Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Where did one month go?

This is not a question I'm asking. If you're surprised, it's because, as a new mother, I know exactly where the time went. I was there for almost all of it, awake - sort of - and aware - in my oft sleep-deprived way - of everything new, everything adorable, everything stinky. I don't feel like I've missed out on moments with John; I am extremely grateful to have had them. I want to recount some of what I've learned, but my brain doesn't want to work that hard right now. So instead, I'm posting pictures. And here they are:

One month old.


Less than happy about posing with a candy cane


Learning to play


Some of the best facial expressions


And my all-time (so far) fave

Monday, November 29, 2010

In a word...

Last week was dramatic. Anything that could change did. Emotions were leaking all over the place, among other things (*wink*). My incompetence stared me in the face and sneered multiple times a day. And I hurt, in several places.

This week is, in a word, better. I'm less emotional, slightly more competent - don't laugh. And I'm developing some form of routine, not so much with feeding times or naps, but more in the area of comfort with the unexpected. I know - it's easy to say when I have no schedule - maternity leave rocks. Gives us all some time to adjust. By 7 weeks, when I go back to work, I know John will be sleeping from 10pm to 6am, with no diaper blowouts, and only one outfit a day. And he'll also be teaching the other babies Chinese and Arabic. But we'll give him until 6 months to do that.

John outgrew newborn diapers at about 10 days. He's now in size 1's. I felt like I was watching him walk into kindergarten. "There he goes; he's all grown up now." And then back to reality, because he still poops his pants. Somebody hand me a wipe; better make that two.

And now for a picture break:

What do you do when your kid is this cute?
I have no idea.

I'm still deeply committed to not wish time away. When it's 3am and he hasn't slept for more than 30 minutes at a time, it's tempting to yearn for the days of the future when he will sleep for 5, maybe 6, or as a teenager, 12 consecutive hours. Think of all the sleep I will get then...But I come back down quickly because these moments are fleeting. Right now, he is quite wobbly and can't hold his head up so he has no choice but to flop onto my chest after dinner and lay there, asleep, until I bring myself to take him to bed. Sometimes I just let him stay there for an hour or two. Why rush it? Everyone says it goes so fast and I want to be in the moment, enjoy it all, as much as possible. It really is hard to do when you're sick (with a cold like I have) and tired (cause it's 3:30 in the morning), but I'm doing a fairly good job of it, I think.

And now, at the risk of appearing completely superficial...

Me at 40 1/2 weeks/Me at 2 weeks post-birth.

Three cheers for breastfeeding, folks. For my someday and almost-mama friends who read this blog, breastfeeding really is a magic weight-loss cure. I hope this is an encouragement to you. I know when my friend, Kim, told me that after less than 3 months she weighed less than her pre-baby weight, just from breastfeeding, I was shocked. And thrilled. Now I think it's totally possible. I still have some shape to regain and my belly isn't totally flat yet. In fact, if I were famous, my belly would be on the cover of some tabloid with a headline about "another baby bump". Seriously. Since I'm not famous, however, I'm allowed to be happy with these results. And so I am.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What a difference a day makes

Day 1, Monday: Let's cut to the chase. Labor was intense. About 36 hours of pre and early labor yielded only 2 cm dilation. Disappointment. My body was so tired when I got to the hospital that I ended up vomiting multiple times from pain and probably exhaustion. Baby's heart rate dropped below 100 and everyone got nervous. They put me on IV fluids and oxygen, confining me to the hospital bed for several hours. They broke my water when I got the 3 cm, maybe only out of pity, and the contractions continued - strong. I opted for Stadol, which I thought might dull the pain of the contractions. I felt drowsy, but as far as I could tell, I felt every contraction. Mom and Josh took turns sitting with me, praying for me, and letting me squeeze the circulation out of their hands. Not sure how many times they tagged out but I bet their hands needed some chiropractic work when it was over.

This was not the natural birth I planned. But God redeemed it, baby and I stabilized and I finished my labor in the birthing tub. At 12:51am we welcomed John David into the world. What a moment! I thought I would cry but it was so surreal I didn't know how to feel. He was beautiful - still is - with that head full of hair I dreamed about. The pain of labor gone, my reward lay on my chest, sucking his fingers. Perfection.


I was so high after the birth that even though I'd hardly slept in two days, I stayed up until 7am just to look at John, reply to text messages and attempt breastfeeding for a second time. I slept one hour and 45 minutes all day. We had visitors and nurses and doctors shimmying in and out. It was wonderful to rejoice with friends and family. John was so loved, so welcome.

Day 2, Tuesday: We went home today, somewhere around 36 hours after birth. Nonna (my mom) picked us up at the hospital. She would be staying with us all week. I had no idea what a difference that would make.

John in his BundleMe. It's a little big - I think he looks like a baby eagle in this picture, waving a wing at the camera.

We decided to have our home/small group that night so everyone could meet and greet the baby. We thought this might divert a steady stream of activity throughout the week if everyone could see him at once. We still hadn't slept much at this point.


Day 3, Wednesday: Hormones, post-labor pain in the "bottom" region, a week's worth of minimal sleep and embarking on the most life-changing week ever in my 29 years = the perfect storm. Breastfeeding hurt, sometimes, but it was so inconsistent and I didn't know what I was doing. Had my first meltdown on the couch, mom and Josh trying to console me as I confessed my pain and incompetence at the whole parenting thing. Nonna comforted me.

In other news: I guess my milk "came in" today. My mom said I would probably feel it but I didn't. Just felt swollen but all my other body parts were in strange form so I didn't really know what was happening.


Day 4, Thursday: John's first visit to the pediatric doc was uplifting. Her eyes opened wide when she heard that he was already back to his birth weight after two days. "When did your milk come in?" she exclaimed. I didn't know - it must have been that strange feeling from yesterday. All was well with John. He was healthy.

That night brought more tears as I forget the good news that John gained 5 oz in two days, which is an excellent indicator that I am not such a bad mother after all. Mom more or less sent me to bed at that point. There was no reasoning with a sleep deprived, hormonal female.


Day 5, Friday: John gave Nonna the royal treatment today as he launched a fountain of pee into the air, dousing everything within reach. Now in the laundry: his outfit, swaddling blanket, the changing table cover and the curtain.
Josh's attempts at diaper changing received a similar result.

My faithful, to-the-rescue friend, Kim, brought nipple shields by the house on the way to work. Breastfeeding was a more enjoyable experience for everyone, especially John - it seemed he managed to get quite a bit more milk than usual with them. I was hurting less than normal, which was a nice change.

Kim and Mike brought Luke over for dinner. As parents we decided that since we are friends, our sons who are three months apart, will also be friends. Best friends...but no pressure. Babies have a different way of showing interest and affection. It might seem from the picture that they didn't have real chemistry, but I beg to differ.

Saturday, Day 6: Nonna went home. We were so sad to have her go; she was sad to leave too. She cried a little as she confessed her gratitude that we had invited her to be with us all week. We couldn't believe she was thanking us since she spent her whole week cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and holding John so we could rest or do other things. Mothers are amazing creatures - I'm so thankful for mine!

Sunday, Day 7: Gramma (Josh's mom) returned for another snuggle session with John. Aunt Tish, Aunt Sandy and cousin Brayden joined her. John is the first grandbaby on both sides. He is long-awaited and not at all under-appreciated.
Gramma and John.

Day 8, Monday: John is one week old today. Happy one week, little baby. Ack! I love him more every day. Just so adorable - I need to invent a new word for how fantastically wonderfully cute he is!
Tried to do a photobooth photo shoot with John but he was a bit wobbly from having just eaten. Here's what we got. My favorite is the one where his head is flopped into my chest. He's shameless. And I LOVE him!


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Is this it?

I've been having contractions all day, since about 6am. They've been anywhere from maybe an hour apart to as close as three minutes. Seems like they are increasing in intensity as the day progresses. I know these irregularities are signs of early or pre-labor and can even go on for days. I'm hoping they don't because this is not comfortable, and I'm not sure how much sleep I'm gonna get tonight. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to get a post up in the midst of all this.

I've been drinking my raspberry leaf tea throughout the day - gotta tone up that uterus. My birth ball, heating pads and warmed-up rice sock are all within feet. I'm finding that movement during contractions is best: walking, swaying, standing, whatever. Sitting still is not good, makes the pain more intense somehow, like it's all I can think about when I'm sitting there. And heat really is about as great as they say.

Although I wouldn't have chosen to have such a gradual entry into labor, I'm really thankful for the slow introduction. It's nice to be able to gain strength, practice my breathing and relaxation with the smaller contractions so when they intensify, I will have some techniques to lean into. My doula, Rachel, has been a wonderful resource today, very encouraging and nice to have as close as my phone. And Josh has been with me almost all day, which I've loved - lots of quality time, for one. He's been holding my hand if I need it, offering to get me things, helping me stand up since I injured my right foot last night. And maybe most meaningful, acknowledging how much work labor is. He's a good man. I love you, Josh.

Since starting this post, I've had five contractions. Not bad for about 25 minutes. Every time I have one I have to set the laptop down, stand up, strap my rice sock to my back or belly and sway. Oh, and remember to breathe. Funny how hard that can be when your body gets so tight. Seems like the frequency is definitely picking up here, but it's been off and on all day, slowing down and speeding up in seemingly random patterns. I know this is all normal, thanks to Rachel, but overall, I feel like this is going somewhere and that's a good feeling. Today has certainly been good progress, although I'm not sure when the next step is going to come along. My next entry may be pictures of my child, or just more of this sort of thing. Let's all hope for pictures. :) More to come...

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Plan B

Well, it's Thursday, November 11. (11/11, if you care - I do.) I hoped and prayed he would come on his due date. I hoped and prayed he would come the next day, or the next. We are now three days past the due date - yes, that silly date I said I would pay no mind to - and I'm not sure what to hope and pray for now.

I had no idea how hard this week would be. I saw multiple friends and acquaintances struggle as they drifted further and further past their due dates, and I did not understand what all the whining was about. Now I do. It's uncomfortable. You're ready to be done. I get it now. The last two weeks before my due date were wonderful. I had that rosy perspective I talked about in my blog entry, the focus on thankfulness and enjoying the moments. But something happened when the calendar hit November 8, and I don't think it was the time change.

So, I decided to move my maternity leave up one day, which means it starts today. Although I'm not officially "maternal" yet, not having to go back to work tomorrow in my larger than life state does take the pressure off. I'm back to realizing that now I have the gift of time to either squander or enjoy. And I'm going to enjoy it. I am going to read and catch up with friends, take walks and finish thank you notes. Oh, and sleep in. That will be a rare opportunity soon enough. I have no idea when he's going to come, but I do know that it will be in the next 10 days. If not, they're going to induce me and so neither of us will have a choice. So I'm going to try the optimism thing again. I think it counts more when it's hard anyway.

Almost don't look pregnant from the front, right? :) Just let me think that.
Oh, but I am!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ready, Set, Slow Down

Baby's estimated arrival date is two days away. There's a sense of expectation and uncertainty in everything I do. I finish my work completely each day, making sure there aren't any emails to reply to, patient notes updated, and now, even all my files are where they should be. I had my entire November schedule cleared so baby could have the luxury of neatly arriving any time after October 31. He didn't come last week so I was blessed with time for clearing out the ceiling cobwebs of unfinished jobs. I wasn't guaranteed that time, but I was grateful to get it.

It feels like all this rushing about and preparing for baby is heading straight into a season of slowness. Next week I have no plans, except work on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, if he hasn't come, of course. I will come home at the end of the night, light candles, drink tea, invite friends over. I might even cook. I know having a baby at home will be an earth-shattering adjustment, having my life revolve around sleep and food and poop. And none of that will be mine. What a change! My last day of work is November 12, unless baby debuts sooner, so I will have even more rest to look forward to if my waiting is prolonged. I'm creating a win-win situation for myself so the likelihood that I lose my mind in a delay is significantly diminished: either baby comes and I am off work and happy to be with him or he waits but I am off work anyway, not waddling through the halls, wondering how many trips from the office to the bathroom it might take to stimulate labor. It's a good plan, I'm sure of it.

Even though it's been busy around here, I've noticed my love and appreciation for Josh swelling up in a brand new way. He has been a domestic diva and handy man in the same day, fixing the furnace and whipping up pumpkin pies, gourmet pizza or pot roast - whatever the day called for. He often greets me at the door and offers news of some new thing he's accomplished for the day - appears he is nesting too. I'm not sure where the time came from, but despite our usually hectic schedules, this week we found time for ourselves to cozy up and enjoy each other's company. I didn't think we would have time for this so close to baby, but we do and I am so thankful. Knowing our lives are about to change so much motivates me to soak him up all the more.

I've had a strong sense of timing through the past few weeks. Although I knew that technically baby could come at any minute starting on week 37, so far I could tell that it was not yet time. I left work each day ready to be gone for 7-8 weeks, but if you asked for my honest opinion, I was quite sure I would be there the next day. This past week, Josh and I had meetings, appointments or groups every night as usual, sometimes both, but I was able to focus on them because I knew "it's not time yet". Most moments I feel calm and unhurried, no need to force the process. Perhaps this is all the prayers for grace at work. So thank you!


Sunday, October 31, 2010

Grace for the moment

Juno is not going to happen today. But thankfully, rest is.

I decided not to stress about tracking down that elusive orange and white striped shirt. It was too much work, and I would rather save my energy for labor. The baby room is finished, except that we need to get his changing table moved in under the window. But that's minor. His clothes are organized, thanks to my dear friend, Kim. His mural is jungly, colorful and splashed all over two of the walls, thanks to Jazzy. His crib is sturdy and built, and his dresser is a delightful monkey brown, thanks to my husband. And thanks to me, baby is cozy and safe in his domed incubator. For how much longer I do not know. I only know that I've been telling him for a while he cannot wait until after Nov. 11. Now I know why - my OB will be pheasant hunting and I would much rather not give birth with the to-be-announced on-call doctor whom I've never met, thank you very much.

Here are a few baby room pics to satisfy your curiosities: The crib: thank you, Josh.

The dresser: thank you, Kim.

Me in front of the glider, thanks to Linda (my mom-in-law) and a happy yellow giraffe, thanks to Jazzy - I spend a lot of time in this corner of the room, taking in the color and the silence and the idea that one day soon, a baby will occupy this little space. Can't wait to see his face and snuggle him up close.

This is me today, baby still tucked up high despite my efforts to walk him down further into my pelvis. He will drop when he is ready, and I guess I can thank him for delaying my waddling. I do waddle, but not unless I'm tired. If you look closely, you can probably see that my belly button thinks the baby is done. So it's only a matter of time.


I visited a photo blog today with the story of a beautiful home birth. I cried. I always do. I'm not having a home birth, but I am aiming for a natural one, and there is something so compelling about the strength of the woman in labor. Especially one who decides to go through the intensity of naturally birthing her child. I swear it's not the sense of martyrdom that inspires me. I just feel I want to do this, even though I can't fully explain why. So I'm prepared for a natural birth mentally, but emotionally, my goals are happy and healthy baby and mama. And I will do whatever I need to do to get that.

As for my goals to rest and enjoy myself and the last few weeks pre-baby, I think I've done fairly well. I was falling apart-ish on Thursday and Friday, but mostly because I was tired and four ten hour days in a row with long nights to boot is hard on a girl. Especially girl with 25 extra pounds condensed somewhere in her mid-section.

Yesterday was beautiful though, rejuvenating. Walked in the park with Alison, then Kristen cut my hair so that it's light and swaying again. Kim came over with 3 month old Luke and helped me organize my baby dresser, which I had made to be an insurmountable task. She proudly stood next to each finished drawer and admired her work, and I couldn't help but agree. Tiny onesies and shirts and sleepers, set in rows according to age and size and type of clothing. I will never cease to be impressed by people who enjoy organizing; I hope to always have them for friends.

I believe you and I can all expect our tiny, adorable addition to arrive within the next 8-10 days. Please pray that he does, and pray that I will continue to walk in this beautiful surrender and soak up the grace available for every moment.

Monday, October 25, 2010

The last few weeks

[[Hoping I can make this costume happen by the weekend. How often can you dress up as Juno for Halloween? And look, I'm due this holiday season too. :) ]]

Well, I was going to call this post "The last two weeks", but realistically, I have no idea when our little guy will get here. Due dates are funny things. I think they should be called Baby Arrival Estimates. If something is "due" at a certain time, then any time before that is "early" and any time after that is "late". But that's such a North American thing, trying to time nature. Seriously. Who does that?

Because of this cultural misunderstanding, I've watched several of my friends and acquaintances deal with varying degrees of frustration while in the last few weeks of their pregnancies. Facebook status updates exposed their struggles. I know that a lot of people simply get uncomfortable and just want that part to end, and I can't really speak to that because I'm not uncomfortable, actually. I sleep well most nights and have minimal pain, with the exception of the sensation of my pelvis separating. I even feel attractive, which is something of a gift, I think.

So anyway, I didn't want to be anxious or stressed like I've seen so many other women become. I didn't want to spend the last few weeks before baby wringing my hands, pacing, pissed off at my helplessness to control the situation. At first I thought if I distracted myself with my "babymama bucket list", spending the time check off a bunch of fun things I won't be able to do after baby, maybe that would help. At church yesterday God gave me a new perspective. (I like this one better.) The waiting period before baby, I learned, is supposed to be like Advent. Let me explain. During Advent each year, we prepare our lives and hearts for the really big gift that God gave us in Jesus. In real life, two thousand-ish years ago, only Mary and Joseph got ready for Jesus, but his birth impacted the whole world. Here I am, in Kansas in October of 2010, and I'm waiting for my little baby to come too. He is a gift to me, to Josh, to the world. As are all children.

So what do in the waiting? The trick, I believe, is to let myself long for the arrival of the baby while simultaneously resting in God and trusting His timing. I have heard plenty of suggestions on how to stimulate labor and if I googled, I could find thousands more. But I want to try my hand at surrender, at letting God decide our baby's birthday. Not that I'm going to take off work and sit on the couch, waiting for labor to start. But I want to find the balance of letting myself go in longing to see and hold our little one, and yet still feeling happy and content in the moment. I know, I know, it sounds impossible. But so far, I've exceeded my own expectations for health and enjoyment of pregnancy. So why not imagine that I could enjoy these next two or three weeks? I'm going to start there.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Nesting and posing

Baby Room from Josh Siders on Vimeo.

In case you would like to see the baby room and the progress we've made so far. Don't worry: a crib is coming. He will not be sleeping on the floor. Password for viewing is: baby room. Yes, you do need the space in there.

I got some maternity pictures taken yesterday. They're here if you're curious.
I'm quite happy with them. I found a picture on the internet of this lovely, pregnant woman and I knew that style was what I wanted. I'd been procrastinating on taking the pictures because I knew it would take me an hour to get ready, curl my hair, and the works. It was hard to get motivated, but that picture I found was the kicker for me. My good friend and super talented photographer pal, Emma, took the pictures in the baby room and I had them in mostly edited form by the end of the night. They are still a few that we will touch up or probably change the background. But you will get the gist of it. There are about 50 in the album so if that overwhelms you, just click fast. Or just check out a couple. But I thought I would share them since I was so happy to finally get them.

In other news, I'm having a pleasant last few weeks of pregnancy. Not sure what I was expecting, but I did think I would be much more uncomfortable or grouchy than I've been. Instead I've been rather at peace, enjoying myself and taking time to listen to the silence that will be a memory soon enough.

Don't get me wrong: I'm looking forward to the arrival of our little man. Josh and I look at each other several times a week and one of us will give the other the countdown. "Only five weeks left!" We will say say, incredulous, but at the same time, we both know we have no idea what is about to happen. No matter if I am three days or three months from his birth, I still have no frame of reference for parenting, for love and diaper changing, for birth and breastfeeding. I am grateful for the patience and grace God is giving me. I can tell I am being prayed for, so thank you for your prayers. I can feel them deeply.

And before I go, congratulations to my good friend, Ingrid, and her hubby, Mike. They found out they're having a girl today. I'm excited for her. Ings and I went through a lot together as we waited on God for our babies. I'm just really happy for them, and if you're interested, Ings, I'm sure I'll have oodles of wisdom on parenting in the three months between when our kiddos get here. Go ahead, ask me anything....starting in five weeks, that is.

Friday, August 20, 2010

28 weeks: The Babymoon

About two and a half days into our babymoon in northern California. Started in Napa on Wednesday after meeting up with friends. Needless to say, I only got to take deep inhales of the vineyard offerings. It was a worthy sacrifice, but difficult to be sure. Yesterday we spent the day in Bodega Bay and the surrounding area. We tried our hand at whale watching, but the fog prevented us from seeing far enough into the bay. One of our friends was willing to join me in the water, despite the sweater-demanding temperatures. Here's a few pics from the day:

Blair and I in the water - the brave ones.



The belly, now quite visible, thanks to the pop. Happened two weeks ago. There goes the wardrobe.

Josh and I at Goatrock Beach, near Bodega Bay. The water/weather were quite chilly, but a water baby's gotta get in. What could I do?

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Parenting 101: Raising a Puppy

Over the past couple months or so, I've been increasingly aware of the fact that having a puppy is preparing me, in a small way, to be a mother to a small human. Some of the similarities between puppy parenting and human parenting are barely visible, while others are laughably identical. I've chronicled some of these observations below.

At some point in their lengthy careers, mothers for millenia have claimed to own a pair of eyes in the back of their heads. This sounded like a suspicious assertion to me, but after being the mother of a puppy for the past six months, I've realized that, indeed, I now have them. Granted, they are still a little out of focus since I've not cost the last few times Bear peed on the carpet or snagged one of my ear plugs as a chew toy. For the most part, however, slight changes in sound, sudden movements across the hallway, or a general awareness that "things are not as they ought to be" are all daily occurrences in my life as Bear's mom. So that second pair of eyes, they're there, opening slowly, waiting for the tiny person who will certainly require them.



I didn't grow up with a dog. Our first pet was a hamster named Esther, whom I purchased while I was in my first year of college. I lived at home at the time, which did not bode well for Ester due to presence of pet-curious sister and the nearly perpetual pet-free nature of my parents' home. During that year or so, I gained a glimpse of what it was like to be responsible for another something, something that was not myself. Feeding her, changing out her cedar shavings, making sure her exercise ball did not roll down the stairs - caring for Esther was often dull. But it had to be done. After we adopted Bear, my responsibilities multiplied. And so did the joy of having a pet. Together Josh and I feed Bear, take him on evening walks, clothe him (although with little success since he usually chews the Snuggie off before the velcro patches even touch), and dream up ways to make him happy. If this isn't a peek into our future as parents, well, I truly have no idea what I'm doing.

Another skill I'll need with the baby is the ability to differentiate between cries and various other sounds. Bear is giving me a quick lesson in this as I learn how to discern the nuances of his communication. There's the "please play with me" bark, the "please let me out to pee" bark, "the oh my gosh I'm about to pee on the carpet" whine, the "I'll have what she's having" bark/puppy eyes request for food, among many others. Bear is a fairly verbal dog, but unfortunately he only knows one word: "Ruff". We are working on this, of course, as we fancy all our children to be bilingual. For now though, the task of translation is a constant one.

Perhaps one of the most best puppy-baby similarities is that the same person (or animal) who annoys me greatly one minute can charm my heart the next. One minute Bear is crashing through the kitchen, slipping and sliding into the cabinetry, begging for food and causing a general ruckus. The next minute he's worn himself out completely, tucked under the kitchen table, sweetly gnawing on a rawhide or nodding off to sleep. It's incredible that he can go from feeling like a terrible nuisance to an adorable ball of fluff in a matter of seconds. It's like I forget that I wanted to banish him to the backyard only moments before, and I find myself exclaiming how cute he looks or bending down to nuzzle him. I think this may be one of my greatest gifts as a parent: the ability to see more than a mayhem and chaos-causing noisemaker, but instead a cuddly, fun-loving, bundle of joy who, remarkably, looks a lot like me.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Gratuitous

My friend/roommate, Rachel, has an excess of swimsuits like I have never seen. This is one that actually fits me. I put it on and suddenly felt the urge to don my little black heels and have a mini photo shoot. I figured I should take advantage of my camera-courage since these moments are usually short-lived. There was obviously no way I was going to post these on facebook, but since I have an almost purely female audience here, I felt a little safer. Here's what Josh captured from a couple minutes in our hallway. Just be aware, these are way too racy for a pregnant woman, and altogether unnecessary. But let's just call this, "Victoria Secret's 'Knocked Up'" swimsuit line.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Smatterings

I now understand why white men in the sixties did not want to employ women.
It's because we can get pregnant. And pregnant women are cranky, hungry, tired, and significantly less productive. And we walk slowly, with a waddle. For all of you who are either productive pregos or simply not pregnant, I apologize for the gross over-generalization. Let's blame it on all this estrogen.

On the flip side, it seems I get some amusing glances from passersby these days. Looking as obviously pregnant as I do - thank you very much - folks take notice and smile sweetly, as if I'm a little old lady or some other moderately helpless being. The other look is a look of knowing, as if they realize I have no idea what I just got myself into. Those are a little irritating. If you see me, please don't do that. Or if you must, wait until I'm not looking.

I feel like the baby is going through growth spurts starting every Thursday night and lasting through the weekend. This could be entirely imaginary, but I swear I get full more quickly and have trouble catching my breath after a few steps when the calendar hits Friday. And did I mention how heavy I feel? I've only gained eight pounds, but it might as well be fifty. I'm going to have to invest in some comfy shoes, moonwalkers or the like. Walking weightless would be grand.

Last night I had a birth dream. I was standing in a small tub with my friend, Jessica, behind me, supporting me. She had just had her baby maybe hours before. The nurse could see I was about to go into hard labor, so she ran out of the room to get me some vodka. Not sure what kind of hospital they were running there. It was time to push so I did, just once, and out he came. And it didn't even hurt. He was beautiful. I looked at him and eyes open, he looked back. I turned to Jessica and said, "I dreamed he would look this way." So we shall see.

Whattoexpect.com sent me an email suggesting that dads could now hear the baby's heartbeat by listening to your belly. "Yea, right!" I thought, but I told Josh to try it anyway. What do you know? He heard the baby's little heart, much faster than mine, and he tapped out the rhythm on my belly so I could hear it too. Hurrah!

Around our house, the high five is an essential communication staple practiced by Josh, me and the dog. Well, Bear's high five is more like a high ten since he gets on his hind legs and presses both paws up toward your hands, but you get the picture. It seemed only right that the baby should learn high five as soon as possible, even before we are skin to skin. Last night Josh laid his hand on my belly and said, "High five, baby". *Bump* went my tummy. We laughed, wondering if it was a fluke, but after four total attempts with consistent "high fives" from the baby, we knew he knew. He is indeed one of us.

I realized a couple nights ago, just for a moment, that my life is indeed about to change. Big time. My prayers, my thoughts, my time, my energy will be swallowed by approximately eight tiny pounds of squishy, giggly, pooping flesh. The money I spend on me will go to him. The time I have for myself - hardly any as it is - will belong to him. The prayers I pray for me will transform into shotgun pleas for wisdom on how to calm him, clean him, raise him to love God and keep his room clean. I have the strong suspicion it will only make sense to give all these things to him, that love will be the strongest compulsion. But I have no idea what this feels like, to love something this much that I give up everything. And gladly, or at least most of the time so. But I have a feeling that this is the good stuff, where the real rewards in living hide.

Here's the 24 week belly update:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Doula-la

As I watched The Business of Being Born, I was briefly introduced to a doula. Originating from ancient Greek, doula means "woman's servant", and this person's role is to provide emotional and physical support and advocacy for a woman in labor. In the film, the New York couple who used a doula in their birth appeared to be the pseudo-granola, yuppie types. Since the doula is not a midwife, or nurse, she does not make medical decisions during the birth process. She is simply present for assistance to the birthing mother, a sort of labor attendant. I scoffed. Only high maintenance, coastal women would need a doctor or midwife and a doula. Goodness.

I proceeded to dive into the natural birth process with abandon. There would not be any needles, drugs or gut-slicing (graphic, I know) in my child's birth as long as I have a say in it. I bought Childbirth without Fear, after my friend's recommendation, and enrolled in an online class on natural childbirth. The third session of the class re-introduced me to a doula. I skimmed the material half-heartedly. I wouldn't need this information.

After much searching for local midwives, I was disappointed to discover there were none to be found. I wondered who would fully support my desire - and grand efforts - to have a natural birth, if my doctor was only partially on the wagon. I talked with a woman at church who had attempted natural birth with her first child, but due to complications, required a Cesarean. She told me she used a doula during her birth, and rattled off a name or two. Talking to a real, live mother, I heard the word "doula" differently this time. The doula she named was here in town, a Christian, which was important to me, and someone this woman trusted. I got her information and contacted her that evening. I browsed her blog and pored over her website, learned everything I could about her. And I surprised myself. I fell in love. Or deep appreciation, perhaps.

I realized that a doula can give be there to give me what I've been trying to extract from my poor husband this whole time: real empathy, compassion, competence, advocacy for the birth process I want, ensuring I'm always informed. She can even help me be comfortable - as much as possible - and give Josh guidance on how to help. Best of all, this is her job. I won't be forced to rely on some unwitting family member or friend to provide these services. We will all be free to gracefully glide through birth - yes, I know this is optimistic - and enjoy the baby when he is born. What a gift!

I'm planning to meet with the woman I hope will be my doula in a couple weeks. Is it weird to say that I like her already? Well, I do. Here's to a change of heart.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

For Ingrid

Smile!


Just watched got my pregnant, emotional brain rocked watching The Business of Being Born. Wow. I laughed, I cried twice. Now I have some real research to do. I think I'm sliding quickly back toward my hippie, Oregonian roots. Once the emotions come down, I'll be raiding the experience closet of an OB nurse friend of mine whom I trust deeply. I need advice. This birthing thing may not be as scary as I thought. I know for sure there will be no epidural, no pitosin and no C-section, unless the life of baby or me is threatened. How I will accomplish this is something of a mystery. But I am determined to enjoy birth, to be present, to remember it, even if - correction - even though it will hurt. This kind of pain is worth it. I'm sure of it.
Try as I might - and Lord knows I have tried mightily - I've had difficulty procuring a significant amount of pregnancy empathy from my husband. Perhaps this is because he is not pregnant. I very much want to be understood so I work overtime to create word pictures and comparable scenarios so he can "experience" my particular symptoms. I tell him how it feels like my internal organs are getting shoved up into my rib cage. I describe in extensive detail the stretching of my skin after a big meal. Despite my grand efforts, he would rather I stop with the overly graphic imagery and consult with my fellow pregos instead. Girls, I need help. Although it appears he may be unwilling, he is simply unable to comprehend the mystery, the wonder, the weirdness that is pregnancy.

I talked to my friend, Jessica, who is only a few weeks behind me in pre-momhood. We shared our mutual experiences attempting to talk our husbands into feeling pregnant. She’d had no success either. It appears there is a pattern here. We decided to band together, have a telephone book club with Childbirth without Fear, empathize, whine and support each other. She has a midwife and is neck-deep in natural childbirth techniques, literature and whatnot. I haven’t made up my mind yet. My mother had back labor during all four births but chose to labor naturally. Either she is a glutton for punishment or has an other-worldly tolerance for pain. I am not a fan of pain, or discomfort for that matter, and I feel like I want to keep that epidural needle on standby, just in case I freak out.


This morning as I talked with Josh about the birthing process, I talked round and round about birthing methods and how I hoped for his informed participation. It took about 20 minutes before I realized what I truly wanted. I knew it was the real issue because I started crying. Typical, I know. What I wanted was someone with me. I feel alone in this pregnancy thing, even with my husband’s support and friends with babies and all the stories from women who have gone before me. I want to know that the labor and the pain and the experience matters to Josh and that he would be willing to sit with me in it, and not bail if it gets messy. This he finally understood. Feels nice to be staring at the same page.


I still haven’t picked a childbirth method. I don’t know very much yet. I’m still scared. But knowing that my man has my back, and my belly, and whatever else may proceed from there, puts my little mind at ease.


And since you're all wondering if I actually do look pregnant, as I've begun to claim, here's a bit of evidence:

Saturday, July 3, 2010

"Strange things are happening to me...ain't no doubt about it."

The line from the first Toy Story soundtrack seems appropriate at the moment. I'll explain.

Baby's been in a growth spurt, went from half a pound to a pound in just two weeks. Incredible. And oh, can I feel it too. The skin across my abdomen is stretched out like canvas over a frame, tighter and tighter and...ouch, tighter. I didn't realize I would be able to feel the growth on the outside like this. People talk about how a pregnant belly "pops", and it sounded cute and fairly painless, like some quick, overnight happening. Not so. I'm not sure if it helps, but I'm adding globs of lotion and oil to my belly on a regular basis, hoping that somehow the extra moisture will ease that strange stretching sensation. And the marks it threatens to leave behind.

Josh could feel Baby last night. Finally. Two, brief bumpety-thumps beneath his hand, then baby quit, but it was something. I've had him to myself for the past five weeks. So glad to share the magic.

The past couple weeks, Baby and I have been having fun with a Morse code sort of interaction. He can’t talk to me, but he can tap. And so this is what we do. He pushes out, I push in. It’s our first game. I imagine that in addition to playing with him, I am teaching him some sort of cause and effect rule, or the law of physics: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Move over, Baby Einstein. Of course, I can’t always push back whenever he moves so there goes that idea. Regardless, it really is so fun to have him busting a move, bouncing, rolling, whatever sorts of things he does in there. The mystery that is growing inside of me, a human life and soul – may it never cease to amaze and confound me.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Registered


Baby registry fave so far. This kid is gonna be a sharp dressed little man to be sure.

Only a little over four months til he gets here. I was told by my co-worker, Evelyn, that I've started nesting. I'm not exactly sure what the symptoms are, but apparently I'm in. In my defense, Josh has been buying baby clothes almost every chance he gets. So far, he's bought jammies, socks, a hat and a Beatles onesie. I only bought baby clothes once, then I cut myself off since I knew all the friends and family would want to buy those first. So far, I've been right. Last weekend I received pint-sized gear from both grandma's and my cousin. And so it begins.

In other news, I'm experiencing the joys of finally being recognized a pregnant person. Co-workers, patients, friends and acquaintances are reaching out to pat my expanding belly or congratulate me on looking pregnant, sort of. Recently I thought to eliminate any ambiguity as to what is behind my protruding waistline by designing a t-shirt with the tag line, "Baby, not beer". This may not be necessary though, as I'm reaching the 5 month mark which, from what I hear, is when the inevitable "pop" occurs. I go from looking possibly pregnant to positively pregnant. I'm really going to try embrace the pregnant me, wear the glow and bump with pride. I'm going to remember that I've been jealous of all visibly pregnant people up to now, thought they were adorable. I'm about to be that adorable pregnant girl. Will I get insecure about a misshapen body or will I enjoy my new life-giving curves? For my friends who are reading, please remind me that I've gotten exactly what I wanted, if by chance I whine about maternity pants and feeling fat. Oh, and you can also remind me that as I grow, baby grows too. And that's a good thing.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Here is our baby boy. Saving the name announcement til his birth. Gotta have a surprise left.

Little foot. Amazing that all this can happen without me supervising. God is good at His job. That's all I can say.

I heard the news today, oh boy!

Feels good to be right. Pictures to follow.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Okay, I'm just going to put this out there. I think I'm having a boy. I'm certain anyone reading this blog already knows that, but this is more for posterity's sake, I suppose. The majority of my friends and family agree with me - good job, guys. Don't want to make the pregnant lady angry, do you? I have a couple friends who are dissenting, voting for a girl, but I think it's just because they want to get a rise out of me. I have lots of good reasons for thinking it's a boy, but I'm not going to go into them now. Just one is standing out to me since the past week.

Last night my friend, who is also pregnant, texted me and asked if I was feeling any "fluttering" in the belly region. Although I'd been waiting so long to feel the baby, I'd forgotten to tell her that I actually had. I responded that yes, I was feeling the baby, but later realized that she had used that funny word: "fluttering". Baby websites tell you that you may feel this sensation so I was prepared for the feeling of a butterfly farm taking up residence in my abdomen. Not the case. It feels more like a mix between a bubble and a gentle rumble. This is why I think my baby is a boy. Boys don't flutter. Boys tumble, fall, bump into things. Whoever is in my belly right now is randomly bumping around from side to side. Maybe he's building a tree house or playing soccer. I don't know. But I'll find out in a week when I get another professional look at my insides. And this will confirm, I'm sure, my suspicions. But if not, I will be happily - very - surprised.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Finally...

As I've said earlier, for the first time mum, actually looking prego is an art: See what I mean. A good meal (i.e. a McFlurry and curly fries) and the right clothes can make all the difference.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pickles and ice cream, please - hold the pickles


So far I'd like to say that I've had a fairly atypical pregnancy. No massive emotional highs and lows, no strange cravings, only a few nights spent kneeling before a white, porcelain bowl. I'll be 17 weeks in two days, and I can still fit in all my old clothes (with the help of the Bella Band). People have told me so many things about pregnancy - some were right on; others were way off. But there's a few things I'm realizing that no one told me, and I kinda wish I'd known. And so I begin.

Things they never told me. Part I.

-They never told me I was going to feel a bit insecure when I got to about 4 months pregnant. People who don't see me much surely must wonder what I've been up to, assume I've been dining out more at select fast food restaurants. And since it's terribly uncouth to ask if a woman is pregnant, I never get to set the record straight.
-They never told me everyone has a different opinion on how big my belly is supposed to be. Some people pat my belly and comment on how big I'm going to get if I'm showing already. Others sort of squint, tilt their heads sideways and say, "That's all you got?" There is no belly size measurement tool to which I can refer to prove that I am right where I'm supposed to be so I have to smile and say something in my defense, graciously as I can.
-They never told me that I would do all sorts of things to try to feel my baby moving around. So far I've tried lying on my stomach, lying on my back, pressing all my abdominal organs inward, and various other mild acrobatics. If I really get desperate, I can drink Sprite, lay very still, at
some unknown time switch to laying on my stomach while simultaneously playing music to my belly and standing on my head. The past couple days I had moments where I thought I might have felt him, but it also could've been my own heartbeat, or food moving through my intestines.
They say it's magical to feel your child for the first time, but so far, I've just been confused.
-They never told me I'd feel compelled to wear tight shirts and play up bloating or post-meal moments to feel/look more pregnant. At this stage in the pregnancy, I plan my outfits around what makes me look prego, not porky.
-They never told me I would feel so much better in the second trimester that I would wonder if my baby was still alive in there. Thank goodness for the little heartbeat doppler - which happens to look quite similar to Zach Morris' cell phone - which assured me that baby is alive and well, hanging out next to my bladder with a heartbeat of 159 bpm. Not bad, baby. Keep it up. But if you could swim a few inches north, maybe I could spend less time in the bathroom. Thanks. Love you.

Friday, May 7, 2010

One of those girls

I swear. I'm trying to be discreet and somewhat nonchalant about this whole growing a kid thing. (Even though I really do think it is a big, huge deal.) Or at least I'm trying not to play up the part where my belly gets big, and I have to start adjusting my wardrobe. But pregnancy is, indeed, getting the best of my figure so I might as well embrace it. If you're interested in seeing the horizontal progression of my midsection, you can click here. Otherwise, the rest of this post is just some amusing observations I made about my own early pregnancy sillyness. Maybe other pregos can relate. Maybe not. Either way, it's always good to laugh at yourself.

19 April 2010

Some things I’ve been up to as a first-time prego:

-Buying a belly band at 7 weeks. Right. As if that "bump" is anything but last night’s enchilada. You’re bloated, baby. Get over it. I decided to break it in that same night I bought it. It was way too early for it and my pants kept riding up. Pretty sure that’s not the point. Belly band retired.

-Wore the belly band again at 10 weeks. I’m sure the rounding of my abdomen could be due to nothing other than a full set of intestines, once again, but I didn’t feel like working with my pants today so on it went.

-Trying to get the same amount of sleep I got before pregnancy and getting confused when I’m tired. Well, not confused. But whiny. I know; that’s way worse. Ask Josh – he has to live with it.

-Attributing most emotions, fatigue, pains, aches and general brain fog to pregnancy. I’m smart enough to know that I couldn’t finish most sentences before I was pregnant, much less find my keys every morning, but part of me still thinks this forgetfulness could, maybe, be hormone-related. Let’s blame it all on that.

-Making peace with weight gain. No, one better. I’m welcoming it. Granted, I want it to be mostly in the bust and belly area. Not in the thighs or behind, thank you. But most body changes that don’t cause discomfort or nausea are welcomed as a part of this big, mysterious season called pregnancy. Does my hair look shinier? Are my nails stronger? Of course they are. I’m pregnant.

-Checking myself out for the glow. I don’t think I have it yet, but I’m working on it. I’m really pulling for the second trimester. That’s when I start to show so I might as well look good while I’m overcoming rumors of sudden weight gain.

-Rubbing my belly all the time. I’m not sure why really. It’s not like I think it’s good luck and there’s not much there to rub. Pretty sure the almost-fetus can’t feel it anyway. But it’s what pregnant woman do, I think. I’ve seen it in the movies. So I guess I’ll keep doing it. Helps me feel pregnant since I sure don’t look it, belly band or not.

-Naming the little after the fruit he or she resembles each week. Started out as a blueberry. Then a raspberry. Then an olive. (Are they different sizes?) Well, now he/she’s a prune, minus all the wrinklies. How adorable – I know, I thought so too.

-Thinking about food almost all the time and getting pretty selfish too. Seriously. Isn’t this season about preparing to love a baby and sacrifice your sleep and tears and raw everything for him or her? So how am I getting away with being a primadonna for nine months, or at least the past several weeks? I’m going to have to quit this. I’m thinking it will happen when the kid starts kicking me in the middle of the night. Maybe then I’ll realize this is not about me. Until then, looks like I’ll be frequenting Vista Burger and alternating between soft serve and cherry limeades. Or on a good day, both.

-Refraining from booze, smokes and illicit drugs. Gotta give a little. Thought folks should know I’ve made this commitment.

-Not eating healthy food much at all. My breakfast of bacon and an over-sized blueberry pancake are laughing that I once planned to raise my child on “things white people like”, i.e., organic everything.

-Paying attention to what I can do well. (This is a good way to spend time, I think.) A friend of mine said this could be evidence of the baby’s giftings and talents. I thought I sang an Enya song particularly well today while I was laying out the wash to dry. Since I’m pretty sure a musician is brewing in my depths, I’m going to attribute the ability to hit all those high notes to him. Since I think it’s a him, but really, if it’s a her, I’m happy. Baby, whatever you are, I’m happy for you. Promise.




Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The news


This is the little human I'm working on. Actually looks like a baby already at 13 weeks. No wonder I'm so tired all the time.

For those of you who aren't so savvy with identifying these sorts of pictures - I never was - here's a quick tutorial: you can see the head is in the lower left, then his little belly/abdomen are on the right. His little legs are on the far right. What probably looks like bubbles coming out of his mouth is actually the umbilical cord. Anyway, the little person is healthy, got all his parts so far. Yay.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Me and Bear

Things I have in common with my new pup, Bear:
We both have brown hair.
We like the outdoors.
We know a weird smell when we smell one, and we are often moved to investigate.
We both eat too fast. He has me beat for sure though.
We both have very small bladders.
We both like to play.
We both get tired easily and require much rest.
We can be distracted by fast movements and shiny things. He's worse than me though.
We both like Josh the best.
We both have a touch love language and are quite cuddly.

Things we do not have in common:
I do not chew on cardboard, shoes or belts.
I do not bite toes.
I do not pee on the carpet.
I do not bark at my reflection in the dishwasher, although I don't really like loading it. Does that count?
I am not very happy when asked to fetch things.

We have more things in common than not. Not sure what that says about me, but I think it means that he makes a great member of our family.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Adoption

"My friends, adoption is redemption. It’s costly, exhausting, expensive, and outrageous. Buying back lives costs so much. When God set out to redeem us, it killed Him. And when He redeems us, we can’t even really appreciate or comprehend it, just like Dimitri will never comprehend or fully appreciate what is about to happen to him … but … he will live in the fruit of it. As his Daddy, I will never expect him to understand all of this or even to thank me. I just want to watch him live in the benefits of my love and experience the joys of being an heir in my family. This is how our heavenly “Papa” feels towards us. Today, settle your busy heart down and rest in the benefits of redemption. Enjoy the fruits of His goodness, and stop trying to “pay Him back”. You’ll never get close you goofy little kid."

- Derek Loux

Monday, February 15, 2010

Life in slow motion

This morning I woke up in Abilene's Victorian Inn. Our host, Adrian Potter, a certified chef, informed us breakfast was served at 9:30, and I did not want to be late. Adrian is the kind of chef who makes her own granola and dreams of mushroom sauce over a bacon-wrapped filet. Anticipation of the meal was alarm enough for us. Just after 9:30, we creaked down the winding, wood staircase toward the dining room. We waited for Adrian in the sitting room, amusing ourselves with World War II-era issues of Life Magazine. Soon Adrian glided through the dining room to announce breakfast. We followed her to a neat, square table set for four. A couple in their fifties sat across from us. I wasn't looking forward to the forced interaction with strangers, but I figured I could survive half an hour.

The couple appeared Midwestern and simple, the woman wearing a gray, henley top to match her bobbed hair.
They seemed friendly enough. Soon breakfast began with a yogurt parfait, a swirl of fruit atop a stack of yogurt and granola. The woman in gray hushed her husband so as to concentrate on her food, letting it dance through her mouth. Adrian returned to inquire on her creation, and clasped her hands together as the gray-haired lady gushed that her mouth was bursting with flavor. She spooned each bite toward her mouth slowly, losing herself in the layers of taste. I watched with amazement. I could have said, "I'll have what she's having," but I was eating the same thing. But, somehow, I didn't get it. Yet. After a few moments though, I realized her secret. Slowness. Awareness.

I am not a slow eater. I am a functional eater. I am most likely to be found snacking throughout the day because I am bored or slurping up a canned soup around noon because this is the time everyone else eats. Somewhere deep in the hallways of my brain, I know that food is to be enjoyed...slowly. But I only have half an hour for lunch every day. How am I supposed to make friends with my diet in 30 minutes?


I wanted to enjoy my breakfast like the lady in gray. I wanted to get so distracted with flavor that I had to tell the room to be quiet so I could hear it all. So when Adrian brought out platters of Swedish lemon pancakes topped with sweet cream and berries, I finally listened. I felt the slippery, sweet texture, watched the colors of taste paint smooth strokes in my mouth. This time when Adrian asked, "How is it?", I answered without thinking, "It's a meditation." She hadn't heard that one before. But a meditation it was. It required focus, a fixed gaze. Removing distractions.

I felt my belly fill with the rich goodness in a matter of minutes. I wasn't sure I would be able to finish. But I wanted to. My usual eating habits involve a vacuum-like motion of inhalation, food drawn inward through one distracted breath. Then it is gone. The flavor, the sweetness, the experience over, sitting in an anxious heap in my stomach, waiting for digestion. A waste.

From my brief experience with slowness,
I can see that beauty is best viewed under five miles an hour. You hear more, taste more, see more, feel more, smell more. I miss so much by rushing, scurrying about, afraid of missing something and in the end, missing everything. Living slowly is an art. Some of us are born with the skill; others have to practice. When I divulged this revelation to my husband, he didn't catch its novelty. He already lives the slow life, breathes from his belly and listens more than he speaks. I wonder when it will rub off on me.

I want to live more deliberately, patiently, gently. I want to enjoy my food and relationships, even my lunch times, brief as the moments may be. I want to be present, to taste and see. My theory is that the people who live this way, who taste and hear and touch life, really sink their teeth and toes all the way in, these are the healthy, happy ones. I want a good relationship with my food and the other necessities of life. My goal is to be to intentional from this day forward, to slow down, look people in the eye, hold doors open, and watch the sun go all the way down without checking my Blackberry. I'm going to drink tea not just to have something warm between my hands, but to taste it, savor it. I'm going to try slanting my perspective a little more toward life's original idea, a time when two people lived in a lush garden between two rivers. They ate whatever they wanted and lived at peace with each other, the earth and with God. Sounds like Life to me.

Synonyms for slow: Unhurried, deliberate, measured, leisurely

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Ink

I have a writing assignment this week, my first one since college. And I'm not even mad. It happened this morning at Radina's, two tables pushed together near the bar, a small group of thoughtful sojourners, mucking about in a maze of words. We're called the inkWell, a writer's group from our church, theWELL. Those writers, so clever.

We took turns reading and listening to each other's pieces. When it was my turn, I took a deep breath and bravely read my pieces aloud to the group, one a prose on Hope and the other a blog commentary on my experiences with Mercy. I listened quietly when the other writers read, and I was happy - and a teensy bit intimidated - to discover that I've found myself in the company of, well, talent. These people are really going to challenge me. Mostly because they pass out writing assignments every week, and also, because they are simply gifted wordsmiths. They see the world from a different angle, with their red hair or beards, small town or a big, big city childhoods. And they seem to remember how to view the world as a child, colorful and wonderfully candid. According to Anne Lamott, who I consider a writing-honestly guru, the main work of a writer is to peer inquisitively at the world, asking the awkward or silly questions grown-ups don't want to talk about. I would like to be brave and write honest things. I would like to be a writer. And so, here I am.

This week's assignment: Write the last sentence of an unwritten novel that is so intriguing that people will want to read it. Good grief! Better get started.