Monday, January 31, 2011

The gift, the puzzle, the story

Every day, I unwrap a new present. Every day, I start working on a new puzzle. Every day, I start reading a new story.

I watch her eyelids flutter open, tiny eyelashes on the verge of curling. Her mouth starts making its rounds, readying her tongue to bring breakfast in. Then, as I peel off her swaddling, her long arms jolt perfect hands to action. Unknowingly (or maybe just unknown to me), she starts conducting the beautiful music we'll sing and dance to together today. Her legs, so humanly frog-like, direct feet, once planted firmly in my ribs, in a rhythm all her own.

I pick up my precious gift and we start our dance of this day together. Like a video game outdated by the time she's old enough to play it, the dance is as much a game, a puzzle even, as art.

How long will you eat this time, baby? Which side will be your favorite? Are you really finished or just taking a break? Where is that burp, princess? I need to hear it before you get more. This worked yesterday, are you already that different? This morning you were snuggly, now you're acting like you drank 5-hour-energy. Will you want to be changed before you go to sleep, or will the cold air wake you up too much with hiccups and sobs? Will you sleep flat, roll to your side, demand to be held or just keep your beautiful eyes on me or your dad? How long will you sleep this time, my dear? Do I have time to take a nap or a shower, start some laundry, finish a meal snack bite? Yes, I'm laughing at your snores. Is there anything else to do about them? How did you get even cuter since lunch? Apparently, kissing your cheeks only makes them sweeter.

She answers me in coos and grunts and squeaks, and, yes, sometimes even cries. She tells me her story as best she can.

This story is both new and familiar. The characters, the plot twists, the adventures of the princess. All of them shifting slightly like the shadows of nursery curtains swaying to the fan's beat. It's all I can do to remember yesterday's version, which is already overgrown with the daughter of today. The end of each story is the same, a wonderful same I will never tire of.  She drinks me in and I eat her up. We change each other. Connect each other to life, now and to come.

This is life. A gift, a puzzle, a story full of love and mystery.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Where I'm From

My sister posted her version of this poem, which she had to do for a Comp class, then issued a challenge for readers to write their own. I've been working on it for 3 days now. (The little squeaking pink bundle in my arms has provided a wonderfully effective distraction. She's with her Auntie Kim right now, so here you go.)

I am from a wooden rocking chair, three-children old, from Heinz 57 and adjustable plastic roller skates.
I am from the always shared bedroom, top bunk then bottom bunk, Pegasus and princess stories to fall asleep to, wrapped in pastel flowered sheets.
I am from the honeysuckle (sweet summer snack), the sourgrass patch (eat it if you dare).
I am from homemade doughnuts for the bake sale and Mom-approved multi-colored hair, from Blanche and Min and theirs before them.
I am from the address in pencil and tattoos from Missouri.
From "to whom much is given, much is required" and "privilege and responsibility walk hand in hand."
I am from church when it was open, learning to hear God's voice and knowing He is our source. 
I'm from 1/32nd Choctaw and half Jew, from the land of the Golden Driller and Praying Hands, shepherd's pie and the world's best brownies.
From the hippies in a prayer circle and fork scars in the hand.
I am from walls covered with generational smiles, shelves of collections, and stories told with older, wiser voices to younger, better ears (pierced maybe a few too many times). 

Are you up to the challenge? Go here for the template, then post yours on your blog, then leave me the link in the comments. If you don't have a blog, you can leave your whole poem in the comments.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Mother-in-L(ove) - A Special Guest Blogger

{I had the great fortune to have my mother-in-law here for a week. I know many people who don't feel that way about their spouse's parents, but if you've ever met Cheryl, you know I won the mother-in-law lottery.

I asked assigned her to write a guest post for my blog, but when she first handed it in, I didn't want to post it. As you'll see, out of all the things she could've written about -- being a grandma, her son, her granddaughter, her grandson, being an educator, how much she loves Texas -- she wrote about me

After some thought, though, I decided to go ahead and post it. I realized, that despite her best efforts, this still says more about her than it does about me. It shows her generous, loving heart. It shows her continual desire to learn and grow. It shows her gift for remembering and celebrating details and uniqueness in other people. These are all qualities I love about her son, and I pray her granddaughter inherited too!}


I have been given an assignment.  As a teacher I am used to giving assignments, not getting them.  Anna has requested (with a deadline and a consequence)  that I write a guest blog.  This is my first experience with blogging, so if the “professional bloggers” out there will cut me a little slack, I will do my best to complete my assignment. 

It is a little overwhelming to think about writing something that many people will be reading.  I have been pondering about what to write for two days and the one thought that keeps coming back to me is that this is my opportunity to share with Anna’s readers’ things that I appreciate about her.  Many of them you already know, but as John’s mother and Ayla’s grandmother I feel that I have a unique perspective.  So that is what I have decided to do. 

From the moment that John called me and said, “Momma, I got a girlfriend!” until today I have been getting to know this very special woman who has brought such joy to my son.  The more I get to know her the more that I am convinced that she was hand-picked by God for my son John.   There are many things that I appreciate about Anna.  What I love the most about Anna is her love for our Father.  I love that she continually seeks Him and listens to His voice.  She has a heart for people and reaches out to her friends and family.  Anna is a thinking woman and wants to walk in truth. 

I love to get in conversations with her about current events.  I always learn so much.  Of course my favorite subject to talk about with her is the Lord.  She always has a perspective and insight that I hadn’t thought of before.   I love Anna’s  creativity which shows up in her writing and her many projects around the house.  I love her world vision. 

Anna is  at home on the back of John’s motorcycle, canoeing down the river, as well as dressed up and off to a formal event.  Anna loves to plan special events for her guests.  A good example of this is when my daughter Kimberly, my grandson Jaden and I went to Georgia to see John’s graduation.  She planned a very special evening at the restaurant where she worked.  We really enjoyed it. 

Anna has a great sense of adventure and she is a strong woman who is able to work through the bumps in life that come her way.

Having said all that, (and I could go on and on) the greatest gift that Anna has given me is the privilege of being Grandma to her little Jewel, Ayla.  For those of you who have not yet met our princess Ayla, you are in for a treat.  She is the sweetest!  So, I will add being a great mom to Anna’s long list of things that I love about her.  It is such a blessing to know that your granddaughter is in such good hands.  I am one blessed grandma.  Ayla is my second grandchild, but my first granddaughter.  Thank you Anna and John for such a precious gift. 

So, Anna, here is your guest blog.  I love you and thank God often for bringing you to our family.  You are the best!  I know that you are going to be a great Mom, and Ayla is super blessed to have you for her mother.  I am praying for you, John, and Ayla as you enter this next phase of your journey together. 
Love,
Mom

{Thanks, Mom! I have been so grateful for you since I fell in love with John and I love continually discovering the treasure you are.}

Monday, January 24, 2011

In The Moment - A Special Guest Blogger

{While my mom was visiting us to meet her newest grand baby, I gave her a homework assignment. Here is her first (but maybe not the last?) guest post.}

Sitting, holding, rocking, weeping, watching, cooing, enjoying, loving

How privileged I am to be able to come to Virginia and meet my newest grandchild, Ayla Jewel. Yes, it happened again - my heart is enlarged and my love is multiplied!

Ayla is perfect, beautiful and everything one could pray for. She does all the things a newborn is supposed to do - she sleeps, nurses, makes faces, fills her diapers, makes "ohs" with her lips, looks into my eyes, and sometimes even smiles (No, Walter, it is NOT gas!).

It is hard, though, for me to stay "in the moment." 

I look at her and I remember holding her mother in my arms. She, too, was a perfect, beautiful little girl. After two wonderful boys, I was blessed with my A.J. - Anna Joy. I remember the feelings, tears, hopes and prayers. I remember knowing my dependence on the Lord and being humbled with the responsibility of raising a daughter.
April 1979


 I am also remembering my mom. How she loved babies! She would have been so thrilled about Ayla and so happy for Anna and John. What a legacy! Mom loved to say we come from a long line of  God-fearing, strong women. I would like to say we come from a lon line of strong, godly women.

It is also hard to stay "in the moment" because I look to the future, of course not knowing what it holds. My "mother/grandmother" heart wants it all for my kids and grandkids...

Happiness, peace, joy, success, fulfillment,and love.

No sorrow, pain, hurt, or loneliness.

A wise woman told me when I had my babies that I could prepare not only them, but also their children for their roles in the world. I prayed (oh, how I prayed!), read, studied and tried to raise my children so they would know God, serve Him and find their places in His world.

I know Anna is also looking back and toward the future. And we are both soaking in this blessing --

Being in the moment with Ayla, our Jewel.

Bonus points if you can identify the real "blueberry" in this picture.
{Thanks Mom! You're the best!}

Sunday, January 16, 2011

I have a daughter

If I had told you that with my actual voice (as opposed to my written one), there's a 97% chance that's as far as I'd get. I'd either get too choked up to finish and just look at you with tears in my eyes, hoping you'd fill in the rest, or actually start crying mid-sentence and try to finish but you'd still have to figure out the rest.

So, to keep this blog authentic, I'll leave it there for now.

I won't leave you with nothing, though. As part of God's amazing gift of the entire story of Ayla, He brought me two blogs I don't usually read with words to get me through the labor and delivery process and shape the way I raise my girl.

Ann Voskamp is the new "who I want to be when I grow up." Here's a portion of her blog posted Monday:

“Remember?” I whisper it gentle. “You’re a bag of sand and there’s a hole in your toe — and the sand just keeps trickling out. Just let everything that comes on, trickle on through. Don’t hold on… Just breathe and let go.” All the torn places in a life show us to how let go.

And the work of birthing a child is the work of raising a child –  knowing how to let go. We breathe slow together, letting what He gives in this moment fill us, run through us, move on out into the world.

I don’t know how many times a day I still midwife myself and these children, “Just take a deep breath… Breathe. The beautiful labor over a child never ends. Our every breath is a murmuring of His name, YWHW.

These words couldn't have been more timely or more essential for me getting through the hours of labor, both naturally and medically induced.

Then, on Wednesday, shortly after I gave birth to a daughter who, by overwhelming popular opinion including my own, looks just like me, my friend Emily posted the link to this blog from titled Own Your Beauty: When Your Girl Looks Like You:

I know that she's a girl, and oh, girls are so good at being so hard on themselves. I want her to be really, really bad at that. I want her to always see what I do when I look at her. I want her to keep peering into the mirror with satisfaction, saying in the sweetest voice you've ever heard- "I look so pretty," and believing it. Not just when she looks at herself in certain light either, at a certain angle, when her hair is having a particularly amazing day. 

Although those days are nice.

I've read it at least 20 times and still can't get through it without tearing up. I'm sure you'll hear more from me about this, or I will say something like, "You know that blog I linked to about having a daughter that looks like me? Yeah, I'm working on that."

Finally, because I'm feeling very mushy gushy right now, here's a sweet pic of my angel to close out your Sunday.


Thursday, January 13, 2011

Blueberry unveiled

At 11:33pm on January 12, 2011, we met our beautiful promise.
Our princess.


7lbs, 9oz, 20 inches
100% perfection
Ayla - (Hebrew) Oak tree, tree
Jewel- (English) a person or thing that is treasured, esteemed, or indispensable.

These verses represent our prayer for her life and why we picked these names.

Isaiah 61:3 That they may be called oaks of righteousness,
   the planting of the LORD, that he may be glorified.

Psalm 1:2-3 But (her) delight is in the law of Jehovah; And on his law doth (s)he meditate day and night.
 And (s)he shall be like a tree planted by the streams of water, That bringeth forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also doth not wither; And whatsoever (s)he doeth shall prosper.

Proverbs 20:13 There is gold and abundance of costly stones,
   but the lips of knowledge are a precious jewel.





We are so blessed!

(Feel free to share this link  with others or on Facebook. I'll be back on the 'Book tomorrow, but for now, I'm gonna rest and enjoy my family!)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

End in Sight

In a matter of hours, a 3-plus years dream of having a baby in my arms made from me and John is going to come true. That, and ONLY that is what I've been working towards all day.

At the moment, I'm relaxing in my hospital bed, letting the pitocin, epidural, and the nurses do their job to help make this dream come true. I'm 8 cm, Blueberry is at +1 station (nice and low!), and we are both doing well with our blood pressure and heart rates, thanks to a little Effedrin.

This day has not gone as I had hoped, but the finish line is the same and it is so near! From water breaking at 1:45am to 12 hours of "natural" labor later, I had only dilated 3 cm. We started pitocin at 1:45pm and I gave natural labor my very best for 4 hours. I know 4 hours is a tiny speck in a 3-yr journey, let alone a lifetime, but it felt like eternity. I asked (rather urgently I must admit) for the Epi at 6, and was soon in happy-land!

Now, I thought I would be well prepared for such an arduous task as natural childbirth for several factors: 1) I've run 3 marathons. I can employ a long-term mentality in required situations. 2) I have high pain tolerance. Blame this one on my brothers for toughening me up as a kid. 3) I'm very, VERY stubborn. There is little I won't finish that I start.

However, these factors were not actually in my favor today. 1) Marathons, even for first-timers are a universal distance, with well-established rituals to help you train and perform at the level you are able. And most of all- they are marked with mile-markers! And everyone who has seen the 20-mile marker has exactly the same distance left to go. Not so with childbirth! Every factor here is different for every individual. We all may have the same finish line, but our distances and routes to get there are never the same. 2) The pain of pitocin-induced contractions was far more than I expected, but I truly believe they were still in my threshold of tolerance. What I couldn't do was run without mile-markers. I had been in such pain for the last two hours accepting that it was all for a good cause, but when the report came back that NO progress had been made, John and I knew we had to try something else. 3) Being stubborn here was actually going to be a stumbling block to get to my finish line. I really, really wanted to do this whole thing without drugs. But I want a baby in my arms far more and it was clear that I could not have that by mere stubbornness.

So here we are. So close to meeting our son or daughter, our emotions have the nurses tearing up. We have never lost sight of the true finish line and we have been surrounded all day (and truthfully for the past 3+ years) by the best crowd support a couple could ask for.

Keep cheering my friends! We're almost there.

End in sight



In a matter of hours, a 3+-years dream of having a baby in my arms made from me and John is going to come true. That, and ONLY that is what I've been working towards all day.

At the moment, I'm relaxing in my hospital bed, letting the pitocin, epidural, and the nurses do their job to help make this dream come true. I'm 8 cm, Blueberry is at +1 station (nice and low!), and we are both doing well with our blood pressure and heart rates, thanks to a little Effedrin.

This day has not gone as I had hoped, but the finish line is the same and it is so near! From water breaking at 1:45am to 12 hours of "natural" labor later, I had only dilated 3 cm. We started pitocin at 1:45pm and I gave natural labor my very best for 4 hours. I know 4 hours is a tiny speck in a 3-yr journey, let alone a lifetime, but it felt like eternity. I asked (rather urgently I must admit) for the Epi at 6, and was soon in happy-land!

Now, I thought I would be well prepared for such an arduous task as natural childbirth for several factors: 1) I've run 3 marathons. I can employ a long-term mentality in required situations. 2) I have high pain tolerance. Blame this one on my brothers for toughening me up as a kid. 3) I'm very, VERY stubborn. There is little I won't finish that I start.

However, these factors were not actually in my favor today. 1) Marathons, even for first-timers are a universal distance, with well-established rituals to help you train and perform at the level you are able. And most of all- they are marked with mile-markers! And everyone who has seen the 20-mile marker has exactly the same distance left to go. Not so with childbirth! Every factor here is different for every individual. We all may have the same finish line, but our distances and routes to get there are never the same. 2) The pain of pitocin-induced contractions was far more than I expected, but I truly believe they were still in my threshold of tolerance. What I couldn't do was run without mile-markers. I had been in such pain for the last two hours accepting that it was all for a good cause, but when the report came back that NO progress had been made, John and I knew we had to try something else. 3) Being stubborn here was actually going to be a stumbling block to get to my finish line. I really, really wanted to do this whole thing without drugs. But I want a baby in my arms far more and it was clear that I could not have that by mere stubbornness.

So here we are. So close to meeting our son or daughter, our emotions have the nurses tearing up. We have never lost sight of the true finish line and we have been surrounded all day (and truthfully for the past 3+ years) by the best crowd support a couple could ask for.

Keep cheering my friends! We're almost there.


Palindrome anyone? (Take 2)

(Nurse came in to check on me and so I accidentally hit send!)

As much as I wanted Blueberry to have a cool birthday of 1-11-11, it was not to be. I had contractions all day yesterday, but they decreased throughout the day, so we stayed put.

My water broke around 2am followed by even stronger contractions, which I  monitored until they got to the 5-1-1 threshold. I called my doc and she said come in, so we did. We checked into the hospital this morning around 6:30 and got a great room.

The first nurse said that Blueberry was the most beautiful baby here, so I really like where this is headed! Plus, my friend pointed out that a birthday today is a palindrome, and I'm down with that, as my name is one of those, too. 

We are all doing well and hoping for a short stay on this side of having a baby!

That's all for now. I'll try to keep you updated as much as I can. Thanks for all the prayers and well-wishes coming our way!

Monday, January 10, 2011

To be filed under "No Plan Survives First Contact"

The best way for you to be in the know when Blueberry comes is to subscribe to this blog to get each post as an email. (There is a link on the left for you to do this. You can unsubscribe whenever you want.) I know I usually post the link to my blogs on Twitter and FB, but that's a step I won't take from the time I go the hospital until we come home. I will post updates here, though. (What's the good of having a baby if you can't use it to make people read your blog?)

Also, if you comment on my blog, please don't use our last name. Thanks! If you are unable to comment on the blog for some weird technical reason, you should be able to respond to the blogs you get as emails and your response will come to me as an email.

Thanks to all for your prayers, support and excitement. We are so ready to meet our little one. We just hope he or she is ready to meet us soon!

(Oh, and because some have asked, we are registered at Babies R Us and Amazon.) (Not a hint, just an answer!)

Friday, January 7, 2011

Baby Name hints

Alright, y'all. I know some of you are getting anxious to hear any news about Blueberry.

Well, as many people have told me, just hang in there. I'm not anxious, just relaxing and enjoying what will be the last precious moments with my baby as close to me as he or she will ever be and being with my husband before the biggest life change we know.

I'm feeling pretty good. We've learned how to manage the pain of the swelling feet (massages with Burt's Bees Mama Bee Leg and Foot Creme). I can feel myself getting stronger on my long walks every day (Mocha is enjoying them, too!). I went to a chiropractor today who gave me a great adjustment and the good news that there's nothing blocking Blueberry from dropping and also some good stretches to do to stay aligned.

So, while we ALL patiently wait, I thought I'd give you the only hint we've given out about our chosen names. We're going to use John's initials if we have a boy and mine if we have a girl.



Have fun guessing!

Monday, January 3, 2011

One Word 2011

My heart is pounding in my ears even as I type that title.

My friend, Alece, started a challenge last year, which I did not accept. She chose one word to focus on for the year, and invited others to do the same. It's a great concept for those of us who don't like to make resolutions, but I resisted last year because I felt it was so limiting.

I was even very resistant this year when she invited us to join her again. But I couldn't stop thinking about it. Thinking about what my word would be, if, you know, I did choose one. How would it shape my thinking? My writing?  I kept pushing those thoughts away because I was pretty certain I would mostly be focusing on my baby and didn't want to be tied to anything else.

Those were excuses though.

The truth is that my word was chasing me and I was running. I didn't want to commit. Didn't want to be accountable. Vulnerable.

Which is probably exactly why I need to do it.

So, my word for 2011 is

(drum roll)

Joy

No, just kidding. I think we all had enough of that last month.

The word making me extremely nervous right now is

Ask


I've written before how I just like to know, but not to learn. I like to be the one to give help, but not so much to receive it. I like to have the answers, not the questions.

So ask is key for me this year, being a new, partially-single mom. I'm so fortunate to be surrounded by a goldmine of wisdom and experience of other moms who love me and are there for me. It's a bonus prize that many of their husbands are good friends of John's and have offered their help. All I need to do is ask.

Ask is key to unlocking what God has for me this year. There's even a Scripture about that somewhere.

Ask is key to being a better writer. I'll need to ask for advice, feedback and ideas. I'll need to ask for opportunities to write and ask people to let me tell their stories (and then listen to them when they tell me!).

There's so much more, but hey, we've got a year.

Here we go. You in?

(If you want to join the One Word challenge or see what others are blogging about, click out the graphic on the left.)
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