Thursday, February 26, 2009

Poop, Placentas and Pulled Pork, awesomeness...

If being the parent of a dog is anything like being the parent of a little person, I might need to rethink this whole parenting gig we have coming up the next two decades, because apparently we aren't ready to handle it. I hate bodily fluids. Last night, at our friends' house, we were more engrossed with watching LOST (I hate Ben!!!) and conversation, than paying attention to what Burly was doing. After wearing out their two big dogs, our little porker snuck over and gobbled down who knows how much of their dogs' food. At one or two points I said, "hey, I think Burly's eating?" But neither of us did anything about it... He was a little maniac on the walk home (Gabe and Meredith live at the end of our street) and we thought Burly would be fine all night, since he pooped and peed on the walk. Not so. When Los woke up this morning, Burly had pooped in our bathroom. We scolded him, and he looked repentant, so we thought it was over. I laid in bed feeling guilty that we had punished him when really it was our fault that we hadn't taken away the opportunity for him to eat last night. We talked about it, and I went back to bed. Not before joking, though, that if he ever pooped in our closet, I would sell him to the gypsies.

Two hours later, Burly gave me my chance. When I woke up again, he had decided that pooping on our Italian tile and white bath mat just wasn't enough. So he pooped on Los' side of the closet carpet as well. What a guy! I was furious. 3 times in one night! AFTER going outside twice?! Who does that? Not our angelic practically-perfect-in-every-way dog. I contemplated feeding him to the local coyotes or my previous threat of selling him to the gypsies for at least 5 minutes before deciding to forgive him and making up. When I took him outside this morning he promptly went again, so I guess he'd been showing restraint inside?? I don't know how such a little dog can poop so many times in 12 hours, but... what can I say, he's a pro.

On a completely other note, yesterday our birth coach came over and showed us two videos of natural childbirths. WAY graphic compared to any romantic notion we'd previously held. What ever happened to the stork- I just want a clean bundle of joy delivered to me?! Looking at cute baby girl clothes and picking out nursery furniture is stuff I can do. Stuff I like doing. But watching women sans medicine in painful labor for hours- rough. I don't know if I have what it takes for that! As much as we would prefer to go without meds, we felt queasy watching the pain that these strange women (whom we now have seen every (awkward!) body part of) were in as they went through labor. We both teared up watching the actual birth, that was just amazing. But lest we get too sentimental, then came the most disgusting thing ever, the "birth of the placenta." Cue gagging sounds, that was nasty... And our birth coach said, "yeah, in some cultures people EAT the placenta or at least bury it." We looked at each other in horror and silently agreed that when that day comes, the doctor can just go ahead and pitch ours in the trash asap! No thanks.

Which brings me to this morning and pulled pork. With my recent acquisition of a Southern Living magazine subscription, I have become more and more of a southern chef by the month. Today I was man-handling 7 lbs. of pork to put in the slow cooker when gross pig blood got all over my white (of course) tank top. This finalized my whole-hearted disgust in blood and every other bodily fluid. I have had enough of them for one 24 hour period, thank you very much. Just for the record, I hereby renounce any further career ambitions to be a surgeon or butcher:) I am preaching the first sermon of Lent this Sunday, and last Sunday I preached on Hebrews 7 and how Christ is the once for all priest and sacrifice. I have never been more grateful to live in a time period without animal sacrifice and the blood, guts and smell therein than in the past 24 hours:) Yet one more reason to be thankful for the Cross. On that note, happy Lent everyone.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

LIFE- tragic, abundant, wrenching, beautiful.

Life is so fickle. This past week in my mailbox, I received on the same day both a wedding announcement/save the date card, and a merchandise credit to Williams-Sonoma. One couple of friends got married in Switzerland, and are coming stateside to have a celebration in Santa Barbara this summer. I couldn't be happier for them. Another couple dissolved their new marriage and returned all of our gifts in the mail. I couldn't be sadder for them. The irony of that juxtaposition in my mailbox struck a chord with me. I am reminded of Ecclesiastes 3. Its scope is beyond me.

When we first moved to TX, we decided not to go to the west coast for the holidays. We wanted to save money, which was a good thing, since in March we'll be going to both California and Seattle for a week each. Some old friends in Houston invited us to spend Thanksgiving with them and we were very excited to do so. We had the most lovely day, and shared it with one of the coolest families I have ever met. Their name is the Alford's and their huge southern mansion in Houston's artsy district could not have been more beautiful. It's beauty was far eclipsed, however, by the love in that 5 person family. They had been through a hard year, as the father, Gene, had been paralyzed from the waist down in an accident on their farm (a tree pinned him down on his tractor). Gene is a prominent surgeon, and navigating the life changes after that tragedy was, and continues to be, challenging. But the love and support and joy we experienced in their family in November was palpable, the tragedy just made them stronger as a family.

I am sad to say that this past week, tragedy struck them again. I have no idea why tragedy strikes, but our hearts are groaning with and burdened for the Alford's and we would love if you would pray for them. The youngest son Charles had just turned 16, and was so excited to be given a car from his grandparents. He was driving back from west TX, when he was struck and killed in an accident. His mom was in the car with him and also injured. She is now temporarily joining her husband in a wheelchair. Her grief and strength are unimaginable to me. You can see Charles' sweet face and read his obituary here. Please pray for Gene, Mary, John and Bess and their extended family. Charles had a keychain with the verse Is. 41:10, a verse other friends of mine have chosen to uphold in the face of death as well, as it says a promise from God, "Fear not, for I am with you." May we all cling to that truth amidst the tumult of life here on earth.

Life is short, tragic, beautiful, fulfilling and wrenching, if we fully live. I suppose we could numb ourselves throughout it, a la Zach Braff in Garden State, one of our most favorite movies, but I would rather feel deeply, all of the heights and all of the depths combined. I don't know what strange and hard things you may be getting in your mailbox, facing in your family or facing in this questionable economy, but I am going to join the chorus of those trusting that amidst it all we need not fear, for God is with us.


This morning, I stumbled upon this disgusting website, if you never want to be hungry again, check this out. My arteries clogged just looking at it.

Sometimes I am really motivated about food. As we've learned more how to bolster our "leafy green" intake and get all our nutrients from whole foods, rather than pills, eat organically, locally and in season, etc. we've picked up some good tips and habits. Reading Kingsolver's Animal, Vegetable, Miracle was eye-opening to say the least, and as I gave it to my mom this weekend, we had lots of motivational conversations about food.

But other times I am discouraged about food, because along with all our newfound knowledge comes conviction when I am slacking on being a good steward of my own body, let alone the earth! It feels hypocritical to know the right thing to do (or eat, as it were) and then not do it. Very Romans 7-esque, if you know what I mean? Being the classy people that we are, after our great conversations about food and health, on Valentine's Day, we promptly ate at a) Costco and b) Taco Bell. Cast your stones now, people, I am ready. I wish I could just blame it on my pregnancy cravings and say that after June, we will be perfect eaters... But that's probably not true. Sigh. I'm trying to see eating as a continuum and if concession stand junk food were all the way on one side, and organic vegans were on the other (I don't know?) I would like to make peace with being somewhere in the middle, moving in a healthier direction. It'd be easier to be all about "moderation" and be less OCD. Alas, so far I just feel like a hypocrite:)

I know I'm not alone in this. Thoughts? Struggles? How do you interact with food and not let it become too prominent a focus? Tell me.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Baby Good News and maybe good or not-so-good news

So my mom just left after a great week in TX. Thankfully the weather was cool enough for us to walk Burly on the beach a couple of days and to feel comfortable in general. She loved feeling Claire kick and "being a part of the pregnancy." We shopped for maternity clothes, which was such a blessing, and a lot of baby stuff. I even found a baby towel with a hood that had CLAIRE sewed onto it in pink. I heart the Pottery Barn outlet clearance section. Everything was 70% off the sale prices that were already marked down. We got her towel for only $3. And after weeks of feeling non-committal, I finally am inspired about Claire's nursery. It started out with a pillow sham that was also in the clearance section. We can put that on the chair that will be in her room. We then went to JoAnn's fabric store with the sham and I got 14 swatches of pinks, greens, paisleys, taupes and creams. I sketched out what her room will look like, and now we just have to find someone to help us sew, (or maybe I will learn?) and to paint a dresser that we want to keep in her room for some funky color. Los' mom is going to make her an adorable lamp shade from coordinating ribbon as well. Even though I am only 25 weeks, I am starting to have more of a vision of what the room will look like when she joins our family and we spend time in there. FUN!

The other news I got yesterday, was that I am "measuring" 4 weeks ahead of schedule. I wish this meant I was going to deliver that early, but most likely, the OB said, we're just having a BIG baby. Great... I was only 6lbs, 13oz. though I was 21" long. I was hoping to be carrying a similar little person, but apparently that's not in the cards? Have any of you moms gotten that news from your OB? How did it pan out for you?! Do tell, please! I would love to hear!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Stomach Suspenders and Baby Paraphernalia

For all those ladies that have been prego before, please tell me your advice. I'm in week 24, and really have NOTHING to complain about, since I've gained only maybe 7 lbs. thus far, 1 of it being another person (grow, Claire, grow!). I'll chalk that up to 'awesome' morning sickness, and all the eating at home we've been doing (amazing what unprocessed foods will do for you? I guess God's design of food is better than our diabetes and obesity-inducing creations, after all! Who knew?!)

Still, though, when I go on walks with little b, sometimes I wish there was such an invention as stomach suspenders, because my tummy just feels so... awkward. Like I need some construction worker guy's industrial-sized belt:) One friend suggested pre-natal yoga could help improve my posture. Any recommendations on dvd's? The only class pre-natal class here is a far drive away (okay, really only like 25 minutes, but I'm that lazy- I know I used to drive an hour to Seattle on a whim, but times have changed). I've also read things online about "belly bands," but do they really work?

I'm open to any and all feedback. Since I'm joining you in the "sorority of motherhood," please indoctrinate me! And while you're at it, I'd LOVE to hear any baby "products" that you can't live without/LOVE to pieces. We started to register, but it was SO overwhelming- baby paraphernalia is SUCH a market these days, we were a little stressed out by it, just like wedding registry when we spent 4 consecutive hours at Williams-Sonoma, fretting over which dishes to choose, and the All-Clad pots and pans we don't even have today... Good times. I've been eyeing Craigslist faithfully, knowing we can score some stuff that way, but what would you suggest we buy or register for? Spill the beans, as it were.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Pursuit of Happy-ness

Yes, I'm spelling it incorrectly, b/c I want to be like Will Smith. Who doesn't, really? Anyway, I was driving down the street today with a friend who asked how I was doing. We've left WA 4 months ago, now, which had essentially been "home" for the past decade of my life... And I shared with my new friend that this week, for the first time since we've been Texans, I really felt HAPPY. Like deep inside your bones happy. I was surprised by that feeling! When we moved here things were rough for me. I was lonely. I thought I was just depressed. Turns out I was having morning sickness unbeknownst to me:) Eventually that passed (I think the last time I puked was at 17 weeks?)

I prayed for #1: friends and new moms to get to know, since this whole parenthood thing is such a mystery to me. Then I prayed for #2: stuff to do, other than sit at home and blog:)

And now I sit here, looking at my February calendar which has lots of things written on it, and I am grateful for how God has answered those prayers... This past fall, for the first time in my academic life, I lived without a DayPlanner. For as long as I can remember, I've been on a "school year" calendar (August to August) rather than a normal January to December calendar. Since I finished grad. school in September, I tried to live without a DayPlanner until I could join the rest of the non-academic world on January 1, with a new calendar. It was a big step:) But to be honest, I had hardly any friends, not to mention plans, this fall. So I wouldn't have had much to write down, if I'd had a calendar:)

Ceremoniously, during the first week of January I walked into Barnes and Noble and bought a 1/2-off 2009 calendar. I "put myself out there" and met one of my neighbors, who's also a Navy wife in our squadron. Turns out she's pregnant also AND from California- could that be more awesome?! Thanks Lord. Step one, check. Step two, meet some other gals. I went to a "Bunko" night (this stupid dice game that takes no skill, or at least that's what I assume, but I'm terrible at it- so maybe it is hard?). I knew noone except my neighbor at the beginning, but eventually I found two girls I liked and connected with. In turn, they invited me to a dinner party a couple weekends ago. I was nervous going to that alone, but lo and behold, I met MORE girls I liked and connected with at that- some of whom are new moms! And just like that, now it's February, and I have a handful of gals I could go walking with, or to yoga, or a movie, or have a game night/dinner party with. And people to talk about the craziness of pregnancy. I am not alone- it is good for the human heart to know it is not alone. God is good. That prayer was answered, and my calendar looks encouraging, even if I'm living in South Texas.

Prayer two was for some stuff to do. Having no idea what motherhood will be like, I've been hesitant to commit to a full or part-time job. I had pursued one as a chaplain at a local hospital, but the economic downturn took that job away in November. Then I pursued one at a local church, but it never felt "right" to us. So I dropped that, but I wanted to exercise my gifting and skill set, so I asked God to hook me up. And in January, after our ski vacation to CO, my prayer was answered. A local church has asked me to preach there once a month for a few hundred dollars a time. I am thrilled. It is so fun, because Los and I get to lead the service together, something that is encouraging (and unexpected) to us both.

And THEN, last week, even more random and cool, Los' "head boss" called him up. Los was nervous b/c he thought this shouldn't happen unless he was in trouble:) But his commanding officer was wanting to know if I'd be interested in being the liaison between him and the command and all of the families in the squadron (student spouses and pilots' families). It is kind of a big deal, and at first I was shocked- since I was not involved in the slightest at our last duty station! But as I learned about the position, I got really excited- I get to love on people who are hurting or need help, and be a resource/encouragement to them... kind of like a chaplain to the squadron:) I have no idea how this will shape up, but after years of college ministry, loving young women is something I'm pretty professional at- so I look forward to getting to know some people here in that capacity.

So things are looking up. And I am happy. Life is simple here. Slow. VERY different than what I was used to in grad school. But we feel healthy. We have LOTS of uninterrupted time together. And are making memories together and with new friends. AND the pregnancy is over half-way done. We will meet our little girl in 4 months:) Life is good, and I am grateful.

25 Random Things About Casey

For those of you who aren't on Facebook, there is this silly phenomenon sweeping the interweb. According to today's NY Times, over 5 million people have done this silly "chain" email in the past 2 weeks. I have enjoyed reading countless friend's and family's entries. And for those of you have yet to see them, here are my little quirks... or at least the first 25 I thought of.

1) When Los proposed to me in France, I started laughing/crying hysterically and fell on the floor beside him. It took me a couple minutes to catch my breath and answer him. Not quite the “movie moment” I was hoping for.

2) When everyone got braces I was jealous, even though I didn’t need them. I talked my mom into letting me get them for 5 months. Now I wear a retainer for the rest of my life. Great.

3) I have studied 7 languages to some extent. I am fluent in 1, yes, English.

4) My husband is the only person I’ve ever French-kissed. And the only guy worth my heart. He’s amazing. I’m ridiculously blessed by him.

5) I hate running if there’s no soccer ball in front of me. Yet I want to run a ½ marathon.

6) Most people crave sweet or salty things. Not me, but I love sour, vinegar-y things, weird.

7) I travel like a maniac. Yet I still get nervous on flights. And I’m married to a pilot, what?

8) Los and I were the original Brangelina- we have always wanted to adopt from around the world.

9) Contrarily, I never wanted to get prego- I thought I had a broken “biological clock.” At week 21, I finally got excited that I’m growing a little person inside me.

10) On the scale of passive-aggressive, I weigh heavily on the aggressive side. I probably wouldn’t harm someone in real life, but I think about it in my mind, and like to throw out phrases like, “I’d punch them in the throat.” Creepy. Yes, this probably stems from my childhood.

11) I am super independent, yet love my husband’s chivalry.

12) I am a liberal conservative, or conservative liberal, I don’t fit inside the political boxes in this country.

13) I would rather my husband do the inside chores and I’d rather do the outside chores. Cooking and cleaning aren’t as fun as taking out the garbage and working in the yard.

14) I am obsessed with all things citrus. I ate 42 Satsumas in one sitting. It was a competition and I lost, but I got a crazy Vitamin C high.

15) I have a hard time being friends with people who don’t like cilantro or avocados, maybe it’s b/c I’m from CA, but I think it should be a law that people love those two things.

16) We haven’t had a tv since we’ve been married (3.5 years) but I love tv on dvd or online- currently I can’t watch Extreme Home Makeover without bawling my head off.

17) I think I could be a pretty decent long-haul truck driver (minus the greasy food and porn they watch). I drove across the country in 3 days by myself, San Diego to Jacksonville.
Or a Nascar driver- not gonna lie, I went 120 in my Acura on I-5 one night, jff. Bad girl.

18) I have very selective OCD in our home: in organizing my closet and the dishwasher- if someone else loads it, I will rearrange it. Sorry.

19) I am all about snobby, healthy food, fresh, local, organic, free-range, whatever… Yet I love corn dogs and mac’n’cheese, go figure.

20) When asked the question, would you rather have a home at the beach or in the mountains, I get really stressed out. I don’t know. BOTH.

21) I am obsessed with my dog. I carry him like a baby. When people don’t like him, refer to #10

22) I have spent close to $200,000 on my education- I have a very expensive brain. And I have no job.

23) I have been to 45 states and 20 countries, and I can’t wait to go to 40+ more countries; we love to travel.

24) I suck at talking on the phone, and am probably bad at communicating this, but I am passionate about my friends and would die for them.

25) I didn’t know I had curly hair until college?! I am frugal in many areas, but hair is not one of them, bring on the Bumble and Bumble and stylist.