When I wake up, there will be snow.

Today was a day of preparation. The great Snowpocalypse is bearing down on Oklahoma City as I type. Magnolia got the day rolling at 4:47. Her gums are getting ready for her second tooth to come through. She needed me, all day. And I don't mind too much, but 4:47 was really, really early.

During Magnolia's afternoon nap, Cora and I did the most logical thing I could think of: we made leg warmers. When browsing around for a tutorial, I came across the blog of a mother of two. After looking at her tutorial, I spent an extra minute looking around her blog when I came across her most recent post. She's fighting cancer. I watched a video of her husband shave her head after she lost her first big clump of hair. It's amazing what you learn when you're in search of something simple. I like her feisty, positive approach. I think you will too.

And then, not long after oohing and ahhing at how cute Magnolia looked in her leggings, I saw an invitation from my cousin, Tyson, asking me to like his and his wife's adoption page. They have been trying to adopt a child for the last three years, and there is finally a feeling of hope for them, but they're going to need help. I'm going to devote a whole post to them before this week is over, and I know that some of you would love to help them in any way you can - because that's the kind of people you are.

For now, I'm listening to the sleet hit the windows. I've never been in a blizzard before. Something about the thought of snow falling and falling makes me feel like I'm suffocating. Like it could bury our house and we wouldn't be able to see out and nobody could get in. You know, because all twelve inches, give or take a few, will make that a possibility. I really do love snow, a lot actually, but again, I've never been in a snowy situation that caused more than a few inches to fall. Even in Chicago, I think seven was the most that fell at one time while we were there. Our faucets are dripping, our cabinet doors are open. Bring it.

My mom's birthday is tomorrow (2/1). I hope her day is fantastic. She's 22 years, 3 months and 2 days older than I am...any guesses? ;)


(Imagine me there, not on the bench, up in the tree with a notebook and a pen.)

After Christmas, my mother-in-law told me about a book she was going to read called the Happiness Project. The title instantly grabbed me. It sounded noble, at least, and very familiar. When I was at the library yesterday, I picked up a copy. I knew I should make time for it when I read a sentence on page three:

"I had a brief vision of myself living for a month on a picturesque, windswept island, where each day I would gather seashells, read Aristotle, and write in an elegant parchment journal. Nope, I admitted, that's not going to happen. I need to find a way to do it here and now."

My good friend, Angie Jeppsen, once told me that she'd decided that life was happening right now, and she wasn't going to wish it away waiting for her husband to be done with school (that's a big thing when waiting to be out of school, that somehow "real life" will magically appear). I love her for all of her little insights like that. That one stuck with me. After moving to Chicago and back to Oklahoma without a deep sense of satisfaction, I kept telling myself that life is happening now. It's not what's going to be after this and that are accomplished, this is it. Every day, every breath I take. This is my life, and I don't feel like I'm making the most of it. The author, Gretchen Rubin talked about having much to be happy about, but "I still suffered bouts of melancholy, insecurity, listlessness, and free-floating guilt."

This woman has been inside my head - I would think that if I didn't have the faintest idea of how interconnected we all are. She's inside my head just as I am inside yours and you are inside mine. When we moved over the summer, I dove into books. It's the only thing I knew to do. I started with Sue Monk Kidd's Dance of the Dissident Daughter. I have taken my sweet time with it, staying at a part until I feel I'm ready to move on. I can't really put into words what I've been going through in the last few months. It's been a combination of dreaming, grieving, loving, hating, hoping, all things in the last quote from the paragraph above, always thinking, trying to recapture what I've lost or let go of myself, and so many more things.

I think it's crazy, really, the things we give up along the way for whatever reason, most often times contrived because we think we're making it easier on someone else, that we're being who they want or need. It's so sad when you take a survey of what was lost and what was gained. The losses mount quickly, though often unnoticed. "Don't live your life based on other peoples' expectations for you."

I've read books on writing because I feel like that's something that's missing. It's part of who I am. It's what I did at the kitchen table as a child - writing the visions of birds taking flight. But I also have to make peace with certain things: I am a mother of small children, and it is so difficult/impossible to have enough free time to sit and think, uninterrupted, or to be awake when I know I need to be asleep. I need to become a better manager of my time. Let me be clear, motherhood is not a detractor from who I am, it is my life, and the saddest thing would be to wish for this sweet time with my girls to hurry because I feel like I can't recapture something. That's one of the pearls I've added to my strand in these last few months, that I am becoming such a better version of myself because of my girls.

I'm trying to bring it all together. Page four states is perfectly:

"It was time to expect more of myself. Yet as I thought about happiness, I kept running up against paradoxes. I wanted to change myself but accept myself. I wanted to take myself less seriously - and also more seriously. I wanted to use my time well, but I also wanted to wander, to play, to read at whim. I wanted to think about myself so I could forget myself. I was always on the edge of agitation; I wanted to let go of envy and anxiety about the future, yet keep my energy and ambition."

I know that my own happiness is wrapped up in a continual exploration of my spirituality. I have a desire to know the Divine, the divinity within myself. I am a woman full of passion, love for life and learning, full of love, period. I want to make these truths about me come to the surface. I don't want to be timid about being myself. This journey has been so valuable, and I'm nowhere near the end.

I'm going to make it a point to look at the moon each night, again. That's important.

Hemoglobin is a funny word

Jake has been sick. On Saturday, it came on all of the sudden. I'd already mentioned how frightening his symptoms were, and how they made me wonder if this was the beginning of the end. He is being treated for a gastric ulcer. It has been bleeding quite a bit, so last night we went in to have him checked for anemia. The normal hemoglobin level in a male is 14, his was 9.2, but they don't start transfusing until 7. He's taken quite a hit from blood loss. The first plan of attack consists of him taking 80mg of Prilosec every day to see if the ulcer will start to heal itself and stop bleeding. If the bleeding doesn't stop in 3-4 days, he's going to be treated with a series of antibiotics to treat the bacteria H. Pylori (a major cause of ulcers).

We're not really sure how long he's had it, but he lost 15 pounds basically out of nowhere in the last months of last year. He also has had an ache in his abdomen about two inches below his sternum. It's an on/off kind of ache. It started happening after we were sick with that horrible stomach bug on Christmas Eve. It's just so weird that something can be going on in your body without being aware of it. Especially to have the severity of his symptoms come on all at once.

In other news: I didn't get dressed today. I remember thinking, before I had kids, that I would always get ready for the day. Nope, I don't. I've been working in Cora's room for the last few days. My first order of business was to get her butterflies back on the ceiling. She asked about them every time she saw them. I had to cut the strings they hang from this time because she's so tall, and I didn't want her reaching up and yanking them down. I hung the curtains from our living room in Chicago yesterday. I know they've been washed, but they smelled just like our apartment. Today, I made room for a clothes rack for her dress-ups that will be getting here on Saturday (Did you already guess that Vaughn made it?). When we moved in, Tracey gave Cora these cute little flower hooks that I haven't ever hung up because I'd been waiting for just the right spot. I'm into stations/centers, you know, just like in kindergarten and first grade. She has her book nook with a bookshelf and chair. She has her art station with her easel, and now she'll have her dress-up spot with clothes and flower hooks to hang accessories from. I like her room. It's eclectic. I can tell I'm the one decorating it right now. I can't wait to see what sort of flair she'll add to it as she gets older. My room was always all about collections. The focal point was the top of my dresser with my treasures - including an angel clock, a small silver jewelery box that I kept all the teeth I lost in, and four balance mobiles. Those were so rad.

PS: I got on to post something last night, but got seriously sidetracked by my stats. There was a website listed as a referring URL that I didn't recognize with some very unflattering words, I clicked on. Major porn site. Major. I clicked out, but then I was like, WAIT?!? Why is my blog linked to a porn site? I clicked on the link again hurried down through looking for anything that links to my blog - nothing. Then I did some research, and I don't know how it works, but blogger URL's can be spammed by sites looking for more hits. I fell into the trap. I clicked on the link to their site, giving them a hit (twice actually - ugh). So, if ever you're looking at your stats, and you see an unfamiliar URL that you can basically bet everything you own on being a site with less than desirable content, don't go there. If you're really concerned and doing the super "I'M GOING PRIVATE RIGHT NOW" freak out, give it a few days and see if you get anymore hits from that site. You probably will not, and you won't have to endure the myriad of images I wish I had not seen. I do, however, have even more resolve to teach my girls how to grow into self-respecting women who know the real value of their bodies, and if e'er I have a son, to teach him just the same. I couldn't help but think, in retrospect, those faces and "parts" were all someone's baby, and how sad that thought made me.

PSS: That could have been a record long PS.
I love how baby arms, when fully extended upwards, only reach a little bit over their heads.

When Cora hears someone laugh she always says "What are you being funny for?"

In fact, Cora is in the Why-stage, but never just says "why." A mock example:

Cora: Why'd the chicken cross the road for?
Me: To get to the other side.
Cora: Why'd the chicken get to the other side for?
Me: To go see her friends.
Cora: Why'd she go see her friends for?
Me: She went to play with her friends.
Cora: Why'd she go play with her friends for?
Me: Because she likes them.
Cora: Why she like her friends for?

And on and on and on. I think it's pretty fun most of the time. When she doesn't understand what you just said, she says "What'd you did said?" Jake and I, and most people who have heard her ask, have a lot of fun with it.

Magnolia loves to sing. Loves it, and it's so fun to listen to her. She also has had a tooth for two days now. When it first came in, she would run her tongue across it over and over again. We laugh at her little antics all the time. Cora is already her best friend. They're interacting so much more now. One of my favorite things is when Magnolia is waking up from her nap. Cora runs in, climbs up into her crib, and they just hang out with one another. I like to take a book in a read it to them while they're there so cozy together.

I am in-love with these girls. They never fail to make my life full, even in the moments I fail to acknowledge that.

Just Some Things

I went to Dr. Smokewood's memorial yesterday. It was a warm service with a few surprises, like the fact that she liked Blue Grass music. I'm also a huge fan, and just as some would not peg me as such, neither would I pick her out of a group to be the same. I can't pick a favorite thing about the service, but part of Walt Whitman's Song of Myself from Leaves of Grass stuck with me because it perfectly states what I feel about how my body should be laid to rest. I'll save it for the end so you'll keep reading.

Aunt Hannah died on Monday, Dr. Smokewood on Tuesday (if you can't be born on 1/11/11, you might as well be able to die on it, right?), and Uncle Leo on Wednesday. It naturally makes one ponder what the hereafter holds. Most of the time, I am quite certain that God is there, that my prayers are not thoughts/words vanishing somewhere in the space of my own being. But there are times when I question. I'm a mix of logic and abstraction, of faith and doubt. While difficult at times, it's one of my favorite qualities [I'm like that with everything, not just God...that's why everything is "a bit complicated".]

It was said that in the last few weeks of her life, Dr. Smokewood told her family and friends that she was seeing light. I still haven't wrapped my mind around how beautiful that is. Perhaps only through God, one with a disease as terrible as ALS can continue finding ways to make life fuller, to know that there's still so much to learn, to figure out how to take advantage of time in a way that most fail to do. I want to live that way without knowing that my time on earth is coming to a close sooner rather than later. Why is it so difficult? There were also some amazing words about teaching. All of them true, but most touching to me is how we should always be 100% genuine, never distanced by the feeling we must maintain a professional self and a personal self when teaching.

Jake became ill this afternoon. His symptoms were frightening. I stayed very even-keeled through calling friends and family, making arrangements for the care of our girls if I ended up taking him to the emergency room. He was given a blessing by two elders in our congregation. We were also able to speak with another member of our congregation who is an emergency doctor at OU. I felt much better afterward, but in winding down, I found myself getting emotional. All of my plans have him in it, and tonight was the first time I caught a glimpse of what it could be to start down a path without him. I had a shrill few, broken up moments of wondering if this was the beginning of the end. He seems to be doing much better now, which is why I'm taking this moment to let my mind relax.

Onto Walt Whitman:

I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love, If you want me again look for me under your boot-soles.

When I die [you knew this was coming, right?], I don't want to be embalmed, but if I must be, that's all. No glued eyes or lips or stuffed anything. I don't want a casket. I want to be dressed in my temple clothes, wrapped in a soft, old quilt, and placed directly in the ground. I want to go become part of the earth as quickly as possible. I want my body be part of the grass, the flower that grows on that spot, the tree whose root might one day extent to my little resting place. Walt did a good job, didn't he? Reading my mind from his time and place. I want to be under your boot-soles.

"In lieu of flowers," plant a little garden when the right season comes, or a tree, or send the money to someone/some organization that needs it. Buy a notepad and Go outside a while, look up and count the clouds. Can you draw a picture of the backyard of the house you grew up in, can you remember how it smelled? and then draw and write about it. I'm sure my idea of the perfect service will change, but for now, you should sing Amazing Grace and My Shepherd will Supply my Need [and whatever else you want]. Isn't a service more for everyone who's left anyway? To share their grief and fond memories...happily commiserate. I'm sure I'll add to my list as I find things I want to add to my "lasting legacy," but for now, the most important part is really the no casket/gluing thing. No worries though, I'm going to be at least 100, and hopefully I'll go out on my birthday. It seems nice and complete that way. And don't you just love this song? You will if you haven't heard it yet. It's Lay My Burden Down by Caroline Herring [she's good. You should listen to more of her music, too. You can find the lyrics here.]

(the bit about clouds and the backyard is from Words by Ryan Adams)

The Saddest Happy Story

We saw Uncle Leo and Aunt Hannah in September while Grammy was in Oklahoma. Hannah had Alzheimer's, and Grammy wanted to make sure she got to see her sister. When we were saying our "hellos," Grammy misstepped, and Leo caught her. His skin was so thin, it tore open. Luckily, Sarah, their fifteen-year-old granddaughter (and also their chauffeur that day) had her purse stocked with pink Hello Kitty bandaids. As Sarah was helping Leo with his open wound, Leo motioned his head toward Hannah and said to Grammy "We're going to go together." He didn't ever want to leave her alone.
A week after our visit, Uncle Leo had to put Aunt Hannah in a nursing home. His physical health was deteriorating, and even after changing the locks to make sure she couldn't leave, Hannah would get out and wander through the streets of Bartlesville. They'd been in the process of building a home in Skaitook to be closer to their children, but that still wouldn't take away the harm Hannah could unknowingly inflict upon herself. Leo was devastated. He was able to visit her every day, and he did just that.
Just before Thanksgiving, Leo was walking through the parking lot after a lunch date with Hannah when a car backed into him. He had broken ribs and you can imagine what happened to his skin with the force of a car backing into him and knocking him down. They couldn't do skin grafts because there wasn't any skin healthy enough to graft, and there was no way they could attach grafted skin to the skin he already had. I couldn't imagine the quality of life he would have, and I knew how much he wanted to be there to make sure his wife was taken care of, but there was a big part of me that didn't want this man to live in an even more restricted body.
When I heard that he'd been hit by a car, I thought about the hat I always remember him wearing, how it proudly declared that he was a veteran of both WWII and the Korean War. Had it stayed on his head when he fell to the ground? How far away did the hand-held oxygen tank he depended on land? Did his suspenders stay fastened? And why is this what happened to this man? 85-year-old men should not get hit by cars, especially in the parking lot of the facility where their wives are. I was so angry that it happened.
After a time in the hospital, Leo was transferred to the same room in the nursing home as Hannah. She passed away in her sleep on January 10, 2011 with Leo in the bed next to hers. And then, after two days a part, Leo passed away on January 12. The last few months of his life were so sad, and I'm sure he spent the last few years worried about how the end would come, and not just for him or her, but how the dynamics would be when one was left without the other. The way they were able to "go together" is one of the most evident tender mercies I've witnessed in my life. My anger has turned into gratitude, that despite the events leading up to their deaths, Leo was granted his last wish.

(Grammy and Hannah Summer 2008)

(Hannah loving on Cora Summer 2010)

"For His eye is on the sparrow, and I know He watches me."

A link to their obituaries: Hannah Louise Bradshaw, Leo Mosier Bradshaw

Not just any fish - Update

[Update below]

This is so dumb - I've spent far too much time on it already. I took Cora and Magnolia to the science museum today. We were looking at the little aquarium, and that's when I saw him.*

I saw him out of the corner of my eye and thought "wow, a shark." I was quickly startled when I thought he upside down, and I was like "oh no! The biggest fish in this tank is a goner, and Cora will wonder why, and how will I explain..."

And then I saw this thing on his head. I don't know how to describe it. Something with a texture like the soft grip handle of my venus razor.
It didn't belong. Was it some sort of suction on the top of its head? It was too perfect a shape, and the wavy lines...fish are supposed to have all scales or all...hmmm, shark/whale skin. And it was raised a little, all the way around. I don't know why this was so unsettling. Like I saw it 8 hours ago. I just wanted to peel that portion of off the fish so I would stop being bothered by it. It was almost like a flap because of how it was raised.

I've got it. A schick silk effects razor no slip handle. That's what it was like, with the waves, and similar shape and rise...Why does a fish need a rubber razor handle component?!?!

I know I'm not the only one who has been this sensitive to something that I know should not be this disturbing, but it is. There were no labels for the fish on the tanks. I emailed the museum right before I wrote this in hopes of finding an answer. Has anyone else seen this fish?

UPDATE: Thanks to a certain "Nat Ann," I found out the the fish in question is a Remora Fish. Here are some pictures [and maybe you'll see why I was so caught off guard by it]:

Spiraling Words

When I was in high school and college, I took full advantage of the cardboard backing on my notebooks.

I used to write quotes, song lyrics, anything I deemed worthy in my brightly colored pens. Each letter was so tiny because, no matter how full the back of my notebook became, I always needed to make sure there was room for more. These were in addition to the mass number of "doodles," and poems woven into my notes and on the margins of assignments.

I couldn't help myself. I could concentrate far better while I was drawing or writing or both.

I read a quote tonight by Martin Luther King, Jr. that would have definitely turned into a spiral version of itself in my hand writing.

"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter."

And since this is Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I've been looking over several of his quotes. I've included some more just because...

Because thinking is one of my favorite pastimes: "Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking. There is an almost universal quest for easy answers and half-baked solutions. Nothing pains some people more than having to think."

Because so many people base their opinions on "forward e-mail" type information, completely overlooking the importance of facts: "Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will." [and] "Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

Because there's always something to do: "The question is not whether we will be extremists, but what kind of extremists will we be... The nation and the world are in dire need of creative extremists." [and] "Almost always, the creative dedicated minority has made the world better." [I love how often he used the words creative and creatively.]

Because I wish I thought this way more often: "The first question which the priest and the Levite asked was: 'If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?' But the good Samaritan reversed the question: 'If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?'" [and] "There is nothing more tragic than to find an individual bogged down in the length of life, devoid of breadth." [and] "Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality."

And lastly because every time I read these words, I get a knot in my throat [more so now that I have children]: "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.' ... I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

(Pictured with three of his four children.)

"With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together... [I have a dream today.]"

Four Weeks and One Day

Cora is going to be three before I turn around. I was thinking about how her party was going to go down, and then some moms who were over for play group suggested asking her. Brilliant. She's keeping it much easier than what I was conjuring up on my own. When I asked her who she wanted to come, she said:

"Avery and Rachel (her 2 best friends)
You (pointing to me)
and Nolia."


I then asked her what kind of party she'd like to have.

"I want a fairy-Santa party."

Hmm. She later changed fairy to angel, but I'm going to stick with fairy - and drop the Santa because let's face it: he can stay in December.

We're going to have a little lunch party with her afore mentioned guests, and a dinner party with some of our friends, and then...we're going to have a party in Holdenville with family. That one is going to have a cupcake theme because that's what she wanted when we were all asking her there. Well, "ice cream cupcake party" to be exact.

What does she want for her birthday? A bike. She wanted a bike for Christmas too, but we thought we'd hold off for her birthday because it's that much closer to warmer weather. That will be the most difficult part of this whole thing, all because of what I have in mind. I really want her to have a little banana seat bike. 20 inch versions are all over the place. She needs a 12 or 16 inch. Really a 16 inch for any growing room because she is 1 inch away from being too tall for a 12 inch and 1 inch too short for what the 16 inch specifications say (she has a 17-inch inseam in-case anyone was wondering).

Anyway, I've found some great ones on-line, but they're in a local pick-up adds. I mean, there has to be some cute bicycle equally as cute hanging out somewhere in Oklahoma wanting to have a new loving owner. We'll see. Until then, I will get started on garland and flowers and little fairy costumes for three cute fairies and one, maybe two, sweet fairy babies.
(This is so rad. If only a crocheted bike could bring happiness and enjoyment to a three-year-old.)

The secret to happiness in life is lowering your expectations.

Dear Dr. Smokewood

I knew this day would come, but I still can't believe it has happened.

When I found out, I went around our house to find every little thing I have as a direct result of you. You brought Unleashed to the English Christmas party at Nancy's house, and I was the lucky recipient (Blake and Natasha have been on my mind as well). You drove me to that party. We took the long way because you didn't like driving on Northwest Expressway. We took the same long route when we took an ill student home. I followed you and then drove you back to OCU to get your car. I did take NW Expressway back because your way took like 30 minutes, but it was okay, I would have never seen that path otherwise.

I found Wuthering Heights. I was more than bitter that you chose that book for our whole senior seminar to spend an entire semester with, even if I still think about it, mostly Heathcliff and Cathy - how he wanted to be buried next to her with one side of both of their coffins open so they could face one another. I liked that idea more than I thought he was a creepy. I'm much more of a contemporary American literature type, but you were passionate, and I was amazed at the variety of critical responses to WH from the members of our class.

Flying with Lightning Wings was on another shelf. It was my chapbook from our poetry workshop. That was the first class I had with you. Honestly, I had a love-hate relationship with you then. I'm certain it was because I was self-conscious about my writing. And maybe a little because I thought there could be a much more efficient way of sharing our poems than everyone printing out copies for everyone to workshop each week. It was before OCU recycled: I was venting my resentment over that in the wrong direction. I'm generally pretty good at controlling my emotions in front of people, but on one of the evenings my poem was up to be workshopped by the class, I fell a part. I couldn't help it. I cried and cried, and you said it was okay. The poem was Tabby, my friend who was killed in a car accident when I was in high school. It was like a mourning period four years after the fact. I wrote two poems about her that semester. Being able to do so was good for me.

The memoir I wrote for my senior project was in the drawer where I keep my handkerchiefs and other special things (like my first checkbook with a piece of masking tape on it that I told my high school track coach I would never throw away - it has her initials on it: BS, no joke). I never came up with a "real" title for it. The working title is still on the first page: yo dawg, dis is how i roll. I wrote one of the first vignettes for another assignment earlier that semester. I had been feeling sentimental over my childhood, and just started writing about it. I didn't think much of it, the words came so easily. Your reaction to it made me smile. You, of all of my professors, left the lengthiest hand-written responses. Responses on assignments can make or break a student (especially where personal writing is concerned), and you made me. I loved talking to you about the vignettes that followed in the project. You were one of the first people I thought of when my biological grandmother (who got her very own vignette) called and left a message on my phone one summer morning after I graduated. It was the first and only time I'd heard her voice. I love you for being such a big part of me learning more about who I was/wanted to be as a writer. You were safe and interested: perfect conditions.

I read through the handful of emails we'd exchanged in the last year or so. The ball was in my court to send one your way. I'd been writing one to you in my head all day on the evening President Henry sent the message that you had passed away (does that make sense - all day on the evening? I can't figure out another way to say it). Like I said, I knew it was coming, but in reading through the emails, I feel like I can send what I was thinking to your address and get a response in a few days (or a little more than a few because of your "deteriorating condition"). I always think I have more time. I suppose this is the perfect example of why I've resolved to actually let people know when I'm thinking about them.

I never told you that when I got my kitchenaid mixer, I thought about naming her Elaine so I could have "conversations with Elaine" while I cook. I didn't. Name her Elaine that is, but it was almost like I needed a material thing to represent you so we could carry on this sort of on-going conversation. Weird, I know.

I've already said expressed my thanks, and I'm no good at good-byes, so I'll just pass on the advice you shared in every class, in a nutshell of course. I love it, I think about it often. I find it ever more relevant and important.

"Don't live your life based on other people's expectations for you."

With love and gratitude for the role you've played (and will continue to play) in my life,


PS: Your response to me being a mother meant a lot to me. I don't know how to express it. To all stay-at-home mothers who sometimes feel "less than," keep this in mind: "Being a mother is THE most important job in the world, bar none. We pay a lot of lip service to motherhood in this country, but don't respect it or appreciate it nearly enough." It meant a lot coming from one whose career seemed "more than" the every day happenings of my life. Not so. Not so.
(Picture of Elaine Smokewood from okcu.edu)

PSS: To those reading this who did not know Dr. Smokewood - You can read more about her here, here, and here (I will be sad when the last one is no longer there).

I can't feel my finger

On Saturday, I [spray] painted a picnic table that Vaughn made for Cora. I've never used spray paint in my entire life. The end result wasn't too shabby, but I fear I've done permanent damage to my right index finger. It's tip is completely numb.

The very day it happened I googled "numb finger spray paint," and it turns out to be pretty common. Apparently the extended pressure of the finger pressing on the can [can] affect the nerves. One guy posted about it on his blog and continued with updates on the condition of his finger. At 14 months out, the overall numbness was better, but he still couldn't feel the tip of his finger right behind his nail.

There were countless stories in the comments of the same thing happening to others. I miss being able to feel all of my appendages. I hope this goes away soon and that there isn't nerve damage. Who knew? I'm too young to feel numb.

(Yes, I bite my nails (I've been trying to stop for years). And yes, my hands are that dry... just in-case you were wondering.)

Who's that girl with Junk in her trunk? It's me. It's me.

Everyone knows a good pair of jeans is all about the booty.

Well, I have finally found a flattering pair.

Pacsun, or Pacific Sunwear as I grew up calling it, has supplied me with my all-time favorite jeans in the past, and it didn't disappoint this time.

The SALE sign drew me in. The 50% off already on sale items got me to the back of the store in a hurry. I reluctantly picked up a pair of jeans and took them to the fitting room.

As I put them on, they didn't get stuck at my thighs. They buttoned effortlessly.

I did the turn.

HOORAY! My booty wasn't smashed beneath ill-fitting denim. They didn't do the ridiculous taper down to my knees either. Hot dang, I looked good.

I took my jeans up to the register, on sale for 34.99. They rang up 24.99 instead of 34.99, and I got 50% off of that. The perfect pair of jeans for $12.50. I went back today to snag another pair, but they didn't have my size. It's okay. It is okay. I just don't ever want to take these off.

Dear Fox Bandit bootcut jeans: Thank you for loving my junky trunk and thighs. I love you more than you'll ever know.
PS: I've lost 10-11 pounds (weight is always fluctuating, I never know what to count as my official starting weight). I have 10-15 to go. I can't wait to finish getting rid of all the excess around my midsection. (I'm sucking it in in the side view. You would, too.)

PSS: Why, yes, our den is knotty pine. I'll give you a home tour someday soon.


It's been a long time coming.

I have to remind myself why we left Chicago. The last five months have been a series of tearful remembrances and abrupt snap-out-of-its. It comes down to this: We left Chicago because being there was no longer fulfilling the long term goal we'd had in mind. We needed to step away, regroup, have full-time employment. We stepped away. We make ends meet every month. We have charted a new course. But still, there is a nagging. An aching.

Today while eating lunch, Cora said "I miss Chicago." She looked around the living room and said "this is not my favorite house, I want my building house." About a month ago, she said something very similar, about wanting her building. [This is where I get sad, and can feel the tears well up in my eyes.]
I'm an explorer. And Cora happens to be one as well. Every time we made our way through the four doors required to get to the street, an adventure was awaiting us. Hyde Park Boulevard was always interesting. When we moved back to Oklahoma, Cora, Magnolia and I would sit on the front porch, and I couldn't wait for people to pass by. I wanted to see someone, anyone, but it rarely happened/s. We pull into our garages and go into our houses, and that's that. Little boxes.

I miss the sense of community, the feeling that we're all in this together. I miss our shared yard, and the amazing neighbors we had. I miss Nicole and her four kids, and hearing Tiffany and Malachi make their way to the top floor. I miss the jumble of strollers at the bottom of the stairwell and Cora always pointing out whether or not Mia's was there. I miss Bryce's big head, and I wonder how much hair he has now. Let's be real though: I don't miss our upstairs neighbors and their crazy loud walking/running/who knows what above our heads at all hours of the night. I don't miss communal laundry or wondering what school Cora would go to. I don't miss dismissal time from Kenwood Academy and the yelling conversations of the students as they would pass by on their way home. I don't miss not being able to see the stars every night. That's all. That's my what I don't miss list. One more: I don't miss wondering what we were supposed to be doing with our lives [I'll let you in on all of that someday. A clue: it involves books].
I miss our church, and the lake, and Milennium Park, and the museums, and Lincoln Park zoo, and downtown. I miss walking to Promontory Point and 57th street beach. I miss public transportation, and walking almost everywhere, and Hyde Park Produce. I miss the tree I would watch from my window that turns golden in the fall. I miss the boiler. Our apartment was right above the boiler room. The first time it came on, I was looking out every window to see if a tank was rolling down the street. I thought I'd never get used to it, but I loved falling asleep to it, and I loved how warm our floors always were. I miss Dr. Hampton, and I can't believe she won't deliver any babies I might have in the future. I miss the numerous random interactions with people every day. I miss looking into the eyes of the woman who was always around the corner of 51st and Lake Park. I miss Matt and Lisa. And a lot of other people. And a lot of other things.[More tears. I try not to think about it much.]

I've really been trying to focus on all of the things we've been able to enjoy since being back in Oklahoma. I especially enjoy being close to family and making it to a lot more get-togethers [even if we didn't have the hay ride this year. The hay ride is a remarkable occurrence at Jake's grandparents' farm. It's my third favorite holiday. Not a holiday, you say? Pish posh, you've obviously never been. October 2011, Peepaw? Okay, sounds great!]

Trying to stay positive helps sometimes. I really am on a teeter-totter of constantly reminding myself that our overall reason for being there had become obsolete. But today, when my little Coco uttered those honest words, I wanted to break down, scoop her up, and tell her how much I miss our building house, too.

How Sweet it is

January 3, 2004 is the day I became a Mrs.

Seven years and one day ago, Jake became my Mr.
That's over a quarter of my life.

Thanks to Andrew and Ashleigh watching our girls, we celebrated with dinner at 105degrees. Jake had heirloom tomato lasagna, and I had butternut squash ravioli. We started out with a nut cheese appetizer, and finished the night off with a brownie sundae.

After a lot of research and consideration, we've decided to commit to a vegan diet. I feel like this is the natural progression of what we've been trying to do all along. No meat, no eggs, no dairy. I was having a little mourning party over cheese and ice cream, but 105 turned that around. The ice cream was made of cashews, and it was some of the best I've ever had. I loved being in a restaurant where I could order anything off the menu. In addition to being vegan, 105 is also a raw restaurant (nothing is heated at temperatures above 105 degrees). We spent the night in awe at what we were eating. Food is one way in most of our minds, but being able to step back from it and look at it from a totally different perspective was so fun.

Sometimes it seems like we got married a few weeks ago, and other times it's like we've been married forever. The past year of our marriage has been the most difficult and the best. We are total opposites in more than one way, and those oppositions have a nasty habit wreaking havoc from time to time. But when it comes down to it, the ways in which we are different end up making us so very complimentary.

And finally, because this is in blogger, and I love reading birthday/anniversary lists, here are seven random memories/reasons I love being married to Jake:

7. We hadn't been married for long, and we're driving through the Cokebury parking lot to our apartment after church one Sunday. There are two girls trying to fix a flat tire on their Jetta. Jake stops and asks if they need help. They do, so he signals for me. I get out and change the tire: heels, skirt, and all. [He is now a tire changing pro.]

6. When in Arizona for Christmas, I caught him looking up at the stars in the driveway of the house I used to live in. I used to stand in that very driveway for extended periods of time looking up into the sky at night. He appreciates where I come from, and how important place is to me.
5. We have impromptu dance parties around our house.

4. He's wonderfully sentimental in all the right ways and provides me the opportunity to be the same way. We love reading our old love letters with one another.

3. While the quantity has been making me anxious, Jake is a lover of books. He is always reading about this or that. Not only do we have full bookshelves, there are piles of his library books stacked around as well.

2. We both love maps. We're always talking about trips we'd like to take, and we look forward to the day when life will allow us to be seasoned travelers.

1. We help one another be the best possible versions of ourselves.


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