A daily...meh, weekly dose of babies, reality, and love.
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Monday, August 25, 2014

hey girl, relax.

I was worried, you know, about Clara's birthday. 
I felt guilty for not throwing her a fun party with her fun little friends, 
even though I knew
she would have been stressed with that kind of attention from a crowd.
I just wanted her birthday to be wonderful,
and exciting, 
and I wanted her to know, somehow, some way, 
how immensely she is loved. 
If only I could plan the most perfect day, 
then she would know how much she means to us. 

Then the day came and still, 
I had no good plans. 
We couldn't go far because Sam was on call,
so our options were limited on activities.
What, what, what could we do to celebrate our daughter
in the biggest brightest way? 

I was worried. 

But then, 
of course, 
because Grandmas know best (like we've discussed)
Clara's Nona reminded me that 
all it takes to make Clara happy is,
of course,
And her dad.
And her little brother.
You throw in a few new story books, princess high heels from her useless aunts,
and a birthday card that sings and shakes? 

She thinks the world could not be a better place. 
This two year old of mine, she knows what she likes. 
I gotta relax.

For a few weeks,
every time we asked Clara what she wanted for her birthday, she said, 
"I want a purple happy cake, mama."

Confession: We had no idea what that meant. 
We also did not know that she knew her colors (thanks, Bubble Guppies). 

But I did my best.
I made that thing with a lot of love. 
(And butter and sugar).
And she loved her purple happy cake. 
And we love her. 

This picture is a reminder to me that when I want 
and I want 
and I think that somehow, some way,
I can make everything alright in this world if I just try hard enough, 

I gotta relax.
'Cause usually, 
it's simple.
All I need to give is
 the love and effort and time it takes 
to build a purple birthday cake. 

Have a good week, friends. Be kind to each other, and to yourselves.
Even if it's hard, 
at least it's simple. 


high heels. perfect. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Clara is two! So I made a video, obviously.

Two years ago I knelt face down across the bed in labor and delivery room number 3 and groaned to my nurse,

"I cannot do this. I will never have this baby! I don't know how to do this!"

She said,
Yes you can. Look at you. See? You are doing it right now! You already knew how, you just didn't know it yet.

Motherhood, right?
We are moaning and groaning because we do not know how to do this, but look!

We are doing it right now. Moment by moment, breath by breath,
we are doing it.

Clara Horney, you have brightened every single day of my last two years. You made me look at myself in ways I never imagined, you dragged me through the darkest of nights, you surprised me again and again with the parts of you that are so separate from me and so very much YOU.

And you made me a mother. What a joy you are to all of us! What a presence! What a gift!

Happy Birthday, Smoochie my love. Happy Happy Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

so you wanna go back to school.

Amanda, best friend since the day she came into the world 3 months after I did, is going back to college after almost a decade away. She always wanted to be a teacher, and dreams of having her own classroom of elementary school kids. Amanda is the kind of person who makes you believe in pure hearts. In our 28 years together, never have I ever seen her be mean or hurtful. Like, EVER. She should be canonized as the matron saint of kindness and patience, especially because she is surrounded by demanding people.

Like me.
And her husband (Hi Clint :).  

And her 4 kids. 
Ages five and under. 

Yeah, you read that right. Amanda is going back to college with a one year old, a two year old, a four year old and a five year old. I hope you are swelling with admiration like I am, because isn't she incredible? She truly has every reason to wait, to put off school a little longer or maybe even forever, but she's doing it. She and Clint are making this happen, she's going back and she's finishing her degree and she's going to be the kind of teacher who kids thank in their high school graduation speeches with grateful tears in their eyes. 

So! In honor of Amanda! 

To all of the moms and dads who are taking that brave risk to follow their dreams and march back into the classroom after many years away, whether to finish or to start, for undergrad or post grad, I wanted to make a list of hard-earned tips. I was only a mother the last year of my college education, but I was taking full time classes, lugging a breast pump around campus, and working at the same time, so I understand the madness that is living a million lives at once. 

Here are the 10 things I think you should know about going back to school as a parent. 

1. Don't procrastinate. 
DON'T PROCRASTINATE. DON'T PROCRASTINATE. Because as soon as you decide to finish your paper the night before it's due, YOUR KIDS WILL GET SICK. Or your baby sitter will cancel, or your basement will flood, or your son's soccer game will move times or your daughter will "remember" that her play auditions are actually tonight or your baby will decide to get 4 teeth in one night from hell. The world will inevitably rise up against you and your best intentions. 

Cut your stress by half; do your work the very first moment you have time to do it. Trust me. 

2. Always be ready the night before. 
Pack lunches (including yours!), pack bags, set your coffee timer, lay out clothes, and print your paper. Don't go to bed until every single thing is ready for the morning dash. Every single thing. 

3. Keep back up babysitters. 
Ask 2-3 people who can’t necessarily help every week, if they would be willing to stay on your emergency call list. Believe me, you’ll use them. 

4. Use your crock pot
And your spouse. And Costco pizzas. While you might need to dissect a Dostoevsky novel or memorize the stages of mitosis, your kids will just need to eat. And so do you. Plan ahead. Use your crock pot so dinner is ready as soon as you walk in the door. Make your spouse cook if they get home first. Do you have older kids? They can feed themselves. Or help feed everyone. A parent in school means everyone is in school, and it’s an absolute team effort to get to that cap and gown. 

5. You have Parent Powers
You might feel old, or out of place, or overwhelmed, but I have a secret for you. You’re probably the wisest person sitting in that lecture hall. Sure, it’s nice to be a selfish 20 year old without a spouse or children, doing whatever the hell you want all the time. But as a parent, you have more life and wisdom on your side than any of those idiot kids checking their Facebook during class. Carry that with confidence, and know that what you bring to the discussion or the classroom is invaluable.

6. Get drinks after class. 
Yes, YES of course you have little people waiting at home for you. But don't waste an opportunity to make new friends or make connections with other students or professors. Go get a drink if you have a minute. I'm not saying you need to ask your baby sitter to come pick you up after a bender at the freshman dorms (please don't do that) but yeah, man. Go get a drink with your post modern Lit study group. This is college, not a convent.

No one knows your schedule but you. I remember feeling so torn when Sam wanted to go to dinner or stay up late hanging out, but I had an assignment due the next morning. The thing is, you have to advocate for your own time. You have to be willing to say no, because no one else knows what you have written in your planner or hanging over your head. Be your own time keeper; get it done, you hustler you. 

8. TV is not your friend.
Neither is Facebook or Pinterest or the novel you want to read. You have two big jobs right now: raising your kids and going to school. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for anything else. But it’s just a season! You will have free time again, and barely remember being so consumed with this academic work. But for now? Take it from me, time-waster heavy weight champion of the world: your time is a precious commodity. Use it wisely. 

9. That being said, remember that it’s just school.
Part of the gift of parenthood as a student is the perspective it allows you. Getting an 85 on a paper after you’ve been up every night this week with puking kids? That’s AMAZING. It’s just school. Do your best. And give yourself grace. And give yourself a break when you can get one. Go for a run, take a hot shower, buy a new sweater, or just lay face down on your bed moaning until you feel better. Release the stress and then keep on going! 

10. Enjoy your time at school! And also? Don't be a martyr. 
I had a hard time with this one. Clara was my first baby and it killed me every single time I had to leave her with other people. I felt guilty, I felt stressed, and I felt like no one in the whole world had as much on their plate as I did. This was not/will never be true. Clara survived, and so did I. Look, it's hard going to school with kids- especially young kids. This juncture in your life will be complicated, with no free time and lots going on. But listen,

you are sitting in one of the most privileged spots in the world. 


You are getting an education that many people can only dream about. This education is a gift. To you. To your family.

And most of all, to those kids who are watching you slug it out over homework that's making you cry. So, ok,
You might not make every game or recital for a while.
You might not be able to give them all your attention. 

But someday, when they want to quit something because it’s just too hard; when they wonder why they should keep trying when the sky seems to be falling;

they will remember the hard stuff you did. And they’ll keep going. Because that perseverance you’re showing right now? 

It’s in their blood and it’s in their memories and it is becoming a proud line in your family's story.

You can do this. 
I believe in you. So much! 

You got this, moms and dads.
You got this.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

two is good.

It's so weird to not be signed up for fall classes. I love going to school. I love walking to campus beside the river, I love class discussions, I love writing stories and papers, I love meeting interesting people and intelligent professors. I get a real school boner, actually, and it's hard (ha ha) to know I won't be joining the masses of students on their way to class next week. To lose what's become not only a part of my identity, student, but also where most of my time was spent; it's disorienting.

Last year at this time I was 20 weeks pregnant with Sammy, still nursing an 11 month old Clara, in school full time for my last semester before graduation, and directing a musical that I wrote for an elementary school. Sam was gone 16 days every month and if weren't for my sisters, I would have fallen apart. And while I understand that LOTS of other people have lives that are MUCH more difficult- believe me, I understand and appreciate that greatly- for me, this last year was simply one foot in front of the other. I've thought a lot about darkness during this time, wondering when the Lord would lead me out of this tight cocoon of survival and show me what waited on the other side. And... dare I say? I think it's here. I think we are in a season of sunny days and grateful hearts and it. is. so. good.

Clara can communicate just about everything she is thinking, which has taken my stress level with her to almost zero. She is speaking in sentences, her vocabulary is exploding, and every single day Sam and I laugh in amazement at what she's saying to us. I can't begin to tell you what a difference this is making in my relationship with her. I think I'm not much of a "one-year old" person. That was not my gig. But two year olds? With their language development and voracity for new experiences and their (albeit often explosive) personalities shining through? Two is good. Two is fun. Two is baking pies together and carrying on real conversations and lots of "Mama! Hurry! Look, I did it!" grinning announcements. And I'm digging it.

Last week I met my sister and her kids at a coffee shop. We were planning on getting coffee for us and treats for our little gang of kids and then walking to the library, but it was raining hard outside and we didn't feel like wrangling them through the downpour. So we split up and I took my two on a downtown adventure. I haven't done many days like that one, with just me and the kids, because I prefer to be with other grown ups when we go out. I get nervous taking Sammy and Clara out by myself, isn't that weird? I'm always worried it won't go well.

 But this day? It was sort of an ace. A snapshot of life at the moment. We found a used book store in which a man was walking around with his chiahuahua on his shoulder like a parrot, and room after room was stuffed with crooked bookshelves up to the ceilings (charming, fire hazard - potato, potahtoe). We wandered through an antique shop, its corners stacked with treasures like marbled globes and yellow bird cages. We took 3 different bathroom breaks, bought a copy of Five Little Peppers (a childhood favorite I was SO HAPPY to find it) and my heart sang a quiet song of thankfulness for these days with my two babies. They won't both fit in a stroller for much longer. We won't always spend our days just the three of us, their childhood a handful of sand that I can't quite keep from slipping through my fingers. It's going, you know, life is just going and going and while last year was exhausting-

really exhausting-

this new season is blowing over me like a balmy breeze.
I am finding rest here.
I am finding peace in the going and peace in the staying.
And it's good.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

ice water challenge.

Here's my problem with the current social media trend of dumping a bucket of ice water on your head to raise awareness for ALS:

It can only escalate from here.

What will we be recording ourselves doing next summer?

Dipping our hands in boiling water for prostate cancer?
Cliff diving for Alzheimer's?
Crossing the highway blindfolded for AIDS?
Slapping our grandmothers to raise awareness for osteoporosis?

Just donate some money to a group or a problem that is close to your heart, I say.

Or donate a little money, and then make a video out of peer pressure.
It's for a good cause, you guys.
And also a national wet t-shirt contest. #holla