Thursday, June 30, 2011

Phoenix, Arizona

(Enzo running in the free air conditioning of the mall.)

Our week long Phoenix, Arizona road trip vacation is well underway. We left Campbell, California at 5am on Monday morning and drove until we were about an hour east of LA where we spent the night. We don't want to keep the kids strapped into their car seats too long so we are making it a two day trip each way and stopping for hour long breaks once in a while. Yesterday we got into Phoenix in the afternoon and went over to my Nina's house and introduced her to Ana and Enzo. We also visited with some of our cousins there. Enzo was happy to be playing with his two and a half year old cousin Joe Joe. Enzo is so good at sharing, sometimes even offering to share things that are not his. He gave Joe Joe his toy cars to play with first, then his baby Mono (stuffed monkey) complete with direction on how to place the baby on the shoulder, pat the baby's back, and say "baby." Enzo literally demonstrated and then placed Mono on his cousin's shoulder. Then he tried to give his water bottle to his cousin but his cousin was not interested in Enzo's water bottle. From there Enzo thought it would be nice to share his cousins own shoes with him by constantly finding them, exclaiming "shoe" and then taking them over to Joe Joe who would kindly accept them and then throw them somewhere else away from Enzo's reach. Enzo managed to keep quite a bit of attention for himself by playing with and examining any button he could find. Cousin Sylvia and my Nina think he'll be an inventor with so much curiosity. Nina also commented several times on him being so good looking. While Enzo had the most look-at-me-play attention of my two kids, Ana stole the show for attention via adoration. Who could resist such a beautiful little girl?

Similar to Enzo, Ana is of a calm temperament but she does fuss a little more than her brother when she is hungry or uncomfortable. With me, she is comfortable often enough but much of the time I have to hold her lying belly down across my forearm. She is picky with me and she lets it be known if she is not content. She had her first shots last week and handled it well but she didn't like it and she let us know. Tami talked to her first in Spanish about what would happen and why it was important to get shots. Then I followed up in English with a similar explanation. When she did finally get the shot she wasn't very happy about it and she was more vocal about it than her brother. Thankfully it only took a minute after the three shots and the mouth drops to cuddle her before she was fine as if all were forgiven. My point of this, besides the update, is that I recognize I don't have quite the knack with my daughter yet as I do with making my son happy and comfortable at any time. Tami of course is a natural. Apparently, so are my Nina, Sylvia and Arlene. Ana was totally comfortable with them holding her yesterday and they didn't have to resort to the forearm-belly hold that I sometimes do either.

My patience in getting to know my daughter's particular tastes is paying off though. More often I'm able to help her be comfortable even if she is a little hungry. Admittedly, the majority of the time that takes the form of me having her for a limited time before handing my daughter over to Tami who always knows what to do. Sometimes Ana just needs to eat and only Tami can do that. The other times, the times when I'm able to make Ana content are happening more and more often, especially as Ana begins to go slightly longer stretches between eating. One of my favorite times together happened this morning while Tami was in the shower. I lay next to my beautiful girl as she woke from a nap and we just stared at each other for several minutes of perfect happy not-hungry or have-to-potty bliss. She is beautiful to look at and to be looked at by.

I think there was a similar progression with Enzo where it took some time for me to know that I could make him comfortable at any time. It's so far from where we are now though. Especially since Enzo can eat solid foods and I'm confident in taking him potty. Only Tami takes Ana potty. I'm not quite ready yet to feel I can hold her securely over her little potty. Tami started taking her potty right away since knowing what to do after teaching Enzo how to go potty. I told Tami I'll wait a little longer before taking her potty so that I can get a better idea of how to support her from watching Tami do it. I'm almost ready now. Of course, Ana can't use sign language to tell us she has to go as Enzo does now and we don't catch either of their needs to go every time.

I regularly remind myself when making observations about Enzo and Ana's differences that I have to compare Enzo of 16 months ago and that he has grown and developed dramatically in that time as has our relationship.

As for the trip. The kids seem to have handled the long drive well, to be enjoying the attention of their family here, and not to be too bothered by the 100+ degree weather we experience between the air conditioned car and the buildings.

It's good to be back in Phoenix. I miss the heat and my family here.

Granted, I have had a few high anxiety episodes on this trip so far and the heat, one of my triggers, has played a part. I remind myself that people live in this heat, that breathing hard and sweating while carrying a load of bags up a hill from the Colorado River is perfectly normal, that you can't actually die or pass out from panic attacks or anxiety, that anxiety spells go away and can not physically last more than several minutes, that I'm ok, that I used to find so much pleasure in road trips and the desert so I need to be aware of the present reality and not miss it by spending my time in anxious thoughts, and that the world is not a constantly dangerous and scary place despite the adrenaline inspired feelings to the contrary as it goes through my veins and reinforces the fearful looping thoughts in my mind.

At the border of California and Arizona is the Colorado River. The KOA campground has a little beach on the California side and we spent a nice long break there playing in the water yesterday. Both kids got their feet into the river, touching water that has been so far in it's travels through time and space, winding through some beautiful land along the way to greet my children's feet with coolness. It was awesome. I have often wanted to stop there and never have before so I was pretty happy to finally do so and with my family. The cool river felt so good on such a hot day. Enzo had a blast and I think he could have played in the river the whole day and been happy about it.

After showering the sand off of him, he took a nice nap as he and his sister rested in the KOA air conditioned play room. For some reason I started sweating profusely around that time and had the highest anxiety episode I have had in nearly two years. It took some time to let it pass and Tami helped me to process through the thoughts. It wasn't fun. Everything up to that was cool, but that episode pretty much sucked.

[Pause in writing. That was written Wednesday and now I'm continuing on Thursday. Kids take away quiet blog time. That's ok.]

Heat and sweat have helped keep my anxiety up. But not at all moments. There are times when I walk out into the hot dry air and I remember how much I love being here. Many other times though, I will notice that I am not having a problem and then feel like that fact, that state of being, is precarious. I am often feeling that I am either experiencing anxiety or am on a temporary reprieve, balanced barely along a precipice. Even thinking that sometimes makes me slide further into anxiousness.

I am also noticing that I am so often having a difficult time being relaxed. I can enjoy playing with my children. I can love hearing my son laugh and play with his mom in the hotel pool. But almost always I am feeling like I am on guard against danger as I need to protect them. Constantly on guard and not relaxed. There are exceptions but they seem too rare. Generally, my happiness comes from being with my children and watching and playing with them and my relaxation comes from knowing they are safely with their mother while I am elsewhere and can let my guard down. Not a sustainable plan. I'm hoping to discover that balance of responsible parenting and alertness without the heightened-threat feeling of being always on guard against imminent danger.

As I said, there are exceptions.

This morning Tami took Enzo down for breakfast and I stayed in the room with Ana. Soon she awoke and we lay together admiring the world. Then we played and walked around the room and enjoyed the morning. It was perfect and I was relaxed and that made it all the better to be able to totally appreciate my daughter. This time together on vacation has been good.

Also, today is Enzo's half birthday. Tami sang to him "happy half birthday to you..." in Spanish and he chuckled as he woke up this morning.

Overall I would say it's good to be in Arizona and I am glad to be visiting family. I'm grateful to have a life where I can spend so much time with my children. Anxiety sucks and this week is among the more challenging in a very long time. It's clouding my thinking a bit but it's the experience I'm having. So be it. Thankfully it's actually getting better, I'm feeling more in the moment today and less caught up in a loop of anxious thoughts. I'm lucky to have Tami here to help me process my anxieties. While my family here in Arizona has their own particular challenges, I am glad to be here and to see them as there is something comforting about proximity and watching my own children interact with the children of, and the family that is, an important part of my memories, values, and development. Even now, being here while they live their lives, listening to Nina, I learn by example.

Sunday, June 26, 2011


I've never seen death-throws but I imagine them to be quieter and calmer than the sleep-throws I witnessed my son battle tonight.  While there were punctuated moments of silence, these were engulfed in wreathing and thrashing-about moments in which my son's body flailed and his head flopped against the otherwise peaceful organic mattress and causing the humanely harvested, sustainable forest certified, wooden slats that surround his head to be subjected to the only violent blows they had ever experienced since being gently felled on to a bed of lushness on a happy and sunny hillside in Oregon.  This hour long cacophonic process of falling to sleep was peppered with another occasional type of quiet moment here and there in which Enzo would look, quite naturally in the fading light, straight into my eyes with a neutralness that stated clearly that it was perfectly normal that he lie there briefly in a buddha-like sense of self possession and peace only a fraction of a moment after, and moments before, mimicking the sounds and motions of the tortured souls within the fantasized gates of eternal suffering that reside in certain dark imaginations.  Perfectly natural, indeed.  Amidst the noise and thrashing about sleep did sneak up unnoticed.  I am always amazed how it does this.  I have noticed before in the more typical off-to-sleep times how Enzo's singing and chatting with himself will suddenly be replaced with quiet, sleep having snuck up on him mid-story.  On occasion, like tonight, sleep will sneak up on everyone.  It is past midnight now when Tami and I have woken with Ana's requests for attention to find that we are dressed, in bed, and the lights are on in other rooms.  Enzo remains peaceful as an angel, body growing, memories forming, synapses exercising during his hard-earned sleep and dreaming of wooden blocks, zerberts, and laughing with his Mama while being held upside down by her.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

More June

I've been working on living in the moment; being aware of now.  Either through success or because of the great challenge of living in the moment, I certainly haven't taken time to write on my reflections lately.  But I will say a little now and show a few pictures.

Ana is absolutely beautiful.  Every yawn is gorgeous.  When she looks at me I feel satisfied.  She is growing beautifully and I love her.

Enzo smiles like sunshine.  I want to buy whatever he's selling.  Thankfully he sells nothing and gives away free hugs.  When he snuggles in for a hug it makes me feel like I'm getting hugged all over each and every molecule.  A complete and engulfing snuggle.  It's like the fondest memory of peace and comfort and love.

These kiddos are beautiful.  Tami is beautiful.  It's still amazing how we created two such perfectly beautiful and happy children.  What are the odds?  Lucky Mud.

 My flower.

 My girls.

Enzo playing in a stream.

So beautiful!

It was time to sell Val.  We have been so many places together and have had so many good memories.  However, my motorcycle touring days are behind me, and perhaps there are some ahead of me as well.  But while the kids are so young at home, the peace that comes from riding long and far alone on a bike has more loneliness then I care to appreciate at this point in my life.  It's a change that happened of it's own and one that I'm willing to listen to.  Perhaps in the future, when I have collected much more to contemplate, the long road will call me back.  Tami and I said goodbye to Val and thought of new adventures on new toys to come.

 Oh, RC, such a perfect sport bike.  Alas, it was time to say goodbye to this exquisite machine as well.  I have never ridden a more perfectly tuned bike than this.  I can't believe I let myself sell this bike.  It's such a perfect sport bike.  But this is a different time in life and the money from the RC will not be squandered.  And so, the search for a certain new and exciting four wheeled toy begins.... More to come on that when the search is over.

The first of the new toys is arrived.  The coolest motorcycle I have ever owned!  Surely this will appear in future posts and pictures here.  This is a 1967 Norton Atlas and it is AWESOME!  I am loving this bike.  I feel so similar to when I rode my first motorcycle.  This bike is absolutely-exactly the bike for me right now.  It's just so cool! It's just so interesting to ride and to start and to park and to look at and to apply a wrench to.  It is the exact bike for my new motorcycling adventures.  It is awesome.  It is everything I wanted and didn't know I wanted in a bike right now.  It's like a new favorite hat but cooler because it's a super-cool motorcycle.

Watching Papi kick start the Norton through the kitchen window.

My little Ana asleep on a walk.

Enzo walking the Los Gatos creek trail.

Hello Beautiful Girl!

Tami and Ana in Capitola.  Being with my family at the beach was all I wanted for Father's Day and it was such a perfect day.  Last year was my first Father's Day and I had one child.  This year was my second and I had two children.  Tami assures me this is the last year of such numerical coincidence.

Enzo laughing with Mama on a hot day with his sister.

When I met Tami she talked about her car that she bought brand new after college and how much she loved it.  Her 1998 Chevy Cavalier.  She said she would keep it until 100,000 miles.  Then, when she hit 100k she decided she would keep it longer and see it at 200,000 miles.  With less than 500 miles to go, and an engine that has never been taken apart, the car is almost there.  But, Tami decided to give it to her dad for Father's day instead.  Enjoy Harold.

Look at this kid!
Happy at bath time and getting every bit of joy out of every available splash.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

It's June

Guest Post by Tami:

There has been a lot going on recently in the lives of our children that hasn't made it to the blog and I feel compelled to write this post to share them.

Ana went to her first A's game.  Yes, they lost (as they have been doing a lot of that lately, but hopefully with Geren gone, maybe they'll find themselves on a winning streak), but it was still an exciting day in baseball.  Ana slept through most of the game, similar to how Enzo did for most of last season. 


She didn't seem to mind the crowd or the cheers.  Enzo really enjoys the games now.  He likes to stand in between the seats and walk back and forth between us.  He knows to put his water bottle in the cup holder and to clap and cheer when everyone else does.

Ana also had her first stage debut as a part of the City of Newark's Annual Dance Revue.

She went out on stage with me when I was introduced as an assistant and at the end of the shows for the finale. Enzo and Ana also accompanied my sister, mother, father, and myself in the family parade at the end of the first half.  Ana is still a bit young to know how she'll do in the spotlight, but Enzo loved being on stage and backstage.  He loved watching the dancing and was often dancing and clapping along to the music.  He liked one hula dance in particular because of the hula skirts that he found quite fascinating.

You can see me talk about the annual review here. I was asked last minute to say something.  I didn't really know what I was saying.  You can't really tell that Ana is in her wrap right below my face.

Enzo has also recently discovered the joys of climbing... on everything!  He climbs on the kitchen chairs so that he can sit, or rather stand, at the big table, instead of his high chair.  He also pushes the chair around the kitchen first to find the perfect place to stand on the chair in order to reach things on the counter.  He climbs up on the couch and its arms in order to reach things behind it.  Last night he climbed to stand on the arm rest of his little rocking chair to look out the window of his room.  He then looked back at me as he lifted one leg in an attempt to climb on top of his dresser.  He also likes to climb on to his motorcycle, sit, rock, stand and rock, and slide off.  He's quite the stunt master at almost 18 months. 

He has also made friends with two little girls on the block that like to shout out "Hi Enzo" whenever they see us.  He always stops, turns, smiles, and walks in their direction.  We have recently noticed him taking a couple of skips in the fast walking... running is right around the corner.  Exciting, but oh sh**!