Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's a Family Thing...

There have been some eerie coincidences between my mother’s and mine pregnancies. Our first children, daughters, were born when we were 23, our seconds to be born about three years later. Beautiful blue-eyed girls emerged after about 30 hours of labour; we both stopped dilating at about 6 cm, and didn’t progress until we received epidurals.

I am not sure if it is self fulfilling prophesy or some sort of weird genetics, but I will be prepared in case. *

See, my brother, the second-born, was due in Mid-February…like Carli is. He was a large baby, and measured ahead…like Carli does. And he tried to come in Mid-January, 4 weeks early.

Back then, in the mid-80’s, they stopped labour. He said, ‘All right, if you say so…’ and instead came 6 weeks later…2 full weeks after his due date. And GIANT. He had grown to nearly 10 pounds, with the shoulders of a linebacker; my mother had to have an emergency c-section.

So, last night, at 33 weeks and 2 days, I packed most of my hospital bag. I have clean sweatpants and tank tops for after-delivery, a change of clothes for my lovely husband, and Carli’s coming-home outfit. I have hotel bottles of shampoo and conditioner and lotion and mouthwash and body wash, saved from 1 night in a hotel fancy enough to have Bath and Body Works, not Pert Plus. (Mandarin Ginger! Yum!) I have my list of birth preferences, and my hospital pre-registration is ready to be dropped off. I am constantly running through my brain, trying to think of anything else I might need that the hospital won’t provide… feel free to leave a comment if you can think of anything…

Because, even though I am mentally prepared to be pregnant for 6 ½ more weeks…I am physically prepared to insist they let her come out when she darn well pleases. They see no issues with letting her come after she hits 36 weeks, and I am completely and utterly 100% no holds supportive of that…as is my ridiculously large stomach and my inability to sleep more than 3 hours straight…oh, 3 am, how I wish I did not know you…

So, hold tight for 2 more weeks and 4 days, darling Carli Jay. Once January 18th hits, you just come on out whenever you want. We’ll be ready for ya.

* The real test of these genetics will be in about nine months…when my mother conceived her third. We will be employing heavy amounts of birth control around November, that is for sure…

Friday, December 19, 2008

In Which I Go On About Christmas Far Too Long.

December has always been one of my favourite months…Christmas was the big event of the year in our house, and though it was never dripping with extravagance, my mother infused the holiday with charm and love overflowing. We would start the traditions after Thanksgiving – putting up the tree while drinking boiled custard, then turning out the lights and sitting in the glow while my father told us the meaning behind the tree – and they continued throughout the month. We would spend days baking kifle and sugar cookies, buckeyes and peanut butter kisses. There would be holiday music or movies on constantly, and we would wear our Christmas-specific clothing until it fell apart.

Every part of our house was decorated…we even had a Santa toilet seat cover. Christmas dish towels and candles and rugs and knick-knacks replaced the everyday ones for the month of December. In any of the many houses we lived in during my childhood, you could walk in and feel warmth, welcoming. Ours was the house you wanted to come to after school and have a hot cocoa and a cookie, curl up on the big blue couch, and while away your afternoon.

I see now the work that must have gone into it all…my mother had four kids and a budget far below average. It must have been exhausting to not only shop, to find presents geared specifically for four vastly different personalities, but to spend your nights wrapping the gifts and hiding them after we went to bed. To find room in a meager grocery budget for butter and milk and eggs to make an abundance of Christmas treats. To make everyone in your extended family feel welcome and loved, and taking the time to fit them all into our schedule. To wake up at 5 am on Christmas morning, after very little sleep, and corral four highly over-excited children around a tree to open presents in a peaceable manner. And to do it all with a smile on your face.

I am striving to make Christmas the same for my daughter. I have fewer kids and more money than my mother, so it should be incredibly easy…but I am not sure I have the same amount of charismatic grace, the same imaginative ease that she does. She tells me it doesn’t come naturally, that it is something you strive towards. So I do. I bake cookies with Violet as she tries to eat the flour. We watch Rudolph and Santa and the Grinch, and the Nutcracker episode of the Wonderpets far too many times. We shop for presents for baby cousins and Salvation Army Angels and Daddy. We decorate wreaths and centerpieces and everything we can get our hands on; we spend hours playing with foamy stickers shaped liked penguins and polar bears and trees. We sing carols and talk about leaving cookies for Santa (he has requested snickerdoodles, apparently), and she wears her Santa T-shirt as soon as it comes out of the laundry.

And it all takes an effort. It requires having, “Tip-toe, Tip-toe, Tip-toe, Mouse King!” in your head at all hours. Burns on your fingers from hot glue guns. Countless trips to the mall to see Santa, without ever being brave enough to do more than wave. Spending more money and time than you anticipated trying to make sure you do everything you can to make the season memorable.

And then she lays in bed, before you shut her door for the night, and she says, ‘Thank you for watching Wudolph, Mama.’ She sings a wordless version of ‘Where are you, Christmas?’ from her beloved Grinch movie. She chatters about asking Santa for a watch and a purse and an umbrella, and how we are gonna bake more cookies the next day. She points out lights on houses as we pass by, and never, ever gets over the wonder of Christmas.

And it is all worth it.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Kind of Feminism

I am not perfect.

I cry way too often. Enough that I invest in waterproof mascara. Enough that my husband knows to ask, “Is this an alone-cry, or a need-a-hug cry?”

I lose my temper. Mainly with my husband, when I have to remind him of something for the 87th time, or when he leans toward pragmatic when I want romantic. Sometimes, with my daughter, after she throws a tantrum because I only let her watch 2 episodes of Yo Gabba Gabba; or, heaven forbid, I want to take her out to dinner before SHE is ready to go.

I don’t smile as often as I used to.

I have no head for numbers or space. I cannot add up the groceries in my head; I need a list. I will not be able to figure out if the couch will fit in a new space until I try it. I have NO concept of feet or inches, and have to think hard every time I buy diapers: is she a 4 or a 5?

I hate cleaning.

I am bossy.

I am entirely too judgmental when it comes to grammar and sentence structure.

These are a few of my faults. A small glimpse into the cracks that line my surface. I wish I didn’t have them; I wish I was ever-patient with my daughter and husband, that I could smile constantly and never cry.

But I cannot, because I am human. I am 100% woman, wife and mother. These cracks form the mosaic that is me, and though I will never stop trying to improve, trying to be a more awesome piece of work, I am proud of these cracks. I have earned them.

I don’t want my daughter to grow up thinking I am perfect. I want her to grow up knowing I am a woman. I want her to know, most importantly, that she doesn’t need to be perfect to be a work of art.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thanks.

There are no 2 ways around it…2008 has been a rough year. As our lives get fuller and richer, more and varied things come your way.

But this. This is the first holiday season that I feel ready to enjoy since Violet was born.

The first year, I was dealing with undiagnosed Post Partum Depression, and last year, I was struggling with both that and some chronic health issues.

But this year.

I am happy. I am settled. I am content and balanced. And I am ready to give thanks.

I am thankful for my husband, who has seen me through the bad times, and made me laugh. Who can see the humour in a bad situation. Who was strong enough to hold me up when I lost a baby, and lean on me when our daughter went into surgery. Who smushes his face against my belly to wake up baby Carli, just to tell her he loves her.

I am thankful for my Carli, who gave me hope. Who came along at just the right time. Who entertains me on my commute home by dancing along to Christmas carols. Who is the second daughter I dreamed of.

I am thankful for my Violet, who teaches me how to be independent and strong. Who will get up in the morning, and decide that it is a good day to wear the ladybug costume to the grocery store. Who faced something horrific, but got over it and jumped back on the horse. Who is so smart, so sweet…who grabbed her dad’s face last night, studied it for a few seconds, then declared, “You so gorgeous.” Who is creative and lovely and everything you could ask for in a girl.

I am thankful for my mom, my sisters, my dad for calling me, for praying for me. For crying with me on the phone and sending cards stuffed with packets of stickers and candy and Tinkerbell stuff. For listening when I talk, and reaffirming my belief that my child, and, heck, my whole family, is just amazing.

And I am thankful for me. For being able to get back to stasis. For my quirks and my faults and my ability to bake a mean cupcake and sing all the words to the Buffy musical. For my body that carries a baby girl, for my brain that actually enjoys Yo Gabba Gabba, and my heart that loves those that surround it.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 17, 2008

All About Vi.

Violet is healing wonderfully. The surgeon is incredibly pleased with how well her skin has mended. The scars are already faint, and far from the first thing you see when you look at my lovely girl.
I have been so proud of her. She didn't mess with the wounds as they were healing, she hasn't expressed any anger or fear towards dogs, she has kept a wonderful, upbeat spirit and outlook through this whole thing.
Thank you all for your thoughts and prayers.
And now, some beautiful.

The first aid tape is over the place that went through her cheek. It still has a bit of healing to do, so we are leaving that one covered for now. The slightly red places on her nose, cheek, and under her eye are the other places where she was stitched. The red on her upper lip is ketchup. This was exactly 2 weeks after surgery. Behold, the amazing healing powers of a toddler.

the cutest pirate ev-ARRRR.
how vi frosts cupcakes.

bowling...her new favorite thing IN THE WORLD.


dressin' up.


see the identical, cheesy, 'ma is making us take ANOTHER picture' grins? like father, like daughter.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Why?

Why do they put grippie on the bottom of infant socks?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Be Keffel.*

So, we had a rough weekend, and I only feel now able to write about it.

(Forgive me, Ali, for not calling you about this before posting it. I can barely write it, and I know that your sympathy would make me crack again.)

Saturday night, after a great day of family bowling and cleaning and taking a nap, Violet and I were sitting in the living room, talking about what to make for dinner. We have been living at my in-laws for a while to save money for a house; my in-laws dog, Magic, a black lab, was at the end of the chair. Magic has been around since before Violet was born, and has known and been gentle with Vi her whole life.

Violet was chattering at me, and went to give Magic a hug...and Magic lunged at her face.

She bit my baby's face.

I had her off within milliseconds, and screamed for my husband. We went straight to the emergency room. Violet screamed for a few minutes, but Jason calmed her down. I sat in the back of the jeep by her car seat and we sang Jingle Bells all the way to the hospital.

By the time we got there, she was completely calm; Jason and I were holding it together. She wasn't gushing blood, just oozing, and we were back to a room within 15 minutes. The nurse helped clean off her face, and we could see the marks: a crescent moon under her eye, 2 marks on her nose, one on her upper cheek, and 2 near the bottom. They were already clotting, so they left them uncovered until the dr came in. In the meantime, Violet charmed the registration nurse out of some stickers, a paramedic into letting her play with her stethoscope, and a security guard into playing peek-a-boo.

The doc came in, and felt around her face...there seemed to be no nerve damaged, but one of the innocent-looking ones on her cheek had gone all the way through to her mouth. Which meant surgery.

The plastic surgeon was in a long surgery, so they sent us home to come back at 6 am. They put bandages over her wounds, gave her some antibiotics and Motrin, and away we went.

We didn't want her to freak out when she saw herself, so we kept her away from mirrors. But as I was putting on her beloved Yo Gabba Gabba Jammies, she took off, butt-naked, and stood in front of the full-length mirror. She looked at her face for a second...then started dancing like she always does. My little trooper.

Jason and I made room for her in our bed, and we watched an endless loop of Barney all night. We all got about 4 hours of sleep, then were up for a long day.

When we got there, we found out we had been bumped for a gang member who got shot in the hand. Truthfully, this made me very angry...MY baby didn't do anything wrong, she shouldn't have to wait for an idiot who got himself into a gunfight. But she colored and sang, got her IV like a hero, and before we knew it, we were off to the surgery area. There was a second of panic for her when the bed started moving, but the transporter got Jason up there with her, and they rode down the hall like it was a parade.

When we got to the waiting area, she was a bit frightened of the largeness of the room, but we played I Spy and talked about Christmas until the docs came to do a pre-surgery check. She answered their questions, and let them poke her, and gave them big smiles...they were soon in love with her, too.

They left, and I told her what was going to happen: soon, nurse would come and wheel her flying bed into a room, where they were going to put stickers on her chest and then she was going to take a nap while they fixed her.

They came and wheeled her away, and she chattered with the nurse about care bears as Jason and I bawled as soon as she couldn't see us anymore. But apparently my chat with her was good; as she got into the operating room, She took her pillow and the CareBears blanket my mom made for her ages ago, crawled over to the operating table, lay down, and went to sleep.

She was in surgery for about an hour. The surgeon said there was no nerve damage, and the bite missed her eye completely. He expects the scars to be minimal, maybe even not noticeable when she is grown.

She woke up in recovery moments after we got there, and crawled onto my lap. She asked for coffee, which made everyone around her laugh. Instead, she got ice chips, and fell asleep on my chest again.

She is doing fine now. The swelling is almost gone. She hasn't developed a fear of dogs, though Magic is in quarantine for 7 more days; I am not sure how she will react to her.

And Jason and I are doing ok. The horror of something hurting your baby...is not something I ever want to experience again. But I know now we can handle anything as a family.

And that I have the best daughter in the world.

*This is how Violet says 'careful'. We hear this A LOT now.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Today.

Princess Nebraska had this quote on her blog today. I think that it is entriely relevant to today's proceedings, no matter your beliefs or leanings.

A belief that we are connected as one people. If there’s a child on the south side of Chicago who can’t read, that matters to me, even if it’s not my child. If there’s a senior citizen somewhere who can’t pay for her prescription and has to choose between medicine and the rent, that makes my life poorer, even if it’s not my grandmother. If there’s an Arab American family being rounded up without benefit of an attorney or due process, that threatens my civil liberties. It’s that fundamental belief — I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sisters’ keeper — that makes this country work. It’s what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family. “E pluribus unum.” Out of many, one.

Yet even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes. Well, I say to them tonight, there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America — there’s the United States of America. There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America. The pundits like to slice-and-dice our country into Red States and Blue States; Red States for Republicans, Blue States for Democrats. But I’ve got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the Blue States, and we don’t like federal agents poking around our libraries in the Red States. We coach Little League in the Blue States and have gay friends in the Red States. There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq and patriots who supported it. We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.

In the end, that’s what this election is about. Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope? I’m not talking about blind optimism here — the almost willful ignorance that thinks unemployment will go away if we just don’t talk about it, or the health care crisis will solve itself if we just ignore it. No, I’m talking about something more substantial. It’s the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs; the hope of immigrants setting out for distant shores; the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta; the hope of a mill worker’s son who dares to defy the odds; the hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.

The audacity of hope!

-Barack Obama, 2004 Democratic National Convention

Friday, October 31, 2008

Meandering Thoughts About Depression.

Every time there is a woman going through depression, I am reminded of my struggle. I think there is some part of mental illness, even Post Partum Depression, that is like an addiction: you have to be aware of it for the rest of your life. It is always a part of you. And you can look back at parts of your life before the diagnoses and see glimpses of it then. It is completely enmeshed with your identity.


Jason can see parts of his addictive nature in everything…his obsession with our budget, his hunt for new foods to try, his tendency to take something and run with it to the extreme.

He can look back at his days as a carver in his early teens, his need for attention, his penchant for doing crazy things to get an adrenaline rush.


I look at my adolescence and remember feeling out of place. Out of my skin. Like I wasn’t really a part of the acceptable world. I constantly strove to make better grades, to be the smartest, since I wasn’t the prettiest or the most clever. I had to be the smart one. I constantly escaped into books and movies and a rich imagination. If I couldn’t be the best at something, like math or 4H or heck, even cleaning my room, I gave up. Sure, there was the standard parental pressure of the 80’s and 90’s on the oldest child to be successful, but my parents were generally supportive. And loved me unconditionally. Possibly even more than that, since they tried for 7 years before they had me. There was just something that misfired in my brain and told me I wasn’t good enough.

I didn’t realize this was an abnormal feeling until diagnosed with PPD. And my therapy sessions revealed that perhaps PPD was more of a trigger, that this clinical depression was lying dormant for MUCH longer. And it made SO much sense. And I was relieved.

But like I said, it is a lifelong struggle. Like Jason has moments when he craves meth so badly that he can taste it, I sometimes long to crawl into my bed and roll around in my sadness. I have to fight my natural instinct, to indulge in my misery, and instead embrace happiness. Not all the time, of course, but there are definite moments.


We both fight these urges, for our girl. She is the one who made us a family. Who forced us to be grown-ups, to pull ourselves up and make ourselves better. She is the light of our lives, and easily the best thing either of us has done. She is the reason I take the little white pill every day, the reason Jason says no.

And we watch. We look for little signs. Does her love for fast rides and daredevil tactics predict a life of searching for the next high? Does the shaking rage when she doesn’t get her way indicate a misfiring synapse? Did she get the wrong number in the Roulette wheel? I mean, she has a mother who is clinically depressed, a father who is a drug addict, she was born on Smoker’s New Year…Is there any hope?


Then I look at her. I watch her hug the dogs, and sing Jingle Bells (the Bing Crosby version), and tell me, “Good night, darling, I love you,” because darling is the term of endearment I use most for her. I hug her, hold her tight, tell her everyday she is beautiful and I love her. And I know that no matter what happens…we will be ok.

She will be ok.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Bring on the Peppermint!

No Diabetes!

I was thrilled and surprised. After 3 weeks of being given the run-around and being stuck like a pin cushion, I can safely eat the truffles hidden in my desk.

Like most things, though, something good came out of this whole debacle: Jason was been cooking healthy food.

This may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but this is a man who insists grease is more beneficial than vitamins. Who had a 3 day argument with me over whether it was cruel to give our daughter soy milk. Who believes vegetables should be covered in Velveeta.

We have been making gradual changes for over a year…changing our breads and pastas to whole wheat…banishing high fructose corn syrup…trading products for organic versions (have you tried the all-natural Cheetos? NO ORANGE DUST = AWESOME.)

But this…

Jason didn’t know anything about diabetes when we were told I was a candidate. He did some research, and became TERRIFIED. (Dads should Google even less than moms.) He began to fear for the health of his wife and second daughter. He was an emotional mess.

So, he did what he does, what I love him for. He grabbed the freakin’ bull by the horns.

He researched and found Asian food was the best cuisine for people with sugar problems, and has incredible health benefits. He found the best types of veggies to use, the oyster and sesame and soy and chili sauces he would need. He invested in a wok and found the best way to use peanut oil.

He learned how to cook TOFU.

This is something we are continuing though the tests were negative. He has embraced this lifestyle, and we are running with it. Not to say we still won’t be indulging in the rich, caloric food Jason excels at. In fact, one of the benefits of the healthy food is the allowance to continue his Quest to Perfect All Desserts.

We have so much more energy. Our bodies feel less creaky and decrepit. And our girl, who refuses to eat with anything but chopsticks now, who devours tofu and broccoli and carrots, who eats more in one sitting of ‘Chinee Foot’ than she would in an entire day before, will reap the benefits as well.

So this bump turned out to be a ramp after all.

Friday, October 10, 2008

My Original Adorable Girl.

or, 'Look what I found! '

When Vi was first born, we had this HORRIBLE digital camera we got for fifty dollars. New. But it enabled us to capture a few grainy moments in time with our beloved firstborn.

Then. The computer crashed. With all of my pictures.

I was crushed.

But through the magic of 'websites I uploaded photos to and then promptly forgot about', I have regained some of these lovelies.

Bask in the glory with me. You know you want to!



my violet in a basket

i can still feel her delightful infanty-ness in my arms when i look at this one.

ok, a little devilish. but still my lovely.

i am DYING of the cuteness.


plop. am now dead.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Bump.

Baby Carli is a big girl.

While we were in the ultrasound last week, Jason kept commenting on how…squished she seemed. How she didn’t seem to have nearly as much room to move around as Violet did. We didn’t think much of it until the midwife said later, “Yeah, that’s a big baby.”

She is measuring at least 1 lb; they would have expected her to be just over half a pound.

So, I have spent this week trying to get tested for gestational diabetes. I have been to the midwives’ office every day this week, only to be thwarted. Monday is when she told me, but I didn’t have enough time to take the test that day. Tuesday, they were closed. Wednesday, I arrived too late to be tested. Finally, this morning at 7:30, they drew my blood.

The results won’t be back for a couple of days.

Really, in the scheme of things, this is a minor complication. Since our diet mainly consists of whole wheat pastas and lean meats, vegetables and organic snacks, I wouldn’t have to change much in the way of food. I have been getting the recommended daily exercise. I have been instinctively doing what the diabetes websites recommend, including protein in the morning and snacks every couple of hours.

I suppose, really, I shouldn’t be stressed about this. A few minor changes, like cutting out the toasted marshmallow lattes and the occasional peppermint ice cream, will rectify the situation.

Its just…another complication. This road to my girl has been rough. I thought, looking at her beautiful little self on the ultrasound monitor, that we were in for smooth sailing.

It could be nothing. The tests could come back negative.

Just another bump in the road.

Monday, October 6, 2008

The Bebe Ninja

The day I found out your name, there was snow on the mountains. I could see the peaks covered as I drove to the appointment. Though you won’t grow up here, I like knowing that there was something majestic to see the day we met.

My Carli Jay.

My second princess.

Your father and I are both over the moon for you. We can’t wait to hold you, touch you, play with you, stare at you. Your big sister, who calls you Baby Carti, insists you come out NOW, although we really prefer you to stay in there and bake a bit longer.

You, second little girl, are the one we prayed for. Thank you for completing our family.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

And once again, Aniticipation

Thursday.

Thursday is when we find out the gender of my beautiful, hyper little ninja bebe.

I am ridiculously excited, don’t get me wrong; but I am not fraught about the gender, as I was when it was a bebe Violet in my belly.

I don’t know what I would prefer. There is part of me that would love a little boy, a little man to share that bond I hear so much about. A little Jason to give Mohawks to and to dress in little cargo pants. A little male I can teach to respect women and to do the right thing as often as humanly possible.

But there is the other part that adores mothering a girl. Who wants her daughter to have that connection I have with my sisters. Who has a thrill every morning when her daughter picks out her own crazy outfit and gallops around the house, half punk rock star, half fairy princess. Who is teaching her daughter manners and respect, but also how to stand up for herself and take guff from No One.

So, honestly, with every part of my being, I can say I have no preference. That I will be ecstatic no matter the outcome.

Because, for me, this ultrasound isn’t about whether bebe is a Carli or a David. It is about seeing my miracle, my child who I wanted to much, look like a baby. To see the little heart, the little organs, the little brain. To know all the parts are there, to know everything is fine.

I feel the movement. I feel the twirls, the surprisingly strong kicks to my kidneys and ovaries. I have heard the heartbeat, and have seen the bebe on the monitor 3 times. But that bebe, the one that looked like a bean, a gummy bear, an alien…that bebe is so small, so fragile. I have not been utterly convinced everything is ok. I know this is just my brain doing the anxiety thing it does best…but that doesn’t really make it any better.

I have been waiting for this day for 4 months. The day when I can meet my bebe, when I can spend a copious amount of time staring at odd images on a monitor and ask ridiculous questions about the bebe parts. When I can see for my own eyes that this bebe is not only alive and well, but also thriving and healthy.

Only 48 hours and 27 minutes to go.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Do your good deed for the day.

Cass is donating $9.00 to Breast Cancer research for every comment left on her post.
I doubt any of us has not been affected in some way by breast cancer. My grandmother didn't find hers until it was too late.
Do your good deed and feel good knowing you helped just a little bit.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

...Sweet Home

It is part of our long term plan as a family to move to Florida. Not only to be near my parents, but also because we fell in love with Panama City during our wedding trip.

Most of the time, when I am envisioning our future there, I am going over the things I dislike about Alaska-the cold summers, the long winters, the bad drivers, the isolation.

Jennie asked me today if I would miss it.

I thought of the fall here. The leaves turn gold, and the red berries appear. The air is crisp, no matter if the sky is grey or blue. You layer on clothes because you refuse to take out a heavy coat just quite yet. The weather goes from a steel grey drizzle to a bright blue sky and back again in the span of a day.

I moved here in the fall. I spent my days walking through a patch of trees to get to my classes on campus. There is a smell of wet earth you get only here, a smell that is both putrid and delightful, as if you can smell the earth gaining nutrients. I learned what termination dust, the beginnings of snow on the peaks of the mountains, forebode. I breathed in cool, clean air.

I fell in love with Jason in the fall. We found out we were pregnant in August, and we decided to commit to each other, to find out if we were really the soulmates we suspected we were. We spent hours cooking together, walking together, riding the bus together. We explored each other’s hearts, and liked what we found. We curled up in my tiny apartment with very little real furniture and planned our futures.

Which involved the little babe inside me who was to become Violet. I also spent that fall falling in love with her. Walking through more trees on my way to work, singing to her, talking to her. I was never sure before her whether parenthood was right for me. But this girl, this spark, this little life, I knew this was my purpose. I knew my life was going to be devoted to her from then on.

And this fall. Where I am cozy in my fuzzy shoes and sweaters, planning for this new babe. Where I enjoy many conveniences and luxuries I never would have imagined those 3 falls ago. Where I can look at my husband and daughter proudly, knowing I am doing the best I can for them. Knowing that our hard work and smart living is beginning to pay off as we can see our future plans beginning to come true. This fall, where I take my daughter for walks down safe streets, and her health and vibrancy allows her to run ahead in search of the perfect rock. Where she can recognize the snow on top of her favourite mountain, where she can exclaim over the moose in the parking lot.

I don’t know if I will miss Alaska as an entity. Because all these little things – the stream where we took our first family photo, the park where Violet runs amuck, the sunrises I studied when I was in the throes of depression from my miscarriage – these are things I carry in my heart.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

There's this girl I know...

I met her when she started dating my close friend. Though we have found so many other connections in our lives, I have no idea how we missed each other.

This guy she started dating…he was a rock at a difficult time in my life. We met when we were both theatre students at University. He was cynical and smart, and also much more naturally sophisticated than the rest of us at that time.

He found out he was being deployed to Iraq – mere months before his Reserves service was up - within days of me finding out I was knocked up. We both had these huge, life-altering changes happening at the same time; most of the people around us handled us with kid gloves and operated in a state of shock. We didn’t have that luxury-we had to embrace our different situations. We both became bona fide Adults that year, and I know he helped me through that.

He is one of the few people that remember Violet’s first nickname was Worm. He bought her the Curious George books she knows by heart. He thought up reasons for me to get out of the house after my miscarriage. He is one of the most generous people I have ever known.

And he was single. FOREVER. No girl was right for him, and I was fine with that, because I had yet to meet the girl good enough for him.

But he found her on his own.

Now, I am hard to please when it comes to the significant others of those close to me. Both of my sisters and both of my best girl friends have been subjected to tirades about their men. It takes a near-miracle to get into my good graces if you are dating one of my people.

And there were times that I wasn’t sure of Blaze. Wesley is a special guy, one of the best out there. The kind of man I want my daughter to marry. It takes a certain kind of woman to live up to that.

The kind of woman who volunteers at the women’s shelter. The kind who begs to come over for dinner to fawn over your daughter. The kind who puts aside her own pain to help others.

Blaze has a heartbreaking story. Yet she shines with hope. That glimmer, that shine that you get from her words? That is her in real life.

Monday, September 8, 2008

22 Weeks and 5 Days To Go

"Jason, will you take a pregnant belly picture?"

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"Oh, wait, that one has a sweat stain. Take another one."

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"No, no, that one looks like I am picking my nose! Take another one."

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"Stop taking pictures of Violet and just shoot the dang picture already!"

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"Ho-lee. That is one Stepford looking pose. I should have stuck with the sweatstains. I'll just post a picture of Violet."

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Embarrassing thing I have eaten this week: Hmmm. Pretty normal stuff this week. Oh, wait, I know! Tortellini in red sauce covered in slaw.

Silly thing I have gotten angry over this week: About 95% of the drivers in Anchorage.

Thing that made me cry this week: My darling, lovely incomparable Miss Ali moved to Montana this week. I know she had to go, but I am one teary mama.

Names we have ‘settled’ on this week: David Carl and Carli Dawn are still the biggies on the table, though Eden and Alison have been tossed around.

Thing that made erupt with laughter this week: ok, so i was making a sandwich with ranch dressing on it, while talking to Jason about our relationship...he was apparently more into it that I was...He said, "well...I love you." and i, thinking of my sandwich to dressing ratio, said, "That isn't enough..." I looked up, and he was STUNNED...when i realized what happened, I so very nearly peed myself with laughter. We were CRYING with mirth.

What is going on with Violet: A frightening obsession with NiHao Kailan. And insisting that new bebe stay in mama's belly FOREVER.

What is going on with the Bebe: Heartbeat of 145, which is what Violet was at nearly the whole time. Stealthy ninja baby swims away very fast, so we didn't get to hear the heartbeat very long. But bebe DID kick Jason's hand last night. Bebe kicks his hand, I STOMP all over his HEART. :)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Pickin' the Bones

‘We speak now of half-baked Alaska. Having been there, I know its residents are loving people. It's just that to them higher education is learning how to get their pants on over their skis. Even the major cities of Juneau and Fairbanks don't do dinner parties. Know why? Because folks can't spell RSVP. Kill me, beat me, I will never mention the Alaskan grandmother who went on the pill because she didn't want more grandchildren.’ -Cindy Adams, the New York Post

Whoa.

I won’t (today) go into my view of politics (besides to say that even if you adore Sarah Palin, JOHN MCCAIN would still be president. Many people around here seem to forget that.) But this Alaska thing has been irritating me.

It is very cool that this woman who pulled herself up to this position came from our state. It is awesome that she is representative of the average working mom. It is amazing that things like this, to go from the PTA to the potential White House can happen, DO happen in Alaska. I am proud to be from a place where that can happen.

But I would like to point out to the national media and the people in the Lower 48 watching it: we are not all rednecks.

We do not all sit in bars, wearing beer t-shirts and Carrharts, watching Governor Sarah on the Magic Box as she gives a speech.

We do not all carry guns and shoot moose, to then make it into stew to take to the hockey game with us.

We do not all have grizzly beards and wear flannel as we pan for gold, as our dog sled sits idly by.

I came to the University here because at the time, they had a cutting-edge, hands on theatre program. There are 3 community theatre companies that have their own houses, and countless troupes that work out of rented spaces.

We host an international conference every year, where hundreds of playwrights come to workshop new plays, make new connections, and show their work, whether it is on a main stage, a workroom, or the fringe festival.

We have the most coffee houses per capita in the nation, most of them serving locally roasted coffee that makes your mouth water. Even the gruffest sourdough can be found most days with a latte or mocha in his hand.

In order to catch the annual performance of The Nutcracker, (yes, the BALLET) you have to reserve your tickets months in advance. Nearly everyone in town has been at least once. You may see more jeans and fleece than couture and Manolos, but these people will accept you no matter how you are dressed.

Every cafĂ© or coffee house you go into is plastered with art created by locals. I don’t go a week without an invitation to a new gallery showing. The weekly street market teems with street performers, and even our panhandlers have a witty side.

And we do have dinner parties. Maybe we are all dressed in jeans instead of cocktail dresses, but the food is exceptional, the discussions intellectual, and the games crazy fun. Our thanksgiving potluck last year included a geologist who is now working on a Geoclimate program at Brown University, a writer who spent a year in Iraq in the reserves, an activist for women’s rights, a fisheries biologist, a nurse who is putting herself through school despite working full time and being a single mom, and a women who works to provide healthcare to children in foster care. And I believe all of them could spell RSVP.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Life is too short to...

meme'd from Jennie of She Likes Purple, who has the best, most beautiful thoughts. mine simply pale in comparison.

…not watch Spongebob with your daughter.
…take your husband’s love for granted.
…not make that wonton recipe.
…eat food that is not delicious.
…give up sweet tea.
…live in a place you don’t love.
…pass up an opportunity to move to the beach.
…use below-par moisturizer.
…dwell on the mistakes instead of the triumphs.
…worry about your butt in a bathing suit.
…not say ‘I love you,’ Every. Single. Day.
…stop cleaning to give your husband a hug.
…not enjoy grocery shopping.
…to waste one day wearing something you don’t love.
…pretend you care about something you don’t give a fig about. (FOOTBALL. I do not even try to stay awake anymore.)
…not use a sick day to spend time with your daughter.
…not recycle. Seriously, people.
…not cry during a chick flick.
…be too careful with love to have your heart broken.
…make plans you will never keep.
…spend time with people you don’t love.
…not stare at the pretty orchid (mountain, sky, grass, tree) for a while.
…not take that delicious nap.

Monday, August 25, 2008

24 weeks and 5 days to go.

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Embarrassing thing I have eaten this week: A cheese and potato sandwich on wonder bread and slathered with ranch dressing.

Silly thing I have gotten angry over this week: Jason cleaning the house while I rested on the couch. I KNOW. I KNOW.

Thing that made me cry this week: Ash’s comment on my last post. Thanks, dearie.

Names we have ‘settled’ on this week: David Carl and Carli Dawn. (Carl is my dad’s name, David is Jason’s dad’s name, and Dawn is my little sister’s middle name.)

Thing that made erupt with laughter this week: Violet referring to every pink pig at the State Fair as ‘Wilbur’.

What is going on with Violet: First ever haircut! (minus the time she got her finger stuck and we had to cut a chunk!) and a Brand! New! Tricycle!

What is going on with the Bebe: After worrying for, oh, ages that I couldn’t feel the bebe moving yet, I tortured the heck out of my uterus. And it pushed back! A little angrily, I might add. Maybe I should chill and wait for bebe to make their own appearance.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

a pedestal made of rubble

If you met my husband at a party, you would be pulled in by his charm. He may sing some karaoke, Johnny Cash or Neil Diamond. He may pull out his mid-90’s dance moves to make you laugh.

If you came to our house for dinner, he would make you something fabulous, like standing rib roast or meatloaf on savory French toast. He would engage you in a Wii competition or try to beat you at a round of charades.

If you ran into him at the park, you would see him pushing his daughter on the swings, chasing bubbles with her, racing her down the slide. He might stop and ask about your child, pet your dog, chat about the weather.

You would never assume he is a recovering addict.

He grew up in a small Midwestern town, where he started smoking by age 9. He comes from a long line of alcoholics, and wasn’t even in kindergarten when he had his first drink of beer.

When I was in middle school, I went shopping, played flute in band, obsessed over Rider Strong. Jason was drinking and smoking pot. He became a carver; he still bears the scars on his shoulders, his feet, a thick, 6 inch line across his thigh. His most obvious scar is the foot long, raised, red slash along his left forearm. He will tell you he was in a car accident, he was burned on a grill; in fact, this is what is left of his arm after plastic surgery to remove the evidence of carving.

I am not sure when Crystal Meth entered the picture. I do know that he went to rehab and it didn’t work. I know that he lived under an overpass for a time. I know that his supervisor at work encouraged it so he could work the 12 hour shifts. I know that each stint of sobriety was short-lived. That he started his last round of using while he was in school to become a drug counselor.

His crash came at a point when he was doing 2 eight balls at a time. His heart stopped. Meth officially killed him. He was dead for 8 minutes, I believe.

The amount of drugs they found on him was enough to put him away for intent to distribute. He told them he only intended to distribute to his own body, but he was still put in prison. This is where he got sober.

He lived a low key life for a while after that. He moved into the basement of a family who were to become his best friends. He took a low-pressure job as a karaoke DJ, and spent his days playing video games and helping to raise his friend’s 3 kids.

In December 2004, 4 years after his last downward spiral, he moved to Anchorage to start a new life. I met him 5 months later, and we have been together ever since.

The addiction will never leave his life. There are times when he is hit with a craving, simply out of nowhere. His memory is severely affected by the drug use; he would not be able to tell you what he had for dinner yesterday. He retains important bits of information by repetition. We have been blessed in that the important things are easy for him to remember…Violet’s birthday is 4/20, she weighed 7lb, 11 oz. Anything else, I am the gatekeeper for.

He will spend the rest of his life as a recovering addict, and it will keep from things…jobs, international travel, the full trust of his relatives, who are always waiting for that descent.

But to me…he is amazing. Strong. Powerful. Gentle, charismatic, funny. He takes responsibility for his mistakes, he has made a new life.

He is my hero.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

umm....

so. Jason got the Sims 2 for his computer. and for mine. so...um...sorry about the no posting!!!! I am building houses for imaginary computer people!!! Be back soon!!!!

I am also working on pretty intense post with my friend, Blaze...hopefully, it will be up soon.

Ok, Thanks! Have to go redecorate my imaginary house now! Bye!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The 100th Post

I have spent more than a week thinking about this post. I wanted to do something important, something that spoke to me.

Not the flu i had last week. Not the surprise birthday party in the park for Jason's 30th that got rained out. Not the current battle of baby names in the household. And definielty not another rant about the TERRORS of pregnancy.

What speaks to me? What is the best thing I can give?

This.
This is my heart. My love.
My reason for everything.
She gave my life a purpose I never expected. She gives me joy everyday.
My heart lifts everytime I see her. I am so incredibly lucky that I get to spend my life loving this girl.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cause for Celebration

It has been just over 8 weeks since I found out I was pregnant again.

THAT was a harrowing day.

We had gone to the grocery store, which I usually love. Yes, I know, weird, but Jason and I love to cook together; we walk through the store and I listen as he dreams up new things. Violet rides in the cart with a plastic car attached or runs just ahead of us, her little arms moving back and forth, her little feet never stopping. She gets adoring looks from other shoppers; she rarely, if ever, has a tantrum. Instead, she just exudes excitement over being in the store. We pick out produce and exclaim over ice cream. She gets a treat. (Not ALWAYS candy…last time, she picked out a toothbrush. I know, weird kid. )

But this time, 8 weeks ago, I hated it. I was irate through the store. I felt the walls closing in on me. I didn’t feel well, and I was completely irritated.

We got home and were unloading the groceries, when Violet hit her head on the door. More accurately, stepped in to the door I had just let go to close. She fell to the ground and started sobbing. I snatched her up and started sobbing. Jason came upstairs to find us sitting in the living room, bawling our eyes out.

He calmed Violet down, but no such luck with me. I finally went to the bathroom, and was struck with the inspiration to use the last pregnancy test in the bathroom. (Yes, there are usually pregnancy tests in my bathroom. When you get surprisingly knocked up once, you get pretty obsessive about knowing the status of your uterus.)

I wasn’t even late yet. My period was due to start the next day, so I was pretty skeptical. But low and behold, by the time I was washing my hands, there were two pink lines. I stopped breathing for a minute, then screamed, “JASON!”

I can’t remember his reaction. I only remember starting to hyperventilate and gag. Then I went into the living room, where he has sprayed air freshener, and gagged for real. I made it out to the porch before I threw up. I was bawling and gasping, a real hot mess.

I never expected to react that way. The two previous times I have gotten positive tests, I was immediately filled with joy. This time, I was overtaken with fear.

It had only been 3 months since I lost Max. I didn’t know how I could go through it again. I didn’t trust that God wasn’t going to take this one.

The first two weeks, I was constantly waiting for another miscarriage to happen. I was not fit for human company. Once I got past the 6 week mark, where I had lost Max, I started to breathe a little easier. We started having tentative discussions about names. I started to look apprehensively at baby gear. I still didn’t take it for granted, didn’t really believe that it was going to happen this time. My ill-fitting pants and burgeoning tummy were saying that all was going well, but my bruised heart was telling me not get attached.

According to my pregnancy calendar, yesterday I entered the second trimester. I am really starting to believe there is going to be a new bebe in my arms come February.

You know what? I think that is a stir of joy I am feeling.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Jill

I remember the first time I saw Jill.

It was my first week at the University of Alaska Anchorage, and I was attending a theatre major's meeting. The department was small, perhaps only 30 dedicated Theatre majors, which was one of the reasons I chose the school. I was so painfully aware of my shyness at that meeting, sure I was sticking out like a sore thumb. I could be confident and calm in so many other situations, but these were the people I wanted to respect and whose respect i wanted to earn. I was insanely nervous.

Jill was sitting a few rows ahead of me, stroking the hair of her then-boyfriend. Something about her made me want to watch her, made my eye go back to her as I tried to focus on the speeches.

I didn't see her again until the first audition of the year. I was waiting patiently for what seemed like hours, chewing my nails and trying to focus on a British accent that I can only pull off when I am pretending to be a tourist in Walmart. (WAY off topic, but Jason can only sing Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer with a British accent. Remind me to tell you that story.) Anyways, Jill breezed in, wearing a skirt and heels, was lauded by the director, cold read a beautiful audition, and breezed out.

I was enchanted and terrified.

She was the most natural actor I had ever seen in real life. She had grace and charm, with a dash of skittishness. I once told my Acting TA that I could watch her peel a banana, then probably give her a rousing ovation.

4 months later, I worked backstage on a show she stage-managed. We hit it off. We ran for Theatre club officer together, we skipped Stagecraft together, we laughed, we applauded each other's successes. She directed me in the last show I did before dropping out due to my pregnancy, and was actually once of the first people who knew I was all knocked up.

I was astounded and amazed she thought me to be her equal.

She is tall and fair-skinned, naturally blonde, but also a killer redhead, and smart. Effortlessly cool because she thinks she's not, and sarcastic in the way that you wish you could be.

She has had a bit of a rough year, and now finds herself a single, successful woman who is finding her way through life.

She just started writing a blog
. She is more honest and eloquent than I could hope to be. Check her out. I think you'll like her.

Blogging the Recession...

from Motherhood Uncensored...

"The premise is simple. If you read blogs, then for the month of August, make the "pledge" to click through from your feed reader. No obligation to leave a hilarious comment or send a long stalkerish email (although both, within reason, are always lovely). Just click through and if you're feeling generous, click around.
Just those extra page views can make a big difference for bloggers who could really use the help, or in my case, where page views don't matter so much, a big fat ego boost. "


This year has been tough for me. The miscarriage, lots of sickness, my mom's cancer scare, and not being able to be near my family for some pretty major events...well, this has been a tough year.

I love the idea of just giving a little ego boost to those around you. And sometimes, just knowing people are out there reading your words can be enough.

Let's support each other. Let's blog the heck outta this recession.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

BOOK IT. *

Totally stolen from She Likes Purple.

DISCLAIMER: Um...Looks like I did read a lot of these. But...in my defense...I started reading at age 3, went to High School in Canada (where the required reading list is DAUNTING) and...well...I am a big dork.

Key1) Bold the books you have already read
2) Italicize the books you intend to read
3) Personally added: Notes in parentheses next to note-worthy titles.

***********************

1) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
2) The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien (Um, sorry in advance, but can we say WORDY?)
3) Jane Eyre by Charlotte (DELICIOUS.)
4) Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling (sadly, sadly addicted.)
5) To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee (would like to name my child Scout, but Demi and Bruce STOLE IT FROM ME YEARS BEFORE I WAS OF CHILD BEARING AGE.)
6) The Bible
7) Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
8) Nineteen Eighty Four by George Orwell (ADORE Orwell.)
9) His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
10) Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
11) Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (My favourite book from the time I was 7 until I discovered A Tree Grows in Brooklyn at 21.)
12) Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
13) Catch 22 by Joseph Heller
14) Complete Works of Shakespeare (Not my fault. Theatre major.)
15) Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier
16) The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien
17) Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks
18) Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger (Though it makes me think of “The Good Girl” more than the book…)
19) The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Slow going at first, then I adored it…)
20) Middlemarch by George Eliot
21) Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell (actually…embarrassingly…I am obsessed with the book and movie…I collect Gone with the Wind memorabilia…)
22) The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
23) Bleak House by Charles Dickens
24) War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
25) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (My ex was obsessed…)
26) Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh
27) Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28) Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (um...I didn't like this. Sorry. The Turtle chapters got to me.)
29) Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
30) The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame
31) Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (Oprah made me do it. And, I gotta say…BORING.)
32) David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
33) Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis (ALL of them)
34) Emma by Jane Austen
35) Persuasion by Jane Austen
36) The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by CS Lewis (One of the books I read to Violet in my Belly.)
37) The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
38) Captain Corelli's Mandolin by Louis De Bernieres
39) Memories of a Geisha by Arthur Golden (So heart-breaking.)
40) Winnie the Pooh by AA Milne (I think this would be good to read with Vi to the New Bebe in my Belly.)
41) Animal Farm by George Orwell (one of my favourites of all time…)
42) The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (Angels and Demons was better.)
43) One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44) A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving
45) The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
46) Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery
47) Far From The Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
48) The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (I read the Robber Bride and Alias Grace a whole bunch of times...that should count...)
49) Lord of the Flies by William Golding ( DESPISE this book. The first time I ever hated something that was required reading)
50) Atonement by Ian McEwan
51) Life of Pi by Yann Martel
52) Dune by Frank Herbert (Jason makes me watch the RIDICULOUSLY LONG MOVIE, I should totally get credit for that.)
53) Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
54) Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
55) A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth
56) The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57) A Tale Of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
58) Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Read in conjuction with 1984, not for credit. JUST BECAUSE.)
59) The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
60) Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61) Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (The only reason I don’t despise Stienbeck)
62) Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov (creepy, dude. CREEPY.)
63) The Secret History by Donna Tartt
64) The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
65) Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas (BORING.)
66) On The Road by Jack Kerouac
67) Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
68) Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding (This made the list? Seriously?)
69) Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
70) Moby Dick by Herman Melville
71) Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens ( one of the first books I ever bawled through. I read when I was 8)
72) Dracula by Bram Stoker
73) The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
74) Notes From A Small Island by Bill Bryson
75) Ulysses by James Joyce (Strangley enough, I was inspired to read this by George Clooney.)
76) The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (Dude, I was angsty, and I even thought this was DEPRESSING. Well-written, but DEPRESSING.)
77) Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome
78) Germinal by Emile Zola
79) Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray
80) Possession by AS Byatt
81) A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (LOVE LOVE LOVE.)
82) Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell
83) The Color Purple by Alice Walker (CRY CRY CRY)
84) The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro
85) Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (Um, I tried. Nope.)
86) A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry
87) Charlotte's Web by EB White (I have been thinking of reading this with violet...but it seems kind of...morbid.)
88) The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom
89) Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Read when I was 10. Liked Encyclopedia Brown better.)
90) The Faraway Tree Collection by Enid Blyton
91) Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
92) The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93) The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks
94) Watership Down by Richard Adams
95) A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
96) A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
97) The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas (Aramis, my heart be still.)
98) Hamlet by William Shakespeare (The Taming of the Shrew is better.)
99) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
100) Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

so...50 out of 100. Not bad, I suppose. I am surprised, I always feel so less well-read than everyone else around me.

*Anyone remember this program from elementary school? You read so many books and they gave you a free personal pan pizza coupon form Pizza Hut? I was drowning in personal pan pizza coupons....

Monday, July 28, 2008

One of the ways having a daughter brightens my day...

how can you be grumpy after watching this?

By the way, my ma does not have cancer! Thanks for all the well wishes and prayers.

She has been diagnosed with something called Histiocytosis, though we don't know the extent yet. Any info any of you have is more than welcome.

I spent 2 weeks on edge, waiting to hear the results, but holding it together. When I found out, I cried, got a fever, then slept all afternoon. Then I got up, picked a fight with Jason, cried some more, then fell asleep again. Apparently, I handle a crisis well, but after the crisis is over, WATCH OUT, HERE COMES THE CRAZY. Luckily, the next morning I was back to normal.

Ma and I have a close bond...actually, the four women in my immediate family are all very close. Ma is the matriarch, I am the crazy one, Mandie is reliable and hilarious, Bethany is a bit of a diva but also very big-hearted. I speak to one or more of them at least twice a week, despite the 3,000 mile gap between us. I want to think of this as a natural bond; but the more I see of other women and the women they are related to...the more I think we must be unnatural. It is not the norm for four highly-charged and passionate women to be so close.

We do all work to stay close, to stay involved in each other lives. But we are very lucky to have a mother who encouraged and fostered our friendships.

Though I will love my bebe-in-baking no matter the gender, I am hoping for another girl. I want my daughter to have the built-in support system I have been blessed with.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

cherish her.

A woman on Oprah, victim of horrific abuse, made a comment about always knowing she would leave a man for hitting her, but that she didn't realize that by that time it was too late.

I live in a state with some of the highest rates of crime against woman in the country. I know too many women who have been abused. I know women who have been nearly killed, who have been strangled while pregnant, who have permanent scars from the men in their lives.

Why? I wish I knew. I wish I could take every ounce of domestic violence away. I wish my daughter didn't have to grow up in a world where this is so commonplace. How am I supposed to protect her? How do I teach her to know which partner will truly love her, and which one will shred her dignity, her mind, her body?

It seems to start off so minutely. Just these little jabs, this slow pecking away of self esteem, imperceptible to the naked eye. Snide comments about looks, intelligence, talent, common sense, housekeeping habits, anything. Slowly escalating to outright insults, name calling, blatant condescension.

He makes you feel as though you have brought it on yourself. He is a manipulator who makes you think it is all your fault. He makes you feel that everything that goes wrong in his life is at your hands.

I know this firsthand. I was in the place where I was made to feel low. I was made to believe I was nothing and deserved worse. I literally lost all of myself, and thought there was nothing in me worth loving.

I was lucky. When he threw the shoe at my head, I ended it. I was able to go to my parents. I was able to get out.

It was a long recovery. I didn't date for a year, trying to find myself. Through friends, family, faith, and soul searching, I had regained most of my former self by the time I met my gorgeous and loving husband.

But I know so many who are not so lucky. Girls who believe the man who could do this to them could really love them. (they can't.) Who believe they will get better on their own. (they won't.) And who truly think that they are at least partially to blame. (they aren't.)

I want so much for them. I want to give them strength and power. I want to give them a place to go. I want to take away the hurt and restore the confidence. I want them to be the people I know they were before.

I want them to be healed so I can have hope for my daughter's future. I can only instill so much in her, I can only go so far.

At some point, I will have to let her go and let her fly.

I am terrified by this thought. Chilled to the bone.

My dirty little secret.

I hate pregnancy.

Not something you expect to hear from someone who yearned for another child. Nor from any mother, really. We are conditioned to believe that pregnancy is magical and we glow and rainbows shoot out of our butts.

And it is magical. Let me just say up front that I am Astounded (capital on purpose) by the things my body does to sustain this life. I am so very grateful to be nourishing my next child, to be the haven where the bebe develops.

But I am tired of this process I have barely begun.

There is no glow. There is SWEAT. Because even if you feel like you are chilly, you are sweating through the ‘clinical strength’ deodorant and the cami you have to wear to keep your belly from hanging out and the shirt over that and the sweater you wrap around yourself, cause gosh darn it, it is CHILLY. And it SMELLS.

The thick, lustrous hair is a lie. It just looks thicker because of the knots between the layers. That is not shine, that is grease.

Clear skin? HA! My bacne and zit on my NECK (WHAT?!?!) mock that notion.

You notice I waddle? That is because the hormones are loosening my limbs for my hyperactive bebe to expand its living quarters and knocking my hips out of place.

That knowing little smile? Just means that you should move out of the path to the toilet because I am about to hurl.

I am tired of being unable to get comfortable. Of getting up in the middle of the night to pee. Of not being able to eat anything. Of wanting to vomit at the most inopportune moments. Of losing my patience. Of being worn out. Of taking half doses of my anti-depressants, and worrying that the little bit I am taking will forever damage my child.

I am jealous of women who do this effortlessly, who can breeze through pregnancy like a little blip in the road. My body looks like it should be built for babies, but it takes pregnancy hard. I wonder why I seem to struggle so much through something that is a natural event that millions of women endure. I feel like I am not the strong woman I know I am.

I want coffee and sushi and midol.

But more than that, I want my baby. I want my daughter’s sibling. I want to kiss it and love it and know that it is ok and not worry that the heartbeat stopped or I did something wrong I never knew about and there will be no more baby.

This growing babies business is tough.

*I mean no disrespect to those women who are having a hard time getting pregnant. I AM grateful for this pregnancy, and I KNOW how lucky I am. Just a vent, ladies!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Grumps.

I feel like crap. I can barely keep anything down, my back aches, my hips ache, I am tired. I think I need to get my wisdom teeth yanked soon, and I want nothing more than a cup of coffee and a handful of ibuprofen. But instead of whining, how about listing some things I am grateful for?

  • A February due date. I love that my next child is going to share my birth month. Valentine’s day is my second most favorite holiday, and I have visions of heart-themed birthday parties.
  • Reaching the 10 week mark. Making my way out of the single digits was cause for celebration.
  • A husband who makes geeky smart jokes and just assumes I know what he is talking about.
  • Even if I don’t.
  • A daughter who can not only tell me when she has an ear infection (“I have owie in my eaw, Mama.”), but also does not scream at the doctor trying to make her feel better.
  • A daughter who has never given me a hard time about taking medicine. At this point, I just hand her the squirter and she gives it to herself.
  • A Monday afternoon on the couch, watching Spongebob with my girl.
  • A husband who doesn’t make a mess when he pees. I never knew what a problem that was till reading truemomconfessions.
  • Two best friends willing to do anything to make this time easier for me, whether it is cleaning my house or letting me sleep on their shoulder, or yelling at my hubby for not pampering me.
  • Rainy days. I love them, I really do.
  • My ma who makes me laugh. And my sisters who do the same thing. No matter what is going on with them…like my mother’s current screenings for cancer, or my sister’s car accident, or my other sister’s complications from a tonsillectomy…we are those people who laugh through grief.
  • Soda. You make my tummy happy, though you also make me fart.
  • My life. My wonderful baby, my one on the way, my fabulous husband, my girls, my family, my everything. And also, lying on the couch all night while Jason does all the housework.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

just some thoughts.

There cotton floating through the air.

I believe it is the traveling seed of a tree here, maybe a cottonwood? When it is time for pollination and growth, it frees itself from its home and dances away.

It does not seem to rest. It falls in a floaty, lazy way toward the ground, then is caught by a slight upwards currant and goes racing back to the sky. It circles around you as you walk, surrounding you like so many fairies.

And just when you think it has come to rest - on the ground, on a bench, on a car - the slightest breeze comes along, more gentle than you or I would even notice. It is off again.

Days like this, when the sky is gray, the workload is high, and my focus is gone, I long to be one of those pieces of cotton.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Whaaa...? O, yeah, I haz a blog.

oops.

been a long time, eh?

*sheepish grin*

Sorry about that!!!

Some news with me:

Violet goes in the potty for M&M's. When we told daycare she was ready to start using the big girl potty, we were informed she had been 'doing that for awhile'. Apparently, she figured we could wipe her bum till we thought of an appropriate bribe.

It is sunny and above 60 degrees for the Third! Day! In! A! Row! Which means it will rain all over us at the parade on Friday.

I am glad to say I missed the whole Fussy/Fussypants blog fiasco. I am no longer in middle school, so it would have given me a headache to participate.

I think that is it. except, OH YEAH! I am all knocked up. :O

I found out 3 1/2 weeks ago, and immediately vomited. Then had a nervous breakdown. Trying to carry another child shortly after losing one to miscarriage is difficult, harrowing. I never expected that. I was a complete and utter wreck for a little over 2 weeks. I could not bring myself to announce till just now. But I have seen the sac. Next week I will see the heartbeat. I have gotten past the stage I was at when I lost Max.

I am due on Valentine's Day. Keep me in you prayers.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Daddy

I had no idea what kind of father Jason would be.

I knew he was a man who conquered an addiction to meth and alcohol.

I knew he was a man who traveled from the small town in Iowa where he has always lived to Alaska, for the sole purpose of improving his life.

I knew he was a man who was charming and funny, sarcastic and adorable.

I didn’t know he would cry when our daughter was born.

I didn’t know he would change as many diapers as I have.

I didn’t know he would let me sleep in on the weekend, and take care of the
baby all by himself.

I didn’t know he would stay by my side through nearly a year of postpartum craziness.

I didn’t know he would dote on Violet’s every action.

I didn’t know he would allow himself to be wrapped around her finger.

I didn’t know he would be as upset about shots as she was.

I didn’t know he would dance around the living room in princess dress-up with her.

I didn’t know he would teach her the alphabet song.

I didn’t know he would become such an amazing father.

I love you, Jason dear. Happy Father’s Day.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sweet Morning

We are housesitting for my in-laws this week. On top of a gigantic house with a gigantic plasma tv, there are also 2 dogs and Kittyco.
(Kittyco went to live with grandma when the Evil Landlord declared pets were EVIIIIIL.)
Magic, dog number 1, is a female lab mix; a super playful 10 year-old puppy with bad paws and a gentle demeanor.
Chewy, dog number 2, is some kind of small husky type mix thing, a male; a bit crotchety and whiny, also 10 years old, and a complete attention hog.
In the mornings, Violet like to maintain a running conversation with the dogs while I am getting her ready.

I thought you might like a sample.

“Chiaw, Chewy!” (Chill, Chewy.)

“Magi saw siwwie!!” (Magic is so silly.)

“Chewy, no go ouwsigh!” (Please stay in the house, Chewy dear.)

“Magi gif kisses!!” (mother, Magic is showering me with affection.)

“Chewy, eat breffist!!” (Chewy, please eat your breakfast.”

“Magi likes breffist!” (Magic seems to be enjoying her morning kibble.)

“Mama, Chewy up furiture to giff kiss!” (Mother, darling, Chewy climbed up on the couch, the furniture, if you will, to give me a delightful kiss.)

“Kikco, I wuv YOU!!!” (Kittyco, I love you!!!)

Then she kisses both dogs (Magic she grabs the side of her face and plants one on her nose; Chewy gets a more sedate peck on the neck), waves goodbye to Kittyco, and heads off to Daycare.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Jen

I met Jen when we were placed together in student housing at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
Our other two roomates were athletes: one was the gymnastics co-captain, the other was the freshman cross-country star. Jen and I were decidedly un-athletic, and though all 4 of us got along, we two forged a friendship that has has lasted years.

She was in the audience at every performance I gave. I was there with ice cream when Dave left for Seattle. She and I scored the two highest grades in our American History class (aced!), despite skipping quite a few classes.

And she was there when I had to drop out of school to provide for an unexpected pregnancy. I was there to load boxes and move furniture when she finally left her ex. She was there when I found out I had PPD. I was one of the first who knew her son had a hole in his heart.

She has been around longer than my husband has. She knows my moods and understands the swings. She is brilliant and hilarious and crazy and silly and ambitious and fun and I am so very proud of her.

Happy 25th, Jen, my Gweinveire vanAlvinslavin. Here's to the next quarter century together.


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

selective hearing

'Violet, pick up your toys, please.'

'Huh?'

'Pick up your toys, please.'

'Huh?'

'I know you heard me. Please pick up your toys.'

'Huh?'

'Violet, I know you can hear me, I know you can understand me. Please pick up your toys!'

'Huh?'

Pause.

'Want a cookie?'

'COOKIE!'

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Things I Love About Me.

•I have never made it through anything by Franz Kafka. Therefore, I have no idea what ‘Kafkaesque’ means.
•I cannot stand angsty teen music.
•I love female singer-songwriters. With the exception of Beck, this is the only kind of music I buy. My last few cd’s were Jenny Lewis, Alanis, Ryan Adams (who is merely a female singer-songwriter with a penis.)
•Sometimes this includes country music.
•I love to read glurge.
•LOLcats Crack. Me. Up.
•Sometimes I sleep in an extra 20 minutes cause that sleep is more important to me than showering.
•We watch Hannah Montana.
•I adore designer imposter sunglasses.
•I run any scented product by Jason before I buy it. I have 1 perfume (Very Irresistible by Givenchy) that we both approve of.
•All my other products smell like fruit: pomegranate body spray, body wash, and lotion; tangerine shampoo; coconut conditioner. My aim is to smell like a tropical fruit salad.
•I nearly always claim it when I fart.
•I cannot stand Alaskan winters, but the summers almost make it worthwhile.
•I hate camping.
•I abhor fishing.
•Shopping is my favourite sport.
•I love my husband for not caring about the ball game.
•I really and truly believe my daughter is the most beautiful creature on the planet.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Now and then, I get insecure*

A friend told me I looked fabulous today. I shrugged it off.

Of course I don’t look fabulous.

I am fat.

I am not, ‘oh, hai, I am a size 14 and can still shop in the regular ladies’ section’ fat; I am a bona fide size 20 with more than 1 chin. I am legitimately plus size.

But wait.

I am lovely. I am wearing white and denim with silver touches today, and feeling quite boho. My hair is pinned up and styled in my favorite punk-meets-secretary updo. My eye makeup skills get better with age, and my lip gloss is Sephora. My skin has an olive undertone, and despite some stray hairs courtesy of my Gypsy ancestry, is quite clear, and, well, glowing.

I accessorize religiously. I shop for clothes like an Indiana Jones expedition. I embrace colour and style, and gigantic shiny earrings. I am usually the best dressed person in a room, as I pride myself on finding the perfect outfit for every occasion. But I always have that little tiny SIZE ISSUE in the back of my mind.

I have come a long way in the past year, as far as accepting my size, and loving myself. I eat healthy foods, I maintain a level of activity, I take my vitamins, and I love my body for being healthy.

But just today did I realize I could love it for being fabulous.

It doesn’t matter what size I am. I don’t have to shrug off compliments. I don’t have to wonder if the men who hit on me are chubby chasers. I don’t have to feel I am cheating Jason out of a thin, gorgeous wife. He has a zaftig, gorgeous wife.

I AM fabulous, thanks very much.


*From "Beautiful" by Christina Aguilerra.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Donna

My Mother…she is an amazing person.

There were four of us growing up. Now, with only one child, I wonder how she did it…how she managed to make us all feel like individuals, how we never felt lost in the crowd. Each of us was so different, and she managed to encourage that, help it grow. She didn’t put us all in matching outfits, even for Easter or family portraits. Even with their meager salary, she made sure we all got presents unique to ourselves; we were all allowed to pursue our different interests. And when you have one theatre kid, one football kid, one cheerleading kid, and one EVERYTHING kid…that can be a lot of events.

Every opening night I had, I got flowers. The first play I did after moving to Alaska, my ma mourned not being able to see it. When I decided to quit teaching kindergarten to go back to school for the ever-useful theatre degree, she supported me. When I had to drop out and work full time due to an unexpected pregnancy, she sent me maternity clothes and called me nearly every day.

When I had been in labour for hours on end, with a cervix that got to six centimeters and said, “hey, this looks like a nice place to stop,” she called me from the airport in the midst of the 20 hour trip to be by my side and said, “hey, I know you wanted to do this naturally, but babe, you need to get an epidural,” resulting in the most wonderful feeling of my entire life…RELIEF FROM FRICKIN’ CONTRACTIONS. And oh, yeah, the eventual birth of my glorious daughter.

Months before that, when they told me I had a high chance of cervical cancer and was being labeled a high-risk pregnancy, she cried with me across 3,000 miles of phone line. When the chance dwindled to nothing, she again cried with me, only this time with relief.

And only a few months ago, when I was on my way to the hospital, she calmed me down and told me she loved me. And then, hours later, when I called to tell her Max was gone, she cried with me again…she gave me the words of comfort that help me to this day: we don’t know the reasons why he was taken, but God does. This may seem a bit simple and trite to some of you, but it made me able to do the only thing that got me through: say, “Ok, God, he is in your hands now. You better take care of him.”

She is my comfort. When I am having a rough time, I imagine being enveloped in her hug. I remember sitting in her bed, watching the Food Network. I feel her hand on my head, caressing my hair. I smell her mix of Victoria’s Secret lotion and vanilla perfume. I hear her giggle – not the one she does politely, but the one where she cannot contain herself, and her eyes get big and her mouth gets tiny, and then she snorts. I inherited that laugh. I inherited her thighs, her arms, her chin, her shapely ankles, her smile, her sense of humor (fart jokes NEVER get old), her love of books, her compassion, her toes, her Gypsy heritage, her belief in eyeliner, her ears, her nose, her entertaining gene, and her ability to flirt her way into getting what you need.

Everyday, I look in the mirror and see more of her. And I am thankful.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Weird.

My baby sister graduates from high school this week.

I wish I could be there. If there was any way to beg, borrow, or steal the money to get down to Florida for the event, I would take it. But the worst part of living in Alaska is the horrendous flight prices during tourist season.

Bethany is a diva, a cheerleader, a singer, and has been homeschooled for the past year. Any gift suggestions?

what do you mean, diva must run in the family?

Friday, May 2, 2008

guffaw.

There have been a couple of points in my life when I have lost the laughter.

I don’t notice it. Like most things Depression related, you kind of assume everything is as it always was. I laughed on the inside a lot…didn’t people know that?

Last night, as on most Thursdays, the incomparable Miss Ali came over to watch The Funniest Show Ever Made. I cannot for the life of me remember the exact moment…maybe it was when Stanley said “Did I stutter?!?!”, maybe it was the stick figure anti-smoking commercial, maybe it was something, anything Ali said…but I laughed. Loud. Unstoppably.

Maybe I wouldn’t have noticed if not for Ali looking at me with an utter sense of relief on her face. My biggest worrier, my staunchest supporter…she was waiting, hoping for the laugh to come back.

It came back. I am holding on to it dearly.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Maxing Out

It is no secret that I have been taking my miscarriage hard. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about Max. I guess I never really thought it would happen to me. I made one healthy baby with almost no effort on my part, why should another be in any way difficult?

I have been sleeping a lot. I have been yelling a lot. Mostly at Jason, because Violet is my beautiful baby, what if she is the only one I ever have, I cannot stand to see her sad, don’t make me discipline her! In fact, about the only time during the day I come close to happiness is the time between getting home from work and putting her to bed. She is the only thing that can make me laugh.

Everything is hard. I have put on make-up once this week, which is unheard of in my world. The last 10 years, I have not left the house without at least eyeliner. There is a pile of clean clothes on my bedroom floor that I lackadaisically sort through to find something, anything to wear as I drag myself through the day.

But I didn’t notice. Maybe I chose not to notice. A lot of women have miscarriages, and they can totally handle it, right? They can manage to get through their life without falling apart and bawling twice a day and having panic seize your chest because, look, there is a pirate and I wanted to decorate Max’s room with pirates, or, hey, this sounds like JLo and didn’t she just have a son named Max, and hey, it is Thursday, and I would be 13 weeks along now, and here come the tears.

But my lovely Jason pointed out that, hey, dude, I already had a chemical imbalance. I am still a victim of Post Partum Depression, and y’know what? This JUST MIGHT be affecting that.

And, gracious, lady, my body just went through a pregnancy. Albeit a short and unsatisfying pregnancy, but one nonetheless. And there are all these hormones flying around my system that need some help to get back to normal. That there are some physical side effects that go along with this grief of losing a child that I never even got to kiss.

I spoke to my doctor and upped my dosage of antidepressants. Sure, this is not the direction I hoped to be going a year after starting them, but by golly, I sure can focus a lot better.

It still hurts. I am still crying as I write this. But it is getting a little easier.