A little piece of everything

The days are still hot, but it is September and the nights are cool and the babies and the love and I all sleep soundly.

Wrapped under blankets of their choosing – a thrift-store, Disney-princess sleeping bag for her and a Target Home velour-like throw for him – they sleep in what Grandpa thought she called a wood shop. I can only imagine the image in his mind. Stacks of logs and sawdust and machines and my babies asleep in the middle of a dirt floor.

Reality involves a workshop that housed sewing machines and books and an old trunk with someone named “Raber”‘s nomenclature on the front. The trunk and the books are still there. So is an old refrigerator with our food now inside and the kids’ beds – their real beds – and their clothes and our cat and the boy’s rock collection and the girl’s plastic kitchen and pretend food (from which, this morning, she made me vanilla soup).

Outside, around back, my love and I fantasize about someday being grown-ups old enough to travel the country for a living. We talk about recording an album in the travel trailer that looks like it should be a miniature keychain on someone’s keyring (my keyring). We lay on the lofted bed and read or work or answer kids’ calls. We drape arms around each other to help us (me) fall asleep. We split the covers; he takes the sheet because a rock star can’t sleep when he’s hot, I use the old quilt soft as my babies’ skin.

I look out the window at the tree in the yard of the $60,000 foreclosed home we thought for a day we wanted. A light shines at night. Outside, the black cats yowl, chasing and pawing each other with their hind legs. When it rains, we smell it through the screen windows, which are always open.

Last week, I dreamed about homes. My yellow house in Dundee was someone else’s (is someone else’s), but I was back, in the dream. Visiting. They’d added on, giving it the space I always wished it’d had. They showed me the work. In one room was all my old stuff I’d left behind. Funny, it wasn’t anything I wanted.

In real life, we have an almost home, here in our new town. We signed papers. We paid for inspections and appraisals and earnest monies and that sort of thing. I asked old employers for W-2s I hadn’t kept. My love even called the IRS for old documents he needed.

We made plans. In my head, I redid the upstairs bathroom. I painted the wainscoting on my daughter’s bedroom walls white, and I debated between lavender or yellow on the top half. I decided to look for an antique lighting fixture for above the dining room table. I’d begun refinishing the 1900 original hardwood floor. I’d decided to buy a new comforter for our bed. I’d searched Pottery Barn online for curtains for the kids.

But the almost home didn’t appraise for the purchase price, which means unless we come up with $22,000 cash in the next three weeks (which is not even a possibility in my imaginary world) or the appraisal is overturned (for which we’ve asked), we’ll stay in the workshop and the travel trailer for … well, I have no idea how long.

And … it’s OK. Because home is where your babies sleep, where your love makes you laugh first thing in the morning, where your heart feels happy.

Home is where you are, where you were, a little piece of everything that’s you and yours.

Bigger jeans

When I purchased the jeans late last summer, they were a tad big. I remember wearing them to the Bon Iver concert at Stir with my love last September. I remember they were clearly too big, like having-to-hike-them-up-repeatedly-as-we-walked-to-the-car-afterward too big.

Memories are nice, aren’t they?

Now, those jeans are my go-to. They fit great. This is both nice and horrible – at the exact same time.

This summer has been one of reckoning when it comes to body image. I am the same weight this morning as I was any morning last summer – 125 pounds. But those pounds have apparently decided to rearrange themselves on my frame. Specifically, they’ve decided to congregate on my hips, lower tummy (I can forever blame this on my babies, right?) and back part of my upper legs (OK, my butt). My jeans fit fine over my calves. It’s just the top part that’s problematic.

After putting on another pair of jeans that last fall I thought were a little too baggy for my liking and being so uncomfortable in them earlier this week that after 10 minutes I knew I couldn’t make it through the whole day sucked up in that denim, I changed. And my body image went from worrying about whether I’d been gaining weight to actually saying, “I have a problem.”

Do I really have a (First World) problem?

Depends on your perspective, I guess.

A few years ago, my ex-husband told me after having not seen me for several months that he liked my new “curves,” despite the muffin top.

I’m still deciding whether that was a compliment or a dig, but I’m pretty sure I know.

An ex-boyfriend’s dirty old friend once said he liked his women with “a little something to hold onto.”

I can’t say I miss seeing him around.

My husband, who remains wonderfully close to perfect, could care less what size I am. I honestly believe him when he tells me I look great.

How good does that feel.

So this is what I know:

– Getting old does not come without challenges.

– Being a grown-up is harder than we ever thought it looked when we were kids.

– Sitting at a desk all day will not help your metabolism.

– Running once a week doesn’t allow you to eat ice cream as often as you’d like.

– It doesn’t get any easier. But we adjust and we grow and we get stronger and BETTER.

– Like yourself. All the time. It’s hard, but keep trying. Decide everyday that you deserve the good, the better, the beautiful. The peace.

And? Choose to enjoy getting to buy new jeans!

“Bigger jeans” from “Eat, Pray, Love”

On our way

The road to new beginnings was cloud-filled and sun-streaked and awe-striking in that sun-setting over mountains or desert or both sort of way.

We moved last weekend to our new home in the new desert, which is a temporary set-up in the backyard of some of the best friends a family could ask for.

We’ve set up shop in a trailer full of vintage with a capital V and a workshop full of everything we really need, minus a bathroom and maybe a kitchen sink. For those needs, we simply go inside. So, yes, there is electricity, which means there are lights, clocks, a microwave, a toaster and even an air conditioner. The trailer, where the rock star and I sleep, has a lofted bed, wood floors, peeling paint that’s perfect and, yes, electricity. So, no, we’re not off the grid – not to any extent. In fact, we’re in the heart of this town. Right where we want to be.

So the road from Utah’s desert to Colorado’s was cloud-filled and beautiful. It was the little girl and I in my car, and the boys in the moving truck. The 3-year-old slept and we kept the windows down and the music up.

When we arrived, we were the only ones there. Our friends were at other friends’ and the boys were about 15 minutes behind us. So my daughter and I marveled at the renovations our friend had done to the workshop and we giggled and smiled about our future. The boys arrived, we shared our happiness and we headed to the moving truck to unload our things.

I paused for a second – maybe 3 seconds – to latch the workshop’s door. And that’s when the road to new beginnings changed from beauty to minor nightmare.

I turned around and the little girl was sprawled in the grass, flat on her stomach, hands over her face. The little boy’s eyes were wide as moons.

“What happened?” I asked.

The little boy stared in disbelief, maybe shock. “I was just pushing the swing … and … ”

I lifted the little girl up, pried her hands from her face and saw the gaping hole in her forehead. It was shaped like a triangle and the blood was gushing. Our friends have a wooden octagonal swing that hangs from their willow tree. Rye had given it a push as he walked past, unaware his little sister was running after him.

It had smacked her in the forehead, above her right eye.

I screamed for the rock star, who got the car keys and a towel and we headed for the hospital in a town we didn’t yet know.

I sat in the back with my little girl who was crying, the towel pressed to her head. My son sat in the front, terrified. My husband drove, as we tried to find the hospital. Please be open late, I thought.

Finally, we found it, and the ER, even in this small community, was open all hours.

She’s going to need stitches, the nurse said. She’s not going to like it.

I know, I said.

There was much screaming and crying – but also a few smiles, some songs and a book while we waited.

All told, we were there about 3 hours. Paige got seven stitches. And she is the bravest little girl I have ever met.

For my part, I will just say this: Holding your child down while someone injects lidocaine into a hole in their head is … awful, among many other adjectives.

That night, I couldn’t sleep. When I closed my eyes, I saw the hole in her head. Around 2 a.m., she woke up crying and the rest of the night she slept on my chest.

That was how we began our first day in our new home.

I’m happy to say the days since then have been increasingly calm. We’re adjusting and happy. We’ve gone as a family to the coffee shop and the local pizza joint. We’ve heard live music (and we’ll hear more tonight when the rock star opens for Willy Tea Taylor and the Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit!). Overall, we’ve been present. We’ve been open. We’ve accepted this part of our lives as this chapter. And we’re excited to see where we end up next, when the trailer and the workshop give way to a new home that maybe finally can truly feel like where we belong.

We’re on our way.

Turning our faces toward the sun

Photo by Deanna Swauger (deannaswauger.blogspot.com)

Yesterday was my last at the new job in the desert.

So today felt like a weekend, though it was actually the exact middle. I remembered to remember how much I love time.

I slept in. I woke and made the kids breakfast. I folded the basket of laundry that’s been sitting untouched for several days. I put the clothes away.

I drank coffee, at my kitchen table, while I did nothing at all productive at my computer.

I led the kids in an art project that involved massive globs of finger paint and really long sheets of easel paper taped across that same kitchen table.

I finished the book I was reading. At 1 in the afternoon. On the couch with my husband. While the kids napped and played on their own. This sort of tranquil moment will never be overrated.

I cleaned out the kitchen cabinets and the refrigerator.

We went to the pool. I played with my kids in the water. I stretched out and turned my face toward the sun.

I pushed my daughter on the big-girl swing at the park, as long as she wanted. She seemed to soar.

I thought about where we are, where I’ve been, how we got here, what comes next. I thought about life and how crazy it is, how difficult some choices, how scary some leaps, how important our instincts really are. How too short it all is. Don’t sweat the small stuff, someone said once. Don’t sweat the big stuff, I sometimes believe. I’ve even said recently, “It’s just money.”

Despite some difficulties, the job at the paper out here in the desert was a leap worth taking. If not for the opportunity, we would never have met this beautiful land, my husband would never have made the spiritual connection to this place. He would have never written this amazing column.

Or maybe he would have. Maybe life is designed to give us all the experiences we are supposed to have, one way or the other. Maybe this desert would have found him, us, either way.

Whatever the case, this move and this job and this first home together were essential to our story, part of the “from now on” we began late last summer. Part of the new beginning.

So here we are.

I have a few weeks off before beginning my new job. I plan to spend that time being, more than anything else, present. If I’m productive at the same time, great, but it’s not a priority.

The new job means our family will move, one more time.

As exhausted as I am from change, I am looking forward to this new place. Finally, I feel like we just might have it figured out.

We’re headed east but only slightly. We’ll still be in the desert, but we’ll be in Colorado where a friend back home once told me she knows my heart lies.

The new job is perfect.

I’ll work from home, and I’ll work with online, that place of html and blogs and social media I never dug my heart fully out of last fall. I’ll be back. Not as editor of a website for moms, but as an editor of several newspaper websites in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around how amazing it will be to not have to leave my family every morning, to not have to pack a lunch, to be able to work from anywhere, at least most of the time.

I’m really feeling lucky. I’m remembering to remember to be thankful, to keep perspective, to hold my truth at hand. Always. To not give in or give up.

To continue to build a life that is beautiful, a life we all deserve.

It is possible. We’re on our way.


(It will change your life.)

“New Slang” – The Shins