My Heart is Full . . .

and so is my dirty laundry basket, but I’m going to continue ignoring it for just one more nap time so I can get a post written.  : )

My parents were here for two, magical weeks and after saying goodbye and safe travels I walked through the airport ugly crying while strangers politely looked away.  We are making a home here in Massachusetts and have been luckier than I could have imagined in finding the most wonderful neighbors and friends, but there’s just something about having your mom and dad around that takes home to a different level.
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While they were here, my mom cleaned everything (meaning everything is now cleaner than I will ever be able to make anything in my entire life), my dad sanded the crib (a project I desperately wanted done, but was likely never going to actually do in time for my sweet Sunshine to sleep in it again), I got the pantry table primed and painted (there are many mistakes but I am ridiculously proud of my handiwork!), and I got the changing table/dresser primed.  We also ate a lot of food, talked until our voices went hoarse, laughed like hyenas, and drank a number of mimosas (what number, I’m not exactly sure, our counting got a bit iffy.)  Needless to say, I was not ready to see them go and I cannot wait to see them again.

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In the midst of that visit, my little love and I jetted down to Pensacola and spent a couple (literally two) days on the beach with a few of her namesakes.  That little stretch of the Gulf is, without question, my favorite slice of water on this earth.  My dad grew up in that area and we’ve been going back to spend time with family in beach houses there since I can remember.   I have no accurate description for how good it felt to watch her love and be loved by the people I love most or how happy it made me when she grabbed my finger and walked straight into the Gulf like they were old friends.  So I’ll just leave it at that.  : )
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Now, we are facing the monumental task (which is actually what feels like 10,000 smaller tasks that equal the one, big one) of getting my horses from Idaho to Massachusetts.  I’m worried about everything.  I’m worried about getting the barn ready.  I’m worried about putting them in a barn when two of the three of them have never really had that experience.  I’m worried about the trip and how they’ll handle it physically.  I’m worried about getting a good enough fence up.  I’m worried about getting water to the barn in a way that it won’t burst pipes during the long, cold winters and I’m worried about what will happen when (not if, mind you, but when) Tristan somehow escapes (as he has from EVERY SINGLE ENCLOSURE we have ever put him in).  I’m just plain worried.

Yet again, in the midst of all my fears, we are surrounded by incredible people.  The neighbors have all offered to help and rustled up people they know to help us as well.  Our friend Doug flew in from Oregon this week to help us out.  And, I’ve recruited two of my closest horse-girl posse to help me figure out how in the heck I’m going to get them from point A to point B as safely, happily, and inexpensively as possible.  Bottom line: I could not do this alone and I count myself beyond blessed that I don’t even have to try.  Have I ever mentioned how much I love my friends and family?  Probably not, because I don’t have words for that either.  <3<3<3
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So that’s what July-September are all about: horses, horses, horses!  I’ll do my best to keep sharing updates about what we find in the barn and how progress is going.  As always, wish us luck!  We have a long way to go and a short time to get there.  : )

My Mama Bear

Today is my very first Mother’s Day.  My loves have run to the store while I laze about in pajamas drinking coffee and writing on our couch (Yes! Our couch is in the house!!  But that’s a post for another day).  In other words, I think Mother’s Day is a day I’m going to like.  I had planned to write about how much I love being a mother, but all the words swirling around in my soul at present moment are about my own mama, so here goes.

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(Me eating cookie dough while Mama Bear is attempting to make actual cookies)

I have always loved you, mama.  Yes, even that time I called you a butthole (mere moments before dad put a bar of soap in my mouth) for grounding me when I was sure it was completely the brothers’ fault.  Yes, even when you used to use the Vulcan death pinch on my shoulder to get me to leave church quietly when I was misbehaving.  And yes, even that time in high school when you told me you believed me that I wasn’t doing drugs but I was going to be at the wrong place at the wrong time one day and I was so angry I called a friend and spent twenty minutes reciting everything I didn’t like about you, not knowing you could hear.  Only to be picked up by the police two weeks later.  At least I really wasn’t lying about the drugs, right?

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And I have never doubted your love for me.  After all, I remember you singing songs with me in the car while we went to the hot springs and everyone else was at school and work.   I remember your hugs (always and still the best) smelled like your violet perfume when I was growing up.  I remember you cheering me on at basketball games–a sport neither of us particularly understood or cared for.  I remember you taking me to every mall on the I-5 corridor looking for the perfect prom dress and shoes.  I remember you crying when I tried to sing in church a few months after surgery to remove my thyroid cancer and I couldn’t.  I remember you buying me a blanket that felt like my dogs’ fur when I was in radioactive iodine isolation.  I remember declaring I was going on a spirit quest and while everyone else looked at me oddly and said nothing, you sewed me a medicine bag.  I remember too many memories of you showing your love to list them here.

It’s strange to think that no matter how much we love someone or how well we know them, there are always parts and pieces we never get to see.  Having a daughter of my own, has given me new eyes and, with them, I see a facet of you I haven’t before.  You are incredible.  And not just for keeping four, adventuresome but not always wise, children alive into adulthood.

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How you managed to create so much love, fun, and happiness with so little under such difficult conditions over the years is nothing short of magic.  How you did all that while working and going to school, I will never understand.  I already admired your strength.  I already thought you were warm and giving.  I already thought I knew you.  But this one baby has broken my heart with love and fear and when I think of you now, with all of us and all we’ve been through, I am in awe of your warmth, humor, resilience, and grace.

So, on my first Mother’s Day, I want to tell you again that I love you and to tell you again that I thank you for everything because I truly do.  But I also want to tell you, that this year, I see you a little better, I understand a little more about how much of yourself you have given to us, and I am humbled by all you have accomplished and all that you are.  You are a blessing to our family, Mama Bear, Happy Mother’s Day.  : )

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We

Some of us have c-sections
and some of us labor.

Some of us do not have epidurals
and some of us do.

Some of us give birth
and some of us become parents in other ways.

Some of us put together nurseries
and some of us make room for our babies in our beds.

Some of us bottle feed and
some of us breast feed.

Some of us sleep train
and some of us are sleep trained.

Some of us go to work to provide
and some of us stay home to provide.

Some of us use cloth diapers
and some of us use disposables.

Some of us make up our minds
only to have them changed by experience.
And some of us make up our minds
only to have them changed by circumstance.

Some of us do a little bit of all these things.
Others across the world do very few.

Yet, even with the varied paths we take,
we are the same–
Bonded across oceans of difference
by our incomparable love
for our children.

I Love my Husband Because . . .

When we got married, I was twenty five and he was twenty seven.  We had been dating for five years, three of which from different states and we’d been through a lot.  Looking back, we didn’t know much, but we had at least two things right: 1) We knew we wanted each other for life.  2) We knew that keeping what we had would require humility and unconditional grace.  Two of my favorite photos from our wedding ceremony are the ones of us washing each others’ feet–a symbolic act declaring our intentions to build our marriage on that humility and grace.
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It was my turn to double down on the promises I made on our wedding day when Carl received a job offer in Massachusetts.  I had a job and life I loved in Idaho that I gave up to be home with our daughter across the country so he could have that opportunity.  But today, he finished the process of doubling down on the promises he made to me.  Today we completed the final step to becoming homeowners and not the owners of a home in the suburbs, with a white picket fence, within walking distance of a thriving downtown the way Carl imagined he would be living before we got married.  We are poised to become the owners of MY dream home, which I have lovingly dubbed “Mac n’ Cheese Manor,” an ancient wreck of a farmhouse on nearly nine acres in the middle of absolutely nowhere.
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It has taken him months to find and then negotiate a price we could afford for this beautiful mess and he did it for me, because without a place like this, I wouldn’t be able to bring my horses home, making my family whole again.  And, of course, we need a place like this so I can have the chickens, cat, and pig I’ve always wanted as well.  And the goats.  And . . . well, you get the idea.  ; )

This is love.  Give, take, lead, follow, dream up some dreams, smush those dreams together, then work side by side to make them reality.  And take a lot of pictures along the way!  ; )
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Happy Valentine’s Day!  <3

Fear and Love

My daughter is now eight weeks and three days old and, miraculously, alive, well, and thriving.  I say miraculously in the truest sense of the word.  I am awestruck at her growth and progress.  From the moment she was born, two emotions stood out head and shoulders (if indeed emotions had heads and shoulders) beyond the rest: love and fear.

The love is not really love the way I usually mean it, but since this is English and I have so few words for love to work with, I’ll try to describe it better.  I can hear her breathing change in my sleep. Her cries are like words to me now, and each new sound is carefully considered until it’s meaning can be discerned.  Every time she smiles my heart hurts. Every time someone else holds her, I become a bear-hawk–watching closely with eyes sharper than my pre-mama eyes, ready to unleash a superhuman degree of hurt or just take her back should things start going south. And I love her with the usual kind of love, too.  ; )

The fear is intense, often unreasonable, and it never goes away.  It can roar to the forefront at a moment’s notice or hum at the back of my mind but it is always present, soul deep, and seemingly impossible to shake.  I’ve been afraid many times in my life before, really afraid, but none of that fear even touches this feeling.  I believe it to be the source of my new-found superhuman awareness of my tiny human.  All of that said, it is just like any other fear in the sense that the only way to live with it is to confront it head on.

In our case, due to our demented plan to live apart for three months starting two and half weeks after our baby was born, I ended up having to face the biggest boatload of fear I’ve ever confronted in my life just four weeks in to new motherhood.

My husband started his new job on the East Coast and we knew we couldn’t do three whole months apart while he worked and I finished packing our things up.  The only option was for the baby and I to fly across the country and join him for a time.  So we did.

At two months, our little girl had already flown across the country twice, traveled through Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York, and lived out of hotels for nearly three weeks.  I was terrified every minute, but every minute also added to my confidence in my ability to care for her under just about any circumstances. At this point, I can safely say there’s nowhere we can’t go together.  : )

As my mother promised it would, having a baby has changed my life forever.  There are already parts of my life and self before that I miss, but I miss them the same way I miss anything I enjoyed that has come to its natural conclusion.  My daughter has opened a new chapter which means closing the one before, just like going to college, moving out, and getting married each held endings as well as beginnings.

Since the morning she was born (an early riser, like me : ), I’ve found the love to be so much bigger and more than the fear. Every time we step into new territory (a near daily occurrence!), our bond becomes stronger, our confidence grows, and I find another mom or dad or sympathetic stranger to share a knowing smile or nod, offer a helping hand, and generally remind me I’m not alone in this wild adventure.

My life has been touched by an angel (who will no doubt grow into a hellion!) and I’m glad.  : )

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