Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Placenta Talk: An interview with The Scarecrow


I have a theory.

Ya see, I am close to brain dead, most days. I recently explained to a friend that telling me something is like putting water into a cloth bag. It all leaks out. I forget everything. I write things on my hand, have a calender in my purse and a giant one on the wall, a dry erase reminder board, and when all else fails, I write notes to myself that I hang in places where I will literally walk into them.

I am just short of putting post-its on my forehead. But to no avail. Alas, I have no grey matter left.

But I figured it all out. Here is the deal...


You see, when a woman is pregnant her body manufactures this AMAZING organ that functions as a pump, filter, feeding mechanism and hormone manufacturing plant for her baby. It is like a lung, kidney, digestive system and pituitary gland all-in-one. It weighs a pound and a half... more than twice the size of a human heart.
And it is completely disposable.

There is no other organ in our body that we use and then throw away (though some treat their livers that way). We don't, one day, just cough up our lung and say, "I'm done". It is really amazing that in just a few months our body builds, and then discards, an actual organ. But where is that organ coming from, really? Do you know? I do.

Each placenta is a lobe of your brain.

After four kids, you are down to just your brain stem. After which, any subsequent children's placentas are portions of other vital organs, like the common sense organ, the patience organ, the energy organ, and the organ that lets you sleep. As each is discarded, the empty cavity that is created by it's loss is filled with fat tissue, because without a brain, our body can't think of anything better to put there.

I managed to come up with all that on just a brain stem. Think of what I could do if I only had a brain!



Image borrowed from Wikia Entertainment

Monday, September 28, 2009

Blinded by the light


It's nearly one AM.

I should go to bed. I will be up in 6 hours, attempting to make lunches, find shoes, and shove kids out the door by 7:55 AM. Yep, I had a few things to finish up for my new church assignment. But that is not why I am still up.

Why am I up?

Boogers, that's why. And eyelashes.

Tessa staggered out of her room a while ago, whimpering (finally, she is sleeping in her own room, but can I keep her there? No, of course not).

"My eyelash huwt." (That's hurt for all you non-preschool scholars). She coughs.

I hug her and put her back to bed.

Moments later... "Will you help me go potty?" (She says this one a lot, hence the clarity.) Then begins the tussle over the hall light. She says it huwts her eyes. I can't see to help her with out it. I win.

Sort'a.

I return a now furious, congested, and self-proclaimed blind toddler to bed. She cries for 15 minutes. Finally, cries become whimpers, and whimpers fade to blissful silence.

Moments later... "Mommy, yook ad my doze" (which is stuffy-nosed talk for My boogers are running down my face). She stands with her eyes shut (to prevent further retina damage, certainly), pointing with her finger to the snail-trail running down to her top lip. Since her eyes are shut, I get away with a quiet giggle.

I retrieve a soft, Chinese pre-fold cloth diaper for her (I am a diaper snob. Read Chinese pre-fold, think Cadillac.) and ever so gently, wipe her little button nose.

I tell her to go back to bed.

"I scaywed, it dawk." (What do I do with that? It's too bright, it's too dark... some one hit me in the head with something very hard, please.)

She curls up beside me on the couch. She throws her leg over the top of my right arm while I type, and fades into gurgly slumber.

Her leg is still there. My hand is now numb. It's gonna be a long day tomorrow.



Special thanks to husband Guy for the help with my ridiculous punctuation in this post (because) I (use) too (many) of (these)))))!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

One of God's lesser known Divine Plans

Her contractions started at about midnight. She called at 5:45 am. By 7:00 when I went to her, my friend was laboring beautifully, and quickly. We arrived at the hospital by 8:30, and she was already six centimeters dilated. She was majestic, she was calm, she was powerful, she was unmedicated; she was amazing.

At 11:24 am my friend pushed her beautiful baby girl out into the world, reaching down and pulling her out with her own two hands. I love it that baby never stopped touching her mama from the minute she entered this life. It will be a pattern - that connectedness that she will have to her mother. Though I usually don’t cry at births anymore, I cried when that baby came.

Two years ago, just one day short of the exact same date, this same mama welcomed her first baby into her family, only that birth had been fraught with stress and fear. It had been one of my most helpless feeling births as a doula. When we had arrived, they dragged mama off to do her check-in, but decided then to check her cervix without informing the father and I. With no support in the room, the terrified young woman screamed so loud it echoed down the hall. Not knowing it was my client, I thought to myself “that poor woman needs a doula.” I was heartbroken when I learned it was her. I felt like I had really let her down.

She had already been unsure of herself, and in a culture where natural childbirth is seen as uneducated, antiquated, “selfish” or hippy, she had been flooded by input from the outside that she was idealistic for wanting a natural birth. The message was clear, “You’ll never be able to do it. It’s too hard. You are too weak. Don’t set your heart on it, you will only be disappointed.” That first moment in the hospital set the general tone for the rest of the birth, and sadly the young mother was so depleted by the time she was 8 centimeters that she asked for medication, even though it was not what she really had wanted or planned for. She lamented it later, but we all do what we can in the moment to survive.

But this time, with this second birth, there was a confidence that comes with experience. She knew it would be hard, but she believed that she could do it. She was prepared, and though she was a little worried, she was committed to feeling her baby leave her body, and to welcoming it into the world without drugs in her system; to being fully present in this most amazing moment. What had seemed impossible in her mind the first time was completely possible this time.

I get a lot of criticism for promoting natural, unmedicated childbirth. I am seen as judgmental when I mention it in a crowd of women who love their epidurals. They joke about wanting to be hooked up by their eighth month of pregnancy. Women who would never consider drinking a caffeinated soda during pregnancy sign up ahead of time for a catheter to be punched into the durra of their spinal column. They are thrilled at the prospect of checking out from their body while their baby experiences the sensations of birth alone.

They see no value in the pain of labor. I do.

I believe that God, in his supreme wisdom, gave women birth. It is a sad to me that so many women miss it. It is an opportunity to experience a moment in time that cannot be had when the body is disconnected from the heart and mind by numbness. After a woman births in this way, I always see a change in her. There is a new understanding in her of her ability - of her capacity to do wherever is necessary for her child. There is the subtle goodbye to pregnancy as she feels her baby leave her body and enter the world, which echoes back to her as her baby grows to child, then on into maturity.

There is more, though. There is the father who is needed, who stands beside her and gives comfort with his hands, who endures hours of standing in one position so that she can lean on him over and over again. She will never forget his strength. It is imprinted on her to return to him again and again in her trials, to lean on him and receive his strength and encouragement. There is the husband who, watching his wife, his love, be overcome by a power that comes from deep within her with each contraction, is awestruck by the bravery of this woman to whom he has committed his life. The stereotypes of “frail woman” melt away as he sees her both vulnerable and powerful at once. He is witness to what she has been willing to do for their child, and he will never doubt her courage and strength. He becomes proud of her in a way that is unique and sacred.

It is no accident that of all God’s creations, humans labor the longest. In fact, most mammals labor for under two hours. The higher the level of intelligence in the creature, the longer it labors. In fact, dolphins and elephants actually receive help by others of their group as they labor. And the more dependent for survival the infant, the longer it takes for it to be born. In animal studies, cows and sheep given epidurals give birth and then get up and walk away, abandoning their babies. We as humans realize we shouldn’t, and are present enough to bond with our children and even with adopted children, but that does not discredit the fact that the act of truly experiencing birth creates a bond unlike any other. In the case of humans, it creates a family, and the bonds of that family are strengthened through the trial and journey that comes about through the intensity of unencumbered birth.

I went to see the new mama today, two-day-old babe in her arms. There are new worries this day, worries of not enough milk, of sleepy baby who doesn’t want to wake up to nurse, of not knowing how to recognize a problem. New days bring new fears, new challenges. But there was also the quiet confidence that comes to one who has endured. That mama knows that she has everything within her to care for her child, and that she is good enough.

When I asked her about how she felt about her birth, she simply smiled and said, “I can’t wait to do that again.”


(Photo from family archives, Tessa at 5 days old. I will replace it as soon as I have a picture of the new baby.)


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Between moments

Sometimes when things are quiet, when there is a lull
in all of the happenings,
a calm in the chaos- when life returns to normal for just a bit,

you find yourself sorting laundry and doing
the back stage sorts of things,
the boring maintenance tasks that keep life going.

It is in one of these unimportant, insignificant,
you'll-never-think-of-it-again moments,
that you look out the window
and see what your life is really made of.

Sometimes you never forget the in-between moments.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

When Julie Andrews comes to stay

Warning: cheesy post alert (and no, that does not mean it is a food post, but that my darling hubby thinks I have lost all literary tact). Cheesy or not, I figure sometimes ya' gotta focus on what ain't broke.

Rain makes me crabby and kittens are noisy
'only see snowflakes when I go to Boise
Don't care for winter, my bed needs new springs...

These are a few of my favorite things
(for under $5):

Trader Joe's Salsa Verde -mixed with sour cream and eaten with corn chips after school with the kiddos.

Capitol Aquarium. Free admission, because it's actually a store, but they have an indoor Koi pond, an electric eel named Smud (named after our local electric company), a 400 gallon fish tank with ginormous fish in it, and a cichlid named Sherbet that you are allowed to tease. We tell the kids it is Marine World, which works until they're about 5.

Fancy cheese from Grocery Outlet for $1.99. Current favorites: Havarti Dill and Smoked Gouda (Guy says it's very gooda).

My magic Filipino broom. about 4 bucks at the Asian market. Magic, because normally I can spend about 10 minutes to sweep a room with a normal lame American broom. The same floor will take about 2 minutes with my Magic Broom. I calculated once that over the course of one year, I save 26 hours of sweeping time. That means I get a whole day back every year that I use it. What other cleaning appliance gives you that?

Extreme Moose Tracks ice cream from Safeway, on sale $2.50 for a half gallon. But don't go buy it because they might run out and then I won't get any (it is like a frozen chocolate massage...um, ok, sorry. That is just weird.).

Eating a ripe pear (pealed) over the sink and being all drippy about it.

Jack Johnson, Duncan Sheik, Peter Gabriel, Natalie Merchant, Indigo Girls, Crowded House... on volume 8... 10 if the kids are home. (I got most of these at used stores like Dimple on Sunrise or via Columbia House online when they do promotions with free shipping).

Eco Thrift on Greenback and San Juan in Sacramento. Organized, great used clothes -cool stuff for $.98-$3.98, mostly. Big dressing rooms, too.

Jango.com, free streaming music. You choose the genre, then rate songs you like or don't, the website creates a radio station for you with similar songs to what you have chosen. I love it.

Second Saturday in downtown Sac (free). All the galleries stay open late. They serve cheese and crackers and fruit, and if you are lucky, you will get to see the flamboyant Tuxedo Twins in their limo.

Used books from http://www.amazon.com/ and http://www.half.com/. I have been finding some great books for under a dollar (add $3.99 for S&H and you have a whole penny left for your "go-to-Hawaii-someday" jar). My latest finds: Parenting Teens with Love and Logic (to help me with my pre-teen with full blown teen-tude), and Love and Logic Challenges (see above).

Online movie reservations from the public library. FREE!!!! Yes, you have to wait until you have grey hairs in your ears before some of them come in but they have a ton of flicks. They hold them for 10 whole days, and if you realize at 11:30pm that they were due back today, you can recheck them for 3 more weeks online.

Date nite, Barnes and Noble and my hunny. Open till 11pm, lots of floor space to sit side by side and look at cookbooks and art books. Priceless!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Fences


Warning: Placenta-Talk Zone Ahead


For 12 years I have worked in childbirth, either having babies or helping other women to do so. If I had a buck for every time I have comforted a pukey first trimester mama, an aching full bellied mama a week past her due date, or a weepy mama with sore nipples and a screaming newborn, I could pay for new carpet. It is work I love. I love, love, love being the person who gets to throw the life ring into the water. There is probably some psychiatric term for people like me, folks who like to rescue. It's in my blood; my dad was once an ambulance driver, my mom worked in mental hospitals, just about everyone in my family has dabbled in special education, teaching, fostering... rescuing. It feels so good to help someone to feel less... less pain, less fear, less confusion.

And I have a lot of personal experience to lend to the discussion(s). Cesarean, epidural complications, natural birth, postpartum depression, infection, breastfeeding challenges... I can often relate to a mama directly, just by looking in my own back yard of pregnancy and childbirth experiences. It's a regular landfill.

Today I find myself on the other side of my fence. Over here, nothing is familiar. Over here there is going to be a bunch of stuff to learn and figure out. I never imagined I would be on this side of this particular fence.

My appointment at the infertility clinic is at 11:00.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What's (not) cookin'


I had an idea.

"Honey, people have been asking me for the recipe you invented for my birthday. I was gonna just post it on my blog... I mean, if that's ok with you..."

"No."

I laughed. He is so funny.

"No," he repeated seriously. "It's not ok. That's my recipe."

I can't believe it. My most easy going husband - my I could care less, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants, devil may care hubby, feeling protective of his recipes. This from a man that seriously would be okay with me taking belly dancing lessons, with having Thanksgiving with perfect strangers (which we did once), with sharing money, food, and shelter with whom ever might need it.

But, apparently, not his recipes. Hmmm.
I have heard of these strange creatures out in the culinary-wild, but this is the first time I have encountered one in real life.

So, for now, I guess I will have to share the experience of his splendiferous concoctions via the written word. He says he may write a cook book someday. Let's all hope.

This stuff is way too good to keep to ourselves.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A new page in my book

For the past year I have been dreading my birthday. Yesterday I turned 40, and up to that point I had (have!) been a huge baby about the whole thing. To me, 40 seems half way to dead, and that’s if I live to see 80. I am in utter shock that my life is moving by so quickly, and a little bummed that I haven’t done more with it. So I pouted around for the past week and told Guy I didn’t want to celebrate.

Generally, I am a big fan of birthdays, but this one had been hard for me. The year has not gone at all as planned. The only saving grace being that I was to bridging the gap to “middle age” (eww) by bringing a new life to the planet. I guess I had hung way too much on that hat rack. This birthday had come with a sense of loss. All my life, 40 has seemed like the beginning of the end, the winding down, the getting fat-and-slow-and-sore. I pictured 40 as the year you become an extra in the film of your own life, while children take the center stage. The year you start talking about your aches and your retirement plan and new facial hair. The year you lose you.

But it came. It came despite my attempts to ward it off. I woke up yesterday, and I was oooooold (all of my over 40 friends can laugh at this point). Like I said, I was being a huge baby. I battled the kids to get ready for church and showed up 20 minutes late, already refining the “slow” part of old. But at church, no one appeared to notice that I was creaking while I walked or that there were cobwebs in my ears. Everyone seemed right pleased to wish me a good day, until by the end of church, paper birthday- crown on my head, I was feeling a little bit, well… normal. I hadn’t even had a single cardiac arrhythmia, and as far as I could tell, my bladder was holding out just fine.

But like a good little granny, I came home and took a nap. I woke to the beautiful music of my hubby on the piano, and yummy smells from the kitchen. The kids were in the studio being “busy” (“Don’t come in here, mom.” said with a secret-y smile, homemade birthday cards hidden behind backs), and all seemed well with the world.

My husband presented me with his cherished gift... hours spent in painstaking preparation culminating to the pinnacle of a gorgeous gourmet meal. Just for me, he invented a chicken breast stuffed with cream cheese, cashews, bacon, spinach and red onion, topped with smoked gouda and roasted pear slices, with a sweet, tangy pear cream sauce on the side. Beside it was a brilliant orange scoop of mashed sweet potatoes mingled with onion and bacon, followed by broccoli and French bread. A meal fit for royalty. I had a battle I have never had before; ‘which flavor do I choose as my last, lingering bite?’. It was a toughy. I went with the chicken.


Just as we were finishing up, friends began to arrive. There were so many people Guy would have invited if I would have let him, but I could only expose my aging underbelly to a select few (exposure metaphoric, of course. I'm not that far gone yet). We laughed and visited, and opened gifts. Peggy and “Baker” (as he is known to my children, David to us), did the foster-grandparent thing that they shine at, becoming hug dispensers and jungle gyms for my kids.

My friends know me so well… Heidi remembered my skin allergies when choosing bath soaps. From Steph, an elegant hand stamped box filled with “love notes”, little embellished cards for me to use for love notes for my dear ones, (and dark chocolates!). Dave had spent 3 days designing and building a journal for me (which will need be a post all unto itself). I actually want to hug it, it is so wonderful. Ethan remembered the name of my favorite childhood book, Girl of the Limberlost, and ordered it specially. We will read it together. Guy helped the kids each choose something special. That's the word for it all... special.
We indulged in an amazing chocolate Ganache cake with strawberry cream filling and the most amazing icing I have ever had (though true to form, Guy was analyzing the texture, calculating future improvements to the recipe). We stayed up really late, on a school night no less, and talked art, religion and food. We said goodbyes under a moody sky that teased with random rain drops, and I could not say enough thankyous to satisfy the bubbling gratitude I felt in my chest.

My hunny and I walked across the wet grass holding hands at nearly midnight, and soon inside, were washing up the dishes. I flashed back to our first night of premarital dish-doing so many years ago. Time has passed, but some things have not changed.

What a blessed day. I fought it so hard. Silly. If getting older means better food, better friends, more time with my sweet family and more gratitude in my heart, maybe it won’t be that bad after all. After all, I will never be younger than I am today, and I have a whole new book to write.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Somebody's watching


Everyone has little quirky things they do that they don't even notice.



Apparently, I pull my hair up into a loose pony and throw a towel
over my shoulder while I do dishes. How do I know?

Because somebody must have been watching.

Toddler Philosophy

The other day at the pool, the sun was glaring in my eyes so brightly that I sat on the step with my hands under my chin, my eyes closed. Tessa-loo came up and wrapped her drippy hands around my shoulders, giving me a start and a little chill.

"Why you got you eyes shut, mama?"
"The sun is too bright." says I.
"Den why you don't put sunblock in your eyes. Dat be all better."
Now, why didn't I think of that?

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Still Waters

In my front yard I have a little pond. I dug it myself and framed it with rocks from my sister's ranch. Right now it is a mess. It is over grown, weedy and wild. The reeds are growing up in random directions and the lily pads are so thick you can't even see the bright orange fish in the dark, still water. The nasturtiums that usually creep sweetly around the pond and dip their toes in the cool water are now just plain creepy. My Japanese Maple tree, a gift from my husband on our tenth anniversary, looks like a hairy Muppet in desperate need of a trim. The braided foliage of last season's bulbs lay brown upon the ground, and the geraniums are covered with spent blooms.

My poor little pond is a mess.

It's time for the raccoon.

About twice a year, a local raccoon stumbles upon my pond. The first time it happened, he cleaned me out in two nights. I woke one morning to find a tidy pile of fins and scales stacked neatly in the middle of the walkway. Apparently, fins are too cartilaginous for his refined pallate. He had consumed two 6 inch comets, and returned the second night for the last one. In the process, he also knocked over the reeds, toppled the rocks and pulled up the lily's root ball.

The pond looked destroyed, but really it was a blessing. It had needed a good thinning and cleaning, and I had needed a good reason. It is not a simple job, and I spend an hour or two up to my knees in mucky water before the task is complete, but it is well worth the energy. The pond sparkles afterward, the plantings look elegant instead of ridiculous, and a zen-like peacefulness descends where chaos once ruled. In my continued efforts at mosquito abatement, I restocked the pond, this time with speedy little 10 cent goldfish. It would be some months before a raccoon would even notice them, but eventually they, too, became the midnight snack of my masked bandit.

And so we go, he and I. Sometimes he tears up my pond and never gets a fish. Sometimes he cleans me out in a night. Always he leaves a mess. Always when I am done cleaning it up, the pond is more beautiful than ever.

In this cycle of destruction and reconstruction, something happened. My pump broke. The water was no longer able to circulate.
Then came what can only come in still water. A lily. A creamy, beautiful, lemon-kissed bloom that opens in the morning light, closes tightly with the setting sun, and lingers for days. It is breathtaking.

I don't know what it is about me and the lessons I seem to learn from things like chickens and gardens and old trees. Maybe God has to talk to me this way because it is the only way he can get me to pay attention.

This is what my pond has taught me: Sometimes you need a raccoon to tear things up a bit to get you to do the deep work that you were always capable of doing. And sometimes beautiful things will appear when, quite by accident, your water becomes still.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Ressurection

About 5 years ago, the 50 year old Modesto Ash tree in our front yard met it's match with a wind storm that blew through town. More than ironically, I had been standing in the front yard not 10 minutes before with the lady from the Sacramento Tree Foundation, talking about that tree. It was oddly shaped from having become codependent on a nearby Canary Palm that had recently moved to live at a resort in the desert (and that is a story for another day. Honestly, I don't make this stuff up).


As the tree lady and I went to the back yard to look at the trees there, the Ash tree succumbed to the blustery day, nearly half of it splitting off and crashing to the ground in the exact place that we had been standing. Strangely, miraculously, blessedly, the branch that was squarely aimed at our house missed, where only 3 feet away from the window, baby Ellie lay sleeping. When we returned to the front yard, we found it laying at a 90 degree angle to the direction it had been leaning. I told anyone who would listen that God reached down and pushed it aside with his mighty finger. The branch twisted and flipped, laying itself across our lawn and trailing all the way to our neighbors front porch.

We were unbelievably blessed that day.

We kept the remaining tree, thinking that we might somehow save the old fellow. A few years passed, when one day my husband noticed a terrible split running the length of another large branch. It was too much. Too dangerous. The tree needed to be "put down".

I was so sad to loose my tree. Trees are not like people to me, they are people. They have a magical life to them that I love. They whisper in the fall, and make every afternoon breeze into a ticker tape parade. In winter they carve the grey sky with black, reaching limbs, and bring glorious relief as they announce the coming of spring on budded branches. Generously, they dapple the grass with delicious shade in the summer. They may actually have fairies in them, I think.

I was sad, but I knew it had to be done.
Our wonderful 70-something friends, Dan Mealy and Gerald Corbett, came to help us bring down my dear tree. A long while of negotiating angles and ropes resulted in a very brief but very nerve wracking and thrilling 30 seconds as the tree came down. They made some well placed cuts and tied the tree to the bumper of an old Ford and with the gunning of the engine, down it came.


video

I was too sad to think of my good old tree being burned in a temporary blaze of less-than-glory as firewood, so I put an add on craigslist for an artist to come and save my tree. I wanted to give it another life, an new chance to continue on. I also wanted to support an artist and give them materials, sometimes hard to come by when you are broke and making art.

A kind young man named Chris contacted me and came out with his chainsaw to take my tree trunk home with him. When he arrived, he pointed out a meandering black line in the trunk's interior wood. It was damage from the rotting tree that had creeped down deep into the wood. "Oh, no, does this mean you can't use it?" I asked. "Oh, no." he said, and then he explained that this was coveted in woodworking. The black line would leave a beautiful and unique design in the finished pieces.

Off he went with a promise that in a year or so, after the wood had cured, he would send me a photo of the finished work. I was hopeful, but thought I might never see what my tree had become. After all, people get busy and forget. I was just glad to see it going home with an artist.

True to his word, a year and some months later, Chris emailed. He wanted me to see the bowls my tree had become. He invited me to a show to pick one of the bowls to keep. I was beyond thrilled.

It took me a while to get my act together with all that has transpired here lately, but this weekend Ethan and I went out on a date. We drove to Roseville and met Chris and his beautiful wife at their booth at the Fountains. We saw their lovely work (http://www.freerangewoodworking.com/) , his woodwork and her glass work and pottery, and enjoyed a lovely visit. He let me choose a bowl, and his wife pointed me towards one I had already had my eye on. The black damage that had spelled the end for my tree had indeed become, at the hand of a skilled artisan, beautiful designs on the side of the lovely bowl.
Isn't it wonderful that a flaw can become a strength? Isn't it amazing what a master can do with raw, imperfect, damaged material? Isn't it wonderful?

I made a meal for my family yesterday, and my son hurried to get the bowl for a beautiful salad. The bowl made the common elements of the salad look elegant and vibrant.
I am grateful that my tree was not really lost.

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them. Ether 12:27"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Little bit big

This morning Tessa came out and asked me a very simple question.

"Mommy, is I a little bit big?"

Her voice was loaded. This was not a question about stature, and the last thing she wanted was accuracy. There was almost a worried sound in her sweet little voice.

"Yes," I smiled, thinking I might know what she was getting at. "You are a little bit big." I waited for her explanation, or perhaps her proposition. Surely she had a plan for which being "big" was a crucial factor.

"Thank you!" She said it earnestly, and with relief. I was surprised. She didn't have an agenda, she needed a compliment.

When I was a kid there was a song on the radio that proclaimed "Short people got no reason." I remember being small, and making myself little promises. I told myself, "When I am big I will not say "never mind" to children." I told myself I would pick children up so they could see over the counter at the hardware store. That I would listen to children when they gave epic accounts of favorite cartoons. I promised my childhood self that I would never make children feel small.

When I was a teenager my mother once asked the deadly question, "Do I look fat in this?" In my idiotic 15 year old brain, I saw an opportunity to give my mother an obvious lesson in perseverance. I replied, "You know, Mom, you could loose weight if you really wanted to." Now that I am older, along with a little more grey matter and a few extra kilos, I know what she was asking. She felt badly about herself, and she wanted to know if she was worth loving.

This morning I think that Tessa was asking me very plainly; Am I important? Do I matter? Am I OK? Do you love me?

"Is I a little bit big?"

To me, she is HUGE.



Photo by Cute Annmarie Hall who takes the best pictures ever.