Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Book Club: Wastelands

I really need to stop my late-night Amazon impulse purchasing.

Not only is Stewart getting super sick of breaking down all the shipping boxes that continually arrive on our porch, I certainly don't need any more random books cluttering up my already way-too-long list of books I own and would like to read. 

In any case, at some point I acquired Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse by John Joseph Adams (editor). At the time, I didn't realize that it was actually a collection of short stories rather than an actual novel.


Although I love post-apocalyptic fiction, I have since realized that I do not care for short stories.  

People have always imagined the end of the world, telling tales of catastrophe, chaos, and calamity, with a general theme of the nature of life in the aftermath of total societal collapse. Basically, Wastelands is supposed to be a collection of the best post-apocalyptic literature of the last two decades by many of today's most renowned authors of speculative fiction. 

I did enjoy some of the stories. However, the problem, for me, was that each chapter only included a brief part of what seemed to be a much longer and more involved tale, and at the end of each I was left feeling frustrated and unfulfilled. 

I did like the fact that this collection wasn't about zombie plagues or alien invasions, but instead told stories of more plausible apocalypses and their aftermath. Some were better than others, but overall, due to their short, truncated nature, I felt cheated, confused, and often underwhelmed at the end of each one. 

Maybe it's your thing, but short story collections are definitely just not for me.

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Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Circle of Life

Two days before sweet baby Kiley was born, my grandma passed away suddenly and completely unexpectedly.

In an instant, it felt like my heart shattered into a million pieces. 

Carol Edith Getchman
December 9, 1936 — February 8, 2017

We spend our entire lives preparing ourselves for the loss of our grandparents, but Grandma was absolutely the last person I had considered losing. Frankly, I thought she was far too stubborn to die. 

Now it is difficult for me to even begin to describe how heartbroken I feel over the loss of this amazing, strong, kind, selfless, and sometimes cantankerous woman. My soul aches with the knowledge that I will never see her again, and my life will always have a gaping hole without her presence, which has been a constant since the day I was born.

Grandma recently turned 80 years old. Her birthday was the day before mine, and we had a little family celebration together almost every year. 

She was born in St. Louis and lived in many places throughout her father's military service, including the Philippines. She met my grandpa in high school. They married in 1955 and remained together happily for more than 61 years. 

Grandma was passionate about her community. She was one of the founding members of the North Thurston Faculty Wives in the late 1950s and worked as a volunteer in the gift shop at St. Peter Hospital for many years. She was active in the Friends of the Lacey Library, the Salvation Army Women's Auxiliary, the Priory Knitters and Spinners Club, and in her church. She also enjoyed visiting inmates at Washington State Corrections facilities with her faith community. She was never afraid to ask the hard questions, even when it got her kicked out of Bible Study. 

For more than 35 years, she never missed attending a game or an activity for any of her grandchildren, and she usually arrived with some of her coveted baked goods in hand. Her cookie jar was always full, and she made amazing pies from blueberries and apples that we picked in the summer sun from her yard. She loved books (especially mysteries), tea, baking, koalas, and crafting (knitting, not crocheting, and counted cross stitch, not stamped). She loathed tattoos with such a vengeance that it frightened me into never getting one. She was always the perfect hostess and was a doting wife, mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. When she learned that someone liked something, she never forgot (and thus Stewart never spent a single holiday without Peeps for as long as he knew her). 

I grew up in her arms, in her yard, in her living room, on her cooking, and in the warmth and reassurance of her unyielding love. She was there when I was born, and rushed to the hospital every subsequent time I ended up there throughout the years. I spent sick days home from school on her couch eating popsicles and jello. We spent evenings playing Monopoly and learning how to darn socks. She was there when I graduated, and when I got married.

I took her for granted, assuming she would be there forever.

I feel so fortunate that Ryder got to know and love her for a short while. And although I don't believe in heaven or an afterlife, a part of me hopes that I'm wrong, and perhaps there really is a place where we come from, and return to. And that maybe Kiley spent those two days before she was born cradled in her Great Grandma's loving arms.

Grandma, it was an honor and a privilege to know and love you.

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Kiley Patricia

Kiley Patricia Alway was born on February 10, 2017 at 7:58 a.m.

She was 8 pounds, 6 ounces and 21 inches long.

Today is her official due date, but after various considerations we elected to do a scheduled cesarean delivery at 39 weeks. It was the right choice, because everything went exactly as planned and both Mommy and Kiley are doing wonderful.

Welcome to the world, sweet baby girl!

I plan to recount all the specific details of Kiley's birth day sometime soon, but right now we are just enjoying getting to know each other and getting used to our new reality as a family of four.

Toward the end of my pregnancy I had a lot of apprehension about how I was going to handle having two children. But everything everyone assured me of turned out to be true...

Your heart really does make room.

The amount of love that I feel for this tiny, beautiful, precious human being sometimes threatens to completely overwhelm me. It's like she has filled in a piece of my soul that I didn't even know was missing.

Happy birthday, sweet Kiley, and welcome to our adventure.

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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Adventures with Baby Sister | Third Trimester

And just like that, we made it through the third trimester!

37 weeks... officially full term and ready to go!

It's been a busy few months.

Stew and I actually took a huge step (for us) toward the beginning of December... we hired a babysitter! Yes, it took us two-and-a-half years, but it was finally time. We've been so lucky to have a nanny who we love, and family members who have always been excited to watch Ryder whenever we had any weekend activities going on. But when I received the invitation for my company holiday party (to take place on a Thursday evening in downtown Seattle) I knew the time had come. We asked around and hired a super responsible and highly recommended teenager from our neighborhood to come over and stay with Ryder for the evening, and go figure -- he had an amazing time and was peacefully asleep in bed by the time we got home. Stew and I also had a great night out on the town.

As a reward for being so good for the babysitter, we decided to take Ryder with us to a friend's birthday party at an Everett Silvertips hockey game. Unfortunately this turned out to be a terrible choice (two-year-olds, it turns out, don't care about hockey) and we left after the second period.

Ryder is growing up fast though, and we toured a really cool preschool that we are considering sending him to in the fall. We're still not sure if he'll be quite ready by then, but we thought a couple mornings a week doing his own special "big boy" thing might be good for him once Baby Sister arrives. 

The holidays were, in a word, BANANAS.

We started a week early with a fabulous Alway Family Christmas celebration at our house, and then spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with my immediate family in Olympia. But the fun didn't end there! The following weekend we had our third and final Christmas celebration with my sister's family and a ride on the Polar Express!

Needless to say, all these weeks of holiday festivities have really made the time fly by. 

Then, at the beginning of January, my best friend Tara threw me an amazingly thoughtful, sweet, baby "sprinkle," and my extremely generous co-workers also hosted a shower for me the following week. So now we finally feel like we have everything we need to prep for Baby Sister's arrival.

Throughout the third trimester I generally continued to feel great, and even passed my glucose test with flying colors. We had another growth ultrasound done at around 30 weeks because I mentioned to the doctor that this babe is feeling HUGE, but it turns out that Baby Sis is progressing right on track. In any case it was fun to see her sweet little face again.

I also turned 35 years old, officially knocking myself into the "high risk" pregnancy category, which I'm still not quite sure how I feel about... We did have a great little cocktail party with some of our best friends to celebrate, though. 

Some other happenings...

I attended a beautiful baby shower for Haley and her little girl. Haley's due date was supposed to be a week after mine, toward the end of February, but sweet little Jane Elizabeth ended up joining us early on February 1!

I also attended a little sprinkle for my dear friend Amanda, who welcomed her son William Mason on January 18. Seriously, it has been so much fun to share my pregnancy adventure with good friends this time around, and I can't wait for all these little kiddos to grow up together. 

We've watched the seasons change from fall to winter here in Snoqualmie, and have been trying to spend as much time outside as possible. 

Just this past week we had a huge storm that left about a foot of snow, and Ryder was in absolute heaven!

Stewart had quite a bit of fun in the snow, too...

We know that life is going to get crazy here real soon, so we've been trying to take advantage of the luxury of having only one child as much as possible by taking Ryder on some special outings. Most recently it was a trip up to the Snoqualmie Summit Tubing Center. We thought Ryder would love this little winter adventure, but unfortunately he was cold and not feeling well, so he ended up taking only one trip down the hill before we gave up and headed home. Maybe we'll try again in the spring...

Unfortunately, the last week or so hasn't gone exactly as smoothly as we had hoped. I accidentally took a hard fall in the parking lot at work, and Ryder subsequently came down with a horrible cold, which I almost immediately picked up myself. His turned into an ear infection, while mine morphed into bronchitis. Because both of us were feeling so lousy, I ended up starting my maternity leave a few days earlier than planned, but so far we haven't been able to get much rest. And in the meantime, due to Snoqualmie's epic snowstorm, we've basically been trapped in the house going crazy. Here's hoping that we both start to feel better soon, because...

Tomorrow is Baby Sister's official Birth Day!

After a lot of soul searching and conversations with our doctor, family and friends, we have elected to do a planned repeat cesarean section with this pregnancy. In December we met with our surgeon to discuss the details, and we feel confident and at peace with our decision.

We've been talking to Ryder every single day about his baby sister, and how soon she won't be in Mommy's tummy anymore, but instead she'll be a real baby that we can hold and love. I don't exactly know how much he can understand (I can hardly believe it myself!) but we'll find out soon enough!

Big Brother practice...

For so long, this little goofball has been my whole world. He made me into a Mommy, and from that point forward I was changed forever. I have been extremely apprehensive about how another baby will affect our relationship, although I have been assured over and over again that "your heart just makes room." In any case, every day I give Ryder some extra special snuggles as we soak up these last few moments as a family of three.

Soon enough, all the places that we've prepped in our home and in our hearts will be filled with a new little angel baby.

I can hardly wait to see what adventures lie ahead.

Wish us luck!

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