Prepare and Protect

For the past four months we have been preparing to have a sensitive conversation with our kids. When their grandparents died we were so blindsided by grief that we didn’t tell them anything. We shielded them so we could have time to figure out how to do the conversation right.

Part of Adam wanted to wait a really long time to tell them. We never wanted their deaths to be a secret, but Adam wanted to spare them the pain of knowing. Someone wise reminded him that our job as parents is to prepare our children, not protect them. Awful things will happen to them and around them as they grow and they need to have the skills and knowledge to deal. The idea that we can protect them from everything is unrealistic. So when it comes to learning about death and their grandparents we are planning on preparing them (a post on that to come).

So while we’re preparing for tomorrow, I had a moment of pure Mama Bear protection yesterday. I sent Ellis out into the yard to let the chickens out of their coup. He came right back inside and said “Mom there is a huge snake in the yard.” We have practiced this report in theory, but we had yet to have a live situation. I was very grateful that my older articulate son who explores with his eyes, but is very caution with his hands, was the one to find the snake. As opposed to the younger, infinitely curious and grabby child.

We get some really big (like 5 or 6 ft) black snakes from time to time. The black snakes, although large and intimidating, are harmless and in some cases helpful because they eat rats and claim a territory that keeps the big bad copperheads away. I assumed this would be a big black snake.

It was not.

This snake was sand colored with darker hourglass shaped patches. It was almost invisible in the grass. It was a poisonous copperhead. In our backyard. In the middle of the day. With its head up and mouth open. And my curious baby was heading towards it.

I had to do what mamas have done since the dawn of time- protect my young at the most basic level. So even though I routinely rescue bugs from our house and release them back into the wild there was no middle ground in this situation. While I have been preparing for months just to talk about the concept of death, now I was going to give them a live demonstration.

I have vivid memories of cowboys killing rattlesnakes at the Wyoming ranch we would go to every summer. They would strike them with their thick rodeo belt buckles and then put the heel of their boot on the head and pull the body off. One time they tossed a rattle for my brother and me to keep.

So I channeled my inner cowgirl. I improvised with a shovel at first, but that turns out to be an advanced technique for a novice snake killer. So I stepped on its head and pulled off its body. To further complicate the idea of death the snake’s headless body continued moving for over ten minutes.

The boys were unfazed by the snake incident, but I was high on adrenaline for the rest of the day. Go figure. Protecting them turned out to be a way to prepare them for dealing with future snakes and future deaths. At the very least they (and I) know we can handle whatever slithers our way.


ELA Cribs

For two years now — sidenote: how is this blog almost two years old – I’ve wanted to write about Luke’s crib. Now’s the perfect time because it’s actually undergoing a renovation.

Early on in my pregnancy with Luke, Eric announced that he wanted to build Luke’s crib. I think there was something about a three week long backpacking trip that gave him time to ponder the ways in which he wanted to commemorate the birth of our child and if I remember right, it wasn’t long after he returned that this announcement occurred.

If I’m being honest, I was slightly wary of this proclamation. Eric’s made small things over the years but this felt like a gigantic undertaking that my nesting self was uncertain about. It didn’t help that anyone we mentioned this too through a raised eyebrow our way thinking we were basically going to put our baby in an iron maiden.  The more I thought about it though, and considered the alternatives, most of the store-bought cribs we looked at were made of particle board or fabricated in China and something we’ need to assemble ourselves anyway.

So, Eric’s massive project for our children was born. I had some insight into the design, but not much. And in the back of my mind, I always figured we could pop by target in a pinch and grab a crib to put together right quick.

Eric and I made a deal, the crib would be finished by the end of the year as Luke’s due date was the end of February. Life working out the way it did though, that deadline came and went. The life of a freelancer/entrepreneur means taking work when it’s there and so Eric was slammed through the end of 2013. Building a crib really wasn’t a massive priority.

So it was actually sometime around February 1st that the crib got started. Eric saw a post for free reclaimed wood on craigslist and hit it up to get the bulk of the supplies. Unfortunately, this meant a ton of additional work we didn’t foresee in terms of trimming, peeling, sanding and cleaning all the wood. But, my man is detail oriented above all things and so he stuck through it.

I have to say, having someone build furniture on a two bedroom apartment’s balcony was an interesting experience. Eric did some of the work in a local park, most of it on our balcony, at the home of a family friend, and toward the end when he needed special tools, in a rent-by-the hour workspace here in the city.

Along about mid February, we were at a routine doctor’s visit when we found out I was 4cm dilated. My doctor promptly pulled me from work saying “this baby is going to come so fast that if you hear crying, it’s probably yours.” The heat was on.

So, for the next two weeks, I sat on the couch, knitting, watching the Olympics and looking through the window as Eric slaved away on the crib.img_1561

After his penitent for details, Eric’s second-most prevalent attribute is thriving on a deadline.

One night, days before Luke’s arrival, Eric asked me to step outside. He was ready to reveal the headboard. And I was honestly expecting to see a carved A on the headboard, which would have absolutely thrilled me. My breath was gone and my eyes were filled with tears when I saw the scene he’d depicted. I absolutely had no idea that was coming and it was more perfect than I can say.

I still find Luke staring at it some morning and one of his first words was mountains thanks to the depiction on the crib.

We’ve had the plans for a toddler bed conversion for a long time, but our easy going firstborn has been content to hang in his bed and wait for us to come get him.


However, we’re christening the new house and Eric’s building the conversion front. Destined to be shortlived, however, we’re also planning to move this crib over to the baby’s room after a few months sleeping with us.img_6977

I love the idea of both of our kids sleeping in something handmade and unique. I love the idea of this crib being handed down within our family in some form or fashion (too soon to be thinking about grandkids?). And I love that 18 years into our relationship, my partner still surprises me with his thoughtfulness, dedication and talent.


Just a few more weeks until we have a new nugget to lay down in this sweet space and I absolutely can’t wait.

Funny s@#t My Kid Says

My kids have been cracking me up lately. I keep a book of their most quotable phrases. I just started Calvin’s. He only has one entry so far, not bad considering he only has about 60 words at this point. Calvin’s first funny line is he pronounces butterfly as “butt-pie.”

Ellis is as chatty as they come and I recently reread his book and thought I would share my favorites here.

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