Monday, January 28, 2013


This past weekend we surprised Nicky with an overnight ski trip. We've really been wanting to take him, and both of us had the weekend off.  We made arrangements for Silas and Little Miss, and picked up Nicky from school on Friday with the news. At first, he was a little bummed about "the babies" not coming along, but I think we convinced him of the logic of not taking them along. (I think.)

I confess I had some selfish motivations for this trip. I haven't been on skis since taking a nasty spill and fracturing my tibial plateau (top of the tibia) three years ago. I definitely had/have some fear and trepidation about the whole business. Taking Nicky turned out to be a good way to ski a little and face a pretty major fear while keeping things light on the easy slopes. 

I can't explain why exactly, because I'm perfectly fine being afraid of or just not doing some things 
(skydiving, rock-climbing, running a marathon, attempting to knit again) but I really want to ski. I 
want to have something our family can go and do all together, especially as the kiddos get older (even if they don't want to be seen with their nerdy parents).

It's an obvious metaphor of course, but this really is how I want to live my life.  I want to figure out which things matter to me and face the fear, rational or otherwise, that would keep me from doing them.

So, we did it. I took it super easy, and the lifts still freak me out (I have a slightly irrational moment of sheer terror every time I have to get off of one, and have to give myself little pep talks. I think I might have actually said out loud "You'll be fine. Just lean forward and do your pizza," to myself at least once. Ha!) Nicky, however, sailed right through. He spent a few hours learning the basic balance stuff without poles, and got the hang of it much faster than we expected. I can really see the value of learning these types of things as a child. Oh, and being the oh-so-humble child he is, he pronounced himself a better skier than me about halfway through the day....this was after I gushed about how fast he was learning, and how much longer it had taken me to learn. This boy....

Toward the end of the day, we rode the gondola up to the top of the mountain. I loved seeing the less populated parts of the mountain, where it's quiet and foggy, and you just hear the sound of people's skis and snowboards in the snow. At the bottom, where so many people are learning, there's loud music playing and people falling everywhere, and you can sort of feel the anxiety in the air. Up at the top, it just feels peaceful. I got a small sense of the joy of skiing before I hurt myself. I crave that feeling again; that simple joy.

Nicky was predictably exhausted by the late afternoon. I'm so happy it was a fun experience for him, and I'm glad I stared down the fear monster.  I still have some work to do in that department, but this was a huge first step.

Friday, January 18, 2013

a gift of the rarest sort

my sweet,

It's Monday morning, and here we are, still in our jammies, you on my lap showing off your new bottle-holding skills. Oh, we've been working on this. For months, I've taken your little hands and put them on the bottle, and you've thrown them out and cried with a familiar frightened look on your face. So many things are scary to you, darling, and we're often caught between pushing forward and comforting. It's a dance that seems to be more graceful these days, after months of decidedly un-graceful learning on my part.

Last night, you weren't feeling very well. You were coughing and had a runny nose, and couldn't sleep because the cough kept waking you up. We decided to give you a warm bath, and so Papa got the kitchen sink cleaned up for you, and I sat you in the water, thinking you would probably just tolerate it for a few minutes. Instead you sat quietly in the water, and looked around, attempted little splashes, wide-eyed and calm. What a treat it was to see you enjoy that bath. Afterward, I rubbed some Baby Vicks onto your chest, and Papa set up the humidifier in your room, and I put you in your warmest jammies. You sat and snuggled with us for a bit and then you slept, all night.

I want you to know how much we love you; how much we want you to be happy and safe and comfortable.  You're having to fight for some things, but you have people here to fight with you and for you. The world is gradually becoming less scary; these things take time. All shall be well.

I'm still learning how to be your mother. I've only known babies who charge forward way too quickly. So you are a gift of the rarest sort, because we get to savor each stage a little longer.

Now it's Friday morning, and you're sleeping. You've laughed and played so much this week! I know you've been feeling so much better, and what a difference that makes. It also seems like we've crossed over to new territory though. I see you enjoying so many things; my heart is full.

I can't wait for more wide-eyed moments, more laughter, more curiosity. But when you need to just be held, and lay your head down, we'll all be here for that too. Take your time; amaze us all.

with love,

your Mommy

All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well. -Julian of Norwich

Saturday, January 12, 2013

pick up your feet

This morning I was supposed to go to work, but at 0520 learned I would be on-call. It's been an abnormally slow winter, and on top of that I scheduled myself sparely around the holidays, and on top of that The Sickness took over our house, so it's been some time since I've been in. Still, I won't complain about a stolen Saturday.

We very much have a family bed by the wee hours of the morning. Only Little Miss prefers her own bed, for now anyway. So I took some time to just listen to their breathing, and smiled in the dark as Silas and Nicky took turns throwing their arms up, stretching, turning, and breathing back into a pattern. Moments when I can think beyond being tired and just enjoy their presence: what a treasure.

To listen to their breathing, notice the curvature of their faces, tuck them in again, to say yes to going outside, to say yes more in general: all good decisions. Expand, make yourself small, then find yourself again. It's an odd but beautiful daily lesson.

Enjoy. There are days when I have to fight to fit the word in, somehow. That's my goal though. Not only the fight, but the long attempt to change my thinking. Life is beautiful, and oh so hard, when you have these melancholy tendencies. When you go easily to the dark side, I like to say and laugh, but oh---it is dark. Sludgy, tedious.

Distance is a daunting thing to me lately. How am I going to get there? When I used to run, a coach once gave me some excellent advice. He said that when you get tired and want to slow down, pick up your feet. Smaller, quicker steps can help you to keep going, and you may even go faster. So I'm trying to stop thinking about the distance and keep looking around, keep giving thanks, and just pick up my feet. The idea is not to strive endlessly I suppose, but to make small, love-filled choices and one day realize you've gotten somewhere.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

winter break

It's been such a restful winter break, even with all the sickness we've been battling. It's wonderful to be home and cozy when that's really all you feel like doing! (And really, that's all I've felt like doing.) I scheduled time off and Ricky was able to stay home quite a bit too. Usually I'm crawling out of my skin if the kids and I aren't dressed and ready by mid-morning, but there were several days when I stayed happily jammied all day. It seems like we all really needed rest, and I'm grateful to have had it! Here are some pictures I found while cleaning out my phone this morning.

Tomorrow it's back to reality: school, routine, lessons, appointments, visits, work and such. I'm working on being ready.

Friday, January 4, 2013

and now, 2013

The holidays lingered through today. My younger brothers packed up really early this morning so one of them could make his 6 am flight back to Korea, and so I said good-bye in my pajamas, groggily. I am, of course, left with a familiar post-Christmas sadness mixed with New Year energy, but so grateful for what time I had with my family this year. Snow really is the perfect weather for that particular mood, and it's just what we got today. We noticed it was snowing after breakfast, and the boys bundled up and went out to catch snowflakes. They were quickly chilled and so we put them in a bath and talked over coffee while they played. The rest of the day was cozy. We played with them and gave Little Miss a haircut (goodbye scraggly baby mullet), made a nice dinner, and finally finished the Lord of the Rings trilogy (that series will always be associated with Christmas for me) and I finished crocheting a blanket that I started sometime in 2011. That feels good. Tomorrow promises more snow, and maybe I'll take the tree down. Anyway, I've finished mulling over my resolutions for this year, so here they are.

In 2013, I want to:
  • have a monthly date night with Ricky.  Find a regular babysitter again, enlist grandparents, etc.
  • have one day a week that is social-media free. I'm thinking Sunday; a true Sabbath.
  • invite people over for dinner more
  • finish paying off my student loans (carryover from 2012)
  • ski! (another carryover, and should happen very soon)
  • keep reading at least a book every month (having a day off from social media should really help)
  • find ways to write more
  • finish Silas' baby book, and start Little Miss'
  • move toward a more specific nursing practice--by the end of the year I'd like to be working in just one unit.
  • keep up the practice of letting go--letting go of my to-do list so I can play with my kids, letting go of my preference for a clean house so I can write/read/spend quality time people/pray/go for a walk/etc. I'm good at making lists and living by them. I'd like to be better at spontaneous enjoyment.

....and on that note, I choose enjoy as my one word for 2013. I want to enjoy my life: my family, my work outside and inside the home, my place of worship, my relationships. I want to be brave enough to let go of burdensome things; to let go of any impulse to impress or prove a point. I simply want to do things because I enjoy them, thereby being who I was meant to be.

Here's to 2013!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Hopes for 2012, Revisited

I've been slayed for the past few days by a sinus infection that grew (pun intended) out of a prolonged cold. Yesterday I joined half the town at Urgent Care and came home with antibiotics and some heavy duty cough syrup. My body is SO not used to narcotics so I slept quite well last night, and pretty much all day today...let's just say no more codeine for me, or at least not the full dosage. Normally I would have carved out some time today to look back over my goals from 2012 and make some new ones for 2013, and I'm still a little woozy, so this may turn into a January 2nd exercise. Here's my list from 2012:

  • Become a foster parent, and who knows? maybe adopt. But probably not so soon. But maybe. How exciting that this actually happened!!! And we will, most likely, be finalizing an adoption before the year is half over. Wow, just wow.
  • Learn to use more of the features on my camera, also, invest in a good lense. This one didn't happen; not even a little bit. I blame Ricky, because he bought me an iPad. It's so easy to just pick up a phone or tablet to take photos or video these days. So, this goal fell to the back burner. I did use my SLR quite a bit for photo shoots of the littles and such, but really didn't spend any time, energy or money (aside from replacing a lost lens cap) on learning new things about photography.
  • Get brave and try skiing again. I had a bad fall and injury a few years back, and I've been too nervous to try again. But I really, really want the kids to learn, so we're going to go. This one didn't happen either, simply because we didn't make it a priority to go. Ricky and my younger brothers are actually going tomorrow, and I had intended to go too before this infection set in. However, we've made tentative plans to go later this month or in February with our small group. So, this one gets moved to 2013 :)
  • Start reading chapter books with Nicky (oh, I am so excited for this!) Yes! I loved it and plan to keep doing it. I also formed the habit of reading to Silas before his mid-day nap and I really look forward to that time with him. 
  • Pay off student loans. Partially accomplished. I paid off one entirely, one is nearly paid off, and one more remains after that.  Ever since Little Miss came to live with us I've been putting money aside toward a new vehicle (we are super crammed with three car-seats in the back at present), so that kind of took over the loan payments I was making in big chunks before. Need to make a more specific plan.  
  • Keep up a good work/life balance This was successful. I switched between 1-2 shifts per week, depending on what was happening at home. This has been a tricky area for me. Honestly, if I thought I could handle being a stay-at-home-mom full time, I would love to do that for a season. But I've found I really need those few days away to remind me why I like being at home, and also just to use different skills. I would love to move toward more specific nursing practice this year, building on some groundwork I was able to lay this past year. 
  • Read a book a month (open to suggestions) Done! I read:
There is No Me Without You by Melissa Fay Greene
Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis
    Naked Sprirituality by Brian McLaren
      Grace, Eventually by Anne Lamott
                      The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
                      • make a quilt out of the boys' worn out clothes, and other fabric scraps I have lying around Halfway done. I pieced the quilt top and bought all the materials for putting the layers together, and then lost my motivation...honestly the hard part is done. I just need to spend some evenings quilting the layers together with a good movie. Sounds nice.
                      • be more intentional about spending time with friends The first half of the year, we did a good job with this. After Little Miss came, we really struggled to find time and energy to seek out social interaction. I think that's normal after "having" a baby, and I'm so grateful for the friends who sought us out! Now that we're back in a reasonable routine, hopefully we can get back on track. Ideally, I'd love to have one evening a week set apart for spending time with friends.
                      • learn to make artisan bread This one was kind of random, and sadly did not happen. Kitchen time is pretty pragmatic these days!
                      • cultivate the habit of un-distracted listening I think Nicky gives me lots of practice with this one! That boy can talk. One of the challenges of parenting is giving your undivided attention, it seems. I didn't always do it well, but it was certainly a focus this year. Something to continue working on.
                      • and finally, my word for 2012: generous. As I wrote in my 2012: Year in Review post, I do see many examples of generosity, big and small, when I look back on the year, but I don't feel it's the most defining word for the year. It does seem that every day, on some level, we're presented with the choice to be selfish or generous, and as I've learned so many times, when you try desperately to keep something for yourself, you find no joy in it. This is an ongoing lesson. So I hope to choose generosity, as a habit, as well as bravery.
                      As expected, it's now January 2 and I'm feeling much more human. On to 2013!!
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