Thursday, December 17, 2009

Is Santa Real?

When it comes time for us to cross that bridge, I'm with Adam

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Meeting Santa

No tears, but more than a little beard pulling:) All in all, it was a success.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Too bad we have plans...

because I don't think I will have truly lived until we make it to the KING RANCH COWBOY BREAKFAST. Two years in a row I am missing it. Woe is me. Next year will be our year.

P.S. if you've ever seen the King Ranch logo on the back of a Ford vehicle... Yes, it's this King Ranch, in our backyard. It's bigger than the entire state of Rhode Island, no joke.

Local volunteers will be serving up heaping plates of eggs, refried beans, biscuit's 'n gravy, sausage, tortillas, coffee and juice.

Team roping, horseshoeing, rawhide braiding, and old-time cow camp cooking demonstrations
will be part of the morning's activities, along with cowboy poetry, storytelling, and musical
entertainment. Come join us for a taste of the cowboy life.

Held in November on the Saturday before Thanksgiving – 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Tickets: ages 4 and up $6.00 – ages 3 and under FREE!

Advance tickets may be purchased starting in November at:
• King Ranch Saddle Shop
• Kingsville Convention and Visitor's Bureau
• King Ranch Visitor's Center
• or at the Breakfast

For more information call: 1-800-333-5032 or 361-221-0116
King Ranch, Highway 141, Kingsville, Texas

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My Worst Nightmare- oh Texas, let me count thy ways...

Today I had to face my biggest fear. As if I don't already feel like a prisoner in my own home, since there are 200 mosquitoes hanging out (literally, that is a conservative estimate) in my front door and back door areas... We usually only let people in and out of our garage for a better quarantine area... And I only open my garage when I must, as in, I am leaving with a stroller, or car.

Well today it happened. I put Claire in the car, then opened the garage door to leave this cursed property, and in to my perfectly clean garage slithers a perfectly UNWELCOME snake. Spawn of Satan. My heart raced right up to my throat as I thought for a second before running to get a broom. I swept at him and yelled at him until he went into the bushes out front. I got into my car just to have another semi-heart attack as I saw the chord that you plug the iPhone into to play music through the car stereo; anything long and black was making me jump a mile.

Rough couple of minutes. I hate being so on edge here, like I'm in survival mode. I saw a snake last week in the driveway/grass, and that was bad enough. Then I ran 2.5 miles being chased by thousands of mosquitoes on Sunday. Claire even got bitten 3 times, WITH a stroller cover on! AHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! I am trying really hard to have a good attitude about where we live, b/c we have 2 years left... But it is rough some times. Today is one of those times. It's 80 degrees in mid-November and I just long for fall. I long to go outside at any hour of the day and not be eaten alive. Is that too much to ask?

And people ask why we travel so much... Dear Lord, have mercy.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Using your gifting... (or not)

Do any of you know what you are interested in and good at, and yet not utilize your talents? Be it from lack of time or opportunity? How do you deal with that?

Today I found myself in tears on the way home from church. Part of the sermon about 1 Corinthians 12 stirred me. The pastor spoke a small side note about the loss experienced when you aren't using your gifting, which resonated with me. After the past 10 years living around the country, in volunteer and paid positions in ministry, I know what I'm good at and passionate about. And I had grand hopes after seminary of entering a position at a church or a hospital, to bless others and be blessed as I served.

The past year has looked quite different than that.

This is not to complain... In so many ways, this has been a very rich season of life. Though Texas is our "wilderness," even the wilderness is full of life! After a rough beginning, we found our rhythm as parents, and truly I couldn't enjoy Claire more. Staying at home with her is a gift. She is a great baby and I'm grateful to have the chance to love her and get to know her. She is going to be one cool and powerful person, and we are lucky to be able to steward her life. She is wild, Carlos thinks she's just like me. We are going to be given a run for our money if so... Need to harness that energy. And I feel partially fulfilled in being her mom.

Yet, in the stillness, I know that I am not using all the gifts I was created with in full... and I feel a loss in that. I have tried to use my gifts in different capacities, with new student pilots and their wives, with new moms, with neighbors, with friends. I have entered into the depths with people in tragedy, going through divorce, facing lay-offs, or monumental hurdles in their personal lives. God can always use a willing heart to serve. I was asked to take a position in Los' squadron, we were asked to lead a Marriage Enrichment group... we are discovering the rhythm or work and volunteering coupled with parenthood; it's quite different than when we were single, with only ourselves to consider!

I just don't want to get stagnant. I don't want to atrophy. The best analogy I can think of is of a race horse, who is trapped in it's stall. I am chomping at the bit, but I have nowhere to go. And my muscles are atrophying from being stuck. So those of you who are so inclined, please pray that I will not get complacent or forgetful of my passions during this interesting season of life. In the day in and day out humdrum of life, it is easy to ignore the depths of your heart and what really makes you on fire. At least it is for me. But I met a girl a couple of weeks ago, a college student who is home for a break from school. She is hurting, because her brother tragically died recently. Another brother just left for the Middle East. I barely know her yet, but in meeting her, all these things started stirring in me, and if she allows me to get to know her, I can't wait to lavish her with love. Meeting her reminded me who I am and what I'm good at. So I hope.

And I hope that you have people in your life who remind you who you are. We are not defined by our present circumstances, but something, someone much greater.

You have to start somewhere.

So I'm starting here.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tragedy and Grace: If His Grace is an Ocean, We're all Sinking...

Do you ever walk around somewhere, like a grocery store, or a mall, or somewhere public, and wonder how people can feel joy when you feel like the world is falling apart? I do.

My heart broke this week as not one, but TWO military casualties happened in this country. War is one thing, but when training squadrons have accidents in our homeland, that is devastating in a different way... I remember each time Carlos left for the middle east/Asia in our last duty station I would kind of hold my breath for the months he was gone... A deep sadness would come over me on the day he left, not knowing if I'd ever see the love of my life again... And every time he came back, I could relax again, thanking God for his return.

Being stationed down here at a training squadron, I never even contemplated his life being in danger. But he flies a plane. Planes are amazing. But dangerous. And things can go wrong in planes. I forgot that. Until this week... Many of our friends know the two pilots who were killed here, and some even know members of the Coast Guard/Marines crash in California... Though I didn't know them personally, my heart grieves, knowing that there is a wife here, going to bed each night, and touching her pregnant belly, knowing that her husband will never again sleep beside her, and her baby will never meet it's daddy, nor will her toddler get to jump up into daddy's arms again... Elsewhere, there is a highschool sweetheart who was just engaged to the other Lieutenant who died. She won't get to wear white, walk down the aisle, and look into her love's eyes, imagining forever. All of her hopes and dreams and plans were dashed in an instant. Not to mention countless friends and family members who are aching...

So my heart is sad. Claire and I were supposed to go to Seattle for 10 days, but after this happened, we decided to stay here with Los. It was good to be together as a family, and we drove up to Houston for a night. We had the hard talk about what would happen in the future and for Claire (and future kids) if either of us, or both of us died. That was tear-inducing, to say the least. We made a list of friends whom we admire around the country and who could raise our baby in a way that we are in-line with. If you made the cut, you'll be getting a call:)

On our drive, I spent some time listening to the lyrics of the Crowder Band's new cd. Why do they always coincide album releases with huge things that happen in our lives? Anyway, sitting under the lyrics of How He Loves, I was/am really wrestling with the line, "if His grace is an ocean, we're all sinking..." Sinking is too visceral an image, given that these pilots just sunk into the Gulf and Pacific. I don't want to sink. I don't want to drown. I want to wear arm floaties:) I want to remain safe. At all costs. Which can translate at times into not putting my trust in God. You have to surrender a lot to sink. And you may have to suffer. Will have to suffer. I know God suffered, and is with us in our suffering, I felt that acutely on Thursday as we had a gathering at Oso Creek for the lost pilots. Many tears were shed and God's presence was palpable amidst the pain...

So it's a sad week in our community... Hugging my hubby and babe just a little bit tighter and thankful for each day of life with them.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Please pray for the two families here...

Claire has been sleeping almost 14 hours... maybe she's as reluctant to face this day as I am. So sad about the T-34 crash here yesterday, and hard to go on as normal, knowing that 2 daddies didn't come home to their beds last night and their kids don't get to see them today...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Like German Shepherds? Thinking of getting a dog?

A German Shepherd rescue group called Camp Wolfgang , in Ennis , Texas is closing down because of family issues on 31 October. I don’t have any additional details, other than they are closing their doors.

All the dogs are vetted, spayed/neutered, micro-chipped, well cared-for and many have had training.

They have nearly 200 dogs that must find a foster or be adopted before 31 October or they will have no choice but to euthanize them all.

I am shocked by this and I hope you are too.

If you cannot help by fostering or adopting...YOU CAN STILL HELP!!!

Please forward this information to everyone you know...if we all forward this to everyone we know, chances are good that many of these dogs can be saved!

They do not need or want donations, they simply MUST place all of the dogs.

Adoption fees are $75.00, free to verifiable rescue groups.

Current dogs: (approximate)
120 German Shepherds
2 Akitas
1 Anatolian/Great Pyrenees
4 Purebred Rottweiler
1 Great Dane/Lab
1 Boxer/Mastiff
1 St. Bernard/Akita
1 WolfDog
45 Other mixed breeds

Time is of the essence!!

If you know anyone who can adopt, accept a dog into their rescue, or help in any way, contact Neisha Livengood, Kennel Master at Camp Wolfgang.

Neisha Livengood
phone: 214-755-1627
Camp Wolfgang
6234 FM 879
Ennis , Texas 75119

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

TRAVEL= what we do best

It's been a long time since I've updated this blog... having an infant will do that to ya... We are exploiting her immobile season by traveling a heck of a lot... We started off small, going to Austin for the 4th of July when she was three weeks old. That instilled confidence in me in this new season of life. We then went to Houston when she was 6 weeks old...

Next came the flying season, oh dear Lord was I nervous for her first flights! She wailed with the best of them when the rude security guy in San Antonio made her get out of her carseat, where she was comfortably slumbering, to go through security. But, like a champ, she conquered the first 4 flights to the west coast and back. We had a great time introducing her to extended family in CA and Vegas.

Next up is a spontaneous trip to NYC. We'll see Los' brother and my aunt, and one of my childhood friends, as well as a high school friend who's in town. Looking forward to that! It will be special to take Claire to where my mom grew up and the stables where her horse lived...

Then we go back to Austin for the eponymous music festival, going to see Dave Matthews Band, Mute Math and some other fun shows...

After that is a trip to Hawai'i! My first! Claire is experiencing all these firsts way ahead of me, such as when we rode in a limo to In-n-Out in Vegas... I'm a bridesmaid for beautiful Amie, Claire's best auntie, and if Claire could walk, then she'd be in the wedding too. But her job is to just sit there and look cute, which she has down pat.

After Hawai'i, we are travelling to Seattle for 10 days! Because why trick or treat in your own time zone? We are looking forward to her meeting all of our friends there! Especially excited that Shannon will be in town from Florida with one of her newborn twins!

After Seattle, we'll go back to Houston to spend Thanksgiving with some lovely friends.

And lastly we'll return to Seattle for 10 days for Christmas... By then she may be starting to crawl, and after that, I'll be putting travel on hold for a while:) Hope to see you somewhere along our journeys?!

Carpe diem.

Monday, August 31, 2009

SEATTLE-ITES: anyone looking for a place to rent?

Dear friends in Seattle,
If any of you are looking for a place to rent this fall, our best friends are listing their beautiful, remodeled home on Queen Anne! It's a 2/1 in a great location, and they're asking $2000/month. If any of you want their contact info, write or call us and we will message you with it!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Maybe she'll be an Olympian after all?

Before she was born, we decided that Claire would become a swimmer: good cardiovascular exercise without the high-impact on joints, etc. Plus, let's be honest here, swimmers don't usually have big boobs. Can I write boobs? Is that awkward? Anyway, so we decided we'd promote swimming, and she could choose whatever other activities she wants along the way...

It turns out that our smily baby likes the water as much as her Pisces mom! We started taking her in the pool this week (10 weeks old) and here are a few shots of day one, plus her cute bikini from the Moseley's- thanks Ainsley/Elise!!

It turns out that activity in the pool makes for GREAT NAPS afterwards as well!! Hooray for that. She was so tuckered out yesterday and today that she even fell asleep before we got home from the pool (which is like a 50 yard walk, 5 houses down...)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Chunky Monkey Evans- our fat 2 month old baby

We pray biblical things over Claire all the time, for her future; as she grows in age, may she grow in grace... One concept she already has down is mercy. She was merciful to me upon arrival, that is for sure. When she was born, her head was in the 25th percentile. Her weight was in the 30th percentile, and her length was in the 54th percentile. Small easy baby to give birth to.

NOW, just a mere two months later, her head is in the 95th percentile, her length is in the 97th and her weight is in the 100th percentile!!! She has grown almost 4 inches and gained 6.5 lbs. Babies generally double their birthweight around 4-6 months... Claire will probably do it by 2 1/2! This is wild, I feel like we've watched her grow at warp speed, never in her life will she grow as much as this first year... And all the growing has left her much more content than she was at 6lbs, 15oz.

Once she was 6 weeks and had packed some weight on, she was able to start sleeping through the night; another merciful act. Right now she's sleeping from about 11pm-5 or 6 am, taking a 1/2 hour feed; and then going back to sleep until around 11am. She's got her 3 naps during the day down as well, ending with one in the stroller, while I walk at 8pm. She and I have logged 40 miles in the past 2 weeks! Here are some recent photos of our little chunky monkey; life is sweet with her, she has even won over her daddy with her coos and snuggles and smiles. I love watching them together!

Friday, July 31, 2009

Which Kid Do We Love Most? The human or the dog?

Happy Birthday Burly Bear, our favorite kid.
Pre-Claire beach and home lounging...

The World's Best Dog, Burlington Philippe Evans, call sign: Tornado, turns 3 today. We are celebrating him and loving him even more now that he's the best big brother to Claire. He snuggles with her all day and is always curious about her, he even takes naps in her nursery. The verdict is still out which kid we love more, but we both lean towards him. I'm sure this will change, and it's a good thing Claire won't remember us saying we love the dog more than her; but it's true...

iPhone help

Can anyone tell me HOW to post videos we are taking of Claire on our iPhones?

Monday, July 13, 2009

Before giving birth I didn't realize...

(this one is for all the moms out there)
One month ago I didn't realize:
The value of having grandparents close by, and what a loss it is not to have them close daily...

How close this experience would make me to my own mom...

That multiple days could pass (at first) without me leaving our house...

That 20 pounds could disappear in one week! Amen...

That I could survive without a full night's sleep, getting conditioned to shorter stretches...

That I would "hear" my baby's cry, even when she was sound asleep...

That I would be able to walk a 5K less than a month after giving birth...

That taking a 4 hour road trip by myself with an infant could be possible...

That my bad (fast) driving wouldn't change with my new precious cargo, bummer...

That going to the bathroom (TMI) could be scary at first and such a challenge with stitches:)

That bras were made in a size H! Uggh.

That something as natural as breastfeeding would be so hard for me, and that something as stupid as low milk production could make me feel like a failure in life.

But that supplementing would be the course we have to take.

And seeing a 10 pound, one month old, asleep in her crib would be the most beautiful sight ever.

Lots of stuff I didn't realize til this past month... I could go on (like how fast/high weeds grow in a month in my yard in the summer) I am glad to know that life goes on post-baby. We've taken Claire to restaurants, churches, grocery and clothes shopping, a baseball game, the beach, all over Austin, etc. Not bad for less than 5 weeks of life.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Baseball is ticket to traveling the world- sweet article about my little brother

Baseball is ticket to traveling the world
Published online on Saturday, Jul. 11, 2009
By Matt James / The Fresno Bee
For 50,000 rupiah, you can eat as if you're on death row: shrimp, lobster, beers until the bartender suffers carpal tunnel syndrome.

Rupiah is how you buy things in Indonesia, and 50,000 rupiah is worth about $5. You can feast for five bucks, and go nowhere near a Dollar Menu. Financially speaking, if you could commute cheaply from your current job to a home in Indonesia, you would be in much better shape.

Whitney Pierce went to Southeast Asia with a few hundred bucks and, well, he didn't live like a king, but he made it quite a while. For $2 a day, he slept in a hut on a beach in Thailand. He surfed in Bali. He caught a ride on an elephant.

Pretty much everyone who dreams of making it big in professional sports has to wake up eventually. "It's a numbers game," as Pierce says, and he's right. For every guy who made it, there are 1,000 who didn't because of a bad knee or bad luck or a bad attitude.

And lets face it, somebody has to be not quite good enough, right?

Pierce was a dreamer. He still is, though baseball reality long ago slapped him across the face. He graduated from Clovis West High in 2000 and went to Cuesta College to play catcher. He was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles in the 32nd round and then turned down a scholarship from Lewis-Clark College to turn pro. (The Orioles promised him $10,000 for tuition down the road.)

It went like a lot of minor league baseball stories go, three years of playing in towns in Florida and West Virginia and Maryland, until the Orioles released him in 2005. The Chicago Cubs organization picked him up for two months, then Pierce injured his hamstring and headed for independent baseball, the Gateway Grizzles of the Frontier League and the Chico Outlaws of the Golden League.

And when it came time to move on, when his mind and gut told him he would never make the big leagues, that it was time to do "real-life stuff," Pierce instead got another chance. This time, baseball would show him the world.

After the 2006 season, he already had gotten a couple of jobs in San Diego, one at a gym, another doing part-time construction. He'd never had a job before, never done anything but baseball. It felt pretty suffocating.

It was about that time, Pierce got an e-mail from a baseball team in Switzerland. They wanted to fly him to Europe, give him an apartment, pay his living expenses and give him travel money. And all he had to do was play baseball and do a little coaching now and then.

It seems there was a man putting the profiles of out-of-work American baseball players on his global scouting Web site. The guy even called Pierce to ask if he could represent him.

Pierce is certainly not your average young person, let alone baseball player, massive curly hair and a lot more free spirit than most. His parents are that way, too. His dad, Greg Pierce, is a teacher at Roosevelt High. His mother, Randy Robinson, is a psychologist. (Of his mother's job, Pierce says, "That's why I'm so normal and have such good people-talking skills.") They had dubbed him "Whitney" before they knew whether he was a boy or a girl, named for Mt. Whitney. When asked why parents would name a baby after a mountain, the normally outgoing and hysterical Pierce quickly gets quiet and says, "No comment." Ah, got it.

Before Switzerland ever e-mailed, Pierce already had traveled all over Southeast Asia by himself, backpacking and camping, eating the mysterious, living on a few hundred bucks. So, of course, he said yes, even if the Swiss baseball and the pay were equally terrible.

After that season in Europe, he got to thinking, if there's bad baseball here, there has to be bad baseball other places. And then he was playing in Germany for a season and then Australia for a season and then he was picked up by a team in the Netherlands. He hit in the lineup alongside a garbage man and a student from the Czech Republic.

"I've had baseball buy my plane tickets to six different countries," he says.

At age 27, his passport says he's visited more countries than most Americans have visited states. Luxembourg was No. 23. France was No. 24.

Some parents would be lecturing about education and responsibility and getting a job that pays, but his tell him how lucky he is.

"If it wasn't for my family," Pierce says, "I would have been in San Diego doing regular jobs. They've just said, Go do this. Go do this while you can."

He's been to the Eiffel Tower, hiked the Swiss Alps, visited Angkor Wat, the famous temples in Cambodia. Sure, he could do all this later, but the question is a good one: Would he?

"Is anyone really going to do that now that they've got a job and a kid and a wife?" he asks.

He could do this forever. There will always be another team and another league and another country. He could drag his guitar all over the world to play ball. A Division 3 team in Holland offered to put him in a hut above a beer factory in a league that uses aluminum bats once a week.

A lot of kids go to college and supposedly get ready for life. Whitney Pierce went to life and got ready for college. He might play ball another season or two, but he's ready to go back to school.

"The first time I went, I didn't really want to be there," he says. "I wanted to play baseball. I wanted to talk to girls and party. This gap in my life has me ready for school."

I'm convinced Pierce was in school all along. A really great field trip.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

One Month Old

Well our little missy is one month old today. I can't believe I've made it this far. It has been a rough transition, to say the least. We think Claire is the world's most perfect little creature, and yet we've had fleeting homicidal thoughts. She has made me feel more deeply in love, and more crazy than ever. What a wild month. I will post some pics soon, maybe tomorrow? After all, she did just get her second bath of the month, she's clean... She now weighs 10lbs!! 9lbs, 15oz. to be exact, but I round up. That is a gain of 3lbs. since her lowest weight. If she stays at this speed, she'll be 43 lbs by her birthday:) Let's hope she slows down... She's gained so much probably because we've been supplementing with formula, and she's gone through a few growth spurts where she was throwing down 5oz. a feeding, and does nothing but sleep and eat, pretty good life.

Not being able to solely breast feed has been really tough on me, I have felt like a "failure" since my milk supply never matched her demand. This has been the biggest headache of the past month, even though we've met with 2 lactation consultants and tried special herbs and I've pumped more than the local dairy... Many a tear has been shed over this issue, but the bright side of this whole situation is that at least our girl is healthy and thriving.

It was REALLY good for me to take her on a road trip up to Austin the past weekend (Thursday-Monday). I go a little crazy when I stay home all day, and if there's anything I'm good at, it's road-tripping. Of course the 3.5 hour trip took longer with a baby to feed and a dog in tow, on a 100 degree day. But we made it! And they travelled like champs. It was restorative to get out of town for the first time since our trip to Seattle in March (I didn't feel like traveling much the last 2 months of the pregnancy) and going to a city that we love for 4 nights was awesome (free- courtesy of your tax dollars, thank you very much). Los flew there and got in an hour after we arrived. I picked him up at a special airport for private planes and famous people (ever wonder why you never see them in the airports? I just found out, they don't have to travel with the masses, lame) My mom (our nanny, best gift ever!) flew in to hang out with Claire, and Los and I got to go on our first post-partum date. We went kayaking and to lunch at a popular Austin restaurant... Then we met Kiesha and Dave for dinner and we got to listen to the symphony's outdoor performance and watch fireworks over the river (the Colorado river goes through town) that night. We did a lot of shopping and went to church at Austin Stone (the church Chris Tomlin used to be at)- big fans! Both times we've taken Claire to church it has been really moving for me; praying over her little life is one of our favorite things to do, and holding her little hand with one of my fingers, while singing, was really special...

All in all a GREAT weekend, I mean, someone else even got to vacuum up all of puggy's hair! What could be better than that?

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Little CB is 3 weeks old... time for a ROAD TRIP.

She will never be 6, 7, or 8 pounds again... kind of sad. She's starting to really fill out her NB size clothes, but still a bit too small for the 0-3 month size. I am driving with her and Burly (and no Los!) to Austin tomorrow; pray for me:) I'm nervous to take her so far by myself. Los is flying a plane up there to meet us for 3 nights. AND my mom spontaneously bought a ticket and is also flying into A-town. It will be awesome to celebrate the 4th of July there.

We're all doing the FREEDOM 5000, 5K. I will be walking with the stroller... And that night, along with over 100,000 of our closest neighbors, we'll hear a free performance of the Austin Symphony on the lake next to downtown, followed by the requisite fireworks show. Exciting. Kiesha and Dave are headed up there too, and we are excited to play in Austin for the long weekend. I love it there. I just hope traveling with an infant is not too challenging! You can see more photos of ClaireHERE.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Entering the Parent 'Hood

So two weeks after miss Claire Dahlia's birth, I am happy to report that my head is above water. Even without grandparents. I was scared to death of my parents leaving and Los going back to work; but it has gone much better than I thought. Mercifully, Claire sleeps awesome at night, so after my first day solo-parenting; she allowed me 9 (!!!) hours of sleep. In chunks, obviously, but still.. Thank you Jesus! I've been running errands in the afternoon, since Claire isn't so much into her afternoon naps, but a ride in the car or shopping cart/car seat does the trick.

She is becoming quite the porker. After slipping down into the 6lb. range, she gained 2 POUNDS by her two week checkup. That's a 1/3 of her weight, crazy... On the one hand, I'm so happy she's thriving. On the other hand, I'm already getting sad that she's growing so quickly. Before she was born, I used to buy her all these clothes and stare for long periods at her closet, imagining the little girl that would grow into all those outfits. Yesterday, at Target, I bought her a sleeper for a year from now. As I looked at the discrepancy between the NB size, and 12 months size, I got so sad. She's going to get big so soon. My sweet little baby is going to grow up so fast. Now when I look at her closet, I am sad.

All that to say, when 2am and 5am feedings roll around, or she cries, and I am fatigued; I am trying to remember that this season of life is SO SHORT. Before I know it, she won't be nursing; so I should savor the time together... She is so beautiful and so tiny and so soft, and I want to savor this season while it is here; not wish for the next season... How often do we miss the treasures of today, because our sights are set on tomorrow?

Not to paint the picture of perfection, as we've had our low moments the past couple weeks as well, so I'll throw in a fave quote: to a crying Claire, late at night, "I just want you to be happy." Los, "Not me, I just want you to shut up." And to match his humanity, I definitely already dropped an F-bomb. In regards to a two week old. Classy. Low moment. Amazing how someone only 8 pounds can break the will of two grown ups:)

So that's the update for now, pics to follow...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Impending doom, I mean parenthood- AARRRGGGGHHHH MATEY! Walk the plank!

In honor of my mom, who is flying to TX for the 3rd time this year, today (and let's be honest, it won't be the last time, she's fired up to be a grandma, and it's NOT cheap or convenient to get here)- an analogy. My mom lives for metaphors, says approximately 1 per waking minute and can not relate to humans who do not have this capacity. While I harass her for the incessant need to make an analogy out of ev-er-y-thing, truthfully, I love an apt metaphor as much as anyone else. They take intelligence/creativity to form, and when I read one that's spot on in a book, I have the urge to highlight it or fold the corner of the page down. I don't do it, but I have the urge. Anyway, so the metaphor I came up with in bed...

I feel as though I am walking the plank today, off the ship of my life, into the tumultuous and mysterious waters of parenthood beneath. I don't know how to swim. I am afraid I'll drown. I can't see the bottom, the water is murky, unlike pools, which I prefer to ocean (for cleanliness alone- clearly the sand and sound of waves are superior). I know that God, and prayer, and countless hosts of other parents will be lifeboats, life vests, lifeguards, you name it, for us... I'm grateful for that. But it doesn't take away my feeling of fright over the imminent and permanent change. I loved our boat, it was fun, adventurous and safe, not to mention all I've ever known- it has been a good ride the past 30 years. That all changes today. So pray for us as we walk the plank and jump into the unknown adventures that await us. We read Scripture in Claire's nursery and prayed for her and our family last night, we are ready to meet her. So here we go...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Pregnancy Schizophrenia and Tattoos

When I found out I was pregnant, no one told me not to be attached to my due date. So rather than putting my weight down on June 3 or 5, I even went as far as telling myself Claire was coming in May. Then May ended, and I was bummed. For a pretty superficial reason (I wanted her to be able to bring cupcakes to her classroom and to be sang to on her day), but I was bummed nonetheless.

I'm not sure schizophrenia is the proper term, in fact, it probably isn't; but I have felt like I had a split-personality lately. In week 38 I was positive I wanted to induce 10 days early, as early as the doc would let me:) Then Los and I talked and I took that stance back. It felt a little bit like we were trying to play God to pick her birthdate and force it to be early. "Okay, let's wait to her due date to induce," was plan b... However, when we reached that mark, I had started to lean toward letting Claire stay inside as long as she wanted... After all, what if she's small and needed the extra time to grow? We were hoping for an 8 lb. baby, and she certainly wouldn't have been if we'd taken her out early. That is, if the sonographers were right (she was predicted to be right at 7.5 lbs from her bone measurements).

Now at 41 weeks I don't want to be induced, I am not that uncomfortable and don't mind her hanging out inside a bit longer, but now the OB is saying it's time to get the show on the road. Funny how we've switched places from me asking her and her hesitating to me hesitating at her request:)

This is me at 41 weeks preggo. I never thought I would get to this place, but my due date came and went this past week, and apparently my body and Claire have zero interest in parting ways. Unfortunately for both of them, my doctor does have an interest in us parting ways. So since I have not progressed at all and am almost a week past due, we are going to induce TOMORROW. Woah. I am the highest candidate for a c-section possible, so that is a bummer... Let's hope that my body takes to the stuff it is given and progresses tomorrow night and Tuesday!

So this may be the last post- pre our family expanding... We have had a sweet time together, enjoying all these "extra" days before life as we know it changes... We've slept in, been to movies (UP and The Hangover), we've been out to eat multiple times, I got a pedicure (pink!) and massage, we've organized the crap out of our house (all those projects we were saving for "some day" got done), and we've had fun with Burly at the beach, see below. Also, Los took the first step of his long-time goal of inking himself. He took the monogram Joel designed for our wedding and had it put on his heart. When he first told me about wanting a tattoo, I was super anti, but over the years the idea has grown on me to the point that I was as excited as he was. It looks great and I like how meaningful it is.

Whenever Burly thinks we're leaving somewhere and he has to stay behind, he flops down like this and won't move, it is so funny. Sometimes (if it's on carpet) I literally push him with my feet and he stays flopped over like that.

But he LOVES going to the beach, the water is his favorite thing and he loves to run around like a maniac. We have enjoyed sunsets at the beach a lot lately, knowing that we won't get to do that for a little bit once Claire is here.

So wish us luck, pray for us, and we'll see you on the flip side of parenthood! And p.s. yes, it's legal to park on the beach here, everyone does. And yes, I find that very strange. But there's nowhere else to park!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pregnancy Amnesia

I've heard that in labor and delivery, you not only push out a little person, but also your brain, which is what makes moms so forgetful. On the one hand, I've heard it's humbling to forget things that used to be ingrained in your memory, on the other hand, I've read that it's good to forget the pain we go through, or no mom would ever get pregnant a second time. So at 38 weeks, before I totally lose my mind; I thought I'd write an account of what pregnancy has been like for me:

*week 0- Our 3rd wedding Anniversary in September
*week 7-8- feeling a little "off" hormonally, but thought it was depression b/c of our x-c move
Things I did that I maybe/probably shouldn't have during pregnancy: drink wine, tequila, vodka, etc., take steroids (in my eye!) that cause birth defects, eat sushi/soft cheeses/deli meat, rides at amusement parks, skiing black diamonds in CO, and others I'm sure I'm forgetting (probably best).
*week 9-10- feeling acid reflux-y, went to 2 docs, was told I have an ulcer, then GERD. Meat/fish aversion also started; I've gotten protein from dairy/nuts mostly.
*week 10- 3rd doc confirmed pregnancy, heard heartbeat that day, weird. I was in shock. Went to the library, checked out a few books.
*week 11-16- shock gave way to nausea, I puked 1x/week but felt gross daily- things that made me sick: the smell of meat, Burly, Los, brushing my teeth, spitting and sight of mold. I normally love to cuddle with Burly, I couldn't stand the smell of him for over a month. It was very sad.
Also during this time, my sense of smell was on overdrive (lame superpower)- going to the grocery store was almost intolerable b/c of the bombardment of smells.
*week 16-17- first felt baby kick
*week 18- had a minor freak out that "life as we know it is about to be over!" We took an impromptu BabyMoon to CO and skied Crested Butte, one of the most gorgeous places I've ever been. This is also the last place I threw up.
*week 19- started to wear 2 pairs of maternity pants, which I later returned.
*week 21- found out it was a girl, named her Claire, and finally felt excited for the first time about this new season of life.
*week 23- started having Round Ligament Pains on long walks, scary at first, then I got used to them.
*week 25- bought maternity clothes and started to wear them, though I still wear my own clothes too.
*week 26- started having to pee way more, sleep being interrupted- sad. Also sound sensitivity started.
*week 29-30- travelled to west coast via plane, feet swelled for the first time, that was alarming. Realized the importance of hydration/elevation.
*week 31- Claire much more active, to point of watching her move inside my skin. Felt like a little alien in the tummy.
*week 32- face getting more oily and stretch marks came- NOT a fan of either!! Another sucky thing was that my calves started to hurt after sleeping/not moving enough, Los was kind enough to squeeze them occasionally when they bugged me.
*week 35-36- starting to get less comfortable, feeling pelvic pressure, and stopped going on long walks, 1 mile is fine with me now. Also started randomly losing my breath since my diaphragm is being squished.
*week 36- feet swelled for the second time. I fell and cut/bruised my leg/hip badly. And my not-friend, reflux, came back. Also, we built her nursery furniture the past couple of weeks.
*week 37-38- hands/thumbs have started to hurt in my sleep (carpal tunnel or circulation?) and I said goodbye to my wedding rings at week 38. Boo. Also we just put her carseat in the car! Now I feel legit, bring it on.

I'm sure I am forgetting some things, but this is all I can think of right now. Largely, it's been an uneventful pregnancy; the transitions/pains I've felt have all been pretty standard. The only interesting thing was when the sonographers couldn't find Claire's left hand- I was sad about that for a few weeks, but then they found it. My pain tolerance has increased some, but I've also had an easier time than some, with no abnormal things to watch out for, which we're grateful for. My blood pressure has stayed the same the entire time and weight gain was negligible the first trimester. I gained 5 lbs. by week 20, another 15 by week 30, and 5 in the past 8 weeks. I was afraid of gaining a lot of weight, but am glad mostly I have just craved fruit/ice water during the pregnancy. I did have a couple weeks where I wanted ice cream/popsicles (sugar) and pickles/chips (salt), but those subsided quickly. Some women stressed me out about physical ailments/bed rest during pregnancy- but thankfully that hasn't been the case for me. Now I am just spending time "nesting," getting our house ready and Claire's nursery ready, and soon I will be packing my hospital bag, since Claire already weighs over 6.5lbs. and her due date is in 2 short weeks.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Pregnancy/Life Update from the world's worst blogger

In my mind I think about blogging. But when it comes time to sit down and do it, I just don't make the time. Sorry folks. But most of you are on Facebook by now, so I don't feel bad, you still have access to our lives, stories, and photos, just in a different venue. But for the 2 or 3 of you who've yet to join that time-sucking social networking tool, here are some photos of my pregnancy and the past 3 months of our lives. I finally took them off our camera to share them.
It has been a busy, glorious, tragic time... I don't even know where I left off, so where to begin... Our trips west were amazing. Seeing friends/family, visiting places we love, eating food we like, etc. were all such treats. It was hard to come back to TX. But April zoomed by as we got Claire's nursery ready and read way too many books on what the heck to do with her when she comes. I had another baby shower here 2 weeks ago, and we have practically everything we need, which is nice.

Los loves his job, and has had great opportunities to fly and invest in younger guys here, both work related and otherwise. We love the squadron we are a part of, it's a great community, and are enjoying lots of times with others (sharing meals, game nights, watching our minor league baseball team play, and yesterday I think there were something like 8 teams of 6 members each that completed the Beach to Bay Relay Marathon; Los' team got a 3:02- really fast, considering that 4 miles were on sand!) Friendships are growing down here, which is great; and we love living down the street from Kiesh/Dave the newlyweds. Our other great neighbor friends Gabe and Meredith are people we see/love a lot too. Gabe was in a (car-totalling) gnarly car accident 2 weeks ago, and should have died; but miraculously, his life was spared. We've spent some good time with them and he is doing so much better, and will get to see their baby boy be born in 3 months, amen! While visiting him in the Emergency Dept. I felt nostalgic about my time last year as an ICU/ED chaplain. I don't know if that will be part of my future, but I missed it. I think working part-time preaching will probably be all I do the next two years, but we'll see.

Lastly, our pregnancy is almost over. We're excited about that, I'm bored by pregnancy; I feel like I endure it as a means to an end, but not really enjoy it. Lots of women I know LOVE being pregnant. I am not one of those people, and I am okay with that. I don't hate it either, but I feel like I put up with it more than relish in it. It's annoying to me when people talk to me, that's the first/sometimes only thing they want to ask about. I know their hearts are in a good place, I just don't always want to talk about it. At least they don't rub my tummy:) Only a few gals do that. At 38 weeks, I'm not too physically uncomfortable to be miserable, in that regard Claire could stay inside for months and I wouldn't mind. She has not over-stayed her welcome, she has never kicked me in the ribs, or anything like that.

I'm just bored; on with it already, let's get the show on the road. I feel grateful that I haven't gained too much weight, and am still able to sleep on my stomach, and do most everything I would otherwise, but after all the reading and nursery-preparing we've done, we just want to hang out with Claire; waiting for her to come out is getting old. AND, though I haven't had physical issues with pregnancy, 2 weeks ago at a squadron event, wives got to go in the planes and taxi them around the runway. This was SO much FUN (it is harder than it looks! did you know you steer a plane with your feet?!) BUT, when I was climbing out of the pilot's seat, I lost my balance (thank you bowling ball/dead weight attached to my front) and fell- splitting open my pants and leg, bleeding everywhere on the plane, awesome. I have a bruise the length of my shin bones and my scabs are going to leave a memorable scar. My hip also was hurt, and I'd like to get an MRI asap to see if any ligament damage was sustained; but this has to wait for Claire to come out. So in that regard, it will be nice to carry less weight around:) I don't want to complain too much, since it could be WAY worse- my friend Jodi tore her ACL/MCL/PCL and cartilege, just had knee surgery this week; I am grateful to be as mobile as I am at 38 weeks, even with this stupid injury. I just want to heal.

So that's the big update. Maybe I'll take some nursery photos and throw them up here. Everything else should be visible in that photo album I posted; let me know if you can't access it for whatever reason. Hopefully I'll get back to blogging semi-regularly soon. After all, I hear that new parents rarely sleep, this could give me something productive to do:)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Resurrection reflection (Mary Magdalene)

Here's something I wrote at this time two years ago. According to my stat counter, people from all over the world (Australia, England) are reading this this week. So in honor of Easter, I just thought I'd throw it back up there- it's from the point of view of Mary Magdalene. Be blessed.
“Mary.” Hearing that one simple word, my name, changed everything. To be honest, I was crying so hysterically when I first saw him that I didn’t even recognize him! I thought he was the gardener. The gardener! Didn’t he teach that he was “the vine and his Father was the gardener?” Well God, I guess he is looking more and more like you the longer I know him.

When he said my name, all the confusion and chaos of the past couple of days came to a halt. All of a sudden my identity felt secure and affirmed. I never pictured Jesus going about things this way, but there he was, alive, and once again, helping me understand truth. He calls me by name, he calls us by name, he meets each of us where we are, and has the power to restore everything that’s broken.

In any case, I had been so upset because I thought maybe someone had stolen his body. Everything that had happened the past couple of days was almost unbearably heart-wrenching. Seeing my teacher, my friend, up there on the cross was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced. Perfection sandwiched between criminals. Dying a humiliating death in front of people who persecuted him up until he gave up his last breath. Why did it have to be like that? He used to hint about this, but it was too cryptic for me to imagine what was really going to happen.

And there was an earthquake as he died. It was as though the earth was grieving the loss as well. I couldn’t tell which was louder, the chasms being split open on the ground, or the crashing happening inside my heart. Both were devastating. That morning was so dark. The clouds that came over the sun came over my spirit as well.

And then I was supposed to prepare for Sabbath? Yeah right. I felt angry, I felt restless, I felt out-of-control; the last thing I wanted to do was be still. There was no peace to be found this week. I stayed as long as I could outside the tomb. His mom and I and some others reminisced about Jesus’ impact on our lives. I don’t know if it was good or bad to do, since it made us all the more grieved.

I remembered the state I was in when he first found me. I was a mess. I usually don’t like to think about the demons that haunted me, but for a long time they were all I knew. They kind of ‘defined’ me. I believed a lot of lies about myself back then. When Jesus came into my life, he got rid of all of them. I didn’t have the power to do that on my own, and believe me, I had tried lots of ways to seek peace before meeting him.

Go figure, he was the only way to true peace. And he still is. When I was crying in the garden and he came to me, and said my name, I felt a surge of joy run up through my body. I hadn’t felt that in days, and I grabbed him, wanting to be as close as possible.
He said I couldn’t hold on to him, though. That he wasn’t staying. He was going to be with his Father, and told me to tell everyone about him. So that’s what I do now. I tell people, like you, about Jesus. I tell of his teachings, and how he changed my life. And the joy and peace I have now can’t be shaken. He is alive. And he calls me by name.

Friday, April 10, 2009

What's Good about Good Friday?

There can be no joy of Easter without the pain of today; no resurrection without death. Here is some of the text of my favorite sobering hymn for today, expressing our depth of gratitude; I fell in love with this text in college a decade ago. It was written 1000 years ago by St. Bernard of Clairvaux. For those of you taking notes, I would like this to be sung at my funeral.

O sacred Head, now wounded, with grief and shame weighed down,
Now scornfully surrounded with thorns, Thine only crown;
O sacred Head, what glory, what bliss till now was Thine!
Yet, though despised and gory, I joy to call Thee mine.

What Thou, my Lord, hast suffered, was all for sinners’ gain;
Mine, mine was the transgression, but Thine the deadly pain.
Lo, here I fall, my Savior! ’Tis I deserve Thy place;
Look on me with Thy favor, vouchsafe to me Thy grace.

What language shall I borrow to thank Thee, dearest friend,
For this Thy dying sorrow, Thy pity without end?
O make me Thine forever, and should I fainting be,
Lord, let me never, never outlive my love to Thee.

My Shepherd, now receive me; my Guardian, own me Thine.
Great blessings Thou didst give me, O source of gifts divine.
Thy lips have often fed me with words of truth and love;
Thy Spirit oft hath led me to heavenly joys above.

Be Thou my consolation, my shield when I must die;
Remind me of Thy passion when my last hour draws nigh.
Mine eyes shall then behold Thee, upon Thy cross shall dwell,
My heart by faith enfolds Thee. Who dieth thus dies well.


There's an Alien in my Tummy (and other ramblings)

Lo siento friends, for the blogging lapse; after our WA trip, I was WIPED OUT. It's taken me a while to get back on the horse... A lot of noteworthy things have transpired and we've taken some photos to share, so hopefully I'll get to that soon! Maybe even today... But in the meantime, I thought you may want to know that little Claire Evans is officially huge. Now people I don't know make comments to me about being preggo. Finally! I only have 56 days to go. (I tell her feel free to come early, though...) She is unfortunately a night owl like her mom, and is up and at 'em from 11pm-1am and again 4am-6am, which makes sleeping for me somewhat problematic. At between 3-4 lbs. we can now see her moving all over the place under my skin (which kind of makes me want to puke, but it's cool). We've started keeping a journal to give to her (either when she gets married, or preggo, or graduates from something, we don't know); and that has been fun to write in. We tell her our hopes, prayers, fears, all kinds of stuff; and are having other family and important people write in it as well. Hopefully it won't get lost, and will be meaningful to her when we give it to her...
Other than that... let's see, my legs are starting to hurt a bit more these days. I have to stretch and walk daily, or else they feel weird. Luckily I still feel okay to walk a couple miles a day, though it's getting hotter outside (80s every day), so that's a new factor, as Burly and I pant our way through the golf course:) And the worst thing is I've started to get STRETCH MARKS on my tummy. Not very excited about that!
On other fronts, her nursery still has yet to come together, but she is starting to have a little wardrobe, since people have been very generous toward her. Our goal this month is to get the furniture and bedding and glider all situated. So many decisions to make, I get really overwhelmed. My current quandary is an issue we're revisiting, the car seat and stroller issue. In Seattle, because of the REI 20% off sale, we bought a BOB jogging stroller and are stoked about that. But in regards to a light "mall" stroller, we'll have to figure that out; current candidates are the Bugaboo, the Maclaren, the Peg Perego... who knows. And unless we get an SUV, no car seat sounds super ideal. And last I checked, we weren't getting an SUV. So we'll figure this all out, I'm sure, but these are the things that weigh on my mind, oh yeah, besides the fact that we have no idea what we're getting ourselves into with this whole parenting gig.:) We're reading a lot of books right now, on labor/delivery and infants: eating, sleeping, crying, activity, vaccines, etc. all the good stuff. I know a lot of parenthood will be trial and error (humbling to think!), but at least this feels educational, stuff we've never thought about before!
We'll report back soon:)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Glorious Golden State

The rest of the past week confirmed in our hearts just a little bit more how much we want to live in CA some day. The green rolling hills with wildflowers galore, the outdoor living that is year-round, the peacefulness of the ocean, Eucalyptus and Redwood groves and countryside juxtaposed with the stimulation of the cities- it was a great week. We can't wait to go back in December, and see Yosemite in the winter again, this time with our babe (who will have to borrow snow gear, we're not buying it in hot TX!) My mom came over on my birthday and we spent hours at the nation's best aquarium at Monterey Bay. If you don't have the funds to fly to the Caribbean or the Great Barrier Reef in Australia; seriously, this is a great alternative. It reminded me of fieldtrips I took there in grade school, petting the Rays, starfish, and so forth. Such a neat, interactive place for kids to be engaged. We'll definitely bring Claire there some day.

Tuesday I rented a bike (only $8/24 hours- military hookup!) and rode along the waters' edge with countless other runners/walkers/cyclists. There are a lot of hard-core athletes in the area (makes sense, it is gorgeous), but at 30 weeks preggo, trust me, I was content just beach-cruising my way down the trail:) I also bought Claire a journal, that we have started writing in, and will give to her at some point. (high school graduation? marriage? who knows) Wednesday I walked on Carmel's beach again and went shopping- though let's be honest, there's no way we are crazy enough, nor could we afford a $137 sweater for a newborn, that she would wear once, then grow out of. Carmel babies are in a league above us, that's for sure! But it was fun to look. Thursday I got to see my brother for the first time in 2 years, that was cool. His flight home from Australia aligned perfectly with our week in CA, fortuitous, since he's about to head to Germany for their season. He has not really lived in America for a while now, so it was fun to see him. I hope he will be able to be in Claire's life some day. Friday we said goodbye to the central coast and headed up to the Flory's house in the Bay Area, to meet their new babe, Ingrid, 10 weeks. She's amazing. We hope she and Claire can be besties some day!! Our time there was much too short, as we zoomed off to the San Francisco airport Saturday morn. We tried to get bumped again, to stay another day, but no such luck. Bay Area, we will be back!! Just you wait!!

After 3 nights in our own bed, lots of snuggling with Puggy, and a couple loads of laundry, not even unpacking entirely, we are now in the CC airport, ready to board our next flight to Seattle. Last trip we take before little c is born. Pray that my legs don't swell like they did on Saturday! That was creepy, never happened before! I will post photos soon, but wheels up in 20 minutes!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

SuperNanny and other Resources- HELP US, PARENTS!

We have no idea how to be good parents. Like zero. We think we will be good parents, but really, we have no experience in this realm. Foreign territory. Babysitting here and there, nannying in college for good, disciplined, older kids is NOT the same as the journey we are about to embark on in 2 months with baby Claire. This has never really alarmed me until the past 3 hours when we both wanted to strangle the little maniac sitting (un)fortunately RIGHT BEHIND us on the plane to TX. I'm not just talking about kicks in the back, here, folks. From the moment we got on the plane, when he was screaming ad nauseum, "I WANT a TOY, GIVE ME that car, I WANT a DRINK, I WANT a SNACK!!!!!!!!"" everyone within earshot of him said, "You know what we want? We want duct tape..." THEN he ran down the aisle away from his mom. Great. And to bribe him back to the seat, he was given candy and juice. SUGAR!!!!! JUST what he needed to calm right down. UNbelievable. And his mom said to me, "I wonder why he hasn't taken his nap yet?" You wonder?! He is so spooled up, even with earplugs his piercing voice has been plaguing me the past 3 hours. He has been tearing pages out of books, hitting his mom, you name it, little Everett has tried it, totally dominating his mom. Los is biting his fingernails in stress and I am freaking out, because we only imagine Claire as angelic. What if her tendency is to be demonic as well? What do we do? How do you discipline and give good boundaries? Neither of us had a model that would be helpful to us now growing up (his was more strict than we'd like, mine was more lenient than we'd like) so we need some advice. That's where you come in.
We just left our great friends, the Flory's, who are already 2.5 months into being awesome parents. They showed us some cool books they have used as resources, and I thought I would ask you all in blog-dom as well; what are tools you've used and read to become great parents of great infants and toddlers. Do tell, oh wise ones. We are all ears!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Hello, my name is Casey, and I am addicted to California.

I fell in love with my homestate all over again our first day back. "There's NO place like home!" I feel like a regular Dorothy, exclaiming this from practically the moment we stepped off the plane until the moment I went to bed last night. I realize that I could lose most all of my friends/readers by throwing out the superlatives I want to right now, so please filter this email through your sensibilities and see it in light of what it is, someone who feels like they've been walking through the desert for a season, and has finally found oasis. TX is our desert. It is dry, flat and unstimulating to us; and while some (MANY) people love it so much, they wish it could secede from the union and become its own country again, for us, it is a season to endure (a la the Israelites) to get to the Promiseland, which in our mind, would be here. Trust me, I know my ego is so big about my homestate that it's amazing I can fit my huge head through a doorframe. So if this blog is annoying, I apologize. I usually try to be very globally-minded, and roll my eyes at people who are super nationalistic, wearing red, white and blue everything, and praising America to the high heavens, thinking its the best country ever. So I understand that that is exactly how I am about to sound. I'm sorry. But just as everyone wants to feel some sense of "HOME", and knows what it's like to "come home" after being away, the comfort, the peace, the joy, the familiarity, etc. that comes with a sense of "home," that is how our souls feel today. We may have 2 plus years left in our desert, but we are getting a taste of the promiseland, to remind us what there is to hope for on the other side of the desert.

And as an aside, the desert isn't so bad of a place to be, don't get me wrong! I love TX, it's great. The people we've built community with, the slow pace of life, the ability to have careers we like and start our family, as well as live in a gorgeous home in a neighborhood we enjoy, trust me, these are all things we are grateful for. When the Israelites were in the desert for 40 years, they had deep friendships, got married, had children, and I'm sure they had fond memories of that season, in ways, once it was over. We will have the same, life is good there. It just isn't home.

And when we stepped off the plane in San Francisco, we started to remember what home feels like, and that elation has felt like a drug that has kept me high for the past 24 hours. No kidding, I walked off that plane smiling like an idiot, and I haven't been able to wipe that smile off my face ever since then. Los said I should be the governator of CA (Lord knows we need a new one!) because he thinks no one loves CA as much as I do. I don't know about that:) but if you ever need a tour guide, I'm your woman. When we were landing, our breath was taken away by the beauty of the Bay Area, the mountains, water and cityscape. Walking off the plane, the architecture and art and diversity in the airport made us realize what we've longed for and been missing in TX. And this is all before we stepped outside and breathed the air! I tell you, I really feel like I was on drugs, having a high all day. Our first stop was by Stanford, in Palo Alto, for Los to get some caffeine at Peet's, his fave coffee shop. I stood outside stretching, and trying hard not to have my jaw drop as I stared (trying to be discreet, but probably non-successfully) at everyone in joy. I just loved everybody! I miss cafes where people are outdoors: cyclists, cute families, the random elderly person that you know has a great life story, the quirky woman holding two dogs... Oh man, I would not have stopped ogling if we didn't have an agenda.

Next we drove down to Carmel, which if you have not been there before, PLEASE put it on your life's to-do list. It is impossibly charming here. An unbelievable area. And the drive to get here alone, is phenomenal. You leave the Bay Area, passing all of the "tech" headquarters, and Google, Facebook, Twitter, eBay, whomever... and then drop down into the fertile land that provides our nation's produce. In our short drive, we passed by fields of artichokes, strawberries, and orchards of various kinds. We passed by acres and acres of vineyards and numerous wineries with tasting rooms. Then we went through the Redwoods, which separate the coast from the fertile valleys; they are sky-scraping tall and marvelous in their own right.
In less than 2 hours from the airport, we were down in beautiful Monterey country, where we luckily get to spend the next week. The night before our flight I laughed inside when our restaurant hostess asked if we enjoyed our meals. I said, "it was okay." And it was, it was fine, it got the job done. But to ENJOY my meal takes way more than Applebee's. Yesterday we ENJOYED what we ate.

We parked on one of Carmel's idyllic European-village feeling streets, and met my parents at Casanova's, one of my new favorite restaurants. I had a goat cheese sandwich that was so good, describing it would almost be an injustice to the art it was, like trying to describe the most moving song you've ever heard... Okay, I'm exaggerating, maybe just a little:) But it was better than anything I've eaten in TX in 5 months, that' s for sure. And Los had what my dad called the best crab salad he's ever tasted in his life (and he's old, he knows what he's talking about! j/k dad!)

After lunch, we went on a long walk on Carmel beach, which is such a fun place if you have or like dogs. Dogs of all shapes and sizes are allowed to be off-leash, and they run and play in the water- it's comical to watch. My parent's Golden, Jake, had a ball there. I am not complaining about the Gulf, I would rather be by water than not, and it's warm, which is novel; but man was it good to see the Pacific again! Later in the afternoon, we showed Los 17-Mile Drive, another "must" in the local area. Pebble Beach is ridiculous, ostentatious, but gorgeous nonetheless. We took some photos on the 4th green (I don't think we were trespassing, other people were there walking) of what I think may be the most expensive golf course in America. I heard it's $500/person/round. I can't even imagine that. That's more than my flight from TX and rental car cost! We heard the bagpiper in his kilt, serenading the sunset, then went to see my friends, the seals, who hang out all year, living the good life in PB, laying on the beach and frolicking in the water. Way fewer were here in March than when I last came, in July, but it was fun to watch them. I love the marine life in this area.

Our perfect day was capped by a birthday dinner for me at one of Clint Eastwood's places, Mission Ranch. The hotel and restaurant are in a beautiful area, and the piano bar full of competing "cougars" kept us entertained while we waited for our delectable meals. Cindy and I had local Sea Bass with a fresh mango chutney and spinach. Los had hand-rolled pasta and prawns in a garlic wine sauce. And my dad had their prime rib, all amazing. Again, food I ENJOYED eating. Then to my surprise, led by the pianist/singer, all 50+ people in the restaurant sang Happy Birthday to me, as I was given some to-die-for chocolate mousse pie. The four of us shared it before retiring for the eve with smiles on our faces and warmth in our hearts/bellies. I never saw Clint that night, but that's okay. Maybe next birthday?

Today promises to be another glorious day, we are going to explore Point Lobos state park, and do some window-shopping in Carmel's cute boutiques before saying goodbye to my parents. Tomorrow is my actual 30th bday (though we are stretching out the celebrations all month!) and Los begins grad school bright and early. Who knows how I will spend all week exploring, but you are sure to hear about it. First order of business, however, is going back to sleep. It is early and dark and I need the rest, I just couldn't sleep one more minute until I professed my undying love for California, which, while not my current home, remains the home in my heart. I want to soak it in so much that to sleep seems like it would rob me of that ability, yet back to bed I go.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Baby Claire's Bedding and Nursery and Diaper Dilemma

Given that we leave for Cali on Friday and then head to Seattle until March 31st, we won't really be in TX again until I am 31 weeks preggo. In my zeal, this past month I thought maybe I could learn to sew and design all of Claire's nursery to be 100% unique. Nothing but the best for our first born! But let's be realistic... THAT'S NOT going to happen. I would like to learn how to sew at some point, for sure, but maybe NOT right before giving birth... So I had to say goodbye to the warm pink/salmon and green and cream paisley that I fell in love with at JoAnn's fabrics. Another time. Luckily, we found online from my friend Heidi, this great alternative paisley print. I don't want the Pepto Bismol Pink walls or matchy matchy anything in her room, but I at least like this bedding. Los painted a little dresser green for Claire, to put next to a glider, and now we're trying to figure out what kind of crib we want. So hopefully in April her nursery will come together. Just in case she comes early in May:) Diaper options are currently what stress us out most, but other than that things are looking like they'll fall into place nicely before she comes. Would love to hear all your wise counsel on diapers, the more specific the better. Fun fun!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

On Marriage: Here I am, Send me! Or not. Maybe later...

Some times I wonder what was the deal with Isaiah 6, this great "sending" text we use in the Church. When Isaiah said, "God, here am I, send me!" was that the position of his heart no matter what? Once Isaiah heard what his mission in life was going to be, was he still on board? Or did he want to rescind his offer to be sent by God into a hurting world?
Some times I wonder about the same thing in my own life. Certain days I am like, "Yes God, USE ME!!" and yet there are times when I find out specifically how God might use me, I say, "nah, I changed my mind; get back to me with another, more lucrative offer..." Or even worse, "God, I meant can you use me on my own terms?" Anyway, gotta love our human frailty and self-focus:) Maybe this is why Isaiah made it into the Bible and I didn't:)

I have noticed recently that a lot of marriages aren't as healthy as they could be. Maybe this has always been the case, and I just have ears to hear about it now? I mean, there's the obvious and tragic statistics nationally, that so many marriages end, for one reason or another. But that seems nebulous, whereas the people I know who's hearts ache for something better, deeper, etc. seem to be increasing. Lots of wives have been sharing that they don't feel heard, safe or supported by their husbands. I'm sure if I was a dude, guys would be echoing that same sentiment to me. A lot of people seem unsatisfied with their marriages. Marriages aren't as urgent to maintain, like getting the bills paid, and the kids to school on time, so some people take them for granted and don't work on them. Military (or other job-required) separations exacerbate the problem as well. I am as guilty of this as the next person.

The past 6 weeks, we joined some neighbors in a marriage enrichment group that met short-term on Sunday nights. The sessions were heated and draining at times, as people shared their pain, anger and tears. Other than ourselves and the leaders, who've been married over 40 years, no one seemed to have very good habits in place for working through conflicts. For example, it was alarming to hear a guy say that he always "fights to win" and didn't seem to mind that that makes his wife of 18 years constantly withdraw. Or a wife of over a decade, say to her husband that she feels like she knows facts about him, but doesn't really feel like she KNOWS him. Pain. My heart grieved for these couples and so many others that have recently confided in us about their struggles.

So I asked the leaders where to refer couples that live locally and could really use some tools like those this group equip you with. I was hoping for a book, or an email address to recommend to people. To our surprise, the leaders then said they think Los and I should lead a group like this for 7 or 8 couples. Immediately, other couples affirmed that, and one even said they'd love to join our group. I was taken aback, mouth open, as I had not been interested in leading a group at all. I just wanted a quick fix to offer people, not the chance to really enter into their suffering and model/guide them toward health. Hence my questions about Isaiah, I've been praying, "Lord, do something for all these hurting marriages!" Not expecting or desiring at all that we might be part of the solution we're praying for...

So that brings us to today, as we're now considering leading one of these groups. I have no idea what it would look like, and if the 3rd trimester of pregnancy is the right timing for it, but it seems to be something growing in our hearts, marriage ministry. We are blessed to be a blessing, and if we could facilitate a space for other people's growth and freedom, that would be very cool, albeit a surprising new venture for us. Who knows where it could lead? So I'd love to hear from you married people out there!! What are the tools in your marriage that have made it work well for you?! What nuggets of wisdom do you have to pass on to others? How do you address areas in which you struggle? Any and everything you have to offer us would be awesome, either on this blog or in a private email. Thanks a lot friends, may we all grow in grace as we grow in age.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

poem and prayer

it is a new day.
it is a brand new day.
life has changed.
life will never be the way it was.
for you do not delight in my sacrifices that produce
woe to these bandaids.
in this lenten season,
and once, for all,
i am forgiven
and being made whole.