Tuesday, March 31, 2009

be still and know...

That He is God.

As you can see from my previous post -we had our 20-week ultrasound this morning. It was (as always) wonderful to see on screen the life that's growing... lots of kicks and wiggles; a strong, beating heart; arms, hands, fingers, toes, legs...

We found out at the end of our appointment that our ultrasound revealed what appears to be several cysts on Baby's right kidney... so we are being referred to the University of Michigan for follow-up (fancier ultrasounds and docs who specialize in prenatal kidney issues). We don't know much right now, so we're just in a holding pattern... until Thursday morning and our next round of testing is done, there's no reason to get too worked up.

I am sad that we didn't get "Hey, your baby looks perfect!!" today - but God is good all the time, and there is much to be thankful for.

Prayers for peace and health are much appreciated - I'll be sure to post an update when we have one.

the littlest one in the house

Meet our Littlest One!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

15 Reasons Why I Love My Husband

Elizabeth has a sweet post up today about her husband, and encouraged others to do the same...

And I'd love to share a list of fifteen things I love about Mark with all of you...

But right now, one thing is stopping me:

He'd hate for me to post a public list of why I love him. He doesn't need that to be open knowledge, and would prefer that it just stays between him and me.

And so, because of that and so many, many other reasons... I will refrain from sharing my "list" with you in this space.

Suffice it to say that he is a man of integrity, humor, energy, wit and love - and I am beyond blessed to be his wife.

In the meantime - go read Elizabeth's list, because it's great.

Friday, March 20, 2009

sunshine and cake

The sun has been shining a lot (for MI in March, at least) this week.

I don't know anyone who hasn't been loving it.

My spirit and my thoughts are so much higher when it's sunny - and while I comprehend why that happens - I also find it mildly disturbing. Why should I be so fickle in my mood swings that I am notably more relaxed and cheerful when the sun shines? And isn't that a dangerous phenomenon in a state that only sees an average of 71 sunny days per year...

But the sorry truth is that my moods are extremely fickle - and not just when it comes to sunshine. Lots of things can throw me off - a cranky baby, messes in the kitchen, a bad night's sleep.

I've decided I want to focus more on tying my joy to things that are a wee bit more predictable. And I've been doing better at this, due in part to my attempt at giving up complaining for Lent (I'm pretty sure I fail every day, but I'm trying hard, and I do notice a difference).

I know that when my eyes and heart are trained heavenward, everything else becomes icing on the cake - and that's a great feeling.

The sun IS shining today, and I AM loving that, but... Today, I am saved by grace. Today, I can talk to my Savior and He will listen. Today I can read His words and get to know Him better. Today, I am madly in love with my husband, and madly in love with daughter, and madly in love with the Little One growing inside. Today, I sit inside a warm house with toys scattered on the floor - life and love are in this place.

Today, those things are my cake. Beautiful sunshine - that's just icing, baby.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

worth a thousand words

Got to love playing outside after dinner.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Today was calm. Normal. I washed, dried & put away dishes... washed, dried & folded laundry (haven't put it away yet)... changed diapers, went for walks (yup, that's plural!), made meals, answered emails, wiped counters, wiped tears, chatted with neighbors, cleaned the living room fifteen or so times...

Ordinary. Regular. Usual.

And so very full. Every moment, every corner of my day, was FULL. Full of life and full of emotion and full of wonder and love and REALness.

God has put a sincere appreciation and quiet in my heart today - there are so many things about which I can (and do) choose to feel discontent. Silly things. Temporary distractions, faux essentials, misguided ideals.

Today, my heart recognized the abundance of true gifts in my life - and I chose to savor those above working myself up over the tiny "injustices" that sprinkle themselves throughout my days.

I have a warm house in a safe neighborhood. I am blessed beyond blessed to share my life with a man I find simultaneously hilarious, inspiring, and studly. I have a beautiful daughter who makes me laugh every single day. There is another precious little life growing inside me right now, and I get to feel it kick and wiggle and grow.

My list could go on and on... but I want to get back to savoring. Basking in the ordinary, soaking up the norm.

So full.

Friday, March 13, 2009

a day for the books

Yesterday... Thursday, March 12, 2009... Hazel figured out walking.

She's been taking one step and falling, one step and stopping to sit down, one step and falling again... for awhile now. She was having more fun being caught by her mama and daddy when she fell over than she was having learning to walk.

But yesterday she actually put together 8 or so steps and did not crash... she just stopped and stood there.

And I just have to say - baby walking is just about the cutest possible thing in the world. Her shoulders tense up with the effort, her feet lift high in the air and stomp back down again... and I had one of my first true I'm Such A Proud Mama experiences. She had to work to learn how to do this, and she had to try over and over again, and try hard.

Way to go, baby girl.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

it's not LATE if it hasn't been a month since it happened, right?

Soo... here's some fun pictures from the past month (aka my baby's birthday!!)

(My Kid with a Bow on Her Head, My Kid with Cake All Over Herself, The Cow Cake I Made for One of her Parties, in Honor of Barnyard Dance, One of Our Favorite Books, and The Best Birthday Face You Ever Saw)


Saturday, March 07, 2009

the past few days... The End

It's kinda tough to say what kind of week it's been... is a zebra black with white stripes or white with black stripes?? I've survived tough moments, laughed out loud, shed more than a few tears, received dozens of baby kisses, woken to cries in the middle of the night and taken sweet afternoon naps with my little girl. Good and bad, tough and beautiful - there have been many moments.

I've found myself struggling a lot with self-esteem as it relates to my role as Mama lately. Turns out that I am a person who thrives on feedback - it doesn't have to be direct, but I do really love having some idea of how I'm doing... some kind of measuring stick.

Measuring sticks are strange things when it comes to parenthood. Doing a good job doesn't always feel good. Giving your kid what s/he needs doesn't always result in smiles and good sleep. Plus - 12 month old toddlers don't tend to give much feedback (except in the occasional point, whine, giggle, or scream - all left to your own interpretation).

The humbling thing that I've been realizing more recently is that my self-deprecation and doubt is a twisted-up form of pride. (Something I seem to struggle with a LOT).

I doubt my abilities as a mama.
I feel like I'm not doing it right, like I'm missing something.
Wouldn't someone else be better at this? What about all those other mamas out there who can handle screaming, crying, inconsolable babies at 1 in the morning - they must have something I don't have!

But when I doubt - when I question my role in this family - I am pulling my trust away from God and placing it in myself and in other people. However competent I am feeling from day to day...

God gave me these children to care for. He could have picked anyone in the world to be the parents of these precious children of His. He picked Mark and He picked me.

When I feel like I should be doing "more" than staying at home - I am demeaning an incredibly valuable role that God has been shaping for me. Really - these walls will represent the center of the universe for our kids for many years - the familiar place where they are loved, accepted, safe and cared for. How could I possibly think that my role as caretaker of our home and our children is any less valuable than any other job I could have??

I'm sure I'll continue to struggle with wondering whether I'm a "good enough" Mama - knowing that I could do better and wondering if I'll ever measure up.

I just pray that those thoughts and wonderings are always followed quickly by the truth - God is in control, He is faithful, He is wise... and He put me here.

What a relief.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Part Two... the past few days

(I'm gonna have to keep up with things here, otherwise there will be MANY more installations in "the past few days"... as it's now been almost a week... oh well).

Ever since I can remember, I've wanted to be a mama. I loved baby dolls, playing house and pretending to be a mommy. I don't recall being concerned in the slightest about the Daddy Figure until high school - it was assumed in my young mind that there was a Daddy, of course - but I didn't dwell on romantic notions of true love. It was all about Mama.

When I was old enough, I started babysitting - and loved it. I volunteered in the church nursery from junior high until last year. I led vacation bible school classes for preschoolers, watched other people's babies and small children, and loved snuggling little bodies close any chance I could get. People told me I was good with kids and babies - and I was. And I loved it. It was a calling that felt beyond me, almost... like I was born to hang out with little kids, born to be Mama.

By contrast, I didn't decide on the Academic Adviser career path until sometime in graduate school (a difference of two decades at least in terms of my Vocational Calling Timeline). That process was much more exploratory and experience-based. I knew from several previous jobs that I wanted to get a higher education administration degree. So I did. From there I gathered experience in Residence Life, Student Life, teaching and more - and decided to pursue jobs in academic affairs. Experience, thought and reflection led me to academic advising - not a burning passion or gift that I was born with.

Last Friday I spent a full day with my former peers and coworkers. We talked "shop" and I was transported back into the mindset of Professional Katie at her Old Job. People were glad to see me, still valued my input, and I was reminded that (despite my lack of "divine calling" to the profession) I had been a talented and respected member of the advising team.

When I juxtapose that feeling - that slightly wistful remembrance - with my hodge-podge of emotions regarding my New Job... I don't know quite what conclusion to draw.

You see, even though I dreamt of being Mama my ENTIRE LIFE, and had this so-called natural gift with babies... the reality of being a Mama exists in so many days that feel so very far beyond me. I am shocked - and often deeply unsettled, to be honest - at how frequently I feel grossly incompetent. I NEVER expected parenthood to be easy - but I did expect it to feel a bit more natural, more instinctual. But there are days when an incredibly fussy and tired baby simply cannot be talked into naptime... and there are nights when my baby daughter awakes, teething and in pain, and nothing - NOTHING - I do will comfort her.

I feel so lost in those moments - so unsure of myself and my abilities. It often seems prideful and silly in the light of day when things are running along smoothly... but the truth is that I sometimes seriously wonder why I'm not better at this. If I was so meant to be a Mama - why can I not comfort my child when she's in pain? Why can I not calm her down and lay her in bed for a naptime without shrieking and tears? Why do I struggle so hard to see the bigger picture, to gain the wider perspective... why, when I know that this is a phase, and a tough one at that, do I I feel so guilty for not enjoying myself more? I have been given a beautiful gift in this little girl, and the child growing within me... how selfish and self-involved am I that I do not revel daily in my ability to be at home and take care of them??

This is why Friday's experiences unsettled my brain so much. I felt myself longing for the easier days of my Old Job. Days when I knew how good I was, knew what was expected, knew how to get the job done and done well.

But I don't want to go back. I love my New Job and I intend to keep it for as long as possible. But in order to do that, and to do it well (something that is extremely important to me, no matter what the task I'm tackling) I have to be focused. I felt my gaze torn between professional life and home life last week - and I can't grow in this New Job if I'm torn. I need to re-center and refocus and find ways to delight in the day-to-day happenings of my current role. And that's way tougher to do than it was before.

Stay tuned for Part Three... hopefully the last installment! Thanks for hanging in there for so long today!

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

the past few days... Part One

Our weekend with the fam was good - thanks for all the happy thoughts and warm wishes! It was a ton of work, but I think that people enjoyed themselves and felt welcome and comfortable and glad to be around each other - and in the end, that's about all you can ask for.

My parents arrived Thursday afternoon, spent time with me and the Nut and then prepared themselves for Friday when they would be stepping into a role no one has truly held but me... All-Day Caretaker(s) for the BabyNut.

(As some of you may/may not know or remember - I've been working from home about 10h/week this (school) year for my old office in the College of Business. On Friday, the office was having a retreat day and they invited me/requested that I be present.)

So I left at 8:20 on Friday morning, not to return home until 3:30 or so - and (I know many of you will find this unthinkable) that is by far the longest I have been away from my girl since her birth. I know, it's weird... but when you're a nursing SAHM... there's not often a ton of reason to leave your kid for 7 or 8 hours at a stretch.

I had a great day. It was a little tough and strange to drive away with no humongous diaper bag and no carseat and no tiny person to look at in the rearview mirror... but a day among adults, talking about familiar things (that are currently completely alien to the life I'm now living),a tasty lunch buffet and some laughter with friends... it was a good thing. However, by a point somewhere near the end of the morning, I found myself feeling rather torn.

Here's the deal: Although it had its days (as all jobs do) - I really enjoyed my professional life. I liked my coworkers, I liked how I spent my days... and I was GOOD at it. I found fulfillment in my work and I received affirmation and satisfaction in tasks well done. I had passion and excitement and determination - and I think it showed and paid off.

Being back with those people, talking about what it means to do our jobs really well and reminding ourselves why we *love* the work we chose to do, even when it's hard... it started to tug at my insides a bit. Because I'm not in that work anymore - my New Job is not working at a large university, helping students make sense of their experience and providing complete and accurate academic information, planning events and enjoying school spirit... but as I sat there, the passion and excitement and determination came back to me. The reminder was both pleasant and unsettling - and here's why:

I have a New Job. I'm going to keep that New Job - I love it and I want it - and I don't want to "go back to work" - not even part-time. And with another bebe on the way - I am even more convinced that the New Job is the best possible place for me to be.

And because of that, I don't necessarily want to be reminded of how much I loved my Old Job and how good I was at it and how meaningful it could be (on the good days). That may sound crazy (and I think it is a bit)... but I'll have to fill you in a little more on my thought process in Part Two.

Right now, it's hubby's birthday and I'm going to go celebrate another year of his life.