Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Wyatt and Me

One of the great gifts I have received in addition to a beautiful new daughter is a two week family leave provided by the church.  Although, truth be told, I'm not spending all that much time with Elise.  Sure, every once in a while I cradle her sleeping figure and press her against my chest - listening and watching her with joy immeasurable.  

Most of the time, though, I am on Wyatt patrol.  Wyatt and I are getting to hang out tons - shooting baskets, hitting baseballs, going for bike rides, drawing.  Even right now, he is using an old keyboard to type his own blog.  Woops.  He just left to go see his "baby i-ter" (he doesn't do so well with s's right now).  

Now, mind you, Wyatt has never been a very docile baby or child.  He has constantly been on the move (even when he was still in the womb).  But lately he has become even more kinetic, and we even more frenetic.  The "boy" in him is coming out more.  Yesterday he sprinted up and down the back patio for at least twenty minutes.  Today, I introduced imaginary wrestling using Curious George and Puff the Magic Dragon (two of Wyatt's stuffed animals), which was a big mistake.  He immediately took the slight opening for aggressive behavior and launched into wrestle mania.  He also doesn't understand why Elise cannot be attacked with the force and demolition of Godzilla.  

So, all that to say:  the best help I can provide right now is to give Anna space to attend to Elise and to give her a break from the ongoing onslaught that is our son.  I owe it to her.  It's the least I can do.  Wyatt, after all, takes after me.


Sunday, May 25, 2008

Home Birth 101

To those of you who didn't pick up on it from the pictures, Elise was born here at home.  No accident, mind you -- very much an intentional decision on our part.  We worked with a midwife out of Bloomington, IN, who attended the birth with her assistant.  For those of you parents who are familiar with Dr. Sears, our midwife was attending VBAC conferences with him in the seventies and has been practicing midwifery for over 20 years.  I was seeing her on a regular prenatal schedule, and each of those visits was scheduled for an hour long.  I was also able to email or call her at any time should I have any questions or concerns...on top of that, I was seeing my OB here in Owensboro (who still doesn't know I've had the baby!) as a "back-up" should anything problematic arise and I need to go to the hospital.  It was incredible to have both appointments to compare: I imagine you can take a pretty accurate guess as to the differences.  Overall, I was impressed by the midwife's knowledge, professionalism, non-anxious presence, and trust in my body as a pregnant mother.  On the other hand, I was irritated by a hospital system that viewed the entire process as a pending medical emergency that required professional intervention.  With each visit, both Wes and I felt more and more secure in our decision.  In the end, we had no regrets, and never questioned the midwife.  

Given the complexities of this delivery, I have suspicions that had I been in the hospital, the entire process would have looked very different and would have been exponentially more negative for me and our family (Don't get me wrong, it was a fairly straightforward labor and delivery, and I was still considered to be a low-risk patient - one of the first things the midwife determined before taking me on as a client).  I'll spare you all those details in such a public form, but would be happy to answer questions!

A few more details: Wyatt was here the entire time - something we wanted.  We did have someone come to take him out to the backyard to play during the last half hour or so.  The midwife and her assistant helped me to get settled after delivery and promptly had everything cleaned up and back to normal.  They headed home about an hour and a half after Elise was born.  It was great to be in our own home at that point, to not have to eat hospital food in an attempt at recovery, to not have nurses coming into my room every whip-stitch, for us all to be able to sleep in our own get the idea.  Were we to have any more children, we would most definitely repeat the decision to have the baby at home.  However, that's not on the agenda.  :)


Monday, May 19, 2008

Waiting for another

journal entry ... december 15, 2007:

Anna placed our son between us - underneath the flannel sheets, covered in warmth and radiating his own.  Two open eyes, wonder-filled and joyful, searched the room, the loud soft rustle of his head rolling on the pillow - gazing with frenzy the dullest grays made bright in my mind by wanting the absence of light.  He, the significant and alive:  so pleased to dwell between us, forcing his body upon his - one to another - testing the reality of goodness, stretching alive, wrestling the night, when all good boys should be sleeping.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

39 weeks...

...and we finally have something fun to look at in the kids' room!  I really wanted to get the painting finished before Little Two, and today was the day.  I must say, I think it looks pretty good for basically eye-balling everything.  I loved it with just blue and brown, but this whole having a girl thing kind of threw a kink in the initial idea.  The coral color is too bright for me, but given the late date of completion, I don't think I'll get around to changing it for a while.  Que sera, sera.  

Wyatt will be the only one enjoying the patterned wall for a while -- we're planning on having Little Two in the co-sleeper by our bed until some semblance of a sleeping pattern is established.  

Now we'll see how much of the landscaping we can tackle before you-know-who shows up...


Thursday, May 08, 2008

A Day in the Life of Charles Widmore

I wrote the following piece as a way to coax myself to sleep ... that it did not do, but it was fun to write.  It is, like all forms of art, partly me and partly my imagination.

A Day in the Life of Charles Widmore
by Wes Kendall

He sat in the lone place in the house that afforded some distance, as far as he could find away from domesticity while still residing in his home: a plush, artificial leather chair he insisted on keeping though it had long been forgotten by modern fashion. His wife insisted it was hideous, but she bore its presence with patience, knowing it held archaic, subconscious needs for Charles.

It was in that chair where he often ended his days – landing there in both triumph and defeat, as though his survival were victory. For arriving to that part of the day meant – at last – that something was reserved for him, a type of spiritual attic for his soul that had been refinished for his escape and salvation.

He let his head roll back the cushioned foam, feeling the texture as a way to root himself. Material and sensuality were his saving grace after long days of cerebral exercise. 

Charles, as one of the untold unknowns working to secure accounts and build profit, managed to fix himself to a great wheel that had spun and would spin through human history. Supply and demand, market forces: whatever it was, it was mostly devilish and brutal to any soul – like the medieval wheels that slowly, surely tore men from their own bodies.

For Charles, it was particularly cruel, repressing his once passionate soul beneath wave upon wave of figures and reports. Many days he was not at all sure that the computer he worked at for the majority of the day had not spread some virus through the keyboard into his body, eliminating most of his humanity. His work was a symbiosis of subtle death, a virus he was sure had been let in by his own fear. He began this career not knowing what else to do with his life; he only knew that college lay behind him and life’s hard knocks before him.

By the time Charles returned home from work, his mind taxed and his eyes worn dull by two twenty inch wide windows of digital information, he was the equivalent of a calculating brain, an awful thing, totally unlike the observing eye that Thoreau had proclaimed as the goal of true humanity.

Such a state - that is being all brain with a soul buried somewhere in its recesses – was, of course, a terrible condition to be in for any environment, but most of all for home. This was a fact that Charles realized almost every evening as he emerged out of his car, passed unobserving through his garage and into his house, where his wife and two children usually lay in waiting in a state of near emergency, needing significant attention.

At work the crisis was always something distant, or – otherwise – something in his mind, but it was always internal. At home, crisis became external, and it forced him into action in ways he was not prepared for. He always felt foolish and inept, dropping his bags by the door, shamefully slipping by his wife and kids with only half cognizance, hurriedly changing out of his suit and dress shoes into something moderately comfortable, then reemerging with hopes that his bedroom closet might serve like some phone booth to transform him into something other than who he was.

On his better days, Charles was able to do just that, morphing from calculating and decisive into sensual and playful – letting his son climb upon his back while tousling his daughter’s hair at the table. On his very best days, he even stood with his wife in the kitchen, helping her prepare the evening meal, talking through the day’s highlights, thumbing through the mail with vague interest. If he was lucky, there was no significant issue that would need to be resolved at dinner, no bill that needed explaining or reviewing, no issue with the children that would require his intervention.

On his worse days, Charles was nothing – a vague shadow in the house, a fact that only compounded his wife, Mary’s, own exhaustion from holding a house together. His lack of engagement pushed the whole system into a sense of chaos, each person in the family seeking some way to assert its needs and desires as each felt the horrible dependency of being around people who needed community or independence, and were instead mired in the malaise of a crowded, unsettled room.

Typically, he bounced somewhere between the good days and the bad days, doing just enough to hold his wife’s anger and exhaustion at bay while engaging his children’s longing for continued stimulation. This too, though, was a performance, and it wore him down, which only made his soul stretch beyond the moment, into that place where he might find rest and leisure.

When he did arrive alone to his chair, he was so worn thin and the days usefulness so past, that he preferred to expedite his settling back into his body through alcohol. The nightly cocktail thus became medication to slow his mind and bring back his senses. By the end of the night, though, he was not unaccustomed to pushing beyond the harmony of spirit and body into a prolonged buzz of delayed, slurred feeling.

It was a habit he acquired in college, one he learned as a way to deal with the infinite stress and anxiety placed upon him through academics and society. These escapes began as a volcanic release, usually ending in dark tours into oblivion over a toilet. But, with time and the prolonged reality of his uprooted soul, he had learned to drive away the madness through subtler forms of numbing and forgetting, his first choice being two stiff glasses of Johnny Walker, the second without the ice.

By the time Charles reached his thirties, sleep would not come at all quickly. Shortly after drifting near subconscious, he would awake – sensing that something inside of him was agitated, unfixed, disturbed, like a planet let loose from its orbit with unknown and ominous consequences.

When he was a child, his mother would calm this rising tide, this sea of tumult. The very rhythms of her voice would move into his soul as her hand rubbed his back and he let his head find its way back to earth. She had the power to force the demons away, or at least turn Leviathan back into the deeper waters.

Now, as a man with his own children to sooth, he was unable to unearth mercy or healing in such profound measures for himself. He sought other voices – sirens – to fill that space and serve that function. Some nights it was jazz. Other night: blues. Some nights it was Motown – Marvin Gaye and Sam Cooke. Whoever it was, he preferred an artist who had at least wrestled with the devil and with God. He claimed you could tell whether an artist had really done their homework if you could picture the devil and God warring to determine the outcome of an album. Would it end in harmony and reconciliation, or would it descend into dissonance and chaos? This is how Charles measured music. He thought himself quite a critic, but he knew – deep down – that this was one of the passions that he had never truly embellished.

This evening he choose to listen to Marvin Gaye’s Here, My Dear, one of Marvin’s most personal – written as a testament and release to a marriage that had fallen apart. With the alcohol warming Charles' cheeks, he closed his eyes, and listened as the music took him through agony and longing. He remembered a fragment of a poem he had read earlier in the week, something about the way that even joy in old age can become sorrowful, the way memories can dull in the mind while continuing to pierce the heart. And, with that lingering thought, he tried to let his body let go of the world. His wife encouraged him to try certain exercises to aid his release – picturing himself holding specific pieces of paper, persons and conversations from the day, then letting them drop, watching them float into a waste basket, trusting that they are gone. “Today has had enough troubles of its own,” she would say. “Let them go. Tomorrow will worry about itself when we get there.”

With that advice, he busily moved through his morning, watching the numbers fall off his computer like molten pieces, burning down his desk and cooling on the floor. He saw his boss enter with the stern look of a mortician, but in Charles’ mind, his boss never made it half way across the room. Instead, he dissipated into sand and fell into a pile on the carpet.

Occasionally, Marvin’s voice sang out, “When did you stop loving me; when did I stop loving you?” And Charles’ mind would become fixated on something deeper in his core. Dismissing it he moved on, but his focus upon the day was itself now disintegrating. He looked around the room, for once feeling as though he was actually occupying it, letting his head nod to the synthesizer playing within the music, singing out loud, “Sometimes my eyes were red as fire … intoxicated … sometimes the spirit was moving on me … I’m gone … I’m gone … and I’m gone … and I’m gone … You have won the battle. Oh, but dad is going to win the war.”

A slight smile finally crept across his face, as though he were finally satisfied to realize something that no one else knew. And with that he let the empty crystal glass rest on the table next to his sofa chair, tucked the recliner back into itself and stood up upon the cold, dark, hard wood floor, letting himself feel the ground beneath his feet, letting his head rest as a piece of his body, and nothing more.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Round and Round We Go

My mom gave Wyatt a super cool gift for his b-day ... then Anna and I jumped in and bought an extension to that super cool gift:  a marble run set.  I've delayed taking the pieces out of the box and setting them up ... largely in hopes of building a table so that Little Two won't be eating marbles anytime in the first three months of her life.  But, well, my construction skills are below sub-par.  So, I finally got out the set and put a "run" together.   You do know that I'm having just as much fun with this toy as Wyatt is.  It is so cool.  I had like thirty marbles going on this bad boy today.  It was a loco-motion of excitement.  

Enjoy the pictures.


Spring Fling

We've been enjoying a long, temperate spring ever since we returned in late April.  We've taken advantage of this good season to be outside playing a lot ... and doing some yard work.  Here are some recent pictures (mostly of Wyatt in my favorite new t-shirt for him).  There is also a picture of some of Anna's more recent handiwork ... stylized burp cloths for Little Two.