Introspect

Wandering through my sleeping mind I found a draconian lair,
selfishness was the only thing I found to be hiding there.

Morbidly fascinated, I stepped inside the room,
and found a mirror on every wall with the power to consume.

Every good and thoughtful thing I thought I’d ever done,
was a battle for my motives, and selfishness had won.

reposted from 01/28/2008

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This Guy

This is how long we’ve been in Oregon. Long enough to make an Oregon baby and see him smile. Growing up the majority of our lives in Washington, it still feels strange to think of Oregon as home. I think that when I sleep, I still dream with my home being a small town on the Puget Sound, but slowly that chapter is being pushed a page back as we write Part Three, Chapter One: Oregon.

Oliver is a gentle reminder that we can (and should) plan out our lives, but God determines our steps. He’s a blessing we didn’t know we adventure timeneeded. As I sit here typing while he naps nearby, I’m reminded of an instagram picture I posted nearly a year ago. I snapped a picture of our fingers wrapped together as AJ and I pulled onto the freeway with two sugar-high kids and the rest of the Halloween stash conveniently between our seats. Let the adventure start!  I thought.  Little did I know that adventure meant moving to a new state and having a baby.

I guess I’m still trying to wrap my head around it. Several times lately, AJ and have looked at each other across a messy room while two of our children play a game of tag between the dining room and the living room, and the third child is attempting to give his father a hickey in his constant search for food. Here we are–being all grownup and starting a new life a whole state away from everything we know. I mean, it’s not like it’s unheard of, and both of our parents have done something similar, but still. Sometimes I feel like there just has to be a Moving to a Place You Don’t Know Anyone For Dummies. But for real, this last year was not a whole lot easier than the year before it, and considering the humdinger of a year that 2012 shaped up to be, that’s saying something.

Anyway. The whole point of this blog was to acknowledge Oliver with more than just a few pictures and also to get a blog down in October. Yeah, I know it’s the 26th, but procrastination is kind of my style. Back to Oliver. This time last year, if you had suggested his imminent arrival, I would have kicked you in the shins. Now, I look at his sweet face and I’m so glad I get to know him and be his Mom.  Yes, there’s a whole new dynamic to having more children than arms, and we pretty much live off of leftovers, and right now the little punk is up every three hours at night, but there’s nothing sweeter than coaxing smiles from his cute face at 3am.

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It’s like I have paparazzi, but not really.

So, I know that this will be the third time in nearly as many posts that I’ve posted a blog with a list of things, but that’s just what I feel like doing today, and what Mama wants, Mama gets.  I mean, that’s the dream anyway.

Today I am 38 weeks pregnant. Otherwise known as eight and a half months or 266 days, but let’s be honest–all we really care about at this point is that I only have two weeks left before this child gets an eviction notice. Also, I’m kind of a tough-love style parent. We won’t be doing any of that well-you-can-stay-as-long-as-you-pay-rent-or-maybe-at-least-keep-the-music-down nonsense. No, it’s time for this kid to get out in the real world and get a job…you know, like making people coo over you when you poop with such gusto that it goes up your back. Normal stuff like that. Non-parent readers; it’s okay, you don’t want to know.

So, what’s it like being me at 38 weeks pregnant?

Almost like a celebrity, but not in a good way.

  1. People take notice when I order that americano. Okay, so maybe I don’t have my picture in people magazine because of my coffee consumption, but I definitely have my coffee choices analyzed by a bevy of bored onlookers.
  2. Shameless staring. I mean shameless. In the beginning, the staring is pretty cautious, since there’s always the risk of it just being a cake and ice cream belly, but by now I’ve reached the stage where baby “bumps” are practically public domain and men and women alike watch with casual, open amusement.
  3. Strangers talk to me like they know me, with–trust me–no provocation on my behalf.  Word of advice: You have nothing to say to a pregnant stranger. Nothing. No advice (Make sure you’re getting plenty of rest now, Mom, because just you wait!). No comments on their appearance (Wow! Must be any day now, right? Yeah, I’ve been getting those for over a month).  No reminiscing (Oh, I remember my pregnancies, such sweet memories. Mazel tov, now please go away).  And definitely, no over-compensating compliments because you feel like you have to say something to prove that you’re not awkward (You’re glowing! No, Crazy, I’m flop-sweating out of every pore because it’s 90 degrees out.)
  4. The touching. Ooooh, the touching. You know how when you’re a celebrity and those crazy fans run up to you and try to hug you or touch you just so they can never wash their left thumb again? I touched Brad Pitts elbow with THIS THUMB! Yeah, I don’t really know either, except that I do get a lot of crazy strangers (WHY is it always the crazy ones?) attempting to touch my belly. I say “attempting” because I have no problem saying “Piss off!” taking a step back out of arms reach and leaving them hanging. What? First let me stroke your belly and then we’ll talk.
  5. People either treat me with bored indifference–which is kind of the way I always imagine I’d act around a real celebrity. Yeah, I’m in an elevator with Sandra Bullock right now. No bigs. She can push her floor button or I can…whatevs. Or, they treat me like a sacred cow. Any and all puns intended. Oh! Were you thinking about going through that door back there? Let me run back and open it for you. Can I carry something?”

Yay pregnancy. My next post will be a very graphic retelling of the downright savagery that is childbirth. Just kidding. It will probably be a couple of adorable newborn and sibling photos serenaded by my emotive writing on new life, new love, and the beauty of family. Because by then, I won’t be pregnant.

 

 

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Dear July

I’ve always felt like July was the longest month of the year.  When I think of summer and sprinklers and watermelon and picnics, I just always picture them in July regardless of the spring perfection of June and the sultry heat of August. Naturally, being pregnant the entire month of July hasn’t helped this perception.

In an attempt to  keep this a family blog, I’ll refrain from speaking too frankly about how strongly I prefer being un-pregnant, how tortuously long the second half of this pregnancy has been and also how sincerely uncomfortable I have felt. But–dear Internet– I’m in a better place now. After all, this is August, and I have less than a month to go. I’m pretty sure if I had blogged in July, it would have been uncomfortable reading since there’s just something a little passe when a pregnant woman whines about an integral part of the human experience that has only been done like a hundred billion times.

July was a beautiful month though. Due to some strange time-warp, we celebrated Violet’s fifth birthday. The little girl born with her eyes wide-open has changed from a tiny person who wore preemie clothes at birth, to a tall, athletic, charmer who fills up our house and any drawable surface with art, laughter, and silly faces. Between Violet’s height, coordination, and strength, and Henry’s fearless winner-takes-all attitude, the one-time whimsically sweet games of tackle time with Daddy, have changed to intensely focused challenges where cunning and self-preservation trump any idyllic picture of sprawling on your back in the grass while your sweet children gently tickle you.

July also marked our ten-year anniversary of holding hands. What? It’s a thing, okay? We had gone out on our first date in February of that year but we decided not to start dating until after summer. I’d like to say that our mature reason was so that we could really just get to know each other as friends, but the honest truth is that we wanted to work in the same department as daycamp counselors at Warm Beach Camp, and there was a pretty solid rule about not allowing couples to work in the same department. Fortunately, both of those things happened, and after a summer of working in ministry side-by-side in a truly platonic–okay, and this is the part where no one believes me, but honestly, when we started dating at the end of July, I remember hearing the rumor mill go in overdrive at the sight of us holding hands in public. “Did anyone else see AJ and Pearl HOLDING HANDS?!!” 

Anyway, by the time we actually stated dating, we both knew we would be married. 14 months later, we were. Deciding to marry was a determined leap of faith made up of thoughtful consideration, and disregarding fear by replacing it with trust in God and relying on Him for wisdom.  It sounds very unromantic to say that, but just as love is forged in sacrifice, late nights with sick kids, and seeing someone at their worst and best, so romance in its purest form is simply the soundtrack of two devoted hearts–not whirlwind infatuation and blinding passions.  Pretty sure I’ll never get hired to be a producer on the Bachelor franchise.

Watching the curious shape of our two hands linking together ten years ago, I could never have hoped for or understood the beauty of marriage that I was to discover, or the providence of God’s choice for my spouse. I’ve found marriage to be a race of gratitude, where we strive to be swift to “overpay” a debt of love, and my husband, a joyful discovery.

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ISO: friends who text dirty pictures.

I suppose I should clarify. One of my dearest friends just texted me a picture of her dirty kitchen. I responded with a few of my own pictures and a lump in my throat made up of missing old friends and appreciation for the reminder that my job is taking care of people–not stuff.

True story: I just stopped typing to tell my son to put the shorts that got caught in a potty-break misfire in the laundry basket and then watched him drag them the entire length of my leather couch before placing them on top of the clean laundry piled on the dryer that has been sitting there for three days. I’m sitting here now, because I had too many Braxton Hicks in a row after cleaning the kitchen for the first time since Saturday as well as the fridge that had been the recipient of an unfortunate soy sauce accident about a week ago. The soy sauce had hardened into salty, stubborn, crystals that took a decent amount of elbow grease to remove. Unfortunately, I can’t relax because I know that my kitchen counters are still covered with a devious layer of watermelon juice that has dried into a commercial grade stickiness since it made its debut on Saturday. Of course, this all pales in comparison to the rest of the house I still have to clean so that when the new babysitter shows up tomorrow evening to let AJ and I go out to dinner for the first time since probably September, she’ll think we are a nice, normal, family.

We cannot afford to scare this girl off.

There’s been a surprising number of discontented mothers writing things that make waves on the internet lately. Notably, there was the mom in the UK somewhere who wrote eloquently about her strong aversion to motherhood several months ago, and more recently, a former professional wrote about how much smaller her world has gotten since becoming a mother. Her article was littered with words of regret and angst linked together. However, for every discontented woman who became a mother without counting the costs involved, there’s so many more who live for the validation they can get in the contest to be the perfect mother while only allowing themselves to be judged by the carefully selected things they post on Facebook or their Pinterest-worthy blogs. I hope to fall somewhere in the middle.

The truth is, nothing worth having comes easy. While I have yet to actually look it up to verify, Pinterest says that there’s a quote by Winnie the Pooh about how sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart. He was right; not only do they take over your heart, but also your house, your budget, your car, your clothing choices, your friends, and your early morning coffee time. In a perfunctory glance, your world does seem to get smaller. There’s so much less time for what you want to dream and live and accomplish, when someone is literally always asking for a snack. Nothing good comes without a sacrifice though. It’s like this law of nature written into the genetic code of all creation. There is no birth without pain, no life without inevitable death, and no spring without fall. If becoming a mother makes your world smaller, then I would contend that it becomes deeper. Where once was a rainbow of panorama to explore, now becomes a small pinhole of light like a laser that only travels far because of its intense focus.

If you’re a mother, or if you have one, this applies. Narrowing your focus onto the people in your life will necessitate that you lose the things that distract from these people, and somewhere in the journey you will discover that they were worth it.

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redux

You are reading the wrong blog post. Right now, there are at least three blog posts sitting in my unpublished drafts and I wish you were reading one of those instead of this one. But, they’re boring. Like dictionary boring. The ideas were good but the thoughts came out stagnant and stilted.

You see, there’s this thing that happens when words become real and lift off that screen or page and mix with a part of you that you didn’t know needed stirring. Unfortunately, it’s not something you can just summon. We can’t all pull a Taylor Swift and date people just for the breakup songs they’ll inspire but it’s still important to find ways to pour your heart into something with recklessness. That’s where life is born. Creativity isn’t just an ability that some people have and others don’t–it’s an unbidden freshness that steals through your soul when you let yourself go. It takes many forms. Any act, monotonous schedule, or choice can become creative and transformed from a rut in your mind that you can’t seem to pull the tires out of, to a flat beach and bare feet. I’m not talking about cutting and pasting inspirational words and images into a journal to visualize a better future, I’m talking about pouring the deep parts of your soul into life. There’s no safety in saving yourself for something that draws you out and inspires you. Instead, you’ll find that the well in your heart sinks deeper into a stoney void that less and less can reach.

Today I pour myself into slicing apples. I pour myself into finding flip-flops and turning on bathroom sinks for people that can’t yet reach, and reading that Mo Willems book about the flying pig…again. I pour myself into being the banner bearer for good attitudes, playing nice and not hitting when someone takes your car (unless it’s a real car, and even then…maybe not such a good idea). I don’t just pour myself into being a Mom, but also just like you; I dream of the future, mistakenly hoarding my hopes for tomorrow and forgetting that yesterday, today was one of my tomorrows.

Inspiration exists but it has to find you working. –Pablo Picasso

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