Ten on Ten {October}

Is all I ever do here play catch up? I kinda think so. But in the spirit of eternal optimism, let me proclaim THIS TIME I'M GONNA STAY ON TOP OF MY BLOG. Because I like blogging. Regardless of if anyone ever reads my sentimental internet claptrap. And so, with that, I present the ELEVENTH of October, because another eternal truth about me is that I can never meet a deadline. Just ask my kid's kindergarten teacher at drop off time.

 

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05:45 // Woke up by this squawker.

05:55 // Diaper change and costume change.

06:43 // Breakfast face in the mirror.

08:41 // School run in a taxi.

08:43 // Share bikes make my world go round. They are ubiquitous in Shanghai: they cost about 20 cents a half hour; you can find them anywhere; they take you everywhere; you pay for them with your phone; and they are so easy to use. I wish all cities had such a great system. 

09:53 // A rainy day as seen from my office.

12:41 // Crammed as much work into a short time as I was able, then went out to find an ATM before heading home for some reason which now escapes me, and I guess that's why I should not wait four months to write these things.

14:46 // Post nap.

15:19 // On my way to meet Lyra's surgeon who happened to be in Shanghai for a couple of days. 

16:42 // I feel so acutely aware of our good fortune to have such good people supporting us as we navigate Lyra's condition. 

17:22 // Helping me make dinner

Last Year, a Lifetime Ago

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I was drifting through my photo archives the other day and came across this picture of Lyra. She was tiny, maybe four or five months, and we were in the thickets and brambles of her disease. We were between doctors’ appointments, and had time to head up to the North of England to see friends in Harrogate. 

That time feels vague and remote, shrouded with uncertainty, pain, grief. So different from now. But I can time travel back with the flash of an image, a deep breath, closed eyes.

 

Here, I can’t believe I ever worried. There, I didn’t know anything but. 

 

I was recovering the the shock of discovering this disease, the trauma of doctors with grim faces, a parade of them delivering despairing prognoses. Doctors in clinics and hospitals various and sundry acting as though darkness and sadness were foregone conclusions. We wondered would she still see? Would she develop? What of this heart problem? And then, when we came upon doctors who were buoyant, bright, experts in this, doctors who could see me, a mother scared out of her mind, a baby whole and perfect as she is, well I couldn’t believe them. 

And now, this little light, my tiny bird with eyes like a cat, shows me day after day, the glow of her of her perfect wholeness. And now I have this little wonder, who scoots around on her bottom, and crawls with one leg up and one leg dow. My little Birdie who loves cars and stacks them small ones inside big ones and drives the whole lot around brrrrrrruuuuum, brrrrrrruuuuum, who rocks her dolly back and forth, who scoots on top of her brother’s train tracks and topples them as she passes, who eats spaghetti with great love and demands chocolate from whomever she can, who cuddles the dog, blows kisses to me, swats me on the head and says “ow!” My little love who loves her brother maybe most of all. She says “hi” to everyone on the train. She says, bye, outside, hat, and Ed (for the dog) and hot? when we serve her food,  down, ice, eyes, feet, and so many more words than I can think of now. How could I ever have worried about her development? I wish I could just trusted. I wish I could have told myself you will handle it, and you will keep handling it, hard as it may be, you’ll keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you’ll keep striving to be a human.

But of course, back then we didn’t know. And now, we still don’t know. Nothing is promised us. Nothing is promised anyone in this life. Her condition is chronic. Things may be stable for now, and they may continue so for 30 years, or longer. And they also might now. I don’t know. But I know more that I’ll handle it. She’ll handle it. 

In each of my pregnancies, I’ve had a dream at about seven or eight weeks gestation. I’ve dreamt my babies. Each time I’ve seen the baby, known their sex, their hair color, even a hit of their personality. Each time it’s been just one dream, though I’d got to sleep every night wishing for just one more glimpse of the baby. And I had just this dream with Lyra. But I also had two others.  At about six weeks, a dream of a kitten trying to keep it’s head above swirling water. At 20 weeks. A baby having tests and checks, having an operation or an MRI. We were all so worried, huddled and frightened. And then she came out, and white coats said, she’s fine. And she was. 

That’s what I try to hold in my mind. 

In London

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We’re in London again for Lyra’s eyes. Three weeks away from home and my big kids, and the family that is my heart. But also, three weeks of quiet time with my baby who now has the face of a toddler and will be one in seven days. Three weeks of quiet wandering, of yoga and cups of tea, or museums and old friends and early bedtimes and books and white hotel sheets.

The morning of Lyra’s surgery, we woke well before dawn, our bodies still somewhere between here and home. With hours before our early morning check-in time, we dress and leave the hotel, into the dark of the morning that still feels like night. We walk the length of Oxford street until it changed its name three times and the city neighborhoods shifted, unfolding the story of the city, of class and culture and the  people who live here. It’s quiet and pink, my breath fogs, and Lyra falls asleep. The city’s not yet awake and I like it. I always forget to remember that dawn is the best time to get out into the world.

This time feels different from the trips before. The city doesn’t feel so strange, and the ache of this disease doesn’t sting and stab quite so hard. I don’t feel that gratitude so deep that I believe I can feel the center of the universe and the meaning of all things. We’re easing into this, the swells and swings are normalizing. Anxiety and worries still lurk and wait, seeping out when I'm tired and the baby won't sleep.

 

I’m here in London for a few more days. Then we’re off to Belgium to visit some old friends who we’ve known since we were just two couples, newly married with baby faces. Now we’re parents to three babies each, and how times change and all that.

Life's funny, isn't it. It's nice to be here, but also it's not. I'm excited to be away, but I ache for my home and my family. I'm getting to see old friends and make new ones, travel and see people who feel like family. But my big kids are at home, and not here with me. 

Ten on Ten {September}

Here's another trip back in time as I catch up on my ten on tens for this year. Annnnnd also a confession: these are cobbled together from actually THREE DAYS because I couldn't keep my attention long enough to actually finish ten pictures in one day. I blame jet lag and post-summer reentry. 

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05:35 // Everyone is still up at the crack of dawn, and everyone piles into my bed. The first part I'm not that fond of; the second part I live for.

06:00 Morning rituals part one.

06:22 // Morning rituals part two. Stella reads. Hugo plays cars. Lyra gets in the way.

06:24 // Hugo says, Hey Lyra, get off my road, okay?

07:30 // I have a brilliant idea to keep Lyra contained while I shower: High chair and cheerios. 

07:40 // This idea did not go to plan.

09:04 // Hugo's preschool routine.

09:19 // I found this interesting back street that's devoted to pets and animal shops.

10:31 // Trying to get things done.

12:48 // Trying to get a baby to sleep.

12:51 // An awake baby.

 

 

Ten on Ten {August}

Let's all get into the wayback machine, shall we? Zhooo zhoo zhooo (<-- ps, the sound of time travel) AUGUST!!!

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06:18 // Morning through my bedroom.

06:37 // The kids get up before me and hang out with Papa in the livingroom.

06:38 // They do play quietly and independently when I'm not around. 

06:43 // We eat blueberries for breakfast every morning.

08:15 // Time for a reluctant morning nap.

08:16 // The big one sure does love the little one.

08:26 // The water was really still this morning.

11:16 // We had a visitor in our livingroom. Island life, right? Hugo gave it a name. But because this is coming at you three months late, I've forgotten it. But it was something like Herbert.

12:45 // She wants to swim all day every day even though I'd say it's barely warm enough for bare legs. But then, I remember being the exact same way.

16:22 // Our daily trip across our tiny bay to Uncle Emmet's house, Hugo wearing a "boat coat" that used to be mine.

17:02 // The little ones swim while the grownups talk nonsence, drink beers, ad hang out int he sauna.

17:47 // Ready to go home. Hugo will drive. :)