Unexpected.

I have always loved this poem by Robert Frost. You’re probably familiar with it too…

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

 

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Lately I’ve been thinking about the last two lines in the third stanza.  Until recently, I thought I would always eventually find myself on the first road…the place I thought my life would look like.  After some pretty significant differences at the outset of my parenting career, I figured I was just on a detour and I’d eventually rejoin the masses on the main road.  But I forgot about way leading on to way….I didn’t anticipate the ways that I would change and the people I would meet on my road and how that would influence future decisions, especially those having to do with this beautiful little girl in our house.   So I’m learning to accustom myself to surprises, to keep listening to my instincts and to appreciate the joy and excitement on this road.  I think I’m improving my adaptability but my stress resilience and courage could still use some work.  A lot of times it’s scary and intimidating to do things I’ve never seen done before.  I have no context for what “that life” should look like so I create it the best I can with the tools and knowledge I have, trying imbue it with as much confidence as I can muster and striving mightily to incorporate the all the goodness I was given growing up.  This effort, in turn, reinforces my ability to trust myself so at the next crossroads I assess the situation and make the choice that seems right for us.

Does everyone feel a bit lonely on their road sometimes?  This one can be a lonely place because I think maybe my life is a hard one to understand if you haven’t lived it or listened well and it’s hard not to be understood.  And yet, there are parts of this road that have been so intensely personal and beautiful that I usually don’t just volunteer my story, I wait for people earn the right to hear it.  I wait until I know it can be appreciated because I treasure all of it.  It is my story, after all.

So last night as I brushed a kiss across the cheek of my long-awaited, naturally-birthed, ivf, co-sleeping, nursing Montessori pre-schooler, I felt nervous, brave and very, very, grateful for the beauty she’s shown me along the way.

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Conversations

My last day of 31, celebrated with these lovely ladies!

Here have been a few of the things we’ve been talking about at our house lately:

We swapped cars with our friends last week because they needed our truck for girls camp.  We drove their Jeep for a week, but according to Jessica, we drove their GPS for a week.  As we were driving around the neighborhood looking for our stolen trashcan Jess asked me “Mom, can I drive the GPS?”  “No J, you’re not old enough to drive yet.”  But “Mom, I’m big. I’m a big girl (only the sweet way she says it sounds like “geal”).”
“I know baby but you’ve still got a grow a bit so your feet can reach the pedals.”  Then a few days later “Mom, am I big enough to drive yet?”
This could be a long 13 years.

Family Movie Night.  Jess thought we needed all those other ingredients to compliment our egg rolls.

“Mom, I think I lost a tooth!”
“What!?”
“See, right here (inserting her tongue through a gap in her teeth), I lost a tooth!”
“No J, you still have all your teeth.  Your teeth fall out when your big ones are ready to grow in and those big ones aren’t quite ready yet.”
“Oh.” (Disheartened)
A few days later…”Mom look, now did I loose a tooth?”
Repeat every few days.

Happy Birthday to me!  Cupcakes after sushi.  Yeah, I was a little tired :).

While cutting vegetables for lunch at the island…
“Mom, I miss Jesus.”
Pausing to be sure I just heard what I think I heard, “You do?  I miss him too.”
“Yeah, I wish he could come to our house.”
“That would be cool wouldn’t it?  When he comes again I hope he comes to our house.  That would be awesome.  What would you do if he came to our house?”
“I would hug him, I really miss Him.”
“I bet he would love that.  I think he misses you too….”
Then we proceeded to have a conversation about how to feel close to Jesus even when he’s not here.
I’m kind of floored by the stuff she comes up with and the way she connects things.

Loving the sink these days (and the sprayer).

“Mom, what did you play when you were little?”
“Well, I read books, I played outside, went swimming in our swimming pool and played with my sisters.”
“But you don’t have any sisters.”
“Yes, I do, Auntie Kristin, Auntie Lisa, Aunt Alli and Aunt Ash, they are all my sisters and we played together when we were little.”
Thoughtful and melancholy “But mom, I don’t have any sisters.  I am a sister but I don’t have any sisters.  Or brothers.”
“That’s true, you don’t huh?”
Starting to cry, “Yeah, I want one.  I really wish I had one.”
“I wish you did too, maybe someday we can have a brother or sister.”
“Yeah, but I want one right now.”
“It’s hard to want something and not have it.”
Really crying, “Yeah, and I just want a sister.”
So I held her and we talked a little about Presley and Riley and how Ri could understand how she felt because she had to wait a long time for Presley.  And how Aubrey had to wait a long time for Andrew and then Baby Cait and how she still has to wait to play with Baby Cait.  Jess LOVES Presley and she has been into babies lately.  A while back we had a similar conversation about her wanting a baby.  I explained to her that some bodies can grow babies and have nupmee (nurse) at the same time but that my body can’t.  So whenever she’s done nursing maybe we can have a baby.  It seemed like an awful lot to burden a 3 yr old with at the time, especially when, with a quivering lower lip she said “I’m all done with nupmee, I don’t want to have anymore.”  I assured her that she didn’t have to hurry and that we could have nupmee for as long as she wanted to.  She held firm for a few more minutes and then broke into tears and nursed to sleep, looking up at me kind of heartbroken.  I cried too, in part, because I felt understood.  It may seem silly, but I think she understands an awful lot and we both know she’s not ready to stop nursing and we both would love another baby in this house so we both realized the predicament that we are in.  This nursing relationship is pretty intimate and I’m quite sure that we’re the only two who can completely understand it.  I’m still a bit torn over whether this was a too much for her.  There was a big part of me that wanted to protect her from this aspect of my world, infertility.  I don’t want it to be her burden too, but I realize that it is.  That in our family, this is something that affects all of us.  And she asked, so I told her.  So this week, we talked about it again.  She didn’t make any commitments to wean this time (but it’s coming, slow and steady) but she wanted to be heard.  She was having a hard time with it and I was glad she brought it up.  And I guess if it was too much, maybe she would’ve told me…like she did a few weeks ago when I was asking her what she thought about preschools.  She got frustrated and asked me to stop asking her about it.  She just wanted me and daddy to decide. 🙂  I felt part embarrassment about over-involving her in decision-making around here, and part comfort that she could recognize that and articulate it.

Little Gardening Helper.  I was carrying tomatoes in my shirt because we filled the bowl we were using, so she wanted me to show her how she could do that too :).

 

Then, after happening upon me in the bathroom a few weeks ago, she was extremely curious and had some pointed questions about menstrual cycles.  Heaven help me (and the rest of the nursery class) I explained the 3 yr old version of female reproduction the best I could and mentioned that it would probably be best to only talk about this with our family.  I didn’t know how much of it actual sunk in because she confused it for gravity in a conversation a few days later.  But then yesterday, after she watched me give blood, she told me that she hadn’t wanted me to give blood, because she wanted me to save my blood for growing a baby.  I was confused at first but then I realized what she meant so I explained as best I could about how reproductive blood was different from regular blood (although, come to think of it, I’m not entirely sure I understand exactly how that works :)).  I need a good book or video about the body for kids.  Anyone have any recommendations?  I think she may be smarter than me by the time she’s 4.  Her questions are getting tricky :).

My Mother’s Day Presents.  She gave them to me as soon as she got home from the store on Saturday…popcorn.  She knows me well :).

She’s pretty fun to talk to.  I love that kid.

 

Post Script: (8/27/17) We’ve been using the book “It’s Not the Stork” for years and we’ve loved the playful and informative way it talks about bodies, babies and growing up!

Uh, has it really been 4 months?

Oops.  Well, I had a few funny things I wanted to write about so without further ado, here they are:

Jess, from the backseat: “Mommy, I wan help you drive”
Mommy: “Sorry baby, you have to stay in your seat.”
Jess, still in the backseat: “I’m not a baby, I’m a big girl.  But I really want to mom.”
Mommy: “Well, if you can reach, you’re welcome to help me.”
Jess:  “I can’t reach mom, maybe if I was an octopus!”

Jess, trying to turn off the light in her room (she could reach the lights at Lisa’s but she can’t here.  This is frustrating for her). “I can’t do it mom, it’s bust!”
I think she was experimenting with the phrase “it’s busted” and that was her best attempt.

There’s more, but I can’t remember and she just woke up…love you all.

Poconuts

So Jessica discovered “Jake and the Neverland Pirates” on the Disney channel and she really likes it.  We had to have a little discussion about not emulating Captain Hook but she’ll go around saying things like “Capin Hook’s a seeky sook!”  (Captain Hook is a sneaky snook!, a quote from one of the pirates).  And last night we had imaginary “poconuts” (coconuts) falling down our stairs.  Daddy had to watch out as he was coming up because they were hitting him.  Then as she was trying to not brush her teeth she started singing a song about strawberries and poconuts to the tune of “Once there was a snowman.”  She was yelling to “Sista Millah Mommy” in the “microphone” again too.  Tonight she just laughed and laughed while we tickled her, she tickled us and we all took turns hiding.  The highlight of our day was probably when she threw her shoe in the toilet at the Middle School.  Ritchie is disinfecting it now.  I love that girl.

Fall, it’s so good to see you.

The other day when we went to HEB, Jess wanted to ride the carousel out front.  Thanks to Grama, she knows that it moves now.  Anyway, I gave her $5 to see what she’d spend it on.  We went to customer service and she got change, she rode the carousel, bought two .25 gumballs from the gumball machine and then purchased this assortment of candy.  We had previously discussed her desire for popsicles so I told her she could be the one to buy the popsicles this week with her $5.  She came home, tasted all the candy and didn’t like any of it and wished she’d bought the popsicles.  That’s usually how she is about candy, except for blue lollipops.  

I’ve been doing a little bit of sewing for some extra money.  Nothing major, just sewing on girl scout patches but I happen to have a neighbor who runs 3 troops chock full of women who either don’t know a thing about needle and thread or don’t have time to think about it so I have a bunch of ladies willing to place the patches with a small spot of stitching glue and then pay me $1/patch to sew them on.  Just something for a tiny bit of extra money which we’ve put towards some fun outside things for Jess.  I’ve mentioned the trike.  Ritchie’s been working on the newest addition to our backyard…reassembling a used playset.  He finished the swings last night (in part because Jess reminded him every time we talked about it that even though the slide was done, the swings were not) and Jess and I spent the morning outside.  It was glorious.  Sometimes I feel like there are only few things I can share with her from my childhood environment.  We will probably not have a big racous family with lots of siblings to play with.  We don’t live in a place that has beautiful-great-to-be-outside weather all the time but backyard family fun is something I can definitely manage, especially on a beautiful fall day like today.  We took turns flying down the bumpy slide, we played on the swings, next to each other, with her on my lap (I will be introducing her to the “kick the ball while swinging game” a bit later).  We took turns rolling all of her many balls down the slide with one of us rolling from the top and the other one catching at the bottom.  She came up with a lot of variations.  Her first goal was to make the ball fly out of my lap and onto the grass next to me.  Next she wanted me to lay down on my back with my feet at the end of the slide, she was trying to get the ball to roll to my nose.  I hope I never forget her sweet little self 2 year old self, laying back in the grass with the hands clasped behind her head, her wispy blonde hair all wild around here, grinning up at me and the sky. When she hit her target she would yell out “Yep!” or “Got it!” or “Nope, didn’t get it!”   We did this ball game for at least an hour and it was fabulous.  She just giggled and smiled and had a great time.  (Except for the time she tried to carry 3 balls up the ladder with her and she fell, but I think she won’t try that again).  I loved being outside with her, distraction free, in the gorgeous windy weather that we had today.  Let the backyard family fun begin.

Jess & Henry

After we came in tonight (because she was eventually too cold) she pulled out her megaphone and yelled “Hey Sister Miller!” into it.  Ritchie and I looked at each other and looked at her and just laughed and laughed.  Our little friend Riley was over yesterday and she calls me Sister Miller.  So Jess went around calling us both Sister Miller (kind of like she called both of us “Tickle Gurl” the other night).  At one point this was how our conversation (taking turns yelling into the megaphone of course) went down:
“Sister Miller, how are you? Great?”
“Yep, Jessie Miller, I’m great. How are you?”
“I’m not Dessie Miller, I’m dus Dessie and I’m not good.”
“You’re not good?”
“No”
Why not?”
“I want my cuhsins.”  This girl misses her cousins and she means it.  We pray for them at dinner and or bedtime.  We talk about them all the time and she misses them verbally at least once every single day.  However, she’s not a big fan of webcamming.  She’s interested in face to face playtime, no substitutions.  I’m glad we have friendly next door neighbor kids but I’m really wishing one of you was on my other side.

 Bowling.  After Riley helped her roll it, they’d both squat down to see how many pins she knocked over.  She’d come back defeated or excited.

 

 Haircut at Cindi’s

 

 Ritchie’s Lorry Friend at the zoo, it was licking his ear.
For a few weeks, she was having a sprinkles snack everyday.  Her favorite part was opening each section of the 6 sprinkle jar and dumping some into her plastic cupcake “bowl.”
 At the zoo

 

We ran barefoot for half a block to catch up with the ice cream truck for this neopolitan ice cream sandwich.  See her dirty feet?  It was awesome.  Sometimes she wakes up from her nap to the song from the ice cream truck.   This particular day we didn’t have time to don our shoes so I carried her across Manhattan Way and we caught up with the ice cream lady half way down the other side of Sumantra Cliff.  “Run mom, less run!”  She didn’t finish the sandwich.  We usually just patronize the ice cream truck for the experience.

Again, there’s more to tell, about 3 trips to the bathroom within 15 minutes at HEB yesterday, another accident at Old Navy, my ‘I throw away really poopy panties policy’ (Not to punish but simply to assauge my own guilt about waste) and the aforementioned “Tickle Gurl” with the turqouise beaded flapper hat.  If only I didn’t need sleep.  Love to you all.  Adieu.

It Pays to be Honest


Today I had A LOT of errands to run so by the time I got to Walmart I was tired and ready to go home but I had a long list of groceries to pick up. As I headed towards the store, I noticed that a purse had been left in one of the carts outside. Another gal and I both saw it and we talked about how scared we’d be to realize we’d left a purse somewhere. I had to return some leaky facewash anyway so I took the purse in to Customer Service. Just after I handed it to the Walmart gal, a lady came up to the customer service desk looking a little frazzled. The Walmart gal guessed that she was looking for her purse so she returned it to her with a gesture towards me to indicate that I’d brought it back. The woman was so grateful and kept thanking me and saying “God bless you.” I told her it was no problem and I would’ve panicked if I’d been in her shoes and that I was just glad she had it back. She asked where I’d found it, shook her head, thanked me again and left. She returned about a minute later and held out a $100 bill. I told her it wasn’t necessary, it was really no problem and I was just glad she’d found her purse. She kept insisting and finally said “Please take it, I want to bless your life. ” So I took it, thanked her profusely and sat there in a stupor for a minute or two. Are you kidding me? $100 for returning a purse? I mean, we’d all be profoundly grateful but that’s grateful and extremely generous.

After a second, the guy next to me was like “Did she just give you $100??” I replied that she had and self-consciously said that anyone would’ve returned the purse. He said “No, not anyone.” To which I replied, “But most people would’ve” and he agreed. I thought a lot about those three conversations with the girl in the parking lot, the lady with the purse and the guy in customer service. It was rewarding to realize that most people are good and honest and to have it re-affirmed by three total strangers at Walmart. It was also comforting to realize that if it had been my purse, there was a good chance that someone would’ve done the same thing I did without giving it a second thought. After finishing my transaction, I wandered aimlessly around Walmart for about half an hour thinking about how lucky I was because so many things had to happen just right for me to be the one to find the purse and get the $100. What a nice lady and what a blessing!