Nov 28, 2014

"While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about."    -Unknown

xoxo, christine

Nov 27, 2014


I had a post all planned out to write about all the wonderful things in my life I am thankful for.

Because I have many things to be thankful for.

I am thankful that instead of writing that post, I spent that time laying in bed with my baby, listening to her babble, and staring into her big, blue eyes and happy, gummy smile.

Happy Thanksgiving!

xoxo, christine

Nov 26, 2014

I Could Look Away, But I Won't

I just... I can't.

I am sad for our community, our country, our world.

I know that there is a lot I don't understand. A lot I don't know. I tend to avoid the news because I just can't handle all the sadness, fear, and negativity. But of course, there are some things I can't avoid. Some things I shouldn't avoid.

I am sad for Michael Brown's family. And I am sad that this has led some people to vilify all police officers. I am sad that people don't understand that the protesting is about so much more than this one incident. That there is something incredibly BIG and deeply rooted in the history of our country that is still negatively affecting people. People whose skin just happens to be darker than mine.

I know that I don't know. I don't understand. I can't understand. But I can certainly try. I can certainly open my eyes and heart and try my damnedest to see where all these people are coming from.

I can not explain just how much my heart hurts when I hear about the pain and struggles and misunderstandings due to race. But, I know that I have no idea.

Most of the time I feel like I just can't handle it. But see, the thing is, if I feel like I can't handle it, I can just turn off my computer and look away. I have the luxury of not having to live it. My beautiful friend, even if she wants to look away, she can't. Because she lives it. She raises her son in it.

So I refuse to look away. I refuse to pretend I don't see it.

My heart hurts and I feel angry and I want to cry. I don't want to live in a world like this.

But. BUT. As my husband points out, we are talking about it. And I suppose, that can give me hope. I can hope and pray that people's ears open. That people's hearts open. That somehow, we continue to move in the right direction, further away from the I Have a Dream speech, but closer to the actual Dream.

xoxo, christine

I know that I am not eloquent when it comes to this topic. At all. Here is a wonderful post from Girl's Gone Child, if you feel so inclined. I love how she decides to explain some of Ferguson to her children so that they can understand. Also, this clip from John Stewart is a must. It's pretty long, but oh-my-goodness YES. Just, yes.

Nov 25, 2014

Four AM Snuggles

I am awake at four in the morning again, except this time it isn't with a jolt -- what was that noise? did I hear a noise or was it a dream? -- it is to the sound of my baby, rustling in her bed, talking with her little voice. Aaaaoooowwww. Ahhhhehhhhoooooo.

I smile, picturing her mouth as it works out those vowels she "talks" with. I imagine her feet up, where they are almost always when she's on her back, in her hands. I doze in and out as the minutes tick by, hoping that she will just talk herself back to sleep, but unsurprised when her talking turns to fussing turns to crying.

We snuggle into bed while I nurse her. Once she seems fully asleep I return her to her rightful nighttime place, her bed, where she promptly begins to fuss herself awake. I scoop her up and settle in the rocking chair where she falls back to sleep immediately. But when I try to put her into her bed she again fusses, demanding more snuggles and rocking in the chair.

This pattern is repeated several more times.

When it is almost two hours after her sweet noises first woke me, I sigh, but not in frustration just from fatigue, and decide that it is time to change my approach. I tuck her into my arm, cuddle into bed, and let her nurse again.  She falls asleep between her daddy and me. A perfect baby sandwich.

Shortly after we are all asleep, it is time for her daddy to get up, so I gingerly transfer her into the warmth of his spot. She and I sleep together the rest of the morning.

xoxo, christine

Nov 24, 2014

Make-Believe and Zoo and Being Together

This morning while Nora and I drifted in a out of sleep, snuggling on the bed and sporadically nursing, the older girls buzzed around the bedroom playing an elaborate make-believe something that involved setting up sleeping bags, pillows, phones, jewelry, and plastic food.

While they occasionally needed to be hushed, Nora was sleeping after all, they giggled and whispered and sometimes squealed with whatever stories they were weaving. Every so often a conversation would register with me, like when they were ordering their food from my pile of sweatshirts.

When we finally moved out of the bedroom and filled our tummies with food and, more importantly for me, coffee, new toys were taken out and animals were lined up on the floor so that we could all play Zoo together. Dolls Anna, Elsa, and their little sister Barbie (wearing Cinderella's dress) have been visiting the zoo every day for the past couple of days and apparently they were in need of several more visits today. The tigers wanted petting and the dogs were having a puppy, neither of which could be missed.

Of course the day was not without a few sister squabbles here and there. And I might have shouted once that the bickering needed to stop, but in all fairness that was before my daily dose of caffeine.

Having Hope home today felt like a gift to us all. I got to sleep in a little later than usual and Paige had her playmate available all day. Their morning request to watch TV was even delayed well into the afternoon, which I can only attribute to the two of them having each other to entertain and distract.

I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, if they will enjoy another day of having a sister to play with or if they will be needing a little space from each other, (or perhaps a little of both), but I can only stress (again) how grateful I feel to have all three girls home this week.

Looking forward to several more days of the chaos of three girls full day.

xoxo, christine

Nov 21, 2014

Taking a Break and Being Thankful

My kids are off from school this whole next week. I jokingly say I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing, but the truth is, it's a good thing.

Although Hope has started to enjoy school again, she still doesn't joyfully skip onto the bus like she used to. She claims the length of her days are difficult, she misses being with me for more of the day. Her adjustment to full day school after half-days in Kindergarten has been tougher on her than expected, and she has been needing more from me than I've been giving lately.

We are all adjusting to having a new family member quite well, but it is still an adjustment with a baby in the family, and I forget sometimes that Nora hasn't always been here. And sometimes it is difficult juggling three kids, one of whom is extremely needy at this point in her life because she's a baby and that's just how babies are.

Both Hope and Paige absolutely adore their sister, and they are pretty much the most understanding big sisters ever. When Nora cries they are quick to give me advice on what she might need, and if I try to make Nora wait they will often tell me to "go get Nora!" or "pick up Nora!" even if it means their time with me is interrupted.

Because of the ease in which Nora was welcomed into our family, I do forget that it is still an adjustment, my attention being mostly focused on our baby, so it isn't strange or out-of-the-blue that sometimes Hope or Paige act out in ways they never have before. Or that Hope and Paige are perhaps feeling more needy than they were because they aren't getting as much from me now.

I do not feel stretched thin, because my older children are not showing their neediness often, but I am trying to be more aware of their (unasked) needs, and giving them the attention and time they want and deserve.

All this to say, it will be good to have Hope (and Paige) home all week this next week. They won't necessarily get one-on-one time with me, but there will be plenty of time for us to do things together. Which I think Hope has been feeling left out of while she's at school.

So I have big plans of hot chocolate from the coffee shop, reading a gazillion books together, playing some games, and maybe even messing up the kitchen with some cookie baking.

Or maybe we'll just cuddle on the couch and watch movies all week.

Either way, it'll be nice to have all three girlies with me for a few days. I am most definitely thankful for that.

xoxo, christine

Nov 20, 2014

Throwing It Back to One of My Favs

Looking at old photos can be fun, and light-hearted, and harmless. And it can also be very dangerous. While it's fun to relive happy moments from the past, it also stirs up overwhelming nostalgic melancholy. (Is that a real thing? It is now.)

As I was scouring through photos from the past couple years, I found myself wistfully reviewing our time in San Diego. Especially this time of year, when cold and snow and winter are just starting and we have a good five months with more of the same ahead of us, looking at those warm, beachy photos brings out a deep and desperate longing.

Ah, to have a warm weather destination vacation planned...

I'll just have to reminisce.

San Diego, March 2013

(Look at that beautiful wind blown hair and squints from the sun. Sigh.)

Hoping for dreams of sand, surf, and sun tonight.

xoxo, christine

Nov 19, 2014

Which Crayon is Your Favorite?

Today my daughter brought home, "The Day the Crayons Quit" by Drew Dewalt.

There are so many great books out there, especially children's books, that choosing a favorite almost feels blasphemous. But, I definitely have some favorites. Many favorites. There are those that our family always enjoy and come back to again and again. And our list of favorites is always expanding.

"The Day the Crayons Quit" has most definitely been added to my list. In fact, we need to get it for our personal home library, I think. My first grader was so excited about reading this book she could hardly keep from spoiling the end. My preschooler laughed uncontrollably.

The premise is that when a little boy opens his crayon box, he finds letters from each of the crayons. Each crayon has a certain grievance he wants the young boy to address. You have to read this book. Adorable.

(My favorite is the peach crayon. Read it. You'll know why.)

I promise, you will not regret this book.

What are some of your favorites you're reading to your kids?

Image source
xoxo, christine

PS. I was in no way compensated for this post. These thoughts and enjoyment from this book are completely my own. I am just a mom with a love-affair of all books. Or at least, good books.

Nov 18, 2014

Simple Gifts

I'm supposed to be writing. Or at least, that was my intention when I got this time away while my mom is with the girls. Yet, here I am, almost two hours later and I am just starting. The problem with having internet connection anywhere is that it's easy to get distracted. Email, Facebook, Huffington Post, Christmas gift ideas... you get the idea.

There's Christmas music playing, which I suppose with Thanksgiving only next week, isn't too premature anymore. In fact, I just learned there are people who do all their shopping in November so that December can be devoted to fun and family. I have to admit, I pretty much love this idea. Getting all the shopping and shopping-related stress out of the way so that December can be the picturesque winter memory making I always envision? Yes please.

As it comes time to think about ideas for Christmas gifts (specifically for our kids) I find myself struggling every year. I desperately want to make sure my kids feel the magic and wonder and excitement of getting presents, because, well, they're kids, but I also am equally desperate for moderation and minimizing the things they are getting and what is coming into our house. I know that they can feel magic and wonder and excitement without having piles of things. Of course, it's not that I don't want them to get anything, but I don't want them to get everything. There is more to Christmas, much more, than getting new toys.

Every year it's a struggle to find balance between showing our kids what's really important during the holiday season, and making sure they feel like they were on Santa's Nice List.

I know of people who do four gifts: Something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. I also know people who only do three gifts because Jesus got three gifts (from the wise men). I love both these ideas, I'm just having a hard time figuring out what works best for our family and how to put it into practice.

And then, of course, I want to make sure each of the girls gets a gift for both sisters. Which is important to me because I want to emphasize giving to others, but adds several more "things" each child is getting.

And then I feel guilty that all this is stressing me out because this is not what Christmas is about! I shouldn't be spending time anxious about gift-giving stuff, I should spend it thinking up activities and memories to make and share with my family.

Which is why I just might adopt the idea of getting all my gift-buying done before December.

How about you? How do you decide Christmas gifts? And do you wait until December until you start? Or all you already done by Thanksgiving?

xoxo, christine

Nov 17, 2014

Rockabye Baby

It is three in the morning. We rock back and forth in the glider. I am getting her back to sleep. Just like I did an hour ago. Just like I did three hours before that when she (finally) went to bed.

Our eyelids start drooping, both hers and mine, with every swish of the chair. The pacifier in her mouth wiggles as she periodically sucks at it. It is our rhythm tonight. Swish. Swish. Swish. Suck. Suck. Suck. Swish. Swish. Swish. Suck. Suck. Suck.

I wish she was sleeping better, I think. But then I stop myself, because I do not want to wish away time and while, yes, I'd love for her to be sleeping better right now, she's not. But some day in the future she will, and I don't want to look back from that time and think, I should've appreciated those middle-of-the-night moments more.

So instead, I think, I am grateful for this moment. I am happy to have this quiet snuggle time, even if it means that right now, during this period in our lives, I am not getting as much sleep. I will never gets these nighttime moments with her back.

Thank you for this exact moment. Even if it is the third one I've had with her tonight.

It is difficult to do this though, because about a week ago she was sleeping great. Going to bed shortly after the girls, waking once for a feeding, falling right back asleep, and the not waking again until it was time to get up in the morning. It is hard to feel like we're going back in time, regressing back to those sleepless nights. But, I realize this is how infanthood/parenthood/adulthood/LIFE is. One day everything feels like it's progressing in the right direction, and then suddenly it isn't.

So, maybe for a month Nora seemed like she totally mastered the whole "sleep schedule" thing, but now she hasn't. And that's okay. And that's normal. And instead of freaking out about it, I'm going to try to change my perspective. It just gives me a few more peaceful and personal moments with my baby. Ones I'll never get again, especially as she gets older.

xoxo, christine

Nov 14, 2014

A Limerick

A lady, her face was so red,
Frustration exploded her head.
Her husband was sure,
That sleep was the cure.
So he sent her straight to bed.

And the next morning she felt better, I hope.

xoxo, christine

Nov 13, 2014

What Ails Me

The day is quiet, lazy. The bug that's been circulating through our house has finally landed on me, infecting me with ickiness. I'm not sure yet if it's just joined me for afternoon tea, a six-month sabbatical, or (most likely) something in between.

I'm grateful that Nora has been content to eat and sleep the whole day, still recovering from her doctor appointment yesterday. She seems groggy, napping more frequent and longer than usual, something that today feels particularly like a luxury. We have spent the majority of the day snuggling in the chair, our warm bodies comforting each other in our yuckiness.

Paige has been understanding, playing in hushed tones in the corner with occasional requests for lunch and snacks. She has also been more than happy to watch one or two (or three or four) shows while I baby myself with reading and dozing.

I am worn down and exhausted from both lack of sleep and the achiness that comes with illness. I need a good twenty-four hour of uninterrupted sleep (my self-prescription) to regain some energy. The problem with feeling sick and sitting in the living room most of the day is that I look around and see everything that should be getting crossed off my To Do list. I have a terrible habit of thinking of the cleaning that hasn't been done recently, the clothes piling up in the laundry room, the organizing of everything that I want to happen, the multitudes of To Dos, while I sit around not feeling well. It makes me particularly overwhelmed as I can't actually accomplish much but I have plenty of time to sit around and think of all that I am not accomplishing.

Which is kind of how I feel in general lately. I am looking at my life from the outside, not particularly happy with what I see, yet paralyzed when it comes to making changes. I should probably clarify, it's not that I'm unhappy, I am quite happy with my life in regards to my family and relationships. I love my husband and daughters. I feel wonderful about the life we are building for our family. The discord comes from within. I don't think I'm an unhappy person, but I'm also not particularly happy either. As I've mentioned before, there is a stirring of discontentment, an urging that I am becoming more and more aware of. But it's not yet clear to me what exactly it is all about. I feel like I need to make changes to myself, but I'm not entirely sure who "myself" is so I'm not sure what those changes are, or what they might mean.

It is all getting quite exhausting as I ruminate in circles, feeling disconnected from myself yet wanting (desperately) to feel the deepest connection to the world around me.

I am trying to sit with my feelings. To be okay with whatever it is that is ailing me (figuratively, that is). But I'm not sure if it's working. Mostly I'm just feel tired right now. Which maybe means that when one is sick it's okay to take a break from deep thinking and processing.

Which is what I'm going to do now. Snuggle my sleeping baby, close my eyes, and let my mind still into sleep.

xoxo, christine

Nov 12, 2014

I Guess Now With Snow It's Time to Think Christmas

I started thinking about Christmas presents today. Twelve days into November. Two weeks before Thanksgiving. I'm not sure if this is incredibly premature, or if I'm completely behind. (I kind of feel like it's a bit of both. On the one hand, I feel embarrassed that I'm already thinking Christmas when it's hardly past Halloween, but on the other hand, so many people I know are already Christmas shopping that I almost feel I need to catch up.)

Plus it snowed here, so that guarantees to add a little Holiday into the season. Even though it's technically still fall. (I'm not bitter at all, why do you ask?)

My husband was actually a bit surprised that I only just started thinking about gifts because usually I am all over getting a head start, at least on having ideas for the girls. See, I'm kind of a planner. And an organizer. So the thought of adding more Stuff to the already accumulating Stuff (especially Stuff like toys that seem to multiply like rabbits behind my back), leaves me anxious and overwhelmed. This is why I like to have a firm hold on what and how much is going to be coming into our house. The reason I start thinking about Christmas gifts so early has little do with getting ahead or being in the holiday spirit, and more to do with control.

(Yes, I realize control is really an illusion. I'm pretty sure I need more than a few minutes, and several visits with my therapist, to investigate that any further.)

So, we're thinking Christmas. At least, ideas for Christmas. And although I am currently in the stage of stressful thinking, I have a sneaking suspicion that the Christmas spirit is slowly trying to eek it's way in, and it won't be too long before I'm pulling out the Christmas music and searching for it on the radio.

What do you think? Is it too early for Christmas? Or having you already started shopping (and even decorating -- it's okay, you can admit it to me)?

xoxo, christine

Nov 11, 2014

I Had to Parent Three Kids Alone This Weekend

I was solo parenting Saturday through today while Adam was away hunting. (How a vegetarian married an avid deer hunter is still a bit of a mystery to us all...)

It was not the first time I was parenting without my partner since Nora's birth, but the first time he and my mother were gone at the same time. Have I mentioned recently how much my mom does and helps out? It really is a blessing having her so close and available. But, alas, she and my dad left on Sunday, so I was without my two primary supporters for two whole days. Gulp.

I realize that there are many people who do this by themselves all the time, and I have to say, WOW. You are amazing. Parenting alone is hard. It is HARD. There is no "can you handle this", no "I'm just running out to the store quick", no "I just need to take a breather, can you take over for a minute". The only alone time I had were the precious moments after all three girls were asleep.

Which, by the way, was not at a decent hour because why would it be easy to get the kids to sleep? It's never easy. So of course it's going to be even harder alone. Bedtime was, by far, the most painful part of Adam being gone.

So, even though I was exhausted from the days and the getting three children to go to bed, stay in bed, and fall asleep, and I should have gone straight to bed myself to get the maximum amount of sleep, I'd stay up late because I was desperate for some Me time.

But, we survived. Children got fed and dressed and taken care of. Laundry got washed (just not folded). Dishes got cleaned and put away. Garbage and recycling was taken to the end of the driveway on the appropriate day. I even pulled the vacuum out once.

We got annoyed with each other, and even yelled at each other a bit, but we also laughed, snuggled together, and watched several movies. Overall, I would say it was a success, although I will quickly add I am in no hurry to solo parent again any time soon.

And I'm kinda looking forward to my weekend to hunt. Which is never. Because I don't hunt. But I might be tempted to take it up just so that I can get away for a few days and sit by myself in the quiet...

In any case, it's nice to have my husband home.

xoxo, christine

Nov 10, 2014

Already Four Months

Over the weekend, Nora became a four-month-old, and I just can't believe it. In some ways, I can't even remember what life was like before her -- like she's been here all along. But in other ways, it feels like she can't possibly be four months already -- she was "just" born!

Adjusting to life with a newborn/infant is never easy for us, but the change from two children to three has been significantly less difficult than when we went from one to two. Mostly I think it's because of the bigger age gap. The older girls are a lot more self-sufficient at six and four than Hope was as a two-year-old when Paige was born. That being said, four-year-olds and six-year-olds are still children with a lot of needs and there are moments I find myself completely overwhelmed with the neediness and noise of three voices at once.

But all the stress I feel vanishes when Nora gives her big sisters a big gummy smile. And after a middle of the night feeding when she's sleeping against my shoulder, I sniff in her baby head and life feels incredibly peaceful.

It is hard to imagine what our lives will look like as the girls get older. I can't picture having a ten-year-old, fourteen-year-old, and sixteen-year-old. I can't even picture having a two-year-old, six-year-old, and eight-year-old. But even though I can't imagine the future, I can see pretty clearly right now, and it is good. It is very good.

For as much as I find to complain about (hello snow and ice on November 10th, I am looking at YOU), I am feeling incredibly grateful right now. This family? This is my family. These three girls? These are my three girls.

It certainly has been an amazing four months.

xoxo, christine

Nov 9, 2014

Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?

Because you probably can tomorrow.

It's November. Which pretty much means it's practically winter. It might sound a little pessimistic, but if you live in Minnesota you know. We pretty much get Summer, Spring, and Fall for two months each and the other six months are winter.

We're definitely on the down slide of fall.

Although I am a lover of the Christmas season, I am so not ready for winter. My anti-winter flag is flying high right now. I'm afraid Mother nature hasn't gotten my memo though. Apparently we're supposed to get 74310387410 inches of snow tomorrow.

Yeah, I'm not really looking forward to getting Hope on the bus and driving Paige to school, all while lugging Nora in her car seat, in first season snow. On the plus side (is there a plus side?) the girls will probably be thrilled to see snow tomorrow morning, so I can attempt to piggyback off their excitement.

I keep peaking out the window to catch a glimpse of the first flakes. I'm kinda hoping that the meteorologists got it totally wrong and we end up getting nothing. Or just a light dusting.

Or, we'll just be able to build a huge snowman tomorrow.

xoxo, christine

Nov 7, 2014

Sanctuary! Give me Sanctuary!

I am in the bathroom. Hiding from my baby.

Who does that?

With guilt above and beyond, I am sitting on the side of the tub, listening to my six-year-old and four-year-old successfully entertain their baby sister.

There is little time left for this day to redeem itself, and with the toilet as my current view, it's not looking promising.

I'm not sure what happened, but exhaustion hit me hard this afternoon and Nora decided to make this one of her Cat Nap days. Which maybe wouldn't be so horrible except that she cries bloody murder for about twenty minutes straight before she falls asleep. And then she sleeps for about five minutes before waking up and screaming again.

The emotions of this day came out of nowhere, and I'm feeling the shame and guilt like a big weighted winter coat.

But it's okay. (Right?) I am getting a few moments to myself. And my children are playing happily on the floor together. Maybe Nora needed a break from me as much as I needed one from her.

Perhaps I'll give myself another minute or two. I'm in the bathroom, I might as well pluck my eyebrows or something.

::deep breaths:: xoxo, christine

Nov 6, 2014

There's A Storm Brewing

I am sitting in a coffee shop. Writing. By myself. Enjoying an occasional sip on my sweet mocha. The place buzzes with conversation. Men in business suits type furiously in the corner, two women embrace before settling into their table to catch up. A man whose long white beard is suspiciously familiar, bobs his head to music, his eyes and concentration focused on his laptop. Perhaps he is making a list. Even checking it twice.

The hum of the espresso machines and the hiss of froth coming from behind the counter provide the percussion to the orchestra of noises in this busy place. But it is not distracting. As I settle in to this Me Time, it feels invigorating to be here, alone, yet full of people.

The energy radiating here takes me by surprise. Crowds and too many people usually give me pause, increasing my anxiety, and deep deep desire to be home curled up on my couch. It is enough for me to wonder if I am maybe not getting out of the house enough.

I am currently on a quest, propelled by this unsettled and cloudy feeling I've had lately. I detect the distant roll of thunder, perhaps a glimmer of lightening too, but I can't quite make out where the storm is coming from... or if it is a storm to be feared or eagerly anticipated.

As a girl I loved thunderstorms. I remember laying on our living room floor, staring upside down out the window mesmerized by the bolts lighting up the sky. Somewhere between that adventurous child and this frazzled mom, thunderstorms became less of a wonder and more of a worry. They bring me more fear as an adult than I ever remember having as a kid.

And I wonder, where did that audacious girl go?

Is her loss a natural consequence of growing older? Or is my memory of her distorted by distance and melancholy?

Have I completely lost that wonder and excitement for adventure? Can it be rediscovered?

I don't know exactly where to start this expedition into who I am and what I want with this life, but there is an urgency settling in, tingling my toes as it makes its way up, encouraging me to move, explore, investigate.

Is it a mid-life crisis? The battle cry of the frazzled mother?

Perhaps it is the wisdom that comes with time. That surly there is so much to this life to be explored. So much to enjoy. So much to seek out and discover. So much that I can contribute.

So let it begin. Let me begin. Here. Right now. Alone in a coffee house.

xoxo, christine

Nov 5, 2014

Another Set of Empty Arms

My heart is breaking. I received an email from a friend asking for prayers for a family member who just lost her baby. She was thirty-nine weeks pregnant. Her scheduled C-Section was just hours away, but she went in because something felt wrong. Her daughter had already died.

I just feel sick for what this family is going through. My heart hurts for the mother. I have spent the day vacilating between heartache and numbness, trying to wrap my head around another baby lost. I don't understand why these things happen. I don't understand how so many babies are born healthy every day, and this sweet baby was not.

I want to take this mother in my arms and give her warmth and peace and strength, and yet I know that is impossible. I can not do anything to help her. Only be available to sit with her in grief, if she wants. Only offer up prayers for everyone. Painful, tear-filled, sobbing prayers.

I think about how her pregnancy innocence is lost. I think about the devastation she must be experiencing. Reliving those moments over and over and over again. The painful love and adoration she had for her daughter when she held her in her arms.

I think about how terrible it is to leave the hospital with no baby. How horrifying it is to see everyone going about their business when you feel like the world should stop. When you feel simultaneously numb and completely shattered. When your life and world will never be what it once was.

I think about feeling angry and lost and terrified. I think about wondering how I could survive the loss of a child. I think about the terrible guilt I had, feeling like as his mother I should've been able to protect him. I was supposed to keep him safe.

This mother will probably feel many of the same things I did. And many things I didn't. I know how difficult it is to be on the receiving end of condolences, yet how helpless friends and family must feel when they give it.

It is hard and heartbreaking all around.

I am thinking about sweet baby Reese in heaven, and praying for her mama, who's arms are surly aching with their emptiness.

xoxo, christine

Nov 4, 2014

On Complicated Grief and Love and a Little Boy

Our toilet got clogged last night. Then, in the process of trying to get it unclogged, it, of course, overflowed. And you know that water isn't "fresh" toilet bowl water. It is yucky, ucky, stinky, crap-filled water. Spilling over onto anything in its path.

Our nighttime bathroom mishap pretty much feels like a metaphor of... today? Life? The grief of losing our son?

Today is the first anniversary of Calvin's due date. I'm pretty sure my emotions are all clogged up inside of me until they aren't anymore and they just kind of seep into anything surrounding me. (Yes, I totally just compared this all to an overflowing toilet.)

Although not every day, I think about Calvin a lot. It is mostly in passing, in casual conversations with Adam and the girls. He is included when the girls do family counts and in pictures they draw. Paige has designated her old green blanket his. We talk to him and pray to him when snuggling into bed at night. And his blue blanket is still tucked under my pillow. I'm still waiting for a dream from him.

Truthfully, I don't spend much time imagining how our lives would look if he had lived. If things had been different. Oh sure, when I see a random baby boy around Calvin's age, I usually get a little flutter in my heart. Or when I see a chunky baby in blue with his daddy, my heart aches for Adam not to have the experience of raising his son. But mostly I don't let myself think about "what if" or "if only" because it is just impossible to know.

I can not imagine having a one-year-old son right now. I can not imagine what it would look like or feel like to be chasing after a toddler who goes from room to room finding every tiny toy the girls leave on the floor. I can not imagine the "Mo-oms!" being called when he, once again, ruined whatever his sisters were playing with. I can not imagine shopping in the little boys section full of blues and greens and clip-on bow ties. I can not imagine what adjustments our family would have made. How we would interact with each other, how we would feel. I can not imagine who our girls would be if they hadn't lost their brother.

Mostly, as much as I wish Calvin could be here. I know he can not. And he never was going to be. And I'm okay with that. It is why I can love Nora without any guilt toward Calvin. There is no "it could have been" with him alive in our lives. And I miss him, of course I do. And I love him, of course I do. But I know that things are Right with us. Calvin prepared the way for Nora, because without losing him, we would mostly likely not have her.

And having Nora here is definitely Right. (It is important to me that Nora grow up knowing that, even though we miss her older brother, we would not trade her for him. It might be hard to imagine or understand, but I know that he is where he is supposed to be so that Nora could be here with us.)

And I can't imagine our lives looking any different that what we have right now. The blessed experience of carrying our son for six and a half months. The joy and utter devastation of cradling his little body. The fear and hope of another baby. The hesitant excitement of a healthy pregnancy. The abounding love of welcoming Nora.

I am terribly sad that Calvin didn't get to stay with us, but I am incredibly grateful for the gift he gave us. And I will shed tears of love as we remember him today and the gift he was for our family.

xoxo, christine

Nov 3, 2014

Bye Bye Bye

We got rid of our baker's rack.

Well, it is actually sitting in our garage right now, but the idea is that it is out of our house and does not have a permanent spot here anymore. It's transitional home is parked next to our car, but it's next permanent home is not here. Not ours.

I realize this is hardly news. Did you even know we had a baker's rack? We did. And now we don't. It served a great purpose for holding some of our kitchen stuff in the tiny kitchens with minimal cupboard space we've had. But lately I've been feeling overwhelmed by all our Stuff (yes, with a capital T) and I as I glared around our house, (oh yes, it was glaring, I was not looking around or anything so pleasant. I was on a mission of get crap OUT), I realized that we could consolidate and donate and then not need that extra shelf anymore.

And oh-my-goodness it feels so good that I am sizing up everything right now to figure out if we could get rid of more. I am ready to go through this house room by room, shelf by shelf. I want to be brutal right now. I mean, we don't really need a table to eat at, right? It would totally free up our dining room.

Okay, so that might be going a little overboard... but I am in a serious clean-this-house-out mode. So much so that it is keeping me awake some nights as I visualize our belongings and debate their worth and whether or not I could bring myself to let them go.

I totally want to let them go.

I'm not always all that good of getting rid of stuff. I mean, I'm not a hoarder or anything, but if I've started to attach some sentimentality to something it's pretty hard for me to say goodbye. So when these Let's-Get-Rid-Of-Stuff moods make an appearance I want to make sure to take full advantage of them.

Which means I'd better focus right now because they don't always last long.

Anyone need a couch? (I'm kidding.)

xoxo, christine

My sweet babe, who has nothing to do with this post, yet everything to do with my heart.