Sunday, June 19, 2016

on your first father's day

I knew you when.

When you were a boy with shaggy hair, singing songs and playing soccer and butting heads with your mom. When you were making jokes in between classes (and in classes) and creating nicknames for everyone you knew. I knew you at the pinnacle of your youth and silliness. When you teased the girls you liked. When pooka shells were still occasionally worn. It's true.

When you sang "Hero" by Enrique Iglesias and when you asked to hold my hand by writing it out in a text message. When you were red-cheeked from our first kiss and promising me forever and writing love notes. Making plans and choosing colleges and deciding, right then and there, that all our dreams would come true. I knew you when you talked animatedly about having kids, and the fact that we were still kids ourselves didn't seem to phase you at all.

You have been a dad-in-the-making for as long as I've known you. Waking up next to you this morning and seeing you as that boy / my husband / a father is such a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious feeling. Growing old with you will be all the sweeter for having known you as that boy, and watching you grow to raise our own. There are moments when none of this seems real, and the love and blessedness of our home together threatens to fill and burst me like a giant heart balloon.

I have seen you grow from the boy I knew and rolled my eyes at to the man who now guides our own boy to know and love what is Good. I have seen your sweet and fun-loving heart tenderized by fatherhood. I look at our son and suddenly I can see, in my mind's eye, the many precious years of your life that I missed. The missing links to who you are. I can see your furrowed brow as you made your first childish discoveries and feel your mother's love for you. I can see the pinpricks of personality blossoming in your eyes. It's all here, in the face of our son.

I marvel and delight in you both. You and I have a brilliant history; a wonderful collection of years together. Travels and weird traditions and Coldplay dance parties. We made everything fun. While they were golden years, they were far from our greatest hits. We are now able to choose our favorite things and do them all over again with our son. Let's travel the world, make up silly songs, read Harry Potter, spend time with kindred spirits, eat our favorite foods and listen to the Beatles (ok, and One Direction too).

Today, I want you to know that you have kept your silliest (and best) promises to me from way back then. This is a dreamy life and I adore you. Happy first Father's Day, my love. Today is special for us both, because darling...

I knew you when.

Monday, April 25, 2016

when all is softness

I've been away from this writing space long enough that I have started to narrate blog posts in my mind as I drink my coffee in the morning or when I'm driving to the grocery store. Strings of sentences pull together when I least expect them to; things I want to say and write down, but never do. I think my somewhat subconscious avoidance of this space has to do with the strange limbo I find myself in... the adjustment of being a stay at home mom, which is both brilliant and baffling. Perhaps I'm in a creative rut. Even so, the words have been pounding a strong beat against my mind lately and so here I sit, letting them play their rhythm onto my keyboard for a change.

I've been thinking a lot about what my life looks like now - how it's defined, how I'll look back on it 10 years from now, what it feels like. Perhaps every mini era of our lives could be whittled down to a meaningful word or two that captures its thematic significance, and the one that keeps coming to my mind now is softness. 

All is softness, here. That's the way I feel. Being a mom is the softest thing I've ever been. My baby boy is soft, his cheeks his lips his fingers and toes. He has no hard edges, no broken pieces, no callouses or toughened skin. His heart has not been broken and he has made no mistakes. He holds the softness of innocence in every breath. He is a fresh start, everything ahead.

My body is also soft. Oh, yes. It is the hero of this story, I think. My body is now tender and taking its time, because time is softer now, too. The clock whispers its minutes in a much different tone. We no longer choose time in exact numbers because we're still figuring out the language. There's a learning curve and a cushion for every plan we make. Just when we think we have something figured out and set in stone, we look again, and it's silly putty. Soft, soft silly putty.

My ideas and my choices are all softer, easier, simpler. One thing at a time. No rushing, complicating, over-analyzing. Staying in is the new going out. My memories are filled with baby soft blurs of the last few months, all cotton and bleary-eyed sunrises. And let me tell you, my clothes are softer now, too. Comfort is a craving, really. A necessity.

The daylight is soft now, as it opens its first moments on my baby's cheeks while he wakes. His breath is the softest. His hair is softer still! I'll bet his dreams are soft, too. All milk and cuddles and fluffy blankets. I'm going to stay here for a while. Whether it lasts a month or a year. The mornings, the conversations, the naps, the learning, the newness, the feelings, the hugs and the kisses. It's the time when all is softness, and I'm going to fall back into it with a sigh.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

william boyer

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Facebook Friends Day - have I missed anything else?

After months of not blogging, I find myself revisiting this little space to say I have a baby! My little boy is already 1 month old (as of yesterday), and it has been the most wonderful month of my entire life. I imagine it has been pretty grand for him as well - he has so much more room to wiggle and sing and squirm!

William Boyer came into the world at 8:08pm on January 6th, 2016. He was 9 lb, 5 oz and 21 inches long. He is also absolutely perfect, but that's basically the New Mom National Anthem so I'd like to go into a little more detail... partly for you, but mostly for me. This month has gone by in a blur of midnight conversations, earnest baby tears, bleary parent eyes, late morning naps, Friends marathons, couch cuddles, hummed lullabies, fresh baby clothes, and worn-out pajamas. I already feel like so many of the details have slipped out of my tired mind, and it's a true fear of mine that I won't be able to fully document and recall these priceless days of our newly baked parenthood. So here are a few things that I want to remember...

We call him bubba gump, gruntosaurus, sweet boy, will boy, and terry (short for pterodactyl) when he's particularly shrill. I love how strong he is. As soon as they laid him on my chest in the hospital, he lifted his head and looked around. No one has informed him that he's a newborn and is supposed to be fragile.

I adore the way he breathes. It's often stuttered and loud and deep (with his mouth hanging open), and it's always warm and sweet and friendly. I listen for it in the dark of night, and treasure the warmth of it against my neck. Remember when you were young, and you used to wonder what clouds taste like? (Was that just me?) That's what his breath smells like. It's cloud fluff a la mode. One of my more awkward hobbies now is resting my face against his and smelling his breath until he gets mad at me. I now understand why parents are so embarrassing.

I love the way he shakily head butts me when he tries to look me in the eyes. I love how his eyes then go cross as he works so hard to focus on mine, and the endless expressions he manages to create. They never, ever get old. He pushes his tongue against his bottom lip, he purses his lips, he scrunches his face and raises his eyebrows and stretches his arms and poses like superman and tries his best to look like the grumpiest old man in the land.

He is so active, so playful, so alive. He wiggles and kicks and grunts like a pro grunter, which isn't a thing. Until now. He grunts when he's happy, when he's angry, when he's (supposed to be) sleeping. Whenever I wake up in a pure and quite irrational panic, which is more often than I'd like to admit, there's no greater sound than his little drowsy grunts.

I love his lips and how he moves his mouth. I love his little spit bubbles and the way his clean, fluffy blonde hair smells after a bath. I love how he'll go perfectly still and just stare silently in one direction as if he's just discovered something that requires a lot of focused thought. The best thing in the world is the thoughtful way he clutches at my shoulder or my arm or my clothes when he's sleepy or nursing. His little fingers opening and closing in a gentle repetition, just to remind me he's still there. His fingers and toes are constantly in motion. The little dimples on his hands make me want to cry.

His eyes are so deep and beautiful, that stunning blue-grey slate. (Will they darken to brown like mine, or lighten to blue like his dad's?). Sometimes I almost feel like he is listening to me. He seems to think such deep thoughts... and then he'll squirm and fart and squeal and I'll realize he's only 4 weeks old, and his world is such a mystery to me. I constantly wonder what his view must be like. Is everything blurry? Does he see me when I hold him close and kiss his cheeks, his forehead, his nose, his lips? When he smiles those sneaky smirks in the middle of nothing in particular, does he know he's smiling at me?

I find myself being washed from head to toe in those surprising moments of OH HEAVENS I love him so much, I may drown in the great sticky mess of it. I can hardly stand it. I cry when I think too much about his tiny footprints or the smell of his first shampoo. I never want to graduate from this land of new motherhood, with its many graces and firsts and cuddles and homemade lattes. I cry when I think about this time of life going too quickly and ending before I'm ready for it to. He won't remember these days, but I... well, I will long for them and dream of them and never, ever forget them. I will carry them with me for the rest of my days in the happiest pocket of my heart.

41 weeks

I wrote the blog post below on the very day that my water broke and we rushed to the hospital to have our sweet William! I had no idea what was about to happen, and that's kind of the best part of it all, isn't it?

I thought I'd share it now, because I distinctly remember typing these words almost exactly a month ago and the rush of feelings and fears. Little did I know that William actually was interested in coming into our rainy world, and that our induction appointment would not be needed. And we did, indeed, all survive! Praise the Lord.


Without even realizing it, 2 months have gone by and I haven't blogged a bit.

In November we visited our dear friends in North Carolina, and I had two fantastic baby showers (the first was Le Petit Prince themed, the second was Oh, the Places He'll Go! and both were just the best). In December, we hit weeks 36-40 in what felt like record time. I had some time off of work which was so incredibly needed, and we were able to finish up so many things in our house - including painting the nursery! We had a lot of family time and us time. I haven't taken hardly any photos of anything, which feels very unlike me. But I'd like to eventually recap the past two months, especially our trip and my baby showers, but that'll most likely happen while I'm on maternity leave.

Which brings us to right now. William's due date was December 30th, and he's still snuggled up in my tummy. His tiny (but strong) feet are pushing against my ribs. Tomorrow marks 41 weeks with this little nomad. I don't think he's interested in coming into this rainy world just yet. We're scheduled for an induction tomorrow night, January 6th, at 10pm. I am quite terrified.

I have no idea what giving birth is like. There are so many mysteries. Even the things I've been told are hard to actually imagine. I have a lot of fears, and I think every single one is totally rational. Because this stuff can get crazy. He's so snug in here that I'm worried being induced will just end in an emergency c-section - what if he doesn't want to drop? What if his heart rate drops? What if I don't get to see him right away, because I'm incapacitated or because he's in some kind of danger?

I've never experienced something like this. Certain pain is on the horizon. A kind which I have no ability to comprehend. It's already mentally taxing, just knowing it's coming. It's physical, mental, emotional.

Every birth story is different and I'm standing right on the edge of mine. I can neither prepare for nor truly anticipate any of the details, and I have to just trust that the pain will be bearable, my baby will be healthy, and we will all survive.

Friday, November 20, 2015

34 weeks

There are certain moments when the fact that I'm pregnant suddenly sinks in and I'm overcome with an incredibly surreal hold on just one hot second kind of swarm of feelings. That has been this week. The other night I was getting into bed (less and less gracefully these days) and I just turned (rolled) to face Dustin and said, "I'm really pregnant. When the heck did that happen?" He thought I said "how" so he was momentarily concerned and we had a good laugh.

But really, I'm feeling very shocked that Thanksgiving is next week and our baby is coming, ready or not, in 6 weeks. And don't say things like, "Well it could be tomorrow, ya know!" because if I haven't been totally clear yet, I'm in a little bit of a panic and those humorous bits of commentary kinda just make me go sdalkfjaskldjhfalwjer.

I'm trying to just see everything that's stressing me out as a great opportunity to laugh at myself. I'm stressed because our house isn't done, and I have this giant fear that once the baby comes all of these little things will really never get done. We'll have a to-do list miles and miles long, and we'll just be living in this weird limbo for years because we can never get around to crossing things off the list. There's just not enough time. I'm stressed out about the unfinished and the clutter. But then I realize that I've literally been living in clutter my entire life. Basically preparing to be a mom without knowing it. Clutter and I are besties. We understand each other. I have chosen clutter again and again, probably because I knew my future self would need this - to be happy and cozy and patient even in the clutter of new momhood. I knew there had to be a reason my room was never clean!

The truth is, expectations rarely meet up with reality. In my previous abstract thoughts about pregnancy and motherhood, I always imagined having a little girl. Not because I had a particular preference, but that's where my mind always went. But it's so wonderfully fitting that I'm going to be a little boy's, the girl with three brothers who was always surrounded by boys and legos and action figures and video games and dragons and sword-wielding stories of make believe. I am so much more prepared to be a boy's mom, and that's a fact. I knew there had to be a reason why I'm so weird! My little boy is gonna love me. 

My house will be cluttered, stories will abound, dragons will fly, and I will chill. We've got this.

Friday, November 6, 2015

featured artist: hello halsted

Every once in a while I come across something on Instagram or Etsy that really just kicks me in the teeth - because of its originality, beauty, uniqueness, or something akin to I wish I was that creative. It's the best kind of shock envy because it both surprises and inspires. I love supporting other artists, and sometimes I find something so spectacular that I just have to share it with others.

This week I stumbled upon Hello Halsted on Instagram through another Instagram account that I love, Poppy and Fern. Both of these ladies create stunning floral jewelry, but in very different ways. I long to have something from each of them; they're perpetually on my wishlists. Rachel of Poppy and Fern hand stitches her jewelry, and it's all amazing. She also has an affinity for poppies (as evidenced by her shop name), and I love everything she makes, especially this necklace.

Stephanie of Hello Halsted, on the other hand, uses real flowers - Queen Anne's Lace - to create her masterpieces. She dries, cuts and dyes them to create these stunning miniature watercolors trapped in resin. She typically makes a variety of necklaces and earrings, with occasional extras like rings. My favorites are the large circle, square or hexagon necklaces. Gorgeous! Did I mention she's only 25? Makes my year's to-do list seem a little underwhelming. She posts new batches of products in her online shop every 8-12 days, which sell out really fast. I love this method, though, because it means that she's constantly preparing fresh and exciting designs for each new batch. Follow her Instagram to feel fragrantly inspired by her sneak peeks and new batch posts, and definitely take a look at her shop - her new batch posts TOMORROW, November 7th, at 11am!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

happy halloween! {frocktober, the end}

This was the best Halloween.

We have a short but fun history of dressing up as Disney couples for Halloween. When we lived in Virginia, we participated in our church's Trunk or Treat for two years so we had to have costumes and a trunk theme. The first year we were Carl and Ellie from UP, and the second year we were Gnomeo and Juliet. It was a blast! This year we had to dress up, because coming up with a pregnant costume sounded like way too much fun...and how many chances like this will we get in life?

We decided a long time ago that dressing up as Pacha and his pregnant wife Chicha from The Emperor's New Groove would be perfect. I couldn't find much online in the way of costumes, so we figured it was a pretty original idea. We were thrilled when Colin and Victoria were totally on board with dressing up and walking around the small town of Blowing Rock during their Halloween festivities. They showed up with their Yzma and Kronk get-ups, and we were totally giddy. I love our friends. Victoria and I made our costumes (with the exception of my dress, which was a lucky find on Amazon for $20!). She actually found a blog which had pretty great instructions for easily putting together costumes for Kronk and Yzma. I made the poncho for Pacha out of fleece from JoAnn's, and my mom whipped up the weird little Pacha hat. I made my necklace out of the same material as the hat for a geometric collar, and then made the earrings out of wooden discs from Michael's that I painted dark brown. I also bought the bright green headband at Michael's. All in all it was really inexpensive and very fun to put together. 

It was incredibly entertaining seeing who recognized The Emperor's New Groove and who had no idea who or what we were trying to be. We began to realize that this movie seems to have only caught a handful of people in our exact age group. Any younger or older and it seems to have passed them right by. Which is a shame, because it's the best. 

Kronk, pull the lever!

Blowing Rock was decked out for the festival. There were hay rides and decorations around every corner. Once it began to get dark, most of the little shops were passing out candy for trick or treaters. The streets were soon full of kids and adults alike, and the temperatures began to drop drastically. We walked around and grabbed some coffee, and heartily enjoyed the many stares we received. 

We shopped around a little bit, buying some local spices and wishing we could buy every little bizarre trinket and Christmas ornament we came across. Towards the end of the night we jumped onto the tail end of the Main Street parade (which was basically just everyone in costume walking in a big line down the street). We counted it among our more prouder moments of life. 

Squeak, squeakin'. 

The night ended with us back at the house, delaying getting out of our costumes for as long as possible. After taking a few more pictures, the lure of pajamas and s'more-making finally won out. We settled in and made a fire and got cozy with s'mores and freshly made fudge. It was a fantastic day. Best Halloween ever.

It also signaled the end of Frocktober 2015. Another great month of dress-wearing. I wasn't sure how this year would go, being pregnant and growing steadily out of all of my regular clothes... but I feel pretty good about the challenge! In honor of Frocktober I will be donating quite a few clothes in the next few weeks. I'm looking forward to having a much simpler wardrobe and being a lot more intentional in what I buy and what I allow myself to keep over the years. Cheers to Frocktober, friends, festivities and the best Fall yet.