Introducing: Ramona

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I don’t have a real reason for not writing this earlier, other than a vague “I just don’t want to.” I want Ramona to be MINE MINE MINE and writing about her seems like she belongs to everyone. But, here she is anyway.

Ramona Minaret Hillery was born on September 20. I honestly don’t remember when during the day – maybe evening? I was in labor for what seemed like forever, and she was 8 lb 3 oz (much bigger than my other 3 kids!), so pushing her out was realllllllllly difficult. Ramona was only 18.5 inches, though, which made her a fairly compact newborn.

Birth story, blah blah blah, I don’t feel particularly inclined to write about it at the moment. It was altogether a terrifying, emotional, draining event. The days, weeks, and months that followed were full of anxiety that something would happen to her. But they were also full of cuddling, and adoration, and eat/sleep/repeat cycles (for both of us, I guess).

Our senior year of high school, Jarom and I were on the Academic Decathlon team because we are just that awesome. Our teammates were awesome, too. We have so many fond memories of that year. For our honeymoon, we went back to the Monterey beach condos where we’d stayed on a Decathlon team retreat. We keep in touch, more or less, with most of our teammates, and with our coach. It was also the year that we finally figured out we like liked each other. Yeah, teenagers. Ugh. This story does have a point: it was hard to decide on a middle name for Ramona, and in the end we went with the middle name of one of our teammates. It was a shout-out to all of the friendships we made that year. Also Minaret is just a flippin’ awesome name.

Ramona does not look like I expected. At all. June was born with black hair, and I figured Ramona would have brown hair. I always pictured her that way. It was SO surprising when she came out with quite a lot of orange hair.

She’s 4 months old now. Her hair is longer, but still – as Evan calls it – “mango-colored.” It does look like it might be starting to grow out blonde at the roots. As unexpected as her orange hair was, I’ll be sad if it doesn’t stay that color, for a year or two at least. And her eyes have stayed blue-blue – also unexpected! Evan and June both have brown eyes, and although theirs didn’t look particularly brown until about 8 months, theirs were definitely darker at 4 months than Ramona’s are. I kept crossing my fingers that she’d have green eyes, so I fought any comments about how blue her eyes were . . . but I think it’s time to admit that Ramona has blue eyes. Blue-blue.

Last weekend she suddenly noticed my phone while I was holding her. She’s started reaching and grabbing for objects with definite intention. And a few days ago, I was walking through the house carrying her, wondering why something felt different about carrying her, when I realized that I just had my arm under her bottom – she was holding her head up the entire time.

Stop growing, Ramona!

When Evan and June were babies, I was so impatient for every new milestone. Smiling, laughing, rolling over – I was desperately excited to see the people they were becoming. I feel oddly sad every time Ramona hits a milestone, though. Like a part of her is gone forever. Lost. I think maybe I should see a therapist or something.

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But. Despite all my weird feelings, I cannot get enough of this girl. When I’m not holding a camera in her face, she smiles – all the time. She’s stingy about laughing; today was a lucky day and she laughed for about 3 minutes. Ramona has even been learning to sit in a high chair. Evan and June are NUTS about her. Even Jarom seems to like her ok, so we all agree our kookaburra belongs here!


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.


I am not like other blogs

For better or worse, I don’t have any interest in maintaining a blog that attracts a lot of readers. I actually don’t care if anyone but me reads this (although I know my mom and dad will read it, because they are cool like that). Because I care so little about being a Big Deal Blogger, and because I’m an impressively lazy person, I don’t usually have pictures with my posts, or links, or fun recipes. It’s just me (and occasionally Jarom) writing about life.

Actually, I was skimming through the past few posts recently and overall it was pretty depressing. If I wrote more frequently, you’d have a better glimpse of what life is really like, but the blog makes it sound like I’m still in the depths of despair over Christian.

Such is not the case.

Ramona is soothing, happy sunshine for my heart. She is the joyful center of attention in our house. Certainly, having a new baby has brought up some painful feelings about Christian – the past four months have flown by, and I feel guilty for taking any moment with Ramona for granted. It’s just how life goes, though, you know? You can’t live so intensely. Not every waking moment with Ramona can be sunshine-filled, heart-bursting euphoria. And not every waking moment after Christian was despair-filled, heart-wrenching anguish, either. Thank goodness for all those regular, unremarkable moments in between the anguish and the euphoria.

Anyway, I got off track there. Or maybe I didn’t have a track to begin with.

Right now Ramona and I are vacationing at my sister-in-law’s house in Washington. I’ve never been to Washington before – so green! So rainy! It reminds me a great deal of winters in northern California. This summer, I’m coming back with all the kids, and I’m excited to see how different (or similar) the foresty wetlands are in the warmer months.

Taking a break from nearly all my responsibilities has been wonderful for me. It gives me enough emotional distance to see what I really want to emphasize as a priority in my home, and what things I’ve just gotten stuck insisting we do. It inspires me to spend more quality time with the people I love, doing things we love. And it gives me a much-needed chance to recharge and to figure out how I can be more me. Deep down, I like me a lot – it’s just so tricky to avoid getting bogged down by obligations (real or imagined or self-imposed) and expectations (the same), and body image and envy of others, their talents and their seemingly perfect lives and their got-it-together-ness. Why don’t I have it together yet? Oh yeah, I’m working on it. And this is a great reminder that even as I work on getting the all-encompassing “it” together, I have to make sure it isn’t at the cost of the Really Important Stuff. You know, Jarom and the kids and the compassion I so desperately want to show to others.

I guess this vacation is like one of those giant Pause buttons I always wish for. Life is still happening while I’m here, but I’m not in the thick of it, and my only responsibilities here and now are to feed Ramona and to change her diapers. Those are so easy that I can do one of them in my sleep. The rest of the time, I can reflect on where I am in my life and how I want to help my life continue in its beautiful direction.

This blog post has zero direction, obviously. And you don’t get any pictures, either! So there!