Monday, December 29, 2008

Growing Pains

There are some moments that catch you so off-guard as a parent that you don't know whether to laugh, cry, or wail. One of these moments happened last week, and I simply must blog about it for all posterity before I forget.

Abigail called me a name. And to my knowledge, it is the first time she has called anyone a name out of anger. Oh, it was a doozie, too. I know you are all dying to know what name could possibly have come out of her sweet little mouth, so I'll paint the picture for you. It almost ranks up there with Ralphie helping his dad change a tire in the Christmas Story, dropping the stuff in the snow, and saying "Oh, Fuuuuuuuudge." Yeah, that bad.

Last week, the night before Christmas Eve, we got iced in at our friend Sadee's house in Bloomington, IN. We had tried our hardest to make it home, but every road eventually got closed from slide-off wrecks, and we crashed there for the night. The night before this, Abigail was given a little token plastic ring from a "big" girl, Alicia, who is almost 13. I know....big stuff. This little ring looked like a big plastic jewel, and the top flipped open to reveal sparkly red lip gloss underneath.

I mean, she may as well have given her the keys to Cinderella's castle. A ring AND lip gloss? It's any girl's heaven.

Abigail proceeded to apply red, sparkly lip gloss at least 25 times that day, and usually would slowly drag her glossy finger diagnally down her chin afterwards, leaving a nice little trail of sparkles on her face. Finally, at Sadee's, it was time to get Abigail ready for bed, and I told her no more lip gloss. She immediately "hides" her hand on the opposite side of her face, trying to dig her little finger into the lip gloss and thinking I am either blind to notice or a pure dummy.

I told her no again, and she slid off my lap, down to the floor, and was still trying to "slyly" get her finger all lubed up for her mouth. Paul was watching the whole thing and says, "You've told her no enough times. Time to take it away."

So I bent over her on the floor, and grabbed the ring out of her hand. I told her that she didn't do what Mommy told her, it is time to put the lip gloss away, and that she can have it back in the morning.

Amazingly, she didn't give up without a fight. She started thrashing her body all around and crying and yada, yada, yada. I put the lip gloss ring in my suitcase and came back into the living room.

Abigail looked up at me with such a look of sorrow and disgust and said,

I simply did not know whether to laugh or cry. Well, I did laugh. I laughed while trying to cover it up, but I laughed. Paul laughed. Aaron laughed. We all tried to act like it wasn't funny, but it was. The rest of the conversation went like this:
Me: Did you just call me a Doo?
Abigail: Yes.
Me: What is a Doo?
Abigail: It's a bad thing.
Me: Well, that really hurt my feelings. You should never, ever call anyone a Doo.

And I truly hope she never does. It was so funny to hear her say a word that she thought would really hurt my feelings, but then when I took a minute to think about it, it kind of did hurt my feelings. Not the word, but the thought behind it. She was mad at me, and she wanted to say something that would hurt my feelings. I wasn't ready for her to figure that out....that words hurt. I know of all the words she could have called me, I am not too worried about Doo, but my heart is a little sad that my baby knows how to call names.
Even if that name is Doo.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Joy

The last few days have been a mixture of relaxation and whirlwind. I can't believe the huge month-long build-up to Christmas that is over in a day. It feels like there should be a winding down of sorts to hold on to it a little longer. Of course, we are very much looking forward to New Year's Eve with our Crusade friends, but then it will be back to the daily activities around the house. You know, laundry.

We did have some good Christmas highlights over the last few days. My attitude did improve by Christmas Eve night, after my little paella kitchen fit. We had a beautiful Christmas Eve service with music, the Lord's Supper, and candlelight. Paul and Abigail had diligently practiced 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, only to have Abigail turn into a little sensitive ball of emotion when she got up on stage. After realizing our little ray of sunshine was going to run off the stage and cry in my lap instead, Paul called up the kids from the church and they sat and listened to him tell the poem. Maybe next year....

Christmas morning, Abigail did indeed get her PINK sparkly belt from Santa. She decided about three days ago that she had changed her mind once again and wanted the pink one instead of the black one. Luckily, Santa had not yet made the order change over to the black one, so after testing her (ie bombarding her) with a million questions of "Are you SURE you want the PINK one?" and she affirmed, we gladly watched her open that sparkly goodness on Christmas morning. Since then, she has been non-stop walking the house in her sparkly ruby red play high heels, her sparkly pink belt, and pushing her new baby stroller that she also received. We like to call her "Hot Mama."

Christmas night, we went to see "Bedtime Stories" at the movies. It was okay, but not quite what I had expected it to be. Of course, true to form, Abigail cried when it was over because she gets pretty attached to movie excitement. Also, several people in the theater applauded the movie when it was over. Paul and I were looking at each other with raised eyebrows....not applause-worthy to us. However, if you choose to accept the movie review of a 3-year-old, and a theater full of kids and grandparents, then I guess you should go see it.

Yesterday we enjoyed Christmas with my family at my parents' house. My favorite gift I received was from my mom. Unbeknownst to me, she has been printing off all of my blogs since I started them in July. She printed them according to the mood of the blog, ie, princess story about Abigail is in pink ink, sad stories of miscarriage in black or blue. She put them all in a 3-ring binder for me and put pictures of our family on the front. I loved it. I love that she has been doing that all this time without me knowing. I love that I have my own "Blog Book" now. Now I really will have proof to pass on to my kids 30 years from now when blogs are probably obsolete. It was such a thoughtful gift.

Now Paul is watching a local basketball tournament, and will be until Tuesday. Abigail and I are still in our pjs (my new leopard print ones...rawr). She has been playing with all of her new baby doll accessories and watching Enchanted. I am deciding whether to shower before 5:00 tonight. What a weekend. I hope you all had, and maybe still are having, wonderful Christmases.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Amy the Hypocrite

The last couple of days have been pretty interesting for us, as we went down to southern IN on Monday night to stay with some friends at a cabin, and then got caught in the middle of the freezing rain on the way home yesterday. We made it 15 miles in four hours. After that small bit of insanity, we were blessed to get a phone call from our college friend, Sadee, who said we could crash at their house for the night and wait out the ice.

As we pulled into their driveway, we realized it was completely coated with ice. I was the first one out of the car and immediately started slip-slidin' away. But before I could slide far enough, the car that Paul had put in park and shut off started to roll backward down the driveway! I slid out of the way of the car, fell to my knees, and crawled to the grass. Paul got the car under control and parked it on the street. What a visual, I know.

We had a nice, cozy night with our friends, and then headed home today. Needless to say, getting home at noon on Christmas Eve was not exactly in our plans, but it worked fine. Also, I was starting to get that overwhelming feeling of "I need to be alone or I am about to turn ugly." Being in the car far too many hours does that to me.

We got home, I did some stuff around the house, and as I am trying to get the eggs out of the fridge to make my cinnamon pecans, our leftover paella from the other night (rice, oh yes), spilled all over the floor. And I screamed. Yes, folks, your dear Amy threw a fit right there in front of the fridge. I had had my fill. Unfortunately, as I am trying to scream and clean up paella at the same time, the lasagna started to spill out of the fridge. It stayed in it's container, though. Then, the sour cream container spilled out of the fridge. And my screams grew louder and uglier. Then, Abigail is yelling, "YOU CAN'T SCREAM!!" Then she is crying. It was a sight to behold, and it is all because I lost it.

It is hard for me to tell Abigail not to scream when she gets frustrated (which she does...often), if I lose my cool over some spilled rice. I told her how sorry I was that I screamed, and that I did it because I was frustrated. I said that it isn't pretty when I scream and I shouldn't do it. (For the record, I don't know if she has ever seen me "throw a fit") She told me she thought that the food hurt me. So we are sitting on the kitchen floor, laughing and crying all at the same time. What a day.

Paul took her upstairs to play hide 'n seek so I could collect myself. I think I just need some alone time. Some me and Jesus time, for sure. Some nap time. It has been a long couple of days. Here's to hoping that Christmas morning, I will wake up in the happiest of moods. :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Oh Yes, She's Three

For the last two years of being on myspace on Abigail's birthday, I was very timely with getting a mushy, gushy birthday blog written of all of the amazing ways she had changed that year and how she lights up my life. I think that happened because until now her birthday was on a weekday, and we always celebrated on the closest weekend, therefore leaving the day of her birthday free to stay in our jammies all morning and type blogs. However, yesterday was her birthday, and it was on a busy, busy Sunday. So instead of being in our jammies, we had our Christmas cantata at church in the morning, my parents stayed for lunch and cake and presents, Abigail went down for a late nap, Mommy ran to WalMart to buy a cheeseball, the children's program was last night at church, and a refreshment reception was afterward (hence, the need for the cheeseball), complete with a visit from Santa. It was a very eventful birthday indeed.

If I were to have written a post yesterday, maybe it would have looked something like this:

Dear Abigail,
You have talked all year about "When I turn 3" and now it is finally here. What a big day for you! On every birthday you have, I try to remember the day you were born, and the days leading up to it. It does get harder to remember each year, at least vividly. I used to remember how it felt the first time I held you, the first time I nursed you, the first time I dressed you, the first time I changed your diaper. I guess it is a good thing we have pictures of those moments, because the memories aren't as fresh as they used to be. I think they are not as fresh because you are doing so much now, and I have brand-new memories of you almost on a daily basis!

You are getting more and more independent, wanting to do everything on your own, in your own timing. Sometimes this can be frustrating when we have places to go, but sometimes it is very rewarding, like watching you get dressed completely by yourself the other day, even putting on tights! Tights can be tough sometimes, and you just patiently worked away until you got them on. Daddy and I don't get to hold you nearly as much as we used to because you are always on the go. But I love that any time you trip, or if Cammie runs away from you, or you get hurt in any way, you come running to me, wanting me to hold you. Of course, I don't like that you get hurt, but I love those little moments to hold you in my arms, even if it is just to kiss it and make it better before you are off and running again.

You talk....a lot. I am always amazed at how early you began talking and how much you have to say. Things make sense to you that I don't think would normally make sense to someone your age. You figure things out, you tell stories, you sing beautiful songs. You are quite a ham, which makes me think you have a lot of your daddy's personality. But you are also gentle with your baby dolls and ultra-sensitive if you think you are getting laughed at (we are just laughing at what you said, not at you!). That is all your Mommy. I see so much of me as a little girl in you. I remember those feelings.

You are getting quite a sense of style, although it is not always appropriate for the situation. You often want to wear your swimsuit (even in December). You like anything that twirls and twirls and twirls. You compliment ladies all the time on their jewelry, their shoes, their can just see them perk up a little when you do that. You often will wear your fairy wings, your bridal veil, your tutu, and your necklaces and bracelets...and now your new ruby slippers...and look so beautiful. I must have known that when you were a year old, and we were shopping at Target that you were going to have good style. You would grab the sleeves of shirts as we passed by and say, "Oooh, toooot." Meaning, "Ooooh, cute." What a woman. You are girl to your very core.

I love to see you at Cubbies at church. You are learning new Bible verses and songs. You always remember who you learned about in Sunday School, so I know you really listened to your teacher. You pray for your friends. I know that you are growing to know and love Jesus more every day. That is the most that your Daddy and I could want for you.

Your daddy loves to make videos of you. It is probably one of his favorite pasttimes. I guess I will post the one that seems to encompass the whole of you the best. I love you, sweet baby. Remember that you are a big girl, but I always say, "But your mama's....." and you say, "Baby." Yes, you are.

And since that one only goes through your first two years, here is one more about you and Daddy:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Family Tree

Last Spring, I read something in a magazine from our church that I have pondered off and on for months. It was about your spiritual family tree. It said that just as your biological family tree makes you much of who you are, genetically and physically, and how you are nurtured into cultural and family norms, your spiritual family tree makes you into who you are on your journey with God. As someone who was raised in a Christian (just so you know, I started to type Christian, and accidentally typed Christmas....hmmmmm) family, and brought up actively involved in our church, I know that my spiritual family may be quite extensive compared to someone who came to Christ at a later age in life. In fact, I am sure that there are many, possibly hundreds, of people who I may not even remember by name who played some small scene in my life of teaching me about Jesus.

After all, there are my Sunday School teachers throughout my whole life. There were my church camp counselors (I mean, besides the cute twin guys who were there because their dad was camp director). There were friends from church, and maybe my contact with them was through watching them make chili with my mom in the church kitchen for a chili supper, or watching them stand with my dad at the front of the church to pass out the Lord's Supper. There were pastors over the years, at a few different churches. There were all of my Campus Crusade friends, whose impact on me was probably greater as a whole than anyone else. There is my husband. Many people have been a thread in my life, or a piece of my puzzle, who make me into a picture of who Amy is at 30 years old. And many more will join that picture to help me become Amy at 40, 50, 60, 70....112. :) Honestly, I love people, but I do hope I am with Jesus before I am 112. I have no aspirations to be the oldest living person on earth.

Here are some people I could think of...some by name, some by role. Only a small portion of the greater story.

My parents, of course. My mom and dad shaped me as a child. They took me to church, leading by example. They were active in their church, and it was always a part of who we were as a family. My dad taught us about tithing. I still can see him studying his Sunday School lessons to teach his class. My mom taught about serving in the church, through her actions. She served in the kitchen all of the time. Now that I see ladies at our church serve in the kitchen, I realize what a big, and often thankless, job it is. I saw her love her friends and the kids. The led me to know who Jesus was, and to ask Him into my heart at 8 years old. The foundation they laid early on for me helps me to see Jesus as my firm foundation now.

My Grandma Hathaway. I never had a very close relationship with my grandma. She lost my grandpa when I was in 3rd grade, and was often in ailing health after that. I grew up dreading going to the nursing home to see her, mostly because I didn't like nursing homes. I felt I never knew what to talk to her about. I wish now that I had talked about God with her. I know that my parents became believers largely to Grandma's unfailing prayers for them. Dad always said Grandma would have made a good nun. Of course, that could probably be said of most people who lived through the Great Depression, but I know it would have been true of her, too. As I grow older, I see so much need in the world around me, and such less need for myself. I hope to be as selfless as she was.

Barb, my minister's wife. I have known Barb all my life from the church I grew up in. She is my mom's best friend. I always was comfortable to be around her, and even remember giving her style tips when I was in, probably, fourth grade. However, I have felt Barb's influence in my life the greatest since becoming a pastor's wife myself. I have thought many times of how I remembered her acting and handling things. She was a wonderful example to me of a pastor's wife who was loving and very much loved. I have met with her a couple of times since we moved to our church, and have seen her not only as my mom's friend, but also as mine. Her impact in my life has been a quiet, steady example of how to love your church family.

My college girlfriends. Well, my college friends from Crusade in general belong in this category, but especially my girls. College was probably the first time when my faith became living and active to me. I had always known what I believed as a Christ-follower, but I was challenged to walk it daily at ISU. My girlfriends were, and still very much are, an active presence of prayer, encouragement, accountability, and love to me. I am amazed that I have called them my friends for ten years now. Through them, I learned to lead a Bible study, to lead younger women, to pray for each other and expect answers, and to hold one another accountable in love. They are friends like nothing I have ever experienced...lifelong.

My Charlotte. Someday I will repost my blog from myspace called "Everyone Needs a Charlotte." I met Charlotte when we moved to Muncie for our BCM work. God has used this lady in countless ways in my life. She is such a great listener and encouragement to God's work in and through me. She asks the simple question, "Why do you think that is?" and makes me think about things with fresh eyes. She is probably the closest balance I have had between mentor and friend. Watching her own close communication with God, praying and leaning on Him for things that I so often take for granted, has been a huge lesson to me. She takes her faith very seriously, as we all should, and makes me want to be more serious about my own. Plus, she can throw a mean party at her house. You leave feeling full in your stomach and your heart.

My new friends! The families in my church, my new girlfriends, my Sunday School class. They have taught me repeatedly how much God loves us and wants to bless us through our church. As Paul and I have faced one of our toughest years in marriage over the last year, our church family has continually loved and cared for our needs. They are generous beyond what we could ask or imagine. I think they are a beautiful picture of the body of Christ....yes, as a body, we are imperfect in many ways, but we do work together. I know that our church needed us for this season of the church, but I know that we needed them, maybe more. We needed them to have people who had experienced cancer in their parents, who had experienced multiple miscarriages, who had experienced things that we don't even know. And through their experiences, they related to us and cared for us in a deeper way.

Of course there are more. My best friends, my other pastors, my BCM students, my friends in ministry, my friends from Paul's seminary time. Even people I have never met, like speakers I have heard at conferences or ladies who have taught Bible studies on video have impacted the way I see my walk with God. My spiritual family tree is fruitful, and for that, I am deeply thankful.

What about you? Who are some of yours?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I don't know at what point of motherhood that you start thinking like your child. I'm sure it is quite necessary, though, or else you may find yourself in some messes. Here is my example. I got two flower arrangements yesterday for my birthday. One was a vase of three beautiful roses from my mom and dad. I always wait in scared anticipation of when my cat will think it necessary to try the tasty flower add-ins that accompany the roses. Usually she just goes for baby's breath, though, and I think florists are getting smart about excluding baby's breath. It is a recipe for disaster. The other was a tiny, sweet flower arrangement of Christmas greenery and carnations from some friends at church. It is about the cutest little flower arrangement I have ever received. It is in a little ceramic pot and oh, it is cute.

I put both arrangements on my kitchen table. This beats the top of the bookcase where I used to have to put them out of the way of the cat. So, the baby arrangement sheds evergreen needles a little bit. Abigail has figured this is the perfect-sized arrangement for her to play bride with, and has carried it several places around the house, leaving little needles behind in a trail. The top of the kitchen table had a little pile of needles from where the flowers had started their journey.

As I sat here on the computer this morning, I heard a lot of commotion in the kitchen. I asked Abigail what she was doing, and the conversation went as follows:
Me, in the office: Abigail, what are you doing?
Abigail, in the kitchen: I'm gonna sweep this grass off the table.
I jump to my feet, realizing that "sweep this grass off the table" does not mean hold one hand at the edge of the table and use the other hand in a sweeping motion to push them off.

It means get out the big broom. Stand on a chair. And the table.

Good thing I reached her in time.

Monday, December 15, 2008

My Big Weekend...#1

This past weekend was an exciting one from start to finish. Some was celebrating friends, some was celebrating Christmas, some was celebrating my birthday (which is TODAY!), some was celebrating Abigail's birthday (which is the 21st). It was a party-hardy, celebratory, exciting weekend, and I loved every minute of it.

Friday, we drove up to Muncie to visit our friends where we used to live. We just happened to be there the night of their church association's Christmas party, and they were nice enough to invite us along. So, Abigail got to hang out with her peeps (meaning, 4 years old and under), and we got to hang out with ours. It was a great time with the best gift exchange of all the parties we have been to. They are just a little more ruthless with the gift-stealing, and if one thing makes a Christmas shin-dig fun, it's ruthless, heartless gift-nabbing. We spent the night at my dear friend Charlotte's house (and Kerry!) and had a nice, late-night talk. I always feel like my time with her is so short....Charlotte, if you are reading this, which I know you are, maybe some time we can come up and we'll have nothing else planned except to sit at your kitchen table and talk until the wee hours of the morning. Maybe....someday. I just need a little more Charlotte.

Saturday, we went to Indianapolis to my friend Jennifer's house. My college Crusade girlfriends got together to bake cookies. When Abigail and I walked through the front door, they were all waiting there with a little birthday cake, singing Happy Birthday to me. When I saw Abigail's big eyes watching them, I mouthed "She thinks this is for her, too", so they were quick to add in "Amy and Abigail" to the song. We went to Panera Bread for lunch and, oh, I just love, love, love girl time. While I baked cookies with my homies, Paul and Abigail went to have a nice visit with his mom.

After I met back up with them, Paul, Abigail, and I went to the IMAX theater to see The Polar Express in 3-D for Abigail's birthday. It was A. Maze. Ing. If there was ever a movie that I thought was made with the sole purpose of making it into a 3-D movie, it's this one. Abigail kept her glasses on through the whole thing (BIG girl), and danced in her seat during all the songs, especially "Hot Chocolate" and "The Polar Express". It was so sweet to see her reach out her hands to try to catch the snowflakes, as they really looked like they were falling right in front of your eyes. There was one part when the train comes to a screeching halt, and looks like it stops just about an inch from your nose. I think she really had a great time at it, so it was every bit the awesome birthday fun we hoped it would be for her.

Well, so now I am in that remembrance mode. Remembering my 20s. I have not had any problems over turning 30, except for a little bit of blues when I went to bed last night. It hit me that it was my last night of being in my 20s, and it was a really great decade. But woo and hoo, now I am 30. I did about every beauty treatment on myself I could think of this morning, just to make sure I was getting a jump start on Father Time. Also, remembering three years ago, the week leading up to Abigail's birth. It is something special that our birthdays are only six days apart. Now I can remember things like that I had a doctor appoinment on my birthday, and Paul and I ate at Cracker Barrel for lunch afterward. And that I spent that last week nesting like crazy, as we had moved into a new house two months earlier, and I felt I had to get every picture hung on the wall before she came. Little did I know that new babies sleep 20 hours a day, and I would have had plenty of time.

I was putting Abigail down for her nap yesterday afternoon, and I picked her up and she was so stinkin' big in my arms. I held her up in front of the mirror and said, "How in the world did you ever fit in my belly?" Then I proceeded to sway in circles with her, singing "Sunrise, Sunset."

Is this the little girl I carried?
Is this the little boy at play?
I don't remember growing older

Yeah, that was totally me yesterday. And for every six day span between our birthdays for the rest of my life.
Thanks to all who made my weekend so sweet and special! I feel very loved...and I still have my big birthday weekend with Paul left to go!

On the long car ride, Abigail caught up on her reading. Notice it's about raising a nice kid.

Abigail playing with the village under Kerry and Charlotte's tree.

Just us birthday girls with our cake.

Outside the IMAX.

3-D glasses are a lot more fashionable than they used to be. For clowns.

Paul insisted on showing off the popcorn in his mouth. Ew.

This is what we all felt like when we got home. She posed well for this one, didn't she?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Princess and the Belt

Yesterday, we had a topsy-turvy day of Christmas shopping. My friend Angie thought she could get a lot more shopping done without her little guy (one-year-old) along for the ride. I don't know why she thought that...don't we all get so much more accomplished with toddlers in tow? We worked out a trade-off. She shopped in the morning while I watched her son, then we met up for lunch, then she took Abigail for me in the afternoon so I could shop alone. Before Abigail went home with Angie, though, she and I had an errand to run.

My friend Alison is getting married in September, and Abigail gets to be flower girl. She's gonna be great at this before she even starts school. Alison had set aside a flower girl dress at the bridal store for Abigail to try on. After lunch, she and I went down to the store, and well, this dress is really beautiful. It is a nice lavender color and has lace and is floor-length. Abigail's eyes just got so wide as she saw herself in it, and she twirled and twirled and twirled. The lady at the shop kept saying she needed to look at the seam inside to see how it could be altered. Then Abigail would say, "Just one more dance." And she would twirl and twirl and twirl some more.

Then, OH THEN, her little eyes did spy on the shelf by the mirror the most perfect little shoes. They were little girls shoes, although probably were about two sizes too big for her feet. They were open toe and were kind of like a clear jelly shoe with glitter, but "dressier." To Abigail, they WERE Cinderella's glass slippers. She tried them on, despite me telling her that they were for bigger girls. To her, they fit just fine, and went perfectly with the dress. Oh, and her purple socks she was wearing went perfectly with them. :)

Honestly, I don't know if being a lover of all things princess-y is a matter or nature or nurture. I'm sure we have done enough of "Ohhhh, you look like such a princess" to her that she has been nurtured quite well into this girly fantasy-land. But you know what? She has only seen, to my knowledge, Enchanted. We don't own any Disney princess movies. Paul has looked up some of their songs on Youtube..."Once Upon a Dream"? Anyone? My favorite! So she has seen some of the clips from the movies. This love for princesses, though, I guess has just come from learning their faces on the millions of products on the market. One of my favorite games to play when we go to Walmart is "What is the craziest item you can find with either Disney Princesses or Hannah Montana on it?" To which my current answer is a Hannah Montana fishing pole. Yes, a real, live fishing pole, made for catching fish. So girls and Daddy's can go on fishing trips together and have the best of both worlds. Pun intended.

There is no two ways around it, though. The girl is a princess-loving wanna-be. She is about as girly as they come, and she is guaranteed to want to play either Princesses, Wedding, or Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz at any given moment.

When we were leaving the bridal shop, the lady working there asked Abigail if she had written Santa a letter or talked to him. Abigail said she had talked to him. And the conversation went about like this:
Me: Tell her what you asked Santa to bring you.
Abigail: A belt.
Lady: Ohhhhhhhh. A belt.
Me: A pink sparkly belt.
Abigail: (emphatically) NO, a BLACK sparkly one.
Me: (knowing that Santa already dropped a pink sparkly belt in the top of Daddy's closet) No, you asked Santa for a PINK sparkly belt.
Abigail: No, I didn't. I wanted the black one.

So, we go out to the car and I'm strapping her in her seat.
Me: I'm pretty sure you asked Santa to bring you a pink sparkly belt. So what if he brings you a pink one since that is what you asked for? Would that be okay?
Abigail: No, I just want the black one.
Me: But the pink one is so pretty and goes with more of your outfits.
Abigail: No thanks. I just want the black one.

Okay, so I don't think that she was going overboard to tell Santa she wanted a belt that costs 7.50 from the Children's Place. It is a pretty modest gift. But now I have some quick communicating to do with Santa, and see if we can exchange the pink one for a black one. She will either be thinking Santa wasn't a very good listener, or we may be in for a melt-down on Christmas morning.

Of course, I'm pretty excited that she'll see this on Christmas morning (which we got for the low price of 20 bucks) and probably not really care all that much about the belt.

For those keeping score from my previous post about four gifts for Christmas, she is getting:
One thing you can wear (a velour jogging suit...4 bucks!)
One thing you can read (a book Paul bought for her)
One thing that you want (baby doll stuff)
One for those in need (two shoeboxes of gifts for two kids in our community. One of the girls is her age, so she will help pick out the gifts for the little girl)

And, the belt from Santa. Hopefully black and sparkly just like she (claims she) asked for.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Two Months Later

Okay, so in the midst of all of the holiday goodness and cheer, I have to be a downer for about five minutes. Then I will go back to "ho-ho-ho-ing".

It has been almost two months since my miscarriage. I think, honestly, that I am doing pretty well. I really don't even think about it very much. I had those first few weeks of a lot of thinking, crying, healing, but now I feel like I am ready to move forward.

A few years ago, I was reading the blog of a girl named Kelly who works for Campus Crusade. Her husband had died of a brain tumor. She was left, in her early 30s, to raise two very young boys as a widow. One of her blogs stood out to me for something she said, several months after her husband's death. She said that people ask her sometimes when she will feel ready to move on. And she says that she will never move on. Never. That there may be a day when she feels ready to move forward, but that is different than moving on. Moving on assumes that you put that part of your life behind you, like you tied it up with a neat little ribbon and put it on the shelf. Moving forward means more that you will not forget who you were then, what you experienced, what God taught you. You move forward in what you have learned and how you changed because of it.

Now, trust me, I am NOT comparing my miscarriage to this sweet lady's husband dying. I don't think it is nearly the same in any respect. But I do think that anyone who has lost something special to them, someone they loved, even if just for a short time, can understand moving forward as a changed person.

That being said, I do feel like I am doing my best to be happy for other pregnant people. Because I am happy for them and the life inside of them. I think I just feel little twinges of jealousy that I didn't get to have that. There is a girl I see on a weekly basis at a business meeting I go to. She and I were due one day apart. One day. When she announced to everyone at our meeting that she was six weeks pregnant, with such joy, I thought in my head, Man, I'm six weeks pregnant. I wish I could say it, too. But we were still holding out on telling people after having my previous miscarriage.

For four weeks, I saw her at our meeting, knowing that I had a baby that was growing right along side of hers, time-wise, and it was "our secret." Then, she was gone sick the week that we announced that I was pregnant. She missed our news. I don't know if she ever heard the news, because four days later I began to miscarry.

So now I see her every week. Every Monday, I see her show up in a cute new maternity top with a belly that is slightly bigger than it was the week before. Somehow I feel that someone must have told her I had been pregnant and then miscarried, because she is very "gentle" with talking about pregnancy around me. Maybe it is how I interpret it, but I think that she only talks about it with me if I bring it she's feeling, her doctor appointments, etc. I always wonder if she knows, or if she finds it strange that I never have to ask her how many weeks she is. I know that this is week 19. I know that you usually get your ultrasound around 20 weeks to find out the sex of the baby. I would have been 20 weeks on my 30th birthday, and I had thought what a neat birthday gift it would have been to find out the sex of my baby for my birthday.

I don't have to ask her how far along she is, because the weeks are still marked in my calendar. I can look at any given Monday and know exactly where my friend is in her journey. I am excited for her and how happy she is. Really, I am. But there is a part of me that just holds back. I really do want to be able to gush over her cute new top or her belly popping out...I want to have that excitement for her. And there is nothing about that baby in her that I am jealous of or mad about. I just wish I had the same.

I was not planning at this point to still be in the "trying" mode. I was expecting to be half-way through. I can fully accept that this was the way it was supposed to happen, and I really do think that it is okay. My babies are with Jesus, and I can say that with a shrug of "I don't understand, but it's okay"...not with the tears I used to say it with. Paul and I are moving forward. I am ready to be pregnant whenever God allows it to happen. I don't feel any need to wait. And I surely don't mean to seem like big sour grapes toward anyone else experiencing the joy of pregnancy. I guess that is just where I am...most Monday nights as I see her walk in the room, most Tuesday mornings as I think "I wish I could just let it go."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Something to Look Forward To

December always seems like the pinnacle of a year to me. I know calendar-wise, it is. It's the culmination of everything that happened that year. I'm glad that the year ends with Christmas and New Year's Eve. It feels like at the end of any year, good or bad, there should be lots of celebrating. This week is bound to be a busy one for me for several reasons....I say as the week is already in it's latter parts. My friend Angie and I painted my living room yesterday, I've facilitated two Bible studies (filling in for my poor friend Luellen with pneumonia...BOOO), and I'm just starting a three night string of Christmas parties. I love how everyone thinks December is such a busy month, so they decide to front-load it and put all of the Christmas parties during the first week. All that gives you is one really busy week.

Anyway, I thought I would list the things that I am looking forward to this month. For some reason, a list makes me think that I am organized. And a list of things to be excited about is a pretty fun list to make!

1. Christmas cards. We have yet to do the cute picture cards that I love to receive and plaster all over my refrigerator. I do the "Year in Review" card and include a few pictures on it. I love looking back over the year and making it into a concise 1-2 page letter. Just to let you know, I'm not big on Christmas cards that you just sign your name to. If you are going to pay postage to send them all out, include a picture or a letter. Go big or go home.

2. Christmas parties. Yes, I am looking forward to the next three nights, though they will be busy. I like the eating of the food and the exchanging of the gifts. I like that around here, people actually spend 5-10 bucks on a gift, and don't do the "White Elephant" tradition of finding something musty and old from your attic or your basement and re-gifting. Yes, it makes for some good laughs, but you know it just ends up in the trash when the person gets home. Parties are festive and fun, and I enjoy them thoroughly.

3. My birthday. I may have mentioned it one or 43 times, but I am turning 30 on the 15th. It's kind of a big deal to me, and I'm actually looking forward to it. Yes, sad to wave the 20s good-bye, but it's no big deal. Man, a lot happened in my 20s. I wonder if my 30s will be quite so eventful....finishing college, getting engaged, getting married, moving three times, having a baby, getting a cat. Pretty special stuff. Especially the cat. (Hey, she's a good cat!)

4. Abigail's birthday. She'll be the big 3. She's been talking about it since she turned the big 2. I guess turning 2 was uneventful for her, because everything all year has been "When I'm 3, I'll ______________." And it's anything from "boinging big on the couch" to "going down, down, down in the swimming pool" to "sleeping in a big girl bed." Sounds pretty exciting to me. We plan to take her to Indianapolis to see the Polar Express in 3-D at the Imax theater. When you ask her what she wants for her birthday, she says "to see the Polar Express on the big movie screen." And she shall have it.

5. Cookie-baking with my girls. My college girlfriends are getting together to bake cookies. It will be fun. There will be laughter. There may be crying. There will be cookie dough.

6. Celebrating my birthday with Paul. We are still ironing out the plans, but we are going on a getaway. It will be wonderful because Paul is wonderful and he is really, really good at birthdays.

7. Christmas Eve with my family. Yes, Christmas with my family is a big deal, too, but Christmas Eve is bigger. We eat every wonderful food known to man. Things with shrimp or crab. And there is always lots and lots of cheese. There is no such thing as too much cheese, especially during the holidays.

8. New Year's Eve. We have celebrated New Year's Eve with our Campus Crusade friends every year for the past, well, probably 10. We go to Karen and Trevor's house and we have food and Bible study and stay up late. It is so fun and my favorite way to bring the year to a close.

I'm sure there is more. You know sometimes it is just the little things in December...telling your child it is snowing outside and seeing her excitement as she runs to the window, watching Elf or Muppet Christmas Carol or The Christmas Story and drinking hot chocolate, bopping around the store as "Walkin' in a Winter Wonderland" plays overhead, pointing out the Christmas lights you see everywhere you go. I love it. In spite of the busy-ness of it all. In spite of the way you just want to crash and hibernate in January. I love it all.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

It Sounded Real

As I sit here on the computer, checking email, Facebook, and such, Abigail is playing so nicely in her room. I can hear her chatting away with her babies, playing out scenes in her doll house, and having a generally all-around good time.

The crazy thing is, she has gotten really good at realistic-sounding play phone conversations. She was using one of her several toy phones to have a talk with someone. Breaking my concentration on email-reading, I could hear her saying, "Uh-huh. Uh-huh. (pause) (pause) No, I don't think so. (Pause) Uh-huh. Yes. (pause) Okay, I'll see you later. Buh-bye."

It sounded so real, I had to stop and think for a minute who she was talking to. She has taken the dramatic pause to a level that says she has overheard many phone conversations. From the sound of it, maybe I am a better listener than I thought I was.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Oh, Man

Is it just me, or is it possible to watch this video without getting tears in your eyes? Maybe it's just me.

Maybe it is the words to the song. Maybe it is Lauryn Hill in the choir, who will always be one of my greatest musical loves. Maybe it is the high note of confidence at the end. Maybe it is Kathy Najimy in a nun's habit. Man, I love this movie.

Two Loves

Last year for Christmas, Abigail got her first real baby doll. She was a Cabbage Patch newborn, so she was the perfect size for Abigail's toddler arms. Plus, she smelled strongly, perfectly, of baby powder. The scent has faded over the last year, but it is still there when you hold her closely and inhale deeply. Her name is Baby Haley. She always is both names, not just "Haley."

My parents got her for Abigail, or maybe it was Santa. I know who picked her out very carefully, but I don't remember whose name was on the tag. They spent the night at our house Christmas Eve, and we all got the joy of seeing Abigail get up Christmas morning. It was probably the first time she really started to "get" Christmas morning. She and Memaw had made cookies with sprinkles for Santa the night before. When Paul carried her out of her room, she looked down by the tree and saw a perfect little baby asleep in a little wooden cradle. She yelled "A BABY DOLL!" and literally would have jumped straight out of Paul's arms if he had not set her wriggly body down. She loved her immediately, as any good mother does, from the first time she laid eyes on her.

Baby Haley has slept with Abigail every night since December 25, 2007, with the exception of a couple of nights she was accidentally left behind at Memaw and Papa's house. Abigail is faithful to give her bottles and change her diaper when we can find it. Baby Haley has been a wonderful first baby doll to Abigail. Abigail has been a wonderful mommy to Baby Haley.

Until Thanksgiving, 2008, that is.

My mom suggested that I go down to the basement at their house and pull out the boxes labeled "Amy's stuffed animals." We didn't save every toy from my childhood, but we did save two boxes worth of dolls and stuffed animals. Oh, and all the Strawberry Shortcake dolls which mom had already sent home with Abigail this summer. Mom was remembering a Pound Puppy I had named Wrinkles....we thought anyway....Wrinkles ended up being a different dog than our memories served. So I went down to search for Wrinkles.

I pulled out many forgotten little creatures from my childhood days. They were there, in some of the deepest corners of my mind. I remember my little dog, Nipper, that was given to me the night before I had my tonsels removed in first grade. He stayed by my side through the whole surgery. I remember a Little Red Riding Hood doll, who was just plain awesome. One end of her was Little Red. When you flipped her over and pulled the dress over her head, the other end of her bore the face of the grandmother on one side and the Big Bad Wolf on the other. I remembered Wrinkles, the big gray puppet dog and the brown Pound Puppy who we thought was named Wrinkles.

There were four Cabbage Patch Kids. Sasha, who was my first with brown pig tails. Terri Noel, who was a newborn with a tuft of blond yarn hair, but a much bigger newborn than Abigail's Baby Haley. And another girl with brown pig tails who I don't remember at all. And there was my brother's, named Terrence, who we loved to tease him about. A lot of boys had Cabbage Patch Kids back in their hay day, though, right? We decided to wash them all, as I was pretty sure at some point in the last 20 years of storage, a mouse or six might have taken up a little residence down there in the basement with them. I figured if they fall apart, well, they are over 20 years old, and I can still have my fuzzy memories. If they don't fall apart, Abigail can have several new babies to play house with.

I introduced Abigail to Baby Terri Noel, who looks like a bigger, blonder version of Baby Haley. She took to her immediately. She brought her home and has slept with her the last two nights. Yesterday morning, she handed Baby Haley off to me, saying I could take care of her. Gasp! Was she really going to toss Baby Haley aside so quickly now that a new baby had worked her way into Abigail's arms?

Yes. I think she was.

I told her that she could love both babies, and that Baby Haley would still need hugs and kisses and loves. Paul explained to her that when a mommy gets a new baby in her house, she doesn't stop loving the first one. She can love them both. Abigail held out her arm with a sigh, as if to say, "Ugh, fine. Give her here." I guess within the first few days of a new baby in the home, one has to take priority in her mind. Later in the day, I said, "It's okay. I guess I'll just take care of Baby Haley and give her hugs and loves and kisses since you won't."

To this, Abigail screamed "NO!" and grabbed Baby Haley away from me. "I'll take care of her."

And she has. Today, she played nicely with both babies. She hugged them both, kissed them both, loved them both. Maybe this will work. Maybe I shoudln't be so sensitive over which doll she plays with. But there is something special about your first doll, right? I just didn't want to see her replaced to quickly. A mom CAN love two babies, right?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

My Mom's Idea

Do you ever have those moments as a mother when you realize your mom really did know what she was doing? I have always loved that my mom stayed home with us growing up and have aspired to be such a mommy to Abigail. But my mom had an idea she should have patented twenty-five years ago. Because I'm pretty sure she thought it up first. I was there, I would know.

When I was nursery school, Mom tells me, I had grown quite the little Miss Independent attitude. I wanted to choose my own clothes, whether they were weather-appropriate or not. I wanted to eat only certain foods, probably cheesy hot dogs or something. Basically, I was like any other five-year-old headstrong kid. My mom said she always felt exhausted at the end of the day, like all she had done was scold and discipline me and Jason, my older brother. Then she would peek in on us while we were sleeping, and realize what little angels we truly were. In our sleep only, of course.

So, in her desperation to enjoy her kids and not scold them all the time....I totally understand this feeling with Abigail....she came up with an idea.

And Tiny the Elf was born.

Tiny the Elf is one of Santa's little helpers. But unlike Santa, we get to hear from Tiny ALL December and not just on Christmas day. Tiny was talked up a lot at our house, but we never saw him. We knew he was watching us, though, and reporting back to Santa whether we were making good choices or bad choices. It wasn't just his report to Santa that straightened us up, though. It was the notes he left us all month. I would wake up in the morning to a note on my bedside table. Or I would go out to breakfast to find a note next to my cereal bowl. Or there would be a note on top of my shoes. The notes from Tiny were always positive and pointing out all of the good choices he had seen me make.

If I helped my mom pick out a pretty Christmas dress at the store and was a good shopping buddy, Tiny heard. If I ate my green beans at dinner, Tiny noticed. If I chose to wear jeans and a sweater to nursery school on that cold December day instead of my swimsuit, Tiny saw. If I went to bed without arguing, Tiny complimented me. They were simple little notes, usually hand-written on a note card.....I didn't recognize the hand-writing yet. And I LOVED knowing that Tiny noticed all of the good things I was choosing to do. I loved it so much, I kept all of his notes to me in a scrapbook to this day.

See? My mom was a genius. IS a genius. :) And now some lady came up with a thing called Elf on a Shelf. Same idea....Elf in the house, and he's watching you. My mom should have patented Tiny. She did get a little porcelain elf for me last year, though, to use for just this occasion.

Last night, I pulled out Tiny the Elf. We never actually had a "physical" Tiny to see when I was little. We just talked about him, and he would leave notes while we were sleeping. But having a little elf figurine works well, too. We talked about Tiny to Abigail, and that he would be watching her all month to see if she was making good choices or bad choices. She straightened up and smiled just talking about him. I told her he would be leaving her notes when he saw her make good choices. Then we walked into her room, and wouldn't you know it? Tiny the elf was sitting on her bookshelf. I said that he was watching her, and that he would be moving around the house, so she would have to keep an eye out for him. So far, it is working like a charm.

It worked for me for at least 20 years. I plan on using it exhaustively. Feel free to use Tiny to keep a little order and positive attitude at your house, too. Because my poor mom didn't patent him, so he is free to hire out.

Oh, and having a December birthday when I was little made Tiny visit my birthday party, too. I had a slumber party in 2nd grade, and Tiny wrote notes for all of the girls there. Then my mom got phone calls then next day from parents wanting to know who Tiny was and why her daughter was crying because Tiny didn't come to her house, too. So, heads up, friends. You may want to share Tiny with the world so that you don't have crying kids and parents upset with you.

Abigail has been making very good choices all day, from eating extra bites of her soup at lunch to going down for her nap with barely a whimper.....barely. Tiny works, people. That is a Christmas freebie from me. I love you, genius.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Tightening the Reins

I know that many of you are probably much more organized than me, and have your Christmas shopping almost done, or maybe have been done for a long time now. I usually start thinking of my list around Thanksgiving, and then will gradually do my shopping over the next few weeks, with a last-minute sprint a few days before Christmas. I could say I work best under pressure, but I'm sure I could also just chalk it up to a majorly phlegmatic personality-type (meaning, slooooow to start).

Each year as Abigail gets older, I find myself asking "How much is too much?" Or even "Is one too little?" Last year, Paul and I decided to get Abigail one present. Really, just one. Well, her birthday is four days before Christmas, so we got her one birthday present, an electronic pink keyboard, and we got her one present for Christmas, a flip-out Disney Princess couch. We figured at two years old, she had not yet gotten into the commercialization of Christmas, and we would not appear Scrooge-y.

Saturday, Abigail and I went to run a couple of errands. I had to pick up something from a friend who works at the mall, so while we were there, we did a little "window shopping." We went into the Children's Place, and she immediately took to some sparkly pink and silver belts on the back wall. She tried them all on, with quite a bit of flair, and asked with each one, "Can I have this?" We do our best to not indulge her frequently with such questions, so I explained to her that she could start making a list of things that she would like for Christmas. I then told her that Santa would bring her one special gift just from him, and Mommy and Daddy would get her other gifts. Then I started to worry that, even at not-quite 3 years old, she was starting to want too much. But will we stick with the one-present rule? I guess I kind of figured we would find one "nicer" gift, and then get some little things like books or crayons or something.

My friend Theresa gets their four kids three gifts each. She tells them that Jesus got three gifts, and they don't need any more than what Jesus got.....which I think is a pretty cute response. I used to work with a girl in Muncie who came from a family of, like, eight kids or something. Her mom used this little ditty when Christmas shopping, which I love:
Something to wear,
Something to read,
Something you want,
Something you need.
That way each kid knew they would get four gifts (maybe plus one from Santa?). As a mom, of course, I love to buy clothes for Abigail, but I know that clothes do not top most kids' lists. So, that would cover one item of clothing. A book always makes a nice gift ("What Snowmen Do at Night" is a great winter story if you were wondering). They they could choose one thing they really "want." And the need....well, that could be new underwear or another shirt. It could be new Princess sheets for her toddler bed. It could be a lot of things.

Last year I told this little poem to Paul, and his reaction was "Four gifts? She doesn't need four gifts!!". I guess for a two year old who doesn't know any better, no, she didn't need four gifts. And "need" is very relative of a term. No, she doesn't "need" four gifts. But no kid needs any of the 48 things that they see on commercials and ask for either. I kind of think four gifts sets the limit ahead of time, and they can be much more selective of what they want.

What about you? Did your parents have some sort of guideline for buying you gifts as a kid? Do you have guidelines for how you buy? I could use suggestions! I want to set the standard early. It can be hard to explain what gifts Santa brings, too. My parents always "allowed Santa" to bring my brother and me one gift apiece. But my friend Angi's parents "allowed" ALL of her presents to be from Santa and they "didn't get her any!" So when I would go to her house, I would be confused why Santa brought so many to Angi and only one to me. It's a tough, Christmas-y world out there. I could use all the help I can get.

Edited to add: I discussed this with Paul tonight, and told him again about the little poem and how much I like it as kind of a guideline. He made a change that I like very much. He wants us to instill in Abigail early that just as she gets gifts at Christmas, she needs to give too. So, we are going to have our little poem go like this:
One thing you can wear,
One thing you can read,
One thing that you want,
One for those in need.
Then we will help her choose something each year to give. It can be picking out a gift for Toys for Tots, or for a baby at the Baptist Children's Home in southern IL. It might be giving some money to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering to help send missionaries out into the world to tell about Jesus. It might be some diapers or a baby blanket for the Crisis Pregnancy center in our area. Oh, you know the ideas are endless. But I am excited that we can start teaching her early on that giving is a part of Christmas, and that she can help!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Lessons from a Flu Shot

Once again today, I saw such a simple picture of my own faith and walk with God played out in Abigail's words. I woke her up this morning to rush, as usual, to get dressed and make it to our appointment for both of our flu shots at the doctor's office. I had talked with her last night about getting one, so she had already had at least one night of possibly unsettled sleep preparing for the impending prick in her leg.

Up until this point, any shot has been an easy shot. She has had all of her regular vaccinations, and I didn't really have to prepare her for what was going to happen. She was blissfully unaware of what a "shot" was, so there was really no point in explaining ahead of time. We would go in, she would get the stick in the gorgeous little fat rolls on her legs, and we would call it a day. She would always let out a cry of pain as she got the shot, but it would be over quickly once she realized there was a treat such as a sticker or sucker on the other side.

I think she has started to understand shots more recently since I had my miscarriage. I have had to go to the doctor more than enough times to have blood drawn out of my arm. Since I don't really want to explain "drawing blood" to her, she would show great concern when I came home with a band-aid on my arm and I would just tell her I got a shot. Then she started incorporating "giving shots" in her play time. She would come up with a pen or something and ask Paul or me if she could give us a shot. We'd say yes, and then playfully say "Ouch!" when she gave it to us. Unfortunately, that playful "ouch" has been gradually stored up in her little noggin as record of "Oh, now I need to remember that shots hurt."

So this morning I was getting her dressed and she kept saying in her sleepy, whiny voice "I don't waaaaant a flu shot." I didn't bother to tell her that I didn't either. I just kept thinking of ideas to make it not so bad.

"Maybe you could hold Baby Hayley, or the nurse could even give her a shot first", I would suggest.

"But I don't waaaaant a flu shot."

"Maybe you could watch me go first to see it's no big deal."

"But I don't waaaaaant a flu shot."

"Oh, but you need to know why flu shots are important. They help fight off germs in your body. Because if you get the flu, you get really, really sick and throw up and get a fever and feel so bad. A flu shot will help you stay well."

"But......." Well, you know the rest.

"Oh, and you can get a sucker from the nurse after you are done."

"Oh. Well, I just want the sucker. I don't want the shot."

Well, la de da. Don't we all just want the sucker and not the shot? Don't we all want the sweet reward, and wish we could skip whatever painful thing we have to go through first? I do. I know that God takes me through trials for my good. I know He leads me places I don't want to go, knowing that it will strengthen me.

Romans 5:3-5
Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.

I'm not sure Abigail, or myself for that matter, were feeling like rejoicing in our suffering when that needle was being stuck in our skin. But the pain only lasted for a moment. Really, it did. She got her sucker, and I had the true satisfaction of telling my daughter how brave she was. She may not understand that she just endured pain to keep her well, to make her body stronger. I'm not sure I even get that, at least in the spiritual sense. But I know that when a season of sickness hits, we have been strengthened.

When we were headed home, I told Abigail we needed to go by the church to do something. She said, "No, I just want us to go home, sit on the couch, and be brave." Would you look at that? Sounds like someone developed a little "character."

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Trip with my Family

There are certain perks to being married to a pastor. While we don't usually save up money for a big family vacation to anywhere, as there are always about 104 other ways we can spend our money (hello....bills? Cat declawed? TV bit the dust last week?), we do get the opportunity to take little trips known as a "conference." Or "convention." Or "annual meeting." So, there are two times a year that I know we will be getting at least a two-day trip somewhere as a family. We are so blessed that when Paul has to go somewhere on "church business", Abigail and I are usually allowed to tag along.

In June, it is the annual big Southern Baptist Convention. This past June, it was in Indianapolis, which is the closest it ever gets to home. Next summer will be Louisville, KY, and I think maybe Texas or something the year after that. It is four days, and along with getting to stay at a hotel, which Abigail thinks is THE coolest thing in the world, we get to eat out and go do something fun...outside of the voting in the largest business meeting ever, I mean. Because that's really fun. Just to make that clear.

So this last time, we took Abigail to the zoo. I'm not sure if she liked it more or if Paul and I did, but it was pretty great seeing those dolphins swim overhead. It was not so great getting all hyped up to see the koala bear exhibit that was only there for a limited time, only to find out that koala bears sleep 22 hours a day with their furry little faces buried in their chests. So we got to see koala bear backside, which, really, they could have stayed over in Australia for that excitement.

This week, we went to Springfield for the annual meeting of the IL Baptist State Association. Springfield itself is not so exciting of a town, unless, of course, you have a true appreciation for all things Abraham Lincoln. In that case, you might go into excitement overload and spontaneously combust. We, along with Paul's best friend Jimmy, went to the Lincoln museum. We had gone last year, too, but just like seeing something through the eyes of your kid for the first time, seeing the Lincoln museum through Jimmy's eyes was pretty fun, too. As far as museums go, it is honestly about the coolest one I have ever been to. I don't think any kid would leave disappointed if their class went on a field trip there. It is very interactive and touching and gives a whole new look at Abraham Lincoln's life and presidency. Last year they had a special exhibit on how crazy Mary Todd Lincoln was. Really. A whole exhibit on her insanity. Pretty interesting. That was fun, though, to see that again this year with someone new. And now, to go along with her recognition of Barack Obama, Joe Biden, John McCain, Sarah Palin, and Barney Frank (just kidding...she doesn't really know Barney Frank), Abigail has great new love for Abraham Lincoln. And spending two days in Springfield allowed her to see his picture pretty much everywhere.
We swam at the hotel, we ate out, and we went to the annual meeting, which was really pretty cool. It was a chance to hear what God is doing in churches around our state and vote on trivial things, like the wording of the IBSA constitution. You'll be glad to know that no fights broke out (which is more than I can say for some of the big SBC meetings). :)

And when we returned home yesterday, I had locked us out of the house and got to shimmy on my back under the garage door to let us in. A great cap-off to a family get-away. Then I tried to crawl in a hole in our house somewhere for an hour or so, because after any extended time away with their family, who doesn't need some good alone time? I'm much more refreshed for having it.

Now I get to look forward to the big SBC meeting next summer in Louisville. Since this is where Paul and I got to spend our first year of marriage while he was in seminary, our special time with Abigail will consist of a guided tour of....."Look, Abigail! That is the ghetto apartment where your daddy and I started out!" and "This is the half-hour drive in traffic we took to the seminary each morning!" and "This is all of this really cool city we never experienced because we were flat-broke!" Aw, the sweet, sweet memories. I guess that is another blog all to itself.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Scrapbooks and Music

Yesterday I had the pleasure, or anxiety-attack, of entering into the scrapbooking world. I have been asking my friend Angie to help me for a while with making an Abigail album. Up until now, we have been very organized with pictures of Abigail on our computer, keeping folders for each month of her first two years, and then about every six months after that. I figured since she is coming up on that magical number three, it was about time I got those pictures off the computer and into an album of some sort. The problem with me and scrapbooking (or most other crafty projects) is this...I have delusions of grandeur. I get really excited about a project and go at it full-boar with the buying of the necessities and the organizing of the pictures. And that is where it stops. I have yet to make a wedding album for me and Paul. I have yet to finish the album I started for him when we were engaged of his mission trips to Indonesia and Morocco. He has been to Indonesia two more times since that album was started, which only adds to the mounting panic attack of never getting it finished. I have yet to finish the album I was going to make for my friends Allan and April as a wedding gift, and now they have been married a mere eight years.

I have not really been concerned with my lack of follow-through up to this point. I have been satisfied in my decision to be a non-scrapbooker. But now that all of these special pictures and moments have been accumulating for over six years, I feel that something has to be done about it. I don't want to take the chance of our hard-drive crashing and not recovering what was lost. I don't want to take the chance of forgetting. I already forget how Abigail looked as a newborn and how it felt to fall asleep with her in my arms. It's amazing the memories that are really just fleeting. I want to get them into some semblance of an organized book before those moments are too far gone, just pictures stuck in our My Documents folder.

Also, I have wanted to make a small album for the baby we lost. Nothing big or fancy. I can't even choose cute pink or blue paper to adorn it with. But I had three ultrasound pictures of a baby, and what are you to do with that? I need to remember these moments...the relief I felt when I saw that little blinking heartbeat on the screen, the life that was there, even if for a short time. I want to keep the cards, the blogs I have written, the Bible verses that ministered to my heart, the pictures of us next to our little tree.

So yesterday, Angie and I headed to Hobby Lobby, the mecca of all things crafty. Hobby Lobby is usually bad news for someone like me, a fair-weather crafter. Because I see ALL there is to choose from, and I then decide on about eight new crafts that I would like to start tomorrow. Luckily, that was why I had Angie...a true scrapbooker to reel me in and help me choose only the necessities. We picked a beautiful big album and paper for Abigail's first three years, complete with all the little girl sayings. My personal favorite? "Here we see ten little toes, neatly arranged in two little rows." Who thinks of that sugary goodness? We also chose one small black album with a black and white ribbon tying it together for the baby. It had a small picture cut-out on the front where I slipped one of the ultrasound pictures into. It looked perfect there, that grainy black and white picture of a little bean of a baby centered perfectly on the front of a tasteful little album.

Now shows my true colors. How much will I want to make this Abigail album? Will I work on it or stick it away in a closet until it is time for her wedding and I suddenly have to make 32 meaningful, tear-jerking gifts? That is another place where Angie is smart. She told me just to get the album and the paper. She has all of the decorative scissors, pens and markers, stickers, and hoo-ha that go into a fancy album. We are making a "play date" for the kids to play and me to bring this mess of memories over to her house. I guess I can't stand up a date, can I?

As for music, I have been twittering around the house this morning doing laundry, washing dishes, catching up on email, and such. Twittering makes it sound so much more fun than it really is. To make the jobs even more fun, I have been listening to music on my computer that I just adore. Dave Barnes, Matt Wertz, Ross King....all the guys with a guitar or a piano. That is the only music I really love. The less produced, the better. I just like a guy singing about his Jesus or his girlfriend. It makes the laundry go so much more smoothly, and the twittering to abound. :)

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


I have often found throughout my adult life a hard time articulating my thoughts on politics. I do feel that I am married to one of the most politically-interested men I have ever met. He LOVES politics. He adores it. It makes his heart beat faster. It makes his passions stronger. He is in the minority of truly political folks who starts watching the coverage from the word "go" of primaries, and faithfully studies the issues until the votes have been cast. I love being married to a man who loves politics. Because I don't, frankly, love it myself. But seeing his understanding of it makes me love it more. There are three things, outside of understanding God's word, that my husband just easily "gets" in life....three things that make sense to him, three things that he can see through...politics, advertising, and professional wrestling. Oh my, does he get professional wrestling.

Although I have had a hard time being able to often "hold my own" in a political conversation, I know the issues that matter to me. I know that I am completely comfortable with being a single-issue voter. I know that voting for a candidate or party that will stand by and stand up for the rights of the unborn is a deal-breaker for me, and I will not apologize for that. It doesn't mean that the other issues don't matter, because they do. But speaking on behalf of those who cannot speak for themselves is the duty of any American. It justifies many of the things we do in the name of freedom and democracy.

I didn't realize what my feelings would be over this election, and I will be the last person to blog about my own political stances. But I do know that I watched John McCain concede last night, so gracefully, so genuinely, with tears in my eyes. Never before have I cared enough about an election. But this one mattered on so many levels. To me, it isn't just about "my candidate" not winning. It is about a man being elected to office who has not stood up for the unborn child. He has not used the power and authority granted to him to take care of those who cannot speak from the womb.

I guess I will not write this whole blog now. What is done is done, and I will respect the office of President, no matter who is sitting in the seat. I will pray for him to use his authority in a way that will honor God. My hope is in Jesus Christ, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Only He is the One who does not change in Himself, but can bring about more change than we could ever imagine.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Maybe Not My Greatest Fear...

but it definitely is on my high-priority list. Nothing strikes fear into the heart of a mother like knowing there is a sippy cup lost somewhere in the corners of the house, and not knowing if milk was the last thing you put into it. Because if you have ever, with much trepidation, opened a sippy cup that had even been left out overnight with a touch of milk in the bottom, you understand what a truly foul and disgusting smell is.

And if you have ever found a sippy cup that had been lost, unknowingly, rolled under a crib with old apple juice and had sat and fermented for days on end, you also know that some things are lost causes, and it is better to just throw it in the trash than try to clean it.

So, no matter what the drink inside is, I have fear right now, people. Fear that there is an impending very bad smell lurking somewhere in my house. It doesn't smell yet, but it will. Oh, it will.

Edited to add: Found lost sippy cup today under the couch. Good thing, too, since I had just bought this pretty purple one a few weeks ago....our newest addition to the sippy family. Praise God, it just had apple juice inside, and after only 24 hours, apple juice is not too bad. I can save this one, folks, I can save it.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Looking back, October had to be one of the most emotionally and physically hard months to experience, yet in a lot of ways it was a good month, too. Let's look at a few of the good things, shall we?

1. Fall leaves. The are at their finest in mid-October. It is absolutely my favorite time of year, and they were truly breathtaking.

2. Covered Bridge Festival. After not having gone in about four years, I got to go TWICE this year. I got cute little primitive signs for my house. One I am especially looking forward to putting one by my front door of two snowmen that says, "Baby, it's cold outside!". Not that I'm rushing the snow or anything....And I got to experience the best-tasting big, soft pretzel at the festival that I have ever had in my life. No exaggeration. I've craved one ever since.

3. Persimmon pudding. I made some the morning I started to miscarry. I took some to a friend and some to my dad that day for his birthday (hoping for a less eventful birthday for my dad next year!). I think persimmon pudding might be a regional thing, but it is delicious and warm and spicy like nutmeg and cinnamon. Topped with whipped cream, it is one of my favorite desserts.

4. Voting. We opted to vote early to avoid any crazy long lines on Tuesday. Abigail got a sample voting sheet and went into the booth all by herself (well, with Mommy holding her up to the counter to color in her circles). She wanted Obama and Palin. Obviously, we didn't make party lines clear enough to her. But Paul's finger clearly pointed to the McCain/Palin circle for her to color, and she was happy to do it. But ever since she has asked if we voted for Biden.

5. Blogging. I have had more reason than ever to blog this month, and it has been incredibly healing for me. I don't know that I always will post so much, unless it becomes a paid gig. :) But it has served my heart well this month.

6. Jack o'lantern. He was cute. He was a fun family experience. He was in the trash a week before Halloween. We'll know to wait til later in the month next year.

7. Abigail as a bride. She was beautiful. We went trick-or-treating last night, and she marched right up to every house with not a stitch of fear or shyness. She knocked and said "Trick or Treat". At one house there were three high school aged girls passing out candy on the front porch. After Abigail took her candy, they said, "Peace out" to which she replied, "Take a hike." Yeah, her Daddy taught her that one, but we forgot to teach her not to say it to strangers. Usually it goes in this order as he taught her..."Word, Dog. Peace out. Take a hike. Word to your mutha."

8. Halloween candy. I have already eaten three Kit Kats for breakfast. Fun-sized, of course. :)

9. Pastor Appreciation Month. October is officially that month. Maybe one more thing made up by Hallmark or a Christian bookstore somewhere. But it makes a happy month here! Our loving church family took up a love offering for us to show appreciation to Paul. And my wonderful husband is pretty much using most of it to show appreciation to me! He let me use some to go shopping for some much-needed fall and winter clothes. We got caught up on all our bills. And he set aside a chunk of it to take me out for my 30th birthday in December...we are going to spend the night in Indy and go to see either A Christmas Carol or It's a Wonderful Life at the repertory theater. I can't wait! Oh, and 70 bucks of the money is going to get our cat declawed. It's long overdue. I don't think she will feel very appreciated come Tuesday.

10. Lots of family and friend time. Let's face it. It's been a pretty awful month in some respects. I have been surrounded by so many friends and family. I have felt the heart of God loving me through all of you. I have not felt alone in any of this. My God is a loving and awesome God...I will praise Him no matter what.

Here's a few pics of our month:

Family at the Covered Bridge, Bridgeton, IN

The aforementioned, Best Pretzel Ever

Our sweet little tree

One proud first-time voter

She took this privilege very seriously!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Promotion

I just want to take a minute to promote my friend's photography. Hilary has been one of my dearest friends since elementary school, and has been taking pictures at least since then. I remember all of her photography entries at the 4-H Fair, and she usually one the biggest, bluest ribbons. Well, now she gets to make a business of it!
If you know anyone in the area who is having a wedding, a baby, or any other special moment to take a picture of, consider calling this lady! Her pictures are so gorgeous, and I just know you will be happy with the results.
Click on on my blog list on the left to see some of her pretty pics!

In Her Sparkly Glory

Monday, October 27, 2008

Everywhere were Princesses

We had quite the eventful weekend...pretty much everywhere BUT in the parsonage. Sometimes the sweetest moments happen at home. Sometimes they happen everywhere else.

Friday night, Abigail and I abandoned Paul to go to my mom's house. Dad was away on an Emmaus Walk retreat this weekend, so Mom had three nights all by her lonesome at home (I think she kept pretty busy, too). So, we went to her house, armed with our pjs and "Enchanted" on VHS, because between my mom and me, we have no clue how to work a DVD player. Sad, I know. We immediately got into our jammies and Mom made these super-yummy crab cakes and we introduced my mom to the world of Giselle. Who, if you have not seen Enchanted, is the princess. And Abigail would pick her hands-down over any Disney princess any day of the week. Which, technically, she IS a Disney princess, since Enchanted is a Disney movie, but we've yet to see her face on 712 random things at WalMart, so I guess she hasn't been invited into the club yet. Abigail managed to stay up until midnight somehow, because we all three slept in Mom's bed, and like a dog circling around to find a good spot, Abigail has to jump, crawl, roll and such for two and half solid hours before her little body gives out on her. That is not a usual bedtime for her, before any child protective services are called.

When we left Paul at home that night, he was getting dressed to participate in our town's haunted house. The room he was going to be in was a Haunted Prom theme, with ghouls in a graveyard dancing in torn and bloody prom attire. Paul got to be "Disc Shockey", the prom's DJ, and his artery in his neck was severed by a CD. And he was wearing lipstick. He said he made a little girl cry, which usually would make you feel pretty bad, but I guess in a haunted house, it gives quite the feeling of accomplishment.

During the day on Saturday, Mom, Abigail, and I went to visit my grandpa for his birthday. His 94th birthday. No two ways around it, a 94th birthday is pretty awesome.

Then that night, we got Abigail dressed in her Halloween finery for the Frolic on the square. She still remembers being in the halloween parade and costume contest last year, and has for an entire year called the square "Halloween." Paul says even a broken clock gets the right time twice a day. I guess if she calls it Halloween long enough, eventually she will be right again. She dressed as the prettiest little bride. Hey, we had to get some more use out of that white flower girl dress somehow! She looked beautiful, but lost the contest to a kid in an aquarium and a girl made out of cotton candy. Pretty just doesn't beat original, I guess.

After church yesterday, we headed over to the big city of Terre Haute for Paul's dad's symphonietta concert. They played show tunes, and we had a front-row seat. Abigail especially sat up straight and focused for the two ladies who sang "Night and Day", "You'll Never Walk Alone", and "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina."

Because she has a true appreciation for Broadway music.

Or because they were wearing sparkly ballgowns, and she called them Princesses. And even better was when a troupe of ballerinas came out to dance a waltz. About ten seconds into the dance, Abigail said, "I want to be a ballerina." So maybe princesses aren't all that they are cracked up to be.

It was an exciting weekend. Monday always seems a little bit of a let-down. But I think Paul is taking us girls out to lunch, so that is something to look forward to, for sure. I wonder if there will be any princesses there....

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Insights from the Mat

This is a post I have been thinking about for a while, cultivating the thoughts and words in my head. Although there are many scriptures that I love to read and draw comfort from, there are two, well, maybe three stories in the Bible that I find myself relating most to. Maybe you could say they are my tried and true favorites.

First would be the story of Lazarus being raised from the dead in John 11. I'm sure we can all think of ways, even today as you sit reading this, when God didn't act according to "your" timing. You thought He would do things one way, and at least for a while, you were disappointed that He didn't do things the way you thought He would. I love reading Jesus' words to His disappointed and doubting friends..."Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?" I have heard more sermons and studied more of this chapter (in Sunday School) in the last six months that I probably have in my lifetime.

But I'm not going to talk about Lazarus.

Also, I really love, love, love the story of Mary and Martha preparing for Jesus to come visit. Martha is twittering around the kitchen, probably slamming around the pots and pans and sighing pointedly as she feels like her sister is leaving all of the hard work up to her. But there sits Mary, as the feet of Jesus, listening to all He has to say. And she chose what was better by far, and it could not be taken away from her.

But I'm not going to talk about Mary and Martha.

Last spring at a retreat, I heard what was probably one of the best messages on Mark chapter 2 that I have ever heard. It resonated in me then, and I had not even experienced all that we have had happen in the last year. In Mark 2, Jesus is speaking at a house in town, and it is wall to wall with people who have come to hear him....literally, packed and overflowing. There was a man who was a paralytic who wanted to get to Jesus. I don't know what his faith was expecting...a healing touch, comforting words, just a glimpse of this man called "Messiah." He was put on a mat and four of his friends carried him, probably miles and miles, to this house. Once they got there, they realized there was no way of getting inside. Some would have given up, turned around, and gone home. Some may have sat down outside the house and waited for Jesus to come to talk to them outside. But not these friends.

After carrying the dead weight of their paralyzed friend all the way to the house, they continued to carry him up the outside stairs to the roof. The roofs in this day were flat, and considered a place to "hang out"...kind of the front porch of our day. Despite how tired they were from their trip, they got down on their hands and knees and started digging through the roof. I guess as I have read this in the past and read that they "made an opening" in the roof, I picture them getting out some handy saw or power tool of some sort to cut a neat little window in the roof. Not possible here. This roof was made of mud, dirt, straw. It was dirty. And these four friends were getting dirty in it, probably clawing away an opening with their bare hands and desperation for their friend.

Once they made an opening, they lowered him down. Can you imagine being there inside the house listening to Jesus? Maybe you were a lucky one to get a good spot right in front of him, or even lucky enough to sit in a window and catch a fresh breeze as he spoke. Either way, there is no room for moving with all of the people there. And then, you look up and see the roof starting to cave a little. Dirt and dust start falling on your head. And then, well, somebody better move, because there is a grown man being lowered on top of you.

And Jesus notices. He notices the faith of the friends to go to that extent to bring their friend to Jesus. And he notices the faith of the man to allow his crazy friends to do what they just did. He notices....and he acts. He heals the man, first of his sins, and then of his paralysis. He heals the man's sins first, knowing that until that happens, none of the other acts will be noticed or appreciated for the miracle they are. He heals the mans sins because the paralysis of his heart is greater than the paralysis of his legs. He heals the mans sins first, and then so the people in the house would truly "see" and believe, Jesus heals the man's legs. Because sometimes we need that much of a visual to understand what Jesus is truly doing.

I love this story, because even though I have heard it many times throughout my life, I have realized that sometimes I am one of the four friends. Sometimes I am carrying one of my friends or loved ones to Jesus, tired, weary, and desperately doing anything to get them in front of Him. To get them "seen." Sometimes we have to get down in the dirt with our friends, right where they are, and get dirty with them in an all-out attempt to help them see the face of the Savior.

But sometimes, I am the person on the mat. Sometimes I am being carried when my strength is gone. When my will would not matter on it's own, because it is so weary. There are those times when I can only look up from my jostling mat as it is carried, grateful that there are people who love me so much to make that trip. Grateful that people care enough to get dirty for me. I know that there are the times when my mind and my heart want to get to Jesus, but the road is long, and my legs don't work like they should. And so, I am carried.

I am grateful most of all for my Jesus, who sees me being lowered down, distracting so many from His sermon, likely stopping Him mid-sentence, and He stops to stoop down and see me. He knows that I would gladly jump up and hug Him if I could, but sometimes the healing I need is more than even I realize. I need Him to heal my heart first. Once that is done, I can gratefully appreciate when He heals all the rest of me.