Monday, March 29, 2010

A Post of Many Colors

Come spring, my color receptors are particularly sensitive, noticing and appreciating every ounce of saturation in the season's teals and pinks and yellows. The world becomes a color palette, its paints begging to be dappled on our life.

We welcome them.

Its primary tones in our living room this weekend when Lainey participated in her first game of Twister.

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I smiled watching her tiny hands and driveway-dirtied feet twist and tangle as they stretched to land on big yellow circles.

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And Nella? That girl has immersed herself so beautifully into our lives, her presence is synchronously and flawlessly stictched in to the seams of all our family activities...Twister included.

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I've been thinking about perfection lately. I've stared at Nella so many late nights and marveled at her perfection. Because she is...perfect. And I wonder what it is about different that makes us think it's not perfect? Why is it that we set the bar higher and higher and expect ourselves, our children to be flawless? What is it we strive for and once we reach it--this perfection--what have we acheived? It's never enough. Even the razor I used in the shower this morning tries to outdo itself with now six blades layered to give a more perfect shave because apparently the five-bladed prior model didn't quite master the hairless perfection we're attempting to achieve.

It's just that I have learned so much about this perfection thing these past weeks, and I am finding myself cozily curling up with a new me. A me that has been cultivating for years, but is truly arriving to the place it's needed to be. The concept of perfect is not flawless or four-point-oh. It's happiness. Happiness with all its messiness and not-quite-there-ness. It's knowing that life is short, and the moments we choose to fill our cup with should be purposeful and colorful. And that's perfection. And our Nella--what the world may view far from perfection--has begun to teach me that.

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Accepting that makes our future with our new family seem so much more beautiful. And perfect. And it's amazing how much I continue to return to this theme of "beautiful and perfect" when, in what I thought were the most devastating moments of my life, I was told by Dr. Foley...She's beautiful. And perfect.

And so we strive not for perfection (although our imperfection is what is so perfectly perfect to me), but for color.

Oh, let us live a colorful life.

Embraced with Spring festivities last night with the Annual Coloring of Easter Eggs, a timeless tradition that reaches into me, pulls the blessed child that dwells within and funnels her out right where she should be. With my girl and her friends spooning virgin white eggs into jars of skittle-colored dyes and scooping them out, transformed into vivid little orbs of life. Spring-colored life.

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Holidays are a gift. Literally packaged gifts, tied up with ribbons and paper and little cards that say "Open me," and when we do...when we open them for all the spledor they're worth, there's crazy special moments inside. Moments we don't always think to take during holiday-less days.

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She loves her Beckham!

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Already looking forward to next weekend when, for the first time, the two little girls I've always dreamed of will wear their Easter dresses just like my sister & I used to do. And thin cotton socks with lace trim and little maryjanes. There will be baskets full of shredded paper grass and hidden jellybeans, notes from the Easter bunny and a good half hour of smile-strained cheek muscles from watching the boys help Lainey search corners of our house for brightly colored eggs full of chocolates and coins.

The house isn't clean. The laundry's in a heap. The Twister board is stretched out like a tent over the patchwork chairs in the playroom and weighted down by a stack of Down syndrome books. Our home seems far from perfect tonight. But, if you look a little closer, there are colored eggs in our refrigerator. There are sidewalk chalk remains in the driveway. There is a pile of pink fairy projects in the works on our kitchen table. And there is laughter.

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It is beautiful. And it is perfect.


And, I have a giveaway winner!
Generated by Random.org, Comment #1209

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Kelly C.
If I could end a day with having taken just one of the amazing photos in this post, I would be delighted. Stream of consciousness works for you...not only do I "get" your posts, they resonate .

Thank you, Kelly C. Please leave a comment with your e-mail address so we can get a beautiful Lisa Leonard piece your way!

Have a beautiful (and perfect) week.

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~k

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Goin', Movin', Doin'

We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be. - Anne Lamott
(Thank you KC for your always perfect quotes)

T'was a gauntlet week. The kind you dread on Monday but feel victorious on Friday when it's over. So we celebrated with a huddle of neighbors in our kitchen last night, and it felt exactly what it should feel like...Friday.

Friday nights are like pre-vacation as a kid. Going to bed knowing your parents will wake you in the dark, lead you to the mini van--the one strapped with cargo carriers and stuffed with pillows and snacks and travel bags--and drive your can-hardly-breathe excited little self to Disney World the next day. Fridays are the rehearsal dinner before the wedding. The cocktail hour before the big moment. Fridays hold promise of what is to be. Like mornings that linger with coffee and bathrobes and syrupy waffles, afternoons with fresh air that sweeps through the open windows and evening with impromtu gatherings of friends in your living room...evenings that stretch long into the night because life is good and no one wants to leave.

Nella had her first therapy evaluation visit this week. Four friendly women entered our home and found spaces on our floor and played with our girl while I listened to numbers and scores in a new world I'm not quite used to yet. And then two seperate packages came this week...wonderful, informative packages full of resources on this new world, but it's still overwhelming at times. Our playroom looks like a Down syndrome library. I cried at one point...just 'hit' again by that stinkin' bus--the I-can't-believe-we-are-THAT-family bus, but soon followed with laughter because six books on Down syndrome stacked up on a coffee table can be really funny. Life is hard. But it's funny too, and that's what makes it great.

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Every time I begin to sink, I remind myself that I am a rockstar. And rockstars know that life is beautiful. Life has challenges. Life teaches you things. And life is all how you look at it. We are a happy family who loves life, and we ride bikes in our neighborhood and share Friday evenings with friends in our kitchen. We go to the beach and anticipate vacations and togetherness and now, sometimes we'll have therapy or doctor visits and we can make towers with our Down syndrome books on our coffee table, but nothing else changes from the foundation of who we are.

And who are we? Well, according to Lainey, she's a licensed therapist because Sister got all grabby with Miss Martha who was evaluating Nella and thought she could do it better.

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And our Nellabean is just fabulous. Stretching that head up to see the world all the time, and every time she gets it up and steady, her eyes get huge, and her lips go all birdy-pursed and she's just so proud of herself. It's precious to behold.

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And her doctor visit this week shows us once again that she is...perfect. 8 pounds and 15 ounces of perfection.

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ha ha...I love that picture on the left...like she was just scoutin' out her mama.

She drinks us in these days, completely receptive to our coos. We goo and ga and tell her we love her and she, in return, squints her almond eyes into flirty smiles and grins soft and sweetly. I can't imagine life without her, and it is so perfectly clear now...we needed her.

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Our walks continue as once you start something with Lainey, it won't be forgotten.

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We walk late in the afternoon when the lawn mowers are humming and the barbecue smoke is wafting and the neighbors wave and smile as we pass by. Afternoon walks are delicious.

As are evenings on the beach as we gathered with friends for Lainey's bud Baylee's birthday party last night.

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The tourists will pour in this weekend for spring break, and our town will awaken with vacation liveliness. We'll escape to the beach as much as we can to people-watch and sink our toes into sea-foamed covered sand.

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And the weather is pure perfection lately with the gulf still cold and nights still breezy, but this beautiful calm sun that mildly warms the day and allows for a pleasant evening at the beach.

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The weekend is still young, and I'm all kid-before-vacation just thinking about the possibilities. Perhaps we shall bake. Perhaps we shall color eggs. Perhaps we shall invite friends for drinks and good food or stay out well past dark and play kick-the-can.

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But we will suck the nectar out of life this weekend. Because we can. Especially when our neighbor just got a new go-cart and despite the fact it's made for kids, my butt sorta fits on it and my hair looks really cool blowing in the wind when I ride it.

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Have a fabulous weekend.
Go color. Invite friends over. Play music. Smear on some red lipstick (preferably stolen from your mom's bottomless purse where it was found between a used wipe, some pen caps and a gum-covered penny).

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Life is freakin' fabulous. Live big.

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P.S. I'm working on some blog revamps with good things to come. And thank you again for your beautiful, insightful, funny, poignant and inspiring comments. Giveaway winner revealed tomorrow night.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I'll take 'Stream-of Consciousness' for $500, Alex (and a giveaway...yay!)

So, I've sat here in my chair for five minutes wondering how the heck I am going to de-jumble all that's on my mind, shave off a writable bit and actually have it make sense. I'll peck a line, read it and just as quickly backspace, backspace, backspace until I'm again left with the bright white screen of an unfinished post.

However, when the formatting portion of my brain is shut-down, there's this really cool back-up portion that runs on a generator apparently...and it's called stream-of-consciousness. Stream-of-consciousness and I are great friends. We coffee together in the morning and popcorn-and-beer it at night. Stream-of-consciousness knows me and loves me for who I am. Random and completely and utterly Type B.

So, Stream-of-consciousness...dance with me tonight, my friend. Take me.

Beginning with my chair. Let me tell you about my new desk chair. After cracking two cheap Craigslist chairs in half and spending a week sitting on a metal folding chair, I had it. Well, that and the fact that I was going to be Skyping an international interview for CNNI from my living room and I didn't want to be doing it from a folding chair. It dawned on me that in a hidden corner of our kitchen eating area, there's a favorite chair of mine that goes unnoticed and unused...and it's a beauty of a chair. It's comfortable and butts up nicely against my old white desk. The thing is, it's not a desk chair at all. It has tall arms that rise from the base like walls so that when butted against a desk, you're sort of pinned there. That doesn't stop me. I like the chair. Even if I have to get a running start and jump into it like I'm Bo hoppin' into The General Lee.

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I enjoyed a much-needed Girls Night last weekend that started with drinks at The Pub and ended at the movies. And, can I just say, if you haven't played M.A.S.H. as a grown-up, you're missing out. It's way funnier when you're in your thirties and that little piece of paper tells you you're going to live in a shack, drive a riding lawn mower and marry the pimpled, crack-exposing plumber down the street when you grow up.

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I hope we never grow up.
At least Anna Ruth hopes she never grows up because her M.A.S.H. has her working the streets.
Happy Birthday, A.R.

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Any excuse to be out with the girls huddled in a dark movie theater with a bucket of popcorn, a box of Sour Patch Kids and my jammied little babe is a good excuse.

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I hereby announce the first time in the history of mankind that we returned library books when they were due. This may not be a major accomplishment for many, but for us...top five of my life, I'm thinking. Regardless, she is in love with "mine libary books" -- carries them around, shows them to company, takes them to bed with her and counts down the days to exchanging them for new ones.

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She is also loving the bin of about a hundred old beanie babies a friend gave her. She counts them, names them and knows when any are missing. Because I took Jolly the Walrus and within five minutes, she knew he was gone.

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Dude, did we actually spend $5 a pop on those back in the day? I worked at a hospital when I was in college and, I swear, when news got out that the gift shop had new beanies in stock, there was basically a stampede of middle-aged women in scrubs knocking each other out to be the first ones to get their hands on Willy the Wombat. I was one of them a couple times. That's embarrassing.

The Sprinkler's Back. Because today the sun was bright and happy, and it felt like full-fledged Spring was begging us to join it in our yard. And so we did.

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I think watching a child play in a sprinkler is a spiritual experience. There is nothing more free-spirited or carefree than this willowly heavenly creature hopping sprays of cold water, braving the steady stream with her face and squealing with delight. It's poetic.

We got new bonnets from our friend Nicole, and after we fell in love with the one she made us last year--the one that has shaded that blonde head many a Sunday on Isle of Capri--we couldn't wait for a good hot, sunny afternoon to sport our new ones.

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After a strange long string of cold snaps, I am happily anticipating more warm afternoons. More barefeet in the driveway. More late-night bonfires and sparklers. More afternoons at the park.

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This afternoon, we ventured out for a late-afternoon walk where I let Lainey push Nella all by herself. She was too proud, hiding her shy smile as best as she could and stopping at any slight whimper to console her little sister.

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And the warm sun and the bump-bump-bump of sidewalk seams put Nella fast asleep.

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Much better than our earlier attempts to push her in a doll stroller. That lasted all of thirty seconds.

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...and warm afternoon sun makes for great little girl shadows.

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Fairy Party planning continues with invitations almost finished. We are enclosing a little magic for invited attendees...

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...and have been talking a lot about how to catch a fairy. We did a little party preview with decorating a couple fairy houses.

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But mostly? Mostly, right now, despite the random stream-of-consciousness, I am enjoying being a mama so very much.

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Between drinking up the blessed little moments of mamahood and having good writing opportunities lately, I've felt so fulfilled. And drawing so much inspiration from these past eight weeks and being challenged to really think about the broader scheme of life and circumstances, events and what we make of it, I've arrived at this greater understaning of purpose. Wanting to live purposefully and knowing that, at any given moment when things seem just as they should be --whether it's enjoying an afternoon on a blanket on the grass watching my girl dance in the sprinkler or sharing conversation with Brett over our morning cup of coffee -- my awareness alone for the good little things of our life is the beginning of my purposeful journey.

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And either that came out understandable and half-way poignant, or there's a really good chance I'm tired and am going to reread that in the morning and say What the - ?

Closing this post with two really good things:

Daddy and his girl hanging out in the garage. They do this all the time...sit in his car in the garage and listen to music. Except now she wants to learn the words to the song...and she wants to dance...and she wants to make my cheeks hurt from smiling because it's so cute.
Watch it here.

And Oh, what have we here?

A giveaway. For you sweet readers. A randomly drawn commenter from this post will be receiving a peice of jewelry (up to $100 value) of their choice from Lisa Leonard Designs.

Be happy.

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