Tuesday, February 10, 2015

As the Crow Flies

Big changes are ahead in the Paddock household. Well, that’s just it. The big change IS, in fact, the Paddock household. We’re moving. 

In my last entry I spoke of a house serving barely any purpose beyond being a box in which to store your crap. I conveyed my sentiment that the idea of home largely takes place outside the house. I still believe that. But who I am I kidding? I, the queen of nostalgia, the girl who fervently clings to tradition and ceremony…I, the girl who came home to this house after my honeymoon and conceived my child in this house… Yeah, I’d say that this house means a bit more to me than brick and mortar. 

This house is porous. A breathing, living thing. It knows our secrets and has sheltered us from the proverbial storm. It was the Open Window we climbed through to
begin our new lives as husband and wife, mother and father. It is our point of origin—like boomerangs we may venture out, but we always return here. I guess I don’t quite know how to wrap my mind around the fact that the Open Window through which we climbed  four years ago is soon to become a Closed Door.

Change is good. We aren’t meant to live life inside our comfort zones. I get it. But amidst the chaos and uncertainty this world offers, I have found myself seeking consistency, even permanency. Zach is a product of Eric’s and my affinity toward routine. In fact, he’s becoming downright OCD. I get him out of his crib in the morning; he turns on his light switch; we walk into our bedroom; he turns off our ceiling fan; we walk into the kitchen and pour milk into his glass bottle; he blinks and winces in anticipation of the noisy microwave door being closed; we warm his milk and return to our bed where he lies on the SAME pillow the SAME time every morning. Creatures of habit, every one of us.    Maybe it’s time to spread our wings a little. 

The truth is, we are only moving about 30 miles Southeast. In many cases, we’ll actually live closer to our valued friends and community. I’m thankful and I’m excited. But as I start packing, I will be boxing up memories, pieces of my soul. I will tuck away the laughter and tears that have echoed through these hallways and rest them upon the shelves of my heart. This house can never know what it has meant to me, what it has been to me. Like Silverstein’s “Giving Tree” I will return here one day. Of course I will. I will sit on the sagging front stoop and allow this old house to give us shelter once again. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Privacy Please

About two decades ago I met one of my greatest loves. Life was breathed into me in a visceral, palpitating way and I was drawn into the clutch of unbridled ecstasy. This love has never left me, although it has been shelved for some time. The memory of what was and the hope of what will be fills my spirit with quiet resolve to plough forward. For now I bide my time until we meet again. Oh, sweet Travel, your grip is a firm one. 

I was not blessed with a sharply tuned memory. My recollections are proportionately linked to emotion. I remember how I felt more starkly than remembering what actually was. I entered Latin America through the gate of Santo Domingo in the company of well-equipped comrades—folks devoted to bringing fresh water to the impoverished inhabitants of La Victoria, Dominican Republic. I tried to keep my sheltered eyes from gawking and hoped my timid smile would not reveal my shock at the way people lived: families of four or five sharing one mattress on the dirt floor and having access to only a single-flamed stove-top in order to boil the contamination out of the water. Children ran through the streets barefoot and wild as the roosters who ran alongside them. 

My first great observation was that no one spent much time inside their dwellings. We would walk through the neighborhoods and I remember feeling so scrupulously eyed that it made me check my blouse to see if I had dribbled the contents of my empanada. Everyone knew everyone. My friends waved and offered hellos and crouched down to allow the kids to climb upon their backs. Happiness in the purest form abounded. 

My 7-year old niece will sometimes say “Momo, I need privacy.” After traveling to over 30 countries, it seems to me as though privacy is an American concept. It wasn’t just the Dominicans who lived life on their front porches. In Vietnam, friends and neighbors slurped pho outside the motorbike shop. In Italy, folks gathered around the large community tables in the village square not because it was a holiday or festival, but because it was Sunday.
In America we shop at massive econo-marts where we can fill our carts with ribeye steaks, a garden hose and a package of underwear. We eliminate the need to pop into our local butcher or florist or bakery. We enter our homes through the garage so we’ll never brush shoulders with the neighbors. We plan “play dates” and make resolutions to “be a bit better about entertaining” when all we REALLY need to do is go outside. Take a walk. Break free from the privacy of our homes. Live. 

Twenty years ago Travel took my hand and started gently guiding me through the Human Experience. I reflect upon that personal awakening with both fondness and necessity. I cannot forget what other cultures have shown me and what I must instill in my own family—that sometimes you need to step outside of your house to finally feel at home. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

The Foresight in Forsythia

Our house was built in 1929. It was the eleventh house we saw on our house-hunting search a few years ago, and when we walked through the front door, we knew we were home. I continue to learn about this house; I know which floorboards squeak and what time of year the hallway under the swamp cooler vent is drafty. I know that if I crack the blinds in our East-facing eating nook that the sun will cast elongated triangles of light on the walls of my West-facing bedroom in the mornings. After a broken-English conversation with our Vietnemese landscaper I know that the mound of ants on our front sidewalk is only a signal that the weather will likely be changing, and not a reason to beckon an exterminator. 

When Eric and I were house-hunting, we drew a red circle around this very neighborhood. We loved the mature lots and historic feel and towering trees. We moved in long after Spring had sprung and the dead of Summer was upon us. Central air was unheard of in the 20s (as were, say, closets, and master bedrooms), but that's what we signed up for when we chose this house. Moving in in June, it wasn't until the following April--when Colorado is in its Great Thaw and the natives are ouside tossing frisbees despite the 50 degree chill in the air--that I saw something new to my native eyes. Forsythia. 

Having lived the majority of my formative years in the foothills of Evergreen, I surmise that this wild, neon shrub called forsythia was edged out of the mountain ecosystem by some 1,000 feet, or so. I know it seems silly to be so excited about a bush, but what struck me is that one day I was driving through my neighborhood and all I saw were the brown, dry, rustling remnants of a Colorado winter. The very following day our neighborhood was ablaze with wild, eratic, neon, forsythia. It's as though Bob Ross had paid our neighborhood a nocturnal visit and punctuated the drab city streets with "happy little shrubs" overnight. Their contrast against weather-worn fences and frozen Earth was stunning to me. It symbolized how quickly things can change. One day life is drab; the next it is vibrant. 

For a lot of my close friends and family, it has been a tough year. I have watched life and circumstances change in an instant--for the worst: a negative pregnancy test, miscarriage, death or severe illness of a loved one, termination from a job, divorce. I have cried out to the heavens on behalf of numerous grieving, aching friends pleading that Something's Gotta Give. 

One of my best friends was having a rough day. She was frustrated and distraught and decided to retreat to her bedroom to collect herself for a moment. When she descended her staircase back into reality her eldest son presented her with a picture he had scribbled during her respite. Scrawled across the page were the words "His mercies are new every morning." This little kiddo used a scripture from Lamentations to remind his Mom that, "hey, there's always tomorrow." Faith like a child.

We planted two forsythia bushes in our backyard. They were too puny to produce blossoms this Spring. I cannot predict what next year has in store. But perhaps I, too, will need the promise of Spring's rebirth. Perhaps I will need the wild, neon, forsythian reminder that life and circumstances are capable of changing in an instant--for the better. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

A Piece of the Puzzle

In college I worked at an after-school daycare program at Immanuel Baptist Church in Shawnee, Oklahoma. It was ideal; I worked 3 hours per weekday afternoon and never had to work weekends. I had my own class of 5-6 year olds and essentially got paid to play games and take them to recess. I am a freakishly competitive person, and sometimes I could not stifle that fire in me even among kindergardeners. While all the other teachers sat perched on the cement benches surrounding the playground, I worked up a sweat organizing, coaching and playing soccer games with the kiddos. There was one little boy who was dribbling the soccer ball down the courtyard. When he was within two feet of the goal he stopped running, bent over and picked up the ball and threw it into the goal. In the heat of the moment I shouted, "that's BULL CRAP!!" It was one of those record-scratching moments when all the teachers ceased conversation and the kids looked at me wide-eyed and mouths agape. I knelt down to eye level with the little guy and attempted to fashion a "teachable moment" out of my horrifyingly inappropriate outburst.

Since birth I have had to manage a strange dichotomy: I am over-the-top competitive, but I seldom compete. I am fearful of coming off as ill-equipped or incompetent. I talk a BIG talk and, honestly, I am capable of walking a BIG walk. But my trepidation sidelines me.  I was the girl who loved swim team practice and impressed the coaches by working hard to surpass personal records. But on the days of swim meets, you would find me vomiting in the locker room, soggy toilet paper clinging to the bottoms of me feet. My parents were abundantly supportive; they never pressured me to be "the best" or to "go out there and make us proud!" They simply encouraged me to try. And if I failed, no biggie.

My 7-year old niece Lexi just wrapped up 1st grade. In recent visits she has filled me in on end-of-the-year picnics and field trips. Her face lit up when she talked about Field Day! I had flashbacks of my own 1st grade field day: wobbly three-legged races and waiting in line to do the standing jump. I remember chewing on my lower lip as the selected Team Captains scrutinized who the next addition to their Tug-of-War team would be. My insides screamed "PICK ME! PICK ME!" Nobody wanted to be the last man standing, the odd man out. I wanted those ribbons. They were embossed with gold lettering and, in my case, they said Whitt Elementary School Field Day. The 1st place ribbons were blue; 2nd place were red and 3rd place were white. Even in First Grade there was that one boy and one girl who dominated all events. They accumulated a stack of blue ribbons and fanned them out for all to see. I was the girl who had mostly whites, a couple reds and one blue (for chin-ups! I couldn't do a chin-up today if there was a million dollars at stake). There were many events where I didn't even place, and all I received was a hearty shoulder squeeze and a "nice try!" from the gym teacher.  I gripped my ribbons in my sweaty hand and heaved huge sighs of relief that Field Day was over. When I got home, i pinned my badges of honor to my bulletin board. I made sure my one blue ribbon was the most visible.

I asked Lexi, "did you earn any ribbons!!??" She stared at me blankly. "Momo, we don't get ribbons." Oh. I have asked other kids recently, "who won your [insert any sport] game this morning?" And they say, "I don't know. We don't keep score." These days, you don't receive trophies for winning. You receive them for participating. I have spoken to teachers who have been  burdened with this unbelievable mandate that they aren't allowed to fail their students. We are so focused on equality and tolerance that we dumb down superiority in efforts of leveling the playing field. Everyone succeeds. Everyone gets an "atta boy." Somehow we think that we are boosting esteem when we eliminate the possibility of failure. It is quite the contrary.

In light of this recent national trend of killing people, it makes me think hard about OUR nation. We aren't the only nation with access to guns. Is it possible that a privileged Santa Barbara kid makes YouTube videos plotting his revenge on girls who rejected him (and carries out this revenge by shooting them) because he was never taught to fail? Was he given Cs when he deserved Fs and does he have a shelf in his room displaying unearned trophies? There is a common denominator of disgruntled, entitled youth who barge into school rooms and massacre innocent peers. If a motive is uncovered, oftentimes it includes the inability for Said Gunman to problem solve (as was the case of the Arapahoe High School shooting in Littleton, Colorado this Spring. It was disclosed that he set out to kill a certain teacher because he didn't make the Debate Team).

Perhaps the most vital skill we can teach our children is the ability to recover from failure. It needs to be taught; it is not inherent. I needed my parents to wipe tears from my cheek after I botched my recital piece. I needed my parents to enroll me in opportunities to compete. Furthermore, I needed there to be a Darwinian system of Survival of the Fittest in place in order for me to measure myself against it.  Isn't true "success" oftentimes borne from deficiency? As a Nation, of course we need to review security and gun law reform. But perhaps we need to spend more time dwelling in the space that exists after you fall off the horse, and before you get back in the saddle.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Resting in Peace

Today the Lafata family lost its Matriarch, two days before Mother's Day. If there is ever a woman to leave a permanent imprint on our hearts and souls, it is my Oma.  Her legacy will live on...

On 9/19/1919 my Oma was born in a small town in Germany. Her stories of childhood are colorful and wildly entertaining and the stuff memoirs are made of. She had friends who lived across the river with whom she would frolic about in the evenings. To avoid being home past curfew, she would strip down completely naked and hoist her clothing above her head so she could wade across the river and get home on time, rather than wasting her time making it to the nearest bridge. It's that spunk, that feistiness, and maybe that good ol' German gruffness that kept her alive well into her 90's. Well, that, and her faith.

Oma wore many hats. She had a deft hand in the kitchen and those same hands gracefully played the piano till the very last month of her life. She bounced children (6), grandchildren (14), and great-grandchildren (26?) on her knees and taught us all lessons of grace and perseverance. She could tell you about Jennifer Lopez (J-Lo, according to Oma) and could rattle off the birthdays and anniversaries of everyone in her family. Despite living in the US for 60 some odd years, her German accent was still as thick as the potato soup she cooked on the stove. And boy did she love Jesus.

Oma signed every card or letter the same way since my earliest memory of her: Walk with Jesus. I have given that mantra extra thought today as I have been collecting my thoughts and marinating in my memories. Oma could have written "Trust in Jesus" or "Believe in Jesus." She could have said "Pray to Jesus" or "Serve Jesus." But she chose to gently instruct us to "walk with Jesus."

Recently I have been going on lots of walks. Zach does great outside and loves being pushed around in his stroller. And mostly, it's a chance for me to get caught up with my girlfriends. Life happens on those walks. Laughter and tears and confessions and revelations. And it's the same when I am alone. I soak it in and think and pray and process. And I believe that I am doing precisely what Oma has asked of me all her years.

The idea of walking suggests movement. It quitely nudges someone off the couch and beckons them to put one foot in front of the other. It doesn't demand haste or exhaustion, and yet it draws someone from the prison of being idle. Walking with Jesus is relationship, not religion.

As common as it became for the Lafata family to see Oma's scrawl of "walk with Jesus" scratched on everything she ever signed, those three words became her mission. I remember when I brought Eric out to meet Oma. I think I brought my mom and dad, too, just for some extra cushion. :) Oma made sure Eric was out of earshot and she asked me in her sweet, Germanic cadence, "Monica, (Mow-nee-kuh) does Eric walk with Jesus?"  It's a remarkably "un-judgy" question/request when it comes down to it. It's not much to ask. It's as simple as getting up in the morning, tying your shoes and taking steps. Small steps. Day by day.

No more than a few hours ago, Oma stood at the pearly gates. God beamed down at her and said, "well done, my faithful servant." Oma was unable to walk in her last days and weeks. But she is walking now. Alongside her Jesus. We love you and will miss you Oma.

But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength. They will
soar on wings like eagles; they will run
and not grow weary, they will walk 
and not grow faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Saturday, February 15, 2014

One Year Later...

Last Valentines Day I sat on my couch for a few hours staring straight ahead. Eric was flying, so I was left alone with my thoughts. I was in the midst of fertility turmoil and was feeling particularly raw and bereft on a day that is meant to be romantic and sentimental. I decided to put pen to paper and “go public” with our story of fertility and trying to conceive. I thought maybe I could make sense of it; maybe I could externalize the things that had been swimming in my head for some time. And so I wrote and I shared and I cried. The support, empathy and encouragement that followed was humbling and extraordinary. I could never have known what was waiting for me just around the bend. 

Zachary Claude Paddock was born on December 31st at 5:51AM. He came earlier (and was way scrawnier!) than I predicted. He is 6 1/2 weeks old now and has already changed and grown so much. The infancy stage is a day-by-day process--a constant surrendering of control--just as my ‘trying to conceive’ and pregnancy stages were. It makes me realize that possibly the human species is never meant to feel like we have everything under control because then we wouldn’t need God. I pick up my squirmy newborn in the early hours of the dark morning, bleary eyed, delirious and desperate for sleep. I hum a warbly, morning-breath rendition of  “Chariots of Fire” and melt when Zach doles out a gassy sleep-smile that, I’m sure, is totally unintended for me. He has to do so little, nothing, actually, for me to love him wholly and unconditionally. He grips his tiny hand on my shirt collar and heaves a robust post-milk sigh and I know I would die for him.

I have loved the name Zachary for a long time. It just seems like a strong name. I loved how the short ‘a’ worked with the short ‘a’ of Paddock. Zach Paddock. When we found out we were having a boy I looked up the meaning of Zachary:  Remembered by God. My eyes welled with tears at the meaning of his name--at the meaning of it all. God remembered. When I felt like I was navigating that lonely fertility road with no end in sight, God remembered. 

But I cannot detach from the stories I have heard along this journey. I have mingled tears with so many girls who, like me, have felt forgotten. There was not one day of my pregnancy and certainly not one day of Zach’s life when I don’t wonder, “Why us? Why did God choose us and not someone else to bring this child into the world?” To say that He “remembered” is to imply that He occasionally forgets, which is untrue. Nothing catches God by surprise. But in my cyclical reasoning, I am brought back to my root question: “Why us? Why now?”  And my only answer I can come up with is that I simply don’t know. I am not meaning to sound all martyr-ish. I am thankful and infinitely blessed. 

One of my FB friends posted a quote from Amy Grant:  “Beautiful the mess we are; the honest cries of breaking hearts are better than a hallelujah sometimes.” I dedicate this post to my dear friends who are still in the thick of it. I have not forgotten what it feels like to be parked on the other side of the fence. I still pray for anyone who is in a season of waiting and wanting and pray that in due time, you will feel Remembered by God. 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Buh. Bye.

This morning I harnessed into my jumpseat as the engines roared and the plane coursed down the runway and lifted into flight. The SeaTac airport diminished through my portal window as we banked to the Southeast, Denver bound. It was still dark at the time of our 6:10AM departure and I could see the Seattle lights winking their goodbyes as we climbed into the brisk Pacific Northwest air. My last flight: I relaxed out of my brace position and gazed outside my galley window  reflecting over the last ten years...

A 13 year-old boy boarded my plane with a brand new backpack and hoodie. He was an unaccompanied minor and was assigned a window seat in my first row. A seasoned traveler for being only 13, he easily located his seat, stowed his bag, plugged in his earphones, and sat gazing down at the commotion on the tarmac. His gaze shifted upward toward the concourse windows and I could tell he had made eye contact with the parent who had just dropped him off, the parent he would be leaving behind. He didn’t smile or wave; he just sat staring. I took advantage of a lull in the boarding process and occupied the middle seat next to him. I casually rubbed his back and asked if he needed anything before takeoff. His face contorted with emotion and tears started pouring down his face. This poor boy had desperately tried to keep it together and my touch broke open the floodgates. He confessed to me the agony of leaving his Dad for a school semester with his Mom. Why couldn’t they just have worked it out? he asked. I told him I just didn’t know but that I admired his bravery. He escaped into his in-flight entertainment and, after the flight, when I walked him up the jet-bridge to be reunited with his Mom, he looked at me over her shoulder as he hugged her and gave me a rueful half-grin. It was the grin of someone who had just told a secret and who had just gotten a weight off his chest. I watched them walk away, and prayed over his torn and confusing life.

I got a phone call from a coworker asking if I had the following day off from work. I did, and she asked if I would be willing to fly standby to Los Angeles to pick up a little baby who was being adopted into a family in Denver. I had prearranged for this opportunity; it was a chance to dust off my Social Work degree and add a little purpose to my Pepsi-serving, trash-collecting daily duties of a flight attendant. I landed in LA in my flight attendant uniform and in my high heels I clicked my way across the mile-long linoleum corridor to the international terminal. The inbound flight from Seoul, Korea was running late. I had very little information about who I would be meeting and what this hand-off would look like. I sat nibbling on my nails and shifting my weight from side to side until finally a Korean woman holding a baby singled me out of the crowd. She was re-boarding the return flight to Seoul, so our frantic minutes were numbered. She handed me Scarlet, a 6-month old Korean baby with wild black hair and china doll skin. She explained to me in broken English that it had been a long flight; Scarlet was exhausted and agitated and she had dirtied both of her travel outfits. There was no paperwork, no file, just a grocery bag of Scarlet’s soaked onesie and a couple stray diapers. I inwardly cursed for not having thought (or had the time) to come prepared. How could I hand off this tearful, dirty little girl to her eagerly awaiting new family in Denver? 

I hoisted Scarlet on my hip and clumsily made my way back to the Frontier terminal. My own flight was scheduled to leave in less than ten minutes. I got strange looks from passengers and TSA as I heaved my way through security carrying a baby who had to have weighed 20 pounds. I was sweating and wheezing and can’t even imagine what a spectacle I was! I got on the plane and was thrilled to have the back row to myself and flight attendants working the flight who were familiar to me. We washed Scarlet’s onesie in the lavatory sink and dried it in the airplane oven. Scarlet finally succumbed to sleep in a world where nothing smelled, sounded or felt like what she had been accustomed to in her short life. When we landed, I carried this package, this gift, this wiggly new life up the escalators to a family who had the video camera rolling in order to capture the first moment Scarlet physically entered their family. The balloons and signs and tears and shrieks and hugs and hoorays filled the terminal as I stood off to the side and shed a tear or two myself. 

We were boarding the plane for St. Louis and dozens of passengers were wearing the same brightly-colored t-shirts reading 70th anniversary!! We watched as 4 generations of family boarded the flight and were scattered in seats throughout the aircraft. Finally, the guests of honor boarded and assumed their seats across the aisle from each other in 1C and 1D. Henry and Lucille. Henry wore leather shoes and corduroys and a fedora that was likely 50 years old. Lucille wore a dress and a strand of pearls. They both had a twinkle in their eye as they got buckled in and prepared for our flight. They ribbed each other and joked and referenced their 70 years as a couple. They held hands across the aisle as we taxied to the runway. Their grip became firmer as we took off. I made an announcement to please welcome aboard Henry and Lucille and let’s congratulate them with their monumental achievement. The plane erupted with applause and celebration and Henry just looked at his Bride and winked. 

I have been so focused on all the days and weeks and months that are sprawled out before me that I haven’t spent much time considering just what I will be leaving behind. I have not officially resigned; I will make that decision after Baby Boy enters our family and changes our lives forever. But today I am struck by the necessary shifting of gears into a new identity, one that might not be defined by my role as a flight attendant. As we began our descent into Denver our Captain made the usual “prior to landing” announcement. He spoke of our ETA and the weather that would be meeting us in Denver. And then he asked for the attention of the 168 passengers because he had a special announcement to make. “Today is Monica’s last flight before she leaves to have a baby. She has been part of the Frontier Family for 10 years and is among the best. She will be missed and we wish her the very best.” My coworker and dear flight attendant friend with whom I was privileged to work my last flight had already made a similar announcement and the passengers cheered and clapped and hollered. I was tearful and humbled and overflowing with gratitude as each passenger wish me well as they deplaned. I was hugged and congratulated and told I would be prayed for and I couldn’t help but agree with the Captain: Frontier, in many ways, has been my family for the last ten years. 

I assembled my bags and made my way up the jet bridge and through a bustling concourse toward our crew bus. I badged out and stood on the tarmac amidst a fleet of airplanes. The early Colorado morning was chilly and I tightened my jacket around me. DIA vanished in my rearview mirror as I drove away from my life and my identity as a flight attendant. It has been one heck of a ride. But I trust that my best journey is just ahead.  

Sunday, September 15, 2013


Eric and I went to dinner at PF Chang's last night not knowing that we would be sharing the restaurant with dozens of High Schoolers. We sat in our booth and indiscreetly gawked at the teenagers as they clopped along in their mile-high heels, iGadget attached to their shellacked nails, spray-tanned arms linked through the arms of their Homecoming dates.  The boys wore suspenders and bow-ties and other hipster-ish apparel and tossed their moppy hairdos off to one side for
photo ops. Eric and I were speechless. We are in an information-gathering stage of this whole parenting thing, but we have been focused on infancy, not puberty. What will it be like for our child in 15 years when he is attending homecoming? What will it be like for us as parents? We nibbled our Kung Pao shrimp in silence.

A few weeks ago Eric and I were invited to one of my piano student's homes for dinner. My student (now former student) would be leaving for CU Boulder the following week to pursue his degree in Engineering. I was excited for this dinner;  I was anxious to sit across from a couple I have come to deeply respect as parents. In my five years of being invited into this family as a piano teacher, I have observed a unique, refreshing, respectful, reciprocative relationship taking place. It was not uncommon to pull up to their house and find the kids sharing the front porch swing with their dad, listening to his stories of childhood. Conversely, it was not uncommon for my student's father to peer in on our piano lesson with tears in his eyes as he proudly listened to his son's newest piano piece.

The six of us sat down to dinner--my student's parents, my student and his sister, and me and Eric. We didn't waste much time before I cut to the chase:  "What advice do you have for me and Eric as we prepare for parenthood?" The conversation that followed proved to be touching and meaningful, and one of the highlights of my pregnancy so far. I listened as the teens shared what they appreciate and revere about their parents and the antidotes that have proved successful. The parents shared their  wisdom, pearls that have been polished and refined over time. Some of their advice was familiar to us: prioritize each other in marriage and assume a united front; honor a weekly or monthly date night; don't sweat the small stuff. But my student's father said this and is has resonate with us: Create a place of safety for your child. Teach them their identity as your child and the importance of their place in the home. (And here is the kicker), "do not let the greater culture capture your child. Because it will."

These words came from the mouth of someone who is retired from the Secret Service. There are photos in his house of him flanked by our nation's presidents. In other words, he knows a thing or two about safety. He was trained to stand directly in harm's way in order to protect what you love and what you believe in. He knows an evil that aims to steal, kill and destroy. The very word "capture" implies an element of surprise, like you didn't see it coming. He challenged me and Eric to make sure we do.  

hope the common thread that I have woven through this series of blog posts is my value of family, tradition, belief, heritage. Of course I want our child to contribute to society and be an independent thinker. I hope he is compassionate, respectful and kind. (And I already know that he will be a pro golfer, a nobel peace prize recipient and a brain surgeon. Ha ha.) But more than anything, I hope we can teach what it means to be a child of ours, and a child of God. His identity is NOT defined by his place on the starting line-up or by what MTV deems sexy and cool. His place is on our porch swing, and safe within the concrete walls of our family. So while I plan on being a mom who is overjoyed when our son goes to Homecoming, I hope our son finds joy in simply coming home.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Relieving Myself

Earlier this Spring at my first-ever acupuncture appointment my acupuncturist lent me a book. This book, he said, was the philosophy and the spirituality behind his entire practice. “As a Man Thinketh” outlines the power of thought and states repeatedly that we are what we think: our character is the complete sum of our thoughts. My acupuncturist said that-- in addition to the balance that would come from acupuncture itself-- if I could train my brain to believe that I would conceive, then I would. For weeks, in addition to praying and dozens of other “fertility enhancing” hoops I jumped through, I fixed my mind on positive thought. And yet I didn’t get pregnant.  

My dear friend and supporter gave me a gift one day knowing that I was going through a rough time. It was a beautiful beaded bracelet with an elephant charm. The card explained that an elephant with its trunk up is not only a sign of good luck, it’s a symbol of fertility. The green calcite and rose quartz stones are known to clear toxins and stimulate fertility. I cried at the thoughtfulness of this gift. More than believing in the power of gems and crystals, my friend wanted me to have a reminder that she was thinking and praying for me. In the following days and weeks (and even still) I saw elephants everywhere. Eric and I stayed at a hotel whose water fountain was fashioned out of elephant trunks. I was rummaging through my desk and came across two dresser drawer pulls that I bought in Paris with distant dreams of a someday-nursery. They were blue knobs with a white elephant with its trunk up. My acupuncturist would try to convince me that the Laws of Attraction were hard at work and I was thinking these things into existence. But with every elephant I saw, I think it was God saying, “I gotcha...don’t you worry.” 

When Eric and I made it to our 12-week ultrasound we were still pretty cautious. We hadn’t really allowed ourselves to bond with the idea of being pregnant again, let alone bonding with the actual form that was taking shape inside me. We were desperate to hear a heartbeat and for the medical staff to congratulate us and welcome us into the league of expectant parents. The ultrasound tech was gliding the goopy wand thingy over my belly and started commentating her sightings: there is the heart and the brain and the little feet...and then she trailed off. I asked, “what is that black dot near the baby’s abdomen?” She told us that it was the baby’s bladder; it was enlarged; she was concerned; in her decade plus of practice she had only seen one other enlarged bladder of this size, but if she remembered correctly,she “thought it turned out just fine.” Great. Just in case they wanted to send us to a team of specialists. But we would have to wait for 5 days. 

We left the office with virtually no information. We had heard the heartbeat and gotten the on-target “head to rump” measurements, but looming over both of us was this reality that things might not be ok. We did what any desperate, grasping people might do and consulted Google. (I can almost hear your collective groans and sighs. And you are right, wise reader:  NEVER EVER conduct a Google search unless you are prepared for the worst case scenario.) And that’s what we got: The enlarged bladder could be so full that it presses against/causes the heart to stop beating. It could be a sign of genital complications, i.e. a risk of the baby being born a hermaphrodite. And on and on. We powered down our laptops and we waited.

We got to the specialist a few days later for yet another gooey stomach rub-down. (Although this time the gel was heated! It’s the small things...) Eric was out of his seat and standing a foot or two away from the flat-screened monitor. I was white-knuckling the chair and squinting at the screen through one eye. I listened as the ultrasound tech began her commentary: there is the brain and the heart and kidneys, the skull and the arms and the legs...and there is the bladder that looks perfectly normal...I interrupted. “The bladder is NORMAL? So what do you think was wrong?” She nonchalantly told us that the baby probably just needed to PEE. 

I don’t know what happened over those five days in between ultrasounds. Likely, the baby’s bladder just caught up to the rest of it and did what it was designed to do. But I still wonder how our first ultrasound tech had only seen an enlarged bladder of that size ONE other time in her entire career. I still wonder if maybe God worked a miracle that weekend. In my months of trying to conceive, and these vulnerable first months of being pregnant again, I have realized that, for ME, information has become the opposite of faith. I read fertility books and websites and conducted Google searches and gobbled up any resource I could get my frantic hands on in efforts to conceive and now in efforts to sustain this pregnancy. Perhaps I am already learning a valuable lesson in parenting...that it’s just as much about holding on with all your might, as it is about letting go.  But I know now, that in order for me to fully relieve myself, I need to unplug, put all information aside, and just pray. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Lucky 13

This is the entry I have fantasized about posting , and now that I am putting pen to paper, I am realizing that the words are strangely absent. I will just spit it out: Eric and I are expecting. Many of you have deduced this detail due to my silence over the last several weeks. I have walked a line between wanting to tell everyone and wanting to tell no one. We decided to wait out our first trimester before proceeding with gusto. Honestly, it wasn’t until earlier this week that we both finally took a deep breath. So here we are. 13 weeks.

 In January I went to my dear friend’s wedding in Seattle. I was able to pop into my favorite boutique (twice!) while I was there. I found a stack of vintage playing cards and selected the number 13. 2013 was newly upon us and my girlfriends, sister-in-law and I had already dubbed this year “Lucky ‘13.” I also found a basket of typed out quotes and searched for one I could declare my mantra for the year. Here is what I found:

Do everything with a mind that lets go.
If you let go a little, you will have a little peace.
If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.
If you let go completely, you will know complete peace and freedom.
Your struggles with the world will have come to an end.
--Achaan Chah

Now, this quote is a little Loosy Goosy, but it conveyed the posture that was essential to my survival this year: Surrender. I framed these two tokens, hung them on my wall and surrendered my hope for a “Lucky ‘13.”

The ironic thing is, I don’t believe in luck. Eric is a poker player and was an athlete growing up. (You still are, Honey.) If you ever watch a baseball game, I mean really WATCH it, you’ll see how luck or superstition factors into everything. A batter taps the outer edge of home plate twice before he un-velcros and re-velcros his batting glove, spits seeds over his left shoulder, tips the bill of his hat  and then assumes his batting stance. Before EVERY PITCH. The same goes with gambling. Gamblers blow on their dice before they toss them or tap on the cards they were dealt before they are overturned. These actions imply that there is something we can DO to determine our fate. And of course this is partially true. You can apply for a job. Or join a Singles’ Group. You can pee on ovulation sticks, take Mucinex to thin your cervical mucus and eat conception-enhancing pineapple cores (all things I did!). But without faith, I feel like it is all for naught.

I know I am walking on thin ice, here. For all my dear friends who are still TTC (Trying to conceive), I realize that my spouting out that you should “surrender” not only seems cliche, but it probably sounds judgemental. Because surrendering a dream that you dream every waking and sleeping moment in damn near impossible. Of course Eric and I were overjoyed when we got the positive pregnancy test. But I will say that I felt like I was betraying my TTC community. I woke up one day and it was me on the other side of the fence. I don’t know why my time is now.

I asked my sweet pregnant girlfriend (who is much further along than me) how pregnancy has most changed her. She answered that it’s in her love and empathy for others. She has found herself praying earnestly for friends in need and grieving the woes of the world. I am starting to feel the same. Empathy is creeping back into my life (it slithered out after years of being a flight attendant...sad, but true) and I break for the brokenhearted. 

Tonight I pray for those in want of something. I pray for a perfect blend of grasping tightly and letting go, of doing and not doing, for that nuanced relationship of luck vs. providence, and for a gentle reminder that our stories have already been written. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Flamingo in the Yard

It has been a couple busy weeks in the Paddock household. Last week my girlfriend Nichole, her husband Steve and their twin 20 month old babies (Eric’s and my Godchildren) came to stay with us for a nearly a week. Nichole was last in Denver for my bridal shower and her baby shower, so needless to say it has been a while. How joyful it was to hear the pitter-patter of baby footsteps as they chased each other across our hardwood floors. And there is really nothing better than a freshly bathed, pajama clad toddler with sleepy eyes and downy skin--the same kiddos who refused to sit on your lap earlier in the day now lounge sleepily in your arms and slowly succumb to bedtime. 

Our gathering in a nearby park scarcely resembled what it would have years ago: swinging singles with beers in hand exchanging tales of summer adventure. Those beers have been replaced by baby bottles and tubes of SPF1000 sun block. Conversations shift to gardens and children and pets and home-ownership, all things that symbolize the laying of a firm foundation, brick by brick. 

I read an article years ago when I was single. I regret losing track of it, though its content still resonates with me. It was about a married woman who grew resentful of her husband because he was not passionate about her crafts and hobbies. She felt as though he wasn’t connected to her and maybe he didn’t even really understand her. It went on to say that there is no one person who can (or who is even meant to) be your everything. We are meant to call forth community, to surround ourselves with people who fill various roles in our lives. No one person can wear all the hats. 

I adore the idea that it takes a village to raise a child. I firmly believe that to be true. One day, Lord willing, I vow to surround our child(ren) with people who wear hats of all colors, shapes and sizes. But lately I have realized that it takes a village to raise an adult, too. Who are we without the people who pick us up when we fall down? 

In our neighborhood in Denver there is a plastic, pink flamingo who sneaks his way onto certain lawns around 6PM on summer nights. This is a signal to our two blocks that a party has commenced. It’s an open door inviation to sit on our back patios, grill out, and build community. Eric and I are blessed to have the village that has raised us, the people who have gotten us to this point. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

On the Table

Eric and I went to Memphis a couple weeks ago to visit his folks. It’s one of my favorite places-their house-nestled in Germantown, Tennessee where moss climbs the old oak trees and the front stoops are flanked by azaleas. Every house looks like it has been plucked from a Thomas Kinkade painting; windows are aglow and the landscape is impossibly lush. Evening rolls around and Mama P asks us when we would like breakfast the following morning. We awaken as if in a Folgers commercial , with the smell of coffee tickling our noses and luring us downstairs. We sit around the breakfast table eating deliciously fluffy egg casseroles and fresh fruit and special bialy bagels and cream cheese.  Hours pass before we clear the dishes and move on with our day. Life happens around that table. 
My Grandma, Thelma Mae was born and raised in the Yampa Valley of Steamboat Springs, CO. Even after moving to Denver years later, she always kept the country in her home cooking. Her buttery homemade rolls could have won an award and served as a fine accompaniment to her golden fried chicken and velvety mashed potatoes. Her skillet-fried cheeseburgers melted in your mouth and featured the same Velveeta cheese that she used to top our scrambled eggs on the mornings of our cozy sleepovers. She sliced our toast diagonally to make perfect triangles topped with strawberry preserves. She took great delight in feeding me and my brother, and we always left her house filled to the brim, both of scrumptious food and of her abundant love and care. 

My Oma, Erna Martha was born in Rotenburg, Germany and brought her European palate to the United States in the late 40s. She married an Italian, so you can only imagine the feasts. Under the stubborn thumb of my great-grandmother, Vincenza Lafata, my German Oma learned a thing or two about Italian cooking. But she still snuck in her potato soups and plum kuchens and her rolladen with rotkraut and mashed potatoes. We had liverwurst sandwiches on German bread and salami and onion sandwiches on Italian bread. Our meals were eaten the way most Italian meals are eaten, in the tiled basement under a long fluorescent light with dozens of relatives packed around a table sitting upon creaking folding chairs and laughing boisterously in between bites. 

My favorite moments in life have taken place around the table. I feel as though it is one of the most intimate ways a family can connect--unplugged from the world and plugged into each other. I have had a long time to contemplate why I want a child of my own. Of course the list is endless, but near the top resides my strong desire to feed and nourish and pass on traditions. In fact, I lose sleep (seriously!) trying to decide if I want to carry on my Mom’s tradition of making homemade cinnamon rolls on Thanksgiving morning while we watch the parade or if I want to start our own tradition of, perhaps, monkey bread. 

Underneath the stairs at my Oma’s house in St. Clair Shores, Michigan sits an old, slightly rusted highchair. Probably a decade ago I “claimed” it with a sticky note: “Please save for Monica Lafata.” I was not yet even married when I envisioned raising sticky, chubby babies in that cold, metal highchair. I thought of the generations who have been raised in that chair, maybe even my own dad. Certainly my cousins. I picture pulling that old highchair up to the table where aunts and uncles and grandparents are seated and sitting back as old life mingles with new life and stories are shared. We will bow our heads, say a blessing and break bread. 

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Holding Pattern

Next month I will celebrate my 9th anniversary at Frontier Airlines. It’s hard to believe I have been a Flight Attendant for nearly a decade. It has had its ups and downs (pun intended), but I would not trade it for the world. I have traveled the world (29 countries and counting!), met the man of my dreams and boast friendships that will surely last the rest of my lifetime, long after I hang up my wings. 

There is a phrase in my industry that sums up my last 16 months: hurry up and wait. You hurry through security and wait in the boarding area. You hurry onto the plane and wait while the mechanics fix a computer glitch. You hurry to beat the impending elements, but the airport closes anyway due to nearby lightning. Your life becomes a series of frantic starts and stops.

My month is also broken into jarringly emotional starts and stops. Half the month is built in anticipation of something; the other half is spent in recovery of something. To be frank, you rev up your libido and pour wine and coordinate schedules and wait for the second line on the ovulation stick to appear and you hope and pray, and then you love. You plateau for a few days and rest before you spend the next couple weeks sidling down that very mountain you clambered up. And then your cycle--the cycle--begins again. 

“They” always say that waiting is the hardest part. And they are right. If I could know the following morning that our attempts the night before were futile, I could stand up, brush off, and go about my business relatively unscathed. But simple biology dictates that a two week wait is inevitable following ovulation. A mandatory pause button. Life in a holding pattern. 

Even as a small girl, I loved flying. I loved leaving somewhere (or something) behind and arriving in a completely different topography. I loved nestling into my window seat and gazing at the mirrored rivers that carve through the Earth’s surface knowing that-- in a few short hours--I would land. Arriving is imminent and the wait is over. 

There are no short-cuts on this journey, at least not for us. For some reason we are meant to endure detours and roadblocks. Maybe it will make the destination all the sweeter. I must believe that it will. I am a bird flapping my wings against gusty winds; I am a fish swimming against the current. It is incongruent to feel exhausted despite there being no forward movement. So we circle and we wait. We see the control tower in the distance and we are waiting for clearance to land. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Turning Family Recipes into Art

The last time I visited my Oma, I stumbled across a large Ziplock bag full of family recipes. They were scrawled on scrap pieces of paper in the original script of my Oma and my aunts. The beauty of my Dad's side of the family is that there is no such thing as a recipe card. My Oma (and her 6 children) are guilty of scribbling lists and recipes and sometimes even birthday cards on the reverse side of plumber ads and auto mechanic coupons. I asked my Oma if I could keep them. Since then, I have been able to supplement all the half-paged, mostly illegible recipes from my Dad's side of the family with the neat and precise recipe cards of my Mom's side of the family. And splayed before me is a beautiful collage of half century-old, bacon-grease-splattered family documents--my heritage being served up in the form of a plum cake.

These prized recipes are worthy of display. I dare not stuff them into a folder where they would be referenced once a year. So here is what I did.

I narrowed it down to the best of the best. I tried to find recipes that truly represent my lineage of cuisine (cuisineage?): my Aunt Katie's Italian spinguni and my Oma's stollen; our family's famed frog-eye salad (made with acini de pepe as "eyes") and my mom's Easter pie. I also looked for recipes with a little color, either from the ink in which it was written, or the paper on which it was written.

I dragged out the canvas that I've had laying around ever since the last Hobby Lobby 50% off sale and placed it on a surface of newspapers.

And I did a dry-run.

And now for the Mod Podge.

I used a thin layer of mod podge for the glue, and after it dried, I used another thin layer for the sealant. *I would recommend using a straight edge or a ruler to try to smooth out some of the air bubbles. The reason I didn't, is because most of the recipes I chose are onion-skin thin and I didn't want them to tear. 


Now my eating nook will have a beautiful, meaningful and practical piece of art hanging in it!

Parting Words: 
I photocopied every recipe front and back before I glued them to the canvas. 
If you don't have any of your original hand-written family recipes, no problem. You can either start accumulating now (send well-chosen pieces of paper to various family members and ask them to scribble out your favorite recipe. You can tea-soak these pages to acquire and aged look.) Or you can pop into a flea market or thrift store and search the shelves for old cookbooks. I found pages that were aged and also appropriate to my family. The typed recipe pictured above the small mason jar in the center of canvas is a "minestrone" recipe from a cookbook from the 60's. I think a canvas full of typed " recipes from "vintage" cookbooks could be pretty nifty, too. 
Please look for my next blog post: Fried Chicken with a side of Rouladen...coming soon!

Thursday, April 11, 2013


I had to drag my winter clothes back out this week. Our 1929 house has itty-bitty closets that could never accommodate my winter AND summer clothes. Every year I am guilty of trading them out too early; there is inevitably a 60 degree day early in March that inspires me to box up all my coats and boots and exile them to our garage. Turns out the storm didn’t hit the way they thought it would and I  would’ve been okay to leave my coats sleeping in hibernation. But when I looked outside our front windows, I commiserated with the tulips: I felt a heaviness on me; I felt blanketed in cold. I felt ill-equipped to weather the storm.

I am astonished by the highs and lows of this process of trying to conceive.  One day I can fawn all over a baby. I coo alongside its mother and am practically drooling myself over their sweetness and chubbiness. The next day I turn into a wild dog with my hind leg stuck between the metal jaws of a trap. I glower and snarl at anyone who draws near, despite their efforts to help free me. I sniff out the various peace offerings that are tossed my way, but ultimately leave them where they were thrown. I retreat into my cave where I can lick my wounds alone.

On good days I feel capable and hopeful and sometimes even blessed to be granted this extra time. Eric and I play scrabble every day and indulgently thumb through our Rolodex of favorite restaurants come dinner time. We can get on a plane to anywhere and not worry about anything except whether or not we’ve forgotten our passports. We sip wine and watch Chopped  and sleep in and go to the gym.

But on bad days I am touchy and prickly and feel like someone whose house has just been broken into. My personal space and comfort has been invaded as I cautiously navigate each room of the house. I glare at everyone who passes by. I am critical and accusatory and hateful towards no one and everyone, nothing and everything.

I know my condition is not unique. It’s universal to experience seasons of discontent and helplessness. I know people who are unemployed, going through a divorce, grieving the loss of a loved one. I feel petty and selfish when I allow grief to knock me on my ass. But that’s the thing about grief--it barrels through your door, uninvited, and stays as long as it wants. You can turn out all the lights and change into your pj’s and it still might not take the hint that it has overstayed its welcome.

Today the sun blazes. We are in Santa Barbara for a wedding. Eric is golfing and I am tucked inside our boutique hotel room sipping coffee and watching our gauzy white curtains flutter in the breeze. Two people will exchange vows this weekend and I am humbly reminded of the life that pulsates just outside my set of circumstances. There is a pair of binoculars resting upon a stack of vintage books in our hotel room. They are meant for bird gazing. I will use them to step out onto our balcony, broaden my lens and try to grasp a glimpse of the bigger picture.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Thinking Down the Line

Eric and I found paradise on Earth. It came in the form of a little Tuscan village near Sienna called Buonconvento. Months prior, when planning our trip to Italy, we booked our farmhouse on a wink and a prayer that it would be half as charming as the photos indicated. It ended up being twice as much. We traversed the Italian countryside in our Fiat, the wind in our hair. Surrounded by rolling hills of lavender and sunflowers, we found the entrance to our Cyprus-lined driveway. Our car coughed and hiccuped as it climbed higher and higher. Our home for the next several days sat perched atop what seemed to be all of Italy; the clouds and the vineyards and the olive trees extended as far as the eye could see. 

We picked fresh vegetables and herbs from the garden to add to the  pasta we had purchased in town. Buonconvento:  the cobblestone corridors gave way to the butcher shops that sold mortadella the size of a whiskey barrel. The cheese mongers offered samples of creamy mozzarella as the scent of rosemary and oregano perfumed the fall air. Long banquet tables were joined together and cloaked in white linens where five generations sat and broke bread. Chianti glasses clanked and the laughter was boisterous. And this was no holiday. This was just Sunday. 

In Italy (and every country I have visited outside the United States) I have been moved by the tremendous value placed upon family. I am especially gripped by the reverence and respect that is bestowed upon the elderly. It goes back to the provenance that I wrote about a couple entries ago--knowing your point of origin. Lineage is linear, a line woven through a family from its earliest descendant to the baby being born today. We lose that in the United States. We are caught up in a white-picket-fence notion that family is a nuclear thing that exists within the walls of a house. Lineage is severed and families become islands, independent and isolated. 

I have always been a nostalgic person. My Mother-in-law, Linda, gave me a set of shrimp forks and butter knives that date back to the early 1900s. They came from Eric’s great-grandmother. Linda knows that it's not the silver or the cocktail fork itself that interests me. It's the story. It’s the symbolism of something being passed down from generation to generation. It’s broadening a lens and belonging to a greater purpose, one that involves more than an SUV and a Golden Retriever. It is equally important for me that my child be bounced on the knee of his/her grandparents as it is for him/her to be cradled in my arms. 

I stood behind an elderly man in the grocery store earlier this week. He was probably about 85 years old and took great pride in his ability to run his own errands. He wore pressed khaki pants and a button-down shirt and carried a worn, leather wallet that matched his worn, leather belt and shoes. He counted out exact change for his handful of purchases. The cashier and the two customers in line behind him and in front of me treated him with impatience and haste. They clicked fingernails on the counter. They heaved great sighs of annoyance and shifted their weight from foot to foot. It would never dawn on them that, in Italy, this man would be seated at the head of the table for Sunday dinners. He would be looked upon with respect  and his words of wisdom would fall on receiving and teachable ears of the generations laid before him. He would bounce babies on his knee and they would know their role in the story that God set in motion at the dawn of time. 

Friday, March 29, 2013

My Life, A.D.

Two years ago I received an Easter basket from Eric, who was my boyfriend at the time. He proudly presented the basket that he had perfectly assembled and filled with delights. I was inwardly panicked because I hadn’t given Easter much thought. I had no hand-crafted gift to offer. So I sat on the couch in my little apartment and rifled through my basket of goodies. Eric seemed a bit anxious as I took time enjoying my unexpected gift. Finally I reached the last tissue-paper wrapped morsel in the bottom of the basket. It was a diamond ring. I looked up at Eric who already had tears in his eyes. He got on a knee and asked me to be his wife. 

I don’t think I paid much attention to Good Friday that year. I was thrilled, elated, content. My time in the wilderness was ending and I would be married! Eric and I would lay to rest our time as boyfriend and girlfriend and would be resurrected as husband and wife. Good Friday is the darkest day in the Christian calendar. We light candles in memoriam. The only “good” thing about Good Friday as that we know the rest of the story. We know that death is not permanent and that, in a couple days, there will be life. 

 I was driving through our neighborhood this week and passed a small, brick church with a sign out front. It simply read “Waiting For New Life.” Eric and I are enduring our own Lenten season of waiting. The hours turn into days, the days into weeks, and suddenly our wait has swelled to a year and a half. It’s hard to dream, imagine or hope at this point. We don't know the rest of our story. We are stuck somewhere between Good Friday and Easter: we have grieved a death and are awaiting new life. 

A few months after my Easter proposal, Eric and I exchanged vows. A sweet friend of mine has reminded me of something recently: There is no asterisk attached to marital vows. “In sickness and in health*" (* but only if we conceive a child). “Till death parts us*" (*Or until the Dr. confirms that we are infertile). No. We took vows to be man and wife NO MATTER WHAT. That IS a story to which we know the ending. I do have hope because God granted me the desires of my heart that day;  he gave me my husband. My cup runneth over.  

Post Script:
A.D. (Anno Domini) doesn’t really stand for After Death like most people (myself included!) think. I just thought it was a quirky blog title. It translates as “in the year of the Lord.” Which I guess fits, too. My life, in the year of the Lord.