So, after waxing poetic this week about Monica losing her first tooth, today, during dinner, she lost her second!
And accidentally swallowed it.
For the record….
That tooth will not be in my jewelry box.
So, after waxing poetic this week about Monica losing her first tooth, today, during dinner, she lost her second!
And accidentally swallowed it.
For the record….
That tooth will not be in my jewelry box.
Monica folds herself up like a grasshopper to play on the floor. She is all arms and legs with seemingly an extra limb in there, because goodness that’s a lot of skin! There is not an ounce of toddler chub left on her body or in her face.
She even lost her first tooth recently!
As my oldest, I know she’ll be full of firsts, but sometimes my reaction to those milestones are unexpected. I was surprisingly nostalgic, even teary, about that first tooth. I flashed back to her toothless turtle-smile as a baby, to those fearful nights of tylenol and crying as we navigated teething, to her changed smile as those teeth busted through, and how many thousands of smiles I’ve seen from her face with that tooth solidly in place.
A tiny piece of her, a piece that I helped grow- first inside my own body, then with nourishment from my body, then with the food I provided via the work of my body- now rests in my jewelry box. A generational mirror of the place my baby teeth are kept.
When I discovered our teeth in my mother’s jewelry box, I didn’t understand what they were doing there, nestled among so many other shiny, treasured things.
I understand now.
There’s something analogous to all of parenting in that lost tooth. The pain of growing, the inevitable letting go, the desire to treasure the past.
She’s growing a new tooth now in that empty hole. She’s got several other wiggly teeth. They will, eventually, all leave.
I remember thinking, not long ago, that her smile had started to outgrow those baby teeth. They looked so small in her big-girl, first-grader smile.
And now, she’s growing a new big-girl smile. A smile that will, at first, seem too big for her little first-grader face, but that she will grow into. A smile that will stay with her a lifetime.
Here are some photos from a recent Father/Daughter dance. (As a side note: the girls have such an amazing example of true, sacrificial love in their father. It’s my prayer that they learn from him how a man should treat a woman… learn what real love and respect looks like. Just as I did, from my Dad.)
You can just barely see the spot left by her missing tooth. Her smile is different, but still beautiful. Perhaps there’s another lesson about parenting in there. There is beauty in growth. Beauty in different.
There’s also a lot of humor in growth. Case in point, our son:
The girls could barely keep it together during his photo bomb. Each of the other children has also grown and changed in similarly significant ways during the last several months.
This is true every time after a new baby. I kind of wake up one morning, and everything is different. I think it happens once the baby starts sleeping a little more and we’re past the truly sleep-deprived state. Suddenly I start seeing my kids again, instead of just surviving my kids.
Let’s be honest, those first few months (years?) for me are just making it to the next meal, next snack, next nap… Extra gold stars if I can throw in a load of laundry, but considering how often I sit on the couch to fold it and fall asleep instead, the chances of it leaving the couch are pretty minimal.
But then, one day, I do get it folded. Even put away! I find activities for the kids to do between assembling food on their plates! I actually start to mom again!
More on the other kiddos coming soon.
But just in case you forgot, here’s the Mo-Bug I see in my head when I think about that first tooth…
I ran my first race of 2017 today.
Alright, I jogged it. And walked it. I jog/walked it.
It’s called wogging.
I wogged my first race of 2017 today!
This is a 2017 intention I plan to keep: to run (wog!) one 5k each month this year. The idea is that I should see improvement over the 12 months, leading to greater self esteem and (perhaps) a slimmer waist.
The slimmer waist will be TBD, but I’m sure I’ll improve my time! Let me explain.
There were two good options for a fun run at the end of January: one run was to help people pay their electric bills, the other’s purpose was to get a free beer afterward…Dang that guilty conscience!
So. (much to my beer-drinking-husband’s disappointment) on January 1st I enthusiastically signed up for The Race for Warmth! I’ve got a whole month to train! I can do this! I used to run all the time! I’m sure my muscles remember how to do this!
I spent many a minute fondly remembering the energy of a race. The anticipation at the starting line, the mental endurance games when the race seems long, the final-flying kick at the end. Visualizations aside, the actual running, you know, to prepare for the race…yeah that didn’t happen so much.
Insert SNOWPACOLYPSE 2017. Now, there was some snow earlier this winter, but this time, it actually, truly snowed in Vancouver/Portland.
Do you know what the snow management plan for the Vancouver/Portland area is?
Wait for it to melt.
Not, PLOW or SALT or perhaps PLOW! Just…wait.
So, that plan works if the snow melts. But what happens when temperatures stay below freezing for a week?
The snow stays.
That’s what happens.
So, stay it did. 8 snow days later, had I accumulated any miles to go along with those inches of snow?
Heck no! I don’t own Yak Traks! Plus, drivers out here are crazy in inclement weather.
Also, I got the plague. Well, if the plague means hacking up a lung for 3 weeks (which I know it doesn’t, hyperbole!). Coughing and running don’t exactly work well together, so, run I did not.
But, time still passed. And every day I got closer and closer to race day. Until, fancy that, the day actually arrived.
“I CAN’T!” I wailed and moaned. “I’ve run a total of 2 miles in preparation for this race.” That’s right. The entirety of my preparations (stretched over a month!) were not even as long as the actual race.
“You can,” said Andy. “Take it slow. Walk if you have to. You’ll be happy that you did.”
I hate it when he’s right (actually, I love it. Cause my brain tells me I’m wrong about all sorts of things, and he’s a good litmus test for my kind of crazy).
Let’s review: the day of the race arrived and I
1. had not run 3 miles since, oh, I don’t know 2010?
2. had 2 year old running shoes (they don’t break down, right?),
3. was still wheezing and coughing my way through long conversations, and
4. realized the race was in the morning, when it was going to be 36 degrees outside.
Race for Warmth… blarg.
So, what I’m trying to say is I set myself up for absolutely nothing less than complete success.
If by success I meant utter failure, pneumonia and a pulled hamstring.
But, you know what happened? None of those things.
The energy at the start was the same, the exhilaration of starting something together, something difficult? It was infectious, and before I knew it, I was swept up in the crowd, jogging my first run in a long time.
Then I walked. Then I jogged. Then I walked. Then I jogged (wogging, remember?) So on and so forth until, suddenly, I finished!
All that worry, and all that whining, and here I was. Already done.
Now, my time was not stellar, but, as I said in the beginning, there is plenty of room for improvement. And it probably won’t snow again in Portland this winter… probably.
Time to sign up for my February race.
And get new shoes.
And get rid of this cough.
And, maybe run a mile or two… once I can feel my legs again.
“I don’t usually let people in here, but I don’t mind if you come in,” she said, as she looked for something in her office. In direct contrast to the rest of her organized home, this room had stacks of paper. Piles of things. It was a holding space for transitionary items.
It was a space that showed me, contrary to all outside appearances, that even she had a messy place.
And I was honored.
It is both humbling and gratifying when people show me truth. Show me messy. Show me the spaces that not everyone gets to see. Because it is so real. Messy is my reality. Everyone has their spaces of chaos, the areas that hurt a little to show. We’re all afraid to be vulnerable, afraid of being judged.
But this friend knew she was safe from the judgements and the sideways glances. Because I first showed her my reality, my messiness.
I picked “simplify” as my word for 2017. Motivated by whitewashed walls, clean lines, capsule wardrobes, I vowed to be the same. I can paint. I can clean and polish and scrub and cull.
Except, I can’t. Not really.
I love knick-knacks. The daughter of a glassblower, I love small things of beauty and artwork. I anthropomorphize inanimate objects, and project meaning and value onto rocks and sticks and other things. I have jars of seashells and drift wood from beach trips. I have coins and statues from foreign countries. I have paintings and drawings from my talented sisters, and 3D printed plastic things from Andy.
I attach sentiment to many, many things. Especially if they literally come from my kids. When I cut their hair, we gather it up and spread it in the garden. I can’t imagine throwing a part of them away. All their umbilical stumps are buried outside and the braid I cut from Mo’s hair a year ago (the one that’s supposed to be donated) is still pinned to my cork board. Only partially out of laziness, but mostly because of my attachment. We made memories, so many memories, to which that hair was witness over the first five years of her life. I can’t get over that (welcome to my brain, people!).
If there’s a flat space, I will put something on it. I have flat-surfacitis. My life is messy. My world is messy. My kids are messy, and you know what? SO AM I. I am a messy person. You know the, “My house is messy, but not dirty” line? Well, sometimes, my house is just plain dirty. I suggest that you don’t eat anything off the kitchen floor.
But that has never once stopped me from inviting over a friend; AND it has never once stopped a friend from coming in. I prefer to see them, know them, and laugh with them. They are kind enough to overlook the crumbs and stains and laundry and one million pairs of shoes. Turns out connection/love/friendship trumps messiness every time.
Some friends even appreciate seeing the disaster (I’m sure they don’t appreciate tripping over shoes, but like I said before, there are approximately 1 million pair, so I’m not sure what to do about them). “My house is messy too,” they almost whisper. “It’s nice to see I’m not alone.”
Physical messes aren’t the only things that isolate people. “I’ve miscarried, too.” “I have depression, too.” People talk to me about the loneliness. They whisper or cry or laugh with me about all these messy parts of life that don’t fit into our plan, that aren’t polite to bring up over dinner.
And I am honored. It is a sacred thing for me…to hold the messy spaces.
So, I’m throwing out simplify.
Instead, I’m embracing real.
I want to be a real place, have a real home, be a real person. I want to be a safe place for other people to be real.
Maybe someday, when I don’t have four little faces and eight little hands to wash, I’ll buy the white paint. Maybe someday, when I don’t need to host a weekly ladies night to keep the darkness away, I’ll spend an evening a week culling miscellany instead. Maybe someday my pantry and closets and bathroom drawers will be organized. Maybe someday that will be my reality. Maybe.
But I think there will always be messes.
And that’s ok.
Because that is my real.
Come on over.
Keep in mind, none of this is meant as a judgement on you. I’m never talking at people, only about myself. If you have the gift of homemaking, or if you work really hard at it, and your house is beautiful, yay! I’m so happy for you! I hope you don’t mind coming over and brushing the crumbs off my kitchen chair before you sit down and have a glass of wine, or two.
Also, can I still use the word “trump” when I write? I’m not sure…
Our Christmas cards are out (finally!) and I realized some of the pictures are a little small and they printed a little dark. So, I’ll photo dump here for any of you who want to see my smiling face a little better…
Let’s be honest: the kids’ faces.
Andy and I make quite a handsome couple, if I do say so myself,
But the kids are like a million times cuter.
First, here’s the design Jess did for the front. She does our Christmas card every year, and this year she (once again!) blew me away. Half is on her card and half is on mine, but I’ll put the pieces together here:
Gosh, isn’t that beautiful? And lovely? And poignant?
What was I thinking, using so many photos? Maybe it’s because I don’t have facebook anymore? I need to share ALL THE PHOTOS! It’s nearly impossible to convey one year in our family in a single card (or photo dump)…But I’m sure gonna try.
Here they come, in no particular order (and some repeats from Instagram), but all thoroughly delightful:
If you made it all the way to the bottom, you must love us very much. And I’ll reiterate what I said in our Christmas card:
“…if you’re ever in need of fellowship or community, we’ll happily invite you over for a cup of coffee… or three. It will be a noisy cup of coffee, but we guarantee you will smile and laugh at least twice a minute. We do.”
Blessed Advent, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from us to you.
Traffic last night looked like this:
Because of this:
Andy’s 20 minute commute took 2 1/2 hours, and we had friends who could have truthfully run home faster than the 4 hours they sat in traffic. Insert eye roll from everyone in the midwest, northeast, heck anywhere but here. But for those of us in the Portland area, even a quarter inch is a big deal.
And school was cancelled, so we enjoyed it! Quite literally.
Mo was very determined to make a snowman,
and even though she maybe had to roll all around the entire backyard, make one she did! It might have been a wee little snowman (woman?) but it was still adorable.
And this is Dom’s I’m cold but saying cheese face. Snow is fun. Until it’s not. Then it’s hot cocoa time!
Throwing this photo in to remind myself that even when I think I’m failing at all our Advent traditions (perhaps we have too many?) there are some that the kids remind me about daily. Singing Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel before supper is one of those traditions. It makes my heart happy every time the kids reminds me to light the candles and sing the song. I take a deep breath, push aside all the pre-Christmas busy, and really just sing, making the words a prayer that I hope echoes in my heart.
Happy Advent from “snowy” Vancouver!
Oh boy… I think that blogging regularly again should be a New Year’s resolution. What do you think? Also, taking more selfies with my adorable niece.
I’ve said it before, that I can tell when depression is creeping back into my life by what I’m creating…or, rather, what I’m not creating. And lookey here: nary a blog post or DSLR photo to speak of recently.
The good thing is, I can recognize it. I can name it. And I can do my best to kick it. HI-YA! While that sounds brave and awesome, what it really consists of is humbling myself to do what I’m really bad at: ask for help.
Here’s the thing: no one wants to be that person. The person that always has something hard and sad and…well, depressing to talk about (like depression). I certainly don’t. I don’t even really want to write about it. That’s probably why I haven’t been writing…
I’d like to walk around pretending there are cartoon birdies flitting about my shoulders while I cook a healthy dinner every night between time spent exercising and supervising my children at their quiet play time.
I couldn’t even finish that sentence without laughing. My life is so incredibly different than that ridiculous imagining, but you know what? That’s because it’s real. And real is ok.
And real means I ask for help. I call people. I ask Andy for a break. I ask forgiveness from my children for yelling at them.
Being real means I let myself cry in the shower without adding the guilty “Why’s?” Why can’t I handle this? Why am I sad? Why can’t I be a good parent/wife/friend/sister? Why is this so hard? Why…I cut the Whys off at the pass and just cry. Because that is ok.
I called my sister, Jess, a week ago. On a good day. Of course. Because it’s almost impossible to ask for help on bad days. But then on good days, I feel so competent and confident that my attempts to explain sound embarrassingly silly, “Hi Jess. I was, um wondering, if, um your offer to come out and stay with me for a couple days was, um still…um..good? Because I’ve been, um…”
Her response came before I could even finish my ask.
And I nearly burst into tears.
This is what happens when I am humble. Swallowing my pride and asking for help gives the Loves in my life an opportunity to be merciful. They jump at the chance to love me, to help me, to be with me. As much as I don’t want to be that person who is always talking about depression, they don’t want me to be that person all alone.
“How about tomorrow? I could stay till Wednesday!” Gah! I’m crying just thinking about her loving response.
We didn’t do anything crazy. We were just together. She helped me parent. Watched some combination of my kids when I did all the school driving. Gave me advice on parenting my
sixteen six year old. Stayed up way too late, discussing all the things and none of the things. (All while minding her own 5 month old, by the way!). She gently held my hand or my baby or my heart or my soul or some combination of those things and was just present. Present to me in a way I desperately needed. Present to me in a healing way.
All I had to do was ask.
I just changed this post from its original title, Recent Miscellany, because it turned into something completely different than a catch up about our latest adventures. This was apparently what needed to be written during my precious nap time writing hour. Miscellany will have to wait till next time…
I will, however, leave you with these adorable photos of Miss Anne and Baby G. Jess and I were conspiring about ways to make them best friends…cousins (who share a middle name and were born 3 months apart) is just not enough 😉
This girl. Give her paper and a pair of scissors and she will go to town.
She doesn’t just create, she produces.
Assembly-line level production over here.
She traces and cuts out anything: pumpkins, hearts, circles and today it’s:
A lot of rectangles.
This is something that I love about Lucia. Her intense focus on a project like this lasts for hours and leaves her cheeks flushed and her eyes bright. Then she gives the fruits of her efforts away to friends and family with a giant smile on her face.
This girl’s heart! Melts mine, for sure.
If you’re planning to send her a Christmas present, please consider a ream of paper and a new pair of scissors.
And a recycling bin.
my feelings right now.
Granted, we did just have a baby. Monica broke her arm. Lucia had a tonsillectomy. Dominic is a two and half year old boy (read: he jumps, climbs, runs, throws and drives everything. All the time). The hot water heater broke. Genevieve’s name was spelled wrong on her birth certificate. Just a veritable litany of life complications.
But the disquiet in my heart runs deeper than what any person in the grocery store can notice as they survey my motley crew, “Wow. You have your hands full!”
I think I’m trying to process the last year of my life. The first of my thirtieth decade. A year that started out amazing, and ended amazingly as well. But also a year that had a lot of hurt and tragedy. Losing Lucas. Almost losing Dominic and coming to grips with the horrible truth that I could lose any of my kids. At any time. Depression during G’s pregnancy. It’s more than this Mama ever thought she could face in such a short time.
It is certainly not the year I envisioned last August, and I am certainly not the same Caitlin today as the Caitlin blowing out 30 candles. The thirty-first candle represents a lot of grief and growth. A lot of anger and tears.
However, all those complicated feelings are not locked in a cage of despair. They’re not stuck at the bottom of a well of self-pity, and they wouldn’t be complicated if they were only bad. That is because of hope. Because of love. Because of mercy. In this Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, I am just now realizing how much mercy was poured into my extraordinarily difficult thirtieth year.
Every tragedy, every hardship was met with love. Lucas’ Memorial. Dominic’s guardian angels. My tribe of female family and friends. People who helped us time and time again with broken things, broken hearts. I can’t stop thinking about the phlebotomist who enveloped me into her arms when I was such a mess. Tears running dow my face. Blood running into her tubes. Both confirming what I knew: that Lucas was gone. And then Lucas, who was gone but somehow not gone, showing me the most intense love I have ever received.
We celebrated Lucas yesterday, on his feast day. We made a little cake. Said a little prayer. And half-way through I was smacked with a different sort of grief. Andy held Genevieve and I understood, with great clarity, that if not for losing Lucas, she would not be here. I’m still recovering from her birth, exactly a year from when I started recovering from his death. That is a completely different layer to grief. How can I mourn a loss that made way for life? Isn’t that the basic question of our faith? Balancing the cross with the empty tomb. Cognitive dissonance at its finest. Complicated to say the least.
I know it’s imaginative, but I like to believe that God gave Lucas a choice. That He spoke to Lucas’ soul and said, you have the power to do an amazing thing if you come with me now. You will break your mother’s heart, but you will save her soul. You won’t be physically present to your family, but you will be able to intercede for them every day. If you lay down your life, there will be more life that can follow. And no greater love is this, than to lay down one’s life for a friend.
And I like to think that he said, Yes Lord. Thy will be done.
A teeny, tiny fiat.
The smallest of fiats.
But, looking at Genevieve, one with perhaps unfathomable results.
I like to think that now, as I contemplate all the redemption and life that came from his loss, he smiles at me and says, Good job Mama. I know you’re still sad, but I knew you’d find the joy. Remember to look for the joy.
I know there is more pain to come. My thirtieth year taught me, in a bone-marrow kind of way, that living and loving comes with death and loss. Hello means goodbye. But thinking about this past year, friends, family, and Genevieve… I also know that joy and love has the ability to triumph.
So this is my prayer right now: in all the complicated feelings of my life, may the peaks of joy carry me over the valleys of sorrow… until I can find the flat, solid ground of peace.
Maybe that will be this year…
We all get to that point. The point where a pregnant lady feels like she might just be pregnant forever. Every twinge and ache brings on a nervous, “Is this it? Should I time that? Why is there a basketball hiding under my shirt!?” Hello due date, and eating ALL THE FEELINGS.
As a service to all those big-baby-belly-mamas out there, I thought I might document all the things we tried this time to get Baby to self-evict, and then the one thing that actually succeeded.
So, none of those things worked. I submit them to you as options, perhaps one of them is the magic eject button for you. Here’s what works for me.
Not just any milkshake.
A milkshake at the Stardust Diner.
Me on July 6th, 2012:
Me on July 7th, 2012.
Me on March 31st, 2014:
Me on April 1st, 2014.
Me on September 20th, 2016:
Me on September 21st, 2016.
Seriously guys (gals?), I’m a scientist. I believe in the scientific method. I believe in repeatable results. And here are my results in triplicate. Have a milkshake at this diner, preferably share it with your existing progeny, and you will have a baby the next day! Science? Magic? Doesn’t matter, it works!
Speaking of having a baby, isn’t she delicious?
And I mean that in only the way a mother can. More along the lines of Eucharist than cannibalism… There is just something so good and pure and holy and tasty about a tiny newborn.
Hope these tips help some of you along. Her story of coming into this world up next!