A Denver Home Companion | learning the art of sabbath

from my morning journal, 5/28/2014 at 5:15 AM:

with two small children it seems near impossible to find time for rest and reflection. by the time ramona’s quiet time and harriet’s nap time roll around at noon (after an early morning wake-up call from the two of them) i can barely muster the desire to wash the growing pile of dishes in my sink. i settle into the couch or my “office” chair and zone out to TV shows or mindlessly return simple emails or putz with my ever growing “to-do” list, of which i get little done.

but it’s clear –many of us can sense it in our hearts– that time set aside for prayer and meditation does immense things to rejuvenate our hearts and minds, readying us for the daily work and tasks ahead.

to be continued. interrupted by waking children.

i love this entry in my journal. so apropos pos of my life these days.

i intend, every morning, to wake up early to either go for a run or set aside some meditation and sabbath time. to rest. to reflect. to gather myself. wake up slowly and alone. i’m inspired by the obvious evidence of how well i do on days i wake up early and spend some time in my thoughts and in prayer. and i’m further encouraged by books like the one i’m reading now (well, intermittently): sabbath: finding rest, renewal, and delight in our busy lives by wayne muller.

two little ones can really screw that up. they both wake up so so early, especially harriet these days (she’s got a morning poop that is seriously timed to the minute). so i’m learning to spend my sabbath with them instead of alone: lounging at home, picking grass, making up stories, playing dress up, folding laundry, drinking beer on the sofa (well, the girls drink some variation of milk), eating mindfully (whether that’s dinnertime or popsicle treats on the front steps). slowing down at home is the only way i have found to successfully make up for my current inability to carve out some morning solo quiet time.

and as i feel this time at home with them passing more and more quickly? i’ll gladly practice my sabbath with them, quietly praying and hoping that they take some of that and learn to carve out quiet moments in their own grown-up days.

A Denver Home Companion | six years ago

oh bubs. we were some skinny punks back then.

ever since we met my cup has only always been so so full; my luck has always been so so good.

i love you. happy anniversary.

A Denver Home Companion | harriet zona 4 months

dear miss etta z,

i cannot believe you are four months old already. you fit in just perfectly with our little family.

i cannot imagine mornings without your full-body-face-squishing pandiculation as i un-velcro you from your swaddle. i cannot imagine greeting friends and strangers without your million watt smile and bright eyes. i cannot imagine breakfast time without the way your sister engages with you — making silly faces and voices to make you grin. i cannot imagine smaller laundry loads devoid of your drool-drenched clothes.

i cannot imagine outings without your little chubby body accompanying mine — on picnic blankets during soccer, in my lap while we sit in the river, around my waist while i wear you, or gazing back at me content while i push you in the stroller. i cannot imagine noon without getting you ready for nap time — swaddling you up just right, nursing you, and setting you down to fall asleep on your own. or bedtime, where the ritual is essentially the same except you also get some back rubs and thigh kneading and we roll your little burrito body around on the bed. this is followed by kissing you over and over again on the cheeks, which promptly gets you squealing and giggling. i do not want to imagine life without your sweet giggle.

not all mamas get this with their little ones. recently we learned of some heartbreak people we love have experienced when their babes were taken to heaven much too soon and unexpectedly. and so this month i held you even closer, inhaled your scent even deeper, and said prayers of thanks for all i’ve been given that i deserve no more than anyone else.

for you are wonderfully and awesomely made. and though you are my daughter you are not mine. you are child of our Lord’s, a daughter of the earth. and for however long you are entrusted to me –short or (i desperately pray) long– i will love you fiercely and humbly.

i love you. love, mama

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A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

dear ramona,

as i type this it is 9:16 on tuesday evening, july 15th. your third birthday. you are on the futon eating strawberries and watching the lego movie with papa. today has been a very good day. for the record, you don’t typically stay up this late. in fact, many moms i know are flabbergasted that i put you to bed between 6:00 and 7:00. however, birthdays are so so special. at least papa and i think so. so, basically, you get to do whatever you want to do on your birthday. and, thus, today was a very good day.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

before i get started on how awesome our day was, can i just tell you how freaking weird it is to have a three year old?! i can’t believe you are three already! i can still vividly remember the day i first met you (which we revisited over pancakes this morning) and since then time has flown. seriously. they (they being every parent before me) tell you that it goes by in a blink of an eye. boy, they were not lying. it’s easy to forget that when the tough stages seem so long (newborn sleepless nights, infant teething, toddler surliness) but always in hindsight those more difficult, trying bits are always just that. bits. bits out of larger chunks of speedy awesomeness. bc that’s what it feels like to be your mom. just chunks of days filled w awesomeness. then a bit of holy shit. and then back to chunks of awesomeness. thank you for being so awesome. you are three, girl! it has been so much fun getting here.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

so july 15, 2014. you woke up later than usual (thank you so much) and eased yourself outta bed and onto mr. hippo [readers: he’s a large pillow-shaped stuffed hippo]. you two had a chat. i made my way down bc i couldn’t wait to tell you happy birthday. it is, after all, the first year where you have been old enough to anticipate your birthday. you’ve been planning it and talking about it for at least the past two months. which is, like, eternity for an almost-three year old. i sang you happy birthday and you threw your arms around my neck. you were so excited. it was adorable.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

papa made raspberry-vanilla pancakes and scrambled eggs. i made the table and the doors pretty. you couldn’t wait to blow out the candles. we spilled watermelon-pink-lemonade-coconut-water drink all over the table in our excitement to celebrate. mama forgot the candles but you didn’t forget to remind me. ugh. i love how your brain works.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

after breakfast, we sat on the couch and watched you open up the presents from us. you are so cute in how you spend such good time w each present after you open it: taking a good look at it, telling us what you see, trying to figure it out before you move onto the next one. your economy of movement and focus isn’t always precise but it sure is beyond your actual years.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

papa left for work so he could get back early to celebrate the late afternoon with us. so you and i settled in and played in the basement while harriet took her morning nap. when she was up, we were all ready to head out on a walk to tattered cover, which was followed by a pizza slice at anthony’s and then a walk back home.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

the way home took us past the denver skate park. you floored mama by not only asking to go to the skate park before you had even seen it (or ever been there before) but also by promptly and unabashedly wheeling your bike right up to the first bowl (i don’t actually know what anything at a skate park is called bc that is one thing i have no familiarity with whatsoever) and diving right on in. fearless. dare devil. girl, you seriously are going to do some amazing things in life bc i don’t know any other three year old or thirty year old that would tackle something so foreign and unfamiliar and new to them with such courage and confidence and non-plussed, bad-assed attitude.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

but i shouldn’t be surprised! you’ve always faced challenges head on. you might pull the shy card now and then but, overall, you’re up for anything, scared of nothing, eager to try new things, and also conquer them. today was no different. and it was extra special for me to watch you do this on the day of your third birthday. it just seemed so apt.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

you’re silly, ramona. (see the photo above? you learned you can roll your tongue [something inherited from your papa] and find any excuse to do so.) you make me laugh. you make me beam. i am so proud to be your mama.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

and more and more you and i have become a team. you seem to be catching on to how much fun we have together. we have inside jokes. we have tickle fights. we have daily “rituals” have activities we do each day that make us happy and smiley and giggly. we have ongoing stories and conversations. you tell me to “don’t be too serious” or to “smile and be happy” if i need that reminder. and i am amazed at how much you offer to me: “i love you.”

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

and the way you include your sister! you search for her first thing in the morning or after your nap. you work hard to make sure she’s content: pacifier, smiley faces, tickling her toes. someday she’ll join in on the inside jokes we have together and i’m so proud at what you are doing now to make her feel loved and included even though she can’t can’t quite keep up on her own yet. i’ve told you this but: you are such a kind, loving, fun big sister. thank you for making it easy on mama.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

ramona. after some quiet time to recharge from our long walk, we got a special visit from lashley and koan, who popped by just to see you and say happy birthday! (kola: if you couldn’t tell she was short on sleep and long on sugar…). you seriously are so so loved by so many great people.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

from that (i know. can you believe we’re not done?!) we went on to lakeside amusement park to give you a ride on the ferris wheel. this year you were finally tall enough for it and you’d been wanting to try it since last season. after we whet your whistle with that you wanted more. you went on the matterhorn and the flying dutchmen with your mama! and, then, you even begged for more. all our tickets were gone so it was time to go. but we’ll be back. seeing you “living on the edge” for your three years of life is amusing and exhilarating. you’ve got way more courage than i ever had as a little one. i am thoroughly impressed.

A Denver Home Companion | ramona turns 3

and that’s what brings us here. you (now asleep curled up into papa, who is also snoozing) on the futon with the lego movie going on. it’s so dear. happy third birthday, sweet minka moo. thank you for your zest, your spirit, your silliness, your listening, your new ideas, your patience, your spunk. thank you for your goofy faces and voices, your persistence, your make believe, your willfulness. thank you for being you.

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i love you. love, mama.

wasn’t ramona’s party fabulous looking?! i couldn’t have done it without the help of party planner extraordinaire, nicole, from hey! party collective. she’s also my new business partner in our event space, 3126. more information on that awesomeness soon…

A Denver Home Companion | photos of etta zA Denver Home Companion | photos of etta z

ramona would only be able to sleep if slung up on me or if i was next to her in bed. i thought this was adorable. this was also doable since i had no other children and nothing to do except hang out with her.

harriet seemed to know, right out of the gate, that those sleeping habits would not be as easy for me to accommodate. so she takes two power naps in her car seat or in the sling while we’re out and about in the first part of the day — never staying asleep for more than 20 minutes. but never cranky about it either.

then she takes one four-hour nap around noon. one more power nap comes sometime in the early evening. and then she goes to bed promptly and easily around 7:30 or 8:00. no fuss. no hysterics. swaddle. hat. ceiling fan. a quick nurse on each side. and then down in the co-sleeping pillow. often a little awake, falling asleep on her own. WHAT?

i never thought a baby could go to bed so easily. cross your fingers this isn’t just a phase. it blows my mind every time i put her down.

thank you sweet baby, for knowing just what your mama needed.

what are you little one’s sleeping habits? did it change much from kiddo to kiddo? what tricks worked for you?