Friday, December 12, 2008
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
So, pressure's on, Baby Number Three. Pressure's on.
Friday, October 31, 2008
Thursday, October 30, 2008
We arrived at the campground at around 1:30 on Monday. Since we couldn't check in until 4:00, we decided to go ahead on a hike to one of the park's ten waterfalls. We'd borrowed a baby backpack carrier from a friend (thank you, Jill, you are a lifesaver!). We spent what felt like an hour trying to get Eli into the carrier and adjust all of the straps so that Ben felt somewhat comfortable, which we accomplished with only a small amount of snapping and snarking at each other. Finally, we headed off on the trail to see the foot South Falls. We were blessed with perfect weather - clear blue sky and bright sunshine as the backdrop for the breathtaking fall colors of the trees. The trail took us behind the waterfall, which was a new and awesome experience for us. Ben was trooping along quite nicely with 40 extra pounds on his back, until we got to the back half of the trail and had to hike uphill for a good twenty minutes. I was winded, but I blamed it on being pregnant (when really, I'm just in terrible shape), so I couldn't imagine how Ben was feeling by the time we reached the top.
Our cabin was adorable and had a great porch off the front. We unloaded the car and I set up inside while Ben very adeptly started a campfire. Who knew he was such a boy scout? We enjoyed our dinner of roasted hot dogs (pretty disgusting), while we worked hard to keep Eli from becoming part of the fire. Everything was going well until I had the audacity to suggest that Eli try his first S'more. For some reason, it set him off and he refused to try even a smidge of marshmallow. We have some very funny (and slightly incriminating) video of me practically pinning him down and forcing marshmallow into his mouth. We finally gave up and decided to put him to bed. This was the beginning of the longest and loudest fit our son has thrown to date. He cried, screeched, and wailed for what felt like hours, while I prayed that we wouldn't get kicked out of the campground and cursed my unborn child that I couldn't at least put back five or six drinks to help relieve the tension.
After a loooong battle, Eli finally fell asleep, and Ben and I settled in to enjoy our campfire. And then, the raccoons came. Oh, the raccoons. So cute in Cinderella, so very annoying in our campground. At first it was just one raccoon, sneaking up on us from underneath our porch. We chased him away, only to have him reappear moments later to begin scavenging our dinner leftovers from a rock just a few feet away. We quickly moved the rest of our food inside (so long, S'mores), and tried to enjoy the rest of our evening around the campfire. The raccoon continued to sneak back into our camp, each time getting a little closer and a little more stubborn. Eventually, he brought a buddy with him. Isn't that nice? Having his pal along made him even bolder, and the two of them proceeded to terrorize us for the rest of the night. After several attempts to scare them away (vigorous waving of broom while shouting, "Go away, you racoons!"), we finally decided to call it a night.
Now, as any pregnant woman knows, a pregnant woman has to pee approximately sixty-five times during one night. Knowing that those little critters were waiting for us, I opted against going several campsites down to the restroom, and instead sucked it up and peed off the edge of the deck, while Ben peed a territorial perimeter around the deck and kept me alert of potential raccoon nibbles on my bare backside. We headed inside, and Ben quickly drifted off to sleep while I laid awake for the next hour or so trying to think about anything but how much I had to go again. Around 1:30 in the morning, I gave in and told Ben that I really, really couldn't hold it all night. Ben kindly got out of bed and stuck his head outside to make sure the raccoons were gone. But oh no, the little darlings were actually on our porch! Ben scared them off with threat of a marshmallow skewer to the head, and I hurried over to my little potty corner. But I was sleepy this time, and even more nervous, and I managed to not only pee on the deck instead of off of it, but also to step in my own pee. I let out an impressively loud swear and stripped off my pee pants, leaving me standing on the porch in the middle of the campground, in the middle of the night, in my lime green underpants and on the verge of tears.
I was finally able to fall asleep after that and held out until daybreak, when I felt safe to venture to the restroom by myself. The rest of our campout was wonderful, including a morning campfire, a hike behind an even more impressive waterfall, and a stop at the breathtaking Silverton Reservoir. We can't wait to start camping next summer and we will definitely go back to Silver Falls, but we'll do our wildlife aversion homework next time.
Friday, October 3, 2008
I am eleven weeks into my pregnancy. How wonderful to know that the end of the first trimester is in sight. As with my last pregnancy, I lost my nausea one day and picked up an endless string of migraines the next. I'm not sure which is less welcome, but the migraines definitely pose a bigger problem - namely, how much can I drug my unborn child and still come out with the right number of arms and legs and the ability to read past a first-grade level? I take some comfort in knowing that Eli was exposed to a number of medications in utero, and he seems to be pretty normal. Bright-ish, at least.
I had my first appointment with my new OB a couple of weeks ago. I'm seeing a wonderful doctor at Good Sam hospital in the Pearl. (I know, don't I sound so hip and Portlandian?) I still question whether or not I should be giving birth in a hospital downtown, but judging from my previous labor experience, I think I'll have plenty of time to spare. I had my first moment of true excitement when I saw my little pea's heart beating away on the monitor. Now that I'm getting past the yucky sick time, I'm starting to remember how amazing it is to feel a baby come alive inside me. I can't wait until "she" starts moving and kicking. Yes, this baby is going to be a girl. Or, at least, it's going to be raised as a girl. :)
Elijah will be 18 months old soon. He has some new favorite activities: making animal noises (he has a pretty impressive repretoire already, including a duck that whispers, "tack, tack"), climbing on and off the couch repeatedly, and laying down on the floor and crying anytime he doesn't get what he wants when he wants it. I prefer the first one. Occasional fits aside, Eli is a pretty awesome kid and I am so blessed to call him mine.
That's all for now, friends. Back to the peanut butter.
Monday, September 15, 2008
1) I am thankful that though my son fell today and busted his lip, and we had our first bleeding-all-over-the-kitchen-floor moment, his teeth were unharmed. If you know my world, you know how important that is.
2) I am thankful that God gave me the strength to get out of bed, take a shower, do my hair, get my son fed and dressed, and drive to the Bible study this morning. Even though I felt like I was taking each step through thick mud and barely holding down my breakfast, we made it, and it was an enormous blessing.
3) I am thankful that I felt well enough last night to make a healthy dinner and a delicious (albeit a little too sweet) peach dessert.
4) I am thankful for God's hand in my marriage and for a husband who is kind, loving, and tender hearted. I'm thankful for Ben stepping up to the plate so graciously when I'm not feeling well. And I'm thankful that we still have fun together, evidenced by last night's awesome Rock Band session.
5) I am thankful for this new life inside me. I confess that there are days I don't want to be pregnant, I don't want to have this baby. I realize how selfish and ungracious that is, and how many women would kill to be in my position. I'm also thankful that I can be honest with God about this and know that his faithfulness and mercy are not dependent on my perfection.
6) I am SO thankful for the gift of Christian fellowship. How amazing that I could walk into a roomful of strangers and within a few minutes feel free to share the my greatest struggles, darkest fears, and most intimate dreams. I am humbled by the privilege of walking alongside so many wonderful, Godly women in my life.
7-10) (Because I'm getting hungry): Beautiful weather, having a good-natured child, Jolly Ranchers, and the juicy steak that I will (hopefully) enjoy for dinner tonight.
What little thing are you thankful for today?
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
This baby was a definitely a surprise. While Eli was precisely planned for - prenatal vitamins taken, OB visited, contraband medications halted for months prior to conception - this one came as a bit of a shock. By no means a disaster, but definitely a moment of, "huh." Definitely a sense of, "Wow, let's clean out the nest - quickly." We were hoping that Eli would be past the 2 1/2 year mark when the next baby came along. Instead, this baby is due approximately three days after Eli's birthday. That would be one day after my birthday. That would be three - yes, three - birthdays in one week.
So, God has a sense of humor... but I do believe in his timing. I believe that God is sovereign. I believe that he will never bring us to a place that he won't then walk us through.
I have to tell myself that a lot these days, as I battle endless nausea, exhaustion, headaches, a ridiculously achy back (there's barely even in a baby in there yet!), and a general feeling of... blech. I had a rough pregnancy with Eli, but this time, I have Eli. In some moments, it feels absolutely impossible to endure a pregnancy and newborn while tending to a very active toddler. I know I felt bad the last time, and my mother reminds me that I complained about all of these symptoms the last time, and I tended to an entire class full of first graders the last time, but... somehow, this one seems harder. It's different emotionally, too. My mom had a series of miscarriages after her first healthy pregnancy. It's hard not to fear that history will repeat itself in me. So there's a little less thrill, a little more anxiety. I try to think of it as cautious optimism.
And so I remind myself, over and over and over again, of several important truths. 1) God will give me everything I need for every moment of every day - if I remain in him, he will remain in me. 2) God alone holds the number of our days, and that includes our children. I can rest in the knowledge that this baby is his child so much more than it is mine. 3) As my friend Kyla pointed out (Kyla, who has three little girls five and under and a husband away in the navy), even if my son watches cartoons and plays by himself while I lay comatose on the couch for an hour (or two), he will still grow into an intelligent, well-adjusted man who will not have mommy issues. 4) My amazing cousin and dear friend Danielle is surviving a high-intensity toddler and a colicky baby and doing so with amazing strength, wit, and class... and she doesn't even need makeup.
All of which is to say, I will survive. God will continue to bless my marriage, my relationship with my son, my unborn child (daughter, daughter, daughter), my homemaking, my health, and my relationship with him. Stay tuned.
Friday, August 8, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
I found an old CD today and was so excited to rediscover a favorite old song (shout-out to Lee U. - I can't help it, I love me some shout-outs). The lyrics are taken from Psalm 119:133: "Establish my footsteps in your word." I was spending a few minutes relaxing in my big chair (blessing!), when I heard a line that immediately brought me to tears: "While you are working, help me be still." Wow, how I need to hear that. I feel like I've finally learned how to root myself deeply in God's word and I actually want to bear much fruit and still... I am so impatient and so anxious to see my life bear the fruit I want to bear when I want to bear it. I still wake up in the middle of the night in a panic, with a sick, knotted feeling in my stomach, wondering how in the world we are ever going to get to that mythical place of "Everything's OK." In the midst of trying to work through all of the problems in my life, how desperately I need to be reminded to just... be... still. God is working. I am waiting. All is well.
Tuesday, July 8, 2008
- relator (as in, "Did you find a good relator to sell your house?")
- nucular (as in, "There was an explosion at the nucular plant today! I feel funny.")
- jewlery (as in, "Does this piece of giant fake gold jewlery make me look like a ho?")
- expecially or eggspecially (as in, "Do you carry the expecially eggspecial on your breakfast menu?")
- expresso (as in, "I would definitely take an expresso machine with me on Survivor.")
- muse-em (as in, "This one might get me in trouble with my darling sister-in-law, who pronounces it muse-em even though she is a very intelligent person.")
So remember, you need a good re-al-tor if you don't want your new house to be by a nu-cle-ar reactor, but you want to live close to the art mu-seee-um and a good eSSSpresso shop. Also, you prefer not to live in the ghetto, eSSSpecially if you have a lot of expensive jew-el-ry in your house.
Sound it out, friends. Sound it out.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
I was thinking about Grandma Diehl and her hospitality. Whenever we would visit her in her little Shipshewana home, we would arrive to find freshly made beds, fluffed towels, refreshing iced tea and lemonade, and some kind of yummy treats to welcome us. She would greet us at the door with a warm hug and a welcoming smile. I could tell that she had been preparing for our arrival with great anticipation and excitement. It occurred to me (this is where God stepped in) that the very same thing is happening right now in Heaven, only on a much grander scale.
I imagine that right now, her sisters and friends who have gone before her are readying her room. They are fluffing the fluffiest pillows. They lay across the bed a beautiful quilt that they have been making together since the day God announced that June would soon be coming home. They have placed in a vase an arrangement of flowers that have never been seen on Earth - blossoms that God thought up and knew would be perfect for His daughter. They talk and laugh and reminisce, excited as little girls to see their loved one again.
Grandpa Diehl waits at the gate. Dressed in his finest clothes, he holds a giant bouquet of his wife's favorite flowers. He rocks back and forth on his heels, trying to be patient, but he can't remember the last time he felt so excited. He tries to remember how it felt to hold his beloved, and he can't believe she will be in his arms again soon. He has tears in his eyes and a permanent grin on his face.
The crowd is gathering around him. Brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts and uncles, neighbors and friends have all come to welcome June home. Her parents stand near the front of the crowd. They are so proud that their daughter has finished the race. They can't wait to love on their sweet girl. They can't wait to show her around this amazing place. A few of the Great Saints have joined the crowd - C.S. Lewis, Oswald Chambers, Fanny Crosby, the Wesleys. (They are on the official Welcoming and Orientation to Heaven Committees.)
And standing at the back, waiting patiently, knowing the exact seconds until she walks through the gate, is her first and greatest love - Jesus.
Thank you, Lord, that we have a home with you.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
If you have the energy, please don't tell me.
Monday, June 23, 2008
- I've always loved to write. As a child I filled countless spiral notebooks with stories (mostly just a lot of "Chapter 1's," but still...). Then I moved on to journaling, and writing letters. I wrote a heap of letters to Ben when we were dating, during a season of separation, and reading them now both proves my naivete at the time and reminds me of all the reasons we fell in love. And now I blog, more rarely than I wish, but as often as time and energy permit. I generally consider myself a gifted writer, not Pulitzer Prize material, but enjoyable enough to read. Today, though, I had the pleasure of reading the blog of someone monumentally talented, and I felt immediately and terribly insecure about my own writing. I ridiculed myself for thinking that anyone would want to read what I write and had to resist the urge to delete this entire blog and save the blogosphere from my uncleverly turned phrases. I have no inner resolution to this just yet, but I decided to write today in defiance of my own insecurity. Ha!
- I was cleaning the kitchen today. I love to clean. I love to put things into order and make my home pleasant and cozy. It's a cathartic experience for me, and always my go-to therapy when I'm angry or upset or worried. Today I wasn't any of those things, but I am having company tomorrow and my house is a disaster. So anyway, I was cleaning. The downside to cleaning is that it gives you time to think, and in my case, lots of time to worry. I struggle with anxiety and trusting God for the unseen on a daily basis (I don't think I'm alone in that), and today as I started washing up dishes all I could think about was money. We don't have enough of it, we can't seem to make it stretch the way we need it to, and even though we spend less and less we don't ever seem to have more and more. I started my inner dialogue of shame and regret for having lived above our means for a very long time and how much that is impacting us now, and I felt a heavy sickness in my stomach. I hate worrying. The Bible tells us not to worry. Period. God provides. Period. God is faithful. Period. I have witnessed His faithfulness in my life at so many turns that it amazes me that I can still be untrusting. So today, standing in the kitchen with a hundred burdens on my shoulders, I decided to start praising Him. I just started singing, loudly and triumphantly and determinedly. And God came. I love those moments when I feel peace wash over me. More often than not I let the enemy drown out God's gentle whispers, but today I listened and heard, and I felt peace.
- Our son Eli is 14 months old, and we're beginning to see moments of misbehavior and disobedience (not to mention tantrums and fits and meltdowns), and we're really struggling with how to approach discipline at his age. We've read the books, consulted our families and friends, googled it - and we find the same advice at every turn. Tell your child to stop and redirect him. Give him a time out - a very short time out - and explain why. Tell him, "Don't touch" in a firm voice with a grumpy face and move his hand - and if he continues, give his hand a little swat (or a flick, according to the pediatrician). But all we get, no matter what we try, is the most annoyingly adorable little giggle from our son. I keep thinking, "This is just the beginning. I can't believe this is just the beginning." Of course, this time is precious and fleeting and full of delightful moments, but some days... good Lord.
- My dog has a very touchy stomach. She's been on prescription dog food since she was a puppy and as a rule, does not get any people food. Until Eli started eating in the high chair and sharing his food with "deedee." I don't know what she got into today, but she has pooped and puked all over the house. Blech.
- I wish I was pregnant so that there would be an acceptable explanation for my still-protuding tummy.
- I got a call this weekend from an old college friend, Katrina Stewart. I met Katrina in our Birds of Prey class at NNC and became friends with her and her husband Marcus. We hung out with them a lot the first year we were married, when we lived in our tiny apartment on Sunnyridge with all of our borrowed furniture. Marcus and Katrina moved to Alaska shortly before Ben and I moved to Indiana, and they sold us their beautiful entertainment center. At the time, it was the nicest piece of furniture we owned, and we were so proud of it. We've kept in touch with them through emails and Christmas letters, but haven't seen them in seven years. So I thought it was ironic (don't roll your eyes if I don't quite understand irony - I told you I wasn't a very good writer) that on the weekend when we were finally selling the entertainment center at a yard sale, Katrina called to tell me that they were in town. I asked her if they'd like to buy it back, but she declined. She and Marcus are coming over tomorrow night to have dinner and take our little boys to the playground. I'm excited to reconnect with our old friends and reminisce about the days of cookouts and pumpkin carving parties.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
I had the rare joy of getting my sweet baby boy to cuddle with me today in the big, comfy rocker where we spent so many hours this time last year. Elijah is almost 14 months old, and every day he becomes less of a baby. I love to watch him grow and change. I have the incredible privilege of staying home with him every day (for now), and I am amazed at the ways he changes right before my eyes. It's such a wonderful and heartbreaking time. I can't wait for each new stage, each new word, new skill, new understanding. I can't wait until Eli can talk with me and until I can teach him and read with him. And in the next breath, I want to freeze time and hold him in that rocking chair forever. I imagine it will be this way for the rest of his life. I'm sure my mom still feels that strange mix of elation and heartache when she looks at me. Oh baby boy, what a constant reminder of God's goodness to us.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
I am: insecure
I think: more slowly than I used to
I know: useless pop culture trivia
I want: to be less critical
I have: a happy, funny, adorable son
I wish: I kept a cleaner home
I hate: migraines
I miss: my waistline
I fear: cancer, car wrecks, nuclear war... you name it
I feel: weary
I hear: the dishwasher - strangely, one of my favorite sounds
I crave: Starbuck's Java Chip ice cream
I search: for contentment
I wonder: about the what-ifs
I regret: not always valuing virtue
I ache: for anyone who doesn't know God's love
I care: what other people think of me
I always: pretend that I don't
I am not: high-strung
I believe: that Jesus loves me
I sing: joyfully
I dance: awkwardly
I cry: often and loudly
I don't always: floss, even though I know better
I fight: my human nature
I write: honestly
I never: know when to bite my tongue
I listen: without judgment
I need: affirmation. Lots and lots of affirmation.
I am happy: today
Thursday, June 12, 2008
I had a simply wonderful day with my husband today. Ben and I have been married for almost eight years, and he's been my honey since I was nineteen. He has always been my best friend, my sounding board, my cheerleader. There's always good conversation and laughing. Lots and lots of laughing. But as life tends to go, with careers and children and more to do than we have time for, we don't get a lot of "us" time these days. I decided that as part of his birthday week (yes, at our house we get a week - and I often get a month), we would spend a day playing golf together. We used to play quite a bit pre-baby, but it's been ages since we got to go. So I was really looking forward to a day on the links with my buddy.
We dropped Eli off at a friend's house and headed to the beautiful Red Tail course in Beaverton. It was as pretty as it was described on the website, and unfortunately for me, as challenging. I'm not what you'd call a "good" golfer. I learned a new rule today - the "you can't score higher than double the par" rule. I got to use that rule on nearly every hole. Poor golfing aside, I so enjoyed the warm, sunny day, a couple of cold beers, and uninterrupted conversation with my sweetie.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
I've known my friend Liz since preschool. From what I've been told, we both liked to chase boys. Our mothers became friends, and it just happened that Elizabeth went to the same Catholic school where my mom taught (and therefore I attended). We were inseparably best friends throughout elementary school. We carpooled to ballet together for years. I have vivid memories of us in the back of her van, changing into our leotards and tights and eating crisp apple slices and carrot sticks. Or the thrill of seeing our recital costumes for the first time (minus the unfortunate misstep of the butter tub hats). Or waiting in the wings at Jewett Auditorium, counting the beats until we made our grand entrance as rose attendants, playing cards, or guests at the wedding of the Little Mermaid.
Eliza (as she was known then) and I shared a love of writing stories. We created and performed elaborate plays on the blacktop playground. We spent nights snuggled up in her amazing playhouse, pretended to be mermaids in my swimming pool, ran away from the orphanage in my grandmother's old hats, and solved mysteries as detectives Snyder and McGraw. We had wildly active imaginations and the 1980's freedom to roam our neighborhoods without adult supervision.
We also got into trouble. A lot. Once when Liz was playing at my house, we decided to investigate the attic. I'd never been to the attic, and I wasn't even certain we had an attic, but I knew there was some kind of door on the ceiling of our huge walk-in pantry. So we hauled inside my dad's enormous, rickety old wooden ladder and somehow manuevered it up the stairs to the kitchen and into the pantry. It was a tight squeeze. I was on the top rung of the ladder when we heard my parents returning from their bike ride. (Yes, children, in those days parents went out bike riding and left their children home alone. It was safe - I think.) I scrambled down the ladder and we raced down the stairs. I remember that my dad was coming in the back door just as my left foot rounded the corner at the bottom of the stairs. I don't know what we were expecting - that he would see the ladder and think, "Man, I can't believe I brought this ladder in here and forgot to take it out?" We had just made it to my bedroom when we heard my dad yell "ALISA!" in the "you are in so much trouble right now" tone. And I was.
Liz and I went to different junior highs and quit ballet, and we drifted apart for a few years. We became close friends again when my family moved into a house across the street from hers. How thankful I am today that my parents chose that house! Liz and I remained tight friends through high school and college, and I watched as she slowly became the brilliant, talented, funny, self-effacing, and ridiculously beautiful woman she is today. Liz is gorgeous, no doubt. I swear she has absolutely no fat on her body, which is sickening. Her saving grace is that she has a warm, genuine, charismatic personality that makes it impossible not to love her. Liz is kind and compassionate, funny and humble. She is the single greatest hugger I've ever encountered. She hugs you long and tight and makes you feel like you are the most important and loved person in her world. I would walk to Seattle for one of her hugs.
Liz is now married (to a truly awesome guy) and her name sounds like that of an investigative journalist - "Elizabeth Broenneke reporting from the front lines" - although she is actually a very successful accountant. Liz and Jason live in Sammamish, Washington and are two of the most down-to-earth, enjoyable people I know. We are separated by miles, but she is always close to my heart.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
- Rock Band. I love to play with Ben. I'm best on the drums, suck on the guitar, and love to sing.
- Books. I've been reading up a storm lately. Some good recent reads - The Bright Forever, The Jane Austen Book Club, A Room With a View. I'm looking forward to reading The Russian Concubine next.
- Reality shows. I love the Legally Blond show on MTV, Top Chef, So You Think You Can Dance. I can't wait for the new seasons of Shear Genius and Project Runway to start. I'll watch anything on Bravo.
- Sweet Cream ice cream with fresh strawberries from Coldstone Creamery. In a waffle bowl.
- Being thirty.
- Slow Oregon drivers. People here do not speed. I speed. I am a speeder.
- The crappy weather we've been having. We keep hearing that it's a fluke, that it's usually really nice and sunny and warm this time of year in Portland. It had better be.
- Cooking. I do through phases of being a really good cook and enjoying making dinners. This is not one of those phases, sadly.
- Headaches. I am still having headaches every day and migraines every two or three days. Still. I haven't had a day without a headache since Eli was born. I'm going to try acupuncture. I hope I don't end up on Dateline... "All she wanted was to lose her headache... "
- Elijah's new habit of having mini-meltdowns when he doesn't get what he wants. Or doesn't know what he wants. Or doesn't know how to tell me what he wants. Who does he think he is, a toddler?
- Did I mention the weather?
I am currently head-over-heels in love with my son. I'm sure I'll say this every few months, but he's at such a fun stage right now. At 13 months (give or take), he's fully walking and constantly "talking." Walking has become a source of endless entertainment for us both. Eli's new favorite activity is to pick up two random objects (a yellow ball and a dish towel, for example) and carry them around. He sticks his belly out, holding his two precious items up in the air, and wanders all over the house, mumbling to himself, "ba da rar ga sha" with an occasional ear-piercing screech or top-of-his-lungs "RRRAAARR!" Kind of like a crazy old man, but adorable. Eli has recently taken great interest in Molly, our 5-year-old Yorkie. He has figured out that doggie has her own toys, and thinks it hysterically funny to let Molly take her toys from him. He tries to play tug-of-war with her, which usually ends with him falling hard on his bottom and laughing gleefully. He shows Molly affection by bending over and rubbing his head on her. To her credit, she is wonderfully tolerant of him and even gives him little kisses now and then, just to show that she's a good sport.
The other great thing about this stage is his growing vocabulary. He can say several words - dada, mama, "doddy" (doggie), "ma da" (my dog), "dat?" (what's that?), "pssh" (please), and "dadu" (thank you) on a fairly regular basis. Whenever he hears a car, truck, or airplane go by he says, "Rrraarr!" Apparently, vehicles sound like dinosaurs to him. Our days are set to the soundtrack of a constant stream of babbling punctuated by shrieks, screams, yelps, and howls that I thought could only be made by rain forest animals. I can't understand most of what he says, of course, but I'm pretty sure he's solving the energy crisis or forming an exit strategy for the war.
Eli is also a champion beggar. I rarely manage to get his dinner and our dinner on at the same time, so inevitably he is done before we are. No matter how much he's had to eat, he will beg for every bite of our food. He stands in front of us and marches, right left right left, hyperventilating and whimpering until he finally just goes for it, snatching whatever he wants right off our plates.
Of course, this wonderful age is also the beginning of the tantrum-throwing, leg-clinging, meltdown-having stage of the toddler years. There are days that I long for grandparents to be nearby. But whenever I feel like I'm going to absolutely lose it, I remind myself that these days are short and precious. I look at my little boy, his angelic blond curls, sparkling blue eyes, and dimpled grin, listen to his sweet baby voice, and know that I am impossibly blessed to be his mommy.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
I am Blessed with a capital B to have many close friends. I have girlfriends from childhood, from college, from my long exile in Indiana, and in my new life in Portland. But I have a small group of girlfriends with whom I've grown up practically (and in some cases literally) since birth. There are six of us, and our fellowship runs deep and wide. My friends have, as people tend to do, grown up and changed and changed again and grown some more. The dynamics of our friendships have evolved, but I can say with confidence that we love each other fiercely and loyally. We don't always agree, we don't always share common interests or values - although we've certainly shared common boyfriends (cue great joke drumming noise) - but we care about each other and we respect each other. We would move mountains to rescue each other from the pit. I love and admire these women so much that I've decided to write a tribute to each of them. Whitney is first.
Whitney and I were born into our church at the same time (that paints an interesting mental image), but we weren't "besties" in grade school. Whitney moved away in the fifth grade. One of my rare crystal clear memories of that age is Whitney's going-away party at Roller Magic, that sanctuary of glitter stickers and giant jawbreakers. At the end of the party, we requested "Right Here Waiting" by Richard Marx. (side note: I will love that song until the day I die.) I so vividly remember all of us skating in a long line, grasping hands with the person on each side, and singing along through our choking sobs as we circled the smooth wooden floor again and again. I love that memory because, juvenile as it was, it perfectly illustrates our bond.
I had little contact with Whitney while she lived in tiny Paul, Idaho and I grew up in the big city of Nampa. She moved back to our town in the summer after our sophomore year (sorry Whit, if I have the timing wrong). We immediately became glued at the hip. I don't remember becoming friends with her, exactly, I just know that nearly every memory of high school from then on involved Whitney in some way. We had such fun together. We staged elaborate make-believe Miss America contests, complete with costumes, an opening group number, and variations on the talent of interpretive dance (Whitney's whale sounds dance was a highlight). We learned that the song Innagoddadavita (I had to look up how to spell that) was actually fourteen minutes long, way too long to dance to, so we sped it up on the record player and caused bodily injury in the process. Whitney and I went on road trips in her white Geo Metro, trips that took us 45 whole minutes away to Ontario, Oregon, to see her oral surgeon. (I've never before wondered why she had to see an oral surgeon in Ontario, but I am now.) We spent hours painting various esoteric quotes on the walls of her bedroom. We laid on her floor in tears, listening to Candlebox and knowing that we were the only teenage girls experiencing true emotional angst. We traveled together to Seattle to preview the college we wanted to attend, but when Whitney was immediately accosted by a homeless man who asked her if he could drink her urine (quite politely, to his credit), I knew that my dream of going away to college together might not happen.
We had our down moments. Whitney began dating someone briefly after I broke up with him, and when I found out I felt pretty betrayed. Never mind that he had already dated three of our friends, or that they wound up getting married and making adorable babies. I was very angry with her for awhile for not coming away to college with me, and hurt when I learned second hand about her engagement. It was a tough time for us.
But our friendship persevered, and when I moved back to Nampa my sophomore year of college, we grew closer than ever. I spent nights with her in her cinder-block-walled married housing apartment, where we played Nintendo half the night and fell asleep to Empire Records. After I was married, we took long walks every day and talked for hours about the adventures of being a young wife. Or, we met up go for a long run at the lake, but wound up eating Blizzards on her couch, instead. I still love Blizzards, by the way.
Whitney is delightful. She is impossibly smart (much smarter than me, which pains me to admit), ambitious, funny, spontaneous, creative, slightly neurotic, and wonderfully loving. She has grown tremendously in Christ, but there is no one with whom I would rather share my least Christ-like moments. She is a terrific mom, even though she thinks she is terrible. Her son is brilliant and loving and obeys at least 30% of the time, which is saying something for a five-year-old. I still can't believe she had the nerve to have a kid so much sooner than me, but at least her new daughter Adeline can marry my son.
Whitney and I live hundreds of miles from each other, but with a phone call from her, it feels like no time has passed. I like to imagine us in fifty years, driving a responsible speed down the freeway (safety first), singing along to "My Sharona," on our way to DQ for a cold treat.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
My turning point came just this past weekend. As I prepared my Sunday School lesson on Saturday night, I knew that I had a terrible attitude about teaching, and was giving hardly any effort or thought (or prayer) to the lesson. Going to church the next morning, all I could think about was the things I don't I don't like about our church. During worship, I stood with my arms crossed and barely sang words that I knew I didn't mean. The point is, I was spiritually a wreck, and I knew it, and I couldn't figure out why I didn't just fall to my knees and cry out to God. I mean, I know Jesus. I know him as a beloved friend, my Saviour, my King... why couldn't I run to him and talk to him and listen for him?
Later that day, I determined that I was not going to let another moment pass without opening my Bible and spending some time with God. I'm in the middle of a wonderful Beth Moore study on the Psalms. It happened that the lesson I was on was all about fixing our gaze. Where we look, she explained, determines what (or who) we listen to. That determines what we feel, and in turn what we expect. How true that is in my life! I had been looking only at my circumstances - financial challenges, frustrations of parenting, disagreements with Ben - and stubbornly refusing to look up to Jesus. He was speaking, but I wasn't listening. So of course, I felt even more discouraged, and I expected that nothing was going to change.
Then I read this in one of my devotionals: "If you have a murmuring spirit, you cannot have true cheerfulness. Your cheerfulness can only spring up freely and healthily when your heart is truly at rest in God; when you are satisfied with His ways, and wishing no change in them. When this is truly the case, then your heart and mind are free, and you can rejoice in spirit (Priscilla Maurice)." If you know me well, you know that I am generally a very cheerful person. I pride myself on being light-hearted and full of joy, even in challenging circumstances. Which, I came to learn, is exactly my problem. Pride.
I've been reading a powerful book (which deserves an entire post to itself) called Blue Like Jazz. I came to a passage that so eloquently explained why I was refusing to turn to God. The author talks about his struggle to receive God's grace and forgiveness. He writes, "It seemed wrong to me not to have to pay for my sin, not to feel guilty about it or kick myself around. I love to give charity, but I don't want to be charity... I believed I was above the grace of God." I realized that I wasn't running to God for his grace because I was too proud to humbly ask for it again. I was reminded that God doesn't grudgingly pour out his grace on us, He rejoices in doing it! God loves me intensely and intimately. He doesn't want any barrier to exist between us, and He is thrilled when I break down and cry out to him, no matter how stubborn and sinful and selfish I've been. I was so humiliated by my failure to live up to expectations that I forgot that Jesus came for sinners such as me. As Donald Miller write, I am not above the charity of God.
Friday, May 9, 2008
my friend dara has an adorable daughter named sydney, who is about 6 months older than him. they play really well together and dara and i have decided that they are boyfriend and girlfriend. this morning we took them for a walk, and my son got a little too aggressive with his affection for sydney's taste. it looks like we may have to talk with him about his intentions.
Monday, May 5, 2008
But this isn't about my amazing ability to age in reverse. This is about Eli and his super first birthday party.
From the beginning, I was determined not to throw an out-of-control party for Eli's first birthday. I started with the idea to have my parents come from Idaho (like they need a reason to visit), and we would just have a nice little family celebration. Then, my sister moved back to Idaho just in time to be able to join us. "Hmm..." I thought, "maybe we should invite just one or two of our friends. I don't want Eli to be lonely on his big day." So I added a couple of couples and their little ones to the list. I realized that even that many people was too much for our little house, so I decided that a tiny outdoor party at a local park would be perfectly manageable and much more fun.
Here's where one of my loving friends should have intervened and said: "Alisa, an outdoor party in April in Portland? Are you on crack?" But they did not.
I decided to have the party at the cute little neighborhood playground in our subdivision. That way, just in case it decided to rain (very unlikely, in the second rainiest city in America), we could easily move the party back to our house, and our guests could just take turns sitting down.
As the big day drew near, the party grew, as parties are known to do. I added a friend here, a friend there, a fifth cousin who just happens to live in Portland, and before I knew it, my party had grown to 21 people. Not quite an extravaganza, but definitely bigger than I had originally planned. At some point, I decided that our party just had to involve baby swings, and since our humble neighborhood park doesn't have them, I moved the party to a beautiful (and, I learned, quite popular) park several miles away. Savvy planner that I am, I thought to reserve a covered pavilion at the park, but learned that until the first of May, they were first-come, first-served. "No problem," I thought. "Surely no one else will want to have their party there on the same day."
This is where one of my loving friends should have pointed out that Rood Bridge Park is an incredibly popular spot, and chances were good that someone else would want to have a party there on the same day. But they did not.
The location was taken care of. Now there was the issue of a theme. I'm not much for character parties, so I looked for something without Elmo's crazy smiling face on every plate. I found an adorable set called "Safari Babies," which I loved. "Now, don't go crazy," I told myself. But of course, I did. I started with a couple sets of plates, cups, and napkins. Oh, but they had regular plates and dessert plates, and they were both so charming that I couldn't pick just one. Then I needed a tablecloth, of course - maybe two. And matching plastic flatware, and the mini-centerpieces, and the seven dollar balloon shaped like a lion. I felt very righteous for putting back the jungle animal water squirters and the dozen balloons with color-coordinated ribbons.
My greatest accomplishment of the day (other than the fact that my son had survived my parenting for an entire year) was his birthday cake. I was determined to make the cake myself. I made a double-layer lion cake in my all-time favorite flavor - Rainbow Chip. Oh, the miracle that is Rainbow Chip cake. I cut the bottom layer to resemble a lion's mane, and turned the top layer into its snout. My mom made a delicious cream cheese frosting and I frosted the cake yellow, then added frosting "hair" to the mane. I was running out of time to finish it, and Ben saved the day with awesome cake decorating skills. The cake turned out incredibly cute, and I was very proud.
Eli's big day started out cloudy and chilly, and the weather quickly went from bad to worse. As I was finishing the goody bags in the last hour before the party, I glanced out the window and was greeted by the sight of pouring rain. Over the next hour, the rain turned into sleet, snow, and hail. It never snows in Portland, but of course, it snowed on a late April day, just for my outdoor party. I calmly finished my job and prayed for a miracle. God delivered! As we left for the park, the weather cleared. We didn't have the brilliant sunshine and 70 degrees I had hoped for, but at least our guests weren't getting soaked.
The final "Oh dear" moment came when my sister and I arrived at the park. I had expected that we were the only people brave (or dumb) enough to actually hold an outdoor party on that beautiful day, but I really underestimated the Oregonian's ability to ignore terrible weather. As we pulled into the parking lot I saw that not one, not two, but all three covered pavilions were taken! Not to be defeated, I marched over to the smallest party, which was still being set up, and asked if they would mind sharing their space for a darling one-year-old boy whose mommy doesn't understand the meaning of "back-up plan." They were kind enough to give us two of the tables, and we were in business!
After that, the party went off without a hitch. Our wonderful friends braved the elements to celebrate with us, the food was delicious, and Eli thoroughly destroyed his lion cake. Ben and I were able to forget the chaos of the day and enjoy our baby boy turning one. Having Eli has been an incredible joy, and we can't wait to see what comes next.
things my son could have marveled over on his first trip to the zoo: zebras, giraffes, rhinos, hippos, bears, monkeys, turtles, polar bears, otters, elephants, and many birds and fish. also the spectacular forested setting of the portland zoo. not to mention the remarkably warm weather, the bright sunshine and the brilliant blue sky.
things my son showed a teensy bit of interest in: my elephant ear, my sunglasses, and girls.
way to go, zoo!
Saturday, May 3, 2008
i've been blessed to be married to ben for almost eight years. so i know him well enough to say that he is one of the good guys. he's kind and sensitive, loving and funny, smart and witty. he's man enough to play golf (well), and man enough to wear pink while he does it. ben has impeccable taste and picks out my most adorable clothes. he's an incredible daddy. he would never write a blog entitled "sometimes being a dad sucks." but he doesn't judge me for writing one. ben has a hugely compassionate heart. he cares about people who no one else cares about and befriends people who have no friends. ben is disgustingly good at rock band and is, as i type, beating every song on the expert level. i can barely finish "roxanne" on the easy level, but whatever. his rockband band name is "no wait, now go!" if you don't understand how awesome that is, you can't be my friend. i'm incredibly thankful that God put ben in my life, and that, when i told ben that i could marry him on our third date, he didn't leave me on the shoulder of i-84.
as a mom, the party line is, "i can't imagine my life without alexis/madison/jacob/atticus!" i've said this myself, usually while backpedaling after complaining about my son's incessant whining or inability to sleep through the night. but really, come on. of course i can imagine what it would be like to sleep until ten, go out to dinner on a whim, and leave the house to run errands carrying only my stylishly tiny purse. i remember what life was like B.K. (before kid), and it was good. at the time, of course, i thought i was exhausted, stressed out, and generally run ragged. ha. i miss being spontaneous and unplanned and unprepared. i miss going out for late dinners and drinking too many margaritas and watching an entire episode of top chef uninterrupted. i miss my pre-baby body. when did i go from being the cute girl at the bar to the lady with the back fat buying gloria vanderbilt shorts? yes, that actually happened.
it's no secret that having a child changes your life, but i wasn't prepared for how dramatically. no one is. and that's good, because if we all knew exactly what we were in for, nobody would have kids. one night, after my flu-ridden baby puked on me for the tenth time and my husband and i argued over who had to give the five a.m. bottle, and after i found that i still couldn't fit into any of my adorable pre-baby skirts, i sat on the floor of my closet and cried... and cried... and cried. i'm sure it won't be the last time. it's tough, this mommy business.
thank goodness there's a good news. the good news is, there is seriously nothing that can compare to my son's giggle, no smile that can match his two-toothed grin, no kiss better than his slobbery one on my nose. my son walked for the first time this week, and those four wobbly steps made me feel more accomplished than my best day teaching. it's okay to remember my free-wheeling days and even to wish, from time to time, that i could go back there. but one sweet "mama" makes me remember that, back-fat be damned, being a mom rocks.