Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Remains of the Day

Two tiny plastic bowls in the sink: one stained green and the other kind of brown. A spotted bib on the washing machine. The smell of bananas and cinnamon. The whir of the dishwasher. Johnson&Johnson scented bubbles on the drain of the bathroom sink. The peace of knowing there is a heavy little bundle sleeping sweetly as I sink into an Irresistible Apple bubble bath with a lullaby stuck in my head. I open the well-worn paperback Anne's House of Dreams and feel the warmth of the water and the satisfaction of a good day envelope me. Goodnight.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ten Twitterables

If I were on Twitter, here are just ten of the things I would have bored you with over the last month.

1. Benjamin is six months old
2. Benjamin eats peas, carrots, acorn squash, apples with cinnamon, bananas, and rice cereal in addition to his usual diet of mommy's milk
3. Made my own baby food purees
4. Made my own baby wipes
5. Benjamin has two teeth
6. Tried to do what a magazine called "Pilates with your Baby"--ended up flat on my back laughing hysterically while Benjamin sucked ravenously on my chin. Not exactly the tummy toner I was going for.
7. Threw a "blessing shower" for my sister-in-law
8. Wrote a couple of children's book manuscripts (hopefully something will come of that)
9. Submitted an essay to a magazine, which was passed up (that will probably only happen about a thousand more times before one is accepted)
10. Read The Once And Future King and am sure I don't remember half of that book from high school--did we read an abridgement back then?

Aren't you glad I'm not tweeting all the time? I mean, I could be telling you about every diaper change and nursing session.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

From Life's First Cry

I have a beautiful little rocking chair in Benjamin's nursery. Before that, it was in my nursery and before that, in my mother's. It means a lot to me to have something so special. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love heirloom and tradition, heritage and family. I get very upset if I feel that someone is less than gentle with something I consider an heirloom. When I was a child, the rocking chair was broken (I think by Adam standing on the rocker) and when I first got pregnant, I wasn't sure it could be fixed. The wooden rocker was completely broken--wood glue would have just been joke, which is probably why my parents never had it fixed. But I asked them if I could have it anyway because I knew that if anyone could fix it, Stan Riggs could. I took it to Stan and he made a new rocker to replace the broken one. He did it so fast and so beautifully--I couldn't tell you now which is the original rocker and which is the one he made. I was so relieved, and so grateful.

Stan Riggs passed away this week. He was such a beautiful man, the patriarch of one of our favorite families, and the go-to guy for nearly all of Abilene where woodworking was concerned. I am so glad that Adam broke that rocker, because it means that Stan got to fix it with his wonderful hands.

I sat with Benjamin in that chair this morning and looked at his round little face. And I thought about how, 85 years ago, maybe Stan's mother looked at his little baby face. It's hard to imagine people who have always been old in our lives as having had lives before us--from babyhood through young adulthood. It's like we think their lives began when we first became aware of them, or that they always were the way we knew them. But I look at my baby, at eyes that have no lines around them, skin that is smooth with trust and inexperience. And I know he will not always look this way. His face will be touched and refined by the years, by joy that is not merely the laughter of a baby, and by grief as well. Hopefully he will grow to be empathetic to the triumphs and tragedies of others. I hope he will live long enough and well enough to know some of the things Stan Riggs knew.

I'm finding it difficult to articulate my exact thoughts on this journey from where we begin to where we end (and then begin again in Glory). I wish I could find the words because it seems too important to leave alone. There's a song that I love and that I often sing to Benjamin in the lullaby hours. It's called "In Christ Alone" and my favorite part says, "From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny." I have never (really, not once) been able to sing that line without choking up. That line always makes me think of the faithfulness of God in the lives of people I know. It gives me the faith to pray for my son, knowing that what God did for Stan Riggs, He will do for Benjamin Brokaw. In His Name, I pray He will give Benjamin a heart for Himself and the gifts to glorify His holy Name, that He will give him love and family and friends and responsibilty. I pray that Jon and I will do our part well, so that Benjamin can do his part better later.

I'm sorry this was such a long post and a rambling one. It makes sense in my heart and I hope it does in yours.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


When I was watching my sister Christina at her bridal shower the other morning, I remembered how I, too, once unwrapped dozens of beautifully wrapped boxes of gleaming stemware, chargers, plates, and glasses. I remember lining all of my brand new things up neatly in my cabinets and admiring how pretty everything looked. I vividly remember a huge stack of boxes and bags and packing peanuts that took up three quarters of the kitchen floor after I had unloaded all of the trappings of a newlywed home.

Now, five years later, my home is once again full of boxes and bags: about thirty blue and yellow baby themed bags in the closet and four or five diaper boxes in various rooms. The boxes do not, as they claim, contain 236 size 2/3 diapers. The one in the bedroom contains clothes that I will probably never be small enough to wear again. Two in the nursery are full of baby clothes that I can't believe he's already outgrown (one box for consignment and one to keep forever). And the ones in the living room are stuffed with newspaper and some of the things I so lovingly unwrapped five years ago: champagne flutes, wine glasses, pasta bowls, a platter--things I hardly ever used, things that had to go to make room for bright colored sippy cups, plastic bowls and lids, and tiny soft spoons. For days I've been working on an overhaul of the kitchen, moving out the pretty but rarely used, moving in the bright unbreakables, moving up the glass and down the wooden, stone, and Tupperware. This is what is commonly called "baby proofing," but as I look at how my home is shaping up, I don't think I'm making it as much baby proof as baby friendly.

I used to wonder why my parents didn't have nicer stuff, why most of their glasses were plastic and their pots and pans dull. But one of my earliest memories is of sitting on the kitchen floor with an open cabinet in front of me, a stock pot between my legs, a spoon in my fist and a terrific clatter in the air. I do not know how old I was or how my mom could stand the noise. And, most importantly, I do not remember her making me stop. Now I wonder if she moved those things down to the bottom cabinet on purpose and I wonder if she gave up something pretty and breakable and hardly used to make room for the plastic cups and cereal bowls of my childhood. I wonder if she even gave me the spoon.

It's funny how the things that come into our homes in gracefully wrapped gift boxes often go out of them in less graceful packaging. It's funny how a home evolves to contain all the trappings of love and little people and how a quiet woman can become one who smiles through so much noise for the sake of the singularly wonderful sound of a laughing baby.

Aragog update

Looks like we lost our spider friend on the highway the other night, so my question was "moo." "It's like a cow's opinion. It just doesn't matter. It's moo!"

Saturday, August 8, 2009


We have a spider living in the side mirror of our car. Every night it builds its web between the side mirror and the driver side window. And every morning it rolls up its web and takes it in between the casing and the mirror. Sometimes, if we go out early enough and start driving, he will come out in a panic and finish rolling up his web as it is flapping in the wind. I can always tell if he has just eaten because his body is big and fat right after a meal. He's not poisonous but he's a big enough spider than you wouldn't want him to bite you. So, my question is should I let this tiny acramantula live, or stop him before he takes over the rest of the car?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Murphey's Law Brokaw Style

If the forecast is 98 degrees and we have family pictures planned for outdoors, the actual temperature will rise to about 102 degrees. And it will be humid.
The air conditioner will leak when the house is full of company. (poor Shirley)
People will be late.
We will forget several somethings we meant to bring along.
Baby drool will be on our shoulders.
At least one baby will break out in a rash because of the grass outside.
When we finally gather the whole family for the big group picture, at least one baby will start to fuss and cry and turn red.
Yes, if anything can go wrong, it will. But it will also come out right in the end. 
The pictures will be beautiful.
The family will have so much fun together in the end, they won't remember the stress in the beginning. And eventually, we will forget how hard it was to organize, and we will be crazy enough to do it all again.