Sunday, March 29, 2009

The Fear Factor

What a great week this was - you see, there's this old Pandolfo (my maiden name) tradition of celebrating b-days as long and as often as possible, and this week it was my turn.  It was made memorable with some fun and low key celebrations, watching the new James Bond movie, grilling, taking a day off.  This year felt different, knowing I was sharing the turning of another year with this little to-be that is fluttering in my stomach. It's the best gift. 

What's very much been going through my mind this week are some of the struggles that this baby business has brought to the surface in my life. To be honest, the journey of pregnancy has been a little (and sometimes a lot) wrought with fear for me: 

- Fear: Will I make it that "magical" 12 week mark, or will I miscarry? 
- Fear: Will the baby continue to grow and stay healthy? 
- Fear: Will my falling ways (so frustrating!) hurt the baby? 
- Fear: Will the caffeinated coffee I'm sure Dunn Bros gave me yesterday (even though I neurotically asked them to make sure it was decaf) be enough to harm the baby? 
- Fear: Will the ultrasound we have this Friday show that things are normal? 
- Fear: Will I have to have a c-section? 

Well, fear leads to anxiety, which leads to irritability, which leads to control-freakish ways and thoughts that the things I do or don't do can change the course of how things will be.  And of course, before I was pregnant . . . . Fear: Will I ever be able to get pregnant? 

And I'm not oblivious to the realization that this could just be the beginning, and as some fears are conquered, new ones arise: 

- Fear: Will our baby be collicky ?
- Fear: Will our child be rebellious/properly independent/healthy/happy/safe  and on and on and on and on and on. 

How exhausting and unnecessary!

What a vicious cycle, and pointless. I heard a great quote once that "Worry is a rocking chair." That is, you move around a lot but don't (and can't) go anywhere. 

And while we're talking about fear - my gosh, what about all the people who've been facing natural disaster and personal devastation this past week in my home state.  The fact is, (and this is another borrowed phrase), control is an illusion.  Sure, there are things we can control, out comes we may be able to manipulate, but I'm not writing this to go into those intricacies. 

The thing is, I have a belief that God is in control - and I'm not here to push that on anyone either - it's just that if I believe that God is good and really does have the best in mind for me . . . then I have nothing to fear, right? This morning I was very much moved by a song (as was Sammy, he/she seemed to be dancing around to the tune):

Every blessing you pour out 
I'll turn back to praise. 
When the darkness closes in
Still I will say
Blessed be your name. 

And that's what I've prayed for all along, that no matter what happens - now or ever, with a baby, with a child, with ANYTHING that life should bring my way - that I would still be able to authentically say "Blessed be your name."  That doesn't mean things will always be easy or that praise will come easily. I've been immeasurably blessed in my 27 years, I've not known a lot of heartache. But there will be hard things, there will be trials. And it won't be easy. And I won't always react with praise. But I hope that eventually I'll be able to.  For today, I am certainly filled with praise and feel humbled to know such love in this life, from God, from my husband, from family, from friends. Life is filled with sweet treasures. Life. 

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Good times rolling

Well, these past weeks and weekends have been full and fun, and I'm finding it difficult to slow down. I've found myself having a mentality of, "I gotta get out, I gotta have fun now . . . because soon I'll be either a) feeling huge and probably won't have the energy that I do now or b) more home bound (and happily so) with baby."  So yeah, we're cramming a lot of good times in, with the help of many wonderful out-of-town guests. We started with brother Tay, who we succeeded in teaching Dutch Blitz and managed to squeeze in many games during his stay.  Then we loved having Trevor's parents in town, and got to share some good meals and lots of laughter. Next was my parents, during which we had a b-day extravaganza (to celebrate my dad's, mine, and my bro's all in a couple days).  Again, we succeeded in evangelizing Dutch Blitz and enjoyed some very intense games (only minor injuries were incurred). We next had some great times with brother J, which included a dinner with his friends during which I laughed so hard I was almost bawling and my stomach hurt the next day. It was great - the topic at hand had something to do with baby-related matters that might be indelicate to record in this public forum and isn't that funny when I re-tell it anyway. The evening was a hoot. 

We're thankful to all who take the time to come this way, we are blessed and thank you!

These weeks of Lent have been admittedly less reflective than usual, but we have been able to take part in Wednesday soup suppers, which always bring a calm centering to the middle of any week (not to mention delicious conversation and sensational soups). If anything, I increasingly notice the families and how they soak in the meal, the memory verse, and the activities. I'm so thankful to have grown up attending such events, so now as I think of raising a child I look forward to continuing these traditions as a family. I'm going to be honest - I also notice that often the parents don't really seem to eat because they're so busy feeding their kids. So I especially savor my soup on Wednesdays. 

In other memorable moments, I took Friday off to be domestic and cook breakfast for our brothers and their friends who were here going to the NCAA tournaments, run errands, catch up on life . . . and had a rather odd day. I took a nice morning walk in which I slipped on ice (again, yes) and did quite a number to my tailbone. Anyways, no lasting harm done except having to slow down and ask for more help. =) I also ended an era of my life when I went to Caribou and . . . turned myself in. I've been an imposter employee for some time now, hardly working and basically just enjoying my discount card. So yeah, I quit (and handed in the discount card).  It was a mix of emotions, but I mostly feel thankful for the 2 1/2 years that I got to be part of the "Caribou Club" - I'll miss belonging to that community, but maybe I'll find myself back there again someday. It was a good, long run. 

Yesterday Trevor and I felt like real Minnesotans when we joined some friends at the State Theater for a live broadcast of "A Prairie Home Companion." The 2 hours flew with singing, dialogues, hilarity, and relaxation.  I'd go back again for sure, and would recommend the show to anyone who can laugh at good ole midwestern humor. 

So, here we go into another week - in less than two weeks we'll find out if we need to paint our green room pink! 

And in randomness . . . 

I don't have a very representative collage of pics from the last month, but here are some.

At Original Pancake House, celebrating dad's birthday. I think this was pre-caffeine or something, our eyes look a little half closed.

At IKEA. This was our second trip there, much more successful and relaxing than the first (which was at about 4pm on Saturday - should've known!). Here are the guys hanging out on the lawn and garden furniture. Now we just have to assemble the furniture. Sometime. I think IKEA was a very bonding experience this trip, and it was incredibly much more fun and bearable with the support of family!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

It's all about the baby

Well, since this is kind of a baby's blog, I guess it's time for a post about . . . the baby. As I've said, we call him Sammy (and yes, we refer to him as "him" because we just really think that's what he is!). Sammy had a big week - according to somewhat reliable sources, he is about the size of a small pomegranate and would likely fit in the palm of my hand. His joints are forming, as are his sweat glands. I think he started making his presence known, I've been feeling some little tummy flutterings - then again, I really want to feel him move, so maybe everything I feel I equate to his movement . . . and yes, Trevor still tries to feel him but the said reliable sources (you know, the internet, the half-dozen books that I peruse before going to bed, other moms that I relentlessly quiz about their pg experiences) say that Trev won't feel him for another several weeks. 

I still hear almost every day, "I can't believe how BIG you're getting". And recently a few people have been questioning whether or not I'm having twins. To which I say NOOOOOOOOO, not possible. My brother has recently latched on to the fact that we are having twins, and refers to the situation as "That will be so cool/weird/amazing/can you imagine having a baby in each arm?!?" Oh my. I'm pretty sure I'm just plain getting big (or maybe am farther along that the doc thinks? By my calculations, I'm almost 20 weeks . . . ). And then there's my wonderful husband who the other day while giving me my nightly chiropractic treatment by hugging me and lifting me off the ground said, "Wow. You are definitely getting heavier." Put that one on the list of, "You can only say that when I'm pregnant." I also have a new rule that anyone living in this house is not allowed to lose any weight while I am gaining, so I'm going to start adding inordinate amounts of butter and cream to any cooking that I do. Okay, point is, Sammy is growing and alive and for that we are so thankful.

Tuesday was a big baby day - we had a 17 week check-up where we got to hear the heartbeat (to be honest, it took her what felt like forever to find it, and I had a moment of panic). Once she did find it (phew!), she had to keep moving the doppler around because he was moving so much! I am measuring fine, gaining weight appropriately, good blood pressure, and I guess we'll find out lots more about Sammy in just three weeks. My new concern now is about the doctors and method of delivery we've chosen, pronounced by the other big baby thing we started this week: Bradley Birthing Method classes ( We're very excited to be learning about relaxation, exercise, and nutrition as a means to trying to have a natural birth. To be honest, I never thought I'd even like to try having a natural birth, but after reading about all the benefits to mother and baby (connection, bonding, likeliness of breastfeeding) and all the drawbacks to drugs (increased likelihood of c-section among them) . . . well, I just feel impassioned about at least trying to go au naturale. Anyways, I recently heard an analogy that you wouldn't go to Burger King for a steak dinner because that's not what they specialize in . . . and you don't go to a hospital/OB for a natural birth because that's not what they specialize in. Now, I'm not freaking out about all this, but all these thoughts (and I admit, propaganda in some senses!) has left me with lots to ponder.

Any advice? (I hear some of you saying - RELAX)!

Speaking of relaxing, that brings me to some other thoughts recently. It's ironic that this Bradley Method I'm subscribing to is focused on relaxing. I don't relax well - yet it's a practice I feel very challenged to more recently. My high strung ways cannot always be healthy for this little one growing inside of me. So yeah, our first Bradley class this week (which is another topic in itself - just like out of a movie, sitting in a comfortable living room with 6 other couples, all the women big-bellied. We all have this ONE big thing in common, and maybe nothing else - who knows? And yet we're all watching graphic movies, practicing funny exercises, and eventually laying on the floor as the husbands massage the wives). In short, I'm trying to relax about class - I mean, there are a LOT of exercises you're supposed to do every day, you're supposed to track what you eat every day, relax for 20 minutes twice a day. I started to get all tense thinking of it as one more thing. BUT, I'm relaxing into it - I hope - and just doing what I can to, well, relax. Do I sound convincing to anyone? I'm not oblivious to the vicious cycle of getting stressed about being stressed - oy. On another note, I think it is going to be so helpful for Trevor and I to feel more connected through this whole process - I mean, he's the coach! And he has a hard job too, all the supporting, encouraging, coaching, massaging . . . watching what I eat, ha ha. I'm excited to continue this journey and for his constant love and support. We were just talking today how we're being taught to see birth as an athletic event for which we're in training (well, he was good to remind me that I am in training - he is coaching. Ha! The analogies are fun and helpful).

I am continually amazed, blessed, and thankful for the generosity of so many friends - about 6 weeks in I literally started praying, "God, I would love some help and hand-me-downs . . . but don't know who or how to ask - so please just let the right people offer . . ." God is good, and people are so very generous. From bella bands, to breastfeeding books (and all manner of other kinds of books!), to maternity clothes, baby boppies, a sling, and more maternity clothes. Well, God knows how I love to shop (read sarcasm) and so I'm just amazed to not have had to go out and get almost anything . . . yet. I know I will have to. Soon. And then there's my amazing parents who toiled with us on two trips to IKEA last weekend to help us get some very cheap bedroom furniture that will allow us to now furnish our nursery (and they saved things from my baby-hood that we will be using, crib, rocking chair, high-chair - meaningful and useful!). THANK YOU ALL, you know who you are. And on top of all that, just when Trevor was saying, "Where are we going to put all this furniture (bike, bookcase, desk, bed . . . )?" to which I said, "One thing at a time, one thing at a time" - some dear friends let us know they'd love to borrow the guest bed and our desk for their home. THANK YOU. These small things are so comforting and remind me that everything will be prepared and will get done - one thing at a time.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Happy birthday to . . . DAD!

Today is a day to be celebrated in my world . . . happy birthday, Dad! I'm increasingly thankful for my dad and all the love he's given me, the lessons he's taught (and is teaching) me and the legacy he leaves in his daily life. He is a man of character and integrity and discipline and perspective and humor and insight. And he knows how to celebrate - my dad always finds ways to make every day special, and especially birthdays. We look forward to celebrating this one with him here in our town in a few days . . .

Now that we are entering the reality of becoming parents ourselves, I have a new appreciation for mine and all that they are and all that they have always been to me. It's overwhelming at times to know that they knew me from this teeny stage that Trev and I are experiencing right now- they were having some of the same thoughts and feelings, no doubt.

Just a few memories I'd like to appreciate about my dad on his birthday today are:
  • Springtime & activities- we took countless morning and evening bike rides around the neighborhood, played basketball at nearby parks.
  • Vacations & hiking & observations - I am so thankful for all the places my parents took us while we were growing up. My dad and I as often as possible would wake up early wherever we were to go explore the land (which was usually beautiful) by hiking and jogging through woods, along the Grand Canyon, by the ocean.
  • Road trips - I have very early memories of my dad taking me to work on the road as he would travel to see different customers. I also remember picnics and I recall him being home a lot. I always felt very loved and I don't take that for granted.
  • Saturdays - watching cartoons together on the big brown chair, making cinnamon toast, working in the yard, running errands. Saturdays were always special.
  • Sundays - I have amazing Sunday memories with my dad. From when my brother was a baby and he would bring me to church, to making cinnamon toast or eggs after church, to just relaxing in the evenings. Sundays were always great.
  • College days, married days, expecting baby days - through every stage of my life, my dad has been there and has been involved and interested and encouraging in whatever I was going through. He always gets to know my friends (he would dine with me in the college cafeteria on his way through town even!), he calls my husband a son, and he's excited to be a grandpa. I'm so thankful too that he's let me in on his life, that I can know his friends and his interests and his thoughts.

And more memories - my dad is awesome at taking time to remember events/occasions/celebrations and reminiscing about the good times. I came across some pictures that bring back memories and also illustrate some of the values my dad holds that I so appreciate . . .

Always helping - almost every time they come to visit us, my parents are helping us do something to improve our house. And to make it even better, he pretends to love doing it. =) Below was this summer's patio project.

Always making time for . . . fun! Dad (and mom of course!) have literally let us see the world (notice, we're at Epcot in this picture, where we went to France, Germany, Morocco, Russia, the UK, Canada . . .).

Always giving - this is my dad with children from the "God's Child Project" in Guatemala. Since I left for college (and probably before!) he has been extremely involved with this organization, giving countless hours, millions of thoughts, and many pieces of his heart to this awesome ministry. He has been a constant example to me of living to give, how to be a faithful steward of all we've been given.

Always prioritizing family - this picture is of my parents' 25th wedding anniversary. I continually appreciate my parents' marriage relationship and am so thankful for their example. In loving my mom, my dad really does love his children too.

All that to say, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DK!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

In memory of . . .

Almost exactly two years ago this week, I was on my way back home from a wonderful and whirlwind trip to Germany. I love to look back on "a year ago, I was, we were . . . in a year from now we'll be, we hope . . . ".  And well, I'm so glad I took this girls' trip to a foreign land for so many reasons: The memories. The strengthened friendships with my dear friends Rachel and Rachel from college days. The forged new friendships with our in-country hosts, a couple who ended up moving to our area just months later and became dear friends. The fact that I'll probably not be taking such trips any time in the near future! In memory, I'm going to have fun posting some pictures below. 

A few highlights of the trip were:

COFFEE - we are all coffee nuts, and pretty much just went from place to place finding whatever coffee fix we could. The sips were all the more blissful because of the rainy conditions. The chocolate was good too. 

RAIN - I love dreary days, and there were plenty. One Rachel and I ended up getting caught in the rain (as in, locked out) and it's a great memory thinking of Rachel trying to hoist herself up to a window by standing on a garbage can. 

SPA - Our first day there our hosts took us to the edge of the Black Forest, where we swam in a huge hot tub, sat under heated lamps, and sat in aromatherapy rooms. What a way to start the trip. 

HIKING - We hiked a hill to see a castle. Hiked 
our hosts neighborhood for long walks and in pursuit of more coffee. Hiked by streams, across bridges, down cobbled streets of Heidelburg. Gorgeous. 

Here are some pics . . . 

At the spa . . . cheap and wonderful (in case anyone's wondering, we stayed in the fully clothed section)

Coffee . . . of course. This was at a charming cafe at Worms, where Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses. 

At the Schneitzel House. With lots of fries. No coffee.

Outside of a place where we got streudle. We ate in the basement that was an ancient wine cellar - the restaurant is known for bringing your meat to you raw for you to cook on a hot lava stone. 

Good times - thank you to our fab hosts, Sarah & Zach. For some reason right now, I feel like just flying to Vegas or something for a few days. Anyone game?