Monday, January 31, 2011

Landon in the Hospital

Landon was admitted to the hospital today.  Didn't see that coming.  Yesterday, he had a persistent cough.  Today, when he woke up at six, he was really struggling to breathe.  His chest was pinching down on itself in a motion I have since learned is "retractions".  He was breathing fast and shallow, though he had just gotten up.

I drove him to the ER.  We quickly got past the screener.  We quickly got a room, a pulse-ox? detector, and asked a series of questions that would get increasingly more familiar each time someone new would ask them all again.  (Sometimes it felt like we kept getting readmitted to this same hospital)

It is 9:30 pm and he is finally sleeping in the huge metal crib that is kind of a cross between a cage and something you would see in an asylum.  As soon as we walked into this room and I saw it, the day took on a strange quality about it.  Really?  My baby is going to be in that clanging, imposing contraption?  We're really at a hospital now, mama.  I just didn't expect it to feel a bit like a time-traveling moment, too.

  The day dragged on with a series of pokes, and prods, looks and listens, thumping on his chest with a rubber mallet, and blowing vaporized drugs into Landon's face.  It ended with a cocktail of six different drugs administered by syringe that Landon took to like a little bird. 

Did I just say, "the day ended..."?  Who am I kidding?  Landon just awoke.  He will be woken numerous times tonight for more drugs, more vapors, more pounding.  I predict that none of us will get a good night's sleep.  Bill and I will wake up crabby, it will be nostalgic of his infancy, and both will have to extend grace to the other for our prickliness.  Add a crying, screaming, whining, writhing love of our lives whom we hate to see suffer, and all I can say is, I hope they have chocolate muffins on the breakfast menu.

I have one cd in the player my mom brought me from the house.  I have the last song on repeat.  It is Michael Card's beautiful rendition of "The Lord Bless You and Keep You."  An acapella version with overlapping voices.  I love it.  I can hear another child screaming down the hall.  I can see my husband's tired brow as he rocks Landon.  I can see Landon holding onto peace with such a tenuous grasp.

And over and over I hear this:

The Lord bless you and keep you
The Lord make His face shine upon you
And give you peace
And give you peace
And give you peace forever

The Lord be gracious to you
The Lord turn His face toward you
And give you peace
And give you peace
And give you peace forever

I am most grateful that "forever" can start right now.
With the hiss of machines my son is hooked up to,
With our family praying for us,
With a blessing being sung over all of us,

Peace forever.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Can You Pass This Simple Little Test?

I found this elsewhere, but thought it interesting enough to put here.  Without giving too much away, can I suggest you click on the link below and see if you pass?  It leads to some interesting observations either way:


How'd you do?
I don't want to say about me unless a few of you chime in.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


What do you collect?  Oh, and don't say nothing, because everyone collects something, even if it is just awesome memories.  I've never been a fan of collecting anything that takes up too much room.  I noticed as a kid that collections quickly digress into clutter before too long.  (At least on a kid-size budget)  But I still enjoy collecting.

I usually go for list-related items, like a license plate from every state in the country if we're on a road trip.  (Rhode Island is worth pulling over at the next food-exit to celebrate.)  Reading all the Newbery Award winners (gave that one up when the award went weird), or reading a book set in every country of the world.  When I was ten, I started coloring in a map of the United States every time I visited a new state.  Aiprort layovers counted.  Fly-overs did not.  I still have that map somewhere.  

So I've stumbled across the next little random thing I want to collect: blog hits from around the world.  Blogger gives stats about what countries the page visits come from, and in this first month, I have been surprised to see some international places on the list.

Now I know and you know that there is nobody in the Ukraine who went looking for my blog and even read one word of it.  But the stats said that someone, even briefly, stumbled onto my page in the Ukraine.

And I feel ten again, wanting a map to color. What a cheap and easy diversion!  What a silly little pleasure.  It's like virtual stamp-collecting.  Somehow, these international visitors left a digital calling card, and I say if it brightens my day that it is from a country I probably will never get to visit in person, then bravo.  A few of my words crossed the ocean, crossed language and culture and found themselves on a screen in Poland.  Or Germany.  Or Hong Kong.  By mistake.  For a second.

I don't mind.  It makes for a beautifully speckled little map.

Friday, January 28, 2011

No Leaving Without Landon

It was time to go.  And we needed to not be late.  I had work at the other end of the commute. 

But Landon doesn't know when we need to hurry and when he can take his sweet time.  In reality, all of Landon's time is sweet.  A slow, stumbling, exploring kind of time that makes no distinctions for work days.

We got outside the house and Landon just went the other way. Toward the house and the decorative rocks that were much more interesting than loading up into a car.

"Ok, Landon, I'll just load the car first, and then you can meet me," I say.  I pack up his diaper bag, and food bag, and my bag of books going back to the library, and my purse, and my work bag....and I'm finally ready for Landon--who has no intention of walking down the concrete path to the car and getting in.  He's kind of on a "choose your own adventure" and the plot doesn't involve the car.

So I ask him to come. And I call to him.  He just stares at me.  Not moving.  I get in the car.  I roll down the window and say, "I'm leaving.  I need you to come now."  And still he stares.  I start the car. 

I have backed myself into a corner and my son is totally going to call my bluff!  I told him I was leaving and yet here I sit, cajoling him to get a move on and join me for the load up.  In this battle of the wills, I simply can't leave him there to prove that when mama says, "come on," she really means it. 

It is only when I start to roll the car down the driveway that Landon's eyes get big, and he starts hightailing it my way...cutting across the grass to take the fastest route.

I put it in park.  Set the emergency brake.  "Oh?  You're coming?  Great.  Because I really didn't want to leave without you, you know."

Next time, we'll just have to go back to my carrying a kicking, crying, writhing sweet love of my life to the car if we need to.  None of these misguided negotiations where I'm in danger of losing my credibility. 

That look on his face was pretty classic, though!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Smiling Over Silverware

I knew I would stumble across a 2010 book that would make me smile.  (And hopefully you, too, if you read it.)

by Kyo Maclear
 His mom is a spoon and his dad is a fork.  Where does this little spork fit in?

by Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Better yet, read Spoon, a funny book about being grateful for who you are. I love this one.

If I ever create a list of my favorite books that personify inanimate objects, these two would make that list!  I assigned "life" to nearly everything in my world when I was a kid, from the shampoo bottles to my playing cards.  They all had personalities, and back stories, and thoughts and wishes.

So why not eating utensils?  

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Can't All be Something to Write Home About

It is not even 9:00 and I can feel my last scrap of energy circling the drain even as I write this.

I can't be the only one whose job satisfaction sometimes swings on a wild pendulum.  I can't decide what  wears me out more: the hard, bad days or the swinging back and forth itself.

But one less-than-stellar day at work can't even make me this tired.

Maybe it was Landon choking in a restaurant, and as adrenaline shot through me, not a single solitary person even acknowledged our plight.  Not while I was shaking him, hitting his back or pressing on his chest.  Not when he finally dislodged whatever it was that had caused him to stop breathing and eyes to start watering.  Not when the fright of it caused him to cry pretty loudly after he could breathe again. And not when I struggled to balance the tray of our food, and him, back to the pick-up counter so they could box it up to-go.

Really, people?  Nobody has even a nod in my direction with a sympathetic smile?  I teared up a little in the car--which isn't really like me. 

 But watching Landon play in the tub, demonstrate his new-found zipper skills on his pjs, and point out all the nouns he knows in our bedtime story soothed me a bit.  He snuggled into my lap like he knew I could use a hug.

Bill will be back from his class camping trip tomorrow.  And I'll be glad.  Realizing how glad hurts, because I am never too many thoughts away from my friend whose husband died last month.  Bill has only been gone a day.  And already I've used the phrase "circling the drain."  I really must be tired.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bright Spot

Each day brings its own surprises.  Some of my favorite ones come right from the mouths of the guests of the library.  Like tonight.

I'm giving a tour to seven-year-old cub scouts and pointing out some of the ways the library earned a gold award for being energy efficient. I show them the solar tubes, which provide such incredible light during the day that the electric lights dim to compensate.

One little guy raises his hand to add, "I like to think the sun reaches down and gets married in that tube and lights it up.  And when he goes to sleep at night he tells all these light bulbs in here that it's their turn to shine."

I stop to look at him.  The parents chatting stop for a moment in a little bit of surprise, too.  Did I really just hear a seven-year-old personify the sun?

Later, they would all be like little puppies again--jostling for the best spots around our show-stopping book sorting machine.  But for a moment, a little poet raised his voice and asked me to see the world through his own flickering kaleidoscope.

He's got such an interesting view.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Quirks: Little Freckles of Craziness--Beautiful and Unique

I came home at a 9:45 tonight and was relieved that the deadbolt was not locked.
In the past, I have gotten unreasonably frustrated when I was required to unlock both the door and the deadbolt to enter my house.  Alone.  After dark.  I have felt forgotten and hassled in the cold, with a sticky key to contend with.  Regrettably, I have let this seemingly small encounter with a DOOR really dent an otherwise good mood, so that by the time I got past it, I was grouchy and unpleasant. Niiiice.  A woman who can let an extra lock completely derail her. 

But it brings me to the topic of quirks.  One of Bill's happens to be double-locking his front door, day and night.  But we all have them.  And most times, it takes a live-in situation with someone you didn't grow up with to really cast light on them.  Roommates help with this.  Kibbutzes, communes, collectives or cooperatives could do the trick, too.

In our case, marriage brought a whole host of quirks to light for both of us.
Our perception of another's quirks/idiosyncrasies/neurosis follows a pattern that repeats itself.

Since one of my particular quirks is that I'm an incurable list maker, I've included for further illumination:
The Perception of Quirks: in 5 Stages

1.  A curiosity: As in, "Oh, that's so interesting.  I didn't know someone had a way that they prefer to ______ (fill in blank with just about anything)

2. Exasperating: As in "Seriously?!  There are rules about how one must properly store a toothbrush?"

3.  Alternating between plain Annoying and Endearing--as in: Sometimes I finding it annoying that you must have the blankets exactly equidistant on the bed with no wrinkles or untucked parts, (thus sometimes requiring their total removal to correct their chaos) and other times, when I slip between two perfectly smooth sheets with blankets as ready to pull up around my chin as any hotel bed, I find it endearing that your quirk of wanting perfect blankets before you sleep made that small serene moment possible.

4. Accommodation: As in, "Though I don't understand your particular need for spoons specific to the task of eating grapefruit, we will add them to the wedding registry anyway." (They are perfect, btw)

5.  Acceptance: As in, "Whether I find your quirky insistence that I unplug my car charger because you read somewhere, sometime, that it could start a car fire in some cars, (with certain car chargers made in Taiwan between the years of 1999-2001) annoying OR endearing: I accept it. 

I accept your quirks without having to argue about just how quirky they are.

I accept your quirks because I know you have to contend with a whole host of mine....along with my unspoken assumption that my way was so perfectly reasonable-- how could anyone do it otherwise?
And we both have learned, countless times, that there was an "otherwise" way to do it: unimagined before we met the other.  A thousand little things we never realized, or really ever thought about, that could be done another way.

You could slice cheese or prefer it in chunky wedges with a knife.
You could be a receipt tosser or hold onto them with an urgency that suggests they have winning lottery numbers on them.
You could stick the soup-stirring spoon on the counter or you could assign it a sacred spot on the spoon trivet.
You could think toenail trimming is kind of an anyplace home activity or you could fervently believe it should be done in private only.
You could close up your dry goods with little protection from the elements or you could use binder clips of various sizes to maximize the shelf life of all your food.

Or you could do something else altogether. 

But chances are, if you live with someone, they are working toward a peaceful acceptance of the beautifully quirky you, and you're moving toward that end with them.

Lucky for me, I've always been a sucker for a good quirk.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I am DAZZLED by this free online photo editor!

You just never know what gem the internet is going to offer up for the polishing.  So much nothing is on there, that I usually don't bother digging around at all.  (That or my computer runs so slowly that my patience runs out before a page completely loads)

My short-attention span troubles aside, I found a link to this free online photo editor with a youtube video to explain how to get started and wah-lah!

I'm officially using layers!  And obvious captions.

Well, it's a start.

Friday, January 21, 2011

My Brush With Fame

She came in wearing a Belle costume.  Shimmery yellow, floor-length dress, puffy sleeves and a plastic brooch of Belle in the middle in case there was any doubt. 

"Belle!" I exclaimed, louder than you would expect in a library.  "I had no idea I would see you here today.  Do you mind giving me an autograph?!"  I ran over with my post-it note pad and a pen.

She looked up at her mom with question-mark eyebrows, and her mom said yes, she could give her autograph.  And while she awkwardly clutched the little pad and pen I saw her trying not to smile as she etched out "lily"*.  

I thanked her profusely, asked her to call on me if she needed help finding any of her books, and can I just say one more time that  I was so pleased and delighted to actually meet her? 

As she walked away I saw the smile she was holding back come popping out all over her face, and jeans peeking out from under her dress.

I turned back to my desk to find my boss standing behind me; she had seen the whole thing.  "You are a crazy nut," she said, "But the smile on that kid's face is priceless."

I had to agree.

*name changed

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Simple Gifts

I have always loved every rendition of that Shaker tune, Simple Gifts.  When I heard a new one the other night on our Brown Family Adventure, I loved it, too.

Because we really are easily pleased.  Each one of us--Bill, Landon and I, can find such happiness in the simplest of things.

Bill: plans the adventure to include a bookstore he still has a gift card to.  We take 10-minute turns taking exclusive care of Landon so the other can relish the books, not just watchfully protect them.

Jodi: particularly enamored with the mini spoon that was in the hot chili sauce at the restaurant we had a gift card to. It allowed me to save a lot of face because it was the perfect size for Landon and I had forgotten any utensils for him. 

Landon: cannot contain his growing anticipation of our turn through the carwash.  He sits silently mesmerized through every fascinating cycle and then babbles about it intensely for the next few miles.

Bill: comes home to work (and rework) a poem--and I can tell he is having fun returning to a pastime he usually doesn't have time for.

Jodi: wishes we could record Landon "singing" in the backseat of the car.  The Jewel lullaby cd I got from the library really caught his imagination, and melted his mama's heart.

Landon: got home later than we anticipated, and had to go straight to bed, with no story.  Not before cracking himself (and me) up with antics with his blanket and singing his encore edition of all his favorite songs to no one in particular.

 So that's our big night on the town: a carwash, Chinese food, and a trip to the bookstore.  Followed by poems and baby songs and the hope that we will always be so easily, simply pleased.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

An Author Worth Reading

Less than a month ago our friend lost her husband abruptly, unexpectedly.  A mom with two sweet little boys.  A wife who adored her husband and had recently celebrated an unforgettable tenth anniversary.  But she is also a writer, and has taken everyone who knows her near the heart of her grief with her words.  With facebook and a blog and by speaking at his funeral, she has expressed herself so beautifully and powerfully.  We mourn with her.  With her and for her and beside her, with no answers, only love.  She continues to write.  The number of people following her blog and facebook page continues to grow.  It's a journey of epic proportions, and to get to follow any part of it at all is a sacred honor. 

I'm entirely new to blogging, and just trying to find my way.  Tricia is an old pro, doing what she does best, and doing it with a brave transparency that you can't miss.  She has already touched so many people; I invite you to let her story speak to you, as well.

Her post titled "Final Hours"

Working-girl Moccasins

Some days, I'm good at what I do.  At least, each month when I receive another paycheck I allow myself to conclude this.  And there is professional respect to be gained by what I do.  Things like the director  asking me to stand at a large staff meeting and share how I handled a particular customer interaction.    A reporter for a national publication coming to one of my events for his article research.  A note left on my desk by my immediate manager with words of kindest praise and appreciation.  And of course the patrons...who give me thanks, respect and even little notes to say that they were grateful we could work together.

With all this wonderful affirmation, and even confirmation that I AM good at what I do, I still feel a wheel of discontent that turns inside me daily.  Sometimes so squeaky and loud, it is quite distracting.  Other times, frantic and rapid, and I get anxious and restless.  And sometimes with a slow and heavy ache that I cannot shake or rationalize away.

I work at a place that attracts over 100 applications for nearly every position it hires for.  My own job had 150 applicants.  You would think that by beating out that kind of competition I would be nothing but grateful.  Nothing but pleased and delighted to be handed the keys of the kingdom and to have been told, "This is your world.  You are in charge." of a children's section much larger than most libraries I have worked at or visited.  My library is on the rise, in national papers, winning national awards, and led by a woman who just won a state Librarian of the Year.  It is a happening place to be.  You would think.

There is another job that no one but me was clamoring for.  It didn't come with awards, or recognition, and my constituents certainly aren't in the habit of writing thank you notes or writing about the work in any paper.  The title isn't fancy, and I didn't get gorgeous new business cards when I started, but I was proud and thrilled (and nervous and excited) all the same: Landon's mom.

I am Landon's mom.  When he was 13 months old, I took on another job.  An amazing, not-to-be-missed, shoot-for-the-stars opportunity with tons of responsibility, creative license, and room for professional growth.  I went through two interviews totaling three hours and was offered the next step up in my career.  I felt like I had been tested and tried and found worthy. 

I have watched dear friends shed tears about the question of who are they outside of mother and homemaker.  I've read blogs of women who long for something more--more than the full time task of mothering their children.  I've watched them struggle with the boredom, monotony and every day tediousness that can come with raising small children.  I hear the sound of that same squeaky wheel in them, that I constantly contend with in me.  

Most times I can remember that no one can truly know another's path until they've walked a mile in her moccasins.  But sometimes I am frustrated and jealous and thinking that for all their angst, these women wouldn't really want to trade places with me if they could.

Let me say a few things about how it feels to wear these working-girl moccasins:

I've painfully wondered if my dearest baby knew who his mommy was.   My heart cracked when I heard that my little one cried to leave his childcare provider--bitter, wrenching cries to be apart from HER, not me.  Sometimes I feel like a fringe member in my child's life, coming in at inopportune moments of early morning crabbiness, or end of day grouchiness.  I juggle the guilt of needing a few minutes to decompress after a long workday, with the knowledge that there is only 60 minutes left before my buggy's bedtime.  I have let my growing toddler stay up past his bedtime because I miss him so much and just want to have one more story, one more snuggle.  And once, I went into his room on the pretense of "checking" on him, but did it in such a way that he woke up.  I missed my baby so much I woke him up in the middle of the night just to be with him.  When he cried to be put back in his crib, I felt the pang of being such a selfish mom.  

If you are a mom who has figured out how to make staying at home work for your family, here is the note I'd leave on your desk: You have been tested, tried and found worthy.  You hold the keys to your children's hearts, you are their world, you are in charge.  You have an amazing, not-to-be-missed, shoot-for-the-stars opportunity with tons of responsibility, creative license, and room for personal growth.  You ARE more, and you offer so much more than you know.  And though I don't know what you may have given up, set aside, put on hold, or said goodbye forever to, I do know that I admire and respect everything you've taken up, put first, not left waiting, and said hello to.  While we might look across the fence at each other's greener pastures, I just wanted to let you know that when you look my way, what may look "greener" is probably just astro turf I've laid out for moments of comparison.  You, my sweet sister, are making real wishes come true with the dandelion fluff that grows in your grass --grass I hope you see as green, so very green.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

On a Mission

Who knew I have such hopeful expectation each time I open a new picture book?  I'm currently working on a list of the best and brightest of 2010/early 2011 for a library event, so I'll go through an enormous amount of books to find those "best".  A lot of good, and better.  All for the elusive, and oh-so-satisfying best.  Crabby Pants, my friends, was not among them.  The ending was a letdown.  Deflation.  A cat who almost, but not quite, learns something meaningful about choosing one's attitude and not letting external circumstances dictate what that attitude is going to be.  Instead, the last illustration shows this poor cat back in timeout because he cut up all his family members' pants into shorts to eliminate "crabby pants." 

Don't get my wrong, I don't think that every child's books should teach some lofty lesson.  Pure whimsy, fun and silly are welcome, too.  (Although those books often reveal how important it is to indulge in pure whimsy fun and silly)  But this book was not that kind of magic, either.

I DID so want my first post about a children's book to be a glowing recommendation of something so excellent that I thought all of you should, no must read it.

But I still have a lot of good and better (and maybe just plain bad) to slog through before we get to best.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Hop Off Your High Pony

I won't deny it, there was a time in my life that I rode around on a very high horse.  A lofty, noble steed that kept me believing that I could shape my destiny any way I chose.  While I may have had a lot to offer back then, grace wasn't in the top ten.  It's painful to fall from a high horse.  Thankfully, my fall left me too bruised to have the strength to get back on, and later I had no desire to.

When you've spent some time in the mud, you're not so uptight about a little dirt now and then.

I got a speeding ticket on the freeway today.  Not because I was late and rushing (a more probable reason) but because I was listening to an audio book about a girl who was deported to Siberia during World War II and was utterly transported.  I just got swept up in the narration and apparently my foot got swept away, too.
I must have been having a hard time returning to 2011 urban commute because when the officer asked me what I thought the speed limit was I said, "Sixty?"  Sixty?!  Where and when has that ever been a highway speed limit?  55, 65, 75...those are pretty much the signs I've been passing my whole driving life, what about you?
So I got my golden ticket, but it was for 155 dollars and not a tour of an exclusive chocolate factory and I decided I better 'fess up and tell Bill earlier than later so it wouldn't dent our evening when I got home from work.  He tells me, "Well, I wasn't going to tell you this yet, but I did something pretty foolish today, too.  I found the cordless out of it's cradle AGAIN, and I got so annoyed that I threw it across the room.  It broke."  If you knew my husband you would know what an anomalous, hard-to-picture moment that was for me.  At first I wanted to admonish him: Really?  Did Landon see it? (ok, actually I did say that at first)
Whoa, missy-- you better hop down off your high pony and acknowledge you have the bigger error in judgment to overlook here.  The dramatic demise of our cheap cordless which was already on the fritz or $155 leading to higher insurance premiums for the next seven YEARS.... 

I really need to sell that pony.  I'm thinking I'd take $150 for it...give or take a new cordless phone.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Lone Ranger or my Best Sidekick

I think my child is starting to act like an only child.  This shouldn't be an enormous surprise, seeing as he IS one, but I don't often get to observe him in settings that show that side of him.  Take today: we enjoy a gathering of friends and kids at our friend's house ranging from 14 months to 8.  They all ran around in a huge pack, playing and parallel-playing with each other.  Landon wanted to sit on my lap and listen to the ladies around the kitchen table.  When he did go play, he got very anxious if anyone even curiously approached him to see what he was up to.  He acted like at any moment they were going to snatch his toy away and would look over at me for justice.

So if his integration skills are still in development, he has completely mastered the art of endearing himself to me.  He loves helping, and as I've mentioned, his help slows us down and often creates more work, but I still love having him do it.  I love having him hand me dishes from the dishwasher, or stand on his chair and load the washer one article of clothing at a time, or put things away(ish) with an eagerness that warms my heart.

Until he frightens me when he pulls up his chair to the kitchen counter and figures out how to climb on top of it and is heading straight for the knife block.  Or he wants to play with the water longer and thrashes around so violently when his time at the sink is done that sometimes I worry that his head is going to connect with my teeth one of these days to the sad, sad, regret of us both. 

"Jode, is there a reason your slippers are in the hamper?"
"Oh, that was just Landon.  I asked him to put them in the closet."
"Same with these black shoes?  Was that Landon, too?"

Who else can make creating chaos so dang cute?

Insomnia Isn't Always Futile

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common -- this is my symphony.                         ~William Henry Channing

Monday, January 10, 2011

Looking Toward Spring

Earlier last year we had  made the beginnings of plans for a vacation to Maryland.  Bill's uncle had a guest house, and promised to show us the best of Washington DC.  We began dreaming of museums and monuments and cherry blossoms in the Spring.

A large dose of reality splashed us, and we decided that this Spring would probably not be the ideal time to be spending over a thousand on a vacation.  So maybe you can relate to my angst when Bill casually mentioned in his brainstorming kind of way that maybe I would like to take some Vacation Time during his Spring Break so we could organize our office.  (Office used loosely to describe the space the computer and bookshelves occupy in our bedroom)  And hey, maybe it would be a good idea to go through the garage while we're at it.

I know we're going frugal and all, but it seemed an awfully dismal metamorphis from "Adventure in an iconic, fascinating place of historical importance" to "organize some random stacks of paperwork"--almost like the butterfly turning back to a larvae as far as attractive ideas go.

I haven't given up hope for the cherry blossoms, though.  I think I hear the Denver Botannical Gardens beckoning us for a Springtime "vacation."  Right after I search my newly organized office for the calendar that shows us their free admission days...

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Blessed are the Bloggers

Blessed are the Bloggers, for theirs is the Kingdom of Connection.
It's a large kingdom, to be sure.  A world previously unexplored by me where countless people are writing and emoting and sharing and joking and  illuminating and confessing and connecting.
Oh, and there are queens here.  Women whose wit and whimsy are altogether inspiring on so many levels, and daunting on others.  Daunting because even as I enjoy reading every post I think, "I could never be so funny, so interesting, so worth anyone's time."

Which leads me to ponder the whole blogging thing again.   We all come at this for different reasons and with different inspiration.  I wonder why I would dare or bother to add even one pixel, one byte, one little bit to this vast, digital online world.  For whose benefit or pleasure?  For what purpose beyond listening to myself type?  Is it worth the effort and time on my part?  Will what gets posted ever be read by anyone else?  And if it does, will it be worth the effort and time on their part?

I'm not sure I have solid answers to those questions, but a poem by Walt Whitman has been in my mind ever since I first considered starting a blog.  I studied it in high school and though mysterious that I should think of it all these years later, seems to be a perfect picture of our virtual worlds and what we may try to accomplish here:

   A noiseless, patient spider            
   I mark'd, where, on a little promontory, it stood, isolated;
   Mark'd how, to explore the vacant, vast surrounding,
   It launch'd forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself;
   Ever unreeling them-- ever tirelessly speeding them.

   And you, O my Soul, where you stand,
   Surrounded, surrounded, in measureless oceans of space,
   Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing--seeking spheres, to connect them;
   Till the bridge you will need, be form'd--till the ductile anchor hold;
   Till the gossamer thread you fling, catch somewhere, O my Soul.

So I join the ranks of those who are "ceaselessly musing".  I may not be royalty in the land, in fact, I'm really more like an unobserved little spider.  Building a bridge, to where or to whom, I'm uncertain.  Only confident that it will catch somewhere, O my Soul.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

He makes more work for me, but he lightens my load

A good cook always checks in on his product

He would blend anything all day if he could
I don't like to be the only one working in my house.  Immature, yes, but so it is.  I have begun to realize that having Landon is a perfect solution to that dilemma, because he loves to help out in any which way he can.  Even if his helping is creating more work.  And because I find this completely endearing, it makes my work seem more like a joy to see how a 20-month-old is going to tackle the job. 

Before he helped with dinner, I had to clean the bathrooms.  Landon at the ready with paper towels and his own spray bottle of water to help!  He wipes whenever I wipe; he climbs up on the counter and plays in the water in the sink.  He watches me attentively with the mirror, and just being with him makes the whole thing rewarding. 

So I'm content and busy and feeling that self-satisfied glow of taking on this onerous task that I usually hate.

And Landon is content and busy and...using that little white thing that covers the screw on the toilet floor as a little cup and drinking from it.  Gross. Gross. Gross.  I say it emphatically, and he tries to repeat it with my same growing insistence. 

Ok, so maybe our colabor arrangements need some perfecting.

The Book I'll Wait My Whole Life to Read

In this millisecond-short life we live, something sad or senseless, or tragic happens and we ask God, Why? I think it is like interrupting Him mid-sentence. I imagine getting to heaven and seeing the entire piece God was composing: the prologue, the intro, ALL the chapters, and the Epilogue. On that day, without needing any help in literary analysis, I imagine each one of us will be able to say, "God, you wrote a very good story. It satisfies my heart.  And the ending?  Awesome." Our hearts break in this chapter nonetheless.

For us, "this chapter" means three deaths and two funerals in three weeks.  It means saying goodbye to our unborn baby, good-bye to a friend made recently and a friend known since childhood.  It means standing beside those left behind, and hoping that when all words fail, our love can form a little cast into which the pieces of their shattered hearts can rest while they heal back together.

And it means there are all the more reasons to eagerly await  seeing God's author signature in the Book of Life.  The story of our lives, and their lives. The lives of everyone we've ever lost and who went before.  I mean, I know the names are listed in the front and all, but couldn't the whole, life-restoring, joy-amazing, neverending story be told in the pages that follow?

The Bible is His bestseller here.  I like to think that He has His bestseller for Heaven, too. The one in which we'll get to see and understand the whole story.  Then "why" won't be a question we even think to ask. 

Bottle of Grief

     You may not personally relate to the experience of a miscarriage. Even if you don't, I hope this glimpse into the experience of mine will resonate with you on some level. We know loss, pain, and the sorrows we share are part of the human condition. CS Lewis said, "We read to know we are not alone." I have lately become convinced that we often write for the very same reason.

“I’m not seeing a heartbeat.”
She scans across my belly, but my eyes are fixed on this little mass on the screen, not moving, not pulsing, just not. She swipes her wand one more time quickly, and then takes it off and begins wiping gel off it. Matter-of-factly. Not looking at me. I sit up and stare at the black ultrasound screen, and start to cry, but it’s a shaky, stuttery cry, because I’m trying to ask her if there could be some kind of mistake. Even as I croak this out, choking back these weird silent cries that I’m working hard to keep from escalating, I know that there is no mistake. I saw the screen. She doesn’t have to say anything, but she looks over at me with a moment of “you poor thing”. I feel her unease almost palpably, like she’s dreading a scene, but knows she cannot ask me not to make one if that’s where this is going. “You’re at 12 weeks, right?” she asks, as if responding to this question requiring me to engage my brain will help me get a grip. “um, yeah, 12 weeks,” What does this have to do with anything? “Well, the fetus is measuring about ten.” The fetus?? When did my baby get downgraded to “fetus”? I don’t say anything because I’m still trying to suppress my own wish to curl up like a little fetus on that stupid tissue paper liner on the table and really cry. “I’ll go get the doctor.” and she whisks out. Not without handing me a single tissue, which at first I thought was because I was crying, but then realized she was gesturing to my gel-covered stomach.

     And I look over at Landon. Landon who did NOT want to have to spend another moment strapped into his stroller. Landon who I indulged and let sit up on this high swivel chair next to the table near me. Landon watching me and not making a peep, and I take a couple of little gasps to pull myself together and give him my best representation of a smile and talk to him and hold his hand and steady him from trying to climb into my lap.

     Minutes tick by, stretching longer as they do whenever you are left in any state of undress in a doctor’s office. The doctor comes in and she is composed and kind, and maybe she’s a mom, and maybe she’s someone’s sister, but most definitely she has been in this exact situation before, because her lines have a well-rehearsed quality about them. It doesn’t really matter what she is saying, exactly, because I’m only getting a fraction of it, as the rest of my brain doesn’t work at all. I catch that she’s presenting options and quickly follows it up with, “Call me Monday,” and I just want to get home. Because that lying down option and really crying still seems like the one I most want to take.

But there’s a diaper to change in another office. And Landon still doesn’t want to be strapped into that stroller. There’s an elevator to ride in the parking garage. A toddler to strap into a carseat who is developing new back-arching techniques to avoid being buckled in. And then I can’t get the stroller to fold up to put away. I don’t remember it being so difficult before. I end up cramming it in whole into the back of my little trunk, with odd gratitude that it is just the cheapo little umbrella one instead of our nice big Graco one that Bill calls the Cadillac. Would I have pitched the Cadillac over the side of the parking garage wall in misplaced frustration? I didn’t have to find out.

     Dearest Landon goes down for a nap without a fuss. I get into my own bed and hope I don’t have to stir from it for hours and hours.

    How do you say goodbye to the baby you never met? The anticipation of a Polaroid developing before my eyes of a picture of our little family of four changes to such keen disappointment as the picture comes clear and there is an empty space where I thought a new person would be. These months I have been pregnant, it has been like I was holding onto that picture. Telling people “the news” was like waving it around to hasten its development: “Come huddle over this picture with us. It’s going to be a beauty when we see it. Ok, it will take awhile, but it’s going to be a beauty.” As a child, I always loved that moment, that tiny of slice of time when the picture finally came into focus. But this time I found myself looking at a picture of a little mass that was not moving, not pulsing, just not.

     Six days later, upon news of our friend’s abrupt and unexpected death, my focus would turn elsewhere. A tsunami of sadness for his wife and the two little boys he left behind would wash over us, leaving us dazed, changing our perspective. And before I think I had said a proper goodbye, I would realize that the little picture had washed out to sea with the riptide of a larger sorrow.

     God can carry our grief. He understands loss larger than any ocean. I like to think he carries my own little drop in the ocean of human suffering. He knows it’s there. A little bottle floating along, with a picture that didn’t turn out the way we’d hoped, and the promise of a future where why is not the relevant question. I can stand at this ocean’s edge and turn away in peace. For all of time, people have suffered—just as the tide rolls endlessly in. And yet, at times there is something quite soothing about the sound of the waves. It’s like the steady comfort of knowing that He can hold every grief, every broken dream, every tear, every last single drop I’ve ever cried or ever will. Not just mine, but the ocean’s worth that will pound our shores til we get in the boat and sail away Home.