Motherhood is a common land—traversed, known and loved by many women who inhabit it. I imagine it to be a land similar to where we live now, marked by many drastic seasons. Some seasons that make us feel alive and loyal to our residence here. Those seasons are why we live here. They’re why people visit. Others harsher and longer than we anticipated, difficult but eventually ending, not without taking their toll a bit. During those colder seasons, we’re driven to eat more, take up hobbies that celebrate the chilly air, and gather within. This is not unlike motherhood too, I am learning. Within the land of motherhood are many paths, routes, scenic journeys. There is no one way to live here. Having people in my life to remind me of this is one of the things that has saved me during the first three months of Louisa’s life.
At almost four months in, I am swallowed in love for her. I am swallowed in her being. And I welcome it.
I welcome the tiny eyes watching me until my eyes meet hers back. I welcome her milky smell. I welcome the way she hugs my arm as I put her pacifier in her mouth. I welcome prying my eyes open before the alarm because she’s a morning person, because I missed her while I slept, because it feels like Christmas morning somehow every morning. I welcome losing an entire day between feeding and pumping and smiling at each other. She grew inside of me, and now outside of me she has filled every bit of me back up. I am a balloon of Louisa, and I welcome it.
Other parts, I am learning to welcome. I am learning to welcome friends and family watching me as I slowly begin to put myself back together again. I am learning to welcome that they might be surprised by new pieces of me. I am learning to welcome the lack of a rule book. I am learning to welcome a completely new yardstick for productivity, accomplishments, satisfaction. I am learning to welcome the way my heart overflows when my husband carries Louisa into our room after an early morning change while also grieving the ways in which we were wealthy with unencumbered time together for the last six years. I am learning to welcome the scar from where she came, the scar from the birth I never thought would go as it did—pink and impossibly tiny compared to her now and yet impossibly bigger than anything I’ve found myself up against in life thus far. Welcoming and learning to welcome; this is the path we find ourselves on.
Motherhood is a land, but it is also an ocean. It is ruggedly stunning—aggressive and pure. Its sounds are comfort to many of us, and its sights are overwhelming and vast.
Motherhood is reading birth affirmations weeks after the event. “I am flexible and open to change.” “I am doing the best I can with what I know.” “It is okay to be scared.” “I am in the right place doing the right thing.” “I am a strong and capable mother.” “My body will heal.”
Motherhood is finding comfort in being comfort. Motherhood is falling limp with worry. Motherhood is being emboldened with knowing how your child needs you. Both an ego trip and a deeply humbling road, motherhood is warmth, is stumbling around in the dark, is somehow feeling held by doing the holding.
A polarizing natural wonder, motherhood asks us what we’re made of. Surely none of us know before being asked. And on that journey, in that ocean, we find clues to an answer. I’m only a couple of clues in. Maybe I’ll share some more with you a little later.
I am 38 weeks pregnant today. Two weeks out from our due date, I feel like I'm standing in the doorway of somewhere windy, with my hair and clothes being swept behind me, trying to remain composed. The sun is on my face and components of this experience are sweet and quiet and I'd like to slowly drink them in. I want to go forward through the doorway, and even part of me wants to go back. Anywhere certain on either side of this place. Meanwhile things are subtly getting more sore, more stretched, heavier as I crawl into bed at night, and everyone's voices are getting louder. The tallies of who I see out in public, how close someone they know was to their due date, and how crazy they find my body to be compile into the graphs and charts in my head. I'm not even trying to create them. There's just an automatic pregnant woman human excel program running in there, managing the stats for me. "Great. I'll put you down for 'OMG you're really tiny. I went into labor two weeks before my due date. Good luck.'"
I draw inward because this wind is sticking around. It's gonna be kite-flying weather until it's time to have this baby. Windy, intense, a bit loud. Habits, meditations, mantras and repetition; they're all my friend. Maybe get out of bed some time. (A kind and important reminder by my husband.) Kiss the dog a thousand times. Perform one of the best rituals known to man; make a lazy breakfast. This means put some form of grains and dairy and maybe fruit in a bowl and pour a cold glass of coffee. Oh, sweet coffee. A morning liturgy. I need this liturgy. Maybe you need it too.
Some suggestions for making really great warm-weather coffee at home:
- Use great coffee. (This is not original advice.) Our favorites happen to be our favorite local roaster. We also cold-brewed beans from these guys a few weeks ago and the result was divine. A little luxury for sure.
- If you can remember the night before (I'm personally always thinking about my morning cup), elect to cold-brew it. It's particularly friendly to those long-suffering heartburn victims (holler), kind of this weird magical ever-forgiving method that is impossible to screw up, and just makes really smooth, wonderfully round coffee. There are a lot of coldbrew recipes out there these days (it seems very few shops even make iced coffee other ways at this point), so check out what the interwebs have to offer. An old favorite of mine for a sweet cup is this recipe, but this Spring we invested in this amazingly convenient contraption. When all else fails, you can literally put grounds in a jar with water over night and accomplish this delightful outcome.
- Get crazy. Shake it up with some caramel on a really low morning, or buy a weird kind of alternative milk to drink it with. This is literally how I've been occupying my time since installing the car seat and packing my hospital bag.
I'm especially inspired by this approach to iced coffee recently. Seems like an easy enough way to help out the earth.
Best of all, a morning glass of iced coffee, clinking and sweating, lifts the fog. For me it helps me hear, "you are nearing the end and beginning of something that will change you forever." I hope it helps you hear what you need to hear too.
After my miracle garden of wildflowers last summer, I’ve been thoroughly taken with the made-up task to secure seeds for the coming spring. I know which flowers’ company really touched me, which ones only sort of did well in the clay-based soil native out here, which ones were bountiful and what I wished I had more of. It was a summer of waiting and I had, by almost no success of my own, planted a garden that—to me— was amazing. I walk by the window thinking about when the snow leaves and things get muddy and slightly more mild. I’ll get to do it all over again.
I have a picture of myself on my phone that I’ve come back to a few times over the last four-ish months. It’s a selfie of me and a bouquet that I’m almost clutching like my dog or a warm blanket—it’s evident to me that what I am holding is comfort. The historically inconspicuous complexion of my face, my cursed blotchy cheeks, a key to my closest loved ones, reveal that I’d been crying. Holding this bunch of flowers, beheld in my eye as one of the most beautiful and miraculous things I could experience, taking this photo to remind myself of the garden. We had just gotten home from a two-week trip I’d been looking forward to all summer. The trip was heaven. Coming home, less heavenly, I learned that the job I’d gone all out for wasn’t being offered to me. I learned the same day that we weren’t pregnant.
One month later, the month John started his first semester of nursing school, the month I started a different job, we found out after about eight months of hoping to find out, that I was pregnant.
This is the perspective of our miracle from the very cusp of it. For all those months that we weren’t on the cusp, our mourning unresolved, there was just waiting.
“We have always been a waiting people.” Something our pastor said on the topic of advent.
I love to think back to the summer, or even last spring, and think about if I could’ve told myself: a year from now you’ll have a daughter. Any of the moments in the last year could be sweetened by this future knowledge. So says hindsight. And so says I from a place in an alternate reality. I never could have known the plan. I never could have known the timeline. And I’m pretty sure that’s the point.
My woes these days are discomfort. Finding sleep to be harder than I thought it might be, because there’s a tiny child, halfway through her in-utero lifespan, moving and kicking and being formed. She is a miracle, like my flower garden. Somehow her miraculous existence is the weight I currently carry. Yes the physical weight, but the concern too. Is she going to be okay? I need to read these 70 books on giving birth and breast feeding and sleep training. I need to take my vitamins. I need to stop crying. I need to not be scared. I need to figure out what nipple pads are. Woah, I really need to read more about breast feeding.
This is the very humanity in my blood. I think all the time about how for others, their timeline is longer than mine. Or it was interrupted. They’ve been waiting for their babies and are waiting for their babies—or waiting for something else. When God gives us our garden of flowers, even in the case of the gardener haphazardly dumping a bag of seeds over rocky soil in the rain with very little knowledge of what she’s doing, when He gives us our garden, we are still human gardeners. We make lists and perpetuate new anxieties and find a way to forsake this gift that we love more than the One who gave it to us.
I come back to this quote quite often, though its nature is simple and supplementary to the truth I cling to every day. “Remember when you wanted what you currently have.”
Laying down the burden of muddying the waters with my very human ways, I think about our girl.
Will you be funny? Will you like what I like (this could range from cereal types, Meryl and good manners to folk music, important movies, and elderly people)? Will you be shy and serious like your mama? (Pregnancy has already done well to change any shyness.) Will you be charismatic, hospitable, and generous like your dad? Will you love to sing like your dad (again, charismatic), will you like old man music like your dad (Steely Dan), will you have the curly crazy hair of your dad?
I hope you find it as endearing as I do when our dog comes running when he hears me scraping the edge of a jelly jar. I actually hope you are just obsessed with our dog.
Just wait until you meet our people. Your grandparents, your aunts and uncles, our friends, who we will confuse you about and also call your aunts and uncles. They are all parts of us, and will be able to give you things we won’t. There’s an entire world waiting for you to get here. I am equally torn by wanting to feel you moving in my stomach forever, and feeling like I preemptively miss you. How could I miss you already? Hormones are crazy. It feels like you should be here by now. Just wait until I tell you about the pair of overalls I bought in honor of carrying you inside of me. They expand. It’s pretty cool.
I’ve thought quite a lot throughout my life thus far about the things I’d like to teach my children. The obvious things of course, as well as the little things that you just can feel have changed your time on this earth. It’s occurring to me now that parenthood will be experienced in lessons as well. Lessons for the parents. (I can hear my mom chuckling to herself.) Lessons for everyone! (-Oprah) I consider this—the garden, the waiting, the deep humanity that marks my every season— my first lesson. Life is wild.
What feels like a million years ago, I scribbled down the phrase in my notebook, "mother in waiting." That is what I felt like then, and that is indeed who I am right now. There's so much to be said about waiting for this tiny girl, I'll have to say it to you a bit later. For now, here's the video we shared on Thanksgiving to announce her.
Coffee Three Ways;
Mom, hazelnut flavored coffee brewed in a plastic pour-over. The scoops of buttery coffee grounds are mini mountains, sitting fluffy in the filter. This process is practical, brewed for immediacy, concentrated. The yield, though in a single mug, is generous. A cup, just for her, telling of scents she smelled as a child.
Dad, a gurgling brewer set up last night, flicked on this morning before the chill left the air. He is up with the dog and no one else, and this pot, his ceremony. His coffee is like a well, designed to keep flowing. The brewer takes several minutes to fill, and hours to drink—it is his own private silence. Like a pipe of tobacco, Dad’s coffee is more a journey than a place, and by the time we wake, he has traveled quite far, paddling alone on a coffee canoe of solitary bliss.
For us, the day predicates the coffee. If we awake to a roasting tent, plump with morning sun, we filter out the large jar of cold brew from the cooler which was steeped with brown sugar and cinnamon, mixing with cream and imbibing quickly before everything begins. If the air is a cool blanket, heavy and hugging, we may sleep a little longer, then percolate our caffeine as we resurrect last night’s fire.
Camp coffee is the best coffee as its ordinary methods, habits are illuminated in the thick woods, on the coast, or by the lake. Ordinary becomes extraordinary atop the mountain; normal, now special. The woods are more hospitable than any other place, giving us the gift of seeing plainly.
Written for the Hills & Trails journal, The Trailhead. I am totally honored to represent this little Maine-based company that I have been stalking for some time. Be on the lookout for more blogs in partnership with these guys! If you want to be the owner of some of their goods, use the discount code 'Caiella17' and get 15% off! This might seem like a weird marketing scheme BUT just to clarify, it's simply friends helping friends. I'm definitely not popular enough to actually be paid to create stuff, so it turns out I'm actually promoting these guys because I want to. And who doesn't want a discount on some of the prettiest camp-inspired home goods and apparel around?
Two cups of coffee
one in each hand, calling out
"It's my fault we're late"
I've been losing myself deep down in metaphors of growing things recently, as I've taken up the position of a resident young person at a local greenhouse, writing emails and looking at crop schedules. I came across this quote on a quiet morning, and its plain words stood carefully before me; "Remember that children, marriages, and flower gardens reflect the kind of care they get."
It has always been important to me to decipher the kind of care people have received in their lives. This information helps me understand my relationship with them, and provide context for the meaning behind our interactions. Are they scratchy and harder to the touch? I must learn how to make up for the lack of someone else's care. Are they generous and spiritual and radiating in nature? I want to know about the people who have nourished this person. I hold my dad's childhood stories, that recently have been flooding out as if from a faucet, as a compass up against the man I know him as and have known him as. We all could use a little information like this.
Every day I get to the nursery, a new flower has opened. New colors, fragrances and textures sit peacefully on beds, and I like a child, react as a sightseer. The growing process can be harsh and unforgiving, requiring a lot of trial and error, prior knowledge, and the help of many. Some plants require pinching, cutting back, spacing and the like--for if this is neglected they will remain their immature size, and worse, the roots won't fully develop. How lovely! How similar we are. I am convinced these very normal living things share our characteristics for our own better understanding of ourselves.
It is apparent to me that by going about daily life, I have been caring for my marriage for almost five years. Truly, I think it is one of the most pleasurable, difficult, important and significant things I have done in my life. I am the most proud of it because it's the thing I've cared for most. But on busy mornings flying out the door, you can forget that your marriage is a garden. You may lie in bed longer than you should have, forgotten to budget time for the dog and his habits, and time for you and your caffeine habits too. I am so thankful that marriages with well-formed roots can tolerate a neglectful morning or two.
"We are so impatient to reach the end."
Christmas Eve night my brother drove on an icy road from my parents home to the emergency room to greet a family of a man who had overdosed on heroin. The man had scientifically died, but was brought back to life by modern technology and science, now in a hospital bed surrounded by a grieving family. Christmas Day, my brother searched for cell phone service at my grandparents house (a hilarious quest, as my cousins and I all know, there is barely any reception to be had there). He labored to the point of at last regaining communication with the family, as well as the addict. He implored them; treatment is needed, and now. As my family watched my brother's urgency to save the life of another man, the truth we had already known became even more clear. Our pain had a purpose. My brother's physical pain, his own overdoses of the past, needed to happen. Most of us have understood this as we've watched the last couple of years unfold. But this truth, hard to swallow as I still have my own private celebrations of my brothers sobriety, now in the two year mark, reminds me of a greater metaphor. Incredible, unfathomable pain that had to occur in order for greater purpose, freedom, meaning, to be ours. To me, this is the gospel fleshed-out.
To me, my dog's attraction to sunlight, friendly elderly people, and chocolate souffle, those too are the gospel fleshed-out. But great sacrifice, necessary for freedom, this is the very gospel fleshed-out. What a delight.
"And so we have a hard time being true adventurers. Because pain is an adventure. And grief is an adventure. And death is absolutely an adventure. Doing the hard thing is an adventure. And being known (as well as knowing) is an adventure. And forgiveness is an adventure. And loving is an adventure, the most dangerous of them all."
We left for our adventure almost a year ago. You may guess I am speaking of our 3000 mile move, but the pain, grief, being known, forgiveness, and in turn, loving, that has been our adventure. And as we plan to arrive back where we started in an almost ironic sort of phrase, we will never be where we once were. As we drive back to New York, to the city, to the town, to the families and people we have known most familiarly in our lives--we will be arriving at the farthest from home we've ever been.
"So here's to adventuring, for more than just adventure's sake."
There are times where you must document things that have happened. Whether important or not, they remind you that time is moving, and that is a small victory on its way to becoming a bigger one.
Tea and cards on the balcony. Hot cinnamon tea that becomes magically sweet over time. Trying to walk two miles every day. Failing often, but Glasgow's response to "do you want to go for a walk?" keeps us getting out the door.
"Modern Bowl Cut."
This lived-in spot.
Yosemite National Park. What John calls a "generative" experience. Slept under a pie of wool and fleece listening to rain and drunk Australian's that desperately wanted us to join their party. Drove through the park listening to the Vince Guaraldi Trio. John cried at the Hamilton soundtrack. I cried at a bunch of things. (All good, I swear)
This is going to hurt.
I have been writing these words--sewing their meaning and impact into the fabric of my daily life and pulling out the frayed strings of doubt--for the past three months. By writing, I mean living them, learning them, discovering them when I open my cupboard for the peanut butter. I am only here and able to record them now because I believe God is truly full of tender mercies and very strong language, and it is time to put them down in this journal.
Are you ready to drive by a hospital and realize you don't know where the closest one is to your house?
Are you ready to see so many women with curly blond hair and wonder if your mom is still awake on your drive home from work?
Are you ready to be patient when you are tired and think about how to explain how your husband can take care of you because he doesn't have the knowledge of the people who raised you? Are you ready to not be patient the first 7 times around and to deal with that?
Are you prepared to let life go on without you, Lottie? Can you close your eyes tight on the fourth of July and eat a hot dog and emotionally crawl through the day on your hands and knees because you found your Montauk t-shirt in your hamper and none of the grandmas at this barbecue know you?
Are you prepared to let life go on without you? Can people grow and experience things without you? Are you really not going to Maine this summer?
Are you prepared to let life go on without you?
You won't be prepared. You will try to quit. Several times. You will actually try harder than you've tried at most things to get your husband to quit with you.
You will try and try to untie yourself from the stretching board. It will be embarrassing and sad and extremely inelegant. This is typically how lessons begin.
I wrote those words at the end of July. I didn't feel like I had finished feeling them, understanding them, so I left them as a dusty draft to haunt me whenever I come back to this space. I've never actually experienced reverse-wisdom before. Where you jump before your brain catches up with you, you drive away before realizing what you're doing. As I flip back through the pages of my brain since February, I think that's what I'm feeling now. Reverse-wisdom.
A few more thoughts on the moving far away matter: try to keep some things normal. You'll be an essential genius if you're wise enough to without thinking about it bring a dog you've started loving along with you for the ride. You may think now is the time to fill your life with every weird and different experience attainable. This is not the case. To an extent, do try new things, do try to care more about cactuses (I'm not using the plural cause it sounds weird) than deciduous trees that have a piny warm smell in the summer and a sweet smell in spring. Do delight in picking figs from your neighbors yard and stepping on oranges in your driveway, rather than running over crab apples with the mower. But watch The Office again. Make brownies weekly. For goodness sake (and none other than that), in the middle of a giant city literally filled with good coffee, get yourself some freaking pumpkin spice from Starbucks. If you don't already have a really solid pair of pajamas that make you feel like the best version of yourself, you're gonna want to secure some. Don't try to grow your hair out again. I know you're trying to be frugal and carefree, but when you put your hair in a ponytail you look like a colonial Captain Jack Sparrow. Give it up. When you've made what we'll call an interesting decision to be a freelancer (or let's call it a wonderful excuse to avoid the traffic all together) and come home from one of the most insane days of your life because believe it or not you actually have SOME work (other than for amazing friends and their ridiculously cool endeavors), your dog will lick the tears off of your face, do a little dance with his paws in the air, and transport the three of you back to simpler times outside of city life. Furthermore, if you've simply been generously given a partner who although cannot fix everything, can DEFINITELY make sure you eat food and will drive you to West Hollywood to pick up 9 very expensive rugs for these sorts of jobs that you were not ready for, IF this man has been given to you, do not take him for granted. God is keeping you alive through him. These normal things are your life blood. Oh, and BTW, not sure if you've checked the news or your friends' FB feeds lately but your life is looking PRETTY good right now. It is very hard, but you are healthy, your family is healthy, and this is a season.
It is romantic to venture off to new parts of the country and invest your life in new opportunities. Believe me when I say, nothing so grand comes without great sacrifice, heartache, and confusion. You're going to get a bit bruised. If your pain tolerance is low (ahem), the bruises will sting. Things to consider. Also to consider: everything in its place. A friend of mine and I used to say this to each other in high school. What kind of INSANE TIME-SPANNING reverse-wisdom is THAT?!
In other news, this "freelance" business has actually made way to some really fruitful, enjoyable work. Find The Eureka Company on FB, Instagram (@theeurekacompany) or on their site (theeureka.company). Another beautiful thing God is writing is our sort-of ironic but rewarding connection to Syracuse. I never thought that when the day came to play a part in it I'd be on the other coast, but alas, it would appear I don't know what the story is going to be.
I don't know what the story is going to be.
As of last Sunday we have officially been in California for six weeks. I can hardly believe the way time has flown, though honestly 3-4 of those weeks I spent searching for a job and unsettled by the amount of free time I had on my hands, so life has only just begun to get busy. While this is a bit delayed report of our trip, I wasn't even sure I was going to give one at all, so I'm patting myself on the back about this one.
As some of you may or may not know, my husband is the best writer between the two of us. I thought it would be really cool to get a few of his words on here in this space that is so me. Our writing styles are extremely different, but our lives are one, and in dwelling on our past trip it seemed fitting to pair some of our words together. Below is his account, followed by mine. John Louis' words are in italics.
There’s this phenomena that takes hold over me that I’ve begun to notice in the last year or so. If there is a date on the calendar-- a friend’s wedding, a week long trip, or your friendly neighborhood civic jury duty-- there is a hidden anxiousness that I’m only made keenly aware of by that date slapping me in the face with its impend. Day off the wedding, trip, or jury duty I find myself remembering all the times I was looking to this date. Remembering when it was a month away, a week away, a day away. Remembering when I was asleep last night thinking of my day full of wedding, trip, or jury duty. There now exists two epochs: Before Date and After Date. Before Wedding, Before Trip, Before Jury Duty.
So the months, weeks, and final sleeps until Lottie and I drove across the country piled on as we were in the car leaving our snow-crusted friends at the coffee shop they own that had become a home to us. With wife, dog, and worldly possessions en tote, I realized that this is what I had been anxious for. All the planning, fretting, laughing, job-quitting had been for this. This is what we were after and we are now doing it.
The morning we left New York, I got up around 5am (we'd planned to set out around 8) because I could hear my mom downstairs and could no longer be a sleeping person in such an insane moment of our life. We sat on the small blue couch in the kitchen together, her hazelnut coffee steaming in her mug. I could barely speak to her in that moment, even though she and I speak a non-verbal language too, and she took my hands in hers. "You and I, we have to be brave." I will never forget how physically difficult it was to get in our car and drive away.
We took six days to drive from NY to CA. Technically if you're a psycho with very few human needs, I think you can drive to California from New York in like three days. That being said, we chose the route of idiots (I'm taking the blame here) and drove all the flip over what John would sarcastically call God's green earth, taking roughly "the northern route" that people will elusively refer to upon asking you about your trip. Not sure when we'd have another chance to truly experience the entire country's landscape, and craving some views of the northwest (again this is a classic Lottie decision, not so much my husband's), we wrote out an itinerary and set out to see a bunch of stuff and people. This is actually a goal with respectable intentions, but having planned for mostly 10 hours days, with a couple 12-13 hours ones, IN FEBRUARY, IN WYOMING FOREVER, we were thrust with a very different perspective come a few hours into Wyoming. The place is crazy (40+ mile an hour winds across the entire state) and we drove the last few hours (the most mountainous ones) in the dark. It's literally taken me these six weeks to feel like I can casually report about it on the internet, just to give you an idea of how out of my mind I was after finally getting to Jackson Hole at 11pm. I could probably be dramatic about it for 17 more paragraphs, but the beautiful truth is I can honestly look back with appreciation for what we experienced. At almost every stop, we would calculate how long it would be to just throw the rest of our trip out the window and head to LA. We were exhausted and scared. We pushed on though, and every time we finally arrived to our next destination (all homes of generous, kind friends with the exception of Jackson, WY) we were immediately built back up again. The company was extremely deep and meaningful for us, and we left every morning completely brand new. I was mentally exhausted and could barely think about it, but I knew that something amazing was happening.
The wisdom of a commercial of my youth droning “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing” loops on a track in my brain. You can plan for a wedding, a trip, a day of jury duty. You can plan a drive across the country. But there is no way to plan (in my estimation) for feeling those 3,000 some-odd miles directly beneath you. To be in the mountains, to be in the valleys, to know how frightening the expanse of both those places actually are. To make your house in California “Home” in your GPS, and still mourn sending your wife “home” for a week. If the adage “home is where the heart is” can bleed any light through the veneer of cliche, then my home truly lies in Syracuse and Chicago and Lincoln and Spokane and Los Angeles.
It’s easy to view the heart as a finite object that can only spread across so much space. That it would be better to leave it in one spot and do all it’s loving, never to be stretched or compromised. This is no longer my view of the heart. The human heart doesn’t add and subtract love. The human heart is multiplicative. Love shared between hearts increases your share of homes in the universe. I spent a week exploring my home and seeing my family across these states. We are in this Epoch called After Trip in our home the size of a country and we can accomplish anything.
*PS: Stay tuned for a photography project coming soon to Porridge and Pine, dedicated to the sea.
When I was in third grade I learned about different cultures. I learned that the Japenese folded paper with printed patterns into little animals, and that they sat on the floor, shoes aside, when they ate together. This seemed profound to me.
When I was 14 I learned that I hated competition--even worse, the urgent pressure of it. I froze on soccer fields, after ten years of loving them, completely paralyzed by the voices calling to me. "Why don't you do anything?" coaches would ask. I didn't know.
When I was 17 I learned about coffee that tasted so good I didn't need to put milk and sugar in it. I learned that people lived in cities surrounded by mountains--this was casually their home, it was normal, but not taken for granted. What a beautiful, simple life I thought.
When I was 18 I learned about Chicago. It was underrated with its marvelous views, and sprawled with people who were shackled in poverty and circumstance. I learned about the art of improvisational comedy--an actual skill people pursue for a living. It was as beautiful as paintings and sculptures and great music, but with the added bonus of making you laugh until you threw your back out. I fell in love with the smells of the city and the possibility of change for those shackled people. I fell deeply in love with laughing that hard.
When I was 19 I learned how hard I could push my brain organizationally and stuffed the rest of my undergrad career into a year of donuts and reading and philosophy assignments. I learned that I was great at executing plans, but that if given future chances, I would probably not stuff anymore chapters of my life into bags. Even in the face of confusion, there was still plenty to fall in love with.
When I was 20 I learned about learning in a different sort of way and became a wife. When I was 20 I also learned about addiction and its presence in my family and the great oceans of influence it has on every single human alive on this planet. Influence that is forceful and knocks down towns and takes away lives and people's freedom to make their own choices. I continued to learn about addiction when I was 21 and 22 and 23. I will always learn about it. Today I learn about its fruit, and about the shadow of fear that bears no importance when there is grace and years to keep learning.
When I was 21 it was more common that it was us learning, not just my own self, which was beautiful and stunning even when very very hard. We learned about making money and spending most of it on rent and the rest of it however we wanted. We learned about flat tires and which of us gets more nervous about driving around with little gas and how quickly your christmas tree will die if you don't water it.
When I was 22 I learned about photoshop and crappy small business owners and how discontentment is an illness derived of poor self-care.
When I was 23 I learned that you might get rejected more times than you expected from schools that you equate with your dreams and you will still somehow be standing at the end of it. When I was 23 I learned how it would feel to lose a grandma and see a parent lose their parent and a husband lose their wife and yourself grasp for memories so to not lose them too.
The waves of this educational life seem to be getting louder and louder, and much more close together. Whether I am hiding out from the sun, or standing at the water's edge waiting for them to come, they find me, and they rise up, and they crash down. In my 24th year I have already begun learning about saving money, ending seasons, drifting out of friendships, and strengthening others. I don't even know what sort of Tsunami we're in for in the coming year, and I don't know if I'll write about it here. I might, but I might be lost at sea. Good or bad, I'm going to let myself experience instead of name it. I promised my mom I would.
I hope that when I'm 24 I'll learn how to move away from my family and have them fully convinced how much I love everything about them. I hope they will know that it is much harder for me to leave them than I am letting on but of course this is the only way I can do such a thing. I hope I will learn how to truly know my independent self and let myself off the hook for all the times it seems like I should be less homesick. I hope I will learn so much about supporting my greatest love in pursuing his dreams. I hope I will learn to be okay with telling people that while I have my own dreams, supporting him is one of my own dreams too. I hope I will learn to grow alongside friends who are doing their own growing, and that I will be generally less fearful--not out of knowledge but of faith. Finally, I hope to learn of many different views of the water and peaks in the state of California.
When I first had these scones we were visiting friends in Michigan. It was a busy mostly sleepless trip and I remember time pausing when I had my first bite of one of these warm, cinnamon-y, almost graham-like, seriously wholesome scones. That sounds like a line I was paid to write for a commercial, but I honestly can't lie about the way time nearly sludged in the most wonderful way when I filled my body with one of these--topped with butter, jam and almond butter. This magical scone luck just continued to unwrap when I discovered the recipe on an amazing blog. (This is your cue to visit it promptly.)
I kind of love that I only somehow share recipes of baked goods (seems scones are common) and more often than not those recipes have come from my visits at another's home. There's something more profound to that pattern that I should travel to.
This recipe promises full smells of cinnamon (I can pleasantly attest to this) and calls itself a "breakfast scone," which is honestly genius. I am guilty of making everything about dessert (you may know me to say things like "it needs chocolate"), and this scone is an amazing canvas for every breakfast condiment you've ever loved, let alone so wonderfully tasty as is. As usual the creation of a dough, the way the butter sticks to your hands, the actual forming of the scones themselves--the whole process has me completely in love. The process is as poetic as its portrayed on film, and that's probably why I can't stay away. After receiving a food processor from my mom for my birthday last year, I am astonished at how simple scones are to make. If I'm not making scones weekly by the time I'm 30, someone slap me. These beckon to be a habit. And for sure a way to fill your kitchen with company (big and small). Today I wish I could fill my kitchen with the smell of my Grandma Peggy's company and perfume. I will have these for breakfast for the rest of the week with my coffee and sip to her.
Bake these. On a Thursday, a Saturday, a Wednesday night. The weekend might appeal to you, but seriously you'd probably need them more on a week day anyway. I know I did. Maybe enjoy some cards (dutch blitz all DAY) or heck, even Mario Kart (despite my inability to be a good sport with that game).
My mind wanders to the same things these days; our upcoming travels, our move, the ocean, mountains, foreign-ness. Today it wanders to baking these on the other coast. The constant and the variable both delight me. I don't wander any further.
(In case you missed the link at top, the recipes for these Honey Oat Breakfast Scones can be found here.)
Today John convinced my parents to hunt down a real tree before I was even awake. I'm actually sort of speechless at the tingling tingles this holiday winter-ish season is giving (we have been artificial tree people all my life). We've been waiting for the snow, but this day; the possibility of new traditions and profundity of change and age, the mornings he and Glasgow have woken me this weekend. I'm stung by it. My dad bought me one of those tiny trees you keep in a pot and plant in the ground. We've nearly drank all our coffee today. Yesterday when John tried to convince me that we could buy one of those super expensive espresso machines from Williams Sonoma. He almost had me. I'm wearing a cable knit sweater. These are the days.
I'm set on owning a tree farm some day. Maybe as some sort of retirement gig. The ocean and mountain summits make me feel the same infinite buzz. Thoughts for a later date.
It's really breath-taking to pick your head up and look around one holiday and find everyone in your family as older and changing. Breaking-taking like, eventually beautiful, but at first more like when you got hit by someone on the sledding hill and your breath literally gets knocked out of you. I see its value, and I really see its beauty when I can breathe again. We're all learning about each other still, and how to express our love. But it's a worth-while challenge that I think I might not able to be lazy about.
Trying extra hard to start better eating habits at work (both of us) to keep going and keep moral high while we push through the next couple months. Today I don't feel fearful about moving across the country but on a Sunday evening I'll be overcome by despair to face work on Monday. Not sure that'll remain come March, but we're trying to face it like adults. Crafting salads in the kitchen feels like waging a tiny war on my current frustrations.
Chowed down on grilled jalepeno cornbread at this copper counter Sunday morning and John made sure to get me some vanilla butter. A special weekend.
/ A really special article and project. http://www.thearchibaldproject.com/blog/2015/11/11/words-from-a-foster-mom
/ Desiring this mug. http://www.goat-story.com/
I love it in the morning when I'm driving out of the city and my hands smell like John's pomade from holding his on the drive in.
When I was moving into my college dorm (second year of college, different city/campus) for the first time, Ivividly remember my dad intently focused on setting up my bed before anything else. I remember him saying, "just in case you want to cry and be alone or something." That memory has sunk deep within me. Thoughtfulness of any kind at ALL, like having a good memory of how minimally I use condiments when I eat, is without a doubt the most appreciated characteristic there is in knowing me. My dad, a man of few words and conversations et al, thought about preparing a place for me to be if setting up my dorm went awry or was stressful when I was 18. This memory is a portion of the foundation of my understanding of him as an adult.
This weekend has felt much like that memory. Both of our parents literally laboring over moving our belongings, never stopping, doing small things in the pauses like washing random dishes that were forgotten or strapping our couch to the roof of their car. I went to work later in the afternoon on Saturday, leaving my husband with the chaos and ultimately our new "home" for the time. He recounted to me later in a dim but lively UNO's the things they did when I left, arranging our furniture, organizing our things, putting one of their cars in the driveway to store other furniture in the garage we hadn't even thought of what to do with yet. These people, stirring about so that we can chase our dreams. You don't have words for it when you realize it's happening.
You can only stand there and know that you're young and wish that you'd remembered to wash that pan but really, you have to remember how they made you felt, and most importantly why they're doing what they're doing. Who doesn't want to believe in someone else's dreams that much someday?
+ I can feel my heart aching in the way that I knew it would. I've been waiting for this little soft sorrow to sneak up on me when things slowed down slightly before our move--where I'd be forced to process things and would quickly discover our time was up and the place was no longer ours. That time has come and I've been trying my hardest to prepare. I've been telling myself that this is a moment I'm just going to need to choose a hard choice for a good reason and be strong and forceful and drag my body through it. I remind myself that I may have to make decisions like this for the good of others, likely my own children some day. That I will need to demonstrate hard decisions and strength. Now is an opportunity for practice. And perhaps a couple more minutes under the covers, at the kitchen table, and out in the yard. Oh Moulter St. You were never ours, but what you gave us we will have forever.
"Now that the last leaves are down, except for the thick dark leaves of the oak and ghostly beech leaves that click in the breeze, we're reduced to a subtler show of colour - brown, grey and buff, perhaps a little purple in the distance [...] To my eye these hues are much more beautiful than the garish early autumn with its orange leaves - orange, the colour of madness - and leaves the colour of blood. Let hot life retire, grow still: November's colours of those of the soul."
+I just had a meet-cute in a diner with my dad where we waved to me from a tiny table in the back. My heart swelled to three times the size and I am saving it forever in my brain for times I need to remember. He joked about figuring out how to stalk people on Facebook when he got home "like my mom does." This is the dad with a flip phone that isn't on 50% of the time. It reminded me so much of the scene from this incredible movie that I've seen twice since in theaters.
+crazy adirondack views from our quick jaunt to Placid a couple weekends ago. trying out a new budget for our adventures ahead and insanely delighted in the victory of discovering that day trips are not only doable but actually more enjoyable with the presence of financial limits. these views cost nothing, and were the best thing we bought all day
+last few cups brewed in the moulter st place. I should make a stop motion thing of these brew memories before the inspiration leaves me
+in love. his new work has brought new challenges and rewards. I love watching him do his thing
+learn to look at yourself on any day, with any amount of sleep and victories and endorphins and grasp the word enough