The Transition To Having Two

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The past two months have been a blur.  My heart has been full and at the same time I’ve felt hopeless at times in my ability to ever be a fun mom again.  Before Cora was born I felt adventurous and accomplished, but at soon as we brought her home I was met with circumstances that I was not expecting.

I didn’t expect Cameron to throw fits and argue constantly for the first three weeks.  I could tell he didn’t like being at home all the time.  He was used to having more interactions with friends and more activities outside the house.  He was used to getting more attention from me.  A few times on the way home from preschool he told me that he didn’t want to go home.  Stab me in the heart little man, stab me in the heart.

FullSizeRender (27)I didn’t expect my house to be so chaotic at times.  I’m a fairly organized person (understatement) and I could feel my standards being washed out to sea and I swam like mad for a while to try and get them back.

I didn’t expect to have a baby girl who cried all evening, most evenings, making it almost impossible to spend any time with my husband.  Some nights, literally two minutes after Jon walked in the door, she would go from calm and quiet to crying.  On average the crying would last about three hours until she was asleep for the night.  One of us would take on the toddler while the other paced around the house, rocking an upset baby girl.  I wondered how my husband and I were ever going to feel like friends again if we never had any quality time together.

FullSizeRender (28)I didn’t expect to feel an overwhelming anxiety at times about messing it all up.  It wasn’t all that uncommon for me to have a brief crying spell sometime within an hour or two of waking up, some days even more throughout the day, when I felt like I just couldn’t keep up with the demands associated with keeping two small humans alive.

I didn’t expect to have a pinball machine for a brain; feeling like as soon as I started to do one thing I was interrupted by another.  I didn’t expect to feel so physically exhausted considering I was in pretty good shape.  Hunching over to nurse and carrying around a newborn can drain the energy out of anyone I think.  I didn’t expect to feel so torn when both kids needed something at the same time and I was forced to choose which one to focus on first.

Call me crazy, but I really didn’t expect having two kids to be all that different from having one.  Not that I should have expected the worst, but I should have expected for things to be MUCH different once the new baby arrived.  That way maybe I could have embraced a bit more of the crazy.

Catching a theme?  There were a lot of things I just did not expect.  And to top it off I was upset at the fact that I was upset.  I was unhappy with the fact that I wasn’t happy.  I felt guilty over the fact that I was having a hard time transitioning.  I felt like it should be easier.  So I felt like I must be doing something wrong in all this.  Lots of people have two, three, four or more kids so how come I couldn’t even handle two?!!?  I was starting to feel like a giant failure.  And guilty.  Really guilty because I had two stunningly beautiful, healthy kids and all I wanted to do was run away and be by myself.  Or just sleep.  Sleep would be nice.

I started listening to Tim Keller sermons last week.  That was a good choice.  I scrolled through the list of sermons on his podcast list and found one called “Peace – Overcoming Anxiety.”  Sounded right up my alley.  In this sermon he talks about expectations.  To paraphrase his words, he says: Imagine a room.  Someone tells you its a honeymoon suite.  But when you go in it’s simple and dirty and you’re disappointed.  Now imagine the same room, but this time before you go in you’re told its a jail cell.  Upon seeing the room you think, “Well that’s a really nice jail cell.”  So the same room is viewed completely differently because of different expectations.  He says that’s why we sometimes have a hard time in life; when we expect it to be easy and then it’s not.  Then when we freak out we freak out over the fact that we are freaking out.

I think a huge part of the reason the transition in adding another person to our family has been so rough is because I went into it with warped expectations.  I envisioned having a newborn as a huge relief from being pregnant; which it was in some regards.  Waiting and enduring are challenging.  However, the burdens associated with pregnancy are quickly replaced with new challenges and a steep learning curve that come with having a new baby around.  Plus, all I wanted to do was snuggle my sweet baby girl and take naps, but how was that supposed to happen with an energetic toddler running around?  The other part of the rough transition was due to the postpartum emotional tidal waves I was experiencing. It happened in the months following Cameron’s arrival as well, so I don’t know why I was surprised.  I took medication for just over a year after having Cameron so I am now faced with that same decision again.

In the past few days the words of a close friend, who also has two kids a tad older than mine, have been running through my brain.  She’s always joked, or not joked I suppose, about it being a miracle and a success if she has kept both kids alive for another day.  Prior to having two myself I think I took her statements as a bit of an exaggeration.  Surely she was making it sound more sensational than it really was.  Umm, no.  I’ve recently discovered that she has been quite on point all this time.

Another friend told me last week that in her life with three kids she came to the point where she had to make a decision to focus more on relationships than on getting things done.  (Picture an arrow shooting out of her mouth and striking me right in the heart with that one; right where I needed it).

So for the past few days I decided to try out using these new perspectives: If I can keep both kids alive for another day and have some meaningful interactions then I can call the day a success.  I can’t tell you how much lighter my heart felt going through my day using this approach.

Previously, my success list consisted of:
If I can keep the house clean,
If I can keep up on laundry,
If I can prepare super healthy snacks and meals,
If I can shower and put on make up and style my hair,
If I can provide fun activities for my toddler
If I can get in some exercise
If I can find some time alone for myself
If I can get out of the house and interact with an adult
If I can stay on top of my life and not get behind in any area,

…then I will feel successful.

That list is a tall order and basically impossible at this point in my parenting journey.  Maybe some people abandoned their huge perfectionist list after having their first child.  For me, I managed to hang on tight with one, but now with two I’m having to adjust my standards accordingly.  Right now, keeping my kids alive and giving myself grace so that I can still be a fun and happy mom for my kids and my husband is more important than accomplishing my large list.  If I can accomplish one or two of those items each day on top of just taking care of my kids then I think I could consider that an exceptional day.

I know that as time goes on I will probably get back to feeling like a really fun mom.  And I will say that after completing the first two months things seem to be getting a bit easier.  I will probably also eventually feel somewhat put together again at least a few days a week… at least until I have another child and then I’m sure we will enter into a new level of craziness again.  But I’m grateful that the Lord is helping me focus on what’s really important instead of trying to just keep all my ducks in a row.  Ducks are dumb.  I’d rather be happy.

 

Here’s a picture that’s guaranteed to make you smile:

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Hibernating

I am SO thankful.

Two weeks ago my mother in law was staying with us to help with Cameron.

Last week, Cameron and I went to Colorado to stay with Jon’s parents so that I could continue to hibernate for another week.

This week, friends from church are watching Cameron each morning so I can rest.

The past month has been crazy.  With Cameron, the nausea of the first trimester was worse.  This time around, I’ve been experiencing fatigue so extreme that I’ve spent many days laying horizontal nearly all day.  Hence, why I needed help with a busy toddler.

BUT, I am in the last week of my first trimester now!!  Woooo!  Which means that more energy is just around the corner (most likely).

Here are a few pics from our time in Colorado:

photo (1)Fixing stuff with grandpa (BaPa)

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This trip was the first time this little nugget has EVER shared a bed with me since he was about 3 weeks old, so I was soaking up all the snuggles and trying to ignore all the violent tossing and turning.  Remember these toys on display in the mall???

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This is how this kid is when he sleeps.

May his future wife be a very deep sleeper.


photo (2)Father Christmas?


photo (3)First beater-licking with Nonni

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photo (4)The crazy Colorado flooding that almost made us miss our flight home.


photo (5)Good-bye at the airport

 

I think this is the first time in the past five years of living in California that I absolutely loathe the weather.  There is something so gross and wrong about laying down inside all day while the sun shines brightly outside my window.  I very much preferred the dreary Colorado rain pinging against the roof while I snuggled up with a blanket, some cocoa and Kardashians on cable.  We got rid of our cable earlier this year and I must admit that I have missed that pointless, but captivating show.

So, if you will, please join me in petitioning for an early crisp fall here on the Central Coast.

A Few Days In Pictures

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Each morning Cameron likes to have some time with dad’s iPad to play Peek-A-Boo Barn.  He was never attached to a particular toy, blanket or stuffed animal until a couple months ago when he decided that the duck and the lamb were his friends.  So now they play too.


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I dropped $100 on a pillow and it might be the best $100 I’ve ever spent.  Last time around I was SO UNCOMFORTABLE at night, tossing and turning and readjusting thirty times before I could fall asleep.  So this time around, I’m not messing around.  I’m not even showing yet, but I decided I might as well get this bad boy sooner rather than later.  Most. Comfortable. Pillow. Ever.  And so far, Jon hasn’t completely fallen off the bed.

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Got to hang out with my beautiful neighbor a couple days this week before she starts middle school.  Cameron loves playing with a few of the neighbor kids that are older than him.

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After a few hours of laying on the couch, watching TV this morning, I convinced myself to carry my TWO KIDS up the hill behind my apartments.  It was so good to get some quiet time with the Holy Spirit.  I used to hike this hill all the time when I was pregnant with Cameron and it’s one of my favorite secluded places to hike and pray.

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We discovered Google Hangouts along with Jon’s family tonight in celebration of his brother’s birthday.  So cool!  It’s like Skype, but with multiple people.  The quality is better than Skype and the big screen switches to display whoever is talking at the moment.

Are We Pregnant Yet?

On New Year’s Eve, my husband Jon and I decided that we felt ready to start trying for baby number two.  Since baby number one was a complete and total surprise, the idea of trying seemed so strange and foreign to us.  We felt sure about wanting another baby, but then the next moment we would question our sanity.  How could we ever be sure?  We decided that we couldn’t, so we had to just trust our hearts and take a leap of faith.

As January 1st came and went we assumed that by the end of the month we would be celebrating the conception of our next child.

But it didn’t happen.

Despite 1,000 signs that I was pregnant, the tests said no.

Call it ‘power of the mind’ or a pregnancy that didn’t last…I’ll never know…

But it was a reality check.

It was a much needed reminder that God is the creator of life.  Yes, we play our parts, but we do not determine when someone will be born or who that someone will be.

I was grateful for a friend who reminded me that God knows the names of my children.  He knows the days on which they will be born.  He knows their life.  He knows them.  And although I sometimes think I am in control of the development of my family, nothing happens apart from Him.  He is the giver of taker of life.

So January passed and as February dawned, Jon and I decided not to try so hard.  Trying felt awkward and stressful and I’ll stop before I share too much…so moving forward we decided instead just to let things happen.  I didn’t think about babies or pregnancy too much in February until I was late of course.  8 days late.

[TMI Warning: Sometimes after you have a baby and you are breastfeeding, your cycles can get all wack and irregular.]

I took a pregnancy test everyday.  I told myself not to get my hopes up, but as the days passed, my anticipation of baby news grew.

But again, the tests kept saying no and I soon found out for sure that I wasn’t pregnant after all.

It’s so strange how taking a pregnancy test can either be the most thrilling, horrifying, relieving, or disappointing moment you’ve ever experienced, depending on your mind-frame at the time.

I’m not sharing any of this for sympathy or because I want the whole world to know that I was trying to have another baby.  In fact, the thought of that is pretty weird.

I honestly have no idea when the best time for me to be pregnant with another child would be, so I’m glad these things are not left entirely in my hands.  I’m glad the destiny of my family isn’t left up to whims and sudden magical feelings of faith for a second child.  Plus, wanting a child for two months is hardly anything compared to the heart-wrenching praying and waiting that many couples go through.

Honestly, I think a lot of the reason I want to be pregnant again is that my husband has one year of school left.  Two years down, one more to go.  The past couple months have been the most difficult time for me in his schooling so far.  After two years of doing my best to be supportive and understanding of the crazy schedules and insane workload, I think I’ve become tired of it.  I’m ready for it all to end.  I think I just want to move on and enjoy life on the other side of the giant wall we’ve been climbing for two years.  I’m tired of saying things like, “When you’re done with school we will ____.”  The past couple months my life have begun to feel like a waiting game, so in my mind there would be nothing better to distract me for the next year than the anticipation of another baby.  (Mom, if you’re reading this, please let your eyebrows relax- I know this all sounds crazy.)

I’m not really sure what my conclusion to all of this is.  I think this is more of a journal entry to myself so I can wade through my feelings and feel like by putting them down on paper, somehow I am removing them all from me.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
-Isaiah 5:8-9

I reminded myself today that Cameron was not my idea; he was God’s.

If it had been up to me, Cameron wouldn’t even exist because Jon and I thought it would be better to put of having kids until he was finished with school…

I’ve been praying lately that God would soften my heart.  I want to enjoy this season of life to the fullest, instead of wishing it was different.  I want to be a supportive wife through the rough patches as well as the easy ones.  I want to let this whole wanting a baby idea go like a balloon on a windy day.  I just want to feel God’s perfect peace.  It’s all possible.  It’s all things God has helped me with before in other circumstances.  I just need him to help me again now.

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.
-Ecclesiastes 3:11

Parenthood

Parenthood

Is anyone else in love with this show?

It’s another Netflix gem we stumbled across.

I’m in trouble too because Jon and I started out watching it together, but now, somehow, I am eight episodes ahead of him….whoops!  I don’t know how it happened!  A few times during Cameron’s nap I just couldn’t resist the Goldfish and the instant television gratification.

The characters in this show are so endearing and their problems, both realistic and overly dramatic, are entertaining and sometimes relate-able.

I think the thing I love most about this show is that no matter how big the problem or how stupid the mistake, at the end of most episodes this family is gathered together eating dinner or hanging out or drinking wine.  They are together.

Most of us never get to experience this kind of cross-generational community because most of us don’t live a hop, skip and a jump away from our brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents.  And even if we do, it’s rare these days to find families with a strong family identity who value togetherness more than success, autonomy and activities.  Heck, it’s rare to find families who even like each other…unless you’re on The Bachelor because somehow only people with perfect families who think their parents are the most beautiful examples of marriage get to be on that show.  It’s super weird.

Anyway, getting back on track now…

My favorite character is grandpa Zeke who is macho, harshly outspoken and at times offensive and full of tenderness towards his children and grandchildren.  I love how he isn’t a grandfather who just putzes around or watches TV, but he takes his role in the family seriously.  He’s the glue that binds everyone together.

I grew up in a family where family gatherings were very tame and quiet, so I think the idea of a big, crazy, loud family is appealing to me.  The grass is always greener at the house next door, right?

The main takeaway from Parenthood is that family exists through heartache, happiness and dysfunction.  And we all long for this kind of love and family.

Family & Ostrich Land

Last weekend my mom and step-dad came to visit.  We spent an afternoon exploring Solvang, a small Danish town.  We ate bratwursts with sauerkraut for lunch and my mom bought Cameron his first Christmas ornament.

That same day we also paid a visit to Ostrich Land.  I’ve been there three times now and it doesn’t seem to get old.

My mom conquered her fear and fed the birds.

Emus with the “evil eyes”

And yes, it was very sunny that day.

We also spent a bunch of time at Avila Beach, BBQing, playing games and eating some delicious food.

A lot more could be said, but it was 102 degrees in SLO today and I think the heat is making me tired.  Goodnight.

My Sister, The Reality TV Star

My little sister, Devan, just returned from London where she spent a month filming a new reality TV show called Sorority Girls.  I still haven’t had the chance to catch up with her about her whole experience, but her and four other girls were chosen out of thousands of US applicants to take part in the show.  She was given a stylist, flown overseas and given a place to stay while the filming took place.  Sounds fun to me!

The show is only set to air in the UK, but our family will be able to view the show via some DVDs they give Devan later on.

I’m really proud of my little sister for graduating college this year, landing a job in Seattle and pursuing her interests.  I just wish we lived a little bit closer.

Click here to view a preview video of the show Sorority Girls.  (Devan is the girl on the far right)

Travel Is The Best Medicine

Sometimes travel is the best medicine.  New places bring new perspectives and airport layovers provide great think space.  Besides having a blast with my family in Spokane, I also had a much needed Ah-Ha moment and two solid gold hangout sessions with two of my oldest and dearest friends.

My trip was only five days altogether, but it was just the right amount of time.  I had to leave Jon behind, but he got along just fine by upgrading our kitchen spice racks and experimenting with a few new cooking challenges he received via Jamie Oliver’s old cooking show.  He also managed to glue together and paint an old rocking chair that a friend gave me a couple months back.  Go Jon!


Red boxy shelves from Target.  Natural wood shelf from Ikea.
Cute and inexpensive glass spice jars from World Market.  Magnetic
canisters from Bed Bath & Beyond.  


I began and ended my time in Spokane with two of my best friends from high school:  Jessica S. and Jessica C.  Our first chance to meet up happened at the Rockwood Bakery on Spokane’s South Hill.  Jessica S. brought along her adorable, almost six month old son, Daniel.  I brought my baby bump.  And Jessica C., although she isn’t headed towards BabyLand quite yet, brought along her baby interest and knowledge as a nurse, doula and infant photographer.  So we got to talk a lot about babies and all the incredibleness and crazyness that comes along with them.

But possibly the most refreshing part of the entire conversation was the honesty of it all.  We casually joked about about how sometimes our actions as wives are just slightly less than “godly” towards our husbands and in all seriousness and sincerity we shared how those same actions are difficult to deal with and learn from.

It was refreshing because you can’t build friendships like that in a day and the level of trust and honesty we experienced was in great part due to nearly nine years of friendship forming moments and experiences.  And then, because we’d all had such a good time together, we decided to do it again one more time on Monday morning before I had to catch my flight back to San Luis Obispo.  The Jessicas dropped me off at the airport and I’m already looking forward to next time.

Almost 5 months along, but still hardly showing it

 

Cutie pie baby Daniel

I also had a great time with my family while in Spokane.  It was mid-90s all week and perfect weather to go to the lake.  So we did.  We got bags full of penny candy on the way from the hardware store at Loon Lake and did a family swim out to the ski dock before BBQing at the cabin and watching Soul Surfer.

Dad in his 1980s beach chair

Little brother Blake rockin’ the shades

Dad’s house with the most lovely view to wake up to

Then once at my mom’s we did our fair share of deck sitting and my mom threw together the freshest Caprese salad I’ve ever tasted from the basil and Cougar-Red tomatoes growing in her planter boxes.  Of course we did some shopping too between going out to Greenbluff to pick fresh raspberries and then to Arbor Crest winery where a big band orchestra played live music while people danced and drank wine in their lawn chairs.

Dripping sweat after picking raspberries in 98 degree weather

We ate vanilla ice cream with raspberries and hot fudge after dinner.  Mmmmm!

 

We picked up Pete’s Pizza calazones and brought them with us to Arbor Crest.  They are hands down thee best calazones in the world!  And even food critic Jon Kidwell agrees.

I also got to spend some time with all three sets of my grandparents along the way, something I am really grateful for.

My travel experience back to San Luis Obispo proved to be more event-filled than I would usually expect.  On my first flight I sat next to a girl my age named Sugar.  She was up in Spokane visiting one of her four boyfriends.  The 40 year old one in Spokane doesn’t know about other 40 year old in San Diego or the 21 year old in Arizona.  Yikes!  We talked about relationships and family and about how she keeps feeling like she should go back to church, but she doesn’t know why.

During my layover I bought a trash magazine to find out about how Bachelorette Ashley and fiance JP are doing.  But as I sat down to read it, I decided to take advantage of my mom club membership and strike up a conversation with a woman holding her one and half year old daughter.  Turns out she was traveling with the youngest of her six kids.  So I got to hear six separate incredible labor and delivery stories.  And since I’d been reading from The Birth Book on the flight to Spokane I knew exactly what all the different terms she used meant.  Points for me!

Then, on the last leg of my flight, I sat down next to a friendly, talkative guy from Texas who told me how he was fed up with the games girls play.  I thought to myself that it’s a good thing he didn’t meet Sugar.

The Ah-Ha moment I mentioned, happened at the airport before the whole magazine, birth story scenario happened.  I was on the phone talking with Jon when I suddenly starting saying things out loud about how I was feeling that actually made sense.  Ever have that happen?  It’s the coolest.  I think the clarity was a culmination of a conversation I had with my mom, the time I spent with the Jessicas and probably some other things as well.

If you keep up on my blog you may know that for a while now, I’d say about a year, I’ve been struggling in my faith and my relationship with the Lord.  Not in a “I don’t know what I believe” kind of way, but more of a “Why? Why? Why?” kind of way.  “Why do I not feel peace?  Why do I not feel good about my relationship with God?  Why is it difficult for me to want to read the Bible?  Why do I feel unmotivated to do much about it except for short bursts that die out fast?  Why?”

It’s made for a long year spiritually speaking where I’ve spent more time complaining about things than conquering them.  And the added pressure of feeling like by the time I have a child I need to be the most amazingly-positive, faith filled woman on the planet hasn’t really helped either.  Although Jessica S. assured me that the feeling was normal, but untrue all at the same time.

So anyway, in the roundabout way I’m choosing to talk about this, my airport revelation was this: the past three years have been a whirlwind of great changes in my life.  I moved to California, met Jon, started dating Jon, got engaged, got married and am now preparing to have a baby.  So my life has had a lot of transition relationally, practically and spiritually speaking.

Relationship wise, whenever one of these big shifts occur it means that all your relationships with your family, friends and yourself shift along with it.  So sometimes good friends fall into the category of good acquaintances and new friendships emerge with your new-found relationship status.

Practically speaking, everything is different.  I share a house with a man.  I’m consumed with learning to cook and I consider cleaning to be a hobby because I care about making my husband happy.  I schedule girl time rather than coming home to it.  All good things.  All different than it used to be.

Spiritually, I think things were supposed to shift here too, but the fact that they haven’t is, I think, the source for much of my angst.  Before I got married and got pregnant, most of my spiritual energy (other than reading the Bible and praying) went towards activities and strangers that I hoped would become more than that.  I think I based a lot of how I was doing with God on how successfully I was reaching out to people around me – and in college with 20,000 peers with similar interests, that felt easy.  Also, before marriage it felt easy to be be at anything and everything  and therefore feel involved.  However, a problem arose…

When I got married, unfortunately I forgot to shift my thinking.  Marriage brought with it a whole new lifestyle: new responsibilities, new use of time, a new focus… The Bible touches on this here:

An unmarried man is concerned about the Lord’s affairs—how he can please the Lord. 33 But a married man is concerned about the affairs of this world—how he can please his wife— 34 and his interests are divided. An unmarried woman or virgin is concerned about the Lord’s affairs: Her aim is to be devoted to the Lord in both body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the affairs of this world—how she can please her husband. 35 I am saying this for your own good, not to restrict you, but that you may live in a right way in undivided devotion to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:32-35)

So even though my circumstances had changed, I still viewed success as the amount of time I spent doing “other” things unrelated to my marriage.  As I began spending more time focusing on my marital duties, naturally my involvement in “other” things declined and I started to feel bad and like I was failing.  I felt like, “How can I ever possibly do as much and be as involved as I was before marriage?”  And now with a baby on the way, the feeling has only grown.  “How can I ever possibly do as much and be as involved after I have the baby?”

Well, the truth is that I can’t.  Not that I want to become so consumed with my own life and my own family that I forget about the rest of the world- that is not my heart at all.  But what I realized at the airport is this:  When I become a mom, 90-95 % of my daily spiritual energy will go into my child and my husband – and that is a good thing.  I can still pray for opportunities along the way and that God would use my little life in the world around me, but the “other” part will not be the main focus or the priority anymore.  My family will be the focus and the priority and I’ll pray hard that God wouldn’t let the investment in my family go to waste.

This is probably a very simple revelation, but it’s been one that I’ve been struggling to get for a long time now.  I think maybe I’ve just needed someone to come along in my life and let me know that, “Hey, you don’t have to be at everything to be important to God.  You don’t have to be a missionary to prove your faith.  You just need to be genuine and loving where ever He’s put you right now.”  I don’t really know if I would have been so open to hearing that from someone until now, so I can’t really blame anyone or anything for the fact that I’ve been going through all this.  I’ve had a specific picture of what serving God and living a full Christian life has looked like for a while now and I’m finding that it’s tough to change my mind and let some things go.  But I need to.  Because if I don’t, I’m going to miss out on embracing and enjoying some really special years ahead with my children.

So now what?  I don’t really know.  I think it probably starts with going back to a more simple faith where I somehow get myself to spend time in the Word consistently whether I feel like it or not.  That always seems to be the first step.  From there, I don’t really know how to embrace everything I need to.  I think spending time around other young moms like Jessica S. would help a lot too.  It was helpful to hear about how it’s a struggle to adapt your faith and your life when you go through transition because it made me feel like I’m not the only one.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven.   Ecclesiates 3:1-2

Homesick

I never got too homesick during college.  Washington State University was a manageable hour and a half drive from Spokane, Washington through some lovely wheat fields and plenty of rest stops along the way.  Plus, with scheduled visits home over Thanksgiving Break, Christmas Break, Spring Break and Summer Vacation, I never had much of a chance to adequately miss my family or the place where I grew up.  There was always that “next time” just a few months down the road.

However, since moving to San Luis Obispo, California in the summer of 2008, my trips back home have become much more few and far between.  The tiny airport with significantly high ticket prices doesn’t help either.  Every trip home or somewhere far away turns into quite the ordeal since we end up driving three and a half hours north before flying out of San Jose or Oakland.  Sigh, I’m making this out to be such a sad story, aren’t I?

Sorry.  I think pregnancy has been doing this to me.  Lately, the range of emotions that I normally feel are now emotions on steroids.  The summer season hasn’t been helping much either.  This summer my mind has been taken captive by the Ghost of Summer Past.

Memories of long, sunny weekends out at my family’s cabin at Waitts Lake keep creeping into my mind mid-day…

The tackle shop with penny candy on the side of the two lane highway just a few miles before Clayton’s soft serve ice cream where forty-nine percent of the time my dad would let us stop and get a treat.

Fighting with my sister over who got to help grandpa stir the onion powder packet into the sour cream when making onion dip.

The taste of Squirt soda and how my grandparents always kept a decent supply on hand.

Hot afternoons spent playing rounds and rounds of Skip-Bo out on the deck that the men in my family built when I was three.

Sleeping outside beneath the stars on cots because the pull out couches put permanent cricks in your neck.

The fact that my dad was the worst EVER at applying sunscreen.  He  would always put too much in his hand and then wipe a streak or two of the cold stuff down our backs and shoulders without warming it up first in his hands.  I hated that, and I would keep telling him that he missed a spot until I could feel my whole back covered.

Eating fried chicken and Jo-Jo’s on the speedboat between sessions of inner tubing and learning how to water ski.

Getting tickled until we screamed “Monkey’s Uncle!!!” at the top of our lungs.

Then with my mom, I have memories of hot summer nights in that little pink house…

My mom would set up two huge floor fans that would blast air through the house and we’d all just wear t-shirts to bed and sleep on top of our covers.

We ate lots of fresh raspberries thanks to the large raspberry bush growing up in our backyard.

I’d offer to mow the lawn and wash the car when I would get motivated to make a little extra money.

Once the sun was almost down, we’d drive over to Joe Albi Stadium to let our dogs run without a leash.  Sometimes we would spend an hour just trying to get our German Shepherd/Golden Retriever mix back into the car – she loved to run.

My mom liked to sleep in late on Saturday mornings so my sister and I would always eat as much sugar cereal as possible before she woke up.  During the week we were only allowed to eat healthy cereals like Kix or Cheerios, but on weekends we had a free pass to break into the Cocoa Puffs and Fruit Loops and we always took complete advantage of the occasion.

And this is just the mere surface of my reminiscing.

Maybe it’s because this summer I haven’t had much of a summer between the moderate weather and the amount of time I’ve spent indoors resting.  Probably because I’m friends with too many younger people on Facebook who still enjoy summer vacations and post about all the adventures they’re embarking on daily.  I’m thinking of de-friending all those socialites. 

Maybe that’s part of it, but I think more of it is due to the fact that something about being pregnant really makes me long for my family and causes me to cling to happy childhood memories, although I’m not really sure why.  I’m not even going to try and understand all the powerful and mysterious forces manipulating my body and my emotions during this season.

So more than any specific kind of food, I’ve been craving spending time with my parents.  Nothing spectacular, just wanting to hang around with them and watch them help them cook dinner, watch TV, sit outside on the deck and snuggle with the dogs.

This week I started thinking of ways that I could pull off a three day trip home in August.  A full day at each parent’s house is just enough time to say hi and bye with a few memories in between, but hey, at this point I’ll take it!

Gah, if only I could fly!

Why Do Men Wait?

The other night I was watching The Bachelorette.  Yes, I do in fact still like that show.  Whether it’s realistic or not, it’s exciting to watch people experience the thrills of falling in love.  Of course, it would be better if the relationships tended to work out and turned into strong, healthy marriages – most times they do not – but nonetheless the mysterious, unscripted, romantic feelings that cause people cast all fear aside in the hopes of attaining lifelong love is good TV if you ask me!  Ever notice how love always has a way of getting you to root for it?  It’s impossible to watch a show like The Bachelorette, or any romantic comedy for that matter, without hoping that in the end, love will find a way.  Okay, so this is not a plug for The Bachelorette, I’m getting to my point…

The other night as I was watching this show I noticed something peculiar.  I’m sure I wasn’t the first person to make this observation, but I noticed that almost all of the men who went on this show were between 27 and 35 years old, accomplished in whatever field or industry they worked in and surprisingly, most of them had only very recently opened up to the idea of pursuing a future and a family with someone.  Throughout the show, many of the guys made references to how they’d spent most of their 20’s in meaningless, shallow relationships or in relationships that turned out to be dead ends.  And now, as they transitioned into their 30’s, their desire to settle down finally seemed to kick in.  They finally got serious about taking on the role and responsibility of being a one-woman family man.

The funny thing: these days in our culture, this late-blooming for men seems normal.  I mean, who would want to marry a man before he’s proven to be successful in his career, right?  Wrong!  My friend Christina Hutchison wrote a very insightful blog post about her  thoughts and experience as a 30 year old single, Christian woman who desires to be married.  I thought her perspective was well-spoken and it made me think about my own experience as a married woman as well.

Currently, I am 24, married and scheduled to have a baby sometime in January of 2012… and I feel really young!  At the doctors office I look younger than most of the other pregnant women I see and I don’t know a ton of other women my age who are having babies yet.  Many, in fact, are still waiting to be married.  I don’t feel like I’m too young to start a family, but according to most of what I see around me in the culture and in the media, I’m practically throwing away the best years of my life!  Halle Berry had her first child at age 41.  Selma Hayek, same age.  Julianne Moore, 41.  Nicole Kidman, yep, you guessed it,  41.  Susan Sarandon, 43.  Madonna 38.  Of course there are lots of examples of female celebrities having babies at a younger age too…but examples like Britney Spears and Jamie Lynn Spears make it look so…well, traumatic and uncool.  And the young moms that still manage to appear sleek and stylish have nannies, so of course they are still able to continue triumphing in their careers with a few soccer games on the side.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with women having babies at an older age, it’s just that the trend in Hollywood seems to lean so far in that direction.  It’s the “live your life, then start a family” mentality versus the “family is life” mentality.

Here are the stats:

Fewer people are getting married.  For the last 40 years, marriage rates have been gradually decreasing.  Some of this is attributed to people waiting longer to get married.  The average age of marriage in the United States is currently around 26 and 28 for women and men respectively.  Another factor is that more people are choosing to live together, some instead of getting married, and some as a prelude to marriage.  In fact, 60% of Americans in first marriages now live together with their partner before getting married. (source: eharmony labs)

The average age of first-time mothers in the United States has been rising steadily over the past four decades — up from 21.4 in 1970 to a little over 25 in 2005, the National Center for Health Statistics reports.  According to the study, more than a third of first-time moms in the U.S. are over 30 when they have their first child.  (These are the numbers from a 2006 study.  After snooping around online, it seems that the 2006 study provides the most recent statistics on this topic.  As you can imagine, the average age of first time mothers has likely risen since then as well).

My friend Christina proposed that this delay in marriage may be due to a culture shift where men simply do not take the initiative to pursue women until they find themselves financially stable and able to provide.  While this reason may amount to part of the delay in marriages, quite possibly the other side of the story is that many women also do not consider marriage as a feasible option while they themselves are in school or trying to get their careers off the ground.  The feminist, “independence rules!” mentality may have scared men off.  Maybe men backed off because so many women kept telling them that the last thing they wanted was to settle down and become a housewife before they’d had their chance to live a little.  What came first, the chicken or the egg?

Especially for people who pursue undergraduate and postgraduate degrees, marriage during college usually means that mom and dad stop paying for tuition.  Ouch!  Tens of thousands of dollars of debt seems like a pretty good reason to postpone getting hitched I suppose.

So while I think the cultural shift may hold both men and women responsible for this delay in marriage, I very much appreciated Christina’s insightful take on the whole issue.  She’s awesome!  Check out her blog, He makes all things new, to see what she had to say.

As for those who are willing to make a change in geographic location in hopes of finding marital bliss, Idaho has the lowest median age for first marriages, followed by Kansas, Arkansas, Utah and Oklahoma.  Potatoes, corn and long skirts anyone?