Posts Tagged ‘love’

New momma advice

January 8, 2010

The wife of a college friend is expecting, and she asked for advice. She actually ASKED! Of course, when I tried to post my two cents on her blog, it kept reloading and freaking out. (Hm…maybe she doesn’t want advice after all.) But having written my thoughts out, I couldn’t just scrap them. So they are, for anyone to read.

My two biggest pieces of new momma advice:

  1. Keep in shape while you are pregnant.

Exercising and eating right are hugely important. They will keep you and the baby healthy. They will give you energy to prepare for the baby’s arrival (and to stay awake!). They will give you the stamina to endure labor, give birth and be a momma 24 hours a day. I cannot stress this enough: stay in shape!

As far as asking for help…I always have a hard time admitting to my friends that I don’t have it all together (as if they don’t know). I have a hard enough time getting things done without a baby to care for; trying to do so with a little one is almost impossible. There are days when getting dressed is a huge accomplishment!

The greatest new mom gifts I received were gifts of time–when my mom took the baby for a walk around town so I could nap, when my sister came with me to the first baby check-up, and when my in-laws kept big sister overnight so Michael and I could bond with the new baby.

(And the diaper service. I love the diaper service.)

Often people–even the ones who love you dearly–are clueless about what you really need. And before the baby arrives, it’s easy to pretend that it won’t really be that hard.

It will be. At least in the beginning.

Ask for help. Ask your neighbor to cook you dinner. Ask your best friend to do your laundry. Ask someone else to pick up groceries…and let go enough that it doesn’t matter if it isn’t the brand you usually buy, or if she used an odd-smelling detergent. These are small things in the aftermath of a new arrival.

I promise your friends will help. You just have to show them how.


The two faces of Hope

December 11, 2009

“For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” Romans 8:24-25

In eleven days, my daughter is supposed to have surgery to remove two small branchial cleft remnants on her face. Immediately afterward, before she wakes, she have a bone conduction hearing test to determine whether and to what extent her right ear works.

I am consumed with worry.

I am not, however, worried about her hearing. At least, not today. Today I am more-or-less at peace with her ear. Whatever will be, will be. And I have known many people who thrive with partial or total deafness, so even if her ear is completely nonfunctional, I know she will be fine.

I am worried about the general anesthesia she will undergo as part of the procedure. I am worried that she won’t wake up from the anesthesia–1 in 250,000 people don’t, and the risk is higher in infants. I am worried that we’re taking an enormous risk for a mostly cosmetic procedure, since the hearing test can be done with a much milder (but still general) sedation.

The doctors tell me that this isn’t just cosmetic, that there is a chance of infection or other problems with the remnants. And we should do it now, while she’s young, to minimize scarring. But I still can’t shake the feeling that the doctors are influenced by traditional ideas of beauty. Or, failing that, just expectations of how people “should” look.

My daughter is adorable. She has two little bumps on her face, but they are just bumps. Who cares if she has bumps on the edge of her face?

Here is where I admit that I am a hypocrite. I don’t want to care about physical beauty, but I do. Because I know that the wider world does, and I don’t want my daughter to feel inferior because she has bumps on her face. After surgery, her face will be different. No bumps.

I want to teach my girls that it is what is on the inside that counts. I want them to know that real beauty cannot be seen with the eyes. If I make a decision to alter Hope’s appearance, will they believe me?

Why I love my husband

September 29, 2009

He kisses me goodbye every morning, even when I’m still asleep.

He kisses the baby goodbye every morning, even when she’s still asleep.

He brings our older daughter in to kiss me and the baby goodbye in the mornings.

He sings with our baby, carries her outside to look at trees when she’s inconsolable, and grins every time he sees her.

He plays “monster” (a.k.a. tag) with our older daughter…and every other kid at the playground.

He washes the dishes every night, no matter how late it is, because he knows how much I hate to do them and how little either of us want cockroaches in the house.

He backs me up in political discussions.

He recycles.

He takes out the compost.

He eats everything I cook.

He loves to throw parties with silly themes: Iron Chef, Fry Day, Guilty Pleasures, etc.

He encourages me to write.

He puts up with me when I’m being high-strung and hollering at him for stuff that doesn’t really matter and isn’t even his fault.

He won’t hire or let anyone hire undocumented immigrants to move our furniture.

He makes pancakes with our older daughter almost every Saturday morning. He even lets her crack the eggs.

He takes pictures of all the stuff I really want to post pictures of online but am too lazy or self-conscious to photograph myself.

He works a mundane job and doesn’t complain that I stay home.

He dyed his hair blue. And pink, orange, purple…

He only complained about the excess of zucchini three times this summer.

He made this sign for our garden:


He made our baby’s 4-hour hospital appointment feel more like a romantic, silly, long-overdue date than an occasion for worry and heartache.

Momma faith

September 18, 2009

And a Canaanite woman from that region came out and began to cry out, saying, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is cruelly demon-possessed.’

But He did not answer her a word. And His disciples came and implored Him, saying, ‘Send her away, because she keeps shouting at us.’

But He answered and said, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’

But she came and began to bow down before Him, saying, ‘Lord, help me!’

And He answered and said, ‘It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.’

But she said, ‘Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.’

Then Jesus said to her, ‘O woman, your faith is great; it shall be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed at once.”

–Matthew 15:22-28

A few weeks ago, my pastor used this passage as the theme for his weekly sermon. I cried at the end of the service, in part because this is one of my favorite stories, and we arrived so late that I missed nearly all of the sermon. But also because I wish I had faith that strong. Because my daughters deserve a mother with faith strong enough to intercede for them.

I haven’t written about this before, but it’s not a secret. My younger daughter was born without an opening in her right ear. At the moment, we do not know if she even HAS an inner ear, although I’m pretty certain she does. Basically, it could be something as simple as a thick layer of skin cells that didn’t die away in utero when they were supposed to. Or it could be a complete lack of inner ear workings. Or something in between.

Next Friday we will visit Boys Town National Research Hospital for a four-hour evaluation. And, hopefully, we will find out what we don’t know.

I vacillate between utter confidence that her ear is okay except for some excess skin (she hears just fine) and terror that we are in for years of surgery.

So we come back to momma faith. I know that God has the power to make her ear whole and complete, today or yesterday. I believe that He can heal her. I just don’t know if I believe He will.

Proud Momma moment

June 3, 2009

Sunday was Pentecost, and so our interim pastor focused his sermon on the Paraclete, a.k.a. the Holy Spirit. It was a good sermon, but not theologically ground-shaking. I sat and listened while Michael colored with the Bean. I figured they were half-listening, and when you’re talking about a three-year-old, that’s pretty good.

Anyway, about ten minutes before the end of the service, Bean gave me the card she had been working on so diligently. She said it was for me. From the Holy Spirit. And it is, more or less, an accurate drawing of me at our church. Take a look:

Holy Spirit card


April 22, 2009

(Restaurants later this week, I promise.)

I think most of the folks who read my blog already know this, but in case you don’t…I’m pregnant. Baby 2 is due in June. Apparently I have been too distracted to share this information as widely as I thought I had.

So here we are, two months out, and completely unprepared. Well, not completely. We have the Bean’s old car seats (in various states of assembly). We have a bassinet (at my parents’ house). We have baby clothes (in boxes in the basement).

But I am feeling increasingly uncomfortable about the level of preparation we have accomplished, especially since I am now having Braxton-Hicks contractions every time I stand up. For the entire time I stand up.

Grocery shopping is a nightmare.

Plus, I have so little energy these days. And, paradoxically, so much to accomplish.

I only have two months to earn as much money as I can, since we will essentially be a one-income family once the baby arrives. I doubt I would be doing much substitute teaching in the summer, anyway, but proofreading is theoretically a year-round occupation.

I also have to get everything situated with my business so that my partners can take over my duties (booking events, bookkeeping, publicity, web designer, customer service) with a minimum of fuss. This is a time when I curse my reluctance to delegate, since now I’m the only one who knows how to work our Quickbooks account and our website. Yay.

Stress is obviously not helping with the contractions.

Despite all of this, I am excited and happy about the little one on the way. It’s fun to play tap-the-belly with my hidden wonder. We have spent hours thinking of baby names (without a resolution in sight–if only Michael would start to like “Seymour”). Even the Bean is excited and adjusting reasonably well to the idea of NOT being the baby anymore.

I guess we’ll see how that holds up. =)

Kicking the Can

April 3, 2009

Note: I wrote this more than a year ago, but it has been lingering unread in my “files” since then. I decided the time was ripe to share it.

I have been drinking a can of Coca-cola, at least one, every single day for more than 20 years. When I was a student, it was my after-school snack. As an adult, it became my default lunchtime beverage. I loved it. The bubbles, the caffeine, the sweet-but-not-too-sweet taste.

After a time, though, I began to have misgivings about my love affair with the red-and-white can.

39 grams of sugars per can–the equivalent of nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar. Off-limits for diabetics–how good is it for me?

Accusations of human rights abuses abroad. As I attempt to be a conscientious consumer, how can I justify this purchase that may encourage oppression?

Big business. I’m trying to foster a local economy. Why not spend my money on a small-batch local root beer instead?

Budget. Money is a little tight in these here parts. Why tithe $4 to Coke each week?

And then my infant daughter started grabbing my Cokes. At first I thought it was cute–evidence of her early fine taste…and then I thought again. I’ve been addicted to Coke against my better judgement for more than four years. Did I really want to start my baby down this path?

But I still didn’t stop. I kept the Coke away from little hands, but I kept drinking it.

Until one day…when the price of Coke went up. Nearly $5 for a case. And I thought, this is ridiculous.

“Aren’t you getting anything?” My husband asked, as he swung his customary case of Mountain Dew into the shopping cart.

“No, I’m going to try it without. It’s too expensive right now.”

“Okay.” Unconcerned. My husband is well-accustomed to my eccentricities.

The first week I missed it. Oh, how I craved the caffeine! I drank 2, 3, 4 cups of tea in a day. I spurned water. Flavor! I needed flavor!

I broke down and bought a 65-cent can of Coke from a vending machine. Cracked it open. Took a sip.

It was syrupy. Didn’t taste right. I left it on my desk overnight.

Days passed. I still missed the flavor of something in my drink, but I was determined not to fall back to Coke out of pure habit. If I started drinking Coke again, it would be because I wanted Coke.

We made an “emergency” late-night run to the supermarket. Bought Lemon Zinger tea and Ovaltine.

Another week passed. I ceased missing my daily Coke.

We went to the market. Coke was 2 cases for $5.

“Do you want some?” My darling husband asked.

“Nah,” I replied, walking on by.

I wish I could explain why I was successful in quitting Coke this time, after so many abortive attempts in the past. I wish I could say it was my iron will and moral certitude. But honestly, my willpower resembles jello more than steel. And my morality…well, I try.

The truth is, for whatever reason, Coke just doesn’t taste good anymore.

And I’ve got a half-empty can on my desk to prove it.

Advent Reflections Update #2

March 15, 2008

So now that it’s Lent, I have found my Advent reflections notebook. Ah, timeliness.

Luke 1:6: “Both of them [Zechariah and Elizabeth] were upright in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commandments and regulations blamelessly.”

Zechariah and Elizabeth were the parents of John the Baptist (Jesus’s cousin and the prophet who proclaimed his coming). Just in case that didn’t click right away.

In my faith tradition (which is mixed, to be sure), I learned that only Jesus is without sin. If this is so,  how could Zechariah and Elizabeth be blameless? Is it simply because they made all the appropriate repentance and sacrifices when they did sin?

So…first of all, is it possible to be human without sinning?

Certain faith traditions teach that God set up the Judaic laws so that they would be impossible to keep, showing everyone their need for salvation. However…built in to the laws are the acts necessary for atonement. So if you covet your neighbor’s sheep, but then atone for your covetousness, have you broken the law? Have you sinned?

From the perspective of modern laws, the answer would be yes, of course you did. After serving jail time for dealing drugs, the dealer is still a convict. Atonement does not undo one’s crime.

So, again, is it possible to be human without sinning? As a sinner, I have been taught over and over that the answer to this question is no. To be human is to be a sinner. But this answer must be taken with a grain of salt, since it comes from sinners.

A second question arises. If being human means being a sinner, but Jesus did not sin, was he truly human?

Lots of questions. Here’s what I think. I don’t believe Judaic law is impossible to keep. I think it is possible to be human and refrain from sin. But I don’t think anyone does, aside from Jesus. I think Jesus came to show us our potential as human beings, starting with keeping the law and refraining from sin.

If you read Leviticus, you’ll find it is full of “thou shalt not”s. Does God want us to just not do things? No. If God just wanted us to keep the letter of his law, Jesus would have been right behind the Pharisees.

But Jesus did a lot more than keep the law. He showed us the other side, the fullness of the law. You can keep the letter of the law and still sin. Sin is a matter of the heart.

Let me put this another way. Say it is against the law to use a pesticide called DDT. Ann does not use DDT–in fact, she does not use any pesticides, since she does not grow any food. But she buys DDT-sprayed apples from George, since they are cheaper than the DDT-free apples that Joann grows. Is Ann guilty of breaking the law?

Under moderns laws (at least in the United States), no. Ann has done nothing wrong. But if this law is from God, then yes, she has sinned. Because she has encouraged George to sin and discouraged Joann in her attempt to live by the law. In fact, Ann’s choice may even cause Joann to sin, since a lack of customers may force Joann to use DDT so her apples can compete in the marketplace.

This is why I have a problem with the idea of “private faith”. So many people out there believe that, if they use no metaphorical pesticides, they are okay with God. If they don’t swear, if they don’t have sex before they get married, if they avoid Disney movies…they are good and righteous and a-okay with God. In the meantime, they sin by looking down on people who do swear, have sex, etc.  These people, in my eyes, are Pharisees. And yes, I’ve been one. I still am, sometimes.
Jesus showed us that we must LOVE one another, that our relationships with one another are paramount. The list of “thou shalt not”s is a list of acts that detract from relationships. How can you love and support your neighbor if you are having fantasies about his wife? How can you love and support Ai Lin if you buy toys from the manufacturer that pollutes her home with toxic waste?

Believe it or not, shopping can be a sin, depending on what you buy and your reasons for buying it. Globalization makes it harder and harder to NOT sin. You have to do a lot of research, and KNOW what you’re buying and how it was produced.

Or you could shop local, get to know the businesspeople in your area, build relationships and support the folks around you. Hm. Maybe this is what God wants us to do.

To bring this back to Zechariah and Elizabeth, what kind of people do you think they were? I’ll bet that they were pretty good about keeping the laws. They didn’t violate the law a whole lot, and they atoned whenever they did. But I’ll also bet that Zechariah and Elizabeth truly loved each other and their community. They probably pitched in whenever someone needed help, whether that meant taking care of the sick or harvesting the olives before a freeze. I’m certain they did not condemn others for messing up, but helped them pick up the pieces instead.

At least, these are the type of parents I would choose for a prophet.