Our Threefold Cord

A threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:12

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Does this feel more like home than home?

Over the weekend, we returned to Indiana as out-of-towners. I had already been back with David for my friend Rachel’s baby shower, but that was only a week or two after we moved. Everything seemed a little more real this time.

The reason for our visit was our friend Brandon’s 30th birthday party. We packed the weekend: Thursday night we arrive and went straight to The Tomato Bar for a late dinner with one of Michael’s ex-coworkers. Friday morning, we did some relaxing and played with David at our host’s house, ran by the steel mill to pick up some $600 ear plugs (that’s another story), and met Rachel for David’s one-year-old photo shoot. Having a photographer for a godmother definitely comes with benefits. She got some fabulous shots of David at Sauerman’s Woods and the Lake County Fairground. After that, it was time to head to her and Brandon’s house to get ready for the party. We reconnected with so many friends that night.

Saturday morning we slept in a little before heading up the beach to dip our toes in Lake Michigan. We hiked on the dunes, climbed Mt. Tom, got our picture taken by some guy doing a magazine story on NWI trails, and got lunch at the state park concession stand. David had a blast pushing chairs around inside the concession building. We put sunscreen on him for the first time (previously, we had just tried to keep him shaded and covered). It was quite the ordeal in the beach parking lot, while onlookers laughed as we kibitzed at each other and slathered white slime all over our wriggling baby. Michael said his hair looked like it was covered in Elmer’s glue. But he didn’t get sunburned, so it was a great success. We sat on our hosts’ back deck and chatted while David had a nap, then it was off to Lowell for a high school graduation party. Michael and David braved a very chilly pool and our catch-up time with friends continued. From that party, we headed to the house of another former co-worker for drinks and conversation fireside on his lovely patio. Another wonderful, late night had us crawling into bed satisfied and exhausted.

Sunday morning we worshiped with our friends at our old church, where we are technically still members. Michael was impromptu voluntold to help serve communion (he used to be an elder). Brandon had asked him to play guitar for the services, but he wouldn’t have had time to make the Saturday practice and do everything we had planned. It was good to be back. After service, David showed off his new walking skills. We finished out our trip with an afternoon of grilling and swimming at Brandon and Rachel’s house. We said our farewells and loaded up the car for the 5 1/2 hour drive home from…home.

We are where we belong, but we won’t ever forget where we were. Til next time, Indiana. It was fun.


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Parties and Pool Time

So that snippet every day thing is a goal. We’re working on it.

We’ve been having so much fun lately! My dad was on vacation the week of David’s birthday and we loved having him home with us. The three of us went to Powder Valley Nature Center on his birthday. He had a great time walking, crawling and climbing around all the stuff in the center, but his favorite part was looking out the windows. We took the umbrella stroller and walked on one of the trails once he tuckered out. He didn’t sleep but was pretty much zoned out for most of the walk. We still managed to get a few cute pictures in the woods though.

Sunday was David’s first birthday bash. It was a great party. Grandpa and Grandma L. generously hosted and we managed to fit quite a crowd. David didn’t put on much of a show with his smash cake. I’m pleased to report that he seems to enjoy staying moderately clean. My mom made and decorated two awesome turtle cakes.

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David’s was made with whole wheat flour and agave nectar, and the icing had avocado instead of Crisco and food coloring. It still wasn’t as healthy as I originally envisioned and it wasn’t as cakey as my mom (and probably everyone else) wanted it to be. But hey, we tried. Our little guy had a great time overall. He is so blessed and loved by so many people.

Today our friend Anita and her kids brought us to the local recreational center on free visitor passes. We had a great time at the indoor pool. David got to sport his swim diaper and new trunks and shirt from Grandma Tami. He likes to be held on his belly in the water and actually tries kicking and swimming a little bit. He enjoyed the water but his absolute favorite part was looking at everything and everyone. He’s a great observer and there was so much to see! After all the excitement, he’s fast asleep. But we may have to go back out and hit up a park when he wakes up. It’s unseasonably cool today – a magnificent 74 degrees! It’s overcast, but not rainy, so no complaints here.

No real news on the house hunt. Our search continues.

I’m taking the baby monitor outside to soak up this weather. How could I pass it up?

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On moving and growing: a very delayed update.

Four months without a blog post …

A lot has happened since I last wrote. Tomorrow is David’s first birthday! Unbelievable. He has two teeth (the bottom two in front) and is starting to walk. He’s not full-on walking, but he can stand very well and can make it several steps without toppling. It still usually ends in a face-plant, but he’s getting better daily. A whole world of new adventures awaits. He loves playing outside and just had his first pool experience, which went swimmingly 🙂 Sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun.

Michael changed jobs in April so we could relocate back to Missouri. We’ve been here about a month now, living with my dad and stepmom and searching for a house. Our feelings about the move are varied: very excited, very sad, very stressed, very blessed. We left behind dear friends who became family, a church where we were deeply involved, and a state that had transformed into our home. We said goodbye to our apartment – the first place we lived together as a married couple and where we had our first child. We traded Lake Michigan’s dunes and beaches for sticky summer humidity. And yet, there’s no place like home, and we are home. David is basking in the love of relatives, especially his three sets of grandparents. He’s also loving play dates with his cousin Lucas, who turns two years old today! They’re so cute together, they really do love each other’s companionship. We hope once we find a house, we can start to truly feel settled. But in the meantime, we’re beyond grateful for the hospitality and rent-free living.

My new plan for this blog is to post a short snippet every day. Long posts apparently just aren’t in the cards right now. Life is crazy hectic with an almost one-year-old living in a semi-childproofed house along with our rabbit and two parrots, trying to catch up with everyone we’ve been missing the past several years, searching for a house, adjusting to Michael’s new job, etc. Maybe someday things will calm down, although I doubt I’ll have ample time to kick back in the near or distant future.

Life is good. Crazy, but good.

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Hey look, two posts in one month!

Remember how I said I was going to sleep more? Maybe what I meant was blog more. That’s a good goal too, right?

David’s big news as of late is that he’s crawling. This is at once exciting and terrifying. We need to get our act together on baby proofing. He has an incredible knack for seeking out things that he shouldn’t get into. He can even crawl while wearing his pajama sleep sack. He’s so curious and excited to discover things. I need to get creative about presenting him with safe things that he can discover, because I hate telling him no and taking him away from all his fun, perilous quests. His new favorite thing in the world is the door stop. He pulls on the spring and watches in fascination as it vibrates. The only problem is that it’s a potential pinch point. And I’m not about to let him put it in his mouth. And he occasionally manages to pull off the little plastic end cap, which is the perfect size for choking.

Happily, his rubber blocks are his other favorite activity right now. We play a game where I see how many I can stack up before he reaches over and knocks them all down. It’s startlingly similar to a game I used to frequently play with the rabbit and her little wooden blocks. David is much more responsive than Bianca. Like the rabbit though, he eventually decides he would rather go find something forbidden to chew on. I love that little goober.

A while back Michael asked me, “does it seem like we feel way too busy and don’t really do that much stuff?” Yes. I think that must be parenthood, combined with the fact that most of the stuff we do involves a 40 minute drive one way, making it a bigger time commitment. That being said, I feel like January is legitimately full. I’m on our church’s call committee and we are in full swing right now, hoping to recommend a third pastor to our congregation in the very near future. This month alone, we are meeting 5 times. We’ve been searching for over a year now. I agreed to be on this committee about a week before finding out I was pregnant. Now that we seem to be so close, budget concerns are bringing into question whether we are actually going to go through with calling a third pastor. But God’s will shall be done, so we continue on, trusting that he will work through us for whatever end he has in mind.

At the end of the month, Michael will begin serving as an elder. We’re still figuring out exactly what duties that role will include, but I’m pretty proud of him. We’re both on the contemporary worship task force, trying to envision what our contemporary worship services can mature into, and to enact ideas in tangible ways. We’re working with the building committee to hopefully realize the dream of having a permanent worship space other than the school gym. But again, the budget constraints may change our plans. We shall see. Yesterday I met with our pastor’s wife to learn the ins and outs of creating the Media Shout presentations for church. Media Shout is a program for running slides, kind of like PowerPoint, that guide our whole contemporary services. (We don’t print out bulletins with the order of service). I used to be in the rotation of people who run the presentations during worship until David was born. Now I will be creating them at home. I hope I will have the time to satisfy my perfectionism. They’ve been asking me to do this for a while, and my “no” finally turned into a “yes.”

I’ve been making good progress with my German through Rosetta Stone. Now I need to get some German pen pals and speaking buddies so I can put it into action. The only way to get conversational is to dive in and use it on a regular basis. That was the great thing about taking German in high school. My friends and I who took it together spoke German to each other and wrote notes to each other in German. It’s so helpful. I have access to plenty of German speakers. I just need to overcome my embarrassment and shyness. You can’t expect to be fluent without practicing, and you can’t practice without sounding like an illiterate fool for a while.

I can’t make it to D.C. for the March for Life this year because of David. I wish I would have gone last year, but I was worried that it would be too much for me while I was pregnant. I definitely could have handled it though. Our community is holding a local March on the same date – January 22nd, the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision that made abortion a nationally protected right. So I plan to bundle David up and take him to the local event. I have been majorly slacking in pro-life activism in the past year. I know I have the excuse of actually bringing forth a life during that time, but that doesn’t help all the children whose mothers gave up hope. I am always burdened with the feeling that I should be doing more. I know I should approach such important work joyfully and wholeheartedly. But thinking about abortion can easily get me discouraged. I feel that all I can do will never ever be enough, and the reality of what is happening is too horrible to bear. But I need to surround myself with optimistic, Christ-centered champions of life who know that our hope is in the Lord and that he calls us to simply go and do. My job is to be faithful. His job is to work miracles. Please pray for me that I will find the best ways to answer the tugging that I feel on my heart.

David has been taking amazingly long naps lately. It seems I might have time to go do something else when I finish this post. What will it be? Work on German? Do the dishes? Update David’s baby book? Grab a quick nap? Decisions, decisions.

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New Year’s Reflections and Goals

As we begin another year, it’s time for the traditional reflection on the past and ambition for the future. Below are some thoughts of mine – a mixture of lessons, accomplishments and goals.

Childbirth is not that scary.

It’s actually amazing and empowering. I delivered David naturally without any pain killers. Yes, it was the most physically painful thing I’ve ever experienced. But it was the most focused I’ve ever been on accomplishing a task. And great for the adrenaline junkie. God designed us to do miraculous things. There’s no goal to go with this one. Having David was definitely the biggest accomplishment of the year, and probably of my entire life so far. And while I pray we will be blessed with more children in the future, right now we’re thinking a little space between kids sounds like a good idea.

Sleep more.

Having a baby helped me realize how precious sleep is, and how often I have squandered the opportunity to rest and refuel. Don’t feel guilty about napping. If your body needs more rest, everything else can wait. Life is brighter and lighter when you’re well rested. These days, that’s not always an option. Yet I still don’t always sleep when I get the opportunity. Crazy. Guess this is a lesson I’m still learning.

Drink lots of water.

I suspect that sleep and hydration are the two biggest health “secrets” that everyone knows and no one takes seriously enough. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that God ties water to life in creation, baptism, etc. It’s so simple and seemingly boring, yet it’s absolutely essential and such an easy way to take better care of yourself. Anyone who has been to a place where clean water isn’t readily accessible realizes how much we take this blessing for granted. I’m in the habit of carrying around a water bottle (not a disposable one). But I need to be refilling it more often. Bottom’s up!

Pray continually.

This is a lesson I’ve long known yet I’m sadly still falling short. How does a life of continual prayer look? It starts by recognizing that it’s not about me – my strength, my wisdom, my desires. I need to surrender to the One who’s running the show. Then I need to trust. Trust that He’s really listening, really cares, really acts. I must admit a shameful thing. There have been times I’ve poured out my worries and been offered the wise advice to pray about it. And my secret knee-jerk reaction was to think that I wanted a real solution, not just a platitude. Yikes. If prayer is not a real solution, then I’m not really praying. God assures us that the prayer of faith has great power, and I need to believe that. And finally, the life of continual prayer is a life consumed by a deep love relationship with my Savior. If I go very long without talking to my husband or my best friend or my parents, I feel the emptiness of something missing. I want to talk to them even if we don’t have any profound news to discuss, just because I love them. It should be the same way with God. If praying is a “have to” instead of a “get to,” I need to examine my heart.

Bible Study is so important.

I just finished reading through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation, so now I can say with confidence that I’ve read every passage of Scripture at least once. But there’s so much more to God’s Word than reading it once and checking it off of a list. This year I want to improve my Bible study on three levels: corporate, family and personal. For corporate Bible study, I’ve been a part of my church’s young adult group since moving here. While I love the group and have found most of my close friendships through it, I feel like it’s not currently edifying my need for study with other believers. That’s probably because the group is in a transitional state. We’ve switched leaders three times in the past few years and have seen the dynamic of the group change countless times as various members come and go. We went from meeting weekly to every other week to our current state of random gatherings broken up by weeks of scheduling conflicts. And that’s pretty much how life works, but I desire a steady weekly group. Our group is also becoming more difficult to attend since it’s on a weeknight, is a forty minute drive from where we live, and goes past David’s bedtime. So my goal for corporate Bible study this year, while still being a part of this group, is to seek a local church group in my town that meets on a weekday. Preferably a women’s group or mother’s group where I can easily bring David without worrying that he’s bothering anyone.

Family Bible studies are a huge challenge right now. I have a devotional book for David from his Aunt Amy and Uncle Josh, but of course he’s too young to understand it yet. Michael and I have tried various materials as a couple but are still searching. But the biggest challenge we face is picking a time to do studies together. In the mornings, he usually gets up with enough time to quickly get ready and leave for work. I’m catching a little extra sleep after several night wakings with the baby. In the evenings when he gets home, we cook dinner, eat, give David a bath and get him settled and off to bed. Then we have about an hour or so to clean up dishes and work on things like updating the budget spreadsheet (him) and practicing German (me). That’s also our unwind time when we might watch a show or veg out on the Internet a little. I guess that hour would be the best time to do it, but it’s difficult when we always seem to be playing catch-up. But I know doing Bible studies together and praying together is so important. We set out to have God at the center of our marriage and we definitely need to be intentional about focusing on Him.

On a personal level, I know I need to spend a lot more quiet time with God. I need to remember that He is the #1 priority, before dishes or cooking or vacuuming or taking care of the rabbit. Even before doing things with David. I think the key is that I definitely need to get more organized with my time. I need to schedule each day and stick to the schedule as much as possible. This is not a strength of mine, but I’m working on it.

It’s hard to work out with a baby.

Except for all the dancing, swaying, rocking and car seat hauling. But getting to the gym is tricky. And so far every time I’ve gone to the gym, all I get to do is walk laps around the track with David riding along in the baby carrier. Our personal record is over 2 hours of track walking. But I’d like to run and do the stair machine and swim laps and do a little resistance training. So this year I want to figure out how to get to the gym without David. Whether that means a babysitter during the day or taking turns with Michael at night, we shall see. I know everyone makes fitness and weight loss resolutions, but here goes anyway. I want to lose all my extra pregnancy weight by summer (25 lbs down already, 5 more to go), and I’d like to be 5 lbs lighter than my pre-pregnancy weight by the end of the year (to get back to my camp counselor weight – oh, the glory days!) I’m not much for dieting. My philosophy is to eat tasty healthy food all the time, eat whenever I’m hungry, and don’t feel bad about worthwhile splurges like ice cream. Exercise will definitely be the main thing I’m aiming to change, although my healthy eating goals have slid lately too.

It’s hard to date with a baby.

Every year I make Michael a calendar for Christmas. Usually I use a lot of couple pictures of us. This year it was almost all pictures of David or of us and David. And I noticed that there are very few pictures of Michael and me together since David’s birth. It’s always one of us with him. The truth is, we’ve only gone out together without him 3 times in the past 7 months. We went out for my birthday in September. We went to a hibachi grill in St. Louis with Michael’s college roommate and his girlfriend in November. And we went out to a nice local restaurant again last month. When he was younger, it was easier to just take him everywhere with us. He often slept all the way through dinner at restaurants in his car seat. But now that he’s older and more curious, he’s a lot more likely to want to get out and see what’s going on, followed by either getting overwhelmed or hungry and deciding he will scream until nursed. It’s also hard to leave him with other people right now. He’s getting into the attachment phase where he sometimes cries just because I walk away while someone else is holding him. Last time we left him with Brandon and Rachel, he refused a bottle and cried almost incessantly til we finished dinner and came back. But I think Michael and I need more date nights. So we’re just going to have to make it work somehow.

Ich spreche Deutsch.

But not nearly as well as I’d like. I’ve been meaning to brush up on and expand my German for years now. It’s especially important now that I want to teach David German from a very young age. Finally, the goal is in sight. My mom and stepdad bought me Rosetta Stone German Level One for Christmas. So far it’s mostly review, but very helpful review. I hope it will be the catalyst I need to help me move forward.

Family heritage needs to be preserved.

Speaking German is part of my family’s heritage. But there’s much more. I really want to put my journalism degree to use documenting our family history. I’ve had this idea for some time now and I need to act on it before it’s too late. I want to sit down with my grandparents on both sides and interview them about their lives and as much detail about our ancestors as they know. I want to do several interviews and get as in-depth as they are willing. Then I want to write it all down to preserve for future generations. Three out of four of my grandparents are still living. I need to do this while I can. This is the year.

Maybe it’s time to settle down.

I like our apartment. It has a nice view and is relatively quiet. The price is great for this area. We’re so blessed to have a comfortable place to live. But I have home-buying fever. David will be crawling any time now and before we know it he’ll be walking. I would love to own a house with a yard and a little more space. I’m thankful for what we have, but I hope this year will be the year that we figure out exactly where we belong and take the plunge. But only God knows what the future holds. I will keep trying to be patient. I know that what we have is already far more than we actually need.

Well, I could go on. But I’ll leave it at this for now. May God guide all of my steps.

James 4:13-17 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

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Snow and Such

We got our first snow accumulation of the season on Monday. November 11th is pretty early for that sort of thing, if you ask me. But I’ll take snow and sunshine over dismal gray and rain. The past few days have been beautiful with the sunlight dazzling on a thin blanket of white. It makes me want to go skiing. Maybe we can make a weekend to one of the Midwestern ski resorts.

Naturally, I had to take David outside and get a few pictures to document his first snow. It went surprisingly well and I got some really cute ones. I put him in the warmest coat he has, which happened to be a coat that was Michael’s when he was a baby. It’s still really huge on David, but once it fits I hope to find an old picture of Michael in it that we can recreate with David. How cool will that be?

Sleep has been hit and miss lately. For about a week, things were getting better. Daylight Savings Time seemed to agree with our little guy. The night we “fell back” an hour, he didn’t wake for a night feeding until 1, which would have been 2 if not for the change. But the last few days for whatever reason we’re back to incessant wakings unless I spend the night with him in the chair. His cold is in the final stages. I hope he’ll do better again when he’s 100% phlegm-free. I’m trying to work on an earlier bedtime, earlier rise time, and longer naps. I think the schedule adjustments are training me as much as they are him. Consistency is paramount, according to every baby sleep book I’ve read. I haven’t had a consistent sleep schedule, like, ever. But we’re learning together.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and Christmas will sneak right up on its heels. Before we know it, it will be 2014. Life continues on at breakneck speed.

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Yucky weather, runny noses and sleep deficit

Outside my window, it’s cold and dreary. The sun has been mostly on hiatus lately. My mum is in full bloom and most of the leaves on the golf course trees have changed. I can’t believe it’s November already.

Halloween came and went last night with no acknowledgement from us. We intended to get David a costume, but never got around to it. We meant to buy pumpkins and carve them. That didn’t happen, either. Michael wanted to cut arm and leg holes in a pumpkin and stick David inside it. I knew it would be hilarious, but couldn’t make up my mind if I was on board. We were invited to a friend/co-worker’s house for a bonfire. Michael worked late, it was rainy, and their power went out so nothing really happened. Fortunately, Halloween has never been a huge deal to me anyway. True, when I see pictures on Facebook of other people’s cute kids in costumes, I feel slightly bummed that David’s first Halloween was just like any other day. So much lost cuteness potential. But on the upside, we didn’t waste any money. I’m sure in a few short years he’ll be begging for exciting costumes and since I’m not crafty we’ll be dependent on overpriced store costumes. Might as well skip it while he’s too young to care, right?

We spent almost half of October in Missouri; probably one of the reasons we were unprepared for Halloween. I was planning on taking David to Missouri to visit family for a week while Michael worked. My grandma’s birthday was one weekend and my stepbrother’s fiancée had her bridal shower the following weekend. At the last minute, we found out Michael’s dad had to have back surgery that week. Michael’s boss gave him two weeks off to help his parents and we were able to go back together.

I had all sorts of plans with family and friends, so David and I stayed mostly with my parents while Michael stayed with his. It was great to have so much time to reconnect with people, but it was also stressful for David to be out of his routine and out of his element for so long. He didn’t sleep well at all most nights and by the end of the trip I think we were both glad to head home. We were only back for a week before it was time to load up the car again and return for the weekend of my stepbrother’s wedding.

David’s sleep kept getting worse instead of better. I checked out a couple library books on various sleep training techniques. I didn’t want to use a method that involved letting him cry, but I was starting to think that might be our most realistic option. I was wearing down quickly with exhaustion and the distant memory of how my little champ used to sleep through the night. Then last night he started getting congested. It’s a little thing, but it’s a game changer for me. Michael has been fighting off a cold and trying his best to insulate us from his germs. But David obviously has it now, with a runny nose, sneezing and occasional coughing. I spent the entire night sleeping with him in the recliner because he could breathe better when I held him with his head slightly elevated. So now I’m thinking not only was the poor little guy readjusting after travel, possibly teething and probably experiencing a growth spurt, but he was also gearing up to fight an illness. I’m glad I didn’t leave him crying! No more scheduling considerations for now – I’m going to give him whatever seems to help the most for now. When he gets better we’ll see how things go and maybe consider sleep training.

Meanwhile, I hope I can catch enough snatches of sleep to keep going.