Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Skeezix. That's what we call babies who are still chillin' in Mom's tummy. I'm going to tell you about Skeezix today.

On Sunday morning, I clearly felt Skeezix moving around. I felt it again Monday morning and I've got to tell you: this kid is ACTIVE! Skeezix is doing aerobics inside me. Or karate. Or kickboxing. Probably kickboxing. I'm only 16 weeks pregnant and baby is already doing kickboxing! What will Skeezix be doing at 8.75 months? Gulp.

I've been feeling strange lately. I won't go into details, but it's probably harmless. My OB sent me in for an ultrasound this morning just to make sure all was well with Mom. (We already knew all was well with baby with all that movement and an audible confirmation of the heartbeat.)

There is nothing--absolutely nothing--like seeing my baby on ultrasound. Skeezix was moving constantly, wiggling little arms and legs. We got to hear the heartbeat and, yes, determine the gender. We're 90% sure, but I have my 20-week ultrasound in three weeks so we'll confirm it then.

All I can say is: I'm in love with that tiny little soul that is already a mover and shaker. In my mind, all that movement is saying: I'm happy. Life is good. I can't wait to see what is waiting for me! Hey Mom, look what I can do!

All is well.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Wake-up Call

I was having a lovely dream around 3:00 a.m. when I awoke suddenly to the sound of my telephone ringing. In my supreme mid-dream drowsiness, I reasoned that either (a) it was important and they would call back or (b) it was unimportant and they would not call back. They didn't call back (wrong number?) and I fell asleep again quickly.

The real wakeup call came later in the morning when I met with a member of our Bishopric. I was recently released from a calling and knew that something new was in the works. As we sat down together, I hoped for something that would be spiritually invigorating and mentally challenging.

In particular, I hoped I would finally be called to teach in one of the classes. I come from a family of teachers and spent a few brief months teaching at a private school before my oldest son was born. Teaching is in my blood. I enjoy it and look forward to it. It's a real treat to me when I'm asked to substitute teach a class. Yet for some reason, I've never been called on to teach regularly in church.

I'm generally called to do very organizational types of things. This makes sense because I am extremely organized--or at least I can be and prefer to be--and because I have no trouble keeping track of several "loose ends." I'm a natural-born secretary, but pardon my indignation while I state that I am good at plenty of things non-secretarial. I'm intelligent and well-educated and I love a challenge.

You can imagine my inner reaction when I was asked to fill the easiest calling in the entire church--"church librarian." This involves making photocopies and taking pictures off a shelf. That is all, in its entirety. Making photocopies and taking pictures off a shelf. (I mustn't forget that I have to take our paper out of the machine at the end of the day to keep supplies in their proper places. Heaven forbid I forget that detail!)

I had all the enthusiasm crushed out of me, but we never say no when we're asked to serve in the church so my husband (who was released from a calling he loved for this) and I are now librarians. Every other week.

I'm still wrapping my head around how to humbly and gratefully magnify this calling. I'm trying to forget my impression that this calling is generally given to people who seem to be spiritually unprepared for more important things. I'm trying not to feel like this is a waste of my talents. I'm trying to remember that we were told this calling is highly coveted and we were chosen, partially, because we are being released from time-consuming callings. It's our reward, I guess, for serving well in other ways?

I'm trying to remember that callings come from a Higher Source and He knows better than I do. I'm trying to remember that I am pregnant and probably not fit for the most challenging calling right now. I'm trying to remember I could end up on bed rest again, just like with my other pregnancies.

I'm trying to remember that humbly serving anywhere in the church is taking the burden off of somebody else. I'm trying to remember a lot of things. I'm trying to be like Jesus and accept humble service without complaint.

It might take a few days to sink in, but I will be there next Sunday morning with a bright, cheerful smile on my face to make photocopies, hand people pictures and put the copy paper where it belongs at the end of the day. I will find out why everybody else is congratulating me on the best calling ever ... and then my gratitude sincerely overflow.

At least, that's the plan.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hills and valleys

Life has been superb lately. I've been happier and more productive than ever before and I think I will be able to say, when it is over, that 2009 has been the best year of my life.

Some days, though, still knock me down and kick me in the gut. Today was one of those days. I realized that all "wrong side of the bed" mornings start out with a child making loud demands at ridiculously early hours. I grumbled (forcefully) to Joseph that I was going to come into his room screaming and turning on lights some time to see how he liked it. He informed me after school that he didn't scream. I told him that in my sleepy state it sure sounded like screaming.

Around 10:30 a.m., I decided to pen a blog entry that I've been considering for a long time. It was about rejection and friendship and deep-seated pain that I have to word very carefully to share publicly. I found that emotion took over and I wasn't up to the task in the end. The writing was lousy instead of meaningful and I couldn't express what I really wanted to say. So I hit "save" instead of "publish."

The emotional effort of rehashing past hurt left me bankrupt. I felt hollowed out and depressed the rest of the day. As I remembered some of the things I had written about, I kept fighting back tears. I bought ice cream for lunch, felt guilty the rest of the day for the splurge and skipped dinner in a misguided attempt to make up for lunch.

Around 3:30, I just collapsed on a couch while my kids snuggled around me watching television. I slept until almost 5:00 and woke up feeling even lousier. I never made dinner. I just laid around in a tailspin. My husband came home and had to leave almost right away for a scouting meeting. He ate a leftover hamburger from lunch but the kids still hadn't eaten a thing. Josh finally fed them dinner around 8:30 p.m., half an hour after their bedtime. I sat around feeling helpless and guilty and continuously on the verge of tears.

That's when the craving started. I haven't craved emotional eating like this in a very long time--months, probably. I used to feel this way constantly, like I had to eat until the pain went away. That's how I ended up at my current size. It hasn't been like that lately. I may be overeating, but it's for other reasons (not the least of which is a very hungry fetus inside me.) I hate that feeling.

As Josh got the kids ready for bed, I got down a package of marshmallows and resolved to make some Rice Krispy treats after the kids were in bed. I still haven't made them. I decided to try a little therapeutic writing instead.

Why do days like this happen? Life has been wonderful! Peaceful! Calm! Organized! In control! Optimistic! Happy! And then comes along a day when something is just not right with my pregnancy hormones or seratonin levels or spirituality or ... ? ... and the world is crumbling.

I don't write this for pity, though. Nor is this a cry for help. I write this knowing that tomorrow will be a fresh and happy day. The past will be past and the future will be gleaming brightly ahead. I have a game night planned with some good friends tomorrow night and a Girl's Night Out planned for Saturday afternoon. Thanksgiving is next week, which means that I will bask in the love of friendship and family ... and good food!

That keeps me buoyant right now. I know I'll float instead of sink. I just need to get to bed--preferably before I follow through on the marshmallow plan--and remember that tomorrow is another day.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Parallel Parking

I was in a lazy mood. When I pulled into a parking spot at Megasupercorpget, I knew I had parked a bit crooked but shrugged it off. I got out of the car and saw that it was one of my better BAD parking jobs. The front tires were on the left side of the space and the back tires were just kissing the yellow lines on the right side. The car wasn't too close to the ones next door, though, so I went into the store and did my shopping. I may be finicky about certain things in my life, but perfect parking is not one of them.

When I came out of the store, I was surprised to see that the car to my left had driven away and been replaced by a new car that had parked perfectly parallel to mine. Their front tires were on the left side of the space, with the right tires just kissing the right line.

"That's amazing parallel parking," I thought humorously to myself. It got me thinking. If a third car arrived a little later, would it follow suit and ignore the nicely-painted, perpendicular yellow lines in favor of the trendy new angles?

More importantly, it was a reminder that all our lives are interconnected. We may not be responsible for the way others react to us, but it's good to remember that our actions are influential. Like a finger touching the still surface of a lake, we create ripples of influence, sometimes fading into the obscurity of eternity and other times becoming tsunamis that destroy others' serenity.

During this season of Thanksgiving, I want to express my gratitude for the goodness of life by creating ripples of joy and laughter ... and by laughing when the ill effects of other people's choices wash over me.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Pie Time!

The women at my church got together last night to listen to a great speaker and eat pie together. Sounds like a winning combination, don't you think?

Part of the evening was a pie contest and women were allowed to vote for their two favorite pies. This seemed like a slightly flawed system to me since most of the women only sampled one type of pie. If you only try one slice, how can you compare to decide which is best? Is the decision based on which pie looks the best? Or do you just vote for your favorite flavor?

As I said, a flawed system. However, that was all forgiven when I won 2nd place for my "Pecan Pie Tartlets." I came home and told my boys facetiously that I'm now an "award-winning pie maker." Joseph's eyes got huge and his jaw dropped. I need to be careful how I talk to him because he was way prouder of me than he should have been.

In his and my defense, the pecan pie "baby tarts" were really adorable and delicious! While I prepared them, the boys groaned about how disgusting they looked ("Fine, don't eat any.") but when they came out of the oven, they devoured them.

Tonight, Josh and I made pumpkin pie with the other pie crust dough. It may not win any prestigious awards, but it'll win the most important one: the looks of delight when I offer my boys pie for breakfast!

Bonus Geeked Out Factoid: I read on Google Reader this week that if you write 3.14 on a paper and look at it in the mirror, it spells PIE! Whoa! I can't describe how happy that made me. Stop laughing. I already told you I'm a geek.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Wrong Side of the Bed

I think I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, which also happens to be the side of the bed where a four-year-old boy is screaming and demanding that I get out of bed NOW to go fix the computer, which incidentally isn't working because we set up parental controls which limit the hours that the computer can be used.

Sunrise o'clock ain't one of the approved times.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

A Home for the Holidays

The clutter in my house has been slowly reaching its hands out to me--not in a plea for help, but in an effort to wrap around my neck to suffocate me. That's what it feels like.

As I was cheerfully thanking the pharmacist for a prescription last week, it dawned on me that I felt extremely peaceful, charitable and kind there in the grocery store--but never at my house. In fact, I feel fairly chipper and peaceful anywhere else--hotel rooms, friends' houses, department stores. But when I step into my house, I become a stressed out, mean, anxious *****.

This is wrong and deeply troubling. I realized that I always feel more peaceful when I am not at my house. Why? I love my family and I love being with them. I have a beautiful house with lots of space to stretch out.

A house, however, is not a home and I am craving a home. A few years ago, I spent New Year's Eve at my friend Craig's parents' house and felt more at home than I have ever felt in a house of my own. When I saw that house go on the market a few years later, I wistfully thought about buying it until I realized that without the people who lived there, it would just be a house. It's better to make my own house into a home.

When I contemplated having another child this summer, I asked my husband out to dinner and we sat on the grass next to Chili's while we waited for our table. I told him how much I wanted to have another child but worried that I couldn't handle the stress unless I got my house organized and decluttered. I don't know why this has to happen before I have another baby, but I feel it stronger than almost anything I've felt in my life.

Then I got pregnant and fatigued and nauseous and knew it wouldn't happen right away. The stress grew and grew and grew. That all changed when my friend Kathy posted a challenge to some of her friends. She said, "Would you like to have a beautifully clean and organized home during the holiday season? Let's start now!"

In my mind, I envisioned the HOME I've been craving with red and green garlands on the staircase, the scent of pine and cinnamon wafting through the air and the sound of relaxed laughter ringing through the halls. I wanted that more than anything I've wanted in a long time. I need it. I crave it. I must have it!

So I am taking Kathy's challenge and running with it. My goal is to declutter the main problem areas before Thanksgiving, in addition to making some major organizational changes that have needed to happen for years. I made a list of all my goals yesterday and decided which days I'll tackle which rooms. I called for help--asked the in-laws to help with some projects, asked my Mom to keep me company while I deep clean my entire kitchen and asked my husband to help me with some of the weekend projects like putting together new bookshelves, installing shelves in a toy closet and ... well, I can't say more because he reads my blog and I haven't sprung the other ideas on him quite yet. Ahem. (Don't worry, dear. It'll be easy.... or at least it'll be worth it.)

As I started in to my piles of gunk, I kept finding things that elicited this reaction: "Ugh.. Stress.. I don't know where to put that or what to do with it. Can't I just put it in a junk pile somewhere else until I get around to cleaning THAT pile up...? I don't want to deal with it."

That's when I realized where this anxiety I'm feeling comes from: little pieces of ignored stress that I've allowed to literally pile up around me in my house. There are little things in every room that haven't been dealt with because there is stress and anxiety attached to them. When I let those things hang out and stare me in the face, they mock me! They reach in to my chest and twist my heart around until I feel like I can't breathe. (Which may seem like a strange illusion since the lungs have more to do with breathing, but.... that's how I feel, whether it is logical or not.)

After 24 hours into my challenge, I've accomplished a lot and wanted to throw in the towel several times per hour. It is painful to confront the stress that is piled up around me--Where can I store that beautiful paper that I bought in Berlin? Will the kids hate me if they find out I threw this away? I don't have a box big enough to store this so I guess I'll just pile it somewhere else?--but with each small accomplishment, I am triumphing over the anxiety in my life.

I am such an anxious, depressed mess during my first 18 months postpartum that I have to do this for survival. We'll worry about "thriving" again in about four years when the baby is older. For now, I need a plan to just survive the chaos that comes when I get no sleep and have to deal with baby poop and spit-up and screaming and temper tantrums. Nobody in my family is built for the years of young motherhood--that's just the way it is when you're raised by a working Mom who was raised by a working Mom (in the '50s!) We may feel lost with the challenges of motherhood at times, but we're strong and we're smart ... so it's time that I start acting like it. Time to make my house a HOME for the holidays.

Thanks, Kathy, for the inspiration!