Monday, November 28, 2011

Everyone Needs a Special Place

I know my last few blog posts have been a little shallow... I just haven't had the time or the mental wherewithall to take my usual care with writing. Please accept as my apology these pictures of my daughter taking advantage of the kitchen being packed up and the resulting empty cupboards.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Things I Definitely Did Right

As it is Thanksgiving week, I decided to count my blessings in a narcissitic way. By congratulating myself on my wisdom and good decision making that has allowed my life to be so full of goodness and love. Let's begin.

First of all, my husband Grant. I met this bearded beauty in August of 2002 while we were both working night shift at Denver Children's Hospital. He was post-college and looking for some space to hike and camp, and I was "finding myself" in the Rocky Mountains and a BA in Anthropology. We were all wrong for each other from the start but were drawn like moths to a flame. We fell in love all over the western US- Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico, Colorado.. everywhere we set up a campsite or hiked a trail was the foundation of our romance. We fought constantly, made out even more, and finally married each other during a thunderstorm in Ohio. We became best friends in New Orleans, got our shit together in Washington DC and started a family in State College, PA. Grant is the best decision I ever made.

Second, my babes Purslane Claire and Knox Thomas Steele. Becoming a mother changed my life in every possible way. It changed my body, my priorities, my focus, my job, my life plans- basically these children took my selfish heart and melted it around their tiny hands. Having children is the most painful honor ever bestowed on a woman- starting with their entry into the world. But from the moment these babes left my body and the intense pride came over me at having birthed a child, I knew I was strong enough to be a mother. And every day that I wake up and feel the weight of responsibility on my shoulders, I know that I can either go about my task with courage or be crushed under it. So I pray for wisdom and patience- then get to work. Because these babes make my world go round. Pursy and Knox are the second best decision I ever made.

Thirdly, my decision to become a nurse. One of the many reasons why Grant is the best decision I ever made is that he was somehow given a unique ability to understand my colorful parade of individuality. He gets me. So when I was filling out my application to graduate school for a MS in English, he flat out told me that was the wrong career for me. He encouraged me to go back to nursing school, which I did but only after thinking about it just long enough that it looked like my idea. I have been a nurse for almost 5 years now and though I would be foolish to claim that every shift with every patient has been a beautiful miracle, I have found a life work that plays to every one of my strengths. I am good at being a nurse. It is the third best decision I have ever made.

Fourthly, my decision to open my heart to women. (no... keep reading). When I met Grant, I had exactly three lady friends- two of which lived across the country. All my friends were guys- including my best friend and confidant. I loved setting myself apart by loudly proclaiming that I didn't understand women and perferred the company of men who were less emotional and didn't care that I didn't shave my legs. Did I mention that I was studying Anthropology at the University of Colorado... i.e. I was a pseudo-hippie. Not the political vegan kind, just the vegetarian hemp-wearing drum circle kind. Grant didn't care about my perference for male company and told me to get some girlfriends. Thus for the past 7 years I have been collecting the most marvelous assortment of female friends- from dramatic Margo in Orlando to southern sugar Becki in State College to loyal Julia in Denver to smartass Tiffany in Ohio- amazing women come out of the woodwork when you put yourself out there. Becoming a woman's woman is the fourth best decision I have ever made.

And because I love John Cusack in High Fidelity, I will make this a Top Five list. The fifth best decision I ever made was to start eating meat. It sounds trivial, but after 13 years of thinking, planning, and cooking vegetarian, the freedom that has come from eating whatever I want and whatever is served to me has been monumental. I have enjoyed Grant's 12 hour labor of love smoking a pork shoulder, simplified my favorite Pad Thai by making it with fish sauce, and discovered the magic that is a beautifully executed buffalo burger. Becoming an omnivore is the fifth best decision I have ever made.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow narcissists who have also made private lists of their personal triumphs that they are thankful for... now share them with the world.

Much love-

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

the Cheese Man

Purslane's favorite food staple (for many months now) is cheese. Cheese in every shape and size- from the humble string cheese to the exotic Gouda- that girl loves her cheese. Our local grocery store offers free cookies to babes at the bakery, but we bypass that every week for the cheese counter and her best friend, the Cheese Man. We gave him this title and he seems to like hearing it come out of her sweet mouth.. followed by a frantic string of "pees, pees, pees, pees" (Please) as if on this particular day, he would forget to give her a slice of white American or Colby Jack.

She sits in the front of the cart and happily eats her treasure- giving me a good 3 minutes of peace from her grabbing my grocery list, my pen, the front of my shirt or whatever she can reach on the shelves around her. Grocery shopping with her is like intense mud wresting with a really cute octopus.

With FOUR of her molars making their appearance at once, Pursy has been more selective then usual about what she will eat. She is even refusing some of her favorite fruits- apples and pears, which she eats seeds and all, and sometimes the stem if I don't catch it first. Fortunately for her growth and development, she will always eat cheese and if hungry enough, some bread and butter. Her diet is starting to resemble a Parisian aristocrat. But I feel like it is healthier then some kids who get stuck on one food- my nephew keeps Heinz in business and us entertained with dinners like ketchup sandwiches. My sister in law picks her battles and passes him another gummy vitamin.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Still Have the Ace...

Last night we had our small group over for dinner- Grant made chicken masala (yummy) and we all sat around our big kitchen table and laughed our heads off. These people are salt of the earth. My best friends and the sort of humans you can talk about topics like child molesters (we are enduring a sad time in HappyValley) and Dawson's Creek (thank you for that, Alex) over the same dinner and somehow everything is alright.

At one point during the meal, someone commented that they had never known me not pregnant- i.e. able to drink alcohol. My dear friend Bec leaned over to me and said "I could tell some stories about drinking with you..." and we both threw our heads back and laughed because we both knew exactly the times she was probably talking about. More then likely there was a game of quarters involved and definitely there were darts and cigars.

The night ended and of course Becki was the last to leave- but not before a parting comment about the size of my boobs. I was left in a quiet house with a sleeping Knox while Grant went to go collect Pursy from the babysitters. The laundry and dishes can wait- I sit down to let the happiness of the evening linger a little more.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Life. The 2AM version.

I should be sleeping. Knox is back asleep after nursing but will be awake in 3 hours and I should be sleeping.

But he is 3 weeks old today and I am just now starting to think about things other then baby. My head is clearing, my body is healing and suddenly the other part of myself- the 31 year old woman part- is freaking out just a little. Because next weekend my little brother is getting married and I haven't really had time to ponder that. I remember the day he came home from the hospital, I remember how he used to call those little Fisher Price plastic people "beeble", I remember helping him with his paper route and I remember the day he graduated from High School. He is a man now and found himself a good woman- and now they have a gift registry together with table settings and towels. He is getting married. And as life goes, I have been living mine in sundry locations across the country for the past 16 years and I haven't talked to him as much as I wish I would have. I don't know things about him that I wish I did. But I do know that he is crazy happy and is going into this whole marriage business with a clear head. I do know that he is going to be a good husband.

I am also looking at the empty walls in the living room where pictures used to hang. Grant has already started packing things up in the anticipation that the next 6 weeks are going to pass by quickly- and I think he is right. I have known for a while now that we are moving to Pittsburgh- he went the weekend after Knox was born and bought us a house, so it's official. And I am so excited for his new job and the end of grad school for him. I am excited about returning to urban living, good Thai food right around the corner, a cool Children's Museum and miles of sidewalks to walk, Art theatres and music venues, and my pick of state of the art hospitals. Pittsburgh is going to be good to our family, I know it. But for the first time maybe in my entire adult life, I don't want to leave a place- not because I am in love with State College but because I have family here. I have sisters that knew me before babies, trudged through pregnancy with me, and have now been raising my babes with me. Those are the girls you want to hold on to forever. And I know that Happy Valley is a transient place- in 5 years none of these people will still be here. Grad school will end, jobs will move and we will be sending Christmas cards to each other across the country. But it is pretty utopian right now- dinners at each others houses, walks downtown, church together every Sunday. And being KNOWN. We have lived here for almost 5 years and are reaping the benefits of all those times we put ourselves out there and hoped someone would meet us halfway. We have a true community and I love these people with all my heart. Grant and I used to joke about how hard it was to make friends when you are married because you aren't just trying on one person, you are figuring out if your spouse likes their spouse and if the four of you are compatible. I count Alex, Sam, Mark and Bill as some of my closest friends and am very aware of how rare that is. Our friends have strengthened our marriage by being so transparent in their own. In my wildest dreams, the 2.5 hour drive to Pittsburgh won't change any of these friendships and I know at their core it won't- but it won't be the same. There will be "catching up" phone conversations and major life events that will have to be viewed as a photo album on facebook.

Pittsburgh, you have some work to do. Bring out your best people and get them ready to put themselves out there- because I am going to need some.

Okay, tears flowing freely and really need to go to bed before little man wakes up again. This is life at 2AM.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Hip Hop Lovin'

I feel like I should be turned off by the girl audition in this video but can't stop listening to this song.  Makes me want to jump on the dance floor with Monica.. how bout it, girl?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Rip Van Winkle

My babe is 2 weeks old today. I go back and forth between being amazed at how new he still is and feeling like he has been in our lives forever. It is much different this time around- now at night when I put him to sleep in his bassinet at the foot of our bed, I crawl under the covers and fall sound asleep myself. When Pursy was two weeks old, I would stand over her for hours just watching her breathe to make sure the next one came. I have more faith in Knox, and thus am far less sleep deprived. I also find myself being much more comfortable with doing things one-handed.. with two babes under the age of 2 my arms are very rarely void of a child.

I have spent the last two weeks listening fondly to messages from dear friends wishing us congratulations- then saving them for another day without returning the call or email. These two weeks were my time to heal (4 hour speed labor requires a little TLC to my lady parts), help Purslane adjust after her world got rocked with the presence of her brother, and allow both of my mothers to serve our little family. I let go of my need to control the grocery shopping, what P ate for breakfast, how I like to do laundry, how much cream I take in my coffee, where I keep things in the kitchen.. I allowed others to take over the rest of my life so I could lay on our bed and watch Knox open his eyes and look around. And when Pursy wasn't being doted on by her grandmothers, she was in the bedroom with me pointing out Knox's eyes, toes and belly for the millionth time. That girl loves her new brother. It is a suffocating, intense kind of love- one that would definitely kill him if we weren't there to pull her off his face, but her interest in him has been sweet rather then jealous- for which I am so happy.

So I return to the world with a feeling of intense thankfulness for TWO healthy babes, a husband that adores and takes care of all of us and a renewed sense of peace in the face of chaos. I remind myself at least once an hour that puzzle pieces on the floor will hurt no one and string cheese for breakfast is better then coffee alone. It will take me a little while to adjust and get things running smoothly around here, but eventually I will learn where to find the 30 seconds to put my mascara on in the bathroom rather then the front seat of the car.

So hello again world- I may have a hat on for the 4th day in a row, but I have yet to recycle underwear or wear a skirt with unshaved legs. Two weeks out, I think I am doin' alright.