A daily...meh, weekly dose of babies, reality, and love.
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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter, Smoochie!

Three Horney revelers up there.

Last Easter Sunday, you stretched against those flowers on my shirt, 22 weeks in my belly and I FOOLISHLY imagined myself halfway through my pregnancy. 
But as any mom knows, 'halfway' through a pregnancy doesn't happen until about 37 weeks, when body parts are blowing up and you sleep absolutely never.
Anyways, there you are, my own spring chicken. Expanding under my Easter best.

One year later, my chubby little friend, I missed most of the sermon this morning because of your insistent chatter, and also because I still haven't put you in the church nursery (I know, I know, get over it, Jessie.) You wore your own flowered sundress, and a purple headband, and white sandals too big for your tiny feet that simply do not grow (You will probably be very short, daughter. My apologies.)

We LONGED for you, Smooch, and now here you are. I cannot stop being amazed. And I love being your mom. Even when you scream in your bed at night, and even when you get poop all over my clean sheets, and even when you make me miss church, I LOVE BEING YOUR MAMA.

He is Risen Indeed, Clara Horney, and on this fine spring day, 
I am thankful that God gave me you. 
I love you!


Saturday, March 30, 2013

ronald mcdonald and my marriage.

There is something tragic about a McDonald's drive-thru window. Like, I'll take a hamburger and some chicken nuggets and possibly a lecture about healthy living and positive decision making, you know what I mean? So there we are, in the McDonald's drive-thru, hungry and super irritated with each other. We're already an hour late to a picnic with my family, and Sam is ordering food because he "can't make it" to the park without eating something first. This makes sense, mind you, as it happens to be 1:30 p.m. and neither of us has eaten anything yet today. (Also. I would never live like this on my own. I love to eat. Love. Sam eats about once a day, twice if you count a bowl of popcorn.  After 5 years of marriage I sometimes roll the same way, and I can't believe it, and how long can a girl even GO without an elaborate weekday breakfast? Come on!)

We haven't eaten yet today because it took us forever to get out of our house to meet my sister and mom and some of my nieces at a park for lunch, for which I have packed a sweet little picnic, except now we're going to be an hour and a half late and WE'RE SITTING IN THE MCDONALD'S DRIVE-THRU.
So. We are not going to the park.
It's too late, everyone else will leave before we can get there.
No, I say, don't order me any food. I hate this place.
And I am super mad.

Sam hands me a hamburger.

I devour it. Sheepishly. Wolfishly.
And in a surprising turn of events, Sam makes a plan.
The thing is, I'm the idea guy in our relationship. I come up with grand, complicated ideas, and Sam makes sure all the details get ironed out. When things aren't working, it's Sam and Clara whose (ridiculous) tempers run the show, while I rustle around for plan B.

But today,
Sam Horney has a plan.
And I saw that plan,
and I called that plan good.

We gobbled up our burgers, then stopped by our house to grab the camera and the picnic blanket I'd forgotten. We drove 20 miles out of town into wine country, situated deep in the Snake River Valley, on the rich soil of the Bonneville Flood Plain. Our freshly washed car collected the dust of a winding gravel road as we climbed above the sloping patchwork of grape vines. Sunlight filtered through barren trees and looping cirrus cloud trails, warming the shocked white skin that peeked out our t-shirts and shorts.

We unloaded our baby, paid the ladies in the shop for a bottle of riesling, smoothed out our quilt under the bright blue sky, and nodded at each other in surprised satisfaction at our adventurous selves.

It's been a tough month over here. A tough season, really. School sucks. I hate every minute of it, even though I should be thankful for an education. One of my best friends lost her husband, and there's just no way to sneak around that boulder of a fact. We must face it every day. It won't move- we must climb over it. And all of this hellish business can put a strain on our marriage, for sure. I find myself stretching to be kind, having to work to be patient, and losing it way more often than I should.
But God is gracious.
Even when I want to toss my husband into a McDonald's parking lot,
even when I stomp my feet in cranky frustration,
even when I cannot handle one more change or disappointment,
God gives me peace.
God gives me Sam. And Sam gives me the gift of a good idea.
And Clara attacks a strawberry with the ferocity of a starving zoo monkey, and one more day feels a little bit better.

ps totally nursing in a few of those. you're welcome, world. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

happy birthday aunt alene

Our tardiness is in no way a reflection of our love. 
Happy Birthday, dear sister :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

dear clara, dear daughter, we are crazy.

Dear Clara, 

Girly. Can you believe you've been here, in the open air, under the sky, safe in our home, in our arms, for seven months? It feels like such a short time for so much to have changed.

I carried you inside of me for longer than this. We spent a lot of days and nights in a very private world, you and I. Our blood ran together. Your heart was, quite literally, attached to mine. Every one of my breaths belonged to you, lovely girl. I grew and I grew and I grew, full with you and all that you would become.
And then, in a painful rush, you left me. Took your own powerful breath, opened your enormous eyes, and that was that. The quiet world of you and me disappeared, replaced by the pride of saying, "This is my daughter. Her name is Clara Noelle Horney." And proud we are, Smoochie. You should see your daddy, my husband, the man we both wake up to kiss each morning. He carries you face forward at all times, on display, in a sincere and everlasting belief that you are indeed the best thing that anyone has ever seen or had the privilege to meet, and yes, you may compliment my daughter. Her name is Clara and yes, her eyes are quite beautiful. Thank you and I agree. 

To be honest, we're really awful about all of it, dolly.

We are glad to tuck you in at night, to pull that soft white blanket around you, and then thirty minutes later we sort of miss having you around. Of course, you've recently begun a progressive tone shift when you're tired, screeching louder and louder the more exhausted you get. It's terrible, reprehensible really, and we hustle you into bed when it starts, because we can't stand it. Which is maybe what you're trying to accomplish anyways? Note: it is working. 

Our world keeps moving, altered by the moment, and we can't seem to keep you from the constant ebb and flow. Worry has a new name, and it is motherhood. This month has been awfully hard, my daughter. Our dear friend passed away, and I worry, sometimes, that maybe all of my sorrow is trickling through my milk and down your throat, that maybe I am giving you a taste of what's to come in this broken world, that maybe I have accidently shared a sadness I never meant for you to hold...I worry about that.

Also, I read somewhere today that I should start feeding you little bits of meat, blended up with your veggies. I was outraged. Meat? You're a baby! I read all these crazy baby food recipes calling for ingredients like cinnamon and olive oil and parsley. Spices? I think not. You can have a banana and that is IT.
Otherwise I might have to admit that the sharp little point on your bottom gum is a tooth, and I might have to put away your bunny chair that is much too small for you, and I might have to lower your crib in case you try to roll out, and I might have be thankful that you are a healthy, growing baby, and I might have to stop being such a weirdo about your natural progression through childhood. 

And we wouldn't want that, right Smooch? :)

Little girl. I should call some scientist in some lab, somewhere. Because there is no mystery about the Universe continually expanding. It's simple. Our love for you cannot be contained in our hearts, this city, planet, or solar system. Obviously it is pushing the stars out of the way so it can explode past their glowing heat.

Happy 7 Months, Clara Horney.
Take this embarassing, kooky love and do something grand! 
We'll just be over here admiring you, biased as all get out and completely unapologetic. 
We love you, Smoochie. Oh so much. 

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

what i learned from the Kardashians

Sure, sure, laugh all you want, but I love to watch and read about that krazy klan of dark haired women (and their poor, shadowed brother.) Their lives are so bizarrely meta: they appear on reality shows about their lives on reality shows. (humina what now?) Yet, in the midst of contrived situations and post-production editing, something rings true about their family dynamics. You ready?

Here it is:

"This too shall pass."

Boyfriend gets drunk and embarrasses himself?
Sisters fight over who is shirking their responsibilities?
Mom forces a DNA test on her daughter to prove paternal lineage?
Stepfather finds out about your engagement via the tabloids?

Don't worry- by the time this episode airs, all of the strife will have passed. Can you imagine? What an amazing gift of perspective: to watch yourself worrying about a problem that was solved long ago. It's a journal with sound bites and background music.

Lately, around here, life has offered one brutality after another. It's funny, because ever since August 22nd, when the world exploded with love, I have cursed every moment that passes, clinging with delirious fervor to my baby and her first year of life. That's hard to reconcile with today, and yesterday, and next week, all of which I am actively wishing away.

How can I want so badly to fast forward time, to achingly wish Cassidy well again, to finish this semester of classes from hell, to MOVE ON from this awful awful time, all the while resigning myself to the sadness of Clara growing and growing and growing? How can I reconcile these deep, powerful, conflicting desires?
This is grown up life; this is living with grief; this is the difficulty of loving a child; this is why a degree is worth something; this is a fallen world; this is humanity.
This is when you pray for peace.

I am not a Kardashian, unfortunately. I'd be a good addition, I just know it. (I'll get a spray tan, guys! Just let me in!) I do not get to sit down wearing an overpriced pair of high heels four months from now and grimace/laugh/cry at the hijinks of my life. I have to live here, and now, and pray for perspective. I mean, I know that this too shall pass. I know that.

The thing is, I'm not sure what I want more:

for time to pass...

or for time to stop.

And that, I suppose- that is humanity.

photo credits: 
top photo, Valerie Davenport Photography
bottom photo, Alene Horney

Saturday, March 16, 2013

grief is tricky.

*note. I am sorry if you're coming here to read about my Smoochie girl or some other hijinks. When I sit down to write this is all that's in me. It won't last forever. But here I am. And here you are. 

There is something so lonely about grief. In a room full of people, full with heavy hearts and downcast eyes, there is an impossible kind of lacking that somehow accompanies such an overwhelming gloom. We come together; we dig through a table full of pictures; we cradle bouquets of flowers, run our fingers down the sharp crease of program papers, read the order of service and prepare our hearts for a time of weighted sorrow. We gather in crowds, in rows, in microcosms of times and places that represent a person and his life; we gather and we hold each other up in our grief, we sigh and stretch the muscles of our devastation against handshakes and hugs. We sing, we listen, we nod, we laugh, we crumple tissues against our raw noses and in our clenched fists, we swell and shrink in our tender, tired bones.

And then we leave.

We get in our cars and we drive away. Maybe we keep our programs, or maybe we don't. Maybe we cry the rest of the day, or maybe we take our kids to play at the park. Maybe we lost a friend. Or maybe we lost a brother. Or a son.
Or a husband.

There are layers of grieving, I think, even more than there are stages. For some, these layers are thin. Painful, but translucent in their presentation. For others, they are so deep, so intricate, it will take years to sort them out, a lifetime to peel them back and examine their meaning, their demands.

Some of us have leaflets.
Some of us have volumes.

Either way, grief is lonely.
And every time I get in my car and make my way home, away from Cass, away from the epicenter of my mourning, that loneliness threatens to gobble me up, quietly and completely.
It's been good to be together these last few weeks. If Jimmy left anything behind (and seriously, that guy left a lot behind) he left a trail of community that he and Cassidy have been building their entire lives. This is a testament to the impact of Jimmy's lifestyle: even in death, he is bringing people together. But still,

but still.

We have to finish this grieving by ourselves. We need each other to get through this-
we probably wouldn't survive outside of this connection of hurt-
but when the party is over and midterms are due and babies need fed and we have to see our boss on Monday morning, we will have to keep moving.

As much as I'd like the world to stop for one damn minute and let my friend melt in her sadness, let me wallow in my fears of an inadequate life and of losing anyone else I love, the world most certainly will not stop. It will spin on its unforgiving axis and stay faithful to its orbit around the sun, and time will tick on and on and on.

I want to protect Cassidy and Jim and Roseanna and Xochitl from this, somehow. I want to build a bubble that time cannot penetrate and let them grieve in peace, let them figure out just how they are supposed to live in a world where Jimmy doesn't walk beside them, or call to say goodnight, or laugh at their jokes. Let them ease into this new space that Jimmy doesn't inhabit, and let them do it at their own pace, with their own coping mechanisms in their own time.

Instead, tomorrow will come too soon.
School will come.
Work will come.
Life will come.
There is not a thing I can do about this inevitable season shifting, and for some reason
this makes me feel

Grief is tricky, you guys. It spreads like a virus, a potent and invisible line of change that settles in at a cellular level. And for me, lately, grief is an overwhelming presence that still leaves me inexplicably alone.

The hope that I have-
the hope that directs my weary prayers-
is that Jesus knows my pain. He knows the loneliness of grief more than I could ever comprehend, and He has not left me alone in this place.
He has not left Jimmy's dear family.
He has not left our Cassidy.

I cannot build a bubble around the people I love. I can't even try. But I can trust, and I WILL trust, that God will see them through this devastation. That the same God who gave us Jimmy Watts, the same God who Jimmy Watts knew and loved, has not left us. So even when grief is quiet and lonely, I am not alone. Even when grief is a sneaky painful virus, it cannot defeat the goodness of our King.

I'll try to rest in that today.

Monday, March 4, 2013

we lost Jimmy today.

We lost Jimmy today.

It's too much to comprehend. It wasn't even really today. It was a few days ago. It feels like weeks since we heard the news. Eons. But instead it's only been a day or two.

It can't be true, of course, because Jimmy was young. Jimmy was beautiful. Jimmy was everything everyone needed, all the time. Jimmy was damn near perfect.

As we cry, weep, hold our faces and clutch our aching chests, we try to think of things that will make this less painful. Less tragic. He must have some terrible flaws that make his leaving a little less horrifying, we say, half kidding, half hoping.

But all we can think of, the only truth, is that Jimmy walked this earth the way we all ought to walk: with God as his guide. With courage. With humility. With a heart that changed lives, never running out of grace or kindness. With a brilliant mind, working through problems with patience and commitment. But most of all,

but MOST of all,

with love.

Jimmy and Cassidy have loved each other for so long that separating them, even in my mind, feels like trying to pull apart the moon and the sun. Technically, we can't see one without the other. It won't exist.

But exist Cassidy must. Jimmy or no.

And that's the crux of it here, isn't it?

We are still here. Jimmy is gone, but we are still here.
And that hurts.
It hurts the deepest, sweetest part of us. It scrapes up against the tender underside of our hearts, that corner of being where we hide our nightmares and guard our dreams. It hurts because it's not how we imagined the future, where Cass and Jim were still married, where Cass and Jim finished graduate school at Columbia, where Jimmy was a doctor and Cassidy a social worker and they lived in a hut, in a tribe, serving and saving, because that was their dream. Those two were saving the world together.

Of all the dreams to lose, that's the one we lost today.

We love Jimmy. We love him because he so easily moved through our lives. We love him because his laugh filled a room. We love him because he listened when we spoke. We love him because although he lived an amazing life, he did not know how amazing he was to us. We love him because he honestly, genuinely, without question, loved us. He changed the people he met, whether through one conversation or a lifetime of friendship. Jimmy Watts loved with everything he had to offer, and he did it with ease. God used Jimmy Watts to make a difference. And that difference does not diminish with his passing.

It's just the beginning of a terrible time here, for us, without Jimmy. It's darker now. It's quieter. That avalanche swept away a light that shone bright across the globe, and left a path of sorrow too wide to berth at the moment. So we won't even try.
We just know that we lost Jimmy today.
And that's all we really have room to hold right now.

We love you, Jimmy. We miss you so badly.
We love you with all of our being, Cassidy Jo.                   

We hold onto the hope of tomorrow, and the light of Jesus. 

 And we hold onto love. Just like Jimmy did.