Tuesday, March 3, 2015

We Wean

My Iris weaned. She self-weaned a week short of her first birthday. Her birthday is on Sunday I am fine. Am I fine? I will never nurse a baby ever again. That's fine. Is it fine? Our relationship is already changing. I think for the better. Now we can sit in proximity to each other without her arching for milk. We actually look at each other more! It's great. Is it great? I wanted to do something spiritual to mark this transition. Is writing this post the thing? Hey World, for the past seven years I've been pregnant and breast feeding and now it's all over. Is it all over? Yes, it's all over. CHRISTOPHER SAYS IT'S ALL OVER. That's fine! Is it fine? It happened so fast! I wanted a baby for five years and within five years I had four children! That's crazy! Am I going crazy? AM I GOING CRAZY? It's fine to go crazy! My last baby self-weaned the week I started my dream job. I work with the mayor. I get to do things I love. I am so happy! Am I so happy? Really? Because I'll never have that fluttery kick inside of me and that fantastic anticipation of giving birth. I'll never give birth again. The last doc told me I could have six more! My body was made to birth babies! Those hips! He said. And my chest has always been generous. Milk for years. And now it will just be a shell of what was. It's ok. Is it ok? What does a woman do with a body that looks like it could birth six more babies but it's done? Do I just carry this body around as a relic of the past? What will my body look like now that I am done birthing? Will my chest shrink? A little? Will I still be special? Will I miss the special treatment pregnant and breast feeding women get around here? The Get Out Of Anything excuses are so nice! I'm fine. It's fine. My hair is still falling out. And the gray ones are growing in. WHAT HAPPENS AFTER WE DIE? IS THIS A MID LIFE CRISIS? Next week I'll be 38. That's young right? Is it young? It's middle age isn't it. I AM MIDDLE AGED. What happened? I swear I just turned twenty seven. Now I am middle aged with drops of gray hair and no baby to breastfeed and I don't really get what happens when we die. I STILL LIKE TO SHOP AT FOREVER 21. I still swoon at my husband. Am I supposed to swoon for ever? We were at Costco today and I actually swooned. We also spoon but I am not going to blog about that. IS NOTHING SACRED ANYMORE? Anyway, spooning is what got me in to all this trouble in the first place. It's worth it though. Is it worth it?
Yes, yes. It's worth it.
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I'm fine.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


Oh man listen, boy, have I been sick. Like wishing for death sick.

It started on Valentine's Day with aches and chills and turned into the FLU FROM HELL AND DAMNATION. It's been two weeks and my voice still sounds like I've smoked a pack of Camels since I was seventeen.

And every night before bed this horrid dry cough starts that shakes my whole body but doesn't relieve itself from my throat until morning. The other night I accidentally OD'ed on Nyquil (if such a thing were possible) and the next day I was like fighting for my consciousness for a whole twenty-four hours.

At one point I stood in the shower and wondered if I wanted to live another minute.

That's a bad flu, right?

Last week I stayed home from church and washed every corner of my house, disinfected all the knobs and chairs, scrubbed all remotes and controllers, shampooed my children's hair and bodies, wiped every surface of my house with disinfectant and set up a schedule where my children were given doses of hand sanitizer on the hour so that the germs didn't immediately return. You may be thinking right now that all of that was a silly waste of my brittle energy, but it's all about CONTROL. I felt like I had CONTROL over the situation and that made me feel better in the long run.

And every day I ask myself, is this a bad strain of flu or is this what it feels like to get older? My children all had the same flu but they were down for like an hour and then continued to bounce on their beds and fight with each other like they were healthy. Meanwhile, Christopher and I started to rewrite our wills just in case.

(Christopher actually went to the ER and they wrote him a prescription for some cough medicine that made him feel juuuuuuust riiiiiiiight and it made me realize exactly what was in "grandma's cough syrup" if you know what I mean.)

Oh man right now I am just praying I wake up and not feel like a garbage truck ran me over and then turned around and picked me up and took me to the dump where I was rolled around in hot garbage until someone found me and shipped me back home in my bed wet and sweaty heaving to breathe.

Was that dramatic? TRY LIVING MY LIFE RIGHT NOW.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Warm In My Heart

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I went to lunch with a few scientists.
We talked about the weather.
"I am scared," one of them said. "I don't think we'll have much snow in Utah anymore. This warm winter is probably the norm here on out. And if we don't have wet summers we won't have any water at all."
And the visitor from Germany spoke up, "We didn't get snow this year, but we did get wild flowers."
"The ski resorts should be the most concerned, they're looking at extinction," someone said.
I closed the lid on my salad.
I've heard meteorologists say "We've got a problem," like a plea to stay tuned until the next commercial break.
I've never heard it from a scientist before.
Not like this.

A few days later I stumble on an article about the southwest entering into a thirty to thirty-five year megadrought. Worse than the dust bowl, they say. Much, much worse.

Suddenly water is like gold to me.
I see how much I waste.
I've never taught my children to value water.
I've never valued water.

All of my Mormon life I've been taught to prepare for a disaster to happen.
In the basement below the stairs we had bags of wheat and cans of beans stored away for the day.
As a young bride I started to keep jugs of water in the laundry room--a slight pinch of bleach.
As new home owners we were given colored flags to display in front of our house when the calamity happened--green meant we were fine, blue meant we were hungry, white meant we had a death.
But we talked about it like this disaster would happen at any given moment, like a sudden earthquake or terrible mud-slide. It would separate those who were obedient from those who were not.
I didn't want to be draining the resources of others.
No one wants to be that family in catastrophe.

It's going to be a megadrought.
And we're bringing it on ourselves.
And I'm scared too.

Today I put my baby's toes in the sun.
She won't keep anything on her feet.
We perched her on the blanket I made when I was twelve.
It was for a church activity aimed at teaching the young women how to make provisions.
(For the calamity.)
The sun was setting soon and we just wanted to lap up a little of it before it disappeared.
And I noticed how much my relationship with the sun is changing too.
The blanket fills up child by child until the whole family is on the blanket wrestling around in the dying sun.

Anson's kindergarten class had a snow day activity this year.
But it was rushed because they didn't know how long we would have snow on the ground.
"Aiden didn't get to have a snow day when he was in kindergarten," my neighbor tells me about her seven year old son. "There was no snow that year."
After the snow day activity the grass returned for good.
I can't recall a snow-less year from my childhood.
All I see is snow in the pictures in my baby book.
I was born in a snowstorm.

My kids only used their snow clothes a couples times this winter. For almost three months they've sat on dry hooks next to the carport door. Their boots hardly knew the crunch of the snow and ice.

We're on the blanket and the sun is almost gone and suddenly we're cold.
I pick up the baby and head inside.
As I walk on the gray grass I see a trail of little shadows behind me.
I suddenly worry about my children never knowing snow.
And I think how weird that I would even think that thought.
How odd that all those apocalyptic movies are more real than I believed.
And now I am sad too.

Christopher makes dinner.
We walk inside to a warm, steamy kitchen.
I turn on Elvis Costello and persuade him to dance with me for a moment.
We were dancing.
He was singing in my ear.
And three children were jumping all over us, while a baby bobbed up and down in her high chair.
We danced, the kitchen steamed, the baby bobbed, the kids jumped.

"We can't reverse it," the scientists said, "but we can become inventive. And we can stop doing so much damage."
And it reminds me of the philosopher at church who told me this earth could be healthy if we all would share resources: food, clothing, democracy, wealth.
"Please share," I repeat to my children over and over and over.

When the mountains glow at dusk, just before the sun melts into the lake on the west end of the valley, I tell my children to stop and notice.
All of these things are so valuable.
And the price continues to go up.
I will take care of the earth.
I will take care of my family.
It's all the same.
It's all the same.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas 2014!

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We just want to say: Seasons Greetings! Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas!
From our house to yours!
Love, C. Jane, Chup and the Children

*Thanks Jed Wells for the photo!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Thinking Ahead

My dear blogging friends, family and people across the internet and time (and space),

I have so much I want to say. Firstly, that wasn't REALLY our bedroom in our last vlog (guest bedroom downstairs). And I don't REALLY wear those Lanz pajamas (though I did buy them second hand because I wore them as a child and they're sentimental). And YES! The Lower Lights sold out all seven of their shows and I went to their opener the other night with my brothers and sisters and parents (plus a few nieces and nephews) and we danced and sang and made ourselves silly with merriment and so, NO I am not still mad at them for showing up in my house. Though, were you worried they were going to show up in my bathroom next?

Me too.

Also, I took your kind advice and rethought the Christmas tree and so now it stands all 7 feet covered head to toe in ornaments, garland, ribbons and bows. It's a lovely specimen. Brings loads of cheer. I can't wait for Christmas to be over so we can haul it out.

I am sorry if that was a rude way to end that paragraph.

I had this goal of getting all of December planned and perfected so by December 15th I could start thinking about January. And so, I am sitting in the Christmas season, dreaming about a new fresh year and shocked by how domestic I want to be in 2015. I have this fantasy of moving everything around in my house, painting, decorating, making every room comfortable and lovely. And it's captured a lot of my attention right now. Somehow I feel like I should apologize for this, but then again we all have our ways of coping through the winter.

This is mine.

And in the summer I want to grow big grassy bushes outside my front door and paint the door and trim to the house a vibrant color. I want to swim in pops of color and texture and vibrancy in 2015.

Oh but seriously I am getting ahead of myself.

I've been thinking about writing and blogging. I have this general anxiety about never, ever giving up writing and blogging even though I feel like my life is full of little children who need my presence near-constantly. And would you believe that this cherubic, blue-eyed curly blond-headed baby of mine is also growing in neediness? I seriously thought one more child wouldn't add much to the levels of concentration. But then I had this angel baby who, as it turns out, has a mad crush on me and hates to see me so much as leave the room.

I mean to say, I never, ever want to give up writing in this state that I am in right now because I really worry that if all the women in the space I am in gave up on recording and narrating their lives we will continue to have less and less of a voice on what this--this intense mothering--feels like. And sometimes I stay awake at nights trying to think of essayists or novelists or even screen writers who have captured this experience I am having daily but I can't think of many. The reason is, I believe, we give up on writing and let this lifestyle swallow us whole. AND I WILL NOT LET IT SWALLOW ME.

And this is my daily fight--to not be consumed.

Because there is art in what I am doing--raising kids, building community, navigating faith, being in a romantic relationship, failing at finances, succeeding in chaos, perpetually planning--but there has to be time to write it all down. There has to be time to make sense of it. To make art of it.

In 2015 I want to become a domestic-inspired writer and let writing be to my life as important as how I make my home or I craft my relationships.

And as always, I want to be simple.

This year I really mean it.

P.S. Speaking of writing, I have taken a new post as a permablogger at By Common Consent (a Mormon blog for thinkers, so to speak) and my first post about losing faith and finding it again was published last week, you can find it here called Happy Birthday.