Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Unexpected Sweetness

Chris loves me--this I know. I've grown accustomed to his everyday ways of showing me his affection. I still feel warm and tingly whenever he dishes my ice cream or does a chore I could totally do for myself.... it's become a joke in our relationship that Ruth never feeds herself. It's silly but I see it for what it is--my sweet husband showing me he loves me. And I know I'm crazy lucky to have a man who wants to spoil me enough to get up in the middle of watching tv to dish me ice cream, bring me pretzels, or feed whatever ridiculous craving I'm having at the moment.

What I don't always remember (or at least not in that same giddy aren't I lucky kind of a way) is that Bob loves me too.

I don't remember the exact context but the other night we were all debating dessert and I volunteered that Chris (who was in the other room momentarily) would scoop my ice cream when he got back. I totally could have dished up my own vanilla and I realized it was presumptuous so I said something about how I should get it myself. Someone responded that Chris likes to show me his love by serving me which is true (and I was perfectly content to hold the baby and let Chris get it when he came back--who am I to stop the man from showering me with affection?) I didn't even notice what Bob was doing until he handed me a bowl of frozen deliciousness with a big grin on his face but it's been days now and I'm still ticked pink by his sweet gesture and explanation that he was going to love on me before Chris could. How adorable is that?

It's funny how we learn each other's languages of love: I'm guessing Bob learned to love on people from through acts of service by watching his Dad (possibly the single best example I can think of of "service")--and I'm not sure if I picked a man who speaks love in the same language because of Bob. Or if I'm learning to appreciate Bob now more because of Chris? Regardless I'm lucky to have two men who spoil me by taking care of me. And I hope you both know I see it.

So guys: Thank you for munchies and drink fetching. For unloading and loading the dishwasher. For grocery shopping and making sure there are always sodas in the house (and M&Ms on the table! YUM). For handling details and helping life around here run smoother. You are both much appreciated. (I just hope I'm not getting too much more than I give?)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Walking Liam

As Victoria said in her blog, she and I took care of Liam today (mostly her). We took a long walk with Liam. It is neat the way he seems to enjoy the walks, looking at every person or dog that comes by, listening to every sound. He is so alert and so happy. After his long walk, he played happily by himself for most of the rest of the time. I tried to engage him, but he seemed to prefer to explore, pick up things, preferably with buttons or that made noise. Nearly 4 hours without Mommy or Daddy and no problem.

Blessed consequence

of the way we are living is that Liam trusts me as one of his regular every day people. Ruth and Chris went to the movies this afternoon and Liam stayed with Bob and me, and I was nervous that he would freak without his parents once we finished our walk and spent time at home. He didn't freak at alll. He played happily with bob and me after checking for his parents in their room. He hugged me around the legs and bonked his head happily against my knees as I cooked dinner. He played, laughed, protested putting on pajama pants, behaved just like his usual self. It didn't feel like babysitting, taking care of him. It felt like family. I love it.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Material Progress

Before we started the co-housing, there were times when I felt like my physical environment had just been stirred with a stick, that I had that little control over where things went and what things I owned. I tried. I'm not messy, but I'm lously at creating organizational systems and seem not to think much about whether something I've had for a long time is still useful or loved. It was hard for me to give things away that had been in the family a long time, even mundane things that could be used better by someone else. Ruth has helped me change many of my opinions about objects, and I want to keep much less now. Also she is great at setting up systems and helping me understand them and I seem to be fine at using them once I understand, so for the first time in decades (mybe ever) I could tell you from my chair in the bedroom exactly where to look in the kitchen for the cornmeal, the potato masher, the muffin tins. It's pretty cool.

Though the work of pruning belongings will continue at least into the spring, has progressed markedly. I think there is nothing in the kitchen or living room that we have not consciously chosen to keep, and I've made great progress in that direction with clothes, shoes and such. Family pictures and old letters are another story altogether. Maybe next year. Seriously, it does seem more possible than it has in decades to have a real handle on what I keep.

Liam has his own room now, lovingly painted by his Mom in Pacific northwest colors to match the mural of La Push that adorns one wall. He slept a good portion of last night alone in the bed in his room, a surprise to all of us. Bob and I are resettled in the middle bedroom with the pull down wall bed, and like having more space when the bed is up. Bob finally has drawers and a half closet of his own for the first time since we started the cohousing. We have a beautiful green wall that will feature our Navajo tree of life rug and shelves for treasures.I think the bedroom situation is resolving now into one that really works for all of us. Still boxes to go through - still a box in the middle of my bedroom floor in fact - but better, much better.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Continuing to settle in

It's taking us a while and I am impressed by our continuing progress settling into our new lifestyle. Over the last weeks a major outdoor plumbing project was completed (digging up the front yard to replace clogged sewage pipes.) It was terribly expensive and MUDDY, but done now. We have reapportioned space - I think we've got it right now. Liam has the bedroom Bob and I were in, closest to his parent's room and Bob and I have the front bedroom with the wall bed and the built in book shelves, which seems a better match all around. The garage still is partly storage, but is also game room and photo studio. I'm begininning to know where most everything goes, except in my own room which is still in flux. But we'll get there. I haven't felt so in control of space and objects in a really long time. I know I felt like this as a high school girl when I was prepearing to leave home and had all of my belongings in labeled boxes. I was still pretty organized when we moved into this house, and even after the fire when Ruth was three, but somewhere between then and now, especially with the influx of stuff from blending families and inheitance of precious family objects, it just got out of control. It's good to be organized again, but more than that, good to have people who give their opinions and help eith implementation.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I find writing here much more difficult than I've ever found it to be for any of my other blogs. And I'm not quite sure why--my best guess is that I don't feel like I have anything compelling to say about co-housing. Early on Mom said she thought people would be interested to hear about our experiences and it made sense to me (afterall I LOVE reading accounts of other people's adventures in new ways of doing things--and the idea of seeing it from all directions made sense).

And yet I just don't feel compelled to write. It's easy, it's natural. If I was doing something less natural for me (like say trying to join the raw foods movement--the "RAW-volution") it would be easier for me to come up with new things to say but the truth is at this point it's much more about DOING than reflecting and it's mostly about trying to figure out where to put furniture, what color to paint, etc... and I figure ya'll aren't that interested in that stuff (we'll first I'll try the desk by the window with the crib over by that door, and if I don't like that I'll switch, or maybe that bookshelf that's in the garage over there...?).

I'm loving getting a chance to MAKE a home again but it's more something I'm doing with my hands than anything I can write about here... I'll work on it.

(And now my family is home and I must get back to life).

Friday, December 11, 2009

Hanukah in the house

The mennorah has burned down and Ruth and Chris are in the kitchen prepping lattkes for their traditional party tomorrow. Liam is asleep in their bed, and K.K> is flopped on the couch. Bob will be home in the morning. I like sitting back here in my room, off duty after a very tiring work week, part of the love of a family, hearing their voices from the kitchen, but not having to do much. That is something I didn't know I missed when our nuclear families lived seperately, the pleasure of loved ones around without effort or intention, evokes the best memories of childhood.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


is one of the sweetest benefits of this co-housing. I had a tough work day today, long and intense and came home tired on a cold night. Chris met me at the bus stop in the car and took me on an errand that would have taken an hour of walking in the chill. Then we came home he cooked dinner while I played with Ruth and Liam while Ruth bathed. He and Ruth both made suggestions to help me get a good night's sleep (and she made chocolate mint chip cookies too!) Chris moved the spaceheater into my bedooom which sometimes doesn't warm up well on the coldest nights. being taken care of like that is something I didn't expect to experience again in my life - the direct personal care, except from Bob. It just feels so good. I hjope I give as much as I get.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Thirty three years

I've lived in this house. I've lived here longer than I was old when I moved in - and I felt very grown up then, so efficective finding the right house for the right price in the right neighborhood. It was the house where Kerry and I wanted to raise our children, and where we got our family off to a start. I sit writing tonight in the room that was first Joanna's nursery and then Ruth's. We sure didn';t expect this house to catch fire one terrifying night and be rebuilt with love. We didn't expect Kerry to die young. Widowed in this house with two little girls, I doubted and hoped that I could ever find another good man who would love me and live in this house with use. And then Bob came into our lives and we all learned together that, hard as blending a family is, love is stronger than loss.

The house has gone through so many changes, as I have myself - messy stages and beautifications, stagnation and renewal. Now the physical house is emerging in new form as the homse for our co-housing family. Ruth and Chris have reclaimed the garage, which was cluttered, disorganized, dirty, over full with inherited tools, old boxes, camping gear, stored broken furniture, and things I didn't even know the names of. I scrubbed the garage floor tonight whileRuth painted the ceiling bright white for the new incarnation as phjoto studio. It seems right that Ruth chopped down the old hedge that grew very tall in front

of the house, taller and taller as the years passed. Now there is a sense of openness when I walk out the front door - new possibilities await.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Still Giving Thanks

I wish I had written a profoud post closer to the date of our first co-housing Thanksgiving - and Liam's first Thanksgiving on earth. The week of Thanksgiving was rich and busy with travel and talk, the dayhighlighted by a lucious meal Chris mostly cooked (but wow can Joanna do dessert!) A highlight for me was crafts Ruth set up for the kids(and the kids in us). We made turkey with all our family footprints for feathers. He's hanging in the hall and I eventually hope to get his picture posted here.

Thanksgiving, and living isn't seamless here. Three nuclear families, three generations, multiple needs and preferences, lead to complexity. One of the most valuable lessons, as well as one with which I still struggle, is that I can't and it's not my responsibility to make everybody happy all the time. People can work out their own differences and I making myself crazy trying to smooth waters only makes me crazy.

Wee've had our share of minor fall illnesses andare still in appliance hell. Ruth fixed the old dishwasher three times, at least , before we gave up and bought a wonderful new one after Tahnksgiving. now the dryer's sluggish and we still are getting estimates on major plumbing which will require digging under sidewalk and driveway, but NOT under the house as we feared was possible.

However, everything that really needs to work, works. The Hannukah decorations are up. A jigsaw puzzle is in progress on the kitchen table. The garage is way more organized than it's been in twenty years. Liam knows exactly who Bob and I are and toddles joyfully into our room whenever he wants to - arms open, smile on his face. Joanna visits when K.K. has a late rehearsal, sometimes with Andrea, and the two little cousins smile and play. Tonight Andrea fed Liam a piece of garlic bread, much to their mutual delight. It may snow tomorrow, Liam's first snow, sparkling on our co-housing adventure.

Bob's call to activism

Us adults at co-housing ThreGeneration read about and decided to engage in the following two actions during the next few weeks:

Amnesty International's Global Write-Athon http://www.amnestyusa.org/writeathon/action_took.php?ICID=I1011A2w.amnestyusa.org/writeathon/ and

Save Darfur's 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence http://action.savedarfur.org/campaign/16days

If you are not already signed up for these, we encourage you to look at these and join us. Send us other actions you recommend.

For me, talking to Sara and Peter in our visit to Iowa about social change and Peru increased my awareness and determination to try to do more about social change in the small ways I can.