Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Faux Fall

September = sweaters, cozy fires, apple picking, and hot cocoa.  

September in Arizona = triple digit temps, sweaty car rides, apple picking and did I mention heat?

I miss you, Autumn.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Photo Credit

I failed to give credit for the beautiful photos in the last post to our amazing friend and photographer, Sarah.  Any photographs that made you gasp with their technique and composition were the result of her artistry.  Thank you, Sarah, for such lovely photographs that we will treasure for a lifetime.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011


Just over a year ago, I had to call to the NICU to check on Samuel before going to bed.  

And then, one year ago, we celebrated the homecoming of our sweet boy.

That night (and many following nights) we slept snuggled up together in bed, my nose resting on his head to inhale his heavenly smell.  Last night, I crept into his room, tucked his blanket in under his chubby legs, and watched him sleep.  My precious baby.  My little fighter.  

He has come so far.  From this...

...to this

From this...

...to this

When I'm lucky, this bruiser of a boy (and his nosy-pokey-chatty-loving sister) will let me rock him to sleep.  I hear his sweet shudder sigh as he relaxes into me and I try to drink it all in, every last drop, and sear it into my brain.  

Welcome home, beautiful boy.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Great Escape

What a difference a day makes.

A full 24 hours of only feeding ourselves, not preparing a meal, changing a diaper, wiping a nose, or refereeing a conflict over a toy.

A chance to think complete and somewhat coherent thoughts without interruption, to lay in bed and feel the breeze through an open window while listening to a lovely afternoon thunderstorm.

Sleep.  Deep blissful sleep, with no chance of having to drag ourselves out from under cozy covers to assure our imaginative toddler there are no monsters in her room, or clunk around the kitchen making a bottle at two a.m.  

We ate our meals slowly and lingered at the table without the pressure to get home, relieve a babysitter and go to bed before an early morning wake-up call.

We had time to step away from the craziness of day-to-day life to evaluate, plan for the future, and set priorities.  We drafted a family purpose statement to help keep us focused on what is truly important and filter out everything else.  It will help us make decisions in how we spend our time and money.  It is also a picture of who we are and who we want to be as a family.  We set priorities to feed our bodies healthy foods, to become debt-free, and be and to generous and extend grace to each other and those around us, among other things.  All wonderful, deep, challenging priorities for us to aspire to.  As we were wrapping up our serious, future-looking conversation, Ben added one more item to the list...

Be silly and laugh together.

There is a reason this guy is about to get his PhD.  He is one handsome genius.  What is more important in these trying/wonderful/wild/fleeting little years than to laugh?  I have the choice a hundred times a day...Will I be frustrated when I find Samuel examining the bottom of a previously full container of dry oats?  Or do I grab the camera before I grab the broom?  Will I be embarrassed when Miss Independent insists on dressing herself and has her clothes on inside out, shoes on the wrong feet, and misshapen cowboy hat on her head when we go to the library?  Or do I praise her efforts and ignore the rest?

I choose to laugh.  And I have a sneaking suspicion that we will need our sense of humor even more in the years to come.

Although it was heavenly to have 24 child-free hours, we couldn't wait to get home.  The time away gave me  a rare chance to miss my precious Littles.  It gave me the energy to focus on priorities I've been putting off and things I've been neglecting.  I'm motivated to really buckle down...and get silly.

A HUGE thank you-thank you-thank you to the most amazing "Aunt NaNa and her Wee-am (Liam)" for taking the plunge into temporary parenting with grace and expertise.  A couple more weekends like this and we'll call it even for being the masterminds behind your love connection.  

Monday, September 5, 2011

Zen Masters

The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.

I read somewhere that babies are little zen masters.  The past is forgotten and the future doesn't exist.  All that matters is right now.  My normal state is far from zen.  I fret and worry wondering is there enough flax in her oatmeal to fortify her brain against another episode of World World, did we read enough today, am I talking/playing/directing enough but not too much?  I realize some anxiety is just a normal part of motherhood.  But how much is too much?  What is the tipping point between healthy protectiveness and overzealous mothering?  Good grief, I am even anxious about my level of anxiety.

As Buddha said, mourning the past allows my mind to be unhealthy.  I mourn the what-ifs, the should-haves, and the if-onlys.  And anxiety is a part of my genetic makeup.  I come by it honestly, but it is something I long to conquer.  

Samuel's traumatic birth and related health complications have certainly stretched my mental health to the limits and exposed my glaring inadequacies.  There is so much that is unknown about his future.  We have been given the following statistics for children with his diagnosis: 

1 out of 3 babies are fine.  A word I despise, by the way.  What mother wants her baby to be just fine? Or is that just the perfectionist, type-A personality in me?  Hello, anxiety.

1 out of 3 babies have developmental delays.  This could be a speech or motor delay (Samuel has been diagnosed with both) that will be overcome.

1 out of 3 babies have developmental disabilities.  This could include anything from cerebral palsy to a learning disability.

Only within the last few months have I been able to say the words grade III intraventricular hemorrhage resulting in mild hydrocephalus without stumbling over them.  I had some sort of mental block about Samuel's diagnosis that kept me from remembering, let alone comprehending, what those scary words meant. 

When we first learned of Samuel's condition, Ben quickly went into gatekeeper mode, gathering information, asking thoughtful questions, gently insisting he handle the depressing literature being handed to us.  He protected me from the terrifying possibilities, knowing it was more than I could handle.  Gratefully, I sank into an ignorant cocoon and focused on the more immediate issues we were facing during life in the NICU; regulating oxygen, eating by mouth, and staring at the blinking, blaring monitors as if by sheer force of will I could control them.

Months passed.  After haltingly explaining Samuel's diagnosis to yet another specialist and being gently corrected, it was time to shed light on the ignorance I had clung to.  I nervously typed "hydrocephalus", "IVH", and "grade III" into the Google search box.  I willed myself to focus on the medical sites, not feeling ready to read message boards or forums.  As a result, I now know more than I ever wanted to about the possible outcomes for grade 3 brain hemorrhage sufferers.  

And despite the odds, our Samuel is making wonderful progress.  He has recently progressed fully from army-crawl to upright crawl, an important developmental milestone.  He is vocalizing more and more, repeating consonants (dah-dah-DAH!) with varying inflection.  Weekly visits from a lovely developmental specialist, upcoming visits to the speech therapist, and frequent check-ins with the neurologist to monitor fluid levels in his brain are now just a part of our routine.  He is a beautiful, snugly, sweet, happy, resilient little boy, a zen master with the Buddah belly to match.

With so much of the past to mourn and question and so much of the future to worry and fret about, I must remind myself not to miss this precious present moment, and experience it wisely and earnestly.  The Prince of Peace asked,

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
-Jesus (Matt 6:27)

If I let it, worry can steal moments of sweet joy.  Moments like this...

And so I will again attempt to shake off the weight of worry and instead embrace my little zen masters knowing this moment, right now, is all that that really matters.