Thursday, June 30, 2011


This post includes VERY fresh news, and news that has me flooded with relief. Jason just said the words "empty bottle" to my great delight! We have been thus far, until just now, unsuccessful at encouraging/persuading Alida that breast milk from a bottle is worth drinking. My anxiety about the end of my maternity leave increased significantly after our most recent failed attempt, where Alida was quite upset by the end of it. But today she downed 2 oz and probably would have kept going, had I been more confident in the possibility she would take the bottle and had put more in. While there is plenty of other news, this post will need to be dedicated solely to this milestone - and it gives me a great excuse to post my current favorite picture of our gals. Just look at those smirks!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Trip to PA

It doesn't make a lot of sense that I'm up at 5:45am while all the rest of the family slumbers, including Alida who just roused to get a dry diaper and went peacefully back to sleep. But my mind is swirling and I'm not sure I could squeeze back in between Jason and Alida without waking them, so here I am.

We arrived home late yesterday afternoon from our first "big trip" with Alida to the Benner home place in PA. Going into it we were a bit apprehensive (with good reason) about how it would go, as Alida has yet to become a great friend of her carseat. It normally takes at least 4 1/2 hours to get there. It took 7 on the way up and 8 hours on the way home, both times requiring 5 stops. Thankfully we had allotted most of a day for the trip there and home so were able to attempt to relax about the many stops (I was most impressed with the Virginia rest area completely equipped with the first "family restroom" I've ever used!).

Alida just sneezed and woke herself up so we'll see how long a sleepy daddy can entertain her.

Kali was a trooper in the car - helping to entertain Alida, singing to her to help her fall asleep, and being really patient with the long trip. She didn't even dip into her "entertainment bag" much. But as we were leaving PA she did moan about how boring our home was going to be and how short our time in PA was. She had such a good time with her cousins and all the family around. Alida did also and was well loved and doted on the whole time. As we drove up the driveway upon our initial arrival, I felt a flood of emotions. I felt so grateful to be making the trek with Alida for the first time and felt sad that we never were able to do the same with and for Nora.

Now home I'm gearing up for my first entrance back into my "work life" with a two day working retreat we are hosting here at our home today and tomorrow. We'll see if I'm ready for this, and how Alida feels about joining me for two days of meetings. While she has played around with the bottle a few times at home and on the car trip, she hasn't used it as a means for getting a "decent meal" yet.

Well, she is ready for Mommy!!! Two quick final things worth noting. The week before we left on our trip we enjoyed three rainbows in the time span of 24-36 hours. It was the one benefit of our stormy weather and while Kali enjoyed the rainbows thoroughly, I'm not sure if she would say it was worth the storms (she seems to be following in her mother's footsteps with her apprehension of storms).

And on a different note, we harvested, shelled and froze the first hull peas from our garden which was exciting!! The garden is booming and hopefully the groundhog who is feeling very tantalized by the green beans growing right inside the fence will not be successful in entering as we are enjoying the bountiful harvest of green goodness from within the fence! Instead we are attempting to trap and harvest it to add to the growing amount of groundhog sausage in our freezer, which Kali loves!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Remembering together...

We enjoyed having a group of friends gather at our home on the evening of June 4th to remember Nora with us, celebrate her life and continue to the next stage of her garden (digging a pit that will hold water and have a seating area above it). While there is still a lot more digging to do, it was meaningful to start off the project with some extra hands and the support and company of persons that were/are so important to us and who have been a source of comfort and care in our journey with Nora. Our home was buzzing with activity and noise, with about as many children under 10 years of age as adults present. For me one of the most precious parts of the evening was watching Kali dig with enthusiasm in Nora's garden, and following that to thoroughly enjoy the company of our friends' children, who are now her friends. It feels good to plan things that she enjoys and can be part of that can hopefully build up some memories that will aid her in the journey ahead, if/when she finds herself needing to process more regarding her sister's death.

As it did last year the orange butterfly weed was in full bloom on the anniversary of Nora's death. And many other tastes and sights around us are also reminders, though I feel like I'm savoring them more this year than I did in 2008 - I had my first blueberry of the year on June 4th and while I remember thinking a lot about Nora while I ate blueberries in the days following her death, those days feel like a bit of a blur. We are also definitely enjoying much more produce from our garden this year because of the many hours Jason has been able to devote to it - thanks to my maternity leave!! Currently we are enjoying red onions, kale, swiss chard, lambs quarter, lettuce, snow peas, sugar snaps, various kinds of tea, nettles, and the hull peas are just about to come in. The weeds got the best of our spinach bed but we enjoyed many spinach salads before Jason mowed it off to get ready to plant the next crop in those beds. Kali and I are also enjoying eating our way to the mailbox these days, or just making trips out to the driveway for the sole purpose of snacking on mulberries. There is a batch of vanilla pudding in the fridge waiting to be eaten with mulberries.

I can't end a post without some "Alida-news." Last night I was convinced she couldn't possibly be my daughter. Here is how the nighttime went. She has started to make it very clear that she is ready for bed sometime in the 8 to 8:30pm range. This does not mean nursing to sleep in my arms - this means being put in her little swaddle sack and laying horizontal on the bed. She'll get a bit more cranky as she communicates with us that she is tired. I'm often trying to finish up one more thing, like a domino game with Kali and Jason last evening. When I take her into our bedroom and start changing her she calms down and when I wrap her little arms tight and velcro her shut she gives me a big grin. I turn off the light and then go about with the final clean up for the evening and getting myself ready for bed. She blinks and looks around the room, turning her head from side to side. I keep checking in on her assuming she must need me, must need to nurse to fall asleep, etc... Well, last night she didn't nurse at all after I put her in bed. She just eventually fell calmly asleep and slept for over 6 hours until she roused me around 3:30am to eat. This I am not used to yet, but I promise that I will be able to get used to it!! It's just so interesting to note, what I've always heard and believed, that every child is so unique and different. This difference is just particularly striking to me since sleep was very different with both Kali and Nora. We'll see what happens when I transition back to work and am not available to nurse Alida as desired throughout the day. Who knows, maybe she'll surprise us and also love the bottle - which we need to try soon! I imagine the chances are pretty good she might if her big sister is feeding her - though she is pretty fascinated with her Daddy these days too. We had a family meeting last evening to continue the conversation about getting ducks. We always end our meetings with a family hug. It was Alida's first family meeting since we haven't managed to squeeze one in since her arrival late March. That family hug felt so wonderful!! I love the people I live with!!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Napping alone!

Yes, that is right. I just left our bedroom where Alida is all swaddled up taking a nap on our bed. While she fell asleep I found myself reading through these early June days in 2008 on our Cascades of Light ( blog. I may have drifted off to sleep there beside Alida if I didn't desperately need a tissue by the end of my reading. Life feels so good and full and beautiful right now. I don't often know how to hold together the absolute delight we take in Alida's growth and development with the deep feelings of loss of something so precious when I read about the days of letting go around the time of Nora's death. I was so grateful this week for a little orange butterfly that I came upon sitting on my shoe as I entered the house. It flew around the porch area long enough for me to take its picture. Orange butterflies have been a sweet reminder of Nora's spirit set free.

It sometimes seems that Alida and Nora don't have all that much in common, even though they have more than what comes immediately to mind, especially if we think outside of the realm of normal baby looks and developmental milestones. The main one I'm thinking of right now is that they both adore Kali. She was and is the sweetest big sister!! I'm so glad that Nora had her and that Alida has her to experience life with!!

We keep thinking that Alida couldn't possibly get any cuter, and then she does. She is "talking" a lot now and she has a lot to say sometimes. Jason is in Pulaski, VA this week working at some rebuilding after the recent tornadoes. He is going to note so many changes in her just after four days (and I should note that I would NOT be doing this blog entry if it were not for my mom who has been here helping this week and is currently cleaning my house while I type!!).

And before it becomes ancient history, one picture of our first brood of chicks successfully hatched from a broody hen. She is such a good mamma hen and watching the chicks "learn the ropes" from her has been really fun. They hatched on Jason's dad's birthday and the second brood started their hatch on my dad's birthday. We'll have an easier time than normal remembering those dates!!

More later but for now I'd like to be able to say that I did this entire blog entry during Alida's nap. :)