9.23.2014

samosas

There are about a dozen things I would like to blog about, and sometimes while I'm waiting in the carpool lane to pick up Avery I take "notes" in my phone and I talk out my thoughts, and when I read it later, it's super lame. This was, however, my invention when I was in 3rd grade (talking to the computer and it types for you.) Damn you Apple, taking everyone's dreams.

So I want to write about the whole30 thing I did, or how my baby is really old now and I'm drenched in emotions about it, or how much I love watching "The Blacklist", or how Napoleon Ave owes me at least a month of my life because the TRAFFIC IS SO TERRIBLE!

But, today, SAMOSAS.

Sunday night, we went to Nirvana. It's an excellent Indian buffett where the kids eat for free. At this point, since now Ivy eats like a maniac, this is the most economical eating out option. And since I don't eat like a normal person (or do I?) during the week, Sunday we go hard. So, all the naan, buttered chicken, and lentils. We were eating outside, and I scanned our table, and saw the KID sitting across from me, the peanut no longer needing a booster eat, and the baby, sitting in her high chair clapping her hands, and the handsome man who decided to marry me. And the weather was at this point of feeling like nothing, in that I wasn't sweating, and I breathed it in and felt complete.

I asked the waiter if they sold samosas and he brought out two huge samosas, filled with potatoes and peas with dipping sauces. Why did I want samosas? This are not common appetizers in my life. I'm purely a chips and salsa kinda woman, or a cheese plate. And then I had this "I can't believe that how much my life has changed in ten years" moment because of these samosas. Let's explain.

I went to Sri Lanka in the summer of 2005, and lived at an orphanage teaching English during the day at a middle school/high school and then did a makeshift camp for the girls at the orphanage during the evenings. It was, and remains, one of the best experiences of my life. One day, we were all going to an orphanage opening in a neighboring town. Much like a club opening, with less disco lights. It's a huge deal because Sri Lanka is closed to adoption because of some truly terrible people going about it unethically, and with the tsunami that had recently hit and the on going civil war, there were a lot of orphans. Every church in the country had an orphanage (either a girls home or a boys home) which is really beautiful to me. So, our trip. What would have taken 2 hours to drive to, took around 8 because of the Tamil tigers (silly terrorists) who had seized control of the bridges that allowed you to travel to these towns. So we drove inland and then back out to the coast. We left before sunrise and rice and lentils just didn't sound to good so I skipped breakfast, and loaded the bus with 80 happy girls, who didn't mind any of the trip. We drove, and it was hot, and I was a mess. Hungry, sweaty, with a couple of 8 year olds sitting in my lap. The bus broke down a few times, needed gallons and gallons of water because the engine was over heating. So The Rev, the nicest man in Sri Lanka, reroutes the bus to a little town to get food, for about 100 people. He then comes back on the bus with dozens of brown paper bags of food. I could have cared less what I was eating, I was famished. The girls calmly handed out food to everyone and I took a huge bite not knowing what it was. It was a tiny samosa, filled with potatoes and beef. And it was delicious! I ate as many as I could get my hands on, and the taste and experience attached to it will always trigger this amazing time I had in Sri Lanka.

Back to Sunday night, I'm sitting by Ivy, feeding her bits of my food and she's loving it, and I looked at her clapping after each bite and couldn't believe how fast life happens. Not just how she's not a baby anymore, but how not that long ago, I was in Sri Lanka. And how in ten more years, I'll have pre-teens hogging the bathroom every morning, and I'm sure I'll look at them and remember when we were eating samosas at Nirvana. I don't know if I have ever wanted life to speed up, but I know that daily I wish it would just slow down. At the park the other day, I was jogging walking with the littles and this man yelled, because he had headphones on, "this is the best time of your life!!" and that simple phrase set me up for the rest of the day, probably week. I thought I had had my "best time of your life" season when I went to Sri Lanka, or when Ken and I were newlyweds, or when I got to spend four years in San Luis Obispo for college, but the best is right now? Yes, it is.

Of course, it's hard so see the best when Avery throws a chicken bone at Eliza, or when Ivy screams when I leave the room, or when Eliza eats sand, but every night, after the tantrums and the protests of bedtime, Ken and I are just so happy to have these kids. We settle into the couch and talk briefly about the girls, (and then quickly turn on "The Blacklist.") If this isn't the best, I don't know what is.

We never know what's waiting in our future, and while my life may not look great to some, my heart and life before the present has been preparing me for loving what I have now. I see pictures of my face as I look at my girls, and I remember how I looked at the kids in Sri Lanka and it's all too familiar. I know my heart is where it needs to be.

Be careful next time you order an appetizer, you never know what might happen.
Sri Lanka // 2005
Avery // 2010  +  Eliza // 2012
Ivy // 2013 + 2014

(They all look really similar, while my crow's feet are getting evermore crowy each year. 
A sign of a woman who has laughed a lot, and smiles constantly, and possibly needs better eye protection when in the sun.) 

9.04.2014

hello, how are you?

Isn't it about time for a fun photo update from the kostrzewas? Happy Thursday, y'all. That's what you're about to get. Highlights: Avery started school! Ivy started crawling! Eliza started wearing sunglasses and her hair makes the most perfect curl down the middle of her forehead. That's noteworthy, yes? Ken started school too! Mom started (and just finished) whole30! It's been a whirlwind here.

Brevity has never been a strong trait of mine so there are a million pictures. So, pour yourself a drink.

 When they're not yelling at each other, they're lovey dovey.

 Dear Mom, you will never go to bathroom alone ever. Love, all three of us that now are mobile

 What caption would add to this picture? nothing. 

 Ivy "go with the flow" Marie taking in the park and the library with the sisters

 You may have seen a thousand of these on Facebook, BUT THIS ONE IS THE BEST!
Our new normal with A at school. It's good. 

 A new model for the shop. 
 I get a text a day of Avery in action at school. This would be her second breakfast. Tough life, kid.

 We saw Ivy's plastic surgeon for her check up and everything is great! I have been looking forward to this appointment with such anticipation. I was expecting us to share a drink and toast his success and her recovery. I was prepared with a heart felt thank you speech wherein I would explain to this man that he has changed my life, etc. But then the appointment was 5 minutes and he said, "looks good!" and started to walk out. "Oh, um, Dr. St. Hilaire? Can I get a picture of you... holding Ivy?" pause... "Yeah, sure." And then Ivy put her hand on his shoulder and he was instantly in love. I forget that he doesn't hold babies, he just opens their skulls and touches their brains. It must be hard to be so brilliant and then have to talk to moms who are crazy. I didn't cry though!! 

 Avery and dad went on a date to the Superdome for the Saints first home game. You see, Ken is one of the nicest guys. Pretty much the opinion across the board. He manages the bus drivers that come to his school, and one of his drivers gave him these tickets. Because, Ken is nice. And then when they came home, he goes, "I should have brought some of your business cards. Ladies kept complimenting Avery's skirt. You could have sold out of these!" hashtag good dude. 

 I still make her model on the weekends. Sorry/not sorry kid. 

 Sunday mornings. My favorite mornings. 

 Playing with the neighbors dog. And playing with my "allergic to dogs" heart. 

 20 pounds of the best

 After we drop off Avery at school we take to city park, which is actually amazing.
I NEVER KNEW! I walk everywhere with the babies and Eliza loves to find blue dog in the sculpture garden. 


 It's as if Ron Swanson was consulted by Roy Lichtenstein for this sculpture. 
(If you understood all of that, you are my best friend.)

 Welcome to the sheeeet show! The 3:1 ratio at the pediatrician is always a party. 

 Wednesday T-shirt day! Yes! 

 The evening light shines through the window right on Ivy. And then her eyes pierce my heart. 

 "Had a good month in the shop!" said that annoying girl who sells skirts. 

 Yes, Ivy. It is funny when you're sisters get kicked out of the tub for fighting. 

 I think of her scar as like a collection of freckles in a swirly line, and it seems to be adorable. 

 Ivy's in a booster! Welcome to the table, child. 

 After Breaking Bad swept the Emmys, I suddenly got 4 orders for these skirts. 
Thank you, Heisenburg. 


 I also make bibs and burp cloths now. So, fun? 
Stop talking about your shop. 
 And then two months just fly by and this baby is looking great. 

 Weekends with these monkeys is the tops. Avery got dressed herself. 

 The small movie theater near our house is showing Robin Willaims movies every Sunday night and last Sunday was Dead Poets Society. The place was sold out with a line around the block. This movie,  I cried of course. 


 That curl! Will not fail. 

 Snark face at whole foods, post school.

 My babies taking it easy as mom sweats into her eyeballs. It's toasty out there folks. 



She wakes me up with this face. And the curl, can't forget that curl. 

Phew! Are you still there? That was a lot, probably too much. Oh well!
You were warned. 

8.11.2014

moon river


It's almost been two months since Ivy's surgery and I have to remind myself that it happened because her recovery has been wonderful. Flawless, really. We were at Joann's yesterday, just me and Ivy and she was sitting in the seat of the cart, playing with stuffies and flipping through an elmo book when the lady who was cutting my fabric looked at her. "That's a mighty big scar for such a tiny baby." I was caught off guard. "Huh? Yes, right. Yes, she had skull/brain surgery a couple months ago. Now, I'll take two yards please." It was as easy as that. But often that prompts more questions. "What was wrong?" And in the past 8 months, since knowing about Ivy's cranio, I have summed it up rather well, "The plate above her right eye was fused prematurely so they (surgeons) went in and released the fusion while correcting the deformation that was developing on her left side due to her brain growing asymmetrically. It's called coronal suture synostosis." That's it, right? Now, where are the seem rippers? 

"You know, I have a scar too." The lady precedes to unbutton the top of her shirt to reveal a scar from when she had open heart surgery when she was baby. She shared all about it, and I listened. I wanted to know every detail. Because the greatest thing about all of this (all being Ivy's cranio/surgery journey) is when people listened to you share this experience. Really listened. Countless people, upon hearing about Ivy's condition, googled and researched and most likely scared themselves seeing images and learning facts, etc. I have had so many conversations over the past 8 months where people asked me how she was doing and then said "Yeah, I read that." Blew me away. How thoughtful. As not to bother me with those scary details that were in her future, they went and learned about it before talking to me. They just wanted to know how I was doing with it all, with a genuine concern for my mama-heart. 

I have started about a dozen posts about Ivy's surgery. Details, then personal reflection, then delete, then start again. It's hard to wrap it all up. It's hard to relive some of those moments, even if they were amazing moments, that intense rush of emotions floods my eyes instantly. As the days go by and were further away from the surgery, I still have a time each day where we are right back in the hospital, it's when I put her to bed and we sing.

I wanted to have an arsenal of songs to sing while in the hospital. I have songs that I sing to Avery, different ones for Eliza. For Ivy, I knew she wouldn't be able to see me for a few days, but I wanted my voice to comfort her. We grew pretty close in the months prior to surgery, because there were days when I just couldn't let go; days where it was emotionally easier for me just to hold her all day. I wanted my voice to calm her, so I added some songs and sang them to her nightly so that she'd associate them with home. One, her favorite, is "Moon River." Who knows why I started singing it, but I did and she loved it instantly. She'd smile through her binkie at me with those big blue eyes. I knew, it was our song. 

Moon river, wider than a mile // I'm crossing you in style some day
Oh, dream maker, you heart breaker // Wherever you're going, I'm going your way

Two drifters, off to see the world // There's such a lot of world to see
We're after the same, rainbow's end, waiting, round the bend // My Huckleberry friend, Moon river, and me

If you know me, you know that parts that put a lump in my throat. The early days of June, I could barely finish this song without weeping, but with her in my arms it was cathartic. Wherever you're going, I'm going your way. I thought about if this surgery goes South, and we're left without a Ivy shaped void in our family, what then? How would we go on? And I thought about heaven, and that if she did go to her eternal home early, that I'd be "going her way" soon. We all would. And while the thought of heaven brings great joy to me, the thought of her earthly journey ending was too much to bear.

The beginning of the second verse, Two drifters, off to see the world, there's such a lot of world to see. I thought about the adventures my mom and I went on, the travels and experiences we shared. We got to see the world, I want to see the world with Ivy. There's so much for her to see. I would pray that Jesus would let her see those things. Every night. I like to think of the rainbow's end, that no one can really arrive at on earth, as heaven. While we're after the same, rainbow's end, I want to be with her. That's all I wanted, was to still be with my Ivy. I would sing to her, kiss her forehead, pull her in a little bit closer every night before laying her down, and I'd come out to the front of the house to Ken who saw my red eyes he knew I had sang to her.


The afternoon of June 19 is up there with the greatest few hours of my life. When I got to hold her hand, as I couldn't hold her due to the IVs and such, and I got to sing Moon River to her, only on the other side of surgery. She'd fidget and clench my index finger and I'd say, "there's such a lot of world to see, sweet Ivy" and all was right in the world.



Ivy's 9 months old tomorrow. She's crawling, pulling up on her sister's bed, eating everything and wearing her scar well. She's quite a special little girl. Now, at night when I sing to her, I'll save "Moon River" to the very end and she'll sing with me. No other song but that one, she'll lift her head from where is was resting on my shoulder, look and me and smile. Then she'll start humming, or making noise of some fashion, but I know she's singing. It's easily my favorite part of everyday.


To those of you who have read all about Ivy on this little blog, I appreciate you. Your comments have been encouraging. You're listening to me with genuine hearts, so I thank you. Thank you for your prayers and support. I feel all too blessed to have been given this life, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to share it through this outlet. So much love for each of you.
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