Sunday, February 23, 2014

Nesting

I've been stressing a little this week.

It's very hard to sit and write this post, and not just because there is a 5 year old talking loudly in my ear about his favorite pencil that he lost (again), or the almost 3 year old climbing on my back asking me what's on my bagel.

I already had to get up and get them bagels of their own, even though they are already had cereal and apples when they woke up.

But it's not just them. Or the mommy guilt from not giving them every second of my attention, when it never seems like it's enough.

It's the drawers that need to be organized. The dusty corners underneath this computer desk. The baby clothes that have now been separated into their appropriate sizes but need to be placed in their appropriately labeled bins.

Yesterday we had to leave the house altogether and go to the zoo just so I could just enjoy the kids for a little while without feverishly working on a house that will never seem ready.
We had a wonderful time, and I felt great all day, which was a welcome relief.

The urgency of a due date in a little over 2 months is trying to supersede the important.
Every day I feel larger and more awkward and more helpless. I am more irritable with the boys because their unpredictable movements terrify me. Especially the bigger one whose large head also happens to be exactly the same height as my unprotected stomach, and whose movements are much more disorganized than the younger.

And then there are days like Friday in which I spend all day with very short but pretty painful and very pressured contractions as long as I am on my feet. I had them with The Dude too, the last trimester, though this seems slightly earlier. Having seen that it didn't cause me to go into labor any sooner I'm not terribly worried about that, but it does get exhausting and makes accomplishing anything feel pretty impossible.

This is a hard and stressful time at work for JT too as they prepare for the season to start. He can't get any weekends off, and even when he is scheduled off, that can change in an instant. For the second year in a row we had to change The Dude's upcoming birthday party next week, at the last minute, to an evening party so that Daddy can actually come.

I've been feeling anxious, and out of control, which of course is easy to blame on the hormones but doesn't really count as an excuse.

And then it hit me. Of course! I'm nesting.

And there is a reason and a benefit to this hormonal rush of preparation.  A mad dash to gather sticks and leaves and feathers and prepare a place, in the corner of our home and the center of our hearts for a new life. And why is this so important now? So that when he comes, we can just sit with him for a while. Not that the laundry will magically cease or the crumbs in the corner will clean themselves, but they won't matter as much then. What will matter in a few months is bringing food to my little hatchling when he is at his most helpless. Knowing that I have prepared as comfortable a space for his transition into this crazy life as possible. It's worth it.

I've been struggling through Numbers. I made it through Leviticus and managed to stay focused, but in my recent restlessness, getting through Numbers has been more difficult, especially when there is a sticky face in front of mine every time I take a deep breath.

But a word that keeps coming back to me from the end of Leviticus during my days is this: "I will send you such a blessing in the 6th year that the land will yield enough for 3 years." Why? So that during that 7th year, there can truly be rest. Not so that the 6th year's produce can be hoarded and multiplied and the feverish pace can continue. But to prepare for rest.
The 6th year, with 3x the harvest, would be a busy year. It would be 3x the work. And it would be worth it in that 7th year, when preparations had been made and a time of rest and worship and thankfulness and celebration could commence.

And so I am trying to remember this, as for the 2nd time, The Dude emerges from diapers. As he learns, in a long and tedious fashion, to fall asleep by himself. As Aquaman discovers that he has to slow down a little around his temporarily physically disabled mother (one of my coworkers recently told me: "all I could think when I was pregnant, was this is not a natural state!" I couldn't agree more).

Trying not to think or worry too much about tomorrow. When there are 3 little mouths to feed, one day less of income, and preschool tuition to pay. Remembering how God has provided, and how He will provide. Struggling to discern what pieces of nesting are actually important, and which ones just feel urgent.

I think we have finally decided on our name for our new addition. I fell in love with it one night, before I even got pregnant, when reading the Jesus Storybook Bible to Aquaman one night, though making it official once we were actually pregnant was harder.. The story goes: "The Israelites thought they knew what God was about to do, but they didn't. Of course, they might have picked up a clue from ___ name, which means: "Help is here."

Help is here. Every time I read that story to Aquaman, a blanket of peace covers me, warms me. We don't have to do this on our own. We're not supposed to. And when we think we've blown it, that things are falling apart, God sends someone to tell us: "Help is here."

I can't wait to meet him.
And I'm glad for a few more months to get ready for him.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Anything Like Me


This week's blog post is going to have consist primarily of a video montage I created a couple days ago: mainly because it was a spur of the moment decision: heard the song on the radio, suddenly wanted to put it to pictures, did, while both kids screamed for my attention. Oh, and the laundry piled up on the couch. So yesterday I dealt with the house and gave the kids a bit more attention. And today...well I don't know what today will hold. But I hope it holds a trip to the beach, a lot of story reading, and hopefully a few minutes to start sorting baby clothes...

This week 3rd trimester has hit. That little window where pregnancy is wonderful seems to have eluded me. There's no room in my stomach anymore so I am mostly nauseous all the time. Exhausted, but hard to sleep since I have to pee every hour and my back hurts. Mostly just feeling incredibly awkward, and bit helpless, when down on the floor with 2 little boys. I miss my agility. Thank goodness pregnancy is a short term disability. The list of things to do pile up higher and higher every day, and I only make a dent in them. Knowing how busy things will be when a 3rd child arrives makes me a little panicky. Then I remember that for me, having a newborn is easier than being pregnant. My energy and nursing hormones spur me on. Not to mention the incredible joy of getting to know the new little person in our family.

It won't be without its bumps. I was reminded of Aquaman's initial hatred for his little brother this week at bedtime when The Dude announced: "I want to take that baby out of your tummy and throw it in the trash can!" Then again, I think I'll be less offended by that this time. These days, they're best friends. And who could blame Aquaman for hating the tiny little intruder that couldn't interact in any way but took everyone's attention from him?

This week my maternity leave and return to work after the leave on an even-more-part-time basis was finalized. I will officially return to work only 2 days a week after this little guy comes. I am intensely relieved, and also slightly terrified. But I know it is the right thing. Early in my pregnancy, trying to figure out how we would deal with childcare, my immediate thought was that 2 days a week would be the easiest way to work it out. I didn't even mention it to JT though because I wasn't sure how he would react. But sure enough, a couple weeks later, he came home from work and announced that he thought the best thing to do when the baby comes is for me to work only 2 days a week. There is nothing quite like the peace of confirmation. 

And so here we are. The day after Valentine's Day. JT's parents signed up to keep both boys overnight last night so we could have a date, and true to our style, we got Panera take out and a Redbox and stayed home. It was lovely. We had full conversations, we took our time, and when our DVD player wouldn't work, we both looked at each other and asked if the other wanted to just go to bed. Then we looked at the clock: 7:45 pm. And then we went to bed. It was heavenly.

This morning it was back to reality. JT rushing out the door at 6:15 to be at a seasonal lifeguard training session. Me taking the dog out for a walk and cleaning up poop off he floor. Then, I took a shower, came back downstairs....and cleaned more poop off the floor.

Ahhh, life (and it is a good thing we have tile). 

So, without further ado, here is the video I made this week: 
















I love you, JT. I love our boys. I hope every one of them turns out just like you. The world will be a better place for it.





Thursday, February 6, 2014

Tuesday Night


For all those who might think a dual income family life is glamorous: enter Tuesday night.

I am fortunate enough to only work 3 days a week. In my imagination, going back to full-time would be something like having Tuesday night pretty much every day of the week. I shudder at the thought. Some people do it. Some are even made to do it. It's doubtful that very many people do it well.

First, imagine that work is currently a nightmare. You've been there 8 years, and there have been minor changes along the way. But in the past few months, insurance authorizations have been contracted out, the way you bill providers has completely changed, and you have begun transitioning to an online medical record, but absolutely NO preparations have actually been made to perform this transition, so instead you had to learn the new system, teach the new system to your providers, and perform all the same work you have always done. While the patients get less quality care and the providers complain. Loudly.

Needless to say, meetings now involve more than just the regular cat fights: there are actual tears. And if you have a question for your boss, chances are she is nowhere to be found, because she is either in a meeting being told something the opposite of what she was told in yesterday's meeting, or she is hiding somewhere because she is tired of telling everyone she doesn't have any answers to their questions.

The only time you can find her is when she shows up at your office door to ask what you are going to do about your clinics when you are on maternity leave. You want to tell her that you don't care. You will be staring at your newborn baby's wrinkly knees for 8 weeks straight and not thinking for one single moment about what is happening at work. You have more sense than to do that., so you begin communicating with your providers about cancelling at least the first month's clinic, and wondering if anyone will notice the baby in a Moby wrap if you bring him to the next month's.

You remember reading somewhere that the 3rd child is a woman's career killer, and you silently cheer to yourself. You start counting down the days until he comes.

Tuesday night starts with a 1 hour commute home, once you have picked up both kids from their respective locations. In your case, at least the pickups are somewhat pleasant: an opportunity to see parents and inlaws, picking up happy children, etc. You have been on the other end of it. You have picked up a child who spent all day holding back tears because he was too sensitive for the environment in which he was thrown, and burst into tears every time you went out the door. That was a new kind of torture you refused to endure.

 But still, it's not without its hiccups. First of all, your children don't want to come with you, and who can blame them? Your toys, food, and level of attention can never quite match up with the grandparents'. And no young boys that you've ever met actually enjoy getting strapped down into car seats.

Once you finally make it home, there are no less than 20 bags/backpacks/shoes/toys to carry in. The kindergartner has removed all of his take home work from his folder to show off while in the car so that has to be carried in separately, except for the piece that flew out of the window that the 2 year old opened, which caused the 5 year old to cry. Loudly. You don't have a driveway because you live in a townhouse, so somehow all of these bags have to wrangled in while also steering two children away from traffic. It's best to get it all in at once, because if you have to return, they'll follow you out the door and you'll have to repeat the whole process again.

 And heaven forbid if there's a puddle, and The two year old catches sight of it. He becomes like a surfer when there's epic waves: Can't.Think.About.Anything.Else. Also, heaven forbid if you ask the 5 year old to carry in more than just his backpack, or *gasp*, help you open the gate. He will cry. Loudly. It's easier to just do it yourself.

Once inside the courtyard, you latch the gate, ignore The 2 year old's screams, watch the 5 year old wrestle dramatically with the door handle while refusing to set down his backpack, and heave a sigh of relief as you then throw everything into a pile onto the kitchen floor.

You have a Braxton Hicks contraction that is surprisingly strong, and you wonder how many thousands more of those you will have in the next 13 weeks.

You were sure you left the dishwasher running so they'd be clean when you left this morning, but they're still covered in grime, and you guess you just forgot, like all the other things you forgot today.
That seems like an insurmountable problem until your husband returns from walking the dog and takes the boys out to the garage with bleach and gloves to clean up poop. You don't ask.

You start the dishwasher and throw all of the days' dirty dishes into the sink and it's now full. And dinner making hasn't even started yet.
When you look into the cabinet for that quick-weeknight-meal-life-saver: a jar of spaghetti sauce, you realize that though you were sure you did: you never bought any. So you dump some onions and garlic and spices and diced tomatoes and a can of clams into a pot and hope for the best. You don't really care anyway.

While you're making the fruit and spinach smoothie that tastes so healthy no one is going to eat it, the boys return from their adventure in the garage smelling strongly of bleach. The 2 year old gives you a big hug with poop gloves on. You hear that the dog has had explosive, watery diarrhea all over the garage and it is basically impossible to clean up. The floor of the garage remains covered in poop, with a fine layer of bleach over it. It will probably need to be cleaned again, and then burned. At least your husband, who cleaned up previous diarrhea inside the house at 5 am that same day when he was on his way to go swimming, had the foresight to put the dog in the garage while you were both at work- or the house would now be unlivable, and you would have to move.

Hubby and the older boy go upstairs for a shower, but the little one prefers to continue touching you with his poop hands. Because you have been gone all day, and because his smile and his touch are completely irresistible to your tired mommy heart- you let him.

There are two loads of clean laundry on the couch, the washer and dryer are full, and there is an ever growing pile of dirty clothes by the door.

You sit down to eat dinner. The boys lick the olive oil and salt off their whole wheat pasta, completely ignoring the edamame and smoothies, and then ask what's for dessert. You halfheartedly remind them of their fruits and vegetables, and then end up giving them a cookie later.

Homework time goes smoothly because the 5 year old's arch rival at school (who happens to be a head taller, and probably at least a year older) has recently begun completing all of his weekly homework in one night, and your son cannot be outdone. ( Never underestimate the power of male competition). He produces good quality kindergarten work, and finishes all of it with a huge smile on his face. Naked.
You feel very proud.
Husband turns on the television so that you can take a shower in peace. You are covered in sweat for some reason.

There are Legos and tools and matchbox cars everywhere. The floor badly needs vaccuuming, but you have to triage here, and making school lunch wins. The kitchen is still covered in dirty dishes because the morning ones are still washing.
You fold the laundry, but never get a chance to put it away.
Instead you put a chair on the couch and hope the dog doesn't have diarrhea all over the clean laundry.
You sit down and play Legos with the boys for a few moments hoping playing with them prior to story time will cause them to actually listen to the story.

Bible story time in bed, and the boys chatter and play while you're trying to read it. Then you sit between their beds (actually just mattresses on the floor) and hold their hands and pray for patience to enjoy those last few quiet moments. The 5 year old moves the floor fan so that it is directly in front of his bed and then throws off his blanket, declaring "I'm HOT" and then covers himself and cries "I'm COLD!" This goes on until you finally tell him, not so patiently, to knock it off and go to sleep. He does so immediately.

The 2 year old, who has had a nap, is a different story. He tries to kick the 5 year old in the face and then pass it off as an accident. He wants to use your 28 week belly as a pillow. It hurts. He keeps asking "but why, mommy?" and you're not sure what he's asking why about. He doesn't know either, but it makes him furious that you don't. You tell him to lay down 50 times, and the 50th time he finally falls asleep.

By this time it's 9 pm (and you feel lucky, because often it is closer to 10). Taking the dog out for a walk feels like a breath of fresh air, and you realize when you return that the house is 81 degrees. You turn the thermostat to cool, fall into bed, and finally ask your husband how his day was without someone screaming for attention at the exact moment he answers. He is already half asleep because he woke up at 5 to swim and clean up dog poop, and he just finally finished all of those dishes in the sink.

For a few moments you both put your hands on the lump that will one day be your career killer, and feel those wrinkly knees that you're going to be staring at for 8 weeks straight.

You both laugh. And you feel tremendous relief that you can laugh.

And you hold each other.

And remember that tomorrow is Wednesday, your Friday, and everything's going to be ok.


Saturday, February 1, 2014

Sleep is for the Weak

When Aquaman was about 6 months old, and in his deepest throes of sleeplessness, my sister C bought him a onesie that said "sleep is for the weak". He didn't need the sleep. He seemed to wonder why I thought I did.
That first two years was impossibly hard. It was hard physically and mentally, especially when I was still working full-time, and had to appear like I had at least half a brain. It was extremely hard emotionally, because if you read enough parenting books or talk to the wrong people, you'll convince yourself that their sleeplessness is a reflection on your poor parenting skills. 

Today he is 5 years and 5 months old. And sleeplessness doesn't panic me like it used to.
Maybe it's because I've cut back a lot on work, and changed a lot of my identity along the way. Maybe it's because I just got used to it. Maybe it's because, by now, working the 3rd shift beside my children has become less a blow to my pride than an opportunity for honor. A way to serve that is covered by the dark of night. A test of faith, and a chance to see more clearly how supernaturally God will provide to those He loves.

This week Aquaman caught the dreaded illness that knocked The Dude out for the count 2 weeks ago. He burned with fever night and day, and slept very little. Getting larger and more awkward as I transition into the 3rd trimester, and wracked with unpredictable hormones, I woke often with surging adrenaline to a crying child only to find myself completely unable to return to sleep despite total exhaustion.

As I held his burning hand in mine, I listened to the Welsh lullaby that plays at the end of their CD, "all through the night". 

"Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and vale in slumber steeping,
I my loving vigil keeping
All through the night."

And this week I enjoyed the vigil. I didn't fear it, I just went with it. It's crazy how much fuller life is when you stop fighting it. Stop trying to fit it into this neat little box, and just go with it. Accept the tiredness, even embrace it. 

This is my favorite part of pregnancy. 2nd trimester has always been over-rated to me. For me, 2nd trimester involves sickness that continues longer than I think it should, and my time of most rapid weight gain and joint loosening and bodily adjustment. I enjoy this part of the 3rd trimester. My energy has mostly returned. Food has never tasted better. The little one moves regularly, and I can start to pick out bony elbows and knobby knees. Though I frequently surprise myself by getting stuck or bumping into things with my new protrusion, it is starting to become more familiar and comfortable. 
It's a time of preparation and excitement. We cleaned out the "linen closet" which houses our books, scrapbooks, journals and games yesterday. Today, I'm aiming for the boys' bookcase.
On Thursday we had an unexpected day off with JT, and the boys helped me clean all of the bathrooms. JT brought home a dresser, and we're now only one dresser shy of having enough for everyone. Then the clothes sorting will begin. Washing newborn clothes and daydreaming about who he will be.

Most people get the nursery ready, but I've never done that. None of my babies have come home to their own rooms, and if they did they wouldn't have slept in them anyway. 
He has a new Rock n Play sleeper ready in the closet, piles of clothes, and already a pretty good stash of newborn diapers. He won't need much more than that and my arms for a long time. 

I know it's going to be crazy. The boys these days are pretty self sufficient. I can take a shower in peace (well, mostly). A lot of things are going to be turned upside down. 
But last night as I sat down with the boys to eat dinner, I could just picture another face there. A face that, like the other two, is so similar, but so very different. A boy who will bring a whole new dynamic of personality to our family. 

Today is February 1st. All that is left of rainy, sick January days are huge mud puddles and thick congestion.

 JT just came home, having been granted an unexpected overtime day off, and took the now fever free boys on an "adventure". I don't have any outside work to do, and I'm surprisingly not very tired.

My Bible reading has moved on to Exodus. Which can be a little harder to struggle through with a sleep deprived brain. Why the elaborate priestly garments, and the temple that had to be set up just so? I know it matters, so I don't skip a word, and I'm reminded that our God is a God of detail, and of intention. He's a God who, in the Old Testament demanded formality so that His people would not live life carelessly, but in awe of Him and the responsibilities that we have in bearing His Name. So that we could see how incapable we are of all of it, and trust Him.

And then there's Matthew, where I came to find Jesus on a donkey's colt this morning. And the children shouting Hosanna, because He had come to save them. And the priests wondering whether they really wanted to be saved or not.
It occurred to me this morning, that maybe it wasn't just that Jesus wasn't the kind of Savior they had hoped for, but that they didn't want a Savior at all. After all, life was pretty good for the "priests". They had control of the people, by weighing them down with laws and formalities.
And so Jesus came to be the new priest. The one who saves us from the impossible, and stands in the gap. Who will one day clothe us in precious jewels because we are His. Though here maybe we'll just keep wearing peasant's clothes and looking like foolish children with palm branches.

It can be scary when prophecies come true. Even when we think they're what we wanted all over lives. I read how James and John's mother came to Jesus and asked that they be granted honor at his left and right hand, and how He answered "you do not know what you're asking. Can you drink the cup I have been given?"
Do we really want honor? Because before honor comes the lowest of humiliations.
Do I want that kind of honor? Because comfort is for the weak. And it's so nice being comfortable.
But it's the last who will someday be first. And I'm asking God to help me be ok with that. In this world in which it is so hard to be transformed, because of the many distractions, both the pleasant and the mundane.

Fear often keeps me from asking for honor, because I know the price with which it comes. But faith is what keeps me looking for more.

There is something about pregnancy that always causes me to look back. I remember so much of the darkness from which I have come, and I remember how capable I am of returning to it. It is definitely a humbling place to be. But then I think of the Grace. How He saved me from the many consequences that I was too stupid or too blind to see ahead. How He rescued me from the pit and put my feet on solid ground. There will be more pits. But there's less of the drifting away. So often I remember the cry of the disciples when Jesus sadly asked "will you go too?" and they said, I am sure full of terror: "where ELSE would we go?"
As terrifying as living a life of faith can be, there is nothing more terrifying than slipping away from it.

So forward we go, into the unknowns of this year.

 Into the humiliations that we will someday realize were honor.
Judah took this picture. It would have been a great one if he hadn't been so excited that he couldn't hold still. ;)