Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Matt and Kelley

Sunday night we had a house show for our new best friends Matt and Kelley. (grant is laughing right now because every time I meet really fantastic people I accuse them of being our new besties. really, I just want to be surrounded by people cooler then me) Kelly Mcrae has been touring the states performing and we were lucky enough to catch her between Brooklyn and Pittsburgh. The weather was perfect and we had the show outdoors, which ended up being perfect, as kiddos could run around and be noisy and it was much cooler then our un-air conditioned living room.

Sitting outside listening to music woke up a part of me that had been sleeping for a little while. Grant and I used to spend all our free time and money on shows, and geography and biology had put that passion on hold. But Purslane LOVED the music and put on quite a show of her own- laughing and clapping her hands after every song.

We are blessed with friends who dig the things we do, and it doesn't take much to convince them a perfect way to spend a Sunday evening is to light up the grill and listen to music. Friends bring friends- and everyone brings food, which for pregnant Mamas is happiness. Grant and I laid in bed that night enjoying the breeze coming through open windows and noshing on leftover potato chips and cookies. If there is a happy place for everyone- that is mine.

Friday, May 27, 2011


This morning Grant asked me if certain parts of Purslane's body would look like mine. Aside from being completely wierded out by the question, it made me go back and ponder the mystery that every once in a while blows my mind. This girl is made up of parts of me and parts of Grant. Together, we made a person. Our genes got together and formed something completely new to the world- a Purslane Claire.

And some things are obvious: she has the same hair Grant had when he was a babe- blond and curly. She has my smile and baby teeth- big and gappy. Her determined and stubborn nature we can't blame on either one of us- we both contributed. And then there are random things like the fact that she HATES napping- both of us love to sleep, so we are baffled. But she at one year would sit quietly while we read an entire book to her, which is also both of us. We are quite a nerdy, book-wormy family. She loves to eat, just like her Mama. She has a hard time relaxing and would rather be going, seeing and doing, just like her Dada. She fits beautifully in with our family, but is also adding her own color and making us evolve.

My new favorite thing is that she is learning to hug. She started with Grant- actually putting both arms around him and laying her head on his back. This absolutely rocks my world every time. And because she isn't really a cuddly baby, that 3 second hug is like a gift she is giving. She pauses just long enough to make Grant feel like the prince of her world, then she is off running, with her green wooden frog pull toy behind her.

I love this kid. I love the fact that she uses the pink purse that her Aunt LeeAnn got her for her birthday as a hat. I love that she can fall down two concrete steps, scrape up her shin- and then shake it off and climb right back up. I love that she is more likely to be friendly to a man with a beard then one clean shaven. I love that she can rally and be completely happy if there is a dinner party going on- even two hours past her bedtime. I love that she can tell if I have slipped in a piece of zucchini with her macaroni and selectively spit out the vegetable and keep the pasta.

She is definitely my daughter and even though I'm sure it will break my heart to watch her struggle with traits that I have passed on to her, hopefully as her Mama I will be able to walk her through them with whatever wisdom I have gathered. And the genes she got from her Dada will hopefully balance out the worst of mine.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Still Here...

I realized Saturday evening that I would have been fine with Jesus coming back at 6pm. Because if I had to live my perfect day, it would have been Friday. I spent the morning with Purslane eating yogurt and strawberries. Over a fantastic cup of coffee and sippee cup of juice, we watched the morning news and one episode of "A Baby Story" on TLC. Grant worked from home, which meant at any moment he might pop his head into whatever room we were playing in and Pursy would ask him to read Olivia for the 27 thousandth time. And he would do it- with the voices- every time.

We left around noon for Pittsburgh and stopped at Chick-Fil-A for lunch. Because I am pregnant I get to eat my sandwich with a side of fries AND a vanilla milkshake- and say it's what the baby wanted. And no one can judge me.

Grant made a playlist for our drive, and I fell asleep to Boat and the new Cave Singers album. I always fall asleep in the car.

When I woke up, we were almost in Pittsburgh and I crawled in the backseat with crabby Pursy and fed her applesauce. I love watching her chew applesauce- maybe the cutest thing in the universe.

We found a parking garage, walked across the Clemente Bridge at dusk and met Mom and Dad Martsolf at PNC Park for Purslane's first Pirates game. We ate fantastically crappy ball park food, watched the Pirates win 10-1, and Pursy fell asleep in the Baby Hawk on her Daddy's back on the way back to the car.

So maybe today I'm not with Jesus. Second best is my husband and daughter... and Ronny Cedeno.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Ode to a Great Nurse

It is always sad when one of the best is gone. When I started at Mount Nittany Medical Center almost 5 years ago- fresh out of nursing school and desperately wanting just to work in a clinic- HD was the first nurse to chill me out about working in Cardiology and Critical Care. She was crazy smart, always calm and steadfast, and respected by doctors and nurses alike. She loved nursing and had not let her almost 30 years of clinical practice sour her respect for what she did every day. She was kind, patient and the first one to smack you upside the head if you were doing something wrong. She did not tolerate laziness, sloppy patient care or shenanigans from doctors. Any patient she had ever touched was lucky to know her.

She oriented me when I started in the ICU. She made me feel confident but made sure I had a healthy fear of the job I had in front of me. She told me that if I ever walked in the door without a little flutter of fear in my chest that I should leave Critical Care. She said it would keep me on my toes and prevent careless errors.

She was passionate about education and was always behind any movement for evidence based practice and certification. She was old school in her patient care and progressive in her theory of practice. She supported her fellow nurses and would stand up to anyone who was giving you a hard time- provided you hadn't ask for it by doing something dumb in the first place.

HD- we will miss you around the unit. I always loved coming in to work and seeing your shoes outside your locker. That meant you were already on the unit either as charge nurse or working on the floor. Either way, your presence was a bright light and I was lucky to have been a coworker of yours. Let's have lunch soon.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Blue Valentine

Saturday afternoon I spent completely by myself. I went to see a movie, leisurely bought makeup, and almost bought a jean jacket that I am SO glad I passed up.. ran into at least 12 women over the course of the afternoon sporting the same jacket- which I HATE. So it wasn't anything mind-blowing, but I was alone. And I surprised myself by wishing more then once over those few hours that Grant and Purslane were with me- I missed them. But the feeling of being responsible for no one but myself was much needed. I love being a Mom and a Wife, but months go by before you realize that you haven't taken a truly deep breath because you are always making sure everyone around you is breathing.

I ended up buying Grant a present- the newly released Blue Valentine which has one of our favorite actors- Ryan Gosling- in the lead. After we put Pursy to bed, we snuggled up on the couch and watched a movie together. Two hours later, I am doing that kind of sobbing where you are grabbing the front of your shirt because it feels like your heart is falling out and you have to hold it in. This was one of the best movies I have seen- maybe since In America.

It is not a happy movie that makes you want to go stand over your babies crib and watch them sleep. It is the kind of movie that makes you want to grab them out of their crib and hold them as tight as you can because you need them to know you are still there. If you haven't seen this film, skip to the next paragraph because I am about to ruin the ending. The final scene, Ryan Gosling's character is walking away and his 5 year old daughter comes running after him and grabs onto his belt, trying to make him stay. All you hear is her little voice saying "Daddy, don't leave". Michelle Williams (Gosling's wife in the film) comes out of the house and goes after her daughter. She picks her up and whispers "Mommy's still here". The little girl's skinny bare legs are hanging down, and she buries her head in William's shoulder... sobbing.

This is not the point of the film- their daughter together is actually one of many side stories that made this film so intense and complex. The point of the film is their love story, and Grant and I found ourselves in the film- both happily and painfully. There is a conversation they have where he looks at her and says "You promised for better or worse. This is my worse. You can't leave because you promised". Grant and I held hands tighter and remembered where we have said very similar things to each other. Sometimes all you have in a marriage is the promise that you would stay together. Not that you feel like it or that things are clicking along so easily- but because goddammit you promised. And in that moment you find the grace of God the most present.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The best man for the job...

This morning Grant and I discovered that we don't agree on everything. This came as a huge shock.

We walked into the bathroom to find Pursy sitting in a puddle of toilet paper that she had been VERY happily pulling off the roll in the 27 seconds that she had been out of our sight. She looked up at us with a very proud grin and I immediately burst out laughing- at the exact moment that Grant let out a stern "Purslane, No Ma'am!".

We looked at each other in total surprise, and Pursy was confused as to which parent to respond to. I covered my mouth and said "Grant, you need to handle this one" and walked out of the bathroom- still laughing.

I listened outside the door while Grant explained wastefulness and proper respect for household goods to our one year old.. a speech I have given her myself several times over different things. Like when she is throwing blueberries on the floor or dragging clean laundry across the grass. But something about that little nugget sitting in a pile of toilet paper was just too much... and I am still laughing.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

An Adult Evening

Last night we had an impromptu dinner party with some friends and I happened to have all the ingredients for shrimp pad thai on hand... have never made before and usually don't trial Food and Wine recipes on other people (Grant can handle my culinary experiments) but they are cool folks and so I went ahead.

It was a perfect evening- the boys sat on the back porch with the babes while Kim and I worked on dinner, then all four of us put the finishing touches on the table, garnishing the pad thai and choosing the right beer. Today I keep thinking about how life changes... two years ago any dinner guests would have stayed until the alcohol was gone and the sun had long since set. We would probably have eaten some variation of pasta or ordered pizza and maybe watched whatever Netflix we had lying around. Last night they took off at 7 so we could put the babes to bed, I discovered I had duck sauce in my pantry and appropriate food on hand for a 7 month old and a 13 month old.

Growing up isn't so bad. We chatted about raising children, theology and some blog that Grant and Mark both read that had a particularly divisive post yesterday. And I realized that somewhere in the past 5 years, we grew up. We have a home we can open to guests, a child we are responsible for (and one on the way) and a marriage that is seasoned enough not to be rocked with every small problem. And though I can look back on our evenings with too much beer and not enough intellectual conversations with very fond memories, I like our grown up life.

And the pad thai was amazing.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

To be Strong

I was thinking this morning while sitting next to Pursy watching her eat her zucchini and blueberry muffin that one of my biggest jobs as her Mama will be to teach her what it means to be a strong woman. I believe this means more then just giving her the tools she will need to run her own life and be a productive member of society.

This means teaching her how to protect those weaker then her and not shying away from those stronger then her. It means modeling for her how to keep it together when all you want to do is lay on the floor and melt down. (this urge does not go away as you get older, by the way.. there have been many days when I want to join her in her screaming protest against being put in pajamas or being "encouraged" to eat peas when she wants more peaches). Being a strong woman sometimes means keeping your mouth shut when you know trying to defend yourself against injustice will only make things worse. A strong woman does what she knows is right- even when it is the hardest thing to do, and no one will praise you for it. It might even make your life harder.

I hope for my daughter that when she is a 31 year old woman and maybe a Mama herself, that she has people around her that support her in her decisions and remind her that the only approval she needs to seek is from God. I have a wrinkly old post-it note framed on my dresser that was left on my car windshield almost 7 years ago by my dear friend Shannon. It says "Don't ever forget that you are an amazing woman. You are priceless to me".  This simple sentiment has given me courage on days when I doubt even my most basic of life decisions. Every time I look at it, I am reminded of my worth as a human being and my place in relation to the other human beings in my life.

So here is my hope for Purslane Claire. I hope that she grows up confident in her place as a child of God and her place in relationship to others. I hope that she is strong enough to carry her own burdens and have strength left to help others to do the same. I hope that she knows how valuable she is to us and thus does not need to search for affirmation and affection from vagabonds in her life that will not stay. I hope she knows that she can do anything she sets her mind to and that we will love her regardless of her life choices. I hope that there will be 2AM phone calls to her Dad where they talk through things and she knows that he only wants what is best for her. I hope that she LOVES humankind and serves her church and community. And I hope that when she falls down she is not destroyed and gets back up and tries again.

I love this little girl and pray for wisdom every night to be strong enough to be her Mama.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day 2011

Hard to say what my favorite part of this day was. Was it Pursy pretending to eat the freckles off my arm while we snuggled in bed this morning, or was it Grant whisking her away for breakfast and news watching while I slept in until almost 9?...

It could definitely have been the letter Grant wrote to me giving me his observations of the past year and the specific qualities he loves about how I mother Purslane.

On a more superficial but delicious note, who could fault me if my favorite part of Mother's Day was the asparagus and swiss omelet with amazing home fries brunch at Elk Creek Cafe? Made better only by the sweet company of our friends Shannon and Steve and their twins Fiona and Will, who ran around after Pursy so I could enjoy aforementioned omelet...

And then there was the hour our family spent playing in the backyard- Purslane trying to figure out dandelions and Grant running away from the bird who has taken a territorial liking to our back porch and divebombs him every time he walks outside. I planted my herb container garden and soaked it all in.

Maybe my favorite part will be in a few days when my necklace that Grant designed from an artist in CA arrives and I have a permanent reminder of Mother's Day 2011.

It was all pretty fantastic. And now sitting still for the first time today, Babe #2 has decided to wake up and remind me that next year he/she will be in my arms instead of tucked inside my belly. As if today couldn't have been any more precious...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Today is for You

Four years ago today I was graduating from Nursing School. You had spent 18 months working tremendously hard at the Advisory Board so I could focus on school, and I credit you with my success and my 3.7 GPA. Being able to singularly focus on school was a huge gift from you and I loved you for it.

Today you are defending your dissertation proposal and I am so proud of you. You are so close to a PhD, and you have not had the luxury of being singularly focused. You have helped me maintain a strong and passionate marriage, you have been a fantastic father to our daughter, you have picked up dog poo in the backyard and did the final cleaning on our old house when we moved. While I give you a hard time about your crappy breakfasts you grab at UniMart, I am so grateful for the mornings you leave the house early so you can be home at 5 to eat dinner with us. You have invested in new friendships and spent time with the guys you already have in your life. You support your church, even when our community hard to love. And at the end of the day, you find the energy to read Goodnight Moon to Pursy without making the old lady whispering Hush too creepy.

I love you so much more then I ever thought I would. I was crazy about you 8 years ago, and today feel so blessed to be your friend and wife. You still make my heart flutter a little when you walk through the door, and I love the life we have created together. You are the man of my dreams.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Is it an end?

Last night I was up with Pursy at 2AM, fell asleep with her on the couch holding her upright so she could breathe through the mucous filling her sinuses, and woke up this morning at 6. Since there was nothing I could do about my exhaustion, I decided to go grocery shopping.

Grant had to call me to tell me Bin Laden had been found and killed. We actually found out that State College had mini riots last night- 8 blocks from our house and we slept through them. I wonder how many huge events in history are missed by exhausted parents of one year old children.

So today I read a blog that talked about the author (who lives in NYC)'s feelings of sadness about this big news. He talked about how the jubilation going on outside his window at Ground Zero sounded hollow. He admitted that a small part of him felt like a chapter had finally been closed, but how much shorter and less bloody the chapter could have been if this would have happened in 2002 or even 2003. He gave statistics of civilians and military lives that have been lost in the last almost 10 years of war on terror. He talked about the moral compromises America had made in the name of justice and 9/11. He talked about how "democracy" which used to be so cut and dry had become almost a fuzzy term, when America can invade whenever and however they want.

I feel sober. I don't know exactly if I feel anything else, or if I agree with him completely. I know that in 2001 I wanted our troops to go find the orchestrator of 9/11 and make everything right. I also know that as the years went on, my support waned and my criticism increased. I lost faith in what we were doing in the Middle East, and I felt more and more that we were dealing with a culture that could not be more different from our own- and we expected them to act like us. I grew critical of a president that I voted for, and changed my political affiliation in 2008 to see if the Democrats had any better ideas. I also very honestly recognize that I was not personally affected by this- I knew no one that died at the World Trade Centers, and everyone that I have known in the military that was/is deployed has come home safely thus far. I have the luxury of thinking about the last 10 years from a distance.

So I agree that today we should celebrate a little. It is always good to see a little glimpse of justice in this crazy world. And this was a big one. But justice is not ultimately fulfilled at the hands of human beings. It is fulfilled in Christ, and He is the only bringer of justice.