and then, they saw the sea

when we had packed the bags, passed the roadblocks, and staved off the screaming for 20 minutes fewer than necessary, the sea peeked around a bend in the road, but they did not see it.print ready-005

and when our joints popped and mouths yawned in fresh air as we climbed out of the car, and they had not napped, no sir, they saw shops and raindrops, but they did not see it.print ready-009-2

even when we padded down the sandy steps, and yes there was an ocean, but in front of the ocean was a CREEK and PEOPLE and SAND and OHMYGOSH A CREEK and CAN YOU BELIEVE ALL THIS SAND … i really don’t think they saw it.

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but the next morning, when there was no sound save for the beating of our hearts and the heartbeat of the waves, when there was no smell save for the overwhelming windswept soapy smell of the ocean, when you could write a book of wisdom from the whispers in the silence, when there was not another soul on miles and miles of sand, then they looked out across the dunes and the desert, and there was the sea.

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they saw, and they laughed, and danced, and he ran until he was naught but a blue speck with legs, and she grinned and ate sand. and they and the sea and the sand were together a big beautiful memory of blue and soft and pungent. their little lives grew 4 sizes that day, when they saw the sea.print ready-012print ready-006print ready-030print ready-028 print ready-029print ready-037 print ready-049print ready-047print ready-061


in between

in between is a strange category.

in between is the space after this word, and in between is the atlantic ocean. it’s the point of blankness, pregnant with moving energy. a finite vacuum pulling toward a magnetic pole.

the view of in between is like the view of the grand canyon … from the bottom.

in between is really a retrospective category; as we move along our lifeline, we look back to see the times where it is dotted from point to point. and yet, even though it is most easily identified once one is no longer in between, there’s this sense in the moment- this sense of suspension. the flow of focused energy toward an unknown point moving through body and spirit. the feeling of moving forward, albeit without landmarks to signal progress.

the in between spirit is defined by unfelt resolve. i may feel like a toddler with my shaky baby steps, but the force that pulls me forward only gains strength when i fall. the in between spirit is anything but stagnant; it is a strong wind rattling with leaves of confusion. the leaves are loud, but the wind is sure. the in between spirit is also like a pinball, in that it’s easy to be fooled by the erratic bouncing into forgetting the unbeatable pull of gravity; all pinball games are eventually lost. in its frantic haste to move from point A to point Unknown, the in between spirit casts away the luggage it carries, streamlining, refining, gaining lightness.

what is a poor bruised pinball to do when the frenetic pinging requires so much energy to survive, that there is none left to devote to finding gravity? thankfully, gravity has a way of finding poor bruised pinballs eventually. i guess there’s not much to do except hope that one’s guardian angel is an exceptionally poor pinball player.

because being in between sucks.

i’ll bet that almost every new-ish parent experiences this feeling. no one tells you that there is time in between becoming a parent and feeling like one. no one tells you that there’s a very good chance that this little ball of human effervescence will destroy your career and land you soundly on your bottom on the cold hard ground of stay-at-home un- or under-employment. or, as i like to optimistically think of it, pre-employment.

we’re in between right now. in between childlessness and being used to this parenting gig. in between accruing the medical debt of the past couple years, and paying it off. i’m in between jobs, possibly careers, possibly school. in between the experience of loss and the acceptance of it. in between the fall of the tower of babel, and cutting the ribbon to the golden city.

our children are in between. in between birth and awareness, in between the advent of the self and the consciousness of the self. in between understanding and speaking. in between moving, and moving with confidence. the shakiness of their baby steps belies the strength of the indomitable force that pulls them forward.

and this is what happens when i try to write a life update post, and realize that the only thing to update about life is that there is no definite update. after being a stay-at-home mom for a year and a half, i’m starting to come up for air and think about what the next few years might look like. last week i was going to school to become an occupational therapist. this week i’m restarting my photography business. the week before i was operating an at-home montessori preschool, and next week i might be completing my degree in black studies from portland state university. the options are at once vastly unlimited and hopelessly constricted, kind of like the bottom of the grand canyon.

we in-betweens may seem like a fickle bunch, but give us grace – a lot of rustling must happen before the wind is cleared of leaves.

death sausage

when in the course of human events a mother is enlightened with a nigh supernatural intuition regarding the relationship of her erstwhile begotten offspring unto legumes, that mother ought forthwith to act, or as the case may be, not act, upon this miraculous revelation.

in other words, i had a hunch that the kid might have a peanut allergy.

feeding ash has always been an adventure. even before his first solids, unknown food sensitivity in breast milk, difficult suck reflex, and significant tongue tie foiled our attempts at breastfeeding, and we placed him on a hypoallergenic formula.”what will the baby keep down today?” became a frequent question soon after ash experienced his first solid: boiled carrots.


as the first baby in an intentional community house, he experiences no milestone without an appreciative audience.


TV4A8927looking coy, post carrots.

the carrots proved harmless enough and, emboldened, we expanded his culinary repertoire.

as i said, i had a hunch about the peanuts. with no concrete reason to worry, though, we gave him peanut butter at about 9 months old. it started well enough; he dabbed some on his sweet round cheeks and stared at us with a look of pure enjoyment.

peanut butter ash 001this is a look of pure enjoyment. trust me.

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soon he began to scratch, a not uncommon occurrence for our little eczema baby.

peanut butter ash 010and then he began to swell.

peanut butter ash 013this was the last picture i took before tossing my camera on the counter and rushing the baby into a soapy bath. yes, i am the mother whose child had an anaphylactic reaction in front of me and i stood there taking pictures without even realizing. mom of the year award.

peanut allergies, while not fun, are nonetheless fairly common. we continued to feed the child without worrying too much about subsequent issues. oh sure, he puked up cow’s milk. and his special dairy free formula gave him reflux. and his special goat milk formula caused a bleeding diaper rash. and tomatoes and citrus were out because of his eczema. and gluten gave him gas. and his food sensitivity panel bar graph looked like the dubai skyline. but other than that, he could eat anything! (as long as it didn’t require chewing, since he didn’t have teeth.)

this pretty much left … more carrots.

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so, we fed him carrots and almond milk, and somehow he grew and … sorta … thrived

until one day last may, when i fed him the same sausage that he had eaten every week for months. chicken apple – a hoity-toity brand with no “caramelly appetizing color #42” or “crude oil as a preservative” … the kind with prune juice as a sweetener. as soon as it touched him, it burned sores and blisters onto his already fragile skin. this sausage, the one that he ate almost daily. we suspect that the culprit is the pineapple-juice-from-the-tropics-of-hell that was on the ingredient list, but we can’t be sure.

adding insult to injury, the child still has scars on his thighs from this incident that don’t seem to be receding very quickly. at this rate, he’ll be explaining his sausage battle scars to the rest of 7th grade p.e. class, a fate that this paranoid parent may have spent a bit too much time agonizing about.

the date allergy was discovered after the consumption of several innocently named “lara bars.” i assume that this lara-human bears no specific ill will against my son, but if she does then may she spend the rest of eternity cultivating pineapples.

so we feed the child warily, our vision sharp and our affect tense. at every meal we march to the battlefield, eyes keen, searching for a sign of the enemy. “is that a hive or a zit?” “does his lip look swollen to you?” “why is his hand red? WHY IS HIS HAND RED?” parenting food allergies is a gig for thrill seekers.

yes, we have learned well the lesson of the pestilent legume and the death sausage. constant vigilance.

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1000 days

i blame our friend becky. she started it.

becky loves to celebrate her friends’ 10,000th day of life with elaborate surprise plans, involving city-wide scavenger hunts, strange foods to sample, and – no joke, she actually did this to somebody – skydiving. the 10,000th day hits a few months after the 27th birthday, which meant that, back in may, i was given my 10,000th day celebration. even though i know  the drill by now i still had no idea what my friends were up to, until joel took me to lunch and gave me this letter that he wrote, which explains why we love the idea of day-celebrations so much.

Today, you’ve been on this world for 10,000 days. When you measure a life by days rather than years it changes perspective quite a bit. A day brings to mind meals, chores, conversations and all the beautifully small things of life.

Years are just too big to be meaningful to us. Years bring to mind job changes, big family changes and moving homes. Days are what life is made of. Years are what biographies are made of. Days are what matter.

Today we celebrate the beautiful smallness of life. We celebrate all the amazingness that has mostly been forgotten. We celebrate mindfulness.

You spent days playing at your parents climbing trees and running around, taking care of animals. You played literal days of piano at home at at churches. You worked at Rose’s Tea Room serving thousands of cups of tea and who knows how many scones. We’ve been married almost 3600 days. The past 1000 days have been consumed with our children, Aida, Ash and Sky. They have filled your mind, and eyes and ears every day. You’ve changed thousands of diapers, made 100’s of eggs and lost untold hours of sleep. Spent hours breast feeding and unfortunately breast pumping. You’ve played games and dried tears. You’ve filled days with laughter, tears, stress, joy, relief, prayer, and pain.

The smallness of life is what is important.
You live in the small things.

As you look back at the past 10,000 days I’m sure that so much is a blur, so much of what you remember must feel random. You remember the most insignificant things and forget some of the most important. Entire years blur together into a mush. You have gone through pain and joy. You have been weak and strong. You have been wise and foolish. Through it all, you have been you. Through the 10,000 sunrises you have been Lani.

Give yourself grace, you make mistakes like all, learn from them and move on.
Be reckless; you will make more memories.

When you have lived 20,000 days you will be almost 55 and it will be fall, I’ll have just turned 63 and it will be the 33rd anniversary of you getting hit by a car. There is so much of life left. You’ll eat 30,000 meals between now and then. Go to sleep more than 10,000 times. You’ll spend days with friends and family, learning new things, seeing new things and delighting in old things. 

Today, we remember the days, look forward to more and do just a little that will feel good and make another day to remember.

There is so much smallness to delight in.

So many beautiful tiny things from which to derive joy. I’m looking forward to journeying with you as we do it together. I’ll be your partner as we live the days together. 

Perhaps someday we’ll become wise enough to count the hours instead, as they are even more precious than the days.

Until then, lets fill up our days with beautiful smallness and delight in it all.

(certain mushy parts omitted. you’re welcome.)

that day was filled with lovely memories, the mundane kind of special that is lunch out, a pedicure, that sort of thing. no skydiving, thank heavens. i prefer to keep a safe distance from them – the heavens, that is.

today, however, is another millenidia.

2 days ago marked 1000 days since sky’s last heartbeat. yesterday was 1000 days from when we learned that he was gone, and today is 1000 days since his birth.

1000 sunrises, 1000 sunsets.
1000 breakfasts, 1000 dinners.
1000 good mornings, 1000 goodnight kisses.

we miss the years with him, the birthdays and christmases and spring-into-summer-into-falls, but oh, how we miss the days. the days are where grief is lived and loss is worked out, through each missed moment and moment of missing. on his birthdays we celebrate his short life, but on his millenidia we look at 1000 days and wish that we had experienced even one.

today, i will change sky’s siblings’ diapers in honor of his.
i will wipe his little sister’s nose and remember his perfect newborn nose of 1000 days ago.
i will repeat mama and dada with his brother and sister, learning language together with sky’s mama and dada.
i will give his sick brother all of the special kind of bittersweet cuddles that mamas of loss have; we hold just a little tighter.

it will be another day of love and loss, pain and joy, stress and relief, morning and night. another day.

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