Friday, April 30, 2010

A Pretty War Protest

Gracie used her sparkly blue ballpoint pen
and made me an anti-war protest sign...

... so I used a bright blue upcycled t-shirt
and made her an anti-war protest dress.

See? Those are little "chill pills" dropping on the Middle East.

Controversial? Probably.
Cute? For sure.

This was my first attempt at stitching knits. I used a modified Sienna pattern from Little Blue Boo. I had to increase the overall size of the pattern since Ashley's sizes run from 6 months to 6 years and my seven-year-old is in the body of someone aged ten to eleven. I also modified the neck line of this particular dress and made a braided tank instead of a dress with sleeves. A fun and simple project and a nice surprise for Gracie, but for my next trick I need a jersey needle and a free-form foot for my machine. Time for a run to the fabric store!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

On Puffs, Black Beans and a Self-Feeding Baby

Brystol is a big fan of self-feeding. She's quite the independent little lady, and while she'll still let me feed her most things, she's really enjoying the opportunity to do things on her own. She has a fat little spear-shaped spoon that she's able to get into her mouth. She doesn't really scoop on her own yet, but if I scoop up the gruel, she can get it into her mouth.

Baby puffs are standard around these parts, but Brystol also loves to eat whole black beans. While other beans are still too firm, black beans are soft when served straight out of the can and easy for a baby mouth to mash. They're especially delicious when eaten off your arm or your pants. As a bonus, black beans make a spectacular mess.

No matter what's on the menu, making a mess is key...

... it guarantees a bath in the sink!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Three Years Later: Living Now

"We find a place for what we lose.
Although we know that after such a loss
the acute stage of mourning will subside,
we also know that a part of us shall remain inconsolable
and never find a substitute.
No matter what may fill the gap,
even if it is completely filled,
it will nevertheless remain something changed forever..."

-- Sigmund Freud (1856 - 1939)

It's been three years since Zachary was born and died. Three long and crazy, up and down, painful and joyful life-living years. We've taken up projects. We've taken vacations. We've had both challenges and celebrations in our marriage and as parents. We've had two more losses. We've had a baby. Life has indeed gone on, but to my heart, no time has passed at all since the day my body refused our son. The stagnancy of my heart in relation to the passage of time made this anniversary the most peculiar of all.

In a way that I'm sure was not meant to be insensitive, this year James asked if we'll always release balloons -- even on his 42nd birthday? Evidently, that's a lot of balloons. Moreover, the kids are confused about how they should feel when we all go out to celebrate their dead brother, though we specifically tell them feeling any way about Zachary's death, even feeling nothing at all, is absolutely fine. And it is fine, but it does hurt my heart when their "feeling nothing at all" turns into incessant requests to go to a restaurant for lunch, entirely disregarding what we're doing.

I don't know what we'll do to honor Zachary thirty-nine years from now. With my family history, there's a good chance I'll be in a grave of my own by then. Clearly, the future is entirely out of my hands. What I do know is if I'm living, I will do something. I won't let a day pass without recalling the child who changed me so. I do feel quite sure, though, that this year was the last year that we'll do something specific with the children (unless they ask to participate). Also, because he seems entirely ready to move on, this may be one of the last years I do something specific with James. We'll see...

As for this year, we recalled Zachary's birthday by taking the kids to a field near a lovely little church and cemetery where we talked about loss and grief and Zachary in particular, then we released three brightly-colored star balloons. Matthew insisted the strong winds were going to take them out, but they made their journey safely out of sight.

The rest of the day was spent in normalcy -- running errands, doing chores, having that lunch at a restaurant -- and to me, that felt terrible, discourteous. I felt like in many ways we dishonored our dead baby, and we dishonored that part of innocent me that died along with him, but what did I expect? Life has gone on and even our family -- the group of people most affected by this loss -- has stuff to do on a Sunday afternoon. Such division between yesterday and today! So challenging to contend with.

The next day, Monday, the anniversary of his death -- I spent that day almost entirely alone. James was at work and the Gracie and Bub were at school, so Brystol and I spent the day wandering around my favorite antique mall in near silence (Brystol ate puffs and napped, I wandered). That, for me, was a much better dealing-with-grief sort of day. I was able to sit in silence, reflect in peace, recall the events of that day and the days that followed without having to do or be anything for anyone else. I needed Monday. I also found a lovely sampler at the antique mall. It reads, "With this you see, remember me" -- a perfect reminder for recollection.

I haven't entirely figured out the right way to deal with this grief in light of my present life. Though friends have moved on and my family is moving forward, this deep sense of loss is still a part of my everyday. But, the past cannot be changed. This grief is part of my story, like it or not. I deal with it, I embrace it, I allow it to be woven into the fabric of my life without allowing it to be the sum of my life. Who, but God, knows what the next year will bring or how, when the day arrives, we'll honor the memory of the baby we never brought home. To quote Emerson, "With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future. I live now."

"Everyone can master a grief, but he that has it."
-- William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, Act 3, scene 2

"Given a choice between grief and nothing, I'd choose grief."
-- William Faulkner (1897 - 1962)

candle photo credit: punkmarko, other photos mine.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Baby Brystol at Nine Months

Brystol, Nine Months Old

At nine months, Brystol:
  • has visited ELEVEN states -- Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Georgia, Tennessee, Illinois, Wisconsin (though most she rode through or had a layover in)

  • weighs approximately 22 pounds -- I would have sworn she weighed more, but doing a little math on the scale proves otherwise

  • is *still* chubby -- double chin, big cheeks and fat rolls intact

  • is much to heavy for her infant car seat

  • will be in the convertible seat soon

  • is surprisingly tall for being so chunky

  • fits comfortably in 12 months outfits

  • wears size Large cloth and size 4 disposable diapers

  • crawls on all fours

  • chases the cat

  • tries to climb the stairs

  • is always on the go

  • pulls up on everything and can sometimes get back down on her own

  • will likely be walking VERY soon -- sigh.

  • fell out of her portacrib when the bottom slat shifted -- she did not cry, but began destoying a book instead

  • got her first boo-boos -- a bruise on her cheek and a scraped toe

  • has FOUR teeth -- two on bottom, two on top

  • puts everything into her mouth

  • still smiles all the time -- she is such a happy child!

  • only recently began laughing *at* people. Really, until this week, laughter was induced by tickling or some kind of physical play. Just this week, she began laughing at silly voices and noises and she often laughs at Bub for no reason at all

  • is quite vocal -- always "talking," babbling, and growling

  • says "DaDa," "Bubba," "GaGa" (Gracie), "MaMaMaMa" (but mostly when crying), and her own sort of "Night Night" which means either she's tired, wants to nurse, or both. She used to say her own sort of "Hi," but she's stopped. She calls the cat something indecipherable.

  • loves being worn in a sling or Mei Tai

  • rarely lets other people hold her, even for brief periods of time

  • still doesn't like to sleep alone

  • still will not sleep through the night, but wakes to nurse 2-3 times

  • won't take a bottle

  • tolerates sippy cups

  • would much rather drink from a regular cup with a regular straw

  • loves ice water

  • eats mixed grain cereals, fruit and veggie purees, YoBaby yogurt, banana chunks, steamed carrot chunks, whole black beans, mashed garbanzo beans, fruit bits in mesh feeders and lots and lots of puffs

  • enjoys self-feeding

  • will not wear socks or shoes

  • is super smart -- maybe too smart! (That, or we've grown more dull.)

  • is mastering the art of the temper tantrum

  • picks trouble over something she's allowed to do every.single.time.

  • is one of the loveliest children I've ever had the privilege of knowing

  • Laughing at "GaGa"

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Puff Thief

Eight-month-old Brystol pulling puffs out of my carry-on...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Getaway: Door County, Wisconsin

James had to visit a client on Washington Island in Wisconsin this week, so Brystol and I traveled with him and enjoyed three lovely days in Door County. We ate freshly-caught lawyer fish, cheese curds, and cherries (there are almost 50 orchards across Door County!). We wandered through the quaint villages and along the rocky beaches. While James worked, Brystol and I watched seagulls following a plowing farmer, we visited the woods at Mountain Park, and we admired the lovely limestone at School House Beach -- one of only five limestone beaches in the world.

The "Cape Cod of the Midwest," Door County is one of the top ten vacation destinations in North America, but only one short month ago, I had no idea Door County, Wisconsin even existed. Boy, have I missed out! We visited during the off-season -- a couple of weeks yet before the area really comes to life -- and even still, we enjoyed so many fantastic things -- nearly all that Door County had to offer. (I did miss out on some antiquing -- boo!) Truly, a beautiful and very relaxing work-week getaway!

Collage Images from top left to bottom right:
Snowmobile Crossing sign, Sturgeon Bay
Cedar Tree Roots in the Woods at School House Beach, Washington Island
Plowing Farmer/Feeding Seagulls, Washington Island
Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, Fish Creek
Stavkirke Prayer Path, Washington Island
Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, Fish Creek
Limestone Shore at School House Beach, Washington Island
Passenger Ferry Boat, Washington Island
St. Michael's Cemetery, Washington Island
Limestone Shore at School House Beach, Washington Island
Rocky Waters at the Marina, Sister Bay
Paddle Boat on Residential Inlet, Washington Island
Seagull on Pier, Egg Harbor
Winding Road to the Car Ferry, North Port
Mossy Tree Roots at Mountain Park Lookout Tower, Washington Island
The Stairway to Mountain Park Lookout Tower, Washington Island
The Diving Raft at School House Beach, Washington Island
Sunset on the Marina, Sister Bay
Blue Crab Claw, Egg Harbor
Farmhouse, Sturgeon Bay
Egg Harbor Beach near the Alpine Resort, Egg Harbor

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Bub's Baby Shirt and the Anatomy of an Escape

Brystol is full-on crawling now and she'd rather be mobile than not. As you can imagine, snapping a photo is a true challenge. Here she is wearing one of the first shirts we put on Bub when he came to us at nine-months-old. We loved this funny shirt on him and we love it on Brystol, but she did not love the sitting still for us to memorialize the occasion of her wearing it.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival

Springtime is a great time for outdoor festivals. Today, our family enjoyed the Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival. We listened to some good music, ate some interesting food, and saw some amazing art -- including some wire sculpting and photography techniques we're excited to try at home.

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