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I grew up in a small town. The kind of town where people are born and die in the same hospital bed. Midwest dreams of nothing more than marriage and babies and your own plot of land to park your trailer…

 I chose to head West. To follow love and adventure and something else, something I still can’t quite put my finger on. I found those things in my husband and in the life that we have led since then. I chased the sunset looking for a place to stick my toes in the sand and smell the salt water air. Those places seemed golden to me at 18 and live somewhere between my memories and fantasies now that I have experienced them. 

In the last six years I have learned to let go, to forgive, to love unconditionally, and to trust in the process. I had a baby, lost a baby, and am growing new life again. It all comes down to family, first seeking my own and now trying to fit it all back together. 

So away we go. Tonight we pack up the car, say goodbye to the California home I never thought I’d own and head back towards the sunrise, to start anew in an old place. So many changes to come and I have never been so ready. 

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Aside

Every Little Piece

Emilia,

It’s been a while since I’ve written a letter like this. This one is important to me and it’s something I need to write down to remember to enforce every day in myself.

The first time I looked in the mirror and saw beauty there, I was in my 20’s. I have heard the word my entire life, but it was the first time I saw it myself. With naked lashes and spotty skin, I admired the shape of my jaw, the strength of my chin, the size of my eyes… I saw someone who I could love.

Now that I have you (and you are what it took to see myself clearly) I realize how important it is to feel that way. How important it is to bury that self-love deep into your soul.

From this point on I will make up for all of those years I missed. I will love myself now, because now is where we exist; you and I in this moment that we’re so lucky to have.

I am not perfect, but I am beautiful. I am strong. I am confident.  I am secure.

You are all of these things, too. Right now. In all of your two-year old glory. You are SO fierce. So beautiful and strong. You will do it “all by yourself.” And you do, you almost always do. At the same time, you don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. I admire you so much for that. You’ve taught me that strength comes not only from independence, but recognizing limits and seeking support.

When I told you your hair was crazy, you corrected me right away, “No, my hair is BEAUTIFUL, Mom.”

And it was. You are always beautiful.

Your anger is beautiful and a force of its own. You lash out, you scream, you don’t want to be touched or spoken to. I stay back, but still as near as I can. I sit there with my arms open and my lap waiting and you come to me, you crawl into it and your hug is just as powerful. I love you so much then. I love every tear that spills over, every scream that rocks my core. You’re so beautiful in that moment it breaks my heart.

Your love is beautiful and more gentle than I ever would have expected. You caress my face and pat my hair and look deep into my eyes. “You love me mommy?” Yes, baby, I love you so so so much! “I love you so much, too. I’ll keep you safe.” Emi, my fierce little girl, that will never be your job. I will always be your  mother, you will never have to take my responsibility onto your shoulders. Broad like mine, yet so delicate, you will always be free to be a kid.

That little sigh you make right before you fall asleep, the way your breath hitches twice; your hand gripping mine from the backseat as my arm goes numb; the way you sing E I, E I, O; the way your whole face frowns; the way you smile all the way to your toes; the color of your skin and your hair and your eyes and your lips and your nail beds; your very faint scar; your endless bruises; your baby teeth gap; your voice; your cry; it is all so very, very beautiful.

By the time you are old enough to read this, Taylor Swift probably won’t be music you listen to, but you’ll know every word to this song anyway.

I love you, little big girl.

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Every Little Piece

Seeing Signs

My father’s mother has had perhaps the biggest influence on my life. Her endless patience and unconditional love for me has shaped the way I love others and I try to live in a way that would make her proud.

I miss her every single day.

She loved hummingbirds and always had full feeders hanging from her porch. Whenever I’ve made a big decisions or have gone through something hard I see a hummingbird, even in the middle of the winter. Whenever I see a hummingbird, I see her. I feel that she sends them to me to reassure me that everything is going to be ok. They day I started to miscarry I was sitting in the front yard while the Hub took out his feelings on an ugly fountain with a sledgehammer. It was loud and I couldn’t stop crying.

BOOM!

No heartbeat.

BAM!

No heartbeat.

BOOM!

No heartbeat…

Then, out of nowhere a hummingbird flew into the yard amidst all of the chaos and came right to me. The Hub stopped and we both just watched her hang in the air like magic. I could feel my grandmother right there with me, hear her voice telling me it was going to be ok, that I was going to be ok.

Yesterday after a particularly bad day where I was barely hanging onto my sanity and negativity was all I could muster, I saw my first hummingbird since my miscarriage. She flew right up to me, so close I could have touched her, and she brought me peace. She told me again to just let go. To let life happen. So I did.

Those we love stay with us, we just have to pay a little more attention.

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Seeing Signs

Traveling TV Free

The most common advice I see for parents traveling with children is to get them a portable DVD player. It makes me cringe every time. We all traveled long before TVs in the car were an option and we all survived it. Most of us probably enjoyed it. Emi is a well-traveled child. At 2 she has already flown across the country three times (and once in utero!) and has spent countless hours in the car since we live so far out in Middle of the Desert Land, USA. She wasn’t always an easy-going car rider, in fact to start with she couldn’t be in the car for more than 5 minutes before making herself vomit from screaming. It was torture, stressful for everyone and I am glad we’re past it. Eventually she took a pacifier and that helped her stay calmer and I learned how to nurse her without ever taking her out of her car seat. It was still bad. I considered turning her front facing against everything I believe, simply because I was so desperate for the situation to be different. It was a rough road to travel (no pun intended) to get where we are now, but I am glad I waited and trusted her to self regulate as she developed.

She is still rear facing at 2 years old and a little over 20 lbs. I will keep her rear facing as long as she is within height and weight limits. I think it’s important to note this because even rear facing, you can help your children become self-soothing, independent, happy travelers simply by trusting them to be. I traveled often as a child, always by car, and we didn’t have cell phones or TV’s to keep us entertained. We had our imaginations, small activities, and each other. My memories of family road trips are some of my favorite ones and I want Emi to have that experience as well.

Before starting out I packed Emi a little bin of activities: booksa coloring book, a magnetic drawing pad, wooden musical instruments, and a puzzle. I used velcro to secure the puzzle pieces so she would be able to play with it vertically. I made sure to have music she likes on my phone and I also packed her some snacks in these awesome spill proof snack cups, and a water bottle. I tried to keep it limited but varied, as not to overwhelm her with options.

Emi happily occupied herself for most of the ride playing independently. What was supposed to be a 3.5 hour drive turned into 7 hours and it was tough for all of us towards the end. As she started getting restless she wanted to be involved more with us. So we all sang songs and played games. It was during these times that we had the most fun and the car was filled with laughter. I know that by getting through these tough times instead of distracting her from her discomfort or boredom, I am equipping her with important life skills. Sometimes it’s hard, but it’s not impossible and it’s so worth it. Next time around I will try to incorporate her toys into the drive if she gets restless, but since she can’t see out the window yet it’s a little hard right now. We could have used her Brown Bear, Brown Bear book to practice animal noises or her car puzzle to look for those types of transportation as we drove. There are always more ways than one to play with a toy, so keep reinventing.

On the return trip, once we got close to home, Emi started to get tired. All she wanted was for her dad to sing her songs and Mommy to hold her hand and we were happy to oblige. As the sun set with her little hand squeezing my fingers and Ross softly singing You Are My Sunshine, I couldn’t have been happier.

Traveling TV Free

Monday Mindset

I’m recovering from a vacation hang over, so enjoy this adorable video of Emi flipping her very own tire!

I have lots of pictures from our trip coming this week, once I get a little time and a lot more sleep.

Monday Mindset

Wordless Wednesday

1 more day…

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Wordless Wednesday

Monday Mindset

Image via Flickr
Image via Flickr

I don’t feel like writing today. Emi had a hard night last night which translates to me having a hard night, which translates to suck. I got so little sleep that I called into work and let them know I would be late just to get a couple more hours of shut-eye. Top it off with my body being on the fritz, skin irritation in places you neeevveerr want to have a rash, and about a thousand things on my To-Do list, I’m definitely not ready for it to be Monday.

Still, here I am typing out words that don’t really mean anything just because I need the outlet. I have to pour them out of me so I can find perspective in them.

Because my daughter slept horribly, but she’s healthy and a bad night’s sleep isn’t the end of the world. Because I could call in and sleep a few more hours without worrying about making ends meet when so many are trying to figure out how to make it through Sequestration. Because we all woke up at all. Our town is currently filled with smoke from a fire that is ravaging national lands, has destroyed homes and after 5 days is still only 40% contained. And that’s not even the worst of what’s been devastating towns across the US. My heart is heavy with grief for all of the devastation people are facing with the determination to carry on.

So it’s Monday and I am tired, but I am also incredibly blessed to be dealing with nothing more than a bad night of sleep.

Monday Mindset