February 2015 archive

Missed Buses & Baby Talk

By Natalie

This morning, we missed the bus.

It was to arrive late for the two hour delay, and we missed it. I was granted extra time, and we missed it. Within the ten minute window I opened the front door to peer out the storm door just in case the bus showed up early. Caleb was ready to go, with his back pack on, but I found myself in between burping Grant after his bottle, and putting on my shoes so I was ready to run out. Apparently the bus in the morning is different from the afternoon bus so when a bus stopped at the end of the driveway that I didn’t recognize, I took too long to ponder the fact that it indeed was his bus. “Come on Caleb!” I shouted, and grabbed his hand to catch it, but the bus drove off. “Well that’s that.” I thought, looking down at Ryder who was staring back at me like “What’s going on? What’s the rush?”

“We’ve got to get you dressed silly boy.” I said, while he sat in his jammies.

It was a beautiful frigid 15 degree morning in Charlotte, and I would have never enjoyed that freezing air had I not played tetris with car seats in my car this morning. So many buckles. So many boys. Once I rounded them up I hopped in the driver’s seat to head to Caleb’s school much to the boys confusion. Their faces read “Where are you taking us?” and “Who cares? We’re going on an adventure!” All at the same time.

So we get to the school and I have a plan. Grant in the car seat on my left arm, Ryder holding my right hand. Then I filled Caleb in. “Caleb, you hold Ryder’s hand, and you don’t let it go until we’re inside.” Across the parking lot and into the front office I signed Caleb in and headed to his classroom to drop him off. “We made it.” I told Ryder. “Almost half an hour later, and we’re headed back home!” Then Ryder scrunched his face, and laughed. As always when I say something silly to him.

Back at the house around lunchtime I realized some things…

It’s official. All this time, and I’ve finally developed my boy vocabulary. Including all dialects of vroom sounds and rocket take offs. It’s taken some practice, but I’d like to believe the boys are impressed. It’s nearly impossible to play with little boys unless you’re able to produce such sounds, and nearly impossible to entertain babies for prolonged periods of time without staying animated.

I’ve also noticed that I am unable to feed Grant with out making odd shapes with my mouth. He opens his mouth for the next bite, and I can’t help but create an O with my own mouth. He takes the bite and then pauses. “Uh oh” I’ll think to myself. “He’s realized it’s carrots.” Well, let’s be honest sometimes I think it to myself, and sometimes I mention it to Ryder who is much too preoccupied with his own lunch.

While we’re on the topic of Ryder and his lunch… You know how they say when you get married sometimes you eat more because you’re mirroring your husband? Well, I’ve found that when I’m around kids I want to eat the things they’re eating. When I was a kid’s church teacher I’d go around pouring them Goldfish, and then be like “Oh what’s this? An extra dixie cup? Don’t mind if I do…” Don’t even get me started on those squeezable applesauce packs. I like applesauce too. But that’s ok, I’ll skip the convenience and buy myself a giant jug of it to put in my own containers. I’m an adult now, I should be eating my applesauce with a spoon. Right?

Quickly trying to get a smile back on Grant’s face rather than a sad look of betrayal I smile wide, and say “It’s gooood Grant, nom nom nom nom.” In the babiest of baby voices. He ponders my words, his eyes gazing at the expressions on my face that he’s still learning. Then.. a smile, and maybe even a coo if I’m lucky. Orange drool is spilling out but that’s alright, he’s happy. Now he’s ready to try another bite. Some days we go on like this the entire feeding. Some days he’s into it, and let’s face it some days not even we adults want to eat our peas and carrots.

Before I Pass

By Natalie

At first I thought I may be a little young to be thinking about the end of my life. Then I realized that if I don’t come to terms with the fact that one day my life will end, will I ever take any risks? Will I ever be willing to uncover a boldness in myself to make difficult decisions, and attempt things that scare me?

If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.

-Lemony Snicket

I used to hate being home alone. Hate sitting in my own living room because the door was near the couch, and what if someone came knocking? I hated going places on my own, because I’d see a sketchy dude and think up the worst. My mom was a single parent to three girls and in desperate attempts to protect us we learned to be extra cautious. But as I got older this caution turned into paralyzing fear. Leaving me uncomfortable around most men I came across, building up what if scenarios, and afraid of putting myself in a situation where I may be hurt. Then Brandon said “Pack your bags.” The day he got a new job, and I got thrusted into this unfamiliar place. There was no room for being afraid anymore. I had to explore on my own, and after getting over a smidge of culture shock I made it. I’m not sure I’ve quite overcome my fear, but I have definitely broken a large chunk of the bondage that fear held over me. And now, I’ve learned something. That sometimes you just have to throw yourself into your fear, and take control of it. Because living in fear or hurt is hardly living.

rp_image2-1024x1024.jpgThe truth is I have to choose happiness now. Live in the “Why not’s?” Because who knows when my heart will stop ticking…

Life is too precious to submit to fear’s heavy bondage.

Too short to be dragged through our past when we need to let it go.

Life is too magnificent to spend our days in silent war with ourselves.

Too brief to not love unconditionally.

Too unforgiving to make the same mistake twice.

Too quick to let people in your life go unappreciated.

Too beautiful to hold on to relationships that are damaging.

Too authentic to not be honest with yourself and others… God is the author of your story, you are merely the storyteller.

I never imagined myself as the memoir type. I have notebooks full of high school creative writing fiction I’m too embarassed to share. I think during that time I was desperate to create other worlds that were safe, and made sense. Now that I’ve figured a few things out the hard way I’ve grown to enjoy this world. Here I’ve been for the past year docummenting my life as I live it. I realized the other day, these are pretty much my memoirs. And forgive me while I boast a bit, but I’m so proud of myself for continuing these memoirs as long as I have. They’ve allowed me to let certain things go, and learn more about myself in the process. It’s been a complicated journey where I’ve balanced on the fine line of emotion and forgiveness… Before I pass I want to make sure that I explored all the opportunities I wished for. I want to look back on these memoirs with feelings of nostalgia. I want to live a life that was surrounded by people who care for me, and support me being ME. I want a life that was well traveled, and fearless. One that our future children could admire. They’re big dreams, I’m aware.. But I have today, tomorrow, and how ever many more days I’m blessed with to figure it out.

To My Sisters

By Natalie

imageIt’s been six months since we’ve built a new life for ourselves in NC, and I have to admit that I’m a tad surprised this post wasn’t written sooner. These months that we’ve spent apart have begun to stretch my relationship with my sisters.

Lately… I’ve been thinking about them. Wanting to call, with no particular thing in mind to talk about. I’ve been feeling the definite absence of them. Yep, I downright miss those girls.

I spoke to my middle sister just days ago, for one quick thing. She answered the question I had for her, and promptly said she’d talk to me later. A sudden bleakness swept over me. “That’s it?” I thought. I checked the clock, who told me it was only 10am. Nadir was in the middle of her workday. Our conversation ended there, left out on the line, to be picked up another day. The phone calls, the texts, they’re too short, too little, how will they ever be enough?

Isn’t it interesting how I have a single friendship with Nadir in which we discuss our love for the elizabethan era, books, crafts, and how we can better support our other sister. And I have a completely different friendship with Nem in which we often discuss recent events, marriage, work, and our new niece arriving in May. I’d imagine that they too must have a similar friendship with each other that I know nothing about. I wonder what that must be like. Then there’s the bond the three of us share when we’re all together. Where all of our similarities mesh, and the pieces of one heart are expressed through three different personalities.

The fact that you’re stuck with your sisters is what makes them such wonderful friends. Whenever they annoy you, you’re forced to figure it out. Much like a marriage, only with more moodswings. If you’re lucky enough to have two, you’ll often find that the other sister takes up her duty as middle man. Always there to bring you each to your senses.

“Sure Natalie.” They’ll each say. “She’s just being herself, you know how she is when she’s tired, hungry, upset, annoyed, hurt… and fill in the blank”.. And it’s true. I do know how they are in all of those scenerios. Because I’ve been looking up to them since I was small. I know how they act, and react. I know what they look like when they don’t do their hair in the morning. I know that Nadir has always been ready to be the mother she is becoming, and that Nem falls asleep easiest on the couch with a blanket. It’s a beautiful gift, to know someone so closely.

I’ve been writing some open letters lately. It’s my way of being certain that the one’s I love know they are not forgotten. It seemed necessary to write one for them.

To you both,

The relationships we have with one another are the most complex relationships I think we’ll ever have. Our pasts have been intertwined. Our presents separated, and who knows what our futures will entail. But the three of us, we’re made up of the same things.

When we had no else, we had eachother. And of course the occasional Dairy Queen blizzard to make things better.

Thank you for helping me down the slides, literal playground slides, and figurative life slides. For all those special years we had together, as I’m sure we can all admit living with a guy just is not the same. For protecting me as if I were your own little cub to care for. For aggreeing with me when I need someone on my side, and for hitting me with the truth when I’m blinded. For guiding me, and encouraging me. For teaching me, and being proud of me.

With love and longing,

Your baby sister

The Boys, & Their Nanny

By Natalie

There are three little words that hit me with an irresistable desire to satisfy. “Natalie, get me.” After hearing those words for the first time I checked over my shoulder and saw Caleb’s face lit up with the widest smile, his knees bent in preparation to be chased.

With much amusement I started toward him, and from there it was all out mayhem. Caleb’s surprise sent him careening around the corner expelling all sorts of excited shrieks. We went on like this for a few go arounds when I decided to turn back and surprise him in the opposite direction. “BOO!” I shouted. And before he could make a run for it I scooped him up and tossed him onto the couch, pillows falling behind him as he rolled and squirmed his way off.

Then… those words again. “Natalie, get me!”

Because for a child, catching them once, or twice, or seven to twenty times is simply never enough.

So we continued for a while, running around the house. Me chasing Caleb, three year old Ryder chasing me, and baby Grant on his play mat observing the whole spectacle. After a few more circles around the kitchen and living room, Caleb would get tossed on one couch, I’d turn to grab Ryder, toss him into a bed of pillows, and then make a run for it so they could chase me. Very quickly after this day I learned to never wear socks when two little boys are chasing you. I took a sharp left turn from the entryway into the living room, and there my balance failed me. I laid there on the floor clutching my leg which later produced a baseball sized bruise. Since when do I bruise like that?

My agony was quickly forgotten when two bubbly boys ran over to my rescue. “Oh wait,” I realized. They’re boys. They ran over not to help me up, but to climb all over me, and laugh hysterically at my fall as if I had put on the greatest show for them. And you know… they made that embarassing tumble all the better.

This happened almost three months ago. Three months and I still remember how sweet it was. In that short amount of time baby Grant has started eating solids, preparing himself to crawl, and growing too much week by week.

I’ve developed these three little emotional attachments that I think about when it’s quiet at home.. All weekend, when it seems like forever since I’ve seen them.. And pretty much whenever somone talks to me about children. These three attachments.. they’re the little boys I nanny. Most days I’m left with sidewalk chalk on my boots, and mashed peas on my pants. I come home telling B stories about my new favorite book to read Eggbert the Slightly Cracked Egg, who travels the world painting famous cracked things like the liberty bell, and volcanos and such.

Last week my lunch buddy was making silly faces at me with his peanut butter and honey sandwich. Today, I played peek-a-boo for I don’t even know how long, because baby giggles make time stand still. Baby hands reaching out for your face melt your heart. They make it way too hard to ever stop.

This job… It’s packed with the sweetest moments I’ve ever been a part of.