Phew! It’s been a ride. A wild one, a joyous one, a stressful one, a “Where the heck are any of our things?!” one. The past month has been marvel and mayhem all rolled into one. Yet finally, three moves and a serious weather shift later, we’ve arrived home to our little hamlet in Alaska. If we were a business, we would have one of those signs out that reads “Pardon our dust (as we reconstruct our lives a bit)”.
All that to say, I’m coming back. It’s been a hiatus but the mayhem end is in sight (at least for getting settled). Boxes are being put away, things are getting tidied, winter systems are up and running (so far). And I have more big changes to report…
I’ve written to you in my head countless times, crafting paragraphs of prose I promptly forgot. So lest I lapse again, here’s where we left off:
When Ollie was born and we were learning together how to nurse, our doula remarked how we always expect babies to just eat straight through until finish, forgetting that we too pause during meals. We put down our utensils. We take a beat. This simple reality that “babies, they’re just like us” hit home in that moment and I’ve thought back to it ever since.
They’re constantly learning, constantly changing. Yet still, when Ollie got his first fever, it felt terrifying, like I’d never see a fever before. Certainly the stakes are higher for babes, certainly it’s something to watch, but overall? Babies, they’re just like us. They get colds and coughs and just when you think the last sniffle has rung out, just when we think we’ve got a handle on it, something new comes up.
And you can’t study your way out of the unknowns (trust me, I’ve tried).
Ollie sailed through his first fever with his warm cheeks pressed to my chest and straight out of that he went into another new: crawling.
Well, more like an army crawl that now has progressed into a true crawl that I’m sure will soon progress into even more mayhem. The new and the firsts just keep coming with our tenacious little man.
Another first followed: solids!
And yet another first arrived about a week later: his first time meeting his Grandma and Grandpa.
There’s something so special about seeing your parent do the things you loved with your kiddo. For us, reading was my favorite pastime and here it was, recreated in the next generation.
After the dust had settled from meeting the grandparents, up it went again in the form of a work opportunity for me and a new path for The Chief. Big decisions loomed and some still do. The dust up started to feel more like a whirlwind. Yet another first came as we got to talk about these new moves over drinks and appetizers on our first date night!
Still, the holidays stood before us as did time off to think and recoup and…sleep train.
We had plans, y’all.
Apparently we forgot that plans in parenthood (and in life) are laughable, at best.
Two teeth made their debut on Christmas Eve and while it’s been mellower than I anticipated, schedules have gone out the window along with our plans.
What’s a gal to do?
Roll with it.
As we welcome this new year, I welcome (albeit, sometimes begrudgingly) letting go. There are so very many uncertainties in our life right now that the only way forward is just that: forward. So cheers to the unplanned, the unstoppable, the unexpected. I hope it treats you well.
Here’s to a beautiful year.
P.S. What is you resolution or your word for 2023? Leave a comment below!
If the pandemic did anything for us, I think it helped to make each one of us humans recognize that everyone else is human also. Radical, I know. We saw people in their homes working with everything from kids to cats to dirty laundry in the background and finally we decided it was OK.
Working from home the past 6 years, I’d always felt that things had to be perfect. I’d tidy up my humanity into a professional front and hope and pray that Leto wouldn’t decide he needed to serenade us or that my background didn’t look too much like a cabin (it is a cabin because I live in a cabin), or that no one would notice when I’d slip and say “I just have to run outside to use the restroom”, failing to cover up the fact that we use an outhouse.
In my current job, which started in April 2020, that veneer became less important. People there seemed more interested and less appalled by my lifestyle as living a simpler life and getting back to basics (hello sourdough super fans!) gained popularity. Plus, everyone loved dogs, thankfully, as that was the summer that Leto fell in love with neighbor dog and howled 24/7 for two months. It felt a little less essential to hide my life and little more appropriate to share it yet still I spent a lot of effort tidying it to look a certain way (even if that way isn’t really my way).
What have we decided that looks like again? And…who decided this?
As I came back on screen for my first day after Parental Leave, despite being on the grid with an indoor toilet and all, I worried that again I would look unprofessional. In 87 degree weather my options were thin strapped clothing or heat stroke so I chose the straps. I also didn’t have my desk setup yet so I sat outside, Bougainvillea blooming behind me. Was that ok?
Yet locale and skimpy clothes were the least of my worries, because now I had a whole human to hide. How was I going to pull that off? I mean, I couldn’t simultaneously don my professional hat and my Mom hat, right?!
The funny thing is, I don’t believe any of this inner speak I was shouting at myself but somehow it crept in anyways. Sure, my attention might be divided if I’m holding my babe during a meeting but it will also be divided if I hear him crying during a meeting and still if I can’t hear him crying at all because I’m working away from him. Why? Because, as one of my coworkers pointed out to me when I asked how she dealt with working as a mom: I’m a mom. Part of me will always be thinking of my babes. That’s ok. That’s human.
Whether he’s in my sights or out, he will always be on my mind but that doesn’t make me less of a professional or less valuable of an employee. Perhaps it’s even a strength. Wild idea, I know! It’s amazing what I’ve seen multi-tasking minds do. I can’t count the number of times my parent friends have held a meaningful conversation all while clothing/feeding/calming/teaching another smaller human. Nor can I express how absolutely fluent these people have become in all things baby in no time flat. The learning curve is steep but up that hill we all climb, slowly, steadily learning along the way. Parents aren’t dummies but I sure was being one. All it took was a three hour kickoff meeting to shake me sense-full.
Three hours is a chonka chonka sized meeting for anyone but for a new mom? Extra chonk. Even if Ollie wasn’t home with The Chief and I, I still would have had to stop to pump at some point. Yet, him being home meant I could stop and simply feed him and then go back and…that was A-OK. There were three quick pauses in the three hours and one was just for me to refill my water. The week followed suit, going surprisingly well most hours of most days.
Truth be told, no matter how well the days go it’s still hard for me to be at work. It’s hard to not be the one who knows Ollie best or has all the tricks up my sleeve but once my ego started to let that go, I could see the beauty in The Chief stepping into the spotlight as I stepped out.
Watching him rock our little love to sleep when my classic moves weren’t working slowly felt less like defeat and more like freedom. Freedom to see myself as as a workin’ mom. Freedom to start taking longer than a bathroom break moment to myself. Freedom to share in the hard. And while the baton handoff has been shaky at times (I’m not crying, you’re crying) I know deep down I needed it.
So, I’m letting myself take the gift of the pandemic and allow myself to be human, a human working mom. May you all have coworkers as wise as mine to help set you straight, if need be. Let’s all just be humans together, shall we?
‘Twas a whirlwind weekend indeed, preceded by a whirlwind week. And that week? Two weeks ago.
I told you, whirlwind.
Last Monday as I sat down to write, I got about three sentences in before the sleepy wave hit. I guess that’s what getting home at 1 am will do to you. Let me explain: The week had gone like this:
The Chief, partner in crime that he is, agreed to me practicing with my band not once, not twice, but three times in a row for our upcoming gig (which he also agreed to. I told you, partner in crime). This schedule promised late nights followed by his ever-early mornings for work. It was a price we were both willing to pay to help me do something that made me feel like…me. Ollie, trooper that he is, rolled right along with it, taking the milk I’d pump throughout the day (and on the way to practice. Never anticipated that one!) from a bottle from his Pops. Everyone was run a little thin but we all got through it together.
Then came the weekend. With our upcoming departure to Hawaii (we haven’t talk about that yet, have we? More to come…) looming overhead, every spare moment has been set to getting ready to leave AND with the work of living in the woods, spare moments can be hard to come by. So, we spent Friday prepping for HI and prepping for the gig. It’s amazing what you need to pack for a single night away with a kiddo and we aren’t exactly the lightest packers to begin with. Into the bag umpteen changes of clothes, diapers, pump and pajamas went and by the next morning we were off!
The gig was at 5 pm, we were set to play around 7 so I tacked on an hour to adjust for well, life. By 9 pm, Ollie perfectly content in a pack on my front, we started to wonder when the curtain would call. By 10 pm, our time had come and so had bedtime (well, bedtime #2. Ollie had been snoozing since 8).
He wouldn’t get to see me go on but he’d be cozy in bed waiting for me with his Dad. We played for almost two hours to an amazing crowd and were joined by some of the finest musicians I’ve ever had the honor to play with.
My cup was overflowing. Riding on the high of the stage, I walked home, solo for the first time since May and enjoyed the moment of solitude in the soggy streets. Ten minutes, a midnight snack and an unrushed nighttime teethbrushing/facewashing routine later and I was in a whole other moment, one of cozy calm with my three favorite boys. I walked into the room to see The Chief asleep, bottle still in his hand, and a sleeping Ollie, feet propped up on his Pops. Leto greeted me as I entered, letting me know that all of our precious cargo was safe.
What a day.
The next morning was a little bit of mayhem followed by a lot a bit of magic. After shuffling to find a dog sitter and rushing back just in the nick of time, we made it onto…
Yep. In addition to putting us up and feeding us, the gig had also hooked us up with a cruise out to the Columbia Glacier. It was amazing and a day of many firsts for Ollie:
First boat ride First whale, bear, otter, seal, and bald eagle sightings First family trip
We returned to port 7 hours later and left to collect our Leto. We arrived to the caretaker playing Leto the Boz Scaggs song “Lido Shuffle” to try to soothe him. Apparently he cried most of the day. We like to stick together, this fam. So, we all piled into the car in search of sustenance before our 5 hour drive home. On a Sunday. At 7 pm.
If the week leading up to the gig had been a push this was the final haul. The food took what felt like forever and by 8 pm we were on our way, just in time for the rain to set in. A few tears (I’m not crying, you’re crying) and 5 hours later, we were finally home. What a week. A whirlwind week of firsts.
Cheers to many more, though with shorter commutes would be ideal.
P.S. Do you have Hawaii connections?! We are headed to the Big Island (on the Kona side) and will be looking for work and community. If you have any leads, please let us know.
P.P.S Did you have any firsts this week? Lets hear about them in the comments below!
Oh boy, you guys…I made a boo-boo. You see, apparently, I forgot where I was. We’ve added on and spruced up and I had myself fooled that this place was foolproof and needed to be (wait for it…) perfect.
Perfection has haunted me most of my life but when I first moved here, our relationship changed a bit. I had to try things I wasn’t sure I’d be good at (hello chopping wood, skiing, snowmachining, etc…) and (GASP!) work at them until I got better. Imagine my horror! Everything was new and as I attempted each newbie I would oftentimes literally or figuratively fall on my ass. It was a bit belittling, a lot overwhelming and…overall? I think it was really good for me.
Yet as the years went by and things that were once foreign became familiar, I fell out of step with perfection and again we became nemeses. Which is why, when I was doing laundry the other day (INSIDE!) in our new addition on a sunny-ish day (I tell you this just to emphasize just how idyllic the situation was) and suddenly everything came to a standstill I was floored.
The washing machine stopped.
The water stopped flowing.
The power stopped well, powering.
What the…?! I wasn’t as mad as I was stunned. How could this be happening in our new house? I mean, in the old house, sure! Things were constantly not working but not now. I mean, we have a bathtub, for goodness sake.
We are miles away from where we started.
In so many ways yes. This bachelor pad has become a home to us, to our dogs, and now to our son. We have so many more amenities than I ever even dared to dream of and…we are still in the middle of the woods where everything is prone to breaking down. Damn…I forgot.
As I stood in the middle of our beautiful addition perfectionism reared it’s ugly head and the sunny day got a bit dark and stormy in my head. Why were things breaking?! Why wasn’t everything just working?! Why…
Oh, wait. I’d like to say that in that moment I had my perfectionism epiphany and realized that it was silly to ask why and instead to see what we could learn from the situation but…that took a couple of days and a couple of long walks. I didn’t look for a lesson, I wanted it to be perfect.
Things aren’t perfect out here. Things break constantly. Systems change (I can’t even remember what our power system started as and in 5 years I probably won’t remember what it is today). What worked last year won’t work this year. I know all of this but I forgot it. I think bringing home a babe, you want everything to be perfect for them so much so that it’s easy to forget what’s real. Yet I can either teach him to be frustrated, to look down on the breakdown or…we can learn.
Today, the system still isn’t back to what it once was. We’ve created a new system that circumvents the problem area (a busted pump) and I learned all about GFCI outlets. Instead of focusing on the problem, we found a workaround that is perfectly fine for now, even if it’s not perfect. As it turns out, nothing is.
So, I tip my hat to you perfection, my friendly foe and greet you again. Perhaps I’ll soon learn that trying to attain you is futile. Perhaps I’ll forget again. You are, indeed, my favorite mistake.
Until then, I’ll try to hold the lesson of the washing machine: learn from your mistakes instead of belittling yourself for them. Enjoy the wonder of finding a new solution. And let perfection go.
Seven years in the woods. Seven years in love. Seven years I just realized we forgot to celebrate.
Sure, when you get married there’s the debate of “should we really celebrate our dating anniversary still?” to which I have always responded, “Um…heeeeccck yes!”. I love a good celebration and…why not? There’s enough craziness in this world, we should make sure to stop and appreciate the good.
In addition to our 7 years together, this year also holds with it the gift of Saturn. Saturn returns. Every 7 or so years, life just seems to get realllllly real. People get married, divorced, babies are born, houses are bought, moves are made. Big things. Life things.
This round of Return has obviously brought with it a huge, beautiful change and it has me feeling extra nostalgic.
Since coming home with our little, it’s as if I’m simultaneously seeing this place with old and new eyes. The magic of this place feels renewed. As I look around our consistently improving house, I see where this brand new life began. I look to the corner that used to house a mess of a desk in the middle of the kitchen that now holds a real refrigerator (that’s even stocked with vegetables!).
I look at our bedroom, now downstairs so we can all be together as a family. I look out to our porch and almost miss for a moment the Ramp of Doom.
Almost. I think back to my first night at this bachelor pad and marvel at how far we’ve come and how unlikely it was that we ever came together in the first place.
As I enjoy this summer from more of the sidelines than ever before, I see how so many things have come full circle and this view brings with it a lot of gratitude and a little bit of disbelief. Is this real life? Did the perma-bachelor and the determined to be single traveler really make it work? Not without trials and troubles but…my answer is resoundingly “yes”. Sure, this (non-existent) anniversary looks a lot different from years past but it’s beautiful in its own right. Life has been busier than ever and so I take a moment to pause and give thanks.
From one Saturn Returns to the next and to many, many more together. I choose you. Happy very belated anniversary.
With love, always,
P.S. 7 year anniversaries also mean this blog has existed that long. Whether you’ve just joined or have been there since the start, thank you. I am so honored to have you come along on this journey.
As I type this, I have one hand holding our babe and one hunting and pecking her way through the QWERTY-verse. Coming from a Mavis Beacon graduate (where my elder Millennials at?!) this is a sorry excuse for the flying fingers I’d unleash upon the keyboard just 30 days ago. Still, it’s a drastic improvement from my previous postpartum post. In this last month, I’ve come to learn about this little human I’ve spent the better part of a year growing as well as a few other lessons like…
I’ve spent the entire day trying to open my computer to write to you. Our child has had other plans.
The two words I’ve hoped to utter for so very long. He has finally arrived. All 7 pounds, 11.5 ounces of him came into this world 11 days ago tonight. His birth was so fast we almost greeted him at home but luckily made it to the center just in time. Up he came out of the tub and into our arms, wailing immediately until we locked eyes. Curious and kind right from the start. We are head over heels for our little Oliver, Ollie for short. I can’t wait to share more with you.
Last night I awoke from a dream with a startle. Tomorrow was Monday. Monday was the beginning of the workweek. Did I have any meetings I had forgotten to prep for? Did I have any first thing To-Dos I needed to prioritize?
I didn’t and I don’t because, for the first time since I started working, I haven’t been to work in weeks. Any meetings I used to attend will be held without me and any To-Dos will get done in the fall when I return. So why the worry?
Perhaps because today is our babe’s “due date”. The start of the biggest project we’ve ever endeavored upon and certainly the wildest adventure and the countdown clock has now rung out. “Today is the day”, it announces.
Yet so far, today isn’t the day. In the last two weeks, however, there have been a few days that certainly felt as if they might be. The first week The Chief was gone, I was awoken multiple nights by strong contractions and back pain. “Oh, please not yet. Unless you need to” I thought to myself as I breathed through the discomfort and started to calculate if and when to call The Chief, and then…nothing.
A few days and a few false starts later, The Chief was back home with us, and we visited our midwives. Things were looking good. It could be any minute now…
Near the end of the week, things started to really get moving, enough to start looking at a clock and timing the party my uterus was throwing. It was also our moving day. As I looked around at the bags packed and to be packed, the many things to be moved I whispered “Not today, unless you need to” to our little bean. Another contraction. I busied myself with the moving shuffle and by the end of the day, things had slowed down again.
Yesterday, we settled in, nestling into our newest and thankfully last nest until we return home.
Some sweet friends delivered us dinner (you are the best!) and we paused to enjoy the wonderfully Alaskan meal of salmon and salad goodness.
It was amazing and so nourishing after days of half-hearted meals made out of necessity rather than excitement. My belly has been up and down and all around and I’ve pretty much subsisted on a fussy toddler diet of beans and cheese and rice which hasn’t exactly been inspiring for someone who loves food as much as I do. We decided to call it quits on settling in for the night and settled on a movie and…the contractions started again.
Yet here we are this morning, babe still in belly and…I’m OK with that. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten from different weekly subscriptions with the general sentiment of “Is this over yet???”. Sure, I’ll agree that the last few weeks are uncomfortable (hello flattened feet! Hello nausea and cramping and sleepy but sometimes sleepless nights) but as of now, I’m still happy to be the host (and to fully unpack) and to take our last waddles around the lake as a family of three, anticipating becoming a family of four.
Only time will tell just what day and what time our little one will arrive. Until then, I’ll be here, watching for signs, checking in on times, and riding the wave.
Life is a mountain of milestones, isn’t it? As kiddos, we’re always grasping for that next accomplishment. When riding a trike was once a herculean task, now we set our sight on two wheels. When sleeping at home was the norm, we try for a sleepover. When going to the movies used to be a family affair, suddenly we’re meeting our friends and embarrassed of our parents as they drop us off. These changes, these stages and jumps in time, happen so fast and once we move forward, we rarely move back into the past from whence we came. We are changed, we are changing and we are always looking to the next challenge.
Looking back on the last two weeks, so much has changed…
The Chief celebrated another waltz around the sun (and I learned that one should never bake having just oiled one’s pregnant belly. Cocoa powder explosions are simply an inevitability and cocoa paste does oil and powder make).
“We” (AKA I orchestrated and The Chief did all the moving) moved our bed downstairs, which meant ratchet strapping it burrito style and shoving it through the hatch in the floor (during a work call where I could not stop myself from laughing and so felt it was only fair to turn my video around to show the bed debacle).
I had my last day at work (cue the Hallelujah chorus!) preceded by a surprise virtual baby shower (thank you!).
At which point baby prep began…
And so did packing up to leave for X amount of months. “How long will you be in Anchorage?” I keep getting and continually ask myself to which I answer “No idea”. If I’ve learned anything during this being preggo process it’s that I have no idea what’s coming next and planning is only a possibility so long as you leave room for a million variations. So, I packed for who knows how long which was totally not stressful. When my Mom asked me how it was going, I sent her this:
The Chief too was feeling the pressure, enough to go gray in an instant:
I shifted from not wanting to leave home at all to feeling very ready to leave the punchy snow (and distant medical care) behind. I guess that will happen when you’re 9 months pregnant and falling up to your knees in snow on the way to the outhouse each morning.
We moved to Anchorage, which meant caravaning with The Chief for the 8-hour drive and getting in at 9 pm to a new and unfamiliar home. Leto immediately got familiar.
We arrived in Anchorage to a whirlwind of appointments and appointing a new home with everything we’d need for the next however long. We met with our midwives and our doulas, we handled baby business our too busy schedules hadn’t allowed for, we found a pediatrician and FINALLY installed the car seat and packed (mostly) our Go Bags for Go Time.
The baby prep continued…
And so did the celebrations…
And I spent my first Mother’s Day ever getting pampered by a dear friend while feeling the kicks of our baby. I also spent it realizing that my Mom and I would forever share this day in an entirely new way from here on out.
Most importantly, I finally bought sweatpants (I kid, I kid…sort of).
Two weeks ago, we were celebrating the birth of my love with friends who live only footsteps away. We nestled in at home (with a working shower!) after our last Town Trip and in full-on Go Mode to get everything done in one week’s time. Two weeks later, I find myself alone in a house I’m still learning, in a neighborhood where my closest friend is miles instead of a few steps away. Alone? The Chief had to start work this week in order to more easily take leave for the birth and so the week starts with our separating, again.
Two weeks ago, the reality of our kiddo’s impending arrival felt distant. Two weeks later, it feels MUCH more real as the tasks at hand begin to dwindle and the biggest task yet of giving birth lies ahead of us. I can’t imagine being back to two weeks ago, to feeling less focused on birth and more focused on our house and two weeks from now…I can’t even imagine. Perhaps we will be celebrating another birthday. Who knows?
What we do know? In the next two weeks we will move again (because we are geniuses like that), thankfully within Anchorage this time. The Chief will return and we will reunite once more, until we have to separate once more. And every day we will be closer to meeting this little being who has been simultaneously so known to us and such a mystery. Other than that, I can only guess what the next two weeks will bring. Perhaps a babe, perhaps more waiting (which is fine by me, especially until The Chief arrives). The future holds its cards close to its chest and so we simply take the next step, every day…
Wishing you and yours lots of luck in your next steps, whatever they may be.
P.S. For realsies though…who knows what the next two weeks will offer but…as two weeks from now I’ll be 100, I mean, 40 weeks pregnant, there’s a chance you won’t hear from me right away. Then again, perhaps you will. Either way, I’ll update the blog as soon as possible…