Saturday, February 1, 2014

Kids, military and Washington

Here are my main points for this post: I love my kids. I love the military. I do not love Washington.

I love my kids. I went through a few months where I had a hard time taking as much joy in my work as a mom as I normally do. I'm still not sure all the reasons why, but it was mostly because I was not relying on the Lord like I should have. I was getting bogged down with self-pity, exhaustion and longing for the freedom I used to have before my days of motherhood. It was pure selfishness. I think everyone has those moments in whatever they do, but I let it consume me for a while. Maybe this is getting too personal for a public blog, but I am happily back to where I need to be. For a long time one of my favorite verses has been Psalm 51:10-12. I memorized it a while ago because of the worship song and it's one of those passages that just comes back to me all the time. I'm not even a huge fan of the tune it was given, but it frequently gets in my head without me realizing it. This happened to me when I was still in the middle of my "selfish phase" and the line "restore to me the joy of Your salvation" hit me harder than it ever has before. Yes, I need a clean heart and a right spirit, but I also need to take joy in the fact that I am saved. Even if I'm going about my motherly duties like I should, doing it grudgingly makes it almost futile. Same goes with almost anything. If I go through the motions without taking joy in my work, my family, my salvation then it's all just a waste of time in a sense.

So, I'm now much more joyful. I still have my hard days, of course; my self-pitying, short-tempered, self-centered days. But the Lord has made me more aware and I'm much more willing to listen. I never stopped loving my kids, but I love mothering my kids even more now. I can't explain the enthusiasm I get when I'm able to teach them something new. You could make an SNL skit out of it. Annie recently learned how to say "bye" (well, it's more like "baaaa", but I think that sounds better anyway) and I pretty much lost my mind. When Will saw how excited I was he started running around screaming "Bye! Bye! Bye!", hoping for the same reaction. Naturally, I couldn't disappoint him.

I love that he loves animals like I do. He has such a passion for learning anything and we take advantage of it whenever we can. My favorite place to teach him anything is outside, which is one of the reasons I struggle with Seattle (but I'll get to that later). He's hesitant to do anything that gets him messy, which usually means I have to get messy myself to show him how fun it is. I'm not gonna lie - I've spent some time splashing in mud puddles like an idiot until he joins me. I did a little damage the other day, however, when we went outside to look for worms after it rained. When I turned my back he found a particularly large, juicy dead worm and excitedly shoved it in my face to show me. I screamed and ran away which made him cry and that was the end of worm hunting.

He's been coming out with so many unexpected comments too. As we were pulling out of the driveway the other day and I started driving down the street without closing the garage he yelled "Mommy close the garage!". It may sound like nothing, but it floored me how aware he was of something like that. We've never talked about or explained to him that we need to close the garage when we leave the house, but it's one of those things he's silently observed from his little car seat in the back. And now he's finally vocal enough to tell me about it and many other things too. It's so interesting and helpful that he can explain some of his emotions to me now. He can tell me that he gets nervous when his room is too dark or that when kids on the playground run by him really fast sometimes he gets scared. He can also tell me how much fun he has at playgroup and that he misses Daddy when he goes to work. These are all things that have been floating around in his little mind for a while now and I've been dying hear about.

Annie is our sweet little screamer. I have never seen such a sweet little girl with such a set of lungs. She really has no "in-between". She is either all smiles or screaming bloody murder. Thankfully, the former is 90% of the time when she's her normal self and we can't get enough of her. She's also understanding so much more and able to play with Will, which is fun for both of them. They play chase, roll balls back and forth, dance together to Daniel Tiger and laugh hysterically in the bathtub while splashing each other. They can't wait to see each other in the morning and Will is completely irritated if Annie is still napping when he gets up from his afternoon nap.

I love the military. I really do. We're coming up on four years that Andrew's been in and about three and a half that we've lived in Silverdale. I was thrilled from day one that I was marrying a military man. At that point I had very little understanding of anything military, let alone the Navy, but I looked at them like a little boy looks at firefighters. They are heroes - celebrity level. And my husband was going to be one of them. I have a more personal view of the military and its members now, but my thoughts on their heroism has never changed. I still know nothing compared to the average military wife, but I look forward to learning more and becoming more involved for as long as we decide to stay in. And for those who are wondering, we have no idea how long that will be. I'm thankful for a husband that does not make rash decisions. He takes things a step at a time and never assumes anything. I did not realize at first just how necessary that is in a leader of a family.

But for now, I love living on base. When we hopefully move to Charleston in a couple months we will not be living on base. Even the base housing is there is not gated like it is here, but we will most likely be renting a house out in town. When I started thinking about that realistically I became so aware of the security I've felt living on this base. I was driving the other day with the kids and saw a whole line of Humvees and BearCats driving down the road. I immediately felt that much safer and that much prouder. I love that I'm forced to be reminded every day of the hard work these people are doing to keep us safe. It's in my face at all times. Most Americans don't get that. I'm convinced more and more that most people rarely think about it or come close to appreciating it like they should. No matter your political view or moral issues, understand the fact that if these men and women one day decided not to show up to work then your life as you know it is over. Don't forget about that sacrifice just because most of it is happening thousands of miles away. And appreciate the ones that are here on American soil defending and preparing. But I digress.

I do not like Washington. Some people are baffled by this and even a little hurt by it and I really do understand why. This area of the country is gorgeous. There are no two ways about it. If and when the sun comes out and you see those snowcapped mountains on one side and the sparkling Puget Sound on the other it absolutely takes your breath away. If you're looking for a place to take a summer vacation you cannot beat it out here. So there we go. But…

It's too quiet. You can hear a pin drop at night and I do not like that. I need crickets and frogs and cicadas singing me to sleep. I need kids running around the streets playing hockey. The people are quiet. Maybe it's the base or the weather, but I've heard it's mostly the area - these are not social people. Everyone seems to be hiding away in their dens hibernating even in the summer. Now it's rare that you meet someone that is downright rude like many Philly people. Washingtonians are mostly cordial and will help you if need be, but then they're going to run back inside and close and lock the doors. This doesn't go for every person, of course, but most just like their space. They want their alone time and a lot of it. I understand and I don't hold it against anyone, but it's not my thang. I like my space, but I also love my friends. I love going to a new church and having twelve different people invite me over for lunch. I love having five different playgroups to choose from where I get ten more invitations to Stroller Stride, yoga class, a random kid's birthday party. I love walking outside and not feeling like I'm overstepping my bounds to wave at a neighbor. Heck, I'd even settle for just knowing their names. Admittedly, it also has something to do with my lifestyle right now. I'm a stay-at-home mom sharing a car with her Navy husband. This does not spell social butterfly. But I also know it's not all in my head since I've frequently heard the term the "Seattle freeze". Google it. It's real. My days are quiet and my nights are eerily silent even with the window open. I miss the noise. Aside from the people I love who live there I will never call myself a fan of the city of Philadelphia, but I will say one thing; they acknowledge your presence even if it's just to tell you to move out of the way or shut the bleep up. And that's alright by me.

Monday, August 12, 2013

To my teenage daughter

A little background: This is the first draft of a letter I plan to give to Annie and any other girl I may have when they become a teenager. As I said, I am under-qualified to write this, but I want to get down some of my thoughts about the teen years before they become too blurry. I'm sure I will edit and add to this over the years as I continue to learn and mature in faith, but you have to start somewhere.

Dear sweet daughter,

To be honest, I don't feel qualified to write this letter and maybe I'm not, but there are some things I want you to know about being a teenager while it's still clearly in my memory. Only six years separates me from my thirty-year-old self and my eighteen-year-old self, freshly graduated from high school. As a stay-at-home mommy of two I feel a little caught in the middle sometimes. There are still many childish things about me and I'm painfully aware of the immaturities that have hung on all these years. I still cringe sometimes when I hear myself say something I know I shouldn't or throw an internal fit that would put my "terrible twos" son to shame. But I also count each gray hair that sprouts on my head (I guess if I can still count them then that's a good sign). I look in the mirror each year and watch the shadows under my eyes get a little darker. I feel the weight of the worries of this adult world and wonder if it was really only four years ago that I was still a teenager myself.

I've learned some, but not even close to all the things I should from my teenage years. As I look back at my old self now the thing that reaches up and punches me in the face the most was my obsession with myself. It's not an uncommon thing to notice in people, children, but especially teens. The world tells you it is all about you. Even your teachers drill it into your brain that you need to make good grades so than you can go to college and get a degree and make lots of money to take care of yourself. Good grades are good. Going to college is great. Getting a good job is fantastic. Having enough money to provide yourself and others is quite handy as well. Clarence, the angel from It's A Wonderful Life, tells George Bailey that there is no money in heaven. "Well, it sure comes in handy down here bub", George replies. There is nothing wrong with having money, but that is not why you're going to school and doing the best you can.

School is your task that God has given you right now. We all have tasks at different times of our life and it is our duty to the Lord to complete that task as best we can. No questions asked. As parents we encourage you and enforce rules about school as servants of the Lord. We are given the task to be sure our children do what they are told to the glory of God. When you graduate high school God will have a new task for you. It may be college or missions work or sweeping the floor of a mall. Whatever task He gives you it will be perfect for His plan and you will finish it with flying colors because He gives you the strength to do so. Do not listen to the world when they tell you that your number one concern should be yourself. Do not buy into the idea that your purpose on this earth is make yourself as happy as possible. You are here to serve others and serve the Lord. That is your purpose and God will reward you with joy much deeper than what you feel when that cute boy smiles at you.

In my junior year of high school, Facebook hadn't quite exploded like it later did and was still the thing. It was similar in that you could make your own profile and post pictures. That year I had two good girlfriends and the three of us were inseparable for a while. One day I decided to post a picture of myself (or a "selfie") on my account. I did what most girls do - took a few pictures while making various pensive and borderline seductive faces and edited it with different effects to make myself look as pretty as possible. Once I was satisfied I made it my profile picture. I checked back later to find lots of likes and comments telling me how great I looked, including some good-looking guys from school. Although I knew my two friends had seen the picture, there wasn't a word from any of us about it the next day at school, which was not unusual. However, that next night I logged on MySpace to find two new heavily edited profile pictures from both of them as well with plenty of complimentary comments and likes. It was remarkable how quickly my self-confidence went down as I watched the number of compliments they got match, and even exceed my own. We all later admitted that we checked back at all three pictures regularly to see who had the most likes and comments. Sick, right? I formed a silent competition with my friends over looks. Not enemies; not that girl in class that all the guys like and you just can't stand it. These were my good friends and we were evaluating our own worth in the most superficial way possible. We were hoping against hope that we would be voted the prettiest and the most desirable and if we weren't, it was crushing.

I say this not to make you lose even more respect for me, but in hopes that you'll understand how easy it is to fall into this self-centered pitfall. It is all around you every day. I'm not writing this to put an end to "selfies", but I am asking that you and every other female out there be real with themselves about what they are doing when they take a picture of themselves to post to Facebook, Instagram, text to their friends, etc. Ask yourself why you are doing that. Is what you are doing bringing glory to God or glory to yourself? Are you seeking approval from others? Are you relying on your own physical beauty to give you the self-worth you're searching for? Proverbs 5:6 says, "[Folly] gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it." Do not make the mistake of choosing to be naive and oblivious to your own selfishness. That's what fools do and you are not foolish. Make the decision to fess up and fix it. We are all prone to wander and inclined to think of ourselves first. We all need to end the day on our knees asking the Lord to forgive us for all the ways we honored ourself that day. If you can learn to do that as a teenager it will only get easier. Self-centeredness is a habit-forming drug. It feels good and it's addicting to take care of ourselves. It feels right because everyone else seems to be looking out for themselves, so why should we put them first? What's the use in serving all of these selfish people? Learn to be a light and others will see the greatness of God in you. Your friends, your teachers, your future husband will look at you with more awe than they ever had when they saw that picture of you in your new cute dress. You will be establishing a habit that is absolutely vital to have as you walk through life as a christian woman.

It is a difficult road and you will be tested at every turn. Many folks will be determined to pull you down into the mud, but your God never gives you more than You can handle. He will be your strength and will hold you through every mean comment you receive, every friend you lose, every boy that rejects you, every party you miss. He will never leave you and will praise you for your steadfast faith in Him and determination to put others before yourself. And maybe you will escape your teen years with a few less regrets than your dear old mom.

I love you, sweet girl, and am praying for you always.


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Letter to the woman considering abortion

To the mother (or father) considering aborting your baby,

This is not an attack. This is not a lecture. This is not a letter to tell you how selfish and horrible you are. This is a plea. I'm pleading with you like I would plead with a man holding a gun and pointing it at my own children. Yes, it is that dramatic and it is a child inside your belly. It may be tiny and you can't tell that it's even there. It may be five pounds and kicking your bladder all night long. Either way, it is your child and it is fully dependent on you. The law recognizes this. If a man shoots and kills a pregnant woman he is charged with two counts of murder. Here's an example of this just happening a few days ago:

I recently read an article raising the question of whether or not it is morally right to post your baby's pictures on Facebook and other social media. The writer of the article was presenting the idea that the baby, no matter how young, has rights and parents are violating those rights by making the decision to post pictures of their babies. I'm not going to address that particular issue, but it is plain that most of the world acknowledges that a child has rights, no matter the age. It also acknowledges that, as parents, we have the very important job of protecting the rights of our children. We are their advocates. Everywhere we go - as we hold their hands crossing the street, translate their toddler jibberish for strangers in the grocery store, display their coloring pages on our fridge, carry them in our bellies for nine long months -  we are their caregivers, representatives, protectors, fully and completely responsible for their well-being.

That all sounds sweet and romantic, but it is hard not to get hung up on the doubts and questions and fears. I had those with my first child who was a complete surprise to my husband and I. Even within the comfort of my own home with a steady paycheck and a loyal husband, I was, at times, terrified. Yes, I was scared of how I was going to take care of and raise a baby and all the usual fears that a mother and father have. But I was often more afraid of how I was going to give up my time, my future, my list of things I still wanted to do, my life. The moment I became pregnant that is what I was asked to do. To give up my life. And that's what the world gets hung up on. Should we really ask women to give up their life just because there is a life inside of her? Shouldn't the life that just got started be snuffed out before we are able to see it's face and really have to think about what we're doing? Doesn't the mother's life, which is already in full swing, matter more than the tiny life that is still slowly growing? The mother will be losing so much more than the child, won't she? She'll be losing her freedom to drink, to smoke, to party, to go to college, to vacation on the beach, to have enough money to buy that hat she had her eye on. I'm not making this stuff up. These are reasons given by women who decided to abort their babies and they may be running through your own mind, even if you don't want to admit it. You, the terrified, lonely mom. You are already a mom. Most people acknowledge this fact as well. Go to the greeting card section of any drug store and find the "Expectant mother" section. You'll find all kinds of phrases like "Congrats Mommy!" and "I'm growing a human. What did you do today?". A human, not a fetus. Call up Kate Middleton and she'll tell you whether the world thought she had a "fetus" inside of her or a "royal baby".

It's a baby. It comes with lots of responsibility and lots of fears. It will ruin all your plans and keep you home on nights when you wish you were out. But it will give you more joy than any degree, any boyfriend, any string bikini and any margarita could ever give. I mean it - go ask people on the street or in a store if they have kids. Ask them if those kids have given them joy. They might say "Yes, but plenty of headaches, too." Or "Yes, especially when they're out of the house." We're all realistic about how difficult it is to raise a person. No one sugar coats that and no one is going to tell you it's a piece of cake. But neither is grad school and that's what a lot of women "choose" over parenting.

You do have a right to choose. Everyone has a right to choose. I have a right to choose whether I'm going to go on a shooting spree today or not. I have a right to choose whether or not I'm going to sit quietly and watch women abort, kill, dispose of their babies or stand between them and the innocent and beg that they reconsider. It's all I can do, but I think it would be wrong not to try. Your baby is counting on you even if he or she doesn't realize it. Even my own six-month-old does not realize she depends on me to keep her alive. She just knows that I do. She sees me and smiles because she knows I feed her, I cuddle her, I tickle her until she laughs. She never has to question whether I'll take her to the doctor if she gets sick or strap her into her car seat when we go to the store. She can't comprehend any of those things, but if I marched up to a clinic and handed her over saying, "Dispose of this somehow because I am not ready for this much work" I would be thrown into jail before you can say "Planned Parenthood". Why? Because she's a life. She's a little life just like she was a year ago in my stomach, only 12 weeks old. Defend this life inside of you, whether it appeared on accident or not. Accidents happen. Two-year-olds have dressers fall on top of them and suffer serious brain damage. Parents do not deal with accidents by giving up and saying it's too much to handle or too much of an inconvenience and neither should you. Take a deep breath, swallow those fears and stand up for your child. Reach out to a Crisis Pregnancy Center near you that will help you through your pregnancy and birth. Give a WIC (Women, Infants, Children) center a call and get registered to help you get what you need financially. They give you breastfeeding classes, discounts on baby supplies, food, encouragement, etc. Call someone you know who has a baby and ask them to help you through this. Any woman that has had a baby knows the difficult times and the wonderful times and you won't feel so alone going through it with someone who understands. Write me a message and I'll help you in any way I possibly can. Just don't pull the trigger. Don't value your life more than your child's. Don't choose to just push out of your mind what your baby is going through when you walk into an abortion clinic and let them tear the limbs off of your baby, literally. You are a mother and that is not what we do. We love our babies because it is a privilege to have such an amazing life in our hands, no matter the cost. You will never, ever regret it and I can promise you that.

Fellow mother, protector and friend

Baby at 9 weeks pregnant

Baby sucking thumb at 20 weeks pregnant

Baby at 23 weeks pregnant

Abortion procedure at 9 weeks pregnant

Abortion procedure at 23 weeks pregnant

Friday, June 28, 2013

Our adventures here are almost over

It's strange to think we have less than a year left in Silverdale. Time goes fast when you're busy raising babies. We've started recognizing all of our lasts; our last Easter in Silverdale, our last Memorial Day in Silverdale, our last Viking Day, our last summer (if summer ever decides to show up).

It's pretty obvious to say, but it's so bittersweet. Part of me finds myself looking longingly at the moving trucks that occasionally pull up in our neighborhood for our PCSing neighbors. The other part of me feels my stomach squirm when I think about pulling out on April 1st of next year on the road to who-knows-where. I don't know what type of schedule Andrew will have when we get there or even if we will be able to come with him. Thankfully, these questions should be answered in the next month or so when we pick orders. We are hoping to get stationed somewhere on the east coast this time, but the Navy can obviously do whatever they like with us.

It has really started to hit me recently that it will likely be a long time before I see Andrew as much as I do and will this last few months in Silverdale. He has a fantastic schedule working in the armory on base with a 7-4 workday, weekends and holidays off and only the occasional day "on call". This schedule came just in time right before Annie was born and we have loved being able to get so much Daddy time. His next job description will likely take him away from us much more often, whether that means deployments on a ship or frequent 12-hour posts. He will almost definitely be spending a year away from us overseas in a few years since he is required to do a year "unaccompanied" (away from your family). Most military wives (especially submariners) would be rolling their eyes at me right now since deployments are a fairly regular part of their lives. I know wives my age that have already had to deal with 5+ deployments and are experts on how to get through, so I'm pretty wussy to be whining about the possibility that my husband may no longer have weekends off next year. His absence is something I prepared myself for when we got married and moved out to Silverdale almost three years ago, but once we settled into our nice routine here it's like I forgot that it wouldn't always be this way.

When Andrew reported to this command in September of 2010 he had committed to two years here. We were thinking we wanted to start having kids in about three years. So, if things had gone according to plan (which I'm quickly learning they never do) we would have moved to our second duty station last April of 2012 and would be thinking about trying to start a family this coming fall. Clearly, God had a different plan for our lives since we got extended here for four years and I currently have an almost two year old sitting on the couch behind me watching Sesame Street and a five month old sleeping soundly on the video monitor in the corner of my computer screen. I couldn't be happier that things turned out the way that they did and it's another reminder that I should stop pretending that "I know better". Looking at it that way encourages me that wherever we end up next will be exactly where the Lord wants us and He will work out all those details I worry about perfectly. He will only send Andrew away from our family when I am able to handle that and He will bring him home when I need him. I know I'll learn to depend on the Lord even more through that experience and will hopefully be able to enjoy being closer to our extended family whom we are always missing.

In other news, Will has transferred successfully (and surprisingly easily) to a toddler bed. We tried this process a few months ago before Annie was born, but I put up the white flag after a couple weeks from pure exhaustion from trying to keep him in bed. This time he made two attempts to get out of bed and that was it. No issues since then. The whole "wait until they're ready" rule is sometimes a very good one to follow, which is something we're keeping in mind when it comes to potty training. Will occasionally decides he wants to take off all his clothes and diaper and sit on the froggy potty. In my determination to only have good associations with the potty I'm usually willing to drop absolutely anything to make this happen. Sometimes we "accomplish" something and sometimes we just read some books and kick back and relax for a while. Either way, there is light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to having two kids in diapers.

Annie is also making big strides in the sleep department. She is now successfully sleeping in her crib, which she has been doing for quite a few weeks now, but we had her sleeping on her contoured changing pad for a while to make her feel more cozy. She now has the freedom to roll all over the place in her crib, which she does. She only gets up once per night around 5 am for a feeding and goes back to sleep until 6:30 or 7 when Will wakes up. I am loving this schedule, especially compared to her drama queen brother who took until 10 months to get on such a lovely routine.

Annie is in the 74th percentile for weight and 95th for height. My little five month old girl is currently wearing a size 9 month dress that fits her quite well. She's affectionately known around here as "Thunder Thighs". It's so fun to see the personality differences between Will and Annie. Will, unfortunately, has Mommy's stubbornness and never wants to feel forced into anything. Don't even think about asking him for a hug. He'll come to you when he's ready to hug you. He also developed my bashfulness I had when I was little and hides behind my knee anytime someone looks his way (forget about saying "hi"). A couple weeks ago a little girl in our church nursery sweetly toddled up and gave him a hug. I can't begin to explain the meltdown. You would have that he had just been through the most traumatic experience of his life. The poor little girl stared blankly while I consoled the boy five inches taller than her that she had mistakenly thought could be her new friend.

"Nannie", on the other hand, has never met a stranger. She has recently started noticing a little more if someone other than Mommy or Daddy is holding her and not being particularly happy about it, but other than that she stays chill about pretty much anything. She beams a smile at the checker at the grocery store every week and happily plays with her rattle on the floor without a care in the world. She cries if she's tired or hungry and that's pretty much it. Both of my babies have been very easy, but so far Annie is the "go with the flow" baby and Will is the "fall to the floor if you say hello to me" baby.

Monday, April 8, 2013

One of the reasons I'd rather go to the dentist than the post office

You know when you were younger and someone at school said something mean to you and you just wanted to sit down and cry because it hurt your feelings so much? That's completely normal at five years old, but I was shocked to find this happened to me just a couple weeks ago. It had been a particularly busy day with the kids and I had accomplished almost nothing around the house. Laundry was piled up, dirty dishes were in the sink, the bathrooms were a mess and the floors were hidden beneath a thick layer of dog hair. Andrew gets off work at 1600 (yes, I'm using military time) and the base post office closes at 1630. I had a package I needed to get in the mail that day if it was the last thing I did, so we had to book it to get there on time. I rushed in the door at 1628 right behind another last-minute customer. He finished quickly and I put my package on the counter as I hurriedly taped it up (of course we had run out of packing tape that afternoon). The post office female employee started locking up as I finished taping. When she returned to the desk I said something like, "I'm so sorry for making you stay late on my account". It was now 1630 on the dot.
"Oh, it's okay. It's not like I have a life." I took her sarcastic comment as a self-mocking joke at first and laughed. But as I looked up I realized she was dead serious and definitely not laughing.
"I mean I don't know why people show up at 1630 unprepared," she continued. "But whatever."
My smile faded quickly and I managed an "I'm sorry" as I scribbled the address on the package and handed her my credit card.
"Hurry up," she added. This is when I felt like crying. I know it's silly to take it to heart, but it really brought me back to middle school for a minute. And it eventually got me thinking about the Scripture verse we so often teach to our kids in times like that. "But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven." It's the go-to verse when your kid comes home from school complaining about that mean child in their class who has made it their own goal to make them cry. "Shake it off", we say. "Kill them with kindness". "Be the bigger person". "Love your enemies".
All great advice and very true, but I think as adults we sometimes forget how difficult it is to take that advice in the moment. Most "mean" people we come across now aren't quite as blunt as my post office friend. We like to cut people down with hidden meanings or sarcastic remarks on Facebook. We boast of our incredible parenting skills around the parents of those crazy kids at the playground. We pretend that we're all best friends, but throw in some compliments that are actually insults (I think women are the most guilty of this). "Jane, you must love all of that time to relax now that the kids are off at school! What do you do all day?" AKA I'm jealous of your extra time and would like to make you feel lazy for it. The point is, we've gotten smarter about insulting people since middle school.

But our kids are still stuck in the world where they get an A on a test and the envious kid next to them passes them a note saying they're ugly. That kind of blatant cruelty is shocking, especially for the tender hearts that are still trying to figure out why "i" is before "e" except after "c". The advice we give them is still sound. God will reward us for our kindness, even to those who don't deserve it (do any of us?). But as I walked out of the post office with embarrassing tears welling up in my eyes, I made a mental note to be a little more sympathetic with the "childish" problems that I know Will and Annie will come home with someday. Kindness was definitely not my first thought that day either.

P.S. I got over the whole incident and forgave the post office lady.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

What's up with the Matthews these days?

If you're one of the few people asking that question, this post is for you.

Well, we had a baby. I'll tell the labor and delivery story for those who have been asking for it, but I'll try to keep it short for those who don't care.

Early labor started for me on Thursday night, but didn't kick into full gear until early Saturday morning. I knew I wanted to try for a natural birth this time, but when I realized my labor was back labor, I definitely started to doubt that it would be possible. I had heard a few people talk about how much more painful back labor is and they were not kidding. Thankfully, the last part of my labor went extremely quickly and I was able to do it without meds with MUCH help and support from my amazing husband. I am not exaggerating at all when I say I could not have done it without him. Somewhere around 12:30 PM on Saturday I had reached 7 cm and I felt like I needed to push on the contraction after that. I got checked again about five minutes after that and was told I was "almost there". My water broke during the next contraction and less than 30 seconds after that our little girl came practically shooting out. I had her out in about two good pushes and doctors and nurses were scrambling to get things ready. Annie Elizabeth Matthews was 6 lb. 3 oz. and 20 inches long! She has been an absolutely wonderful baby. Her fussy periods are few and far between and she even lets us sleep through the night, feeding only every three hours or so. Will has been a fantastic big brother, usually running over to check on his little sister when she cries and giving her frequent kisses and snuggles. We're convinced we have the best kids in the world.

We had a wonderful visit with my parents this past week. They helped us more than I can say with meals and spending time with both babies, among many other things. It was great to watch them bond more with Will. He officially loves his Mimi and Papo.

Things have been busy around here while we try to adjust to twice the amount of diapers, crying, napping, etc. Andrew's paternity leave ends on Tuesday, so it'll be interesting to see how things go as I learn how to juggle both kids. We will definitely fall into a new routine soon and with how easy Annie has been so far, I don't anticipate major issues. As exhausting as it is sometimes, I can't get over what a sweet and amazing family I have. I really have never been so thankful to be a mommy and I keep thinking of a pin I saw on Pinterest a while back:

"Parenting is the hardest job in the world. It's a good thing my co-worker is cute."

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sunless in Seattle

There were a few times while we were enjoying our vacation in Philly that it was overcast and drizzly outside. It was that kind of weather that makes you want sip some tea and cocoon yourself in blankets the whole day. But I kept wondering what was different about the Philly cloudy days from the famous Seattle cloudy days we so often get. I couldn't put my finger on it. The dreary days set in here while we were gone for our three-week trip, so I hadn't seen the rainy weather that looms in the area for nine to ten months out of the year for quite a while. Well, now that we've returned I've figured it out. In Philly you step outside, look up at the sky and say "Man, it's cloudy". In Silverdale you literally step outside into a cloud. The cloud lives in your front yard. It's usually not really raining, just misting enough to get you irritatingly wet and cold - kind of like those mist machines they put up at amusement parks on hot days that make you look like you have snow in your hair after you walk under them. There's a beauty to the dreariness when you drive up on a hill and see the fog and mist settled deep in the evergreens below, but I rarely drive up on hills so I rarely see the beauty of it.

Our trip to Philly was just what we wanted it to be. It was our longest visit since we moved out here, so we had plenty of time to see family and a few friends. That said, I was amazed by how quickly it went. There were so many people we both wanted to spend more time with and weren't able to. I was grateful for my best friend's wedding, not only because it was beautiful and lots of fun, but I was able to see quite a few people that I probably wouldn't have seen otherwise. It served as a mini reunion for many of us. Andrew was also able to enjoy some much-needed time away from work and a break from being constantly reachable. We both get tired of the 3 AM phone calls for him to unexpectedly come into work or our plans for the day ruined because they need him to come wait for hours to pee in a cup. Personally, I loved having him to myself for a few weeks and knowing the Navy couldn't steal him at a moment's notice.

Baby Girl Matthews is kicking just as much, if not more, than her big brother did and seems to be growing beautifully. I have a pre-natal appointment tomorrow, so I'll have more details then, but there is no question that my stomach has popped more in the past month. I'm finally out of the awkward phase where people aren't sure whether I'm pregnant or still trying to get rid of the baby weight from Will. I haven't gotten many unwelcome belly rubs quite yet (although a random man in the Costco parking lot rubbed Will's head as we passed by the other day, which freaked me out way more). I have a long list of things I'd like to accomplish before the baby is born that I know I won't come close to finishing, so I'm trying to prioritize. Towards the top of the list is my first sewing project with my new sewing machine. I'm going to attempt to make cushion covers for cushions we have in Will's room that will eventually be a little reading nook. I'm not as confident in my skills as I'd like to be, but I'll get there (with help from my wonderful sister-in-law sewing master). I also have all kinds of Pinterest projects I'd love to do for the new nursery, but we'll see how many of those I get to before January.

It's shocking how much faster this pregnancy is going than my pregnancy with Will, mainly because I'm busier, but also because I'm not so paranoid about every little twinge of pain. I feel a little more at ease since I know what to expect and what is cause for concern. Even the fact that I know what labor contractions feel like makes me much less anxious. I was terrified with Will that I wasn't going to realize I was in labor until we were rushing to the hospital at the last second. It turned out my water broke at four in the morning, so I knew what was up. Plus, I now know that labor pains are pretty hard to ignore.

I guess the only other news is we're currently fostering two little kittens that are roughly two weeks old. The shelter said when we took them that we were in charge of naming them, so their names are Cindy and Peggy (sound familiar?). Cindy's a bully and Peggy's a whiner - the kittens, that is. While I'm grateful I agreed to only take a litter of two instead of six, it's really been fun taking care of them. They are still bottle-fed, so I'm remembering what it's like to get up in the middle of the night for feedings. I'm thinking of it as a good way to ease back into the hourly nursing sessions coming my way in a couple months. It's remarkable how quickly you forget... Thankfully, they'll be off bottles in a couple of weeks and we'll probably give them back to the shelter to be put up for adoption at the end of December. It's been surprisingly education, too. Did you know that kittens can't pee or poop on their own until they're a few weeks old and until then the mother cat eats it for them? Welp, I didn't. I'll leave you with that.