AROUND HERE: weekdays as a family

by far one of the best things about both of us working shift-work is being off together as a family - during the week. before we had chloe i used to schedule myself to work the same nights as christian and we would often enjoy four long days at a time off together. it was like having a long weekend, every weekend. except, it was during the week, when everyone else was at work - which is even better! empty movie theaters, less crowded stores, shopping with no lines, no wait for a table for brunch, really horrible weekday day-time television. we loved it. we still do now that we have chloe, however it never usually gets to last a full four days..  

but this week we got three!

so we ran some errands, took care of house business, and planned to go to the zoo... until  the weather didn't cooperate with us. so we decided we should make a trip to target, because what is time off together without making our obligatory trip to target for gummy vitamins, diaper genie refills, and toothpaste? 


and then christian got all crazy, mentioned "bubble tea", and proceeded to find the sweetest authentic chinese bakery that sells it. it was surprisingly close to our home, not too far away from our target, and when we walked in we caught more than a few looks as we tried to decipher the non-english menu. despite this, we will be back - the bubble tea was delicious. 


surprise! that chloe loves her bubble tea.

we headed over to target and picked up our things, and strolled around.. and tried on sunglasses.

i can never find any that don't make me look like a fly. even the ones that aren't over-sized are too big on my face and look silly. however, i am determined to find a pair of sunglasses that flatter my face and hide my tired eyes on days when i haven't slept well. alas, it was not happening at target.



we headed home without glasses, but with some cookie baking necessities. so all was not a loss. 

by the time we got home dusk was just settling in. we realized chloe had not been outside during the past day, so we decided to take a walk.

and then we did more nonsense around here... some cleaning, playing, coloring, some reading, more errands this morning until nap-time was upon us. and while chloe napped christian was kind enough to help me take some new bowtie and collar photos for my little shop (hoping to be having a pretty big shop update soon, which i am soo excited about).

this boy missed his calling as a j crew model, let me tell you. i am one lucky girl. i just know that his irresistible stubble is going to cause these babies to sell out! (i am just kidding folks, but really now, it can't hurt, can it?)

after our photo session, he spoiled me by cleaning my car... partially because i an not a very good car owner, and partially because he is a very good one.

while he cleaned the car i decided to test out a recipe for the momfuku compost cookie that i had found online here. it was pretty good... i am probably going to play with it a little bit... i have never had the real thing, but the thought of adapting this recipie, and perfecting it to my own taste, of making it into my perfect cookie, well this is a challenge i am up for the taking.



i am thinking peanut-butter chips (rather than butterscotch), and more of a chocholate chip cookie dough base.. and making my own graham crust (i substituted crackers). 

we made some half-decent shepherd's pie, and have been watching a little HGTV, and chloe has been sitting next to me on the floor as i type, ripping apart the latest j crew catalog, and making it into a nest... no, really.


can i just tell you that i might be the luckiest girl ever?

how has your week been? any good weekend plans? any suggestions on sunglasses for girls with small faces?

okay, okay.. i need to go bury my toddler in the remains of a jcrew catalog.

 

FIVE THINGS

thank you to everyone for reading this little blog, and for your words of love and support in response to this post from the other day. i went back and forth on whether or not i should post it, and finally clicked on the publish button.. and i am glad i did. you guys are so sweet.

but since then i have been trying to figure out what to write about, because i have been at home, and things have been very uninteresting around here.. and it's raining today, which ruined our zoo plans. the husband is sick, and i haven't had any real adventures, or thrift trips, and i haven't made any cookies, yet... so i have just been reading the lovely blogs that i read, and some books, snuggling my little chlo, and doing my laundry... and then i found something blogg-y to do and share with you.
 
one of my favorite bloggers, natalie, recently shared a post where she divulged five things about herself. she mentioned had been tagged by someone on instagram to share these thing, but instead made a sweet little blog post about it. i agree with this move - while i love being tagged to share stuff on anything, and i do love reading these little bits about those that i follow (it feels like being in on a deep secret shared between the best of friends) i fear they are too long, and too much to post on instagram. or maybe i am just too share-y - which is a likely possibility, or perhaps i am really bad at keeping things brief - another likely possibility... which would make me horrible at giving an ocsar award speech.

but anyways, i like my 'grams on the shorter side.

but, blog posts are all about rambling, and sharing, and... well, she said i was welcome to share too... well, she actually said everyone was.. 

and since i hardly ever get tagged to share....

5 THINGS

1 - when i was about twelve years old i was practicing ballet in my bedroom, even though i did not ever take ballet classes, and i dislocated my right knee-cap! i needed to be carried down the stairs of my home in the most painful and awkward of positions (with my knee bent, but the knee-cap on the outside of my leg.. and every little movement that made my knee move just the tiniest bit was sure and utter agony.. oh thinking about it still makes me cringe!). and before we went to the hospital my whole family needed to put their hands on me and pray for me. crazy religious family, right? well, it must have worked, because i was sure that my twelve year old self was going to die, and they put my knee back in place at the hospital without much difficulty, and with a little demerol. it was a-okay. but now my kneecap has a tendency to dislocate, like all previously dislocated things do. my husband accidentally dislocated it when i was pregnant... don't-even-ask, and needed to put it back into place... and luckily it also goes back into place even easier now.

2 - i can knit while i read, and not mess up my knitting while retaining all the stuff i read.

3 -  i am embarassingly horrible at pop-culture trivia, most likely because i was home-schooled and slightly sheltered as a kid. but i am pretty good at taking academic tests about stuff that i haven't even studied and probably don't know enough about.

4 - when i get tired i talk out of the side of my mouth and kind of slur my words... without ever meaning to. because i work night-shift, and therefore am always tired, this has made me the object of much laughter, and the recipient of many awkward looks at work.

5 - i have a scar over my belly-button from the time me and my friend, liz, decided to get our belly-buttons pierced. we were eighteen. i never kept the ring in very long because it looked incredibly awkward on me, but it was one of those things that we as childhood friends always wanted to do from the time we were twelve. i photographed the scar, wrote a story about it, and submitted it to the "learning to love you more" project.. and, lo and behold, it is still on the web, and you can see that here.

there. do you feel we are now the best of friends? i hope so.

i tag anyone who reads this! leave a link to yours in the comments!

YOU WILL BE OKAY

"I don't want to die without any scars" - Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

this post is not about divorce. it is not about family, or religion, or the modern church. it is not about making mistakes, it is not about regret, it is not about growing up, it is not about being happy. it is not about happiness, sadness, or loneliness, or being married, or single. 

but really, it is about all of these things.i don't want it to be. friends, i don't want to write about all these things.

however, i need to share these things. i need to write down what has gone through my mind. i need to tell you, so that you can know these things. because i believe that there is no meaning to anything that happens in life until you are able to relate to it and form meaning from it. nothing really has meaning, until you make it meaningful. it's just events and things, until you do something with them. until you form out of a huge mess something that fits together in a way that allows you to learn and share. and i believe this is why i write, and why i read and try to learn.  i believe this is one reason why people have relationships, and why we talk to one another. because we are just a huge mess until we start to fit together in a way that gives us something to hold onto, some meaning.

one of the first photos i took inside my apartment after the divorce.

some of you know i was married once before, not to the amazing man i am married to now. i got married on february 28th, 2002 to a different man. i had known him for quite some time. we met in church. i liked him. he was four years older than me and had graduated from college earlier that year. we had both been brought up in the church, and because we were adults, and we liked each other, and had been dating for quite some time - marriage was obviously the next step. we both came from families where our parents had married young. and while some people cautioned us, or mainly me, about making such a big commitment at such a young age, i was determined that this was the right choice. i was eighteen years old when i got married, seventeen when i got engaged.

and over the course of a little more than five years, it all fell apart. if i am honest, it started falling apart as soon as it began, or at least it felt that way - despite what i may have led others to believe. it was as though i got married, realized very quickly that i had made a mistake, and then spent five years trying to reverse that mistake, all while grieving my slowly failing marriage. while trying to make it work and still feeling deep down inside that it wouldn't. really giving it my everything and hoping that it would all fall into place while watching it all crumble down slowly, piece by piece. does that sound sad? i would hate for you to think it was so sad, or that i didn't have happy moments during that time. but well, honestly, it really was sad. and when i finally decided to file for divorce, after years of trying so hard, and going to tons of counseling, praying, crying, and compromising, that was sad too. there were many people who did not understand, there were people who were angry with me. there was a husband who i had promised to stay with forever, but who i knew i couldn't. there was a whole lot of hurt over those five years, and many things that should have never happened. there was a desire to make it work, but just so much exhaustion, and resentment for years of hard work that only led to more horrible days. but in that sad mess, where i felt that surely my life was going to end, and that my family would never again love me again, and that i had lost everything, including my faith and my mind... during all this i found peace, hope, and so much happiness.

it was not an easy thing to do. despite what some may think, i don't think divorce is ever an easy thing. it hurt me, and my ex-husband, and our families, and friends. i questioned whether i was making the right decision many times. the majority of my family members did not agree with what i was doing, my church could not agree with it, i had a few close friends who did support me, and then there was the issue of God. i questioned whether God would still love me, and how i loved God if i was getting a divorce. i cried a lot.

but eventually i found myself alone in a very weird little apartment, living for the first time by myself. i was skinny from hardly eating, and a bit frazzled from never sleeping, cashing in everything i had just to make the rent. i had never lived by myself, and questioned my sanity because i dealt with this new life by being in constant motion until i would collapse from exhaustion (if you ever want to help someone who is going through a divorce, bring them food, or offer them a place to sleep - eating and sleeping on my own were by far, the hardest adjustments to make). it was not easy, not at all. i struggled, and cried. days went by where i would realize that i had lost relationships, a church that i loved, and family members. but through the help and support of good friends, and over time i realized it was going to be okay. i understood more fully than ever that God will always love me, even if i make mistakes, and that i would be okay. 

i began to date, eventually met christian, fell in love, finished school, bought a home, got married, had a baby, and now life is sweet and fuller than i could have ever imagined it.

i am not telling you this to say divorce is the answer to a hurt marriage. i am not going to debate marriage, religion, or beliefs on this blog. 

so why am i talking about this? well, i guess it has just been on my mind, as february 28th is coming up. i have realized that i don't think i really ever have talked about it on this blog, and it was a huge chunk of my adult life. also, divorce isn't a very happy topic, and it is not one that people really like to talk about, but it is a relevant topic in our society (if you aren't divorced, i am sure you know someone who is). while i do not have any formal religious affiliation at this time, i was raised in the church, and struggled greatly during my marriage and even more during my divorce. divorce is not tolerated in most churches, and it usually makes people in the very least, uncomfortable.

and i would be lying if i were to say it didn't make me uncomfortable. since i have had chloe, i have made the decision that at some point she will know that i was married to and divorced from someone else, before i fell in love with her father and married him. this is not going to be something easy, and i imagine i won't tell her about this until she is older. but i will tell her because i want her to learn that i made a mistake, a big one, and that it is alright to make huge mistakes. i want her to also know that we should learn from them, and even better, try to learn from others mistakes. but that life is not lived without making mistakes, and when she does make a mistake that her parents will be there to love her, that God will be there and will love her, and that life will continue to go on... that she will be hurt, and heal, and then she can move on and become stronger, wiser, and make decisions that will bring happiness.

but i do want to tell you too, that if you make mistakes, even huge ones, that you will be okay. all is not lost. whatever it is that you are going through - you will be okay. there can be happiness, and hope, and love. it may not come easily, you may loose things, and people that you cherish, deeply. you may feel that you have lost your mind and your faith. you may feel that things are without purpose and that life doesn't make any sense. well, it doesn't need to always make sense. enjoy it, learn from it, hurt like hell, heal, and move on. be stronger - you can be. you will be okay. i am telling you this from experience, and as someone who is still learning and living.

you will be okay.

all my love,

leah.

PORTRAIT v. 8

"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013"


her new favorite breakfast food is peanut-butter on sourdough toast with bananas on top. i gave her milk with her breakfast, which she handed back. then she made it known that this business of milk with breakfast is not acceptable.



AROUND HERE : a morning at home













a few moments from around here yesterday morning:

- a sink full of yesterday's dishes - looking out to the back yard through a dirty window - radishes - living room - dining room and kitchen - chloe, done eating her breakfast - bathtime - bathroom clutter and tea - chloe getting ready - mama getting ready in a dirty mirror - homemade face cleanser - chloe and me, in a dirty mirror - making cookies to bring to coworkers.

we usually try to get out of the house to do something at least once a day, but i have been sick, and it is february, and i had to go to work at night.. so a quiet morning, followed by an afternoon nap, then some reading and playtime was perfect.
but now it is the weekend, and we have things to do, people to see, places to be... let's go!



i'm working on using my camera in manual mode, can you tell?





YOU ARE DOING A GOOD JOB

chloe, eating frozen yogurt in a cone like it ain't no big thing.

recently i read this article, by tim elmore. i have not read a whole lot of parenting books or articles. i try to be careful about what i do read and really follow my gut when it comes to using different techniques in raising and disciplining chloe. i liked many of the things that this article had to say, particularly about how we praise children... and it made me think about the things i say to chloe, and the things that i say to other people as well: my co-workers, my friends, my patients, my husband. it also made me think about words people say that motivate me personally.

like all parents, i hope, i love to tell my child just how wonderful she is. i want her to have good self-esteem. i want her to be a strong person. i want her to be confident. but i don't want her to not work hard. i don't want her to take things for granted. i don't want her not to struggle, at least a little bit. does this sound bad? i don't mean i want her to have a hard time, but i want her to work and to enjoy achievements she has earned, talents she has cultivated, skills she has honed. i want to allow her to make mistakes and be right there to help her learn from them. i want her to know it is alright to not be the best, alright to fail miserably, alright to make a bad decision - that life will go on, and she will still be loved... even while she is still young. i think that learning these things happens early, or it can if you allow children to make decision, and i would be lying if i said i wasn't dreading the day that i will stand by allowing her to really screw something up.

but right now she still has a few days before that happens. however it is not too early for me to start building her confidence. like many parents, i love to compliment chloe. but i have starting to think about the things i say. it is easy to gush and say "oh, you are the sweetest, cutest, smartest baby ever!", and i don't think it is ever wrong to say these things to your child. but now chloe is starting to do thing - like picking out her own shoes, using utensils at the table, coloring, putting away toys, and so on, i am realizing that these compliments are not the best things i could say to her. she has entered that stage where she wants to do more, all by herself. she wants autonomy. so, in fact, the showering of easy compliments might actually be hurting her. i don't want her to grow into a kindergartener who brags that she is "the sweetest, cutest, and smartest" - not that i don't want her to like herself, i just want her to think a little differently. i want her to know she can do things, and do them well. i want her to know she is capable of working hard and doing it herself. so i have started making a point to tell her "wow chloe, you are concentrating really hard on coloring" or "i do love the way you put away your toys" or even "i think those shoes look great with that skirt." today when she was eating an frozen yogurt cone at ikea, all by herself, even though she was making a huge mess, i told her "chloe, you are holding that cone all by youself" - such a simple statement that made her beam so brightly. she doesn't need me to tell her she is amazing (even though i do think she is exceptionally amazing), she does need me to acknowledge her achievements and let her know i am proud of her. and that means more.

she wants to know she is doing a good job. and so do i, and so does my husband, and so do my patients and their families. i recently starting making it a point to tell patients and their families that they are "doing a good job at ___" or when they report something they have been doing that is good, even if it hasn't really helped much, affirming that they "did the right thing". it isn't much, but it really does seem to go a long way, and it only takes me a second, and it is so easy.

since i have become a mother i have longed for nothing more than to be told "you are doing a good job". and i have been told this. one of chloe's pediatricians must be onto this little secret, because she coos it to me at every visit. she knows exactly what to say to a first-time mama. i come out of those visits feeling as if i could mother ten babies... well.. not quite. but being told that i am doing well at something i am working so hard at, well that gets to me. that means something to me. i put that away, and pull it back out when i am having one of those days. remember this commercial? i saw it when chloe was about nine months old. i was in school full time. i was breastfeeding. i was working. i was trying so hard to do it all, and it made cry. in fact, it still does... get your tissues ready:


now, to close this little blog post, here are my little closing thoughts, my little encouragement to you:

you are doing a good job. i hope you are. i know how hard you are trying. don't give up. you can surely do this. 

and now, go and let those around you know they are doing a good job as well. tell your kids, tell your spouse, tell your friends, your coworkers, your strangers... when you see good work - acknowledge it. it will probably mean more to the recipient then you know it will.

that's all.

love,

leah.

CRAP! IT'S FEBRUARY!

so, it's february. well, it has been february for twenty days. february is historically my worst month. i follow many bloggers who wrote about the horrors of january, and while i don't love january, i found a little annoying voice in the back of my mind reminding me, "at least it's not february!". while i have been trying to be positive this year (which is the reason i have yet to address it in writting) the dark, cold, and icy sharp "bleh" of february has set in, and i have eight days left.

i am happy to have made it to day twenty before this set in.

i am even happier that this is not a leap year.

but otherwise, there are very few things that i really feel happy about right now. really, only a few precious people, and a couple hings that i am holding onto tightly, trusting they will bring me through to march.. and because i love a good list (as if you haven't noticed), here it is:

WHO AND WHAT WILL GET ME THROUGH FEBRUARY:

christian - this man. oh, this man. i don't think i would like him as much if he was easier. i have been told i am easy-going... and i don't think i would seen as such, if he was not himself. i am not complaining. i am not being sarcastic here. i am serious - he is the crazy and wild that makes me sane. 

for example, this morning he woke up kind of grumpy... quite grumpy infact. when i noted he was a "grumpus", and asked him what was up,  he replied "well you were mean"...

"what!!!???!?"

"you were mean to me, in my dreams, and now i am upset"

and as bizarre as this all sounds, it brought about some needed laughter... and this:

 thank you christian for always making me laugh, even in february.

hot toddies: i am officially sick. that cold that keeps coming back and makes you stay in bed, that makes your body hurt from coughing and that leaves you feeling icky all day, and just won't go away? yeah, i have that. during the day i am downing tons of water, and hot lemon tea, and every now and then at night i make it into a hot toddy. when you aren't a nurse, and you get sick you go to the doctor... and when you are a nurse you take some vitamins, drink tons of water, and sip an occasional hot toddy.

this kid:  chloe. this goofy, giggling, silly toddler makes every day amazing. even on those morning when i wake up with cold feet, feeling stuffy, as if i haven't slept for days, and am reminded that i have to go the whole day, and then go to work that night until the following morning, she makes me smile and fills me with the happiness that makes me glad to be alive. i forget about how crappy my body feels, and am content to be with her, to go on adventures with her, to chase her around, to be her mama. 

but otherwise, february, i am over you. i plan to continue to try to ignore your existence, and attempt to persevere as though you never even got to me... because you didn't! ya hear me?



ya hear?

SHOP MY CLOSET

hey, i am cleaning out my closet and getting rid of some perfectly fine things that i have worn once or twice. so, if you are looking for some jeffrey campbell clogs, that are adorable but a tad too big for me, like these...


or a pair of madewell overalls, that i wish would fit me, like these babies:


at a good price - then take a look at them, and other fun and hardly worn items, here.

because what doesn't fit me may make you look fabulous, right?

SIMPLE THINGS


simple things from around our home... and some simple thoughts to share:

found myself spending, and spending, and spending last week... and couldn't quite figure out why i felt that i had such deep pockets... don't get me wrong, i didn't get too crazy, but i am kind of frugal and i found myself ordering and purchasing without hesitation, which is very rare for me.

and then i got my period. crap.

i also found myself a blubbering mess watching toy story 3 with chloe... the part at the end, when all the toys are holding hands - i was a mess!

i should have known.

so today i cleaned out my wardrobe as penance. a bag of donations, a bag to be handed down to the little sisters, and a very tiny bag to be listed to sell.

my wardrobe is now reduced to many grey t-shirts, a handful of cardigans, a couple pairs of jeans, and some tried and true basics i have owned for years. i have found myself setting into classic and easy outfits - a grey v-neck tee, black skinny jeans, a cardigan, and some boots. i am planning to invest in a few items, some pieces i can see myself keeping until they die.... i love the idea of a small and well-loved wardrobe.

i have already started planning chloe's summer wardrobe.... stocking up on vintage short-alls, a new pair of mocs... i have patterns in hand, and have begun searching for the perfect fabrics to sew her some sweet things for summer.

i am so ready for summer. i am tired of television, and worried that chloe watches too much. last summer was full of days outside at the park or in the yard, and long walks. i am ready for that again.

i have started to dream up ideas of how to make our tiny back yard a bit more magical... i am thinking of a little container garden, a play tent, lawn chairs, and am looking for some large basin to re-purpose as a kiddie pool. chloe has been insisting on baths every afternoon as of late, and i think i will have quite a swimmer on my hands come summer.

christian has been studying his bottom off this past week... reading all types of boring books about fires. he is planning on taking a test this spring which would increase his rank. i am proud of him, but feel bad as well. it's not easy to study around here when you want to hang out with your toddler and spouse (who feels as though it has been ages since she has seen you, but it really was only about twelve hours). it wasn't too long ago that i was the one stuck reading boring books. trying to focus while wanting to enjoy my family without worrying about how much i have to read or how much material i need to cram into my head.  he will do it. he is pretty smart and knows how to work his cute bottom off.

we ordered some chinese take-out tonight after i cleaned up the house, and entertained and bathed chloe. chloe had already had her own dinner of vegetables and fish-sticks (and a moose), but she dug right in with us. it was nice to sit at the table, chloe switching from my lap to his to sample our plates. a perfect little family dinner of sorts.


and the perfect simple start to the week.


lots of love to you and yours,

leah.

PORTRAIT v. 7

"a portrait of my children once a week, every week, in 2013"


this week....

 she started making me food with her play kitchen she got for christmas.

 she has been saying "eee-aaa, eeee-aaa!", which i mistakenly thought was her saying my name, "leah". i realized last night she was really saying "yeee-haw!", like her jessie cowgirl doll does. 

she loves to pile all her favorite toys in this little car and then squeeze herself in with them.

SUNNY MUDDY DAY

today was glorious. it was warm and sunny, and while chloe refused her nap... which would usually lead me to keep her in and put her to bed early, i just needed to get her out.


we walked to the nice park. it is further away, but always less packed than the one closest to our home, and never has big kids on bikes riding through it. chloe went down the big slide by herself(!!!), we both slipped down a muddy hill and got muddy bottoms and knees. i pulled my hamstring sliding down that hill and i ugly-laughed my muddy bottom off because, what else can you do? then i got up and pushed chloe on the swings until it started to get a little chily, packed her up, and began to walk home.



on the way home we stopped for a cookie at the local bakery. chloe gobbled that cookie up, and then ate the chalk she had been insisting on holding while in the stroller. we got home and showered, ate dinner, and then chloe got a little too crazy while sitting in a big person chair at the table, and fell. ofcourse she hit her head, and ofcourse she screamed her poor hurt head off.


so i held her, and rocked her, and she fell asleep. and then i freaked out because she fell asleep so quickly... at first forgetting that she had refused her nap, had a long day, and it was only a short while until her usual bedtime. yeah, i might be a nurse, and take care of other people's kids. yes, i work in an emergency room, and i do know what to look out for when it comes to head injuries. but, i am still a first time mom, and i needed that call from the pediatrician to assure me of what to look out for and tell me that it was okay to watch her at home instead of running to the emergency room. chloe has been fine.... even though i am sure i will stay up all night long checking in on her.

so now it is off to work on a new doll, and listen to an audio book, and stay awake until i no longer can... and perhaps let chloe sleep in her mama's bed for the night.

the above videos were taken with the new vine app. i have found it to be a little glitchy, but i still really like it. do you vine yet? my name is "missleahruth".

i hope you had a beautiful day.

VALENTINE'S DAY

so with all this valentine's stuff going on i have been greatly refraining from any long drawn out rambling posts - those posts in which i put into words just a fraction of what may be growing, twisting, turning, and kicking in my noggin' like a small growing baby in a pregnant tummy. not to bad of an analogy actually, as some ideas i get so excited over you would think i was a pregnant woman waiting for the arrival of her newborn offspring. so, yeah, this is one of those posts. just to prepare you if you aren't really into that thing, or if you are into that thing and want to grab something warm to drink, perhaps a blanket, and curl up on your sofa for this - which is what i somewhat dream that people do when they read these horribly long posts.

however, this will also serve as my recap on what valentine's day was for me and my little family - and yes, there will be photos... probably at the end, so if you are just here for the photos, by all means - scroll on down! but if you would like to humor me by reading the musings of a surely somewhat delusional, and very rambly woman, at the brink of her thirties, who is thinking that maybe not all is right in the world, but perhaps more than what she might have thought... you can continue to read.

we started out the morning rough. chloe got up way to early, and by way to early i mean before eight. i had big plans for the day, and the night, and i knew i needed her to take a very late nap in order for her to be able to stay up waaay past her eight p.m. bedtime. but she was awake, and jumping in her crib when i entered her room. she removed her binky, and exclaimed "CHOO CHOO!? CHOO CHOO!?" then popped the bink back in her mouth as i shook my head "yes" and smiled. when we had bought our home we were a little leery of living so close to a train stop. on one hand it is nice to be so close to public transportation. we don't live in center city - it is quite expensive to own a home, and the husband likes to have a car, which is always a bigger problem then it is worth when it comes to parking and not acquiring mysterious dings and dents. so we felt the train may be a good little "amenity", but with the train comes train noise, which we felt was a little nuisance at first (but have become accustomed to). however, if i had known that chloe would love the train so much i would have moved even closer to it. "CHOO CHOO" was one of her very first phrases (which when said by a baby is just too stinkin' cute! the way their little mouth puckers and they kind of spit... oh my!), and every time the train passes along she will race through our home to the front door in order to catch a glimpse of it and exclaim "CHOO CHOO! CHOO CHOO!". and there is hardly anything more adorable than a little girl so enamored with trains... in a world where princesses and pink are so encouraged for little girls, and which i am sure we will visit from time to time, it is so sweet to see her enjoying trains right now.

i got her up and sat her in bed with me. she took my, i mean, her iPad (around here we like to joke that for my 29th birthday my very generous husband bought chloe an iPad, as she has claimed it as her own and i hardly ever use it during her awake hours), and turned it on and started to watch a little mickey mouse clubhouse. i checked my e-mail and sat next to her, enjoying our quiet time. then came a breakfast of mostly strawberries and a few honey-nut cheerios for her, and coffee and pepper-jelly toast for me. have you tried pepper jelly? my mother-in-law got me hooked, most-likely unknowingly, by giving us a harry & david gift-box one year for christmas that included the most amazing pepper jelly relish i have ever tasted. since then i have found pepper-jelly at the super market and made it a staple in my fridge. it is a perfect meal or snack when paired with a bagel or toast. it is sweet, but not in a sugary way, and spicy, but not in a hot way. a perfect little balance on top of some seeded crunchy bread.

i was waiting to get paid, and it was after nine, and i still wasn't paid. i let chloe play until ten while doing some laundry and cleaning up the kitchen, and checked my bank account and still wasn't paid. i checked facebook to see if anyone from work was complaining that they weren't paid, and then called payroll to see what the deal was, who referred me to my bank, who told me there was an "equipment failure" and payroll for everyone was messed up thismorning and would be fixed as soon as possible. humph! i always know about how much i will be getting paid, but sometimes it is a little more, and sometimes it seems a little less than i anticipate. i work shift-work, and my rate depends on which shift i work at which part of the week. for example, after 11pm on the weekends i get paid more than working before 11pm on the weekdays. it is the same work, just different hours. when i started as a nurse there was a time where the hospital would pay you ten dollars extra, on top of over-time pay for working from 3pm until 7pm. and being that i was still young-er (oh what a difference a few years have made!) and without child (and what a difference that has made!), and single (oh what a .....), i would just come in four hours earlier for my shift, making it a sixteen hour shift instead of a twelve! it is hard for me to believe i was ever that insane.

so, i decided to get chloe dressed. she had the most adorable vintage dress left over from christmas, which i know she will outgrow with the blink of an eye, so i decided it would make a good valentine's dress. i got her dressed, and decided i must shower. deodorant and dry shampoo wasn't going to cut it... but i hated taking a shower with her still awake and dressed. she is pretty good about entertaining herself, but she knows that if i am doing something where i will be unable to get to her quickly that her chances of getting away with being slightly-naughty are probably worth taking. she is a good toddler, but she is a toddler. so i decided that i would for-go the real shampoo and get by with some dry shampoo (it IS only day three...), but that i would need to shower. i put the baby gate up at the steps, grabbed her and the ipad and locked her in the bathroom with me. it didn't go smoothly, but i got showered and even shaved my legs - so, yeah - worth it. i made sure to acknowledge chloe's somewhat good behavior as she threw a q-tip with one end missing (???) in the tub when i turned the water off. then i unlocked the door and started to get ready.  less than two minutes later i head "mmmmMMMMmmmm", the click of a glass, and more "mmmMMMMmmm", call chloe, and see her appear in the bathroom doorway wearing diet coke down the front of her valentine's dress.

i should know better than to leave diet coke all over my home, but i guess i don't.

i got us both dressed. me in my first outfit, and her in her second. i checked my bank account - got paid, and it turned out to be a tiny bit more than i anticipated. so, i did a happy dance, and paid my bills, slapped some down on my student loans, felt rich, and decided we would go out for lunch, go to the grocery store, fill the car with gas, and that i must have some black liquid eye-liner. 

we got into the car, and the car is where my thoughts run wild. not as wild as they would run if i was taking public transportation, but pretty wild. my thoughts while i drive are say state park nature reserve wild, while my thoughts while taking public transportation are undiscovered, uncharted, uncultivated land full of ravenous beasts wild.... at least that is how i feel they are in comparison. but i was driving, and lately i have been thinking about death. not in a sad sense, if death could be thought of as anything but sad... but in a more natural and healthy (for lack of a better word) sense....

as a nurse i see natural death, and very unnatural life. things are constantly in the process of dying, and we try so hard to stop this from happening. from spa services and vitamins to ventilators and drugs, we do what we can to defeat it. but why? because we don't want to lose one another? we don't want to lose ourselves? we don't want to be old? ultimately we don't have too much control over these things, ultimately we are all going to die eventually, ultimately we are going to get old no mater how hard we try not to. i thought about getting old. i already tell chloe she is not allowed to put me in a nursing home. i don't want to be an old lady in nursing home. i fear, or rather i know, i am going to loose my mind eventually, and that anyone who is not related to me, who doesn't love me, who i haven't managed to endear myself to, may not have the patience enough to still treat me nicely when i am an old crazy bitty who puts pots in the microwave to cook macaroni. chloe, mama never goes to the nursing home. never.

but, then i think about death and how sad we are when people die. but what about the people who die? now this depends on what you believe happens to you when you die.. and i have things i believe which i won't get into on here, because this isn't that kind of blog. but then part of me wonders if those who are dead are sad that they miss out on all the love and fun things that happen during life? births, watching people grow and do stuff and accomplish crazy things, valentine's day, sleeping, eating good food, pepper jelly toast, chocolate, diet coke, toddlers, silly houses full of family and love, "CHOO, CHOO"?  do you think they are just as sad, or if not, more sad because they no longer get to be part of it?

i wondered if i died... what would chloe do? how would she deal with it? she is too young to understand death and dying. she would probably just wait for me to come home, for a long time, and then become sad in a weird way that nobody would understand but would be very heartbreaking to watch... and i cried in my car with her in the back seat, and i looked in my rear-view mirror to see the little mirror reflection of her face in the mirror we had attached to the seat that her carseat is fastened to... i whimpered " i love you". 

christian would remarry. that is our agreement. he needs to remarry and chloe would have a new mom. which makes me sad. i want to be chloe's mom forever. and i think i would be a sad dead person. a sad ghost.

i recently was in triage and sat there with a mom and daughter.. the daughter not too much older than me, and did an electrocardiogram, which immediately confirmed my suspicion that she was having a heart attack. gave the sheet of heart-attack paper to the doctor and wheeled the mom, still lying in the stretcher back to a room while explaining to the daughter "your mother is having a heart attack. she is here, and you have done the right thing. we are going to help her", as both my eyes and her filled up with tears. 

i cry for my patients sometimes. i cry when people give birth - thank goodness that doesn't happen very often! but i can remember a time when it did happen and i stood there rubbing a newborn baby in a towel under a warm light while feeling like my heart was surely going to explode. and i didn't know it yet, but at that very minute i was holding a baby in my own body. i have cried for patients who are having strokes, and their poor families. i have cried for patient's with cancer. i have cried talking on the phone with mother's of young men who have been shot. i have cried for children who are brought to the hospital either alone, or with their parent who is in one way or another sick and unable to care for them.

and this is what i think about while driving.. and then i begin to wonder if my heart or head will explode. or if i will have a seizure. if this is what it feels like. so many thoughts and emotions (which are really just more thoughts without words), going though my head and exciting my neurons, and all the synapses firing, and wondering if maybe one of these times it will just lead to convulsing and firing and snapping and i will lay there unable to control it until it stops. i wonder if all these thoughts, much too many for me to write, or even speak, all running and rambling through my skull are maybe a tiny bit  how a patient with expressive aphasia (the inability to express oneself through speech or writing even at times), may feel. the inability to communicate what is happening inside them or around them.... and i am happy i have words. 

and within just ten minutes of leaving our home we are at the little yuppie thin crust pizza place with long booths for chloe to run on, as i talk to another momma with a baby not too much younger than chloe about boring mom stuff like baby friendly eating esablishments, baby carriers, and frozen yogurt places. her baby is sitting nicely in a high chair, watching chloe run back and forth on the booth, alternatively grabbing a bite of pizza and running to the end of the booth where a clear water dispenser sits on a counter. she must cover it in her fingerprints. she must.

we wish them good day, and make our way to the drug store to purchase me something to knock out my weird sinus cold thing that i have had going on for way to long. and forget the black liquid eye liner. run to the grocery store and pick up some flowers, sandwiches, desert, milk, strawberries, frozen vegetables. i once thought that cut flowers were sad, because they died. then a woman from a church i went to told me that she loved cut flowers because they were a reminder to enjoy what you have while you have it.... her husband had died years before.

i stopped at another drug store and grabbed black liquid eye liner, diet coke, and a small package of m&m's for chloe. her first m&m's. i ripped open the package while she sat in her car seat and fed them to her as i filled the car with gas. yeah, i was feeling rich yesterday. i called my mother-in-law and decided to bring chloe to see her. decided to pick up donuts since my mother-in-law was picking up chloe's cousin from pre-school. 

chloe and her cousin played. chloe is the youngest and still a little too young to really play well with others. she just kind of runs around, and sometimes through stuff the other kids are doing. the older kids know this. they usually try to play without her at first, but within only a few minutes are playing with her just fine. they chase, and yell, and scream. they are happy. my mother-in-law, my sister-in-law, and myself stood in the kitchen, drank coffee, and talked. i brought chloe home to take a very late nap while i called my sweet grandmother, and got christian's valentine's gift ready before we went out for the evening.

christian's valentine gift: a ton of all red rot-your-teeth candy that he loves, the softest red t-shirt, and a moose card, ha! he has been trying to give me my gift all week - he is horrible at keeping gifts a secret. since monday he had been asking "do you want your valentine gift?", sooo excited. cute. and i had been refusing to open it until valentine's day. he walked in the door last night and pulled a big rectangular flat box out of the closet. i made him open his, and he laughed at the handmade card and what it said inside... then i opened up his gift... more crying. i had been wanting a red cross flag replica for a while to frame and put in the living room. the boy bought me a real, authentic red cross flag, dirt and stains and all, and framed it. he is so much better at buying me gifts than i am at buying him gifts. i have a pretty thoughtful guy. i am a lucky girl.

we threw ourselves together, i wore a necklace and my high shoes to feel extra-fancy. we woke up chloe last minute, changed her, and put some red jeans and heart stickers on her as she whimpered. she hates being woken up.

and we went to the circus! i had scored amazing tickets for fifteen dollars each (!!!). we were sitting next to a cute father and daughter pair. the daughter was maybe two years older than chloe and holding a little stuffed dog with a red ribbon. chloe took notice and made friends quickly, by smiling leaning over and holding the little girl's hand, just for a minute. when i catch chloe being affectionate to children she doesn't even know, i wonder where she gets this from. then i stop wondering and caring where she gets it from, and i am just happy she is who she is... and melt into a proud mommy puddle. 

we spent way too much money on parking, and on fries and cotton candy, and on a soft stuffed elephant when chloe wouldn't stop touching the little girl's stuffed dog. even though the girl's father kept saying it was fine, it just kind of felt awkward and uncomfortable. chloe and i missed the elephants, while riding the huge escalators in the wells fargo center (escalators are her favorite), and once we got back to our seat chloe was finished... she had been woken up from her late and very short nap, and was up way past her bedtime, and a stuffed elephant was going to calm her. we walked out of the stadium and back to the car, all smiling and happy. happy to have gone to the circus. happy to have chloe. happy to have one another. happy to not need to wait in traffic at the end of the circus. chloe sang to her elephant the whole ride home while christian and i smiled and talked.

we got home and all went to bed. warm. cozy. tuckered. cuddled. together. it was perhaps (most certainly) my favorite valentine's day so far.... and now here's the photos:


i hope you had a very happy valentine's day wherever you are. i hope you know you are loved. i hope you know that i appreciate all who read this little blog and send me their love, and know that i send you all the love from my little woman heart.




and here is a heart sticker that got stuck to a baby's bottom & black liquid eye liner that lingers into the next morning.

oh yeah, and i was included in a lovely post, by a lovely lady, who has a lovely blog! check it out here. thank-you T.J. for including me and my husband in your valentine's day post!


love,

leah.
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