Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Still Remembering

This morning the first thing I did when I woke up was to take a "Color Test" on Facebook (as you do).  It said I was an Idealist- someone who always seeks beauty, hope and good. And that just about sums me up. I've realized recently that I am raising a daughter with these very same qualities.

I'd thought that maybe I wouldn't do a "Remembering Rip" post this year-but I think maybe I will just one more time. The very same daughter has been asking questions lately that are hard to answer, and my first instinct-as I imagine is most parent's-is to protect. I want to protect that idealistic mindset of hers for as long as I can, because it has been my saving grace. It is that idealist spirit that makes it easier to discuss her big brother and sing Happy Birthday up to Heaven.

The reason why we have to sing to heaven is one even I don't totally understand- but to show this daughter of mine all of the good things people are doing because of Rip-it helps.

So, selfishly and just once more, I ask for you to remember our boy tomorrow, November 18th, so we can continue to see beauty, hope and good.

***Original post from 2014***

Rip passed away four years ago this Tuesday- on November 18th, 2010.

I never know what to do with this day. His birthday is always harder on me, emotionally, but at least there is a purpose to a birthday. Even if the person is no longer living, you can still celebrate the day they were born. This year, Gracie and I made "birthday cakes" in her bathtub and sang "Happy Birthday" up to Heaven...it was her idea and I think it was pretty perfect.

But what do you do with the day someone, especially a child, dies? I've beat myself up in the past for not being the type of person who organizes a race in his name, or starts a fundraiser in his memory. A thought occurred to me this year that maybe it didn't have to be that hard.

I've said often that despite the circumstances, Rip is and always will be A Good Thing in our lives. So this year, on Tuesday, November 18th, I'd ask that you do something good for a child in his name.

It can be anything. If you want to make a monetary donation, I'd highly suggest donating to your local NICU or PICU...the people who work in those units, particularly the nurses, are truly angels on earth. They are saving the smallest, most precious lives. Of course, there are a million other worthy children's charities, especially this time of year, all of which are doing great things for those who can't.

But I know how busy we all are...and its the holidays so most of us are pretty broke, too. The good things I am asking for can be as simple as letting your child stay up that thirty extra minutes to watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, and taking the time to smell their sweet heads while they do it. Its doing something small and good that will bring joy to these amazing little creatures who have been entrusted to our care.

November 18th will never be a good day in our family's history, but it can certainly be a day in which good things happen. If even one child is given an extra smile that day in Rip's name, then his life is still a very Good Thing.

Thank you so much.

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”John 16:33

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Heaven

Gracie has been asking questions about Heaven lately. She wants to know what it will be like, what it will look like. I tell her is that Heaven is a perfect place, where everyone is happy and nobody is hurting or sick, that Heaven is place of love.

The day after Rip was born, he as able to start breathing “room air” which is a really big deal in the NICU. For the parents, its the first time you are able to really see your baby’s face. The evening after Rip started breathing on his own, Parke wheeled me down to the level II nursery and left me there for a while. I spent at least two hours holding our son.

I had on a black and white robe that I wrapped around him, and he nestled down into it and me. His little fuzzy head felt like the softest feathers against my face. For those two hours,everything else in the world melted away. I snapped a picture and sent it to my parents. The caption read, simply, “Heaven”.

I don’t know what Heaven looks like. I don’t know what our bodies look like when we get there. But I hope and pray, somehow, when I get there that I will have this moment back- that I will get to have this feeling with this boy again.

Happy 5th Birthday, Rip Harris. You will forever be my idea of Heaven


Friday, November 6, 2015

For the Others


I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living my baby you'll be.

I came across this article last night and thought it was one of the better I’ve read about child loss in a while:


This time of year has me thinking about the subject more than others, which is as to be expected I guess. At times I get vibes from some (whether real or imagined) that they feel I am being a little too precious with this time of year or something I’ve said or done concerning Rip. I realize that it has been five years. And I’ll be honest, sometimes I wonder myself- Rip was only “here” one full week- do I deserve to be a real, full card carrying member of this awful little club? Is it time to “move on”? And then I see pictures of my friends with their beautiful newborn babies. I realize how those first moments we lay eyes on our children-heck, the first moments we see two lines on a pregnancy test- transform us. How having those moments…and then not having them…it changes you. Forever.

I celebrate Rip’s life on this birthday and I try to create something good out of the day he died, and I have a really wonderful life, but those two days are hard. 

While of course our family will always love and grieve for Rip, there will likely come a time when I do not do it quite so publicly. Regardless of what I choose to share as the years pass, I am both heartbroken for and profoundly grateful to those I am sharing this journey with.



Tuesday, November 3, 2015

New Normal...or Not

I’ve seen a lot of press lately about postpartum depression and anxiety. Thank goodness. It amazes me that there is still so much stigma around such an important issue, that babies (and mamas) are literally dying because of it-and yet I understand completely because when I went through it my biggest fear was that someone would find out. 

After we lost Rip, everyone asked me if I was depressed all of the time. Doctors, nurses, my parents, friends- and the answer was yes, but understandably so. Under all of that overwhelming grief, I somehow sensed that this was a situational depression, “normal” in the most abnormal of circumstances. I was feeling everything you would expect to feel after the loss of your child and as awful as it was I needed to feel it. Grief is different for everyone and for me, at that time, medication just seemed to make things worse. This pain was necessary, something I had to endure to make it through to the other side.

It was different after Gracie was born. Here I was in this amazing, joyful time. The answer to all of my prayers had arrived. I could finally relax…except I couldn’t. Not in a normal, new parent way. Not in a newly sleep-deprived, what in the heck happened to my life way. Not even in a parent who lost a child way. In a something isn’t right, anxiety-ridden way. In an obsessive-compulsive way. 

It took me weeks to leave Gracie's side, and by leave her side I mean walk out onto the driveway with Parke while my mother-in-law stayed with the baby in our house. If someone spilled something, if something was messy, my heart raced until it was clean again. I showered twice a day. I worried obsessively about Gracie’s safety, about falling down the stairs with her or burning her when I opened the oven. I worried if someone knew about these worries they would come and take her from me. Somewhere deep inside I knew this couldn’t be normal, but I was supposed to be normal now…finally normal…and I was too ashamed for anyone to know otherwise. I’d put everyone through too much already. All of this started to fade after about a month, and was completely gone around two or two and a half months. Only after it was over did I realize how bad it had been, how afraid and irrational I’d been.

When I saw my doctor several weeks after it was all over, she asked me what I thought of those first few months. She asked it in a, “wasn’t is amazing” kind of way. I told her I thought I could have really benefited from some medication. It wasn’t the answer she was expecting, because at the time I’d told her we were doing great! We were so in love! So happy! And that was true…but I was also in need of help. She couldn’t have known that. Nobody could have..but I think maybe if people were talking about postpartum anxiety and depression then as they are now, even four years ago, I would have felt better about opening up when I needed to.

Except for that doctor’s appointment, this is pretty much the only time I’ve ever admitted to feeling that way. I never wanted it to sound like I was anything less than extremely grateful and in love with my baby girl. Now I see how silly that sounds- the only way I could have loved her more was to have taken better care of myself when I needed it. 

For the record, I had no symptoms of postpartum anxiety with Sam. Poor soul has been dragged to Target from week one. Gracie may never forgive me for those months of missed shopping opportunities. In all seriousness, though, my point is that my experiences only go to show how unpredictable this can be. So thank goodness for the brave mamas out there telling their stories and helping others get the help they need. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Short Hair, She Does Care

After age three got off to an…interesting…start, our girl is finishing it off with a bang. This child keeps me biting the insides of my cheeks daily as she informs me I am “NOT opposed to be laughing at her!”

Easier said than done, though, as she comes up with some real gems.

Car rides are always entertaining:
G-“Mama, I wish Sammy was still a tiny baby”
Me-“Well, sometimes I do, too, but he is fun now isn’t he?”
G-“This is so disappointing”

Me-“Sammy, say MA-MA”
Sammy-“Goo gaa, spit, blurb, goo”
G- “Mama, he CAN’T right now. He’s doing some very IMPORTANT things back here.”

Bath time is equally so:
G-“Mama, can you wash off my baby doll?”
I do, as bubbles come flying out of said baby’s nether regions
G-“Well. I didn’t see THAT coming!”

Deep conversations tend to take unexpected turns:
G-“Mama, how does God have powers?”
Me- (slightly panicked) “Well, God is all-powerul and he created us all…”
G-“Why did he create us?”
Me-“Because he loves us so much, blah blah more words more words”
G-“Well, I wish he’d created me with long hair”
Me-“…"

And then sometimes they don’t.
G-“Mama, why do you go to Heaven?”
Me-“Well, that is where you go when your body can’t live here anymore... but you don’t have to worry about that right now”
G- “When you are old?”
Me-“Yes, when you are old”
G-“Is Baby Rip in Heaven?”
Me-“Yes...”
G-“What if God wants me to go to Heaven?”
Me-“He doesn’t, baby, not yet. He wants you right here with me.”

Through laughter and tears (and yes, the occasional toddler meltdown that still rears its ugly head) I never forget how this child is the answer to the most gut-wrenching, sincere prayers I’ve ever prayed in my life. She’s the Christmas present that keeps on giving and I love every (much to her dismay, short) hair on her little head.






Thursday, October 29, 2015

My Everything Just Right

Sometimes when I put Sam to bed at night, I am overcome with a rush of gratitude so huge all I can do is sit there and kiss his little hairy head over and over again. This child. He fit me perfectly from the very first.

Don’t get me wrong, my “sweet Sam” has started to show himself these days,making his presence known when things don’t go his way. We all have the bite (and pinch) marks to prove it. He enjoys tormenting his sister (who is really very sweet to him…most of the time) and will do something he knows he is not supposed to do looking you dead in the eye all the while. Bad. But all is quickly forgiven after appropriate reprimands are given, and the snaggle-toothed grin is still an almost permanent fixture on his chubby little face.

Yes! We have rolls! After his first year of being in the 5th percentile of nearly everything, baby boy discovered wonderful things like pizza, chicken, rice, peas, yogurt, anything in squeeze form, mashed potatoes…basically food. He likes food. A lot. While his sister picks and prods at her dinner, Sam plows through his and signs for more. I swear our grocery bill went up by half when the child started eating solids.

Also in recent developments (like, the past week or so), he speaks. Words include: bye-bye, mama, dada, stop, hot, all done, rock rock, woof woof, and uh-oh. You would likely not be able to decipher any of these words but I am his mother and I am telling you, this is what he is saying. Boy genius. Additionally, in our wheelhouse is shaking our head “no”. Frequently.

Sam is still a Mama’s boy. He loves to cuddle and generally finds the best time for a cuddle to be when I am unloading the dishwasher, getting dressed, or trying to shower. One look at that little face and stretched out palms and I am toast. 
Sammy is an easy laugher, loves a good game of peek-a-boo (who doesn’t?), and books. He is ticklish all over and I believe has had four bloody lips in the past two weeks (I don’t think Gracie has ever had one).

I adore my rough and tumble lover of a baby boy. He is sweetness and light, and my everything just right. 







Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Balancing Act

I, along with seemingly half the people on my Instragram feed these days, just started reading Jen Hatmaker’s For the Love. The first night I got the book I did something that I haven’t done in I can’t tell you how long. I got in a nice, hot bath and started to read. This actually is a something I find to be better in theory than in practice. I enjoy baths and I love to read, but it unnerves me to get wet fingerprints on my books and then I have to keep adding hot water and my top half is always a little too cold, so I end up reading a couple of pages before jumping out into the comfort of my sweatpants, but I digress.


Anyway, I managed to shiver through a few pages that really hit home about balance. Hatmaker uses an analogy of a balance beam, which anyone who knows me knows is not really something I can relate to…I can barely keep my balance on land…but her point is that it is really, really important for us to find what is crucial to our lives and get rid of the rest. 
That’s something that I have been having trouble with lately (always).

I’ve mentioned before that I am a little bit (a lot) impulsive. Its a part of my personality that I really do love. I love the fact that I think everything sounds like fun, that I truly believe everything is going to be great etc. etc. It is also a part of my personality that can bring me a lot of unnecessary stress. For instance. In the last 6 months, I signed up for a second “side gig” (read: job), a half marathon, and several freelance writing gigs…on top of my full-time job, kids, husband, house etc. So in between flooding rains, stomach bugs, ear infections, flashbacks to five years ago when we lost Rip, and doing all of aforementioned “normal” things, I was also attempting a sales job, fitting in 10 mile runs, and writing about this and that. 
No surprise I ended up feeling like I was failing at all of it.

What stays on my balance beam? What goes?

 I had to say goodbye to the side gig, and maybe next year to the half marathon. Then, in true Anne fashion, I immediately started to think about all of the things I could add.

I need to see my friends more. And I need to exercise. And I need more faith activities. So, I could call this friend about a Bible Study, and this friend about yoga, and I really love to write so maybe I add more…

And then that train of thought just stopped dead. Most likely it was God beating His head against some celestial body. Probably like, “ANNE! Dear. Sweet. Anne. For the love of Me. Can we just…not? For this season, anyway. Let’s. NOT.”

Which is fair.

While this is, to say the least, a bittersweet time of year, it is also such a special time to have kids. Gracie is about to bust she is so excited about Halloween and Christmas (not to mention her birthday). Sam is learning so much every day, his little personality is just starting to peek through. What would happen if I really took the next few months and just-stopped. If I just enjoyed them, as they came. What if I had impromptu drinks with friends instead of planning things way in advance? What if I kept reading good, faith-inspiring books? What if I took the kids on long walks in the sunshine (and ok, maybe threw in some 8 minute abs for good measure)? What if I treated myself every now and then- or just cut myself a break?
Listen, this isn’t going to be a permanent change, I know that. Hopefully, by the ripe old age of 30 -something we have all realized we are who we are. Since I had this epiphany two nights ago I have almost signed up for a gym membership and considered writing a book. This ain’t gonna be easy, friends-its a balancing act, to say the least. But you know, shaky baby steps across the beam are okay. 

And, if you see me in your jazzercise class before January 1st, please just escort me to the door.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Are you okay?

Today, while I was sitting at Gracie's ballet class, I got an email from BabyCenter.com. It was alerting me that someone had answered my question.

My question, apparently, was from 2010, where I had written the following:

"I am pregnant with my first baby and have been diagnosed with a conditioned called vasa previa. I am going to have to deliver via c-section at 35 weeks- does anyone have experience with this?"

What I received today was not, in fact, an answer to that question...but a question from another mother who herself was facing the same situation. It was the only response I've received in almost five years. It read, "I too am facing vasa previa and am set to deliver at 34 weeks and 1 day. I found your post and wanted to know- are you and your baby okay?"

How to answer this question?

I mean there is the obvious answer, of course. But there is so much more to it than that.

How do I tell her that I cried today, nearly five years later, because I lost that baby. I also nearly cried today because I couldn't find my living child's purple shorts and we were late for school.

How do I explain that I am living the most normal of abnormal lives?

Do I tell her that my daughter, who was born almost exactly a year after my son was lost, told me today-apropos of nothing-that she really, really (really) loves me.

Do I tell her another mom from ballet class told me how smart my other son was and how proud that made me? Do I then tell her how she asked me if we would have more kids and I struggled for five minutes as to whether to tell her about the baby who I never got to watch grow up?

Do I tell her how, every day, I feel like the luckiest unlucky person who ever lived?

I'm not going to answer her question. I can't. There really aren't words.

Am I okay? No. And yes.

Is my baby okay? No. And yes.

Something tells me that might be more than she really wanted to know.





Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Because He's Happy

My baby boy turns one tomorrow.

You know how everyone is put on this earth for a purpose? Well, Sam's purpose seems to be to bring happiness wherever he goes.

Really, I can't remember a time since I knew of his existence that he has not brought a smile to my face, and there are very few times that he doesn't actually have a smile on his pudgy little face.

Our Sammy boy is sweet, sensitive and silly. He has a goofball grin that I wouldn't change for anything in the world. He is only now starting to stand up to his big sister and its hilarious to watch the two of them interact. Two minutes of sibling love usually results in ten of sibling screaming, but man are those two minutes good for the soul.

Sam is still a mama's boy- something that I know will change as his daddy, then his friends and eventually (horrors) girls come into play. For now, though, nobody fixes like Mama and I would be lying through my teeth if I said I didn't love it.

That belly laugh- not to mention that belly- are my favorite things on the planet. Sam continues to have more hair than most grown men (and some women) I know, and is currently on haircut number five. Unfortunately, one of the only times he cries is when he gets his hair cut.

Sammy currently has seven teeth (four on top and three on bottom) and tooth number 8 is thought to be responsible for several recent sleepless nights. Mama and tooth number 8 are on the outs.

When I think back over the past year, its such a blur, but its a happy blur. I got a little emotional thinking about this day last year- all of the anticipation and then the overwhelming joy this boy brought to our lives. Yes, this baby boy healed me in ways I didn't know I needed healing, but more importantly he brought his funny, quirky Samuel Haskell Harris self to the world and he made it a happier place. And if he can do that in just one year, I can't wait to see what he does next.

 Sam- bathroom selfie August 2014
Sam- bathroom selfie August 2015


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Just a Place

Today I went back to the floor of the hospital where Rip was born for the first time in almost five years.

Its something I've wanted to do/ been dreading for that same amount of time.

When my dear, sweet friend had her baby girl unexpectedly and early a few weeks back, and was going to be at that same hospital while her precious babe learned to do all of the things she needs to do in order to get to go home, I couldn't wait to drop a meal by and give both of them a squeeze.

Unfortunately, my lovely mama friend is also no stranger to hospitals when it comes to her littles, and this was the very least I could do.

The visit had very little to do with me, but as it drew near the significance of what I was about to do did start weigh on me.

Every time I pass this building I feel something...part of me wants to run inside and part of me wants to run away.

This is the place I sat for nearly seven weeks of my life, unable to leave and practically unable to stand, completely dependent on others, waiting for my sweet boy to be born. The people inside became like family.

This is also the place where everything fell apart, quickly, the place where when I finally did leave it was in the dark of night chasing after an ambulance carrying my newborn son.

And then again, its just a place.

I walked into that building today to see my friend and felt- nothing. Well, nothing but gratitude to see her and the precious bundle of love that is her daughter.

I had to ask where the maternity floor was...I had to follow the signs to the elevator...I had to buzz into the maternity wing. I was just a visitor here.

I kept waiting to feel something, some whoosh of fear or anxiety or panic. But nothing came.

I was most nervous going into the level II nursery. Nervous to see where I once sat, where I once felt so completely unglued and afraid.

Today, I sat holding a perfect little girl, who made me laugh as she gave her mama the stink eye. A perfect little girl, who will be going home when she gets good and ready. I felt nothing but peace.

Today I needed to see for myself, five years later, that this hospital is no longer the place where the girl who was pregnant, or the girl who left in the dark of night, exist- those girls are both gone. Well, they have been transformed into a mother. A mother of three-one sassy little girl, one happy little boy, and one always perfect baby in heaven.

There is nothing left for any of us in that place. Turns out it is, after all, just a place.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Here is the church

A couple of weeks ago, as I rocked Gracie to sleep, I started to teach her an old nursery rhyme I'd forgotten about.
I took her hands and folded them together-here is the church
I raised her index fingers- here is the steeple
I opened her hands and waggled her fingers- open it up and here are the people!
She loved it as much as I had and made me repeat it over and over until she had the motions just right.

A week ago yesterday, a gunman walked into a church- the Emmanuel AME church in Charleston, SC, where we live- and killed 9 people as they attended Bible Study. The man was white and the victims were black. He reportedly killed in order to "start a race war". By all reports, the people in that church were some of the best of the best. Christians in every sense of the word. The actions of their families and friends in the aftermath of this tragedy speaks to that more than anything else.

The outpouring of love that enveloped this city in the days to follow has truly been remarkable. I have watched the morning news with tears flowing down my face, as black and white and all races and hands and arms have come together to embrace. We cannot fool ourselves into believing that racism is not alive and well, but what I have seen time and time again this week is that there is hope. And love. A lot of love.

We went to church this Sunday and Gracie sat in my lap. At the end of the service, we stood to sing the last hymn. Somewhere along the way she took my hands into hers and and started to move them.

"We shall overcome, we shall overcome"
Here is the church
"We shall overcome someday;"
Here is the steeple
"Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe, "
Open it up and here are the people
"We shall overcome someday"

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Testimony

Testimony is one of those "Sunday School" words that used to make me squirm a little bit...still does, if I am completely honest. The definition of testimony that I am most familiar with is the one that I am least comfortable with, that is a public recounting of a religious conversion or experience. The very thought of getting up in front of a bunch of people and talking about God makes me feel all jumpy inside. I mean, blaring my beliefs all over the world wide web, sure, but in person...not so much.

But I recently discovered that I was in need of reminding of my own testimony, a different kind of testimony, the one that is defined as evidence or proof provided by the existence or appearance of something or, in my case, two somethings, to help me through some late night worrying sessions. I thought maybe this testimony was worth writing down so that those two somethings might read them one day.

Growing up, I loved to visit my grandparent's farm and play with the toys they kept for all of the grandkids (because everybody knows other people's toys are the best toys). My happy place is and has always been the ocean, so I would spend hours building boats out of legos so all of the mismatched tiny dolls could travel the seas. The problem was, once I built the boats I would start to worry that my little charges would fall off into the water. So then I would build walls. Then I would build windows into the walls. Then I would be afraid the windows were too big so I would build walls in front of the windows. Eventually my lego friends  would have been better off staying on dry land.

Little did I know that this was actually just training for what it would be like to be a mother. You want your children to be able to experience great things...but nobody tells you how terrifying that will be.

So, when I lie awake at night and think of all of the ways the world is a scary place, I need to know that there is Someone in Charge. I need to KNOW there is a God. Back to my testimony.
I gave birth to Rip on November 11th. 11/11. I picked his birthday. I picked that day because 11/11 has always, from childhood, been a lucky number for me. Rip died and everything I ever knew about God and the world was forever changed.

But somehow, I knew the only way I had any hope of survival was to keep talking to the God I wasn't sure I knew anymore. And the numbers 11/11 kept popping up. The first blogpost I wrote after Rip's death was at 11:11...and I can assure I did not have the presence of mind at that point to know what time it was.

What I wanted more that anything else in the world was a baby in my arms. In my grief addled brain, I looked months ahead into my calendar and decided I would be pregnant on 4/21/11- the 111th day of the year.

In those months I learned that a baby after loss was called a rainbow baby. Like the number 11/11, rainbows are something I've always looked for and considered to be lucky. Parke and I went on a trip not long after Rip died and I prayed to see rainbows- we saw five.

On April 20th, 2011, I was 1.5 weeks past the time I should have received a positive pregnancy test. I was beyond broken. It was a stormy day and I fell to my knees and prayed in desperation. It was not a prayer like I've prayed before or since. It was a prayer that said I did not know if I was brave enough to take one more breath unless I knew that there was hope in the world. It was a prayer that asked specifically for a rainbow. It was a prayer that brought a peace like I have never felt when I looked out the window and saw the colors in the sky.

The next morning, on 4/21/11, I got two lines. I was pregnant. On the 111th day of the year.

I saw more rainbows during my pregnancy with Gracie that I've seen before or since.

I gave birth to Gracie on December 22, 2011. One year, one month, and eleven days after her older brother was born.

Gracie healed a huge, gaping hole in our hearts. There was another hole, a hole just for Rip that would never be filled and that we would never try to fill...and then there was a hole that was the hole of a boy mama with no baby boy in her arms.

So I prayed again, I prayed and prayed for that baby boy.

I read a bible verse, I don't even know which one, and it said there would be a boy, and I believed.
Parke and I went back to that magical place and there was just one rainbow this time, and again long after there should have been two lines on a stick another baby was on his way.
Sam filled my boy mama arms.

This is my testimony. This does not explain why some people can't have babies or some prayers aren't answered. This does not explain cancer or unspeakable tragedies. This does not explain why Rip died. This is evidence or proof provided by the existence or appearance of something. And I guess this is also a public recounting of a religious conversion or experience  if we want to get all Sunday School about it.

The thing is, the oceans are still just as beautiful as they were when I was a kid...and just like then, no matter how high I build those walls, I can't always keep my little people safe. So, sometimes I need a reminder, two little reminders, that its not always up to me.

Friday, March 20, 2015

This Girl is on Fire

Ages 2.5 to 3 have proved to be the most...challenging...with Gracie. Luckily, they have also been some of the most entertaining. Here are some favorites of late from my best girl:

Leaving School
Gracie: Mama, are we leaving?
Me: Yep, we are getting the heck outta dodge
Gracie: This isn't DODGE, this is SCHOOL!

Playing early one morning
Gracie: Mama, did you poot?
Me: NO?!?!
Gracie (very seriously): I fink your breath smells like a poot
If you need me I'll be brushing my teeth for the next century

Running into an old boss of Parkes
Man: Is this your baby brother?
Gracie: Yep. He feeds off Mama's chest ALL OF THE TIME!
I have no idea why she phrases it like that- it makes it sound like Sam is some sort of jungle beast.

Gracie's class has a clip system where each child starts out on green and is moved to yellow or red should their behavior warrant it. A few days ago, Gracie was sent to her room for some back-talking - after a few minutes I went to check on her and found she had taken all of the clips off of the bottom of her window shades and was clipping them to various areas in her room...
Me: What are you doing?
Gracie: Mama, you've been moved to red. You will stay there unless you can be good today.
Later, after Parke said something smart...
Me (kidding): Gracie, Daddy is being rude.
Gracie: Don't worry, Mama. I've already moved his clip to yellow.

Gracie, holding an empty toilet paper roll up megaphone style
And now, presenting our very own baby. The one, the only, SAMUEL HASKELL HARRIS!!!!
I really don't know where she gets this stuff

We love, love Gracie and Sam's school- but occasionally Gracie picks up some phrases we would rather her not- these include
LEAVE ME ALONE
and, my favorite,
YOU'RE NOT MY BEST FRIEND, MAMA!!
To which I always reply, "You are exactly right, I'm your mama"

Playing with some new bath toys 
Me: Gracie, what are your new fish named?
Gracie: Sally, and Sally the FOOL!
Calling them like she sees them, I guess

After Sam does one of his roll/twirl/dive deals
Oooooooh, Sammy! You've got some MOOOOOBES!

Deep conversation on the way to school
Gracie: Jesus is in our hearts
Me: Yes! That is exactly right, Jesus is everywhere
Gracie: Yeah, like we can chew him up and eat him and then visit him in Heaven on a purple balloon
Ummmmm...

Needless to say, this girl keeps us on our toes and will probably continue to do so for the foreseeable future! 

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Story of Sam

The other day I was reading back through old posts, trying to piece together when Gracie had some milestone or another so that I would know what to expect for Sam. I ended up reading almost a year's worth of posts and crying/laughing/smiling through them all.

This blog really serves as the best record I have of my children. Despite the 5 million pictures I have on my phone, I am way too disorganized to put together a proper "baby book". So, this is it. And now, for the first seven months of Sam's life, I have nothing written down.

I learned long ago that beating yourself up over things you can't change is pretty pointless, I really try to go with the "just do better from here" method.

So, let me start at the beginning. The story of Sam.

Sam was the only one of my children with whom I was in no hurry to evacuate the premises. I loved being pregnant with him-which is an annoying thing to say, I know. Annoying, but true. And because I was perfectly happy in my roly poly state, I really had not given much thought to the actual birth day. I remember having a very out-of-body feeling at my 38 week appointment, it truly had not sunk in that this baby had to come out.

And it really didn't sink in until the very early morning drive to the hospital. As Parke and I tiptoed out of the house, leaving my mom and a blissfully unaware sleeping Gracie behind, I just lost it. It all hit me at once. Here I was again, having this baby who I already loved more than life and everything that was to or could change in the next few hours came crashing down on me. Every thought of what could go wrong, which now seemed multiplied by a million because it not only affected me and my life but that of my innocent baby girl, hit me like a ton of bricks. I cried and cried. Luckily, Parke is very accustomed to such outbursts and though he must have been scared to death himself, he just patted my leg. He also did not eat anything for breakfast out of solidarity with me. He's a good egg.

By the time we reached the hospital, I'd pulled myself together. Before I knew it, I was in a gown and hooked up to a million machines. There is a moment, at least for me, when they wheel me back to the operating room and away from Parke and put me up on that cold metal table surrounded by beeps and cold, cold air...and I want to run. Just for that moment, but I want to hop off that table and take my big belly with the baby safely inside and run like crazy.

That moment always passes, but I will say I think that this was my scariest c-section. In actuality, it was the best one- or the one with the least complications- but sometimes you just know too much. Once Parke got to the room and the doctors started their work I found myself screaming in my head to just get the baby out. Outwardly, I think I appeared pretty calm- well, until I started shaking uncontrollably, but I was assured that was due to all of the drugs (Side note: Drugs and I do not get along. At all).

After what seemed like way too long, I felt "some pressure" (this is what doctors say during a c-section- it actually feels like someone is pulling all of the insides out of your body...which..yeah, eeeww) out came Samuel Haskell Harris. Emphasis on the "Hair". The actual first words I heard anyone say as my child entered this world were, "that child has more hair than any caucasian baby I've ever seen".  He was 7 lbs 2 oz of hairy perfection.

The next moments are still so clear to me, even all of these months later. They wrapped the baby up and Parke held Sam's head next to mine and I just kept kissing that head- I remember how soft his hair and skin were in comparison to the rough fabric on his little hat- and I just kept telling how much we loved him. Over and over again, "I love you, we love you".

He looked like his sister. And his brother. And also, just like Sam.

I won't bore you with the rest of the recovery (as I said, drugs are no friends of mine), but after the initial shock to my body wore off I can honestly say that my hospital stay with Sam was probably as close to heaven as I'll get on this earth. I've never felt such euphoria. I was just so very happy. I can't even explain it, because of course there were plenty of hard parts to come, but for those three days I loved my little bubble with my little boy. Gracie came to visit and my heart almost burst holding both of them at the same time. And somehow I felt that first baby boy of mine there too. The actual events of those days are fuzzy, but the feeling I have when I think about that time is so clear. Love. Pure and simple love.

The best part? The story of Sam was just beginning.




Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Baby Hugs

About a week ago, Sam started giving me baby hugs.  When he was a tiny baby, he would rest his fluffy little head right under my chin and snuggle down until he fit just right. It was the absolute best.

That head is now much bigger (yet still very bit as fluffy), so it doesn't fit under my chin quite right anymore. Don't get me wrong, we still snuggle...most of every night in fact- that's a story for another blog post...but I've missed those special snugs.

That is, until I started receiving baby hugs. Every morning for the past week, Sam finishes eating and starts cooing and grinning up at me. He has the goofiest little grin of any baby I have ever seen, you CANNOT look at him while he is smiling and not smile yourself. Trust me, this is from someone who hasn't slept through the night in 6 months- its a powerful grin.

And then, just when I thought I couldn't smile any harder, I lift him up onto my shoulder where he wraps his little arms around my neck and stays there for a full minute, holding on with all of this tiny might. It is the very best part of my day.

Please let me never forget these baby hugs.


Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Way They Were

I keep meaning to sit down and write on this blog, but..well, my last post was in November so you see how well that is going for me.

For now, here is what we've been up to. This is the most perfect representation of my children's personalities, all sweetness and sass (I'll let you figure out who is who)...