Tuesday, November 29, 2011


These next couple of weeks are my time to rest and relax before any more big undertakings. I've got nothing major planned until our Christmas trip to visit Jared's family. I didn't realize it until I finally got a chance to breathe, but I was starting to get worn out. Now that I've been able to sit around and do nothing, I can feel how tired I was. It's probably  a good thing I couldn't feel it when I was so busy - if I were tired, there was no way I could have gotten everything done.

To give out some big news to some of you reading this blog, we're expecting another baby boy this coming April. Up until now we've been so busy moving and house buying and unpacking and Thanksgiving-ing that I didn't really reflect much on my pregnancy. It's kind of a luxury, not having to think or worry about it all the time.

Part of the difference between this pregnancy and the last is probably that things are much more stable in my life now. I know we have a safe, permanent place to stay. I know we'll find a way to pay for all of this. I know what having a baby and being around to take care of it is like. I won't be losing my non-baby friends because if they weren't standing by me the first time, they're already long gone.

Instead of all that constant worry, I am just going about my life. It is so much easier.

When I go into the OB's office, they have to laugh at me. They ask how many weeks pregnant I am and I have to scratch my head and think real hard to remember. I still mix up  and forget my due date. But to be honest... it's hard for me to remember something that's just always there in the background. I know it really doesn't mean that much, so I just don't care. Last time around I was so fixated on that dumb date that it took forever to come. And then when it came and went for two weeks with nothing... that was torture.

Trust me, forgetting is just so much easier.

Only recently have I been forced to contemplate this new baby. It's getting harder to turn over in bed. My stomach sticks out above the waterline and freezes when I'm in the bath tub. I go to zip up my coat against the wind and remember, "Oh yeah... that stomach's there. Can't zip."

This little break has been nice because I've just been sitting around and eating and reading. I've actually been paying attention tot he baby moving, it's more often and stronger than I previously thought. Last night, I called Jared in and he got to feel our second son kick his hand for the first time.

And, trust me, I'm not one of those int he camp of "pregnancy is wonderful and beautiful" because... it's just not. At least, not to me. The idea  of a person growing in me still kind of creeps me out, and anything that involves months of barfing is anything but beautiful.

But maybe last night I could sort of see where those hippie earth mothers were coming from. It was kind of neat to watch Jared see, for that first time, that there really was something in my stomach besides a bunch of tacos and ice cream.

My plan for the next few weeks is to continue doing nothing while I still can. I've done enough for a while.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Holiday Season. Already.

Every store we've been to lately has had some sort of Christmas display up. And I hate it.. not because I think they're starting too early, not because I am out to complain against the commercialism of Christmas or anything like that... Just because Christmastime is very hard for me. It reminds me of feelings I'd like to be over by now, but just can't seem to let go.

I can't remember any specific presents I got on any specific years. I can't remember anything especially funny happening or any really great meals we had... I only remember how strained it was between everyone in my family. Being the baby, everyone tried to shelter me. I had no idea why everybody had such a hard time getting along because no one would say anything to me. But they didn't have to. I wasn't stupid, I could tell things were wrong, words or no words.

The older I got, the more I was able to see for myself. I got better at eavesdropping on people's conversations, filling in gaps with my own logic.  Eventually, certain family members just stopped showing up to family functions. And I still didn't know why. I just figured they didn't care. In a way, I figured they didn't care about me, the only one left at home. I never even learned why until I was getting ready to leave the house myself.

I used to look forward to a break from school, but that was it. Once we were home, I was stuck. My parents were stressed. Constant, forced togetherness made us argue. Christmas shopping and wrapping needed to be done and everyone had to bend over backwards not to upset the precarious balance. Were all of the presents "even" and "fair" between all children? Did I say something wrong that so-and-so isn't speaking to me?

It was a hard place to be for me. Instead of looking forward to opening presents by the fireplace, I was bracing myself for the storm.

But now, things are different. I am on my own. I can host events myself, and I can invite everyone. Show up or not show up, everyone is always welcome to my home and everyone can get along for a few hours if they choose to come. If they choose not to come, I'll see them another time. That's it. That is my rule. Their decades-old issues between each other do not concern me, they do not define the individual relationship I have with either party.  Truthfully, I may not even want to spend time with some of my family sometimes, but they are my family and I am capable of setting differences aside for a few days.  Shouldn't everyone be able to do that?

And even though I know things are different now, it is hard to forget how it was. It has been hard for me not to instinctively put on my grinch face and just try to get through it all as fast as I can.

Oliver has no memories of Christmas at all. He just knows that he likes the lit displays in department stores. He points out Christmas lights on our drives around town. He talks about Christmas trees and ornaments and Santa and presents. He has no idea that Christmas would be anything but pretty lights, food, and presents. That's all I've told him.

And for him, that's all it should be. A time to be with people you love and enjoy a nice day together. I just have to be careful not to poison it for him. I don't want to say anything negative. I don't want to get all stressed.  I just want to show up to wherever the festivities are and watch him open presents and have a good time together.

How is that so hard for me? Even if I do manage to exchange my dark memories for future excitement and hope... how do I explain the family gaps to Oliver? The last thing I want to do is tell him nothing, to leave him in the dark to feel like he did something wrong.

I want to be transparent with him. I want him to know how things are in his world, whether or not the situation lies in his control. I don't want issues to come out of nowhere and blindside him. I want him to see that everyone has problems and  he isn't in charge of fixing them all. It is best just to have that honesty and openness for everyone involved.  I do believe I can teach that to him and I do believe I can demonstrate that for him. But it is going to be the hardest thing I've ever done. If it means that Oliver will have great memories of Christmas, it will be worth every day of the struggle.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Stocking the pantry, and starting over in other ways.

We've lived in three different places in the last year. It's been hard work.. harder than I even realized until I sat down today and felt like I'd been working for the last year nonstop. We bounced from wedding planning to house hunting to moving in someplace new not once, but twice. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, not this time. We're in a good place and the work that we put in will be benefits for us to reap in the future. I know that. I'm glad for that. On multiple occasions Jared has come home from work and looked up to me at the top of the stairs,  looking over the dog and the toddler clamoring to greet him in the entryway to say to me, "This is our life." 

Today I made a schedule of things I wanted done by Thanksgiving so that I can sit back and relax while I have company and just be proud of our new home. The first thing I wanted to do was restock our pantry and get back into the swing of cooking real, homemade meals. No more frozen stuff, no more premade grocery store dinners, no more fast food. It really took a lot out of me to eat like that throughout these weeks of moving in and living without working appliances. I feed people as one of my ways of taking care of them, and not feeding my family was making me feel depressed. Fixing the pantry was just the first step in my mind to getting back on track.

While growing up, the pantry was one of the many things that my mom did for us that I didn't even notice or appreciate. She didn't shop that often, but we always had food. I could always make some sort of dinner in her house. I never ran out of toilet paper, paper towels, light bulbs, batteries, tomato paste... I could open the door and there it was for me. If she didn't have the exact thing I wanted, I could usually find a pretty good substitute. My mom's pantry was so expansive that my sister used to come home from college and go "grocery shopping" in it. She would return to school after each break with canned soup and jars of sauce.

I never realized that this wasn't something every family did. I didn't know that there were people who didn't have backups, buying only enough to make a recipe or meal before going back to the store for more. When Jared and I moved into our first place, the thing that made me feel most adult and secure in our new home was putting together those cupboards full of food. It was comforting to open the doors and see options, see that there were things I could make to feed us that night and the next, to know we wouldn't be starving at least for this week.

When we were particularly worried about becoming parents, I would get up and make food for us. We would sit on our rummage-saled furniture, sometimes at 1, 3, 4 o'clock in the morning eating tacos, brownies, corn bread, chicken pot pie.  The pantry and the food in it gave us that escape, something to linger over while we hatched our plan B and contemplated next moves. That food was a non-judgemental safety net and all we had to do was open up a few boxes, measure out ingredients, warm up the house with the glow from the oven, and eat together.

I want to be able to give that same thing to Oliver. I want to teach him to feed himself and others, and I want him to be able to walk to the pantry and open it up wide for inspiration. Even if he never takes to cooking, that food will still be there for me to give to him, to instill in him the notion that some things are constant in life. There will always be someone to sit around the table with, and there will always be food here to share with them.

Because, to me, there is no place that seems more like home than a kitchen table with home cooked food upon it and a group of people gathered around it. The boxes might be half unpacked and the home repair list might be long, but we will still be at home.

"This is our life."

Jared is so right... This is our life. And it is so good.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


For Halloween, Oliver wanted to be a zebra. I thought it would be really easy to find a zebra costume for a toddler. But it wasn't. So I made one.  I took a plain white sweatshirt, painted on some zebra stripes and added a bit of fluffy trim for the mane. The ears are pieces of felt.

It's a little bit ghetto, but he was happy with it. And everyone knew he was a zebra when we were out, so I consider it a success. I tried to meet the new neighbors but I don't remember a single name anymore. But at least we introduced ourselves.

I took pictures on Halloween, but they weren't on my camera. I had to have Jared get a disposable one because I didn't know where my charger was. Oliver wanted to wear the costume again today, so here is a re-creation of the night until I get the disposable camera developed.

Ever seen a zebra watching TV?

Zebra and unenthused don't-disturb-my-nap dog.

I don't know if you guys know this or not, but you can click on the photos to see them bigger. Just a tip for those less computer savvy followers.

Happy belated Halloween!