Monday, January 31, 2011

Celebration of Life

Yesterday was the Houston marathon and 1/2 marathon. This was one of my post-baby, get-back- into-shape fitness goals. Actually, the goal was originally the San Antonio 1/2 marathon in November but that just snuck up way too soon and I wasn't ready. So, the revised goal was the Houston 1/2 Marathon. I consider my goal met because we did 13.1 miles in one of our training runs. Unfortunately, I was unable to participate in the official race because my snuggle bunches of oats (That is, John.) was sick and my plans to send him to our church's nursery fell through. (He's doing better now!)

But, I am super proud of Peter who ran it much faster than he would have had I been with him! He got to run it with his brother Jacob, Jacob's wife Daniele, and his sister Julie who all came in town for the race. Way to go to all of them! Jacob, Daniele and Julie are 1/2 marathon aficionados now. They run one like every other month. Here's my tribute to two of them from their first 1/2 marathon. (Sorry for not writing a new tribute for you! Hope you'll excuse my laziness!)

Anyways, I've written before about my experience in running and how I have found it transformational in some ways that I couldn't really understand. Upon more reflection my thoughts have become slightly more cohesive.

I find it to be a unique celebration of life. I was struck both times I ran long races by how many people had overcome significant obstacles to get there (I use the term "ran" loosely as a three toed sloth could probably "run" faster than I did...) . Some were cancer survivors, some were running in memory of someone they'd lost, some were well-advanced in age. On man was running his 30th marathon, some were running their first in their 40's, 50's or 60's. It was quite a diverse group and everyone had their reasons for being there.

My story wasn't nearly as exciting as a lot of the other runners. I was young and healthy and needed a goal to motivate my exercise. But being so physically challenged, and seeing others overcoming diverse difficulties made me so thankful for life and health- thankful to God, the author of life and giver of health. It was, for me, an expression of the glory of this earthly life and body (1 Corin 15:40). Both temporal things as this life will end and this body will decay. But still both incredible gifts.

And both are a shadow of what is to come for those who hope in Christ.

1 Corinthians 15:50-58

"0 I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:

“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain."

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Best Things About Having a Sick Baby

I have a sick baby. This morning he spiked a low grade fever and then in the afternoon, it rose to 101.4. He doesn't feel well. And it tugs at my heart to see him in such a pitiful state! Things aren't too serious. I spoke to the pediatrician's office and since he's eating, peeing, and the fever is amenable to tylenol, we're just waiting it out.

He goes back and forth between pitiful and cheerful. After his fever early in the afternoon, he rallied post nap and enjoyed scattering tupperware far and wide in the kitchen. But then he sunk into a listless daze and I put him to sleep.

I, of course, am not happy that he is ill, nor would I ever wish him to be sick but there is a silver lining: First of all, he has taken two two hour naps both yesterday and today. Hello, free time! The second is that he has been so snugly! Since the day he learned to roll over, his main purpose in life has been to quickly occupy any space which he is not presently occupying. Today, however, he willingly rocked with me, sat in my lap, and fell asleep in my arms twice.

I am praying that he will recover quickly and that he doesn't get any worse. But I'll take all the snuggling I can get.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Speaking of Uniqueness

A few posts ago I wrote about my family's quirky holiday habit of discussing King Henry VIII. And that's really only a sliver of a fraction of the quirkiness that is my life. I most definitely wouldn't have it any other way.

A few days after Christmas I went to San Antonio to visit two of my best friends from high school who were in town. This is the three of us with our mothers. Vanessa is on the left, I'm in the middle and Jennifer on the right:

We all became very close in theater during high school. We preformed in probably half a dozen plays together. Which I think might be surprising to people who know me now. I don't think I come across as a flamboyant, dramatic type. But I have been known to deliver a line or two in my day: "Macbeth, Macbeth, Macbeth! Be bloody, bold and resolute; laugh to scorn the power of man, for none of woman born shall harm Macbeth!" My breakout role was playing the ghost of a bloody child in Macbeth. But my personal favorite was when we did A Midsummer Night's Dream. Vanessa and I were fairies. We were decked out in so much glitter that I think I got the last of it washed out of my hair just last week!

And our theatrical side still emerges from time to time. And, like a tempest, it whirls and swirls and often overtakes all others present. Like when we were all opening gifts together a few days after Christmas. We wanted to get a picture of all of us. Now, for most people, this would be simple enough. Not for us! Our photo session required rehearsals!

Kyle, the only male in the pictured, was also part of our theater crowd. He married Vanessa. We wanted a photo of all of us, so Kyle planned to set the timer on the camera. Then we proceeded to rehearse our themed pictures so that we could display our proper faces in quick succession to keep up with the rapid pace of the timed photos. And here are the results:

"More Somber"


"Shock and Awe"

"Something Smells"

It is so nice to have friends around whom you can be yourself. (And not only that, but they actually like yourself.)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The best boys ever

Sometimes I am just overwhelmed by how blessed I am. What did I do to deserve all of this? Nothing. I did nothing. And in fact, I don't deserve any of it. But God had been so kind and gracious to me.

Everything is fun and games until you get your nose eaten off by a two-toothed wonder.

I can't imagine a more perfect life on earth (except maybe if frosting was a health food). I managed to land a husband that is way out of my league. And he goes to work all day and sometimes all night so that I can sit at home and eat bon bons with my baby.

And there is no one who I would rather spend my days with than this little monkey (soon he'll be able to eat bon bons too!). Even with the diarrhea of late, I feel privileged to have such a cute little bottom to wipe!

Psalm 16

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.

2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”

3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.b

4 The sorrows of those who run afterc another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.

5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.

6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.

8 I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole beinge rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.

10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.f

11 You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

I need you to divulge your secrets

Before I had a child I read the blogs of a few of my parent friends where I occasionally encountered some advice that I stored away in my little brain for later use. Now that I have a snuggle bunches of oats, I've been able to put into practice a few of the parenting gems that I had read about. For example, I read a recommendation to layer the crib mattress with a sheet then a waterproof crib pad, then another sheet. That way if there were any blowouts in the middle of the night (or anytime, I suppose) I could simply strip the top sheet and crib pad and still have a clean sheet on the bottom to lay my baby back down to sleep. This served me well early this morning when I went to check on John who was crying and found that he had soiled his sheets in a delightful shade of beet- which he had eaten the night before. If you've ever had to change crib sheets, you know this is not a fun middle-of-the-night activity. It's more difficult than it sounds. For me, I have to completely remove the mattress from the crib. So, I was very thankful for the layering early this morning.

John is experiencing some diarrhea at the moment. My current thought is that it is some sort of food intolerance rather than sickness. Because, other than poop leaking out of his diaper, he has no symptoms of being ill. He's not fussy, lacking energy, he has no fever. He's his normal, amiable self- except for the frequent, liquidy BM's. (I know this is more than you ever wanted to know...). I'm cutting back all of his food except for rice cereal and breastmilk until I can get to the bottom of this.

Anyways, the messes I've faced with this bout of diarrhea haven't been that bad. A few soiled sheets and onesies- I can deal with that! But I got to thinking, babies, they are not cleanly folk. They are prone to ooze secretions (sometimes from multiple orifices simultaneously) and rather than tidy up, they are masters at de-shelving, taking out and pulling down things which have been neatly put away. I know that we will face more illness around here as the years go by. So here is where I want the secrets to come out. I am wondering if any of you have any practices that you use during those times when you have children spewing nastiness from both ends. Do you have tips, like the handy sheet-crib pad- sheet tip, that keep you from having to go out and buy a canoe so that you can navigate the rivers of you-know-what in your house?

I'm all ears.

I will say that parenting on the whole, thus far, has not been as messy as I expected. Does it get messier or less messy the older they get? (I'm betting on messier because there's more mobility involved which opens up opportunities for trailing messes far and wide, am I right?)

Friday, January 21, 2011

What Kind of Christmas would it be without King Henry VIII?

I wrote a few holiday posts back in December but am only just now editing them. Thus, I'm finishing my holiday posts in January! That's pretty good! January is not too far moved from December....

There is a rather immature quote that I have heard about how you can pick your nose but you cannot pick your relatives. I'm certainly glad that you can't choose your relatives because then I might not have ended up with the bunch of characters that I've inherited.

When we all convene, usually around the holidays, we have absurdly enjoyable conversations. I say absurdly because we rarely discuss anything relevant, useful or even anything that we are qualified to have opinions about. This is especially true of my mother who makes many adamant, yet as far as I can tell baseless, assertions like "There are no cows in Sweden!" Despite all of that (perhaps because of it), we manage to talk for hours. One of our most popular topics of discussion is the British Royal Family. Yes. The British Royal Family. Some families talk small talk, some talk politics, some sports. Mine discusses long-dead English Sovereigns about which we know precious little. Our favorite is King Henry VIII and his ilk.

Most of this discussion stems from a lengthy biography that my mother read and then passed onto me. It was about doting husband Henry and all of his lucky ladies. Even though we both read this, for years we've been discussing whether or not Mary Queen of Scots is different from Bloody Mary. This was clearly covered in the book but we could never keep it straight. It has been like a version of the film Groundhog's Day. Yes! Turns out they are different people! Something we have discovered many times because year after year we could never remember what we'd established the year before. Now we've finally settled the matter of the two Marys. Even my sister's boyfriend, God bless him, knows the difference. Which says a lot about how thoroughly this matter has been discussed because this fellow is no history buff. (Though he is very nice and I kid you not, he invented the Justin Bieber haircut. He should have patented it!)

So, we've moved on to discussing what claim Mary Queen of Scots had to the English throne. We haven't quite gotten to the bottom of this one yet- though my mom did print out "required reading" for us this year which examines the matter. Probably in another 5 years we'll have moved onto something else. In the meantime we are making a lot of unsubstantiated claims and verbally remixing sound bites from the history channel outside of their original context.

I can't explain why, but this quirkiness makes me smile. Everyone was created so uniquely. I can't say that this uniqueness of ours is particularly helpful to anyone. But it makes me feel like everyone can fit somewhere.

This might be a roundabout way to get here but these thoughts remind me of part of a Bible verse: "God sets the solitary in families." Ps. 68:6 And certainly, even if you can't feel at home with your wacky relatives, you can be accepted by God in Christ. And perhaps He will even give you people you can call family who don't constantly discuss dead British monarchs, if that's not your bag. After all, perhaps you're a francophile.

As for me, the holidays just would not be the same without a lively (yet mostly ignorant) discussion of those dead Britons.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

John in a Duck Robe

This has been a slow blogging month! I've been busy cleaning out my closets and doing other various and sundry projects. And also taking naps. My 5:30-6 am wake up time has me feeling rather drowsy by John's second nap. So, sometimes I nap as well. (I always said one parenting rule I would never break would be "sleep when the baby sleeps"!)

You might wonder "doesn't taking a nap during the day negate the early morning wake-up?" Sort of, but not totally. I'm so much more motivated when I get up early, read my Bible and then work on my to do list. So I still feel like it's a better use of the day to get up early.

I actually started writing this post because I wanted to post a link to Sunday's message from church. It was a sermon about giving. Those are the sermons which everyone usually hates. But as our pastor pointed out, the Bible actually speaks a great deal about money and giving. And our culture is very terrible at handling money (anybody remember that little housing crisis?). So churches should probably address the issue more often. I was prepared to feel guilted into generosity by the end of the message. But the sermon was actually immensely encouraging. Our generosity should stem not so much from what we have, but from what was done for us: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. " 2 Corinthians 8:9

Listen if you have time! You can find it here, it's entitled "Gospel Generosity".

And now, here are pictures of Baby John in a duck robe (A duck robe! Can life get any cuter?!):

If you look closely, you can see his elusive, solitary tooth. It's like Bigfoot. He's working up another one adjacent to it. But the second one has not broken the gum yet.

All that's missing are some slippers and a pipe, no?

This is my favorite baby! I'm so happy to have him!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

2/3 of a year

Today John is 8 months old. He is so very busy that he almost doesn't even have time to be written about, he's just got so much to do. The world is his oyster! Here is what he has been up to:

Crawling, pulling up, babbling, sleeping 12 hours per night (Hallelujah! He dropped his last night feeding a few weeks ago), napping twice per day, eating a smorgasbord of pureed delicacies such as green beans, bananas, avocado, beets, carrots, sweet potato and, my favorite, butternut squash, along with his gruel , of course.

And wearing the cutest hat ever:

I defy you to find a cuter little boy hat! The only problem is that some people think it's a rooster. (For those of you who are all, "It's not a rooster?" No. It's a stegosaurus.) He gets oodles of comments on this hat when we're out and about.

We recently paid a visit to some friends of ours who had a brand new baby boy on December 31st. He is still in the "sugar lump" stage (technical term). He was so sweet and soft and warm, but he didn't do anything. He just sat there. (I guess I was expecting a magic show or something. ;o)

When John was in that phase I remember thinking that I didn't want him to grow out of it. I was just so enchanted with him that I didn't want him to change. And I was almost worried that I wouldn't love him as much if he did change.

That turned out to be a silly thought. I have loved each of his stages so much more! There are new challenges, of course. The sugar lump stage is particularly precious because you can hold them for hours and they will not squirm or pull your hair. But I left thinking "I'm so glad I have an 8 month old!" Because that new baby was kind of boring. Of course, his parents rightly feel that he is the diabetic-coma-inducing sugar lump to out-glucose all other sugar lumps. But it's so fun when they start doing things! Even if those things sometimes cause me to take 45 minutes to do something that others can do in 5 minutes....

Saturday, January 08, 2011

A Nightmare on Ness Street

People, I just had one of the most horrifying experiences of my life. Since my life has thus far (and hopefully will continue to be) short on horrifying experiences, you may not consider what I am about to recount as particularly scary. But this episode is still making me shudder and I fear it will haunt my dreams.

I was on the phone with Peter and I noticed that John had picked something up and was gripping it in his slimy little fist with that baby death grip typical of his age group. I went to see what it was to make sure it was something suitable for infant entertainment.

I grasped his hand and I beheld, wrapped in his sweet, precious, little fingers, a full-grown, live cockroach!

I don't love cockroaches, to be sure, but I'm not normally given over to shrieking fits when I see one. However the site of that nasty bug in my unknowing little baby's hand sent me over the edge. I screamed and ran about searching for something with which to annihilate that vermin. Perhaps I should have just taken it out of John's hand immediately. But I certainly didn't want to touch it and in my brief fit of hysteria all I could think was " find paper towel!" that being my usual tool for crushing and disposing of roaches.

When I came back with a paper towel, he had dropped the roach and was crying, no doubt startled by my histrionics. I moved him out of the way and found the bug incapacitated on the floor with his legs scattered around him. Since the cockroach wasn't moving, I took John to wash his hands. Then, instead of my towel method, I employed the vacuum to suck him and all of his limbs into oblivion.

I don't feel that the vacuum is nearly enough. I want to scrub everything with bleach, especially my eyes and brain. Picturing my sweet boy holding that filthy insect in his cute little fingers causes violent horripilation* from my head to my toes! And the image is seared into my memory! I have decided against breaking out the bleach, however, because I don't know that pouring it in my eyes (and everywhere else) would accomplish my purposes.

As I said, I was on the phone with Peter at the start of the ordeal and I abruptly hung up. Afterward, I called him back and explained what had transpired. He was relieved. Based on my squealing, he was imagining that John was going to end up in the ER with horrible burns. His final assessment of his adorable boy catching a germ-infested varmint in his hand was this: "Wow! That boy has good reflexes!"

*Horripilation was one of my words of the day. I only remember about 1 out of 50 of the definitions. So, I use the few that I remember when I can! It's not often that they fit in everyday conversation but horripilation fit the bill in the story, don't you think?

Friday, January 07, 2011

Happy New Year!

I hope you all rung in the new year with panache! I did not. My New Year's Eve was spectacularly quaint (but enjoyable to me). I did something that makes me wonder if I'm actually an 80 year-old in the body of a 20-something. I went to eat tamales and watch fireworks with some friends who were in town (Peter was at work). I think this was a young, hip thing to do (do the kids still watch real fireworks these days? Or is there an app that makes such entertainment obsolete? Or perhaps they do Wii fireworks?). But I came home around 10 pm and greeted 2011 watching The Importance of Being Earnest while crocheting a cowl for a friend. The cowl being her Christmas present that I hadn't yet finished. But I did stay up frightfully late (2 am) so perhaps I'm not quite 80 yet.

January just feels so clean and new! I'm not usually one for New Year's resolutions. But as I've gotten older and taken on more responsibilities I've become more type A (read: crazy). So this year I have a to-do list of bajillions of goals for 2011 (I can scarcely brush my own teeth these days without a to-do list). But my type B self (read: fun and fancy-free) is still alive and well and will ensure that most of them don't get accomplished. It's a balancing act, indeed!

There are three resolutions, that I am taking very seriously. I think that if I carry them out they will add more time to my day and help me waste less time. They are:

1) Get up at 5:30- 6 am (so far it's been 6 but I think 5:30 would be ideal)
2) Follow daily Bible reading plan
3) Check email only once per day after 7 pm when John goes to sleep

#3 is going swimmingly and I am wasting a lot less time. My hotmail account signs out to MSN and I tend to get absorbed in headlines and articles on that sight. No more! I already feel like I'm making much better use of my time.

#2 Also going swimmingly. Not behind yet on this the 7th day of January! The purpose of this daily Bible reading is to read the entire Bible in a year. I've only done this once successfully. But I think it's probably a good thing for me to do every few years. My church is doing a Bible reading by genre plan. You can find it here if you want to join in! Following this plan you can read a smorgasbord of Bible during the week. For example, this first week we read from Matthew, Genesis, Joshua, Psalms, Job, Isaiah and Romans.

#1 Is going to take a miracle. I've done it twice. And it is like clash of the titans in my head every morning. I love my sleep. But those two days went really well! I can get a lot done in those uninterrupted hours. Most importantly, Bible reading.

If you think about me throughout this year you can say a little prayer that, by God's grace and with much miracle working on His part, I'll be faithful to these goals. You can also leave comments like "Leslie, are you keeping your resolutions or are you acting like a pagan sluggard?!".

Happy New Year to you all!