Friday, August 31, 2012

Birth announcement outtakes

This Josiah of ours-- he is so funny. We had such a hard time getting a good picture for his birth announcement... In fact, Jeremy doesn't think we got even one good one, but I have a few I think may work. 

He really is a beautiful baby. He just can't get it together for the camera ;-) 

my hands

I just read a post from a friend who also has a blog about her family, and she wrote about her hands. She wrote about how, at her age, she's starting to see her mother's, and her aunts', hands in her own hands. And she loves that legacy.

It's funny that she wrote about it, because I've been seeing my hands recently too. Maybe there's something about the age of thirty, that the girlishness finally wears off of our hands.

My hands were always very soft and pretty. I loved the look of my hands. I got compliments on them too. In particular, one guy friend of mine said once that they were perfect. And I agreed with him, without pride. I just knew they were pretty, and I enjoyed that.

My hands don't look like that anymore. It started in my mid-twenties, working at coffeehouses. There's so much work with one's hands in that environment. They lost a little of their plumpness. And now, as my 31st birthday approaches, they bear little resemblance to those pretty girlish hands of my adolescence. The skin has thinned and they show their veins. They have had too much sun, especially my left hand, from constantly having my hand out of the car window in that California sun in my youth. My knuckles seem bigger, and sometimes the joints ache.

Funnily enough, I don't really mind. Yes, I enjoyed having pretty hands. But now I appreciate what those hands can do. Those hands can soothe two screaming babies at the same time. Those hands make breakfast, lunch, and dinner for my boys. Those hands planted seeds in a garden for the first time this year, and those same hands pulled out the full grown plants for dinner. These hands took me through graduate school and the hundreds of thousands of words that were typed in it. These hands are workhorses.

I was a lazy child, folks. Goodness, I was so lazy. These hands remind me that I gladly gave up the laziness and selfishness of youth for family and hard work.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Not yet "grown"

I have recently been surprised by how much I'm like a toddler, by watching Elias. No, I'm not saying that I see my own actions/ideas/personality in Elias, I'm seeing my own behavior in a toddler.

I started researching the Montessori method about a month ago, to implement here in our home instead of a preschool. And one of the books said that toddlers cannot yet reason. It is around three years of age when children can begin to reason-- and therefore make constructive decisions about their behavior. Up to that point it's basically our job as parents (so far as discipline goes) to reason for them. I know he that should not go outside when it's around a hundred degrees, so I reason for him, and then I set the parameters of his behavior, i.e., we stay inside. He doesn't have to understand, and truly, he cannot, why he must stay inside, but it's not his job to know why. He just has to obey, tantrums or not. And we say, "Trust us, Elias;" that this is the way it has to be. It's for his own good.

I've realized that I have acted, and even continue to act, like a toddler with God. My circumstances look a certain way, because He has ordered events and circumstances to be that way for my good. He does not reason with me, because I cannot understand His reasoning, and so I throw a fit. I sulk. I cry. I beg Him to change His mind. I don't understand that because it's so hot outside, that I could get sick. That it wouldn't be good for me. That I wouldn't have fun anyway, even though I think I would!

This is the hard part with adults and toddlers. We think we understand what would be best. We don't.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, 
neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD."
(Isaiah 55.8)

Friday, August 17, 2012

So much puke.

The title of this post could really be the title of my day. Any day. But especially today.

Babies are so soft and cuddly and sweet. And so new, in the fullest sense of the word. But they are also hard. I wonder if the difficulty of a baby helps bring our attention to the present in a helpful way... If everything was fine with Josiah (who has been sick) and fine with Elias (who has been a toddler), perhaps I wouldn't pay so much attention to the time I spend with them. I'd be off doing and thinking about other things-- probably pleasant things, sure, but I wouldn't be doing this mommy thing twenty-four hours a day. And I would miss the things that make this time so special and sweet and heartbreaking.

All this meandering to say: I'm thankful that my attention is on our Present lately. As rough as it is, as daunting and challenging and absolutely exhausting as it all is, I want to be there for every bit of this Mommy thing while I have the chance.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Early morning.

It was a rough night last night. At midnight all four of us were sleeping. 5 a.m. had both Jeremy and I with babies in hand. And by 8 a.m., both kids were up for good and not too happy about it.

While Jeremy got up and showered for work, I shuffled into the kitchen and turned the kettle on. And then I pulled out the clafoutis I made last night, and ate it cold right from the dish.

A peach clafoutis from Martha. Is there anything more refreshing after a sweaty, sleepless night with two little boys? Nope.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

And then.

And then today was a good day. It seems that when I get on here and explode with frustration about the way things are going with Elias, we suddenly have good days. And today--well, this morning--was good.

Playing outside in the cooler weather, time in the garden, time in the kitchen. A welcome break from what seems like our everyday chaos.

And at the heart of the issue-----

My baby boy Elias is not my baby anymore. He is turning into a Kid, with scuffed up knees and an opinion about everything. Skinny legs curled up on his booster, reaching an equally skinny arm out to my plate for more roasted zucchini or watermelon, noodles plastered on his bare chest from an unsteady fork. A daydreamer who puts a bucket full of rocks over his shoulder, waves, and says "bye-bye", like Daddy with his lunch box every morning. Boisterous at home, oppositional, and then polite-- sweet, even shy in front of others sometimes. A quivering lower lip when he's dropped off at the church childcare. I see my baby the most then, in that lip. In the teary blue eyes that are so like mine. In his wanting to be held, either to see more clearly, but mostly to be close, to feel safe. He's so long now that I can't quite hold him as carelessly.

Our babies are not our babies for long. This is a truth I know with my head but not my heart.

Monday, August 13, 2012

a monday morning haiku

gray skies, falling rain
the early morning sunrise

Sooner or later.

I guess it was bound to happen, sooner or later. If you were outside my house right now, you'd hear two boys screaming in their beds. If you were here ten minutes ago, you would have heard me screeching "Don't you ever bite me again!"


I really don't know what to do with Elias lately. Most of the time, any activities or play that we try to do together ends in tears and meltdowns. It feels like he's totally out of control, an inward mass of chaos that manifests in freak-outs and sadness and naughtiness. To say he's "oppositional," as one book advises, is an understatement.

It really does bring me to tears, because I feel so helpless, so much a failure. As much as I know that I have little ability to change his behavior (or the emotions that cause it), it makes my home feel like a war ground, a place of unrest. And if you know me, you'll know that this is the one thing that I can't really handle or even understand in my home. I've prayed for peace for our home more than anything, before Elias was even born. Before we even moved here. I've always wanted my house to be a place of peace and rest, for us and others than come into it. And right now, it isn't. At all. And it makes me sick to my stomach.

More than anything, though, I want to penetrate deep inside Elias, and target whatever it is that is making him so upset. I want to help coax that unrest out of him, so that he can be my happy boy again.

I know part of it is that we have Josiah now. Mommy isn't all his anymore. I know that this is a good thing, for both of us. But how does one interact with a child whose world is upside down? This is a common saying, but think about it. He doesn't understand what is going on around him.

Growing up is chaotic. I know this, and so do you. We've all gone through it. But most of us don't remember this early part of maturing. It reminds me of my high school years. What a chaotic, messy time. Life seemed so dark, so unknowable. So painful. And although E doesn't have the words to express that, is that how he feels? Nothing is how it should be. He cannot do the things he wants to do, and he can't express his ideas in a constructive way, that would help him change his world. What verse is it in the Bible....perhaps in Galations...something like, when we were young we were as slaves, we were carried where we did not want to go. All day long Elias's wants are not matched up with his "allowed-to-do's". And his emotional capacity is lacking in the means to handle that fact.

This post is meandering now. Both boys are asleep now, but there is not much hope in me for a different boy waking up than he who just now went to sleep. So I will just get the bread started. Finish the laundry. And pray for my boy, for peace in our home.

Friday, August 3, 2012

past summers

I miss California more in the summertime, I think because the feeling of the sun on my skin brings back memories of all those days I lived under the hot California sun. As hot as it is here, the feeling of sun on the skin is something I don't get tired of. It brings back the most vivid memories: the sound of the ocean in the background, the lumpy sand under my towel, the muffled voices of nearby bathers. It's almost like muscle memory... images, sounds, smells so vivid it feels like I'm there.

The discrepancy between the memories and my current reality is almost laughable. Then: a long-haired beach bum, driving to Newport with a best friend, windows down, radio up. A whole day spent in the sunshine, in the waves. A drive home during rush hour (we never managed to leave at the right time...), wet hair dried quickly in the heat, skin tightened by the saltwater and sun.

And now: mommy. Stuck inside because it's too hot for me and my babes. A house to clean, mouths to feed, diapers to change. Elmo. Bath-time. Little to no time by myself.

Please don't misunderstand-- I would not trade this one for the other. My time now is more full of loved ones, more dedicated to others. I would not give this time up for anything. It is a precious, full time. I think it's okay to miss the other time too, though. I miss quiet, by-myself time. The freedom of driving alone, buffeted by the wind and the sound from my radio. The wide expanse of nothing-to-do.

I've been dealing with these things a lot more since Josiah was born. I have been surprised by the pull of responsibility that I have now. It's a lot to take in. A re-dying to self.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Josiah's birth

Jeremy was with me the whole time. It was a long day.

Mom and Lauren took good care of us.

Jeremy, waiting. Praying.

This was the worst of it. I can almost hear Lauren now, "Get it, girl!"

It helps the pain if you tell jokes to your husband.

In between pushes.

Baby Josiah.

Checking out our prize.

Getting weighed. 9 lb 4 oz.

How epic is this?

Baby feet.

Calm, now.


Holding daddy's hand.

Getting to know each other.

Our amazing friend, and doula.

Our sweet, sweet friend Joyce, who took these amazing photos.

Around 4 am, and getting ready to rest.

Our sweet, sleepy boy.