Valentine's Babies

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

FWD: Happy New Year!

So - let me just say . . . . Happy New Year. No, I didn't coin the phrase - but it is from me to you. And - this isn't a public, google-able, blog. So - if you have my blog address, it is because I actually want you to read this and/or vote on my poll or post a reply. If you are reading this, it is because I truly hope you have a beautiful day tomorrow (New Year's Day) - and a good idea of what will make your 2009 better than any other year of your life. Adam and Lily and I will be enjoying some down time tomorrow - as none of us have to punch a timeclock on the first day of the new year. (yeah!) We are really learning to cherish these fleeting days. I don't think we'll ever get them back once they are spent.
Happy January 1st. To you and yours.
-adam's wife

Sunday, December 28, 2008

2008 Holiday Season with Lily . . .

Better than we ever could've expected. Thanksgiving was awesome. We had a nice, short drive down to the mountains to spend time with some cherished family members that we seldom see. My brother and his wife and son. They are so very important to me and Adam. They treated us like we were weary travelers in need of a peaceful respite in their home. My brother had prepared the guestroom; my sister-in-law had bought sweet little gifts for Lily and she made an incredible Thanksgiving dinner; and my "all-grown-up" nephew gave up a weekend of college-life to spend the holiday with us. Just before we left town, my sister-in-law insisted on a trip to the local babystore so that she could be assured that baby Lily had that one item that all mothers of crawlers need . . . the (formerly banned) baby-walker. And what an investment. I've never quite been a fan of the "exersaucer". I mean - sure - it seems like it might be fun for five minutes, but a baby like ours needs to MOVE. She needs freedom, roaming room, and whole house domination. The walker was well received by Lily - and it is a big blessing for us.
And Christmas. We hosted a small "open house" on Christmas Eve, so that we wouldn't have to pick just one home for our family to visit. Many people came by to see Lily and to wish us well. Adam and I were just so glad to have such a nice evening with people who loved us and wanted to bless our home with their warmth at Christmas time. It was also such a blessing to us that people brought along their children to help us celebrate this sweet time of year.
Christmas morning brought even more bliss. Adam, Lily and I stayed in and cherished our day. We counted every blessing. We ate together, played together and laughed together. It was the best Christmas day we could have ever asked to have. And our Christmas evening was spent doing some light community service with some very close friends. We laughed a LOT together and had a great night.
I'm not sure what we'll do for New Year's Eve. I can't imagine it will be all too exciting - but I'm not so sure excitement is ranking at #1 on our family's bucket list these days. My hope is that we love each other - with every breath, every word and every step. And that we care for each other even more than we care for ourselves. I can't imagine that I'll always be true to that motto - but I hope that I will stay focused on that goal this holiday season.
Thanks to all of you who helped us celebrate the birth of our Savior with joy this Christmas. And to those of you who sent cards and photos and gifts. Thanks to our friends that are near and those who are far away - just for being friends to us. I can't begin to recount the much needed words of encouragement that have come from the lips of loyal friends this year. Adam and I have, sincerely, thanked God (over and over) for the overwhelming blessing of those who have stood as examples of Christ's Love in our lives. And finally, thank you to our families. All of you who have watched Adam and I grow up and become parents over the past year. What patience you must have for us. And such an apparent love and commitment to our lives.
We are counting our blessings as we enter into 2009.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Caring and Feeding and . . . . good advice

Recently, I found myself wondering how I would ever regain my mojo. Really. I'm not trying to be cute. It was a daily question I had. Each morning, I would wake up - hoping to find some part of my former self. And, each evening I would retire, missing the old, fun-loving, girl I used to be. Not only did I miss the old girl - but i missed her boyfriend too. That roughneck boxer that used to write poetry for her.
I just didn't know that it was going to be so much of a challenge for us to get back in the saddle of marriage and togetherness.
Now don't get me wrong. Nobody's complaining here. Adam and I are as happy as two fleas on a dog's tail when we think of our Lily. Adam is the most natural father that I've ever seen. Lily is so completely enamored with him. She is just more precious than either of us ever imagined. And, regularly, I find myself in amazement at how my love for her continually grows and changes.
But what about us? What about our marriage? The glue that will hold it all together.
That question was always at my heart's door. With every completed project at work, every smile I delivered at home, every joy in my walk of life - there was that steady beating question. What about me and Adam?
So - I tried asking people who I knew had been in my shoes. Mostly - I got nothing more than a half-hearted, commisery of some sort. Sympathy - but no answers. Alas - I turned to books. And, well - there were answers - but not real live examples that I could touch and feel. And then, when I was feeling quite alone in my maternal and matrimonial dilemma - I got an E-Mail.
Yes. My salvation came by way of Yahoo!

I had forgotten that, weeks ago, in a desperate moment, I had sent off a plea for help to a very close friend across the country. We'll call her Agnes*. Agnes is (by far) one of the most peaceable and tenderhearted women that I've ever had the benefit of knowing. She and her husband have two, little, well-mannered girls, two dogs and one bunny. Agnes is a strikingly beautiful, tall, blond, hardworking, stay-at-home-mom, who has also managed to obtain a college degree, while successfully homeschooling her girls, keeping a clutter-free home and handling all of the family finances. She is active in her community and she always seems to make time to bless others. Here is a snippet of our correspondence. Agnes has agreed to let me share it.
Plea (from me to her): so - i really wish i were living near you again so that we could do a rerun of that wifestudy. i was a pretty good wife before we had lily - and i'm trying to remember how to do it again, but it seems i didn't pay close enough attention when the book covered things on marriage with children! i feel like a fish out of water right now. not only has it taken me nearly 6 months to grow into the concept of being a mother - but i don't even know what to do with my husband these days. i know he has needs and all - but, at the end of the day i am all finished being touched. and - lately - i've been working nights while he works days, so we are both just tired when we see eachother (or passing the baby and delegating chores to eachother). at any rate - i'm going to buy a copy of The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands. i have read it two times - but those were both pre-baby. and, if you have any words of wisdom, PLEASE feel very free to advise me.
Wisdom (from her to me): What you and Adam are going through right now is very normal. I don't know a woman who hasn't experienced that. Whereas before the baby it was just you two and being spontaneous with each other was easy. Now it might take a little more planning. The best advise I can give you is to PLAN ahead. Pick a date night, get a babysitter (if only for a couple of hours), anticipate the romance all week, and FLIRT with your husband. Physically not much has changed for Adam since the baby's birth, but for you everything has. We women can't just change roles that quickly. That is why it is important to think about it, and anticipate it. And although you may not feel like it most of the time, do it anyway. The getting started part is a little more difficult, but it is what you both need.
I truly believe there is no mid-life crisis for men. They simply leave their wives after playing second fiddle to the children for 20 years and not getting what they need (respect, love, and sex) from their wives. The golden rule for marriage is to put your spouse first. Wake up each day asking what you can do for them to make the day better. If you both do that, life is so much sweeter. This is just a transitional phase in your marriage. You both will learn from this, grow, and be stronger together.

That advice was and is just what I needed. Frankness and encouragement - mixed with some hard truths about the risks associated with ignoring the needs of our husbands. I know, all too well, how purely selfish and hedonistic my "inner-princess" can be. I am (often) too busy, too tired, too self-absorbed to give a thought to the needs of my husband. Princess Amanda can almost always be found sitting up atop her velvety cushion - waiting for someone to come polish her nails. And when just one bit of polish is the wrong shade - watch out! There just might be tears involved. After all the diapers the princess has to change. The dishes the princess has to wash. And the food the princess must prepare.
After reading and re-reading the advice from my friend, I'm resolve to bringing back the old girlfriend my husband used to have - and retiring my princess gowns. I'm ready to be the wife and mother that Adam always hoped I'd be. I'm starting 2009 with no expectations of perfection from him and no illusions of entitlement for myself. I will vow to love, honor and obey him forever. Again. With my eyes open wide, my heart beating strong and baby Lily on my hip.

*Name has been changed to protect anonymity - and to respect the humble manner in which this advice was administered.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dude, Where's my Husband!?

The day we came home from the hospital with Lily, we were new people. I was the mom. He was the dad. We were confused and frightened and elated - but feeling all of these things separately.

Like many idealistic young couples, we thought we had a pretty good idea of what family life would be like: pregnancy, birth, homelife is bliss, we all go back to work and maintain a "balance" through perseverance. Adam and I had declined all offers of postpartum help, and opted to stay home with her for the first week together. My maternity leave provided me six weeks to stay home and learn to be a mother. Then, our plan was for Adam to work, full time, during the weekdays, while I would work one evening shift and two long shifts on Saturdays and Sundays. On paper, our plan was unbeatable. We could both be full-time, stay-at-home parents and wage earners. We wouldn't have to sacrifice anything! (Enter greed, pride, and a precious sort of ignorance).

After about 5 months of this plan (just about a week ago) we realized that our marriage had fallen and could not get up! We were both learning to be darn good [single] parents - but we had barely spoken to eachother since we came home from the hospital that day. We knew we loved eachother. We did nice things for eachother. Cleaned the house for eachother; washed enough diapers for eachother; made little "to go" meals for eachother; smiled at eachother while pulling out of the driveway. But that was it. Our married life had become little more than a cooperative effort to raise a baby.

Thankfully, we had to go out of town together - the three of us. So, I took the weekend off from work and we went. Once we got to our destination, and got settled, we tried talking. When that didn't work, we tried bickering. When that failed, we tried tolerating eachother. And, finally, we began to realize that our marriage wasn't bulletproof and water resistant. In fact, it had really taken a beating. And though, during this trip, we were about two miles from the pacific ocean, we didn't even make it to the pier. Every chance we had, we were working it out. Conspiring ways we would improve life at home. After the weekend, we boarded the train out of town with a new resolve and a more realistic expectation of how to handle life with our new addition. It may have taken us a few months - but we are getting it.

We have only one more week of this schedule. My boss has agreed to let me off on Sundays. I'll have more to accomplish in the evenings, but we will soon have a family day each week. A day where we all rest well and talk, play and love together. I'm hopeful that our marriage will bounce back - and that we'll have a stronger nest where we can raise our girl.

I'm also thankful that, even when I am arrogantly wrong - and undeserving, God still has grace for me and the strong embrace of love to carry me through life's lessons.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Five What?! (and a family update)

Yesterday, Miss Lily had her 4 month check-up. And, she had been very fussy. I had felt the sharp edge of a budding tooth last week. So, I was pretty sure she was having some discomfort from teething.

Enter the nurses . . . giggling at my girl; making sweet faces; talking in excited voices - all in vain. Miss Lily was in no mood for socialization. She was interested in one of three things: chewing on her fists, chewing on her mom, or closing her eyes tightly and screaming repeatedly. The doctor enters - sweetly cuddles Miss Lily (while being harshly chided in babyscream) - and begins the examination.

Here's where it gets interesting . . . . we open her tiny mouth. And we began to count. There were five teeth. Two front top teeth, two big bottom molars, and one bottom side tooth. There were also four bottom front teeth visible, but way beneath the gum surface. Seriously!?

Back when Lily was eight weeks old, my older sister (registered nurse and mother of three) told me she thought my kid was teething. I quickly told my sister (as if she were just hatched) that all the books say teething would begin around six months. The next week, my mom was over (mother of five), and said that she also suspected some teeth to come soon. A couple of weeks later, I mentioned the issue to some other mothers and they actually laughed at me; one mother even rolled her eyes - as if I were bragging. So - Adam & I decided to keep a bib on our girl, to catch the prevailing drool - and to keep relatively quiet about the issue. Neither of us are interested in making Miss Lily our "show pony." I certainly had no intention to brag about the alleged teeth.

Nevertheless, Grandma & Aunt Jen were correct. And there are now five giant teeth in her little bitty mouth. She isn't even sitting up without assistance yet and she's got a mouthful of pain. I may have mistaken teething pains for whining and fussiness for weeks now. How humbling.

I do hope to learn a lesson from the experience. I guess, mostly, I should always remember that every baby is different, every grown-up is different, every parent is different and every situation is different. I'm often full of assumptions and prejudices that rule my words. And many times, I have been the eye rolling mother. Maybe not in the same setting - or even in the same manner. But I've definitely discounted the thoughts and/or concerns of others for the social benefit of myself. Not once, but many times over the past three decades. And if there are ever words I would like to take back - they are the words that I've spoken in that closed-minded, self-righteous, eye rolling spirit. More and more, I'm learning to "set a guard over my lips." But it seems I have to re-learn this particular virtue quite often.

And without further introspective blather - here is the official family update :)

- Lily is teething and "talking" to her feet a lot, Adam is somehow even more handsome (and doing an absolute stellar job as new daddy), and I am working on the weekends and one evening a week (still as an artist for the same company), I'm also loving this season of marriage and new beginning with our Lily. We are all very thankful for God's everpresent grace in our lives.

Friday, September 12, 2008

A Tribute to my Lifemate . . .

I just want to put this in print . . . in cyberprint I guess.
My husband is working hard today - at a "J.O.B."
He goes there every morning.
He likes it well enough - but if he had the choice, he'd be doing something more fun.
He could be shopping, going for a long walk, updating his blog, playing with his newborn daughter or enjoying a cup of coffee on the front porch - but he chooses to go to work and pay the bills so that I can do those things.
Sure, the life of a "stay-at-home-mom" is full of work too. But it isn't a "J.O.B." I have the freedom to take Lily to the zoo and pay the bills tomorrow. I can catch a playdate with some other moms and put off the laundry another day or so.

I wouldn't have those luxuries were it not for my husband. He misses a lot of fun here at home each day. But do I ever hear one complaint? Do I ever have to drag him out of bed and kick him out the door to get him to work? Nope. In fact, he gets up and helps me in the mornings before work. As if he hasn't any other thing to do for himself.
I absolutely know that I don't deserve the blessings of the life that I have. And I don't know what I did to get this fantastic man to hang around - but I'm so thankful this morning, for all of it.

*Note* If you've accidentally thrown up a little while reading this exceedingly mushy post, I do apologize.

The Dry Erase Calendar . . .

This morning I was trying to figure out which day of the week my mother's birthday would be this year. I was in the kitchen, and, out of habit, glanced at our dry erase calendar on the side of the fridge.
About a year ago, I picked up this large, plain, dry erase board at Target. With a permanent marker, I made 35 equal squares on it, to represent the days of each month. It became The Family Calendar. And, for about a year, every month, I would take the calendar, fill in all the dates of the month, and write down all of the engagements we had for that month; indicate which bills needed to be mailed on what day; excitedly write in birthdays, special events, anniversaries and parties to attend. The calendar was color-coded. Adam's engagements were written in blue, mine in green, and joint engagements were in purple. Organization at it's best.
Well - this morning, when I glanced over to find the date, I was disappointed. The last calendar update was made on May 11th, 2008 and ended on June 14th. So very telling. It is as if time stopped for us in early June. And essentially, it did. There's a little pink entry for June 11th - it says "Lily Ann". That was the date we were told she might come. And that seemed to be the only date on our minds.
I want to get back on task. But I don't know if I'm ready to emerge from the time warp. I'm comfortably wrapped up in love for this new baby we have at home. She's still so new, so special . . . so absolutely perfect. I don't know if I want to jump back into the reality of everyday life so soon. I've been keeping up on the bills online, remembering most birthdays and other such events. None of us has missed any doctor's appointments or forgotten the weekend was coming. I suppose I'm a little apprehensive that if we move on with life as we once knew it, this newborn bliss will fade and disappear. That we'll be left with little more than a calendar, full of unimportant dates. It seems superstitious and silly, I know. But those were the feelings that hit me this morning as I contemplated updating our family calendar.
Even now, as I sit with her. She's just finished nursing and fallen asleep on my lap. It is 10am and since about six this morning, she's been smiling and playful. We've had another one of the best mornings of my whole life. She puts so much more meaning and purpose into my days. She's so much more important than "Thursday 50 cent Wing Night" or "Verizon bill due on the 20th". My priorities are (in order) Lily Ann, breathing, eating, sleeping . . . and so on. My husband makes the list - within the top five I'm sure. But, honestly, I'm at home, sustaining a life. Her every need is in my hands. I've never had this kind of responsibility before. I turn my head for a moment and she could fall off the changing table, choke on spittle or be smothered by fluffy bedding. Some things just have to fall off the list of priorities for now. And I'm willing to sacrifice the comfort of a planned month for the time being.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Top 10 Reasons to LOVE Life with a Newborn Lily . . .

so far, being a mom is the most lovely experience of my life. my sweet baby Lily is 11 weeks old and an absolute blessing to her father and me.

here are ten reasons we are loving life with her:

10. Smiles, coos and baby giggles.

9. Drool on the left shoulder is good luck.

8. She's still breathing - and we'll check to make sure in another five minutes.

7. Perfect excuse for cancelling plans.

6. Learn to do anything . . . one-handed.

5. She's so advanced!

4. Who needs "grown-up" conversation?

3. Projectile bodily functions . . . of all kinds.

2. More LOVE than we've ever known before.

1. No chance we'll oversleep!

Merry Christmas!

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