Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Echo. Echo.

I trekked a trail up the incline of a Missoulan mountain two weeks ago with a fourteen pound baby strapped to my chest and a backpack, likewise weighted, tightly secured to my back. A week later, I did it again, this time around the 2-mile stretch of boardwalk at Corkscrew Swamp with my mom. The routine is the same. I slip Nella into the comfortable nook where she settles below my breastbone, securely strapped in the carrier, and then I hoist my heavy backpack over my right shoulder and blindly stretch to find the other strap until it's all adjusted and I begin my walk with a victorious sigh.

"You're gonna wreck your back," my mom said.
"I'm fine. I'm a mom. Moms have strong backs," I sassed.

Turns out I don't know what I'm talking about and my mom does. Which is often the case.

My back is jacked. Pretty bad. Three days now. And it's kinda funny because I'm in this constant state of contortion where I'll bend and hunch and walk all cock-eyed just to keep it from slipping into *that place* where the nerve jolts and I gasp and reach to grab the first thing I can get my hands on to keep from falling. And then there's the crazy things we do to make it feel better like downward dog in the living room or locust in the kitchen or sometimes hanging from Austyn's chin-up bar in his room which just makes the boys laugh.

So, my sister says you gotta run it out. And I haven't run in forever. But I lace my dusty shoes on anyway because I'll do anything to fix this blasted back.

Tonight I run, a little bit crooked, a lot a bit hesitant, but at least I'm running. And I listen to my old running songs while my feet hit the pavement. Like Let it Rock. David Guetta. All the Euro techno stuff my friend Katie sends me that I secretly love. And I remember why I used to run.

It's one of those things. Like church is to some people. Or getting tickets to the symphony. Or watching a sunset. Or drinking wine. It's one of those things that opens up my senses, creates a zone, pulls me out into this bird's eye view where, with every whoosh-whoosh of my breath, every thump-thump of the soles of my shoes to the pavement, every beat of my throbbing pulse...I'm in deep thought. About life. All the crap. All the good stuff. All the dreams and how to get there. And running--burning through that painful place where your sides ache and your breath is deep and your legs are screaming and yet you still pace through the strides--it's a brilliant microcosm of the greater picture. If you can run? You can do anything.

It's magnificent, really. That I-can-do-anything feeling that comes and stays and propels you to clean your house, to play with your kids, to pull plastic pumpkins out of attic boxes and smile as you dust them off thinking of just how fantastic you are going to make October for your family.

We made paper-chains. Fall-colored paper-chains. And we tacked them to the walls where they droop all festive-like and Brett has to stoop to walk under them. But they are wonderful.

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We ate apples on a blanket under the big tree in the side yard that shades just right at high noon.

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...and reveled in the adventure of doing absolutely nothing which, might I add, might be one of the greatest adventures of all time.

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Yesterday, I let the bad back excuse take center stage. We stayed in our pajamas. We watched movies. We ate trail mix and crackers and cheese and nothing organic or good-for-you. And oh, it was beautiful.

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Um, didn't know until recently that Down syndrome comes with this insane flexibility. Can I just say it is the coolest, cutest thing ever? Hello, little acrobat. Someone's gonna kick Mary Lou Retton's ass.

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And tonight, while running, I saw it all so clearly. Our messy, crazy, intricate life with all its bumps and bruises. It is good.

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These past few months have been crazy. Since Nella has arrived, so much has happened. Grief and learning to deal and digging into parts of me that needed to be discovered. And the blog took off and so much good has come from it. There's an amazing community of people here, of all walks of life. And we embrace it. But yes, it's eye-opening and as a mama who's always loved to write, there've been times I've had to swallow and ask myself what's happening. I do think about it all...what I'm willing to expose, what I'm not. What's good, what's too much. And tonight, I have rediscovered my voice. Uninhibited. Remembering that I'm doing what I've always done and I will continue to do it. I will continue to do it.

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"We have to look at our own inertia, insecurities, self-hate, fear that, in truth, we have nothing valuable to say. When your writing blooms out of the back of this garbage compost, it is very stable. You are not running from anything. You can have a sense of artistic security. If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you." ~Natalie Goldberg

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I am excited--in that I-can-do-anything, shoes-hitting-the-pavement and breath-fast-and-heavy kind of way. It is amazing how much the human soul can be fueled, inspired, ignited by other human souls and, in turn, reignite the passion, the drive. Like superheros.

And all good superheros need a nice cape. Which brings me to our new sponsor. We totally dig Pip & Bean. We have four of their superhero capes, and we wear them in the house, out of the house, for breakfast, for naps, for running barefoot in the driveway when the sun sets.

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Lainey even fanaggled Brett into wearing one.

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I'm thinking superhero-themed birthday party. I'm thinking a saved rainy day. I'm thinking how cool I'll feel whipping these out the next time Lainey's friends are over for a play-date. I'm thinking I want my own. What will it say? Hmmmmm.

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Check 'em out!

Thank you, every one of you...for your shared passion for life and all its paths. I picture you all in capes.

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I would hurl words into this darkness and wait for an echo, and if an echo sounded, no matter how faintly, I would send other words to tell, to march, to fight, to create a sense of hunger for life that gnaws in us all. ~Richard Wright, American Hunger, 1977

Thank you for the beautiful echo.

Downward Dog calls.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Enjoying the Small Things

It's been a strange month.
Good, but strange.
Travel isn't a big part of our lives. Not that we haven't mapped out hypothetical vacations in our heads to the point it feels like we've been there. I think that's a marriage rite of passage, one of those things you talk about when you're out to breakfast or have managed to get some quiet time to yourselves after putting the kids to bed. We sit and dream about spending Christmas at a cabin in the Smoky Mountains or snorkeling in the clear waters of the Caribbean knowing in the present state of our lives and this economy, it's not likely it will happen anytime soon. But dreaming is good.

Somehow the circumstances and planets aligned this month for some adventure and we are grateful for the opportunity. But, even on the grandest adventures, toward the end I am craving the simplicity of home and the comfort of routine. I dropped off my mom at the airport this morning, sad to say goodbye but ready to return home to reorganize. I need to comb through clutter, cross off to-do's, sift through laundry and begin the rituals of October.

And because the part of my being that forms words and attempts to string them together in some sensable fashion is a bit exhausted, I will offer a simple Enjoying the Small Things post.

Florida Skies. I want to swim in them.

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Summer/Fall Overlap. We're climbing in the attic for the big bins markered with "Harvest Decorations" and beginning to plan Halloween costumes and yet we still set out, flip-flopped, in the evening light for night swims and hit up Third Street for the last Farmer's Market of the season.

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...and enjoy a nice early Saturday morning cup of coffee with my mama by the fountain downtown...joined by little birds who hopped from chair to chair, searching for pastry crumbs.

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And nestled next to the little piece of me that starts to crave chilly winds and leaves whose tips turn scarlet this time of year dwells a bit of gratitude for the fact that the bare feet of my littles will continue to kiss the chalk-covered cement of our driveway all year long.

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And, in craving crispy leaves and nubby sweaters, we make up for it with new cozy knits, treats of Angee's Originals. Fall calls for her gorgeous hats!

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And speaking of nubby knits, it is tradition when my mom comes to head to the other side of town just for a trip to the yarn store.

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There's something about being surrounded by a palette of colorful yarn and knits that makes me happy. Like a candy store. Except instead of Twizzlers, there's red merino wool in a heavy worsted weight.

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It brings back memories of being a kid and trailing behind my mom in the fabric store while she thumbed through patterns and bolts of soft colorful cottons dreaming of what she'd make next. This time, my siblings and I are not getting in trouble for playing hide-and-go-seek between pattern racks and knocking over material bolts.

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My mom is good and kind, creative and funny. More than anything, she has passed down the blessed quality of finding contentment no matter where she is in life. It's her greatest quality. She is always, forever...content.

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A few sips left of September. Drinking it in. And grateful that this month, we filled every last nook of our cup with family.

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Leaving you with a powerful quote that makes me smile. And feel powerful.

"When it's over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms."
~Mary Oliver

Dude, I hear chapel bells and I'm a'walkin down the aisle.

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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Mama's Home and the Professor's Debut

Okay, with two continental jaunts under our belt and the first day of fall at our door--not to mention a harvest moon, whatever that is--I'm ready for all the comforts of home.

And there ain't no one to make home feel like home more than a mama.

Guess who's here?

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Grandma Krissy has arrived, and that means late-night board games and Discovery Channel shows and a trip to the yarn store and apple pie and smells from the kitchen and all the things that make an autumn-hungry Florida home seem like Fall.

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And this post can't be too long because, as I type, this cinnamony scent is growing thicker, spreading faster and right about now the perfect sugared crust is bubbling brown and seeping apple-y syrup, and a mug is frosting in the freezer for the milk that will accompany a late pie snack.

With that said...I'm happy to be home.

It took me awhile to feel like the unforgiving sun and prickly grass of southwest Florida was my home, but it feels so right-where-we-belong now. I miss the scarlet maples of a midwest Autumn. I loved the energy and evening glow of New York City's skyline. I imagined myself in artsy glasses scouring the hippie shops of mountainesque Missoula. But home is right where we are, and after all that travel, it feels good to settle back into our salty sea-breezed, palm-peppered, sun-soaked town.

I rifled through our monstrous duffle bag in front of the front door--the one I haven't even bothered to unpack yet--for a clean tank top this morning before setting out with Grandma and the girls to feel a little bit of our home. My mom wanted to do something "nature-y", so to the hot and humid wetlands of Corkscrew swamp we headed for a two-mile boardwalk trail amid thick Cypress woods.

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A far cry from Montana, today's walk had me drenched with humidity after peeling Nella off my chest. And humidity is just a nice word for sweat.

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And having this cool, contrasting perspective of having just been to the mountains of Montana made me appreciate our little Florida even more today. Because they are both different and beautiful and rich with all kind of wonder in their own way. Apples to oranges. Moose to alligators. Mountain lions to snowy egrets.

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And to top it off, one of our familiar afternoon storms rolled in today, bringing with it very jumpable puddles.

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It feels good to be home.

And finally...

The noise of everyday life continues amid the calm of the season. I am learning the joy of celebrating milestones that are extra special. While savoring the magic of her *boneless puddle* (thank you, Philip, for the term) that sinks so perfectly into our shoulder as she falls asleep, there's also the clapping and the hooting and the Go-Nella-Go! that comes from pre-crawl rocking on all fours and standing with little support.

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We love our P.T.!


And finally, the debut of The Professor.

We never forget our gratitude for any of our family member's health, but especially Nella's because D.S. does come with a list of added concerns--ones that have found a comfortable place in my mind right between the regions of obsessively-dwelling-too-much and ignorantly-forgetting-about-it. I know they are there. I read the books. I make the appointments. I proactively parent my designer-gened kitten as best as I know how, and that's a carefully crafted brew of research and instincts, but mostly just a shit-load of love.

With that said, when we took her for her 6 month eye appointment, it took me off guard when the doctor concluded our lengthy appointment with a non-chalant, "So, she needs glasses." Like it was no big deal. He might as well have just said she had a hang-nail.

It is no big deal. Especially when we are treading a lot worse what-ifs in life.

But I'm still a mama. A mama who's memorized the sweet face of my almond-eyed one so meticulously, I can trace her cheeks in my sleep. So, it took me a couple swallows and blinks before I got there.

Okay, she needs glasses. This is cake. We'll rock it out.

And, um...a good internet search for the smallest rectangular frames I could find and a chocolate brown paint job and...behold, I present...

The Professor.

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Both Brett and I thought she'd look so different and when we finally slid them on, we just laughed. Our funny little professor. We still have some questions and are a little iffy on the far-sighted script (just one eye), so we have an appointment in Miami in December, but at least until then, we're gonna do this Lisa Loeb style.

Pie's outta the oven, so I'll wrap this up.

But first, I am so excited to introduce a new sponsor: Bel Kai Designs. I've had my Freedom necklace for a few months now and its vintagey charm makes it unique and beautiful and the perfect choice when I'm perusing my jewelry drawer for something that will stand out.

Some of my favorites from her collection:
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And if any of you have traveled the adoption journey, Bel Kai has the most beautiful Adoption Journey necklace customized for the special place your love was born. Enter "kelle" at discount and receive 10% off your order.

Scrabble game a' callin. That and some hot apple pie.

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Grandma's here. Much love to come.