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The Haps.

Jesse is, as always, a professional rock star. His jaunty gait has been a little hoppy-er as of late, however, due to a lateral transfer at work that put him into new waters. The guy loves to learn, and he’s happier than a pig in… extra muddy mud. He’s reading research books at night, trying to explain new concepts to his willing-but-clueless wife, and grinning at his computer screen.

He’s also obsessed with fixing up a “family truck”. The most recent one brought with it a troupe of black widows and came complete with both an ichthys (Christian fish symbol) AND an “I ❤ My Hot Wife” bumper sticker.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 1.27.40 PMCarter Patrick is obsessed with kindergarten. Watching him do so well and grow so much in a short time really makes me feel like we made the right decision to put him in a bit early. My mom-heart needed that validation. Within a few weeks, his reading and math skills and his love for science have picked up even more. He begs me to give him more homework at home, to practice reading with him. We read library books and pretend to be characters from them and run around the house, usually waking up or confusing poor baby Jack.

And I was worried about him socially. Because, well, he’s littler and he’s extra weird (my favorite). But seriously. Kid has so many friends. He went to his first classmate-birthday party this weekend and had a blast. And Allison (whoever she is, I’m coming for her) kissed him on the cheek at lunch and tried to hold his hand on the slide. And he’s won three “Pawsome” awards for being extra good in class or explaining what “rhythm” is in music class. And he comes home with paint on his nose and his gelled hair all a mess and he does NOT like the stuffed crust pizza in the cafeteria but begs me to pack him at least three pickled okras in his lunch. And he doesn’t care that he’s the only 4-year old, or that no one else likes pickled okra. And during show and tell, he told the whole class that he’s going to take ballet. Because Carter Patrick is the raddest, raddest kid.

Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 1.42.38 PMJackaroni and Cheese, Chumby, Quack. My littlest is not very little at all. He’s so, so long. And those thighs! But still with the furrowed brow and the raspy old-man laugh. And the thighs. Never has a babe had such thighs. Jack is his father’s image, but I’m pretty sure he has my exact personality. Too serious, and then suddenly all the happy. Eats without grace. The only thing missing is a love for sleep — but I think that can be learned (please?).

Cracker Jack has a mouth full of swollen gums and first teeth. He’s crawling everywhere. He has a penchant for the laundry room. I think the tile is the coldest in there. That, or he’s trying to get out to the garage to see the family truck. He loves his brother more than anyone else. He grows out of clothes faster than I can stock his drawers with his brother and cousins’ hand-me-downs. He is eating table foods, but he hates (HATES) anything with meat in it. Well, except fish sticks. He liked those. I’d say his favorite foods are carrots and coconut and strawberries. And everything else. Screen Shot 2015-09-20 at 1.46.51 PMAnd I’m good. Like, really good. I’m breathing a little life into my resume with a bit of freelancing (and getting to work with a most awesome friend, Celeste, at the same time). I’m taking barre classes (which fully deserves its own post, as I’m exercise-challenged). I’m finally hanging pictures up in my house and pulling out the Halloween decor and getting all sorts of stoked for Arizona-fall. I get to have Sean over for preschool three mornings a week, and we basically do academic hoodrat things while learning our colors, ABC’s, shapes, and basic rocket science. I’m on a strange nonfiction kick and am finally reading this gem. My favorite bible study started back up, and I can’t wait to get into some volunteer service work with those ladies. I’m churchin’ once a week and mopping the floor three times a day; I’m meal planning and I’m Momming. So much Momming.

And I miss her. And I get sad sometimes. A lot of sometimes. But my life is really, really beautiful. And both of those things make me want to cry, and that’s probably not appropriate (since I’m blogging from a very packed Cabin Coffee), so I’m going to get on with my Sunday now.

xo,

H

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Mr. Jack.

Sparks family photos
Four months old.

Sparks family photos

Dear Jack,

And just like that, you are four-months old. You love baths and walks outside. You sleep eleven hours a night. You don’t skip a meal. And, when I work really, really hard, you chuckle the sweetest old-man, raspy chuckle.

You are all chins and thighs and rolls, and I love it. You have softer skin than any baby I know, and you always smell like milk and soap. Maybe the most entertaining thing about you is your eyebrows and how much control you have over them. Such a skeptical child you are, Jack.

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Two months old.

Just like I thought from your Spider Man-kicks in my belly, you are one strong little man. You’ve been flipping over from front to back. Just never in front of me — only when I put you down for your nap (and you’ll only sleep on your stomach, of course). Then, after I walk away, you’ll flip yourself over, almost without fail, to check out your mobile. Then you’ll get bored and cryyyy. It’s a vicious cycle.

You can reach for your bottle and grab toys that hang above you. You are the best hand-holder, always curling your fists around my fingers and squeezing. And you love mirrors. But it’s easy to see why.

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You look just like your dad. A blue-eyed Jesse 2.0. But every now and then, I catch a glimpse of your Papa in your long face, or a glimmer of me as a baby in your full-cheeked smile.

Two weeks old.

You love watching your big brother, but it’s clear from your more-than-occasional scowls that you think he’s nuts. Hilarious, but nuts. The two of you fill my every day with early wake-ups, extra laundry, and a whole bunch of noise, but being the mom of two little boys is very much the best thing in the whole world.

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Three months old.

Our personalities are so alike, Jack. I can already tell. That furrowed brow, that temper, that love for sleep (on your terms, anyway), and how, sometimes, only your mama will do. The best part of all is that you love to cuddle. You curl yourself up into whoever’s holding you and just nuzzle. It’s the best.

Jack, you’ve taught me quite a measure about patience. You’ve taught me to accept each day and what it brings, knowing that my role is to be what you need. You laugh in the face of my plans and schedules. Actually, you can go ahead and cut that out — it’s just plain mean. I get it, I get it.

Right now, you are belly-down in your crib, letting out little puffy snores. I walked in to check on you and you opened your eyes, smiled, sighed, and then re-closed them. You give me the heart flutters.

I love you, Apple Jack.

Mom

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Life, Interrupted.

On January 13th, I started and saved this post:

A very small boy named Jack is here, and he is ours.

Jack Michael was born at 8:59 on January 5, 2015. He measured in at 8lbs even and 20″ long. He has long, long eyelashes and long, long fingers and a tiny pair of kissing lips.

After a nasty hit-and-run with HELLP syndrome with Carter Patrick, we were being diligent in monitoring my lab results, particularly after the start of the third trimester. At just after 37 weeks along, some of my old symptoms resurfaced. The unfunny joke about those symptoms is that many of them (spotty vision, swelling, headache, upper right gastric pain) can easily be associated with being largely pregnant. And then my platelets started a not-dangerous-but-not-good descent, and so began the every-two-days blood draws and urine samples.

The good news is that I never had to find out if that’s where all of that was headed. I went into a long, slow labor that started gaining speed last Monday. The day ended with a really cute baby with a full head of black hair.

As a side note, I’d like to hold a moment of gratitude for epidurals. Amen. The darn thing wore off for about 45 minutes — the anesthesiologist was in a crash C-section — and that wasn’t fun, but nothing like Carter’s labor shenanigans. Other than a super itchy face, I have nothing but high praise.

Everything has been smooth sailing. I mean, life with a newborn is exhausting, and one week in, I feel like I’m in a what-day-is-it cloud of feeding and diaper blowouts and fifteen minute catnaps.  But Carter has been pretty great with all the change.

In the stir of packing for a new house and happy haze of a new baby, I set it aside for a couple of weeks. And then, as Jack chimed in his third week, life stopped.

I can’t write about Megan the way I want to write about Megan. Almost two weeks since the wreck, and the mention of her name makes my forehead go numb. That’s how I’d describe it. My brain freezes, not a fade but a collapse, and there’s truly a physical tingling right in the front of my head. Sometimes the thoughtless, stymied minutes (or hours) are accompanied by tears. Quick, thin tears that roll and roll. It’s one of the oddest things — crying without any thought. Empty head, numb brain, blocked mind — and tears that are in full stream before you realize they are all over you, all over your steering wheel, all over your husband’s shirt, all over your sleeping infant. There is no heartbreak, no loss that is relatable. And I think that is all that I can manage to put down, right now. But I promise, Meg. I promise I will keep trying. I promise that I will keep trying until all of your stories are heard.

The main purpose of this blog, from its 2008 beginnings, was to help me track my life. I’ve done a shoddy job, especially in the past 2-3 years. In the wake of personal hardship or struggle, I’ve opted for radio silence. And in the happiest times, I’d get caught up in the moment and put off documentation. As for the first — I think it’s time to not default to mute when it comes to my life story. And the latter, well, I’ll try to be better.

For today’s sake, it’s important that I document a couple of things:

January 5th: Jack Michael Sparks was born

January 23rd: We closed on our new house

January 27th.

February 5-7th: Jack was hospitalized for RSV.

February 6th: Alllll the help moves us into our new home.

February 10th: Megan’s services.

I don’t know. There’s more. So much more. Organizing for her, or her boys. So much organizing. So many events. The giving; the community. Lots of craziness and doctor appointments on our end. The house, unpacking. Jack fussing and Carter driving me crazy and the mom guilt and not knowing what to do, ever. Last semester of Master’s classes.

I don’t remember what sleep is. Jack slept until 5:15 this morning. 12-5:15am. Best night of sleep I’ve had since January 4th. It was amazing. (Jack went down at 8, so that makes it truly amazing. I’m considering tranquilizers on my end of the bargain.)

Part of me wants to be so, so happy. Jack and Carter and Jesse and me. Living so close to his family, my family. Having our own place with our own yard and seeing the sun come up over the mountains. Spring weather. Despite all the other stress and busy-ness, this would be the happiest I can ever remember being.

But she’s not here, and I don’t know why and I can’t think.