Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Night That You Were Born

When I was younger, every night before my birthday my Daddy (your Pop) would tell me the story of my birth and now I will do the same for you, Gracie Lou...

You were scheduled to be born on December 29th, but I knew all along that you wouldn't miss the chance to be here by Christmas.  Even so, when the doctor called late at night on December 21st and told your daddy and me to get to the hospital the next day because you were going to be born, I couldn't even finish my spaghetti...and that is really saying something.  I was SO excited and nervous because we had waited so long for you.

Finally, finally, finally, at 2:20 pm on December 22nd, 2011 we got to meet you for the very first time. Gracie Lou, one day you will grow up and have your own babies and know what that moment is like...the moment your world changes forever and you know that you will never be the same.  Your Daddy and I just stared and stared at you.  Then they told us not to worry, they had to take you away to get you all checked out and we wouldn't be able to hear you for a while.  Well, the were wrong about that! We heard you all right, and probably the whole hospital did too.  You have never liked being taken away from "your people".

Later, when everybody was gone and Daddy was sleeping in his very uncomfortable hospital chair/bed, I just sat and memorized every little thing about you.  You were so tiny and had the most perfect little rosebud lips. I could not believe that I was lucky enough to be your Mama. You have taught us so much this year Gracie, and it all started on the night that you were born. 

Together at last!

One Happy Daddy!

If only I could figure out how to move my hands, this thing would be outta here

Do I LOOK like I am enjoying this?


 Perfection

What is it with these people and rabbits?


Ready for my close-up

Baby Punk

Woot Woot in my Bathing Suit!

Quack Attack

 Whatdya mean no cookies for breakfast?

This be my Daddy

 Vaguely Terrifying

Love him so so much

Hurry Mama! It's cake!!

Okay, what's the big idea?

I'm cute and I know it


 My peeps.  They're pretty good.


Monday, December 17, 2012

Not Enough

I know good and well that no words I have will be enough to bring peace to the families who have suffered such unimaginable tragedy in Connecticut last week.

I thought about not mentioning anything, but I think that is how the grieving end up so lonely sometimes...when we are too afraid to say the wrong thing, so we say nothing at all.

So I will say the words that are so far from enough...
I am praying for your peace
I am praying that the world lets you talk about your children without prying
I am praying that you receive meals on your doorsteps to nourish your bodies and your souls
I am so sorry for your loss, and I am praying.

These words are not enough...but my parents taught me, as I will teach my child, as I am sure the parents who are faced with so much sadness and loss today taught their precious children...

You do whatever you can to help those around you, you always try your best, and you never give up.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Nothing and No One

Yesterday, I read this post by another Mama who lost her baby and it really hit home.  These are many of the same thoughts I have been having this year, and she said them much more eloquently than I was planning to, so I asked if I could borrow her words and she graciously agreed.

At times, I have mixed emotions about my blog. Can I be the happy mama who posts pictures of her adorable (if I do say so myself) baby girl and the Carlton dance when the week before I was talking about losing my firstborn?  It is certainly a true reflection of who I am on the inside these days, but I do wonder how that will change as time goes on.

A friend once told me that her grandmother, who had five children- four living and one who died shortly after birth, was still talking about the child she lost when she died well into her 80's.  And for what it is worth, I found that comforting.

Because I don't want to forget.  Not in an unhealthy way...I recently went to dinner with three other women who recently lost babies (weren't we a fun bunch!), and told them that the overwhelming, debilitating sadness about losing Rip is gone.  Nothing so extreme, bad or good, can last forever and thank goodness for that.  But mothers don't forget their children.  Last night I was reading a book by Dorthea Benton Frank and the first line brought tears to my eyes:

"I will tell you the one thing I have learned in my thirty-something years that is an absolute truth: nothing and no one in this entire world matters more to a sane woman than her children"

I don't know what my life will look like years from now (let's be honest, I barely know what I am doing tomorrow). I have the same fears about what my grief might look like then, I don't know if I will be able to write about it, or talk about it.  But I agree with good old Dottie Frank, as mothers (and we can use the term sane loosely here), our children will always matter more than anything in this entire world.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Oooh Oooh Oooh Oohh Ooh Ooh Ooh (or the Charlie Brown Christmas Song)

At first, when I was planning Gracie's birthday and Christmas this year, I was all...



Then, when I realized I had less than two weeks left and had yet to do One. Single. Thing. (this is not an exaggeration)
I was all...


So, I took to my usual standbys in times of crisis...

Eating...

and being highly irritated with anybody and everybody...

but before long, I realized that it doesn't really matter.  My baby is turning one, Christmas is coming, and I have a lot to be thankful for ...


So watch out Christmas, I'm back and I'm ready for you (in the least literal sense of the words).
Ooh Ooh Ooh Ooh ooh ooh ooh

Friday, December 7, 2012

Enough...Enough Now

My very favorite holiday movie is Love Actually, I try to watch it at least once every year.  For some reason the part where the character Mark is walking away from Keira Knightley's character, after sharing one longed for kiss and realizing he has to let his love for her go, and says "Enough...enough now" always brings tears to my eyes.

It's such a universal human emotion, coming to terms with what we cannot have, learning to live with what is.

This week has been one thing after the other, cars in the shop, plans unfulfilled, Christmas not coming (at least in the form of a tree or presents in our house yet), and some downright low spirits.

And then yesterday, a dear friend getting some devastating news.

Earlier in the week (when I was still on a holiday high, unaware of what the week may hold), my daily devotional gave instructions on what to do in dark times, I was to say out loud "God's presence is in this."

And so I do, even when saying it may feel like strangling on razor blades.

I do, even when it feels like my body is dragging through quicksand all the while.
I do, even when I question how it could possibly be so.

I do, because it has to be enough...enough now.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mama Didn't Raise No Fool

Gracie has been having a little diaper rash issue (which I am sure she will be thrilled that I shared over the world wide web one day), so last Friday I called the doctor and made a mid-day appointment.

I also called Gracie's daycare and asked them to prepare her mid-day bottle a little early because, as previously discussed, girl doesn't like to miss a ba-ba.

When I arrived at "school" said ba-ba was nice and warm and Gracie was thrilled to see me.  I settled back in a chair, ready to feed her before hopping in the car when I noticed her teacher looking at me, wide-eyed.

"Are you going to hold that for her?!"

Upon affirming that yes I was planning to hold the bottle per our usual routine, she just shook her head and laughed.

"We usually just hand her the bottle and she goes into a corner, drinks it, and brings it back."

This was news to me.  I have been rocking and feeding this baby every bottle that has ever touched her little rosebud mouth for the past 11 months.  Don't get me wrong, I love doing it...it's just that she so clearly has me right where she wants me.

Over the weekend, I tried not holding the bottle, just to see what would happen.  We both watched as it dangled loosely from her mouth.  She looked at me...I looked at her.  I will let you guess which one of us caved first.

Maybe I should be more concerned, but I feel sure that she will move on to other things to bamboozle me into doing as time goes on.  Mama didn't raise no fool.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Not to Worry...

I haven't forgotten about the whole 30 days of thankfulness thing...in true Anne fashion, I've just procrastinated until the last possible minute. 

The good news is the last possible minute is usually when I do my best work.  So where did I leave off?  Day 7?  Twenty-three things I am thankful for, coming right up!

8. My bed.  There is nothing like sinking into a warm, soft bed at the end of the day...particularly one that you have been sleeping in so long that it is all "Anne-shaped" on one side.

9. Sweet Tea.  Seriously, what does the rest of the country drink?

10. Old Friends.  There is something about being born, going to college, and raising your kids in the same state.  Some people may consider that to be sad, uncultured even...but I consider it lucky.  I have friends who have known me at my best and my worst and even before anyone clued me into eyebrow waxing, and they love me anyway.

11. New Friends.  I never understood why some had to be silver and some gold (all former Brownies will know what I am talking about).  The new friends I have made, especially since Rip died, are all platinum to me.

12. Family.  I've got a good one.  The one we've created, my husband's, the one who raised me...just good.  'Nuff said.

13. The smell of Christmas Tree.  I found THE BEST candle while shopping on Black Friday, it smells just like a Frasier Fir and makes me so happy.  It's the little things.

14. Christmas in general.  This year is fun for us.  I am beyond thankful for that.

15. Black Friday shopping.  It's a tradition my mom and I have been doing for our birthdays since I was about ten. I know that everyone carries on about the lines and why and blah blah blah...but I have a cute new peplum top and a really good smelling candle...do you?

16. My faith.  Because honestly, this girl, wouldn't be here today without it.

17. Days of renewed faith.  Today I went back and read "Sounds of Sunshine", my first Gracie blog post.  I called "her" her when I was 11 weeks pregnant.  Sometimes it takes my going back and reading something to see just how much God has been there all along.  And I need reminding.

18. Anniversaries.  Parke and my five year anniversary is this Saturday.  We have been together for 13 years.  Thankful for the Parke-shaped spot on the other side of my bed.

19. Picking Gracie up from school.  She gets the biggest smile on her face and starts wildly waving her arms and legs, it's like her whole body lights up.  Best. Thing. Ever.

20. Grey's Anatomy.  I love it.  I can't explain why, but I do.  Don't judge.

21. Exercise.  I just (like this week) started doing it again.  I used to be a runner and I miss that runner's high, feeling strong thing.  For me, physical strength helps with mental strength...and who couldn't use more of that? Hopefully it will become more of a regular routine.

22. Treats.  Just the word is exciting.  Who wants a treat?  Who doesn't??!!

23. Family Boots.  These are the boots that my mom, sister, and I all bought two years ago and thus dubbed the "family boots".  They are camel colored and I wear them almost everyday with everything.  They rock.

24. Good books.  Recently I've slipped back into my old routine of reading every night before bed.  Few things make me happier than being in the middle of a good book.  I will walk around all day feeling like something exciting is happening before I remember it is actually happening to the characters in my book, and then I can't wait to get back to them (Hi, my name is Anne...I am a dork).

25. Our new house.  I love the neighborhood we are in now, and I've got big plans for the house.  Much to Parke's horror, these plans include turquoise interior doors. 

26. The ocean.  Because it heals all things.

27. Signs.  In particular the number eleven and rainbows.

28. Big Bows. On my child's head.  Even if they only stay there for five minutes.

29. The fact that Gracie's fist word was "kitty-cat".  And that she uses it indiscriminately, so that at any given time the dog, Parke, or I can all be a kitty-cat.  Again, it's the little things.

30. And lastly, and perhaps unexpectedly, I am thankful for this lady who, by royally screwing up a priceless painting, gave my friend and I a good old fashioned belly laugh when we really needed it.  Probably not the nicest thing to be thankful for, but there you have it.

Happy belated Thanksgiving, everybody!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Mamas

You know who I find myself praying for, time and time again...the Mamas.

My heart all but breaks for the Mamas who have lost babies.

And yes, I am sure this is mainly because I have been there and done that.  That I am a Mama who lost her baby.

I realize that there are others involved...certainly the Daddys, but also the grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends.  They certainly deserve throughts and prayers as well.  But somehow they seem to be able to cope better, to be stronger.

And then there are the babies themselves...and I am not just talking about babies in the strictest sense of the word..any mama can tell you that her baby is always her baby.  I think about Rip and pray for him all of the time.  But, deep down, I know he is okay.  He is safe.  He is loved. He is taken care of...

So usually it is the Mamas who need the caring for.  And it leaves me frustrated, wishing that I could DO more.  I know what it feels like to wish more than anything you could go back to that one day and change something...I wish I could fix it for them, for all of us.

Lori, Sarah, Christa, Brandy, Liza, Austin, and all of those other Mamas out there who have lost, I am so sorry.  I wish there was something more that I could say.  May peace find you on this day.

Monday, November 26, 2012

And Then Some

Well, it's official.  I am "in my thirties".  Thirty-two, to be exact.

I think maybe I am slightly in shock.  It's not that I really mind...but let's be honest, I was pretty heavily drugged when I turned thirty, and pretty heavily pregnant when I turned thirty-one.  It's been a heck of a two years and this is kind of like my 29 year old self blinking and waking up well, "in my thirties".

I have a vivid memory of being around seven years old and thinking about what thirty would be like.  I thought that a) I would stay up very late and watch TV and b) shots would no longer hurt

Ironically, although I guess I could technically stay up as late as I want and watch TV, I am lucky to keep my eyes open past 9:00 and unfortunately, shots still hurt, it's just less socially acceptable to run screaming from the nurse these days. 

But lest you think my seven year old self would have been totally let down, I do think there are some good things about growing up.  I find that I feel things more and less.

Things that I used to care about so much (ie whether anybody in the room thought I was a complete fool), I could now care less about...mainly because I've learned, as most people do by their late 20's or so, that everyone is too busy thinking about themselves to waste much time thinking about me.  And, if they do think I am a complete fool, fine by me.  They are totally right.

On the other hand, I feel what I DO care about these days are the really important things.  The people in my life who matter.  Taking time to enjoy them, taking time to listen.  Trying to push myself to be a person I like, even when it is hard to do. 

 Maybe that wouldn't have made up for the going to bed early or painful shots... I also eat a LOT of candy, whenever I want! 

So here's to thirty-two, bound to be a good year...because honestly, how could anything associated with the number of flavors at Baskin Robbins not be?



Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Standing Up Again

As you probably already know, occasionally I worry that I sound a little too Pollyanna-ish (and to quote my friend Walker, "the only good part of that movie is when she falls out of the tree").

The night of the anniversary of Rip's passing away, I got the stomach flu.  For those that know me, you know this was a big deal.  I HATE to throw up.  Up until recently I was on a 19 year span of not getting sick once, and that included college.  My parents never even gave me the "don't drink to much" spiel because they knew I would never knowingly put myself in that position.

I can't remember if I've mentioned it before, but there is a Minnie Driver movie called Return to Me that has one line that always pops in my head during this type of situation,  As I found myself huddled on the bathroom floor the other night writhing around in misery, I pictured good old Minnie screaming at the top of her lungs "WHAT WAS GOD THINKING?!!"

But you know what the one good thing about having the stomach flu is?  Getting over the stomach flu.  Waking up the next day was pure bliss.  It was over, I could drink flat Sprite and eat saltines and watch bad daytime TV. Was it worth it?  Probably not...but sometimes you are just thankful to have made it to the other side.

Losing my child is nothing like having a 24 hour bug.  I wont ever "get over" losing Rip.  It's not something I can compare to anything else in my life.  But I am glad to have made it through these last two years.  I am glad to be where I am now instead of where I was November 19th, 2010. 

I try, and often fail, to stay positive.  I have more than my fair share of "What was God Thinking?" moments.   But once you've fallen out of the tree there are only so many options.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Mama

Today, exactly two years from the worst day of my life, my second born said "Mama" for the first time.

I know some people believe things like that are a happy coincidence and some people believe things like that are gifts from above (I'll let you guess which I am), but I think all mothers will agree that hearing those words from your child's lips are heavenly.

 I am so thankful for the life of the little boy who made me worthy of such a wonderful sound in the first place.  For his sake, and his sister's, I hope I always live up to the name.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dear Gracie

Dear Gracie,

Tomorrow is the anniversary of the day that your big brother Rip went to live in Heaven.  I know that as you grow up, it might be a little confusing to you if Mama and Daddy seem sad around this time of year.

As your Mama, I want to be able to explain things to you so that you understand...but even though Mamas and Daddys know almost everything, there are still some things even we don't know the exact answers to.

You know who does know the answer to everything? God.  And you know who loves us more than anything in the world? God. And do you know who is taking care of your brother this very minute? God!

So one very important thing for you to know is that Rip is safe and sound up in Heaven and you are safe and sound right here with us.

But even though we know that God has Rip safe in Heaven, because we are his Mama and Daddy and would like to squeeze him to pieces like we squeeze you to pieces it makes us sad that he is not right here with us.  And that's okay too...it is always okay to be sad or cry about somebody very important to you...just remember that even with sad things there are still good and happy things in the world.

And do you know what my best and happiest thing in the world is?  You.  Gracie Louise Harris.  And do you know why?  Just because you are you...the Gracie Louisest Harris of them all.  If your Daddy and I could pick from any baby in the whole world, we would always pick you, Squeeze Louise.

So remember, even if sometimes we may seem a little sad, it will always be okay.  Because Mama and Daddy love you very,very much (and we know almost everything).

Love,
Your Mama

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thanks to You, Gracie Lou

Gracie Lou,

Last Friday, your Daddy and I took you to the hospital to have tubes put in your ears.

We knew that it was the very best thing to do, we knew that your poor little ears needed a break, we knew plenty of other kids who had the very same procedure and we knew it was no big deal...but you are our very own Gracie Lou who we love more than anything in the whole world...so we were the teensiest of nervous wrecks.

Daddy was worried about your not being able to eat all morning (because we all know you like your morning "baba's").

Mama was worried about telling you bye-bye when you went with the doctor (because Mama is terrible at bye-byes).

And we were both worried that you would be hurt or upset during or after your surgery (because we love you and never, ever want you to be hurt or upset).

Your surgery started late and by 11:00 in the morning you'd had not one thing to eat...and made not one complaint about it.

When the time came to say goodbye, you looked Mama right in the eye and gave her a little smile.

And when we finally got to you after it was all over, you sucked down a bottle, waved bye-bye to the nurses, and generally were the cutest thing to hit post-op.  Shortly thereafter, you laid your head on Daddy's shoulder and promptly went to sleep.

Your Daddy told you that you were the best baby in the whole world, and he was right.  You were so calm...and thanks to you, Gracie Lou, we were too.

Love,

Your still recovering Mama

Monday, November 12, 2012

Remembering Rip

I struggle with the "right" way to remember Rip.  At this point, we don't have any sort of race or charitable event in his name...maybe one day we will, but who knows.

So I was thinking last night about what I want Rip's legacy to be, especially during this week where his little life, however brief, changed us forever.

There are two things that came to mind...

If you are a mother (or father) of a living child, I ask you to hold that child a little closer and a little longer this week.  Not at all in a "because you never know" sort of way, as if as parents we aren't nervous wrecks enough as it is!

No, I ask you to do this because one of the wonderful gifts Rip gave me was the ability to do this more often with Gracie.  I know myself well enough to know that by nature I like to move quickly through life, eager to get to the next thing.  Rip's life taught me to savor every wonderful moment as a mother.  It isn't always easy to do, but to quote Jack Johnson, "when the whole world fits inside of your arms" it's worth taking a few extra minutes a day to realize it.

The second thing I ask you to do this week is, if you know a mama (or daddy) who has lost a child, take some time to say a prayer or send a good thought... or whatever it is you believe helps...her way.  Because her heart is breaking and she needs some extra love.  Pray for her peace.

Rip's life introduced me to many of these Mamas, some of the strongest, most incredible mamas in the world, so it is only fitting that they receive some extra love this week.

Remembering Rip with babies and mamas...it just seems right to me.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

You Are Loved

Someone gave the the book Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You for Gracie when she was born, but every time we read it, I think of Rip.

Wherever You Are My Love Will Find You by Nancy Tillman

I wanted you more than you will ever know,
so I sent love to follow wherever you go.

It's high as you wish it.  It's quick as an elf.
You'll never outgrow it...it stretches itself!

So climb any mountain...climb up to the sky!
My love will find you.
My love can fly!

Make a big splash! Go out on a limb!
My love will find you.  My love can swim!

It never gets lost, never fades, never ends...

if you're working...

or playing...

or sitting with friends...

You can dance til your dizzy...

paint 'til your blue...

There's no place, not one, that my love can't find you.

And if someday you're lonely,
or someday you're sad,
or if you strike out in baseball,
or you think you've been bad...

just lift up your face, feel the wind in your hair.
That's me my sweet baby, my love is right there.

In the green of the grass...in the smell of the the sea...
in the clouds floating by...at the top of a tree...in the sound
that the crickets make at the end of the day...

"You are loved.  You are loved.  You are loved," they all say.

My love is so high, and so wide and so deep, it's always right there, even when
you're asleep.

So hold your head high and don't be afraid
to march to the front of your own parade,

If you're still my small baby or you're
all the way grown, my promise to you
is you're never alone.

You are my angel, my darling, my star...
and my love will find you wherever you are.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Rip.  You are loved.  You are loved. You are loved.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

But I Did

I thought about not posting this story here, because sometimes I think all of this "talking with God" stuff makes me sound a little off my rocker.  But, you know what they say...if the shoe fits...

The other day I was reliving Rip's birth in my mind.  I do this a lot when I am by myself, driving to or from work. 

Inevitably, my mind will slip into "what if" mode.  What if I'd know then what I know now about having babies.  What if I'd been more forceful, or changed my mind about this or that, or been a better advocate.  Would Rip have lived?  What if I knew then what I know now?

And then, deep inside, where I feel like God speaks without saying a word, I heard "You didn't know, but I did"

There are a few things that I have come to know to be true and believe to be true that brought tears to my eyes and peace to my heart with this statement...

First, we live in a fallen world.  A world where terrible, tragic things happen to innocent, good people.

Second, God is not in the business of killing babies.  The God I have always known is a God of love, deep and abiding love.  Love that I believe to be even greater for little children.

Third, God's ways are not my ways.  This is so hard.  This is why I've spent many many hours on many days asking questions for which there are no answers.  But I can either accept that a God of love has reasons beyond my comprehension or I can continue to struggle against Him.  Some days I choose the latter, and that's okay too.

There are a million ways I can second guess myself as to how I could have made things better, but what if making another decision somehow made things worse? 

I don't have any doubt in my mind that the God Who Knows loves Rip Harris more than maybe even I can comprehend.  And so I have to stop the what ifs.  Because what I didn't know, He did.



Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Thankful For...

I've been late to join in on the "30 days of thankfulness" craze, but better late than never.

So, seven things I am thankful for (in no particular order)...

- I am thankful that everyone who wanted to had the opportunity to vote yesterday.  But I am mostly thankful that at the end of the day, I was able to come home to my husband and my baby girl.  I am thankful that it is a happy home, where my child is warm, clothed, fed, and safe.  I am thankful to be able to provide her with a home where she knows that she is loved.  Not everyone is so lucky.

- I am thankful for my husband.  Half the time we could wring each other's necks and the other half we really get along very well...but we love each other all of the time.  I am thankful to have found someone who always manages to make me laugh and who truly has a good heart.

- I am thankful to have grown up in a fun family.  I love my parents and I love my siblings. I love our traditions (of which there are many).  I love that I grew up knowing that a sense of fun is one of the more important tools a girl needs to take out into the world.

- I am thankful for my memories of Rip.  Yes, they can be painful, but the only thing more painful would be not having them. Today, I am especially thankful for the memory of soft hair and sweet smells.

- I am so thankful for my wild woman, Gracie-Lou.  I am thankful for her spit-bubble blowing, funny-face making, tongue-clucking little self.  I am more thankful than ever when I look over and see her Daddy with his head thrown back, laughing uncontrollably at her antics.  Really I could just write the numbers 1-30 on this post and put "Gracie" beside each one...but that is probably cheating.

- I am thankful for writing.  I am so glad that I decided to start writing this blog when I did, and that I wrote a prayer journal over these past few years.  Those words (and the answered prayers) that I can go back to read now are some of my greatest treasures.

- And to end on a lighter note, I am awfully thankful for leftover Halloween candy.  One week later and the influx to the office is still going strong.  Doubly thankful for whoever brought the Butterfingers.

Stay tuned, plenty more to be thankful for...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Throwing In

As time goes on, my memories of  two years ago seem to become both sharper and dull at the same time. 

I remember more of what was going on, and that can be hard, but the pain isn't as intense.

One of the things I have been remembering, with a smile, is my "Summerville Family".

My mom's family is from Summerville, SC and like a lot of good southern families there are a lot of them, er, us.

Growing up, thanks to my dad's dark skin and eyes, my brothers (and later, sister) and I stood out like sore thumbs. I think we were literally the only brown-eyed kids in the bunch.  Luckily, our blue-eyed cousins (or second cousins, or grand this or thats) forgave us our Upstate ways and we spent our trips to the Lowcountry eating spaghetti, hunting Easter eggs,  jumping on trampolines, and playing in cow pastures...you know, normal stuff.

We all got older, some got married, saw each other at various weddings or (sadly) funerals or every other holiday...but the days roaming cow pastures as one happy herd were pretty much over.

And then we lost Rip.  And those Summerville people came out of the woodwork.

My cousin Jennifer works in the PICU in the same hospital where Rip was taken after he got sick.  Never have I been so glad to look up and see someone.  She brought us everything we needed while we were there, including comfort and kind words. She didn't even flinch when my mom forced her to look at my c-section to make sure it wasn't infected...I know she is a nurse and all, but probably not what she was expecting when we were having spend the night parties in our windsuits and perms back in the day.

My cousin Jamie reached out time and time again, letting me know every time she saw a rainbow once I got pregnant with Gracie.  She and her husband were the first people to come visit us when Gracie was born, I felt like she deserved part of the credit for getting her here safely.

And that's just two of the twenty or thirty who called, hugged, wrote, prayed and just down right loved us through a terrible time.

That Summerville family, they know how to throw in when it counts.  I hope that as we get older, we can show this next generation how important it is to have that kind of family...brown eyes or blue.

Thankful for all of the family who has been there for us these past two years.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Welcome Back, Old Friend

* Apologies ahead of time for the stream of consciousness post, just some thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head these past few days

November, three years ago and all years prior, has always been my favorite month of the year.  Mainly because it is my birthday month...that's right I said birthday month.  I've never been one to shy away from the fact that I like my birthday to be a celebration, preferably one that goes on for many days and culminates in some hectic day after Thanksgiving shopping.

More than that though, November is just a great time of year.  Cool weather, football (not that I really watch, but the tailgating is fun), Thanksgiving, great food, great family and friends, Christmas right around the corner... and did I mention my birthday?

Of course, two years ago in November my world was turned upside down.  We had and lost Rip and I thought well to hell with November.

I remember being on a walk with a friend when I was pregnant with Rip, before things got scary, and saying how I had this weird feeling this baby was going to be like me.  How we would have other babies that were a mix of Parke and me (which Gracie totally is) or more like Parke, but this baby just felt connected to me.

And it was true, I had mother's intuition with Rip like nothing I have experienced since.  I knew just how to touch him, just how to comfort him...I can't explain it, I just knew things.  With Gracie everything is trial and error, I learn her little ways and we get through each milestone together.  But we have the rest of our lives to figure one another out.  With Rip I had seven days, and I believe God gave me the very necessary ability to provide the comfort he needed in those days.

I read two things after Rip died that brought me some comfort.  One I think I wrote about here, that a child who is lost is somehow still with you in ways that a living child cannot be.  And (I know, small consolation most of the time) I believe it to be true...whether it be in an 11-11 or feeling his little presence when I need it most, I feel my son with me most of the time.  The other was some study that said after you have a baby, you always carry some of his or her DNA in your body.  It's a (small) comfort to think that part of Rip is always physically with me as well.

Last night we went to a Halloween bash, Gracie's first.  It was great, the girl loves a good holiday celebration and had eaten Lord knows how many cupcakes at school that day (apple doesn't fall far from the tree).  The whole day was so fun.  There were a few off-handed comments about "wait until you have two (kids)" and things along those lines from people who didn't know us.  The thing is, those comments really don't bother me.  I just hate that I don't get to show off my other baby too.

I don't know what it is like to have two kids or more that I have to get ready for school in the morning, and I can only imagine how stressful that is...it takes both Parke and me to hold down Miss Priss and wrestle her into an outfit.  But I do know what it is like to hold two little people in my heart.  I think about both of my children constantly, just like everyone else.  I think that is what makes it hard when one isn't there for everyone to see, it's like a huge part of you is hidden away. 

This morning I went to see my neurologist, who I now see only every two years for migraines.  The last time I saw him was shortly after Rip died when he got the award for "best response ever" when he sat on the floor and cried with me when he heard the news.  This time he hesitantly asked how things were going and burst into a HUGE smile when I whipped out Gracie pics.  While flipping through the (roughly) 500 pictures I had on my phone he said, " I know the pain won't ever go away, but I am just so glad you have joy in your life again."

And there it is.  Nothing will ever take away the pain of losing Rip.  But I have JOY in my life again.  Yesterday, Halloween, was fun.  Thanksgiving, Christmas, Gracie's Birthday, *My Birthday*...they will be fun this year.  Even Rip's birthday is a cause for joy.  These are joyous occasions.  Joyous occasions that I truly thought were a thing of the past two years ago.

While walking to the elevator from the doctor's office this morning, I had a flash of deja vu.  I feeling of what I always think of as "God Arms".  Just a peaceful feeling I've associated with God kind of hugging you close.  I remember the exact feeling leaving that office a little over two years ago, broken and joy stripped but with the smallest stirrings of hope.  This morning I felt God's Arms around me, clearly remembering that broken girl and hugging me close.

Stepping out into the cool November air felt wonderful.  Oh, November.  Welcome back, old friend.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Three Little Pumpkins






Well, technically, one little Pumpkin, one little Pirate, and one little Duck...

Happy Halloween Y'all!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Oh Happy Day!

Lawdamercy! I can breath again!!

After 21 days of feeling like my head was going to bust wide open every time I bent over, the wretchedness has passed.  My apologies go out to anybody who crossed my path over the last three weeks.  I know I tried to throw everyone off with the whole putting on a happy face deal last week, but I am completely aware that I have been a real pain in the you know where to deal with these past three weeks.

Whew! Good thing I am such a joy to be around the rest of the time.  (Ha. Ha. Ha.)

Other things making me smile today...

-Starbucks hot chocolate in a festive holiday cup

-The fact that it is almost time to legitimately listen to holiday music (what I consider the legitimate time to listen to holiday music is probably about a month sooner than most of the listening public, but c'mon people, it's the most wonderful time of the year for a reason)

- This kid, who is celebrating "Spirit" week at school.  Honestly.  Today is "Wild and Wacky" day (hence the crazy tights etc.) Tomorrow she has to be a farmer.  I am trying to decide if I can scrape her hair back into teeny tiny pigtails.




She's Wacky, She's Wild!

- Halloween.  Last night we carved our pumpkins.  Correction- Parke carved our pumpkins and Gracie and I watched.  Gracie is having a "Halloween party" tonight (i.e. Some of our friends in the neighborhood are bringing their babies over so we can take pictures of the kids in their costumes, hopefully before one or all of them has a meltdown).  This time last year, while I was full of Gracie and hope, I still wasn't sure I was ever going to be able to take part in the magic of having kids at the holidays...this year I am taking full advantage.


SUPER BABY (and Daddy)

- The cooler weather.  Normally, I am a tan-loving, beach-going girl.  But this year I didn't get much beach time in (for a well worth it reason), so this sweater weather goes much better with my vaguely green complexion.  Also, wind blown = rosy cheeks= homemade blush.

- Did I mention that I feel better? Seriously, I am a terrible sick person.  It makes me weepy, and I hate being weepy.  Just glad to feel like pale, tacky child toting, holiday lovin' me again.

Oh Happy Day!




Thursday, October 25, 2012

Put on a Happy Face

I admit, I've been having a little pity party the past week or so.

A combination of a tough time of year, a two week cold, a baby with an ear infection, a bunch of rejection letters, and a bit of an identity crisis pity party.

So where do you turn during such a time?  Well, yeah, I mean first and best answer-God, the Bible, etc.  Let's just say that's a given.

But recently my second favorite place for a pick-me-up...Pinterest.

So without further ado, wisdom from the fabulous world of Pinterest, based on a board I've named "Put on a Happy Face"

"Just because something isn't happening for your right now doesn't mean that it will never happen"

"Keep your head, heels, and standards high"

"Your children will become who you are; so be who you want them to be."

"People who love to eat are always the best people"

"You're prettiest when you're happy"

"Keep calm and WRITE something"

"REALLY GOOD STUFF IS COMING"

"You're a human being you live once and life is wonderful so eat the damn red velvet cupcake" Emma Stone

"I've seen miracle just happen, silent prayers get answered, broken hearts become brand new...that's what faith can do"

"The stronger you are the better you feel"

"All they can say is no or hell no"

"Nothing worth having comes easy"

"She believed she could so she did"

"I'm not bossy I just know what you should be doing"

"It always seems impossible until it is done"

"Faith in God includes Faith in His Timing"

"Have you prayed about it as much as you've talked about it?"

"Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together" Elizabeth Taylor


My face feels happier already!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

You Can't Keep a Good Girl Down

Her hair on the other hand...



video

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

She's Gonna Be Just Fine

As a Mama, I think you always worry about how your child is going to turn out.  All of the sudden you are given this little person and tasked with making sure that they know how to make it through all of life's ups and downs...I mean, sometimes I am not even really confident distinguishing my right from my left so this is a daunting task to say the least.

The other morning, Gracie played her first joke on me.  Keep in mind, she is nine months old so it is not like this is something that will have you rolling on the floor, but I was so proud and most of all relieved. 

Every morning when I pick the girl out of her crib, I lean my face very close to hers and she gets a big kick out of it and we laugh and move on to other important things (like her first "ba ba" of the day). That morning I was mindlessly fixing said bottle when I noticed I tiny little head making its way towards mine.  She leaned in close, touched my forehead, and threw her head back and laughed and laughed.  The look on her face made me laugh out loud, she was just so pleased to have sneaked up on me.

I was just so pleased to see my baby had a sense of humor.  See, I can and will try as hard as I can to teach Gracie what is important about life.  I will teach her to trust God and her faith.  I will teach her to count on her family, that her Daddy and I will always love her no matter what.  I will teach her to find good friends and hold on to them, they will be there when she needs them most.  But I am not sure that you can teach someone to have a sense of humor...and I honestly don't know what you do without it. 

Even on the very worst days of my life, I have laughed and those laughs have fed my soul.  I am not sure that on those days I could have seen the purpose of life without laughter.

So, seeing that baby girl with her head thrown back and a twinkle in her eye, I breathed a deep sigh of relief.  She may not always be able to tell her right from her left, but she's gonna be just fine.

My little jokester

Monday, October 15, 2012

Let Him Shine

Today, October 15th, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  At 7:00 tonight, anyone who has lost a baby or knows someone who has is asked to light a candle and keep it burning for at least an hour in their memory.

We will be lighting a candle for Rip tonight, and would love for you to do the same for Rip or for another baby who has touched your heart.  As always, our candle will be lit in celebration of his life.  Rip brought light into our lives and our goal on this earth is to let him shine.

Much love,
Anne



Thursday, October 11, 2012

See, that's where you are wrong

I tell you what, if you want to be humbled (and who doesn't love a good humbling?), write a book.

I feel like running out and writing a letter to every author I've ever read, much less loved, and thanking them a million times over for the hard work they put into getting that book published.  I had NO idea. 

See, I made up this arbitrary goal in my head that I would send out as many query letters and proposals as I could before Rip's birthday this year.  So far I've sent around 40.  For what it's worth, I like sending out proposals a lot more than sending out query letters.  To me, a query letter is kind of like showing someone your hand and asking them if they think you are attractive...which is great if you were lucky enough to be born with long fingers and have the time to run out and get manicures, but if you are like me and have a tendency towards man hands and usually have some kind of gunk under your nails...well, you get the idea.

So to this point I've gotten about ten rejections, all of which have been fairly nice and some really helpful.  But the other night I got one that wasn't.  The overall tone of the letter was so condescending I could practically feel her patting my head through the entire thing.  Basically, she said there were a million books on grief and nobody was going to benefit from reading my crummy little story.  That everybody grieves in their own way and my talking about what helped me was helping nobody but myself. That you can't help someone else survive.

I've got to admit, it threw me for a few days.  Rejection isn't my favorite (as if it is someone else's), but I really started to think that maybe she was right.  I mean, everyone does grieve differently.  My story is my own, I can't tell someone else's story, I don't know how to tell someone else to get through their loss.

I stopped sending queries and proposals, decided it wasn't meant to be.

 But see, the first line of her response was "I've never lost a child". 

She is right, there are a million books on grief.  She is right, everyone grieves in their own way. But as for helping someone else survive, see lady, that's where you are wrong.

After we lost Rip I needed someone to tell me how to get through the days, weeks, and months that followed.  There could have been 500 books on grief, but if they had to do with losing a child and finding hope and strength and love and laughter...I would have ready every single one of them.  Because knowing that one person can do it means that just maybe you can too, and if more than one person can do it, all the better.

So, today I send out three more queries, gunky fingernails and all. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Expect the Unexpected

"Expect the Unexpected" was the theme to my prom senior year, which I got a real kick out of at the time...like was someone going to jump out and scare us?  Should we show up with a survival kit?

Despite the hype, I don't think anything "unexpected" happened at prom that year (except maybe someone having a little too much fun at the pre-prom party, and I don't think was entirely unexpected).  Lately though, that is the phrase that has been running through my head.

This time of year snuck up on me.  October 6th through November 18th is what I will always think of as Rip's time I guess.  The day I went in the hospital through the day he went to heaven. 

I feel like last year, I knew what to expect.  It was the dreaded year of firsts...I was prepared to feel sad, to cry, to remember.

This year it snuck up on me, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.  I didn't know how I would feel this year, as I've said many times before I miss Rip every day so why should this time of year be any different?  It just is.  I feel more tender, cry more easily.  I think about where I was two years ago more often.  Everything is just more.

But I do mean everything.  Trips to the pumpkin patch with Gracie mean more.  A long walk means more.  The comfort of home means more.  The fact that I had a little boy and what I choose to do with my life will be a reflection of his, that means a lot more.

I've come to expect the unexpected.  In light of Rip's birth and death, that may seem like a bad thing-but truly it is not.  Because whether or not we choose to admit it, a lot of the time it is human nature to expect the worst.  The unexpected comes when we get to rock our babies to sleep at night or kiss our husbands or remember what it was like to feel that baby kick for the first time.  Yes, some of those memories, the ones to do with my baby in heaven, are and probably always will be bittersweet.  But of all the ways I expected my life to be those unexpected moments make it all worthwhile.

So if you see me in the next month, and the tears come a little easier or the memories a little bit faster, just know that I am okay.  It's just that sometimes one of God's littlest angels blows a kiss my way (unexpectedly).

Friday, October 5, 2012

Bad Mama

Somebody's Mama clearly didn't get the memo that snacks were being sent to school.


Somebody's Mama also thought this was hilarious and framed the note (but did, however, send puffs to school today).

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

It's the little things


This morning I said a little prayer, some days I just need a sign that Rip is okay and that God is really listening.  When I signed into Blogger this morning, I noticed the number of people who have viewed my blog:

 111111 pageviews
Pageview chart


Sometimes it really is the littlest things.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

What to Remember


A few days ago, a sweet friend sent me the essay below by Anna Quindlen.  As a mom, maybe especially a mom who has lost a child-as this friend has as well, you want to appreciate every moment you have with your baby.  I know after we lost Rip I told myself that I would do just that with every second if I was ever lucky enough to have another chance.  But then life is life and it starts moving fast. You wake up and XYZ needs to be done, you go to work, you come home, and XYZ needs to be done. The baby cries and well, you start to forget what you promised yourself you would never forget. 

So last night, when I was putting Gracie down for the night, I was really glad to have read this essay.  Because, as she has started doing more often lately, even though she seemed to be exhausted she started screaming and reaching for me the moment her head touched the crib.  Sobbing hysterically (real tears).  And yes, I needed to take a shower.  And I wanted to watch something on TV (Modern Family).  And I needed to pack my lunch and find my cell phone and feed the dog.  Instead, I picked up my baby and we rocked.  She felt safe in my arms and I felt better with hers around me.

Because one day soon she is going to go to bed all by herself.  And a few years after that the days when I can get my arms around her are going to be few and farther in between.  I don't need to remember what happened on some TV show, but I sure better remember what it felt like to rock my baby to sleep.


On Being Mom

by Anna Quindlen,

Newsweek Columnist and Author


If not for the photographs, I might have a hard time believing they ever existed. The pensive infant with the swipe of dark bangs and the black button eyes of a Raggedy Andy doll. The placid baby with the yellow ringlets and the high piping voice. The sturdy toddler with the lower lip that curled into an apostrophe above her chin.

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like.

Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once pored over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories.

What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations --what they taught me, was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all. Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2.

When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing.

Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China. Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the, "Remember-When-Mom-Did Hall of Fame." The outbursts, the temper tantrums, the bad language, mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, What did you get wrong? (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs.

There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.

Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be.

The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity.

That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were....

Monday, September 24, 2012

The One Where I Compare a Kitchen Drawer to Life

In our old house, we had this drawer in the kitchen and, for or the longest time, it had nothing in it (which, if you know me, you realize is something of a miracle).  After Rip died we were flooded with medical bills and sympathy cards.  Both were things I knew I needed to keep (for different reasons) but didn't have the strength to look at on a daily basis and so the drawer began to fill...and fill.

Little notes I wrote to Parke, soon some ultrasound pictures of Gracie, topped off by some in-the-flesh pictures of Gracie, hospital bracelets, Baptism notices, and Mother's Day cards.  That drawer became like a little archaeological dig of our lives over the last two years.  I knew just how deep to go before hitting something I wasn't ready to face.

Then we moved.  This weekend, I opened the box I'd (creatively) labeled "kitchen drawer" for the first time.  Right on top there was an "Explanation of Benefits" for one of Rip's bills (one that I have memories of a particularly unpleasant phone call with the insurance company over), a lovely, handwritten sympathy note from a friend that I haven't seen in probably 15 years, Gracie's baptism announcement, and my Mother's Day card from Parke this year.

And it hit me (you know I love a good metaphor) that isn't that really how life is?  You can try to keep your good, bad, and your ugly in a kitchen drawer in nice neat layers but eventually you are going to move and they are going to get all jumbled together.  I sat there for a while sifting through the little mess that was my last two years, there was so much good that came out of so much bad.  It's a (life) lesson I've learned over and over again...this time from my kitchen drawer.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Second is Best

I have always been a teensy bit needy in the love department.  You know the saying "If you love something, let it go"...that's not me.  I probably subscribe more to the Elmyra (you know, of Tiny Tunes fame, I am really on a role with these 90's references lately) philosophy on love, "I'm gonna hug you and kiss you and love your forever!" So when Gracie was born, my needy little self thought I had it ready made in the love department.  I would love her the most, she would love me the most-perfect!

I should have seen it coming, those helpful, eerily accurate weekly emails changed their tune from "your baby loves your face and smell more than anything ever put on this earth" to "your baby is starting to notice others in her life".  Still, the first time Gracie gave me the Heisman in order to get to Parke, it stung a little.  Okay, a lot.  Yep, I've got a Daddy's girl.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled for him.  Of all fathers, Parke Harris deserves to be adored.  No worries, I didn't mind not eating turkey, cheese, drinking wine, running, practically living in bubble for ten months or being sliced open afterwards or the 3 am feedings or the...okay, so a few snarky comments, but in all seriousness, I am glad my baby loves her daddy (really, I am).

Because it dawned on me that yes, my job as her Mama is to love her unconditionally, but that does not mean I am always going to come first in her world.  Part of being a mom is pushing my neediness aside.  No matter what, Gracie will always come first for me but sometimes I will be second, third, or fourth (in the teenage years I may be much, much lower..but let's not go there yet). 

 
Last night Parke had to work late.  Gracie and I had a proper "Girl's Night".  After some giggles and drinks (of milk, of course) it was times to go to sleep. Just before she dropped off she reached up and put that chubby little hand on my cheek. Sometimes, second really is best.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hello, Pot

This morning as I was walking into work, I heard a couple of girls behind me talking about their days.  I work at a college, so the conversation I overheard is something I hear a lot...it went something like, "I have FOUR classes today.  OMG, I don't know HOW I am going to make it.  I am like SO tired.  I like, totally HATE days like this."

And of course I was sitting there thinking to myself how these were the best days of her life, she has no idea, blah blah blah, until that little voice popped into my head and said "Hello Pot, This is Kettle!" (which is a phrase I heard on Friends in approximately 1996 and remains firmly ensconced in my vocabulary).

Because I am sure I did the exact same thing when I was her age, and almost every day since.  It is really, really hard to appreciate what you have when you have it. 

I have been trying to wrap my head around the concept of choosing to be happy lately.  I think, in the months since we lost Rip, that it is only recently that I could have consciously made this choice.  But some days I will find myself down about this or that and a little voice (probably the same one with the radical vocab from the 90's) will remind me that I can choose to be happy.  And most of the time it is like a weight has been lifted off of my chest.

I've spent most of my life waiting on the next best thing to come along.  It's not that I want to stop looking forward to what is to come, its just that I don't want to lose out on what is right now.  Because some day I will be walking in front of a young mama complaining about how her baby didn't sleep the night before or how she packed her turkey sandwich but forgot the turkey (yep, cheese sandwich for lunch today folks) and I want to be able to smile, remembering the days and knowing I lived them for all that they were.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Banana Yogurt

In the past week Gracie has had her first “real” fever (102 degrees), eaten an unidentified pill off of the floor (Parke grabbed it out of her mouth in the nick of time), and fell head first off of our bed. Gracie was fine. I was a nervous wreck.


Babies get fevers. Babies eat things off the floor (although, when I called the after-hours emergency care, the lady answering the phone did yell “oh no!” in a pretty alarming tone). Babies fall off beds…apparently, when I did it, my nose started bleeding.

I was the one “in charge” when Gracie fell off the bed. I was literally two inches away from her. One minute she was happily playing with a pillow and the next she was a screaming heap on the floor. My heart stopped, I grabbed her, running and screaming for Parke, almost running outside with her before I realized the whole reason I’d taken my eyes off her in the first place was to put on pants (darn pants)…in the midst of running around like a chicken with my head cut I realized the baby was no longer screaming. In horror, I looked down, fully expecting to find her passed out against my chest. Instead, I found a sly grin which soon turned in to a deep giggle.

Minutes later, baby happily chowing down on banana yogurt with nary a bump in sight, I realized that this was going to be one of the hardest parts of motherhood for me. Not letting my mind “go there”. That yes there were going to be bumps in the road and tears along the way, but most of the time they would end with a giggle and some banana yogurt (or, when she wizens up, chocolate ice cream).

Trouble

Monday, September 10, 2012

Just Four Walls

Today is moving day...finally. With all of the packing and will we/won't we rent, I've been too busy to think that we are really leaving the little house we've been in for the past five years.

This morning, as I was waking up on my last morning on Runnymeade Lane, it was hard not to think of some of the memories we have had there...

Watching Parke asleep that first night we were back from our honeymoon, thinking "this is my husband" and how weird and exciting that was all at once

Waking up early mornings to go running, and returning to the same grinning, slobbering, frantically wagging big mess of an animal we pass off as a dog.

Finally taking a pregnancy test after having "He Called Me Baby" in my head all night, and what an out-of-body experience it was to see that other line appear.

Leaving to go to the hospital for six long weeks, only to return with empty arms and a broken heart...and finding comfort again in the familiar

Crying on the couch, surrounded by Christmas cards with smiling babies and telling Parke I hated everyone...he told me I didn't and he was right, but it felt like at the time

Falling on my knees, looking out the living room window after another negative pregnancy test to see a rainbow appear

Taking yet another test and not believing what my eyes were telling me

Spending hours lying on the bed, feeling that baby move

Bringing home Gracie on Christmas Eve, the baby and I both cried most of the night but Parke still said it was the best Christmas of his life

Rocking, rocking in that nursery with the big zebra painting that reminds me of both of my babies

Putting my baby to sleep at night, always smelling her sweet hair one last time

Watching that baby girl smile, laugh, sit up and finally crawl

All of the laughter, tears and life that we lived there.  In the end, it's just four walls.  But when those four walls have seen the very worst and the very best of you, they become a part of who you are.



Goodbye little house, and thank you.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy

When I started this  "Year Two, Find Happiness" thing (a whole week ago), I wasn't in a very happy place.  I kept coming across all of these things saying that God wants us to have joyful lives, and I just wasn't feeling it.  I guess my reason for saying that is I am not trying to be all "Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah" (do cheerleaders EVER say that?) about being happy, I think I just needed a wake-up call that it was time to start actively seeking joy in my life again.

And I am not talking about finding joy in something tragic.  I ache for Rip, in my very core.  Grieving for him is a part of who I am now, and its a daily process.

But the other day, after we found out we rented our house, I was talking to my mom on the phone.  She said something to the effect of how amazing it was that my three biggest prayers after we lost Rip were that I would have a healthy baby, Parke would find a job he liked, and we would be able to move...and now all three had been answered.  You know what my first reaction was, before I caught myself?  My first thought was "well, yeah...but Gracie is still in daycare and I don't get to see her enough."  How awful is that?  Three HUGE prayers answered and I am so focused on what is wrong that I can't be thankful for a minute?

There are always going to be thing to pray for...and with the track record mentioned above, I should be looking forward to the results! But in the meantime, I want to really concentrate on finding joy in my life...as it is today...again.

Because when gets Gracie is old enough to sing "I've got the joy joy joy joy down in my heart"...I want her to know what she is singing about.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

A Dangit Recalled

We rented the house!!!


"Oh well. Boo hoo. Now What?"

It never fails...declare yourself determined to "re-find" happiness and your whole family will come down with a nasty cold.  Incidentally, this is one of the things about becoming a parent that nobody told me about.  I was warned that Gracie, especially being in daycare, would pick up every germ known to man.  Nobody really warned me that I would also pick up every sniffle, rash, and other, less pleasant visitors that have come our way (Hello, Stomach Flu and RSV, I'm talking to you).

Anyway, being home and teetering mightily on the brink of misery (again), I happened on the movie Julie & Julia...luckily, it was some sort of marathon so somehow between all of Gracie's naps over the weekend I think I caught the whole thing.  At one point, Julia Child, who had been working on her book for over eight years, receives a Big Fat No from her publisher and responds with, "Oh well.  Boo hoo.  Now what?" And on she went.

There are a few things that I really hope to figure out this year...
1) I pray for Parke and me to find our way back to real faith and trust.  I know it is something we work at every day...I want that for us, but I think I want it most for Gracie.  She (and anybody else who comes along) needs to grow up in a house filled with faith and trust.
2) I pray that I figure out a way to spend more time with Gracie.  When one of your children lives in heaven, three hours a day during the week ain't cutting it.
3) I pray that Rip's book gets published.
4) I pray that our ding-dang house rents or sells. Dangit.

Those are my goals for this year.  Other than that, as long as everybody is happy and healthy, things are going to go wrong..."Oh Well.  Boo hoo.  Now what?" And on we will go.