22 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

I'll be off the internet for almost another week, but hopefully I'll have some fun things to share with you when I return. For now, wish us luck as I fly with Ezra for the first time!

15 December 2011

Crying

Sometimes I like it. Most of the time I don't mind. But sometimes it just gets a little ridiculous. I like being a passionate person (all in all). But the crying? I mean, snuggling my baby, movies, commercials, a good memory, a moving thought... I cry a lot. Not necessarily boo-hoo, but you know. Tears.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyway. I think this next season of my life is going to be tearful. Preparing to parent a child who is coming from a place of such loss... I hope I get used to it, cause I can't cry every time I think about it. Right? And I'm sure there will be tears of frustration during the waiting and the having to get everything right and in order and while humming the tune they want while standing on my head... Well, I'm not excited for all the tears.

But mostly the thinking about Baby A. When I think about Ezra not having someone to hold him when he's upset, or to look back at him in delight when he figures something new out and searches for someone to be proud of him. Not having someone to quiet him when his gums hurt at night. Not having that safe person, that haven. The mommy and the daddy. It's hard to bear thinking of the situations orphans come out of. And even while living in well-run and well-meaning institutions... well they don't have the ability to care for the kids the way parents do. I know it will become more and more real.

I don't have to grieve the loss of biological children the way many couples who struggle with infertility have to. But I will have to grieve the loss of control. The loss of protection. The inability to mother my child until s/he is with me. And that's going to be hard.

I just ask, "Lord, would You make these tears productive in whatever way You want? I want Your heart for Baby A."

13 December 2011

Accepted!


YAAAAAY! Honestly, I was a little afraid they wouldn't accept us on account of our piddly pay, but they did. Thanks, Jesus! 
Step 1 of like 300 is complete!

12 December 2011

Serious Crafting

Is currently going on. I definitely am less-than-three-ing Pinterest right now. I shmay take some pics, but since they're mostly Christmas prezzies, I won't show them soon. Some are turning out surprisingly well. Some are sadly (read: maddeningly) not. I'll try to not make this a silent D-cember (what with the traveling and such), but I make no promises.
Mini-rant: no one carries 1.5mm leather in this town. Which, I suppose, is fine. Also, fabric-tac is not as tacky as one would suppose.

06 December 2011

Things, Stuff, and Jesus

I have decided not to buy clothes for a year. So, from December to December, no clothes.

I decided as I was driving by a house in our neighborhood. It's not a new house or even a super fancy house. But it's beautiful, and definitely nicer than ours. And just lovely, with a porch and a little guest house and real, green grass. And I want it. I even let out a little sigh every time I drive past.

But that's ridiculous. Our house is a wonderful gift from God. It's amazing that we can afford to buy a home with rooms for us, Ezra, and even a guest bedroom. It's situated very well and in good shape. I should be looking around all the time in amazement that we are buying our 15 year old house without much of a problem.

And it's not just homes (there are a couple others that are sigh-inducing). I just want a lot of stuff. All the time I'm wanting things. It just feels icky after a while. Honestly, how much of my heart/time/mental energy is devoted to wanting things? I don't know, but more than I'd like to admit. I want to be free!

And I don't really buy other things, and I love clothes and shoes and accessories (you may not know by looking at me, but it's true). So no clothes. I'm definitely going to need the aid of the Holy Spirit on this one.

05 December 2011

Dream

Last night I dreamed that it came to light that somehow I didn't actually graduate from high school. And I couldn't take the classes I needed at wherever you get your GED (in my dream, it was suspiciously similar to Blinn), so I had to go back to high school. So I decided to take French IV as well.

Somehow there was a dinner where I was seated next to a French dignitary and I had difficulty conversing. He also didn't understand why I wanted to take French IV when I had already completed my degree in French. I didn't know how to explain why.

And then I was in French class learning about gerunds and studying vocabulary of idiomatic expressions. Of course my French teacher was the one teaching the class (not the current one at the high school).

I think this means I miss French. Or my French teacher. Or both. :)

03 December 2011

Bring an Orphan Home (and maybe win something)!

Maybe you've heard of Reece's Rainbow; maybe you haven't. What they do is awesome and is changing the world. But I'm not even focusing on that.

There's a giveaway going on for a couple of the orphans on that website who already have families committed to them. You can win some awesome stuff and help bring children home to their families! A donation of only $10 gets you an entry. But of course you can give more.

We aren't all called to adopt, but we are called to care for orphans. Let's do this! :D

01 December 2011

WALKING!

video
Taken minutes ago. Can you believe it?!?

Gungor

is enjoyable. It's honestly hard for me to find overtly Christian (as in about Christ, not just made by Christians) music that I really enjoy. But I enjoy Gungor. Thought I'd give a shout-out. Here's their site.

Application: Check!


Yes, I took a picture of our application to adopt. I was excited! This marks our first concrete step (and first amount of money spent) towards bring Baby A (A for adopt) home! We so excited! Or I'm really excited; Stephen's pleased. ;-)

Also, welcome to our kitchen, apparently.

29 November 2011

Sweetened Condensed Milk

Srsly, what is this stuff? I mean, I only have one recipe that calls for it, but I don't enjoy feeding people I like weird things. Anybody seen/come up with a substitution/make-your-own for this goop?

In other news, I'm making up my own potato soup recipe this week. Wish me luck!

25 November 2011

Love

So yes, I watched Breaking Dawn with some friends Sunday night. And I'm not saying Bella + Edward = my idea of what love should be, so let's all just calm down, take a deep breath, and unclench our fists.
Okay.

One thing Stephenie Meyer does know (and I think portrayed well) is motherly love. I mean, it's not a rational thing. Or, rather, it's trans-rational. It's not irrational; it has its own logic. This "I can do this" babbling aside, of course Bella is willing to risk her life, to die, to give her baby life. As a mom, it's kind of an "of course." I know I would die any day of the week for Ezra. And I undergo annoyance, pain, exhaustion, frustration, limitation and constraints I never thought I would be able to bear because I love him. I am willing (beyond what I honestly thought possible for how selfish I am) to sacrifice my life because... because Ezra... is. He doesn't have to do anything. He just is. And it's enough.

Stephen and I were talking about experiences we wanted to have before we died. And almost all of them (I think there was one exception) involved our future children (for me, at least). There's just something about being with Ezra that is wonderful (except when it sucks, of course). But he is wonderful. And he's not even trying. I cannot think of being able to talk about Jesus with him without tears welling up in my eyes. I cannot wait to have him as a brother as well as a son. What a beautiful life God has given me. What an amazing day that will be.

This is so helpful for me to be able to understand the Lord's logic. Why does He do what He does? I think of His mother-heart (as well as His father-heart; I'm just not a father, so don't get your knickers in a twist), and lots more makes sense. Yes He delights in me; yes, His mercies are new every morning; yes, He really does always want to spend time with me. Of course He binds up the broken-hearted. Of course He won't snuff out the smoldering wick. Of course He (gleefully) tramples the enemies of His children. He's the original mother and the perfect one. 
Help me accept Your love more and more, Lord. I want to be just like You.

24 November 2011

Thanks

So I didn't do the 30 days of thankfulness because I'm the kind of person who won't do something just because it's a "thing," even though that's sometimes (like in this case) a stupid reason because the thing is a good thing. [I'm not proud of it, but I know it's there. I'm working on it, okay?]

But today's Thanksgiving, so I'll say one. I'm thankful for our child's birthmother. Wherever she is (possibly pregnant with him/her already), she's choosing (or will choose) to carry our child, to give him/her life, that we may be able to love him/her with the fierce joy that is parenthood. Our little one's birth mommy loves him/her enough to allow her body and her life to be forever changed by this baby.  Relinquishing a child is not easy. I will always be humbled by the way God makes families - how He uses us. He redeems everything.

Who knows the circumstances surrounding our child's relinquishment? God. His plan will be beautiful, even though it's sure to be messy. We are here, Lord. Our hands are open in praise. You make beautiful things out of dust.

23 November 2011

Family Pics

Our friend Jenni Olowo of Reflections Photojournalism took a few family pictures for us, and how cute are we? I mean, I'm just sayin'!


Jenni's done some beautiful work with our engagement photos.


And we're equally happy with these! [The jury's still out for Ezra, as you can see above]


We may or may not have only taken about 15 minutes for these pictures...

...which was plenty of time for her to get some great shots.

Thanks, Jenni! I'm so glad I have talented friends! Hope I can someday bless you in turn. :)
[And if you, reader, want some great pictures, feel free to email Jenni O]

22 November 2011

Crawling Maniac

So this video is from a couple of weeks ago, but I wanted to display his pretty great crawling skillz. I also wanted to show how cute it is that he kind of pounds the floor with his hands - is this an all-babies-do-that thing? So cute.
video

One of my very favorite things to shake my head at is that he's started to try and crawl away from us (as in run away but crawling). Nice try, little boy. We have at least a couple of months before you're faster than us. I hope.

09 November 2011

How Many?


I know it's heavy, and I don't want to be too serious (look, I have some broken places. If'n you haven't noticed...), but for real. When I think about my children being the exact same as these children, it gets real.

Let's rise up.

08 November 2011

Snotty Baby

video

While he doesn't have a cold or a fever, Ezra has been dealing with MAJOR snot the past few days. I thought I'd upload this video of him mouth-breathing, with snot coming down his face, trying to steal the camera from me. Because he's my son and it's my job to be able to embarrass him when he's 13 (assuming he's got good self-confidence and is also embarrass-able).

Enjoy!

05 November 2011

The Waiting

So, if you know me, you probably know I am crap at waiting. I mean, constant pout-fest. Whining, tantrums. Srsly, I'm actually still three years old.

So this semester has been a time of waiting. Waiting on Stephen; waiting on the Lord; waiting on myself. It is said that hope deferred makes the heart sick and I've been feeling that. I also know a certain pastor John who says, "the problem with persevering is that it feels like persevering."

I was pleased that the Lord gave me the hint that this was what my semester was going to look like. I am grateful He gave me the warning; who knows how my behavior would have been if He hadn't! Just bein' real...

But on Tuesday, the Lord (and Stephen) assented to my desire. And it has (no joke) felt just like my birthday every day since. What's even better (and what made the waiting, in my mind, even harder) was that the longing of my heart is also a longing of the Lord's (I believe). So it is a tree of life.

I can't wait to share more with you, but I'll leave you with this: November is national orphan awareness month. Srsly, think about your parents (by parents, I mean the people who raised you). Sure, they have flaws - some niggling, some serious - but you'd rather have imperfect parents than no parents at all, right? For almost all of us, we can at least find something for which we are profoundly grateful. My parents have loved me through some really difficult and self-inflicted trials. They stuck by me and tell me how proud they are of me. They gave me everything I had going into my marriage (except for a coffee table and a bust of Napoleon; those I bought with money I earned). I cannot imagine growing up without them. Or a family at all.

162 MILLION children in this world don't have parents. If you take God seriously, this means something to us. Let's care.

27 September 2011

Noodle Stir Fry à la Our Best Bites

I'm always on the look-out for something non Tex-Mex. Because everything I ever make ever ever is Tex-Mex. I'm good at it. We love it. But I've been full of ennui in regards to my culinary habits. Which means I was stuck in a rut. [Ennui is a great, great word.]

In comes Our Best Bites. Whom I love (even though we don't always agree). This noodle stir fry really was quick. And tasty. And I'm pretty picky about my sauces (especially Asian ones; I went through a three year period where I could not eat any type of Asian food.) but this one was yummy.

The only thing I cannot vouch for is putting cilantro or lime juice or sesame seeds on. Or adding chicken. I've been trying to help us lower the amount of meat in our diet without the hubs noticing. So far, so good. I didn't miss the meat, nor did I miss the lime or the cilantro or the sesame seeds. In my oh-so-humble opinion, the wonderful women at Our Best Bites are little too in love with cilantro and lime juice. I love me some cilantro, but (if you remember the Asian Lettuce Wrap debacle) sometimes you have to know when to say, "no."

Seriously, the next time you're at the grocery store at 5:30 and you're already kind of hungry, this is great. I will add a caveat that I only allow myself to buy one specialized ingredient per meal (sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, red chili sauce), and this one has quite a few if you don't make Asian food ever. But I had everything but the red chili sauce. I'd estimate that it came out at LESS THAN $1 PER PORTION! Pretty sweet.

Seriously, again.

13 September 2011

Remorse

I know you know. The worst things you've done in your life, the things for which you feel most shame, are not the things you've done by yourself in secret.

Oh, maybe they are. They just aren't for me. I don't wish I was the person I was before I let Jesus "take the wheel" so to speak (oh, let me use it), but I don't fear the person I was, like she's a zombie out to get me. I think my conversion experience (if you want to call it something, that's as good a phrase as any) was defined enough to free me from worrying that I'll ever slip back into my old rags.

I don't really even regret the things I did and allowed to be done to me. I feel very, very strongly that God is in the process of redeeming everything in my life. Every single thing. That all of it will actually work for my good. It sounds oddly boastful to say, and I'm not sure why, but I just believe it. Like my everyday life shows that I believe it. So I almost never mourn my past.

But oh, if only I could undo the damage I've done to others. Which is very great. I've... oh, I'm not going to list out things because it may shock people, and it brings me pain. But I have gleefully invited people into sin. Sins they hadn't tried before. Sins they were even reluctant to try at the outset. Sins some are still heavily entangled in. I've participated in the first steps down steep slopes for several people who are precious to God and who are not out of where I lead them. I did it. mea maxima culpa.

If tying a millstone around my neck and dropping me into the ocean would really, truly mean that they would instantly and irrevocably fall in love with Jesus, I think I would do it. But of course, it doesn't work that way. Oh, I wish it did.

Sometimes I get nervous about how it will go with me on the day of Judgment. I mean, I don't think my actions preclude my salvation. But how can there not be something, something that shows that I helped a lost soul run farther away from their moment of salvation? How can God's justice not be served on me? Is it weird that I want some form of punishment, just to release me?

I don't necessarily need doctrinal illumination at this point (but if you just have to, you can email me. It could prove useful). I just dread seeing these people on that day.

I know what it's like to have a child and to want him to lead a holy life because it keeps him from suffering more than he needs to. It keeps him from harming himself. And it brings him closer to the best Person I or he will ever meet. And I know exactly how I'd feel if '04Michelle showed up in his life when he was 17 and confused about how life works and what was important to him. I'd have more than words to say to that girl. I feel like a mama hippo protecting her baby from a crocodile (seriously, just writing about it raised my blood pressure and heart rate and made me... angry. I was angry about an impossible hypothetical situation). And the rub is, God loves these people I called my friends way, way more than I can possibly love Ezra. How can He look the other way when I did what I did?

Don't worry about me. I'm okay - I know God's grace and His sovereignty enough to know He's more powerful than my pitiful wickedness. I had ground myself into dust at the bottom of a deep pit, and He brought me into a spacious place and has given me joy. Such joy. Nothing is impossible for God - I see it in my life. I just don't know how it's gonna go down at the end so that I can finish this mourning for the consequences of my actions that others face. I know it will happen because there won't be any mourning in Heaven. I just can't picture being fully free from the knowledge that I engaged in evil. That I harmed others. And I did. And I can't take it back.

10 September 2011

Some Grammar Hints

So I'm kind of neurotic. As in my test scores show I'm one of the more neurotic people you'll ever meet. It's tempered by Jesus, thank Him. But still.

This little quirk can benefit me (I've always done well with grammar, punctuation, and word usage. Spelling has been the bane of my life. For example, I just spelled bane as bain and then had to go look it up. *sigh*).

That being said, I have some helpful hints. :-)

Alot vs. A Lot:
-alot is not a word. It may help to change the pronunciation of this misspelling to alut in your mind. It's what I do automatically, and can get kind of irritating, but, if you struggle with this, it may very well help. Also maybe think of it in your mind as a noun, as some funny blogs have illustrated. [I will say that I type with one hand quite frequently while holding or nursing a baby and, therefore, don't feel bad about not capitalizing my comments on Facebook. I do still use apostrophes; they aren't optional. They just aren't.]
-a lot is a phrase that modifies a verb. As in, "I sing a lot." You cannot sing an alot. They don't like it.

Along vs. A Long:
-along is a preposition. A preposition modifies another part of speech in order to clarify. If I just lost you, know this: if you can roughly exchange the word along for beside, you're using it properly. Yay! Example: "Along the coast of Texas are a bunch of unimpressive yet lovable beach towns."
- a long is a phrase that modifies a noun. As in "a long way" or "a long beard." See the difference? You cannot say "Bob has along beard" any more than you can say "Bob has beside beard."

Y'all vs. Ya'll:
-ya'll does not exist. Please stop using it. You'll immediately lose five pounds and your hair will be instantly shiny and healthy and the skin on your elbows will never be dry and scaly again. Just say no to ya'll. If you'd like some explanation, let's review how contractions work (in English, at least): the apostrophe takes the place of the letter(s) you remove. As in don't, where the o is replaced by the apostrophe and the two words are contracted into one. If we are forced to make a contraction out of ya'll, I posit that it should stand for yam will. Example: "The ya'll grow in their season." or "The roasted ya'll be delicious tonight!"
-y'all is the proper contraction of you and all. If you say it isn't proper, then please try explaining to me why shan't is.

Anyway vs. Any Way:
-anyway is an adverb (it modifies verbs). If you want to make sure you're using it correctly, exchange anyway for regardless or nevertheless. Example: "I cannot win this game. I will win it anyway." You can also use it at the beginning of the sentence for that awkward segue we've all come to know and love.
-any way is a phrase that includes the noun way. If you want to make sure you're using it correctly, exchange way for means, manner, or direction. Example: "I will win this game any way possible. Unfortunately, any way you look at it, we cannot win. "

Clinch vs. Clench:
-clinch is a verb that means "to settle decisively." Example: "The savvy agent clinched the deal just in time for happy hour." It is also a construction-related verb and some nautical/boxing jargon. These are THE ONLY ways you can use this word.
-clench is a verb meaning tightly closed. Example: "My hands were clenched; now they're open."

If this has brought some color to your cheeks, I promise I don't like you less for your terrible, terrible grammar. I fully recognize I have a problem. However, it does make you a better communicator if you say what you really mean to say. I really like to mean exactly what I say, but it seems to be very, very difficult, even when my grammar is not interfering with my intended meaning.

Feel free also to look up the difference between its and it's (hint: just always say "it is" in your head any time you write it's); anytime and any time; your and you're (I believe you can do it right every time!); and the there/their/they're debacle. I know this stuff can be a lot of little rules, but it really will help you communicate with others. And pass your writing-intensive classes. And make your profs view your short answers and lab write-ups more favorably. Seriously.

22 July 2011

Mid-Year Review

So my blogfriend (though we technically met in... '07? '08? through the best Krista I know) ThinkLiz does this great thing where she picks a word for the year. And I stole that thing. My word is rest. See, I posted on it at the beginning of this year. And since holey-crap-it's-late-July-how-did-that-happen, I thought I'd give a mid-year update.

On a scale of 0-5, I'd say I'm at about a 2. It turns out, I wasn't ever good at resting, even when I thought I was. I just had a lot more time to kinda rest. Now that I only get like an hour at the very end of the day to have any sort of me-time, I actually have to try. [I'm not good at trying.]

So becoming a mom was like a slap in the face while having a bucket of icy water thrown on you while falling desperately in love at the same time. And that happened every day for the six weeks after the first two weeks (the first two weeks didn't count for me; Stephen was off or only working part time, and E slept most of the time anyway). This business of getting to do what I wanted was absolutely gone in a way I really didn't understand before. But how can you? Everything in your whole life changes forever. I knew I was selfish before, but wow. Motherhood is crazy. Even if the Lord took Ezra to Heaven, there is no going back to being a not-mom.

Okay, back to rest. I should make it clear that I'm talking about real rest. Not how much sleep I got, but how much I was resting in the Lord - allowing Him to be my strength, leaning on Him, trusting Him, not being all anxious and crazy or lazy and good-for-nothing. I kind of went into a spiritual coma for the first three months. It was a bit like falling down a well on a warm, sunny day. It's somewhat dark and not terribly unpleasant, but you know you can't stay there forever, and it's gonna be hard to get out.

And it has been. I'm happy to say I actually started working on it in earnest a few weeks ago. And now I have genuinely restful days. Maybe one or two a week, but still. I feel so good after those days.

Today was not a restful day. I spent a lot of it frustrated and out-of-love. I think of it like baths. I hated bathing growing up, HATED it. But then I'd step in the shower or bath and never want to get out. But still, when it was bath-time again, I'd put it off as much as possible. And let me tell you, a rag-bath is not a bath. Just like a rag-bath day is not a bath day. You get through both, but one is wonderful and the other just kind of does the job. And yet, even the day after a gorgeous bath day, I'm right back to the rag baths until I get sick of it again.

Okay, I didn't write this to be down on myself. The Lord isn't upset with me; He told me so, and I'd be an idiot to call Him a liar. We're getting out of this together. I have confidence that, at some point in my future, every day will be a bath day for me.

20 July 2011

Taco Soup

Sorry for the vaycay from blogging. I'm just not a reliable person; you're going to have to deal with it.

So I've started this thing where I add up how much a meal costs and figure out how many meals we're getting out of it. Because something may be good, but if it's like 8 bucks a person, it's not very helpful in the long run, you know? It can become a birthday dinner or something of the like.

So I made this taco soup. And it was REALLY good. I also have this thing about making stuff for the first time without a recipe. And another thing where I don't want to taste the dish until we're both eating it. [I get it: that's weird and unreasonable. I do what I want.]

So I did that with this taco soup. I make a pretty mean chicken tortilla soup (I've been trying to recipize my favorite meals I make in desperate hopes that someday, somehow, someone else in this home will know how to cook enough to follow a recipe), so I used that as a rough template. I just had one big, big gamble. Taco soup is made with ground beef, yes? Well I used chicken broth instead of beef broth. I'd never tried HEB's beef broth and was not prepared to lose a good amount of leftovers at the beginning of the week, when I need them most. Of course, after I did this, I thought I could be ruining it anyway with some bizarre beefy-chickeny concoction. I mean, who wants ground beef stuffed inside a chicken breast? That's gross.

I guess that's another reason why I don't taste it. I know I'd just forge ahead with the disaster anyway. But the weird thing was, it wasn't a disaster. And it was relatively cheap! $17 for 8-10 servings (8 if you eat like me; 10 if you eat like I should). That comes to between $2.15 & $1.70 a plate, which is fine for our budget. If you wanna shrink that down by $3.50, don't have the chips. You could fry some chopped corn tortilla strips or something. But seriously, Stephen was bewildered at how good this soup was. I think it was so good he forgot that at least a third of the time I do "my thing," the results are so-so, and probably every one out of five is inedible.

I will give you a recipe, but you're one your own with the spice levels. I don't take pictures of my food because I don't.

Taco Soup

64 oz low sodium chicken broth
1/2 of one of those bigger cans of crushed tomatoes (sorry for the lack of specificity)
4 T butter (actual butter)
1 lb ground beef (I used 93/7 so I didn't have to drain)
1 red bell pepper
2 slices onions (I used one because my husband has a thing about onions)
2/3 cup rice (I used white this time; I'll probably sneak in brown next)
1 cup corn
1 cup black beans (I kind of love "making" my own beans)
2T flour (for thickening)
generous amount of cumin
good bit of chipotle chili powder (I think the chipotle part is really good, but use a good bit more if you're just using regular chili powder)
dash of paprika
lots of black pepper (for the hubs)
couple pinches red pepper (also hubs)
a sprinkling of minced garlic bits (I'd say optional)
a bit of cheddar and
a handful of El Milagro chips (try to find some not-crazy-salty chips) and
1t sour cream for garnish

Whew! That looks like a lot! But it really doesn't feel so bad. It cooks in one pot, so that helps.

1. Melt 2T butter in a large pot of med-med-low heat (my oven's on 3/8, but I have gas (teehee)). Brown ground beef in pot and chop bell pepper and onions while this is going on. Add other 2T butter and add pepper and onions. Saute for a couple minutes.
2. Measure out rice and add. Give it a few hiss-stirs (stir, wait for hissing, stir again), then add beans and corn. Stir a bit.
3. Keep out 1.5-2 cups broth, then add rest to pot. Also add crushed tomatoes and stir. Turn up heat to a healthy medium.
4. Microwave broth to get a warm-but-not-boiling. Measure out a T of flour and get out your awesome tiny whisk (I hope you have one; I love my little whisk! Ezra loves to hold it while I cook. Well, hold it and slobber alllll over it.). Start shaking the flour in a bit at a time while totally rocking your whisking powers. I think I put around 3T flou, but I honestly have no idea. Once you've got some seriously floury broth, add to pot.
5. Add the spices to your heart's content.
6. Walk away for a half an hour. Okay, you may need to occasionally stir.
7. When your rice is good n cooked, you're ready. Get out your most fabulous, gigantic bowls. Fill em up with soup, sprinkle some grated cheese, and roll out the sour cream. I'm not a big sour cream fan, but the dollop is important. So please, do it. I tried to keep the dollop for presentation, but it didn't work out. So I stirred ours in. Srsly, so good.

Lemme know if you try this. Also let me know if you make it better. I love that!

28 June 2011

High-Need?

I've been quietly asking myself this question. Is Ezra just a high-needs baby? Or is this what all babies are like? Or are we doing something wrong?

That may sound drastic, but still. Ezra will be four months old next week, and he still nurses every 2 hours (except at night, where he gives me 4-5 hours). He has a very hard time sleeping for naps, and almost never can sleep away from home unless he's nursing at the same time. He goes from neither pleased nor displeased to wailing in about 90 seconds. And, while we've gotten a type of routine, there's no telling if what worked yesterday to get him to sleep will work today. He also just generally doesn't like to be out of the house, and quickly gets uncomfortable if people he doesn't know hold him (parents and grandparents are excluded, PTL). And, when he gets tired in the evenings, often the only person that will do is Mom, not even Dad. He lasts about 20 minutes in the grocery store before I have to hold him, and then he'll last 15 more minutes before he has had it (which tends to coincide with being in the checkout line).

Is that a normal baby? Because I just don't know. Stephen went digging and found the 12 Features of a high-need baby on Doc Sears' website. Here they are:

1) Intense. Ezra is certainly that. What I love about it, tho, is he's intensely happy as well. The joy of my days are giggling sessions we have from little things like kisses (he LOVES kisses, especially on his tum), to making a crinkly toy crinkle oh-so-satisfyingly, to things only he knows are funny (is it my face? I don't know it I appreciate that...). This is one I don't usually mind except when we're at a wedding in Houston and I don't get to enjoy any of it because Ezra's having a complete meltdown. Things like that. But I'd rather have a baby that laughs than a baby that doesn't cry.

2) Hyperactive. I'm not positive about this one. He does like to do things and does get easily bored (usually. There are some amazing times where he sits in the bumbo on the counter for a good 20 minutes watching me make dinner. He's well away from the edge, so don't fuss.). And he often tries to swan dive as you're holding him, and he's so far hated being in the sling. But he likes to be swaddled and I do still think he genuinely enjoys being held. I'm on the fence with this one, mostly because I don't have any other baby to compare him to.

3) Draining. Well, this one's a bit unfair, isn't it? What first-time, full-time mother isn't frequently drained at the end of the day? I mean, I'm usually drained after I finally get him down at night, but I generally feel pretty good at bedtime. Generally. ;) So yes, he's draining, but I don't think he takes everything he can. There are definitely 20-minute periods of time where he'll play with his toys on his mat, and I don't have to interact with him.

4) Feeds frequently. Oh yes. Definitely yes. But still, he often does well at night. I'd say at least four nights a week he sleeps for four continuous hours before needing to nurse again. But still, I wish he could go three hours, and that never ever happens unless he's been asleep for the majority of that time. It doesn't usually bother me, it's just hard when I'd like to run all my errands in one go, and he can't make it the hour and a half between the end of one feeding and the beginning of the next.

5) Demanding. Again, I'm not sure! If he's bored, he'll usually complain for maybe two minutes before losing it. When he's hungry, it's less, but if I want to, I can often stave him off for about five minutes by holding him and walking around. But he won't cry himself to sleep, or at least not in the fifteen to twenty minutes I've let him wail a few times. He just gets so frantic so quickly if he's hungry or tired. So I'd give a hesitant yes.

6) Awakens frequently. Sort of. He used to sleep much better than he currently does. It's mostly napping that's so hard. But of course, the one or two nights a week where he only goes three and then two hours between nursing, or decides he's up for the day at 5:45 are hard. I don't think he needs less sleep, because he gets inconsolably miserable if he cannot sleep for three or four hours. I just often have to nap with him, and even then sometimes he won't sleep for more than twenty minutes. Is that normal? I have no idea.

7) Unsatisfied. This one I feel is a pretty clear no. If he's unhappy, nursing almost always works, even if playing or walking or singing or swinging or swaddling or driving. There have only been three times now where he was inconsolable, and every time there was a logical explanation for why he was miserable.

8) Unpredictable. Yes. He never ever ever wakes up at the same time, or decides he's tired at the same time, or goes to bed at the same time. Unless by "the same time" I mean within a two-hour time table. And he often messes with my trying to help him sleep, play, and nurse cycle. And almost every bedtime now is an hour and a half of me trying things that have worked previously until one actually gets him to sleep and stay asleep. He also has pretty massive mood swings. I'll frequently take him to the store to get two things, holding him the whole time, and he'll burst into a whole-store-can-hear-you-over-the-music wailfest. And then stop after ninety seconds. Is that common? I mean, I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

9) Super-sensitive. I'd say quite sensitive, not super. Maybe just because I'm a little defensive of him. He has a hard time in loud places, or big places, or not-home places, or places with lots of new things or new people. And, as I've said, he pretty much cannot sleep in a new place unless he's nursing. But he doesn't get upset when Stephen does the dishes (and he does them loudly! But hey, he does them. I'll 100% take it!). But he has done really well with several of his shots.

10) Can't put baby down. Eh. I'm on the fence with this one. He certainly can't be put down for as long as some. He's getting better about playing on his mat or with a toy in the bumbo. But. after the first two weeks, I couldn't just put him on the couch and him be fine for more than a minute, maybe. But he sleeps well in his crib, and the transition from our bed to the crib was bump-free.

11) Not a self-soother. This is 100% true. Ezra cannot yet deescalate himself. Once he starts getting upset, he needs someone else to calm him down. He sometimes enjoys the swing for a short period of time while awake (I think to help him calm down from so much stimulation), and the swing helps him stay asleep during naps, but I no longer can put him in the swing and expect him to fall asleep. Alas, that first month was so nice!

12) Separation-sensitive. Ha! Me or him? ;) No, he is separation-sensitive. If I leave him with the grandparents and go do something, he almost always has been wailing when I get back. I'm sure that will change with time.

I want to add a post script that lets everyone know on no uncertain terms that I absolutely love Ezra. He is exactly who he should be, and he delights me every single day. I know he's already an amazing person. I just want to know how to parent him well!

Okay, this was a massive post. Sorry about that. I'm honestly just insecure. Is Ezra a normal baby, and my lack of structure for him is making his life harder? Or is he just a little higher needs than other babies?

New Mom Syndrome?

I'm not positive why, but I've been in a pretty sensitive mood today. I don't think it's "woman troubles, " but I guess that could be coming back (if so, LAME). It's probably a large mix of a hard, hard weekend, reading a beautiful book on grace-based parenting, and watching a couple of movies in the past couple weeks where a mother and very young child are separated. I'm tearing up just thinking about it.

What would I do? Would I be able to let go of Ezra if it would somehow save his life? Would I survive if the best thing for Ezra was to go be with the Lord at a young age? Do I trust Him with this child? Practically, in real life, do I?

I now understand Jesus said the end days will be terrible for new moms. I thought I new before, but now I do. I know the Lord is so good, and Ezra is so safe with Him, but it is scary. Will I always feel this way? How could that work, with the pain associated with growing up? Surely this feeling will calm a little, right? Is it because he's helpless now? Or do you, as a mom, just get used to feeling this way about your kids? Or am I some sort of freakmom who doesn't know how to correctly view her child?

Surely this isn't how God feels about us? I mean, maybe sometimes. I don't know. For now, I'm going to nurse my son and go to bed with the prayer that the Lord would grow in me His love for E.

20 June 2011

Dance

I watch So You Think You Can Dance. Think what you will of that - I love dance. I'm not positive what exactly it is about dancing, but I have some theories.

I have this thing about joy. I greatly desire it. I love expressing it. I think it is probably one of the fruits of the Spirit that comes more naturally to me. So it makes sense that I love happy music. Not silly music or fake happy music, but music that makes you want to jump around your house like you've gone mad. The best music makes you feel like you're about to burst out of your skin and fly away (in my opinion anyway).

Why is it so hard to dance sometimes? I'm not saying I need to be good at it. I mean, I love watching others dance well, and what the human body is incredible and capable of such beauty. But I'm alone in my house - there's no one to impress. Even if Stephen's home, he's even worse of a dancer than I am (look, it's just true), and he really loves the dancing part of me anyway, so I have nothing to be worried about from him.

It is hard to dance when you're pregnant, or it really was for me, and I think that's really gotten me out of my routine. But I think it's something else. Honestly, I got really down on myself for the way I looked when I was pregnant, and I allowed that negative self-talk to rob me of the gift of enjoying things. Honestly, God has give me so many reasons to dance with joyful abandon. He is so good to me. You really don't know. But I do, when I take a moment to look around me.

I'm going to work on it. If it's true that I can be a channel of grace to others by engaging with the Lord in the ways He's gifted me, I want and need to be practicing the discipline of joy and the very-related discipline of thanksgiving, because what leads to joy but a realistic view of all that He has given?

If you're wanting to start a routine of dancing for joy, I highly recommend Animal Collective's Merriweather Post Pavilion. It's weird, but these guys know how to make really happy music (with fabulous beats). Love.

13 June 2011

Crushes

...on blogs. The thing about my crushes is that they don't last long (and this is across the board; when I wasn't in love with my husband, I would have crushes on guys for like a day or two. Activities hold my attention for a little longer, but not much). Here's hoping I'll continue to pursue both of these activities.

The first one is Our Best Bites. I've cooked several of their recipes, and they are fresh and delicious (and sometimes quite spicy, which is great for my husband). The only downside is that they aren't always meant for young moms - LOTS of chopping involved. Lots. Ezra is often good during the time I need to prepare for dinner, but he can be a bit capricious. So, I've been trying to chop what I can beforehand, during a nap or the night before. Still, I'd love some fresh meals where I don't have to chop/dice/slice 5 or 6 different foods.

The second one is Shabby Princess. Now I actually a little hate "shabby chic" because it takes the cheapness out of household items that look cheap. And I hate lace and rose-printed fabric. I'm a modernist, whatever. The name aside, this website has lots of free downloads for digital scrapbooking that look really great! And they have ones that are good for boys without being trite (look, I don't like football, and neither does my husband. I'm unwilling to presuppose that Ezra will. He may, but it'll be his choice).

So that's that. I've been flirting with Jamie Oliver's cooking, but his recipes use an awful lot of pancetta. Just sayin.

11 June 2011

Laughing!

So, I know not everyone is going to want to watch tons of videos of my baby (I get it; it's okay). But this one is short and SO CUTE!
video
That's the most he's laughed so far. LOVE IT! :^D

07 June 2011

Umm... Eww


Viewer discretion is advised...




Okay, this is what we found on our front door-frame as we left to go see Kung Fu Panda 2 Sunday night:

I used to think cicadas were nostalgic, and I loved to hear them... buzz? hum? And finding their shed exoskeletons was fun when I was little. Whatever. No more nice bug. This thing is a nightmare.

I'm really not sure this picture shows the full horror of a bug slowly shedding its skin in some sort of skin-crawlingly disgusting swan dive. I hope I never ever ever ever see this again. Ever.

On a mildly-related note, we enjoyed our first movie as parents. Stephen thought there was too much action, and I can see what he meant, but I still loved it. and CRIED at one part. But I'm a crier...

05 June 2011

Scrapbooking Attempt #1 (&2)

So, I decided, if I'm gonna do what all the cool kids do, I might as well do it all. But we do NOT have the money for me to run around buying paper and ribbon and cutesie cutouts and buttons and flowers and everything else. So, following MacKenzie's advice, I decided to try my hand at this business.

Two things must be noted. Thing 1: I don't have Photoshop. However, I've already worked with GIMP: slightly less user friendly, but gets all the jobs done that I need. Thing 2: with GIMP, you HAVE to save your work frequently. Being a free program, it sometimes stops working and shuts down. Favorite.

So, attempt #1 was lost after 1.5 hours of labor. Very lame. But after another 1.5 hours, here is attempt #2:

For a first try, I think I did pretty well. Everything (but Ezra) is from Shabby Princess, which has lots of amazing free downloads!!! I LOVE FREE STUFF! Of course, the jury's still out for me - I need to see what this comes back from printing looking like before I'll be fully into it. But it's a fun challenge for me - I'm not very scrappily-minded. But hey, a girl can try. :)

04 June 2011

Oh, a Year Ago.

Going to Mary's high school graduation got me thinking. I got to cheer for some of the students I'd met in previous years through substituting and volunteering at the high school. It was, honestly, bittersweet.

This time last year, I was being interviewed for the teaching position of my dreams. I could teach a subject I love to a group of students I (by and large) really, really enjoy. I already have rapport with many of them, and I was familiar with the program. It was ideal, more than I had hoped for. I hadn't even specifically applied for the position; they had my application for a different position already on file and called me.

This time last year, I was raising support to go on staff with GCM at Fellowship Church. It was one of the most difficult things I'd ever done, and I wasn't enjoying it one bit. It felt like the Lord had called me to do something just so He could make my life difficult. My progress was embarrassingly slow, with a lot of tedious work and not much reward.

This time last year, I was pregnant! I didn't know for certain yet (as of this date), but I was pretty sure.

My life hit a fork last year, and I chose the one I felt very strongly God leading me to. That doesn't mean it hasn't been difficult to give up. I honestly had to make myself stop worrying about the students - if their new teacher would treat and teach them well - and to stop dreaming about what I would have been teaching them.

I would never have wanted to give up the time I have with Ezra, and, when I think back to him being 6 weeks old, I really don't think I would have been able to leave him to go back to work anyway. I'm also very glad that we didn't have the extra salary coming in (forgive my honesty, but teachers in TX are paid more than I am) because it brought me closer to becoming free from the love of money and things. I am glad the Lord wrested things from me, even dreams of a nicer-looking home, financial security, and a fulfilling teaching career.

That doesn't mean my relationship with Him hasn't suffered; it definitely has. I've felt a lot of hurt towards Him. I've thought mean things about Him, honestly, like that He enjoys making my life difficult, or that He'll never give me one dream without taking another. I'm still working at trusting a God who is wild, who takes from me everything I can bear to give up to that moment. I know it's for my good and for His glory. and I know it's my decision, every time, to let circumstances alienate me or draw me nearer. I'm working on it.

The good news at the end of this wandering post is that the Lord and I are in a covenant relationship far more powerful and permanent than the one I am in with my husband (that one only lasts until death). God and I will be together forever. That adds a lot of stability, and gives me comfort. One measly year of a rough patch is nothing in the span of always. As surely as the sun arises, He will restore my soul.

Isaiah 43:19 "See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." I will call upon You, Lord.

27 May 2011

Recipe Review

So, I've been on a food kick (heck, I'm almost always on a food kick). But I find myself all-too-often cooking the same types of things with the same dang spices (as in, do I have b.o, or am I excreting cumin from my pores?).

So, a website was recommended to me (thanks, Rachel!) with lots of good recipes, and by good I mean, a little different for me, but not including wacko ingredients (orange juice in my black bean soup? I don't know about that). So I thought I'd tell you about some of them!

The first one we tried was the Asian Lettuce Wraps. You should check out the pictures on their website, they actually flatter the food. I almost never cook Asian food because it used to make me horribly nauseated. But something happened around my third trimester, and I'm cured!

Anyway, I did a couple of things different from the recipe (you'll quickly notice that I never EVER follow a recipe exactly, even on the first go. My rebellion rearing its head.) - the biggest difference is that I didn't make the drizzling sauce. I wanted to see if they were good enough without this extra step (and the extra calories). Verdict: plenty tasty without! Yay!

The second big change was I substituted romaine lettuce for iceberg. Stephen has nothing but contempt for iceberg lettuce (he honestly will not eat it), and I thought, what the heck? Why not go for something with actual vitamins in it! So romaine it was. Verdict: eh. The big ole vein (what's it actually called? not a stem... a spine? ugh this is how I know I'm tired. I can't remember anything) in the middle makes it a little tricky to roll. I think I also made mine a little full, so that added to the difficulty in eating. If you don't mind iceberg, maybe the ease would be worth it.

The more minor changes: 4 cloves of garlic is a lot in this household. I used two. Verdict: I think I'll do three next time, because I didn't notice the garlic. But hey, garlic is one of those bully flavors; it's kinda nice to make him support others rather than hogging the attention. Two was just fine. I also took out the sesame oil (it wasn't worth it to me to buy just for this recipe) or the mushrooms (blech!). I didn't miss either. I also used chicken breasts that I cut into itty bitty cubes, cause I couldn't find ground chicken while hustling through HEB at 10:30pm. Worked great.

Honestly, when I first tasted my wrap, I thought it was kind of icky - it was too green tasting, like chlorophyll. Then I realized what it was: the cilantro! I took it out and BOOM - SO MUCH BETTER! Verdict: NIX THE CILANTRO. I adore cilantro so much, but in this recipe it's a big no. BUT Stephen didn't notice it or mind. He really loved this dish! We ate on it for several days as well, maybe four meals all-told, which is a huge bonus for me, since the recipe calls for lots and lots of chopping, which means a good bit of time.

All in all? I think this will be added to our monthly rotation. I just need to make sure and chop all the ingredients during Ezra's first nap, including the chicken. Once everything is chopped, it's an easy, yummy, healthy meal. Yay!

One question, though, for you chefs out there: ginger. Am I doing something wrong, or is it just really difficult to mince well?

26 May 2011

So, Mommas

How quickly did you start to get paranoid that you were pregnant again?

How quickly were you pregnant again?

19 May 2011

Food.

So, I'm fasting from sugar. ish. [Don't worry; it's not a brag. You'll see in a sec.]

I made this decision maybe a week before my birthday (May 6th), when I finally started to get fed up with this craving monster addict part of me. I don't know if it's my personality, my body chemistry, or spiritual junk (or all three), but I get easily addicted to things, food definitely being one of them. Sugar is honestly one of my favorite things (when the dog bites; when the bee stings...). And I don't think sugar is the root of all food evil, but I realized I was thinking an awful lot about sugar. Like embarrassingly often. And I don't like to be all creepy with food, but I have a tendency to be a bit idolatrous with it. Or really idolatrous. Which, to me, is even dumber than materialism (also a problem). I mean, come now. Food is for fueling the body, and to bring people together. I do have a "celebratory personality," which is fun (for me at least) and helpful (for Stephen at least). But the downside of that is gluttony and indulgence and a lack of discipline. I do love even the idea of a feast. But sometimes I feel like NoFace from Spirited Away inside. Not a pretty sight. So I decided, from the day after my birthday until the day before Stephen's (July 23rd), no sugar for me. Not a fast out of a desire to please the Lord or even to focus more on Him. Purely to break an addiction that is harming me and my relationships. I'm praying it works; diabetes sounds really unpleasant.

I have since calmed that down a bit. I'm having juice (a glass a day) and will have dessert at birthday parties or weddings (no seconds). No soda, no sweets, nothing like that in the house. That came about because, when around a dessert at a party, I realized I was obsessing about the dessert (come on, a lot of us have done that when we're "trying to be good"). And obsessing while not having it is not any healthier. So I had a small piece and left it at that.

It's kind of embarrassing to admit how weak I am in this area. That, with food, I'm constantly teetering on the brink of being completely out of control. I know there's even more of a stigma for that in our culture than, say, having a hard time controlling how many accessories one wears, or even how often one cleans one's house. And I can remember that a LOT of us Americans (and yes, "us" is correct) have issues with food, either eating too much or too little or both. But still, I feel shame for it. And shame is a big load of crap.

Feel free to pray for my freedom in this area - I know it would be a heavy burden lifted to have freedom in this area. And I feel all the more urgency (spellcheck just let me know urgence is only a word in French) now that I'm a mom. I really, really don't want my children to grow up around my problems with food. I want to model the freedom that is a life in Christ. I want to model a victory that is so victorious that it doesn't even look like effort, because Jesus has already overcome. I want them to know health and joy and creativity and fun with food, why God gave us food in the first place. But I'd like to know those things as well. There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain.

11 May 2011

Music

Okay, I know my music tastes sometimes veer into what others would describe as "wacky." But I think you may find that, once you listen to some songs a few times, they begin to unfold like beautiful, noisy flowers.

Song one: "Last Night at the Jetty" from Tomboy by Panda Bear
This song is so, so catchy. It has the added appeal for me that I had this song on repeat during early labor with Ezra, which was a lovely time. If you can get over the weirder noises in the background, it's a superfun, sunny day song. You can download this song for free, too!

Song two: "Helplessness Blues" from Helplessness Blues by Fleet Foxes
If you like Simon & Garfunkel, or the Beach Boys, or generally good music, you will like Fleet Foxes. I love this particular song because, like most songs that you absolutely LOVE, there's something in the music that just moves you in your heart. This whole album streams free on NPR (love me some NPR!)

Song three: "Beach City/Carol I Know" by Dream Cop
I'm sure you know people remix other people's songs. Most of the time, the results aren't that great. Often the remix is salvaging a not-so-good original. Or the remix is just the song to a different beat, which is usually a worse version of the original. But sometimes people make something new and exciting from previously great songs. I don't like everything Dream Cop does, but this song is supergreat. You can also download this song for free.

Song four: "Cranberry (radio edit)" from Fight Softly by The Ruby Suns
Okay, so I actually listen to a lot of happy sounding music. With harmonies. And fun times. You can also also download it for free. Listen to this song and I dare you to not bob your head or tap your toe.

Song five: "Fiya" from Bird Brains by tUnE-yArDs
This is a video - the song actually starts at about 1:30. tUnE-yArDs is amazing. She has such a great voice and, to me, it's really, really refreshing to see a female indie artist who looks like she actually eats real food. And makes great music. If I ever need a little puff of courage, I ask myself, "Don't you know I breathe in fire, breathe out fire?" It's emancipating in a silly way.

So there you have my current top five "give a listen"s. I think most people will enjoy at least three of these songs.

07 May 2011

Cream of Chick/Mush Recipe?

So I'm working on a database of recipes so I can more easily meal plan (and avoid sending my husband to the store to get the one thing I forgot and that's holding up dinner).

I have quite a few recipes that call for cream of chicken or mushroom soups. I don't mind them, but I was wondering if anyone has a good recipe for making something like them, or giving the consistency of them, that isn't pre-packaged. Does that make sense?

I'm thinking about trying a month of entirely non-processed food planning. We don't eat a ton of processed foods (except sweets, which I am surrendering to the Lord, sigh, moan, tear!). The cream of mush/chick is kind of the main thing holding me back at this point. And the thought of breadmaking... well, we may be eating a lot of paan instead of leavened breads. :) If Stephen absolutely revolts on that one, I'm willing to make an exception for the bread we buy, since it is healthier than paan.

I know I may come across as paranoid, and totally hypocritical (though I don't mean to be critical in the first place) since I love me some happy meals and Sonic drinks), but I do worry what the processing is doing to my insides, and I worry more about what food will be like when my son's 25...

06 May 2011

Birthday (hint: it's mine)

I'm 26 today! It sounds so much older than 25, which is ridiculous. But still. I can't believe I'm 26.

6 years ago, today, I hadn't yet given my life to the Lord. Actually, on my 20th birthday, I took mushrooms with my boyfriend. And I remember specifically realizing that I was looking for something that wasn't going to be found in drugs. I actually realized I was looking for a way to experience God without accepting the truth about Jesus and the consequences of wanting to be with him.

I've never been a "good" person - I never really cared about doing the "right thing" or performing to others' expectations. I thought rules should be in place to keep people safe, and if I thought it was a stupid rule, I wasn't going to follow it, and you couldn't really make me. I've always been very selfish. I mean, I know everyone is to one extent or another, but I really do think I'm exceptionally self-centered. Even now, Stephen's always been more selfless, and most (maybe all) of my friends are as well. I've never been a kind person or a patient person, and I can be very critical and judgmental (as in whoever standardized the spelling as "judgmental" did not understand the connection between spelling and pronunciation).

The point of all that is not how bad I was. It's just that, I didn't choose to follow Jesus because it was the right thing to do, or because God deserves glory and service. I chose to follow Jesus in the dead of night on the drive home (somewhere between Waco and Hearne) because I had exhausted all my other options in filling this need to be with God. He is righteous and holy and awesome and mighty and just, but He's also the Person in whom my purpose originates, and He loves me the way absolutely no one else can. All the longing and yearning, the late night drives and the paintings in my head, the songs I couldn't write but felt in my blood, my whole life was a map to that point. Almost like that point was the singularity on a black hole - everything fed into it, and past it, everything is being redeemed and made new.

I share all this to say a couple of things:
1) All the things I turned my back on, and all the dying I've done and will continue to do, is worth being with God. Having his Spirit to comfort and guide and, yes, even convict. He brings healing and restoration and sanctification (i.e. every day, I'm less of a corpse and more of a phoenix).
2) The "crazy" things I did when I was young are not nearly as difficult or momentous or life-changing or... or precipitous as the things I'm doing now, even though I'm just a wife and mom and part-time college "minister." I never expected for me to be where I am now, six years ago. I would've dreaded the thought, actually. But my plans were crap compared to this.
3) My birthday always reminds me of that time in my life. Not the time Stephen left a recording of a love song he wrote for me at the beginning of our relationship. That was so sweet, but my marriage isn't the main relationship in my life. God is my lord, and He owns my heart. My romance with Him has been much longer and will last literally forever. God loves me perfectly and it's this relationship that has caused the most change in my life, and which will always ultimately define me.

God made me, and He made me to be with Him. Thanks for the birth, Lord, and thanks for being who You are.

03 May 2011

Nap Time

Ezra has the darndest time sleeping during the day. He'll be so tired (and grumpy, with his cute little pouty face), and I'll nurse him laying down, so he doesn't even have to move, and he'll still wake up after fifteen minutes. Several days he's done that for three or four go-arounds until I just give up.

I'm assuming it's because we don't really have a routine. I usually get up whenever he wakes up. Sort of. What I mean is, he'll nurse around 7:30-8:30, and I'll try and have sleepy cuddle time with him to get some more shut-eye. And he'll accept sleepy cuddle time for anywhere until 9:30 to noon, even. Noon is pretty extraordinary, but 10 or 10:30 is pretty common.

Should I be a little more structured in getting up? It hasn't really occurred to me to do so until the past couple of weeks. It's hard to know when he should be wanting a nap since we get up at a different time every day. He's settled into going to bed around 9pm, but other than that, we both kind of play the day by ear.

Do you think the lack of structure is hard on him? I kind of figured he'd establish his own little routine, but I'm not sure if I'm hindering it, or if he's like his momma - a by-the-seat-of-his-pants flyer.

The other thing that's hard is what will work to get him to sleep one afternoon won't work the next. Often he'll just fall asleep while I'm holding him. But sometimes he just won't. Sometimes it takes putting him in the swing. Sometimes it takes horizontal nursing and leaving him where he is. Sometimes he sleeps for three hours, and sometimes I can't get him to sleep more than fifteen minutes at a time. Is this normal?

What do you do to put your little one down? Did s/he establish his/her own schedule?

02 May 2011

Pink and Blue (and Yellow, too)

So baby clothes and baby accessories and all this baby junk. (I love cute little baby stuff. I'm totally a hypocrite.)

I have several onesies that are "gender neutral" - no footballs or lace - and I prefer it that way. Ezra was in a banana-yellow onesie at HEB the other day, and the cashier assumed he was a girl (she couldn't see his face, so it must've been the color, unless he somehow has girlish limbs). Since when do colors belong to either sex? Yellow's a fabulous color - not really on Ezra right now (not the right skin tone for banana) - but it's vibrant and cheerful and full of fun, just like my little boy.

I thought about being defensive out of feeling embarrassed that I had tripped up on our social mores, but I think that's just stupid. He had a clean onesie on, and I'm glad for that. It didn't have holes in it, it kept him not too hot and not too cold, and it even had a little embroidered palm tree wearing sunglasses on the front. The only way it might be better suited for a future daughter is if she has less yellow in her complexion. Just saying. They're babies.

Can we take a step back? Even past my own weird, budding need to be seen as a good mother (I'm just saying, I'm not normally this). How dare we as a society be so nitpicky about babywear, for Pete's sake! Babies and toddlers and children and youth and adults are dying of starvation, inadequate sanitation, and lack of shelter. I am NOT going to be embarrassed because it's 95 degrees outside and my baby's only in a diaper. I am NOT going to be embarrassed because his onesie doesn't have footballs on it. I'm not even going to be embarrassed of his pink diaper cover or his (hideous) little pink socks.

I want my son to be empathic, compassionate, strong-willed, pure of heart, and confident in who God has made him to be. I want for him to be comfortable in his skin. He doesn't need to be intelligent, athletic, outspoken, or anything but what God has made him to be. It took me a couple decades to even begin realizing I shouldn't feel bad for how I was made; I should take pleasure in the talents He's given me, and trust and walk with Him in the areas in which I'm weak. The abundance and the lack in me both rest within the Lord because I belong to Him. All of me does.

I want my son to delight in the Lord; I know the Lord is delighted with him already. And I certainly don't want shame introduced into his life by me! Lord, I need Your strength to overcome the lies I've believed about myself. I need You to overwhelm my brokenness and keep it from Ezra. Please, out of the tenderness of Your mercies, break this chain.

28 April 2011

The Only Kind of Shopping I Do Now

Groceries and cooking (and going anywhere) are a lot more complicated now. Some days I'm only missing one ingredient to make dinner, but I just can't get to the store before it's time to have dinner ready.

So, I'm working on meal planning (with which I've previously done a terrible job). So far, my idea is to make a spreadsheet, with meals we both like and the ingredients it takes to make them. Then I can decide what we'll have for maybe two weeks (that's probably only five meals for us) and voila! I have a ready-made shopping list.

Of course, I have NO idea if this will actually work for us. I just get really irritated that I consistently forget something at the store because Ezra decides he's hungry right then, and I get all frazzled trying to hurry out of the store.

What do you do for meal planning?

27 April 2011

Here's To...

All the sweet, funny, and endearing times we have with our little ones that we'll never tell them about because they involve breastfeeding. Love you, Ezra.

26 April 2011

More Cloth

Stephen's a great diaper changer and totally on board with cloth (I think seeing us go through those two big boxes of diapers in two weeks kind of shocked him). I'm glad to now I'm at least not very much contributing to our landfills (I have disposables for if we're going to be gone from the house all day, or if I forget to pack the diaper bag). And I'm glad I'm saving us money, especially if we want 4 kids. And he got bad diaper rash almost immediately after he was born, and since we've been using cloth and cloth wipes, he hasn't had any problems with it. So I'm glad our Little Bit's benefitting from cloth as well.

I do occasionally swipe him with the GroVia magic stick when his bottom looks a little red, but he used to get so upset when we'd change him, and now he's bright-eyed and happy. So happy, in fact, that sometimes I strap him onto the table and go change over the laundry or do some other task that requires two hands. For some reason, he's okay on the changing table when he's not okay being put down on other surfaces (maybe it's the nakedness). I think I'll continue to purchase prefolds the next size up while he's in diapers - they last forever, you know? But I don't know how it works at night when he's older, with doublers and such.

Sometimes it does feel like I'm doing at least a load of laundry a day (not true), but I don't think it's much harder than disposables; I'd still have to buy them and store them and refill them and dispose of them.

25 April 2011

Cloth

He's been in cloth diapers since he hit 2 weeks. I think I may start our next baby "right away" (depending on Ezra's potty training prowess), assuming he or she is as big as Ezra and we don't get big boxes of newborn diapers. I have lots of prefolds and 6 or so Thirsties duo covers, and 6 Flip diapers with I think 14 inserts. I have one GroVia cover with three inserts, but I don't like it right now - he keeps leaking out the sides, so I guess his thighs aren't big enough yet.

Honestly, I like the prefolds and the covers best. I read some complaints about the inserts in the Flip sliding around, so I sewed snaps in the back of the covers and on the bottom of the inserts. But he still usually gets poopy on the cover. Though, to be fair, he often gets poop on the other covers too. Perhaps he's a forceful pooper. But the prefolds are slimmer (for a while, at least), and I'm having some problems with the Flips leaking at the thigh seam, and, let me tell you, seeing poopywater on your pillow after you nurse is upsetting.
Or it is to me.

I've already had to bleach his cloth cause I couldn't get the smell completely out. It may be because I only have to wash them every three, sometimes four days. Or it could be because I don't spray off the poop. It all depends on when we run out of covers. I'd love to hang dry them every so often, but we don't have a fence, and people literally traverse our yard to get to the street behind us. And I'm sure noone would steal diapers, but we can't afford to replace all our diapers. So for now, the dryer will have to do.

24 April 2011

Oh, Being a Mom...

I know he's cute, but I think we think he's much cuter than he must really be, because I can never capture the fullness of his cuteness on camera. Honestly though, that doesn't really matter. He's enchanting to me and to Stephen. The most enchanting, wonderful little tyrant ever. When he's happy, the whole world is a good and wonderful place. When he's unhappy, the whole house is unhappy. It's hardest when he decides he's famished when I'm out somewhere, and I can leave immediately but I still have to drive that awful, wailing drive home. I guess that's where I most feel my new mommy nerves.

Well, that and making the college students wash their hands before they hold him. It's a little uptight, but honestly. College students come into contact with A LOT of germs. And they often come to homegroup or church kind of sick, or contagious and not yet knowing it. And how often did you wash your hands when you were a college student? [How often do you wash them now, eh? Think about poor, immunocompromised babies before you sneeze and touch a doorknob.]

I try not to dwell on these things. So far he's only had a temperature once, and, apart from nursing the whole night (I exaggerate; I got 15-20 minutes in between. From 6pm to 1am. Just saying, a lot of nursing, and consequently, many diaper changes), he was in good spirits and didn't look sick.

23 April 2011

Potty Plus

His poopies are still greenish - I'm told this is because he gets a lot of watery foremilk - but he's growing enough that we aren't worried. His tummy goes out sideways, like this (.) [the dot's his belly button], giving him a froggy tummy. It's so cute! But he doesn't poop all night and then really lets loose in the mornings (poor Stephen). I think he honestly tries to poop while he's undiapered on the changing table. When I try to wait until he's done pooping, I'll often forget that he ever went. So maybe only waiting one or two minutes isn't long enough, but I don't remember for ten. I'd rather him poop on the table than sit in his poop for an hour.

He's been pretty awake since maybe week three or so - eyes wide open for an hour or two several times a day - and his eyes are still blue. We'll see about that, though. His hands are often open now. His swiping at things is getting more intentional, it seems, and he's already grabbed my hair. He gets his hand to his mouth to gnaw on it much more often lately. I don't know what it looks like for him to "find" his hands and feet, so I don't know if that's happened yet.

I also don't know if this is normal, but he's always been able to hold his weight on his legs, usually when he's upset (gassy? I think...). He often does it for quite a few seconds, now up to maybe a half a minute. I know one baby book I read said they're not supposed to be able to do that yet, but he can. It also seems like a favorite to thrash his head around when he's hungry. This is a very unfortunate thing when Stephen's holding him, because nothing on Stephen is soft, and it always makes Ezra so upset to crash onto Stephen's collar bone or shoulder bone or cheek bone or jaw bone.

22 April 2011

Sleep

Everyone asks about sleep. Well, he started out sleeping well, at least three hours, usually four, sometimes five, and occasionally six. We had one night where he slept eight hours straight, but that was following a very hard day where he didn't get enough sleep (poor, miserable baby!). So we typically go to bed between 11 and 12, depending on when he nurses, and I wake up once in the night to feed him.

Ezra sleeps with us. I've experimented with him sleeping right up next to my tummy (a la in utero) and with him sleeping in a cosleeper bed that fits between Stephen and me. It seems like he currently sleeps better in the bed - I have a theory that he can smell me and is reminded of how nice it is to nurse, so he starts wriggling about trying to see if he can get a snack - but it just could be that I sleep better when he's in the bed cause I don't feel the wriggling. I dunno. The only problem is he's already able to touch the end of the bed thing. I've started to put him in diagonally, to make it last longer.

Stephen wears ear plugs so Ezra doesn't wake him up (he's a hard sleeper, lucky...), then gets up between 7 and 8:30 - again, depending on when Ezra nurses - and takes him into the front part of the house so I can sleep. Ezra usually wakes up after "breakfast," so it's good that he has someone to interact with besides sleepy Mom. When Stephen goes to work, usually at 10, he brings him back into our bedroom and Ezra and I have sleepy cuddle time. I can usually get him to drift back off to sleep with me for a while. So, I'm not hurting for sleep, though I can tell I'm not as rested as I could be. I'm assuming this is because my sleep is interrupted.