Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Outdoor Medicine

After a heavy afternoon of partying with her baby cousin on his first birthday, Brees woke
up on Sunday morning with a stuffy nose and the desire to do nothing but nap and
cuddle with her taggie.  We hung out at home all day, rocking and holding our baby
girl between her long naps.  By late afternoon, Shawn, Isabelle, and I were ready for
some fresh air and sunshine.  While Brees slept her cough and sniffles away, the three of
us brought the baby monitor outside and sat on the back patio for a while.  While Shawn
and I soaked up the sunshine and quiet afternoon air, Isabelle soaked up her Mama
and Daddy's attention, loving every minute of her alone time with us.  She told us long
stories about school, her plans for a big birthday slumber party, and her Valentine's
Day wishlist.  Shawn enjoyed a beer and I had ice cream.  It was a short break from the
busy family life but we all went back inside feeling rejuvenated.  And I'm pretty sure
Belle didn't stop smiling for at least an hour.

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Sunday, January 29, 2012

Steppin' Out Saturday: Girls in Tights

Saturday we stepped out to our baby cousin's first birthday party, a happy
celebration indeed!  We made baby Graison a handmade birthday card, wrapped up his
toy train before Brees could steal it, and headed out for a day of fun with our family.  I
always leave children's birthday parties wondering, in the midst of chasing after my
children and trying to help the hostess as much as I can: Did I even sit down and have
one decent conversation?  My cousins and I always call each other on the way home,
our babies partied out and napping in the car, and laugh about how we spent most of
the party wiping noses, changing diapers, keeping the littles fed and happy.  We
slightly remember talking to each other and catching up, but it's all a sugar rush blur.
The joys of motherhood and the memory deficit that accompanies it...
We managed to beat the cool, windy day for a few photos, with camera shy Shawn
making a rare appearance:
Dress, belt, and tights: F21
Cardi: AE
Boots: Rue21
Dress and tights: Old Navy
Boots: Kohls
Dress and tights: Carters
Hat: Melondipity
Shoes: Keds
Hope you are all enjoying your time off this lovely weekend!!

pleated poppy

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Friday, January 27, 2012

My Joy

I had a lovely Friday recap post planned and ready for publishing: a report of how
my experience with meal planning is going so far, our progress and new goals for
healthy, clean living, links to a few favorite blogs and internet wanderings.  But,
on Wednesday, my week fell apart and none of those things seemed to
matter anymore.
Several months ago, I began caring for a patient who, for the sake of confidentiality, we
will call Joy.  Joy was a very sad woman, she had lived a hard life: the single mother to
3 children, no education, no family to help her, struggling to make ends meet as an
African-American woman stuck in an impoverished cycle.  She struggled with drug abuse
and depression, did things she was not proud of to survive.  Joy was open, honest,
and genuinely kind.  She greeted me at her door each week, "Come in, Miss Olivia, my
special nurse!".  We had long talks about her family, her health, her situation.  Joy's
children had very little involvement in her life now that they are grown.  Her
relationship with her daughter was volatile, strained to say the least.  I only met her
daughter once and it involved her verbally abusing her mother, screaming at me because 
I wanted to send Joy to the hospital for carbon monoxide poisoning.  Her daughter was
angry because if her mother went to the hospital, she would have to take off work.  She
said her mother wasn't worth that.
None of this is unusual.  Working in home health, going into patients' homes and dealing
with their daily lives, I see these kinds of situations daily.  But there was just
something special about Joy, we connected on a different level.  I hugged her every time
I saw her and she always told me, "You just don't know how good it feels to be hugged.
Every person deserves that, to be hugged.  It just makes me feel loved for a change".
Such a simple act, yet monumental for my lonely Joy.
On Wednesday night, as Shawn and I sat together in our living room, our babies asleep
in their beds, I received a phone call from Joy's daughter.  "My mama's dead.  They told
me to call you".  
"What?" I cried into the phone.  I tried to remain as professional as possible, refrained
from asking too many questions, tried not to seem intrusive.  I offered my
sincere condolences, offered to help in any way I could.  "I loved your mother so much", I
told Joy's daughter.  "It was an honor to care for her".  "Yeah, well, whatever", she
replied.  And then she hung up.
I dropped the phone, staring at Shawn in disbelief.  Joy is dead.  Tears streamed down
my face as I imagined her last day.  Was she alone?  Was she scared?  Did anyone give her
a hug that day, those hugs she appreciated so much?  The other nurses in my office had
the same reaction when I informed them of the news the next morning.  We mourned
our sweet Joy, remembering the kindness she shared with us all.  I wonder what Joy
would think if she knew what a positive impact she had on our group of nurses?
Joy was a person who touched my heart in an unforgettable way.  She wore a smile
despite having pain in her heart, she admitted her faults while keeping a positive
attitude.  She welcomed me into her home and offered me her trust despite being
hurt repeatedly through her life.  Joy reminded me that every person bears beauty and
light, even under the thickest layers of pain.  Life can be harsh and unfair, it can tarnish
even the strongest of characters.  But we should never stop believing in the goodness of
each other, never give up on the possibility to love and be loved.  Never underestimate
the power of human touch and soulful connections.  And so I will move forward from this
loss knowing a little more about myself, about life, about the mark I want to make on my
own personal journey.  I will move forward a blessed person for having crossed paths
with Joy.

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Thursday, January 26, 2012

Little Mama

I called Isabelle to the dinner table the other night and she responded with "Just one
minute, Mama!  I'm breastfeeding my baby right now!".  I, of course, had to check in on
her and see what all this breastfeeding business was about.  There, in a quiet corner of
our living room, in the big lazy rocker recliner where I have nursed my own babies, was
my oldest daughter and her baby doll.  Isabelle held her favorite baby against her
chest, rubbing her back with the most peaceful look on her face.
"What are you doing?", I asked her.
"Nursing my baby.  She was a little fussy but she feels much better now", 
she calmly replied.
So natural, imitating her mama and the precious act she has watched over and over for
the last year.  She has always been inquisitive about breastfeeding, since before Brees
was born and I began telling her how mama was going to feed the baby.  She has always
been my biggest helper: bringing me water while I nursed Brees, reading us a story
and keeping us company, covering her sister with a blanket in case she was cold.  This
is a part of our family life, a process that takes place daily and therefore seems natural.
So I wasn't surprised to walk in and find her nursing her own baby.  There is a nurturing
side to Isabelle that just comes naturally, it is a part of who she is.
Both of our girls love their baby dolls, it's not something we've ever pushed on them
or decided for them, they just love carrying those babies around and being little mamas.
My mom says I was the same way.  I think that there's something special about
expressing the natural urge to nurture, allowing them the space and time to explore the
need to love and provide care.  It's something I understand completely: the
happiness obtained from giving of yourself to others.  I don't know what kind of women
my girls will grow up to be, I'm not sure what decisions they will make or where their
lives will take them.  But I promise, little ones, to always allow you the opportunity to
explore who you are, who you want to be.  I promise to hand you a burp rag and play
right along when you breastfeed your baby.
That's what mamas are for.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Explorers

Saturday was a good day spent at our local Children's Museum.  Do you know why I
like taking my kids to places such as these?  Because they are made specifically to
allow children to explore and play and use their imaginations, all while providing a safe
and carefree environment.  We can let them run wild and touch anything they want, they
can meet new friends and discover new things.  They can PLAY, one of the most
important parts of childhood.  And the mamas and the daddies get to play, too.
Always a plus in my book.
Things we learned at the museum:
Isabelle is happy wherever there are dress-up clothes, Brees is happy wherever 
there's a kitchen.  Will this translate into their futures?
Shawn will always find a musical instrument to jam on, no matter where we go.
I need a floral head wreath to wear on the daily, like NOW.
And we all love bubbles, train sets, and wacky mirrors, in that order.
This was one of the first outings we've had where I noticed a very big change in Brees:
she had no interest in being in her carrier, didn't want anyone to hold her.  She wanted to
run, touching everything in sight.  She stacked blocks, put on her own glittery skirt, and
kept up with her big sister like a little shadow.  I caught myself smiling as I watched her
so confidently explore this magical, colorful place.  Our little baby is growing so big...
Despite a rough start, it was a wonderful day for our family: Isabelle the artist,
Brees the explorer/engineer, Daddy the musician, Mama the eternal flower child. 
 I love days like these.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Steppin' Out Saturday: Children's Museum

Saturday we stepped out downtown to the Children's Museum.  I've been looking forward
to this trip all week, a lazy Saturday with my favorite people, playing and smiling and
enjoying our time off, TOGETHER.  As usual, I woke before everyone else: drank some
tea, watched the news (Newt Gingrich scolding the moderator during the South
Carolina debates was awesome, whether you agree with his politics or not!), and
preparing breakfast.  My excitement was defused, however, when my family woke up
and I realized they were all a big grumpy mess!  Isabelle had the attitude of a hormonal
13 year old girl, Brees refused to be anywhere but my arms, and Shawn was left floating
in a feminine whirlpool of tears and frustration.  This was NOT how our Saturday
was supposed to start.
I decided to handle this situation the way any responsible adult would: I ignored them all.
I set to work getting myself dressed, packing the diaper bag, charging my camera,
packing lunch.  No way were these grumpy pants family members of mine going to ruin
this lovely day!  And lo and behold, after an hour of sulking and pretending to be
miserable, they all followed suit.  Isabelle got herself dressed and accessorized, Shawn hid
out with his guitar for a while and reemerged ready to take his 3 girls on, and Brees took
a short nap that left her re-energized.  I just ignored them: not the most philosophical,
hipster advice.  But it works.  Sometimes people wake up in bad moods and the best thing
you can do is not feed into it, give them their space and go about your day.  Before you
know it, you'll be on your way to the Children's Museum, jamming out to the Black Keys
with the wind in your hair.
Here's what we wore, once I convinced everyone to get dressed:
Jeans and necklace: F21
Top: I Heart Ronson
Moccasins: Call It Spring

Jeans: Old Navy
Top: Gifted
Boots: Wizards of Waverly Place by Payless

Jumper: Carters
Shoes: Keds

Photos from our (thankfully) successful trip to come.
Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend!

pleated poppyMomma Go Round

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

January Photo-A-Day: Week 3

Week 3 of the January Photo a Day challenge and I love this week's prompts.  They show
a mama who got a day off work, two little girls enjoying each other's company, and a
family trying to balance it all.  Please leave me a link if you are participating as well!

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