Wednesday, December 26, 2012

It Was a Very Merry Christmas

We had a wonderful Christmas filled with good food, family, and awesome presents. Jared's Dad and brothers are in town for the week and so we had a full house with the three of them, ourselves, and Kristin's family.

The Christmas festivities actually began the night before with Clifton opening a gift from his Mommy and Daddy - Christmas jammies! It's our plan to make this a Christmas Eve tradition.

I also made a batch of cinnamon rolls and tossed them in the fridge overnight for a slow rise. In the morning I popped them into the oven and we had fresh rolls as we opened stockings. All the great taste and smell of fresh made rolls and none of the work. At least not first thing in the morning. Plus, a slow rise makes for an incredibly soft, fluffy bun.

(That's what she said.)

In the oven. Please excuse the dribbly oven floor.
Springform pans are not always leakproof.
Risen and ready to bake.
Baked and ready for whipped cream cheese-butter frosting.

After stockings, we finished getting ready and headed out to a Christmas morning mass at our local Catholic church. Clifton took his morning nap snuggled in the Moby as I bobbed in the back of the church. 

When we got back home, the true food prep commenced. And with that, I will leave you until tomorrow, since I need to head into the kitchen to start the next project - Kristin's 30th birthday cake! Her birthday is tomorrow and I can hardly believe that it's actually her 30th. I can clearly remember our Mom turning 28 and I really find it hilarious that we're already past that point. Ha!

(To be continued)

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Five hundred seventy one days.

We had five hundred seventy one days with Ryann.
Tomorrow we will have survived five hundred seventy one days without her.

Up until now it’s felt like she had always been a part of our lives. Our time with her felt like it always outweighed our time without her. The scale always tipped back towards her. But as we continue making new memories, having new experiences, living new moments, that scale has slowly been evening out and it feels like tomorrow the balance will break and start to tip forward again, whether we’re ready for it to or not.

Some memories are starting to fade, and it terrifies me. My worst fear is forgetting. My memory isn’t always the best and I am afraid to forget any of the too few days I had with Ryann. I often find myself playing mundane moments over and over in my head to try to engrain them permanently. In my mind I study the movement of her hands, the tone of her voice, the feel of her weight in my arms. When I watch videos, I study the pattern of her steps, rewind, the wind blowing her hair, rewind, her mouth as it laughs and grins, rewind . . .

The other day I was laughing about how funny it would have been when Ryann discovered that she could put her fingers in her nose. It wasn’t until days later that a vague memory came to me that she had discovered this in the week before her death. She realized that this new trick brought a lot of laughs and would do it over and over while we all sat down to dinner. I had forgotten. And it terrifies me that there must be other things I’m forgetting. And I can no longer deny that she’s fading.

It makes no sense. How is it possible that my baby was here one moment and the next she was gone. I held her in my arms, but she was gone. How does that make any sense?

I’ve recently become obsessed about keeping the tangible memories safe. My current worry is a house fire. I panic at the thought of her framed crayon scribble burning to ash. Our computers melting with her pictures and videos lost. Her Ryann-sized sofa chair with the bottle-dribble still on the arm up in smoke. Her tooth marked crib that Clifton now sleeps in turned to char. It paralyzes me. These are the only physical things we have left, and with my memories fading I find myself depending on them more than before.

Today is day five hundred seventy. In what I sometimes think of as our parallel lives, it’s the day we went to church. The day we turned down a lunch offer, the last chance we had to let our new work-family get to know Ryann. The day we went to the Nature Center at Pioneer Park and hooted at the owl and sniffed the herbs on the nature trail. The day we ended with a bath, a book, and a bottle. Tucked into bed. Went to sleep. The last day we went to sleep innocent. Whole. The last day we took for granted.

 The photos in this series have become undeniably the most famous images of Ryann.
They so perfectly capture her. (She was about fifteen months old.)

Friday, December 14, 2012

I've Got the Fever

I already have baby-fever.

I realize how ridiculous this is. I have a three-month-old at home and I’m still working on recouping from housing Clif for 9 months. I am absolutely fully enjoying Clif and his wee babe-ness, although not as wee a babe as he once was. But I regularly find myself pining to add another. And another. (And another?)

We are planning on having more little squishable kiddos, although not for a while yet. We’ve agreed to wait until Jared has a job offer on the table, which could be anywhere from a year to . . . ? And although I am looking forward to having more little ones, when I actually parse my feelings down a bit, I realize that they come more from the feeling of us being a family of four rather than already wishing for another go-round the pregnancy-mobile.

Having another baby has been an odd experience. We are not first time parents coming into this with first time parent fears and bumbling. And yet we don’t have to try to juggle multiple children. Deal with the new jealousy a baby could bring. Handle the kids sharing a room and fear for the additional wake-ups. Wrangle a toddler with one arm while trying to feed the baby with the other. We don’t get to do that. We don’t get to see Ryann as a big sister. We also don’t get to see Clif as a little brother. And I want the experience of raising siblings. Because that’s where we should be now.

And so I feel the false-baby-fever. And I wait.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Our Gorgeous Boy

I am in a constant state of amazement by this child. He's cuddly, happy, and getting sillier by the day. And there's no denying what a pretty, pretty boy he is.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Clif's Re-Gifted Mobile

When I found out I was pregnant with Ryann, my sister began working on a mobile to hang above her crib. She chose to use bright felted birds, which interestingly enough is the animal that both Jared and I have found ourselves most closely associating with Ryann. Bright, lively, agile, inquisitive birds.

As is the tendency with approximately fifty percent of the projects my sister and I each take up, this one was partly finished and then forgotten. Ryann outgrew the general mobile age. Mei was born. The birdies were occasionally worked on with Mei now in mind. After Ryann died and another wee babe was imminent, Kristin finished up the birds once and for all and brought them for the kid-brother of the original giftee. They are now sitting on our piano waiting to be hung from the staff Jared carried as his latest stage-self to make up a ridiculously meaningful and cumbersome mobile.

I love that Clif will have these sweet reminders of his own dear sis suspended above his head while he sleeps.

Friday, December 7, 2012

It's Been Fun

It's the last weekend of my maternity leave and I return to work full-time starting this Monday. I must say, as much as I know I'll miss little Clif and our afternoons together, I really am looking forward to being back at work. As we close in on the end of the semester, our office is getting slammed with more things and with me out of the office in the afternoons, things are beginning to slip through the cracks. And so, I will enjoy this weekend with my boys so that I can enjoy my work and make the most of my more limited mini-man cuddles in between. Here's to life as a working mom!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Making of the Christmas Cookie Steak

I finally made my first official batch of Christmas cookies the other day!

(The Election Day cookies that my sister and I made don't count. They were supposed to be red and blue with white frosting and sprinkles. However, not wanting to poison ourselves with an overload of dye and starting with a quite yellow dough, the cookies turned out to be red and green. They did not look like Election Day cookies. Sadface.)

These cookies are somewhat labor intensive, requiring two different doughs, repeated refrigeration and freezing, rolling out and rolling up, sprinkle sticking, and frozen log slicing. But boy are they good! And festive. And impressive. All great qualities in a cookie.

These cookies are also easy to alter to fit whatever flavors you might want to feature. The batch that I made were mint and vanilla. I'm planning on making a double batch next week, half of the mint and half red with cinnamon.
On a side note - We have a tiny kitchen, so my work surface for baking and rolling and such is our stovetop. Literally. Secondly, my KitchenAid seems to have a faulty motor and doesn't have any low settings. This leads to a lot of ingredients poofing OUT of the bowl. The picture below is even after I shielded the bowl with a kitchen towel. Grrr.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Contrary to what the previous post may conjure, we actually are usually shockingly happy. It's actually a bit funny. I really love(d) Ryann and she made me so incredibly happy and proud and giddy. But Clif makes me cry, I'm so happy. Not all the time. And I'm not generally a crier. But sometimes I find myself cuddling him or making faces with him or putting him down for the night, and the Happy just bubbles up so hard that it bubbles straight out of my face and this non-crier cries-grin-laughs all over poor little Clif.

I love my husband. I love my babies. I love my job. I love the city we live in. I love living so close to my sister and her family.

I had a really shitty thing happen to me. (Please excuse the language. But I think this warrants some strength of expression.)

But I love my life.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Missing Her

I should be working on our obscene pile of laundry that desperately needs folding. Instead I've settled myself on our bed, queued up our iTunes Christmas playlist, lit a cozy candle, and I'm rustling through pictures and videos of my girl. As much as I miss Ryann desperately every moment of every day, the missing generally takes up residence in some background part of myself. It's there, but it lets me function and live and usually even thrive. But sometimes it jumps unexpectedly into the foreground and it's all I can do to keep from shattering all over again.

It's not always triggered by what I would think. I didn't cry when Jared or I held Clifton for the first time. I don't usually break at her grave. Often I'll just giggle at her pictures. But the endless round of nurses who asked about Clif's 'sister at home' after he was born. Having to tell them that she is 'deceased'. There really is no gentle way to say it. She's dead. She died. She passed. I usually opt for the more medical term of 'deceased'. Unless I can tuck in a quick 'she would have been three' and avoid anything further. Let the questioner deal with any confusion from the awkward wording.

The other day I watched Jared run down the sidewalk hand-in-hand with our friends' little 4-year-old girl and I thought 'that should be Ryann'. News stories really get to me. Stories of abused children. Abandoned children. Neglected children. Monstrous people who do monstrous things to children. And theirs are alive and ours isn't. They had healthy babies with healthy bodies and healthy DNA, and our perfect little girl had a time-bomb in her stomach. I hear parents snapping at their kids in grocery stores, friends complaining about their lack of sleep. And I get it, I really do. But I want to scream. I want to slap the impatient parents in the stores and yell 'My daughter is dead! How dare you take your kids for granted. How dare you wish you had it easier! My child died in my arms and you still have the option to hold yours.' But I know that's not fair. Plus, I don't want to be carted of to crazy-town.

Usually I try to direct myself into being grateful for what we did have. Usually it's surprisingly easy. Ryann was truly incredible. Sometimes it's incredibly hard. It's hard to focus on what we had and not  obsess about what we never will. It's hard to believe that portion of our lives is past and there are only pictures and videos left to relive it.

But tonight, hearing Ryann's laugh and seeing the genesis of her squishy-face, it's enough.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Medical Schmedical

Today was Clifton's two month pediatrician appointment. As of today he is nine weeks and 5 days old. It's pretty funny that all along our entire family has been thinking that Clif's so huge! I suppose compared to Ryann, and even Mei, he really is. But at 12lb 6oz, he's actually just at the 42nd percentile for his weight. However, he blows down the average when it comes to strength and alertness. It's fun to see the surprise on his Doctor's face when Clif pushes his entire chest off the table or when he watches everyone's movements around the room. His smiles and giggles are already easy, which is to be expected, since they've been around since his third week.

We have an order in to the hospital where he was born for his upper GI scope. We just need to call and schedule. Nothing is expected to be wrong. This is all for everyone's peace of mind. But it's still scary. And as much as I want to know that everything is okay, at least for now, I also feel bad for subjecting little Clif to a test that could be considered unnecessary.

But that's a worry for another day. Because as of right now, it's the weekend!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day

Have you gotten your vote on? Clif and I dropped our ballot and are now eagerly awaiting the outcome. So exciting!

Monday, November 5, 2012

November 4, the Third Time

Yesterday was Ryann's third birthday.

I should have been elbow deep in flour and buttercream, balloons and tissue paper. I should have been cleaning the house and wrapping presents and shielding little eyes from surprises.

Instead we spent the day quietly. The three of us wandering around town, missing our fourth.

Overall, it was actually a surprisingly enjoyable day. (As long as we choose to not include an unconnected, stressful close to the day.) We were intensly grateful to have Clifton with us. And we look forward to and dread sharing memories of his sister with him. We are sad that our children will have to grapple with death from the very beginning.

As time went on after Ryann died, we tended to think about what she would be like at that future time. What would Ryann the 2-year-old be like? What would the 2-and-a-half year old girlie be doing? And we've always been able to imagine her with us, as she should have been. But recently we find ourselves imagining a little 19-month-old girl back into our home. It's startling to realize that she would actually be three. Ryann is no longer a growing girl in our minds, but forever frozen at 19 months. Forever squealing 'daddy' and never to yell a 'mommy'. Spinning circles in our living room and taking off down the hall at a dizzy run. Calling squirrels diggin for nuts 'doggies' and squirrels scolding from trees 'birdies'. We imagine a 19-month-old Ryann playing with her 18-month-old and 2-and-a-half year old cousins. She should be three. Leading them around and showing off her little brother. Someday she will become the little sister to all of our children.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of babysitting my niece. Just me, Clifton, and Mei. I could feel what it would be like to juggle little Clif with 19-month-old Ryann. Even though that's not what it would be. And it was hectic. And full of life. And lovely.


Grinning in Sabbath School.

Running away from hair-fixing before church.

Early potty training. Evidence of distraction attempts littering the floor.

Running back to me after children's story. A classic Ryann photo.

Determined to dress herself.

Concertizing with Daddy.

Clifton. The second light of our life.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I have successfully completed my first week back to work and will be starting my second bright and early in the morning. I'm starting back just for the mornings until mid-December, at which point I'll start full-time. Other than the ridiculously crazy carpool schedule that Jared and I have worked out, I've actually been enjoying myself a ton! (Even the carpooling is somewhat fun since it means I get to hang out with Jared a bit more. Plus, I love driving.) I've decided that it's time to start back to writing on here. I gave myself permission to neglect the blog while I was on my maternity leave, mostly due to the fact that Clifton has an apparent hatred for the sound of a clacking keyboard and has repeatedly (easily) succeeded in interrupting my few half-hearted attempts to write. Who wants to continue typing when there's a wriggling baby asking to be cuddled? Not me!

We are feeling pretty settled in as a family of four-minus-one at this point. We've pretty much figured out Clifton's current quirks, likes, and dislikes. Although, now that we have he's no doubt gearing up for a change. So far his favorite thing is being outside. (Well, that and boobs) This little guy would be happy being in the fresh air 24/7. As a result, we've already put many miles on the stroller and the Moby wrap. Love them both to pieces.

Although I wouldn't categorize Clifton as a fussy baby, he definitely trends more heavily in that direction than Ryann ever did. Ryann was always incredibly independent and happy. Although she kept us running with her daredevil ways and high energy level, she fussed very little and was always extraordinarily happy. Clifton has his moments where he's a little fuss-bucket and sometimes an all out screamer! But he makes up for it with his more cuddly nature. And really, it's sometimes good to feel so needed!

We're quickly closing in on Ryann's 3rd birthday (November 4) and occasionally find ourselves thinking about what things would be like with two kids in the house. We're planning on taking Clif out to the cemetery on Ryann's birthday. It will be the first time we 'introduce' them. A far cry from how it should be.