Thursday, February 08, 2018

Night Musings

Preface: We have worked really hard on sleep training and getting Asher to sleep in a toddler bed all night.  It has been generally successful.  He is given to rising at around 6, so we made it a rule (for ourselves) that he could come in our bed at 6 and doze or lay with us since Ben gets up shortly after that anyway.  Any time before that and he had to go back to bed.

 Story: It was 4 am.  Asher had been up six times in three hours.  He obviously wasn't tired or falling back asleep.  He kept creeping into our room saying, "It's morning mommy!"  When I would explain that it isn't morning, and he had to go back into his bed, he would say, "But I don't like to go back to bed.  I don't like laying down.  I don't like sleeping."  

That is his latest thing, you know... "I don't like_____."  He uses it when he doesn't want something or doesn't want to do something.  He often uses it for absurd things that he very obviously likes, but when he is feeling inconvenienced by them ("I don't like mac n cheese" or "I don't like Thomas underwear.")  

Back to my night musings. I had tried all my "tricks."  I had told him that he would get a consequence if he got out again.  I followed through on the consequence when he did.  I reasoned through why he should be sleeping when everyone else in the house was sleeping and it was so dark.  I made my voice firm.  I ignored him.  Ben put him back twice and that didn't even help.  He was bound and determined to be awake.  Finally around 3 am, I got so tired of this routine. Ben and I had a semi-conscious conversation about what to do next.  I finally realized that the only way he was going back to sleep is if we brought him in bed with us or if I rocked him.  

So I rocked him. (Because forbid I break our "not before 6 am rule). And I did it with such mixed feelings. 

 I was berating myself, "There you go, all the work you put in out the window.  Now he will expect to be rocked every night.  And all because you wanted sleep."  

I was feeling guilty, "You push this middle-of-the-night training too much and your kid will grow up to resent you, feel distant and wonder if you even love him.  You are ruining him with this sleeping in his own bed business.  Maybe just co-sleep and rock and basically give him all and everything so that he knows how loved he is."  

I was melting, "How sweet to be here, rocking your big toddler boy, watching him drift off to sleep.  It's been so long since you've gotten to do this, and soon he won't be the only boy around.  Don't even think about the "what-ifs." In this moment, just Soak. It. Up."  

It took a grand total of 10 minutes, and he was out.  I rocked him gently a little while longer and then transferred him to his bed, all without a hitch.  He slept soundly til morning.  

I, of course, laid in bed for another hour or so, unable to sleep and mulling over the whole incident.  I should have definitely just rocked him sooner.  But I was so scared he would regress.  I was determined to make sure that my kid slept independently and didn't require me to help put him back to sleep.  HE IS TWO, for crying out loud.  Why am I so set on this?  I thought about how things will change when the baby comes.  He will probably naturally regress and we will have to deal with it.  He will crave the rocking and snuggling when he sees Baby Brother getting all the middle-of-the-night (and daytime) energy.  And I don't know how to balance those moments with continued expectations of sleeping through the night.   I don't know how to have standards and be lenient at the right times.  How to pour out love on this sweet boy but discipline and guide.  Obviously this extends beyond bed time.  

This intentional parenting thing is hard work.  The thinking is draining, the carrying out is nerve-wracking, the guilt of a split-second choice going wrong is crippling.  And yet despite the amount of times I feel like I'm totally blowing it, this sweet boy still comes and lays on my lap, trying to touch as much of me as he can (as he is doing right now), he begs butterfly kisses, he follows me around all day asking what I'm doing, and he asks for snuggles.  It is so hard, but I also love it so so much.  I love him so much.  And he is so worth all this angst and middle-of-the-night insomnia.  He deserves intentional parenting and all the love I can pour on him, whenever I can pour it.  

Thank Jesus for grace and redemption of the brokenness I'm bringing to this parenting gig.  

Quick pregnancy updates: 
- I am 37 weeks...which is no longer considered "high risk" and technically baby can come any time. ( it is also the earliest the birth center will let me give birth there instead of having to go to the hospital). 
- Baby has definitely dropped and I feel like a lumbering ox.  Mainly because whenever I try to do anything I feel about as flexible as an ox.  And they lumber.  
- Sleeping has gotten difficult.  My hips and lower back hurt whenever I get out of the bathroom any of the 2847 times a night.  
-I have Braxton-Hicks (practice) contractions relatively frequently, but no sign of the real thing yet.  
-Baby must be feeling squished because he has been stretching his legs into my rib cage and lungs and it is quite the feeling.  
-I seriously cannot eat very much at all without feeling totally gross and sick afterward.  
-I am stuck in the no-mans-land of really wanting to nest and finish projects and having ZERO energy and actual motivation to get them done.  I also have this thing that once I do find the energy and start, I just keep going, and it ends up taking a really big toll on my body and I'm basically out of commission the rest of the day. Bleh.  

Soon and very soon. All this will be done.  


The following are all the sweet moments that Asher comes in bed after 6 am and snuggles back in to sleep next to me after Ben goes to work.  I really do cherish and love these moments. And he is so darn cute! 

We got a big snow...and it was beautiful and is still piled up out there, so that is fun! Winter cold is so much better when there is white all around instead of grays and browns. 

Playing in said snow!

These were our happy smiles at making it to Ikea, through a shopping trip and all the way home with DRY UNDERWEAR!  Potty training is going much better now that I just dove in and tried it.  Leaving the house was the most nerve-wracking for me, but he has done surprisingly well, as long as we go places with bathrooms easily accessible! 

Open play day at a gymnastics club.  He loved all the bouncing! 

Had a girls weekend with some of my friends and we did the very Minnesotan thing and went hot tubbing in the snow.  Cecilia (second from the left) is from Kenya and is experiencing all kinds of new things since she has been here...including this first-time adventure!  

Our latest before-baby project was to put a dishwasher in our tiny kitchen.  My handy husband (and his dedicated father) worked out all the details and measurements.  There is literally just enough room for the sink and dishwasher.  Like down to fractions of inches.  

And there it is!  We are still waiting on our countertop, but the whole thing is hooked up, doesn't leak and runs wonderfully!  We have been using it a few days now and it has made such a difference in how tidy our kitchen stays.  And since we have minimal amounts of counter space in general, every bit of tidy helps!  

This little guy loved the up-close view of Daddy working with all the tools!

Bump shot this week!

One of my jobs includes driving some girls to their sports practice at the sports dome.  Usually we sit in the lobby and try to stay entertained while we wait, but today we went inside to watch.  This really sweet girl who was practicing softball with her friends and asked Asher if he wanted to help pass her balls. He was so enthralled and loved being able to help.  It was so cute.  

Anyway, that is the end of the very long post.  
If you made it this far...warm fuzzies and hugs to you! 

au revoir. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Tis the Season!

The weeks have flown by around here.  It is already 9 days into December and I can hardly believe it.  My days have actually been quite busy, all things considered.  I have a patchwork of miscellaneous jobs that I have acquired that are pretty fluid.  My once predictable weeks have become a bit more unpredictable and therefore lively =)

Job #1:  Raising a 2-year-old and growing a baby.  I know, I know...I don't get paid for it, but it sure does take a lot of time and energy, so I count it.  Because I can.

Job#2:  Editing papers for a Social Work graduate student that I used to work with in California.  Sometimes I get one paper at a time, sometimes 3.  She also passed my info on to a few other people and I have had the opportunity to help edit their work as well.  It is something I can do fairly quickly and during Asher's nap time.  I also enjoy the topic and have always enjoyed editing writing.

Job #3:  I drive two girls from their school to their soccer practice.  It used to be two afternoons, then it turned to one.  Now it is three.  The timing is perfect, as I don't leave until 3:30, which is generally after Asher's nap.  I think I've only woken him once or twice.  And then I'm done before 6, which is pretty good timing for dinner prep.  Asher loves the girls (who are 9 and 13) and they love him!  It is an easy job that makes pretty good money and requires minimal energy and effort on my part.

Job #4:  I have watched my friend's 6-month-old daughter once a week as needed.  It was a little rough at first as we figured out schedules, and she got used to us and our environment.  But we have a pretty good rhythm down.  It is good practice for Asher to be around a baby, and it is good practice for me to learn how to juggle two of them ;)  I'll admit I had a meltdown the first time I did it because nothing was going right and I was convinced that I could never again handle two children ever in my whole life.  I'm better now.

Job #5:  Thursday mornings I do childcare at a church for a Community Bible Study (CBS) in my area.  It is usually me and a helper with 7-8 kids, 1.5-2 years old.  I enjoy it because I can bring Asher with me and he gets to socialize.  Sometimes I wish I was actually attending the Bible study, but it is a pleasant environment and I'm glad that I can help with the kiddos so the mom's get some good time working on their study.

Overall I enjoy having my time filled, although some weeks can get a little crazy.  As I progress in my pregnancy, I definitely notice the toll it takes on my body and energy level.  So I try to take advantage of downtime to rest my body as well.

Side note:  I have been doing an online exercise program recommended to me by my midwife.  It is for pre-pregnancy, pregnancy and postpartum.  I am using it specifically to strengthen my core and my pelvic floor to assist in labor/birth and recovery, but I've learned so much more and get to do so many more things with it.  It is so helpful and easy to fit into my day.  Along with the exercise videos (about 30 minutes each), they provide tip videos regarding alignment, posture, breathing etc... They follow your pregnancy and create a plan that helps during specific times in pregnancy.  It is called One Strong Mama, and I highly recommend it!  It is about $200, but once you purchase it, it is yours to keep and use any time.  My other option was to go see a specialized physical therapist.  It would get to be equally (if not more) expensive and they would focus on one specific area, not a holistic approach to my whole body, so I found this to be a more conducive option for me.  (Not being paid to advertise that...just FYI)

On to Asher's life.  He has been saying the craziest things lately and I find myself chuckling at him.  Thought I'd share a few here.

*He is running his little shopping cart around the house and crashing into furniture and yelling CRASH!*
Me:  Asher, no more crashing the cart please.
Asher: Okay!  *runs the cart, barely slows it before hitting the furniture, and yells BAM!"
Me:  Asher, I said no more crashing.
Asher:  I'm not crashing.  I'm doing BAM!

He was asking for bites of my toast.
A: More bread please!
M:  Sorry buddy, it's all gone
A: *pause*  Can I see it?
M: See what?
A:  See bread all gone
(He got smart and asks for proof so he doesn't miss out...)

He loves starting conversations.  His favorites so far:
"How's your day/morning?"
"How was your trip?" (even if you haven't taken a trip)
"How's your friends doing?"
"Hey MOMMY!  MOMMY!!  WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?"  (all. day. long.)

He has to ask what every song is called.  Every song.  And then he attempts to repeat it.

Consistent vocab quirks:
Oatmobile (Oatmeal)
Adding "es" on the end of any already pluralized word to make it truly plural, in case you missed it the first time.  (i.e. cars-es, tractors-es)

If you mention his baby brother, he starts right in on convincing you it is a baby sister.  He is adamant for some reason.  I also had a dream last night that the baby was born and we were shocked to find it was a girl.  I mean the ultrasound was pretty clear...but hey, stranger things have happened.

On that note, we CANNOT settle on a name.  Not because we don't agree, but because nothing is grabbing us.  And we have perused hundreds of names.  We have considered the most bizarre options.  We have a few boundaries we are trying to stay within (no top-30-ish names-which is funny since Asher is like top 10 now-,name meaning matters, would prefer it doesn't end in -er/ar like Asher, generally avoiding D names so it doesn't sound too rhymey with Dill, and also names that have "l" sounds at the end that cause a bit of a tongue twister with Dill-like Gabriel).  Maybe we are too picky.  But there HAS to be a name out there that fits those parameters.  We have a few options that have gotten the response, "I mean, yeah that's doable" from both Ben and I.  So we are still mulling.  And taking suggestions.

On to a few pictures, then I'll be done.

This was from the fall.  We went to Kansas for a wedding and stayed with friends who had some pretty cool stuff on their farm! 

This was the moment right after we found out we were having another boy!  Asher didn't know what to do with all the exclaiming and excitement!  He was fascinated by the blue dust that came out of the balloon we popped!  Poor kid kept saying, "Baby sister! A pink one!"  And we had to remind him that we just got a blue one and it was a baby brother...

First snow!  Oh the glee!

Love these boys and their love for winter and snow!

Kind of a creepy shot of baby's face. 

Potty training and painting.  

Excuse the messy post-dinner table.  We got this fantastic book called "Home" from our friend Daveana.  Asher LOVES it and requested it so many times in a row he had it pretty much memorized.  This is him "reading" it to me. 

20-something weeks.  They all blur.  

28 weeks. 
Because you definitely need two bump pics in a row.  

Took Ben out to a Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra concert for his birthday!  We had a delicious dinner at a fun place downtown and enjoyed the music together!  It has been a while since a date night of this caliber, and it was fun.  Sitting through a concert wasn't super comfortable for me, but hey, comes with the territory of baby growing, I suppose.  

29 weeks! 
Hey, at least I split up this one from the other two.  =)  
I love bump pics and feel like many moms-to-be just don't post many.  So I'm over-posting so you get as many as you wish to look at! 

That's all for now! 
back to online christmas shopping and getting my christmas cards mailed!
au revoir! 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

The Good Guys

There is a new trend online that features the hashtag #metoo.  It is an opportunity for women who have been victimized by sexual assault or harassment to share that they have had these experiences.  The effort is being made to show just how big the problem of sexual assault and harassment is.  
And I agree, it is a big one.  

I did not share this hashtag or post for several reasons.  However, I did reflect on my experiences in my life that could qualify as being the victim of assault or harassment.  Just note that the following thoughts are my thoughts.  They are my experiences and feelings, and not intended to invalidate or dictate what others are feeling or should feel.  

Technically I have been harassed. 

 Looked up and down at by grown  men when I was a teenager.  Feeling their stares "undressing" me.  
I was asked on a date in high school, only to be told he would only go out with me if I put out (I slapped him...)
I was touched inappropriately by a man when I was a very young girl, but apparently reported it to my mom post haste (my memories and the account I've heard from her blur, and it apparently didn't cause too much lasting damage).  
I was grabbed from behind by a coworker in the restaurant I worked in, during our shift. He linked his arms around my chest and pinned my arms down by my sides "as a joke" until I elbowed him in the stomach.  
One of my managers told me I would look less like a prude and more sexy if I wore a shorter, tighter uniform skirt (he was later fired for similar comments to me and other females). 
I was told by a coworker that my off-shift clothes were too modest and I had a great body and should wear lower cut shirts and tighter pants to show it off.  
I reported my boss for making jokes and comments that made me and other female employees uncomfortable and ended up not getting the promotion I had been training for.  

All of these are examples of harassment.  However, I don't feel like a victim here.  These times made me feel gross or weirded out, annoyed/frustrated and even a little frightened.  But I guess I viewed those men as the abnormal creeps, not how most/all men are.  I looked at it as their problem and not a reflection of who I am at all.  It doesn't excuse them by any means.  But they really didn't deserve any more of my brain space or emotional energy than what I chose to give them, which was minimal.  And several got real-life consequences for their actions/choices, which I am in full support of. 

However, I refuse to allow my experience with a few dictate how I view the many.  I have way more good men of integrity in my life than the gross creepers.   My dad, brothers, uncles, cousins, friends, classmates, coworkers...the majority have been really good guys.  
And I am married to one of the best 😉
They are out there fighting to stand strong amidst the muck that swirls around them.
 I know this isn't everyone's reality, and I don't take it for granted.  However, even if someone else's husband or dad or uncles or brothers or coworkers aren't quality, someone else's are.  And they are men who don't deserved to be lumped in with the disgusting and abusive ones, no matter what your experience has been.

**Now I want to note that in the above-mentioned examples, four of those situations involved me telling the person to stop because it made me uncomfortable, and they did.  In two cases there was an apology.  In the other two, they may have thought I was being too uptight and prudish, but they respected it and stopped the comments.  And honestly, I give them credit for that.  Because even if you never learned to not make stupid and gross comments/jokes, it is a good/learned skill to be able to stop when someone asks you to.**

I am going to share with you some experiences that are a little vulnerable for me.  Some of you may know about these times in my life...many of you do not.  I will preface with the fact that God's grace has been more than abundant and these experiences have shaped me and grown me in so many amazing ways...even though the journey was rough and painful at times.   
*Names changed*

1. Carter:  We were friends in college.  We were in choir together and hung out on campus, I taught him some piano lessons.  We went to lunch quite a bit, hung out in the parking garage after class by our cars.  Sometimes at night, sometimes during the day. Sometimes in public, sometimes alone.  We kinda liked each other.  We hugged, flirted, held hands a few times.  I didn't really know him that well at first.  But I'm trusting (naive?) and relatively discerning (I'd like to think...).  He didn't have the same standards of purity that I had for myself.  Whenever it seemed like he wanted to take our relationship further, I put on the brakes.  I didn't want a boyfriend, technically and I didn't want to cross certain physical lines.  I took for granted that he would respect it.  But he did. Every time.  He is one of the good guys.  

2. Joe: We worked together in California.  Weren't really friends at first, but had a few good conversations during our shift, texted back and forth, and ended up hanging out in the parking lot after work most nights.  We would talk, go to the beach, walk, hug, flirt and we liked each other.  Honestly, I was feeling compromised.  He would have been a great boyfriend, and people at work teased us all the time.  But he didn't have the same values and beliefs I did and I knew it couldn't go anywhere.  But I kind of really led him on. We spent time around people and alone.  He pursued me for relationship and I didn't do a very good job of shutting it down because I liked him too.  And yet he respected all my boundaries.  He never pushed me to do anything.  He never took advantage of those times alone.  He is one of the good guys.  

3. David:  He was a manager of mine in California.  He was fun, kind of the bad boy type.  He had a motorcycle and invited me for a ride.  I was young and impulsive and went with him.  He took me out for lunch and we rode around the city.  He took me back to his house to watch a movie.  However, even when it was late at night and we were alone in his house sitting on his couch, (and he obviously was a player and gave plenty of indication that he would have no problem hooking up), he never made a move and took me home when I asked him to.   Turns out he also dealt drugs on the side so his life choices were questionable.  But still, he was one of the good guys.  

4. Ivan:  Worked with him in Minnesota.    I was new, he said he would show me around the cities. He asked to hang out after work.  I told him he could take me to coffee.  Later he admitted he had never taken a girl to get coffee, usually he went to bars or clubs.  He said it was refreshing to just chat and have coffee.  He would give me rides home from work and even hung out in my loft with me one evening.  He took me to get the yummiest tacos I had had in MN.  He made a dumb life choice and got a DUI, so his personal life choices were questionable.  But he never made a move or made me feel uncomfortable and he respected my boundaries.  He is one of the good guys.  

5.  Jared:  We were coworkers in Minnesota.  He used to walk me home from work on numerous occasions.  And we had lots of good talks.  Yes, he had a girlfriend, and yes he lived a block from me so I thought he was trustworthy.  And it wasn't about "liking" each other.  We truly were just friends.  But he got me safely home many nights after midnight, past dark alleys, down deserted streets and to my door.  He never once took advantage of that situation, when he easily could have.  He is one of the good guys.  

I share with you these scenarios because there are good guys out there.  Some of them weren't "good" overall and really made terrible personal life choices.  None had faith of any kind guiding or shaping their morals.  All of them had opportunity and most expressed desire to have more physical contact than a hug.  But none of them crossed any lines.  If I was bordering on feeling uncomfortable they all stepped away and respected what I asked of them.  They never got angry or guilted me or blamed me for leading them on (which I totally did in most cases).  They never took what I'm sure they may have wanted.  

I made some unwise choices at those times.  I put myself in potentially dangerous or just dumb situations. I obviously didn't learn my lesson and I was selfish because I wanted attention and affirmation from them.  Again, all credit goes to God for his grace poured over me that kept me from worse outcomes other than some heartbreak on a few occasions. 

I wanted to give these guys a shout out because they are being forgotten while many men are being outed as scum.  And they don't deserve it.  They deserve to be called out for the good choices they made.  I admit I don't know about all their interactions with all the women in their lives.  But I am speaking from my experience with them.  And I am forever grateful to them for having integrity with me.  

This isn't to invalidate the #metoo movement.  Breaking the stigma of shame and guilt is important.  Darkness is always chased away by light.  
But I think there is more to it. 

I don't think the problem will be solved by telling all men that they are disgusting pigs who need to treat all the beautiful women with more respect.  Women should be able to live life with their guard down, without needing to take precautions etc... But that isn't reality.  And it is a sin problem that began back in the Garden of Eden.  The cycle gets broken when secrets and sin are exposed.  When women speak out and are given safe places to do it.  But I also think that when the good men are validated, when the boys are raised with expectations and guidance...we will see a difference.  The bad ones should get what they deserve, especially legally when applicable.  But they shouldn't get the emotional energy of those they have hurt.  They don't deserve it.  That energy and passion should go toward building up the good ones.  Acknowledging them.  Encouraging them.  Supporting them in raising good sons.   

All this to say, I don't believe that men are the problem.  Broken humans are the problem.  Men and women.  Combinations of certain people at certain places with certain conditions and have an encounter that forever alters someone's life (man or woman).  There are motivations of revenge and anger and mental illness that are serious.  There is immaturity, lack of solid examples, lack of discipline and teaching.  There are so many factors that play a role. And there is no clear-cut social justice answer to solve the problem.  The only way to truly solve it is Jesus and his redemptive work in the life of men and women.

I'm excited about raising a son (and potentially more sons).  I'm excited that he has a dad, grandpas, uncles, cousins and friends who are good examples of what it means to be a man of integrity.  I am excited for the opportunities he has to be one of the good ones.  He can learn by the examples of men around him.  He can be tempered and led by the Spirit.  He can treat women with respect and love.  I won't teach him that men are pigs who must be tamed.  I will teach him that he is a man who is capable of so much goodness with the help of Jesus.  That selflessness and love, respect and loyalty, integrity and character are attainable attributes.   Self-control is a fruit of a Spirit-filled life and he can have access to that.  I will teach him that no matter what temptations surround him, what choices other people are making, he is responsible for his mind, his body and his actions, and it isn't impossible. The message I give him will be one of hope and potential, not one of dismal defeat and hopelessness.

And I will teach my potential daughters that there are good men.  Men she can trust.  Men who have proven themselves.  Men who love with the love of Jesus.  Men who give appropriate touches and signs of affection.  Men who will listen when she tells them what they said or did made her uncomfortable.  I will also tell her there are men who don't make good choices.  Men who have chosen selfishness and are driven by anger and brokenness.  I will tell her that part of living in a fallen world with these broken men (and women) means making wise choices about what we wear, where we spend our time, how we interact with people, and how we treat our bodies.  We can't control other people's choices, but we can control ours.  Our wise choices may not stop unwanted behavior or actions or words all the time.  But unfortunately that is life.  I will encourage her to be open and share what she is feeling.  I will advocate for her, validate her and remind her what and Who defines her.  She will learn that being a victim is not her identity, and the yuckiness of life does not define her or need to break her.  

I am excited--and terrified--to raise kids today.  I am grateful for the hope that Christ offers.  I am overwhelmed by the grace of God in my own life in the past as well as the present.  I am re-invigorated to openly show and express my appreciation for the good guys out there, starting with those closest to me like my husband, dad, brothers etc... They need support and encouragement. 
Will you join me?


Monday, October 16, 2017

October. Already.

  Seriously, this summer passed so quickly.  Doesn't help that for the first several months I wasn't feeling the best.  All my great plans for getting out and doing things just didn't come to pass the way I had hoped.  

Oh well. 

I'm going to do a little recap of the end of summer...because there are some fun pictures and updates to share.  First, I'll start with pregnancy updates:

I am almost 21 weeks along.  Can't believe we are over the hump of halfway!  Again with the flying time.  I am feeling pretty good for the most part.  Over the weekend I picked up Asher and used my back, not my legs.  Still recovering from that one.  He is just too heavy for me to pick up any more and so I am working on being patient with all the sloooooowwww walking and stair climbing.  

My belly is now undeniably pregnant.  I forget it's there sometimes and end up ramming into things or realizing I can't slip between things the way I used to.  Lots of squatting, no more bending.  And no sucking in this bad boy.  

Now see, I said "bad boy" there, but don't get too excited.  Gender has not yet been confirmed.  Although we do find out THURSDAY!  Well, technically on Sunday, because our dear friend is throwing us a gender reveal party.  We opted to be surprised at the party along with our guests...which has me both parts excited and sooooo impatient!  We were supposed to find out a week ago, but the doctor had to cancel due to a scheduling conflict.  

There are noticeable kicks and last night Ben and I could actually see the little bumps appear on the surface of my belly!  Feeling and watching a baby move in my belly is quite possibly one of my most favorite things about this process.  I am once again in awe of the creation of life.  

Asher turned the grand ol' two last week.  And my goodness are we experiencing both the terrific and terrible sides of this glorious age!  I love this kid to death, but the delightful combination of molar-teething, expanding independence and fierce determination are quite the combination.  I am trying to live in the balance of realistically sharing the facts of this stage while not complaining.  He is a challenge at times.  He has perfected the toddler whine.  He says my name countless times in the most pathetic voice until I feel like telling him I don't know who this "Mommy" is he speaks of.  I let the kid watch a few minutes of a YouTube video about trucks and he pesters me to "watch a show on my phone, Mommy!"  All. The. Time.  That stuff about the addictive nature of screens is no joke.  

And yet...he is incredible.  He is funny. Oh so funny.  He is saying things like, "Actually I don't want it, but probably I will."  He adores any and all babies.  He loves physical touch and is learning how to give it  and ask for it appropriately and gently.  He asks, "Mommy, sing 'Talk to Jesus' and snuggle on 'da bench [the couch]."  This melts my heart because I used to request this same song from my dad while snuggling with him.  I love that he loves it.  

He will get a sweet grin and say (unprompted at times), "Thank you so much!" I hear him talk to himself and say, "No, no, dump the water" or "Good job Buddy, thank you for listen to Mommy!"  It makes me smile and cry because he is so darn sweet.  

On a personal note, I have been feeling a little defeated when it comes to this vivacious kid.  It is hard to parent a toddler who's brain is still just figuring out language and doesn't have a grasp on reasoning.  I feel like I repeat myself a million times and there are no results.  It is easy to wonder what the point is.  There are these little moments of triumph when he responds to discipline (consequences and teaching moments) with obedience.  When he says, "So sorry Mommy."  
And oh the grace that is poured on me in the moments when I lose my cool, raise my voice and speak crossly with him.  I feel like a horrible mom and yet all he wants to do is have me hold him and snuggle him.  These moments break my heart and fill me with hope.  Despite all the brokenness I bring to this parenting thing, he still loves me and wants to be close to me.  Really gives me a glimpse of how persistent God is...I mess up and He still just wants to hold me close and tell me he loves me, and have me say I love Him.  

This weekend I reconnected with a long-lost pen-pal I had when I was 11!  I was in her wedding at that age too (she was a bit older than me), but life has happened and we haven't kept in touch.  Anyway, through the course of talking, she said this to me:  "I realized that feeling overwhelmed has less to do with what is actually going on than how much grace I'm asking for in the moment" (or something to that effect).  It really reminded me that I quite often marinate in my overwhelmed feelings and circumstances and don't readily reach for the lifeline of grace offered in abundance, if only I would ask.  

Here are some snapshots of our wondrous summer/fall!  
We went to California in September to celebrate my mom's 60th birthday!  It was such a lovely time.  We rented a house in Santa Barbara where we could all stay.  

Attempt at a grandchild picture.  Tommy took off and most of the littles weren't too happy...

Hiking by the beach! 

He was a bit apprehensive about the waves, but loved playing in the "Big Sandbox."  Ben told him we were going to the "Big Sandbox" one day and that is what he now refers to the beach as.

Action shot. 

Ben and Asher sleeping in after the worst night ever.  Ash was up for around three hours straight.  Even when we brought him in bed with us, he would just sit and poke our eyes to make sure we weren't sleeping.  Good thing he is so cute. (They both are).

After the beach we did naked toddler swimming in the pool to get off all the sand.  However, Asher insisted on wearing this life jacket, so it turned out really akwardly adorable with his bare bum under his bulky life jacket. 

My dad caught this *fantastic* snap of me looking fly.  

Ladies (just missing Krissa).  Love them mucho!

J&K had left a few days earlier and we had forgotten to take an adult group shot with them.  

This stud checking out the Pacific off the Ventura Pier

Uncle Joey is just the best.  They love him. 

Asher back home on a nature walk with his friend Cecily.  Notice him trying to touch her.  She wasn't super excited to have him in her personal bubble.  

The glee of hose play on an 80 degree September day.  

My lil' family.  I love them.  Can't wait to see what the picture will look like when baby #2 is added! 

Au Revoir! 


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Life according to Summer of 2017

I feel like the last four months have flown by.  We have been doing a lot of traveling, home improvement projects and then there's the whole pregnancy thing.  Oh yeah, for those of you who may not follow me on any social media, we are expecting baby #2 in February!  Contained in this blog post will be some miscellaneous pictures, some updates on pregnancy and some thoughts about life right now.  

Lets start with baby stuff in the form of FAQs: 

How far along are you? I am 12 weeks exactly right now

How have you been feeling? Honestly, not so great.  Lots of nausea and fatigue.  Not to mention the emotional/hormonal roller coaster.  Everyone (read: Ben) has been so patient with me as I haven't always been my most cheerful self.  Having an active toddler always adds an exciting twist as well.  But now its starting to level out and I feel much better overall.

Are you finding out boy/girl?  Yes we are.  Because I don't do that kind of surprise well.  We found out with Asher and were really grateful we did.  

Do you have any names picked out?  This is a tough one.  We had some we were pretty set on, but then did some re-evaluating and now are kind of back to the drawing board....suggestions are welcome! 

Do you look pregnant? I'm including this...not because its frequently asked, but because when I tell people I'm pregnant, they immediately look at my midsection.  sometimes its a long glance, but mostly its just the quickest of eye twitches as they try to get that nano-second view of my enlarging girth.  And then they make comments on how they never even noticed and I don't look pregnant at all, and they look more pregnant than I do.  *sigh*   In my opinion, yes, I'm starting to look pregnant.  At least I feel like I do.  So I wear it proudly and don't even attempt to hide it.  This is part of why we told at 10.5 weeks.  I was tired of hiding the pooch.  

Are you guys so totally excited!?  Yes we are!  I'll admit, we (mainly me) were a little apprehensive in the beginning.  Not because we didn't want a baby, but I had a miscarriage before this pregnancy and was hesitant to be overly excited.     My friend let me borrow her personal doppler for hearing the heart beat and it has been a comfort to be able to hear that little swish-swish whenever I want to.  

Are you ready?  Can one ever be fully ready for such a major transition as bringing another life into the world?  We are excited and confident in God's blessing us with a growing family.  We acknowledge that there are many things we won't be entirely prepared for but we are excited to take it on!  I can hardly picture our family with another baby.  Another personality.  Another human who will forever be a part of us.  

Okay...Next topics!  

Life as of late:  
Ben and I decided earlier this spring to turn our garage into a three-season living space.  We hadn't really used it for our cars and really wanted a place to entertain and spend time outdoors.  We didn't anticipate how much work/time would go into it.  We should have...we've seen enough Fixer Upper to know that uncovering walls and looking at foundations rarely goes without a hitch.  Since our garage is ancient, we had to do some major work to solidify the walls. One corner had zero support and was sinking like 6 inches into the ground.  Most of that is Ben-esque work and therefore I have kind of been out of that.  It has exposed in us things that haven't yet been exposed in our four years of marriage.  I am glad we are learning how to navigate the bumps with a fairly small project like a garage remodel and not an entire house remodel where our whole lives are turned upside down.   It has been a growing process with both of us being stretched, and while it isn't always pretty, we are grateful for the sanctification. 

On a personal note, I am not one who is easily overcome by anxiety or depression.  However, given the combination of current events and social media, I find myself being more effected by these things than ever before.  I used to engage with one particular person on facebook, feeling like the conversations were productive and intelligent and though provoking (for both of us).  Then there were two instances where I was completely misunderstood by her friends who were witnessing the dialogue.  They were kind of harsh and unfeeling in their commentary.  I'll admit I took it personal and it crushed me.  I was attempting to have a truly constructive conversation and was seeking to learn more and ask good questions and I was somewhat obliterated by two complete strangers.  I backed off after that.  My friend is always good about maintaining respectful conversation even if it is clear we don't agree.  I will always appreciate that about her.  But I just couldn't do it publicly anymore.  Combine that experience with the comments section on just about any article or news blurb and it can be really discouraging.  I was sucked into reading these things but left feeling gross, confused, frustrated, and honestly a little anxious and depressed.  It wasn't good for me.  I took a break from facebook for a little while.  It was a good reset.  I am now able to click away from comments or articles that aren't edifying and uplifting.  I have been seeking out worship music, sermon blurbs and scripture that help refuel and refill my soul with truth.  I found myself crying the other day listening to a Rich Mullins song.  I've known the song forever, but the truths he was singing about just refreshed my soul in ways that it hadn't been in a while.  

So I guess I encourage you (and me) to take a break.  Look away from the computer or phone.  Resist the urge to read the comments.  And soak your soul in some truth.  Bask in some Scripture or a favorite worship song.  I find that I think more clearly, respond more reasonably and am far less shaken when I have a good fortification of truth.  

On to some pictures! 

A picture of Asher and his Grandma D and Grandma-Great Z.  

Asher and Reese enjoying "driving" with Papa on vacation!

All the heart eyes!  

Little fish loved being in the water with Daddy! 

Reading books with Asher's buddy Noelle

The phase of Asher getting out of his toddler bed dozens of times at bedtime and sneaking the door open and peeking out. Thankfully that phase has passed. 

Being a stinker and teasing cousin David by poking him with his feet 

It's so fun to have cousins around his age! 

Forgot jammies one night so Grandma found us a soccer shirt that was a wee bit too big.  Asher kept saying, "It's so cool!"

Baby announcement!  

Auntie Claire and all her nieces and nephews! 

More heart eyes.  Love these boys! 

When the cousins came to visit (for a week!) we tie-dyed shirts.  Aren't they cute on the bench in the woods!?

I just love this picture for so many reasons. 

He loves getting shoes out of our closet and clomping around in them.  he is always so proud of himself!

Well there you have it.  The whopper post.  I'll give more updates of baby stuff and other happenings as they...happen!

au revoir!