February, 2015

You know what Al Green says…if the spirit moves you, let me groove you, let’s get it onnnnnnnn”. 

And while I’m not coming on to you, anonymous reader somewhere out there, let’s just say that the spirit is moving me again and I’m going to get [the blog] on for a little while. I miss having a record of our life to look back on, one that my kids won’t have to wade through my private journals to one day see.

So here it is, February 2015. Lucas is 17 months old and affectionately known as a fat hog, the hog, hogzilla, one who hogs around, and a baby hog at the hog trough. He is a fierce spirit and a tour de force in our lives, laughing hard, hitting hard, walking hard, exploring hard, crying hard–he is determined to leave his mark thoroughly and with extreme charm. By contrast, Asher is almost like a feather or a beam of light. He is in that phase where a lot of the firsts are intellectual ones, exploring his sense of humor, exploring feelings and bad words and friend dynamics and counting by fives and social boundaries. He is funny, all of his teachers comment on his humor, but best of all–he knows when he’s being funny and you can see it in his little crescent moon eyes.

The boys are figuring out how to be brothers. Asher can be in another room and make a silly noise and Lucas will laugh from the kitchen without looking up. In the way that the older-younger sibling dynamic works, Lucas is inherently tuned in to Asher’s movement and ways, confidently orbiting around his big brother and his big brother’s things and sounds and mannerisms. Lucas already shows signs of being significantly more independent than Asher was or is–Lucas is content to busy himself with the things that interest him, and Asher wants always, always to be by someone’s side. It can be overwhelming to have a five-year-old glued to us, but in my best moments, I’m charmed by that too. Currently Asher wants to give lots of hugs and kisses, and he has a way of snuggling against us that comes awfully close to feeling like he’s willing his body to melt into ours. He is a gentle spot in our bustling world, full of laughter and noise, but fundamentally sweet in the way that he’s taking on life.

As for the grown ups, another year has gone by, and Drew and I are squarely in our thirties. Maybe I don’t even know what that means, but here we are, and it’s good. I once sent my dad a card when I was in elementary or middle school with that old adage, wherever you go, there you are on the front. At the time, I didn’t really understand its meaning, but it seemed like a profound thing to say which seemed like a good objective for a card, at least in the mind of 10-year-old. Now those are words that I live by, reminding myself that I am my own common denominator in my life’s equation and shocked on a daily bases that somehow, inexplicably, every day, we are here. I remember my mom once telling me that one of the inequities of aging is that at some point the reflection in the mirror doesn’t match the image or feeling of yourself that you carry around with you. While the mirror hasn’t outed me just yet, I completely resonate with the feeling when it comes to how I feel inside versus how life all appears to be happening on the outside. I’m starting to think that the internal life of adults is ordered in reverse dog years. It seems that we are all, at a minimum, 10-15 years younger in the way that we commune with our internal monologues and how we feel, and yet, in the eyes of our children (and the IRS)? We’re bonafied. Real life, breathing, walking, legit grown ups. Some of you might even look at me and see a grown up. (Don’t be fooled.)

It seems like that’s the gist right now. Reconciling the outside with the inside. Walking around feeling like we’re all playing make-believe to a certain extent, bumping into each other and saying, do you feel 33 or 36 or 40 or 43? Do you know what those ages are supposed to mean? My girls and I talk about this feeling–not so much an internal-external imbalance, but just a sense that we’re driving around in one life, bundled up and concerning ourselves with child care coverage, while our internal lives are 17 and lounging with tanned legs next to a body of water somewhere, talking big about what we’ll be when we grow up. We talk about this universal feeling and wonder if the internal dog years will ever meet up with the external life years. My sense is that no, they probably won’t, but perhaps like the crinkling skin around our eyes, this becomes one more thing that we learn to graciously make peace with.

I wrote this post a week ago and now there is snow falling down heavily outside the window. Drew just put a log on the fire, we’re listening to Sam Cook on the record player, and both children are blissfully, quietly sleeping. Although I would skip every single cold, grey day of winter if given a choice, this rare moment of tucked in warmth is reminding me that winter is not all that bad. Perhaps it too is wondering what the hell is going on out here, because inside Winter is planning its summer garden and laying on a blanket under a warm sun somewhere. Maybe Winter is like the rest of us, trying to make peace between reality and fantasy, muscling through the the day dream and the commute.

And so, that’s the quick news from our little hill. Two parents, one hog, and one boy. Back at it.

box stars

While Asher was very excited to become a big brother, and has taken to his new roll relatively well, he’s not overly doting when it comes to the baby. In part it’s because Asher is four (well, five. He’ll be five tomorrow. He’s practically in college.) and the mantra of a four-year-old is, as far as I can tell, what’s in it for me? and when it comes to infant siblings, the honest answer is, not much. Yet.

In the mornings Asher likes jumping in the crib and ‘playing’ with Lucas but by and large, Asher is warming up slowly to the whole big brother gig. And we’re letting him take it at his own pace. Drew and I do remind Asher to say good morning to Lucas, to show him things and share things with him–that’s a real toughie–but Asher seems to be waiting for Lucas to become more interesting, and until then, he’s not going out of his way too much. A friend once commented about the unfair pressure that can be put on siblings to be best friends, and while I certainly make the case to Asher that Lucas might be a really special friend, I’m always aware of that other side too. Their relationship will belong to them, and so I’m trying to get comfortable in my roll as a witness and mediator but maybe not always the brother-love party planner.

Lucas is spending more and more time upright–just about a week until that little squish turns one–and he’s got a rascally sense of humor and purpose which is starting to catch Asher’s attention more often too. Lucas is completely fascinated with Asher, but also content to go his own way, especially if that way includes spending some time surreptitiously splashing in the dog water bowl or eating a variety of small objects, and so I’m just having to be patient (and vigilant–he seriously likes the dog water). We built it, they will come.

There are times though, when I get a glimpse. A little peephole to squint through into the future that Drew and I have cooked up. Times when I can step back completely and just watch them interacting without having to referee and they forget that Mama is in the room. I got a glimpse of it yesterday morning as they trashed our kitchen and there it was: two boys knocking over chairs to make each other laugh. Two boys that are going, for better or worse, to have a childhood together. Of course I don’t want to unfairly pressure my children into a relationship, and of course, nothing makes me happier than the seeing their budding bromance. It’s a little destructive and little bit gorgeous.

I don’t know what’s in store for these two, they don’t either. But if trashing the house helps them get there, sign me up.

Love,

A (still) totally novice mother of two.

 

Back At It

Well team, we have a baby.

He’s three months old.

Let’s blow off some cobwebs around here, shall we?

First and foremost, Lucas Harkins Walton. He was born four years and one week to the day after his brother, and shares his birthday (and middle name) with Drew. He was minutes away from making his grand entrance in the hospital lobby, but we were able to get into a room with about eight minutes to spare before he arrived. A story for another day.

He is loved.

He sleeps. He squeaks. He eats. He rolls over. He coos. He melts me. To the core.

I tried to write while I was on maternity leave and ran into two problems. The first was that Lucas really really liked to be held for those first 8 weeks–more than I remember Asher liking. And as it turns out, I was happy to oblige, but my hands-free moments were few and far between and they were largely spent doing really exotic things like showering or visiting with the company that had come to hold the sleeping baby who really liked to be held.

The second is All The Feelings. I have them all. And with All The Feelings, sometimes it’s easier to take a picture for Instagram than to type, coiffed in greasy hair and one handed, about how life is changing.

The third reason I took a little hiatus isn’t a problem at all, it was basically just joy. I experienced some kind of postpartum euphoria this time that felt, at times, a little manic but it was a welcome alternative to other postpartum scenarios, so I just rolled with it. My pendulum is swinging a bit more in the middle these days, my hair is starting to fall out (WHY can’t we just keep pregnancy hair forever and ever? My stomach will permanently look like the remains of a tiger’s afternoon snack…would it be too much to ask to just keep the amazing pregnancy hair?) and my jeans are slowly entering the picture again. I’m back at work, we’re finding a rhythm, it’s the New Year, and I feel good. Lucas feels good. Drew feels like he has one semester of school left, and honeys, that feels real good. Asher feels like today would be a good day (the best!) to bring Christmas back to the future.

I’m joining the masses and kicking off a year-long writing project here starting next week. It’s going to be bonafied and in keeping with my resolution to ‘complete’. More to come on that, but I felt like I couldn’t start that without first bringing Lucas to the blog and getting back on the horse.

Horse? What?

Anyway, the happiest to you and yours and a very, very hearty welcome to this futuristic sounding land of twothousandandfourteen. Be here now.

The final countdown

Have fun singing that for the rest of the day…I know that I am. (Truth be told, I woke up with Ellie Gouldings’s Anything Could Happen–there’s a lovely acoustic version of it in this interview from the World Cafe–and I think that’s the mantra for the end of pregnancy. Or for life. But right now pregnancy. And I don’t even know if I’m really a fan of hers? But anything could happen. I digress.)

So, where was I?

That’s another thing about the end of pregnancy–I don’t really know where I am at any given moment, but man am I in a good mood. I might not seem like I’m in a good mood when I’m huffing up a hill or setting the pathway to the various bathrooms that I frequent on fire, and if you saw me at night flopped out and looking puffy and grim you might not think, “Good Lord, that woman’s in a good mood!” but my internal life has always been robust and so my brain and my body are singing two totally different songs right now, and that’s cool. There’s something about knowing that it’s all coming to an end, he’s almost here, that has flipped a mental switch for me. I’m happy. I may not have a lot of physical energy, but I’ve got mental energy for days. I like going to bed at night and thinking that I better fall asleep as quickly as possible because…anything could happen.

There’s this thing about the end. Where you constantly look at your stomach and think, you could be out here right now, little one. As they are in there, so they’ll be out here. There’s just this pesky layer of skin and one very wild ride between us, but that moment is coming. The moment when they’re in the air but only moments before they were in this impossible-to-fathom darkness. For days after women give birth we say, this time yesterday, 3 days ago, last week you were…trying to wrap our minds around the strange reality that a person was in our bodies and now that person is in the world doing all sorts of wild, normal, wordly things. It’s also so funny to me that he seems larger than life, huge and mature in there right now, having come so far from his microscopic start, and yet tomorrow? Next week? He’ll be in our arms and we’ll all be saying he’s so tiny. He’s so new. He’s a glimmering minute speck in a massive universe. The perspective that new life brings is a hard one to hang on to, but even getting to sit with it for a few weeks is a game changer. No matter what else I do in my life, incubating these two lives will always define me.

And mostly, Asher. The final weeks are so bittersweet for me because despite the excitement about the new baby, I want to just absorb Asher and protect him and make every moment the best moment in his 4-year-old world. We stretched his birthday out over two weeks kind of intentionally and unintentionally and he’s been shamelessly spoiled and loved on. The reality is that I’m a sloth by the end of the day and so I feel like I should be or could be doing more? But if it were someone other than myself saying that, I would tell her to stop being ridiculous, so there’s that. Where I can’t use my legs to run with him, I use my words to fill the gap, and he’s definitely the calmest member of the family when it comes to talking about the baby. Something in him just gets it. All of that being said, The Young Sir had a sleep over with his grandparents Friday night so that we could sleep. Drew was up with the sun to head to the hospital, and I was…not. So to my parents I say: THANK YOU. And to my guilty conscience I say: shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

So there it all is. That’s why I’m repeating myself and having to make 16 trips back into the house in the mornings for forgotten things and laying down a little too much and waxing poetic about minute shifts in the breeze and crying about anything and everything. Because I’m waiting for something to click on in our little Walton universe and it’s hard to be normal when that’s filling my brain. Unlike last time, there’s not a perfectly organized room waiting for this guy (though it’s almost there) and I haven’t exhaustively researched strollers and baby wipes. But in some ways, I like this part even better this time because I KNOW how sweet it’s going to be when the labor ride is over and the heavy weight of the next stage of our lives is in our arms, and we will be sharing it not just with each other, but with Asher. It won’t all be a teacup ride in cotton candy land, but the big picture? Knowing that I’m going to be looking back on this fleeting time one day as an old woman with a feeling that will always defy words? That’s worth getting re-aquainted with the middle of the night and living in a foreign body for.

So let’s do this thing.

Anything could happen.

Lately

Summer is slowing down, there will be a big yellow school bus competing for road space on our windy roads tomorrow morning and I am four weeks away from running another marathon. And by running I mean not running. And by marathon I mean labor. Same diff. I am slowing down which is remarkable because I’ve been feeling pretty slow already, but the inevitable final weeks of slothiness are upon me and in the evenings instead of picking up and blogging and things like that, I just want to be horizontal and quiet. Technically I want to be horizontal and quiet while a team of elves move around me unpacking the baby’s room and holding up tiny darling socks for me to oooo and ahhh over, but no matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to will a team of elves into existence. I do have a Drew and he’s been doing the lion’s share of the housework while also installing new floors in our basement and painting and getting ready to go back to school himself, and I’m happy to oooo and ahhh over him in place of those elusive elves.

So, I know I’ve been a little silent, but here’s what we’ve been up to:

Dates with this guy:

This is how Asher eats a muffin. It’s more of an excavation than a meal, but he’s happy and muffin eating is not a battle I choose. I’m hyper aware of getting this time with him, and since I’m kind of shot on the fun stuff in the evenings, we’ve been sneaking in little morning dates together. I’ve been looking at Asher’s baby pictures, inevitably drawn back as we prepare to begin again and getting mighty nostalgic for how fleeting that time was with him. He suddenly seems HUGE, but then I watch him eat a muffin, totally consumed in his task, and my little boy is still there.

***

The winding down of summer has looked like this:

And this:

And this:

And don’t look now, but that watermelon up there? That came from here:

***

I turned 31 last week and ate appropriately. When one turns 31 while 35 weeks pregnant, it seems that eating is the best way to celebrate and I took the cake.

Ahem.

I’m not particularly funny about aging other than the passage of time has a way of surprising me. I use a night cream and make an eyebrows-raised note of the changing direction of various body parts, I’m human afterall, but all in all, I generally feel that aging is a privilege and certainly better than the alternative. My birthday makes me a little nostalgic for the passing of time, but it also makes me excited for cake and well-wishes and thoughts of what’s been and what will be, and so it came, it saw, it ate.

Drew will tell you that I’m prone to crying on my birthday, something I’d rather not confess, but it’s not really ever because I’m sad about getting older, it’s more like I feel a lot of things all at once on this day in August. Tell me I’m not alone in this. Last year Drew and I went on a backpacking trip and I turned 30 on the top of a mountain with my best friend, some Ramen, and a nip or two of whiskey. It was sublime and will hopefully be a tradition of sorts once there’s not another person sharing my body with me. Make no mistake, I have great friends who always have a way of making my birthday special and celebratory which I also love, I’m just discovering that with age comes a certain amount of appreciation for a little time to reflect mixed in with the confetti. A nice balance of champagne and water.

***

Asher took this picture of me recently and it’s so spot on.

When I’m not trying to remember why I might have stashed the milk in the oven or where I parked my car, I’m thinking about labor and this child coming and labor and tiny socks and labor and how to swaddle and labor and breast feeding and labor and what to expect when you’re expecting and labor…it pretty much goes like that all day in the old brain. This is it, you know? This time, these last few weeks…the calm before the storm.

Four thoughts on four.

Asher and I had a little date for coffee (me) and milk and a muffin (ok, ok, and a molasses cookie for me too) and he told me things. Things like this:

(in response to a conversation about kindergarten/elementary school/high school and then what’s next?)

Asher: Mama? When I go to college, I’m going to go somewhere really far away.

Mama: You are? I’m going to miss you!

A: Yeah, but you can still drive me to school. You can come too. You can live with me.

M: Can I get that in writing?

A: Will I have to walk up a lot of stairs to go to college?

M: There will be some stairs, but you’ll be big, you’ll be ready for them.

<<<2 minutes of silence looking out the window, thinking almost 4-year-old thoughts>>>

A: Mama? I was just kidding. I don’t want to go to college far away. Not too far.

M: Sounds good. Let’s just think about preschool for now, ok? We’ve got a long, long time to think about getting so big.

A: Yeah, and there’s already a lot of stairs at my school right now.

***

I’ve already confessed that I’m not quite as swept away with the experience of being pregnant this go-round. But in the breakfast buffet of crazy that pregnancy gets us women to sidle up to every morning, it genuinely occurred to me one night this week that this might be it for us. We aren’t making any definitive statements about how many children will be in the Walton family, but just as I’m open to the possibility of one more, I’m also open to the possibility that we’ll start doing life with two and know that we’ve hit our mark. On the one hand, a big part of the reason that I wouldn’t want to have a third baby is that I don’t know that I want to be pregnant again. I was so horrendously sick the first couple of months this time, every day felt like an out-body-experience except not because I was being held captive by my aching skin and turbulent stomach, and I begged Drew to swear to me that he wouldn’t let me forget how much it sucked three years from now when I will have inevitably forgotten. I can’t wait to not be pregnant, right?

On the other hand, I sat on the side of the bed holding my rolling belly and got all weepy crazy-town because I realized that I only have about 6-7 weeks left and I might have taken the whole thing for granted, that just maybe I wanted a do-over. And it made me think that maybe I’m not done and that there is one more little light waiting to join us. And then I shook my head because I don’t want to be pregnant again. And then I shook my head because this experience is, in many ways, what being an adult has been all about for me. And THEN I shook my head because I thought about what all of you reading this are just bursting to tell me:

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Just sit back and enjoy the show, honey. Hush up. One foot in front of the other, one day at a time. Go on and pack your things up, Crazy, we’re settling down here. You’ll know all of these things when you know them. No more thinking for a while. Shhhhhhhh.

***

We told Asher that he could choose a special name for the baby that is just for our family a couple of months ago, which has actually been kind of great, because we’re able to include this little person in our daily conversation as if he’s already here, which might be helpful for Asher wrapping his mind around the baby-sized asteroid that’s headed toward his paradigm. Asher said that he wanted to call the baby Evo (Velcro was also tossed around for a short while), and so now our daily conversation is peppered with Evo. When Evo’s here, when Evo gets bigger, I’m going to show Evo this…it’s been a way to share his presence in our family, and although the name Evo isn’t going to be on the birth certificate, it sure has been a good starter name.

One night we were talking after bath and I was telling Asher that even though I’m super excited about the baby, I sometimes feel nervous, and that it was ok if he felt nervous too. We were rocking in the chair and I may or may not have been feeling a little proud of myself when I carefully asked Asher if he ever felt nervous about Evo coming. He said in total earnestness,

“Ummm, I mostly feel nervous about bears.”

Well ok then.

***

Hey Mama, wook! I drew our famiwy but we’re worms. We’re four worms and we’re trying to get out of the hole into the sunwight. Wook, it’s you, Papa, me, and Evo!

Four.

All signs, all thoughts, all chalkboard drawings, all everything point to just doing what I want to do best: go with it. Just go with it, Mama.

Per my usual, I actually just want to be more like Asher…delighting in envisioning our family all different ways, totally comfortable with the magic number four, and reaching toward the sunlight, taking it all in one day at a time, and only getting nervous about things that can eat me.

Kids know everything.

6 things from this (last) week.

Summer turned on this week. The cicadas came out of hiding, singing their urgent and odd song, and just like that it got hot and I got even happier.

Here are a few things:

Drew got kind of obsessed with the perfect cup of coffee a couple of years ago and after going down many roads of home coffee production, he’s landed on the good old fashioned pour over. You can ask him about grind and water temp, he’s thought about it, I’m just happy to be pointed in the right direction every day. We drink pour-over coffee daily, but we only had one filter cup and I drink decaf (I know.) and it was all kind of a production with the swapping of the filter and the one cup and then we weren’t really ever drinking our cuppa at the same time. A solid first world problem. At many of our local coffee shops, they have pour over bars for multiple cups and I thought that our coffee production could really be more produced, and so I headed to the plumbing aisle and picked up an assortment of metal pipes and started screwing things together as an anniversary present for Drew. And then I made this! Is it a little silly and a tad redundant? Yessir. Do we like it? MmmmHmmm. The whole family stands around watching the coffee drip. It’s really cut down on our time spent watching drying paint and growing grass, so there’s that.

***

We had a Memorial Day BBQ last Sunday and this philosophical and/or bedroom note was on the bottom of the pan that Drew used. It amused us.

***

Asher’s been learning about Luna Moths and butterflies at school (they have a student directed curriculum, and Asher asked to learn about Luna Moths. I love that.) and just like that, this little lady (or fella?) arrived at our window for his viewing pleasure. Asher was so absurdly excited, and I’m not going to lie, so was I. We jumped on the couch a little. Because we’re a little weird, I was raised always looking up what it means when various animals cross our paths, and given the production of the luna moth viewing, I had to look her up. I was particularly struck by this passage: [The Luna Moth represents] protection and success. Face your inhibitions as this is a time of abundance and success, and you are greatly protected in all activities. While I can’t suggest what this might mean in Asher’s uninhibited world, it was one of many reminders that I’ve had lately about letting go of my worrying, particularly with regard to the future, this little child coming into our lives, and the wild wilderness of What Comes Next. While I don’t think of myself as someone who worries a lot, the truth is, I’m a ruminator and exceptional at finding something to worry about where there really is nothing. I appreciated the reminded to remember that we really are living in abundance both physically and emotionally, and that I don’t want to miss it by only looking for absence instead of presence. I’m working on this one Luna Moth at a time, you see.

ed: Asher, if you’re reading this in twenty years, feel free to point to this with your therapist and say, “See!? I told you.”

***

Speaking of appreciating what we have, I had to go in for the dreaded 3 hour prenatal sugar test, but Drew was off that day and came with me. Rather than sitting in the dark cooped up office trying not to barf from the insane drink and/or dwell on having my blood taken four times, Drew and I went for a walk and then found a lovely patio to sit on outside for the duration of the test. Lemons, meet ya lemonade. It was one of the nicest mornings that we’ve had together in quite a while. And…I passed! This is particularly exciting because I was told that I had gestational diabetes with Asher. I have much to say on the subject of gestational diabetes and my deep conviction that I did not have it last time, none of which is very productive, so a la the Luna Moth, I’m just staying focused on being thankful for right now, my health, and found dates with Drew. Take that, worry.

***

This guy. Everything. His eyes. The way that he’s saying things like, “I have a great idea! Let’s compromise!” as if the most incredible idea ever just struck him, even though the ‘compromise’ is generally him just having whatever it is that I just said no to. But he says it with such hopeful conviction and then sometimes he may or may not wind up with a popsicle in his hand to eat before bed. Because, let’s compromise!, you know? Life is short, popsicles are sweet…it’s a match made in heaven.