Truck-spotting

We took a walk today because we both needed it.

We went truck-spotting around our neighborhood. He held my hand the whole way.

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We walked slowly and chose our path as we went.  I breathed in the crisp autumn air and let my worries float away on the wind.  I felt the warmth of the sun on my face and felt the sturdy trust of his hand in mine.

As we prepare for battle it is important to focus on the peaceful place of stillness we hold inside, the place of love that will bring us home.

This past season has been one of testing- testing my faith, testing my patience, testing my trust.  With only a few days..weeks..to go before we welcome baby boy #2 into this world, I cherished this quiet walk with my firstborn.  I hung on his every word as he told me how rain drops came to be on the fallen leaves along the sidewalk, how good the the breeze felt, when he explained how the bulldozer and backhoe worked, how the bushes tickled his hand as he walked past.  I tucked away the memories of him tasting the rain water, jumping with his shadow, and the way he jumped and the big grin that appeared on his face when the “big semi truck” honked at him after he waved at it.

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On the way home he turned to me and silently asked me to carry him by raising his arms up to me.  And I did, even though it was hard, even though I’m very pregnant and it got hot and the sciatic pain my right leg and hip began to act up.  I carried him all the way home with his head resting on my shoulder and his eyes half closed as if he knew that this was just what I needed- to hold him and breathe him in and feel him relax against me as if I was his only tether to this world.

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Operation Diaper Free

Day 1
10:30 a.m.
We are on our fourth pair of underwear. Underwear with Minions on them. Toddler underwear.
wpid-20151102_082915-1.jpgWe have had three accidents. Two, thankfully, occurred on the hardwood floor. We have yet to pee in our potty today.

We are potty training, if it isn’t obvious. 20 months. Some people might say that it’s too early but when your son begins to mimic you in the bathroom, show interest in sitting on his potty, tell you when he has pooped and peed and then voluntarily head into his room to get his diaper changed, as far as I’m concerned he’s ready. He first started this behavior at about 18 months and I said then that at 20 months we would probably start some potty training.

Well here we are and we have.

I prepared myself for today. I stocked up on juice boxes and laundry detergent. I bought two big packs of toddler underwear with Minions and Footballs on them. I prepared a small bin of “potty toys” that are only available while we sit on the potty. This last trick succeeded in ridding Casey of his aversion to sitting on his potty for longer then two seconds. By the end of today he happily sat on his potty for a good ten minutes reading his Minion coloring book and playing with the plastic hero ‘guys’ that I bought in the dollar bin at Target. A small victory but a victory nonetheless.

Still, I found myself wearing down, arguing with myself as I watched the clock, stared at Casey sitting on the potty: “What are you doing? What’s so great about potty training him early? How will we ever leave the house without him wearing a diaper?” I have to remind myself that he is the one showing us he is ready, remind myself to be patient.

It’s only been three hours.

Diapers are still mandatory for naptime and bedtime. I don’t expect to jump that hurdle anytime soon.

And after today’s nap there was that moment. That moment, standing outside in our driveway with your arms wrapped around my neck, your head resting on my shoulder. That moment that went on and on as neither of us were inclined to move. We stood, gently rocking, enjoying the unexpected warmth of the sunshine. I couldn’t tell if you had fallen back asleep. I stroked the soft skin of your bare back in small circles with my finger tips and felt your weight as I held you to me. You are so so long these days; getting so heavy. When do you find the time to do all that growing??

I closed my eyes and felt the warm sun on my back, listened to the leaves rustling along the driveway and the bluejay calling out from the Oak above us. We stood there, wrapped around each other, for a long time.

That moment was all I needed to remind myself that we are in no hurry. We have no time table, no pressure to move except at our own pace.

Day 1 is over and I will call our small victory a great success.
Tomorrow, Operation Diaper Free continues.

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        By the end of the day we both needed a break, so we took a trip to the park.

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“Childhood is the world of miracle and wonder; as if creation rose, bathed in the light, out of the darkness, utterly new and fresh and astonishing.” ―Eugene Ionesco

Like a flower

“We must take care to open and bloom naturally and leisurely and keep the center.”

In the smile of a stranger, I found home.

I was pushing Casey in the stroller, walking along the river. The sun was high and hot in a blue sky, the birds were singing, turtles warmed themselves along fallen logs.  As the weather softens into summer these beautiful days call for long, leisurely walks along the water. This particular day, we were enjoying identifying the birds and feeling the sun warm our shoulders and our toes. The paved walkway was busy: men in business suits, jackets slung over their arms, groups of women walking together on their lunch break; a man jogged by listening to rap music, and a couple holding hands moved to the side as we passed, the woman standing slightly behind the man, holding onto his hand, lightly touching his shoulder with her fingertips.

In the warm weather, everyone seems friendlier.  People wave to Casey as we pass, joggers give a quick smile or a nod, people laugh at Lucy, our tiny dog, walking along side of us, her tongue lolling out of her mouth as she grins in the heat.   A woman, with a blonde ponytail, walked by in her yoga capris, earbuds connected to her iPhone.  She smiled at us, glancing first at Casey and then meeting my eyes as she said, “Hello!”  Just a simple, genuine hello but in that moment, I felt connected.  I felt like I was part of a larger community of people who love this city, who take advantage of it; people who have made their lives here and call it home, who are happy here.   I felt at home.

It’s ironic to me that this place, which I have run away from again and again, is now the one place I want to be the most.  It has taken a while to get to this point.  When I first moved here, as an insecure yet optimistic 14 year old, I was convinced that one day I would leave for the Golden hills of California and never return.  But three years after I did just that, I found myself once again back in the Midwest, confused and hurting, unsure of what I was supposed to be doing or who I was supposed to be.  I spent a few years biding my time until I once again found a reason to move away, this time to Seattle.

I loved Seattle, loved experiencing it with my, now, husband. I relished the days and nights we spent exploring the city, finding jobs to support ourselves, setting our own schedule, our own rules.  And yet there was always something missing, something that was harder for us to find in a big city- a sense of community.  We were far away from family and it was an expensive plane ride to go home.  When I became pregnant, we found ourselves longing for change once again and wondering what we were going to do when the baby came.   As often happens when you simply let things unfold naturally without forcing them, the universe and the generosity of the people who love us combined to give us the opportunity we had only dreamed about and whispered of in quiet moments.  And so we came home.

I don’t regret that decision for a minute.  We’ve been truly fortunate to have such wonderful, supportive families and friends who opened their arms to us upon our return.  The kindness we have experienced is sometimes overwhelming.

Periodically, I catch a glimpse into the lives of friends who are still single, living a life I once dreamed of, in cities around the world.  I find myself envious of their autonomy, their nights of limitless freedom.  But then I remember that perhaps that isn’t their whole story.  Many, many of these friends are happy and at peace with their lives, but I imagine that in their quiet moments they too have feelings of wanting something different, whether it’s a family or a quieter life, or simply a different apartment.  Most people have longings for something…else, hence the saying “the grass is always greener.”  The hardest thing is to find your center so that you are at home wherever you are.  It’s hard to see the inner turmoil of those who have not found this, but it is easy to see those who have.  They shine as if illuminated from the inside.  It is difficult to hang onto the feeling 24/7 but, increasingly, I too feel this inner illumination.

For a long time I thought that I could force this place to be home.  If our art was hung properly, our closets organized…it turns out it was something inside of me that had to be given time to flower, to find the right fit.  That’s the way of life isn’t it? It happens without your consent.  You can’t force a place to be home anymore then you can force a person to like you or force yourself to be someone you’re not.  But when you finally let go and get out of your own way, life just sort of opens up; like a flower.  It reveals itself in its own time and with proper attention and nourishment, it presents you with a thing of beauty.

Feeling this way, being centered and sure, feeling a part of a larger community, also brings with it openness to my creative energies and I’ve been rewarded with a wealth of inspiration lately.  Maybe its the extra dose of Vitamin D I’ve been getting or the fact that with Casey’s Grammy in town this past week I had some extra time to indulge in my artistry.  Whatever it is, it feels good. It feels…like I am home.

I made this mobile for Casey.  I call it ” A bit about the birds and bees.”  I love how it turned out.  I want to make another one for our bedroom, it’s so pretty!

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We also planted a small herb garden in a container on our back deck:

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Here are some other recent pics:

Casey making sure I'm seeing the Geese along the river.

Casey making sure I’m seeing the Geese along the river. (That’s strawberry on his lip.)

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Making silly faces on our walk.

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Enjoying the sunshine with Casey’s Grammy- Casey’s escaping!

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Finally got him to stay still for a decent group selfie.

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Casey loves going down the slide. He’s such a little dare devil! Here I am going down with him but he gets a thrill sliding down by himself and into my waiting arms.