Still Here, But Perhaps I’ve Lost My Head

Oh my goodness, time has flown! G took off last week so we could work at cleaning out the basement, and though there are still a few things to do down there, it is greatly improved and I’m hopeful that by the end of July our house will need only some paint to finish prepping it for selling.

It’s been a hard balance to get everything ready while also focusing on taking down time to get coffee and let E run. Food has been basically ordering pizza or eating quick sandwiches or hitting up a local cafe because I have had no energy to really cook.

Crafting for E has taken a backseat, but I still try and get some things done. I stayed up into the wee hours of the morning drawing out what will eventually be wood toys when we visit G’s parents and use his dad’s woodworking tools. And I’m getting together with a couple other mamas soon to make play silks and more gnomes!

I’m looking forward to the move, but dreading the process of selling the house. All the fears of, ‘What if it doesn’t sell and were in England and can’t pay the mortgage?” freak me out if I think about it too much. So instead, I focus on what life will be like there with E. The exploring we will be able to do. The gardening. The hanging clothes outside to dry and it being normal there. G talks a lot about showing E the abbey we loved, exploring the grounds, and the Christmas Fayre that we’ll be there for.

I’m also really excited to write more here. To take you all along on the journey. We’ll be there for at least twice the time I was the last time so I’m sure that there will be many adventures to share!

Magical Birthday

Last month we attended the birthday party for a 3 year old friend of E’s. All of us mamas in that group are crafty, so our gifts tend to all be homemade. It was a fairy birthday party so I thought this little fairy and 2 miniature fairy cakes would be perfect:

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Each petal was cut out individually and then glued on. And the tops of the fairy cakes have little pink hearts. I was quite proud of my first painting job on a peg person!

Just Breathe

For those of you who are new readers and didn’t hop over from Une Vie Chic, for the first 2 years of my marriage I lived in Suffolk, UK. In sheep country. Yes, it’s as beautiful as your imagining. And slower. Most shops close at 5, a lot of places aren’t open on Sundays. And it was lovely. We both were emotional as we left, and the adjustment here took a while. The first time I walked into an American grocery store after 2 years, I literally panicked from too much overload.

Not a month goes by that one of us doesn’t say “I want to go home.” (Okay, sometimes every week, but we’re improving.) Home for us isn’t where we were born and raised, though that did help shape us, but England. We moved back to the U.S., bought a house, had a baby, and now we’d like to take her home. However, most of our conversations are of further in the future. Maybe after G is out of the military and has his masters. Maybe we’ll go to Paris first (more jobs open there).

I expressed to him my concern that I feel like a person who may never get back to their home, and it instills a panic in me like no other.

During a conversation about life, family planning, where we’d be okay living in the future he finally mentions that a couple of spots have opened up on our old base. Just 1 of his rank, so a tiny little chance. He actually wasn’t sure I’d want to go, since he knows that it would be a huge undertaking (getting rid of approx. half our stuff, selling the house, prepping the animals). I stared at him like he’d grown a second head. I told him, screw worrying, if it’s meant to happen, we’ll get it done.

It’s such a small chance. But I couldn’t sleep that night, and since I’ve felt like I’m constantly twitchy. We won’t know if he got the spot until June. But I’m putting it out there to the universe: we’d like a break. This last year has been heartbreaking and yet we made it through not broken. So we’d like to go home. We’d like a chance to raise our daughter at least for a little while in a place that isn’t so busy. We’d like to see her experience the Christmas Fayres and markets and the open spaces where they encourage you to just be.

I don’t know what the future holds except hope. And we’re holding on to a ton of that.

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I wrote this a couple of weeks ago. Last week G asked me if I was sitting down, and then told me we got the spot. Only, instead of moving the beginning of next year, we actually need to move by the end of November. At the latest. So in the next 5-6 months we need to completely de-clutter our home, finish painting, pack, and sell our house. It’s a wee bit overwhelming I’ll admit. But we’re so very excited.

E is excited too. She’s not sure for what, except tea (which we’ve taught her there will be plenty of there). And ducks. Lots of ducks.

It’s insane and glorious and we just feel this immense joy over getting to go back. Now, off to get rid of all the things I don’t love enough to have it hinder our move!

Phenomenal Woman

mayaangelouvoguePhoto credit: Taylor Jewell

I read my daughter Still I Rise. She sat quietly, listening. This 2 year old sage child. When I finished, she asked for “more poem.” So I read her one I love, Phenomenal Woman. And still she wanted more. I picked a shorter one, A Conceit. She would look up at me as I read, but stayed intently focused on listening.

Words cannot express what a hole Maya Angelou will have left in this world. But I take heart that her words, both written and spoken, will resonate for a long time to come. In what we read to our children. In advice we turn to when we are feeling broken.

I loved who she was, and the grace and strength she encouraged in others. She was indeed a phenomenal woman.

Love Is A Verb

sheepwoolSunscreen Moment brought to you by A Beautiful Day

I used to say that when I had a child, that they would know that they were loved. But I had no idea what that would mean in action. I had no idea the length my patience would stretch. No idea that when it snapped, it would rebound back onto me, causing my heart to be stabbed with the words that flew like broken glass.

As mothers we all fall short at times, mostly of our own expectations. I often remind myself to speak gently, to get down on her level, but so often I feel like a failure. I worry. I worry a lot. I want to cocoon around her and just be. When she was a baby I (like many mothers before me) would just lie enthralled with her. I couldn’t imagine loving anyone as much. I’d ask mamas with 2 how it was, genuinely trying to understand.

And then there was to be two. I loved the idea of them so close. I dreamed of giggling and secret sharing. And then like waking, the loss hit. As time passed, and the lack of support abounded, I realized that the only secret sharing going on was that I was supposed to keep quiet about the pain that had ripped my future apart.

I threw myself into E, clinging to her out of a sheer desperation to not go over the cliff into despair. You see a lot clearer in the midst of trying to survive. I learned who in my life were acquaintances masquerading as friends rather than people I could actually talk to. I taught myself that silence was not the answer. That there is no shame in speaking out, because maybe if we all did, doctors wouldn’t give shit advice such as “it’ll be like a bad period.”

Because I went into labor. I pushed and instead of new beginnings it was an end to a path we had headed down.

This last year I learned what love in action meant. It was a small hand on my face as I sobbed. It was a husband not allowing me to believe that our fertility troubles were a punishment for my small failings as a mama. (That is one of the hardest thoughts I ever had to admit to.)

It was the moving through that to run in the sunshine. To blow bubbles. To kick a ball in ballet flats because my girl is going to be a footballer someday. To sit quietly and read books that I’m so tired of but she loves. And lately, my love in action is making things for her. To see her face light up when she sees a felt pancake. My heart melts as she tells her daddy in reverent tones that I made it for her. She’s so loved, and she radiates the knowledge of that.

I’m not trying to win “mama of the year” or come across as a better mama than others. I’m just cutting through the bullshit in this competitive game parenting has become and loving on my daughter through actively pursuing her heart. Loving your child might look different, and that’s fantastic. But life is too damn short and mercurial for me to worry about anything but making sure she knows without a doubt that the road that curved sharply the day we found out she was coming was the best damn road we’d ever come across.

We all have our own paths to take. I lost my way a year ago. I’m finding it now.

Thirty

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When you’re a kid, 30 seems so old. By my early 20’s I was already looking forward to it. It’s hard being an old soul in a world that values youth.

So today I said a fond farewell to my 20’s. My 20’s held marrying and moving overseas and having E, so I was in no rush to say goodbye, but not filled with any desire to linger either. There would be no 2nd 29th birthday here.

I’m looking forward to this new decade. Such a great blank notebook just waiting to be filled with adventures. It’s a beautiful sunny day after flooding here in Charm City. My husband brought me tea in bed in one of my gifts, and surprised me with my secret present, a restored 1930’s fountain pen. He said that he knew how much I loved the 20’s and 30’s and that he could think of no better gift for a writer. I love him.

So tonight we’ll eat a dinner at our favorite French restaurant. We’ll toast and laugh and look forward to the future. It’s a privilege to grow older, and I’m more than a little excited to see what this decade will bring!

A Simple Sandwich

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Who doesn’t love a good sandwich? Not some behemoth that you can’t get your mouth around, nor something with so many flavors it ends up overwhelming your taste buds. Just a simple sandwich, with a few ingredients, made well.

This sandwich was really an act of thriftiness. Recently canadian bacon was 50% off at our local store, thanks to it’s sell by date being the next day.  We picked up 4 packs, dreaming of eggs benedict sometime in the future.  We threw 3 of them in the freezer and saved one for these sandwiches.  I had a couple portobello mushrooms in the refrigerator from a meal I hadn’t made, and needed to use them up.  And we had a little bit of swiss cheese left from another meal.  I ran to a nearby wine store who happens to sell amazing local bread and we were good to go.

Chop up your mushrooms into smaller bits, and saute in a pan with butter until soft and dark. Cook canadian bacon, set aside on a towel.  I sliced the swiss into strips (much, much easier than trying to get even slices). Buttered bread put down (just like making grilled cheese), layered with swiss, than bacon, then the hot mushrooms spread on top. Cook until cheese is melted and bread is golden brown.

I roasted asparagus to go with this (olive oil, salt, pepper, into 400°F for about 20 minutes). It made a nice light side, and we had extra leftover from our grilled asparagus and risotto adventures as of late. It could have been slightly less expensive if I had made the bread myself because this loaf came in at $5. But it didn’t use the whole loaf, the rest will be used for croutons to top our leek and potato soup tonight. Overall, this meal cost us maybe a grand total of 12 dollars for 3 people for 2 meals (we had leftovers for lunch today), and we all exclaimed it was beyond delicious.

What are your favorite sandwich combos? I think we may be doing a lot more sandwiches as light meals this summer!