tracking.

he started the night in his crib but around 2am he was wedged between us. by 6am yesterday he was tossing and turning. my body tensed, not wanting to make any movements that would bring him all the way out of his slumber. an hour passed. he rolled closer to me. the room still dark with a sun that rises later and later. he talked so softly, stopping every few minutes to sit up, and then gently lay his head next to mine.

among my google docs is one called tracking. it contains several years worth of tracking my cycles. and doctor visits. and medications. and symptoms. and expectations. and losses.

that tracking focused mostly on days. a day is such a small thing, and yet, the counting of those days brought sorrow and heartache.

when i was pregnant my tracking switched to weeks. those early and middle weeks dragged, full of anxious emotion and never-ending illness. at times 40 weeks seemed an impossible feat. the later weeks were filled with the babyo’s busy movements and our anticipation.

once asher arrived, we tracked his months and everything that filled them. i held fast to his brief time as an infant, but it passed us by despite our wanting to keep him small with his gummy smiles. each month made way for a new skill, or sound, or tooth, or movement.

today, we start tracking his years.

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we like to watch you laughing.

after we got married we’d constantly be asked how married life was going. the question would be asked so enthusiastically that i almost felt bad with my response. married life didn’t seem that different from dating life. except we got to be together all day and all night.

as the years added up, and it continued to just be the two of us, we’d frequently have to answer a new type of question. what do you guys do with all your free time? usually followed up with, i bet you sleep in every weekend!

in the absence of children our lives were different, our time was our own, but there was an emptiness and it was heavy.

when i look back on 2013 i refer to it as “the year i was sick”. so many things passed me by as i tried to survive the heavy fog of constant illness. one evening, when i was feeling a little better, christian surprised me with a night drive to sonic. {despite numerous commercials the nearest sonic is 30 miles away}.

we drove with the windows down, winding our way through black diamond, keeping an eye on the speed. the sun was still bright and it smelled like grass through enumclaw. as we started to pull in to buckley i began feeling pretty badly. should we stop? christian asked. no, it’s okay, i’ll be fine. i said. and then with urgency, pull over now!

before he could put the car in park i had undone my seat belt and was kneeling on the concrete over the gutter along main street. cars passing by and the windows of vacant homes looking on. up the road was a dingy little motel, and there was a woman walking toward us.

is she okay? the woman had a gravelly voice.

she’s expecting. christian called back.

the woman went inside and a minute later came back with a water bottle and some napkins. is this your first? that harsh voice again. we nodded and thanked her for her kindness. she smiled, and then said, you look like you’ll be amazing parents.

back in the car we pressed on to sonic which proved to be a mistake. i got to know the sonic bathroom better than i would have liked.

almost exactly a year later we made that same drive. this time with a little whopper in the back. he was in his jammies, watching everything zoom by through the open window. when we arrived he was very excited to be free of his car seat.

sitting in the front with us he shared our tater tots and ate bites of our hamburger buns. his arms made ninja-like swipes for our milkshakes. and we laughed. and we were happy. and i felt a kind of contentedness that i hadn’t before. this is what everyone else had been doing with their free time. this is what it was like to take a family outing. sleeping in on the weekend is really overrated. i would trade all my sleeping-ins for that one night with my little whopper – hearing him squeal at all the cars pulling in next to us and watching him try to grab my sandwich.
5.21.14…………………………
kids, mgmt

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we’ve come to the end of the road.

my first introduction to the garbage man was when christian was traveling for work. christian normally handles all trashlike duties so before his trip he double checked with me. i had just quit my job and i’d be home in the mornings.

are you going to remember to put the trash out tuesday?

yes. yes! of course i’ll remember.

and i did remember. i remembered while i was sitting on the couch, still in my pajamas, not wearing a bra, watching a show on the dvr. i remembered because i heard the garbage truck.

christian is very efficient with his garbage chores. monday night, no matter how late, he gathers up all the trash from throughout the house and rolls the can out to the curb.

i hadn’t done any of this. i lept off the couch and frantically grabbed the trash from the kitchen. as the garage door opened i could see the green and yellow of the truck. i dragged the empty trash can to the curb with the very full bag in hand.

and this is how i met the garbage man. crazy haired. pajamaed. bra-less. shoe-less. not prepared.

i first heard his booming laugh, much like a garbage santa, and then a boisterous, howdy!

he told me no worries! as i quickly put the bag in the can for him. he asked if we were liking our house, and about the work i had just quit. then, with a wave and smile he was off. i doubt i was the first disheveled housewife he’d encountered in all his years.

that night when christian called, he asked about the trash. i left out most of the details from my comical encounter that morning.

between then and now i’ve passed him in other neighborhoods, waved to him as i was running, waited for him to back out of our street so i could park, and most recently, sat on the front porch with little whopper to watch the whole trash process.

he is the kind of garbage man who sees eager children down the block and turns his truck into a fantastical creature. metal pincers clanking. the hopper raising up to the sky. the load being compressed and then a honk goodbye.

he is also the kind of man who steps off his truck, takes off his gloves, and talks to you.

so when our city council terminated its contract with waste management in favor of a new company, we were not the only household saddened.

after we got the news i handed him a box of cupcakes and he added it to other plates of goodies filling his cab. the sight of all that love made me so happy.

i still have one more week you know! he said. but i didn’t want to miss you! i told him.

last week his usual time came and went and i thought we had missed garbage man eric. we waited on the porch for a while before watching from an upstairs window. i finally decided to give asher a bath. by the time we were all dressed and ready for the day i heard the rumble of his truck.

eric was behind schedule because, this being his last day on our route after 11 years, he was stopping to say goodbye to every family and every child waiting to wish him well. children handed him cool drinks, folded up notes and hand drawn pictures. and he handed every child a gift in return.

in front of our house he stepped down, took off his gloves and said, let me grab his present.

oh you don’t have to, i protested. he’s so little.

nonsense. i already have his.

and that was that. we waved him off with heavy hearts as he clapped the pincers goodbye.

this tuesday morning is not the same. we have lost something great. eric was such an example of finding joy and purpose in what you do, no matter the task.garbage man eric

………………………………….
end of the road, boyz II men

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in the backyard, in the garden.

as soon as i sent out our new year’s letter  it was outdated.

why didn’t you wait to send that? christian asked, wearing his smelly, sun-faded backyard work clothes.

it was january 1st and he had things to do. specifically, repurpose wood from our fence and deck projects that had been taking up space in our garage. by the afternoon he had made me three garden boxes along the side of our house.

you just made these!? i was impressed. i think just how impressed i was may have hurt his pride.

a fourth box would join the others and we filled them up with all the zeal of amateurs.

cute rows of carrots planted too close together are yielding short stumpy things. similarly the beets are plenty and crowded. two-thirds of us used to like beats, but little whopper recently decided he was above the purple root.

the squash, zuccini and cucumber have intertwined in the confines of the smallest box and morphed into something out of little shop of horrors.

kale is coming out of our ears. i am more of a kale lite person. i prefer baby kale for pasta and salads and curly kale for kale chips (which are nothing like chips! christian reminds me). this kale, no matter how much i blend it for my smoothies tastes 100% like eating grass.

the peas took over the lattice. most of the vines dying from lack of adequate water.

the green beans and leeks never made their debuts.

the cilantro and arugula grew rapidly but didn’t quite look right.

we had lettuce and earwigs for days (the only thing i hate more is a cockroach). i was so petrified to clean the lettuce i used tongues and washed each piece individually.

our tomatoes have been the big shocker. tomatoes generally don’t do well in this region so we bought starter plants which have exploded. unfortunately, some birds are keen on stealing our crop before we can harvest them. we may be investing in a scarecrow this weekend.

for this city girl who doesn’t like the work part of yard work and hadn’t really ever gotten her hands dirty, it has been surprisingly rewarding to eat what we grow. but if i’m putting in some requests to the garden gods, i wouldn’t mind having a slugless, earwigless garden next year.

…………..
backyard; guster

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make your mother sigh.

he was sleeping on a nest of blankets while i got ready. i was nervous about being late for his first appointment. i gently picked him up, disturbing his baby slumber. i still wasn’t very good at getting him all strapped in to his car seat. his smallness intimidated me. i worried about hurting his arms or neck. christian loaded him in the car and i made sure we had everything and more stuffed in to the diaper bag.

the clinic doesn’t see very many newborns so the front desk girls were very excited. all checked in we sat near the fish tank. and then i suddenly realized my mistake.

in all my anxiousness and paying attention to the clock, i hadn’t once thought about what it meant to get ready with a baby. my hair and make up were done, but he, well, he was starving. while christian held up a blanket i fumbled through layers of clothes and nursing bra snaps. asher’s tiny baby cries got increasingly angrier. i began sweating as i tried to maneuver this four-day old baby. just as he latched on a nurse called his name.

the visit was longer than i expected. he was down 12 ounces from his birth weight and he also needed a follow-up on some jaundice concerns. but he was hungry and his mom hadn’t even thought about waking him up to eat before we left.

that heal prick did me in.

because he was dehydrated the blood did not run. it did not flow. it didn’t even trickle. the phlebotomist massaged and squeezed his little foot and he screamed. a scream i had not heard yet, and rarely heard since. i stroked his head and couldn’t stop the tears.

i cried the whole way home. he soon forgot why he was so mad. nursing was much easier without a waiting room full of people. and without hiding behind a blanket. and that afternoon on my couch, without a shirt.

……………………………………………..
cry baby cry, the beatles

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when you sleep.

the night asher was born i did not sleep. with his perfectly swaddled little self resting against my knees i just stared.

christian likes to ask me what he is dreaming about. in the very beginning, with all their newness, what are their dreams made of? what makes faint smiles cross their lips?

at just a few days old he did not like his arms to be held captive. he’d sneak those arms out and casually prop them behind his head. he also slept in his crib back then.

around five months everything changed. he’d sleep on us or in our bed – but not his crib. we obliged and then enabled but honestly i didn’t put up much of a fight. the instant we lowered him into our bed he would immediately turn to us. he’d reach for us with a frantic desperation. clutching our clothes and hair, he’d burrow in and fall into a peaceful sleep.

his breathing between us stole my heart.

and then he gradually stole our bed.

that burrowing is long gone. traded in for tossing and turning. rolling until he is comfortable. arms flapping against our faces, feet kicking our sides.

i wake up to his little chatter before he either plows over me or attempts to scale our headboard.

however long and rough the night, his morning smile melts me.  except for last week. last week i was having an awful nightmare. someone dumped snake-lizards all over me (think raiders of the lost ark). the more i struggled the more they spread. i tried to scream but had no voice. the snake-lizards started eating into my stomach. i fought to get away.

i woke up and was startled to realize the snake-lizards were actually little whopper’s feet.

we may need to rethink this sleeping arrangement.

…………………………..
when you sleep; cake

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hope for a better world.

tonight i sang little whopper to sleep with easter songs. jesus shines brighter, jesus shines purer and brings to all the world his love. asher watched me closely through the next verses and i thought on how exactly he makes our sorrowing spirits sing.

i have not been filling this space, but i have been scratching down notes, and thoughts, and essays elsewhere… all of which are patiently waiting for my retro journal project to be complete. it has been harder than i expected. not the remembering, but the reliving. as i’ve immersed myself in certain months and years of my past, i’ve had to step away. take a break. let go of whatever pain or hurt was plaguing me then. in retro journal time i am still wading through the pain and heartache of 2010.

this past easter sunday we reflected on what we can do, because of him. i can have hope. while working on my journal tonight i remembered hope was important to me in the aftermath of that first lost pregnancy. throughout that year i had been working with my young women to complete a challenge we had given them of reading the entire book of mormon. when i concluded the book of mormon that year i found myself drawn to ether. (so much so that i may have tried to convince christian that it was a reasonable baby boy name last year). at our activity to wrap up the book of mormon challenge i spoke. these were my words:


The message of the Book of Mormon to me, is one of Hope.

A hope, that God hears our prayers and will answer and protect us. A hope, that despite how hard and long the journey, we will eventually arrive at our personal promised lands. A hope that even in our darkest hour, we are not alone. A hope, that we will be freed from our private captivities. A hope, that no matter what the mistake, our sins can be washed clean through the atonement of Christ. Ultimately, it speaks of our hope to live again. This kind of hope, along with faith, helps us overcome fear, discouragement and worry. This kind of hope leads us to peace, rejoicing and gladness.

Love. Healing. Help. Hope. The power of Christ to counter all troubles in all times—including the end of times. That is the safe harbor God wants for us in personal or public days of despair. That is the message with which the Book of Mormon begins, and that is the message with which it ends, calling all to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.” (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Safety for the Soul,” 2009)

The Book of Mormon tells the story of two different civilizations that both were destroyed through wickedness. The Nephites and the Jaredites should have had very different endings. They had the truth. They were followers of Christ. By the end raging wars killed off the people, leaving lone prophets to chronicle their story for us.

We recognize Ether for writing of the Brother of Jared at the time of the tower of Babel. We remember how he asked the Lord to touch stones – believing that the power of His touch could illuminate them, giving light to the barges as they crossed the ocean. Ether was the last Jaredite prophet. He devoted his whole life to the cause of the Savior. Through all the devastation – Ether writes of hope:

Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God. (Ether 12:4)

Ether could have written a very different journal entry. But he chose the promise of hope, that eventually, he would see a better world.

The prophet Mormon shares a lot with Ether. After watching his people kill one another, he gives the sacred records he had kept to his son, Moroni. In one of his last letters to Moroni, he relates some of the horrors of battle. It is sad and depressing stuff. But a particular verse jumped out at me:

My son, be faithful in Christ; and may not the things which I have written grieve thee, to weigh thee down unto death; but may Christ lift thee up, and may his sufferings and death, and the showing his body unto our fathers, and his mercy and long-suffering, and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever. (Moroni 9:25)

Even when Mormon faced death, and knew his son would be left alone – he didn’t waste time complaining. What did he do? He acknowledged the hard things, but he didn’t focus on them. He asks his son to be faithful, to not wallow in grief and most importantly to hope in the glory of Christ.

Each of us has our own private battles raging. Life’s problems and dark, heavy things —— Satan uses despair to bind our hearts and minds in suffocating darkness. But we know better. We trust that the Lord will fulfill his promises to us. Despite the current chapter in our lives, because of Christ’s sacrifice, the ending will exceed our expectations.

“We live in a world of uncertainty. For some, there will be great accomplishment. For others, disappointment. For some, much of rejoicing and gladness,.. For others, perhaps sickness and a measure of sorrow. We do not know. But one thing we do know. Regardless of what the future holds, there stands the Redeemer of the world, the Son of God, certain and sure as the anchor of our immortal lives. He is the rock of our salvation, our strength, our comfort, the very focus of our faith” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, “We Look to Christ,” 2002).

“For the love of the son of God pierces all darkness, softens all sorrow and gladdens every heart” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Infinite Power of Hope,”  2008).

Elder Holland said that when we are confidently obedient, we are exercising our faith toward experiences in the future, the unknown. Mountain-moving faith like that of the brother of Jared precedes the miracle and the knowledge. He had to believe before God spoke. He had to act before the ability to complete that action was apparent. Faith is to agree unconditionally—and in advance—to whatever conditions God may require in both the near and distant future (Jeffrey R. Holland; Christ and the New Covenant [1997], 18–19).

We increase our hope much the same way we increase our faith, by small steps. One decision at a time. We need not fear (Luke 12:32). We need to be still (Psalms 46:10). We need to remember (D&C 90:24).

Ether concludes his writings by asking us to seek this Jesus (Ether 12:41). Moroni echoes his predecessor and invites us to come unto Christ (Moroni 10:30-32).


and here i was tonight, singing to a quickly growing boy about that very jesus.

a boy i didn’t know i would be able to have, but that i hoped for in 2010.

and 2011.

and 2012.easter 2014

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