Year in Pictures 2012

December 31, 2012 Candace Morris 1 Comments

Happy New Year, darlings.  Be well.  Be kind.  Be aware.  Be fun.

We are in Southern California visiting family this week, see you on the flip side.


Musings of a Mum: 6 months old

December 30, 2012 Candace Morris 2 Comments

Baby Bowie, as many affectionately call you,
As I grew into myself in my mid-twenties, I began to examine the childhood I encountered.  I was the youngest of four children, my mother was single for the first ten years of my life, and we were quite poor.  I don't mean poor in the middle-class we can't afford four-ply toilet paper poor, but poor in that we received food on our doorstep frequently, poor in that my mother had to shop on Christmas Eve for our gifts because that is when any extra money came in (usually from her folks.  Her Christmas money was spent on us).  Poor in that I can only remember a few times where I had clothes that were not previously worn.  I got a job at age 13, working so I could buy mascara and anything I wanted outside of food, some clothing, and certain feminine products.  Despite knowing there was a ton of love in my mother's heart for me, the fact remains that she alone simply did not possess the emotional resources necessary to meet all of her children's needs.  She knew this, and therefore entrenched us in a community that could potentially meet those needs, the church.  For all she endured, I can't imagine doing a better job.  As I look back, I have come to appreciate the grit of my early years, despite their varied and lasting negative effects.  Being poor engendered me with compassion and the requirement to work hard for unnecessary items saved me from feelings of entitlement.  Learning the important lesson between what I needed and what I wanted will forever be a part of who I am. Working and paying my own way through college bequeathed me a strong sense of personal responsibility to extract all I could from my education, and that if I didn't, I alone would pay for it.  These lessons made me independent and self-motivated.  So you see, the rough beginning birthed an adult I have come to respect.

Here's my conundrum.

As I watch your life unfold, secure and happy with more than enough emotional resources and more than enough physical comforts, I wonder how you will learn these same lessons.  Since I cannot teach them to you the same way they were taught to me, by the school of hard knocks, if you will, who will be your teacher?  I can use my words to teach them, and then use my own actions to show you work ethic and personal responsibility  but will it be enough to get to the core of you?  Joel had a very stable childhood, and he still possesses these things, only with an even greater bonus of relational resources.  Perhaps I forget that life is hard enough, even in an ideal child-rearing environment  and it will teach you the lessons it has for you. I forget that perhaps they won't be the same lessons, and perhaps then you can teach me what you know.

A mutually beneficial exchange, our existences.

You are a smiley baby, generally happy and easy to read.  These last few weeks have given me the first inclinations that you might be introverted.  You take your time in new situations, clinging to Mom and Dad, wide-eyed and content to just watch.  You seem easily stimulated by a lot of noise or new situations, and your time capacity for these things is very small.  Did I make you this way?  We are not often very busy and don't really leave the house a lot compared to some, so it's hard to know.  Either way, I am just fine with you needing peace and quiet.

You have become more and more capable with your hands, though you are getting very frustrated at things you want to grab but cannot.  You rolled over from back to belly for the first time last week, but it was during a nap, so I didn't get to see.  I went in to get you and there you were, as shocked as I was to be on your stomach and distressed that you didn't seem to remember how to get out of the situation!  You then rolled over for all to see on Christmas Eve at Gma Jean's house,  5 times in a row.  You've yet to do it since, but I am just fine with that, since you being mobile will certainly change my life, and for now - I'm happy that you stay where I put you.  Once you are on your belly, you are quite sturdy!  You'll be crawling soon, no doubt.

You like to sit up and are getting better at it.  You love to sit in your high-chair, and you certainly love putting all manner of toys in your mouth.  You also like to stand, and have recently enjoyed your jump-a-roo, though you can handle it for only so long.

You continually coo and belly-laugh and smile at us.  You've begun to feel anxiety when I leave the room, and have continued to show preference to me and your father.  When I pick you up from your nap, you have started to grab my face and chew on my chin.  You newly like your swing, but only if I turn it on high and your play mat, which you used to love, is now a source of frustration for you.  A combination of the teething, separation anxiety, frustrations at immobility, and as of yesterday, a cold, has made for a challenging time for mamma.  I am looking for more and new creative solutions to keep us both happy.


Solids, in order of trying, so far:
Bananas - meh.
Carrots - yes!
Applesauce - yes!
Bananas - yes!
Green beans - yes!

Though you still have the tongue push reflex that inhibits your eating abilities, you seem to adjust after a few bites.  You get so jolly during feeds...perhaps a combination of face time with me and the delight of new foods, but you laugh so readily and heartily at the words I say and expressions I make. It's really quite entertaining.

We are still nursing as your main source of nutrition, with supplemental formula here and there.  You seem to be doing well with both.  I thought I would be weaning you by now, but things seem to be working well and you and I both still enjoy it.  You are an efficient nurser, often finished with your feedings in 5-7min, but goodness you are easily distracted.  If I start talking to you out of silence, you will startle and pull off suddenly  then stare at me in wonder.  It's actually quite a magical moment.


Though I had hoped we would be back to sleeping through the night, it appears that you only wanted to do that for one month, oh blessed October month that it was.  For some reason, naps have become challenging for you, as you will now need more coaxing and settle down time before you'll suck your thumb and put yourself to sleep.  Now, Dad and I will stand in your room with the lights off and walk with you, singing or humming gently.  This transition really seems to help.  You go down at night easily and sleep for 6-7 hours, but always you wake for that early morning feed, then again 3 hours later.  After the new year, I think I'll start doing some research on helping you sleep through the night better, because you and I both know you don't need the calories.

You still take several naps, and are not awake more than 1.5 hours.  I am starting to stretch this time out, but that last 30min is torturous for us both as you are cranky and I am at my wits end.


This month you spent two nights at Grandma's without us.  You really do well there, and it's so helpful to have that option.  We just had Christmas at Grandma's and you got to play with Olive and Cal, and tomorrow we leave for L.A. where you will meet many more of your cousins.  I have been anxious for the last month about this trip, so we will see how you like it.  I admit, I am dubious.

I am more and more aware that this year of your life will be like none other, and that it is going by so quickly.  I cherish each laugh, each smile, each sweet tear, and each chin chomping.

Merry Christmas, cherub lumps.


what gifts are for

December 26, 2012 Candace Morris 3 Comments

"What can I say except that it's Christmas and we're all in misery."
Helen Griswold

I almost always wake up the day after Christmas with a mixed bag of relief and disillusionment.  After a long debriefing phone call this morning with Jackie, my favorite mother of four and who swears that December 26 is the best day of the year, I have spent some time unpacking the post-Christmas hangover.  

As I wander about the quiet house, picking up scraps of wrapping paper and peeling tape off the bottom of my slippers, I ask...what is the motivation for the commercial aspect of Christmas?  Why do I buy gifts for people?  I send gifts to kids who seriously do not need another present, so why bother?  Is it obligation, and if so, is this obligation soulless?  As I ponder raising a child, I am trying to imagine ways to give her a well-rounded Christmas experience outside of a frenzy of gifts that make her greedy for more and more and more.  
I want her to know magical evenings looking at the fire and listening to carols and watching snowfall.  
I want her to find giddy pleasure in twinkle lights.
I want her to ponder the cultural significance of the Christ story.
I want her to contemplate the love and goodness in her life.
I want her to know how deeply satisfying it is to do something for someone else.
I want her to believe in all the magic the season has to offer.
I want her to know the moving story of the gift Gpa bought for Gma when they were newlyweds and had no money.
I want her to listen for reindeer. 
I want her to dream about peppermint candies and whipped cream and hot chocolate.
I want her to know the security that there will always be something for her to open on Christmas morning, that she will never be hungry or cold.

I don't want to demonize gifts or the awesome feeling of tons of presents.  But any time, as with any aspect of life, if balance isn't restored, the meaning behind our actions and traditions will be lost.

And we all know what a meaning whore I am.

So what are gifts for?  What part do they play in Christmas?  For me, I send these gifts to my nephews and nieces (who don't need another gift by any means) because I want them to know their Aunt Candi.  I want them to know how I regret not being in their daily lives.  I want them to look back on birthdays and holidays and remember that Aunt Candi, even though she was far away and could have easily forgotten and they wouldn't have noticed, always remembered and celebrated.

They are an intimate gesture, hopefully an entirely selfless one, of "I know you of old" and nothing feels better than the reciprocity of intimacy from someone you have poured your precious one life into loving...that they indeed know and love you back.  They are intended to bring joy, wonder, surprise   They are there to fulfill a need, to remove another item from someone's 'to do' list.  They are way to express support, to say I love you, therefore I love what you love by spending my precious time and hard-earned money to learn about your interests and get you something you would like in an effort to remind you of the secure and certain place you and only you hold in my heart. They are there to encourage your sister whose life has been inordinately hard the past few years.  They are there to soften an old man's hard heart because he lost his wife to cancer.  They are given to remind your best friend to take care of herself. They are there to tell your daughter that your life isn't the same when she's away at college and you are so glad she's home.  They are there to restore a clergyman's teetering faith because someone was listening to his homilys all those Sundays to give generously and love unquestioningly.  They are given to tell your wife that all the hours at the office were only and always for her. They are a bridge between a brother and sister who have never understood each other.  They are there to make your over-worked father laugh. They are a lesson to your niece that imagination is her best friend.  They provide a way for a man to say to his brother and best friend, "I've missed you!"

Yes, we could say all of these things to the people we love, but I think presents express for us what we have no words to say.  There is a difference between telling your niece to pretend to be a prima ballerina and buying her a tutu to do just that.  Gifts are tangible, solid gold love.

Gifts bring into strong focus the people in our lives, the people we look at and interact with and have baggage with, but with whom we often forget to truly see in the murk of daily life. Our lover who we would commit to all over again in a heartbeat.  Our friends who guide us toward self-forgiveness and kindness.  Our pets and children who break down our calloused, protected hearts and make us into saps.  Our parents who break their backs to connect with us - even if it doesn't always work.  Our siblings who travel to us, text us, Skype us, and email us in order to make sure the relationship stays strong.  Our grandparents who have hugged us harder than anyone in our whole lives.  Our coworkers who sneak into our hearts and become friends that make you laugh and think.  Our postman who carries our business daily.   Our barista who happily makes our Americano.  Our massage therapist who helps your body heal itself.

But how can we spend the necessary time and money on people if our holiday seasons are too busy?  Aren't the activities of this season supposed to be fun and not stressful?  I am reflecting today on how I can make my holidays even more simple, more soulful.  I think the answer lies in the art of saying no.

All I want for Christmas is peace.  
Make it so,


Lest we forget, no one is perfect

December 22, 2012 Candace Morris 8 Comments

I present the Morris family holiday photo shoot bloopers:

I think I'll hire a pro next year.

Happy crazy days of Christmas, my sweet plum puddings. Be ye sober scarcely. 


A Type-A Mum

December 18, 2012 Candace Morris 1 Comments

Today I am feeling a tiny bit lost.  I feel heavy and anxious and am rapidly examining my list of normal comforts. I suppose any number of them would work if I could just sit to one task without a million more intruding my sacred mental space.  I keep thinking that it's life's job to arrange things peacefully for me, that the decisions I make and the lifestyle I insist upon are obliged to make me happy.

I keep forgetting that happiness is my job.
Today, I want a team of people on it.
Elves to task.

I am not one to be easily overwhelmed.  I just really need to call in sick today.  I need someone to be Bowie's mum so I can go back to being the fabulous get-it-done-effortlessly girl. Though the work is not hard, it is constant.

I keep making lists thinking that once my brain has dumped these tasks and worries onto a piece of paper, it will finally know peace, it will finally relax into that sacred emptiness.  Nope.  It now only serves as a visual reminder of what I cannot do.

And yet it feels strange to crave peace in this environment of Bowie and I.  The tasks I create are my own.  I answer to no one. I wear what I want, sleep if I need, and bathe in silence (well, not recently as Bowie has decided to showcase her vocal skills).  My life is enviable.

Hell, I envy it.

I have toyed a while now with the idea of writing a "Fertility, Pregnancy, and Motherhood for the Type-A" book.  Today's chapter would be titled, "How to learn to endure mess."

I am visually stimulated.  I need chaos to be ordered before I can relax.  Pre-baby (and pre-baby stuff, geeze) I was able to keep things straightened enough to fulfill my needs.  It wasn't perfect, but it was enough for me.  Now, there are exponentially more messes and exponentially less time to straighten them.

This last Saturday, otherwise known as the only December day where Joel didn't work and we had no other social obligations, we were so glad to have a day to relax together.  I kept saying to myself, "Okay, just finish THIS and then you can go relax with Joel."  It just never came, and I spent the day in anxiety and irritation.

So I am realizing that I have a new challenge ahead of me.  I must instead learn to clear the mental clutter in order to rest, since there is no physical way to have visual order as often as I need it.  I cannot continue to allow these messes to rule my mood.

The next chapter in the "Type-A Mother" would be how to deal with travel anxiety.  We are taking Bowie to my home in LA for New Year's, and I can almost not focus on anything else for the fears I have about travel.  

Since life persists on being uncooperative, I shall endeavor to learn a new way to happiness.

The only thing that has worked thus far is deep, deep breathing.
And Christmas Lights.
And Snow Globes.
And Corny Movies.
And Eggnog with Cool Whip.

These things make me blindly giddy.


the morning in numbers

December 13, 2012 Candace Morris 2 Comments

...and countless pesky tasks pushed back into the corner of my mind where they belong, forced to wait patiently until I can address them with the time they deserve.  

How much of this existence is the managing of time?  And time is such an illusion, a way to mark the turning of the planet.  It's panic upon our day is nothing short of self-inflicted. There is the negotiating with self for the permission to relax and the motivation to work. If there is too much to do and not enough time to do it, then you have too much to in those tasks do not belong in your hands or mind today.  And so we must open our grabby little hands, those hands of hubris that demand we show people that we are more than we truly are, those hands must release time and tasks and duty and ideals.

How much of this existence is release of control?  And control is such an illusion, simple decision-making.  The panic upon this loss of control is nothing short of self-inflicted.  Even the comforts of control I can give myself are not true control.  The attempt to control items, people, outcomes, and situations were long-since established coping mechanisms for managing anxiety..that continued pit of knots in my soul's stomach that won't release unless I can somehow protect them from bad things.  Only this does not work anymore.  So what does one do when a once-working coping mechanism no longer performs its designated task?

How much of this existence is tasks? The living gets lost in the doing.  We do, but we cannot see.  We change diapers and forget to look into eyes.  We make love and forget to connect.  We pay bills and forget to see money for what it is instead of the power it has over our choices.  We attend holiday parties but forget to celebrate the magic of the season.  We read life-changing words but forget to let them penetrate our insides toward real progress. We bicker over holiday plans, plans intended to foster a connection with friends and family, but we forget to have generosity of spirit.  We purchase gifts for these people, often without deeply considering them.   We do and do and do.

Life is like a poem.  The doing and going are the words, even beautiful in-and-of themselves.  The living and being is the meaning behind those words. I guess today I am wanting to take shelter in-between the lines, to linger in the subjective meaning that only I can interpret for myself.  I suppose this is the art of living.


supplements, dinosaurs, and other random bits

December 10, 2012 Candace Morris 1 Comments

Hello, hello, friends and lovers.  It's not even sunrise, and I am feeling particularly buzzy.  I have been feeling rather good lately, and since I eat a sugar/carb rich diet and poison my body daily with spirits, I am guessing it has to do with this, this, this, and this.  I suppose this doesn't hurt either.  I've never been on so many supplements, but my acupuncturist has me in her good graces and we are working closely with my massage therapist and chiropractor to get this body well.  

Oh the wonders of good health insurance.

Did I tell you that I've figured out the secret to being happy at home?  Yes, the world's domestic mysteries have been unveiled to yours truly.  The key is to shower, but not only be showered and dressed before 9am, but to have hair, makeup, shoes, AND accessories all taken care of.  Simple though it be, I think it sends the psyche the message that things are happening all around us, and any number of those things could happen to us at any moment, so we had better be dressed and ready for them.  One of the beasts of personal depression is the outlook that everything is still, that no one anywhere is doing anything interesting, that life is dull and boring.  For some reason, having a quiet morning and being ready for the day, even if nothing but making dinner is on the agenda, changes my outlook on this.  This is also another reason I do not thrive in country living.  I need the hum and excitement of city life to fuel my love of life, just as others need the solitary mountain air to fuel theirs.

It was also a superbly fun weekend.  Joel's company hosted their annual party, and Bowie spent the night at Grandma's.  We felt so young again!  You will also notice that a certain couple attended the party because BC is a new Tableau employee!  What luck!  Anyway, we could stay out as late as we wanted, drink too much, fulfill a late-night craving for fried chicken and waffles, crash out (without even brushing my teeth! What! I NEVER do that!), and wake up leisurely.  All weekend I kept thinking about how grateful I am to have such support from his parents.  They are able to help us retain a small fraction of our previous selves, which I believe to be imperative in the transition to being parents. 

In fact, as I drove to pick up Bowie yesterday morning, fog and rain and winter gray all around me, I began to ponder my loved ones.  I was overcome with love for this human race, specifically the people in my tribe.  I thought of Joel's family, then my family, then some of the best friends I have because of blogs, then new friends I've made because of Joel's or my work, then the oldest of friends and their children...I felt the list never end.  I almost wanted to write down all these names so that if ever I again doubt my part in this human race, I can see those I love and who love me and send those lies of isolation back to the pit from whence they came.  It was a moment of somehow knowing what it all meant, this odd life on this old planet (like old! I learned yesterday that scientists believe that dinosaurs inhabited earth for 165 million years before they suddenly became extinct.  I had no idea it was that long!  Also, if you have never seen THIS, stop all viewing of guilty pleasures and addictive period pieces until you do.  Even if you don't agree, it will move you.  Well, I am hoping that you are able to be moved by things that challenge your thinking, dear reader.)

We have held off decorating the house for Christmas until Joel was finished with the quarter, and he submitted his final on Thursday!  Therefore, this week will entail placing ribbons and lights on things, putting up our kitschy 50s pom pom tree, and watching Christmas Vacation.  Bring on the jolly winter warmers, please.

Happy Monday, if possible.


personal resources

December 03, 2012 Candace Morris 2 Comments

My usual struggle lies not in the comparison of my physical self to others, nor to their intellectual pursuits or material conquests.  Instead, I unfairly berate myself about my lack of emotional resources.

Surely she does not have such special needs as I do.  She always has time for her friends.  He never struggles with the obsessive need to plan in the hopes that planning will allow himself to BE in the moment when that moment for which he's planned occurs, but he then realizes that the over-planning has created a rigid wall he is unable to traverse. She is never mean to others when she is stressed.  He doesn't have to say 'no' to social things as much as I do.  And if this is all false, at least these people reach their proverbial "end of the rope" much later than I.

I can manage my emotional end well when I am self-aware enough to realize I am nearly there, but if I wait until I hand-over-hand to the next bit of rope only to discover I have run out, I begin to despair.  In fact, I'm presented with several options:  I can either sit still and do the self-care necessary to weave myself a bit more rope, or I can reach over and request a bit of Joel's rope for loaner, or I can berate myself for being so short on resources.  Why I am not as resilient as he is would take a doctoral statement to unpack, so I try to ignore all the whys.  But it is the whys that turn into self-compassion; the whys allow me the vision of a candace-child in need of guidance and generosity; the whys are one of the only ways to blur the bitter tears of disappointment in my adult self, whose hands are (seemingly) less capable than others.

I manage my anxiety by removing myself from stressful situations and people.  While it was once self-preserving to do this, I am now recognizing a few holes in this practice.  I cannot avoid stress altogether, so instead of giving myself the opportunity to create more resilience by controlled exposure, I've mistakenly created an allergy to it.  I believe that a child needs to reach a point of maximum frustration in order to encounter their personal resilience and resources, which are vast.  I have allowed Bowie the privileged of this frustration when it comes to self-soothing for sleep.  I cannot spend the rest of my life assisting her back to bed, and so the sooner she learns that within her lies the resources to care for herself better than I can, the better.  Why would I allow Bowie this human right, but not myself?  I've stripped courage from my bones by never demanding that I use it. I've been afraid of the dark, of who I am when I am stressed - which is honestly quite short, ugly, and mean.  Perhaps avoiding stress is no longer helpful.  I am seeing that Bowie has the potential to be raised by a very scared woman...a woman afraid to travel, to try new stimulating things, to spontaneously embrace life, to pick up more than she can carry just to see if she is strong enough.  I don't want this for her.  I want to stand beside her with a shovel and assist her in digging deeply a wellspring of resources from which she draws energy and love for others.

Disliking myself for the shorter wellspring of emotional resources I posses compared to others is an exercise in futility.  It is as illogical as hating my human body because it requires food. I cannot change who I am.  I can only care for the special needs I have.  I think trying to keep Bowie from seeing my darker bits (as if I could) will only serve to cripple her when it comes to learning how to love people - that of holding their pain without being drowned by it.  She is strong; she has weaknesses.  All are lovable because I love all of Bowie, not just parts of her.

At the very least, she will see me loving myself through these needs; she will learn the subtle nuance between coddling one's own weakness as opposed to engaging the self-care necessary to empower personal growth. In the end, it is pride that tempts me to hide my shadows from my daughter.  If I value personal growth above the eradication of darkness as I say I do, then I must find the courage to be myself in front of her, to live my life authentically before her observant eyes, to teach her the biggest lesson of all, how to love oneself so that she can love others out of authentic resources, and not from obligation or empty routine.  There is nothing like teaching a child something to challenge your belief in it.

An authentic life, not just an illuminated bones rattle with desire for this.  I refuse to trust only light.    It is only one-half of an existence.  I will take brokenness based on reality over pseudo-wholeness based only on embracing positivism any day.

Hold on to me, child.  We need to teach each other these lessons.