Monday, November 3, 2014


Last year, with curious 2.5 year old Arthur, I didn't think to fill him in on how Halloween night would go down. I don't like the holiday, but I should have warned him that people in strange costumes would knock on our really freaked him out when they started arriving without warning. One of the first guests was some type of zombie football player. Arthur talked about it all year really perplexed him. By October of this year, he was intrigued with the tradition, but always a little hesitant.

Being in preschool this year helped him get a better feel for the occasion, and he was getting excited about it. He created his own costume (for weeks he said "soccer player" but the day before changed to baseball), and had a tiny moment before we went out where he thought maybe he should be scared. But then decided he wasn't scared...and he wasn't! He was so brave! The 2nd house we went to had a really creepy character sitting on the front porch that we didn't see til we had already approached the door. (We like to shelter him as much as we can from the terrible things in the world. At least at this age!) After we were exchanging the rituals with our friendly neighbor I watched Arthur look over and notice the scary decoration and I wondered if he was going to freak out. He looked back at our neighbor and calmly told him, "I'm not scared of that guy over there because he's not real. He's just pretend." And proceeded with his candy transaction.

Shortly thereafter, we somehow lined up our door-to-door pattern with a not very friendly 10 yr old wearing that danged Scream mask. I really, really hate that mask. I still shudder when I think about that movie. It scarred me in high school, seriously. Ugh! From the back, he looked like a normal kid and when Arthur saw the mask as they approached a door together, I saw him quickly step back, but not for long. A few seconds later he asked the older kid how old he was! Arthur wasn't scared AT ALL. I, on the other hand, wanted to get my family the freak away.

Here is the most precious part to me. He was excited because somehow he thought trick or treating meant going door to door, handing out candy to the people in those houses, and that's what he wanted to do! It took him several houses before he stopped trying to give his candy to the residents as they were giving him candy. Passing other kids on the street, he'd say "Hey, do you guys want some candy?" and he would try to give them candy from his bag, which of course, no one could accept because you just don't take special things away from a small child, even if they are offering it to you. He sincerely loves sharing and making people happy. After we finished and went home, he ended up giving back some of his candy to kids that came to our door. I didn't stop him.

I wondered if those creepy images from our outing would haunt him in bed later that night. At bedtime lately, he's been asking our friend, the Holy Spirit, to take him on adventures in the night, and they've been some cool places together, like a roller coaster, a fire station, a rocket ship... he always tells us about it in the morning. Watching the Holy Spirit love on my son has made me love the HS more. As we put him to bed that night we said, as usual, "Arthur do you want to ask the Holy Spirit to take you anywhere cool tonight?" and after some thought he answered, "trick or treating again!" So the next day we asked him about it, and what costumes they both wore. Arthur reported that he was a baseball player and the HS was a football player. (Of course.) And they had a good old time. Now that I think about it, I want to try doing that for myself too!

Meanwhile, Henry was the cutest, most hilarious chubby cowboy cow I could've ever imagined. His costume had built in padding around the belly, as if he needed that. And a tail. And I put him in Arthur's old cowboy boots. It was too much, and just right.

This is still the dumbest holiday, but there were some nice moments and memories made this year. And now we can move on to the good ones in November and December!
Henry wanted to check out that helmet

Arthur was ready to go!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Dealing with hard things

(Written 10/22/14)

This morning.

I mentioned at breakfast that we could get ready fast and have time to play on the preschool playground before school started. Something we've only done once, but intend to do more often.

We couldn't get ready fast enough, and in the car I had to let him down- no time for swinging before school. He was really upset, asked me to do a U turn, said he was sick and needed to go home. Said he WILL NOT go to preschool today.

He was mad, because he didn't get what he hoped for.

Wheels are spinning in my mind as we drive down the road- 'how can I fix this?' I feel all the weight of responsibility for this child and how he relates to the world in every moment. And I remembered- just let him be mad for a minute.  He's allowed to be mad, and he always comes around surprisingly fast. I've learned that in our family dynamics- just let them be mad for a minute, and they'll usually come back around. (Such a relief that you can just STOP fighting it and wait...)

Not even 3 minutes later, we arrived, me wondering what this upset toddler was going to do as we approached carpool line, with a teacher coming to escort him out of the car. Is he going to run away? Are we about to cause a scene here? He's asking if we can go swing for ONE minute, but it's after 9:30.

I asked if he wanted me to walk him in, or do carpool line as usual.

Of course, the little dear snaps back to his usual self. "Do carpool line," he says. And calmly says goodbye as he exits the car with the teacher and walks in the building as if nothing happened.

And driving away, I felt so proud of him. He didn't get his way, and I think that's hard! I quite often feel like I don't get my way, and I get mad about it. But this sweet boy went through it, and came out again.

And I knew, if I feel proud of my 3 year old for walking through that little thing... our Father feels the same about us. He feels compassion for the hard things we go through, because he knows. He knows what it feels like. Just like I knew what it felt like for Arthur, He knows on an infinitely larger scale.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happiness and Unhappiness

"Why is the farmer on the roof?

Because he likes being on the roof!"

- a "joke" by Arthur

Yesterday I experienced a magical period of time- driving in rush hour traffic no less- when we were all together as a family and just having a lot of fun. Everyone was happy and feeling good, the boys were laughing at each other from their car seats, and from hearing their laughs and being all together, I felt the kind of joy that I wish I felt more often. The sun was shining, and we were about to drop off the kids for a sleepover at the grandparents- a win for all!

Earlier, Arthur had woken up from nap extremely grumpy.

Even one year ago...Stuart and I were going to counseling together because we just weren't getting along and it stunk there for awhile. I was struggling getting used to having 2 kids, who, looking back, I can see were both at pretty difficult ages at that point. I wasn't enjoying being a work from home mom, and just not really feeling good about my life. In counseling there were hard tears shed and uncomfortable conversations about what Stuart and I liked and didn't like about each other and the ways we had been hurt by each other's voice- ouch. We went weekly for about two months, then stopped because things got busy with the holidays and such.

Lately I've been seeing over and over the fruit of those sessions. We both learned things about ourselves and each other, and after putting some small changes into practice over the past year, things are going oh-so-much better.

And the kids are growing up; the desperate newborn months are over.  Potty training is over (for now). Preschool is helping us all out, and we're all very comfy as a family of four now. We're so fortunate to be able to remodel a kitchen in an adorable house that we eagerly look forward to living in next month! Things are going a lot better.

And this confirms a theme I've noticed in my adult life. When things suck, just hang on. Right now things feel good. That will not always be the case. But the memories of happy times like yesterday and the hope for more of those in the future are what I have to cling to in the times that hurt.

I see this when I look back on my struggle with depression. All the times I've just hung on, even though it didn't feel good, it eventually got better. And regarding that struggle- I have to say- I do think I've almost completely kicked its butt, through the help of counseling and support from my faithful husband, and me dying to my pride and admitting when I need help. Now I know that I need people around me, or else it can get ugly. I've started to learn the beauty of vulnerability- opening myself up to others when it's safer and easier to stay quiet. I've started being a little bit nicer to myself. Oh, and running helps too. A lot.

So here's my reminder when all starts crashing in around me.  Hang on. We've done it before and we'll do it again.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Birth of Henry Miller Clark

My newest little man was born last Saturday, June 15th, 12 days overdue and following over a week of false labor and 4 months of gradually building contractions.  Basically, tons of fake-outs and thinking I was in pre-term labor...then on-time labor...then late labor...and then FINALLY I actually WAS in labor, less than 2 days shy of a scheduled induction.

The evening of Friday the 14th, contractions were steady at 3-5 minutes apart for 4 hours.  We called the midwife and she said we could come in if we wanted...but since the pain was still bearable (it didn't seem intense enough to me) we decided to wait, pack our hospital bags and try to sleep, thinking we would be woken up in the night.

Instead, we slept until morning.  I was disappointed to wake up the next morning, feeling nothing (after alllllll those contractions!!).  But shortly after getting up, contractions and other labor things started happening (I'm keeping this the non-TMI version).  We walked on the greenway, since walking always made contractions pick up for me, and I was totally that hugely pregnant girl walking, and stopping for contractions, making bystanders really nervous.  OH, because after 3 weeks of not being able to walk due to back pain, at around 41 weeks pregnant, something changed and I could walk again.  What a blessing.  We made a quick Trader Joe's stop and went home to see if things would keep going after the walk.  They did- contractions quickly brought me to the level of tears and that's when I knew it was really happening.  We showered, ate lunch, packed up again and put Arthur down for nap with extra kisses and snuggles.  We didn't tell him anything, of course. Then we watched an Arrested Development (didn't pay any attention to it) as I bounced on the yoga ball and timed contractions...again.

And within an hour, I knew it was time!  Steph came over to stay with Arthur (she's a champ) and we headed peacefully to the hospital!  It wasn't the dramatic car ride that I had anticipated.  We checked in at 3:00 and to my dismay, I was only dilated to 3 cm- the same as I had been the day before when midwife Hallie swept my membranes and things got crazy.  It was discouraging- after allllllllll those contractions.  Lindsey was the midwife on duty and she instructed us to walk the halls fast for an hour, so we did!  And it worked- after that I was 5 cm.  After some deliberation, I let her break my water...this baby needed to come out.  That was at 5:00pm.  As with Arthur, once the waters were broken, things got out of control really fast.  I mean PAINFUL.  I began shaking violently and the pain was honestly more than I had ever imagined possible.  I requested an epidural pretty quickly, but it only kicked in on one LEG...and at 6:15 I was fully dilated!!  I accidentally experienced an unmedicated labor and transition.

I tried a practice push and it hurt like all heck.  Oh, I am no super-birthing mom.  I was screaming, crying, shaking, gagging, cussing (well, I cussed once, which is a lot for me).  Wailing like a newborn baby.  Begging for the epidural to kick in...once the technician adjusted it, I demanded we wait til it kick in before more pushing.  So finally at 7:15 things had calmed down enough where I was ready to try pushing again.  With Arthur it took 1 hr 45 min to push him out.  With Henry- 15 minutes!!! Hooray!  It's an amazing moment to see your baby for the first time.  So surreal and awesome!  I will be forever grateful at how quickly he finally came out, and forever Henry Clark's biggest fan :)

Happy Father's Day!

The brothers like each other so far

The best kind of nap

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Pain & Weakness. AKA, I'm in a weird place.

This weird place I'm in should be a distant memory in a few short weeks.  I want to remember it.

...I rode on the motorized scooter at Costco this weekend...

It was humiliating and I did not like it.  I mean, it was a little fun to drive, but I mostly didn't like it.

This pregnancy was going great until around 24 weeks, which was when back pain and lots of Braxton Hicks contractions started...back pain continued and around 7 or so months in, crazy hip pain started happening at night when I'd try to sleep.  The crazy hip pain would finally subside in the afternoon, then would come back every night.

Then crazy hip pain finally subsided around 8 months, (while back pain continued all throughout) ....then a little over 3 weeks ago, something happened and my lower back just peaced out- see ya!  Since then, it's been excruciating lower back pain with every step I take.  I hobble like the Old Hag in Snow White.  I groan and grunt getting out of bed.  And I also have intense nerve pain where baby's head is nestled.  It feels like being stabbed with a knife on my insides and makes me scream into my pillow.  I had that w/ Arthur too, but I never had the lower back pain and trouble walking like I'm having now, and the combo of both is just a lot of really intense pain, all the time.

I feel like a different person!  The past 3 weeks, I can't go out alone with Arthur- can't lift him into a shopping cart, can't walk a single step without pain, let alone through a parking lot and/or store, library, gym, park... or any of our usual destinations!

Being in a lot of pain is interesting.  I feel vulnerable (hobbling across the street while cars are waiting for me is the worst).  I feel helpless, because I kind of am helpless.  I'm embarrassed and I'm frustrated because I can't do what I want to do!  It's hard not to feel like I'm being judged, or not to judge myself even!  I sometimes feel like maybe I'm lazy, or I did something stupid or wrong this time around to end up like this.  I mean, I walked fine the whole time I was pregnant with Arthur, so why can't I this time around?  I don't understand.

My midwife and chiropractor, both of whom I see weekly now, have both advised that the only way to end this pain is to have the baby.

And my pain is for the most joyful reason- a new son that I prayed for and really want!!  What about the elderly, or people with diseases and conditions that don't give much physical hope?  Or people born with a disability who never had a chance to experience the independence I've enjoyed my whole life up til recently.  It's not fair; and it's also not fair that many people pray for babies and don't get to have them.  I'm thinking about these things a lot and I just hope to carry more compassion, grace and patience for people who hurt like this.  I now know what it's like to feel like you're in the way in the world, hobbling across the street, grimacing as you try to move faster so the politely waiting drivers can proceed.  Or walking alongside someone, trying to play it cool and keep up with their pace, knowing you will pay for it later.

So this weekend, it was time for our monthly Costco trip, and honestly I'm sick of being cooped up in the house, so I went, forced myself to swallow my pride and rode that scooter that you see old people riding.  And gained a bit of new perspective.

(Fortunately we didn't see anyone we know.)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

This time around

Today I wanted to document some things about this pregnancy.  Compared to last time, I have not documented this pregnancy much at all!  I take pictures occasionally, but I never post them and looking back I never know what week they are from.  I wish I were better about that.

Not a lot of weird cravings this time, just a few pickle incidents.  Navel oranges and various types of granola with milk have been my biggest cravings.  Most nights at 9pm, it's granola time.  And I usually just want lots of fresh produce!

I actually haven't many baby related pregnancy dreams! I think only one dream, where the baby was growing in a closet instead of my womb and we would open the door to check on it. That was weird.

I was feeling pretty good until around 24 weeks, then I had a real rough patch- lots of contractions and back pain, where I really thought I was having pre-term labor.  I then decided I needed to chill, rest more and stop lifting heavy stuff.  Once I adjusted my lifestyle and expectations, it got better.  It stinks realizing you have limits when you are used to being free, strong and independent.

For weeks it's been driving me crazy that I/we can't decide on a name.

Some days I feel confident about labor and delivery, and some days I'm pretty scared!  I've never gone into labor at home, having been induced last time, so I don't know what that will be like.  I also have a (possibly naive) hope that he will come a smidge early- just a week or 2.  It's either mother's intuition, or I'm delusional; time will tell.