So, an update on our lives: we’ve been to Arizona and California for the holidays, which was fun but perhaps a bit too long of a trip.

By the end of it (three weeks in all), I’d packed and unpacked so many times (because there were actually four trips in one) that I couldn’t even find a pair of underwear, clean or otherwise, to save my life. We decided that next time we need to a) stay only two weeks, and b) buy less stuff while we’re down there. When we packed the truck up for the final time, we were shocked and amazed to see that all of our crap filled up the entire bed of the truck plus the majority of the backseat. At this rate we’ll never be able to have a second child simply because there won’t be room for her.

It’s also not very eco-friendly or minimalistic of us to acquire so much stuff. So there’s another reason to avoid it.

While we were gone our contractor friend renovated our kitchen for us. It’s a mess right now and not completely finished yet, but I will endeavour to post photos shortly. We didn’t make a lot of changes, but the ones we did were very worthwhile: subway tile backsplash, new deep granite-looking sink, changed a nasty over-the-range hood for a shiny new microwave, and replaced old formica countertop with a more updated one. (In my dream world I would’ve gone with butcher block, but the entire point of this was to get our house updated enough to sell, and butcher block is not for everyone, so we decided against spending the money on it at this point.)

Oh, did you catch that? We want to sell our house! In fact, it’s an official goal of the Fairbanks family in 2015: Sell our house. A sub-goal is to have it listed (privately at first and then with a realtor if necessary) by February 1st.

We have tossed this idea around for several years, and finally we have made enough updates and improvements to feel like it might actually have a chance of selling. Now that we’ve officially committed ourselves to the cause, we can basically talk of nothing else. Our plan is to sell the house, move to the nearby bigger city (about 30 minutes away from Mayberry here), and rent for awhile, saving the equity from the (hopeful) sale of the house to buy a small (super-small) fixer upper with (again, hopefully) nothing but cash. It will take time and patience to find the house of our debt-free dreams, but we are willing to wait. As my Grandpa Leavitt used to say: there’s a deal a day.

So that’s our plan for 2015. Other than that, it’s business as usual: Hutch is a tiny little destructor, gleefully tearing things apart wherever he goes. I do my best (and usually fail miserably) to follow behind him and pick up the pieces. Poor Kyle is working where he’s always worked, I’m working where I’ve always worked, it’s snowy as all get-out here in Mayberry, and all is right in the world.

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I have a one year-old

Here is what I wrote in my journal around this time exactly one year ago:

Thursday 8 August, 2014

I feel like this day has passed in ultra-slow motion. It is the day before literally the biggest day of my life and it was so…mundane. 

I didn’t sleep well. I got up around 8:30 and made breakfast (english muffin, egg, canadian bacon, avocado, tomatoes, orange juice). I went on a walk to the post office, the  bank, the pharmacy, and back home. I showered. I went to town with my friend and her 3 children. I came home. I made a salad for lunch. I ate it. Linda came by to deliver some blankets she made for the baby. I sold some burlap to a lady on Mayberry Swap and Buy. I laid down for a few minutes. Kyle came home. We cooked dinner (ribs and jalapeño poppers, green beans, tomato mozza salad, grapes). Ate dinner while watching a few shows. Then did a couple of chores around the house (rearranging furniture). Tatum and Janelle came by with a hospital care package and had a little chat. I cried. I called my grandma back (she called earlier today) and had a nice little visit with her. 

And now I’m sitting here in the living room trying not to freak out about the fact that tomorrow I’m going to have a baby. 

But it’s no use. I’m freaking out.


And fifteen hours later I did have that baby.

Newborn Hutch(Some people don’t like this picture because it shows the blood associated with childbirth. I like it because a) it is real, and b) sometimes when Hutch cries even now, with his eyes swollen and his face so red and sad, he looks exactly like this. Not that I like to see my baby sad, but it’s fascinating that despite all the ways he’s changed, he’s still so much the same as the day he popped out of my nether regions, all 10 pounds 2 ounces of him.)

And one year later we are all still alive. I almost can’t believe it.

This year has been a whirlwind of extremes—sorrows and joys, fears and thrills—and yet I know we haven’t even come close to experiencing all the highs and lows that parenthood has in store for us.

Every night at the end of my prayers I say the same thing:

Thank You for sending us this sweet boy who is such a blessing and a joy in our lives. Please bless that he can continue to grow healthy and strong. Please bless that we can remember to be patient with him, and that we can make good choices for him until he is able to make good choices for himself. (And please help him make them—good choices, that is—when the time comes.)

Hutch 11 MonthsAnd most of all please bless him not to die.


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Paris the Ninth: Versailles and Class’s end

Was going through the drafts in my draft box and found this. No time like the present to post three year-old photos! Except perhaps three years ago.


This is an update of the amazing trip I took to Europe last summer three summers ago. Slowly but surely I’m posting about every day I spent on that excellent continent. To read earlier updates, click herehereherehereherehereherehere and here. And here. And here and here and here and here and here.



My favourite thing to do in foreign countries is ride the city bus and get off at any stop that looks interesting, then walk around until my feet are sore and hop back on the bus. I did that this day and discovered Canal St. Martin, a darling little area with street performers and picnickers and bridges at regular intervals. I walked down the canal way too far going one direction because every time I thought I’d turn around I’d see another lovely shop or vista that I had to investigate. It took me like two hours to get back and by the time I did the buses weren’t running as frequently so I was quite late getting home. But I didn’t get mugged, so the day was a success.


The steps of Versailles. As a preadolescent my mom bought me a series of books about prominent girls in history, written from their own (fictional) perspectives, and my favourite was about Marie Antoinette. Knowing very little about French history at that point, all I took away from the book was how wrongly she’d been treated. Of course there was more to it than that, but her story stuck with me anyway. I felt she was my own personal famous friend. So going to Versailles was a huge accomplishment for me, a goal I’d set years before that I never really expected to achieve.

However, when push came to shove, I had already spent my allotted budget for the day and tickets to see inside the actual palace were too expensive for me. Plus we only had two hours there and I really wanted to explore the gardens. So I did, and although I do feel bad that I didn’t see either the palace interior or Petit Trianon, I know now that if I set a goal to get back there someday I will. So all is not lost.


While we were there a terribly ominous storm rolled in and we got poured on. Luckily I had my umbrella I purchased the day we got poured on in Chartres, and I ended up sharing it with a middle-aged mom and her teenage daughter. They were from Texas and the girl was probably the most stereotypically whiny American teenager I’ve ever met in real life. She was miserable, her cell phone didn’t work, why did they have to come to this stupid garden anyway. I wanted to shake her but instead I bit my tongue and thought, “Someday you will regret this.”

She probably won’t but it made me feel better.





While I was waiting to meet up with the rest of the group to head back to the train station, I spotted this slug on a bush. It struck me as the most profound analogy for life: there I was at Versailles, a palace and estate legendary in its meticulous opulence, where the groundskeepers were literally walking around with cardboard cut-outs and scissors trimming each bush by hand to uniform size and shape, yet even they could not outwit the slugs.

Oh well.

Our crappy hotel was in a region of Paris far far away from all the historical parts of Paris. It was called La Defense, so named after this square tower. Many years ago when I nannied for a French family, the father of my charge told me as we drove past La Defense from a distance that he used to work in an office in that building. When I actually walked up to it and was able to see it in detail I became slightly less bitter about the horrible location of our lodging. I mean, look at it: it’s pretty neat.



But all the cool architecture in the world couldn’t make up for the blisters I got from having to walk substantially more than we would have if we’d stayed somewhere closer to the hot spots.

Three years and I’m still not fully over it.

Oh well.

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Routine, or The Days of Our Lives

I’m three weeks into being back at work and I am finally getting into a groove. Most of the time our days look something like this:

Hutch in the AM

5:30-6:00—Hutch wakes up crying in the next room over. In the morning he always wakes up crying, never babbling happily. (Or maybe he does babble happily for awhile and only cries when we don’t come for him… All I know is I am dead to the world until I hear those tiny desperate shrieks, and then my day begins.)

Hutch Destroys Blinds5:31—Kyle or I get Hutch, change his diaper, get him a bottle, and bring him back to bed with us where he proceeds to maul our faces or the blinds for the next hour, punctuated in nine-minute intervals by the sound of Kyle’s alarm. Kyle snoozes his alarm seven or eight times before he finally gets up in the morning. I hate it. It’s the worst part of my day. If things ever don’t work out between the two of us I can guarantee the couple’s therapist will pinpoint Kyle’s absurdly long wake-up routine and my inability to cope with it as the main cause for our marital troubles.

Hutch and Mom in the AM6:30—As a confirmed non-morning person, I was depressed to realize that my day really does go better if I just get up at 6:30 and face the day. If I buck up and do this, Hutch is usually tired out and ready for a nap by 9:00. If I don’t and instead fight with Hutch to go back to sleep until 9:00, naptime doesn’t come until 1 and then lasts so long he doesn’t get tired again at night until like 8 or 9 and it takes close to an hour to get him to bed, and the day is just completely buggered. The grown up thing to do is to get up at 6:30. I’m working on growing up.

7:30—Poor Kyle leaves for work, and I use his goodbye kiss as the real start of my day. He leaves and I finally get out of bed officially, though I’ve been awake at this point for over an hour.

Hutch and Sippy Cup7:30-9:00—Get up. Feed Hutch, usually some sort of chopped up fruit plus a little yogurt and/or oatmeal. Have for breakfast whatever food he didn’t want. Let him wander through the house destroying things while I try to get some work done. Give up on that and give my son some attention: read books, go on a walk, twice we’ve even had a dance party like what the good moms blog/brag (brog?) about doing and he looked at me half like I was crazy and half like I was the greatest and best person he’d ever seen. (My song of choice was “Bad Girls” by M.I.A., inspired by a recent marathon viewing of The Mindy Project. Which you should watch so it doesn’t get cancelled.)

Hutch at Naptime9:00—Give Hutch anther bottle and then lie down next to him in our bed. For some reason when he naps in his crib he inevitably wakes up crying after 20-40 minutes, never to nap again, but when he has a nap in our bed it lasts for 2-3 hours. And if I nap with him the whole time it can last up to four hours. (I’ve done it. Don’t think I haven’t.)



11:00—Hutch wakes up, happily babbling this time if he’s slept long enough, crying if he hasn’t. If he’s still cranky I lie down with him and he usually falls right back to sleep. If he’s babbling happily I usually go in to find him already on his hands and knees waiting for me to rescue him from the edge of the bed. We have lunch together, usually punctuated by demanding yelps on his part because I can never seem to think of anything healthy to feed him quickly enough. I need a better system for that.

Hutch and Mom at Desk2Early Afternoon: If I’ve gotten enough done in the morning we will have the afternoon to play, run errands, etc. This time of day is hard because he’s not quite old enough to be entertained for long by toys or books or much of anything. The only thing he is guaranteed to love for more than 10 minutes at a time is a walk, which can be exhausting for me. I mean I would probably love walks too if I was being pushed around in a carriage with shocks beefy no-flat tires and a full UVA/UVB-blocking sun shade, but we can’t all be His Majesty the King.

3:00 or 4:00—If I play my cards right and don’t let Hutch fall asleep on our walk or drive (if we happen to walk or drive anywhere), he is usually ready for another 2-hour nap around this time. If my work is done I use this break to pee uninterrupted and start prepping dinner or doing laundry. Sometimes I also just eat a bowl of ice cream and zone out on Instagram. No shame in that.

5:00—Hutch wakes up. I don’t know if it’s because he’s felt neglected all day or just because he’s sick of my face, but for whatever reason this is when he starts becoming whiny and demanding. It’s also when I become very excited for Poor Kyle to get home.

5:45—Poor Kyle gets home. Both Hutch and I are glad to see him. The boys play. I pee again.


6:30—Dinner clean up, Kyle bonds with Hutch, I read or do more chores.

7:30—Bedtime routine begins. For awhile we would take turns giving Hutch a bath and bottling/putting him to bed, but as of late we’ve gotten into a pretty steady routine of Kyle doing bath time and I doing bedtime. Kyle is more fun to have as a bath-giver, and I am more patient to have as a bed-putter when I haven’t just spent the last 20 minutes being splashed in the face by an energetic toddler. Plus if Kyle is the one to put Hutch down I often hear the two giggling away in the nursery when Hutch is supposed to be winding down—I think Kyle just can’t resist those tiny little giggles, and I can’t blame him because he doesn’t get to hear them any time throughout the day like I do. So it’s good. While Kyle is bathing Hutch and getting him jammied, I spend 30 minutes or so outside watering my flowers and my vegetable garden. It’s probably my favourite time of evening, when the sun is lowering and I can enjoy the fruits of my labour. Sometimes if Kyle is done before I am he brings Hutch outside, freshly bathed and so happy to be outside, and we visit while I finish my work. I love that.

8:00—I get Hutch’s last bottle ready. (I don’t know what we are going to do when he stops having formula next month! Do we still do bottles but just with milk or do we switch to sippy cups altogether? I don’t know how I’ll get him to sleep without a bottle. I mean it’s happened before but it’s rare.) I rock him in his nursery with the blinds shut and lights out. He chugs away happily while I say prayers and then sing my favourite songs for him: “By Oh By Baby” and “Guess How Much I Love You, Hutch,” (a cpsf original composition). If it’s a good day he knocks off before the bottle is even finished. If it’s a bad day he finishes his bottle and tries to escape my lap and explore some more. Either way we usually come to an agreement and he falls alseep by around 8:30. I give him 100 rocks in the glider from the time his eyes shut until I put him in his crib.

8:30-11:00—Free time! Unless Hutch wakes up (which is becoming more rare but I never let my guard down—when you let your guard down is when they get you. Toddlers can sense parental confidence and will crush it).

11:00—Bed time.

And it starts all over again in 6 hours.

For one of those people who seriously needs—needs—eight hours of sleep in life, I feel I’m coping surprisingly well.

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Static Progress/Progressive Stasis, or What’s been happening with me

I decided not long ago that I need to stop stressing about writing beautifully and start worrying about simply writing. And writing simply. So today I wanted to get back to the basics of this blog and share a bit about what’s happening with me.


Hutch's First Canada Day

At 11 months old Hutch got to experience his very first July 1st, aka Canada Day, aka the Pride of Mayberry. Every July 1st our whole town triples in size from all the family reunions that are scheduled, and there are three full days of festivities and merriment. This year Hutch got to experience his first pancake breakfast, his first Canada Day parade, his first family reunion, his first dirt bike ride, his first kernel of popcorn, his first firework show, and his first mosquito bite (of many). He did not get to experience his first 2k, 5k, or 10k, nor did he get to revel in the joy of the rodeo or motocross. His parents are mean I suppose.

Hutch's first dirt bike ride

I made him wear this vintage (judging from the polyester fabric, the cut of the overalls, and the retro font on the shirt, I’m guessing 70’s-era) outfit that I’d bought nearly a year before, back when he was still in the womb. I found it in a pile of clothes at a yard sale and would never have paid cash money for it but the seller threw it in with everything else. I thought he looked adorable and hilarious. Poor Kyle thought he looked absurd. He wouldn’t let me keep Hutch in it all day, so all I have are a few quickly snapped photos, but it was worth it. It’s probably even worth keeping for the next several years so that any other children that might come our way can carry on the tradition.


On July 2nd my year-long maternity leave ended and I started back to work. (No, Hutch has not turned one year old yet. I actually took a month off before his due date to get things ready around the house because it turns out an 8-month pregnant woman working full time in the heat of summer has very little energy to nest, despite her best intentions.)

My boss has been amazing and agreed to let me work 1/2 the time I used to work, and from home. When I tell people this they usually express extreme awe and happiness for me. I usually agree—it’s very good fortune to have such a flexible company and boss to work for. Getting into a routine and learning to balance Hutch’s demands with my job’s demands has been stressful, but I can’t deny it has been nice to have creative projects on my mind again.

I’m still having tech issues with working from home, the main one being that my internet is pretty slow. As my job is 90% internet-based, this has become extremely problematic for me. Kyle and I are discussing switching providers and upgrading to the fastest package—to the tune of almost $200/month—but the main deterrent is that, well, it will be almost $200/month. Absurd, I know.

A friend and I were discussing this not long ago and we both agree that free, fast internet should be an inalienable right. Everyone should have it, everywhere, always. #dreamworld

In other news, I started hashtagging my own blog posts. #weird #orcool #youchoose

As the end of my maternity leave drew near, I found myself reflecting on the past year, mainly in the sense of all the regrets I have. I did not accomplish as much professionally, economically, creatively, or house-designally as I had planned to back in July of 2013. Back then, before Hutch was born, I expected maternity leave to be like a year’s paid vacation. I had visions of myself working out, taking walks, juicing veggies on a regular basis, sitting in my pristine house and cuddling my baby for exactly 11 months. In addition to that, I also planned on writing triple the amount I’d been writing on this blog, submitting work to be published, finishing my manuscript for my book, starting a garden, and learning Cantonese.

As it turns out the only major things I actually accomplished over the past 12 months were visiting Arizona three times with my baby, and keeping said baby alive.

It’s disappointing to fall so very short of one’s own expectations, but I’m getting so good at it that pretty soon I will come to expect such failure of myself, which will be perfect because, as a chronic failer-of-expectations, I will fail to meet even that newly lowered expectation, and the only way to fail at failing will be to achieve greatness once and for all—at last. Meaning, of course, that I will have passed through the entire spectrum of failure and emerged the other side victorious. And successful.

That’s the idea anyway.


In more other news, Hutch has officially become a whirlwind of destruction:

Hutch Whirlwind#lilshit

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On Hutch at ten months

Hutch is so much like a tiny little puppy that I’ve actually taken to calling him Puppy as a nickname. He bounces (the human equivalent to a wagging tail) when he’s excited (which is often), he pants and drools and gives the most ridiculously slobbery kisses. He follows me around on his hands and knees and begs for food, and when none is readily available he’s perfectly happy to eat fallen pieces of Cheerios off the floor under his high chair. His fuzzy little head is excruciatingly pettable and he loves having the spot behind his ears scratched. Also, he’s been known to play in toilet bowls (though he hasn’t sunk so low as to lap water from one yet).

Hutch and Punkinhead 10 months

The two things Hutch loves most in this world are his parents and toilet paper rolls—specifically unravelling them. We’ve taken to closing the bathroom doors when we’re not in them (see above re: toilet bowl antics), but on the rare occasion that he finds one open, he crawls to it at the speed of a very fast infant, positions himself on his haunches directly beneath the toilet paper roll, and tugs at it gleefully until it’s either completely unravelled (at which point he begins the daunting but obviously necessary task of eating it all), or one of us whisks him away, whichever comes first.

He is almost equally obsessed with the shiny stainless steel interior of the dishwasher door, the sound of which opening can draw him from literally any room in the house within fifteen seconds. It also makes doing dishes sort of cumbersome.

When I need a few minutes to get chores done without my little puppy underfoot, I start a load of laundry in the washer. Yesterday I did this and Hutch crawled up to it, settled in a few inches away from it, and sat transfixed for twenty minutes. When I checked on him about five minutes into the show, I saw he’d picked up a Cheerio from off the floor and was munching on it mindlessly, never taking his eyes off the spinning waterworks before him.

Not related: how do Cheerios travel so far in such a small space of time? I start most mornings by sweeping or vacuuming the house in anticipation of Hutch’s daily rounds, and by 10 a.m. I can usually find a Cheerio on the floor in nearly every room of our house. I will pay the researcher who can study and identify the cause of this phenomenon. (Payment made in tweets. Or pips.)

Hutch grinds his eight teeth (four on top and four on bottom) any time he doesn’t have a soother in his mouth for more than a few minutes, like he’s still kind of in awe of those sharp protrusions in his mouth. The noise is maddening but the face is adorable.

Hutch's Scrunchy Face

In the morning when Poor Kyle’s alarm wakes Hutch up at 5:50 a.m. (which it almost always does), I or Poor Kyle bring our sad and sleepy baby into bed to (with any luck) catch another few hours of sleep before the day begins. When this works, the heavens rejoice. When it fails, my day is ruined. I love my baby but I love him more when he lets me sleep. Sensing this, and knowing he’s on thin ice, Hutch bumbles adorably around the bed, four-by-fouring over pillows and blankets and parental limbs until he finally reaches his ultimate goal: the blinds shading the window above our bed.

He stands there, propped against the wall, flicking the blinds’ lowest slats contentedly for about ten minutes until one of us finally wakes up enough to realize the mayhem he’s causing. We lay him back down and it starts all over again. When he’s bored of that game he stops, looks between the two of us, and chooses which of our heads to maul until we fully wake up and give him the attention he deserves.

He almost always chooses mine.

Hutch and Me 10 months

When his dad comes home from work and tiptoes around the corner of whatever room Hutch is in to peekaboo hello, Hutch grins and squeals like he’s been given the greatest gift imaginable (a lifetime supply of toilet paper rolls is my guess). He then proceeds to crawl his little pigeon-handed monkey crawl as fast as he can to the outstretched arms of Poor Kyle.

Bouncing ensues.

Hutch and Poor Kyle on Train

Sometimes people ask me if I remember what life was like before I had this baby. I do—I remember well. I remember sleeping in lazily, waking to the sound of the cottonwood leaves rustling in the breeze outside our window. I remember luxurious showers not interrupted by tiny hands slowly inching the curtain over to reach in and grab the faucet. I remember Costco trips that took fifteen minutes, and when “in and out” was not a punchline but my reality.

I remember so many aspects of my life before this child, and while I didn’t set out to glorify parenthood—there’s enough of that on the internet to last us all our lifetimes—I can’t help but acknowledge how in the end, it actually is really very glorious.

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A Good Hurt

I keep hearing about mothers whose babies have died, and I feel heartcrushingly sad. I don’t know how I would deal with the loss of my son, and sometimes when I think about it—trying to prepare myself for the horrific worst—I become paralyzed. What if I lose him? What if he runs into the street chasing a frisbee and gets hit by a car and in a moment he’s gone? Or what if I get cancer and die next year, and he has to grow up without me? And if Kyle remarries, then what? I want Hutch to have a happy life but I also want him to hate his stepmom out of loyalty to me.

Baby Hutch 10 MonthsBut because I know this paranoia can become toxic if I let it, I tell myself to take deep breaths. Zen-like, I acknowledge that losing Hutch is a possibility but that it hasn’t happened yet, and that I ought not waste time worrying about it while I actually have him here with me, for however long it may be.

I hope it’s like 80 more years.

Hutchface 9 Months

Even still, I’m not always mature enough to drop it so easily. Sometimes I let the anger toward Hutch’s stepmother fester inside of me until I feel like punching a wall. Other times I feel the sorrow at the hypothetical loss of my son as though I’m the one being hit by the car instead of him. And of course I would take it gladly.


I think briefly of a boy I kind of dated a long time ago. I really liked him but one day he said to me, “Life is too sad. I don’t want to love anyone because everyone dies and all the people I love will leave me. It’s easier just to be alone.” I thought he was weird and depressing for thinking such things, but I know now it’s only because I’d never really loved someone that way.

And strangely enough, that moment became a defining point for me. Things didn’t work out between us, but I’m still glad I knew him because I will always have lived through that moment: that moment when I decided that I couldn’t—or wouldn’t—go through life so hopeless. I hated his outlook. I preferred to think of all the good that could come from letting people in, rather than dwelling on how much it would hurt when they’d eventually leave me.

Of course it’s harder now that I’m a little older and have actually known a love I’m terrified to lose. I can see where that boy was coming from. I get it.

It would have been so much easier to tell Kyle no, to walk away and leave him in Canada while I moved to New York and did something posh with my life. It would have been so much simpler if we had never created another little human to look after and protect and love. I would have never had to feel this preemptive pain, this agony of waiting and worrying. I could have been happy with my novels and my Netflix watch list and the occasional bike ride through Central Park. I might have died alone but at least my only sorrows would’ve been that Alias was cancelled and that I lost out on some promotion.

Hutch and Mom

But I didn’t come here to have it easy. I came here to grow and learn and improve myself and others. I want to leave this world better for my presence, not just flit through life making no impact on anyone, ever. I remind myself how discouraging I found that boy’s attitude all those years ago. I recall how jaded he seemed to me, and remember how I never wanted to feel like that.

Family Photo April 2014

I have found joy in this life! I have giggled with my baby boy until I thought we both might collapse under the sheer giddiness of it all. I have looked at my husband with love and respect and a mutual understanding I wasn’t sure I’d ever feel for anyone. And I’ve found joy in my own work, too—in the daily progress check on my garden, and the burn of a good downward dog, and the words that sometimes flow from my fingertips, and the way I can help people with my gifts and talents.

My life is not perfect, but I love it so much it literally hurts sometimes.

It’s a good hurt, though, and if I lost it all tomorrow at least I had it once.

Posted in awesome., family, hutchface, Married Life, Poor Kyle, what I'm about | 4 Comments