Friday, September 14, 2012

a letter to the absent Chip


Dear Chip,

In the week that you've been gone, your son:
-Broke the cord to our internet wifi hotspot thingie by ripping it off the wall
-Tore up the carpet by the upstairs bathroom (piece by little bitty piece)
-Knocked over an entire (freshly pumped) bottle of breast milk
-Spilled a glass of water

Has tried to eat:
-My chicken and cheese enchiladas
-The brownie right off my plate
-His sister's cereal
-French fries
-Salted pretzel caramel ice cream
-My flip flops
-His sister's stuffed Piglet
-Several books
-A Costco magazine
-A dinner napkin
-A ballpoint pen
-The cat

Has NOT eaten:
-A single bit of the rice cereal I've been trying to feed him

He has also contracted a cold, wouldn't sleep very well, and generally continued to be charming and adorable.  In spite of himself.

He misses you.  As does his mother.  And sister.

This place just isn't the same without you,

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

never small on 9/11

Last night's late-night post seems irreverent today.  The light of day (no matter how dazzling and beautiful) can make things like that seem so small when so many families grieve on an occasion such as this.

Makes me think about the anniversary of any death: how the world shrinks to the space around you, while everyone else is complaining about their taxes or trying to figure out when they'll take that family vacation and you're richocheting against the walls of the smallest prison, pain so intense you can hardly breathe.

My attempt to honor that pain and give space in the debris for the way you mourn, however that way may be.

Hold your loved ones close and know that they do the same, whether they're here or in heaven.

not about spider monkeys

Do not ask me why I'm awake at 12:38 in the morning researching natural predators of spider monkeys. 

Though since I am awake and tired I will tell you that spider monkeys are pretty cute.

Have I mentioned that I'm tired?  And also a solo parent for the entire week while my husband attends a conference in picturesque Mesquite, Utah?  (or is that in Nevada?)

I took Max to his 6-month check-up yesterday.  That kid is going to be solely responsible for ruining what was left of my posture.  17 pounds and it's all muscle.  He's crawling.  Yes, crawling.  That doesn't seem right.  Something else that doesn't seem right is the fact that I have a feeling he's going to be walking by the time he's nine months.  Mark my words.

You guys have asked me how Alice is doing, how she likes her baby brother.  That can be its own post, but the short answer is that she loves it.  And loves him.  Loves him so much that I'm frequently shouting DON'T LAY ON THE BABY and DON'T ROLL OVER ON HIM and DON'T PUT YOUR FEET ON THE BABY.  Secretly I think that baby would let her carry him around in her purse if she could.  He adores his big sissy, breaks into the most awesome smile whenever he see her.

And now I'm feeling sleepy again and thinking I should heed the bodily warning since a little wee Max boy is going to need my conscious attention in about six hours.

See you on the other side.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

fits and starts


I am officially a c-section mother.  It's taken me almost 6 months to say that - the days following Max's birth were flooded with life events that pushed documentation to the background.  His birth story sits unfinished in Blogger.  For the sake of this post actually getting written, suffice it to say that when the post-op doctor came to my room after a 13-hour labor and emergency c-section, she said without preamble: Don't try a vbac next time.  Just head straight for scheduling a C.

All of this meant to tell you that I do my best to be a c-section supporter.  It's what my body and babies need, I guess, and so I go with the flow.  HOWEVER, there is one thing that really bothers me about the c-section: the fuzzy-headed fog of disconnect that invariably lasts for days.  Even when you think you're getting clear, the pain of recovery wraps your body in a zig-zag of haze.

I don't know if it's indicative of the c-section alone, or if it's simply a body's way of learning how to connect the dots of relationships when everything has been rewired.  Does every new mother go through this?

And with a second one, the disconnect is intensified.  Relearning how to be in the house, in my body, in the world.  All the while tending to the needs of not one but two small beings.

It's taken nearly six months and I'm still not quite there.

I tried to set myself up with a list of expectations: those things that need to be done to live inside the space I call my life.  Taking care of Alice, of Max, of Chip.  Doing housework and cleaning toilets.  Occasionally making dinner.  Showering.  Doing work for my church.  My part-time job.  Family relationships.  As the circle grows wider, we come to things like Alice's 2nd year of our preschool co-op, service for others, sewing.  Then there are the outlying goals of exercise, gardening, eating healthy.  This blog pushes farther back on that list but I find that it fills my mind even as I try to tell myself that it's okay, it's another layer of life stuff that will eventually be able to fit inside my day.

If I think of The Creamery as simply a journal then it doesn't make sense why I haven't come back sooner.  But it isn't that simple, it never is.  The Creamery has always been more than that to me.  It's an interactive journal, a small space on the internet where I've met so many of you.  And I've said it before: I miss you.  Even when I don't show it.  Even when I don't respond to emails.  Even when it takes me two months to post after Phoebe's death.  I do miss you.

And I want to be better about showing it.

Life goes on.  This space has sat empty and lonely.  I'm going to fix that.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

farewell to a friend

I've tried to write it a dozen times - in between feeding the kids and sweeping the floor and organizing the freezer, I have tried to write these words to say goodbye.  Instead I find myself writing a laundry list of things I'm going to miss about her.

So here it is, in list form, my sendoff for dearly delightful and oh-so-hairy Phoebe:

-She liked to sleep on my bed, and more specifically on top of my head.  I called it Phoebe Hat and it made me nuts.

-As a kitten she would stand on my chest while I was sleeping and sneeze directly on my face.

-She never took NO for an answer.

-She had terrible breath.

-She had the softest belly fur: white and downy with bits of her pink skin poking out.

-Long tufts of fur grew out between the pads on her paws.  I liked to tug on them until she'd move her paws.

-She followed me into the kitchen every time I walked in there.  She was hoping for treats.

-I used to put my cereal bowl on the floor after I was done eating.  She would come along and stick her paws in the bowl, licking the milk off her paw fur.

-She played something we called Crunchy Hockey with the dried cat crunchie food.  She'd fish a single bit of cat cereal onto the kitchen floor and then bat it across the room - chasing it as fast as she could.

-Her belly fluv swung far and low to the ground.

-She was annoying.  She got into everything.  She shed on every stitch of nice clothing I had.  She had awful hairballs and would vomit on the rugs the minute I washed them. 

And I'm going to miss her.  We're all going to miss her.  Because she was also the sweetest, most long-suffering, best example of unconditional love I've ever known.  An angel.  Covered in fur.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

sleeping habits of the baby boyd

Or, more accurately, NONsleeping habits.  The little dude is charming from the moment he wakes around 6:30am to eat and smile and sneeze (without fail: four times in a row).  Then, throughout the day he continues to eat and smile and poop and sneeze AND DOESN'T SLEEP FOR MORE THAN 30 MINUTES AT TIME.  For thirteen hours.  He retires as a gentleman should at the considerate hour of 9pm. 

I am doing my best to take this in stride.

But yesterday his charms were dimmed by the intermitant crying fits he deemed fit to add to his repertoire.

Alice had her sleep issues, heaven knows I struggled through them.  And as it goes, I've defended the dude's little quirks because I think he's scrumptious.  But come ON.  I've tried putting him down in quiet rooms, loud rooms, bright rooms, dark rooms, tightly swaddled and barely blanketed.  Nothing really makes a difference except if I'm actually sleeping WITH him and can attend his every whimper and move.  So that's clearly out.

Did you have or do you have children with weird sleep issues?  And more specifically, anyone have experience with the rare non-daytime sleeping baby?

This baby says Who wouldn't want to spend thirteen hours a day with me?

Friday, June 22, 2012

my excuse for not getting anything done

Because really, when there are children this delicious to smoosh on, how one be expected to blog?

Monday, June 18, 2012

now with bow tie

After Max's frightening visit to the hospital in April, I felt compelled to flee the state with kids in tow.  Don't ask me for details of the solo-parenting flights to Salt Lake (a frightening blur), but the memories I'm left with are these---

A month of reveling in familial goodness
A month of my parents mugging on Alice and Max
A month of playing with cousins and visiting with our nearest and dear
A month of checking in with our dear Winston, checking on his amazing recovery
A month of fun and backyard play

And also this, Max's blessing day, with every single one of my siblings in attendance.  All of the cousins except for one (we greatly missed Taylor).

I was the perfect reason for Max to don infant formal wear.  He was very dapper.

It felt like we were swimming in an ocean of love.  We can't thank mom and dad enough for opening their home to us.  And the hugest of thanks to Kimmie, Steve, Curtis and their families for everything. 

I do so love this group of crazy people.

Friday, May 11, 2012

a solution for leaky baby bottles

(First in a series of posts I'm calling Brilliant Ideas at 4am because damn - my synapsis are ON FIRE when I'm sleep-deprived and bleary-eyed, feeding a hungry Max in the wee hours.)

For leaky bottles.


And this:

And you have a little drip-catcher and no longer find yourself cursing a wet and sticky breastmilk-covered hand and pajamas.  I bought a whole pack of the little hairband thingies and keep them with my revolving supply of clean bottles on the counter, and wash the dirty ones in the sink with the dirty bottles.  Easy.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

not about the bow tie

I think it is unnatural to think that there is such a thing as a blue-sky, white-clouded happy childhood for anybody.  Childhood is a very, very tricky business of surviving it.  Because if one thing goes wrong or anything goes wrong, and usually something goes wrong, then you are comprised as a human being.  You're going to trip over that for a good part of your life.  -Maurice Sendak

I'll tell you what - I'm tired of feeling like the very sky is falling down around me, raining bits of blue-gray ceiling tiles onto my head.  I'm tired of worrying that I'll look up and find a hole way up there through which a yawning void of nothing threatens to invade.  I'm tired of feeling a clench in my stomach each time I anticipate anything that requires movement.  I'm tired of worrying over the when and the how.

Yesterday afternoon Max slept in his carrier (fresh from a trip to Target) while Alice brought me fistfuls of plastic food.  She made hamburgers and sandwiches and ice cream cones.  Fruit and eggs and maple syrup (for the hamburger, of course).  She ran to me with delight in her eyes and a smile on her face for the sheer joy of seeing me looking back at her.

Maurice Sendak passed away on Tuesday.  I'm sure you all know that, and maybe some of you don't agree with his politics.  And maybe some of you don't even like his books (Where the Wild Things Are, Little Bear, etc.).  But the man had a distinct sense of the side of childhood we don't often acknowledge - and I love him for that.  Because as I'm thinking so hard about the childhood I'm crafting for my own two little people - worrying over their naps and dirty diapers and developmental needs, I often forget how truly messy childhood really is.  And how messy, naturally so, parenthood is.  I try for perfection and really that isn't the best way to serve my little people.  They need the mess.  They need the bumps and bruises.  Because no matter what I do, those things are going to come for them anyway.

So here's to giving our children imperfection and revelling in it.  And here's to Mr. Sendak.  He will be missed.

I don't believe in children.  I don't believe in childhood.  I don't believe that there's a demarcation.  'Oh you mustn't tell them that.  You mustn't tell them that.'  You tell them anything you want.  Just tell them if it's true.  If it's true you tell them.  -Maurice Sendak

Monday, May 7, 2012


I keep trying to scratch off the rust--- doing my best to return to normalcy and documenting life here at The Creamery.  But the days have been so far from anything normal.  I'm on a different planet.  The topography, the geography, the astronomy--- all foreign.

I face the task of learning the map of this new place, and my location in it.

But for now I do my best to focus my eyes on the small square of earth beneath these feet.  I tell myself I know that there is grass here.  It is verdant green and rich with life.  There are birds singing somewhere in the distance.  And the children - the plural nature of these beings that inhabit this space with me, they are here and present.  Their needs and wants have been the pulse of my existence for the past eight weeks and now I must adjust my sight, try to unburden myself from the darkness and know that yes, I am standing here in this place.  And it's going to feel like home one day soon.

(tomorrow I will tell you why Max was dressed up in his finest; and yes that is a tiny baby bow tie)

Monday, April 16, 2012

twenty days after that

It's strange, the passage of days like river water over rocks: how time flowing over and around me softens the edges until the hours and minutes are something I can watch from a dream.  I'm in the moments but not of them.  And then there's Max.  His expectant face, so serious and intent.  Eyes that search vague shapes for faces that he knows: me, Chip, and Alice.  We orbit around this small, so new son.

Which is why the clock stopped spinning Thursday night.  I had been ordered to escape the house for a few hours with Linda.  We saw The Hunger Games.  And while we were busy consuming popcorn and discussing blue hair, Chip laid down next to a slumbering Max.  Chip had been asleep about 20 minutes when he woke up to Max choking and flailing his arms wildly in the air.  In the time it took him to pick Max up, the baby had stopped breathing altogether: white bits of foam on his lips.  Max's body was rigid, arched back like a sidways parenthesis.  Chip says it felt like an eternity of patting Max's back and watching his face go a dusky purple before he breathed again (we estimate it was between 15 to 30 seconds).

When I got home, Chip filled me in and then explained that after Max settled down again he drifted right back to sleep.  We didn't so much follow suit that night, laying in restless worry.  In the morning we took him to the doctor.  We anticipated that it was reflux: milk backing up into his esophogus and getting into his airways.  But his doctor worried about other monsters: a seizure, heart trouble, something with his lungs or airways.  Instead of heading home for ice cream and a long nap, we left the doctor's office with orders to take the baby to Seattle Children's Hospital.

And so it goes: gurgling waters suddenly come rushing in a white torrent that overwhelms the senses, pushing debris and muck into a tumbling mess of cutting pain.

We dropped Alice off with Linda and Mark, our two-person rescue party, and drove down to Seattle with a hastily-packed bag for me to stay overnight with the baby.

They were wonderful at the hospital, the best place to be when you are worried and unsure - when you cradle your very new baby and wonder what could possibly warrant a five-week-old to stop breathing.  There is so much more to the story: the nurses who danced for a young dialysis patient across the hall, the sound of Max sleeping so quiet in a hospital crib much too big for him, the long night spent on the couch in his hospital room, and the beeping monitors recording Max's breathing.

We are so lucky.  Nothing more serious was found except for a raging case of reflux (who knew?).  He isn't a spit-uppy baby, but there are other signs that we'd missed (again: who knew?).  Max was fit for a ginormous foam wedge thing for sleeping on (I'm calling it the space shuttle because it has a SEAT and SEAT BELT and all he's missing is a space suit).  We were given a lot of marching orders about how to feed him and when to feed him and ways to hold him.  But ultimately, my favorite order came from one of his nurses: Max, we hope to not see you here ever again.

Amen to that.

Monday, April 9, 2012

the mix

Chip made a list of songs for me.  Songs for the hospital, for those grueling hours of hoped-for labor and a starburst moment when Max would join us in the here and now--- changing our lives in the irrevocable way children do.

The plans we made and the things that happened are tied together in my mind in a cloudy mix of memory and wishes.

I listened to that mix in the hospital, but not in the way I envisioned.  In the hazy blue-gray of predawn I talked quietly to a tiny baby laying in solid weight on my chest.  The sounds of Chip's music filling our dark room.

And now in the weeks since his entrance, I've listened to that mix thinking about the way we plan to have our lives unfold versus the way the days fling forward in a carpet before us: messy, unkempt, sometimes painful, sometimes so sweet my teeth ache--- but always always always surprising.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

the first eighteen days

He's going to ask me about those first eighteen days.  I'm not sure I'll know what to say--- a kaleidoscope of activity, his crying mixed with his sister's kisses, my face nuzzled into his, watching him change minute by minute.

And then there was the feeling of pieces tumbling down around us: Max just four days old and a phone call from mom--- dear Winston had fallen and broken his hip.  I felt arrested in time, helpless and wondering about my dad.  Then we started to breathe again.  Winston's prognosis was good, he was sent home and happy to be there.  Mom would still be making a trip out to meet tiny Max and help me recover from surgery.

But plans are wispy things, caught up in the turmoil of life's events.  Max now just eight days old and another phone call from mom--- this one she directed straight to Chip, saying that she needed to speak with him directly.  I knew it wouldn't be good, and it wasn't: Winston had a stroke.

I've been unsure how to address it here, what to say and how to say it.  I've huddled underneath the canvas of the little tent I erected when Max was born.  I've shed too many tears, salted Max's head until his hair was slick with them.  I've worried and prayed and wondered over my dad.  The family rushed to his side while I listened from a thousand miles away.

Their attention and focus gave him strength.  Their love and prayers gave him hope.

I walked the floor with my boy at 3am, making quiet promises for a future with Winston. 

And in the days that followed, he has begun the long process of recovery.  When I spoke with him on the phone a few days ago, he sounded wonderful.  My most feisty and wonderful Winston.  That night I told Max about one of his namesakes--- how there was another Boyd so anxious to meet him, his last remaining grandfather with so much to teach him about strength and grace and courage.

I think that this is what I'll tell Max about his first eighteen days: my world was shattered and built up again.  I'll tell him that when everything else is stripped away by exhaustion and worry and sadness and loss, there is a long and enduring love.

Monday, March 12, 2012

And yet one more funny thing happened on the way back to regular blog activity

Meet Boyd Daniel Maxwell Romero. We are calling him Max, and he does not dissapoint- arriving in surprising fashion 2 weeks early.

More soon.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

a funny thing happened on the way to returning to full blog activity

...okay, more than one funny thing.

There was this,

a tried-and-true FOUR-YEAR-OLD (Saturday was her birthday and she is so grown up).

And this:

Chip got a new job.  A good job that makes him HAPPY, which is such a good thing because it makes me happy.  But the downside is that it has him traveling again (cue universal laughter).  So to recap: I am happy.  And also very nervous (as you can imagine).

And this,

this belly - this baby - this this this HUGENESS, which is still a round reminder (no baby yet).  And I'm perfectly happy about that, if you believe it.  I'd like him to hold on for a couple of weeks, actually.  Just give me a couple of weeks to finish putting his room together, to finish washing his clothes, to paint a couple of shelves, to actually sew him some swaddle blankets (cut out but as of yet, not a single stitch), and to pack a darn bag for the hospital.

And this, which is hard to explain without putting it into context.  For the last two and a half years I've been working in the children's organization at our church (it's called Primary).  I've been the secretary and the first counselor, always behind the scenes, happily in the supporting role.  I've let someone else make the big decisions and call the shots (LOVE YOU AMANDA).  And then, about five weeks ago, my Bishop asked me to be president (cue even more universal laughter).  That was my first reaction, actually: I laughed.  Then I looked at Chip.  And I looked at Alice.  And I looked at the growing belly.  Then I said yes.

It's been a busy month.

But I'm excited to be here with you, and I promise I'm hanging in for the long term, come what may.  Tune in the rest of the week for pictures of some of the things that I have actually been able to get done (fun and crafty and cute things).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

butterflies in her hair

There is no fooling you people, is there?  Monday's post starred dear sweet Alice as a party goer wearing a pee pee teepee, that ever-strange and hopefully useful baby boy accessory.

I found a pattern to make some, and with the fabulous Wandering Nana as my seamstress (everyone needs a friend like her), we've been in pee pee teepee production.

Also on the docket of pre-baby necessities:
- cute swaddle blankets
- pacifier clips
- curtains for the little buddy's room

Four weeks from yesterday, gulp.  There is a whole bunch of stuff that I need to tell you.  Like, a WHOLE bunch.  But for now, I am thinking of how Alice insisted that she "decorate" my hair two nights ago, and proceeded to put little butterfly-shaped buttons in my hair.  I forgot about them until a few hours later when I went to get ready for bed and took my hair out of its ponytail.  A little shower of butterflies fell down at my feet.  These are the small things to enjoy.  Anything new with you?

And this: if you had four weeks before your 2nd baby was due, what would you DO exactly?  (I'm not BORED, for heaven's sake, just wondering how you'd choose to spend your time.)  Give me your best advice.

Monday, February 20, 2012

a monday morning riddle for the interwebz

Well hello there.  Happy President's Day and Monday and everything wrapped up together.

For your special reading and viewing pleasure, I pose this riddle for you.

Here is a picture of Alice hosting an impromptu birthday party for someone.  Perhaps herself.  As you can see, she has bedecked her party-goers' heads with "party hats".  I say "party hats" because they most assuredly AREN'T party hats.

They are something quite the opposite.

Any guesses as to what they are (or will be)?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

my two shadows

Is it weird that I haven't posted in a month, and the first thing I put on here is a picture of the two furry beasts that have been following me around for weeks?

We've been literally turning the house upside down, moving the contents of one upstairs room (my little studio space) to the wee little office room downstairs.  The room upstairs will be Baby's.  With an extra guest bed.  And Chip's desk.  And some other stuff.  Not that it's huge to begin with, but it's a lot of stuff to stick in there. 

Did I mention that we also kicked the furry monsters out of the upstairs entirely? 

That would explain them finding me as their only real and true friend, their only source of solace, their only human who truly knows what it means to SUFFER AND HAVE TO LIVE IN COMPLETE COMFORT DOWNSTAIRS.  (I actually do have a lot of sympathy for them, they used to have complete run of the joint, but were slowly ousted room by room, until finally they woke one morning to find a gate on the bottom step and all the humans peering down at them going NEENER NEENER YOU CAN'T COME UP HERE ANYMORE....  or, that's how I imagine they see it.)

It has to do with Chip's and Alice's allergies.... and this baby, who knows what he's going to bring to the mix in FIVE WEEKS.  Five weeks, people.

I'm not really freaking out.  Only hoping we get the books out of the hallway by the time I'm in labor.

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day, if you celebrate that sort of thing.  I think we'll be celebrating today by sewing curtains... or something.

Friday, January 20, 2012

snow business

Arctic cold and it seeps into your bones, drives you indoors and makes it so you don't want to go out.  Maybe ever again.

But the weather folks are saying that this is supposed to start to melt and slush sometime today.

Fingers crossed, because I'm not sure I can stand the many clothing changes Alice requires for outdoor adventures.

Monday, January 16, 2012

thirty-eight on me

It turns out, the longer you stay away, the harder it is to come back.  Even a (momentarily) forgotten password.

It turns out, radio silence isn't silent.  The clawing static is deafening.  At first you think of ways to quiet the din, but later it becomes a type of white noise you shout over, never noticing your rising voice, the hints of hysteria.

It turns out, thirty-eight is a quiet birthday.  A birthday blanketed in white snow and ice crystals.

It turns out, even at thirty-eight, that damn chocolate cake is still cursed --- this time it's a double dose of salt.  Cake was salvaged.... but ocean-y.

It turns out, that cake is the only thing that makes you curse. 

It turns out, you miss this creamy space something fierce.  The people in it, especially.