Thursday, November 4, 2010

2 years. 2 months.

It has been awhile, oh Blog o' mine. Many moments since July 31 have warranted a post--some marker to later remind myself of these days, but I just haven't done it.

But today is special (not that every other day isn't). Today is my middle child's 2nd birthday. She's beautiful. She has crystal blue eyes and hair that is growing these sweet little baby curls in the back. Some days I want to just freeze time. She's affectionate and snuggly, and very very opinionated. Over the last couple of weeks, she has most certainly reinforced the "Terrible Two's" reputation--temper tantrums that can only be left alone, a ready "NO" regardless of the question, and a general contrary spirit that is immensely frustrating to all of us. But she's so cute.

The girl talks. A LOT. She's anxious to communicate, and you can almost hear how hard she works to put words together into the complex sentences she's surprisingly able to construct. "Mommy...I want...go...Rachel's room...Rachel...say...noooooo," in her tiny little voice, with her most serious expression, wagging her finger and nodding her head all the way. It's cute. She repeats Rachel without letting her even complete her own sentences sometimes (Rachel says, "Carly! Don't coffee me!").

We tried to move her to Rachel's room a few nights ago. It didn't go well. At all. We even pushed the beds together so it would be like she's sleeping WITH her sister, but to no avail. I was anxious, because we need the nursery for my growing fat baby boy, but we will just have to figure out something else for now.

AND speaking of my fat baby, I never have posted about him! Yesterday was his 2-month birthday! I can't believe he's that old, but at the same time, I can't believe he's that young! The kid was 9 lbs 5 oz at birth, and he has not slowed down at all. He's so much bigger than the girls were at this age that I forget how young he really is (I find myself picking him up like he's a 4-month-old and then remembering that he's not quite so steady yet). He's a cute one, too. I think he looks a lot like Carly did, but I can see Rachel in him often, too. It will be fun to watch him grow and to see who he resembles most. Of course, like the other two, it seems he will have blue eyes like their father. But I'm in love with those blue eyes, so I consider it a good thing.

Labor and delivery were not so different this time. I thought he would come a little faster, but he didn't (of course), and, as providence would have it, he was born in the 8:00pm hour, just like my other two. Weird. He was 9 days late--9 extra days of a pregnancy that could not have been slower.

I struggled emotionally after Carly was born. For the entire first year I struggled. But I feel great this time. I can attribute that to many things. For one, I am in a better place spiritually than I have ever been. When Carly was born, I was at a low. I struggled with bitterness and resentment toward my husband, and it took that year for the Lord to reveal truths to me that ultimately humbled me and allowed me to experience real love--from God and from my husband. Secondly, my little fat baby is SUCH A GOOD SLEEPER. I think getting adequate (or anywhere close to adequate) sleep makes a really really big difference in my (anyone's?) psychological health. Carly nursed all night long (almost) for her entire first year (almost). Once I put her down at night, I never knew when or how often she'd be up again. But James (did I say we named him James?) has been a sleeper from the beginning, and already he has a lovely routine of taking a good, hard, solid 3-hour nap every single afternoon, and going to bed (sleeping HARD) sometime during the 7:00pm hour, not waking again until 2:00am at the earliest. Even if he wakes up for some reason, he has no interest in nursing, so I'm totally off the hook. Neither of my girls have been this way. Rachel was a great night sleeper, but not daytime. Carly slept just okay during the day, and terrible at night. James...I prayed for you, dear sir--that you would just SLEEP. Praise the Lord!

And finally, I think the biggest reason I feel great is because I felt so HORRIBLE during this last pregnancy! Almost from the day I found out I was pregnant, I felt awful. I didn't have morning sickness, thankfully (and I know some of you probably stopped reading right there because of how unfair that is), but this boy killed my back. I had sciatic nerve pain the whole time (to the point that walking reduced me to tears at times), and by the end, I thought my pelvis would shatter and my hips would be permanently dislocated. I felt completely debilitated to do the simplest chores around the house. I didn't cook dinner. I never cleaned. It's a wonder my family survived. Of course, my husband was the hero--I think he barely survived.

I cannot capture all of the joyous details I've skipped over the last 3 months, but I can definitely say that, while I am a tired mommy, I am blissfully tired. This has always been my dream--to be a mommy. I work hard. I have learned to be more organized and more productive. I feel accomplished to accomplish what would seem so simple, were I not juggling three little kids along the way.

And while my kids make me crazy most of the time, I try to realize how quickly time passes, and how I will long to return here, if only for a day, when my kids are grown, and I try to cherish the everyday moments and freeze them, if only in my mind's eye.

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Well, it's official: I've been pregnant for a really long time. This pregnancy has seemed to last forever. I wanted to get my thoughts out about all of it before Baby Boy gets here, lest I forget (isn't it weird how soon we forget?...definitely a God thing--why else would I ever do this again??).

Almost since Day One of this pregnancy, I've had terrible back pain. Baby has bothered my sciatic nerve the entire time, and I have required a lot of help from friends and family (some times more than others, and completely unpredictable from one day to the next). My sweet husband has been more than willing to help around the house, and I'm so grateful to have several family members (including grandparents!) closeby and available, too. All-in-all, it has been a humbling nine months for me.

My sweet girls have grown up during this time, too. It is incredible to watch the rapid change that happens in a kid between her first birthday and her second. Carly will be two at the beginning of November, and, as much as she delights my heart, she is definitely coming into her own. Her big sister is an incredibly intense, persistent, and perceptive child, but Carly has made it clear that she is able to--and will certainly grow into her ability to--match wits with Rachel. I often hear friends remark on how different their children are from each other, but I am here to tell you that I have a set of identicals on my hands. There are differences, of course, and I think Carly would be a bit calmer than Rachel if she weren't trying to keep up with her sissy. Carly is much snugglier than Rachel ever has been. Rachel is very physical, but not snuggly. And Carly is a Mama's Girl, whereas Rachel has always always been a Daddy's girl--a few nights ago, at bedtime, she said to me, "it's's's just that I love Daddy just a little bit more than you" (and besides that, she looks and expresses herself JUST LIKE HIM). As much as they have grown to be so similar, Carly at least resembled me a bit more in the beginning. But, as with her little personality, her little face has morphed into one that very strongly resembles that of her big sister, and there is no longer any question that the two are closely related.

Rachel was a late talker, but once she got started, she has not stopped talking. She asks questions incessantly, and seems to feel the need to know every detail of every goings-on around her. With her non-stop talking, Carly speech and language have been incredibly accelerated (at least compared to Rachel's). At 20 months, she is readily putting words together into complete thoughts and having full conversations with us (albeit, simplistic and repetitive ones).

And one of my favorite things right now is listening to Rachel and Carly converse. The two are definitely getting to a fun stage where they entertain each other, and I get to listen to cackles and squeals from the two of them as they play (along with regular intervals of fusses and whines). But Rachel enjoys banter, so she is always prodding Carly with ridiculous conversation. Here's an example...

  • Rachel: Mommy, I'm hungry. Can I have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
  • Mommy: Yes, it's lunch time, we can do that.
  • Carly: Mommy, I hungy! Peanut butter!!!
  • Rachel: Carly, I'm hungry too, can I be hungry too?
  • Carly: NOOOOO!
  • Rachel: Carly, can I have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich too?
  • Carly: NOOOO! NO! NO! Mommy, peanut butter!
  • Rachel: Carly, I want one, Mommy can I have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, Mommy?
  • Mommy: Yes, Honey, I've already said you can.
  • Rachel (whiny voice): Carly says I can't.
  • Mommy: (sigh)

It's funny to recount, but, as it happens many times a day, it can become rather wearing.

Rachel turned four in June, and she's grown in many ways. I had been holding out for four, hoping she would settle down some (as promised by some friends with spirited children). Her birthday came and went without much change. Just as we were rounding the corner to July, though, it happened. I still would describe her as "spirited," but she seems significantly more malleable now. She is more willing to hear us out and to concede to our authority over her. She is easier to discipline (I was at my wits end with disciplining her because she did not respond well to anything we tried--it was all like a game to her) and [usually] seems genuinely humbled when she makes a bad choice that leads to action from us. She is also displaying more discernment, which is a relief, and I don't feel the need to keep my eyes on her at every second for fear of where her impulses will lead. It is a nice change to send her upstairs with her friends to play by themselves, or to let her swim around the shallow end with her floaties and not worry that she'll slip out of the pool and run to the other end. I long for a fence around our backyard so I can send her out to play there! Although, she does not usually choose to be alone, so I'm not sure she would go out by herself little extrovert.

And as Rachel rounded the corner to 4-year-old maturity, Carly passed her by, rounding the corner in the other direction. Almost on cue, she became contrary and determined, easily-frustrated and not easily-convinced when it comes to doing anything that isn't her idea. It's all so familiar that it's eerie. She's still cute, with all her baby pudgy, those piercing blue eyes, her funny little antics and the way she talks. But because she is so similar to Rachel, I know where it leads, and it makes me nervous and almost dreading her third year (she's not even two, and I'm dreading her third unreasonable is that?). I am hoping that, having come out on the other side with Rachel, I will be able to have a better outlook the second time around. I am also praying to enjoy this sweet season with her now, before the storm really hits, and that God will give me wisdom to handle it better when it comes.

And Baby Boy. We cannot wait to meet you. We cannot imagine how our lives will change. I have tried to imagine snuggling up with a baby boy (all my friends say boys are the cuddliest and that they do so love their mommies), but it's hard to envision it being the same with a boy. Baby girls are little, sweet flowers--delicate and feminine and dainty. It is just difficult for me to anticipate what having a boy will be like. I'm intrigued and excited to have a new experience on our third time around. I'm also extremely curious about how different this child might be. The first two sure look like their daddy. This one might look like me. My labors were identical with Rachel and Carly (17-hour labor, 30-45 minutes pushing, both born around 8:30pm, perfectly healthy, both weighing 7lbs 12oz, no meds), and neither were earlier than predicted (in fact, Carly was seven days LATE). This one might really surprise us and come early, and he might come fast, or we might need interventions we've never had to have before. Who knows?? It would be very surprising if it all happened the same a THIRD time, so I'm expecting the unexpected, knowing all the while that I cannot prepare because I just don't know (neither from experience nor from my imagination) what will be.

So, looking at my ticker, I am at 36 weeks and 3 days today. The house is a wreck--there's so much that needs to be done before Baby makes his debut. We need to settle on a name. As long as this pregnancy has seemed, this date has surely crept up on me. But I remain fairly relaxed. I guess I feel as prepared as I'll ever be and as unprepared as I've ever been.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

a race-y post

I can honestly say that I am a prejudiced person (and I hate it about myself). I can honestly say that I believe everyone is (because we are all so incredibly flawed). But I can honestly say that I have never ever ever been racist. I seek to love all people as Christ loves all people--equally and with a servant's heart. I can honestly say that I fail at this regularly, as my heart often chooses to believe lies instead of Truth.

I have been so very bothered about the video included in this CNN article.

Bear with me, here, but...where is the control group? To what are we comparing these children's answers? All I see here is a study on color. Not skin color, mind you, but color. The child in this video, as admitted by her mother, has not been exposed to much ethnic diversity in her short life. She probably has, however, watched hours upon hours of Disney princess movies and the like, wherein darkness is always, always associated with evil. What conclusion must she draw?

This study is reality. People with dark skin have a plight, and this is it: since the beginning of history, obscurity is bad and light is good. If the study had shown children pictures of identical children wearing dark clothing versus light clothing, I venture to guess the results would be the same.

There are also emotions associated with every color of the rainbow (anyone who has taken a marketing class has been taught this basic idea). Yellow is happy and blue is calm. Perhaps CNN should do a study showing identical children with skin tones or clothing of every color, and asked the questions, "Which is the happy child?" and "Which is the calm child?" I imagine the results would largely reflect how each child's mood affected by the colors represented.

I think I am most bothered because this little girl is Rachel. She's fair and innocent, about the same age, and having lived in a sort of protected bubble so far in her sweet little life. I felt preyed upon by CNN. This mother--presumably intentionally chosen for the interview because of her blond hair and southern accent--was upset to the point of tears, and then badgered (in my opinion) about her daughter having a "healthy ego." She was put on the spot and made to feel as if her child is racist--race being a subject that has probably never even occurred to the child.

I can't quite get my bearings on what point CNN is trying to make through this study. In the article, it seems as if black families talk with their children about race--because they have to. Their children automatically face obstacles that white and fair children do not--the darker their skin, the bigger and more frequent the obstacles. How can white people help? I think we must give our children opportunities to interact with people of other ethnicities. We must find ways to build relationships and to love them and serve them as equals and superiors. I truly don't think just talking about it will remedy much, because everyone has a fear of the unknown. We can talk ourselves until we are blue in the face (ha!), but until our children know through experience that it's okay, they will fear other races.

Practically, this can be challenging. Most of us live and work and play and socialize with people who are like us. And that's understandable. I think minorities do the same thing. It's comfortable. It's easy. The plight of dark-skinned people will never be reversed, in my opinion. But those of us who don't experience it can surely do something to remedy the problem, to aid in their course, to help them overcome--obstacles and fears of their own--and to display love and compassion, understanding and empathy. These are people, who live with a sort of inborn oppression that I can never understand. I simply pray that I don't add to it, and that, most of all, they see a glimpse of the character of Jesus in me, so that they will be drawn to a Savior who cares and understands and wants to carry their burdens for them, and who ultimately died for each and every person: "...and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation" (Revelation 5:9). Praise and glory to the One who is the very embodiment of unconditional, unwavering LOVE.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

she's eighteen...months

Oh, sweet Carly. I have so much updating to do on her growth and goings-on. She adores her big sister, and she's learned to push Rachel's buttons, too. She's opinionated and full of personality. Life is so much more fun with her around.

Last Monday, I started her in big girl undies. ...well, to her, they are big girl undies. They are really the teeny tiny padded Gerber training undies, but they are definitely not diapers, which is the key. My plan was to wait until the weather got warm enough, and then let her run around in undies and a tee for a few days until she figured things out. Thankfully, I don't have to worry one iota about poopy, because she hasn't done that in her pants in MONTHS...I honestly cannot remember the last poopy diaper I had to change. So, I've waited on the peepee. I started Rachel in undies much earlier, and it resulted in much frustration. Looking back on our EC experience with her, it was just a silly mistake on my part--I needed to be comfortable waiting until the child could clearly communicate her needs. With Rachel, I was left guessing (does that mean potty? does she need to go? is she going to go in her pants??). Carly can say everything that needs to be said, and clearly has a grasp of all of it: potty, diaper, undies, dry, wet...she gets it.

So last Monday and Tuesday were full of puddles. She did immediately start telling me when she had wet (she was always so concerned with "peepee...floor"). By Wednesday, we could have let ourselves become quite frustrated, but, I held onto hope that she'd get better. By the weekend, she was making it to the potty much more often, and yesterday, we were accident-free! AND, the best part is that we aren't having to prompt her at all--I think that is key to knowing she understands (I remember constantly asking Rachel, mostly out of fear that I would miss her cues). She even woke up Monday morning, calling "potty, potty, potty" and her diaper was DRY! That hasn't happened again, although her morning daipers have been significantly less soggy. I'm certainly okay with that taking a little longer (Rachel was almost 2 1/2 before she stayed dry at night).

At any rate, it appears we're pretty well there--with a potty-trained baby turning 18 months old yesterday. And I could not be more pleased with our journey this time around. We started on Day 1 with EC (Elimination Communication) this time. It sounds like a long time to work on something, but it has become a lifestyle around here. Was it worth it, knowing that I might could have gone this route (that is, potty training by way of training pants in 2 weeks or less) even without all the preliminary pottying that happened over the last 18 months? YES. A thousand times--YES. I cannot ignore the fact that she has always pooped in the potty as the rule, not the exception, and began doing so consistently around 7 months (whenever solid poop showed up and she began sitting up). No, she didn't tell me, and yes, I changed many poopy diapers too. But what mommy wouldn't give up a little extra effort to have to deal with LESS poopy?? By about 10 months, I probably only had to change one poopy diaper a week (give or take), and by 12 months, hardly ever. For THAT, and that alone, it's worth it to me. And I can't help but think that our week-in-undies has been made easier by EC.

Other things I love about Carly:

  • She loves hugs, and, although she's on-the-move all day, she regularly checks in for a good snuggle.
  • She also loves to snuggle with stuffed animals, and, anytime she snuggles, she says, "awwwwww" when she hugs one of her little friends, or one of us. It's very cute.
  • When she's having fun, she says, "BEEEEEEEE" instead of "weeeeee!"
  • She says "peeba" for "pizza" (which she loves).
  • When she nods affirmatively, her entire torso nods enthusiastically.
  • She LOVES to communicate, and gets so very excited when we understand her. She has lots of words, and sometimes will rattle them off, just to hear herself be understood ("knee...knee...knee..." "Yes, Carly, that IS your knee." ).
  • She's very ambitious, and is into climbing, jumping, and running. She is expressive when she falls ("woah!" she squeals).
  • She thinks Rachel is funny, and she seeks her big sissy's approval. She also knows how to get a rise out of Rachel, which is funny to watch, but it quickly creating points of contention throughout the day. Rachel's a tough cookie, but it appears that Carly will be giving her a run for her money. I love that.
  • She is the easiest to laugh. Just a tone in my voice or a sideways glance can get a giggle out of her. And she has the best giggle I've ever heard; it's impossible not to smile or laugh along with her.

There are so many things, every day. I can't count how many times I whisper under my breath, You are so stinkin' cute.. The twinkly in those clear blue eyes, and those squishy chubby, thighs and the little curls that are growing in the back of her hair...her random assortment of teeth, the way she'll crawl or scoot on her bottom just to be funny, the way she's beginning to pretend and form her own opinions. I think we'll keep her.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010


At my doctor's appointment yesterday (feeling pretty rough):

  • OB: How are you feeling?
  • Me (hoping for sympathy): Okay, but I had a terrible stomach virus over the weekend.
  • OB (totally monotone, not looking up from chart): Mmm, but it ran its course?
  • Me: Well...yeah...
  • OB (still looking at chart): I see you were able to maintain your weight gain.
  • Me: Yeah...

YES, I've been sickly. Last week, Carly got it--a 24-hour stomach thing. She threw up all night last Thursday, and she's still recovering. Saturday afternoon, just when I thought we were all in the clear, I came down with it. Thankfully, some friends were coming over, and they were just in time to entertain the girls while I lay down and tried to decide if it was all in my head, or if I was really sliding that fast. Sure enough, before the afternoon was out, I had handed my oldest daughter off, not caring what she'd be up to, I was praying that the littlest one would take a long nap (which she graciously did), and I was hunched over in the bathroom with the worst stomach virus I ever, ever, remember having. Of course, I'm sure being pregnant only magnified the effect. Hmph.

On the up side, the whole situation has made me so grateful. Grateful for my husband. He took such good care of Carly when she was sick (his mildly-paranoid nature leads him to be extra caring when our babies have sickness or injury or...anything). And when I was sick, my dear, wonderful husband was at my bedside, while at the same time juggling our ever-dependent children--feeding them, entertaining them, washing dishes, giving baths, vacuuming, calling on friends to pick up my medication (wonderful, good medication)...everything. He's the best.

And grateful for my health. Over the last three months, my health has been up and down. This pregnancy is kind of taking its toll on me. I've had terrible sciatica pain. It started early, and I didn't recognize what it was for weeks. It sloooooowly and gradually got worse, until standing to walk sometimes brought me to tears.

In the meantime, I was an emotional wreck. I casually mentioned the problem to my midwife, who casually suggested a chiropractor. I casually made an appointment, not really confident it would work (and not really confident I had a problem worthy of that sort of attention). For about two weeks leading up to the appointment, I was in tears, crying hysterically over nothing situations on a daily basis. I felt out of control, worthless, and...dramatic, anyone??

Finally, I went to the chiropractor--several times. And it helped--a lot. And, almost immediately, my perspective and my outlook did a 180. I did not realize how much my physical state was affecting my psyche, but it clearly was.

Which brings me to my point--so so many people live in constant pain. Some of you might be reading this right now. I don't know how you do it, but my heart hurts for you. I have no other words, because I have no idea what life is like for you.

Last night, I mustered up the strength to clean the kitchen for the first time in 4 days. Jarrad actually mentioned to me later that he felt he should have done that for me. I couldn't accept that, though. I was feeling so blessed just to be able to do it myself. When did I stop believing it was a blessing to have the capability to do things for myself?

So I'm thanking God for His little reminders of His blessings--the ones I miss every single day.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Easter dresses

I've missed out on posting a lot of fun stuff on here, but I wanted to at least make a point to post the dresses I made for the girls to wear on Easter Sunday. I actually went to JoAnn fabric store and BOUGHT brand new fabric for these. I intended to also buy patterns, thinking perhaps I could learn something if I tried to follow a pattern. However, patterns that involve anything complex are ridiculously expensive, and I just couldn't do it. So, after perusing my favorite blogs and googling everything I could think of, I made these dresses, using several brand new techniques...and, hey, I did learn a few things (or a LOT) by the end!

tutorials that inspired me:

Monday, March 8, 2010

fun fun funny fun

I made birthday presents, and a couple of bonuses for my girls!

After reading a few tutorials, I did a reverse applique for the initials: I pinned the contrasting fabric behind the front of the shirt, and a letter stencil (hand-drawn, thankyouverymuch) to the front, sewed around (but not on) the letter, then cut inside to expose the contrasting fabric. After washing, the edges look nicely ragged. I LOOOOOVE it, and it was really fast and easy. The best part is that I started with clearance shirts from Old Navy...$1.74! You can't beat personalized birthday presents for $1.74. The 'L' is for Lyssette, who also received a cutie tutu, and Brighton got a pair of pants made from the sleeves of a sweatshirt that never fit me quite right.

But the following is my fav-fav-favorite. I started with a hot pink shirt (like Carly's 'C') but I didn't want to do a grey E for my girly little niece Emma. SO, after much thought and consideration, I decided to use a fuzzy black velour-type fabric for her E. I had already finished all the other shirts...this was the last one...and I messed it up. On the final stretch of the 'E,' the whole thing got caught in my machine and ripped a hole in the shirt. When surveying the damage, I noticed that the whole thing turned out wonky (that velour has a lot of stretch...hmph). So back to Old Navy I went, not hopeful at finding another shirt, since they were mega-clearance to begin with. But what I found opened the door to a beautiful little outfit of which I am proudest, to date. I used the back of the messed-up pink shirt as my contrasting fabric. Then, I noticed that a skirt I've had in my stash for awhile, waiting to be repurposed, was the perfect shade of over-dyed denim to create a little matching skirt for baby Emma. I hacked it up and considered how to create it, when the faux wrap presented itself as an option. Serging the edges with contrasting-but-coordinating thread gave it that unfinished-finished feel, but it still seemed incomplete. And so I embarked on my first-ever embellishment, which fringed nicely in the wash. Still not satisfied, I decided to attempt leggings for the first time ever, as well. The sleeves of the pink shirt were perfect for a 3/4 length style, but I did have to piece together scraps from another pink shirt to have enough for the leggings...I'm super happy with the cuteness of the extra stripes on the bum. I sewed it all together to make one-piece, so the skirt stays rightly-oriented on our wiggly sweetie, and, VOILA! hands down, my favorite project yet!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

i love rachel

Rachel is growing up right before our eyes. She has developed some really cute habits, lately (along with a host of really annoying habits, but I'll leave that to your imagination). One of my favorite things she just started doing is clicking her tongue and pointing her finger after she matter-of-factly announces something to me. "Well, I could use my crayons instead of my markers [click/point]!" It's hard to argue with that self-assured presentation, Rach.

She's also inferred that "soaking" can be used instead of "very." I assume this is due to me referring to her as "soaking wet" after a bath? The first occurrence of the word came when she brought me the trash can from our bathroom "Mommy, you need to empty this trash can; it's soakin' full!" She had to repeat it before I understood, and I tried to stifle my giggles.

She also, within the last two days, has begun making up stories, mostly involving Carly and their cousin Emma. In the stories, the two babies are usually at MiMi's house, chasing each other and hitting each other. The parents usually get involved in some way, with appropriate scolding and exclamation. Cute. Yesterday, she told me that the two men who cleaned our gutters got married. When I reminded her that you need a boy and a girl to get married, not two boys, she declared, "Well, they did get married. They weren't aware of that rule. (shrugging and shaking her head) I don't know why they did."

She's thinking more (and thinking less...hmmm) and can figure things out, even when I don't want her to figure things out. My favorite conversation lately happened tonight after dinner:

  • Rachel: Daddy, why are you washing the dishes?
  • Mommy: Daddy is blessing Mommy by washing the dishes tonight, isn't he.
  • Rachel: Why is he blessing you?
  • Mommy: Well, Daddy has lots of his own work to do, but tonight he's helping me with my work. He's blessing me.
  • Rachel: What's blessing, Mommy?
  • Mommy: It's when you give someone something they want or need.
  • Rachel (thinking): You wanted Daddy to wash the dishes, Mommy?

Yes, child, yes I did. I was floored that she made that leap in logic. I guess we tall people often don't give the shorts much credit, but they sure are smart sometimes.

Anyway, the girl is driving me crazy most days, but I sure do love watching her grow and learn. She is so funny playing with Carly. When I asked her a couple of weeks ago if she remembered when we brought Carly home, right after she came out of Mommy's belly, Rachel looked at me, perplexed. She did not remember. She cannot even conceptualize life without her sister. It seems like only yesterday to me, but to her, this is how it's always been, and anything else would be just wrong. How sweet is that?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

you can't choose love

As I have searched my heart over the last year and a half, the Lord has revealed to me my faulty thinking in many areas. Last night, through a conversation with a good friend, I reconsidered a phrase I've heard many times, especially among Christians in reference to marriage: 'love is a choice.'

Is it? I realized that this sentiment is possibly at the root of some of my misrenderings of what marriage looks like. 'Love is a choice' sounds genuinely burdensome, albeit [self-righteously] noble. If 'love is a choice,' I will consider that I always choose love in spite of the faults of the other person (namely, my husband). Consequently, when I'm not feeling the love, I can easily pass it off, because, after all, 'love is a choice,' not a feeling.

I don't think I believe this line of reasoning anymore. Love is, by definition, an emotion; it is affection, tenderness, admiration, benevolence, attachment, devotion, desire, adoration (Webster). However, we all know that, while love is an emotion--a feeling--it can only be expressed through actions and behaviors. The Bible defines love as patient and kind, neither jealous nor boastful nor proud (1 Corinthians 13:4).

How can we possibly achieve that kind of love for others? 'Choosing' love means that we dictate our actions and our speech to be of the language of love. But in marriage, don't you always know your spouse's heart? For a long time, I 'chose' to love Jarrad. I paid him lip service because I knew in my head that he's a good man. But he knew my heart, and, in my heart, I was forever disappointed in him. I was wrong, and I knew I was wrong. My 'choice' to love him really meant that I pretended to believe what I knew in my head to be true, in spite of the fact that my heart didn't believe it. And I failed. I failed miserably at loving my husband.

When a teacher of the law asked Jesus, "Of all the commandments, which is the most important?" Jesus laid out two basic instructions: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength," and "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Mark 12:28-31). When I realized the terrible mistake I was making by looking to Jarrad as my provider (instead of looking to God), I ceased focusing my energies on 'choosing' to love Jarrad. All of my efforts to 'choose' love had failed and left me wanting. All at once, I stopped idolizing Jarrad (treating him as my god), and I began following the first great commandment--to love the Lord my God with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind and with all my strength. And all at once, I gained a natural, unstoppable, overwhelming love for my husband that was unlike any love I had 'chosen' in the past.

When we say "love is a choice," I think we are cheating ourselves out of the most wonderful, natural, God-given feeling that we are meant to have for one another. Of course, there are times when I forget myself, and I forget who God is, and I forget to love Him. That's when I fall, and that's when I lose that warm and fuzzy feeling (I'm thinking particularly about my husband). What, then? I do try, in my own strength, to 'choose' love. I hope, though, that in the future, I will catch myself 'choosing' to love and realize that it means I am far from real love. And with that, I hope I will immediately fall to my knees to return to the Giver of perfect love.

Friday, January 15, 2010

...a year later

I've been meaning to write this post for awhile, mostly for bench-marking purposes. Carly turned one on November 4th...yes, more than two months ago (but I think I've only posted once since then because of all the Christmas crafting going on around here!). ANYway...

Carly turned one. Oh, sweet Carly. I was so confident when we found out we were having another baby. I've heard, and now repeat, that the transition from one kid to two is a killer. I've heard it's the toughest transition, but we'll be seeing about that...

The first six months of Carly's life were rough. Of course, it could have been significantly worse than it was, but my sweet, smiley baby was sick. A LOT. She had breathing issues. I was never sure if she had a cold or if she was contagious. I hated that she had been prescribed antibiotics three times for ear infections, and that the pediatrician was encouraging us to try awful asthma meds. I never took her anywhere because I was afraid she'd get the flu. We never had friends over because I was afraid she would infect their kids with whatever it was. I was lonely. And blue. Maybe even depressed.

We finally visited the lung specialist when Carly was 6.5 months old. He gave us one word: Tracheomalacia. I took it home and read, and all the pieces made sense. We started her on acid reflux medication (acid reflux is a common problem associated with Tracheomalacia), which cleared up her congestion (congestion can be the manifestation of acid reflux...weird) and kept her from getting any more ear infections.

The bottom line is that I found out my baby wasn't really sick after all. What she had was a minor birth defect that will correct itself. PHEW! I began to cheer up. I still had my moments/days/weeks of not feeling great. I was run down with a baby who didn't sleep through the night. I know I know, I could have let her "cry it out." But I am not of the school of thought that says that sleeping through the night is the beginning and end of parenting, and so I did not do what I did not want to do. Carly never nursed well during the day--perhaps the Tracheomalacia, maybe the acid reflux. Whatever the reason, she nursed WELL at night, and I was always sure she was getting plenty of nourishment as long as she was waking up. As she got older, I cherished those wee-hours feedings, because Carly is an on-the-move girl, and there were many days when those were my only snuggles from her. I loved it. But I was tired.

When she was 11 months old, eating well, and pleasantly plump, I finally decided to let her cry. She's of the determined sort, and cry she did. Although she has always been a dream to put down (she basically dives into her crib and waves me out of the room), she would wake up at 10pm, 11pm, midnight--whenever--and cry. For hours. My options were to spend 5 minutes nursing her and then put her back in her crib, or listen to her cry. For hours. At 11 1/2 months, I held strong...until 4:00am. And so, she developed a 4am waking habit. I didn't care, until last month. I realized that if I ever wanted to spend the night away from this one, I'd need to do away with this 4am thing (and it wasn't helping much anymore, since she'd often go back to sleep only until 5:45 or 6). So for four or five nights in a row, we listened to her cry/fuss/whine/whimper from sometime in the 3:00am hour until morning. But then she was over it! And so I was once again affirmed, that nothing I, the mommy, choose to do in the first year of Baby's life can't be corrected in a few days of re-training. Although I was tired for...over a year...I look back and do NOT regret nor begrudge the sleep I lost. I took care of my baby the way my instincts dictated, I had fun doing it, and she thrived.

Wow, I'm really rambling...

Where was I? ...the second six month of Carly's life...I felt much better, but I was still tired. I had moments of pure energy and excitement, contrasted with moments of anxiety, loneliness, and sadness. But, by and by, the good days outnumbered the bad, and I was happy to have weathered the storm and gained so much new insight from the Lord.

And then Carly turned one.

And then I was normal.

I felt normal. I acted normal. Things didn't look bleak. I felt blessed and encouraged. I felt empowered and energized. And, within days of Carly's birthday, I remarked to Jarrad that I'm pretty sure I'll look back and say, "And then, it took me a full year to recover from my second-born."

I'm pregnant again, if you haven't heard. I'm just over 8 weeks along, and feeling tired, but fine otherwise. Rachel is at a frustrating age, and I can definitely tell I have a shorter fuse. My days of normalcy were short-lived, I suppose, but I'm hopeful they will return quickly after we meet this sweet one. Maybe this one will sleep through the night a little sooner. Hm...I kinda hope not...