The Hours

Somewhere between half past six and eight o’clock we wake up. Or rather, the baby wakes us up. He shifts and rolls and scoots his little body around, rubbing his nose and scratching at his face. I pull him closer in a feeble attempt to lull him back to sleep. Sometimes it works. If it’s closer to six than eight I cling to that feeble attempt. 

This morning I had to wake him up. It was after eight, Richard needed a shower and Tadhg needed to wake up (so that he could go back to sleep – morning nap time is my saving grace). I whispered his name into the warm crevice of his neck and opened the blinds a little bit. His eyes lit up as he looked from his mama to his dad. He is habitually covered in kisses. It’s impossible to resist. 

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We eat meals as a family now. He clenches soldiers of toast in his chubby fists, only relinquishing one piece when presented with another. Every mealtime a new skill is improved upon – he brings food to his mouth with a startling accuracy, he accepts the spoon into the crook of his hand and manoeuvres it straight into his mouth (most of the time). This week he really got to grips with the sippy cup. It’s strange the things that make your chest swell with pride. 

My day is punctuated with breastfeeding. We don’t have a clock or a schedule. There’s a certain sound, a certain wiggle in his body that signals hunger – I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is I know it when I see it. He seems hungriest in the morning. He eats fast, always eager to see what else is going on in the room around us. He pulls off to shout or exclaim or flash a quick grin before returning to the task at hand. It is infuriating and adorable and a pain in the neck and all the things that babies (also read: humans) are, wrapped in one. 

During that precious morning nap I try my best to ignore the detritus falling all around me and sit at my laptop and work. For the past six or so weeks I have been freelancing intensively. I did some casual work up until around October, but when it rains it pours and all that. I am immensely grateful, not just for the extra income but for the chance to use my brain and body and skills for more than just baby survival tasks. My own mama comes and takes Tadhg for a walk usually for an hour or so as I hustle. How nice it is to tap away on my keyboard without also bouncing a baby or chit chatting or feeling guilty for not doing those things. The idea of mom guilt is bullshit, in case you don’t already know. 

We eat lunch. I feed the baby. We laugh and play and I fish pieces of broccoli out of those delicious neck folds. 

In the afternoons we try our best to venture out: to the park, the shopping centre, around the block to walk the dog, to the supermarket, to my sister’s house. For sanity’s sake it is a necessity. I’m trying to buy less on these outings. It’s so easy to fill the day with errands and tasks and purchases, but it is not always necessary. 

At half past five every day (or, more accurately,  every day I notice that it is half past five) I think to myself Neighbours starts in five minutes. We got rid of our TV and I haven’t watched neighbours for a long time. But for many years it bridged the gap between finishing school and having dinner before starting homework. It’s somewhat engrained in my psyche. 

Shortly after that I think where the efff is Richard?! The best whatsapp message I get every day is On the way, x. As much as I like our kid, it’s the best thing ever when his dad comes home and I can check out for an hour or so. 

We eat dinner as a family. Introducing Tadhg to new food is such a joy – sweet potato, beetroot, puttanesca, natural yogurt, sourdough toast, avocado, big orange wedges, kimchi, banana muffins, giant pasta, smoked salmon – there hasn’t been much that he won’t try. Then it’s bath/play, change, pjs, snuggles, bouncing on the exercise ball (oh what’s that? you just lie your baby down and he goes to sleep himself?!) and Richard and I watching as many episodes of The Good Wife before we both pass out. 

These are the days; the pattern is pretty consistent but the colour is constantly changing. I wouldn’t give it up for the world. 

 

 

Grand Canyon National Park

This past month has flew in. Where has June gone? It’s already July tomorrow! Crazy-town. Please bear with me while I play a little catch up…normal service may or may not resume soon. I can’t make any promises. 

We got up early, grabbed breakfast and headed into the longest stretch of our road trip bound for the Grand Canyon. The Grand Canyon has been top of my to-do list for such a long time so I was especially excited for this stop-off. We were almost at the north-rim when we pulled off the free-way for petrol and a much needed leg stretch when we noticed a very large and imposing sign stating that the Grand Canyon North Rim was Closed until May 15. It was the 12th. We laughed, half horrified and half devastated. After some questionably sweet baked goods and the promise that the South Rim was “only around four hours away” we set back off on the road. We chatted, ate, listened to podcasts—spotted some tumble weed!!—snoozed and eventually arrived at the South Rim, tired and stiff. 

Holy shit. The Grand Canyon is seriously, well, grand. It was too much for my eyes to comprehend. We didn’t take many photographs because it didn’t feel like there was a point. You cannot capture this stuff on film (actual or metaphorical) because it’s just that big. The tiny snaking shoelace of a river is actually a raging waterway up close. Minor divots and cracks are actually sheer ravines and gaping huge caverns.

We didn’t hike or spend a huge amount of time at The Grand Canyon. We didn’t have time as there was another four hours of road between us and our flight back to Oakland. Dinner consisted of crisps and subway in the car while driving, which was quite an apt way to end a few days of truly terrible eating. (Rural Utah, you have excellent nature but terrible restaurants.) 

In short, The Grand Canyon was beautiful. You really should go, put it on your list and make your way there. No amount of google-image searching, pretty blog stalking or pinterest planning can do places like this justice. Nature like this needs to be experienced to be appreciated. 

We’ve got less than five months left on this side of the world and you can bet we’ve got a boat-load of adventures up our sleeves. Just you wait! 

For The Weekend (Happy Birthday Mama!)

Today is my mama’s birthday…we just facetimed and all of my family are together celebrating. Today is the second year out of all my 23.5 years that we’re not spending this day together. We will definitely make up for it next year. My brothers and sister and niece all took her to brunch this morning at this wonderful place…and so we didn’t feel like we were being left out our monthly challenge for January is to get brunch at Mama’s. Yum! I sent Monica a beautifully printed version of the above as my birthday gift; she loves Leonard Cohen and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. 

I hope you have a love-filled weekend wherever you are, birthday or no birthday Saturday is the perfect excuse to eat cake ;) 

 

 

#mywindowstudy

I’ve been using this hashtag on instagram to track a little mini project since I’ve arrived in California. The light through the old windows of the apartment combined with the beautiful gauzy curtains makes for some pretty stunning shots. I’m really enjoying this no-strings-attached relaxed creative approach. There’s no schedule or regime and yet there they all are at the click of a finger. Feel free to follow along on my instagram

Goodbyes are Hard

EDIT: I wrote this post the night before I had to say goodbye to you and your sister. I was so scared and so worried. I thought that you would forget me, or worse, never forgive me for leaving you. I know that is dramatic and also, after yesterday mornings skype call, utterly ridiculous. I know you won’t forget. On skype you didn’t want to say goodbye because you were ‘still chatting’ and so we didn’t. You told me about your friends and your new cousin and your baby sister and your dinosaur rex. You kissed the phone and hugged it and managed to make us melt even though we are thousands of miles apart. 

Dear Emily,

This is going to be hard to write. It is not going to be as hard as reversing out of your driveway waving goodbye and knowing that I won’t get to hold you or kiss you or feel your sweet breath as you whisper something silly too close to my face for more than a year. It is hard. Acknowledging that it is hard is important.

But we can do hard things. 

I have been repeating this mantra to myself for the past few months. It is something that you know too, it is ingrained in you. You are strong and intelligent and beautiful and funny. I am writing these things to you here because you don’t let me tell them to your face. You say ‘no, no no E-oh, I a girl.’ Yes, you are right, you are a girl but you are also so much more. You are sunshine and light. You antagonise and you tease, you laugh and you stamp your feet in anger while exclaiming ‘I stamping my foot mummy.’ How could anyone ever remain cross with someone who speaks so sweetly. 

I will miss you more than I can imagine. It hurts my heart to think about not seeing you. I am terrified you will forget me. That we’ll come home and have fallen in your esteem. That our presence will not phase you. That we won’t illicit the shouts and giggles and stories and games and kisses that it does now. I know in my heart that you won’t but still I am scared. It is so hard to feel all these things on top of the undying love I feel for you. But we can do hard things.

I don’t honestly know how parents can feel about their children if this is how I feel about you. I sometimes worry how could I ever love my own babies like I love you. But then I look to your sister and my niece and I realise I have been foolish. Of course I can. There is not a finite amount of love dealt out. It is really quite astounding. 

Know this, I will always love you. It’s simple and it’s true. The best things are.

xx