Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Favorite Things Ed. VI

Late again... Tuesday morning is close enough to Monday morning, yes?

This week I am going sans pictures and doing a legit list. My favorite things this week:

1. My husband. I woke up Saturday morning to my best friend's children climbing on my bed shouting "surprise Aunt Christy!" and her sweet self standing at the bedside. Grant had asked me what I wanted for my birthday and in a moment of loneliness and self-pity I said "friends". So he brought Alex, Becki and the boys down from State College for the weekend. He is full-on awesome.

2. Salted Caramel Mocha iced coffee from Coffee Street Roasters. I just discovered this exists and every other coffee drink now tastes apathetic and meek.

3. Purslane waking up from a nap and stumbling down the stairs yelling "Mama Snuggle!!". I love being bossed around..

4. Thursday morning Bible Study. These women are gold and starting to connect me with my neighborhood community. I had a 20 minute conversation with Mim last week that grounded me in reality and Jesus. Also got the feeling if she saw me doing or saying something she didn't approve of she would smack me upside the head. I kind of like that..

5. Knox wearing the same slippers Pursy wore at this age.. I remember not being able to keep them on her slim little feet and at the end of the day there are lines in his fat ankles from where the elastic hugged him.

6. Getting into things with Grant. He and I have been struggling recently to find things to get into together- my days at home and his at work are completely different and when he comes home, our focus is on the babes. We recently started deconstructing cocktails and trying new ones. Sunday night during the season premiere of Mad Men we made an Old Fashioned and sipped slowly, feeling very fantastic indeed.

7. Preston Caleb Parks. This sweet guy came 3 weeks early just so I could meet him during a 2 day visit to State College. I am already his favorite Auntie...

Alright, one little picture...

Little Man rolled over!!

Monday, March 26, 2012


Last night at 7:30 more than 12 shots were fired before the shooter hit his target. A mother lost her son, an aunt lost her nephew and revenge was served in a neighborhood where children play in front yards. My children.

Two weeks ago there was a shooting at WIPC- the psych hospital connected to Presbyterian Hospital- where I spend every Friday night on the 3rd floor. Last week the shooting that created last night's retaliation was 3 blocks away- last night's was across the street.

I do not know how to process, so I write. I am afraid and sad. After three months I already love this neighborhood. Before we moved here we committed to this city. We knew that East Liberty wasn't as "safe" as State College, but most places aren't.

I pray every night over Purslane and Knox that I would trust that God loves them more than I do. I pray for wisdom and patience to be their Mama and try to remember that I accepted God's covenant over them when I baptized them. I think I have also admitted on this blog that under my breath I beg that He would never really ask me to fully let go of them.

But both of the shootings in our neighborhood happened during times when we could have been out for a walk. Last week we were walking at the exact time and place where a young man died last night. I am not in control. I am being asked to fully let go and trust that God called us here.

And I don't want to. I want a guarantee from God that if I read the Bible to Pursy every night and take them to church and Bible Study and love Grant and serve the church and cook meals for homeless men that He will protect us. But I am too reformed to say that out loud- I know that all I can do is say the prayer I say every night and believe it.

God, please help me to believe that You love my children more than I do.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

My Favorite Things Ed. V

I know I am super late on this one, but Knox is going through this season of REALLY not wanting to be put down and it is crazy difficult to write a blog post one handed with an almost 18 pound babe in the other arm. After two failed attempts and loads of misplaced frustration I gave up and the days have passed. Our downstairs is now filled with a baby swing, an exersaucer, a bouncy seat, a play gym, a portable highchair- all trying to entice Knox to allow his fat little body to be cradled by something other than my frail human arms. No dice- the little man wants his Mama. And so I throw out one more baby raising book telling me I am turning my children into heroin addicts and dropouts by not letting them soothe themselves- and I hold him. Recognizing that before I know it, he will be running across the floor on his way to soccer practice and maybe forgetting to hug me goodbye. I did this with Purslane too and she is too independent and fearless for her own good... kids are going to be who they are going to be, whether I get to breathe in their sweet baby head smell for 10 hours straight or not.

For those of you who use pictures of my children as a reason to get out of bed on Monday mornings, my apologies. But I'm here now.. so here we go. My favorite things- Edition 5.

 My babes making each other laugh...
 This face...
 Hello Kitty Bandaids for Pursy and Pooh...
 A morning snuggle... really wish I could take myself out of this picture but at 6AM this is the best I got.
 Pursy teaching Knox how to use the Jump-N-Jive...
 Sous Chef...
 Fat dimples on fat hands...
 I don't really know what to say. I just love it.
 Believe it or not this is the best photo in a series of really unflattering ones... my dearest friend Julia and I really late at night...
 Coloring is serious business...
 "Helping" Dada weed...
 My son, Knox Thomas Steele.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Be the Leaf

I have been feeling pretty blue lately. Feeling sorry for myself and whatnot. Whiny diatribes to Grant at night lying in bed about how no one in the universe has fewer friends then me, no woman has ever lost post baby weight slower then me, no one's babes sleep less then mine, no one's Subaru makes more noise when the power steering fluid is low then mine, no one's french press has ever broken at a worse time then mine.. we call these episodes "White Whine"- basically to remind me that the universe is not targeting me and maybe a little perspective would shut me up. Grant usually listens as long as it takes to discern that there are no serious issues going on and if that is the case says something along the lines of "that TOTALLY reminds me of this story I read in the Economist today about an orphanage in Haiti that is having a really difficult time finding access to clean water after the earthquakes... sorry, what were you saying about the spacebar on the computer sticking sometimes?"....dun, dun, duuunn...White Whine.

Tonight one of dearest friends is coming into town for the weekend. She and I met on the volleyball court at the New Kid Mixer night at Colorado Christian University. In 1999. She is going through some legitimately tough times and is coming to be loved on and spend some time in my world. This is not the time to talk about my sleepless nights or leftover baby belly. It is time for me to woman up and support her. I saw this on my kitchen table today and found it appropriate.

I will be the Leaf. Strong and supportive.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Lucky for Her....

Today is a rough one for Purslane Claire and her Mama. She has a difficult time most days settling down for a nap and today was not havin' it at all. She stood in her room and screamed until she kicked down her baby gate separating her world of naptime imprisonment from freedom in the rest of the house. Every time she did this aggravating maneuver and I had to put down soundly sleeping Knox (who immediately woke up and started crying) to put her back in her room, I felt myself getting more and more angry. How is it fair that the toddler stage is the most crucial in terms of introducing little humans to limits and rules so they can function in civilized society- and parents must perform that task without the tools of reason and explanations???

If only I could explain to her how miserable she is going to feel in 2 hours when her stubbornness cannot sustain her through an afternoon without sleep. If only I could know that she understood the choice she is making when I tell her that if she kicks down that gate again we will not spend our afternoon at the library because I refuse to put myself on display when the inevitable sleep deprived meltdown occurs. (which of course is an ultimatum that hurts me more than it hurts her)

So after an hour of the back and forth of screaming, gate-kicking down, correction, returning to room, stern talking-to's.. I accept that she is not going to nap today and all the above are now in effect. The afternoon is stretching in front of me like a hot muggy walk where the destination isn't worth the slog. There are no cold beers in my future, no finger painting with a happy well-rested toddler, no naps on the couch- no rest for the weary. Just another afternoon of playing defense with an almost two year old whose stubborn streak is maddeningly similar to mine.

And just when that reality begins to overtake me, I look over and see Purslane getting a frying pan out of the cupboard. She places it on the floor, sits in it and begins to scoot her way across the kitchen floor saying "Looka me Mama! Pursy funny..."   Lucky for her, I find her in that moment pretty damn funny.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Crazy to Love You

This Leonard Cohen song title is how I want to tell Grant to feel about me. I want to remind him that there are women out there who have their shit together- who probably shave their legs on a regular basis or at least don't wear dresses and tights if they don't. There are women who would jump at the chance to scratch his back every night or at least not say "when was the last time you rubbed MY back?"every time he asked. There are women who would iron his suits every night instead of claiming that she never learned to iron, as if it was too late to teach an old wife new tricks. There are women who do not resort to name calling while fighting or remember to pay bills on time so he wouldn't have to stress about anything else. There are women who don't consider sitting next to each other on the couch watching Chopped a hot date.

In other words, Grant would be crazy not to recognize it would be way better with someone else who wasn't a selfish hot mess.

Instead he makes me playlists on Spotify so I don't have to spend time I don't have finding new music. He empties the dishwasher at midnight so I don't have to do it in the morning. He scrubs the inside of the dryer drum after a crayon decorated it a bright "classic red". He hassles me about finding a babysitter so he can take me on dates- and when we can't find anyone he makes us cocktails and holds my hand while we listen to records. He is crazy to love me. But I knew he was a little crazy when I married him- I think I was hoping it would turn toward me.. I just didn't know how thankful I would be that it did.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

That Is A Mama

With one babe who needs monitoring at all times or she will set the house on fire and one babe who is happy happy until I put him down and then screams like I have laid him on a bed of nails and scorpions- I don't get to read/watch much of the daily news. I used to love CNN in the morning with a cup of coffee (or two) but I do  not even know what channel it's on anymore.

My whiff of the news now comes from Yahoo news, which happens to be the home page our computer is set on. What this usually means is I get a celebrity update, a YouTube sensation update (usually something about cats) and possibly the shocking news that Rick Santorum had a gay lover for 10 years prior to announcing his presidential run. I didn't even know about the tornadoes that wrecked havoc in the Midwest until yesterday. 

And today, I read this:

This woman wrapped her two children up in a blanket and covered them with her own body while the tornado destroyed their house. All three lived, but she lost one leg above the knee and one leg below the knee when debris crushed her lower half. This woman will never walk on her own feet again- but her children are alive and unharmed. That is a Mama. I can only image she had about 2 minutes to devise a plan to save her children with no idea whether or not the power of the tornado would make her efforts useless. I say I love my babes a hundred times a day- this woman will never have to say it again. Her children will look at her every day and know without a doubt she loves them more than anything.

If that story was a little too much for you to handle, there is this breaking news story which Yahoo news featured right after the story above:

Monday, March 5, 2012


.. what one simple act of self-love can do. In my crazy days, my thoughts rarely turn to my personal attire or physical beauty. I accept that I am carrying around extra baby weight, that my bangs need trimmed and that too many of my shirts are from the clearance rack at Target and chosen for their size and sensibility rather than expressing personal style. Whatever.

What I cannot accept is when I look down and see unpainted toenails. I immediately feel like a harried mother with Mom jeans who ate string cheese and a Capri Sun for breakfast. (which I do not and have not) Something about not being able to take 5 minutes to paint my toenails makes me feel out of control of my life in a way that very little else does. I can handle clean laundry sitting in a basket for days on end, turning ends of the loaf of bread around so Grant can't see that he is eating a sandwich made out of the last and undesirable pieces, and I can even handle tucking Purslane's too-short jeans into her boots and calling her a hipster rather than the daughter of a woman who hasn't purchased the next size up yet. I MANAGE my crazy beautiful life just fine- playing catch up and cover up with grace and courage.

But I cannot abide unpainted toenails. My Grandfather used to say that you can tell a lady by her feet- I think there is really something to that. In State College my favorite salon offered a $15 pedicure that was polish change only, and I often indulged in those "panic pedis" because in those 15 minutes my life went from anarchy to a merciful dictatorship in which I controlled my destiny and the destiny of my adoring subjects. Post-pedicure, I was immediately patient, loving and kind.

So yesterday when I should have been feeding my children breakfast, I let Grant take over and I sat on the edge of my tub and painted my toenails a 1950's pin-up lipstick red. And I went barefoot around the house all day just so I could see them and remember that one little act of self-love can change the world. My world anyway. Here is what I imagine I look like today:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Today I Am...

...exhausted and sleep deprived from almost 3 months of waking up at least twice a night with a crying babe.

...dying to go for a run- the weather is gray and a little chilly- perfect for a brisk run. Maybe another day.

...wishing I could fit into my old jeans- they always made me feel sexy.

...worried about money and whether or not I should be working more than one day a week.

...looking at the crumbs stuck in something around the garbage can and wishing Knox would let me put him down long enough to clean the floor

... thinking about the pile of books on my bedside table and wondering when I will have more than 4 minutes to sit and read something

...trying to remember if anyone told me how hard it was going to be to give up all the things that I thought defined me as a person in order to have children

...not even looking at the newest Pittsburgh magazine that came yesterday because it will be full of shows we can't go to, restaurants we can't eat at and things we can't do because we only have a small handful of people we can ask to babysit

...watching Purslane eat lunch and being amazed that I have a daughter old enough to sit in her chair and eat a peanut butter sandwich.

...emptying the dishwasher because I know Grant appreciates a little order in the chaos and I want any energy I have left over to go to making him feel like we have been waiting all day for him to come home.

...missing a dear friend who just left my house after a surprise 24 hour visit.

...thanking Knox for pooping 5 times already today and giving me the chance to admire his bare, fat little legs. my chubby post partum body a gentle hug and thanking it again for carrying two beautiful babes to term.

...grateful for tinted Burt's Bees chapstick that makes it look like I put lipstick on.

...loving the life I never knew I wanted.