Welcome to my digital writing journal, or mydigitalclutter. What started as a family blog almost two years ago has morphed into my writing therapy. This is where I do a lot of free writing, mostly about my life with my family and the things that catch my interest. While nowhere even close to perfect, in each post I like to see how my writing is changing with time and practice. Most posts are left unedited for this reason, so if you don't mind, take the journey with me.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Cloudy with a Chance of Reading

There is snow dusting the mountains outside my window today.  Because of the stark contrast of white against the vibrantly colored leaves, I am reminded how quickly the seasons come and go.  The clouds are hanging low and dense, maneuvering the milky substance over the canyons and hills.  The rain pelting the glass reminds me exactly what I want to do today….curl up in a blanket, on the couch and drink hot chocolate with a good book.

From the time I was a small child, in Washington State, I’ve always associated a rainy day as something that necessitates a good book and some peace and quiet.  Because the number of rainy days usually outnumbered the fair weather kind, I felt the need to read, a lot.  I’ve always loved to read, and a trip to the library was nigh paradise on earth for me.  A bookstore where books are unopened and smell of the bindery is something that makes me swoon to this day.  Just ask my family about the joy that a trip to Barnes and Noble can bring me.  We seldom leave without some sort of purchase.

People are walking by, holding cups with Starbucks emblazoned on the side, and the rising steam is evident, even at my distance.  I suddenly have visions of hot cocoa with large marshmallows melting into swirls of creamy white decadence.  I want to dip my finger and pull up a dob of sticky, gooey, sugary joy, pop it in my mouth and close my eyes in pleasure.  The aroma is tantalizing.

I’m taking a few days off of work to play with my kids and just have a generally fun weekend; they are out of school so this is a perfect time to laugh, run, and be crazy.  Part of me really wants to snuggle up and read.  Oh, we could all huddle under a blanket and read respectively, but I doubt that would work as Nigel is still in a learning phase and Abbie isn’t a fan of reading like I am.  How did she get so many of my traits, but not this one?

Books and rain.  They go together like peanut butter and chocolate, a delicious combination that is comfort food for the body and soul.
*Thanks to Google for the image*

What are your rainy day activities? 

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hard Headed Catastrophes

Yesterday, I received a call from a number that makes a mother’s blood run cold and sweat bead on the forehead, just by looking at the number.  It was the dreaded Elementary School.  Nothing good comes from a phone call in the middle of the day from an elementary school.  I’ve determined that it either means your child is misbehaving, to the point that they are uncontrollable, or they are dying.  See, nothing good.  Imagine what was running through my mind yesterday as I reached for the phone….Nigel, lying in a pool of his own blood, body broken and awkwardly positioned on the playground, playground duty volunteers meandering slowly as they debate whether or not to call me…he generally doesn’t act out at school.  I was pretty upset when I heard the school secretary tell me that he had bumped his head and needed to go home, because you can’t be too careful with head wounds.

Head wounds.  Really?  I’m pretty calm usually when it comes to the catastrophes that involve Nigel.  I didn’t freak out when at 8 months old he crawled around, found a can of oil based, rust resistant black paint, opened it and played in it; nor did I freak out when at age three he climbed to the top of my refrigerator, using the handles and leverage, although I was shaking and crying inside.   I was nervous driving to the school, but figured that they were exaggerating the problem, much like they have done in the past.  Isn’t that a bit contradictory to my statement about reasons they call?  Welcome to my Elementary School.  Yeah, they are like that.

Picking up Nigel from school was a shock.  My child was deformed.  He had a goose egg about the size of a golf ball protruding from the left side of his forehead.  He was quite and subdued, another worrisome sign.  We went home, iced the bump and watched cartoon movies all afternoon.  I could tell his head hurt, because he didn’t mind taking some pain medicine and he was happy to lie on the couch and vegetate to the sounds of Peter Pan and Toy Story 2.

Here comes the shocker, literally.  So I decided to be a good mommy and bake cookies.  The boy needed a treat for being so brave.  While I was doing that, Nigel ventured into his room to play.  The pain medication was working and he was ready for some Lego time.  A few minutes later, he came into the kitchen, shaking like a leaf.  The kid had decided to do a little arc welding with the nightlight, his sister’s metal bracelet and the wall socket.  Yeah, that went over really well.  He was certain that he hadn’t been shocked, but did admit to being “bitten” while doing this.  Yep, he tripped the circuit and I am now certain the kid has a death wish.  First a good bump on the noggin and then a little electrical shock treatment.  Really….I’m not sure my heart can take all the mommy-stress.

So, my kid is one of cutest things I’ve ever seen.  He can snuggle and kiss me, make me laugh my hind end off, say the darndest things, and still give me heart palpitations.  He brings an enormous amount of hilarity and love to my life, and now I wish I had a picture, much like the black paint, to blackmail him with when he turns 18…because really, isn’t that what a mother lives for?  The chance to get even for all the heart attacks her son causes?  It’s the only thing that is getting me through this particular incident!
*Thanks to Google for the image*

Friday, September 25, 2009

Flying Fists

The sobs I heard from the receiver on my phone portrayed the desperation of my daughter as well as her frustration with her younger brother.  I could feel the anxiety in her voice wash over me and suddenly I was transported to that older sister situation again, with younger brothers who were not acting the way they ought.

Shoes.  They are the bane of my existence when it comes to my second born.  He has a certain fascination with having them be exactly right, and in a certain way, or he melts down.  Today was mismatched shoe day, and he was having trauma over what shoe to pick to offset the green camouflage lace up tennis shoe he usually wears.  My daughter on the other hand is trying so hard to be the responsible older sister, with sage advice and the voice of experience, telling him to try the sandal, because it will look cool.  Tell that to an emotionally distraught boy and bring on the fireworks.

“Don’t tell me what to do! I can do it myself!” is the cry that is heard up and down the neighborhood.  I’m sure the dog next door started wailing along with the whine that was being served up.  “Get your shoes on!” was the bossy reply.  Of course, I get the telephone call with the sobs and the “We are going to be late for school!” cry.  Oh the drama.

The shrill referee whistle I have around my neck is blown more often than I would like with my dear sweet angels.  With just two, you would think the arguments wouldn’t be as loud or as physical, but they are.  I’m sure that my patience is worn to the nub on more days than I can count, but we march on anyway.

My brothers and I fought, a lot.  There are only 19 months between my younger brother Pete and myself.  I was still super bossy and the one who thought she knew everything.  Because I did!  No?  Well, I felt like it at age 10.  My dear brothers certainly had to put up with a lot from me, as I did with them, but I feel like we turned out okay and are pretty close considering all the fighting.  We hang out with Pete and his family, and although my youngest brother, Dave, lives far away, we love it when he comes to visit.  Will my two cherubs have similar experiences when they are grown?  Will they eventually grow to like each other?

Something I see reflected from my own childhood into my own children’s behavior is it is fine to fight with each other, but heaven forbid anyone try to do it to the other one.  They are extremely fierce in standing up for each other, even to me, and very loyal.  Is that they key?  Does that mean that they will like each other someday?

I’ve decided that I have unrealistic expectations, because my kids are kids; they aren’t miniature adults that have conflict resolution experience and training.  The oldest is always going to be bossy, (‘cause I still am, just ask my brothers!) and the youngest is still going to balk at what the oldest is trying to do.  They will learn great ways to compromise, even though they don’t realize it, and be experts when they are older.

There is some peace in knowing that they were happy when walking to school today.  A friend watched them from her porch (thanks Delaney) and saw them wave as they made their way past her house.  The fight was short lived, and resolved rather quickly, if that is any indication. 

Did you fight with siblings as a child? How do you deal with fighting children?
*Thanks for the image, Google!*

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Today's Post...Total Failure

We’ve all had that feeling, where our breath catches and then, spiraling downward, our stomach drops to our ankles and we know the truth.  It’s gone.  Photos, words, hard work, all encompassed into micro pieces of data, suddenly thrust into realm of unknown.  Something that was there, just mere moments ago, suddenly disappears right before our eyes.

I lost the data on my external hard drive.  Yes, it’s gone, and unrecoverable.  It failed.  Daniel tried, taking it to work and putting it through all the methods he could think of, and to no avail.  Gone are the digital scrapbooking supplies, some photos (although I lucked out with iPhoto not deleting them) and some of my writing.  Needless to say, for a moment, I lost all my senses and became completely numb.

Today, I am surprisingly calm about it.  I didn’t lose the memories that are associated with the pictures; my stash of supplies can be replaced; life will go on.  I can take more pictures; buy more supplies; and write something that may or may not be more brilliant that what I had before.  It is a chance to start fresh and look around at the digital clutter (pun totally intended) that I’m holding onto and start with a new perspective.

I need to de-clutter a lot of things in my life…my bedroom closet, the garage, the stash of dvds, books, the storage room.  There is so much ‘stuff’ that creeps into the peripheral vision of my life I ignore, mostly for convenience sake rather than blindness.  I need to eliminate useless activities, like staring at the box of other people’s ideas, otherwise known as the television.  I have found that I’m doing it a little more than I should, or even like to.  I’m not a huge fan, but I’ve entered the habit of letting someone else do the thinking for me, and I don’t like that.  Oh, it is fun occasionally to sit with a bowl of popcorn and cheer on the witty antics of a fun sitcom, or get completely involved in the crime drama of the season, but wouldn’t my time be better spent creating those stories myself?

Do you hang onto clutter?  I do.  I seriously think that there is a gene in some of us that is predisposed to horde things.  I swear it comes from knowing someone that lived through lean times, i.e. The Great Depression.  When my grandmother moved in with my parents and we cleaned out her house, we found jars of twine, rubber bands, bread sacks, and fruit that was over 25 years old, still in the glass jars she bottled it in.  While I laughed and shook my head, I had to wonder what I was holding onto that my children will shake their head at when it comes my time to clear out the clutter.

I remember hearing someone say that we are selfish when we horde things.  I never really understood that, until I thought about all the people in the world that can benefit from the clothes in my closet that I’m holding onto until I can fit into them again, or the perfectly usable bag that I keep because it’s perfectly usable, but I never use.  I love shoes.  But why keep a pair that I’ve stopped wearing?  I am sure there is someone in the world that would love my pink, taupe and lime green mules that I don’t have anything to wear with anymore.  Size 6 ½ if anyone is interested….
*Thanks to Google for the image*

What ideas do you have to de-clutter life?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Crescendo of Life

I love music.  To be honest, I usually can’t function unless there is something playing in the background.  Television noise does not work for me in the least, so don’t even suggest it.  Music on the other hand, is soothing, and will usually garner the results I’m looking for if I pair it up appropriately for the task in front of me.

When I’m cleaning, I better have something upbeat, and generally fast.  No mellow jazz for me.  If it isn’t the right tempo, I will slow down and eventually fall off the wagon, not completing anything I had to do.  The dishes still remain in the sink and mounds of laundry will encroach the dining room table as they sit on the floor of the laundry room.  Writing or working, mellow music does me well.  Some days, a little jazz, or perhaps some Natalie Merchant will keep me going and focused on what I need to accomplish, especially if I’m working with spreadsheets and inane data.  Now, if I’m upset, or in a grouchy mood, the loud, crashing, hard metal of Poison or Queen may make me feel a little better or at least justified in my sour attitude.

I have eclectic tastes.  My iPod is filled with music from Abba to Ziggy Marley.  Literally.  I have classical, country, rock, pop, and even a soundtrack or two.  Music from before I was born, to songs debuted today.

I wish I were musically inclined.  Really, I do.  I may have hated practicing the piano when I was younger, but at least I’m partially competent to play in Relief Society these days.  Who knew that my parents would be right when they told me someday I would appreciate all the practice time I put in?  I do.  That doesn’t mean I’m talented.  When I say talented, I’m talking about the truly gifted individuals that can pull a melody from inside their soul and have it expressed through the flying fingers along the ivory keys.  Or those musicians who add flourish to the printed notes, giving the song their definite style, almost like a fingerprint.  I knew a woman like that once…we always asked her to play “Called to Serve” because she did it with aplomb and finesse, not to mention a great deal of flourish.  I eked out the melody as written, and missed quite a few notes when I was ‘called’ to play.  I never measured up to her ability, although I did secretly wish I had just an ounce of her genius.

I’ve played a variety of instruments in my time, piano, flute, clarinet, and even a short foray with the tenor saxophone.  Oh, I sat first chair for a time while in high school when I played in the band, but that was short lived when I found I would rather spend my time writing rather than in rehearsals and marching practice.   I didn’t have the natural talent that some did.  I could technically do well, but the passion wasn’t there, much to my dismay.  I loved the concept of being a virtuoso, but couldn’t deliver the goods.  Music wasn’t my calling.

I am glad for the exposure I’ve had to music though.  I enjoy the technically pleasing aspects of a concerto, the movements weaving in and out of the senses.  My fingers will move in time with the beat, and I almost catch myself playing along.  I enjoy the joy of attending a concert at the theater as well as creating a playlist on my digital music player.  I love to wash myself in the ebb and flow of the vocal musings of Madeline Peyroux, feel the waves of percussion from Bon Jovi, and loosen my grasp on reality in the chords of Pachebal’s Cannon in D.  I hold dear some classics from my roots in Johnny Cash, George Strait, and a song that always makes me cry from Chris LeDoux. I’m as eclectic as my music, for there is something for every mood, every attitude, and every job.  I find that even as I write, I have to have something in the background, spurring me on.  Today?  I’m listening to a little Loreena McKinnett, Faith Hill, and some Abba.  Do you find it strange?  I’m sure it is to some, but for me, that is just the regular playlist for a day like today.
*Thanks to Google for the image*

What are you listening to today?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Tick Tock

Tonight we are attending the “Life’s Too Damn Short” party, put together by a couple of friends of Daniel’s.  Truth be told, they were more friends of Daniel’s brother who passed away, but nevertheless, we are attending, kids too, because life is short.

I like the premise that “Life is too short” for missing out on the important things of family, friends, and love.  We don’t know how long our time is on this earth; we may live 109 years, or leave tomorrow.  The fact is we need to live and celebrate life right now.  This is not an “eat, drink, and be merry” post, but just a reminder to myself to enjoy and celebrate the little things that matter to me.

Life is too short to miss the enjoyment of watching the sun creep over the tip of the mountain, rays of light piercing the iron gray dawn.  It is too short to walk along the side of the duck pond and miss the elegant dance of the geese, the majestic gliding of the swans.

We are ever reminded of how fast time speeds by, no respecter of persons or situation by looking at our children and how fast they sprout up in height and precociousness.   Every mother has that moment, looking at their child, and sees that vast difference in not only physical appearance, but in character as well, and her breath catches with tears at the edge of falling.  It may be at the wedding day of a beloved daughter, or the college graduation of a son.  It may be the entrance to kindergarten, or the first steps taken.  In fact, mothers probably have that moment many times over.  I know in my short time as a mother, I have.

What about my relationships with those I have loved and hurt?  I remember the fights with friends in grade school, and how my world ended with venomous insults hurled at each other.  What about the friends that time and distance have caused the relationship to fade into acquaintance status?  Would I do something differently were I to know my life was ending tomorrow?  Would I mend fences?  Would I let bygones be bygones?

Life is short.  It was meant to be that way, and I don’t want to waste a minute of it today.  I want to run barefoot in the grass, fly a kite on the breeze.  I want to kiss my children’s cheeks, flushed with sleep and pleasant dreams.  I want to hold my husband’s hand, laying side by side, looking at the stars.  How about a roller coaster ride, adrenaline pumping through my veins, to verify I’m alive and kicking?  Why don’t I sit on a grassy knoll, face tilted to the sun, and let the warmth ignite the fire within?
*Thanks Google, for the image.*

What are you going to do today, to remind yourself that “Life is Short”?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Mommy Meltdowns

Yesterday I had a “mommy meltdown” where I questioned my ability to mother my children with any sense of accomplishment or skill.  I totally sucked as a mom.  How do I know this?  I sent my children to school, not knowing it was picture day. (In my defense, I did think picture day was next week, but that didn’t cut their hair or put cute outfits on my children!)  Abbie called me from school in tears because I didn’t have the order forms for them.  Yep, I totally rock! (Heavy sarcasm inflection here.) Here is my rant regarding school pictures:
  1.   They are extremely expensive for what you get.  Hello!  I really need a package of just an 8x10 and a couple of 5x7’s for the grandparents, so why do I have to buy the $26 plus package to get that and a bunch of stuff I don’t need/want!
  2. The quality isn’t so great.  I’m a fan of spontaneous, candid portraiture, not the cheesy smiles my children make when coaxed by a school photographer.
  3. Old Navy Flag T’s and camo pants.  Enough said.
So, because Daniel  ‘guilted’ me into purchasing a package of the pictures so my children will see the progression from kindergarten onward, I ran to the school, wet hair and all to drop off the order forms for expensive pictures where my children will look like ragamuffins.  Yep, a great mommy moment right there, for everyone to see.  There is a picture re-take day…right?

I’m sure everyone has days where they feel sorry for themselves, doubt their worth, and just can’t seem to find the light at the end of the tunnel.   Really, if you haven’t had a day like that, you are lying to yourself!  How does one cope?  What are the techniques of dealing with it?  My skill set included a large Diet Dr. Pepper and some Ghirardelli chocolate.  I “rocked out” and cleaned the living room.  I didn’t write a single word in my notebook.  I festered, and I moped, kind of.  I closed my mind to the chaos, and didn’t worry about anything but the moment.

Guess what…..I feel better today!  I have a new outlook and sense of direction.  Perhaps that is what I needed to get back on track, to sit and read with my kids, snuggle them a little closer, and not focus on EVERYTHING that is pulling me in so many directions.  I can only eat the elephant, one bite at a time, and honestly, I’ll only get frustrated if I try to devour it whole.

Why do we have this burning desire to be perfect?  IT ISN’T POSSIBLE IN THIS LIFE!!!!  Why can’t I remember that?  Oh, I can be perfect at a few things, (though the thought escapes me for what specifically), but it really isn’t possible to be perfect at everything.

Mommy meltdowns are okay.  They make me sit back and re-evaluate where my priorities are and what I need to be working on.  I can’t let the “stuff” of life get in the way of what is really important…my family.
*Thanks to Google for the image.*

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And there is hope....

Usually I like my words to paint the picture, but today I'm feeling pretty low.  I thought this picture I took the other day kind of shows what I hope will be at the end of my day...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Autumnal Musings

This morning, autumn started her foray into the world where I live.  The air was crisp, the sky overcast, and a breeze flirted with my summer skirt.  I have mixed emotions with the changing of the seasons.  I look forward to the days where rain and fallen leaves mix in the gutter, causing enormous puddles of water, calling to my children and the nights where chili and homemade bread are on the menu. I also see the ending of summer’s carefree and lawless antics.  Of course, the structure is a bane and a blessing to my existence, hence my mixed emotions.

The sky has become more and more dark, and I can hear the thunder in the distance over my soft Norah Jones playing in the background.  It’s an appropriate choice for such a mellow, rainy day.  The clouds are reminiscent of a charcoal colored pair of trousers I once wore.  They were soft and comfortable, and so I tend to look at the storm that way….as long as I’m inside.

I enjoy the days where a cozy sweater and argyle socks, worn with penny loafers, are the uniform I prefer.  Yes, you can tell my age from that statement, but none the less, I still dream of the chic cable knits of my youth.  Now I look forward to days when a good book, sits open on my lap, as the rain pelts the glass of my sliding glass door and the blanket I’ve had since I was just a little girl covers my legs.  The smell of a heater, long dormant, roaring to life, with its mustiness blowing into the room, brings a smile to my face.  Fall is coming and she is making her presence known on so many levels.

There are times when I like to watch the storm fronts move across the valley, where a little to the north, there is a patch of blue, while to the south, the sky is an inky black, with an eerie light.  I love the smell of rain, as it hits the dry dust of summer, almost washing it away and into the new season.  If I’m lucky, a lightening show will streak across the black, almost as if it is trying to capture the essence of the world in a picture with its flash.  For a brief moment, all is illuminated, the good and the bad, and then, darkness quickly overcomes, shielding what, for a split second was stark reality.

I enjoy the feeling of tights on my bare legs, nicely opaque, covering a multitude of sins as well as the black boots, coming out of the abyss known as my closet, to see the light after the hiatus of summer.  Apple cider, glazed doughnuts, and pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, seem to only herald the return of autumn with a finality that trick or treat candy and aisles of Halloween costumes can’t.  A trip up the canyon turns into an explosion of color.  A vibrant show of nature’s way with a paintbrush greets the senses, and I welcome her with open arms and open heart.

What are your favorite things about autumn?
*Thanks to Google for the image....*

Saturday, September 12, 2009

People Watching...a Voyeuristic Pleasure

Have you ever seen this person? You know the one I’m talking about. She is standing across the room from you. You’ve never met her, but you just know……Everything about them screams. From the big hair, loud clothes, tacky jewelry, and super long fingernails, it’s clearly apparent. She is LOUD. No, she hasn’t started talking yet, but the feeling doesn’t escape you as her aura or essence washes towards you in waves and you are in for an obnoxious, ear drum bursting ride.

Today this person was running around my building. She was hurting the eyes as well as the ear drums, but, all I could think about was how I could use her as a character somewhere, someday. I mentally drew a picture of her, gave her name and occupation. Oh, I know it wasn’t the most flattering image, and I profusely apologize, because I’m sure that she is a genuinely nice person in real life. That being said, I still couldn’t wait to put her in a situation, where she is gum smacking, standing with one hip thrust out, yelling into a micro-mini cell phone, that is swallowed up in the massive perm curls surrounding her head. I know you are wondering if her hair is that skunk motif with the roots all dark and the ends fried from too many attempts to bleach and perm said mop, but amazingly no. Her hair was a normal color that seemed to belie the rest of her appearance. So, perhaps for my own benefit as well as hers, I will not make her into the stereotypical, big busted, blonde airhead, because she's smart….and LOUD!
I love to people watch. I come up with stories or situations for those that I see, and sometimes the characteristic that I love about them, that makes them bigger than life, or noticeable makes its way into something I’m weaving together in my head. I usually don’t know where I would even begin to use this person, but still the same, I jot notes in my notebook, trying to capture the essence of who they are, to me, and continue mulling over the general plot line I want to put on paper.
There are days where I wish that I could draw and be able to do justice to the look that I’m afraid my words don’t do. Then I have to remind myself that is what I love about reading. I take what the author has written and make it my own. I envision a very different look to Hogwarts from the Harry Potter books than any of the movies portray, and Colin Firth does not do justice to my own Mr. Darcy, although, to be honest, he comes mightily close! (Hence the picture, with my post, a little eye candy for a few of us.) Perhaps that is why so many people prefer the book to the movie….they create the scene in their head with the words the author has given them. I wonder if my words about the LOUD creature in my building gave you the image that is in my head. I doubt it. I’m sure that yours was much more creative and fun to look at than mine.
Someday I hope to have a place for all these crazy characters that have made their home in my head and notebook. I hope to give them the freedom to do all those things that I’ve been too scared to do in my life, or make them into something I’d like to be, but don’t quite have it together to make it successful. Or perhaps they will remain story fodder that may come into play with a story I leave for no one but my children. Or maybe, if I’m really lucky, I’ll write a book….and their story, along with mine will be told.
*Thanks, Google for the image of the delectable Mr. Darcy!*

Friday, September 11, 2009

Where were you???

Where were you?  I remember that I was sitting in the rocking chair of my parent's basement, watching the morning news with my daughter on my lap.  I had no idea that the world as we all knew it would change in just a matter of moments.  A previous bishop of mine lost his mother and sister on the second plane.  I was amazed at how close it was to someone I knew.

Are the flags flying in your yard?  They are in mine.  There are black balloons lining the walkways of campus today, yet I'm not so sure that there is a somber tone here.  Life is still moving on, and things must still be accomplished.

What makes today an even more surreal experience is the interview my husband has with C.I.D. in regards to his brother's death.  His parents and two sisters spent five hours with them yesterday......we'll see if he will be able to accomplish anything else today after something like that.

So, may we all take a moment and think of those that have lost their lives, those that fight for freedom, and be ever grateful for what we have.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Old as Dirt

I think I’m getting old.  In fact, I know I am.  Today I’ve watched the many students file past my office window, making their way from one building to another, bags slung across their shoulders and skinny jeans paired with flip flops and tunic shirts that look very reminiscent to the ones I wore in high school.  What I find so interesting is that almost every single person walking along is either on a cell phone or has ear buds dangling from their ears, tethered to an iPod or anther such device.  Very few are walking with their heads up, most looking down at their feet, almost like they can’t bear to connect with another human being.

I wonder why so many of these people would rather gaze at the sidewalk instead of holding up their heads, walking confidently forward.  Is that a sign of what this generation holds in store for us?  Are they missing out on the social interactions that can come their way?  It seems to be just one more wall to shun the society of others.  Heaven forbid they should smile and say hello.

That is why I am old.  I don’t understand the need for skinny jeans, because who would look good in a pair of jeans like that at my age?  I don’t understand the constant connectivity.  Even though I am a digital fanatic, and love my devices, I also realize how the real world can get shut out.   I don’t understand the loss of human connection.  With so many avenues, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, e-mail, texting, we should be more connected to those around us, right?

What about the lost art of handwriting a note?  I saw an article in a magazine yesterday that touted the virtues of a well made stationary and fountain pens.  Have I gone so far down the path of digital madness that I wouldn’t be able to pen a letter to a friend or loved one?  I do enjoy spending time at the Moleskine stand in Barnes and Noble, so I can’t be all that far gone can I?  One is always in my purse, right next to my iPhone.

Why am I old?  I guess I’m starting to sound like my mother.   I often start a conversation with my children, “When I was your age…” I hated when my mother did that.  If anything, I’ve begun to appreciate those words of wisdom and the nostalgia that she provided for me during my own youth.  I will continue to think about the events that changed the world during young life, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Space Shuttle falling from the sky, and the invention of the World Wide Web (which is funny story in and of itself.)  I realize that most of the students walking outside my window never lived in a home where a microwave wasn’t always sitting on the counter, or had a car that took gas that was “regular” versus “unleaded”.    I look at my own children and they will never experience doing a research paper without the help of the internet or use a typewriter to finish it off.

So today I will feel old, and that is okay.  I am entering into a new period in my life, where I will be the eccentric one that shakes her head at the skinny jeans and secretly wish she had the body to pull it off.
*Thanks Google, for the image*

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Coming out of the Dark

It’s a story I haven’t really told, one that not many people know about. It isn’t like I wear a badge on my chest or a ribbon to show support for a cause close to my heart. Those like me suffer in silence, our faces shielding the pain that has run deep in our hearts.

In ways, I like the term ‘miscarriage’. It evokes the image of a wrongful action, the life cut short, before it even has a chance to begin. Of course, the many reasons for the loss of a baby have been well documented medically, but not one, not even the most graphic and worst case scenario situations eases the pain.

When Daniel and I first married, my idea was to wait a year before we attempted to have children. We were both in school, and I was extremely close to having my degree. With that goal within reach, I didn’t want to jeopardize that opportunity to see it to completion. Looking back, I see that it may have been somewhat selfish to think that I could control the situation like that. But I realize now, that while it works for some to wait, it wasn’t in the cards for me. After about a month of marriage I had these very, very strong promptings that I should revisit my desire to wait to have a baby and start trying right away. Daniel and I talked about this desire and prompting and while he had supported my desire to wait, he was more than thrilled with the idea we start trying right away. He had felt that we should be trying for a baby right away. It was a spiritual experience for me and I knew without a doubt that things would work out for me to finish school and still follow the inspiration I had been given. One month later, I was pregnant and filled with joy and longing for my baby.

My first miscarriage took place at a wedding. I’m sure that somewhere that can be seen as a bad omen. We were only seven to eight weeks into this pregnancy, but enough to know that it made a huge impact on my body. Never nauseous, but constantly running to the restroom was my biggest indication of the change going on inside me. It started as something light, a bit of spotting. By evening, it was in full swing and I was scared. The news there, was not good, although the nurses tried to console me with talk of losing a twin, and that I could still have a baby. The blood work came back as the final nail in the coffin of my dream. I was indeed losing the life inside of me. I sobbed.

The next few months were difficult to say the least. A doctor’s visit where the nurse brushed off the experience as “normal” and nature’s way of dealing with “bad DNA” wasn’t as consoling as perhaps it was intended. I grieved silently, and occasionally with someone close to me. I don’t know if I have recovered from it to this day. My mother had never had a miscarriage and didn’t understand, although her heart broke for me being in pain. Her arms were never far away and her tears flowed with mine. My mother in law had lost a child at four or five months, carried cradled in her womb for some time before her body rejected it. She wept with me too, for her own experience as well as mine.

I did get to a point where the tears didn’t shed as easily and I was able to function. Imagine my joy when I found myself pregnant, a year later, after graduating from college. I was estatic, thinking that the odds were in my favor, not many women had multiple miscarriages. I was thrilled when I made it past the ten week mark, almost breathing a sigh of relief. Just mere days before my first appointment at 13 weeks, I started spotting. Rushing to the office, and meeting Daniel there, we faced the horrific reality of no heartbeat. A procedure was scheduled to “take care” of the problem, and I went home numb and unfocused. A week later I went into labor. I didn’t know it at the time, but as the waves of pain washed over me, and I lay on the couch, alone, my heart was ripped from my chest. I remember biting my hand until it bruised, trying to stop the shaking and stem the flood of tears.

A few months later, another positive pregnancy test was taken with much reservation. There was no joy, or anticipation. A lead weight rested on my chest and I wasn’t ready for the disappointment that came just mere weeks after my discovery. I would sit on the floor of the shower and cry until the water ran cold.

Another attempt ended before it began. I remember my mother asking me why I was running to the bathroom so often. She thought I should see someone. My throat almost closed up as I told her that I knew perfectly well why I was running to and from the bathroom, but there was no hope, and calling the doctor wouldn’t matter. It was over….I now knew the signs. I could see the tears in her eyes and I knew her heart ached for me, much like my own ached for the child that would not be.

By now, I wasn’t sure if my heart would ever recover from the pain and loss. My arms were empty, they ached. I wanted to hold my child, to look on the gift from God that was so precious. I was angry. I yelled, I cried, and I prayed. I wasn’t comforted, although the comfort was there for my taking if I had only recognized it. I sat behind a dark curtain, unwilling to see the sunlight on the other side.

My next pregnancy was difficult to deal with, as were all the others. I remember being about seven or eight weeks and calling the new doctor I had to see due to changes in insurance and telling them I was bleeding. They told me they could get me in six weeks later, and asked if morning or afternoon was more convenient. I think I hung up the phone before answering and sinking to the floor. I rocked back and forth, lost to think that I knew my baby wouldn’t be there in six weeks. It was leaving now.

I remember that I almost watched myself from a distance. It was almost if someone else were moving me and making me pick up the phone to call my mother. I don’t remember what I said, or even what she said for that matter. I was still a million miles away, where shields were laying shattered on the ground and a small heart writhed in pain. I know now that the Lord took over then. Perhaps He knew I had been through enough and it was time for me to find the answers I needed.

Five times...Five times I grieved, and with each new loss, it ripped the scab open that had formed over my heart. The gouges were deeper with each baby that I lost. Five times I cried, and often cried alone because my husband didn’t know what to do for me. He grieved in his own way, because his loss was just a real as mine, but we didn’t quite see it that way at the time. Too many times, I would hear the well intentioned words “It’s for the best”, or for those who had no idea of our trials, “When are you going to have a baby?” and it would cause a sharp pain to shoot from my chest to my soul.

Perhaps there are some who say that losing a baby shouldn’t affect me the way it did. I wasn’t very far along, and it really wasn’t “real”. Oh how I beg to differ. You just don’t know until you have been there! I suppose that twelve years later, and with the joy of two blessed children in my life, the pain would have gone away, but it hasn’t. I don’t think it ever really does. It may dull to an ache that sits at the back of your soul, handled but still there.

I’m sure that my story isn’t necessarily unique in the fact I lost a number of babies. Nor am I alone in my grief and sense of loss, because others have lost as well. Perhaps I don’t like to dwell on what I have been through because I have been blessed with children now. As I said, the Lord had his hand in the birth of my two children. It wasn’t easy getting them here, and I don’t regret the journey one bit. I suppose the fact that I experienced pain has made the sheer fact that I became a mother all the more sweet and satisfying.

I don’t share my story often. Occasionally, I will whisper it to a mother who has lost her child, to let her know we are kindred souls….I have lost too and know her grief. But mostly I hold it in, next to my heart, the only way I can cocoon my lost ones because they didn’t have a chance to be held in my arms. What good does it do to hide my story anymore? Maybe I was afraid of the judgment or the pity that was sure to come my way. I’m sure I didn’t handle myself with aplomb and dignity and my husband saw far more swollen red noses and puffy eyes than he thought he had signed up for. I argued with the Lord and was angry for a long time. This doesn’t bode well when sharing what I feel was one of the darkest moments in my life. There isn’t anything especially inspiring, or a lesson learned to tie up nicely in a pretty bow.

The fact is, twelve long wonderful years later, I still grieve. It’s okay. The fact is never going to change that I was pregnant seven times. The fact is never going to change that of those seven, only two made it to birth and beyond; and it isn’t going to change that one of the biggest fears in my life is going through that anguish again. But I have been blessed, and so will those mothers going through similar things. I came out of the dark, with a purer appreciation of the light; light which is bright and healing. They will too.

*Thanks Google, for the image!*

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Life is Sweet

Last night I had the AMAZING opportunity to visit my dear friends the Nefs. If you want to know a little about what they are going through right now, see my sidebar with a link to one of their blogs. They are an amazing family and we are lucky to live just two doors away from them!

Last week, they welcomed their little bundle of joy, Will, to the world. He is so small, currently weighing in at his birth weight of 4 lbs, 14 oz. I got to hold this miracle for a little while and marvel at the perfection of God’s creations. Although extremely small, his hands, nose, and lips made me stand in awe of the grace and utter glory of birth and life. His face would contort into a plethora of expressions, furrowing his little brow, looking like his dad, just in miniature. This small angel was cocooned in the love of his family as his older sisters showed him off with pride bursting in their little chests. I was humbled to witness and be a part of this familial bond, and to know that in some small way, we get to participate in the celebration of this miracle birth.

The juxtaposition of this event and that of the death in our family recently was enough to bring the heavy topic of mortality to my mind and the gift that is life itself. On the one hand, a life, almost ended before it began, but hanging on, for the very fact that life is worth living. On the other, one cut short, far earlier than anyone could imagine, but lived none the less.

I wondered as I held Will, his very tiny frame, cradled in just one of my arms, what type of fight he would have in this life. Would he struggle just to live, struggle with health like his sister, or would he defy everything and everyone by being a tough little guy and surpass the odds? I looked at my own children, now so much older and bigger and the same thoughts passed through my mind. We have been so lucky up to this point. What are they going to see, and what are they going to face? I know that they too are cocooned in a bond of love from my husband, me, extended family, and friends. It will cushion some of the hardest blows that will strike against them.

My heart was happy last night as we walked home, just two doors away. My kids skipped, jumped and ran in front of me and their laughter was a boon. The bickering didn’t bother me as they competed for the coveted position of first for evening baths. Sweet smelling, freshly washed, kissing them goodnight was a salve for any wounds that were real or imaginary. I was lucky and knew it. Sometimes, it just takes a little moment like holding a tiny baby to make one slow down and realize just how good it is in life. It reminded me of my own blessings in my children; the trials and sacrifices to get them here. (That is another post entirely.) Time moves so fast. They were once small, cradled in my arms, now running crazily and shouting at the tops of their lungs. Life is sweet.
*Thanks to Google for the image*
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