Thursday, April 26, 2012


My children are still pretty teeny. At only nearly two and a half and 4 months, they don't really qualify as having aged much. And yet, as I gaze back through my memory, I am in a state of awe about the profundity of change that has taken place in their small accumulation of days.
Last week, I looked at a few old video snippets of my eldest. She was 18 months and I was newly pregnant with her little sister. She seemed little more than a baby. She could hardly talk at all - she was just my sweet little baby. Lately, it seems like she is transforming into a little girl. Her toddler behaviors are slowly giving way to kid behaviors.
Just in the last few days, I've had a few conversations with friends who have newborns. I realized that I don't have a newborn anymore. My little one is a baby, no longer an infant. At four months, the "fourth trimester" is behind us, only a foggy memory.
With both girls, I feel blessed by their current ages - I always seem to really enjoy the time I'm in with them. Don't get me wrong, I do long for certain phases, habits or stages to end. But there is something miraculous in each and every age.
5 for 5 with

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


This will be a post without pictures. There's a conflict about sharing pictures going on around here. I'm fine with it, he's not. Our conversations about it have got me thinking... and the topic for today is pictures, so here goes.

I'm trying to be open, to hear his fear and to find a compromise that feels safe for us both. His basic idea is: The internet is a place where creepy people go to look at pictures of kids; there are bad people out there and we don't want to get hurt. My basic idea is: I want to connect, to share my life; what is the risk, really?

For those of you who have decided for or against sharing pictures of loved ones (or yourself), tell me about how you decided this. What benefits/risks did you consider? Was there something that decided it for you? I really want to know.

This conversation has caused me to examine some of my long-held beliefs. I have led most of my life with a positive, open outlook. People are assumed good, kind, and well-intentioned unless they show me otherwise. I give second, third, and fourth chances. In chaplaincy we called this, "unconditional positive regard". This perspective has served me pretty well so far in this life. I admit there have been a few moments of being a doormat. I have been taken advantage of on occasion. Those occasions have been few, however, and looking back on them shows me that my openness was usually paired with naivete.

I believe in the inherent goodness of people and I want my kids to, too. But I also want to protect them from harm, to give them backbones to withstand the cruelty and ignorance that they may sometimes witness. The world is full of magic, love, questions, wonder, hope, and new life. Right now I am teaching them with my every action about this. Both girls watch me intently, gauging my reactions to new situations. They are hard-wired for this. As they take in information, I want them to be set on a path toward a life of happiness, open to the goodness of this world. This means that they must know about danger and be able to move through it. My prayer is that it all balances out towards the good.

5 for 5 with

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Words used to be my meat, my bread and butter. As a pastor I provided the words that helped guide folks to and fro through the world. I tried to help folks move toward some healing, goodness, hope, joy, justice, each week something else. I preached and sang and prayed every week, leading my community in worship. Towards the end of two years it seemed that the words were drying up. I couldn't get enough poetry, silence, music, other people's words to fill my well. Then again, each week those words came spilling forth from somewhere and out they went, into the world. It was a mysterious grace, this filling up and spilling out.

As a chaplain, words were less necessary. Mostly listening was what was needed. There was a moment, at the beginning of each encounter, where words were crucial. Some words helped begin a connection, others cut off connection. For more than two years I practiced at this, never getting anything remotely like a routine down. There was no script or key. Each connection was different. The only similarity was that as soon as the door was open, my job was to be still, to listen, hold hands, be there. Words were important, but presence was critical.

Now as a mommy to two baby girls and a wife, words are my all-day marathon, my joy, my trial, my caution, my surprise, my longing, my everything again. I don't really read (unless you count blogs, and I do). There is very little poetry around me these days. Words come from the mouth of my two year old. They spill out unexpectedly from her and I wonder where she heard them (like last week when she took a bite of her fresh-from-the-oven cookie and said, "delicious!"). I LOVE getting unsolicited thank you's and pleases. It literally fills me up. Sometimes my big girl seems so grown up when I hear these words come rolling out. And then, there are the not so good things to hear. Lately, sometimes Cordelia says, "Stop it, Oliver!" to our dog or "That's enough, Clara." I know just where she got those phrases. I catch myself saying to her, "That's not a nice way to talk to Oliver/Clara/Whomever". But then, of course, it takes me about two more heartbeats to notice that I, myself, have said those very words to her and that is where she learned them. Deep breath. There is nothing like a mirror to help me see what I look like.

As the words begin to really come now, mostly I am excited. So excited to hear what she really thinks about things. SO EXCITED to be able to ask and receive answers to open-ended questions. Cordelia has had a twinkle in her eye since day one so I just know there is so much hilarity about to come into our lives.

As for the nourishment of words, well, I could use some. I have chosen, over these months, to read a few facebook posts and a blog or two whenever I get the chance. The rest of the little time I have to myself, I use to knit or take a shower or call a friend or you know, sleep. But I miss words. I miss the way they used to soothe and inspire me, the way I had a hunger for words. If I ever go back to active ministry of any kind, I will need words again. And I am actually starting to think that, as my children grow, I'm going to need words in much the same way in order to be a good mother. Mothering seems almost like a deep mixing of the skills I've used so far in my life. The giving of words for healing, inspiring, starting again. The quieting of words, opening a space for listening. The collecting of words for the tending of my own soul. All these are needed, maybe not immediately, but soon.

P.S. I am LOVING this 5 for 5 thing. Thanks, Momalom. Thanks for words and connection, for breathing new words into my life and new life into my words. Write on!

Monday, April 23, 2012


It has been more than a year since my last post here. More than a year and my baby girl's age has doubled. More than a year and a whole new person has been added to the planet (and our family). More than a year and I feel like a totally different person (and yet the same). What HASN'T changed, for heaven's sake?
On the day I last posted, this is what my daughter looked like:

This is what she looks like today:

And then, there is this one.

Life is different. Changed. New. The same. I still seem to be unable to plan meals. I still love to knit and feel driven to make things. I still fiercely love my girl(s). I am still a writing, spiritual, reflective type mama. What is new? Firstly, everything feels either divided or multiplied by two these days. Two times the baby giggles. Divided attention. Two times the mess, diapers, laundry. Two times the developmental trajectory. Divided personal time. Multiplied LOVE. (I know that's a total cliche. Too bad.)

I didn't expect the feeling of being divided to last much past the early weeks of parenting two. I am only four months in, and I know that is still technically quite early, but the feeling of being divided seems so permanent somehow. I feel forever changed by the fact of having two children. (To the other mommies reading this, I am sure you are just completely shocked to hear this.) Of course, the first time I was changed as well. Moments after conception I knew. I knew my life was no longer just mine. The second time that same feeling came again. This time the feeling was familiar, yet new. I needed to take care of one on the outside and one on the inside. As the inside baby grew, so did my feeling of being divided. When the time for giving birth came, I literally gave my little girl over to friends to take care of. It was her first night without me. Now that Clara is a part of our lives, my attention is constantly split in two. You could say that my attention is multiplied. It is certainly true that I am focusing on twice as many things at any given moment.

I'm getting better at the juggling. I love saying, "my girls". And I love it even more when I hear Cordelia's excited voice say, "Two girls!" There are moments of total exasperation. I'm not attending to Clara's every breath the way I was able to with Cordelia. Cordelia is coping as well as can be expected with these things. Clara doesn't know any different. And each day passes as we grow together.

To sum it all up: multiplied, divided, loss, immeasurable gain, more or less.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

falling off and getting back on

Hello, long lost friends!
I fell off the blog-wagon and seem to have hit my head hard, got knocked out, and have been unable to get back up and onto the wagon. Cordelia's birthday came and went. Visitors and festivities came and went. Sicknesses came - and luckily - went. All this and I have reflected and written about it not one bit. Scratch that. Actually, I reflect on it constantly, I just don't write about it.
Something else is taking up all my time. Yarn, sticks. I'm obsessed with knitting. There, I said it. I am struggling to make time for my passions (writing and knitting) and my duties (everything else). Tough stuff.
This is a good challenge to have. I hope to be back here more soon. In the meantime, see you on Facebook, Ravelry (maybe?), my couch with needles in hand, or the local yarn store, park or ferryboat.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

going back

When a big milestone is in view, I tend to go back and review what lead up to it. I roll the tape back and think on all the little moments that led up to the big moment. On the approach to Cordelia's first birthday I'm remembering this past year, my pregnancy, Cordelia's birth, and every precious minute since.
I read a birth story recently wherein a mother reflected that she wanted to go back to before her child was born. She longed to go back to the great expectation that filled her, the joy that was ahead. This desire was so strong in her.
I can see how a person might want to go back and experience that joyful expectation again. The fact that this is not possible is a good thing, at least in my eyes it is. Knowing that we can not go back makes experiencing life that much more poignant. Each exquisite moment of joy and pain is fleeting, here and then gone.
Right now I can hear my baby girl breathing on the monitor, see the sun beginning to shine more brightly than it has in days, hear someone cutting up a tree with a chainsaw far away, faintly smell the cinnamon from yesterday's muffin baking... this is just one moment in the string of my many days that I have to live.
Doug and I are in the midst of thinking about trying to have another baby. There are so many pulls and pushes on our hearts about this. Chiefly, in the middle of it all is this little girl we have growing up before our eyes. Sometimes I want to go back with her and feel those early days of pregnancy when she was our secret. Feel her move inside me and be filled with all the great expectation of waiting for her. See her for the first time. Watch her be embraced by our family and friends and see life begin to fill her and take her to unknown places. As the time went by, I savored as much as my heart could hold because I knew I wouldn't be passing that exact path again. If we do decide to open our hearts to the possibility of another child in our family, the experiences will be entirely new. There is no reliving or replaying, especially while simultaneously editing out the tough parts. Here we are, plodding away on our journey, admiring the scenery we can see as it goes whizzing by. I don't know what path we will turn onto next. I just know that there is no going back.

P.S. Some days no posts, other days, TWO! I was going to save this one and post it tomorrow... but why? This is what I was given for today, we'll see about tomorrow.

on the way to ONE

This Friday is, as you may know, a very big day around here. Cordelia turns one year old on Friday. It seems like she knows it, too. Every hour of each day she seems to get a little closer. Cordelia is having another one of those growth spurts of the developmental variety. She's becoming a toddler.
So what's new about her? Oh, simply everything. She's standing by herself, often letting go and just playing with whatever she has in her hand. Or dancing! It seems like each time she does this, it lasts a few seconds longer. Cordelia tries to stand up at any and every opportunity, somehow pulling up on things that really aren't that sturdy or stable. How incredible! In the mobility department, her absolute favorite activity is to chase the dog. With the help of a finger to hold in each hand, she takes off running in Oliver's direction, laughing her beautiful baby laugh the whole time. So far, Oliver thinks it's pretty fun too. Cordelia usually stops when she loses hold of a hand, but has figured out that she can cruise quite a distance along furniture or by holding onto a pant leg. There are occasional bumps and falls, but she is still quite cautious. Cordelia gets a look that tells me she is calculating her next move or maybe, the possibilities before her.
She has strong opinions about things these days. What she wants to eat, and when, and how. What she wants to play with and when/if she is done. Mommy or daddy. Inside or out. She now understands the sequences of activity that regularly appear in our days. For example, she knows that at the end of a meal, we go in the bathroom and wash up. Sometimes, she's excited as I carry her to the bathroom, other times she starts squirming or protesting. I try to shake things up a little bit every now and then, while still allowing her to feel a sense of normal routine. Mostly, it looks like Cordelia would like a little more control over things and, within reason, I try to give her some chances to do that.
Imitation is becoming a fun game. I imitate her and she imitates me. Cordelia is quite an observer - loves to watch things and people. We went to a restaurant recently and she couldn't eat a bite because she was too busy watching the people all around her.
I am surprised by what tickles her funny bone. She's a pretty quiet and serious person, but there are some things she finds hilarious. Kissing her feet during a diaper change. Particular moments in some of our books. Turning around and being surprised by the dog. Daddy. Playing peek-a-boo with objects in my hand, like blueberries, cheerios or a small block. When I put something on my head and ask for her help to get it off.
On the way to one year old, there are some baby things that I have to let go of. There's less snuggling. I miss the early morning snuggle times when she laid her head on my chest and settled in for a long moment of comfort, awake but calm and quiet. I miss how she used to sit still, examining and manipulating the objects that were close at hand. I used to plop Cordelia down in the middle of her room with blocks or balls or toys around her. I would sit next to her and just watch or play along. She was content for long periods of time to just sit and play. Now, we are on the move constantly like a hummingbirds flying from one sweetness to the next.
It is a busy business, this growing up. Its exhausting and exhilarating all at once. A bundle of joy and grace and frustration, more filling and fulfilling than I ever imagined.