February 13, 2013

two boys. two letters.

Malachi Raymond,

Your name is Malachi Raymond, you will never know the names you almost were, or could have been, or the discussions your daddy and I had about naming you.  You will only know that you are Malachi, "Messenger of God", and that we gave you that name because it was strong.  We gave you that name because it has meaning, because we believe that names are important, that they can help shape the person you become.  And you will know that Raymond is after my Grandpa, your Great Grandpa, who you may or may not ever have the gift of meeting and knowing and loving like everyone who knows him does.  Raymond means "Protecting Hands".  This name couldn't fit my Grandpa any better, our family protector, our strong and gentle protector, his hands gaurding our lives and hearts.  Know, sweet Malachi, that you were named in love, you were given a name of deep meaning and strong conviction because we love you that much.

We can not wait to meet you baby boy, to see your face and wonder at your fingers and toes and perfect baby lips.  We wonder if you will look like your big brother, or completely new and different.  Will you have Boucher red hair?  Will your eyes be blue like Asher's, or brown like mama's - like genetics say they most likely will be.  Will you be as huge as they think you will be?  Will you cry and whine and refuse to sleep?  Will you like to swing and bounce and be bundled?  We can not wait to discover the baby you will be.

And we can not wait to watch you grow... we can not wait to grow with you.  You know it won't just be you changing, it will be all of us.  Your daddy will grow and change as we adjust to live with you.  I will continue to grow and change as I become a mama to 2 instead of just 1.  And Asher will probably change the most, because he will become something whole and new.  He will become your big brother, and as he watches you, and you him, he will change again and again.

We are so excited for you to have a big brother to learn froma nd grow with.  We are so excited that you two will get to share life together, and play together.  I know that you will sometimes fight, and soemtimes you may wish that you don't have a big brother at all... but those moments will be short lived, of this I know for sure.  Because you have a brother you also have a friend for life.  You have a confidant.  You have support and love and courage somewhere when you can not find it yourself.  Love each other always, depend on each other, fight for each other.  Remember, that when no one else in the world is there... Asher will be.  Because he is your brother, because you share more than just 4 walls and crazy parents... but you share blood, you share life.

Know, sweet baby Malachi, that you can be whoever you want to be.  Know that your daddy and I will love you through all eternity, forever, always, and even more.  Know that we will always be proud of you, always encourage you, always desire to see you grow.  Know that there is nothing you can do that will never make us live you any less.  Because I am your mama, and you are my baby, and that is the way it always will be.

We love you Malachi Raymond.  We can not wait to see your face, and kiss your head, and show you how much our love for you has grown while you grew inside of me.

Forever and Always,

Your Mama  

Asher Max,

Do you know how much I love you?  I love you more than you love ice cream or french fries or Lightning Mcqeen.  I love you more than you love playing outside.  It's true.  And I love you more and more every day.  And I will continue to love you more and more everyday, until I take my final breath.  Because I am your mama, and you are my baby, and that is just how it is supposed to be.

When we found out I was pregnant when you were just 5 months old... I worried about how it would change your life.  I worried that it wasn't fair to you, that you wouldn't be able to be my little baby anymore, that you would have to be my big boy.  And it made me sad, and it made me miss the times I would have with you.  But then we lost that baby, and I was sad that you wouldn't get to expereince being a big brother, and having a parter in crime and life and friendship so close to you.  You will never know those things.  But I know someday you will meet your little sibling who was never able to take a breathe on this earth... Someday, amongst streets of gold and gates of pearl, and a light that shines brighter than the sun. 

And when we found out I was pregnant again, I was so excited for you my Asher boy.  I was so excited that you would have a little sibling, to love, and grow with, and experience life with.  I was so happy that you wouldn't have to field this crazy life with your crazier parents all by yourself.

On the day we found out that there was another little boy growing inside of there, we couldn't have been happier.  We wanted so badly for you to have a little brother, someone to be your roommate, and friend, and partern in silly and sometimes crime.  You and baby Malachi will be almost exactly the same age apart as your Daddy and Uncle Patrick... and they have been best friends since the moment they became brothers.  I am so happy you two will have each other, I am so happy you two will always get to be in each others life.

Sometimes having a brother will be hard Asher Max... Sometimes you will feel left out, and sad.  Sometimes you will feel jealous and hurt.  Sometimes you two will fight.  He might make bad decisions someday that will break your heart, and you might do the same to him.  But I hope that you two will always be so thankful for each other.  I pray that you will always choose to love each other, and turn the other cheek.  I pray that you will help guide and encourage one another, to follow the path of Christ.  I pray that you two will know an unconditional love and friendship that every group of brothers should now.

From the first moment we told you about the baby in mama's tummy, I knew what kind of brother you would be.  A proud one, a loving one, a silly one.  You looked at those ultrasound pictures with wonder, and patted my tummy with special care.  You told people about the baby in mama's tummy, and smiled when you did.  When we moved the crib back into your room, you wondered what was happening, but you took it with strides, in time.  You love reading your "I'm a Big Brother Now" book, and pointing out Asher and Mama and Daddy and baby Malachi.  And when you wake up you say "Hi baby Malachi!" and give my tummy the sweetest kiss.  And you like to touch him and kiss him, and sometimes pretend to bite him... and tell him to "Sleep Good baby Malachi."  I will treasure these moments forever.  These special moments between brothers before you have even met.

And I know you will be such a good brother Asher Max.  I know I will be so proud of you.  And know, my baby boy, that I will love you forever and always and you will always be my first baby boy.  You were the one who first grew inside of me, you were the one who made me a mama, and helped shape me into a better mama for all the rest to come.  Know that when you feel lonely. or hurt, or jealous, that you can come to me.  Know that you will always be my baby.  Forever and Always, and throught all ages... I love you My Asher Boy.


January 15, 2013

beautiful, beautiful, beautiful... beautiful boy.

this sweet baby is a little boy.  we are beyond thrilled for another little boy to be joining us in may.

i am almost 25 weeks, and the time is flying by. i can hardly believe it.

baby is well, i am well.

i get terrible leg cramps, so bad my calves are sore for days.  and i want to eat nothing but french fries and cookies and pineapple.  but other than that, all is well in pregnancy land.

we have been adjusting to my new job schedule.  working nights seems well for me.  i am a champion sleeper and am not too tired, and so happy i get to spend more time with my asher.  the rest of my life has found it hard to adjust to the change.  my house is a disaster, fast food has become a regular meal, i keep forgetting to do my school work, and finding a regular rhythm and schedule is desperately needed.  we will start working on that after this week. of course i should have known this would be hard, because i know that my life has a hard time adjusting to changes like this.  i never recovered into a normal routine after having asher, some people find it easy, i did not.  i was just so focused on the fact that i wouldn't be sleeping that it never occurred to me the other adjusting would be even harder... so on we go.

beautiful boy from mr. holland's opus. this scene brings me to tears every time (ugly sobbing tears), and if you haven't seen this movie, you really must watch it... even if only for the father son storyline, it is beautiful.

December 27, 2012

my matthew...

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will."  Romans 12:2

there are lots of reasons why i love my husband.  there are lots of reasons i chose to marry him, and i choose to stay married to him. there are lots of reasons i choose to love him each and every day.

i never wondered what kind of husband he would be.  i knew.  he would love me.  he would choose to love me every day.  he would never cheat on me.  he would never question why he married me.  he would lead me.  i knew we would fight.  i knew we would have hard times.  i knew there would be months when we would struggle to make ends meet.  and i knew in these times that God would provide us what we need.   i knew he would not place importance on status or money.  he would not find his, or anyone elses value, in status or money or anything of the sorts. 

he judges by the heart.  his value is found in who he is in Christ, and in Christ, he is everything.  he values others by the same.  he works hard, not to be the best, but because God asks him too.  he loves, not because it is always easy, but because God asks him too.  he sacrifices things, things he loves, because it is best for our family; because it may be a weakness in him that God would not desire.  he does not conform to the pattern of this world, he is transformed by the renewing of the mind. (romans 12:2)

these are things in him that i love the most.  these also happen to be things in him that are sometimes hard for the outside world to understand.  he doesn't need to have a six figure job, we have everything we need and so much more.  he doesn't need to move up any corporate ladder to feel good about himself, his value is not defined by what he does.  he does not need to be the best at anything, he only needs to try his best at the things he does.  he doesn't need to win, he needs to be a winning husband and father. 

and i love him for these things.  he is more than i could have dreamed for in a husband.  his heart is who he is, and his heart is beautiful. 

when i was pregnant i wondered what kind of father he would be, not that i didn't believe he would be a great one, but because i just didn't know what he would look like as a dad.  but then asher was born, and he welcomed our son with tears in his eyes (that never escaped his eye lids, but they never do) and i knew what kind of father he would be. 

he would love him.  not because of what he did, or who he became.  not because he was a success.  not because he was beautiful, not because he was smart, not because he was a winner at everything he did.  he would love our child because he was ours.  he would love our child because God called him to.  he would not define him by what he did or who he became or the amount of money he made... he would define him by who he is in Christ, and in Christ, he is everything.

matthew loves asher.  he adores him.  becoming a daddy has been the best thing in his life.  he plays with him.  he watches dora and thomas the tank engine with him.  he rough houses with him.  he sings with him.  he laughs with him.  he disciplines him.  he prays with him.  it is matthew he asks for most of the time.  it is matthew who can handle his emotional breakdowns the best.  matthew is there with him.  all the time.  he is a daddy who doesn't want to miss a thing.

i know that matthew will teach him great things.  not just with his words, but with action.  asher will learn who to become by watching matthew's lead.  he will teach him to love Jesus and to love people.  he will teach him that money and status doesn't define you.  he will teach him to act in service, to act in love.  he will teach him that God wants us to be our best, but then when we don't succeed He doesn't love us any less.  he will encourage him and support him.  he will cheer him on in whatever he does.  he will find things to do with him, he will not let them grow apart.  he will always be proud of him.  he will pray for him.  he will pray that he grows to know Christ, to love Christ, to love people, to act in service, to not conform to the pattern of the world but to be transformed by the renewing of the mind. (romans 12:2)  asher will have his daddy's heart, and that heart is beautiful.

and i will pray that asher grows up knowing what a gift he has in a daddy who loves him so much, who loves his mama so much.  i will pray that he values a daddy who cares more about following God, more about being a a good daddy and a good husband than anything else.  i will pray that asher knows what a treasure it is to have a daddy like my matthew.

and i will be so proud of both of them.  i will love them with all my heart.  and i will thank God each and every day for bringing them to me, for allowing me this life.

matthew, my matthew, i love you.  i am proud of you.  for all you are, and all you do.  for your heart and your desire to not be of this world.  for the husband and father you have been and will continue to be.  thank you for seeking His will.  thank you for being you.

November 2, 2012


spooky was our favorite word of the season.  there were spooky pumpkins, and spooky houses, and spooky monsters on t-shirts.  most of which were not spooky at all, but adorable and sweet and little kiddie halloweeny... but it sure was darn cute when he called everything spooky.

his costume was all but spooky.  i decided last year that until asher can tell me what he wants to be for halloween, i will make him be what i want him to be... there will be plenty of years of weapon yielding and cape wearing and scary creepy costumes to come.  here's to hoping he never realizes most kids pick costumes out on their own.

this year, he would be harry potter.  asher watches harry potter with me while i fold laundry, and loves to look at the dvd cases.  he may have no idea why harry potter is so cool, and hasn't come anywhere close to falling in love with the books, but those days will come.  i dream of the day i can hand him book 1, and watch him pour over it, swept into the fantasy land just like i was.  i will stalk him for years, anxiously awaiting the day he turns the final page on book 7.  and then i will make him discuss every last detail of the books with me, and he will wish that his mom wasn't a crazy nerdy harry potter fiend... but he will understand, because he has become one too.

we talked the costume up for weeks, and every time we mentioned halloween, he would talk about his "potter clothes".  then they day came.  i put his costume on him...

and this is what i got.  "don't like it"  "don't like it" "don't like potter clothes"  we were doomed.  matthew reasoned with him, was persistent with him, picked him up crying, and we walked out the door.

once he realized he was getting candy he started to perk up.  sweet isaiah, son of my first friend i made in college, becky, was with us.  captain america was growing a little tired of harry potter's slow walking, fit throwing, shenanigans

i didn't blame him one bit.  isaiah and i walked hand in hand.  my own son wanted nothing to do with me, and would only talk or touch daddy, and isaiah had clearly chosen his lady for the night leaving his own mama and daddy walking a step behind. he warded off the evil halloween spirits with his shield and huge muscles.

slowly asher warmed up to the costume (because of the copious amounts of chocolate that continued to grow in his candy bag i am sure).

he picked up his wand and tried to cast some spells...

he even put his glasses on.

we tried to tell him that he would only get candy if he put his glasses on and said "trick or treat".  it didn't take him long to realize that he got candy no matter what... but he still said "ssthank you" at each and every door.

daddy wore the glasses between houses.

and soon the boys were marching up to houses, hands held, knocking, "trick or treating", and "thank you-ing", all on their own.

look at them.  becky and i hope they will be buddies, for years and years to come... i think they are off to a pretty good start. happy, funny, silly, sweet, loving, boys that they are.

they had some juice, and ate some candy, and hugged each other good night... all were happy and well and sugared up (moms and dads included).   

and harry potter ended up a sweet, spooky, halloween success.

October 31, 2012

number three...

asher max, soon to be big brother, cheesing for the camera...

most people will think of this baby as baby number 2, and it will be only the second baby i will have the pleasure and gift of holding in my arms... but to me this baby will always be baby number 3. 

baby 1 was a surprise, a gift, a miracle, a dream that i never knew would come true.  and he was real.  i was scared, very scared.  scared of the unknown and the changes to come... but i felt peace.  i felt joy.  and when i first saw his face, and held him in my arms, i felt love like i never knew i was capable of feeling.  and i have continued to feel that love for the last 2 years, everytime i see his face, and every moment when i do not.  he made me want to be the best version of myself.  he made me into who i was always meant to be. 

baby 2 was a surprise, and i felt fear, and anxiety before i felt peace.  baby 2 would come when asher was only 14 months old... i wondered what in the world we were thinking...  but after a couple days, and catching my worries on his shoulder, my husband looked at me and said, "you don't get to be sad about this anymore." and i stopped feeling sad, and starting feeling joy.  i started planning and dreaming and loving.  10 weeks later, i cried when no heartbeat was found.  10 weeks later, matthew held me every night as i cried, and he continued to hold me as i cried for months and months to come.  i never got to hold my baby, i never got to see their face, but i felt that sweet indescribable love.  i felt love, and sorrow, and pain, and hope.  i have hope that someday i will see my baby's face, and know that i will feel that sorrow and pain no more.  

i thought i would never have the strength to try again.  i thought my asher max was the miracle of a lifetime.  but then, at just the wrong time, timing only God could create... there were two pink lines.  i entered with fear and trepidation, every twinge of pain, every lack of symptom, every single little thing brought fear and trembling and freaking out.  i couldn't lose another baby, i dared to imagine myself if i did.  i was cautiously excited, i was cautiously anticipating the best, still fearing the worst.  matthew went with me to my first appointment, because i knew i couldn't take it if there was no heartbeat again... and then there was a heartbeat. a tiny grain of rice baby. and i felt a little easier but the fear was still not gone.  4 weeks later, i watched that ultrasound monitor as tears fell down my face... there was my baby, strong, wiggling, a perfect little bean.  life.  baby number 3.

so, now we can finally rejoice, this new life growing inside of me.  we can cheer and whoop and cry for joy.  we can feel peace and anticipation along with the scary unknown.  and we will pray that baby number 3 continues to grow strong and true. and we will pray, each and every night, that someday soon i will hold this baby in my arms, whispering prayers in their ear to hear.  we will pray for the person God wants them to be, that we will not hinder their way.  and we will thank God for allowing us the gift of being parents once again. 

and every year when our christmas cards go out, people will look at our beautiful family and think how blessed this family of 4 must be... and we will be, because we are.  but when i seal those envelopes and slip them in the mail, i will think how beautiful we are, this family of 5, and how truly blessed we are.

September 4, 2012


asher is a lot like his mama.  we like schedules, we like plans, we like normal.

when something hits out of the ordinary he gets tired and crabby and sad and sometimes sick.

when his birthday hit friday, he got sick.

the show must go on, with his yaya and gwampa and aunties coming in for his big day, and my family coming over the next day for a birthday dinner... the show had to go on.

i was tired, asher was feverish, and our schedules and norms were turned upside down.

but saturday was perfect.  he was feeling better, and had the day to spend with his aunties while mama cooked and prepped.  he loved his watermelon cake (looks like not tastes like).  he loved being sang to, and tried to take a bite out of the cake while we sang.  he got lots of cars and legos and things that go. and lots of hugs and cuddles from family.

as per usual, i didn't snap a single picture... but you can head on over to my mother in law's blog for a couple of pictures of asher's 2nd birthday.

yesterday as our guests returned home and life returned to normal, the whirlwind that was this weekend left a trail of demolition.  asher slept for hours, in fact he slept right through lunch.  and i got sick with, after talking to the dr, what i believe to be some gallbladder issues.  i moaned and whimpered and asher played quietly the rest of the afternoon.

at bedtime asher went searching for yaya around the house, and concluded she must be at work. we explained to him that she went back to wisconsin.  with all the upheaval and stray from our norm, we loved having them here.  asher loves his family very very much.

and this morning i still didn't feel well, and asher screamed bloody murder when i dropped him off at daycare.  perhaps our norm has not returned yet, but it will... and this aftermath was worth the moments spent with family and the precious memories made.    

August 31, 2012


"asher, how old are you?"

"two" he answers, in almost a whisper, not yet mastering how to hold his 2 fingers up, instead all fingers clumsly face outward in a claw. 

asher max is 2 today.  we are going to celebrate after work by grocery shopping!  yay asher! congrats you made it another year!  but we have to feed you, and today was pay day, so to the grocery store we go... 

sometimes it feels like yesterday, sometimes like a lifetime ago, but it is a day i will always remember, a day forever engrained in my mind.  i wrote about it here, here, and here

and last year i reflected on our first year, and the love i have for him here.

this year, i can't help but think how fast this all has gone, how my baby boy is not a baby any longer.  and those memories of him as a tiny little one, are starting to fade already.  it breaks my heart.  how can i fill my head and heart with every aspect of each day that is special and different... i know i can't, but how will i always remember who he was then and who he will be all the many years from now.

when asher turned two...

he was so silly,

and loved turning around and around and around in circles.

he had been in a serious Cars kick, and had watched the movie aproxomitely 542 times. 

he went to bed with 3 paci's, pooh, finn, mcqueen, and no blanket.

he loved his daddy the most,

but always wanted mama to dry him off after his bath, and rock him like a baby while he sang "bay-be assher" over and over again.

he hated being guided, and refused to hold our hand.

he fake laughed whenever he did something funny, throwing his head way back, scrunching up his nose, and ha ha ha-ing.

i gave him a really bad haricut 2 days before his birthday, making him look kind of bald headed.

he loved mumford and sons, and sang along to all the songs.

he liked it when daddy turned on records, and asked for "rock-roollll"

he woke up way too early, nearly every single day.

he could, and did, eat an entire can of spaghetti-o's.

he loved to help vacuum, sweep, and rake.

he tried to play golf with daddy on the xbox.

he loved to hit his little golf clubs left handed.

he was so sweet with tiny babies, it kind of made me want to have another one.

he liked mickey, thomas, wild kratz, and curious george.

little blue truck and little blue truck leads the way were his favorite books to read.

he had nearly memorized his little curious george book.

he loved chasing after dogs and cats.

the gorillas were his favorite animal at the zoo.

the slide was his favorite thing to do at the park,

and he loved being outside.

daddy took him to the airshow.

he went to his first concert.

he asked for "milky" every 12 minutes.

he was sweet

and tender

and loved giving hugs and kisses.

he was kind of shy.

and got sick whenever we traveled.

his voice was loud.

he loved to pray at bedtime, and sometimes asked for "more pray"

he loved to sing and dance.

he was goofy and silly and crazy and sometimes naughty.

and he was practically perfect in each and every way.

picture by donna boucher

happy birthday sweet asher max.  i love you more than you know.

August 29, 2012

not lonely, just alone...

i was reading this sweet post by my blog friend (and rarely real life friend, when i visit my long lost hometown that i wish was my current hometown- denver) emily.  her sweet ramona is just a year old and emily has already noticed that sweet baby girl needs her alone time.  and it made me think.  it made me think a lot.  and because i am selfish and self centered it mostly made me think about myself.

i have always needed alone time.  i was very blessed to have a mother that recognized this in me and always provided my a place that i go and be by myself.  a place i could close the door to the rest of the world and just be with me.  at a very young age, i imagine my mom discovered this about me similarly to how emily did.  and she let me have my space.  as i grew older, and started being surrounded by more and more and people, and particularly a little brother who didn't have the same needs (and instead liked, and still likes, to be surrounded by people and is sad when he is not).  she tried to balance our needs, and would sometimes have to ask me to play with my brother when i did not want to.  but when it would become too much, she would tell jesse that he needed to go play in his room for a little while.  you could find me in my room by myself after an afternoon spent with family or friends.  on the playground, i would sometimes be by myself hiding in the plastic tube tunnel.  i was not lonely, just alone.

as i got older that need for alone time always existed, perhaps it even grew.  there would be days when i simply could not go to school, days when i knew i needed to stay home and just be.  and my mom obliged.  she would call me in sick... and i would stay home as everyone else rushed out the door to face their companions, their minions, their responsibilities.  i would stay behind, and take a bath, and read a book, and maybe even clean my room.  i would think, and pray, and reflect.  i would find peace in these moments, clarity.

i loved living by myself when i did.  i was free to do and think as i please.  i was free to sing and talk to myself without judgement, and i had a clear head and resounding peace.  being by myself was not just a frivolity, it was not just a desire, it was something i needed to keep my sanity, something i needed to stay grounded.  and living by myself i was always in control of my alone time.  when i needed people, i would join my friends and family, and when i needed to be alone all i needed to do was head home.  i was alone, but never lonely.

when matthew and i started dating, there were always days i would have to myself.  football season, i would have the whole weekend.  soccer seasons, he would be at practice and games.  and sometimes he liked to just be with his friends. 

but when we got married i was suddenly never alone.  i never had a moment when i could shut the door behind me and just be.  i was never alone.  sometimes lonely, but never alone.  matthew has never been alone his whole life.  he always shared his room, he always loved being surrounded by friends and activities.  and he didn't always understadn why i wouldn't want to be disturbed behind a closed door.

and then we had a baby.  and i love being with sweet asher boy more than anything else in the world.  and sacrificing my time with him to be alone seemed frivolous and needy.  i was finding myself stressed, burnt out, unable to think clearly.  i knew a day to myself would make myself feel better, but between school and work and bills and a family, who had time for such things.  i was starting to feel like i would never be alone again.

sure, there were times i was by myself at the grocery store, or getting my hair done, or driving between daycare... that wasn't quite what i needed.  but sometimes it is hard to ask your family that you love to leave the house for the day; particularly when your family does not understand the need to be alone.

last week matthew started talking about going to the air show... i hate going to the air show.  so as he and asher were getting more excited, i asked if he wouldn't mind if i stayed home.  he didn't.  so i packed the boys a bag, kissed them goodbye, and for the first time in multiple years i had a series of hours to myself at home.

i thought and prayed and sat empty minded.  i made myself chocolate covered strawberries, and watched dawson's creek on netflix (don't judge).  i folded laundry, and stayed in my pj's.  i did nothing of any importance.  i just was.  i was able to just be.  by myself.  for hours.  and i basked in it.  i felt clarity, i felt peace, i felt like me for just a moment.

and i realized, it isn't frivolous or needy to ask to be by myself for a few hours.  i realized it is more than a desire or a want or longing.  being alone is something i need for my sanity, for my emotional self.  in order to be the best wife, and mother, and person, i can be.  i need to be alone.  to recharge, to think, to pray, to do nothing at all...

it is okay to be by yourself.  it is okay to be alone.  and doing so doesn't mean that i am a bad mother, or an unloving wife, it means i am doing something that my soul needs to thrive. so in the months and years to come, i will work on asking for the moments when i need them.  and i am guessing that not only i will be grateful for these moments of solitude, but my husband and son will too.  not just for their time together, but because momma will be able to keep herself from turning into a crazy person. 

August 22, 2012

back to school update...

Pictures of children heading back to school, posing with their new backpacks and fresh digs outside the playground have been flooding my facebook feed.  AND.  I love every single one of them.  Some bring tears to my eyes, and some make me smile from ear to ear.  My cousin April's kids look so big, and I can't believe I am not there to watch them grow.  My long lost junior high friend Ashley's boy just started preschool, and I thought he was just a year older than Asher, it can't be time for this already, can it?  Jon and Kacee's sweet girl looks so much like her mama, it brings tears to my eyes.  And Bethany's Jaida is the spitting image of her grandmother, someone I loved as much as my own mother, who would have enjoyed being grandma to this funny little girl far more than I am even imagining, I am sure.

Why is it that going back to school is such a poignant memory in my life each year?  I remember being very little in Michigan, and coming home after buying school supplies and new clothes and setting all the items up across the couch and not wanting to take them down.  Jesse and I played store with them until the neighbor boy came over and teased me about my new underwear sitting out for him to see. 

I remember eating breakfast at the table on my first day of kindergarten, I was only 4 years old.  I remember walking to the bus stop at the end of the street with my daddy, and trying not to cry when the bus doors closed.  I remember the nerves and uncertainty I felt walking into that classroom for the first time.  Mrs. Sandy eased my nerves immediately.

Every year I would await the day, the exact hour, that they would post our class lists on the front door of the school, and mom and I would usually be waiting when the secretary opened the door and started taping the lists up for all to see.  She would smile at us, and hand us a school supply list, and the anticipation would be almost more than I could bare.  I would check for my name first, and then my friends.  And I would cry when my friends weren't in my class.  The summer before 4th grade I had prayed for Mrs. Leners to be my teacher each and every day, and when I read my name under her class list, I wasn't even disappointed to see only 1 friends name in the group with me.

Picking out folders, and pencils, and new notebooks, was always my favorite shopping event of the year.  In fact, it still is.  Now I wait til they all go on clearance, a couple weeks after school starts, and I go up and down the aisles looking for cute folders, and new markers, and my favorite kind of pens and buy just 1 or 2 (or 22).  And I take them home, and I show Matthew who looks at me like I may have lost my mind... but I don't care one bit... because for just a few moments, I am 6 again with fresh school supplies and a brand new start.  The nerves even return for a moment, and the excitement, and the fear.  And then I remember I am nearly 29, and have to go to work the net day so I can bay stacks of bills that never seem to dwindle.  But for a moment with new notebooks and pens, I forget that, and I am 6 again.

I have been going back to school for 4 semesters now, and have finished 38 credits, with one lousy B ruining my perfect A average.  It has been such a struggle, and I am working harder at school than I ever have before.  It had been so long since I went the first time, that I basically was starting over and it seemed so daunting in the beginning.  But I am enjoying learning, and I am enjoying and the challenge.  I am hating being so busy, and I am hating the time suck that takes time away from my 2 favorite boys... but this is temporary.  I have remained on track for everything I am hoping and planning for, and am praying that things continue to go so well.  Pray for me this next 2 semesters, I will have a lot of things coming up that will decided the future for me. 

That first day back to class... I felt exactly like I did that first day of kindergarten no many years before.  I walked into class so nervous my hands were shaking, with a pit the size of a grapefruit in my gut.  I sat myself near the back, but not the way back, and kept telling myself I would be alright.  I whispered prayers in my head for peace and strength, and I wondered what in the world I was thinking.  I knew my survival in this quest would depend on the ability to make a friend, so as the teacher spoke I scoped out the class.  There were people my age there, and I watched them as they worked trying to see who I should align myself with.  No slackers wanted round here, I was determined and sure this time around.  And I made a friend, or 2 or 3, that helped make that first class much easier.  So I signed up again the next semester, and then the one after that... and so it continues.

In September I will start my 5th semester, my 2nd full year back.  And I don't quite feel that anticipation for going back that I once did when I was young, perhaps because I have been taking no breaks (winter and summer classes are a must to get me where I want to be)... but I do feel an anticipation in accomplishing something.  I feel a fresh wind, and a new hope, the same as I did.  And I will be carrying with me some fresh new school supplies that will hopefully make me feel, even if for only a moment, like I am 6 again and have the whole world in front of me.  


August 21, 2012

buddy and mama date night...

Several months ago Matthew was stalking the inter-webs hour after hour waiting for Mumford and Sons to announce some US tour stops.  We had read about their plans for a Gentleman of the Road Stopover Festival, and thought they must stop somewhere in middle of America.  When they announced a stop in Dixon, IL we knew that wasn't too far to go... So the morning tickets went on sale we waited at the computer until 10:00:01 am and snatched up our 2 tickets.  The festival sold out quickly, but not before my mother in law could snatch up 4 more for all the fam.

This last Friday night as soon as I got off work we loaded up the car and started to drive.  Asher, to stay on track for his life long goal of getting sick on every vacation we ever go on, got sick on the car ride there.  We arrived late, stayed up later, and spent more time in the car the next day, where we stood and walked for 10 hours without a stroller to help us, because they weren't allowed, but it seemed everyone else somehow finagled them through the concert gates, then we stayed up late yet again, and woke up to spend some more time in the car to come back home.  With a sick baby boy crying "buckle off" on repeat for 3 days, and drooling and spitting and not eating, I had never been so excited to be back home... Now if only it weren't for that thing called a job so I could sleep for 3 straight days to make up for all my lost vacation sleep that I am getting too old to miss...   Mumford and Sons did not disappoint, and we loved that we were able to take Asher to see his favorite band whom he lovingly refers to as "Marcus" (even if he did fall asleep 3 songs in, requiring me to hold his dead weight for the remainder of the concert, for 3 songs, he was in heaven.)  He cried and sang along to Lover's Eyes, and danced like a fool to Little Lion Man.  During I Will Wait he fought to keep his eyes open, but when they finally shut, there was no hope of him prying them back open.

About a month after we bought these tickets and planned our trip, Mumford and Sons announced some other tour stops, one in Lincoln, NE about an hour from our house just 2 days after the Dixon, IL concert.  Matthew quickly made plans to attend with his friend (my cousin) Stephen, and I thought he must be nuts. (And how is that for the back story-- so long.  Sorry I suck at being short and sweet)  

Last night when I got home from work Matthew ran out the door, quick as a wink, excited as all get out to see Mumford and Sons one more time. And I was excited as all get out to get to spend a couple of uninterrupted, no distractions, hours with my best Asher buddy.  Being a full-time working mom, who also happens to be going back to school, these moments are far too few.  I am jealous of the time others get to spend with my boy, and although I go to class when he is normally sleeping, I still feel like I am missing out on so much of his life.  So, I quickly changed into sweats, changed his diaper and said, "Asher, do you want to go get some french fries and ice cream?"  For a split second, he debated staying home and watching McQueen (which daddy said he had already watched all day long) but then he grabbed his little Lightning McQueen car and started down the stairs saying "ice cream, ice cream, french fries."  Asher was still running a fever, and a trip to the Dr earlier in the day advised us that he had a virus that should start going away soon.  The sores in his mouth were dwindling, he was no longer drooling, and he was forming words instead of cries, a fever remained signaling a still contagious baby boy, but I took him out anyway.

We were the only people at Runza, and Asher picked a table right in the middle of the room.  He sat like a big boy with no booster, picked the cornbread off his corn dogs before eating, and blew hard on his too hot french fries.  He asked to get down 536 times, but stayed put when I asked him to wait.  He dropped his ice cream cone on the floor, and the nice man at the counter gave him a new one.  And then we went outside to play on the outdoor playground (this is the only fast food restaurant I know of that still has an outdoor playground).  He climbed up the ladder and down the slide at least 42 times, and when I said it was time to go, he said "one more slide".  And since it was so darn cute, I let him go 2 more times.  When he said again, "one more slide,"  I stuck to my guns and we walked to the car.  It was already bedtime, but I couldn't stand to put him in bed when I had these few hours available with him, so we made a nice pillow and blanket bed on the basement floor and watched The Hunger Games.  When they were setting up the camera equipment, stages, and screens for the reaping, Asher said "Marcus. Park. Boom Song." And he sang a piece of Lover's Eyes.  "Boom Song. Loud. Marcus. Park."  and he sang a little more.  It seems those 3 songs he heard Mumford and Sons play left an impression on this little boy.  We cuddled and chittered chattered until he asked for mama's bed and milk.  And because it was our special date night out, I let him go to my bed and cuddle with his pooh and watch Cars again while his eyes closed and he drifted off to sleep.

And I wished that every night could be exactly like this...


August 15, 2012

a letter for Finn (and Lizzie too)...

Sweet Baby Finn,

Do you know that I love you?  I do.  I love you so much my heart aches, and I haven't even held you yet.  I love you because you are a part of your mama; and Your mama, although not physically, is such a big part of me.  Do you know I cried the day you were born.  I cried and cried and cried.  I cried because I couldn't be there to hold you, and kiss you, and tell you that I love you.  I cried because I wasn't there to kiss your mama's head and tell her how proud of her I was.  I cried because I couldn't give your daddy a hug with tears in my eyes and tell him thank you for taking care of your mama, for giving you life.  I cried because I didn't get to see them wonder at the new life in you, I didn't get to see that first joy, that first love.  That love so great it could move mountains, love so true their hearts were in danger of bursting.  Love for you, love for each other, love for their life, and the new life in you.   It doesn't seem right to be so far away.  It doesn't seem like this should be our life at all.

Do you know just how very blessed you are?  You have parents who love you, who will do anything for you.  You have parents who are willing to give up of themselves, for whatever may be best for you.  You have parents who are fun, and kind, and honest.  You have parents who love; love each other, love people, love nature, beauty, and life.  You have grandparents who will love and support you, no matter who you will become.  You have aunts and uncles who are so proud of you already and can't wait to see you grow.  You have endless possibilities in front of you, and your family will help you accomplish your dreams.

Know, sweet Finn, no matter how far away I am, and no matter how little you remember me, that I love you.  Know that I pray for you every day.  Know that I wish we were closer, that I dream about who are and who you will be.  Know, sweet baby Finn, that I will always be here.  If you ever feel the need to get away, no matter how young or old you are, know that I am here.  No matter who you become, no matter what you choose, I will always love you.  Asher loves you too, you know, already in his barely 2 years.  As soon as he saw your picture he took it in his hands and kissed you, one, two, three, four, five times.  He coos wonders for "baby finny", and asks to see you again.  He can not wait to meet you.  I wish so badly that you and Asher could grow up together.  I wish I could watch you play and grow together.  I wish you 2 would have to opportunity to grow up like your mama and I did... together, with ins and outs and ups and downs, but always with love and acceptance, knowing the other would always be there.

I can not wait to hold you sweet Finn.  To whisper in your ear, to sing to you, and smell you, and wonder at all of you.  I can not wait to be your Auntie Melinda, and see how you grow.  I can not wait to see who you become.  I am proud of you already, and this I will always be.  Because you are Lizzie's biggest love, you will always hold a place in my heart.

Forever, for Always, with a prayer and a hug.

Auntie Melinda

sweet baby finn the day he was born 8/12/12, picture taken by aunt sarah

Lizzie, best friend, sister of my heart,

With every picture and every word about your new life with Finn, tears flood my eyes.  I can not believe I am not there, I can not believe I am missing all these monumentous new moments in your life.  And I know I don't have to explain it to you, I know you understand.  Because you have been there, and because you know just how much I love you, because you love me the same.

I am so proud of you dear Lizzie, of the woman you have become.  I never would have guessed the women we would grow into, and really who could... we are not the people we dreamed we would be, but instead we are so much more.  We may not live in Paris, or New York, and we may hold jobs of little importance, and neither of us are rich enough to hire the other to help us live... but we have great love.  I was so happy to stand next to you last year as you made vows to the one you love.  He is your perfect match in every way, and I am proud to call him yours (and mine too, because in some weird convoluted way he is my family now too).  Thank you Dan, for loving her, for caring for her.  Thank you for challenging her to be better, thank you for everything you are, and everything you two, together, will become.  Lizzie, you are stronger than you know.  You are kind and honest and loving.  You are beautiful, and giving, and so much fun.  You are bright and quick, and witty, and you have impeccable taste in friends.  Watching you grow up, into this woman you are today has been a privilege, an honor, and pure joy.

I am so glad you chose me to be your friend for life.  I am so glad, in the millions of times you had to opportunity to give up on me, you never did.  Thank you for loving me despite my faults, despite my choices, and in spite of all the ugly things in me.  Thank you for choosing joy, and encouraging me to do the same.  Thank you for holding my hand when things are tough, and for making me laugh when it is just what I need.  Thank you, Liz, for being my best friend.  For 21 years of friendship, and all our ups and downs, you will be there forever, one of the few constants in my life.  You mean so much to me, and I am so blessed to call you my friend.

I am sorry I moved away, and made our friendship harder.  I am sorry we can not be a part of each others daily lives.  It kills me to be so far away, and in moments like these, it kills me all the more.  I wish I could have been there when baby Finn entered the world.  I wish I could have held your hand when you were scared, and rejoiced with you at his birth.  I wish I could see you looking at the wonder of him, falling in love in a whole new way.  Please know I was praying you through.  Know how bad I wished I was there, know that I cried more than just a tear or two.  I know the scary wonder of bringing a new life in the world, and I hate not being there to experience this with you.

Even among all the fear and uncertainty, which I know there is plenty of, I know you will be such a good mama.  I know this, because I know you.  I have experienced your unconditional love first hand.  I have seen your love for life in so many things you do.  I know how much you love Dan, and how much he loves you.  I know that you will care for Finn and always do what is best for him, even if that means you will have to do without.  I know you will teach him, and grow with him, and that you will allow him to be who is. 

I can not wait to witness your life changed as you adjust your life for him.  It is the scariest most wonderful thing in the world, becoming a parent.  Some days you will be so overcome with love and appreciation you will not be able to help but cry.  And some days you will be so overwhelmed and unsure you will not be able to help but cry.  But now, dear Lizzie, that you are not in this alone.  Millions of woman have done this before you, and millions of woman will follow in your steps.  You are surrounded by friends and family that will love to step in when you simply can not do it for one more second today.  You have friends and family who will love to advise, guide, and encourage you, while letting you figure it out in the best way for you.  Don't take other's criticism and advice to seriously... for no one is you, and no one knows your family, your child, better than you do.  Don't be afraid to ask for help.  Don't be afraid to admit it is overwhelming- it is.  Don't be afraid to let yourself feel... feel everything.  The fear, the uncertainty, the love, and endless joy.  Feel it all.  It is what will make you a better mama, it will make you into who you were always meant to be.

Know, Lizzie, that I am just a phone or computer away.  Any day, any time, any hour, I am always here.  And when it becomes too hard, or you just need for me to be close... I can be there as fast as southwest can carry me there.

Enjoy these new scary moments, before you know it Finn will be almost 2.  He will be naughty, and silly, and not want to stop moving, so that you can cradle him your arms.  Hug him, kiss him, hold him, smell his head, and remember it all... but don't remember it so tightly that you forget to watch who is growing up to be, allow him space to learn and grow, allow him space to be.  

I am so proud of you, and will enjoy watching you both grow into each other, into who you were meant to be.  Whether I am close or far, I love you  forever and always, best good friend, sister of my heart, mama extraordinaire.

With unending prayer, abundant joy, and many many tears.


July 9, 2012

My Asher Max,

The third time you woke up last night, I finally went up to put you back in bed.  Daddy had already tried twice since I was working on homework; but on this rare occasion, you actually wanted mama not daddy.  There you were, standing at the baby gated door with your pooh and 3 pacis in your hands, alligator tears staining your face.  As soon as you saw me you turned and headed back for your bed, where you dove in head first.  The tears were starting to dissipate and I sat down on on the floor and put my head close to yours.  I ran my fingers through your hair and sang to you my favorite song to sing you in moments just like this: 

Quiet your heart
It’s just a dream
Go back to sleep

I’ll be right here

I’ll stay awake as long as you need me
To slay all the dragons
And keep out the monsters
I’m watching over you

My love is a light

Driving away all of your fear
So don’t be afraid
Remember I made a promise to keep you safe

You’ll have your own battles to fight

When you are older
You’ll find yourself frozen inside
But always remember

If you feel alone

Facing the giants
And you don’t know
What to do

My love is a light

Driving away all of your fear
So don’t be afraid
Remember I made a promise to keep you safe

Keep You Safe
JJ Heller

And as you looked at me with your big blue eyes, tears falling to your pillow; tears fell from my own eyes onto your freshly cleaned sheets.  The beauty of you, little one, is sometimes more than I can take.  My love for you, little buddy, is more than could ever seem imaginable.  And as I looked at you, so little in your toddler bed, wanting nothing but your mama's hand on your head, and your mama's voice in your ear; I  understood these moments are truly fleeting.  So I lay my head next to yours and I cried as I sang, and as I cried I whispered prayers into the heavens for you. 

As I prayed, I saw you Asher Max; I saw you growing.  I saw you learning how to ride a bike, and climbing trees.  I saw you playing drums in the garage as loud as you could.  I saw you in your clothes I didn't understand, and with that 1 friend I always worried about when you were together.  I saw you running high school track, and being turned down by your crush for the prom.  And I saw you, not crying for me anymore, not caring if I was there to touch your head or whisper in your ear.  I saw you growing up.  And I knew, that I would not always be able to keep you safe.  I knew that I would not always be able to slay the dragons, or help you face the giants.  I understood, that some day you would not want me to help you feel less alone, instead you would want to face your troubles on your own. 

And then I prayed even harder for you my Asher boy.  I prayed that you would grow strong, and sure.  I prayed that you would learn to love Christ, and put your life in His hands.  I prayed that He would keep you from harm, but not so much that you ceased to live.  I prayed that you would be kind, generous, and sweet.  I prayed that you would love people, and that people would respect you in return.  I prayed that you would be happy.  I prayed, that even as you grow, you would know you can turn to me.  I prayed that you would always know how much I love you, that I always want what is best for you, that I will always desire to keep you safe.

And I prayed for myself, sweet Asher, I prayed that God will give me strength to let you grow into who you are meant to be.  I prayed that my heart would not be broken when you no longer cried for me.  I prayed that I will help make you strong and sure, and that I can teach you about life and faith.  I prayed that your daddy and I would surround you with love, and let you know that no matter what, we will always love you.  I prayed that I would embrace every age and stage you are in, knowing that these moments will too, pass in the blink of an eye.

And I lay there, my head touching your head, my hand in your hair and my voice in your ear, with tears falling down my face, and I thanked God for you Asher Max.  You are my dream come true.  You made me the mama I always wanted to be, but never knew I could be.  You made my heart beat, you made me love, you made me into who God intended me to be.  And I drank you in sweet baby boy.  I smelled you, I filed that smell away for when you are grown and I am feeling blue.  I memorized the tear stains on your cheeks, so when you don't let me see you cry, I will know what you look like behind that closed door.  I traced your chubby fingers with my own, I kissed your head, and your nose and your perfect lips. 

And I knew that I would love this moment forever.  This nondescript moment of singing you to sleep would forever be engrained in my mind, because it was the moment when I truly realized you are not mine.  I realized that although I love you more than anyone else does on this earth, there is someone who loves you even more.  He created you.  He breathed you into being.  In doing so, He made my dreams come true.  And you, ultimately, belong to Him.  He has left you in my hands, in my arms for safe keeping.  He has left me to keep you safe for now.  But someday, it will not be me who can keep you safe anymore, it will be only Him.  I promise to keep you safe as long as I can, and then, my sweet baby boy, I promise to let you go.  I promise to let you grow, and learn, and be you, no matter how much it makes me hurt.  I promise to let go and let Him keep you safe, because that is all that I can do.

I love you for ever and for always Asher Max.  I love you even more than you can imagine, perhaps more than you will ever understand.  And as long as you are entrusted to me, I promise to keep you safe.

I will always be yours,

July 3, 2012

vacation gone bad... aka vacation part 5

monday morning we woke up early and did laundry and packed for our trip home.  with asher finally feeling better, we were anxious to get on our way and back to our own beds.  vacation is great, but the best part of any vacation is coming home.

it was a little cloudy, but not windy, not rainy, no abnormal weather of any kind.  by 11:30 am we had said our goodbyes and were in the car with all our stuff ready for our 3:30 flight out of town and back home.  given our disastrous experience at the car rental office on our arrival, i wanted plenty of time to return the car and get to the airport.  according to everything i had read sfo recommended arriving at the airport an hour early, i wanted to give us at least 2.  missing a flight is my worst nightmare.  as we pulled out shelby joked  about hoping we wouldn't have to drive back there tonight when our flight was cancelled, we laughed.

as we pulled into the parking lot of the car rental office i received a text message.  our flight had been delayed, we would no longer be taking off at 3:30pm, we would be taking of at 6:00pm.  i immediately knew this would not be good.  omaha is a tiny airport, i mean miniscule.  i could get through checking bags and security and to the gate in 15 minutes.  there are not many airports (or airlines) that fly into eppley airfield (yes airfield, we are not even an airport).  i can tell you off the top of my head the few cities we can fly direct to on southwest: minneapolis, chicago, denver, phoenix, las vegas. (there are a couple other direct stops on other airlines; but we always flew southwest, as most poor people do- cheap flights, no baggage fees)  we were due to arrive just before midnight.  we were certainly the last flight of the day.

we shrugged it off and assumed once we got to the ticket counter they would be able to get us there somehow.  we returned the car without incident and shuttled to the airport.  after going up and down and back and forth and all around to get to the baggae check we got another text message.  our flight was delayed another 30 minutes, we would not take off til 6:30pm.  it was 1:15pm, our flight was originally scheduled to leave at 3:30.  i tried to remain calm and think that there was no way we would be stuck here tonight.  but as we turned the corner to the ticket counter, my hope was diminished.  the line was hundreds of people deep.  it wove in and out and back and forth and far beyond those little nylon line guides.  we got in line and tried to keep asher occupied as we waited our turn to learn our fate.

they airline was pulling people out of line that had direct flights to check in quicker... this seemed backwards to me.  nearly 2 hours later we were finally to the front of the line.  the nice girl behind the counter tried to find us a way home... the last possible chance was a flight to denver that left in 35 minutes.  we would have to fly standby.  she assured us it was a good decision and that we would be priority to get on the plane.  she checked the number of people that had already checked in and said as of now there were still 10 empty seats.  she checked our bags and wished us luck again assuring us that she was pretty sure we would get on the flight.  we went through security, where my bottle of wine was confiscated (i swear we brought cases back with us from europe, i didn't even think about my 1 stinking unopened bottle).  the tsa lady made me feel like a bad parent, and i swore and almost cried..  then we waited.  and we watched as they gave every last open space to 1 family of 6 people (mom, dad, son, daughter-in-law, son, grandaughter).  i heard them talking to them, i knew they were traveling to denver and no further, i knew they made some big deal about meeting someone there, i knew there were at least two more flights from sfo to denver that night, and i watched as they just gave our last chance home to these 6 people.  i cried.  i made a sour face.  i swore.  and then i waited to talk to the idiot person who just gave my seat away.

i had 4 diapers left in my bag.  i had 1/2 a sippy of milk left (since i kept shoving it in his mouth to try to appease him while we waited).  i had a child who has been sick and away from home for a week and whom we had just made sit in his stroller in a line in the airport for 2 whole hours.  and i had NO WINE.  i stormed back to the southwest line where someone advised me to get in the "direct flight only line".  matthew went to baby wrangle, and my firey hot anger stayed to talk to whomever was going to make this right.  i was yelled it for being in the "direct flight only line" by the teller.  i snapped back.  she wasted 20 minutes of my time looking for a flight, after i told her we just missed our last chance to get out of here tonight.  when they booked us on the flight at 5:50am the following morning, i cried.  then i asked what i was supposed to do in the mean time... she shrugged her shoulders.  "i have no car, no car seat, no luggage, and 4 diapers in this bag because we were supposed to be in the air and on our way home now.  are you telling me that i have to spend the night here with a 21 month old baby?"  she left to get a supervisor.  he came back and tried to tell me it was my fault we "missed" our flight because we checked in only 30 minutes before the flight left.  i think i laughed in his face.  i stood in your line for 2 hours and then was bumped out of priority on that flight by some old man throwing a fit.  he did not give us a free drink for our next fight, he did not direct me to a hotel, he did not tell me how i could get to the bart station.  he made no apologies, he raised his voice with me and told me it was not their policy to help me when when the delays were due to air traffic control.  at this point desperate emotions took over any reasoning and all i could do was cry.  i couldn't even fight with this man, i could scream at him like i wanted, all i could do was cry...

so matthew and and asher and i headed to a quiet corner of the airport to try and decide our next move.  we were out of vacation money, we were exhausted, we had little food, no drinks, and we were stranded.  there, i was finally able to yell... at matthew.  the most undeserving target.  asher was on the verge of breakdown, and i was far beyond breakdown point.  we sucked it up, found our way to the bart station in the airport (literally there are no signs directing you there in the whole damn airport).  we payed $22 for an hour long ride to get as close as we could back to patrick and shelby's (the second to last stop).  where patrick would pick us up in his hooptie with no car seat and drive us back to his house.  it was after 5'oclock; the train was packed, asher was screaming, and we are all tired and hungry.  asher finally got a new diaper, ate some ramen noodles, and went to bed naked (since our pj's were already on their way to omaha).  a glass of wine never sounded so good, too bad mine was in a trash can somewhere at the airport.  i went to bed myself and braced myself for the 3am wake up call in the morning so we could get to the airport in time to make the first flight out in the morning.

we woke up crabby, tired, dirty, smelly, and so anxious to be home.  asher was beyond tired and i sleepily changed him into his second to last diaper and prayed he didn't poop.  he cried the entire time we were in the airport, and when we finally boarded the plane and strapped him in a seat (thank god this was not a full flight and we could set him in a seat) i almost cried from relief.

we were finally on a plane home.

one last recap to come... thanks to those who have been patient in this very slow retelling of our first family vacation.

let me state, had we known that there was no chance for us to get home this day, this would have been less of an issue... we would have kept our rental car an extra day, and had one more day of vacation.  however, returning the car and the car seat, packing and then checking our bags to a flight home, being told we should be able to get there, and then spending hours and hours at an airport to be told we would just have to sleep there that night... made this a terrible traveling experience.  they knew by 6 am (or ealrier) that every flight in and out of sfo would be delayed that day (low lying clouds or some crap like that).  i think airlines should try to think of proactive ways to let customers like us (flying to small airport with few connecting flights available, on a late in the day flight, little chance to actually get home, etc...) know far ahead of time that there is a high chance of this happening, and give us time to process and plan.  or let us know first thing in the morning, and see if they can get us on a earlier flight rather than a later one.  and when they can't be proactive in this planning, they need to be understanding and kind to the few patrons like us who end up totally screwed.  

post note:  upon our return, i filed a complaint with southwest.  i knew it may not have been their policy to help us with any air traffic controlled cancelled flights, but i thought we deserved better than what we were given. (by my count there were only several people that day that were actually stranded in an airport away from home all night, most people were able to be rerouted, or simply go home and fly out the next day.)  they quickly responded to me and apologized for the inconvenience.  i was assured that it is not their normal practice to pull direct flights out of line to help first.  i was also told that we should have been first priority on that flight to denver we were bumped from, since without that flight we would be stranded overnight (and with a small child).  they apologized for the unhelpful employees and our terrible traveling experience and sent us 2 $100 vouchers for future flights.  while it may have not helped us at the time, i am very thankful that were willing to make this right.  asher and i will (lord willing) be traveling to denver for a long weekend this fall to see my grandpa, my sweet cousins, and meet baby finn (my best firend lizzie's son who is due at the beginning of september).  thank you southwest for attempting to make this right.                   

June 21, 2012

guilt, regret, and hope as a mom...

we interrupt this vacation wrap to bring you paranoia, disturbed thinking, a bit of sadness, and eventual hope.

Mommy Guilt.  It plagues us all.  If you can't gain control over it, it has the power to destroy every ounce of joy you experience as a parent.  It comes in many forms, in different forms for each mom.  Some mothers are plagued by guilt over not working, not being able to buy their kids what they want.  Some mothers are plagued by guilt over working, fearing missing out on so much of their children's lives.  Some mothers feel guilty for the personal time they take for drinks with friends; some mothers feel guilty for neglecting their friends when they become a mom.  Some mothers wish they would feed their children healthier homemade meals; some mothers wish they could take their children out to eat more.  Some mothers are guilted by the discipline, or lack of, with their children.  I didn't read them a book today, guilt.  I let them eat a cookie instead of an apple for snack, guilt.  When I wasn't looking they bumped their head and got a bruise, guilt.  I missed their first step, guilt.  I couldn't buy them that toy they wanted at the store today, guilt.  Guilted by being there, Guilted by not.  The mom you see who seems to have it all put together, she makes you feel guilty.  As does the mom who feeds her kids only organic.  The mom who has daily activities planned for her children, and can still manage to keep the house clean, she for sure makes you feel guilty.  And that mom who has the smoking hot body and never gets out of breathe chasing her kids at the park or down the grocery store isle, she makes you feel guilty too.  Guilted by the opportunities you are giving them now, and those you are not.  Guilted by the fear that what you are doing now may be screwing them up for life.  Guilted by the fear that your love really isn't enough.

There are no chapters in child rearing books about the guilt... Nowhere between the pages of diet, exercise, sleep, and illness, does it tell you you these answers aren't complete, this way isn't the only way.  Nowhere does it say, from time to time you will be riddled by guilt, sometimes so extreme it can take your breathe away.  And moms themselves don't always speak of the guilt, as if in not mentioning it it means it doesn't exist, meaning you really are as strong and good as you imagine you are.

But it is there.  It is there in every mom.  You can see it in the eyes of the mom receiving glares from passer-bys about her son throwing a fit in the checkout line.  You can see it in the frown of the mom giving her child one last kiss to her precious daughter before leaving her at daycare in the morning.  You can see it in the frustration, the sadness, the fear, behind so many faces of moms passing by.  You can even see it hiding behind the shining eyes of joy, the contagious sound of laughter, and chubby dimpled knuckled hugs and sloppy kisses.

It is there, felt by every single mom.  For most it does not appear every moment.  It may not even rear itself every day.  But it is there, waiting to steal tiny moments of joy from you.  And in mommyhood it is those moments of joy that you crave.  Those moments of joy are what carry you on to through the monumental moments of hard, into the next moments of joy.

I have been riddled with feelings of mommy guilt more often recently than in other times in my 2 short years as a momma.  When he cries for his daddy in the morning I feel guilty that I am not the fun parent that Matthew is.  When I am too tired to cook dinner and we drive through McDonald's I feel guilty for giving him french fries for dinner again.  I feel guilty for making Matthew work so hard as a daddy so I can go to school.  I feel guilty for never having time to see, or even call my friends.  I feel guilty for not keeping a well kept house, and I feel guilty that I feel guilty.

For me the guilt rides mostly when I go to kiss my baby boy and he says "bye mama" even if I am not leaving at all, I feel guilty that I leave him so often.  I can tell myself that this is temporary; I can tell myself that all this work and school is a means to an end; I can tell myself that in the near future this will be in the past, and it the future will be better... but I can't always believe it.  Because those great big blue eyes and chubby little hands know how to say goodbye far too easily, his arms can wave me off a little to swiftly, and I feel guilty for the all time with him I am missing.  I feel guilty when I think about the sibling that he doesn't have.  I feel guilty for my wonky ovaries.  I feel guilty that we have no way to provide for another baby, and I feel guilty when I think that he may have to face this world, and these crazy parents he has, without a little buddy by his side.  I feel guilty to tears with both of these things... and occasionally alone in the car, or as I fall asleep I let the tears fall wildly.       

These tiny things moms fret over day after day and moment after moment have the power to pepper your life with guilt and dissatisfaction in what is the happiest and best part of your life.  The mommy guilt can be so strong at times that it actually hinders your role as momma.  And we all know the guilty feelings are totally unwarranted.  We all know that if you are the kind of mom who is worried about being a bad mom, it probably shows that you are already a good one.. (bad moms don't think they're bad moms, they think they're awesome-duh.)

But we don't have to be slaves to the guilt.  We have the power to not let the mommy guilt affect our lives.  Here are some things I have found in my short time as a momma:

1.  Relax.  Take a deep breathe.  when the guilt starts creeping up... knock it down.  Know that mommy guilt is just another form of worry and fear.  We don't allow worry and fear to consume us, so don't let this either.  Most things that ensue guilt are little nondescript things of life that really don't matter.  Don't sweat the small stuff.  My husband tells me 10 times a day, "Melinda, Relax."  I tend to be tightly wound, I need to unwind a bit.  I'm saying, I need to take my own advice.

2.  Don't allow other's opinions under your skinFor some reason people think it is okay to share their opinions (read- judgements) on every aspect of your being a wife and a mom.  I don't know why people think there are no boundaries to what you should or should not say to a mom about how she raises her children.  Take it with a grain of salt.  They may have an idea that sounds like a great idea, but when you try to implement it in your own family, it just doesn't work... and you know what?  That's okay.  Your family is not their family.  They may be quick to judge something you do with your own family; either in words or through dirty passing glances at the park.  Don't pay attention to it.  Nobody knows your family better than you.  You know what is best for your family.  Don't take others opinions too seriously., and never make it think less of yourself.

3.  Don't be quick to judge other mothers.  I have said this before, only about a million times.  As moms we should be each others biggest fans, each others biggest support system.  Instead, we are often each others biggest critics.  Don't assume that the way you do things is the only way to do it.  And no, don't assume that it is even the best way.  While it may work perfectly for your family, it might be disastrous in others.  Just like you know what is best for your family, other moms know what is best for theirs.  When you see a mom at the store with out of control kids, try to put yourself in her shoes.  You don't know what kind of day she is having; you don't know if this is even normal behavior for her and her children.  Don't glare, don't stare, whisper, or grimace.  Smile at her.  Give her some encouragement.  And if she looks extra frazzled ask her if you can help her through the checkout line.  We have all been there, haven't we?  Keep the same policy with your friends.  Just because you are friends, does not mean you have the right to tell her that she is doing something wrong.  Instead, encourage her, love her, and pray for her.     

4.  Know, you are not in control.  I tend to want to control everything.  And a funny thing happens when I try to do that, I lose complete control.  I can not control everything.  (Nobody tell my husband this, it might ruin my credibility.) In fact, to be honest, I can control a very small percentage of things. You can not control the chocolate ice cream that is dripping down your sweet daughters elbow an onto her perfectly pressed white dress.  You can not (always) control that ugly striped shirt and plaid pants that your son picked out to wear the 4th day in a row.  You can not control other people's schedules, the weather, or the God given characteristics in each person in your family (even the ones that drive you crazy and make you wish you could control them to change-you can't-give it up).  There are things you can control, and things you can not.  There are things you can try to control, and things you should not.  Learn to recognize these. 

5.  Understand who is in control.  There is someone who is in control who knows every hair on your head, and on your children's.  He catches your tears in a jar, and He knows not just the past and present, but the future.  He wants the best for you, and he puts people and situations in your life for a reason, whether you understand it or not.  He knew that you would be working a job you hate and not be able to quit when he chose to finally grace you with that miracle baby boy.  He knew that you would feel challenged and inadequate and confused more often than you find comfortable.  He also knew how much your life would be blessed, He knew how that baby boy would change you.  He know that you needed exactly that, at that exact moment.  And He knows what you will need and when in the future also.  Pray constantly, rely on Him, and let go of control. 

6. Know, there is someone there when you are not.  We can all remember times when our own parents let us down.  We all understand that parents are human and can make mistake themselves.  You and I are no exception to this.  In our quest to be the best ever, we will fail.  And when you do... There is someone there to pick up the pieces.  There is only one person capable of healing all wounds, and keeping all promises.  And in those moments when I fail, I will be glad that Asher knows he can always depend on God.  Let your children know that you may screw up... tell them when you do.  And tell them there is someone there who never will let them down.  Allow God to heal the places you left bruised, allow Him to guide in the areas you can not.  Pray for your children, direct them to Him, and know that when you can not be there... He can be.

7.  Know that time is precious.  One day you will wake up and your baby will be an adult on their own, and you will miss these crazy wonderful days of mommyhood with little ones.  Don't waste the few moments you have each day feeling guilty.  Don't waste the few moments you have wondering how, what you are doing now, will effect the adults your children become.  Because, this day only comes once.  Their lives are too precious and too fleeting to miss even a moment... so stop worrying, stop fear, stop mommy guilt.  Love your children, hug them, kiss them, get on the floor and play with them.  Don't waste your moments.  Love with all you have, each and every moment.

Being a mom is the hardest and most wonderful thing you will ever do in your life.  Enjoy the life you were given.  Treasure your life.  Live in Love.  Look for Beauty.

June 20, 2012

wine-o whine-o... aka, vacation part 4

continuation of our vacation.  you can also read parts one, two, and three...

since patrick's girlfriend shelby had friday off work, we decided we should try to head to sonoma for a short while.  drinking wine is definitely more fun with friends, and matthew and patrick or more beer and brat guys than wine and chocolate guys.  after asher's monumental breakdown in the toy store that ruined our entire days plans the day before, we decided to start this day after his nap.  we would be crunched for time pretty good by the time we got there, but a couple tastings and a walk around town would be good enough for me.

the drive was beautiful.  there is nothing like the idyllic scenery of a vineyard to me.  the contrast between the lush green grape vines, and the yellowed dry prairie grasses was so intriguing to the eye.  i was awed by the climate and vegetation the whole vacation.

sonoma was adorable, we all decided we would like to live there.  i didn't snap any pictures of town square... really my pictures were pretty lacking on this trip keeping track of a baby is hard enough without a camera stuck to your hand and eye.

we got there just in time for a free tour at the closest vineyard to town.  we followed a group of people at 3:15 from the big fireplace in the tasting room just as we were instructed.  at the end of the tour we realized this was a private tour, and we we should not have been following them at all... oopsie.  this is matthew's worst nightmare, the rule follower that he his.

asher loved playing in the fountain.  it was hot, so we were happy to oblige.

we meandered around town a little and tasted a few wines.  then matthew and patrick offered to baby wrangle in the central park so shelby and i could taste some more.  it didn't take long for asher to verge on breakdown.  so we got back into the car, bought him some chicken nuggets, and headed back home.

saturday we did nothing at all.  i mean nothing.  asher woke up extra early, so when he went down for a nap before lunch, i did too.  we ate in-n-out, and sat on our butts all day.  matthew and patrick ran to the store for video games and beer, and i debated not getting dressed.

i eventually did, and matthew and i headed out to dinner while patrick and shelby watched the baby boy for us.  we had talked about a big fancy dress up and go into town date night while we were there, but traded it for a casual drive to the closest mexican restaurant date night.  we talked over enchiladas and strong margaritas and enjoyed our time together as 2.  we are so busy, this luxury rarely comes, and we were so glad uncle patrick and aunt shelby offered to sit.

sunday should have been the last full day we had, and there was more we wanted to do in san francisco.  we headed out early with a stop at ikea, where i bought some cute pink kitchen towels.

we parked and barte-ed our way into the city.  yes, i just made bart (bay area rapid transit) into a verb, what of it?  i like public transportation.  i wish we lived in a city were i could use public transportation and not have to depend on a car.  matthew is glad he lives in a place where he can drive and park 2 seconds away from wherever he wants to go.  we are so compatible ;)

we walked in the shade of cloud grazing banks, and perused the shops at the ferry building.  and then we cruised down the side of the bay, on our feet.  asher wanted to run. and jump. and do anything but sit in a stroller.  so we walked.  we made it to pier 39 and thought we were close to the walk to coit tower.  so shelby got walking directions on her phone, and we started footing it...

we walked up a beautiful stairscase through prestine gardens and houses where i wondered how in the world these people drove to get milk when the fridge was empty.  we marched up 4,289 steps.  i don't really know how many steps it was... but it felt like a million.  i almost died.  matthew seemed unscathed.

the views from the tower were beautiful. you can see everything in all of san francisco.  lombard street, the cable cars, the bridges, the parks, the tall buildings, the quaint houses, the bay, the wharf, the church steeples, and a statue of christopher columbus.  when it was time to leave the tower, we took the bus down the hill. (note to self: next time take the bus up the hill, and the steps down).

we headed to fisherman's wharf, where i think i could have really stayed all day.  it was packed with tourists on this sunny and cool sunday.  we walked in and out of shops and admired the boats and water.  we walked and walked, all the way to ghiradelli square.  on the way i bought a handmade christmas ornament from a vendor on the street.  this nice old man said he and his wife make each ornament themselves.  he thanked me for finding something made locally.

then we headed back to fisherman's wharf for some seafood.  fresh seafood eating was on my list of things to do, and we found a restuarant on the wharf serving fresh half crab and clam chowder for their early bird dinner special.  the view from the restaurant over the boats and bay was just as you would imagine... the interior a little kitchy.  my crab and chowder was delicious.  we were all a little tired, and asher was very tired... so we got on a bus back to the bart and under the bay back to our car.

what a lovely way to spend our last day of vacation in the city... or so we thought.

more later...