Sunday, February 27, 2011

Sunrises, Solitude and Burrito-Wrapped Sweetness

It took five solitary footsteps to realize I was the only one up at 6 o'clock this morning. The house was uncharacteristically silent as I padded down the hallway and past the kitchen window. I did a double take and then raced into the laundry room to grab my camera bag. The sun was just beginning to peek out from behind the soft clouds and I wanted to be sure to capture it when it did.

I snapped a few photos when I heard the patter of little feet scampering down the hallway. I walked inside to find a tousled hair little fella wearing nothing but a Charlie Brown shirt and some white baseball-themed little fella underwear. I asked him if he would watch the sunrise with me and as he sleepily nodded yes I wrapped him in a blanket and we ventured outside to a front porch rocking chair to enjoy our own private show.

I sat down with my burrito child and began to rock back and forth slowly while puffy dark clouds crossed in a single line formation across the sky. The birds chirped cheerily in the distance as we rocked back and forth, back and forth..... Jacob's contentment spurred my own as I watched him watching the sky with wonder. I began to sing to him a song my Mom sang to me as a child....

"Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.......
sunshine, in my eyes, can make me cry.....
sunshine, on the water, looks so lovely...
sunshine almost always makes me high..."

As the sun dipped behind the clouds again, Jacob turned around to face me and wrapped his arms around my neck. I placed my forehead against his peering into his blue eyes with my own and asked him, "are you happy?" He nodded yes and then softly laid his head on my shoulder.

I savored more than a sunrise this morning. I soaked in the simple solitude of mother and child enjoying a quiet moment together... a moment when it didn't matter what the house looked like, or how much laundry still needed to be done. It was just me and my child rocking back and forth surveying God's handiwork.

It was a good morning indeed.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Morning Conversation

I talked with my child this morning. This went beyond the normal conversation between Momma and Jacob (my 3 year old). It went beyond "PopTart. Handy Manny." (which translates into "Dear Mother. Would you be so kind as to cook me a breakfast pastry and then allow me to eat said pastry whilst watching my favorite cartoon character fix things?")

Instead, it went something like this:

(setting the scene: Katie on couch under blanket because she was rooted out of her bed by a 3 year old with a penchant for sleeping horizontally. Jacob wakes up to find her gone, comes running in the living room and the conversation ensues.)

"Good morning, Jacob..."

"Ta mornin Momma"

"Why were you sleeping in Mommy's bed last night? You haven't done that in a long time."

"Der were piders and snakes in my bad-tub and dey were cwawlin on the bad-tub and dey were..."

"Wait. There were spiders and snakes crawling in your bathtub?"

"Yes. And dinosaurs."

"Dinosaurs were in your bathtub, too?"

"Yes. Cause my bad-tub was wheely, wheely, wheelllllly big."

"Well I guess it would have to be, wouldn't it?"

"Yeah and the dinosaur had red and blue on him and had wheelllly big hands."


"Yeah and the dinosaur was scared of the pider too and jumped out my bad-tub. And I don't like dinosaurs cause dey scare me and dey don't love Jacob. Jacob does not like dinosaurs but he does like Mommy."

"Well that's good to know. You know dinosaurs aren't really real anymore, right? I mean they were a long time ago (am I really trying to explain extinction to a three year old?) but they all died and they aren't real anymore."


"Well because there are only so many of some kinds of animals and once they all die there aren't anymore left."


:: silence ::

"Hey, how about a Pop Tart?"

Friday, February 18, 2011

Is a Haircut and Blowdry Included with this Shampoo?

Yeah, I've had quite a year so far. First I crash a funeral and now this. I've been told once or twice to write a book about this adventure that is my life. For the first time, I might actually consider it. Cause Erma Bombeck ain't got nothin on this.

It was all a blur, really. Just an hour or so ago I was going about my daily routine which, on this day, included a quick swing through the car wash. How to convey what happened in words is going to be somewhat of a challenge because this truly was an "on location situation." But, I shall try.

As I pulled up to the attendant to select and pay for my car wash, I rolled down my window. No big deal, right? Normally. But, you see, this is the window on the side of my car that hit a deer a couple months ago and I completely forgot that it does not roll up quickly. That's actually an understatement. I have watched molasses pour out of a sticky bell jar faster than my window rolls up. Do you see where I am going with this?

So I pay the attendant who instructs me to slowly pull forward. He then begins yelling at me in Spanish and all I understand is "NO HIT BRAKES!" So, I am trying my best to comply as I come to the tragic realization that my window is not rolling up. The HotMamaMobile is slowly being sucked into the Vortex of High Velocity Soap Spray and I cannot get it to roll up. Supersonic jets of white suds are being shot with machine gun intensity straight into my driver side window. As I frantically punched the "up" button on the arm rest, the inside of my car including my steering wheel, dash, console and ME are coated in soap suds.

Meanwhile (I wanna see if you are paying close attention...) what has Katie ALSO forgotten to do? She is so panicked about NOT hitting the brakes and getting her window to roll up, she has......yep, you guessed it......forgotten to put her car in NEUTRAL. It occurred to me that none of the washing mechanisms were coming on because I am barreling through this narrow passageway at 50 miles per hour. As I approach the exit, the two young Hispanic men that are drying off my friend Heather's car in front of me sense their impending death and start waving their hands yelling "BRAKE! BRAKE!" I slam on the brakes and come to a sudden stop, soap covered and laughing hysterically.

The manager comes over to my window--which is finally rolled up-- and asks me to follow her around the side where she asks one of the cars in the front of the line if I can cut in and have another go at it. At this point, I am crying because I am laughing so hard and wonder what others must think of the sudsy minivan-turned-winter parade float that is cutting in line.

So, I approach the scene of my latest Episode of Tragic Embarassment, keep my window rolled up, place my car in NEUTRAL as soon as I am jacked up on the spinning roller thingy and I come out nice and clean. And, although the rest of my visit was without incident, I am sure I am now a legend at the Auto Express Washateria.

But I will say this... the left side of my hair has never been shinier.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Soul Food of a Different Sort

There are certain non-earth-shattering experiences in life that make me want to write about it right in "pull-the-car-over-and-grab-a-napkin-and-anything-to-write-with" kind of right then. This evening was one of those times.

The sun was setting as I pulled onto Highway 31 to go pick up Jacob and I couldn't help but be mesmerized by the unusual cloud patterns and how the fading sunlight illuminated the horizon. Yes, I write about and photograph sunrises and sunsets all the time. But, this one was different.

Perhaps it was the storm front moving in from the west, but a low, dark swath of clouds stretched across the sky. All the clouds above were bathed in deep peaches and pinks with a ribbon of lavender swirled throughout. As I drove, one of my favorite songs, "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel poured out of my radio....

"...when I want to run away, I drive off in my car... but whichever way I go I come back to the place you are..."

On the rolling hillside, winter-bare trees took on a nearly magical form as their intricate branches were backlit by the stunning colors of the sunset. I have seen these same trees every day as I drive to and from the school but, on this evening, each one seemed like a masterpiece--framed only for my eyes. Their jagged branches twisted and curled toward the sky forming interlocking shapes that all but demanded my gaze.

"In your eyes, the light, the heat...I am your eyes....I see the doorways to a thousand churches...."

I don't know how to explain how taken I was by this scene. It occurred to me that in my life, I am always biding time in between the "circled" dates on the calendar--that big event, or special holidays...even visits from friends and family. Much like a roller coaster, I find myself waiting for that "high" only to come back down again to catch my breath for a few moments. But tonight was an ordinary moment turned extraordinary. It was a drive I do twice a day--sometimes more--that turned into a soothing feast for the senses.

You know, sometimes it's the down time in our everyday routine--the dips in the roller coaster ride--where beauty can be found. I found this beauty today in the colors of clouds, the silhouettes of tree branches and the words of a familiar song... food for my soul indeed.

A Bedtime Prayer

Jacob's bedtime prayer last night:

"Dear God,

Thank you for my food. And thank you for Donald Duck and thank you for Daisy Duck.


Good grief I love that child.

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Nine Years Ago Today...

9 years ago today, a baby was born. I'll never know exactly when or where, or colors were on the drapes in the hospital room, or if there was even a hospital room involved....but there is one thing that is sure about that day. My heart leapt.

You see, we had tried for eight long years to have a child but to no avail. Toward the end of that time period, my Mom and I began to look at patterns for baby clothes and she even picked out the name she wanted to be called by her grandchild(ren): Grammy. But then my focus was tossed in another direction with a hard shift to the left... in 2002, my Mom was diagnosed with cancer that spread quickly from the lung to lymph nodes to brain and eventually her bones before robbing me of that precious influence on my life in March 2003. The day of her funeral, I looked at Keith and said "Enough is enough. Life is too short. We are adopting."

One would think our adoption story began there. But it didn't. You see, on February 6, 2002 a little baby boy was born in Astrakhan, Russia...a small city just a few hundred miles from the Caspian Sea. And on that day, our journey to each other began. At almost the exact time that he was saying goodbye to his birthmother, I was saying goodbye to my own. The winding, twisting path to parenthood took 8 months until that February day, shortly after his second birthday, when I held my child in my arms for the first time.

The past 9 years have been a whirlwind of change and growth in our lives. And I would like to share this with my oldest child on his 9th birthday:

Today is the last time you will celebrate a birthday with one number in it. You are growing so fast and learning new things at a rate which continually amazes me. You are a smart, funny, stubborn, engaging, determined and loving child who brings joy to my life daily. You challenge me to be a better person and serve as a daily reminder to me to live life with zest and an appreciation for the little things. We are never without our "butting heads" times but I sense that is because are so much alike and for that, I am grateful. I want only the best for you and will continue to be here for every laugh, every smile, every tear, every bump or bruise. Although my kisses may not always magically make it better, I will always be here for you and will always be proud to call you my son.


Nine years ago today, a little boy was born. I may not have heard the first cry or have seen his first step. But I was there. I knew him in my heart long before he stepped into my arms....

Happy Birthday, Daniel. I could not love you more.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Little Pleasures of Life

I envied my child.

Just moments ago, I watched him do something he does, without fail, every morning of his little boy week. He stood there, in his comfy little "buzz jamas" (Toy Story pajamas), watching Handy Manny and eating breakfast.

So, where does the envy part come in?

Well, as he noticed me watching him, he grinned from ear to ear skipped over to my chair and gave my leg a tight hug. He then skipped back to his "spot," positioned his warm bowl of oatmeal just so, made some little boy noise of contentment and took a sip of his milk as he watched his favorite show. It was at that moment that I realized all was right in his world and just how remarkable the beauty and innocence of childhood really is. He had all he needed at that moment. Something to eat, his favorite pj's, his favorite show and his Momma right by his side.

It made me think: when is the last time I felt that content? That happy? And then it hit me... RIGHT THEN. That is when I last felt that way.

I may not have a mind unburdened by the stresses of this world...but my little boy does. I may not have all the perfect pieces of my dream morning line up for me each day... but my little boy does. And, I might not have a Mom anymore to watch me take delight in all the little pleasures of life... but he does.
And that, for me, is all the contentment I'll ever need.