Monday, August 20, 2012

Family Ties

Little Baby Toes

Come Saturday afternoon I was back home with my love and very glad to be here, yet my heart was aching for what I left behind, and it still is. Last night my sister's father in law posted photos of her on Facebook and while I was so happy to see them my eyes instantly welled up as my heart and mind tried to make sense of this distance. I feel so lucky to be able to see my sister and her family often despite the miles that separate us, but I am aching for more. With her brood being a four hour drive in one direction and my brother's being two hours in an opposite one, well, it is a very rare thing that we all find ourselves together and when we do it is never for long.

I think that distance has been the hardest part for me about this entire pregnancy. Sure, there are physical aches and pains, but the aching I feel for my family is so much stronger and so much more painful. I ache for a midweek drop-in to give my nieces a snuggle or to join my sister for an hour of walking and talking. I ache for being able to go watch a little league game when my nephew is involved in one of his activities or to swing by and pick him up for an afternoon at the park. I ache for us all to gather around a picnic table while the kids play in the park and we talk about nothing much at all. More than anything, now that my own little gal is on the way, I want those things and knowing that once she is born my family will not be around is the very hardest thing. 

That aching is one I cannot soothe very easily. I try to push it away and focus on the positive, on the extended family I will create for her through my close friends and by knowing that one day my sister will return and my brother is not quite as far away, but my focus can get rather blurry when I'm trying to do so through tears. Luckily at least some of those tears are ones of joy at having them at all.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Snoozing and Looking Forward

My little pal was having a terrible time trying to sleep last night, the evening ending with her snuggled up beside me and the morning starting with her waking up by my side with her face full of smiles. I am underslept and a bit exhausted but I have loved having this time with my girl and also love knowing that there are a unique batch of adventures and snuggles coming my way before too long, but on a full-time basis. It is hard to wrap my mind around and still seems a bit unreal, yet in a matter of weeks my reality will shift in an enormous way. There has never been a time that has filled me with so much excitement and uncertainty at the same time. I can't wait to see what the future holds.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

So Much Love

Today was incredible. I was out my door and in the passenger's side of my Mama's jeep by six a.m. as we quickly made our way to Kansas City for the arrival of my newest niece. As with her first daughter, I was able to be in the room to support my sister and while I was nervous to do so this time around, being close to delivering myself, I must say it was a wonderful experience. That sister of mine is a champ and while bearing witness to a real-time birth story was a bit reality-check inducing, I can say with all honesty that her quick and relatively smooth labor also helped to give a little boost to my confidence. I won't share too many details here as it is not my story to tell, but I definitely salute her for her strength and kick-butt abilities. 

Now, Mom and I are holding down the fort with my little gal pal while E holds down the fort at home with the critters. Tomorrow will bring plenty more time for newborn snuggles and playtime with my girl, so I better start my sheep counting soon because the morning will come so soon.

So much love all around.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What's in a name?

Where it all went down.

E and I have been married for two months now, yet it took me up until just a couple weeks ago to get around to deciding what I wanted to do as far as changing my name, or not, goes. Seeing as we had been together for years and engaged for a good number of months before being married and it still took me that long to decide, well, you can probably tell that it was not an easy decision for me. 

When talking to other people and researching what others have done I was exposed to viewpoints from every inch of the spectrum and in the end none of that really helped me in making my own decision. My name holds a lot of weight for me and my last name has been a big part of my life and something I've been called by exclusively during some periods. Friends from athletics or marching band in high school would often call me by my last name or first initial and last name and in my artistic pursuits I would always sign with the same combination of first initial followed by my last name. Beyond that, it's a name I have had for 27 years and have grown quite accustomed to, while also feeling it's one last link I have to my deceased father and grandmother, that last part being the hardest hurdle for me to overcome.

What really made this all a more pressing issue for me was having a baby on the way. Growing up I never shared a last name with my mother and also had a step-brother who was the same age as me and therefore in the same grade and sometimes involved in the same activities. He was also lanky and blonde, much like my mom. More often than not they would think he was her child and while he was by marriage, I felt hurt by the fact that our names set us apart and often left me appearing as the step-child when really I was connected by the very blood in my veins. For some this may seem trivial, but growing up in a rather unstable environment where I often felt misplaced and unsteady, this one final piece was enough to really leave an impact on me and I knew that I would always want to share a last name with my child. 

E was supportive of whatever choice I wanted to make and even suggested the option of my naming our daughter with my last name if I were to keep the one I had. While I loved that kind of support and openness on his part, I also wanted us all to have the same name and didn't see how leaving him as the odd one out would solve this dilema. We did think about both taking on an entirely new last name, but could never really find something that fit or that we agreed on so didn't really explore that option all that aggressively. 

One last stumbling block was that I felt like taking on E's families name made me seem more connected to them than my own family which is in no way true and in reality my mom, sister, and myself already all had different last names, with my brother and I being the last ones to retain the original. It was pointed out to me by someone I respect that taking on a different name does not create any additional ties or break any old ones and that it's really something that only matters for myself and my husband and any ties that are involved between us alone.

So with that in mind I pushed all the other stuff aside and looked at the amazing man in my life without anyone else in mind and chose to take on his last name so that our own family would share it. But, I did keep my last name as well. I chose to move my given last name to an additional middle name and take on E's last name as my new one, leaving me with a first name, two middle names, and a last name. I'm sure this will cause a bit of confusion on it's own, but it's the only thing I could truly settle on to fulfill my needs on all of these different levels. Shedding my given last name entirely was not a realistic option as it effected me too much emotionally, but not taking on E's last name would have left me feeling as if we didn't have a name to represent us as a single family unit like I wanted, so that's where we stand. I will continue to use my given last name for my writing and artistic pursuits, but will have a new family name to give meaning to with my husband and our little lady. 

As you can see this is a very loaded decision for me and while it's all new and something I'm still getting used to I think it's a good balance.

Did you struggle with this decision yourself or feel strongly one way or the other? I'm always interested to hear what other people have done.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Project: Book Page Votive Jars

I have been working on an endless list of creative projects lately and this just so happens to be the latest one. I posted an inspiration photo in a recent post and we finally managed to have a few empty flat-sided jars on hand (from pickles, jam, and so on) so I got to it and am in love with the results. Plus, this project cost me zero pennies as everything was being repurposed or was something I already had on hand.

Supplies are simple: Empty Jars, Pages of Old Books or Printed Text, Sponge Brush, Exacto Knife, Pencil, Mod Podge.

I think the rest is pretty self-explanatory...tear out book pages, cut to size, draw shapes and cut them out, mod podge to jars, fill with candles, light the candles, and literally bask in the glow of your craftiness.

I'm a big fan of these simple kinds of projects and just taking an hour or so out of my day to create something can really give me the boost I need when my mood could use it, this one definitely did the trick. 

Have you done something like this before or do you think you will now? 


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Needs and Realities

A place where part of my heart will always reside.

So often lately I open a page to write and find myself without anything to put down. That's not entirely true as there is so much always happening in my mind, but lately I have been pushing it back rather than letting it make it's journey through my fingers and onto the page. So many thoughts on life, on becoming a parent, on what the future may hold, and about how I feel on this very day. Instead, I knit. Around eight days ago I started a blanket and it should be finished by the end of tomorrow. While those stitches will one day keep my baby warm, right now they are serving the purpose of providing a much needed distraction for her mother, but since I am about ready to bind off and sew in the loose strands I am going to have to find another distraction or go ahead and dig in to what is happening in my upper atmosphere.

I have found this summer to be a bit of a challenge. While I looked forward to being pregnant in the summer and am still happy it turned out that way, this one has been trying. I do my best writing when I can sit outside with nothing but a notebook, pen, and jug of water. With the fresh air, a bit of sun, and an occasional breeze I am able to tap into a different part of myself, yet this summer has brought abnormal weather and left me spending more time inside where the air is cooler and the light a bit less harsh. With 100 plus degree days for weeks at a time I was thrown a curve ball I hadn't expected and while I have not been one to complain about this weather, it sure has done a number on me.

With all of that being said, I am determined to find a way around this. Early mornings and late nights allow for a bit of relief from the heat of the day and I will try harder to find the motivation to get out into them. Days stuck inside painted walls can be nice now and then, but I thrive off of nature, off hearing bugs and birds rather than the buzz of air-conditioning, off grass beneath my toes rather than varnished hardwood. I need to make it more of a priority to spend my time in a way that makes me feel whole, and while creative projects play a large role in that fulfillment, I will never be complete without time spent outdoors where I can feel totally free, if only for small moments.