Saturday, December 31, 2011

Rock House 2011 Review

As the last day of 2011 begins to find its close, I find myself reflecting on our many blessings. 

These memories feel like minutes ago, not months. Time speeds along while we are consumed in the stress of the days, in the emotions of the hours. And we miss the joy that we have, the sacred moments that we can find in our homes and with our families.

Life is good. 

Happy New Years and enjoy some of my favorite pictures and days from 2011!

It's 2012 already?!

Friday, December 30, 2011


You have to find a mother inside yourself,
We all do. Even if we already have a mother,
we still have to find this part of ourselves inside.
Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

A few years ago, when I was in the thick of single motherhood, I found a wonderful book-- Momfulness- Mothering with Compassion, Wisdom, and Grace by Denise Roy. What I loved about this book when I first devoured it was its focus on forgiveness and acceptance for mothering right where you are and the encouragement to suspend judgment of yourself as a mother. Finding compassion, wisdom, and grace in the midst of the craziness of parenthood is not an easy task. She offers a practical spiritual practice that can easily fit within any religious practice. I pulled this book out today, so I can revisit it as I work to regain balance. Organizing the physical space in which we live is only part of a very important process I know is necessary for our family to function smoothly. I know that my job as a mother is to keep compassion, wisdom, and grace as the driving forces in my interactions with everyone in our house. I've posted in the past that since Rowan's arrival, balance has been quite elusive, and I know that creates situations where Momfulness is key.

Throughout my pregnancy with Rowan, Hubs and I frequently talked about the changes that bringing a baby into our lives would create. The other kids had become quite self-sufficient, and we knew that the adjustment would come with growing pains. Despite having that awareness, I was not prepared for just how hard it would be. I had grown quite accustomed to life with my boy-os and having time to do fun things with them, to take them places, to just spend one-on-one time with them. All of that went out of the window with Rowan's arrival. She is a true high needs baby, and an HNB (as we affectionately call her) in the family precludes many activities. Even walking to the crosswalk to walk home with the boys when she was a newborn was a monumental task! I feel like I've lost so much time with my boys, and luckily they are awesome kids. They haven't been jealous of her, and they have been so very flexible with the adjustments we've had to make.

Though Rowan is still very much an HNB, at nine months, she is finally starting to settle into life outside the womb. As long as I'm within a few feet of her, she will happily play. And probably the biggest accomplishment is she is finally napping consistently and for more than 20 minutes at a time. This major milestone is wonderful because I am focusing on finding balance in the time I spend with them. It is easy to judge myself for feeling like I have faltered in my parenting of them. This is coming on the heels of both of them being very attached to their dad, and sometimes I can't help but take it personally. In rereading the first chapter today, I realize that I have to be gentle with myself and acknowledge that I have done my best. But I also come away with the awareness that I can focus on finding compassion, wisdom, and grace in all of my experiences with them.

During Rowan's naptime today and yesterday, the boy-os and I played with one of their Christmas presents. We mixed plaster, filled molds, and painted the dinosaurs.

They are so gratifying and easy to please. And pretty cute, too!

My favorite quote from today's chapter:

In practicing Momfulness, we cultivate compassion, not only for others but also for ourselves. We increase our ability to see our own suffering-- how tired we are, how hard we are working, how much we don't know. We develop the capacity to forgive ourselves, and to give ourselves some of what we need. Our hearts open, and we make friends with even the most difficult experiences of our lives.

This is such a very powerful passage and several parts almost move me to tears. I am making a promise to myself to focus on these three things.

Forgiveness: How great would it be if, as mothers (or simply people) we could forgive ourselves?

How much we don't know: Even as a third-time mom, it is hard to admit that I don't know all of the right answers.

What we (I as a mom) need: I need to exist as my own person, too, not just as "Mom." In order to be the best mom I can be, I must take care of myself. I'm working on this one, too, in my focus on regaining balance.

I'm excited about this journey!

That's all for today!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Catching Up

Overwhelmed.  That's really a very mild description of how I feel most of the time. Close to drowning? That is probably a bit more accurate.  Having been back to work for over four months, I was hoping that I would feel more together, more composed, more organized.  Yet all of that has proven to be so elusive.  Every day feels like a race and before the race is even over, I'm having to prep for the next day's leg.  It's exhausting on its own.  Add in Rowan, who still doesn't sleep for more than two or three hours at a time, and I'm on the edge of sanity most days. 

In the early days with Brown Baby, I posted about identity.  Towards the end of those idyllic days at home with her, I had started to find myself again, etched out in a faint pencil drawing, but it was there.  Quite visible.  Going back to work has changed that picture, erased some lines here and there, and I'm struggling to find balance and endurance.

Which is exactly why it is now the end of December, I started this post in October, and the last post I published was in June.  It frustrates me that I can't be consistent with my blog or with anything right now, so I've taken this valuable Christmas break to regroup and catch up.

What I've learned about myself is that I definitely feel better when things are organized. The problem is that it has been really hard to get organized when adding Rowan to the mix of the morning and evening rush. So I started organizing our home office and taking over the desk to make my own command center. My Mac has found a new home, and that definitely makes me happy!  It is still a work in progress, but it includes a family binder where I've created sections for anything we would need during the course of a week.  One of the biggest changes we've made recently is deciding a month or so ago to create and stick to a weekly meal plan. What a huge difference that makes in the evening to already know what dinner will be. It is simple things like this that I know are important to our family running more smoothly.

The boy-os and I talked about the new year today, and they did some reflecting on their past year and even thought a little about the year ahead using this great printable I found online. I really miss having the energy and time to focus on things like this with them. I really want to find a better way to balance my time, and we have been blessed with what we affectionately call our HNB (high needs baby). Rowan demands so much from us all of the time, and while I don't typically make resolutions, I will be focusing on finding ways to better balance all of the demands a mom finds placed upon her. The boys were very sincere about their reflections. And really cute, too! It warmed my heart to see that Pacey said the hardest lesson he learned was never to steal. (Another post for another day!)

On the HNB front, she got her first taste of a Christmas cookie today. To say that I am in love with this girl is an understatement. Despite her being the most demanding of the three babies I've had, we are so very blessed to have her in our lives. She is a continual source of joy and a constant reminder that life is good. How could it not be with a face like this?

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Early Moments

I take so many pictures of you because I want to remember, want to hold onto these brief, early moments.

Your sweet, quiet sleep. Usually on me.

Easy mornings, just us. Rendering me couch-bound, I savor the stillness and our time together. Knowing that all too soon creeping time will steal this away and memories of you right now will slowly fade.

Because I know you are my last. The right decision? Yes, I think so, but one that easily brings a stirring of heartache.

Link up with Semi-Wordless Wednesdays!

Saturday, June 04, 2011


I've spent hours rocking. Hours swaying with a limp, slightly sweaty baby on my shoulder. Hours given way to pure commune with the little miracle I helped create.

Rocking Pacey.  Crying silent, painful tears into his sleeping ear.  Telling him he was all that mattered.  Because in those desperate moments, he was.

Rocking Gage.  Feeling very small and lonely in our little beach house that wrapped us in a cocoon, that caught me as I fell.

There's a different kind of sadness now.  A wistfulness, an already intense nostalgia at what will be finished all too quickly.

So I rock a little longer, hold this baby a little tighter, and linger next to her sweet breath.

Friday, June 03, 2011


Toothless smiles during midnight diaper changes.
Two sweaty hugs after school's out.
Teenage stories filled with drama, angst.
A partner in life, for life.
Knowing second chances are still real.

Link up with Six Word Fridays and Making Things Up!

Friday, May 27, 2011


I'm joining in on Six Word Fridays with Making Things Up!

This week's topic? Kept

Kept nursing, even though I cried.
Kept nursing, even though no sleep.
Kept nursing, even through the pain.
Kept nursing; you grew and grew.
Kept nursing; loved seeing your smiles.
Kept nursing; it's best. (for us)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Cute Baby Chronicles

I thought this would be a cute way to keep track of cute things Rowan does. You know, because she's cute and such. So I'll call it the Cute Baby Chronicles.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Finding the Buoy

The swim leg of a triathlon was always the most challenging-- both physically and mentally.  Finding your stride amidst kicking legs, trying to find the buoys past the endless sea of swim caps, not being intimidated by seeing the course laid out entirely before you.  Confidence has always been a fleeting companion of mine; I've often (longingly so) wanted to be a girl who exudes confidence and an outgoing personality.  Several years ago, freshly divorced and completely scattered, confidence was elusive.  And quite by accident, something saved me.  Training for triathlons was more than just a physical endeavor, I was emotionally and mentally challenged: to believe in myself, to push through pain and discouragement.  The journey from having to hold my nose underwater, to swimming more than a half mile in open water required patience and courage.  During this tumultuous time in my life, I found a strength I didn't know I had, and it drove me.  On the other side, I found myself more confident, more courageous, and more proud than I had ever been before.

Here I am in September 2007 at the Sandman Triathlon:

Here I am in May 2008. I was the fittest I've ever been:

I look longingly at pictures like these.

And now, here I am. My life is much different now-- I have a wonderful husband and a wonderful new family. I have a beautiful, newborn daughter who delights me to no end. But what is sometimes lost during pregnancy and the months that follow is a sense of self. Pregnancy is preoccupying. Consuming. I told Husband recently, I miss me. I miss who I was. And right now, I'm frustrated with having to work so hard again at getting me back.

Admittedly, this wasn't an overnight change nor was it a nine month change, either.  The total life altering experience of a new baby simply enhances it, makes it more palpable. And now, after nine months of pregnancy, I feel sluggish. I feel frustrated with having to lose baby weight. Again.  Especially stubborn, I'm in my thirties and breastfeeding baby weight.  The confidence that I worked so hard to grasp has dwindled-- I see the swim course before me, and sometimes it feels overwhelming.  Despite the fact that I know confidence isn't only found in physical qualities-- whether it's the size of clothes or the speed of a 5k--  I feel like the person I was is lost and in her place is someone who can barely run a mile and doesn't have time to fix her hair.  Sometimes I can't find the buoy amidst the swim caps.

And I know feeling all of this is completely normal.  I wouldn't trade anything I have now to escape it.

So where does it leave me?  Once again, on a quest to drop weight.  Once again, on a quest to run for ten minutes without having to stop to breathe and recover.  Once again, on a quest to remember that the dust will settle, and I will feel normal again.  I can draw on the strength I found in training and remember to breathe and calmly find the buoy.  To see that life has already begun to groove with this new brown baby of ours.  We are all finding our stride, and through patience and perseverance, a new me will emerge, strong and confident.  Especially with the help of my little running partner.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunday Jam

Yesterday was a busy day at the Rock House.  Because the boys and I were super berry pickers, I now had about 13 pounds of strawberries to deal with before they went bad.  Luckily, last summer I got brave and tried canning strawberry jam for the first time.  My grandma always used to have some kind of homemade jam, and I missed it.  Store bought just isn't the same, so I gave it a shot, and it ended up being so easy.  And it didn't really take that long.  Well.  Let's remember that last year, I only canned about 4 pints at a time.  Turns out that 13 pounds of berries will make quite a bit more jam than 4 pints.  Let's try three hours of kitchen duty.  Not something I usually find enjoyable.

Luckily, brown baby loves to sleep in her Beco Butterfly:

And the boys were busy being gardeners in the front yard:

Pacey was on landscaping brick removal duty-- $ .25 per ugly, red brick-- and he knows how to capitalize.  He made close to $30.  And is quite proud because he figured out that over the weekend, he lifted half of a ton.  Something I'm sure will be a hot topic at the lunch table today.

Gage joined in on the brick removing fun, too, but gave up (not surprised, are we?) after only $7 and went to a much more creative endeavor.

I had fun mashing berries in the kitchen.  I turned Pandora radio to the Matchbox 20 station and pounded away.  Pounded and smashed, pounded and smashed...  I'm thinking there may have been some pent up frustration going on here.  It was way too much fun.

All of that smashing resulted in 15 cups of berries (thank goodness I got my grandma's huge canning pot) that needed 21 cups of sugar added to it.  Yes, 21 cups of sugar.  Who knew jam required that much sugar?  Which is exactly why it's so good, but I'm not sure it can be considered a fruit after all that.

Now those who know me know that I am not so much a cook of any kind.  I burn things.  I mix up steps.  The fact that the recipe is written for 5 cups of berries and 7 cups of sugar, and I had to triple it left me stressed.  I was convinced that somewhere my tripling calculations would be off and the jam would be ruined.  Husband always tells me not to do public math.  Kitchen math is equally as dangerous.

Boiling the canning jars makes me feel like something of a chemist.

So does simmering the lids...  The fact that I had three pots actively going on the stove is not lost on me.  I actually didn't burn or overflow anything.

The result: 15 pints of delicious strawberry jam!

It was a great Sunday, and I love that I connect with my past by doing things like canning jam.  I love sharing these kinds of traditions with my family and creating something that everyone at the Rock House loves.

How do you stay connected with your past?