"If the God you believe in as an idea doesn’t start showing up in what happens to you in your own life, you have as much cause for concern as if the God you don’t believe in as an idea does start showing up. It is absolutely crucial, therefore, to keep in constant touch with what is going on in your own life’s story and to pay close attention to what is going on in the stories of others’ lives. If God is present anywhere, it is in those stories that God is present. If God is not present in those stories, then they are scarcely worth telling." ~ Frederick Buechner

28 October 2010

Poor Little Guy

Yesterday, we had a fire drill at the school where I was subbing. After ushering the students out into the hallway, I shut off the lights and closed the door. The minute I stepped out into the hall, the shrill noise of the fire alarm increased exponentially in volume, and Baby G panicked! He just kicked and kicked, not settling down until a few minutes after the alarms stopped and we had been allowed back in the building. Poor little guy... I can't imagine what his world is like, not really knowing what's going on, what these new noises are, not being able to see to make sense of anything. And although I was a bit amused by it all, I was also sort of sad that there wasn't much I could do to soothe him.

I had a planning period following that class, so I called Nich to tell him about the experience. Fatherly protectiveness rose up, and he confessed that it actually made him a little angry that Baby G had to go through that. This made me laugh, but I also like that we're experiencing these feelings of protectiveness. It makes parenthood seem more and more real.

In other news, although our roof is now fixed, we're still waiting on the chimney repair. Also, when the ceiling tiles and insulation were removed from the hall closet where the leak was for the past year, we discovered mold up in the rafters. Thankfully, we knew just the people from church to call, and they sent over someone right away to take a look. He swabbed a sample to be sent off to the lab and told me exactly how it would be sealed once they got to results early next week. We'll be glad to not have to be worrying about that anymore this winter.

Another happy piece of news: someone asked if she could host a baby shower for me last night! I was wondering if we would have one at all, so this was thrilling for me. Nich had kept saying to me not to worry, that people love us, and we would have at least one baby shower, but I guess my feelings of loneliness, "not-closeness" to anyone here, and sadness that my mom and all my close girl friends live more than a couple hours away has made me be a bit more skeptical.

Is that lame and pathetic?

On that note, I should go take a shower and get ready for my half day of subbing. Oh, and that's another nice thought: Nich commented last night as we were heading out to a late night double date with friends that this school year and last year seem to be going much better than that first year I was subbing in this area. I told him that it's partially because I've weeded out all the "bad" schools from my calling list, but also that I'm more confident. And this year, knowing that I'm growing this baby inside, I don't tolerate nonsense anymore. My philosophy is that I don't need to invite more stress into my life.

On the flip side, I've only sent two students to the principal so far this fall, and that's pretty good. Maybe they're being nicer because I'm pregnant? Who knows. I'm just glad I haven't had any major confrontations with any kids yet, although these little girls standing in the hallway yesterday morning did say, "Hey, look! It's an Asian chick!" when I walked into school. I wrote a note on my report about it, but at the time, I ignored them.

26 October 2010

Busy Bee

I had intended on sleeping in this morning so that I could get some extra rest. I've been more tired lately, and I had a full day of subbing yesterday, as well as the closing shift at the mall.

Well, I was woken up with a subbing request for a half day, so I decided to make the most of the morning, and boy, for it not even being nine o'clock, I sort of feel like crawling back under the covers. But I already made the bed, and I don't feel like taking all the pillows off and remaking it an hour later. :~)

I packed Nich's lunch, made him breakfast, have laundry going, swept the kitchen/dining room floor, and have pumpkin spice beer bread baking in the oven (which smells amazing). I'd still like to get the final coat of paint on the changing table before hopping in the shower, but that shouldn't take too long.

*Had to take a break to switch the laundry here.*

Now I'm waiting for the bread to cool while sipping my peppermint tea, and I'd like to share a new blog I discovered this morning: Bring the Rain. I absolutely love the song that the blog title is taken from (by Mercy Me), because it reminds me that God knows what He's doing. The blog author is Angie Smith, wife of Selah's Todd Smith. I came across it via a YouTube video a friend of mine posted (below), and when I read her original post regarding their little Audrey, I just wept. What heartbreak, and what faith!

Also, the cholera outbreak in Haiti is spreading. Part of me prays for God's mercy on the country, part of me struggles to understand why one small country is enduring so many trials in such a short period of time, part of me grieves that those of us who live in more comfortable surroundings forget so quickly.

So busy morning today, and I had better get to painting before I run out of time!

24 October 2010

Just Call Me Grumpy

I'm just having one of those days where everything is making me cranky. Here's a brief run-down:

1. We got to church a bit late (after the first song started).
2. When we got to our seats, we discovered for the second week in a row, that the rows had been pushed together so closely that I could not comfortably stand (and even with my little belly, I'm not that fat!).
3. Pet peeve: worship leaders who use the stage as an outlet for their own creativity over actually leading worship, resulting in distraction from worship.
4. Pet peeve 2: numerous spelling mistakes in a slide show shown to make the service more "relevant" to the younger generation
5. Annoyingly loud person at our 20Somethings group who just doesn't "get" it
6. tired of feeling like our relationships here are so superficial and also tired of everyone asking about the baby but not caring enough to offer any real support or help
7. Snapping at my husband when we got home because I'd just reached my breaking point

So now I'm huddled under the covers in bed feeling sorry for myself, for Nich, and for God for having to put up with me.

22 October 2010

The Eyes, They Just Won't Stay Open

Tonight's the third night this week that I've found myself all bundled up in my fleece pajamas and tucked in bed before eight o'clock. The other two nights, I was fast asleep before nine, and it looks like tonight might be the same.

If this is what it's like at 24 weeks, I'm a goner for the third trimester. (Must not panic for how much still needs to be done in the nursery and bought for the baby.)

In other news, Nich just told me this evening that his co-workers have taken to calling the baby "Nich Jr." One of the ladies even told him that she likes it so much because it reminds her of the kids' channel on TV. I think that's sort of cute. It also makes me grateful to know that they are interested in our baby and how we're doing, because often, I feel like we're sort of on an island here in this journey.

I had my visits with the new obstetricians' office this week. The nurses I met were all very nice, and the doctor I saw yesterday was good. I was a bit uncomfortable with having a male doctor, but oh, well. I appreciated that he took the time to actually ask me questions, answer mine, and to do simple things like set a weight gain goal for me (something that never occurred at the previous OB, amongst other things). They did my blood sugar test a couple weeks early, since my mom is diabetic. I think I've had more blood taken out of me in the past few months than I have in my entire pre-pregnancy life! Also, the pregnancy books weren't kidding when they said that the drink tastes awful.  It was like very, very sweet Kool-Aid that hadn't been mixed with enough water to dilute it. Thankfully, it was chilled, and that helped it go down.

Yesterday, I was reading, holding a book in one hand, with my arm propped up on my belly, and Baby G kicked so hard that it made my book jump! It's true what they say; there's a degree of reassurance in feeling him move so much.

I'm having a lot of upper back strain, and although the visits with the chiropractor are helping, he said that it's tougher because my body's constantly changing, stretching and loosening, to make room for the growing baby. It's not like he can get me aligned and I stay that way. The good thing, however, is that I'm not having lower back pain yet, which is the more common complaint in pregnancy and more difficult for the chiropractor to treat, due to the proximity to the baby.

We had a few flurries today, but overall, the day was absolutely gorgeous. It is definitely getting colder, though. We finally caved and turned on the heat really low and added an extra comforter to our bed. Here comes winter!

18 October 2010

Movin' and Groovin'

Baby G has been quite the wiggler as long as we've known him, but now that I (we) can feel him moving around in there, there is an entirely new level of awareness of just how squirmy he is in there. This past Saturday, he kicked and pushed so frequently that this little bell went off in my head: "We're going to have a handful if this is what he's like after he's born."

Then, early this morning, I was woken up for the first time by his kicking.

And you know what's great? It didn't bother me in the slightest. I loved it.

We spent the weekend really getting some work done to prepare for the baby. Nich is a sanding champion, and I got the nursery cleaned out. Nich vacuumed it out with our awesome new vacuum cleaner and now it's ready for baby items to be moved in! (Consequently, we have also come to the realization that our carpet is made of low quality "cheapo mccheapen" material, as we have lived here for a year now and we still have to empty the vacuum several times every time we vacuum the house.) We also managed to get the changing table primed before we lost all daylight.

We rewarded ourselves with Chinese take-out, a movie, and ice cream.

Today, my goals are to get the changing table painted, figure out how to clean the bassinet cover, hem a couple pairs of pants, and maybe finish my current scrapbooking project.

11 October 2010

Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart

Last Thursday morning, Nich and I made a trip down to the OB/GYN at Albany Medical Center for a Level II ultrasound. Here's a bit of the background on the situation.

After our first ultrasound on September 9, we discovered that they'd found some choroid plexus cysts in Baby G's brain. The choroid plexus produces spinal fluid, and the cysts can point to Trisomy 18, spina bifida, or Down's Syndrome. In most cases, the cysts disappear during the third trimester, but the doctors wanted to get a closer look anyway. Needless to say, the past month has been one full of prayer. In fact, after finding out about the cysts and calling Nich (he wasn't able to come with me to that OB appointment), I sat in my car in the rain praying, "Jesus, I don't know what to pray, so I'm just going to pray for trust in Your goodness and sovereignty. I want the strength and courage to love this baby well regardless of any extra needs he may have." As I drove home, the chorus of the hymn, "'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus" kept repeating in my head. Over the following few weeks, we were both reminded over and over again about the goodness of God, and honestly, we felt an unnatural sense of peace about the unknown.

The first hour of the Level II was a bit nerve-wracking, because the technician was looking so closely at the baby's brain and spine. She wasn't allowed to tell us if she saw anything unusual, and since we didn't really know what she was looking at most of the time, it was long, tedious, and definitely more uncomfortable to be on my back for that amount of time than it had been for the first one.

But then the doctor came in, thoroughly explained everything as he took a good look, and said that although he couldn't ever call any baby a "perfect baby," ours was looking perfectly normal! The cysts are GONE! He said that usually, the cysts go away after 24 weeks, so it was super good news that they were already gone (we were at 22 weeks). He checked out the bottom of the spinal cord, the top where it connects to the brain, and some other things to ensure that there are no signs of Down's Syndrome or spina bifida, and all was clear! Baby G is right on target size-wise and weight-wise (all of a whopping 1 lb., 7 oz.), and he was his regular, squirmy little self throughout most of the ultrasound. 

Another reason this is especially relieving to us is that Nich's employer has begun "letting employees go" as of last week, something they have not done in the company's history. Nich's department has yet to be affected, for which we are extremely grateful. Although we trust in God's provision, it was more to think about insurance-wise and such with the baby. Thank goodness it looks like we don't have to worry about special needs/medications!

We did have a small handful of close friends praying us through this past month, and we know that it made a world of a difference to have that kind of support. They sent words of encouragement and words of hope, even when I was too timid to hope for the best. We couldn't have made it through quite as calmly as we did without the support of our dear prayer warriors, and we are so incredibly grateful, not only for Baby G's excellent health, but for our friends and for the lessons re-learned about trusting in Abba.

As we're in the harvest and Thanksgiving season, I am reminded of an old song:

Give thanks with a grateful heart,
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because He's given Jesus Christ His Son

And now let the weak say, "I am strong"
Let the poor say, "I am rich"
Because of what the Lord has done for us

Give thanks

Two Fall Weddings!

The past couple weeks in our lives have been absolutely, wonderfully busy. There is nothing better than spending time with close friends, receiving good news, and celebrating joyous occasions together.

Last weekend, we left early Saturday morning to Pennsylvania. Added to the benefit of grabbing food at our some of favorite restaurants: Cracker Barrel, Chick-fil-A, and Sonic (which we don't have in our local area), we got to see several friends along the journey.

On our way to Dillsburg, we stopped to see Keith and Carol Hershey, friends of mine from my early high school days in Cameroon. They were my youth leaders back then, newlywed and in their early twenties, and now they have four beautiful children. It was fun to meet their kids, introduce them to Nich and vice versa, to sit and chat for a bit on a sunshiny afternoon. Unfortunately, I didn't have the presence of mind to take a group photo with them, something that carried through the weekend, because I came away from the entire trip with only 30ish photos!

We then made our way over to the Smucker residence. Dan was away hunting for the weekend, but we got to see Jamie and her precious little girls. It was fun to see Kylie again, who is growing oh-so-fast and chatting away, and meet Baby Myla, who was just six weeks old and teeny-tiny. We exchanged baby gifts -- Jamie had gotten us some early baby gifts, which included books (yippee!), which was so fun.

By evening, we ended up in Dillsburg with my friends from college and their families, where we stayed for the weekend. We enjoyed a late night -- funny how 11:00 feels so late now -- of hot tea and catching up before heading to bed for the night. Nich was exhausted after the entire day of driving, but he was such a champ! It means a lot to my heart that my husband loves all the friends I've introduced him to over the past few years and genuinely enjoys spending time with them.

Sleeping in the next morning (not waking up at our usual 5:30 time) felt really nice. We had plenty of time to get ready, eat breakfast, and get to church. We thoroughly enjoyed the service, and when we returned "home", Nich and I had the fun of seeing Gloria and Josiah open their gifts from us before a scrumptious lunch prepared by Mama Spurrier.

Ben and Annabel's wedding was that evening, in northern Maryland at a tree nursery called Shade Trees and Evergreens, so we made preparations -- Nich and I are quickly learning there are a few more things to consider when children are involved -- and were on our way!

The wedding was gorgeous and thoroughly coordinated. I'll let you see for yourselves:

The reception was catered by a Korean catering company, so Nich and I were able to wholeheartedly indulge in food we don't normally get to eat. Both Ben and Annabel have Korean roots, and there were several Korean friends at the wedding, which was fun to see.

We attended another outdoor fall wedding yesterday. This one was in the morning, and we couldn't have asked for a more perfect autumn day. The ceremony was on the tenth hole at The Top o' the World Golf Resort (because the date was 10.10.10).  The view over Lake George was fabulous. The reception was a ton of fun, too. On their wedding website, Adam and Shana had a spot where you could request songs (I told you about this a couple posts ago), and our song was the first to be played after the traditional reception events. Thankfully, there were some little kids who kept us company on the dance floor!

I didn't even think to bring our camera this time -- I'm blaming my pregnancy brain -- but hopefully, Adam and Shana will post pictures soon, and I'll try to share any if I can.

05 October 2010

Books at My Bedside

Here is what's on it currently:

- Stepping Up: A Journey Through the Psalms of Ascent (personal Bible study)
- My journal
- Here and Now, There and Then (Ladies' Bible study)
- The Poor Will Be Glad
- Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (this year's all-church/community group study)
- Forgotten God
- Becoming Jane Austen (a bit dry)
- What to Expect When You're Expecting
- Teach Your Baby to Sign
- The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy
- The Complete Organic Pregnancy

What's on your shelf?