Monday, August 17, 2015

One year

Today is Lettie's birthday. TODAY IS LETTIE'S BIRTHDAY. As in, she's one. And in a year that seemed filled with nothing but struggles to stay afloat, she has been the air that reminds us that we are alive. For real.

For the past 12 months I've been telling everyone who will listen how good of a baby Lettie is. At first I thought she was tricking me and would say as much. Like, she is SO good that there's no way she could keep it up. She simply set the bar too high. But a year into this and she really is that nice. All the time. She's pretty much the nicest human on the planet.

We--okay, I--threw a big party for Norah's first birthday. And while it was fun at the time, I look back now and think, Really? What possessed me to do that?  For Lettie's birthday, Norah and I made cupcakes. We got a 1 candle at Smith's and sang happy birthday to her at my parent's house after Colman's talk in church yesterday. Lettie squished up the cupcake and that was it.

Being as nice as she is, Lettie made some adorable faces and destroyed her cupcake just enough for me to get a few pictures proving that we celebrated. I know for a fact that she's not even going to be resentful about not having a real party. She's just nice like that.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Insert title here

Last year was a rough one. Being pregnant is amazingly difficult for me. I know, I'm lucky. I understand that. I have two beautiful, healthy daughters. For me, the growing them part is extremely challenging. But that's not what I want to talk about.

Three weeks after Lettie was born, we were getting ready to spend a week at Bear Lake with the Stewarts. Nic, of course, was busy getting everything ready, including the boats. While he was working on one at the shop, he did something that hurt his back. Justin gave him a pain pill, and he finished what he was doing and came home. That night we ended up at the emergency room because the pain was so severe. And that was just the beginning.

The past six months have been a blur of doctor's appointments, MRIs, steroid injections, chiropractic work, physical therapy, and prescriptions. And you know what? He's still not much better off than he was in September. It is so incredibly frustrating and heartbreaking, and I think that anyone else would have folded under the pain and the mental exhaustion that comes with it. But have you met Nic? He can keep going long after others would have given up.

As of today, we're waiting for an appointment with a surgeon. Nic had another MRI last week, and that's the next step. Six months ago, we wouldn't even consider surgery--just because it's so invasive and there's no telling how the recovery and aftermath will be. But if you asked Nic today, he'd have surgery immediately; anything to help lessen the pain. I'm telling you, the past six months have been a nightmare for him.

In the midst of all of this, there's little Lettie Kay Stewart. You guys, she has been a constant source of light and love and joy. She is human sunshine. Having her with us has changed everything. I know that's what new babies tend to do, I get it. But we needed our Lettie at this exact moment, and we didn't even know it. She fills the room with hope and makes you forget that anything could ever be sad. No matter how much Nic is hurting, her smiles can make him forget. And guys, she smiles with her WHOLE body. She smiles when you're not looking. She smiles when she hears our voices. She smiles when she wakes up. She is the force that has kept us going. 

One of the many problems of dealing with chronic pain is that there is so much waiting. We know Nic is going to have surgery, but the surgeon only does consultations on Mondays, and the next available consult isn't until March. Yes, we're on a cancellation list, but so are a ton of others who are desperate to be seen. And I'm sure that after the consultation, there will be more waiting until the surgery.

In the meantime, we're doing our best. Lettie, of course, is awesome. In addition to her regular preschool, Norah has started going to Daybreak Academy, which is where she'll go to full-time kindergarten in the fall. They teach piano and karate and Chinese and have a garden and chickens and rabbits--so perfect for my free-spirited Norah. I've started training for a half marathon and actually enjoy running for the first time in the history of ever. Feel free to smack me in the face. Besides his health problems, Nic is doing well. His work is busier and better than it has ever been. He always makes sure that his girls are taken care of and even manages to fit in some fly fishing. We really are fortunate to have so much good along with the bad.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Granny Gen

I've always felt like Granny Gen was a kindred spirit. I'm like my dad and my dad is like her and she is beautiful and complicated.

She passed away January 10th. I had plans that night to go to a movie with friends. My instinct was to cancel; Nic said I should go. As I got in the car, the radio turned on and was tuned to NPR. A Prairie Home Companion was playing. It was a simple moment where I realized that, had she been alive, she would probably be listening to the very same thing. I drove in the wet dark and listened to Garrison Keillor and a little bluegrass and felt immensely grateful for the influence of this woman in my life.

Her funeral left me again grateful. As my aunts spoke of her love of books and words, I could feel how the things that she loved had reached clear to me and steered my life in a certain direction. I realized, too, that I can blame her for my weird obsession with cats.  

Some of my favorite memories of my Granny are from the summer trips my cousin Meri and I used to take to St. George. We would drink Diet Pepsi for breakfast, swim, lay out, sit in the hot pot with Grandpa, play Garbage Rummy, and get Granny Gen to rent us any movie we wanted. The Shining? Sure. On our way south for one of these trips, my grandma had my grandpa pull over. She got out of the car, went into a house, and came out with a tiny Siamese kitten. She handed the kitten to me and Meri in the back seat, and we spent the five-hour drive with that little kitty on our laps. Best road trip ever.

I sometimes feel like life can be filled with a lot of gray, highlighted with the occasional splash of color. And while I think my Granny Gen often lived in that gray place, the bits of color she added to the world were vivid and bold and very much her own. She colored my life in a way that I am still sorting out, and I'm going to miss her very much.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Hello Kitty

Two Saturdays ago I locked myself in my room as a last-ditch effort to escape my out-of-control 4 year old. Not one to be outdone, she proceeded to try to kick down the door--all while still screaming like a maniac, of course. That's when Nic, who will be quick to try and tell you that we were both out of control, finally intervened.*

But let's rewind.

We have a growth chart by our kitchen. Norah is constantly wanting to measure herself. And Lettie. And Mom. And Dad. Which is fine; that's what it's for. On Saturday she wanted to measure her purple Hello Kitty from a birthday trip to Build-a-Bear two years ago.

The problem started after I wrote "Hello Kitty" next to the nearly 2-foot-tall mark:

"No, Mom. That's not how you spell 'Hello Kitty!'"

"Um, yes it is. See? H-E-L-L-O..."

"NO! That's not how you spell Hello Kitty! You spelled it wrong!!"

"Norah, I didn't spell it wrong."

"YOU SPELLED IT WRONG!!! *collapses on the floor* You're supposed to spell it C-N-O..." *yells other random letters she's learned in preschool*

"Okay, then you come write it how you want."

"No! I want YOU to write it!"

"I already did!!!"



After years of having to learn how to deal with me, Nic thinks it's hysterical when I have to try to rationalize with an irrational person. You guys, Norah can be so irrational these days! Each time it happens I swear I'm going to handle it better. And Nic was home for this one, so I was determined to show him that I could get things under control. In hindsight, yelling back at her about how I get paid money to know how to spell things was probably not the best choice. But you know what? I was done talking about it.

She won't stay in her room when she's throwing a fit. There's no audience. Which is why I ended up locked in my room with her banging down the door. At least I could ignore her in there. That's when Nic clearly had enough of the two of us trying to work it out. He has a way of helping Norah calm down when I can't. I'm pretty sure it's called patience, which I clearly lack.

And Norah has little patience for me. Apparently, I'm always doing it wrong, as you can see from this recent Facebook post: 

There's not really a moral to this story, other than my daughter and I need to learn how to communicate differences without freaking out at each other. Wish us luck.

But for the record, I totally spelled it right.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

But really

I know I was overly cheery in my last post. Motherhood can do that to me. But don't worry, you don't have to punch me in the face. One minute being home with kids will be the best thing in the history of ever and then someone *cough, Lettie, cough* will get her two month shots and I'll find myself trying to soothe a screaming infant while having a full-blown argument with a 4 year old about why I can't go get her chocolate chips "RIGHT NOW!" You should ask Nic how fun it was to get that phone call.

I'm assuming it's about the same for anyone who's ever had a child.

Norah took this picture of me the other day and I'm kind of in love with it: unshowered; those stupid ugly basketball shorts that are so comfy; bags under my eyes; and dirty diaper, TV remote, and toys in the background. So much of the past 10 weeks has looked exactly like this, and I'd really like to remember that.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lettie Kay Stewart

She's here! Okay, she's been here for going on 8 weeks. And know what? She is SO nice. I keep thinking she's tricking me. It's just that she's nice, like, all the time. How is that possible? She does the normal newborn things. Eat, sleep, poop, look around. But the way she does them. She's all, "Hey, I could probably eat now." Then, "Thanks for the bottle. I think I'll just close my eyes and sleep through any ridiculously loud noises my big sister might make. Oh, and when you get the chance, could you please change my bum? Thanks." And then she'll wake up all smiley because she's just so damn nice.

I was induced on August 17th. There was a lot more waiting than I thought there would be with an induction. I guess I assumed that they would give me Pitocin and, bam, there would be a baby. Did not expect to watch The Great Gatsby. But when things started happening, they happened quickly. My doctor got there and with two pushes, our baby was born. They gave her to me immediately but then immediately took her back because apparently our babies don't know how to breathe when they're born. This happened with Norah too. So there was a quiet time in the delivery room while everyone made sure the baby was breathing properly. 

I keep saying "baby" because at this point, she still had no name. It was clear that she wasn't an Olive or Hazel like I had thought. That first night I kept going back to Violet because the only name that seemed to fit her was Lettie. (Lettie being short for Violet, one of the other names I suggested to Nic, who was in charge of choosing her name.) But I never said that out loud. About midday the next day, Nic was rocking her in our hospital room when he looked up at me and said, "What about just Lettie?" And I knew that was it. Of course that was it. That has always been it, we just didn't know it until then. I asked him about a middle name and he said what about Kay, after his mom, Debra Kay. Yep. There she was: our little Lettie Kay.

Little Lettie Kay indeed. As soon as Lettie was born the nurse commented on how small she was, but with the breathing issues it took a while to get her on the scale. I still kind of can't believe that she was only 5 pounds, 6 ounces. So, so small. I measured small my entire pregnancy, but in my mind there was still no way I could have that small of a baby. I didn't even buy newborn diapers or clothes because I thought the 0-3 size would be small enough. Being the parent of a 4 year old, you'd think I'd be used to being wrong.

And Norah. Norah could not be more excited about her little sister. My parents watched her while we were in the hospital, and Norah could not stop talking about "her baby" who was "so darling cute." She is still over the moon in love with Lettie. That's going to last forever, right?

Now, I don't know if it's Lettie's niceness that is making me enjoy my maternity leave much more this time around or if it's having Norah here to hang out with us or it's just that I have so much less anxiety with No. 2, but the past few weeks have been really great. (Well, besides Nic having to deal with three herniated discs in his back, but that's a whole post of its own.) Oh, and the help. I've had a lot of help, mostly in the form of grandparents. They have been my saving grace, picking up Norah from preschool, taking Norah overnight, watching the girls so we can go to doctor's appointments, and on and on. I know I'm super spoiled that way--and I'm ridiculously spoiled with these two amazing daughters.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The big sister

An only child for a few more days, Norah has been busy getting ready to be a big sister. (As a side note, she told me yesterday that she's "exhausted of this baby." Oh really? You're exhausted? I'm going to say that to you when you're nine months pregnant, jerk.) And this baby is her baby--that's what she says. "I'm having a baby," "My baby..."

Partly because I felt so guilty for spending December/January on the couch, I signed Norah up for a few too many activities this spring. Swim lessons did not go well. She wanted nothing to do with whatever the teacher was saying. The last time we went, she ended up crying on my lap at the edge of the pool. Sigh. We'll try again another time...

We had a major break through when we got her one of the Puddle Jumpers water-wing things though. Swimming is now one of her favorite things and she's kind of fearless, even swimming in the middle of Flaming Gorge with no help. 

Dance class went way better. It's perfect because it's for an hour once a week. Oh, and she got to dress up in this getup for her pictures and recital.

Getting her dance pictures taking was one of my favorite things in the history of ever. We had just got back from her Spartan race in Las Vegas, so I think she was in tough-girl picture mode. The photographer kept telling her to show him her princess smile, and she kept doing muscles and gritting her teeth. She had the whole room laughing. Here's a couple that were deemed acceptable as "princess-like" I guess.

Her class photo was a similar story. She was just too darn excited to listen to anything she was supposed to do.

And then there was her recital. She did not lack enthusiasm, but never did really learn her dance. Her performance consisted of her standing on the stage, half paying attention, half messing with her dress. But of course afterward, she danced in the stands the entire time.

Best of all, she got a trophy. Can you tell that she was just a little bit excited?

Soccer went well too. Okay, it went well in the same way that dance went well. Norah had a ton of fun but never quite got the hang of it. She was the kid picking dandelions midfield while the rest of the kids chased the ball.

She did score two goals this season. Both in the wrong goal.

And she got another trophy.

Now she's started preschool and has been riding that high for the last few weeks. She chose to bring her Rainbow Dash to show and tell yesterday and was SO excited because all the kids thought it was "so cool." 

I love her enthusiasm about life. Everything is so fun! and so amazing! and yay! She's equally exited about this baby--which I'm hoping continues to be the case.