Monday, December 29, 2008

New Years resolutions

Every year I make them:
1. Lose weight
2. Get fit
3. Be a size blahblah again

Every year, I don't lose weight. I will never be a size blahblah again.

But girl, this year I AM FIT.

I can go up three flights of stairs without puffing.

I can carrying my nearly two year old on my back for hours through the mall, the zoo, wherever.

I can bike ride for an hour without breaking a sweat.

My heart, lungs, and muscles are so much stronger than they have ever been. I am centered and balanced in my eating.

I am not skinny. I am not slim. But I am strong. (Thanks to Jody and Stroller Strides!)

So, it's time to make a new list.

1. Laugh way more
2. Not take myself so seriously.
3. Choose joy!
4. Be patient
5. Listen more, talk less
6. Pray more and with less agenda
7. Love my husband enough to be kind, even when I don't want to be.
8. Keep working on myself without beating myself up
9. Forgive, forgive, forgive. Then forgive again.
10. Continue to let God light the dark corners of my life.

And that's it. No more resolutions to change something that can't be changed. Just peace with myself, flaws and all.

What are YOUR resolutions? Leave me a comment friends!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Joy to the world, the vomiting has come!

Yes, you read that right.

Nothing says Christmas like a vomiting toddler.

The evening started off great. We made a beautiful (okay, ghastly) gingerbread house with Grandma. It was all fun and games until Lily started gagging. We thought maybe she had eaten too much candy and it would just pass.

Oh, denial is a mighty river.

Five hours, two cups of pedialyte, and 6 rounds of vomiting later we finally admitted to ourselves this might be a stomach bug. Mark took the first shift, waking me at 3:30. I then took the last shift, until she woke up like a spitfire at 5 AM. She ran around the house making Tazmanian devil noises before again crashing at 7. Not only did she not seem to even remember she was sick, she acted as if just 5 short hours later she wasn't tossing her cookies across mommy's lap.


Anywho, we went to Christmas Eve celebrations anyway, where I am sure our little typhoid Mary infected nearly the whole of Eastern Nebraska with her bug.(Including myself-I am currently writing this while my stomach makes Chewbacca-like sounds. I am simply waiting to erupt like Vesuvius. Mark has been calling dinosaurs in the downstairs bathroom for hours now. Ah the joy of parenting. )

Ah, and did I happen to mention the cold? No? Ummmmm let me just say- WHY THE HELL DOES ANYONE LIVE IN THAT GODFORSAKEN STATE??? Cold isn't even the word.

I digress.

I got to spend a magnificently kid free day with my bestest friend. It was a day full of shopping, tea and coffee, cheesecake, and lots of laffing. LOTS of laffing. I was thrilled to discover April and I still share the same keen fashion sense. As we were exiting the car to go into a store, we both mentioned how friggin cold it was (oh, 11 degrees or so), and then happened to both put on our scarves. With no coats of course. Just the scarves. Because neck warmth is essential, ya'll. We all know essential body heat is carried in the neck, right?

And yes, I saw my father. It was not as bad as I thought, but didn't make me feel any better, if that makes any sense. I'm not going to overthink it.

I also saw something I wanted to share from the moment I witnessed it. A couple on the plane going to Omaha had two small children. One was maybe three, the other, an infant. The three year old had obvious disabilities. He wasn't walking, wasn't talking, and seemed to be sight impaired.

But he smiled from the moment I laid eyes on him until the moment I lost sight of him. And so did his parents. In the time our flight took off and touched down they must have kissed him a hundred times. He must have laughed just as much. They never stopped smiling, ever.

They were joyful, even in the midst of a difficult situation- taking a disabled child on a long flight. Finding a way to change his diaper in a small cramped airplane bathroom. Juggling their infant, bags, and toddler while they waited for their child's wheelchair.

They chose joy.

I felt as if God had placed those people directly in my line of sight so I could see a living example of joyful living. Despite obstacles and chaos and difficulties. It was beautiful and touching.

So that, in a nutshell, was our trip to the tundra. No matter how far I roam, I love to come home.

And now, my friends, I do believe my time has come to call some dinosaurs.

Goodnight!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Off to the frozen tundra...

I will be traveling all next week to Omaha, Nebraska, where the temp is now a downright balmy...6 degrees. Yes, you read it right- 6.

You can stop laughing anytime.

The good news is I will be spending Christmas with my favorite people on earth...my family. I will also be consuming oh, roughly, 300 million calories a day and will have to airlifted home, but that's the beauty of the holidays, huh? Fudge and turkey and cookies, oh my!

In all seriousness, however, this Christmas is different than any other I have known. I am happier, more grounded, and more convinced of Christ's great love than I have ever been. Peace reigns in my once chaotic soul...and it is beautiful.

I have my family, I have my health, I have spectacular friends, and of course, I have my Lily. Heaven is just a short jump away from my everyday life.

So this year I am going to celebrate the joy of the season. I am going to take the moment to allow myself to get teary eyed at the Christmas carols, to enjoy the lights and the ornaments, to watch my baby girl as she experiences the delightful chaos of Christmas Eve. I will also take her into my arms in the quiet stillness of a sleeping house, and whisper to her of Jesus's birth so long ago. A birth we still celebrate today, these years later. A birth that makes our lives as we know it possible. The birth of the One who saves, gives, loves, and cherishes us.

Merry CHRISTmas my friends. May it be peaceful, joyful, and sweet.

Love to all.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

She remembers..

Lily saw Dixie's little girl, Spencer, nursing today. This always brings a reknewed interest in breastfeeding, or "NeeNee", as she calls it.

So tonight she had her duck in the bath with her, and she was holding him to her chest. Suddenly she looked up at me and said "NeeNee!!!". She was pretending to nurse her duck.

Later we were drying off and getting lotioned up and she was still holding the duck. She took him from one side to the other and whispered "Udder tide!" (other side)While I watched she "nursed" her duck from the other side and then whispered "all done".

That's when my tears started flowing.

I never spoke those words to her when she was nursing, except in the dead of night when we would nurse in bed. I would softly whisper "other side", and roll her over, then "all done"...and tiptoe her back to her bed.

It was such a special time, when we would just doze together and cuddle. It was primal and loving and nurturing for us both. And she remembers it enough to re-enact it.

After I collected myself I asked her if she remembers "NeeNee's". She nodded. I asked her "Was it good?" and she said promptly "Chocate milk". I knew she meant it tasted like choclate milk to her.

Wow. Anyone who doesn't believe breastfeeding has a profound and lasting impact on a child's soul is crazy. I never thought she would remember her night feedings, but she does. Down to every last movement and word I spoke to her.

She continues to amaze me.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Yahweh Center Project is complete!

Today I delivered the blankets to the Yahweh center. It was a 20 minute drive, and I spent the time listening to praise and worship music and talking to God. There was alot of me telling him just how wonderful He is, and how happy I am that He chose me, and how grateful I am that He allowed me to complete this project.

There were some tears as well, as I thought about those kids that were behind the walls of that center. Sometimes this life just isn't pretty. It isn't safe, and it isn't kind. It most certainly isn't fair. But those children have a fighting chance, because they are surrounded by believers who are focused on getting them well.

I sat for a few minutes in my car, collecting myself before I took the blankets inside. I laid hands on them one last time and prayed for the children that would soon use them. I prayed for their stregth in the face of adversity, for them to be comforted in times of sorrow, and for them to seek His face always.

Sometimes I wonder if it is only through great anguish that we find ourselves searching for God, and for something bigger to alleviate our pain. Surely there are those that have had a beautiful scar free life that love God and worship Him. But there are those who are broken by the past and traumatized by memories that have a deep abiding NEED for God that encompasses their life.

I am so very very grateful to NEED God. To seek Him. To know what it is like to call out and be answered. Found in the wilderness and brought home. He not only comforts me, he calms me. He loves me. He thinks of me. Amazing.

As I drove home, I cried a bit more. Not sad tears, but ones of thankfullness for being allowed to give. The time I spent making those blankets will always be sacred to me. I prayed with each stitch, asking God over and over to bless the child it was going to with calm and knowledge that they were loved. It was such a quiet time for me to just rest with the Lord. He allowed me to have stillness in Him.

As I drove home, I listened to the song you are hearing now. The lyrics are the most profound and humbling I have heard. Being a believer does not mean we have all the answers, or that we are guaranteed a pain free life. It only means that when things are painful and hard, and anguish is all we can feel, we are never alone. We are carried, we are held.

May you feel Christ's love tonight, friend. You are held.

Actual conversation...

Sesame street is on...Big Bird is talking about a birdseed omelet.

Me: Ummmmm why would big bird eat an omelet? Isn't that just...wrong?

Mark: Why is that wrong?

Me: Cause he is a BIRD...duh! That would be like me eating unfertilized human eggs.

Mark: Oh yeah.

*we sip coffee in silence*

Me: I wonder if he eats turkey?

Mark: Well, of course he does. Why wouldn't he?

Me: Cause it would be like cannibalism.

Mark: But turkeys are dumb.

Me: *blank stare* ummmm, okay.

Mark: I think he eats turkey.

Me: *nods wisely, goes back to sipping coffee*


There you have it my friends....the discussion between a intensely smart man with his masters in anatomy and physiology, and his formerly intellegent and well read wife.

Don't be jealous.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Advent Conspiracy...

Taking Christmas back...







This year, I am searching for meaning. Not material.

I am blessed with a roof over my head. I am blessed with a loving family. With a child who is healthy. I am blessed beyond measure.

I want NOTHING. I want FOR nothing.

And I believe that having a small impressionable child has really colored my idea of what Christmas should mean. In the past, it was simply a time to get presents, and to see family. Now it is different...now it has a totally new meaning.

It means that I am celebrating the birthday of the One who made it possible for me to live my life as it is. This blessed life. This open life. This life as a new creation. I am celebrating the day He chose to become human and begin his life on this earth. For me. For all of us.

I am celebrating that one splendid night under a starry sky, when God became man. Wholly human, wholly divine. I am celebrating a miracle.

So how will I choose to celebrate this? With a mad rush to every store within driving distance? With creating a list of the things I want and need? With concentrating on the material?

This year, I chose differently.

To make blankets for children who have...nothing. Pain, and anguish. Who are teetering on the line between the family they have been pulled from and a foster family. Children who have been wounded.

http://www.yahwehcenter.org/

And it was fufilling, and a wonderful way to spend my time. And it was right and good. It even felt a little selfish. But with each one I sewed I became more and more convicted that this Christmas needs to be different from every other.

I really feel like God is calling me into a season of having less. Spending less. Wanting less. Spending more time in prayer and teaching Lily what a life in Christ is like by example rather than by words. Listening without distractions to the Holy Spirit.

I want to give, surely. I want to see my beloved family's face light up when I give them just the right gift. But I need, for myself, to spend this Christmas having nothing, emptying myself, and giving only. No taking. No wish lists. No gifts for myself.

This year I want only to give OF myself, of my time, and of my love.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm having one of those nights...

You know, when you feel like you could weep over any little thing?

I just had myself a good long cry. And if you asked me why, I couldn't tell you.

I miss Mark terribly. Yes, he's been gone 24 hours only, but I miss him.

I am simply worn out and tired from chasing a spirited little girl who refused to nap today.

I am weary in spirit over a variety of things.

I am sad that I am not pregnant, after being over a week late.

I am longing for...something. I don't know what. A baby snuggled sweet in my belly. My husband lying beside me in bed, putting his cold feet on mine. For Christmas to come already, so I can see everyone and see my sweet Lily's eyes light up.

Hence, the tears. Crying is a funny thing, huh? I used to cry often enough for a normal hormonal girl, but now I never seem to have the time.

I find myself on the verge of tears often, but I also find myself holding them back and telling myself to cry later, when it's more convenient. When I am alone. Or when I am in the shower so my mascara doesn't run. (I take serious pride in my eyelashes ya'll)

But I really think the power of tears is vastly underestimated. Gosh it feels good to cry sometimes, doesn't it? To just let go and have at it...go into the ugly cry, and really sob. To lose yourself in emotion, and stop repressing it. It is so freeing.

(I am aware any man reading this is totally confused right now. It's okay. You don't have to cry and like it. It's kinda a girl thing.)

I think I have a point here. Okay maybe not. But here I am, sitting at my computer. My face is still wet, my shirt still spattered with tears. And I feel good. I feel clean.

Okay, so there's no point to this post, other than to say I like to cry, and will be doing it more often. So If you pass me in the grocery store and I am getting misty over a melon, don't pay me any mind.

But if you have a tissue, could you share with me? I never have tissues.

Goodnight, friends.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hobbled

I have lived my life hobbled. I have been chained. I have allowed my chains to drag me down. I have used them to excuse my behavior. I have let them pull me to places I would never go willingly- into self pity, self doubt, and self loathing. I have let them rule me.

Shame on me. I will never get back the time I have wasted.

I cannot tell you of the time I have spent in self loathing and doubt. Wondering if I was good enough, strong enough, skinny enough, brave enough, funny enough, interesting enough. Enough enough. Damn it.

I am weary of carrying my baggage. I am tired of carrying the weight of my family's shit on my back. It's not mine. It never was. It was given to me, it wasn't something I created, for God's sake! But I have been carrying it anyway. Why?

I read a book a while ago. Max Lucado is an amazing christian writer who can make Christ so real it's as if you can actually touch him. "Traveling Light" is a masterpiece. It takes Psalm 23, something most people are familiar with, and transforms it into something that is life changing. The big idea of the book is this: carrying your burdens is not what Christ intended. He wants to bear it with us and for us. He wants us to cast it onto Him.

This is something I have always grappled with. Who would I be without my pain and anger? Who would I be without the weight of memory? Who would I be if I stepped away from it all and refused to pick it up again?

Because I can. We all can. We can drop it and walk away. We can leave it behind. We can be free.

See, my main issue is trust. I think that is most people who have been abused main issue. The same pain that draws you close to Christ is also the pain that makes you keep Him at arm's length, right? Because of fear that He might fail you like others have. Fail to protect you. Fail to cherish you. Fail to love you.

But Christ is not man. He cannot fail you. He will not walk away. He can be trusted. HE CAN BE TRUSTED. He can take it, bear it, and wash it away. Not only can he, but he will, with joy. It doesn't matter how bad it is. It doesn't matter what everyone else thinks of it. It doesn't matter if only you know. Nothing is too horrible for Him. Look at all He experienced. Look at who he surrounded Himself with.

God himself is well aquainted with pain, with loss. He is used to rejection. He was mocked, belittled. While on this earth He experienced the gamut of human emotion and pain. There is no feeling He does not know. Shame, hurt, betrayal, lonliness. He walked it all.

I have never been good at praying. But when I was a little girl, I had a dream that I took a walk with God. Ever since then, when I pray I picture a dirt road, overgrown with giant trees. Spanish moss hangs down nearly to brush the ground as sunlight filters through. I walk, sometimes in joy with my head held high. Sometimes in sorrow, my eyes never leaving the ground. Sometimes I am bursting with all of the things I want to share with Him. Ohter times, I come with a heaviness that doesn't even allow for words. At those times, I walk alone. But if I turn my head, He is there, behind me. He shadows my steps. I have learned to trust that he won't leave, even when I have nothing to say.

A few days ago I went to bed with a very heavy heart. I was sad enough to simply be silent and let the tears come as I tried to fall asleep. I decided to pray. Once again, I pictured a dirt road. I walked along, and I sensed God with me. Soon I was too weary to even walk. Instead I just stood and wept. I turned to look for Him, and He was close by, waiting. I was startled to see He was weeping as well. He held out His arms, slowly. His face was racked with pain.

"Won't you let me have it?" he asked.

I knew what He was asking for. All of it. All of the sorrow. All of the tears. All of the worry and doubt.

This time I was weary enough to hand it over. It was too heavy for me. It was too much. I am only human, with human strength. I needed Him. I needed help.

So I gave it over. My memories, my fears, my father's illness, my aches and needs and worries. I laid it down. I gave over my disappointment. I gave over my expectation.

I have never felt so free.

When I woke up, I went to Max Lucado's book again, and read Psalm 23 with new eyes.



Psalm 23

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,

3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, [a] I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.


Peace be with you, where ever you are on the path, friend.





(To my dear friend that I know reads my blog- The other day we had coffee, and we talked. You showed me a side of yourself that wasn't just about laughter and humor. You were kind and sympathetic when I told you about something that hurt me tremendously. You shared with me. I know you are hurting and feel alone-you aren't. You are loved. You are worthy. If you need me, I am here. )

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Obedience

The other day Mark, Lily and I went to the mall. Yes, at the height of Christmas shopping season I took my toddler and husband to the mall. I know, I am insane.

Anyway, in one of the stores I overheard this conversation:

"Shut up!!!" from a small child of maybe 3.

"You shut up!!!!!" from an adult, presumably the child's mother, right back at him. Nastily, and with a hand raised to boot.

Ummmmm wha?

First of all, the child should not being saying that. That's not up for debate. But for the mother to say it back? Holy moly.

People never cease to amaze and sicken me.

We all have our moments as parents. Where we lose it, we raise our voices, we forget our role as teacher and give in to our impatience. But I cannot imagine a time when I would EVER use that tone to my daughter, not to mention raise my hand to her as if it was an acceptable way to get my point across.

I was thinking alot about this for the past day or so, and the child's face kept popping into my mind, along with the word "obedience". Tonight when Lily challenged me at every turn I saw the child's face again. I really felt like God was giving me some sort of lesson- but what?

Then I got it. Having a child is not just about teaching obedience to them, but to also practice it yourself.

This requires a massive overhaul of my thinking. I must be obedient, to teach obedience to my daughter.

No, I am not talking about obedience to Mark, though goodness knows he would LOVE that, but obedience to God.

Even when it hurts.

Even when I don't agree with Him.

Even when I am unhappy.

Even when I want to rebel like....well, a toddler.

I have to be obedient, and do all things with a thankful and gracious heart. Boy do I have alot of work to do. :)

One thing I know for certain. I am aware at all times that before Lily was mine, she was God's. She still his, primarily. She is on loan to me, yes....but she is His precious creation. When I look at her that way, I see her in a totally different light. She was entrusted to me. Given to me.

Sometimes when she challenges me in the worst way and I am tempted to yell, scream, or swat, I think of the moment when she was born, and how it was as if God himself placed her on my chest. I felt Him in every corner of the room. And when I looked into her face I knew I had a chance to heal all of my own hurt and pain, through my love for her.

Obedience seems a small price to pay for this love I get to experience everyday.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The estrogen ocean...


Today I took a trip. It's a land I once inhabited often, when I had the time to be self indulgent and wallow in what I thought were real problems and troubles.

The land of sobbing and wailing. Have you heard of it?
And what, you might be asking, could take me to this place?


Grab a kleenex and a cup of coffee. Let's talk.

I was wandering out attic. Okay, not wandering since I barely have room to turn around, but I was innocently looking for Christmas decorations...and what did I open instead? Newborn clothes, lovingly washed and packed away, folded into tiny little bundles. Newborn clothes that still smelled like my now almost 2 year old did when she was fresh from the womb.

Her tiny newborn hat.



The first outfit that ever truly fit her. Size preemie, of course.


Tiny booties, tiny socks. Sleeping gowns. Rompers. I became instantly overwhelmed.
Before I knew it, I was sobbing hysterically. I am not an overly emotional person, (not anymore) but I could not for the life of me stop. I had to just give over to it and let it go. It was the first time in a long time I had cried like that. Long, hard, and with purpose. Add all that together, and this, my friends, is what you get.




Every outfit was linked in my mind to a memory of my sweet, tiny, fragile baby. The uncertainly during the last part of my pregnancy, the worry of those first few days when she was so sick. The first joyful and utterly exhausting weeks at home.





I remembered it all. I remember trying to bathe her when she was first home...just a little under 5 lbs at that point (after being readmitted to the hospital for jaundice and dehydration). I was confident in my abilities, but she was so fragile I trembled the whole time. I remember bringing her home and having to keep the Biliblanket on her, keep her temp regulated, wake her and feed her every 2 hours. Waking up to a cold silent house, and sitting on the couch, alone, nursing her. Crying with joy. Crying with sadness. Wondering if anyone else in the world was up and feeling the same way.
I remembered the first time she looked at me while she nursed.

But I mostly remember the love. The huge highs and lows of new love. The moments when I could not get enough of her. The moments when everything seemed to be a battle. I am crying again, now, just thinking of her tiny face, her fingers and toes. Her mouth drawing milk. How she looked when she slept bundled in the sling.
The love hasn't changed. It is still just as deep, if not deeper. See, we know each other now. We aren't strangers any longer. I know her, and I am proud to be her mommy...not just because she is my child, but because she is good. She is good, and funny, and kind. She is warm and affectionate. She makes me proud because she is Lily.
I remember, I am thankful, and I am blessed.


I love you, my sweet sweet baby girl.


(same outfit, nearly 2 years later)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oh my ears!

Okay, my child is officially a loudmouth. Like, seriously.

I have just tucked her in and Mark and I both have a raging headache. She has decided she likes her own voice.

Alot.

And she is going to use it.

Alot.

And therefore, because she is tone deaf like me, we will suffer. Tonight we were treated to a rousing round of "Ooooaaaaaaaagaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh oooooooooooaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa
aaaaaaaaaaaaaagaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah" all during dinner. Not to mention quite a few "Loook out beeeeeloooooooow"'s and one mind bending"DadadadadadadadadadaDADADADADADAdadada".

Oh and let's not forget the constant litany of "All done. All done. ALL DONE. ALLLLLL DONE. ALL DOOOOONEEEEEE!!!!!!". Yes, we can't forget that.

God help me. I think my ears might actually be bleeding.

I can confirm that this does come in quite handy when we lose daddy in the mall, or rather, when he tries to hide from us and pretend he doesn't know us. I just tell Lily to call for him, and she's off, yelling "Daaaadaaaa" at the top of her lungs until passerbys start begging me to make her stop, elderly women start throwing down their hearing aids and stomping on them, and newbornsbeing carried by in a 2 mile vicinity start to cry. Then security gets alerted and I ask them to please just take her. Take her and put her to work. Take her and make her sing to the shoplifters. Trust me, they won't do it again.

You know when there's a bad guy standoff inside a house and the swat team plays muzak or barry manilow at the windows until the guy breaks down and comes out? Yeah, Mark and I are kind of in that situation. But we can't walk out and go to prison, oh no. We are in this for the long haul, my friends. The looooooong haul.

Ah the joy of toddlers.... how sweet is it.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I need to add this...

If you read this post on Bring the Rain, you will understand what I am about to say.....

http://audreycaroline.blogspot.com/2008/11/redeemed.html


Lord, I thank you for my pain. I thank you for my nightmares, my memories, and my flashbacks.

I thank you for giving me a mother that was not whole, because in doing so, you showed me what kind of mother I don't want to be.

Thank you for giving me such a selfish father.

Thank you for abandonment and hurt.

Thank you for disappoinment and unmet expecations.

Thank you for my losses.

Lord, thank you for hobbling me with the weighty yoke of a thousand haunting memories, then lifting it and bearing it with me.

Thank you, Lord, for pain. Thank you for strength.

I am thankful, even when it hurts. I am thankful, because I am your child, and I don't have to bear it alone.

I am thankful.

10 Things I am thankful for...

1. Warm robe, warm heat, warm home, and the smell of breakfast and coffee.

2. Enough money in my pocket to buy a turkey and all the fixings for a feast, but also remembering that there are some who are hungry today.

3. My baby girl, who every morning when I get her from her crib, grabs my face and says with true wonder- "Mama!!!"

4. My husband, who is my schmoopsie. And is healthy. Thank God.

5. Good friends that I can call at any time and be comforted, be laughed with, and be loved.

6. April, who calls and leaves me a message saying "I love and miss you and you are the best person I know." Likewise, my oldest and bestest ever. You are amazing.

7. Jody, Emily, Linda, Dixie, Amy, Rica, and all my other SS sisters who make me smile every day.

8. My in laws, who love Lily so much, and will spend a half hour on the phone with her listening to her babble.

9. My Aunt, who has stepped in and filled the shoes my mother never bothered to try on. I love you, and I am thankful for you. You have always been my mother. Always.

10. My health. The breath in my lungs, strong arms and legs, a vibrant mind, and a rosy disposition. Okay, maybe not rosy- but funny. Okay maybe not funny, but okay- a disposition.

And that is all. Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.

Monday, November 24, 2008

10 observations/statements/whatevers

1. I say dude too much. This is very evident because my daughter spent 10 minutes trying to get my attention in the car to take off her shoes. I was ignoring her because she needs to leave them on. She was silent for a moment, and then yelled "DUDDEEEEEEEE" at the top of her voice.

2. I hate my husband's taste in music. Actually, it's not really music. It is basically thumping with a few words. Thump,thump, word. Thump, thump, word. Techno, he calls it. Noise, I call it.

3. Now that I see "The Wizard of Oz" as a mom with a toddler, it is pretty freaking creepy.

4. Today we were at the park and another child hurt Lily. It was the first time I had seen her feelings truly hurt, and I was amazed at the level of anger I experienced. "Mama Bear" syndrome is real, folks. Real and slightly scary.

5. I realize that everytime I sit down to sew, I spend the entire time smiling. Especially now that I am making blankets for the Yahweh center kids. It is joyous.

6. I have accepted that I can't knit. This is huge for me.

7. My husband is amazing. He gets on my nerves, yes, but he is amazing. He is good and postive and I love him a little too much to be healthy to tell you the truth. I can't help it. He's my schmoopsie.

8. Lily is brilliant. Today she said "lemonade". Clearly.

9. I feel like I am at a point physically where I am stronger than I have ever been. And I am okay with strong not= slim.

10. I am seriously considering becoming vegetarian. Since Mark is reading this and doesn't know that yet- Mark, I am considering becoming vegetarian. Don't worry, you don't have to do it with me. But it's something that's on my heart. We'll see. Don't panic.

And that is all.

B

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Creating Christmas

I have had alot on my mind lately. Specifically about Christmas, and the meaning of it.

It is not even Thanksgiving, and we are bombarded by Christmas. We haven't even given thanks, and we are being told of all the must haves, the need nows, the perfect gifts.

I'm tired of it. I don't need anything. I don't want anything. And frankly, I am weary of the meaning of Christmas being more about the material and not the spiritual. It doesn't sit well with me. At all.

I read a post on the Mother Letter blog about creating Christmas. Making something, instead of buying something. Simplifying. Giving to the people who truly need, rather than those we love who need nothing. Turning outward.

So this year, I am asking that anyone who would normally give me a gift, to not. Instead I am asking for money to buy fabric, and I will make blankets for the kids at Yahweh center, a home for severely abused and neglected children here in Wilmington.

A friend of mine was telling me yesterday how she worked with these kids. How she would go to move them from a foster home and they would be carrying their things in garbage bags. I can imagine the terror, the sadness, the fatigue. These poor kids world has been ripped from them. They are alone.

I know this feeling intimately.

I was that kid.

The details aren't important. But I can still feel the heaviness of unshed tears, my heart like a closed fist in my chest as I watched my mother get smaller and smaller out the rear view. Everything I had known, even though it was nothing but blood and hurt and booze, was gone. I was scared and hurt and blinded by fear. I am sure these children feel much of the same thing.

Will a blanket solve all their problems? No. But will it give them something of their own. Something to keep them warm, something to carry with them from place to place. A material anchor in the chaos of their lives.

With every blanket I sew, I will pray for the child it is going to. I will pray for peace, for warmth, for laughter. I will pray that if they wake from a nightmare, the blanket will keep them warm and give them a bit of comfort. I will pray that God is with them.



Saturday, November 22, 2008

What a beautiful idea...

So many times I think I am a bad mother. When Lily watches too much TV, when I am tired and lose patience, when all she eats for dinner is a chicken nugget and a lollipop.

At those times, encouragement would be a beautiful thing.

There is a wonderful husband who is creating just such a thing. A series of open letters from mothers to his wife. Letters about the joy of mothering. Letters about the sorrow, the pain. Letters about it all, good and bad.

The moment I saw this, I wanted to be a part of it. If you do too, check out the link and submit your own letter. It's an amazing thing this man is doing, and a beautiful testimony to not only the love between husband and wife, but of the importance of mothers.

http://motherletter.blogspot.com/2008/10/whats-story.html

Enjoy, my friends.

Love,
B

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Adventures in knitting

It was one of those weekends.

You know...when you do alot of nothing.

I spend the lion's share of it trying to learn to knit. Lemme tell ya, I am seriously reconsidering my opinion of my intellectual status. You have to be a special kind of stupid to be outsmarted by yarn. When I went to look at knitting needles today (because surely, the needles I have are the problem, not my tiny pea brain) they had knitting needles for children. Yup, kids. Tiny little needles with sweet little bunny heads on the top.

After I got done stomping on them and cursing in arabic, I straightened myself back up and bought a new pair of size 6 needles. Turns out the only time in my life I will ever buy a size six is to knit. *eye roll*

I came home, and tried to use them. Yup, you guessed it. I couldn't do it.

What the hell man? I mean seriously, I can do pretty much anything. I don't say that with any sort of ego. By hook or by crook I can get stuff done. Stubborness is a highly underestimated quality, people, lemme tell ya.

But I cannot knit. At ALL.

I spent the entire weekend knitting 3 rows of yarn and unraveling them again and again. Knit, knit, cuss, unravel. Knit knit, cuss, throw needles, yell, unravel.

*sigh*

No big deal right? Oh but you don't know me. Until I learn to knit, it will bug the ever loving hell outta me.

And once I DO learn to knit I will be obsessed. Pretty soon you will come to my house and I will have knitted a toilet cover. And I will show it off to you. Cause thats how my crafty self rolls.

Ah yes, I am the chubby brunette Martha Stewart.

Stop laffin. I am, damnitt.

Okay, well two outta three ain't bad.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I hate Emeril (yes, this is a rant)

Okay, so I am trying to keep my mind off of things with busy work. Ya know, cooking, cleaning, doing all things that are mindless. In the midst of moving the couch to vaccuum underneath it, I hear Emeril Live start up on the food network. I sit down to watch, hoping to come across a new recipe.

You ever watched this show? Oy. The guy is a total tool. Arrogant, totally lacking in any sort of humility, and downright obnoxious. In the course of ONE SHOW he must said "oh yeah babe" about 3000 times. And ya know what? The audience APPLAUDED him. Ummmmm, wha? So he sprinkles a little cayenne and says "oh yeah babe", and this is cause for a round of applause? Jeeeeeeesus.

So yeah, maybe I was just in a pissy mood. Maybe he is an all around good guy. Full of personality, sweet, kind. Hell, maybe he gives away his overspiced food to homeless orphans, I dunno. But I for one ain't buying what he's sellin. I'd like to give him a swift kick in the ass actually, just for having his own show and doing...ummmm...nothing. Good gosh- adding rosemary to a beef dish- revolutionary!!! Call the papers!!!! *eye roll*

Give me Mr Guy Fieri (yummy!), Rachael Ray (dinner in 30 mins- enough said!), or Paula Deen (she worships butter like I do) anyday over this waste of airtime. I seriously could not believe I wasted 30 minutes of my life on this dude and his recipes.

Emeril can take a flying leap off a panko encrusted plank in my opinion. Oh yeah babe.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's been a helluva week

I'm trying, I really am.



Trying to keep my head above water. Trying to keep a cheerful face. Trying to be okay.



But I am slipping here. At the very least, I am not lying. If you ask if I am okay, you get the answer. No. I'm not. I'm not okay. But I am okay with not being okay, okay?



My father is in ICU again. This time he was lying on his floor for 2 days before he was found. And although he does this to himself with his poor choices, my heart breaks at the thought of my once very strong father lying on the floor because he lacks the strength to even push up on his forearms and press his lifeline button around his neck.



He has pressure sores on his face and chest. His is on a ventilator again. My heart simply hurts. I pity him, I am angry at him. I love him.



I am already grieving I guess. He's already gone. And the hardest part for me is knowing I can never have what I have always longed for. While he was alive and lucid, I had hope. But now I know he's not even the man I used to know, let alone somebody who could be what I need. Alot of this hurt is knowing the inevitable is coming.



The phone call. The open sky and smell of dirt. The songs sung, the words said. The end. Both parents, gone. All before I am 35.



Yeah, I know, lots of people have it worse. I tell myself this all the time. I do. But that is cold comfort when it's actually YOUR LIFE you are dealing with. Maybe I am not as well adjusted as I should be. Big fucking deal. I can only do what I can do. I can only deal my way.



So now its another waiting game. They will clean him up, get him detoxed, get him well, and send him home. And he'll be back again, until the end.



There are a few things I know about my father for certain- he is a good man, if a bad father. He has a sense of humor that is crude and obnoxious, something he passed directly to me. He is quiet and reserved. He could grow an amazing garden without even thinking much about it. He was rarely angry with me, and never yelled. He was always kind to my friends. He told me he loved me everyday. On cold mornings he would start my car for me, and clean off my windshield.



I miss him. I love him. I wish I could spend one day with the man he used to be when he wasn't drinking. One day of fishing, camping, standing in the hot sun. One day of the comfortable silence that would stretch between us. Just he and I and the water.




I think of him now, surrounded by strangers in a hospital bed. Lost in his own mind, swimming under sedation. Unable to speak for the vent. Not able to move without pain. Weak. Hurting.


I think of him back then, teaching me to swim. His dark hair rising above him as he dove down after me in the water. His arm around my waist, dragging me up into the light.


I wonder what he thought of while on the floor for those days. My heart just hurts. But I have my own daughter, my own life, my own family that I have to be strong for.



I just wish, in one way or another, for it to be over. For his sake, if not for my own.






I Love you, Daddy.



Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My sweet girl.

My Lily girl. So sweet, so kind. Full of empathy and compassion and love. So giving, so wise. She is my greatest teacher in this life. She is my greatest love.


I am honored, HONORED, to be her mother.


I cannot express how much I love her. How just the scent of her head sends me into a fit of memory. She is suddenly 2 days old after her first bath at home. She is three months old falling asleep on my chest. She is a year old with a raging fever. All of this from just the scent of her head.


I look at her and I see the world. I see everything through her eyes. Her sadness becomes mine, her fear mine to comfort. If anyone dared to hurt her I would obliterate them. I look at her and I see her not just as she is now, but how she was when she was so tiny and helpless. I see the whole picture.


When I was pregnant, I never understood this whole secret society I would be hazed into. Woemn would look at me with my tiny newborn, and their eyes would fill, their gazes turning inward. I know now they were feeling the deep primal pull a newborn can touch you with. The feeling that you would do anything- ANYTHING to feel your child in your arms like that again.


The need is beautiful and painful and terrifying. And it is also intense and overwhelming. To be the sole source of another persons existence is such a deep responsibility in every way.


I long for her as she was.
This picture is special to me. Lily was around 3 weeks old here, still so small, and so fragile. She was nursing every 2 hours. I was exhausted. But in the days before this picture was taken, we had fallen into a routine of sorts. Nursing, sitting, dozing together. It was at this point, on this day, that I looked at her and utterly LOVED her. Now, I loved her before this time, yes, but it was different on this day. The fear of being a new mother left me, and I simply loved her. Realized I would die for her. Realized that she was MINE, and I was HERS. Realized, above all, that I could do this. I could be a mother. It was powerful and life changing.
There are things you cant see here. My hair was unwashed, my face free of makeup. My nipples were raw and bleeding. I was still healing from birth. I was still in my pajamas at 8 o'clock at night. My life was in chaos. But I was happy. I was totally in love with this little being I had fought so hard to conceive and carry. And God, when I looked down at her, at her perfect little mouth drawing milk from my breast, at her little hands clasped over my heart, I knew she loved me too. Needed me. Loved me.
It keeps changing, this love. Some days are hard. She is stubborn and strong willed. But she is a joy. She is full of life. And she is mine. What a gift.

Trust and faith

I am strong. I am strong emotionally. I know this. I can deal with anything as long as I know what it is. I can face anything head on if it has a face.

But Jesus, I can't stand uncertainty. The unknown is an absolute terror to me.

The past few days Mark has been going doctor to doctor. We still don't have any answers. His GP says it was a freak occurence and not to worry. We may never know what happened.

I cannot STAND the idea of that. I need to know. I need answers. I need a plan. I need to take action.

And I can't. I may never know.


I can feel myself slipping into depression. It is not unknown to me, this dipping below the surface into the ocean. It is as familiar to me as my hands. I know this territory, and I know I will surface again. And it is no wonder that it is happening. When confronted with something I cannot control I shut down. I am not scared of this, and I am not fighting to push it away or pull myself out of it. It simply is. Fighting against it is futile.

All I can do is process all we have been through in this past week, and find away to make peace with it. I know what I should do, hand it over to God and let him take care of it. I always plan to do that, but I snatch it back from Him to worry over it again and again. Do I love God? Yes. Do I trust Him as much as I should. No.

So here it is. I know that this will teach me something. I know I will emerge a different and hopefully better person. I know God is trying, again and again, to teach me this lesson- TRUST ME. Give it over, bring it to me, trust me. All the troubles and burdens and fear and hopelessness. He wants it. He wants to bear it with me.

But I just don't know how. How?

And more importantly- who would I be without my perpetual worry? Who would I be without my bitterness, without my baggage? THAT is the scariest part. Who would I be if the negative was cleaved away? If I was hollowed out, and gave over my pain and fear?

Scary right? Can you imagine? Can you imagine laying all of your anger and bitterness and mistrust in front of somebody and asking them to carry it? Even if they were inviting it- how would you burden them with a clean heart?

But that is just what He is asking me to do. Give it over. Wow.

I read a beautiful post on Angie's blog the other day: http://audreycaroline.blogspot.com/2008/10/ransomed.html

If you have time to read it, it is an amazing testament to faith, and puts beautifully into words the struggle I am feeling right now.

How must it feel to just...let go? To open your arms and your heart and let the pain go? To let all of it fall away? My God, what an amazing thing. How much lighter would I be- how much more joyful?

I have felt a deep calling toward joy for a long time now. I have always believed that this is the great mark of a follower of Christ- joy. Unfettered joy. Knowing that you are loved and held no matter what. Wow. I want that.

So here we go, on another journey. I don't have all of the answers, and this scares me. But what I DO have is faith that I will be held, no matter what may come. Held, loved, and carried.

For now, that is enough.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Mark

Friday morning I had the scariest experience of my life.

Mark was emptying the dishwasher and his leg started to go numb. I didn't think much of it, and figured he had been sitting on his foot while on the computer. Then it started traveling up his leg, into his chest, and to his head. He went upstairs to call his doctors office, and while there his arm started to go numb.

He came downstairs and got in the shower because we were just going to go straight to his doctors office. While in the shower, however, he lost all use of his arm. All use.

I will never, ever forget the look of terror on his face. He was absolutely gray, and he was terrified. He asked me to call 911.

This is the man that is never afraid of anything. Who is calm, who is centered, who is always my safe port in the storm. And he was absolutely terrified.

He got dressed with help from me as I was on the phone with the 911 operator. He then went to go kiss Lily as sirens wailed down our street. I knew he thought he was kissing her goodbye. It was all over his face.

I have never been more scared in my life. I did not panic, but fear had a hold on my heart and would not let go.

The paramedics came in, took his vitals, and loaded him on the stretcher. As he was being wheeled out I was holding Lily and watching. I cannot tell you the feeling of not knowing if he would come back to us.

I didn't know if I would ever see him again. I thought he was having a stroke, a heart attack. My heart was broken. My mind was reeling as I stood and watched the ambulance drive away. How many times had I yelled at him over something insignificant? How many times had I taken my anger out on him? How many times had I treated him unkindly? How many times had I refused forgiveness and not treated him with the love he deserved?

I am not a good wife. I am bossy and spiteful. I am flawed. I do not treat him as I should.

On the ride to the hospital I cried out to God. "You have my attention! You have my attention! I am listening! Please, please do not take him away from me. I promise I will treat him as I should from this point onward. I will never take the gift you have given me for granted again." I have never cried so hard. I have never been so scared of what would greet my eyes.

Instead of seeing a very sick man, I walked in to my husband sitting up in bed, rosy cheeked, joking with the nurses.

His vitals were normal and stable. His ekg was good. His cat scan was clear, as was his bloodwork. His symptoms were all attributed to the onset of severe migraine, something he had been dealing with since a fall a month ago.

To say I was relieved would be an understatement.

To say that I would not keep my promise to God anyway is fallacy. I am no fool. I know what I was given. I know how easily this could have slipped the other direction. I know that if I don't take away from this what I should, then the lesson next time may be harsher.

That night he woke again with the same symptoms. This time, he couldn't speak. I was scared, so was he, but we both knew that this was classic migraine onset. Sure enough, the pain hit a few minutes later. As I sat up with him and worried over him I felt a shift in my thinking that I had not expected. This felt good. Caring and giving myself 100% felt good. It felt right.

See I have spent my whole realtionship with Mark waiting for the other shoe to drop. Waiting for him to leave me, or to be taken from me. Now that the worst had happened, and I had felt that fear and pain, I was free of it. It had no power over me anymore.

I can love him and care for him and know I can survive the pain of thinking I may lose him. Because the pain is nothing compared to the joy he brings me. It is a drop in the bucket compared to the kindness and the happiness we have. It is nothing compared to the love we have for each other. The laughter, the fun, the hours of giggling.

I can love him openly, give everything without reserve. Without worrying. Without fear.

I know God was using that moment to teach me. I also know that I am getting better and better at looking at things with new eyes, and saying- okay, this situtation is hard, but what can I learn from it? That is taking power from the negative and using it for the positive. That is God's hand at work, breaking down the barriers in my mind.

So here it is, a new day. Mark has had no episodes for over 24 hours. We will spend the next week at specialists, neurologists, doctors offices, etc...trying to find an answer.

But even if we don't, I have been given an incredible gift- the ability to look at my relationship and at Mark with new eyes.

Thank you, God. I will not forget.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Prayer request....

Quite a while ago I ran across a blog I couldn't stop reading. The story is amazing- of a mother who was living with the uncertainty of the health of the baby she was carrying. She was told he was very sick, had a heart condition, and would surely die within days. At this point she was around 24 weeks along.

She is now full term, and set to deliver tomorrow. This is nothing short of a miracle. Her child is not only living, but thriving, in her womb. Although what will happen tomorrow after he is born is still a mystery to us on this earth, God know exactly what the future holds for this tiny little fighter.

Please pray, send good thoughts or good energy to this strong and courageous woman and the little miracle she is carrying.

http://www.mycharmingkids.net/

Thanks.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Welcome to my world...

So, here is a stream of conciousness review of my day....

wakeup ohgodamIstillhungover IbelieveIjustmightbe whereisthetylenol?
ohshitIhavenoidea causeIgaveittoLilyatsomepoint
ohjesusdoesithaveachildproofcap?
yesI'msureitdoes
thankGodbutwhyisitnotRIGHTHERE!?
myheadfeelslikeitisfullofsoakedmarshamallowswithteeth
Getupandpullclotheson deargodisthecoffeeready? thankgod andwehavecreamer it'sgonnabeagoodday f
eedlilydresslilyplaywithlilyturnonashowforlily
yeslilywhatwhatWHAT???
okayoffwego-didIeatanything?
noprobablynotbutit'snotlikeIneedanythingright
goodgodIcouldliveoffmyownfatcellsforyearsatthispoint okaycounterthenegativethoughtswithtwopostiveones
Ihavegoodhairandtoes

Outofthecarandintothestrollerandhihowareyou? saturdaynitewasablast!
pantpantpuffpuffwalkingwalkinglunginglunging didIturnoffthetoasterathome? upanddownandturninglunging
grabyourbandsandsingsing!
Nolilycomebackherelilylily
doyouhearmommytalking
ohforcryingoutloudamIevenspeakingenglish?
gabgabtalktalklaughlaugh lovethesegirlssoluckytohavethem
youwantahat? okaywhowantsoneI'llmakethemtoday

intothecarandhomeagainjiggityjig
yeslilyIknowyouarehungrysoamIbutitwillbejustafewminutes
hidaddycanyoumakeuslunchthankyou
yumyumnotwhatIwouldmakeandnotaveggieinsight
Idontreallycarethoughcausesheiseatingandhappy
intothebedyougolittleonegoodrestloveyou
okaysoobviouslyyoudontwantotnaptoday
yourbedisnowadisasterandyouarentsleeping
outofthebedwegoandintothelivingroomwithmommywhileshesews
nolilynolilyuhuhnonoNO
sighingandhuffingandpuffingandokayfineletsplay
andnowyouareignoringme
ofcourse

makethehats feelthefabric hearthemachine sosoothing
cupofcoffehappybabycooldaywarmtoes
makethepizza,kneadthedough,cuttheonionandthegarlic,pourthesauce
thehousefillswithscent
lilyandmarkplayandgiggle
Ismile
eatingandwatchinghergivinghermorecheese
andshesaysitsofunny chiiisss

bathtimeandcleanupcleanup
andintothecarwithdaddytothestore
andhereIsitwarmandfullwithmyhousequietandsoonitwillbe
niteyniteI'llmissyoulovie
byedaddy
intothecarhegoesfor3days
sniffsniffafewtearscauseImisshimsoalready
andintothecouchwithawarmblankieandtea
watchingnancygraceandthinkingofhimdrivingsolate
darknessandsittingwiththephonewaitingforhimtocall
hedoesandIsigh
intothebedtossandturnandthinkofhimandprayforhim
getupandcheckonlilywatchherforalittlewhile
strokehercheek
cuss,duckandcrawloutthedoorwhensheopenshereyes
offtobedforme
notreallysleepy
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Thursday, October 23, 2008

3 years ago today.....














I am not a big believer in marriage. Yes, I know. I AM married. Hence the pics. It's legal and everything. But no, I am not a big believer in it. I could give you a thousand reasons, none of which have to do with my husband, and everything to do with me. But I won't. They are tedious and, frankly, nobody's buisness. Suffice it to say had Mark not come along I would be the crazy cat lady on your block. Seriously.
I am, however, a believer in committment, in love, and in giving youself to another person. Even when it's hard. And comittment, love and laughter are something I have in spades.
The past three years have not been easy. They've been hard. But, if I could just bottle the joy and the laughter, the ease with which we have with one another, I would be a rich woman. The feeling I get when it's Mark, Lily and I and we are laughing and enjoying just being together. The feeling of sleeping next to my husband, knowing how good and strong he is. The feeling of being my crazy, goofy, moody and vulnerable self, and knowing he loves me despite it all.
He takes me, bad and good. He loves me no matter what. He is patient when I am not, and strong when I am weak. And he is giving, and has taught me humility, forgivenss, and the power of admitting when you are wrong.
So three years ago, we had been together a while. We knew what we were in for. We knew the deal. We got married anyway. :) And now here we are, with a beautiful daughter, and our life before us. I look forward to the next 30 years- to laughing until I pee myself, to fighting until we make up, to the good times and the bad times. To babies and birthday parties, budgets and bills.
I am looking forward to all of it, because he is by my side.
I love you, Mark. More than chocolate. More than music. More than my toe. Now and forever.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In the doghouse...

Something that should be punishable by a beating-

A husband comes home to his wife and toddler after two days of traveling. Upon arriving home the first thing he says is:

"Damn, I'm tired."

Ummm wha?

The wife gives a full half second to thinking if she should smack him or kill him. Instead she eats chocolate. If you see the size of her ass you will know that this particular husband often drives his wife to drown her sorrows with Mr. Hershey and Mrs. Godiva.


Ahh the joys of married life. Ain't it grand?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Too fast...



This time last year, this is how my little baby looked.





These were taken today.



If anyone has figured out how to make this madness stop, please let me know. I've tried not feeding her, but she whines too much, so that's not an option. I've tried talking to her seriously about how the growing breaks mommy's heart, but she is unrelenting. She just keeps getting bigger, sweeter, and cuter.


So, I am open to suggestions on how to freeze time here. How to break the time/space continuum, maybe? Shrinking powder, anything...to keep her just as she is a little longer.


All I heard when I was pregnant and had first had Lily was "Enjoy it, it goes too fast." I would smile and nod, but I never really understood it until now. Just yesterday she was a tiny little peanut, and now she is a big girl with her own ideas and wants.
So yeah, hook me up with the info on how to make this stop. Like right now.

Monday, October 20, 2008

10 ingredients for a perfect fall day

1. Waking up at 8:30 to a snuggly husband, a still sleeping baby, and a pot of coffee brewing in the kitchen.

2. Jogging in the crisp fall air and warm sunshine.

3. Having the perfect grilled cheese sandwich.

4. Singing loudly in the car, and glancing in the rearview to see Lily singing too, the same look of contentment and joy on her face.

5. Having the windows open all day, and enjoying the beautiful breeze on my skin.

6. A hot, sweet, cup of coffee in the early afternoon while watching my daughter play in the grass.

7. Playing in the park with Lily, realizing she is grown enough to slide, climb the stairs, and ask to swing. Shed a few really, really happy tears watching her.

8. Strap 22 pound toddler to my back in the Beco, carry her all over the park without huffing and puffing (including up the stairs, twice!) and realize that I am SO MUCH stronger than I give myself credit for.

9. Watching my baby girl rip into a chicken leg and devour it like a monkey on a cupcake- her appetite raging after playing in the park, running around the fabric store, and enjoying the sunshine.

10. Having a deep feeling of contentment and happiness, sitting in this warm house, with a sleeping baby in the other room, nancy grace on the tv, and a warm cup of tea in my hand.

He's out there, somewhere....

This post is going to sound so weird. I am hesitant even to write it down because I am afraid nobody will understand it, but here goes.

I'm not hiding the fact that I want another baby. That it is on my mind alot. That I feel like our family isn't complete yet. Anyone who knows me knows more kids are in my future.

What I do not say is the feeling I sometimes get, when it is just Mark, Lily and I....and I feel a frantic panic that somebody is missing. It is fleeting, and random, but it happens more often than I would like.

What I also do not say is that not only do I feel somebody is missing, but I feel this child's soul, waiting to be conceived and born. I feel him and dream of him often. I think of him daily. It is bizarre and strange, yes, but I am wondering if maybe some of the other mommies reading this feel this too.

I know I felt it with Lily. I wanted her so badly, and when we finally found we were pregnant, I was thrilled. I also felt her spirit so strongly in the months before she was born. All of the times I lay and put my hand over my belly I felt her speaking to me in her own way. When she was born her face was as familiar to me as my own. It was surreal. It was as if she had always existed with me, in my heart and soul...but now I got to hold her.

So is this how you know you are ready for another child? When your soul longs so deeply for this other person that it brings tears to your eyes? When it is deeper than an idea, deeper than a possibility- and more into the realm of a great sweeping need? I can't imagine feeling this feeling any stronger than right now. My heart hurts in a beautiful way, my throat is tight, my eyes filled with tears. It is such a pure, good, clean feeling that it takes my breath away.

I know this little one is waiting for the right time. I know God is holding him safe for me until our family, my body and his soul are ready. But until I feel him in my womb and know he is here, he is mine, and he is safe, I don't think I will ever shake this feeling of missing him and needing him.

Is that just crazy? Probably. But it is what it is, and I am learning that the more I say about what I feel, the more I find I am not alone in my feelings.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mark...

Thank you for being so calm, good, strong, and kind this week. I don't say it enough, my sweet love, but you are my everything.

Love you more than my toe,
B

I'm not gonna pretend...

This has not been a good week for me. It's been a roller coaster. I've had a hard time emotionally- and I have cried until my eyes were swollen shut. I've been at times sad, angry, confused, shocked, and then sad again.

I laid at night, not able to sleep...thoughts running through my head. I hurt..my heart hurt. I told God in no uncertain terms that I was angry with Him for encouraging me to trust. I laid it all before him, raised my voice in anger and disappointment. There was no room in my heart or head for my usual praise or gentle prayer. I expected anger in return, but all I got was a huge uplifting rush of grace. I was held, even when I was angry. I was forgiven for my harshness. I was loved even in the face of my rage. He also reminded me in his gentle way of all the wrongs I had committed against others, and that I was not immune to hurt.

All of this allowed me to forgive, and to feel good about it. To feel love and strength in forgiving. To feel love for the people who wronged me, on a deep level, as human beings. They love me, and they hurt me. They have sorrow over it. This allows me to love them even more. It is an amazing feeling.

I have read several of Clarissa Pinkola Estes works. All of them, in some way or another, touch on forgiveness, but her most humbling passage for me is one that is the most simple:

“How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to say about it all.” (Clarissa Pinkola Estes)

This struck such a chord with me when I first read it, mostly because I was not a forgiving person at the time. Now, I know and understand each word intimately.

I learned alot about myself in the past week. I am stronger than I think. I can forgive utterly and completely. I can love others even when they hurt me. I can choose to stand and fight for an important relationship even when I want to cut and run. I will be hurt by those that love me. I will probably hurt them at some point. But as long as there is true sorrow and compassion there is always forgiveness.

Withdrawls...

I'm going through blog withdrawls.

I had a bad experience that nearly turned me off of blogging...but ya know what? Most people get what I am trying to say, and a few people have even told me they feel better knowing somebody else feels the same way. So, here I am again.

I just want to say something first- if I need help, I ask for it. My blog is an indication of my inner thoughts, yes...but I am sure everybody has these thoughts- I just put them out there. Some people drink, some do drugs, some are passive agressive, some are openly hostile. It's all masking built up bullshit in their lives. When I feel that way, I write. And it helps.

And I am okay. If I am ever not okay, I will reach out.

So...here it is.

I'm back.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Today...

I joined weight watchers.

I can hear you saying- but Bella, you are so SKINNY. An absolute WAIF. A Kate Moss look-alike.

Okay, shut up. Quit laughing. It's my blog, and on it I am really skinny. Skinny and able to eat Ben and Jerry's without looking like I am carrying both Ben and Jerry in my jeans.

Ahem. I digress.

I joined with my friend Linda, whom, if you must know, I don't even think needs WW...but I'm not turning down a buddy to go with.

It was surreal. Walking into this room wearing my weight problem on my sleeve, so to speak. I usually try to hide it, you know? If I do talk about it, I make disparaging comments. Make fun of myself. It's painful. But here I was, entering this room with the sole purpose of being weighed and discussing this battle I have been fighting since I was...oh a fetus.

I hopped onto the scale and the kind man wrote my number down on my card. It was just what I expected really- the number. Not shocking. A good starting point.

So I sat through the meeting, got all the information. I thought I would be scared...but I'm actually excited to just be doing...something.

I've seen doc after doc. I've told them all...I don't eat too much. I exercise. Blah blah blah. It always comes down to this- your bloodwork is fine and you eat too much. Well, allrighty. Thanks doc...I'll go home and have some baby carrots. Maybe I'll go really crazy and have some celery too.

*sigh*

Anyway, here's hoping this works. It's my last shot, really. I can't do any more diets. I can't fit more activity into my life. I've been trying to lose weight seriously for the past 4 years. Nothing has worked. I gained 26 lbs when I was pregnant. I've lost all of that, but I have a vision in my head. I don't want to be skinny, cause I never will be. But I want to be fit and I want to be healthy.

So here's hoping this last venture into dieting works. Cause if not, it's a Dorito IV and a size XXL mumu for me.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

How long

will I be stuck in my head? How long will the endless carousel of bullshit with my family turn? How long will my father continue to call me, drunk and rambling, and leave me message after message? How many times will I call him back only to not understand his slurred words?

How long will I fight with my husband because I am pissed off at myself? How long will I take out all of my anger on him because it has no where else to go? How far can I shove him before he pushes back?

How long can I keep from my daughter all of the anguish and pain that this f-ed up family comes with? How long can I hide the truth from her? When will she ask- where is my Grandma? Why do we not see Grampa?

How long?

I usually have hope, but today I am fried. My father has called me 6 times in the past few days, leaving drunken messages strewn with slurred words and curses. I called him back just a few minutes ago just to hear him ramble about nothing. He won 11,000 dollars in Vegas last month. He will have to move soon. He's going to move to Nevada. His legs aren't working good. On and on.

I want to approach all this with faith, but sometimes my faith doesn't stretch that far. Fact of the matter is, I have been piss poor cheated out of what everyone should have- family, support, and care. Most days I do without and don't think about it much. But then there are days like this one...weekends, really, weeks...when I just can't find the will to push past the hurt. My mask slips. My resolve weakens, and I let go.

How can you miss something you never had? How can your heart actually hurt and ache for something you know nothing about? How can tears lie useless in your eyes, choke you like a hand on your throat over something you have never experienced? I don't know, but it does, surely as the sun rises.

So here it is. Life keeps going, despite it all. Despite my father drunk dialing me. Despite my mother in the cold ground. Despite walking through this life not being understood.

It keeps going, keeps turning, and keeps hurting.

I want to say it will get better. But it doesn't. It's just a different form of pain. It morphs. It used to be a lonely pain, solitary, like a living thing beneath my skin. Now...God, now it is worse. It is a pain I have to struggle not to pass to my precious baby. I have to slip the mask on everyday. I can't let her see this. I can't allow her to walk through this. She is my joy and my love and my everything. She is the reason I hold it together.

My father is lost behind the bottle. He is slowly robbing himself of life, with every drink, with every moment he cares less and less for himself. I love him. I love him and am losing him. But the sad truth is, I have always loved him more than he loved me. He loves himself more than anyone else, and that has always been the struggle between us. He doesn't care that he hurts me. He doesn't care that his eventual drinking to death will wound me in ways I will never recover from. He doesn't care about all the words that will be unspoken. He will carry no burden. I will.

The well of tears seems to run dry, but there's always a new source. As if on cue, just when I think I have it all together, here comes daddy with his bag of tricks. A drunken message, a hospital trip, a frantic phone call from my brother. Things look grim, things look better. And here I am, waiting for the hammer to fall.

I want not to care. I want not to love. But despite all, I do and I will.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Before and After

1- Before Lily- I used to be smug when I completed a crossword puzzle within a 1/2 hour. In pen, just cause I am hardcore like that.

After Lily- I am smug when I figure out Blue's Clue's before Steve does. (go ahead and laugh- it's harder than it sounds, dude)

2. Before Lily- I was a card carrying nanny nazi with 5 trillion rules for proper child rearing. My motto was -Expect good behavior and you will get it.

After Lily- Yeah right. Chances are if you hear a kid screaming in Wal Mart, she's mine. If you hear "Oh for God's holy loving cotton pickin sake, fine, get down and walk!!! If you get lost don't come crying to me!!" then it's definitely me. For my sake, pretend not to see me.

3. Before Lily- I had stacks and stacks of all the latest music. I was up on all the new artists. I was a font of useless music trivia.

After Lily- I am a font of music, still- "Lalalalalala Elmo's world. I love you, you love me...please kill me and set me free".

4. Before Lily- I had a beauty regimine to rival Tammy Faye's. I had a thousand different tubes of mascara. I had mousturizer by the gallon. I had eyeliner for every mood.

After Lily- I am lucky to have a face not smeared with oatmeal or worse. My mascara is crumbly, my eyeliner down to a stub I sharpen with my teeth. I count myself lucky to bathe everyday, much less apply lotion.

5. Before Lily- I shaved every day.

After Lily- I shave when my leg hair threatens to rip my workout pants or I look like I have buckwheat in a headlock.

6. Before Lily- I was manicured, pressed, shampooed, madeup, and dressed before 8 am.

After Lily- I wake up, shower, and put on fresh jammies.

7. Before Lily- I never thought I bedtime would take more than a few minutes. Night night, in the bed, lights out, dont care if ya cry.

After Lily- I spend at least 5 minutes next to her crib for one more kiss, one more hug...to listen to her babble, to smell her little head. I miss her the moment I close her door.

8. Before Lily- I dreamed of traveling the world.

After Lily- My daughter's face is the only part of this world I wish to see. She is my Egypt, my China, my Bermuda, my Carribbean. She is my world, my life, my love, my joy.

Yes, life has changed. I traded writing for diaper changing, intellectual pursuits for Sesame Street, jeans for jammies, and gourmet cuisine for hot dogs and pasta.

And it is good. It is right. And it is all I have ever wanted.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fortress

So I wake up this morning and flip on the news. Here is still photos depicting an enormous freighters being attacked by pirates in...yup, small speedboats. You know the kind- like your cousin Larry uses to go crawdad fishin in the bayou.

Okay, so they have guns. But c'mon- it's a freighter! It's carrying tanks for God's sake. Surely these speedboats pose no threat.

Only....yup, you guessed it- they are negotiating with the pirates. As we speak. From a freighter. To a speedboat.

It occurred to me that this is in some ways a huge metaphor for faith. Here we stand, in a mighty fortress. We are protected...not from everything, surely, but we feel safe. We feel held. We feel secure.

Then along comes the world and it's dark troubles and we panic. Even though these troubles are small in comparison to our God, we still stand at the deck and look about with fear. There is steel and security around us, but we often don't rest easy in those boundaries- instead we look out into the water, into our troubles.

It is a sad state of reality that often the speedboat seems bigger than the freighter. But that is a manner of perspective isn't it- when your eyes see only outward to the threat, they are not seeking the security of the known savior.

Faith is defined many ways in the Bible, but the word fortress is used again and again. Faith is a defense against the world, against our own disbelief, against despair. It is meant to be used, it is meant to be utilized. We are meant to run to our fortress and feel safe. We are meant to shelter from the stormy waters.

And when the speedboats arrive, we are meant to go inside, close the hatches, and find peace.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Brave

Today I had two really profound experiences. One was with Emily, my dear friend, who out of the blue today turned to me and said "I am always so comforted when I walk into a room and you are there."

Now I could have simply said "Oh thank you! You are so sweet!". But that was the old me. Instead I looked her in the eyes and said "I love you Em. Thank you for telling me that." and then I hugged her. And we both got teary. And it was good teary. Comforting.

I am not used to being loved like this. But I feel like God really knew what he was doing when He chose Emily to come into my life. She is honest, nurturing, caring, and thoughtful. The things she says stick with me. She's not afraid to say the things that other's don't. She has taught me to be the same- to put myself out there.

I was at Wal-Mart this afternoon, shopping for produce. Lily was in the cart, looking incredibly adorable as always, and an older lady walked by. Lily reached out and touched her arm. The woman stopped and chatted with her. They said hello, they shook hands, Lily gave her the grocery list, she gave it back, Lily blew her around 3000 kisses and we went on about our buisness. About 2 minutes later the woman rounded the corner again. She had tears in her eyes and her voice was shaking. She said- "I just need to tell you this. I lost my mom 2 weeks ago. She just loved little babies." her voice broke, and I held her arm "I really feel like my mother sent your daughter to me, because she knew I would notice her, and she just sent me such joy and love and kisses through her."

I was, of course, crying.

And then I decided to be brave. I wrapped my arms around a total stranger and gave her a hug. I didn't even have to say anything. I felt her pain. It is the same pain, whether you are 18 or 80. We parted with a quick goodbye, but I will never forget that moment...ever.

So here it is. The house is quiet. The day is nearly done. I have time to reflect. And what I think is this- two women taught me alot about bravery today. Two women taught me a deeply profound lesson about who I want to be. I want to be brave...I want to say what matters. I want to say the things that open people up. I want to let those I care about know that they are important to me.

I want to say the things people will always remember.

Thanks, Em.

Monday, September 22, 2008

April





Dearest April,


My oldest and dearest. My bestest. My sister, my friend, my confidante, my sometimes ass kicker. I love you to the moon. No new circumstance or new friends could ever change that.


I know you said the other day that you are little jealous that my NC friends get to spend time with me. I love them also...but it could never be the same as what you and I have. You have seen me at my best, my worst. You have cried with me, been silent with me, laughed your crazy ass off with me, and loved me for 16 years now. 16 years! You know me, and love me anyway.


I was reading something the other day that said a true friend completes a part of you you didn't know was missing. That is so true of you and I. You have completed my life, my family, my sentences, and made my world a better place. You are loyal. You are true. You take me as I am.



You were my first phone call when I found out I was pregnant with Lily. You came after she was born and at cheesecake with me for a week. You held her while I slept. You kissed her sweet head and marveled over her as if she was your own. And I did the same with your girls.



I will never forget when you came after Lily was born. She was 5 days old, and I met you at the airport. You walked out and I stated immediately crying, and so did you. You were the first person besides Mark I shared her with. I will never forget those days, never.


I will never forget cruising with you, getting Pepsi at Gas N Shop, working at the care center, partying in corn fields, going to Colorado in my dad's RV, going to the lake and frying ourselves, crying over boys, fighting and never being able to stay mad at each other, and picking up right where we left off even if we haven't spoken in a while.


You are my best, my happiest, my most, my sister at heart. Never, ever think anyone can take your place.



I love you bunches.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Ramble on

It is so good to feel creative, feel useful, and to create something tangible with my hands. Everything from picking out fabric, ironing each hem and seam, the rush of the needle over the fabric...all of it soothes me.

It feels good to make something that people like. That they comment on. I take pride in the work of my hands. I take pride in being creative and using my brain for something other than "Do we have broccoli or corn tonight?"

Motherhood is brilliant, don't get me wrong. But it is also tedious and wearing. And many times I feel as if I am lost, drowning in everyone else's needs, and never meeting my own. I love my family, and I love being home with my daughter...but sometimes I look around and think- "Really God...is this all there is?"

And then, as if on cue, Lily laughs and I don't need Him to answer.

Life is funny. There was a time in my life where I thought I would be alone forever. There were wonderful and not so wonderful men who came into my life whom I thought I would be with forever. There was lives I could have chosen with just a small push, a different turn, a well spoken word. All of those lives stretch behind me now like a roadmap of where I have been. But where I am going is so much more appealing now, that my eyes rarely turn back. Okay, they do, but it is to simply mark how far I have come.

I've been struggling with a sense of purpose lately. The whole crisis of "Why am I here...what is my purpose." Yeah, I know it's totally cliche. It's silly. It's ordinary. But it is. I a struggling. I know what I am- a wife, a mother, a daughter, a friend. But what else am I? What else am I supposed to be? A writer? A sub-par seamstress? A paleontologist? I just don't know. Like everyone else, I feel less that stellar at most of my roles. I am not the wife I wish to be. I am not the mother Lily deserves. God knows daughter isn't one of my key titles. And friend- well I think most of the time I get that right- but even that is backwards- why be a good friend if you're not a good wife and mother?

Don't be worried for me. All of these thoughts and feeling are nothing new..probably not even to you, my 3 faithful readers. We all struggle. We all push through. We all wonder and wish sometimes. It's human. It's human to struggle for happiness. It's even human not to recognize happiness when it is on your front step.

Tomorrow when I am walking in the park, laughing at Lily's crazy antics, making dinner with my husband, calling a friend on the phone, or drifting off to sleep, these thoughts will be forgotten. But the carousel of worry and regret will keep turning for me...for all of us. It's what we do while we are taking a turn on the ride that counts.