Friday, August 29, 2008

a thousand words

Life is good here. Making new friends, getting to know people better, folding laundry, making dinner... it's regular and routine and normal... and I'm having a great time.
Enjoy the long weekend!

Saturday, August 23, 2008


What do you do?
It's interesting to me that this is the question we ask in order to discover someone's identity. For some reason, the question "Who are you?" seems slightly odd, and would most likely be answered with a name (and a quizzical look).
What do you do?
The fact that this question is the marker for identity has nagged at me a bit since I became a mama. I could get up on my soapbox and drone on about how society underappreciates the role of motherhood (which I do believe is true) - but I won't. Not today.
I'd rather focus on the truth that has sunk into my skin during the past week in a way it never has before.
My identity is NOT what I do. Not that what I do isn't important or valuable. It is. But it's not eternal.
I am a child of the King. Period. I am His daughter, and I am precious to Him.
What I do is (or at least ought to be) an extension of who I am. A result. Because I am saved by His grace.
I always knew this was true. I knew that the most important part of my identity was in Christ. If you had asked me, I would have told you so.
But I never felt the need to believe it the way I have in the past months. Because there was always another society-preferred answer to give. I am a graduate student. I am an Assistant Hall Director on campus. I am an academic adviser.
"I am a stay-at-home-mom" gets such mixed reactions that I allowed myself to feel invalidated, even though I adore my job.
What I was missing is that no one can take away who I am in Christ.
So the world can judge. Ask me "what I do all day" and try to look polite when I explain the seemingly inconsequential tasks that fill my day.
But I love what I do.
And more importantly, I love who I am in Him.

Friday, August 22, 2008

updates and a fun fun giveaway!

First - truck on over to Simple Mom to check out her fabulous giveaway - but it ends on Monday the 25th, so hurry!

Second - my two days at work (Wed and Thurs) went very well. I was in for about 4 hours on Wednesday and nearly 7 yesterday - and although I'm so glad I don't have to do that every week (and it was only 11 hours!!) I
am very grateful I got to do it at all. Here's a few choice words to describe my thoughts/reactions:

It was great to be back in the sense that I remembered I was good at my job. I was productive, efficient and effective - and I enjoyed it. I slid right back into the routine and was able to contribute to the team during a very busy 2 days.

I think possibly one of the best medicines for a slightly-burnt-out stay-at-home-mama is to go to work for a day or two. I got a break, got to hang out with and talk to other adults about things that had nothing to do with babies... and I could not wait to get home and snuggle my little girl. I would never want to give up my role at home. I had to pull up our online photo page yesterday just to look at her little face. I re-realized what an absolute, unequivocal blessing it is to have my full-time title be Mama.

Reassuring. Most mamas know that their family depends on them for something (often many things) - but they often don't feel appreciated for what they do or necessarily grateful for that role. Both Mark and I make invaluable contributions to the Parenting Pot - and it was wonderful to be reminded that my role cannot easily be filled by anyone else. At any rate - I'm excited to start the work-from-home part of my project now, and not have to be back in the office again for a few months. I was really blessed by the whole experience - thanks for your prayers!

I want to leave you (and myself) with the verse I read on Wednesday before heading in to work (these are also the verses where the title of my blog originate). God really used these words to speak to me that morning, to remind me that His gift to me is the ability -
my ability - to find the satisfaction in my work. Find it. Not that I will receive it, or have it dropped on my doorstep. But that when I look for it - it will be there.
He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end. I know that there is nothing better for men than to be happy and do good while they live. That everyone may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all his toil—this is the gift of God. I know that everything God does will endure forever; nothing can be added to it and nothing taken from it. God does it so that men will revere him. Ecclesiastes 3:11-14

And to cap it all off - a few lovely pictures of the most darling baby girl I know:

Chewing on a cup with her two front teeth!!

Just laying around, looking lovely!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

a wee bit on the nervous side

I go to work today.
Meaning I get in my car, drive, park, get out and walk into the office and work.
My old office - the one I left in February to become a Stay at Home Mama. Today, I change my role to Work at Home Mama with the Occasional Visit to the Office. I'm on the books for 10 hours a week (primarily from this very computer in my very own home) from now until the end of April.
I'm excited about it - regular adult interaction, some semblance of continuity on my resume, and reclaiming a teensy bit of identity outside my home life.
But I'm also nervous about it. I don't really want to leave Hazel to go to work - even for a few hours, even with her loving daddy. She still doesn't take a bottle or sippy cup or any drink other than straight from the Mama Source... which makes me nervous for her and how she'll do while I'm gone. It's been over 6 months since I've been an adviser and (I know this is stupid, but...) what if I'm too out of practice to be very helpful? And (this one is almost too embarrassing/ashaming to admit) I'm nervous that my husband will stay at home with Hazel and have a great day and be better at it than I am and more patient than I am and wonder what the heck is so hard about staying at home.
Really - I know today will probably go well. It will be good to be out and to visit with Professional Katie - a gal I knew well for many years but haven't seen in months. But I'm not that same person anymore, and I'm intrigued/nervous to see how God blends the new aspects of my character into the old.
If you get a chance - say a quick prayer. Mostly for peace of mind.
And a bit for my hubby - that our precious girl would be good to him, even without the Mama Source.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

how to tell if the hazelnut is awake in her bed

And other tips and tricks for hanging out with my (almost) 6-month-old daughter.

The Hazelnut is a vocal gal - she's usually talking in her bed when she wakes up. But even if she lost her voice, you'd still know she's up by the steady thump-thump-thump of her bitty little feet pouding the mattress as she lays on her back and flails happily away. Honestly - the thumping is usually how I know she's up.
And the adorable popping noise of her baby hiccups.

If you're not her Mama or her Daddy, chances are HIGH that the Hazelnut will cry if you pick her up. Try not to be offended... she's just a little unsure right now. With time, a little space, and a relaxed environment, she will warm up. In the meantime, she does love to smile at people and giggles a LOT - so you can feel free to chat her up and play all you like... as long as Mama or Daddy is doing the holding. (One failproof way to get her to smile: Say her full name as though you're the sports announcer for the Chicago Bulls... Haaaazzelll Mmmmaaaaarrynnnn Buuuurleeeeeeeey!! She loves it!)

If you dress the Hazelnut in cute pink bootcut jeans, you may want to cry over the cuteness of it all. And the fact that she looks like such a teensy little Big Girl.

The Hazelnut is fast and strong - do not be fooled by the sweet, soft chubby hands... they are death-grip pincers that will rip the flesh from your bones, the lips off your face and the hairs from your head if given the chance. And if you leave the Hazelnut playing in the middle of the living room floor and come back 15 seconds later - she's probably under her swing, under the couch or at the top of the stairs... so for Heaven's sake - don't be gone for 16 seconds. Who knows what might happen!

Growing up is tough work, and due to the arrival of teeth in the Hazelnut's little mouth, she's been a bit out of sorts the past couple days. Please look past the drooling, fussing, gnawing and biting and enjoy the sweet, happy little critter underneath it all.

And above all - don't blink. The Hazelnut will suddenly be 6 months old if you turn around, and you'll find yourself struggling to remember what it was like when she was a wrinkly little newborn nut. (And let's be honest - being just a little bit glad that you can't really remember those days...)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

it's like one of those rides at the fair

It's busy here. A little bit like a carnival ride that keeps spinning in circles and getting faster and faster (only - thankfully - without the I-Want-To-Vomit feeling).
About a year ago, we started the work of Finishing Our Basement. (For the record, "we" is always to be interpreted loosely when I am referring to the basement, as my involvement in "we" is usually some form of spectation. Is that even a word?) It's unfortunate that I was pregnant when the project began, and now in charge of keeping a baby alive and well as it wraps up because let me tell you - the project is sorely missing out on my handy-woman skillz. Ha.
At any rate - Mark has been diligently pouring himself into the project the past few weeks as we not-so-suddenly find ourselves against a deadline.
Our friend Meredith will be doing her year (yup, a full year) of student teaching at a nearby elementary school, and she'll be moving into our house. On Saturday. Four days from now.
I'm so excited for her to come, so excited for the basement to be done, so excited for the year up ahead... but it's been rough getting there.
Mark is struggling to complete projects he's never attempted before. We've been blessed with friends, family and neighbors who have some expertise and a lot of willingness to lend a hand. Mark is working hard, being humbled and learning a ton. I know he's not exactly having fun right now - but I think he's proud of himself. I'm proud of him. The basement looks beautiful. And what's more - he's not complaining. He vents frustration once in awhile - but he is working hard every night... and he's not complaining.
I've been struck lately by how often we find ourselves in these situations - a goal or a deadline of some sort presents itself... we want to get there but feel so unprepared and unqualified... the process of learning, accepting help, trying, screwing up and dusting ourselves off mostly just stinks... but in the end - there are good things waiting.
I know my process is far from complete. I have so much to learn, so much set before me. But I also see good things. Sprinkled everywhere throughout my life. I'd hate to miss a single one because I was so busy whining about how hard the road was to get here.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

lest you get the wrong idea...

Most of the time, I try very hard to take an open & honest approach to my blogging.
That is to say - I am open & honest about the topics I meticulously select for sharing from the vast expanse of my day-to-day experiences. I decide which parts of my life to crack into, which insecurities, dreams and musings to share... and which things to leave out.
This isn't a bad thing, as some things should/must remain private - but I do feel a bit guilty sometimes that the pictures painted with virtual brushstrokes are somehow... shall we say, digitally enhanced versions of the truth.
So I'm here tonight to shatter your illusions of my home life. Mary C seems to think I have it all together, but I don't. Not anymore than anyone else does - probably a little less. (Note: These pictures were not planned ahead - and I didn't change a thing in the rooms as I trumped around the house taking photos... in fact, I had a baby on my hip and the camera in my other hand, so this is as real as it gets).
Here is the room in which I am currently sitting, typing away:

There are stacks of books, Rubbermaid bins both full and empty, and enough yarn for me to crochet myself into my nineties.
This is my daughter's room, where she is currently (Lord willing) falling asleep:

Note her daddy's guitar, the basket of dirty laundry, the pile of toys on the futon and the floor-blanket that is now a necessity for the rolling-every-which-way baby. And of course, the pink & white doggy. In the middle of the floor.
This is my room, which shockingly, is in decent shape today (although there are laundry baskets - this time full of clean laundry - and pictures leaning against the wall that remain unhung for the 5th year running):

And this is our closet (eek) - I cleaned out my portion recently, which is toward the front (and NOT on the floor), and as you can see, I still have quite enough clothing to be getting on with.

The kitchen is also in decent shape - although some dishes need to be put away, and mercifully, the wide angle of this shot does not pick up the crumbs on the floor and counters.

You may have noticed by now that my hubby and I have some issues with being actual adults, and our house looks a bit like the inside of a crayon box. It's our own little rebellion.
And we end our tour in the living room:

Again, the blanket & toys on the floor... boppy, books and TV remotes on the couch... baby carrier flung over the recliner... I feel like we're playing "Where's Waldo?" (big bonus points if anyone actually finds a Waldo in these pictures).
So there you have it. A peek into my house - and my not-so-together life as it stands on an average Wednesday night.
Thanks for visiting!

Saturday, August 02, 2008

a question for the over-achiever, perfectionist types

My whole life (okay, maybe not WHOLE... but at least since high school) I've preferred to be busy. I'm a multi-tasker-perfectionist with an uncanny ability to procrastinate. Those may seem like contradicting forces... and, well, they really are.
But that's proven helpful to me over the years - staying busy keeps me from procrastinating too much because I have to get my butt in gear if I want to get things done. And the Perfectionist-Over-Achiever-Katie definitely wants to get things done. And Procrastinator-Katie keeps me from killing myself with doing too much at once.
Here's my current dilemma (I alluded to this in my last post):
I was always a pretty busy gal. In high school, it was dance, NHS, musicals & plays, tennis, youth group, work, and the other standard teenage-girl pursuits of shopping and talking on the phone. Undergrad had me in some clubs (on the E-Board of one), pursuing 2 degrees at once, being an RA in the residence halls, belonging to a home group in my church, and other standard college-girl pursuits such as shopping and talking on the phone. By grad school I was married, juggling classes and my job as an assistant hall director in the residence halls, and after grad school I was working full-time, taking care of our new house and leading (with my husband) for YoungLife/WYLdLife in our area (and still shopping and talking on the phone occasionally). I've always had a full calendar. Until now.
Mark is still a YL leader. Any of you who have been in almost any type of ministry (but especially those with kids, I think) know that you always feel like you could/should be doing more. His schedule in the fall will include regular meetings at least 3 nights a week, along with appearances at sporting events and fun, spontaneous social activities with our high school friends. On top of work.
Here's my problem: Although I often felt completely inadequate and out-of-my-element as a YL leader, I love the kids I've gotten to know (girls I've known since they were in 6th grade are now in driver's training, heading into 10th grade - eek!). I miss seeing them regularly. I loved the toughness of the job, and the incredible harvest I reaped when I did not let myself grow weary of doing good. I was serving Christ in a real, tangible, sacrificial way.
I don't lead anymore. I stopped about two months before Hazel was born because I knew it would be too much for me. I wanted to focus on my family... but....I am having the darndest time shaking the feeling that I should be doing more. That I should be the SuperMama who is knee-deep in some kind of ministry and has a perfect house and is out and about and doing things. I've struggled with this kind of feeling before, and I really don't think it's from God. I think Satan is able to pinpoint my weaknesses and use them in such sneaky ways... I wind up feeling so defeated.
Being a stay-at-home-mama is so much more than I ever thought it would be. It is so much cooler, so much harder, so much more fun, so much more boring, so much more challenging... so much more. I know this job is important. I want to do it - and I know how blessed am I to be able to do it.
I guess my question is... how do you know when to let yourself "just" (haha) be Mama? And how do you do that?? Don't get me wrong - I like keeping my house organized, providing a clean & pretty home for my family, cooking, baking... it's all good. I know it's valuable. I'm just not used to having that be my focus. Why does my brain keep telling me that it's not enough to do those things?
I don't know how much sense this post is making... but any input, advice or encouragement you could provide is welcome, friends.