a prayer for my boy

Little man I love you so. I love the way that you stretch and spin methodically and thoughtfully, quietly testing your strength and your boundaries as you grow into your shrinking space. I love your hours of silent sleeping and your moments of slowly coming awake. I love the thought of getting to know your boyish newborn face in just a few weeks. I love the thinking and planning for your first year – all those amazing changes and milestones waiting for us just around the corner.

Your daddy and I pray that you’ll be strong and healthy, not necessarily in the physical things (although that’s always a bonus) but primarily in your spirit and soul. Content with what you have but always hard working. Kind towards your family (which is always the hardest), and a defender of the weak and vulnerable. We pray that you’ll be strong and gentle. Honest and gracious. A peacemaker and a fighter. Wholesome and spirited.

Lucky you, you have a million uncles and you can learn something from each of them. You have two grandpas who will go fishing, show you how to cut and stack firewood, travel down the street or around the country, and answer all your questions. If you watch them all you’ll learn how to take care of your things, your people, your self, your work and your faith..

Lucky you, you have a few aunts who will cuddle and kiss you until you’re much too old to be cuddled and kissed. They’ll show you what a strong and tender woman looks like. And you have two grandmas who will bake all day for you, show you how to tie your shoe and read a book, make your bed, and answer all your questions. If you watch them all you’ll learn how to use your mind, your heart, your hands, your words and your soul.

Even luckier you, you have your daddy. Out of all of them, he’s the best one to watch. He’ll be your first friend and your biggest fan. He’ll show you what it means to do good work. You’ll learn how to do little things that matter, like brushing your sister’s hair or getting flowers for your mom. You’ll find out what it means to use your strengths and talents in your job. He’ll teach you how to play basketball, soccer and chess. He’ll show you how to be curious and adventurous about everything but to pick a few favorite things to be especially good at.

Your sister, too. Oh, little brother, you’ve got a fierce and sweet girl in your life from the very beginning. She will love you with tender kisses and a firm grasp on your unsteady shoulders. She may knock you down a few times. She may be jealous and confused about her feelings. She might even say strong words that make you cry when you’re older. But I’m almost certain that she will be your best gift in life. She is passionate, determined, strong, lovely, playful, smart and thoughtful. She gives the best hugs and the biggest smiles. She is sunshine on cloudy days, a chocolate chip when you expected a raisin, and bare feet on warm grass after a long winter. You will love her. I’m so excited to watch you together.

And then there’s me, your momma. I don’t know what will actually make it from me to you but I have a few things I hope to pass on. A love of libraries and learning. Inner hope that doesn’t depend on circumstances, but on God’s character. An appreciation of small graces like a good donut, a view of the lake, or a poem. Construction of all kinds of forts, indoors and outdoors. The ability to enjoy quietness and being alone. Perseverance and perspective. Enough confidence to be an encourager and not a comparer. Creativity and discipline. Just kidding – you won’t be learning discipline from me, unfortunately. Hopefully you can learn that from someone though. It’s super helpful when you’re an adult.

I’ve been thinking of these verses when I think about you lately:

Psalm 19:14: “May the words from my mouth and the thoughts from my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my defender.”

Proverbs 31:8-9 “Speak out for the one who cannot speak,
    for the rights of those who are doomed.
Speak out,
    judge fairly,
        and defend the rights of oppressed and needy people.

That’s the kind of man I’m praying you’ll be. May we be the kind of family that gives you a safe place to be angry, a nurturing place to try to new things, and a loving place to learn how to be generous.

Boy

2016 is here!

I love this time of year when everyone is doing “best of” and “countdown” shows and blog posts. It’s fun to look back over the year and remember the highlights.

I’ve not been good at keeping track of favorites, but these are a few that come to mind right away.

  • Simply Tuesday (book) — I’m 3/4 through this one and I feel like I need to buy a copy for myself instead of borrowing it from the library, just to laminate some pages and put them around the house. There’s a certain portion of the book that I’ve read over and over because it hits such a good spot in my soul. It’s inspiring, healing, freeing and empowering. The whole book is full of things to re-read again and again.
  • Jessica Flannigan on The Lively Show (podcast) — This episode with its theme of being “intentionally average” really stuck with me.  Her encouragement to focus on a few important things (and be okay with average instead of amazing) was perfect for me. I listened to it in the same season that I heard Andy J. Miller’s episode Do Less More Better and I was really digging the theme of specializing and using my time & energy on only the things that matter. I think I read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” around that time too. Now that I think about it, I did start out 2015 with the goal to Just Do One Thing. Sounds like I might as well hang on to that goal for 2016 too.
  • Enjoying the Small Things, Micha Boyett, Orangette, Addie Zierman and Sprouted Kitchen (blogs) — all of these women have been staples in my soul-food diet. They always make my day better.
  • Mommy-daughter dates (family) — These were a big highlight this year. I love taking my girl to get a snack or drink and bringing it to a park or the boardwalk, or sitting in the car by the water, depending on the weather. We’ve had so many little dates and it gets more and more fun the older she gets. Right now she loves to dance around on the wood floor of our favorite cafe after she’s done with her muffin or cookie, and while we’re there she’s the official greeter to anyone who comes or goes.
  • Time as a family in Europe (travel) — Sometimes I can’t really believe that we all made it to Vienna and Split last year! I love thinking about the new memories we made and the good conversations we had with friends. The word that summed it up for me was “encouraging.” It was definitely worth every penny and every minute I spent working for it.  I can’t wait to go back again some time with just the two of us so we can have different adventures and see new things without the special needs of a small traveler and a pregnant woman.
  • Fun at work (career) — Tidy Little Office had a great second year and I felt like I found a bit of a routine. I love this job so much. This year I’d like to get my schedule a little more solid and dependable, maybe in the fall when baby boy has some structure.
  • Baby boy! (family) — Another milestone for 2015. We really were looking forward to either a boy or a girl (and my first reaction to the boy was a small moment of panic). I’m so glad we were able to find out this time! It’s awesome to feel him moving around (so active but not nearly as strong as the Bluebird) and to talk to him as my son – he’s usually “little buddy” or “Lefty” or “brother.” Still haven’t landed on an official nickname. But we’re so excited to have a boy in the mix with Ana and I’m pretty sure she’s gonna love growing up with a brother.
  • Less debt (finances) — Even with the big trip and the untimely death of our recently purchased truck, we still managed to pay off a lot of debt. It’s exciting to think about the freedom we’ll have next year when we’re not putting so many of our resources into paying it off. Good Cop is an amazing partner when it comes to that stuff.
  • Deeper friendship (relationships) — Going through a dark valley with a friend really brings out the truth about your friendship. 2015 brought an unexpected death of a son within our circle of close friends, and it changed all of us. I ended the year feeling grateful that I have friends who’ll be there for me in the hard times, and with new memories of how God is there with us in the darkness.

There are so many highlights that come to mind the longer I think about it, but I’ve been working on this post for six days already so it’s time to move on. Welcome to the new year!

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Dinner prayers, yeah

Bluebird, darling, you’re in another charming stage. You’ve really mastered the art of responding to questions or comments with a “yeah” or “no” depending on how you feel (or how you guess you’re supposed to respond based on our context). It’s pretty adorable to see you thinking for yourself and replying out loud with the right tone of voice. This afternoon you were talking with Daddy about your morning with me and you replied to each question so casually, laying on your tummy kicking your heels together, all grown up. But you still have a sweet baby voice and way of saying your words. We love all of it.

For a long time now Daddy has been taking your hand when we pray for dinner. This week for the first time you initiated it as soon as he sat down in his chair. I completely misread your outstretched arm and thought you were reaching for something on the table. Daddy knew right away. He grabbed your hand and my hand and we prayed for dinner. It was one of those milestone moments for us as parents and we both smiled so big. You might not understand what we’re doing but you know that we always do it together. We can’t wait until you have the words to pray out loud with us.

Another milestone moment came this morning when I asked you for a Kleenex. I didn’t think you’d actually do it, because I didn’t think you knew what a Kleenex was. But you stopped, looked around the room, and walked right over to pick one out of the box! Then you brought it to me! It was such a little thing but it was so cute (and so helpful). I love the ways you’re starting to understand and do things on your own.

In just two days we get to find out if you’re getting a little brother or a little sister. We’re so excited! If it’s a boy it’ll be fun to learn a whole new way of looking at the world and I’ll be so excited to get little boy clothes. If it’s a girl it’ll be fun to watch you two and see how you’re the same and different, and to see another baby in the clothes that were so cute on you. Either way we’re happy that we get to add this new person to our family. I think you’ll handle it as well as any two year old can; you’ll probably find it hard to give up your one-on-two time with us and you’ll probably go back to acting babyish in some ways. But I hope there are some things you enjoy about the baby right away. Maybe you’ll like bringing us a clean diaper, or maybe you’ll like sharing a stuffed animal. I’m almost certain you’ll love pointing out the baby’s eyes, chest, and belly. You really love naming those body parts on yourself and us.

You know what else has been amazing lately? Your potty learning is awesome! Today you had just three diapers for the whole day. That is incredible. You don’t have any trouble going potty in new places, and as long as we initiate the visit to the bathroom at the right time, you’re great at keeping your diaper dry and clean. You even had dry diapers for both naps yesterday. I’m so proud of you. We spend a lot of time reading books on the potty and you love it. When we give you high fives or clap our hands after you go, you just beam. You’re adorable. I’m a little torn over when to switch you to little-girl undies — part of me thinks you’d like the freedom and simplicity of them, but part of me knows that you’re not quite coordinated enough yet to pull your pants down anyway so I might as well enjoy your cute diapers for a while. Maybe when you start initiating the bathroom visits we can make the big switch. For now you can still hang on to that little bit of baby.

The Christmas tree is up and you definitely have favorite ornaments. The little nest with three blue eggs is often in your hands instead of on the tree. You just love taking off all the ornaments you can reach and piling them on the couch. This week you learned to say a new word: “mess.” As in, don’t make a mess of the dogs’ water, don’t make a mess with the ornaments, don’t put your food in your hair and make a mess. You say it so confidently. “A mess!” Yes, dear. A mess. Please don’t make a mess. Please help me clean up the mess.

We can’t get enough of you, little girl. You have our hearts always and forever. Thanks for loving us back. Your kisses are the sweetest.

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A new life

Bluebird arrived two weeks early, a big surprise for all of us except Good Cop (who’s been predicting a 2-weeks-early arrival since the beginning). We have a daughter!

Bluebird

We’re so in love, so grateful, so surprised that it was a girl all along, and so happy that she’s here and she’s ours forever.

We named her Anastasia Renee after some of the strongest and best women we know. Both of my grandmas were named Ann, and my mom’s middle name is Rae. Anastasia means “resurrection” and Renee means “reborn,” and it felt like those were very fitting meanings for this baby after the two miscarriages. She gives life a new meaning!

She was born two days before my birthday, so leaving the hospital with her was the best way to celebrate my birthday ever. I don’t think I can top that. It’s been a crazy 10 days adjusting to her schedule and rearranging life but I think we’re getting the hang of it! I’m soaking up all of it, even the round-the-clock nursing and little sleep. These days are flying by so fast. She is such a gift.

Dear Bluebird

Yesterday was our first Mother’s Day together. Your daddy got me the perfect card, a Starbucks gift card (because I’ve been asking for that, anticipating the sleep-deprived days coming up), and the best surprise ever: a photo book of your life story so far. It is beautiful and charming and I can’t wait to have daddy read it to you. You are so lucky!

You “dropped” on Friday and it’s been so much easier to do normal things like eat, breathe, plant seeds in the garden, and do laundry. My back feels a lot better too. The only problem is that now my feet are so swollen by mid-day. It’s getting hard to find shoes that I can wear to work, especially with the temperatures getting more like late spring should be. I want to wear skirts and dresses but you make my feet unhappy if they’re in sandals or flip flops. It’s okay though. I know you’re getting uncomfortable too. You have a lot less room to wiggle now that you’ve dropped, and you seem pretty cramped. You sleep harder and longer now, especially during the night and into the morning. I feel you most often in the afternoon until I go to bed at night. That’s a pretty good schedule if you want to keep it up. You usually wake up when daddy gets home from work and you hear us talking about his night, and then you do your morning stretches when I eat breakfast. I think it’d be great if you would be awake for daddy when he gets home every day so he can see you.

I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking about your stardust siblings and all my friends who are wanting to be moms. Mother’s Day is a hard day for a lot of people. I thoroughly soaked up the joy of it, though! Knowing how precious it is, and how elusive it can be, made it even sweeter. Even strangers at the grocery store said “happy Mother’s day” to me when I was getting some things after church, and that was so strange and wonderful.

We just have a couple more weeks to be this close. Then, the next adventure starts! If all goes well, you’ll be here to celebrate Father’s Day with us out here in the big world. That’s a very happy thought. I already know what I want to get your daddy for that day but I have a feeling you’ll be really stiff competition for his attention.

Love you, birdie. We’re ready when you are!

Momma

The final month

So much has happened in the last few weeks! We had our first shower, got the crib set up and the nursery cleaned out, Good Cop heard the Bluebird’s heart beating just by laying on my tummy, and spring arrived! There are two hyacinths and a tulip from the yard on the table. Smells delicious!

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The most note-worthy thing from the last few weeks was that my sister flew across the country to surprise me and be here for the first shower. It was amazing! She and Good Cop had been working on it for a while and they surprised the whole family. It was Easter weekend too, so we all got to be together for the holiday. I still can’t believe she did all that traveling just for two days here. We had an incredibly lovely and memorable evening together eating take-out Chinese in the car at the beach and then painting little birdhouses from Joann Fabrics to put in the nursery. I’m so glad she had a chance to see the Bluebird now while I’m still pregnant, cause this is a pretty special time and I’m not sure how many times I want to do this again!

The Bluebird has been healthy and happy as far as I can tell, growing a lot and moving all day. Thankfully he or she doesn’t move much at night and I rarely wake up because of that. I wake up for plenty of other reasons. I’m also getting a sore mid-back any time I sit down for more than a few minutes. It’s good incentive to get up and move, but it makes life interesting in situations when sitting is the norm (like work, church, meetings, eating, driving). Eating is a pain but I’m always hungry. Braxton Hicks contractions are coming around more often. My legs, feet and hands are swollen all the time. I’m also getting generally uncomfortable for no apparent reason sometimes, and the only thing I can figure is that the Bluebird must be sitting or pushing on something that doesn’t want to be pushed or sat upon. But it’s all good. I can handle this for another five weeks (or six or seven if I go late).

Everything is becoming more and more real. The baby-flood on Facebook has continued all month and each time I see a new one I wonder what ours will look like. We’ve started packing the hospital bags and I just washed the car seat so we can put it in the truck. Having the crib set up and all the baby clothes and blankets washed makes me feel better about being ready. I’m still hoping to make a few freezer meals and get a few things done around the house, but for the most part I think we’d survive pretty well if Bluebird is an early bird. Good Cop has been amazing about getting things done and making me as comfortable as possible. We’re both realistically excited about all the changes coming up – we know it’s impossible to prepare for it and we’ll just take it as it comes. We’ve made a lot of good memories lately, though. We’re soaking everything up. There have been so many big changes in the three years since we first met, but this one will be the best so far. Can’t wait!

Second due date

Yesterday was the due date for our second stardust baby. I feel a bit sorry that I didn’t think of it at all until I woke up this morning – I’d been thinking of it for the last month off and on, and thought about it a lot this weekend, but yesterday we had a normal busy day and I was more caught up in finally being 8 months along with the Bluebird. There’s been a baby boom around here for about three weeks and every time I see another pic on Facebook I think “That’s what our second baby would look like right now.” It’s not sad though. Just makes me stop a minute and think about how life would be different with either or both of those first two babies here.

Also, today is the first day of a biannual writing conference that I always go to and last time I was on pins and needles because I thought I might be pregnant. I was just extra late that month, but I vividly remember walking around campus wondering if our lives were going to change. We’d only been married four months so it was a little overwhelming, but it was also the catalyst that made me feel comfortable with adding a baby to the mix, and we started trying soon after that. It’s going to be interesting to walk around campus over the next three days being eight months pregnant and think about everything that happened in the last two years. Lots to think about!

Life is beautiful. All of it, even the hard things.

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One of the orphan calves at my parents’

 

A family nose!

Bluebird got daddy’s nose!

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The ultrasound earlier this week was all good but we didn’t get any great pics of the baby. We did get this straight-on look at the face, though, and I love it. The next day I realized that the nose looked familiar. Sure enough, it’s from Good Cop. That is the coolest thing ever. And yes, the right hand is still next to the face, like we always see it. I sleep with my arm under my head, so maybe that’s where they get it.

Apart from being a little bigger than average (about 3 lbs. 10 oz. and 62nd percentile), everything seemed to be normal. Bluebird’s head was down on my left side. I don’t know how long he or she had been that way but it would explain a couple good kicks to the ribs last week. They’re really getting stronger.

We signed up for our prenatal class at the hospital next weekend. Amazing to be 30 weeks already and almost into the single-digit countdown! Yesterday I noticed a coupon with an expiration date after the baby will be here; little things like that make it more real! We also started putting our registry together and making invite lists for the showers. The list of things to do before June 4 seems to be growing! Trying not to stress out, cause I know some of it just won’t get done and it’ll be fine. But 10 weeks suddenly seems very short. Trying to enjoy every day and make the most of these last few weeks! It would help if the weather would give us a break and finally let go of winter. The huge flakes of snow this morning were almost cruel. Come on, spring! We’ve got work to do around here.

Oh, good! Our neighbors across the street just got back from Florida! Definitely a sign that warmer weather is on the way! They left in January and I hadn’t talked to them since November-ish, so they don’t know there’s a baby coming to the neighborhood. Surprise!

We’re melting!

It’s finally warming up over here! There’s a big puddle in our driveway and the skunks are out (I smelled three of them on the drive to work). And I saw a bluebird in our backyard this morning! The dogs can’t get enough of the melting snow and unburied treasures. Looks like we’re supposed to get a quick deep-freeze and more snow tonight but I think the upward trend is here to stay. It’s amazing to walk out of the house without boots, hat, scarf and gloves!

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We’ve been picking away at house projects and I’m getting my feet wet in the world of virtual assistants, since that seems like a logical option for the next season of life with kids. Interesting and scary stuff! There are so many unknowns about the next year; it’s hard to imagine what daily life will look like in a few months. In this case I’m kinda glad to be an older parent. I have a lot of big changes under my belt already, so at least I know how I handle change in general. That makes me feel better. I know that it’s normal for me to experience change by being sad or overwhelmed easily, so I won’t be caught off guard if that’s how it is with this big change. I also know that eventually I get back to feeling like I can handle life without crying at the drop of a hat.

Tomorrow is the start of the third trimester (yay!) and at my appointment today I was measuring a few weeks ahead of schedule so we get to have an ultrasound again! Can’t wait to see how much the Bluebird has grown and changed in the last eight weeks, ’cause I can definitely feel a difference in the way he or she moves and how much space they take up. Often it’s a lot more like a swipe or a slow drive-by rather than a quick punch or kick, and there are times that I can feel a particular hard spot where they’re pressing their head or foot or elbow or something. It’s still so strange that we actually have a healthy baby growing here. I don’t think it’s entirely sunk in that it all worked and it’s unfolding like it should be. I hope that the wonder and surprise never entirely goes away.

Winter sun!

The sun was out almost all day today! I can’t remember the last time that happened. Probably November. The last two months I’ve been happy to see the sun at all, even for 30 seconds. Today was amazing! I took a walk to the bayou and saw that one of the houses on the other side had shoveled an ice rink. That would be fun. This was a great winter for ice skating and skiing and there were more than a few times that I wished I could do either of them without worrying about falling. Everything is more attractive when it’s off limits. Next year! Now we’re all bracing for a short thaw (50 degrees!) next week and flooding.

We got a crib yesterday from some friends! It’s perfect. I can’t wait to sand it down and paint it – I’m thinking about a cool mid-tone gray, with white trim. I can’t wait for the weather to warm up so I can work on it outside.

Had another good OB appointment this week and got a prescription for the heartburn. Looking forward to a little less acid. Next week or the week after I have to do the glucose thing, yahoo. Rite of passage for our generation. But other than that, everything was good and we’re grateful! Sweet sixteen (weeks to go). It’s been fun to feel the Bluebird get stronger this week. And I did yoga at church for the first time, hoping it might help my hips, legs and pelvis not hurt so much, and it was awesome. Looking forward to doing that again whenever I can.

Valentine’s Day was nice and relaxed over here. We celebrated on Thursday night since Good Cop works this weekend, and we just stayed home and made two new recipes for dinner. That was a fun date – we’ll have to do that again soon. I love working together in the kitchen and I’m still so thrilled that our house had an updated kitchen! Those ten years in apartment-sized work spaces make me appreciate this one even more.

It’s a quiet night over here and I’ll be catching up on laundry and Downton Abbey, then heading to bed early. Baptisms tomorrow at church and our niece’s first birthday party in the afternoon. Should be a great Sunday! Here’s a handful of sunshine for anyone who needs it!