Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Ordinary Sacred

My last Full Moon ritual, where I did more than toss a tired glance out of my window in to the cloudy sky, was in June when I strung my mother cord necklace. July's was the night before I went in to labor and my body felt beat up and exhausted. August's and September's felt similarly, though I had a baby to show for my exhaustion which made it feel less lazy. I didn't light candles, I didn't go outside. I went to bed, because that's what my body and mind demanded of me.

Lughnasadh went by with just a hat tip and Mabon will most likely be celebrated with the eating of a sacred (ok, not really) apple fritter.

I had scaled back a while ago, keeping my altars simple and my rituals a quiet (usually, I don't speak) and straightforward affair. Nowadays I barely have time to do more than pause for a moment in front of it, breathing in the scents of wood, wax and old incense. Maybe I pull an oracle card, maybe not.

Depends on the day.

Mind you, I'm not complaining. Rather, I'm recognizing what has been going on in my spiritual life since this little star came and landed in to my arms.

It's taken some adjustment, as so many things have in the whirlwind of new mommyhood, but I'm finding the sacred and keeping my spiritual side fed in different, smaller, ways.

The sacred is all around us, we don't need fancy trappings or rituals to find it. We need only be still, quiet and observant - even if it's only for a minute. The sacred whispers to me as a breeze through the leaves. It warms me with the first glimmers of morning sunlight kissing my cheek. It's found in the quiet moments of love while Orion and I lay quietly nursing. There's magic in the songs of the cicadas and in the breathing of my sleeping boys as I lay awake at night, petting Luna.

I've been inviting it in with small gestures: burning candles, windows thrown open on the first cool day in months, dusting my altar spaces, creating a wee new one in the studio, giving my hands up to spirit and paint when time allows. I invite it in by sitting silently, taking deep breaths and quieting my mind.

It may not look like witchery or magic. It may not seem sacred, but finding beauty, magic and gratitude in the simple and ordinary truly is.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Summer's Light is Dying

Summer's light is dying.

Everything is becoming golden, in that soft way that gently announces Autumn is on her way. The sun shining through the branches of the oaks in the morning casts a soft yellow haze over the world; everything is softer, more magical and lovely.

In the evening, as the sun casts his dying orange light over the world, beckoning forth the moon, we take walks and note the subtle beginnings of the turning leaves. The air feels lighter, the bird song is changing.

The garden is turning forth its last Summer harvests, a few more tomatoes and small hot peppers. The squash died of powdery mildew and the cucumbers were taken by the larvae of moths weeks ago. Meager effort though I put into it during my time as a rotund planetary body, the harvests were more abundant than we could eat alone. Plans for Spring planting already dance in my mind.

But now, the season of my heart is coming. The time when nature is dressed in its very best crimson and gold. The time of early nightfall illuminated by fires. Of cool nights and breezy days. It'll be here soon.

Once Summer's light has fallen.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

5.5 Weeks

Every time I've sat down to write over the past few weeks, my mind has suddenly gone blank. I'll have all these thoughts on what to share and how to express the things I've felt these past weeks while I'm nursing Orion in the middle of the night, shoveling food in my face or having a long hot shower. But I've so missed writing that I'm going to sit here and try to get the thoughts out, even if they come out jumbled. I'm running on pure exhaustion currently. For those who don't dig mommy blog entries, that's fine. Skip this one. :) I won't always be writing about mom stuff from here on out, but let's be honest, this is all new for me and with a newborn it's not like there's much else going on with me right now. ;)

It's been harder, yet better than I imagined. Being someone who has lived my entire life with depression, I was so worried I would have issues with it right after the baby was born. I was scared that I wouldn't feel a bond with the baby easily, because I wasn't one of those pregnant women who cooed at, read to or generally was enamored with my swollen belly. I didn't feel any crazy strong bond with my unborn child. To be honest, until I held Orion in my arms for the very first time, the whole thing felt sort of surreal to me. Luckily, all of those fears of mine were completely unfounded. I have loved this little boy with ferocity and a sort of love I didn't even know I was capable of since he was first placed, goopy and screaming, on my chest. When they did his tests in the hospital and he was crying, it was all I could do not to strangle the nurse doing the dastardly deed of pricking his heal. It strikes me that I may be the momma grizzly bear type. Woe be unto those who give him shots and make him cry!

The first night home from the hospital was by far the worst. My self esteem was somewhere deep, deep , in the shitter as I tried desperately to get Orion to latch on my breast properly. Every time we'd try, I'd have sharp excruciating pain and my nipple would come out misshapen. I'd elected to stay in the hospital for an extra day so I could meet with the lactation consultant to help us out, because this natural process wasn't coming so naturally to us, so I was beating the shit out of myself for having such an issue with it now that we were home. I shot an SOS off to my really, truly, fabulously amazing doula and she said she'd not only be by the next day to try to help me but was going to give my info to a lactation consultant who is going for her IBCLC certification and needed volunteer hours so she could make a housecall and help me out. By the time the two of them got to me, I was scabby and just the thought of nursing my child made me cry. When he started rooting, I'd feal myself grow anxious and when he latched on I'd yell out and spend our 40 minute nursing session crying, because it hurt. Worse than the entire 80+ hours of unmedicated birth. No lie.

They both watched our technique and both complimented me on how well we were doing in that department. The consultant said that if I hadn't told her I've never seen anyone breastfeed and have never done it before, she wouldn't have had a clue. So it wasn't error on either of our parts in that department, so we checked his mouth. I was kind of surprised they didn't do this in the hospital, since I was having so many issue and am tongue and lip tied - something that can interfere with breastfeeding and other awesome things like speech. (Ask me how much fun it was to overcome speech impediments sometime) Turns out my baby inherited my severe tongue and lip tie, which were keeping him from being able to flare his lips or move his tongue properly. Since he couldn't make the proper wave motion with his tongue to get the milk, he was chomping on me with his gums. No wonder I hurt! Joe and I did some research in to practitioners in our area that correct the issue. Mine was never revised, my mom didn't even know I had it until I told her about Orion's, and so I'm well aware of some of the issues that can arise from it later in life. We opted to make an appointment for revision, not just so we could continue nursing with reduced pain for me, but to hopefully prevent the issues I have had in him.

The doctor couldn't get us in for a week, so I had to keep on keeping on. I ended up with not one, but TWO plugged ducts! But kept reminding myself why I chose to breastfeed and also reminded myself that soon we'd have surgery and things should improve. When Orion was a mere 10 days old, we drove an hour and a half to Charlotte to let the dentist shoot lasers in to his mouth. We weren't allowed in the room, but were allowed to stand outside the door and watch. Joe stayed, I hid in the bathroom and cried for the 2 minutes it took for them to do it. I nursed him immediately afterwards and it didn't hurt! Unfortunately, I developed a fever and was diagnosed with mastitis that afternoon. This snotty little medical student at my doctor's office (who had been at my birth - there's more story there that I'll tell with the birth story at some point) invited herself in while I waited for the nurse practitioner to see me and proceeded to tell me about abscesses that can form from mastitis and strongly hinted that I should switch to formula. I told her that I didn't think 10 days was giving breastfeeding a fair shot in a way that left no more room for discussion. I don't judge any one for their feeding choices, but dammit, this is mine. Let me give it a fair shot.

Things have gotten better in that department. I'm still sore, but now it's because he pulls off without breaking suction. We're working on that, because OUCH!

Joe wasn't able to take his full leave that we had planned on, which was a massive bummer for both of us. The week and a half he was home was wonderful though. For the first week, he tried very hard not to let me get out of bed and wouldn't let me clean or do anything except nurse Orion, sleep, eat, shower, or take Luna out in the yard. That was the compromise to keep me from going completely stir crazy - I've never been much of a sitter or layer, so that took a good bit of adjustment for me. He made me fresh ground Jamaican coffee and breakfast every morning, ran the errands that needed to happen, called the doctors and made appointments, fed the zoo and spent as much time cuddled up with us as he could. After I made a print of my placenta (oh yea, I brought it home and made art with it), my ridiculously amazing husband boiled, dehydrated, ground and encapsulated it for me. At one point, I was having a baby blues crying jag and he looked up at me while filling up capsules and said "You know I love you right? Because I wouldn't be playing in placenta dust for just anyone." Ha ha. Really, I loved every minute of our family time and wouldn't have made it through those first 10 days with my sanity in tact without him.

When he first went back to work, I was really overwhelmed by how very much time I suddenly didn't have and how very hard it was to perform every day tasks with a newborn who nursed every 2 hours for 40 minutes, hated being in his swing, decided napping was something other kids did and was only happy being held. Being as how I've never held a newborn before I was handed my own, I wasn't very comfortable holding him in one hand while I did anything. Truth be told, I wasn't super comfortable holding him - period. He was so little and floppy! As the weeks have passed though, I've gotten my sea legs under me a bit better and am significantly less overwhelmed. We still have some bad days with no naps, lots of fussiness and nursing around the clock (damn you, growth spurts!) but most of them don't bother me as much since I've realized and accepted that things just aren't going to get done the way they used to for a while and that's OK because Orion will only be this little and need me this much for a little while. And, he'll never be this little or need me this much ever again. Right now, I'm his everything; his source of food, drink, comfort, protection and love. I'm all he knew for 9 months and he's still transitioning to life in this great big world outside of me.

And that's what's important right now. That's what's keeping me going through pain, sleep deprivation, nap free days, screaming fits and all the other bad shit no one really likes to talk about. The knowledge that his tiny little head is only going to seek the comfort of my shoulder for so long, that he will only fit on my chest for a little while longer (he's already over 10 lbs - he's gained 3+ lbs since birth), that he will only nurse for a small portion of his long life and that before I know it, he'll be an independent, somewhat self sufficient little person and we can never, ever come back to these moments... and I'm soaking them all up. Even the ones like last night, when he finished nursing at 4am and decided he wanted to be awake, to gently kick and punch the air and coo at me and the ceiling fan for an hour. I was cranky this morning, because I'm always cranky when I haven't slept well, but at 4am, I was smiling at my mighty hunter as his little legs hit my hip and his little fingers grabbed mine.

It's all about perspective. And while I still stumble and fall and have bad days or moments, he is slowly, but surely changing mine just as surely as he's changed my life.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: Inamorata by Megan Chance

Im writing this from my tablet while juggling my newborn son, so apologies for any typos, as well as the lack of my usual formatting. :)

From the publisher:
American artist Joseph Hannigan and his alluring sister, Sophie, have arrived in enchanting nineteenth-century Venice with a single-minded goal. The twins, who have fled scandal in New York, are determined to break into Venice’s expatriate set and find a wealthy patron to support Joseph’s work.

But the enigmatic Hannigans are not the only ones with a secret agenda. Joseph’s talent soon attracts the attention of the magnificent OdilĂ© Leon, a celebrated courtesan and muse who has inspired many artists to greatness. But her inspiration comes with a devastatingly steep price.

As Joseph falls under the courtesan’s spell, Sophie joins forces with Nicholas Dane, the one man who knows OdilĂ©’s dark secret, and her sworn enemy. When the seductive muse offers Joseph the path to eternal fame, the twins must decide who to believe—and just how much they are willing to sacrifice for fame.

My Thoughts
Megan Chance's Inamorata is labeled as historical fiction, but I found it to be more solidly in the vein of supernatural fiction, similar to Anne Rice's beloved Vampire Chronicles.

The story is beautifully woven, even as it wades through some uncomfortable subject matter. It is told in turns, from each of the 4 main characters perspectives, and as their paths cross and intermingle the story becomes more complex, dark and at times disturbing. But as you come to understand and even care for each character, you can't help but continue reading.

I'd definitely recommend this novel to fans of supernatural fiction, artfully told period pieces and those looking for a unique story. Because try as I might, I can't come up with a story I've read that's similar.

Thank you to the publisher and Lisa from TLC Book tours for the review copy of this novel. To see what other readers thought, click here.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Mighty Hunter

Mortal Enemies. Mommy is a gleeful mythology nerd. #oriongram #mythology #babysuplicki

Today is my due date, but our son decided he was ready to join the world last week.

Orion was born July 17, 2014 at 2:41 pm, after 88 hours of labor - 26 of which were active, almost all of which was in my back. He was delivered naturally without medication, with the cord around his neck twice and was caught by daddy, to thunderous applause from a room full of medical students who had never seen a natural birth while Day-O played on Pandora. Future Beetlejuice fan? ;-)

He weighed 7.9 lbs, 19.75 inches and is ready to rock this life thing. Thank you to our rock star doulas for being by our sides the whole time and helping us know everything was and would be ok. It's amazing how cracking jokes and talking about songs stuck in your head can make something intense seem less so.

This first week (tomorrow) has been one of the hardest yet most rewarding of my life.

Welcome Earthside, baby boy!

Snoozing baby on my chest, snoozing daddy at my side, snoozing pup on my feet. Happy, if exhausted, mommy. #100happydays Day 60 #dannishappythings #babysuplicki #oriongram

Needless to say, posting will be a bit light for a bit. :)

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Fawn and The Goat - Part Two

Mad Tea Party 2014
You may recall that a few years ago,
A cheeky Goat met and wooed a certain Doe.

Mad Tea Party 2014
Mad Tea Party 2014
Maybe you've wondered what happened to the pair?
Perhaps curious if that love of theirs is still in the air?
Mad Tea Party 2014
Mad Tea Party 2014
Three years have passed since that Midsummer eve,
when the Goat kissed the Fawn 'neath the red bud tree.
Mad Tea Party 2014
Mad Tea Party 2014
The pair sit sipping a romantic tea,
a few shorts weeks before the two become three!
Mad Tea Party 2014
Mad Tea Party 2014
Yes, friends, it's true, a babe is on the way!
"But what will it be?" several of you say!
Mad Tea Party 2014
Mad Tea Party 2014
Will it have horns tall and thin,
or will it have curved ones to match its grin?
Mad Tea Party 2014
Mad Tea Party 2014
Will it be silly?
Will it be cheeky?
Will it be daring?
Will it be hairy?
Mad Tea Party 2014
Mad Tea Party 2014
We won't know 'til the babe is here,
who knows what you get when you mix
a goat and a deer!
Mad Tea Party 2014
Mad Tea Party 2014

Happy Mad, Mad Tea party! Thank you all so much for visiting. To visit other parties, please click the image in my sidebar to be whisked away to Miss. Vanessa's A Fanciful Twist blog, where the list resides. :)

Sunday, June 29, 2014


I'm joining Taryn at Wooly Moss Roots and several other lovely bloggers in honoring the things for which we've been grateful for throughout the week. A quiet, weekly practice of appreciation and positivity. A time to breath and reflect. A small step towards a more simplistic and appreciative outlook.

If you would like to join us, just click the image at the bottom of this post.

This Week I am Grateful For:

* My evening ritual that I wrote about here. I think Joe also really enjoys this evening sit down of ours; he got tied up on the phone and in the middle of a project the other night and when Luna and I came in for the night said he was bummed out that he didn't get to hang out with us. Poor guy!
* It being cool enough a few mornings for me to get out in to the garden and do some maintenance. I needed to put bigger cages on some of the tomato plants, guide the cucumber up some additional trellis, pick some goodies and pull some tenacious weeds. I'm going to need to relocate a pepper plant or two as the plants I put around them have grown out of control and are blocking the sun a bit. And spicy peppers LOVE the sun, so that won't do.
* Having a surprise dinner date with the hubster when I said I was having a craving for a Mexican Coca Cola (made with real sugar and not corn syrup - so much better!). Rather than taking me to the store for a bottle, he took me to this little Honduran/Salvadoran restaurant for Pupusas and Coke. :)

* Getting outside and making some flower/plant mandalas on the patio table. I've never done them before but have been feeling this urge to do so. They're a great way to take a few minutes to really be "in the moment" as I gather, arrange and handle all the different natural elements involved.
* Having a great meeting with our doula. Baby is in an excellent position, we're all healthy, our birth plan is in place and we had good convos about all sorts of non-baby stuff too. When I'm less busy after baby's arrival she may even have a lead on some illustration work for me.
* Finished up the trio of small firefly paintings I've been working on for myself. Now to find a good place to display them in the house!

* Altered some maternity pants that friends gave me in to shorts so I can be comfy since I'll be pregnant and recovering throughout the entire Summer.
* Going out to dinner at our favorite pizza place to celebrate a birthday with friends.
* Small bunnies and baby birds all over the place in the yard! I love watching them all when I'm out there throughout the day.
* Re-Reading Harry Potter again, as I do every Summer. I don't think I'll ever get tired of reading the stories over and over again.

To join in Gratitude Sunday, click on the image below! Happy Week, lovelies.

Gratitude Sunday