This world. This place. This life.


School of hard knocks, baby version

When we took Willa to her six-month check up, one of the questions I had for Dr. Kiehl was about crib bumpers. Specifically, breathable ones.

She listened patiently while I explained that Willa was getting her feet caught between the slats in her crib, and crying because she couldn’t get unstuck.

She kept listening while I explained that the interwebs say regular bumpers are bad (SIDS risk), but that there are these breathable ones that are supposed to be okay and . . . .

She finally interrupted me and said, “You can buy them if you want. Or you could let her learn how to get herself unstuck.”


Oh yeah.

Keep it simple.

Let her learn.

Let her learn, even if it’s the hard way.

Don’t shelter her from experience.


Willa started crawling last week, and her mobility is increasing exponentially. She’s fast, and she’s determined. If it’s in her way, she’ll keep working until she gets around it, or over it.

Even if she face plants or bonks her head.

Sometimes it’s really hard to watch.

It’s hard to change her diaper in the morning and see that her cute little knees are still red and chapped from the previous day’s adventures.

And then today I left her in her crib while I went to the bathroom.

What I saw when I came back took my breath away:


For the first time, she had grabbed hold of the top rail of her crib, and pulled herself up to standing.

I have a strong, fearless daughter, and she is exactly the child I need.

I’m a dreamer—and she pushes me to pay attention.

I’m a worrier—and she teaches me to keep her safe, and let the rest go.

Tonight, we’ll lower the crib mattress. And then I’ll try not to think about her standing there, because I need all the sleep I can get.


Mama’s Costco meltdown

I was raised to be nice.

You know that photo that’s going around on Facebook? The black and white one with a roller coaster cars full of women? The women in the first car laugh uproariously, their skirts flying up. The women in the second car are more subdued, but smiling, and clearly enjoying themselves. The unsmiling women in the third car sit with knees pressed together, hands clasped politely in their laps.

We were third car kind of people.

So when I had a mini-meltdown in the parking lot at Costco today, it was a big deal for me; a first-car person watching would probably still be laughing about it.

The meltdown was set in motion a few days ago.

Brady needed to go to the vet, so I made an appointment for Wednesday at 2:30 in the afternoon. That felt like a time that would work with Willa’s schedule. After her morning nap I would drive to town, stop at Costco, head to the vet, and be done in time for her to nap on the drive back home to Girdwood. Seamless.

But then I watched the weather, which forecasted a big snowstorm on Tuesday night. (And it was a big one. I think we got about two feet of snow.)  Friday looked better.

I called the vet. They didn’t answer, so I left a message. They called back when I was pulling my hair out trying to do something with Willa. “Friday at 11:10 a.m.?” I said. “Sure, sounds fine.”

Except it wasn’t.

Friday mornings I finish up The Interdependent Web. At 11:10, Willa’s just starting to think about wanting a nap.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I woke up at about 5 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. Then Willa woke up early. I fed her, and put her back to sleep, and I got about an hour’s more sleep.

We rushed around, getting breakfast for me, tea for Liesl, a bit of solid food for Willa and a few minutes of nursing, and then we bundled ourselves up and headed for Anchorage.

Willa started getting fussy at the vet. She was more fussy at Babies R Us, where we stopped for a diaper change and feeding. And by the time we got to Costco, she was in full meltdown mode.

When we finally got back out to the car to head home, I was relieved that the person parked next to us was leaving. I could pull the cart up to the side of the car, and swing Willa’s carseat out of the cart and into the Subaru.

I was in the middle of doing that when, over the din of Willa’s screams, I heard someone say, “Excuse me?”

I turned around. A woman in an SUV asked, “Could you move your cart so I could pull in there?”

I snapped.

“My baby is having a meltdown,” I said. “Just chill out.”

She apologized, said that she’d been there with her kids, told me to take my time.

I realized I’d been snippy, and apologized, too.

And that was that. But I’ve been thinking about human nature today, and so I wondered how much of the world’s evil comes from accumulated stress. From the crankiness that builds up in us from lack of sleep and disrupted schedules and parking lots that are always over-full. From snippy comments and unkind words that we trade like toddlers trade germs at daycare.

I don’t know. But I’m hoping to get a good night’s sleep tonight, and a fresh start tomorrow.



If I stole your shopping cart


shopping cartIt has probably happened to you. I know it’s happened to me.

You’ve just started shopping. Your cart’s empty. You walk away, and when you return, your cart is missing.

It has always annoyed me.

But today I was on the other side. Today I stole the shopping cart.

Willa and I went to Fred Meyer’s for some much-needed groceries. It’s always an ordeal. An hour’s drive to town, and an hour home. This time our only other errand was dropping off recycling, but I still had to think about nap, feeding, and diaper schedules.

And where to put Willa while I’m shopping.

My usual trick is to put her, car seat and all, in the cart, packing groceries around her as we go.  It works pretty well, until we get to the checkout. Groceries in bags are bigger than groceries not in bags.

Today I had planned to wear Willa in her Ergo carrier. But the logistics of that are tiresome, too, and Willa is the kind of child who wants to see  everything.  The Ergo is fine for the boring old condo. But in the grocery store? I couldn’t imagine her being happy in a carrier where she’s not facing the world.

So it was back to the car seat in the cart. And the problem of too many groceries.

I decided I would get one of the smaller carts for the overflow once I finished shopping. I would drag the small one behind me with one hand, pushing Willa in the bigger one with the other.

Except that the carts are stored on the other side of the theft-detection monitors.

And I have a deep-seated phobia about people thinking I’m shoplifting.

I kept thinking, “How am I going to get a cart? Maybe I’ll find an empty one somewhere.”

And I did. Close enough to the door that maybe someone meant to abandon it. Far enough that the person may have just walked away for a moment.

I’ll never know.

So the next time someone steals your shopping cart, remember this: maybe it was a stressed-out mama, just trying to figure out how to get her kid and her groceries to the car.

She was hoping you were done with the cart. If you weren’t, she’s really sorry, and she hopes she hasn’t made your day too much more stressful.

Because she’s learned that we’re all just trying to get by, as best we can.


Photo by MIKI Yoshihito, used under a Creative Commons attribution license.







Just love

Our pediatrician is amazing—gentle, down-to-earth, skillful, grandmotherly.

In our first interview with her, I bombarded her with questions. I think I did the same when she showed up in the delivery room, not long after Willa was born. And when she came to my room in the maternity center to give us discharge instructions, I still had questions.

She looked me in the eye—I can still see her level gaze—and said, “Just take her home and love her.”

It was the kind of advice that drains worry from your body, relaxing muscles you hadn’t realized were tense.

“Oh,” I thought. “I can do that. I can remember that. It will be OK.”

In the months since then, I’ve worked myself into quite a few tizzies. It’s not hard for me to find something to worry about. Is she eating enough? How can I tell? Is that diaper rash? Does she have reflux?

I have two strategies for dealing with the anxiety—well, two healthy strategies. First, I enter my questions into Sprout Baby, trusting that I don’t need to know the answer until our next pediatrician appointment.

And second, I replay these words in my mind: “Just take her home and love her.”

Tomorrow, our little girl will be seven months old. Are we past the ‘take her home and love her’ stage? 

Nope. Just love her. Everything else follows.



The Church of Vitamix

willa likes itA few weeks ago a new Vitamix (well, refurbished) arrived here via UPS. I bought it primarily to make baby food for our Willa, who’s just starting on solids.

It’s amazing. A different class than any other blending appliance I have.

I wish every baby-food-making parent could have one. But they’re expensive (my refurbished one was more than $400).

And that’s where the idea came from. What if a church bought one, and invited new parents to prep their food there? As a stand-alone mission—or as part of a larger ministry to parents of infants?