Thursday, December 29, 2011

Yummies

...so admit it, your NY resolution really IS to lose 15lbs. And eat a little healthier. Let me help you out. Here are a few fabulous recipes that either have been staples in our house, or are new ones that will NOW be staples in our house!!

Harvest Muffins (easily made gf or regular - just use regular flour if you're not gf)

This recipe comes from Wheat-Free, Gluten-Free Cookbook for Kids and Busy Adults by Connie Sarros.

I was beYOND impressed when I made these. Even gluten-free (definitely use your xanthan gum, though, if your gf flour mix doesn't already contain it) they were light, fluffy, and perfect. I was like, shazzam. So was Levi.

1c chopped pitted dates (use wet scissors for the easiest chopping)
1/2 c raisins (I got sick of chopping dates so increased the amount of raisins and decreased the dates)
3/4c water
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2c brown sugar
1/2c unsweetened applesauce
1/4c orange juice
1/4c olive oil
2t vanilla
1 1/2 t almond extract (I didn't have any)
1/2c chopped nuts (I omitted this)
2c g-free flour mixture (my fave is Bob's Red Mill all-purpose gluten-free mix)
1/4t salt
2t baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 t cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350, spray muffin tins (I brushed them with olive oil, turns out fine)
2. Put the dates and raisins in a large saucepan. Add the water, bring to a boil on the stove, boil till the water is absorbed (~4min). Remove from heat and let mixture cool.
3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a fork till frothy. Stir in the brown sugar, applesauce, OJ, olive oil, vanilla, and almond extract.
4. Stir in the dates and raisins, stir in the nuts.
5. Add the flour mixture, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon, and stir with a rubber spatula just until the ingredients are blended (over-stirring makes for dense muffins with weird peaks).
6. Spoon the batter into the muffins tins to about 2/3 full.
7. Bake for about 15 minutes or till a toothpick comes out clean. Let sit for about 10min before removing from pans.

Tuscan Soup

from The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast by Kristen Feola

Okay, if I make something like spaghetti, Levi's like meh about it. When I make this soup, he's on it like bark on a tree. Go figure.

1T olive oil
1c diced onion
1c diced carrot
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 c vegetable broth (I really like Better Than Bouillon, it's a really hearty flavor that rivals beef broth)
1c dry lentils, sorted and rinsed
1 (15oz) can cannellini beans (or garbanzos, or whatever)
1 (14.5oz) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 (10oz) pkg frozen spinach, unthawed
1/2T dried rosemary
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste

Saute onions and carrots in olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, until onions are translucent. Stir in garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more. Add remaining ingredients, heat to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20-25 min with tilted lid.

Tastes great with brown rice added in. I like to serve this with a Greek salad, hummus, and pita chips.

And finally...

Chicken Nicoise

from the good ol' Betty Crocker cookbook

1 1/4 c dry white whine or chicken broth
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2c frozen small whole onions (not terribly important if you don't have them)
1T Italian seasoning
1 or 2 bell peppers, sliced
6 Kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
2c hot cooked rice

1. In a 10in skillet, heat 1/4c of the wine to boiling. Cook chicken in wine about 5 min, turning once, until outside of chicken is white.
2. Add garlic, onions, seasoning, bell peppers, olives, and remaining one cup of wine to skillet. Heat to boiling, boil 5 min.
3. Reduce heat to medium, cook 10-15 min until chicken is cooked thru. Serve on rice.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Be Well in 2012

Sorry I've been such a blogging slacker. Sometimes that's just the way it is.

I'm sitting here trying to be deathly quiet because I'm waiting for a little boy to go to sleep. I can hear him thumping around his bed and making quiet noises to himself, which is fine with me...but yesterday, instead of going to sleep after his little quiet playtime, he escalated into a full-out assault against his nap. I can probably count on one hand the number of times he's really come unglued that way, but when it happens, it just feels awful.

I never wanted to run a tip-toe household, and when he was a little baby that worked. I could vacuum around him, sing at the top of my lungs, and nearly land a plane while he blissfully slept. It's not like I plant myself on the couch now and wait for him to get up, but I do move around the house in stealth mode.

So many things I never thought I'd do or say. But actually, there are many things people told me I'd do that I said I'd never do, and I still haven't done them. But they'll come up. Normal ebb and flow, choosing battles and making decisions.

Speaking of decisions...how's that list of New Year's resolutions coming?

I've decided not to make any resolutions this year; but I have decided one thing...

I want to BE resolute. Own my decisions. Let my yes be yes and my no be no.

This past year I've become more and more this way. Not do things because they should be done, because other people want me to do them. It's come with needing the structure that's inherent with having a little one in the house, with looking well to the ways of my household, with being the gatekeeper of all that begs entrance: what we watch, what we hear, what we do, what we eat.

I want us to be well. Overall. Be mindful, simple, and careful. The world can carry us away with what it has to offer - things we can't afford, that suck our time, that sing our souls to complacent sleep.

A couple months ago, in my little notebook I started a list with four categories, entitled "Be Well in 2012." Catchy, I know. (Hey man, I can write decently, but creativity is NOT my suit.) They apply more to general household things, not parenting or marriage specifically. Anyway, here goes:

Spiritual

*Make God's Word a priority (as in, digging into it, continue being involved in Bible studies, work on memorizing it, etc). Here are some CD's I'd really like to get to sow those little seeds into Levi's heart as well.
*Actively try to apply Scripture to every circumstance
*Continue to make quiet time a priority (a basic rule I've applied is, as soon as Levi goes down for that first nap of the day, it's time for my quiet time with the Lord. No matter what.)

Environmental

Just keep up with all the little changes I've made over the past few years that are better for the overall environment, as well as the little environment that is our home.

*Line dry as much as possible. (You ought to see my basement. It's like passing thru a jungle when I have three loads hanging in every possible spot.)
*Detox every room as much as possible (as in, switch out products to ones that are 100% natural or homemade)
*No hoarding! Make a semi-monthly habit of recycling items, dropping them off at the mission, etc. When it doubt, throw it out...or at least give it away...
*Maintain a steady cleaning schedule (this has been the #1 thing this past year that has helped me keep my soup in a group!)

Food

*Eat as vegetarian as possible. It's cheaper overall and keeps me creative.
*No compromise on food/ingredients (in our home, that is. Whatever anyone else feeds us, we gladly and gratefully receive!). That means all organic and/or pastured meat, as much local fare as possible, and non-GMO. Yes, we spend more money on food overall, but we figure we'll either spend it now on healthier food, or later in health care costs. It's going out the door either way.
*Cut back on - not eliminate, let's face it... - refined sugars and grains, and find yummy sugar alternatives.
Seriously consider cod liver oil* (Done!! Started taking it a couple weeks ago and already see a difference in our skin!)
Research coconut oil* (done! We use it in cooking, on our skin, on Levi's diaper rashes...)

*westonaprice.org is a good resource if interested in looking them up

Habits

*Make exercise a priority in our family. I'll admit, this is way harder than when my time was almost entirely my own. Exercise has been redefined for me: several climbs up the stairs with an excited toddler who just learned to scale them...pushing a stroller or pulling him in a sled...having a dance party. But just keep moving!
*Continue to rise early. I just get more done and am more focused for the day when I get up, make the bed, and throw in a load of laundry before Levi gets up (and he's a very early riser!!!).
*Overall, we want to raise Levi (and anyone else who happens to come along, should the Lord see fit!) in a home characterized by having good habits. We'll gladly drop everything to read him a book or play, but we'll also gladly leave him to play alone so we can get something done. We want him to have fun and play, but also want him to see that work (in any form) is a gift and a blessing, and a very important part of life.

What do you resolve for this coming year? How do you want your life or household to look different, or how would you like to "tweak" it? Or do you just want to lose 15lbs and call it good? ;)

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

No title

The other day I read a story about an Australian couple, pregnant with twins, who had decided to "selectively reduce" one of the twins because he had a heart defect that would have required multiple surgeries to correct. Well, evidently the procedure didn't exactly go as planned and BOTH babies died. They were 32 weeks. Thirty-two. Weeks. I'm still sitting here puzzled, wondering if anyone else is wondering: at what point did the choice become a tragedy?

But that's not what I'm going to write about.

Every morning I get up somewhere between 5 and 6, and make the bed as soon as my feet hit the floor. If nothing else is accomplished in my day, at least the bedroom started out in some fashion of order. I turn on the radio and half-listen to a rather mundane super-early morning program called "Haven Today" on Moody Radio.

Tuesdays are change-the-sheets days. So I get up, strip the sheets and put clean ones on before I even head to the bathroom. So this morning I do my Tuesday morning routine, flip on Haven Today...and there's a man who is being interviewed who apparently just wrote a book called "Heaven is for Real." Since I caught the middle of the program, I don't know exactly what happened, but evidently this guy's son had something horrible happen at the age of three, and it sounds like he was in some sort of coma or was clinically dead. And after the boy was revived, he started talking about....things his parents had never taught him about heaven. And Jesus. And God. It came out in snippets. He'd be playing in his room, and he'd run out to his parents to blurt out something he had seen, or that Jesus had said to him, during his "time" in heaven.

Now I have to cut out here and say that I'm very skeptical about so-called "near death experiences" where people claim to see light and walk through tunnels. It's not that I don't believe them, it's just...I don't know...it was kind of trendy for a while to make such a claim. Among other things. But Moody is very sound and choosy in the material they present on their station. I know they wouldn't just put a quack on there who claims to have seen God in a drug-induced haze.

Anyway. So I was kind of intrigued listening to this man talk about his son and the things he had seen. I was enjoying a program that I normally find to be kind of lame.

And then the program host said, "...and then he met a certain little girl. Tell us about that."

I'm going to have a hard time writing this.

One evening, the boy blurted out, "I have another sister." And he ran back to his room.

The man's wife stopped cold - what did he say?? They had never told him about a miscarriage they had had years before, at around two months gestation. The parents followed him into his room, telling him you don't just say something like that to your mom and then leave the room.

"I have another sister. She looks a lot like Cassie (their other child)." And he went on to describe how she looked, how tall she was, and things she had said to him. She was so excited to see someone from her family.

"But she already has a family there, because He adopted her," the little boy told his dad.

You mean Jesus adopted her?, his father clarified...

"No. His Dad did."

God adopted his tiny sister into his family of children - that I love to imagine at times - playing around His throne.

I had started to lose it when he started the story about "I have another sister." By this point, I was face-down and sobbing on my bed.

I still miss Levi's sister. I know Glory Baby was a "she" and most anyone who's lost a baby before you even have a chance to wrap your mind around it will tell you they know the baby's gender in their heart. It's not like I think about it all the time or dwell on it or anything like that. It's just that at this time of year - the week that it all started to unravel - the loss is just that much more apparent. I love my little boy to pieces. But I loved that baby too. And I find myself just weighted with uncharacteristic sorrow - but then I look at the calendar and think, "Is it already that time again?"

I feel stupid that I still grieve one loss, one early-pregnancy miscarriage, when so many other people have lost so much more. But grief is grief, no matter what he wears when he waltzes into your home unbidden and unwelcome. Whether it's the death of a child, a relationship, a dream...it leaves a wound that eventually heals but is still blaringly obvious to the one who bears it.

After sobbing again on my basement floor (surrounded by laundry, mind you),I went for a walk this afternoon just to do anything to shake the fog that insisted on following me all the livelong day. I began thanking the Lord for anything I could think for which to be thankful. And then I began, instead of dwelling on my loss, to pray for an armload of people I know right now who would give anything to have a child. Who would give anything to be pushing a bundled-up little boy in an over-sized jogger on a cold afternoon. People I know and love who never thought Grief would show up at their door and muscle his way in. Who never once imagined that this was a road they'd have to walk.

So you know who you are. I prayed for you today. I prayed you'd be comforted to know that your child is adopted by the Creator Himself. I prayed the desire of your heart would be answered and your womb would open to receive and nurture life. I prayed for you by name.

And I came home feeling revived. We ARE loved by a mighty God.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Mundane post #4

Wow, now that I have to write only about mundane things, I have a lot more to say!!! Huh.

A couple years ago I went to a nursing conference in Phoenix with one of my friends from work. Every night as we relaxed in our hotel room we cracked up at the number of times this commercial came on for Pillow Pets. I can still sing the jingle. After three nights of listening to the Pillow Pets jingle and seeing the rapturous joy the Pillow Pets apparently impart (how's that for subtle alliteration), I was duly convinced that I needed one myself. I'm sure you've seen them. They're these stuffed animals who, when folded, have "legs" and when you unvelcro the "legs" - voila!! - they become a soft little pillow!!

Anyway, I bought Levi a giraffe Pillow Pet for Christmas. It's actually a Pillow Pet Pee-Wee - so a smaller version of one. It will fit perfectly in his mini crib. In our mini house. Anyway, I showed it to him when I found it at Meijer and he wanted to snuggle it (he coos and buries his face in stuffed animals), so we had a winner. And sadly, we won't wait till Christmas to give it to him. He's too little to know the difference, so he may as well enjoy it.

Well guess who's snuggling with the Pillow Pet now? Me. I really don't want to give it up. It's really, really, really soft and cozy. And to think that Nancy and I laughed and scoffed at the Pillow Pet commercial two years ago.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Anyway, about a month ago I had written in my little spiral notebook of randomness (prayers, thoughts, Bible verses, Bible study notes), What are my priorities and what is my purpose for today?? One thing that's really been challenging me over the past year is that tension - and I mean tension - of what's important, in what areas should we serve, in what places do we need to step down, how much is too much, how little is too little...and what it always comes down to for me is Proverbs 31:27 - How does this fit into looking well to the ways of my household?

One paradox of working in the Special Care Nursery at work is, from those who look in from the outside (proverbially, though we do have windows and people DO peer in from the outside), it often looks like we're doing nothing. From their point of view, we're sitting at our computers, actually DOING something with the baby every few hours, and then going back to our computers. What I always tell nursing students is that one of the best nursing interventions is to leave. the baby. alone. That is how a preemie is allowed to grow and develop. Me fussing with them to be busy and feel like I'm doing something is actually detrimental to the very person I'm trying to serve.

It applies at home too. The more Matt and I do, the busier we are, the more stuff we're involved in and the more we say 'yes' to people...the more our home suffers. There are weeks that we just spin...it happens about once a month or every other month...and then I get frustrated and shut the household down. It looks like we're doing nothing - the calendar squares are fairly empty, and saying no to people makes me feel guilty and silly, but in doing nothing we're doing something very significant, something that prompted us to make the decision to cut back my hours at work, to serve this very purpose: to allow the best environment for Levi to grow and develop and thrive. To keep a consistent nap routine. To follow his own quiet (or not so quiet at times) rhythm. It might seem a bit much but we have one little lamb and we're guarding the gate.

But still, guilt creeps in, and I have to keep reminding myself what our priorities are and what they're supposed to be...and what IS looking well to the way of my household? So I have to turn back to my page in my journal from a month ago and refresh:

1. To serve and glorify God, and tend to my relationship with Him. I NEED to carve out that time in the day - right when Levi goes down for his first nap, before I dive into housework.

2. To serve my husband and tend to my relationship with him. Whether or not Levi recites his letters or knows his colors before the other kids isn't the point; he needs to grow in a stable home where the marriage is a priority.

3. To serve Levi. Play with him, feed him, teach him, sing to him, read to him, provide structure and rest. He CAN play alone too. Teaching him to play alone and not need my constant attention is important too!!

4. Take care of my home. Things are washed, food is prepared, and things are reasonably in order and welcoming.

5. Tend to others. Encourage and serve them. But they cannot come before the other 3-4 things!

It looks easy on paper but is so hard to apply when you feel like it's better to do-do-do.

But sometimes NOT doing is what we SHOULD be doing.

It's still such a tension though, isn't it???

Monday, November 7, 2011

Weary of doing good

Levi developed a plan recently that serves zero purpose to either of us:

A 45-minute morning nap.

I really try to make it a discipline to do my quiet time/work on my Bible study as soon as he goes down for the morning. No. Matter. What. I need at least an hour so I can do that AND get some housework done, take a shower, or whatever.

But this 45 minute nonsense doesn't exactly work wonders for me. Mama needs an hour.

Levi wasn't pleased with my method to reinforce this today. But I can tell from the moment my baby gets up if his nap was as much as he needed, or if he simply woke up in the middle of a sleep cycle and thought it was simply time to get up. I knew that if I went into his room his eyes would be glazed and nearly rolling into the back of his head, but he would be just certain it was time to get up. And then he'd be crabby for the next few hours, I would be frustrated, and then he'd be so overtired that his afternoon nap would go similarly. And then the terrible attitude would roll into dinnertime.

So I let him stay in his bed. I know he was mad. I knew the exact moments that he flung his giraffe and three pacifiers over the railing so he'd have something about which to be even MORE mad. After fifteen minutes, I went in and collected his things, gave them back, saw the glazed and rolling eyes, and told him he needed more sleep and laid him back down.

Then, he was REALLY mad.

And then he....fell asleep.

When Levi turned one a week ago, I swear a toddler-tantrum switch was flicked onto "on" and I am desperately looking for the "reset" button...to no avail. Life is frustrating for him right now - he can't talk, is on the verge of walking, and is cutting six teeth. So you can't communicate (yes, I do signs with him but it's slow in being reciprocated), can't move like you want, and are in pain. Honestly, I'd be mad too.

Galatians 6:9 has become my big-cheese verse lately. I think it'll be my life verse for the next two decades:

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

I can't tell you how many times a day now that I have to tell this to myself. It's so much easier to give in and give him the food off my plate, to get him up even though I know he needs more sleep, to pick him up and carry him with me e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e to avoid the whining. But I will reap later what I sow even now. If I'm in the habit of giving in now, I'll continue that habit. I can't take the easy road.

*Now please don't think I'm a tyrant mom. I do feel like one sometimes! But it's not like I expect him to behave like a five-year-old boy. We just try to keep boundaries and structure in our home. But there are some days when you just have to let the house blow up around you because a little boy just needs to be cuddled and comforted and rocked and read to.

But how much does that verse just apply anywhere in life? In trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle, hitting recurring issues head-on, working on a marriage relationship, parenting....

...don't become weary of doing the right thing. Because you WILL reap a harvest. Don't. Grow. Weary.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Mundane post #3

Are you tired of mundane posts yet????

My heart is so incredibly burdened right now over a number of things - people who are very close to me - and either I will implode, or I will write another mundane post.

So the other day my gaze swept across our landscape (all 1/4 acre of it) and I hearkened back to last year right at this time - well, days before I had Levi - and thought, "This yard will NOT get raked this year."

And sure enough, it didn't.

So this week I thought to myself, "Self, you need take thine backside out and rake."

But I did NOT have time. And I was trying to figure out WHEN I (or Matt) would have time, and as I counted ahead for the next several days, it was becoming clear that the leaves may stay right where they are.

A few hours later, there was a knock at the door.

Two kids, clearly a brother and sister, probably about 10 and 12 years old, stood on my front porch with RAKES.

RAKES, I say.

At first I almost didn't answer the door because I was in an enormous hurry to get to something, and I had no time for underage Jehovah's Witnesses, scouts selling more popcorn, or whomever. But then I saw their rakes. And I answered the door.

"We're, um, raking yards to raise money for (this is where I'm waiting to hear a spiel about a mission trip, orphanage in Africa, local school or food pantry) a ferret."

A ferret?

"Do you want us to rake your yard??"

At that moment, I pictured myself standing in front of a blue-eyed, blond-haired little boy in about ten years, my eyes closed, pinching the bridge of my nose, saying, "If you can come up with a way to pay for (whatever it is that I would rather die than have in my house but this is a great learning opportunity about responsibility), you can get it." And then hoping against all hopes that no one will turn my little blue-eyed blond down as he goes door-to-door with a rake.

My other thought was, Does a bear poop in the woods? Heck YES you can rake my yard!

I asked what they were charging. The 10-year-old boy cast an entrepreneurial eye around our front yard and said, "Seven dollars?"

Me: TEN! Do you take a check?

And then this kid and his sister raked. our yard. And they totally spanked it. Like, there was not a leaf in sight. Granted, the yard's covered in leaves again two days later, but it's better than it would be. And some kids are gonna get their ferret.

So there you have it. Another slice of a mildly mundane life.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mundane post #2

Nothing emotionally and physically exhausts me more than hearing my baby cry. Days like this come so rarely and I count the minutes till Matt gets home...and I can't imagine what it's like to be a single parent, or have a kid with issues that make them scream all day.

I think the combination of him teething and getting a new cold now just push him over the edge. Germs come in without knocking, I've noticed. They brazenly enter unannounced with their muddy shoes on and expect me to clean up after them. We wash our hands meticulously, he's getting breastmilk, we don't go out-out that much, he's not in daycare, and has hardly been in the church nursery in the past few weeks. I never wanted to be that mom with the kid who has a glazed donut for an upper lip, and here I am. Chasing after a toddler with a piece of Kleenex.

And over and over to myself I say, This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.

There are days that I want to be doing something really spectacular. Thinking smart thoughts about smart things among smart people. Make no mistake, chasing a giddy baby around the house with a string-pulled tooty train (thank you so much Kelly!!!!) is where I'd rather be than anywhere else...but it's easy for discouragement to creep in. I know what I'm doing serves such a great purpose - just providing Levi with consistency and routine and security and comfort is exactly what he needs to grow and thrive. I know I'm sowing little seeds of purpose and Truth into his little heart.

But when he's cutting six teeth at once and has a runny nose and a raw bottom and is sobbing in his crib...I kinda want to join him.

The other day I went to a friend's house for tea with another friend. We've been planning this day for the past couple of months, just a chance to see each other since I never see them at work anymore. These friends aren't old enough to be my mom (well, technically they could be; they would have been teenagers, and that's not so unusual anymore, let me tell you), so I guess I'll say that they're like my big sisters. So we planned to have tea, and I have to leave them unnamed and the pictures to myself because one of them is quite interested in protecting her professional image (guffaw). Why, you ask? Because one of them (the professional one, mind you - I know you're reading this, friend) calls me like five minutes before I leave the house to pick her up to tell me I needed to come RIGHT NOW because she had an idea. So I throw Levi in his car seat and leave without even putting on my shoes. Upon my arrival at her house, my professional friend greets me at the door dressed in what I can only describe as a dress that once was a flamingo. She pulls me up the stairs, grabs my bewildered baby, and shows me MY dress: a sparkly blue number with a tiered ruffled black skirt. Had I been able to pull my hair in a side ponytail, I would've been a spittin' image of Deb from Napolean Dynamite. With hot pink knee-high tights (why did she have these in her drawer?). Alarmingly, the dress fit.

And that is how we showed up at tea. Not to be outdone, my other friend ran upstairs to put on a leopard-print dress over her running tights. We had a dance party to Toby Mac (my poor bewildered Levi clutched his stuffed giraffe) before dining on donuts, cookies, Cheetos...and, of course, tea.


Our lovely tea party spread

I would love to show you the picture I have of the three of us, but sure don't want to wreck our very, very professional image. ;) I'll just let you wonder exactly who it is that is so much fun.

But it's good to have big sisters like that.

I guess things aren't so mundane after all. :)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Mundane post #1

I know he's barely one year old, but he can totally level me.

It's been gray this week. Rainy. And we've been....icky sick. He's been cutting what I thought were four upper teeth, but upon closer inspection it almost looks more like maybe six. I think he's in a growth spurt. And he's trying to learn how to walk.

That's a lot for one 20lb person and a tired, stir-crazy mama.

This morning he came undone. He took a sad little one-hour nap and I barely had a chance to get in some quiet time and start something in the crock pot for the weekend (working! shuttle launch!). And I mean, barely start cutting the stuff up to put in the crock pot. He's been clingy this week, and not that I really blame him. So of course he was in no mood to play by himself while I put together a meal. I set him up in his high chair with a snack and his sippy. He took two bites and started to yell at me again. A little blond 20lb dictator. He spilled his milk down his shirt. The milk I struggle to produce anymore. Still yelling, spitting out his food. Oh my word. In my mind I'm yelling SHUUUUTTTT UPPPPP!!!!! But I sing hymns instead because that seems a little kinder. But I still feel like a louse because I really want to tell my poor baby to, well, shut up.

I really wanted to call my friend. She beat me to it. Her morning was even more award-winning (zero thanks to the GI bug we shared with her kid). Misery really does love company, because I admit my spirits lifted. She also reminded me that Levi's teething. Oh yeah. I hold him, the phone, and draw up some ibuprofen and squirt it in his mouth with one hand, and he happily receives it. Thirty minutes later he's a new kid.

Usually naps are fairly smooth around her, but not so much today. He sobbed - deep, gulping sobs - like I had locked him in a dungeon (with four pacifiers, his giraffe and three beanie babies) and thrown away the key. Thrice I pulled him out to comfort him and thrice I returned him, and thrice he came unglued.

What happened to my easy baby??? I know this is nothing compared to some people's normal day, but Levi is not this...this...clingy, fussy, or any other form of -y.

He slept thirty minutes and it all started again.

I fed him his bottle. He gulped it like it was going to grow legs and walk away.

And then, for the first time since he was about four months old, he turned to me and plopped his head on my chest and laid there, eyes wide open and quiet, for about fifteen minutes. I rocked my baby - no, my little boy, now - in the quiet of (another) gray day. Did you hear that? It was the world righting itself again. All he needed was something for pain, something in his tummy, and his mama to rock him for a few minutes.

Then he pulled himself up, looked me square in the face, grinned, and slid off my lap. And that was that.

He's been more himself than he has in the past week ever since. He chowed down three quarters of a banana (yes, on the heels of an enormo bottle) while I ate my (very late) lunch, and then we walked around the neighborhood and waved at cars.

And now he's back down for a nap. No fanfare, no drama, no to-do.

The stew's in the crock pot. The diapers are washed and folded. Levi's veggies are steamed.

The preparations are almost complete for takeoff.

I don't know what just happened, but apparently Levi feels better and that's all I care about. :)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Profound? Or profundly mundane?

I have no idea what I'm going to write. But I'm sitting alone in a busy coffee shop and it's way too cliche...I absolutely *need* to write something.

I don't blog very often in part because I feel like I should have something terribly profound to say. And lately...well...right now I can rattle off forward and backwards the order of the animals in "Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?" Unless you're in the learning-colors-and-animals set, substance is lacking. Anyway, I really enjoy reading the "mundane" things that other people write on their blogs. I just like knowing the little day-to-day things. So maybe you do too?

So I made the mildly catastrophic mistake of blinking, evidently. About two days ago I was holding a newborn and singing him Christmas carols late into the night. He's not walking yet but he just this evening started walking while holding onto one of our hands. Not both hands, but one hand. Side-by-side. I followed him and Matt on this new venture tonight while they were heading into his room to get ready for bath time. Daddy and little boy hand-in-hand, side-by-side.

A few months after he was born I was commonly asked what surprised me most about being a new mom. My first answer? Guilt. Not sleepless nights, not how much they cost, not how fast they grow. Guilt. How on earth is it that from the moment we see the two lines on the pregnancy test, we feel that we can be personally held responsible for just about everything that could potentially go wrong?

Second answer: judgment. I'm profoundly astounded at the judgment that moms pass on one another. I'm right in the throng with them, so let me be clear that no matter how hard I try to convince myself I'm not nearly as judgmental as the rest, I am. Perhaps moms have always been judgmental of how others' parenting styles are somehow inferior to their own, but with the buzzing and ongoing conversation of Facebook, Twitter, and blogs (mommy blogs, oh my), it seems a little more in-your-face than I imagine it was in previous years. People can now loudly state their opinion in the form of "shared" articles and posts about sleep methods, feeding, immunizations, discipline, and whatever else can possibly come up in the world of parenting. And I think, yikes man. Please don't tell anyone that our baby sleeps in his own crib, in his own room (heck, downstairs from our room), I've pumped for nearly a year now but only given him breastmilk in a bottle, sometimes we let him cry it out (within reason, I feel I should clarify), and he gets his shots. All of them. On a traditional schedule. We've never worn him or co-bedded with him, and I'm probably not the gentlest mom on the block. (I'm not here to dog those things, I'm just saying that's not what we choose to do.)

But we seek to be a student of his heart every day. And I beg God to fill in the spots where I lack. And to help us pour Truth into him.

Anyway, moving on. We were sick this week. For Levi, I tried to pass several things off as teething. When I started having the same symptoms, I was pretty certain I was not teething as well. Matt left on Tuesday morning with my assurance that Levi and I would lie as low as possible for the day, but he need not worry about us. Fast forward, oh, five minutes, and Levi's looking at me with mild alarm while I grip the counter with nausea (stop thinking what I know you're thinking, because that's unquestionably NOT what it was!). And then his banana made an encore appearance. Yeah no, this was not going to go well today. A couple of episodes later, Matt texted, "Are you sure you don't want me to come home?" He was in the parking garage in Grand Rapids. I caved. He came home. My hero!! Later, he said, "Man, it's scary when you get sick." I get it. The universe pretty much tips on its axis when Mama is sick.

But we're better now and the Gouveia universe is back in order - and it's well sanitized.

We had a birthday party for Levi a couple weeks ago (though his birthday isn't till next week). He slept through half of it. I'll post pics soon!!

Well, there's the semi-mundane for you!! I have now slurped the last few drops of my latte smoothie, pretending to blend in with the college students and not look too 30-something-married-mom-ish, but probably my hundred-year-old refurb laptop is the first dead giveaway. I'll try to be more consistent with blogging the profound AND the mundane. Because even mundane life is profound. Or profoundly mundane? Whatever the case may be, it's life and I should share it more. :)

Friday, September 30, 2011

Praying God's Word

I have a good and provoking post percolating in my head, but Levi's down for a good nap and I gotta boogie this morning with some stuff to get ready for the weekend (working this weekend! Prepare to launch the space shuttle!), so I don't have time to flesh it out right now. But I do want to pass some words along...

Several months ago I listened to a program that was discussing the power of praying God's Word over our families. I often find myself stuck on knowing what to pray specifically for Levi, Matt, or anyone else for that matter. When I say, "Do your will, Lord," what exactly do I mean by that? Fortunately, His will is plain to us in his Word, and praying scripture is as powerful as you can get!

This past year I've focused on praying for Levi's mind, and dug out some verses to pray specifically for him. I can type those out later if anyone's interested. This year I'm going to focus on praying for his heart and feet (I just learned in a study that I'm doing the strong connection between our hearts and feet! Where our hearts are, our feet will go there...).

If you're a parent, pray these for your children and spouse. If you're not, pray for yourself or choose a niece or nephew to cover in prayer. Or whomever. You get the gist.

So I'll pass these verses along, and feel free to print them out and add your own - but let me know what you add, because I'll want to add them too!!

Psalm 44:18 - Our heart has not turned back, nor have our steps departed from your way.
(If you've never prayed this way, I would pray, for example, "Father, I pray Levi's heart will always be turned to you, and that his steps will not depart from your way.")

Psalm 25:15 - My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net. ("...and that his eyes will ever be toward you. I pray his feet will be freed from the entanglement of sin." And so forth.)

Joshua 22:5 - Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that...the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.

Ezekiel 36:27 - And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Jeremiah 31:33b - I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Proverbs 4:23 - Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flows the springs of life.

Psalm 86:11 - Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.

Proverbs 23:15-17 - My son, if your heart is wise, my heart too will be glad. My inmost being will exult when your lips speak what is right. Let not your heart envy sinners, but continue in the fear of the Lord all the day.

Gotta boogie now!! Have a great Friday!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Guess who's 11 months!!!!!

Is it possible? Is it really possible? That our baby isn't really a baby anymore...he's becoming a toddler??

In case you've been wondering why I'm pretty short on pictures in the past couple of months, here's why: he doesn't stop moving long enough for me to take one. Most of what I take now is videos, and I can't get FB to upload them, which is too bad because they're pretty funny.

He cruises furniture but he doesn't walk yet...EXCEPT behind this little push-cart toy that our neighbor gave him as a hand-me-down. That is how we spend our day now - careening around the house and terrorizing poor Molly by plowing into her...repeatedly. He walks up and down the sidewalk, the driveway, around the block, you name it. I'm tempted to take him to the poor little Westshore Mall (read: always empty) and just let him go.

He eats like crazy. Still gets two big 9oz bottles a day but takes a sippy at meals with his array of veggies, beans, and chicken. He's been intensely interested in my water bottle with bite-valve straw, so I bought him his own water "bottle" with a straw. (If you know me and Matt, you know you'll almost never see us without a water bottle. Levi needs one too!!) He loves it. He cruises past it (see above paragraph), stops, backs up, plops on the floor and takes a swig, pulls himself back up and sprints on. I introduced whole milk at dinner for the first time this evening and he sucked it down. Organic local pastured cow. Good stuff, baby.


He's crazy for his daddy. He won't SAY "daddy" (we say, "Say da-da" and he looks at me and says, "ma-ma" - *heart melting*) and reaches for him as much as he reaches for me. I love that. They have their fun "boy time" in the evening playing while I clean up after dinner (ta-rust me, I treasure the time alone!), and Matt gives him his bath and bottle before he goes to bed. They have a special night-night wave they do at each other as I carry Levi off to bed.

I love that he's never had stranger-danger. Yet. He'll go to anyone. He might not SMILE about it, but he'll go with them. And play with them. He has a bestie: his buddy Josiah. Josiah's mom Mary watches him while I'm at work, and we trade off days so we can each have a bi-monthly day "off." My prayer is that Josiah and Levi will be like Jonathan and David in the Bible. Josiah's eight months older than Levi, but as Levi grows the gap between them is narrowing. When Levi spends the day with Josiah he nearly invariably hits a milestone within the next few days, he wants so badly to be like a big kid. :)

I could go on and on for days about why I'm crazy about him. His little happy dance in the morning when I go in his room singing the little "Good Morning" song I made up. How he loves his stuffed giraffe and stuffs it in his face because he's so happy to see it. How he pokes and prods at Molly. How he has zero fear of the vacuum cleaner. How he chortles when he laughs. How he pulls at my nose and cracks up. How he waves at every car and bicyclist when we're out on a walk.


Our baby. Our little boy. Our son. How Mama and Daddy love you. Happy 11 month birthday, Booboo.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

These things are always harder than they look...



I think in a world where we cherish ourselves far more than we cherish others, this might be a good challenge. I have no idea what it'll entail, but I'm sure that if you're single you can probably tweak it so you are loving and serving friends and family. Join me?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Grocery Store Gratitude

A trip to the grocery store totally busted up my groove today. It was not what I had in mind at all. I wanted a relaxing day at home where I'm bustling around getting ready for work this weekend (which feels somewhat akin to the launch of a space shuttle - diapers washed, laundry put away, food prepared for Daddy and Baby, stuff put away, backpack and lunches packed...).

And then I got totally derailed. My plan was to make an easy Gouveia-staple-standby. But I discovered I had about two grains of brown rice left (critical to said standby). I did a little mental temper tantrum. This was my last-resort dish. Now I *had* to go to Meijer. This was NOT what I had in mind. Now my whole day was messed up, I was going to get less done, be scrambling around, I really wanted to take Levi to the park...

Wait a sec. I quickly remembered the article I recently read about the famine in Africa where mothers are having to make the unthinkable decision to leave starving children sleeping under a tree - to die - because they have to keep moving toward where there is the hope of food. The book I just finished reading about human sex trafficking that discussed the number of families who feel they have no choice but to sell a daughter into prostitution to support the rest of the family.

These people would give anything to be me. To have the biggest problem in their day be that they have to go to this enormous box filled with food. To be kind of in a pouty mood because they have to clean a house when what they really want to do is read a magazine. They would give anything to have an 1100 square foot...mansion, to them.

I was suddenly humbled with gratitude. I get to go to the grocery store! I get to clean my house! Thank you, Lord! What a gracious and undeserved gift!

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Proverbs and a buggy-eyed Bible

I have this little kid's Bible for Levi. At first, I had the board-book version of it but was mildly annoyed at how watered-down it was. I know, he's a baby. But still. If only Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology came in a board book! I can see it flying off the shelves.

Anyway, so I got the next step up, the toddler-ish version of the baby Bible, and while all of the characters are buggy-eyed, bearded, doofy-looking men wearing dresses with ropes around he waist, it's an improvement. But the pages are regular pages, pages that will get torn and chewed and gummed, so the little Bible sits in a high place and wasn't getting read.

Aha!!! But there's one time that I can read to Levi from his buggy-eyed, doofy-dude Bible, and it's while he's eating. He has no choice while he's banging his sippy and shoving mango and banana chunks in his mouth but to listen to me!! And he can't reach out and rip the pages (although, is it just me, or do babies' arms grow about seven feet when they're sitting at the table???).

So every morning, he "listens" to me while I read a chapter out of Proverbs (the corresponding chapter with the day of the month that it is...so yesterday was Proverbs 7 because it was September 7th. I actually found myself explaining to him what an adulteress is...in very, VERY simple terms, mind you: "Levi, that is a woman who makes very, VERY unwise choices..." We'll leave it at that for now). And then we read a chapter from his little cartoony Bible. He really seems to like those pictures.

I know he's a baby. I know it'll be a long time before what I'm teaching him soaks into the bottom of his tender little heart. But I also know it'll be sooner than I even know. He picks up on more than I even know right now. I'm astounded that when I ask him, "Where's ______?" he immediately looks at what I'm talking about...and it's not exactly a word I say to him over and over and over again, trying to produce this result. He imitates sounds we make. My point isn't that my kid's a genius...he's a regular baby who is soaking the world in around him like a SPONGE - and that's my cue to be very, very intentional about what he's soaking in.

And what I am soaking in. What my mind marinates in, that's who I become. That's what I emulate for a world - and a small pair of bright blue eyes - that is watching. What I put in my ears and in front of my eyes are what goes in that...marinade, if you will. Lord, put apathy to death in my heart.

I want my son to know - and I want MY heart's resolve to be knowing - that wisdom is more important than being smart or successful or wealthy.

And now, O sons, listen to me: blessed are those who keep my ways...for whoever finds me finds life, and obtains favor from the Lord. (Proverbs 8: 32, 35)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Welcome, September

Good morning.

Is it a good morning for you?

Are you a mom who is terribly relieved to be sending your kids back to school? Or are you sobbing because your kids are going back to school? Or starting their first day of school? Are you a homeschooling mom who is like WHAT am I DOING? as you lead your little lambs? Is it another day as usual as you head back to work from a glorious, end-of-the-summer holiday weekend?

Do you love fall as much as I do? Do you just love the way the light bends a little bit differently through the trees, reassuring you that there are still some remnants of summer left (only a few!), but the colors will change and soon give way to....snow? Do you welcome September like you welcome a dear friend, with spicy baked-goodie-smelling candles, throw blankets, and dust off fthe crock pot?

I love fall. It's like one big sigh of relief.

It's also a reminder that there's work to do. School's back in session, routines are re-established. The sand is shaken out from between our toes and summer is packed away. I think even more than New Year's, this is the time of year that we decide, This is the way I want life to look for us this year....

How do you want life to look in your home this year? Whether you're single or married, kids or no kids, you've got some vision of the home you want to establish and the sphere of influence you want to have.

On the practical side of things, I have my projects...

-weed the front (seriously, if you've seen our front "landscaping," even the weeds are embarrassed to be a part of it) and make it look divinely welcoming with mums and pumpkins and an inviting fall wreath

-clean up the basement - I plan on implementing a 10-minute-dejunkify plan on a daily basis so it's not so daunting. When my surroundings are in order, I somehow feel better emotionally and spiritually

-paint and tastefully decorate our upstairs - if you've seen it, you know it needs it. If you haven't seen it, there's a strong and compelling reason for that.

Personally and spiritually, I have projects as well.

I want to grow in wisdom. Daily I pray for my son to become a man who will be a man of discernment, who can plainly see truth from a lie. Who will speak truth and encouragement. Well, if Levi's going to be such a man, he needs a mom who is seeking the Lord on the same things. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise....There is a lot of foolishness around us being marketed as great wisdom.

I want the fruit of kindness to be on my tongue. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. I've been camped on Ephesians 4 and 5 all summer and praying it continually. There's a lot of snark, complaining, bitterness, and rudeness in our world today. What more counter-cultural thing to do than to just control our tongues? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks...What comes pouring out of my mouth is evidence of what is in my heart. Lots to work on there.

I want to wisely use my time. I want to abolish laziness. And look well to the ways of my household. Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time...

Finally, I want to grow in security, knowing who I am in Christ. You know that Proverbs 31 lady? Yes, she's amazing. She's an amazing mom and wife, an amazing seamstress, and amazing business woman, makes amazing financial decisions, is in great shape, never sleeps...but my favorite part about her, the part I REALLY want to have? Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come. Strength and dignity. Who doesn't want to be a strong and dignified woman? Who is so sure of who God made her to be, is SO strong and dignified, she just looks at life and is like, *BRING it.*

So welcome, September!! We have a lot of work to do!

PS - I have a new favorite blog (link below). So favorite that I can't wait to fire up my computer in the morning and receive encouragement. If you scroll to the left hand side of it, there's an icon for a housekeeping schedule, and I'm using that as my basic template for keeping up with my house. You might like it too.

I've linked this post on Time-Warp-Wife for {Titus 2}SDays - sit down with a cup of coffee sometime today and have an encouraging read with other bloggers!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Eating an elephant

My basement is a flippin' disaster.

I can't remember the last time I washed or vacuumed out my car.

And I haven't blogged in a super-long time.

What do all of these have in common??

My basement, my car, and my mind are on overload. The basement is so loaded with...stuff...and I *need* a day without dog, baby, or the need to cook dinner to really storm it. But currently, the mess paralyzes me. I know you only eat an elephant one bite at a time, but have you SEEN my elephant? It has a lot of grizzle.

One of my friends calls her car a "purse on wheels." So true. Do you ever really clean out your purse? And if you do, does it stay that way? Mine neither.

And my mind? So full of things to think about and write about. The list is so long. So long that I'm paralyzed of my ability to just sit down for a few minutes and compose a post. My blog is my sanity. I love to write. I want to write about my favorite time of day: right now. Levi goes down for his morning nap (and after a few test-throws of his pacifier and stuffed giraffe, realizes it really is time to sleep), and I throw open the windows, steep my rooibos tea, and sit down with my Bible. Without this time I fall apart and am far less of the me I want to be for the entire day.

I want to write about the biggest thing about motherhood that surprises me: Guilt. And judgment. If you're a mom and you're reading this I really don't need to embellish on either word because I know you've already written your own post about it in your head.

I want to write about how I long for Jesus to come back. Right now. There are so many ways this world leaves me longing for my heavenly home. I heard an analogy during the Bible study I just completed this summer - the world we live in is just a shadow of the reality going on around us, completely unseen. Like a baby growing in his mother's womb, life just doesn't seem like it can get any better. Why would he want to leave this amazing place where all of his needs are met? But oh, little one, little do you even KNOW what awaits you on the other side!!

I want to write about marriage. I know I'm still a newlywed for all intents and purposes (but five years already in a month!!), but the longer I'm married, and the more my friends and I dig more deeply into what's really going on in our lives...well, there are few people reading this who would not relate to this statement: When we said for better or for worse, we had no idea that the better would be so much better than we imagined...and the worse, so much worse than we imagined. And that's the point of the covenant. I just started reading This Momentary Marriage by John Piper. I think it'll be a butt-kicker. I realize more and more every day it's just not about me. It's not about me. It's not about me.

I still want to write about the issue of pornography. That's a toughie, for obvious and not-so-obvious reasons.

I want to write about my dear Levi. How just typing his name brings tears to my eyes because I love him so much. And he's turning into a little boy, no longer my little baby. Oh, how I pray for his heart...his mind...his eyes, ears, hands, knees, and feet. We're already starting to wage our little mini-battles, and even in those little things I pray daily for the Lord to make me a student of my son's heart. What is the most loving way to discipline him and instill in him (yes, even now!!) that self-control and obedience are marks of how we love the Lord - and not in a legalistic and Phariseical way? Throwing a(nother) fistful of food on the floor while he looks me square in the eye is a laughably small battlefield. But a battlefield nonetheless. My friend and I were laughing on the phone last night about how in fifteen years we'll be saying to each other, "Remember when our biggest problem was throwing food?"

Thankfully, right now our biggest problem is throwing food...and the battle over the dog dishes has waned. Next week it'll be something else entirely.

Well, my down-time is winding down and I'm refreshed. Are you? And one teeny piece of my elephant has been eaten. The basement will have to wait.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Souls

I watched Soul Surfer with a friend yesterday. It made me bawl.

One particular scene cracked open a dam that I had been holding back for a little bit, allowing my brain to process only a few pieces at a time. Trying to figure out if what happened mattered to me a little bit, or a big bit. Sounds, bright lights, hushed urgency...knowing the outcome as soon as the scene started, but still playing my part. It's not something I haven't dealt with before more times than I can really count now. But still...we're souls, not machines.

But I try to function like a machine sometimes. Don't you? Keep-it-together-keep-it-together-keep-it-together. Move on to the next task, pack away the thoughts and emotions, someone else needs you now. You might not ever have to do what I've had to do on those days, but your variation on the theme is no less burdensome.

My Lord, my kind Savior, will chisel away the little bits one at a time, lending me His perspective, letting it leak out little cleansing drops at a time.

I tiptoed into Levi's room that night...like I always do, just to check on him before I go to bed. Rested my hands lightly on his back to feel his still, quiet, peaceful breathing. Exhaled for the millionth time my gratitude. Other moms were in their beds that night, pressing their own hands to their eyes and hearts because their child's breath is no longer. Or never was. Never before am I so aware of this. My hands - the very ones that so often have in vain attempted to course life back into a tiny body - were hovering over a living, breathing, sleeping soul. My flesh and blood.

He's over nine months old now. My Glory Baby would have been a year old a couple weeks ago. Two lives, one captured already in eternity, only knowing life before the Throne of Grace. The other heart mine to train up for eternity. Both are exactly where they need to be, and I'm so grateful.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Eight and a half months!

He makes me laugh so hard sometimes. I can hardly fathom where the time has gone. People are already starting to ask me when the next one is coming!!!! Um, I just barely unpacked my suitcase from bringing the first one home. It'll be a bit, folks!

He just started fully crawling this week. And trying to get up the stairs. Tackling the dog's food and water dishes. He has shout-offs with Daddy. Pulls himself up on furniture, window sills, whatever he can pull up on. He feeds himself sometimes (it's a messy enterprise, but I'm pretty impressed with how much he actually gets in his mouth). It's nice to just steam some food, mash it with a fork, put it in one of his suction cup bowls (thank you Kimber!!!! Best invention ever!!), and watch him gorge himself. If I do something, like bang a block on another toy, and hand it to him and say, "You do it!" he'll copy me. Just this morning he started putting his hands together in a sort of clap, but it also looked a whole lot like the sign for "more" that I've been trying to teach him. He was very enthusiastic about it, so like I said, no idea if it was attempting to clap or the sign, and I sure don't know what he wanted more of if it WAS the sign!! He understands "No-no" quite well...not that he doesn't go right back to whatever he was told not to do, but there are times when he'll go after the forbidden thing (read: dog dishes), get a firm "no-no, Levi Matthew," sit back and reconsider, and turn around and do something else instead. The first of many, many, manymanymanymanymany things to sow into this little person!!! He opens and shuts doors (using the door jam, if the door's not shut all the way), and will slam the fridge shut if I open it and he's nearby.

He makes me laugh so hard sometimes. Like when he's attacking his fuzzy picnic food.


Or when he just starts roaring at me like I totally understand what he has to say. Or when he fusses and fusses at nap time (because WHY on EARTH would anyone want to sleep when they can pull themselves UP?), and then just gives up and collapses over his own lap and uses his giraffe as a pillow.


Or when I play peek-a-boo with him from below his crib bumpers, and I see chubby little fingers peel back the bumper followed by a chubby little face peering over it, followed by his distinct little chortle/squeak of laughter.

I love him I love him I love him!!!!!

Yesterday we blew up his little kiddie pool. He felt like a very radical dude.


That's about all for now!!!!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Waiting for Euphoria

When Matt and I were first married, we wanted to punch people in the face who were like, "Sooooooo....how's married life? Are you loving the honeymoon phase??"

Okay, maybe "punch people in the face" is a bit strong, but I think you quickly can conclude that our first year of marriage was not the state of amazing bliss that everyone said it would be. It was GOOD but it was a lot of work. Sometimes more work than we bargained for at the time. It wasn't him, it wasn't me, it was both of us, and God was doing a lot of work in us and using our marriage to do it. He still is. Safe to say, though, it's gotten better every year. :) But what frustrated us was that after we revealed to people that yeah, we had arguments and rough times and stuff like that, they were like, "Oh yeah, our first year was probably one of our toughest too."

Well, why didn't you SAY SO in the first place? Can we please be real??

I've been to a lot of deliveries in the past however many years that I've dealt with the sub-ten-pound set (unless you're that woman in Texas who had the honker kid, oh my word). I know a lot of people cry and shout for joy when their baby is born.

I know I was really happy he was out, but I didn't cry, nor do I remember shouting for joy.

I was just like, Oh. Sweet.

I was very happy he was healthy and crying and normal. But I had always imagined I'd be sobbing with joy, ecstatic, etc etc. In some ways though, I felt like I was at work. Because in a way, I was. I just happened to be the one in the gown rather than in the scrubs, and my coworkers were weighing and wiping off and banding my baby.

My baby?

So this is an honest post about how I felt after having Levi. Because not everyone experiences the euphoria they think they're supposed to feel. Some plunge into a very dark depression. I didn't. Not at all. But there's, I think, a very common in-between mix of feelings that I guess I didn't really expect. One dear friend, right off the bat, seemed to read my mind and told me that how I felt was normal. And I think that just hearing that, the day after Levi was born, was all I needed to know. My spirit sighed with relief.

First, I have to admit that Matt and I really, really thought we were having a girl. Everyone seemed to think we were having a girl. So in my mind, I was totally geared up for having a girl. Save for the fact that every time I prayed for the baby, I automatically said he and him. So when Levi came out a Levi, I have to admit that I was a little disappointed. And it took probably a couple days to wrap my mind around the fact that I had a little boy and not a little girl.

I knew I loved him. I knew it. But I didn't feel ooey-gooey for him. I knew I wanted to take care of him and protect him and meet his needs, and I really enjoyed doing those things. But sometimes, yeah, I felt like I was going through the motions, or maybe it was just that I felt like I was at work.

Taking home a newborn is like taking home a grenade. Or a fat, bald, short little boss who is well-versed in negative feedback techniques and is more than happy to let you know that you just ripped a hole in the universe. I felt like we had a very ill-tempered guest with terrible manners and sleeping habits in the house - except he would never leave or give us a break.

I felt like I had sat on an atomic bomb and my legs and feet were so swollen they would have made a troll shudder.

And doesn't it just beat all that you barely sleep through your third trimester...either you have insomnia, an teaspoon-sized bladder, or raging heartburn - or all three! - and then you go through the most exhausting workout of your life to have this baby, and congratulations!!! You get to now enter the most exhausting time of your life. No break, no nap, just hit the ground running...well, after your epidural wears off anyway. Please don't hit the ground before that. It gives your nurse way more paperwork than she already has.

The first week home, I was horrified. Matt had taken the week off and helped. me. SO. MUCH. that the very hormone-filled thought of him going back to work in several days dissolved me to tears. I had no concept how I was going to do this alone. I could barely figure out how to make time to go to the bathroom, let alone pick up all the stuff I normally did around the house AND take care of this...this...negative-feedback grenade.

There were moments that were fun, but there were times that were very frustrating and discouraging. How on earth could you not want to sleep, little one?? Do you have any idea how much I covet sleep? It's hard to bond in a way with someone who doesn't look you in the eye, can't smile, and works you to the bone. I felt guilty about everything too. Was I holding him enough? Talking to him enough? Often I'd find myself staring off into space during his feedings, and then thinking OH MY WORD!!!!! I'm going to have a linguistically challenged kid because I'm not TALKING to him!!!! How is he going to MAKE it with ME as a mother?!

But eventually, you do make it. Ish. I'm still figuring out how to balance playing with Levi, with looking well to the ways of my household, with putting my relationship with God first and then my marriage, with keeping up with the laundry, with maintaining my friendships, with making it to Meijer at *just* the right time of his day. As soon as I get it all sort of figured out, he changes the routine up again and I'm back to square one. Sometimes I feel like such an idiot. The kind of mom and wife I want to be are so far removed from reality, I guess.

And falling in love with him was a gradual thing. I guess for me it was like getting to know anyone else. I knew in my heart he was my baby, my family, and I loved him. But I also knew he was his own person, one that God created uniquely, and I had to get to, well, become acquainted with him. He had gone from being this faceless stranger to an actual person with preferences and needs, and figuring him out was a roller coaster!

It took time to love being a mom and the identity shift that came along with it. I could no longer be the friend I wanted to be. My time was most certainly not my own. Matt and I couldn't just do whatever we wanted, we couldn't be spontaneous with our time, and we rarely had uninterrupted minutes alone to talk about...anything. I grieved that a little bit.

And poor Molly has been in an 8-month-long pout. But she's dealing okay. ;)

Anyway, anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that I am ca-RAZY about my little boy. I love him to absolute pieces and like I've said before, now I want a house FULL of little boys. I said to Matt the other day, "I wish I had known how fun Levi would be and how much we would love him, because it would've made going through labor that much easier." But those feelings took time to grow, and if you're going through that process right now, it's okay. There is a land between the total euphoria that many parents feel...and the lonely, desolate road of postpartum depression that some people have to walk. I suspect that many of us end up in that betweeny place. Don't beat yourself up over it if you miss the time you had with your husband alone, the life that you were able to live even just weeks ago, and sleep! Matt reminded me over and over again (and still does!) that this is just a phase. Eventually they do smile at you and the world feels right again. Eventually they do sleep through the night. Eventually you do break down and get a sitter and go to your favorite restaurant.

Eventually you do realize that you love them with that indescribable love, and it was worth the wait.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Heavy

My house smells like cookies. The sun is out. My baby is sleeping. My couch is full of clean and folded laundry (a rare sight, believe me...the dryer and clotheslines all serve as rudimentary dresser drawers at our house).

But my heart is so, so heavy. So full of burdens for people I dearly love who are in circumstances in which they never dreamed they'd find themselves. Marriages that are crumbling. Among other things, the men they love are in the throes of addiction and they are exchanging truth for a lie, reality for an idol. An idol that has eyes but does not see, ears but does not hear, a mouth that does not speak...and they are becoming like that idol. Numb. They worship something that is created, contrived, and false.

It is an idol that our society celebrates, accepts, and defends. Evidently it's "free speech." Consenting adults. Ha. We'd love to think that it's tied up in a neat package like that, but it ain't.

Think again. That which is free comes with a price, and the price of it is staggering. It is chipping away at our families, our relationships, our ability to see people as people, souls as souls.

I've been wanting to write about this for a long, long time. Fear of man has prevented me from doing it. It's part of the reason this blog sits dormant for weeks at a time. What I really want to pour out of my heart is dangerous. I'm afraid people will call me judgmental. A prude. A sensationalist. Not with-it. Over-the-edge.

Too bad. I've sat on my couch enough times now crying and praying with yet another friend whose dreams are threatening to be crushed by this entity. If it quacks like a duck, let's call it a duck.

Pornography is evil. Our culture is saturated and obsessed with sex. What God intended to be beautiful and in the context of a covenant relationship has been made a farce.

And I'm gonna write about it.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Proverbs 7 Prayer

My son, I pray you will keep God's word and commandments treasured within you

-keep His teachings as the apple of your eye-

-bind them on your fingers-

-write them on the tablet of your heart-

I pray you will call wisdom your sister...and insight an intimate friend.

...to keep you from what is forbidden -

-from the adultress

-from the pornography industry

-from our sex-saturated culture

Father I pray that Levi will not be simple, a young man lacking sense. There are so many, many things to numb his mind. Even when he's little. Keep me mindful of what goes into it. Show me how to teach him discretion. How to guard his heart.

I pray he will delight in Your Word...that he will be like a tree planted by streams of water...that he will set his mind on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

The culture will meet him. Dressed as a prostitute, wily, loud, brash. Help me be on my guard. To teach him to be on his guard.

It will try to seize him, entice him. Oh, it will be so easy. So easy.

A glance at a lingerie ad.
A commercial on TV.
An errant click of the mouse.

I pray he will not be persuaded or compelled. I pray he will be equipped to discern truth from a lie, lest he be as a bird rushing into a snare....not knowing that it will cost him his life...

........his career......
........his relationships........
.........his marriage.........


My son, I pray you will desire wisdom. Truth. That your passion will be for the God who created you, who is crazy about you, who sent His Son that you may have life and have it abundantly.

Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Simple isn't easy

I've been rolling a word around in my head since yesterday afternoon.

Simple.

I don't think I'm the only one who has it on my mind. There are talk shows, magazines, countless articles...all dedicated to this notion of simplicity.

It started after a conversation with my neighbor about desiring to simplify things in our lives.

It's a buzzword. A trend. A fad?? But it reflects a desire, I think, but is anyone really certain what that desire is for??

Does it mean...being more organized? Because my Real Simple magazine has all kinds of ideas for how to organize my stuff. And I really like their ideas. They're cute, kitchsy, "use this for that!" little ideas...but when I organize my stuff, I still step back and have a lot of.....stuff. And I don't feel very simplified at all.

Does it mean....being "green?" Because yeah, it does do us a world of good to "greenify," but in doing so, you actually can create more work for yourself (organic gardening, making your own cleaning products, whatever). That doesn't feel all that simple.

Does it mean....being less involved? Less busy? Because that requires me to step down, say no, back out, whatever it takes to scrape stuff off my plate. And yeah, sometimes that goes over like a fart in church, depending on who you have to tell 'no.'

So what is this, this simple life of which we speak?? I'm really posing the question, not in a provocative, buy-my-book-and-I'll-tell-you-the-answer kind of way, but I really want to know: what do we mean when we say we want to live more simply?

Seems to me that anything simple requires at least some degree of sacrifice, and are we people who are willing to make those sacrifices? To let go of what owns us, whether it's our *stuff* or our habits or our need to be busy and feel fulfilled? The more I think about it, the more (to me, at least) I realize that a great deal of purging needs to occur - in my home, in my heart, maybe even in some of my relationships. But there's stuff I want to hang on to. Things, memories, bad habits, patterns...well then, simplifying doesn't sound so chic when you put it that way. Never mind. And have you noticed, in order to be so fashionably simple, you have to buy a lot of expensive stuff to look the part???

And simple should never be equated with easy, yet I wonder how often it is. Ask any Amish person. They work like we don't even know how to spell work, yet their lives are so....unfettered, at least not by the things that burden us. There's so much STUFF that is supposed to simplify our lives but we're slaves to them. Cell phones and laptops and texting and all these weird little things that are supposed to make things quick and easy and carefree....but I don't feel free when I have them. I feel stuffed. Like at Thanksgiving and you've gone over the edge. Just stuffed, the kind of stuffed that really makes me want to reverse the process and get. it. out. so I don't feel so weighed DOWN.

Simple. Simple?

I think our world is starting to realize we've gone overboard on a whole lot of stuff and it's not doing us a whole lot of good. The simple solution is to close Pandora's Box but you'll find it's not so easy.

Ask the rich man who asked what he needed to do to inherit eternal life. Jesus' answer was simple: get rid of everything you have, give it to those who need it, and follow me. Watch the slump of the man's shoulders as he walks away. The price was too great to pay. He treasured his stuff more than he treasured his soul.

I treasure my ______ more than I treasure my soul. More than I treasure my Savior. It's not. Easy.

So if you're in a pondering mood, let your mind marinate in this. What is required of me, of you, of anyone, to simplify? To strip out the buzzy-buzzword-ness of it, and actually ask, what needs to go? What's mastering me? What habits, thought patterns, whatever need to be severed at the root and pulled OUT in order to bring true freedom, simplicity, and perhaps even ease??

It's more complicated than it sounds, isn't it?? ;)

Friday, June 17, 2011

I love to hate you

I love Facebook.

I hate Facebook!!

I love to hate Facebook.

Tell me that Facebook is not a love-hate relationship for you too. Seriously. It is the coolest and stupidest thing our culture has right now. It's like you can't help looking at all these mundane status updates, and at the same time I'd rather have a bear gnaw my face off because it's so...so... banal.

But rather than
get all huffy about it, I decided that this blog will be a list of pros and cons. It would fun to analyze every aspect of FB (because I really think it's such a fascinating and discouraging summation of our culture all at once) that I love and hate, but that would be time-consuming and ranty. So I'll just make a fun little list. Sometimes what's NOT said speaks volumes. Feel free to add what you would like to it.

Why I love Facebook
by Jenny Gouveia

I think Facebook is pretty neat for the following reasons...

1. Getting back in touch with people with whom you'd never otherwise be in touch.
2. Seeing pictures of other people's kids (though this can slide over to the 'con' list too if ya know what I mean)
3. Finding out someone's pregnant, when you wouldn't otherwise find out (see #1)
4. A quick way to find a babysitter, recommendation, tips and advice, etc.
5. Not having to memorize or otherwise cache everyone's email address
6. Networking
7. Families who live far from each other can kinda feel like they're a part of everyday life.

Well then. That was quite excellent.

And now for....

Why I Hate Facebook
by Jenny Gouveia

Facebook makes me want to chew broken glass for the following reasons...

1. Bragbooking.
2. Vaguebooking.
3. Lacking discretion (WTMI about....everything....)
4. Still lacking discretion (husbands, brothers, pastors, etc are friends with you too...think hard before you post your teeny bikini shots)
5. Bragbooking
6. Updates on the very, very mundane
7. The drama
8. Our new cultural definition of "friends"
9. Bragbooking
10. Toeing confidentiality lines
11. Posting song lyrics that make zero sense to anyone but you

Let me tell you, this isn't *nearly* as fun as saying exactly what I think about each thing. This is an exercise in restraint.

I think FB dismays me more than anything. It's a sad testimony to what our world is becoming. The saddest status update a couple of weeks ago (I won't even share what it was, it's just too sick and sad) confirmed it: we're zoning out on how to appropriately relate to people. You have 400, 600, 1200 "friends" but when one person drops off for good, it doesn't even flash a blip on your radar. We want the world to know we finished three loads of laundry before 8am and already have a roast in the oven for dinner, but are blunted at our ability to just have a good and honest and open and real conversation with each other. We walk around fashionably aloof with iPod buds in our ears, but are screaming for attention on social media. Please see me! Hear me! I'm cool and witty and important! Do you ever have days where you think in terms of potential status updates? I do. Ugh.

Now's the part where I'm supposed to declare a Facebook fast or I'm closing my account. But I'm not. Facebook (Twitter, blogs, all of it) is a part of world that we need to learn to live with. It's something that can become just as tempting of an addiction as anything else that's addictive, and I continually have to practice taming the desires of the flesh and bring them under Christ's authority. And there are some really fun people whose status updates never fail to make my day. Whose kids' pictures I gobble up. That I want to keep track of because FB is a good finger on the pulse of their life at the moment and I want to know they're not spinning out of control. I want to know when my friend in California has her baby, want to see wedding pictures, scroll thru vacation pictures and laugh about how much someone's kids look JUST like they did in high school. I like the connection, don't get me wrong. But anything can be sooooo good one second and soooooo volatile the next. A "quick" check can become an abysmal waste of half a day.

There are households to manage, relationships to tend, and hedges of protection that have to be guarded. Facebook can make a fool of anyone.

So my love/hate relationship will continue, and I'm sure this isn't the last time I'll talk about it. And I feel stupid now because I'll link this blog post on FB!! but again, that's a whole lot easier than someone trying to remember what the web address is. *sigh*

I want to be a part of the culture...but I don't want it to be a part of me. Does that make sense? I want to influence but not be wholly influenced. In the world but not of it. Such a fine line to walk.

Is FB a struggle for you? Am I the only one who wants to throw my computer at the same time I want to look at it???

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

*Crickets*

Why the silence???

I know, I haven't blogged in over a month and that's just disastrous. I love to blog. And it just hasn't happened.

Because for one thing, the weather warms up and things get busy. A lame excuse, but it's not really an excuse...it's just the truth.

But even bigger than that, blogging is a little bit of a tightrope for me. You see, there are a lot of blogs out there: "mommy" blogs, sarcastic and snarky blogs, boring and uneventful blogs, opinionated blogs...and, I'm just like, I dunno...I don't want to have a blog that's overly mommy. (BTW - there are some great mommy blogs out there, I'm not knocking them!) I could have a heyday being sarcastic and snarky, but I really try to avoid that (sometimes I let it slip out for laughs, but I do try to avoid it and err on the uplifting side instead). I try to tone down on being overly opinionated or soap-boxy. Sometimes I'd love to share something I'm fired up about spiritually but I don't want to be...what's the right word...ummm...like this blog is a flannel board and my little flannel Jesus is stuck there just nice and so and I'm all perfect. Does that make any sense?? Sometimes I don't want to write something that might be misinterpreted or offend someone, even though that is never my intention. Never, ever do I wish to use this blog as a passive-aggressive outlet to try to drive out a message to someone I have in mind, hoping that they'll see it and get the point.

I don't want to come across as attention-seeking. Lord knows I'm not a fan of that.

So sometimes I just choose to keep my keyboard mouth shut. Some of it is insecurity (does anyone really care what I have to say anyway?). Some of it IS good old fear of man (I don't want to offend anyone...). Much of it is that I DO have a busy baby in the house. :) And sometimes there's something I'm struggling with and either it's not something I want to share with many people at the moment, or sadly enough, if I do share it, then I actually have to uphold my end of it and be accountable to, um, everyone.

****************************************************************

Anyway...I do have things tumbling around in my head that I'd really like to write about...because really, this blog is my journal. It's what's going on in my life, my heart. And at the end of the day, no one has to read it. I choose to make it a public forum rather than password protect it, because who knows who might need to read what God has put on my heart to say, even one time. He works in mysterious ways, even in the blogosphere.

Some of the things on my mind lately:

Mommy guilt...
Pornography....
Modesty........
Being counter-cultural....
Marriage.....
Facebook.........
Being real......
Being frugal!!!........
My identity.......

.....and at some point (hopefully soon!) I'll process all of the above (and many more!) enough to put pen to paper. So don't give up!!! I shall write more soon. So stay tuned.

BTW - this is totally unrelated to anything having to do with...anything, really, but it made me laugh:

Picture me, sitting on the kitchen floor eating a bowl of popcorn, with this audience:

To my left


And to my right


Seriously, the look on Levi's face!!!! hahahahahaha!!!!