Tuesday, March 15, 2011


"I walked across an empty land,
I knew the pathway like the back of my hand..."

We walked, hand-in-hand, down this familiar path.  Only months ago, we'd walked this way for the first time.  Together.

We had been nervous, and the day had been filled with silence, and giggles, and cheeks burning bright red.  Today would not be much different.  But today I knew him, inside and out, and today I was comfortable with my hand in his.

"I felt the earth beneath my feet..."

Pieces of mulch crept into my shoes.  When he told me to get dressed this morning, he failed to mention where our adventure might lead, and sandals were not a wise choice for a walking trail.  With relief, we sat on the wooden bridge that crossed the babbling creek.

"Sat by the river and it made me complete."

I brushed off my feet and dangled them off the edge, smiling into those brown eyes that were mine now.  This was our place.  In the middle of thickets of pine trees, the sun managed to peek through and hit exactly this spot.  Months ago, the heat had been welcome, but now it was stifling.  He leaned in for a kiss, almost an exact replication of our first one. 
Same bridge.  Same water.  Same trees.  Same butterflies.
I could never keep from smiling when he kissed me, and some things never change.

We sat silently for a while, just taking in the warm day and the cool water.  I watched it wash over the smooth, brown rocks.  The water was shallow and clear, and the sun reflecting off of it made me look away.  As I turned, I showed him the Queen Anne's Lace I picked from the bank.  It reminded me of the pattern on a wedding dress.  And as I was about to tell him so, I glanced up to find his eyes.  Instead, I found something gleaming and blinding.

Before I understood, I heard his honeyed voice.  Would I make him the happiest man in the world?  Would I be his wife?

The ring was on my finger and tears were in my eyes.


The Queen Anne's Lace floated down the creek as my fingers laced around the back of his head and I pulled his lips to mine.

This was our place of beginnings.

"So why don't we go somewhere only we know?"

("Somewhere Only We Know," by Keane)

Top Ten Tuesday: Movies

I'll just go ahead an admit from the start that my favorite movies are not sophisticated.  They are not even really that tasteful, if we're being honest.  But what they are is AWESOME!

I'm not a huge "movie" person.  I probably would be if I had the time to actually sit down and watch them, but that hasn't really been the case in the last five years.  (Hmmm...wonder why that would be?)  Any time I do have a moment to watch a film, it's almost always one of these ten, so obviously they've made an impression.  Here are my favorite movies, in no particular order.  Judge away.

1. Blazing Saddles.  You can blame my husband for this one.  I had never seen it until we were bored on vacation one night, and this cracked me up.  It is not my usual brand of humor; in fact, it is offensive in a multitude of ways.  But that Lili von Shtupp?  Hilarious.  "It's twue!  It's twue!"

2.  The Ten Commandments.  Quite a change of pace, no?  Of course I am referring to the epic version with Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner.  I don't watch this constantly or anything, but my family used to watch this every Easter, so it holds a special place in my heart.

3. Toy Story (the entire trilogy).  I am a kid at heart, but these movies have humor that's for adults, too...at least, that's what I tell myself.  I really adore each of these movies, but the third is currently my favorite.  The animation is beautiful, the attention to detail is brilliant, and remembering the toys I had as a child is nostalgic.  These are actually movies I do get to see often, as my kids are in love with the whole franchise.  I don't complain.

4. Pride and Prejudice (the BBC version).  In the UK, it was a mini-series, but it is continuously pieced together on DVD, making it a movie to me.
This has lots of good things going for it.  First of all, it is about my favorite book of all time.  Secondly, the costumes, sets, and locations are gorgeous.  And most importantly, Colin Firth.  Mmmmhmmmm.  If I see a snippet, I have to sit and watch the entire 300 minutes.  Or I just watch the scene where Mr. Darcy jumps in the lake over and over.  Either way works.

5. Peter Pan.  Of course I'm referring to the Disney animated version.  Just typing the name conjures up such a warm feeling.  I remember exact times I saw it as a child, and now I love to watch it with my kids.  It's full of magic...or to be exact, "faith, trust, and pixie dust."  I love the songs, the story, and the themes.  We all hate to grow up, but we have to eventually do just that.  That doesn't mean we have to stop imagining.

6. Amelie.  Oh, fancy!  This French film is visually stunning.  It is a quirky story of a unique girl who sets out to help others in her own way.  I can use the subtitles, or I can just sit back and enjoy the film quality.  It is entertaining and gorgeous either way.

7. The Golden Girls.  The boxed sets count, right?  I'm counting them.  They are on DVD, after all.  I can nearly recite most episodes, and that's pretty sad.  I probably shouldn't have admitted that.

8. Bridget Jones' Diary.  What can I say?  This is just funny.  It also stars two of my favorites: the city of London and Colin Firth.  That alone knocks it into perfect movie territory.

9. Notting Hill.  Brandon's rolling his eyes at this one, but he always secretly watches it and laughs at Spike.  I never intentionally set out to watch this, but if it's on, I'm watching.  I think I like it because I watched it before spending the summer in London once, and it earned instant sentimental points for introducing me to an area I loved to frequent while I was there.

10.  Love Actually.  The rest of the movies are not in any order, but I will tell you that this is my absolute favorite movie of all time.  Number one.  There are so many storylines, all of them good.  I love the soundtrack.  I love Colin Firth (again).  I try to watch it every couple of months, more so during the Christmas season.  After all, "Love actually is all around."

In writing this, I've noticed some things.  I like London.  I love Colin Firth.  And Hugh Grant ends up in lots of movies I enjoy, even though I really have no affinity for him.  I think it's just because he's in nearly every British film.  Or at least he tries to be.  He might be the sole reason my husband hates to watch movies with me; he hates his smarm and his floppy hair, and who can blame him?

What are your favorite movies?  Bonus points if they include Colin Firth.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nice to meet you.

I had a plan, and this was definitely not it.  I'd be at least thirty.  I'd have multiple degrees and a successful career.  I would have been married for years and spent time touring Europe (again) and driving across America (again).

But now I was sitting in a tiny room wearing a paper gown, giving Brandon updates over the phone while he worked.  Just days ago we had celebrated my twenty-second birthday and were making plans to attempt a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail.  And now?

I was pregnant.

That flu I thought I had was obviously something more.

I would have waited until he got home from work to take the test if I had actually thought it would be positive.  I took it kind of as an afterthought and set it aside.  By the time I washed my hands, there was that word staring back at me on the digital test.


I couldn't breathe.  I took a walk.  I took a drive.  I took another shower.  I took another walk.  My head was spinning.

OHMYGOD.  This is not happening.  This is not my plan.  Ten years from now, sure.  But now?  Not now.  I'm in college and my first degree is still a year away.  I have no career--I'm a career student.  We're going to Boston next month, and there goes that trip; we'll need the money.

NOT NOW!!  Please.  PLEASE!

Brandon came home and I couldn't tell him.  I just showed him the test, and then he took a walk.

And now here I was in this little room and they were putting cold gel on the wand of the ultrasound machine, looking to see just how pregnant I really was.  Did I know how far along I might be?  No, not a clue.  This wasn't supposed to happen, so I wasn't keeping track of things like that.

Up on the screen was gray and black fuzz, circles, moving lines, and numbers.  The ultrasound tech was really quiet.  I got dressed, and she led me into the doctor's office.  He sat down and looked solemnly at my baby face.

"It looks like there's nothing there but a sac.  We think we should be seeing something by now."

My head started spinning.  I was crying immediately and shaking my head.  (But isn't this what I wanted?  Didn't I want it all to go away?)

"Come back after the weekend if you don't miscarry on your own.  We'll take another look, but chances are that we'll have to do a D&C to get rid of what's left."

What's left.
He handed me some tissues and left me alone for a while.  After I cried (what was wrong with me?) my first round of tears, I walked out of the office, sat in my car, and called Brandon.

Those few days were some of the darkest of my life.  Guttural sobbing, no food, no sleep.  I could not figure out why I was so upset.  Life could go as planned now, right?  And I could finish college, hop on a plane anytime I wanted, grow up before I had to raise someone.  Why did the idea of these things seem so wrong now?

Brandon's mom drove me to the appointment.  He was working his minimum wage job and they fired people who didn't show up, no exceptions.  I never miscarried over the weekend, so I cradled my belly on the way to the office, thinking it would be the last time I'd be pregnant, even if it was with just a sac that never developed into a baby.  I kept thinking that I still felt pregnant and was already mourning the loss of that feeling.

At the office, the OB showed me to the ultrasound room and left me with the tech while he prepared for the D&C.  My mind was trying to be anywhere but here.  Those gray and black blobs popped up on the screen again, and I closed my eyes.  My chest ached as I tried not to cry.

"Why did the doctor say he needed to do a D&C?"
Why was she asking me this?  Couldn't she look at my chart?  So cruel.
"The baby didn't develop."  Tears.

"Really?"  Silence.  "See that right there?"  I opened my eyes and looked at the screen.  What was I seeing?  That infamous empty sac again?
"That's definitely a heart beat."

I stared at the screen, and I was crying more.  My hand flew up to cover my mouth as I just kept staring at that blinking on the screen.  From the seat next to me, my mother-in-law asked me, "Is that a good thing or a bad thing?"

Good thing.  This is definitely a good thing.  I'll never forget that question, because it's the first time I realized the answer.  This baby was a perfect, good thing.

And this baby was supposed to happen.  I want this.  I want this for my new plan, and I want this for us.
As I called and told Brandon the good news, I could tell that he felt the same.  When I showed him the picture of our little baby with a heartbeat (and the words the tech typed, "Hi, Mom!"), he beamed with the pride I'd grow accustomed to seeing on his face.  This is what happiness feels like.
Our first family photo.  January 2006.

Six years and three beautiful children later, our lives are full of more adventure than we could have imagined back then.

College?  I finished my degree, taught fifth grade, and made another important decision--to stay at home with these kids that are my life.

Travel?  We travel often, as a party of five.

My age?  I have three children at an age before I thought I'd have even one.
And I couldn't imagine it any other way.
Our family today.  Julia, Brynn, and Sawyer (each one a miracle).

I will never forget those days of agony when I thought the baby I didn't even know I loved was gone.  I'm sure that this has something to do with the intense anxiety I feel throughout my pregnancies.
Brandon and I are overprotective parents now, admittedly.  We know that nothing in life is guaranteed, and we know how much our family means to us.  At least this experience helped us to make this realization.  The most we ever leave our kids is to run an errand, and we worry about them the whole time.  People joke with us about it, but nothing is more serious to us than the closeness of our family.

This is the family that might not have been.  This is the life that almost wasn't.  And we will cherish each child, each moment, each gift.

ETA: Each pregnancy has had a moment similar to this.  I had a subchorionic bleed/threatened miscarriage with Brynn at 8 weeks, but it resolved itself within a couple of months on its own.  I was on bed rest with Sawyer for pre-term labor.  With each pregnancy, I've learned even more to cherish the blessing of a healthy child.  I have come close to losing them, but thankfully have not had to experience what so many families have to endure.