Thursday, January 17, 2019


No cavities, and they said it looks like the kid brushes his teeth well, which is a small miracle. #celebrateeverything

Also, they gave him a lollipop, and he said, "Ew!" after one lick and handed it back. The hygienist explained, "They're sugar free, which is probably why he didn't like it." What a mean trick. I mean, I would be annoyed if someone gave me a chocolate surprise and then it had no sugar in it. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2019


We were out of milk the other day, and the kid suggested that we use some of the baby's milk. (Don't worry, we didn't!)

#breastfeedingpositive or should I say #pumpingpositive?


I know it should be the ones from the Old Testament where God tells the Israelites to wipe out whole groups of people or Jephthah killing his daughter (does he really kill her?), but this is probably my least favorite passage from the Bible:

"Then the fever left her and she waited on them."

Monday, January 14, 2019


First day of school: I didn't attend. Three of us had the stomach flu (thankfully not the baby, at least so far). Thankful for a husband to run out and get formula when I lrealized at the most inopportune time that I almost certainly have high lipase. And my baby is a hard core bottle refuser and I would do anything to get him to eat. Glad formula exists.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019


The kid has been suggesting recently and repeatedly that we throw the baby in the water. "He will float," he claims. He will not float, I reply. "But that baby that Papa told us about floated."

Ah, the baby that Papa told us about. He heard about that baby on the news. I can't remember the details, but the point was that the baby, who should have been at the bottom of the lake, was miraculously floating face up. Let's not try that with our baby. "Why would that baby float and our baby wouldn't?" the kid asks.


Some people have problems with God given that evil exists. That is no problem for me--free will and all. My problem is with miracles. 

I think they're little reminders of heaven. It makes sense that Jesus performed some. But now--why? More specifically, why for some people and not others. It just doesn't seem fair. 

Fairness is my number 1 virtue, a virtue that has had to be totally relinquished in light of marriage and parenthood and life with a toddler. But I still hold it as an ideal, an ideal to which miracles simply do not conform.


That's it--no resolution, much like many aspects of my life at the moment. 

Monday, December 31, 2018

Happy New Year!

Good riddance on that last one, as far as I'm concerned, but there were some good parts:

~ I pushed out a beautiful little baby with really comparatively little pain. And he is a really beautiful one who giggles and is ticklish and has tiny little soft grabby hands. And seeing the friendship forming between the two kids is wonderful.

~ Family--I got to live near many of them and spend time with all of them. I got to know my brother's now-wife better and celebrate their wedding. My parents are really incredible people and living above them has been the best. We had lots of local family and some dear friends at the baby's baptism this fall. The kid has adored all this family time.

~ Having friends nearby, better yet friends with children, means not only friends for me, but also for Chester (and what wonderful children my friends have--I'm looking at you, Posy--I think you need a new blog name that isn't "Gypsy"). And having friends far off through the internet and cell towers--I've never spent so much virtual time with Sayers.

~ Our priest. Even though we were just living half a year in PA, the priest welcomed and befriended us. And he has special care and guidance for families living the faith and so his homilies were often just what we needed to hear. The one that has stuck with me since the summer was about superheros and about God being with us in the difficult times rather than snatching us out.

~ Visitors--Lawrence and family and MSI and family visited. And we got to see Diana and her family and her newest, who is just a few weeks older than our baby.

~ Travel. We've been many places as a family, and I got to travel alone and just with Francisco and just with the baby. All the combinations. We got to see some wonderful people along the way. I mean, I wanted to travel more and see more people, but we did alright, considering.

~ Jobs--After trying to get one for six years, I got (offered) two and took one. And, you know, I wrote some stuff and presented some stuff and published one thing and interviewed some people.

And now to do what is most delightful about adulthood--to go to bed before midnight on New Year's Eve. I haven't even had enough energy to have a drink. Maybe next year!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

A Walk in the Woods

A remembered, near the end of a walk in the woods, in which I lamented not having brought my camera, that my phone takes pictures. So here are some.

It was foggy and wet and lushly green--so surprising for December.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

An Update

Here we are, nearly four months out.

Francisco is in many ways doing well--and a lot better, obviously, than that horrible day in August. Most people wouldn't notice anything different when talking with him, and he can read and work some. We had the procedure to close the hole in his heart; he excelled beyond what speech therapists can help him with, so we're basically on our own now.

But it perpetually drives me nuts--people seem to want a narrative of "back to normal" and "totally better" that isn't anywhere near our reality, which is totally still in the trenches (though of course, always, it could be worse). Francisco needs a lot of sleep now, which is difficult to get between his pre-existing insomnia and the new baby. He has debilitating fatigue for much of the day--this is different from sleepiness, but rather he gets mentally worn out easily, after a couple hours of work or engagement, and then can't do much more. That means that if I want to pass the baby off to him for a half an hour in the evening, that may or may not be possible (likely not).

He has remaining little bits of aphasia that we don't quite know what to do about. He writes at such a high level that most speech therapists aren't able to help with this. (And I don't really get why there aren't speech therapists who can help you deal with high-level aphasia.) He had been meeting with an old English teacher of mine to help with his writing, which was perfect, but now we're leaving PA.

It is really amazing generally the lack of help that hospitals and medical professionals offer at really letting you know what you can expect going forward or supporting you in that journey. Once you're out of the hospital, you're not really their problem anymore, except for a few follow-ups. No one tells us much about this fatigue and how long it may or may not last and how we should establish a new normal. We're part of a couple of stroke facebook groups, which offer good information and support, and also bring with them stressful information (like you can be fatigued for 10 years after a stroke, or forever).

Communication, ever complicated in marriage even before a stroke, is even more complicated after. It takes more patience and time--and when you're trying to communicate quickly in a stressful situation, well, things just aren't ideal. I told Hannah that it is, in some ways, like the first year of marriage again--our abilities are different from what they were before and the division of labor, the way we work together, and our methods of communication all need to be rehealed. It is exhausting and emotional. And throw the baby in the mix and there's one tired mama with nothing more to give, whose temper can be tripped in an instant. Not my finest self.

So you can see why I'm irritable when people imply that everything for us is fine now. It is really a long haul, and my return to work in January is a new challenge arising. I get very anxious thinking about the future--my therapist always reminds me to take one day at a time, which makes so much sense. However, when you actually have to think and plan for the future, it really is hard to do that preparation dispassionately.

An Update: I wrote this a week ago, so I could sit on it. In the meantime, I encountered the most upsetting response to our situation that I could have ever imagined: A woman who was a family friend from my childhood, but who I have spoken to maybe half a dozen times in my life, and none of those in the last 15 years, told me that I am privileged to go through what our family is going through because I can be closer to God. "Count it all joy," she told me, quoting the Bible at me. She continued speaking for several minutes along the same lines--I couldn't really hear it or understand her because I was just thinking over and over in my mind, "Is this really happening? Is this woman really saying this to me?" But I had to sit there with a pained smile and nod before I could run away from her to shake and cry. I cried on and off for the rest of the day.

I have a lot to say about this. What happened to my husband was bad. Strokes will not happen in heaven. It is part of my faith that God takes all the bad stuff that we face on earth and makes them into something good. We cannot predict what this good will look like--and we do know it involves a lot of pain. However, this does not make the unequivocally bad stuff that we face good. It does not make us privileged to face it.* And no one, but most especially someone I don't know at all, should be telling me how to think or feel about what we're going through. People should be asking questions and listening and lending a sympathetic ear. And if they want to tell me about their experience going through a bad situation, I'll listen. But quoting Bible verses at me! I don't remember any details about the "friends" who came to "comfort" Job when he was going through dark times, but I feel like this woman just about captured that.

I'm a generally secure person and other people's opinions don't ruffle me much, but this woman did more than anyone has before. I've thought many uncharitable things about her, but perhaps I can say this in an illustrative rather than vindictive way. Perhaps I should have suggested that she and I could pray together that her husband would have significant brain damage so she could be as close to God as I get to be.

I'm sure that all of this is made worse by the coming of Christmas. Advent is all about longing for Christ's birth, and then he comes and brings joy. And I don't know what to do with that all this year, when our trials will very much be continuing through the Christmas season.

*It would be better that sin had not entered the world. But it has, and so bad stuff happens. But it would be better if sin had not entered the world.

Friday, December 21, 2018


This was a gift from a friend, and it turns out that YA fiction is just the level that I have brains for at the moment. This was fascinating--a realistic, fantastic, imaginative story that gives you empathy for the experiences of children, something I really need since I have a 4-year-old, and leaves lots of room for wonder.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Airplane Movies

Crazy Rich Asians

I saw this in Paris and was a little miffed--who wants to spend a short visit to a famous city in a movie theater (seeing an American film! not that I speak French), which is identical to American theaters? Plus, I don't generally take babies to the movies--and that could go really poorly. BUT to be honest, I was interested in seeing it, and Francisco wasn't a willing companion, and the baby did just fine (shhhh--he loves anything on a screen), and it was nice to get off our feet and in out of the cold. And despite being in many ways a composite of cliches (not out of the norm for romantic comedies), this was totally enjoyable. 

Oceans Eight

I saw this on the flight, while wrangling the baby, so let's just say I did not pay the closest of attention. But I totally enjoyed it. Also, I always debate between food and a movie, on the one hand, and sleep on the other, while going to Europe. I wish I were strong enough to choose the latter.

The Quiet Place

Even while baby-wrangling on a flight (this post makes me look like a bad mother), I was completely absorbed in this movie--and scared to death--such that I unthinkingly started elbowing my sleeping (and long-suffering) seatmate, because I was unconsciously reaching out for human connection (or Francisco?). Anyway, he was confused and I was embarrassed.

The Bookshop

Oh my gosh--who knew that a Penelope Fitzgerald novel was being made into a film? The clothes and setting are so much fun, and I definitely enjoyed this and would watch it again. Airplanes really get me caught up on my otherwise almost non-existent movie watching. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Paris, Phone Pics

The reality is, with baby, many of my pictures were from my phone. Here is where I attended mass the day I arrived. And where, oddly, a man passed out on top of me and the baby during mass and the men on both sides of me were effusive about the baby and extremely helpful.

(Perhaps women don't travel often with babies and large pieces of luggage, but everyone I encountered everywhere was extremely helpful. I mean, more helpful than I ever could have imagined anyone being. There was a train conductor who held the baby so I could put my carrier on; there was a woman who carried my luggage to the back of the train; there was a seatmate on the airplane who did everything she possibly could for me--and even offered to move so I could have a free seat--I'm really glad I didn't let her; there was a seatmate on the way back who graciously woke up every half an hour so we could get up; numerous people on the flight who held the baby so I could go to the bathroom; at the airport in France the security person helped me clip my carrier, put on my backpack, and tied my shoes; they sent me to the front of every line in the French airport immediately; and I could make a list that goes on forever. People loved the baby and did everything they could to help me be more comfortable. But one of the men who sat beside me at that first mass said he was honored and that it was a great experience for him, as he helped me into my coat. They must not have so many babies there?)

Oh, truly terrible phone snaps. But this was my walk home from mass to the apartment where I was staying. It got dark and so the monuments came out. Slightly magical. (Although by and large I will say: I think I like smaller old cities like Bratislava better. I'm not sure--it's not my final word, but I feel like Paris is over-romanticized in films and so I may have been just a little disappointed. No one over-romanticizes Bratislava--or even Compiegne--so it far outshines my expectations. I mean, there's just so much pressure to adore Paris. During the day, I didn't even like the Eiffel Tour, but to be honest, when it was lit up at night, it was seductive.)

From a cab ride--I think it was the opera.

Some church. Would that I could have gone in more.

Okay, okay. It's pretty.

The outside of Notre Dame. The misty rain and chilly weather meant there were very few tourists anywhere, which was great.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

San Chapelle

Do I need words? Can there be too many pictures?