Monday, November 23, 2009

Prepare to be surprised

That's what Dan says. You know, Dan in Real Life. Ah, Dan, he is always right!

Actually, my husband is always right, but more about that later.

This past week was a blur, we (by we, I mean Karis and me) fell into a nice groove with some lunch dates and even got out to a book club discussion. Oh my was it wonderful to talk about a book in good company on a cozy evening!

I spent parts of Thursday and Friday preparing for what I thought was a youth group girls' sleepover/going away party for one of our dear girls that I thought I was planning. Oh yes, I shot off e-mails to coordinate food and to make sure I knew who all was coming. I ran to Sam's Club for breakfast goodies and snacks for the guys' game night that was happening at our house concurrently. I spent the week feeling the invigoration that comes from doing things that you love, and also anticipating the events (read: I couldn't wait to PARTY. I love a good party, especially a good girl party!). Friday afternoon came and I packed up the car to go to the sleepover destination (a youth grouper's amazing house!) while Trevor changed Karis . . . and off Karis and I went to get there early to help set up for the taco bar that the girls and some of the moms would enjoy to kick off the night of fun and honoring Megan (said farewell party gal). I got there and the gorgeous hostesses had already set everything up, streamers and bowls of pink m & m's, fun dishes to assemble the food. I thought, "How sweet of them to go all out for Megan!"

I went to use the restroom right before dinner, and when I came out they were all standing around the table just staring at me. I assumed they were just waiting for me to pray, so I apologized and said, "Okay, let's pray so we can eat!" And they came back with, "Surprise! We turned it into a baby shower!" To which I just laughed as in, "ha ha, that's funny." And they said, "No, we're serious!" And sure enough, in the 2 minutes that I was in the bathroom they had placed a diaper cake on the center of the table, whipped out a corsage made out of baby socks (so cute!) and placed gifts by my chair. WHAT?!? I have never been so surprised in my life, I still can't believe it happened! It's humbling and beautiful to receive such love, these girls and moms had been planning the event for some time (you know, the event I thought I was planning), and had pulled Trevor into it too. They played my favorite music (Dan in Real Life Soundtrack, of course), we had dinner and cake and ice cream and then Megan and I took turns opening gifts. The sweetest thing was when the girls all went downstairs "to work on some things" after dinner while the moms dished out cake . . . they were down there writing out the most precious cards. The party continued with some hilarious games, including "baby catch phrase" and "baby pictionary". A riot to be sure, the laughter was raucous and some of the drawings for pictionary were too. Those girls all give me great hope for raising a daughter in this world. More on that later. Anyways, what a memorable evening and I can hardly wait to one day show Karis the pictures and tell her the stories of how people lavished love on her as a baby.

This weekend we also took part in a tradition I've been doing since college days: Operation Christmas Child. The only difference about this year is the number of boxes I was able to pack: in 90 minutes I packed about 1 1/2 boxes. The rest of the time was spent holding Karis and feeding Karis. If I'm being very honest, many of those minutes were also spent talking to people - including a gal I recognized from my previous employer, she had done contract work and I think I only met her once there. Crazy!

One last weekend story begs to be told. I mean, you all need to know why Trevor is alwaysright. We had another date on Sunday afternoon. I was less traumatized about leaving Karis this time, but apparently still slightly traumatized because I spent most of the date very crabby (or maybe I was crabby because we started the date talking about our finances and then another part talking about Christmas shopping, and then most of the parts were spent in malls which are rarely the happiest of places for me). Sounds like a long date with so many parts, doesn't it? So anyways, per tradition of our dates we went to a fancy mall to spend some gift certificates we had. We proceeded to get some coffee from the Good Earth Cafe that tasted like hot water (read: increase crabby-ness, I am admittedly a coffee snob and feel some kind of right to have really good coffee whenever I pay money for it). Then we went to JC Penny's (because of a great coupon that had to be used by that day - which is another topic altogether, the need to spend to save). So I thought we could find some gifts for our dads . . . and Trevor said, "Oh, we should get them _______". I wish I could write what the item is because it would make so much more sense when I tell you that my response was, "That's a horrible idea. They're like $40 and they don't even sell them here!" Crabby, crabby, crabby. I huffily decided I really needed a redemptive cup of coffee from Caribou so we rounded a corner to go down the escalator, and what would be RIGHT THERE but the item Trevor suggested. Not only did they have it, it was on a crazy good sale. Crabby-ness started to abate as I almost laughed and told Trevor I owe him an apology. He said, "Yes, you do. And I think you should get down on your knees." So I did. I got down on my knees in the middle of JC Penney and apologized for telling him he doesn't have good ideas. And I really was sorry. And I really do like our dates. For some reason the best stories are manufactured in JC Penneys. Weird.

The redemptive coffee was delicious, and I was quite satisfied at having spent money to save money on some stellar gifts. We were both very excited to pick up Karis, and both very thankful for those couple hours together. I am especially thankful for Trevor who loves me so genuinely that he doesn't resent my crabby-ness. Thank you, Trevor.

We of course have so much for which to give thanks . . . I pray you all have a beautiful celebration wherever you are. We'll be back in NoDak, thankful to be with our families!

Here's my funny honey . . . hours and hours of entertainment this girl is!

The party gals . . . Megan graciously shared her party with me (please notice the adorable corsage made out of baby socks!)

I love these girls (and their moms too!)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Happy Birthday to . . .


I hope that I'm now a mom, I have a new appreciation for my own mother. I definitely feel more appreciative - but this is not about me today, this is about her!

Because . . . to my mom, nothing is about her. She is the most selfless, most generous, kind-hearted, compassionate, thoughtful, servant-hearted, optimistic, wise, purposeful, faithful, beautiful-inside-and-out women that I know. There are too many qualities to list, too many anecdotes to share, too many ways to show how completely amazing she is. And I cannot tell you how proud I am to say that she is MY MOM! My mom is constantly celebrating others, and I pray that she had a beautiful day of BEING celebrated like she deserves. How I wish I could give her a hug right now!

My mom is always doing special things, especially for her children - just this week I got two pieces of mail from her of pictures from Karis's baptism. Ever since I've not lived at home, my mom has sent me "tidbits" - articles from the Bismarck newspaper, recipes, pictures, & greeting cards. My mom makes every day unique and fun, and always lets her children know how much she thinks of them. When we go home, she stuffs our closet full of goodies, and it's always so much fun to discover the treasures she's collected as a way to show us her love . . . candy, magazines she's finished, shoes she's passing along to me, candles, cooking supplies, and now little things and outfits for Karis. Really, she makes every day just fun! I have memories of working with my mom around the house - whether going through closets, organizing, or cleaning - she would make sure we took breaks to enjoy a treat or just sit and relax. I treasure those memories. My mom taught me that life can be crazy, but sometimes you just have to turn it all off and have a cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate and enjoy rest.

My mom is the most incredible and attentive listener. She genuinely loves to hear people's stories and is accepting of everyone, appreciating where they've been and encouraging to where they're going.

My mom makes the simple things extraordinary. I have one specific memory from elementary school when she went upstairs and wouldn't let us come up until she came down to get us . . . we went upstairs to find the counter laden with makings for banana splits. It's those little things that stick out in my mind of all the thought my mom takes into seizing each day and the way she takes delight in her family. I've never known anyone so loyally devoted to her family - I have never once doubted her commitment to us all.

I love that my mom loves music and reading and traveling and bargain hunting shopping and baking and cooking and homemaking and exploring and walking and drinking coffee (all things I hope I've learned from her to appreciate!).

Have I mentioned what an awesome wife my mom is? She teaches by example how to honor and love and respect her husband, such a gift to me.

My mom is wise and thoughtful and she can always find silver lining in any situation - she trusts God's goodness even in the midst of difficult circumstances or pain. I've seen my mom weather some very tough times with grace and composure.

My mom is the hardest working and most efficient person alive, seriously. She can organize a HUGE fundraiser for Thanksgiving Day and STILL have a massive turkey dinner on the table only hours later. She's basically superwoman. Because she's still smiling at the end of the day!

These past months as I've watched my mom be a grandmother, I've seen her heart explode to new capacities. I can see in her eyes and hear in her voice her adoration for Karis, and I am humbled to no end to think that God would bless our family such depths of love. A recent memory that blessed me so much was when I called my mom as I walked into the hospital as I was in labor - the elation in her voice really made me think, "Okay, I'm ready. I can do this - I'm going to me meet my little girl soon!"

Can it be that I was once my mom's little girl in that way? Thank you mom, for being the best mom always.

I can only pray to be even a fraction of the mother that my mom is to me . . . thank you, mom, for showing me how to love. I love you SO much and am celebrating you today and always.

And Karis says Happy Birthday, too!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Karis's Baptism

How can I even begin to sum up Karis's baptism? Many months ago when Karis was just a little bump in my belly we went to a class at our church that examined the sacrament of baptism and its great significance in our lives. We went to the class wondering if we would baptize or dedicate Karis (thus wait for her to make her own decision to be baptized at whatever age that would be), and our subsequent discussions both felt a great peace about baptizing Karis as an infant. To be honest, for the first time in my adult life I gave serious thought to my own baptism as an infant, and memories came flooding back to the way my parents yearly celebrated my baptism day by lighting the candle they received after I was sprinkled with the water as an almost 3 month old. I became incredibly grateful that my family committed me to the Lord as a baby and promised to raise me in His ways. I became incredibly grateful for how they kept the promises they made at my baptism. And I began to really thank God for the mystery of baptism and thank Him for His promises that He has fulfilled in my life.

Trevor and I had a lot of peace about having Karis baptized as an infant . . . and speaking to Trevor's baptism - well, I was at his baptism in our high school years, and it was so special and beautiful to watch him profess his faith and be immersed in the cleansing water. He was also baptized as an infant, which was also meaningful to our decision.

Have I mentioned lately what a joy it is to be a parent with Trevor? Making decisions in the interest in and love for Karis is a new and wonderful stage in life's journey together.

We were thankful to have both our families here for the weekend to celebrate Karis's special occasion, we love watching them delight in our little girl!

One of the most significant parts of the weekend for Trevor and me happened Saturday morning. Grandma and Grandpa watched Karis while we snuck away to have a date (which of course equalled errand running that revolved around Karis). From Sam's Club (to pick up pictures of Karis) to Target (to get flowers and a card for Karis), we spent the time talking about . . . Karis and baptism, and Karis's baptism. What it means to us, and what we pray it will mean to her. Something that struck me as I was processing it all is the words we use to describe her baptism: as in, we did not "get Karis baptized" but rather "Karis was baptized". I think those words bear an important distinction, or they do in my mind at least. The act is not one that we initiated or completed, but one that God did.

Anyways, that hour that Trevor and I had together was so precious because Sunday was mainly a blur of getting ourselves and Karis ready for church, changing not one but TWO quite dirty diapers within 10 minutes of getting to church (seriously hilarious, it's like babies just know the "best" time to get "it" out of the way - we were thankful it was at the beginning and not in the middle of the service!). The service was beautiful and our pastor referred to Karis multiple times through the sermon as he spoke of baptism and All Saint's Day. One thing unique to the baptism service is that all the children are welcome and encouraged to come to the altar and witness the baptism close-up - we're blessed to be part of a faith community that esteems children to the highest degree and enfolds them continually as part of the congregation - because they ARE! The act of baptism was memorable, being up at the front of the church and speaking the liturgy feels just so different when it's for your child. The renouncing of evil, the proclamation of good, the promise to raise Karis to also proclaim God's goodness. One moment that sticks out in my mind is when our pastor blessed the water, watching him make the sign of the cross in the water, and then sprinkling the water on Karis's sleeping head. She truly is a child of God, dearly loved by Him and so many others. I was so humbled to think that God would entrust us with this dear child who brings so much joy to countless lives already.

We then were asked to read the verses we chose for Karis - they are the verses that I read every birthday celebration that I have, to me they're a poignant reminder of God's intricate love for each person and remind me always of His design and delight in each life:

Psalm 139: 13-16

13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.

14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

15 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,

16 your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

The celebration continued with a little reception at our home where we were thrilled to welcome friends and family - the whole day was such a blur, and I'm having fun remembering it in the details that come back to mind. Karis was gorgeous, and the sweet spirit we've prayed for her is evident in her shining eyes and expressive actions. We love this little girl more than we thought possible, and we're reminded that God loves us all even more than the love we could ever feel or experience.

I just realized about a week ago how significant the date of Karis's baptism is (November 1st) - it was exactly one year ago on that weekend that Trevor and I earnestly started praying about growing our family . . . how amazing! Also special to the occasion of Karis's baptism is that the gown she wore was the one I wore, AND that my mom wore before me. Maybe Karis will have a daughter who will adorn the garment one day.

Lighting of the baptism candle

Great Grandma Carole got Karis a special bib to wear over her gown - smart move, saved the gown from the inevitable spit up
LOVE this picture
Karis slept through most of the service, the sprinkling of the water woke her up
Karis is blessed to have 3 Godfathers - my brother and two of Trevor's brothers

Monday, November 9, 2009

An update to the previous post

1. Karis refused a bottle on Saturday! Any advice anyone?

2. I wanted to add to my thoughts on having some guilt at my place in life right now . . . I heard a great blurb on a radio show I listen to that spoke to this issue. The encouragement was that when we feel guilty for blessings, we really need to just focus on sharing them, giving where we can. So whenever I start to feel those icky guilty feelings, I think about what I have to give right now - a meal, a visit to a friend in need, a phone call to an old friend, a letter out of the blue to someone who needs it. So yeah, there's my addendum to that thought. Oh, and one more, I read a great article about transitioning from full time work in an office to full time work at home, I found its wisdom helpful. You can read it here if you'd like!

And here's another picture for fun. I call her my "funny honey". What a smile!

Thursday, November 5, 2009


Because what time I have lately is spent doing what I truly love - preparing for hosting, executing hosting, cleaning up from hosting, writing thank yous and letters and cards to mail, hanging out with other moms and their children, and most importantly spending time with Karis and Trevor (yes my life is crazy wonderful)- I thought I'd cop out on a very thoughtful post and instead copy an interesting thing I read a couple days ago:
Avocados, Eggplant and Pears target the health and function of the womb and cervix of the female - they look just like these organs. Today's research shows that when a woman eats one avocado a week, it balances hormones, sheds unwanted birth weight, and prevents cervical cancers. And how profound is this? It takes exactly nine (9) months to grow an avocado from blossom to ripened fruit. There are over 14,000 photolytic chemical constituents of nutrition in each one of these foods (modern science has only studied and named about 141 of them).

Is THIS why I craved avocados like a crazy woman for most of my pregnancy? FASCINATING! I've read that they are also some of babies' first foods (which is a topic on my mind lately, I'm excited by some new perspectives I've been learning about babies and introducing them to food - perhaps another post later, I'm very excited at my recent discoveries).

Quick bullet points of happenings around here:

We were blessed beautifully to have all our families here this weekend to celebrate Karis's baptism (for SURE its own post hopefully sometime soon, such a memorable and miraculous event).

I pumped enough milk for a couple bottles of milk but have been too much of a wuss to actually give it to Karis, and so the milk sits in our freezer. Maybe this weekend when I host a baby shower Trev can try. Again, I never thought I would be "this" way!

Karis started really talking to us, it's a delight to hear her "ooohs and cooos". Her smiles are more brilliant every day. She's also sucking on her hand whenever she can find it, and drooling like crazy (the two usually go hand in hand, and it's so funny to see her face smeared with all her spit). We are pretty messy these days, I fear that I'm becoming immune to the smell of sour milk and might leave the house one day without changing my spit-up sopped clothes.

Other things going through my head:

I NEED to meet my friend N's daughter, Viv. It's been torture to be this far away, and yet I am so thankful for a dear friend who is just so precious that I could miss her and her family this much!

How can I relax into motherhood? I have a cloud of something - guilt perhaps, but that doesn't seem like the right descriptor - that keeps me from fully reveling in this stage of life. I LOVE being Karis's mom, I LOVE spending every day with her, I LOVE how our weeks flow. However, when Trevor comes home and asks what I did that day, I feel funny saying, "Well, we had tea with other moms and daughters, ran errands, did house stuff, wrote some e-mails and cards, and . . . " It all just feels incredibly indulgent. And yet I firmly believe I'm where I'm supposed to be. So really, I guess it's a matter of discontent, perhaps a lack of confidence in that perpetual game of comparisons. But then I look at Karis and spend even a minute with her and these thoughts are all but gone. Life sometimes seems too good, and I thank God for the blessing of where we are right now, with our little girl in our arms.

Karis did not dress up for Halloween, I wonder if I'll regret that someday?