Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Looking Back

A note comes along that evokes memories twenty years old and to my surprise, they are wrapped in sentiment.  Crinkly, and a bit fragile.  Don't overthink these, I say to myself, or they will crumble away and you'll wonder what the fuss was about.  But glance briefly into this past chapter of your life, and you'll find a smile.

In that chapter that was the transition between the little girl I was and the grown woman I would become,  I see that it was a season of the brightest possibilities, the purest friendships, the sharpest lines.  Nothing was known, and I was certain of everything.  Alternately, I second-guessed my every move while throwing myself into irrevocable trajectories.  The future stretched ahead long and promising, the past a rosy glow, the present a fleeting gift held tenderly in my heart.  I didn't want to grow old while I intensely wanted to grow up.  Anything seemed probable, possible, eventual.  My world was not defined by past choices; it was an open delta with a thousand paths, leading to any sea.

I love that bright-eyed, shiny-hearted, zealous girl-woman.  She is a girl who would not recognize, understand, or maybe even approve of the woman she became.

But this is ok.

How could she have known that cracks can be cherished, that a broken heart grows larger, that being thrown from her high horse would allow her to take her first shaky steps toward grace?

My friend put it well saying, "I find God can take idealism and forge a stronger alloy with mercy and compassion."

I may not be as bright and shiny as I was twenty years ago.  That girl might even call me a bit tarnished. (Yeah, she leaned toward negative labels like that.)  But I'm defining myself as an alloy: a mix of idealism, mercy, compassion, and a few of the broken bits that have gotten left behind along the way.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Front of the Line

Most extroverts love a good party.  They get their mingle on and meet new people and hear new jokes and tell new stories and eventually, make new friends.  They go home happy and filled up with an invigorating anticipation of meeting up with the most interesting of the new, the most favorite of the old, again.

But if you're an introvert, a good party might not hold as much promise.  

As an introvert, I have rediscovered my version of a great party: a new library.

I've recently been hired as a substitute librarian for a large library district and tonight went out to one of their smaller, more remote branches.  This collection doesn't get shipped out to fill any other requests.  In other words, all the newest, hottest titles stay on the shelves until someone local takes them home.

Book buyers who always just buy what they're craving when they want it won't understand, but in library world, patrons usually queue up for the newest, latest titles from the famous, well-loved authors.  So to walk in and see books with waitlists well over a hundred--well now, this was a great party.

Hobnobbing with the hot titles.  Mingling with the nominees.  Everybody dressed up in their finest, covers still shiny, pages still crisp.  They gave me a tour and my eyes kept bugging out as I saw title after title that would ordinarily be a "get in line because you and everyone else wants to read it."

I felt like I had finally made friends with the bouncer and cut in line at a club where all the best people were.

"Can I really take this one home?"

Of course.  Why not?

"Is this one meant for display?"

No, take it.

"I hope I don't seem too greedy."

No.  We love it.  Gets our numbers up!  Check out as many as you want.

So I did.  Almost three bags' worth.
And tonight, in pure introvert fashion, I can't wait to get my read on, meet new people, hear new jokes, hear new stories and eventually, make new friends.

Monday, October 14, 2013

I Skipped Step 11

Do you ever have a moment that you think would be perfect for a hidden camera?

The other day, when butternut squash soup went splattering all over the place in my kitchen (borrowed a blender when my food processor broke) I had to pretend it was for a film crew.  What else?  I wasn't so amused; surely somebody should get to be.

But that's just a moment.  A big, messy, dramatic moment.

What about when your whole day starts to feel like you are in some kind of classroom where the instructor uses your story to explain Murphy's Law? Can't you just see the PowerPoint?  Exhibit A: see how the tall, full glass gets spilled at the table while the Sippy Cup will stand the ages...Murphy would have appreciated that.

So here is our day that professors of Murphy's law wish they had photo documentation of:

It is the day of The Wedding.  Our dear friend is getting married one hour and eight minutes away (by Mapquest's estimation) and we are going.

We have nothing planned but to get ourselves out the door two hours before the start time.

That was our one and only plan.  We are doing nothing else that does not support that plan, people!  Stick to the plan.  The wedding is today.  Today is the day.  Let's stay focused and stick with the plan.  (I start to sound like the wedding planner, instead of a guest, but I can't let my guard down.)

At 9am I mapquest the destination and write down all the directions, including all the "if you get here, you went too far" little tips.

We lay out outfits (some of which we bought and washed and dried the night before) and get ready for showers.

The power goes out.  Welcome, Murphy.
Ok, ok, so you can drive to your dad's house to iron your pants.  How are we going to reheat leftovers for lunch?  I've already taken a shower, so I guess I'll just style my hair in some slicked-back bun concoction that will attempt to look stylish since I can't use my hairdryer to style it properly.

While I'm still getting ready, Bill calls to tell me: our sitter has gotten a flat tire en route.  Does he change it or let her wait for her roadside assistance plan to send someone?  Change it.  Change it.  They could take forever.  Landon can have some dried apricots to tide him over.  (Unknown to me he ate nearly the whole bag)

Bill comes home.  Our sitter arrives.  We gather ourselves and our wits and are only 15 minutes behind schedule, but this is ok, because we are 1 hour, 45 minutes from Wedding and only 1 hour, 8 minutes from destination.

See how that should have worked out just fine?

But we've skipped lunch and have grown hungrier than I think will be tolerable.  (I rue this thought)  Let's just pull over and get a quick snack.  So Bill runs into Vitamin Cottage and buys food we feel too paranoid to eat and roll with so we take another 15 minutes to eat and drink and settle our grumbling tummies. I'm so paranoid about Landon spilling on his new sweater, in fact, that I have him take it off and eat shirtless.  Chocolate milk gets all over his face; crumbs spill all over his front.  It doesn't matter that we are not rolling.  This is how my four-year-old eats, and I should have remembered that.

Let's move on down the road.  We are now 30 minutes away with only 45 minutes to get there.

I read my carefully copied directions and we follow them perfectly.  We read each road sign to each other so we won't miss a turn.  And we get hopelessly, terribly lost.  Out on country roads with little to nothing in between.  We are so close, and ridiculously far at the same time.

As panic starts to circle in for a landing in our car, I start jabbing at Bill's smart phone that often makes me feel like a fat-fingered moron, and this time is no exception.  I can't get mapquest to actually search for the address I entered.

I call my sister for help.  As we get farther out toward Kansas she says, "Turn right at"

"Turn right where?!  What? Where?" I plead with dead silence.

She calls back.  She tries talking faster.  The smart phone wises up and cuts us off sooner.

Finally, like an air traffic controller landing a disabled plane, she guides us in with urgent precision, rattling off directions and crossroads without waiting for reply.

Bill drops Landon and I off at the door to go park the car in the totally full lot.  And now Landon has to "go".  Poor kid, the apricots are catching up with him and will not be ignored.  There's just no rushing some things, I'm afraid.

So finally, and at long last, after making it our only mission to get to this wedding, we slip in the back 11 minutes late looking for that last-row pew to settle into.  It is not to be.  The guests are all seated at round tables that will double for dinner reception seats.

But we saw the wedding.  The songs. The candles.  The radiant bride, the handsome groom.  It was beautiful and sacred.  Landon sat as attentive as I've ever seen him.  I settled down and enjoyed the moment.

Of course, I mislaid my glasses at the reception and had to go back and fake-casual search while Bill found them in the car and hoped our cell phones would work one last time to bring me back. But that's not really a Murphy thing.  That's kinda par for the Jodi course.

Our names are in the Guest Book.  And I was gratified to see that they were not even the last.  Had the pen run out of ink right as we went to sign I would have said Murphy got the last word.

PS: The confession is in the title.  I skipped step 11 when I wrote the directions.  When I told Bill today he said, "I wasn't going to say anything, but I was pretty sure that was what must have happened."

Dear beautiful, sparkly-eyed bride, may you live with a love that does not call you out on your mistakes at unproductive times, is not quick to blame, and just keeps driving til you get where you need to go.  Even when Murphy rides your coat tails all the way there.  

Monday, September 23, 2013

Choose Your Own Adventure Parenting

Wouldn't it be nice if parenting approaches could occasionally be chosen like choose-your-own adventure novels:

If you are going to "drop the hammer" and issue a consequence, turn to page 8.

If you are going to overlook this mistake and use humor to diffuse the situation, turn to page 12.

Just like I did with choose-your-own adventure books, I'd want to read up on each outcome before committing, to see which one I liked better.

Page 8 might say, "Bravo! Your child learned the seriousness of the situation and was spared greater harm later." But if it said, "Nice going, control freak!  Your heavy-handed approach alienated your child and constructed walls that your little hammer is no match for now." I would go straight to page 12 that says, "While surprised and grateful you didn't "lose" it, your kid knows you mean business and won't be going that way again. Win-win. Well done."

But in parenting, we're not reading the story.  We're writing it.

That's not even right.  It's more like we are dictating it stream-of-consciousness into a mini recorder for someone (a therapist in twenty years?) to have to sort out.

If I submitted our parenting narrative to an editor they would have to wonder, "What were you trying to do with the mom character here?"

Here she's laughing about his random use of the word poopie butt, and over here she's doling out consequences for his refusal to leave potty talk in the bathroom.

In this chapter she lets him leave her home with pants on backwards, in a too-small shirt and sandals with black socks blithely saying, "Pick your battles," but over in this chapter she's making her whole family late for church by insisting that he change into something nicer.

In this part she seems perfectly content to let him pour his own breakfast milk and cereal, but several pages on seems to find it intolerable that ice would fall all over the floor when he attempts to use the external fridge dispenser to put ice in a water bottle.

Here is the letter I would receive after they read a manuscript that covers even a month of my parenting story:

Dear Ms. Brown,

Thank you for submitting your novel, Where's the Mom? for consideration.  We are unable to publish it because we feel that the mom character is not believable enough.  She seems more like an amalgamation of many moms you may have known, instead of one person with a consistent outlook and predictable response pattern.  How will your readers learn to love her if they can't ever be certain which direction her character is going?

How, indeed?

Back to why I think my parenting narrative would only work for a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure novel.  And even then, a lot of the outcomes may be less than satisfying.

I guess the word I'm going to hang my hat on is "Adventure" and enjoy it for what it is: a real, true, messy, beautiful, mixed-up, wonderful life.  That I get to choose.  My own parenting adventure that I'm making up as I go along.

If you agree, turn to page nine.

Just kidding.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

The First Scoop is Nothing

"Begin writing about nothing," she said, "and see where it goes.  Don't wait until you have something very specific to write about."

Sage advice for the girl whose blog is called "Along this Beautiful Path," don't you think?  I mean, don't paths meander?  Aren't the rambly ones with unexpected twists and turns the most fun to explore?

And just the freedom to not be profound is like opening the bulk bin at a whole foods store and being told to scoop away with no heed to the fact that the item is $18.97 a pound.  Go for it.  Who cares if you scoop up dry little mullety seeds that you'd only want to serve to the birds?  Just scoop away!

So write about nothing.  And if you get a bunch of random words that don't stick together into something cohesive....well, maybe they can be scattered along the path like seeds to help me find my way back to more meaningful trails.

And so I look in my raw materials bin tonight....and it's a crazy trail mix of things I could write about:

Do I dare scoop up the story of how my nipple was squeezed by a near stranger today to find out if I was nursing?

My latest Kindle read is begging to be given some good press.

And speaking of Kindles, am I convert?  A seeker?  A fence-straddling pragmatist?  Kindle has changed my life and I really didn't see that coming. I'd so love to hear from others on that topic!

Then my newest theory of housework has been percolating and I think if I tried to defend it, I'd be able to see if it is valid: it is actually harder to keep a home if you are a stay-at-home mom, not (as I originally imagined) easier.  And when I say "keep" I mean keep clean, keep organized, maintained, and even at times, happy.  My perceptions and reality have had a head-on collision since I came home fulltime with my second born, and we're all still filing our grievances before we settle up.

And what about the beauty of a friendship that can pick up effortlessly after being timezones apart for eight years?  (I do so love you, Shawna!)  How does one even stay properly grateful for treasure like that?

And what about the beauty of a friendship that will never fade no matter how far apart for how long we are? (I do so love you, Beth!)

And what about the beauty of one that gave me a never-to-be forgotten experience that only could happen because you said yes to something that asked you to be bigger, braver and more flexible than most of us want to be? (I do so love you, Ali!)

And who gave me permission to scoop into my empty head in the first place to sift around and find gratitude there?  (I do so love you, Laurel!)

It may be next to nothing to anyone else.  But to me, I'm pretty happy to be snacking on gratitude and good memories.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The World According to Landon

In an exceptionally curious mood, Landon was asking about everything he could see out his window on the way home.

Since I was a passenger, too, I had more attention to give, more details I could provide.  

Horses spotted: "How big can horses get?"

"Different sizes.  It depends on the breed.  Draft horses, for example, are really big."

"Oh, WOW!  Where do those live?  In Africa?"

I am completely confused about what is so exciting about draft horses, and why he randomly guesses their home to be Africa.

"No, they live here, buddy.  In the United States."

"I've never seen a giraffe-horse before.  Do you think some day we could go see them?"

What?!   Ahhh, DRAFT horses, not giraffe horses.

Yeah, your idea was cooler.


Landon poked his head into the laundry room and said,

"Do you know what concerns me about this room?"

Did my four year old really just ask me that?!

"No, what concerns you?"

"That pipe.  I'm really wondering what it is, where it goes, and stuff."

Yep.  That's a concern, alright.

I kept folding clothes.  He proceeded to narrate a complicated life story for the mysterious pipe to himself.  I think when it was all over, torpedoes, flooding, and catching air were all involved.

It sounded like he got his concerns resolved.


Me: They will bring the bad guys to justice.
Landon: Who's Justice?


Mom, I am creating a wheelchair accessible firetruck!

Why, buddy?

So when the firefighters rescue someone in a wheelchair, this little lift thing can help them onto the truck.


Wait, when did he learn the phrase, "wheelchair accessible"?!  

Mom,  what happens when you die?

Okay Then.  Here we go. Biggie in the middle of a random moment.  Let me collect my thoughts.

Oh, I know, actually.  Your body stays still and your spirit self rises up in a little ball and says goodbye to everyone and then goes up in the sky to heaven.  Just like in Epic when that flower queen died.

I think we can go with that one for now.  Thank you, Epic. It was a rather lovely way to show it.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Early Morning Ambitions

I heard a tap-tap-tapping at my window.

It got incorporated as a sound effect in my dream. (Right? Hasn't your alarm clock been a truck backing up?  Endlessly.)

So I'm not entirely sure how long my patient son was standing there, fully clothed, tapping at my bedroom window.

I dragged my sleepy self over to him, wondering if/how I'd missed my alarm clock.

"Mom!  I'm just going to be out here (in our backyard) kicking the soccer ball around, kay?"

"Sure thing, buddy.  Have fun."

Here's my gauge: If baby ain't up, mamma ain't up.  The rest of you ambulatory people are just gonna have to kick it a little on your own, kay?


Great.  With all that tapping, now I'm gonna be dreaming some creepy thing about a raven, only this and nothing more.

Might as well get up before the baby after all.

I've got Mr. Soccer's breakfast of champions to clean up.

Friday, August 9, 2013

New SAHM Seeks Meaningful Relationship with Productivity

 Productivity, I've enjoyed all kinds of relationships with you before, and yet in this new situation you  often seem to elude me.
If you are some Productivity looking to share a life with a grateful companion, here are a few of the qualities I am looking for:

Must love kids, routine tasks, and repetition. 
Must be willing to forgo personal pursuits for the greater good--none of this staying up to work on your blog (or any other personal interest, for that matter) and getting bleary and crabby the next day.  Leave the late nights to me.
Must be willing to enjoy both early morning hours(hungry baby) and the wee hours of the night (same hungry baby) without additional compensation.
Must be willing to double your efforts on holidays, birthdays, or around any seasonal transitions that disrupt schedules and sleep patterns of any person living in this home.
A can-do attitude, unflagging energy, and an eagerness to check off boxes on to-do lists is essential.
High tolerance for interruptions, set-backs, and obstacles is valuable.  Also helps if you have had experience working with diminishing expense accounts and aging company cars.

Phony Productivity with your degrees in Facebookology, Computer Game Level Acquisition, or Film Studies need not express their Pinterest.   I never have enough to show for time spent with you, and yet you manage to make me feel like I'm getting something done.

Preference will be given to Productivity that doesn't need group participation to get started, refrains from using the phrase, "Ok, People..." and doesn't hope I define myself by all its accomplishments.

I'm willing for you to have a slow start, but only serious applicants need apply.  

Chicken Little

Sometimes a proverbial acorn falls on my head.

Like a character from the classic children's story of Chicken Little, I conclude with sudden certainty that the sky is falling.  In the story, Chicken Little runs to the next farm animal in a flurry of drama to exclaim his distress. Henny Penny picks up the refrain until a whole troupe of animals is running around in a senseless panic until they run right into the jaws of an accommodating fox.  A serious emergency results, I'm sure.

So that was me-- in Chicken Little mode tonight.  Something small (in the relative scheme of things) upset my equilibrium, and I couldn't just pause and look up and assess that I was indeed standing under a tree kinda laden with "acorns" of mini-series drama.  We're not talking drama on a worldwide-epic-scale here, just enough to give me a clonk on the head.

And like Chicken Little, I had to get on the phone and exclaim my distress about my falling sky.

I'm so lucky that my Henny Penny essentially said,  "You know what?  You just need to stop standing under that tree.  Cuz' whether the acorns fall or don't fall, you don't need to be standing there."

Sure, she let me chatter on a bit about how it felt to have a falling-sky kind of day.  She didn't scold when I went completely tangential about an unrelated storm I saw on the horizon.  She didn't try to tell me that the acorn didn't hurt or that it would never happen again.

But sometimes my frantic Chicken Little self just needs a calm voice saying, "Get out from under that tree, silly.  Just as acorns fall from Oak trees, Drama comes when you own other people's business."

The sky really can come crashing down on us.  Our whole world can fall apart in the blink of an eye with one unexpected phone call.

But if yours isn't, I hope when you run to Henny Penny, she won't put you on a conference call with Goosey Loosey.

Let the acorns fall where they may.  Let's be scanning the sky for rainbows.

Saturday, July 20, 2013


We went back to where we began.
  The small town we started in when we first got married.
  We drove around gravel roads nestled in the foothills, remembering old running trails and walks with our first baby.  
The air was thick with nostalgia, and it was sweet.

And then we drove past this:

Would you have had to investigate this?  Would it be compelling to you?  "Are you serious?" Bill asks, and then decides to humor me and pull over. "I'm not sure this is public property," he cautions.  "I intend to find out," I tell him without looking back.

This structure is a dovecote.  It is designed to house pigeons or doves.  If you look at the top, you can see the windows they fly in and out of.  I know this because I opened the door and climbed the ladder that led through the ceiling.  Landon needed to check it out, too. 

 Bill was tasked with keeping watch over the less intrepid Micah.

The garden had a plaque that explained the particulars and invited us to stay and enjoy the peace and beauty that a family had created to honor and remember their peaceful son.

It was beautiful. Unexpected. Poignant.

Across from the garden bench was this little gem:

This begs to be part of a novel

For a few minutes, Ordinary slipped behind the tree and we glimpsed a bit of the strange and wonderful.  Why not an empty phone booth in the middle of the woods?  Why not a Medieval-styled dovecote honoring a beloved?  Why not a little plot of whimsy and beauty tucked away and unexpected?

serendipity  1. the faculty or phenomenon of finding valuable or agreeable things not sought for; also : an instance of this


It is along the way, and not upon arriving, that life is really happening, isn't it?
Serendipity reminds me to keep noticing that we really are traveling along a beautiful path.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Let's Pretend that You're the Mom

Summer Time and Bed Time are not fond friends over here at my house.

Maybe at yours your kids still go to bed at their regularly scheduled times without regard to the light, or if they slept in, or if you all had dinner late because you're fond of eating outside on your deck after the heat has gone over the hill and is creeping away.

Or maybe not.

At any rate, it was no surprise to me that Landon didn't want to go to bed again tonight. Finally, drawing from one of his newer versions of "Let's pretend..." I said,

"Let's pretend that you're the son and I'm the mom and it's bed time."

"Ok.  Good idea."

"Okaaay, Toby. (what I call him when he is my "pretend" son) Let's go pick out pajamas for you!" I said a little too brightly.

"Ok, Mom. But could you say it in a normal voice so that you sound like a real person?"

Umm.  Sure.  Got a little too caught up in my character there, I guess.

We "pretended" to brush our teeth, get our pajamas on, read stories, pray and get tucked into bed with less fuss and hassle than I've seen in a week.

"Good night, Toby."

"Good night, Lulu."

As I walk out of his room,

"Oh, and mom?  Good night for real, too."

Monday, June 17, 2013

Midnight Santa Sightings

"Give Mom a goodnight hug and kiss, too," Bill says to Landon.

"I don't have any more hugs or kisses left today." he answers with a giggle.
"Can I just squeeze one more out?" I beg, going in for a tickle.

"No, Mom.  I have to go to sleep and get some more put into me."

Awww....that is so cute.  And such a good reason to go to bed.

And then he adds,

"Yeah, Santa Claus sneaks into our house and gives us each hugs and kisses to share with each other."

Wait....what?? What's Santa Claus doing in the narrative in June?

I've studied Greek and Roman myths. I've read some Norse ones, too.  I've read African folktales and Native American legends.

But it is Landon who introduces me to this new way of explaining the world: the hybridization of everything he takes in....and then he mixes it with love and makes the world go round.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

When my Dad Saved my Life

When my dad saved my life I did not thank him. I did not stop to acknowledge that he had jumped into the pool, fully clothed, to rescue me from certain death.

I say "certain" because I had slipped under a huge black inner tube and was pinned underwater by my swimsuit snagged on the air valve.

I was a little kid, and the tube was oversize.  Hidden from view, I flailed around underwater, unable to free myself, and unable to figure out why I couldn't escape.

His dad radar must have activated. He could scan the pool and see that I was missing.  Was my little foot splashing around?  Did he see a hand?  Maybe it was just the shadow of me not surfacing that caught his attention.

He dived in and tore my suit off and away from the valve.

When I got out, all I can remember is how sad I felt that my Strawberry Shortcake swimsuit had a large tear across my belly. I did not thank him. I did not acknowledge the fear and adrenaline he must have felt to realize his little daughter had been submerged for who knows how long. I just mourned my suit and the fact that swimming was over for the day.

 I didn't get a new suit that summer.  Instead, my mom stitched it up--an unforgiving fabric for repairs.  It was a pink scar that I was both ashamed and proud of.

That scar reminded me that there was someone who had my back.  Push come to shove, my dad would do anything in his power to keep me safe, suffer any indignity, and take any measures.  The scar reminded me that there was someone else who would not allow me to let self-pity to take over.  "It's a perfectly good suit. Don't be so worried about what others think," my mom would say when I whined about how embarrassing it was to have a sewn-up suit.

Thirty years later, we have all played musical chairs with our roles. At the moment it is my dad who flails. It is our family who dives, and it is still my mom who reminds us all not to feel self-pity for any of the ways that life gets torn apart in ways that don't seem pretty.

At the end of the day, I won't need any thanks, either.  He's already saved my life once.  I think I kinda owe him.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Honeymoon is Over

She's letting it all hang out.  All her control issues, past hurts not healed properly, baggage from old relationships, and a few new issues she didn't even realize she had.  It was a quick romance, and she put her very best foot forward, but now the other shoe has dropped.  She's not hiding anymore. She's past her prime, is high maintenance, and can't keep up the illusion of being uncomplicated any longer.

Who am I talking about?

Our house, of course.

We met her nine months ago, fell in deep like and knew it would be love if we gave it time.  So we signed on the dotted line--over and over-- and took the plunge to begin a relationship with the smart-looking one with the big yard.

But just how every romance finds itself contending with previously unmentionables like bad breath and loud gas, our house is settling in and getting comfortable enough to show her rougher side.

A sprinkler system with busted pipes--even though we had a professional clear the lines before the first cold snap hit.

The swamp cooler that is pouring water all over the roof as I type this--even though we drained it properly, as well.

A washing machine that never works when I need it to, but only when it's good and ready...usually hours after the load begins.  

Closets that never smelled are now emitting mysterious and unpleasant mustiness.

A missing screen door that didn't seem so important at the time.

Pine trees whose shade creates dead patches on the grass.

So yes, we are a little dismayed.

Our dream home is a little (lot) more work than we imagined.  She requires more time, personal sacrifice, and the willingness to realign our priorities with reality.

Just like our marriage.

And yet, there are so many things we love about our house- more to love than to be hassled by.

Also, just like our marriage.

So while we're not happy we're going to have to slow down and do the work to repair, maintain, and improve, it's still worth it with this dear old house....even if she is a tad past her prime, a bit high maintenance and a little complicated.

Because when it comes right down to it, so are we.

So here's to you, you wonderful, impossible, perfect-fit of a house.

And here's to another five years with you, Bill.  Anywhere with you, I'm home.

                                                           Happy Anniversary, Love.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Almost a Textbook Scenario

"Ok, you're clear to go," I said to my sister as she started backing out of her driveway in her SUV.  Children accounted for.  Until he wasn't.  Instead of holding my hand like I asked, Landon insisted he wanted to see Daddy and pulled away and into the path of the moving vehicle.

Yelling ensued. Enough adrenaline to satisfy even the most hard-core adrenaline junkie shot through me.  And my extreme fear morphed instantly (as it usually does) to anger when the danger was past and Landon was safe.

At that moment I was sick and tired of having a kid I cannot count on to obey.  (Do those kind exist somewhere that I don't know about?)

In a calmer moment Bill and I talked with Landon about what happened and emphasized the need for him to trust that when we ask for something, we have his best interests in mind.  I don't think I micromanage him.  So mister, if I'm making demands, it isn't because my ego won't let you walk out of the house with your shirt on backwards.  I'm picking my battles, buddy, and they are ones I demand to win.  Running around moving vehicles: that's a no.  Wearing long sleeves and pants in hot summer weather?  Well, if you must.  Sweat it out, I guess.

Landon's response to our conversation?

"The answer is stuck in my brain mom, and I can't get it out."

The question was the super-complicated, "What are you going to do the next time we ask you to do something?"

Hmph.  Are we getting through to this guy at all?

Fast forward to tonight.  Landon and his cousins were given goody bags of noisemakers and other kid kitsch. Kids love it.  Easily overstimulated moms like me wonder if the giver hates us.  Noise issues aside, Landon bagged all his up when he was done playing with it. I told him to keep it in our diaper bag or it would get thrown away since it didn't look like anything special and everyone was cleaning up.

I turn around, and his plastic bag and toys are strewn all over the counter.  My swoop instinct takes over and it all goes in the garbage.  (confession: a teeeeny part of me was happy to be justified to throw that kind of chaos away)

As we were leaving Landon asked, "Where are my toys?"
"They should be in the diaper bag, where I asked you to leave them," I tell him innocently. (My poor nephew beheld the swift swoop moment and is a little puzzled)
But they are not.  And Landon knows they are not because he didn't leave them there.  I didn't gather them. I didn't retrieve them. He knows I am not taking responsibility for them.

When we get home I tell Bill what happened.  I am happy.  Now here's a lesson that I think is really going to hit home for my little boy. I am willing to sacrifice one bag of plastic trinkets if it means Landon will be more likely to obey next time.  Because next time might be like last time: a situation with high stakes.

I am fed up with negotiating.  I am done wheeling and dealing.  And I think we sometimes couch being softies in the phrase, "showing you mercy" to justify being pushovers.

Request. Disobedience. Logical consequence.  Textbook scenario.  This should work.

Bill gets a funny look on his face.  "Umm, Jodi?  Cam (Landon's cousin with a heart of gold) showed me the garbage and told me that Landon's toys had gotten thrown away so I fished them out for him and we took them home with us in the green car."

Ahaahah!  Foiled again!

Good thing I have a new set of plastic hand clappers I can use to shake out my frustration.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Roots and Wings

Roots and wings. They say this is what a good family will provide you.  Stability and independent autonomy.
But nobody tells you exactly how to provide this for your own kids.  

Lately the wing part has been particularly challenging.  I love to see my three-year-old growing up, growing more autonomous, gaining confidence and initiative. 

But sometimes it seems like it goes too far.

It starts out with him cutting soft fruits under my supervision to add to the fruit salad.
Next thing I know, he's standing at the cutting board with a sharp knife trying to cut raw carrots.

It starts out with my encouraging him to use a stool, get his own cup, and dispense water from the external dispenser on the fridge.
Next thing I know, he has used that same stool to climb onto the counters, and then Spider-Man up the cupboard shelves to get more attractive snacks or treats.

It starts out with my letting him face the natural consequences of not putting his shoes on in a timely manner by having to walk to the car barefoot.  The next thing I know, he is in love with running about half-dressed.

It starts out with my giving him easy access to his art supplies. (a decision overturned here) The next thing I know, he has used a blue marker to color in every paint chip on his blue bed.

It starts out with my letting him help me unlock the trunk to get the groceries out.  The next thing I know, he is in the trunk, thinking it grand fun.

It starts out with me seeing him as my baby bird, nudging him to flap his wings a few times and try something new.
Next thing I know, he is piloting a jet plane and I'm caught in the "whoosh" of him buzzing past me.

Not always the kind of wings I have in mind.

What about you? What are your kids doing to test their wings?

Saturday, April 20, 2013

In Defense of a Dangerous Childhood

Everywhere I go around young children I hear adults telling their own, "Be careful." I hear them telling mine, "Be careful."  I haven't gone to a public kid-oriented place this year and not heard this catch-all phrase.  I use it myself.

I ask myself, "Is be careful a worthy enough mantra for the childhood of my sons?"

I take Landon to the park.  The recycled tire ground is almost softer than my couch. The play structures are secure, well-designed and appropriately scaled. And yet, all around me mothers are admonishing children to be careful of this and be careful of that.  You might fall. You might get hurt. You might get going too fast/high/happy on that.  Meanwhile, a kind of compliant listlessness sets in. Perhaps it is simply not engaging to interact so mildly with an environment so tame.

These parks encircled by attentive parents don't feature in my memories of childhood.  When I think of the quintessential moments, I don't remember carefully mulched surfaces and bridges with narrowly spaced slats. I remember trees.

Mysterious, beautiful, daunting and dangerous trees.  A willow that rewarded the curious with a secret world unto itself. A Japanese maple that was too delicate to climb, but too gorgeous to ignore. Towering prickly pines that dared you to climb so high you would sway in the wind, unable to see the ground below. Oaks with their sturdier branches, but trickier access. I was a tree-climbing monkey fiend, whose escapades, had they been known, certainly would have made the adults who cherished me uncomfortable.

Tree-climbers are problem solvers, because the path up and down has to be decided and navigated entirely on your own.  Unlike play equipment whose use is obvious and concrete, trees ask you to decide, choose wisely, and both conquer and heed your own fear. By painstaking increments, you find out what you are made of in the branches of a tall tree. At the top, you find out you are both smaller and braver than you thought. And you learn confidence--not from a generous parent praising your tiniest effort on a primary-colored tube of plastic, but in a solitary moment with the wind blowing your hair and the branches swaying enough to tell you that they can't sustain your going any higher. You feel more primal, less primary.

So when I see Landon discovering his first awesome "come-climb-me-kid" tree today, I have mixed feelings. I'm born into the "Be careful," parenting generation coming from an "embrace challenge" childhood.

I believe that a person learns confidence and competence by experience, not by praise and support. (as valuable as those gifts are) If I "Be-careful!" my kids out of taking any risk, no matter how small, because I want to protect them from harm (no matter how small), I'd also be robbing them of significant opportunities to grow.  And could there be a correlation between a person developing physical courage while they are young and a person developing more important kinds of courage later? What about the moral courage to stand up for what you believe in the face of opposition? How do you get the guts to do that? Or consider how much confidence you need to have to start a new business, relationship or degree program. What's more likely to get results, careful or wise? Careful or creative? Careful or confident?

Can a person grow wise, creative and confident if they are never allowed to find out whether they can do anything that scares them?

Can I let my kids do "dangerous" things for a greater good? Can I be ok with the fact that my kids will get hurt, disappointed, frightened and fail?  Well, I've a tree-climbing childhood that tells me that some of the best things happen when you stretch a little past comfort.

I'm willing to try.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Investing Time vs. Time Management

I haven't even read the whole book and already I am thinking, "This author is on to something.  I think I can learn from her."

But does anyone besides me find irony in the fact that a mere three secrets take 246 pages to explain, and thus a considerable time investment on my part to discover?

Irony aside, I think this book is intriguing and has insights to offer.
(I just may share some of my favorite if I ever invest enough time to read the whole thing!)

Simplify by Radical Reduction, an Experiment

I thought I might make it a facebook survey, but then I decided to trust my gut and make it a personal experiment instead:

Hypothesis: one leading cause for my three-year-old's perpetually messy room is that he simply has too much stuff to successfully manage
(Upon consideration, the same could probably be said for most of us)

Hypothesis #2: by radically reducing the number and variety of things in Landon's room, he will enjoy and appreciate his belongings more

I have no idea what is developmentally appropriate as far as how independently this age should be able to put away their things without needing to be
asked again
poked and
to do such a thing.

In the end, I start to feel like I'm stuck in a revolving door-- unable to move into the room of "Success" or out into the fresh air of "This doesn't matter to me."   But before you think me a woman of unreasonably high expectations (we are talking about a three-year-old, after all) I just don't want to put myself in dangerous peril simply walking across the room. Most of all, I don't want the task of tidying up his room (with or without his help) to feel like such a momentous project.

I mean really, should the heights of my achievements on a daily basis be, "Wow, we got Landon's room up to normal living conditions, yet again.

So today, we began The Experiment.

What would happen if we reduced his bedroom possessions by at least 75%?
(We have a play area downstairs that we didn't address)

If a bedroom should be a peaceful haven--a place to read yourself to sleep and good dreams--then shouldn't it  feel peaceful and uncluttered?

Process:        1. Reduce everything by as much as Landon can joyfully accept.
                     2. Don't second-guess any of his decisions. If he wants to part with the animal I would have         chosen, let him.
                     3. Celebrate the spartan new room and observe results.

Here's what that looked like for a few areas:

Matchbox cars: Landon has a large collection.  When I asked him how many he wanted to keep, he chose 12.  (woo hoo- bonus that he doesn't count that high yet!)

Crayons: He could furnish a classroom with crayons.  We chose his best 12 and bagged the rest.  (Stifling creativity? We'll see.)

Stuffed animals: A well-loved menagerie lived on his bed. (or under it and around the room) I suggested choosing one for every year of his life and letting the others take a vacation together.  I was stunned when he went with this idea.

Art Supplies: no longer a suitcase he will be allowed to take out any any time, night or day.  (In hours of insomnia the crafty bug gets him and we'd wake up to find his room looking like several aisles of Hobby Lobby had exploded in it.)

Paper and pen supplies: reduced his paper supply from a full ream, plus 3 years' worth of Bill's old paper planners, to what can fit in a file folder and a few pens and pencils in a ziplock bag.

Books: every shelf needed at least 6-12 inches of breathing space.  Weeded them until that was true.

Bed blankets: he's such a big "nester" that it is several loads of laundry to wash his bed linens.  We removed three of the blankets.

Even typing this out is making me uncomfortable.  It sounds rigid and spare. Who doesn't want to have 24/7 access to a suitcase brimming with supplies to make both messes and magic?   Who doesn't want to have dozens of cars to sort, count and align?  And only one shade of purple? Is that even right?

But here's the thing:
I'd like to spend more time enjoying our time together and less time on Tornado Recovery Patrol in his room. I want more intentionality and less random chaos.
I'd like to see more gratitude for what he has and less "What else?" on his mind.
These are mindsets I'd like to nourish in myself, as well.

Disclaimer: None of his stuff got thrown away, merely relocated to an inaccessible box.  He knows that we can rotate in his animals, coloring books, and cars.  He knows he can get more crayons, markers and paper as needed. And he knows that he can ask for that suitcase and work at the table just about any time I'm awake.

So what do you think?  I'm not sure, either.  I'll be sure to post a follow-up regarding the outcomes of this experiment.

I'm hopeful.
And curious.
And happy to peek in on my sweet sleeping boy without having to stifle pseudo-expletives as I step on parts and pieces strewn across his room.

Friday, March 1, 2013


"I've heard they say that true bonding begins when your baby smiles."  My friend said this at Micah's baby shower and it was like she just programmed my psychological gps, "Bonding: straight ahead in 3-4 weeks.  If you get to laughter you have gone 2 weeks too far."  It's nice to have a map for this kind of thing.  Especially if you feel a little lost and wonder if you missed a turn to Bonding somewhere along the way.

Today I can tell we are getting close.
To the smiling.
And thus, truer bonding.

Micah's smiles are like trying to watch a hummingbird land.  Did I just see that?
Micah's smiles are like a shy boy who isn't sure if anyone else thinks he's funny.  Just a flicker of one, gone before the eyes crinkle.
Micah's smiles are like a dog wagging his tail while he sleeps, involuntary and endearing.
Micah's smiles are a prelude to the real sweetness: like shellacked desserts on the tray are interesting, but the real deal is indescribably better.
Micah's smiles are like the song of the icecream truck, just as it turns a corner far away and is out of earshot again.

But we know he's coming around.
In the meantime, I think I'm getting a little hungry.


Yesterday (or early this morning, if you think of 1 AM that way) I posted about how my stir-crazy, angsty journey in motherhood led to an abrupt, if brief departure from my home and away from my kids.

It was a dark night.
And you, my friends, are the fireflies.  Facebook friendships cross such spans of years in our lives.  People who have known me since I was five are now sharing about their kids in high school or college.  Facebook friends cross such distances.  Mine are across the country and world.  Facebook friends are little glimpses of each others' lives, flickering in and out of each others worlds. We often share the best, occasionally the worst, and often the normal, mundane stuff that makes up a large part of of our lives.

But when I post about something close to my heart, and a bunch of people chime in that they have been there, (or are there), when they remind me of what is good about the season I am in, encourage me (and anyone else reading their comments), share themselves with a "like", a comment, a nod...

These people are the fireflies that light up my darker hours

And I find my way home.

My friend said the profoundest thing to me today about facebook:
It is like fire.
You can warm yourself by it's glow
And it can burn your house down.

It's all in how it's used.

So dear facebook friends,
You are the fireflies that wink in and out of my life
As I wink in and out of yours
With sparks of truth and encouragement and hope
And I'm as dazzled by your generosity now, as I was by real fireflies as a child.

Small connections made wondrous
Best seen by fading light of dusk, or maybe in the dark hour before dawn

Thank you for shining in my life.


Children take us by storm.
Sometimes it is lightning love,
Bright and blazing, sudden and illuminating.
Sometimes, it is like the fog rolling in off the hills into the valley.
All-consuming, all-encompassing, all-covering.
Sometimes, a bit heavy.

Tonight I left the house for two hours.
Abruptly.  Shortly after Bill got home.  My baby was asleep and peaceful.  My oldest would be ready for bed soon.

"So you got this?  You can heat up some leftovers for dinner? Because I just need to leave for a little bit.  I just need to get out of this house."

By myself.
Without it being a project.
I don't even have a destination in mind.

He knows I'll come back.
Without even asking when.
He knows this nursing mama will painfully fill up again and I'll find my way home.

When I was in labor with Landon I hit a spell when the contractions seemed to double up.  I'd have one, and without the break that would save my sanity, another one would come right after.  I remember my fear that I couldn't hack this new pace and repeating helplessly to my doula, "There's no break! There's no break!"

"Keep breathing.  Look at me.  LOOK at me.  Keep breathing," she said.
And I did.
Raspy, frightened breaths,  barely holding on.

A lifetime passed, and then one minute more. The pain went back to its ebb and flow. Those double-back contractions finally went away.

Micah's birth was not like that.  But something about this second round of motherhood is.
At least today.

My eyes are watery and my nerves flail.  My hormones take me on wild rides that jangle my confidence.  When he sleeps or is peaceful I think I'll find my center again, but there is another sweet guy who'd like some attention, too.  He asks so sadly, "Mom, please, can we DO something?  Mom, I don't want to be upstairs by myself.  I get so lonely.  When are you going to get up?"

And I hear my frightened self saying inside, "There's no break."

Spending time with my kids is not painful; please don't stretch the metaphor that far.

It is, however, relentless.

With two, the ebb and flow of it has been temporarily disrupted.

So I left my house tonight for two hours.
Abruptly, shortly after Bill got home.

God, I'm looking at you. 
And breathing.    

Saturday, January 26, 2013

What to Take to the Hospital When Having a Baby: the Unpublished Items

I've not ever written a "how-to" post on this blog before, but since I feel like I have true insider information this time, I feel compelled.

You: headed to the hospital to deliver a baby
Me: was there last week, and fresh on my mind are the things I was especially happy (or would have been especially happy) to have.

Now before you judge too quickly, this post won't tell you anything about slippers or chapstick and your own pillow or your cell phone charger.  We know all that stuff.  And if you don't, you can find it on any checklist you choose to google or look up on Pinterest.  And you should google or pinterest-search those lists because they are helpful.  (Although some are so extensive you wonder if the person thinks they are going away to baby-delivery camp instead of a short stay at a hospital already equipped with many modern wonders)

1.  Attractive pajamas-- You can wear the hospital-issued gown and feel like an unwell patient, or you can wear something pretty and feminine and feel like the glowing new mama that you are.  I figured that even the small weight loss I'd enjoy after birth would be enough to boost my confidence to feel like I deserved a satin robe with pink trim.  And I was right.  Bring something light that you can layer and with the little clip-down feature that allows easy access to nurse.  As long as the staff can access all your tubes and wristbands, I don't think they care what you wear.

2. A digital watch with a face that lights up--You will partner with the nurses to track everything your new baby does after birth, and most especially the number and duration of all of his feedings. It gets written down on your baby's chart and you will feel smart and capable if you can provide this information accurately.  So picture this: It is the dark middle of the night and you are feeding this little bundle bent on survival and need to note the time.  It is too painful/too big of a hassle/too likely to wake your sleep-deprived spouse to get up to turn on a light to see the wall clock, and your cell phone is not within easy reach, either.  If you were wearing a digital watch with an indiglo face, your problem would be solved and you could note the start and stop times like an old pro.

3. Speaking of charting things for your baby, bring a small spiral notebook (picture 3x5 inches) to record all that baby data and a pencil that clips onto it.  When bubbly, cheerful nurse comes in at 7:30 am to update your chart you won't stare at her in bleary oblivion.  You can whip out your little book and remind yourself of each wee-hour feeding. Even if, come morning, it all blurs together as one long night punctuated by different decibels of hungry baby desperation and snuffly, satisfied baby noises, you'll have proof that you accomplished your mission.

4. An emery board/nail file--You won't be able to trim baby's nails because they can be kinda fused to the skin underneath, but they can still have sharp edges that can scratch your baby's face.  (For an extra obscene amount the hospital photographer will be happy to photoshop that scratch right out for you, though) Besides, filing a sleeping baby's nails feels productive and lends the feeling that you're keeping up with the details.

5. Gum--for when you can't brush your teeth but the nurses still get within range of your breath to help with any number of intimate things.  Or you have already thrown up and you still can't brush your teeth.  Because sometimes brushing your teeth is really an epic accomplishment.

6. Baby oil, rubbing alcohol and a loofah-- These are things I really wish I had.  (Maybe I should have listed them first)  You will get lots of things taped to your body for this adventure.  An IV needle, a catheter, gauze bandages, band aides from places they draw blood...And all of that tape is super secure (good), but hard to fully remove when the time comes (bad).  You might wish they made goo-be-gone for humans.  But baby oil and rubbing alcohol works for most of the adhesive stuff the hospital-grade tape leaves behind, and I wish I had some with a scrubbing loofah while I was still at the hospital.

7.  A thank-you card -- If I could wish anything for your hospital stay, it would be that you are cared for by a team of nurses as awesome as the one I just enjoyed.  I would have loved to provide them with fresh brownies or a cool snack basket or decadent flowers, they were that good.  Considering these were the kinds of things other angels were doing for us, I figured the least we could do was write them a heartfelt thank you.  I know that if I had left the hospital without writing that card, it would have been just another good intention that got left at the intersection of Busy and Life.  Having a thank-you card (ok, asking my husband to bring one when he came back from sleeping at home one night!) was a good move.  I hope your heart will have reason to overflow enough to make this a must-have item, too.

8. Your living will/advance directive/power of attorney paperwork-- Why in the world did we go to all the trouble of creating these documents only to leave them in some file at home?  Because we don't even want to go there in our minds, of course.  Seems like if you have already worked through some of the issues those documents force you to confront, you won't want to have to think them through twice if you don't have to.  Now you know we didn't need those papers.  But I know we would have been glad we had them if we did.

9.  Lanolin.  The hospital provided this nipple-soothing lotion and I'll definitely be buying more when this sample size tube runs out.  On the sad chance that your hospital doesn't offer this as a free party favor, I would recommend you have some with you.

10. A detachable keyring that has just your car key on it-- What?!  I put this on here in case any of you are married to someone who shares my beloved's quirk of not wanting the valet parking attendant to have any of his keys but the one to the car.  In his haste to get back to the action, Bill gave the guy all of them. He was bummed that he had to go retrieve them when really he just wanted to stay with me in the hospital in those opening minutes when you are getting checked in and the butterflies are starting to migrate out of your stomach and into your whole body.  This is definitely not a "must-have" item; more like a freebie to round out this list that just might save you some hassle if  you happen to be in the secret single-key-to-the-valet club.

So there you have it.  Never before gathered on one list--ten items that might round out your getaway bag and make your hospital stay just that much better.

But in the end, you know and I know it isn't about what you bring there at all.

It's all about who you walk away with.

Oh, and if you've already made the round-trip journey to the hospital, will you pay it forward, too, for the others who may read this post? (Or just to satisfy my curiosity)  What was your essential item?

Micah and mini-Micah

The newest member of my family made his grand debut six days ago.  A post after such a momentous event could take so many different tones: rapture, delirious sleep-deprived nonsense, contentment and gratitude, angsty hormone-hectic overload, awed wonder...and likely some like those are still to come.

But today,
It is funny.

And yes, it is Landon, and not our sweet little baby who never ceases to amuse. 

I read somewhere that one way you can help your child adjust to a new sibling is by involving them as much as possible in the pregnancy and care of the newborn afterward.  Let the older make some choices for the baby (Landon has picked all of Micah's sheets each time they get changed: "I'm going to let him have this one, Mom, because it is mine and he will like having a big-boy sheet.") Landon enjoyed putting lotion on Micah's cracked feet, feeding him a few drops of breast milk they had me pump at the hospital, taking his picture, and "holding" Micah on his lap while studying his teeny parts.

My mom intuitively knew the same advice because she showed up at our house with a plastic doll that Landon could help take care of to get in on the action.  He was thrilled to learn he could wash his baby in the real baby bathtub, put a real diaper on it, and dress it in real preemie newborn clothes that we don't need.  He calls it his "premiere" baby.

I was charmed.  Bill was uncertain.  Landon seemed enthralled.  He oh-so-creatively named his baby Micah (that's not confusing or anything) and miniMicah began draining the battery on the baby swing, borrowing receiving blankets or hanging out on the boppy for the next few days. 

He and my mom discovered that miniMicah could take a bottle (medicine dropper) and he would "pee" out the other end.  Landon was exclaiming with such nurturing delight over this; my mom said it was quite endearing.  Bill might have said, "See?  You are feminizing him with all this babycare stuff!"

He needn't worry.
Just after his delight to discover miniMicah's abilities to fill a diaper Landon said,
"Now let's squirt water up his butt to see if it comes out his mouth!"

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Not Color Blind

A woman Landon has met once came up in conversation because she taught the Music & Movement class Landon attended, and I was telling him she would be leading the story time we wanted to attend, as well.  She's a curiosity to him because she works at "my" library doing "my" job, but now he gets the benefit of enjoying me at these programs in a different way.

"Mom, she is so pretty--she reminds me of hot chocolate.  And I really love hot chocolate."

"I know you do, and you're right, buddy, she is so pretty."

"Will our baby have skin like hot chocolate?  Or maybe we could get one like chocolate milk, maybe?  That would be nice...could we, Mom?"

"I don't think we will, Landon.  It's a nice thought, though."

"What color will our baby be?"

"Probably something close to your skin color, hon."

 "Oh.  Well I guess that will be ok.  What about our baby's hair?  What color will that be?"

"What color do you think it will be?"


He lives in such a possible, beautiful world, my three-year-old. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Beached Whale

We are nine days out from a scheduled c-section to welcome our son.

And here's the unglamorous truth: I am more excited about relieving the pain, discomfort and sleeplessness of this last trimester than I am about anything else.

I know I should be more excited to meet our baby and get to know him and hold him and fall in love with every little snuffly noise and half-formed gassy smile.

Instead, I'm counting down the days when I will be able to sleep for two whole hours uninterrupted by the feeling that someone is blowing up a beach ball under my unpliable skin.

I'm looking forward to the time when I  don't calculate the risk/reward ratios of letting my cell phone ring versus going downstairs to fetch it.  When I won't lose heart contemplating the return trip, listening closely for a tone indicating a voicemail and avoiding the stairs if I don't hear one.

 I'm anticipating the day when the floor will come back to me as a reachable entity; when something falls there now I feel like it has to be of immediate essential need to attempt recovery; otherwise, it is like space garbage, allowed to float away and out of my orbit, it seems so far and perilous to go there.  I might not have the oomph to get back up, you know.

And most of all, I dream of the day when I won't be in near constant discomfort, sliding into long bouts of pain that don't do much for my ability to be loving and gentle and a joy to be around.

People have been really puzzled about that last one.  Pain?  Really?  Where?  What does it feel like?  At my last appointment my doctor even decided we should strap a sensor to my belly and make sure I wasn't in labor.  "You shouldn't really be in pain," she told me sincerely.

Oh Lady, this pregnancy has never really been a "should"-following ordeal.  It has been boot camp.  And I'm almost done.  I'll be so happy to be done with all the parts of it that made it hard, I haven't yet embraced the excitement of the prize at the end.  The infant who even now is acting like it is imperative to practice all his Yoga poses, all his breakdance moves, all his synchronized swimming acts, before he has to leave his little swimming pool and wait for his muscles to get strong enough to be graceful again.

Nearly every night I think, "Surely this is the pain that is a prelude to labor.  Surely I wouldn't feel this badly just because."  Sometime around 4 am when my exhaustion overcomes the discomfort I have to concede that boot camp is not over and another day of dragging myself around awaits.

So the little accomplishments seem monumental.
I take a shower.
I make dinner.
I iron exactly one shirt of Bill's.
I sit and watch sweet Landon play.

And I wait for the miracle of the mindwipe a newborn will have on me and make all the trials and tribulations fade away to almost nothing.  Almost forgotten.  Like a planet finding a new star to orbit, I will be caught in a spell as powerful as gravity, as compelling as a law of physics: falling in love with a son.

In the meantime, please don't mind the spray and fuss of my griping.  I am a miserable beached whale who can't remember the bliss of the ocean and feel helpless in this in-between, unnatural place of pain.  Just as soon as I get off this sand and find my way to the ocean depth of mother love again, you'll see.  I'll stop acting like a baby and begin cherishing one.