Saturday, November 12, 2011

Words, Words, Words

The other day I happened to scroll through my history of online activity and realized that all, ALL of it for the last six months was baby-related. Including this blog, which has been nothing but baby gurgles since Hunter's advent! That might possibly have something to do with the fact that since the sixth of July, my life has been nothing but baby gurgle. Baby gurgle and flour-soft baby skin and downy dollops of duck-fuzz hair and liquid blue eyes and wiggly monkey toes and lots and lots of dirty diapers.

Babies are a lot of work!

Sorry to all you moms who just snorted your coffee all over the place, but yes, that actually was a surprise to me. I did not expect the intense level of total involvement a baby needs! Granted, Hunter has a fairly high-maintenence personality, is easily bored and prefers lots of face-to-face interaction (he takes after his daddy in more than looks), plus special needs subtracts from your available time, but still! Of course, it doesn't help that I have the cutest baby in the world and I very much enjoy bragging about him.

Anyway, hope everyone likes constant baby updates.

(insert flurry of baby pics)

The only non-baby thing in my life at the moment is NaNoWriMo – which YES I was insane enough to attempt. I can see right now this ain't gonna be a 100K year. Won't be 50K either. Heck, I probably won't type my way to 25K. I knew that before I rattled out the first word, though. And it's not the point. This year NaNo is about me starting to write again.

Writing is a lot of work!

Don't be snorty this time. Writing didn't used to be work. 2009 I happily typed out 100K + and had a ball the entire time. Somewhere in the insanity of 2010 my deep, delicious resevoir of words which I took for granted dried up. Words don't wash through my mind like the waves of Lake Superior anymore. Now they hide out behind palm trees scattered in a very dry desert. I stalk them endlessly, frustrated and tired before I catch a half dozen. I found my pair of Vision Decoders the other day, which are a magic invisible pair of spectacles which, while worn, allow the wearer to constantly process what they see into words. I'm so excited at wearing them again! When you subconsciously convert life into words, everything is so much MORE – because you have to think about what's happening. You have to become conscious of the temperature of the wind, of the smells it carries, of the feel of it when it hits you. You have to taste all the flavors in the bite of marinated chicken, biting cautiously to determine texture and consistency. You have to really look at a sunset, discovering all the colors of the rainbow in the strip of last light over the ocean.

Even though the words rarely make it to paper (or the computer screen, for that matter) they're back in my life.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Happy Realization

I sat at the dining table the other day, munching down on an egg-yolk-soaked bagel, when I stopped with the bread an inch from my mouth. I wasn't sad. The realization made me stand up in excitement. I wasn’t sad! I was having an ordinary morning! And I hadn’t though about Down Syndrome for hours.

It’s the strangest thing. No, I certainly haven’t forgotten about Hunter having DS. I research many times a day, looking for therapy ideas, nutritional intervention, any way to make his life easier and better. (I’ve found some extremely hopeful ideas too!) But my outlook on it has changed completely in the last four weeks.

I think I’ve really accepted it, for one thing. Hunter does have Down Syndrome. I believe, for a while in the back of my mind I still thought the test was wrong. Now though, I can recognize it in him: in the almond-shaped eyes, the insignificant brows the mild low tone in his upper body. (He has no other physical features.) The amazing thing is that instead of being dismayed, I’m ok with it. I actually think the facial features make him cuter! He is exceptionally cute, anyway: people who have no idea of his Ds comment that he’s the cutest baby they’ve seen. Even artists comment on the perfection of his features.

I still remember the day I really saw the DS in him. I also remember my emotion. Not fear or repulsion or sadness. Instead, it was a sort of relief. Oh. He does have some features of Down syndrome. So what? I still love him. He’s still super cute.

(As a side note, I’m delighted to discover that the DS stereotype look is just that: a stereotype. People with Ds are all shapes and sizes and heights and weights and levels of beauty or handsomeness, just like typical people.)

This is not to say that I love Down syndrome. In fact, I hate it. I know it’s going to make life harder for my son. I don’t for a moment think that chromosome and all its troubles defines who my son is. He is Hunter, who happens to have Down syndrome, just like he might have had spina bifida or cerebral palsy. I’m excited at the research being made to alleviate many symptoms of Ds. I’m thrilled that there are many ways to help already and that there will be breakthroughs in Hunter’s lifetime.

I don’t love Ds. But I do love my son, and I’m ok with it. I still have moments of panic, but they’re related more toward my fear of not doing enough to help him. Those gut-wrenching, heart-stopping moments of devastating sadness, why my son? why this heartbreak to us? are almost completely gone.

I can’t believe we’ve come so far. I credit it first and foremost to God, secondly to my husband, and thirdly to family and friends, new and old, who offer unconditional support, humor, advice, and cheering. And beyond them, I credit it to this wiggly, demanding, incredibly cute bundle of personality named Hunter.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I'm Driving My Son Crazy

"Hi Mom!"

"Are you taking photos of me again?!"

"I hate it when you point that thing at me!"

"Fine. I just won't be cute. NOT. CUTE. AT. ALL."

"Maybe I can sneak off when she's not looking..."


"Fine. I'm just going to sulk."

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Can You Say "STRESS!!"

Life has been a bit stressful lately. Translate “a bit” “as insanely outrageously” and you’ve got an idea of what I’m saying.

Why? Where to start!

First of all, the Jeep (our only vehicle) decided to break down last week in every way a vehicle can break down, with a grand finale of a blown engine. This dandy development means we are vehicle-less for at least a month. Now, please understand. This is not quite as desperate a case as if we were still living in the wilds of Wisconsin, where a vehicle is the only thing between you and starvation. (Unless you can walk 30 miles. One way. Or enjoy raw venison with a side of toadstools.) Tanner can get to work. I can (with effort) get to the grocery store. But that is it. No beach. No library.

Cabin fever, anyone? The temperature is rising.

Add work problems, post-partum depression, and a cancelled vacation to that, and you got stress.

The real extent of the stress slammed home to me the other day when I woke in the night, reached over to touch Hunter, and found his little body limp to my touch. Panicked, I grabbed him, only to have his flaccid body slip like water through my hands. He fell into my lap like a ragdoll. Every muscle was loose. Even his toes were floppy! And his breathing was so shallow that I stayed up until daylight, watching to make sure he didn’t turn blue.

By daylight, Hunter had awakened, demanded food, and seemed to have returned to normal. Not taking that for granted, we borrowed a car and ran him to the pediatrician, who send us to the ER with a script for “life threatening events.” If you’ve never been handed a piece of paper which says that your child has experienced a Life Threatening Event, I hope you never are. There’s an odd sort of panic that slowly clenches around you until you want to race to the nearest doctor with your (perfectly normal-appearing) baby in your outstretched arms yelling “DO SOMETHING!!!”

Anyway, long story short, the ER folks were clueless as to what had caused the incident. The doctor’s best guess was that he had been suffering from long-term stress and had gone into a deep comatose sleep to recover.

My stress was hurting my baby.

Mommy guilt is a horrible, stomach-wrenching, chest-hurting emotion.

The next day MonkeyMan had his first therapy appointment. He was very sleepy, so he didn’t perform anywhere near as well as he could have. However, the therapist (an awesome lady!) still scored him very high on attention span and cognitive ability. She confirmed that he had low tone in his shoulders/neck but fairly good tone everywhere else. (I’m now OCD about tummy-time, much to Hunter’s annoyance.) She also commented that he showed significant signs of stress (hiccupping, hyperventilating,, etc).

More guilt. Now I’m stressed about being stressed. Lovely.

Is there a bright side to all this? I don’t know, I’ll say something if I find one.

Oh wait, I just did. He’s curled up next to me, watching my type with big blue eyes. One corner of his mouth is quirked in a half-smile as he wiggles his feet in my lap.

My little munchkin makes every day a little brighter.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Since my super-active boy's diagnosis was first rumored, I've heard about the negativity that I, as a parent, will face in the world of special-needs. Up until now, I praisefully report I haven't heard a whisper of it!

But today, while researching online, I ran across some comments that made me angry. No, not angry - DROP DEAD GUT-FURIOUS! I truly wanted to kill those people.

I have never felt that way before. I don't know exactly why my reaction was so strong - the people were obvious idiots and their commentary was unbelievably stupid - but I literally wanted to kick them, punch them, and beat them into a bloody pulp.

Not just for my son, but for every person, special needs or otherwise, who has become the target of cruelty. Who cares if someone is different? Skin color, body shape, weight, accent, disabilities - stop being scared of the difference! Step outside your sugar-cookie world and take time to discover how yummy gingerbread is.

The emotion of rage is still bubbling inside me. It's scary. It's not pretty. And I pray that I never run into such cruelty in real life - because I don't think I could control myself.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Our Super-Special Boy

On July 6, 2011, a brand-new person was born into the world. At 5:35 pm, sweaty and exhausted from labor, I became this person's mother. I remember looking down at the birth-wet, purply-crumpled face of my son and thinking, the hard part's over.

Little did I know the hard part hadn't even begun.

I only got to hold Hunter for a few seconds after he was born. Snip went the cord and whisk went my baby, as the nurses hurried him to an incubator next to my bed. “Wait, I want to hold him!” I said.

“We've got some tests to run, you can hold him soon,” the nurses said.

Tests, I thought. Apgar scores and such. And not holding him was part and parcel of a hospital delivery – not what I'd wanted, but I had no choice. Tanner left my side and hurried to wrap his hands around our baby. We'd discussed this earlier, and it was important that Hunter would be in physical, loving contact with at least one of his parents for every second.

The doctor (who'd completely missed the Hollywood-drama delivery) came in about then, and set about stitching my tears and examining me. The adrenaline bled from my body, leaving black spots in my vision and a wooly feeling in my brain. I kept my head turned toward the incubator, where I could barely glimpse my baby's form between the green scrubs of the nurses.

“I love you, Hunter,” I called. “He's all right, isn't he?”

He's fine. We just need to run tests.

Okay. All right. I sank into the fuzzy warmth of post-labor and barely paid attention to the nurses' murmured request for a neonatologist. I was too happy. Tanner stood by the baby, grinning through the tears running down his face. “Thank you,” he whispered to me. “He's perfect. Thank you.”

I'm not sure how much time passed. Tanner left for a while to get food and let our dog out. The nurses came in and told us our room was almost ready. All I wanted to do was scoop my baby out from the heat lamp and nuzzle him close.

Tanner came back, with a white rose and a big smile. He kissed me, then moved over to the baby. “Have they let you hold him yet?”

At that moment the door opened and the neonatologist came in. Quietly, he did the appropriate pokes and prods.

I reached out to touch Hunter's foot. “Can I hold him now?”

The doctor said some thing about tests.

“What tests?” I finally asked.

The doctor turned to face me, blinked twice, and said, “There's a strong probability that--”

That's when I started to cry. Because in that split second, I knew. I don't know how. The possibility had never crossed my mind. But I knew, oh God I knew.

“--your baby has Down Syndrome.”

In the silence I heard the endless icy tinkle of shattered glass.

Life as we knew it ended. That brief blissful moment of unspoiled joy was gone before we fully knew it had come.

What does one do when they're told their child has Down Syndrome? We went on with life. Scared. But hoping against hope, in that week before the test came back. With Hunter hope was so easy. He's a strong baby, crazily active like he was inside me. He had no heart problems, no obvious physical features. He responded to my voice and touch and tracked my face with his beautiful blue eyes.

We hoped.

One week later the hospital called. They had the results and were faxing them over to our pediatrician. Tanner stepped outside to get better reception. I sat on the sofa with Hunter in my lap, white-knuckling the sofa pillows. Please God. Please God please God please.

It would be negative, right? It had to be.

The door opened. Tanner came inside, his eyes shiny, his chin puckered like a peachstone. “It was positive,” he said. “He has Downs. But it doesn't matter. We love him.”

I cried. And cried and cried and cried.

It's a week today since we heard. It's funny how many times your life can change in seven days. We've said goodbye to our dreams. We've let the little boy we imagined fade back into unreality – because we have to, because we must welcome instead the little boy who is.

And we love that little boy! We held him through the tears and kissed his fuzzy blond head and told him how much we wanted him.

In the last seven days I've plumbed my soul to the bottom, searched every crevice of myself for strength. For answers. For understanding.

And I've realized you can't live your life in fear of the future. Life is scary. We never know what's around the corner. It could be cancer. A car accident. A heart attack. Betrayal. Loss.

We don't spend our lives worrying about those things. We acknowledge their possible existence, and then return to the present. That, I know, is what we must do with Hunter. Being his parents isn't going to be easy. It's going to be sad at times. It's going to be scary at others.

But such is parenthood. And that's all in the future, in the unknown. Right now, he's a gorgeous little bundle of babyhood. Tomorrow, he'll be an adorable toddler, scooting around the floor and giving us gummy smiles. Then he'll be a cute little boy running through the grass catching toads with me.

That's the future I'm focusing on.


I got a poem in the mail the other day, sent in a package of DS information from the hospital. In it, the author likens the experience of becoming a special-needs parent to a traveler who has dreamed their whole life of going to Italy. They have the guidebooks, they know where they're going and what they will see. They get on the plane, thrilled and excited – but instead of going to Italy, they land in Holland. They're shocked, hurt, upset, until they discover that Holland is also a beautiful place, full of joy and fun.

Up until then the poem was good. But then it goes on to say that the traveler will never ever ever stop being sad about not going to Italy.

That's when I crunched the poem between my hands and hurled it across the room. I will NOT live by never-ever-ever. I never ever ever thought I'd be the mother of a baby with DS. The odds said never ever ever. Well, here I am. Here is my beautiful little boy. So I refuse to believe I will always be sad. And I refuse to believe I can't go to Italy! I will go to Italy. I have gone to Italy. For brief splinters of time, we've been like any family: happy parents with a gorgeous baby. No worries. No fears. No future, just the present.

Those moments don't last, but while they do, I clutch at them, determined to drain every bit of the beauty and joy before they pass. And I believe the moments will last longer and longer, until most of our life is spent in Italy.

Hunter is everything we wanted. He makes us smile. He's our son. And we love him with all our hearts.


I'd like to take a moment to thank all the people who have reached out with love and kindness to us in this time. From friends and family to complete strangers who have answered emails, returned phone calls, offered hugs, and in so many ways showed support and love. I wouldn't be in Italy without you all. I'll never be able to thank you enough.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Baby Is Born

(apologies in advance for the garbled tangle of words below - someday I will write this story in beautiful prose - someday when I have time!)

Two weeks ago, I thought I knew what it would be like to labor. I thought I knew what it would be like to give birth. I thought I knew what it would be like to be a mom. I thought I knew what the future had in store.

I knew nothing. And on July 6, 2011, my life changed forever - twice. At 5:35 pm, I became a mother. And at 8:00 pm, I became a mother to the most special boy in the world.

More about the last part later. This is Hunter's birth story.


I started going into labor on July 5. Tanner had the day off, and after the first "oh-my-goodness-is-this-it" thrill abated when my contractions backed off, we hopped in the jeep and spent the day at the beach. Tanner fished, and I scrambled over rocks in the Pass, awkwardly balancing my pregnant belly as I jumped from boulder to sand. I waded in the hot shallow water collecting hermit crabs until the sun went down and we left for home.

The contractions picked up again at midnight. Tanner, typically, was unwakeable, and I paced the floor for most of the night, startled and a little scared at the strength of the contractions. At seven AM I tearfully hollered Tanner into wakefullness: "Your baby is coming and I need some SUPPORT here!"

An hour later we were on our way to the Birth Center. The 30-min drive took 3 hours because I remembered all the things we HAD to do before Baby - like return library DVDs, get groceries, pick up laundry, etc. I think I was delaying the inevitable! Tanner put up with me beautifully, panicking only slightly when I announced my contractions were a minute apart as he went to return the library stuff. I have this enduring picture of him racing into the library, throwing the DVDs in the vague direction of the desk with the announcement of "My wife's having a baby!"

Once at the birth center things settled down to the steady rhythm of labor. Tanner, calm, quiet, loving, coached me thru every contraction. We kissed, I looked deep into his eyes, and thought of how much I loved him and our baby. I knew I could do it, till suddenly I started to get sharp fire-jolts of bck pain which cut off my breath then released it in a scream.

After that the labor turned into a nightmare of the worst pain I've ever had. I tried to fight it, I did, but it went beyond my threshold till I could only sob "I can't do this. I can't. I can't." Tanner led the midwife and birth assistants in a struggle to lessen the back pain, but nothing worked. I started to fade out, to enter this quiet, peaceful dark world inside myself. Tanner said later that I literally was passed out between contractions.

Finally, the back labor shut down my contractions, and at that time, we decided to transfer to the hospital. I never wanted that. I never thought labor would be too much to handle. I cried all the way out to the jeep. I still feel the sting of that failure.

Once in the Jeep racing down the freeway at 80 mph, everything changed in a split second. The contractions roared back. The backpain screamed to the base of my brain, sheer white hot pain. I started to PUSH. I remember only one thought clearly: Don't tell Tanner I'm pushing! I didn't. ;)

At the hospital I literally fell out of the jeep into the wheelchair, flopped out of the wheelchair onto the bed, and before the nurses even checked me, the baby started to crown.

Time started to move very slowly, then.

PUSH. I could feel the stretching, the head moving down. I could hear my voice, a guttural bellow as I strained, out of control, just wanting the baby to be BORN!

PUSH. "We can see the baby's head!" Between the blinding, full-body intensity of the pushes, I reached between my legs and felt - hair. Skull. Baby.

I started to cry, but not from pain. I pushed. The baby's head filled my palm, hot and soft and crinkly. "Almost there!" PUSH. PUSH. PUSH!

There was a pop. A burning sensation. Then, like water flooding out of a burst balloon, my baby flowed into this world on a tide of water, on a river of joy. I remember Tanner, bending over my body to see the tiny pink-blue squiggling body. I remember his face, his eyes full of tears, his hand squeezing mine as he whispered, "It's a boy."

And then the tiny wet form of my son was placed on my chest. I looked down at his crumpled face. At a wee nose. At two wide, startled eyes. At a form so familiar and yet so strange. He opened his tiny mouth and bawled.

The tears poured down my face. "Oh, my beautiful baby. Welcome to the world, little Hunter! Oh, my baby. My beautiful little son. I love you. I love you. I love you."

In that moment, my life changed forever.

A few hours later, I would learn something that would change my life, all of our lives, even more. But that's for the next post.

Hunter - July 6, 2011

18 inches

5lbs, 15 oz

Seen on the 4th of July

Mmm, that was a delicious baby!

Patriotic pajamas?

The All-American retiree couple.

Hummer limo? The new style for Military-In-The-Know?

I actually started feeling patriotic when I saw these signs.

Nothing funny here. Prolife in a parade is awesome. I cheered.

First horses I've seen in six months! I wanted to hug them and smell them and touch their noses SO BAD!

Shirley Temple totally attended the parade. (Justine Bieber did too, but he was only cardboard.)

Proof that wearing mixing bowls on your head is endorsed by the military.

Watching parades by myself definitely brings on an overabundance of sarcasm.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Baby's Got My Brain!

In which we discover the Awful Truth that pregnancy destroys your brain. Either that or the baby steals it. Supposedly the baby's brain mass doubles in between now and due date. Suspicious, that. I mean, come on. If you have two piles of gooey brain cells, and one of the piles is getting bigger and more productive, and the other pile shrinks, decays, and in other words, ATROPHIES, what does that lead you to think?

Not that I'm not happy to make the donation. Of course I want a brilliant baby. And after all, we only use a hundredth of our brain, so I have some to spare. I just hope some of that 99% of unused brain starts kicking in soon.

How do I know my brain is shriveled? There have been a few small clues, such as...

The day I spent forty minutes glaring at the unboiled teapot before realizing I'd forgotten to turn on the stove.

The day the timer went off for the oven and I blithely waltzed into the kitchen, shut off the TIMER and danced (er, waddled) away leaving the OVEN on.

The day (er, days) when I call T asking when he'll be home, only to hear the understandably irate reply "When you remember to come pick me up!"

The fact that I have a new fine on my library card EVERY time I visit the library.

The discovery of $50 dollars in the tube of the toilet paper. (don't ask ME why I put it there!)

...and on and on...

The sad part is, it's all starting to feel normal.


I'm developing a whole new perspective on the Genesis verse about women and childbearing. Everyone assumes that refers to labor; however, I think it refers to pregnancy. And the sin being expiated for is pride. Pregnancy and dignity do not go together. What is dignified, for instance, about:

wearing adult diapers. (the Birth Center hands out free ones for after the birth)

waddling instead of walking.

spending more time in the bathroom than any other room.

bursting into tears in WalMart. For no reason.

pregnancy rashes that change your golden-brown tan to Purple Spotted Leopard Skin.

having as much stamina as a 90-year-old.

or, the Ultimate Humiliation: getting Stuck. This is when you accidentally sit or squat or bend over or lean and your body locks up, effectively freezing you in place. This can take various forms, but the most humiliating for you (and most amusing for passers-by) is the bent-over pose. You drop something in the middle of an open space. You look around and realize there are no handy handholds for you to lower yourself gradually floorwards. You take a deep breath and bennnnddddd dooooowwwwwnnnn...

Oops. Stuck. And there you are, touching your toes with your fanny pointing skyward, unable to do a thing about it.

Vanity? Pride? Dignity? Ummmhmm.


Sarcasm aside, life at 35 weeks pregnant actually isn't bad. In fact, I was at the beach recently, huffing and puffing my way out of the water after a good tussle with some 5-foot waves, when a passerby stopped to chat and inquired if I was "miserable yet."

That opened my eyes. Sure, I'm uncomfortable. Yes, I'm tired, emotional, and itchy. But I'm also happy, excited, and looking oh-so-forward to snuggling with my little rib-kicker. This whole process of pregnancy and birth is a miracle. It's like being present on the Day of Creation. It's given me a whole new outlook on life. I hope it's made me a better and more appreciative person: I certainly appreciate the work my parents put in more.

So have I been or will I be miserable? Nope!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Snapped In Naples

A whole month in CameraLand and no camera yet. :( Boohoo. Soon!!!!! In the meanwhile I've been making do with mobile shots, which although infuriating to my Inner Photographer, still get the job done. Sort of. :) So here's a few things I see as I explore Florida!

The beach (of course!!)

Friendly beach birds.

LOTS of flowers. Lots. (the cool spiky one is a Bird-Of-Paradise)

Stilt houses (whimsically called "tree houses)

Royal palms and stormy skies - how majestic!

And our front yard, where...

...the 10 lb puppy frequently gets the better of our 160 lb Dane!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Not the End of the World?

(oh, the irony...)

“Cheer up, Harold Camping. Everyone is wrong sometimes. It’s not like it’s the end of the world or anything…”

Everyone has seen or heard jibes like that relating to the Rapture predictions of the radio pastor. Why not laugh? It’s an endless source of witty, snarky jokes. After all, no one really took Camping seriously anyway, right?

Wrong. Lots of people took him very seriously, some to the extent of selling their homes, quitting their jobs, liquidating their assets, and giving everything to the cause. At least three family men took this leap of faith. Every time I see photos of these people they look bruised, violated, bewildered and dismayed, as if they cannot understand. Newscasters have dismissed it as “their fault” and discussed their “gullibility.”

Yes, it is their fault. Yes, they were gullible. And now they're paying the price: not only in the shatters of their faith, but in the shatters of their lives.

It's so easy to laugh and take comfort that we'll never make the same mistake. But Jesus wouldn't have warned us against "false Christs" and "false prophets" if He hadn't thought that - just maybe - we might. Okay, so it'll take someone a little more convincing than Harold Camping to fool US. But that person, that prophecy is out there somewhere, for Jesus also said that even the elect would be in danger of deceit.

It's something to think about while we laugh.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Adventures in the Windy City

April 17, 2011

It’s ten o’clock on Sunday night. I’m curled on the bed in one of my weird pregnancy positions keying this in before packing everything up prepatory to leaving Chicago at five-thirty tomorrow morning. We’ve spent a night and a day here: it’s been great to have a day to relax. The moving process had become such a nightmare that, as sad as I was to leave Wisconsin, I nearly wept for joy when we were finally on the road.

Friday night we slept in front of the fireplace of the “Chalet”, a rental cabin owned by part of Tanner’s family. (Cabin in this case meaning 4-bedroom 3 ½ bath vacation castle.) Too tired to appreciate it properly, I still thought it was special. The house is almost a hundred years old, built by my husband’s German ancestors in the model of a German hunting lodge. You could practically smell the history; a dark quiet blanket of time past covered the place like oil film on water.

Saturday we spent in the night in Chicago with Tanner’s friends. Exhausted sums up my impression. I blithely assumed I would be different from every other heavily-pregnant woman who suffers from backaches and swelling on car trips. Ha. Legs like sausages and a spinal cord which felt as though it had been used as a bungee. Can’t wait for that when we hit the road again.

Today, however, Tanner and I explored Chicago – or at least much of downtown. The two highlights of the day? The Butterfly Room, a branch of the Nature Museum – more or less a small conservatory crammed with butterflies. They flutter everywhere, like falling leaves in autumn, sometimes so close that you feel the tiny gust of their passing. Possibly more amazing than the live butterflies was the hatchery, where dozens of different cocoons were hanging, waiting to hatch. I had no idea how many incredible cocoons butterflies come from! Green jade drops with gold spikes. Small egg-shaped metallic oblongs, so polished you can see your reflection in them. !!!!!

The other highlight was the GNC broadcasting building, a beautiful old stone building, where some GENIUS had imbedded stones, rocks, and bits of architecture from all over the world. There was a chunk of rock from Golgatha. A bas relief from an ancient temple in China. A tiny gargoyle from Notre Dame Cathedral. The Papal Insignia from St. Peter’s Gate in Rome. A bit of quartz-riddled granite from Antarctica. And dozens more! It had to have been one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. I circled the entire building, touching every stone, amazed at the texture of the history under my fingertips.

The serious part of the trip begins tomorrow. Can’t say I’m terribly excited about being stuck in a car, but I am excited. Exploring Chicago today whetted my appetite for discovery. There’s so much out there to see. I can’t wait to keep exploring.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Karate Kid

So I’ve been feeling the baby move for about a month and a half now. The moves have gone from the sensation best described as a “fishtail without the fin” to fullblown kicks and punches. This baby knows karate! Sometimes it feels like Neo and Mr. Smith are having a little practice bout in between my bladder and my lungs. (Oh yeah, and the bladder punching bag thing Baby does at 2AM is just adorable. Not!)

The other movement I feel a lot is the Squirm. This consists of Baby jamming hands or feet (depending on whether this is a headstand or not) against my spine and pushing. Sometimes I think Baby is seriously going to pop right out my abdomen! The cool part about this, though, is that I can often discern body parts. Feet feel different from hands. The spine has little bumps the size of peas. And what a bony little behind!

In ancient times people believed the first movements (“quickening”) signaled the advent of the baby’s soul. While I believe the baby has a soul from the moment of conception, I understand now why that belief was held. In one incredible day the baby goes from a strange bump inside you to a squiggling, moving, alive child. In one lifechanging moment you go from an ordinary woman to a Mother. It’s…well. It’s not very easy to put that into words.

(The writer in me likes the term “quickening” btw, because it literally means “coming to life”. The term “quick” was used interchangeably with “life” or “soul”. Hence the term “to cut someone to the quick.”)

The baby’s quickening has been a diamond in a sandbox indeed. After the first three months of not knowing from one day to the next if the baby was even alive – to get reassurance every day that baby is very much alive and kickin’ – that’s finding the Kohinoor in the sandbox!


Oh yeah. Bad news. Apparently the Mom Syndrome (safety first at expense of fun), that awful disease I swore never to fall prey to, leaves no one untouched. I’ve gone from being a reckless daredevil to someone who actually pauses at the edge of the cliff and contemplates the risks. Now that is a disturbing development!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Country Girl vs Surfer Queen

So Baby and I have our marching orders. We’re moving to the Sunshine State – in about two weeks. One minute I have a busy Wisconsin summer planned, and the next – whoosh! Off we go. Whoever said marrying someone in the military makes for a lot of moves should try marrying a chef. Gourmet on the go, that’s my husband.

In between the whirlwind of packing, closing our apartment up here, and generally dealing with the adventure of moving across country with three weeks notice, I haven’t had much time to dwell on the long-term effects of the move, which is probably just as well since I’m sure I’d be depressed. I knew from the moment the move was brought up that I would miss the people in Wisconsin fiercely. All my family, friends, and connections live here, and leaving them behind is hard.

Up until this morning I thought the people were all I was going to miss. After all, it’s not like we’re moving to Kansas, or the depths of New York City (some deranged people’s idea of heaven, I understand). We’re moving to Florida, the Sunshine State. I’ll get to swim in the ocean every day if I so desire, with dolphins or pelicans or whatever takes my fancy. I’ll get to explore the Everglades on the weekends, and wander through neighborhoods filled with fruit trees and flowers. Key West will be a few hours away.

And yet I woke this morning with a lump in my throat and that all-at-once knowing that comes most clearly when you first wake. And I knew I would miss Wisconsin terribly. I’m going to miss the clear, crisp, blue smell of Lake Superior. I’m going to miss the red-brown glint of agates on the beach. I’m going to miss galloping a horse through fire-colored autumn woods filled with the mustiness of falling leaves. I’m going to miss secluded, daisy-chocked fields in the middle of nowhere. Maple trees. Sunwarmed raspberries. Crunchy wild apples which taste of summer and sunshine. Farm fields, blue with flax and golden with corn. Red barns and silver silos. Chipmunks eating out of my hand, and chickadees twittering in my ear. I’m going to miss the wild rose-colored glory of an orchard in blossom.

I love Wisconsin. Even though winter lasts forever and we get blizzards in May and the average temperature for snowy months is twenty below.

I know I will also love Florida, and all the other places we travel. But the one truth I know most surely as I watch Wisconsin vanish in the rear-view mirror?

This will always be my home. I’m a Wisconsin country girl, and always will be.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Obligatory “Why I Started This Blog” Post

So why did I start this blog?

A whim? Pregnancy hormones? Maybe just because I like random blogs? Do I have to have a reason? J

*turns to Chesterton to discover that no I do not but most people do*

I suppose it’s mostly because I’m starting to have more to say than belongs in my writing blog’s slot. And rather than clutter that blog up with the random yarn tangles my brain produces, I decided to create a separate space. Every once in a while I like to take my brain out and give it a good shake. Usually something falls out. This blog is the box which catches the somethings.

Oh yes, and what’s with the diamonds in the sandbox? I believe in little things. The world is full of treasure: you just have to look hard enough. If you open your eyes and take a little time, it’s amazing what you see. Ordinary paths become the start of a quest. Two trees bent together are a portal to Narnia. That wizened old man is an angel in disguise. No matter how twisted and steep the road becomes, there’s a green meadow and a waterfall somewhere not too far away. And yes. No matter how gritty and ordinary a sandbox is, there’s always diamonds if you look.