First Mother's Day

Mother's Day was weeks ago, but the emotions I felt on that day refuse to translate into words.  Between bathtime and playtime and naptime and all the other special times in the day, I've been mulling and sifting through my thoughts about mothers, women, myself, my own mom, my grandmas.

In the past, I gave little thought to the holiday.  So little, in fact, that it seemed to just bust out of nowhere every year.  For a while elementary school set me up with macaroni necklaces and glittery handmade cards, but come fourth grade you're on your own.  So the day before Mother's Day I'd end up sprinting through the mall to grab something pretty {but admittedly useless}.  I was convinced my mom was impossible to shop for, but I had to get her something to show her I loved her.  I'd put some good thought into a card, tell my mom I loved her, maybe give her breakfast in bed, and then that was that.  That was Mother's Day.  Until next year when it would bust out of nowhere again.

Mom... I'm sorry.  It took me 24 years to get it.

When the sun streamed through our bedroom window this Mother's Day morning I woke up flooded with a heavy sense of gratitude.  My first thoughts weren't about looking forward to getting anything, I just wanted to bring our baby into bed with us and love on my boys.

I didn't feel like it was a day that I needed to be reminded that Camden or Roy love me.  It was more of a day to appreciate Camden, our health, our love, our forever family.  Just an excuse to step back and realize what we have.  A few times I had to stare at my little family like this was a dream.  A really, impossibly good dream.

Still, Roy did make me breakfast and give me a few sweet gifts, and I did feel very loved.  But mostly I felt love for him, Camden, and the women higher up on my family tree who made this impossibly good dream possible.

Two of those women came over for dinner that night.  My mom and her mom, along with my grandpa, my dad, and my brothers.  Dad brought a table and chairs to set up outside so we could enjoy our garden and the almost-too-warm May air.  Mom brought flowers, because she always makes every space beautiful.

And while we passed the baby around to play with between bites of BBQ take-out, I sat back and looked at these two awesome ladies, hoping that someday I'd be just like them.  Able to sit surrounded by the fruits of your life's work: family and love.  

I guess I should have known it wasn't about the gifts or the pancakes or even the macaroni necklaces, but I finally get it.  Mother's Day is to celebrate life.  Without moms, without dedicated women who nurture and sacrifice and love, there wouldn't be any of it.  Not to mention that without babies, there wouldn't be any moms.  I thank God every day that I'm Camden's.  I have the best job.  In.  The.  World.  And I have the best examples to guide me through it.

Grow Green

"To plant a garden,
          Is to believe in tomorrow."
- Audrey Hepburn

Our backyard consisted of nothing but signature Sonoran desert dirt; dry, hard as cement, and reflecting the sun like a mirror.  It really wasn't much, but it didn't bother us before.  Not until we had a boy and realized he was going to need somewhere to have outdoor adventures at home.  {Not that rolling in dirt isn't every little boy's idea of a perfect afternoon.}

Maybe because it was such a small little square of space, no renters before us bothered to do anything with the yard.  I mean, if you put a swing set back there you'd hit a wall swinging back and then smash into another wall with your face.  Not exactly huge.

But I don't think you need a lot of space to do something fun/beautiful/practical.  We've got big plans.

Step one in this masterful plan was to lay some pavers.  Cover up some of that fantastic dirt.  There were several random mornings when I'd wake up with Camden, Roy would already be outside leveling every inch of the ground, working up a sweat.  He worked hard, and had some good help from Dad.  It turned out awesome-I can already see Camden riding his trike around in little circles, or drawing with sidewalk chalk.  Perfect.

Step two was to build me some planters.  The guys accomplished this in only one day!

They also busted out this bench, positioned in the shade of our neighbor's orange tree for part of the day.  Love it.

Step three was on me.  Garden time!

Who says nothing can grow in the desert?  Firstly, we planted a grapefruit tree in the hopes that it will provide both shade and delicious citrus-y breakfasts.  In the planters we have yellow squash, honey do melon, green bell peppers, sweet banana peppers, cucumber, and a bunch of different kinds of tomatoes.  The only thing that never made an appearance was my zucchini.  I was totally rooting for that little mound {I love zucchini} but the seeds stayed buried and nothing came up.  Boo.  Next time I'll have to try singing or reading to it.  That stuff works, right?  I've never been a gardener, so I'm expecting plenty of trial and error.

Here was something unexpected: my squash plants have beautiful yellow flowers!

My baby tomatoes chillin in the shade!

My baby human watching me garden!

Something about gardening is therapeutic and refreshing for both Camden and I.  He is all wonderment and awe, even at the tiniest leaf, and I love watching that in his eyes.  But I can't get too lost in those baby blues, or he'll snatch a leaf and stick it in his mouth.  And me, I just love having living, green things growing around me.  I'm planning on planting flowers along with the sage in the planter under the bench, and I think I'll get a hummingbird feeder.  Dude, get me a wind chime and a yoga mat, I could totally zen out back there!  

Now step four... well, we haven't gotten that far in our master planning.  Roy and I can't agree upon what to do with the other half of our little dirt patch.  Roy says grass.  I say it's easier to grow a giant beanstalk than keep grass alive around here.  But I haven't thought of another idea yet, other than the typical crushed granite.  Maybe stick a sandbox in the middle of it, although I don't think Camden will be ready for a sandbox for quite a while....

Any suggestions out there?  Anybody?

¿Cómo estás?

As I was rocking Camden to sleep in the blackness of a walk-in closet in Mexico, I tried to come up with a name for what we were doing.  The term "vacation" seemed inappropriate.  If anything, I was working harder than I did at home-especially when trying to get him to sleep in this unfamiliar place.  I mean... we don't normally make our kid sleep in a closet.

But that's not to say the trip wasn't fun!  Even when Camden was terrified to be in the pool, there was still an element of adventure in it all.  I want to remember even these sad little expressions and how he clings to you for dear life when he's scared.  How he snuggles right into your neck with little "Save me!  Save me!" squeaks.  His devious plans like suddenly conking out so he can ditch the pool experience.  Clever boy. 

{New nap strategy: dip baby's feet in large public pool.  Results may be immediate.}

Camden liked being out on the town, soaking in all of the smiling faces.  Seriously, smiling faces everywhere.  Something I love about the Mexican culture is that everyone seems to love children.  And they aren't afraid to come right up to your little and pinch their cheeks.  I even had a random woman try to help me adjust the sling I had Bubs nestled in.  No warning, just started pulling at Camden's legs and re-arranging them so that he would be more comfortable.  Wow, hehe, okay gracias.

 {This is a classic excited expression.  He flails his arms and legs as fast as he can and gets this manic look in his eyes.  So glad I finally caught a picture of it.}

As a kid these Mexico trips were days of 14 straight hours under the blazing sun, riding quads, boogie boarding, swimming in the pool.  Someday Camden might find those things a little more appealing.  For now, he preferred exploring the fibers in the rug in the shelter of the condo, and that's okay.  My mom and dad were only too happy to swoop down and play with him when Roy and I wanted to hit up the jacuzzi downstairs or go for a sunset walk on the beach.

You know something I didn't expect?  How melty I get when I see my mom and dad in the role of grandparents.  Dad turns into a big fluffy marshmallow just at the sight of Camden, and Mom is always cooing and fussing over him.  I love how she sings him old songs I vaguely remember her singing to me.

{Look how much he loves her!}

But the nice thing about being grandparents: you get to benefit from the cuteness and still get a full night's sleep!  One night Roy and I were up several times, once for over an hour, while Camden was up.  Stinker.

However, even with Camden being stuck in his carseat for the four hour drives, and even with the hard naps in the closet, the trip was totally worth it.  Not a "vacation" per say... let's call it an adventure.

But isn't everything?