Monday, August 27, 2012


We watch the movie together on the couch - a film that we've both seen approximately 57 times.  He clutches his bear and monkey, every once in awhile burying his tiny face in them and inhaling deeply - absorbing their smell that he must find so familiar and calming.  The part with the donkey in the carriage comes on the screen and I look at his face expectantly.  I know he laughs at this scene every time.  I love his laugh because it is so full and giving.  His laugh recharges my batteries and fills my soul to the brim.
I watch him and his brother from my perch on the bench bordering the playground.  I want to take out my book to read while they play - giggling and running - sweating around the temples.  I know that as soon as I let down my guard and pull out my book something will happen.  His impulses will take over and someone will get pushed, hit, or bitten.  I try hard to imagine what it must be like to live with such impulsive behavior. 
I'm listening to him play in the other room.  His life is one giant continuation of every movie he's ever seen.  When played through a screen, he absorbs absolutely everything that flashes before his eyes.  I struggle with how it takes him longer than usual to memorize songs I sing to him every night, but will memorize the complex script of a movie he's seen only once.  I read once that his birthmom loved movies, and I wonder how deeply interests can be engrained into the chromosomes that make up our being.  I wonder about such things now that he is in my life.  These are the questions I ask no one in particular, wanting answers that I can't have.
I ask him questions all day.  So many questions that I become weary of hearing myself speak.  He only finds the time and interest to half-answer three, and only after I make him stop and look me in the eyes.  Sometimes I feel as though our conversations only happen on his terms.  Sometimes this makes me sad.  Most times I just keep asking the unanswered questions.
His eyes open wide and get big when he's done something he's proud of.  "You're so proud of me?"  he asks with wide eyes and a voice so loud that it carries across the rooms of his sleeping brothers.  Of course I'm proud.  Every day I find something else to be proud of. Just when I think about how I can't understand him, or that he can't possibly be any worse off than he is at a certain moment, my heart swells with pride.
My boy.  My oldest.  I watch him growl ferociously at passers-by.  I know he is pretending to be a dinosaur, like the one he saw earlier.  They probably think he's just being a naughty little boy.  I try to decide whether I should care what they think.  I decide that for his own good I should.  I can't have him running around playgrounds scaring other little kids.  It just isn't good social skills.
Someone offers advice I didn't ask for.  I find myself wondering how they can even begin to understand this child I love with my whole heart.  This child that I, myself, have trouble understanding.  I want them to stop talking and to look at him like I do.  I want them to remember that he's only four.  I want them to love him without expectations.  Although I look into their eyes and nod in agreement, I also just want them to walk away if they can't see him the way I do.
His piercing scream fills my ears for the eighth time today.  It's as though it is a reflex to him, something he just automatically does when I do or tell him something he doesn't like.  I find myself avoiding confrontation because I despise that scream.  But that's his intention, right?  It takes his dad over the top every time.  I can't understand it, no matter how hard I try - it is so far from my practical nature to do anything like scream the instant someone disagrees with my perceived plan.  I wonder to myself if and when this will end.  Will he do this to his kindergarten teacher, or worse - his high school teacher?  
When I walk in the door his smile is the first I see.  It's that smile that I think about when I'm away from him.  It's that smile that glues my broken heart back together. It comes out when he is trying to make his brother laugh, and when he thinks something is ironic, although he doesn't know yet what that means.  I get to see it when I walk in the door and he's missed me. I can feel it warming me from the inside.
I'm trying to stay awake this early morning as the sun rises above the trees outside our house and a tiny baby insists on my company.  I lay him on the bed in front of me and will him to go to sleep, allowing me just 20 more minutes of night-time.  At that moment he tiptoes into my bedroom and silently climbs onto the bed next to me.  Without saying a word to me he lies down next to his baby brother.  I watch, in awe as he whispers sweet words to the tiny person I brought home less than three weeks ago.  This gentleness is a new development.  I want to see more.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Family of Five.

Have you heard that we're now a family of five?
We had a lot of help in the beginning, but everyone kept leaving - first we had Cece as back-up.  But then she had to go home to Ohio to teach, or something like that.
 Then the volunteers were here to help out continuously, but in case you haven't heard - they had to leave too.

So now it's just the five of us.  And so far we're surviving.
Actually, we're more than surviving.  We're having a lot of fun figuring this out, and because we off this week, and no one else is really around, we are able to figure it out without having to leave our house, work, or do much of anything else... which is nice.

In case you wondered... both boys LOVE their little brother - which is more than I expected. 

Not that he's not totally irresistible, but my definition of irresistible is a little different than Miles' and Liam's.

2 weeks old today.

 However, I think Ollie's pretty universally irresistible though.

But obviously I'm biased.

And we've had plenty of August monsoons to keep us locked inside and entertained at the same time.

Today life is good.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Saying Goodbye

 You can dance 'til you're dizzy...
Paint 'til you're blue...
There's no place, not one,
That my love can't find you.
-nancy tillman

Yesterday my heart felt broken.

We had to say goodbye to twelve people that I have spent the last year of my life loving. 

Twelve people from twelve different places - all the corners of the world.

Twelve people that we lived with, worked with, laughed with, and cried with.

Twelve people who transformed into my teachers, siblings, and friends.

Twelve young people that have a whole lifetime ahead of them, and not a single one of them without a handful of tangible possibilities to explore.

Twelve people that I loved with my whole heart.

Oh....did I already mention that?  Well, it's worth mentioning twice.

Twelve people that loved YOU.

I want you to remember them.  To engrave their memories into your minds, because these people helped RAISE you.  I know in 10 or even 5 years it will be hard to remember that, and it breaks my heart.  Because over the course of the past year they have really been the most important people in your lives.  They picked you up when you fell.  They kissed your ouchies, laughed at your ways, and doled out hugs as if they never could run out.


And so did your father and I.

They were funny, adventurous, and altogether lovely - the most wonderful group of young adults I've ever been around.

My cup runneth over.

Until we meet again.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Beginning Days

"This is the first day of my life
Glad I didn't die before I met you
Now I don't care, I could go anywhere with you
And I'd probably be happy"
-Bright Eyes

The first few hours of your life.
I've mentioned before that you were "fierce", so I shouldn't have been surprised when your entrance into the world was unlike anything I expected.  Like your legacy inside my womb, it was active and fast moving - leaving no room for relief or regret.

Earlier on Tuesday we brought your Cece home from the airport.  I laughed about how unfortunate it would be if I didn't have you while she was still here.  That night I went over to the volunteer house to watch Twilight and to eat ice cream.  I was on fire - throwing out jokes left and right.  You would have been so proud.  Wait... you were there to hear them all.  They were good, weren't they?

You should know that I put down on my calendar that I was going to have you by lunchtime the next day - because I thought it would be the perfect day for you to be born, and (more importantly) I wanted to make sure I got a proper lunch on the day you were born.  You're a good listener.

Our first afternoon together in the hospital - just the two of us.

I went home early - I think during the part where Bella starts researching what Edward is.  I hate that part of the movie.  That was around 11:00 p.m. and I was seconds away from turning into a pumpkin - although I so closely resembled one that it wouldn't have mattered. So I waddled home and climbed into bed.

But not for long.  You woke me up just minutes after midnight.  It wasn't in a very nice way either.  I thought I'd wait you out.  You see, your brother had me going for days.  After 45 minutes I woke up your dad and told him we HAD TO GO.

Meeting your big brothers for the first time.

We got to the hospital at 1:40 a.m.  I told the midwife I wanted an epidural.  She convinced me to try some other things.  I was in too much pain to argue.  I tried her things.  I told her after each thing that I wanted an epidural.  We were having some sort of breakdown in communication.  Like I said, you were fierce.

Our first family portrait as a family of five.  Sorry about your hat.

At 4:30, after approximately 2.5 hours worth of begging, she started to believe me that I needed something strong - and RIGHT THEN.  They brought in the guy that gives out such goodness as epidurals.  If I could have had my wits about me, I would have hugged him. 

That man tried for a long time to give your mom the goods.  He had to keep stopping because you kept interrupting.  If you must know....I looked at my chart and it said that he didn't get the needle in until 4:58 a.m.

You were born at 5:06 a.m.  So you guessed it - no epidural for your mom.  I forgive you.

Not only did I get lunch, but breakfast too.  That first day was quiet and relaxing.  After your dad went home to email all of our friends and family with the news of your arrival (and probably to check twitter and update himself on the Olympics) it was just the two of us.  

An afternoon with no interruptions, no television, no internet, no book to distract me.  Only your face -  and tiny hands - and the fact that I could actually lie down on a bed without my body hating gravity.  Everything seemed so easy that we decided to go home less than 13 hours after you joined us. 
Your brothers loved you instantly.  Miles ran to the car to meet us and called you instantly by name.  Liam hasn't stopped kissing your hand since you got out of the car four days ago.  They both call you their "Baby brother Oliver."  I think you'll be great friends.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

I'd like to introduce....

19 inch starting forward....

For the Wy-Fi basketball team....

Traveling from the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine, Northern Ireland....

A destined sprinter - arriving as quickly as possible on Wednesday morning at 5:00 a.m....

Soon-to-be holding passports from the U.S., Great Britain, and Ireland....

Weighing in at 7 lb. and 4 oz. (I didn't think any of you would understand the kg weight)....

But I should assume that you're all not stupid and couldn't figure it out.....

Do you hate me yet for dragging this out?.....

Without further adieu.....

I'd like you to meet, Oliver Duane - a.k.a. "Ollie"

I promise to post more pictures when I slightly recover from the whiplash of his birth.  Everyone came home last night - just 13 hours after his birth, so obviously everyone is doing great. 

Your very sore and happy blogger.

Friday, August 3, 2012

A conversation - MANO-Y-MANO

 "Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."  Elizabeth Stone

Yesterday I passed my driving test.

I was so proud of myself.  You see, what I didn't tell you is that I failed miserably the first time - about 3 weeks ago.  So miserably, that I wondered whether I had been driving according to the law over the past 16 years, or whether I had actually been just running over small animals and children all this time without realizing it.  But yesterday the test-giver told me that I was "an excellent driver".
It could be because I am an excellent driver, or it could also be because he was so chatty and talkative that he missed the curb I jumped halfway through the test.
I didn't jump a curb... obviously. But he was so talkative that at one point I almost forgot what his directions had been and was praying that I was still going in the right direction.  (That was during the independent driving section when I was supposed to be following signs.)

But that isn't what I wanted my post to be about.
It's about what happened afterwards.
I treated myself to two things on my way home for being so awesome.
  1. A drive on the Causeway Coastal Route.
  2. And an ice cream cone at White Park Bay - my favorite beach.  

It was a beautiful day.  I was feeling more-than-good - which is rare these days.   And as I was sitting there soaking up the sun, enjoying the sea breeze in my hair (which is nothing like the Sea Breeze face wash I used during my teenage years), and burying my ice cream cone in the sand (which is a testament to how disappointed I've been in the ice cream they have here) I was getting kicked around from the inside by a feisty little person.

So I talked to them.
I haven't really done that yet, and it seemed like a good thing to do with my due date looming on the horizon - a time when I would have their undivided attention without the interruption of crying, eating, or messing.
We had a talk.  I told him or her everything I wanted them to know about life out here.  The simple stuff.  Like: You will be a great sleeper.  Your brothers are fantastic car drivers.  And the ice cream is much better when it comes straight out of a truck with "Schwans" written on the side.
I told him or her that I was nervous, but not because I didn't think they were fantastic.  I'm nervous because their older brother made labor last for a long long time.  I confessed that I'm not ready for them to come out, because then I'll have to share them with the world, rather than having these last few days just to myself.  I told them that they better not do crack, because I've had to go nearly 10 months without red wine and soft cheeses, and that sacrifice deserves to be honored.

I also told him or her that the ocean sounds much better from out here, and that if they didn't come soon enough I wasn't above resorting to acupuncture or castor oil again.  I told them how silly the volunteers are, and how gorgeous days like today make every other day seem like it never existed.  I told them that musicians like Tom Petty and Nirvana changed their mom's life, and I expect him or her to feel the same. I asked them to be nice to me.

It was a beautiful moment.  Just between me and my little person.  A little person I hope you all get to meet very soon. 

Wednesday, August 1, 2012