Christina Rosalie

Posts from the “Sprout” Category

The older they get

Posted on March 1, 2015

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My boys, they’re BOYS now. Six and ten. Their birthdays passed, bookending the middle week in February with a sprinkled rainbow cake and a chocolate cake and best friends and grandparents. Balloons and a treasure hunt for Sprout. The arcade, the pool, a movie, and a sleepover for Bean. We’ve made it. We’re beyond the beyond of early childhood. They pack their own changes of clothes for the beach; carry their own backpacks.

It does and it doesn’t get easier, the older they get.

When they were babies, toddlers, preschoolers, the demand was high for every single moment, yet the moments themselves were small: A digger! A yellow dog! The injustice of mittens in winter. The fury of being asked to eat broccoli. The complexity or simplicity of falling asleep.

Now it is the complexity of being alone. The discovery of self. The absolute of independence. The hunger for protection. The need to stand out, or to fit in. Best friends, secrets, multiple choice homework assignments, and the fury of having to fold one’s own laundry.

Bean hit double digits. The half way mark between now and when he’ll take off into the wide orbit of his own life. Sometimes in the morning on the weekend he’ll climb into bed with me and tell me about his inventions. Futuristic cars with self-generating motors, and houses with secret walls. Mommy, he says, do you know? And then he’ll launch in, my mind trailing his. We’re in the era of homework, cello practice, weekend sleepovers, nights when his mind spins and he can’t fall to sleep. A week ago Bean fried everyone eggs. Perfect, crispy, with just enough fresh rosemary, salt and pepper. He walks to the five and dime around the corner for milk. He reads everything within reach.

Sprout became a big kid this year. Looking back at last year’s birthday I still see the toddler in him. Now it’s gone, and in it’s place is this boy full of muscle and movement and song. Every waking second he’s singing or joking or yelling. He can throw a mean frisbee, straight and far. He practices dribbling a basketball on the front walkway, and wants a hoop for the street. For him, everything is drama. His eyes wide in mock despair or bright with glee. He got a pocket knife for his birthday. Recently he’s learned to strike matches; carefully lighting the candles for the dinner table every night. This morning he made pancakes with T: pouring and flipping every one.

The weekdays go by in a rhythm and blur. School and work. We do the same things. We do different things. We spend our days mostly apart. We come together in the evenings, hungry, excited, tired, impatient, eager, quiet.

As we gather around the dinner table at night they tell us stories about their days. This ritual we started so many years ago. A moment of pause and grace before we begin, then all of us there, talking, passing food. Mommy, Bean asks, what was the most interesting thing that happened to you today? He doesn’t have perfect table manners yet, but he knows how to ask questions with weight. Sprout tries to remember to listen, to wait his turn. He tells exuberant stories. Finishes dinner quickly. Climbs into my lap. Always this.

On the weekends there is bacon. Good coffee. Sleeping in. Modern Love in the NY Times. A trip to the library. Some kind of adventure. Maybe a bike ride. Still, each of us craves time apart. There’s not enough time for all the laundry, errands, things that pile up from the week. So then it’s push & pull. Give & take.

Here we are.

Where good things happen

Posted on August 30, 2014

All things happen here, where the world ends and the sky begins. Where the sea licks the land, where the gulls lilt and lift into the sky. All things, new, forever, ancient, always originate from this wild state; and there is nothing quite like rock hopping with wild-haired boys. Together we tilted over salt-slick pools. Leaning in. Looking. Cupped our hands full with tiny agates. Watching the surf. Drumming with sea-pummeld sticks against the rocks. Leaping with sure feet. Following, running ahead, stumbling, grinning.

We went to the shore two weekends ago and I brought my big camera and tried to capture what boyhood looks like now. What they are like, strong-muscled, loud, tender, forever tousle-headed, curious.

Nothing, says freedom to me the way the Pacific does as it comes to find the edge of the land, raw, rugged, crashing against cliffs made of lava and granite. Nothing makes my heart lift like a kite, makes me want to turn cartwheels on the beach, makes me run, arms akimbo, laughing.

Here’s a glimpse from that weekend. One I want to remember.

What summer looks like around here

Posted on July 20, 2014

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Lots of shirtless boys. Reading fiction. Sipping tea in the morning, still in bed and writing notes for my new book, still a shamble in my head. The arrival of the nanny who’s made our summer mornings so much easier. Paper-mache on remnants on the back porch. Picnics on the front steps in the breeze. Time bookended between the beginning and the ending of each work day. Compression + expansion. Deep focus and then a slow unwind as the golden evening light finds us.

How has your summer been, friends? What are some highlights? Some things you’re doing to revel in these golden days?

The entire point is this

Posted on June 6, 2014

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“CAN SOMEONE RUN MY BATH?” He yells from the open bathroom window.
I’m outside, under the walnut tree, reluctant.
When I come in, he’s already naked, surrounded by a small army of his favorite Lego trucks and matchbox cars. A rescue boat, a semi truck, an “old-fashioned car.”

“HELP!” he yells, even though I’m sitting right next to him, watching now as he squats down on the bathmat. Something seems to be wrong with the semi truck. Clearly, he isn’t calling to me.

“HELP, BEAN” He yells again, then mutters, “I really, really need it.”
Behind him, the old Standard tub fills. It’s one of properly deep tubs that you can stretch out in and submerge.

His voice rises above the water, “I wish I could play with that. But it’s broken.”
In another second, the semi truck has been cast off to the side. His brother hasn’t come to the rescue, off somewhere instead playing the ukelele (a new obsession) or trying to kiss his elbow as he did at dinner when he announced, “I read in a book that 99% of people cannot kiss their elbow, but that 99% will try.”

Sprout climbs into the tub, easing into the hot water slowly, then begins to splash and make the strange car motor noises all boys seem to know how to make. I can’t recall a single instance as a kid when I made such sounds, though I was every bit a tom boy and could climb a tree or ride my bike faster and more recklessly than any of the boys. What is it about vrrrrooom, vrrooom?

I sit for longer than five minutes, watching, though I only remember to scribble notes into my moleskin every so often, so my collective time still adds up to 5. Sort of. I so rarely sit with him while he takes a bath now, so rarely just sit and watch his antics. This is, of course, the entire point of this exercise.

I tell him that soon it will be time to get out.

“I’M GONNA DO SEVEN, TEN, NO FIRTEEN MINUTES MORE” he says defiantly, his voice at full volume. “NO! I’M GONNA DO SEVENTEEN MINUTES,” he adds, as if that is an enormously long time. Then immediately he sing-song whines, “I hate this car. It’s broken. I want a different car.”

There’s been a lot of this thin-skinned, fragile whining lately, and when I’m at my wisest, I know that that is exactly what it is. Last night, after royally falling apart and whining all through dinner, after cajoling and firmness and tears, when he finally was tucked into bed and I lay next to him in the soft nearly dark of his room he told me about the things he was afraid of: how people die, poison, prison, bad guys, robbers. His eyes growing wide.

So small still, this little one of mine, and yet so big. Wiggly toothed. Loud voiced. Bright eyed.

I’m glad I spent a handful of moments noticing so that I’ll remember the ordinary sweetness of these moments long after they’re gone.
The 5/5 Challenge: Day 2

Leaving + Lucky

Posted on April 18, 2014

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I feel so unbelievably lucky. Thank you to everyone who snatched up artwork. It was the fastest pay-what-you-can studio sale I’ve ever had. So fast in fact, that I had no chance to open it up to everyone. The good news: I’ll be offering another sale this summer with lots more bird paintings (so much love for those, and so many requests!) and, just as soon as I get settled I’ll be making a sweet postcard pack with gorgeous glossy prints of all the birds. That should be available at the end of May. I put some work up here, just for you to take a peak if you’d like.

It’s been a week.

Wrapping projects, saying goodbye, and planning for things to come. I’ve been listening to this playlist on repeat, and periodically bursting into tears. The moments collide. Everything possible. Everything lost. Everything new.

Saying goodbye sucks. There are people here who are a part of my heart. People who make me smile every single time I think of them. I want them all to come West with us. (Maybe they will. A girl can hope.)

Because of the way spring break happens for the kids, yesterday was their last day of school. We’ve been the luckiest with their teachers. So good. So intuitive and skilled and heartfelt. The boys came home with goodbye cards and treasures from the year. They’ll land in a new school, find new friends, chart new paths of course. They’ll find their stride in summer camp. All of it. Still.

Their last day at this school felt precious and abrupt. Like it wasn’t real. Like it didn’t happen. Except there it is: a book from Sprout’s class and teacher, “To the boy with the sunlight in his eyes.” They know him well. Whenever he talks about moving he refers to our new geography in it’s entirety. “To Portland, Oregon.” It isn’t a real place yet. The only place that’s real is here, amidst boxes. He’s found the packing paper and has turned it into a wide drawing surface: tall castles and taller trees.

Bean is off with his friends, saying goodbye in his own boyish ways. Playdates one after the next: biking and tree forts and inventions. Exchanging addresses. Mailing pre-emptive letters. It’s only pretend-real to both of them.

“Mommy,” Bean says with a playful gleam in his eyes. “I know that you and Daddy are the Easter Bunny.”

I look at him: tousled hair, black and white checkered Vans, his skinny shoulders in a soft grey sweatshirt, his hands full of electric circuit board equipment. How is any of this possible at all?

The inevitable flow of time.

The way we move on: grow, and outgrow ourselves over and over again.

Here we go.

To be 5 years old (with gusto)

Posted on March 1, 2014

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You turned 5 (last Thursday!) with gusto. For the week before your birthday you kept asking when you birthday would be and then counting down the days. At night you’d wrap your arms around my neck and hug me close, and whisper: “My birthday is in____days.” And I’d say, “It is” and rub your nose with my nose and stare down at him completely disbelieving.

Remember how the time between birthdays felt like an eternity? Remember that sweet feeling of anticipation that last nearly until you’d burst? Would that we could still feel that luxurious stretch of time, easy and slow with the salty sweet of anticipation like taffy being pulled. Now the days have a staccato feel: dominos tumbling one after the other in a rapid-action blur. They come they go in an instant. I keep thinking, wait, didn’t I just turn 34? How am I 36? How did two years possibly pass? Let alone 5. Let alone, my last, my baby is 5 and not a baby at all.

When the day finally arrived, you woke terribly early, and in turn woke Bean and you both came tumbling into our room. It was a school day, so there was less snuggling in our bed than might have been had it been the weekend, and when we all made our way out to the kitchen your cheeks were flushed and rosy.

On the table, crystals and shells around his plate, a fat rose in full bloom, a birthday card from Granny sent in the mail, and beneath the table, leaning against a table leg a present (the first of several) in rainbow striped paper.

“Oh my gosh!” you gasped grinning, your body practically vibrating with glee. Yet you sat down and slowly opened the letter, savoring every bit of the delight, the envelope, the card itself, the small packet of zinnia seeds she also sent like colored suns.

Even with all your gusto and volume, you have this remarkable capacity for delayed gratification, as though you really understand what the moment offers. How it’s here to delight you only for now, and then it’s gone for good.

When you unwrapped the stripes you found a a scooter, like Bean’s but smaller. You’d waited four whole days since Bean’s birthday, hoping. Next you were a whirl of speed; a streak of delight. Then waffles, then backpacks, then school, where your kindergarten teacher put on a puppet show in celebration of your arrival on this earth, and we sat there with you watching; watching you among your classmates, sort of reeling internally with wonder. Five feels old. It’s the last year of smallness.

Oh time, hold still, hold still.

In the evening you were beyond ecstatic to get the “pirate stuff” you’d asked for, and went around the house decked out in mardi gras beads and a Captain Hook arm, yelling at the top of your lungs. Fearsome with your eyepatch, and so darling I just wanted to keep hugging you even when you squirmed free, and when Nonna and Poppy gave you their gift, you literally pumped your fists in the air with delight: a long coveted lego set. Something about a museum break out. Good guys and gad guys of course. Escape vehicles. Fire hoses. You and Bean became so absorbed he had to be coaxed back to the table for the ice cream cake you’d begged for.

So many candles blown out to mark the start of a new year around the sun for you, sweet little one.

You are my teacher of gusto and joy.

Inward Glimpses

Posted on November 25, 2013

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The day we raked leaves, the air smelled like snow. We lit a small fire in the circular pit and gathered round it, warming our hands. Sprout couldn’t stay away from the leaf pile, but Bean, suddenly older and just recovering from being sick, moped about the yard, wanting the reckless play of burrowing into leaf tunnels, yet scorning it too. Above us, the sky was that bluest blue of high altitude and cold weather. Later the snow came at dinner time. T had picked up fresh Bluepoints, and we shucked them by the sink together listening to tunes we’d picked up while in Louisiana this time last year.

It was a weekend of ups and downs. Enough time to read through the VOGUE that’s been sitting on my coffee table for a month. Good coffee. A look at Dominique Levy’s new gallery online. A trip to the new, big library we belong to now that we live close to town. A trip to the book store for another Molskine, and often, the collision of wanting time together voraciously and wanting time alone with equal hunger.

How was your weekend?

The day as it was {More than Just One Paragraph 23/30}

Posted on August 16, 2013

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I didn’t write last night because I came home and completely crashed: chills, swollen glands, headache. T wondered, “What about Lyme?” and so today I went and got blood drawn. I have nearly all the symptoms. But who knows? It could be anything, everything, my body on a collision course with the reality of moving, which we are in just four short days.

Bean came into bed this morning, his hair a shock of alarming curls, his grin sleepy and sweet. “How are you feeling, Mama?” he asked, spooning perfectly into my arms. And then he lay with me and we dozed and talked about things and imagined what the future will hold. He seemed to get it, my little aquarian kindred. That this is big, what we’re about to do. “It’s our last weekend here,” he said softly, nestling in.

Then came Sprout who has the heartiest of laughs. His dimples cause an uproar of delight in my heart. He bounces instead of snuggles. His sturdy little body burrowing for a second before he springs back up, and kisses my cheeks and nose and forehead and then dives off the bed to go play with matchbox cars.

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T leaves for work. It’s my day with the boys. Bean and I linger in bed, imagining where we’ll explore downtown, what colors we’ll paint their room, how we’ll have friends nearby. Then, slowly we get up and while I’m untangling my hair and finding jeans he goes downstairs in underpants and a sweatshirt and starts making french toast. He’s got the first round frying by the time I head downstairs, and is perched on the stool by the espresso machine, teaching Sprout the steps. He pulls a perfect shot. “Iced or hot, Mama?” he asks.

We eat mounds of french toast and it’s perfect: eggy, with just a hint of vanilla and cream. Then, after unloading and loading the dishwasher and packing all the cookbooks that seem to have mounded themselves on the kitchen table, we head to the car with a lab slip for blood work.

Sprout watches the practitioner closely as she cinches my arm and draws blood. Unlike Bean who wants to know how everything works, Sprout wants to know if I’m okay. If it hurts. If I flinch. (I don’t, just for him.)

They took such good care of me all day.