Monday, October 31, 2011

Hallow's Eve

October 31, 2001- The moon sat full in a bed of foggy clouds, lingering over us as my family and I exited off Hwy 85 and pulled the big Ryder moving truck into a parking lot to look at our map and figure out where we were going (literally and figuratively). I was 15 years old, a Sophomore in High School. We had just arrived to a place called Lawrenceville, Georgia. Coming from the west coast I had imagined this place was as southern as I saw in the movies. A place where grown men commonly wore overalls, women you just met called you "honey" as if they 'd known you your whole life,  and everyone owned a pair of cowboy boots. I wasn't too far off either. 

I didn't know what to make of it. Being welcomed to our new home by a full moon on Halloween night seemed rather bewitching. I now know that the parking lot we pulled into to look at our map was the parking lot of the store where Zack (also a 15 year old sophomore at the High School down the rode from where I would go) was about to start his first job, though I wouldn't meet him for another three years. So, as the enchantment of Halloween fell upon us, maybe the magical wands were indeed at work! A girl born in Arizona. A boy born in Alabama. And somehow we would end up sitting next to each other in Philosophy class in Georgia, our attention to the subject distracted by a game of  "Hang Man" and discussions on the music of Led Zeppelin, unaware of our fateful role together.
October 31, 2005-Our first Halloween together- 19 yrs. old

Ten years ago I couldn't imagine my life would be what it is today. As a twenty-five year old woman married to a man who seemed to magically drop into my life at the perfect time holding an invisible sign saying "made especially for you" and mother to a little girl made somewhere deep within the dwelling of Heaven, I am reminded on a daily basis of what it means to truly live. I have been blessed with the opportunity to deeply and honestly love and be loved. It almost scares me to imagine what my life would be if I hadn't moved here, hadn't met Zack, hadn't made the decision to spend my life with him. 

This Halloween, as I light the candles, hang my lanterns, open my windows to the enthralling trance of the whipping wind, and feast on dinner in a pumpkin, I'll remember the past ten years. I'll be reminded of what each year taught me and how it led me to where I am, how it's revealed and strengthened who I really am and how it's brought me to my husband and daughter, how it's brought me Home.
Daddy's little yellow jacket (though she looks more like a sweet honey bee to me)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Old Books, Relevant Stories

A couple of years ago for Christmas my mom gave me a big gift bag full of used books from the thrift store. It's one of the best gifts I've ever been given. Right now I'm reading one of those books, a biography on Florence Nightingale. Her life and story and who she was as a person is fascinating. She grew up in a well-to-do family in England, traveled the world, lived a life of ease and luxury. She was a beautiful, educated, highly intelligent, independent minded, "polished" woman. But she was chronically unhappy and unsatisfied. She describes having "dreams" in the strangest moments, like in the middle of a conversation, and compares these "dreams" to the visions a psychedelic drug user might encounter. She was severely bored with every day life. 

Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of her story to me is that she claims to have heard the voice of God speaking to her. When she was seventeen years old God spoke to her, calling her to his service. She spent the next several years trying to determine what "service" she was to perform to fulfill her calling. She finally settled on Nursing and kept her plans of pursuit secret for another several years. When she finally made public her purpose, her family bluntly objected which was as expected, for a lady tends to the home and the attentions of society life, not lowering herself to the dirty work and environment of looking after poor, sick wretches.  With all the barriers preventing her from carrying out her plans to nurse she punished herself internally, settling that the reason for this must be because she was too sinful (bearing a desire for approval and praise) and needed to purify herself in order to be good enough for God to use her. Her story strikes two chords in me:

1-The whole "I heard the voice of God" thing is intriguing. Though I believe that God must in some way "speak" to people figuratively, one might argue that someone who claims he speaks to them literally may in fact be a little mad. I don't doubt the possibility to hear God's voice, but one might argue that such a person may have a mental ailment, allotting them this kind of experience. We name these people prophets and holy, admiring their "gift". There is a comparison though between this type of person who hears voices telling them to do good things and a person who hears voices telling them to do bad things to whom we name evil and cursed. Are not both insane nonetheless? Regardless, I can't help but feel inspired by Miss Nightingale. 

2-What must it be like to have such a passion and devotion to something that you spend your entire life in agony trying to find and once you do find it you abandon everything in its honor. And furthermore, it's the only thing that brings you peace and enjoyment and in it's absence you are on the verge of lunacy. It's amazing how intensely focused and disciplined she was when faced with what seemed to be hopeless set backs. 

Her desire to nurse was not only looked down on by her family. Even the doctors she began to work around when finally admitted to tend to the sick and wounded of the Crimean War did not allow her to help in any way. She was exposed to thousands of soldiers sick and wounded, witnessing amputations without the use of anesthetics, rampant disease spread, arduous lice infestations, piles of bodies fighting to survive in heaps of their own blood and other bodily fluids, with no bandages, no medicine, no food, no linens, no beds, no warmth, among other necessities. And the doctors on the scene were too proud and ignorant to allow her to help. For days she stood aside and watched with a full team of able and eager nurses as countless men poured through the hospital doors until she was finally permitted to assist due to overwhelming circumstances. She was dedicated, not the the profession of nursing, but to the people who needed aide. As it was her first real experience of independence and nursing (and in a terrifying environment mind you), it was the first time in her life that she was truly happy. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Cozy Afternoon Treat

Today is a perfect day for dessert coffee and Elle! I recently discovered that Coffee-Mate makes a Pumpkin Spice creamer. Pumpkin Spice creamed coffee topped with whip cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon, a fashion/beauty magazine, and freshly painted nails and I'm a happy girl. My mom came over to see Iris which allotted me time for a non-rushed shower and enjoy a self administered facial and manicure. 

I'm obsessed with Sally Hansen's Diamond Strength polishes and am loving this color for the season. Tyin' The Knot. Warm polish colors for cooler weather are my favorite and it's definitely cold outside these days! So cold in fact that I think this weekend calls for a crackling fire, a glass (or two) of red wine, and introducing Iris to Jack White via "It Might Get Loud" AND "Under Great White Northern Lights". Maybe I can even talk Zack into dusting off his guitar so we can play some old tunes. Maybe.

Monday, October 17, 2011


This weekend the community we live in held its annual Balloon Fall Festival. We rose before the Sun, bundled our little pumpkin spice, and picked up coffee and egg McMuffins as we headed to watch hot air balloons rise and float off into the crisp Autumn sky. Iris even wore her balloon and parachute jammies for the occasion :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

FALLing For You

As I stepped onto our back deck this morning to have my coffee and cuddle with Iris I was taken back by the scene. It seemed the blazing blush of Autumn's touch had grazed the trees overnight and presented itself in such a way that I had never noticed before. Maybe it was due to dreary weather: the softening effect of the clouds or the way a good rain can leave a place feeling heavier than normal. Perhaps it was watching Iris see it for the first time. 

She strained her eyes open then steadied them, so still and fascinated that I turned to look at what she saw. But I couldn't see it. It was a graceful greeting meant only for her. A quiet conversation between eternity and this moment that only she could hear. So I looked a little closer, paying attention to the details so as to acknowledge something I'd been missing. It was a sight I've seen a hundred times, but none till now have known the significance a leaf can hold while falling from the tree its grown.

Witnessing my daughter experience Fall for the first time, seeing things with brand new eyes, perceiving her surrounding in her own way, I feel like I am too. She's like falling in love everyday. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

First Day Of My Life

Iris Kathleen - September 4, 2011

It's been one month since our daughter was born and I'm still trying to grasp that she's here, so alive, breath taking, and completely her own little person. 

The day before her birth I woke up early and spent the whole day cooking meals to freeze and have later for when she arrived (presumably the following week or later). Zack and I went to Chilis for dinner with his parents and I felt completely normal and happy as I ate my greasy chicken crispers and watched the football games they had playing. When I went to bed that night I thought of what I would do the next day: mop, vacuum, finish the laundry. I woke up about 2:00am as Zack came through the bedroom door, "I got up to take Tylenol PM because for some reason I can't sleep," he said sounding almost concerned. We both dozed off shortly after that but about thirty minutes later I woke up again feeling what I thought might be a very mild contraction. I brushed the feeling off thinking it would go away. But it didn't. And the feeling of what I "thought" might be contractions started getting closer together. So I got up around 4:00am and took a shower. I went downstairs with three objects: a pen and paper to track my contractions and tweezers to pluck my eyebrows in the meantime. I sat down and another contraction started so I wrote down the time and duration. As I was plucking my eyebrows the next one came on but before I could write down the time my water broke!

As you can imagine, I was shocked. I wasn't even sure if what I was feeling were real contractions. A sudden rush of anxiety ran over me as I realized what was happening: It was show time but we were still a good hour away from the hospital; And my water just broke which meant pain was about to arrive. I yelled upstairs to Zack but he was asleep. I ran upstairs, opened the door and proclaimed, "Babe, my water just broke!" Before he opened his eyes he jumped out of bed, turned on the light, grabbed the bags for the hospital, and said, "Call the doctor" all in one fluid motion.

We were the only car on the highway since it was 5:30am on a Sunday morning. The contractions were  progressively getting more intense and closer together. I mean really close together. I looked over at Zack, "Are you okay? Are you worried we won't make it because my contractions are so close? Are you sure you're okay to drive since you took Tylenol PM?" He stayed calm and reassured me, "Everything is going to be fine." And then chuckled, "and believe me, the Tylenol PM has no affect now, I'm very awake." I replayed what we learned in our birth classes: relax muscles and breathe through each contraction, but instead gripped the handle above the passenger window as I wiggled around until each one passed. Zack tried to talk me through them by reminding me to breathe then finally said, "Be honest, don't you just want to punch our birthing coach lady in the face right now?" And I did. She was wrong about two things. 1- it's impossible to relax through contractions, and 2- just because it's your first baby doesn't mean you have "plenty of time" to get to the hospital.

We got to the hospital just in time. As they were about to administer the epidural they asked me if I even wanted it because it was time to push. I did. 

At 7:46am I heard the sweetest little whimper of a cry. She was here. A week early. Only 5 total hours of labor. I couldn't help but feel that she was almost as excited about her life as I was. Its as if she has a purpose and is wasting no time.

Iris Kathleen - 1 month

It's been 1 month since that day. Though this past month has flown by, it feels like she's always been here. And in a way I guess she has. She has so much of her Daddy in her from the way she looks to her disposition. She's a very special girl and I've felt this from the beginning. She is a quiet learner, always observing her surroundings. She only cries when she needs something. And my favorite thing of all: she loves to cuddle and be shown affection. Every day she gets cuter, smarter, funnier, and more beautiful. She is the embodiment of goodness and truth. A perfect definition of love.