not amused.
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When you are in the right mood, with the proper shoes, even a massive sweat fest like this can be so very fun. We were so cozy on the train while the rain came down outside. V entertained us with her songs and her never ending questions, O entertained us with her grin and scratchy giggle.IMG_1528

Continue reading

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