Friday, August 31, 2012

Labor Day

Happy Labor Day weekend, everyone!  We don't have plans to leave town or do much of anything special for the holiday, and honestly I couldn't be happier about it.  School begins on Tuesday (Tuesday!) and I'm glad to have the down time before we dive into a new routine.  So, hopefully, we will just relax:  spend some evenings out on the patio, take the girls to the pool, have lunch visiting with friends, and - best of all - maybe we'll hit the beach.  Evie has a new wetsuit to try out, and it's been two weeks since I had to rinse a gallon of sand out of the bathtub, so we're due for another lazy beach afternoon.  YAY.

How about you?  What are your plans?

Have a great holiday weekend!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

growing, growing, growing...

Well, here we go.  Today is Lena's last day of preschool.  There's not a whole lot I can say about it without blubbering ridiculously, but I will say that I never thought I'd be so sentimental about it, or so sad to say goodbye to all of her classmates - kids we've known since they were babies.  Luckily, we'll get to hang out with her teachers again as Evie moves through the classes there, so it's not a TOTAL goodbye.  But, oh, oh no, here comes the blubbering...  Cue the photos!

her first day, 7/2009, 21 months old

she still had baby cheeks!

this morning - she is SO excited to move on.

(Evie, please don't hate me later for posting this.  I promise you look adorable.)

Gah.  I can't believe it.  How does it happen?

On Tuesday she begins kindergarten.

Don't worry.  I'm stocked up on tissues.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


I'm not sure what I expected to happen once I finally wrote about the difficult time I've had deciding whether or not to have more children.  Unfortunately, I didn't press "publish" and then immediately fall into an epiphanous trance where the answer came to me clear and certain.  That would have been REALLY nice.  (*Ahem* btw I'm still available for this experience if Anyone is interested in offering it.)  But I do feel like the message I received back was to let go of fear in my life, and while that could mean a lot of things for me, I think it really hits the mark regarding how I look toward the future.  On top of what I assume are normal parental-type grown-up worries such as concern for my family's safety and worry that I'm ruining my children by letting them watch Dora or giving them gummy vitamins, I've been afraid of so many other things, too:  running out of money, running out of space, running out of time, running out of patience, having three kids, only having two kids, raising them in Los Angeles, not raising them in Los Angeles...  Honestly, it's a pretty long list.

But I'm trying to recognize these things as fears, and moreover, fears that are not necessary or worthwhile.  And I want to tell you that in making this effort, on Sunday morning I woke up feeling good.  Really, really good.  As someone who has been struggling with depression since her teen years, I've always said that I don't even understand what "normal" is supposed to feel like.  On Sunday, I think I felt normal.  It was nice.  And if I'm right, and that is "normal", then I'd just like to say that if you wake up feeling pretty good about your life on a regular basis, well, ROCK ON.  Enjoy that.  Take it to heart.  Thank your lucky stars, and be happy.  What a gift.

Anyway.  Suffice to say, I think there might be something to this letting go of fear business.  Sunday was fantastic, we then spent most of it at the carnival I posted about yesterday, and by the end of the day we were all exhausted and I was fighting off a migraine.  Yesterday was difficult, I still wasn't feeling well and the girls were a bit of a handful for much of the day, and now today is one of those days where our schedule is all messed up and Jimmy and I are scrambling to cover all our bases and it's just shaping up to be a long, stressful Tuesday.  This state of affairs is more along the lines of my personal normal.  At any rate, though, I'm feeling hopeful.  I've had a glimpse of something very good, and think I can keep working at this.  I'd like to have that Sunday morning experience on a more regular basis.  I'm shooting for it.

Somewhat along these lines, I was catching up on my blog feeds this morning, and came across these posts from two of my favorite bloggers.  I am regularly inspired by both of their blogs, although they are quite different from each other, and it amazes me to see that they are regular people who have been so brave; they have gone out and put something beautiful into the world, and now they have a chance to see their bravery growing, recognized, appreciated.  It makes me happy, so I wanted to share with you:

Christina Rosalie on her new book, A Field Guide to Now.  (I can't wait to get my copy!)
Colossal Turns Two, and steps out from behind the curtain.  (If you're not following Colossal, you are missing a wonderful thing.)

Happy Tuesday, friends.

Monday, August 27, 2012

La Ballona Festival 2012

It's Monday, I've been fighting off a migraine all day and spent the morning hanging out with a certain two-year-old in the bathroom, and it's getting way too hot outside, again, but who wants to hear about all of that?  This weekend we took the girls and our favorite next-door neighbor, Julie, up to the La Ballona Festival here in Culver City.  Wow.  We've lived here for seven (seven!) years, now, but somehow this was our first time, and now that we've gone I can't believe we've been missing it!   It was a much, much bigger shindig than I had imagined, and the girls loved the pony rides, carousel, Ferris wheel, roller coasters, sno cones, corn dogs, game booths, giant slides... We had the best time, and as we managed to get home with no sunburns or goldfish, I'm calling the day a success.  Lena is already asking to go again next year.  Wouldn't you?

Friday, August 24, 2012

wherever you go

Happy Friday, friends.  I just stopped in to say thanks to everyone who read yesterday's post, and especially to those of you who responded with encouraging words or similar stories.  Since I began blogging I've found that I sincerely do have a need to write these things down, so it is blessing upon blessing for me that not only do I have a place to put those words, I also get to hear back from you on occasion.  And I don't think I can understate how much your words are appreciated, or how they routinely hit the mark for me, and I carry them with me for so long.

That is all I had intended to say, today, but my sweet mom called just as I was opening this post, and after we talked I had to sit here and dry my eyes with five or six tissues before I could continue.  She hadn't been online, yet, or seen yesterday's post, but said that as she was having her morning devotions she had me on her mind, and felt like she was meant to share what she was reading with me.  It turns out that the message was about letting go of fear in our lives - that fear only serves to confuse us and to keep us from moving forward - and instead of being fearful we should remember that God will care for us wherever we are. 

Well, she put it much better than I just did.  But the point was almost exactly the same as what kittymclewin posted in yesterday's comments, and I'm having a hard time ignoring the synchronicity there.  Thank you, ladies.  I got the message.  I needed it.  And even more important to me than the message itself was getting any message at all.  I was feeling quite forgotten. 

You've shown me that I am not.

Thank you.

"Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
 Joshua 1:9

Thursday, August 23, 2012

2/3, 4/5

and now we are...
It's always the post I'm needing most to write that is somehow the hardest to write.  For months - for most of this year - I've been telling myself that this post has to be written.  For a week I've had a draft open.  Today I'm going to write it.  Today, right now, here we go...

Evie suddenly and almost miraculously and definitely surprisingly potty trained last week.  What?  All that introduction for this post and I'm talking about potty training?  Yes.  Yes I am.  Because I knew potty training Evie was something we needed to do, but I kept putting it off.  And I really did not believe or even dream that it would happen in a matter of two or three days, that one day we would give it a go and she would just be ready.  And here I am, a week later, with a closet full of diapers which we no longer need.  We had just recently received a new diaper delivery, too, so I'm guessing there are about 250 of them crammed into the girls' already stuffed-to-the-brim closet next to eight packs of baby wipes and one brand new pack of swimmie diapers.  We also have one stack of gorgeous, natural, re-useable diapers and covers that I never could quite get the hang of, and I know that three or four half-used tubes of diaper creams are stashed all over the house, too, including the two tucked into the little first-aid kit in the diaper bag I no longer need.

Jimmy moved the Diaper Genie out to the garage over the weekend, which reminds me, I just bought a refill for that thing on my last trip to the store.  That sucker was nearly eight bucks, too.  And I know I should try to return it, I should donate the diapers, and I should throw out most of the diaper cream.  Those wipes will absolutely get used on ice-cream-smeared faces and finger-smudged laptop screens, but in a 710 square foot house, who has room to keep the rest of it?

To make matters worse, we spent last weekend shopping for bunk beds for the girls.  Lena is a little thing, but we do have to go in and tuck her arms and legs back into her toddler bed every night after she falls asleep.  And Evie, oh, she's been able to climb in and out of her crib for months, now, which is an embarrassing state of affairs.  I KNOW I was supposed to move her out of a crib the second she could do that.  But I didn't.  Partly because she really only climbs into the crib, for some unknown reason that I will never complain about, so she always has a soft landing ahead if she were to happen to fall.  And partly because I've been putting off the decision of what to move her into next.  The room is just too small for two twin beds, though, and after looking at all of our options I think we're going to have to spring for bunk beds.  The girls are ecstatic.

And I am dreading it body and soul.  The bunk beds will go in, the crib will go out, the crib bedding I hunted down for months when I was pregnant with Lena will go out, the rocking chair my parents bought for our babies will go out, the toddler bed will go out.  And we don't have room to store all of those things.  At least, not in a garage that is already crammed full of baby clothes and blankets and bottles and a high chair and an exersaucer.  Baby toys.  Baby shoes.  The monkey mirror we used in the car that Lena and Evie both absolutely adored when they were babies. All of it is sitting in there, taking up space, collecting dust.

I am not a packrat by any means - in fact I really love to get rid of anything I can whenever I can - but that big pile of baby gear out in the garage has been screaming at me for over a year, now.  I absolutely cannot decide what to do with it.  It should probably go, but if it goes, we're saying we won't need it anymore, and that breaks my heart.  So maybe we should keep it, but keeping it means we're saying we'll use it again, and that terrifies me.  So I've spent the last year just trying to ignore it.

I've never had such a difficult time with a big decision.  Choosing a college was hard, but in the end, the right doors just opened and the other doors closed.  Moving to Los Angeles was chasing a dream, and so I chased without too much thought, because I could and there really wasn't anything else for me to do at the time.  Making the decision to marry Jimmy was cake.  Deciding to have our first baby was more of an imperative than it was a decision (for me, anyway).  A second baby took a little thought, but it seemed natural.  And now, for some reason, suddenly, trying to decide whether we should stop where we are or go for a third baby feels I don't know what.  Like choosing whether or not we should move to Mars, maybe.  I mean, Mars, wow.  It would be totally different than life as we know it, and it might be hard forever, but it's Mars!  It's a life-changing opportunity!  Who would regret that??

I didn't think it would be this hard.  Having babies has been flat-out the most amazing thing to ever happen to me.  I loved loved loved their baby kissy mouths and baby nibbly toes and baby squeaky grunty napping noises which more often than not kept me from getting much sleep myself, but it was so. darn. cute.  Nursing, when we got it to work, gave me purpose and meaning like nothing else ever has.  Even labor, as holy crap painful as it was, was maybe the closest thing to meeting God that I'll ever experience.  I mean that.  In the hour after Evie was born I remember saying that I wished I could give birth every weekend.  And I wasn't even medicated.  Delirious, maybe, yes, but that's kind of the point:  I'd give almost anything to experience that again.

What I'm not sure of is if I'm willing to give a third go at the toddler years in exchange for that experience.  Let's just say the toddler years are not my strong suit, and leave it at that, okay?  After three years of full-on all-toddler all-the-time action, I am tired, and worn out, and struggling for patience on a daily basis.  I'm hoping I'll be better at the kid years, but there's really no guarantee, and even if I am, could I handle three of them?  At once?  I just don't know.  I also don't know if we'll ever be able to afford the space for three kids, as right now we can barely afford space for two.  We would HAVE to get a bigger car.  And five plane tickets home for Christmas with my family - is that even a possibility?  One more airfare, one more admission ticket, one more college education, one more bed.  We don't even have room for a bassinet in this house, anymore.

I also like sleeping all night through, even if that is still only an occasional experience.  I like leaving the house without diapers.  I like that we're down to one nap a day, that life is getting more portable, that we're just now beginning to see the light that one day maybe maybe if we try really hard we might maybe possibly be able to go on a vacation.  To a new place.  For FUN.  Crazy!  The idea of travel is slowly becoming a little less elusive, and even just that possibility is practically mouth-watering.  TravelWow.

I don't know what to do.  I so equally want both things.  I want to be pregnant, I want to have another baby, I want to see my girls meet a new little sibling and watch them all grow up together.  I want to have three grown children one day.  I want two of them to call each other when the third is having a hard time so they can rally together and help, or plan surprise parties for each other's birthdays, or work out arguments, or remember exactly whose turn it was to call mom that week my gosh she's such a mom always needing us to check in, GEEZ.

But I dread going through the sleepless nights again, the endless toddler years again, the never-being-able-to-leave-the-house-or-even-shower-for-months-on-end again.  I'm afraid to quit taking my medication during the two years of pregnancy and nursing.  I'm afraid of not being able to afford another one, of not having enough time to give to the two we already have, of not being able to travel just for us, not to mention traveling to see our extended family.  I'm afraid of throwing a wrench into what is right now very very good.  We are not missing anything right now.  There is nothing wrong.  We could certainly all be happy and content as a family of four.  Why roll the dice again?

This is where I am right now.  I feel I need to make this decision, and I cannot make it.  I've thought it through and talked it out, I've had advice from everyone close to me.  (Some say the fact that I can't let it go means I should do it, and some say the fact that I have reservations is a sure sign I shouldn't.  Some say I'm crazy to consider another baby, some say I'm crazy to consider stopping.)  I've seen my therapist, I've talked to my psychiatrist, I've made the decision one way, then the other, then back and forth again.  I've tried putting it all away for a while, hoping an answer would come when I wasn't looking.  I've prayed.  I've read.  I've prayed.  I've meditated.  I've prayed.  I've waited.  I've prayed.  I've tried to will myself into having revelatory dreams, but really, nothing comes.  Nothing comes.  Jimmy has graciously left the decision up to me, and I have no answers.

No answers.

Last winter, at a party, a lady I didn't know told me that she could see a little boy - my future son - standing next to me.  She said he had straight, dark hair, and that he hid behind my leg when she looked at him.  She cried.  She is an actress.  It was a baby shower.  We were all drinking wine.  Was that real?  Or was that an actress, at a baby shower, after three glasses of chardonnay? 

I would set everything I own on fire if I knew it would give me an answer.

There are people close to me trying desperately to have children now, and so I realize that having this sort of crisis is an embarrassment of riches - or an assumption of future wealth -  I know.  And if only I could tell you how much I've tried to set it all aside.  Don't think about it, don't worry about it, just enjoy what we have right now.  And then one day my baby girl is potty-trained, and I have a closet full of diapers on hand, and I'm a mess of tears because I don't have babies anymore, and I don't know what to do.  And I love my growing-up girls, and I love my growing freedom, and I love the possibilities.  And I miss my babies.  And with Jimmy and I growing older, and our girls growing older, and the pile of baby things in the garage growing larger, I don't want to wait.  I want to move on.  I want to do it now.

I just don't know which way to move.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

end of summer

packing up - the end of summer

Hey there.

I'm here.  I'm back.  A couple of weeks later than I hoped, but they were busy, family-steeped, and generally productive weeks.  You know, "productive" aside from the three or four days that the girls and I stayed indoors all day long in our pajamas, because pajama days don't count.  Unless you count helping my four-and-a-half-year-old put together her first 200-piece puzzle, building a living room fort, almost completely potty training my two-year-old, watching way too many episodes of Dora (with the volume turned waaaaaaay down, please), and losing two or three or four games of Memory to Lena, and not on purpose.  (I really did believe I was good at Memory until that stinker came along.)  Anyway, if you count all of that, then I have been SO productive!  And super comfy.

Summer was good to us, and I have no complaints outside of wishing I could have Jimmy home from work all of the time.  The girls are getting big enough that they are beginning to play together and laugh together.  I can see that sisterly bond growing strong, and I hope it never ever breaks.  They grew so much over the summer, too.  Lena learned to swim on her own in my parents' neighborhood pool, and Evie learned that she just loves being in the pool, period, even if her best trick is sinking like a rock.  Jimmy taught them that the ocean waves aren't really so frightening as they are a lot of fun to surf and jump and splash around in, and if you catch them doing it in their little bitty wetsuits they suddenly look strikingly like the California girls they are.  Evie learned to count to thirteen-ish, Lena learned to read Hop On Pop all on her own, and I was reminded once again that the earth spins at such an alarmingly fast rate that it is shocking we don't notice while it's happening.

Life is good.  The house is still small, the money still gets tight, our extended family is still too far away, the future is still uncertain (as it most certainly always will be).  But our own family feels more and more like Our Own Family, and I love it.  Love.  It.  Even our little house feels like home, despite overflowing closets and jammed kitchen drawers and a sofa that doesn't match the wall color and little girls growing too big for their crib and toddler bed setup.  I've had a lot of anxiety over the past months about the future, and over a certain personal decision - a topic I will be writing about next because I actually can't bear to NOT write about it anymore - but I wanted to come back to this place with affirmation:  Life is good for us at this moment.  And it has been good.  I have to remind myself of that fact on a regular basis, because like anyone else, I get too caught up in the scattered toys, dirty dishes, and late summer heat that is our everyday life at present.  And even more pressing than the dishes, it seems, is so much longing and desire for more in life, so many questions, so many worries, so many weighty things on my mind pretty much all of the time.  Those feelings and questions have to be important, right?  Because I can't dismiss them.  But I do try, as often as I can, to remind myself to look at the best parts of what we have at this moment.  And when I do....well....I want to live in this moment forever.