Post #4: Brayden Kisses

I had only been asleep for an hour and a half when I woke up to the sound of Brayden cooing. It was 1:00 in the morning, and I was tired. Exhausted actually. I guess six months of interrupted sleep will do that to you. Not that I am complaining. I know better than to complain because I am reminded every day (and in the middle of every night) that every sacrifice of sleep is worth it. This night turned out to be the perfect example…

As I listened to Brayden’s soft babbles, I could tell that he wasn’t unhappy. He was just telling me politely that he was awake. I quietly made my way out of bed and to his room. When I peeked over the side of his crib, he rolled from his belly to his back as if he knew I would be there at that very instant. His eyes gave away the smile that was hiding underneath his pacifier. He pulled his blanket up to his cheek and smiled wider, I imagine because he noticed me smiling back.

To sleep or to cuddle? I looked at the clock, knowing that I was doing so in vain. Cuddling always wins…

I lifted him up so that we were facing each other and we made our way to the couch. When we sat down, he pushed himself off my chest to look at me. Eyes sparkling, he grinned widely. He makes new faces on an almost daily basis so I wasn't surprised that this one was different from the other variations of 'happy' that he's made before. But I recognized something familiar about his expression. The scrunch of his cheeks, the smile in his eyes... That's when I placed it. He was looking at me in the way I look at him, adoringly.

It is a really incredible concept to grasp. I am adored… by my baby… my son.

When Brayden was born, I wasn’t surprised when my heart grew to accommodate the overflow of love that was held there. I expected that becoming a parent would have this effect. I was prepared for what it would be like to feel love for my baby. What I wasn’t prepared for is what it would be like to feel loved by him. I was ready for the give, but hadn’t considered the take. And, thinking about it now, the two really account for an inseparable and beautiful duality. As much as I love this precious little person, this precious little person loves me. And Brayden is at an age where he can actually show it which makes this whole parenting thing all the more fulfilling.

With one plump, knuckle-less hand, he touched my cheek…. then my lips… then my chin. When he reached my nose he gave a little laugh. Then I put my forehead to his. I don’t know why or when it started, but this has become our little sign of affection. There are Eskimo kisses and butterfly kisses and then there are these…. Brayden kisses. Forehead to forehead, nose to nose. He sighed happily.

Nearly in tears after sharing this moment with my baby boy, I hugged him tight. I love you, little guy, I whispered. He smiled contently before nestling his face into my neck. Maybe I was delusional from being overtired, or maybe I was dreaming the whole thing up, but I swear this was his way of saying I love you too, mom.

I held him until he was asleep. And then I held him a little longer. Forget what the baby books say. Sure, B was supposed to be sleeping. And, yes, I was probably enforcing some bad habit by taking him out of the crib and letting him sit with me. None of that matters. I will happily trade six months more of sleep for moments like these.


Post #3: Home is wherever I'm with you (and a couple scented candles)

Every time we move (and, as you know, we move a lot), we find ourselves in the following quandary: We know that our living situation is temporary, but don't want our living space to reflect that. Bare walls, minimal furnishings, and empty shelves do not amount to what I'd consider "homey". And, we are wherever we are for long enough for that to matter. In other words, I don't mind that we are living in a permanent state of temporary. But I don't want to live permanently in what looks temporary.

Unfortunately, as any HGTV viewer would know, decorating a home is not cheap. Nor is it entirely practical when you will be leaving most of your decor purchases behind, as was the case for us when we moved home from Italy. So, the question is: how much is reasonable to budget for personalizing/decorating/homifying your space if you are likely going to have to repeat the process one hockey season later?

It could be argued that our being stateside as opposed to overseas has two benefits. First, the pressure to be minimalist is slightly offset by the fact, at the end of this season, we will be driving home with a U-Haul trailer hitched behind us. Second, there is a much greater availability of bargains than we had overseas. (Marshalls, Michaels, coupons, and Craigslist.) In other words, go to town, Sarah! Let loose your inner wannabe interior decorator!

From another, probably more rational standpoint, being stateside should not influence my buying decisions. It’s simply not realistic for us accumulate massive amounts of home goods. Especially at the rate we are acquiring baby items, space to get everything home is likely to be an issue regardless of the UHaul. Plus, I'd prefer to purchase only things that we can use again and can store un-intrusively in our parents’ garages in the meantime. Not to mention the fact that I am hardly qualified in the area of interior design.  Just because I can hit “repin” when I see a space I like doesn’t mean I am knowledgeable enough to re-create it myself!

Which brings me back to square one... What do you really need to make a house look comfortable and lived-in?

It took me nearly a month and a half to answer this question, to overcome the intimidation factor of a blank canvas. (We even have a mantle this year that proved particularly overwhelming. Oh, the possibilities!) Eventually, I settled upon the same three things I always rely on, regardless of my zip code… my minimalist list of must-haves for making a house look like a home:

1. Pictures - Frames can be expensive and difficult to transport, so I only purchased a few and I'm using some Pinterest tricks to display the rest of my photos. (More on that later.) I also framed some music lyrics backed with scrapbook paper for colorful personalization.

2. Scented Candles – There is just something about scented candles that makes a place feel warm and welcoming, so I put my 40%-off Hobby Lobby coupons to good candle-buying use!

3. Plants - This year I got a Pathos plant and an Orchid since they are virtually un-killable. (I promise, mom, that I will leave these with friends from Wichita as opposed to bringing them home to my greenhouse- err- I mean your living room.)

And so, finally, after excruciating contemplation, I have purchased, arranged, and rearranged my little collection of home-making flare. In addition to the furniture supplied by the team, these small elements make the apartment look like a home. Of course, with my husband, baby, and dog in the mix, it feels like one too! And, in the words of my neighbor Dorothy, there’s no place like home…


Post #2: Change is... Change

Change. Yesterday I was reading for my online class about the dynamics of curricular change in schools. The author explores the human response to change, arguing that there is an important connection between psychology and effective implementation of educational reforms. Though his writing is focused in educational contexts, the described psychological effects of change bear significant relevance in all aspects of our lives. He acknowledges that we have an inherent “conservative impulse”, or tendency to seek patterns in new situations. Identifying cause and finding meaning in the effect, he continues, are essential to a person's adaptability. Hence the easily understandable association between change and stress.

About change, he writes:

“Though we exalt it in principle, we oppose it in practice. Most of us resist it whenever it comes upon us. We dislike alterations in even our smallest daily routines, such as a highway improvement detour on our way to work, for example...”

So true, I thought as I was reading. Whether it’s the paint color of a living room or a new job, a change can be intimidating. Just ask my dad. He couldn’t bare it when I removed the carpeted wall-art d├ęcor from the stairwell, where it had been since the mid-1980s. He didn’t deny that it was an outdated piece of artwork, but that fact didn’t matter. What mattered was, for the first time in almost thirty years, as he turned the corner from garage entryway his eyes did not fall upon the textured orange, brown, and beige treescape. Discomfort, disarray, stress…. Even when change is positive, these are inevitably part of the experience.

And so, there I was, nodding in agreement at the author’s words. But then I continued reading…

“Change is neither natural nor normal, constant nor common. On the contrary, when we look at actual social behavior, we find that persistence is far more typical. (Nisbet, 1969, pp. 271). This is not to say that people and patterns never change; they do. But most of these changes are slow, incremental, often barely perceptible; they are rarely rapid, formal, or overt and they are almost never sought. We know that life requires us to adapt, and we sometimes long for a change in our circumstances or in the way others treat us, but for the most part we cling reflexively and tenaciously to things as they are (Evans, pp. 25).”

This is when it hit me. Despite the fact that my life fit into what Evans considers the rare case (normally, constantly, rapidly changing), I was not stressed. With the exception of the flight, there was nothing about the move to Wichita that stressed me out. One minute I was living my life in my hometown, and the next minute I was living almost exactly the same but in central standard time. The transition was flawless… but how?! For someone as traditionally high-stress as myself, how was this all so easy-to-handle?

The only explanation is that, as everything has been changing around me these last few years, I have been changing too. And my changes have been of the "slow, incremental, often barely perceptible" sort. I have learned to “go with the flow”, to accept it when I don’t have complete control. It’s not apathy, it’s adaptation. And thank goodness for adaptation. Without it, I’m not sure how I would be coping with yet another relocation, this time with a baby in tow. But here I am, doing just that. And it feels like nothing extraordinary, nothing to “write home about”. Which probably explains why I haven't been doing any writing... 

Regardless of how this might sound, I'm not bored. I guess I'm just.... comfortable(?). And, quite honestly, comfortable(?) is wonderful! It's not, however, good inspiration for blogging. So I guess I'll have to find my inspiration elsewhere. 

Evans, R. (1996). The Human Side of School Change. San Francisco, CA:Jossey-Bass Inc.