19 December 2014

Las Posadas

Tonight we celebrated Las Posadas at the girls' school. It was fun to be with the school community.

WAIT!!!! I can't write one more thing before I tell you what happened.

MAGNOLIA GOT HER CAST OFF!!! It happened this afternoon around 3:30. Exactly six weeks since she broke her leg. [This is Day 137 for anyone who's keeping track.] We're going to celebrate tomorrow by taking an extra long bubble bath.

Her ankle is pretty stiff, just like her knee was when she got out of her full cast. Her sweet teachers carried her around for the journey portion of Las Posadas.

[Magnolia and her teachers]

Before the program began, Cora was running around with her friends. They were all darling. During the program, each class sang a song. Magnolia's class learned Silent Night, and Cora's Away in a Manger. Everyone did a fantastic job. I love spirited children's voices.

This girl is alive.

15 December 2014


The last few Mondays of my life have been exceptionally good. I have no idea what makes them extra special. There's been a surge of momentum, of ideas, of something. :)

This morning I went to see Wild. I was going to go last night after my girls were in bed, but then I would have missed the Holiday Baking Championship Finale. And I just couldn't do that. Wild was really good and timely. I'm a great believer in "walking it out." This is an extreme version of that. I loved Laura Dern in this film. And the soundtrack. The music was so well placed and moved between characters' thoughts and well-known recordings seamlessly connecting memories to the present.

Before I went to see Wild, like when I was still in my jammies, I took the time to write down words that kept coming to me last night. It felt good. So many good things are lost because I don't write them down. Now if only I could figure out how to make a habit of it. Afterwards, I took a bath and read through part of a collection of poetry. Baths take longer, but they're so productive. Get clean AND read a good book.

My girls and I made sugar cookies after school. Sprinkles and sugar galore! We were using cookie cutters from a safari animal set, but I think we pulled off "Nativity" all right. There was a camel. And a donkey. But for real, imagine the manger scene with elephants and hippos, and a lion, and so on. 

I'm getting really excited for a break from school. We'll be in Arizona for most of this holiday. I'm really excited to see family and friends who I count as such. On that note, I ordered a rug today that I hope will get here before we leave! Cora brought home the sweetest gift for us! She made a Bible Stories Calendar at school. I'm going to love staring at one of her 12 pictures for a month at a time. The card she made brought me to tears. 

Tonight I was watching scenes from old movies, and listening to music that I love (old and new). I played No Envy, No Fear, and Jake asked what it was so I played it again. And then it happened. I got up and danced across the kitchen. Dot's floors were all wood, and perfectly slick and dance-able. I'm almost embarrassed to say how often I would slip on a pair of socks, turn up the music, and spin and glide across the floors. Our apartment is mostly carpet. I've danced around a bit, but nothing like at Dot. Tonight, I happened to be wearing tights, so when I got up, all conditions were perfect. And I found myself loving something about the flooring that I've spent the last 132 days loathing. It's still really ugly, moving in a way I love can't change that. 


01 December 2014

Big Dreams and Reckless Love

Today I'm full of crazy ideas. Big hot air ballon sized ideas. Today I wandered into a new part of L.A., and I fell a little bit in-love. It is possible!

Today is a day of clarity. Catching a glimpse of the road straightening out in front of me, and saying, "Yes! That's exactly what I want."

Today is a day I feel confident and courageous and sure I can make some things happen. Brave enough to say, "I don't know exactly how it will all work out, but this is the greatest desire of my heart."

Today is a day of gratitude. Of saying "This is my life! I'm so happy to be living it!" I'm glad for all the people in it. I'm glad for all the love I know, and how every little bit of love makes me want to create space for more love. And more and more and more and more.

Speaking of Love, Here's a post by my friend Ryan. Today marks the beginning of "A Month of Reckless Love in Honor of [her sweet girl] Ellie Kate." Ryan's definition of Reckless Love is perfect. "Reckless Love is taking intentional action in order to benefit the life of another without worrying about the consequences."

Today I'm dreaming big and committing to live and love with more intention.

24 November 2014

Becoming a Doula

I spent the weekend completing my doula training with Ana Paula Markel at Bini Birth. Ana Paula is an amazing instructor, but the training was made by the other wonderful women and man who took part in the three-day workshop with me. I went into the workshop really excited, but also considering it something I needed to "check off my list" in order to become a certified Doula with DONA International. The whole experience far exceeded my expectations. I got to spend time with some intelligent, caring people. Strangers on day one who quickly became friends. The entire group had such a warm loving energy. We all want to empower women and help families and communities. One of the ways we've chosen to do so is supporting them through birth.

I learned so many things! My mind is still reeling with all of the new information as well as the deepening understanding of things I was familiar with. In addition to attaining new knowledge, I'm also on an emotional high. I was deeply touched by the stories I heard, and also found myself processing a few of the stories of my life in new ways, including the births of my daughters.

All of it growth.

Becoming a doula in a new city is adding to the adventure. The last part of my certification process includes attending three births, so I need as much help as I can get networking! If you or someone you know in Los Angeles is interested in having a doula with them for their birthing experience, I would love to help.

Ana Paula Markel
Bini Birth is located in a beautiful space

Ana Paula with my comfort measures partner, Sabrina, demonstrating how to do an assisted double hip squeeze. [Photo credit Emylie Ellis]

13 November 2014

Mother Guilt (and trying to get over it)

I think when anything unpleasant happens to one's child, one goes through a long list of impossible ways they could have prevented the situation. I am no different.

My mother guilt has put me through the wringer in the last few days. I've left it on the back burner because I had really important things to address, but Magnolia breaking her leg has been very difficult for me, as it would be for any mother.

There is obvious guilt about waiting two days to take her to see a doctor, but most of that is amended by the fact that in those two days she was mostly happy and still climbing behind the couch. I think most of the overwhelming feelings came from having new insurance and not having a primary care physician for my girls yet. Every orthopedic surgeon's office I called needed a referral from either insurance or a primary care physician. When I called to make some appointments, the scheduling staff would say, "If you don't hear from the office in a week, give us a call." A week?! Are you kidding me?!

I felt helpless. I felt like I couldn't give my child what she needed. I felt super flying off the handle, I'm about to yell at people crazy. I happened upon an Orthopedic Children's Hospital, going there would require that I go through their urgent care first, even though we already knew her leg was broken, but no referrals, and same day care. I went.

We waited for four hours before we were seen. The wait was good practice for keeping my anxiety at bay. I listened to two other women on the phone talking about who was cheating on who, with whom, how stupid some people were, etc.. I turned and asked the first woman if she could use better language around my daughter. She just stared at me. For seconds we just stared before I turned back around. It was like I was speaking a different language. By the time the second woman took her place behind me, I'd already been waiting for three hours. My eye was on the prize.

By the time we made our way to our room, it was pleasant. Everyone "on the other side" was helpful and pretty wonderful. Magnolia got to customize her cast, pink with purple stripes, and not complete without the addition of glitter. She has a follow up appointment in a little over a week to do more X-rays and perhaps move from a full cast on her leg to one that starts below her knee.

I'm trying to figure out how to occupy Magnolia's time. She doesn't seem to realize that her leg is broken, or at least the limitations a broken leg should bring. She wants to go to the park, to the beach, to the pool. She wants to jump off of all of the furniture like she's used to doing. She wants to go to the park with the rope tower that she loves to climb. She wants to climb trees and jump out of them. She gets more than a little upset when I tell her she can't. Any suggestions are welcome.

So after all of these emotional rushes, coupled with not sleeping well, my rope is a little frayed. I feel like I have a newborn and am sensitive to the slightest sound at night. I don't want to miss the call that Magnolia needs me. I've even thought about just sleeping in their room, so at least I won't worry about hearing her, and maybe that would help me sleep better. I don't know if I've been extra tired because everywhere I've gone in almost the last week has included carrying Magnolia, but I think it's probably the extra physical work mixed with the emotional side of this.

Today was Magnolia's first day back to school, and it has been a lazy one for me. I spent much of the morning in a bath reading a book I've been meaning to for a while. When I got out of the bath, I made my way over to my bed and read a little while longer before closing my eyes for a bit. I almost feel like I'm not on high alert. Just for a minute anyway. I spent today calming my nerves. Even though no one could feel as much guilt as a mother when her child is hurt, there are things that people say, unintentionally, I'm sure, that twist the knife into the heart of that mother guilt just a little further. I'm trying to remind myself to let these things roll off my back.

I'm also trying not to be completely irrational about this, especially since I'm still in a new place. Thoughts like, "If we never would have moved here" come to mind. And more than as a way to prevent her leg from being broken, I think it's tied to feeling like I would have my tribe. I would have had our amazing primary care physician, and I would have had numerous suggestions for an ortho, etc..  Here's to a good night's sleep and feeling more and more like we're on the road to recovery.

This image has made me want to toss my cookies more than once. I also was finally able to see the teacher who saw the incident that caused Magnolia's leg to break. Listening to the story, and this image already in my mind: Wowza.

09 November 2014

Day 97

Day 97 in Los Angeles is the day we found out that Magnolia really did break her leg on Day 95.

A spiral tibial fracture.

[Playing with a suction hose. She especially liked using it on the skin on my hands.]

I got a call from Magnolia's school late Friday morning. She'd fallen off one of the tricycles, her leg got caught in the pedal (Magnolia later told me it was the wheel), she was crying and couldn't stand on it, so her teachers carried her to the office. I talked to M on the phone, and she sounded chipper. I asked her if it really hurt or if she wanted to go back to class. She said she wanted to come home. I had her give the phone back to Francis (the receptionist), and I told her I was having a weird parent moment trying to decide if I should come and get her or let her stay. (I didn't want her to figure out the "if I do this, then my mom will come and get me" trick.) Francis told me she tried a little trick of her own: She dropped a ball and asked Magnolia if she could pick it up and bring it to her. Magnolia said she couldn't. 1. That trick is ingenious. 2. I told her I'd be right there.

When I got to the school, Magnolia was in the office next to Francis. Usually when Magnolia sees me, she gets excited and smiles. When our eyes met, her chin started quivering. I did a walk/run over to her, asked if she was okay, and she buried her head in my shoulder and cried a little. [I cried a little too.] She was trying to be so brave. I told her I was sorry it took so long to get there. When I pulled back a little bit, I saw that she was holding a bag of ice on the lower part of her left leg. That sweet little tiny leg. She said she couldn't walk, so I picked her up and we went to get Cora, who was eating lunch.

[Playing with the dress-up stickers one of the doctors brought in for her.]

She seemed happy, but would complain a bit when her leg bounced too much as I was walking. Her leg wasn't swollen besides a knot on her shin, and only had two little circular bruises about two inches a part. Over the next two days, she scooted around the house, happy as could be. She climbed behind the couch, she did everything just like normal, but when we would ask her if she wanted to walk, she wouldn't, and she would still wince and cry if she moved her leg a certain way. After her "walk test" this morning, I took her into the ER (I called a few nearby Urgent Cares first, but they didn't do x-rays) at UCLA's hospital.

We were there for a really long time. The only time she was ever afraid was when she was getting x-rays. She saw the machine come over her, and she grabbed onto me. I reminded her it was the camera we talked about, and that it would never touch her. The part about it not touching her made her relax her grip a bit. When the doctor came back to our room after the x-rays, she told Magnolia that she had some really sad news, and that her leg was broken. I think everyone was surprised that it was a spiral fracture because I had a perfectly happy little girl. When I saw the x-ray, I couldn't believe how clearly broken it was. No mistake. No kinda sorta. It appears to have cleared the growth plates. I'm glad for that.

(Eating a graham cracker snack because we'd been there through lunch and dinner.)

We should be getting a call from someone in an orthopedic doctor's office within the next 24 hours to schedule an appointment and determine a treatment plan. We left the hospital in a temporary splint that starts at her toes and extends to her upper thigh. The back half is plaster, and just that is so heavy for her. They didn't have crutches her size in the ER, but the nurse said that the splint is probably too heavy for her to try and balance out with crutches. So for right now, I'm M's legs. Third floor apartment, no elevator, carrying a cute little love up and down. I have the easy job. I hope her long term splint/cast will be lighter, and that we'll figure out some device to help her get around on her own. And that's for her sake, not mine. ;)    

05 November 2014

John Fullbright and Patty Griffin

He didn't sing Me Wanting You, and I didn't eat any key lime pie, but John Fullbright and Patty Griffin = perfection.

The cherry on top of this evening was that I drove back to a home where Mary Fallin isn't governor. [That would not be the case if I still lived in Oklahoma.]

My favorite new songs they played were Patty's "Mando Song no.1" and John's "Stars."  When I was listening to Stars, I closed my eyes and thought of my friend Dan.
Well I’ve seen stars before
I’ve looked up and felt empty
I’ve looked up and felt nothing
I’ve looked up and felt sorrow
Like I was alone 
But tonight I looked up
To the stars brightly shining
And I felt like I was something
In the eyes of god as he smiled 
But I’ve known God before
One time he told me he made me
Told me he loved me
Told me not to be afraid of dying
But one day I looked up
And my sky was empty
And the world kept on turning
And I was forever alone 
But I’ve known love before
I’ve loved and I’ve been loved
I’ve loved and I’ve lost love
I found out that love was just God almighty
And love burns brightly
Just like stars up in heaven
To remind us that love means that nobody dies alone 
Oh I’ve seen stars before
Mando Song

My best attempt at the lyrics:
I’m gonna let it be the field
One that rain forgot
I’m gonna let it be the summer
I’m gonna let it be your face
The one that ran away
I’m gonna let it be forever 
I’m gonna let it rain and hail
Gonna let the rusty nail
No longer hold this world together
I’m gonna let it be the sun
In more ways than one
Shine a different way tomorrow
Shine a different way tomorrow 
I’m gonna let it be the moon
Gonna let it play a tune
The one that keeps repeating
I’m gonna let it be your will
Let it have your thrill
If that’s what you were needing 
 I’m gonna let it start again
Gonna let it face the wind
With my arms stretched out before me
I’m gonna let it look at me
As I am sleepin’ in the dark
And love me like a baby 
I’m gonna let it be the sun
In more ways than one
Run out of its horizon
I’m gonna let it be the night
For I have had my day
Dancin’ at the back door 
I’m gonna let it hear the prayer
No matter who is there
No matter who is listening 
I’m gonna let the dream tell me
For it has always known 
The moonlight and the glistening
The moonlight and the glistening
The moonlight and the glistening day



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