Friday, December 31, 2010

Fluffy White Stuff

Snow. It's cold. It's white. It's pretty. Today, it's fluffy and falling beautifully outside!

This photo, to the left, is one of my all-time favorites that I have ever taken. It was taken January 20, 2009, apparently. These snowflakes were on my windshield, and I couldn't resist capturing their perfection.

I love watching snow fall. It's completely serene and mesmerizing. It calms me and lulls. It entrances me. I just found myself staring out the window watching the precipitation dance as it fall to the ground, for 15 minutes. It whirls and waltzes with such grace that I could have watched it for much longer, had I not the urge to sit here and write about it instead.

I love that snow is so soft after it's first fallen, that you can pick up a handful, and blow it away like a wish, or like a dandelion that's gone to seed.

Last year, my sisters and I were so excited about a snowfall much similar to that of today, that we
bundled ourselves up to go play outside, taking pictures of ourselves throwing snow, playing in it, blowing it around, and making snowballs as perfectly round as we could. It's one of my fonder memories of us spending time together.

I also adore how calm and peaceful the world looks as snow settles upon the ground, the stair railings, and the trees. It's as if it's been kissed with the beauty of heaven. I know that sounds corny, but I feel it to be the truth. Before the plows have thrown muddy snow onto our yards, or animals leave their marks in the fluff, everything looks like it belongs on a postcard of some sort. I absolutely love that pristine white landscape!

The one thing I really dislike about snow is that it makes traveling quite treacherous at times, especially if it is proceeded by rain and ice, and accompanied by wind.
If I am allowed to be safe at home, I do not mind it nearly as much, because I know that my safety is not threatened. Though, I worry about my husband on wintry roads, because he travels for work. Really though, driving in snow really makes me nervous. If it's just a little snow, that's fine, but as soon as it accumulates, or slushes, or ices, I'd much rather just stay at home with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and watch it falling out the window, much like I am, today!

After roads are safe for travel, however, I do enjoy a venture out into the snow dusted world, especially if I have my camera in hand!

So, all this babble, and no real point, other than the fact that I do adore the aesthetics of a lovely winter snowfall. I don't even mind the cold so much, so long as I'm not forced to be outside for long in one of the famous midwestern sub-zero windchills. But a merry little jaunt to the yard to throw a few snowballs, make a snowman, a snow angel, possibly a fort, or just throw some snow around taking pictures? That sounds like a delightful way to spend a winter day. I can't wait until Spencer is a little older and can enjoy the snowfall
with me.

(All of these photos were taken by me, except the one of me, which was taken by my sister, Samantha. You can see the ones I took that day (and some that she or Allison took) by clicking this link. Please, do not copy, save, paste... well, steal, these photos.)

Monday, December 27, 2010

Songs to Sing and Dance to

Pure joy is: dancing with your baby boy in his bedroom as he snuggles against your cheek and singing softly in his ear.

At least, that's an example I would give to define it.

Spencer has a cold. It's his first one ever. It breaks my heart to hear him cough, or hear his raspy yet screechy cry throughout the day as he just doesn't feel right.

Often, I sing to him. I sing a ton, every day. I rock him in the chair or sway with him as I stand, or sit.

Today, I decided to dance with him. I don't know why I hadn't before, but it felt perfect the moment I started.

We danced, and he snuggled up against my cheek and fell soundly into slumber. I sang "Never Grow Up," by Taylor Swift, which was introduced to me just yesterday by his uncle Jesse.

As I laid Spencer in his crib to nap, I got to thinking about how there are so many songs I turn to when I'm going to sing to him, and how I wondered if some day, he'd remember them. I know they say musical memory is one of the first types of memory you acquire and it also stays with you the longest, so I am sure he'll remember things like "You are my Sunshine," until he's a very old man, because I sing that song the most frequently. But there are so many others I sing to him, or I play for him that are mainstream songs, and he might not remember any of it when he's older.

So, I decided that not only would I make him a playlist of the songs that I sing, play, or dance to for him, but I will make a CD as well. And I'll put it in the fire-safe box we have for important things like social security cards and birth certificates. And if I add more songs to the repetoire, I'll add them and make a new CD later. I think I'll cut it off to those I frequent the most, in this first year. I just don't know, but I thought it was a great idea, and I'm sticking with it. Someday, I hope he'll appreciate it.

And, for curious minds, here are a few that will be on there:
  • Circle Song - Jewel
  • When You Dream - Barenaked Ladies
  • Godspeed - Dixie Chicks
  • A Page is Turned - Bebo Norman
  • When You Come Back Down - Nickel Creek
  • Never Grow Up - Taylor Swift
I have some more, but I'll leave you to wonder, or perhaps catch, if you're ever around when I'm with my baby boy.

Friday, December 24, 2010

My Christmas Wish.

This morning, I was sitting in the chair next to the Christmas tree, doing what I do every morning when I get up, when I had this flashback to last year.

Before Christmas, it was just the two of us and our dog. We set up the Christmas tree on December 5, after playing with the lights and camera.

Come Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we were snowed in at our house, just us, due to a lovely blizzard. I recall lying on the couch, staring at the beautiful Christmas tree, recalling years of setting up the Christmas tree with my family, my siblings and I taking turns every year with who put the angel on the top. I could see my dad putting the icicle tinsel on, making our tree shimmer. Putting up the Christmas tree was always one of my favorite traditions, and I was very happy that Jake and I started putting it up together last year, as I had done it alone the years before.

I recall sitting there, praying, and wishing that by Christmas of this year, I would be pregnant. We had been seeing the reproductive endocrinologist for not that long yet, two months, but I was hopeful. I was so tired of the constant heartbreak watching people have babies, and feeling like I was so broken as a woman, so hopeless, and feeling like I just might not have that lifelong wish of mine ever come true. But, I sat there in silence, praying my prayer.

In January, as a gift, my husband and his best friend enrolled me in the Landmark Forum in the twin cities. Begrudgingly, I went, though I felt forced into it against my will, and it really made me not want to go. But, I'm thankful for the experience, and happy that I went anyway, and didn't walk out when the offer was presented to me. I left the forum understanding my feelings better than ever before, and finding more peace within myself. I knew I was perfect as I was, and I had to accept me for who I was. It's not to say that I couldn't wish to be a mother, but I realized I really wasn't broken, that was a lie I was telling myself, which was effectively killing all my hope, really. I mean, my hope was there, but it seemed kind of shallow and superficial hope, just putting on a happy face while secretly still thinking, "yeah, it will never happen." That all changed. I found peace with myself, peace with my past, and peace and anticipation with all the brilliance that my future could hold.

While I was there, actually, I was so hopeful that I was actually pregnant. My cycle was a week late with no signs of showing, but each test I would take proved what I had felt and known to be true up until that point "slim chances it would ever happen."

The evening I was on my way home, I got my period. I wasn't mad. I didn't even really cry about it that much.

As miracles would have it, less than a month later, I found out that I was pregnant. It was funny, that cycle I didn't think it was going to happen either, but it wasn't bogging me down. I thought "next time, you never know." I had changed. And God blessed me in the biggest way. He gave us a pregnancy, one without complications of any important kind, and nearly 40 weeks later to the day, He gave us a son.

This morning, I felt overwhelmed with gratitude and joy as I realized that this year, there were three people in our house when we put up the Christmas tree. A daddy, a mommy, and a son.

What a beautiful Christmas gift.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

I really did grow some balls.

When I was pregnant, before Jake knew we were having a boy, he told me once to "grow some balls." I thought to myself, "I AM!" and laughed out loud, as I knew that our baby was a male.

Truthfully, I can be a total pushover. I don't always see it as a bad thing, because a lot of the time, when I am being a pushover, it's for things that really aren't important, like what movie to see, or where to eat lunch, or whether we should go to one store instead of another. If I know someone is set on something, but I want something else, normally, I'll let it up. A nice way to say that would be a people pleaser, I guess.

But I can be very passive. I let things slide, and sometimes I really don't stick up for myself.

Well, that's starting to change, at least in some areas.

As you may know, our upstairs neighbors drive me nuts. They're loud, especially the girl. They stomp, yell, drop or throw things, pretty frequently. The other morning they woke me at 5am. This morning, I heard them doing that all at 6:15am.

Tonight, the guy came home, and no sooner than I heard the door close, I heard her yelling and screaming and swearing and stomping, and then of course, he did the same. I let it continue for ten minutes before I took the broom to my ceiling. Normally, this gets their attention for at least a little while and I have some peace. It didn't, and they kept on. Well, that woke up Spencer, and then the dog started getting uptight. So I tried one more time. No use.

I decided to call the cops.

Jake has called the cops on them for this sort of thing before, sometimes it sounds like they're throwing things or getting violent as well as loud, so it's partially out of their safety, but also because they're a bother to us.

Usually, I just let them continue and I fume silently or vent on facebook about the nuisance.

After Spencer was born, I became a little more ballsy, though. I wrote a letter to the landlord. I put a note on the door asking them to be quiet in the hallway. When she didn't respect that request and was yelling outside my door before six one morning, I opened the door and had words with her.

And tonight, for the first time, I called the cops.

I realized afterward that I have become a little more aggressive, ballsy, or brave after having my son, at least when it affects my family and their well-being. I want him to grow up in a loving household environment, not one that's volatile and full of hostility and anger. Sure, they don't live in our apartment, but when we can hear them very clearly through the floor, it's like they do. Spencer doesn't need that in his up-bringing. I find that I won't stand for that.

So, sure, I might still be a pushover and people pleaser, but I'm working on changing that, at least when it's really important.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What I'm Loving Wednesday.

Generally, I don't do these sort of blog posts, but... well, Spencer is sleeping soundly, I already showered and did my hair, and got dressed, and got the mail, and did dishes... and my new friend Marybeth did this, and it inspired me to do my own. Peer pressure! Well, there was no actual pressure...

What I'm Loving Wednesday

<--- My new facebook profile picture:

Yesterday, Spencer was doing some tummy time on mine and Jake's bed, while I was taking pictures of his new diaper to show the woman who makes them.

After I had a photo I liked, I flipped him to his back and decided to take photos of his pretty dark blue eyes. The light in the bedroom was yellowish orange, so the pictures don't show the true blue, but I had fun anyway. Then, I realized we don't have more than a few photos of the two of us together (mostly from right after he was born), and I wanted to remedy that. I laid down beside him, and started taking self portraits. He was making funny noises and flailing as I did, but I was pleasantly surprised with the results, and how he was smiling and making cute faces in nearly all of them.

This is my favorite. It cracks me up.

I love looking at it!

Cloth Diapers

Yes, that's right. I LOVE them. I love all the fun colors they come in, the designs, the styles. I even like to wash them and watch them transform from being icky to being sparkly clean, and then stuffing them! For some reason, I like doing that. It's relaxing and kind of mindless. I like to stack them neatly and see how pretty they look on the shelves. And I love choosing which one I'm going to put on Spencer at each diaper change. It's almost like playing dress up! I love seeing Spencer in just a cloth diaper. It's so cute! And I love showing people his diapers, even though sometimes that seems strange. I also like that my family thinks they're cool!

Hot Chocolate with Marshmallows

The other day I purchased a box of hot chocolate, and remembered to get marshmallows this time! Last night I had three cups of hot chocolate with marshmallows and Peppermint Mocha coffee creamer. So delightful and calming!


I love popcorn. It's one of my favorite snacks. I'll even sift through a bag of mostly burnt popcorn to fetch out the good kernels, like I did last night.


I love when Jake comes to bed after his shift with Spencer and cuddles up next to me. And, I love cuddling with Spencer on the couch during the day.

My Husband

He works so hard for Spencer and I that I rarely ever see him, but I know he's doing what he feels is best for us financially, and I support him in that. I'm so excited, though, that he will have Christmas Eve off, and we will spend three days of holiday time as a family! What a wonderful first Christmas!

Random Titles of Emails in my Inbox

I don't open these, of course, but seeing the junk mail sometimes really gives me a good laugh... like the one that just arrived, "A local senior single wants to join you this holiday!"

Monday, December 20, 2010


Christmas is upon us. Every year, I get excited to put up the Christmas tree, choose gifts to give to those I love, and spend time with family and friends. Sometimes, I feel a little ashamed that the "commercialism" of the holiday grabs a hold of me, but I strive to always keep the real reason of Christmas in the forefront of my mind. With his help, I've been pretty good at it.

The past few months (since October), Jake and I have been going to Falls Church here in Sioux Falls. The services are wonderful, thought-provoking, and always personal. Pastor Lance is amazing at speaking to me, as well as Jake, and many others.

Anyway, a fun thing about our church is that it has "series" for the services. In October and November, it was "Lemonade," where it was focused on turning your crud into wonder by giving it all to God, basically. For the advent season, it's the "Born" series. Yes, it's mimicked (title-wise) after the Bourne series in film, but it's all good.

Last week, there was a clip to get our attention, talking about what the real meaning of Christmas is. Immanuel, meaning "God is With Us."

That really hit me. It said things like, "the woman on the verge of divorce: God is with you. the teenager gripped with addiction: God is with you. the man who watches all of his friends be married and he waits for that someone to find him: God is with you." The Bible, in Isaiah, tells us that the baby Jesus is God given to us, on this earth.

Christmas is the symbolism that we are not alone on this earth. God gave us his son to be on this earth with us. To walk among us. To experience with us. To live beside us and be our friend.

That's pretty powerful stuff.

I've always thought of Christmas as Jesus's birthday. That's pretty special. But to think of it as God giving his son to be with us, beside us, always... while I knew that before, it's pretty powerful. It hit me all over again.

It's comforting to think that although Jesus rose to heaven again, he is still with us. God, Jesus, the Spirit... they're with us always. God isn't just our father, he's our friend. He wants us to keep him with us, to cherish that gift. Don't just throw it away or put it on the shelf and take it out once a year at Christmas-time.

God is with US. Christmas changed the world over 2000 years ago. But the meaning of Christmas, "God is with us," can change the world, every minute, of every day.

That's phenomenal.

If you want to hear the message from last Sunday, the first message of the "Born" series (including the gripping narrative I tried to replicate (and didn't do verbatim)), feel free to listen here: [THE BORN SERIES : week one]

Another powerful thing to keep in mind: We were made in God's image. We're not wrong who we are. We're exactly who he imagined us to be. And when we sin, we don't hurt Him. His heart breaks, not because we're sinning against Him and hurting Him, but because we're hurting ourselves: we are hurting the perfect image that He created us to be.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

When did I stop?

When I was in high school, my main goal in life was, "to make a difference." That's what I'd tell people. That idea carried on through high school, to college, and after college... for a while.

Recently, I feel like I've lost that. Not that I don't want to make a difference, because I do, definitely. But, I've stopped vocalizing it. I've stopped using it as a driving force.

I'm conflicted about that.

I didn't necessarily think I was doing big things when I was working on this goal. In high school, it was writing poetry, mainly, and sharing it with the world. I know it sounds totally strange, but man, I was popular when it came to the online poetry community. I was on boards and people were reading my work left and right, praising me, and telling me how much they could relate. I received so many thanks and comments on my webpage (now deceased, due to the collapse or whatever of geocities) that I was completely astonished with myself. I didn't think I was really good at writing, I just wrote because it's what I could do. It was an outlet. It was a release and hey, an avenue for my ever burning creative fire. I made friendships with my poetry, online, and offline too. Even after my mother read my poetry about my inner pain and got mad at me for writing it, I continued, because it seemed to mean something, not only to me, but to the world. I felt powerful.

After high school, I joined outreach groups and other activities in college. At Augustana, I did youth overnight lock-ins with the IXOYE outreach ministry. It was wonderful! We were sharing the love of the Lord with so many children. It inspired me to work at Shetek Lutheran Ministries the summer of 2003 as a camp counselor. I loved the work we were doing. I returned the next summer as a daycamp director, and took other staff along with me as we shared the Lord with children all across southwestern Minnesota and southeastern South Dakota. I remember one camp where we re-wrote the Lord's prayer with the children, in their words. I still have my camp binders. I sang the love of the Lord with my guitar, for me, for staff, for children, for families. I felt I was really making a difference there, too.

I was an RA in college at Southwest MN State University two years later, and I was able to counsel and support freshmen students in our house as we went through some crazy situations. I allowed a random guy, who was drunk and drugged up, to grope and harass me for the protection of the students, and then work through it with them. I did everything I could for that house of students, everything they would let me. We formed some really great relationships, and it was really hard to say goodbye and get married that summer knowing I could never be an RA again.

During my junior and senior year, I worked at a Crisis Center in Marshall, doing supervised visitations. It was a relatively simple job most times, though it was always hard to pry children from their parents. But, I felt like I was making a difference, I was allowing these families to have time together that they wouldn't have otherwise.

My senior year of college, I took an internship at Western Community Action, and made it my mission to help combat the terror of poverty in our area. I loved it. I worked at the food shelf, basically running it, helping people have food. I helped run a free tax clinic where those who couldn't afford others to do their taxes could come and we would help. It was wonderful. I fell so in love with it that I applied to work there after graduation, and was hired. I then took on the food shelf, and started a group for girls, where they empowered themselves and learned leadership skills and other useful things. I ran a Big Buddies program in Redwood county (mentoring), and then my final project was to help form the Circles of Support program, where the community would come together on a regular basis, to relate, learn, lead by example, fight poverty, and form relationships, across all lines that are considered barriers (class, race, age, gender, etc.) I really felt I was doing something big.

During this time, I also volunteered at my other employment, the crisis center, as a Crisis Line advocate. The crisis line was a wonderful way to make a difference, with late night calls reporting rape, and I'd drive to hospitals to be an advocate for women who were going through perhaps the worst situation in their lives. I was there for suicidal callers. I was there for so much. They didn't always know me, but I was there. I was making a difference.

When I resigned from my WCA job and started as a preschool teacher, I felt important then too, not as important, but important. I mean really, I was educating young minds. Same goes for when I moved to Sioux Falls and started working in an infant room. But the impact didn't feel the same. I'm sure it's meaningful, but it just wasn't the same.

I sit here, raising my son, and am very, very proud of it. But at the same time, I don't feel like I'm making a difference like I hoped for, dreamed of, and wanted. I don't know why I feel that way. What did I actually mean when I told myself that? Was it to make a difference for countless people, or could it mean to make a difference in the life of one little boy sleeping on my bed? I don't know. I don't think there are clearly defined boundaries for my dream.

I think I just need to work on seeing the way things really are, and that I am still making a difference, just in a different way than I expected.

And who's to say I can't do something big, yet?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Confessions of a "bad mom."

I must admit. Most of the time, I feel like I'm doing a pretty good job at mommy-hood. I mean, it seems pretty obvious Spencer adores me, he smiles at me all the time and calms at my voice. He loves to snuggle with me so much that he'll inch his way upward on my chest so that he's snug up against my neck, and he'll even try to squirm a bit higher than that before I pull him back down (gently) to where I find it the most comfortable.

But there are times when I have these "I'm a bad mom" thoughts running through my head.

For example, last night, he was a bit fussy. I had a terrible, splitting headache, and Jake had worked a long day and got home super late, so when Spencer started getting hungry and fussy at 1am, I got up and fed him, but found myself crying the entire time because my head hurt so badly. Then, he wouldn't fall asleep, and I tried everything I could to get him to. He was obviously tired as his eyes were very heavy, and I was calmed down by this point, but I couldn't him to sleep. Eventually, around 4:00am, I left him in his crib to fuss it out. He did after about ten minutes, and slept until 4:44.

Of course, when I nudged at Jake in bed to see if he could get SJ this time, he barely acknowledged me (I think he was very sound asleep which baffles me because Spencer was loud), so I started crying again as soon as I stood up and my head was pounding, as I went to change the diaper and start the process all over.

This time, I couldn't contain my tears, and after half the bottle, I walked back to the bedroom with Spencer in hand and begged Jake to take him.

As I lay in bed trying to fall asleep, but unable at the same time, I kept thinking, "I am kind of a bad mom, I just cry and cry while I'm trying to feed him and get him to not cry, yeah, my head hurts, but seriously, I'm kind of ridiculous."

There are times I feel like I could really use a vacation. I feel bad about that. I mean, for years I prayed and hoped for this little boy, and now he's here, and I want to get away from him? Yeah, sometimes I do. Not forever, but hey, for an hour? Maybe two? Sometimes I would like to get away for six hours, just to sleep non-stop and not have to worry about him or hear him cry. When I admit these things to myself, I feel really badly. But, I have to tell myself, it's only wishing them every once in a while, and not permanently, and hey, every mom needs a break once in a while, right?

Jake gets a night away once a week, in a hotel, for work. Not the best atmosphere for him, I'm sure.

I have been away from Spencer for 57 minutes since his birth. I mean away as in not in the same household as him. I have been "away" from him, in different rooms and such, many times, but I've only left without him once, for 57 minutes, to run to the post office. Sometimes, I feel a burden when leaving, because I always have to pack him up and bring him with. I don't like admitting that, but it's true.

Jake went to the mall on Sunday, alone, leaving me with Spencer. I had wished, in a way, it was me doing the shopping for my brothers. I felt bad about that, too. I feel like Jake can leave whenever he wants without a second thought because it's my responsibility to feed and take care of SJ. I know that's not totally true, it's obviously a responsibility for Jake too, but let's face it, a newborn is usually attached to his mother's hip.

I feel many times throughout the week that I'm totally unimportant. It is my honor and blessing to make Spencer the most important one in our family, and I have no qualms with that whatsoever. It's a joy to me. But then there's the dog, then I feel like Jake comes next, because he works and provides income so we have food and a place to live, and then there's all the dishes and the laundry and the cleaning, and sometimes, if I remember, I find time to nap. I try to remember to eat all my meals and drink enough fluids. And when Jake asks me how I am doing, I feel bad admitting that I have a horrible headache, or my back is killing me, or my shoulders, and what have you.

And I also feel a little shameful when I think about how I'd really like to go out with my husband, alone, for a few hours, where we're not just dividing up household chores or who has to change the next diaper. At the same time, I mentally kick myself for not wanting to be around my baby every waking moment of every day. Though, I know it's not healthy to be around him all the time.

Now, I don't feel depressed or that things are really that bad, but let's face it, it's not always rainbows and butterflies in mommy-hood. I knew that coming in. I just felt the need to let this all out, so that when Spencer wakes up and wants to eat in a few minutes, I can feel much better about myself.

I know I am a good mom. I just need to tell myself that when I feel stressed out.

Now, I feel much better.

Oh, and for now, the computer is fixed again. I think it's got evil trolls living in it.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

I miss our computer.

Advanced apologies for lack of paragraph breaks. My phone won't allow me to make them... 2 weeks ago or so, our computer bit the dust. I was devastated at the thought that we were going to lose all of our pregnancy photos and all the photos we had of SJ, but luckily, a friend's husband looked at the computer and said they were salvagable. The motherboard is toast though so until we can afford it, we are without a 'puter. I miss it. When home all day and chores are done and naps are taken but SJ is sleeping, I miss being on facebook or email, message boards and blogs, playing games and editing photos, and so much more. I feel kind of pathetic admitting it but it is true. I'm lucky my phone has limited internet but it doesn't allow much. Yes, I'm whining, but I'm done for now. Time for popcorn and a movie.