Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My thoughts on SUMMER, thus far


It is day 3 of summer vacation, and these are some things I've come to believe as truth:
  • If you awake and put on your bathing suit and cover-up, and throw your hair in a messy bun, it doesn't count that you don't make it into the shower.....whether or not you actually ever made it to the pool.
  • Freezer pops are the universal currency of the neighborhood mom.
  • Duvet covers are of the devil.  Period.
  • No matter how cute my "Summer of Fun" calendar looks, thunderstorms will wreak havoc on my plans.  Must be better prepared for a day inside.
  • My kids eat.  All day.  ALL.  DAY.  By 9:30, they've had breakfast, second breakfast, a snack.  And then, popcorn.  And yet, still zero percent body fat.  Jerks.
  • Laundry will be done every day.  There will just be no way around it.
  • Dirty feet and sunburned noses make me happy.  They just do.

I'm trying my best to keep my priorities straight, keep my expectations realistic, and my body rested and hydrated.  I want this summer to be the best for our family.  No major vacations to stress us out, no huge projects or renovations to disrupt our home, nothing on the horizon but camp outs, pool dates, and cookouts.

What are your best tips for staying sane when the hours of a summer break day seem a little too many to fill?  I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

It's the most wonderful time of the year....

... if you're a school teacher.

After the longest winter EVER, I have no doubt that our local teachers have a constantly running mental countdown to just how many more classroom minutes are between today and 3:35 pm Friday, June 6.  And I don't blame them.  They are staring down the finish line to a long year and the start of a well-earned summer.

We were so very fortunate to get who we thought has been a fabulous teacher for Seth this year.  The teacher whose class he was technically assigned to was actually out the entire year on maternity leave, so he had a permanent substitute who had been assigned her first kindergarten class.




She has been such a good sport about getting her feet wet in what could be considered a very high-maintenance school system, and I applaud her for dealing well with parents who aren't always the most gracious in their dealings with the school administration.  We have had nothing but good reports home from Seth, and he not ONCE ever complained about going to school or fought me when it was time to get on the bus.  Kindergarten was an overwhelmingly positive experience for him.  And more important to us, even more than his reading skills or word problem comprehension, was that Seth's character stood true, and it did.  The traits of compassion, leadership, and obedience that we fostered in him during his preschool years were both recognized and applauded by his teacher and to me, that is priceless and worth more than academic marks.

I put together a small end-of-the-year gift for this amazing woman and I hope she sees it as more than a way to kick-start her summer, but more, as this mom's meager way of showing just a hint of the gratitude I have for her taking my sweet firstborn under her wing this year and handing him back even brighter than before.

Bucket, beach towel, shovel, and glow sticks all courtesy of Target.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Unexpected

The things we need most are often the things we never saw coming....

A quiet Sunday, made quieter by the absence of the pre-church frantic hustle.  Raspy coughs and drippy noses suggested that perhaps snuggles and cartoons and unhurried parents would best serve as a healing respite.  So, we snuggled and slowed and savored not being stressed on what is called to be a day of rest.  (Not to mention that we were able, then, to avoid all the congestion from the marathon.)

Lunch, office work, laundry (always), some tattling, some tears.  Play time with the neighbors, photo editing, naptime for the baby.  Errands for daddy, and then...just before my mind turns to dinner and my eyes narrow at the clock and my ear strains to hear whispers from the nursery, he says,

"Why don't you go up to Mayberry for a bit, get a coffee, get away?"

Normally, I excuse the invitation away.  I testify that I'm fine, or, more often than not, that I'm too busy...there is too much to do....I don't have time to "get away," even for a cup of coffee.  I don't let him relieve me.  I don't let him step into solo-parent mode.  Somewhere along the way, I adopted a hidden belief that only I could do it, and by "it," I meant everything.

Someone wise recently told me that the opposite of self-respect was perfectionism.  It took me more than a second to wrap my head around that.  As someone who has long prided herself on being a "perfectionist," I found that insulting.  What would possibly be wrong with striving toward perfectionism, and how in the world did my pursuit of such inhibit self respect?

The more I considered her theory, however, (and I'll admit, there is some context I'm leaving out), the more I realized her words ring true, at least for me.   She asked me to picture how my life would be different if I truly had healthy self-respect, and this is what came to mind:
  • I'd let go of the notion that I could do it all
  • I'd let go of the notion that I'm the only one who could keep things together for our family
  • I'd make time, not excuses, for myself to exercise -- whether that meant going for a long walk/ride, or making time for the gym
  • I'd accept the offer of help, or time to myself, whether that offer was from another friend, a family member, Tiffany, or Jim
  • I'd stop saying "yes" to things I didn't want to commit to/participate in, merely for fear of disappointing someone else
  • I'd let myself enjoy naptime on Mondays, when it's just me and James at home, and let myself watch a show or read a book, instead of frantically doing chores
When I recognized that all the motivation behind those things/behaviors was maintaining my impossible standard of perfection, it was easy to see that I was doing myself a disservice.

So, circling back around to our germy, quiet Sunday.  Jim said, "go, get a coffee."  And you know what?  I said yes.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Frivol

Did you know that frivol is a transitive verb?

You probably only really use is in the adverbian sense (“She was acting frivolously.”) but I began to really ruminate on the word when I ran across it in a list after I Google-searched, “other words for “to waste.”  Actually, I got to frivol after I clicked on squander, because it was squander that actually resonated the most with me in that moment.

And can you guess what prompted my to-lazy-to-actually-find-and-dust-off-my-thesaurus search?  You may be able.

Ah, yes.  The ever present topic of my writing.  Or lack thereof.

I can’t number the times I’ve been told, “you have a gift,” “you should write a book,” “you’re an amazing writer.”  On one hand, the self-doubt that wells up with each of those compliments is so very real.  Who am I to think anything I have to say is worthy of publication?  And on the other hand, I have a diploma (somewhere; probably near the dusty thesaurus) that would speak to  my talent.  Degrees in journalism and English mean something, do they not?

So, therein is my dilemma, haunting my thoughts on a cold  Monday night , driving me to the Internet for word inspiration because of the overwhelming and disappointing belief that I’m wasting a gift.  My most precious gift.

I don’t mind using this space to diary endearing anecdotes of my children as they grow, or to catalogue recipes that become part of my constant kitchen rotation.  I have no moral qualms with posting pictures and step-by-step instructions on home decoration and improvement projects that I tackle as we move from home to home.

But.

BUT.

I want so much more for my OWN self.

I want to use this space to pour out thoughtful, carefully crafted, grammatically correct pieces of me.  When I wrote the “why Writer Chic?” post years ago, I stated that I wanted this place to be somewhere I could speak to my all the parts of me.  Not just me as a mommy/homemaker.  But the woman-me. And writer-me.  And dreamer-me.

Where did she go?

She is in here.  I know she is.

But it has been so very long since I’ve taken time to listen to her.  To listen for her voice.  To take time to hear what she has to say.  About anything.

About the Malaysian jet disappearance.  Or the crisis in the Ukraine. Or the common core curriculum.  Or Obamacare.

And that’s not say that I’m going to be doing posts about any of those things.  That’s just to say that I’m acknowledging that I have thoughts about those things.

A few weeks ago, I had an epiphanous moment in my kitchen – one that involved Nutella and baked broccoli, so that should tell you something about the development of said epiphany – and I was *thisclose* to changing the url and name and entire direction of this blog.

But.

I’m not going to.

Because I still believe in the purpose and intent behind this blog, and its name.

And I still believe in me. The writer-me.  She is worth fighting for.  And you better believe I am fighting my way back.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Hibernation

It pains me, almost physically, that it has been almost 3 months since I've dusted off this little dot-com of mine, and poured my heart out onto the page.

There is no one reason that the blog posts fell by the wayside. It isn't like 2013, and 2012 for that matter, weren't already "dry" years.  They were. And if I so chose, I could explain why and what triggered that.  I never meant for that silence to become permanent.  I still don't.  I don't think.

But maybe...I don't know.  Maybe I really need to rethink what I want this blog to be.  It has taken on so many personalities over the years: a simple here-is-what-is-going-on-with-my-high-risk-pregnancy, to a family scrapbook, to a place to grieve, back to a scrapbook, and now....

Now, the "everyday" is hard to keep up with.  To take time to post the simple happenings of my day seems frivolous, and to MAKE time to craft the posts that I really want to write....that just simply seems impossible.

And while I try to figure it out -- what I want this site to be, not only to me, but to my readers (if there are any left), to -- life continues to come at me in unbelievable, warp-speed ways.

No, seriously.

Since my last post:
  •  Jim spent a week on the neurology floor of the hospital after we were told he'd had a stroke.  At 33.  (Final ruling was that it wasn't actually a stroke.  But still.  I can't unhear those words in the ER as they rushed him away from me on a gurney: "Mrs. Gregory, it appears your husband has had a stroke.  You did the right thing....  We'll do everything we can..."
  • My father was diagnosed with cancer.  The details are his to share.  But I can at least say, it was still a diagnosis we were not expecting, and the rapid nature in which treatment and surgery and recovery have followed have been mind-boggling.
  • Seth broke his wrist 2 days after Christmas, and we learned that he has some pretty extensive vision issues.  As I write this, he has already gotten his cast off, and we are all adjusting to Seth-with-glasses, but at the time...it was a lot to handle.
  • I've taken my first international trip, to London.
  • Tiffany was involved in a serious car accident that, while she herself was wonderfully, providentially protected, totaled her car.  An entire week of our January seemed to just evaporate in the wake of that, and car shopping, and recovery.
  • Tiffany and I have both been struck down with not only influenza but also strep.  NO FUN.
I could add more.  No, really.  I know it's hard to believe.  But there is more.  And I know that each incident isn't that life-altering in and of itself.  But when it comes one thing after another.  And then you factor in the season -- the trifecta that is Thanksgiving-Seth's birthday-Christmas -- while all of this is going on.  Oh, and did I mention that we Ohioans are experiencing the worst winter in history?  Seth has only been to school 8 days since December 20.  EIGHT.

This really wasn't the post that I wanted to write tonight.  That flu/strep double-punch I mentioned up there is real time -- I got my diagnosis just yesterday, and I'm currently propped up in bed regretting my dinner choice.  But I thought it past time to reappear here and let anyone out there still reading that things have just been heavy over in these parts.  Overall, everyone is well and I'm okay, truly.  I just....

Yeah.  I'm finding my way back, I hope.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Eight on 8

Another year, more milestones.  More laughs and more tears and more questions and more memories and more kisses goodbye and goodnight.  More miscommunications and more make-up sex. ;)  More diaper changes and more credit card bills.  More life.  Always more life.

He is still the only one I’d want to be on this crazy ride with.  You hear lots of statistics about the seven year itch and all that.  Well, I’m here to say, that we came out on the other side stronger and more in love than ever.  So, take that, seventh year.  And eighth, too.

 

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It’s cheesy, but the melody is catchy, and I have to admit, it fits….

So, in the words of Paramore…..

Can't count the years on one hand
That we've been together.
I need the other one to hold you.
Make you feel, make you feel better.
It's not a walk in the park
To love each other.
But when our fingers interlock,
Can't deny, can't deny you're worth it

‘Cause after all this time, I'm still into you.

I should be over all the butterflies, but I'm into you.
And even on our worst nights, I’m into you.
Let ‘em wonder how we got this far,
’Cause I don't really need to wonder at all.
Yeah, after all this time, I'm still into you.

sweet 7 

Happy 8th Anniversary, Jim

There is no one else I’d rather
roll my eyes at than you. xoxo

But seriously, I love you.
Here’s to many more years
of being into one another.

Friday, October 4, 2013

InstaFriday 10.4.13


Guess who scored his first goal of the soccer season?!  This little dude!  And I had to pay up; I'd bribed him with $5 for scoring.  There may or may not have been some parents on the opposing team that I wanted to impress.  But that is another post for another day.


Guess who woke up a whole year older on Monday?  This girl!  My Instagram caption read "Good morning, 33.  Be good, please.  But even if not....thank you, God, for more days to enjoy and celebrate the amazing gifts you've given me."  Would it be weird if I print out this picture and keep it handy and visible to remind me on the hard days of the prayer of that birthday morning?  I really want to mean it...


Guess who got to hang with Auntie KK and the pup-pups for a whole day while Mommy and Daddy ran grown-up errands?  That little piece of adorableness.  I just love everything about this picture....that Blue is kissing him.  That their hair is the same color.  That now I know Karen didn't even set up the pack-n-play for naptime.  They just snuggled the afternoon away.


Guess who got to stay up past her bedtime to have dinner, ice cream, and some leotard shopping with her two favorite girls?  Tiffany!  And she found a sweet pink, sparkly leotard, too. ;)  Just kidding.  It's the other blonde beauty.  I pray that we are both loving and leading her as best as possible.


Guess who still has two separate bouquets of birthday blooms brightening her kitchen and bedroom?  I love fresh flowers, especially fall ones.  That said, I think I've decided I'm not going to put mums on the front porch this year.  That's a first for me....we shall see if I change my mind on impulse.


Speaking of my front porch....I'm still "feathering."  (Not that you'd know that it's "still," since I haven't blogged any pictures of the decor I've put out thus far.  But I digress.)  I bought corn stalks for the first time, and I'm loving them.  Loving them enough that I'm gonna get a couple more. Yeehaw!

And that's my week, y'all.  Or at least the week that actually made it to my Instagram account. ;)  I'm linking up with Jeanette at life.rearranged.  Won't you join us?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Remember when....

Remember when we all went out to dinner at that Mexican place in the Gulch that wasn't even that good....?

...and then crammed way too many people into a way-too-small vehicle to drive around downtown Nashville looking for the best karaoke bar...?

...and then had to leave the first bar because the smoke was too much for this then-pregnant-with-James momma to handle...?

...so we went to the Wild Beaver instead...?

....and Jim sang "Tootsie Roll"...?

...and Kasey rode the mechanical bull...?

...and the waitress who was dressed up like some deranged bumblebee gave Andrea and Carrie some type of Halloween-inspired shots of who-knows-what...?

Remember that night?

It was a good night.

Monday, September 9, 2013

The first day of the rest of his life

There is a new hashtag floating around my Instagram account these days: #chapterk

And I've got to tell you, I'm having a blast with it.  I mean, not so much the hashtag, but the need for it: having a kindergartener.

Now, given that Seth had been in some sort of organized preschool program since August 2009, my emotions of sending my baby off to school were pretty stable.  Granted, I came to the realization VERY quickly that this experience is NOTHING like I've encountered in the past, and I'm sure I'll be blogging about those specifics in the coming months.  But as for the first day jitters.....there were none.  Just a whole lot of smiles and hugs and "I'm so proud of you" moments.

Jim started his day a little later than normal so that he could help get Seth awake and dressed, and to pause for the obligatory front porch pictures.

 



 

Seth and his best buddy Lucas stopped their hooting and hollering long enough to snap this priceless shot.  I can see this one going up on some "through the years" photo boards for the graduating class of 2026!

Little Miss and Mister couldn't miss out on the ceremonial first day pictures, either, and luckily every one was in good enough moods to capture some sweet early morning smiles.



This has nothing to do with kindergarten, per se, but it is worth mentioning.  I never EVER could figure out how to take a screen shot on my first smartphone (a Samsung Droid).  Thankfully, I now have an iPhone5, and I can take screen shots like a pro.  Which ended up being much needed when I accidentally video filmed Seth getting on the bus instead of snapping a photo.  But!  I managed to pause the clip to capture this perfect, sums-up-the-morning-to-a-tee shot, and I am not ashamed to admit that I look at it probably a dozen times a day.  I can't believe I'm lucky enough to be this kid's mom.  He is so unbelievably awesome.


They tell you it will happen.  And it's not that you don't believe them.  You just don't know what the "it" feels like until your turn finally comes.

But then it does -- your turn -- and you find yourself in that moment that they warned you of.  You wait for the feelings (that, as it turns out, are custom made for you and your child) to wash over you....  The wave comes; crests as the hydraulics swing shut the bus doors; abates as the yellow tube-with-windows turns left at the stop sign.

There you stand, in the sun, and you think to yourself, "yes, it was just that fast, and now it's over.  It WAS just yesterday that he was learning to walk/trying to talk/fitting into 12m overalls.  Just like that, he's gone.  Off to conquer the real world, one grade at a time."


 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Overwhelmed

I looked over my shoulder today to see exactly this, this look smiling right into my mirror. I can't believe God picked me, of all the women in the world, to be his momma. 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

#ChapterClosed

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Yeah, I know.  I'll give you a second to recover from the cuteness overload.

This was Seth's first day of "preschool" (aka Mother's Day Out) in August 2009.

And I blinked, literally, and here I sit, on the eve of his first day of kindergarten.

I'm not overly emotional.  I have mommy-friends all around me who are bombarding Facebook with (forgive me) ultra-sappy e-cards and plagiarized poems about fleeting years and holding back tears as little ones board yellow busses for the first time.

Not so much me.

Seth is beyond ready for the independence that comes tomorrow morning with the bus and the lunch room and the table time and the card behavior system.  He is ready with a capital R.  And so am I.  I'm not a good teacher.  There is a reason I studied journalism, not early childhood education.  These are HARD years to muddle through.  (Trust me; I'm still in the trenches.)  They are not my favorite.  So, on many days, I'm just "OMG get out of the house and go learn forgoodnesssake already!!!"

I can say that, with total honesty, and in the same breath, sit back and analyze and realize that I feel like I failed him in some way.  That I was selfish with my time, and that I didn't make the most of the handful -- literal handful -- of years that I had him all to myself, under my roof, to mold and shape and teach and love.

I didn't wish the years away.  I just feel, in this moment, that I could have done better.  I could have been more intentional.  More influential.  More....well, just more.

And I guess that is the plight of the firstborn.  They are our learning curve.  Our test run.  Our "oh, please just don't let me screw him up too badly" one.

But.  Despite my shortcomings, he is ready.  He is tucked in bed, Bailey under one arm, awash in the glow of a green lava lamp.  And for just one more night, he is just my baby.

Tomorrow, all bets are off....



Friday, August 9, 2013

Under the big top

We took the kids to the circus and it was AMAZING.

I know I am ridiculously backlogged with posts, but I managed to snap this picture of Erin and me before the show Friday night, and I can't quit looking at it, so I thought I'd share.


Let me tell you, watching the circus through the eyes of your three year old is pretty much magic.  If you haven't done it, do it.  Find a way.  I promise it is worth the price of admission a hundred times over.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Hello, Monday


Yeah, I know, it's Wednesday.  But it's been that kind of a week.

Just popping in for a few minutes to share what has made me happy today.

Erin, wandering around the house singing, "Shake my booty...!"  I know it won't be cute in a few years, so I'm soaking it up now.

Genoa salami on leftover garlic bread for lunch.  Yum.

Seth proclaiming, "I love bacon most of all."  Amen, and amen.

A not-half-bad french braid, on my own hair.  Granted, "not-half-bad" translates to "not-half-good" but it isn't anything a sparkly headband can't make presentable.

James, smacking the window screen with my flip flop, and his way-too-cute "Giddit!" ("Get it!")  He thinks watching me swat flies is the funniest thing EVER, and it has turned into one of the first things he is imitating.

And there you have it.  A piece of our daily randomness tossed out there for the world to see.  Aren't you glad I blog? lol
blog. 
 I'm linking up with Lisa Leonard for Hello, Monday.






Saturday, July 20, 2013

10 minute challenge, 7.20.13

It's nothing you haven't heard before.

"The poor blog."  "So busy."  "So many things to say."  "Will do better."  Blah, blah, BLAH.

Life is what it is right now, and that, on any given day, is any number of varying things.

So, today.  It's a quiet Saturday afternoon where the littles are napping and the big is with Gramp-e and I'm going to set a 10 minute timer on my phone to just dump whatever comes to mind in this space....

Go!

James is still only 16 pounds, give or take an ounce or two depending on the day and the amount of poop he offloads.  We are scheduled to see a nutritionist and a new pediatric GI on Thursday.  Here is hoping that we get some answers.

Erin sprained her ankle last night.  It isn't bad, but it is interesting to see her process this new kind of pain.  You can tell she doesn't quite understand why it still hurts even a day after the injury.  Makes me realize the resilience of kids, in general, when they get a bump, bruise, cut, or scrape.  It's a little Neosporin, a character Band-Aid, and a kiss from mommy, and all is well.  Most of the time.

I found Seth chewing on one of my sandals yesterday.  Seriously.  The kid left teeth marks on the right sole.  Weirdo.  I hope he gets over that culinary delight before school starts.

School.  Starts.  In, like, 5 weeks.  It's nuts.  Me, a mom to a kindergartener.  Not feeling too emotional one way or the other about that.  Yet.  Ask me again in a couple more weeks.

Houses.  Lake houses, to be exact.  We have spent time at three different ones already this summer, and it's safe to say our "appetite" is whetted.  Something new, perhaps, to add to the bucket/wish list.

Speaking of houses.  Tennessee 116 is no more.  We officially closed on the sale of our Nashville home last Friday.  It was an emotional trip, to say the least.  But, on the flip side, Jim and I were able to get away for a quick one-on-one trip, and it was great.

I'm done nursing, which means my allergy-induced dietary restrictions are lifted, which means I've overindulged in all the yumminess I've missed since January, which means I have about 7 pounds to lose, like, yesterday.

Tiffany and I are getting away for a girls weekend in September and I CAN NOT WAIT.  I'm not sure what aspect of the trip I'm most excited about, but I also have to say, just having it to look forward to is so great.  It is true what they say about anticipation; it's almost as good (of not sometimes better) than the actual happening.

Two minutes to go....

I made a plum tart for a ladies potluck a couple weeks ago, and, if I do say so myself, if was a hit.  I'll have to try to share the recipe with you guys.  It really was SO simple, but, man, it had some serious wow factor.

There is more.  There is always more.  But the timer is beeping and the big little is stirring, so.... PUBLISH.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Independence Day


Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

Happy Birthday, America!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Adios, Google Reader

Okay, y’all.
I know there are a handful of you that click to the actual dot com when you want to check out what is going on over here at The Writer Chic.  (Which, yes, I know, isn’t much as of lately.  Or, at least, not that I’m telling you.)
But for those of you who have been faithful Google Reader followers, you must know that our dear Reader is going the way of the dinosaurs.
So, Feedly.  It’s what I’ve been using the past few weeks, and honestly, it’s been a pretty smooth transition.  I haven’t searched for an app yet, to be able to keep up with my blog reading on my smartphone, but I’m sure it’s out there.
I just wanted to put my two cents out there for my alternative feed reader, and to let you know that I DO plan to keep blogging, eventually, so please go ahead and add www.thewriterchic.com to whatever new feed system you choose to go with!
See y’all on the flip side!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

It is still his

In 2012, when we found out that Duncan would share his birthday with our fourth-born, it was easier, emotionally, to push the significance of that to the back burner, and say, “we’ll just figure out what that looks like next year.”

Well, guess what?  It’s next year.

And, undoubtedly, I have been wrestling in my spirit.  May 19 is James’ birthday.  His FIRST birthday.  It’s a big deal.

But May 19 is Duncan’s birthday.  And has been for FOUR years.  This is a day that has been sacred to me and to my family.  So while I am indeed emotional that when I pick up James out of his crib on Sunday morning, he will have turned that magical corner from baby to toddler, I can’t help but feel that Sunday is still more about Duncan.

You see, I actively love and parent James EVERY DAY.  EVERY day is James’.  And Seth’s.  And Erin’s.  EVERY day I am actively their mommy.  Doing and being and working for them.  Acknowledging them.  So while their BIRTH DAY is a chance to pause and celebrate the day they came into this world, I don’t think the day itself is as significant for them as it is when it comes to Duncan.

May 19 is the ONE DAY a year that I feel an impossible desire to be actively aware of him.  To celebrate him.  To remember him.  It is his day.  It is HIS.  Not his alone, but his, predominantly.

At least this year.

Man.

This is hard.

I don’t know what May 19 will look like in the years to come when James is aware that it is his birthday.  I hope he is as easy-going as Seth and Erin; they don’t care if they are celebrated on their ACTUAL birth date.  As long as there is cake and balloons and presents at some point, they’re good.

But for now….

For this year….

For today….

I choose to make it about Duncan.

Gregory 11

Do you see it?

We had portraits taken in March.  I hadn’t shared this picture yet because I had grand plans to have prints done in time for Mother’s Day.  (FAIL.  Oops.)  But, it’s time.  Because it is a perfect picture.

That is my quartet.  My three sons and my sweet girl.  This side of heaven, that photo is the closest I will ever get to having my children all gathered together.  I adore it.

My big boy, who breaks and mends my heart a dozen times a day.

My bean.  The girl I didn’t know what to do with, but who is my brightest joy.

My baby.  The caboose that healed the piece of me that thought the “baby brother” dream had died with Duncan.

And my precious, missed-every-day miracle, right there in the mix.  Those one-pound-1o-ounce footprints, right in the middle of the beauty that is my children.

I realize this post has been poorly drafted.  Execution hasn’t been my strong suit as of late.  But it is my heart.  May 19, 2013. It’s Duncan’s fourth birthday.  Today is about him.  About how he changed me.  My marriage.  My parenting.  How he made me a better person.  Wife.  Mommy.  Friend.  Today is about him and all that he was and all that I’d have wanted him to be.   He is so loved, and so missed, and if the only way I can shout that out is in this little corner of the blogosphere, than so be it.  This is me shouting…

************

Happy birthday, baby.

I miss you.

I wish you were here.  I wish I were making you a birthday cake and sticking a bow on a big boy bike and changing sheets on a bunk bed that was yours and yours alone.  I wish I had known on that night four years ago how much I’d miss you today.  I would have done some things differently.  I’m glad that I have the IDEA that I’ll have eternity to “make it up to you,” and even more glad that I know the TRUTH that it won’t matter, once we are finally together again.

I wish the swing set Gramp-e just bought had to be bigger, to accommodate 4 swings, not just 3.  I wish I were preoccupied with keeping you from climbing trees instead of picking one out to plant for you (here in Ohio).

I wish I’d told you just one more time that I’m sorry I wished you away.  I wish I’d planned better for our time with you.  I wish I’d taken off the onesie they put you in so that I could see your tiny feet.  I wish Wednesday morning had taken a little bit longer to come, so that goodbye didn’t have to be said so soon.

But….

Wishing won’t make it so, and that’s okay.

I know you are in the best place.  I know that while I may have failed you during those days in 2009, I think I’ve done a pretty bang-up job where you are concerned since then.  People know I’m your mommy.  I take every chance I get to speak your name and honor your place in our hearts and home.  I love you, Apple Jack, and so do others.

I would give almost anything to go back and hold you for just one more moment.  But until Heaven reunites us, know you are forever in my heart….

I love you.  I love you. I love you.  I love you.

Mommy

101_9074

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Rock Star

I was standing in my kitchen earlier today, and this image flashed on my computer screen:



I had Pandora open on my browser, and as I stared at the picture, the familiar sounds of "na-na-na-nah-na-nah-na, I''m gonna start a fight!" met my ears.

Earlier this week, I read through some of Duncan's story, and one of the lines that most struck me was from the Labor & Delivery chapter:
I pushed – twice only – and the doctor announced, “he’s perfect.  He’s beautiful.”  And Jim wiped his eyes, and reached for the scissors, and cut the cord that had carried, and then failed, Duncan’s life.  We were no longer connected, my baby and me, and my head fell back on the pillows and my mind went blank.
And then, in that post, I went on to write that in the darkness, I heard a refrain:
So what, I'm still a rock star;  
I got my rock moves,  
And I don't need you.
 
And guess what?  
I'm havin’ more fun,  
And now that we’re done  
I'm gonna show you,

Tonight, I'm alright,  
I'm just fine…..
  
I'm just fine.  I'm just fine.  I'm just fine.  I'm just fine.
I have heard this song countless times, both before the birth of my sweet son, and in the four years (FOUR YEARS!?) since, but as I read what I'd penned during the catharsis of his story-telling, I saw them in a completely new and breathtaking context.

I began to associate the line "...and I don't need you" in the chorus with what I'd written about Jim cutting the umbilical cord that night: "We were no longer connected, my baby and me."

And with that new association was one of the sweetest moments I've had since that night.  Up until this point, it had been hard not to focus on the I-failed-him/my-body-failed-to-sustain-him aspect of Duncan's death.  But now.  Oh!  The peace that flooded my heart with once again seeing and believing the truth that he doesn't need me any longer, for he is in a far better place than here on earth!  For even with all the love I have for him, I'd still be raising him in a broken and hurting world.  He would still be human, and would still sin, and would still need to come to the knowledge of a just God and the saving grace of His Son.

But my sweet boy has never known the truth of this world, only the wonder of heaven, and the words in this chorus took on a whole new life for me this week.  Can you hear him?  Can you hear him whispering to me that night, and on so many nights since?

Mommy, guess what?  
I'm havin’ more fun, (more fun that you can even imagine!)

And now that we’re done
(and it's okay that we're "done;" you did your job for every day you carried and loved me)  
I'm gonna show you,

Tonight, I'm alright, (better than alright, even!)
I'm just fine…..
  

I'm just fine.  I'm just fine.  I'm just fine.  I'm just fine.
(Finer than you could ever dream for me.  I'm perfect now...!)


Oh, dear reader....you can't imagine the moment of revelation I had sitting in my living room Tuesday night.  Seriously.  I'm still in awe of the gift of this new "translation" of this song.  (Granted, I'm not stupid; the other 97% of this song does not in any way fit the context of my new interpretation!  But, still.  I can't undo the fact that this is the song he was birthed to, so...there you have it.)

Anyway.

I just felt that I should share this.  I know recent posts -- and most likely, in a few more to come -- there is predominantly sadness and missing.  Because, oh, OH, how I miss him.  I hear Seth talk about his baby brother (ie, James) and my throat aches with the unsaid words, "but he wasn't your first baby brother."  I can't not wonder who he would have been, what he would have looked like, who he would have taken after, what he would have loved to do.... I can't help but still feel that I have a family of 6, and he is the absent puzzle piece.

But.

He is alright.  More than alright.  He's just fine.

And I will be, too.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Feelings

This is how I'm feeling today:

 

Deflated. The sun is shining behind me, but I can't help but note the dark skies ahead.

It's coming home from a party to find a text from my mother that reads, "Grandpa in congestive heart failure.  In ICU.  Will keep you posted."

It's Duncan.  Today is the 14th.  The 14th was the last day that I know that I know that I know I felt him kick.  Tomorrow is the 15th, and the 15th marks the day that I KNEW.  I just knew.

It's Seth.  It's his recent obsession with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and his new "I'm gonna kill you with [insert whatever weapon du jour]" vocabulary.  It's the age, I guess.  But it's so dang hard.

It's James.  And the final days of his babyhood slipping away..... ***sob***  It's that only 4 of the 12 families that RSVPed "yes" to his birthday party actually came, and, yep, here come my insecurities of "I, and now we, don't matter."  Blergh.

It's Tiffany, and her ankle, and my inability to fix it.  It's also watching her meet people and make new friends...and it's unavoidable that there be some who have lacking social skills, and inadvertently confuse her and upset me.

It's a recent break-in around the corner in our subdivision, and the feelings of helplessness that stirs up.  And the reminder that sometimes it is just stuff.  And sometimes, it is SO MUCH MORE.

It's the stupid scale, and numbers that are going the wrong direction despite healthy choices and only minor cheats (with leftover gluten and dairy free smash cake, no less!).

It's May.  And yes, while May means birthday celebrations and Mother's Day and Memorial Day ushering in summer....for me, it's MAY and the connotation is too great to even voice.

I want to come back and do justice to Erin and her third birthday, and of course James' and his wonderful celebration and just his first, amazing year, in general.  Yet....I'm in my quiet place, and I think, like each year, it just needs to run its course and play out how it will play out.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

My parallel life is in Durango, CO


So, y'all.

Mandie.



I've talked about, praised, and linked to her before.  Because she is all sorts of funny and honest and awesome and there are few women more special to me on this across-the-miles-together mommy journey I'm on than she.

She wrote something today, and it is pretty close to verbatim to what I could write about Seth.  I alluded to it yesterday (with the whole "why I want to look him in a tower" reference).

So....since I'm out of original material today, getting all cake-frosted and having giant punch balloons pop in my face and all, I'm just sending you over to her.

Read. Appreciate.  Pray for her.  (And me.  And every other pre-school momma you know with a firstborn son who, OMG, is a hot mess 9 times out of 10 these days.)

And then go back and read some of her archives. Because, seriously, y'all:  FUNNNNNY.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Random mid-May word vomit

  • May 9: one year ago today, I had my maternity pictures taken, and was blissfully unaware of the drama that was going to unfold the next day, and in the days to follow.  I can honestly say, it was the last day that things were "normal" for me, and I'm feeling a little melancholic at that revelation.
  • Seth's independence and fearlessness is going to get him kidnapped and/or killed.  It is a legitimate fear of mine in recent days.  He has taken to wandering off in stores, leaving the house with no preamble, riding his bike across streets and down through the subdivision.  Please, don't judge.  We are working on finding a solution that doesn't involve locking him in a tower room.  Lord knows, he'd just find a way to dig out/repel down/mentally transport from it, anyway.
  • I'm second guessing our decision to have my tubes tied during my c-section last spring.  With James' fast-approaching birthday, I'm painfully aware that my days as a mother to an infant are numbered.  And it's not even that I adore the newborn baby stage; it just feels uncomfortable that I'm going back to a world of tampons and heating pads instead of pregnancy tests and prenatals.
  • Tiffany sprained her ankle -- and I use the term "sprain" loosely, as we are still waiting on X-ray findings -- and I'm completely preoccupied with her discomfort.  I want to just make it better, and I can't, and it is a new place to be in for me.  I'm not her mom, so I don't want to hover and belittle and make her feel anything less than able to handle it herself, but man.... even moreso than when Erin had her surgery or when James has had to endure testing, etc., this is a "boo boo" that doesn't have an easy fix or a known end date.
  • Jim and I are ships passing in the night, if that.  I have vague recollections of kisses goodnight and goodbye, but mostly, we are exchanging texts and emails regarding all the various details of the balls we have in the air right now.  I'm not sure what we can do in this particular season to reconnect and/or stay connected, but it, too, is weighing on my heart.
  • I'm feeling very restless when it comes to all things Duncan related this year.  I don't know what to do/what I want to do to honor his birthday/homegoing.  I know I don't want to ignore it, but I don't know how to approach it, either.  I hate so very much not being near his tree.  So much so that I'm seriously thinking maybe we need to discuss burying his urn and getting a marker....?  I don't know.  I'm really sad that I don't have a "place" to go here in Ohio that feels like "his."
  • Random projects and "wants" around our house have me feeling impatient.  I want to fence the backyard, power sand and repaint the front bench, update the chest in the kitchen, make a Lego table to Seth, do something with the builder grade mirror we removed from the upstairs bath, hang the magazine holder in the master bathroom, get our office clutter under control.
  • I'm disappointed that I'm taking the time to blog tonight, but not "write," because I'm at that "I don't know where to start" point, and so I'm just throwing words on the screen in an attempt to clear my head.
  • Speaking of clearheadedness.....I haven't had it in a while.  So fuzzy.  Everything has been so fuzzy now for a few months, and I don't know if it is just sleep deprivation, the diet change, or what.
  • I had dreams about killer tornadoes, unmanned garage sales, and premature births last night.  Have no clue where those came from, and don't have the mental reserves to spend to figure it out.   Actually, just typing that out gives me some insight, and not in a good way.  The mind is an amazing thing, but man, sometimes, it's just too powerful for my liking.
  • I learned the definition of the word altruistic this week.
  • I felt like a complete yuppie (yuppy?) when I designed and ordered "mommy cards" earlier today, but (a) Tiffany said they're cute, so there's that, and (b) I'm quickly entering a realm of existence when, apparently, these type of things are necessary.  Oy.
  • I owe a friend some editorial input on her professional bio.  I need to do it.  I want to do it.  But, man, I just want to sleep.  Or watch the 5 DVR'ed episodes of Glee that are waiting downstairs.
  • I've been thrilled to learn that the Giant Eagle generic brand of Cap'n Crunch is gluten free.
  • I baked three batches of brownies for James' birthday party today, and have washed my hands countless times, and now they feel all dry and yucky.  Anybody have a recommendation for a good hand cream?
Okay....I don't know that I feel any better, but at least some of what it floating around in my head can now be floating around in yours, too.  Generous, aren't I?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Golden

Three.

It's a magical number today.

My third-born turns three years old on the third of May.  It is her golden birthday.  And my mind boggles that the day has come.  Weren't we just floating away into the Cumberland River?  And here we are....


I realize I should be captioning these photos, but, man, what I see as her mother -- her mommy -- looking at each of these is hard to put into words.

It's so much more than "Erin loves her chocolate milk."


And, "Erin is all about rainbows these days."



It's more than "I wear you's pink stipstick."  It's time in the morning, even when the morning hasn't made time, to spend a minute in the bathroom with my girl, whittling away at the Mary Kay tube of Fancy Nancy, and watch her try to blot her lips "just like mommy."  It's pausing to realize that she is truly my mini-me, watching and mimicking my every move.






It's more than "Erin is an artist at heart."  It is that you are passionate about what you love.  Color and pattern and beauty, and you see it in so many things, and you create it where it doesn't naturally exist. ;)
 


Oh, Erin, two was a tough year, little miss.  We gave you a baby brother for your second birthday, made you start preschool, moved you to a big girl bed, potty trained you, stuck you in the hospital for a week...

And you were a rockstar.  A dramatic, angelic, often (literally) snotty, adorable 21 pound handful.

You are an amazing sister, daughter, friend.  Your favorite people in the world are your family, plus Mr. Doug ad Tiff'y. You are still shy around most people, but I love that innocence.  You amaze me, sweetheart.  You are everything and nothing that I imagined, and I am so lucky to be the one who is your momma.  I won't always be your favorite, or your best friend, but I'll always be your biggest fan.  You are the brightest star in my sky.  I love you.


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