Friday, September 21, 2012

Everything's Not Lost

When I was a young girl, I would daydream about who adult me would be.  I didn't have all the particulars worked out before adulthood hit me like a giant sledgehammer, but I did have a lot of the details figured out for certain

For starters, my hair would be long and flowing and crimped to perfection every morning. I would be an artist. An inspired, creative soul - always busy, always somewhere to go, and always - always  - running late. I would wear press-on nails and colorful plastic jewelry.  I would have lunch with my sisters on weekends.  For some reason in these childhood fantasies I had a driver. I wasn't rich.  In fact, in my fantasies I lived in a studio apartment with three cats and a hamburger phone.

Adult me never drove the family car into a ditch in these daydreams.

With her baby in the backseat.

Because she was dodging wildlife on a winding street a la Mario Kart.

But real-life-adult-me did just that.  I was on my way to meet D for lunch one lucky afternoon.  I know we see each other every day before and after work.  I know we talk periodically throughout the day.  But having lunch together with just one of our kids instead of both of them is truly the closest we would have been to a date in a depressingly long time.

I was embarrassingly early for our lunch, so I decided to drive around a nearby neighborhood and look around.  Since we're new to the area, I thought it would be nice to learn some of the roads. I was driving 20 miles an hour in a neighborhood.  There was hardly any traffic.  An animal ran in front of the car and I swerved to keep from hitting him.  Then another, and I had to swerve much quicker to miss that one.  I over-turned the wheel to get back into my lane at a curve in the road and drove off into a ditch.

But not just any little drainage ditch. I drove into the mother of all ditches, into a little pole that mercifully collapsed upon impact. I was singing along to the church radio. I wasn't driving fast. I was happy. It was sunny. I could not wait to have lunch with my adorable husband.  It all happened very fast. My sunglasses flew off of my face. My legs were locked. I had my foot on the brake. My baby was asleep in his seat.

And that was all I could think. The car stopped and I put it in park and opened the door and ran to the baby.  He woke up startled after I was stopped. Thankfully, someone in a nearby house came out and I asked him to get the keys out of the car for me.  Another driver, a woman, stopped and I asked her to call the police.

All I could do was hold the baby. By the grace of God, we were fine. I was a little banged up. He was perfectly fine. 

D made it to the accident before the police.  I sat in a chair in a driveway nearby with little brother. The car was towed away. D drove us home.

I have never felt so terrible about something that was completely my fault ever.  This was my first real accident and I can't imagine bearing the burden of driving ever again.  It's a tremendous responsibility and all I can think is that there are a million roadside ditches that I have driven past and never even noticed.  There are a million other drivers who could just as easily swerve to miss something and hit me instead.

I can only hope that time will make me feel like less of a total failure, but for right now, the repair shop is estimating 3000.00 in damages, which - thankfully - the insurance company is covering. I still can't believe I drove the car into a ditch.  Childhood me would be so disappointed.

We are fine. We will be fine. The car will be fixed. The baby is too young to remember. Tomorrow is another day and I don't have to think about driving again for at least a week or two.

Last weekend, we all went to the Wizard of Oz festival locally. Who knew such a fest existed?!  Turns out, everyone within a hundred mile radius, I believe.  It was crowded!  Lots of food and arts and crafts. 

LOTS of Dorothys.

The weather is beautiful.  Birds are migrating through. Leaves are falling in true Midwest Autumn fashion. Today it rained a bit. I trimmed the rosebushes and washed the huge windows on the outside.  little brother sat in the stroller and watched. I made spaghetti for dinner.

Tomorrow we'll have breakfast with D's parents and borrow their car to get some groceries.  Next week, we'll rent a car so Big brother doesn't have to miss any baseball. 

 I will be looking into that driver, childhood me.  You were smarter than people thought (except the crimping).


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Month Ten!

little brother --

You are growing so fast. You grow as you play. You grow as you sleep. I watch you learn by doing, I watch you watch us.  Sometimes you repeat sounds you hear, simple sounds that sound so beautiful in your little baby voice.  I lift you up from your nap and I can feel that you've grown. I feel you getting heavier and heavier and feel helpless, wishing to keep you as my baby forever. 

I imagine you as a little sapling with arms like branches and fingers like twigs and a little nest of golden-blonde hair.

Sometimes you cry a tired, heart-broken cry with your arms reaching as much as you can reach them to me.  I hold your ear to my heart and hush your tired baby hair.  We sway and hum and I listen to your breath so sweet.  Your tears feel hot against my skin.  I love when you are snuggly like this, tired of the day and the sounds.  Other times you are like a wild animal, squealing to be set free when I just want to cuddle you a little longer.

Tiny teeth are sprouting from your bottom gums.  You like to test them. You like to bite our fingers. Sometimes you crawl up to us and pull yourself up on our legs as we sit.  You look at me, smile, and bite my knee with your itty bitty teeth.  Sometimes you and I sit on the floor and share an apple or a plum.  You like to dig your teeth into the cold fruit and suck as much juice as you can, like a little hummingbird.  When I look to see where you bit, all I see are two tiny holes that you've made.  You look so proud.

You are starting to stand and occasionally will take a few steps.  You're very apprehensive to walk. Sometimes you'll stand and flap your arms wildly until you plop onto your butt.  Sometimes you'll let yourself fall forward.  Sometimes you panic and squat down to avoid falling. If your dad and I are very close, you'll take a few steps, only so you can dive into our arms.  I'm in no hurry for you to walk. I can barely keep up with you when you crawl.

You are a wonderful traveler. We like to put you in the backpack carrier and go on hikes.  You hold out your arms and try to touch everything within reach.  You pull petals off wildflowers.  You wave pieces of grass and let them go into the wind.  When we go to Big brother's baseball games, you sit on a blanket with us and put your feet in the grass.  You watch people go by, you sit on our laps and look out the windows at the trees.

You watch the cats sleep or jump or play and you squeal with delight.  You call out for your 'Dahdah' over and over.  Sometimes you whisper it.  The moment you see him, your face is in love and pink and just elated. 

I come in your room after a nap and you smile so big.  I pick you up and you bury your face into my neck, you open your mouth so wide and hum into my cheek. 

Big brother comes home from school and says hi to you.  You flap your arms and squeal and make all of the noises you know.

I hope you know we feel the same way about you. 

In two months, you will be one.  I cannot believe how quickly this time has passed.  I cannot believe how completely I love you, how much joy you have brought into all of our lives.  I am so blessed to be able to watch you grow, even though I wish you would slow down sometimes. I feel so blessed to get to see you when you wake up in the morning, to kiss you before you fall asleep. Thank you for choosing me to be your mom.

I like you, I love you, I will always protect you.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

King Harvest (Has Surely Come)

The old fields at Moraine are in full goldenrod glory.  The hummingbirds are drinking more sugar water.  Deer are gathering together in the evenings for dinner.  Big Brother is looking under logs for salamanders.  Little Brother has been snugly in the mornings.  Sweetheart has the windows open.  We picked a few pumpkins from our garden on Saturday.  Last week we went to Taltree Arboretum and walked the trails in the heat.  This weekend we hiked the trail at Cressmoor Prairie followed by a stop at the local farm stand.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Let It Alone

Sometimes it's hard to know if you're better off when you make changes.  Making the right choice is tricky in certain situations.  For the most part, I try to ask myself a whole set of questions before making a decision. Questions that I have tweaked over the years and along the mistakes, like :  "If everyone made this decision, would the world be a better place?" I work hard to maintain peace with the decisions I've made.

Sometimes I have to hush my thoughts, tell myself that I made the decision and there are no more "what if's."  I remind myself of all the the reasoning I used to come to the conclusion to choose one way over another.  Being "better off" is a state of mind.  I'll never know fully if I am actually better off, because there is no real way to know how things would have turned out otherwise.

What are you talking about?

Moving to Moraine felt like an easy decision when it first presented itself.  D had worked so hard and passionately to get us here.  The property was a beautiful wonderland just for us to explore.  The house was welcoming, warm, quiet.  There is a balance here, between being indoors and outdoors.  Our children would have opportunities that few other children would ever have.


But, we would be away from all of the familiar things.  The nighttime train whistle, the library, sidewalks, our parents, the local playground, farmer's market, bike rides to Main Square, the heron rookery.  We would be away from fenced-in yards, barking dogs, headlights in the front window.  Surely, we would never see the first robin anymore. What about changing schools? Figuring out all the new roads?


Our first night here, we slept on a pull-out lumpy couch.  I was a few weeks from delivering little brother and we camped out in the living room because it was closest to a bathroom.  On one of my (many) wee-hours trips to the bathroom, I remember being startled by an unexpected beam of light across the floor.  It was the moon.  I stared directly into the moon without a single obstruction, no intrusive lights from far-off highways and buildings.  No rooftops, chimneys, or power lines.  Just the moon and I, bladder full, belly full, eyes full and bright and glowing and brilliant. I thought of Walt Whitman, a poet whose descriptions sometimes confused me, and I wasn't confused anymore.

Look down, fair moon, and bathe this scene;
Pour softly down night's nimbus floods, on faces ghastly, swollen,
On the dead, on their backs, with their arms tossed wide,
Pour down your unstinted nimbus, sacred moon

-Walt Whitman

I thanked God for all of the things that one of our most difficult decisions brought with it.  For bathing the scene, like Walt described.  I thanked Him for the little sapling growing in my tummy, for a hard-working, gregarious, and devoted husband, for a spirited son.  I thanked him for the peace of knowing that I was better off. Of all the decisions I've made before or since, coming to Moraine is one where I never have to wonder.

Every time I read anything by Walt Whitman or Henry David Thoreau now, I almost always feel like they wrote it as they walked along one of Moraine's trails, or rested against one of the picnic tables. I feel like they understood something that escaped me for so long. I feel better off for knowing-now-what they knew. 

$1.00 Uglies

Our new dietary adventures have been going well.  Today, D told me that he feels like he's eating better as a vegan/vegetarian than he has ever eaten. You can see some of the meals we've been eating if you click on the Food tab.  Everything we've been eating (with the exception of some melty cheese occasionally) is plant-based.  Grocery shopping has gotten much easier. All I have to do is visit the farmer's market or produce department, and the aisle of grains.  It's been three weeks, and we're adjusting well. I think it's easier than we anticipated.

Labor Day weekend has been easy going.  We spent the morning at a local arboretum, taking photos, taking in the gardens, and sweating our faces off.  Worth it.

it ain't easy bein' green.
sippin' on some sunshine.

We have a few recently acquired house guests, four orphan bunnies.  They're pretty much the cutest things I have ever seen.  A friend found them abandoned and asked if we'd take them. Of course we did, but just long enough until they'll be okay on their own. My compost bin is quite envious of all the greens these guys are eating. They're doing really well.  Have you ever seen anything so completely wonderful and snuggle-worthy? Nope. never. me either.  

The kids are growing incredibly fast.  This morning, we were hiking along at the gardens and Big brother stopped to tie his shoe.  I had a total mom-moment (Which I try very hard to avoid. I'm way too hip for those.) I got a little teary-eyed at how responsible it was that he tied his shoe without being told. . . I know. It's a super small thing. But not for Big brother. For him, it's huge. 

little brother is teething.

Chewing, drooling, crawling, standing, pulling up on things. He's so charming. He crawls everywhere, focused on something that he probably isn't supposed to have, while whispering "Dah dah dah," drool pouring out of his mouth.  He still wakes up once or twice a night, but he has only been alive for 9 months.  He has plenty of time to figure it out.

Big brother has been keeping busy with fall baseball. He is so happy to be back out on the ball field.  It's nice to watch him become a better and better ball player.  

How could we be any better off?  

"Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you."  -Walt Whitman

Spend some time in the sun today.