Come On. Get Happy.

Well hello! It's Giving Tuesday! This is my first one as a mom, and I gotta say, I'm a little conflicted. I feel a slight temptation to spend all of this year's money on Christmas gifts for our baby because he's so dang special, but I think the detrimental effects over the long term might not be worth it. Plus I want him to grow up knowing what it means to be generous and especially to be the kind of guy who pays attention to what's going on around him and steps up to help when he sees someone in need. Hopefully you know by now that I'm a big fan of giving, so here's an updated list of organizations I've either worked with or supported myself. No doubt they would all benefit from your donations today. Come on! Get happy!     

Denver Rescue Mission: These guys provide meals, shelter, emergency care, rehabilitation services, and family services to folks all over Colorado.

Denver Writes: Their mission is to provide young writers in the Denver area with a supportive community and creative opportunities to express themselves through writing.

Open Door Youth Gang Alternatives: These folks have been around a long time, doing some of the most important work there is to be done in America.

*Next Tuesday is Colorado Gives Day, but you can schedule your donation ahead of time if you're planning to give to a Colorado nonprofit. You know, #givewhereyoulive

826 National: Just maybe one of my favorite non-profit organizations of all time.  

International Justice Mission: These people are doing some of the most difficult and important work on the planet, in my opinion. Why not give a gift of rescue this Christmas and help free innocent prisoners from jail or help a widow start a small business

Compassion International: I've been sponsoring a girl named Rosi through Compassion since I was a college student. Big believer in the work these folks are doing over here.

Lately, From The Library

There's nothing like feeling settled enough in a place that it makes sense to start requesting items from the library because you know you'll have time to a) go pick them up before they get put away again and b) finish reading them before they're due back. I took baby Abe on his first trip to a Denver Public Library on Friday, picked up a stack of books, and paid a fine that was more than a year old while we were there. I felt like a whole new lady.

I'm working on reading a bunch of young adult/middle grade novels in an attempt to start a small business/make $50 or more using The Internet before the end of the year. More to come once I get through the pile in the picture. I really enjoyed The Turtle of Oman and have just started Rain Reign. I put that Rumpelstiltskin one on the bottom because I'm hoping it's going to be my favorite. I based that decision entirely on the cover. 

Have you read any of these? Reading anything else good lately? Want to be my friend on Goodreads?

Where You Die, I Will Die

Today my marriage to Dann is five years old. And baby Abe is three months old. And I am exhausted, but so happy. 

For a long time Dann and I weren’t sure we would ever be parents. There were a number of reasons, not least of which was the fact that neither of us felt remotely capable of being able to do it well. We had a very serious conversation about the whole idea shortly after we started dating, and I think our mutual reluctance made us more compatible in those early days.  

Obviously, some things changed over time (mine was not an unplanned pregnancy), and we’re three months in to doing the best we can and also realizing that probably no one ever really feels like they’re doing parenting well all the time, am I right? (No, seriously, if you’ve done this before, please tell me I’m right.) 

When I imagined what life would be like with a baby, I really had no idea. (People say stuff like this about becoming parents all the time, but it’s sort of vague/not very helpful. Like, I was prepared for sleep deprivation once we got home from the hospital and started having to be awake in the middle of the night. I was not prepared for laboring 26 hours through the night and going home from the hospital totally depleted and THEN having to be awake in the middle of the night.) I tend to think I’m fairly pragmatic and I like to be prepared, but this has been a more trying transition than I could ever have imagined. When we found out I was pregnant, Dann and I were thrilled (obviously), but we also had a handful of conversations about the ways we were experiencing grief over our days as a childless couple coming to an end. We love each other, but we also really like each other a lot and have had so much fun as a pair since we met. We knew welcoming our boy would change everything, and we were a little bit sad about it.

Real talk: that sadness still gets to us some days. When we’re at our most tired and our most frustrated and our most helpless-feeling, I think we both long for a time when we weren’t responsible for this tiny human. But then we catch a glimpse of his gummy grin and we’re convinced he’s the best, most significant thing we’ve ever done, that we’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.

If there’s one thing I’ve gained from knowing Dann, it’s a sense of security that allows me to be braver than I think I can be. He makes me confident that I can face my fears, that we really can do hard things. For weeks I asked him if he thought we should just start looking for new apartments in Seattle because I thought moving halfway across the country with a newborn would be too hard. He reminded me every time that living in Denver is what we actually wanted, and that moving halfway across the country with a newborn was possible, even if it was hard. He drove the entire way from Seattle to Denver and when we hit a major rainstorm in western Idaho, he didn’t flinch. At one point during the storm he even chuckled in response to something someone said on the podcast we were listening to. Meanwhile, I was on the verge of hyperventilating/trying not to worry about all the drivers in cars with Idaho license plates that had pulled off the road. I was convinced they knew something we didn’t and it probably meant we were going to die.

We made it the rest of the way to Denver and we’ve been settling in to our life here with a baby since mid-May. We took a weeklong trip back to Seattle a couple of weeks ago and Abe got to fly first class on the way home. Not a bad way to experience the second flight of your life at eleven weeks old. It occurred to me then (because I think a lot about how terrible it would be to die in a plane crash whenever I board a plane) that now, more than ever, I really do want to die where Dann dies. We made the vow to one another five years ago and the more we grow together, the more I hope it’s the way things will end. 

Whoa. That got dramatic. Happy anniversary to us! Ha. We got each other a new cutting board and tickets to see TuneYards and Death Cab at Red Rocks next week. 

Now. Let me tell you about this zucchini bread. This. Zucchini. Bread. I ate it at The Whale Wins with Rachel just after finding out I was pregnant, before food really sounded like a good idea. I liked it so much I told Dann to make sure he ordered it when he went there for dinner with friends a couple of months later. And when we went together to this book's release party at Book Larder, they gave us each a slice and we were convinced we needed to own the book. Then Dann asked for the zucchini bread every week or so for about nine months. I finally got it together to make the bread for his first father's day. But let's be honest, he did most of the work while I fed and changed and wore the baby. It took all day, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.  

Road Trip Of My Dreams

As I type this, baby Abe is asleep in the Boba Wrap and I've got a batch of brownies made from a box mix in the oven and clean towels going in the dryer. This may be the most accomplished I have felt since giving birth and bringing this little wiggle worm home almost five weeks ago. He weighs more than ten pounds now and he's into his second month of life and we're starting to figure each other out a little bit, I think. He's a little champ, and I am so honored to be his mama.   

When I was in high school, I had a very vivid dream about taking a summer road trip across the country. I don't know who I was with or where we were going, but I remember feeling hopeful and excited both during the dream and when I woke from it. It's a dream I've envisioned repeatedly in the years since, wondering if that road trip - along with that sense of hope and excitement - would ever happen in real life.

Well, as crazy as it probably sounds (and feels, at the moment), Dann and Abe and I are packing up and moving back to Denver. Next week. Our lease is up at the place we've been living since we got to Seattle a year ago and, now that we have a child, the prospect of moving back to where most of our family and friends live just seemed more appealing than finding a bigger place here and potentially moving more than once in the next few years. I mean, who enjoys moving?

When we made the decision to come out to Seattle, neither one of us anticipated we'd be ready to move back to Denver just a year later. We also didn't know how much I would long to be near some of my best people while I was pregnant, and how badly we would want to be near our families once we brought the little guy home. So we gave living in a new place a shot and we had a blast and learned a whole bunch of new things and got some sweet time with some dear family and made what are sure to be some lifelong friends. Seattle has certainly been good to us, and leaving won't be easy.

But we're also really really excited.

I'll be honest, I'm a little nervous about making the drive and about disrupting the routine we've started to establish with the baby. He's doing such a good job eating and sleeping and pooping and peeing and I couldn't be prouder. But when all is said and done, I think our drive as a family of three back to the place I really think of as home might just be the road trip of my dreams.