Sunday, December 20, 2009

Food for Christmas Thought

I read a book several years ago called Beyond Survival: Building on Hard Times by Captain Gerald Coffee. The book is Coffee's story of his seven-year captivity in a Vietnam prisoner of war camp. One part has stayed with me through the past five or so years and I wanted to share it with you this week. Coffee writes about being alone in his prison cell on Christmas Eve, making little Christmas ornaments from small pieces of candy foil:

In the yellow light my little ornaments glowed and twinkled softly as they bobbed and rotated slowly in the chilly air. And I was immedieately struck by the satisfying simplicity of my Christmas.
I thought more about the birth of the Christ Child and the simplicity of the Nativity. There was nothing to distract me from the pure awesomeness of the story of Chirst's birth--no materialism, commercialism, no food, presents, or glitz. Just me and that little baby....
Everything by which I had measured my identity was denied: my rank, my title, uniform, clothes, money, car, the trappings of my religion. It was just me left--my flesh, bones, intellect, and soul....
I realized that although I was hurting and lonely and scared, this might be the most significant Christmas Eve of my life. The circumstances of this night were helping me to crystallize my understanding of my journey within to find God there, and thereby to see Him everywhere.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Christmas from head to TOES!!!

Today my dad paid for mom, Whitney, and I to get our toes done for Christmas! We all got variations of canycane stripes. These are mine!

For those in the Abilene area, go to Shannon Leija at Vendetta's Salon...she's the best!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

No Fear of Gravity

He tries to crawl off the end of the bed. He tries to jump from our arms to the floor. He tries to climb things that are very unstable. My son has no fear of gravity. Today I caught him just inches from the floor as he dove headfirst from my lap. For a moment, there was a breathless silence in the living room as Jon and I tried to still our racing hearts. In another moment the silence was broken by Benjamin's laughter. Evidently, he enjoyed his lap bungie jumping experience. Oh, dear. I just keep thinking of all the things that could happen--cuncussion, broken neck, broken nose. I have an extreme fear of gravity.

I wonder: is this what we do with God the Father? Sit calmly and safely in His lap and then just decide on a whim to dive recklessly toward the ground? How many times has God just caught me by my ankles? And, on the other hand, is there something I can learn from Benjamin? He has total faith in his own safety when in our arms, even though he is really not all that secure (I almost dropped him today when he dove from my lap). Shouldn't I have that much more confidence in the One who has never dropped one of His children and never will. Nothing can snatch us from His hand, not even gravity.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Thomas Nelson Book Review of Called To Worship by Vernon M. Whaley

Called To Worship by Vernon M. Whaley

Called To Worship tells the story of worship from Genesis through Revelation and highlights principles of worship throughout Scripture. Each chapter begins by telling the story of worship in a particular portion of Scripture in a storytelling format and ends by offering practical guidelines in a section called "Principles of Worship."

This is the kind of book that I call a "start and stop" book because I put it down and mull it over for a while before moving on to a new chapter. It had so many things to consider and offered many opportunities to reflect, pray, and consider worship in my own life. I feel like the author's heart for leading people in a lifestyle of worship really comes through as well as his obvious passion for just praising God in many ways.

My only complaint is that it feels long and sometimes repetitive. It was a hard book to just sit down and read straight through. I think it would be a good study to work through with a group at a slow pace. The only people I will be likely to recommend it to are worship leaders or people who are deeply interested in the subject.

Monday, December 7, 2009

These Days

Benjamin takes a bath in the big bathtub.

I am baking cakes, pies, and breads to earn extra money for the holidays. This one was a sunflower birthday cake for a friend's sister.
We are celebrating the season with our traditional tree (last year we did the tree as an "It's A Boy!" theme all in blue).

And our favorite ornaments.

(The ones I made for our very first tree our first

year married)

(The moose and goose ornaments, of which there

are several, which represent our pet names for one


(The one we found in our front porch planter one
day last year to celebrate finding out. Thanks, Meg!)

Actually, I love most of my Christmas ornaments. I didn't hang some of my favorites up this year because of the nine-almost-ten-month-old crawling around my house. But I did get them out and look at each of them before packing them back up for next year.

We did find a new place for our creche.

(The whole reason we celebrate this wonderful season!)

Things not pictured:

I am writing. Working hard on a couple of children's book manuscripts and looking for parents/teachers who would be willing to read them and give me some feedback. Let me know if you are interested.

And, at a time of year that is so joyful for us we are praying for the grace to be mindful of those for whom this holiday brings sadness. For those who have lost so much that is so precious, we are truly sorry and our hearts are tender toward you. Most of our prayers are for you.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Watched Pot

It is deliciously cold out. Benjamin and I took a two and a half hour snuggle nap on the couch in front of the lit Christmas tree. When we woke up, I turned on the little gas heater in the bathroom (God bless old houses that still have these!) and gave Benjamin a bubble bath. Then I powdered and lotioned and dressed him in a little sweatsuit. We headed to the kitchen. He banged on a little stainless steel mixing bowl with a little wooden spoon while I mixed up hot chocolate mix.

1 8qt. box of dry milk
6oz Hazelnut flavored powdered coffee creamer
1 16oz. box of Nestles Quik
1 cup of powdered sugar
1 tsp of cinnamon
(you will never use instant hot chocolate packets from the store again!)

When it was all mixed up, I poured the powdery goodness into a large tupperware and stuck a 1/4 cup measuring cup in the top to serve as our hot chocolate scoop for the season. What's missing? I thought. The Doris Day Christmas Album. What a delightful day!

Later in the afternoon, while Benjamin napped, I heated up the tea kettle for my third (you read that right) cup of hot chocolate. I didn't want the whistling tea kettle to wake the baby, so I watched it. I was just starting to squirm, wondering why it was taking so long for the water to boil when I remembered what they say about a "watched pot."

Suddenly I felt the Holy Spirit say to me: Kristi, you are a watched pot. When people are watching you, you have it all together. You are organized, calm, serene, and quiet. But sometimes, when no one is looking, you start to bubble and boil with the emotions you keep just beneath the surface.

At first I thought it was unfair of God to give me a rebuke like that on a day when I was doing just great without anyone watching. But then I realized, He needed to find me in a quiet place to give me this message. May be He needed me in a good mood so I could recieve it without whining. I need to give my emotional life into God's keeping, to allow Him to finally heal the wounds created years ago by the death of a ministry, to trust Him to take me anywhere He desires despite the pain of the past.

It hurts my pride to share this post with you. I don't know why God seems to encourage me again and again to share the worst parts of myself on this public blog. I would so much rather have ended this post with Doris Day singing and hot chocolate bubbling, but I felt compelled to tell the rest of the story for some reason.

Friday, November 6, 2009


The chicken is in the oven, Benjamin is asleep in his own crib (hallelujah!), I am almost finished with what I am sure is a near perfect apple pie, and Rich Mullins is on the media player. Mmmm.

Then the next door dog barks, I mean yips. Have I told you that I hate the next door dog? Have I told you that it is tied to a tree very near to my baby's bedroom window? I start to fantasize about the dog finding a new home, far from me. Or about some way to rig the baby monitor to a megaphone so that I can blast the sound of a crying baby into their home the way they project the sound of an unsatisfied pomeranian into mine. Rich Mullins sings, "...ever widening their mercies in the fury of His love....OH, the love of God....OH, the love of God..."

Ouch, God. Those were my toes! Please widen my mercies. Teach me to love my neighbor. And his dog.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Postpartum is Not Hot

I was changing clothes to go to women's group because the shirt I was wearing was covered in drool and mucus (Benjamin has inherited mommy's allergies and his nose has been running nonstop). I was just thinking about the fact that I can no longer rewear clothes before washing them, when I discovered a Cheerio. Stuck to my breast. Nice.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Joys and Sorrows

I know I've blogged about this several times before, but I am once again struck by how strange life is, how the most joyful time in one life is the most sorrowful time in another. Every morning and evening I think of Katy and Scott, the loss of little Carter. I just grieve for them and pray for their comfort. This morning I was drifting in and out of sleep and thinking about a verse somewhere in the Bible that says something about how God will restore the years that the locusts have stolen. I don't know what it says exactly, but I just pray it for them--that someday their joy will be restored and that they can remember Carter with smiles instead of drenching tears. I know it will be a memory that will always hurt. I think about it and I just hold my Benjamin tight and try to treasure the moments we're given. But tonight I am also thinking of another friend. Trish is having her baby girl tomorrow. My joy for her is almost tangible. If you could see it, I think it would look like a room full of bubbles all piled on top of each other and shining multicolored in the light. I can hardly contain myself. But then I think again of Katy and I have no words. I wish I could write an eloquent post tonight, put my thoughts into words you'd read and ponder and keep. But it is beyond me. The joy of the one and the grief of the other are so very real and it is just so hard to reconcile. Do you ever feel guilty for your own happiness? I do. Sometimes I feel like life has been too easy for me and I haven't even really appreciated it. What right do I ever have to complain of anything when there is a Katy who has lost more than I can imagine? I apologize for the rambling nature of this post. My sense of empathy has always been so strong, which can be a gift or a curse. Sometimes I cannot help but try to imagine how a friend is feeling and I begin to fear looking or sounding too happy. What if I blog about Trish's baby and Katy or another bereaved parent reads it and is hurt? Should I even post this? I guess what it boils down to is that loving people is hard and having friends means that you sometimes have the incredible privilege of sharing their joys but that you also feel so keenly the pain of their sorrows. I don't know what I'm babbling about. But tonight I'm praying for both of my friends, the one in the best of times and the one in the worst.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I Am Safety Driver

When I was pregnant with Benjamin, my friend Kelly gave me a car decal that had been translated from Japanese to English to say: Maternity in the car. I am safety driver. It had a symbol for a pregnant woman with a little heart in her womb area. Jon and I thought it was really funny and we enjoyed having it on the back windshield of our car for the final two months of my pregnancy.

I used to gently scold Jon for getting frustrated with other drivers on the road. I'd say things like, "Calm down. He's not necessarily a moron--everybody makes mistakes when they drive sometimes."

Becoming a mom changes everything. I now have road rage. I will yell at drivers even though I know they cannot hear me. I will pull up next to a driver who has just put my child in danger because of reckless behaviour and just glare at him until he looks at me uncomfortably. I will assign the title of moron, idiot, or igmo (a combination of idiot and moron coined by my uncle Tom several years ago) to a person I have never met.

Okay, obviously I'm going to need to work on this with God's help. But seriously, watch where you are going. Use your mirrors and check your blind spots. TURN OFF YOUR *&$# CELL PHONE. And slow down. Some of us are carrying very precious cargo. That's all I'm saying.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Good Wife's Guide

Before I was married, someone gave me a copy of this article from a 1955 issue of Housekeeping Weekly. After we got married, I placed it on our refrigerator where I could see it every day. Obviously, there were some points in it that I disagreed with and one that I actually whited out ("Don't complain if he's late home for dinner or even if he stays out all night."), but I liked the overall idea of adhering to a more old-fashioned code. I desperately wanted to be a "good wife."

If you don't take the time to read the article, you won't understand the depth of my insanity, so please read it. In the intervening years, my eyes have been open to the deception that hung on my fridge for the first two years of our marriage. But in those years, I spent a lot of time breaking down in sobs because I just couldn't live up to "the good wife." I constantly wondered what was wrong with me, why I was so incapable of doing what every woman in the fifties apparently did. I acted like the perfect wife and housekeeper, but I never felt like I really was good enough, and I drove my husband to distraction. How many times did he find me in a heap of tears in the kitchen floor, apologizing for failing him? He always told me that he loved me, that I was exactly the kind of wife he wanted and needed, that I was doing a good job. He couldn't figure out who I was comparing myself to until one night when he saw the article on the fridge and it all became clear. That night he made me get rid of it.

I was so sick I didn't want to throw it away, so I hid it in a book. And that's where I found it recently. I wish I could say that I just laughed at my old self, but it's not funny. The night Jon made me take that deception off of the refrigerator marked a turning point for me. Shortly after that, our pastor's wife asked the women in our Tuesday night women's group to be honest with one another. She said, "Raise your hand if you have ever feared that you might be crazy." I will never forget how scared I was to raise my hand, until I saw with my peripheral vision that almost every woman in the room had her hand up. I thought I was the only one, but we were all struggling with unfulfilled and unrealistic expectations and it was causing us to think we had lost our minds. Somehow the Enemy had distorted our desire to do things well. I was trying so hard to be a good wife that I forgot to honor my husband.

I only bring this up now because I feel like God has recently opened my eyes to the pain in the eyes of other women all around me. They are working hard to be wives, mothers, employees, ministers, etc. and they are desperate for a standard that is unrealistic. They are not casting their cares and concerns on Christ, the only One who can measure up and bring rest. They are depressed, and feeling guilty that they're not happier. And some of the things that lead them on in their deception are disguised as good things. If this is you, I want you to have freedom from the bondage of this lie that you should be perfect, perky, and presentable at all times. So let me tell you what I found out recently. The article wasn't even real! It was created as a hoax, probably in the 1980s and has been widely circulated as an email since that time. The standard I was holding myself to wasn't even a true standard in the outdated time it was referring to!

So before you hold yourself to some crazy standard, examine the source. Is it from God? Or is it just something some fool made up?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

What Katy Said

Hug your baby every day. Don't take anything for granted.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Friends, please pray for Katy and Scott who just lost their little one to SIDS. I don't even know what to is an impossible situation to imagine. Please pray for them.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Haiku Crawl

Today I was reading haiku to Benjamin from the book Yum! MmMm! Que Rico! America's Sproutings by Pat Mora. I guess he just really liked the bright and colorful illustrations by Rafael Lopez because he started reaching for the book like crazy. I didn't want him to touch it because it's a library book (yucky!), so I pulled it a few inches out of reach. The next thing I knew,
he was crawling toward the book as I dragged it further and further away! Crawling! I can't believe he's such a big boy. Jon came in while he was still doing it, but we haven't been able to get him to do it again. At least we know he can!

Anyway, I wrote the following haiku for him:

On your hands and knees
Rock forward, push up, and crawl
Mommy is so proud!

Incidentally, is the plural of haiku still haiku? Or is it haikus?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Boy, oh boy!

One year ago tomorrow we found out our little one was a boy--isn't it funny how time flies?! In some ways it feels like yesterday that we were giddy with excitement in the doctor's office, video tape in hand (we still haven't even converted Benjamin's first home movie into digital form). We named him that same day. It was important to me to have his name, so we could pray for him by name and talk to him and about him by name. We always knew he'd be Benjamin, but we had debated for some time about his middle name. Once we knew he was a boy, we were sure: Benjamin (son of my right hand) Cole (victory of the people).

I must have watched that sonogram video a dozen two days! I just kept looking at his movements, watching his face, counting his fingers, listening to his heartbeat. And now, I really have him every day to watch in person. It's so much fun to see him roll all the way across the room to get to someone or something (no crawling yet). Now, when we tickle him he laughs out loud--a squealing, adorable, fairy-making baby laugh that is to live for. He is fascinated by the movements of his own hands and he sometimes sucks on his big toe as if it is a thumb (it's okay--it's not like he walks on his feet to get them dirty)! He sticks his tongue out and imitates our noises. He even gives kisses (sloppy little licks to the cheek while one hand rests on the other cheek). If he's upset, he'll reach for me and say, "muh-muh." Okay, I could go on and on, but I'll spare you and just say: IT IS SO MUCH MORE FUN THAN I EVER IMAGINED!!! I love my little BOY!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Jonah Day

Anne of Green Gables would have called it a "Jonah Day." Jon is under the weather with allergies. I flooded the kitchen. Again. Second time in a month. And we left the groceries out too long, which caused the pizza dough to bust out of the can. So Jon had to make a second trip to the grocery store to get pizza ingredients so it wouldn't be wasted. We were going to have taco soup for dinner. I kind of felt like Lucille Ball all day.

But it was actually kind of fun in the end. The pizza was delicious--sausage, red and green bell pepper, mushrooms, cheese. Heather was able to watch Benjamin while I cleaned up the kitchen floor, and then we had a nice little chat when I went to pick him up. Benjamin and I took a nice, long, rainy day nap together this afternoon. We have the taco soup stuff all ready for tomorrow. And we laughed at ourselves a lot.

And, as Anne of Green Gables would say, tomorrow is another day with no mistakes in it. Yet.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Two Years

Two years ago today, I started the day giddy with excitement and ended it in drenching sorrow. For so long I tried to see the silver lining to cloudy, gray days and nights. I wrestled with questions and fear and doubt. But God showed Himself in powerful ways. I remember so many times that He showed up for me in tangible ways. I wish I could tell you all about His goodness to me in my time of need, but words fail me. So I will just borrow from others.

Job, after he lost everything, said this to God: I have heard of you by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees you.

And, my favorite passage in all of Scripture: For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will com, when hehands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. Forhe must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

Before I lost April Baby, I thought I knew God but it was only by the hearing of the ear. I had heard of the great things He did for others. But in my own grief, I got to see Him show up for me. My eye saw Him. For me, that is the greatest gift my little baby gave me--because of April Baby, I saw God for myself.

And because of God, through Jesus, I know I will see my baby again when the last enemy is destroyed. Some foolish, well-meaning people have told me that God must have had some reason, that it was in His plan for the baby to die. I do not accept this. I believe death is an enemy, and not part of God's perfect plan for His creation. But I also believe with everything that is in me that Jesus has overcome, that in the end, death will be swallowed up in Life Everlasting. And I believe that He works all things together for my good because I belong to Him, even things that were not meant to be.

Today I am thankful. Two years ago, I wouldn't have thought I could be. I am not thankful for the loss, just for the deepening of my faith that it occasioned. And tonight, I am praying for a young missionary who finds herself in the shoes I was in two years ago. If you pray tonight, pray for Olivia. Pray that God will comfort her in tangible ways, that she will have a deeper faith for walking through this, that God will make all of her future joys brighter because of this time of cloud.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Getting and Spending

"The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!"
--William Wordsworth

Yesterday afternoon I got in line behind at least one hundred people at the Taylor County Expo Center. Then a couple of hundred more people got in line behind me. When the doors were opened at 5:00, we all filed in and started loading up our baskets, strollers, wagons, and shopping carts with so much stuff. It is hard to describe the scene to those who have never seen the round building at the Expo Center. If you have seen it, imagine that whole space filled to the very walls with dozens of clothing racks, tables full of toys, a small sea of strollers, high chairs, nursery furniture, and back yard gear, tables covered in baby bathtubs, training toilets, and breastfeeding supplies, and more besides. I am not exaggerating when I say that this sale will surely outgrow this building and be forced to move to an even bigger space in the future. Those of us shopping for clothes were elbow to elbow. I thought of Wordsworth's sonnet all evening.

I think the huge bi-annual consignment sale is a wonderful thing for families who just want to save some money on kids' clothes, gear, and furniture and for those who want a good way to clear out clutter. For me, it's both. I can sell the things we no longer need and the things we never needed but thought we did; and I can get clothes for Benjamin for the next six months for WAY cheaper than retail. But looking around at all of the other stuff, mainly the vast sea of toys, made me think of Wordsworth. Why do we think our children need all of these toys? Are they supposed to make them happy? Newsflash: Kids are happy with the attention of their parents and the things they can create with crayons and a big cardboard box. Are they supposed to make them smart? May I remind you that the child Albert Einstein never had "Baby Einstein" dvds to boost his brain power? Some of these toys claim to provide good exercise for kids. Um, ever heard of crawling, climbing, walking, running, swimming, playing with mommy and daddy, rolling a ball you can get for 50 cents at Walmart?

I am seriously considering adding a "gift suggestion" note to Benjamin's first birthday invitation with things like empty paper towel rolls, cardboard boxes, empty plastic bottles, blank paper and a couple of crayons, etc. Benjamin has so many toys already, and he loves playing with them. I just don't feel the need to overstimulate him with so many more in the future that he can never remember them. Do you still remember the ones you loved? For me, they were the simple ones--a stuffed moose with rollerskates, a sock monkey, books--not the ones my parents and grandparents spent a small fortune on--like the Barbie waterpark that we played with maybe five times. But it is so hard, as parents, to resist the temptation when we see so many cute things so reasonably priced. They all promise so much to people who just want the very best for their kids, for their kids to have everything. I find myself browsing the Fisher Price toys online and just drooling over things like a toy lawnmower (how cute is that?!) or what can only be accurately described as a giant, plastic babysitter disguised as a "walker." I probably shouldn't admit this, but I seriously thought about getting a miniature ball pit for him (only $60!!).

But in the end, Wordsworth had it right. We need to learn from nature. I could get Benjamin a plastic lawnmower or I could take him outside to smell the freshly mown lawn. I could invest in a baby-sized barnyard, or I could take him to visit a real farm (or both--I do love those little barnyards!). I could buy so many plastic things and it still wouldn't be as much fun as watching a seven month old strain as hard as he can to pick up a pie pumpkin today. And later, when I cut up the pumpkin and make it into baby food, I will enjoy letting him watch from his high chair. I will tell him what I'm doing and let him smell the cinnamon (I have to add cinnamon) and know that mommy time is better than all the toys that are designed to make him a bilingual, early allstar athelete, sign-language proficient prodigy.

And I will still go to the consignment sale, probably every year.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pray it up

Let's all pray for this lovely young family. Those of you who are parents understand the fear and turmoil that is intermingled with their joy over the arrival of their beautiful daughter. Here is the link to their blog. Please pray.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wedding Rings

As I mentioned in a couple of previous posts, I am committed to forming a new habit of shining my kitchen sink every night before bed. It really does make me feel good to know that this one thing is done, and done well, every day. Whatever else is a disaster in the house, I know that nothing is piling up in the sink. It is a relief from the sometimes burdensome task of keeping house. So this week, I am adding another goal. This week I am going to take the time to shine our wedding rings.

I feel so blessed to be married to my best friend. Sometimes it feels like we've been together always. In some ways we have, because we married young and all of our major experiences are with each other. All of our greatest joys and sorrows have been shared, and it is a comfort to think that those of the future will be as well, if God allows. At other times, it feels like we just said our vows days ago.

I've been thinking about marriage a lot because we attended two special weddings this weekend. On Friday night, our sister Christina married Brady Bruton in a wonderful and worshipful celebration of God's grace and timing. We are so proud of Christina, who has always been an example of purity, joy, and servant-heartedness. And we are proud to welcome our brother Brady to the family. He is a godly and humble man, greatly gifted by the Lord in music and in working with his hands. We are so thankful! And last night my friend, Heather married Drew Miller at a vineyard in College Station (some pictures are posted here)--it was wonderful to see her radiance and joy and his. They were altogether beautiful. What a celebration! Heather carried a little Bible that has been carried by thirty previous brides in her family!

I may talk in future posts about some of the thoughts I've been thinking about marriage and wedding vows, but tonight I just keep thinking about the rings. Amber said Friday night that it always takes a while to get used to the sight of a man's hand with a new wedding ring. Maybe it's because women are more likely to wear rings and other jewelry whether they are married or not, or because a bride wears an engagement ring for a while (usually!) before she adds the band. But I love the look of a groom's hand with a fresh wedding band. It's a lot like how I imagine the state of his heart to be at the beginning of marriage--it shows up well, is not tarnished or scratched by the daily wear and tear of life and living it, and he wears it slightly awkwardly in his new role. Do not imagine that I think it's a shame when the wedding ring (or the hear) starts to show the wear. On the contrary, I love that too. I have never been tempted to replace Jon's wedding ring, even though he wears it in hard work every day. It is worn and scratched and it becomes more obvious all the time that I didn't spend a great deal on it to begin with. But he wears it so comfortably now, not like the new husband who is wondering what to do next, but like the husband who has already worked to feed his family and has held his wife's hand through deep valleys of sorrow and has guided her in dances of joy.

I want to shine our wedding rings to help us remember what it felt like to be so fresh in our marriage, to wash off some of the inevitable smugness and celebrate how much we still have to learn. But I won't mind when they lose their sparkle again to the comfortable wear of just living together, because I love living with him.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

How do ya like me now?

I finished the zucchini bread.
I vacuumed the floor.
I pumped milk.
I shined the sink (haven't missed a night yet!)
I swept the kitchen floor.
I ironed the clothes. I tagged the items for consignment (but Jon and my mom did more of this than I did).
I blogged.
I made Chex mix puppy chow to snack on.
I made more baby food (peeled apples while carrying Benjamin around in the little front-backpack thingy).
I even shaved my legs.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


1. I've totally abandoned my "dessert fast." Shame on you, Bluebell, you tempter.
2. I still take marathon showers, even though I know I should just shower quickly so that Benjamin is not left alone for too long. Today, twenty minutes. And it felt too short.
3. The reason I'm still baking zuccini bread for the wedding is that I've been unable to resist the temptation to cut into several loaves. I would have had enough weeks ago if I could keep my hands off of it.
4. I'm supposed to be baking right now while Benjamin is at my mom's house. I'm blogging instead.
5. I'm supposed to be ironing and tagging my items for Dittos for Kiddos while Benjamin is at my parents' house. I'm blogging instead.
6. I haven't worked out in two weeks.
7. I slept in until 10:30 today. I just made Benjamin sleep with me so he could nurse whenever he woke up. (Hey--I was tired from being up all night Monday with a stomach virus)
8. I haven't cooked a meal in ten days. Except for meals from the freezer. But I have made what feels like a million scones.
9. I print coupons that I never remember to use before they expire. Which means that instead of saving money, I am wasting paper and ink.
10. I'm too ashamed to confess to you how long it's been since I vacuumed the floor.

I just thought I'd give you all ten reasons to feel better about yourselves when compared to me. Now I am going to get to work on #s 4,5,10 and maybe 8 before Benjamin comes home.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Children's Book Quotes

Hey, don't forget to check out my new blog at

I've had so much fun finding a quote of the day. Children's literature offers a world of insight for adults.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Several weeks ago, when all of my former co-workers went back to school, I thought (smugly) that I was glad to be missing the August-September frenzie. I thought (naively) that my life would just remain on an even-keel. I even thought (ignorantly) that I might get bored. WRONG!

In the past three or four weeks I have joined MOPS (won a doorprize at the first meeting!), started a new Bible Study (Pricilla Shirer's One in a Million), taken Benjamin for his vaccinations, baked A LOT (so far 10 loaves of zuccini bread and 180 scones), hosted a baby shower, attended three bridal showers, been to a Peddler Show, read four books and many more picture books (from the public library, not Amazon--be proud, very proud of me), watched movies (Julie and Julia is hilarious; New in Town is a dud), finished the baby friendly kitchen overhaul, started the children's book quote of the day blog, worked a wedding reception for a catering company (partially to fund the upcoming wedding frenzy), entered all of Benjamin's outgrown items into the Dittos for Kiddos database so I can consign them next week, attended a breast feeding celebration at the local health department (where I won a doorprize!), finished paying bills from Benjamin's birth, volunteered for two booths at the church harvest festival (balloon animals and cupcake decorating), started following the FlyLady's recommendations for a cleaner home (my sink is sparkling!) and baked and decorated two birthday cakes.

No immediate end in sight as wedding weekend 2009 begins in less than a week! To tell you the truth, it feels good to finally be active again. I think I was really in a slump there for a while. But now I know that I can accomplish a lot while I'm taking care of Benjamin. It's nice to feel that sense of accomplishment and satisfaction again. Even if it makes me neglect my blog.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Making Memories

Sometimes I wish I was a better scrapbooker/picture taker. I look back at the past seven months of our lives and realize how fast it's gone, and how many things I've failed to document. For example, every time I take Benjamin to the doctor, I make a mental note to remember his exact weight and length so I can record it in his Kidmondo online baby book. But after they give him his vaccinations, he screams so hard that all I can think of is soothing him and getting home. By the time I get home, I can remember the pounds but not the ounces and have no memory at all of the length. All I know is that he is "above average for height and average for weight." So on his growth chart, it shows that he's grown ONCE in seven months. I know that he got his first teeth somewhere around four months but by the time I got around to writing it down, I couldn't remember the exact date they first broke through.

Occasionally my mother-in-law calls me with such exciting news of my nephew as, "Jackson ate carrots!" or "Jackson rolled over!" Every time this happens, I feel bad for not having excitedly shared the same news about Benjamin with the whole family whenever it happened. At some point he started rolling over and if I happened to see someone that same day, I might have told them. But otherwise, it just became part of the norm--not worth sharing. But should I have written it down at least?

My friend Joy always posts darling videos of her son on facebook and I love watching them and remembering when Benjamin first did similar things to what London does in the videos. But when Benjamin does something cute, I usually just get so caught up in the moment that I forget to run for the video camera. Today I tried really hard to remember to keep the camera close and I actually got a video of him clapping--so cute! But I don't even know how to get it from the camera to do anything with it.

I'm sure I will learn and get better about this. But on the other hand, I don't want to become so obsessed with documenting memories that I miss them while they're happening. I love looking at pictures in scrapbooks, and sometimes they bring back memories. But some of my most powerful memories aren't recorded at all and they come up at the most unexpected times. Like how the smell of Clinique makeup causes my grandmother's memory to fill my senses in a living way that a photo couldn't touch. Or how sunscreen somehow bottles all the summers of my life like some sort of sunshine genie and releases them in one glorious burst--cold on my skin, warm in my soul. How feeling my friend's belly when her baby girl kicks sends a ghost of a remembered kick through my own. How every once in a while a kiss reminds me of our very first one and I feel like a teenager again--skinny and scared and so happy that he likes me. I could go on and on but none of these things will ever be in a picture--they just couldn't. It wouldn't be the same. And I wonder what things I'll remember all my life from these first mothering moments of it, and what senses will awaken the echoes of all the laughter of these days.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Six Months, Six Lessons

These are lessons from the first six months (one for each month), mostly for the me of the future (I hear you forget a lot) but hopefully helpful for others as well.

1. Men cannot hear babies crying in the night. They can feel elbows.
2. New moms need each other like they need extra batteries for the swing and bouncy seat.
3. Take a pain killer before you have sex for the first time postpartum.
4. Get at least one nice new outfit for date night or girls' night out--you will feel better in clothes that fit well and are in season (let's face it, for almost a year you've bought nothing but maternity)
5. Cut yourself some slack. And remember, it gets better.
6. Resist the urge to plan the baby's birthday party--you've got six months to go.

Night and Day

My champion sleeper was up three times in the "night"--4:15am, 5:30am, and 6:15am at which time he stayed up until just now, 10:30am. He did this one day last week too. I'm tired and I need to vacuum the floor but I'm afraid of disturbing this precious nap. Who knows how long it will last? In my prayers today, I'm asking for him to sleep long and well. And I thank God for Dr. Pepper.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Why I hate the words "Of Course"

You know how certain overused phrases just get on your last nerve and do a tap dance? (Like the word "literally.") The one that gets to me is the preface "Of course." Here are a few ways I've heard it used by other moms recently:

Of course we're using only cloth diapers.
Of course we buy only organic baby food.
Of course I'm not drinking caffeine, since I'm still breastfeeding.
Of course I got back to the gym as soon as my doctor gave me permission.
Of course I'm breastfeeding.

I hate this phrase because it is condesending. It assumes that your way is the best and only way. And it delivers a judgment. I love the moms who just compare notes on childrearing without sneaking a judgment or a brag in. I'd like to thank Brandy, Ashly, and Molly for being especially friendly moms to talk to. They don't judge. They don't assume. It is a relief and a blessing to talk to them.

I hope this is a relief to someone out there:
We use disposable diapers. I considered cloth diapers for about five minutes, but I know myself and how long it takes me to get around to laundry sometimes.
I make baby food purees out of whatever produce looks fresh and is on sale. Or I buy frozen produce to use if I just want to try something that's not in season or available. I don't even know what organic really means. I never would have even tried making baby food if Brandy hadn't told me how easy and cheap it is to do.
I drink a Dr. Pepper every day. Sometimes two. And I've had three margaritas in Benjamin's lifetime.
I tried to go back to the gym as soon as possible but I have not been consistent. It is hard to find a new routine with a baby and it's hard to stay motivated to get in shape on days when you're bone tired. And it's hard to leave your baby with strangers at the health club KidZone when they want you to first sign a release that says "I understand that staying at Kid Zone may involve certain risks beyond the reasonable control of Kid Zone, its affiliates, trustees, officers, directors, employees, servants and representatives, including, but not limited to accidents, emergencies, exposure to reckless conduct of other persons, and/or negligence of Kid Zone's personnel, and that Kid Zone disclaims any and all responsibility for any such risks."
And finally, I do breastfeed, but I feel very blessed to be able to do this. It can be hard--hard to learn, hard to keep up. I don't know if I would still be doing it if I had to go back to work. And I don't think anyone is a bad mother if they don't breastfeed.

I think almost every mother does what she feels is best for her children. I think most of us just do the best we can with what we have. I think all of the moms I know personally are doing a great job even though they're all doing it differently. And I think we need to banish the words "of course" from our mommy-talk.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

New Blog

As many of you know, I've long been a lover of children's literature and a collector of children's book quotes. And for a while, I've wanted to do a "children's book quote of the day" blog but was prevented by unreliable internet access. Now that we are online with high speed internet, I have started my little project on Wordpress. I've never used Wordpress and it's kind of overwhelming comparedto Blogger, but I'm sure I will learn the ropes soon enough. The blog itself serves two purposes: it is an outlet for one of my passions, and it is a step in one of my goals. Some of you know that I would like to write and publish children's books. Nothing neccessarily quoteworthy--just something my son can be proud of. I think I could be good at it. But part of the publishing game is becoming familiar with the market, and I think the challenge of finding a new quote every day from a wide range of children's literature will be a way to keep my nose to the grindstone. This blog will remain in place for my personal musings on motherhood and updates on our lives, so please keep it on your blogroll! But, if you get the chance, also check out my new one: You never know what bits of wisdom an adult can find in a book written for a child.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Remains of the Day

Two tiny plastic bowls in the sink: one stained green and the other kind of brown. A spotted bib on the washing machine. The smell of bananas and cinnamon. The whir of the dishwasher. Johnson&Johnson scented bubbles on the drain of the bathroom sink. The peace of knowing there is a heavy little bundle sleeping sweetly as I sink into an Irresistible Apple bubble bath with a lullaby stuck in my head. I open the well-worn paperback Anne's House of Dreams and feel the warmth of the water and the satisfaction of a good day envelope me. Goodnight.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Ten Twitterables

If I were on Twitter, here are just ten of the things I would have bored you with over the last month.

1. Benjamin is six months old
2. Benjamin eats peas, carrots, acorn squash, apples with cinnamon, bananas, and rice cereal in addition to his usual diet of mommy's milk
3. Made my own baby food purees
4. Made my own baby wipes
5. Benjamin has two teeth
6. Tried to do what a magazine called "Pilates with your Baby"--ended up flat on my back laughing hysterically while Benjamin sucked ravenously on my chin. Not exactly the tummy toner I was going for.
7. Threw a "blessing shower" for my sister-in-law
8. Wrote a couple of children's book manuscripts (hopefully something will come of that)
9. Submitted an essay to a magazine, which was passed up (that will probably only happen about a thousand more times before one is accepted)
10. Read The Once And Future King and am sure I don't remember half of that book from high school--did we read an abridgement back then?

Aren't you glad I'm not tweeting all the time? I mean, I could be telling you about every diaper change and nursing session.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

From Life's First Cry

I have a beautiful little rocking chair in Benjamin's nursery. Before that, it was in my nursery and before that, in my mother's. It means a lot to me to have something so special. Anyone who knows me knows how much I love heirloom and tradition, heritage and family. I get very upset if I feel that someone is less than gentle with something I consider an heirloom. When I was a child, the rocking chair was broken (I think by Adam standing on the rocker) and when I first got pregnant, I wasn't sure it could be fixed. The wooden rocker was completely broken--wood glue would have just been joke, which is probably why my parents never had it fixed. But I asked them if I could have it anyway because I knew that if anyone could fix it, Stan Riggs could. I took it to Stan and he made a new rocker to replace the broken one. He did it so fast and so beautifully--I couldn't tell you now which is the original rocker and which is the one he made. I was so relieved, and so grateful.

Stan Riggs passed away this week. He was such a beautiful man, the patriarch of one of our favorite families, and the go-to guy for nearly all of Abilene where woodworking was concerned. I am so glad that Adam broke that rocker, because it means that Stan got to fix it with his wonderful hands.

I sat with Benjamin in that chair this morning and looked at his round little face. And I thought about how, 85 years ago, maybe Stan's mother looked at his little baby face. It's hard to imagine people who have always been old in our lives as having had lives before us--from babyhood through young adulthood. It's like we think their lives began when we first became aware of them, or that they always were the way we knew them. But I look at my baby, at eyes that have no lines around them, skin that is smooth with trust and inexperience. And I know he will not always look this way. His face will be touched and refined by the years, by joy that is not merely the laughter of a baby, and by grief as well. Hopefully he will grow to be empathetic to the triumphs and tragedies of others. I hope he will live long enough and well enough to know some of the things Stan Riggs knew.

I'm finding it difficult to articulate my exact thoughts on this journey from where we begin to where we end (and then begin again in Glory). I wish I could find the words because it seems too important to leave alone. There's a song that I love and that I often sing to Benjamin in the lullaby hours. It's called "In Christ Alone" and my favorite part says, "From life's first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny." I have never (really, not once) been able to sing that line without choking up. That line always makes me think of the faithfulness of God in the lives of people I know. It gives me the faith to pray for my son, knowing that what God did for Stan Riggs, He will do for Benjamin Brokaw. In His Name, I pray He will give Benjamin a heart for Himself and the gifts to glorify His holy Name, that He will give him love and family and friends and responsibilty. I pray that Jon and I will do our part well, so that Benjamin can do his part better later.

I'm sorry this was such a long post and a rambling one. It makes sense in my heart and I hope it does in yours.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


When I was watching my sister Christina at her bridal shower the other morning, I remembered how I, too, once unwrapped dozens of beautifully wrapped boxes of gleaming stemware, chargers, plates, and glasses. I remember lining all of my brand new things up neatly in my cabinets and admiring how pretty everything looked. I vividly remember a huge stack of boxes and bags and packing peanuts that took up three quarters of the kitchen floor after I had unloaded all of the trappings of a newlywed home.

Now, five years later, my home is once again full of boxes and bags: about thirty blue and yellow baby themed bags in the closet and four or five diaper boxes in various rooms. The boxes do not, as they claim, contain 236 size 2/3 diapers. The one in the bedroom contains clothes that I will probably never be small enough to wear again. Two in the nursery are full of baby clothes that I can't believe he's already outgrown (one box for consignment and one to keep forever). And the ones in the living room are stuffed with newspaper and some of the things I so lovingly unwrapped five years ago: champagne flutes, wine glasses, pasta bowls, a platter--things I hardly ever used, things that had to go to make room for bright colored sippy cups, plastic bowls and lids, and tiny soft spoons. For days I've been working on an overhaul of the kitchen, moving out the pretty but rarely used, moving in the bright unbreakables, moving up the glass and down the wooden, stone, and Tupperware. This is what is commonly called "baby proofing," but as I look at how my home is shaping up, I don't think I'm making it as much baby proof as baby friendly.

I used to wonder why my parents didn't have nicer stuff, why most of their glasses were plastic and their pots and pans dull. But one of my earliest memories is of sitting on the kitchen floor with an open cabinet in front of me, a stock pot between my legs, a spoon in my fist and a terrific clatter in the air. I do not know how old I was or how my mom could stand the noise. And, most importantly, I do not remember her making me stop. Now I wonder if she moved those things down to the bottom cabinet on purpose and I wonder if she gave up something pretty and breakable and hardly used to make room for the plastic cups and cereal bowls of my childhood. I wonder if she even gave me the spoon.

It's funny how the things that come into our homes in gracefully wrapped gift boxes often go out of them in less graceful packaging. It's funny how a home evolves to contain all the trappings of love and little people and how a quiet woman can become one who smiles through so much noise for the sake of the singularly wonderful sound of a laughing baby.

Aragog update

Looks like we lost our spider friend on the highway the other night, so my question was "moo." "It's like a cow's opinion. It just doesn't matter. It's moo!"

Saturday, August 8, 2009


We have a spider living in the side mirror of our car. Every night it builds its web between the side mirror and the driver side window. And every morning it rolls up its web and takes it in between the casing and the mirror. Sometimes, if we go out early enough and start driving, he will come out in a panic and finish rolling up his web as it is flapping in the wind. I can always tell if he has just eaten because his body is big and fat right after a meal. He's not poisonous but he's a big enough spider than you wouldn't want him to bite you. So, my question is should I let this tiny acramantula live, or stop him before he takes over the rest of the car?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Murphey's Law Brokaw Style

If the forecast is 98 degrees and we have family pictures planned for outdoors, the actual temperature will rise to about 102 degrees. And it will be humid.
The air conditioner will leak when the house is full of company. (poor Shirley)
People will be late.
We will forget several somethings we meant to bring along.
Baby drool will be on our shoulders.
At least one baby will break out in a rash because of the grass outside.
When we finally gather the whole family for the big group picture, at least one baby will start to fuss and cry and turn red.
Yes, if anything can go wrong, it will. But it will also come out right in the end. 
The pictures will be beautiful.
The family will have so much fun together in the end, they won't remember the stress in the beginning. And eventually, we will forget how hard it was to organize, and we will be crazy enough to do it all again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

If You Give a Mom a Muffin-top (with compliments and apologies to Laura Numeroff)

If you invite a mom to the pool, she will gladly accept because she wants to see her baby enjoy the water.
After she accepts, she will realize she doesn't have a swimsuit that fits her.
So she will take the baby with her to JC Penny where she will select two swimsuits from the sale rack.
She will need to try them on, so she will park the stroller in front of the changing room miror and strip down.
The baby will start to cry because his stroller is not moving.
The mom will have to let him cry because she is stuck in a tangle of spandex and nylon that is too small.
When she gets untangled, she will pick up the screaming baby and wiggle into her blue jeans while holding him.
She will leave JC Penny and go home.
Obviously, she will need a baby-sitter before she can shop for a swimsuit.
A few days later she will try again, but this time she will take someone to hold the baby while she tries on swimsuits.
She will not find anything at two department stores and will resign herself to the truth that she will have to go to Dillards and blow her budget.
After trying on no fewer than fifteen swimsuits, she will decide on one that is only $12 over her budget.
Looking at herself in the mirror, wearing a size 10 swimsuit, she will remember that she used to wear a size 6.
This will make her want to go work out.
So she will need something to wear to work out in.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

We're still here

Quick update:
We haven't dropped off the planet. We're still here. We still don't have internet access at home. Don't give up on us.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


We are without internet service until my husband gets around to choosing a provider. I love my husband. He is charming, polite, helpful with the baby and around the house, movie-star handsome, hard working, and godly. But he is a procrastinator due to ADD. So I may be unplugged for a while. Don't give up on me. I'll blog when I can snag a few moments at my folks' house.

Friday, June 12, 2009

I am the Mama Bear

I remember one time walking with Brandy and Aiden about a year ago when a big dog walked by us on the sidewalk. Brandy told me that she was like a mother bear, that she could kill that dog if she had to to protect her cub.

Now I am the Mama Bear.

Jon and I take Benjamin walking at ACU and I am alert to every possible danger. I cross automatically to whichever side of the path is furthest from traffic, be it human, animal, or motor. My eyes dart to and fro, like Jack Bauer on high alert. And, yes, I'm pretty sure I could kill a dog if I had to. As we round a corner, I immediately sense the danger of a swampy bit of grass...mosquito breeding ground. Determined that no mosquito will feast on my fleshy four-month-old, I take the path at a fast jog. But as I clear the mosquito swamp, I begin to hear an ominous hum that fills the air. I look up to see thousands of bees swarming a tree just ahead, rising like great clouds of smoke against the sky. The bees are like a fire in the tree and their sizzle stings my ears, filling me with visions of My Girl. And Benjamin and I are a streak--we fly from the bee tree, back up the mosquito swamp path, around the other side, and about a block's distance away. When I feel we are at a safe distance, I look back to see Jon standing near the bee tree, talking on the phone. While he reports the bees to the university, I check my boy--no bee stings, no mosquito bites--the cub is safe.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Here they are!

So many people have been begging, so here are some recent pictures. Many thanks to Shanna for snapping these for us!

Okay, I don't know how to turn this around or delete it now that I have it on here! So, turn your head sideways! This next one is my favorite picture ever!

Monday, May 18, 2009

You never know...

You never know how your life is going to turn out. There are so many things I never foresaw for myself, some good, some bad, all working together for the final good. You know I never thought I would be twenty-six and not have a college education. I never thought I'd have a miscarriage. I never thought I'd love anyone as much as I love Jon and Benjamin. I never thought I'd have a c-section. I never thought I'd be diagramming sentences at midnight....
Okay, let me explain. I was nervous about leaving the baby to return to work today, so I had some trouble falling asleep last night. My sweetheart was reading to me in an attempt to lull me into dreamland and I heard this sentence: In a moment they were outof the light and in the eerie shadows cast by the rising moon, just showing its brilliant face above the hill behind the house. And I said from behind my sleepmask, under the sheets, to my husband, in the middle of the night, "Man, that's a lot of prepositions in one sentence!" After talking for a while about the particulars of prepositional phrases and other sentence parts, we laughed at ourselves. I said, "I never saw this coming. I just never thought I'd be diagramming sentences in the middle of the night with my husband." Really, you never know.

Good, Good, Good

Today my son requested a song. Well, that might be an exageration, but it's fun to say anyway. I was giving him his after-bath massage and I said, "Benjamin, how does that feel?" He said, "Goo, Goo, Goo," which I'm pretty sure means "good, good, good" and is a reference to a song I often sing to him:
I feel good, good, good
I feel good, O yes my Lord
There's just somethin' 'bout the Spirit of Jesus
That makes me feel good, good, good, good

Monday, May 4, 2009

Songs on Repeat

I have a really annoying habit of playing songs that speak to me over and over and over and over and over again until my heart has them memorized. When I was in high school and the movie Titanic came out, it was the song "My Heart Will Go On" (don't judge me--you know you loved that song! Of course I, like you, can no longer stand it because I played it to death). When we got married it was "At Last" by Netta James. When we lost April Baby, it was "Held" by Natalie Grant. Yesterday, after a great weekend with my sweetie, it was this:
Remember when
I was young and so were you
Time stood still and love was all we knew
You were the first, so was I
We made love and then you cried
Remember when

Remember when
We vowed the vows and walked the walk
Gave our hearts, made a start, and it was hard
We lived and learned, life through curves
There was joy, there was hurt
Remember when

Remember when
Old ones died, new were born
Life was changed, disassembled, rearranged
We came together, fell apart
We broke each other's hearts
Remember when

Remember when
The sound of little feet was the music
We danced to week to week
Brought back the love, we found trust
Vowed we'd never give it up
Remember when

We bought this Alan Jackson cd on our honeymoon because of this song. We had no idea then how much we would love each other now. I hope I'll discover this song again in a few years and have it on repeat...and another few years after that....and another few years after that.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Too much Seuss???

This is a copy of the shopping list I gave Jon today for the produce section. Does one item seem a little strange?

-green bell pepper
-red bell pepper
-baby carrots
-green eggs

I think I need to get some sleep.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Not a Fan

Benjamin's Aunt Whitney is a big UT fan, so I decided to let him wear a UT onesie that someone gave him since he's going to her house today. Apparantly, Dr. Tadvick indoctrinated Benjamin at birth, though (one of the first things Benjamin saw was a Texas A&M surgical cap on the doctor who delivered him), because as soon as I got it snapped on him he pooped all over it and laughed out loud. Sorry, Aunt Whitney. Erin and Travis, I thought you'd enjoy this. Gig 'em, I guess.

Happy Birthday, April Baby

Our little April Baby would have been one year old today. What a strange many things I still wonder about. Someday we shall know fully, even as we are fully known.

Monday, April 27, 2009


Yesterday Benjamin was dedicated to the Lord in a short ceremony at our church. It was really moving to look around and see our church family standing in support of us as well as our actual family (and some close friends) standing behind us. Many thanks to Grandma and Grandpa B., Pappy and Katie Faye, Mee Mee, Pops, Aunt Millie, Aunt Connie and Uncle Tom, Aunt Whitney, Aunt Debby, Shanna, Charles, and Meg for coming to support us on Benjamin's special day. Benjamin's two grandfathers laid hands on him as Pastor Rob prayed for him and for us. It was a really special time and we are so grateful.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Anger Management not Applicable

Since I'm a stay at home mom now, I've been looking forward to joining the local MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers). I spent some time on the MOPS website the other day and got the names of the mentors. I recognized one of them as a lady from my Tuesday night BodyFlow class and approached her on Tuesday to ask a few questions. She was super excited that I was interested in MOPS and was more than willing to tell me the date of the next meeting, explain the childcare situation, etc. An awkward moment occurred when she told me about the last meeting. "We had a wonderful speaker last week," she said. "Well, not that the subject matter applied to anyone. It was about anger."
I laughed and said, "Yeah, I bet no moms of preschoolers ever deal with that!" Then I realized she wasn't joking. She looked at me like I had just admitted to child abuse.
Now that I'm away from the embarrassment of the situation, I realize how ridiculous it was for her to assume that mothers who are tired, hormonal, and weighted with the responsibility of not only keeping their little ones alive but also providing an "enriching" neural environment would never have to deal with something so base as anger. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I'm sure I'm not the only one who has lashed out for no reason at a wonderful, but momentarily clueless husband. I'm probably not the only one who has wanted to slap the fifth person who said, "Oh, a c-section, huh? You took the easy way out." And I suspect I may not even be the only worn out woman who has ever looked at a screaming newborn and said, "I don't know what you want!!!!"and handed him off to whoever would take him for just fifteen minutes.
Hopefully, most of us already know how to deal with these moments of frustration and rage. But I can see the benefit of hearing a comedic teaching on the subject if, for no other reason, it just lets us all know that we're not the only ones. Few of us will need the kind of intese therapy or medication for anger management that would otherwise leave our children in danger. But I think all of us could use a moment to hear another woman laughing and nodding and saying, "Man, I've been there." I sincerely hope, despite this mentor's comment, that MOPS is a place for real women with real emotions who will be honest with each other. Because I really don't have time to go to a meeting of the Stepford wives twice a month.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spilled Milk

Yesterday I decided to brave the grocery store with the baby for the first time. Well, truthfully, we were out of food, so I had to brave the grocery store. We've been before, but always with my mom or Jon. It went surprisingly well. Benjamin didn't cry in the carseat on the way to the store (he doesn't usually like the carseat). He didn't cry when I put him in the stroller. He seemed to like looking around and hearing all the sounds of the store. I put the groceries (mostly frozen meals and steamable vegetables) in the bottom basket of the stroller and headed for the checkout. All the while, I'm thinking how great this is all going. We check out. Our groceries are bagged--two plastic bags, one with a gallon of milk and one with all of the other groceries--and we go to the parking lot happily. I again have the groceries in the stroller basket. I am at a store that has special parking for new and expecting mothers, so I have a great spot right out front. I put Benjamin in the carseat first. He starts to fuss a little when I strap him in, so I start to hurry through the rest of my routine. I pick up the first bag of groceries and put it in the car. Then I reach for the milk bag. I have forgotten to lock the stroller wheels and it starts to roll a little. I try to catch it while still trying to get the bag and CRASH!!! I drop the bag in the parking lot. I wince as I look down to see the plastic filling up and then overflowing with so many white ounces. It becomes a river of white in the parking lot, breaking off into several streams as it flows down. Benjamin is screaming. I am crying. I am embarrassed. I am hot. I fold up the stroller and throw it in the back and just drive off with a screaming baby and no milk.

Halfway home I suddenly remember something my mom always says: "Don't cry over spilled milk." That's when the humor of the situation hits me. Mom, you have no idea, I think. Then I start laughing, almost hysterically. My laughter stuns my screaming son and he stops. He starts cooing instead. By the time we get home, we are both in a much better mood. Jon goes and gets us milk and chocolate chip cookie dough later in the evening.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Every day is a new day

Wake up feeling rested. Take the baby for a visit at school. Vacuum the house. Do two loads of laundry. Work on the scrapbook. Clear the table of junk mail. Cook dinner and serve it by 6:30pm. Give the baby a bath. Put the baby to bed. Pump extra milk for the freezer. I am super-mom.
Wake up congested. Go through two boxes of tissues. Leave used tissues all over the house. Go through three changes of clothes. Try to remove baby poop from three pair of pants and all of baby's outfits. Baby goes through five changes of clothes. Try to remove baby poop from rocking chair cushion. Leave stain-treated clothes all over house. Get a frozen casserole out of the freezer to cook. I cook it but it gets cold while I'm cleaning up another poop explosion. Change five thousand diapers. Give the baby a bath. Put the baby in the swing while I take my third shower. Hear the baby cry--shower over. Milk lets down and showers my legs as I'm drying off. Nose is running like a faucet. Income tax reciepts are all over table that yesterday was clear. Rewarm dinner. Eat standing at kitchen counter at 9:30pm. Have three piles of laundry stacked randomly in bedroom. Look in the mirror. I am bloated. My hair is inexplicable. Have a kleenex stuck in each nostril. I am Bridget Jones.
Clean up from yesterday. Take care of baby. Blog. Cook from the freezer. Bake four pies (one for Daddy, one for Dakota, two for Easter lunch). Lots of help from mom. I am normal.
"Is a new day with no mistakes in it yet."

Friday, April 3, 2009

Murder, she thought.

I knew parenthood would take its toll on my marriage, but I didn't anticipate that it would actually make me fantasize about killing my husband. But, alas, at three in the morning, when Benjamin had been wide awake for over an hour and I finally got him to sleep, my sweet husband sniffed loudly enough to wake the dead. Immediately, despite my sincere love for him, I wanted him to join the dead. "If you wake the baby," I hissed, "I will kill you and make it look like an accident." I would like to tell you that I didn't mean it, that I was just tired and cranky, but...well....there it is.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Yes I Did!

Last night I went to the health club and took Body Flow. There were a lot of moves I couldn't do and I had to take some of the lighter options on others, but I stayed through the whole 55minute class and did something active the entire time! I know how proud of me you all are.

My plan is to continue with Body Flow only for two weeks, then add RPM for two weeks, and finally work my way up to Body Pump. I'm going to kick this c-section recovery in the caboose (there's some mommy talk for ya!)!

Monday, March 30, 2009

It Happens

Well, it didn't quite hit the fan....but it was pretty much everywhere else.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Perfect Figure

We were wandering through the Blanton museum as a respite from the humidity of July in Austin. Some of our party were enthralled by the post-modern art (a piece involving a sea of pennies, hanging cow bones, and a tower of communion wafers was causing quite a stir), but Deborah and I quietly found the floor exhibiting plaster castes of Rennaisance-era statuary. They were beautiful, nudes of women lounging lazily, curls framing their temples, hands discretely covering where their legs were lightly crossed. They made me feel as relaxed as they were. Deborah said she wonders when they stopped being the ideal of womanly beauty. I stop and stare again, this time comparing them to the women who are idolized today. The statue women have full hips and thighs, dimples just above their buttocks, a slight roundness below their navals. Their arms are full, their breasts are full, even their faces are full. They are fifty to one hundred pounds heavier than the ideal American beauty today. Her descriptive words are so different from the soft, round words my mind had been conjuring for the statue. The American beauty favors words like "flat," "tight," and "thin." Strange how unfulfilling it sounds when you strip it down to just the words.

Yesterday, as I stood in front of the bathroom mirror, tugging a pair of Spanx on over my substantial figure, I thought back to that day at the museum. At the Blanton, I was a thin woman admiring a statue of a rounder woman. I was flat, tight. She was full, soft. Now I am a more, well, maternally shaped woman. Can I admire my figure as I admired hers? Will I fall into the trap, the obsession with "getting back" to my former shape? Or will I move forward, into the beauty of a body that can nurture with its curves and its softness?

Please understand: I am not talking about "letting it go." I want to give my son the gift of a mama who is healthy, who will live long and share his life's joys and sorrows. I want to be able to look at myself in the mirror and feel confident and secure in my own beauty. What I'm hoping to achieve is a balance between the stick figure woman and the curvy Rennaissance woman. D'Linn once said, "Stop lamenting that you don't look like a sixteen-year-old anymore. You are not sixteen. And it's okay to have the body of a woman instead of the body of a child." The body of a woman...what a beautiful thing. It can grow and nurture life. I have fuller thighs and hips than I used to (and, yes, stretchmarks to boot!), much fuller breasts than I ever imagined possible, and a little bit of fluff around my once toned midsection. When my baby boy searches for a comfortable place to lay his downy head, I know he can find it in my body. When he is hungry, I can feed him from that same body. In short, I have a perfect figure.

Friday, March 27, 2009

The Four

The year my husband was born, each of his father's brothers also had a child. These four cousins, born in the same year, have always shared a special bond. They call themselves "The Four" and I have always been so impressed at how close they feel even though they rarely see one another. The times they can all be together are always fun and special.

Well, this year looks like another year of four! There are four babies being born on my husband's side of the family this year. They will not all four be first cousins, but we just found out they will all be BOYS!!! It is a full sweep! Beth and I had our boys just over a month ago and Kristen had hers TODAY--welcome to the family, Caden Andrew! Heather should be having hers in a matter of days too. I don't know when we'll be able to get these special four boys together (since they are in Texas, Ohio, North Carolina, and New Zealand!), but I know it will be special and fun when we do and I pray they will always have a connection with each other.

Congratulations, Kristen and Elijah!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I remember vividly the first time I felt what I call "motherguilt." I was meeting some new people for the first time, drinking a Dr. Pepper from a bottle, and (as I had already informed them of my pregnancy) getting a few pretty dirty looks. One of the ladies began to lecture me on the dangers of caffeine and carbonation in pregnancy. I had already discussed this with my doctor. He told me it was fine to have one a day or even a couple a day every now and again. But it was still hard not to feel like an immediate failure as a mom even though Benjamin was only about an inch long at the time. I went home that day and reminded myself of my balanced diet, my regular intake of water, my doctor's permission, and my need to occasionally have caffeine to help me through the work day while experiencing first-trimester fatigue. Then I decided to let go of the guilt and substitute it with humor and a relaxation of the rigidity.

I remember the first time I realized I had succeeded in banishing the motherguilt. I was chatting on the phone with a pregnant friend and eating the last piece of apple pie directly from the tin with a fork. She said, "I just don't understand these pregnant women who just eat whatever they want and stop excercising alltogether. Then they wonder why they gain extra weight and look bad!" At that point I couldn't actually remember the last time my feet hit the health club floor, but I answered, "I know! I totally agree with you." When I hung up later I confessed to Jon and laughed at the irony of my eating pie at that moment. I didn't feel guilty at all.

I remember the night the motherguilt came back. I was in the hospital, where I was sure I would blissfully "room-in" with my baby and fight the nurses any time they tried to take him from me (even for pediatrician rounds). But I was so tired. And I couldn't sleep with him in the room because I just kept staring at him, wondering if he was breathing. Finally, realizing that there was a nursery full of professionals who would be awake all night, I called the nurse (in tears) and asked her to take my one-day-old baby to the nursery until his next feeding time. What a terrible mother--I couldn't even live in the same room with my baby for one night.

Now I am learning to banish it again--to relax the rules in the realization that Benjamin has not only survived for five weeks, but he has gained weight and nursed wonderfully and focussed on his books and played in his tummy time and done a dozen other things just right, despite some slips on my part. I still drink Dr. Pepper (sometimes even before a nursing session!). I have occasionally gone a day without reading to him and occasionally gone a day without singing to him. Some days he has had no tummy time. Some days I have failed to give him a bath even though I knew he had peed on himself several times (I just used a wipey!). I have forgotten to eat breakfast many mornings and I have given him way too many pumped bottles rather than whip out my breast in front of visitors. And right now, instead of sleeping while he sleeps, I am blogging while enjoying half a pint of Ben and Jerry's.

I decided that I am a better mom for Benjamin when I am a relaxed mom. I am not going to pressure myself to be perfect. Rather, I am going to be imperfect with a sense of humor and ask God for the grace to actually enjoy motherhood as I enjoyed pregnancy. I'm glad I got that off my chest--you can judge me now, if you want.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


"Men go abroad to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars; and they pass by themselves without wondering." Saint Augustine

God has blessed me with so many gifts in the past year that I can hardly name them. But one of the most unexpected and great gifts is the gift of wonder. This, I think, is a singular gift of pregnancy and of motherhood. You cannot pass by yourself without wonder at God's design. Many things are undignified and fatiguing about pregnancy and you need humor and grace to persevere, but I never felt more beautiful in my life than I did in the 39 weeks I was a vessel for Benjamin's life. And though I feared that I would be ill-prepared for motherhood (having hardly any experience with newborns and a great deal of trepidation where they are concerned), God gave me what I needed when I wasn't looking. After only a few days I felt like I'd been holding and nursing this baby all my life. (Of course, another wonderful gift is the gift of my own mother who stayed with us and slaved for us, taking care of all three of us while we learned.) Now he is a month old and I can hardly remember life without him. We have had the great joy of sharing this stage of our lives with some of our dear friends and family and have enjoyed praying for their babies when we prayed for our own. Now my best friend is expecting her own little one and as I pray for her tonight, I pray not only for health and strength and lots of energy, but for a sense of wonder. And I pray that God will give me the grace to remember in days (and nights) that just fly by that He created my inmost being, knit me together in my mother's womb, and that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. And as if that wasn't enough, he created Benjamin Cole's inmost being, knit him together in MY womb, and Benjamin is obviously fearfully and wonderfully made.
Thanks be to God for the safe and healthy deliveries of these babies in 2009:
Adilyn Mae, Loralei Honor, Coy Scott, Benjamin Cole, Jackson Alexander, and Elijah James!
And God bless their mothers with grace and wonder:
Monica, Amie, Ashly, ME, Bethany, and Joy!
And God protect and bless the little ones still within their mothers' wombs this year:
Baby Peters, Baby Boy Sandifer, London Andrew, and Baby Shirley!
What a wonder-full year!!!

Friday, March 13, 2009


I just told Jon that I was "going to bottle duty," which threw us into a fit of hysterics because it sounded like I was going to "bottle doodie." We get duties and doodies mixed up quite a bit now that we have an increase in both in our home!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Things Kids Say

Here is a sampling.

"Mrs. B---, for letter p I drew a /p/pig and she's /p/pregnant, just like you!!"

First Grade:
"Good luck having a baby tomorrow. I hope you don't die because sometimes you do."

"Did you eat that baby or did you grow it?"

Second Grade:
"I already know why you're not coming to school tomorrow. It's because you're having a baby right now." (Just to clarify, I'm NOT having the baby right now--this child is confused)

Fourth Grade:
"Are you pregnant or something?" (Yes, something like that)

Fifth Grade:
"Hey! Are you pregnant?" (I answered affirmatively) "See, I told you so!" (I'm glad to have settled the apparant argument.)

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Things People Say

"Are you ready?" This is the number one question I hear lately and I'm just never sure how to answer it. How can anyone every be ready for this? I cannot even imagine how my whole life is about to change. I am so excited and so in love with this baby boy that I can't imagine loving him more. But I know that when I see him, I will love him more than I now think possible. How can I honestly claim to be ready for that? How can I claim to be ready to learn how to be a mom? Is this really what people are asking me? Or are they wondering if the house is ready? That question I can answer. We have pretty near everything we need to welcome the baby home. All of the clothes and bedding are washed and put away. Diaper changing stations are stocked throughout the house. (The vacuum bag explosion has been cleaned up)The carseat is installed and the hospital bag is pretty much packed. The house is not childproof, but I figure we'll have a little more time to accomplish this since, gifted as he is, I'm sure the baby will not come home from the hospital crawling or walking. So, we are not sure if we're ready, but we're pretty sure our home is.

"You deserve it." This is a very strange thing for people to say because I'm pretty sure no one could ever really deserve such a wonderful blessing. I used to think otherwise. I used to think that some people don't deserve their kids and other people do. But now I know that none of us really deserve it. What could I have ever done in my life that could warrant God trusting me with the miracle of a baby? I'm pretty sure it has nothing at all to do with deserving. I think God will use this baby to bring us so much joy and also to teach us more about His character and His love. I think it's a most remarkable, most undeserved gift.

"You're huge!" Hmmm. This is the only time in my life I will allow this comment.

"You're tiny!"'re being nice.

These are the most common comments/questions I hear on a daily basis. I'll spare you the constant stream of advice from total strangers and casual aquaintances. My actual friends and family have given very useful and encouraging advice, usually when I ask them for it. Strangers seem to feel the belly is an invitation for advice and questions. I hear the same is true of carrying around an infant, so no release in sight on that front.

Friday, February 13, 2009

The Last Bean

When I was a kid, there was a game at my grandparents' house called "Don't Spill The Beans." I really hated that game because it always ended in disaster. The game consisted of a little plastic bucket with a slightly concave lid, which hung suspended between two little plastic posts. So it kind of swung there. There were also a couple of handfuls of beans. You would start out by placing a few beans on the lid of the bucket when it was your turn. As the game progressed, you'd put fewer and fewer beans as the bucket became less stable. By the end, you were meticulously placing one tiny bean at a time on the lid and hoping it didn't cause the whole thing to tip. Eventually, it would tip, spilling beans everywhere, and making the unlucky last bean-placer the loser of the game. I think I cried every time. (I don't like Jenga, either)

Anyway, I think about that game often when life gets frustrating because it's always something small that tips the scale and causes me to go into fits of tears. You know, you start out with all of these things (beans, if you will) to manage and it seems like you can just pile them on and it's no big deal. But as you get more and more, well, it becomes trickier. And in the end, it's not the "scared to death of motherhood" bean or the "c-section" bean or the "good friend in a tight spot" bean or even the "absolutely NO money" bean that gets you. It's the "VACUUM CLEANER BAG EXPLODING IN THE LIVING ROOM" bean. It's not the tragedies. It's the dishes. That's when I say, "This is just the last bean" through tears. And Jon tries to correct me, "Don't you mean, the last straw?" Well, now you all know, I mean the last bean.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Turn, Turn, Turn

That's what we are singing to the baby every day now. So far he is still in breech position, so we will schedule a c-section for two weeks from now!!!! I have decided to opt out of having my doctor attempt to turn the baby through external version, so a c-section it is. BUT, if he turns around before we actually go into surgery, we can still call the whole thing off and wait for normal labor to commence whenever it does. As of now, though, we are preparing everything for a birth by c-section in two weeks. All this time I have been comforting myself with the belief that the baby would be late, as most first babies are. Two weeks is not very far away. Prayers would be appreciated!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Quick Update

Hi everybody! I'm not really being a delinquent blogger--my internet at home is experiencing some difficulties, so I have only brief opportunities at the end of the work day to do personal business on the school computer (shhh!).

We did have an appointment on Tuesday and found out that Benjamin is currently in the breech position, meaning that we need him to turn around SOON!!! If he does not turn on his own in the next week, my doctor will try to turn him by external version on February 3. Obviously, we would prefer for him to turn on his own. If external version is not successful in changing his position, or if he turns back to the breech position before he's born, we may have to have a c-section. This is a big prayer request. I have been giving him pep talks and singing short lines of songs to him ("Turn around, bright eyes...." "One little revolution can turn it all little miracle can pull us through..."). If anyone has any inspirational song suggestions, I'm open to trying them!

Otherwise Benjamin is doing fine and growing strong in there! We have one childbirth class left next week and we're gearing up for labor and delivery in about five weeks! We have had two baby showers and are overwhelmed by the generosity of our friends and family--Benjamin is obviously well loved by many people and the nursery is coming together so nicely. We have one more (a school shower on February 4) and then we can finish up what we need to. Tonight we are packing the hospital bag, installing the carseat, hanging pictures in the nursery, and assembling a glider rocker. Our friends Charles and Meg are sweet to come help us accomplish these tasks.

I hope everyone is doing well. If it seems I am ignoring your emails, please don't take it personally. As soon as our computer is in a useable state, I will respond in full to everyone. Hopefully, this will suffice for now. Much love to all!

Thursday, January 8, 2009


Yesterday I had a fun conversation with one of my kindergarten students. She's an extremely well-mannered little girl and it was very difficult for me to keep a straight face:

"Excuse me, Mrs. B------," she said. "I don't mean to hurt your feelings, but what has happened to you?"
"What do you mean, J---------?" I asked.
"Well, pardon me, but something has happened to your tummy!"
"Well, there's a baby in there," I told her.
Her whole face lit up delightfully and she said, "Well, why didn't you say so?! Congratulations, Mrs. B-----!"

I just thought it was too cute not to share!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Baby Update

We went to the doctor yesterday and he said everything is looking great. Benjamin is about 3.5lbs and is growing right on schedule. His heartbeat was 150bpm. I'm starting to feel a little uncomfortable, but still feel pretty good overall. The fatigue is real, but nothing compared to the first trimester.

We have two baby showers next week and a diaper shower sometime after that. I am looking forward to finishing up our baby shopping and getting the nursery stocked as Benjamin will be in residence before we know it!

We begin childbirth class tomorrow night. Labor and delivery is a scary unknown to me, and I'm hoping the information will give me some idea of what to expect. Yesterday, my doctor told me he delivers 90% of his patients' babies, but told me who the other doctors are who take call for him just in case he's out of town. It made me feel much more confident to know what to expect in that regard.

Now we have only to make a will, file a living will at the hospital, find a pediatrician, and find insurance for me and baby for after delivery. Yikes! Against this list, my remaining weeks of pregnancy seem short!