Lists and Prayers

IMG_7747The Little One wakes in the middle of the night. “Mama, I’m scared,” she says. She is pressed to the side of my bed, her face inches from mine. I can just make out her tousled outline in the gloom. She is clutching her Elephant Lovey, wide-awake, restless, needing. I am sluggish and groggy, but not entirely asleep.

This is the fourth night out of the last five she’s come padding down the hallway before daylight. After the second night, my body reset itself to match her wonky circadian rhythm and I stir just seconds before I hear her door open. Each night before I click my light off, I plead to whatever divine power is in charge of slumber: “Please let her stay in her bed tonight.” My prayer is for me as much as it is for her. Once again my petition has been denied. Continue reading “Lists and Prayers”

Making Magic: Thoughts on The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Big Magic

Lately I have found myself in the kitchen. This is not traditionally the room in my house I prefer to hang out in for any longer than I have to, yet there I am, baking a plum tart or tomato-basil quiche and just this week homemade brownies from a friend’s family recipe.

It’s not just baking that’s going on in the kitchen, though. I’m rearranging the serving dishes and the wooden spoons, casting out the overused ones. I’m sorting through years of the kids’ artwork that’s piled up in the three baskets above the shared desk. I am clearing and cleaning, sudsing and rinsing, wiping down and sweeping up. These are not tasks that generally rate high on my pleasure scale. Until recently, I’ve always felt compelled to put my house in order before I could tackle any other activity, including writing. Often, I never got around to the writing. Continue reading “Making Magic: Thoughts on The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Big Magic”

5 Ways St. Patrick’s Day Prepared Me for Motherhood

IMG_4570In my 20s and early 30s, wearing green, pinching the unfortunate souls who didn’t and getting wasted on St. Patrick’s Day was a required annual ritual my party hardy friends and I looked forward to. Then I had kids. Suddenly March 17 and the traditions of the day took on a different meaning. Here are five ways St. Patrick’s Day prepared me for motherhood: Continue reading “5 Ways St. Patrick’s Day Prepared Me for Motherhood”

Photo Finish Friday: East Coast Autumn

FallLeavesA magical autumn day on the east coast. The changing light, the sense of moving through one season on your way towards another. The way the air smells of burning wood and a hint of snow to come and baking. Holding hands warm and dry as the sun dances down the sky on its way into darkness.

M is for Magic

magic: an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source; mysteriously enchanting, magical.

For days Ella’s top front tooth dangles on the diagonal. Absently she pushes the tooth out with her tongue then cradles it back into place over and over. When it finally comes out, it is both delightful and disgusting.

“Mommy, mommy, I Iost my tooth!” she cries out from the kitchen table.

“Oh good. Finally,” I say, coming over to inspect the bleeding gap.

Soggy Rice Krispies spill out of her mouth as her tongue searches for the uprooted tooth. She is giggling, which sounds more like gurgling thanks to all the milk.

“Uh oh,” she says. “I can’t find it.” Her little face, flushed with excitement a moment ago, now collapses with disappointment. We search the counter and her chair, shake out her shirt and scan the floor. Nothing.

“How will the tooth fairy know to come tonight if there isn’t a tooth?”

Ella is six and I love that she still believes in the tooth fairy, ignoring the sober opinions of her classmates who think they know better.

“Don’t worry honey, we’ll find it,” I say, although I’m not entirely sure about that.

When I was little, I believed the tooth fairy lived at the bottom of the garden at the old Victorian house we rented. Along the wooden fence where the greenery grew a bit wild, long stemmed lavender bent and sighed into the sweet smelling spray roses. Hydrangea bloomed in shades of cream and lilac and just under their bushy stems grew a few toadstools. This is where the tooth fairy lived. Whenever I lost a tooth, I’d carefully, quietly watch the hydrangea bush for a glimpse of her stashing away my tiny lost tooth.

I not only believed in fairies, but also talking spiders, teddy bears that hosted midnight tea and friendly, flying dragons. Why not? Just because I hadn’t actually seen any of these amazing creatures didn’t mean they didn’t exist. In fact, me believing in them made it all the more possible that they did exist.

As I grew older, fairies gave way to grown-up magic: the rush of a first kiss, the glory of the sun setting behind the Oregon mountains, the presence of divine love as I circled my husband under the chuppah on our wedding day, the overwhelming wonder I felt looking into the eyes of my newborn girls. I see magic in the measured unfolding of the roses after a hard winter, the joy in my child’s eyes the moment she “gets” long division, the smile that slowly returns to my dear friend’s face a few months after her mother dies.

Magic is everywhere. You just have to believe it’s possible.


After I take the kids to school, I go for a walk in the hills above my northern California town. That’s when I see her. She darts across my path and into the sun-dappled crisscross of bending oak and wild fern. She is about as big as my thumb, her body a reddish-brown. Her filmy wings are a pale yellow dotted in ebony, sprinkled with silver. I watch her flit away, sparkling and spiraling into the woods.

When I get home, I’m still stunned by my magical encounter: was that really a fairy or just a butterfly or a moth? Is it strange that a grown woman is even entertaining the whole possibility of fairies? Feeling a little ridiculous, I distract myself with one more search for Ella’s tooth. Almost immediately I find it on the floor under the edge of the kitchen table. I was convinced Ella had swallowed it or it had ended up going down the drain with the rest of her unfinished breakfast. And yet here it is, in my hand, ready to be hidden under a pillow and magicked away.

The next morning Ella comes running into our bedroom.

“Look, she came!” she squeals waving her dollar at me. “My tooth is gone!”

She grins her silly gap toothed grin looking like a sailor recovering from a bar room brawl. Then her face becomes serious.

“Tell me the truth mommy,” she says. “Is it really you?”

I’m not going to lie, but I also won’t be the one who breaks the magic. “Well, what do you think?” I ask.

Perhaps it’s only in that moment when we convince ourselves that something is impossible that it becomes so. As Ella searches my face for the answer, I wonder if this will be that moment for her.

“Nah, I know it’s the tooth fairy,” she says, bouncing out of the room.

That’s my girl.

Note: this story took place five and half years ago. Ella is now almost 12 — and she still believes in magic.

I’m participating in the 2014 A to Z Challenge during the month of April using the very broad theme of LOVE to carry me through the alphabet. Check out writing by other bloggers taking on the #atozchallenge at @AprilA2Z.