February 23, 2010

A post to make Schmanda smile (because we miss her):

Josh’s Salad-Man face (the ORIGINAL):

August’s Salad-Man face (sans salad):

Even a Huster Cereal-Man face! (Bonus!):

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February 18, 2010

Brought to you by August’s afternoon nap.  A precursor to the birth story:

I never expected that childbirth would feel so much like death.  In spite of the healthy respect I have for women from my many hours spent in a labor room (always on the other side) caring for, encouraging, comforting, cheering on mothers and occasionally catching babies, I was not prepared.

I am now positive that no woman ever is.

I have never tried to convince anyone that I knew what childbirth felt like–physically, emotionally or otherwise.  I’ve seen the tears, heard the groans, wiped the sweat, took part in the dance of laboring a child into the world but never, ever had I uttered the words “I know”.   I’ve seen mothers push their bodies to the limits and I know that our bodies are a thing which can be trusted.  A mother’s body knows how to conceive, grow, nurture and bring forth a child.  I do not need to place blind faith in the ability of a woman’s body to birth.  I have seen it time and again and can testify.

Still, I did not realize that my own delivery would take me so close to feeling as if death were imminent.   It was so much harder than I ever expected, and so much richer.

I paced, I squatted, I cursed, I cried, I pulled at my hair and, near the end, made sure everyone around me knew that I was dying.  Goodbye, this is the end for me. I am dying.

Labor is excruciating.  Choosing not to receive medication takes the courage to say I know my body can do this and I am willing to stand by that no matter how hard it gets. And it gets harder than one who has not been to the depths of labor can imagine.  It is as if you are being pulled under by a wave of pulsating pain.  You are drowning and all you want to do is fight for your life (for surely you are dying) with flailing arms, explosive words and tensed muscles.  It is the fight of your life and the only way to win is to give in.  To allow that pain and fear to come and wash over you, through you and, eventually, past you.  And with each contraction your mind is telling you this is it, this time it will kill you. But it is in these terrifying moments when you must allow that still, small, quiet and peaceful voice in your heart to remind you, I was made for this.

I’ve now attended several births since my own and I still am in awe of the power of childbirth.  And as I am with these mothers while they go through that impossible point in labor when death seems imminent, I cannot help but hold their hand and quietly say I know. I know.  I know that going through the pain is possible.  That somehow, our bodies overcome.  I know how difficult it is to let go and allow that pain to come without fighting.  And, ultimately, I know that it is temporary; death does not win.  The moment following the most chaotic, awful, death-defying pain of your life, you will burst with tears of joy.  New life.  Your baby.

Motherhood is the most important relationship in the continuum of life.  Standing in the face of death is a small price to pay to get there.

February 16, 2010

I wish I had more time to write about our fun weekend, full of activity.

August turned 3 months old and fits into his first pair of footie PJ’s (size 6 months!) and I’m in love:

We celebrated Valentine’s Day:

By going on a family hike:

And spending some time at the bookstore:

Josh was so sweet and bought me flowers, sushi and set up the living room to look like a spa…for a massage!

I, in turn, brought him a Valentine’s Day cookie from the hospital in a biohazard bag.  Nothing says love like protection from germs.

Monday was Josh’s 30th BIRTHDAY! And he had the day off.

We had breakfast at Luciles:

Cupcakes at Tee & Cakes:

A trip to REI:

And an afternoon walk at the Denver Botanical Garden with friends:

Happy 30th Josh! I’m glad you’re the older one!

February 11, 2010

We’re getting as close as we can to the late-winter blues here in Colorado.  Although I’m sure it’s a relative experience when we have just enough snow to remind us it’s cold outside and the sun is usually bright in a blue sky:

Last winter I learned that Colorado’s largest snow fall (by both volume and frequency) happens in March.  I recall this because last March I was full of nausea and malaise and stuck inside a cold, dreary apartment during my early gestation of THIS GUY. So, needless to say, we’re expecting things to get worse before they improve (holding to the knowledge that things always improve).

This morning, during August’s nap, I feel inspired to share a few insights into our current lives.

Josh and I met 5 years ago through a (LARGE) small group that met in the house I was living in with Kristi and Amanda.  I had the pleasure of co-leading this group with a good friend and grew incredibly in my faith and understanding of community and grace during this time.  In many ways, this group set the stage for our passion to be involved in a different way of approaching church.  During the first years of our marriage we were part of a house church that continued to teach us much about the mission and work of the church and how to effectively integrate discipleship and service into that community setting.  During the summer of 2008 as we lived nomadically, moved across the country and spent months traveling abroad, we continued to experience community in unexpected ways.  We tent-camped and hosteled across the country with our good friend Huster, we stayed in the homes of friends and fellow believers, in Costa Rica we were invited into the home of missionaries, in Peru we lived with a native family.  In all of these situations we shared meals, experiences good conversation, were challenged out of our comfort zones, and we felt the grace of God in the way others were so willing to open their homes and lives to us.  There’s something so sacred about a home, whether it is your or someone else’s. The well-worn couch, a refrigerator stocked with favorite foods, a warm shower, family pictures, good books, comfortable conversation.  Once we arrived and began to settle in Denver, Josh and I went through a difficult period of aligning what we’d learned about Christian community and how we had been inspired to approach church and what we felt was available to us.  We initially attended a local, traditional church and although we appreciated the teaching and some great friends we met as a part of that community, we continued to feel restless and desired to be apart of something different.  We networked as best we could with our unusual schedules (at the time Josh was in grad school, I was working night shift) and, by God’s grace, connected with a group of house churches that met in our area called Emmaus Road.  What a blessing this has been.  To share meals, connect through the Word, sing off-pitched scantily accompanied worship songs in a crowded living room, sharing joys and tears with children running around in just enough chaos to make it real.  We’re looking forward to diving further into this community and possibly bridging this with our desire to integrate a L’Abri atmosphere of discipleship.

We’ve started writing August’s birth story and hope to finish and share it soon.  It’s amazing to me how quickly some of those small memories can begin to fade.  I’m so thankful to Amy for (among other things) capturing some great pictures for us of August’s birth.  We had exactly the birth we had hoped for.

I was inspired by this clever idea and wanted to begin recording parts of our current lives and August’s “firsts” in some way.  Unfortunately when I found this journal in a local bookstore, I wasn’t impressed with the look of it.  Instead I found a couple of adorable journals and Josh and I have been writing short memories, thoughts and experiences with August each day (sometimes both of us, other times just one or the other).  It has been such an encouragement in my growth as a mother to put to words some of the emotions I feel about August and to record my hopes for him (and also to explore some of the difficulties of figuring out this mothering role).  Also, I think it has been good for our growth as parents to be able to read of each other’s experience of parenthood (and all its newness, joys and challenges).

August with his journals:

Recently I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with some encouraging women.  This week we found ourselves in a conversation about loss and grieving in motherhood.  Their words were particularly comforting to me: to hear how other mothers are experiencing loss and grief and continuing to grow.  This week I’ve spent some time acknowledging and grieving.  The loss of my pre-baby relationship with Josh, the loss of my pre-baby body, the loss of my personal time and spontaneity, etc.  It has been a great time of thankfulness–for what was and what will be in the future.

August’s growth is happening exponentially.  Lately it seems as if everyday he’s learning something new or changing in some way.  He will be 3 months old tomorrow.

In our ever-developing quest to pursue simplicity we’ve come across an interesting new routine: The Oil Cleansing Method.  Have you heard of it??  At first we were both skeptical as we both have a history of less-than perfect complexions (always an area of frustration) and the thought of adding oil to my already oily face honestly made me cringe.  I’m the type of girl that wants to scrub until my skin feels squeaky clean.  Over the past year I found a face wash I enjoyed (so did my skin, luckily) and I even convinced my sister to try it.  So I wasn’t necessarily looking for a solution to a problem but the Oil Cleansing Method seems to be simple, good for my skin and inexpensive.  Josh and I both jumped in feet first last week (Josh needed a little convincing) and since then we’ve been pleasantly surprised with the results.  Our perfect mixture appears to be 3 parts castor oil, 1 part sunflower seed oil and a few drops of tea tree oil.  Has anyone else tried it?

Oh, and I started back to work last week with just a shift a week.

February 2, 2010

Today, August laughed.

What he was laughing at wasn’t nearly as funny as hearing him laugh.