27 April 2015

Eve over again

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”-Genesis 3:1
New mothers frequently stand in Eve's shoes. We hold fragile young life in our arms, often rejoicing, but just as often-- on the long restless afternoons, in the dark wakeful nights-- facing down the serpent and his questions. Did God actually say? 

Did God really promise to walk with us? Did he really say that He would be our strength and did He really pronounce children a blessing?

Or perhaps does He not care as much as we'd hoped? Has he forgotten us and these children?

He really did promise.
The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.
-Genesis 3:20
We inherit Eve's task to birth new physical life, but more than that, we are heirs of spiritual life ourselves. Our heavenly father is always upholding us, just as we hold our tiny ones. The things of the grave (whether actual death, or its everyday relatives, pain and toil and disappointment) don't have power over us anymore.

He really did promise.

23 April 2015

Family snippets

Here Zoe, have a drink!!
Ellie turned two last month. Her personality, much like her mother's, tends toward extremes, and so she vacillates between showering Zoe with tenderness and treating her like a rag doll. One minute she's stroking her head and cooing "Baby Zoe! Oh sweetie!" but the next minute she's stealing her socks, yanking her thumb out of her mouth, or in particularly wild moments, scratching her dear little face. Zoe goggles at Ellie's acrobatics (she goggles at almost everything) and objects strongly to the rag doll treatment.

I'm pretty sure they love each other.

Zoe grows about an inch every night. She is already wearing 6-month clothing! That is actually quite convenient. Ellie was born at the end of March, a three-month difference that technically puts them in different seasons; you wouldn't expect her clothes to work for Zoe. But because Zozo is so huge, she ends up fitting them after all.

(Less shopping for baby means more shopping for Mommy.)

Zoe has become much more demonstrative lately. Her smiles are enormous. If you work really hard you can even get her to laugh! Unfortunately, she has also begun teething, and that is very traumatic for everybody, with much crying and finger-gnawing. I don't think it is fair to make a mere three-month-old sprout teeth, but then, I didn't exactly get a say in the matter.

I am thankful that despite the impending teeth, she still sleeps well at night. The difference between Getting Up Thrice and Getting Up Once is staggering.

Back to the newly minted two-year-old: she is giving my patience a run for its money, with her irrational whining jags and ceaseless chatter. And yet she is so much fun at the same time. She frequently asks to "pray Jesus?", snuggles on my lap to read book after book, and adores all of our relatives-- she hopefully suggests "grandma's house?" even when we have no plans to go anywhere. She has a strong personality and decided opinions. I love seeing her determination every day. She likes to figure things out, and likes to help us with our work: she has learned to work the salad spinner, enthusiastically imitates Jared's running stretches, and hands me clothespins when I do laundry. She knows all her colors and is learning to count (not always accurately: "one two fee, five  nine ten!")

The Long Winter is finally over, and we can enjoy the outdoors as a family, whether on walks around the city, trips to the park, or fiddling around in our garden. (The lettuce is up and I have tomato seedlings ready to transplant soon.) Oorah. Jared and I also got to go out for dinner without the girls last week, and it felt like a turning point. I love tiny babies but it's awfully nice when they are old enough to leave for a couple hours; I am feeling more like myself, and less like a groggy, bed-headed milk machine.

So that's good.

20 April 2015

less virtual, more actual

A few weeks after Zoe was born I decided to log out of Facebook during the week, and only check back on the weekends. Facebook has its nice side to be sure, but it had grown to be a huge annoyance, a relentless barrage of mostly-useless information. It was too much for my tired and hormonal brain to handle. I needed to narrow down my world for a while.

Gather Ye Rosebuds, J.W. Waterhouse
I think sometimes we spend so much time tracking other people's lives that we have no time left to live our own.

Two months later, I have decided to throw out Facebook entirely. I think it's going to be great.

Here's why, mainly: without Facebook and its illusion of intimacy, I am obliged to invest in people in more personal ways. When I skim over twenty status updates I fool myself into thinking that now I know what's going on with those friends. Ridiculous! I only know anything of substance if I have individual contact with them. So now that is what I do, and it is excellent. I call a friend, meet them at the park, send them a letter.

Relying on one-to-one contact, rather than the scattershot free-for-all of Facebook, frees me from the burden of keeping tabs on everyone I have ever met. The internet makes it so easy to get in touch with people, we can feel obligated to do so. We should keep up with all our old acquaintances! We must follow their Twitter feeds! We have to let them know what we're doing, too! But those expectations are completely unrealistic . . . and unnecessary. I would only consider five or six people in my life "close friends." I have a lot more friends than that, sure (over 300 if Facebook is to be believed). But I would never pour out my deepest struggles and joys to them, or even expect them to care. I know this sounds horrible, but they don't expect me to care about all of them either, and if I say goodbye to Facebook I don't even have the option of trying.

Granted, pulling back from social media means losing information. I will find out about engagements a week later than everybody else. I won't see pictures of so-and-so's new baby or get to read the interesting links that other people share. In fact, I will lose touch with some people altogether. That makes me sad. But it is okay. Life works like that sometimes. We cannot make and maintain infinite connections, because we ourselves are finite. (And if my only "connection" to somebody is reading the occasional status update, how real is that anyway?)

I feel a bit like a rebel. Facebook has convinced many of us that we NEED it in order to stay connected with our friends. Well, I'll show you, Facebook! Quite honestly, I have found that my relationships are far richer when I don't use social media as a crutch.

I didn't write this post to scold you into leaving Facebook, of course. If you like it and benefit from it, hurray! But I don't like it anymore, and I know that there are a lot of people out there in the same boat. You've wasted too many afternoons scrolling through your feed, or been stressed by the pressure of keeping tabs on everyone, and muttered "Man, I should just get rid of Facebook." But you never got around to hitting the delete button. Well, you should do it!

I am still going to blog, because I enjoy writing so much. I love following my friends' blogs too, because people pour much more of themselves into their writing than they do into Facebook posts. (If I know you and you have a blog, I bet I've found it already, but just in case . . . if any of you have been secretly blogging, tell me!)

In addition, I am growing more concerned for my daughters' privacy and won't be posting many pictures of our family here. I have already culled quite a few from the archives. Instead, I've opened an Instagram account (@rdaphne.r) for friends who want to keep up with us that way. It will have plenty of pictures, but it is private and I need to approve you before you can view it. Just create an account if you don't already have one and send me a request.

See you around.

18 April 2015

Weekend linkage

I love the Grand Duke.
I guess this would convince me to come camping.

Scientifically speaking, could you actually walk and dance in Cinderella's glass slippers?

Hidden pocket scarf!

Texts from the Dashwoods, and even more good ones in the comments. (The Toast is an oddity to me. I laugh myself to tears over every humor piece they publish, yet completely disagree with everything else on their ultra-feminist, ultra-PC site. Whatever.)

"Yelp Reviews of Newborn Babies." Hee.

Speaking of which, a new approach to caring for preemies in the NICU: get the parents involved, and see markedly improved results. This is great. I am all about giving parents more agency in their children's medical care.

"The Minimalist Pixie Dream Girl." (Made me chuckle. I have certainly fallen for the promise of effortless perfection.)
She is never actually doing anything, of course. She is sipping her tea, staring out the window, sitting curled up on her comically large white couch with a few magazines strewn about her. She is not there to inspire anything other than insecurity, because her “achievements” include keeping everything incredibly white, not gaining weight, and having a messy bun that is always on the verge of falling but never actually does.
Related: "A Clean House and a Wasted Life."
You cannot focus your time, attention, gifts, energy, and enthusiasm toward noble goals while still keeping every corner of life perfectly tidy.
Homeschooling parents are not a special breed. I like this post, because I've heard tons of people say "Oh, I could never homeschool, I'm just too impatient/not smart enough/can't deal with my kids all day." 99% of the time that is not true: this is a matter of choice, not of temperament. Impatient non-geniuses can totally homeschool. So if you just don't want to, that is fine. No need to make self-deprecating excuses.
Sometimes I feel that people think homeschooling parents have different blood—or a different genetic code—that allows them to live with their children during the day. Like maybe they're picturing all homeschooling parents as gentle, patient, generous, encouraging, soft-spoken introspective introverts who like to hang out with their kids. Which is too bad for me because I am a demanding, impatient, and aggressively-selfish extrovert.
"Did You Mean to Have All These Kids?"
I don’t know why God gave me children effortlessly and withholds them from others who would make fantastic parents. But I know this: fertility is not a curse, it is a gift. It is a scandalous miracle.

15 April 2015

harder and easier

Having a second baby is harder because now you have two tiny people to interrupt your shower, distract you from your book, and spill things on your clothes. So every day you have to share just a little more of your time. Relinquish just a little more of your convenience. Your patience is stretched just a little bit more. After a while, that seems like a lot.

Chores start to fall through the cracks because you are so busy meeting the basic needs of said tiny people. I can feel pretty discouraged about the things I'm unable to do around the house. Even basic tasks seem daunting with a drooling baby in your arms and a sleepy headache that's begging for more coffee. My unfinished to-do list looks more than a mile long (not to mention the theoretical to-do list that I don't bother making because I can't even complete the real one . . . can you believe I used to clean the fridge on a regular basis?). Frankly, I often feel like a failure at the end of the day.

Life is way too full. I can't get my arms around it.

Having a second baby is easier because now you have two tiny people to make you laugh, accompany you on walks, and look at you adoringly. Babies are pretty good for the ol' self-esteem, since they love you no matter how grungy you look, and don't particularly care if you forgot to thaw the chicken for dinner. And even though I battle discouragement about household tasks, I am too busy to even notice most of the things that fall thorough the cracks . . . and therefore, I am not stressed about them to begin with!

Watching the two girls together melts even my unsentimental heart. Love multiplies as people do.

I know I did this whole newborn thing before, only two years ago in fact. I'm far more relaxed. Even though the specifics will look different with each child I know that I can be a mom, I can take care of a baby, and everybody will get through this stage with sanity relatively intact.

Life is full but it definitely isn't boring. My little ladies are precious.

07 April 2015

. . . or you can just laugh.

A joyful heart is good medicine,
but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
-Proverbs 17:22

Though I rarely cry, I can whine with the best of 'em. These days I mostly complain about my wardrobe and my house. Half these clothes don't fit and new ones are so expensive and I can't find anything that works for my postpartum body anyway and I'm not losing weight fast enough and everybody else has better clothes than I do. The living room is a mess but I'm too tired to clean it and I wish we could remodel the kitchen and buy new bedroom furniture and nothing looks the way I want it to.

Well, whining is exhausting. After a day-long pity party I feel awful! So I have started to laugh instead.

I went to three different stores and found absolutely nothing?

I have one pair of pants and a handful of threadbare shirts that I actually like?

There is a mile-high stack of laundry on our bed and mold in the shower?

It's all rather funny, actually, if I choose to see the humor instead of shouting woe is me. Complaining tends to inflate my problems anyway; things are not nearly as bad as I like to make them sound!