The alarm sounded earlier than normal, or at least it felt earlier than normal after 11 hours of yoga on Saturday. Nobody was very happy about the abrupt wake up call, either, especially Desmond who bitched a black streak about being dragged to a pre-dawn race to see his sisters run. 

Fair enough, I told him. But we're a family and we support each other.

We're a family who also sometimes leaves things to the last minute, so at 6:30 a.m. we were racing down Old Town streets trying to find ones that weren't already blocked for the US National Road Racing Championships. Then, we had to find the race packets that should have been picked up the night before.


Long story short, Kent, Esme and Josephine made it to the line in time for the 7 a.m. start of the 5K. Esme took off on her own fairly quickly and Kent ran alongside Josephine. Esme placed second in her age group with a time of 24:59 and Josephine, in the same age group, placed sixth at 35:46. 

I love to watch them run and have never once left a race without deep regret that I couldn't run with them. My back is what it is, though, and I'm grateful for what I can do, right? Right?!

I needed coffee and they got post-race treats. I asked Esme to hold my phone as I futzed with my drink and she snapped a photo. 

I swear I've never said that.

Josephine desperately wants a Rainbow Loom, so she set up shop on the corner selling her original artwork: bookmarks, pictures, birthday cards. She made $14.33 in just a few hours. Moral of the story, if you have to choose between a career in journalism or art, choose art.

Kent and I got a babysitter and went to yoga class together. He finally got to meet a teacher I've been raving about for months and we got to spend 90 minutes with our mats next to each other like we used to before the kids were born. I didn't even think to take a picture which probably means my head was in the right place. Present in the moment and all that yoga speak. 

Esme got her first legit phone call today from a friend. Her pal, Ava, called from Raleigh. "Hi, can I talk to Esme?" she asked.

"Sure," Kent said. 

And Esme went off to the quiet of our bedroom closet to talk for close to 20 minutes. About what? I haven't a clue.

I've enjoyed chronicling the week and revisiting a writing groove, but when I think about what I've shared with you, one critical piece of our daily lives has been missing: bedtime stories. I haven't included it basically because it's not my thing. Story time is all Kent's domain and he is a master. God love that man, he reads to the kids every blasted night. Even when they're acting like miscreants.

Sometimes, he reads one book to Tobias, then another to the older kids. Sometimes, they read the same one. He mixes it up as well and lets the kids read aloud. This week, they're on "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" which amuses me to no end given the recent story on the NYT parenting blog written by a woman who basically self-edits (CENSORS!) Harry Potter as she reads it to her 5-year-old. Not here. The kids get the good with the bad, the enchanted and the evil, the whole shebang. Just like our life.


Force of a Thousand Oms

"Yoga's weird and you're weird. That's why you like it." Baron Baptiste

In every yoga class I go to, the teacher knows not to adjust me into an intense back-opening pose. They don't mess with me in cobra, locust, wild thing or flip dog. It's pretty obvious from watching me that I coddle my lower back. I don't do upward dog. I don't do wheel. Also, teachers routinely ask their students before class whether they have injuries. I always mention my history of disc herniations. 

The instructors assisting the Baron Baptiste full-day immersion workshop didn't know that, though, so when I flipped my dog during the last practice of the day, the teacher supported my lower back and tapped my thighs and basically waited for me to drop into wheel. 

The last time I did a full wheel was in the weeks and months following Esme's birth. At the time, I was eager to dive back into my yoga practice and explore poses I had to take a break from toward the end of my pregnancy. I missed the vitality and power of a vigorous practice and I wanted to do it all. Now. Immediately.

The teacher cued us into wheel and I was  gung ho, totally ignorant to the fact that my body was still surging with pregnancy hormones that relaxed my ligaments and made my joints loosey goosey. I pushed past previous edges without understanding why but happy to be back in my body. And so I practiced as much as I could. Until a few months later, I couldn't practice at all because of the extreme pain in my upper arms and shoulders. I went from full wheels to the inability to lift my arms to shoulder height. It was the first of many injury- or pregnancy-related hiatuses I took from a regular yoga practice. And it was the last time I did wheels. 

Upside down, in a room full of 400 yogis, I found an opening in my lower back I haven't felt in I don't remember when. I do not feel compelled to do wheels. I don't feel like my yoga practice is lacking because I don't practice them. I don't feel pushed by any sense of ego or competition on my mat. My practice is mine. So, I would not have dropped into the pose if it wasn't for that most glorious feeling of openness that followed a wave of pop pop pop pops. 

It happened like this: we flipped our dogs and the teacher walked past and placed her hands under my back. Time kind of stopped because I could sense that she was coaxing me toward more and I wondered how my body would respond and then, the pops, and I switched my standing hand and dropped my other and there I was… in wheel. 

I thought about it later. Perhaps, I was supported by the energy in the room and the force of a thousand Oms.



Hello, morning. You looked beautiful today. 

I hit the SNOOZE button at 5:20 a.m., rolled over and took stock of my body. I planned to go to the 6 o'clock yoga class but my legs felt out to gas. I thought ahead to Saturday and the 11-hour yoga intensive I signed up for, then Sunday and the 90-minute class Kent and I plan to take. I reminded a friend just this week of the yoga notion of Ahimsa or "non-violence." "Practice it on yourself," I told her. I decided to follow my own advice and skip practice, rest my legs, save some fuel for the weekend. 

Instead of an asana practice, I experimented with breath work. One of my teachers asked us to practice lengthening our inhales and exhales. I find the exhales easier and can get to 26 seconds. The inhales are much harder and today I topped out at 18 seconds. My teacher can push his inhales all the way into the 40s. The freak. 

The kids eat 25 pounds of fresh fruit every week and by this morning, we were out, so I stopped by the grocery for more. I also picked up some power bars for the yoga workshop and, oh, malted milk balls. It's a sickness, I know.

Desmond is a super sensitive, intense little fellow who grasps the world in full and terrible detail and, as a result, can feel overwhelmed under the weight of it all. We are trying to help him find more happiness and better coping skills. So, every Friday, I sit in this lobby while he talks to a psychologist. 

The plumber called multiple times while I sat there and I imagined there was some disaster afoot at the house - a ruptured sewer line, broken tiles, I don't know, something. I sent him straight to voicemail every time because I thought, what good can I do now? I'm not going to take Desmond out of the appointment early anyway. You deal with it. I finally called him when we were back on the road to school. The crisis? He needed me to stop by Home Depot again. 

Oh, Home Depot, long time no see. You have some tiles and a toilet for me, right?

Which reminds me. The slow creep of Christmas crept even further back this year. We started seeing Christmas trees and decorations literally the day after Halloween. Earlier this week, Josephine even remarked on the trees and wondered why they're out already. "It feels like everyone is trying to rush the holiday," she said. To wit:

Living so close to the White House, we often see Marine I in flight - over the garden plot, the house, along the Mt. Vernon Trail, certainly most places in the city and many days outside school. It flew over today while Tobias was throwing a paper airplane which struck me kind of funny. I always try to wave.

I wore a new sweater.

Final random thought: after dinner, I watched last night's episode of Scandal on Hulu . Holy hell. We need to talk about that one. 



When Tobias and I turned the corner on the drive to school, we gasped. 

"Wow!" I said.

"That is awesome!" he shouted. 

And it was: a golden carpet of ginkgo leaves that blanketed the sidewalk and grass and stretched the length of three houses. I parked the car when I got home and walked to the corner to snap a picture. 

Because I wore my pajamas to preschool drop off, I showered after taking the picture and soaked in the tub for a short spell too. I remarked on Facebook that legs up the wall pose is really best executed in a hot bubble bath. It's true. Try it. 

After the soak, I went for my third rolfing appointment. Rolfing is a form of deep tissue massage that focuses on whole body alignment rather than a single spot of pain or tension. So, for instance, if you suffer from shoulder pain, a rolfer wouldn't just massage the shoulder but work on various parts of your body to find the source of the pain. 

My first appointment was very similar to the first meeting I had with my physical therapist. He watched me walk. He stared at me while I stood. He asked reams of questions. 

I wasn't in pain when I decided to see him, the physical therapist got that in check last spring. But I'm not 100 percent either. I am constantly worried, constantly, that one wrong move and my back is going to go out again. I am super cautious in yoga and step back from any twinge of discomfort. I don't do upward dog. I don't do wheel. I avoid most any type of bendy back motion you can name. 

I wondered whether the rolfing might help free up some of that anxiety, bring more motion to my motionless parts. The verdict is still out on whether it works. My neck hurt for a few hours after my first appointment and my neck never hurts. Then, my hip started hurting and I felt even more lopsided than I already am. The hip pain lingered after my second appointment and I wondered whether the rolfing was making things worse, not better.

But I left today's appointment feeling square and level and good. So good that I went for a walk in the woods and tripped some sort of endorphin surge that I felt quite ecstatic with the bald eagles flying overhead, the shimmering water and the leaves, the glorious leaves. 

Tobias and his mates run wild in the grass outside school every day after dismissal. They climb the cherry trees, wrestle, fight, then make up and hug. They always hug. 

He recorded license plate numbers for fun today during pick up.

I was supposed to take the girls to swim practice after school but Esme felt poorly and went to her bed to read, then fell asleep. Frankly, I was grateful to stay home. If there's one part of the week I detest, it's swim practice. We're required to stay while the kids swim which means Desmond and Tobias are forced, like me, to sit for 90 minutes and more while the girls swim back and forth, back and forth. Of course, the boys are bored out of their minds and take it out on each other. It's a pretty miserable window of time. Instead, I made dinner and futzed about on the computer. 

Early to bed. 



There's a spot in the corner of the couch beneath the lamp where I sit every morning. I curl my legs under me or sit criss cross applesauce, drink my coffee and stare out the windows. From where I sit, I can see the birch tree outside the dining room window and the dogwood outside the window in the front room. In the spring, when the dogwood blooms, it's as if I'm suspended inside the tree's blossoms. All but a few straggler leaves remain on the tree now which has opened a clear view of the giant oaks across the way. 

The sun rises over there, toward the river, and the room slowly fills with light as the day wakes. 

I go to bed early in part so I can get up early and enjoy this view, this silence, these still moments before bleary-eyed kids sit for cereal at the table. 

The first of Kent's alarms rang at 6:38 a.m. today. It's my signal to get up and make the kids' lunches. I try to finish with the kitchen before he starts fumbling around to make everyone breakfast. 

I drive carpool every afternoon, but we trade morning drop off from week to week with our neighbor. She picked up the kids at 7:15 and I got to eat breakfast and try to talk to Kent between Tobias' incessant ramblings about this thing or the other. 

At 8:30, I dropped Tobias at preschool then drove to the elementary school for a 90-minute shift as a library volunteer. The school requires every family to contribute 50 volunteer hours, so I help in the library and cafeteria every week, chaperone field trips, and, in December, I'll start helping with the first-graders' reading program. 

I've signed up in previous years to work in the library but never got picked. This year, for whatever reason, I did. It's a fun job that appeals to my sense of quiet and order. I shelve books, check them in and out. It reminds me of my bookstore days. 

Ho-hum errands after: 

The car wash

The variety store for dish soap

Coffee and laundry and a trip to Old Navy for winter coats that actually fit Desmond and Josephine.

Our oven broke a week ago and I haven't set up a repair appointment because I haven't been home long enough to meet a repairman. I finally made a call today. They're coming to the house Saturday (when I'll be out). I also called our next door neighbor to see if I could cook two meatloaves in her oven for dinner. Then I left to pick up Tobias from his school. Every afternoon, he and I queue up on the streets of Old Town outside the school 45 minutes before dismissal. It sounds insane. It IS insane, but the lines are so long and the process complicated and unless I want the kids to sit on the blacktop for 30 minutes or more waiting, we have to wait in the car. I read my phone or listen to NPR. He talks and talks and talks and talks. 

Here he is once we finally get the others, happy to be joined by people who don't try to shush him. 

Fast forward to my favorite part of Wednesday, the thing I look forward to all week, in fact: a new "Rocket" yoga class. It started at our studio about a month ago but it's taught by a teacher who co-owns another studio in the area. He's an inversion junkie but the class, while loaded with opportunities to go upside down, starts with the most delicious 25 minutes of breathwork. He puts on a loud drumbeat soundtrack and we inhale four beats, exhale four beats and move through five repetitions of Sun Salutations A and B, some of which we do with our eyes closed. The union of movement and breath has always been my favorite part of any class. This one just has bonus handstand and funky arm balances afterward to boot. We end each class with a four-minute headstand, including a minute spent in a pike position, that's quite fierce. 

The teacher got tied up in traffic and was late, so class felt rushed, not quite as intense. Still, there was time to close my eyes and breathe. And play.