Thursday, March 31, 2011


I am terribly behind on book posts.

But, the good news is, I am NOT terribly behind on actually reading the books! This is week 13 of the year and I'm posting on book ten (which I finished over a week ago. Whoops.) and am almost finished with books eleven and twelve. Not bad, eh?

So, let's hop right in there.

Book Ten: Too Much Happiness, Alice Munro

Now, I need to start with a confession.  I don't love short stories.
This is a big deal, because, uh, David writes short stories. AND I LOVE HIS! REALLY I DO! THEY ARE EXCELLENT!

But here's my thing. When I read fiction, I like to fall in to what I read. I like to swim in the story, to make friends with the characters, to get taken in by the plot.  I love really, really, really long books, and anything in a series.  I love the promise of having a story that goes on and on and on and on so that I can indefinitely escape reality. This is also why I love to re-read favorite books. Love. It.

So, short stories are not my favorite because they do not support my (very healthy) desire to escape reality indefinitely. They end too quickly! Just when I'm really into things, it's all OVER. Ugh.

However, I do make a few exceptions for some truly beautiful authors whose writing is SO good that somehow I can enjoy it even though it ends too soon.  Short story authors that I heart are David Williamson, Ha Jin, Flannery O'Connor, Tim O'Brian,  and of course, Alice Munro.

I've read two other collections by her and enjoyed both of them- Runaway, and Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage. (Awesome title, yes??) This collection did not let me down either.

LIKE: Most of her main characters are women, and excellently written ones at that.  Munro writes beautifully about the complexities of relationships and the small, and sometimes unrealized, experiences that define us. She has a knack for zeroing in on things... the best way I can explain it is that I often am reading a story, and I get this thrill because Munro has just defined or described some feeling that I have never been able to isolate and examine, let alone put into words. She's good ya'll. She's real good.  My favorite story in this collection was "Child's Play" for that very reason. (Be forewarned though. It's also arguably the most disturbing story in the collection.)

NO LIKE: I already covered my mixed feelings toward the short story. I will leave it at that.

"...even though I might say in passing that people who rain down bombs or burn cities or starve and murder hundreds of people are not generally considered Monsters but are showered with medals and honors, only acts against small numbers being considered shocking and evil."

"Every year when you're a child, you become a different person... For a long while the past drops away from you easily and it would seem automatically, properly. Its scenes don't vanish so much as become irrelevant."

This first picture is not really a great picture. It's blurry, the lighting is off, and it's a little overexposed.  But it's a Picture of The Week anyway, because even though it's not a great PICTURE, it's a great MOMENT. Everyone was playing together. Nicely. Without me.  Sweet Jesus, thank you for these small mercies.

I really like this picture. It is my true favorite this week.
I call it, The Pensive Snacker.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

'Communication' or 'What Have I Done!?'

A few months ago, I though it would be an awesome idea to teach Henry some baby sign language.
My reasons were simple:
1. It'll be so cute!
2. I'll know what he wants!
3. All the other moms are doing it!
4. It will make me look like a Good Mom!!!
5. Sigh. I really want to be a Good Mom.

So, I learned the signs for a few simple things to get started: book, diaper, milk, food, more, all done. And then, for a couple months, I would remember about every other day or so to do the signs with Henry, and he would look at me and wave his arms, and that was it.

AND THEN HE GOT IT!  In a whirlwind of baby genius he learned ALL food related signs. And then, he started to realize that he could CONTROL HIS SURROUNDINGS THROUGH COMMUNICATION.  Nothing has been the same since. I live with a baby dictator.

Some days, I seriously want to kick myself in the face for teaching him how to tell me what he wants. He is totally in charge now. He wakes up from naps signing for food. When he is sick of one food, he starts signing for food again, just to see what the new food will be. Sometimes, he signs for food RIGHT after he has finished a HUGE meal. I know he's not hungry. He just wants to see what else I'll give him. Sometimes, he signs for food with one hand, while pointing to the cabinet where we keep the Cheerios with his other had and says 'chhh, chhh, CHHHHHHH'. Clearly, this means he wants Cheerios. Only Cheerios. No other food will do. Did you hear me? NO OTHER FOOD WILL DO. If I give him a food he doesn't like, he makes noises like a cat hacking up a hairball while signing for food.

(Side Note: When he puts something gross in his mouth, I say "Eww, no Henry, icky, Blech!" The hairball noise is his version of 'Blech.' Awesome, Rachel. Great sound to teach him. You're going to looooove listening to that every time you feed him a vegetable.)

And, of course, if a delicious food runs out, get ready. He will do the more sign with such ferocity, I worry he's going to get carpal tunnel in his little baby wrists. It does not matter if there are still other, very lovely foods on his tray. He wants MORE. Of THAT food. Obey him now.

When he wants to nurse, he signs for milk, and begins to crawl into my shirt. He cannot be stopped. (And yes, he is 13 months. And yes, he is still nursing some. And yes, I am conflicted about it. So please, refrain from giving me your opinion on this issue. Unless of course, you want to tell me that I am a Good Mom. That, of course, is fine.)

When he is done eating, WATCH OUT! He waves both arms around in a total butchery of the sign for all done, and screeches maniacally.  DO NOT ATTEMPT TO OFFER ONE LAST BITE. This is a total affront to his character and unspeakably rude of you. Did you not see the sign?? He. Is. All. Done.

So for a while, I of course responded immediately and with enthusiasm to all of his requests.

You guys. Come one. Of course I did!! I love Henry! I feed him when he is hungry, I cuddle him when he is sad, I believe in meeting his needs! And, my baby was communicating!!!  It was so important to reinforce his efforts to communicate with me! My baby was so smart! He knows signs! And, he is so darn CUTE doing those signs with his sweet, chubby, little baby hands!

But now? Those sweet baby hands are holding the puppet strings, guys. And I am dancing around like the village idiot.

So, tonight I looked up  a few more signs.  No, wait, please, and thank you.

Tomorrow, I'm staging a coup. I'm outing the Baby Dictator and introducing a Momocracy.

Don't worry, Henry. I'm a benevolent monarch.

Friday, March 25, 2011

A Boy and His Dog

I have read a book! And I really need to do a book post. 
But I'm leaving this afternoon on a Women's Retreat with my church, and leaving Henry ALL night long, for the FIRST TIME EVER. 
It's only 24 hours. I will be back tomorrow afternoon. David is a completely capable and confident father. They will be FINE. But. Still. (Help!)
So, I need to spend my time today packing and worrying and feeling guilty and getting anxious and questioning my decision to go and all that good stuff. YAY!

So, instead of a book post, I leave you all, fair readers, with those few words of angsty mommy drivel, and this lovely photo of the children of my heart.

Happy Weekend!

A Boy and His Dog

Thursday, March 24, 2011

This Happened.

I am washing dishes. I turn around.

Henry is sitting on the floor. A is sitting next to him.

Henry is happily munching on piece of toast.

I did not give Henry toast.


Rachel: Henry... where did you get that toast?
Henry: Ga Ba
Rachel: A, did you give Henry some toast?
A: Nooo, Heny get toost fum tash can
Rachel: What?
A: Heny get TOOST fum tash can!
Rachel: What!?!
Rachel: Henry got toast from the trash can?!?!!?!!!!!?!!!!!!!!?????

Things to do today:
1. Go to Target
2. Buy trash can with lid
3. Scour inside of Henry's mouth
4. Enroll in Remedial Parenting Classes

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Baby On A Boat

This past weekend, we went to Smith Mountain Lake. It was FABULOUS, and of course, resulted in copious amounts of baby pictures.  Because, babies in lifejackets? Ridiculously cute.

First, the cast of characters from this weekend:
Steve, our fearless boat captain. His parents own the house we all stayed in- so a super, super, super, big THANK YOU to them!
His lovely wife Lindsay, and their adorable son Caleb. 
Consider this Exhibit One: Babies Are Cute In Lifejackets.

Mark & Mary Alice  (Nuncle Markie, Auntie Mary Alice)

Christian and Amanda 

Tom & Amanda 

Oh, and here's Mary Alice again, demonstrating the general goal of lakehouse time:

Nice, Mary.

Okay, now Henry In a Lifejacket, alternate title: Baby On A Boat, alternate title: Buy Every Baby a Lifejacket.

Also, Henry would like you to know that food tastes better at the lake. Duh.

 And, to close, some gratuitously embarrassing pictures of 'Nuncle Markie'. Feast your eyes on this ladies:

You are all welcome.

And, Mark, I'm sorry. But you know, I have this camera now, so I can't be trusted.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I have to start this post off with an apology to my community group.

No, it's not for talking too loudly when I get excited.
No, it's not for interrupting too often.
No, it's not for allowing my dog and child to steal food off of your plates.
No, it's not even for failing to vacuum before you guys come over, or for not having enough clean plates, or for the holes in my sofa.
(Although, now that I think about it, a few apologies may be in order...)

I have to apologize because when we picked our last book, I voted down The Praying Life in favor of Counterfeit Gods, and then promptly went out, bought it, read it, and now I am going to hassle all of you into reading it too. Oops. Sorry!

But guys, it was so good. You really want to read it. And then, you want to talk to me about it. YOU DO! I PROMISE! I will bake you something if you do...

Book Nine: The Praying Life, by Paul Miller

LIKE: Mr. Miller is awesome. Paul? Can I call him Paul? Paul is awesome. Because I am just a smidge introspective and can get slightly obsessive about theology that I don't understand, I've read multiple books on prayer.  And although I have enjoyed them all, and in some respect have benefitted and learned from them all, this one is my clear, head and shoulders above favorite. Fav. O. Rite.  Paul just gets all over things. He's theological, yet emotional. There are passages that I have to read three times to fully grasp, and there are engaging anecdotes. There are lofty ideas and concepts, and really practical advice. Plus, there are diagrams that are ACTUALLY helpful. Who knew!
In conclusion- if you're like me, and have spent a significant amount of time feeling skeptical about prayer, its purpose, its effects, its place, you really want to read this book. And then, you want to talk to me about it. YOU DO! I PROMISE! I will bake you something if you do...

NO LIKE: At first, I was annoyed that there were 32 chapters. It just seemed excessive. Combine some of those bad boys, Paul. But, I think I take it back. This is not a book to read quickly. It lends itself to smaller bites and copious chewing. So, the smaller chapters help.
Thats it. The only criticism I have, I take back.

FAV QUOTES: Okay, here's something I 'no like'- there are WAY to many quotable quotes!! I underlined all over this book. So, after much sifting, here are a few I really liked. (All emphasis is mine.)

"The persistent widow and the friend at midnight get access, not because they are strong, but because they are desperate. Learned desperation is at the heart of a praying life."

"This one-person focus is how love works. Love incarnates by slowing down and focusing on the beloved. We don't love in general; we love one person at a time."

"You don't create intimacy, you make room for it. This is true whether you are talking about your spouse, your friend, or God. You need space to be together. Efficiency, multitasking, and busyness all kill intimacy. In short, you can't get to know God on the fly."

"Many things in life can't be observed directly. In quantum physics, you can't observe a particles mass and speed at the same time. Sexual love in marriage is beautiful; sexual love observed is pornography... Some things just disappear when you try to capture or observe them."

My favorite of the favs, is the one about loving one person at a time. That really resonated with me.

And, speaking of LOVING people, I know you are just about to kill me for all of these wordy, photo-less posts this week. Where is The Hank?? Where is the star of the blog?!?

Fear not, loyal readers!

We are at Smith Mountain Lake with some friends this weekend, (wooohooooo!) so I promise you a bangin' photo update when we return.

Happy Saturday!

Thursday, March 17, 2011


So, while you fools have been sittin' on your biscuit, never havin' to risk it, I've read two (2) (TWO!) more books. And changed dozens of diapers, and wiped hundreds of noses, and made thousands of snacks, and read millions of baby books, and said "Share, please!" billions of times.

Okay, my numbers got a little extravagant there at the end, but I really did read two books. But, I'm betting I'll only get to tell you about one of them in this post though, one: because I have a short attention span, and two: because of all the aforementioned diapers, noses, etc. Also, three: because I like to stretch these things out and create all this WILD suspense so you can't HELP but come back! Ack!

Book Eight: The Gravedigger's Daughter, by Joyce Carol Oates
David went to a writing conference in February and bought me this book and then got it AUTOGRAPHED by Joyce Carol Oates! This made me feel very special and fancy.

Special and fancy, until, you know, I got peanut butter and apple juice on the book while reading it.

CLEARLY, I can't be trusted to take care of nice things. Or fancy things, or special things. Please, don't give me these kinds of things. Or, really, any things that are supposed to be kept clean. It's too much for me.

Right, right, books. Okay. I've enjoyed Oates' writing very much in the past, Blonde is my favorite of hers,  and We Were the Mulvaneys is a close second.  But, her books can be a bit... heavy? bleak? brutally realistic? And I'm a bit of a wimp sometimes. So, I put the book a few down on my list, in order to emotionally brace myself. This was a good idea. The first half of the book is heartbreaking. But, Oates made it up to me in the second half.

LIKE: The protagonist. The heroine in this book is Rebecca, and she is a masterfully crafted character. I would love to be able to say more about her, but I don't even know how to describe it. So I won't. But you totally want to read this book and get to know her.
I also really, really, REALLY liked the ending. I don't want to give anything away, but the book ends with a series of letters between Rebecca and another character and it somehow manages to bring everything full circle without being too 'neat' of an ending. And, it was... well... it was beautiful. A beautiful character, a beautiful story, a beautiful novel. Sigh. Oates is a lady-writer-genius.

NO LIKE: The first half of the book was  a little rough.  Not like, rough writing, but rough for me to read.
Something happened to me after I had a baby, guys. And I'm not talking about slightly stretched out tummy skin or the ability to fall asleep anytime, anywhere.
It's this: when I read (or watch, or hear) about children, mothers, or the maternal relationship, I am unable to distance myself emotionally. No, you know what, not even distance, I can't even SEPARATE myself. It just sucks me in.  In fact, perfect example, last year I started reading Loving Frank by Nancy Horan, and in it, the mother leaves her children to go find herself in Europe with her lover, and doesn't come back for several years. I STOPPED READING the book, because I was so mad at her. I still haven't finished the book, because I'm STILL MAD.
So, anyway, call me if you have a diagnosis, but basically, the first half of The Gravedigger's Daughter was hard to push through for similar reasons, but clearly, I'm glad I did. Totally worth it.

Rebecca vowed: she would not make mistakes with her son at this time in his life. So young, before he began school. When a child is at the mercy of his parents almost exclusively. That was why Rebecca looked up words in the dictionary. And she had high school textbooks, too. To get things right. To get those things right that you could, amidst so much that you could not.

Always Katy spoke with an impulsiveness of one for whom there is no hesitation between a wish and its immediate expression.

"Or even, maybe," Zack said excitedly, "the different ways of human speech are crude and clumsy and are actually pointing toward the same thing, but different languages make them confused. Like, 'God' is behind the religions, like the sun you can't look at directly, you'd go blind, except if there was no sun, see, then you would really be blind, because you couldn't see a damned thing. Maybe it's like that?"

Secrets! In the tight little bundle inside her rib cage in the place where her heart had been. So many secrets, sometimes she couldn't get her breath.

I'll tell you about book nine tomorrow. You know, once you've basically DIED of suspense.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

This Is Why I Love My Sister. And My Husband.

SETTING: 11 pm. Rachel is in bed. David is in bed. They are reading. Because they are almost in their thirties, and must behave in a manner befitting their age.


Phone makes text-beepy noise from the other room.

Five seconds of silence.

D: That was your phone.
R: I know.
D: Are you going to get it?
R: Nah.
D: What if it's important? What if it's an emergency?
R: Who texts in an emergency?? If it's really important someone would call. Or text you. You're more reliable. Phonewise, at least.
D: in a clearly disapproving tone  Alright.

5 seconds of silence.

D: dramatic sigh  I'm going to get it. I have to know.
R: smug satisfied smile. she knew he would cave  Fine.
D: returns, hands over phone, is clearly, inappropriately jubilant that something exciting may have happened out in the world.  Who is it? What'd they say??
R: It's Mary Catherine.
D: OMG, what did she say?? Oh man. I bet she and Dan broke up. Oh, or they're engaged. OH, OR SHE'S PREGNANT!
R: Oh for pete's sake! It is not ANY of those things! I'm totally telling her you thought that, though.

TEXTS: (all exchanged with David peering hopefully over my shoulder.)
MC: Are you awake?
R: yesssss...
R: what's up?
MC: Can I borrow your Netflix account to watch shows instantly? I'm desperate for some BBC mini-series.
R: OMG, I seriously love you.
R: I don't even want to TELL you what David thought this late-night text was going to be about.
MC: Wait... I have to know what he thought now
R: 1 they broke up 2 they're engaged 3 she's pregnant me: omg david, put your big girl panties on, none of those are going to be true.
MC: HAHAHAHAHA I was really hoping it was something along those lines.
R: You know how much david loves a scandal.
MC: I know, i'll try to increase the scandalization in the future.
R: Thank you. We'd appreciate that. Also, I'm blogging this entire conversation tomorrow because it is so hilarious.

D: feeling a little disappointment and huffy It's not that funny.

Rachel & David go sleep, David dreaming of scandal, Rachel dreaming of BBC mini-series.
Mary Catherine leaves her college house and goes out to create some scandal, therefore fulfilling her proper role as sister/sister-in-law and bearer of future exciting late-night texts.

Maybe next week, I will post some of my texts with my sister Annie. Now, that's where the real scandal is going to be. Ain't no way that girl is watching BBC at 11pm.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Spring Swing

For Henry's birthday, my parents bought him a swing. 
Today, David hung it in one of the trees in our front yard.
To say that Henry enjoyed the swing, would be a wild understatement.


I'm sorry. I couldn't narrow it down to any less pictures than that. If it helps, I took about 40. So, I did do SOME weeding out.

Friday, March 11, 2011


Today is Friday.
Today I accidentally ate a whole box of Wheat Thins. 
Today I on purpose drank a liter of Diet Coke.
Today Henry took his first two steps.
Today I found this picture that I took about a week ago.
Today was a good day.

Happy weekend, friends.

Monday, March 7, 2011


A couple of weekends ago, David & I were sick.
Then, the whole next week, Henry was sick with a fever & cold symptoms, culminating in an ear infection diagnosis on Friday, and blessed, blessed antibiotics.

I hate it when Henry is sick. It's just awful. I'm sure it's hard for everyone when they have a sick baby, it's a universal difficulty, but I just feel like its such an emotional and spiritual hit for me.

When I pick him up and feel that fever, hear those whimpers of pain, it all comes back.

All of a sudden, I'm back in that ambulance. I'm back in that operating room, and they're pulling my arms away from my belly. All of a sudden, I see his little body in that plastic cart again, covered with tubes and tapes. It makes me remember, and I really hate to remember.

When he is sick, it's so much harder to believe the lies that I love so much.

It's okay!
Everything is fine!
It'll turn out okay.
He's fine- don't worry.

Because, honestly, it's not fine. And it won't be okay. It MIGHT be fine, it COULD be okay, but there's no guarantee. There's no promise of that. At least not in this time, on this earth. It will be okay, eventually, on an eternal scale. I believe that one day it will be okay and fine and perfect. Just not now. Just not here. Just not today. But, I really prefer the lies. They give me such peace.

When he is sick, it reminds me again of how fragile his little life is. All our lives are fragile, I know, but his life, I just don't want to think about his life being fragile. I prefer the lie: He's going to be fine! He will always be okay!

But, when I hold his hot little body in my arms and feel his fever, or his coughs, or his squirms, or discomfort, I am overwhelmed with the fragility of his body, the ephemeralness of his life, the tenuous nature of all life, and it makes me feel so desperate.

I think Henry's birth forced me to realize, from the very beginning of his life, that I am so. not. in. control. That I cannot protect him from all that I want to. That earthly life is a gift, not a guarantee. But, most terrifyingly, that my faith in God cannot be contingent on the circumstances of my life, or of Henry's.

If I believe that God is good, he has to be good even when people I love die, or are broken by tragedies, or suffer deeply.

If I believe that God protects me, then I have to believe he is a protector even if tragedy befalls me, large or small.

If I believe that God loves me, I have to believe he loves me even when it doesn't feel like it. Even when life is difficult or bleak.

And if I believe that God loves Henry, that he is the Lord of his life, the author of his salvation, his creator; if I believe that Jesus loves Henry even more than I do, then I have to believe it no matter what.

I have to believe it if he lives a long, full life, or if he dies tomorrow.

I have to believe it is his life is full of joys and triumphs, or a series of disappointments and sorrows.

I am slowly realizing that if my faith is conditional, it is not faith. It is only religion.

And I really hate religion.  So, I'm working on faith.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


This week, we start with pictures!  I know, you're all so lucky.

Pictures of the Week:

Room With A View


And, now the book.

Book 7: Instruments in the Redeemer's Hands- People in Need of Change, Helping People in Need of Change  by Paul David Tripp

This week, I finished reading Instruments in the Redeemers Hands (henceforth referred to as IRH, because that is a way long title.)  The approach that I've taken to the 52 book plan is to read a fiction book and a non-fiction book simultaneously. Sounds like it might be confusing (or annoying,) but I actually really like it. I read a chapter a day of my NF book in the mornings, and then read my fiction book throughout the day.

I like this system because I like to read non-fiction slowly, and think about it a lot, and take notes on it. (Reminder: nerd.) But with fiction, I like to get lost in the story, read it real fast, and then think when it's over. This system lets me do BOTH and still get through about a book a week on average. Capisce?

SO, our assistant pastor gave me a copy of IRH a few weeks ago, and whenever someone gives me a book, I feel compelled to read it immediately. (I do not know why. I also feel this way when people give me food. Please call if you have a diagnosis for me.) So, it jumped to the top of my non-fiction pile, and I am so glad. Here's why...

LIKE: So the focus of this book is what I guess you could call 'lay counseling.' Or, you could also call it 'how to be a good friend.' I prefer the latter, because I'm not fancy, but, you know, whatever.  And, although I really appreciated the fact that the book was framed towards helping others (and hope that I can use it that way one day,) I honestly think it really helped me. A lot of his focus is on getting to the heart of our issues, struggles, and problems in life by sort of stripping away all of the outer layers of situations to reveal the core. Stripping away the people, the actions, the emotions, to reveal the deeper issues of our heart that create the essence of our struggles. Reading it was kind of like having someone shine a flashlight into my soul. And lemme tell you, there are some gross, cobwebby, grimy places in there.
It was a great opportunity for self-reflection, and Tripp does an excellent job of moving slowly and laying things out step-by-step so you really feel like you're learning what he's trying to teach. I'd definitely recommend it. But, be prepared to get cobwebby and dirty. Unless, of course, your soul is cleaner than mine. Which it probably is. So, never mind. You'll be fine.

NO LIKE: Okay, so, it's a long book. And, there's an appendix too. But who reads those? No one! Not even me! So, I get to page 276, and I'm all, "Yay, I'm done!" Then, I start flipping through the extra HUNDRED pages of appendix, and it was really, really interesting, so I had to read it all too. Just call them chapters next time, Paul. Then I'll just know getting into it that I'm signing up to read all 375 pages.

(This was a hard section this time, because most of the things that I underlined and put stars & exclamation points next to were paragraphs, or longer. What can I say, he's an insightful guy. I went with shorter quotes though. In the interest of accessibility. If you want the longer ones, you should just read the book. You can borrow my copy and check out all my stars & exclamations.)

"In reality, you are part of something immense, something that began before you were born and will continue after you die."

"This overarching story reflects the fact that our problem as human beings is deeper than the individual sins we commit each day, creating the specific problems that complicate our lives. Our deepest problem is that we seek to find our identity outside the story of redemption."

"I am deeply persuaded that the foundation for people-transforming ministry is not sound theology; it is love. Without love, our theology is a boat without oars.

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Day in the Life

So, now that I'm famous, a lot of people ask me what an average day in my life looks like.

What? You didn't know I was famous?? I totally am! My blog got 7 hits last week!! And only two of them were from my mom!!

Just kidding. My mom doesn't even read my blog. I don't think. Mom? Mom, are you there?

SO, not one to hold back, I'm here to pull back the veil on my life.   My only caution is this: the life I am about to describe is glamorous and wild beyond what you could ever have imagined. Reading about it may make you green with envy. Also, I just lied.

A Day in the Life:

5:00 am- Alarm rings. Roll over & turn alarm off. Much to husband's dismay, repeat this process 5 times in the next 30 minutes.

5:32 am- Get out of bed. Cry a little on the way to shower. Promise self that I can take a nap this afternoon. (yeah, right)

5:35 am- Get in shower. Ahhhhhhhh. Begin to perk up.

5:45 am- Put pajamas back on (what? its WAY to early to pick out clothes, plus its FREEZING this early in the morning!!!) Get GIANT cup of coffee, get bible, books & journal, get to sofa, get under blanket, make snuggly nest on sofa with my things, ahhhhhh. NOW the day can start.

6:45 am- David brings Henry to Sofa Nest. Kiss Henry, nurse Henry, give Henry back to David for breakfast, getting dressed, and general Daddy Time.

7 am- Drag self out of Sofa Nest. Go to bedroom, get dressed, attempt to manage hair & makeup. Look in mirror. Feel slightly dissatisfied with reflection. Have one of the following reactions: Swear to eat better today, swear to go the gym tomorrow, decide to buy better/cooler/trendier clothes tomorrow, wish my tummy looked like it did before pregnancy, vaguely remember that tummy was not that great before pregnancy either, curse fashion industry for creating false images of perfection that I cannot live up to, remember that I actually love the fashion industry, wish I had enough money to actually participate in the fashion industry, realize that I am now standing in front of mirror, and cannot remember why. Decide to leave mirror. It's not really my friend.

7:30 am- Girls arrive! Hello Darling Daytime Daughters! Get everyone in, get everyone settled, put away food, bottles, diapers for the day, etc.

8:00 am- The whirlwind of managing everyone's excrement begins! Yeah, you heard me. Excrement. First, take A potty. Then, change K. Henry will now be rapidly trying to escape the horror, oh the horror, of having his diaper changed. Catch him. Try to ignore totally disproportionate to the situation screaming, change him. ( To spare you the monotony, this happens every hour on the hour- A is still in training, potty-wise, and K & Henry wear cloth diapers, so I at least check them every hour. This will now simply be referred to as "The Whirlwind.")

8:20 am- Drag everyone into playroom! Yay! You love it in here! It's so much easier for me to manage you! Set up the babies with toys, and have circle time with A. Numbers, letters, colors, shapes, songs, oh my! Occasionally interrupt circle time to separate babies and prevent them from chewing on each other.

9:00 am- The Whirlwind. Put Henry down for nap. Feed K her bottle. Put K down for nap.

9:30 am- Set up A with coloring/painting/playdough/craft/puzzles. OH MY GOSH, as fast as you can, fast fast, fast, before they wake up, clean up from breakfast, reply to all emails, return phone calls, make appointments, prep stuff for dinner, ANYTHING IN YOUR LIFE that you have to do other than taking care of babies, DO IT RIGHT NOW, QUIIIIIIIIIIICK!

10:00 am- Collapse from dehydration and exhaustion. As soon as body hits sofa, expect to hear K waking up. She has radar. Also, she does not like naps. Sad. Get up K, get A her snack. Decide I also want snack... ahhh, NOW I feel better! Tackle The Whirlwind (minus Henry) with renewed vigor!

10:30 am- Henry wakes up. Change him, give him milk. Everyone settles into the living room floor for playtime. Yay puzzles, yay blocks, yay toys.

11:00 am- It's time for a walk! (What? Baby & toddler toys bore me quickly. Don't judge.) First, The Whirlwind.  Put on A's coat and shoes. Put on K's coat and shoes. Put on Henry's coat and shoes. Quickly re-put on whatever has been taken off in the last 2 minutes because they are BABY HOUDINIS!! Buckle K in stroller. Buckle A in stroller. Put Henry in Baby wrap. Start the walk! WE'RE OUT OF THE HOUSE!!!  HOORAY! IT'S A WONDERFUL WORLD! LIFE HOLDS SO MUCH POSSIBILITY! BIRDS, SKY, GRASS, LEAVES FLOWERS!!
(Alternate possibility: It is raining. We can't go for our walk. Cry, wail, say that life isn't fair. Turn on The View to comfort self. Continue to play with baby toys. Sigh.)

12:00 pm- Whirlwind. Feed K bottle. Bring all munchkins into kitchen. Wash everyone's hands. Buckle Henry into highchair one. Buckle K into highchair two. A can get into her own chair. :) Give A her lunch. Give Henry his lunch. Get K's lunch. Get sippy cups. Sit in between two highchairs, alternately feeding both babies. Sweet Potato lies in wait under table, grabbing whatever scraps fall. A lot of scraps fall. Some are purposely thrown. Whatever. I pick my battles around here. (Side note: what do people do who don't have dogs? do they have to sweep all the food up??? Sounds terrible.) Clean up all children, unbuckle everyone, back into living room.

12:45 pm- Turn on cartoons. I love you PBS kids. Clean kitchen while children are held captive by the Magical Magic of the television.

1:00 pm- Put Henry down for nap.

1:15 pm- Put A down for nap.

1:30 pm- Put K down for nap.

1:35 pm- DO THE HALLELUJAH DANCE AROUND THE LIVING ROOM!!! The Holy Grail of childcare has been achieved! The Simultaneous Nap! Hallelujah!!!!!!!!  Now, QUICK QUICK, WHILE YOU HAVE TIME, clean up the house, reply to all emails, return phone calls, make appointments, prep stuff for dinner, ANYTHING IN YOUR LIFE that you have to do other than taking care of babies, DO IT RIGHT NOW, QUIIIIIIIIIIICK! Oh, yeah, and go to the bathroom! Oh, yeah, and make your own lunch! Eat it! Clean up! Talk to David when he calls on his lunch break! Pass out from joy & exertion!

2:00 pm- Now, Sophie's Choice time. There's half an hour left before K will wake up. The choices are:
1. Read current book
2. Watch Real Housewives (don't you dare judge me) while reading blogs and stalking people on FB.  Honestly... it's averages to about a 50/50 split between which one I choose.

2:30 pm- K wakes up. Snuggle her, change her, set her up w toys.

2:45 pm- Henry wakes up. Snuggle him, give him milk, change him. Set him up with toys.

3:00 pm- A wakes up. Snuggle her, potty trip, get her snack. While she eats snack & Henry plays, get K her bottle.

3:15 pm- Afternoon playtime! Often, everyone is in a good mood and can entertain themselves with toys and such, with reasonable interference, for a while. Run around, get a few things done, finish prepping dinner stuff if needed. Otherwise, lay on floor and let children climb all over me. What? That counts as playing with them.

4:00 pm- The Whirlwind.  Get all the girls stuff together so they are ready to go. Then, storytime! Read board books together. The same 2 dozen or so board books. Everyday. Every. Single. Day.I can recite almost all of them from memory. The useless things that I give my brain cells to...

4:30 pm- Girls get picked up! Shoes, coats, packing bags, hugs, kisses, waves byebye.

4:45 pm- Mama & Henry Time!! There are 3 options:
1. Run an errand. It is so great to leave the house.
2. If the weather is super lovely, go for another walk. Repeat- it is so great to leave the house.
3. Turn on Elmo, lay on the floor together and snuggle/play. Sometimes, slothfulness is better than leaving the house.

5:30- Diaper change. Dinner for Henry & Sweet Potato. More lying in wait. More scraps on floor. More kitchen cleaning. (For me, heaven is going to be a huge kitchen that cleans itself perpetually. Can't wait.)

6:00 pm- Bathtime! Henry's favorite time of the day. I usually sit next to the tub & read a book or answer emails. Is that weird? He doesn't need me, he so darn happy in there.

6:30 pm- Pajamas, milk, playtime.

7:00 pm- Blessed Bedtime. Blessed, blessed, blessed. Henry is never cuter than he is when he is going to sleep at night.


If you are still reading this, I am so totally impressed with your commitment to this post. Even I didn't read this far. I will spare you the details of my life from 7pm to 11pm. I will tell you however, that it involves significantly less diapering.

I'll also say, that I left out a few things in my day.... like the constant wiping of noses, the time-outs, the moments where I turn my back for a nanosecond and all hell breaks loose, the additional dog & cat that need to be fed/pet, what happens if, heaven forbid, I get a phone call, if the doorbell rings, the times when one of the babies is feeling cranky and wants to be held every. second. of. the. day. You get the idea.

Here's the thing... Is it fun some days? Yes. Is it miserable some days? Also, yes. Is it exhausting everyday? Totally, yes. Would I have it any differently? Um, some days, yes, yes, yes! I know I'm supposed to say no, but I'd be lying. Some days I'm dyiiiiing to trade lives with someone, anyone else.

But, this is where I am. This little tiny nook of the world is where I'm making my life, nurturing these children, growing my own spirit, subduing my little plot of earth. And over the past year, especially the past 6 months, I have been searching to make peace with that. To resist the temptation to long for what I don't have. To recognize what a privilege it is to mother my son, to care for these girls, even on the days when it feels more like a punishment. To live fully in the moment, to enjoy what I have while I have it. To be thankful for today, for ALL of today.

Once I heard a great talk on a passage from Jeremiah, and the focus of it was this verse:

"But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare." Jer. 29:7

It was kind of a 'grow where your planted' kind of talk, reminding us to be willing to fully give ourselves to the place we are in life, literally as well as metaphorically.  I read that verse the other day, and that talk just came flooding back to me.

Sometimes, stay-at-home-motherhood feels a bit like exile. It can be decidedly unglamorous. Repetitive. Thankless. Hidden.

It's constant companionship, yet still solitary. Still lonely. But, this little patch of life, these little bodies, little souls- they are my city. I pray on their behalf. I seek their welfare. And, in their welfare, I hope to find some of my own, too.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

How To Enjoy Your Food

How to Enjoy Your Food
by Henry David

Take big bites. The more you can fit in your mouth at once, the better it will taste.  In fact, if you can shove so much in there that you choke on it a little, that's even better! Your mom might look a little worried- just ignore her.

If you see other food in the kitchen that looks good to you, don't be afraid to say something! Point, squeal, screech! Whatever you do, don't give up, until you've gotten a bite or sip of what you want! Who cares if it's wine! Who cares if it's your mom's special secret stash of dark chocolate and reduced fat Wheat Thins! It doesn't even matter if you HATE it! 
The point is, and listen carefully to this: If you see it, YOU MUST TRY TO EAT IT!

Take the time to smear your food on every available surface. This will really bring out the flavors, and enhance your overall dining experience.
Now, don't limit yourself to the obvious- face, hands, bib, high chair tray, those are all fine, but a little passe. I really encourage you to consider some of these more unexpected options:
your hair
your ears
the dog's head as she passes by
the cat's tail as she passes by
reach behind you, smear food on the chair back and door
reach over your tray, pull off your socks, and smear it in your toes
if your Mom's attention lapses for the teeniest tiniest second, smear it in her hair! on her clothes! yes, yes, YES!!

Also, the best way to communicate that you are finished is to begin tossing food onto the floor. This will round out your meal and assist with digestion.

Happy Eating, Friends!