September 28, 2012

Wren at 9 months

I blinked and it happened.  My sweet little bird is 9 months old!  She does a lot of growing on the sly, you see - not much fanfare for her milestones as they happen.  One day she was a sweet snuggly infant, and suddenly she's a ton of personality shoved into a tiny body, keeping up with all of us like it's no big deal.

It's hard to explain.  She just carves out a place for herself - doesn't need us to do it for her.  These photos say so much about the fireball she is becoming.
The sweet, traditional photo.  Thanks, Wren - this one is frame-worthy.
The worried look.  I'm telling you, she was born with it.
She loves to play peek-a-boo!
And she loves any attention from her sister.
Even if it's harsh fashion advice.
That bow's not really working on your head.
Even if it's just to serve as her pillow.
Especially if she actually let's her play along.
At 9 months old Wren:
- claps and babbles all the time (mama, baba, dada, a wide variety of hissing noises)
- crawls, climbs, and generally tumbles about
- has 8 teeth (holy cow, that's a lot)
- is a bit of a bruiser.  Seriously, the girl can takes serious hits without so much as a whimper
- hates baby food but enjoys the finer delicacies of canned vegetables, beans and cheerios
- chugs formula like a boss
- hulks out every time I put her in the car seat (contortions, hissing, spitting - the works)
- laughs more for Ellie than anyone else
- actually eats books.  Gnaws the spines, shreds the pages - it's barbaric
- is flirting with stranger anxiety (dear Lord, don't let it last)
- crawls up to me for the express purpose of biting
- smiles very easily 
- starts every morning with a sweet hug around the neck (and a good 5 min chew on the crib)

Did you catch the recurring theme here?
 I really think she's part piranha.
Are you sure these blocks are solid wood?
P.S. She has a fabulous physique.
And she loves to bury her face in that pillow.
P.P.S.  5 minutes after our photo shoot she got her hands on one of Ellie's markers.
You got a problem with that?

September 26, 2012

Sweet Summer Memory

Really, I can almost taste them.  Blueberry picking was one of the highlights of my summer!  Just looking at these photos takes me back to the field on that warm, muggy day.
Ellie's technique was to hold the bucket with one hand, insert blueberries with the other.
Come back, Great Grandma - you know you miss this!
(shameless tactic, I know)
Wren slept like a little angel the whole time (those eyelashes!!)
and woke up super excited for a hay bale photo-op.

September 21, 2012

And Into the Light

My apologies about the photos.  I wasn't focused on documenting the day as much as I was on being present in it.

Life has been full of firsts since Mom died.  I went to my first support group at the beginning of the month.  It was a strange experience - sitting with these other people who had suffered a loss similar to my own.  Not the same loss, (because no one experiences it in exactly the same way) but there was still an uncomfortable sort of camaraderie.  Not sure it was exactly healing, but it wasn't terrible either.

I'm glad I went though, because it was in this meeting that I learned about the Out of the Darkness benefit walk that was happening in Ithaca just a few days later.  I decided I wanted to do something to honor my mother, to feel like I was helping.  So I signed up to walk.  I put a little note up on Facebook, just in case anyone wanted to donate.

I was shocked by the feedback.  Moved to tears, really.  The outpouring of support from friends was more than I could have ever hoped for.  And I know they wouldn't want me to make a big deal about it, but I'd like to list them here, so I'll forever have a record of how many people showed their love and support in such a tangible way.

Jim Aronson
Rachel Erickson
Bea Ward
Jessica Hernandez
Holly Flanagan
Allison Barnes
Leila McCarrey
Deb Black
Sarah Hawks
Megan Trueblood
Carly Maready
April Dickson
Carrie Todd
Kimberly (and Matt) Teitter
Andrew Marshall
Derrick Turley
Caitlin Jones
And the three anonymous donations which I will attribute to every person I've ever known.
Because you are often surprised by the people who will help you when you need it.
And the people who couldn't donate, but still sent a kind thought in my direction.
I felt those generous wishes as well.

If I had a garden and a butt-load of money, I'd install benches with your names on them.  That is how much your kindness and generosity mean to me.  Thank you, thank you - from the bottom of my heart.

So the day came for my first suicide prevention walk - and I was a bit of a mess.  As soon as we got there I broke into tears.  I cried because I didn't want to have to be there, honoring someone I hadn't wanted to lose.  We were given colored beads according to the reason we were there.  Gold if you had lost a parent, red for those who lost a spouse, white for the mourning parents, and blue for those who were there to raise awareness and make a change.  I cried when they read the names of all the loved ones we were there to remember.  Far too many names.  Cried to see their photographs on the memory quilts.  Smiling faces with troubled, weary eyes.  The first part of that morning was so very hard.

Then, we walked.

There is something quite healing about the walk itself.  Feeling the fresh air and the wind on my face.  Spending time outside with my family, moving in a direction, allowing my grief to subside as I focused on the beating of my own heart and rejoiced that we are all still here together.

During the walk I told Joe that sometimes I feel like I don't fit in this group of survivors of suicide loss.  Because unlike the sudden and surprising act that took so many of their loved ones - the way she left was much slower in my mind.  Almost an eventuality at the end of her steady, years-long decline.  We discussed that to really honor her memory, I'd like to do some meaningful work in the field of addiction.  For it was a combination of addiction and depression that plagued my mother for so many years, that eventually led to her premature passing.

We talked about planting a tree, about making final arrangements for a headstone, about how we could continue to honor her as the years pass, about how important it is for those of us still here to feel we have a connection to those on the other side.  She is fine, I know.  It's the rest of us I feel for.

After the walk, everyone's spirits were brightened.  We had hot dogs and listened to talks by the people who sit on the other end of that phone line - people who give their time because they really do care.  That was a strong theme of the day.  That people care, and there is always somewhere you can turn to find a listening ear and an understanding heart.  Over three hundred of us walked that day, and together we raised more than $13,000 for research, for outreach programs, for the hope that the future can be brighter than the past.  What a day!  It was hard and it was beautiful.  And it felt so good to do something.