I gave January a kick in the pants by taking a semi-spontaneous jaunt up to Seattle for a night this week. I have this friend whom I would easily describe as kindred spirit, even though we'd never met. She lives up in Seattle with her husband, Joe, and dog, Chewie, and I basically invited myself and my baby up for a short stay.

{Tulips at Pike Place}

Seattle is only a three-hour drive away, so Asher and I threw some things into a bag or two and headed away on Tuesday afternoon. Most of my short stay we just talked. And talked and talked and talked. Despite our delightful blogging friendship, I will admit to apprehension at actually meeting Ande in person. What if a real-life friendship didn't come as easily as our virtual one? My fears were thoroughly unfounded. Ande is as wonderful in reality as she is in her blog and blog comments, and our conversation flowed as easily as if we'd met years ago.

She was the most gracious of gracious hostesses. She made me tortellini soup and chocolate chip cookies for dinner, and steel-cut oats with pomegranate for breakfast. Late Wednesday morning we went to Pike Place where we wandered and ate donuts and chowder and croissants.

I couldn't have thought of a better way to say farewell to this month and to do so a little bit early. So, January, you lose in the end. I think those tulips prove it.


month five

Month five, where do I even begin? Month five involved everything from rolling to solids to sleeping to reaching to standing to bathing. 

:: You read right. Rolling. It happened.
:: He was so startled by what had just happened and mine and Josh's glee that he burst into tears.
:: He repeats the rolling when he feels like it.
:: He doesn't feel like it very often.
:: But it still happens.

:: He likes to sit.

:: But even more he likes us to help him stand.
:: When he stands he wobbles and wiggles those legs until he falls down.
:: And then we pull him back up and it starts all over again.

:: Solids were actually a huge hit.
:: I have pictures.
:: But we started solids right around when his sleeping took a nose dive.
:: So we abandoned rice cereal to focus on the sleeping.
:: Unfortunately, cereal did not seem to have an effect on his sleeping.

:: Asher can recognize his name.
:: And he gets lonely sometimes.
:: Sometimes he'll smile when he sees the camera.
:: And he sticks that tongue out like it's show-and-tell all day every day.

:: He's discovered new sounds, like the cranky croak.
:: He also quite enjoys gurgle conversations.
:: When you join in those conversations with him (with reciprocal gurgling, of course), he lights up.

:: That mop of fuzzy hair is just wonderful.
:: Some hairs that have been there a while are really long and stick straight up.
:: Then he has this new crop of fuzz that's been coming in.
:: Those hairs stick straight up too.
:: His mullet might have to go.
:: Soon.

:: Toes are a new favorite body part.
:: He can even fit them in his mouth.

:: Bath time is the best time.
:: Obviously.
:: He can splash and wiggle.
:: So we have to be extra vigilant in case he tries to wiggle out of his bath seat.

:: Sometimes Asher will flash a secret smile.
:: It's that smile that says, "Mom, Dad, this is just for you, because we're buds. And I know it."

:: I am constantly amazed at how this baby boy interacts with his world--he's learning and growing and moving and loving.
:: I couldn't imagine a better place to be.


come in out of the cold

It's been a while since you stopped by for some cocoa, and it's been so cold outside, so how about you come in to warm up a bit? I bought some Penzey's cocoa this year, and you make it with milk. It's quite decadent.

First off, how was your Christmas? Mine was lovely, and at the same time I welcomed the normalcy when real life returned. What about your January? This month is unsolicitously interminable, and I have a hard time believing that there's still a week left in it.

I'd confess that I've started watching Grey's Anatomy for the first time. (Thank you, Netflix.)

If you asked how Asher's sleeping has been, I'd tell you that it's improved, especially his naps. The past four days, though, he's woken up around 6:00 (after waking up a 3:00) and won't go back to sleep. Goodness.

If Asher was napping when you arrived, you'd probably see me pause in whatever was happening and earnestly listen for him. I hear phantom Asher sounds all the time when he's sleeping. All the time.

How has that one thing been going? You know, that thing you're having a hard time with. We talked about it last time, and I've been thinking about you and want to know how you're doing with it.

What are your New Year's resolutions? Do you even make resolutions? I used to pick a word to focus on throughout the year. The past couple of years, though, I haven't picked one. Nothing felt right. I think I've settled on a word for 2013. I don't know if I'll blog about it.

I might confide that lately my shortcomings have been glaring, my faults taking center stage in my mind. It's emotional, battling perceived inadequacies.

The conversation might circle back to TV (let's face it, it's my preferred no-effort entertainment source). First I'd ask if you watch The Mindy Project. If you do we'd share favorite episodes and lines and divulge which doctor we'd prefer: Danny or Jeremy. If you don't, I'd badger you about it until you promise that you will. The Mindy Project is hilarious.

I'd pick your brain for good guy gifts. Josh's birthday is approaching, and he's such an enigmatic giftee that I hoard all my ideas while still having to dole out ideas to friends and family. It's a tough job, being the wife around a birthday.

I have one peanut butter bar left. If I really like you, we'll split it.

Any trips planned for 2013? I'm headed to Denver for a week in March for my mom's birthday. Excited doesn't even begin to describe how I feel about it.

You have to go? That timing worked out. Asher and I need to run something to Josh at work. Don't worry about the dishes. I'll take care of them later. See you soon? Great.


OSR: long overdue catchup

I don't know which is more embarrassing as an avid reader: not posting any book reviews since last September or having only three to post. Having this baby and his ham hocks around pushes reading down on my priority list a bit, which really, is totally OK. I still read lots, just shorter things, like news articles, essays, blog posts, and snippets out of parenting books.

I came woefully short of my 2012 reading goal, like 20-percent short. But what can I say? Those baby legs are too delicious to ignore. (The funny thing is that when I made my 2012 goal, I knew that I was pregnant, and so I thought that 35 books was cutting it down for me. False, Charlotte. You solidly overshot that one.) When Goodreads asked me about my 2013 reading goal, I'll admit to considering not even making one. But then I thought, Good heavens, that's absurd. Of course you'll make a reading goal. So I did. And I think that this one is much more attainable and realistic for me: 20 books. That's half of my pre-baby goal of two years ago. But 20 books it is.

I'm optimistic about making this one, but I won't promise you that it will happen. Who knows what this babe's legs have in store for me this year?

And without further ado, my remaining three 2012 book reviews.

I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a WomanI Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman by Nora Ephron
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Meh. Nora is a good writer, and that's what she had going for her in these essays more than the topics. I'd like to read one of her other essay compilations that focuses on a different subject.

View all my reviews

The Haunting of Hill House The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a delightful book for Halloween. It was eerie and spooky but not gory or icky, and it was a quick read to boot. A few times I even got the chills. I was quite pleased with my spooky book experience this year.

View all my reviews The Casual VacancyThe Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is certainly not for everyone. Know going in that it contains more than its fair share of language in addition to sexual content. (The sexual content is concentrated at the beginning.)

This book is character-driven, and Rowling's characters are full and complex and dimensional. This is a book about people and their relationships with each other and with themselves.

The Casual Vacancy is about a man whose death sends a ripples throughout a town and its inhabitants. It's about an unloved girl; an abused son; a devious truant; an unhappy wife; a misunderstood daughter; a negligent junkie; a genuine social worker; a resentful doctor.

I don't know if I could necessarily recommend this book to someone, because I'd have to give several caveats. It's not uplifting, but when I finished it I came away wanting to be more compassionate and aware of others, because the seemingly small things in our lives have a significant effect, whether that effect be edifying or devastating. I liked this book, but for different reasons from what I expected.

View all my reviews


some good days

It was a good day when my wedding ring finally fit again.

It was a good day when I tried that chocolate chip cookie recipe.

It was a good day when my TV shows had new episodes after the Christmas break.

It was a good day when Josh, Asher, and I went on a spontaneous lunch date.

It was a good day when I got my bangs trimmed.

It was a good day when Josh called from work to say he missed me.

What are some of your good days?


that time I lived across the street from a rock star

Once I lived in Provo, Utah, and I lived in an apartment complex called The Colony. It was like a neighborhood, with separate apartments making up little houses all on its own secluded street. And when I lived there I lived across the street from a rock star.

I should concede, however, that at the time I didn't know he was a rock star, or at least that he would become one. He lived in the building across the street and sometimes practiced with his band when I was trying to read George Eliot. The thumping bass made it very hard to read Middlemarch. I certainly thought him more a nuisance than a rock star.

He went to church with me and was in my assigned Family Home Evening group. And after those weekly get-togethers with our apartments, I would head over to his apartment where I would watch 24 with his roommates.

I'll make no pretense that we were any more than acquaintances. I was friends more with his roommates than I was with him. And frankly, all I knew at the time was that he was in a band that would sometimes play at the local music club, The Velour. Oh, and we were at least somewhat legitimate Facebook friends at the time. (We're still Facebook friends, but I doubt he remembers this girl who lived across the street once and watched 24 with his roommates.)

Four years later I'm driving up the I-5 in Portland, Oregon, and hear the radio host introduce the rock star's band. I listen to the song and think to myself, You know, that's pretty good. And then I think, Hey, I lived across the street from that guy. That almost makes me famous.

You've probably heard him and his band. Imagine Dragons. That's the band: Imagine Dragons. Their most popular song right now is probably this one.

So one day when I'm making my kids listen to stories about my life, I can tell them that when I was in college I lived across the street from a rock star. And they better think I'm awesome for it.


on sorrow

I don't often ask God why. If I don't know the reason, I'm usually good at accepting that there is one and that it's a good one at that. With sweet Ayla, however, I have been asking. My asking hasn't been in defiance or rebellion, but rather my whys have been the result of deep-seated sorrow.

I hardly even know what to write, because so many thoughts have flooded my heart and mind these past two weeks. In my deepest moments of reflection I feel revelation penetrate my bones, revelation that says, Sorrow is holy. My words today will be few, for I feel that not only would I fail to write cohesively, but I also feel that these thoughts aren't meant to be shared fully on this forum.

I will conclude with this: Allowing ourselves to experience sorrow opens singular understanding of Christ's sacrifice, and sorrow on behalf of another refines and sanctifies our hearts. Sorrow begets empathy, which evolves into charity. Sorrow is divine, and when we experience it, we must allow it to transform our souls.


a Thursday list

:: I've received lots of positive feedback about this blog recently, and it all means so much. So thanks. I'm flattered that among all the things to read on the internet, this blog makes the cut.
:: I am waiting to watching season three of Downton Abbey until it comes out on Blu-ray at the end of the month. Until then I'm watching seasons one and two again.
:: Josh started watching with me. And he might not admit it, but he likes it.
:: Thanks to all who have recommended sleep books. It is much appreciated.
:: This mama and her male counterpart are exhausted. All the time.
:: Next week: sleep training. It's happening.


month four

My cousin Julie had her daughter, Ayla, just two weeks after Asher was born. A week and a half ago Ayla was rushed to the hospital where she was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis. Ayla is now living out her final days and hours in hospice. As I'm sure you can imagine, this news has hit Josh and me hard. My heart has been especially tender these past several days, my emotions closer to the surface. Asher's four-month milestones are now even more precious and fragile to me than they were before. I feel words itching in my fingers that need to be written to help me process and understand this sorrow; you can expect a post on that later this week.

:: This post is over two weeks late, but the pictures are only a week-ish late.
:: Asher's favorite sounds are a really high-pitched squeak and the sound you get when you breathe in while talking. He makes these sounds all the time.

:: He loves smiling and laughing at himself in the mirror.
:: His legs are stronger, which makes for super wiggly diaper changes. If he had his way, he'd launch himself off the changing table every time that dimply bum is free.

:: His four-month stats are as follows: 16 lbs (58th percentile), 26 1/2 inches long (92nd percentile), and a 17-inch head circumference (97th percentile--now that's a big head)

:: Tummy time has seen serious improvement.
:: Meaning, he doesn't cry and rub his face into the ground every time we put him on that chubby belly.
:: In fact, he can stay on his tummy for several minutes before calling it quits.

:: His eyes are the same stormy gray-blue they were at birth. I love them.
:: And I think he might be a toe-head.
:: Josh was a toe-head as a kid.

:: When Asher wants to be held, he'll reach his arms up, arch his back, and flash a smile.
:: He's irresistible.

:: He's quite dexterous. He can take his pacifier out now.
:: But he can rarely put it back in.
:: So you put it back in for him.
:: And then he takes it out.

:: Those fingers. Those slobbery, wet fingers.
:: So. much. drool.
:: Sometimes he tries to fit his entire fist into his mouth.
:: And sometimes he'll even try to double-fist it.

:: Sleeping is, frankly, abysmal.
:: Day or night.
:: But like I said, he's irresistible.


lullaby prose, for Ayla

{My dear cousin Julie and her baby girl, Ayla}

My lullaby tonight is for another babe, one who is soon to return to her Father in Heaven.
Her time was too short for those of us left here.
Our hearts ache, our tears flow,
Perhaps our minds question why.
Tonight I pray for your sweet mother,
Whose goodbyes are tender and broken.
Let angels sing sweet lullabies,
Let angels' presence fill your room with light.
My prayers tonight are with you, precious babe,
As you leave this world for a sweeter one.
Wait for your mother as she finishes her work,
For she will continue to sing you lullabies.


relationship status: it's complicated

For a few days in December, I thought that I had reconciled myself with January.

But I haven't. Not really. Perhaps our relationship is better than it was five years ago, but it still needs lots of work. I tackled today with a lengthy to-do list, a list that included specifics like "load dishwasher," "run dishwasher," and "unload dishwasher" all on separate lines to inflate my sense of productivity.

I spent the majority of my day in sequin slippers and spent lots of time on the floor with Asher trying to get him to replicate his rolling over feat of the night previous.

Go easy on me, January. If our relationship is ever to move to an enjoyable place, you must allow me some quality Downton Abbey time in the middle of the afternoon. Thanks.

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