Friday, September 28, 2012

{ Grasp }

Five Minute Friday I was petrified of committing to Five Minute Friday: Set a timer for five minutes and just write. Use the prompt on Lisa-Jo's blog and just go. But it has been good for me, so good for me, to write about things from a perspective other than "this is what we've been up to lately." So here I am again: Five Minute Friday!


I've gotten lazy, and I'd like to blame it on motherhood and caring for an infant 24/7, but maybe I should be a little more honest and acknowledge it goes back farther than that {can I blame it on pregnancy? work? getting married?}. I've gotten lazy about my time with You, Jesus, and it screws up my days and my mind and my life.

I don't fully comprehend the ramifications of choosing to cook dinner or fold laundry or fritter away time on Facebook instead of seeking Your face. But I know some of the cumulative effects...the dryness, the bone-deep, parched, desperate-for-water feeling that pierces my soul. I grasp at springs of water that turn into mirages. You know them. You know how easily I am fooled by their shimmering promises of hope and rest and peace apart from You.

I spend so much time reaching for the wrong things, trying to find what only You can provide anywhere but with You.

So now I come to you, feeling weak and ashamed and embarrassed to acknowledge the futility of what I spend so much time doing. Take my hand--reach for me--pull me up out of the hole I've dug with Your strong grasp.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

{ Birthdays }

Mike's birthday was on Sunday. I won't tell you how old he is because he thinks he's "old" now. {To which I say: You're not old till you're older than ME!}
I got up early to make him a big birthday breakfast: scrambled eggs, bacon, blueberry waffles {total copout: frozen Aunt Jemima waffles!}, OJ, and coffee. We went to church, and then headed up Chuckanut Drive to Bellingham. It was a perfect fall day: sunny, hazy from all the wildfires in the Pacific Northwest, and mild. We had lunch at Bayou on Bay--mostly I just ate sweet potato fries--then we went across the street to Woods Coffee and enjoyed coffee and baby snuggles in the sunshine. If you've been reading my blog for long, you probably recognize this as one of our favorite a matter of fact, this day was almost identical to our last Bellingham date in March, only this time Lainie was no longer in utero. ;-)
:: Mike's Aunt Marian knitted the sweater, hat, and booties ::

:: Daddy kisses!! ::
On the way home, we stopped at one of the lookouts and braved a rocky, precipitous trail on the side of a cliff with our infant daughter. Living on the edge, I tell ya! The sun was about to set, and it was this gorgeous hot pink/orange color because of all the smoke in the atmosphere...breathtaking!

And today is Lainie Rae's three-month birthday! How is she already three months old?!!
Lately she LOVES diaper changes! Even in the middle of the night after eating, she goes from sound asleep to grinning, animated talking, and pure excitement when I change her diaper. {Thankfully she falls asleep again almost as quickly as she wakes up.}
Speaking of animated talking: We have a chatterbox on our hands. The minute you make eye contact and start talking, she just lights up and participates with all sorts of noises. She talks to me allllllll the time, and it cracks me up because most of her noises are little dinosaur/alien sounds. Almost like chirps. It's so cute.
Last Saturday we went to Lainie's first wedding. Unfortunately she and I missed the ceremony because she had to eat right now, but at the reception, she and Mike danced together and then I joined them for a "family dance." She was a little awestruck by all the activity, and the loud music overwhelmed her after a bit, but all in all I thought it was pretty successful for a three-month-old!
:: Drooling. It happens. ::
A couple days ago I was desperate to vacuum--postpartum hair loss is no joke and my hair is EVERYWHERE--so I put Lainie in the Ergo and started vacuuming. She fell asleep. Just too boring, I guess.
:: doesn't she have the longest eyelashes?! ::
She's getting really good at this long middle-of-the-day nap...I swaddle her after third breakfast and she usually sleeps at least three hours. There's almost always a shorter {1-1.5 hour} nap in the late afternoon/evening as well.
On Tuesday we passed a big milestone: Lainie fell asleep, by herself, in her crib in her room for the first time. I've been working on getting her to fall asleep for her naps by herself in her cosleeper for the last week or two, but so far her nursery has been far too exciting for anything as mundane as sleep. My hope is to get her to fall asleep for the night in her room in the next week or two, even if she doesn't spend the whole night there.
This week I was finally able to start moving her into size 0-3 month clothing--and she's 13 weeks old! YAY!!!! I don't know how much my little Peanut weighs, but newborn clothing is officially too small. AT LAST. Dude, the magazines tell you not to even buy newborn clothing "because they will only wear it for a few days"--ha! The funny thing is, there's still extra girth in the newborn clothes, it's that she's way too long for them now. I think she's growing up, not out.
:: "See how much too long I am?" ::
Drooling...yes. Lots and lots of drool and bubbles. The hand-gnawing I mentioned recently? Still makes an occasional appearance {see below}.
One day recently, in her bouncy chair on the dining room table, she realized the ceiling fan blades were moving. That was fascinating for quite a while.
I'm sure there are half a dozen adorable things I'm forgetting to mention, but if I don't finish this post up now, it will be days before it's published.
Happy Birthday to my two loves!!!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

{ In Which There is Emotional Turmoil }

Random thought of the week, while snapping photos of Lainie at the beach: If I had a smartphone with a data plan and stuff, I bet I'd blog a lot more. I could just take pictures with my phone and upload them to my blog. None of this "create folder on computer, find download cable, find camera, download photos from camera, edit photos in Picasa, upload to blog, write cute post" business. I was as shocked to hear myself think that as you are to read it, Mike.
This week we looked at houses. More houses. Houses here and houses there. We've never "house-hunted" before. After we got engaged, we only looked at a couple condos {by ourselves, no realtor} before deciding to buy this one, and a friend who was a realtor at the time acted as our agent. Our priorities were different and our list of needs and wants was much shorter then, too. The thing that has surprised me the most so far is how sobering it is to look for a home. A large part of that is realizing the enormity of the decision: We commit to buy this house. To pay a lot of money for this bit of real estate. To live in this community. To say yes to this commute for Mike and these home improvements. We go in a home, and I immediately imagine myself living there...which is surprisingly hard to do. Why would I want to live here when I already have a nice, cozy, full-of-homeyness-home? I try to imagine cooking meals in this kitchen, sleeping in this bedroom, playing with Lainie on this living room floor, and it feels like brain surgery. For reals. Does anybody else have this problem?? And I'm not even thinking {yet!} about saying goodbye to the sweet little treehouse that has seen all our newlywed years, my first pregnancy, Lainie's infancy...all the painting and decorating, watching Hulu on laptops, our first Christmases and dinner parties and so many sweet memories.
If those aspects of house-hunting are sobering, the prices are downright discouraging. I know the Seattle area is one of the most expensive places in the country, but seriously?! It's hard to think of spending almost $300k on a house that needs work. And I don't think that's just me being persnickety. The mind boggles.
If only we didn't want to have a large family and thus require at least a three-bedroom...
I've been struggling with feeling like this is a deadly serious decision and we are either going to get it right {slim chance} or horribly, horribly wrong {entirely possible}. After our second round of house-looking, I went down to the beach with Lainie. I had a headache and really didn't want to make the effort to pack her up and go out. I forgot how windy and cold it is on the waterfront; we were both underdressed. Thankfully Lainie had fallen asleep in the car and was perfectly fine with two blankets {that's all I had with me} snugged around her in the stroller. I had this notion that I was going to read or journal or have this deep conversation with God about what lies ahead for us, but instead I just stared and did nothing. Tide out, noisy birds, lots of boaters, sun blinding white, kids shrieking on the playground.
:: it was bright as the Second Coming in reality, too ::
Lainie woke up pretty quickly. Once she got over her initial shock at the wind--I think it makes her feel like she can't catch her breath--she was utterly delighted to be out. She smiled and cooed nonstop, excited to look at everything and "talk." She's often upset to be in her carseat, and usually takes awhile to warm up to new situations, so her immediate, sustained pleasure and interest in our surroundings was a total kick for me.

:: happily watching clouds, trains, kids on the playground ::

:: loving our little adventure!! ::
 As we meandered down the beach, hopping from park bench to park bench, I had a growing awareness of Jesus' presence and Him telling me
Rest in this: right here, right now.
Trust Mike to make the right decision for your future, your home, and your family.
Rest in his leadership and his relationship with Me,
and then tell him you trust him to make those decisions.
Trust me. Trust Mike.
It wasn't audible words, just a really strong impression that I simply need to trust Mike to make these decisions and tell him so. Not in the "don't have an opinion, don't give him any input, don't prayerfully weigh the pros and cons" sense, but in the "I am confident that Jesus is directing us, and the final outcome will be exactly where Jesus wants us to be--it's not up to me to figure this out" sense.
It was a lot like when I knew I needed to let Mike decide what to name Lainie. Only this time I'm telling y'all so you can keep me accountable if you see me freaking out about houses and neighborhoods and such.
That night I told Mike. As he pointed out, it's not really a big deal, because it is exactly how I should approach this topic anyway. And yet it is a big deal, because it is so very opposite of the way my unruly heart wants to handle these unknowns. If you think of it, pray for us over these next weeks as we determine whether or not to move, where, and when. It's a lot harder emotionally, I think, than either of us was expecting; we have such close friends here, such an awesome community, and we really really love our church family. Neither of us is terribly excited about moving. Yet our good God is writing His story with our lives, and we know that wherever we are, we can rest in His care.

Friday, September 21, 2012

{ Wide }

Here we go again: Five Minute Friday! The challenge: Set the timer for five minutes and go. Unscripted. Unedited. Real. Get your fingers dirty and type!

Five Minute Friday

Word of the Week: Wide

I'm like one of those horses in period films, blinders on, unable to see anything but what's immediately straight ahead of me. The sad thing is, so much of the time I don't even wonder what's on the other side of those blinders. I assume the little bit of road in front of me is all there is in the world.

I stand outside a vacant home, cheery red door and narrow front porch, peer in windows at dingy carpet and old linoleum and my heart sinks. Will we live here? Do we have to live somewhere like this if we want to buy a home? A few minutes later, Mike and our realtor show up, and Mike is all joy and excitement, pointing at what he can fix here and how he will make that better. "I love this place!" he declares with the gusto of a lover, and inside I am shocked.

The next day I go to the windswept sunny beach to pray about this. Lainie naps in her stroller, and I hear God's gentle words. This life God has for us, this life God has for me, it is big. It is wider and fuller and more varied and beautiful than I imagine in my little blinder-bound world. It may include awful wallpaper and a kitchen that needs to be totally redone, yes; but what of it? God's view of our house hunt is the wide-angle one, the long-distance vision, the eyes that see not only further down the path, but all the options around me too...He gently lifts the blinders and says, Trust me, daughter. I have you in My hands.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

{ A Post Without Photos }

Crazy, I know. But I haven't downloaded photos from my camera in a while, and if I do that...that's all that will happen tonight, and I won't write a post at all. So pictureless will have to do for now.

Lately the busyness has kicked up a notch in my life: manageable, but definitely more activities than the first couple months of Lainie's life. I'm slowly figuring out the balance that works best for us, though I'm sure that will constantly shift as Little Miss grows. She will be 12 weeks old tomorrow--how is that possible?! Tonight as I was rocking her to sleep and praying for her, I got all teared up thinking about her future way can I imagine her growing up and leaving home and getting married. One day at a time, Nikki, one day at a time...

Recently I realized I don't have a baby book. Doh. I'm going to get one, but that's my current excuse for why this blog is functioning mostly as a recording device for Lainie's development. In the last week or so, she has started taking pretty consistent morning naps, falling asleep between 10 and 11 and sleeping for 3-4 hours. It's heavenly! Around the same time she also started to enjoy being held facing out. She's always been our little observer, intently studying her surroundings, but this seems like such a big girl thing.

Yesterday Lainie started gnawing on her left hand like mad. A few times she managed to get just her thumb in her mouth, and would very cautiously suck a couple of times before proceeding to shove in as much of her fist as possible. She doesn't want the pacifier when I offer it, and happily goes right back to gnawing on her hand for minutes at a time. Makes me wonder if she's getting close to teething--she's been drooling a lot the past couple weeks. It's pretty darn cute, no matter why she does it.

This morning Lainie and I went to baby storytime at the local library for the first time. My friend Krissy {5-month-old Julia's mom} told me about it, and they joined us. It's for newborns through 18 months, and was a lot of fun: singing, peek-a-boo, games, simple books. Lainie seems a little young for some of the activities, but she was enthralled {think very intent observing} till the end when she fell asleep--apparently it was also exhausting. ;-)

Today Lainie and I also went to Mike's work and had lunch with him. Why I've never done this before, I don't know. I'm probably a bad wife or something. Mike loved it--he was practically glowing--and Lainie was such a trooper, considering that she'd already gone to storytime and had two interrupted naplets. We had burgers, fries, and a chocolate milkshake, and then Mike showed us his office. We met a few of his coworkers too.

Speaking of Mike's work...on Sunday our real estate agent showed us some houses closer to Microsoft. The 1- to 1.5 hour commute {each way} is driving Mike nuts, and no wonder! The reason we bought our current condo is because I was working at the time and had to be able to get to the hospital within 30 minutes when I was paged. That's no longer a consideration, so closer to Microsoft we go. It makes us both really sad to think of leaving the awesome community we have here...we will miss being so close to really good friends...though I'd love for Mike to spend less time on the road, I'm dragging my feet because of all the people we'll be moving further away from. But good golly, houses are expensive! And a lot of the houses in our price range leave, ahem, much to be desired. There was one where I asked Mike not to set Lainie's carseat on the floor, and he was like, "I have no intentions of setting her down anywhere in here!" Another time, Mike was like, "This house is a total crack den," to which our friend/agent replied, "Are you kidding? I've seen crack dens nicer than this place!" Sooooo, we are still looking. If Jesus wants us to move, the fact that we find a decent place within our price range will be our green light!

In other news: Mike is going sort of Paleo, so I'm trying to cook mostly Paleo-ish dishes nowadays. It's not as bad/hard/awful/impossible as I expected. {Isn't it awful that that's what I expected?!} I haven't lost any weight since Lainie was born, so hopefully this will be a good thing for me too.

I've spent a lot of time the last few days helping coordinate a place to stay for Cori, a childhood friend whose husband Israel is currently hospitalized in downtown Seattle. They live in Alaska, and last week Israel was in a horrible car accident that severed both his legs. He was transferred down here because of the severity of his injuries. They know very few people here, so I reached out to our church community in the downtown area to see if anyone could help Cori with housing, since Israel is expected to be hospitalized for quite some time. Within 20 minutes of posting the need on the church website, a lady called me, offering the spare bedroom in their home for as long as needed. Over the next two days, five other people offered their homes as well, and more people inquired but I figured six options is enough for now! I am continually amazed at God's work in the lives of His people. This kind of generosity toward complete strangers isn't "normal." When we were the recipients of this same generosity for Lainie's hospitalization, I mostly felt relief that we had a place to stay. I was overwhelmed and incredibly thankful, but I don't remember being excited...perhaps because there was still a lot of fear over how sick Lainie might be after birth. But being a tiny part of extending that generosity to someone else? So exciting!! It is so awesome to see people opening their homes and lives to a sister in Christ they don't even know. It is so cool to see the body of Christ doing its job so well. It really is better to give than to receive. {For updates on Cori and Israel, visit their website here.}

I'd better go for now...Lainie is asleep and I should be, too.

Friday, September 14, 2012

{ Five Minute Friday }

Five Minute Friday

I'm comfortable with my nose to the grindstone. I feel like as long as I'm accomplishing something, I have value.
Funny thing is, I often get so caught up in the nitty-gritty of the daily tasks I'm hellbent on crossing off my checklist...that I lose sight of why I'm doing them.
All my life I've dreamed of being a stay-at-home mom. I just knew that's the best fit for me...that's been the "goal" you could say I've been working toward all my life. And now I'm there.
So easily.
I'm so focused on the endless diapers, the continual nursing sessions, the bouncy chair-swing-Ergo-activity gym loop that I forget the glory in the mundane, the beauty in taking care of this helpless, needy little sweetheart. I swore I'd never do that. I promised myself, as a single woman with no "prospects" on the horizon, that when I eventually reached that mythical land of stay-at-home-mommyness, I wouldn't forget what a blessing it is--how much I love it.
Daily I have to remind myself: Focus on the big picture. Jesus redeems even days spent dealing with nothing bigger than stinky diapers and rattles, because I am taking care of this little one who bears His image.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

{ I Love My Stripey Sunsuit, by Lainie Rae }

Wha---? You takin' pictures of me again?

Oh. Okay. I guess it's not that bad. I mean, you take pictures of me all the time. But today I'm wearin' my cute red and white sunsuit!

Horizontal stripes are SO-MUCH-FUN!! And white ruffles! And pockets!

And look how big I can stretch myself!

I'm sooooo excited, I can barely contain myself!

Really REALLY excited!


Okay, that's all. Bye now.
{This is an actual sequence of photos taken on September 7}

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

{ Family Photos 2012 }

Our friend Lauren took family/newborn photos for us at the beginning of September.
{Check out Lauren's photography website here--we couldn't be happier with her work!}
Here is our sweet Elaina Rae at 9.5 weeks old...


Thank you Jesus for the sweet gift of this baby girl!

Friday, September 7, 2012

{ Graceful }

Five Minute Friday

This week I'm doing something new--participating in Five Minute Friday. I'm joining a group of women who write for five minutes flat every Friday. All on the same prompt that Lisa-Jo posts over at Tales from a Gypsy Mama. As she says, "No extreme editing; no worrying about perfect grammar, font, or punctuation. Unscripted. Unedited. Real."
Here we go...
I've never been particularly graceful. There were gymnastics and ballet classes for a couple years when I was young, and I have enough rhythm to play the piano--but dancing? Forget it. I'm not a klutz, but I've never considered "graceful" as a way to describe myself.
Now I'm in a season very different from any I've known before, and I'm finding new kinds of graceful all over the place. Not the physical kind of gracefulness I usually think of--but the gracefulness of being a mama. Changing a diaper while simultaneously soothing, entertaining, and holding down a squirmy fussy little human--and keeping her socks out of the poo. Making dinner, washing dishes, playing with her, and keeping laundry cycling through the washer and dryer, all at the same time. Driving, singing, and praying that (a) she doesn't choke herself screaming, and (b) I don't go crazy before we get to our destination. It may sound like multitasking, but it's bigger than that. Deeper and more intricate and harder, because I fiercely love the little girl I'm doing it with and for.
Motherhood brings me to a place where I desperately need to be full of grace.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

{ 70 }

You are ten weeks old today, Baby Girl!
It's hard to believe you made your grand entrance seventy days ago. I still feel so new to this whole parenting thing; how is it possible you've been my little sidekick for 70 days already? But on the other hand, I can't imagine life without you anymore!
You continue to "talk" and smile, and grabbing is becoming an increasingly large part of your day {Mommy's hair and clothes are favorite targets}.

Your new love is the activity gym. You smile and coo and occasionally bat at the dangly things--up till now, you've been totally overwhelmed and overstimulated by it, but now you think it's great fun!

Most mornings you fall asleep in your bouncy chair. Such a nice break for Mama.
Last Wednesday you got your first immunizations, and you screamed shock and offense at the needle pokes, but calmed down really quickly afterward.

Over the long weekend with Daddy home, he carried you around in the Ergo a few times {firsts for him}, and in spite of his initial protests that it made him look excessively effeminate {he used--ahem--different words, but you get my drift}, both of you ended up loving it.

On Labor Day, you gave us a bit of a coughed/hacked/spit up brown-colored phlegmmy stuff that looked like old blood, so we took you to the walk-in clinic because all the doctors' offices were closed. After several hours and chest x-rays, they said everything looks fine and they're not sure what the brown stuff was. You were {and still are} otherwise perfectly fine and normal-acting, so we're hoping this was just a weird one-time thing.

Last evening I put you in cloth diapers for the first time.
Too cute!!
Confession: Apparently I had either (a) forgotten, or (b) not realized, the true extent of the adjustability of Fuzzibunz diapers...had I examined the elastic system more closely, I could probably have started you in cloth diapers a couple weeks ago. Oopsie daisy. Let's chalk it up to sleep deprivation...but wow, Fuzzibunz are awesome! Even if they do make you look like you have a giant flotation device on your bottom.

And now, the biggest news of all:
Last night you fell asleep. In your co-sleeper. By yourself.
First time since coming home from Children's Hospital that you have gone to sleep for the night without me present.
Sure, I had to come in a few times to re-insert your binky and soothe you a little, but you fell asleep in pretty short order. I was so excited I almost cried. Instead I blog-hopped and sat on your Daddy's lap and marveled at the luxury of falling asleep without simultaneously trying to get you to sleep, too.

You're growing up so fast, little Bug! Every day with you is a precious adventure...I love being your Mama!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

{ A Winner! }

One of the super nice things about blogging is making friends--finding kindred spirits you'd never have met in day-to-day life. Andrea is one of those friends. She's beautiful inside and out--if you've read this post, you've seen evidence of her thoughtfulness and creativity!
Last week Andrea had a giveaway on her blog: She would design custom blog headers for two random winners!
As I'm sure you've noticed, my blog is sporting a lovely new header. Yep, I won! And I have to say, I love the header she made for me. It's just perfect. Thank you so much, Andrea!! It's as though you could tell I'd been thinking my blog needed spiffed up a little!
If you're looking for some lovely prints, or are in need of some custom design work, please take a peek at Andrea's etsy shop. Lots more cute stuff can be seen at her shop blog, Take Joy Designs.