notes from a traveling mother

Last week Asher had his seventh and eighth plane rides, and I've flown as a solo parent for all but one of those flights. (Someone has to stay and work so we can afford to be the jet-setters we are, right?) So, as a relatively experienced single traveling mother, I've learned a few things.

Change that diaper before boarding. I forgot once and had to sit with a stinky, stinky babe until the pilot finally turned off the seat-belt light.

It's OK if your diaper bag is 20 pounds. It may be embarrassing, but I'd rather have 10 diapers and a bagful of toys on hand than be caught unprepared.

You'll never see your fellow passengers again. He may cry or fuss or even scream, and you certainly don't have time to worry about what the other travelers think. Be considerate when you can, but really, once you leave that plane and get your luggage, you'll never see them ever again.

{sleepy fingers, April 2013, lucky mom}

Nursing in public isn't the worst thing. I'm a private person and prefer not to breastfeed in public, but when I'm traveling with the babe it's going to happen. You can be discreet but not invisible, so some people may notice. They probably won't care, but they might. And if they do, don't worry about it. Like I said, you won't ever see them again.

Use the curbside check-in. I'm lucky if I can make a trip with a baby and pack only one suitcase. I'd rather pay a tip to the curb workers and have them meet me in line to take my bags and print off my boarding pass than haul two suitcases plus a car seat while pushing a stroller. You'll be glad you paid the $3 tip.

{sleepy fuzzy head, April 2013, really lucky mom}

Most people are nice. It's hard to travel alone with a baby (let alone children plural--I have no idea what that's like), and most people are really nice about it. I've had so many people play games with my babe, offer to help and carry things, and let me know that it's OK if my babe has a hard time on the plane. You don't have to expect the worst, because really, people aren't so bad.

Remember your plane has to land eventually. Even if your baby is the worst behaved he's ever been, your flight will end. You can even cry on the plane if you need to. No shame in that.


letting go

The babe and I are jetting to Utah the day after tomorrow, and my lists are miles long (or perhaps it's the laundry that's mountains high?). So tonight I realized that I had to let some things go, like that leopard-print cardigan I so very much wanted to start and finish before the plane takes off at 10:35 Wednesday morning.

Asher's two-and-a-half-hour nap this afternoon helped me immensely, but he'd probably have to sleep all day for me to swing that cardigan, and if he slept all day, then what would my night hold? So, leopard-print cardigan, you'll have to wait until after we return, because I'm slowly learning that willingly letting go is so much better than having it torn from my clutching, over-tired fingers.

Tomorrow I'll pack up my sewing station for a few days and feel 100-percent OK with it. Then maybe I'll have a better chance at actually folding all that laundry.


saboteur, take 2

Damn you, too hot broiler and too sensitive smoke detector. Dammit.


Asher doesn't wake up when I vacuum the bathroom counters. Today he did. Blast.

It's hard to stay too frustrated, though, when he wakes up looking something like this.


gently spring

The mornings are still chilly enough to merit some cocoa, but the jacket issue is still up in the air around here. I usually just settle on throwing a knit zip-up on the boy and then worry that he's freezing. But once we're on our way home from our outing, it's sunny and warmer and I'm positive that he'd be hating me if I'd put him in his fleece coat.

Spring has been gently easing into our life this month. Some days it's smack in my face, and other days it prefers to hide behind rain and clouds. Regardless of the weather, Asher and I have been taking plenty of walks and throwing open windows and doors when we're inside. I've been steadily sewing to add complementary items to my spring wardrobe. My projects, for the most part, have been simple, quick, and straightforward. The babe's wardrobe has been quickly expanding to accommodate his ever-lengthening body.

I've been dabbling in some spring cleaning, waffling on whether to purge our belongings now or when we move in the near-ish, six-month future. Speaking of moving, isn't homeownership a swamp of number confusion? (Thank the heavens for Rick, our mortgage broker, who runs all the different numbers and scenarios for us.)

We're keeping up with Grimm and The Mindy Project, trying (so far unsuccessfully) to teach Asher to crawl, and sleeping less than we should. So as you can see, this spring has been an involved one. It's been renewing and full of sunshine (so renewing, in fact, that I think we're about due for some Oregon coast).


some favorites

:: Josh calling me in the middle of the day to talk and speculate about what's going to happen on The Walking Dead. We had a very thorough conversation about it.

:: Asher's version of voluntary kisses. He pulls your face in close (usually by the ear or a fistful of hair) and plants his slobbery, wet mouth on your cheek for a few seconds. It's the sweetest.

:: Forgetting my wedding ring when I went out to grab dinner and the cashier giving me a discount. You know what this means, people? I've still got it.


what to do with a vat of curry

{Marriage lesson #1: When your husband offers to make Sunday dinner, say yes.}

On Sunday, Josh made us a vat of curry. A vat. He volunteered to make us (i.e., the two of us, his dad, and our friend Ian) dinner, and who was I to say no? I wish I'd taken a picture of it, because I don't know if my descriptions will do it justice. Josh made this giant, bubbling, savory tub of curry. 

Whatever possessed him to make so much, I'll never know, but I won't complain. After we stuffed ourselves silly on Sunday, I spooned a third of the leftovers into a container for the fridge and the remaining two-thirds into a giant Ziplock for the freezer. 

So what do you do with the vat of curry your husband makes you for Sunday dinner? You pack it for his lunch twice during the week, have it for dinner another night, and freeze the rest so you can do it all over again in a few weeks.

That's what you do with a vat of curry. Enjoy.


where my heart is

I moved to Oregon close to three years ago. I haven't stayed in one place longer since high school. So, the question is, Is Oregon home? People will often ask me that question, or some variation of it, and my answer comes freely and easily. Yes, I tell them. Yes, Oregon is my home.

In college, Utah never felt like home to me. Utah was the place where my school was, the place away from home. I loved college, I loved my school, I loved my time there. But it was never home. Colorado was always home. I clung proudly to our heavy spring snows, our blistering summers, our majestic mountaintops, and our delectable tap water. During those formative fledgling adult years, I needed my home to be in Colorado. I needed my family to be in Colorado. And they were.

Then I met Josh and my future started taking more defined shape. Oregon. We were getting married, and he had a job already lined up in his hometown--my new town. So I moved to Oregon, and I embraced it. I love it here. I love the low-hanging clouds, the forested highways, the foggy mornings, the hipster Pearl District. I love my friends (oh, so many friends!), my church congregation, the briny air of a coastal weekend.

Letting go of Colorado as my physical home was a rite of passage for me. I realized that going home to see my family--my parents and siblings--was just that, home as defined by the people, not the place. When I go back to that Rocky Mountain safe haven, I still love the sun and the sky and the air, just not in the same rooted way I did before. What makes Colorado a refuge now is my family. They've always been home for me, no matter where they fall on a map.

I thought that by claiming a new state as home that I'd be giving up an essential part of me; what really happened was I kept the most precious parts of my being while simultaneously opening a new, wonderful, complementing one, one made brilliant with the beginnings of a family all my own.

Whenever I went out of town in college and it was time to return to Utah, I'd say, I'm going back to school. Now when I go on a trip and it's time for that return flight I say, I'm going home.


I understand

I have this distinct, lone memory of my dad coming in from work, seeing his children together, and tearing up. I don't remember how old I was, or what we were all even doing, but I do remember my father staring at his family with tears in his eyes. And I remember that I didn't understand.

Tonight after we fed Asher his dinner of butternut squash, apples, and ground turkey, we stripped him down to his diaper and proceeded to dance to this song. In that moment, my world stood still and all I saw was beauty. My entire being flooded with love and spilled out my eyes.

I understand now, Dad. I understand why you cried. You saw pure beauty and felt pure love, and you had no other expression for the joy you felt in that exact moment. You embraced it, and you cried.

I understand.


mind reading, stream of consciousness

If you could read my mind, you'd see stuff like this.

:: 107 days until the John Mayer concert with Laura and Brooke!
:: Wait, how much money do we need to buy a home?!
:: I'll call that realtor tomorrow.
:: Which sewing project should I start first?
:: Probably the denim skirt.
:: Then the nightgown.
:: Then the blouse.
:: Then the romper for Asher.
:: I wish Josh would get home so we could watch the new Mindy Project.
:: I hate it when my home smells like smoke.
:: Thinking that the marinade from the pork tenderloin would magically turn into a delectable sauce was misguided.
:: So much smoke.
:: What was that decomposed vegetable in my fridge anyway?
:: Gross.
:: Is folding the towels going to happen tonight?
:: Probably not.
:: Redoing the blog design?
:: Who do I go to for such things?
:: Stretchy pants?
:: Yes.


a weekend of firsts

First off, I am humbled by the response I received on yesterday's post. You all make me feel safe when I post on things close to my heart. Thank you.

I regret to say that the pictures we took in between classes at church did not make the blog cut. In fact, Josh told me that I couldn't post them anywhere. So the babe's first Easter is photographically undocumented. Just know that he was the definition of dapper in blue and white pinstripe pants with a knit navy blazer. 

We had a few other firsts this weekend, though.

Asher's first pair of sunglasses. And he kept them on. It's like he already knows that he has to be cooler than Mom and Dad.

Doesn't that face of his just kill you? I laugh every time I see it.

His first stick-your-head-in-a-stupid-place-for-a-picture.

His first slide ride.

And his first encounter with grass.

And let's not neglect to mention his first romper. 

Though, those ham hocks sure are giving this romper a run for its money.


a lesson in kindness

Josh, Asher, and I live in a second-floor apartment. We have downstairs neighbors and upstairs neighbors. Our apartment is like any other cheap apartment: it's old, it creaks, and it sometimes grows mold. Because we have a baby (and you know, because we pay to live here) we walk around a bit, even in the middle of the night. Our downstairs neighbors took issue with that and started pounding on their ceiling in a rude, albeit clear, communication to shut up.

When this first started I did not handle it well. In fact, I was quite put out about it. Josh first approached them and explained that we had a six-month-old baby and that the baby was going through a rough sleeping period. "So if you could not pound on your ceiling at midnight, we'd really appreciate it. Thanks."

After that encounter, I started hearing blaring, pounding music from downstairs. So I asked them about it. I learned that she was pregnant and couldn't sleep when she could hear me walking around. So she turned on the radio full blast. Let me put it to the record that I do not gallop, galumph, or otherwise pound around my apartment. If I did, sure, maybe be a little upset about it. But really, I just live here.

A few weeks went by, and in the late afternoon I heard them pound on their ceiling again, for what I can only imagine was Asher's light floor kicking (which might be mildly irritating, but certainly not ceiling-pounding worthy). I went down to apologize, because I hate having people mad at me. They had just had their baby, and so I guess I could kind of understand how some minor floor kicking wouldn't be appreciated.

A week or so later, Asher woke for up the day around 6:30 or 7:00. (He's an early riser.) By this point both Josh and I are very cautious about our walking and try very hard to tread lightly, especially when the hours are late or early. Josh was still sleeping; the apartment was dark and quiet. Just as I wrapped up Asher's morning nursing, I heard a few taps on our front door.

In a dark apartment, barely clothed in loose pajamas, with babe in arms, I answered. The husband from downstairs was at our door, asking me if I could possibly be quieter, because they had just gotten their baby to sleep. I hardly knew what to say. My face may have conveyed some incredulity, because I was doing my best (and had been doing my best for some time). I told him that I didn't know what else I could do to be quieter, and I recommended that he get a white noise machine for the baby's room. I told him that we have one and love it.

The rest of the day I was in a high state of anger and frustration. What do they want from me? I'm doing the best I can! I want a house! Haven't they lived in an apartment before? Good hell! Josh calmly and reasonably pointed out that I needed to figure something out, because staying mad wasn't going to cut it.

I wrestled with myself and my pride. I prayed and vented and tiptoed around, trying to find a solution. And my thoughts kept returning to kindness. You never regret being kind to someone, and maybe being kind to those sensitive neighbors would make it harder for us to hate each other. I went to Target that morning and bought them their own white noise machine. I figured they wouldn't go out and get one, especially with a brand new baby in tow. So I bought it for them. I tied a blue bow around it, wrote a short note in a card, and knocked on their door.

The dad answered, fussy newborn nuzzled in the crook of his arm. My heart softened as I remembered those overwhelming days of brand-new parenthood. I smiled, a smile that I found was genuine, and handed over my olive branch.

We've seen them a few times since then, and I have found that it really is harder to hate them now that I've been kind. As much as it pains me to admit, I needed them. I needed this opportunity to choose kindness instead of anger. I needed to remember that kindness never begets regret, but rather engenders a soft and empathetic heart.

This post is dedicated to my grandma who passed away three years ago today. In this situation, I found myself asking, What would Grandma do? She would know exactly how to respond to these neighbors. I've been missing her an extra measure these past few weeks, and this experience brought me closer to her and made me remember that even though I can't call her on the phone, she's still close by and aware of me and my life.
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