Saturday, May 30, 2009

So many thanks

Once again, Trevor is trimming the lawn, and I am growing our baby (after running errands, making salsa, cleaning, organizing, bringing cookies & milk to my brother's contract crew). Life is so good right now, we are immeasurably blessed - I'm overwhelmed and humbled and feel so incredibly undeserving. So much so, that I've struggled this week with the thought that something must be about to go wrong to balance out all this right-ness. Yes, I'm afraid the fear crept in again this week, but as I gave up (and continue to give up) the fears, I find that something else creeps in alongside . . . peace. Trust. Assurance. Thankfulness. Present-mindedness. Realization of what life is to me and how I approach it. In short, through the struggle of fear, God's presence is more real than ever, and for that I am ever thankful. And really, it often takes the struggles to experience sweet grace.

I allowed myself a brief meltdown this morning when the bag of parts for the crib was no where to be found . . . I'll be raw here: I was ashamed at my reaction (i.e. frustration and anger all geared at Trevor). My lack of support and encouragement was embarrassing. The meltdown came when Trevor placed the bag of parts in front me (it was in a bag filled with diapers - logical, right?). I started voicing my fears through tears - I mean, if I react like that to such a minor thing, how will I react to my child - so much of my reaction are based out of a lack of control, and what can be controlled LESS than an infant (and toddler, and preschooler, and child, and teenager, and . . . ). It was just one of those moments of not being able to conceive the future. And really, it's trying to conceive (and control) the future that gets me into so much trouble! All that said, it was a good reminder that I am NOT in control. And there comes God's presence, and the thankfulness of knowing He IS. What a relief. He does things so much better than I can, when I let Him take over.

Okay, confession over (for now), so on to the fun stuff! Trevor and I got back a few days ago from a wonderful trip to our homes in NoDak. I can hardly begin to express what a joy it always is to be welcomed lovingly by our families as we take over their houses, eat their food (that they prepare for us), steal their time, and make us the center of their world for a few days! HA! Truly, it struck me how amazing it is that we have two sanctuaries to return to in Bismarck - in essence, the best bed and breakfasts that I'm sure we'll ever find because of the way they know us, love us, seek to understand us - and the way they share their lives with us, their wisdom, their stories. That they take time off from work to just be with us, and to know that it is their joy, is a gift.

And now in addition, they way they already love Baby K is just a new extension of their selfless and caring hearts. I can't wait for our little girl to meet all her grandparents.

So yes, the time in Bis was whilrwind as ever, but every details seems etched in my mind already. Everything pretty much built up to Saturday, which was a day of parties in the form of showers (as Trev's uncle asked: "Did you get really clean in Bismarck? I'm not sure why you had to go all that way for a shower - there's plenty of water here in Minneapolis"). Anyways, the day started with a bridal shower for my dearest cousin Hope. I need to go on about Hope a little bit here - I think she is the first friend I ever had, when I really think about it. We played together from the time she was born (and I shamefully admit that I was often and awful cousin and bossed her around, telling her things like she can't play with cars, I would take away my little handheld piano from her grip . . . awful!). Here's the thing about Hope, she has always and does still have the kindest and softest heart. She's always taking care of others, thinking of others, interested in others. She is a woman of character and grace and I'm so thankful that I've had the joy of knowing her from such an early age. To celebrate her upcoming marriage and wedding was an honor, and it was elating to watch the love "showered" on her by family and friends. That, and the chance to catch up with other aunts and cousins during that time was precious. Not to mention all the fun surroundings of fuschia and orange decorations, elaborate display of food, engaging games, and happy chatter from everyone else - a great memory already.

There was a little break, and then we all caravanned out to Trev's parents home where his mom threw me a baby shower. WOW. I am still processing it all . . . the setting was perfect, the table laid out with such care and creativity: a "diaper cake" with an adorable stuffed animal on top that wound up and played a lullaby. The refreshing treats, the caribou coffee, the lullaby music in the background, the balloon boquet, the lavendar accents in plates and cutlery, the "pea in the pod" theme. There was a display of pictures of Trevor and I from our own baby days. I know I'm biased, but Trevor was an adorable baby, it was fun to see the pics. In all, the beautiful atmosphere put guests at ease and provided such a peaceful way to spend the afternoon. And the games! There was a "baby animal" game, "price is right" (which our 9 year old niece Courtney led and did a fantastic job!), everyone guessed how much I measured around, and we ended with the "dirty diaper game" (as gross as it sounds, and I definitely requested this one - simply melt different varieties of chocolate bars, one per diaper . . . pass around the room and have people record their guesses as to what kind of candy bar is making the diaper dirty. Grotesquely hilarious). Next the gift opening - my gosh, such a humbling afternoon of attention and love and generosity. Trevor and I are overwhelmed by everyone's grace in gifting us so much with the things needed to start a nursery and care for a baby. The pink tissue paper was flying, and I'm thankful to everyone for helping us and look forward to using the gifts and thinking of the givers all the while. I was especially awed by the family who drove so many miles to be there for the special occasion - aunts, cousins, and my gma especially who came from several hours away. Wow.

Oh, and one more shower memory - Trev's mom had everyone who wanted to write some parenting advice on notecards and I'd like to record some of my faves:

  • from dear Grandma Carole: "Have a good babysitter when you need one (like uncle Drew!)"
  • from my wise teenage cousin Siennah: "Be understanding and loving, but also have rules"
  • from sweet Grandma Eileen: "When your baby cries, she does that for a reason, so if she is happy when you pick her up, do so!"
  • and one of my favorites from Kristi, a friend of the family I've known since I was young: "Have an epidural!" HA!

That night was a lovely bachelorette party for Hope, a fondue party which ended up being the perfect way to unwind after the fast-paced day.

All too soon we were making our rounds on Sunday to see grandparents and spend time with parents, packing up and getting ready to head back east. We can't wait to go back again in September with Baby K in person.

And in baby news . . . today has been largely all about her room - the gifts are unpacked, clothes hanging up, and Trevor assembled the crib (the same one I used as a baby!). This week was filled with lots of backyard fire-pit/patio hosting, a picnic today and a bbq tonight, an old friend's  baby shower tomorrow. Life really is too good, and we're savoring each day. Little Baby K has been kicking up a storm many times a day and it never gets old to just sit and feel her move around and try to guess what body part she's choosing to exercise.

Lastly for now, here are just a few pics with of the weekend in Bis:

Trevor and his family's golden retriever, Max - after a walk and watching the sunset over the Missouri River

My dear cousin Hope with her grandmas, and a sea of fuschia and orange. 

My mom, me, and my mom-in-law (at her house). Check out the diaper cake!

DeKreys and Popes and our niece Courtney unwinding with a lovely brunch

Me with my grandparents (I regret not getting a picture with my gma from my dad's side at my shower . . . )

Me and my dad man, post parties

Belly bumping

On our way back to Bis, with my BF in tow! I hadn't seen her since the day I found out I was pregnant . . .

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Landscaping and growing babies

Division of labor in marriage is always an interesting thing - I know I've said this before, but I'm just so much more "traditional" than I thought I would be in the stereotypical gender roles. And this was more pronounced this weekend than ever, as I cleaned, cooked, and did laundry while Trevor labored outside planting hostas, weeding & mowing. However, I added something else to my "list" that I'm taking full advantage of: growing a baby. So yes, I grew my baby while taking a nap today while yes, Trevor continued to labor outside.  What I love about my husband (among a million other things) is that I told him I took a nap and he thought that was simply great news. Wow. 

I'm also very thankful for fun happenings this weekend . . . a bonfire here with good friends, interesting discussion at youth group, lunch on the patio with our small group, and now waiting for our brothers to arrive for the evening.  The service this morning was also special, two songs were played or referenced that we had at our wedding: "Come thou fount of every blessing" and "For the beauty of the earth. " Music is so powerful and stirs such memories. 

Baby stuff this week included another wonderful midwife appointment, hearing Baby K's heartbeat, and researching strollers. So many options. I can't help but think that baby gear and preparations have been increasingly commercialized in much the same way that weddings have. I mean, did our parents have all these options/opinions/stores/web sites that just offer more opportunities to spend more money on things that maybe aren't necessary?  Just something I've been pondering, the parallels of engagement/wedding/marriage to pregnancy/birth/parenthood. The thoughts are simmering and will boil in another blog post later. 

We're very excited to be heading home to NoDak this week to spend time with our families - road trip! 

Monday, May 11, 2009

Pics and such

I have to admit that last week my mind was in a gazillion places, which was causing some anxiety . . . thoughts of things I "need" to research, learn, and prepare were taking over and making feel like I couldn't possibly so any of those things! Thanks to some praying and perspective - AND to wonderful Trevor and his ability to move and assemble furniture - the space in my brain was feeling much more open by the weekend. We enjoyed some various activities like going to a baptism class at our church, lunching with friends, flower shopping with another friend, and driving to Red Wing for Mother's Day. And now that I write all that, talk about perspective - I am truly blessed in countless ways.

Before I mention Mother's Day again, I want to borrow from my friend Rachel's blog (it's private, or I would surely link to her!) some thoughts about how very difficult Mother's Day can be for so many people. People who have lost their mothers, want more badly than anything to be a mother, have broken relationships with their mothers . . . or never knew their mothers. I just want to acknowledge an understanding that this is not a happy day for too many people. And I'm also humbled with thanks that I am to be able to celebrate with joy this holiday for SO many reasons - I know my mother, and I love her incredibly. She is my best friend and a mentor to me, she has poured love on me my whole life and has taught me so much about being a wife, mother, and friend. Her selflessness has impacted my heart and my life probably more than I'll ever know. I love you mom! I have an amazing mother-in-law who has welcomed me graciously and whole-heartedly into her life and into her family. She also has taught me so much about all the various roles that women play, and how to play them all with grace and balance. I love you too, Lorie! I have a plethora of grandmothers in my life - my own, as well as Trevor's - true women of character and intelligence and wit and wisdom. I am so thankful. And I even have some "like-a-mother" moms from different stages in my life, from college, to our time in Virginia, to here. The verse in Titus 2 is so true of ALL these amazing women in my life: By looking at them, the younger women will know how to love their husbands and children, be virtuous and pure, be good wives. And really, SO much more.

In addition to being able to celebrate moms this year, to actually BE one (even to one I haven't met face to face yet) was such a blessing. In so many ways, I feel like I know Baby K so well already - I envision her, pray for her constantly, feel her many times a day. Her presence is already so tangible, and the love I feel for her already so deep and, well, mother-like. I was so thankful to get to spend the weekend with Trevor, who reminded me of what a memorable weekend we had in learning more about baptism, preparing our home for her arrival, and driving to Red Wing for a little day trip. Actually, it was more like a 4 hour trip, most of the things in Red Wing are closed on Sunday! But we did savor the drive and took time to talk about a birth plan, cloth diapers, and strollers (wow, we sound really boring and task-oriented I think!). We did really have such a nice time just being together, and even stopped at IKEA on the way back for furniture and ice cream (great combination, by the way). Thank you, Trevor, for making the day so special and really celebrating - it is a joy beyond words to be able to share every step of this journey with you. And every step of the journey before this baby journey too.

When we got home, we grilled and ate dinner with my bro on the patio, a relaxing and beautiful time.

And here are some updated profile pictures of the belly. In this one I'm sucking in. Trevor took it, I looked at and said, "I'm not really that small!" So I fessed up.

I think this one is a little more real - on the exhale, you know. I love just letting loose, I think that's one of the best things about this wonderful belly (besides the baby inside, of course. And I guess a lot more things. But the letting go is definitely wonderful).

Monday, May 4, 2009

Supply and Demand

No, I'm talking about the kind of supply and demand we all learned about in 10th grade Economics class. The kind I'm talking about is directly related to motherhood, and I'm finding that it can be applied to many other things as well. This past week our Bradley class focused on C-sections and breastfeeding (at this point, I need to give a heavy and long disclaimer: I've become shockingly adept at talking bluntly about topics that to others might not seem very modest. I could go on and on about all the miraculous biology that comes with pregnancy because I never really knew much about it. For instance, my body has literally grown and continues to grow an organ that is feeding the baby that is growing inside one of my other organs. I am truly fascinated by how our bodies were created!). Back to supply and demand. And breastfeeding. Because yes, the two go together - or so I've heard several times in the last week from our instructor and various books. So "they" say that the more you breastfeed, the more milk you will provide. I just could not wrap my brain around that, I mean that your body just does this, I almost couldn't believe it. And then something happened that has helped it all make sense: I got a cold. And as the days went on, I soon noticed that the more I blew my nose, the more I had to blow my nose. Supply and demand? Maybe. In any case, it helped the concept sink into my mind - that our bodies are simply capable of producing substances (whether good or bad) and eliminating and producing again. So really, the timing of this cold was a blessing in that it helped me actually believe that I can provide food for our baby (because yes, I've literally had nightmares that I can't give our baby what it needs. But really, lesson learned and the sniffles can go away any time now.

So there's my blunt biology blubberings for the day. Just ask my brother, I have to be stopped at times from giving just too much information.

On to the weekly news . . . in short, it was a wonderful week and weekend. On Friday I called in sick to work, the first time I've ever called in sick to literally any job I've ever had (that I can remember, anyway). Pride-wise, I wanted to tough it out, but I did stay home (for the baby, of course!). Which reminds me, I'm loving playing the pregnancy card - watch out all you out there, I am ready to take advantage of your kind services and offers to carry things, drive me, feed me. The day of rest was a gift, and Baby K must have liked it too because she was kicking so hard I could see her moving through my clothes. Baby K also must really be wearing on my immune system, because I've never had this many maladies in such a short amount of time. Interesting pg symptom.

We spent Saturday and Sunday in Fargo, and got to see lots of family and cram in many good times in just a day and a half. We celebrated Mother's Day with my parents, saw uncles, an aunt, a cousin, some brothers, had good eats, played some Dutch Blitz, and took some refreshing coffee breaks. One of the highlights was when my mom and I went to the Elton John/Billy Joel concert. It was truly amazing, and such a fun thing to do together. I will always remember before the show, sitting in our seats my mom pulled out a packet of my baby pictures and we sat there and just talked all things baby. And the music and entertainment was just phenomenal and is already a treasured memory. Baby K's favorite song was "Benny & the Jets", she pounded me during the entire tune. We also had fun moments shopping for maternity clothes and perusing the infant section of every store we could find that had one. Wow, it could be quite fun to dress this little doll!

Dressing. Staring with . . . cloth diapers. That's next on my research list - any suggestions? I do have to say for the record, because I'll want to remember someday, when I asked my mom if she used cloth diapers her response was: "Yes. And I can still smell the diaper pail." Oh my, all of a sudden that cottage cheese I just ate isn't settling so well. But yes, we're going to try it. And to be honest, not so much because we're "green" but because we are c-h-e-a-p and willing to try something that could save us a lot of the other kind of green.