Monday, November 28, 2011


November was hard.  There were celebrations, the birth of our friend's baby, Florence, and the celebration of our guy's first year of life.  But there was community conflict, misunderstanding and heartbreak rampant in our tiny church family.  It was painful, a heart-stinging kind of ouch, the kind where you look at your own words and thoughts and actions and wonder how things could have turned out differently.  But November is over, and I'm glad to have all that in the history, not living it out, wondering on the outcome.  I want to look back with fondness, and remember the stuff that turned out well, the happy moments.  And that's the stuff I have pictures of, thankfully.

For the record, last November, this was me.  Whoa!

Then on November 15, along came the most adorable 7 pound teenie I'd ever seen.  And wasn't I just the most adorable post-birth mother you've ever seen?  Don't answer that.

This November was a different kind of celebration. One that required almost as much recuperation time, but thankfully, did not require 9 months preparation.  We threw our John a party, a big, huge, too-big-for-the-house party with guests all over the place - in chairs and couches, on the floor, in the bedrooms.  We had a blast.  And so did he.

Cake on his face.  This was only the beginning.

Maybe next year he will open his own presents.

Going for a cruise in the Cozy Coup from Grams and Gramps, with his larger than life Teddy Bear, who is still nameless from Aunt Steph and Uncle Aaron.
Growing up with John has been an adventure.  I'm more patient than I was a year ago, not as well-slept, but kinder, more aware of love.  I can sense this pleasure I have with my son at the smallest, tiniest things he does.  And I can transfer that onto God, that if I can love my son that way, look at his silly antics with such affection, enjoy him so immensely, overlook messes large and small, that God can enjoy me that way too.  It's the right way to live because it's true.

I am still me though, chock full of grand ideas that haven't seem to come to fruition.  I came up with this really great idea called "Get to know your neighbor November".  I was going to bake some kind of bread - that's where everything went wrong, I think, at the baking part - and take it to a neighbor three times a week: Monday, Wednesday and Saturday. I would allow an hour to chat, although I knew some wouldn't have time to do that, and I was going to stand on the porch or sit in the living room, drink tea and learn their names.  I still hate that I don't know my neighbors, all these wonderful people with stories and lives and we're just tied up in our homes for fear of cold and closeness.  Someone has to break the ice.  Well, it was a great idea, but Josh said I had too much going on.  And he was right, so it didn't happen.  But maybe there will be a "Get to know your neighbor December".  And maybe I will blog about it.  You never know.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Pre-Siders House Classic: 2006

I wrote this right after Jeremy told me he didn’t want to date me.  I was smitten; he was not. There was nothing I could do to keep him around. It felt so heartbreakingly familiar. It seemed that all my beauty and cooking and patience were, again, not enough for a man who had won my affections. Thankfully, God weaseled His way into the mess, and made good of it.  A lot of good. It was only five months from this post when I would begin dating Josh. And only a handful of months later, we married. Yes, that is beauty from my breakdown. So enjoy a classic from the pre-Siders days.

Fall in the Flint Hills, taken today during the drive home

"Let go, let go, jump in, oh, it's so amazing here.  It's alright, cause there's beauty in the breakdown." (Frou Frou)

I recently discovered some beauty in myself, drawn out by a man who no longer feels affection for me.  It's strange.  He's gone, but the gift I have, the gift he noticed in me, is still there.  I knew I had the gift before I met him, but it felt like a duty somehow.  Then he asked me to use my gift for no reason at all except just because.  After that, it seemed lovely to me.

I'm grateful for the serendipity of knowing him, even though it seems quite apparent we're moving separate ways.  It hurt at first, seeing that we were not going to be what I'd hoped.  The cynical voice came over my brain intercom and announced that I shouldn't have believed that someone I was mad about would actually be mad about me in return.  After all, they never had been before.   The cynical voice made me cry because for a few minutes, I believed it.  I should've known better.  I'm a romantic though, so after the tears left, hope moved back in.  I can't help it - my heart, although fragile, is sort of boomerangy, and I guess I never would've known that without the pain.  I like that line about "beauty in the breakdown" because that kind of deep heart pain made me feel strangely alive. 

I've been thinking a lot about truth lately.  And how so much of what I believe about myself isn't really that true at all.  I'm not depressed about it though.  It's actually a little comforting.  I ask myself, what if my sad, dark thoughts aren't really true after all, and what if what is true is beautiful and pregnant with breathtaking potential, practically about to explode with majesty?  What if things like love and goodness are the realities, the ones that will last, and the dirty, ugly things are only temporary?  Could this be possible?  What if I am complete?  Alone, but not missing a thing.  In a room with just me, yet somehow full, not empty.  What if I already have all I need?  What if there is no one who can complete me because I am already whole?  I want to believe these kinds of things.

I'll admit, it's scary to believe things like this because I might be wrong.  But I was just telling my friend, I'm quite good at being wrong, a professional, really.  So if I'm wrong, if beauty and love really aren't the ultimate realities, and it's all just a fairy tale to make pain seem valuable, then it's okay because I've been wrong before.  I'm kind of used to it.  But Someone I'm learning to trust has said thousands of times that love is the biggest thing, the trump card, and nothing else stands a chance.  That sounds wonderful.  I think I'll try to believe that.  Besides, I'm 25 and, I'm in a risk-taking kind of mood.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Something for everyone

Whether you need a politically savvy chuckle or a few moments of productive introspection, there's something for everyone here on this weekend update.

Something funny:
How to derail your presidential campaign in 56 seconds or less for $200, Alex.  

Answer: What is Herman Cain's newest Time for Action campaign ad?  No really, what is it?  As in, what was he thinking?  From the cigarette smoking to the creepo smile at the end, it's a little fun to imagine how the ad director must've been guiding this from scene to scene.  Maybe something like this...?

           "Okay, cue "I Am America", nice and loud.  Okay, great.  Now, Mark, look right at the camera, real serious, good, and take a big drag of that cigarette, James Dean-style.  Excellent.  Now cut to Herman.  Let's do a profile shot, and let's go from not smiling to a semi-smiling thing.  Okay, looks great.  Cut.

Someone was seriously smoking something to think this ad would get Mr. Cain even "one day closer to the White House".  (Pun intended.)  Maybe my favorite line: "I really believe that Herman Cain could put 'united' back in the United States of America, and if I didn't believe that, I wouldn't be here."  Oh, Mark.  I wish that was convincing.  But unfortunately, just believing something won't get Herman into the White House, anymore than it got Harold Camping followers raptured on May 22, or October 21.

As for me, I will be dutifully monitoring The Colbert Report and SNL for the spoofs that will most definitely ensue.  Herman, we're not laughing at you.  We're laughing with you, or at least smiling smugly.

Something thoughtful:
On a less disturbing/hilarious note, my entrepreneur and big-dreamer pal, Blair Reynolds, recently posted a blog on Intimacy on his publishing company website.  In it he discusses the subtle ways we protect ourselves from intimacy - and the answer may surprise you.  It's an ill many of us needlessly endure, and it's keeping us from real depth of relationships, the intimacy we crave. Give this some thought - see how anxiety may be eroding the quality of your intimacy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Just sit still

I don’t go to the gym every day. Can’t remember the last time I went. But I do dress my 1 year old when it's my turn on the weekends. By the end of it, I’ve got an elevated heart rate, and we're both out of breath. So that’s got to be good enough. 

Throughout this grueling standoff, I often find myself grunting, “This would go much faster if you would just stand still.” And I know as I say it, I hear God say it right back to me - gentler, kinder, without the grunting part. And still I thrash about, squirm and dodge when he comes by to work on me. He tries to remove the parts worn by the day, the stresses and insecurities, and replace them with fresh ones, the presence of His Spirit, the freedom of being loved. But I don’t want to take time away from play and obligation. I don’t want to shut off the anxiety. And so I run.

When it's over, I wrap him up in my arms. I need a hug after all that wrestling, we both do, the reassurance that love will triumph any tussle over a soiled wardrobe. 

But the good part would come much faster if I would just sit still.

And here he is, all at once full of innocence and full of adventure. Much thanks to the multi-talented, multi-tasking, Emma Wheatley at Rosewheat Photography, who again manages to capture nearly all of him while he wiggles and wriggles and flops and falls.  It's all so precious.

Monday, October 24, 2011

She will be loved

Aren't they beautiful?  And to think they've all been named "Unwanted"...
My friend pointed me to this article on Fox News about a spot of hope in the plight of young girls in Asian countries like India and China.  For girls like these (above), changing their names could mean a chance to change their lives.

Girls in these Eastern nations are dying of a strange disease.  It is social, not medical but a disease nonetheless. For many families, boys put them in a better social situation, bringing in a dowry at marriage instead of requiring one. Boys can carry on the family name after the parents pass and light the parents' funeral pyre at their death, according to the Hindu tradition.  Women, although rare, are treated as property, aborted when inconvenient, neglected in childhood, offered for a price and sold to the highest bidder when a wife is sought.  Unfortunately, this cultural practice of eliminating women creates a crisis for the "chosen" men who eventually want a woman later in life.  Where they are scarce, girls are trafficked in for marriage and breeding purposes, according to a report in the Economist.  And as we might suspect, their quality of life does not improve, even as wives. The personal narratives of several Indian women tell tales of socially acceptable abuse - beatings and forced abortions - endured until their bodies produce a son for their husbands.

It's a painfully counter-intuitive situation. Supply and demand rules suggest that if something is rare, it gains value. This is not the case with the girls of India.  Although sought-after as wives, they are named "Nakusa", or "unwanted" at birth, left to bear the disappointment of their existence, as if they chose to be female to spite a few distant family members. Instead of highly treasured as beautiful individuals with life-giving abilities, a quality much-desired by families seeking wives for their sons, they undergo the tortures of neglect, forced abortion and the grief of carrying this "undesirable" status.  The number of girls, decreasing at a rate of almost 7,000 per day, creates a new kind of poverty - a lack of women. And while this reality increases the monetary value offered for a girl, it somehow never touching her intrinsic worth in the eyes of her nation.

I'll be discussing this topic further in a piece, but I had to relay some of these discoveries now, vent some of the anger and sadness and sift through the injustice.  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Something to think about

In case you read my first liveaction blog post, you can read the follow up here, titled "She's only a baby if you want her."  If you didn't get to read the first one, just click on my name and both articles pop up.  Love to have your feedback.  

Be sure to check out the comments left by the readers.  The first one is especially heartbreaking.  It reinforces to me how important it is that we go out of our way to love the orphans and those who feel unloved - they need to know they are loved. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Loudest Quiet

Standing with students and many others all over the nation today.  In silence for those whose voices have been taken away: over 57 million so far.  Let the ache in our heart turn to prayer.

Lord, I plead your blood over my sin and the sin of my nation.  God, end abortion and send revival to America.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Flashback: October 17, 2010

A year ago today...

I was with child.  He weighed about 6 pounds - I weighed about 20 pounds more than normal.  I was content, most often with a bowl of ice cream, thinking happy thoughts about labor.
I didn't always look like this - this was a photo shoot, for crying out loud.  I had hours to prepare.

Today, my child weighs about 23 pounds - I'm about 5 pounds above my happy place. He is most often a joyful, literally bouncing, baby boy, who can scream like a pterodactyl and walk like a surfing Frankenstein. 

Swinging is his favorite.

The ungodly amount of gear "required" for a trip with one child.  But I'm still smiling.  Cause my kid's in a chicken costume.

One year ago today, I could be found sipping water, donning elastic waistbands, and putting the finishing touches on the nursery.
The nursery one year ago.  No, you can't see a "today" photo.  I haven't put the clothes away yet.
Today, my son is drinking formula as I'm sipping hot chocolate, the fluffy kind with marshmallows and milk.  Now he rocks the elastic waistbands and my pants finally zip.  And today, putting finishing touches on the nursery involves putting John's books away for the something-th time, folding laundry and swearing I will never paint another mural on the wall for the next kid.  Sorry, kid, whoever you are.
Current John stats: 
Hours asleep at night: Usually 10 (thank you, God!)
Steps: Many
Beverages other formula/breastmilk: orange juice, water, and I'm hoping the beer bottle Uncle Jim gave him didn't actually have beer in it.
Foods: Almost everything short of pizza and caviar
Teeth: 8
Words: "Mama, dada, baba".  While those might sound like words to you, they are simply noises to him.  We're still learning.
Hobbies: Making a general ruckus, leaving rooms messier than he found them without apology, shaking his head "no", clapping, crawling, walking, jumping, eating everything - no really: hairballs, shoestrings, clumps of carpet, leaves, shoes, and also food. I have pulled all of these out of his mouth, to his dismay.   He also enjoys being the center of attention.  I have no idea where he gets that from. 


Friday, October 14, 2011

Breaking out of Silence

It's been 8 months since my last post.  I've been quiet for some time as I pondered the quality and content of my writing.  To be honest, I wasn't motivated to write.  I thought, Surely there must be something to put my Lifeforce behind.  While I waited, my immobile darling turned into a babbling, blue-eyed person, capable of walking and feeding himself, albeit messily.  I chopped 20 inches off my hair, left my roaring 20s rather quietly (for me), and took 5 days to plunge myself into the Atlantic Ocean - not necessarily in that order.  A chapter ended and a new one began.  And it was almost tangible.

Almost two months ago, I was accepted as a contributing writer to, a pro-life activist website specializing in exposing the truth of abortion and assisting world citizens in choosing life.  I was thrilled to be selected, until I realized I had no idea what to say.  I read and researched and discovered terrible things, realities I'd been ignoring the sake of sleep and sanity.  I wanted to contribute something to this movement toward life, but I felt inadequate.   I waited longer.  Weeks passed and my procrastination surrounded me.  

Finally, one Wednesday night at 11PM, I started writing.  Words jolted and sputtered forth, research, graphics and resources abounded.  And eventually they all landed on the page in front of me.  At 2AM, before I hit "Submit", I made my way into the bedroom to read my piece to my sleeping husband.  He groggily proved he had heard me by mumbling, "That's good, Babe, from what I remember."  That was enough for me.  [Send]  A week later I made it onto the site.  You can read my first piece here

I hope this is the first of many, constantly improving posts.  I very much want to contribute my thoughts, experiences and findings to the life movement.  I realize this issue is a "hot" one, and there is hardly a person alive without an opinion on it.  This only gives evidence to the gravity of this legal institution we've founded and supported.  Please be aware that I have no desire to disrespect or shame anyone who has had an abortion, or even considered it.  After being a mother, I know the joys of parenting, but I understand the challenges, emotional and financial, to begin.  And I know that a single, teen mom has an enormous amount of pressure when she learns she is pregnant.  But I would submit that abortion is not the "Delete" button we imagine it to be.  It does not return life to "the way things were before".  And as Feminists for Life states so eloquently, women deserve real options.  They deserve better than abortion.

I'm going to ask you to do something difficult.  I know you don't want to, but for the sake of the lives at stake, make an informed decision about abortion.  Educate yourself about abortion procedures - what really happens, about the deceptions of organizations like Planned Parenthood, and take a hard look at this thing our nation established 39 years ago.  This is not just a political issue.  It is certainly a matter of life and death.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Singles Awareness Day

My friend, Alison, told me she got a Happy Singles Awareness Day wish from her friend today, and I thought I would pass on the good tidings.  Today is also Valentine's Day, if you're of that persuasion.  Or Anna Howard Shaw Day if you watch 30 Rock and listened to Liz Lemon's tirade about the true meaning of February 14th.

I have a new Valentine this year so I thought I would celebrate with a couple photos of us hanging out.

He's wonderfully squishy.

John's been quite the socialite lately, especially with his young lady friends.  Don't worry; his visits have all been closely chaperoned.  There was some hand-holding, but that's all.  And I'm pretty sure that wasn't even intentional.

John and Charleigh get cozy at their first play date.  John is slightly unsure of what to make of the situation.

Grace and John had a great time together.  Well, he enjoyed himself.  She was harder to convince.

Perhaps because it is not a tiny, human female, John felt quite comfortable giving this monkey a big hug.  I think it's the start of a lifelong friendship.

In other news, I'm finally getting around to keeping that commitment I made a few weeks ago.  What?  You already forgot the commitment?  It would seem I had also.  In case it's completely slipped your mind, I joined a six-week fitness program at work, complete with a team of equally out-of-shape but motivated individuals, willing to confess to each other how many fruits and veggies they ate a week, as well as how much time they spent in exercise.   The worst reminders of my less-than-convincing commitment to the program were when I had to turn in my piddly fitness points at the end of the week.  I was the weakest link to be sure.  After three weeks of single digit fitness numbers, I decided a change would do me good.  And I couldn't let my team down any longer.  It was going to be bad for my reputation and would certainly decrease my invites to co-worker events.  And so, a-running I did go.

To prove that I did in fact don running attire - you will have to take my word for it that I actually left the house wearing it - here is a photo.

Yup, here I am, baby, shoes and all.  I left him at home for the run.  Wasn't really sure how to carry him while I "ran".

Am I going to train for a serious race, like a marathon, you ask?  Ha ha ha ha ha ha!  I can't stop laughing.  (Serious face.)  Right now, I'm just proud I still know how to tie my running shoes.

Before I lose myself in self-deprecation, I'll have you know that I had a fairly successful first day back on the sidewalks.  After carefully plotting out an approximately 3 mile course, I decided to run 30 minutes, hoping to make the 3 miles in that time.  About 5 minutes into the run, I realized that this was far too ambitious for my semi-blobular body.  (Yes, blobular is a word, most often used to describe women who recently had a child and chose not to make fitness a priority anywhere in the past 18 months.  May not apply to all women who fit this criteria.)  At that moment, I decided 20 minutes was a plenty good start.  And so I schlepped on, my feet feeling heavier than they had all year.  Or all of last year for that matter.  I stopped at 10 minutes to rest, I mean, stretch, and finished the last half of the run tired but proud.  The run yielded close to 2 miles of sidewalk conquered.  Whenever I take running up after a hiatus, I try to start at 2 miles.  Since I accomplished that, I will call it good.  I do enjoy running for running's sake, but I will probably train for a 10k or some other race just so to keep myself motivated.  Let's hope graduating back into some of my pre-progeny clothing is also part of my reward.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Eating like a horse and other healthy habits

So it turns out I'm not the health fiend I fancied myself to be.  I have high cholesterol.  Perhaps what's worse, I had to ask, "What is cholesterol exactly?" after the news broke.  Still not sure I know.  Something about fat in your blood, which seems odd.  This is why I am not a doctor.

I made this alarming self-discovery about 10 days ago at my work's fitness program weigh-in.  As if it wasn't bad enough that they measured body fat and weight, which I was only somewhat comfortable with, they also measured cholesterol.  No problem, I thought, glancing around at all the other poor blokes whose numbers would surely be in the danger zone.  I've got this one.  Ah, but I was mistaken.  Mine measured high, 272 to be exact.  (For reference, 200 and below is considered the safe, healthy, responsible citizen zone.)  Granted the number doesn't break down good and bad cholesterol, LDLs and HDLs, but 272 is high anyway.  For a relatively thin (I think), 29 year old female.  Seriously.

Call me judgmental, but when I think of high cholesterol, I think of a heavyset man, t-shirt barely rounding his midsection, chowing down on two or three McGreaseburgers.  For the value, of course.  That guy's food pyramid is upside down.  Of course he has high cholesterol.  But me?  Little old me?  Well, I guess I did get a little carried away in the sugar aisle at the in-laws Christmas celebrations.  Drat.  But still.

Now before you or I jump to conclusions about my lifestyle or start blaming dead family members for my genetics, let's not forget that we don't actually know if my outrageously high number is in fact bad.  I might have high good cholesterol.  Obviously that means that the fat in my blood is not blobby fat hanging out of its t-shirts, but well-proportioned, "curvy" fat that knows how to dress for its size.

All this is to say, I'm not panicking.  Not at all.  Since I'm not making plans to visit to the doctor - yes, I'm a social worker; I can recognize denial even in myself, thank you - I'll be taking up a new kind of diet.  This time it's not about eating horse-like quantities; instead, I'm focusing on one primary equine diet ingredient: oats.  To start my day off with a cholesterol-killing bang, I'll be alternating between a breakfast of oatmeal and Cheerios.   I'll also be throwing in an oatmeal raisin cookie after every meal for good measure.  And if I have my way, I'll live in denial for a few more weeks, until they measure my cholesterol again, at which point they will suggest I find out that good fat/bad fat breakdown.  I will politely thank them for the suggestion and resume eating my Cheerios, but twice as many this time, because after all, I am a responsible procrastinator.

And speaking of habits, I'm trying to make a habit of writing more.  And I'd like it to be profitable, in more than one way.  So in the effort to get the word out, I've nominated myself - I'm shameless, it's true - as one of's roll of talented mom bloggers.  And if you don't mind, I'm trying to get a little more traffic through here.  So I'm boldly asking for your quick-click vote of support.  It'll keep me accountable to write more often, and if I achieve my dream of being a world famous blogger, maybe I can quit my job and stay home and snuggle my kid.  So click HERE to vote for me, if you'd be so kind.  (You can search for me alphabetically.)  Muchas thanks.

Part of this gal's complete (cholesterol-reducing) breakfast.

Things I like: blog-related

I'm sure you've noticed all the banging around going on at the Siders House Rules.  New blog banner, a few buttons on the side showing off things I like/do, even an ad, just to mix things up.  I wouldn't call it an identity crisis, although at times it feels that way.  I just realized that I missed writing, and I wanted to do something about.  Like write more.  And I wanted my writing space to be pretty.  Inviting.  Tempt people back.  So in the process of doing that, I've gotten swept into the blog world.  I'm now that girl, spending hours hopping from link to link, blog to blog, even getting a bit of blog envy from time to time.  I realize that my new fascination with blogging and being liked in cyberspace is potentially insatiable, that I may end up with 50 followers and then want 100, and so on.

Anyway, I've stumbled upon a few enjoyable stops on my journey through blogdom, and I'd like to share these helpful spots with you.  And heads up: the icons below are just pictures, not actual links.  The links are in the text, so don't get confused.

First, The Blog Guidebook.  These fine folks helped me figure out how to make that nifty banner you see on top, and the blog button along the side.  They've got several resources available if you're into snazzing up your writing/creative space.


Next, love these free fonts from Kevin and Amanda.  Whoever you are, thank you.  Free fonts?  How cool is that?  And they're good too.  There's probably about 100 here to choose from, or you can go crazy and download the whole lot of 'em in one swoop.  Yes, that's what I did.  Since you wondered.

Still love this blog from months ago.  Makes me feel feminine and lacy just reading it.  Good for the girly soul.  Check it out: This IS Glamorous.

Last but not at all least: a blog I recently discovered.  Peine for Your Thoughts is a humorously honest report of a future mum to twins.  Makes me laugh every time, and fortunately, she updates a few times a week.  Can't quite find a workable icon from her page so just follow the link above.    

That's all for my favorites.  I'm sure I'll have more lovely stops for you later, but this should keep you busy for now.  I know they keep me quite occupied.  Happy browsing. 

Friday, January 28, 2011

I didn't get to say goodbye

I'm gonna blame it on our Korean teenage babysitter, Mike.  He made a banana talk.  The banana pleaded clearly in a high pitched voice, "Please eat me,", making it abundantly clear that it would never emotionally recover from the rejection of being left to sit on the counter and turn to mush.  It was all over after that.  From then on, I was the seven year-old having conversations with my stuffed animals, gently explaining to them why I chose to sleep with the dog and cat at night and not the rest of them.  I simply couldn't bear to have them sitting on the floor, pining for my presence, resenting the stuffed feline and her canine pal, without a proper explanation of my decision-making process.  It was a burden, this moral obligation to assuage the feelings of inanimate objects.  Movies like The Brave Little Toaster sure didn't help.  The toaster got left behind!  And he was sad cause he missed his family.  Oh, the agony.  My little heart could hardly bear it.

Fast forward twenty some years.  Last week our appliances staged a mutiny and crapped out all at once.  No really, the fridge, the washing machine, and the dryer (temporarily), all kicked the bucket.  Needless to say, it's been a little ghetto-fabulous around our house, food stashed in a cooler (still) and laundry heaping up because the laundromat feels too far away, and I don't think I've actually ever used one before.  And I'll be darned if I'm going to don a corset and petticoat and wash those things by hand.  And so the laundry heap grows. But I digress.

Today our washing machine was (finally!) replaced.  Josh sent me a picture of the big white box that took up residence in our bathroom/utility closet. 

                                                                    She's a beaute! 

But then it hit me.  I didn't get to say goodbye to our old washing machine.  It was slow but trusty in its time.  It was rusted and took about two hours to wash a single laundry load, but it was ours.  I can
just see it now, shivering out in the cold and rain, it's brownish exterior turning to rust, longing for the days when it was nestled snugly in our upstairs closet.  Darn you, Mike, and your talking banana.  How am I going to sleep tonight?  I can only hope the purring of our new washing machine will lull me to sleep.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Keeping him happy is a full-time job...sometimes

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a baby. I wasn't born an adult, if that's what you're wondering. But my memory of my own babyhood is a little fuzzy on a good day. I'd imagine they'd have to get used to the sound of fireworks going off in their tiny noggins every time they learn something new. The ceiling fan alone held John's attention for days. And usually it wasn't even moving.

All in all, eating, pooping, sleeping and accidentally hitting toys with his flailing arms seem to keep him quite occupied. Except when he's crying. He's a good baby most of the time, I swear. He usually limits crying to when he's hungry, uncomfortable or gassy. And isn't that true for any of us? However, there are times when he starts crying from hiccups or gas, and by the time the problem's solved, he's been crying long enough that he's forgotten what the stink was about. I suppose he may be thinking he'll remember again if he cries long enough. Or maybe he is just bored and doesn't know what else to do.

I have a new appreciation for my mother as I realize all the sleepwalking I do trying to get him in a drowsy enough state to tuck into bed. And we all know babies aren't happy unless you are exerting the most possible energy trying to calm them. I mean really, how can it be relaxing to be in a tight wad, slung over a shoulder, bouncing up and down violently, or being swung through the air at the speed of sound? Babies don't give out E's for effort; you know your attempts succeeded when you can hear yourself think again.

Around our house, we have some tried and true methods of solving baby problems. They work 60% of the time, every time. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) Some of these ideas came from a book that could've offered it's suggestions in a brochure instead of a 250-page volume. But maybe I'm just lazy. Anyway, this particular piece of literature recommends Five S's for calming baby. Swaddling, swinging, and I can't remember the other three. As you can see, it left quite an impression. In my defense, those first two S's usually do the trick. Swaddling is easy; it's the swinging that leaves me catching my breath. (I wonder if I can count that for my physical activity in my workout program. Hmmm...)

This is us, a typical pre-day or pre-bed routine: baby burrito snugly wrapped so only his head shows from his cloth tortilla. Legs on my chest, head on my knees, bink properly inserted. Aaahhh. Peace.

The best way to gain weight

This week our refrigerator broke. Well, it was 9 days ago to be exact. It was a strange thing to wake up and find the ice cube trays full of water. Hmmm. Something was not right.

The contractor declared it totaled. The warranty company wanted to fix it. I think we'll have that fridge back in a week or two. In the meantime, we're discovering the culinary possibilities of nonperishable food items and living out of a Coleman cooler stashed in our garage.

Exhibit A: camping at home.

Our other "nourishment" option is shameful: fast food. Fast not only to order, but surprisingly speedy in clinging to fat storage on various body parts. All this to the chagrin of the jeans I've just squeezed into since baby. Grrrr... Any progress I was making dialing scale numbers down ceased the day that old Kenmore breathed its last. Okay, it might have been before, but it's nice to have a scapegoat. Needless to say, my food pyramid turned upside down the past few days. The result: a growing heap of clothing that doesn't fit so well.

As it turns out my 15 year old metabolism must have stayed back at my parents' house when I moved out - cause I think that's the last time I've seen it. Well, I am going to do something about this, besides whine via blog. I could be complacent, I suppose, but it's not really in the budget to replace half of my wardrobe. Action must be taken. So last Saturday I started a six-week program through work called "Get Fit". We get points in the form of "miles" for every 15 minutes of exercise we do, plus adding fruits and veggies to our diets. For a girl who's proud she made it half the day without digging into the Thin Mints, I'm going to need more points options. I'm also going to need two more hours inserted into the day, preferably after work. Not sure who I need to talk to about that. And since the only exercise I can tolerate is running, I'm going to need the weather to give me a break, for lack of a gym membership. Or I guess I could run in place in front of a mirror in my bedroom. Oh boy! This is going to be a long six weeks.

All this to say I welcome the accountability of cyberspace. I'm not trying to lose 50 pounds or anything, and I'm not going to post my weekly weight loss so don't get any ideas. But feel free to ask about my progress. And now, since it's way past my bed time, I'm going to sleep, which I hear is a great weight loss tool, if only my baby would recognize that.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Growing up Hippie

When you grow up somewhere, you never really can appreciate its quirks and flavor. I grew up in Portland, Oregon, Hippie/Hipster Capital of the Universe. I've always been quite proud of this because when I said I grew up in Portland, it always got a reaction. And if you know me, you know I love reactions. "Oh, you must be a (fill in the blank with illicit activity) type." OR "So you're like a vegan/eco-freak/bicycle-riding/PETA-pledging hippie, right?" Yea. All of the above.

Truth be told, my father is from Kansas. If tofu was the last food on the planet, he would die. Our 15-year old Buick station wagon was a token of my father's less-than-eco-friendly sentiments. My mom, on the other hand, made us believe carob was the real chocolate, poured rice milk in our cereal, and when dairy was finally introduced to our diet, we got it directly from the cow, cream and all. We were strange, to be sure, but not in the conventional Portland sense.

Well, I recently got wind of a new TV show, Portlandia, playing on obscure cable channel, IFC. Fred Armisen (of SNL fame) and Carrie Brownstein spend each episode extracting the uttermost wackiness from the city that raised me, until I was 13ish, anyway. I wanted to introduce you to their variation of Portland, and maybe you'll fall in love with it too. Or at least have a good laugh.

Portlandia, a satirical fun-poke at the city that refuses to participate in normal society.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

One Eleven Eleven

I like numbers. I think they have significance, like times on the clock - I often happen to glance over at 11:11 or 1:11. And dates. Like today. So here's a post in honor of 1.11.11.

And speaking of cool-numbered dates, how about helping me welcome little Grace Bouzianis to the world. She was born on 1.1.11 to my dear friends, Steven and Jessica. She's got a little hat on in the picture, but she sports more hair than John. It's true. Mom had a wonderful home birth with no complications. She's my hero. Congratulations, Steven and Jessica. Grace, welcome!

And speaking of babies, my friends, Kristen and Tommy, welcomed little Laiken on Sunday. He was two weeks early - and she was a first time mom. Not fair! Mom, Dad and baby are all healthy and doing great. Can't wait to hold that little guy.

So, one week and one day of work down (yup, cool numbers). Here's how it went.
--Got as much sleep as a college kid because my roommate - who only drinks from the bottle and happens to wear diapers - no, not Josh - was up all night.
--In order to stay awake at work, I flashbacked to college again by drinking as much coffee as in my college days, and feeling that nasty, caffeinated hangover by the afternoon.
--Found out sick babies are so sad. For everyone. There's not much you can do for a 7 week old sickie but apply Vick's Baby Rub, suction out the goop and pray it goes quickly. It's been a rough 10 days since he got sick.
--Discovered that I can be a mom and a working woman, all at the same time. I can leave home without a meltdown and come home and resume mommy duties the second I walk in.
--Got significantly closer to arranging supervision hours for my clinical work. I need two years of supervised therapy in order to be able to be an independent clinician. It's been a long road trying to get the Army to okay a supervision plan for us, but it looks like God is about to "open a door no man can close". He likes to do that. Getting this set up will enhance my energy and enthusiasm for what I do every day. I'd like to say finding purpose was easier, but sometimes my job felt so monotonous. Good to be working toward a goal. "Without a vision, the people perish." How true.
--So far, kept my "resolution" to read the Bible daily, just haven't quite read as much as I signed on for. I'm reading through the New Testament with Josh - the plan requires several chapters a day, which has been a stretch for me, but a good one. It's been so good to be reading consistently, allowing my heart to hear God and be more tuned in, more likely to pray, more likely to see things from God's perspective rather than my own, which tends to be soaked full of fear and doubt. Even if I can't keep up with the reading plan, I know I'm reading more than I would've before so hey, still a success.

Still love being this little boy's momma

Monday, January 3, 2011

Here goes nothin'

Well, tomorrow I am a working woman again. I will be balancing motherhood and career, like so many woman before me. It's intimidating, I'm learning. I know we will get into a rhythm that works for us, but right now, John's sleep schedule, well, he doesn't have a real schedule. He sleeps 5-8 hours at night, which is great, but it's not anything to set your watch by. Maybe that's just part of being a parent, losing the right to know what to expect. If that's true, then it's worth it.

Maybe most surprising, I'm not losing my mind. My emotions are even. No meltdowns. I'm just not letting myself brood on the inevitable. I have to work - no options. For the moms who have the option to stay home, do not take that for granted. What a gift! On the days when it feels like you just want to get out and have an adult conversation or pursue a career in the field you got your degree in, remember that the women who are out there working wish they were home with their children. We wish we could hold them a little longer at night instead of thinking how much sleep they're losing and wondering how they will function at work tomorrow. We wish we didn't have to get all our cuddle time in on nights and weekends. We wish we were where you are. Please don't take it for granted.

So here's to the greatest juggling act I've ever pulled off. I'm truly leaving my heart at home, it feels. Lord, help me be present and peaceful at work, even in the midst of the frustrations of the workplace. I can do this. Here I go...

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Stream of consciousness: going back to work

I'm not ready to go back to work. I would much rather stay home with my baby.

I had no idea I would be this kind of mom. I thought that having a career was a good thing, made me more balanced. I secretly thought stay-at-home moms were sort of unfortunate because they only had one thing to do all day long, while working mothers had the best of both worlds. Now I'm finding myself jealous of them.

So here I am, (less than) three days before returning to work and I would rather stay home. All the days of cuddling John, watching him learn how to play (a little), start smiling, sleeping through the night (finally) - I don't want it to end. Often I think I'm going to go back kicking and screaming. On good days I tell myself that work is the way I can help provide for John, make his life better. I tell myself that my dad worked all day, and I don't feel that I missed out on time with him. So John won't feel deprived from my absence. But I don't believe it.

Honestly, it's hard to imagine anyone, even Josh, parenting John all day long. After hours and days and weeks of being with him, seemingly non-stop, I know that I know him best. I know that laying on his back with his knees tucked into his chest makes his tummy feel better. I'm learning the difference between his cries - gas, dirty diapers, hunger. If I hear him in distress, I'm the one leaping out of my seat to find out what's wrong. I am willing to sit and hold him until he falls asleep if he's fussy, or even let him sleep on my chest if that will help. I would pretty much walk around with him most of the day if I could.

Everyone always said that you love your kids more than anything. I believe someone said, "Your love even surprises you." And it does. I finally understand a little of how God loves us. I get how Jesus can say, "I will be dirty so you can be clean. I will go hungry so you can eat. I will be naked so you can be clothed." It's true. I would do all those things. But Jesus can go one more, even to say, "I will be sin so that you will be holy; I will be separated from God (for a time) so that you can be reconciled." Wow. He was the embodiment of the heart of the ultimate parent, God. I started to get a glimpse of that love last night as I thought of how much I love John, how I would do anything for him. And certainly, I cannot love more than God, God who is love. Yea. Wow.

I know that God isn't going to send me back to work, sad and forlorn, and just leave me and let me work it out. I know there is enough grace for this next season, as there has been for pregnancy and adjusting to parenthood. These past seasons have been enjoyable and even easy most of the time. I know that is the result of God's grace, greasing up the gears so I can do what He has called me to do with ease and joy. I expect to have this same grace to enjoy the next season too. Thank you in advance, God.