Friday, September 23, 2011

pumpkins and pouty faces

Last week, we took a trip to the apple orchard. It was perfect: the first day of crisp, cool, fall weather. We went for a hayride and picked some apples. And then I tried to get a picture of Lyndon.

And I realized we have entered the "grumpy for the camera" phase. He was perfectly content until the camera came out, I promise. But once he saw it, I could not get a happy face out of him, no matter what I did (and I did some pretty ridiculous things).

But, I think the pictures are cute anyway. So here we go!

Concentrating very hard to walk along a narrow bench . . .

. . . then deciding it was more fun to sit.

Playing with a pumpkin . . . still no smiles.

A picture with mommy . . . sort of halfway happy.

 Aaaand the closest thing I got to a real smile all day (of course the one where I cut his head off).

Despite the apparent grumpiness, it really was a great time. Hooray for fall!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

servanthood and motherhood

I listened to a sermon yesterday on servanthood, and there was one section that, in addition to being hilarious, seriously encouraged me:

"Part of the job of a mom is to do the menial tasks. Sometimes this means it's outside of your spiritual gifts . . . I've never met a mom who says, 'My gift is poop cleaning. And now this child has provided this amazing opportunity for my gift to be fully utilized, 30 or 40 times a day. It's fascinating.' You know what a mom does? A good mom does whatever needs to be done. Wipe the nose, clean the diaper, burp the kid, change the kid, feed the kid, get puked on by the kid, repeat the whole process . . . the essence of motherhood is the essence of service."
-- Mark Driscoll. "Jesus and True Greatness." Sermon at Mars Hill Church, Seattle, WA 18 Sept. 2011.

I have long known (as has any mom) that to be a good mom is to be a selfless servant, but it's nice to have somebody else (especially somebody male!) recognize that. Do I always serve my family selflessly? Absolutely not. But I feel like motherhood has expanded my capacity to serve like nothing else in my life has. In the beginning, with a newborn, you give and give and give because the alternative is criminal neglect. If your baby needs something, you give it, no matter how little you feel like it. And you begin to realize that this selfless, menial serving at 3 am is a blessing in itself. It produces its own kind of satisfaction, the knowledge that I am loving my little one like Jesus loved me.

By the time that little baby is a toddler, you find yourself looking for ways to serve him. My little guy loves playgrounds, even though all the walking and bending and lifting is a full-blown prenatal workout for me now. But I delight in taking him. I delight in serving him and watching his face light up as he first spies the tops of the climbing towers. He squeals with excitement, and his little hands sign "play" over and over again. And I know that I could do this forever.

It's not glamorous; I'm not going to get recognition or a corner office. No one even knows about most of the ways I pour myself out on a daily, hourly basis. But I love my family. So I serve them. Simple, but life changing.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Not Me! Monday is back!

Mckmama- Not Me Monday

Welcome to Not Me! Monday! This blog carnival was created by MckMama. You can head over to her blog to read what she and everyone else have not been doing this week.

I loved Not Me! Monday. Airing our more embarrassing moments (and there are plenty of them with small children around) is so therapeutic. Helps us remember that we're all just out here doing the best we can. Alright, so here we go!

This morning, I definitely did not get lost in Wilmington on my way home from The Birth Center. Nope, not me. I have been to TBC at least twenty times. I know exactly how to get home. I also did not stay lost for over half an hour, ending up first in Little Italy, then in Elsmere. When I finally got out of the city, I did not consider breaking my promise to my son that we would go to the mall playground after mommy's appointment. It would not even cross my mind to make my son suffer the loss of his promised treat because of his mommy's stupidity.

Just now, as I was typing this, I definitely did not just knock over an entire glass of water, soaking not only the coffee table and carpet, but also my waterbirth consent form. Ironic, no?

Now it's your turn! What embarrassing things have you not been up to this week?

Saturday, September 10, 2011

rocking my baby

The other night, I consoled a friend whose under-the-weather toddler wouldn't go to sleep unless she rubbed his back by saying the following: "I try to think of the day in the not-so-distant future when he won't want me to rub his back anymore."

Then I got sad. Because he already doesn't want me to rub his back. I can't remember the last time I rocked him to sleep; I can't even remember the last time I saw him sleep. Now, having a child who puts himself to sleep night after night is a huge blessing; I can't deny that. But it made me realize just how fast my little one is growing up and just how little time I have with him. I was tempted to go into his room and just look at him for a while. But I didn't. Because I didn't want to wake him up. *sigh*

And then, the next morning, he gave me the most incredible gift. He slept in until 9 (no, that's not the gift, although it was pretty nice), then, when I went to get him up, he acted as if waking up and facing the day was just too much to be endured. He actually reminded me of myself as a teenager, covering his eyes and pulling his blanket over his face. I lifted him out of his crib, and all he wanted to do was snuggle. So, we rocked and snuggled. I sang him every lullaby in the book while I held him and stroked his hair. He buried his face in my chest, and I cried a little. Even though I was hosting playgroup in five minutes, even though I hadn't yet had breakfast or even changed his diaper, getting a chance to snuggle and rock my little boy was all that mattered.

Thank you, little man, for proving that you haven't outgrown snuggles and rocking and lullabies just yet. Please don't. Ever.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

a very dirty manger

"Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework, with its endless repetition: the clean becomes soiled, the soiled is made clean, over and over, day after day."
-- Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex

In the last few days, I have felt quite a lot like this Sisyphus, who toiled all day to push a boulder uphill only to  have to watch it roll back down, for all eternity. Monday night I cleaned my entire downstairs in anticipation of my first time hosting Lyndon's playgroup the next morning. I swept and washed the kitchen floor, organized the entry, and dusted the living room. My couches were free of cat hair, my countertops were spotless, my kitchen table even had a runner on it (to hide the less-than-perfectly-sanded spots).

Then I hosted playgroup. And six little toddler boys trashed my living room. And kitchen. Then, as soon as I had recovered, it was time for dinner. Chicken parmesan, one of Adrian's favorites. Sauce from scratch, homemade cracker crumb coating; it was heavenly. Adrian is coming home late the next two nights, and he convinced me to clean up only the bare minimum after dinner before spending time with him.

So, I came downstairs this morning to a disaster zone: a saucepot that I thought had been soaking but somehow still accumulated crusty gunk, breading stuck under my burner covers, sauce splatters and Parmesan cheese crumbs on the table. It was my Sisyphus moment, to be sure. I did my duty and cleaned up my (our?) mess, all the while thinking how, if we ordered take-out like that family next door, this would all magically disappear. We could even eat it off of paper plates. Zero work for me.

And then another quote came to mind, one from a much more reliable book (no offense, Simone):
"Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox."
-- Proverbs 14:4

Oxen are messy, smelly creatures. When a team of oxen live in a barn, you know about it. They require a great deal of care, as any large farm animal does: feeding, cleaning, exercise, training. I imagine owning a team of oxen feels very Sisyphean, mucking out their stalls only to watch them fill up with the leavings of a several-ton animal. But oxen get. stuff. done. Wikipedia tells me that they can plow, haul wagons, thresh and grind grain, and "skid logs" (basically, haul freshly cut trees).

Raising a family is like owning a pair of oxen. If you have a commitment to making your home a loving, nurturing, productive place, then life will be messy. I could easily shuttle Lyndon to day care and let his teachers deal with the crumbs and the Play-doh and the muddy shoes, then come home and eat take-out off paper plates. Or I could stay home and just refuse to do the "messy" things. I could put plastic covers on my couches and ban all snacks from the living room.

Or I could accept, and even enjoy, the fact that this neverending cycle of clean and dirty says something beautiful and profound about our lives. Because I wasn't afraid to let him fingerpaint, my son can grow up adventurous and free; because I made chocolate chip muffins, we can all feel a little warmth at the end of a rainy day; because I wash his work pants (no matter where they end up), my husband knows that someone cares for him and wants him to succeed.

Yes, Sisyphus, I feel your pain. But I also know a joy you never had, the joy of doing this work for someone. With my husband and baby boy at the top of the hill, this boulder seems a little lighter.

Although, sometimes I still wish for paper plates . . .

Sunday, September 4, 2011


Lyndon has recently learned how to climb . . . which, of course, means that he now tries to climb everything. Sometimes this is super helpful, like when he can get onto or off of the couch by himself; sometimes, it just gives me a mini heart attack, like when he ended up standing on top of a wobbly two-foot tall stool right next to the bathtub. (I swear I only turned my back for a second.)

But, most of the time, it's just good fun. Like this . . .

Friday, September 2, 2011

20 (ish) week belly shot: bring on the nesting!

So, I'm the slacker who can't manage to take her 20 week belly shot, um, during her 20th week. In fact, today is the 22 week mark. But, better late than never!

The manual setting on my camera, when used properly, makes that bathroom lighting just a little more bearable. Oh, and yes, the haircut is (fairly) new. Thanks for asking. I'm kind of in love with it.

Let's see that belly up close!

Yes, my bellybutton has "popped". That means the baby's done, right? Kidding, kidding.

Actually, I'm not particularly eager for this little one to be done cooking yet. From about 16 or 17 weeks until about 25, I usually feel better than I do not pregnant. I am no longer lactose intolerant, for example. My mood is better than usual, and I have a ton of energy.

This week in particular, most of this energy has been directed into that phenomenon known as "nesting". To my knowledge, I never nested with Lyndon. Then again, I had a job that required me to clean and organize things all day long, so perhaps that fulfilled my nesting urge. But with this little guy, watch out! Suddenly, it's like my eyes have been opened, and I care, really care about all the half-finished or "good enough" projects around here. I sanded and oiled our teak dining room table, listed the whole set on craigslist (again), put up pictures that have been in my closet for months, organized Lyndon's toys into a system that should work for years, you get the idea. It's been fun, and I love that feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day. I would be perfectly happy to feel like this for the next 18(ish) weeks.