Blueberry picking

I carried one boy on my back as I tried to convince the other one to put as many blueberries in our bucket as he was putting into his mouth.  The sun shone bright overhead and warmed our shoulders as we bent towards the bushes.  Cameron fussed from behind me, pulling small twigs and leaves from the bushes when he was close enough.  I wrestled them from his hands, blindly, relying on my three year old to make sure nothing had gotten into his mouth.  When he asked if he could give his brother a blueberry, I said  “Sure, as long as you bite it in half first.”  I watched him choose just the right berry and then pop it into his own mouth.  I bit a berry in half myself and peeled as much of the skin off with my teeth as I could.  “Hey, look at this little tiny one I found! Aww, it’s so cute.”  I reached back and put the peeled berry in Cameron’s open mouth as Casey gently put the tiny berry in our bucket.

We had started out picking Currants, finding vines dripping with the delicate, translucent balls.  Even though they are incredibly tart, Casey kept putting the few he picked into his mouth. With Cameron fussing from the stroller (which we ditched soon after) and lacking the concentration needed to collect the small berries, not to mention the sour reward for our efforts, we quickly returned to the farm store to exchange our small bags for a bucket and were pointed in the direction of the blueberry patch.

This was my first time picking blueberries.  I think I am in love. The color palette alone was enough to make me drool- the frosted blue and lavender berries, the brilliant green leaves, standing in sark contrast to the bright yellow hay piled around their bases.  It made me want to come home and paint our house; to rip up the bushes in our backyard and replace them with blueberry bushes. I had daydreams of a blueberry and lavender farm and I imagined the beauty and abundance of our crops for years to come.

The afternoon felt lazy.  We gorged on blueberry banana muffins while blueberry currant jam cooled in jars on the counter.  There’s still a pan of blueberries in the refrigerator waiting to be mixed into pancake batter, added to tomorrow mornings cereal, and eaten by the handful.  Still, we can’t wait to go pick more.

 

 

 

 

The Center Must Hold

I realized recently that I am the center of this family.  The point around which each person orbits; the axis around which this family unit revolves.  To my boys I am like the sun that lights their way during the day and the north star that leads them through dream land at night.  I am their home base- the place they run to when they are hurt, tired, scared, sad, excited, curious, bored.  I am the kisser of boo-boo’s, the righter of wrongs, their teacher, play pal and confidant all rolled into one incredibly tired and sometimes completely overwhelmed package.

When I wake irritable and cross with the world, the boys around me echo my sentiments (except sweet Cameron who is still young enough to wake each morning with a smile, happy simply to be awake again, glad just to see me and excited to begin exploring the world). The rest of them- their cranky footsteps, pouting faces and silent stares remind me that in order to teach kindness, I must be kind.  If I want a calm and happy home, then I must lead them there by managing my own anger, acting in ways that convey empathy, understanding and interest and displaying a loving and accepting self even, no especially, in those times when I would rather scream and shout and slam a door.

I am the center and the center must hold.

My husband is like a small island in the middle of this great big, often torrential sea, providing me with a place to land when I am in need of rest and a reminder of what is true.  Sometimes I lose sight of the island and become weary that we will not make landfall this day, afraid that I will be left to drift off alone in this vast expanse.  But then the tide recedes and there he is.  He is a great source of truth for me, reminding me of what is real, gently helping me to steer when I feel off course, always seeming to know what to say to reel me back to myself.  He sees me in a way that no one else does and he chooses to continue loving and supporting me day after day. There are few words in the english language which express the gratitude and comfort that I get from this.

My boys are the waves of our great ocean- coming at me full steam most days, forcing me to strengthen my strokes and take deep breaths before diving in.  But they are also the warm sand on which I rest, the sunshine that brightens my days and the heart-center of our foursome.  They give me strength even as they wear me out and fill me with joy and light even on the hard days, even when I wake irritable and cross and yell because wining doesn’t make pancakes cook faster and because one drop of chocolate milk spilled on our shirt dictates a huge laundry emergency despite the shoulders that are stiff with wiped off snot.  :::sigh:::

Choose what is most important in every moment
Listening to the voices in your head
And learn to hear your truth
Learn what feels good and what is right for you
Find ways to love those parts of yourself that have been undervalued

I see the echos of myself in my boys, in my husband and sometimes I don’t like what I see.  As the boys get older, especially Casey, it becomes increasingly evident and important to model good behavior, appropriate ways to deal with big feelings, right actions and deep empathy.  I don’t always manage to live up to my own ideal but I am learning.

I’m learning that it’s ok. It’s ok to not feel the way I think I should feel. It’s ok to feel the way I do. It’s ok to get mad, to be annoyed, to let them cry a bit, to not give in, to give in, to take alone time, to step away, to want to always come back, to want to hold on a little longer, and to grieve for the loss of a moment that just passed. It’s ok to want to just go inside, to just want to curl up and want quiet for a few moments. It’s ok to some days prefer one boy more then the other, to prefer on game over another, to get tired of playing with toys, to not get to the to-do lists. It’s ok to cry and it’s ok to laugh and to feel everything in between, sometimes at the same time and it’s ok to not know what to do with that. It’s ok to realize that I am not perfect, that I want to be perfect, that I can’t live up to this, that neither are they perfect. It’s ok to apologize sometimes and it’s also ok not to.  

I am the center and the center must hold.

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Our day in parts

Part 1: Science Experiment – Shaving Cream Rain Clouds

The original experiment, to drop colored water on top of shaving cream and watch it “rain” down into the water below, kept Casey interested for a surprisingly long time before we needed another clear vessel to just mix the colors in.20170329_102131

And a bowl to pour the water in.

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But of course in the end it all came down to being allowed to just play in the shaving cream!

 

Part 2: The Park

The walk over, pure attitude.

New Tricks!

 

Part 3: Home down time : Down home time

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Part 4: Disc-Golf

Late naps and decent weather = Get outside and wear them out!

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The Dance

When you dance, your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor.
It’s to enjoy each step along the way.

I’m still getting used to “mother of two.”
Still learning the dance
and tripping over my feet.
Some days we waltz
we gaily trip through
Most days are improv jazz
riotous rhythms
and a staccato beat,
beat ing
keeping time
to an as yet
unknown song.

Equally surprised
by the ability to love
and the quickness to anger.
The music pulls me back.
The laughter, the tears
the screaming and shushing-
all part of the symphony
making up the soundtrack
of our days.

How astonishing, some days,
to look down and recognize
this second life
that has been added
to our company-
To look up and see
the little boy sharing
the spotlight-
To find a conductors wand
clenched within white knuckles,
a blindfold hiding bloodshot eyes.

Thank goodness for the friends who dance along beside me.
Thank goodness for the women who have already danced,
who remind me to forget about the steps and just enjoy the music.
Thank goodness for the tiny hands who hold onto mine
and the tiny feet that step onto my own
trusting me to hold them as we begin to move.

Thank goodness for the wind that carries us
and the earth that holds us up,
for the heaven above that promises us.

– for baby giggles and sweet smiles,
unbridled laughter and silly made-up songs,
late night talks and the ability to forgive,
for a marriage that continues to grow roots
and take shape, solidifying a foundation,
creating the stage upon which we dance.

Two boys now.

I read the other day that you can’t for inspiration to hit to write- just write.  How true this rang for me right now.  If I waited for inspiration to hit, I might never blog again and even if it did hit, I would have to wait to find the time to sit down while inspiration was still tangible and I can tell you that it is unlikely the two will line up any time soon.

It has been a HUGE transition bringing Cameron home and adjusting to having another child and a newborn at that!

I had forgotten.

I had forgotten the constant nursing, the milk stained shirts, the increase of laundry, dressing someone who can’t help, changing tiny diapers, having no schedule, wondering what the night will hold, the restlessness and apprehension, the exhaustion and the sleepless nights.

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I had forgotten what it was to have an infant. Add in a toddler who needs me too.  It was rough those first few days home from the hospital.  Rough for Casey to have to adjust to sharing my time and my body with another being.  Rough for me to see how confused he was at times; to hear him tell me “I need you too” brought tears to my eyes and an ache in my heart that I hadn’t expected.  I found myself mourning our one on one relationship even as I thrilled to see him love on his little brother.

 

I had forgotten what it was to learn to love.

That feeling of holding your newborn for the 20161025_155205.jpgfirst time when you realize that no matter how much you have grown to love the life growing inside of you, you are now staring at a tiny human being who is a complete stranger to you.  The way your heart seems to grow to encompass them within the first few days and weeks as you get to know their cries, their smell, as you hold their eye contact for the first time, as they rest their tiny heads on your chest, comforted by your scent and the beating of your heart.  I had forgotten.

There was so much that I had forgotten but the memories come back in odd moments. Memories of Casey as a newborn. Memories of the endless time I had with him. The snuggles, the funny faces, chest time, cheering him on during tummy time, holding him close to me and simply smelling the top of his head.  Now I’m relearning, reliving, relinquishing my expectations of what this life would and should be like and simply breathing in what it is.  One day at a time.

Casey is still adjusting to being a big brother just as I am still adjusting to being a mother of two but we are doing ok.  He is so sweet with his brother.  He wants to simply watch him sleep, watch my change his diaper, he reaches out and rubs his hand gently over the top of Cameron’s head and gives him the sweetest kisses.  He always wants to “hold the baby”.

I’m still having a hard time balancing the needs of both boys and finding time to make sure that I am healthy and sane.  It has helped to have family around to cook and clean and generally fill in the gaps of what needs to get done on a daily basis.  Even as I find my patience wearing thin some days, I know that I will look back on this time someday and wish I had slowed down and taken it all in just a little bit more, held on a little bit tighter, ignored the mess and the mayhem and just dug a little deeper inside myself to find the patience and wherewithal to sit a little longer and breath both boys in a tiny bit more.

So that is my mission.  To let time slow down a little, take it easy and breath deeper, allow more laughter and less scolding, give up my grip a bit and let everything just play out instead of trying to control everything all the time.  I have two boys now- two boys who need me healthy and patient and kind, generous with my time and my praise, with my hugs and laughter and love.  Two boys now who need me just as much as I need them.

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We took a vacation!

It was too hot for poetry.

The midday sun in Texas is scorching.  It’s as if a thousand angry hands are pushing you down, reflecting off the burning asphalt and returning to pull you towards the earth.  Your whole body feels heavy.  The short walk from our car into a grocery store one afternoon leaves me feeling used up, depleted.  Any thoughts I ever harbored about the possibility of living in Texas fly away as I remember the cool midwestern breeze that blows in the afternoons.  I could never live in a place where I couldn’t take my children outside in the afternoon to let them run off all that excess energy they harbor.

In the late afternoons though, the hot sun touches my bronzed shoulders as we laze in the pool, our bodies distorted by the ripples on the surface of the water.  I relax into the two pool noodles supporting my back, my legs held up by the noodle under my thighs and turn my face to the light.  This is heaven.

In the two weeks we were in Texas, Casey became an independent, confident little fish in the water.  Using a round yellow float with ducks on it, his “floaty thing”, he jumps from the top step of the pool stairway and kicks his way over to whoever is waiting.  Such a huge change from the first day we got here when he had to be held the whole time we were in the water.  It didn’t take long- testing the water (literally) each day as he tried something new, slowly letting go of our hands, determining that he could hold himself up and return to ‘home base’, aka the steps, when he needed to.  Soon he was on his own, requesting his squirt guns and letting us know when they were “out of juice” so the epic squirt gun battles could come to a halt while we reloaded.

Taking vacations with a two year old, the very meaning of the word “vacation” changes. No longer are the afternoons spent laying around relaxing, reading a book, taking naps and enjoying time doing nothing (though we certainly fit that in).  There is another person now, someone who must be entertained and taken care of.  He does not understand yet that a vacation should be that different from daily life.  There is the difficulty of adapting to a different time zone, getting used to new rhythms and finding that balance that allows you to relax and enjoy a vacation while simultaneously continuing to be a full time parent. But it also means watching your child explore and thrive in a new environment.  Seeing the look on their faces when they see something new for the first time and discover that the world is so much bigger then what they previously imagined.

Our two weeks in Texas was the longest vacation we have been able to take as a family since Casey was born and it was fantastic.  It was a much needed break from our daily routine and a wonderful way to spend some time as a family of three before we welcome our second boy into this world and discover life anew as a family of four.

Looking Out & Looking In

My eyes open too early on this clear inviting morning.
The day stretches out in front of me, long with possibility.

When he stirs I can hear it, so attuned to his atomic movement have I become.
He’s a creature of habit, like his dad. Like me. But the summer sun brings freedom and a yearning to break the mold; a search for whimsy and adventure.

He wakes in my arms every morning and when we walk into the living room, we throw the curtains open wide, one:

“Good morning outside!”
by one:
“I love you outside!”

This has become a daily tradition, one which makes the day, and my heart, burst open.

We have always liked to rest across the back of our big blue sofa and watch the world out of our wide, front window. We watch the cars go by and keep an eye out for trucks and buses so that we can race out the front door and chase them down the street. We watch the rain fall and the snow flakes as they float by. We watch the birds and the tiny chipmunks and we bang on the glass to scare the squirrels away from our bird feeders. In the spring and summer, we look each morning to see what has bloomed, to check the process of our small front garden as it grows.

When I am alone, I stare out this window, always the same view, always different. I daydream and write and plan and list and let my mind and my heart wander, allow my soul to escape for a bit.

Sometimes neighbors pass by and we wave, caught amidst our reverie.

It has become our own private aperture to the world. These days, we watch and wait and prepare for our future expansion, loitering among the cushions, hiding behind the pillows, snuggling under blankets. The view outside may remain the same but inside our own private sanctuary continues to grow and change and gain. We may be looking out our window but more often then not, as we gaze at this stationary and changing world, we find ourselves looking in.