Sunday, May 31, 2009
This month's issue came though, and provided little in the way of inspiration. I would have been disappointed, except that I found that nearly every single article had a title that could not have screamed more loudly: as for you, DO NOT try this at home!!! (if you are a sort-of-high-risk-pregnant-with-twins-mommy, that is.) The forty cent subscription was well worth the laughs I got just off the cover.
"Bikini body detox - beat belly bloat, drop pounds fast."
Doc's orders - second trimester - gain pounds fast for twins and deal with the nightly bloat. Oh yeah, and trade in the bikini for a tankini and hope it lasts at least half way through summer.
"Look 10 lbs. thinner. Instant tricks."
Dream on. Look 20 lbs. heavier by August. For the health of the babies!
"Sculpt every inch. Get flat abs, a toned butt and jiggle free arms."
Pad every inch with extra baby insulation. Kiss the abs and butt goodbye for at least a year.
"The best swimsuit for your body."
Maternity styles mysteriously omitted.
I seriously just cracked up reading these, and that was just the cover! Ahhhh, until, at last, I found the article hidden away at the bottom for pregnant girls like myself.
"PLUS! Tasty ice cream treats."
Now that's something I can do :).
Thursday, May 28, 2009
When life’s worries catch up to me, I turn to God. They may be my own worries, your worries, or the worries of the world that send me running. I become confident in a God that is “big enough”, “bigger”, the “biggest” – the only one with enough love and power to touch a situation.
When life’s blessings catch up to me, I again turn to God, offering thanks for our family’s health, home, the majesty of nature, and more.
It’s when I am caught somewhere in between that I hesitate to turn to God. Stuck somewhere in between the request for help and the blessing received, I stall out. Yes, my God is the only one I dare ask for such big things, but do I trust that his bigness can really be displayed in the answers? I rationalize that maybe his “answers” are just a coincidence, not the fingers of God at work. (Not always an incorrect assumption, maybe?) I balk because if the answer falls short, what do I do? Blame God? Discount the initial answer? Come face-to-face with my limited understanding of God’s ways? Be left speechless to those who question my faith?
I’m caught in the middle this week, as we celebrate that twins are on the way. As several friends have pointed out, and I’ve thought myself, this double helping of kids is a ridiculous and amazing answer to my laments to God. But I find that rather than exploding with joy, I’m withholding my gratitude until the blessing is complete, and they arrive healthy in the outside world. The risks are many, twins are a natural occurrence (not only divine!), and if I go on about how this is God’s great answer and then something happens…? My doubts are many, woefully holding back my thanksgiving.
As I laid awake in the middle of last night (pregnant hunger pangs!), a random story came to mind. Ten lepers cried out to Jesus to heal them. He sent them to the priest to get healed. Only one returned to say thank you, and he was a foreigner at that. Jesus wondered – “Where are the other nine? Was no one else willing to come back and give glory to God?” (Luke 17:11-19) These men had their lives radically changed – restored physically and then socially into society. Yet they too neglected to return and say “thank you”. Maybe they weren’t so sure that it was really Jesus’ power at work. Maybe they thought they’d give the miracle a few years to “stick” before they gave credit where credit was due. Maybe they just forgot and went out to tackle the next challenge of finding a job. I see myself in their shoes. I want to pause and acknowledge God instead.
God, you are big enough for me to ask things of. You are big enough to answer too, and deserve the credit when you do – and so I thank you for these two little lives. Give me faith and courage to keep returning and saying “thanks”.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
As I bumbled out of bed this morning, a mini-Snow White greeted me immediately from the couch. "Hi Ariel, I've been calling for you!" Ariel, as in Disney's Little Mermaid, who I hardly resembled no matter how much imagination you have! Then again, she calls me that all day, every day that she is in the mood for it.
Cheesy as it was, Rachel's greeting made my morning. In her two-year-old way, she says: "there is something about my mom that is like a princess". (A privilege that every girl they know is granted, but still!) Oh, and "mom, I want you to be part of our never-ending-make-believe-princess-world". I'm royalty, and included in the game. Does it get any better?
As an aside, I thought princesses were pretty corny up until a year or so ago, even for little girls. Isn't reading about real stuff more interesting, or pretending to be something that actually exists more practical, like a doctor or teacher? But then grandma gave the girls some princess costumes, and we "met" the princesses at Disneyland over Christmas, and I had no choice but to go along with the frenzy. I'm coming around to see that instilling my girls with a sense of beauty, grace, and kindness - even through a lot of fairy tales - isn't so bad.
Anyhow, all these royal thoughts made me think a bit about how I treat others. Do I greet and treat them like royalty, even as they roll out of bed? Do I find them a role to play in my activities, games, meals? A little lesson in real-life love from my two-year-old...
The pictures are old - from Christmastime - but you catch a glimpse of our royal family. Yes, we all posed with "fake" Snow White, because after an hour in line, that is what you do!
Thursday, May 14, 2009
It is gardening season like never before around our house! As I sat soaking in the sun on a "backyard picnic" with Rachel today, I looked at the rows of lettuce in our little planter with amazement. See, I've never grown lettuce that made beyond about two inches tall. This year, it's made it through thinning and is pushing seven or eight inches so far. All pretty amazing considering that the seeds are about the size of half a tiny ant. (That's my "baby spinach" up on top.)
This will be our third summer in a house with a (little) yard, and our third attempt at growing vegetables. In fact, we expanded by renting a bit of land from the park district this year too, which means if all goes well I will consider myself a bona fide LA-born farmer by the end of summer.
Now, as much as I've learned to love all-you-can-eat-cherry-tomatoes by the fence and green beans that were just picked, I still loathe planting seeds. Especially the little ones. And especially for the first time. Lettuce is really annoying. Carrots are too. As I planted a 30-foot row of them at our park garden, I am sure that my complaints and nay-saying about their chances of growing could be heard for miles. It was at least loud enough to warrant many groans and "pleeease stop complaining's" from John.
Whether the lettuce keeps growing and the carrots ever grow, I was thinking today about something that we've talked about around our house a lot lately. The only seeds that don't grow are the ones that don't get planted (OK, with the exception of the sprouting onions and potatoes in my pantry). Jobs that aren't applied for aren't gotten. Funding for John's research that isn't requested stands no chance of being granted. Respectful kids don't just happen.
That said, the act of planting seeds is incredibly un-rewarding (though at least it only takes a season to get some fruit!). Add to that the fact that only about one in ten of my lettuce seeds make it to maturity, and you may glimpse why I complain. Seeds of kindness, faith, you name it, those are pretty un-rewarding planting endeavors too, taking years to grow, and the fruit isn't found in my backyard! Having little kids might be compared to planting a garden for years - and having very little idea what might grow in it...
Besides the non-gratification that planting seeds bring me, planting (never mind all that soil prep, watering, and seedling care) takes a lot faith that something will come of that seed. Excuses for not planting are much easier to come by than reasons to set myself up for a failed gardening attempt.
But in spite of myself, I think longingly of last summer's tomatoes (or just visit the grocery store!), or I'm the recipient of kind words from a friend. I'm suddenly reminded to be thankful that some farmer or parent had the foresight and ethic to plant those tiny seeds long ago. I'm inspired to plant for the future, in spite of the work and the odds. I realize that the only way to raise my odds above zero is to put _something_ into the ground.
Come on over later this summer, and hopefully I'll pass on a bit of my own inspiration to you - in the form of a home-grown garden salad!
Sunday, May 10, 2009
For a few years, mother's day was quite bittersweet for me, since my mom had passed away when I was 16, and it was another seven years before I became a mother. There is still a bit missing on the day, but let me tell you what I've got: the precious little things that count.
One beloved husband to bring me breakfast in bed.
Two little girls ready with hugs and kisses the moment I get out of bed.
An eager five-year-old daughter who proudly gave me her third and fourth handwritten cards (yes, that's four this year!) this morning.
A husband who never fails to surprise me with presents beyond my expectation - today, a new bracket and plant for our patio - followed by half a dozen fix it jobs DONE now!
A two-year-old daughter who eagerly helps eat up all the candy that she and big sis picked out to give me.
Two little girls on a date with mom this morning. First, both raced ahead on their bikes, strong legs pedaling, hair flying like crazy, and big grins when they see how far behind they've left me. One picks the other up and pushes her on the swing then. Two little girls, so grown up, bring so much joy to my heart, just by having them around for company.
Sitting at lunch on the deck, our little family of four together, eating less-than-special-PBJ's (Abby's declaration), new flowers hanging nearby. For me, it couldn't be any better.
Friday, May 8, 2009
I devoured the book "The Color of Water" by James McBride this week. A couple of friends had recommended it, I finally requested it from the library. Took me three days to read (a post-kids record for a novel?) - and if you haven't read it since it was published years ago, it's really good. Blacks/whites/Jews in the north and south during the 30s to the present - all wrapped up in one family's amazing story. Good stuff.
My usual top hobby is all things food - but some stomach issues for me and the fam have put that on hold temporarily. (I never realized how much time and interest food absorbs for me until I've stepped away for a bit. I mean, I'm still eating, but no cooking magazines or fancy meals!)
In spite of the busy-ness around here, I've resorted to other projects, especially ones that I can do from start to finish. A good friend who was chronically behind on most things would amaze me by dropping everything and making huge quantities of Christmas gifts or something of the sort. I marveled that she could leave so many other things un-done, to which she wisely said (more or less) - "well, if I waited until everything that had to get done got done, I'd never do anything interesting/fun/generous!" Maybe I'm just beginning to get that idea.
So, in the last few weeks, I've sewed three skirts for Abby, just about completely planted our home garden and this massive park district plot that we rented (yikes!), and I'm almost done caning my first dining room chair. Feels good actually. As for the Hamburger Helper dinners, crumbs on the floor and delays on clean clothes, let's just say that I have a patient family!
An interesting quote came my way yesterday - “Some minds remain open long enough for the truth not only to enter but to pass on through by way of a ready exit without pausing anywhere along the route.”—Sister Elizabeth Kenny, Australian nurse
Last but not least, as we've battled various blah sick days around here lately, I've been struck by the great things that feeling rotten can drive you too. Just having one person sick kind of puts everyone on hold around here - which is a nuisance, yet at the same time a blessing, because you sort of have a free pass from usual responsibilities except for keeping everyone - especially the sick one - happy. Around here that means all sitting and watching TV together, easy meals, pajamas all day. All together. Not too horrible.
For me in particular, at my best sick moments, I feel much more desperate than usual, and act accordingly. Curled on the couch, I gather my little girls to my arms to hug me and pray with me for better health and a better attitude. It seems to me that those are some of our most intimate and real moments of talking to God together.