Saturday, September 22, 2012

Get Your Henry Fix

At 8 months, Henry remains bright-eyed, squeezable, kissable and ticklish, all the good qualities a baby should possess.

He is not crawling.  He can hold a hands/knees position for a few minutes, until he collapses in a scream fest.  He wiggles and pivots on his belly.  He likes to stand with help, but has no earthly idea of balance, or the importance of holding on to a stable point.  He stiffens his legs when I try to set him on the floor, so that he cannot be placed into a sitting position.

Usually if he is well rested and well fed, he is a very pleasant baby.  He loves his thumb, which is the cutest thing ever.

But lately the cute little man has been screaming his head off if he is not being held securely in my arms or is not feeding himself graham crackers.  Or so it seems.

 See?  He can sit with toys, by himself, and be happy.
And again.

He is getting to be a chunk, so holding him can take a toll on my back.  We weigh him most scientifically.  We use the step-on-the-bathroom-scales-with-and-then-without-the-child method.  He's between 19 and 20 pounds, according to my last estimation.  That's about 40 cheeseburgers.  (Actually, I have no idea how many cheeseburgers he weighs.  It depends on if you prefer pickles.)  Forgive me, it's late, and cheeseburgers are starting to sound good. 

Speaking of food and eating, Henry has eight teeth.  I'm waiting for all this screaming of late to produce more teeth.  Always nice to blame fussiness on teething!  

Friday, September 21, 2012

Spray Paint + Chandelier

I did it!

(More accurately, I asked my husband to do it, and he did it.)

My dining room has a new and improved look in the lighting department.  I scooped up my sister-in-law's cast-off brassy-gold chandelier at her yard sale, and bought a can of the highest quality spray paint.  Jason is much more better and fantastic-er at spray painting than I am, because he is picky about over-spray and tiny details such as I cannot find the time or inclination to notice.  He kindly agreed to paint it for me, after the project had sat in the garage for a long enough creative incubation time.  Nope, that's not procrastination!  It's allowing sufficient time for creativity to hatch.

I cleaned out the hardware store's rack of at least one style of chandelier bulbs, so not all ten of them match.  Maybe a little tacky, but when the lights are on, I dare you to notice.

I would post a picture of the whole thing, but I haven't figured out how to get a good shot of it.  Here is where you can insert a helpful comment. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Quinn's second birthday

September 9 would have been our sweet baby Quinn's second birthday.  Her special day fell on a Sunday this year, and we had plans with my in-laws for lunch and with a group of friends for supper.  So we took a family day on Saturday.  And instead of going off somewhere and spending money that wasn't there, we chose to stay home and enjoy each other.  Jason and the kids went fishing at the pond.  I had been planning on making pizza for supper, the kids' favorite, but we realized halfway through the day that they wanted hamburgers.  Because I was in no mood to go grocery shopping, I defrosted some miniature meatloaves and we grilled.

Once again, I had this general dread all throughout the day, and a sick, heavy feeling in my stomach.  Last year, I concentrated all my heavy feelings and blamed them on the butterfly cake, but now I know that's what grief does to you.  It can knock the wind right out of you.  It can make you dizzy.  It can leave you standing in the kitchen, paralyzed by decisions about handwashing the special dishes or piling them into the dishwasher because who the heck cares anymore. 

Sunday afternoon, we stopped by her grave site to lay down some fresh flowers.
How can this be so beautiful?  Her life was only six hours.  Six hours!  Yes, two years later, I can still be horrified by what happened.  I'm learning how to talk about her without crying, how to introduce my complete family to those who need to know without needlessly shocking them.  But I can very stubbornly resist allowing my heart to go back to those raw moments when our family was headed in a particular direction, and then we were not.  I don't like to look at pictures too often.  Her sweet things are tucked away in a box, and I don't want to open it.  Even though God in his mercy is healing my heart, and I have peace about the big picture, the anger and pain are very real when I'm missing my daughter.

My second daughter.  Helen's sister.  My girl. 

The other day, I found myself praying out loud that God would provide Helen another sister.  I have no idea why that prayer came out, because we are sooooo done having kids.  I was mourning for Helen's loss all over again.  I sponsored a Ugandan girl through Compassion International, but she's not a sister. 

It's just that when I see my kids, I see a hole where Quinn is supposed to be.  Which is why I cannot get over these pictures.  I do not understand how this happened.  I'm not sure I want to understand, so if you have some technical answer to how the sun's angle played with my camera lens, I don't want to hear it.  I just want to treasure the mystery and miracle of this rainbow.

Friday, September 14, 2012

How the First Day of School Changed My Life

 Guess who was beside herself excited to go to school this year? 
Dear Helen Avery, proud first grader!  She could hardly stand it this summer, she was jonesing for the whole school experience.  She was doing her best to figure out classroom rules before she got there, ever so determinedly careful to never disobey them and to always have the right answer.  Yes, always the right answer.  She was concerned about NOT doing something wrong, and having perfect work.  And checking and double-checking for confirmation over her perfect work.  Arrgghhh!  It's like me all over again, in miniature form.  On one hand, I kind of like this insight into my true mini-me.  But on the other hand, it helps me see the negative side of my personality.  The bottom line about Helen is that she just wants to be noticed and affirmed. 

And then there is Owen, headed into the second grade, school pro by now.  He didn't seem to be too bothered that he and his sister were going to be in the same classroom.  They attend a small private school, where two grades are grouped together in each classroom, very similar to the school I attended. 
 Owen and Helen have a sweet relationship, but they sure know how to disagree too.  Lately on school mornings, Owen has been repeating, "Remember, Helen!  DON'T talk too much!"  From what I gather, I suspect that Helen hasn't been over-talking in the classroom to the annoyance of everyone, but that Owen is personally bothered, as a brother.  I told him that while they were at school, he was going to have to ignore the fact that she was his sister, and treat her like a friend instead.  It seemed to resonate.  Snort.
 Here is Helen on her first day of school.
Please get me out of here, Mom!
 Doesn't that look make you want to scoop her up and murmur sweet things in her ear? "Sweet-Baby, I'm so sorry I brought you here. It's OK.  There, there.  Let's go home and make pie.  You can stay with Mommy"?  Nah.  Me neither.

Owen Darrell, seasoned student.
Please get out of here, Mom.
 Jack Herman, poor, mistaken little brother who thought he was going to spend all the rest of his days with Daddy at work, now that those older kids are gone.
 On the first day of school, Jack pulled on his favorite work outfit, fully convinced he was going to work with Jason.  While we had been prepping him for life without Owen and Helen, we gave him Owen's hand-me-down lunch box, and told him that some days he might be able to go with Daddy in the tractor.  Poor kid only got the good part of that message. It took a few tears and a few days of bad attitude, but we've achieved a good feel around the house while Owen and Helen are away.

I am still in disbelief over how much more work I can get done without all my kids here during the day.  Jack plays really well by himself, and Henry is generally sweet and content.  And let's not forget how easy the grocery store has now become!  In fact, it's almost a treat to go there.  The little boys are so cute in their steering wheel cart.  I get nice comments now instead of odd looks.  It's funny how tasks have a perceived level of difficulty that flexes with the number of kids you have.  
And by, the way, this is Helen after pick up on the first day of school.  She loved it, and was ready to go back again.  Just like her mama.