Home

It’s midnight and I could sit awake for hours in the quiet of this dark and contemplate this house.

front of house

The floors that shine under the light of the lamp illuminating where my son took his first steps and where busy plays and only night brings rest.

livingroom 2

I’ve memorized how the light shines in the living room window; the way it streams in through my son’s window at it’s rise and how it floods in through the downstairs bathroom window at it’s set.

Noah room

downstairs bath

I know this house.

dining room

I’ve loved it since the very first time we walked into it. And oh was there drama to get into it oh has there been drama to get out. But oh how I have loved BEING HERE.

kitchen 3

 

master bedroom 2

 

back yard

We’ve grown here and fallen apart here and loved and laughed and dreamed and danced and learned that our next house must have a walk in shower just like this one, but we need a bigger bath tub.

upstairs bath

 

And that we love the unique features and character of this older home but maybe our next house could have less creaky stairs.

 

nook

 

stairwell

There was always going to be a next time. Forever wasn’t here but that doesn’t mean here didn’t hold a piece of forever.

upstairs hallway

guest room

My son wants to take the seahorse light pull from the downstairs bathroom. “So I can always have a piece of our first house, Mommy.” Yes, of course you can, I told him, and together we cut the string.

He feels the pull here, too; his only home. The only house we’ve ever owned. The longest my husband or I have lived anywhere since we both left our parents homes when we were 18.

playroom office

We’ll take pieces with us too; pictures and memories and 4 years of our lives bound into the pieces of this house that I wonder if I’ll ever stop thinking of as “home.”

outside front

Home

Home used to exist in a house on Macedin Drive in a sleepy Georgia town.

It remained there throughout my college years, throughout my various apartments. The spreading of my wings was still grounded in an old blue house and with the realities and memories of the five of us.

And then home became elusive and undefined. The blue house was sold and painted white. It became a shell of what it used to be and though I would sometimes drive by when I was in town to visit, I knew it was no longer home.

Home became different from house.

My son and I have been traveling a lot lately. A big trip to Georgia to visit family. A trip to Alabama for a wedding. And most recently a trip to North Carolina to visit my best friends.

Lost in thought on yet another long drive I pondered home.

For over the past few weeks I have found home hidden in unexpected places, slowly revealing itself to me in tiny pieces.

I mostly find home now in an old house in Richmond, VA. We’re drawn to homes with character, my husband and I. I find home in this house’s creaky stairs and funny phone nook and the yard that sprouts clover instead of grass.

I find home in my husband’s smile and in toddler bear hugs. My son gives the best ones.

And then in our travels I found home again in the Georgia air. Ten hours south of where we are now, there’s just something different about the atmosphere in Georgia. Something comforting about old familiar roads and memories.

I always find home in the company of my mom and brother and sister. They will always be the first and best parts of my definition of home.

This weekend, I found home in my best friends. In memories of being young. In recalling how we met and who we used to be in the midst of who we are now as adults and mothers.

“Home is where the heart is” seems cliche and stagnant, though drenched in truth.

Home, to me, lies in memories and the comforting security of familiarity.

Home, it seems, exists not in a place, but in a collection of pieces of who we are and who we are yet to be.

And at every turn, it feels good to be home.

Finding Home Through Performance

The thing about performing, is that it’s intense, and hard, and requires you to use parts of yourself that you don’t always use on a daily basis. It requires dedication and passion and in the midst of it, you form friendships and bonds. Mostly because you are all together for hours on end preparing a show, but also because you have the time to really get to know the hearts of the people you perform with.

I used to perform all the time, and I really used to think that it was what I wanted to do professionally. (I mean, I kinda would still love to, but I think that ship may have sailed.)

But until this show, I had not performed in years. I left that part of myself when I found out I was pregnant, and was so lost in a world of baby and depression that I forgot a small bit of who I was.

After 18 shows and over 20,000 people coming to see all of our performances, we closed on Sunday night. I have been away from the blogging world because, quite frankly, I am exhausted.

But exhausted in a good way. In the way where you feel accomplished. In the way when you feel fulfilled.

This performance experience was especially a blessing. It was through a church. Every year they write their own script and compose their own music to put together a Broadway style Christmas production, complete with high tech lighting and effects, mics and set design, dancing, singing, acting, and even a live camel, flying angels, and a real baby Jesus.

Usually, performance, although fun and rewarding, can be very competitive and harsh. This world of performance was very nurturing  It was a world where everyone mattered and lifted you up at every turn. It was refreshing and inspiring and I know I have filled this blog with performance stories, but the truth is, this performance saved me.

I have been floundering for a long time, really ever since the birth of my son. Writing this blog has helped bring me back to myself.  Being able to perform again reminded me that there is life after children, and that I am still who I always was. Funny, I needed 3 years and a lead in a show to convince myself of that.

So, on the last day of the show, at our cast meeting the director asked if anyone would like to speak. I stood up and addressed the 200 person cast with this,

“In September, I was just a girl, who came to an audition with red high heels. Then I became lucky enough to get a part in this show. I have heard so many stories about the ministry that we want this show to be to the audience, but I want you all to know what a ministry it has been to me. The kindness and generosity of all the people I have met here has been amazing and I have been truly honored to be a part of it. And now, for the first time in a long time, I have a church home. That would not have been possible without GCN. So I just want to thank all of you for that.”

This nurturing environment lifted me with applause and their tears met my own as I ruined my stage makeup with tears rolling down my face.

Because you see, to finally find a home and pieces of yourself, can be very very emotional.

 

 

Animal Problems

We are having animal problems.

Sunday, I decided to do some yard work. I did some weeding and blew off the driveway, but the biggest chore was cleaning off the deck. As I was gathering up the toys and sweeping leaves, I noticed a squirrel. He was not moving, but he still looked very much alive, just laying on the deck. After closer inspection I realized he was already dead, but there were no bite marks to indicate that the cats had gotten him. It was like he just fell down and died. He really just looked as if he was lying still.

Monday night, I let the cats out as usual. They have become keen on night exploration since we have moved into our house. I always call them in before heading upstairs to bed, as they come quickly, usually ready for a rest themselves. Last night, only one came back. I called and called for the other one but eventually had to just go to bed.

When I woke up Tuesday, I called for her again, but still could not find her. I decided to go outside to look for her, but by the time I fed the toddler, got him dressed, and convinced him to go outside, it was 11:00 AM. We looked around for her in the front yard, and then as we were heading to the back yard I noticed something moving in my car. It was my sweet kitty. I got her out immediately and ran her straight inside to food and water. She did not eat or drink, but she was purring and seemed fine. Monday night, my husband had gone to the grocery store. She must have jumped into the car while he was unloading groceries. That means she had been in the car for over 12 hours! I am just so thankful that she is ok.

It soon dawned on me that a cat locked in a car for 12 hours also meant that there was probably cat poo in my car. It did not take long to spot it (with the helpful “Look, Mommy, cat poo!” from the toddler) and so I began cleaning. I spent 45 minutes scrubbing cat poo and pee out of my car and then left the windows open so the smell could air out.

The toddler and I continued our day which included a walk. We made it home just before it rained, but forgot that my car windows were  open. So now I have a wet car that smells slightly like cat poo.

Late in the afternoon, the rain cleared. The toddler and I were sitting in the livingroom when we heard a loud THUD and saw something briefly on the window. We ran outside to see a small bird on its side in our front flower bed, obviously stunned by its recent encounter with our window. I tried to shield the bird from being touched by my son as he peppered me with questions to satisfy his curiosity of ‘why.” I used a stick to nudge to bird into an upright position. Once on its feet it hopped away, but it was obviously quite injured. His breathing was labored and his couldn’t move more than three small hops. We observed him for a while, and finally decided to go inside. When we went out to check on him a few hours later, the bird was gone. I can only hope that he regained his senses and flew safely away.

Here’s hoping that tomorrow will be a better day. Because if we have one more day of animal drama, we might have to move.

*When I am not dealing with animals, I am learning more about how to give my son the best education possible. If you are interested in reading some progressive ideas about education, enter to win this book!*

Fireworks, Cake, and Sleeping

Rather than bore you with a long story about how we spent our Fourth just hanging out at the house, grilling, playing outside, waiting on a Verizon worker to come fix the cable line that had fallen in our back yard, made a cake, and then walked about a mile and a half to go see fireworks, I will just show you our Fourth of July pictures.

(Click on the pictures and they will get bigger. Obviously, I do not know how to correctly add pictures to wordpress. But I did learn how to make photo collages with PicMonkey.com!)

Pretty cute, huh? We tried to be very patriotic this year. I even tried to explain to my son why we celebrate the Fourth of July by telling him, “The Fourth of July is America’s birthday.” He looked at me quizzically and then responded, “America’s not here right now. But we can still eat cake.”

This week, my little guy has also gone to summer camp. I have had every morning off for the entire week and it has flown by!

In other news, tomorrow is my five year wedding anniversary. Because we co-sleep and just due to life in general, the hubs and I realized that we have not slept together in almost three years. Not in the 50 Shades of Grey way, but in the just me and him in a bed kind of way. So tomorrow, my sister and her husband are coming down to spend the night with the toddler while we go have dinner and stay in a hotel. It will be the toddler’s very first night away from BOTH Mommy and Daddy. I am a little bit nervous! But I am also super excited about sleep. Actual, close your eyes, and wake up when you feel like it instead of when a toddler jumps on your head sleep.

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and is planning a great weekend!

The Georgia Trip

I don’t enjoy trips to Georgia. My husband and I both grew up there, went to college there, and spent the first years of our marriage there. But since moving up to Richmond, VA two years ago, I have felt more at home than I have in years. Part of it is that we bought our first house here, so for the first time I am living in a home that I own. That gives the word “home” a whole new meaning.

But another part of it is emotional. After my dad died, the house I grew up in just wasn’t the same. My mom sold that house in 2006, and has since re-married. So when I “go home” to Georgia, I may be going to a city where the streets are familiar, but everything has changed. The house I go visit my mom in has no emotional connection for me. The man she married is not someone I enjoy spending time with. I don’t like that my son will have a relationship with my mom’s husband instead of my father. Most of my friends have moved away. My siblings live in different places. The only person still in that city is my mom and my husband’s family. Those factors, along with some underlying family tensions, make going to Georgia a stressful event, and only something I can handle for a short visit.

It’s different for my husband. When we go to Georgia, we go back to the house he grew up in, to both of his parents. We even sleep in his room that looks exactly the way it did when we were in highschool, childhood trophies and all. His entire family is from Georgia, still lives in Georgia, and will always live in Georgia. I adore my father in law and brothers in law, and my mother in law is very nice but we are so very different. Going to visit my husband’s family is fine, but it is not my home.

Since we’ve moved to Virginia, Georgia trips have become an incredibly stressful part of my life. We happened to move here during the time when both of my siblings, my cousin, and my best friend have gotten married. There have been multiple showers, weddings, and events that I have had to attend. And they are all in Georgia. Due to my husband’s schedule, he can not come down for everything. I have been going down to Georgia three to four times a year since we moved up here. My husband only goes about once a year. So for more trips than I can count now, I have traveled alone with a toddler and no husband.

Everyone loves to help with my son, and although family members can entertain him, no one else could nurse him (in the earlier days), or put him to sleep, or dress him, or discipline him, or comfort him when he cried. Traveling to a place you don’t like going four weeks out of a year without help from your spouse is physically and emotionally exhausting.

This trip was for my cousin’s wedding. It involved picking my sister up from the bus stop (she lives in Washington, DC) and driving down to Georgia on a Wednesday, spending all day with my husband’s family on Thursday, driving to Alabama for the rehearsal dinner Friday, going to the wedding Saturday, driving back to Georgia Sunday, spending time at my mom’s Monday, then driving all the way up to Washington, DC Tuesday so my sister could go back to work and the toddler and I could finally drive back home on Wednesday. When I promptly crashed.

The toddler and I had a day and a half of more errands, more laundry, and more house straightening. Then my mother in law arrived Friday for a week’s stay.

June has been a whirlwind, and it is still going. But I will try to be more present in this space and try to be more aware of the joys of my life rather than the stressors and busy-ness that has encompassed me lately.

I am so very glad to be home, and will continue to look forward to July when our home becomes just ours again, and when this pace of busy and stressful returns to a pace of slow and peaceful.

Goodnight Words

Sleepy kisses were handed out as we all adjusted covers and nuzzled into pillows.

The toddler still sleeps here snuggled in the middle most nights, even though we all know babyhood has past.

My little boy is at peace here with Mommy and Daddy and though we do the sleep-in-your-own-bed thing, we really like him here, too.

Darkness surrounds us but we gaze at a battery-powered stars and moon that cast a sky on our ceiling.

“Goodnight little family,” I say.

“I love you,” says my husband.

“Mommy, Daddy?”  questions the toddler.

“Yes, sweet boy?” we respond.

“You guys are taking good care of me.”

It is dark, but I could still feel my husband and I lock eyes. I can feel his heart swell in rhythm with mine and make out the dimples of his smile in the moonlight as it mirrors my emotion.

“That’s such a nice thing to say, buddy,” says my husband with a smile.

“Thank you so much. You are such a sweet boy. I love you,” I reply, struggling to find words to convey my emotion.

“I love you too, guys,” says our sweet boy as he cuddled his Curious George lovey close and snuggled in to sleep.

And so we drifted into slumber, falling asleep to lullabies of sleepy breathing and toddler validation. Goodnight husband, goodnight little boy, goodnight words that have warmed my heart and filled my soul.

Goodnight.

Sick and Mad

Sickness has descended upon our house for the past week. I am an expert at following my own how to get sick advice. A full seven days of runny noses and coughs and tissues and humidifiers has really taken its toll. The toddler seems to be feeling better and just a lingering cough remains. The hubs had to call into work and I have not left the house in the past week except to drive the toddler to and from preschool. It has been a nearly impossible task to keep the toddler entertained and the house in a somewhat decent state while both adults are out of capacity on the couch.

The grumpy factor is at an all time high. Seven days can feel like a long time. With the whole family at the end of our ropes, this conversation happened this morning:

Me: (to the toddler) “Will you bring Mommy a tissue please?”

Toddler: “No, I will not. And Daddy will not either.”

Hubs: “That’s not very nice. Why won’t you bring Mommy a tissue?”

Toddler: “Because I am mad at Mommy. And Mommy is mad at me.”

Me: “I am not mad at you.”

Toddler: “Yes. Mommy is mad at me every day because I made a mess. And I am mad at Mommy.” (walks over to me and in a very mad voice says,) “Mommy, I am mad at you because I made a mess.”

Me: ….

Hubs: “Come on, let’s leave Mommy alone for a minute. We need to go clean up your mess.”

Toddler: “I need to pee!” (goes to bathroom) From the bathroom we hear singing, ” I will never clean the living room never ever. I will leave the living room a mess. I am ma-aaad. Yes sir.”

Me: “Can someone please bring me a tissue?”

Toddler: “I will Mommy.” (brings me a tissue) “It’s ok, Mommy. I am not mad at you. I love you.”

Me: “I love you too. I am not mad at you either. Thank you for my tissue.”

Hubs: “Ok, now we need to clean this mess in the livingroom!”

Toddler: “Uggggghhhhh!!!!!”

Sigh. I realize, that this week has been a week of ignoring the toddler because we just don’t have the ability to play with him. When we are up, we have been fussing at him to clean up all of these messes he’s making while we haven’t been able to supervise. We are exhausted and sick, and frustrated by having to clean up every five minutes from our toddler tornado, when all we really want to do is lay around and sleep in a clean-ish house. The toddler is frustrated by lack of stimulation and that every time he does come up with a creative game, (ie, throw all of his crayons all over the floor, unload all of the kitchen cabinets, cut up bits of paper all over the house, etc.), we want him to clean up the mess.

This cycle is exhausting. The hubs is ready to go to work, I am ready to have energy back to entertain my son and keep my house clean, and the toddler is just ready for some interaction. And probably for some activities outside of our house.

Here’s hoping that whatever this super cold is will leave soon. And that the toddler will stop being mad at me because he made a mess.