the legend of the momma bear.

I know I have talked endlessly about mothering lately, but I find that it's all I'm interested in. My family, that is. This little growing thing that I'm co-caretaker of.

On July 4th, we had a long day, and a late dinner. Jake wouldn't go to bed, and so I brought him out of our shared room to sit with me while I ate. Eating with Jake on my lap is not an easy feat as he reaches out to grab most things, or tries to wiggle to the ground. We had balloons on the picnic table, to celebrate Kyndra's birthday. TJ took Jake off of my lap and set him between us on the bench. I started to eat, and Jake reached out to grab a balloon, losing his balance and falling to the ground below. It all happened so quickly, but he hit the bottom of his skull on the bench as he went down, thankfully landing on his bottom.

The worst sound in the world is the heart-wrenching scream of a child in pain. For a mother, it immediately pulls at the gut.

He screamed right away and didn't stop screaming for 30 minutes, even after a dose of infant Tylenol and endless consolation from TJ, me, and my dad, as well as a priesthood blessing. TJ was a mess, blaming himself for setting him on the bench, and I was a mess trying to contain my own emotion to focus on helping Jake. Finally, when the screaming didn't stop and Jake threw up a lot, we rushed to the car and off to the emergency room.

After I shakily checked him in, we were taken right back to triage. My exhausted boy had tried to fall asleep in the car on the way, but in our nervousness about a possible concussion, we had kept him awake. By the time we got settled into our room and Jake was checked by the triage nurse, he was wide-awake and happy. After a few minutes of waiting, the doctor came in to check him. After a thorough examination, he declared that Jake was just fine, but that since he had vomited, we would need to stay for a CT scan. I wanted to be sure everything was alright, but I was disappointed we would have to go through the CT scan.

We waited around for probably about 15 minutes before the x-ray technician came to get Jake. He was an older man, probably in his late 50s, and told us that we would need to wait for a nurse to come and restrain Jake. He described it as "the burrito," which didn't sound all that bad.

How wrong we were.

Another few minutes of waiting, and a male nurse came to our room and had to have the restraint described to him by the technician. He then went off to find another nurse, who presumably knew what she was doing. Both nurses returned with an orange, rubber-looking pillow. They placed Jake on the device (which was actually a stint for broken limbs), and began using a pump to suck out the air. The "pillow" hardened around Jake as I held it close to his face, and little foam beads could be seen through the rubber material. I talked comfortingly to Jake as he started to get a little worried, with his body being cocooned in plastic. TJ and the technician observed, and when the air was gone, the technician declared, "No, that's not right. You need to find Emily. She knows how to do it. He has to be completely immobile."

The nurses decided to persevere on their own with some duct tape, meanwhile, Jake became increasingly vocal and began screaming and turning bright red with anger, fear, and frustration. I tried to stay at his head, but as his screams increased, my own emotions took over.

I was angry. 

The rational part of my brain told me that these people were only doing their job; they were only trying to help. However, this highly irrational and very instinctual part of me was louder. I could barely contain tears of anger that they were causing my baby to scream and to be afraid. Seeing the look on my face, and hearing my muttered disapproval, TJ sent me out of the room. As I sat on a chair, clenching my fists, the tears spilled over. Probably a minute later, the infamous Emily rushed into our room and firmly shut the door behind her with one look at my face.

Since I was no longer in the room, TJ related the next portion to me. He said that Emily came in and reprimanded the other nurses, quickly directing them in what to do. A minute later, they exited, with TJ carrying the stiff "burrito" that was our now-whimpering son. I jumped up, grabbed our things and went to follow him as one of the original nurses said, "You know, it's OK to cry when your baby cries."

I wanted to sneer at her comment since she didn't know the real reason for my tears, so I simply nodded and followed the technician to the other side of the clinic and into the CT scan room. He asked which of us wanted to stay with Jake, and I stepped forward. He wrapped me in a lead-lined shield, and then went to the adjoining room with TJ. Jake laid very still, whimpering as the machine moved and whirred. In a shaky voice, I sang to him: I am a Child of God. He remained still throughout the scan, and started whining as soon as it was over. I hastily removed my shield and handed it to the tech, as TJ unwrapped our little boy. I picked him up, his body as wet with sweat as if I had picked him up out of the bath, and bright red. I carried him back to our room, then handed him over to TJ. We turned off the lights, and Jake fell asleep as we awaited the results of the scan.

Thankfully, the results came back normal and we were on our way after talking to the insurance woman and the nurse. We went back to the cabin for brownies and bedtime, and spent the night waking Jake up every two hours, as instructed.

If I ever doubted the legendary momma bear instincts before, those doubts have been laid to rest.

what I really needed was the mountains.

There is almost nothing better in this world than curling up with a good book on the porch at the Cabin, with the rain falling in a summer monsoon. At least, that's what I thought until I got married and had a family. Now, there's nothing better than doing exactly that, but falling asleep spooning with TJ, stealing an afternoon nap while Jake naps. Now that is the life.

Around the tail-end of winter, with its slushy drudgery and bone-chilling wind, I get an itch. And for the past few years, that itch has been scratched by a trip to the beach. I began to believe the beach was my haven. I know that that wide, wide ocean and salty, damp air will always call my name, but this year, my soul needed something different. Especially since our trip to the beach didn't exactly go according to plan.

Actually, because the beach trip was such a stressful time that I began to look forward to and plan for the cabin. My plans involved doing a lot of nothing. I yearned for some down time, and I knew the cabin would provide that.

I was not disappointed.

The cabin dots its way through my childhood with idyllic memories of romps in "the meadow," scary stories in "the bunk room," and always, always viewings of Home Alone and its sequels by Grandpa. The cabin was always full of family and adventures, from bike rides at Woodland Lake to pretending the propane tank behind the cabin was a horse. Over the years, the cabin has changed a little here and there, as well as some of the favorite activities, but it has always been the perfect escape. Situated between neighbors in Arizona's White Mountains, the cabin has remained a constant in the Burgess family since my grandparents built it in the 1960s.

This trip was filled with much of the same. We made the trek to the Country Store for glass-bottled sodas, which was much shorter than I remembered from my childhood. We (TJ and Skylar) played horseshoes, while Jake watched from the porch. We grilled and ate good food. On Kyndra's birthday, we went out to lunch at a local cafe and were pleasantly surprised by the good meal. We watched summer storms from the comfort of the porch, and enjoyed a lack of digital service on our phones (at least, I did). We rode the go-karts at the track in Show Low. My parents, TJ, Skylar, and I did sealings at the nearby Snowflake Temple. Jake enjoyed crawling everywhere and being the center of attention. I reveled in the lack of schedule and spending time with people I loved, sharing a space that meant so much. Grandpa re-told the stories I've heard many times before, but somehow still manage to learn something new each time. This time: love, hard work, and a strict budget make marriage beautiful.

I enjoyed using my replacement birthday lens and documenting our trip with my nicer camera. The only thing missing was Sheldon. Although, I definitely could have done without the trip to the emergency room, but that is another tale that deserves the spotlight of a separate post.

why shame?

A couple weeks ago, one of my old professors came into my office.

I was genuinely happy to see her. Although the subject matter of her class had not been my favorite (assessments), she was one of my favorite professors. She, with her olive-freckled skin, corkscrew black curls, and infectious smile, made my day that much brighter. We chatted for a bit. I updated her on my life and she updated me on hers. She had just returned from a principalship in L.A. Los Angeles! Notoriously one of the tougher school districts in the country, I was duly impressed.

For some reason, when I run into these old professors (which occurs with some frequency here in a small town and with me working at the same university), I feel a little anxious. I feel a twinge in my stomach when I explain why I'm working in an office instead of a classroom, why I'm excited for my husband to graduate. I feel...ashamed, almost, and I find myself twisting my plans a little for their benefit.

"When he graduates, I'll stay at home, for a little bit."
"I started here right after graduation, to put TJ through school."

Shawn (we always called her by her first name), smiled that smile and said "They grow so fast." Her response bolstered me, and we said a happy "See you around."

But now I'm full of thoughts. Why the shame? Why do I feel the need to skirt around my life plans for their benefit?

I suppose I don't want to disappoint them. I don't want them to think I've fallen short of my potential, or I wasted my time with them. Of course this is probably silly; they are teachers (who happen to teach education) and they know their influence wasn't for naught. Still, I wonder what they do think. I had a professor make a snarky comment about marriage when he found out I was married already (so was he). I was the only married person in my cohort and I'm now the only one with a child (that I know of). I just feel like my goals and my drive was always different, even if I don't feel they are any less valuable or worthwhile.

It's amazing how differently conversations with old institute teachers goes.

the mother in me.

I haven't posted anything in a while, but I've started so many drafts. This one I started after Mother's Day, but I have more thoughts and feelings to add. 

On Mother's Day, my child was a nightmare. He screamed and whined and fussed for most of the day. Teething? Uncomfortable from the heat of the valley where we were visiting? We may never know, but to be quite frank it was not our best day. There were a couple of respites in the form of naps, and about an hour and a half of happy time, but in was not exactly how I pictured my first official Mother's Day with a child.

There are so many times when I doubt my abilities as a mother. I suppose part of it comes with the job, but I believe the world is also a huge influence on this. I feel like I am being tugged in multiple directions at once, my attention gobbled up by one thing or another. One article online says this, while a friend on Facebook says that. Jake's pediatrician says one thing, but sometimes I do the opposite. Mothers are constantly judged, criticized, and gossiped about for their parenting decisions. And it's exhausting quite frankly. Overwhelming. Annoying. I feel like I have to post a disclaimer with every suggestion I offer to another mother, or with every decision I make.

With such a wealth...even an overabundance of information so easily accessible, I've found it difficult to rely on my own instincts. Often, I am left feeling frustrated and confused when I encounter an issue with raising all aspects of his life. I had a little revelation a while ago, and now I'm trying to figure out how to live by it: I am not alone in this. I know this should be obvious, but for wasn't. When talking with my mom about whether or not to take Jake to the doctor for some ailment, she asked me, "Well how do you feel about it? What does your gut tell you?" And I realized: I have maternal instincts; the key is listening to them. And then I realized: I have the gift of the Holy Ghost. My Heavenly Parents are there to guide and direct me--I just have to ask. I different would my outlook be if I turned inward and heavenward instead of to yet another online article? Or even to a well-meaning friend or relative? How different might my whole life be if I did this more? Quite the revelation to my little heart.

*** * ***

I've been reading a book, aptly titled The Mother in Me (and the inspiration for this post). I was raised to think that books were not a thing to be marked in, aside from scriptures. However, when I have it handy, I've been highlighting meaningful passages left and right. It speaks to me: heart, mind, and spirit. This book is a collection of essays and poetry about motherhood, but it is so much more. I've never felt so inspired as a mom, or more inspired to record these moments of motherhood.

"Indeed, the significant moments of my life have one core: my children, their father, our home, and the covenants we've made which will keep us together until the end of time. These moments are etched indelibly on my soul [...] ponder those significant moments etched into your souls--and consider recording them. We cannot get those moments back, but we can hold onto them with words, making them as eternal as the relationships we so cherish." -Beverly Campbell, Foreword, The Mother in Me

Ponds go to Cali.

TJ and I loooove Southern California, especially San Diego. After going for our anniversary last year, we decided we should try to go every year. We also decided it would be fun to invite my family to go with us. Well, we started planning a few months ago. We chose Memorial Day weekend, because I would only have to use vacation time for one day, and it was right after Kyndra's high school graduation.

I don't mean to sound dramatic, but it was doomed from the start.

First, I had something come up last minute at work. It was partially my fault and might have been avoided, but partially not. Basically, I felt like I was in a dream trying to get it done and not being able to. Things kept going wrong, and we ended up leaving two hours later than planned. Kyndra's graduation was at 7, so we would still be able to make it, but we'd miss dinner at Red Robin.

Strike 1: We love Red Robin and we don't have one in town. TJ was very bummed about missing out.

So we're on our merry, already stressed-out way, and we realize something after driving for about 45 minutes. We forgot the backpack that included my nice camera, TJ's brand-new video camera that I got him for his birthday and he'd been looking forward to using on the trip, and TJ's laptop which we were going to use to watch Netflix in the hotel room since hotels don't have DVD players.

Strike 2: TJ loves watching movies and was really looking forward to relaxing together, plus Kyndra wanted my nice camera to be used at her graduation.

We debated (and I'll be honest, argued) about whether or not it was worth it to go back. We ended up starting back, and then realizing we'd completely miss the graduation if we did. 

Strike 3: As it turns out, we were about 45 minutes late to the graduation. But we did see her walk! Also, whyyyyy  does a high school graduation need to be two hours long? 

Add to all of this that Jake hates long drives in the car so he screamed for a good portion of the drive, we were stressed to the max, and partly just wanted to go home and call it quits. But, it was important for us to be there, so we went on. We finally made it there and were glad we did. 

I was bummed we didn't get to visit more, but we were glad we got to see Grandpa Hassell for a bit. He is so good with babies, and even took Jake for a walk in the morning so we could get ready to head to California.

We were finally on our way and things were going as well as could be expected. We'd driven about 4 hours, I think, with only one stop, when our GPS decided to take us through a small city called Palm Desert. It seemed to be a nice area, and we were "enjoying" the drive when we came upon some traffic. We were coming up to a stoplight, going maybe 5 miles an hour, when TJ looked down to pick something that had dropped on his shirt. The truck in front of us suddenly came to a full stop....and we did not. Our stomachs sank and we pulled off the road into a parking lot. They guy's truck thankfully had no damage, since we had hit his hitch. Our car on the other hand....see the picture toward the bottom of this post. Well, Dad and TJ pulled out the metal piece that bent, and then wired the bumper back on. The metal piece put a hole in what we thought was the radiator, so they ran a sealant through the system and we headed to a gas station to fill up. After that short drive, we realized it wasn't the radiator, but part of the A/C system and the Freon had all leaked out. So, we put Jake in my parents' car, and I went with him while my sister and TJ drove the rest of the 2 hours to Oceanside with the windows down. Needless to say, we were at our wits' end, so we decided to cool off...physically and the hotel pool ASAP. It also happened to be Jake's first swim, and he didn't hate it.

On Friday evening, we went and found a Hawaiian grill (which was semi-disappointing and nowhere near as good as our local one) and then went to Target to get a few forgotten items. I don't know what I'll do when we go on vacation somewhere without a Target. Perhaps by the time that happens, I will be a master-packer who never forgets anything.

Saturday morning began with a light breakfast at our hotel, and then a stop at the beach on our way down the coast to Encinitas.  

My parents took their own little walk, and my dad wrote a message to my mom in the sand. Ah, young love. ;)

Encinitas is the coolest little surf town. I've spoken of my undying love for Swami's before. We have vowed never to visit SoCal without also visiting Swami's. This visit, we kept with the traditional acai bowl and a plate of multigrain banana walnut pancakes. Also, they put their syrup in a squeeze bottle which is pretty ingenious if you ask me. Also, please do not partake of the acai bowl if you are allergic to bee pollen.... my recommendation totally put a fellow blogger in urgent care.

Later on Saturday afternoon, we went back to the beach to actually get wet and play. Jake loved  it. He's definitely a water baby, even though it was freezing. He's also in love with his dad, not sure if I've mentioned that before. On Saturday night, we took recommendations to try out Hodad's down in Pacific Beach and we were not disappointed. Pictured toward the end of the post is my "mini" bacon hamburger with fries. We also found a cute little ice cream shop that served ice cream sandwiches in waffles. Yum.

On Sunday, after finding a random ward to attend for Sacrament Meeting, we took a drive down to La Jolla to see the temple. It is gorgeous as ever, in case you were wondering. I only wish we had had time to go inside and do some temple work. When we had taken as many pictures of the temple as we could, we drove the rest of the way to Old Town San Diego. We went to the Mormon Batallion Museum, but only my sister and parents did the tour because Jake fell asleep in his stroller. We also found this little Sheriff's Museum, which I thought was interesting enough, but TJ was absolutely fascinated. If he could be anything in the world, he would want to be a cop, and so the museum was a gold mine to him. I love going to new places with TJ because he is like a little kid with how excited he gets and how he wants to just explore everything.

Pictures can be deceptive, no? If I had simply posted all of these pictures, you might never know what went wrong (aside from the picture of our car). Looking at our smiling faces and sweet moments, you might be deceived into thinking we had the time of our lives. However, when I look at these, I can see those little moments of happiness, but I remember the knots of anxiety in my stomach that were there for most of the trip. I remember Jake screaming during almost every trip in the car. I remember TJ's frustration at bad situation after bad situation. I remember changing Jake's poopy diaper in a moving vehicle (please, hold your judgement). I remember feelings of acute disappointment and total frustration. I do remember the fun memories made, and I'm sure with time the less favorable facets of it will fade. I did learn a few life lessons:
1. A vacation with a baby is not a vacation, but rather, a trip.
2. If the GPS tries to take you through a city and off the interstate, ignore it.
3. Taking pictures is, at the heart, about the people and the memories, not the type of camera.