Friday, May 27, 2011

Moving and Grooving!

  • Evan started belly crawling successfully around Monday and it's SO fun to watch him! He promptly found himself in the mirrored closet at our pastor's house on Monday (we were there installing Skype for them) and began giving himself kisses. Video, you ask? Why, yes!

video

  • I had another meltdown last week and realized that my biggest stress is feeling that I should literally be doing multiple (incompatible) things at one time. This was a revelation to me. I feel, for instance, that I should be doing the dishes and nursing at the same time. Or doing dishes, nursing and playing with Lilia. Second motherhood question -- Do you ever feel like that? Is that the cause of a lot of stress? How do you handle it? Jeff and I worked out a system of eating breakfast together and making a small to-do list, then tackling it together. So far it's been totally transformational for me NOT to feel like the whole world of our house is on my shoulders.
  • I can't explain it in terms of milestones, but Lilia talks almost like a "big kid" now! It's so crazy! I really enjoy hearing more of what goes on in her head. I am actually loving the negotiations and being-her-own-person stuff. It's not as easy as when she just did everything I said, but it's a lot more interesting and it's making me look at my motives. These kids teach me so much.
  • Dear, dear friends hired a housecleaner to scour our house on Monday. I had no idea how utterly life-changing it would be. Wow! Thank you, Mike and Liz!!! I should say, "my meltdown-free week was sponsored by..."

Friday, May 13, 2011

A Scary Post About Motherhood

(I'm telling myself that I will just click "save" rather than "publish" in order to make myself write this post at all.)

Rachel Held Evans has got me thinking again, this time with a post about her fears of motherhood.

The thing that scares me most is that, in a way, they're all true.

  • Nothing has ever threatened my marriage like having children. Nothing has made me forget who I am like having children. Nothing has scared me more, pushed me more, hurt me more, or changed me more than motherhood.
  • Of course the flip-side that everyone talks about is also true. Most critically, I don't think I knew the depths love could reach until I had children. I have come to a better understanding of grace and communication and priorities and values and pretty much everything else.

How can motherhood unravel me and refine me at the same time? I feel both of those things so keenly and I'm struggling with how to reconcile them.

I was talking about someone at our church nursery changing a poo diaper for me a few months ago and I started to tear up. Why, you ask, would someone cry about a diaper?

Because I am the Poo Person. I am embarrassed to tell you how much of my life revolves around poo, but it's a lot. So when someone else changed a poo diaper it moved me.

Things like this cause me to wonder, Is this what I've come to? I'm a Poo Specialist? What in the hell happened to my life?

Among many other things, I think motherhood can be profoundly disorienting. It's like the love you have for this new little person (or in my case, people) shifts the whole axis of the universe and you don't understand the orbits anymore.

I posted vaguely about some questions I have about motherhood. This first one is not even clear enough to be a question, but it has to do with wondering how being a Christian, an egalitarian and a mother work together in the same space.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

I just had to share. Happy Mother's Day for me:
  • The church nursery gave me a lovely plate with Lilia's handprint and "Happy Mother's Day, 2011" on it.
  • Jeff made me a gorgeous home made brunch again:
  • And my dear Evan turned around in the middle of church, looked at me and said, "Mmmmmammmmma." Big smile.
Perfect day. :)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Questions About Motherhood

I have some questions in my head about motherhood. I'm going to start asking them here. :)

Monday, May 2, 2011

bin Laden, War and Hell

Last night Jeff looked at me and said, "I think I just saw something on MSN that said Osama bin Laden is dead." We were both shocked and waited up for the announcement, and watched in rapt attention as the President explained the events of the day.

It's times like these that I like not having a television, because I knew that TV's everywhere would be showing, "the reaction," and I knew I wanted time for my own reaction to develop without anyone showing me the right way to feel.

My reaction has been surprisingly slow to develop, and to be honest I'm still not sure how I feel.

I was struck by reading Rachel Held Evans' blog on the subject, wherein she made the statement, "Trying to keep in mind that how I respond to the death of my enemies says as much about me as it does about my enemies."

Here are some of my current thoughts:
  • Relief is natural and acceptable. I liken this to women who are abused by a partner. They may leave, but there is always a nagging fear that he will find them or get to them somehow. They often feel guilty for the feeling of relief they have if he dies. I think it's perfectly fine, and different than rejoicing in someone's death.
  • Our President and military have an extremely difficult job, making decisions about the use of force to protect our country and putting themselves in harms way to carry out those decisions. They have worked so hard at this for so long and I think it's right for them (and previous presidents who worked toward this goal) to feel proud that they have succeeded in their goal after a whole lot of sacrifice on their part.
  • My questions about God and Hell have come into greater focus. It's one thing to ask, "Would God send this nice unbelieving person to Hell just for being wrong about Jesus?" and another thing entirely to ask the same question about bin Laden. I still don't know what I believe about Hell.
  • I still have a very uneasy relationship with violence. It appears that this was a near-perfect operation with very little "collateral damage," (although I'm still haunted by the statement I read in one article that one woman was killed when she was used as a human shield.) but I still don't know my personal conviction about doing violence to another person. It's a very difficult question.
  • I'm uncomfortable with the idea of celebrating someone's death.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Milestones and Cuteness

  • Yesterday, Evan clapped for the first time. He's trying to do Patty Cake by himself now.
  • Today, Evan signed "milk" for the first time -- his first sign!
  • Today Jeff made us another raised bed. We're extremely excited about this. We bought two big heirloom tomato plants because we really missed the window for planting seeds or transplants. Here's hoping they stay happy!
  • I went out to a coffee shop for a bit to work on something and while I was gone Lilia was "helping" Jeff fill in the bed. He was using a shovel, she was using a trowel. When I got there she gave me the trowel and said, "Mama help!" like it was a huge treat. I started to shovel with the trowel and she said, "Good job! Good job! Thank you helping me!" Precious. :)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Today

  • Evan ate (and loved!) a whole jar of carrots! He hasn't been that into "big boy food" until last week. I was excited. So was he.
  • We played outside for hours. It was wonderful. Lilia loves our new water table and Evan just likes being out there and watching everything. I also gave Lilia her own "garden" (a big pot full of dirt) and a spoon. She was a happy camper.
  • This is yesterday but I must commemorate: During a bath, Lilia spontaneously stood up, turned around, pointed and said, "Look at my tukis!" She will kill me for posting this in about 11 years.
  • Lilia was extremely excited to see that Evan was still awake when we went in their bedroom to put her to bed. She went right up to his crib and hugged and kissed him through the rails. "Mama look! Evan's awake!" He smiled at her adoringly and she said, "I love you too."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Life Moves Pretty Fast.

So many things are rattling. I hate it when I get behind on my blog!
  • Motherhood is pushing me to the end of myself again. Some days I feel so overwhelmed. Jeff and I are trying hard to work out a way for me not to feel so exhausted so often. It always comes at the end of our week of 4 10-hour days, so the schedule is probably part of it. Sometimes it gets exhausting to keep looking for solutions.
  • We are starting to really put effort into our backyard. Largely because I will soon share my days with two toddlers. Our first raised bed has 23 little sprouts in it (beans, squash, sunflowers, spinach, radishes, nasturtium) and we're planting our second bed tomorrow.
  • Evan has two teeth! Poor guy got them right in the middle of RSV on March 25! Bottom middle two.
  • Lilia grew up overnight again. She is so much older. Tonight she requested "All Creatures of Our God and King" as our hymn before bed. She put her little heart and soul into the "Alleluia" parts. I cried.
  • Jeff has been selected for a wonderful internship-sort-of-position at his work and we are both really excited. It's his chance to move into the networking department (where he wants to be) and also he will have weekends off and get a paid lunch so that he can come home an hour earlier. I am so proud of him!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Updating

So the kids have been really, really sick.

After two trips to the awesome Cornerstone Pediatric Urgent Care and coming home with a nebulizer for Lilia, we went to our wonderful pediatrician, Dr. Jafri, to discover simultaneously that the virus was RSV and Evan had it too. RSV is extremely disconcerting and can turn serious fast so I was a bit overwhelmed with both the treatment and the worry.

Fortunately my parents were able to move their Spring trip and (God bless them!) they jumped right into their truck with the 5th wheel in the back and were all set up in our back yard in less than 48 hours!

Of course they had the house cleaned up and the whole thing going like clockwork in no time flat and now the kids are better and we're having a bit of fun before they leave. Thank God.

Just wanted you, my one reader, to know I haven't forgotten you and will have lots of fun blogs very soon. :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

If I were Oprah, I would make The Perfect Baby Shower Gift and give it away to hundreds of deserving new moms.

Here's what it would have in it:
  • A Baby Pak Diaper Bag. It's a backpack and it's so small but it holds everything! I can do a whole day outing with both babies in this little wonder! And my hands are always free, which is rule with me.
  • A Pikkolo baby carrier from Catbird Baby. This carrier is so versatile it can go from newborn to toddler, no problem. AND you keep your hands free. AND you don't kill your back with one of those stupid baby bucket things. AND babies almost always love it because they're being snuggled all the time!
  • All 4 Baby Signing Time DVD's. These things are amazing. Lilia still signs so much that we're gonna roll it into a second language for homeschooling. They're so well done, the music is not annoying, and your child learns a second language.
  • Of all the books I've read and love, only two would make The Gift: Sleeping Through the Night by Jodi Mindell and Families Where Grace is in Place by Jeff Van Vonderen. Because these two books saved my life.
  • A book of phone numbers for my chiropractor, my lactation consultant, and about 10 grace-filled mommies. :)
There's my list! What's on yours?

Monday, March 7, 2011

Two Under Two

I no longer have two children under two! I just realized this like two days ago.

Lots of folks have asked me about how it was to have them so close together and I thought I should reflect while it's fresh.

So, here are all my reflections and all my unsolicited advice about having two children 18 months apart:
  • I am SO glad we did it. I could not imagine it any other way. I thought it would take me several years to love it, but I actually enjoy it already.
  • Some days are super hard. Early on we had a lot of those days. For us, having lots of help from family and friends early on was critical. For others, it works to do preschool or daycare once or twice a week for "Big Baby." If you're gonna do this, I recommend having an outstanding support system. We are blessed with incredible friends and family.
  • We have been totally saved by babywearing. I find it much easier to get out of the house because I just strap Evan on and then Lilia can either walk or go in the stroller. He rarely fusses because he's where he wants to be, I don't need to worry and my attention can be focused on whatever Lilia's getting into at the moment. ;)
  • Make a "no stress" zone in your house -- completely toddlerproofed so that you can nurse Little while Big plays without ever having to worry about Big getting into something frustrating. We gated off our front room so I could always have an eye on Lilia, even when Evan is nursing or whatever.
  • We have found in talking to others with similar age gaps that jealousy is rarely a serious problem when they're this close together.
  • Get Big into a predictable sleeping routine before Little comes! There are a million ways to do this and I'm not saying have a rigid schedule, but it's really nice to have ONE predictable baby. It is extraordinarily hard when both babies are having trouble sleeping through the night.
  • Get used to having hard conversations with your spouse. Particularly conversations about strategies to meet everyone's basic needs for sleep and food and to keep your marriage alive and well through this phase. Excellent cooperation is essential.
  • Learn how to get out of the house. This felt completely overwhelming to me for a while, but having a backpack diaper bag and a few other essentials was incredibly helpful and sometimes just going to the park is a total Godsend.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

I Can't Believe I Forgot!

I forgot one more big change -- I'm taking the GRE and getting ready to go to grad school!


Please recall, not long ago, that I found out Fuller Southwest is trying to add the MFT program. I got very excited but had no idea what to do about it.

Then recently Jeff worked days instead of evenings for a training, and that week happened to be the week of a Fuller preview night. I felt compelled to go.

That's been the thing I keep saying, "I felt compelled." I can't think of any other way to say it. I know I have a choice, but the Next Right Thing just keeps jumping out at me in a way that I can't justify any other option.

This is not common for me but here I am and I have to do it. I have to do it the same way I had to tell Jeff that I'd fallen in love with him in Spring of 2005. I am compelled.

So I went to this preview night and learned a few things:
1. They are trying to get this program out here but it sounds like maybe a 50/50 shot that it will happen.
2. If it does happen the program will be extremely competitive to get into because they really want the first class through it to be successful -- small class sizes, etc.
3. Fuller is incredibly expensive (I later found out that the other option is equally expensive)

Wouldn't you think I would go home discouraged and giving up on this idea? Me too. But I didn't. I went home astonished, but certain -- certain -- that I now need to take the GRE (will be a requirement) and start working on prerequisite classes. So I'm doing that now.

I have no idea where it will lead but I can't live with myself if I don't do what I feel called to do today. So I'm going to hit the practice math questions and the vocab flash cards on my way to bed tonight. This is so weird.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Turning Pages


Funny Story:

Jeff and I got married after a very long love story and a very short engagement. I have never been more sure of anything in my life.

Except the moment that I walked down the aisle. Then I totally freaked out. All I could think was: FOREVER! What was I thinking??? I am not old enough to make this decision!

Of course I was terrified to tell Jeff how I felt because I was certain it would devastate him. But I was serious about being honest with my husband-of-about-three-hours, so I told him in the car on the way to the hotel.

"Babe, I'm totally freaking out right now. Is that okay? I'm just totally freaking out!"

His response was a harbinger of his beautiful, calming influence on my life ever since:

"Babe, you don't do well with change." Wry grin.



Well, there are a lot of changes going on around here! Since many of my previous posts have been sort of cerebral I thought it was about time I update those who want to know about what's going on "on the ground." Here goes:
  • Lilia's first day in "big gull panties" was Monday! She still wears diapers at sleep times, but this is a big deal for us!
  • Evan is in the "only crawling backward" stage and it's sort of painful to watch. Poor guy! The more he wants something the faster he backs away from it. But it reminds me that we're entering the "moving baby" phase. Crazy. I can't imagine our family without Evan in it, but it seems like he was born yesterday.
  • Jeff had an interview yesterday with the network operations department at his company. It has been his dream to go into networking for some time and he's been going to school for it for a while now, so he is super excited about the potential for this opportunity. The interview went well. Prayers are still appreciated.
As usual when big changes come, I am just sort of holding on for the ride. It's weird that I don't even enjoy good changes. I like them once the thing has had a chance to settle, mind you, but I just don't feel that great until the changing part is over.

Praying my way through and loving my family. I am so proud of their achievements, big and small. :)

Saturday, February 26, 2011

This is a Blessing



Sometimes my days are so hard. I don't mean hard in that I don't want to do them, or tragic in any way. Just hard to finish. Like a long hike. Sometimes, if it's been a very long night, they're hard to start. Sometimes it's just hard to imagine getting up and doing everything that needs to be done -- all the diapers, the meals, the potty trips, the nursing, the dressing, the decision-making. Sometimes I'm on my knees before my day starts, begging God to let me be some kind of light to my children when I feel like I'm just... spent.

But then a light shines in and I can see things clearly.

Strange reference, but it reminds me of the movie "Knocked Up." The father involved is telling the soon-to-be grandfather about the unexpected child he's now expecting. He's devastated as he tells his father that this is a disaster. The grandfather responds by saying that an earthquake is a disaster, his mother having Alzheimer's to the extent she doesn't remember him is a disaster. This is a blessing.

So here I am tonight, exhausted and yet having a moment of clarity about what a blessing my life is. So many things are right with it. I am so loved and unconditionally accepted by my husband and kids. I'm so free to be exactly who I am. I get to raise my two favorite children in the world. I don't miss a thing.

This is a blessing. I'm so grateful to have it.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It Matters

This post on a blog about Egypt really made me think.

In our country it is impolite to discuss politics most of the time. Being politically involved is considered naive at best and a serious character flaw at worst. People who do it are often angry and ill-informed.

The problem is that the more politics becomes a "dirty" subject, the fewer people are running the country. Especially informed and reasonable people. What made our country so different and great at its inception was that we were all supposed to run it.

It never occurred to our founding fathers that we wouldn't want to. That it would be too much work for us all, some day, to keep track of the laws that were being changed and to voice our opinions to our representatives. To vote, even.

I work really hard to be a good citizen. I read a lot of news from good sources (harder and harder to find), I fax and e-mail and call representatives a lot. I post updates on my Facebook that are political in nature even though I know it ruffles feathers.

Why do these things? Why soil my reputation with the dirt of politics? Why upset people who can't tell the difference between disagreement and hatred? Why risk being wrong?

Because all of this matters. It is our job to watch because it is all of us that bear the consequences of these decisions in years to come. Laws on immigration, national debt, taxes, budgets, public education, wars -- these things affect real people every day.

So, how's your citizenship? Do you believe in being politically active? Why or why not?