Thursday, December 20, 2012


she rests her head quietly upon the snowy covered field. 
obstructing view.
covering the earth in her fog.
she's heavy and cool to the touch.  damp and silent.

she rests upon us in this hour ... wherein we are all fighting the urge to enjoy every second when we can never be entirely sure what will happen after this second. ticks. past.

i watched her from my car window.  in a backseat.
far away from my own family. 
the ache is familiar.

the wanting to be near them as the night falls upon the snowy ground and the world becomes dark and the fog settles her head into slumber.

it was so much more than just wanting to be near my own children.
it was realizing that i've been in that place before.
where the dark closes in and surrounds you. 
pressing into you and shoving you downward.

during the day, i can cope.
busy with the things
and the lovely chaos of our lives.

but as night awakens, i can't help but sob for the mamas that didn't get another second ...

i've walked in shoes that felt eerily similar.
(though i'm sure weren't the same at all.)

i remember the heartache at night.  when the world was silent and i would break down in a shower of hot water spilling over my shoulders.

and the days were filled with empty.
hearing without listening.
talking without feeling.

the dark has an awful way of making us feel small. 
hidden and lost.

i want to remind them/us that the sun is still there.
there is still warmth and bright behind the fog and blackness.
(dark never fully leaves us)
but morning comes.
fog lifts.
the sun shines.
and beauty is still possible.

and i need to remind myself to be thankful for the chaos.
i could be missing it.
with an ache that isn't easily lifted.
like the fog.
that lies her head down upon the snowy blade of grasses as we drive past.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

pleading whispers.

last minute on sale pumpkins.
please be good in the store threats.
6 o clock pm on the eve before halloween.

i've felt lost and heavy with a husband feeling much too far away in an area bombarded with wind and rain and hurricane.  i am used to being a sole parent on his days away.  but extreme weather often makes me feel more alone and aware of what ifs. 

i had contemplated forgetting about pumpkins altogether ... feeding the squirrels just wasn't in my october budget.  and then i remembered that pumpkin carving is important.  so we whisked away to the store and bought on sale pumpkins.

on sale perfectly round gorgeous gourds in hand, we had dinner. 
and set out to carve.

of course i had preconceived pinterest notions of vw bus carvings and witches with green noses.
and then i let the kids take over and map out silly faces over the orange bumps of the gourd. while i carved out their designs and said "stand back" and made claims about the sharpness of knives and emergency room needles.

we did homework.  cora researched pumpkins for kindergarten and sang me a song about the lifecycle of a pumpkin. 
how do you fix a broken jack o' lantern?  with a pumpkin patch!
was the bit of information that she found most important enough to include on her homework.
also?  pumpkin flowers are edible.
just in case you were wondering.

stella struggled to combine spelling words into sentences.  harder than it sounds, yo.
wrote/wrists.  wring/wrap.  gnat/gnawed.  knock/speaks.
and on and on.

i may or may not have threatened to compost pumpkins for people that were not finishing their homework.

i didn't.  of course.
even though homework took forever.

finn was so tired. 
he balked at the mention of bed.  and went to tell me i'm stupid and weird.  because that's what the boy always says anymore. 
i quietly said ...
and my boy who has developed a fear that santa is watching.  stopped in his tracks ... walked quietly up to me and said "i wanna watch mickey mouse."  and then turned around.  and turned around again quietly snuggling into my arms. i wanna go to bed.

is santa here?  he whispered ...
i no want santa to be here.  he pleaded in a barely audible whisper.

poor boy.  scared of santa and not getting toys.  i don't really know where the idea stemmed from ... coughcough sisters coughcough.  but it kinda works.  and i'm banking on it right now.

i lay next to him. watching his chest quietly rise and fall.  he softly pulls strings from his blankie with his teeth as his eyelids become heavy with sleep.  his breath slows.  the restless fidgeting ceases and his body sinks into the pillow.

i kiss his forehead and whisper plead for these moments to last forever.
i know they won't. can't. 
i'm going to miss this someday, won't i?

just write.  number 59.  over at heather's place ... go here ... you won't regret it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


stella crashed through the door ... a mere steps behind smiley happy cora.

she said when i asked what was wrong.
because duh.  mamas know when something is wrong.  i knew it before she stepped foot upon the entry. 
i opened my arms to her.  she fell into them.
and sobbed.

upon every uptake of breathing she spit out worries and embarrasments.  the bus driver yelling at her over the microphone about eating on the bus.  the girls that want to sit by her in the morning but then avoid her on the afternoon bus ride.  how they tell her to leave them alone.  how they tell her to not bother them.

my rule follower.
who apparently forgot the rule about not eating on the bus ...
though if i'm allowed to say so?  getting home over an hour after school gets out in the afternoon is much too long. poor kiddos.

rules schmules ... is what i muttered into her hair.  i could care less about bus rules.

i shushed her sobbing and wrapped her in my legs on the floor combing my fingers through her fine hair.

we whispered about friendships.  true friendships. 

her daddy called from states away ... and she sent him a photo of her cursive double iis.  she took the phone into the other room to talk to him.  privacy.  quiet.  peaceful. 

i don't always know what she talks about on the phone with her daddy and her best friend anymore.  i guess that's ok. 

i do know that her smiles are harder to find. 
i do know that she loves chocolate (dark. especially.  and that's why i couldn't bear to photoshop the slight smear of chocolate off of her face in the photo above.) 
i do know that she has people to fall into when life gives her trials. 
i do know that she is good at math.  and reading.  and cartwheels. 
i do know that she can successfully find youtube videos to teach herself how to do walking handstands. 
i do know that she is ok.
i do know that things are bound to get harder.
i do know that i will learn and grow as much as she will over the next several years.
i do know that jeremy and finners will most likely want to buy a motorcycle with a sidecar and run away while i deal with all the girly stuff.
i do know that we will all make it.

i just hope that the scars and heartbreaks don't last long.

just write.  installment number (insert crazily high number here).  want to see more?  or add your own??  go here ...

yes.  august and september and most of october slipped through my fingertips.  i tried to write.  but the words were lost.  i'm forcing myself to find them again.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

refrigerator pickles. and water parks.

we've pretty much had cucumbers exploding from our ears these past few weeks.  in fact.  if you showed up to the garage sale AND expressed interest in gardening, plants, composting and/or cucumbers ... you may have been forced to take a few with you when you left.

the ladies that expressed interest in my red and green tomatoes, though?  totally had to pay fifty cents ... because i'd not yet had the opportunity to eat one. 

but cucumbers?  ALL YOURS.

and we've been eating them quite a bit lately.  stella likes them with ranch.  cora likes them on her sandwiches.  finn avoids them.

but all of us like them this way.

in fact?  at dinner the other night?  we ate a total of 2 cucumbers

(sharing my grandma's ancient cucumber secrets with y'all.  you can thank me later.)

step one.
cut up your cucumbers ... we've been blessed with skinny long cucumbers this year.  (my favorite).  i'm fairly certain that that has to do with the type that i planted ... but i have no idea.  we cut them up variety pack style.  1.  skinny slices.  2.  fat slices.  3.  half peeled. (which makes them have a stripey wonderful pattern.  obviously my favorite.)  4.  and full peeled. 

2.  put them in something.  add water. 

3.  add salt.  and here's where my best friend sometimes wants to ex-best friend me ... because i have no idea on the amount.  i add a bunch.  and when i stick my finger in the water and taste it?  it tastes like a slightly salty watery flavor. 

4.  let sit.  in the refrigerator.  usually.  see that pretty stripey goodness?

5.  after awhile ... take them out and pour out about 1/4 to 1/3 of the water.  add vinegar.  (we got crazy this time and used apple cider vinegar.  surprisingly good.)  put them back in the refrigerator and let them soak in the vinegar and salt water solution. 

and then?  take this poor boy to the splash pad that you mentioned before actually starting the refrigerator pickles. 

summertime.  consists of refrigerator pickles and water parks.  i don't want it to ever end.

Sunday, July 15, 2012


i hovered over her ... like a new mama watches frettingly over her newborn baby.
except my baby laid swaddled amongst mountains of pink and green quilts in the top bunk of the bunk bed.  little baby left.  long lanky legs.  a mess of sweatydrenched hair upon her pillow.

her breathing was shallow.  so shallow.  and within her chest i could feel the fluttering of her heart.
too fast.
much too fast for a normal night of sleep.
she stirred.
while i struggled knowing that i agreed to the vaccine that coursed through her body making her feel this way.  (please let us not get into the vaccine argument ... i struggle enough within my own heart as it is.)

she began fitfully tossing around freeing her arms and legs from the tightly bundled blankets. 
she awoke and i pulled her down into my arms.  took temperatures.  laid lukewarm cloths upon her forehead.  offered medicine ... hoping that it would allow us a few hours of sleep.
she slept tossing and turning.

i hovered.

until the sun started to peek through the curtains
and her temperature settled.
and her breathing relaxed into the softness of her spot beside me in my bed.
and her heartbeat s.l.o.w.e.d. enough that i didn't fear it any longer.

her heart.

is amazing and beautiful. i remember watching it on a screen while she hovered inside of me.  it was always their little heart flutters that sent me into tears.  because it proved to me that they were. 

we've learned that the heart i watched so strongly beating at one time ... has a funny little murmur.  a whistle of sorts.  and though this illness and this heart stuff have no common ground ... i'm realizing how much worry that this has put in me.  and we're still learning more about it. 

what we do know for certain?  is that her heart loves.  big.  and i guess that's the most important thing.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


i keep telling myself this ...

there is so much sometimes.  changes.  that terrify me and excite me.  things that we know and feel safe with are tossed aside rambunctiously to try new things that in the end will make better.  but create major uncomfort right now. 

and it's so silly.  because we were in this boat once before ... and didn't feel right with it then.  and it (maybe. kinda) still doesn't feel totally right.  but we're doing it anyways. 

and i have to keep telling my thoughts (and my husband) that this?  right here?  is exactly what we are supposed to be doing. 

welcome to vague blog post number 283. 

in more exciting news?
please excuse me.  i am a mere cellphone camera photo.  jen didn't bother to take out the big girl camera for me.
we've been eating at home a lot.  it's in our "saving money" plan. 
cherries are delicious.
they look pretty in a bowl.
you will totally confuse non-blogger children when you tell them to wait a second while you take a photo of their food before they are allowed to consume it.
um.  why is your mom taking a picture of the cherries?

the heat has forced us inside more than i would like.
which tends to lead to a lot of time on the kindle.
or this ...
which i totally stalk with my camera. 
because holy cuteness.
i love that they just love to be together.

my kitchen table constantly looks like this.
and little people towns adorn my living room floor.
and yes.  that is a pizza crust rising on my kitchen table with a mess of art supplies and christmas tree airplane director people lights surrounding it.  oy.

you should never trust a two year old boy with a spray hose in his hands.
because he will spray you.
even if you are holding the big girl camera.
which you will quickly stuff into your shirt without cares as to what the neighbors caught a glimpse of ... and then you will learn never to trust a two year old with a spray hose.

hi.  i'm a phone picture again.  mom had to take me out when the two year old attempted to murder the big girl camera.
that troll is from my grandma's collection.  i miss her everytime that i see him.

speaking of missing people.  today was what would have been papa joe's 90th birthday.  we celebrated on sunday.  with cake.  and less tears than i had expected.  and it's this quote that makes my heart hurt today ... thinking of him.  and the family he left too soon.

happy birthday papa joe.  i hope you having a grand party celebrating.  you are so so missed.

my girlygirls are taking piano lessons.
i tear up every time i see them sit down to practice. 

pure excitement around here.

we are (exactly) WHERE we are ... meant. to. be.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

enjoying the everydayness ... an i {heart} faces challenge

it's funny ... how sometimes my world urges me to write what feels like big and meaningful things.
and how other times?
i just want to enjoy my jellybeans and show you a photo of my son doing the same.

after so long of a time when the camera came out for sessions ... i'm starting to remember to pull the big girl camera out for me and us too.  because isn't that what got me into this in the first place?

summers are crazy in that carefree chaos sort of way.

but i enjoy that everydayness. 
i find myself in it ...
and one thing that i KNOW about myself?  is that i really love jellybeans.
sometimes?  it's just that simple.
head on over to i heart faces to see more beautiful images from the "enjoying life" category. 

Photo Challenge Submission

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


i skip inside the open doorway.  an armful of pants that need the type of launderings that i cannot provide from the comfort of my tight little laundry room. 

i'm alone. 
for a few minutes.
an errand ... that like so many other day to day errands that i selfishly turn into an outing of sorts ... because hello?
peace.and.quiet.  a moment of solitude.  a chance to pee by myself without at least five knocks and one mewing cat at the door.  the chance to choose MY radio station ... or ... OR!
peace and quiet.

she's a sweet lady ... been around.  long enough.  long enough to see so many peoples dropping off pants and shirts.  she asks my name.  and i give her my husband's.  because technically ... they're his pants.

oh.  she whispers.

i know him.  you have the most polite and sweetest children.  she says.

she poetically notes something about 51 years and  having the chance to watch so many children growing up.  there is no negativity within her prose.

and she reaches out and grasps my arm.  softly.  with the softest skin on her worn hands ... she looks into my eyes and reminds me ... you're doing a good job, mama.

and i'm super thankful for my sunglasses purchase a few days prior at costco at that very moment.  because i tear up behind the darkness of their lenses.

she counts out three lollipops and sends me out the door with a wave. 

and a softness in my heart. 

there are certainly angels among us when they are needed, aren't there?

did i ever tell you about the time that i drove (DROVE!) 14 hours across the country to cincinnati to visit my best friend, her husband, their two sweet children and her not-quite-here-yet baby? no?  well.  we did.  and it was amazingly wonderful ... so much so, that i often forgot to bring out my big girl camera.  but this?  right here?  is our children.  and when we drove around with all of them singing in the backseats?  my heart became full.
this picture means the world to me.  complete with all of their sweaty little heads and mouths full of peanut butter and jellies.  love you sar-bear.

Monday, June 11, 2012

it's amazing what a difference a year makes.

stella ... 2nd grade
{first day on top}
{last day on bottom}

cora ... preschool
{first day on left}
{last day on right}

finn ... just a little brother at this point
{early september on left}
{late may on right}

Sunday, May 27, 2012

and then ...

and then ...
the storm brewed.

long after the coffee pot had emptied and washed and been readied for another tomorrow.
long after her children were tucked safely into their quilted beds and plush pillows.
long after the world had shown her that life isn't always fair.

the clouds twisted and gathered.  darkening the golden blue skies into puddles of greys.  a sharp line of cloud moving {shoving} it's way into an unsuspecting blue.

the rain quietly hammered against the rooftop as she settled barefoot amongst the blades of soft green grasses.  her braided hair hanging {dripping} between her shoulder blades while tears of rain stood patiently upon her lashes.

she stood there softly ... thinking her thinkerly thoughts.
about life.  and love.  wants.  and needs.  haves.  and have nots.  fairness.  and other things.

the storm brewed around her.  filling her night sky with flashes of lightning that lit the sky into moments of day.  thunderous booms that spilled through her air.  shaking the house.  and rocking the children in slumber. 

the emotion spilled.  falling out of her like rain.  soaking the ground beneath her feet.  she felt the magnetic energy of the earth and sky.  her heart felt too small for all of this.  her scream was silenced from thundering into the storm.

she couldn't find the words.

so she quietly closed her journal {.once.again.} and went back to thinking.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

(almost) 5.

we had a rare evening together.
just her and i ... she chose to spend half of our special time together in the play area at ikea. 
i suppose that's just how it is with (almost) five year olds that never get to be an only child.

she did manage to hold off on all! of! the! fun! that! she! was! going! to! have! long enough to have dinner with me in the ikea restaurant. 
one ... because it was free kids meal night.
two ... because ... hello! ... swedish meatballs.
and three ... because ... just because.

i finished my quiet shopping ... kinda bored.  and overwhelmed. 
that place is crazy cakes.

and then we topped off the evening with a stop by the goodwill. pretty much because i'm always up for an adventure among the aisles of thrift shopping. 
cora managed to find the sparkliest purple dress with a velvet long sleeved top ...
she stopped to caress and feel the fabrics between her fingers.
i pulled her away towards the homegoods stuff ... and found her constantly running back over and over and over again. i urged her to step away from the dress ... encouraging her to find something a bit more boring and useful. she could not stop looking at it.

i bought it.

it's her princess gown she tells me ... purpley and sparkley and ready for her perfectly princess pizza party picnic. 

my heart breaks a little realizing that it's no longer all about mama.  and what mommy thinks.  cora thinks purpley and sparkley and velvety are beautiful ... it makes her feel like a princess. 

and i suppose that's how it is with an (almost) five year old.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

finding the beautiful.

i liked her car.  an aging grocery getter ... maroon with rust inching up it's sides.  there was a conglomeration of bumper stickers peppering the backside ... notes of happiness and peacefulness.  messages that spoke of being yourself and loving the earth.  smile worthy thoughts.
i gazed around the waiting room.  listened in while the other parents spoke to one another ... i finally reasoned it to be the older woman in the corner.  she was talking about her cat. 
serious cat people always have bumper stickers don't they?
i quieted down my search ... fairly certain that i found the owner of the beamingly positive car.

i turned my attention towards a blonde haired mama hugging on her daughter.  smiling.  giggling.  completely present in that very moment with her girl.  she kissed on her.  told her i love yous.  and hugged her before ushering her into the gym.  she had the look of a new mama.  one that is so absolutely powerfully head over heels in love with her brand new baby.  and yet her baby was 5ish ... or so.  she lovingly watched her daughter get settled into her class ... and went for a jog. 

i sent my girls into their gymnastics make up session ... their hairs were scattered and hardly contained within the confines of the ponytail holders.  they were slightly disheveled.  cora's underwear peeked out from the legs of the leotard.  she happily bounced into the class without so much as a glance back towards me.  stella's eyes pleaded with me to not force her to suffer through another class.  i grabbed onto finn's sticky palm and pulled him towards the door ... buckled him in and drove home. 
have i ever told you that sometimes i feel like i'm suffocating?
i wash the same dirty dishes over and over and over again.  i wipe the table down and then wipe the table down and then wipe the table down again.  i say things like be nice.  be kind.  please be polite.  don't do that ... it's rude.  please stop.  be nice.  be kind.  so many times that i'm bound to loose count if i tried.  there is a consistency to our days ... never enough minutes and more that needs to be done with no more time in which to do it.
i don't really like me sometimes.
i'm not always happy with who i am or who i've become.  i don't like who looks back at me in the mirror.  imperfections glare at me from the glass.  i really dislike photographs of me.  i feel uncomfortable on that side of the camera.  when i'm over there ... the photograph stops being a search for beauty and turns into a capture of the things that i don't like about myself.  pounds that should be lost.  the lack of any fashion sense.  blah hair. 
somedays i yell.
i get frustrated and talk loudly.  i yell at the kids because i've asked them to do something over and over and over again.  they aren't following my direction the first, second or third time and i just feel unlistened to.  or they are fighting about something for the umpteenth time and i just can't handle it anymore.  i put them in bed with i love yous and kisses ... promises that we should all try to act more civil with one another in the morning.  i make a goal for myself to not yell the next day ... and then i raise my voice by 9 am ... sometimes.  when we have a good day ... i often make it to at least 4.  pm.
i feel static and stuck.  hopeless and wishful. 
i worry that things might just get worse around the corner ... because i feel too lucky that things have been ok for so long.  too long. 
i'm scared to death of dying before my children ... because i don't want to watch them hurt. 
i sometimes can't believe that they still love me.
imperfections and all.
 finn and i walk back into the gym to pick up the girls.  we catch a glimpse of them tumbling into a pit of foam blocks and shapes.  cora sees us through the window ... smiles and waves.  stella flashes a smile as she steps into the line behind her sister.  they say something to each other.  they smile.

the gaggle of girls venture out of the gym ...

the blonde mama envelopes her daughter into her arms.  she gleefully says, "i got you something!"  and presents her with a crown made from dandelions.  the daughter's face sparkles with joy.  they hold hands and dance out the door.  she tells her daughter that she ran 4 miles!  and the girl remarks, "good job!"

i follow a few steps behind ... a boy on the right and a girl on the left.  stella walking just up ahead.  everyone talking at the same time.  answering 3 questions at once.  i herd everyone to the minivan ...

and watch as the mother and daughter step into their station wagon ... with markers of positivity flowering the back bumper and window. 
it wasn't the car of the cat lady ... it was a car belonging to a mama full of smiles and laughter and her daughter adorned with a crown of dandelions.
tonight ... i watched a friend on facebook ask her friends what they speak for. 
i was intrigued by the question.  fascinated by the responses.  and watched answers trickle in ... definitive answers.  unsure answers.  people that knew what they were there for and people that were still trying to figure it all out.  some chose things that were quiet.  some silly.  some truthful.  some greatly fulfilling.
i told her that i didn't really know.  i wanted to be happy.  and i wanted sleep. 
and she agreefully retaliated with her thoughts.
Jen Olson I think those are lovely and wonderful and oh my, relatable! (I think that you speak for capturing beautiful things/moments/feelings.
and i mentioned
oh Galit ... i think you're right. i do kinda speak for that ... or i try to at least. thanks for helping me see past the sleeplessness, friend
and she said
Jen Olson I think that you *do* do this - and do it beautifully. (And you're welcome. xo)
i'm ok.
i'm me.

i search for beauty in the things that surround me ... and i work really hard at capturing that beauty in a way that allows you to pull it out and immerse yourself in it at the very moment that you need another glimpse.
tomorrow i will adhere a sticker of positivity to my rear end and find the smiles in the monotony of my day.
and just for the record?
i completely realize that the photos have virtually nothing to do with the words other than the fact that i enjoyed taking a moment to find the beauty in my yard tonight.  it's amazing what a little warm weather will do for the earth's soul.

Monday, April 2, 2012

eight. {what.ever.}

i sit quietly (while the tv watches the littler ones) upon the couch with a snoring dog behind me and a cup of warm coffee in my hands. 

she stands directly between the tall straight trunk of a pine tree and the twisted up trunk of a crabapple tree.  sometimes her face disappears behind the bough of pine ... but i can always see her feet.  she bounces and wiggles.  she stands bored waiting for the school bus. 
five minutes ...
ten minutes ...
the bus is never on time. 

earlier i knocked upon the window and flashed her an "i love you" ... she rolled her eyes. 
is this eight?
and so i knocked again and again and again against the glass pane of the window.  determined to make her smile and flash me the appropriate response.
she finally flashed me a simple i love you ... behind her back. 

i swear last week ... (long before eight hit) ... she would send an i love you right back to me.  and now ... this? 
man.  i'm so not sure that i'm ready for eight.

dear stella ... promise me that you'll always love me in the deepest part of your heart ... even when you roll your eyes and say whatever. 
and also?
the eight things that i love about you.  (because that's what i do.  7. 6. 5. 4. see?)

the silly that you are ... you make me laugh so much lately with your antics and goofiness.  pausing to be a leprechaun in the middle of a game of tag to stun the tagger.  you make me giggle ... and it's funny watching it be a silly in a way that is actually really silly and not just cute because you're little and funny.  i love that you have a wonderful sense of humor.

how much you love your siblings and your family ... even though you drive them crazy sometimes.  you love fully ... i think i may have said that about you a million times over.  you love.  you always have and i'm sure you always will.  i just hope that you never have to realize that love can break your heart sometimes.  i promise you ... there is always more love just around the bend.  and if you ever think that the one you loved got away ... please know that the right person just hasn't gotten there yet.  i promise.
your helpfulness.  even though sometimes i have to beg you several times and then bribe you with candy ... you still help me so much.  i don't know what i would do without you.  seriously.  thank you for that. 
your love of music.  you want so much to play the piano and sing.  i love to hear your making up songs and writing your own music.  i love that you sing and dance.  i love listening to your (finally!) rather on-key performances.  you remind me of me at this age.

your art.  you are becoming a wonderful artist.  now if we can just get you past the need for perfection ... all will be lovely and perfect. 

your poetry and stories.  you love to write.  hmmm.  wonder where that comes from? 

your imagination.  it runs.  wild at times.  but it's there always with a story ... please don't ever lose it.  learn to harness it and create and astound people the world around with your imagination.  don't stifle it and put it in a box in the attic.  please.

your smile.  your true smile ... crooked teeth showing.  a howl of laughter.  relaxed and carefree. 

my stelly-belly.
i watched you on the eve on your 8th birthday as you blew out the candles and hugged your relatives ... and i couldn't believe that i am lucky enough to have you in my life.  i'm not sure what i did to become so blessed with such an amazing person.  but i'm thankful that i did it. 
stay true to yourself.  don't get too bossy.  be happy.  don't fret so much.  trust yourself.  enjoy life.
and please pick up your room ... just once in awhile ... without me having to beg and bribe?

love you as big as the universe.

Monday, March 19, 2012

belly giggles.

she likes that she was the "chosen one" today ... the one that got to use the orange chair first.  (after ripping off the grandmotherly chair skirt that covered those gorgeous wooden legs).

the orange chair that i spied from across the thrift store ... i just couldn't walk away and leave it there (for $29.99! no less!) ... i think it wants to live in my someday studio.  don't worry ... it passed the smell test.  and the sit test.  and the wiggle test.  and then it came home and was promptly washed up.  and dried in the crazy march sunshiney warmth.

she's a tough one, i tell ya.

you have to be ready to harness her energy.  because there is a lot of it ... she's either totally up or completely down.  my sweet and sour coconut girl.

she's in gymnastics now ... stella begged to take gymnastics ... cora wanted to dance.  dance classes started somewhere back in september or something like that ... so we asked if she'd settle for gymnastics for awhile.

she said no.

and we went to sign up stella ... and cora spied a purple sparkly leotard ... and that was it.  she wanted to be in gymnastics too.

stella complains before gymnastics ... oh ... just about every time.
cora?  no complaints.  the girl loves the bouncing and the jumping and the rolling and the flipping. 

i had a rare opportunity to drop her off and pick her up from school this afternoon on my own. 
life is crazily dropping us to our knees with another very sick grandparent (our dear papa joe) ...

and cora and i had a few extra moments before school so we stopped for a quick jaunt at the park ... we talked about being sad and missing him.  about wanting to go and visit him ... but not sure if the hospital will allow kids.  we talked about where he is ... and how he has lots of people that love him that traveled down to be with him.  we talked about how much he loves her and her siblings.  we talked about our last day with them before they left for arizona ... and how we ate mexican food and went swimming. 

she's a thinker, my girl is.  she may put on a brave face and is beginning the "whatever" phase ... but my girl internalizes.  stella will self centeredly get by, finn will be oblivious ... but i worry about cora and her little thoughts.  quite a bit.

i picked her up on the other end of the school day ... and she sat in the backseat rattling off the day's adventure.

"sydney was crying because mustafah puked loudly all over stellie and devin because he ate too much snack and too fastly and the school gave them new clothes but they only had boy clothes so stellie had to wear boy colors except for the pants because they were pink and purple but sometimes boys might want to wear pink and purple ... isn't that funny?"
she giggled and shrugged her shoulders in my rear view mirror. 

she helped me rip apart the chair skirt after i lost my scissors and she donned a pink leotard and a pink tutu and showed me how the chair was perfect for jumping. 

she belly giggled at the thought of jumping on mama's "new" chair ... and about stellie's boy clothes ... and about how the wind blew through her crazy hairdo while the clouds whispered of coming rain. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

on growing up.

she pauses just outside the door to the gym.  quietly scanning the noisy thumping music filled crowd for her friend.  i give her a little push and she pushes back against my palm with a strength that i haven't felt from her before.

i urge her through the doorway and manuever around her so that i can make my way over to the sidelines to stand with a friend and watch the chaos of the elementary school dance.  stella catches a glimpse of the twin girls and their red headed friend.  she walks in their direction ... obviously nervous about standing out in a crowd as standing alone. 

when did this happen?  when did she become so observant of what others might possibly think about her?  the bubbly red-head bounces and giggles.  happy to be here and joyful and dancing ... while stella glances sideways and watches her classmates ... constantly thinking.  i can see the worry in her eyes.

she's always been that way.  thinking. 
late at night ... middle of the night ... not sleeping more than 20 minutes at a time.  thinking.  she would awaken in the wee hours of the night ... and ask about so and so's busdrivers name.  she wondered the meaning of a ( and a ) ... and what they were used for and why they were found on a poster of the body's muscles and bones that hung on her wall at the age of 3.  and then why are they on a calculator?  and a computer?   she was constantly thinking thoughts of this or that.  why or how.  when or who.

her friend arrived ... stella was at her side almost immediately.  her tense shoulders dropped and her smile appeared.  she felt safe.  not alone.  not outside wanting in ...

the envelope arrived in our mailbox last weekend.  the acceptance into a school that is so what we have always wanted needed for her.  and there were two envelopes with good news.  one for stella AND one for cora.  and we are so thankful to have this opportunity to put them in a school that we feel will serve them well.  it's new programming.  and it's different ... and it's uncomfortable and scary ... and ...

stella has put on the brave face.  she's not exactly pleased that we are moving her to a new school, with potentially no one that she knows besides her sister that she doesn't exactly get along with all that well recently.  this could be really good.  i hope she sees that. 

she stands at the door.  quietly gazing through the crowd.  looking for her friend.  not wanting to brave the music and dancing on her own. 

my heart tells me that this is the right decision ... but i wish it could be easier for her.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

knock knock.

there's a quiet in the air around here.  the girls are off adventuring in wisconsin.  and it's just been finn and i for several days.  and he (occasionally.  though not as often i would like nor as long as i would wish) sleeps.  and it seems silly how listening for one quiet voice feels quieter than listening for three.
when there is the quiet i hear things like cat tongues lapping up water in their dishes.  i hear the whirring of the refrigerator.  and the creak of my wooden chair.  i hear the wind and the cars and the {dripping.dropping} of the springtime rush into the cold of what has felt like so (too?) long of a winter.

we spent some time outdoors today.  the sweet dog laid quietly stretched upon the black driveway soaking up the rays of the sun.  the ground smooshed and glurped as you stepped through the puddles in the grass.  the patches of snow were diminishing and the snowman had become a small hill of white with a flagrant navy scarf. 

i love this season.
and i love this age. 

this twoness that is ohmygoodness SO TWO when he is being made to do something that he 
but two is also wonder.and joy.learning. at the littlest things in life.

he hopped in his car and i saddled up my trike (yes.  i fit.) and we ventured to the "mau-ov-merica" (mall of america) ... also known as the end of the driveway.  the melted snowmen and snowballs and snowforts were making their way along the edge of our curb.  rushing downstreet you could say?

i told him to watch this!  and i found a curled leaf and placed it upon the rushing river and we chased it through the yard while he giggled.  FAST! he said ... he scooped it up when it snagged in a pile of other decaying leaves that were clung to a stick that was stuck on the crack between the slabs of curb.  he set it upon the other side of the dam and giggled as it was quickly caught up again in the rush of the water.  and disappeared. 

we escaped the shiver of spring breezes by coming inside.  we played cars.  bob the bulldozer asked nicely if he could run into bill the dumptruck and bill said "no please".  and i worked in between books and cuddles.  straightening up and doing dishes amidst popsicles and scrambled eggs.  editing images and finding my new favorite tones of black and white ... surrounded by cars and baby dolls. 

it's been so ... nice.
this opportunity to focus on just one small little person for a period of time.  to not feel pulled and crazy and busy and fall hopelessly into my bed at the tail end of the night.

it's been so quiet on this blog, too, i've realized.
i'm not sure if it's the lack of words or the realization that i really have too much to say.  and that jamming up of words is not so much about things that i think someone would want so much to hear.

houses.  and stairwells.  schooling.  and letters in the mail.  studio spaces.  and photographs.  birthdays.  and putting kids to sleep.  watching them grow.  and helping my grandma learn pinterest.
silly little things that seem oh-so-trivial when i try to sit down and write about them.

i worry that i see my children growing and becoming people that have feelings and thoughts and i'm fearful of sharing too much of their stories before they have the chance to share them in their own ways. 

why should i tell their stories if it isn't the way that they want their stories to be shared?

then again ... they're my stories too.  when i tell of myself, our stories are intertwined and i'm sure i will remember them in a way completely different from theirs.  or then again ... i may remember these little things that they will not.  and i want to remember to be amazed at the little things and how important they are ... we were all two at one time in our lives.  there was most definitely astonishment at watching a leaf travel along a curb for all of us at one time or another.    

i'm here.  and it feels so good to just write again. 

thanks for listening.

Friday, March 9, 2012

i'm so in love with this picture.

i {heart} faces is having a little challenge on over at their site ... sounds like they are mixing things up a bit and doing their challenges a bit differently (monthly!).  you should really head over and check it out!

i was in the midst of editing this newborn session and pretty much fell in love with this picture all over again.

a new mama's love. 
melts my heart.  every time.

thanks for letting me share!  now go on over and enjoy some of the other beautiful black and white images!

Photo Challenge Submission

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

he's two now. my boy is two.

there's really so much to tell you ... and i promise.  i think of those things that i wish that i want to tell you ... but sometimes i just can't.  because of the major lack of time and the lack of motivation too.

but something that i really did need to stop by to say?

my boy is two now.


and he has a funny thing lately about not wanting to look into the camera.  the boy better get over that quickly.  and yes.  that is a finn finger sized chunk scooped from the middle of the cake.  and yes.  elmo is driving the train.  choo choo.

and just because this is what i always do ... even though i'm superduper behind on blogging the 1/2 birthdays around here ...

so ... two reasons why i love you, little man.

i wish it was easier to narrow down to two simple reasons why i'm so overly in love with you. 
it's not easy.
and i really need to get myself in bed.

so here goes.

your song that is always in your head.  in your heart. 
you sing.  all the time.  you are always singing a tune or humming or do-do-do-ing.  while playing cars...while driving tractors across my couch...while reading books.  while falling asleep...
it's just pretty much adorable.

your love that you have for your family.  you love big.  and it melts my heart when you tell me that you love me unprompted.  pamela was just so right when she told me that there is just *something* about the way that a boy loves his mama.  i get it now.

you are two.  and loved beyond measure.  happy birthday to my little blue caboose.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


and then she was gone.

the world feels a little bit lighter and a little bit lonelier.

quieter.  peaceful.  less rushed and busy and full of guilt of not being there this morning or this afternoon.  of feeling like we weren't giving her enough of our time and watching others give more.  more of the quiet and sitting in her room and wishing her life while wishing her passing on quietly. 

we were told hours.  and that was precisely what we had.  the knowledge pouring from people that seem to know so much more about the process of dying than us.  i'm not entirely certain that i want their knowledge.  but it was so nice of them to share at a moment when we needed to know. 

i knew of the hours.  shared the hours with you ... and tried to secure childcare after realizing that i really didn't feel that taking the kids with was a great idea.  childcare wasn't so easy to secure.  so i waited and readied the children for bedtime.  feeling rushed and full of angst.  short tempered and frustrated.

i sent the girly girls to watch television while i nursed the boy to sleep.

in the quiet ... i made myself peaceful and calm.  wished it upon myself.
and did.

i sang the ABCDEFGs and tinkle-tinkle-yittle-star and wheels-on-bus-wound-n-wound ... over and over.
he finally relaxed and slept.
i crept out and rushed the girly-girls into bed now that my dad had arrived.
my sister texted mom ... we're on our way. 
mom texted in response ... gma is gone.

hours spilled into minutes into seconds and drifted away.

we still went.

and we sat in her room while she laid there with her eyes open and her mouth agape and i watched her chest.  i knew that she was gone ... but i couldn't help but think about how her chest wasn't rising and falling with breath.  how i shouldn't be sitting in this room with a body.  how that's not just a body.  it's my grandma.  watching my mom ... more concerned with her and how she felt.  watching my aunts ... holding strong.  telling stories.  laughing.  all of us trying to keep the air light while stealing glances at her. 

or ... her body.

it's funny how you think that this is what you want for her ... but it's not what you want for us.  and how living is hard on the dying and how death is hard on the living. 

my mind flips and flops between it all.

we readied ourselves.  picked up our things.  and walked out. 

we walked out.

and honestly ... it was the hardest thing we did.  it was the hardest thing i did.  (i guess i can't speak for everyone else).  walking away and leaving her in the hospital room ... eyes wide open.  we left.  holding hands.  holding each other.  holding her belongings.  we walked out into the cold night.  feeling lost.  and light.  and heavy.
she's gone.

it's been days since i first started this post.  leaving you all hanging ... but i couldn't press the final publish post button. 

it didn't feel completely over yet.  i felt in between. 

i spent hours reading her life story that she had written long before her mind had forgotten it all.  pages and pages of happenings and dates and cities and names.  i poured over them and compiled the important pieces into a very condensed obituary.  i learned things about her and her family that i had never before known.  things that i'll likely share with you as i look into them further.  things that terrify me and enlighten me.  things that amaze me and astound me.  things. 

all of those things that happen between the once upon a time and the happily ever after. 


we traveled to where she was to be laid to rest.  we took her home. 

finn smiled when he saw grandma sleeping. 
i don't know how to explain that to an (almost) two year old.  we told him that grandma went bye bye.  he could repeat it.  but i'm not sure that he really knows.  but does he really need to?

we left her.
and it was so hard to walk away once again.  for the final time.  it was hard to leave her there in the cold windy air.  alone.  but not alone ... surrounded by her loved ones that preceded her.  brothers and parents.  my grandfather at her side.
i have a mason jar filled with flowers now ... sitting atop my refrigerator so that the cat doesn't chew them.  pink roses and snapdragons.  pink daisies and rose buds.  flowers that the kids gathered from her at her gravesite.  flowers that they held onto while watching our tears fall.  flowers that they carried across the state lines.  begging me to put into water just as soon as i was able ... so that they could hold onto them.

eventually those too will wilt and the petals will fall among the mess in the kitchen. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


her eyes flicker.  open.  staring.  but not focusing.  not looking at me. 


we're here.  we've been here for so many hours.  when we were told hours and maybe not overnight ... we were here.  all of us.  here.  by her bedside.  tears.  and hugs. 

and then we stayed.  in shifts.  so that she wouldn't be alone.  shifts of hours.  mornings.  afternoons.  nights.  days.

sometimes there was just one of us.
sometimes there were many.
some from far away.
some from near.

decisions that we didn't want to make were made.
decisions that we didn't want to talk about were discussed.

and now?  hours.

god.  this mountain of emotion and ups and downs and all over the place is what is the hardest. 
it shouldn't be hard.  this dying process should be easy and painless and peaceful.  someone should not have to try hard to move on to the next phase in life. 
her life has been lived fully.

and as for us?
we sit.
and think thoughts that we think we shouldn't be thinking. 
wishing that she would just let go.
wishing that her heart wasn't so strong.
wishing that she would close her eyes and fall peacefully asleep.
wishing that she would go and take her husband's hand as he led her to their next life.

i remember sitting in his lap.
i have that memory of him.

i don't remember sitting in hers.

she was never the soft, make cookies and cuddle on the couch grandmother.

she was hard.  and tough.  and strong.

she still is.

i've whispered i love yous to her more often in the past week than i have in my lifetime.  i've touched her shoulder and moved her hair out of her eyes.  i've consoled her during pain.  and shhh shhhhed her to sleep. 

i've started and stopped letters to her all week.
it's the curse of a writer, i suppose.  we feel ... and our fingers itch to lay words upon a surface. 
the next morning ... i look at the scratches and can't send them out for someone else to read. 

until today.
when i heard hours.



because i realized during writing this ... that it is actually tuesday ... and all good just write things happen on tuesday ... so i'm linking up.  go there.  read other people's scratches.  tell them how amazing they are.  because they probably took parts of their hours to just write something.  and it's truly amazing what hours can do.