Saturday, December 31, 2011

Where I am at....2011

As I look back at this year a phrase goes round and round in my head "If God put you where you're at, He will meet you where you are." And I think that pretty much sums up 2011 for me. It was a big year for my clan and I. Peanut's first birthday, Rooster's arrival. Another move by my school district, another fit thrown by me, another perfect fit for this time in my life. Christian started his PhD program. I wrote a children's book. 

It was a big year, and most of these were big surprises. And ones I certainly wasn't hoping for but am so glad they happened. I pray I never forget the lessons of this year. That my plans are so small, and God's plans are so great, and so good. That the less time I spend fighting what is to come, the more time I have to see Jesus in all of the impending chaos. That if God put me where I am at, I can trust that I am stepping into his mercy every single time I step out of bed, even when that is multiple times a night.

A couple days after Christmas I was nursing Rooster in the living room where the Peanut's new tri-cycle was resting. (Where else but Grandma's house are tri-cycles allowed in the living room?) I wish I could tell you that I wasn't resenting the fact that I was the only one in the house awake. But I was. I was so tired. And then I thought of fifteen years from now when the thing with wheels that the girls will want under the tree will likely not be there and will certainly not be operated with pedals. I can already here myself saying "Do you remember the year the Peanut got that tri-cycle? She couldn't yet reach the pedals, but she got around well. That was Rooster's first Christmas, she loved that Elephant rattle, we named him Elvis. Those were the days...."'

I am aware that in some respects I am currently living "the days" the ones I will think about every time I see a little girl. That in some respects, 2011 was the beginning of them. I see the wistful look on my dad's face every time he sees a couple of little girls climbing all over their daddy. I will long for these moments, so I best do less whining and more treasuring. And at the same time give myself more grace, and permission to have a good cry sometimes. Because that is where I have found His mercies on more than one occasion.

The biggest regrets I have for 2011 are the moments when I was stingy with my grace, both to myself and to others, especially my family. The truth is, sometimes your best doesn't cut it....But God can cover the rest. If I am nothing else next year....I want to be gracious, to my body as I get back to where most of my clothes fit, to myself as I balance motherhood, teaching, and being a wife, to my husband as he balances all the Lord has for him, to my friends as they heal through the wounds life has inflicted, to my students who are simply teenagers and no one wants to do that again. I want to give grace because the world says it is unnecessary and a waste of time. But I believe it is healing and facilitates the freedom to do better.

I want to do better next year, whine less, treasure more. Let 2012 be the year of grace. God's grace to me...and through me. I can't help but being a little nervous writing that. We all know what Christ-giving brought....

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Mary: Natural Birth Momma?

It is the second year in a row that I am celebrating Christmas having given birth that year. Hopefully third time is not the charm...... It changes my perspective on Christmas for sure. In the past I have always been sort of enamored with the shepherds. They were my favorites. I mean, there they are just minding there own business when BAM the glory of the Lord totally invades their life.I could relate to that. I have been there.

But the whole mother thing. I could never relate to it at all. I remember thinking as a teen, that maybe the Holy Spirit intervened for Mary, that it was a completely painless and peaceful birth. As serene as so many of those carols we sing suggest. Yes, I thought, a miraculous pain free birth, that must have been it.And that was pretty much how I pictured it all. Even after I went through it twice, until I read this. And I suddenly have a very different picture of how it all went down conjuring in my heart.

I picture Mary on hands and knees, panting and grunting. Looking to Joseph and asking him if it will be over soon. Calling to God that in the middle of transition, that He must have been mistaken. She simply cannot bear the Christ child, let alone raise Him. And then the sense of peace that comes (with all those awesome hormones that come rushing your way) as someone pulls Jesus into her arms and she sees that He is in fact okay, she did in fact bear this child just as the Lord called her to do. He is here, He is glorious, and He is hers. I picture Mary naked and sobbing as she buries her face into the top of Jesus' wet pink head. Later when she and her new baby are cleaned up, her and Joseph sit around and giggle about how tiny His little toes are, what a noisy eater He is. When the shepherds come Mary shows off her new baby. So proud of Him and what she managed to do. But her sweetest moments are the ones that first night when Joseph and all the animals are asleep and she pulls Jesus out of the manager just to smell Him. Joseph is a good guy and all but that was an arranged marriage. This is love at first sight.

I am drawn to the comparison of Christs actual birth and the things that Christ births in each of us. Sometimes it is actual things (anybody know what I should do with that kids book I wrote...anyone out there a literary agent?), sometimes relationships, sometimes freedom from things. God wants to birth things in us. I am struck by the stories I have head about birth, how much they sound like people in spiritual labor.

Like my sister who says half way through pushing she decides it is too hard. She hears the people around her telling her to push, that it is almost done, but really she just wants people to leave her alone. She is too tired and does not want to do it anymore so she just lies there instead, when she should be pushing through it. How often do we do this? Get to the end of something God wants us to do and decide it is simply too hard, we cannot go on. So we do nothing, when we would be better off pushing through.

Or the woman who told her husband "You better get your brother out of here because I am about to take all my clothes off!" Sometimes what we need to do makes other people uncomfortable.....and we need to do it anyway, and let people leave the room if they can't handle it. Sometimes what God is asking us to do is lay our naked soul for all to see. And that can get awkward.

Sometimes it is like my cousin, who in the middle of transition she started packing her bags. She told her husband and her midwife she was not having this baby, that they were leaving the hospital. I can certainly relate to this. Sometimes when God calls us to something we simply flee. Jonah did that as I didn't really work out for Him. But I think sometimes I do leave, and then I am stuck spiritually pregnant and uncomfortable because I got scared and ran away.

Sometimes God's plan for us is like a dear friend's birth. She did everything she could but she needed a c-section. It wasn't at all what she pictured, and when she realized it wasn't going to go down as she had imagined she kicked everyone out of the room to grieve. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, what God has for us is nothing like we imagine. I think God understands that we need to grieve the old plans in order to embrace His new ones.

Or in my case, I need people around me who believe that I can give birth. Because even as I am doing it, I holler out that I cannot. I need my brothers and sisters in Christ to remind me that I can in fact and am in fact doing what I am claiming I cannot do.

Birth is messy and can feel confusing. It comes too quickly in some cases and not quickly enough in others (Oh were worth the wait). It never goes how we expect or plan or picture. I don't pretend to know what it was like for Mary, or any woman for that matter. Birth is completely individual and universal all at the same time, just like our relationships with God. It is hard. But oh it is beautiful in all forms. Birth at all, let alone in a stable, is not the most glorious way to show up on this planet. Often the things God births in us come as screaming needy babies, things that need to be nursed and protected.

If I had been asked how I wanted to come into this world, I don't think I would have picked through a birth canal as a baby. And yet, that is exactly the way Jesus came. He chose the birth process, and I am sure it changed Mary forever, just as it has changed me forever. When I think about Mary birthing the Christ child...I can't help wondering what God is asking me to birth this Christmas, and how it will change me.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Confessions of a Grudge Holder

You would think I would have learned my lesson by now. The one about withholding forgiveness do to my skewed sense of justice. The justice that does not hold hands with mercy but instead demands that I get my due right now! The justice that, when I have occasionally gotten it, leaves me vindicated....and hollow inside. Not at all the way I thought I would feel. Because that justice isn't of the Lord and from the Lord. It does not wait for the redeemer to come and paint a beautiful picture out of a fragmented mess. That justice is of the world......and this is not the first time it has seduced my heart.

You see, I am a grudge holder. Part of it comes from my excellent memory. I remember what people promised and did not, said and did not say. I remember. And more often than I care to admit, I hold it against them. And when the Lord calls me to repent, to go to my sister and brother in Christ and confess that my heart has been hard toward them....I tell Him no.

I grew up spending summers at my grandparents lake. There were thirteen cousins when I was young, with ten of us squished in to the span of 10 years. It was fun much of the time, but when there are that many cousins squished that close together, someone is bound to feel left out. And the dynamics were not in my favor. Looking back from an adult perspective I can tell you that much of the time it wasn't anyones fault, and with my propensity for fit throwing I probably deserved some of  those doors that were slammed in my face. But I needed someone to blame. So I picked my cousin Rachel, the one who was born just six months before me. The one who had no need or desire for the close relationship that I longed for.  I hardened my ten year old heart toward her. And as I grew older I did not put away the ways of my childhood. I continued my grudge-holding. 

When I was in college we both were believers and the Lord called me to confess to her, that I had been storing up slights (real and imagined) since I was ten and holding them against her without her knowledge. But I refused. "No," I told him, "she snubbed me she should go first. If she has this relationship with you then she should know how much she hurt me. She should come to me. I deserve that." Typing this now makes me cringe. What a foolish brat I was. Year after year when we were getting together at Christmas or in the summer I would hear the Lord call, and every year I ignored it. I had stopped adding new slights to the pile and figured that was good enough. Even when I knew it wasn't. 

Rachel died in a car accident the summer we were twenty-one. I never did have that conversation with her. I know I shorted myself out of the relationship that God intended for me to have, and it jacked up my relationship with my aunt for awhile. Until I confessed it all to her. She was gracious enough to forgive me. Good thing she isn't a grudge holder.

A month ago I wrote a post about Christ-Giving, about how I wanted to give this advent season the way that Christ had given to me. At the time I was thinking about financial generosity. He has been so generous to our family this year. But that is not what the Lord had in mind, and apparently He takes the intentions I profess to the internet seriously. He gave me forgiveness, and He has been asking me to forgive others, more like He forgives me. You know, no strings attached. And oh is my heart a tangled mess of strings attached it seems.

I was called to let go of a grudge I had been nursing for a long time. Grudges are like stray cats; they only hang around as long as you feed them. And if I am really honest with myself I have been nursing that grudge because I know that the person I was mad at doesn't really understand how badly I was hurt, and likely never will. I only wanted to confess my grudge if that person would then tell me how I had a right to it, and that I was of course forgiven because what they did was in fact as terrible as I had thought. I only wanted to confess if I would be told that my grudge holding had been justified all along. Which, thrown out in plain English like that, isn't much of a confession at all. 

But that wasn't God's plan. Before any interaction with this person my dear neighbor Esther, who speaks truth in a gentle way I hope to one day emulate, had looked at me and said: perhaps the Lord will allow you to restore your relationship. If that wasn't enough, the Lord gave me the exact words to say on Saturday, moved me to tears in worship on Sunday, and then because God knows just how stubborn He made me, had my pastor list the fruit of the spirit, and stick forgiveness where faithfulness belongs. I know my pastor knows the verse, that slip of the tongue was just for me.

And then God showed me something else. That I had been extending grace and mercy in a certain situation only because I expected that person to repent, and repent soon. The string attached to the love I had been so proudly extending to my friend was that she would change on my timeline. And I was frustrated because my time limit had come and gone and outward change. I felt like this person didn't deserve that grace and mercy anymore because they hadn't changed. How gross is that?

Christ has given me forgiveness, no strings attached. Even if I never repented of anything He still would have come to earth as a baby and grown into the man who chose to die a horrendous death for the sins that I committed. And this Christmas season, I want the gifts that my savior has given me to spur me to give to others, even if that doesn't mean what I thought it meant when I wrote it the first time. And the Lord has certainly granted me forgiveness. Even forgiveness for holding grudges; no strings attached.

I don't want to be a grudge holder anymore. The Lord has scrubbed that crevice of my heart clean. It is raw and a little tender to the touch, but that piece of my heart is clean. 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Let's get physical, physical....

I am lying in bed exhausted. My hands feel as though my thumbs could fall off, my fore arms ache, and my back is asking me why in the world I contorted myself into a c shape for about two hours this evening. My feet aren't happy with me either. The Rooster has had a couple rough nights, and tonight while she wanted to fall asleep around 7:30 or 8, I didn't manage to actually get her truly asleep until about 9:45. I had her asleep three separate times before the fourth one finally took. Lately we have been coming up with "Roosters Rules for Babies" and the first two are: 1. Never ever leave the baby in a room by herself. Ever. Even for a moment. Even if you have to pee. 2. Babies are for holding, pick the baby up whenever possible.

Loving babies is such a physical act. It is even more apparent with my double helping of babydom. Putting on and taking off clothes, and shoes, and jackets. Picking up and putting down. Rocking and swaying and bouncing and walking. Tickling and hugging and kissing and patting. Holding Rooster in one arm while the Peanut grabs my hand and proclaims "walk!" So we go round and round the three rooms and a hallway that connect into a never ending circle of toddler path. And the feeding. Even the one who isn't actually being fed by my body still needs to be put in her seat and sometimes needs help with the spoon.

It is exhausting this physical love, even as I reflect on how it is fleeting. There is only a limited window that I will be able to hold both girls as we head for the car.The Peanut will one day take her own shirt off, rather than pulling it over her head and yelling "tuck, tuck!" (stuck, stuck) and there will come a day when the Rooster will no longer want rocked to sleep.

 I never think about the physicality of love, when I think about love I always think about the confessing of emotions or the listening to someone in pain, the being with someone who is lonely. The emotional burdens bared and shared. But that is not the phase I am in with my children, babies are for holding after all.

And Christ, he came as a baby in a physical body. He needed holding and patting and rocking and changing. This Christmas I have been thinking a lot about the physicality of the incarnation. Christ came in a body that grew just like the two bodies that grew inside of me. He was birthed by a woman in labor just like my own babes. He stubbed his toes often as a toddler and fell every couple of steps when He was learning to walk. And later that body was used to physically touch the people society deemed untouchable. He scooped up babies and stroked the hands of old women. He literally carried burdens for people, firewood or well water.

And then the physicallity of the cross, the brutality inflicted on the body that Christ chose for himself. The willingness of Jesus to endure it all. I am struck this advent season, when I think about Christ coming, by the physicality of Christ's love.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

It's complicated.

I had a hard conversation last night. One of those conversations that you dread getting into and don't feel any better at the end. I felt like I was supposed to speak up, but now I don't know. I could have said some things better, not said some things better. And I find myself thinking about it today. Lucky for me the person that I had the conversation with, we value each other and our relationship more than one awkward conversation that ends in......"well, I'm glad we can be honest with each other." And this person had the grace to email me afterward, just to affirm that this would not change the way we loved each other. Which I appreciate, I needed.

Sometimes friendship is hard, relationships are hard, community is hard. Sometimes you are caught between saying and not, going or not, waiting or not, and there isn't a clear right answer. You can't figure out what the most loving thing to do is. You pray for guidance, but there is still mostly grey, when you are a black and white kind of girl.

You remember the time in the 6th grade when you very sincerely wore your WWJD bracelet, and looked down at it, and contemplated the ramifications of inviting the girl who no one had talked to your entire elementary school career to hang out with you at lunch....and then play with you at recess. You were sort of on the edges of the crowd as it was and you know you are risking a very uncomfortable rest of the year if this goes poorly. But at least that was clear. At least there was a very clear biblical precedent of Jesus inviting the outcast to eat with Him. Jesus would invite this girl. Clearly. So you did, and it worked out.

But right now there are a whole host of things that you don't know how to respond to. You no longer have the bracelet, but asking the questions embroidered onto it leaves you with a new acronym sixth graders have been using, IDK. You don't know what Jesus would do. As much as people like to pretend that the behavior of Jesus was completely consistent; that all we have to do is follow a set of rules that are clearly laid out in the Bible, you've actually read that book and it isn't so clear. Jesus responded differently to what seem like the same set of circumstances. And you are neither omniscient nor omnipotent and you don't want to pretend that you are.

There is just so much grey lately, and you aren't very good at grey. You just want to do the loving thing......and are afraid of unintentionally doing a very unloving thing in the name of doing a loving thing because you did in fact do the wrong thing in the name of love. And it is all as confusing and jumbled up as that last sentence. You realize that there are times that you will in fact do the exact wrong thing. But that the grace and love that you are trying to extend to others is also extended to yourself. So you rest in the knowledge that that grace is enough, even as you stumble through the grey patches.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

What I did this weekend.

Today I am scared. I feel like I am going to throw up. But also, I am proud of myself. I finished my book this weekend. Not that book, the one that has been hanging over my head for four years. Instead I finished the children's book that God laid on my heart a month or so ago. The one God was talking about when He spoke to me as I was looking at myself in the mirror brushing my teeth. "I gave you the kids book because you are afraid of the other book. So finish it, and give it to me and I will prove to you what I can do." I suppose I shouldn't need proof from God that He can provide all my wants and needs. Just look at my great little family.

But stuff I create somehow feels different.It is hard for me to value my own writing. I am not even sure why, I mean, you people read this thing after all! (Thank you for that, I really do feel privileged.) The self doubt screams at me, "Who do you think you are anyway?" I didn't have an answer for that. Until I read this. And the answer is so simple.Who cares about who I am, this isn't about me. This is about not who I am. This is about THE I am, and my obedience to Him. And this weekend (because Christian took the kids, thank you!) I was obedient. I wrote a book that the Lord had laid on my heart. I don't know what He is going to do with it. I am terrified of the rejection I may have set myself up for. But I did it. This weekend, I was faithful. And I need to trust that the God who has always been faithful to me in everything will also be faithful in this. But I still kind of want to puke.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Oh the death spiral.....

The Rooster is sleeping upstairs. The Peanut is at Elizabeth's sleeping in her toddler bed, (her toddler bed! I know...I don't want to talk about it!) and I am sitting on the couch in my silent living room feeling like a bad mom, a bad friend, a bad writer and wife..... I guess bad is not the right word. More like.....not enough. I am feeling like I am not good enough. And I know that I am not enough, but that through the grace of Jesus Christ He makes me enough, more than enough. But right now in this moment I don't feel like that. I feel like I don't cut it.

I suppose I should recognize the pattern in my life. I have been believing some lies about my body lately. Lies about what is\t should look like two months post partum. And so I skimp on the food for the day, not a lot. Just enough to be a little bit hungry. And by not feeding my body I am feeding this lie. That my body is not good enough. And that pretty quickly bleeds into how I am not good enough. At anything, because my kid is not with me, because my house is not clean, because I don't write in this or anything else enough, because...because....because. My sister calls it the death spiral.

I know you know what I am talking about. A post baby body becomes "my body isn't good enough" becomes "My kids are crying because I am not a good enough mother" becomes "my house becomes evidence of my inability I can't even get the toys off the floor" becomes "I am not a good enough wife" becomes you crying in a heap on the couch. Because I fed the lie. The first one. And I have learned that the only way to combat those lies is with truth. It is the only way to stop the death spiral. Because truth brings life just as lies bring death.

The truth is that I am good enough. That God has empowered me to be what my family needs for me.....He gave me them, He knew what He was doing. The truth is my house is a mess.....and my friends don't really care. They get that two kids under two means chaos reigns, and they respect my choice to let the Peanut take all the pans and spoons out of the kitchen drawers while I make dinner so that we can all be in the kitchen happy. They are perfectly happy to trip over those pans. The truth is that my worth resides in not the happiness of my kids, the cleanliness of my house, or even the quality of my words and whether anyone is impressed with them. My worth resides in Jesus Christ, what He did for me on the cross. My savior thinks I am enough, perfect in His abundance. And when you start spouting that, the death spiral has nowhere to go but up.

Friday, November 25, 2011

How I want to celebrate.

Sometimes, I put too much pressure on myself for holidays. I don't know. I spend regular days sometimes, in my worst moments, worrying that I am somehow am screwing it all up for my kids. So, on any given holiday I am capable spending at least half of it worrying that I am doing it all wrong......which ironically, if you are sitting at a holiday gathering worrying if you are doing it all wrong then you are. So relax, self, chill out.

I have been spending some time thinking about Christmas, how I want our family to celebrate. I have such rich memories of Christmas growing up. Of setting out the nativity and reading "The Night Before Christmas," of gingerbread houses and lighting advent candles. I want my girls to have the same.

I don't think there is anything wrong with waking up on Christmas morning and looking forward to your presents. We didn't always have the money to make every kids wish on Christmas morning. But my gifts were always well thought out. I opened them and knew that my parents had paid attention to my wants and needs. I felt loved.

I want that for my girls. I want them to know that I pay attention to and care about the things that they love. But I can already see how fast it can happen, how your house can fill up with plastic and your kids can never be satiated. How it can become all about more, more, more.

I have heard people who are commenting on it all running together. Thanksmas they are calling it. I think that reflecting on what I am thankful for is perhaps the best way to start my Christmas season. But I am not in love with the phrase "Thanksmas." That whole taking Christ out of Christmas thing. So I shoved it together the other way in my head and came up with "Christ-giving". Now that is a holiday I can get behind. A whole holiday month I can celebrate.

I want this to be a time where my girls celebrate what Christ has given to our family. The enormity of Him coming to earth as a baby, as well as the smallest miracle of a parking space close to the store with an empty shopping cart next to it when it is raining and we need it most. Christ has given me every good thing in my life, and I want to reflect on that. And I want those gifts to inspire us to give generously, in the name of Christ. To decide that instead of one more toy at our house, we would rather take an extra name off of the angel tree.

I want to celebrate Christ giving me my family, for providing this year for us abundantly. Giving me my salvation and then lavishing his gifts still further. Wanting wonderful things for me. I want to celebrate by allowing Christ to move into our hearts and move us to give. So, happy "Christ-giving" to you and yours. May God richly bless you as you richly bless others this season.

That's what we are going for anyway....that and copious amounts of cookies.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Because You Probably Need to Hear it.

An open letter to someone specific....that could end up being more than one person specific....God works like that you know.......makes the same word just for you.

God adores you, is over the moon about you. If He slept, He would fall asleep wishing you were next to Him and wake up with your name on His lips. He would stay up all night just to watch you breathe.

He thinks of you as His bride. Every romantic thing you have ever seen done at a wedding in person, or on TV, or in the movies, or in your imagination, God wants to do all of those things for you. He wants to surprise you with His love like that. God wants to make you feel that special. He looks at you like the moment a groom lays eyes on his bride for the first time u. Because He is desperately in love with you and wants everyone to know. Everyone.

Like God wants to not just profess His love to you on the jumbo tron at the game, but at the Super Bowl, at every major league sporting event that will be played for the rest of time, and the minor league ones too. He thinks you are just that incredible. And He wants everyone to know that He thinks you are the most amazing person on earth.

If God were a thirteen year old boy He would make bargains with Himself about, "if you would just let me sit next to her in first period." He would sit in His room and wonder what it was like to just hold your hand. God thinks holding your hand would be incredible.

If God were a thirteen year old girl He would secretly write your name all over the inside cover of His notebook; He would add hearts. He would have a code name for you and rearrange the way He got to class so He could pass your locker multiple times a day.

If you were in a long distance relationship, He would eat ramen noodles for weeks on end just to afford a plane ticket to see you. He would call you at midnight so He could hear you breathing on the other end of the phone when you both fell asleep. He would tell you His astronomical cell phone bill was totally worth it.He would mean that.

God is totally crazy about you. Not the corporal you. YOU, the one who is reading this. He will never get over how much He loves you, loves a million things about you, loves your strengths, and your quirks and the way you.....If God had poker buddies they would stop inviting Him to play because all He does all day is talk about how great you are.

God adores you. He thinks you are incredible, He feels lucky to be with you. God loves you.

This one's for the girls

An open letter to my two beautiful girls.

My heart could explode with all the joy  you give me. I don't know if your momma will always be a working momma. I love my job and think I am good at it....but I am so grateful for these extra months I was given to stay at home. They are such an amazing blessing.

 Rooster, right now it is me and you, everywhere. We are a team. And you are such an easy baby that I politely decline when people offer to take you, even for an hour. I am simply not ready to give you up yet. You are mine. You smile now. And you have glorious dimples. But you make us work for it, or surprise me right when you wake up from a nap and it is just me and you. You seem to come out of your shell in the quiet times. It makes me wonder if your sister may over shadow you, but you don't seem to mind.I can already see how your personalities will challenge and compliment each other. It is hard sometimes, but sisters are amazing. I can already see your babyhood slipping away. Your hair stands down a little now, your new born diapers are too small. You are trying to hold your head up. And as I delight in these things.....I am a little sad. Now I know that once you start doing these things you will never not do them. We can never go back. You have a naturally gentle spirit. And you are so patient with your family. You let your sister try to push your binky back in and then pull it out again and give herself a turn over and over again. And you don't mind. When you cry out because you need something, if you think I am about to guess right you stop crying and wait to see if your needs will be met. I appreciate the grace you give me. I hope you are always that gracious. Don't let me take all the credit for that trait when you get older. God designed you with that graciousness, and it will serve you well. Already, sometimes you need a minute to yourself. You like to sit in your seat and kick your legs, as though you need a moment to just process and be with yourself. It has taken me twenty-eight years to realize I need those times too. Don't be afraid to take them, it is simply how you were made. Don't apologize for it.

And Peanut. You are currently the definition of a laugh riot. I don't think you will ever have to remember to live life to the fullest. You experience everything one hundred percent.You laugh and smile so freely. You cry so loudly when you are upset. When you like something you LOVE it. When you want a book read, you want it read right now, and fifteen times. You woke your dad up from a nap on the couch the other day by sticking a board book in his ear and shouting "he-ya" over and over again. You entertain yourself and others by singing every song you know, and you are good at it. Aunt Em can recognize the songs when we are on the phone and you are only in the background. Even when it is just you and Rooster in the back of the car you are singing. I love it when you sing "Jesus Loves Me." If you just remember that, live by that, you will thrive. You try to hold your sisters hand when you are in the car. Although it occasionally leads to your sister's arm being pulled out of the socket, it also makes me tear up with joy. I am so, so glad the Lord blessed you with each other. The other day someone stopped us in the grocery store, looked at me and said, "that one has a beautiful spirit, doesn't she" she could sense your joy. It rolls off of you in waves, splashing on to not just me and your dad, but the people in our small group, the clerk at the grocery store, the old women in the neighborhood. I have watched your smile infect so many people. I am sure I will be watching that for the rest of my life.

I love you both so much. There are no words that have not been said to describe how much I love you...and every word that has been written is not enough to describe it. But even more than that God loves you. He made you to be incredible people. I am grateful for the opportunity to help in that process.



Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A Heart for Adoption, A Womb that Won't Quit.

When I was sixteen I heard a radio program put on by Focus on the Family. (Don't ask what a teenager was doing listening to Dr. James Dobson, I don't have the answer for that.) I don't remember the context, I just remember the statement: If you are going to be anti-abortion then you must be actively pro-adoption. Period. And I was vehemently anti-abortion, that I knew.

My dad had spent some time defending pro-life picketers when they inevitably got sued. He brought them and their message home and I understood from a very early age what abortion was and God's love for life. I was anti-abortion, that much I knew.

I don't know how to explain how a calm logical if, then statement could strike such a powerful chord in a sixteen year old heart, but God spoke to me in that one sentence. I was called to be actively pro-adoption. So much so that my high school boyfriend and I got into a fight about our imaginary future and if he would be comfortable with adoption. So much so that when that relationship ran it's course (as so many High School relationships do) and my husband and I started getting serious far sooner than anyone had anticipated, I asked him about adoption. How comfortable was he with idea of adopting some of his future children?

I remember telling him that I just wasn't comfortable with fertility drugs, that while that seems to be the path the Lord has for some, if I couldn't get pregnant I didn't want to figure out what was wrong. I wanted to adopt. I told him that even if I could get pregnant I felt called to be the mom of a baby who did not grow in my body, but had been planted in my heart when I was sixteen years old. He listened to my reasoning and shrugged his shoulders "makes sense to me." Adoption was officially in "the plan."

When we ditched the birth control five years into our marriage we both openly talked about how it would make sense for God to make us infertile. We agreed to see what happened for 6 months and then run as fast as we could to qualify for adoption in the United States. That was mid-May. By August I was pregnant. With a beautiful baby girl we were commissioned to parent in our arms, we began thinking about the next step. Eventually, not any time soon of course, but eventually we thought the next one would come through a domestic adoption. But we weren't ready to be the parents of more than one for at least another 2 years at the very minimum.

7 months after Juliet was born I got pregnant. We found out days after my husband resigned from his job to begin PhD school in the fall. And I was confused. Lord, why now? Why, when I so desperately wanted to adopt. When this was a terrible time for any new babies, but especially ones that would grow in my body. And what about those twins I was promised? When are they coming?

Meanwhile my one friend was praying for a baby girl that she did not expect to be adopting right now. She always assumed she would have all her biological ones and then do the adoption thing. My other friend was raising money for a 6 year old boy in Russia that she didn't know she wanted until God whispered in her heart
"he is your son." All three of our babies came home within 8 weeks of each other. Two on the same day.

I have friends and relatives who are trying desperately to get pregnant. People who would make great parents. I don't understand it, and I am sure I could not understand their pain. But my heart aches for them. I wish I knew how to convey that to them.

I wish I knew why God makes the choices He does. Especially when it comes to babies. But I know that His plan is good. Callie and I had a joint baby shower where I remarked that I did not know of a single baby who had received more prayer than hers. She remarked that on this side it seems so hard to imagine the heartbreak that was her two failed placements. I only remember doubting the Lord because I wrote about it. Of course I have always wanted this baby. Of course this is the perfect time. Of course this was the perfect way.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

A weekend in "sometimes"

Sometimes your mom comes to help out for a week and you don't know how your house functioned without her. You now know why your friend's mom thought you would move back to Ohio after the first baby.

Sometimes you attempt to breastfeed in a community that isn't used to public breastfeeders, and end up providing the dinner entertainment for your brother in law. He is sitting across from you and has a great view of all the peoples reactions a second before they try to play it cool. He can't stop laughing about it. You laugh too.

Sometimes your first Atlanta friend hosts a shower at her house with your sister, and your kids second mom, and your neighbor, for you and your other blogging mom friend whose second baby came home on the same day as yours. She calls them twins. You love that. You get a homemade sweater and think about how your first kid has actually worn this woman's love and now your second one gets to too. You get a book featuring a little girl named Priscilla. You love that name. You feel so loved.

Sometimes you have one baby asleep in the sling and the other one is crying and needs to be picked up. So you bend down and scoop the second one up on your hip. She reaches down to pet her sister's hair like she likes to do. You kiss both fuzzy heads and join in the worship. You think, so this is what God means when the old-testament mentions a double portion. It is heavy sometimes but so, so good.

Sometimes you look back on your weekend and are humbled by the blessings in your life.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Community and the Pack

I've noticed something about the Peanut. It is remarkably easier to get her to do something she is supposed to do at Elizabeth's house in front of her "pseudo-siblings." Like eat her dinner and not throw things on the floor, or pick up toys, or say thank you and not throw fits. She just behaves better over there.

My mom spent this week helping out (thanks mom!) and I told her about this observation. Well yeah, she said, it is the pack mentality. The Peanut is a part of that pack, so she is going to act in a way that identifies with the pack. Lucky for me her pack is generally well behaved. So she picks up this good behavior.

I remember feeling this way as a kid, particularly at my grandparent's lake house. There are just things that Frances do! And when I didn't behave the way I was supposed to I felt particular shame because I wasn't acting the way I was expected too, I wasn't aligning myself with the pack of cousins.

The pack mentality is particularly evident when you teach in the vastly different communities that I have taught in. If you are a students, at Roswell, it is just easier to do what you are supposed to do. Because everyone else is following the rules and you will stand out for not doing the right thing. At Banneker, the opposite was true. It took a lot of resistance to the pack to consistently do what you were supposed to do.

In some ways I think this is why God wants us in community with other believers. It is easier to live a Godly life when I identify with a Godly group. Because I identify with 1027 church and one of their goals is to give generously of their time, then it is easier for me to do the same personally and not just corporately. It aligns me with the pack. Heck, one of the things my church says is important is telling my story. I'm not sure it is a coincidence that more than one of us has a blog. It is part of who we are. It aligns us with the intentions of our pack.

I know pack mentality isn't always a good thing. I teach teenagers, believe me, I know. But if you choose your pack wisely.....I think it can be. How many times have you heard parents say "we don't do that." Identifying the rule as a family behavior pattern helps.

Who is your pack?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Learning to Love

About two weeks ago I finally pulled the "I love my neighbor" bumper sticker out that the church gives out and put it on my car. As I was proudly affixing said sticker to my car my neighbor waved me over. This neighbor loves babies, and she had put in a formal request to see Rooster with our other neighbor. But I just hadn't gotten around to it.

I get it God. I get it. If I am going to run around town with a car that says it, I better mean it. And really Abby, it wouldn't have taken that much to give your neighbor some joy before this. So off I trotted to bring Rooster over to Ms. Hattie. And let the Peanut run around her front yard as Ms. Hattie laughed and commented on how busy I must be. Then she mentioned that she had no one to rake her leaves. So we got a group together this weekend and raked. Well, everyone else raked and I chased the Peanut around while wearing Rooster. And Ms. Hattie laughed.

I am learning how healing and comforting babies can be. And I have two! One that will let anyone cuddle her and another that will have a chat with the world. People love babies, and sometimes I am selfish with mine.I don't want to go down the street two houses. I just don't feel like it. And sometimes, even worse, I want these babies all to myself. To snuggle and cuddle and only want to go to me. ( I am well aware if this were the case I would be pulling my hair out and writing over and over again in this thing STOP TOUCHING ME!) 

But I have kids who love loving. They are friendly and funny and the Peanut would be happy to share your chips with you by stuffing them one at a time into your mouth and yelling MMMMM as you chew. And if I want kids who love their neighbor then I have to start now. which means running around the front yard more often, and letting other people hug on my kids. And answer the same questions about them a hundred times, because hey what is it going to hurt. Loving my neighbors is not convenient for me. Because it isn't about me. And here is the crazy thing, when I love my neighbor, which isn't about makes me better. It makes me a better mom, a better wife. It makes me feel like I did something more than input and output for the under two set. Loving my neighbor makes me love me.....funny how God designs that.

Thursday, November 03, 2011

I don't want a sister wife...I do want a communal house.

I have a serious affinity for terrible television. The best way to some it up is that Christian and I both refer to Khloe Kardashian as ""my girl." Actually, Christian refers to all of the Kardashian sisters as "your girl" because he can't tell them apart......anyway. I love bad TV, and I found a new bad love. 

So I am a little late to the party, but I just caught the first two seasons of Sister Wives on Netflix. For those of you who don't waste hours watching reality TV, the show follows a practicing polygamist family. One dad four moms of four separate families that all live in one big house and also function as one big family. Now, let me say up front that I am not down with polygamy. And I don't believe God is down with it either..... Just so we are clear NOT ENDORSING POLYGAMY. 

So I don't want their lifestyle.....but I do want their house. And I want their sense of community. Basically you walk in the front door and there are separate mini-houses off of a main hallway. They also have some really good insight about how to live in community. I guess you would have to if you voluntarily decided to live in "the lifestyle" as they call it. One of the women talks about how she was raised in the lifestyle and had always wanted to be a third wife. She really wanted to be a third wife because she wanted the community with the other women, and also because she saw having other wives to depend on as freeing.

They all talk about it, the freedom of having multiple adults to depend on. If someone is caught up at work or at the doctor there is another adult who can get your kid from school. If one adult is really good at making Halloween costumes and the other one is good at cooking big dinners, and still another wants a high powered career they just farm out the responsibilities and let everyone do the things they want and are good at. The fourth wife was a single mom for three years. You can almost see the weight lifted off of her shoulders when she talks about being part of a team. She doesn't have to be everything to her kids anymore.

Still another wife (the first wife) talks a lot about adjusting to the other people. How when she gets her back up about something, it is she who needs an attitude adjustment. How ultimately living in community with these other women makes her kinder, gentler, less selfish. She talks about how it is okay for it to be hard. To wrestle with it even as she does it. That just because something is hard and uncomfortable doesn't mean we shouldn't do it. It means that we can choose to grow in it, to let God prune us. And we can trust that if God called us into something (not saying God called them into this lifestyle, but God does call us into different relationships with people) then it will shake out better than ever when you get through that hard spot. 

I have been interested in communal living for awhile. Before I followed blogs I would check up on a blog about two sisters who shared a house ( If I had the means I would build an addition onto my house and move a set of grandparents in with us. Elizabeth and I talk about how much easier our lives would be if we lived in a duplex. It is hard in some ways, I get that. You have to be more flexible and less bothered by things. You have to let a lot roll off your back, you have to share more. You have to share your stuff, and you have to share your life. Your emotions, your heart, your vulnerabilities. It isn't always comfortable. Sometimes you just don't want to be inconvenienced. But your life is richer for it....and you are changed for the better.

This whole thing has made me think about how interesting it is that someone could have some stuff so so right and other stuff really really wrong. Their marriage may be jacked up, but they model community and loving each other well. If they all had separate husbands but continued to live in the same house sharing life...sign me up. I wonder what I have in my life that God would think, that piece is right but that piece WAY wrong.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Don't take it! It is MINE!

I was talking with a dear friend a couple weeks ago. She was struggling to give something to God, wanting desperately to hang on to it. She knew that God had give it to her. She believed that this thing would continue to grow in a way that would glorify God. But she was afraid to give it back to Him.....what if He kept it? We've all been there. Oh Lord, how I have been there!

It reminds me of the stage that the Peanut is in right now. (And can I tell you how humbling it is to see my relationship with God mirrored in my relationship with my 18 month old...and God shows me that I am acting like my toddler....seriously humbling.) Peanut knows what she wants, whether it is to carry her toothbrush around the house, or more of the cherry-limeade that I got from Sonic for us to share. That she has already had more than half of. But sometimes she doesn't know the best way to get it.

Take for instance the much sought after cherry Sonic goodness. If we are down to the bottom of the cup, then the straw has to be inserted at exactly the right angle. And you can't tip the cup up. And the straw needs to be pushed all the way in. Those of us who have been using a straw for twenty-eight years or more understand these concepts so well we no longer think about them. But an 18 month old is still learning the ways of the fast-food world. All she knows, when I take the cup away so that she can access the carbonated corn syrup better, is that she was holding the cup and had the straw headed towards her mouth......and now she doesn't. NO! DON'T TAKE MY SUGAR FROM ME! I WAS DRINKING THAT! YOU GAVE IT TO ME! HOW COULD YOU TAKE IT BACK! A serious fit ensues.She doesn't understand that I am not taking it away, but in fact making it so she can drink better. I am improving, fixing, giving her more of the goodness....

How often in my life am I hanging on to something so stinking tight it takes forever for God to wrestle my hands off of it....Then I yell and cry that it isn't fair....only for Him to give it back to me in a way that makes the whole thing....better. And here I was in the middle of my fit. Pardon me as I pick my embarrassed self up off the floor and attempt to walk away with dignity.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Have I mentioned?

Have I mentioned that I love my church?  I do. I love my church. And not just because I am currently receiving meals at my door step two days a week. There are so many things I love about my church. One of those things was highlighted last night.

I was at a baby shower for one of the many pregnant/ post-partum women in my church (seriously, it is an epidemic....don't drink the coffee). There are 6 of us either pregnant or mothering a baby under 1, take into account there are only about 15 married couples total (including those well past child bearing age) and only about 60 people on any given Sunday....the pregnancy percentage is high. We got to talking about how great it is to be a mom at 1027 church. Mostly because the "mommy wars" there is so much hub-bub about online....don't exist there. The standard line seems to be "oh, you do it like"

From ultrasounds (one family doesn't get any, one family gets one every time they go to the office) to breastfeeding (exclusive, both, only formula) to working (stay at home, part time, full time) to anything else you can think of there is the full spectrum at our house of worship. And never do I hear a bad thing said about the way anyone else parents.We were sitting around discussing my cloth diapers, and how the parents to be were definitively not going to do cloth. And I get it, the thought grosses people out, plus disposables are easier. Cool. I am not going to bicker with you about what collects your kids poop. I just am not. And neither are they.

But we will love each others kids and support each other as parents. In fact, we will stand as a church and corporately promise to do just that. And we will mean it.If someone needs a sitter and you can possibly do it, even if that means you have to rearrange your schedule a do. If someone looks exhausted, like they just need a minute, you take their kid out of their arms and give them that minute. Or when a woman laments that her and her husband haven't been on a date in 6 months about seven people DEMAND that they be called to babysit in the next few weeks.

My church rejoices in every milestone the peanut and the rooster (formerly known as spike) have. Delight in them right along with me. And I get to delight in their kids too! I don't know of another baby who was more prayed for than my friend Callie's little girl. And the rejoicing that happened, for the next two weeks every conversation that I had with a member of my church started with "Did you hear, the Riches got their daughter" or "Have you seen the pictures of Evangeline?" That baby came home to her parents, yes. But she also came home to her church.

Yesterday Christian and I went out to a party thrown by one of the other PhD students in his department. We left Juliet sleeping at home with Esther, an awesome woman of God. And when we came home she looked at us and said, "seriously any time" and meant it! I didn't have to feel like I had burdened her. She loves the Peanut too.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Let me take you to Dun duh dun: Toddler Town!

As my due date creeped closer and closer and I started having contractions more and more often, I began to be concerned. The Peanut, while able to walk, simply preferred crawling. How the heck was I going to manage anything if I had two kids I had to carry around. Well, as my colleagues at Banneker taught me, God doesn't always come when you want Him, but He always comes right on time. (This is my second favorite phase I learned teaching in a predominantly black community. The first being: Charge that to my head, not to my heart.)

The Peanut started walking 85% of the time the day we got Spike home from the hospital. And we are officially living in Toddler Town, where every moment someone is pulling on your hand demanding walk, WALK! I would say the one word I would use to describe baby phase is sweet. Everything is just so sweet, the little toes, the little clothes, the first everything is just so sweet to witness. The toddler phase word in this house is FUN! The Peanut is so fun right now. And to celebrate this fun time in our house, the Top Ten signs you have entered Toddler Town.

1. You invite the toddler to watch you in the bathroom in the hopes that they will soon gain interest in the potty. The toddler points at you while peeing and exclaims EEEwwww eewww EEEEEWWWW! Then tries to pull all of the toilet paper off the roll.

2. Every question is answered with a resounding NO! But that negative is often switched to an affirmative when asked "By no, do you mean yes?" (Wouldn't it be great if you could get every "no" in your life changed like that?)

3. The bathroom door remains shut at all times (even if no one is in there) because while there has been no interest in peeing in the potty, there is great interest playing in the toilet. Plus the roll of toilet paper is again, very fun to unroll.

4. Things that were once safe on the dining room table are now in the danger zone because the toddler has learned to pull out the chairs, crawl on them to get on top of the table and wreak havoc with anything she has found. Someone especially likes  to dump out all the salt or pepper and then make designs in it. The toddler does all this while telling herself "no, no, naughty, uh-uh".

5. You have spent a twenty minute drive singing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" over and over because the toddler in the back claps and yells YEAH! And then starts singing again every time you finish.

6. While in public you spend a lot of time explaining that everything everyone else has "doesn't belong to us" because the toddler thinks it is acceptable to climb into a strangers wagon, or walk up to a strange woman drinking a coke, smack her lips and say mmmmmm in hopes of getting a drink.

7. You go through about 4 dish towels a day because you have to repeatedly clean up the dog water that has been spilled out of the dog dish that is now upside down and being pushed around on the floor while the toddler yells "beep beep."

8. You are often interrupted by "AAAAAAH! stuck, stuck!" because there are a myriad of places the toddler can get into but not out of.

9. You lose your keys, or glasses that you swear were just right on that table, because put things in other things is the new favorite game. You find whatever it is you were missing a week later in the toe of your boot you haven't worn in two weeks but never got around to putting away.

10. Anything and everything that can be worn around a neck is worn around the neck: purses, jewelery, my sling, the top of the tiny potty, Christian's underwear, etc.

It is exhausting, and at times frustrating. But I laugh every single day, look at Christian and exclaim, "did you just catch what our daughter did?" Because it is fun to just be a witness.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Reality Check: You can't earn God's favor.

Funny thing happened. I started a Facebook status update and realized I had a lot more to say. Or rather, I wanted to work through these thoughts in a bigger space. And the Peanut is with Elizabeth, and Spike is snoozing in the bouncy chair so I guess I will take the time to think about something that isn't what is coming in or out of my children.

I am not an expert on economic issues. I have never taken a course on economics in my entire life. I grew up in a house with a serious conservative bent, and deeply respect the thoughts of the people who raised me. They love God and they serve Him and they are really stinking smart. I spent my college days in an extremely liberal activity and am in a profession that tends to vote democrat. I have met people there who love God and serve Him and vote democrat. Many of them are also pretty smart. I don't think either party has a lock on what Jesus would do if He were a senator. I give you this information as a disclaimer because am getting all fired up about Occupy Wall Street.

More specifically, I am getting all fired up about what I have seen people posting on Facebook about Occupy Wall Street. Namely, I am agitated by the posts that keep popping up about how hard someone worked for their stuff and if those protesters would just work hard enough they could have that too. When sentiments like that come out of the mouths of believers, frankly, it makes me want to throw up. You can disagree with the protesters all day long and I will not puke on your shoes. But please do not tell me that the reason you are living a solid middle class American life is because you have worked really hard, not because you have been blessed by God. His favor has been poured out onto you.

Yes, maybe you did work really hard. I am by no means discrediting every single hour you worked. And yes, maybe you did teach your kids the right things about money and they listened and are being responsible. That is a great legacy that will surely benefit not just your children, but your children's children. But those money principles are biblical, and how blessed were you to go to a church that taught those things? You were blessed with a job that makes ends meet and granted favor in that position that you were able to stay, or even get promoted. You were blessed with kids who have the ability to go to college, with either no major medical bills, or God provided the means to pay them. You live in a safe country, in a safe neighborhood, in a house that isn't killing you or being foreclosed on because you planned well, and also because God blessed you. He protected you from calamity and/or provided when bad things happened.

Maybe I am particularly sensitive to this because I am right smack dab in the middle of the fountain of God's favor in my life. I have two healthy amazing kids. I work at a job that lets me take more than minimum maternity leave AND God totally provided financially for us during this time. All the paychecks I am missing are in the bank for safe keeping. Yes, I worked extra but God was very gracious with getting me the job and providing above what I earned from summer school. Then just because God is a crazy giver, He gives me a free second car seat (that we were considering buying). But God doesn't stop there Spike likes to rock at night and it has become clear I may need a glider upstairs. Elizabeth said we could borrow hers, and I have a lead on a FREE one from Craigslist. We just have to nail down when I am going to pick it up. I was given the two things I told Christian I needed to buy for Spike the morning I was going to go get them (seriously people, you need some swaddle blankets). Then Christian's cohorts and professors hand him a 100 bucks to Target! Happy Baby! These are just the things I can remember off hand. But I know for sure I earned none of this. I am blessed by God.

I don't know if the rich are too rich, or if they don't pay enough taxes. I am not informed enough to construct an opinion on that at the moment. I don't know how to fix health care or retirement. I DO think that we need some sort of guaranteed paid maternity leave in this country. But I don't know how to make it work. And I certainly don't know how to fix the housing crisis or our economy. But I do recognize the favor the Lord has given me. And  am so very grateful for His blessing.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tis so Sweet

The past week I have been humming "Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus" a lot. A couple times a day. I am not doing it on purpose. But the fullness of my heart is spilling out of my mouth. (Which is a nice change from the whining that was spilling out of my mouth the last month of pregnancy.) I just feel so blessed. Priscilla (tentatively being referred to as Spike) is a great eater which makes her a great sleeper....and a champion pooper....but hey I will take it.

And I am feeling truly blessed getting to stay home with my oldest. The Peanut is so so fun right now. She learns new words every single day, and while she won't say it on command I have heard her say her sisters name three times. This doesn't mean that I am not well aware that at any moment when I am with them and Christian is at class all three of us could collapse into tears.  But when it is good it is so so good.

I was comparing notes with a friend from church who has a six month old that was a surprise baby. Both of us were talking about how sweet our bonus babies were, how we steal moments with our daughters like 16 year-olds in serious puppy love, that we call this one MY baby and inhale into their soft fuzzy heads. It is so so sweet to trust in the plan God has for me.

The Peanut has been taking to Spike better and better each day. She is actual touching Spike's head softly when she says "nice, nice" rather than the whacking she had done previously. She also likes to share snacks with Spike....which is sweet and dangerous all at the same time. But truly hilarious when she just pretends her sister is eating the cereal by going mmmmMMMmmm and then smacking her lips.

Life with two under two is awesome, but it is intense. Constantly keeping tabs on whether everyone is safe, dry, and full is about all I can handle. Today was the first day I had both kids while Christian was at class. There was only one time when both kids were crying and I didn't cry once. So we will call today a resounding success. I don't want to down play the chaos, and exhaustion that is my daily life (because I have been trying to write this post for a week, but there were always more pressing matters, or I was too tired). I spend most of my days clinging to God's grace, and the rest of it praising God for providing that grace. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

And now.....a Birth Story

I went into the hospital the Friday of Labor Day weekend sure I was going to have this baby. Sure. And they sent me home.....and I cried. And the same thing at three in the morning on monday. I would wake up with full on contractions and by the time I got to the hospital....nothing. It wasn't really the pain. Pain I can manage. It was the adreniline signals my body kept sending my brain, like "okay! any day now! any moment! stay ready!" They were so intense Christian and I agreed it was time to stop working. I literally felt like I would have to rush to the hospital at any moment and the thought of doing that from Roswell was just too much. So I called my department head and went to my appointment on Tuesday where I cried, and learned my body had been contracting for a week and was making no progress......same thing next Tuesday. 39 weeks, same as 37 sorry about your discomfort...the baby will come when she is ready...... That weekend was Jill's birthday and since there was no baby, what the hey, her husband and I threw her a suprise party. Where I had contractions all day and the next day on Jill's actual birthday.

I was pretty desperate when I walked in to my forty week apointment. If you had told me at 37 weeks I would have contractions on and off for three weeks we would no longer be friends, even facebook friends. Blocked. I had been praying that the Lord would provide the right midwife to see me. My practice has been expanding rapidly and they have added three new midwives in the last couple months. I like them all, but they are all different.

I ended up with Linda, who listened to me cry and told me I was sweet. She asked about my last birth and then checked me. Yes I was in labor....sort of. Head was in position, cervix was ripe, dialated three centimeters......Did I want her to strip my membranes? This is the point a month ago I would have told you my answer would be no! The less messing around you do the better, that baby will come when she is ready, just leave her alone! But your opinion changes when you are miserable, so instead I answered please, do something, anything to get this baby out!

So she did and then I dialated another centimeter and on the way home I started having contractions. Real ones. Enough that I called Christian and put him on notice and Elizabeth convinced me I probably shouldn't be alone. So I came over to her place and took a huge nap in her bed. I figured if these were not real, this would stall them out.

I woke up still contracting. Enough that Elizabeth let me know I was under no circumstances allowed to drive...she knows me too well I am afraid. So I called Jill who checked out of work early and went and got Christian. Then they picked me up and got our stuff and went to the hospital. Where we discovered no progress had been made but I was in labor. And Anjili (the midwife) wanted to know if I wanted to walk around for a little bit, see where things were and decide from there.

This is the part where I beg her not to send me home. Anything but that, what else could we do? After talking with Anjili, Christian and I took some time to weigh our options. This was perhaps the coolest part. I got all the information from my care giver, and talked it over with my husband, and then I got to make the decision about what I wanted to do. No pressure, no intimidation. Every one was going to support whatever I decided. Really, whether a scheduled C or a waterbirth at 42 weeks, I wish everyone I knew got to be in charge of their birth.

My main concern was avoiding a C-section. Anjili assured me that this was probably not going to happen. And she even told me that if breaking my water didn't move things along as we expected, then she thought I could handle a low dose of pitocin without an epidural. But I knew that I could make peace with an epidural, and being reassured I would most likely not need a c-section I decided to go ahead and get admitted.

Christian, Jill, and apparently Anjili went downstairs and got Chick-fil-a while I hoped my body made progress.We text messaged everyone we could think of to pray that I wouldn't need the pitocin. I spent the next hour or so walking in circles with Jill around the labor and delivery floor hoping that things were moving along. When Anjili came to check I was still at four centimeters. She broke my water and encouraged me to do all the things that get gravity on your side, so I lunged and bounced on the birth ball, did squats and paced the floor. There was a marathon of What Not to Wear on, so that kept me busy too.

The next time Anjili checked I was 5 centimeters and the contractions were clearly picking up. She told me she would come back at around 11. At about 10:15 Jill asked me if I wanted to call Anjili. I said I was going to have at least two more contractions, but in the next contraction I told her to call. I wanted in the tub. And I was going to puke. I hate puking.

This labor was definitely more intense than my last. Anjili came in and didn't bother checking me. I was clearly having this baby, no pitocin needed! I got in the tub and the contractions became more intense. I ooooohhhhhhed as loud as I could. The TV was on and it helped to be able to block out that noise with my noise. It also helped to watch the water vibrate as my sound hit it. I needed visual proof of the power of my noise. A couple times I freaked out, and I said I wanted drugs at least once. Last time I was keeping all of those thoughts I "wasn't supposed to have" to myself. Not this time; I knew that for me when something is said out loud it has a lot less power than the thought I am hiding in my head. So I went for it. I said what I needed to say, and then I turned to look at each person in the room and every single person said I could do this, my midwife, my sister, my husband, the nurse. So I did it. Also, what choice do you have when your midwife refuses to get you out of the tub and give you the drugs, and isn't even being firm about it but smiling telling you no!

In the middle of my biggest contraction I was OOOOOOOHHHHHHing away when I looked dead at Christian and said "this kid better look like me!" then went right back to OOOOOHHHHHH and when everyone started laughing I stopped the OOOOOOHHHHH to inform everyone "I wasn't joking!" Especially at the beginning of her life Juliet resembled her dad. I don't resent that at all, but I figured this one was my turn.

I had some trouble in the pushing last time. So this time I read that chapter about three times and did all the exercises the book recommended. I declared myself an expert pusher. Even as I was going through contractions I declared myself an expert pusher. I will keep that title thank you very much. It took about four pushes to get Priscilla out. I was getting frustrated because I could feel her go back in every time I quit pushing, but was assured I was making good progress. Then, one more good push and they were flipping me around and handing me my sweet baby girl.

Through out this whole pregnancy I knew this baby was relaxed, nothing seemed to phase her. Heck, I think that was the reason she didn't come out when I started contracting. She simply was not bothered by them. Every time they checked her heart beat: 140 exactly. Because nothing phases her. Not even birth. We had to tickle her feet to get her to cry just to make sure her lungs were working. Because not even birth bothered her.

Holding Priscilla for the first time was incredible. I had asked the Lord a couple times to show me what she was like. And every time the Lord answered "she is perfect for your family, exactly what I have for you. And when I held her, I understood. This didn't feel like a new thing, it felt like.....Priscilla, the next piece of my something I didn't even know was missing had been returned to me.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Note to self: Be Nice.

I am a big believer in self talk. I really believe that the things you tell yourself all day are the things you believe. Even if the things going on inside of your head are things you would never EVER admit to thinking. (Unless of course you are me and voice every internal thought on your blog.)

My notice of self talk started my junior year of college. I had had some trouble memorizing speeches in the past. Not the interpretive events that I thought were fun, the straight up speeches that people think of when you tell them you are on the speech team. Anyway, I had to memorize my persuasion and it was not going well. I just couldn't get it. Until I had a total melt down and then proceeded to tell myself in the hallway of the comm building, out loud: You are a good memorizer, memorization comes easily, you are fully capable of this. And then I was. Same thing happened my first year of teaching. I spent many days driving to work saying out loud: you can do this, they can learn from you, you are going to teach them today. And I did.

So why do I look in the mirror today and think, you are fat and do not look good, body get it together. No. Abby, you get it together. Your body grew a baby. An eight pound baby. And then pushed it out! Now it is feeding that baby with very little issue. And less than a week after the baby came out your body carried you to church in clothes that were not maternity clothes. (Note to currently pregnant women. I have no idea how this happened. I had nothing to do with it!) So I am changing my self talk. Good job body! You rock! Rest and ice cream and lots and lots of water for you.

Friday, September 23, 2011

The Moment

Sometimes God gives you those moments. The moment, the one where He whispers into your ear, "This is what I had for you. When you doubted me, this is why it was important to trust me. Your ways, your plan Abby would not have gotten you here. With your heart this full, with your family so rich with the gifts of little girls. I wanted to give you these girls because I love you."

Those moments don't always come when you are expecting them. On the way home from the hospital we decided to go get take out. I wanted a bacon cheeseburger (What? My midwife said my iron was low....). So we stopped at Farm Burger where I went in to look at the menu then went back outside so Christian could go in and order the food and then we would bring it home. That was the plan. The line was long so I hopped in the back where I could look at Priscilla and interact with Juliet. That is where the Lord spoke those glorious things to me.

And it was there I was reminded of all of my angst. The angst from college about when and if Christian would propose, the anxiousness I did not surrender when we moved to Atlanta, the angst from my pregnancy with Juliet when I didn't know if she was the twins....who would care for her when I worked....whether I could even manage to be a mom, oh and the angst I lived in so many of these nine months. Which was so bad the entire month of September I couldn't write about anything because I knew how pathetically whiny I would sound. What wasted energy, how silly I have been. The worry brought me nothing but misery.

 And I heard the Lord say in the still small voice: "Hang on to this Abby, cling to this moment. Remember why you trust me with the plans I have for you. Your angst is not a part of the plan."

Minutes later Christian returned with the food and started the car......only the car wouldn't start. And we couldn't get a hold of anyone, except a friend who listened to it and said it probably was not the battery, rather something expensive like a belt. And Juliet needed a nap and Priscilla needed fed and she had just taken a giant merconium poo (and if you don't know what that is DO NOT google it). And I was hungry and sore.

So we piled  out of the car ate our burgers eventually got a hold of Elizabeth to pick us up.....and it was fine. The kids handled themselves beautifully. The peanut was her usual gregarious self and made friends with everyone around she was making faces in the window to the delight of the family inside. Meanwhile Christian has nicknamed the new addition "the amazing unflappable baby." She snoozed, she gas smiled, she chilled. The owner of the farm burger brought me water, told me to let him know if Juliet needed a snack, and offered to take us home if we were still there when the lunch rush was over.

But Elizabeth and the truck got there at the same time, and while we were sure it was not the battery, he jumped us anyway and we were on our way. No harm, no foul. I am so grateful I didn't waste any angst over that. Perhaps I am learning. I know I am certainly blessed.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


So the peanut is officially walking. And when you don't clap for her she walks around clapping for herself. And yelling YEAH! which comes out Yah-ehhh, Yah-ehhh!

I hope this is not a phase. I hope she always claps for herself. And why not? Why not celebrate your victories, be impressed with something you just learned how to do? So it is something that most people do and everyone expected her to do it. So what? She didn't do it before and now she does. And that is worth celebrating!

When do we stop doing this, being impressed with our own ability? Do we learn it in school, or as teenagers? Why not celebrate our own personal victories, no matter how ordinary? So what if everyone else is already doing it, now you are too! You've joined that party! Good for you!

Recently in my life, I've started blogging again (YEAH!), One of my students told me they noticed I was trying to make learning fun (YEAH!), Christian with the help of Thomas fixed the Volvo without ever having to take it to a professional (YEAH!), I've been reading my Bible more regularly (YEAH!)

What is going on with you that you should be cheering about? (That isn't rhetorical, I really want to know!)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A Birth Story

DISCLAIMER: I think that birth stories are important. I know they have recently become maybe a little cliche. I also know that I am so so blessed to have a natural non-medicated birth. That while some of it was my planning and desire, ultimately (like so much if motherhood) it was by the grace of God that I could have the experience I had.

On Wednesday, April 28 I was pretty sure my water had broke. Every time I stood up it felt like I had wet my pants. So I googled this (hey, it is what I do....) and found that in some cases this probably meant I had sprung a leak. I called my sisters and my mom to let them know that I thought my water was leaking and I had an appointment that afternoon and I was sure we would have the baby today.........Except I didn't. My midwife checked and whatever was leaking wasn't my water, so I went back home and had to call everyone to say false alarm. Did you know there is a condition called hydra-rhea where your pregnant body is retaining so much water your body simply can't take it anymore and it leaks out? Sometimes down your leg while you are standing in a high school library media center causing the librarian media specialist to FREAK OUT? I had an occasional contraction here and there but they would subside.

Friday Christian and I met Jill and Calvin at the Savage pizza. We were trying to find the best pizza in Atlanta, it was good but not the best. After dinner we went back to our house to play wii and hang out. I was having strong enough contractions that I called the midwife. She told me to try to get some sleep. How the heck was I supposed to go to sleep? I should have trusted my ability to sleep through any situation. I did fall asleep as Calvin and Christian continued to play Mario Kart. Occasionally, Christian would check on me. The guys went to sleep at about four in the morning and I woke up at 8 or so.

Jill and Calvin had spent the night expecting that I would want to go to the hospital any minute. Jill and I went for a walk in the hopes that that would really get the contractions going, and they did get stronger as I walked around my neighborhood. We may have broken into the back door of a house for sale around the corner. Then we headed home because I was uncomfortable enough that I thought I should go home. So we walked home. We went in the back door, and there sitting on my tree that shades my deck there was a very large owl.

This owl was not deterred by my sisters very large dog. He looked straight at us, and Jill and I both immediately recognized as something more than an owl. I had been receiving a word from God that I was going to have twins, boy twins. I knew I would come home from the hospital with either 2 boys, or the girl who showed on the ultrasound. The owl reminded me that God was in charge. That He knew what was coming.

After breakfast, Jill and Calvin went to go get some Saturday errands done while we went to the hospital, we would call Jill when it was time. I went into the hospital they put me and Christian in a room and had me fill out my own paperwork. Apparently, I had plenty of time. They didn't check me or anything, but I apparently was showing very early according to my face. So I filled out the paperwork and waited in the room, Christian was counting through the contractions for me at this point. But it still wasn't anything I couldn't handle.

So the nurse came in and she was chatty, and I am chatty, and so we were chatting, till she checked me. She looked at me and asked "Honey, are you sure you are okay?" (She was very southern.) and when I said yeah she responded "Honey, I am so proud of you! You are at 7 centimeters!" I started laughing and made some phone calls. I wanted to let people know I was for sure in labor this time. We also called Jill to tell her to get back to the hospital. At this point I was still trying to chat up the intake nurse (I really, really liked her. And I talk when I am nervous, or excited, or doing something new, or awake.) and she finally had to cut me off, explaining that at seven centimeters I needed to get my midwife and move to an actual delivery room pronto. But not so many rooms were available right this second, and they were hoping for a big one since I was asking a for a tub.

My delivery nurse came in, looked at my face, looked at the contraction charts, didn't believe the first nurse that I was in fact seven centimeters, and asked if she could check me. She was not as encouraging or as optimistic. I knew immediately I didn't like her. I wanted a cheerleader and she was more of a pragmatist. What I really wanted was to keep the first nurse. I found out later that I could have asked for another nurse, that apparently you can trade? Who knew. Now you know.

I had been hooked up to a monitor this whole time. The baby has to get some kind of awake and moving reading for a certain amount of time before they will let you get into the water. I wanted in the water. Margaret, my midwife, walked into the room, looked at the test and tossed me some ice water and twenty minutes later I was ready to roll.

I spent the next hour or so slung over the tub squatting on my knees. I was doing really well moaning through the contractions as long as I kept my tones open and low. The second I started panicking was the second my tone would rise. Christian spent a lot of the contractions chanting at me looooooooow loooooooow looooooooow while pointing his finger down. It helped a lot.

When transition came I completely freaked. I felt helpless and that I COULD NOT do this. The fear took over. My midwife flipped me over when she realized that Christian and Jill were unable to talk me down this time. "What are you afraid of?" she asked me. We went through everything, the pain, no, being a mom, no. Well then if you aren't afraid of anything then you can get rid of the fear. And I did. The other thing that helped  me in transition was the other birth stories that had been shared with me. The first time my cousin Kim was giving birth she got up and started re-packing her bag  when she hit transition. The feeling of "I have to get out of here!" Was so great that she tried to leave, insisting she was not in fact going to have that baby. That was exactly how I felt. And having an anecdote of how someone else felt and reacted reminded me that the feelings I were having were normal. This is what was supposed to happen.

Pushing took longer than  my midwife expected, but about an hour later I felt the shoulders slip out and exclaimed "that's a baby." And it was. My baby, the girl I knew that God wanted to give me first. And every single story that you have ever heard about how that moment is magical, beyond anything you could ever experience presents itself as true.

And then your body gives you this awesome euphoria and you don't sleep for hours because you are too entranced by this perfect thing, that God gave you. You are too busy staring at her.

Maybe I can do this again.....

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sisterhood of the traveling....sisterhood

This past weekend Jill moved into my neighborhood! Her and Calvin closed on a sweet house with a seriously sweet price in a great little neighborhood ( I may be partial...) YEAH! We are super excited to have her and she has promised not to move again in a year and a half and I have promised to not be eight months pregnant if she does move in a year and a half (please Lord!). Jill and Calvin moved to Atlanta about a month before I was due with the Peanut.

The interesting thing to first, Jill moving to Atlanta, and second, my serious joy that she lives 1.4 miles from my home is there was a time growing up where this did not seem likely. We couldn't be in the same 170  person marching band marching in completely different sections that never actually had to talk to each other and not have a couple of yelling matches (two that I recall).

Recently I read a line about mother hood. This mom was lamenting the fact that her family was done growing, and she remained daughterless. She described the mother daughter relationship as uniquely complicated. I was taken off guard. I don't think of my relationship with my mom as complicated. Maybe I am just part of a ridiculously lucky minority, but I just hope I can do as good of a job as she did.  I always felt (and still feel) loved and accepted. I know my mom is always rooting for me. There were no big battles to allow me my adulthood. It just was.

But sisters. Those were complicated for me. I wanted to be just like my sisters and at the exact same time completely different. I sometimes resented being "The third France" but know I would have been heart broken had I not been linked to the previous two.

I find myself thinking about sisters a lot lately. I am about to have a pair of them in my home after all. I find myself fretting over what to buy new just for the new baby and what is it okay to share? I want to make sure that the little one knows she was wanted and special and got everything her sister did. I want the big one to know she is wanted and special and not being replaced. And I want them to share well. And each have special things to pass down to their daughters but still have enough that mostly belongs to everybody.

I think I am trying too hard to control the stuff because it is the only thing I can control. I cannot control the Peanut's reaction to her sister, or the temperament of the new baby. I cannot control the ways they will inevitably attempt to torture each other or the hurt they may inflict. I cannot control whether or not they will think of each other as their best friends as adults, like I think of my sisters, but I can hope. And I do.

I sometimes worry that I will put too much pressure on them, to be best of friends from day one. I need to remember it takes time. I didn't even choose my own sisters as my maids of honor (though I regret that now) that somewhere along the way push came to shove and it occurred to me that the people who understand me best are the ones who were raised in the same house as me. God built in my adult best friends, it is an amazing gift. I pray that the same will be true for my girls.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Mixed Feelings

I have been having some mixed feelings about welcoming this new baby recently. I know, I know, I am considered full term so is kind of late for all of that. She could literally come at any moment, and medically speaking that would be just fine. But me? In the spring I was all, "I could have this baby tomorrow, and I wouldn't need to do anything! Yeah for another girl!" and now I am all "I could have this baby tomorrow and I wouldn't have done anything! AAAAH I am having another baby!"

Yesterday I did manage to go to Target and get a diaper bag that is big enough for two kids, and a sizing stuffed animal for Priscilla. I don't want to make the Peanut share her bear. Teddy is the only thing she seems genuinely attached to. So now there are just a few things that are on my MUST DO list. They are not things like get the newborn clothes in order or set up the new crib and pack and play upstairs so the baby has some places to sleep. I guess I figure if I don't do that someone else will.

I did find out yesterday I have to take the water birth class again, so that sounds like a heck of a Friday night! (I really want to bring a flask....just to see what would happen.....). I suppose I should be grateful North Fulton had an opening this Friday. Because for a minute there last night it looked like if I wanted a water birth, it was likely to happen only in my own tub....and my midwives don't make house calls. But as is so often the case with me I was freaking out about one things because I did not want to deal with the other.

Then I read this amazing post and suddenly I understood what I was really freaking out about. My family is about to change. Forever. And that is scary, and a little sad. The weeks before my wedding I cried a lot more than I thought I would. But looking back it made sense. I knew this would be the last time I would celebrate Christmas with the family I had always celebrated with. I would no longer be calling the house I grew up in, home. I no longer claimed exclusive rights to my bedroom, because it wasn't anymore. My bedroom, my life, my family would now be the one I shared with my husband, not the one my parents provided for me. My new life was what the Lord had for me, and I am so grateful He did. But the old one was no more, and sometimes, even when it is good change, change is sad.

The Lord allows for that. Besides Ecclesiastes, where I am assured there is a time for my sadness, many times the psalmists mourn and grieve. So here it is. While I am thrilled to meet this perfect little girl who the Lord has picked out exactly for our family, I am sad. I am sad that Juliet will no longer be the baby. I am sad that there will be parts of her journey that I will miss because I will be focused on her sister. I am wistful that this marks the Peanut as a little girl who is quickly leaving her babyhood behind. That while she will always be my  baby, she will no longer be the baby. And while I know how very amazing the sister relationship can be, I am a little sad that Juliet and Priscilla will not always share their secrets with me. They will have each other to run to, it may not always be Mommy who best soothes those bumps and bruises. Sisters only is an important creed. I know. I have said my mom. I am so glad Juliet will get to be the big sister. And I know that God has designed her to fill that role. But I am sad that that means that she is growing up, in a way that is more concrete to me than weaning, or a first birthday, becoming a big sister is a line in the sand.

Lately she has been cuddling more. The Peanut likes to lift up my shirt, pat my belly and say "baby, baby" (granted she also does this with Christian so maybe it isn't as impressive as it sounds.) She likes to cuddle with my bump, wrap her arms around the sides, her torso around the top and rest her head on her sister. I wonder if she knows this time where she does not have to wait her turn is coming to an end. She still is not walking, she could, just no interest. It is as though she is reminding me that she is still a baby, still needs me to hold her. I do feel guilty changing her existence like this. With little warning and no input from her, her family will be altered. Another little person is coming to live at our house......permanently. How will this change her?

Ultimately I know that this is what the Lord wants. Not just for me, but for my daughters. Both of them. And I trust His judgement infinitely more than my fears.

Friday, August 19, 2011

How do you ask?

I wish I knew why I struggle with asking....but I do. I really struggle with asking for stuff. I don't like to feel like I am bothering anyone. In my head I convince myself that the thing that I want or need is some huge inconvenience to the person I am asking. And even if I really want it or kinda need it I really hate asking. Which is ridiculous I know, because I would always tell a friend: Ask! what is it going to hurt? Let people bless you!

But me? No way. I think it must be a self esteem issue....or maybe some leftover baggage from the fibromyalgia. Either way I want to raise my daughters to speak up for themselves and feel like the Lord has made them and want them to not just have what they need, but get the things they want too. Not that they deserve it, but because they are the daughters of a king who wants to bless them.

But this week I have made some strides. I got assigned a parking space that was quite a bit further from the building than another open parking space. And I this baby has put some serious precious on my pelvis, so a couple times a week, every single step hurts. So.....I went to the parking guru and asked her for a closer spot. I know it seems like it isn't a big deal. Especially because I so obviously am pregnant and I feel like if you saw me waddling around you would know that walking is currently taking a serious effort. But for me, it was a big deal. I got really nervous about asking. But I did, and I didn't back down when she asked if it was that much closer. Instead I rubbed my monstrosity of a belly and gave her sad eyes. Because it IS important to me right now. And I got my spot, no big deal! It seriously took a less than two minutes. But I did not like having to ask.

I have been praying recently for a camera. Not a fancy SLR or anything, but just a high quality point and shoot that we can take pictures with. I managed to kill ours by getting it wet at Friends Lake at the beginning of our vacation. With baby two coming in 30 some odd days (wait, what? I NEED MORE TIME!) and the Peanut changing so often, now is not the time to be without a camera. Could you imagine in 15 years when I have at least a picture a day for the first few months of the one daughter and none of the other? No good. Well, ask and you shall receive. Somehow I mentioned that we needed a new camera on my way home and my awesome carpool buddy said something like, Oh I think I have an extra. 12 mega pixels and 5 times zoom later I am the proud owner of a new free camera. Thank you Megan! Thank you Jesus!

But now I have to ask someone to take my new camera and shoot some pictures. I don't want anything fancy. Just some shots of me and Juliet and Christian interacting. The ones of just Juliet and Christian I can do. Vice versa for Juliet and me. I suppose I should take some maternity shots since I had them done with Juliet....and because I look much better this time around. But the thought of asking one of my friends to take these pictures feels like a REALLY BIG DEAL. Even though if I put myself in the position of being asked I would think it would be really fun. And I am talking about maybe 20 minutes or so of picture taking. And yet....

I am learning that God wants us to ask for things, rather than simply providing before we ask, because He wants us to understand that He thinks we are worth blessing. That He values us. Not just so we will understand our dependence on Him. I am glad He is patient with me. God, I'm working on it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Whats up with the Peanut?

A lot happens in a month when your kid has only had 15 of them. I read somewhere that there are different types of mom, and you shouldn't feel terrible if exclaiming of itty-bitty baby toes and waiting in line to hold the youngest member of your extended family isn't your gig you shouldn't sweat it. Not everyone is ALL ABOUT BABIES! I seem to fall  into this camp. This summer I feel like the Peanuts personality is really starting to show through and she is so, so funny! She really is quite a ham. If she finds out something will make you laugh or clap for her, get ready to see it repeatedly. Her new tricks include:

-Standing up all on her own. She then proceeds to clap for herself and yell "Ya-ehhh!" If you don't join the cheering the first time she will cheer louder until you join in.

-Singing the EIEIO part whenever Old MacDonald is sung or played. If she wants to you to sing it because nothing else is going on she will look at you and repeat EIEIO until you figure it out and start filling that farm.

-Using many things as a walker so she can tool around the house but NOT walk. She seems to be adamant about that not walking thing......

-Counting to three, and leaping on top of you at three (her dad taught her this one). If you don't brace to catch her or hold out your arms she will repeat two. twooooo. TWOOO until you comply

-And the trick I am not a fan of... when things aren't going her way she pitches quite an impressive fit. She throws herself on the ground and bangs her hands and head on the ground screaming. At church we tried to ignore it so she rolled until she was hitting Christian's shoe and proceeded in the screaming.

Over all it has just been really fun to be her mom lately. I am beginning to see what the Bible is talking about when it says that God delights in His children. I know all this stuff that the Peanut is doing is developmentally appropriate. But I can't help but think because she can point at the cheese dip and yell mmmmm MMMMM that my child is not only the cutest thing in all of Atlanta, but also a communication genius.