31 October 2014

Family snippets

"I am horrible oppressive Tyrant Daddy! No fun allowed in this kingdom!"
-Jared, as he runs around the living room with a giggling Ellie slung over his shoulder

Ellie cracks us up. She is learning new words all the time ("chocolate," "clock," "dirty," "hot," and "see ya" are her recent additions, though most are only comprehensible to her doting parents). She has also decided that she needs to match me as much as possible. One of her favorite activities is Tell Me What That Is Called; she points at stuff and demands that I say its name. Well, she especially loves to point out things that she and I have in common.

"Those are your socks. And these are my socks."
"That's your fork. Yes, I have a fork too."

On it goes. You can see in this picture that she realized something else we could share: aprons!

My second pregnancy has definitely been different. I have prescription steroid cream, deployed sparingly but regularly, which takes care of my eczema--so I don't have to deal with the horrendous rash of last time. I am endlessly thankful for that, because the time I spent fighting that rash was the most traumatic period of my life so far. I can recall all sorts of unpleasant experiences without a twinge, but if I even start to think about those miserable months, I feel panicky and desperate and want to cry.

Other positive differences: morning sickness disappeared sooner, I know what I am doing pregnancy-wise and don't have to research my brains out over every decision, I am a lot more confident about my ability to birth a baby, Jellybean moves alllllll the time and that's fun, and even though I feel enormous I don't look too big (well, not big for 30 weeks pregnant). We think I'm carrying her higher than I did Ellie.

Negative differences: I worry more about this baby's health, mostly out of a weird sense of guilt. I think about her less during the day because I'm busy with other things--mostly her nutty older sister--and I forget to take my prenatal vitamins and so forth. Then I worry that my neglect will cause her to have poor health or some unexpected birth defect (or in my most frantic moods, a stillbirth). Also, I've had major issues with my hip this time around. My left sacroiliac joint goes out easily and so depending on the day, I experience anything from a small "ouch" when I move suddenly to constant pain.

27 October 2014

what is God up to?

To put it baldly, I spend most of my day cleaning messes. Vacuuming cracker crumbs, washing stinky diapers. In the middle of this I often feel like a hamster spinning a very menial wheel. I start to wonder what I am doing with my life. My answers aren't terribly satisfying: I am ironing yet another hamper of wrinkled shirts. I am buying yet another tube of toothpaste. I am pulling yet another heap of weeds.


Then I remember that I am not the main character in this story. God is the protagonist of history, including my private slice of it, and He is an active God. He is always at work. He is always succeeding in His work. My work just falls into line behind His.

Watering the Garden, Daniel Ridgway Knight

What is God doing? I ask. Can I see what's really going on here?

That question transforms my perception of the day. I quickly see that God is busy: He is providing for our family, increasing our love for one another, and shaping a toddler's tiny heart (and two big adult ones). He is making us more like His son and building us into the church, His bride. He is enabling us to carry out His commands. What's more, He chooses to accomplish a lot of that work through me. I start to see the connections between His agenda and the little tasks I'm doing.

That excites me. It makes me realize how honorable those tasks are. Even when they look boring--even fruitless--from the outside.
I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil--this is God's gift to man.

I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before Him.

-Ecclesiastes 3:12-14

21 October 2014

running from time

Every advertisement in America assumes that we want to look younger, and since advertisers are pretty good at sussing out the mood of the populace, I guess we do. Apparently we are all trying to return to the best days of our lives (defined as "the days when we were unwrinkled, skinny, and burdened by as few responsibilities as possible").

This passion for youthfulness bears ugly fruit: orange spray tans and reconstructed noses always ring false. It's also a phenomenal waste. People shell out extravagant sums for plastic surgery, spend hours sculpting their muscles at Crossfit, and fret endlessly over one too many appetizers eaten at the party last night. Imagine what all that money, time, and energy could achieve! Exercise is great. I love cosmetics and clothes. But how sad to see them demand more of us than our love for God and all He has called us to. (Even worse is when we think that we need to have our appearance nailed down before we can attend to those other things.)

Mrs Adrian Iselin by J.S. Sargent
Anyway, we all lose life eventually. No one defeats age, and I think that embracing truth is typically more attractive than painting on a lie. As we care for ourselves, do we endeavor to  honor what God has created, or do we try to turn ourselves into someone else entirely, a mythical ideal concocted of magazine clippings and hairspray? There's such a difference.

I see wise older women acknowledging who they are, enjoying the beauty that is reserved for their own age, and looking so amazing because of that. Then I see women forcing themselves into a cheap imitation of who they were decades ago, running from time, only to find themselves exhausted, unhappy, and decidedly plasticized.

I am still young myself, but I already notice age altering my hands. They work hard: plunged into hot dishwater, sorting through dirty vegetables, scrubbing mold from shower tiles. The work shows. They're starting to wrinkle and lose their elasticity. I know that one day the rest of my body will follow suit. My veins will stand out and my skin will droop. Some of the damage will be due to the march of time, some to nourishing children, and some to the unforseen mishaps of life. That's okay. I am not interested in fighting reality. I am interested in embracing the beauty God gives me every day.

16 October 2014

phfr #13

Linked up with Like Mother, Like Daughter.

Bad picture, but I made a cute mobile for the nursery, using an embroidery hoop and a collection of doll ornaments. (We have so many ornaments that we can barely fit them on our Christmas tree, so I decided to use these to decorate the girls' room instead.)


Applesauce season is underway. I've canned sixteen quarts so far (that was 38 pounds of apples . . . lots of peeling) and I plan to put up at least 40.


Ellie is learning to put Duplos together. She has to concentrate very, very hard.


Ugh, receipts.

09 October 2014

Weekend linkage

A good deal of serious material this week, so to start, here is a cute snap of Ellie in her toy basket:

"He's Not Scary, He's a Little Boy." I found this very helpful. If Ellie made a rude comment about someone's appearance, my first instinct would be to hush her and scurry away. But this mom says:
If you are the parent whose child says another child looks funny or scary, don’t simply say "That isn’t a nice thing to say." While you are right, it’s not nice, simply saying that and walking away still isolates my child.  The next time follow that statement up and tell your child, "I’m sure he’s a very nice boy, let’s go meet him."
"My Husband Divorced Me For His Gay Lover, Then Took Our Children." A sobering story that needs to be told.

An NPR feature on plastic surgery in Brazil. Some of these women's comments were so sad: beauty is the foundation of a good life, and beauty is defined by a very narrow set of standards (not that different from our own culture, but apparently Brazilians are more open about resorting to surgery to achieve their ideal). I'm not against these procedures but find their extravagant overuse disturbing.

"50 Classy People From the Past." Some of the captions are adorably naive, but the pictures are fun.