Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Pushing Past Perfect

We are about to embark on our six-month-long road trip, and I'm freaking out over here. Nothing is perfect yet. I haven't started the new blog I wanted to document the journey. I can't think of the just-right words to start it, or the brilliant title to name it. I have 5 different possible routes mapped and they are always changing. I haven't confirmed reservations anywhere, since we haven't solidified the route. I haven't even figured out which mail forwarding system we will use, and the camper is nowhere near tidy and organized for departure. Ron is still figuring out the best way to notify his clients and is still training his apprentice to help him while he is gone. All of this is true, and we leave in a matter of weeks. Weeks! 

As I mentioned, I'm freaking out over here. And this is how it goes. For us, anyway. Some families really have their shit together but the planning and organizing parts of my brain are currently broken, and since that's my role in the family ... well, there you have it.

But then I open my roadtrippers map to the latest version, and I look at the destinations we aim to visit, and I imagine our little family sitting riverside, and spending time hiking, playing outdoors, and meeting new and different people, and I relax a little. We are not completely unprepared. In fact, we have been planning for months, and have been doing our best to make every little miracle happen so we can do this. And it is! It is. I may not have narrowed down the mail forwarding service, but I have done my research and we will decide tomorrow. We have downsized our life from a moderately large home to one camper and a storage unit. Every day I replace something in the camper that won't travel well with something that will. I continue to purge belongings. Ron continues to train his apprentice. We continue to talk about the journey and make changes and argue and then maybe cry a little, but we move forward. We have taken our senior cat Eliana to vacation with my mother, who will pet and feed her while we are away. I don't have a new blog to document everything, but I have this one, at least for now. So things aren't perfect, not at all, but we are ready. We are pushing past that niggling feeling that everything must be exactly right and we are doing it. Just like I did with this post, when I wrote those first words, imperfect and unsatisfying as they were. I did it.

And here it is. And there we go.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Time Marches? Waddles? Scurries? Flies ...

Wow. Has it really been so long since I have typed letters onto a blank screen to document some aspect of my life? I must have been busy with a toddler/preschooler/work/life [insert anything/everything here]. Seriously though, the time - it does all of these things: marches, runs, scurries, rushes, ambles, waddles, putters ... flies. It really does fly. That saying -  "the days are long but the years are short,"  - it's so true.

Sophie is four now. FOUR. We have had many an adventure in those four years, and I am proud to say I have truly emphasized experiences over things. Of course, I have probably bought one too many things as well. What can I say, she is my little miracle. It's hard not to indulge every now and then. Mostly though, we have enjoyed this adventure called life. She keeps it interesting.

Speaking of interesting ... We are living in an RV now, with the goal of traveling the country for 3 - 6 months, then settling somewhere that pleases us. This may happen! This may not. We are still in a state of limbo. We have downsized considerably and are now accustomed to "tiny house living," but our future goals have many preconditions. I hope to be able to blog from the road, to document our experience there, and to truly get a taste of the wandering life.

If it doesn't happen this attempt, maybe in another soon.

If you want to visit our tumblr page, which is mostly just photos, it is here: Simple Full Life. Because naomiwashere was taken.

Let's hope it's not another 3 years before my next post ...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Yesterday evening, right around dusk, as I was readying Sophie for bed, I received the call that my dear friend Anna had passed. She was only 28. My mind swirled with memories of her.  She had a fantastic sense of humor, and most of my memories of her involve laughter. She was full of life. She had a strong, contagious spirit and a smile for everyone. She was authentic: she meant every bit of the positive words she preached. Unfortunately, she suffered in her illness. She was honest and let us see those hard parts, but she also made it easy for us, as she never stopped joking, laughing, sending out words of wisdom about leading a healthy life.  She was made of better stuff than I.

The dog was barking. I thought the mail had come, so I grabbed Sophie and walked outside. Fire trucks lined my street. Lights were flashing and Sophie was repeating “no, no, no.” I went to the mailbox and grabbed the mail and the truck in front of the box hit its horn loudly. This woke me from my trance. Hello, Naomi! The neighbor’s house was on fire.

I looked around and all up and down the street there were fire trucks and ambulances, and fire fighters were climbing the roof of the neighbor’s house, doing what they had to do to put the fire out.  There was a lot of smoke. All the neighbors on the street were outside, staring at the fire, pointing and talking, speculating about what had happened. The neighbor across the street was waving me over and asking if I was okay. I looked back at our house, and at the proximity to the fire. It was close, but we were fine.

So much loss. I remember when my friend Anna told me they had found a tumor in her leg, and it never crossed my mind that she would ultimately die from it. I thought it was a terrible, nasty thing to have to endure, but I saw a long life ahead of her. I was wrong. Last month, my two step-daughters lost their grandfather.  He went in for a surgery, and told us all he would be out in a few days. He never came back. He was not done living yet either, and now the girls are missing their grandfather, who was very involved in their life. We also lost my grandmother last month. She had lived a long, full, amazing life, and, like Anna, she made it easy for us, even though she suffered in the end as well. I am grateful she was able to meet Sophie. The world won’t be the same without her.

I believe I must have been lost in all of this and so I was unable to properly process this last unfortunate event – my neighbor’s house burning. Too surreal. When we finally went back inside, our house smelled of smoke – a smell that persists this morning and that I imagine will take some time to fade completely. But this is life – this loss and destruction and all the things that seem unjust and unfair. Our forefathers knew it better than we do today, as we live in protective bubbles, safe from the weather, predators, and in many ways, safe from truly feeling the loss of those we love. With countless distractions, there are endless ways to remove ourselves from the pain. I don’t think this is doing anything good for our species. I, for one, plan to let myself feel the pain of the loss, even as I celebrate their lives and rejoice that they lived. Our universe is missing them, I am missing them, but so long as I remember, they will remain immortal. Even if it hurts for months, weeks, years, I will feel it. I am tired of all these distractions anyway. They wear on my soul.


And this is life. Nothing is certain. Security is an illusion. Pain is real. Loss is real. Suffering is real. None of these things can be avoided. The thing that keeps us going, the thing that saves us, is that happiness, growth, gain, love … all of these are also very real, and if we are lucky, we will get an abundance of all of those things as well, which we will appreciate all the more for knowing how to hurt and suffer. 

This post may seem sad. I guess it is. But it's not all sad. These people that we lost were important and they led good lives and they will be missed and they will be remembered. And the neighbors are okay and no one was hurt. And honestly, it is okay to feel sad sometimes. It really is.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Materfamilia

This is my grandparents on their honeymoon, over seventy years ago. Five kids, eleven grandchildren, and thirteen great-grand kids later, they are in the late twilight of their life together. The sun is setting. My grandmother is dying.

This is the cycle of life, yes, but it it also marks the end of an era. My grandmother is the Materfamilia. My grandparents are the epicenter of our family, the sun of our family's universe, the heart of our family body. All family energy runs through them: the hurt, the love, the pain, the forgiveness, the growth, the gain, the loss -- everything. They have brought our large, extended family together for decades. They bear witness to every family event, no matter the magnitude. They welcome our friends and those adopted by love as members of the family. They are irreplaceable. A torch of this sort cannot be passed.

My grandmother is glorious and Godly and her sunset, like her life, is awe-inspiring. When the last light twinkles from her spirited eyes, it will not be gone forever. It will live on inside each of her kin, and in all those she has welcomed and loved with her warm embrace into the family. I know this, yet tonight I find myself unable to sleep as I wander my memories with my cherished grandparents -- all the roads we have traveled, all the ways both small and large that they have impacted my life. I send a warm blanket of love across the miles in which to wrap them both as they cross this new landscape the same way they have crossed all others -- together. As I try to find a path to sleep, I pray that I may see them one last time, so I may put my head on my grandmother's chest, listen to the heartbeat of the family, and be thankful.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sophie is herself

I can't believe how she grows. She now pulls herself up on anything and everything, clearly proud of herself. She crawls quickly and stands confidently and her laugh has been known to melt an entire household in mere seconds. She is becoming aware that she can *do* things and watching her do these things can keep me mesmerized for hours. Sometimes I look at her and just can't believe my eyes. She is my daughter. Holy crap.

When she was a newborn (or, as I like to say, when she was little) people would say she looked like me, or like Ron. I would sometimes gaze down at her and be amazed to see my tiny self, the one from pictures, gazing back. Every now and then she would give me a certain expression and I would startle at how it resembled my dad. All of this was fun, amazing, insanely beautiful, but it is changing now. These days, although it is clear she is my daughter, I must say that when I see her I do not see a mini-me or a half-Jamie or a small Ron. I see a Sophie. She is definitely herself, and I definitely love her with every molecule of my being.

She is also a miracle.

I can't say that I dreamed of having a baby since I was very little because that would be a lie. I wasn't that sort of child. I could not have cared less about future weddings or future families. I had something like universal vision and thought mostly of big picture stuff. I devoured books. I wanted to make poor people less poor and sick people well. I raged against military recruiters in rural schools. I hated Disney.

Don't get me wrong, I had important relationships and was far from a hermit, but I was not exactly mainstream either. My point is, I hadn't given much thought to marriage or children, except to say that I was pretty sure if I decided to enter the antiquated ritual of marriage I would keep my own name.

Ah, young ideals.

Anyway, then I settled down, fell in love, got married, all that wonderful stuff. My husband came with two beautiful daughters who I adopted as my own without hesitation. And we decided to have a child of our own. So we tried. And tried. And tried. Almost a decade later, I gave up. A hundred negative pregnancy tests later, I gave up. Tests, tears, hope and then much despair later, I gave up. And after I gave up, began to close that chapter and look to the next, I became pregnant.

Which proves that even when one loses hope, miracles can still happen. It's true. I watch one every morning as I sit sipping my coffee with a satisfied, grateful grin on my face and absolute wonderment that it could all be real.


Friday, April 27, 2012

April 27, 2012

Sophie is just over seven months now. If it's possible for the time to have gone simultaneously slow and fast, then it did. Seems like only yesterday or maybe years ago that she was a little larval human, basically immobile, jerky, wailing. Now she pulls herself up on anything and everything while roaring in one of her favorite baby dialects. Her two bottom front teeth are beginning to come in, but so far this doesn't seem to bother her much. She seems much more troubled by the fact that she can't yet return to a sitting or crawling position from standing. This *really* pisses her off.

I am still overwhelmed by the amount of information concerning child-rearing that exists out there for anyone even halfway interested in learning. I'm sure parents even a generation ago where not as swamped with contradictory evidence about what is best for babies and children in general. I'm not sure what is worse, following the advice of Dr. Spock, or hearing the advice of thirty such doctors, all who claim to have the answer. I still mostly follow my gut, and pick and choose out of the wealth of information that which makes the most sense to me.

Although there is a school of thought that preaches against it, we still co-sleep, and so far it is working well for us. Most days we are all as well rested as one with an infant can be. I have been exclusively breastfeeding, although now we are beginning to introduce solids (mostly sweet potatoes, carrots and other orange veggies). We sometimes use cloth diapers, sometimes disposable, depending on what activities the week holds. Disposable has been winning lately. We are doing vaccinations, even though I wonder about the sheer number of them these days. Despite that concern, the fact that she doesn't have to fear polio is pretty convincing to me about their effectiveness. I find both Waldorf and Montessori education techniques appealing, although there are some fairly big differences when it comes to reading and mathematics. I'm also considering homeschooling, but I don't know if we will be able to afford for me to be out of work for eighteen years. I have not completely ruled out public school, but it is low on the list right now. All I know is whatever educational approach I choose, I need to stick with it for the long haul in order for it to be effective and for Sophie to avoid the stress of extreme culture shock.

Anyway, I document this mostly for Sophie's benefit, so she'll have some idea of what it was like for her family in her early years -- the joys and struggles we faced. These are the choices I struggle with now. I'm sure it was different for my parents and I'm sure it will be different for her. But it's the progression of things these days, in the US, in 2012. For me. (I suppose there are many parents who don't struggle with these particular concerns. Maybe it's just my questioning, need-to-know nature.)

Whatever. She grows healthy and strong and I'm the happiest I've ever been, I believe. Our house overflows with love. Even with texting, eye-rolling teenagers! I call that a good start.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

April 3, 2012

Sophie loves to make noises. From her mouth, testing her voice, and in any other way she is able. She loves to scrape her fingernails on different surfaces to see the sound it makes, and she shakes every object she picks up to see if it makes noise. She loves banging things together, and is quite pleased with herself when she gets a strong sound going from something.

She remains fascinated by Lucy, who is very patient with her. Lucy is truly a remarkable dog. She allows Sophie to explore her fur, ears, nose and paws and doesn't move except to lick Sophie's forehead or sniff her face. Eliana is also patient but seems to enjoy taunting Sophie with her flicking tail. Sophie is really peeved by Eliana's tail, and most times if she sees Eliana's tail flicking anywhere near her, she yells at it and puts up a rather noisy fuss until I move her or the cat. It's adorable, really.

Sophie woke up at 4am crying (I suspect she was a smidge gassy and uncomfortable) so we are both going to be tired today. Hopefully we can squeeze in a longer than usual nap. I'm still finishing up Festival stuff but, God willing, I should be done, completely done, by the end of the week. After that, Sophie and I are going to take a week's vacation down to Bisbee to visit my mom and some friends. Bobbi and Maggie will be there, and I'm extremely excited for Sophie and Maggie to meet. Plus, I can't wait to snuggle that Maggie! I've seen so many photos of her, I feel I know her. (Bobbi is one of my best friends from High School, and she had her baby exactly two months before I had Sophie. We have really re-bonded over babies and birthing, and I am very grateful to have them both in my life.

Here's hoping a long nap is in my not-distant future!