Morning Chores

Morning Chores

Fiona does chores, feeds chickens and collects eggs

It was 10 minutes before I had to be out the door for work. The baby had been up several times throughout the night (teething) and I was tired. Husband had made me a cup of tea and a breakfast sandwich to go. Since I was ready early (solely because I didn’t have enough time to shower), I thought I might indulge in eating at home instead of on the run.

“Why don’t you take Fiona out to feed this morning?” Husband prodded.

(I used to do all the feedings of our animals. But when I was pregnant, I had severe nausea and fatigue and struggled to make it into work each day, so Husband took over. His work day is more flexible than mine anyway. When I went back to work after my maternity leave, I was the one juggling Fiona’s drop-off each morning, so while I hurried out the door with more bags than I could count (laptop bag, purse, lunch, bottle bag with empty bottles for me, bottle bag with full bottles for her, diaper bag, etc.), Husband continued to feed.)

When he suggested I feed this morning, my first thought was “you’ve got to be kidding me”. Read more

A Select Few

Fiona's first Easter egg hunt.

“Did you dye eggs with Fiona?” I was asked today. My heart lurched.

We’re approaching Fiona’s second Easter, and I’m once again facing the question of what traditions to partake in. I love traditions. Really love them. So it’s hard for me to step back and acknowledge that I can’t do everything with Fiona.

But I can’t. I’m a working mom. I commute for over 2 hours every day. I just can’t do it all. I need to be okay with that.

“No,” I replied hesitantly. Was I letting my daughter down by not giving her this special activity? “I have limited time. I had to choose what to do.” Read more

Creating sensory memories

Creating sensory memories

Walking the baby down our country road
As we’ve come around to one year since my maternity leave, I’m realizing how acute my sensory memories of that time are.

Sound: Anne Bogel’s voice while listening to the podcast “What Should I Read Next” (newly discovered during my maternity leave) and narrator Hillary Huber from listening to the audio version of Katherine Reay’s Dear Mr. Knightley, the first audio book I attempted on my leave (which is when I rediscovered audio books).

Taste: Spinach salad with craisins, walnuts, avocado, blueberries and an olive oil/balsamic vinegar dressing that I ate almost every day for lunch. Also, the Adventure Trail Mix from Aldi that got me through all the late night feedings.

Smell: New baby, of course. Also, spit up. And the dirty diaper of an exclusively breastfed baby, which I’ve heard likened to buttered popcorn.

Feel: The feel of my CityMini Jogger handlebar bouncing along the gravel road during my daily walk. Read more

Belly Laughs

Belly Laughs

Fiona belly laughing

The beauty of a one-year-old is that they don’t care if they are wearing mismatched clothes. They don’t care if they are covered in dog hair (after gleefully stealing the best spot in the house in the center of the dog bed). They don’t care if they have snot dried under their nose, or pizza sauce on their cheeks. It doesn’t matter. They aren’t self-conscious.

I had a choice yesterday to embrace the joy and freedom of that attitude, or shut down under the embarrassment and shame of our culture. While nursing, Fiona realized she could lift my camisole and see my belly. Oh, she thought this was the best thing ever. She could lift and lower my shirt, exposing and concealing the one part of me that still bears the signs of pregnancy. Squishier than it used to be, stretch marks marring my once-smooth skin. Delighted with her new game, she started poking my belly.

I had a choice — tell her no, pull my shirt back down, teach her to be ashamed of such things. Or, play back. Read more

Contentment

Contentment

Fiona in the Spring

“Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

It’s a verse I’ve heard since my youth, one I have often striven for to varying degrees. Contentment remains…elusive, though. In fact, I believe contentment looks different in varying phases of life. The lessons learned about contentment as a single 21-year-old are useful, but different than the lessons in contentment as a wife and mother in my 30s.

We have done a lot of growing, a lot of striving. We have purchased a house, moved up in our careers, made significant changes, renovated a home, had a baby, and so much more. While all of these are good things, they aren’t centered on contentment (though they are not inherently opposed to it either).

As I moved into this new year, as I continue to learn what it means to be a working mom, as I strive to balance my life and my career, I feel a call toward contentment. Read more

Mama

Mama

It is, perhaps, the sweetest word I have heard in my entire life. Not the “Mama” spoken by Husband, or Nana or Grandma or even myself. That has been uttered for months now. Nine of them. Longer, if you include my pregnancy. No, the sweet little two-syllables now uttered by my baby girl.

I knew it would come and didn’t really worry about it. I wasn’t jealous that she said Dada first. After all, she ALWAYS wants me. I was glad for Husband to have something special. But now that she says it, now that she utters that beautiful word, I am enraptured.

She crawls toward me, “Mama, Mama, Mama.” She cries from her crib when she doesn’t want to nap, “Mama?” She (apparently) invokes my name when angry at the nanny, “Mama! Mama!” She sleepily murmurs my name when I pull her from her crib for middle-of-the-night nursing sessions, “Mama…Mama…”

I can’t get enough of it. Oh, perhaps some day it will start to get old, the incessant, never-ceasing iterations from little voices. But right now? Today? I am relishing each and every instance.

Mama and Fiona

Nine Months

Nine Months

Nine months old and loving life! Fiona is developing her own opinions about things, continues to eat anything placed before her, and is clearly starting to form words, most notably Dada. She is starting to take regular naps for the first time in her life! Still army crawling, she goes anywhere, gets into anything, and pulls herself up to standing now. She is curious and in any new situation studiously observes everything in fascination. She blows raspberries with Daddy and clicks her tongue at Mama =). Her laugh lights up our life.

Fiona Rose Marie, nine months Read more

Loss

Loss

It’s been a while since I’ve written about loss…but it is rarely far from my mind. I guess that’s really what I want to say. Just because you don’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there, simmering just below the surface. Remember that when you speak with someone experiencing loss.

We lost Michael more than three years ago, almost four. But that loss is still so very present.

There’s the green ribbon from last fall’s Out of Darkness walk, green representing a sibling.

I was glad when Husband and I ventured out to attend the walk. I thought it would be good for him, for us. I had no idea how comforting it would be to walk among so many people and identify their loss through the color of their ribbon. All those wearing green knew the pain of losing a sibling. I didn’t feel so alone anymore. There truly are others who understand. I hope Husband felt that too. Read more

One Thing: The Library

One Thing: The Library

Historic Chuckatuck Virginia libraryOne Thing: Where I share one thing that is making my life better or bringing me joy.

I love our library. Just a few miles from our house (2.1 to be exact), I have dreams of me and Fiona biking down to the library to five into books or story time or star gazing nights.

Just one of the branches of the Suffolk Public Library, Chuckatuck is easily the smallest permanent library I’ve ever seen, just 2,000 sq ft. And the cutest. The building was formerly the cafeteria of Chuckatuck High School (the building that is now Sauders Supply) and in 1989 it was given new life as a library.

It has everything a library needs: books, a librarian, a few computers, WiFi access, and a children’s section where littles like Fiona are invited to stay a while. Mondays (not every Monday, but maybe once or twice a month) are now my library day. The library is generally only open during working hours on weekdays, but it is also open on Monday evenings. Read more