Friday, November 30, 2012

don't take your baby to the movies*

I went to Breaking Dawn (part two) with my movie girls last night. I needed that movie. There have been far too many tears lately. I am so far down I think we can officially name it depressed.

As I settled in my chair I arranged my snacks (the movie is second to the snacks, yes?) and prepared to let my mind be entertained by bad dialogue and brooding vampires for a while. And then somebody wheeled a stroller in.

I couldn't tell how old the little one was. Around Bennett's age? A bit younger? He had a clear bit of babble at times during the movie but was quite silent throughout so perhaps he was younger than he looked. I don't know. It was dark.

Most of the time I don't care what other parents do. You know I'm not a perfect parent. J really knows I'm not a perfect parent. Every parent has their moments, but bringing a baby to a movie - especially one like Breaking Dawn - is inconsiderate and selfish.

The previews, which are usually my favorite part, scared me so much I was burying my head under my friend's sweater and praying for the movie to start. It was like the previews that come out just before Halloween only we're a month past Halloween. I was expecting the good Christmas previews, but instead there was some creepy thing about two girls abandoned in the woods who said, "mama," a whole lot.

And the movie wasn't so tame either. I don't care what your parenting philosophy is. I think we can all agree a little one should not be sitting through a movie where so many vampire heads get ripped off what is supposed to be dramatic becomes hilarious. The vampires are bloodless so there is no spurting, but still, heads get ripped off, limbs get carried around by wolves and the special effects are so terrible it's easy to forget what movie watching era it is. (Anyone else think baby Renesmee was two degrees shy of creepy?)

I try not to judge other parents. I try to feel compassion for the parent who is obviously struggling. I have those days too. We all have those days as parents. It comes with taking care of a person who possesses a stunning amount of will and drive, but can't communicate well.

But there are moments when I do judge. When I see a parent say, "don't hit your sister," followed by a smack across the cheek, I judge. When I see a parent hauling their child to black Friday sales at midnight and 8 pm showings of Breaking Dawn, I judge. It's not fair to ask a child to sit through a two hour movie. It's not fair to expect them to go wherever you want to go simply because they are small.

I couldn't fully enjoy the movie because I was worried about the little guy in the stroller. When I cringed and hid my face I wondered if he was scared. When the music swelled and hurt my ears I wondered how it felt to him. I wanted to take him home, put him in pajamas and rock him to sleep.

A reckless part of me wanted to confront the parents, but visions of a beating in a popcorn strewn lobby stopped me. Ultimately it's none of my business how they raise their child, or what they do with their time. As parents we have to do our best. And I have to realize that most of the time my best isn't going to look like anyone else's best.

I hope that little boy is sleeping the morning away after his big night out. I hope he is safe, warm and loved, because that's what is truly important.

*unless you have a newborn in a sling or wrap and simply must get out of the house. They will most likely sleep through the showing.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

how to go forward

Yesterday Bennett pointed at the mantle. "This?" he asked, as he does three thousand times a day. I lifted him over the gate J built in front of the fire place and held him up to Charlotte's shelf.

"Bird candle. Candle. Pretty container." What else are you going to call the urn that holds your dead baby's ashes? It feels weird telling a 14 month old what an urn is.

He touched each item I showed him and then pointed to Charlotte's picture. "This?"

"Charlotte. Your sister."

I set him on the other side of the gate, eased her picture from the shelf and set it in his hands.

Bennett was delighted. He's in that obsessed with other babies stage all toddlers go through. He carried the picture around. Hugged it close. Kissed it.

There isn't a thing on earth that can prepare a heart for the split second in time when your living child kisses your dead child's picture.

I wish I had grabbed the camera, but I used my phone to snap a picture because it was closer.

This is a new path. One I knew was coming, but difficult all the same. How do we go forward? How do we explain Charlotte to Bennett without scaring the ever living daylights out of him? Some day - and it will be sooner than I expect - he'll ask where she is, and why she isn't here with us, her family.

Then it will be, "Charlotte, your sister in heaven. I don't know. I don't know. I don't know. Love her, this little person you've never met. She is part of us even though we can't see her or spend time with her or know what her laugh sounds like. She is us. Trust me, Bennett. She is you and me and Daddy and everything good about the world. She is love."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I write these posts over time. When I think of a confession I jot it down and when I have enough scraps of paper I compile them into a post. The other day a confessions post from a blogger friend popped up in my feed. I love that someone else decided to post confessions. I thought it would be fun to let anyone who wants to join in. There's a spot at the bottom to link up!

I often do the dinner dishes during breakfast.

Educational projects (anything sensory) always work out better in my mind.

If I hear a strange noise I dial 91 on my cell phone and then go looking. I blame this on J who once told me a story about a man who hid in a family's attic for days. He waited for the husband to leave and then he murdered the wife. Thanks for that urban legend, honey.

The other day I found Bennett licking the (open) battery compartment of the carbon monoxide detector (which is not plugged in). So basically he was licking a battery. And our household is unsafe.

I let Bennett play with "public toys."

I rarely remember to wash Bennett's hands after we've been out somewhere.

I hate having my feet touched because I am so ticklish.

Which is why I've never had a pedicure. I hope to sit calmly and quietly through one before we go to Hawaii.

When I'm having a rough day with Bennett I Instagram and Facebook my life like there's no tomorrow. I always have something funny to say, or a cute picture to post, and it makes me remember how amazing my life is. It also provides me with a tiny bit of adult conversation. (Do comments count as conversation?)

I tell Isabel to "check the perimeter!" (look out the window for cats) when I need to separate her and Bennett for a few minutes.

I Google every parenting question/issue that comes up.

I try so hard to be the calm even thought I lost a baby mama I'm afraid I don't worry enough sometimes.

I've cried in the car twice in the space of a week. Because of Christmas songs on the radio (I'll Be Home For Christmas, All I Want For Christmas Is You). Because I should be buying presents for a little girl. Because I miss her. Because missing her hurts so much during the holidays I can barely breathe.

I call Bennett by his middle name when frustrated with him.

I am ready to wean, but feel like I can't because of Bennett's allergies (no cow's milk, hates all other milk we've tried). I feel like I should wait until he's two, but ughhhh ...

If I have the chance to birth another baby I'm getting an epidural. Make that two - one for the body, one for the brain.

What do you have to confess today?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


I'm writing from the Trader Joe's parking lot. I couldn't decide when to do the monthly grocery shopping for December because life is a little busy. Guess what? Nap time was not a good choice.

Now I'm blogging in a parking lot instead of cleaning the house, which is so messy I don't know where to start. I feel so disorganized and scattered right now. When I bought gas ten minutes ago I couldn't figure out why the attendent was tapping on my window. I forgot to pop the tank, and it took me a few confused seconds to figure out what was going on. I'm sure scrolling through facebook updates while sitting there was not part of the problem ...

Today is curly hair day one. I used Bed Head Foxy something. Foxy Curls? Foxy Curly? I think it looks okay. One of the reasons I dislike my hair in this state is because it makes me look so young. I have no idea where the picture posted since I'm doing this from my phone, but what do you think?

Please entertain me. I have no idea how long I'll be sitting in this parking lot.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

do you care?

We had an incredible sermon today. It was the kind that just pins you to the pew; I felt rooted to my seat as the pastor spoke. He preached on the passage in Mark (4: 35-41) where Jesus calms the storm. He spoke on faith and belief and understanding that the Lord can calm any storm we face. We just have to trust Him and His power. We have to trust that someone who is powerful enough to calm the ocean can calm any storm we face.

I'm not distilling this down very well at all, but I'm trying.

I felt so convicted when he said Christians believe everything in life is going to be fine simply because we believe, but that's not the case at all. He said, "You can live squarely in the will of God and still have your business fail. You can live squarely in the will of God and still have your family fall apart. To which I add, you can live squarely in the will of God and still have your baby die.

When life goes sideways we turn to heaven and ask, "do you even care?" when we should be turning to heaven and saying, "I trust You. I place my life in your hands." The question isn't whether or not He cares, the question is whether or not you believe that what He is working in your life is for your good and His glory.

My entire life changed when Charlotte died. I would not be this Angela if she had lived. I would not know a community of parents transformed by tragedy. I would not know what it's like to feel so compelled to write I couldn't stop if I tried. I would not know what it's like to stand in front of people and say, "this is my story." I would not know what it's like to put so much pressure on my faith it seemed as if it would break at any moment. But it didn't break. It held strong and I came back to my Father.

I don't write about my faith much. You know I believe. You know I hope you believe. But sometimes I am so heart struck by Jesus I just have to share it with you all in the hope you turn to Him, in the hope you find the comfort and peace I've found within my faith.

Jesus loves you. He cares. Even when life falls apart. Even when your baby dies. He loves you.

mom hair

After spending the morning looking at old photos I can say with absolute accuracy and no exaggeration whatsoever that I have always had hair issues.

From a scrapbook my mama made for me. Circa late 90s/early 00s.

Also: if I ever mention even the merest whisper of a thought about reintroducing bangs into my life stop me. Use force if you have to.

In the Hunger Games series one of the books (I think the first one) mentions a device that you place your hand on after you step out of the shower which makes one's hair dry, straight and shiny (if I'm remembering correctly; it's been years). I want that device. When I was around 25 I discovered the joy that comes from a hair straightener, but to have straight hair without doing anything is my ultimate goal.

My problem is that I don't have curly or straight hair. I have super thick hair that has varying degrees of wave to it. And I no longer have regularly scheduled hair appointments to help manage my hair. I refuse to cut it super short, which would give me true mom hair, but I do want something simpler. I'm slowly reverting back to my school days: wash hair, pull back, let frizz all over sides and top, but that's just not a good look.

Is there a product - just one - I can put in my hair while damp that will leave my hair looking good? A product that will allow me to finally let my hair air dry without fear of it growing so large I can't fit through doorways? Do you have wavy hair? What works for you? Please don't tell me to use a diffuser. I tried that once, with a YouTube video playing in the background for help and moral support. At the end of that ordeal I was frustrated and dizzy from hanging my head upside down, but I did not look like the woman in the video.

It doesn't take me long to get ready since I don't wear makeup and have little fashion sense. If I can drop the drying/straightening routine I can be out the door playing with my boy in minutes. And that sounds really, really good.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

is it really almost time?

Oh my stars in heaven, I just finished off the other half of the mini chocolate cream pie J made for me. My goodness that was delicious. He is going to regret making it because I will ask for it constantly now.

So, I wasn't going to blog about this, but I kind of feel like my head may explode, and maybe my heart too. Some time ago J and I decided on a "let's try for another baby date." (Are you excited? I'm not sure how to feel, but if you're excited I'll probably feel just a smidge of excitement.)

Now that date is not yet upon us, but it's coming up on the calendar, and my current state of mind looks something like a Jackson Pollock painting. As in, I be jumbled and confused and a little bit frantic.

On Monday I'm going to call the doctor who helped me through Bennett's pregnancy (I refuse to say he delivered Bennett because I'm the one who pushed out that posterior baby who refused to drop his hands and so was born with them BY HIS FACE with zero pain medication). I was going to wait a while longer before calling the doctor, but I just found out he's semi-retired and I'm afraid he will be fully retired if I wait. He is living on the coast, writing and doing research, which is wonderful for him, but it's left me feeling even more lost.

I have three big questions

1. Where do I have the baby?
2. Am I high risk?
3. Will I bleed out if I have a third baby?

I was hoping he would answer them like this: 

1. Oh, have your baby here again. We'll take care of you.
2. No, you're mid-risk, but we'll take you as a patient anyway (I don't think I can qualify as low risk since I had a baby die, but maybe having one live and one die kind of cancels things out??)
3. Of course not! The plan we had in place to stop a hemorrhage during your second birth didn't work, but this other plan will work. Guaranteed.

Okay, I'm trying to deflect stress and worry with humor, but in all seriousness I am concerned about those three things. And of course I've worked myself into a state of unfairness where those who don't have babies die don't have to worry before having another baby, but I know that's not true. They worry. They just worry about different things - like finances and how will baby 1 get along with baby 2. I haven't even begun to worry about that set of issues.

Shoot, Bennett is crying.

I have a lot more on my mind, but Bennett boy woke after a scant hour so it will have to wait for another time.

Friday, November 23, 2012


I did it! I made my first Thanksgiving meal - with lots of help from my mama.

I did all the menu planning, though!

We made: 

Mashed Potatoes 
Braised Cabbage with Apple 
Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Apples
Pomegranate seeds (this was the cranberry alternative)
My Mama's Jello Dish

And J made apple pie and chocolate cream pie. He made four pies all told: apple pie, gluten free apple pie (for Bennett) chocolate cream pie, and miniature chocolate cream pie sans eggs (for me).

I have never cooked so much food in one go. My mom and I cooked for hours yesterday and did a fair amount before dinner today too. And this was happening while we cooked:

Chef bonus = sampling 

First apple pie. So. much. sugar.

Blessed. And thankful.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

finding the middle ground

We had a lot of fun with J's family over the weekend. The best part about visiting family is free baby sitting. We were hoping to sneak off and see the new Bond movie, but weren't able to fit it in. We did manage a quick date at a cafe while Bennett was napping on Sunday.

I love this candid shot. B and I have the exact same gait.

We had a terrible drive home yesterday. It poured buckets while we were up North and there was a lot of standing water on the road when we drove home. The rain hammered on the roof. It was so loud J and I had to shout at each other to be heard. J said it's the worst driving conditions he's ever experienced. I'm just glad he was at the wheel. I hate driving. It's still raining today, but at least there have been a few breaks. I think the flood and severe weather watch has been lifted.

On Friday I'm making my first Thanksgiving dinner for my family (with my mom and J's help). Bennett will probably help too. He loves to cook. I should be gathering spices, pots and pans for Friday's meal, but I am enjoying my quiet house and warm fire too much to move.

I'm trying to shake off my grumpiness and enjoy the next few days. I love the holidays and yet I can't stand them because Charlotte's not here. There's just a different weight to this time of year. There's a cast over every happy moment. Tears fall suddenly and unexpectedly. It's hard to keep my emotions in line. I don't want to be falsely enthusiastic and push the sadness away because I feel like I have to, but I also don't want Bennett's memories of the holidays to revolve around his mama crying at the dinner table.

Sigh. I am thankful. You know I am. I'm just a bit sad too.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in the US.

And happy Thursday to the rest of you.

Monday, November 19, 2012

inspector b

solves his first case

I was going to post these on facebook, but decided they needed a wider audience. I had no idea I had snapped a little story until I sat down to upload the pictures. Toddlers are so much fun.

the whole story

Yesterday we went to church with J's parents. They attend a small church. Most of the parishoners are retired, and very sweet. After the service a potluck Thanksgiving lunch was taking place so we sat at round tables instead of in traditional rows. We were at the front table, off to the left.

The pastor was speaking on thanksgiving - naturally - and at one point he spoke of his daughter and how beautiful she was at birth. He paused and then said, "is. She is beautiful." I thought about how lucky he was to be able to correct to the present tense. And how I'm still so angry I'll never have that opportunity with my daughter.

At the end of the service his last point focused on being thankful for people who encourage us. He told the story of his baby who died from SIDS, years ago. As soon as he said, "crib death," my eyes welled up. I didn't want to cry. I hate crying in public, in front of people I don't know, but I couldn't stop the tears from falling.

I felt panicky, like I wouldn't be able to stop the tears. It was one of those moments where time, place, and company didn't matter. All I could think was, "I miss her. I miss her. I miss her." I was so mad at myself, and a little embarrassed. It's been so long since I've cried like that. I cried constantly in the beginning, which is why I rarely left the house. It happens so infrequently now it always surprises me how powerful it is, and how powerless I am to control it.

As I wiped away the tears and tried to hide my face I leaned into J. "I don't know what's wrong with me."

He shrugged, "It's the holidays."

Ahh, yes. The first holiday meltdown. I'll probably cry on Christmas Eve, and Christmas. I'll probably cry a few days between now and then too.

I miss her. We're struggling a bit up here. Bennett is breaking out and we can't figure out why. Our first evening here we drove to the emergency room because his rash was spreading so rapidly. When we arrived his rash had calmed down enough that we felt comfortable heading back to the house without going in. It's stressful though, watching him react to something and being unable to place it.

And I miss her. She is part of my blood and bones. Always in the background, circulating through my body. But sometimes the ache of missing her, and the absence of her in the present tense, knocks me to my knees. In the business of raising Bennett I lose sight of her sometimes. I lose sight of everything I've lost. I don't forget, but I can ignore because the one who is here needs me.

The pastor's message reminded me of the people I am thankful for. The ones who have carried me through losing Charlotte and learning how to parent Bennett. The ones who have read every blog post. And the ones who have dried my tears and promised me it would get better. The ones I've met, and the ones I'll never meet. I am blessed. And I am thankful for my little girl. I wish I could move her to present tense, but the fact she lived is enough. It has to be. It's all I have of her.

Friday, November 16, 2012


We're headed to the back of beyond tomorrow. Four days with limited internet service!! I'll miss you. And Instagram. And Facebook. What can I say, I'm addicted. And at least once while we are gone I will be pressed up against a window trying to get a signal ...

I just did a confessions post, but thought I would put another one up since I'll be gone a few days. I love these posts; they're so fun to write.


I don't own makeup. And I don't know how to apply it. I used to have a mascara tube from my wedding floating around that I would halfheartedly apply if we were going somewhere nice, but it's long gone. 

I think J and I would fall to pieces if we were on a show like The Amazing Race. Kindness while undergoing stress is not my strength.

Sometimes I do something that is not very wise, but everything turns out fine so I don't correct my behavior. Example: putting Bennett in his seat and then turning to get something out of the diaper bag without buckling him in. My knee was the only thing that stopped him from greeting the pavement with his head.

I almost got hit by a car the other day. If my mom hadn't honked my horn it would have backed into me. I just tried to evade the car while panicking, "I can't find the horn, where's the horn?!"

I don't like it when the car's gas gauge drops below half.

I've never run out of gas.

I absolutely hate going to the gas station even though we live in one of two states where attendants pump the gas for you. If you try to do it yourself you will get a stern talking to.

I've never pumped my own gas.

When I am sad or sick I wear the sweater I had on when I held Charlotte. It is threadbare with holes but I'll never get rid of it.

Bennett dresses better than I do.

I've adopted this fall wardrobe look that is very unfashionable, but so comfy. Sweater, skinny jeans, tall warm boots (like Uggs, but off brand, from Costco).

I am an unquestioning rule follower. I follow every rule, even if it makes little sense.

We're totally stocking up for the apocalypse/end of the world/future natural disaster.

I always feel a little smug when Bennett points to the CD player and asks for music. Smart boy doesn't know what a television is but he likes to have music on all day long.

I worry about exposing Bennett to television too early but the main reason he hasn't watched television is because I can't work the super complicated set up J created. And we don't have cable, or a television in our living room.


Back in a few days. Wish me luck on the four hour car drive with the toddler who only tolerates one hour.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

making the hard choice

Yesterday afternoon I finally took Bennett to the clinic for another round of vaccines. I don't think he's had a round since he was nine months old. We are way, way behind. Bennett reacts to every single vaccine because of his egg allergy (that's my theory at least). I initially figured out he was allergic to eggs because of vaccines.

We had one of the Russian medical assistants. Most are curt, but kind.

"Take off ze baby's pants."

"Oh, oh baby. One jab, one jab."

"No cry baby. One more jab."


And then we are alone in the room. I put Bennett's sweats on, pick him up and point at the mirror that spans one wall. He quits crying. I shrug at myself in the mirror. Why do I dread the appointments so much? Why does it take me months to schedule one?

At 1 in the morning I am reminded why. Bennett is itchy. His stomach hurts. He is exhausted, but can't settle. I try nursing, but he doesn't want milk. He pulls his knees up and whimpers. After walking, rocking and singing to him for close to an hour he falls asleep. I carry him upstairs and put him in between J and me.

He doesn't transition well. He is restless and miserable. At 2:45 J gets up, goes downstairs and returns with Benadryl. It works. Bennett drifts off. J sleeps. Eventually, I sleep too.

Every time is like this. Every. single. time. I'm stuck between wanting to keep Bennett safe and feeling terrible for putting him through this process. He is itchy and out of sorts this morning. I apply salve to his neck and shoulders over and over, but he still pulls at his shirt and scratches. In three weeks we'll go back for another round.

One of the hardest things about parenthood: I never know if I'm doing the right thing.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

when dad dresses the baby

These pictures are wonderful. If I get a few more I'll do a second post!

And one more of B. J forgot to snap his onesie before bed. This is what I found when I changed his diaper the next morning.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

let's have some fun

J parents as well as (if not better than) me. But clothes are not his thing. The contents of B's closet absolutely baffle him. He is better than I am with colors. If I pick out three shirts he can tell me which one looks best with a pair of pants, but starting from scratch proves difficult for him.

A while ago I mentioned I've always wanted to start a 'when dad dresses the baby' blog. Since I don't have the wherewithal to start another blog right now I thought a post would be fun. I am feet up on the couch today with a touch of the flu and need entertained. Send me your pictures ( and once I have quite a few I'll put them all together in a post. I know I'm not the only one who has encountered an unsnapped onesie under pajamas, or sweats on the bottom and a dress shirt on top.

Okay, this one is not J's fault. I just thought it was too cute not to share. The pants said newborn, but were definitely labeled incorrectly.

Monday, November 12, 2012

a child lives here

At the end of the evening we pick up B's toys. He helps. Some. Mostly he runs about and tucks his toys - treasures all - in what he deems safe havens: blocks on the bookcase and under chairs; cars and plastic people under the couch.

We always miss something. Every night I step into the hall and find toys that must be picked up lest I step on them in the middle of the night when B wakes to nurse. These toys speak. Loudly. They say, "a child lives here." This house is occupied by a winsome boy who hits the floor and plays possum if he becomes the focus of too much attention.

When I was pregnant with B I had nightmares about selling all of the baby furniture we had accumulated. It would be the extended version of Ernest Hemingway's heart wrenching, gut twisting "For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn." If B went the way of his sister I would be faced with composing an ad for a life that was never tried on. It was either that or burn the nursery furniture in the yard; an act that would irritate the neighbors, not to mention the city.

If we were to sell his things now - for whatever reason, boredom, time, a boy who has moved beyond - I could write a story for each one. Here is the red ball he loves to kick. And here is the other red ball. The small one he dropped in the dog's water bowl because he liked the sound it made. And here are the small square wood blocks his daddy made for him, a letter from his name etched in each one, that he carries everywhere.

And here are his favorite books. And here is his firetruck. And here is the bucket we bought for berry picking which he appropriated ...

These toys seem like simple objects but really they are the life of a little boy who exists, which doesn't seem like that great of a feat, but it is. Oh let me tell you, it is. 


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