Wednesday, April 29, 2009

she loves the kitchen, oh yes ma'am

Helping with the dishes...

And cleaning out the cupboards...

She's Mama's Little Helper - that's for sure!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

regularly scheduled programming


We're back from our trip... and I'll just say that taking a toddler (with a head cold) to a hotel for four nights is not exactly my idea of vacation. (Praise God for hotel pools that open early!!) It's absolutely downright lovely to be back home.

Thanks for the encouraging words & thoughts after my last post. I think I know what's necessary to help my heart and my spirit - even if my actual situation and circumstances don't improve (or change in the way I want them to change, to be more precise).

One of the absolute toughest parts (for me) in becoming a parent for the first time was the completely unexpected loss of sense of myself. I hadn't realized how strongly I had tied my identity to my activities and involvements - my career, my volunteering, my role as a wife (in a home without children). But once Hazel was born - I was simultaneously head-over-heels in love with a beautiful baby girl... and absolutely lost and reeling, wondering where I had gone.

I've been working on re-knitting my identity in the past year-plus, and it has been slow work - a few steps forward, a few steps back. My heart knows many things about my calling and my role as a mama - but my head often struggles with my selfishness and with the conflicting messages about motherhood that permeate our society.

Even now, as I'm committed to entrenching myself in the discovery of God's design for motherhood - the purpose and mission of my job for many years to come - in the midst of my excitement, I am a wee bit nervous about the change.

Will it be harder to relate to my friends who don't have kids?

Will I become one of those moms who can only talk about "mom things?"

Will I put too much focus on being a mama, and not enough on the other roles God calls me to play?

I don't know the answers to these questions for certain - but I'm fairly sure that at times, I will answer "YES!" to all of them... because I'm a regular old flawed gal, just doing the best she can.

But I am encouraged that I am not playing ANY of the roles in my life by accident or happenstance... God has placed ME specifically in each one of them - and by His grace, by walking in faith in a wonderful and powerful Lord, by prayer and petition and new mercies each and every day... I am able to fill those roles.

I believe that He is not sorry He put me here... He is not ashamed of me.

I believe that He is filled with love that I cannot comprehend - and waiting, just waiting, for me to go to Him for help and guidance.

What a thought.

Monday, April 20, 2009


I feel like my edges are fraying.

I'm having a hard time preventing the unraveling of the "fabric of me"... there is an edginess and irritability in my mind that I do. not. appreciate. It makes me less of a wife, less of a mama, less of a friend. The people in my life deserve more than "less" of me.

But I'm not entirely sure how to beat it.

I think the problem lies mainly in the fact that I've gotten to a point where I *need* something to change very quickly (as in, five minutes ago) - but change is s-l-o-w in coming. And it's just not a situation where I can do much to control the rate of change.

The fabric of my patience is worn and holey. It appears moths have attacked my peace and chewed gaps in my joy.

I don't want to feel broken - I don't want thin little threads holding the precarious pieces of myself together... I want to feel strong, competent, whole and purposeful. I want to be a blessing to my husband; a loving, patient mother to my daughter; and a joy and comfort to my friends. Instead, I feel disappointed in myself for not being tougher - I never thought I would feel so incapable, so unfit, so unable to deal.

I know that the Lord is the only one who can weave all my loose ends back in. I know that His power is made perfect in my weakness, and that the peace He can give me passes all understanding. I know these things. And I know that God is good all the time - no matter what state my heart is in.

I have no good conclusion - no pretty bow to put on the end of this post. I guess that's fitting. I'll just take a deep breath, spend some time with my Jesus, and begin tomorrow with His new mercies. Amen for that.

(Oh - and Hazel and I will be out of town and away from blog-land until probably Monday... so if I don't post again until then, don't worry. I haven't unraveled completely (hope, pray) - just gone on a little trip).

Friday, April 17, 2009

our favorite joke

Anyone who's ever been pregnant, or been married to someone who's been pregnant or has expected a child in any way knows that likely The Most Common Thing Ever Said to People Expecting A Baby/Child (particularly the first one) goes a little sumpthin' like this:

"Oh, your life is REALLY going to change!" (always pronounced in a tone that belies the unending wisdom borne of one who has survived the rigors and challenges and hardships of parenting.)

At which point, Expectant Woman and/or Man Married to Expectant Woman smile(s) politely, pretends s/he has not heard this eleventy-billion times before, and continues on his/her way.

Because really - the fact that having a baby is life-changing is one of those things that you KNOW, but you can't REALLY KNOW until it happens. And you know it. You know?

Anyway - Mark and I wearied (as have many expectant couples before us) of hearing variations of those words of wisdom, and since the life-changing (gasp!) birth of our daughter, have applied our vast and renowned comedic skills to the situation and come up with a joke that is pretty much NEVER NOT FUNNY. (To us - the slightly sleep-deprived, expectant-again parents of a busy, adorable toddler...)

Whenever parenthood proves tough or inconvenient or involves some sort of dying-to-self (which is roughly every 1.87 minutes, I think) - we look at each other and one of us quips, oh-so-cleverly:

"Why didn't ANYONE tell us that parenting would be hard??"

And then we laugh so hard that we cry (or pretend that we are so that there seems to be a fun and funny reason for the tears), congratulate ourselves on our impeccable wit, and get on with the tough, inconvenient, dying-to-self task at hand.

And although we may not actually BE FUNNY (shhh... don't tell us!) - we come out the other side a little better for having laughed, a little comforted in our not-so-aloneness, and a little more able to pick up the parenting cross and keep on truckin.

Monday, April 13, 2009


Hazel likes to pick teeny tiny things up.

The itsy-bitsiest morsels are offered to me... pudgy baby hands extending gifts of unspeakable value... most of the time - it's little (almost miniscule, sometimes completely invisible and imaginary) pieces of lint.

Fuzzies, if you will.

I find it amusing that she notices and picks up these ridiculously tiny fuzzies. And that she gives them to me with a grin that belies her thoughts: "I am giving Mama the BEST thing ever!!"

Too often as an adult, I am irritated by my life's "fuzzies." (Both metaphorical fuzzies and ACTUAL pieces of lint).

Today, my eyes and brain are fuzzy from lack of sleep. Other days, fuzzies take different shapes: piles of laundry, unexpected bills, a dishwasher that seems incapable of WASHING the dishes...

I kick the fuzzies. I chew them out, mentally hurling insults and threats at these inconveniences in my day. I do not look at them and see small treasures, waiting to be discovered.

What if I took the same view my daughter does... and use household chores as an opportunity to give a gift to someone else? Turn up the music, sing along, and smile - knowing that I am serving, working for the Lord and not for men, and just love on those around me.

My fuzzy brain had me on edge this morning - but thanks to a faithful God and some specially-requested prayers being offered up by a faithful husband - I am no longer on edge. Sure, I'm still tired. I wish I had gotten more sleep - I wish my daughter had gotten more sleep.

But I'll use my quietness today to be still and listen for Jesus. Take a moment to rest and "be," when I might normally be inclined to "do." And find sweet, simple joy in making bread for dinner, cookies for fun, and playing on the living room floor with my girl.

And graciously accepting every single gift of lint she gives me.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Friday, April 10, 2009

how do they know??

So we're getting a nice sized tax refund this year - and I know that it's technically better to NOT get a refund (because then the government hasn't been sitting on your $$ all that time when it could have been earning interest in your bank account) - I still like the "extra" money.

Mark and I are usually fairly dull when it comes to how we treat unexpected monetary income... we give some away (church, YoungLife, etc...) and then we put it in the bank.


This year, I "decided" (as the one who does the taxes, the bills and all the general accounting) that we should each get a small sum to spend on fun things. Whatever we wanted. Mark, Hazel and I would each get our share, and the rest we could "spend" in our own unique, dull way.

First - I have NO IDEA what to spend my money on. Everything that I can think to buy is for Hazel. I think I'll get myself some new cute shoes - something comfy but trendy-Mama-on-the-go type. But not sure what to spend the rest on.

Second, and more important - we spent most of Hazel's money on a fabulous "little" armchair from Pottery Barn Kids for her. I say "little" because my pregnant behind can fit in this chair j-u-s-t fine. And I must say, it's a comfy little spot.

Anyway - we *love* this chair. I'm partially embarrassed that we spent this money on a chair (from PBK!!) for our almost 14-month-old daughter... but it's wonderful. It's slipcovered in denim, so it matches our couches, it's sturdy, it's light, and it's big enough that she won't grow out of it in 3.7 minutes (or 28 years, apparently....)

Since it arrived at our home on Wednesday night, an interesting phenomenon has occurred... Hazel is showing her first signs of true territorialism. If I sit in the chair - she comes over, and starts trying to push me out of it!! She'll leave behind other toys and books and beeline for whoever is in "her" seat.

How does she KNOW it's hers?? It's been in our house for less than 48 hours.

I think babies have a radar for normally-adult-sized things that have been made smaller just for them. She's never been super territorial about her toys at all - she doesn't care if we play with them (sometimes she cares if another baby plays with them...) But her chair - oh boy - her chair is OFF LIMITS to all not named Hazel Maryn.

Really, I kinda love how much she loves it.

Oh -and the best part about the chair is the personalization - it says "Talmidah" in bright pink thread. (Talmidah is Hebrew for disciple (the feminine version)). We love it.

And so, on this Good Friday, as I watch my daughter stake her claim on Armchair Territory - I am still reminded that I am His Talmidah... and there is much to take to heart today.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

maybe I'll just write a book

I wouldn't be writing the book because I think I'm in any way an expert. On anything.

Just that sometimes it helps me to write things down... it organizes my thoughts and makes things seem more concrete when I put words to the floating notions in my brain. (Hence the blog, right?)

My thoughts the past few nights have turned toward my philosophy on babies and sleeping. Hazel had a rather rough first year of life when it came to sleep - naptime, nighttime, you name it - we struggled. But somewhere around her 1st birthday we began to hit a rhythm, and she's been doing (mostly) really well since then.

Except for the slightly undesirable trend of the past few nights... which is to wake up sometime between 2:00am and 4:00am, and proceed to NOT fall back asleep for an hour or more. Usually more.

In the wee small hours of the morning, this tired mama has plenty of time to ponder what I'll affectionately dub "Sleep Tactics."

I read just about every sleep-baby book out there. Lots of great ideas, none of which work in entirety. Trial and error and piecing together bits of "expert" advice have led me to these conclusions (at least in reference to this particular baby of mine...):

1. I DO NOT believe in letting a baby cry it out. I have a physical reaction when my child is screaming, and it actually pains me to not provide comfort.

2. That being said - I do believe in letting a baby FUSS it out. There's a big difference - and Hazel often needs a few minutes of fuss-time in order to unwind and fall asleep. I think it's akin to the tossing/turning/pillow-shuffling we often do before falling asleep. I don't go into Hazel's room as soon as I hear a peep or two... but I will go in once "peeping" becomes screaming.

3. I believe that babies probably will learn to fall asleep "on their own" faster if you let them cry it out. However - I mostly believe that they're learning that you won't come and answer them if they cry - not necessarily how to self-soothe. I know that I've created a Sleep Tactic system that is more work for me by NOT letting Hazel scream in the middle of the night... but I'm okay with that.

4. Learning to ignore the shrieks of my child is not a lesson in which I am interested. I want her to trust that I will comfort her when she cries, and that her daddy and I are nearby. Sometimes a kid just needs an extra snuggle or two to fall back asleep. And since my little lady will only be little for a short while, I'm willing to oblige.

5. EVERYTHING I've just said works for me - not necessarily for any other mama. Or any other baby, for that matter. I could be totally changing my tune in a few months. But this is what I've developed with Hazel and I - and even though I'm sleepier today than I want to be, I feel confident in the choices I've made regarding how to handle our nighttime dates. And that's a good feeling.

However, if I happened to find an instruction book that God wrote just for Hazel's Mama... I'd throw away all my own nonsense and follow it letter for letter. :)

Thursday, April 02, 2009

He is God, and He is GOOD!!

Here's the update on our littlest family member:

We had an ultrasound scan this morning at U of M - lots of measuring and looking and measuring some more...

There are no cysts in Baby's kidney - but there IS fluid that is not draining. It appears that Baby has a small blockage at the uretero-pelvic junction (UPJ - which is where the kidney meets the tube that connects to the bladder, aka the ureter). The obstruction is not allowing all of the fluid (urine) to drain from that kidney, so it's building up. It's called unilateral hydronephrosis. Means "on one side, there is water in the kidney."

This is "better" than cysts - no abnormal growths, and since my amniotic fluid is measuring perfectly on track, it appears that both kidneys are still functioning normally... just that one of them (the right one) cannot drain the way it should. No one seems to be sure WHY this happens - it's just one of those things...

I'll go back for another scan in a month or two to check and make sure nothing has changed/gotten worse - but this will PROBABLY be handled fairly easily once Baby is born (a catheter-ish contraption will likely be used to break up the blockage, or occasionally these conditions actually clear up on their own!).

There is a possibility that things could get worse, or that surgery would be required if the other procedure was ineffective - but those are just possibilities.

We are breathing much more easily today, and praising God for His faithfulness and timing. And we are so grateful to the community of family and friends that have shown us support and love - we're really blessed!!