Today you turn six. SIX! I'm sure it's the kind of thing mothers say every year to their growing children, but I just can't believe how fast the years have passed! It seems like one minute ago you were standing in the second floor kitchen of our town house in Maryland with those corkscrew curls barely crazing your shoulders, wearing a diaper and shouting the lyrics to Queen's We Will Rock You as loudly as you could. MUD ON YOUR FACE! SAY IT! And then I blinked...and you are six.
Ellie, I want you to print this letter out, fold it up and put it somewhere where you can always read it, and if there ever comes a time (and if you turn out to be anything like me, there will be) that you feel misunderstood and wild and rebellious and you think you hate me, pull it out and read it and try to remember this time in your life when everything was so simple and pain was only from falling off your bike, not breaking your heart.
You are wise and rowdy and shy and outspoken all at once. You can't hold still for more than a second and I like to joke that you and your father have the metabolisms of hummingbirds but I think it's true too. I have had to relegate you to the floor more times than I can count for watching TV while doing a handstand...on the sofa. You aren't afraid of anything and even if you were I don't think you would let us know. You got attacked by bees and ate the asphalt with your face after falling off of your bike all in a couple weeks of each other and you were running barefoot through the grass and riding your bike again the very next day. You got moxie, kid. I want to be more like you.
Ellie, my mom has always been my best friend (well, except for those awful years I alluded to earlier) and now you are becoming mine. We have these conversations and I honestly feel as if I am in the presence of a peer. But then again I have never really felt like you were a baby or a kid. When you were born and your father was deployed and it was basically just you and me, I used to peer as deeply as I could into the cavernous expanse of your eyes and I could swear I saw something so profound it scared me. You are an old soul, and I feel as if your body is just slowly catching up to that person who has always been inside of you.
Your reading has really taken off this year and you have subsequently discovered texting from the iPad. Couple this with your kindergarten sized potty mouth and I now have the word "poop" in my phone more times than I care to count. The same goes for Both Grandmas, an aunt and your father, but you find it endlessly hilarious. I told you to cut it out or I would stop texting you and you then notified me that "Poop" means "I love you" in Ellie language. I then told you that apparently the toilet is saying how much it cares because someone forgot to flush. If you don't grow up to full of snarky wit, I'll never know why.
Your cat ran away recently and we all held out hope she would return (well, I only kind of did...she was evil). For nights you prayed that she would come back and even now every time you hear her name or see a picture of her you begin to cry the most heartbreaking cry. It is the greatest pain of your short life so far and as much as I hated that wretched animal, if trudging through the spider infested jungle at midnight would bring her back I would...but please don't ask me to do it. I begged your father to let me get you a kitten for Christmas and he reminded me of how much I dislike the end result of kittens: CATS. I said I didn't care, I couldn't bear to see you cry again, but he still said no. (just remember that when you're sixteen and looking for someone to be mad at.) Ellie, I would get you a whole box overflowing with kittens in every imaginable color if it would take the hurt away, but ultimately I know your daddy is right. So instead I hold you and stroke your hair and try to absorb all the hurt from your heart...and then I promise you a pony one day. One day.
Today you are six and I know in ten years you will be sixteen and I will feel like I just blinked again and POOF! you're grown. But please know this Elsbeth, of all the things I hold dear, more than the shiny things you love to admire on my nightstand, more than anything I possess, I treasure these small moments that turn into days that turn into years and ultimately memories. They are my treasures and I am so thankful that you were added to our lives.
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Posted by Jillian at 11:36 AM
Saturday, October 13, 2012
For the past several months I have been consumed with training for the Ko'Ko's Half Marathon. There has been no sleeping in on the weekend, there has only been long, and most often hard miles logged and pavement pounded. More in the last three months than any other time in my life, I have gotten up before anyone else in this house to run and I have loved every minute of it. Eat for running, sleep for running, dream of running.
Posted by Jillian at 1:16 PM
Sunday, September 16, 2012
I lie in bed for over 45 minutes trying all the tricks I've been told to send myself back sleep, counting backward, clearing my mind, deep breaths, prayer, more wine. I contemplate taking another Ambien and then realize there isn't enough time. I have to be up in three hours to run anyway. So with a sigh I drag my aching body out of bed. I put my phone under my chin and exit my bedroom as quietly as possible while dragging the huge laundry basket behind me; my husband doesn't even stir. I envy those who sleep so effortlessly.
I usually wake up while the rest of the house is silent, deep in their dreams, blissfully unaware of the great expanse of night that stretches before them, black and impenetrable. The cat greets me, this is her witching hour, she rolls onto my foot, playing coy and purring loudly. I notice that she has spared the paper towels and toilet paper rolls their lives this night so I oblige her with a pat. I generally do not like cats, but the darkness is lonely and almost any company will do. It was actually the cat who woke me up on this night, or day rather. She must have been practicing her midnight ninja skills because my bedroom door came flying open and I heard a raspy "meeeeeee-yawr" followed by a thump that was, what I presume, her body hitting the closet door.
Since I have given up the possibility of returning to bed, I make myself a cup of coffee. This, the laundry and the cat will be my companions for the darkest hours. I sit in silence and think about my mother. The distance that separates us is palpable and I can feel my heart being pinched at the thought of merely being able to touch her. I wonder if the pain is worse for mothers than it is for their children. I suppose one day I will know the answer to this question. If my mother were here she would get up with me, she always gets up. As a teenager my parents would attempt to convince me to keep their ridiculously early hours and to have coffee with them. They begged, they yelled up the stairs for me to come down. I covered my head with a pillow and told them where they could go: away! Sleep is precious to the young; it has lost its value as I've aged. Or perhaps we have fallen out of love, sleep and me. I chase it, but it eludes me or merely taunts me with too little time and I am too jaded to pursue it any further this night.
I carefully sort the laundry, load the washing machine, measuring and pouring cups of this and that thing that promise to clean, refresh, protect and soften, and start the machine. I enjoy doing the laundry, unlike sweeping these floors, I get an unnatural sense of satisfaction when I see that where once was a large ketchup stain, now is only pure, spotless cotton. I am the god of laundry and I (with the power of the laundering trinity: Tide, Oxyclean and Downy) have to power to absolve the ugliness from these poor garment's lives. By the power of Oxyclean, I command these stains to COME OUT-AH! And they do. All except the red, red dirt of Guam. The red dirt is a one way street to the abyss of the garbage bin for any careless clothing that may stray from the safety and purity of the grass or higher places. Usually the lost ones are smaller, child's clothing. Not even Oxyclean can save you now little BabyGap top, cute though you may be, you have been marred beyond redemption and are now destined for a short and ultimately very dirty life in the play clothes drawer and then it will be the abyss for you.
After I have finished talking to the laundry, I sit in darkness and contemplate the silence, which is actually very noisy if you've ever taken the time to listen. The air conditioner kicks on and off intermittently but not without a metal buzz and clattering sound each time before the whoosh of air comes. The dehumidifier in the kitchen makes a rhythmic hum that has an almost song-like quality to it and then there's the cat. She is trying her hand, er paw, at various cupboards in the kitchen, opening each one just enough to get her foot in the door (literally) and then releasing it with a smack! I renew my notion that she is evil. If I were brave enough to go outside at this hour (which I am not) I would hear the slight rustle of the palm fronds in the breeze which sounds like rain. There would also be the intermittent thud of a coconut or other small fruit falling from the host of trees surrounding our house. And then there would be the noises coming from the jungle: the snapping of twigs under the weight of large things, the rustle of leaves made by crabs and God knows what else, and in a couple of hours there will be the wake up calls of the roosters, but now, even they still sleep.
As I sit in the deafening silence, I think about the past few weeks of my life. I have travelled half way around the world, leaving my children, husband, and our tiny island home for the second time. I ventured to places I have only ever dreamed about and seen in books. I stood on castle steps and in the shade of the Eiffel tower. I witnessed the sacred vows of two people in love and took part in celebrating that love...it involved a lot of champagne. But most importantly to me, I connected with people everywhere I went and my love and understanding of the human condition...no matter where in the world you are, deepened and made me very happy. It is not the toys or trinkets I brought back with me, but those things that I will keep forever.
In three weeks I will run 13.1 miles...further than I have ever run in my life. I wish so badly I could send myself back in time to the thirteen year old me crying in the locker room after being unable to complete even a mile around the track. "Don't worry", I would say, "this is not how the story ends. One day after you have grown up (more than now anyway) and endured more than you would ever think possible of yourself, you will decide to run. And you will not stop. It will be hard just like it was today, but the strength that you will have gained from the trials that you will face will tell you to keep going. Just a little bit further. And you will. And you will continue to keep going further until the miles you have run amaze everyone who knows you now, especially you. So remember, do not be afraid of the pain that is to come, it will hurt, it always does. But let it in, feel it and then let it out, leaving you stronger and wiser as it goes. Always remember this: When we long for life without difficulties, we should remember that oak trees grow strong in contrary winds; and diamonds are made under pressure. " But then I remember myself at thirteen and doubt I would have listened to me anyway.
The washer clicks off and beeps three times, signalling it's finished. I look at the cat, who is languidly eying me with contempt, she must sense my renewed hatred. I begin to feel the exhaustion creep into my bones and I get up, I must keep moving. Difficult moments are just like running, if you simply keep putting one foot in front of the other, you will get to where you are trying to go. Unless of course you are trying to go to sleep.
Posted by Jillian at 4:46 PM
Sunday, February 5, 2012
So this week, I finally joined Instagram. And let me just say I now use my iPhone more than ever before. Jeremy was threatening to ground me off of it (why yes, he does actually act like he's my stern Grandfather ) until I showed him the beautiful pictures I've been making and he was all: Oooooooo! Pretty! I think outside of Shazam, and This American Life, it may be my favorite app ever. So because I'm taking so many photos, I'm thinking of adding a weekly post including some of my favorites.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
It's been three weeks and a few days that our family has been eating a paleo diet. I would be remiss if I wasn't completely honest with you and didn't mention that there was an instance involving pizza. And beer. And maybe some really good brownies, no not those kind of really good brownies, the kind that you could eat at church. We were riding along in the family "wagon", down the Paleo Trail and then we hit a pothole in the road, a pothole called Pizza and everyone fell off the wagon. And I'm not gonna lie when I say it was a dee-lish-us tumble, transcendent even. But then...the next THREE DAYS my stomach was in knots and for almost an entire day I was in bed feeling quite sick. So. Not. Worth. It. But hey, I have always been one to learn things the hard way. And, Lesson learned!
2 large eggs
1 cup of Almond Flour
1/2 cup of Flax Meal
1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sunday, January 8, 2012
If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time, then you know I like to talk about my health and what new fitness or diet regimes I've tried. Why, you ask? Well, why do I ever do the things I do? Most of us will never know. I can say one thing for certain though, I have learned the hard way that I am no longer 23 and my body just can not hang like it used to. Perhaps all those years of late night shenanigans are catching up with me. Maybe it's all the steroids I've been forced to take in the last few years, maybe it's those two small human looking creatures with giant eyes that I grew and then pushed out of my body that are keeping me up all hours of the night. Whatever the case may be, I have had my share of generally feeling like, well, poop over the last few years. And I have chronicled much of those experiences in this here blog. I have a nagging feeling that one day my kids are going to be teenagers and won't be seen with me in public for shame of some of the things I have shared. Well, TOO BAD. They just better wait until their first boyfriends come over and I begin to recount tales of how they didn't learn to wipe their butts until they were like twelve! I kid, I kid.