By the numbers

Once a month kind of borders on pathetic.  I am not writing, I’m barely taking pictures, and the days flash by in a crazy haze.  Ten days in Arizona.  Zoo Camp. Swimming.

I am writing for Mamalode every other Friday.  In my first piece in June, Ripped, I shared a little bit about what it was like to have Lala and Baby here for one short week.  Hard. It was hard.  And then I wrote A World Apart about how visiting Tucson reminds me that I miss my mom and dad so much, living way up here in the frozen tundra as we do.

Nate turned five last weekend.  Nate, whose birth and first four years I have documented with such honest care, his fifth birthday passed without a sentence.  

The new house is … driving Matt insane.  They pulled the roof off of it and then ripped out the first floor ceiling/second story floor because it was bowed. The house sat open, a big box with no lid.  It promptly rained and rained and rained.  Spokane in June is a funny winter-summer mix.  We’re lucky it didn’t snow honestly.  We lost all the original 100-year-old hardwoods where Dick sat and read letters from Clarabelle.  Matt tore them up with a crowbar last week and threw it all in the dump pile.  It hurt, but it’s only wood.

I don’t feel like I’ve done enough to respond to all the sweet emails asking how we’re doing, if I’m alright, what’s going on with the house.  It’s just so damn kind of you to care – I hardly believe it sometimes – and then I remember how much I care about the women I’ve come to know through writing and I get all happy and hopeful and light about the connections between us.  It’s good because there was quite a bit of unkind for a while and it took time to find my bearings, to say okay this is something I need to consider and this is just mean. This is an issue I should try and change and this is someone else’s issue.  Boundaries are hard.

Anyway.  Why the new house when I love our current house so much?  Our completely remodeled first baby.  It’s a long story, but the short answer is compromise.  I would live in this house for fifty years and die in it, but Matt doesn’t love it the way I do.  We both feel the appeal of trying for less, downsizing and clearing out storage rooms, and not being able to keep three cribs in the back corner of the basement for five years because there isn’t room for that kind of sentimental crap.  (Fine, I took a lot of convincing, but “we” want to try smaller and see how it goes.)  It’s an adventure.  Plus, he’s promised me two huge things and I feel like it’s a fair trade.  One is Hawaii. I’m not telling on the second. It’s good though.

As it turns out, with all the new house delays and life’s curve balls, Lala and Baby are not the last babies to sleep in this nursery.  A social worker I really like and respect called while we were in Arizona to see if we might be willing to take a new placement, a baby boy who needed to move foster homes quickly.  I thought the family meeting answer might be no. Graham’s leaving was so difficult and we were all catching our breath.  It was yes.  My family is amazing.  Baby Xavier (not his real name, but I really like getting to pull crazy names out of my brain) has already logged three weeks in the green nursery with the hand-painted hungry caterpillar pictures on the walls.  He’s even slept for the last two of them.

He’s nine months old.  I’m his fourth mother.  He’s starting to cuddle into my shoulder when he feels shy; to look for me and cry when I leave the room. It breaks me to watch his resilient little heart bounce back.  How can this baby stay open and vulnerable enough to say alright fine, I’ll trust you, here I am, pick me up, be my person?  The universe feels harsh sometimes, and the easy thing is to stop lifting up your arms.  I think “they” call that emotional walls.  But if he can keep doing it, surely we can too.  Right?  (That’s rhetorical, but feel free to reassure me.)

Love letters

Matt found a love letter in a wall of the new house.  It’s dated August 14, 1935, still tucked securely into a stained envelope faded yellow-brown with age.  The purple 3 cent stamp is perfectly preserved.  Carabelle gushes romance and love to Dick: the pretty moonlight over the lake is only missing you. She calls…

Getting there

I watched Nate walk into preschool today, pumping assertively up the front steps because he was so proud of his brand new Sketchers. The lanyard declaring him “dropped off” hung to his knees and his orange hair matched the orange T-rex on his shirt, which matched the bright orange piping on his new shoes.  Something…

But my heart, Anita

Where to begin?  It’s so cold. Our unplowed neighborhood streets are frozen into icy ruts that funnel the van into a lane of traffic like I’m driving one of those amusement park cars unable to veer more than a few inches left or right of the designated track.  I worry about the kids’ fingers freezing…

Two ladies on the internet

The thing I love about blogging is the connections with other women.  Because I write this life journal essayist thing on the internet, I met Ann Imig, who started a national show featuring and celebrating motherhood and I get to be a part of it.  Because I write and enjoy the writings of other women,…

What if

A photography team flew from Seattle and took pictures of the kids and me last Friday.  They arrived promptly at 10:30 a.m., two tall, youngish men, dressed in that casually rugged and yet still so stylish way that is popular here in the Northwest. Not Carhartt, Matt played with an excavator on the land all day, casually rugged. …

Rolling uphill

So, I’ve been stressed.  Mostly good stress, busy with kids and things I love to do stress, but still I haven’t looked at a writing project in weeks.  I don’t know what I expected. I have a part time job facilitating toddlers and their parents at our much-loved cooperative preschool.  I have a baby, who it turns…

A stitch in time

This December was the fifth annual gift exchange for a group of women – the group of women – my group of women – here on the border of Idaho.  I have made other close friends in our nine years in this sweet, cold, little city, but there’s something special about the women you meet when you…

Someone like you

She didn’t show again today. We packed his things in my old diaper bag backpack for the second time this week during the morning packing rush.  Pack lunches, pack homework, pack library books, pack snacks, and then Graham’s bag.  Nate likes to help – diapers, wipes, a change of clothes, his binky and a spare,…

The annual airing of the grievances

Remember Seinfeld and Festivus for the Rest of Us with its Annual Airing of the Grievances?  No? Well then you’re young and I hate you. That was good T.V.  As we waded our way through the decorating and holiday prep list last weekend, I realized my family has some not so delightful holiday traditions of…