Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Everyday Adventures Through Colon Tunnels and Life

{dad and kevin}
{scott}
{danielle}
{running}


Dear Self 20 Years From Now (and anyone else listening),

You had a colonoscopy last week. Everyone in the family was requested to after Maddie's diagnosis. It was like apple pie on the fourth of July, or it was like your insides becoming a tunnel for something that wasn't meant to fit. You tried to be awake during it because they said you'd have to "pump and dump" if you didn't and you didn't have any milk stored. You lasted about seven minutes before you took the drugs. You laid there breathing slowly and wondering if taking the drugs was actually quitting just like you did before you took the epidural with Avalon. You watched a TV screen playing a show that could have been called "The Terrible Tour Of My Colon". It was a lot like when you see footage of a deep sea rover looking for life or ship wrecks at the bottom of the ocean. It was black and bleak and there were haunted-looking, unrecognizable things passing by. It was more disgusting than fascinating. Thank goodness for the drugs and for not harping on yourself for making the choices you know are best. 

You don't have cancer. Praise every last bit of everything. You still felt sick afterwards knowing that your Maddie-girl-sister-friend, buddy for life, who gets all of your jokes and lives too far away even when she's just two hours north, got the opposite news only months before. Let's just keep believing that love conquers all. It must

Everyone that runs into you lately says how much you seem to be enjoying motherhood. That is 1,000% true. You are obsessed. It feels right like marrying Scott and paddling out with your dad and Danielle and Kevin in the sun in the summer. Sometimes when people say this though you almost feel guilty because in the beginning of your motherhood journey you were miserable and breathing weird and crying a lot and sometimes you still really fear that time in your life and that person you were then. You feel guilty it happened and for not telling everyone who sees you as this mother with a big smile and a happy baby you obsess over dressing and kissing and holding that it wasn't always this way. But maybe they can see that this happiness came from something hard and maybe that's why it's nice to appreciate and mention it. You read this quote the other day in Tiny Beautiful Things that you wanted to write down and tell all your friends and sisters...

"Nobody will protect you from suffering. You can't cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It's just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal." ~Cheryl Strayed

You know this quote is true now and you also know you'll need to hear it again.

You're going on a family road trip soon. You and the kid and the husband and Basia and Phil. You're not even that anxious about it and you're pretty sure that has nothing to do with the medicine you're taking. Your stronger now because you took a small baby to San Francisco right after Maddie's diagnosis. You accidentally stayed in a hotel in the projects or the tenderloin or somewhere you'd recreate in a painting using almost no color.... and you figured it out. You still laughed with friends. You took her to Texas where she got the stomach flu and threw up on white carpet and had a bleeding rash that made her hysterical in the airplane bathroom. You are ready for this next adventure up to Humboldt and the Mad River and whatever it gives you. Summer is the season for adventure, after all, and summer is your favorite season of all. 

Love and love and love (to everyone),
Devon


{current summer playlist}
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Friday, July 8, 2016

To Maddie on Her Birthday


Dear Maddie,

I wanted to write you a note for your birthday. I can't tell you enough how much I love you; how much you inspire me; how much our friendship and sisterhood means to me.

You are one of the most amazing people I know. I wish every day that you never got cancer, but I am so glad we got to spend so much time together this year. For that reason I can remember it fondly and not fall apart.

I know Italy will be amazing. I know you will make such special memories, even if something is hard or annoying or not how you expected. 

I wear my Strength key every day, but the reason I am really strong is because of you and how you showed me, not just through your cancer diagnosis, but through your life to be yourself and to put love first; to never give up; to never stop searching for good.

I love you always and always sister! You make everything better!

Love,
Devie

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A First Birthday


Even for as hard as Avalon's first year of life was for our family, it's hard to say goodbye to it just the same. It's hard to put my breast pump into storage even though I don't think I've despised any one thing more...except maybe ants...and spiders.

It was a good year. It brought us the best thing. It was a hard year. It brought us the worst thing. Life is always so bittersweet. That's what I keep coming back to day after day as a new mother. The more you teach them, the more independent they become from you. 

Every good and bad thing can only last so long. I dread not sleeping through the night when the next child comes someday, but it's always nice to be needed so purely; so completely. Sometimes when I hear a really good song I make up my own lyrics in my head. Sometimes those lyrics are: life is not perfect, or is it and we just don't know? I always come back to being fairly dramatic with my emotions, I suppose.

I wanted to share a few of the things we got Avalon for her birthday this first year. Aside from reorganizing our house and throwing myself off tall concrete edges on my skateboard, shopping online also seemed to help with the anxiety that came for me this past year. I was constantly scouring Amazon for the perfect things. Instagram inspired me. Pinterest inspired me. Blogs inspired me. The temptation to shop was everywhere. But it was kind of nice since I think the internet has really helped me find the things I really want and need and will keep come the next clean-out-super-session-purge, hopefully.

I was extremely particular. We went big with the playhouse that was a gift from the whole family (group gifts are great because they are sentimental and special and they cut down on the overall invasion of presents). I think it's a pretty good price for an all wood playhouse and it's the perfect size for a toddler with a small yard. I love the natural colors and Avalon loves opening and closing the windows and sliding down the slide.

For her dress I went with the Baby Smock Dress from Shop Arq. I had been stalking their instagram for months and finally made the purchase a few weeks before the big day. I got her pigtail bow clips from Free Babes Handmade. I made the crown myself and I'm actually shocked it came out so well and even more shocked that she wore it for nearly two days straight. I used this pattern, but cut the points to be more triangular. I hand sewed the letter "A" on and cut the #1 out of a piece of felt with a sticky back. I'm thinking next year (and maybe for many years) I can re-use it if I lengthen the elastic on the back and cut a #2 to replace the #1. 

My mom and I made a carrot cake for dessert and we had "Taco Crunch" for everyone for dinner. It's really easy to serve to a larger group. 

We got her these beautiful, natural building blocks from Grimms (I love their stuff) and this doll which everyone in my family said was scary and looked like baby Donald Trump. I think she's so cute though! 

Avalon and I love our little Music Together class so I got her some instruments and play silks for home: jingle bells, a harmonica, a wooden frog rasp and Sarah's Silks. She already has (and loves) her wooden egg shaker, "glockenspiel", and small drum

We also got her a baby potty and a book to go with it. For two days straight she actually used it and now for the last three she has just taken out the bowl and tried to wear it as a hat. This morning she actually peed on the Potty book. 

For books we got her The Swing, Charlie Harper ABC's, Potty, Freight Train and Home. She also received Scott's childhood bear and a crooked chair her Papa refurbished. Danielle gave her a pair of baby Toms, which I suspect might be her favorite and Maddie made her a beautiful video I might share someday. It was a very special day to follow a year full of feeling.


+Thank you all for being here with us...near, far, wherever you are!
+What are your favorite clothing shops, books and toys for an older baby (I'm not ready to say toddler yet!)? 
+If you make any purchases with the links, thank you! 
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Thursday, June 30, 2016

One Wild Year


Dear Avalon Wild,

The first thing I remember about you was that you were a girl. The second thing I remember was that your face and eyes were really puffy and you were scared. All the same could have been said about me.

I remember Daddy saying "I think she has blue eyes!" while the nurses were taking your measurements.

You were such a gentle force. It made sense you were born in the rain. When I saw you, I remember thinking of this geyser Daddy and I saw in Yellowstone called Mammoth Hot Springs. No one could have prepared me for what a wonder it was. I hoped I'd be enough for you. 

I don't remember what it felt like to be stitched up; don't remember what time it was; don't remember the doctor's face before she left. I only remember that you needed me even though I had never felt so useless. Then I remember the weight of you on my chest and the weight of my love for you; how it burrowed inside of every part of me and came out as tears.

You were born charismatic and curious, determined. 

So much of our first year together for me was about accepting the things I couldn't control and probably never will. So much of your first year was about the strength of love and how it shapes us, like how the waves change the beach over and over againSo much of this year was about me trying to understand why we were crying. I think I've got you figured out now, but that probably means you're ready to change it up on me again. I saw a hint of that yesterday when I realized you wanted to put your own shoes on. 


I could list off all of the things that made this first year of your life hard: colic(?), cancer, depression, but the story isn't those words or experiences, it's what came from them. 


I hated my body for not being good at breast feeding. I didn't think I'd make it two months. Then I didn't think I'd make it to four or six and now here we are and I'm wondering how we'll stop. 

I didn't realize I'd have so much growing up to do once I had a child; didn't realize what it meant to truly be exhausted; didn't realize how much I could do myself; didn't realize how accustomed I'd become to attaching a machine to my boobs; didn't realize how many times I'd check on you and kiss you and just want to be near you even when I just wanted to stare at my phone and drink wine.

You will hopefully never remember your Aunt Maddie having cancer or being snuck into the hospital to cheer her up; never remember the sound I made when I heard the news, like a dying water buffalo or someone whose foot got run over by a train. You will only see the pictures from her end-of-chemo party and feel the way your family appreciated life and each other and you better.

I'm sitting here thinking, how is hot again already? All the fans are on, just like they were last summer when you were new here. How are we about to celebrate your birth-day already? 

How is that I want it all over again? The surge of you coming to me and making me so much more alive than I've ever been? There are so many things designed to give people that feeling like wasabi and rollercoasters and racing towards a line, but there is nothing like the rush of being loved by you.

I know so much will change over time. Your shoe size, your interest in being in the carrier, your bed, your favorite songs, your home, but that light I first saw in your eyes? I know I'll see that forever. 

I love your little gap teeth and how you accidentally whistle sometimes when you're busy. I love the upside down moon shape your eyes make when you're really happy, and selfishly I really love when your eyes squint up that way when you see me. One of the best things is knowing that you really see me and are still happy with what's in front of you. I love that far-off look you get when you're putting your world together, like today when you heard the neighbor's dog barking and the train whistle.

I could say I carried you since I knew you; your little hands and feet and soft, soft tummy, your bubbly lips; but the truth is you have carried me too. 

I haven't cried at expected, "appropriate" times since you were born and now, here I am, nursing you, crying about all you are and all we've become together.

I love you always my magic, magic girl.

Happy birthday (officially tomorrow at 3:39pm:)! 

Love,
Momma
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