Friday, February 25, 2011

Bottle of Rain

My husband is an absent-minded professor whose mind is often more engaged in Joseph Smith’s world of the 1830s and 40s than ours. His body comes home from work, but as he sits quietly at the dinner table, oblivious to the kids’ banter, I can see he’s not truly with us.

This focus is what makes him great at work and one of the things I’ve loved about him from the beginning. “Mark,” I’ll call softly. His eyes take a moment to focus; he’s coming back from a far distance.

“Welcome,” I say.

These days, the tables are turned. Each day I retreat a little further into the universe expanding within me. I think this is as big as my belly has ever been. Betsy is growing bigger and stronger while I become slower and weaker. More and more, I take second place in my own body. Now it’s me who sits quietly at the dinner table. I’m listening to an orchestra of seismic shifts; Betsy spins back-to-front, another contraction washes over me.

Now it’s Mark tethering me to this world.

Last night he walked in the door with eyes sparkling. He walked straight to me and put his hands around my waist (I use that term advisedly). “Are you ready?” he asked. “Are you excited?” This time, Joseph Smith was not on his mind at all. He ran to karate, read bedtime stories, and cleaned the kitchen. I took a bath and sat on the couch.

Later he--the man who drove to early-morning seminary while I slept--made a late-night grocery run for milk, bread, fruit, and yes, chocolate. I sat quietly at the kitchen table from the time he left until he returned. I sat while he put the groceries away and placed the chocolate in front of me. He turned on this song:

Who else is gonna bring you a broken arrow?
Who else is gonna bring you a bottle of rain? 

Do you feel what I feel
Can we make it so that's part of the deal
I gotta hold you in these arms of steel
Lay your heart on the line this time 

I want to come when you call
I'll get to you if I have to crawl
They can't hold me with these iron walls
We got mountains to climb, to climb 

Robbie Robertson, “Broken Arrow,” listen here

Monday, February 21, 2011

Maximum Holding Capacity

Same outfit, same pose, 2 1/2 weeks later. Two days short of 38 weeks.
Up until now I've still been doing laundry, cleaning house, writing resumes, monitoring homework, organizing belongings, running Primary, and driving carpools. Which I think has been one of those tender mercies. Because with moving at half-speed and napping (or trying to) at all hours, it really doesn't add up for me to have been keeping my head above water at all.

Which may now be ending, or at least tamping down.

  • Last night I dropped a piece of paper onto the floor and moaned, "Now what am I gonna do?" in an inappropriately pitiful way. I actually considered calling Mark from the next room to pick it up or trying to retrieve it with my toes. 
  • I've been emptying the hot water tank two or three times a day, just because a shower or bath feels so good on my huge, sore self. 
  • By far the easiest way for me to roll over in bed is to slide out of bed to the floor, turn around, then roll into bed from the opposite direction. 
  • I watch TV almost every night. Not my normal M.O. But these days it feels so good to stretch out, be still, and let Betsy and my body do their thing.
  • I don't even notice things like a thumping baby, contracting belly, or jumpy legs. That's just how I roll.
  • Last night I made mac and cheese for Sunday dinner. "Okay," Mark said when he got home from meetings, "But I'll have what you ate." Sorry, babe, no adults-only fare up my sleeve. I ate the macaroni. 

At most, there are two more weeks of this. I'll be watching them inch on by from my easy chair. Or the tub.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Our Valentines

Mark and I have a Valentine's Day tradition of mixed CDs by day and locking ourselves into our room with DVDs and Archer Farms treats by night. We're doing that today. But mostly, we felt we wanted to focus this Valentine's Day on our children. The last few months have been a bit rough around the edges around here. For many of the last eight months, Mom has not been in top form. And a good three or four of our children have been going through some rough developmental phases. Today we're plying everyone with treats and heartfelt words of love.
Big Roscoe is so handy. I can say something like, "Hang this centered between the bookcases," and he does it! Which is a good thing, because I think I was physically incapable of reaching up there.
Logan is in the phase when photographing him must be done in stealth mode. 
He looks like such a typical 13yo. And also, don't you think he looks a lot like me. Weird.

Levi has become a dedicated artist and works in this sketchbook for long stretches every day.
Haley doing homework and eating Valentine's treats. We think she becomes more self-assured and lovely all the time.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Toothless Buddy

Jesse woke up the other morning saying he had a "bent tooth."
 Sure enough, it was dangling by a thread. The dentist proclaimed it a garden-variety loose baby tooth and pulled it out.
 Now Jesse looks like this.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Little Buddy

This year was something that hasn't occurred since Logan was in preschool lo these many years gone by: I was home with just one preschooler. Jesse has been my buddy, sidekick, and jabbering companion all year. I've been his costume manager, sounding board, and translator to the wider world. ("He's telling you that Batman drives the Batmobile," I explain to the grocery bagger.)

We run errands together, eat lunch together, drive carpools together. And Jesse follows me along, chatting as I shuffle laundry, clean house, and take my morning shower (from the other side of the curtain).

It always feels like a different world when everyone leaves for work and school. The neighborhood becomes the domain of women and small children, and life centers on smaller, more domestic concerns. Like lunchtime and laundry and playdates. You might see a woman padding across the street to a neighbor's in yoga pants and wet hair. Mark and the kids can't really imagine how I spend my daytime hours, and I rarely have anything exciting to report. Each day I basically loop through rounds of the same things I did yesterday, with only small variations. (It's not exactly the same clothing I put in the washer yesterday. Not the precisely same array of dirty dishes. A different corner of the house I attempt to tame.)
This is Elvin, who joins us some evenings.

Soon Betsy will join Jesse and I in our daily cocoon of domesticity. Next year, Jesse will join the ranks of those who foray out into the public world each day. I predict that never again will Jesse and I have another season of such companionship. It was fun while it lasted. We're ready for him to stretch his wings a little wider.

(Jesse "watching" Power Rangers.)

Friday, February 4, 2011


Here's me at 35 weeks, 8 months to the day. Do I look like there's room to grow for 5 more weeks? I don't think so either.
 Last night a friend in the ward threw a baby shower for me. My first since my good BYU friend and I had a joint shower in, ahem, 1995. The women in my ward were very sweet and generous, and I now have piles and piles of adorable baby girl clothes. Several women made hand-crocheted blankets too. I feel unworthy of it all.

Does it seem like I've forgotten all my other children in the midst of all this baby mania? Well, I haven't. They're getting ready for Betsy too. For example, this morning in Betsy's cradle I found this:
We've been playing Betsy with this little dollie for the last few days, and this morning someone decked her out with slippers and binkies from the baby shower.

Our chore board as two new additions:

This is the kids' plan for what to do if they wake up with no parents. They're supposed to help each other get ready for school and call some trusty neighbors. Last time, Mark and I left in the night, Jesse was born right away, and Mark was home before any kids woke up. We'll see if we can pull that off again.

For the last several months we've been working on this getting-ready-for-Betsy list. I always feel a new baby is a good time to raise the overall family dynamics. I've explained to the kids (repeatedly) that every time I have nag, remind, ask a second time, etc. it saps energy and fun from our family. So they might as well just do it the first time.

I'm sad to say we still have a ways to go here. I'm sure it has something to do with Mom's overall lack of pep and follow-through.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Baby Cradle

Today was a very pregnant day. Betsy seemed to ride low and heavy, and it felt like I drifted through doing nothing at all. But now as I look back, I took a meal to a friend with a new baby, finished a resume, and went grocery shopping. And you know, the whole carpool, homework supervision, dinner, basketball, Scouts thing. 

Also, I did this.

I made this pretty new slipcover for the baby cradle to replace the one I made for Roscoe probably 16 years ago now.

My bedroom is my business office, sewing room, and library. And now this corner is the newborn nursing and snuggling station.