Gratitude Journal

1. A family out hunting and gathering for Panera treats and the weeks groceries while I’m left with baby-snuggling duty

2. lastFM.com

3. being able to stomach a cafe au’ lait again after a tummy bug

4. the baby nuzzling into my neck when I pick her up to my shoulder

5. my 3 year old alarm clock, “Momma, it’s 7-4-4, that means it is time to wake up!”

6. the luxury of staying in bed until 7-4-4

7. feeling gratitude

8. making birthday lists

9. seeing my bridesmaid dress!

10. seeing Auntie Deb’s wedding dress!

11. the baby not getting the nasty tummy bug (yet…)

12.the promise of snow

13. the return of my milk after an illness

14. meeting new families in the community

15. lunch with friends

16. getting caught up at work

17.Anita’s apple strudel

18. Zuzu and Lovey picking out treats for me at the bakery

19. The Quail kissing her baby

20. The Quail signing Mama

21. the weekend starting out with nobody feeling sick! Yay-hoo!

Fave-O-Lit Friday

Telepathy

by Michael Dennis Browne

Today I explained telepathy to you,
         and telephone, and television,
                  on the way to day care,

and I said, sometimes when I’m at work
         I’ll think of you,
                  and if I could send you that thought with my mind,

you’d get it right then,
         and maybe you’d smile, stopping a moment at whatever
                  you were doing, or maybe not

but just going on with it, making a mask out of paper plates
         and orange and green cards
                  with markers and scissors and paste,

or screaming circles in the gym
         either being a monster
                  or being chased by a gang of them, but still you’d get

the picture I was beaming
         and you’d brighten inside and flash me something back,
                  which I’d get, where I was, and smile at.

That’s telepathy, I said
         pulling into the parking lot,
                  looking at you in the mirror.

Quail Day: Our heart & soul…

I fell in love with you heart & soul….it’s lucky this isn’t a vlog. I can’t carry a tune. But you get the idea. When I was full with this little bird in my womb, I worried about all that Zuzu would soon lack. Her upcoming precipitous fall from grace. Her lack of status as the number one, centerpiece of our worlds. I didn’t give her or this little bird the credit they deserved in what they would mean to and for each other. The credit for their rightful place in our little family and world. I worried as most second time mothers often due about how I could possibly fall in love with another little person and how we would make room for her in our lives. I even (as I now recognize as my hormonal state) cried about what we had done by bringing another baby into the house. I couldn’t see the joy of Zuzu getting to care for her little sister, the pride she would feel in her  and in herself with her new role. The happiness that she would lap up as the gift of being part of a family. I just worried that she would feel neglect, jealousy, put-out by someone else being in our home and hearts. My mother, upon hearing this told me as only someone who has been a mother to multiple children for many years can; that my worry was ridiculous. Of course everyone would love the new little baby. You just do!

And she was right, you just do. You can’t plan for it, you can’t prepare for it psychologically and emotionally. You can just put out the well worn baby things your first precious used and explain to her what she used to do with each and how much you loved it when she smiled in her swing, giggled in her carseat, grabbed your face from her perch in the sling. And then let her put her own baby dolls in there and talk about how she will care for them.  And then one day, enter the new baby… “my new baby” as Zuzu promptly claimed her. The moment her carseat was set down on the kitchen floor on that first evening home from the hospital, as Lovey and I watched on wearily and Gramma’s eyes lit up and urged Zuzu forward to greet her new sister; Zuzu shyly handed us the card she had proudly stickered with Gramma  to welcome us home and leaned in and planted a firm kiss on the Quail proclaiming, “I love you baby Abby, Abigail Charlotte” and we all sighed and hugged our relief. That first weekend home Zuzu was repeatedly found trying to hold the baby’s hand and singing her rendition of the Barney, “I love you” alternated with “Happy Birthday”.  We had spent much time talking about how the baby would nurse and when that first time to nurse came that first night home Zuzu was so patient waiting for me to get her sister situated and watching on with hound-dog eyes. When I invited her to join us she immediately picked up her sister’s hand and snuggled in.

W’e’ve all waited for our dear Quail. Some part of each of us seems to have known she was coming in one form or another. I feel a completeness when I look into her eyes that I don’t feel with anyone else I’ve met yet. I see where the eyes are the window to the soul now. There is a peacefulness when I sit holding this sweet girl that makes my heart swell with love and pride. I’m so grateful that she has come to us now, in this lifetime, at this time in our lives. From very early on I’ve felt a connection to the Quail. Even in the first few weeks after her birth. She would lock eyes with us when she was awake, she would turn to the sound of my voice across a room. When we pick her up, she plants her pudgy little palms on either side of our mouths and dives in to chew on our chins. When you pick up a receiving blanket she begins kicking and reaching up the second it is laid out over your shoulder. Once she is up in your arms she nuzzles in to your neck for a quick second and then sits firmly parcelled on your hip facing outward clear on her rightful place.

The ease with which she has turned us from a couple with a child into a family is one of the greatest blessings I could hope to ask for. There is a stereotype that children with Down syndrome are angels and filled with joy. When she was born I was annoyed with this platitude. And as she grew and I saw that joy radiating out of her and felt a peaceful quality that was purely from her heart and soul. I felt that I should get the credit for passing this trait onto her, or her sister should or her father- not the syndrome itself. Well as time has  gone on I’ve seen that that joy belongs to her and her alone. It’s not the syndrome, it’s not us and what she inherited, it is just her- her heart, her soul, her peace. And how lucky are we that we get the opportunity to love and be with her.

Oh Mom, of course, you were right- we do just love her.

corner view: favorite hang out

hangin' out

Have park? Will travel! Outside of our usual abode, we are most likely to be found at a park. We’re happy to visit anyone; so long as there is a park nearby! We come with a lot of energy in our little gaggle of legs and its best to expend it in the great outdoors. Pre-small-ones we were the quiet coffee shop by morning; dinner party by day and   tavern by evening kind of folk. We still get to indulge in those- just with the understanding that we may need to sprint outside for well; a sprint!

Start with our lovely host of corner view Jane and see where everyone else is hanging  out these days:

caitlin, joyce, ani, kim, natsumi, epe, kaylovesvintage, trinsch, c.t., jeannette, outi, ritva, francesca, state of bliss, jennifer, dana, denise, cabrizette, bohemia girl, isabelle, amber, a girl in the yellow shoes, mister e, janis, kari, jgy, skymring, elizabeth, allison, lise, cate, crescent moon, erin, otli, ida, caroline, lisa, dorte, kimmie, nicola, vanessa, britta, april, b, kyndale samantha, kristina, goldensunfamily, sophie, janet, mcgillicutty, aimee, sunnymama, jenell, britta, juanita, pamela, inna, daan, myrtille, cris, ibb, jodi, gillian, travelingmama

Zuzu Day: My heart & spirit

I think about these girls of mine alot. I worry that I wasn’t able to appreciate their babyness at the time I had it. Post-partum anxiety was a real issue with me after Zuzu was born. Now I can see it for what it was. A hormonal state. A natural one that comes from the hormone surges during pregnancy and after. Those last few weeks of my pregnancy with Zuzu I wandered the rooms of our home like a dog who couldn’t get comfortable. I complained about allergies to my OB because I couldn’t breathe at night and would wake up out of breath and in a panic. I’m a worrier. Always have been, going way back to my having had an ulcer when I was in third grade. It’s what I do, I beat up my little body from the inside out. I look for how I can be different, rather than asking anyone else to do anything different. And when I can’t figure anything out- I retreat. Most people who know me socially might not know this about me. I’m fairly friendly, quick with a smile and like to be on the go. That’s my compensation- my anxiety is at its worst when I’m stuck in my own head worrying. But this post isn’t about me. This post is about Zuzu- and the spirit and energy she embraces life with.

In her 3 short years I am amazed at her ability to see the world as her oyster. That every pebble is a pearl. ” Oh Momma- we forgot to take my little potty upstairs! Why, we get to do that today!!! Yay-hoo! I”m such a big girl now!” “Yay-hoo! Daddy is gonna show me how to lace his shoes!”

I feel so fortunate to know someone who is so eternally optimistic. My job in her little life will be to find a balance between guiding her through the social niceties- you know; how we don’t holler, “Yay-hoo!” at the top of our lungs in the restaurant, how we can be excited to make the bed but not break the bed or fall off of the bed in our exuberance. To find a way to teach her how to reign herself in but still not reign in her joy. Because the thing I often find myself pondering is how much of a given situation is my interpretation and a product of my worry of what others think. She isn’t wild at school. She’s quiet, and terribly cooperative. Or at least that is what I hear. A few weeks ago I took her in early and while I was setting her up to eat her breakfast next to the center director she was chattering on about her sister, her egg, her show she watched, etc and the center director just stared, open-mouthed and said she was shocked because Zuzu hadn’t said more than a dozen words to her in the 3 years she has been going there! I was surprised. I know kids are different at school then at home. And trust me- I’d rather enjoy her energy with us then get calls that she’s out of hand. She definitely has learned to use her words at home. Whatever we say routinely to her we hear back in her little pragmatic voice. “Momma stop kissing me, so I can tell my story!”  “Momma, stop singing, it’s my turn!” “SHHHHHH, Momma eat your dinner then talk!” “Momma, you have to be nice to your friend Daddy!”

She also has grown up in classes that are mostly rough and tumble boys. And she is a very physically comfortable child. She’s comfortable in her body and it’s place in space. As evidenced most nights as she streaks around the house yay-hooing over her nakedness in preparation for her tubby. Yet sometimes I get frustrated. That we aren’t the storytime, pottery-painting, high-tea sipping, sitting with a book, quiet, just watching a show, entertaining ourselves sort of family. My girls like people, they like people to pay attention to them and they are far more interested in engaging with others then being left by themselves in any setting; be it morning, noon or night. We know lots of well-mannered, quieter children, and I do tend to find myself getting worries, we are, well too loud. Or that the mothers are judging my apparent ineptitude. And I don’t want to worry about that. I don’t want to see her spirit as a negative.

I’ve recently gotten a copy of Raising the Spirited Child and I’m already thrilled by the perspective of seeing these gifts in your child and learning to work with them. And it makes sense- view their spirit as a positive and it will become one. Tell them they repeatedly need to stop what they are doing, do something differently, that they are letting you down or angering you and that is what they will see in themselves. And I don’t want that at all. She uses her spirit for good- yes she dive-bombs the laundry pile, yes she routinely will pants me in her clammoring for me to pick her up. Some juice may get spilled in her excitement to pour her own big-girl-cup of juice. I’ll often find a myriad of toys and books in bed with us, in my purse, in her coat pockets or occasionally in the refridgerator; but they are well intentioned. She pours us all tea, she hugs with great abandon, she sings along, she reads along, she is always up for a trip to the grocery store or a night out at the restaurant. She is fairly easy to talk into a spur of the minute trip anywhere. In fact the more on the go she is the better. She’s generally willing to share and she has embraced her role as a big sister with the utmost pleasure and minimal exhibitions of any jealousy. Her sister is the first  one she asks about in the morning, the one she jumps on and slobbers with kisses after school, and the one whom she wants to match with when it comes time to pick jammies and the one she takes pride in sharing her toys with and retrieving any toys stolen by other kiddos for. The other morning she woke me up to let me know that the Quail wasn’t in her co-sleeper anymore by announcing, “Wow momma! She’s grown up!” And has been heard on my cell phone letting my mother know that she is going to be a doctor, a teacher, a mommie to 10 girls and that she has to go make pink cookies now for her friends and that we need more babies like the Quail. She is always so busy, that girl, that spirit of mine.

I am so proud of my little girl. She is kind, compassionate, articulate, intelligent, thinks of and notices others- a real people person. She is thrilled with life and forgiving and passionate. She is full of life and spirit. And I wouldn’t have her any other way. I hope nothing ever quelches that confidence, that kindness, that optimism I see inherent in her nature.  I’m going to do my best to protect it and be a little more like her. She’s just the right pieces of me and Lovey all bound up together in a little bundle of pure joy.

Momma Monday: Sick of feeling sick…

So I’ve been a little grumpy, and tired, and sick….and I can’t wait for all of it to pass. The last few months of repeated illness have really worn me down. Each time I think we are past one illness it seems another comes along. This past tuesday night Zuzu told me she wasn’t hungry, and I had her eat anyway. Then she told me her tummy hurt and I made her finish her bath. Fortunately for the Quail, her and I; I did manage to get her out of the tubby before everything she had eaten in the last week worked it’s way up. Poor lamb, she was sick repeatedly into the night until about 2 am when she woke me up with, “Momma, I feel better now, we can go watch a show in the living room!” And then again at 3, and at 4, and at 5….she really did feel better though, and even though she stayed home with Lovey the next morning and me in the afternoon she was her cheerful, energetic self. So I wrote it off to maybe some bad food and back to school she went thursday.

Come friday morning I woke up with a tender tummy and again wrote it off to bad food. Apparently I need to clean out our pantry if I’m so easily convinced it could be the food. I made it through an hour and a half of work before realizing what was coming and made it home just in time. Chula Cat, Lovey and later; Zuzu were very kind to watch over me and I got a few extra hours of daytime sleep in before the yuck hit Lovey.  We are just hoping it isn’t too much to ask for this to pass by the Quail. We’ve been making sure she drinks the most recently pumped milk in hopes of loading her up on antibodies to it. So far so good.

At any rate, I’ve been having a real blizzard of thoughts on how to cope with all of this. I’m fortunate that Lovey can adjust his schedule and work from home, night or on the weekends so that really there is only about a 1/2 dozen hours in my work week that I have to take off if the kiddos are sick. I know I am VERY lucky in this, and I am oh, so grateful for a progressive, loving and involved Daddy to my kiddos that sees it as his right and responsibility to actively take care of the kiddos- including when they are sick. And I’m blessed that the kiddos are as attached to him as me so that it is a comfort for them to stay home with me. But with all of this happening within the first year after my return to work from an 8 week maternity leave, my reserve of time off, is there but fading. I’m not quite using it as quickly as I earn it, but the two statistics are gaining on each other. I feel bad that I don’t spend more time with the kids. I feel like I need to actively be more of a mom to them. There’s the overarching, gross worry of  if the Quail is going to need open-heart surgery in a few years and just the thought of that scares the dickens out of me. And then there are the more mundane ordinary worries (of which I am grateful to have!). I want a homemade meal on the dinner table, I want actual activities and adventures as a family. I want the house less cluttered, and to spend less time getting it that way.  I want to be to work on time and I want to be focused and productive while I’m there. I want a job where my work doesn’t continue to pile up when I can’t be there.

I know there are many long range things I can plan for- moving closer to work, working less hours, looking for a different job. When  the day comes I’m no longer pumping and nursing I know I’ll have more energy. When the baby goes back to sleeping through the night I’ll have more energy then too. When her little constitution is a bit more germ proof after this vicious cold and flu season she’ll hopefully get sick a little less frequently.  In other words I know this will all pass. I remember Zuzu’s first year- she was sick with raging ear infections from 7 months- 13 months. While she was never hospitalized for it; she got very, very ill with each and her reaction to each antibiotic was no picnic either. But as she got a little older and her immune system a little bolder she gets sick so much less often. I do know this will happen for the Quail eventually too. I’m just tired right and frazzled right now.

In the meantime there are some things I can do. I can go to bed earlier. I can sleep a little later. I can take my vitamins. I can try to make sure my diet is healthy and not filled with junk or quick finds. I can try to focus and get caught up at work so it isn’t stressing me out. I can make an extra effort to leave early for work so that I’m not feeling behind when the day has just started. I also need to remind myself that I am the grown up here. That just because I’m unhappy and feel like I’m not providing enough to everyone within my immediate family; let alone outside of it and want life to be different, I don’t need to go around grumping about it. I have been finding myself short-tempered and a little surley. I’ve heard Zuzu ask Daddy more than a couple of times in the last month, “Daddy- why is momma so cranky?” as well as her direct instructions to, “Momma- you need to be nice to people that are just trying to pour their own juice” She’s right. I do need to be nice. Nice begets nice. All those precious little children know is if I’m smiling and happy and present with them, or if I’m just a cranky crank who has forgotten her manners. They don’t know, care or understand- that’s it’s because I’m so mad I can’t BE with them more that I’m like this! Gee- I’m sure they’d love to see more of this crankster too 🙂  I’m grateful that they are so sweet and forgiving and accept my smiles or cranks at such face value. I wish we all were more like that. 

Look for the light in the darkness you feel hemmed in by. On MLK day last monday NPR interviewed Reverand Kyles about the late great Martin Luther King Jr and how he came to Memphis which was a dark place at that  time in history and brought some light with his dream. He tells about the phrase, “Knocking holes in the darkness” from Robert Louis Stevenson in regards to remembering MLK and all he did for this country:

“I’ll be talking about knocking holes in the darkness. It is said that Robert Louis Stevenson was a man who never enjoyed good health. He spent a lot of time in his room even as a child. He was always looking out the window. His nurse asked him one day, Robert, what are you doing? He said, I’m watching that old man knock holes in the darkness. She said, what are you talking about?

He would climb up the ladder and light the light, come down, move the ladder to the next pole, climb up, come down, move the ladder. And everywhere he would light a light it appeared to him with his little quick mind that a hole was being knocked in the darkness.

And so I’m suggesting that those of us who have the strength and the ability, we should be knocking holes in the darkness.”

Rev. Kyles of course means this in a much bigger scheme in life. But with the reference to little RLS and his looking at “the bright side” of his life and his ability to be creative with what he had even though he wasn’t well, it just made me realize that I’m the one that needs to adjust my attitude before I start making any other major life adjustments. I don’t need to walk around cranking and picking at others because I want my life to be different, easier, less chaotic. I’m so blessed that my family loves me and accepts me. And I need to love and accept me. This will pass. And in the meantime, I don’t need life passing me by while I wait for it too.