Sunday, November 30, 2008

Exhausted but happy

I hope everyone had a very happy Thanksgiving! Ours was really nice - very mellow and relaxing. We had a great time at our friends' house, and R and his friend Z got along so well all day. After a delicious dinner and some time for digestion, we all had dessert in front of a warm fire. Heaven.

Our friends' firewood was wet that day, so they ran out to the store and bought some Java logs, which are made from coffee grounds. A and I were intrigued by the logs because they claimed to be clean-burning and low creosote-producing. The fireplace in our house can't be used because the draft needs to be corrected; if we light a fire, even if it's been going for awhile and the chimney is primed and warm, our house fills with smoke. This was so heartbreaking for A and me because the fireplace was a big part of why we bought our house. Anyway, our friends let us take one of their Java logs so we could try it out. On Friday afternoon, A lit it up, and it worked! I can't even tell you how happy that made me and A. And, R was absolutely fascinated by it. He asked me if we could play a board game in front of the fire. Fine by me! A immediately went to the store and bought a case of Java logs. More fires for us - woohoo!

A and I have been quite busy the last few days getting our house in order. I've been very frustrated recently with the sheer amount of stuff in our house, and it felt completely overwhelming. So I finally got down to the business of dealing with it. I spent hours going through everything in my home office and our kitchen and sun room/porch, throwing a lot of stuff out, making a bag of stuff for our yard sale next year, and organizing what was left. We replaced the rug in my office with one that was on clearance at Home Depot ($57 for a $250 rug!). My old one was literally falling apart - I was finding chunks of it all over the house. Everything looks so nice now!

A worked on painting the bathroom. (We never finished it after our renovation over the summer, and we've been living without a bathroom mirror and medicine cabinet for months.) Unfortunately, the paint color we picked weeks ago looked horrendous once it was up on the wall, so we had to go back to the paint store and choose another one. This one is better, but not exactly what I wanted. But if I make A change it again, I think he'll strangle me. Hopefully he'll finish up the painting tonight so that we can completely reassemble the bathroom before my mom comes for a visit at the end of this week. (YAY!)

The other project I finally completed was going through our photos and choosing some for the frames I bought early this year. The empty frames have been hanging on our living room wall since then. I've tried many times to pick photos, but until this week, I just couldn't choose the right ones. So that's done, too!

Hmmm ... what else did we do? A and I finished raking all the leaves in our yard because the last pick-up in our town is this week. We bought a few Christmas presents. A and R went to a birthday party. We went ice skating and grocery shopping. We played Trouble and Candyland and Hot Wheels. We helped R put together some wooden model cars and paint them (our new favorite craft for R!).

It's been a very productive few days. A and I are exhausted and not looking forward to work tomorrow. But I am so excited for my mom's visit later this week. I can't wait! Neither can R!

Monday, November 24, 2008

The baptism

Thanks, everyone, for your very helpful suggestions for baptism gifts. Unfortunately, I didn't have time to do much more than pick up a card on our way to CT on Saturday, but I have an idea for something to make the twins as a gift still to come.

We had a wonderful time. We drove down on Saturday because a friend of ours just happened to be playing in a band in the same town as the baptism (which was on Sunday). So we stayed at my friend's mom's house. We all went out to dinner on Saturday night and then, as it turned out, the men went to see the band. R had slept almost the entire two hours to Connecticut, so he was not tired AT ALL at bedtime. Our plan had been to put the twins and R to bed and then go to see the band while my friend's mom kept watch over the kiddos. No dice. R didn't fall asleep until 11:30 - when the men were already coming back from the show. Oh well!

We got to have a lazy morning on Sunday because the baptism wasn't until 1 p.m. We snuggled with the babies, watched a movie, explored the woods in my friend's mom's yard, and cleaned up because the reception was going to be at the house afterwards. Then, we got the babies ready. I got to dress little girl M, which was so much fun for me!

Little D all smiley before getting dressed

Little M is very pensive and serious

Our friends get little D dressed in his christening suit

I dress little M in her sweet dress - they even had beautiful little shoes, and M had a little bonnet

All dressed!

Two cutie pies

The baptism itself was kind of anti-climactic. There were three other babies being baptized, so it was kind of like a baptism assembly line. In my old church, the babies were baptized as a special part of the regular worship service. This was just a baptism service - it lasted all of about 15 minutes. But that actually worked out well because there were TONS of little kids there besides the babies and R, so the average attention span in the church was pretty short.

We all headed back to the house and had a great party. My friend has a huge family on both sides, and nearly all of them live in the same town, so there was quite a crowd. R had lots of kids to play with, the food was excellent (this is an Italian family, so the food has to be good!), and we all enjoyed my friend's grandfather's brother's homemade wine. It was a fun day.

Finally, we packed up our car, drove back to MA, and did our best to keep R awake so that we wouldn't have a repeat of the night before. Mission accomplished. :-)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Nothing says I love you like... owl decoy?!?

This morning on the bus, a man in front of me was browsing a catalog. At the top of one page, the heading was Fine Gifts of the Highest Quality. Under that "category" was a picture of an owl decoy. And, even better, it was 30% off! Woohoo!

An owl decoy is a fine gift? That must be some pretty special plastic. ("Merry Christmas, darling - here's a plastic owl to scare away pigeons from pooping on the porch.")

At least it made me laugh on the way to work. That doesn't happen very often when taking public transportation. :-)

***Edited to add: Speaking of gifts, does anyone have any suggestions for baptism gifts? We're going to the baptism of our friends' twins this weekend, and I don't know if there is a particular kind of gift that's expected. The family is Catholic. Any ideas?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Great day

Today was a perfect example of why I starting taking every other Thursday off from work over a year ago. R and I had the best day together. We spent the morning lounging in our pajamas, drawing silly pictures and "doing crafts," and then R wrote his first book. He told me the story, I wrote it down, and he illustrated it. I would share it with you, but it ended up quickly diving into potty humor so I think I'll keep it to myself. The title is safe, though: "The Boy and His Friend, the Trash." :-)

Then, R's friend's mom called to figure out the details for our usual Thursday playdate. It was pretty cold today, so we decided to just hang out at their house because it is HUGE. Lots of room for two energetic four-year-olds. The boys played really nicely together, and the moms actually got to SIT and TALK for nearly the entire time. Amazing! It's been so nice getting to know this mom. I like her a lot, and her boys (ages 5 and 4) are really good kids. We made plans to all go to Edaville Railroad on Christmas Eve together.

After our visit (R and I both didn't want to leave), I took R to get a haircut. He was an absolute gem. Long gone are the days when he would cry during the entire ordeal and wriggle and squirm so that his head was nowhere near the stylist's scissors. He barely flinched today. And, he looks pretty darn handsome. Not that he doesn't always, but he's less shaggy-looking now.

Next we met up with more friends at a neighborhood playground. We didn't stay very long, though, because it was COLD. We headed back to our friends' house (these friends also have a huge house) for hot cocoa with marshmallows and lots of play time for the boys. Our families are going to be celebrating Thanksgiving together this year, so my friend and I made lots of plans about who is going to cook what, how we'll keep the kids entertained all day, etc. The boys played with a marble maze, trains, and R's friend Z's new Evil Knievel stunt motorcycle toy, which was very, very LOUD. R was very proud, too, that he got to try out Z's rollerblades (in the living room on the rug, while wearing a helmet).

Finally, we headed home to meet A and grab some dinner out. On the way home, R fell asleep in the car and A carried him into the house, snuggled into his shoulder.

What a great day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

So cute and so profound

This morning, I was going through my daily struggle with R in which he begs me not to take a shower because it means I'll be leaving soon for work. As I slowly pried him off me after some snuggle time on the couch, he announced, "Mommy, I wish I could tie an anchor to you!"

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's okay

The point of my post yesterday was supposed to be a happy one - that God was still helping me and speaking to me and giving me what I needed (a church home! friends who follow Jesus!) even though I wasn't being very faithful to him at the time. I think maybe I didn't stress that part enough. Unfortunately, my writing often reflects my tendency to focus on the negative. :-(

Anywho, I'm pretty sure that God hasn't been asking me to seek him at the expense of my own sanity and of time with my family. When I listed all the things I've been trying to do to get closer to him, it sounded ridiculous when I went back and read it! I think God wants me to seek him simply and wholeheartedly. I do think it's important for me to be part of a church and to spend time with other Christians because I tend toward doing things alone due to my social awkwardness, and that isn't good for me. But I don't think God wants me to feel overwhelmed and stressed in my search for him. He's probably saying, "I never asked you to do all these things all at once, you silly girl! Here's where I want you to focus right now ..." So, I'm asking him for help in finding the right balance. :-)

Huh. I was just thinking about something else that happened last week: A and I were working late one night on a design project for work, and I was flipping out because I was tired, stressed out, and felt hopeless about our ability to finish the project in time for my presentation the next morning. I had to rely on A to do most of the work, and that was driving me nuts. I wanted to do it myself, my way, and on my time line - even though A is the designer. I got angry at A and yelled at him. But A knows me so well and is so patient. He was just quiet and let me rant until I calmed down and realized how ridiculous I was being. Then, I apologized to A, he threw his arm around me, we made up, and then we started to work together.

This is exactly how I think God deal with me sometimes. He listens while I flip out and get impatient and waits while I attempt to do things myself. When I finally come to my senses and let him lead, he kisses the top of my head, throws his arm around me, and makes things happen. He's pretty wonderful.

And, by the way, so is A. :-)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Where to begin? Oh yes - I am a big jerk

I've been pretty crabby the last few days. I've been feeling overwhelmed by everything - work, family, and even God. I've been struggling with how to juggle and balance my life, and I admit that I got frustrated with God because it feels like trying to keep up my faith is taking its toll on me and taking away from my precious time with R and A. For the last few weeks, I've been going to a new church, going to a church community group, trying to find more time to pray (because prayer has been the focus of our community group and the sermons on Sunday), haphazardly doing a Beth Moore study, listening to a Joyce Meyer audio series on changing your personality, and trying to serve more at church when I can, although there are many, many ways that I would like to serve (e.g., cooking for the homeless ministry) that I know I just cannot possibly do with my schedule (and, of course, I feel badly about that). And, with all of this (which now seems ridiculous to me), I've felt further away from God than I was before.

On top of that, an issue that I've been struggling with for a couple of years reared its head again. Basically, I want another baby and A doesn't. It's complicated, and A certainly has valid reasons for how he feels. I've prayed and prayed about it - that either A's heart would be moved or that the desire would be lessened in me. And, at times it seems like there has been progress in one or both areas, but then it'll all come up again and make me upset. Yesterday, A said some things that weren't very hopeful from my point of view and then to top it all off, Pampers somehow got me on their expectant mother list and sent me a flingin-flangin' free newborn diaper in the mail. Oh, gee, thanks a lot! So now I've got this stupid teeny tiny diaper on my coffee table that is making me all weepy. Gah!

Anyway, all of that helps explain my frame of mind when I woke up this morning. I really didn't want to go to church. I starting whining in my head about having to go to church by myself. And, I started questioning whether I'm really supposed to be going to this church in the first place. It doesn't really feel like home yet, although I have met some wonderful people. I still just feel alone there.

Today, I think God was a little sick of my complaining. When I was listing in my head the reasons why I didn't want to go to church today, the messages I got back were: "That's not my problem" and "Get your butt to church, woman!"

So I did. And, of course, God was wonderful to me in spite of my miserable whining and jerkitude. I walked in, said hi to a couple of people, and sat down by myself. Within a minute, though, I was surrounded by people from my community group. On either side of me were friendly faces, and I finally felt like part of the church family. It was amazing. Then, the pastor's sermon had so many moments for me where I just thought, "YES! YES! YES" because he was confirming and answering for me several issues where I've disagreed in the past with other churches' approaches. And, I cried because I realized that God was telling me I was home - and because I was so humbled that the God of the universe would answer me so lovingly and directly even when I was grumbling and being a complete weenie.

[Another cool thing? God, in His usual way, is a great multi-tasker. He led me to share my experience at church this morning with A when I got home, and A was genuinely excited for me. Tonight, when A and R and I were talking about what a great day we had - filled with time to play together, a visit with friends, time outside - A made a point to include my time at church as part of that.]

Thursday, November 13, 2008

What I did last night

Last night, R and I had fun building a Hot Wheels track and then sending cars down it into a pile of tiny automotive carnage. The track goes from our living room armchair, down through R's Lego car wash, through two loops, and into a cardboard box - although the bigger cars never made it through the second loop. I love this stuff! For some reason, when I dreamed about becoming a mom, designing car tracks and train tracks and shooting off model rockets and playing with Legos didn't enter my imagination. But I love it because it forces me to be creative, plus it's just so much fun to play like a kid again.

I had a video of R and me playing with the track, but it was still uploading after 2 HOURS, so I gave up. But here are some still photos.

Here is the entrance to the track, atop our heavenly squishy armchair.

R made use of his car wash that he and A built together two weeks ago with Legos. I had the brilliant idea to put it on top of R's kitchen stool to create an incline so that the cars could make it through the next stage: the corkscrew loops. Always thinking I am. (LOL. Wow - I have turned into Yoda Mommy.)

Here are the double loops and the pile of cars who, sadly, didn't make it. Actually, the real pile-up occurred at the base of the first loop, but this is what things looked like this morning. Note that R also sent two trains down the track. He experimented with many different vehicles, some of which smashed the smithereens out of the car wash and required Mommy to do some speedy Lego repairs. :-)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Thankful Tuesday

I woke up this morning with a pounding headache, sore throat, clogged sinuses, and achiness. So I'm home in bed and actually having quite a nice day in spite of feeling yucky. I had breakfast with A and R, took a long nap, and now I'm snug under the covers with a cup of hot tea, a purring cat on my legs, and the house to myself. (A and R went to Costco.) Best of all, I found out this morning that my sister Ericka is getting married next month! That was a wonderful surprise. Woohoo!

Yesterday was a great day, too. I woke up early and realized that if I didn't get my butt out of bed, I wasn't going to be able to get everything done that I needed to. So I got up, started a beef stew in the crockpot, fed R a real breakfast of scrambled eggs (vs. the cereal or bagel or piece of fruit we usually have time for), drove A to the subway, got R to school on time and successfully (i.e., no tears or whining - in fact, I barely got a goodbye wave because he was so happy to be there), came home and showered, started a load of laundry, had two conference calls, met a new friend for lunch, did more work and more laundry, washed the dishes, vacuumed, picked up R from school, read stories with R for half an hour, picked up A from the subway, straightened up the house, had friends over for dinner, snuggled with the friends' babies, put on my pajamas, and collapsed on the couch. Whew!

I'm so thankful for days like that. Sunday was completely the opposite, but still wonderful. I went to church and then A and R and I spent the rest of the day playing and relaxing. We had no errands to run, no plans. I kept thinking it was like a real Sabbath day. Although, technically, R and I worked by assembling a marble maze together. And, A worked by whipping up a batch of chocolate truffle frosting for my Dad's leftover chocolate cake. (Dad - we ate one layer, then froze the other. Two times the fun!)

The other "thing" I'm thankful for is more subtle. On Sunday morning, our church small group was responsible for the refreshments, collecting the offering, etc. I was one of the greeters. Later, as I sat listening to the sermon, it hit me how amazing that was. Being a greeter probably isn't a big deal to most people, but to me it was huge. It was another example of the amazing work that God has been doing in my life, how He's been pushing me outside my comfort zone and helping me to get over my social anxiety. I thought of so many examples over the past year where He's been at work: I gave a speech at our company's awards ceremony last Christmas to honor one of my co-workers, I've delivered a number of presentations to my company's management team, I've made new friends, I went to a new church and to the small group alone, etc. To an outside observer, I'm sure none of those things are very momentous. But they are to me. And, I'm so thankful for each one of them and to God for working in me even when it's so subtle that I don't notice it at the time. I think my Guideposts devotion book calls them "Divine Surprises." And, that's exactly what they are. :-)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Week in pictures

R's drawing of my BlackBerry. The fact that he wanted to draw it at all makes me think I need to put it away more. :-(

R checking out his loot on Halloween night. At the time, this looked like way too much candy, but now it doesn't look too bad to me. Maybe it's because I just came off a nine-week fast from chocolate!

We had our last rocket day of the year last Saturday. This is A setting up.

R's newest thing: showing how strong he is. Here he's about to pick up his friend Z. He also tries to pick me up. I let him believe that he can. ;-)

One of our rockets takes off. The arrow is pointing to the bottom fins. Unfortunately, we lost this one somewhere in the field!

A and R head off into the harvested corn field to look for one of our rockets. They found that one.

This was R's debut using his own shopping cart. I think we'll wait another year or so before we let him try again. There were several people who left the grocery store with bruises on their shins that day.

Pictures of sunsets never come out the way they looked in real life, but I still couldn't resist. This was the view from my bedroom window.

R at the playground after running around like crazy with his friends. I love his rosy cheeks and that silly way he contorts his face when he smiles.

Finally, here's a picture from my wedding day that I promised last week.

That's us in front of the cathedral in Jackson Square. See the little kids with their pumpkins in the background? At the time, this was the most dressed-up I had ever seen A. I cracked up when he got dressed that morning because I had never seen him wear anything but jeans and t-shirts. He looked very handsome. :-)

It's been such a rollercoaster week, with the sadness of the layoffs at work, the jubilation of the election results, and then I had a couple of cranky days with R that were not his fault. I skipped my church group last night to try to make it up to him - plus, he had just had his flu shot (NOT the mist - boo!), so he was a little sad and sore. We played a board game together as a family and then had family story time (usually, A and I take turns). That was lovely. Sometimes I just need time like that to reground and re-center myself.

I hope you all have a fun and relaxing weekend!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

This changes everything

I have hope again! Yesterday was the most amazing, wonderful time I've ever experienced as an American. I am so proud to have been part of making history.

It's very easy to become complacent about politics. Studying political science in college was the most depressing thing - understanding all the crap that goes on behind the scenes made me feel that my votes were practically meaningless. And, although I vote in every election - large and small, I've always had that feeling in the back of my mind. The election in 2004 got me excited again, but mostly out of desperation. And, I felt physically ill for days after how that one turned out.

But this election. I've been thrilled and so very hopeful for the possibility of what we could do, for how we could get people who never vote excited about voting, and for how the United States could repair itself, its reputation, and its people.

I was choking back the tears last night until the cameras focused in on Jesse Jackson. That was it for my composure. I can't even begin to imagine what this must mean for him and for so many others who worked and suffered and stood up during the Civil Rights era. They all made this day possible.

I'm praying for President Elect Obama. He has a huge job ahead of him and the expectations are so high. I'm praying that he'll seek God's help and guidance in his work and that he'll be able to implement the change he's been talking about. We sure do need it.

But today I just want to keep feeling the joy of last night!

Monday, November 3, 2008


Today was a bad, bad day. We had to lay off several people at my company, including everyone in one of the departments I manage and love. Those three people are really talented, special, and fun, and one of them was a longtime dear friend. I feel numb and dead inside right now. The decision was made above me, but I feel awful and guilty that I'm still here when they're not.

Please say a prayer for my now former co-workers today - that they'd find new and wonderful jobs quickly and that they'd be eased of worry and stress. Thank you.