"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

21 November 2011

What Do You Blame It On after Pregnancy?

I don't know if there is any scientific evidence for "pregnancy brain," but I sure got it. If you know me personally, you know I'm a very organized individual. In fact, some may mistake it for OCD (I don't have it). I do, however, have the spiritual gift of administration and the good sense of organization that accompanies it.

Anyway, back to that pregnancy brain. What do you call it when you're not pregnant anymore? It has been nine months since I gave birth, and I swear, I still don't have my complete wits about me yet. Do they ever come back fully?

I'll give you a couple examples, both of which happened on Sunday. This will just prove that I am not afraid of a little bit of humiliation for the sake of a good story. ;~)

Brennan has been sleeping in until eight o'clock once in a while, and Sunday morning was (blissfully) one of those days. Needless to say, Nich and I took advantage of that and slept in as well. This pushed back our morning routine a little bit, and I ended up being a little bit rushed as I got ready for church.

As we started driving down the road, a sinking feeling came over me.

H: "Um, honey?"
N: "Yeah?"
H: "I don't think I ever brushed my teeth."

Seriously. How does that happen? This is how: I was brushing my hair when Brennan came crawling into the bathroom. In my effort to keep him from overturning the trash can, emptying said trash can, diving into the toilet bowl, exploring the shower stall, I completely forgot that I hadn't yet brushed my teeth and quickly got out of the bathroom. Of course, neither of us chew gum on a regular basis so we didn't have any on us. I just decided that people would just have to suck it up or not talk to me.

Church was fine, although I did have a teary moment with a couple friends as we chatted. Afterward, we debated on whether to watch the town Christmas parade or not, but decided against it, since Brennan was overly tired (from not getting a nap in before church). We came home, Nich stayed in the car with Brennan sleeping in the car seat, I got out to start lunch, and a sinking feeling came over me as I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the car window.

H, mouthing into the car: "Why didn't you TELL me?!"
N: "I didn't notice!"

I had completely forgotten to put on a camisole under my green sweater - and over my WHITE bra. Needless to say, you could see my skin and the bra clearly through the holes of the sweater. I distinctly remember standing in the closet, debating on what color camisole to wear. I got distracted by the thought that I needed to get Brennan dressed, and apparently, never came back to finish dressing myself.

Ah, well. At least I was holding Brennan most of the time I was talking to anyone, and he was dressed adorably. Hopefully, what they all say is true and everyone was looking at the baby and not me. 

15 November 2011

Two Memories: On Milk

One of my favorite blog reads is a fellow young mom and a librarian. Her little boy is just about a month older than Brennan, so a big part of my heart resonates with her honest depiction of her mothering journey. I thoroughly identify with many, though not all, aspects of what she shares. This month for NaBloPoMo, she is writing letters to her son, something she did while pregnant.  I enjoyed her post today on learning humility through breastfeeding.

It reminded me of two of my favorite breastfeeding memories from this past year.

1. The memory of the first time Brennan fell asleep with a milk-drunk smile on his face is stamped in my mind forever. His mouth was open in a toothless grin of contentment as a tiny trickle of milk dribbled from the corner down his chin. Most of all, I remember the overwhelming feeling of tender love that swept over my heart in that memorable moment.

2. I was shopping at an outlet mall with a friend, and Brennan got hungry. There really was nowhere to discreetly nurse, so I sat on a bench outside, used my cover, and let him nurse. I was softly talking to him the entire time, so I didn’t see the woman approach me. When I looked up, she was smiling such a friendly smile, and she said, “I just want to tell you that I am SO glad you are breastfeeding your baby!” Motherhood is such a challenging, exhilarating, humbling, and sacrificial process. I am often lonely in the journey. These encouraging interactions with other women, no matter how brief, are like manna to my starving soul.

There was really no question in my mind as to whether or not I would do it, but I will never, ever regret choosing to breastfeed.

14 November 2011

Loving Other People's Children

One of the books I read while in graduate school completing my master's degree was Lisa Delpit's Other People's Children. As an educator, I believe it is crucial to never forget that the faces before you are children who are - hopefully - much loved by their parents.

Children have always held a soft spot in my heart, and ever since Brennan entered my world, my eyes and my heart have been opened to a whole new dimension of aching for those who have little, whether it be money, love, opportunities.

As we shopped for gifts for our Operation Christmas Child this year, I kept thinking that this may be the ONLY Christmas gift this baby (we selected the "Boy, 2-4 years" category because it was the closest to Brennan's age) would ever get in his entire childhood. Knowing this made us want to pack that box the best we could, and yet, we struggled with "useful" (toiletry items, educational material) and "delightful" (toys). In the end, we packed a t-shirt, a light sweater, a fat coloring book of animals (it was hard to find one that wasn't based on some silly kids' TV show or movie, but we found one!), a set of 24 extra-thick crayons for little fingers, a small soccer ball, an extra-soft plush teddy bear, four toddler toothbrushes, a big tube of toddler toothpaste, some Dove bar soap for sensitive baby skin, and a Christmas card from our family.

 I've also been writing to our Compassion child more frequently now that the organization has made it possible to write to our child online. Not only is it a really neat feature to have simply by the nature of making it easier for sponsors to write their children, but Compassion offers four different themed templates for the letters. You can even include photos! I've used the tool twice in the past month, and I am hoping to continue writing our fifteen-year-old Madeleine twice a month.

In Bible study last week, we talked at length about what Jesus meant when he gathered the children around him and referred to them as "the least of these." I believe God has a tender spot for children, and I also believe that He has put a smidgen of that tenderness in my heart. I pray that He will always keep my heart soft for children, my own and other people's.

Will you pack a box today?

06 November 2011

Baby Butt

There are few things in the world cuter than a baby butt.

A few nights ago, after bath time, I kissed Brennan on the behind and looked up to see Nich giving me a funny look. "Well, I have to do it now before he gets too old for it to be appropriate," I told him.

Tonight, after I put Brennan in his crib, I sat down in the semi-darkness (he has a rocket ship night-light), and watched him settle himself down. It was pretty amusing, and I had a hard time not giggling at the sight of my little boy kicking his legs until they were tucked up underneath his body, sitting up, bunching up his blankie, burying his face one way, then another, before he finally fell asleep.

Lately, this is how he sleeps:

Nich says he used to sleep exactly the same way when he was younger.

30 Days of Thanksgiving

In my last post, I mentioned that I didn't like the daily posting of something you're "thankful for" as your status update because I felt that after a while, it just gets pithy and meaningless.

Well, I was convicted about recognizing and expressing gratitude, so I have decided that for each day of this month, I am going to write a card to someone for whom I am grateful. This is perfect for me, because I enjoy writing and sending cards, but recently, Nich and I were talking about how we sometimes get overwhelmed because we feel as though we're going through this parenting thing alone. We came to the realization that we DO have a "village," though. Our "village" isn't here, in one place, but we do have incredible friends all over the world who do care deeply and love on us - sometimes in breathtakingly abundant and generous ways. We do thank those friends, but I think this is the perfect month to be deliberate in my gratitude.

I don't know who amongst my friends reads this blog - I mean, who on earth do I know in UAE right now? - but is there something you do to specially express your gratitude around Thanksgiving (either the month of or the day of or at the meal, etc.)?

Today, I have an extra "thankful for" item. Nich went out this afternoon to get a piece of wood so that he can install the top-of-the-stairs baby gate. I asked him if he would mind picking up a few groceries (which can be a little complicated these days with the WIC checks and all). He was such a trooper, and when he came home, he said with a smile, "I got you a little treat." When I go grocery shopping, I always get him a "little treat." It's usually something very small like a Snickers bar (which was his dad's favorite and hence, a nostalgic favorite of Nich's) or a box of frozen taquitos.

As I was putting away the groceries, I found my "little treat". Thanks, honey!
It's a persimmon! I didn't even know until recently that they had these in this country!

02 November 2011

Stream of consciousness...

We in America (wow, I think that's the first time I've ever said that) skip right from Halloween to Thanksgiving, but traditionally, Halloween is followed closely by All Saints' Day (yesterday) and All Souls' Day (today). I've been wondering about Dias de los Muertos since watching a Halloween-themed show on the Food Network a couple weeks ago, so I read up on it briefly tonight.

Apparently, there is a 30 Days of Thanksgiving challenge that several of my friends/acquaintances have taken up. Seems like a good idea, but I'm not going to do it. At least, not in a public forum like Facebook. I think I would feel forced to come up with pithy things to be "thankful" for, and I would rather reflect, process, and genuinely express gratitude.

November is also NaBloPoMo.  I'm not going to do that either. I don't have interesting things to say on here every day. But I do have friends who do have great things to say every day and are doing it.

Sometimes, I feel guilty that Brennan is growing up without any grandparents around, that my life decisions and choices have resulted in him not having anyone to dote on him and spoil him. It hurts when someone else flippantly makes that claim.

I have really kind friends. I wish more of them were nearby.

Skype is a wonderful tool.

I am incredibly thankful for clean water. I think about it every day as I fill our Brita pitcher, do dishes, shower, and wash laundry.

I tried to renew my library book tonight. It said I had three renewals left, so I clicked "Renew." It told me I wasn't allowed to because someone else had requested the book. So why does it say I have three renewals?!

That said, I'm going to go read now.

01 November 2011

And the department shut down for fifteen minutes...

Although we didn't take Brennan trick-or-treating this year (just because we didn't see the sense in all of us freezing for an event he won't even remember), I did dress him up in his hand-me-down ducky costume and take him to visit Daddy at work. Apparently, it is "tradition" for people to bring in their little ones in costume on Halloween. At least, that's what Nich was told. We don't know how true that is. We think that was just code for, "We haven't seen your baby in a couple months, and this is a good excuse for him to come visit." We were happy to comply.

Brennan loves visiting Daddy at work, because lots and lots of people come to say hello and tell him how cute he is. He smiled and waved and made lots of noise. We're pretty convinced he thinks he can talk. At one point, pretty much the entire department was milling around Nich's cubicle, and someone joked that production had shut down for those fifteen minutes.

After visiting with everyone, we tried to sit in the atrium for lunch, but Brennan was being so loud (we think he was enjoying hearing his voice echo) that we decided to move to the cafeteria. He people-watched, ate his mum-mums, and didn't eat his real lunch. He has recently developed a hammy smile for the camera, as you can see in the blurry picture.

For the evening, we went to Chris and Keri's for "ghoulash" and to pass out candy (translation: check out all the cute costumes on the little kids). We decided to forgo dressing up the baby (he was sweating in it when we got home from visiting Nich). Brennan loves Chris and Keri's dogs, and we had a fun evening overall. My favorite costumes were a little guy who was a dinosaur (just because he was so adorable) and a girl who was dressed up as a picnic table (she wins the prize for creativity).

Nich said that people at work were still talking about Brennan's visit today. I am thankful that he has such great co-workers. Many of them blessed us by hosting a baby shower for us last January, and it has been fun to take Brennan down once in a while to visit. 

And although Brennan's shirt says he wants candy, we did not give him any.