Saturday, 1 November 2014

What I Am Into - October 2014




What I Am Into :: October 2014

Well, another month has come and gone and still I've lacked the use of two hands and a brain to do much writing in this space of mine. All I have to offer in its place is another summary of what we've been into these past weeks. And on we go.

The picture above is a good representation of this month: enjoying the rain. We've been getting together with a few friends to hike with our kids each week, and right now that invariably means hiking in the rain. It's good for the legs and good for soul, but boy, do I ever have to talk myself into going each week. The group has become a nice source of accountability for me, as it is much more difficult to back out of a hike when it means I have to admit to other mothers that I'm simply a wimp when it comes to cold and rain. So I put on my brave face and get us all out there and I've never once regretted it. I mean, just look at the smile on baby girl's face! I'm so glad I didn't miss that moment.

On My Nightstand:

I read Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects early this month. I quite enjoyed Dark Places and absolutely adored Gone Girl, but by the time I finished Sharp Objects, I wished I hadn't picked it up in the first place. The writing was disturbing and graphic in ways that added nothing to the plot. To add insult to injury, I had called the ending quite early on in the book. Just disappointing all around.

For my next book, I wanted something that relied more on actual writing skill than mere shock value, so I picked up Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell. It was recommended somewhere as being a good option for adults who enjoyed the Harry Potter series, and so far I would agree with that assessment. It is both interesting and enjoyable, but its length and writing style (coupled with my lack of time and sleep) make for a slow read.

I've also started Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time and look forward to getting further on in that as well.

On the screen:

Each of my babies has been accompanied by a binge-watch of various TV shows. The boy came paired with Gilmore Girls, while his younger brother arrived along with our glorious introduction to Doctor Who. Baby girl accompanied a brilliantly nostalgic re-watch of the entire Boy Meets World series, and our newest sweet baby has finally given way to Parenthood.

The husband and I had tried to get into Parenthood last year, but never actually got past the pilot episode. During his last stretch of working out of town, though, I quite badly needed a really good distraction and decided to give Parenthood another go. It turns out that it's not an unenjoyable show, it's just not the husband's sort of show. On my own, I love it! I'm currently in the middle of season 4 and it's been the perfect fourth-new-baby-binge-watch pairing.

In My Kitchen:

I thoroughly enjoyed this Greek roasted potatoes recipe, along with some Greek chicken and a Greek salad. It's sounds boringly simple but it was truly one of the highlight meals of my month. Always nice to have a new option on the menu!

The kitchen currently smells like my favourite gingerbread cookies. We baked gingerbread people for All Saints Day today, and tomorrow we'll decorate them for All Souls Day. In a slightly morbid turn of events, the boy cut out a gingerbread head because, as he pointed out, "lots of the saints had their heads cut off." Well, true enough.

In My Memories:

Halloween has always been a bit of an unknown entity in our house. Some years we have avoided it completely, while other years have brought a half-hearted bit of participation. This year I decided, you know what? Forget it. We're going all in. We're going to have fun together and it's going to be great.

And it was. It so was.

We began our evening with my dad's family-famous layered taco dip. He always made this dip for special occasions when I was growing up, so I'm all kinds of nostalgic about it. I swear mine isn't as good as his, but it's more than passable nonetheless. We paired it with Witch's Potion (Coca Cola) and Unfiltered Poison (Sprite), a rare but exciting treat in our house.

As soon as the sun went down, we lit our home-grown carved pumpkins, which we had designed and cut out the night before. The boy drew an appropriately spooky jack o' lantern face, while his younger brother chose the somewhat more difficult route and requested Iron Man.


With dinner taken care of and jack o' lanterns glowing, we moved on to a little family party. We threw marshmallow "flies" into masking tape "spider webs". We turned out the lights and played glow-in-the-dark ring toss. We raced to wrap the kids as toilet paper "mummies", which the boy and I gleefully won while the husband laid down on the floor after making himself sick running in circles around the younger one. We tossed candy into cups. And as a hilarious grand finale, we hung donuts from strings and tried to eat them without the use of our hands. I haven't laughed so hard in a long long time. Just thinking of the four year old twisting around in circles trying to catch that donut in his mouth has me cracking up all over again. Ah, good times.

With the party portion of our evening over, we decided why not, let's go trick-or-treating after all. The boys ran for their knight costumes while baby girl became the most ridiculously adorable dragon in the history of dragons. We walked around our block and you know, it was the first time I had met nearly all of the people in those homes despite living here for a full year now. Interesting.

What I'm Looking Forward to in November:

Forget November, it's Dinovember! The kids were utterly mystified by this morning's breakfast table, where my beloved family calendar had been ruthlessly defaced and surrounded by dinosaurs armed with crayons. No one stepped up to take the blame for the mess, but those dinosaurs had better stay in their bucket tonight...


Well, friends, that is What I've Been Into this past month. What about you?


Linking up to What I'm Into with HopefulLeigh...

Friday, 24 October 2014

At the end of the week

Ah. We made it through another one, didn't we? Another week is winding up and we survived; maybe we even did some things well. Maybe we even did some good along the way.

There were a few challenging moments, though, weren't there? A day when our patience just wasn't where we'd like it to be. A morning that began with an argument instead of a connection. An easy way out that turned out to be decidedly not worth it. Doubt instead of trust. Old habits instead of new. By what we have done and by what we have left undone, we wronged others and ourselves. And there is not one of us whose week can live up to the highlights shared on Facebook or Instagram.

But we woke up each morning and we tried again, and cheers to that, eh? We sought to right our wrongs, and we faced again all the worst parts of ourselves, seeking better. We did what we could. Some of us made lists, some of us made plans, some of us prayed, and some of us just took another brave step and then another.

Whatever we went through and however we got through it, here it is: the weekend, for whatever that may be worth. Oh, it has challenges all its own, to be sure, but I still say it's worth a decent something. A pat on the back and an extra piece of chocolate, at the very least.

I don't know what your week looked like. Mine looked like staying calm through a broken bowl, cleaning up the pumpkin guts spread across the floor, and then losing it over a spilled bucket of soapy water. I yelled about that spilled water and about endless messes and for that matter, what about the mess in that other room that still hadn't been cleaned up? It wasn't good or right or true or necessary, but it happened.

This week I braved the wind and the rain to take the kids hiking with some friends, and the weather decided to be kind to us after all. Three hours later, we were back in the van, eating cheese while I fed the baby before beginning the drive back home. My autumn comfort zone focuses mainly on warm blankets and hot apple cider, but I did this and you know what? Good for me.

This week I sat down to draw with the kids, reproducing our garden-grown pumpkins with orange and green and brown pencil crayons. Oh, I could make that sound so good. Look at us, drawing the pumpkins that we grew in our own garden! Isn't that lovely and perfect? But reality had me ranting about how he didn't even look for the pencils that I asked him to bring, the pencils that were right there in the jar where they always are, and that's not the right paper and we need pencil crayons, not markers, [exasperated sigh]. And then I kvetched some more because they weren't enthusiastic about another project we had planned to do. I mean, why can't they just be the perfect little characters in my self-directed play, where I plan something exciting and they grin cheerfully and everything looks like the picture in my head says it should look? Some days I forget that they're living their own individual plays, all of us intersecting, wandering on and off each other's stage. It can be beautiful when I don't try to control it all.

I handled some challenges gracefully, stumbled my way through others, and utterly failed a few of them. I did poorly and I did well; every week is a bit of both. Easy moments and hard moments, successes and stumbles, I've not had a week that hasn't seen them all. Soon we will head onward into another Monday - but for now, it's the weekend.

Well done, and enjoy.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

What I Am Into - September 2014




What I Am Into :: September 2014

Our fourth sweet baby was born just one short hour before September began, and that rather overshadows anything else that may have happened in the past few weeks. However, as said baby very rarely allows me to have two hands free with which to write, well, anything - not that I'm complaining! - I thought a nice chatty What I Am Into post might do nicely for now.

On My Nightstand:

I may not be able to write much while snuggling a baby, but I can read. Continuing with this summer's love of all things Story, I've found myself drawn primarily to fiction and memoir.

I began the month with Wally Lamb's We Are Water, a random selection from the library shelves. It was engaging and well-written enough, but I finished and felt like all I had done was read about an assortment of dysfunctional individuals, unhealthy relationships, and disturbing situations. There was no sense of satisfaction when I closed the book. On the other hand, it probably wasn't the best post-baby book choice. A little too raw for the moment, perhaps.

Speaking of raw, I continued the month with Glennon Melton's Carry On, Warrior. I wasn't certain whether or not I would finish it, as I quickly realized that it was mainly composed of essays regurgitated from her blog, but there was enough new material that I couldn't bring myself to put it down. Just one more chapter...and one more...and one more. It's hard to find someone who can get so directly to the heart of everything the way Glennon can.

My MIL distractedly handed me Conor Grennan's Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal during a short just-passing-through visit with their new week-old grandson at the airport. It was so much fun to be able to stop by for them to meet the newbie, and I didn't give the book much thought until we got back home. It sat on my desk for a couple of weeks before, having finished Carry On, Warrior and unable to find something else interesting at that particular moment, I picked it up and thought I'd give the first chapter a go. And then I didn't put it back down until I was finished. It was so well-written and engaging, heart-rending and entertaining, just perfect and lovely and inspiring. I loved it.

With that done, I browsed our library's e-book section and chose at random The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. It seemed to have good reviews, but oh, it was boring. Dull, dull, dreadfully dull. I couldn't even get past the third chapter before I gave up and returned it.

Still, nothing beats e-book rentals for those late-night what-am-I-going-to-read-next attacks, so I browsed my wishlist and remembered I've been meaning to read Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner. This is turning out to be a perfectly absorbing novel; although it was not emotionally easy to read, it felt purposeful and touching. 

Currently on my "up next" list are Gillian Flynn's Sharp Objects, Lois Lowry's The Giver, and Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time.

On the screen:

The Doctor has returned, and there is basically nothing else worth mentioning once The Doctor has entered the conversation.

The Twelfth Doctor has pretty much won me over already, although I do still dearly miss Eleven. As for his companion, I loved Clara last season, but I'm less attached this season - if only, perhaps, because I know she'll be gone soon. The Time Heist was one of my favourite episodes ever, and definitely my favourite of the season so far. I'm curious as to where the various unresolved threads are heading - Missy, Pink, and so on.

In My Kitchen:

The lovely husband has been commandeering the kitchen most evenings this month, but I've slipped in from time to time to do a bit of baking. Energy balls, monster cookies, lemon thumbprint cookies, and (my personal favourite) pumpkin custard have all satisfied various cravings these past few weeks.

In My Memories:

September was, understandably, a slow month, and we stuck close to home more often than not. We were blessed by a few different visits from family who wanted to meet the new baby. When we did venture out, it was to visit a couple of parks to hang out with other homeschoolers in the area. Speaking of homeschooling, the boy finished another Life of Fred book and learned how to play both Chess and Othello. His younger brother worked on firming up his letter recognition. Baby girl temporarily became a giant after her baby brother was born, but she seems to have shrunk back down into a typical two year old again. Phew.

The husband and I have been spending many of our evenings with some newly-discovered board games. Pandemic was introduced to us by my sister-in-law, and our marriage thanks her profusely for this - having a cooperative board game is Very Good for those evenings when a competitive one would leave one of us feeling a bit grumpy about losing. It's like we're five, I know.

Still, a bit of competition can be fun too, and for that we've been relying on Power Grid lately. Because of Power Grid's unique turn-order rule that handicaps the game leader, the final results are nearly always very close. There's no winning by a landslide with this game. When we first opened the box and read through the rules, it all felt a bit intimidating, but actual game-play turned out to be quite simple and intuitive. We've enjoyed it so much that we've purchase both the Robots expansion and one of the new maps.

Both of these games are great family games, too. The team-based approach to Pandemic means that we can talk through the best moves together, and if one of the kids drops out, it's no problem. Power Grid has proven to be simple enough for the boy to tackle on his own - in fact, he's won the game twice so far, to our minor embarrassment. The four year old, meanwhile, joins forces with the autonomous robot, which carries on smoothly without him when he gets bored and wanders away from the table.

What I'm Looking Forward to in October:

Although the month is starting off on a bit of a low note with the husband heading out of town for two weeks again, the kids and I will make the best of things by driving up to visit their Oma and Opa for (Canadian) Thanksgiving. Which means I'm basically begging everyone for all the prayers, luck, and well-wishes that they can possibly offer, because eleven hours in a vehicle with four little children sounds like the craziest idea I've had in ages. But getting to spend a few days with my lovely in-laws will be well worth it, I expect.

Well, friends, that is What I've Been Into this past month. What about you?


Linking up to What I'm Into with HopefulLeigh...

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Too fast

It's only been two weeks and already, too fast, too fast.

There are those size 1 diapers that I mistakenly bought because I forgot that such a thing as newborn size existed until after he was born. They were so ridiculously big on him and now they fit him just fine.

(Let's not discuss how, when I first went to buy all the various post-birth necessities, I forgot about diapers altogether. Basically, the punch line is, I have run out of brain.)

His legs aren't all scrunched up anymore and his arms aren't nearly so scrawny and his face isn't wrinkled and his skull is lovely and round and he doesn't smell like birth and too fast, too fast.

How can he be bigger already? What did he look like last week? What will he look like next week? I'll forget about today but I don't want to, I just want to cling, collect each day and hold it right in my fist so I never forget what he looked like today and yesterday and tomorrow, capture his scent too, record every little facial expression and newborn sound.

I've spent hours each day just sitting here while he breathes the rapid newborn rhythm of sleep. The top of his head is baptized with endless kisses; I whisper steady murmurs of love. I inhale deeply every few moments. Close my eyes and savour the weight of him of my chest, knees pressed into the soft skin of my stomach. He shudders, shifts, sleeps on.

The kids gather round with books and games and kisses. I read aloud, imagining how my voice must sound to him, his ear resting against me. I play chess with the boy. The kindergartener works on his letters with me. Baby girl reaches over to play with my hair, thumb in her mouth, still, always, for now. Evening arrives and we move to the kitchen table while the husband and I play a board game, Pandemic or Power Grid or Ticket to Ride, or the three of us snuggle on the couch and watch Sherlock or Doctor Who or Top Gear.

Life continues on around us as I sit here with this growing creature. I know it will pass too fast, it already is, and I want to soak up these days while I can. Nothing is urgent; everything else can wait or continue as it will. I'm busy sitting with my baby.


Thursday, 4 September 2014

The day before Labour Day

Our newest son was born at home at 11:02 pm on Sunday, August 31, 2014, weighing 8 lbs 8 oz.


We are all, as always, madly in love with this beautiful little person.


Now, for those interested, the long version...

My sisters had arrived. Our van purchase had been finalized. The baby's due date had come and gone, as had the next few days, and still there was nothing more than the occasional contraction here and there. Which would have been fine, except that my sisters were, by unfortunate extenuating circumstances, leaving first thing Monday morning.

I spent that week giving the baby the usual cajoling - spicy food, birthing brownies, long walks, and so on - but all it did was leave me with heartburn and sore hips. Twice I considered and then decided against a membrane sweep from my midwife, as nothing seemed to indicate that my body was on the verge of labour. Like his siblings before him, this baby was in no rush to leave his cozy womb.

Sunday morning dawned somewhat more hopeful. The contractions were more frequent and of a different nature, crampy and lower like the ones that had preceded our daughter's birth. We went for a walk in hopes of helping things become more established, but by mid-afternoon it was all still rather flaky. Mild, irregular, nothing much to write home about. Still, it was something, so at 4:30, I made the decision to call the midwife and request a membrane sweep.

The risks of the sweep seemed very minimal at this point; either it would tip the contractions into a more established zone, or it would all fizzle out again after some discomfort. The midwife came, swept, and went, and we soon settled in to Sunday dinner (lasagna - I was done with spice-induced heartburn at this point). The contractions did indeed gradually pick up. When labour seemed well established, with contractions coming strong and steady, the husband insisted that I call the midwife before we ended up with another unplanned unassisted birth. I agreed, and by the time she arrived at 8:30, I was feeling rather grateful that I hadn't waited any longer. My midwife immediately called for the second midwife and the waiting began, everyone certain it wouldn't be much longer now.

Then it all stopped.

Too many eyes on me? Too much pressure to hurry up and birth this baby before the girls had to leave? Just a simple matter of false labour thanks to the sweep done earlier that afternoon? A bit of a pause, or a full-out stop? The midwife, with my gratitude, had everyone leave the room for a while. A bit of space, some breathing room, time to collect our thoughts. The husband and I talked.

One of my sisters came in to tell me that our mom had suggested we try to change the flights to the following day (we won't get into how the flights were supposed to be that day to begin with, but when I went to book them, she couldn't possibly take the day off work to drive to the city to pick the girls up on the Tuesday instead of Labour Day - those "unfortunate extenuating circumstances" I mentioned earlier). I decided it was worth a try, gave my beloved WestJet a phone call, explained the situation, and asked if we could switch to the exact same flight, just one day later.

Well, we could, for $500.

Unfortunately, $500 for the possibility that maybe-I-will/maybe-I-won't have the baby during that additional 24 hours really wasn't in our budget. Especially not with the new van sitting in our driveway, ready and waiting to seat our soon-to-be-four children. But she absolutely could not wave the difference in the (exact same, one day later) flight fees; disappointed, I chose to leave their flights as they were and hope for the best.

Thanks for nothing, WestJet.

I hung up the phone and the husband came back into the bedroom, asked what I wanted to do now.

"I want to watch Doctor Who." What? We hadn't yet got around to watching the newest episode, and I needed a distraction.

"Are you serious?" he asked.

"Yes."

"...Okay! I'll be right back with the laptop." He's a good man, he knows when not to argue.

I paced the room while we watched the Doctor enter the Dalek. The midwives sat talking quietly together outside the door. The girls corralled the children, who were quickly approaching the over-tired and over-excited stage. Everyone waited, but other than the occasional mild contraction, things were looking decidedly unhopeful.

Halfway through the episode, the midwife came in to check on us. I was feeling more than a little discouraged by this point. The midwife gave us a few different options: she could send the second midwife home for some rest while staying herself for a while longer, we could try some different positions and movements to see if labour picks up again, we could try some other methods to encourage labour...or she could break my water and the baby would in all likelihood arrive very soon afterwards.

It was 10:00 at that point and I wasn't feeling labour. My dilation had been at 4 cm when the midwife arrived to do the sweep, and a quick internal check confirmed no change. To me, the options were either go to bed or get this done with.

Any other baby, I'd have gone to bed. But we had flown my sisters out here with the intent that they be at the birth, and it wasn't their fault that their return flight ended up having to be earlier than we had initially planned. It meant a lot to them - and to me - that they be there for the delivery.

We discussed the various risks and possible outcomes of breaking my water. There were no guarantees. But I was six days past my EDD, I had been in active labour, and my midwife expected that in all likelihood, breaking my water would result in the baby arriving within the next hour or so.

The husband and I discussed it some more. It was so far outside my typical view of birth to consider breaking my water for no purpose other than to hurry things along, and I was having a hard time with the idea. Even the sweep had been beyond my comfort zone; I prefer to leave baby alone, let him or her arrive when they're ready, medical reasons aside. I confessed my anger that by having my sisters come, I had also given my mother this small measure of inclusion in and influence over my labour.

"But it's like that Doctor Who quote you love: Just because there's some bad, the good things don't become less important. You've enjoyed having your sisters here. You want them here for the delivery. This isn't her choice, it's yours. I feel comfortable with either option. Do what feels right to you."

(Source)

Oh. That man. I wiped away a few tears, took a few deep breaths, and told the midwife I wanted to have my water broken.

At 10:18, the midwife broke my water, reminding me as she did so that a warm shower would help ease the transition. I shut the laptop at the foot of the bed before she began; I couldn't have my water broken while a Dalek had such a direct view of the proceedings. The experience was uncomfortable, to put it mildly, and I was grateful to step into the hot shower as soon as it was done.

The contractions picked up immediately. They were indeed more intense, but the water was lovely on my back. Each contraction was preceded by a gush of water; I'd lean into it, knees bent, moaning low while reminding myself to keep breathing, keep breathing. Then it would ease and I'd rock and sway through the interim cramps, talking with whoever was at the door at the time - sometimes a sister, one of the kids, the midwife, or most often the husband.

The husband kept asking if he could get me anything. Finally, feeling amusingly annoyed by the question, I asked for a TARDIS so I could pop a few minutes into the future when this would all be over. He explained why that wouldn't work (nerd), so I suggested an epidural instead. He winced at the thought of a needle, and I agreed - even then, the idea of having a needle inserted into my spine sounded like someone's idea of a sick joke. We chuckled about that until the next gush of water indicated the arrival of another contraction.

The intensity continued to build and I knew it was almost time. After one contraction nearly brought me (literally) to my knees, I told the husband to turn off the water and call the kids in while I knelt on the shower floor. The midwife slid a towel and blanket under me, the next contraction hit, and I hollered low through the push. I reached down to control the speed of arrival as the head emerged, followed, as always, by that blissful sense of the worst of it being over. After a very brief pause, the next contraction delivered the rest of the baby, which I guided forward and lowered onto the waiting blanket. It was the first time I had caught my own baby.

The baby let out a cry, then relaxed into the blanket. It had been 45 minutes since my water had been broken, and everything had gone as perfectly as it could possibly go. The next 15 minutes are a blur of congratulations, discomfort, joy, and that lovely moment of "Well, what is it?" "It's a boy!" Our two costume-loving middle children had attended the birth dressed as a knight and a dragon, and everyone else had been there to witness the moment as well.

After the placenta arrived, the oldest boy cut the cord, grinning the whole time. The midwife passed the baby to his Daddy while I took a short but glorious shower. Clean, I slid gratefully into bed and watched as everyone said hello to this new little person.

Our sweet youngest son is four days old now. He's healthy and snuggly and nurses well and what more is there to say? We are so grateful for his presence in our home and our family.

Friday, 29 August 2014

The Edge

Sometimes I linger too long at that place between fully awake and fully asleep. There are half-dreams and half-thoughts, the remains of the night and the beginning of the day. I don't feel ready to surrender to wakefulness, but neither can I seem to fall properly back to sleep. And so I linger there, on the edge.

Eventually I give in. Open my eyes. Today my reward is the sweet sight of baby girl fully and totally asleep. Her thumb hangs halfway out of her mouth, her other arm resting against the swell of her soon-to-be (any day now, any minute) baby brother or sister. Under that arm, her two constant companions are pinned between us: the doll I made for one of her brothers, and the rainbow dinosaur her aunt and uncle brought back from Brazil. Behind her lay her three blankets, one Grandma-knit, one Oma-sewn, and her car blanket that somehow migrated to her sleeping space during the past few hot weeks. She is utterly abandoned to sleep and I marvel at her, study this toddler-baby who is both so small and so big at once.

At the end of the bed, the husband is fastening his belt. It felt like only moments ago he had been pressed against my back, arm over me as we slept, interrupted by his alarm (Doctor Who theme, because we're geeks like that) reminding him to get out of bed every few minutes. No contractions meant I couldn't rescue him from this last work day of the week. He kisses me goodbye and leaves quietly. He'll text me later, I know, asking me to go into labour so he can come home from a boring day at the office, and I'll reply in faux-annoyance but it's been five days of this and the annoyance isn't entirely a joke at this point.

Some days I manage to fall back asleep after he leaves. Today I stay awake, just lying there quietly, thinking, until baby girl wakes up too and her early-riser brother hears her babbling and bursts into the room and the day has started, time for breakfast. My time of lingering is over.

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Tell me a story without an ending.

I have happily spent this summer devouring fiction and memoirs, a veritable deluge of stories. Morton, Flynn, Graham, Hunt, Moriarty, Worth, Picoult, Green, Niffenegger; love and loss, murder and mystery, birth and paper towns and secrets and time travel. Each one has been delicious as it sinks into my marrow, my very being, in a way that no instructing or soap-boxing or arguing ever could.

The stories become part of me, and through them I come to better know the heart and soul of humanity.

* * *

I've become weary of conclusions.

How I Quit Sugar For Good

10 Steps to Stop Yelling

5 Products You Need Today

The Secret to a Happy Marriage

50 Ways to Make Summer Memorable

How _______ Changed My Life for Good

Conclusions, all of them. The last page of people's stories. The ending, the final thoughts, the lesson. They're tidy and clean and instructive and often quite lovely...but I'm feeling burnt out on lovely. What happened to the middle part, the long messy twisting journey that preceded the arrival?



What do I want? I want unfinished. Unpolished. I don't want the conclusion or the lesson or the ten-point how-to. I want the adventure, not the destination. The mess, not the polished finale. How about a bit of uncertainty? Some loops back to try again? And what of dreams still far off, not just the ones coming true now?

I want to read more than the last chapter of the book, where everything comes neatly together and Happily Ever After begins. I could do with less outrage and certainty and cynicism, more questioning and wondering and wonder. A story without an ending.

* * *

Stories are what make us unique. Even computers can't do it. Just us, just people, telling our stories to each other and down through the generations. They endure. They help us to see one another - not labels and divisions and boxes, but one another. Not judgement, but compassion and understanding. Not lines in the sand, but hearts and souls that are so much more like our own than we ever before realized.

Tell me a story. Just the beginning, the middle, the cross-road, the climax, the wherever-you-are along the path. The end of that particular road will come in time, and there will be other roads that begin, so many of them, branches and twists and forks and where next? Snippets from the journey, that's what I want. I'm tired of only hearing the endings.

Tell me an unfinished story.

* * *

Once upon a yesterday...

I splashed boiling water on my 40-weeks-pregnant belly and damn, did that hurt. I fell straight asleep that night and woke up in the morning still waiting, waiting, for that 40 week baby to arrive. And in the waiting there was boredom, jumpiness, a bit of anxiety and impatience alongside the anticipation.

Perhaps tomorrow there will be more to tell.

And perhaps not.