kalliope pie

right foot versus left foot

Overheard from the backseat:

miss right foot [tweety voice]: You can’t sit here.
mr. left foot [growly voice]: I want to here sit too.
miss right foot: There’s no room for you.
mr. left foot: Yes there is.
miss right foot: No there isn’t. Find another chair. You’re bothering me.
mr. left foot: I want to sit here too!
miss right foot: NO!
mr. left foot: I’m gonna kick you!
miss right foot: Don’t kick me!
mr. left foot: I’m gonna kick you!
miss right foot: AhhhhHHHH! Mama! Mama! Eh, eh, eh.
ava: Don’t kick her. It’s naughty to kick. You can sit over here.

My dad always said it takes two to fight, apparently he hadn’t anticipated Ava.

gorgeous balloons in the land of giants

Sometime last year, a speaker at the mom’s group at my church made some comment about how moms need to let dads be dads. That our children have two parents for a reason and each brings unique qualities out in our children. She told us not to mother our husbands and hamper them from putting our children at risk of _______ (getting dirty, spilling, failing, falling, you fill in the blank).

So when my husband first suggested putting my baby in an open air log boat that cascades over a waterfall to plummets forty feet through the air, I didn’t balk or argue or refuse. I simply replied that it would be fun to do sometime. Emphasis on sometime. I assumed he would forget and that sometime surely would not come unit AVA was five or even better ten!

I could not have forseen that standing at a bright, sunny curb waiting for the spray of candy that is supposed to be the fourth of July parade, we would be handed tickets (lots of tickets) for that insidious place with that odious ride.

The minute the tickets hit Jack’s palm, he started spinning tales to AVA about the glories of the “fun rides” and especially the “log boats” that awaited her. And believe me when you tell a three-year-old about something exciting that is going to happen for them, they do not forget!

For the next two weeks, I heard nothing but “when Daddy takes me to the fun rides,” and “I going to go on fun rides with Daddy.” She even started creating jobs for herself just so she could earn those “fun rides.”

Last Sunday, Jack came to the firm conclusion that we needed an extra garage door opener, and it just so happened that he had a gift certificate to a hardware store that was in very close proximity to the very amusement park that we had tickets to. Even though it was nearly 7:00 at night, Jack was sure that shopping and thrill-seeking were the order of the evening. And then, AVA fell asleep in the car. It was remarkable. He could not wake her up, so we had to go home without rides. Disaster averted.

Of course, the remote didn’t work with our antiquated garage door opener. And since we have replaced every mechanical aspect of this home, why would we possibly keep an old opener? Jack was sure we needed the new opener, which meant we needed to return to the store by the rides.

Now with a fist full of tickets, a “need” to return to the store, and an animated AVA, there was no stopping the festivities. It was time to pull out the protests:

“Jack, she’s only three.”

“She’s tall enough.”

“She’s still only three and she will be scared.”

“She’ll be fine. I’ll hold her, she’ll love it!”

Once there, I tried to delay the inevitable by convincing the thrill-seekers to leave the most exciting log boat ride for last. Perhaps I was unconsciously hoping that AVA would get crabby or forget to go to the potty and that we would have to go home.

But as any mother can tell you, children only wet their clothes when you are on the third floor of the Children’s Museum six blocks from your car or when you are waiting in line at the library on a tiled floor that slopes right down to the Librarian’s open-toed sandals. It never happens when it would actually be a benefit to their safety and your sanity.

So we filled the first hour with kiddie rides.

She even got to ride in her own “gorgeous balloon!”

What more could she possible want? I was quite certain that this was really the most fun that we could have, but before I knew it we were standing in line for the infamous log ride.

Of course, they don’t send you straight to the plunge, they coarse you through roughly four minutes of tunnels, twists, and turns. And while I had anticipated that the frightening free fall, I had completely forgotten about the terrifying possibility of animated puppets. If you are at all familiar with AVA, you would be keenly aware of how sensitive she is about mechanical manikins.

It possibly all started with her grandparents life size Santa Claus that waves, sings, and says, “ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas.” AVA screamed and hid the first time she met “Boots,” and honestly refused to go into her grandparents basement for a year for fear of encountering Boots.

So you can just imagine how delighted she was to be swaying in a tippy canoe under a giant Paul Bunyan waving an equally giant ax or to have a giant blue ox spit water on her face.

She was standing up and clambering all over her dad trying to escape the giants that were surely going to get her. Did you catch that? She was standing up in a canoe that was seconds away from forty foot drop. If there was ever a time for seatbelts and safety helmets this would be the time.

Hysteria does not even begin to describe the panic that I was experiencing. In the blur that followed, Jack managed to get AVA in a seated and upright position. After my screams had ceased to ring in my own ears, I heard a little voice in the front of the canoe saying, “I didn’t get wet. Look, Daddy, I didn’t get wet.” Followed quickly by, “why were there giants in there?”

Generally I don’t go for overpriced, kitschy souvenirs, but really how often do you get a picture of your child that looks like this?
Uncle Curly, future Auntie Ebony, Sasha’s Mama, Grandma Great, Miss Lori the ballet teacher, actually everyone AVA has seen since Friday night has heard, “I went on a log ride with the giants. I was scared of the giants.”

And now that the giants have conveniently moved into the church tower across the street from our house, AVA has plenty of opportunities to spy on and hide from the giants. So now there is no possible reason to stick her on any more level four thrill rides until she is ten or at least five.

As for the old garage door opener, Jack’s planning to post it on Craig’s List:

I think it’s destined for the dump truck, but I promised not to mother him.

hope in the unseen

(originally posted 07-10-07)

When you are grieving you don’t sleep or so I have found. Whenever I heard others talk of this phenomenon, I generally envisioned the bereaved crying themselves to sleep or being overwhelmed with sad thoughts. For me, it’s not that I lie in bed despairing, it’s simply that rest alludes me.

“Woe is me! For the LORD has added sorrow to my pain. I am weary with my groaning, and I find no rest.”

I flop from his side to the night stand, the night stand to his side. I throw off the covers and pull them back on. I sigh and wait for the birds to announce the sunshine. For each morning, God opens a new window into his mercy–a gift of encouragement from a Father who does love me. So I throw off my comforter and go in search of a small, shiny package.

Over the past few weeks, these mercies have sprouted petals and arrived in a bouquet; been chopped up into savory gazpacho; been baked into a warm, sweet bread spread with an even sweeter jam; have inscribed kind and compassionate verses onto lovely cards, have taken swimsuit-AVA for a splendid morning at the pool, and have assumed many, many more disguises. Today, I found my gift on my friend Mindy’s blog.

On June 8, she posted this:

“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed….It is written: “I believed; therefore I have spoken.” With that same spirit of faith we also believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in his presence…Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (from 2 Corinthians 4)

She did not know, nor did I know, that the day she posted this was very likely the day that my body was breaking open inside. And here, before my sorrows began was the Lord sheltering me with his promises and laying out a pathway for grief.

I do feel hard pressed from every side. My heart is aching for three children waiting for me in Heaven. My arms are longing to hold a sweet, little babe. My daughter is growing older and older, and I so want her to experience the joy of siblings. My body is exhausted–three lost pregnancies and two surgeries in six months makes the prospect of a future pregnancy frightening. It’s not hard to imagine how confusing it is to desperately want something and be utterly terrified of the process.

There are moments when I feel abandoned. “Lord, how could you give me three children only to take them away so quickly?” Then I remember that the Lord stretched his hand down to the middle of highway in West Texas and touched me. How else do you explain a life-saving clot that “should not have formed and certainly should not have stayed attached.”

My heart is faint and my body groans. I am struck down, but praise Him for I AM not destroyed. How do I believe? How do I have hope? The Lord in his glorious mercy has made me a jar of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God. It is because is holding me that I can cling so desperately to him.

And I pray that I will keep my eyes fixed on what is unseen now until I awake into glory. Amen.

What strikes me so strongly as I write now into the wee hours of the morning is the reality of God’s immutability. He is truly the same God before the surgery and the same God today. He love me then; he loves me know. He cared for me then, he cares for me now. I’ve changed. My life has changed. My family has changed. But he has not. Oh the comfort to know and trust in an unchangeable, unmovable, loving God.

So tonight I thank the Lord for Mindy and for this beacon of truth in this dark valley. May it light my way back to my sleeping husband and help me find the rest hovering above me pillow. Goodnight.

evening song

(originally posted 06-21-07)

“The tenderness of God is twirling in our living room tonight” –Watermark


Sometimes the mercies of God come dressed in purple tulle and sequins with feather boa sleeves, a shiny, plastic crown, and a sparkling wand. I had come across that bit of lyric from Watermark’s song Elianna on Big Mama’s blog last night and had been pondering it all day. And then tonight as if on cue our sweet girl swirled into our living room in all her dime-store glory waving a wand and singing, “Thank you for my daddy-daddy, daddy-daddy, daddy-daddy, Thank you for my daddy-daddy, my fair lady. Thank you for my mama-mama, mama-mama, Thank you for my mama-mama, my fair lady.” It felt as though Jesus had sent us a pint-sized fairy godmother to sprinkle us with joy and merriment.

Five nights earlier, Jack and I sat in the ER and heard words that made all our joy freeze and hit the sterile floors like icicles: Ectopic Pregnancy. Two grim doctors stood in the gray holding cell where we had been kept for the past six hours gripping charts that revealed blood levels of a six to seven week pregnancy and pictures that showed an empty womb and a cyst that was covering the tube that they believed the baby to in. They explained that an emergency laparoscopic surgery was vital and would need to be performed immediately.

I just stared at them in utter disbelief. “What,” I wanted to shout, “this can’t be happening. I’m not even pregnant. I’m not. This can’t be right. Look at my chart; I’m not pregnant, I just had two miscarriages. Can I please just go home? And No, no thank you, I’d rather not have an IV. Please put that thing away. Seriously, put it away.” But I simply turned my head as the nurse guided the needle into my arm and quietly asked her to bandage it up so I wouldn’t have to look at it.

It wasn’t until several hours later that we learned how grave the situation actually was. What the doctors could not see in the ultrasound was that the little baby had already ruptured my fallopian tube, but “luckily, very luckily” it had clotted immediately and a cyst had grown over the clot. “Usually a ruptured tube has a very different outcome,” the doctor explained to Jack. “Usually it means you arrive unconscious in an ambulance with a belly full of blood. Your wife is very, very lucky.”

What she didn’t know was that when my tube was most likely breaking, I was in a Grand Caravan with my cousin and our four little girls driving 1,100 miles across one of the most barren parts of the country. On the first night of our trip, Elinor and I accidentally past through Amarillo, Texas without finding a place for dinner. It was another three hours before we found a gas station with a mini-Taco Bell stand. There is nothing, absolutely nothing out there–no gas pumps, no drinking fountains, no Paneras, no Starbucks, certainly no hospitals, just desert brush and road signs.

When I consider the rarity of the cyst and the desolate territory that I had traveled through, I know beyond all doubt that the Lord touched me and sustained me. In these darks shadows of sorrow, I have an undeniable sign that the Lord has given me life and that he wants me alive.

Why He chose to spare my life, but not the life of this baby or the other two babies; why He allows me to conceive only to take these babies to Heaven; why three of my four pregnancies have ended in surgery; how three babies could come and go before the first baby’s due date–these are the questions that I wrestle with as the long hand of the clock pushes further into the night.

“I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope.”

That His steadfast love is better than life is the hope that I have wrapped my arms around and cling to. That I am His and He is mine–no turning back. That He is the tower that I can run into and hide in as the storm rages outside threatening to tear down the walls and destroy me. Yet, I will not drown; I will not be consumed; for, he went down into the dark and silent grave and broke free shining like the sun to rescue me, to give me hope. I will awake from this dark night and I will sing in the morning.

Tonight as my tears cleanse my pillow once more, I have hope that the morning will bring new mercies and continued healing. I believe that I will always long for our three little ones whose names I hold in my heart. My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the Lord where I will embrace my children and sing for joy to the living God. So tonight, I will praise the Lord for his sweet blessing swirling in my living room–with weary eyes I will sing:

Thank you for my AVA-AVA, AVA-AVA, AVA-AVA. Thank you for my AVA-AVA, my fairest Lord!

on second thought


(Originally posted July 6, 2007)

Sometimes it is good to sleep on a decision and see what the morning brings. “Chickadee” did not settle in for a quiet night; the name fluttered around my mind long past a reasonable hour. And in the morning it was quite clear that this name would not do. It’s fine for a little, passing love name, but not for an everyday–people think of her as Chickadee–usage. And seriously, there are as many syllables in Chickadee as there are letters in her name. I’m all for keeping my child safe from crazy, online scaries, but I think I’m covered with Kalliope and Jack. And if someone was really clever and they searched for the name that means “bird” and “life,” they would find AVA anyway. There you have it, my chickadee is named AVA–she embodies all three letters of her name so fully that must be typed in caps and sometimes bold. I love you, AVA!

ready or not, here i come!

(originally posted 07.05.07)

Do you know that feeling when you are standing on the edge of dock, half naked in your foolish bikini, the July sun is coaxing round beads of moisture out of your skin while you stare down into the shimmery water? It’s looks so cool, so refreshing, so enticing yet you can’t quite make the leap from air to water–well at least I can’t. My husband and brothers laugh and laugh as they watch me prance from one end of the dock to another like the lion pacing behind the glass at the zoo, looking for that perfect place to slip in. Well, I think I just found it.

For almost a year I have been faithfully blogging the budding development of my sweet Chickadee, posting darling pictures, quoting her funny phrases, and sharing her thoughts and stories. While the friends and relatives go wild this stuff, there came a point where I wanted to write more and quote less. And then I found these hilarious blogs from these crazy. southern women. They are nuts–and I’m hooked.

I’ve been stalking these sites for about two months–green with envy for their candidness and anonynimity, oh and their community. I’m sorry but non-bloggers just don’t comment and my family falls in the non-blogger, more accurately the non-computer category. While the private baby blog is still blooming–no worries Grandma, there will be plenty of pictures for your weekly trip to the local library–I’m excited to dive into the true world of bloggers.

Here’s a peek into my anonymous life (and the funny monikers that will frequent this blog)

I’ve spent the past seven and half years married to Jack. Why should we call him Jack? For starters, I met him on a mission’s trip doing kid’s clubs ten years ago this summer. He and I were charged with writing puppet shows, and his charming puppet, Jack, quickly became everyone’s favorite. This of course resulted in a very tired arm and even more hoarse voice. When we were dating, I accidentally side-swiped his cornea with my fingernail. After a trip the ER, some pain meds, eye drops and a black patch, my brother, Moose, and I dubbed him, the One-Eyed-Jack. It did put a damper on the ensuing ping-pong tournament, but Moose donned a sympathy patch to keep things fair and square. Oh, and Jack has had more jobs and more types of jobs than probably anyone I know. So I think it would be fair to call him a Jack-of-all-Trades. When we were first married, we thought we would name our first baby, Jack, because of course it would be a boy. Five years later our doctor held up our sweet, squalling babe and my husband responded, “it’s uh, it’s uh, it’s uh uh girl! Oh she’s beautiful! She’s so beautiful.” It was definitely love at first sight. I just thought of one more. He’s going to like this one. Um, he’s two favorite television hero’s would be none other than Jack Bauer and Jack Shepard. And truly babes, you do outshine either of these men. Oh, and I have to say one non-“jack” related thing. He makes me laugh and laugh and laugh–he calls them “free jokes.”

As for our “uh girl,” her name means bird, and she is a little song bird. She has been singing ever since she discovered her vocal cords were designed for more than crying. I call her my chickadee and you can too. She sings almost as much as she talks, which is more than all the other children I know combined. And she flaps her “wings.” Seriously, whenever she gets upset or excited her little arms wave up and down in a frantic sort of hysteria. And her jumpy little legs generally join the commotion as if she was going to lift off and fly away. Her name also means life. I think this blog will only begin to unpack how she shines into my life and helps me to see life again, through her eyes. She is my sweet, sweet joy.

Wow, I think this officially puts me in the water–let’s see if I can swim!