Thursday, December 16, 2010


This is a week of celebration for our little family of 3. We received an incredible (to us) Christmas gift, a direct answer to prayer. You see, Karis had a plugged tear duct since birth - if you look closely in pictures, you can see that her left eye is often moist or weepy. Not a big deal, her pediatrician said it would probably clear up between 9 - 12 months. By Karis's 1 year check up her eye was weepy as ever and even got infected for the first time. So . . . off to the opthamologist we went, and she strongly recommended surgery. It was up to us, the biggest negative was having to put her "under" with anesthegia. While not a huge deal (I fully realize this is small potatoes compared to MANY health concerns other people face - but this was also just our reality), we really didn't want to do that and we started praying for healing (another huge topic that I won't get into here). 

Like I said, shortly after her check-up her eye got very infected. What I thought was pink eye was actually turning into something worse called periorbital cellulitis. I took her in to the doctor one day from a "mother's intuition" feeling, and the doctor didn't alarm us but was quite quick to give her a hefty antibiotic shot and wanted to see us right away the next day. Later I found out that many such cases end up needing to be hospitalized! We felt so blessed to have caught it early enough, and medicine cleared up the infection. As a side note, Karis was still so amazingly happy even though her eyes looked miserable, it reminded me of her deep joyful temperament and that she really doesn't complain much! As her eyes cleared up, it seemed that the weeping cleared up too. Finally, after about 4 weeks of her eye not weeping at all . . . we canceled the surgery. All this to say, the surgery was supposed to be today, December 16th. So, we had a par-tay! At YUM, of course. Karis got a bite of God's goodness in the form of a cookie. I can't wait to tell her one day how God cares about even our smallest concerns - yes, many people have it much worse, but He takes care of us always. He gave us all a tremendous gift in the unplugging of her tear duct, and we are rejoicing!

My prayer always is that when things happen (probably worse things) and we don't receive the healing that we pray for . . . that we will still celebrate the goodness that surrounds us and the gifts we enjoy every day. For today we're celebrating! I mean really, any excuse to go to YUM, right? My bro and his girlfriend M were able to join us, and we sneaked in a Christmas celebration as well, finishing the night watching The Family Stone (such a sad movie, but I can't help but love it - I think sad movies remind me to be thankful and remember all I have to be happy for). 

Karis gave us a gift this week as well. We went to her 15 month check-up and she is thriving beautifully (I feel like those check-ups are my "mom test", so I'm always grateful when they go well!). After talking to her pediatrician, I was affirmed that we could do a little bit of "sleep training" (since Karis had an ear infection a few weeks ago she got used to getting up several times a night). Anyways, this week she started sleeping all the way through the night and we're very thankful. Again, little things that mean so much. 

Bro, M & K post gift exchange. So cute. M has been a great gift to us this year as well! 

Loving her new book of nursery rhymes

Monkey-ing around any chance she gets

Monday, December 13, 2010

16 months?!?

I really don't know where to start (pattern of my life lately . . . do I do the laundry or write that card or just get on the floor and play?!?). Karis is 16 months old and is as "Karis Hilarious" as ever! Just today she was entertaining me by walking around with one of my t-shirts on her head - as in, covering her head, and she was loving walking around without really knowing where she was going. Slightly dangerous, this girl is fearless. What's prompting me to write today is her expanding vocabulary and her monkey antics - I want a place to write it down and feel like if I write in my journal these milestones will get lost in the pages.
  • Just today she learned to say "bottle" and "baby" and seriously tried to say "belly button".
  • Her favorite word is "hi". When we go anywhere - a coffee shop, the grocery store, a restaurant, church . . . - she says "hi!" to everyone who walks by. She wills them to look at her and to engage her. I've lost any hope of anonymity in public, I'm attached to a 100% extrovert.
  • Her first pronounced name was "Lukas", however to us it sounds like "Deeee?" (really adorable inflection). Yup, that's Lukas. She loooovvveeees Lukas.
  • "Dada" is also a favorite. Often her first word after waking up.
  • One of her very first words was "bow-wow" - it's what I started calling our neighbors' dogs, and she quickly became obsessed with the "bow-wows" next door, to the point that many times we would leave the house and she'd look to their yard and say "bow-wow, bow-wow, bow-wow". Bow-bows are a big deal in Karis's life right now.
  • "Nana" - when we pass the bananas in the grocery store Karis exclaims "nana".
  • "Bye", "bu-ba" (name of my grandpa's dog), "nigh-nigh" (for "night-night")
  • The one word we couldn't get her to say was "momma". We would go through the list of words and she'd repeat them back, but when we got to "momma": silence. Finally, she started saying "momma" just a few days ago.
  • She tries to say "bumbo" as she climbs in and out of it.
  • Karis also has this cute little "Uh?" noise that she makes basically every time she wants something. It's great. I'm enamored watching her comprehension and language development grow.
We've also enjoyed doing some signs, Karis can communicate: nursing, hi/bye, all done, please, more, nose, belly button, eat.

Words I have in my vocabulary to describe Karis are: vibrant, joyful, charismatic (her name seems to be a self-fulfilling prophecy), outgoing, fun-loving, curious, strong-willed, active, silly, welcoming, communicative. So many more, but these come to mind.

You all should know that we have a monkey. Her name is Karis. She loves to climb on, into, over, on top of, and through anything that she can find. Such as climbing in between table legs. Or climbing on to a full size rocker. Or climbing into her bumbo seat. Or under her high chair. Or up stairs (at a clipping pace). She can safely crawl off our furniture and bed. She can be a dancing maniac and we laugh so hard watching her shake her shoulders and stomp around to certain songs. Her favorite thing to do in her room is sit on a stool with a book in hand.

Karis is fiercely independent, and yet at times is getting more cuddly and content to sit in our laps. It's fascinating to watch her personality and preferences develop.

As a family, we're making some marvelous memories these days. We still frequent Sams Club, Caribou and Lucia's for "cheap" family dates, we enjoy time spent with our extended families both here and at their homes in NoDak. Last weekend was wonderful, we got snowed in on Saturday and I felt like "this is how it's supposed to be" - lots of time together, nowhere to go, not much to do, a warm and comfortable home. Life is too good and we're thankful.

In one week, I read in three different places the adage that "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world". I'm often humbled and sometimes overwhelmed at the responsibility we've been given as parents - and then I'm reminded that Karis is God's child, He's entrusted her to us and He's made us the parents that she needs. And she is the child that we need! I'm constantly learning about myself, God, and Trevor as I learn more about Karis. The lessons are too numerous to list, which means I probably have plenty to write about . . . hopefully more later. I seem to enjoy the word "later" these days!

I'm reading some freaky books about raising girls: Bringing up Girls and Reviving Ophelia. Thankfully I'm also trying to do some Advent readings that help put some of the sorrowing realities of our world into perspective; I'm increasingly aware of the need for a Savior. What a beautiful and reflective time of the year, we have much to celebrate.

Taken a couple months ago . . . I find their expressions to be amusing
Monkey and bow-wow
Again, a couple months ago. One of her favorite activities is taking clean laundry
out of the basket and playing with the items

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Babe and her Birthday Bashes

Well, the aforementioned chocolate cake was consumed by many party go-ers, because party we did for Karis’s first birthday. We partied and partied and partied and partied. Literally. So much fun was had celebrating and we surely kept the tradition of month-long birthday festivities.

The first party: A doting mother and father, 2 grandparents, a great aunt and uncle (the uncle is Karis’s “b-day buddy”, she was born on his birthday!), 2 great-grandparents, a delicious meal, the chocolate cake, a John Deere tractor, and lots of laughs.
The second party (on her actual birthday): A doting mother and father, 1 chocolate cupcake at YUM Bakery, another one-year old at a neighboring table that was more interesting and received more attention than than the cupcake.

The third party:A doting mother and father, 5 adult friends, 4 babies, tacos, more chocolate cake, the John Deere tractor, a new toy phone, and more laughs.
The fourth party: A doting mother and father, 2 more grandparents, a (toy) cell phone just for Karis, a trip to Hudson and Stillwater, a prime rib buffet at a nice hotel, laying on the hotel bed watching TV and crawling around on the comfy covers and pillows.
The fifth party: A doting mother and father, an uncle, Karis’s first taste of spaghetti, a bottle of wine (for the adults, of course).

The sixth party: A doting mother and father, 2 grandparents, 4 more great-great grandparents, second cousins, great aunts and uncles, a valley view of Bismarck, more fun toys and a special quilt.
I have to say, I don’t think Karis is even partied out and could probably handle another bash or two.

We definitely have a one year old. In fact, on the anniversary of her technical “due date”, she took her first steps . . . right into her dad’s arms. Deep contented sigh. We are having a blast watching Karis come into her own - lately she loves to have anything on her head. She pulls towels out of drawers and drapes them on her head. Finds washcloths on the floor and puts them on her head. Tries to put books on her head. For about a week she was attached to a little plastic cow that goes with her tractor. Does anyone wonder why we call her “Karis hilarious”? She brings such joy wherever we go, it’s an honor to watch people react to her smile and I can’t count the number of times I hear random people say to Karis, “You just made my day”. What a little gift she is.

In random mom news: this morning I took Karis to the nursery at church. A dear woman that I know and love was manning the room and came up to me, looked in the general area of my midsection and said, “Oh, I didn’t know you were expecting!”. To which I, as graciously as possible, said, “I’m not!” and launched into an explanation of how I’ve definitely kept my nursing ‘ponch’ and tried to make it seem like no big deal. And it’s not really a big deal, but STILL, REALLY? I guess I’ll put this shirt back in the closet (hoping that the bulky shirt is party to blame). Oy. That and maybe start pilates? No, not going to start pilates, thank you very much. Wear control-top pants, maybe? Improve my posture? Wear a shirt that says “No, I’m not so please don’t ask”? I’m open to suggestions. One good thing that comes out of such comments is that they prompt me to write, so thank you nice nursery worker woman for pointing out my ponch so that I would finally update this blog. =)

Such comments tend to coincide with days that Trevor and I get a date (which we did today, so nice - but poor guy had to listen to me drone on about the morning's comment. I'm over it, really I am. A post to come on a date occurrence that helped me get over it). I can be thankful for a dear and sensitive husband who lets me be me - it’s been the greatest joy to watch Trevor love Karis, she adores her daddy and so do I. I’m relishing the rhythms of routine the three of us are falling into, from morning songs to post-dinner clean up to walks to before bed reading to Sunday night ice cream cones at McD’s. Where did the year go?

Thursday, July 29, 2010

I felt that funny "is this real" sensation as I walked into a local grocery store to order a cake today. Not just any cake, I ordered a cake for my almost-one-year-old-daughter's birthday. What? When did Karis get to be a year old?!?

You may ask why I ordered one (I don't recall ever having ordered a cake before! Well, I guess I kind of helped order one for my graduation and wedding). Because this cake is complementary (i.e. free), that's why! All the better for Karis to rip into it, right? We plan on having several small celebrations for her and we feel so blessed to have family coming to town both right before and then right after her actual birthday. Birthdays are a big deal, after all!

Well, back to the cake. I will admit that I love being out and about with Karis, and this outing was simply special and one that I'll always remember. Karis just loves sitting in shopping carts, so in she went and smiled the whole way back to the bakery. I kept telling her we were going to order her birthday cake, and I even got her a Caribou coffee to commemorate the celebration. Karis, being the generous girl she is, shared her decaf with me. Karis waved to & charmed anyone who looked her way, and I was ever the proud momma of this captivating little character. We ordered the cake (chocolate with chocolate frosting, in case you were wondering) and I wheeled the birthday girl out to the parking lot, where we met an especially friendly "mature" woman - she stopped us in the parking lot and as Karis waved and giggled, told me to enjoy her. I said that I enjoy her every single day. She told me that she has three grown boys, and that when they were little she "left everything and played." I told her that's what I'm trying to do.

Actually, her reminder was a good affirmation because I've been thinking about that idea lately as I look at all the evidence that I am "leaving it all to play": withering tomato plants, sadly uncreative meal repertoire, dirty floors, belated birthday cards, and on and on. To be honest, I feel really good about all those really slacking things - not all the time, of course, but increasingly more of the time - because really, isn't it more fun to roll on the floor and cuddle and read board books and stroll around the neighborhood? Yes, it's not only more fun, but it's infinitely more important. Yes, I realize my life is really, really, really good. I mean, ridiculously so.

We're loving the summer months and all they've held, including our first family-of-three vacation to Charlottesville, VA where Trev was best man in his best friend's wedding. We had a blast celebrating and being back in the state where we lived the first two years of our marriage. There's something powerful about witnessing a wedding, especially when your husband is at the front of the church in a tux - brought back many memories of reciting our own vows oh so many years ago. Well, not really that many, but still. Anyways, this wedding was uber classy, I felt fully fancy reveling in hor deurves and brunch and reception and dance at a country club in what felt like the middle of the blue ridge mountains. The bride and groom were the classiest part of the whole event and made the day a tastefully opulent occasion for all their guests. Trev, Karis and I enjoyed our Saturday evening with ice cream and a stroll around part of the UVA campus at sunset. Sigh, so beautiful. Can we go back?

Karis has had many adventures during her first year, it's exciting to think of what year number two will hold.

Speaking of Karis, if you'll excuse me now, I have some playing to get back to . . .

Karis with her best-man daddy

Reading King Lear on a youth group picnic - those girls are such a good influence!

Play buddies

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The demise of the blog

You know you haven't blogged in a looonnnnggggggg time when you have to pause to remember how to log in to your blogger account.

The demise of the blog was perpetuated by:

  • Having a lot of fun traveling: we went to Jamestown to celebrate the wedding of a dear friend, and then went straight to a lake in MN to spend time with family. Karis was hilarious on the boat and in her lifejacket, and she also really started crawling that weekend.
  • Having a lot of fun celebrating: there's always something to celebrate, it seems. Father's Day, 80's themed b-day parties (picture below), early celebrations for Trevor's birthday, celebrating July 4th here with family.
  • Having a lot of fun with company: We were blessed to have some of our best friends come up from IN to stay with us in June - our girls met for the first time, and wow did we all have fun together. We considered holding them hostage in our basement, but we bid them a sad adieu and hope to have more fun times like that in the future. My family was here this past week (including my great grandparents!) and they played like crazy with Karis, chasing her around and getting her to giggle.
  • Having a lot of fun watching Karis reach milestones: she started crawling about a month ago, and I swear she moves faster every day. She loves to be mobile, to explore, to be independent (hmmmm, she sounds like her mom). She now has two teeth, waves, pulls up on everything, and we're waiting for when her "da da da" sounds have meaning. She can now go to bed without her mom (sniff sniff, I thought I wanted that independence and now that I have it I'm a bit sad), she's eating real food like crazy, and her new favorite thing is opening cupboards and climbing on her friends' carseats. She's still the most smiley and joyful little thing and I truly love being her mom.
  • Having a lot of fun at a women's retreat: where I felt very challenged to start journaling the old-fashioned way. Which I have been doing and really loving. And thus the demise of the blog.

Side note: I started writing this on Tuesday. It's Thursday now. I am just going to post, as incomplete as it feels!

The lifejacket completely relaxed Karis (and trust me, she is rarely relaxed). Maybe I need to keep one around the house?

On our way to the 80's party . . .
first time leaving Karis at night and having someone else put her to bed!
The success made me both happy and sad.

A fabulous Father's Day bbq with dear friends (our daughters are the best of friends already)

I have this very strong affinity for talk radio, and I think Karis likes it too - she must wonder where the people are whose voices she can hear from this little box

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

What a gift to be celebrating Mother's Day today . . . I'm in awe to look at Karis and to know what a gift she is to our lives. I've found it continually humbling to be mother to this dear child who brings such joy to many lives. As my mom says often, "Karis is such a gift", and indeed she is. Trevor and I have opportunities to laugh every day at her squeals and kicks, her babbles and movements. Karis has a deep joy and a quick smile for anyone who will look her way. I feel humbled and blessed to be parenting along-side Trevor, and he's made this Mother's Day celebration all the more special with lots of quality time together, tulips, a card and

I read something yesterday in a book I'm reading called Tending the Heart of Virtue: How Classic Stories Awaken a Child's Moral Imagination. It's a quote from The Brothers Karamazov:

"You must know that there is nothing higher, or stronger, or sounder, or more useful afterwards in life, than some good memory, especially a memory from childhood, from the parental home. You hear a lot said about your education, yet some such beautiful, sacred memory, preserved from childhood, is perhaps the best education. If a [person] stores such memories to take into life, then they are saved for their whole life. And even if only one good memory remains with us in our hearts, that alone may serve one day for our salvation . . . "

This quote rings so true in my heart, I just LOVE memories. I love to reminisce, a productive pastime instilled to me by my parents who are so good to recall good times we've had. And wow did my parents gift me with countless amazing memories (and still do, thank you mom and dad). As I think about motherhood, it is such a desire of my heart to give Karis and any children a treasure trove of sweet memories that will last them a lifetime.

A memory that I want to always recall from this Mother's Day (I don't suppose Karis will remember it, so maybe she can read about it one day . . .). I ran errands alone yesterday and enjoyed listening to the radio station "the Current". This song came on that at first I thought was really silly and not my "type" of music, but for some reason I didn't change the dial. By the end of the song, I was obsessed. I mean, just loved it (this happens to me often, I instantly like something then can't get enough of it . . . songs, books, movies, food, clothes, routines, anything). So this morning I found it online while feeding Karis her yummy mixture of oatmeal, avocado and yogurt (yummmm, right?). Having ingested a bit of caffeine, I went a little crazy dancing in between spoon feeding her bites - to me it's already a precious memory, sharing joy together while Trevor (not yet caffeinated) watched and smiled. Trevor had heard the song on the radio before, which made me feel so wonderfully understood in my obsession. You want to hear the song? It's called "That's not my name" by the Ting Tings. You can google it and try to listen to it on ""Give it a couple tries, I think you'll like it. So yeah, this first Mother's Day is marked by laughing and dancing in the kitchen before church. Life is good.

Another memory that came to mind was Mother's Day of my freshman year. My family went to the local Country Club for a beautiful brunch, and who would be there but . . . Trevor Pope. I ran into him in the buffet line and he said, "Hey Pandolfo". I introduced him to my family, and that was that. We came to find a couple years later that he called me Pandolfo (my maiden name) because he didn't know my first name. HA.

Insert deep, contented sigh.

And also, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to my amazing mom - I want to be more like you, mom. Your selflessness and humility and humor and compassion and generosity and beauty are beyond words.

And HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to my marvelous mother-in-law. It's such a gift to be part of your family, thank you for making me your daughter! AND, thank you especially for raising such an amazing son who is such a gift to me in marriage.

And as always, so many people come to mind this day to whom maybe Mother's Day is painful. Those who have lost mothers, who have unfortunate relationships with their mothers, who desire to be a mother but for one reason or another aren't able to be. There are so many dear women with mother's hearts who are mother's in their own ways who I think should be celebrated this day as well.

One more memory to add to this day . . . we are ending it with something we've never really done before (maybe because we shouldn't be doing it?): watching a Disney movie with Karis. She's propped up on the couch between us, happily chewing on her teething ring and laughing away (well, more like fake coughing once in a while). We're pretty much loving life.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

When dads dress daughters

I think wonderful things happen when dads dress daughters - or at least wonderful things happen when Trevor dresses Karis. I love when I hear them "talking" in Karis's room and I eagerly anticipate what outfit Karis will show off when they strut down the hall. Here are some recent favorites . . .

This one is from Easter Sunday, on a walk around a nearby lake. The outfit is a gift from our hunting-enthusiast neighbor . . . perfect! The camouflage is offset beautifully by lace and a ruffle-butt.

This was before a little family coffee date at Caribou. Purple hat, pink onesie, purple jacket, yellow pants, and camouflage socks. I love it!

Need I say more about this one? So appropriate (no sarcasm!)

One evening when Trevor got home I ran (well, drove) to Target. When I came back this is what I saw. Trevor loves to put hats on his little girl!

The question now is, what will Karis choose when she can dress herself? I look forward to finding out . . .

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Rewind and fast forward

Rewind to over a MONTH ago (?!?). Tempus fugit, as they say.

- In late February, we were blessed to bring our youth group on a weekend retreat. We spent the weekend at a beautiful farm where we learned together about (and practiced) spiritual disciplines. We also goofed off, played games, talked a lot, made necklaces, played tons of "Ninja", had a Sunday morning service, and got to know each other better. These youth give me such incredible hope for the future, it's a joy to know them and learn from them.

I hope Karis is as amazing as these girls when she's a teenager
(I mean, she will be, but I'm just trying to say these girls are amazing!)
- In early March Karis and I, along with our good friends Beth and Lukas (8 weeks old at the time) trekked to Bis for a few days of lotsa family and friend time. It was SUCH an amazing trip in so many ways! To travel back with Beth, with whom I graduated from high school, was a crazy rewind feeling . . . we graduated from high school ten years ago and now we're neighbors and have babies and go to the same church. My heart runneth over. The few days there were filled with grandmas & grandpas, cousins, and friends. Karis loved all the attention, she's our little extrovert - she'll smile at anything, like she's begging to be looked at, talked to, smiled at. Also special during this trip was celebrating my dad's --th Birthday! We even had a little date, we went to a cute drug store, a used book sale, and a local bakery. Love of books and reading are things I'm increasingly thankful that my dad and I share - he is ever and always the most amazing father I could ever think to pray for and I thank God for him always.

3 generations . . .

A girl after her tech-y grandpa's heart . . . playing with (trying to eat)
his i-touch (or whatever it's called)
- In mid March we started having little Lukas join us here a couple days a week while his momma gets back into work and school. He is a beautiful boy and makes our days so much fun. Karis is sharing mom pretty well and seems to think Lukas is a very fascinating toy. I can't wait to see them interact more and more.

10 week old Lukas, 7 1/2 month old Karis. Yes, they are the same size!

- We went another place with Karis that I wouldn't bring my kids to: Buster's on 28th, a fun local restaurant/bar on the "south side" of town. There were two babies at our table and one 38 week pregnant friend. We celebrated life and can't wait until said friend welcomes her little girl whose due date is tomorrow! Babies, babies, babies . . . everywhere, babies. I love it!

- We had some crazy play dates with lots of babies. The biggest is pictured here, babies from 10 weeks to 10 months were represented. What a gift to be surrounded by such happy and healthy children. God's goodness surrounds us.

Karis is the smallest, but not the youngest! She's my little bean.
Fast forward to TODAY:

- "They say it's your birthday, na na na na na na, well it's my birthday tooooooo, na na na na na na na" (you know that Beatles song, right?). I'm not usually one to say "it's my birthday", but hey, it IS and I'm really loving it! I'm feeling pretty contemplative today, remembering a year ago when Karis was kicking away in my tummy, not even knowing yet that she was a girl - reading my birthday psalm (as in, the psalm I read every birthday) and thinking of the life growing inside me:

Psalm 139: 13 - 16

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

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

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,

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

I always like to remember and celebrate my parents on my birthday. I wouldn't be here without them! Thank you, mom and dad, for being the most amazing parents, for teaching me how to celebrate life (on birthdays and all days) and for loving me always.'

What am I doing today, you ask? Redeeming lots of free goodies - Caribou, Noodles, Coldstone. Some Dutch Blitz with Trevor and my bro. Maybe a movie. I'm excited.

- One more rewind, to almost ten years ago: I have Beth's copy of our senior year yearbook here to peruse. Oh my gosh, looking through the pages and pictures brings back a mix of memories and emotions. So much has happened since then, and I feel so much the same and yet so much different (deep thought, right? Ha. It's all I can muster for now and don't feel like going into details).

- Fast forward: Karis's latest and greatest milestones - sitting up pretty well, saying "da da da da da da" (um yeah, Trevor LOVES this), squealing when Trevor walks in the door (yes, Trevor LOVES this), putting her fingers in her mouth and moving them around while "talking" which results in a hilarious sound (you can do this yourself too, you know, to see what I'm saying. Try it. It's funny). She's snorting and makes funny faces and noises. She loves my water bottle. She loves to eat anything I give her (lately, avocados, bananas, pears, sweet potatoes, and potatoes). She is trying to pull herself up onto her knees (might she crawl soon?). She loves to sit in the glider rocker in the nursery, kick her legs, and then giggle when she makes the chair move. She goes down wonderfully for naps. She kicks in her crib, sometimes in her sleep - lifts up both legs and just bangs them right back down. She also does this on the floor and on the changing table - we have a kicker. She gets up about twice a night. She is the happiest baby I've ever seen and brings joy and life wherever she goes. She is a gift.

Oh man, melt my heart.

Lovin' the laundry basket. I can't wait until she can fold clothes.
I am going to teach her very young.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Oh the places we'll go . . .

Oh yes, the places we'll go with Karis.

Oh yes, the places we have already gone with our dear daughter. From Bozeman to Bismarck, South Carolina to South Minneapolis, this little girl has a good start on her traveling repertoire.

Oh the places I would never take her if she had any awareness of where we actually were.

Indeed, during the past months I've been to places where I've walked out saying, "That was good, but I wouldn't take my kid there." Of course, I did take my kid there. One such place was Margaritaville (during our trip to South Carolina) - something about the simulated hurricane with a massive bottle of something or other descend from it made me think, "Huh, this is fun and interesting, but I wouldn't take my kid here." Then there was this movie we went to a couple weekends ago (um, can I say how wonderful and normal and exhilarating yet relaxing it was to sit down in a theater and watch an entire movie?!?) . . . I left the theater (feeling triumphant in getting back to an activity I'd been missing these past months) saying to my family, "That was good and worth watching. But I'd never take my kid there." Hmmm, except I did take my kid there.

Do I need to stop going to these places with Karis? I'm starting to wonder.

And then there are the places we want to go, but just can't quite get to. The church nursery, for example. I helped prepare a dinner at our church last weekend and was totally prepared both mentally and physically to bring Karis to the nursery for the evening. I even pumped a bottle (and I really dislike pumping), optimistic that Karis would indeed take it (I mean, she'll sip water from my water bottle now, why not take yummy milk from a fun bottle!). I started the meal prep with Karis and a good friend for company. I had it all mapped out: I nursed her, Trevor arrived and got Karis to take a nap in her carseat: the perfect recipe for a good nursery drop off! Trevor dropped her off as the meal prep ramped up (read: need to get lots of food hot at the same time). Just as the dinner was about to start, a dear nursery worker walked into the kitchen, Karis in one arm and diaper bag in the other. Bottle attempt = no-go. Extreme sad crying = yup. Poor girl! To be honest, it was kind of sweet. But to be also honest, I had a job to do and I really couldn't tend to her, and Trevor was getting ready to "host" a "newlywed game" section of the evening so he couldn't either.

Time for a tangent: there are a few reflections I'd love to remember about that evening at church. The event was a kind of Valentine's dinner at our church, and it turned into an evening to remember for many reasons. There was the meal, the prep and delivery for which I felt quite responsible, and thus quite perfectionistic/anxious about. Turns out that doing something like that is kind of like giving a speech in that I've been replaying everything that could have been better. That said, I've been challenging myself to let go of those things and to focus on what went well - AND to focus on the evening as a whole, which was so meaningful and memorable. There was the sweet Karis nursery strike that turned into a beautiful site - since neither of her parents were available to console her, she got passed around a bit. At one point I walked out and saw her in the arms of a father to 3 children who I know but don't know well - it was one of those moments of feeling so at home in our community and so thankful for the love and support and care that everyone has for each other. I will always treasure that memory of seeing Karis calm in his arms and the way he let his dinner get cold just so I could run around and get more hot food on the table and so Trevor could go put on a hilarious 3 piece suit and grill married couples about their spouses. That sweet picture of true community is what I'll remember (as I try to forget the weak coffee I made and the fact that there was no pepper to be found to season the potatoes and broccoli).

Okay, back to the places we've gone. Well, recently we were blessed to go meet Karis's newest little friend, Lauren. The day we did this happened to be Karis's 6 month birthday, and there happened to be a whole lotta little girls around (it's actually a group of us that try to meet weekly - 4 moms, 5 daughters, and one little boy who is in the oven). They even sang "happy birthday" to Karis, it was a good little party.

Oh the places we went a couple weekends ago when my parents came to visit. Karis got to dine at her favorite restaurant, Lucia's (it's the one we were supposed to visit with the above ladies the day Karis was born). Trader Joe's, Potbelly's, The General Store, Caribou (her other favorite), uncle Drew's, Open Door church, and driving all around town - Karis does incredibly well on these adventures and is such a flexible little girl.

And though little girl she is, she is also growing and developing like crazy. Karis loves to reach for anything she can get her hands on - earrings, hair, water bottles, glasses, her feet, your face, your clothes, literally anything. She's still smiles like crazy at just about anything, and she most recently has discovered how much fun it is to stick out her tongue and even roll it. What will be next?

Here's our little Valentine. Trevor and I had fun taking her to her 6 month pictures and then out for coffee in honor of the holiday. I had fun reminiscing about V-days growing up and how my parents always made it a fun day with dinner and little gifts (more specifically, socks - my mom always gives me a pair of V-day socks, and this year Karis got some too!)
Here's Karis in an outfit I wore as a 4 month old

Friday, January 29, 2010

Sacred Influence

So I'm reading this book called Sacred Influence. Remember how I've learned to never say never or always? Well, before becoming a mom I always said I would always be a wife first and foremost (and I do believe that loving Trevor well is one of the most loving things I can do for my daughter and will make me a better mother). Then I became a mother. My body no longer feels like it's my own (because I'm a nursing mother). My sleep is irregular, I'm hormonal, and oh yeah - I'm completely smitten with Karis. I would do anything for that girl, seeing her makes my face light up and I talk to her with a song in my voice. Let's juxtapose this to when I see Trevor, let's say after work: my voice does not have a song, I maybe smile but definitely do not light up, and as far as doing anything for Trevor . . . well, I put food on the table and right when he's done very often ask him to do things for me.

Back to Sacred Influence - while the pages are lending good reminders and encouragement about the important role that wives play in their husband's lives, the author is largely addressing women whose husbands are angry or lazy or unfaithful. Here's the thing: the book doesn't address how to cope with the nearly perfect husband! (ha ha). I say that kind of for real, but mostly kidding and with a HUGE amount of gratitude to God for gifting me with Trevor's love and his heart. Trevor is still smitten with me (and he is with our daughter too, of course!), he lights up when he sees me and he talks to me with complete kindness. I've never once doubted his love and I am humbled by his example of faith in action through his character and convictions and attitudes. Having an almost perfect husband does pose its own frustrations, BUT what a blessing compared to the alternative. I love you, Trev.

Needless to say, having Karis has changed our marriage, as I expected it would. Being parents has deepened our bond for sure as we're committed together to seek her best interest and to love her in the best ways we know how. But to be honest, it's been a struggle for me to prioritize Trevor and our marriage. And I've come to see that struggles are okay, and having to be intentional and having to try is okay too, even good. There's so much more to say that I'm going to stop right here for now! I'm thankful. I'm trying. Life is good.

Just for fun, here's a recent real-life story of my awesome wife-ness:

I get a text from Trevor telling me he has been invited to go to Alaska in late July or early August. I sent him 3 texts in reply, as follows . . .

1. Um, money?

2. That would be Karis's birthday.

3. What do I get to do?

Trevor sent this in reply:

I laughed out loud really hard. The pastor who did our premarital counseling said that our biggest conflict would be that I am off the charts subjective and Trevor is off the charts objective. When he told us that almost 6 years ago we left the session and I over-reacted and cried (proving his point that I am subjective). He was sooooo right.

In recent our-family news, we've had a memorable second half of January. We went to South Carolina with my parents and brother for a few days of fun in the sun (except for the dreary days, but those were cozy and warmer than here so it didn't really matter). We realized that "packing light" has a new meaning to us: 1 huge suitcase, two big backpacks, carseat and stroller. We felt like minimalists shlepping all those things around. Anyways, we had a tremendous trip with hanging out, enjoying the sea breeze, eating, touring a vineyard (and doing some wine tasting), walking through a huge sculpture and "low country" garden, and being entertained by Karis. Karis went to the ocean for the first time, although I can't say she saw it since she was snoozing the whole time. And oh yeah, Krispy Kreme. SC has Krispy Kreme! I know, it doesn't take much to please, right? Speaking of shlepping things around, I'll always remember one of our Krispy Kreme stops (there were only two, in case you're wondering) when we took up two tables and a booth with our donuts, coffee cups, changing "stuff" for Karis, her diaper bag, ourselves . . . stuff, stuff, stuff. It's unavoidable and really funny. Ah, Krispy Kreme, I think Karis loved it (maybe it has to do with the "K" connection?). Karis was quite the terrific traveler and we're thankful for all the memories we were able to make there (in South Carolina, not just at Krispy Kreme!).

This picture cracks me up, Karis watching us all drink wine. At what point do we need to not do such things in her presence?
We got home and were glad to welcome Trev's parents for a few days - Karis just loved seeing all her grandparents in such a short amount of time. Our little girl seems to be quite the extravert, smiling at anyone who looks her way and charming family and strangers alike. She soaks in all the sights and sounds, she's more alert and interactive all the time. She's rolling over more consistently, making new noises, playing with her feet, loves to suck on her toys (and anything else she can manage to get to her mouth).

AND, Karis is 6 MONTHS OLD. I can't believe it. People always say how fast it goes, but MAN it goes fast. I'm mindful lately of her wonderful health, her growth, her emerging personality. We are blessed, and she is a blessing to so many with her joy and smiles and coos and cuddles. Oh baby girl, you're not going to be a baby for much longer . . .

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Baby crazy!

True confession: I was never really a baby person. I mean, I loved getting to see people's babies and was always excited for families to welcome their babies to the world. But to be honest, when I'd find myself in the room with a baby, I was never the one to rush over and beg to hold him/her. In fact, I probably often had the thought, "I hope they don't ask me to hold their baby." Mainly because they seemed so fragile and, well, scary. I mean, what if I held them wrongly? What if they started crying in my arms?

Since Karis's arrival, all that has changed. I am crazy for babies! And it just so happens there is baby crazy-ness all around these parts. I've visited 3 new babies in just the last ten days, and with each one I am so excited to hold them and rock them and cuddle them. I can see why people keep wanting to have more, there's something just so precious about newborns in their helplessness and their cries and their sleeping and their movements and stretches and smells. I thank God for the health of all these recent babies in our friends' lives, and it's been the greatest joy to watch many of our close friends enter the realm of parenthood. So yes, welcome to the world all you little babies. And dear Karis, thank you again for changing my life in so many ways - you continue to amaze me!

This new year has been off to a fun start, as I wrote last time, beginning with a weekend spent with all Karis's godfathers. I relish watching them talk to her, ask to hold her, laugh with her, and play with her. She loves their attention!

Last week we had a blast seeing some old friends (who I stayed with in Germany almost 3 years ago!). Thank you, S & Z for stopping by, playing with our girl and giving us lots of laughs. Please move back here!

Trevor started a new addition to our nighttime routine with Karis, singing and playing guitar to her (adorable!). Speaking of Karis . . . she is becoming the most smiley and joyful baby I know. It's like she just can't beam bright enough, sometimes it looks like her face must hurt from straining to express her feelings. And then my face starts to hurt from smiling back at her. Our days are so fun as she discovers the world more every day, taking it all in with her big eyes and moving limbs. Lately when I hold her on my lap, she'll crane her neck back to look me in the eyes - this little lady loves to be looked at. She's also doing what appear to be push ups when she's laying on her tummy. Strong girl! We're also certain that she's working on some teeth - she chews on anything she can grab (including our fingers, and it hurts!). I always try to imagine what things are like for Karis in her day, the funny feelings she's experiencing in her gums, what she might be thinking when she wakes up from a nap, what it must mean to her to be looked and talked to and held. I am a blessed momma to receive her smiles and cuddles and coos. And Trevor is such a good dad, and the truly an amazing husband (hopefully also another post later).

In random personal-journal-type recordings, I just finished reading Jane Eyre for what must be about the 7th time . . . the story and Jane's character was better than ever. There's nothing like the feeling of digging into an old familiar book. As corny as it sounds, when I read Jane Eyre, I feel like I'm sitting in a living room with an old friend.

I'm also enjoying a simple but refreshing book called What Kids Need Most in a Mom. I appreciate reminders and insights into the many facets of motherhood, from creativity to identity to mom-guilt to the healthy-ness of having outside interests from the home. Being home lends itself to the temptation to making my world very small (and often selfish). Some other reading is helping me remember the world at large: Exodus, a historical fiction about the struggle for a Jewish homeland in Israel. I'm horrified to read about the events of World War 2 and the century old persecution of Jewish people. Yes, my life is simple and it is very good and I try to not take that for granted.

Karis's life seems pretty simple too - here's a picture of her in an outfit I wore as a baby. I think she likes it!

I hope to write more about this in a separate post, but baby matters on my mind lately are: schedules and food. I'm developing some opinions about each of them, and it's been good to discern what works for our family (haven't started food but will probably start soon, and don't seem to be on much of a schedule and am trying to rest in that).

Speaking of small world/big world, I've been watching the news reports today about the earthquake in Haiti, and I'm reminded of the fragility of life and the precious gift that each day is. May all those affected by this great tragedy find some kind of rest and peace in the midst of chaos and devastation.