Monday, December 26, 2011

Just a moment


It is the end of the holiday weekend. The Christmas presents are put away. Bacon is frying for the BLT's. (We are always frying bacon for something.) Margaret dances around my feet, first to Mary Poppins and then to Sleeping Beauty and then to COWGIRL MUSIC, MOMMY! Her twirls are all long and slow and her eyes are always closed.  I dance with her. Viola is swinging and cooing and reminding me that love is an ever expanding, star shined, sort of thing. Riley goes back to work tomorrow.

We will miss him.

For just a moment they are all here and all mine.

Years from now when the babies are gone and life is more complicated, I hope they think of this. Of our little kitchen and our big love. Of princess dressed dances and a Daddy that would rather be here than anywhere else. I hope they know that I was born to love them and that it was enough for me. I hope the smell of frying bacon always brings them home.

Even if it is just for a moment.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We Do Exist!

Riley and I aren't great parents. The evidence of this is abundant. Margaret's hair is rarely (read never) brushed. She has also started watching the music video for Grace Potter's, Paris (Oh la la) song obsessively. (Hello two year old. Want to shake it to some rock music along with girls in fishnets? Be.My.Guest.) Sometimes we take Viola outside without socks on. Ice cream for breakfast is a regular occurence.

The worst offence by far, however, the one that will land all of our kids in therapy, is that we never, ever, EVER take pictures. Our lives are lovely. There are smiles and tears and dancing in the kitchen. And absolutely no physical evidence that any of it ever happens.

Enter Justin Hackworth. A photographer that weilds his lens the way Monet rocked a paintbrush. High praise. Yeah. Deserved? Hell Heck, yeah.

Justin came to our house. Made Margaret fall in love with him. (I LOVE JUSTIN! CAN I HUG HIM??) Took our pictures. And left Riley and I feeling like the best parents in the world. Did you see all those photograph's we just had taken of our family? We are parents. Hear us roar.

Yesterday we met with Mr. Hackworth to go over the moments he had captured in our purple walled home. It was all just perfect.  I bawled like a big, snotty baby. After the presentation, we sat down to look over prices. (Side note: All of Justin's prices are beyond reasonable. It just so happens that Riley and I are in a point of our life where a visit to the dollar menu can wipe out our bank account. Oh, McNuggets, how I miss thee.) I sat there, looking at the numbers, trying to figure out how we could afford two 8 x 10's. (You know how it goes...Maybe if we eat only eggs for the next three weeks. And I only eat two meals a day. And I sell my hair.) When Riley looks at me, looks at Justin and says, We'll take that one. That one. The package I didn't even look at because it was several, several, SEVERAL weeks worth of dollar menu purchases. The one that allowed us to have every precious instant that Justin captured. The one that we would get someday, when we were richer, skinnier, healthier, and reading only russian literature.

I started crying again.

As we walked to our car, Riley held my hand.

Are you sure?

Yeah, Meggi. I am sure. Those are the kinds of things we should spend money on.

I married a smart guy.

( I will skip the part of the story where we canceled, reconsidered, canceled, and finally decided to still do it. It was like the worst game of telephone, ever. Justin was very patient.)







Much better than chicken nuggets.

Monday, December 12, 2011

It Will Have to Do

                                                                Oh. Tannenbaum.

Margaret is asleep. Little Miss Viola Honey is cooing next to me and the house is clean. Well. All the clutter is shoved in closets and under beds. So. The house is basically clean. Our little Christmas tree glows against our purple walls and I think about my girls. They have come to a crazy little woman. I never finish anything. My personality tends to the flighty. I mean everything I promise. And get around to about thirty percent of it. My tastes are well, eclectic. The last time I was really proud of an outfit my mom said I looked like,

"a homeless woman. But, you know, one that had happened upon a bin of really expensive mismatched clothes."

Thank you?

 I want to give these two darlings the whole world, but around here a successful morning is one where I have been able to find a pair of socks for each of us. (Much harder than you would think.)

Christmas, while joyful and colorful and magical, is also brimming with feelings of inadequacy. I so want to be that family. You know the one. From November 1st to December 31st their house would make the North Pole envious. Their homemade caramel never burns and the kids aren't crying in their Christmas card picture.  The family with carol singing and  traditions the children still love when they are eighty and their children's children are having babies. My house is usually too filled with diapers to stir up any feeling, except maybe a desire for a bigger trash can. I can't make rice without burning it black, so attempting homemade caramel might border on the insane. And Margaret cries everytime someone points a camera at her. We do sing carols. And I am inordinately proud of that. As for traditions? I want to give my children traditions. Little bits of stability and safety they can retreat to when they are adults and the world is a little less friendly. There have been attempts. Most of which involve me losing, breaking or forgetting the most important part. Head in my hands, I know. The woman who cannot keep her children in socks is unlikely to be a woman that keeps traditions.

Yesterday, my lovely husband reminded me of a couple of verses in Matthew,

Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment.

Sweet relief. The first and great commandment from our Heavenly Father, the creator of the universe, of stars and space and light and me, is about love. And honey, I know how to love. That is something I can give these little souls He sent my way. And give in abundance. The caramel making they will have to learn from someone else.

Traditions? Maybe next year. This Christmas, love and a viewing of It's a Wonderful Life will just have to be enough.

I think it is.

Postscript. I burned two grilled cheese sandwiches while writing this post. Typical.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fly

Riley and Margaret play this game. He sits on the floor of our bedroom. She stands in the middle of our bed. Jumping. Jumping. Jumping. Running leap and YEAH, DADDY CAUGHT ME!

It is a great game, rarely ends in tears and tires her out beautifully for bed. Last night I went in and sat with them while she flew through the air. Viola was cuddled in my arms, smiling like she knew she should. Margaret loved it. OH, MOMMY, LOOK AT HER. SHE LOVES IT! SHE LOVES ME! SHE LOVES YOU!

Jumping. Jumping. Jumping. Running leap and....I noticed something. When Margaret jumps into the air, she never looks down. The darling girl looks at me, at herself in the mirror or up at the ceiling. But she never once looked at Riley, at the floor, at the places she could fall.

Riley and I have been discussing some big things. It is one of the reasons I married him. There are some dreams so big it takes two people to dream them. Cheesy? Sure. True and lovely? Absolutely. Also...a little scary.

I think I will learn from Margaret. Time to leap without looking down. Time to forget about the places I can fall.

Jumping. Jumping. Jumping. Running leap and....

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Stay Awake...or don't.

Viola slept through the night. For the third night out of the last four. Darling, remind me of this when you are sixteen and I will buy you a car. Any.Car.You.Want.

Really.

Margaret is sick. For the tenth day out of the last fourteen. She was up all night last night. Crying, not breathing, crying some more. At some point she started pointing at her face while yelling...MY EYES! MY EYES! I am not going to lie, it was a a little creepy. The little girl fell asleep around 4:30am. And woke up at 5:41am. Honey, I would suggest that you never remind me of this. Even then...you still may not be getting a car. Sleep tonight and perhaps we can figure something out.

Margaret's favorite sleepy song is Stay Awake from Mary Poppins. It has been playing on loop for the past two hours and the girl is still wide eyed. She might be taking it a little literally.

Me? I am ready for a nap.


Just in case you need a little soothing yourself

Monday, December 5, 2011

Just a tear or two (or three or four or....)

Weekends can be hectic. Poor Riley. I often try to squeeze a weeks worth of activities into two days. Some sort of grand tour off all the things he missed while he was at work during the week. It can seem like a punishment. Naps are skipped. Tears. Snacks forgotten. Tears. Primetime football games missed. Tears. (I will leave it up to the reader to decide which tears belong to little Margaret and which belong to Riley.)

Saturday we went to a church Christmas breakfast, a friends birthday party, and the Utah Festival of Trees. The Christmas breakfast was a good excuse to eat my years' quota of hashbrowns and cheese. The birthday party was a six year olds dream, pizza making and balloon popping. (Margaret was devastated during the balloon popping portion...MOMMY! BALLOONS ARE BEAUTIFUL! WHY? WHY? Viola just seemed mildly annoyed.) We stopped for a bit at the grandparents house where Margaret napped and then had a psychotic break due to low blood sugar. Epic, record breaking crying. Riley thought perhaps that should signal the end of our day...I knew better. On to the next adventure! The Festival of Trees is a lovely, heart breaking, necessary kind of thing. Each year hundreds of people from across the state decorate trees that are auctioned off to benefit Primary Children's Hospital. Most of the trees are done as a memorial to people who have died, many of them children. Dozens of Thomas the Train, ballerina, and princess trees, each one next to a picture of the child they remembered.  Margaret couldn't figure out why the GORGEOUS (her new word) christmas trees made mommy sad. There were just too many of them. We will go every year.

Yesterday was church and a family gathering. BLT's and deviled eggs and butternut squash cream soup spiked with green chile. (My Dad the chef...no two bit burgers for him.) Lot's of kids. Some tears. More laughter. Both from Margaret. We got home just in time to see the last ten minutes of Natalie Cole and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir perform on PBS. Pajama's. Margaret and I on the couch. Viola cuddled up with Riley on the rocking chair. Ms. Cole sang with her eyes closed, the choir's voices soared and Riley looked at me.

I love you.

I love you, too.

This time the tears were mine.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

You are what you...

Classy.

Someone once said that you know who you are by the things that you want.

Okay. I just made that up. It just seems like something somebody would say, a phrase heard in a freshman survey course. Corny, but probably true. As I have changed, so have the things I want. When I was seven, I needed to be Nancy Drew (Okay, that one never went away). By twelve, I wanted clear skin and even bigger bangs. Charlie's Angels came out my freshman year of high school and Ray Ban celebrated with Angels branded sunglasses. They were blue and covered in crystals. I could not live without them. By college, my wants had expanded with my horizons. They included a graduate degree in Russian fairy tales, the contents of every Anthropologie catalogue, and a blue eyed man in a house with a wrap around porch. I have gotten many of the things my little heart desired. My bangs reached epic proportions with the help of a round brush and steel determination. I wore those Charlie's Angels sunglasses faithfully...until I broke them. And that blue eyed man? He is sitting next to me holding our blue eyed little girl.

Today was a long day. Margaret has a chest rattling cough. Viola's acid reflux is an unwanted visitor. Riley came home from work just long enough to eat dinner and then left to do volunteer work at church. Days like today I put the kids to bed, turn on the computer and disappear in a few minutes of wishful thinking. In the past I have planned fantasy vacations, compiled Vogue worthy wardrobes, and researched the most expensive first editions of works by my favorite authors.

Today. Today, I looked at every food oriented gift basket on Costco.com. Cheeses, cured meats, chocolate covered macadamia nuts, the occasional dried fruit, all of it encased in the finest leather covered wood crates a warehouse store can offer. I took a half hour and scrolled through six pages of faux gourmet foods in tins. Each one more coveted than the next.

Someone once said that you know who you are by the things that you want. And I want a basket full of cheese, sausage and cookies.

Yeah.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Last Week


Last week.

Monday I was retching from the flu for ten straight hours.

Tuesday I felt much better and went shopping with two kids for Thanksgiving dinner...for 32 people. (Mom and Dad paid.) I was especially excited about the ingredients for the root vegetable soup I was making. Margaret only hit me once. Then she said sorry...after my mom bought her candy.

Wednesday my sisters and I baked pies from dawn until dusk. Riley made the pecan and pumpkin filling. He looks good with a whisk. I also roasted the vegetables for my root vegetable soup.

Thursday the sisters and I started cooking at 7 am and kept at it until 5 pm when dinner was served, starting of course with my root vegetable soup. My Dad said it tasted, "healthy. You know...like something you would eat if you needed help with your digestion." The rest of the meal was much better....and easily digested after all that root vegetable soup. Riley tried to take pictures of my very first Thanksgiving, but I left the camera in the diaper bag and it took a bath in baby formula. The camera he just got me. The one I just figured out how to use. The one we couldn't afford in the first place. I.felt.awful. Still do. I always ruin nice things. He gave me a hug and we went home.

Friday my brother, sister and nephew got the flu.

Saturday the family went Christmas shopping and got home just in time for my other sister to get the flu.

Yesterday my brother in law woke up with flu hours before his drive home. We went to church and came home to a messy house and The Next Iron Chef reruns.

This week.

I am going to clean the house. Decorate. Take family photographs with this guy. Bake. Introduce Margaret to Santa. Bake. Cuddle with my Violababy. Bake. Figure out how to pay for my camera to be fixed. Make out with Riley like it's cold outside. Bake.

.....

And not get the flu.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Motivation


It is Monday morning and we are emerging from QUITE the weekend. Margaret is recovering from the flu. I am recovering from Margaret having the flu. Our lovely little house is just under 900 square feet. At one point or another every inch of it was covered in vomit. Apparently throwing up in a bowl or toilet is just a little too bourgeois for the little girl. My bed? Perfect. The kitchen table? Sure. The green chair from Pottery Barn...the one worth almost as much as her little life? It became the canvas of choice for her postmodern puke masterpiece. 

It was a long 24 hours.

Threat of joy killing flu aside, this week should be a marked improvement on the last two days. Family, Thanksgiving, Christmas shopping, Riley home for a five day weekend. Bliss.

Bliss, especially when accompanied by a Thanksgiving dinner for twenty-five, can be a lot of work. And this morning I am just feeling a little less than motivated. There are many cures for this condition. Some women go running, others listen to cheesy girl power music, even more still sit down with a bowl of ice cream and simply wait the feeling out (Chocolate Peanut Butter Haagan-Dazs is especially effective). Lately, Riley and I have found another way to get pumped for the things that fill our days.

The Drew Brees Pre-Game Chant.

We shout this back and forth to each other while making breakfast, changing diapers, and driving to work. Margaret is so embarrassed of us.

Watch the video. Feel the power.



Let me break it down for you....

ONE, TWO! WIN! FOR YOU!

THREE, FOUR! WIN! SOME MORE!

FIVE, SIX! WIN! FOR KICKS!

SEVEN, EIGHT! WIN! IT'S GREAT!

NINE, TEN! WIN! AGAIN! WIN! AGAIN! WIN! AGAIN!

Ridiculous. Elementary. Derivative.

I don't care. It totally makes me feel like I can take on the world.

Bring on the holidays. I smell greatness.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Worth it



These girls.

So cute I can almost forget every sleepless night, Wonderpets marathon and ruined silk dress.

Almost.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

You Better Watch Out...


Christmas is just around the corner and Riley and I have already spent several months worth of grocery money on presents. It is excessive. Unnecessary. Potentially damaging. And I totally know it.

Megan! Don't you see the error of your ways? No? Here, let me list them for you...
  • My children will probably never know the worth of a hard earned dollar.
  • Too many toys result in over stimulation
  • Mass produced products have no soul. Now, a set of brown, Swedish inspired blocks...there is soul! There is a world of imagination!
  • America's consumer culture creates mall zombies and buying two dolls instead of one contributes to the creation of more zombies
Here is the thing. I think about our little Christmas tree sparkling and lovely and almost hidden by all the wrapped gifts that surround it...and then I think about all the reasons that we should practice frugality, reason, restraint and....I just can't get myself to care. Besides I have always wondered whether I had the resources to survive a zombie attack. Only one way to find out.

Cookies and wrapping and candy canes the size of my head aside, this Christmas is going to be lovely because it is the first time that Margaret has been interested in understanding Santa Claus and the birth of our Savior. Sure, Santa Claus is a fleeting bit of childhood magic. He is unimportant when compared to the soul sustaining truth of the birth of Jesus Christ. Still, Riley and I have had so much fun teaching the little smidget about both of them. I thought we had done a pretty good job, too.

The Parents (that's us): Margaret! What happens at Christmas?

Margaret: SANTA CLAUS IS COMING!

The Parents: Margaret! Why do we have Christmas?

Margaret: IT'S JESUS' BIRTHDAY!

What do you do when you teach your kid something new? Make them perform in front of strangers, of course. A couple of days ago the check out lady at the grocery store asked me if Margaret was excited about Christmas. Oh, you bet! Here, listen to this...

Me: Margaret! Tell the nice lady what happens at Christmas!

Margaret, in her loudest, most assured voice: JESUS IS COMING!!!

Yeah. She might as well have had on a tiny little sandwich board that read, "The end is near."  The lady handed me my change with a nervous smile and we headed out the door. I am sure she spent the rest of the day worried about the curly headed two year old that must live on a compound somewhere with her crazy parents.

No big deal. We have six more weeks to help her distinguish the differences between the myths and truths of the holiday season. Also ... six more weeks to buy gifts.

We better get a bigger tree.

Monday, November 14, 2011

One Bite at a Time


My daughter, the one that walks and talks, is afraid of everything. It is quite a process, becoming afraid of everything. At first it was just the neighbors' chickens and large dogs. Then dragons and the wind and anybody who tries to hug her when she is tired, hungry or already scared of something else. The list of terrors is long and varied. She lives in a world in which anything is possible. There are fairies and princesses that live happily ever after. There are also goblins and wicked stepmothers and poison apples.

I try to be compassionate but there are times when the ridiculousness of her phobias is only matched by the extremity of her reactions. Take last week. I had been in the house for 48 consecutive hours. Viola couldn't stop crying. Margaret had memorized all of Rapunzel's lines from Tangled. It was time to get out. Time to go to Target. Halfway there I realized I hadn't brushed Margaret's teeth. Or her hair. Or mine. Viola's crying got just this much louder. And I was flipped off on State Street because I was only driving 20 miles per hour. (You try opening a granola bar for a hungry two year old while driving with a screaming infant, Mr. Honda Accord. IT.IS.HARD.) We pulled into the Target parking lot and I began to relax. I was about to imprison my kids in a shopping cart, distract my toddler with junk food and window shop for things I can almost afford. Not too bad. The relaxation was short lived. The minute I got Margaret out of the car she began to scream. Piercing, there is a rabid dog biting my leg and he won't let go screaming.

Me: Zuzu, Margaret! Honey what is wrong?

Margaret, pointing to a flock of seagulls a few cars away: Birds! Birds, Mommy! They are going to get me! THEY ARE EVERYWHERE!

Birds. Are. Everywhere. Truer words may never have been spoken. It took a bag of popcorn, two cups of chocolate milk and a new sparkle bracelet to help her overcome that one.

That night after baths and story time and prayers, I thought about my little scared girl in her little princess bed. Sat outside her door and laughed for her simple fears. I didn't laugh long. It struck me that baby girl and I are not so different. I am laced with apprehension. Afraid of so many things, nearly all of them taken seriously and nearly all of them as harmless as a bunch of seagulls.

A few irrational things that scare me, intimidate me or generally make me nervous:

Stick shifts

French cooking (Julia Child wants me to do WHAT to which part of the RAW, dead chicken?)

Sewing (Maybe this doesn't intimidate me so much as bore me to death...either way, very scary.)

Wearing a bathing suit without a cover up

Losing my hair (Because I swear more and more comes out in the shower every week)

Being just a Mom

Forgetting that there is nothing I would rather be than a Mom

Purple hued lipstick (I don't care what Drew Barrymore says...it just doesn't look right.)

Disappointing Riley

Women my own age ( Because they must be judging me, or leaving me out, or just inviting me to do things because they feel bad for me, or....)

Death by: Plane crash, car wreck, earthquake, premature burial, drowning, snake bite, spider bite, shark bite...basically any kind of bite.

I went back into Zuzu's room and smoothed the curls away from her face. My little girl wakes up smiling every morning and eats a big bowl of grape nuts. Eats that cereal like she doesn't have a care in her little head. Like there isn't a world full of goblins and wind and BIRDS just outside our door. One huge bite at a time. That takes a pretty brave soul.

I don't know that our fears ever become more reasoned or mature. Maybe I will always be afraid. Always have to push past insecurity and trepidation. Maybe.

I do know that I will wake up smiling. And I will eat a big bowl of grape nuts like there isn't a shadow that could darken my day.

One huge bite at a time.



Thursday, November 10, 2011

The things we carry



I remember the globe that sat on my teacher's desk in the second grade. A light blue ball, smudged with the dirt from a hundred grubby hands. Crossed with lines the teacher called "Longitude" and "Latitude", it was an exotic addition to our brown walled classroom. I loved running my fingers over the primary colored continents, lingering on the raised surfaces of mountain ranges. When the teacher wasn't looking, I would spin the earth on its metal axis until the colors and continents blurred and for just a moment the world, the whole wide world, didn't seem all that big.

Things change. It takes a little more than a public school issued globe to catch my fancy now. Latitude and longitude became pedestrian "are you smarter than a 5th grader" concepts. And the world, that whole wide world, feels very, very big.

I have been reading a book that returns a little bit of the beauty to that old globe. Quick history lesson. Emphasis on quick. For most of the human story, man has set out across the dark deep ocean in search of land, riches and opportunity. Our myths are full of seagoers lost and seagoers found, although reality tended more to the lost part of the equation. Some were drowned in storms, others killed in battle, but most of those men, those husbands, sons and fathers, most of them never returned home simply because they could not find their way. They were lost because longitude, the lines running from the top to the bottom of my second grade world, could not be measured at sea. Without those measurements captains could only guess at where they were, only conjecture about where they were going. Shipfuls of men left the harbors of their homelands dependent on fickle luck. The question of longitude was the problem of the age.

Great men looked to the stars for answers. They searched superstition for truth. Each attempt was met with failure. Some catastrophic, some mildly embarrassing. It wasn't until the eighteenth century that a clockmaker of humble origins discovered the solution. John Harrison knew that longitude could be measured using a clock that kept precise, constant time. He knew that no such device had ever worked successfully on land, let alone in the changing environment of the ocean. He also knew he could make one. And he did. Before the end of his life, this carpenter and clockmaker had invented the marine chronometer. Sailors carried his lifes' work, a mechanism with a diameter of just inches, to sea and for the first time in history were able to determine where in this whole wide world they were.

I have been thinking quite a lot about the things I carry with me. I am not so different from those sailors that set out not knowing which way to go. This life holds uncertainty and storms. There are star filled nights and the joy of great discovery. I don't want to drift, don't want to miss where I was supposed to be by mere degrees. So what should I carry with me? The love of my family and the love I have for them. Hunger for knowledge. Desire to understand and do the things I am called to do. A sureness of who I am, a daughter of God. An ever increasing love for God and His word. Happiness and forgiveness and, above all, charity. Equipped with such things I know I can feel confident on this journey. That through them I will be given direction to joys and adventures and accomplishments I could not have had without their constancy. And after all the exploration and discovery and fulfillment, I know that they will lead me safely to harbor even more surely than John Harrison's chronometer.

I imagine it will be quite the homecoming.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon When You Take the North "Poll"

Melissa & Doug want you to tell them which of their educational toys you think is the best! Just click on the image below to place your vote in the North "Poll!" You'll Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon** to use at MelissaAndDoug.com just for voting!



Just a personal note....I think Melissa & Doug produce toys that would make the workers in Santa's workshop proud. Go Christmas!

A Red Kind of Day

look! It works for them!

This morning I woke up early. Did my hair, put on a dress and applied lipstick. Red lipstick.

Hello World...I will conquer you.

By eleven, my hair was falling out of its clips. I had been spit up on three times. I may or may not have stress spent an extra forty dollars at the grocery store. (And all of it on different kinds of crackers. Yeah. Your guess is as good as mine.) And that world conquering lipstick? Apparently, it was smeared up to my nose the entire time I was out running errands.

Blooming red makeup. Up.My.Nose. Classy.

I could call it a day. Naptime is just around the corner. There would be no shame in throwing on a pair of sweats and watching Jane Eyre for the 123rd time. ( But seriously, Mr. Fassbender...You can trick me into bigamy anytime. Any.Time.) I have done it before. Heaven knows, I will do it again.

But today. Today, I think I will put that scarlet lipstick right back on. Who knows...It might be the beginning of something absolutely lovely.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Letter of the Law

Returning from a week of illness and visiting family...I will let you decide whether there is a correlation between the two.

The kids are asleep. Ellen isn't on for another hour. And I just spent the last fifteen minutes sitting, wondering what I should do with this BRIEF time out. I once read that when you don't know what to do, you should do the work that is in front of you. Currently that is dusting, laundry and mopping. And making my bed. And cleaning the oven.

Yeah. Blogging sounds good.

It is interesting having two children in such different stages of childhood. Viola is a little piece of cake. A piece of cake that cries. But still, cake. She cuddles and coos. When she is hungry she eats. When she is tired she sleeps. There is not much hint of her personality yet, so while mildly  boring, she is also incredibly easy. (Viola, yes I did just call you boring on a website accessible to everyone. This and many  other things I do and say may put you into therapy someday. I will pay for the sessions myself. You're welcome.)

Margaret will be three in February. How to put this? She does not suffer from an absence of personality. She is funny and sweet and incredibly intelligent. Her memory borders on the photographic, she can recite most of the books we read together. She can also throw herself down on the floor and scream until she is hoarse. It is statistically proven that 20% of childless people that hear that scream decide to remain permanently without progeny. It just happened today at Kohl's. I know that some of the women in that store saw her and decided a life of sleepful nights, shopping and perky breasts trumped motherhood by a mile. I don't know whether to apologize or expect thank you notes.

Margaret has discovered the fine art of coloring. Coloring on the wall. On her kitchen. On her hands. If I were a better mother I would say she was an artist at heart. Look at my daughter the artist! The world is her canvas! I, however, have never claimed to be a good mother. And her scribbles are ugly. So the coloring on the wall business is a problem. Last week Riley had a long talk with her. We draw on paper, We draw in our coloring books. We don't color on the play kitchen and we don't color on our hands. She dutifully repeated after him, " We don't color on the kitchen and we don't color on our hands." OK Margaret? OK, Daddy!

He came away from the whole thing feeling pretty proud of himself.

Fast forward to yesterday. Margaret had 45 minutes of much needed quiet time in her room while I got some things done around the house. (And by got some things done around the house I mean I watched Bones. While eating peanut butter out of the jar. With my finger.)

I went to go get her when the episode quiet time was over. She was standing in the middle of her room. Shirtless. With so much ink on her arms that even Kat Von D would blush over the excess. I have never seen her look so proud.

Me: Margaret! What have you done? You drew all over your arms!

Margaret, calmly, matter of factly: Mommy. I didn't color on the kitchen. I didn't color on my hands.

Think about the premeditation. She looked at the pen. She looked at the kitchen. She looked at the pen. She looked at her hands. She looked at the pen. She looked at....Light bulb! Off comes the shirt, because Mama never said anything about coloring on arms.

The implications this has for her teenagedom are a little frightening. She does, however, seem to have a promising future as a lawyer.

Maybe then she can pay for my therapy sessions.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Ooh la la.

So it has been just over six weeks since I had the babypi. And Riley is taking me to Ruth's Chris tonight. On a date. Without the kids.

Have I mentioned it has been six weeks since I had the baby? Ahem.

This is the song I will be listening to all day to get ready for our night on the town.


Ooh la la.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

At 4 a.m.

Dear Viola,

You are six weeks old. A darling 9 pound little girl with a cotton candy tongue. Dark brown hair and eyes as blue as your lovin' daddys'. You have begun to smile and you know our voices. Sleeping, at night at least, seems to hold little appeal. You and I have a standing appointment at 4am every morning. We meet over a warm bottle and a rocking chair. Holding you in the dark of the morning is not something I am quite ready to give up. There is something special about just you and me and the stars. As I listen to your little baby sighs, I wonder who you are. What dreams were you born with and what dreams will I help you find? How will you decide to live the moments we are given on this earth? And always, how can I help you? Because little girl, I live to help you. The questions are there and the answers, the lovely, bright, happy answers will come. Until then you snuggle in closer and I bless you as only a mother can. I bless you with a family that loves you. I bless you with the life I hope for you. A life with pride of accomplishment, a man to love, a little girl to hold at 4 in the morning. I bless you with adventure and love and warmth. With hopes unhindered by fear or regret. I bless you with curiosity and desire and faith. That you will know your Heavenly Father and your divine heritage. That you won't waste the beauty I see behind those blue eyes. And I hold you and love you and in the dark it almost seems possible that I can give you all these things.

See you in a few hours.

Love,

Mama

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Creative Thinking

Virginia Woolf said, "A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction."

Just a few spaces I would not mind calling my own.





This room of my own business may be more than a couple paychecks away. A kitchen table free of cheerios will do until then.

Monday, October 24, 2011

To do list

Today I...

Drove around and ran errands for three consecutive hours
Made a pot of beans ... double the salt pork
Took Viola Honey to the Doctor, Hello Acid Reflux.
Picked up a prescription, GOODBYE Acid Reflux
Read Goodnight Moon to Margaret before her nap
Listened to Margaret cry before her nap
Caved and read Goodnight Moon to Margaret THREE more times before she finally napped
Held Viola while she cried
Held Viola while she smiled
She cried some more
Picked up Riley from work
Ate leftovers for dinner ... pizza for Margaret, corned beef and cabbage for the parents
Watched Antique Roadshow
Cried while watching Antique Roadshow...they are just so happy...How can you not cry?
Took a bath
Collapsed into a puddle of blogging, Pinterest and facebook

Tomorrow I will...

Seek my Heavenly Father first

Happiness will follow.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A good day

There are days I go to to bed knowing that I am not living my life with the fullness it deserves. Photographs have gone untaken and stories have remained unwritten. A day blooms with marvelous capacities. The potential for color and creation. Sometimes I waste that. Waste it on uncertainty, indifference and Bones re-runs. (but seriously, David Boreanaz? Sure. I'll take that.) There are days when I capture the blues and pinks and yellows. The subtleties and the stories and the loveliness. Those are good days.

A few things other people have made on what must have been good days.

                     
                                                  2012 Calendar,  Sycamore Street Press



Handmade invitations, junkaholique


Presence by Cassandra Barney


To more good days for all of us.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Birthin' that baby


When I had Margaret I was fairly uneducated about the whole birthing process. I had heard there were women that had their babies at home while a shaman chanted and the husband, children, household pets, in-laws and gardener watched. All of it followed by a hearty meal of placenta and self-righteousness. I had also heard of women that scheduled c-sections around pedicures and work meetings. Hey Doc, could you hurry it up? I think I just broke a nail. In my infinite wisdom, (hear that sarcasm?) I decided both groups of women were overthinking the whole thing.  Let's face it. Placenta tacos sound a bit exotic for me, my nails are always a mess, and I have never been able to stick to a schedule in my life. Women have been birthing babies since Eve went east of eden.  Couldn't I just show up and push the thing out?

Which is exactly what I did. I went into labor while Riley was at school...in a basement...out of cell service. So, with my contractions 5 minutes apart, I drove myself to the hospital. Please picture how pathetic I must have looked crawling alone into hospital admitting. Now multiply that by ten. Yep. You got it. A worried Riley got to the delivery room as I was being given the epidural. Just an hour later I had a nearly nine pound baby. The birth had been quick, chaotic and damaging. My family came in and cried over the little girl's loveliness and I stared at the ceiling wanting to be anywhere but there. I kept staring at ceilings for another three months. I won't argue that the labor made my postpartum worse, but it was certainly a difficult beginning.The next time things would be different.

And they were.

I chose my doctors carefully. Told them what I wanted and needed. I took the hospital tour and packed my overnight bag three weeks before the baby was due. Preparation, hello, my name is Megan. Nice to meet you. On September 10th, I went to my nephew's first birthday party. The food was good, the company was nice and my back hurt. By eleven pm my back still hurt and I had had two, count them two, contractions. Not exactly the stuff rushing to the hospital is made of. My mom was positive I was in the throes of labor. I was positive she was in the throes of crazy. For not the first time, Riley took my mom's advice over mine. So we left Margaret at Gamy and Papa's and went to the hospital. This time I got to walk into admitting with my best friend.

The next bit was quick, painful and lovely. Dilated to a six. Broken water. Contractions. Waiting for the epidural. Contractions. Waiting for the epidural. Contractions. Where the $#%& is the epidural? Oh. There it is. Much. Better. We had been in the hospital for two hours and it was time. The doctor and nurses bustled around the room setting up. Riley held my hand and we laughed. Laughed because life is consistently scary and new and bright and hopeful and inconsi stent. Laughed because we are still just kids. Laughed because there was no turning back. And because we didn't want to. Laughed because everything is just so damn much better when he is holding my hand.

 And then she was here. Didn't push once. Just laughed that little Viola Honey right out.

Perfect.

She was tiny and black haired and quiet. I held her and I knew that this is one thing women can't overthink. The women with the shaman and the women with the schedule had understood something that I had not. Perhaps they approach birth in an extreme way because it is an extreme thing. It is the future and the past. It is blood and spirit. For just a moment heaven meets earth and we get to be there. What a profound blessing.

By 6am Riley was asleep and Viola breathed steadily on my chest. I was tired and sore and just a little scared. And happy. I was happy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Harmony

Sang this song with Riley all morning while we got ready. I do the lyrics, he rocks the vocal guitar. Nerdy. Fabulous. Lucky me.

As Ms. Krauss says, I've got all this and heaven above.

Have a happy day.


Oh Atlanta, by Alison Krauss and Union Station

Monday, October 10, 2011

It doesn't take much

So...post partum depression. What a b-word, am I right?

There I will be. Having a perfectly lovely day, nothing but reasons to be happy and then suddenly the floor falls out and I can't breathe.

Take Saturday.

The weather was a cold excuse for indoor activites. We straightened up, played with the babies and read books. There was even talk of Chick-Fil-A for dinner. A day of clouds topped with fried chicken sandwiches. Yes. Please. Thank you.

However, by four o'clock, the babies, the reading, the promise of deep fried goodness on the horizon...it just wasn't enough.  Riley could sense my anxiety. I can't imagine how. It may have had something to do with the fact that I was pacing back and forth and mumbling under my breath. He suggested that I might want to get out the house. Or maybe it was more like he needed my crazy self to leave for a little while. Either way.

I wrote a shopping list, grabbed the car keys and headed east to...Harmon's. A locally owned grocery store that carries everything from poor mans potato chips to a selection of middle class hipsters french cheese. I know there are much more exclusive markets in other parts of the country. I understand that Harmon's is no Dean & Deluca. But it is what this Provo girl has, and heaven knows I will take it.

 I spent an hour wandering the aisles. Picking out the food we needed and looking at the food we can't afford. (Have you ever really immersed yourself in the world of high end pickled goods? Oh. Delicious. The decadence of a ten dollar jar of pickles is one I hope to experience in this lifetime.) The anxiety began to ease by the time I had passed the locally made sausages. The sadness got lost somewhere near the in-house bakery. By the time I reached the produce section my cart was nearly full and I felt almost human. I dawdled around the exotic fruits, pondered the purchase of kale (we really should start eating better), and finally put iceberg lettuce and a couple of apples in my basket.

And then a treat. A nice lady with a nice smile was handing out samples of a root vegetable soup. Would I like some? Oh, yes. Yes I would. She ladled the burnt orange goodness into a cup, topped it off with a goat cheese crostini and handed it to me with a, "there you go, hon." It looked like something Martha Stewart would make on a camp out. In other words, beautiful. Seriously. That plastic crostini topped cup was the fanciest thing that I had held in months. Which is embarrassing. But not nearly as embarrassing as what happened next. Root soup in hand I looked up at the woman who had given it to me, eyes welled up with tears and said, "Oh my goodness. Thank you so much. This is really just too nice." She looked terrified. I can't really blame her.

I savored that soup one mini spoon bite at a time.

I think I need to get out more often.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Royal Treatment

Today has been a simple day. Pot pie and Sleeping Beauty for Margaret. Bottles and rocking for Viola. Both kids asleep and Friday Night Lights for me. It is cold outside. Riley is at work. I am grateful. We have, as Margaret would say, "MORE THAN ENOUGH!"

More than enough warmth in our little house. More than enough food in our yellow cabinets. More than enough opportunity in the still hazy future.

And more than enough $%#& diapers.

They are everywhere. Spilling out of  the trash can, hiding under the couch, I found one behind my pillow last night. Surprise.

Viola's diapers are tiny, inoffensive things. If the waste of a human being could be cute, let me tell you...hers' is. Margaret, on the other hand. Oh.My.Goodness. At two and a half the little darling is still not interested in potty training. She has the system pretty well figured out. I can see it in her eyes every time I extol the fun, beauty, fantasticness! of using the toilet...

Sure, Mom. Like we are going to change anything. You read me all my favorite books, serve Chef Boyardee at least twice weekly and literally wipe my butt. What, pray tell, needs to be altered about this situation.

Yesterday, I brought out the big guns. A princess themed training potty. Pink, bedecked with Disney and sparkles, it even has a magical wand that chimes when you "flush." If this couldn't get Margaret to stop messing in her own pants, I honestly don't what could.

We presented the potty with the royal fanfare such a throne deserves. And.She.Loved.It. The girl was positively hysterical about the beauty of the thing. She shouted "PRINCESS POTTY!" over and over again as we set it up in the bathroom. Then she and I had a talk,

(Side note: I hate talking about bathroom related issues. I have avoided the p word, poop, for most of Margaret's life. Euphemisms have included mess, muddy and my favorite, absolute silence on the subject. I won't have any problem sitting down and talking to my kids about sex. But a candid discussion about waste? Absolutely horrifying for me.)

"Margaret, this princess potty is just for you! You are a big sister now. Do you know what big sisters do? They go poopy and peepee in the potty!"

"OH! OK, MOMMY! POOPY IN THE PRINCESS POTTY! OK!"

"Yes. So you just tell mommy when you need to go poopy or peepee and I will help you go in the potty. OK?"

"OK!"

She then proceeded to carry the potty around the house telling both the real and imaginary occupants of our home all about her beautiful new potty. After the grand tour she returned it to bathroom and sat by it...stroking it...for 15 solid minutes. By the end of the evening she had filled the inside of it with all of her treasures. It is bursting with doll shoes, puzzle pieces and play food. Let me tell you, cookies coming out of the top of a toilet, even one as glamorous as this one? Seriously disturbing.

The one thing I am certain Margaret will never allow inside her beautiful new potty?

Anything that comes out of her butt.

Maybe it is just time to invest in a bigger trash can.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

How it's done

 My baby is three weeks old and I am two days past being absolutely bonkers. Some mothers are slowly driven crazy by their children. Mine make me mental from birth. It is not entirely the darling dears' fault. My chemical make up is particularly prone to post-partum depression. Combine that tendency with sleepless nights, diaper blow outs and HOW-MUCH-WEIGHT-DO-I- STILL-NEED-TO-LOSE? and you have one notsohotso mess. Nearly a month into this two child experiment and I am finally waking up. I can smile in the mornings and haven't fallen asleep crying on the floor for DAYS! Yes. This is big and beautiful news.

Sunday was one of my last actively psycho days. By mid morning, I had pushed past the panic and sadness. The question sounding since Viola was born, HOW ARE WE GOING TO DO THIS?, had become a bit quieter. In celebration, I made a fancy breakfast. And by "fancy" I mean that hash browns were involved. The table was set and I had only broken one egg yolk. Time to eat. Of course, Viola decided she was scream-till-I-just-can't-scream-anymore hungry at the very moment I had dressed my beloved potatoes. (three shakes of salt, two from the pepper and a generous ketchup-ing.) By the time I was done feeding the baby, my egg had congealed and Margaret had been taking bites of my bacon. The hash browns, however, still looked just perfect. Yes. My baby was fed, my family had enjoyed a meal made by my hand. Who needs eggs? Who needs bacon sans two year old slobber? I have everything. Everything with a side of fried potato strings. Content, I lifted a forkful of the hash browns to my mouth and...

they were cold. Freezing. Glacial.

I got up. Threw the plate in the sink and locked myself in the bathroom for an angry cry.

How are we going to do this? How are we going to do this. How am I going to do this?

Twenty minutes and one make up application later, I emerged. Margaret was in her room, Viola was asleep and the kitchen had been cleaned. Riley was waiting for me in the front room. The poor man looked very confused. He sat next to me, pulled me into his arms and asked what was wrong. I started crying. The ugly kind - with hiccups and a runny nose.

"Don't you see?" I said, "With two kids I am really just a mom and I will be eating cold potatoes for the rest of my life." This followed by more tears. Hiccups. Snot.

Lovely.

The good - patient! - man laughed, pulled me in closer and said the most romantic thing this crazy girl has ever heard,

"Meggi, don't forget. I am here. We will take turns eating cold potatoes."

And there it was. My answer. That is how we are going to do this. We will all laugh and love. The girls, Riley and I will color the world with sidewalk chalk and read about the places we can't reach. I will remember the man I married and follow him to the bright lights he has always seen. He will remember the girl he married and give me time to write and space to dream. We will touch and make out and ahem, you know, so that for just a little while it feels like we are the only ones in the world.

 And we will take turns eating the cold potatoes.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sometimes It Swings Back

My two year old still drinks bottles. No, wait. Let me be honest. My nearly two AND A HALF year old still drinks bottles. She loves them. Little whole milk filled vessels best served "COLDIE!" and often. The little darling likes juice out of cups, chocolate milk out of cartons and water out of anything. But for my Margaret, nothing, not anything, comes close to a Dr. Brown full of the white stuff.

As any pediatrician, (or "helpful" mother), will tell you, a two year old is far too old to be enjoying the infantile excess of bottle sucking. It.Is.Simply.Not.Done. Up until recently, I have not cared about the opinions of the learned. And by not care, I mean I have lied.

Last doctors visit with Margaret:

Doctor: And I assume that she is completely off the bottle, right? And has been for some time?

Me: Oh! The bottle? Been off it so long she can't remember what one looks like.

Cue my eyes following his. Which are looking into my open diaper bag. At a bottle. Brimming with milk. Ummm. Maybe he thought it was mine?

Baby Viola will be here by next Tuesday. Margaret will be a big sister. It occured to me that maybe big sisters shouldn't be so, ahm, nipple dependent. Time for some growing up. Last Friday was the day. The day Margaret would become too big for the bottle. I had all her favorite drinks on hand. Kept her busy through her normal morning bottle and seemed to be moving beautifully past the nap milk fix. Really. It was amazing. Margaret was amazing. I, let's face it, was amazing.

And then she asked for the bottle. You know, five hundred times. And then the tears. I was, at this point, still amazing. So I pulled her into my arms and explained that she was such a big girl. And big girls don't need bottles. And I knew that change is hard. And I was so proud of her for being so brave. Come on, this was really classic, parenting-by-numbers goodness.

Her big blue eyes were just liquid with the betrayal of it all. And then, a light! OH MOMMY! I WILL FIND IT! YOU STAY! I'LL FIND BOTTLE! The next fifteen minutes the house rang with her little voice, BOTTLE! BOTTLE! WHERE ARE YOU? ARE YOU IN HERE? BOTTLE, I'LL FIND YOU!

I had a milk filled Dr. Brown in the fridge. A just in case of emergency fix. She must have seen the Vitamin D weakness in my eyes.

OH MOMMY! I KNOW. THE FRIDGE!

She triumphantly threw the fridge door thrown open, it swung wide as she squealed, I FOUND IT! GOOD GIRL! I FOUND IT!

And then. THWACK. That old door just kept right on swinging back to where it belonged, pinning my two foot addict and her fix right against the wall. The crying was pathetic.
It was a hard lesson. Sometimes what we want is out of reach. Sometimes people tell us no. So we persevere and think creatively and don't give up. And then finally, finally we get what we always wanted. Only to be squished up against the wall.

I peeled my little girl and her found treasure out from the between the beadboard and the pickles. Turned on Wonderpets and set up her up with her hard earned prize.

So my two and a half year old still drinks bottles. And my paint-by-numbers parenting is not really all that awesome. Not that the latter comes much as a surprise.

We spend our whole lives growing up. It is lovely and painful and full of doors that swing right back.

I suppose one more week of bottles can't hurt.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Present

I remember dreaming about my future when I was ten years old. I would be beautiful with hair that never got frizzy. Books would be published, literary history made. Lovely me in the lovely future would be married to a handsome man and have a family full of creative, curly headed wunderkinds. You know...typical pre pubescent princess speak. Ten year old me never imagined nine months of pregnancy, three of which would be spent waddling. Could not have envisioned a world in which my stomach was bigger than the sum of all my parts. And poor frizzy headed Meggi certainly never expected the weekly humiliation of the OB-GYN's office the last month of pregnancy.

I had my second to last appointment today and I can hear ten year old me crying all the way from 1995.

Good news first. Viola Honey seems to be doing just fine. Good heart beat. Big head. Basically everything I expect from the product of my womb.

Not as excellent. I am 37 weeks and the little munchkin is still breech, breech, breech. Trying to avoid a c section, so I am off to the hospital on Tuesday to see if we can get the Honeypi turned around. Viola's vitals will be monitored while the doctor's practice a technique called inversion and try to coax her head from under my ribs to right above my, ahem, you know. (Why a human's head has to be in either of these places only God can tell...) With all the breech talk I failed to ask my OB what exactly an inversion entails. So I made a few calls to the more educated members of my family and was given answers ranging from, "I think they use magnets" to the graphic description of how vets deal with breech horses. ( Breech horses: The words "butt" and "digging" were used more than once, as was the phrase "up to the elbow". Magnets, however, do not seem to be involved.)

Disturbing.

The wrong angle baby talk was followed by a cervical exam. I have never seen a cervical exam, but I have FELT them. Absolutely barbaric, in my opinion. We can put a man on the moon, science has unraveled DNA, somehow The View has reached 15 seasons. And still. Still! The accepted method for measuring a dilated cervix is to shove two fingers followed by an arm into a woman's, you know, and scramble around? Really?

Is *that* the best we can do?

The doctor spent, what I felt to be, an inordinately large amount of time up there. Finally, he emerged. Apparently he had to measure three times to make sure that what he was feeling was what he was feeling. (I could have told him that it was. Now, please remove your person from inside my person. Thanks.) He was so amazed that he told the nurses all about it while we were scheduling the inversion in the hall...

" A four! Dilated to a four at just 37 weeks. Just great! I mean, I wasn't sure. I had to measure a couple times." At which point, he thrust his arm into the air, two fingers extended and pantomimed the measuring of my, until then, very private cervix. "I just hope that we can get that baby turned around and take advantage of that cervix! Don't want to miss out on that opportunity!"

What could I do but agree? A fully ripened cervix is a horrible thing to waste. (Can we get that stitched on a pillow somewhere?)

I would argue that one does not know humiliation until one witnesses the dramatic re-enactment of an exam done on one's vagina.

Just one of many things in the present that ten year old me could never have imagined in the past. It's alright. Surprisingly, all the things everyone tells you are worth it are actually worth it. Sure, the future held laundry, forgotten bills and publicly pantomimed cervical exams. There have been tantrums and vomit and all nighters (and that was just from Riley). But the future also had a good man, and a sweet home and a good little girl with my frizzy hair and her daddy's eyes. Oh happiness that we get to add another little human being to our happy mess. Just two weeks.

We can't wait to make her part of our present.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Sometimes I come back.

We are in the thunder and lightening days of summer. It has been nearly three months since I wrote a thing other than a grocery list. There are many excuses. Aren't there always? Some things that were hard. Some things I made harder. A blank page was just one more thing I met with uncertainty. And avoidance. Poor, much loved, much helped, little girl. Honestly, it all seems a little bourgeois to me now.
Time to wake up, and get to work.
Briefly, before I begin again,
the summer...
There were kebabs and dance parties and fresh tomatoes. Garden planted and neglected. Lovely husband. Organized simplicity. Growing baby and belly. Depression (not mine). Visits from family. 2nd trimester sex (worth getting pregnant for). Dollar menu burgers. Margaret's unholy love for dinosaurs and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Even lovelier husband. Garden still neglected. Bigger baby, bigger belly. Riley working 60 hour weeks. Disorganized complexity. Friday Night Lights. The natural history museum (Margaret, look at the zebras! OH I LOVE IT THE ZEBRAS, MOMMY!). Third trimester sex (not.worth.it). Wonderful friends. A garden so wild it might eat the house. Depression (mine). Singing with the Zuzu. Fifth anniversary. Cornbread. Baby bigger, belly darn near obscene. That Riley, even lovelier still.
I think Fall is just the thing I need. Can't wait to see you there.

Sometimes I come back.

We are in the thunder and lightening days of summer. It has been nearly three months since I wrote a thing other than a grocery list. There are many excuses. Aren't there always? Some things that were hard. Some things I made harder. A blank page was just one more thing I met with uncertainty. And avoidance. Poor, much loved, much helped, little girl. Honestly, it all seems a little bourgeois to me now.

Time to wake up, and get to work.

Briefly, before I begin again,

the summer...
There were kebabs and dance parties and fresh tomatoes. Garden planted and neglected. Lovely husband. Organized simplicity. Growing baby and belly. Depression (not mine). Visits from family. 2nd trimester sex (worth getting pregnant for). Dollar menu burgers. Margaret's unholy love for dinosaurs and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. Even lovelier husband. Garden still neglected. Bigger baby, bigger belly. Riley working 60 hour weeks. Disorganized complexity. Friday Night Lights. The natural history museum (Margaret, look at the zebras! OH I LOVE IT THE ZEBRAS, MOMMY!). Third trimester sex (not.worth.it). Wonderful friends. A garden so wild it might eat the house. Depression (mine). Singing with the Zuzu. Fifth anniversary. Cornbread. Baby bigger, belly darn near obscene. That Riley, even lovelier still.

I think Fall is just the thing I need. Can't wait to see you there.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

It's Her World

"She is given to fits of semi-precious metaphors." - Juniper Pearl

Benny and Joon. Cinematic perfection. Chocolate cake. On a day with thunder. While Margaret sleeps. My cup runneth over.

Yesterday, Margaret officially established herself as the smartest third of our family equation. She and I had been playing house for several hours. Putting baby to bed. Dropping baby. Picking up baby and making her feel better. Cleaning. Dancing. You know, the usual.

In the middle of it all she turns to me,

"Time Out, Mommy?"

"No, sugar pi, we are playing! Don't worry about time out."

"Time Out, please?"

"Zuzu, you are crazy. No time out."

Brief moment of two year old concentration. Bright smile. Followed by a hard slap across my leg.

"I HIT MOMMY! TIME OUT!"

At which point she triumphantly crossed the room and placed herself in the corner.

Just 30 seconds and the two foot tall evil genius neutralized the one weapon in my mommy arsenal.

I guess it was just a matter of time.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Let's Go Flying

Photo by my amazing, talented friend Heather

Margaret could swing all day long.


The other day after her 105th ascent into the sky, she sighed and said,


"Mommy. I am happy."


Yeah. Me too, baby girl.

Monday, June 6, 2011

How Sweet It Is

Riley and I planted a garden on Saturday. For many couples, a collaboration of this nature is not difficult...little thought, even less discussion. A garden is a garden is a garden. The kind of project that comes oh-so-easily to two thinking, rational adults. Riley - my love, my light, the should-be-leader in this two step - is one of those thinking, rational adults. I am...not.

If the husband were to plan and plant a garden (without my interference), it would be a green machine of efficiency. The kind of eco development that would make even Al Gore proud...were he to ever leave his private jet long enough to see it. A garden left solely in Riley's hands, much like a life left in Riley's hands, would be productive and yield much fruit.

And then there was she. This girl left to her own devices? I would plan for that lovely garden. Planning is delightful. I would dream agricultural dreams and collect recipes for all the produce still unplanted. There would be sketches of garden designs, garden swings, garden paths. I would probably buy a few gnomes. All that is lovely and nice and airy. This process would go on for years. And then, finally, at 92 years old, I would die. That crazy lady down the street with the unkempt lawn and enough garden gnomes to stage a yard ornament uprising. Not great.

Thankfully, I do not live in a world in which my uncertainty and love for tacky yard art will destroy me. I live in a world with Riley. So Saturday we gardened. And he tilled and measured and made right. And I planted and prettied and made colorful. It is not a work of perfection. I bought too many leeks and there have been concerns over the lack of ready to pickle items. And I might have already killed the sweet potatoes. However. There was a moment when he and I were working side by side, and it was hot and dirty and lovely. And for just that moment that silly garden was the life we live and that life just isn't really all that silly. Riley nurtures my dreams and coaxes them into the sun. He has saved me from a lifetime of too-scared-to's, what-if's and never-been's. Our lives will bear fruit and my-oh-my won't it taste sweet.

I don't know what I give that man in return, I just know that it is not enough.

Happy girl.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

3:30 am

I have woken up at 3:30 every morning for the past two weeks. Sometimes it was because Margaret was crying. Other times it was due to the fact that my pregnant body cannot go two hours without a visit to the restroom. Most of the time there was no reason at all. Apparently, in my world 3:30 am is the new 7 am. Party.

Shockingly, there is very little to do in the hours before sunrise. Vacuuming and dishwashing tend to wake the husband and the Zuzu. We don't have cable, so tv viewing options are, ummm, limited. Even internet celebrity gossip has let me down. I mean, really? All these beautiful people with limited educations and unlimited salaries and the juiciest story right now is the steady disappearance of Kim Kardashian's cellulite? Where is my drama, intrigue, front page headline? I am looking at you, Bradley Cooper. Shame on you for being out-weasled by someone as boring as the Governator. Honestly, what is a girl to do?

Writers across the world preach the gospel of early morning inspiration. Apparently, the muses are more active when reasonable people are asleep. Perhaps I will try to channel one of those Greek ladies and write that book I have been talking about since the second grade. Something lovely and important and new. Tangible work that my children can hold when I am gone. A paperbound world that will earn me accolades, royalties and a guest spot on any number of morning tv shows.

Or maybe I will just watch season two of Psych. Again.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Of sausage, baby lips and belonging

I have been holding the front of my jeans together with a rubber band since I hit week twelve of this whole thing. A lovely little pregnancy trick that reinforces the feeling that I am not so slowly turning into an overly stuffed sausage. Not some light and delicious apple and chicken wurst , either. No. This feeling is definitely of the overstuffed headcheese variety. Unsettling. Today, that rubberband, having been put through more in its lifetime than is strictly fair, had reached it breaking point. Literally. Just popped right off. Disappeared in the abyss of Costco's concrete floor. It was one of the classiest moments of my life. I am officially giving myself permission to spend some serious money on maternity clothing.

Margaret has no idea that she is going to be a big sister in a few months. Every time I tell her there is a baby in my tummy, she just looks mildly horrified. Like pizza didn't really sound great for lunch so I just went ahead and ate a whole baby. And now it is in my stomach. And I want her to know about it. (Come to think of it, I am now concerned that she only looks mildly horrified.) I was hoping that the confusion would be cleared up today when we went to our ultrasound appointment. It wasn't. She spent the entire time playing with toys. She also offered to give me her blankie so I could "SLEEP GOOD ON THE BIG BED!" I still don't know what she thought the ultrasound technician was doing to my stomach the whole time I was "SLEEPING ON THE BIG BED." Children are very accepting.

It was just a little magical getting another glimpse of our Viola on that tv screen today. Her brain and heart and spine all look just right. She has a button nose, wiggly toes and a pouty set of baby fish lips. I can't wait for her to meet Margaret. They will be lovely little friends. I can't wait for her to meet Riley. He is the best man I know. I can't wait for her to meet me. Burned dinners, messy hair and love.

It will be nice to belong to one more person.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The King and The Badger

Riley, Zuzu and I live in a simple little house full of simple little things. Bright colors and happy corners. Photographs of places we have been and paintings of places we would like to go. Books with broken bindings and mismatched plates. The trees outside our windows look lovely against a thunderstorm sky. Lovely. We are blessed with a little more than enough and we are happy.

Sometimes, just sometimes, those blessed with a little more than enough (ahem, us) find themselves wishing to be blessed with just a little more than a little more than enough. Case in point. Our garbage disposal broke last month. The dear thing just cracked nearly in half. It leaked generously when we used the disposal, started the dishwasher or turned on the water. It also seemed to leak anytime anyone walked through the house, spoke or took a breath. Inconvenient. We spent a couple of weeks saving for the replacement. I switched out bowls from under the offending appliance while Riley performed the most extensive garbage disposal consumer research ever undertaken by a single man. Seriously. It was exhausting.

And then it happened. The husbands' research and an ad on KSL joined together in one serendipitous moment. And what a moment it was. Yes. It was true. The king of all garbage disposals, The WasteKing 12000 was being offered NEW at the obscenely low price of $50. The WasteKing is not just some plastic toy pretending at manliness. A little thing just for chopping up the discards from your sissy lunch. No. The WasteKing is the Hercules of sink related accoutrement. It is a sound insulated beast equipped with more horsepower than your car. A silver coated knight just waiting to do battle against anything you put in its path. The WasteKing is much, much, more than enough. And after a drive to Salt Lake, it was ours.

Riley spent four hours trying to tame the King. We called in reinforcements. Our dear friends, Brooke and Jesse, came over. Brooke and I entertained the kids, while the men went to battle. Three hours and a taco dinner later, the truth could no longer be avoided. The WasteKing 12000 was a pretender. A defective, silver plated loser that couldn't lift a lance if you paid it to.

The next day, Riley went to Home Depot and bought the cheapest garbage disposal in the warehouse. The Badger 5. It can chop lettuce and only shudders briefly when faced with day old bread.

Just a little more than enough.

We are still happy.

Friday, May 13, 2011

A few things. Re-posted.

My husband says that I have not been writing enough. And the blessed man is right. I am just not sure that I want to read what I have to write. I would like to blame this on my current condition. To be fair, pregnancy does do some lovely things for me. Relatively early into the whole thing, my normally modest bosom blossoms into something that would make Salma Hayek proud. Nesting also kicks in pretty quickly. By the end of the day, my house is fairly clean and dinner is on the table. Unprecedented in non pregnant life. There are setbacks. My skin is a bit thinner. The voice that asks for help a bit quieter. My ability to hurt for others hurts multiplied. The need to heal things that can't be healed more intense. In short (too late for that), pregnancy makes hard things harder. Lately, there have been some hard things.

There have also been good things. Margaret drinking chocolate milk for the first time. Pedicure. Riley doing the laundry every day this week. Sunshine. Mopped floors. New sandals. Sister Lindsay Pi Stewart flying to Utah as I type. Viola kicking inside of me. Coral lipstick. Slumber parties with the husband. Modern Family. Pride and Prejudice read for oh....the 582nd time. Margaret naming the car on my shirt, "the boobie train". Light against darkness. A God who will bring us all home. Staying away from that home just a little bit longer. Cornbread and honey.

Yes, those are some very good things. And for now they will do.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

A few things.

My husband says that I have not been writing enough. And the blessed man is right. I am just not sure that I want to read what I have to write. I would like to blame this on my current condition. To be fair, pregnancy does do some lovely things for me. Relatively early into the whole thing, my normally modest bosom blossoms into something that would make Salma Hayek proud. Nesting also kicks in pretty quickly. By the end of the day, my house is fairly clean and dinner is on the table. Unprecedented in non pregnant life. There are setbacks. My skin is a bit thinner. The voice that asks for help a bit quieter. My ability to hurt for others hurts multiplied. The need to heal things that can't be healed more intense. In short (too late for that), pregnancy makes hard things harder. Lately, there have been some hard things.

There have also been good things. Margaret drinking chocolate milk for the first time. Pedicure. Riley doing the laundry every day this week. Sunshine. Mopped floors. New sandals. Sister Lindsay Pi Stewart flying to Utah as I type. Viola kicking inside of me. Coral lipstick. Slumber parties with the husband. Modern Family. Pride and Prejudice read for oh....the 582nd time. Margaret naming the car on my shirt, "the boobie train". Light against darkness. A God who will bring us all home. Staying away from that home just a little bit longer. Cornbread and honey.

Yes, those are some very good things. And for now they will do.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Rainy Season

The last month has been dotted with rainshowers. They have been of both the literal and metaphorical variety. Perhaps if I were a better writer, certainly a better person, I would say that rain precedes the flowers. I think sometimes it just churns up mud.

There has been brightness. My dad says that Margaret is portable sunshine and I just can't disagree. I did not know that a person could contain so much delight. Her nature certainly speaks for the capacity of a single soul.

The girl jabbers away all day long. Most of what she says is even intelligible. Don't tell me she is not genius. There are a few words that her little pink mouth just can't quite form. Notable among these is the word, "truck". In the language my daughter speaks, the word "truck" is emphatically pronounced, "CRROTCH". This has led to some awkward situations. My dad drives a truck. Margaret loves my dad and his mode of transportation. Loves them both so much that she frequently announces to friend and stranger alike, "I LOVE IT THE POPPA'S CRROTCH!" It is only a matter of time before the social workers show up on my doorstep. We have tried to remedy the situation:

"Margaret, the word is TRUCK. TRRRUUUUCCKKK. Can you say it? I love Poppa's TRUCK!"

"OK! CROTCH! CRRRRROOOOOTTTTTCCCCHHH! I LOVE IT THE POPPA'S CCCCRRRROOOTTCHHHHH!"

Disturbing.

I think there will be less rain this month. I could be wrong. Good thing I have Margaret.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Ice Cream in the Morning

Blanket Fort Zuzu

Yesterday, Margaret and I ate ice cream for breakfast in a blanket fort in the kitchen. Please read that sentence back to her when she is fifteen and angry at me. Haagan Dazs breakfast in a fort makes me the coolest mom ever. Today. Tomorrow. Always. And you cannot get mad at the coolest mom ever. Impossible. Riley graduates today. There will be family, pictures and ice cream cake. I love ice cream cake.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Life Lived: The Guidebook

I love the stars over New Mexico.
Can't wait to show them to Zuzu and Miss Honey pi.

Admission. I am by nature just a little fatalistic. It is an unfortunate attribute that accompanied me to this lovely thing called mortality. When I was just five, I stopped spending the night at my grandparents house as I was positive my parents would be killed in accident while I was gone. I didn't think my presence would keep the accident from occurring...I just wanted to be able to say goodbye when it did. By ten, I had gotten in the habit of staying up as late as I could. Maybe if I never slept I would be able to ward off death, that personage that was so ready to take me away at my ripe old age of a decade. I actually remember praying that to God that if he would just let me reach sixteen and get my first kiss, then I would go gently into that good night. (Ten year old me thought sixteen year old me would be hotter...I didn't get that first kiss till I was almost nineteen). This certainty of an imminent end of all goodness continued ad nauseam through high school. Yeah. I am sure raising THAT was just peachy. Thanks for sticking it out, Mom and Dad.

I have done what I can to rid myself of this irrationality. For the most part, I have been successful. The world is now more light than shadow. I will admit to the occasional relapse. You should have seen Riley's face the first time I woke him up and said, "I really don't want to die." I always feel bad for men when they realize that they married a whole mess of crazy. Sorry, Baby.
Having a child has helped. I want her to see the world as it can be. Should be. There is no room in the existence I want for the fear that kept ten year old me up at night. Life is so full. Brimming with tastes and sights and experiences that I suspect are unique to our mortality. Try as I might, I am not sure that I can picture butter drenched scallops in heaven. So. A project that appeals to both my acquired optimism and my natural fatalism.

I love guidebooks. Little hand held excursions into the distance. An afternoon in Borders surrounded by books touching on Asia, Europe and the Middle East is happiness captured. I may never eat dim sum in Hong Kong or explore the catacombs in Paris. Little me in my little purple house will still be happy. I will also have lived my life, however long it may be. A collection of experiences, sights and tastes (probably, too many tastes...FOOD!) that are just as sweet and important as anything found across any sea.

The project. Over the next year I am going to write, A Life Lived: The Guidebook, in installments on this blog. It will be full of things I want my children to feel, taste, touch and hear. Bits and pieces of life that I could not bear for them to live without. In my optimism, it is a resource we will walk through together. In my fatalism, it is something to give them when I have left them to walk alone. Either way, I know it is going to be fun.