Monday, September 26, 2011

Hunt and Gather

We play the waiting game these days.  Achy and anxious, with several false alarms this week, I'm doing a grown up version of the sit-and-reach, stretching as far as I can to shake the impatience that pants to gnaw away at the peace in my heart.

I know when she's ready, she'll be here.  And it will be the day ordained for her since the beginning.

Looking back on this season I know we'll be thankful for the intensity.  We've lived each day fully, stopping dinner prep to read I Love You Stinky Face and Fancy Nancy for the 14th time each that day, abandoning laundry pre-treating for a quick game of soccer with a beach ball, walking along the sandy shores of Now hunting and gathering memories we'll store forever.

Gems of seashells can be found, bits of pink-and-cream combos poking out of gritty shorelines begging only to be noticed.  Like... walks in the perfection of a fall evening.

...and snatching up snuggles.

...extra time to tackle non-essential projects at a very no-stress-pace (thanks Jason & Erin for your time this week!)

...Jon and Eden making pancakes together Saturday morning.

...the soundtrack of college football and littles' laughter this weekend.

...blanket-stitching letters to shirts for the kids to meet their sister in.

...serious bouts of silly bed jumping.

...feasting on Play Doh snakes-turned-pancakes.  Can I get a "yum"?

...Edie and Si pressing lips to my baby-belly before going to bed...and Baby Girl pressing back.

...Jon putting kids to bed the other night, whistling "America the Beautiful" as a lullaby.

...and my Rock Star hubs in general, making a handful of just-in-case-store runs, cleaning the kitchen, bringing home the new Jane Eyre to watch together, taking the kids so I could have an hour and half all to myself.  Think I'll keep that man...I do...

...and laughing at the funny things little people do.

We notice and pause, hunt and gather the beauty of these days, knowing they are fragile and few.  Hope you can do the same today.  Happy Monday, all.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Missing Her

I've been sipping morning coffee in one of her mugs all week, wanting nothing more than to find myself transported across time and space to the haven of her kitchen table. 

Few friendships have been so easy.  Few places have felt so safe.

I always miss my grandma but my heart aches in deeper ways when I await another little one soon born to my arms, knowing her charm and grace, her strength and laughter only from photos and stories shared.  This little girl we wait for will bear her name.  And that blesses and shatters my soul all at once.

A lot of times, I share with you the things I love.  Dance parties in our kitchen.  Simple days in coffee houses or at the park.  Celebrating life of those we hold most dear.  But I hate that a flower, a life fragrant and lovely, can spring up only to be blown away as if it had never been rooted there.  I hate the thought that its place could be forgotten.  And I refuse to let it be so for my Grandma Marge. 

And so, we remember.

Last year we started a family tradition of celebrating her birthday, September 19.  We broke out her dishes and bowls, mugs and glassware.  I made her vegetable soup, complete with the pasta alphabets she always threw in to keep it fun.  No matter what time of day or night we finally landed at her house growing up, her soup waited for us on the stove.  We finished last year's meal off with typical-Grandma-Foote sides: Mike-Sells potato chips, sloppy joes, dill pickle spears, a can of fruit cocktail with sliced bananas that no one ever ate, and texas sheetcake.

I wasn't up for all that this year, so we opted for a simpler-but-still-very-her meal: grilled cheese with tomato and onion, tomato soup made her way (equal parts Contadina tomato sauce and milk, butter and pepper), popcorn, that can of fruit cocktail plus banana, and Little Debbie Swiss Rolls which she would have on hand to offer someone who stopped by unannounced.  Pandora supplied the hymnal backdrop.  And I ate the fruit this year.  It's still gross.  Sorry, Grandma.

I'm thankful.  Thankful for her life, for the richness of her days.  I'm thankful for the years I spent close to her, college days filled with philosophy over laundry and decaf hazelnut coffee, nights over Rummikub and laughing till our sides hurt, Christmas tree trimming, praying around her table...  I'm thankful for the months I spent living with her, breathing her in...watching her put in curlers and apply lipstick with grace.  Adoring her as she sat reading mail to a blind neighbor or conducting imaginary orchestras in the kitchen. 

And I'm thankful for the rallying of those who knew her, loved her, refuse to forget her.  I'm thankful for the sharing of stories, for the new good times, for the way I see so much of her in my aunts.

Photo by Kenna.

Photo by Kenna.

And I'm thankful for a little-girl-namesake, who decided not to be born on my Grandma's day, but pick her own speical day, instead.

A sweet little girls' family picnic celebrating Baby Love last Saturday.

For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
Horatio G. Spafford,
It Is Well With My Soul, 1873

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Squeezing the Day

The hospital bag is packed, gifts from Baby Love to Edie and Si tucked inside.  Three car seats have taken up residence in our Freestyle.  A Pack-N-Play avec bassinet is set up in the corner of our room.  And inside a freshly organized closet, little pink blankets are washed and ready to wrap around a new little person.  A Craigslisted dresser resides in the guest room/nursery, holding tiny little diapers and powder-fresh sleepers.  The mobile that will eventually hang above Baby Girl's crib has been made, paper origami cranes strung to entertain little eyes learning to focus. 

And we are letting go of the List. 

There are a lot of unchecked boxes...and I may attempt to tackle a few more items.  But in reality, the curtains don't need to be hung in every room before Baby's arrival.  The closet under the stairs isn't required by law to be efficiently organized.  The trim around the fireplace doesn't have to painted.  And our family will survive, even if I don't get that strawberry bread made for the freezer.

There is a greater list that now governs us, and it has only one box to check; only one priority...squeezing the day. 

To slow down and notice the littles in our home that are growing so fast.  It wasn't too long ago we were preparing our home for their arrival...

 And to let the things I might have missed otherwise continue to amuse and surprise.

To juice this time, these fleeting days, for every last drop of our now.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Feathered and Perched

I cannot believe the time that has passed between this post and the last.  It feels like a week max, but there it is, date stamped obviously at the top.  And three weeks later...

Our anniversary was lovely.  Thank you for your emails, your facebook comments, your texts.  I have been moved by your own stories, rallies, and heartache.  We hold to the hope of newness in each day and the ability to be who we want to be. 

Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul and sings the tunes without the words and never stops at all
Emily Dickinson

The simple took us by the hand August 9 and spun us around on the dance floor a few times: a picnic breakfast quilt-side at a park, littles chasing ducks and childhood, a three hour family nap in the afternoon, a walk together in the evening.  Jon and I celebrated with a sushi-date-night-in (thanks for the idea, Sara!) after kiddos were tucked under blankets to dream.  And true to this season of life, our date night was interrupted by a little boy cutting molars, but we didn't mind.  We are more than us now.  And we celebrate that, too.

The last three weeks have been full.  Jon spent ten days surrounded by tennis and one of his truest friends.  I fiercely value this annual week+ away for him - we realized early on in our marriage that we could not be all things to each other.  We need get-aways with friends - they make us better people, a better husband/father, a better wife/mother.  I'll never be one of the guys and goodness knows Jon'll never be my girlfriend. 

I filled our days back at home with walks and projects and family.  And it was good.  But after ten days of sleeping on his side of the bed wearing his stranded t-shirts, it was so good to have Jon home.  And we celebrated in the way we've done best this year: unexpectedly.  Eden fell off a chair after dinner and broke her clavicle.  Sha-blam.  Welcome home, honey.

It's September.  I'm 35 1/2 weeks pregnant tonight.  And I'm feeling the coexistence coming to an end.  Baby girl has far less room to move and stretch and I grow more uncomfortable, making multiple trips to the bathroom throughout the day and night.  I want to live in the yoga pants I've had since pregnant with Eden, worn with each of my littles, broken in now and perfectly comfy.  Listing and nesting has kicked into high levels, however, have ebbed.  But this last weekend we escaped as a family of four-almost-five to celebrate what we've been and what we will become. 

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't anxious.  There's still little blankets and onesies and socks to wash, beds to sort and put together, car seats to clean and rearrange in our car.  I worry about laboring early with too many items unchecked on my to-do lists.  And I worry that I won't have what it takes once Baby Love gets here to be the mom I want to be for my kids.  That I will be efficient but cold, hard-working but undelighted.  I worry about becoming lost in the demands of motherhood. 

But hope is the thing with feathers.  And it perches in the soul.

We are merely moving shadows,
and all our busy rushing ends in nothing...
And so, Lord, where do I put my hope?
My only hope is in you.
Psalm 39.6,7

Hope in a God who is strong and able.  Hope in the parenting He provides...and in the healing He gives when we fail.  Hope in the power of choice and new tomorrows. 

I pray hope floods your soul today, humming the tune without the words and never stops at all.