30 January 2015

Family snippets

This week in pictures . . .

Ellie has graduated from mere "side ponytail" to full-on pigtails. Such a lot of hair! (And yes, she's toting around a tube of Lansinoh.)

Jared has been home all week. So nice.

We went for a couple of walks, some snowier than others.

My little lady. She eats well, sleeps well, has a fuzzball head, and hates getting her diaper changed. Everybody loves her. We're all doing great!

22 January 2015

she's not a jellybean anymore.

Now she is . . .

Zoe Eloise! Born at 2:04 AM on January 21, weighing 9 pounds 8 ounces, 22 inches long with a 15-inch head. She nurses like a boss and has been a total joy these past two days. I feel much more relaxed with a newborn this time.

Her first name means "life." We're honored to receive another small life into our family and cannot wait to see how she broadens our own lives. God has given her every precious breath and she's a clear testament to His generosity.

Her middle name belonged to my paternal grandmother, who just passed away last month. I wish Zoe could have met her great-grandma in person, but I love that she gets to carry on the name for another generation.

Ellie is psyched. She cooes "baby! baby!" whenever she sees Zoe, and wants to smother her with pats and hugs. I'm a bit freaked out by these overwhelming displays of affection and just hope Zoe isn't injured in the love-fest . . .

Zoe's birth began spontaneously and went smoothly, but was extremely challenging for me. The five hours between checking into the birth center in active labor, and her actual entry into the world, felt far more intense than the 12+ hours it took to get Ellie out! I'll write the story up later with (almost) all the gory details. However, I also felt much better after Zoe's birth than Ellie's. I wasn't as tired and I hadn't taken any painkillers at all, as opposed to a shot of Nubain with Ellie, so I was completely alert once she arrived. The tradeoffs of life. :)

17 January 2015

Family snippets

Well, I can authoritatively say that 41 weeks is a Very Long Time to incubate a baby. I am ready to see her on the outside. Ironically, waiting has gotten easier as more time passes, because I know that I have less and less time to go: no matter when she comes, I am getting closer to her delivery every day!

Jared is the nicest pregnancy companion imaginable. He cleaned all of our wooden floors for me this week, has procured hamburgers and ice cream on command, and generously supplies shoulder-and-hip rubs to his cranky wife. (He also understands that every evening I go through a "woe is us, this baby will never come" phase and therefore is not alarmed if I suddenly start to cry or mope about.) I'm grateful to have him around so often, rather than working till midnight on the house like last time. Ellie's explosive energy wears me down during the day and I need somebody to take over toddler duty after dinner!

I will go in for a non-stress test this weekend to make sure that everything is okay. We'll monitor Jellybean's heartbeat for an extended period of time; if it sounds normal, we'll know that she is still healthy and that my placenta is not deteriorating, and we can carry on as usual. The midwives cannot deliver outside of the hospital once I pass 42 weeks, so if I get close to that date I will take measures on my own to induce labor (most likely castor oil). Hopefully it won't come to that, as I am no fan of induction, but I much prefer castor oil at the birth center to pitocin and monitors in the hospital.

As for Big Sister, we've hit an interesting kink in language development. She is starting to understand the concept of color, but does not realize that colors have names unto themselves. Instead, she associates them with particular objects. So a brown crayon is "chocolate," an orange car is "clementine," and white yogurt is "snow." I love seeing how her brain works. She learns at lightning speed, and I don't know how she fits all the information she's cramming into that memory of hers.

16 January 2015

Weekend linkage

This one is funny: "Ayn Rand Reviews Children's Movies."
“Old Yeller.” A farm animal ceases to be useful and is disposed of humanely. A valuable lesson for children. Four stars.
From The Economist: "Home of the Unbrave."
Perhaps it's better to be safe than sorry, but one wonders whether we won't become sorry to have made such a fetish of staying safe. In much the same way that dominant firms, jealous of market share, tend to become over-cautious and lose their edge, America the weak-kneed hegemon risks losing the can-do, risk-taking, innovative pioneer spirit that made it the world's dominant economic and military power. Is it worth devoting so much zeal to protecting America's young minds from brain damage if the finest among them wind up too conservative to seek anything but a sure paycheck?
From Forbes: "Architecture Continues to Implode." A sharp look at the self-congratulatory, insular world of high concept architecture and the widening disconnect between elite "experts" and real people.

Here is a neat story: "The Search for Australia's Lost Hospital Ship."

"What Happens To A Woman's Brain When She Becomes a Mother." Or, science can finally confirm what we've known all along! (No really, it's interesting, and these findings also offer the opportunity to help moms and babies who, due to brain damage or chemical imbalances, struggle with post-partum depression or attachment respectively.)

I think I need to make this pie.

Here's a great post on P.G. Wodehouse that is technically part of the LMLD Library Project (good in itself) but ends up rambling far afield, discussing how an obsession with equality or "leveling the playing field" retards children's education by wilting our expectations.
The way I knew this word, and so many others far outside my ken, was of course by reading. And a further irony is that the more energy one spends worrying about testing and whether or not it rewards privilege, the less energy is left for reading and looking up words and thereby righting any inequalities of privilege.

07 January 2015

a sense of unbelonging

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God . . .
These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.
-Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16
I feel lonely pretty often. Actually, it's not so much a sense of being alone as of being lost. I don't fit in here, I think, wherever here happens to be. It can happen when I am literally alone, and I start to feel unsure of myself. Wait, am I doing anything worth caring about? Am I just floating around aimlessly? Am I anchored to anything important? Loneliness can also descend when I am surrounded by people. I suddenly realize that I have nothing to say to them. (On those sort of occasions, I simply want to crawl into bed with a nice book and pretend that other people don't exist at all. If they didn't, you see, I would not have to worry about how to connect with these other weird creatures called humans. I don't belong here so can I just please leave.)

Summertime by Edward Hopper
The two types of loneliness often feed into each other, so that I go for several days feeling as if I'm trapped in a soap bubble, able to see the world outside, unable to reach through and touch it. In fact, I can't even remember being able to touch it . . . maybe I've been this way forever?

Then the bubble breaks and I remember that yes, I do love people! They love me! And I'm part of the holy church of God and He has good works for me to do here!

The moments of loneliness recur, though. This can be discouraging, but way back in college in the middle of a particularly glum spell, I realized one important truth: Jesus understands what it means to be alone. He was completely misunderstood and abandoned. He had no one left to comfort Him, not even His father. Now He is with me, so not only am I never alone, but the One who keeps me company can fully sympathize with my struggle.

In the past couple of years I have come to terms with another truth, the contained in that passage from Hebrews: that loneliness is a natural part of human life, particularly the life lived by faith. Not even the most popular person on earth gets to feel connected all the time. This fallen world just doesn't let that happen. And as for me-- decidedly not the most popular person on earth-- I'm waiting for something better anyway.

So perhaps I need to accept that feeling out of joint with the world is okay. I don't fit in here, after all. I really am a stranger and an exile. Only in the heavenly country will I know what it means to belong.

02 January 2015

it can be done

My parents celebrated their twenty-ninth anniversary several months ago. This is remarkable for two reasons. First, that they are married at all: an astonishing number of American marriages end in divorce (not to mention the couples who never bother to get married in the first place). Second, that they are married happily. Many couples grudgingly stick it out for their kids' sake, for their own reputations, or because they don't know what else to do. But my parents are still glad to be together.

They have always been a good team. Among plenty of other accomplishments, they've raised six kids, making our lives full and secure. None of us ever wondered if Mom and Dad might split up. Of course we knew-- those of us old enough to pick up on such things-- that they had their arguments and hurt feelings, even a few icy glares. At the same time we knew they loved each other and loved us, and that those loves would continue. So the arguments were hashed out and the ice melted. Here they are decades later, loyal to the covenant they made in their young twenties, and grateful to the faithful God who has walked with them daily.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for showing me that it can be done. You put the lie to the world's claims that love can't last, that we all "move on" eventually. We are a quarter-century behind you but I know we'll make it too.