Friday, November 4, 2016

Fall is My Favorite

I am not good at taking pictures.  This has been well established.  But sometimes I do, and sometimes I am really happy with how they turn out, and sometimes even as much as I love words, it's best just to let the photos speak for themselves.








Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Remember These Days

Sometimes I forget how much I forget, and that if I don't write it down, and don't keep notes with the pictures, it's gone.

This is for me then, to keep the memory of these days a little longer.



Sometimes we have friends come over, and sometimes we just like to hang out and play with them in the bathtub.  Because why not, right?

Heather is extremely independent, and when she gets hungry she gets hungry.  That's how sometimes I find her eating lunches like this.  That's a pile of bacon, a slice of turkey, and a cold hotdog.  We keep it real healthy around here.


We like yoga. And sometimes we just drop into downward dog.


We are just so cute, is all.


And this is the other thing we do.  Run and run and run.

And make really cute faces.


And just generally hang out.


Oh look, there's me too.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Perfect You

This is what I want to say to my girls about their bodies, their body image, their idea of self, their self worth.  This is what I want them to see when they look in the mirror.  This is what I see.


You are perfect, you.

I said, you are perfect.  You.

You are not sure.
You don't believe.
You doubt.

So I say again, you are perfect, you.

You have a heart that feels.
Your heart laughs, laments, and above all, loves.

You have a mind that thinks.
Your mind plots, and plans, and most of all, performs.

You have a soul that, in peaceful quiet moments, remembers.
You have a soul that once walked among the stars.
You have a soul that saw the mountains and ocean and sky called into creation.

You are perfection in embryo - a living, growing work of art whose misplaced brush strokes can be painted over, again and again, reworked into the whole until a masterpiece emerges.

You are perfection in embryo.
I call it like I see it,
and I can see what you will be.

and so I say,

You are perfect, you.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

School Pictures!

School pictures are always so fun, and I have always been really happy with how they turn out.  That's a relief, I don't think I could be trusted to remember a second picture day if we ever need retakes.

My big third grade Hallie:

And my big first grade Hanna:



Wednesday, September 28, 2016

This is Home



Home has always been a bit of a tricky concept for me.  Where is it?  What does it feel like, to have a home that is a location and not a group of people?  When people make small talk and ask, "Where are you from?" I always stumble and struggle knowing how to answer.

We have lived here in Nebraska six and a half years now, easily the longest place I have stayed anywhere my whole life.  I actually just calculated it and until Nebraska, the average length of time I stayed anywhere was just over 2 years.

Nebraska is not a place I would have chosen for myself.  So far West, so far away from family, so far from trees.  There are so many places that pull on my heart, places that, were I on my own I might try to make home.  Upstate New York, Michigan, Indiana, even Brasil or the Netherlands.  I only lived in some of those places a short time, and some of them only when I was very young, but they claimed my heart and they will always own pieces of it.


(At the park just down the street from us.)

This is where my Mister is, and all my life I have associated the word "home" not with a location, but with the people I love.  I will follow him wherever he goes, wherever he hangs his hat will be my home.  The longer I live here, the more I think that the idea of staying here forever isn't too appalling.  Nebraska is not known for riveting beauty or stunning landscapes.  But sometimes I find myself thinking all the same - this is a beautiful place to call home.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Strawberries and Sunshine

It was deep in the midst of strawberry season, let's call it the second week of June.  On a bright Saturday morning, or perhaps a partly cloudy Tuesday afternoon, or sometime like that on a day in the second week of June, I was picking my strawberries.  I was picking them in the usual way, that is to say my usual way, which is to say I would pick strawberries from one section, and then scoot myself over and begin picking a new section.  Is this the usual way?  I assume so.

I had just picked one section entirely bare of strawberries, and so took the next step in the process: scooting myself over.  I had scarcely done so, when upon looking down again I realized that there had been, all along, hiding delicately underneath carefully poised leaves, more strawberries than I had been able to see from my previous position.

A bounty of strawberries in what I had naively assumed to be a completely picked over and now barren section of plant.  What fool I, to think that from one position I could see all, and know all, there was to know about that plant.  Only to discover, upon shifting my view just an inch, a whole new crop waiting to be plucked.

This morning in the car on the way to school the sunshine was particularly bright and gruesome to the eyes.  Hazel in particular was suffering.  "It's bright! It's too bright, mama!" Her pleas for some assistance pierced my heart but what could I do? Her sunglasses had been left, forlorn and forgotten, at home.  "I cannot move the sun, baby" I tell her, and then advise her to close her eyes.  This is our daily routine.

Quite suddenly, from the back there arose a new development to the age old conversation, one that I have been having with every single one of my children since Hallie was first old enough to express the sentiment verbally, "It's bright! It's too bright mama!" - comforting and familiar this scheduled talk is, and the new development started off innocently enough.

"The sun is shining right through Hazel's window!" Hallie said, from her seat in the van next to Hazel.

Then in the third row back, Hanna chimed in. "No! I can see the sun, coming in right through Heather's window!"

Tension added now to their voices, I can tell this has already begun to escalate.  "No! Hazel's!" "No, Heather's!"

No one likes to be wrong.  In my best "I am the mother" voice, I said, "You are looking at the sun from different perspectives.  You are both right."  End of discussion. Silence.  They absorb this new information as best they can.

Then, "what is perspective, mom?"

I'm not going to pontificate on the lessons I learned from these two experiences, I will let you draw your own conclusions.  Or, perhaps to you they are nothing more than a story about an incompetent berry picker, and a mother who tries to stall fights.

Either way, I hope you have a very nice day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

My Own Grief

Today started off like any other day, waking up to the noiseless commotion of Devin slipping out at 4:30 to go work out.  Then my alarm at 5:00, snooze, snooze, snooze, even though I am awake and have been since Devin left.  I like to lie there in the dark, soaking up the last few peaceful moments of my day before it all gets so crowded and noisy and my head fills up with a million thoughts pulling me to do a million things and then the guilt that rides me all day long and keeps me up too late at night of only accomplishing four of them.

5:30 am and I know my time is up, the luxury of rest has passed and so I rise.  Dress myself and make last minute preparations for my four high school students to come.  Unlock the door, turn on the porch light; it is still so dark outside.

Now the rush and flurry of life begins.  Students come, students go, breakfast, shoes, backpacks, out the door.  Then to the ymca where I will drop the girls off to play and I will work out for two hours, lifting weights and punching and kicking my way through stress and anxiety, all the fears that I cannot get done all the things I want to get done, and that I am not perfect enough yet.  Why aren't I perfect yet?

Pulling into a parking spot at the gym I hear the birdcall sound of a text on my phone.  It is my brother, in the family group text, with pictures of my niece Emily getting on the bus for her first day of kindergarten.  Smiles and happy feelings, I love this big family of mine.  Then a mention, someone remembers.  Today would have been Tabitha's first day of kindergarten, right?

Sometimes I feel guilty for the grief I still feel.  As if there is a finite amount of grief in the world and by experiencing some of it still myself I am stealing it from someone else, who more rightly deserves to be feeling it.  But this morning as the sadness of missing that beautiful baby who would have now been, who would she have been?  (A kindergartner running to the school, backpack bouncing, pigtails flying, or the one in the corner, clinging tightly to mom's hand, don't let go, don't let go, not ready Mom.)  I decided firmly that grief has no limits, no boundaries, and in my own experience with my personal griefs the bitterness is alleviated somewhat by having someone to share it with, to bear up under the weight of it, to hear the unspoken words, you are not alone.

That decision made, I let myself feel it.  Even as the music was pumping and people were lifting, bicep curls, upright rows, one more set, again, you can do it, my heart was filled with Tabitha.

Dear Tabitha, I don't know exactly where heaven is, but I know that's where you are.  I don't know exactly what you are doing, but I know you are happy.  I don't know exactly when my time on earth will be up, and I will see you again, but I know it will come someday.  I only got to see you a few times while you were here on earth, but there have been moments since you have been gone when I have felt you near me, and I think you know me.  I look forward to knowing you, listening to the perspective you had on the experiences you watched us all have.  I know I am "just" your aunt, and I only got to be your aunt for six months, but you are always in my heart.  Here's to someday, Tabitha.

I love you.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Star Scrubbies Crochet Pattern

I wrote my very first crochet pattern, which was very exciting for me.  If I have any friends who crochet and would like to try out this pattern and let me know how it works for them, I would love the feedback. Thanks!

I used Lily Sugar n' Cream 100% cotton yarn with an h size hook.

Start with a magic circle. Ch 1. 10 sc in loop. Join with sl st to first sc

Round 1: ch 1, sc in same loop. * 2 dc next st, 2 sc next stitch * repeat between * around, skip last st, join with sl st to first sc

Round 2: ch 1, sc same loop. Sc next stitch, *[dc, ch 1, dc], sl, 2 sc evenly * around.  Sl st to join.

Round 3: ch 1, sc in 1st sc, 2 sc evenly, *[dc, tr, dc] in ch-1 sp, sc, 2sl st evenly, 3 sc evenly* sl st to join.

Round 4: do not ch 1, sl st to next st, * 4 sc evenly, (dc, ch1, dc), 2 sc evenly, 2 sl st evenly, join with sl st.

Finish off. Weave in ends. 


Let me know if you try it and how it turns out!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Crochet

I first tried to learn how to crochet in high school.  My mom was teaching me, and it did not end well.  Tears and hysteria, mainly, is what I recall.  I was not good at it immediately, and that made me angry, and so of course like any good teenager, I quit.

Years later, I had a friend who tried to teach me how again.  This time I was diligent.  I was pregnant with Hanna and so sick and uncomfortable (hernia, anyone?) and Hallie was just a year old and so the only thing connecting me to my sanity was practicing crochet.  I remember sitting on that couch, stitching and stitching and stitching but it was never to my satisfaction, in fact the only thing I could make were lumpy triangles and so I would pull all the yarn out and start again. And again. And again.

Then Hanna was born and I put it all aside once more, almost deciding that crochet was not for me.  I had tried it, I had given it a fair shot, and I had failed.  I moved on with life.

Four years later, Hazel was born.  After she was born I was pretty much just an ugly mess of a human.  I had three little kids and a newborn baby to take care of now, and I just couldn't afford to not be present, so I was desperate for something, anything, that could take my mind off my body and it's pains and complaints so I could at least be present in the room and try to take care of my family.

I remember pushing the cart around walmart while I waited for the oil to be changed on the car.  (Last time I ever took the car there for an oil change, literally.)  I was just meandering, trying to keep the kids interested so they wouldn't turn Lord of the Flies on me in boredom, but also trying to avoid the toy aisle, need I explain?

That's how we found ourselves in the arts and crafts section, and that's how I found myself staring at a book with bright and pretty pictures called, "Teach Yourself to Crochet."

I still remember the sound of the voice in my head that said, "enough is enough.  This time, we're doing it."

I bought the little book, and spent the next two years practicing.  It has pretty much saved if not my actual life, then the quality of my life.  

If you want to check out my shop, and follow along and see where this journey takes me, I would love to have you!
Cozy Rose Home is where you'll find me.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Hanna Is

I have been thinking about Hanna a lot lately.  I feel like her birthday post was a little sidetracked with my thoughts of just having visited my grandma. When Devin and I were trying to decide to have another baby or not five or so years ago, I worried about Hanna.  I knew that I wanted Hallie to have a sibling, but I worried if we had one more then Hanna would be in the dreaded middle spot of a family of three children. (Assuming at that time that we would not have four). As we talked though we decided Hanna had a strong enough personality that she could handle being a "middle". And yet, sometimes I worry that because she takes care of herself so well I lost out on some opportunities to be mom for her specially.  I began to worry that's what happened with her birthday post. 

So this one is for you kid, just you. 

Hanna is 

As I try to begin, I realize I have a dilemma.  How do you describe in writing, a format that is by nature somewhat permanent, something that is by its own nature not static at all?  Hanna is like a butterfly that is too beautiful to be put on display, it cannot be pinned down.  Like a jackrabbit that knows just how to evade capture she darts here and there, always just out of reach.

Hanna then, is like those rainy days when you realize that while the rain is falling, the sun is also shining. Hanna is like that day when things keep going wrong, but then you see that after the storm breaks up the most beautiful rainbow is coloring the sky. At night as the sun falls into darkness you lay your head on your pillow and just as your dreams begin to drift you see the full moon, and know the man up there is winking right at you.  That feeling you get in a rush in that moment of stardust and magic, that is the essence of Hanna.

If fairy tales came to life and a shadow were to step out of a shadow and whisper in my ear that one of my children were part fae, I would know right away that it was Hanna.  Not because she is more extra special than my other girls but because there has always been something elusive about her, a kiss just on the corner of her cheek that I can never quite catch.

Hanna is 

And that is why I love her.  Because she is, and she loves life fiercely, ferociously.  She wants to live it and she wants to live it now, no questions asked - except that she has a million questions all the time about the nature of everything she has ever seen and ever heard.  And trust me, this one sees, hears, and remembers it all.

Hanna lives life at such a pace that it can be hard to keep up, but when you make the effort to do so you realize that she gives back in love and affection more, much more, than you had known such a little person could carry.

Hanna is

And I am grateful every single day that she is.

Momma loves you.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Spring Needs

This afternoon while the cookie dough rested in the fridge before we carefully spooned it in to our mouths, and eventually some small piles onto a cookie sheet, Hallie and I wrote poems about spring. Quite honestly, I wish I could claim hers as mine.  

Here is Hallie's:

Spring, spring,
Beautiful spring
Trees and flowers in bloom
It's so nice to see 
The whole world
Coming back to life
In spring

Here is mine:

Spring needs green 
Like I need chocolate
And she needs music
And he needs broken down cars
To tinker with
In all his
Unsold hours

And spring needs green
Like the birds need a nest
And bunnies need a burrow
And bees need a hive
To hide all
Their honey treasure

And spring needs green
Like the sky needs blue
And your eyes need brown
And my favorite sweater needs grey
With a spot
Of mustard on
The sleeve

Spring needs green
Like I need tulips
And bird song
And warm winds
And little buds holding
An infinite promise
Of spring

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Heather Turns Four and I Tell Stories

Heather actually, as you may know, turned four in February.  I have been saving these stories up and it is finally time to share them.   Some background on Heather, she is a tiny bite size of a person (my mother's words) and she has long blonde hair that flows perfectly straight down her back.  She dances through life, to the tune of songs that she makes up as she goes.

One day I was driving somewhere and she was, oddly enough, the only one in the car with me.  I don't think that has ever happened before, and I don't know why it happened on that day, which means it will probably never happen again.  But there we were, just me and my Heather.  She said, without preamble, "Mom, someday all of your kids will grow up and leave.  What are you going to do then?"

And my mind just burst wide open with all of the things I have thought about, and dreamed about doing when they "all grow up and leave".  So many plans and hopes and I didn't even know where to start.  I didn't want to seem overeager to have them all "grow up and leave", what if that made her sad?  I do enjoy this time with them most of the time... I thought quickly, and asked her back, "What do you think Mommy will do when you grow up and leave?"  She was quiet for a minute, and I peeked at her in the rear view mirror, her face thoughtful as she looked out the window at the trees rushing by.

I turned my attention back to the traffic just in time to hear her say, "I think you're going to die."

Well, that had not been on my radar at all as a topic of conversation but there we were.  I took a deep breath, and answered honestly. "Yep, I guess that's true, that's what all people do eventually.  But I hope you are really grown and big by the time that happens."

She thought that sounded like an okay plan.

One cold afternoon I was laying in bed all snuggled down the way I like to do from time to time, and my favorite is when one of the girls comes to find me and sneaks in bed with me and then we hunker down together against the cold grey dreariness of winter.  I closed my eyes and held her little body tightly against mine.  I felt more than heard her whisper, "Mommy?"
I mumbled a sleepy, "what?" in response.
She paused for a minute, and then began.  "Your face is perfect, mommy.  You have perfect eyes, and a perfect nose, and a perfect mouth, and perfect cheeks, and perfect ears.  I just love you, mommy."
How do you respond to that?  I don't know about you, but I think I cried, and then hugged her tighter, and told her she was perfect too.

One afternoon she was helping me make cookies.  She sat on the counter and dictated to me the proceedings very confidently, in the way a child that has helped to make cookies many, many times is able to do.  Of course she has her favorite moments in the process, and was eager to jump ahead to them.  "Can we put the chocolate chips in yet?" "Now can we?" "Isn't it time yet?"
I finally told her that she needed to be patient and stop asking about the chocolate chips, or go do something else.  She was quiet for half a breath and then said, very seriously, "Patient?  I don't think I know how to do that, mommy."

There was one night I had prepared a new meal for dinner.  It was ham and pineapple and green peppers served over rice (if I recall correctly), which isn't entirely new for our family, but the recipe was and it had been a while since we had had anything like it.  I was enjoying it immensely, and I thought the rest of the family was as well, as it was abnormally quiet at the dinner table which is usually a sign that mouths are too busy eating to be talking.  
Heather suddenly jumped up, and walking out of the room said over her shoulder to no one in particular, but as an announcement to the room at large, "Well, I'm done with that weird dinner." And then nonchalantly began to play with her toys.

And then, just now, even moments ago, I finally decided I had to write all these stories out because I never want to forget what Heather is like at four years old.  I had put her in bed twice already tonight, and was at the point of telling her that if she got up again and wouldn't sleep in her bed then she could sleep in the garage.  Devin and I were talking, getting ready for bed ourselves, because with our early wake up times we go to bed right after putting the girls in bed.  (I frequently fall asleep before they do). Heather came slowly trudging into our bathroom, and I said, "so the garage then?" And she answered with a scared look on her face, (as if I would ever actually do it, but their belief in it works for me), "No! I just need to tell daddy something."
"Ok, talk to him quick and then get yourself back in bed." I told her.
"Daddy, can I tell you something?" She said in her sweetest, softest, look I'm just a tiny little girl voice.
"I would rather hear it in the morning,  Can you tell me tomorrow?" Devin answered back in his "I'm the nicest daddy on the planet but I'm tired now and can you go to bed please" voice.
"No, because I have to tell you now because it's something you have to do in the night." She told him, very adamantly.
"Ok, fine, what?"
"You have to come snuggle me."
Well played, four year old.  Well played.
Happy birthday, Heather.  May four years old continue to work out for you as well as it has been.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Falling Asleep

Some idle thoughts as I was falling asleep last night, and they formed themselves like this:

Bow that has been strung too tight
Bird too long too long in flight

Wind that howls
Rain that weeps
Moon that bleeds

Let me sleep
Let me sleep
Let me sleep

Traveler without his path
Wraith without his wrath
Emptiness without shape or form
Can never be filled

And so am I
And so I am
Awake awake
Eternally awake
In a world that
Feels like dreaming.


So tell me now, don't hold back: what keeps you awake at night, prevents you from sleeping, and what do you do about it? 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hanna Turns Six and I Think

Hanna's birthday was a few weeks ago and in the days since then I have been thinking a lot about her, and life, and have generally been overcome with all kinds of emotion. There is exactly a week between Hallie's birthday and Hanna's and in that gap I went down to Texas to be with my family there and help out any way I could. The juxtaposition of going from a birthday for an eight year old, to spending a week with my dad, aunt and uncle who are all now grandparents, and my grandma who is 95, and then rushing back home for the birthday of a six year old made quite an impression on me. This is what my thoughts looked like:

This is what I do, 
And so I do it. 
Now sure if I am good at it,
I know surely I'm not bad. 
And this is what I do and so I do it. 
Those in my care can be noisy,
unpredictable,
and at times might even
appear
to be broken. 
But what I have is mine 
and I will always claim them.
When all of it comes crashing down
and there is more than I can hold
I tell myself once more,
This is what I do
And so I do it. 
I do it not for glory
or acclaim,
and for this job
few will praise my name. 
But this is what I do
And so I do it. 

I love you Hanna, thank you for giving me a job to do every day. Sometimes I think it is too much of a job for me, but then you are always there with open arms, and open heart.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Hallie Turns Eight and I Remember

I remember, and as I wander through the memories it feels as though I am not just remembering but living it again.  The years suddenly mean nothing and I remember how it felt.  All of me so raw and fresh and new -there was this sudden new part that I was to play in life, a new role that had been anticipated for nine months but not fully understood even as it was thrust literally into my arms.  Mother.

And there, that tiny body, those fingers and toes, those long thin arms and legs.  Those eyes that opened and took in the world and then, overwhelmed and confused, closed again.  This process repeated over and over until the lights weren't so shocking and the voices weren't so loud and the world began to come clearer to her eyes.

Her eyes that were so startlingly blue as a baby and then deepened and greened to the color of late autumn grass on a misty day.  Not quite brown, not quite green, you aren't quite sure what color you are seeing and so you look, and look again, and in the looking you decide you don't know what color they are, but you do know that it is peaceful, and quiet in those eyes.

I remember long dark nights, so many nights where she cried and I cried because I didn't know how to stop the crying and I didn't know if I could do anything at all, anymore.  I was terrified of the coming of nights, because each setting of the sun and long intervening hours broke me down, entirely, utterly, every piece of me torn apart and scattered.  Then, just at the peak of my despair, every morning the sun would rise up, and I would find a sleeping baby in my arms, and my own tears dried on my cheeks, and I would tell myself, "you can do this, because you have to." And somehow, I would.

And she never judged me, she never hated me as I hated myself all those times I didn't know what I was doing and wanted to give up, to quit, to walk away.  So I stayed, and she grew, and she helped me grow, too.

Happy Birthday, Hallie

As much as it is your birthday, I hope you don't mind if on this eighth one that has so much meaning for me, you will share it with me a little bit because in some ways it is my birthday too.  The birthday of my life as mother.  Thank you, Hallie, for being brave enough to be my first baby.  I love you so much.