Sunday, August 2, 2015

the luckiest seven






 (on our first date in 2008, outside of our clothing store in 2010, college graduation in 2011, and Joony's newborn pictures in our Main Street Rexburg apartment in 2012)

I struggle to write about my marriage.  I worry I'll trivialize it by talking about it with less-than-perfect words, that I'll be unable to express the true depth of my feelings or the complexity of this commitment.  I think people talked to me before I got married the same way they talked to me before I had Clark.  "It's so hard, but so worth it!"  And that's it.  I couldn't ever wrap my head around broad statements like that.  What could be hard about it?  What makes it worth it? I know the answers now, but they're complicated, and it really is easier to say something like "We work hard, but it's the best!" than it is to find the words to say what a marriage truly is.

To me, marriage is having a second person become a part of my story, someone who knows every small triumph, every ugly cry, every turn that led up to those big life moments.  It's sharing a life in the most complete way.

It's being on stage at my college convocation and making eye contact with the person who saw me crying in defeat over a disappointing grade, made midnight soda runs, and took me out to dinner every time I finished a semester.

 It's being handed my beautiful, healthy son by the person who saw my shoulders slump every time I got a negative pregnancy test, who worried while I paced the apartment in the middle of the night when I woke up in pain, who held me while I sobbed because I wouldn't get the birth I'd been so excited for.

It's a celebratory "we sold our business!" dinner with the person who stayed up late after doing homework to do the store's books, who learned how to change bulbs in a tanning bed, who brought me lunch because there were no breaks when we didn't have employees.

It's the years of planning and hoping and praying and risk taking that came before high-fiving each other as we crossed over into Arizona behind a moving truck.

It's exposing every scary, unflattering, awful part of myself and knowing he'll stay after seeing them.  It's best friendship, complete equality, Netflix in bed, knowing his favorite snacks at the grocery store, a quick wink across a crowded room, a million inside jokes.  It's partnership and bickering and back scratches and secret love notes.  18 year old Brandilyn did a lot of stupid things, but deciding to marry David Haynes was not one of them.

Happy anniversary, David! I love you more today than I did on August 2, 2008. I love you more today than I did yesterday. I love you forever.

Monday, July 13, 2015

clark, three years and three months


I walked in on Joony messing with an antique table in my parent's bedroom:
"Hey, dude! Get out of here!"
Joony, turning to Duke the pitbull, who was sleeping peacefully in the corner:
"Yeah, Duke! You get outta here!"

On going to the dentist: "They spray water, and I haf new teeth!"

Narrating my Taco Bell dinner: "Oookay, mom haf taco.  Wow, good job, mom, you eat taco! Reeree good! Oh, and chips? And cheese? Woow. Mom eat chips. Mom eat cheese. Mom eat taco.  Eat food, all gone!"

When I say "I am SO proud of you!" after he uses the toilet: "Hey, mom! I fo proud of YOU!"

(While pulling a Corona out of my parent's refrigerator): "Look! Apple juice!"

He had an unfortunate accident when we didn't make it to the toilet in time.  As I was cleaning out his underpants, he walked over to Tina (our cat) and said "Hey, Tina! You come here and see my yucky poops, Tina.  Come and see! YUCK."

"Hey, mom! A tractor!"
"Wow, cool tractor!"
(shaking his head patiently) "No no, mom. Say 'Holy cow!'"
"Oh, okay. Holy cow!"
"Good job, mom."

Every single time we walk in the front door, after a big, satisfied sigh: "We home. Feels good, mom!"

On the human body: "Mom? I tooted and...I feel good!"

On a positive attitude: "I wake up, and I cry. I so sad! Then...I happy. And I so happy!"

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

a late bloomer

My son didn't crawl until right before his first birthday.  He didn't walk for a few more months after that.  His speech has been slower to develop than other kids his age (sometimes I feel like I'm 50% mother, 50% translator).  He still sleeps happily in his crib. He wasn't potty trained at 18 months.  At 3, he doesn't count to 50 or cook meals or spell his name.  He's starting to string together some pretty funny sentences, he sleeps through the night, and he is a happy guy.  Every time I meet with our pediatrician, I'm assured that he's a healthy, normal kid meeting his milestones on his own time.

I've had to be careful about the things I read too much of on the internet.  I've been good about unfollowing fitness accounts that make me feel terrible about my body, which is strong and pretty and does not deserve harsh criticism.  I remove hateful, close-minded political ranters from my feed because they leave me upset for hours.  But moms are tricky.  I always read Instagram and Facebook posts with a laundry list of academic and developmental milestones that people's kids are reaching that aren't anywhere close to what my kid is doing.  They make me worry when I never would have otherwise.  Is he dumb? Is he delayed? Am I not doing enough?  And then I feel terrible for thinking that about my beautiful, funny, quirky, clever son!

I know everyone is proud of what their kids do, and I try to remember they're not trying to act snotty about it.  So much of this is just me being sensitive because I'm a worrier. I will never understand the race to have our babies grow up so fast. I see so many moms rushing to get them on the toilet, out of the crib, off the boob, and I think...why?  What's wrong with a baby?

I don't know, I opened this post to write about potty training and got sidetracked.  But we did it!  Joony potty trained in less than a week and I'm so proud, but I worried that writing about it might make someone who's struggling through accidents and tantrums sad.  I don't want anyone to worry about where their kid is at right this moment. I have a late bloomer in every area, and it's taught me to enjoy every stage for as long as it lasts, and it's been a real exercise in minding my own business. In being happy for someone else and happy for myself at the same time.
So potty training: we didn't even try until after his third birthday, and I'm so glad because he was ready then, but not before.  Once again, late bloomer.  There were no power struggles.  Not even any huge accidents (except for one memorable turd in our backyard).  He holds it and goes when it's time.  I'm so proud of him I could burst, and when I say "Joony, I am so proud of you!" he beams and hugs my leg and laughs "Yeah! Yeah, mom! I fo poud of you!" I had anxiety for weeks about starting this process. I stressed and cried and fretted and read ridiculous articles with titles like "Potty Train in ONE DAY With This Simple Trick!" In the end, I didn't use any secret Pinterest tricks or formulas.  We did it our way, on our own time, and it felt so good.  And it's done!  We did it!  The fact that it was kind of a non-issue in our home, that we were even able to have some fun with it, felt like a big, fat miracle.  I felt like a good mom.  I'm proud of that.

(...and if you're offended by pictures of kids on toilets, well, you can just suck it)

Saturday, June 27, 2015

nothing i wouldn't do

I'm wrapping up a really tough semester.  None of my courses were terrible, none of my professors unreasonable, I think this was just the first time that I didn't sit down to do schoolwork every week and think, "Yes! Here we go!" Pretty cool that it took nine months to feel a little resistance in motivation, right?  The most annoying part is that, without fail, every time I got into it I enjoyed myself. I kept feeling frustrated that I wasn't sitting down to write because I knew how happy I would be when I finally did.

So! I'm about to finish up Fundamentals of Contemporary Fiction, Personal Essay, and Young Adult Lit classes.  I only took two classes for my first semester, then upped it to three, and then did three again with only two week's break.  I've got a two week break before jumping back into another three class semester: David Foster Wallace, Lyric Essay, and helping edit the Fiction portion of the Lindenwood Review.  I'm excited about all three and I'm hoping my two week break gives me more motivation that I had going into Spring quarter. I'm already feeling close to being done, and it's making my head spin. I'm halfway there! I can tell I'm going to get all nostalgic about it because it's happening already.

Now I'm in a daze. Every time I put Joon down for a nap or bedtime I do the frantic mental inventory: what needs to get done, what's due next, what big projects are coming up, what do I need to be reading, and I panic a little every time my brain comes up blank.  Nothing! Nothing but watch Seinfeld and read for pleasure for two full weeks! Live it up, B!  I might start painting. I might start taking evening baths! (< that's a flat out lie, it's been in the 110's lately and a warm bath sounds mildly hellish) I am for sure picking up gardening, so prepare yourselves for an update on the status of my new cactus pot garden...and by that I mean cacti in pots, not cacti and pot. I am growing one thing, and that is cactus.


So! What's everyone reading? I need a good, juicy summer read for my break. And what are you baking? I love an evening baking project. And WHAT, for the love of all that is good and holy, are you wearing if you live in the desert because I am so hot. I'm so hot. I change my clothes 2-3 times a day because of...uh....sweat. Never expect anything less than classy from me, dear readers.

Totally unrelated pictures of 1.) Tina purposefully taunting Joony while he was trying to watch Mighty Machines. I wish I had an audio clip to attach of him shouting "Hey Tina! You get down! You get down right now Tina!" and 2.) a swim evening trying to beat the heat.

Monday, June 8, 2015

wanna keep you here

 Reasons I Haven't Been Blogging:

1. My parents are moving here! To Arizona! How many blog posts have I written about homesickness?  How many times have I cried for days after saying good-bye to my parents?  Well, it's over because they're here and everything is magical.  We've been busy helping them unload truckloads.

    1a. I got to drive home to Livermore for a hot second to help my mom bring the horses out! We drove to California on Friday, spent Saturday with my sister and niecey-poo (who finally decided I was cool enough to talk to, YES), and drove back Sunday with the trailer.  I got the see the house I grew up in one last time (SOB) and it was wonderful and weird.  It was also the longest I've been away from Joony, which was very nice and also very sad. When I walked in after being gone for 3 days he said "Oh, hi, mom," and then he did a double take and his eyes widened and he yelled "Mama!" My heart.
 The 580 headed out of Livermore  

  1b. Joony and I have been house-sitting while my parents go back and forth finalizing move details.  We get to spend most of our days hanging out at my parent's gorgeous new place taking care of the horses and dogs.  They have a pit bull named Duke who curls up in my lap whenever I sit on the couch and a tiny dog named Pierre who bosses Duke around.  We love the animals. I wish I could say Tina is so sad when I'm gone, but I don't think she cares at all (she cares a little).  And the horses know me now!  They nicker when I come out because they know it's either turn out or feeding time.  Horses and dogs and fresh air are good for my soul.
My parents magical new backyard hammock
2. My baby turned three. Three! High-fiving all the angels for the terrible twos being over.  I know we should never, ever wish time away, and how quickly their childhoods go and all that but...two sucked.  Two sucked hard.  Two was the hardest year of my life.  Three is not sunshine and roses, but three is a world of difference.  He is chatty, he is funny, I feel like I've fallen in love with parenting over and over again every day lately.  What a dream.  What a life! He is enrolled in preschool for the fall and we're considering potty training and maybe transitioning to a big kid bed (but let's not get too crazy here #latebloomer).

3. Fight night! I've been taking Group Fight and yoga classes at the YMCA and loving life. I'm so skinny and strong now you wouldn't even recognize me (I literally look exactly like I always have).  I've also been drinking 80-100 oz. of water a day and the results are blowing my mind. My skin is so clear! So healthy, so fit, so inspirational. I also started Fit Bitting! David got me a FitBit for my birthday and 24 hours later, I'm obsessed. How do I add friends? Find me and be my friend!
4. School.  Duh. I'm finishing up my third semester and it's been the hardest one yet because I'm struggling with motivation for the first time ever.  Some days I just don't feel like writing, but I have to sit down and produce anyways.  It's good for me, and it's also mentally draining. Next semester I'm taking David Foster Wallace, Lyric Essay, and I'm helping edit Lindenwood's literary journal (the fiction portion). It's going to be good!  It's going to be so good.  Two weeks off will also be good.

So...basically...life.  Things happen and I think "Gosh, that would be fun to blog," and then I forget and weeks pass and I sit down at my computer and go "Now what was that post idea?" But, ah, well, here we are anyways.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I need you all in

Joony had a dentist appointment yesterday.  It was his first and I was really worried about how it would go, plus we had a good idea that he would need some work beyond a cleaning on his front two teeth.

Once I made the appointment, almost every day leading up to it I got reminders from the office.  In all, three texts and three phone calls.  It felt like overkill, so I might have walked in a little annoyed right off the bat.  After over 30 minutes of sitting in the waiting room, Joon came up with a pained look on his face.  "Mom...my diaper.  Oh no, diaper..." These days he'll go a couple hours in between diaper changes, so I hadn't packed anything for it since we weren't planning on being out of the house that long.  Crap.  Literally.

"Hey, I'm so sorry, but I think we're going to need to reschedule and come back.  My son's got a diaper situation."
"Oh. I think they were just about to call you back."
"It's not really that, he's just...he's got a really messy diaper and I don't have a clean one on me."
"Well, when they do his exam, he'll sit in your lap while the doctor examines him.  So it's not really a big deal."  Wait...huh?
Just then we were called in.  The exam was only 5 minutes long, and he sat in my lap the whole time.  It was fast, but by the time it was done, we were both covered in poop.  It was soaking through my pant legs, it was all over Joony's shorts, it was...a disgusting mess. I felt horrible.  We went back out to the reception desk, they handed me a stack of papers with a $1800 estimate for 2 cavity fillings, and we were on our merry way.

The whole way home Joony cried, I tried not to cry, David texted a joke to cheer me up, I snapped back at him because this isn't funny, it was just my finest hour in parenting ever.  Sometimes I really, really wish raising kids looked like the advertisements. It just doesn't, though.  Most days it looks like poop all over my pants and my kid whimpering in the backseat and me chanting "I'm sorry, baby. I'm so sorry, we'll be home soon, I promise!"

So we got home, showered and in clean clothes, cuddled up on the bed to watch 15 minutes of Curious George before nap time, and suddenly I felt a little silly for all of the drama.  Because it is silly...but I also think it's okay to be a little dramatic when I'm covered in poop, right? Okay.

Friday, May 1, 2015

now the future's sorted out

David always says that he isn't a very good gift giver, but he's wrong. He's a great gifter.

Our first married Valentine's Day, we were dirt poor college students and he remembered that I had admired a flannel shirt in the little boy's section at Wal Mart, so he got it for me along with a kitten notebook and a jar of my favorite salsa verde.  To date it's one of the best gifts I've ever been given.

On our second anniversary, he found a 1980's Schwinn on Craigslist, bought it, and fixed it up for me.  I rode it to and from campus a million times, and for my birthday a few years later he got me red tires for it.  Red!  Once Joony came along we hooked the trailer to it so we could ride around town together and that bike hauled me, Joony, and often our groceries for the week.

In June of last year, I'd applied to my master's program but hadn't been accepted yet.  I was a ball of nerves, convinced my writing sample was total crap and I would be receiving a "Thanks for applying, but..." letter any day.  My birthday came and I still hadn't heard anything.  When I opened a laptop from David, he shrugged and said simply "You'll need it, you know, for school.  For writing."  While it was a very practical gift (there's no way I could be doing this much writing on the iPad I was using before), it was also a deeply touching one.  Knowing that he believed in me, that he truly thought I would be accepted, made me feel so looked after and loved.
This year, I've just headed into my third semester of school.  I've been doing most of my homework and writing from our bed, which is comfortable but not very motivating.  On Monday night, he told me were headed to IKEA and we went and picked up a desk for Mother's Day!  It's the most perfect little nook for me to work in, and once again, I feel reminded that David believes in me and supports my goals.
And hey! A Flash Fiction piece I wrote for one of my classes last semester is in this month's issue of Foliate Oak. Check me out!