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."

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Fancy Lessons

A little while back, the girls went to a "Fancy Nancy" birthday party for their little friend, Gwen. They got to 'accessorize' with tutus and pearls, feather boas and tiaras. Then they sat down to a lovely afternoon tea party complete with lemonade, scones, pastries and... wait for it... parfaits. They were even given fancy-lessons on how to hold up your pinkie while you drink, how to dab your mouth daintily with a napkin, and of course, how to talk "fancy".
If you have read the book, you know exactly what I mean.
If not, oh, my! You must go straight to the library and check out the book, today.
Yesterday, Tessa asked, "Mama, ya know how you say 'escuse me' real fancy?"
"No, I don't. Tell me, how?"
"You say: 'Escuse me... WAAAAA!!!" she said very seriously, the last syllable pitched like a very loud chicken with a speech impediment asking a question.
I was confused.
She wandered off repeating her fancy pardon several times to herself, and then, as she got a few rooms away, there it was, clear as day; I heard her fancy little voice crooning something that sounded ever so much like; "...escusez moi!"
I feel fancy already.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Garden Lesson I: I feel the need to seed

This morning I woke, tested my blood sugar, got dressed and went straight out to the backyard. I can't explain it, but I needed to plant something. I dug through the seed packs on my gardening bench until I found an envelope of impatiens, then looked around for a shady spot I could plant them. The rains last night left the pot I chose wet and welcoming, so I didn’t even have to water. I came inside to drive the kids to school, bringing with me my whole basket of seed packs. I didn’t feel satisfied. There was a point I was needing to get at, but my brain hadn’t found it yet. As I drove through town, I began to realize what it was.

There is only one book in my life besides the scriptures that I have read repeatedly; Eat More Dirt: Diverting and Instructive Tips for Growing and Tending an Organic Garden by Ellen Sandbeck. I pick it up and find within it’s pages nuggets (or aggregates, as gardeners would prefer) of wisdom and philosophy. It is not, for me, so much a gardening book as a way of looking at my life and the challenges it presents.

In the book, we learn that we often create gardens that we hate to tend. We buy plants we love, only to watch them perish in the wrong soil. We long for bursting blooms and bountiful harvest, only to be rewarded with the munched on stems of sun loving plants that are struggling in the shady locations we have placed them. We battle weeds, the same ones, or children of the prior generation, out of the same spots over and over again.

I got my book out the other day to loan it to a friend. I opened it’s cover to read the inscription in my father’s block script; Laine, I promise, the more dirt you eat, the happier you will be. Happy Birthday. Love, Dad”. It is the last gift my father gave me before his mind clouded up and dementia began to take root. I love that book for so many reasons.

I hadn’t intended to start reading it again, but before I knew it, I was well into the first chapter before I finally set it aside to give to my friend the next morning. This time I read about battling weeds, particularly those that grow out of the cracks in the cement. Of course, as chemicals -which easily flow off the walkway and into the drains that lead to the river- are certainly not a conscious option, one might be left with the task of constantly wrestling the weeds out by hand each time they popped up. The author suggests something so obvious and yet so elegant.

Nature is a modest lady, and she wishes to keep herself covered when bare. If you don’t cover her, she will cover herself. Why not do it for her?

When I got home from taking the kids to school, I dug through my seed basket collecting all of the freebie wildflower seeds that I have saved from baby showers and the bank (why does the bank give out wildflower seeds?). I mixed them in a bowl and headed out. Armed with not a spade, but a toothpick, I got on my knees on the front walk. There, already one step ahead of me and very much a confirmation that this was a wise plan, a single alyssum flower from those planted in a pot nearby sprouted up from a little green stem in the crack of the step.

I pinched out weeds and began shoving tiny seeds into the cracks, packing them down with the toothpick. I focused my efforts in the places where the weeds were the healthiest. If a weed could thrive in that spot, surely these little seeds had a chance.

As I pulled the weeds, I found other undesirables. Several weeds gave way to expose the opening to ant's nests. One weed gifted me with a hidden slug that I half smashed in my bare fingers before I released my grip. It limped, if slugs can limp, away down the crack to look for another hiding place. I had to wash twice to get the slime off.

I am sure there is a metaphor taking root for me here, though it is not quite clear. Maybe I like the idea that those places in us that are a seedbed for ugliness can become the receptacle for goodness if when we, after countless attempts at weeding out the qualities in ourselves that we find undesirable (only to find that they have sprouted up again and again), would only take an extra moment to replace the bad seed with a good one. Our souls and lives are fertile places, and if we neglect to plant seeds of goodness in the cracks that we all have, our very nature might sow ugly thoughts, habits and behaviors. Slimy things and creepy crawlies thrive in those cracks, and can be hard to evict once they have set up residence.

Maybe it speaks to me because dealing with the weeds in one small crack seems more manageable than wrangling those that are thriving and sprawling in other places in my yard. A few days ago, that same friend offered to come help me with house work. “You are going to think I am crazy,” I said impishly, “but do you think we can just pull weeds?” There are some tasks that are so much bigger than I am. But a crack? That I can handle alone.

Those little seeds have an uphill battle. Certainly they are not starting out under the best of circumstances. Hopefully they will hang on and maybe even thrive, even if it’s only a few that do.

Sunday, May 23, 2010


"Mom, I sink you din'ent notice you got Effan colored-food ceweal. Did you not look and buyed it cuz you fohgot to look?"

I guess that day I became a hypocrite. I almost always refuse to buy anything with food coloring in it. But I break my rule for the kid's birthdays with sugary, colorful cereal, M&M's and neon cake frosting.

Apparently, to Tessa, I broke more than just my rule.

Adam called from camp at 8:30 the other night to wish Ethan a happy birthday. He had borrowed two quarters so that he could make the call. Ethan's eyes welled up with tears.

Ethan: "Dad, can you help me with this problem?"
Me: "Do you want me to help you, Ethan?"

Ethan: "No offense mom, but I think dad would be able to help me better with this one."

"Your mom can do decimals and fractions." His father called out in my defense.
I am glad he couldn't see the freaked out look on my face.
This time, I think Ethan was right.
Ellie sat and watched me dress today. She stared at my belly-dome.

"Are you going to have babies when you grow up?" I asked.
She replied abruptly.
Surprised, I smiled back, "Oh, once this baby is born you will change your mind and want twenty."
"How do you know?" she said intensely. "Mine might turn out ugly."

I tried not to laugh.
"What do you do if they're ugly?" I asked.

"Sell them." she said bluntly.

Tessa tripped and skinned her toe. She was sure she was dying. As the drama escalated, she was certain that a mere bandaid would not be enough.
"Maybe we should go to the hospital." I suggested.
"No!!!" she bellowed. "Dey will cut me in ha-a-aaaaaaffffff!!!"

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Learning to read his book

Thirteen years ago today, my life changed for ever.
That day I became a mother.
My passage into motherhood was preceded by a complicated pregnancy- like a storm brewing- which came to a thunderhead with a traumatic cesarean birth. In the aftermath, a nasty infection, eight weeks of breastfeeding nightmares, and 17 months of severe post partum depression left me wondering who I had become and where “me” had disappeared to. I was like a news clip of post-hurricane desolation. My walls of preparation were toppled, my windows of confidence shattered, and my heart was buried in the rubble of confusion and insecurity.

Could this really be motherhood?
But this birth, this child, has taught me more in thirteen years than I learned in all my years of school and college. No single event in my life has recreated me in the way his birth and life have. Because of this boy, and the way that he came, because I was dismantled that day, I was compelled to pull out of the debris only that which I could rebuild with. I began with examining the weaknesses in my belief system that had led me to allow others to think for me. I challenged every beam and plank to see if it would really be strong enough to hold the weight of future trials. I examined every crack in my thinking and every chink in my spirit.

Now, this is not to say that the structure I have rebuilt is invulnerable, but I would call it retro-fitted, for sure. This little boy came with a whole lot of qualities that have challenged every parenting idea that I thought I ever had. He has refined my patience with the fire of his persistence. His quirks have been the knife that let me cut my way out of the proverbial box so that I could think outside of it. His intensity has taught me that it can only be met with firm and steady love. His mouth has echoed back to me every word I wish I’d never uttered, and his face has reflected back every expression of frustration and disappointment I should have tried harder to hide. He has hardened my weakness and softened my pride. Each day he both baffles and amazes me.

We didn’t really celebrate his birthday today. He wanted to wait until his little brother got back from camp. He woke to the traditional sugar-and-forbidden-food-coloring-laden breakfast cereal, and I still took goodies to school for his class. We made homemade ice cream and he talked us into giving him one of his presents, but it wasn’t a typical birthday. Then again, this is not a typical boy.
All day I have been reviewing his life and all that has grown in my heart since those stormy days 13 years ago. I can’t believe he is officially a teenager. Worse yet, I can’t believe I am the mom of a teenager.

Tonight I thumbed through his baby book, reading the passages scratched there by a woman I hardly remember being. I had taken Lamaze, and read “What to Expect”, but no book could have been written that would have prepared me to expect what this child would bring into my life. He came with only the instruction book written in his little heart, and I have spent these years learning how to read it.

Ethan enjoying his new pull-up bar.

Post script: I need to say here that though breastfeeding was an extreme challenge, after 8 weeks Ethan figured out how to feed, and happily nursed for about 15 more months. The struggles of that time gave me so much empathy for mamas who have difficulty, and banished my judgement of women who decide not to because of how hard it can be.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Tessa hates the bath. She particularly hates having her hair washed. She bellows as the water is poured on her head, no matter how careful I am. She screams that I have gotten soap in her eyes when there is none anywhere near them, and she pronounces the decree; “I neborh gonna have a baff again!”. I ain’t the bath-every-nite kinda mama. As long as their feet are clean before they climbinto bed and their bums don’t stink, I’m good. She and I are not a good combination at this point if there is to be any hope of overcoming her fear. Afterall, you gotta face it, right?

But not long ago there was a slight shift in her. She and a little friend got all muddy and the mamas plunked them into the bath together. When I told Sophie it was time to wash her hair, with out a complaint, with out a pause, she plunged her head under the water and came up drenched, blinking and grinning.

Tessa was in shock. How was this possible? Why hadn’t Sophie screamed and cried? Why did she do it herself? When it was Tessa’a turn, she bravely plunged the front of her face into the water. She didn’t get much of her actual hair wet, but she allowed me to dump cupfuls of water on her head without a fuss. It was our first tearless bath in ages.

Oh, thank you Sophie, thank you mud.

Since then, there has been a subtle change in her. Without Sophie in the bath she did revert to some of her former fussing, but not with the intensity she had before. Then the other day, she finally agreed to lay on her back and let her head go under the water.

She was rigid and nervous, holding her head aloft in the water, not realizing that the bottom of the tub was about a quarter inch away. I gently pushed on her forehead and met resistance as she fought me. But it touched. She was thrilled. Her nervousness melted away into the warm water and she seemed free.


Fear is something that I allow to make a lot of my choices for me, and not in a good way. It keeps me from relaxing into the experiences that, like it or not, I will have to go through, and thus makes those experiences more difficult to bear. In childbirth we are taught that the muscular resistance created by us holding onto our fear increases the pain we feel. We brace ourselves, thinking that somehow in doing so we can minimize the intensity of what we feel, only to intensify it.

And sometimes it takes a push into the depths of it all from outside ourselves to reach that place where we find that we have met the limit of our fear, and it has not overcome us. But it is a battle to be fought and won in our heads. We alone can trust in what we have been told and shown by others who now fearlessly dive right in, through and beyond fear.

I appreciated watching Tessa as the thing she feared most became a blissful experience. She waved her head back and forth in the water, the warmth moving over her, the sounds thrilling her, and the freedom of the moment empowering her. Her contentment left no room or reason to hold place for her fear.

I think I know why the people of Tibet seek out the next Dali Lama in a child. When children find wisdom, it becomes them.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Tent City

"Mom, can we set up a tent like the boys did when they went camping?"
"Yes, go ask them to help you. There is a little play tent in the cupboard out there."
Was I not specific enough?
I looked out the window an hour later, and there was no longer an "out the window". The circus had come to town and set up in my back yard. Before long, extension cords were strung across the grass and the place was lit up like a roman candle.
Of course, we let the boys stay the night out there.
Guy fretted, "I am nervous about leaving the back door unlocked all night."
Funny, he didn't mention leaving our children outside all night!
Just so long as the local vagrants don't catch wind of our new tent city, I guess it will stay up for a few days.
It feels like summer is coming...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Before and After

We finally cut Ellie's hair.
She loves it.
Now she wants me to cut off more.
She is such a girl.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Picture Perfect II

When I was five I had my kindergarten picture taken wearing the same dress as my sister had worn for hers. Years later, my little sister would wear the same dress. I always loved my picture, especially my long braids that looped back up into bows.

Fast forward 33 years, and I am the mother of a five year old girl that looks so shockingly like I did at her age, it seemed only fitting to resurrect the old dress and have her wear it for her picture. I had remembered seeing it in my parents belongings at some point, but after looking and not finding it, I took on a new challenge; I would recreate it. We set out right away to grow Ellie’s hair long enough to make the little braids.
I am not a seamstress. I can barely sew, because I am allergic to new fangled technology like irons, measuring tape, and following directions. Thank heavens for seam rippers and extra fabric. I did my best. It took me the better part of the year. I completely missed picture day, make-up picture day and all of the expiration dates on my coupons for studio photos at Penny’s.
Ellie is now at the end of first grade. I did eventually finish the dress but have procrastinated having the pictures done because I have misplaced my own kindergarten picture that I intended to use as a guide for the pose. Ellie has grown and put on some weight, and the dress almost doesn’t fit anymore. To top it off, Ellie has begun begging, almost daily, for her hair to be cut.
It was now or never.
For our date last week we squeezed her into the dress, braided her hair, and grabbed the camera. It would not look like the original photo, where ever that was, but then, nothing can truly be recreated. We tromped out to the yard and snapped pictures. She flirted and grimaced, and freaked out about bugs. She loves having her picture taken and she took full advantage of her top model moment.

The dress wasn’t perfect, but it was done.
The pictures weren’t perfect, but they were done.
So much that we do for ourselves and our children is not perfect, but I guess imperfect is better than undone.
I hope, when we get to the other side of this mortal adventure, there will be some sort of wiggle room, extra credit given for trying hard, even when we miss the mark.

Monday, May 10, 2010

When does Mother's Day begin?

Mine began at about 1AM as Tessa gave her first of many gifts for the day… projectile vomiting. Oh, how I wish I had asked the girls to tidy their room before bed! Lucky for us, the bin of Strawberry Shortcake toys and a full laundry basket were sitting right there to receive the delivery. I took Tessa to the bathroom for a scrub down (“Why do I haff to fwoh up? I don’t wike dis! I will fwoh up forevoh!”) while Guy was relegated to peeling wet bedding off of the bed and picking up colored pencils that were now several shades more colorful.

At first she tossed cookies every 15 minutes, but soon we were down to every hour till dawn. Good times.

I slept in and woke as hubby dragged out of bed, refusing my invitations to snuggle, saying he had things to do. Soon the kitchen was alive and the smell of bacon wafted through the air. I was informed by four little jail keepers that I was to stay in bed. Soon, a gorgeous omelet was delivered by a tired-eyed sweetheart. A cheese, chicken, tomatoes, roasted peppers, avocado, salsa, sour cream and cilantro omelet.

It was more delicious than it sounds.

I was showered with gifts; hand made ladybug tiles and flowers to plant, clay to share with the kids, maternity clothes to wrap around this growing pod, and a sweet journal inscribed:

Faith goes up the stairs that love has made and looks out of the windows which hope has opened.” –Charles H. Spurgeon

I cried a little.

I readied the family for church so that I could go and listen to the kids sing for Mother’s Day. Tessa stayed on my lap at church and slept (Yes, I brought her, but not to worry; I was packing heat- a barf bag in close range). The opening song in the meeting was “Love at Home”, a classic in the house I grew up in. Mom humorously sang it to us when ever we fought. I swelled with teary emotion hearing mom’s voice in my head, taking a moment to acknowledge her, and feeling a little motherless all at once.

The children stood to sing “I Often Go Walking” and “Mother, I love you.” True to his promise, Adam sang and actually moved his lips, but more tears came as I realized that Ethan, now “too old” to join the little kids in song, sat nearby. I held sleeping Tessa on my shrinking lap and felt how much everything is changing. Soon she will have to share my lap and eventually, like a little bird in a nest that is too small, will find she has out grown the space. I sat surrounded by my gorgeous kids, my husband’s arm around my shoulder, my healthy baby kicking in my belly, and felt so blessed and grateful.

At home, the kitchen grew busy again and in no time Guy had created an amazing meal.

Roasted pork with a chocolate (yes, chocolate!) cranberry and lingonberry glaze that was out of this world, potatoes, seasoned asparagus that even some of the kids enjoyed, and a lovely loaf of bakery bread.

We sat at a lovely table and laughed and chatted for over an hour.

Guy slipped out for a moment and returned with one more surprise. After reading his handmade card through tears, I was stopped in my tracks as I opened the gift bag he placed in front of me. Inside were two little angels, perfect matches to the two that rest under the baby tree in the yard where our babies are buried. I had been searching for two more since losing the last two babies, but had never found them. Guy’s eyes reflected my tears.

What a precious Mother’s Day this had been.

Like so many times before, we stood side by side at the end of the day washing dishes. The kids buzzed around us making their lunches for the next day, and I was so aware of my immense blessings. I have indeed, experienced loss, but look at all that I have! I am the mother of nine spirits. I am the wife to an honorable and honest man who knows my heart so well. I carry life in my belly. I am even blessed to tend my sick little ones in the wee morning hours. After all, that is motherhood.

They say that if you live in a house and own a car you are among the top 8% wealthiest people in the world.

I think with all that I have been blessed with, I am in the top 1%.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Flying Oatmeal and Goodbyes

Tessa was angry. I am not sure what set her off, but I think it was when Ethan not-so-gently escorted her from the room while I dealt with a phone call. She had been making noise and I couldn’t hear. Ethan was trying to be helpful as he flung her into her room.

When she came out she began a tirade that would last nearly two hours. It began with a simple statement.

“I hate it heaw. I’m weaving.”

Before long she had her plan roughed out. “I will go fahw, fahw away to a house wiff a new mama and a new dad and a new bruddahs and sistahs. It will be so fardder than grandma’s and Auntie Joyce and Francine. Fahw, fahw, fahw. Dey will be my new famwee and dey will not be mean at me and get me in into twouble.” She went on for some time about how miserable we all were to live with, that I get mad at her and scold everyone, and that nobody is nice. She wept and buried her head in my side.

I had the kids go make themselves some oatmeal (insta-dinner on nights daddy is not home), while I tried to console and settle a now sobbing Tessa. The noise level from the kitchen elevated as the kids began to laugh at the effectiveness of a our newly inherited microwave that actually worked. Boiling oatmeal expanded in a bowl with lava-like bubbles. Ellie decided it was done, and as she pulled it out she burned her hands on the hot bowl, dropping the entire thing to the floor. The impact sent scalding oatmeal blobs flying through the room and plastering it onto the chairs, walls, and smacking onto the back of Adam’s neck.

Suddenly Tessa's sobs were muffled by screams from Ethan as he reprimanded Ellie, from Ellie as she bellowed that she hadn’t meant to and that her hands hurt, and from Adam, as he clenched his neck in his hands, screaming over the molten oatmeal anchored to his skin.

It was some time before I got things calmed down, burns treated, messes mopped, and tears wiped. Then, undaunted by the chaos, Tessa reminded me she was leaving. Can’t say as I blame her.

I asked wouldn’t she miss us?

“No.” she said through cascades of tears.

Wouldn’t you miss your toys?”

“I would take them wiff me right now, only I don’t have a big, big bag!” she wailed.

“How will you get there?”

“I will call my new mom. Her numbah is 11229966. She will dwive to get me.”

I asked if she wouldn’t be sad that she would miss meeting our new baby. A wave of grief poured over her as she explained that she would come back, only once, to meet the new baby and say goodbye. Then she would tell her new mom to get a new baby. She sobbed anew.

I worked on her for a while, explaining that I would miss her and all of our snuggles so much, and wouldn’t she miss them too? No, came the firm reply. I knew this was a cute pre-schooler moment that I would recount like the time Ethan packed his bags and went door to door in the apartments looking for a new family that would take him in where he wouldn’t have to do jobs. He was back soon with the dreaded news, “I guess I’ll live here. All the other moms said I would have to do jobs at their house, too.” Still, she was completely serious, and her little heart was breaking as she decided to leave all she had ever known for the great unknown.

“So I guess this is goodbye?” I asked.

“Yup.” She replied, straightening herself up, wiping her eyes and acting brave.

I felt a true wave of emotion wash over me. I knew she had no capacity to leave, yet she believed so strongly that she was leaving that for a moment it all seemed real to me. What if she really were not here? I felt a huge lump raise up in my throat, and my eyes burned.

Ellie stood a ways off, listening. They boys tried to convince Tessa to stay. Tessa grabbed the phone to call her new mom, and began dialing. “What was the numbah I told you?” she asked. I dialed my friend Nicole. I knew she would play along and try to help. They talked for over 10 minutes. Tessa would not be dissuaded, even at the prospect of leaving all her toys behind and sleeping on the floor at the new house. Dat’s ok. I don’t need all my toys. Maybe I could just bring two.” She insisted, her mood hopeful.

“You will have to pick up dog poop if you come to live with me, just like all my other kids.” Nicole informed her.

Her face fell.

It seemed we had hit upon a deal breaker. “Oh… Goodbye.” Came the disappointed reply.

“You can still come…” Nicole invited, sweetly.

“No. I sink I will call my fwiend Benjamin and live wiff him.” She said, crafting a new plan. “Goodbye.”

Moments later she got the same basic reply from Benjamin’s mama (I love my friends), only this time the deal breaker was cleaning out the cat-box. Dejected, she decided she had no choice but to stay. She looked miserable. It was not the ending I had hoped for. I had envisioned a change of heart that lead to my holding my happy daughter in my arms, telling her how glad I was that she was staying. I saw myself wiping away tears from her smiling cheeks and exchanging I love yous.

Instead she grumped off in defeat to eat some of the oatmeal.

Then, Ellie approached me, red nosed and watery eyed.

“Mom, I know it isn’t real, but when Tessa said she was leaving my eyes started to water a whole bunch.” Finally, someone in this family with some compassion! And finally, a child I could comfort after all the drama.

“Mine too, honey.” I hugged her. She started to let go a little, and I lovingly held her in my arms and stroked her head, until she farted really hard and loud right on my lap, and began laughing hysterically through her tears.

“Gross! You little cochina! I was being all sweet to you, and you go and do that!? Get off my lap!” I said with an annoyed smile.

“See,” Tessa said sternly to me from the kitchen door, “dis is why I wanna leave. You is always getting us in twouble.”

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mad Cheese

"Mom, I can't do smile cheese.
I can only do worried cheese and mad cheese and cranky cheese, but I can't do happy cheese."

-Commentary from Tessa as she practiced her smile in the mirror yesterday.

That's OK, Tess. Yesterday, I only did mad cheese all day long.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Taking time to smell the cilantro

There is a Farmer’s Market nearby that I had never been to before. With the boys off to scout camp and Guy, for a rare treat, not having Saturday classes, we slept in, snuggled, and then dressed the girls and headed out. I wore my straw hat and brought my African basket (because that’s what you do at a farmer’s market, don't ya' know). The only thing I was missing was a pair of Birkenstocks and a white linen dress. I even bought glowing, fragrant flowers just so I could carry them in my basket. It was very granola of me.

It was amazing to be there. With all of the food struggles I have been wrestling over these past weeks, what a thrill to look around me and know I could eat nearly everything I saw (try saying that when you walk through the grocery store! There are whole aisles I can’t even walk down without my blood sugar spiking). I was impulse buying completely guilt-free; bunches of cilantro, bags of oranges and bundles of broccoli.

Guy grabbed potatoes and almonds and green onions and proudly pointed out the screaming deals we were getting. We bought strawberries the sizes of plums, and sampled cheeses and fruit slices with abandon. People were kind and friendly, smiling and courteous as they took their turns at the vendor's stands. They grinned at the girls and were careful not to trample them. For me it became a whole new way of looking at food, and given my current state of fruitfulness, at being.

It was, after all, just food. We can get all of the same things at the local Safeway. But it was different somehow in the bright, glorious light of day. The vibrant colors seemed to clear my head of the clutter that has been there. The realness of buying food from out of the same hands that had, that very morning, picked and loaded it, gave me a sense of deep gratitude and connectedness to these people and the world around me. I had just needed a new way of looking at what has been there all along.

As the girls admired the flowers, a Monarch butterfly pranced around their heads fearlessly. It looped out into the market darting between people, only to return to the girls again and again to drink nectar from the flowers they admired. They giggled wildly as it flitted between them as if it had been a frolicking puppy. People stopped to take in the moment, as did I, joining in their laughter.

As this baby grows inside of me, I am challenged with the opportunity to look at things with new eyes, and of taking in this moment. I am being compelled to replace fearful voices in my head whispering that this baby may yet not make it, with other possible realities that are pressing into me as each little kick says “everything is just fine”.

I got out the cloth diapers the other day and folded them, then quickly put them away, like I was sneaking a bite of forbidden sweetness that is not yet mine to enjoy. It was the first time I have allowed myself the indulgence of picturing the baby here in our space, sharing our lives, and being a part of this family. Though we have cautiously spoken of it, I have not yet let it into my heart.

We brought home the beautiful food and flowers, and have been enjoying the bounty of them. Soon another blessing will come to us to be enjoyed. Really, it has been here for a long time already, though I have not, up till now, been able to acknowledge it.

It is time to start enjoying now.

(Tessa, taking time to smell the flowers, and me, growing!)