Monday, February 25, 2019

"What Wealth the Show" ... Had Brought

One thing I do is stop and smell the flowers.  Daffodils are my favorite because they're labor-efficient (plant 'em once!), they help me with my "wait-training" since they're bulbs, and they show up at just the right time, when I wonder if I can stand another day of winter's dreariness.  They remind me of a baby's first smile, perfectly timed in that post-partum period.

Just like sunshine from the ground.
One of my favorite poems, for one of my favorite flowers.  I love how that works out sometimes.


My grandmother, Angel Pie's namesake, loved daffodils, too.  This is one of the few photographs I have of her, and that's ok.  It's just the way I remember her:  in her housecoat, her sunhat, in the garden, in the morning.  If I have any hint of a green thumb, it's because of her.  She let me plant the marigolds and pick the daffodils.  (Pretty sure I goofed that a time or two.)  She walked me around and around her yard, telling me the names of her plants:  azaleas, camellias, hydrangeas, amaryllis, magnolias, oaks, cherry tomatoes on the deck.  We waited for each in its season.

I love that this photo is so ethereal, somewhat from the sun, and somewhat from age and poor storage.  I remember her saying that God gave her wide shoulders so she could carry a heavy load, and that she did.  I hope I never have to face the pain she did.  I lost my father, but she lost her son.  And yet, she was so gentle.  Loving, understanding, and accepting.  "Hey, honey."

I'm pretty sure no daffodils ever grew here.

That last photo?  That was my first favorite garden of my own.  So tiny, with pots everywhere.  Frances (the cat) and I spent so much time "in" that garden:  drinking chardonnay from a box and smoking cigarettes.  I was convinced that flowers thrived on second-hand smoke.  Those were the days.

I'm walking away from this post with focus on Wordsworth's observation:  "I gazed --- and gazed --- but little thought What wealth the show to me had brought...."  Let's do that a little more, shall we?

Friday, January 4, 2019

You Know What I'd Do?

Well, one thing I would do is doubt myself.  And anyone else who thought I could make a living writing a blog.  I've doubted a lot, actually, and I used to be pretty good at it.  I don't have time for that anymore though.

It's no coincidence I received this beautiful, meaningful piece for Christmas.  BFF knows just what I need.

The old Denise (makes me laugh to use "old" Denise in the past tense!) would have put this off until it was all perfect.  But, as my friend, Ryanna, says, "Progress....not perfection."  So when you're reading this wonderfully imperfect blog post on my not-yet-fully-functional website, just know how proud I am that I hit the publish button.

This photo just added for cuteness.  My Dreamers.  My Inspiration.

Life doesn't look like I thought it would.  The characters are different, the plot continues to turn, and the scenery is changing.  And I'm OK with that.  You know what's the same though?  The dreams for myself that I never remembered even having.  They were in there!  The dreams for my children for which I studied and worked tirelessly to lay a foundation.  Those dreams haven't changed, and I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity and the peace of mind to chase them.  Come with me?

Also no coincidence I spotted this magnet on a friend's fridge recently.  The universe knows just what I need.

Monday, August 28, 2017

I Could've Been Cleaning

Here's a confession:  I really don't like the beach.  In theory, it's wonderful:  sun on the skin, sand in the toes, salt water's good for what ails ya, right?  In reality, it's hot.  With a crawling baby, it means sand in everything.  And salt water means everyone needs a shower (not such an easy task with 3 little squid along).

Fortunately, we have access to the same beach The Papa played on as a child.  So long as our timing is right for low tide, we can play in the sand and saltwater of the channel with enough boat wake to make it fun (and occasionally scary), a toilet just upstairs, and an outdoor shower with warm water.  I joke that it's our own private yacht club.  It's crazy to live so close to that and not take advantage of it, right?

I decided Monday evening that we were going to take advantage of it, and we were going to take advantage of it the very next morning.  I didn't, however, prepare very well the night before so I was a mess (to put it mildly) Tuesday morning trying to get everything together.  The whole time I was scurrying around, all I could think was, "I could just stay home and clean up this mess."

When we got to the sound, though, and got everything in the sand and the saltwater, all I could think was, "But I would've missed this."

Hard at work making a baby pool!

This little imp had just offered me a hug.  A wet, sandy hug.
Sweet, huh?

JayBird found 3 hermit crabs that day.  I scored a baby blue crab.
Strangely, we couldn't even get close to the schools of fish.

On the way home, we stopped by "Touch Tank Tuesday" at the NC Coastal Federation office.  It's always so interesting to see what the staff collected from the local waters.  This day's most interesting specimen was a pregnant blue crab.  Want to know how to tell if a crab is pregnant?  Check her belly.

This isn't the best photo, but the egg sack looked much like a sponge.  Reportedly, it also feels like a sponge.
That's about 2 milllllllllllion eggs.
And to think.....I could've been cleaning.

Out of the Chrysalis!

This post is really about a caterpillar, but it's an appropriate time and analogy for my getting back to recording our family's memories.  Much of what happens while a larva pupates is still a mystery, as is where the time has gone since my last post over at Memories on Maplechase.  At any rate, "Forward, March!"

Back in September (2015), I saw a post from an acquaintance offering Eastern Black Swallowtail caterpillars.  "How fun and educational it would be for the kids to see metamorphosis first-hand!" I thought.  And so one morning we became the proud keepers of two beautiful caterpillars.  We did a little research and made a cozy home for Winter and Hope.

That's just Winter.  We took Hope to school, but she "stopped eating" over the long Labor Day weekend.
Naturally, we had planned to spend the Labor Day weekend four hours away from home with friends.  I say "naturally" because that's the way things seem to go:  almost never at a convenient time.  See, caterpillars eat a lot.  And often.  They really can't be left in a gallon-sized glass jar for four days.  So, we either find a 'pillar-sitter, or we take her with us.  And since we didn't have time to properly screen a sitter, we had no choice but to take her with us.  It was ok since we still had six square inches of empty space in our van.

We arrived safely at our destination and situated Winter in the gazebo overlooking the lake.  It was a beautiful view for a caterpillar.  On our second day, The Mamas of the group went into the city for an over-night, and while we were away, The Papa got to witness Winter shedding her little legs and curling up into her chrysalis!  He said it happened very quickly.  We were very proud of her.

We brought her home, and a couple of weeks later while on the screened porch, I turned to notice something moving inside the jar.  It was.....startling, to say the least, to find such a beauty!

Thank heavens we had friends here to help us figure out what to do.  Seems simple, huh, just to let her out.  Well, it was very exciting, and sometimes emotions take over.

What could be better than this?
I was so happy that she crawled right onto The Girl's arm.  We couldn't have planned it any better than that.  She put her arm near a potted plant where the butterfly rested, and after a few minutes, Winter flew onto the roof of the neighbor's house.  Watching Winter was such a magical time, and she will hold a place in our hearts forever.

And, by the way, Winter was a male.  ;)

Monday, August 14, 2017

There's Nothing You Can Do

I've never been much for television.  And when The Girl came along, that didn't change.  We would spend our days at home in the relative quiet that can exist with one child and her mother going about the business of living.  From time to time, however, I would turn on the television to check the news; to see what was happening in the world.

It was October, and one afternoon I did just that.  I remember being so startled and saddened to learn that 33 Chilean miners had been trapped below the earth for 69 days.  I don't think I'll ever forget those numbers.  When I worked in the mortgage business, I was on top of the news.  I knew what the Fed was planning to do.  I knew which politicians supported which interests.  I knew what governments were doing in other countries and how that would likely affect my customers and my pocketbook.

But here I was, voluntarily trapped in my own cave.  So shocked to learn that others had been holding their proverbial breaths while rescue efforts persevered for months.  The Girl was about a month shy of 1 year.  I remember telling a man, a family friend, how awful I felt to have been so oblivious to the world.
My little cave

He said to me, "There's nothing you can do.  You're in your little house changing diapers and nursing a baby."  He went on with a few other thoughts, likely to try to make me feel better, but those words were piercing.  I have heard those words, his voice, so many times.  "There's nothing you can do."  "There's nothing you can do."  "There's nothing you can do."

So much nursing....

So many diapers....

I'm not really sure why, but that just doesn't sit with me.  I have always had a very hopeful spirit.  Maybe it's because I always had so many opportunities to help others.  When you're doing something to help others, it's easy to see that there's something you can do.  When I went away to college, I felt the most hopeful.  So many opportunities to help others, but there were also so many people helping others.  And not just people helping others, but so many stories of people helping others.  Locally, and around the world.  Stories from peers, and stories in books.  Stories of helping people in need, and stories of helping people avoid need.

And then I got wrapped up in the working world.  Not really paying much attention to the needs of others or what I could about it.  I still did plenty of volunteer work and was involved in civic organizations that helped others, but I was primarily focused on work (and a little play).

Soon enough I found myself consumed by the demands of a new life and the planted idea that "(t)here (was) nothing (I could) do."

Until a few weeks ago.  I slammed my fist down on the recording that said, "There's nothing you can do."  Picture me laughing maniacally and yelling, "I AM DOING SOMETHING! I. AM. DOING. LOTS. OF. THINGS!"  See, in this little house, I'm rearing children who will go into the world and do things.  And I'm rearing them (hopefully) to want to do it.
The way I see it, though, is that I don't have to do anything to make them want to do things.  I just have to stay out of the way and keep from crushing the spirit they already have.

Fly, little bird!

Never before have I been more hopeful.  When I hear the things these children say, when I see the things they do, it feeds my hope.  I'm writing this at a time in our country when some people are saying, "I'm scared for the world my children are growing up in." Perhaps I live in a bubble, but if living in a house with children doesn't make a person the most hopeful ever, what else could?

These little lights of mine, I'm gonna let 'em shine....

Yes.  There are hateful people in the world.  Yes.  There is evil in the world.  Always has been.  Always will be.  But you know what else?  There are really wonderful people in the world, and there is good in the world.  And I choose to believe that there is more good than bad.  And I'm going to do my part to keep it that way.

Peace, Friends.  And, hey, stay out of the way of people who are doing things.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

What the Heck Was THAT?

Last Friday morning, The Papa woke me at 6:45 to tell me that The Girl had a weird rash.  When I hear the word "rash", I think of little red bumps.  This is what I found:

They looked more like welts.

She didn't seem bothered by it, and she didn't have any other symptoms so we decided to just watch it.  Since The Boy was still sleeping, we decided to read some books.  While we were reading, she told me that her throat was hurting.  Within seconds, some stuff came out of her mouth, and I knew she'd had yogurt as a morning snack.  I say, "some stuff came out of her mouth" because I don't know if it's called regurgitation or vomit.  Maybe some of my medical friends can help me out with that.  Anyway, that was a little weird and a lot disgusting, but she seemed to not be bothered.  A little later she was ready for breakfast, and she continued to be her "normal" self.  In fact, she decided to get married that day.  "Of course!" I thought.  "Hives.  Perfectly normal for a girl who's about to get married."

She asked me to send The Papa a picture and ask if he would send a gift.  We've been using the silver we got for our wedding, and she is absolutely pleased to know that gifts for weddings are appropriate.

Around noon, I noticed she felt "a little warm."  I decided to let her watch some DVDs we had borrowed from the library to keep her calm so she could rest.  By that point, the rash had started doing its thing.  Several small mosquito-bite-looking-bumps would appear then swell into one big Pangea-looking-thing.  It started itching.  She was still pretty unphased by it all, but by the time 4:00 rolled around, things were going downhill.  Four o'clock is the time The Papa is scheduled to get off work as well as the time both children start getting hungry for dinner and sleepy.  Not a good combination.

I "whipped up" (as The Papa would say) a batch of coconut oil with lavender and tea tree essential oils.  We spent a lot of time rubbing her with that which seemed to calm her down and relieve the itching.  I was out of my favorite immune-boosting go-to so I had made a batch of elderberry syrup.  We continued that along with some other supplements.  Since The Papa was home (and found me deserving of a fashionable adult beverage, by the way), I was able to spend some time trying to determine which homeopathic remedies might be helpful.

By Friday evening, the rash covered her entire body.  It migrated, if you will.

Nights were tough.  The Girl was tired.  The Mama was tired.  The Papa was tired.  The Girl got very itchy at night and only slept a couple of hours straight when she was able to sleep.  At three o'clock Saturday morning, she was thrilled with the idea of a cornstarch bath.  I filled the tub full of water (a treat since The Boy wasn't there), and she splashed around like a flounder.  It was so good to see her smiling and laughing.  It was a little bit of a different story when she had to get out, but a cornstarch dusting was a good idea.

I have to tell you that when The Papa told me there was a rash, I thought, "Of course it's Friday."  So this "watch and see" plan has to last 'til Monday which is a tad more uncomfortable than, say, tomorrow.  On top of that, the chiroquacker was on vacation so I had no one to reassure me that we could wait 'til Monday.  I should say, however, that the urgent care is another of the tools in our arsenal.  We're fortunate that there are two urgent care centers within two miles of our house so if the going gets too tough, we can get going.  Fortunately, all the bumps were gone by Sunday evening, and except for an exhausted family, we were none the worse for wear.

Well, most of us were exhausted.  Some of us thrive on adrenaline, apparently.

I have several thoughts about treating "things" naturally.  When you don't know what you're fighting, it's hard to know which weapon to use.  The great thing about doing things naturally, though, is that you have so many weapons to use.  As you can tell, we'd already pulled several weapons from the arsenal:  herbs, homeopathics, supplements, essential oils, and whatever you call coconut oil.  And time.

I couldn't really think of a good reason to go to the doctor.  All I knew is that I had a child with a rash, a 12-hour fever, and a one-time vomit.  I had a sweet friend and a good neighbor trying to help figure out what the heck it was, and, of course, none of her symptoms perfectly fit anything we could find.  I decided to quit Googling when I couldn't determine if it was an allergic reaction, meningitis, or (the) fifth disease.

Here we are on Tuesday evening still not knowing what the heck was that.  I shouldn't admit this, but in one way, I wish it was me who had gotten it, and in another way, I'm glad it wasn't.  I'm really, really glad it wasn't The Papa though.  ;)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

....Is Read.

Or, should it be "What Denise Does Is Reads"?  How about this:  I read.  A lot.  Honestly, more than I want to read sometimes.  But I have children who like to be held while they sleep, and I'm just going to hold them.  As a matter of fact, I'm holding the baby right now.  If that statement conjures images of a swaddled infant resting peacefully on my lap, let me set you straight.  The baby is now almost 30 pounds and either almost as strong as me or almost as, ahem, determined as me.  For now though, he is resting peacefully.

Over the past four years, I've stumbled my way through probably one hundred books about pregnancy, childbirth, and parenting, and I can't remember a single title I found worthless.  Perhaps I did what one of our local La Leche League leaders suggests at every meeting:  Perhaps I took what I thought would work for me and left the rest behind.  Now that I think about it, you should do that here.

Although there have been many helpful titles, there have been a select few that I consistently recommend to others.  They're the ones that were, literally, life-changing.  In case you're wondering, here they are.

Honestly, if Ina May Gaskin wrote a book about applying sunscreen to chickens, I would read it because she just knows her stuff.  If you have limited time for reading choose this one, but if you can, also check out Ina May's Guide to Breastfeeding and Spiritual Midwifery.

Womanly Art of Breastfeeding New 8th Edition

In case you didn't know, La Leche League is the authority on breastfeeding, and it's the first place you should go for breastfeeding information.  Unless your doctor is an IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant), s/he should direct you to LLL and/or an IBCLC when you have questions concerning breastfeeding.  That's a pretty bold statement, but it's true. This book covers everything from pregnancy to weaning and is meticulously cited for reference.  Within our local chapters of LLL, this book is available for purchase for $16 flat (a small savings over the cover price).

My Child Won't Eat!: How to Enjoy Mealtimes Without Worry

Speaking of eating, this is a book I think everyone who knows a child should read.  I think the best time to read this one is about two months before a parent is ready to introduce solid food.  If you're following the American Academy of Pediatrics's guidelines, that would be around the age of four months.  This is the one that has given me a sense of peace at the table.

Eat Healthy, Feel Great

This one was recommended to us by the surgeon who delivered our JayBird.  The Girl loves it and wants us to read every page, even the ones about hydrogenated oils and artificial colors and flavors.  Honestly, The Papa and I need to read it as much as she does.  You won't find any information about the USDA food pyramid in this book, but you will find a very simple way of explaining food values to children that they (and you!) will understand and remember.  Just be prepared that your preschooler might stop a shopper in the grocery store and, after inspecting her cart, begin to explain "red light" and "green light" foods.

I think vaccines are a hot topic right now and one of the toughest decisions parents have to make.  I found this book to be very objective, offering information about each vaccine as well as the diseases they were developed to prevent.  I found it so objective, in fact, that I was angry and confused when I finished it.  I realized I was just looking for something to support my position, and this didn't do it.  What it did do was force me to really consider my position.

Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing: How Natural Mothering Spaces Babies

I know this looks like another breastfeeding book, and I suppose it is, but I think even women who do not breastfeed might find value in this book.  This is the one that "gave me permission" to want to be with my babies in a culture that told me I needed to get away from them.  It explained how the mother/baby bond works physiologically.  The breastfeeding part of this book explains how breastfeeding works to "naturally space" children.  Bet you never would have guessed that, huh?  When you're reading this one, remember that it was published in 1974.  It's cute.

How To Raise a Healthy Child in Spite of Your Doctor

Dr. Mendelsohn was a mainstream pediatrician who began to feel he was doing more harm than good by following the conventional standard of care.  He wrote this book which covers the most common childhood ailments and gives specific advice on how to treat them.  Published in 1988, this is another oldie but goodie.  I don't want to be a spoiler, but I will tell you that before I had children, I would have seriously scoffed at anyone who suggested that a small dose of liquor would be an acceptable solution to childhood ailments.  I am not saying that I've given my children liquor (unless you count the vanilla extract The Girl has come to love in her chocolate milk).  I am just saying that, now that I have children, the idea isn't so horrendous.

I have a feeling I'm going to need to add to this list.  Let me know if you have some favorites about sibling rivalry.  I like to be prepared.

So far, so good though!