Author Archives: gypsyfilia

5 Things

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5 things I love about right now!

  1. The muggy hot weather at dawn. I’m cold by nature. I love being able to wonder through the house and outside without wrapping myself in layers. There is no better feeling than no sweater (which I usually sport until mid-summer around the time most people are frying here in Charleston).
  2. The Farmer’s market. I love buying food still sporting some of the earth it came from! I love the music and noises! I love people coming together to shop and smile and enjoy the age old practice of bartering.
  3. I love the rain. I love the smell of rain falling on hot pavement and dry earth! It’s my favorite smell in the whole wide world! I recently discovered there is a name for it! It is called petrichor constructed from Greek, petra, meaning “stone”, + ichor, the fluid that flows in the veins of the gods in Greek mythology . Surely it is from the gods!image
  4. Song birds. I’m not a morning person but it is very difficult to be in a bad mood when you are awakened in the morning by the beautiful songs of birds!image
  5. Vitamin D. Most people are just way more pleasant in the summer time. I chalk it up to more vitamin D. Soak it up!

 

 

 

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The Butterfly Effect

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tumblr_m8kbq1SKKn1qe8tgbo1_500If anyone says life is easy they are lying. However, if anyone tells you there isn’t joy to be found they are missing a great deal in their journey. It’s been a year since I’ve finished anything I’ve started writing. It isn’t that I haven’t had time to write. I just haven’t had very uplifting thoughts to share and in all honesty, if nothing good is coming out of my mouth I am always going to try to follow the age-old adage of keeping my lips sealed. I have been walking a pretty twisty path and while marriage and children don’t represent a new concept; it seems there are no tried and true guidelines to apply in broad strokes. I can say that in the past five years I have felt extreme and overwhelming emotions that were suffocating, liberating, and humbling. The result is a 35-year-old who is, to quote Garth Brooks, “much too young to feel this damn old”. If that doesn’t sum it up J.R.R. Tolkien does,

“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”

So how in the world is any of this positive or uplifting?! Well one bizarre thing I’ve learned is emotions are like enzymes in the great big stomach of life. They don’t control life. They simply help us break life into fragments we can digest. They are consumables. They have a shelf-life and are replaced by new emotions as they get digested. Over the years I’ve tried to hold tight to different emotions and freeze everything just the way it is or change everything based on those feelings instead of letting them flow through me and do their job. When I look at emotions as temporary at best I’m reminded of the life of a butterfly and how fleeting each phase of metamorphosis is. Every emotion including joy comes to us like the unconventional beauty of a butterfly. The ever illusive joy in life doesn’t always spring from well-known places nor does it tend to permanently reside in one place. Our ability to live and consume each moment for what it is, a moment, and move on to the next moment untethered by the last gives us the clarity needed to recognize the beauty of that ever illusive butterfly weaving its way through every experience throughout our lives.

To put it simply, the quickest way to unhappiness is to bind ourselves to feelings and expectations. Set beautiful goals but when they aren’t what you reach, take a deep breath and look for the beauty in where you’re at. If you can’t see it; take a deep breath anyway. You’re just around the corner from it.

 

You’re 16 Months Old

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Dear Ian,

It’s been a couple months since I’ve written you! It’s not because I have nothing to say. It’s mostly because every day I tell you what I want to say to you! But someone reminded me that I might forget the little things when you are older. I forget everything as it is so I’m going to try to keep my favorite little memories locked up tight for years to come. Someday I want to tell you about all the stuff that made you, you!

So much has changed from the time you turned 1 to now! It’s amazing how you went from a chubby little baby trying to stand on your own, to an adept little baby (I refuse to call you toddler yet!) zooming past us like a spry little old man. Your all over chubbiness has melted away overnight and left you with a toned little baby body. It reminds me of the baby dolls I used to play with when I was little. Your arms curve inward and curve out and your thighs and calves are rounded with newly formed muscles. The only reminder of the rolls you once had is the globular belly you keep full at all times. You really do amaze us with your appetite! I’m always gloatingly pleased when grownups are shocked and awed with the foods you eat.  I’m so happy you aren’t keeping Cheerios in business!

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Ok I can’t resist. Most surprising food you like:

  1. Olives
  2. Shrimp and Salmon
  3. Green beans
  4. Mushrooms
  5. Tahini (Unfortunately sesame seed bit the dust thanks to allergies)
  6. Spicy food
  7. Lemons
  8. Black beans
  9. Earth’s best food purees: Carrots n Broccoli (Kind of taste like vegetable stew)/ Carrot Split Pea n Kamut (This one actually makes me gag a little)

Most surprising food you dislike:

  1. Ice cream
  2. Sugar cookies
  3. Avocados
  4. Pineapple

At 16 months you have accomplished quite a bit! You can climb stairs by yourself and you like to do it several times a day! You are very active which is awesome! You also like to climb mom and dad. Last weekend we had lunch with a friend and you bounced on my shoulder looking over the booth wall while simultaneously eating half my salmon. You are learning how sequences in activities go together so you are a very good helper around the house. You feed Chance, (“Ch” or “D” in your words)your dog, his supper, help load the washing and dishwashing machine, sweep and give us a heart attack each time you try to help clean the pool. You love the outdoors and dirt. You would stay outside all day if we let you.

Things I never want to forget about you right now!

  1. You are so outgoing and friendly! You wave to most people and animals and say hi! You melt me with your tender heart.
  2. You are obsessed with going in the shower and making noises to hear echoes. You have to touch the shower head several times too just in case I might turn the water on for you.
  3. You show Chance affection by patting his back and laying you head against it. Then you bow your head to Chance so he will lick it.
  4. When you want someone to come to you, you hover your hand above where you are standing and make an “Ah” sound with a questioning inflection on the end of it. If we don’t come immediately you squat lower and lower to the ground and add more of a questioning lilt to your voice to show more emphasis. It’s absolutely irresistible and always ends with me squeezing you while smothering your wiggly self with kisses.
  5. You love water. I don’t even know how to explain how much you love water. It intrigues you. The sound, the feel, the way it looks. Everything about it pulls you in and captivates you.
  6. So your kind of going through a screaming phase. I’m much better with screaming than crying but your dad has a hard time when you are screaming at him. Sometimes you scream to talk or play with us. Sometimes you scream at night just to hear yourself. Oh but the times when you don’t get your way… those are the screams to remember. We can actually see you inhale to fill your lungs with air while you form a perfect oh shape with your mouth. I imagine the sound you make is similar to that of the Screaming Banshee of Ireland. It leave the ears ringing in protest.
  7. You have happy feet. You stomp them and laugh and I think you’re going to be a great dancer one day!
  8. You learned to emphatically shake your head no while saying no. It’s helpful sometimes and cute all the time.
  9. Ok so I’m super crazy proud of this one. So I hum and sing all the time. Your dad does too actually. Just a few weeks ago you pressed your little lips tight together and with a thoughtful face turned away from me you started humming your own tune. I could not contain myself! When I gushed that it was beautiful you looked so pleased! Now you hum in the car or when you are in a quiet introspective mood. We make sure to tell you how pretty it is. I hope you always hum your own tune in life.

These are busy days where weekends melt into weekdays and weekdays melt into months. The To Do list gets longer and longer and the laundry piles up. While I don’t always know where the time goes I do know that my silver lining likes to put his pudgy feet on my face and giggles when I munch his thighs. I know there is nothing brighter than the big toothy grin you readily give to us and the world you embrace. I know that you are a crazy baby monster who jumps on our back and squeals and laughs and loves. You’re a blessing and I only hope to bring as much joy to your life as you bring to ours.

Until next time little munchkin-butt.

Love you always,

Mama & DAAaaaaa

Hunk Food – Brown Bag Popcorn

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I am not a health food addict. Though if you ask anyone who has spent some time eating with me they may say I am careful about what I eat. I don’t do sweets unless I’m going to make someone feel bad for not eating their homemade apple pie. I very rarely eat pasta or any other starch unless it’s sprouted grain or some such nonsense and the last bottle of soda I purchased to “quench my thirst” was probably 8 years ago. The fact of the matter is I didn’t grow up consuming that stuff and no one in my family eats a lot of so-called junk. I’m not consciously trying to be extremely healthy. I’m just much more interested in food that make me feel good. What this normally ends up meaning is while I like my junk food (Ramen, potato chips, Chinese take-out …pizza) I usually manage to throw something in with it to make it somewhat nutritional so it doesn’t make me completely ill.

The way I see it is there is no point eating it if it isn’t going to somehow fuel my body and keep me going! I don’t have much time to eat right so I admit that I occasionally cut corners. I started thinking about how my unhealthy eating often looks kind of healthy to a lot people and decided to start sharing my unhealthy healthy eating with you my friends! You can Google healthy recipes but let’s be honest sometimes all you want is some good old crap to soften the rough edges around a bad day.  So I’m going to post some of my favorite “healthy” junk food. I shall call it Hunk food (no it does not come with Antonio Sabato)

Brown Bag Popcorn:

1. Get an old fashioned brown paper lunch bag

2. Throw some plain popcorn in the bottom of the bag

3. Fold the bag two times

4. Stick the bag in your microwave

5. Select the popcorn cooking option you normally cook your Orville Redenbacher (a.k.a. The Steve Buscemi of popcorn) with.

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6. Remove from microwave and eat! If you’re feeling saucy, spray some butter or sprinkle some flavored salt!

(Best when paired with a really great movie, sweat pants, and a really comfy couch)

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All I Want For Christmas

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The first Christmas I remember was while our family was still living near Chicago. I think I was 4 or 5. I was so excited I kept running downstairs only to be swatted back upstairs by mom and dad with the reminder that Santa would not come until I was in my bed. I remember looking down the hall as mom and dad closed their bedroom door just before I made a mad dash up the stairs to where my sister’s slept. I looked out the window just in time to see my very first shooting star! I don’t remember what I wished for or what gifts I got for Christmas that year but I remember the moment I saw that shooting star I thought….Christmas just landed?! I remember the butterflies in my stomach and how magical my mom and dad made the night before Christmas. Of course I was excited about opening  my gifts but it was more than that and it still is!

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It was the crackle of the fire in our big wood burning stove. It was the conspiratorial whispering and sneaking around my parents did in the weeks leading up to the big day. It was the sweet hum of my mother’s alto voice singing Silent Night while baking us cookies and Dad reading the Christmas Story from the Bible on Christmas morning. It was Christmas hayrides at the church and caroling to the shut-ins at the retirement homes. It was carefully hiking across the interstate to go sledding and squealing with excitement as my brother shoved me down a steep hill covered in soft thick snow! It was skating on our frozen pool and dripping honey all over bowls of snow. It was making Christmas presents and cards for each other and mom and dad.

Now we live in South Carolina and there isn’t much use for a wood burning stove or sleds. We have our own families and while we are occasionally sidetracked by what my dad would refer to as an overactive “Wanter”, I still remember that Christmas in Chicago when all the best gifts were free and the warmth of our love for each other put the wood burning stove to shame. A lot has changed in the thirty years since that Christmas but Christmas in my heart will always be that of a little girl watching a shooting star skid across a big blue night sky on a magical Christmas Eve. If I’m near I’ll be with my people. If I am far, I’ll be on the phone with mom and dad while my family is shouting MERRY CHRISTMAS, WE LOVE YOU, WE MISS YOU, and probably some wisecracks.

My “Wanter” came up with a lot of  fun gift ideas this year, but if I don’t get anything I’m pretty sure I’ll still have everything I could ever wish for.

Friends! Thank you for a great year! During this season I wish you the gift of  belonging wrapped in the warmth of love.

Merry Christmas!
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Year One

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leave-it-to-beaver-familyI thought I had this mom thing covered. When I was pregnant everyone told me the first year was going to be hard. After watching my older siblings raise their brood for many years while I was in college I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and somewhere in the back of my mind I carried a small amount of pride thinking that I had a decent idea of how hard it was going to be.

I was wrong. My pride was misplaced.

I am waving my white flag shouting you win! You win parents who never claim to have everything together. You win single mom’s who have somehow managed to raise children who are not juvenile delinquents. You win sleep deprived zombie mother dragging her protesting toddler through the Harris Teeter freezer section. You win mothers who wear your yoga pants like a badge of honor.

I surrender.

I have seen the light. There are things I have done. Choices I have made that are irrevocable. There’s no turning back now.

I have eaten leftover yogurt off of Ian’s face. Let me repeat that. I have eaten food off of someone else’s face???? When faced with the choice of (a)sleeping in vomit covered clothing tonight and washing the sheets tomorrow or (b)postponing an exhausted crawl into bed so I could put clean clothing on I’ve done the unspeakable. I’ve forgotten what day it was. I’ve forgotten what thought I was thinking. I’ve forgotten what it feels like to have all of my i’s dotted and my t’s crossed. I’ve forgotten what exactly that phrase even means. Who has time for idioms anyway???

Last week I broke down to a very wise friend of mine. She is a single mom and I have a massive amount of respect for her. I asked her how she does it. How do you give 100% all the time? She shared her secret with me and it turns out there is no secret. You accept your new life, embrace the new way of doing things and try not to stumble on the things that may not have turned out exactly how you had them planned. You do the best you can with what you’ve got and hand the rest over to God.

A year ago if someone had asked me what I was expecting I would have said, “Oh, I know it’s going to be hard.” “Of course it’s going to be worth it!“. I’m both delighted and slightly frazzled by how true those statements are.

 

It’s going to be hard:

  1. You’re probably going to lose some friends in the madness. Not everyone is interested in jumping on your roller coaster and it can feel pretty lonely. But you’re probably going to gain some friends in the frenzy because there are a lot of people who don’t mind the change even if they don’t have kids.

(I’m still scratching my head on this one but I’m thankful)norman-rockwell--santa-s-helper-december-27-1947_i-G-52-5271-V5RZG00Z

  1. You’re not going to feel great about your outward appearance. I mean you’ll be happy but recharging your batteries is going to be really low on the To Do list. Fortunately, you’re going to feel great about how strong you have been!

  (Oh you can deadlift 200lbs? Well I’ve gone 8.5 months without sleep or makeup. BAM!)

  1. You might need a veteran from this war zone to tell you it’s going to be alright. You hear a lot of advice from a lot of people. None of it is going to matter until you’re crying into a dirty sock you thought was a dish towel …you thought was a tissue. That’s when you are desperately going to need a seasoned mom to tell you this is all temporary.

   (I find that even vomit can seem cute when it’s temporary but I don’t recommend sleeping in it if at all possible)

  1. You aren’t going to like your husband. There I said it. I’m a terrible wife. In all honesty he is probably going to try every bit as hard as you are but you had a nine month head start on adjusting to this little human being part of your life. (Give him time and try to keep your head above water.)1921-07-09-Saturday-Evening-Post-Norman-Rockwell-cover-Boy-Holding-Screaming-Baby-no-logo-400-Digimarc
  2. Mommy Brain. It’s a real affliction. If we are being honest it should be called “the baby usurped 80% of my working memory”. But the latter is shorter and easier to remember and EASY TO REMEMBER is the key phrase here. It’s like a switch gets flipped and suddenly you forget everything and start eating food off of other people’s faces. You forget your brother’s wife’s name. You forget the name of those purple things that grow on those green things that make wine. (I say good morning to my coworkers multiple times most mornings.)
  3. Nursing. I did it for a year. Does that negate the thing I said about not liking my husband? By the end of your breast-feeding days you’re going to feel like you’ve spent more time topless than a tribal woman captured in National Geographic. Yes they are still yours but no matter how you try they are still going to look like milk cartons in your mind.
  4. What you consider relevant is going to change drastically. You are going to hate that for a while until you realize that the entire year you spent watching Brittany Spears spiral into crazy town and then rise from the ashes maybe wasn’t the most productive use of  your time anyway.
  5. This year you become a caregiver, a shoulder to cry on, a personal life coach, a bodyguard and an adult most all the time whether you feel up to the challenge or not. I loved Ian immediately!!! But I didn’t know him and he didn’t know me. The first year you are going to work really hard to start building a relationship with a complete stranger who speaks an entirely different language. You are his person and he can’t survive without you. Enough said?

 

It’s going to be worth it.

Is it really worth it?

Maybe if I rephrase the question the answer will be clearer.

Is falling in love really worth it?

Beacuse that’s exactly what it is. It’s falling in love!!! It’s flying and crashing and crying and laughing. Sometimes when Ian is screaming and crying I feel like Martha Stewart’s publicist doing damage control and hoping a carrot soufflé will make the bad dream go away. There are days I want to crawl under my covers and pretend I’m not a mom, but like Jack Twist I’m a goner. It’s too late. I’ve fallen in love and I don’t know how to quit my little dude.  For every effort I put in, I get unmeasurable returns.

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Scientifically I can’t measure it. Mathematically I can’t come up with the formula. Psychologically I can’t determine the behavioral measures but he thinks I’m cool and I think he’s awesome too. I think William Shakespeare says it best.

“Love is a smoke and is made with the fume of sighs.” 

Yes it’s hard. Yes it’s worth it. No I have not actually made my child a soufflé.

On to year two!

Happy Birthday Ian!

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You are so important and special to me and your father. Your great big family loves you more than any words could ever express. We are so thankful you are part of our little world now!

Happy 1st Birthday to a brave inquisitive and loving little boy.

May every day of your life be a great adventure!!!

May you always bring light to this great big world with your smile!!

And may you always know love, laughter and true joy no matter what path you travel!!

And of course we love you so much little bean!

 

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