Blast from the past

I’ve been compiling all the recipes I use most into an easy-to-edit cookbook, since the notebook I normally use is now covered in a great deal of food-type stains. There are way too many places I stash recipes. One is this old Miquelrius journal I dearly loved – I started writing notes, lists, journal entries, recipes, directions, and everything else in it toward the end of 2004. It was mostly full by the time Jarom and I got married in 2007.

I started going through it page by page this morning to check for recipes. And, before too long, I found this gem, presented to you with minimal commentary (but also more-than-minimal embarrassment).

August 23, 2005 / The genuine Mika

I blush easily. I read Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in 6 hrs 39 minutes. I used to make pterodactyl noises to make my sister laugh. I gave up chocolate for a while and now it doesn’t taste as good as it used to. I have six nieces and nephews [current count: 21] who call my sister “Aunt Mika” because they remember my name. I want a puppy more than any other tangible thing right now. I have put my whole heart and energy into Decathlon, learning how to cook [come again? I did no such thing], and my relationship with Jarom. I am risking everything on him because he’s worth the worst heartache in the world. I play the Glad Game. I dislike driving on the freeway. I watch chick flicks. I enjoy learning and using formulas in Microsoft Excel. I have spent a long time disciplining myself to be a positive, optimistic person who seldom complains. [I was obviously heavily drugged while writing this.] I am fascinated by genealogy. I edit well. I can be cheered up by a mug of Ghirardelli’s gourmet hot chocolate. I use a guided imagery cd to fall asleep. I am a terrible liar. I love little kids. [Ok, that goes beyond drugged. Was I naive or just in extreme denial?] I don’t want a diamond ring. I write long letters. I am just beginning to really understand myself.

For what it’s worth, I think understanding oneself is an ongoing part of one’s twentysomethings. And boy, I had no idea back then. You know what’s on my list of top 3 things I DON’T like? Noise, crowds, kids. Luckily I’ve figured that out in the past 10 years, and I can avoid all of those most of the time because my own kids fall into this magical “I actually love you” zone. I still love Jarom, too, so that’s a plus.

What does it mean to be “in shape”?

One of my broad resolutions for this year was to get in shape. I mentioned before that after having Christian, I gained quite a bit of weight. Part of that may also be due to taking Zoloft daily – but I’m guessing it’s mostly due to grief-eating and my body changing as I get older. (I turn 30 this year! Hooray!) This is the first time in my life I’ve had to actually consider the benefits or ill effects of what I eat. I’m not a fan. I loved my old metabolism.

At any rate, I had to buy new pants. I donated too-small clothes that I wasn’t very attached to and boxed up the ones I love, as motivation to be smaller.

Many times I was getting ready to go out, even just to the grocery store, and ended up in tears because I hated my shape. It isn’t the shape I used to be. It isn’t what “attractive” people look like. I felt miserable because I needed to be smaller, and slimmer, and to weigh less.

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this. If I eat well and am active, do I really need to be smaller? Am I allowed to just be the size and shape I am? Aren’t there better things I can do with my life than struggle with body image issues? I’ve had 3 children. I’m almost 30. Of course I don’t look like a teenager. Of course I don’t look like a young twentysomething with no kids and no major stress. And of course I don’t look like a model – from what I’ve seen of retouching, even models don’t look like models.

That being said, I still want to change something. I don’t think the number on the scale is nearly as important as how I feel about myself. So my resolution isn’t necessarily “Lose 10 pounds” or “Fit into a pair of pre-Christian jeans” or “Do a workout every morning before the kids get up.” That last one is the most unlikely of the three!

Here’s the resolution I’ve made, at least for now:
Eat dessert only once a week (Monday night), with no sweets any other time; and take Ender on a 30-minute walk at least twice a week.

Now, I realize this won’t significantly change anything about my body. But it’s where I can start to form healthier habits without feeling like I’m being starved – or that I need to be starved.

I guess I don’t have a really clear definition of “in shape.” That’s more or less intentional. Instead of saying I want to get in shape, maybe I should just be trying to be comfortable with my shape while making healthy choices. What do you think?

I like beginnings

The idea of a fresh start is always appealing to me, but especially as we leave 2013 behind (good riddance, in many ways). I’m not the best at keeping resolutions – or necessarily even at making them. This year I have a few broad goals in mind, as well as some specific things I’d like to achieve.

1. Get in shape.
2. Get organized.
3. Get out of debt.
4. Take care of my yard, so it isn’t embarrassing.
5. Create a vertical indoor herb garden for my kitchen.
6. Finish my reading challenges.

It’s so easy to feel motivated at the beginning of the year. What do you do to stay motivated?


If you’re stumbling on this blog because of my story in Spark: A Creative Anthology, there are a few things you should know.

First, I tend to blog more when I’m upset about something. As a result, my recent posts paint an unfair picture of me as a rather bitter and resentful person. Obviously I’m still grieving Christian’s death, but my day-to-day life is pretty mundane. I don’t actually sit around sobbing, shouting, or otherwise suffering. My grief has become a part of me that I can deal with most of the time. Of course, there are incredibly painful moments, but those are nicely spaced out so I’m not overwhelmed. They just happen to be the times when I have something to say, so it ends up here. I promise, though, I’m doing well. I feel plenty of joy and happiness and sometimes even boredom along with the grief.

Second, my oldest brother, Brian, is the genius behind Spark. He had the idea several months ago of using my posts about Christian in Volume III, and he did all the editing that made the story worthy of publishing. It’s beautiful! I think of it as one of the wonderful things that has resulted from Christian’s death.

Third, I started a blog in 2005. It’s still here, deep down in the archives. Don’t feel tempted to go back that far. I was much younger, much less mature, and a much less interesting person than I am now. I’ll summarize the last 9 years for you: Jarom and I dated, got engaged, got married, had Evan, had June, graduated (Jarom with a law degree, I with a bachelor’s degree), bought a house, got a dog, lost Christian. Somewhere in there I also read a lot of books.

Fourth, I really want to help other families who have lost a baby. If you know someone whose baby has died or will die, please send them here! Keep this blog in the back of your mind, because eventually, you or a friend will run into someone else facing the loss of their child. And you can tell them about my blog, that there is a person ready and willing to talk about the experience and listen with real sympathy. Please let me help.

Fifth, a list of four things just didn’t seem long enough. I don’t have much to say for a fifth item. On Monday I rearranged our bedroom furniture (again). I get restless every so often, and I need a big change. My options are usually to rearrange furniture, make a big purchase, go on a road trip, have another kid, get a haircut, or go crazy. Most of those weren’t possible this time, though – I’ve already made a few big purchases this year, I just got back from a road trip, having another kid is really not an option at the moment, and I love my long hair. Oh, and going crazy just isn’t fun. So I got rid of our big desk (I used it for a work space, but I’m not doing any art for a while) and cleared out the clutter that always ends up in our room. Now the bed is made and there are very few things in here – just what I wanted.

Sixth, I thought of one more thing. Isn’t Jarom the hero of the story? He is incredible. This is my favorite picture from our day in the hospital.

Baby Christian-45


In looking ahead to the six-month mark since Christian’s birth, and then to the one-year mark, I’ve wondered how I can commemorate his short life – and, more importantly, how my life has changed since having him. So I have tried to pay special attention to the ways in which I’m different now than I was in March or April. The biggest change I’ve noticed is that I am more willing to believe that every person I encounter is really a person, a person who might be having the absolute worst day of his or her life. I say “believe” because intellectually, I already know that everyone is their own individual and has unique experiences – it’s something else to feel it and acknowledge it. This has made me, I hope, more patient and compassionate, in theory if not in practice.

What I’m thinking of doing, then, is asking my friends and family (and myself) to make an effort to spend Christian’s birthday believing that every person we encounter is really a person, and then treat each person as such. To not dismiss someone because of the way they dress, or where they work, or because I’m in a hurry and don’t want to expend energy being nice.

We still have more than 7 months until then (September 24 will be 5 months since Christian died), so maybe we can do some practice runs before then.

What are your thoughts?


I still haven’t figured out how to be patient, especially with the kids. On days when I’m already feeling lousy, my capacity for patience seems significantly diminished. Take today, for example…

Our new door, courtesy of Jarom’s grandma, was finally being installed, and I’d gotten up around 7:30 since the installer was scheduled for 8. I went to bed early so I’d be rested, but that didn’t happen. And I was on edge because I was worried something would go wrong with the door, or we’d be stuck at home all day while they installed it (which, I realize, is not the end of the world), and also that whole thing about Tiny Baby. The kids were fairly well-behaved the whole time, and I didn’t even notice that it was getting toward the end of the “naptime safe zone.” You know, if I put June down too late, she won’t be tired at bedtime. (By the way, did you catch that I’m talking about June’s naps? She takes them again! Daily! Thank you to whoever prayed for that!!!)

I told June it was almost naptime, to which she sweetly replied, “No, it’s happy time!” As I went to pick her up she jumped – quite forcefully for her size – and slammed her head into my nose. For the second time today. It really hurt…a lot…and I was running out of energy/motivation/positive feelings anyway, so I didn’t exercise patience. I shouted at June, which made her cry, and I unlovingly put her in bed for her nap. I didn’t even look at her, I just shut the door and went in to my bed, where I cried about being a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad mom.

Then I fell asleep.

I woke up a few times, mainly because Evan kept coming in to show me the new Lego thing he’d built, and every time I woke up I was shaking. Not violently, but still – it was weird. June ended up sleeping over 2 hours, and by the time we were both done napping I wasn’t shaking anymore. Sadly, I also didn’t have any more patience. I hoped a nap would do some magic recharge on that.

Good news, though: at bedtime I had both kids clean up their rooms, and aside from supervising, I didn’t help at all. They picked up everything and put it all away. This is big, because it actually requires a lot of patience on my part to let them clean up in their distracted, very slow way. It would be so much quicker to do it myself. But Evan and June both managed to get things tidied (eventually), so maybe I’m making progress – even if I’m far from perfect.


I wasn’t meant to be domestic, I think. I’m not a tidy person by nature, and I’m lazy. But I firmly believe that with effort, people can change . . . which is why I’m trying very hard right now to implement a cleaning routine. I love it when my house is clean – but it seldom is. At this point, I’ll be satisfied with the expected mess that comes with little kids, rather than the overwhelming mess generated by laziness and a lack of order.

I get discouraged really easily, so I often try to tackle an entire at once, end up staying up late to finish, and get burned out, which means I especially don’t want to clean anything ever again. With that in mind, I started this past week by clearing out my storage cupboard and sorting through all of the kids’ toys. I could sit down while I went through toys, and the kids were so happy to see the things I’d stashed in my closet for the past few months that they were only minimally disruptive. Today I cleaned my bathroom, throwing out lotions and expired medicines, moving the not-kid-friendly things up to a top shelf, and reorganizing the cabinets so we can actually get to the things we use most. Then, of course, there was a lot of wiping down and cleaning and taking out trash. And then I tackled my bedroom.

I’d actually made a deal with Jarom at Christmastime that he’d help me get the bedroom completely clean and keep it tidy for 3 weeks. We’ve worked on it a little at a time on the weekends, but today I got it to the point where there’s a box of stuff to donate, costumes that need a storage box, a few things to go in the shed or cellar, and Jarom’s stuff that I didn’t know what to do with. I even cleaned off the pencil marks from where June scribbled on the door shortly after we moved in. Now if I can get these last few things cleared out, I’ll just need to do quick pick-up every night and then make the bedroom/bathroom a once-a-week deep cleaning.

This is a great theory, of course . . . we’ll see how it goes in practice.