Sunday, December 20, 2009

Ignorance is better than facebook

Sometimes I just need to vent... and this is one of those times. One of those mornings, really. In fact, I had to change my music selection just so I could focus... haha (from my typical holiday montage to soundscapes).

First, I'm really annoyed at Walgreens. I love their online service for photos. I get my Christmas cards printed there every year. They have never once messed up my order. I can't wait to look at my pictures when I pick them up - I just stand at the photo counter going through them. Well... apparently my Christmas card list is WAY bigger this year. I'm not sure how that happened (or why), but I ran out of Christmas cards even after I dropped at least 20 people from the list. So, I ordered 20 more. We went to pick them up on the way to G-ma's house last night, and since we were in a bit of a hurry (Eden was about to have a meltdown and Jeffrey is going through this whiny phase that sucks even more in a small enclosed space), I didn't check them out. Oh, I did when we got to the car - but only the massive order of about 175 prints we made for Scott's dad. (He lives in Illinois with the rest of the extended family, doesn't have a computer, nor does he know how to use one, so he never gets the frequent updates or pictures or videos or anything really. So I made an album for him for Christmas which includes all of 2009... Fun! We just want him to feel like he's a part of the family.)

This morning I got up nice and early after laying in bed for a while thinking about things I probably shouldn't because they just get me all stressed and sad and a little pissed when I do. So I decided that instead of dwelling on such things, I should address the rest of my Christmas cards and, I don't know, finally get those in the mail before Christmas. I got all set up and spread out on my dining table (which has both leaves in it, making it about 9 feet long) when I opened the box and discovered some really darling Christmas cards with a dog and a couple in a boat. Lovely cards. But they are not mine. I know this because I don't have a dog, among other things.

So, I grumbled... and decided to log into Facebook to say hi to some friends. And this is where the venting really starts.

I'm convinced that while Facebook is a great place to stay connected with friends and people you love, sharing photos and videos and status updates and notes, etc, it's also a constant reminder to me of the lack of community that I seem to always be struggling with here in Salem. I know... You're thinking, "Seriously? Are we going there again?" Yes. I kind of feel like an addict in that by "going there" I'm relapsing. I've done so well these last several months. I've been on the happy wagon. But if I'm being completely honest I've really just haven't said anything to anyone about how I really feel (other than my hubbs because he feels the same way).

I am so sick of people calling me a "friend" when, in fact, we are not friends. Let's be honest here, people. Seriously. Think about what a "friend" is. I, personally, think that friends are people you share your life with; the ups, the downs, the in-betweens, your successes, your failures... Friends are people you spend time with - either planned or completely spontaneous. They are people you don't have to schedule into your life. You make time for them. You can call them out of the blue and meet up for coffee or for a playdate with the kids and somehow squeeze in a little adult conversation in between poopy diapers.

Scott mentioned to someone (keeping the identity as general as possible) the other day that we really haven't felt connected in Salem (after 5 years of living here) and feel like, for the most part, it's just generally lacking in community. Part of the frustration is the Church. (I use "Church" in the broader sense, not just in reference to the church we attend.) We ("we" being the Church) do community really poorly. For some, they fit right in. I'm not sure what it takes to be that kind of person, but for the rest of us, I guess we're just misfits. Cuz, see, we don't "fit" in. We just don't. I've sort of come to the conclusion that for some reason here in Oregon we are just different.

Anyway, this person responded that community takes the effort of both parties.

Wow. Such insight. Really? Ya think? That is profound.

Duh. I mean, really. Duh. Of course it takes two. Obviously. That's exactly my point.

We have tried and tried and tried... We have invited countless people over for dinner. We ask people to coffee. We've sent invites to meet up for drinks after work. We've invited singles, couples, families, kids to our home, to the park or wherever. We've even managed to get a few scheduled... as in, on the calendar.

It's REALLY disappointing but in almost all cases they've bailed at the last minute if they even took us up on the offer to begin with. Usually no one responds (if it's an open invitation) or our offer is declined due to every reason (excuse) you can imagine.

I cannot tell you how grateful I am for our Bible Study ("Meat & Potatoes", or The BSers). Actually, it's really the "core" that I'm grateful for. We've had people come and go, but it has always been the 8 of us that have really stuck. (Ok, 9, actually, but the 9th person has decided to move half way across the globe and go gallivanting all over the world. Giovanna, I LOVE YOU and MISS YOU!!!) And we're all so different. Scott and I are the youngest, and we range in age from early thirties to late fifties. No one would have EVER guessed that the 8 of us would become so close. If it weren't for our Friday night BS, I would be a pathetically lonely and depressed person. We have SO much fun together!

I sure do miss having friends on other days of the week. I can count on one hand the number of times we've been invited somewhere - to meet up for drinks, or to dinner out or in someone else's home, for playdates with the kids, a movie, or whatever - outside of our BS. I wish, I really wish, I knew why this is the case. I would like to think we're lovable people - our kids certainly are.

Ok... Here goes some vulnerability. I'm saddened by this. So sad that I've spent many nights crying alone. I'm used to being surrounded by friends. I'm used to feeling loved and accepted. I'm used to being invited to lots of things because people always found me to be warm and funny... When we left Montana, we heard (and still hear), "We miss you guys. Parties just aren't the same without you!"

I totally feel rejected here. Someone actually told me recently, "When things slow down in a few weeks, I'll have time to be your friend." It's funny that when I tell people that, they gasp and say, "Seriously? Someone said that?" Yes. Someone said that. And it pretty much confirmed to me that we must not be friends. It felt really, really crappy. I see this person a lot. They've always got stuff going on - dinners and movies with friends, family coming into town, visiting family out of town. They have people over... They are invited places... I know that all of these things weren't scheduled a year in advance. And I know that they can't possibly be THAT busy that we couldn't be friends if they wanted to be. You see my point? They just don't want to be. Oh, sure, they say they do. But let's be really honest here. If they wanted to be, that statement would have never been uttered.

And I think this is pretty much the case with most everyone we know. The irony is that we work at a church. HAHAHA Isn't that hilarious? We actually felt more connected before we started working there. (You would think that working at a church would actually bring us closer to community, not further from it.) We got involved 5 years ago when we first started attending that church, and made a few friends, etc. Then, we ended up getting involved in some other things, and through some life changes we had to pull out of a few things. The people we spent time with are no longer really a part of our lives. I don't understand this. Just because we're not serving together doesn't mean we can't be friends. I mean, we seemed to be pretty good friends beforehand. Again, it just feels like rejection. We've invited these same people over (game nights, Super Bowl, New Year's Eve, 4th of July, random BBQs, movies, dinners, drinks...) but they just don't come any more.

One thing I've observed a lot of over the course of the last year is that a lot of people just stay really busy with one another. But I rarely see any depth to those friendships. It's almost as if the busyness takes the place of having to share their lives. This is so not the way I do life. I want to share... deeply... I thought that's what community and friendships were all about. I thought that is how you feel accepted and loved and what not - that people want to be around you even when they really get to know you. Here, it's almost like people pull away if you know too much about them. What is that about? Don't people want others to know them? I mean, really know them?

Another thing I've observed is the amount of gossip that takes place. Good grief! Perhaps that's why no one wants to really share their lives. Maybe they've been conditioned to keep everyone at arm's distance because they've learned that by sharing, there's more to gossip about. I've been the butt of the gossip before. It sucks. Why is there a need to talk about people's private lives to others? Did you get permission to talk about that stuff? What purpose does this serve? If you've been trusted with information, count yourself blessed to be on the inside track. This is a special (and rare) place to be, and you should hold that information tightly and not share it with others, especially if you're using it to your own advantage. Is it really that big of a deal to "be in the know?"

I suppose that's why I feel so sad about this. I feel like I've put myself out there and the response is, "Nahh..." It isn't saying no to my invite to get together for coffee. It's saying no to me. It's saying no to my husband. It's saying no to my kids.

And if the lack of friendships isn't enough, this ridiculous Pac NW weather is the icing on the cake. I could do sad and lonely in the sunshine. But this rain and gloomy weather makes it ten times worse.

My phone is surprisingly silent all day, all evening and every weekend. The rare times it does ring, it's usually a friend from out of state checking in on us. Ahhh, warm fuzzies!

I think the big difference in talking about this today is that before I think I was just pissed about it. But now I'm not really pissed. I'm just really hurt. I realize that no matter how hard we try or how hard we don't try, it just is what it is. We can't change it. We can't change people. We can't make people want to be around us or invite us anywhere or say yes to the invitation to come into our lives. Neither of us have ever experienced anything like this before. So it leads us to believe that it really isn't "us". It's just that we don't fit into whatever Salem (Oregon, really) is. And frankly, if it requires us to just be busy and "be popular", I don't want it.

We have been praying fervently that God would lead us out of Oregon. With every passing lonely day, I just cling to the hope that God knows the desires of our hearts and will, in His timing, lead us back to where we belong. I committed to setting all of this aside several months ago and just praying about it. And it was kind of funny... I remember praying one day in sort of general terms I guess when God broke in and in a thunderous voice He told me, "It's ok to be specific." It really took me aback. I didn't realize that I wasn't being specific. But then I thought, "Ok. I'm going to be really specific." So, I was. And I have been. And God has met us in places and in ways I never would have thought to pray about. I won't go into specifics here because it's between me, my husband and our Heavenly Father... and the few others who know us well and have committed to pray with us on this journey. But what I will say is I'm excited. In the midst of a really gray time in our lives I'm excited for the future. I'm excited that Jesus is not just a savior, but, truly, a friend. He's shown me what it means to be a friend. And He's shown me hope.

It doesn't keep me from missing friends. I think it's ok to want friendships. I miss getting together with a girlfriend (or 5) for some morning shopping, or a cup of coffee, or a weekend away. I miss having double (or triple, or quadruple) dates with other couples. I miss having unannounced visitors at my door. (I miss having the kind of friends who are welcome to just walk in your home without waiting for you to answer the door.) I miss being able to just sit with someone in total silence, or being able to just cry when you need to, or laugh for no reason, or work through frustrations with and know that what you're sharing with them stays with them.

And that is the conclusion that I've come to. I've accepted that nothing will likely change for us here in Salem. But that's ok. I don't have any expectations of anyone. I will still invite people into my life. They can accept it or not. I will likely still feel rejected by my peers. But it's ok. It has brought me deeper into my prayer life, closer to Jesus than I ever have been, and open to the ways that God wants to mold me. (It's very humbling to see yourself in light of who He is.)

And this all comes back to Facebook. The fact that we have so much information about others at our fingertips is not all it's cracked up to be. Social networking. We Facebook because we all want a sense of belonging and community. I really enjoy reading everyone's updates and seeing pictures and videos of my "friends" and their families, I just realize all the more that in some ways, I liked my life better without Facebook - when I was much more ignorant of the fact that it isn't that my "friends" don't have time to be my friend. The truth is, they just want to be an acquaintance at best.

This probably isn't the last time I'll talk about this. It's a journey. It's real. It's what we're experiencing. It sucks.

But it is what it is.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The balloon pooped

I was just sitting in my kitchen, enjoying some downtime on the 'puter. Eden had been sleeping soundly until the last 5 minutes or so, when she started crying and fussing. Suddenly, she went silent... and I heard some odd squeaky noises coming from the living room.

This is how the conversation went:

Me: "Jeffrey, what are you doing?"

Jeffrey: "I change the diaper on there."

Me (as I'm getting up to go check on him, thinking he is trying to change Eden's diaper): "You're trying to change the diaper??"

I come around the corner to see him sitting behind Eden with a wet wipe laid flat on the floor and a little balloon on top of it.

Me: "You're changing the diaper on a balloon?"

Jeffrey: "Yes. The balloon pooped. I change the diaper on there."

I've never seen a balloon poop, but... ok.

I'm still not sure why Eden stopped crying for this, but my guess is she was as amused by it as I was.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Where does Jesus shop?

Jeffrey woke up from his nap today and said to me, "I wanna go see Jesus. I like his shirts."

Where do you suppose Jesus gets his shirts that are so memorable they would make an impression on a two-year old. Jeffrey has never commented on someone's clothes before (other than the color).

Now I want to see Jesus' shirts. I feel left out.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Jeffrey is a rock star

Ever since Jeffrey was in my belly, he's loved music. At church, he would just wiggle and kick like crazy during worship. When he was a baby, he would get excited during worship, or whenever we had music playing. My sister gave him a little toy piano when he turned one. I have video of him playing it, wiggling his hips like Elvis. I don't remember when he was given his toy guitar... He plays the guitar and piano all the time, all while singing whatever comes to mind. (Typically it sounds like "On and on and on and on, OHHHHH!!!!")

He started dancing as soon as he could walk. We tell him to shake his bon-bon and he starts to shake his butt. (SO cute!)

He and his friend Colton "crazy dance" on Tuesdays. You can imagine what that looks like. (It looks as it sounds...)

Jeffrey sings in the bathtub. He sings when he's reading. He sings when he's climbing on stuff. He sings when he's getting into mischief (which is pretty much constantly).

Scott has a Living Sacrifice t-shirt with the faces of the band members on it. Jeffrey will point to the drummer and ask, "Who's dat?"

Daddy replies, "That's the drummer: dun-dun-TSE-dun-dun-dun-TSE."

Jeffrey will point to the guitarist and ask, "Who's dat?"

Dad replies, "That's the guitarist: doo-doo-dooWEEEE!" (imitating a guitar sound)

Jeffrey will point to the lead singer and ask, "Who's dat?"

Dad replies, "That's the singer: WAAAAAHHHHH!!!" (kind of screaming/growling like the lead singer... Hey, it's heavy metal Christian. That's what it sounds like.)

Now Jeffrey goes around saying, "Dun-dun-TSE-dun-dun-dun-TSE... doo-doo-doo-WEEEE... WAAHHHHHHH!!!!!" It's hilarious.

The other day, he was playing his piano, when he handed me his guitar and said, "Mommy, play guitar!" He went back to the piano and played while he sang. I was trying to get it on video, but every time I stopped playing his guitar, he'd whip his head around and yell at me, "Mommy!! Play GUITAR!" He was very adamant. Later that day, he moved his piano to one of the end tables... kind of like a little make-shift stage.

When daddy got home, Jeffrey handed him two wooden spoons and told him to play the drums. We got ourselves a band!

Just today he wrote a song about how Newton died. Seriously. Out of nowhere, I hear:

Oh, Newton died
Oh, Newton died
Kitty
Kitty
Newt died

I don't know where he comes up with this stuff. Newton died like 3 months ago.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Good observations

Kids are hilarious. This morning Jeffrey was rocking Eden in the rocking chair. A few minutes into it, she started to fuss. I told him, "Honey, I need to feed the baby."


He replied in his usual matter-of-fact way, "Jeffrey feeds the baby," and then lifted his shirt and tried to shove his nipple into her mouth.

Last week, Scott went to pick up Jeffrey from school. When he got there, the teachers were sort of giggling and saying they have a funny story to share. Earlier in the day, Jeffrey was playing with this new doll house they got. His teacher found Jeffrey with his shirt up and the doll's face on his nipple. She said, "He notices!" Gee, ya think?

Every time I'm feeding Eden, he comes up and pokes me in the boob saying, "She drinks the milk in there! There's milk in there!"

I tell him, "Yes, honey, there's milk in there. Mommy makes milk for the baby."

He'll repeat, "Mommy makes the milk in there!" And then asks me, "Jeffrey try it?"

Um... no....

But today he said, "Jeffrey makes milk for the baby."

Um... no....

Secretly, I wish Jeffrey could make the milk for the baby. I'd get a lot more done that way.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Arrival of a Wigglebean - Saga to March 30th Post

Every once in a while, I like to go back to read my past posts. It's nice to get a gauge on prayers and blessings this way... And it's also fun to laugh at past events. My life is a sitcom, seriously.

The opening statement has a point, but I'll come back to it...

Hard to believe that after all this waiting, the Wigglebean finally arrived. Ok, so I'm late making the big blog announcement. (I'm pretty certain that most people who read this are involved in my life and, thus, already know. If not, oh well.) Here's the scoop:

J
ust one month ago, after
just 3 hours and 18 minutes from the time my water broke at 10:31 pm October 10th, we delivered Eden Noelle Matkovich at 1:48 am, October 11, 2009. She was 9 pounds, 3 ounces, and 21 1/4 inches long.Eden has a massive tuft of black curly hair (apparently we have thick, dark curly hair on both sides of the family) and big hands with long fingers (my side). She is beautiful and already a good eater and sleeper!


I was extremely relaxed through the first 2+ hours, and hardly experienced any pain at all. The last hour was pretty intense, but I progressed so quickly that we really didn't have time to think about it. The docs and staff were running around prepping stuff as I was pushing, which was pretty funny looking back. The nurse said it was a picture perfect delivery, and our doc commented that I was in control the entire time. (I sort of lost perspective those last 10 minutes so I'm not sure what his definition of "control" is....) All in all it was a very beautiful experience, and I'm so grateful for HypBirth training that helped me stay so
relaxed throughout the ordeal. (I'll eventually write a post on the HypBirth experience, which will likely be way TMI for most people. In which case, don't read it.) Eden's shoulders got stuck. (Which, by the way, is the exact opposite of my prayer for a baby with small shoulders, exactly for this reason). I just remember the doc telling me, "Kyra, I need you to listen to me." I made eye contact with him, and the rest is a blurr. See, when you're concentrating on birthing a baby, you're not really paying attention to what's happening around you. But, the story, so I'm told, is that the doc said that the baby is stuck and I needed to help them get me into another position so that my hips would open more. Apparently, I did some sort of circus trick and flipped my legs up over my head, and POP, out came baby. Kind o
f funny hearing about that after the fact. It's impressive that I'm so flexible. (Note to self.)

Daddy is so proud... He already is doting all over his little girl.

Unfortunately, the birthing center adopted new policies during this flu season. We could only have 2 visitors - Scott being one of them. So, our plan to have Gramma bring Jeffrey to meet his sister had to be changed. It was nice to just be alone without a bunch of people coming in and out for a couple of days. I actually sent Scott home one night because baby was fussy and he wasn't getting any sleep. It didn't make sense to have both of us sleep deprived.

Jeffrey was introduced to Eden upon our return home on October 12th. (I'll post the video later.) He's been in love with her ever since. He LOVES, loves, loves his little sister. He always wants to hold her, kiss her... count her toes, pat her head, give her hugs. He tells me every time the baby cries. He laughs at her hiccups (which is often), and he likes to kiss her goodnight. It's so sweet.

So... I was re-reading past posts. I made the general announcement that we were pregnant on March 30th. It was quite the ordeal early on. We didn't know if we would lose our baby, and it seemed like we would in the early stages. It's funny to me that our baby was so wiggly from the beginning. All throughout the pregnancy, baby just wiggled constantly. And I mean CONSTANTLY. She wasn't a kicker... She rolled back and forth and flipped this way and that. I had forgotten that she was the same way during that ultrasound appointment in Portland, which is when we named her Wigglebean.

She is still a wiggly little thing. Her little arms and legs are always on the move. I can only imagine what life will be like when she starts to roll, crawl and walk. I'll need a leash!

Needless to say, I'm incredibly grateful. The Lord has brought us this beautiful gift. He held her in His hands from the beginning, told me (us) to trust Him, and a few months later we're holding this life in our arms. I'm surprised she didn't come out with a big red bow around her body. Thank you, Jesus.

So, what's life like with an infant and a toddler? I'll write more about that later. I'll just say this: I'm glad I can drink again. :-)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Soon

Down to just the last few weeks... maybe days... maybe hours as a family of three.

This morning I woke up to a beautiful misty fog. It's my day off. It dawned on me that this morning could be the last alone with my first born, who, until the birth of baby #2, is the light and joy of my life.

After daddy left for work, we bundled up and headed to Riverfront. I love mornings like this because, surprisingly, the park is bare. Only the very few brave moms who don't mind their kids getting a bit wet and muddy show up. (Kind of ironic considering we live in Oregon.) So the park is pretty much ours. We ran to the river to look at the water ("wadoo") and the lone speed boat that zoomed this way and that. Then Picklebean remembered the slides. So, we ran (well, he ran, I waddled) back to the play structures so he could climb and jump and slide. The slide was, of course, covered in water droplets, with a bit of a puddle at the bottom, which Jeffrey slid right through - jeans soaking up pretty much all of it. At one point, he ran full speed across the playground and tripped, sending him face first into the bark mulch. Being that it was wet, every piece of mulch that touched his body stuck there. He came up, face, lips and body covered in mulch. He tried to spit it out, but it just made it run a little down his lips. It was a moment I wish I had on camera. There's something very sweet about a dirty little boy.... Especially one that hates to be dirty.

After 40 minutes splashing in puddles, looking at fallen leaves, climbing slippery ladders and jumping off steps, we headed back to the car. It seemed like the perfect morning for hot chocolate and a donut. I called daddy to see if he needed any coffee. (He would never turn it down... Actually, it was just an excuse to see him. We miss him on these mornings.)

I mentioned hot chocolate... Jeffrey responded, "Chocolate milkshake?" I said, "Hot chocolate?" He repeated, "Chocolate milkshake?" Now, normally I wouldn't dream of feeding my child a milkshake at 10:30 in the morning. But... we don't have too many left together. And this morning just screamed for something special. So, chocolate milkshake it was... Oh, and a donut, which he finished in about 30 minutes, just about an hour from nap time. (Note to self: You know better to feed your child large quantities of sugar and fat just before a nap.)

When we got home, we both stripped down to our tees and undies. Jeffrey watched Veggie Tales' Heroes of the Bible as I cleaned the kitchen, did some laundry and vacuumed. I kind of wanted to continue cleaning - cuz once this baby comes, I won't have much energy to scrub toilets and mirrors, etc. But I also wanted to cherish the moments I have left with my Picklebean. So, I just stood in the doorway to our living room and watched my son for a while. It brought a tear to my eye to think that it won't be just the two of us any more.

So, I grabbed a pillow, put on the Praise Baby CD and snuggled up close. As always, he leaned into me, and put his arm around my neck, playing with my ear. I breathed in his warm breath, closed my eyes and just enjoyed the moment - his soft hair tickling my cheek and eyelashes. He giggled... I giggled... and we snuggled closer. I could tell he was close to drifting off, so I picked him up, he tightened his legs around my waist, as he does only when he's ready to sleep, and I carried him to his room. He let out a tiny whimper - as if to tell me he didn't want to be alone. I had no intentions to just leave him there. I wanted more time with him. So we laid on his bed, he snuggled into me like a tiny little spoon, and I could feel his body relax. I just rubbed his back until I heard his breaths deepen, and his little body jerk as he found his peaceful sleep. It was hard not to squeeze him and weep. He's such an angel.

It's hard to imagine another child owning my heart the way that my son does. I can't understand the depths of my love for my one child, much less having enough love for two. I fall in love more and more every day... and soon there will be another. And yet I know that God has created us to love in this way. There's always enough, even when you think there isn't enough room just for the one. Sometimes I feel my heart stretching under the pressure of my love where it could burst from my chest at any moment. It's such a beautiful feeling. No other human has ever made me feel this way. And I don't believe any other human could. I think these feelings are saved - special for those we call our children.

God loves us in this way - and even more. He loves us in ways that cannot be expressed by words alone. I believe He gives us a special gift of love when we have our own children - either by birth or adoption or foster care, or any other method we welcome a child into our life and home. I remember contemplating this when I held Jeffrey in my arms for the first time. And for the first time, I understood what God meant by unconditional love. I understood what He meant when He calls me His child; made in His image. And I look at my son and think God used me and my beloved to co-create this little person in our image. In HIS image. It's wonderful.

And God has blessed us with another. The journey has been far from easy. We wondered if I would ever experience this precious one's first movements... I remember God asking me if I was willing to give up everything for Him. And I remember humbly opening my hands to Him saying, "Yes, Jesus... Everything I have belongs to you," which included the life in my belly. And God answered our desperate prayers. I don't take this gift lightly. In fact, I often feel undeserving - especially in light of others who have lost babies along the way, or are dealing with difficulties in even getting pregnant. I can't imagine the desperation of those prayers, and the longing in their hearts to hold their own little darling, or the hole in their family that they so eagerly wish to fill... Their dreams of examining those tiny little fingernails, caressing those soft earlobes, and breathing in the sweet breath of a brand new infant.... I wonder why God allowed us another miracle when others have been waiting so patiently for one of their own. I can't answer these questions, but it makes me incredibly grateful, even amidst the pains and aches and inconveniences of pregnancy.

I am so grateful for this morning; for the time I got to spend with my son; for his laughs and hugs and sly glances. And I'm grateful that soon we'll be welcoming the fourth member of our family into our life. I pray it would be so. And I pray for all the love that I will need - that is so far beyond anything I can comprehend - to just abound and overflow. I know it isn't something I manufacture on my own, so I look to my Father to teach me.

To my baby girl (assuming the docs are correct): I can't wait to see your face. I can't wait for your big brother to give you gentle kisses. I can't wait for your daddy to hold you safely in his arms. I can't wait to call you by name for the first time. I'm scare to death of what it means to mother a daughter, but I promise to fall to my knees daily and ask God to show me how. I loved you from the time you were just a glimmer of hope, to the time I had to loose my grip around you, to the time I felt your first kick, to the time we learned you are our first daughter, to now. Every day a little more. I've shed many joyful tears (and a few painful ones) over you. You are not mine alone. You belong first to Jesus, and I pray that I will be His hands and His voice until you come to know Him personally. You are a gift, and we willingly accept this gift with the utmost humility. I pray for your safe journey. We'll be here waiting for you with open arms. - Love, Mommy

Monday, September 14, 2009

Good Cry

Maybe it's just cuz I'm super pregnant, which means I'm irrationally emotional. But today I just feel like throwing myself on the floor, kicking and screaming in a two-year-old-style fit and bawling my eyes out. Trying to get through a difficult pregnancy, balancing my home, my marriage and my family, raising a toddler, and trying to take care of work stuff all at the same time is stressing me out. I'm feeling very alone...

I have no idea who reads this (if anyone) - ok... that's not entirely true. I know of some people who read this (and even one person who reads this who doesn't know that I know reads this, and I'm not altogether sure why she reads this since she has ignored me for the last 2 years). But for the most part, I don't know who reads this... And I don't want to come across is being whiney or ungrateful. I'm not whining, and I'm far from ungrateful. In fact, I'm incredibly blessed. There are, however, a lot of things going on simultaneously and most people in their right minds would feel stressed about it. I just don't really have a place to let it out... (Gosh, I miss friends.)

Excuse me while I get some chocolate.

I'm back. Chocolate in hand (and in mouth).

Never mind. Chocolate has made it clear that this is not the venue to vent.

Sometimes you need a good cry. Maybe it's just a girl thing. (I don't think I've ever heard a dude say, "I need a good cry." Well... once, but he was gay, so that doesn't count.) So I'm just going to keep it all to myself, but hopefully have a good, long, private ugly cry alone.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hug Jesus

One of the greatest pleasures (and honors) of my life is having the opportunity to introduce and represent Jesus to my kids. Next to loving the Lord my God with all my heart and all my soul and all my mind, (oh, and being a help mate to my spousal unit) this is my highest calling. And I want to do it well.

I'm sure all parents believe their kid is gifted. And spiritually speaking, all kids ARE gifted. I'm not entirely sure what gift(s) Jeffrey has, but God is already doing something awesome in him. I could recite story after story, but I'll just give a quick snippet from last night.

About an hour before bed, Jeffrey decided he wanted to watch Veggie Tales' Easter Carrol. (Gotta love singing vegetables!) There is this part in the movie when the little angel was singing about the story of Easter. The visual was basically stained glass windows in a church, where they depict the birth, life and death of Jesus - and finally the Resurrection. The first window that showed a grown Jesus, Jeffrey ran up to the TV screen, put his hand over him and said, "Jesus!" It's neat that he even knows the various illustrations of Jesus.

Then, we read his Toddler Bible. He points to Noah and calls all the animals by name... When we get to the story of David and Goliath, he points to David and says, "Kick butt...." (Oops... That just came out one day when I told him that David kicked Goliath's butt. It stuck. I hope that doesn't get in him in trouble in Sunday School one day.) And when we get to the baby Jesus and all the pictures of Jesus thereafter, Jeffrey points and says, "Jesus" to each. So cute.

By this time, it was time to get tucked in and say our prayers. I got him all snuggled and cozy, and asked if I could pray for him. (I don't ever want to assume that this is ok.) He, of course, said, "Uh-huh!" (He loves to be prayed for. He could be totally hyper, but as soon as we begin to pray, he settles right down, looks deeply into our eyes and listens intently.) So, I prayed... some variation of the same prayer I pray every night, which ended, "Amen!" And Jeffrey repeats, "Amen!"

And then, out of nowhere, he said, "Talk, Jesus?" He was asking if he could talk to Jesus.
I replied, "Do you want to talk to Jesus?"
Jeffrey answered, "Uh-huh!"
I asked him, "Is Jesus here?"
He said, "Uh-huh!"
I told him, "Honey, Jesus loves it when you talk to Him. You can talk to Jesus any time you want."
Then he stretched his arms out to each side and said, "Hug, Jesus?"
I asked, "Do you want to hug Jesus?"
He replied, "Uh-huh!"
I told him, "Oh, honey... Jesus loves your hugs."

This isn't the first time Jeffrey said that Jesus was there. It makes me wonder if he really sees Jesus (which is entirely possible). I'd like to think that Jesus IS there. That's part of our prayer every night - an invitation for Jesus to come.

There is no greater joy than to see my son fall in love with Jesus. I'm excited about the day when we get to have conversations about the Bible and who Jesus is. But I'm more excited (and sometimes burdened) by showing Jeffrey who Jesus is. (I'd rather Jeffrey see Scott and I walking with Jesus, than hear us just talk about it.)

What a blessing. I can only imagine the joy that Jesus feels when He hears a child call Him by name and want a hug. I know my heart is warmed when Jeffrey wants to hug me. How much more so does our Heavenly Father rejoice when "the least of these" wants a hug? It's beautiful.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Do cats go to heaven?


It seems to be the question of the week. We had to put our little (I use that term loosely) Newton down (aka have him "humanely euthanized") on August 13th. He was almost 10 years old, and I have been the relatively proud owner since 6 weeks following his birth. If you can believe, this mammoth of a cat once fit easily into the palm of my hand. I'm not sure if it was genetics, or the incredibly high dosage of protein that I fed him that led to his abnormal growth. In his prime, he was close to 20 pounds - heavier than a lot of small dogs.

Now, I'm not a cat person. Never have been. But I love animals of all varieties. (I just prefer that most of them stay away from me and never step foot in my home.) No matter what your pet is, it always finds a way to become a family member. Yes, even cats. (Please do not mistake this for any sort of statement that cats are people, too, cuz, clearly, they are not.) After almost a decade of caring for just about anything, inevitably you would become attached.

Newton was basically the result of Fidget (the other cat) being lonely. I could only take so much of the constant leg crawling and perching on my shoulder. She would cry and cry when I left for work, and wouldn't leave me alone for 10 seconds when I got home. She needed a companion. I found Newton. (The name actually is Sir Isaac Newton. Many mistakenly believe it was Fig Newton, which I suppose would be more appropriate considering his size.) Fidget HATED him. She was only a month older, but she insisted on being the queen of her castle and was determined to ensure that Newton understood this. She beat the crap out of him. I figured that would last until they both grew and he was big enough to fight back. And so it happened... plus about 7 pounds.

Then they fell in love. And quickly, I had to get them both fixed. I thought surely at 4 months, Newton wouldn't have a clue what Fidget meant when she stuck her butt in the air and sang a little song of enticement. And he didn't... at first. But one day, I walked in on them, and Newton seemed to have gotten the hang of his role in the relationship. I pulled him off just in the nick of time (if you know what I mean) and immediately quarantined him until the next day when I introduced him to Sir Knife which removed both Sirs Testicles. (Now that I think of it, I wonder how big he would have grown had he not been neutered at such a young age? I'm no biologist so I don't know how these things work.)

And yet they remained in love and committed to one another. Fidget would clean him for 45 minutes until his body was practically sopping wet. (My vet said Newton had the cleanest ears he had ever seen!)

Then one day and 3 moves later, after years of Fidget provoking play attacks, which eventually turned into full-out brawls, she had had enough. She wanted absolutely NOTHING to do with Newton. She rejected him. She hissed at him any time he came within a foot of her personal space. I think this was most likely the beginning of her constant vomiting and his need to find another companion (which he found in a piece of faux fur, which we lovingly named "His Lovely").

Oh, the things he did to that poor piece of fabric! We were pretty much grossed out by his public displays of affection, so I tossed His Lovely in the trash. That may have been the biggest mistake. He then turned his attention to anything soft... which included sweaters, blankets, underwear, t-shirts... We could tell what he had been up to when we got home and these things were strewn across the floor, somewhat tangled and twisted, and most often with puncture marks from his teeth. (See picture and video... This is his late Lovely.) Very disturbing.


video
Newton was a lover (clearly). He was the biggest lapcat ever, and always found a way to sneak onto your lap. If we pushed him off, he'd sit at our feet staring at us... for a really long time. (It was pretty creepy.) He'd eventually jump up on the arm of the couch... then slowly make his way over to us... And lean across our lap, then eventually step onto our lap. That was the dead giveaway. If we hadn't noticed it until then, we could tell what his plan was when his little, poky stick legs dug into our flesh when he walked on us. The only way we could even remotely stand having him on top of us was to push him down so he'd lay, all 20 pounds of him, across your lap, or your chest, or wherever he happened to be laying.

Newton was my slumber pal. He'd cuddle up on my pillow, or next to my head and snuggle in real tight. It sucked in the summer, but in the winter it was like a little fur pillow that purred. He belly was so soft. He'd be with me from the moment I went to bed, until the moment I got out of bed. If I moved in the middle of the night, he would often start purring which just sort of lulled me back into my slumber.

Scott and Newton had issues. There was this alpha-male battle that continued for our entire marriage thus far. Newton never had a problem with Scott until we got married and he was invited into bed with us. Newton clearly felt that this was an assault on what was clearly his property. It even got so bad that Newton would try to bite him if Scott even came near him (and did on a couple of occasions). Needless to say, Scott would put him in his place. But Newton wouldn't relent. Even after getting smacked around a few times, he still would make his point, sometimes out of the blue while he was napping next to Scott. (They had an on-again-off-again, love-hate thing. I don't think either one of them ever really learned.) When Scott would come tuck me in at night, Newton would just wait for him to get near enough so he could lunge at his hand or whatever body part happened to be closest. Eventually, I had to either hold him down, or Scott would sort of hit him with a pillow until he jumped off the bed long enough to kiss me goodnight. It was a nightly ritual.

Then we brought Jeffrey home. This was another assault. Newton was now even further down the totem pole, much to his dismay. We had always been a little concerned about how Newton and the baby would fare. But I think Newton could sense my protection because I always came around if I felt that Newton wasn't going to behave. Once Jeffrey was old enough to know better, I didn't really get in between them. Jeffrey got chomped on a couple of times, but thankfully Newton held back. (He had these fangs that hung below his chin. If he wanted to, he could do some serious damage. He's drawn blood a few times from Scott, and a couple of times from me.) He only gave Jeffrey a warning... which, of course, he, too, never learned. (Like father, like son.) Jeffrey loved him. He called him "Newt" and always wanted to cuddle with him, although 99% of the time Newton could hardly stand having Jeffrey pet him, much less lay on him.

That was the first time Newton was ever banished from the bedroom. I was nursing Jeffrey at night and didn't want his massive body suffocating my baby in the middle of the night, so we started locking Newton out. He cried a lot the first few nights, but he eventually made his way to the couch (along with some token t-shirt or whatever so he'd have something to love on).

No, Newton was no ordinary cat, that's for sure. He was hugely territorial, and no other animal or human would ever stand a chance against him. He stood his ground, no matter how big his opponent. But when it came to places he wasn't familiar with, that was a whole new ballgame. We'd let him out from time to time. If anything made a noise or moved, he'd be right back at the door wanting to be let in. For as ballsy as he was inside, he sure was a big wuss when he was outside.

And he had the most whimpy sounding meow. You'd almost expect a lion-roar out of this cat, but instead what you heard was this tiny Mike Tyson sounding mew. It was ridiculous. (It was kind of like having a huge SUV with a Geo Metro sounding horn. It was bad.)

Newton didn't snack like ordinary cats, either. No salmon or tuna for him! But, boy, if he heard you opening a bag of chips, he'd come a'runnin'! His favorite was jalapeno chips. The spicier, the better.

Something happened three months ago. His demeanor began to change.... He started to chill out a little more and got a little more cuddly. Then the sneezing started... and got worse and worse. I thought he just had a cold of some sort, but it never got better. The last couple of weeks were awful. His breathing was difficult and forced - sounded VERY stuffed up. His left eye and nostril were draining - kind of a bloody liquid. His nostril started crusting shut, so I'd have to wipe it away a couple of times each day. He looked like he was losing weight and his coat wasn't nearly as soft as it once was. I finally decided that enough was enough and he needed a visit to the doctor's office.

I honestly thought that he had either a sinus infection or some sort of eye cyst that could easily be treated with antibiotics. Jeffrey and I took him in. (I explained to Jeffrey that Newt was sick and needed to see the doctor... Newton howled the whole way. Jeffrey said, "Newton cries... Newton cries..." which eventually turned to, "All done!" meaning he had enough of that racquet.) He weighed in at 14 pounds (almost 6 pounds less than usual). Newton wouldn't let the vet near his mouth... It was explained to me that there was something obviously bothering him and she wanted to sedate him to do a thorough exam. She said at that point that it may be nothing, but her hunch was that there was a severe blockage of some sort that was most likely cancer (tumors). If that was the case, she would recommend euthanasia. Wow. That was the first I ever really thought about it. Sure, Scott and I had been joking for years that we might have to humanely euthanize him (due to his temper and violence against other male species). But we never really thought this could be a reality.

Sure enough, she returned a few minutes later to confirm her suspicions. She asked if I wanted to see it. Jeffrey and I joined her in the back. She brought Newton out on a towel, and opened his mouth, pulling out his tongue. There was a huge mass of tumors growing one on top of another, all down his tongue. No wonder he was losing weight. He most likely wasn't eating! And no wonder he had such a hard time breathing. The bridge of his nose was softened and swollen. The vet was guessing that he had tumors in his nasal cavity, as well. This was no way to live.

We made the decision right then and there to put him down. No bother taking him out of sedation to say our goodbyes. He was more comfortable where he was. I had to quickly find a way to explain this to a 2 year old. I just simply told him that Newton was very sick and that he wasn't going to be coming home with us. I told Jeffrey, "You'll need to tell him goodbye." Jeffrey leaned over Newton, laid his head on his belly for about 20 seconds, then said, "Bye-bye, Newt," and waved at him. This just killed me. I pretty much lost it at that point. (Jeffrey looked at me and said, "Mommy cries..." and gave me a big hug.)

The vet's assistant was kind enough to watch Jeffrey for a few moments so I, too, could say my goodbyes. I just pet him for a while, whispered in his ears and kissed him goodbye.

That was the last we saw of him.

Since then, our home has been absent one family member. Even Scott was surprised to find that he misses the little booger. Fidget seems to be confused and comes around more than she used to. Jeffrey has asked about Newton a couple of times, and went looking for him once. I miss him and his soft belly at night.

I'm grateful that we took him in when we did. Poor kitty was suffering.

What's funny is this has prompted some conversations about whether or not animals have souls, and whether or not animals go to heaven. What do you think?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Bee stings and discipline

I'm not a huge fan of the term "Terrible Twos". All kids go through the stage where they stretch and flex their independent muscles, but that doesn't make them "terrible." This is a time when, as a parent, we get to flex our patience muscles.

Jeffrey has been in his "big boy bed" for about a month now (give or take). The transition was pretty easy at first, although every time we put him down he kept pointing to his crib saying, "Nigh-nigh... Nigh-nigh..." in sort of a sad tone. (I don't blame him. That bed is familiar and comfy and he feels safe there.) But, we stuck with it. Naps were and are a cinch. Bedtime, however, is a slightly different story.

And it really hasn't helped with 107 degree temps with no air conditioning. For the past week when the temps hit their high, Scott slept out on the couch so he could keep watch over the completely open house, and I brought Jeffrey into bed with me so that he wasn't alone in his room with an open window. (I just have this nagging fear that he'll either find a way to crawl out, or someone will steal him. He is our prized possession, ya know. I just feel safer with him cuddled next to me.) Starting late last week when the temps finally fell back to the low-nighties (as if you could really call that "falling temps"), we put him back in his bed.

And the flexing began. I think he thinks it's a game when he gets out of his bed, opens his bedroom door and peers out. He never (correction, rarely) actually leaves the bedroom. He just opens the door a crack, peeks out and shuts it again... then opens it again... and shuts it again... We calmly tuck him back in bed and leave. Which is another invitation to crawl out of bed, sneak to the door, open it a crack and peek out, etc. This usually goes on for about 20 minutes, sometimes 30. But by then, he's pretty much tuckered out and will stay in bed (after a gentle scolding).

Last night, however, this went on for a good 2 hours. We at first remained calm. Then it escalated and he got the "firm voice" (almost a yell, but not quite - really more low and growly than anything)... Then it turned into the "get your butt back in bed!"... which then turned into a relatively gentle butt-swat... I would just keep tucking him back in bed and leaving. I know he knew I meant business, but honestly I think after a couple of weeks of super late nights and early mornings, he's completely sleep deprived, which always is a recipe for disaster. (All you parents know EXACTLY what I'm talking about.) Once, he peeked out, I was waiting for him and told him to get back in bed, to which he responded with a slammed door, followed by a loud thud, a couple of seconds of silence, then a loud, "Owie!!!!" followed by crying. I, of course, went in to see what happened. I just found him in a heap on the floor holding his forehead saying "owie... owie...". (My guess is that he turned to run back to bed, and underestimated where the dresser was and likely ran into the corner. Sad, but kinda funny at the same time.) Another time I opened the door and he had his pillow and blanket in hand ready to make the move to the livingroom or our bedroom. (Hey, at least he planned ahead!) At the end of 2 hours, he had resorted to taking his pants (and diaper) off - my guess is because he knew we'd have to come in and tend to him. Aha! Attention!

What a stinker.

Scott finally snuggled in bed with him until he fell asleep. Total time from the time we started our bedtime routine to the time he fell asleep: 3.5 hours. A record.

Then at 2:30 this morning I heard a massive thud through the monitor (yes, I still use it after 2 years - for good reason), followed by a couple seconds of silence, and the familiar, "OWIE!!!!!" and crying. I popped out of bed to check on him. He was in a heap on the floor. He fell out of bed. (There is something amusing about how he says "owie" and cries... It's sad, but it always tugs at my heart strings.) I just tucked him back in bed nice and tight, and he fell right back asleep.

But... now it's 3:00 am and I can't sleep a wink. I'm uncomfortable. I'm uber tired. My baby is wiggling like she's swimming the 400 meter freestyle. And, frankly, I'm thirsty. Ugh.

Jeffrey also learned a few weeks ago how to open one of our side gates in the yard. He's about 2 feet from reaching the latch, but he learned that if he wiggles the gate just right, it'll pop open. The first time this happened, Scott and I, luckily, were in the front yard yapping as I was watering the plants. Scott glanced over his shoulder to find Jeffrey half-way down the court street (shared driveway, whatever you want to call it), proudly giggling to himself. We've since jammed a stick in the little latch hole thing to keep it from popping open. However, the brilliant escape artist that he is decided to sneak back there last evening to have a looksee while daddy was bringing in groceries and mommy was taking out garbage - thus having a few minutes to himself. I got back inside, and made my way to the backyard to play, when I heard the gate slam.

Now... I was at the sliding glass door at this time. The gate is all the way on the OTHER side of the house, and literally feet from the court street, which is just a few meters from the cul de sac. I darted out of the house, running barefoot across teensy tiny (sharp) gravel, out the gate, jumped over the neighbor's retaining wall and down the street to grab Jeffrey who was already at the cul de sac and proceeding to run into the street. I don't think I've ever run so fast in my life. (Amazing what adrenaline does for you.) Mind you, I'm almost 31 weeks pregnant. Yeah... nice picture. Jeffrey was LAUGHING the entire way. He was just having a ball! I caught up to him in the middle of the cul de sac - out in the open street. (Praise Jesus that no cars were coming, and that our ghetto neighbor, Consuela Andretti, wasn't coming or going - cuz she literally reaches breakneck speeds in and out of the drive.) Scary stuff. You don't ever want to see your kid running for the street. (I just get this image of the scene from Pet Cemetery when the kids gets hit by the semi in my mind... That sucks.)

Earlier this week, Jeffrey got his first (three) bee stings. Actually... I'm not certain they were bees. Could have been a wasp. Could have been a foul-mooded fly of some sort. Either way, we were playing in the yard as I was watering plants and Jeffrey was kicking around his soccer ball when he started grabbing at his shirt and belly saying, "Owie! Owie!" followed by a shrieking scream. I immediately ran to him and lifted his shirt. There was a bee fluttering around his elbow (which is why I think he got stung by bees). I figured he had been stung, so I whisked him into the kitchen to have a look. Three stings right by his belly button, already swollen white with a big red dot in the middle. My first thought was, "Good Lord, I hope he isn't allergic." I've been stung a thousand times (well... at least several dozen... I never learned), and I'm familiar with the "sting" of a bee sting, but luckily it does fade rather quickly. I just listened to his breathing to make sure he wasn't going into anaphylactic shock. Meanwhile, I had Scott make up a thick paste of baking soda and water. (This is what we always used when I was a kid... seemed to take care of the swelling and pain.) I wasn't positive that the stingers were out, so I ran a warm bath and washed the area really well, followed by some ointment and Tylenol. He was such a trooper. He cried for about 5 minutes, then was back to his happy self, even though his belly was all swollen. He pointed and said, "Owie..." Yeah... owie is right! Bee stings are no fun!

Last night Jeffrey decided that the hose nozzle was a microphone, into which he sang the ABC's. It's moments like these that warms a mama's heart. I love the way he sings... "A...B... C...D..." (inaudible inaudible) "GEE!!!!... H... I" (inaudible inaudible) "blebble blebble bleh..." (that's his version of "L M N O P") "QUE!!!!! R!!!! S!!!!! ... T!!!!" (inaudible) " VEE!!!!" (inaudible) "EX!!!!!" (inaudible) "ZEE!!!!!!" He's so cute.

This is the first week with my new schedule. Already making plans with mommy friends on my first Thursday off. We're walking with Mia (and girls) and Tamara (and kids), and later hanging with Kim and her son by the pool (if I manage enough courage to actually be seen in a bathing suit, eegads).

But for today, I have to head to work in short order, and hopefully snag a nap when I pick up Jeffrey at 12:30. I'm seriously pooped. Having two little humans to care for should be interesting.