Sunday, March 25, 2012


Wow. Deepest apologies for me being a terrible blogger as of late! It has been for good reason, however...

Israel is almost 5 months now and I can hardly believe it. I am getting healthier and healthier everyday- we are gardening like fools and it's taking off! Gwendolen is beautiful, tall and becoming quite the armful of crazy, awesome toddler. I am, somehow, managing to fully submerge myself in to the Mommy role- something I have had trouble wrapping my head for two years or so. I finally feel back to being me! Huzzah!

Friday, September 30, 2011

A lot to Cover- But first!

   This morning is so sweet, and so lovely! GOOD MORNING! I hope (if you are not already awake enjoying your day) that you are getting some of the most beneficial sleep that you have been able to snag in recent memory. I have so much I want to talk about, celebrate about... but first I want to do some book reviews. Finally, on Tuesday afternoon as soon as Tristan came home, I drove to the library. I used to eat books you see, in stacks of 5, with the utmost passion and excitement- and over the past couple years, I have hardly read at all, and when I did read I found myself in that obnoxiously comfortable place where you read the same page 3 times for lack of being able to keep your mind centered. No more! I am eating books again- and they are delicious. It may seem silly, but this shows that I am the closest to being back in my own skin, to feeling myself, to having a clear and organized mind than I have been able to claim in years. :) 

   But- ON TO THE BOOKS! I have a few to cover... 

1. The Seven Spiritual Laws for Parents; Deepak Chopra 
This is actually the first of Chopra's books that I have read... not because of any preconceived judgement, or feelings that he is not worth exploring, but far more because the great amount of his work I did know of had little to nothing to do with where I ever was in my life. (Golf for Enlightenment, for example- another one of his books I believe. Yeah, I don't play Golf- so...) So while I was at the library I was intrigued! I said to myself, "Oh, hey! I'm a parent!" And so I picked up the little book and added it to my pile. 
It's a very quick read, introducing the ideals of several different major religions, with a heavy emphasis on what it means to TRULY parent in a positive spirit. There is much emphasis on what living in and with "spirit" translates to (and does not translate to) in our society. He manages to blend these philosophies and ideals fairly smoothly, while offering practical application in the world in which we live that can be done with the family to cultivate spiritual peace and growth. My favorite of these was to gather everyone up and on one big board, every Sunday, write down your major wish for the week... mine might be, "getting a second car." (lol) Then, as the week progresses, everyday everyone would come home and record every single blessing they encountered- and really, this is so wise. What this shows you is the awesome, simple, giving pattern of God- and how, even if your wish is or is not fulfilled, you can look back with a clear mind and see that He IS working in your life. It also shows you how to desire something, but not to obsess over it, to appreciate each thing as it comes- something that is difficult to explain to a grown adult, not to mention to a child. Did I get a second car this week? No. And does it really matter, in the end, when I see how much I have and how much I could easily overlook? Absolutely not. 
Overall, a pleasant read from a slightly different perspective- with a very loving and encouraging tone. 

2. Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding; Ina May
If you do not know who this woman is, I want to you to look her up! She is a BOSS. This woman has such an incredible depth of knowledge, an incredible spirit and manages to write everything in the most honest, humorous, loving way- I really cannot say enough. In a bit, I am also going to review her book, "Spiritual Midwifery" so more about Ina May herself in a bit. 
This book is a complete godsend- especially for women like me who felt really prepared for breastfeeding and found it to be excruciating, who are now looking back and thinking, "what the hell happened?" I've been researching on the internet, throughout other texts, etc to find the potential answers- and I am telling you, none of them covered even what she manages to nail with factual evidence and years and years of support in the first 12 pages. GENIUS! And to boot- incredibly interesting... this book is stuffed to the brim with well broken down facts about the female body, what hormones are required for proper bonding and feeding and how they are directly linked to the steps of natural labor, facts about breastfeeding worldwide, more and more interesting facts about female bodies- it's super neat! Also, there is a MASSIVE resource chapter at the end of the book- as well as the last bit, humorously and yet with great honesty, tackles the ridiculous issue which this country faces more than nearly anywhere else, which is (as she has deemed it) "nipplephobia." A great book of truth, wisdom and hope for the present and future, this is an absolute must for any Mom and even any Dad- that's right dudes, I have confidence you guys would dig this too- who have a child, one on the way or are in any stage of their parenting life. 5 freaking stars. 

3. Toilet Training the Brazelton Way; Joshua D. Sparrow, M.D. and T. Berry Brazelton, M.D.

A very short little book, which while not being the best read, does hammer in to your head some very solid parenting suggestions about potty training- allow this step in the child's life to be the child's accomplishment, not yours, and do not feel socially pressured to begin before babe is ready! Begin when your babe is ready, and your chances of true success are incomparably better. The rest of the book is conceptual with factual evidence to support this opinion, along with some explanations about the steps kids take when they are naturally discovering and exploring their bodies. In other words, it gives you specific examples to illustrate what their behavior will look like when they are prepared to make the leap from diapers, to pull ups, to big kid undies. I'd certainly recommend it to any first time parent who has never been around a toddler who is training, or who had a bad experience themselves- again, lots of emphasis on making this a loving and happy thing! Not the most "readable" and often super repetitive, but a very useful parenting guide none the less. 

Now... :D 

4. The Screwtape Letters; C.S. Lewis 
   Um, honestly, I am not even sure where to begin in my "review" of this masterpiece. It should come to no surprise to you to know that I found it to be completely and totally incredible, irresistible and instantly among my favorites. It's, in so many ways, the most gritty and hilarious portrayal of the timelessness of God, the easily swayed heart of man, and the incredibly devious nature of the devils which pursue us lifelong in the simplest of ways. 
  If you do not know the idea behind this book, let me explain... Screwtape is a "tempter" demon, who apparently has done well for himself over his years in practice. His nephew Wormwood has been assigned a young man (who they call his "patient") who's soul he must entrap in the snares of evil, or at least in total complacency with God, thus ensuring his damnation. This book is a compilation of Scewtape's letters to Wormwood, detailing the best and most efficient practices for separating a man's soul from that of His creator's. Writing this book, as a Christian, means that he had to sit down and identify all the weaknesses in his faith, in his church, in his own heart personally, in the hearts of men and women, embody them in the name of someone else, believe in it JUST enough (as an actor would) so that he could perform the play in written word- and watching this happen through the mind of C.S. Lewis is a tremendously present and wondrous thing. A brave thing to do! And my God, he does it so perfectly. This will be a book that I must buy, so that I can ravage it with pen marks and let my mind run wild with it. Surely, this is a book that I will re-read at many places in my life, and upon peeling back another layer in myself, so too shall I peel more truth from within this piece. If you should find yourself on your couch reading Screwtape, do know that you are likely to not want to eat, drink, pee or hardly breathe until you have come to it's last page and can feel the perfect heavy sigh that comes with a delightfully, newly challenged heart and mind. Seriously- read this book. And read the shit out of it.  
Ok... last, but not at all least! 

5. Spiritual Midwifery, Fourth Edition; Ina May Gaskin
It's that Ina May again! Well, for good reason. I picked up this book from the Charleston Birthplace, actually, out of their lovely lending library. I had only heard of Ina May before this- and I had not yet realized the importance of her character. I must preface the following with the acknowledgement that this book is not completely for everyone- much of the language in this text is fairly far out and the frequent use of the words "psychadelic" and "high" in reference to transition and contractions in labor, or "telepathic" in reference to feeling a heightened awareness with everyone and everything, may be a mild turn off for some of you, but do remember... most, if not all, of these stories are circa 1970s America, on a commune, one with nature, happy and awesome. (Personally, I dug it completely- but who is surprised by that...) But the more incredible nature of this book is the amount of information and the empowerment of women that is not just being "talked" about- it's being shown. This book shows women that birth IS natural, IS beautiful and can absolutely be taken back by the family and experienced in the way that God intended. Also, refreshingly, this book is pretty well balanced. She constantly compliments and gives major kudos to the medical personnel who were willing to believe in them and meet them half way, challenge them and teach them in their quests to become caretakers and create a community.
The book begins by explaining the people involved in this revolutionary idea of The Farm, which is a still highly successful, running commune in Tennessee. (Tristan and I actually plan on visiting this place.) She explains the dream of real healthcare, true abundant living and freedom to love and heal in a way that comes naturally and spiritually, not in a sterile, cold and often cruel way. (You must remember! 1960s-70s America- lots of horrific stuff was still totally standard in hospitals.) This dream, for Ina May and her husband Stephen, most certainly included childbirth and child rearing... the rest of the book is all about some of the most incredible births on The Farm in its early years and a bit later and also includes a complete breakdown of prenatal, labor and postpartum care and practice, specifically tailored for midwives. Again, it's heavily factual- and incredibly interesting. For me personally, this book was a life changing, healing read. Read this book, please, please, please!!! 

And with that- I must be off! Enjoy the rest of this blessed day- and I will be writing again soon. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

10 Thoughts

There are so many precious things about being a wife and a mother. This is not at all to say that there are not times that I do not look at a fit, made up, obviously single woman and blissfully sigh at the remembrance of such days... but truly, there is no comparing. Those days were free, fun and just right- and I lived them fully. But they were also grueling, hard and often very, very lonely. Now? I do not TRULY wish to be anyone else, or be anywhere else.

This is my list of ten things that are intense, wonderful and irreplaceable about being a Mom and a wife.

10. Constant challenges!
    For someone like me, who has struggled with emotional intimacy, the notion of scheduling, and not running away and joining a hippy commune in Arizona, the idea of marriage and motherhood seemed a bit daunting. Well, it is- but then again, so are wild, exciting roller coasters. My point is, committing to a non-casual, life long family unit has been the most wonderful decision of my life. It has given me cause to heal, address myself with honor and respect and finally learn what it means to trust and love in a vulnerable and unashamed way. In a family, it's never about you- and that's what makes it work! Tristan is all about me, and I am all about him- we work hard to take care of each other without excuse, without expecting anything back... to love and to cherish, in sickness and in health. We don't always succeed perfectly, but the intention is never broken. It's a beautiful and difficult vow- but there is hardly anything that makes two human beings stronger in bond.

9. Always Something to Celebrate.
    There is nothing better than creating a legacy with someone deserving and deliberate. Every family's legacy (ies) are different- but certainly, for Tristan and I, it's all about children- the walking, talking legacy. Daily, we celebrate our changing lives- our daughter, our soon to arrive son, the gifts we have been given, every test we face. We know there is nothing we cannot overcome together. And we're actively excited to show our kids how to walk in light and faith- even if their faith changes over the years, by all means, they will have been shown the difference that true love around you, supporting you and supplying you, makes. Even on the darkest days, there is nothing that brings me more joy, and more cause to rejoice, than that... We are so lucky and we are so blessed to be with each other. 

8. Playtime...
   Not just for Gwen! I take advantage of play time too- and sometimes, I think I might be having more fun with Gwen's finger paints, crayons or puzzles than she is. As adults, we constantly forget how important it is to just PLAY. It doesn't need to have order. It does not need to have a story plot that makes any sense at all. We forget that we need to sit down and lose ourselves in our imaginations, or in a tickle fight or while swinging on a rickety swing set. Having kids is the perfect reminder... Just as important as it is to look professional, provide for your family, be healthy and wise- it's also super important to cut loose, be dorky and childlike at least every once in a while. (If your tapping in to your childish nature at least once a day, I think you're doing alright- and I bet you are a million times happier for it.)    

7. Little Surprises.
   It helps that Tristan likes to do this kind of thing too. A little silly drawing here or there, a rose from the garden or a favorite candy bar- little gifts that take 2 seconds are my absolute favorite. They are a tiny breath of fresh air in the middle of a smoggy, hectic city. It's the perfect way of reminding the one you love, "Hey- everywhere I go, you are always with me- and I like it that way."

6. Watching the Baby Brain
    Sometimes Gwen's thought process is just like watching a little train set chug by. It is the most endearing process. Children are so, so smart! And how awesome is it to watch them figure out, for the very first time, something as easy as opening or closing a door, unscrewing the top of something or coloring on paper? As grown ups, this is old hat- but the sparkle in their eye as they unveil such a masterful new trick to you is delightful and totally timeless. They get so genuinely excited! Their version of figuring out a car seat's buckle is the kind of excited we would be if someone gave us a dragon to ride to and from work... or to the store and back. I absolutely love it.

5. Feeling OLD.
    For those of you who know me well, this statement being in my top 10 list will not surprise you or cause you to ponder too much. There are days where my bones ache from stupid injuries, I am so tired that I can hardly keep my eyes open, I'm chasing around a baby and ranting about politics and suddenly, this thought comes in to my mind... "Man. I feel old!"... and then I smile. I adore the idea of getting old. The notion that my life is evolving everyday to be near to totally un-about me and all about God's will and my family's health, happiness and spirit is a strong and delicious drink to me. I love laugh lines. I love gray hair. No one's future is certain, but I feel a great peace and genuine happiness in my heart for the idea that I might leave this earth a bag of wrinkles, with a wildly rich, long and adventurous life behind me.

4. Meltdowns.
    This might be odd to say, but meltdowns (from my child or even from my husband) keep me soft. Because of my past, it's easy for me to get a little too strong and sometimes even slightly numb- but when either of my "babies" need me, oh my lord, my heart swells and I am there- hardly anything else matters. That doesn't mean I keep Gwen out of any and all danger, in fact, I deliberately do not- or that I wait on Tristan hand and foot and completely forget my own needs, not at all... more so, it keeps me in balance, so that I can respond accordingly, in a way that is genuine and fits the situation. It keeps me perfectly present in the moment- neither too far ahead or too far behind. My own meltdowns, which do happen, do that for me as well. Thank God that we have those as humans. They are such a good tool to see, visually, when you yourself, or the ones you love really NEED something. They are like the temperature gauge in your car- when that needle hits red, you had better pull over or your engine's going to be shot.

3. True Love.
   (How many of you are Princess Bride-ing right now?)
   This one is really the mega million, once in a lifetime, I will never take this for granted jack pot of marriage and kids. When you worship God through each other, when you strive for balance, harmony and joy, as a family, every single day no matter what, your life is taken to a whole new level. Tristan taught me this was possible and that it could be real for me. Gwen taught both of us that there is some love that just IS and cannot be shattered, and Izzy is about to teach us that all over again. True love isn't always easy, and it isn't perfect- but it is the most vibrant, estatic force in all of the universe...Honestly, I could go on endlessly about this, so I'll just stop here.

2. Purpose.
    No day is without purpose- no moment without a mission or an end goal; a lesson taught, or a lesson learned. Some of those lessons are hard to learn and even harder to teach, but it grants a new depth to life. There is a kind of magic to knowing you are walking a road so many other take, but your journey is completely your own.   

1. Time and Circumstance
    ... means absolutely nothing anymore. As a wife and mother, it can not function as an excuse for one's  "bad" behavior, for one's lack of momentum and motivation or any of that. Suddenly, the bar is raised and your children's eyes are the ones looking up at you. This is a lot of pressure, but it's the best pressure. It's the kind of pressure that takes someone from mediocre to extraordinary- that causes people to look in to their hearts twice as often, and be better for it every day. Granted, that's not always the direction that people take with this, but it's my direction. It's freeing and it's incredibly healthy! 

And I leave you with these... 

The happiest moments of my life have been the few which I have passed at home in the bosom of my family.  ~Thomas Jefferson

Family life is a bit like a runny peach pie - not perfect but who's complaining?  ~Robert Brault

What greater thing is there for human souls than to feel that they are joined for life - to be with each other in silent unspeakable memories.  ~George Eliot

In a household of toddlers and pets, we discover this rule of thumb about happy families - that they are least two-thirds incontinent.  ~Robert Brault,

Rejoice with your family in the beautiful land of life!  ~Albert Einstein

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Gaggle of Firsts

The last few days have been a great time for the Murray family! 

Last Saturday was Israel's baby shower, which went off exceptionally well and with limited stresses. We played a few games, gave out a few prizes and ate some mix matched sundry tastiness. Everyone's gifts were practical, spot on and much appreciated (thank you!)- and I am super excited to begin working on his room for the next couple weeks. 

Sunday followed up with a good time too! The McCuskers unveiled a super sweet park to us which was then followed up by Gwen and I's first ever trip to Ye Old Fashioned... if you too do not know of the glory of this place, it is a burger/ice cream paradise. In a nutshell; awesome. Gwen and the park became fast friends, with her becoming instantly enamored with the concepts of tunnels and mulch chips. (She may have spent half an hour investigating the ground.) 

Then there was Monday. Monday was awesome too! (Are you catching on to a trend?) We had a super delicious dinner over at the McCusker's place- burgers, hot dogs and Mr. Peckman's famed spicy mac n' cheese. Zoey and Gwen had a great time together, and after the babies faded, us "grown ups" (ha) watched X-Men First Class. Highly enjoyable movie, and highly enjoyable company! Groovy. 

After Monday comes Tuesday... we met up with Patrick and Blair, our married friend's who live in England. This was fun in itself- but the day involved breakfast at Chic Fila (always a plus) and then evolved in to Gwen's first day at the beach. SHE LOVED IT! The child is a sea horse- sand? Totally awesome, in fact, kinda yummy, she says... Ocean water, waves and starfishes? The bees knees. She collected her first round of sea shells, which came home with us. I am thinking of making a necklace for her out of them- a big long one, with fake pearls and some sea themed charms. I am so happy she loves the beach, since for Tristan and I, it is one of our favorite places to be. The day was really perfect.  

So- not at all the "take it easy" weekend that I was told to take during my last appointment at the Birthplace, but I am happy to report that while I played a lot and had a good time, I absolutely WAS very careful to sit whenever the contractions became frequent or began to hurt. I even spent most of the baby shower sitting, breathing and staying out of the immediate spotlight. That must have been the trick, as our little Izzy is still right where he should be... somewhere in my rib cage. :D 

Now it's back to the grind- complete with misbehaving pups, clutzy cats, appointments and cleaning. (And you know what? I love that just as much.) Until next time! 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Reason for the Season? Maybe!

In lieu of motherhood, pregnancy, newly married-ness, kitties, puppies, sugar, spice and everything nice- and oh yeah, I LOVE THIS TIME OF YEAR- I have been giving a lot of thought to seasonal, family and cultural traditions. Some of us find ourselves pleasantly nostalgic; lost in between this moment and another, long, long ago, as we gaze warmly at our lit up Christmas tree. Others of us, for our own personal reasons, despise most any and all forms of tradition- maybe because it has always shed a naked, sinister light on the hypocrisy of being human. All this being said, this particular entry is all about GOOD traditions, and my thoughts of keeping them up as well as building new ones.

What makes a good tradition is timelessness and sincerity. It has to keep up with the changing world- somehow preserving an ancient, perfect ideal or moral, without ever becoming stale and unreasonable. My family's traditions are classic and pretty common- baking on Christmas eve, carving pumpkins, insisting on getting a real tree and decorating it with a great deal of thought; apple pie, pumpkin pie, etc... in other words, the typical, American mix matched melting pot assortment of lovey-dovey feel good seasonal stuff. And I love it! With no shame. :) And why I love it is perhaps because it was the pinnacle time in which our struggling, tired, overworked, dysfunctional family truly operated out of humble, vulnerable and tender love. That's something too hold on to and continue celebrating. 

Of course, now that I am a mother and wife, I am super pumped about being the one who gets to show my kids our traditions and introduce a few new ones. Tristan and I found a really beautiful, gold communion set- which was likely intended for home calls to the sick- at a super neat store a few months ago, for next to nothing. Immediately, we thought the same thing- every Christmas dinner, before the beginning of the meal, to commence giving each other communion, in a celebratory, thankful and never dry way! 

The next one I am very excited about is, every year with family and friends, going carolling! With instruments, and loud, happy singing- and (of course) with some "christmas cheer" in convenient travel safe mugs. Carolling, unfortunately, is nearly lost on us all... nobody really seems to do it anymore! And what a shame! Because it's just so much fun. :) 

What traditions warm your heart? Do you have any traditions that you are excited to try out or continue on with that are new to your family? 

Until next time... :) 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Cookies, Gwen, and Getting Back to Basics.

I have another book review- and, perhaps not at all surprisingly, it is of a "kids" book. I say, "kids", because I think that every adult should have a copy of this book in their car, workplace, kitchen and bedroom- anywhere where a good reminder of what it means to be an awesome human being would be useful. Yeah, that's most places. :) The book is called... "COOKIES; Bite-Size Life Lessons"
Gwen received this book as a gift from her grandmother- and up until recently, we hadn't read it yet. (The only reason for this being that any book she could get her paws on that was not made of indestructible material, she promptly consumed.) Since she has been doing SO well with bigger kid books, I busted it off the shelf and gave it a read. The premise is lovely in itself- teaching the meaning of important words (such as patience and compassion) through the world of baking cookies, eating cookies and being surrounded by cookies. It's wonderfully illustrated, poignant and cute- not to mention, it's a great reminder to adults about what it means to be a good person. Also, it's written by the same chick who wrote that book I reviewed, and loved so much, about motherhood. 5 stars! 

Apart from that, I have been deep in thought about what life will look like in the next two months. This isn't surprising, considering we are soon to be welcoming Izzy in to the family and a lot is changing around the house. Josh, one of our roommates, is moving out this weekend- and while this shouldn't be very mindblowing, my mind is a little dazed. His old room will become Izzy's room- and it just ocurred to me the other day that that is a room in my house that I have hardly ever stepped foot in since our purchase almost a year ago. Kinda strikes me as cool! I know it's been there and I have seen it everyday, but it's about to become an operating function in my household, as opposed to a room that "belongs" to someone else. It's like a present you forgot you had! 

Not being pregnant. I don't want to say "ever again" behind this statement, as that is the kiss of death. If I say that, I'll be pregnant again before I know it- but I will take this opportunity to express how excited I am to get my body back for AT LEAST a while! It won't be entirely my own, since I'll be a walking food source for little man for sometime, but it will be enough my own that I will get to do things I haven't gotten to do since we moved in... like, MOW THE LAWN. Might seem silly to be excited about something that seems so dreadful, such as raking leaves, but I rather enjoy that kind of stuff- and I do miss being able do it. Jogging! I don't even particularly love jogging, but I think I'll start. :) More essentially; long, long walks, hikes, working out-  and excursions where I am permitted to carry something like a full back pack, child or heavy water bladder... climbing a ladder! Ooooo- that'll be fun! See- these are things that happen to a woman when she's mommy-ed out, cabin fevered and functioning in a one car, stay at home, Daddy goes to work all day, kind of world. You get excited about the possibility of breaking your neck doing something tedious! Mind you, not too excited. :) 

Update on Ms.Gwen...Teething like crazy these past couple days, but managing along in spite of it. (Those molars are taking forever, man!) Getting a little braver with previously off limits food, such as eggs and honey- and so far, no more huge throw ups or upset tummies. We're slowly introducing shoes- which seems to be going over about as well as we expected. In general, she looks at them with a confused expression, half the time loving it, and the rest of the time hating it. Hey, I can't blame her... I lose my own shoes all the time from lack of wearing them. Life is just better barefoot. Well, unless there's snow. 

I am also excited about what this new found space in the house is going to be like for Tristan and I. We have been so consumed with coordinating, trying to keep potential fights, issues and freak outs to a minimum in our house (as does happen with roommates-but especially in this case) for the past year that we haven't had a ton of time to settle in to these walls and, hence the title, get back to basics! We do a pretty good job at communicating, despite the hectic stuff, how much we love each other everyday- but, no doubt, with less stress it will be so much easier to let it flow. :) Speaking of that, it's so easy to show it... last night, after making dinner, he ran off in to the dining room, lit some candles and turned down the lights. It was so cute and so sweet- especially because in the midst of all this romance Tristan was trying to create- Gwen was having an incredible meltdown over her teeth hurting (the dogs were hiding it was so ugly!)... so our candle light dinner was spent chugging our drinks, eating way too fast and ended up being about five minutes total, but it mattered even more because of that. It wasn't convenient, it wasn't ideal timing- but he thought of it anyway, and he did it anyway- and that made it absolutely perfect. I've been so, so stressed out- it was nice, gentle reminder to take it easy, and that he's got my back. I'm a lucky lady! What a sexy beast... *wooed sigh*  

The blood sugar issues I have been experiencing are beginning to level out! Or at least I feel as if they are- I haven't had nearly as many instances where my blood sugar has completely tanked in the last couple days. I am slowly regaining my energy and stamina- as much as I am allotted during the 3rd trimester- and that's very relieving. Not only is it hard to keep up with a wild little toddler when you feel so poorly, but it's just no fun! I love chasing her around, and it's always a bummer when I am too wiped to give it my all, or enjoy it as much as I normally do. Hopefully, if we are all feeling up to it, Gwen can get a visit in to the kids museum again soon. (Thanks, Peggy! That was the best birthday gift.)

Tonight's dinner! A whole roasted chicken, done up with parsley, salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil, with a side of cucumber and tomato salad... and probably some mashed potatoes for my man. The rest of the chicken which does not get eaten will be magically transformed in to some sort of delicious chicken soup... if all goes well on that front, I'll post the recipe! 

Love you all! Be well! 

Next entry: Traditions. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

BAD ME! Long time, No write!

My apologies, world of writing! I have been a terrible, mean, monstrous blog keeper... can you ever forgive me, blog?

But there has been a good reason for all that absence! Gwen is walking, sleeping in a toddler bed, bottle weaned and FINGER PAINTING!

Also, there has been some new developments in the eating like a big girl department, such as sitting at the big folk table with a real plate (all her own, peter rabbit, nonetheless) and chowing down on some sundry yumminess.

Aside from this, Gwen TURNED ONE on August 20th- we celebrated with a morning party of bacon and eggs, before a few gifties and then a speedy hightailing over to the McCusker's for Zoey's birthday. And we had such a GOOD time. Gwen was digging the other babies, other grown ups time- and little Rebecca, Anna and Tim from down the street were there too.

Of course, as all mom's are, I am so proud and amazed at the natural leaps and bounds she progresses everyday- and I am enjoying, so very much enjoying, participating and guiding her in her quest for eventual (and hopefully not a moment too soon) adulthood.

Apart from Gwen being awesome, there has been no shortage of stress around here (possible relocation, possible hurricane, possible loss of a job, etc.) but we have been loving each other tenderly and tirelessly in spite of all that. Do not misunderstand me, some days we are more ready to punch than kiss, but it only takes a moment to dismiss the urge and laugh instead. These times are trying, and exceedingly full of tribulation, but these are the times that God takes his hands and while He heals, He sculpts. He asks us the hard questions, He puts us up against the tough decisions, and in that we can call ourselves not only Man, but God's children. It is all part of the symphony of rising above.

The dogs are doing so well! Arya is smoothing out more and more each day (we had a month or so period where she decided to be VERY jealous of Nym and act like a horrid banshee- but with some additional training and an extra thorough schedule, we have managed to make it to the other side.) And Nym, it turns out, just looks like a dog. Really, she is a large horse.

Yesterday at her 12ish week vet appointment, she registered as being healthy and behaved beautifully. It was confirmed that is likely not pit bull at all, instead she is a mastiff/ lab retriever mix, which as she has gotten older, has become more and more apparent. (She makes lab faces and plays around just like one too.) She has more than doubled in size and more than doubled in weight as well- now registering at nearly 26 pounds. And no, she has not at all grown in to her ears or her feet- they are just growing with her.

In my absence from writing, I have managed to get some fun and interesting reading done! So time for some book reviews! (No, I have not caught up to current on a Song of Fire and Ice- I am choosing to take a break from those as the men that I live with tend to have "slips of the tongue" in reference to major events in those books- and that in turn makes me want to "punch them in the face." ) 

First Up! 

A Walk in the Woods, by Bill Bryson... who's cover looks something like this! 

For those of you who may not be super familiar with the name, Bill Bryson, he's a pretty neat dude! He lived in England for years (working there as a journalist I believe) before returning to America. To keep it short and simple so you can experience the bit for yourself, this book is all about Mr.Bryson's decision to be incredible stupid and suddenly decide that, without having hiked in years and being fairly out of shape and mostly ill prepared, he should hike the Appalachian Trail. I mean... all of it. Not a day hike. Not a week hike. All of it. (That's, more or less, a majority of the entire east coast.) And he is also fairly convinced that he'll be eaten by a bear.

On top of this perhaps impulsive idea- he decides to enlist the company of his old friend, who happens to be a complete waste of space and a superb idiot. It is a book of  funny bickering, weird encounters with folks on the trail, some very poignant truths about being a soft, fleshy human amongst hard, true wilderness- and also some compelling and interesting facts about how the Appalachian Trail became what it is.... honestly; if you love to hike, or love to hear about other people hiking, read it. It's short, easy and thoroughly enjoyable.  

Next up- this GEM, called The Mother's Guide to the Meaning of Life, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal 

If you are anything like me, you are looking at this cover and thinking the same thing- this book will probably not be very funny, but it may make me feel like crying and snuggling my baby with irritating zeal over her good health and sweet smile... It just seems like the kind of book about motherhood that's going to get you all needlessly sappy. Right? Actually- no! This book is HILARIOUS! I mean, really, REALLY funny! There were several points where I had to drop the book, whip my head back and cackle- she often nails those bits of being a mother that American Hollywood likes to scan over playfully. The difference is, she captures the moment so well you can see your own child in the scene, boggling your mind with a ridiculous thought or a total temper tantrum. She's so real- and so easy to relate to. 

But even better about this book, is that interspersed with the hilarity is a LOT of practicality- little tips hidden in the corner of pages, some blank pages at the back of the book for your grocery lists, to do lists, in general lists; inspirational quotes for mothers, excellent advice about ditching perfectionism as a wife and mother... the list continues. It's so perfect, because she's not beating you over the head with advice or with wisdom- which means that you will likely be far more affected by it and remember it far more thoroughly. If you are a mother, at any stage of the game, READ THIS BOOK. It's only 122 pages, it's built with extra sturdy binding and out of the weird plastic stuff that a lot of cheesy books are made out of (really resilient against toddler's, mind you) and will totally fit in your purse, potentially your back pocket, and most certainly your diaper bag. Do it ladies, DO IT! 


1. Um, Christmas. Anyone who knows me knows that Christmas and I are having an affair. I love that time of year with a childlike reverence that I highly doubt I will ever lose. God is so thick in the air during that time, because just as there are millions of people who buy in to the commercialism, there are just as many fighting back with the true spirit of the thing- and at least for me, I can really tell the difference. 

2. HALLOWEEN! Before awesome Christmas, comes AWESOME Halloween, which is just marvelous because now that I have kids, I have a perfectly good excuse to get WAY to in to dressing up and being a five year old again. Gwen will be old enough to actually GO trick or treating this year too, and words really can't describe how totally wonderful that makes my heart feel. I haven't the slightest idea what she will be for Halloween, but you know that Daddy and I will love making her in to it, whatever she is! 

3. THANKSGIVING! Because Gwen will be able to eat all of the yummy foods this year. And by then, I will definitely no longer be pregnant. Izzy will be here and life (for me) can begin to resemble something other than puking, having really sore legs and feeling like a beached whale. Seriously, I LOVE the process we go through as mother's, but this round has been (and continues to be) exhausting- when I go in to labor this time around, I'm putting my war paint on! IZZY, YOU COMIN' OUT! 

4. EXERCISE! The lack of this in my life, I have realized, always leads to me feeling kinda "bleh". It's works so well for me- to feel good about my body, to keep my energy up... it makes me happy, it wears me out so I can sleep, etc. Yay for when I am with newborn and the whole family can go for long walks and after things chill out a bit, Mommy can hit the weights and pilates again. 

5. FALL! I know last year I was all about some summer, but the heat and I have not been friends this year at all. Pregnant with Gwen, I could be on the water, in the sun in well over 100 degree heat, at 3 days past due and I was feeling fancy free- this time? Walking to the car, just to sit on my rump in 100 degree heat has made me feel like I've been shot in the gut and there is an imminent faint coming for me. I am more than ready to wear a nice sweater and some jeans. I do miss jeans in the summer. 

6. FINGERPAINTING! CRAYONS! MARKERS! Gwen can do these things now! I can't wait to make all sorts of silly crafty things and decorate the house with them. We've gotten a start on it and she really seems to enjoy it. 

7. NAP TIME. Gwen takes naps now. I am still a little bit in disbelief. :) 

8. MY LOVE. When Tristan come home at the end of the day. When I get a kiss in my sleep when he leaves in the morning. When he's a big, mean butthole and I want to punch his lights out. All day. Everyday- no matter what. I just adore everything about the man! I can not at all imagine that I could have as full a life without him. 

9. OUR DOGS. Really, I love them. They are so sweet and are turning in to such good companions- it's rough right now trying to reserve the money for their puppy needs (vet wise) right now, but you know what? Kids need puppies and so do I. Like exercising, it's good for me to have a dog or two. They, a lot like kids and husbands, make me complete. My whole life has been filled with marvelous canine companions- and the rest of my life should hardly look any different. 

10. GETTING OLDER. I love establishing traditions, drinking tea and having excellent stories to tell. We all know that I am likely to end up being that crazy, tiny little old lady that says whatever the hell she wants and can drink a 20 year old under the table- but more than that, I am looking forward to the years adding their own touch. I love wrinkles and I love gray hair- I think, like a lion's mane, they are a symbol of unique majesty that seems to communicate so much about a being in one instance. I won't slow down until I die, I know that- and I am excited for all the road wear I will incur. To me, there is nothing better than an old man or woman who looks every bit of their 85 but their eyes and their smile still belong to a child. 

My list could go on, but alas, my time for writing is over. What gets you super pumped about life? Are you excited for the holiday season? My next post (probably) will be about tradition- what family traditions have warmed you over the years? Have you made any new ones of your own?