Monday, April 22, 2013

A Crown for the Princess

My baby had to get a cranial remolding helmet.  She has a flat spot on the back of her head, on the right side.  I bottle fed her, and shamefully, I only fed her in my left arm, with my right hand.  So, naturally, she turned her head into my breast on that side.  It affected her torsion and when she slept, she also turned her head in that direction.  Because babies have such soft skulls, and we primarily sleep our babies on their backs, it's common for this to happen, and for flat spots to develop.  Matthew had one too, but as he learned to sit, it naturally took care of itself.  Clara's did not.  I wish I had taken her in a couple months ago, but we are where we are.  The guilt runs deep, and I know it's not rational, but I still wish I had done things differently.

Other than Jack's broken arm at birth, this is the hardest thing I've had to do as a parent.  Oh, sure it could be worse.  It could be a life-threatening injury or illness.  But it's still really hard to look at my baby in her little helmet and not see her eyes easily.  It's hard to lay her on her back and hear her whimper.  It's hard to hold her on my lap and not be able to snuggle the top of her soft head.  Yesterday, I took it off after two hours and her head was soaking wet and I just started crying.  She seems happy enough when she's sitting up, but tomorrow we start sleeping her in it.  In a few days' time, she'll be wearing it for 22 hours a day for four or five months.  Sad.  She's such a good sleeper!  Right now she sleeps for 12 - 14 hours a night and I just don't want to disrupt that.  Can you imagine sleeping in this thing?!

I know we'll get through it.  I even know I'll get used to it.  I know she'll get used to it.  And the time will pass and we'll be on to bigger and better things and I will be happy for her nice round head.  And I will be grateful for modern medicine that we can correct this problem while she's young and doesn't know better.

I'll take my moment to be sad, and then I'll press on.  My family has been ridiculously supportive.  Thankful for my mom who has given me license to feel sad.  A couple days ago, she sent me this text:  "It's hard, honey.  My heart hurts twice.  Once for you, and once for Clara."  And from my younger brother who said, "Whew.  I was worried she wasn't going to be a hockey player.  She's awesome."  And for her dad and her brothers who continue to shower her with love and attention.  I am so lucky to have the love and support of all of you on this journey.  Particularly now, but always.  Every day.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Crying a River

Earlier today, when I was watching the coverage on the manhunt for the Boston Marathon bombers, I was struck by how young Dzhokar Tsarnaev is.  He's a kid.  You know mine is almost 16, and that's hardly younger than this guy was.  The news stories are probably unreliable at this point, but it appears he was in the United States with his older brother, and his parents haven't lived here (but in Russia) for at least five years.  So he was without a parent from ages 14 - 19. Yikes.  You don't have to know a lot about teenagers to know that they need parents at that age.  Desperately.  And of course all I can do is speculate how he got from there to the terrible events of last Monday, but whatever happened in his life that charted this course breaks my heart.  He's someone's son, and someone's brother, and someone's friend.  From all accounts, he appeared to be a really nice kid, by those who knew him, and many were shocked that he was capable of such atrocity.

Dzhokar and his brother hurt a lot of people, and I have faith in the justice system that he will pay for his crimes.  He may feel remorse, or he may not.  Whatever poison he feeds on may have already destroyed his conscience.  I most likely will never know.  Doesn't mean I can't pray for him.

I grieve for those who are injured and have lost their lives.  I laud the first responders who worked tirelessly to keep their city safe.  Their systems appear to be absolutely flawless; they executed this beautifully.  They turned around the situation inside of four days.  That's incredible and I am in awe, and appreciation, as is the rest of the country.

I feel pretty comfortable with all the thoughts I just shared with you.  I have learned that my heart is divided into emotional chambers.  There is room for kindness, and appreciation, and compassion.  But for some reason, there is very little room for anger, and almost none for vengeance.  I don't feel those easily and they are often shoved out by sadness. And because they have such a small chamber, I feel it quickly and express it and move on.

I am not telling you this because I'm looking for affirmation.  I'm not telling you this because I need to be reassured.  I don't want you to tell me that I'm anything special.  I am simply who God made me to be.  And I live my convictions pretty loudly for one reason:  Jesus loved everyone and He told me to as well.

I tell you all this because all of that empathy gets me into a lot of trouble.  Man.  Some people do not like the construction of my heart.  And maybe because I don't get angry, they assume that I don't get hurt.  They would be very, very wrong.

I just spent 15 minutes sobbing in the captain's arms after I received a hate-filled message from a facebook friend, in which he swore at me and told me, among other things, that I'm what's wrong with America.  I've been called many names in my life, and I know I'm a liberal progressive.  I know sometimes people mean that as an insult, and I've taken it that way when expressed as such.  But I sort of love being that, you know.

I love politics.  I think that civil discourse actually leads to resolution.  Not always, but often enough that the conversations are worth having.  I realize that I put myself out there.  It's worth it.  So many people have taught me so many things.  Knowing a lot of different kinds of people has forced me to be more tolerant.  I plan to continue having those conversations in the future, so here's what I want you to know:  You are free to leave.  No one is obligated to be my friend, either in real life or virtually.  If I am a negative influence in your life, please, please walk away before you hurt me.  I'm not saying this because I am being a baby.  I felt critically attacked several times this week, and I really don't want to do it again.  I will miss you, but I respect your decision.  If you don't believe me, ask the number of people who have previously taken advantage of this invitation.  No hard feelings, baby.  No regrets.  (Wait.  Never mind.  You get my point.)

Seriously, no apologies.  I hope I don't make things worse.  I sure like you people and my life would be so much different, and so much more boring without you.  Please keep sharing your thoughts and challenging me.  You make me better.  Thank you from the bottom of my emotional heart.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Sixter

Six years ago, we had a winter like this one.  We had two weeks of below-zero temps in March and on April 12, there was fresh snow on the ground.  I know because it was the end of a very long pregnancy.  I have told that story before but I wanted to take a minute on the eve of his sixth birthday to tell you a little about my very special Jack.

He is so studious, this one.  He follows the rules and takes great care with his schoolwork.  He's been known to wake me in the morning, urgently reminding me that there's something very important in his backpack that has to go back today.  Frequently, it's due in a week.  But God bless him for being the only child in this whole house who can keep track of his responsibilities.

He's kind of an anxious kid.  He is pretty sure he won't be able to go to first grade because he doesn't know how to read.  1) He reads above grade level and 2) they will teach him.  Usually he is still consoled by my reassurance, but sometimes he just gets nervous.  A couple years ago he was watching a movie about a magic gourd.  At its finish, he came in to tell me about it.  As he was telling me, he started sobbing.  Yeah.  This one's mine.

He's also sweet, and protective, and kind.  He donated his dollar from the tooth fairy to the hunger drive at church.  He chose walking tacos for his birthday dinner instead of rice because Matthew likes it better.  He adores his baby sister and will do anything for her.  One day she got a hold of a juice box, which she clearly cannot have.  But when she cried when he took it, he not only gave it back to her, he put the straw in her mouth so she could drink it.'s okay if she cries, Jack.  He's very sensitive and I feel lucky to have his little soul in my daily life.

I just realized that he can build a lego set (Matthew has neither the organization nor the attention), and that might turn out to be a really great hobby for him.  He wears this vest all. the. time.  In this photo, he had put it on after a bath, which is standard operating procedure.  He's smart and funny and is a light in this family.

Before bed, I told him to "say good-bye to five!"  And he did.  Tomorrow, in the middle of a snowstorm, my boy will turn six.

Monday, April 8, 2013


If you're a reader and aren't on Goodreads, you're missing out.  I know because I just finally joined it this week.  Heh.  But still.  What fun!  What good fun!  I was able to rate the books I've read and meet up with a bunch of friends so I can see the books they have rated highly.  What fun!  (I don't know if my auntie Anne reads my blog, but if someone who knows her does, tell her to find me.  I know she loves to read and I'd love more of her recommendations.  Also, Elizabeth!  Are you on there?)

Anyway.  In the process, I realized a few books I recommend that I may not have previously:

Snow Flower and Secret Fan by Lisa See
Kite Runner and Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini
Moloka'i by Alan Brennert
Angels & Demons and Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

These are some wonderful reads.  I wish I could pick them up and read them again for the first time.  Except Snow Flower. That book is kind of sad.

Man, I love to read.  Find me on Goodreads!