Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Getting Ready For Another

I have had mixed emotions lately. Mostly normal pregnant woman emotions. I feel tired and huge and ready for this little baby to be here. I lay in bed at night and can hardly believe it is almost time. There is a sense of such a great relief coming to my body, but also a fear that the exhaustion of a newborn will not be much better. I worry about cleaning the apartment even though I know the baby will be in my arms at first and will not care about clutter. When I have down time I think through a to do list that that isn't much of "to dos" but more of milestones, "wrap Blanche's presents, celebrate Christmas, pack the diaper bag, wait for baby."

And then out of nowhere like a great surprise I remember I am going to be in love with this baby. If I can remain in love with a toddler that runs away from me at almost full term, that continues to pull the toilet paper off the roll, a toddler that dumps all the chalk out every single time and my back hurts just watching her… surely I can be in love with a new little baby. Even if it does feel new and scary. Even if that baby cries a lot in the night. I know there is bliss coming. New little baby bliss.

The closer I get to my due date the more I am seeing myself go into survival mode. I have my bursts of energy, when I brave the outside world with Blanche alone. But I am thankful for cold fronts. For an excuse to stay inside. The warmer days are keeping me strong. Today I opted for the library over the pond so there would be less walking and chasing. I walked down the stairs to the van with Blanche. She ran away while my hands were full and walked all the way back to the top of the stairs. I walked back up the stairs. I walked back down. I carried her half way to the car. I started to feel a little defeated.

There are moments when I think that this pregnancy has really been pretty easy. And then there are other moments when I know easy is not the word. Overall this baby and pregnancy has went smoothly. I am so much stronger this time. I know the daily struggle of getting out of bed to care for Blanche, and the seemingly endless tasks of the day are what keep me strong.

I am not as scared this time. Maybe with Blanche I wasn't scared but then after having her I was. All I knew with Blanche was that I wanted to nurse her. I wanted a home birth and to do things naturally but what I loved from my own mother's stories of motherhood was how she described nursing her babies. Everything else was more of a shock with Blanche. At least this time I know how I like to do things. I also know some of how I like to do things is because its what Blanche likes, meaning I may have to learn new tricks.

I am currently in the weird space between where it feels like it could be forever before I meet this baby, and in the same instant it feels so soon. Almost too soon. But I know eventually the walking becomes waddling which then becomes pushing because a baby just can't stay in forever.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Lights and Zoo Animals

I had these photos picked and uploaded the day after we were back from our trip. I truly love some of these photographs. At times it seems to hit me again that the more I take photos the more I like them. I start to be aware of beautiful lighting and moments. It is nice to have my phone available since I am pregnant with a toddler and can be limited on how much time I can spend taking a quality picture. I am pretty happy with shots I get on my phone at times, but there is nothing like the focus and look of a real camera. Well, at least with my version of the iPhone. Maybe I will be proved wrong one day.

I know though that just as I am a perfectionist with my photographs, I can be with what I write as well. I know my photographs and writing are not the best out there, but I am particular about what I publish as mine. For the last several days I haven't written anything with these pictures. I just didn't have the energy to write. And I didn't want to write fluff to go along with pictures I loved so much.

I am sure it probably annoys some people that you never know what my posts will be about. I can have pictures of one thing and write about something completely different. But I sort of love it. Because that is what my little blog is suppose to be. Little breaths of my life. Pictures of what it looks like to be me, and the words that describe what it is exactly that is going on inside of my head. I don't know if everyone else is like me, but most of the time there are two worlds. The world that I am walking through and the one that I am thinking through. I like to talk and make conversation, but that seems like the forced part of life to me. Without trying I am naturally people watching and seeing beautiful moments. I am thinking about life and wondering if other people feel the same. Maybe it is just me. Maybe it isn't. I know Andrew can probably see the connection of these two worlds better than anyone else.

Today we were riding in the car back from the grocery store. Lately Andrew and I have just been tired. The real world is hitting us hard in some ways. I think for me its mostly physically. I am just tired. I am ready to have this baby. I hate bending down to pick things up all day, but I have to. If I don't, I find corners that Blanche has hid in that has baby doll clothes, chalk, and half of a granola bar. Andrew on the other hand, I know he is weighed down with just how much it takes to truly provide for a family. I wish I could do more. But I know what we can do for each other is to be there for one another. Not to solve all of life's problems, but to remind each other that we will make it through. As we rode and Andrew talked about the heavy topics of health insurance and the budget. I replied, "I just wish there was a place we could go where there was plenty of wild game for you to hunt and trap. You could sell the furs for sugar and other things when needed and go into town just every few months."Andrew laughed a little taken off guard. I knew he knew I was dreaming about my little house on the prairie books.

"I mean, life was just so simple back then. It was very hard, but they didn't have so many bills. No internet or car insurance. Pa could just farm and hunt anywhere. Thats how they could pick up all they owned in the covered wagon and leave if they needed to."

These are the moments when my two worlds collide. I think I only let those closest to me see the crazy side of myself. I really am the artist sitting and wearing my big vintage flannel shirt proclaiming, "I just have all these ideas in my head."

And I do.

I think I like taking pictures because so much of the time I can stand back or get left behind. And then I can capture what it is I am thinking. Or seeing or feeling. And then I don't have to try and explain so hard how I felt. Like in the first picture, how relaxing and beautiful it was to be in the hotel room that first day with Blanche and Andrew. Blanche was asleep on the hotel bed and Andrew and I just talked. There weren't dishes to be done or laundry going in the background. He made me cheap hotel coffee and talked about philosophy and religion. I reclined with my pregnant belly and remembered why I loved him so much. And then after my warm shower Blanche woke up and was so happy to be in a new place. She looked out the window with her daddy down at the river below. And the light poured in so beautifully I had to take a picture.

I love watching Gigi and Showpa love on Blanche. They love her so much and it means so much to me. They love to watch her face light up just as much as I do. I think that was the purpose of the trip. To watch Blanche's face light up. Whether it was from a boat ride or Christmas lights or zoo animals. And it did.

I told Andrew's mom after we got back that our trip had been on the calendar for awhile and that now I was kind of sad it was over. Andrew always tells me I love the anticipation of things. Maybe sometimes as much as the actual event. Because before something actually happens you have all of the dreams and magic. And the dreams are minus the hard moments. The ones where Blanche has to sit in her stroller or sit down at the restaurant and doesn't want to. Or the moments when I have to constantly go to the bathroom and I waddling more than walking at times. Andrew's mom said she has the memories. And its true. Because in our memories we don't remember the hard moments as clearly when the overall trip was happy. Even less than a week later I can hardly recall anything that wasn't happy about our short little trip to San Antonio.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

The holidays. Two words, but it can mean so many different things. I would say the general vibe I get from the average American is a happy one when it comes to the end of the year celebrations. I know out there though there are people who really dislike them. I read somewhere once that depression rates spike during the holidays. A couple of days before Thanksgiving I was listening to NPR and they had etiquette specialists on talking about how people can deal with their families. I smiled and agreed with almost everything they said.

I have run the full circle of emotions when it comes to the holidays. I have been the child that loved so many parts of Thanksgiving at my Aunt Pams and have memories of having to wait in anticipation through church service one Christmas Sunday morning to open my presents when I got home. I have seen my parents filled with so much sadness during the holidays I secretly begged for no one to be happy. I have had a dear friend killed just a couple of weeks before Christmas. Sometimes when you can't get a Christmas tree because your mom is single and its just too hard to figure out how to get one, you wish no one had one.

People joke that they are just a Scrooge during the holidays, but I know deep down that there is pain during the holidays because for some it rubs in the sadness that is all around them. I feel for these people. I wish no one would be alone or even feel alone, especially during a time when everyone else is celebrating togetherness.

I use to hate when people in my church would tell me to be thankful for what I did have. Or to have "joy." I think all along what I wanted was for someone to admit that there was pain. And that the things in my life weren't right. It didn't seem fair. I don't think joy should be shoved down one's throat.

For whatever reason though, I am no longer in that stage of pain. There are still hard issues in my life, but growing up can help heal things when you choose to let it. Choosing to forgive and to love in your own adult life can be the most freeing thing one can do. Having my own child has also helped to move me forward. All of my family loves Blanche so dearly. In a way we are back to the magic of childhood once again.

I have also been so blessed with Andrew's family. I do wish all of our family, my side and his, could be close by. But as I have written before and even in my last post, I always feel comfortable and loved with Andrews family. This year I do think I am even more grateful for them. Andrew's mom and step-dad hosted Andrew's two sister's families and our own. I was not expected to really do anything the whole weekend. I kept offering or feeling guilty, but Andrew's mom assured me one year when I wasn't pregnant I could cook and clean more. This year the weekend really did feel like several days of thanksgiving. There were rough moments for sure; Blanche cried almost constantly for an hour and half after her nap on Thursday, and I had know idea why. But it was sweet to see Andrew's sisters try and make her smile and Becca try to find a show that would comfort Blanche. Big family functions can be overwhelming for a toddler or with a toddler. I am realizing that everyone, myself included, can try and make things easier and smoother. I have had experiences where people just sit and stare, but thankfully this wasn't what happened.

Andrew's mom taught toddlers for twenty years, so she was filled with good ideas for her grandkids. Their newer home here in Texas doesn't have huge trees with lots of leaves falling, but she did carry back a full trash bag of leaves from a neighbor's yard to her own during our walk. Blanche and Jonathan absolutely loved jumping and rolling around in the big pile of leaves. It was also comical to see Showpa racking leaves again and again with a treeless backyard. Gigi also had the idea to fill bowls  with beans and gave each child spoons and cars and let them go wild in the backyard. She's a walking pinterest board for toddlers.

As I have gotten older I have realized that even though there are harder seasons of life than others, that there are always hard aspects in life. And I know I am probably sounding cliche but I have found that it is easier to be thankful when I focus on the good. There are so many hurting people out there that have things that are so much harder that they have to work through. I didn't enjoy Andrew having to work Thanksgiving Day, but I am also thankful for how he is working so hard to provide for us. I may be uncomfortable during the end of this pregnancy, but I am so thankful there's a sweet little baby causing that discomfort. I know each day I can think like this as well.

Even today for example, I can get overwhelmed thinking about how tired I am and that Andrew is as well. We had only a few hours to go get groceries before he had to work the rest of the day until eleven tonight. Blanche was a little crazy and cried a lot at the store. But I know that I can be thankful there is money for food. And that even though life can be busy and nonstop at certain times, the Lord will meet me where I am. Andrew and I aren't huge believers in the American dream. Sometimes it does seem like thats what we are working so hard for, and maybe why I have even in the past not enjoyed the holidays and the American culture that goes along with it. But as I was riding in the car today, feeling big and pregnant and a little overwhelmed I could feel God telling me to take a moment at a time. To focus on the relationships around me and the love I can give, rather than the to do list. Sure, diapers have to be changed, laundry and grocery shopping has to be done, but I am realizing most of what truly matters is the attitude in which I do those things, not necessarily the list itself.

What can make the holidays so happy or sad is the relationships that they focus on. No one can control those around them, but each of us can control ourselves. We can choose to love. I have found the more I choose to love the more love I have received in return. And really, that is what I want to teach Blanche about Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sure there are fun traditions, but I want Blanche to know the love behind why we celebrate in this season.