Thursday, November 22, 2018

grateful and sad

is there a word for being overwhelmed with gratitude but simultaneously sad? this time of year is extremely hard for me and it's not just because it was my mom's favorite time of year or because her presence is missed MORE (i'll be honest, her presence is missed at maximum capacity 365 days a year), but it's because i try so hard not to associate this time of year with cancer.

we spent our last thanksgiving as a family at georgetown hospital, begging the doctors and nurses to just assure us whatever was going on wasn't cancer. it was as horrible as it sounds. but i remember feeling so grateful. that we were together. that my uncle and aunt in new mexico dropped everything and flew in to be with us. for my (now) sister-in-law who made us a full thanksgiving dinner and delivered it to us. for the 939 unanswered text messages from practically every friend i ever had, checking in on me, telling me how much they loved me and they loved eileen.

and so i remain grateful.

i am grateful that i love my husband more today than i ever have. that he commutes to richmond every single day for a better paying job and a better future for our family. that he adores our daughter, challenges me in ways that i never expected, and loves me completely.

i am grateful that instead of fracturing our family, like death so often does, it brought me closer to my brothers. everyone always says, "there's nothing like sisters!" or "there's nothing like brothers!" and as the only girl i always felt like i was missing out on some special bond with a sibling that shared my gender. but now i would argue and say "there's nothing like looking at your sibling, and feeling their heart break in your own chest." i am grateful to have two men who understand the utter joy it was to grow up under eileen's wing, and the despair it feels to no longer have her here. i am grateful that i will never be alone in my grief because i will always have them.

i am grateful that my dad didn't die right after my mom. i didn't know if he could survive his broken heart, i remember praying myself to sleep in the weeks after my mom passed away: "please god, let him survive. give my strength to him. i can't lose them both." and what i have witnessed over the last few years is an extremely remarkable man choose joy every single day. he seems to have one hand in heaven with my mom and the other tightly holding onto my little girl.

eily. oh my eily. i am so grateful she came when she did. i didn't dream of having children when i was little, but i did dream about having eily. whenever i doubt my faith, she is my reminder that not only is there a heaven but there is a god who loves us, and protects us, and might not take away the darkness but never leaves our side as we fight toward the light.

i am grateful for my faith. without it, i would have forever been surrounded by darkness.

happy thanksgiving. i hope you're as grateful as i am.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

christmas gifts for a child who doesn't need anything

you know the 5 languages of love? well mine is gift giving. i will search for the perfect gift for months, and then search for the perfect wrapping paper, tie the perfect bow, etc. my mom was an exceptional gift giver so it's not surprising that in her absence i feel the need to fill that void for my dad, my brothers, patricio, and eily.

it takes a concentrated effort on my behalf to not go crazy at christmas and buy eily ALL OF THE THINGS. even though i know i'll regret it december 26 because we don't have the space and because she will lose interest in half of it in a week, and the rush of giving the gift is temporary, i still have to practice restraint. after much's what is waiting for eily under the tree:

she wants a choo choo from santa so we got her this classic.

she's obsessed with helping her daddy, her own set of tools seemed appropriate. as did her own mixer now that she's big enough to help in the kitchen.

she is equally obsessed with checking busy (her baby) for all kinds of bruises, bumps, and ailments AND the tv show, doc mcstuffins, so when i saw this at homegoods this summer i knew she had to have it.

she's going to flip when she opens this and realizes that she (finally!) has her own set of working keys. right now we give her the key to her closet to play with but she's convinced herself "eily hand too small for dis key" my heart....

because we already have magnatiles (which soooo many friends recommended!) i got these bricks. i like that they're a different shape but still magnetic.

and for her stocking (my personal favorite!): reusable bandaidsa book, this pink squishy car (that santa did not pay $25 for, i can tell you that!), spelly straws, and a tradition i love: new pajamas. her first nightgown, i might add.

Monday, November 19, 2018

merry minimalist christmas!

i posted a few weeks ago about our very merry minimalist christmas and i got a lot of messages/inquiries about what exactly that is so i thought i would share.

i have always suffered from anxiety and crippling fear. when i was 11 i convinced myself that i was going to get raped and kidnapped and would announce to my family at the dinner table that i had survived another day, but i wasn't sure about tomorrow. sounds crazy huh? well it was. my mom, ever the believer in homeopathy, would pour "rescue remedy" down my throat to chill me out and as i got older she added a cold glass of chardonnay to the routine. my fear and anxiety has never gone away, but i have learned to identify what triggers me, and when it comes to my anxiety nothing sets me off more than STUFF. whether it's a pile of magazines, trash bags haphazardly stored under the kitchen sink, or a counter that needs to be cleared, STUFF drives my anxiety through the roof. when we knew we were going to have a baby, and STUFF was inevitable, my loving husband said "honey let's pretend like it's 1980 and only buy what we absolutely positively need. no bells and whistles." so that's what we did - i tried my best to register for the items that didn't take up a lot of space, could be easily stored, and were very very basic. that's not to say we didn't end up with three strollers, and i didn't buy every single thing that assured me my baby would sleep after a few months of sleepless nights (guess what, nothing worked), but we avoided a lot of stuff by asking ourselves "how long will we use this? did our parents have it? will this be easy to store for a second baby?"

then we decided to buy a tiny house. i'm talking TINY. our house had recently been flipped so everything was brand new and just our style - we looked at it as an investment property assuming we would move when our family grew and easily find renters because it's in a great location and is sweet as can be. it is old (so no closet space) and it is smaller than our first apartment in chicago. and honestly? i love it. i love that everything in our house has a purpose, i love that we aren't heating/cooling space that isn't getting used, and that eily doesn't have a shitload of junk in her room. we rotate toys every month or so and she's still at the age where this "BIG SURPRISE" of new toys is greeted with pure excitement even though they're old toys she forgot about. i'm also a big fan of the montessori method of learning which embraces "less is more" and serves as a nice guide for toys that serve many purposes. clothes are the next big hurdle for us, and i am currently working on sorting through everything i own so i have a wardrobe of just 40 pieces (20 for spring/summer and 20 for fall/winter) and will be donating or selling what i don't absolutely positively love/feel good in. i stronly believe living with less is not only good for my mental health but it's beneficial to eily's developing brain, and i know it's amazing for mother earth as the less we buy, the less trash we produce.

so...where does that leave us for things like christmas/birthdays? i ask my family to gift eily with "experiences" over toys. a membership to the children's museum, a month of gymnastics class, and if there is something they want to buy i try and push them for things that will get us outside (like the little house she got for her 2nd birthday!) or open ended toys. pat and i rarely buy gifts for each other and when we do, we go the experience route too. one year we went and saw the packers/redskins play. this year we are going to see dave matthews (a little BABY!) in charlottesville with friends, and i've asked him not to get me anything for my birthday/anniversary/valentines for a few years so i can eventually buy a diamond/sapphire band to add to my engagement and wedding rings.

if you're interested in learning more from the experts here are some good reads:

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

Simplicity Parenting

The Year of Less

The Minimalist Home - I haven't read this one but LOL at it being #1 in Hoarding Addicition and Recovery

May I suggest you check your local library or buy the kindle version versus purchasing a hard copy because you know....STUFF!!!!!!!!!

Sunday, October 7, 2018

oh, hello again!

Time to brush off the ol blog folks.

I haven't written in a very long time and I miss it. I miss being able to capture chapters of my life on the interwebs. I love being able to go back and read about planning for our wedding, our life in chicago, my memories of here we are. AML Chitter Chatter: In Her 30s.

What will my first post be about? There's so much to write much going on as a wife, as a working mom, so many issues in this glorious and flawed county that I love. I won't be making a political statement. Nope. I'm PRETTY much in the middle of all this insanity going on. I don't think I have anything to add. Much like Chris Rock, I believe that anyone who makes up their mind before they listen to the actual issue is an idiot. "Be a person. Listen. No normal decent person is one thing" Guns? Get rid of them. Drugs? Don't get rid of them, please.

I guess in this world of Republican vs. Democrat I would, above anything else, identify myself as a feminist. I remember being in high school and my argument that Serena Williams was the greatest athlete of our time was met with laughter from my guy friends. BTW, hi, if you're reading this: you were wrong and I was right! Anyways, I just want every person, woman or man to be treated the same, paid the same, be valued the same.  I don't want to argue about what someone did when they were 15 years old, I want to know why 4 out of 114 supreme court justices have been women. Why was Ronald Reagan the first President to nominate a female Supreme Court Justice. Really? RONNIE?! I am already thinking about how to explain to Eily that life isn't always going to be fair because she was born a female. I pray that she will know her value, that she will be comfortable in her skin, that she will never have to feel the need to change who she is to accommodate the expectations of a man in her life.

...and then I remember who her dad is. My husband. My Republican, conservative, Midwestern, salt of the earth husband has never asked me to change my name. Five days away from our five year anniversary and I am still Anna Maria Lewis. I haven't changed my name because really, I don't know WHY I would. He's quietly allowed me to figure out who I want to be. He knows that my love and heart is his, but my name is mine. I married a feminist. My little girl will have two feminists as parents. How lucky is she?

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

my girl

July 31

i still can't believe patricio and i are parents. i can't believe i carried a baby in my body for over 40 weeks and that same body was in labor for 23 hours. i had been DREADING labor, i had honest to god prayed for years (26 years to be exact, ever since daniel was born and my mom semi-explained how he got here)  that i would be one of those women who went to the bathroom and walked out with a baby. as luck should have it, that wasn't our story.

when she finally arrived, i remember being just exhausted - emotionally and physically drained from being overdue, the contractions, the drugs, the worry, and fear (your water breaking 8 miles from the hospital is a scary thing yall!) - but when patrick handed her to me it's like time stood still and i was seeing all of the best parts of myself and of patrick in one perfectly swaddled bundle. for the first time since losing my mom i felt complete peace. there's a start, and there's an end, and i had now witnessed both.

i remember her little face so perfectly. she was trying so hard to see me, to focus on me, and trying so hard to catch her breath. we just looked at each other in utter awe until i finally said the first words that came to mind: "i love you little girl, i have been waiting my whole life to meet you."

and without realizing it, that's very much how i feel like i spent the 31 years before eily. i was just waiting to meet her.  her little soul was meant to be on this earth and every decision i made, every mistake, every ounce of heartbreak, of joy, of sorrow, it all happened for a reason and that reason is eily. these five months have been filled with some of the most tender moments i'll ever have. there's also been many incredible highs and equally devastating lows, but i'm so stinking glad she's here.