Month: April 2012

Seventeen

Seventeen.  Full of ups and downs.  Ups: becoming more dextrous everyday.  The booty dance that makes me wonder about ever sending her to prom.  The “Blind Bartemaus” <<insert MG closing her eyes and walking around the house, often running into/tripping over furniture.  Hilarious (no babies have been injured).>>  Learning to go down the stairs on her bottom.  Even better when she sits down about 3 feet from the top stair expecting to start there.  The resurgence of the hello/goodbye wave.  Even better when it comes without prompting.  The new communication skills she seems to acquire overnight.  “We need to wash our hands” <>.  “We need to go upstairs/put on shoes/go outside/go to the car”.  <>.  It amazes me how little she says, yet how much she understands.  The new ways in which she mimics us: pretend drinking from Mommy’s tea cup, pretend rubbing on lotion, pretend washing hair, pretend wrapping baby up in Mama’s nightgown.  Oh how she loves those babies.  When I peek in on her in her crib, she’s hugging them to her chest, patting their little backs, jabbering some secret little language to them.  The dishwasher-helper-extraordinaire:

 (actually, this one is kinda scary, but she’s gotta learn somehow, right?)

The sympathy cough.  The newfound love of milk. The affectionately nicknamed “No Shimmy”:

Side note: I pride myself on not being a person who continually asks a child the same question over and over.  This series of questions was just a bait for the video.  Promise.

Actually, some days that’s an up and other days (when it seems to be the only thing she wants to do) it’s a major down.  Other downs: Not wanting to obey.  And sometimes it comes to a major battle.  Not being able to play independently some days and therefore not giving Mama a break.  The week of not napping.  Please tell me it’s normal for a 1 year old to give up her nap.  Yeah, didn’t think so.  The one year molars.  The new picky-picky eater.  Me losing my temper on more than one occasion and having to apologize. Some days it comes down to a battle of wills.  Other days it  feels like a miraculous striving of spirits all working together for the same great cause.  But I guess that’s what you get when you combine a headstrong Mama with a heartstrong Dadda:  An extra-strong little being coming to us in the body of a little girl.

We love you through your ups and downs, little girl.  Love us back the same, k? Photobucket

In Remembrance: April 26, 2006

(I hesitated to write this post because I realize that my experience is shallow compared to what many of my friends and peers experienced.  However, it felt very therapeutic to finally write down and release my memories (if you will) of that day.  Once I write something down, I give myself permission to only remember it when I want too.  So please understand that I do not write this to gain sympathy, but just to remember that day and the events surrounding it.)

It was April of my senior year of college.  I had literally 4 weeks of school left and  I would be forever done with classes for the rest of my life now.  (I still had a semester of student teaching left to go and who knows, maybe I will finally get that Art History degree someday down the road).

I was feeling pretty good….great actually.  I had just come off a very high weekend: On Friday, I had finally completed and presented my senior art show (decadence) that I had sweated through many, many hours of work on. My family had driven up for the special occasion and we had over seventy people come through Reade Hall that evening.   On Saturday, my friends and bridesmaids had thrown me an epic shower.  One for the record books.

 {theme copied, in part, from one of my favorite shows at the time.  A black and white affair}

The air was finally starting to warm up and you better believe I was already working on my summer wedding tan (yes, the neighbors did refer to me as “that one girl who is always outside tanning”).  What three weeks I had left in my classes seemed pithy compared to the monumental show I had completed and they required little outside work.   I had a scant three months until our wedding day (!!!!) so all day long visions of ivory buttercream and apple green flowers were dancing through my head.  I was a few days shy of heading to Chattanooga where my wonderful family would throw N and I a much-anticipated family shower.    It felt like the long, long chapter of academia was coming to a beautiful and appropriate close.  Soon I would be moving on to a new and exciting life of marriage and all the wonderful things that lay ahead.  In short: the days felt easy/exciting/breathable/fresh/wonderful/new for the first time in a long time..

But those carefree days were all too short-lived and shortly followed by one of the worst days of my life.

It was April 26, 2006.  My roommate had left that morning to head up north with another housemate to attend her bridal shower (yes, I was far from the only one dreaming of wedding dresses and color schemes at the TAJ).  For some reason–maybe it was just because our house was 2 members short that day–it seemed like campus was starting to thin out.  Inside, I could feel that little, nagging discouragement that had plagued me since the beginning of senior year: that this was all ending.  Maybe it was that sadness, or maybe it was a premonition of things to come.  My away message conveyed something along the lines of, “It’s already starting to feel more empty around here.” which turned out to be really dark and confusing for my out-of-state roommate a couple of hours later.

After a full day of classes and sunning what not, I decided to turn in “early” which I think was around 10:30pm (oh, college days).  It felt like I had just fallen asleep and was therefore very confused when another housemate entered my room.  “Hey K, I think you’re going to want to wake up.  There’s been an accident.  They think some Taylor students were involved.”  You know that icy cold panic that grips your heart when you first learn of terrible news…it was there, along with my foggy brain trying to make sense of what she had said.  We padded into the living room and turned on the local news.  There were the images—terrible, terrible images—of a smashed up fifteen-passenger van, police lights, shocked news anchors, strewn wreckage.  My housemate told me that it was speculated to be either a Real Life (student ministry) van or a banquet van.  She already knew of one supposed victim’s name who would have been involved in either of those scenarios.

This was all so surreal.  Our house was empty other than us.  Where was everyone?  As my foggy brain struggled to make sense two more girls entered and told us there was a campus-wide prayer meeting at the chapel starting soon.  I ran to check my email: sure enough, that was the only bit of news.  No other details.  I hurridly checked every single away message I could (although Facebook had been around for a few months at that time, AIM was a much more “reliable” source of news as people updated it more currently).  Most statuses hadn’t changed in the last hour or two.  Some vaguely called for prayer.  And that’s how I knew there had been a real tragedy.  Not because everyone was talking about it, but because no one was. I started to get the sense that being in an off-campus house meant we were removed from the mayhem that was possibly slowly encroaching on campus.  I couldn’t help myself: I checked her away message hoping against hope to see something bright and cheerful: I don’t know why everyone’s so worried.  I’m totally fine guys!  🙂   Instead I found a message about serving a banquet.  Hadn’t been changed in hours.  Oh, God, was this really happening?

We crammed into the chapel at the appointed time.  You couldn’t help but look around and take note of who was accounted for.  It didn’t take me long to find my sister and her wingmates.  Breathe.  N and his housemates were there too.  Breathe.  Snatches of conversation…rumors floating around.  Rumors that were probably more likely true than not on a small campus like ours.  One of N’s housemates was getting text updates about a girl who had purportedly been badly injured.  Dear God, I knew her too.  “She’s in a coma right now, may have brain damage when she comes out of it.  No one really knows at this point.”

The room finally hushed into an eerie silence when the President approached the microphone.  “Dear students, there has been a terrible accident.  We have lost five people.  One was badly injured.  We cannot tell you their names until all of the families have been notified.  Please join together and pray.  But before we do that, please call your parents.  We’ve had so many parents calling the school, wondering if you’re okay, that we can’t open any phone lines.”

Cell phones were passed around, families were called.  My sister told me she would take care of informing our parents, who were likely in bed, unaware in another state and time zone that anything of this magnitude had happened.  When she returned, I asked her how the conversation had gone.  She told me that she had assured them that we were okay and they had asked if she had seen N.  “I told them I had seen him here too.”

And then we prayed.  We didn’t know what to pray for, but one by one, students stepped up to the open mic and cried out to God.  Someone led us in a round of “It is Well with my Soul”.  Hymn after hymn followed.  Every once in a while, the room would quiet as one of the “higher ups” would step up to the mic to give us more information.  At 2am, we were still all packed in there, waiting and dreading the news.  Wondering what could be taking so long as the accident had happened hours earlier.

Finally around 2:30am, someone who we hadn’t yet heard from came to the mic.  We all sensed this was going to be it.  He said with a very heavy heart that he could finally tell us the names of the victims.  First, he told us the name of the injured student: that she was still alive, in a coma, had been life-lined to Fort Wayne.  It was still early, but it looked like she just might survive this.

And then one by one, with long composing pauses in between…as if each name was a sacred script,  he read the remaining five names.  After each dropped name, there was audible wailing and people collapsing to the ground in grief.  It felt like a horrible nightmare. Or a scene from the Old Testament.  Never in my life have I heard wailing and mourning like that.

Five people.  Five whole people who had walked campus with us just that day were gone.  Five people who were deeply connected on campus and loved by many.  Each name was familiar: a friend, a classmate, an ex, a sister, an employee.  Our campus was so small that not one  could have gone unknown.

Soon after the names were read and more prayers were offered, we left the chapel.

And then life stopped for about 4 days.  Classes were canceled.  News media encircled us.  Funerals were coordinated and attended.  The weather was bright and beautiful but there was a palpable, somber mood lying heavily on everything.  People brought  food over to our house that remained untouched.  Condolences poured in:

Dear Friends:
I am saddened to learn of the loss of several members from the Taylor community, and I pray for a full and speedy recovery for those hurting. I hope that each of you will find comfort in your faith and the love and support of your family and friends.
Laura and I send our heartfelt sympathies. Please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
May God bless each of you.
Sincerely, George W. Bush

I watched people go through various stages of grief.  I rubbed my friend’s back as she dry-heaved in the grass outside of our house.   We are just so sad.  For a while that is all we could properly say when asked.

The rest of the school year was a blur.  That heavy mood remained mostly until graduation.  Sure there was laughter again at some point on campus.  And classes had to go on (although I think everyone was at least given the option to pull out at that point and have their grades stand).  But everywhere you looked the signs of mourning were still there.  It was in the faces of the students and professors and staff.  It was in the art shows that were still to be presented.  It was in the emails to the events that still had to go on.  While we rejoiced at our graduation accomplishments, our mood was tempered by the ever-present state of loss that was constantly surrounding us in big and small ways.  You simply cannot rip six people off of a small campus and not expect the loss to be detrimental and far-reaching.

After graduation, I could not wait to get the H out of there. I was tired of grieving.  Tired of loss.  Tired of the heaviness.  I was ready to shed those layers and return home and wed N and move on with life.

The one bright spot in all of this was that the injured victim was pulling through.  Her family kept a blog and we daily checked in on it, learning that she was starting to show signs of communication and recognition.   We needed her to pull through and be the victory in all of this.  We needed someone to rally behind and we desperately needed her to walk away from this. Despite the fact that there were some odd dots, no one connected them.  There wasn’t any reason to even go there.  And 2 weeks after graduation, the hope that we felt towards her situation would be ripped away from us and replaced with an entirely new set of emotions that we were in no way prepared to deal with. I honestly feel that that story is not mine to tell but I’m sure by now you know how it ended.

These situations make us question God and wonder why.  What good could possibly come of this?  We may never know in this lifetime or the next.  But at the end of the day, I still trust that my God is good and just and fair.  And that He is in control.

“Though He slay me, yet I will hope in Him” Job 13:15

Whenever and wherever this story is told around the world, the LORD’s name will always be praised.  No matter what, that is how this story ends.

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So we meet again….

                                       blog world!

Last week I took a {brief} blogging break and enjoyed some refreshing creative enrichment for some inspiration.  Top on the list of things that inspire me: my husband.  Because you just never know what to expect from him!  This week it has been a dizzying whirlwind of cleaning out closets, cabinets and the much-neglected garage.  Why?  Well one day Daddy just became frustrated because the downstairs coat closet didn’t have enough room and the next thing I knew our entire house was being turned upside-down into an entirely new system (did I mention he never does anything half-heartedly?).  {shout-out to B who helped him out on a rainy, Friday night….I still don’t know where my baking sheets are, but I’m pretty thankful I didn’t have to touch any of that mess}

Usually I am the one who is cleaning and organizing, so it was nice to be on this side of things for once.  I just sat back and let him work his magic.  And it was magical.  One way that he far excels me in this area is that he is willing to give anything and everything away.  Me?  I’m much more of a sentimentalist.  Sometimes I hold onto things simply because they have a memory attached to them—be it big or small.  He, on the other hand, abides strictly by the one-year rule and will either it throw it away or donate it to a local mission we support.  Sometimes, I’m even convinced that should I not “earn my keep around here” that I’ll get donated to the mission.  (side note to friends: if you ever don’t hear from me for a week or two, you know where to find me: in the blue mission barn next to our chess set)

Being the sentimentalist that I am and a former art teacher to boot, I have a hard time throwing {some} things away.  I mean, even if it doesn’t serve a purpose now, it may someday.  And even if you don’t need it in it’s exact form, you may be able to repurpose it and use it somewhere else.  This is where N and my mom (yes, her too!) say no: throw it away.  But what if, what if you get rid of something you later need?    But what if it’s something that is really hard to find and you always regret getting rid of it (note: this has never happened, but it could, right?)  They would say just buy a new one. And it’s true.  Often I forget that I am saving *that one thing* and so when I need it or something like it, I end up buying a new one anyway.

So what is the point to all of this?  The point is that our book club is hosting a twenties-themed murder mystery dinner night.  I was cast as the jazzy nightclub singer with a seedy past (okay, I threw that last part in there, but is does make her sound more interesting, no?).  And her suggested costume is: a sequined evening gown.  The problem is, I don’t own any evening gowns.  I did once in my life, but seeing as it had been a whole year since I had worn them, to the mission they went.  That meant I had to buy a new one, but I was sure I wasn’t going to spend more than $12.  So what’s a girl to do?  Goodwill of course!

It was Friday.  There are two GW’s in close proximity to our house, but we were crunched for time and therefore ended up at the closest one…also known as the one with the crabbiest employees.  Hey, beggars can’t be choosers.

With MG in tow, I refreshed my mental image of what I was looking for.  In my phone, I had made a note of some twenties-type fashion inspiration:

-long pearl necklace…knotted?
-fringe
-noir makeup
-drop-waist
-sequins
-baggy forms
-hair pieces/cloche
-updos
-feathers
-ribbons around waist
-fur coat
-long cigarette
-art deco
-fake mole

I imagined my gal to look something like this:

                                                                                                                               (image from here)

I gravitated immediately to the wall of color-coordinated dresses.  I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for, but I carefully examined each one for size, length, and sequinning ability.  This was not just a shopping trip, this was a tactile experience.  You just can’t pass anything over too hastily.  I was almost to the end of the rack of blacks and then…
and then
I saw her.
Perfect condition, just as I had remembered her.  Long and sleek, just as I had remembered her.  Byer Too, size S, just as I had remembered her.  

My freshmen year homecoming dress, just as I had remembered her: 

(wan’t she a thing of beauty?  black, polyester blend with a jewel encrusted starburst erupting from the left hip)
So we meet again.
I don’t remember when we parted ways.  Perhaps it was in the last 5.5 years due to the prompting of my husband.  Perhaps it was in the last 10 years due to the prompting of my mother.  But I knew one thing: only the hands of Fate could have brought us together on this day. I had to have her back.
I apologized for giving her away.  She assured me that in her fourteen years,  she had happily served many more while she waited for my returm.  I quickly emptied the cart of my two maybes and removed her from her wire hanger.  She wasn’t perfect, but she would do.

I suppose N and mom were right. I don’t regret having to pay the $6 fee to get her back.   Because in the meantime, hopefully other girls were able to feel just as lovely as I once did in her while my closet expanded to hold more practical items.  My only remorse is that I don’t have a picture of the two of us in all of our original glory.  Probably thrown away due to the proddings of my mom/N.  ***On second thought,  I really should be thanking them.***

This weekend, I have big plans for my old, polyester friend–namely: sequins, feathers, and an elastic waistband.  But underneath, she will still be that black evening gown I put on fourteen years ago and felt oh-so-grown-up in.  So we meet again, old friend.

And so I walked away with a valuable lesson that day:  never hesitate to give away your things to others because whenever you need them again, they are sure to find a way back to you.

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Inspiration

Just like any good artist, we all need some inspiration every now and again to fill us up and keep us going for a stretch.

It’s been 3 months since I began this little blog endeavor and 2.5 months since I nervously debuted it.

Now, I am feel a little creatively cramped.

Sure, I’ve still got some Surviving Mamaland tricks up my sleeve.  And I’m not gonna keep you hanging forever on Boy Meets Girl or MG’s Birthstory.

But life’s been a little ________ lately.  Can’t really decide what to put in the blank because I need some time to step away from it before I can properly evaluate it.

In the meantime, I’ve been listening to some angsty music.
I’ve been doing some emotional bonding.
I’ve been savoring some tender moments without trying to process and relay them.

I’ve been reading this book:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H8mdtbVd1ek&feature=player_embedded%5D
(It’s raw, it’s emotional, it’s a read-with-caution-if-pregnant book, but I think I’m gonna like how it ends.)
I’m revisiting the fragile emotional state of my 13 year old self and seeing Titanic on Friday.  I haven’t seen it since I relayed the entire 3-hour plot in a 7-page journal entry.  {Bet you can’t wait for what is sure to be that emotional fallout.}
And slowly I am being filled.  I  can feel it coming back from deep within. 
So be on the lookout for a potential creative overshare/photo bomb/soulful post next week.  Or maybe just a normal post or two.  You just never know what you’re going to get from me these days—{and neither does my family….ha!}
Until then,

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MG’s birth story: The Day “It” became She

On any given day prior to June 29, 2010, we were absolutely convinced we were having a boy.

It wasn’t that I necessarily wanted a boy over a girl, it’s just that there were multiple experiences to make me think this babe was coming out blue.  It seemed like (or maybe I was just hearing) everyone was saying, “Boy, boy, boy”.  When Daddy was asked what he wanted, instead of saying the typical, “I don’t care as long as it’s healthy..blah, blah, blah”, he chose a side….boy.  We called her by her boy name.  We prayed for her by her boy name.  And there were several other convincing factors that are more of an “in person type of story” that led us to believe that we would have a son joining our family that November.

I even bought 2 whole bags of boy clothes.  And zero girl clothes.  Yes, I do realize there is always a 50/50 chance.   But the odds didn’t concern me.  I relied on my intuition. I just knew I was having a boy.

We went into the gender ultrasound with lots of nervous excitement.  Would he look okay?  Would they see anything suspicious?  Would they finally relieve the stress and tell us it’s a boy?

The ultrasound tech, the same one I’d had for my first two ultrasounds, is a bit of an ice queen. N tried to warm her up by asking her (before the appointment even started), “So what do you think?  Boy or girl?”  She gave a stilted, and I do mean stilted laugh and said, “No one’s ever asked me that at the beginning before.”  She did a once-over on my belly and pronounced, “Boy.”  Knew it.

I climbed up on the table and the lights were dimmed.  We watched our little baby, who was thankfully, much more baby-like this time, pop up on the screen.  Four limbs were counted hastily.  The heartbeat was confirmed.  Ah, I felt like I can breathe again.

“I believe it’s a girl”.  Said the Queen, with much less conviction than I would hope for when you are handing me my eternal fate.

Was that it?  No build-up.  No, “Are you ready to find out what you’re having?!?“.  No excited trills or proclamations?

N and I both looked at each other.  “I mean, are you sure?”

“Well, the legs are crossed right now.  Let, me just see….”  And she proceeded to mash and prod my belly with the warm laser.  I mentally willed those little legs to move.

“Okay, yep, definitely a girl.  See right here?”  Those little legs were doing the amniotic splits.  There was nothing to see there.

N didn’t say anything.  I said meekly, “I always wanted a little girl.”  But I knew it wasn’t convincing.  He was in shock, I was in shock.  But I wasn’t about to let the Ice Queen think we were disappointed.  So I kept trying to cover for us.

She must have sensed our confusion because she quickly changed the topic to the recent episode of the Bachelorette and how she thought I resembled Ali.  I wasn’t sure if I was relieved for a change of topic, worried that she thought we hated our outcome, or annoyed that we spent more time talking about the B than our baby.

We even have this {now} hilarious video of our “recovery”  in the waiting room.  When asked my first thought upon hearing girl I said, “Now I’ll have to return all those clothes I bought.”  N’s?  “How am I going to pay for a wedding?”  When asked our biggest fears about a pink baby, N: “I hope she looks like you”.  Me: “I hope she…is a girl when she comes out”.  Clearly I hadn’t been converted yet.

While we waited for the doctor to see us, I cornered N.  “Are you disappointed?”

“No, no.  Not disappointed. {and he would have told me}  I just don’t know how to do girls.”  He had that deer-in-headlights look and I totally got it.  He grew up in a boy-dominated house.  His family spent the summer camping.  He dug snakes and crawfish out of the creek in his backyard and kept them as pets.  He had mastered 13 distinct gun noises by the time he was 7.

Little did he know, one of the things I had always said to be true about him long before babies were a thought in our minds: he will be such a good dad of girls.  And he is.  Encouraging, funny, sensitive, compassionate, persistent.  Embarrassing…but in that “protective sort of way”.  He will always pursue our girl and make her feel special and loved.  Just as he did her Mama.

After the appointment, the very first place I went was………Old Navy.  Why?  Well remember those bags of boy clothes?  They were running a special that was ending that day so I wanted to exchange the clothes and hopefully find some good bargains on girl clothes.

   (side note: It was on this day that I purchased one of my very favorite outfits for baby MG, pictured here.  Maybe one of the reasons I loved it so much is because the day I bought it  was the first time I emotionally bonded with her?)      

Girl clothes.  As I perused the aforementioned neglected-by-myself girl section, I felt so lost.  I felt so out of place.  I had to completely re-align my thinking with reality.   My alliance had been to the boys for so long, that I felt guilty and confused buying for a girl.  What are these lace leggings for?  Do I even like lace?  Is it okay to not dress your daughter in head-to-toe pink?  How do I feel about jellies?  Somebody take me to the bows…stat.    

I had an almost uncontrollable urge to run over to every mother-daughter pair and interrogate them.  “What do you think of having a girl?  What should I buy?  Where should I begin?” In fact, one of my reoccurring nightmares was that the doctors had been wrong and this baby would come out a boy.  Silly, I know.  But that thought had been there for so long, that it was incredibly hard to rethink.

When I brought home my new pink and lavender purchases and showed them to Daddy (who, by the way, still hadn’t lost that deer-in-headlights-look), we both had a moment of, “Wow.  This is it.  We are going to be buying pink clothes for the rest of our lives!”  And so be it.

My dear, darling MG,

Ever since we found out you were a little girl, that’s all you’ve ever been to us.  Our little girl. We loved you from the moment we found out you were joining our family.  But this new knowledge made our hearts swell with even more love for you.  Because now you were a person, an identity.  You had a name.  You had a form.  You had a future.  You were changing our family.  And for the better.

In the back of my mind, I always knew I wanted a little girl.  Someday.  I never wanted to be the solo female in a male-dominated house.  Thank you for single-handedly getting me out of that!  I’ve never been good at dinosaurs or war games, but I can throw a heck of a tea party!  Plus, I was nervous that I would never have a little girl to pass on my dearly loved baby dolls  and to wear my old gently loved baby clothes that your Granny lovingly saved for you.  I have so many vivid memories of my childhood: of slumber parties, and life-changing books, and  doll-houses, and kittens and ponies, and childhood fantasies.  I absolutely cannot wait to pass these memories and experiences on to you.  Tell me, how would I do that with a little boy?

In fact, finding out you were a girl was a wonderful surprise because I was actually SURPRISED….and for a planner like me, sometimes surprises come in the best forms…just like a little pink you.

I love you, my little girl.

“I’ll love you forever and like you for always.  As long as I’m living, my little girl you’ll always be.”

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part IV

It’s been one of those

                                          weeks.

Because there have been one or two semi-major things that have happened, all of the minor things feel that much more monumental. It’s been a week of burdens.  Burdens when all does not feel right, burdens piling up for others going through hard things,  burdens when you feel like you just didn’t measure up.  A week of heaviness.

One of the MOPs Mamas spoke to my heart recently when she asked us to pray.  We all bowed our heads and she simply said, “Dear LORD,    Help!

“Dear LORD, HELP” Has been not far from my lips this week:  Help the couple who lost their child.  Help the friends who are losing their parents.  Help the grandchild who is losing her grandma.

Dear LORD, Help my child to be free from the pain of these teeth so she can sleep.  Help her to learn new ways to communicate sweetly.  Help her to continue to grow and develop and thrive.

Dear LORD, Help me to be the best Mama for her.  Help me to listen to Daddy even when my mind is a hundred different places.  Help me to figure out what is going on with my body so I can start to feel ‘normal’ again.  Help me not to react in frustration when it feels like I’ve spent the whole day saying, “no”.  Help me not to feel rejected when MG can go an entire day without showing any sort of love or sweetness towards me.

Help me.

Have you noticed that often our cry for help is not answered with an immediate righting of the situation? Sometimes it is a quiet peace in your heart that everything will be okay.  Sometimes it is a quick breath to step back from a situation and react without emotion.

And sometimes it is the courage to call a friend. It takes courage to ask for help because we are too prideful to appear weak and we are too afraid to burden others.

Carry each others’ burdens and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Gal 6:2

Though if we are honest, when a true friend asks for help, it is never a burden to help them.  It is always a privilege because you feel God using you to do His work.  

“Dear LORD, Help!”

Help next week to be a fresh start.  Help me to cast my cares on You and to not carry them on my own.  Help me not to be afraid to ask for help.  Help me be available when others ask me.

Thanks for helping me out and listening to my little ‘therapeutic journalism’, friends.
Sometimes a girl’s just got to get it out,

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sixteen point five

Months, that is!

Our busy little bee is all over the place, discovering there is so much more to the world then she ever imagined.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96_35j1_sVA&feature=player_embedded%5D

A child can teach an adult three things: to be happy for no reason, to always be busy with something, and to know how to demand with all his might that which he desires.  Paulo Coelho Photobucket

California

Here we coooooooome!!!

Things we did:                            (*my apologies, as all of the pictures either came from phone or point-and-shoot)

Felt like queens at the Kings game (4th row seats!!)

Gathered eggs for Granny (MG)

Swung all our cares away

-Tooled around in the Cozy Coupe (MG)
-Popped bubbles with our noses (MG)
-Learned that anteaters were in fact, not dogs

-Took an overnight trip to Carmel (N & I)

-Drove through Salinas Valley and rediscussed East of Eden
-Mastered a stick (N)
Laughed every time we saw “Carmel fill-in-the-blank”Too close to home, if you know what I mean.
Shopped at Forever 21 Outlet, the European boutique, and everything in between.  Forgot how wonderful it was to shop with no schedule to mind and no baby waiting for your return (K)
-Viewed the Carmel Mission from the fence.  Did not pay the $13 admission to enter.
-Whistfully gazed at Pebble Beach and the FLW house

-Played a blazing round of Jeopardy…questions courtesy of N’s work.  (And just for the record, Team KatNanss won)
-Enjoyed some delicious cooking

-Visited the Children’s Museum.  Cried when we left (MG)
-Ate lots of snacks

-Survived the plane ride and lived to tell about it

Until next time, CA!
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Surviving Mamaland: Airplanes

Airplanes.  Did you just involuntarily shudder?
I know I did.

There’s no form of travel I hate more then by sky.

It’s not that I’m afraid to fly…although…when you inevitably hit that patch of turbulence and you begin confessing things you didn’t even know you had done, then I do start to wonder about my brazen attitude towards it.

It’s just that I hate the whole darn rigmarole. I hate getting to the airport and never knowing if you are going to be on time or not.  I hate getting up at 3:45am to drive 45 minutes, to wait in line 10 minutes, to wait in line 30 minutes, to remove clothing articles in front of/with strangers, to walk barefoot all over the nasty floor (why do I always forget to bring socks??), to smile with confidence, but not too much confidence at the security guard (please don’t pick me, please don’t pick me), to skimpily packing in order to not have to pay a checked baggage fee, to never bringing what I want because my desired items will never make it through the scanner, to waiting an hour for my flight (if I’m lucky), to potluck seating, to recycled air, to airplane lavatories, to being in close confinement with strangers (I’ve got a book AND headphones in…please, please, don’t make small talk with me), to uncomfortable seats, to arriving unfashionably late and weary.  And this was pre-kids.

Now take all of this, PLUS add in the unbending schedule of a toddler, PLUS add in extra security so you can bring a water-bottle and a gazillion snacks through, PLUS add in the germs..oh the germs. And MINUS the one part of airplane travel I did actually enjoy: uninterrupted time to sleep/read.  Sounds like fun, no?

Thankfully, my parents moved clear across the country about 4 years ago…so I’ve had to come to terms with this whole flying business.  AND once we get there, the perks are pretty amazing.  But how do you survive UNTIL you get there?

 

MG has flown with us at 4, 8, and 16 months (I guess we like the “divisible by four” months).  Each had its own set of challenges and eases.  These are no ordinary non-stop 2 hour flights, mind you.  These are 10-hour door-to-door, 1 or two stops with 1-3 hour layovers in between.  They are work.  While we are by no means experts, here are some things we learned along the way that may hopefully help one or two of you out there in the future.

 

Bring only, and I mean only, the necessities.  When you arrive, buy what you need: i.e. diapers, food, etc.  Or, if you’re lucky (us), your final destination will have all of these things for you already. (thanks, Mom!)  Often hotels will provide pack ‘n plays and high chairs.  And does your baby really need many toys when they are at a new place?  Traveling calls for a little creativity and you can get by with less.

Deal with it for a day.  Flying calls me to step outside my bounds and live a little.  The schedule goes out the window.  New foods are introduced (I’ve got two words for you: dum-dums) to keep little hands busy.  Vomit bags transform into paper puppets. And you better believe when we arrive, she gets a bath to wash off all of the ‘travel germs’…but until then….we just deal with it!

Let the baby suck during take-off and landing.  And by suck, I don’t mean kick and scream (although sometimes that just happens).  If they are still nursing or bottle-feeding, let them do it during this time because the sucking reflex helps their ears adjust to the air pressure.  This is trickier then it sounds, though.  MG could drain me dry in about 5 minutes, so I really had to time it right.  Note to self: when the captain says to “prepare for descent”, you still actually have about 15 minutes until you need to prepare for descent.  Also, can I just add that there’s nothing more uncomfortable then trying to nurse a 28″ baby in the confinement of a 20″ seat with a neighbor on each side.  {Hopefully you’ll sit next to a Mama or Grandma who won’t mind the occasional kick or jab.}  Once they have outgrown the bottle stage, use either a pacifier (if they still take one) or some kind of food or drink (or the dum-dums, don’t forget the dum-dums!!)

Bring something new that she’s never seen before:  For this last trip, I packed only 2 toys in the diaper bag (and 3 books if you count those as toys).  Both of them were new.  I saved them for the 4.5 hour (shoot me) flight. When we were on hour 3 and running out of fun ideas, I pulled one out.  The excitement lasted for about 20 minutes, but when your child has an attention span of about 2, a twenty minute interlude is heavenly!  While your child is preoccupied with something, always have the next thing in mind for her to do.  After about an hour, you can revisit old ideas. Let’s just say that by the end of the flight you will be more tired then…well…a baby who missed her nap…but I think you can measure your success by how long your seatmate napped (3 out of 4.5 hours…success!)

Buy an extra seat if you can/want to afford it.  This is more of a luxury than a necessity, and one I have to admit we’ve always been too cheap to do.  Thankfully, we’ve flown some pretty early, random flights and had empty rows or seats so we could spread out a little.  Having an extra seat makes a huge difference to a wiggly toddler.  MG’s never been much of a lap baby but always has been pretty happy in her car seat.  When she was younger, if we’d had her car seat and an extra seat between us, I’m pretty sure she would have snoozed the entire trip.  So if you’re like us and too cheap to buy a seat for the little one, pray for extra ones!

Things that did not work for us:
-Videos: MG doesn’t really watch TV (yet) at home, so she doesn’t really seem interested in it on planes.  Darn!!!  What did work (for about 5 minutes) was showing her pictures of herself on the iPad and videotaping her where she could watch herself perform.  We’ll take it!
-Constant entertainment: At some point during this 10 hour day, we all hit our walls.  Nothing is going to distract her from being tired and this is when Daddy takes over.  He takes her in the back of the plane and rocks her to sleep standing up(only because this seems to be the only position she will fall asleep in….but every baby is different).  Thankfully, I haven’t had to attempt this trip by myself yet, but if I did, we would just make it work, I guess!

 

I do have to say: there’s nothing like flying with a baby to have your faith restored in humanity.  From the kind stewardesses who sanitized MG’s dropped paci in scalding water, to the Grandmas who played peek-a-boo with her when I was about out of ideas, to the comments from strangers on the easy flights “Oh what a good baby!  You are such a good baby!”  Most of us who fly know that it is a less than ideal situation for both the parent and the child so we are willing to accommodate.  Those who don’t understand…well…you’ll never see those people again in your life. So don’t sweat it!

 

Having a baby doesn’t have to keep you from traveling the “friendly” skies.  And sometimes, it’s downright worth the speed and efficiency.  But let’s all pray they come up with a better method of travel.  Fast.

 

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He is Risen!

He is risen indeed!

All Hell seemed to whisper: ‘Just forget him, he’s dead’.
Then the Father looked down to the Son and said,
‘Arise, My love.  Arise, My love.  
The grave no longer has a hold on you.
No more Death’s sting, no more suffering.
Arise! Arise! Arise!

Sin, where are your shackles?
Death, where is your sting?
Hell has been defeated.
The grave could not hold a King!

Happy Easter, Little Bunny!
This year, the Easter bunny (AKA Granny) left you raisins in your basket.  In your world, this is even better than candy!  Your smile, your ticklishness, your joy: they all overwhelm me with love for you. I can’t believe that Jesus loves you even more than I do!  Someday you will understand that.  Love you, pretty girl!

Thank you, LORD, for not only dying for my sins, but also for the sins of my daughter.
Truly there is no greater LOVE than this!

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