Tuesday, April 3, 2018

100 days of doing some thing

A trending venture on Instagram is the #the100dayproject. Basically, participants worldwide choose a project theme, carry it out each day for the next 100 days, and post photos on Instagram. Someone is creating a collage a day, someone is focusing on self-love each day, someone is taking a photo with a real camera each day...it can be anything! And oh, the possibilities! 

Of course I want to join, but - of course - its open-ended-ness felt restrictive. With no real guidelines, I didn't know what to do.

What did I want to get out of this project?

I want it to spur on my desire to spend less time on my phone in the evenings, and more time doing...something.

Eureka! There it is! My theme. In hashtag form, it is #100timesigotoffmyphoneanddidsomething. (You can follow along on my public Instagram @itsjessasiam)

Today my son and I collected various things we found on the ground while walking around: a piece of wood that came from beavers gnawing down a tree, a downy goose feather, lichen-covered bark, a rhododendron leaf, a smooth rock...and I wove them together in my small loom. Beautiful? The end result doesn't really look lovely, but the process of slowing down and admiring the objects and creating something was very beautiful.

It was a very good first step in what I hope will be a journey toward being more willing to try new things creative-wise and to discover new things in the real world. Not the digital one.

Monday, April 2, 2018

it's April and I'm...

reading: Sisters First, by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush

playing: in the garden

watching: birds come to the bird feeder: so many kinds!

cooking: hummingbird cake this morning, for our church's Easter brunch

eating: cucumber bolognese

drinking: water, but not enough.

nothing recently

crafting: bringing my small loom on hikes to make nature weavings

feeling: sleepy

going: to bed soon.

hating: that I fell asleep while putting my boy to bed.

discovering: the beauty of simplicity in the home.

enjoying: this beautiful spring weather

hoping: to be productive at work this week.

celebrating: the resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is risen!

thanking: God for the hope of eternal life

considering: where we should hike tomorrow.

finishing: my Easter chocolate

starting: to go through all our things to prepare for a yard sale!

Monday, March 26, 2018

those superb senses

One (five?) of my most grateful-for blessings are senses. As is seeing, smelling, touching, tasting, and hearing.

Yesterday, as my son and I were outside among 12 inches of newly-fallen snow (12 inches in 24 hours! For a total of 16 inches of snow that fell since the beginning of spring! But I digress...), he stopped his play, stood still for a bit and then said, "Listen, Mama!" And so I stopped, stood still, and listened. We heard the thwop of fat wet snow chunks falling from the branches above and landing in the soft cushion below. We heard the trickle, trickle, trickle of melted snow flowing down the road's drain. We heard the scrape, scrape, scrape of a far-off snow shovel being dragged across asphalt. We heard bird calls of many kinds (note to self: add "identify birds" to my spring to-do list) and, and, and, and, and...there was lots to listen to. And it was so peaceful.

Do you know that "listen" and "silent" are made from the same six letters?

Do you know how rich and full moments can be if we just stop what we're doing to be still and present?

I'm so glad my son encouraged me to do so (and not just for the break from shoveling all of that wet snow off all of the square feet that makes up our driveway and sidewalks).

I want to do it more often.

It reminded me of our mornings, three summers ago. My 1-year-old child woke up at 5:30am every. single. morning. (Insert astonished emoji here.) What was I to do? Fresh air is my caffeine, and so I fed him, dressed him, dressed myself, and we were out the door by 6:00am. I would push him in his stroller to the park and we would watch the world come alive, on those summer mornings. We would listen to the birds (again, which kinds, I know not) and watch the sky turn colors until - pop! - here's the sun! We would watch the Parks & Recreation crew load up their trailers with lawnmowers and leaf blowers and gas cans and weed whackers (and I would watch my son watch all of that with such amazement: he has always loved "mighty machines"). We would watch ducks waddle past and squirrels play on the playground. We would notice new blooms in neighboring houses' front flower beds and would watch the grass grow higher, higher, higher until it developed heads in this one particular front yard. On rainy mornings, I'd strap him on my back in the Boba carrier and hold an umbrella over our heads and we'd watch the rain fall and turn into puddles that cars would make fly into the air. It was all so exhilarating: a great way to start a (very early) day. And then we'd arrive home around 7:30am and read books (again, the gift of sight!) until we both fell asleep for a nap.

It's amazing that THREE YEARS have gone by, and with them countless sensory delights, that I didn't really pay attention to. I haven't stopped to be still enough to really enjoy the little bits of life for three years.

Um, that is definitely going to be added to the spring to-do list STAT. I can't wait to see/smell/touch/taste/hear what awaits!

Friday, March 23, 2018

womb woes

At a recent dinner with some friends, a mom with three children ranging from just-a-bit-older-than-my-son to an infant was talking about how she was done with having children - absolutely done - and then turned to me with a "It's your turn, Jess! What's taking you so long?" as she looked at my only child who's 4.5-years-old. And I responded with "Well, I've been waiting for my turn for the past four years! It just hasn't come yet."

And the conversation abruptly ended.

I wanted to shout "I HAVE WOMB WOES! I CAN'T GET PREGNANT AS EASILY AS YOU SEEM TO, AS EASILY AS MOST WOMEN SEEM TO." (Thus, I have a 4.5-year-old only child, while most friends with 4.5-year-old firstborns are already on their third child.)

Let's just type out my uterus' history, shall we? I've had multiple miscarriages, and then I had a pregnancy that lasted 40 weeks and 1 day that brought my beloved son into the world, and then I had an empty womb for...going on 4 years and 7 months now.

You think getting your period is rotten? Try hoping-you're-pregnant and then getting your period. It hurts thousands times more. Especially as time goes on, and periods still come. Maybe this month? Maybe this is the month I'll get pregnant! A (and then you do some calculating in your head) November baby would be fun! Maybe my uterus feels different this month? Maybe I'm pregnant!? And then, one day - woosh! - redness that destroys both your underwear and your hopes. And you diet on chocolate and only chocolate for the next three days and curse your tight jeans' waistband because why does bloat have to be a part of this pity party, too? Why can't the extra fluff around the middle be from a baby instead?

I went to a specialist in the womb department just to make sure my reproductive system was working properly after giving birth years before, and tests showed that it was but I was asked to come back three months later for a check-up. Fast forward three months: my doctor walked into the examining room, looked at me, and exclaimed "You're pregnant!" to which I responded, "No, but every other person in the waiting room is." And then he gave me the biggest, warmest hug. I remember thinking This must be what getting a hug from a loving, caring father feels like. I didn't want it to end, this first fatherly hug I've received, but it was getting to the this-is-lasting-a-while-and-it's-with-a-"stranger" uncomfortable stage and so I retreated. From the hug and the doctor's office.

I hear friends talking about how they are "actively trying" for a child and didn't conceive until they "stopped actively trying"...let's just stop here for a moment. For a rant. Why must we call it "actively trying" when speaking among grown adults? It's called sex. They are having lots and lots of perfectly-timed sex in hopes that their efforts will produce offspring. Why can't we call things what they are? Growing up, we couldn't use the word breast (well, we couldn't refer to our breasts at all and had to wear sports bras to camouflage whatever size they were, but my growing up stories can wait for another day) and, instead, my mother called them "uppers". This both annoyed and amused me to no end, and so one day, while grocery shopping, I picked up a carton of meat and asked my mother if we need to buy chicken uppers? It didn't deter her from her insistence that breasts be removed from the family's vocabulary.

Anyway...I hear friends talking about how they are "actively trying" for a child and didn't conceive until they "stopped actively trying" and then - BAM! - line on the pregnancy stick. I hear friends talking about how this recent pregnancy of theirs is an accident, and they have mixed feelings about it. I understand and I'm so glad they feel free to talk about this around me but, honestly, deep down it stinks to hear it all. And it takes all the mental and emotional focus I have to stay grounded in that moment.

I realize I'm not going to have the perfect family of 2.5 children each spaced 2 years apart. And, if I do get pregnant again and the child grows to full-term, there's going to be at least 5 years difference between my children and so people tell me that "I waited too long and my children are not going to bond." Like I have any control in all of this. Really, regardless of if two people "just had sex once" and the woman got pregnant or if two people had sex thousands of times and the woman never got pregnant, it all comes down to this: God creates children when He wants to, to whom He wants to give them to. He is the creator.

But you know what the beauty of all of this is? Despite all of my womb woes, I HAVE BEEN GIVEN A CHILD. I could have just had miscarriages, or just had an empty womb, but I haven't. I have been given a full womb for 9 straight months. I have been given the experience of comparing the growth of this person inside me to vegetables. I have been given the experience of feeling kicks from my interior. I have been given the experience of preparing a nursery. I have been given the experience of swollen ankles and a natural drug-free birth and meeting my child for the first time and all of the craziness that comes with breastfeeding.

And even if I won't be able to provide him a sibling, I still have him and I can still provide him a beautiful life. My attention isn't diverted to multiple children; it's just him. Our resources aren't spread out among multiple children; they're all for him. And so I'm trying to dwell less on what I don't have and divert that energy into what I do. And this child that I do have is worth every bit of it.

And I am so thankful for him.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

note to self: what to do...

What to do when I don't know what to do:

Group A
+ Check e-mail one more time.
+ Scroll through Instagram. Again.
+ Browse Craigslist and/or Facebook Marketplace.

Group B
+ Write a note, snail-mail style.
+ Clean something.
+ Sit outside and be still.
+ Read a book.
+ Do yoga.
+ Daydream.
+ Work on son's photobooks.
+ Anything but Group A.