Thursday, May 31, 2012

[Best of Year One] offense.

[originally published on April 4, 2012]

I have worked in Christian Higher Education for six years now. Admissions, specifically. Sometimes my job feels a bit dreary - like I'm just leaving robotic voicemails, explaining the same things over and over again, selling the school like it's a really nice used car. 

Today I spoke with the grandmother of a prospective student. Here was our conversation:
Grandma: "She wants to major in English, but I'm wondering if there are any jobs out there for people who major in English."
Me: "Well, I majored in English!"
Grandma: "Yes, but you have to work at the school. She wants to change the world."

Grandma - 1, My ego - 0.

Sometimes I feel like her implication is correct - I'm not changing the world. I'm sitting at a desk making calls. But when I really stop and think about what I do, I honestly feel great about it. Regent offers an excellent education and, for the most part, an awesome community. I am helping students achieve academic goals. I'm a resource for students who are making a life changing decision. And fairly often, I'm a listening ear for people who aren't ready for college yet but needed to share their story with someone - I've heard about troubles with other schools, divorce, lost family members, issues with churches, unexpected unemployment, the passing of kidney stones. I've had one person say that they saw an ad for our school on TV and they literally thought the person in the ad was talking to them and that's why they were calling. Even then, I'm nice, people. I'm freaking nice. For example, I wanted to tell that grandmother that her words were rude and hurtful, that I'm helping people like her granddaughter, that I'm contributing to putting my husband through grad school, that I'm in a job that's allowing me to be present with my daughter in her first year. My gut reaction was to try to make her feel as bad as she just made me feel, and with the aid of some colorful language. But instead:

Me: "Oh, I don't have to work here. I choose to!" (Pleasant chuckle.) "Do you have any other questions at this point?"

Are you living with purpose in your job? Can you see why God has you there? Has someone's Grandma tried to put you down recently? Do tell.

Part of my purpose.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

[Best of Year One] Happy Birthday, Big Mama Lobster!

[originally posted: WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 7, 2011]

For the past twelve-ish months, I have spent more time than ever before in my life meditating on my mother. Who she is, what role she plays in the world, what she means to me, how she does it ("it" being a whole heck of a lot of things). It's a bit selfish, I realize, to wait until you are becoming a mother yourself to really get around to fully appreciating who your mother is. Sorry for that.

Being in my last month of pregnancy in December, feeling like I had no way of imagining what the rest of my life was about to be like, I wracked my brain for images of my mom, mothering. As I held Sofia in my arms for the first time, my mother was right there, watching over me, preparing me for that moment, holding me in that moment (both in the immediate and most fullest senses). Taking Sofia home from the hospital and spending all hours of the day and night holding her, gazing at her in complete wonderment and awe, I almost ached with the desire to know what this had looked like when it was me and my mom - with the simultaneous desire that I would never lose the memory of those moments, and that there would be some way that Sofia might have the memories to hold onto, too. How many times this year have I asked myself, "how did my mom handle this situation? cross this bridge? prepare for this event? make this moment special? clean up this mess?" so. many. times.

Maybe it is both a blessing and a curse that we can't remember those first few years. Maybe it is grace for new parents that their kids don't hold onto all the "oops!" moments of children learning to be parents. Maybe it is part of this unique bubble of intense intimacy that parents, and especially mothers, share with their infants. There is no language, there is no formula, there is only one heart feeling another heart, meeting its needs, and through that, having her heart so fully filled. There is simply no relationship comparable. Part of the depth of the intimacy is that trying to put words to it already dilutes its power. And there is something about words and memory that is inextricable. So when I say that no one who is not a mother can quite know the bond I experience with Sofia in her first year, no one includes even Sofia herself, or me in the case of my own mother. But I've wondered. I've wondered this year what my mother felt, thought, looked like as she was holding little zero year old me.

Over Thanksgiving, my mom brought home videos. Years of footage converted to DVD. Most of our watching consisted of wading through my father's over-long video shots of leaves or chimneys or zooming in too tightly on people's faces or just nothing. (Oh the novelty of new toys in a boy's hands!)  But for brief seconds, important moments were actually captured. People no longer living, relationships no longer in tact, youth no longer in bloom, laughter long forgotten. We teased my dad, we analyzed, we laughed hysterically.

But the part that left me speechless while watching was that I finally got what I'd been longing for all year. There I was. First born. Spending my initial days in a house that no longer exists, in the arms of my beardless father and my gorgeous young mother. I got to see my mother soaking in that newborn intimacy, showing me off to her own mother, putting me to sleep, dressing me up in silly outfits, whispering sweet words. It is one thing to be the beneficiary of such love, it is another thing to come into the knowledge of that love. To know just how powerful, just how tender it truly is. To hear just what her voice sounded like as she comforted me in my complete vulnerability. To see her body language, her physical affection toward me in my most powerless state. To know just how central I once was to one person. To see how she enveloped herself around me, both protecting, nourishing, and introducing me to the world and its people around me for the very first time. My centrality to her in those early days, weeks, months, years, can only translate to her core position in my own identity today.

All my life I thought the command to "honor thy father and mother" was about obedience. If they tell you you have to do something, well then you have to do that thing, end of discussion. My parents and I have certainly had our conflicts, but for the majority, I feel like I've been a rather obedient kid. (parents insert cynical objections here) But recently I've started to rethink what it really means to honor someone. I think it might mean something more like making them proud through who you become. Naturally, obeying them would be a subset of that process, but honoring them goes beyond that, doesn't it?

The list of commands they can give me is necessarily finite. And maybe I can check those things off, more or less. But to give credit to all they did to invest in me? When you see videos like I saw, when you get a glimpse, when you get to witness a taste of the way she poured out her self, her soul, her heart, her body, her time, her life into bringing me into and up in the world, you realize there is something of infinity in that. 

I believe that is a love, whether the mother believes in God or not, that flows from and is powered by God, the ultimate infinite, the ultimate source, the ultimate power. She just allowed that love to flow through her. And if there is an infinity to that love she invested into me, how on earth do I give credit to that with my finite time on earth. How do I honor infinity with a finite life?

How do I make all that blood, sweat, and tears worth her while? Has it started to pay off yet? I sort of feel like bringing her Sofia must be at least a start. Those two sure delight one another! But I'm realizing how great the weight is, to live a life that reveals to others all that she toiled for me to be able to be. Because it is an intimate toil. It is hidden. Only she ever truly knew, and probably wasn't even fully aware of, all that she gave into me. It is up to me to reveal that, to bear the fruit of her labor. I will never be able to repay that debt. 

This is a great task, and I am glad that I have many more years to work towards the attempt. But in the mean time, today, on the day of her own birth, I want to say a happiest of birthdays to my mother, Dana, "Big Mama" and let her know from the bottom of my heart that I hope to begin - to attempt - to try to honor her and her love with my own life. 

I love you, Mom. 

Thank you for loving me.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

[Best of Year One] anything once: being asked if you're having twins

I have been asked three times now if I'm sure I'm not having twins. I realize these people are trying to be funny. They are not funny.

Ways I wish I could respond:
1. "I'm sure. But hey, are YOU having twins?"
2. "You realize that you're basically calling me fat, right? That doesn't seem very nice, does it?" 
3. "Oh, gosh. Maybe. I'm really not sure at this point. I mean, I've been to the doctor approximately 80,000 times now, and they haven't said anything yet, but I haven't really asked."
4. Bursting into tears. (Not because the comment actually makes me want to cry, but because I think it'd be entertaining to freak the person out.)
5. Kicking them in the shins. (Okay, I don't really want to do this. It would hurt my toes.)

Way I do respond:
1. Courtesy laugh. "Gosh, I hope not." Courtesy chuckle. Roll my eyes when they go away.

Jeff is also not having twins.
A lady in my office said today that the only good thing to say to a pregnant woman is "You look good." I said that the best thing to say to a pregnant woman is "Hello." You know, like she's still a normal person or something. But this is just one Lobster's opinion.

Monday, May 28, 2012

[Best of Year One] Cooking with Zoe: A Letter to my Love

[originally posted FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2012]

Dear Husband,

Standing with our backs facing each other, I wanted to tell you how much I missed this, cooking together. Me with stinging eyes, crying over onions, you with diligent hands, stirring the chicken. The scent of ginger and garlic, and the sound of music playing while we silently work. The brush of your arm against my arm as we swirl around each other in this culinary dance. Occasionally we turn and glance at each other, we steal a kiss. We share a taste of what we are creating together. 

We used to have this every night, this meal we prepared for each other. And I wanted to tell you how many together-things I missed doing with you since Sofia came. Lounging in bed in the morning, talking as long as we choose. Holding hands in a movie theater. Losing ourselves in the obsession of a video game until our eyes gave out or our stomachs cry too loud. Walking side by side under the stars, feeling open and free. 

But it didn't feel quite true. 

Missing things felt like declaring there was an unfilled hole, a vacancy in our love. And while it was a warm comfort to return to this act of communion after so many months past, the new things we do together bring me joy too, so much joy that I'm not ready to trade back just yet. 

You're still there when I cook, but now you are in and out of the kitchen, running before or behind our not-so-toddling-toddler. You are on the floor identifying objects of her  constant pointing. You are grasping her away from her incessant attempts to touch the oven. You are still present at my back, but she is in you arms, nuzzling her head under your chin. 

My mother taught me the art of breathing in relaxation in the kitchen, and you are teaching me the art of breathing out the joy of my family in the very same place. Breath in the wafting smells of spices and herbs, laugh out the the surprise of her new word so exuberantly expressed. Breath in the steam from a boiling pot, breath out a sigh of wonder at the tenderness with which she caresses your face. 

This is a life filled with abundance. This is sweet sustenance. This is love boiling over.

The time will come again when we cook together day in and day out. And that time will be a sweet return. And for today, I am ok that we have a new flavor of love to share. What we are creating together now, this life, it sure tastes good. 

In this special season of life, my love, I love you. Happy Valentine's Day.

your wife

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Sabbath Sunday

Today we had two breakfasts, just like hobbits. We had some simple cereal alone when she got up super early, then we had a nice big breakfast with friends who came over later. We went to church, came home for a nap, and spent a nice afternoon walking and playing in some lovely weather. We finished the day off at a barbecue with friends. All in all a lovely restful Sabbath. Thank you, God!

How have you rested in God's goodness today, Lobsters? 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Flashback! the twenty-first.

I have grown rather fond of our correspondence :)...Okay, your advice always helps at least a little and often times a lot. Also, you did make me laugh. How embarrassing...laughing out loud at an email in a room with other people.
Also, I want you to know that I got an email that was one of those survey thingys that tells you about the person...random questions. Well one of the questions was "who do you go to for advice?" and i wrote "Jesus, Zoe, and my mom". also, who are you comfortable crying to was on there and I wrote the same answer. I just love you a lot. That Manny kid is a lucky guy.
Love you!
Emily Grace Boyd
P.S. one of my friends has mansfield park so I'm waiting till she's done so i can read it for free. in my interlude, i read Emma and am now reading the DaVinci Code. It's pretty good so far.
This ends today's book corner.
-Your literary pyg
P to the Y-G ~~
You don't know what it means to me that you value my advice. I really honestly try my hardest to present all the possibilities but I’m afraid it doesn't necessarily come across as encouraging. I'm glad you still like me.
How did you like Emma? And what are you thinking about DaVinci Code? I've heard funny responses to that one.
He he -
Your faux literary z 

Friday, May 25, 2012

[Best of Year One] and now it's time for another good idea, bad idea.

[Originally posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012]

I've realized recently that maybe we're not always the most conventionally good parents in the world. Evidence!

Good idea: Letting baby chew on an appropriate baby toy, like Sophia the Giraffe from Babies R Us.
Bad idea: Letting baby chew on an appropriate dog toy, like a giant red rubber bone.
We do take it away as quickly as possible,
but this child has a future in ninjary.
Good idea: Using the stroller or car seat for storage when shopping.
Bad idea: Using the stroller or car seat for storage when shopping for wine. 
She's never been soused. So that's a point for us, right?
Good idea: Inviting baby to a party.
Bad idea: Keeping baby at a party well past her bedtime.
Come on, though. How freaking cute.
Good idea: Kissing baby sweetly on the cheek.
Bad idea: Trying to eat the baby. 
Good idea: Bringing baby along to a busy restaurant.
Bad idea: Spinning baby around on the giant Lazy Susan on the table at a busy restaurant.

The good news is that Miss Eiley is fiercely loved. And it seems like that can make all those bad ideas still pretty okay. 

Except eating her. I never condone eating babies.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

[Best of Year One] Nothing but the blood?

[originally posted: TUESDAY, APRIL 3, 2012]

This Lent, I've been reading Surprised by Hope by N. T. Wright. It is all about the resurrection. And it's helping me appreciate how liturgy can shape your spiritual identity and even health. Per this book's suggestion, I'm hoping to celebrate Easter not just on Easter Sunday. The idea is to extend the joy of the risen Christ beyond one day, in the same way that we've spent weeks preparing to remember His death through Lent. One way I am hoping to celebrate is to sing music as a family that celebrates the resurrection. I expected to be inundated with options due to the centrality of the risen Christ in Christian identity: 
". . . if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain." 1 Corinthians 15:17

And yet, it was surprisingly difficult to find any mention of the resurrection. As I combed through my collection, I would turn to a song that I expected to be perfect Easter music, and find no mention of Christ rising from the dead, instead, I found nothing but the blood. Lots of talk about His blood, death, and the cross, or about Christ's second coming. But there was this gap that leapt over the resurrection. Here are just a few examples of songs, which I love, that seemed Easter-y, but are missing this resurrection piece to give you a sense of what I mean:

Nothing but the blood of Jesus. That title makes the point for me.
Lord I lift your name on High. He dies for our sins, and ascends "to the sky"
My Jesus, I love thee And perhaps this is one example that makes my point most clearly. Verse one: I love you because you're my Savior. Verse two: I love you because you died for me. Verse three: I love you even when I suffer. Verse four: I'll love you in heaven. 

The cross, the death, the blood are all crucial components to the story, of course. And songs about these pieces are good to sing in church. Part of the point of Easter was that there had to be death in order for there to be life. And yes, I love Jesus for alot of good reasons, but what about "I love you because your resurrection is what gives me hope for my resurrection?" Paul tells us, up there in 1 Corinthians that this whole resurrection bit is pretty key. 

But since so many songs seem to keep jumping over this piece, it got me wondering. Is it easier to swallow the idea of a savior who came and laid down his life out of love for us than a Lord who rose from the grave? 

On the one side, He is humbled low, we can coo and aww at his cute baby-ness in the manger, we can even gasp and shed tears over the utter weakness of being subjected to humiliating crucifixion. I wonder if that part allows a sweet pity in us. Perhaps it is a pity that can inspire affection, appreciation, maybe enough guilt to get us to make some sacrifices for other people. But what if He really did rise from the dead? 

If He could conquer death, frankly, to me, He goes from cute, sweet, weepy, weak little baby Jesus to terrifying God that can not be stopped, even by death itself, like a monster in a movie that you keep shooting at but just keeps coming at you. I can secretly consider myself above the Jesus on the cross (though that is hard to admit and I didn't realize it until now), but once He rises from the grave, as NO ONE else has ever done before, then I have to take a knee, bow, cower before a mind boggling power. 

Perhaps even more uncomfortable than that is that if He rose from the dead and got right back to work as the first born of the new creation (He didn't spend the next 40 days until Pentecost just sitting around singing praise songs to His awesome self, waiting until He could get away again), and I choose to accept His gift of life in me, to become a co-heir of the Kingdom, that means I have to get to work too. I can't just accept His sacrificial love, I have to then allow all things in my life to be transformed into action, into love, into behavior that makes a contribution to the Kingdom of God. That's that "losing my life" He mentioned (Matthew 16:25), and it is hard. 

So Easter ceases to be a day to say, "Oh, well wasn't that nice" and instead a day to remember it is time to get to work, with both great gravity and great hope. It becomes an opportunity to look not just to the cross, but to the empty tomb. To turn to a man, mistaken for a gardener, and break into a sprint and shout from the roof tops that hope is here. Lent is my season of pruning, and Easter becomes a season [not just a day] of growth. A season of bursting forth from buds, sloughing off encasings, and stretching, reaching out towards the sun to radiate with beauty. It is hard and it is good. 

Seems to me that what makes the hard possible is precisely Christ's resurrection. In the sense that this act brought new life into our world, life that is capable of more; and in the sense that as we look to His rising, as we meditate on Easter Sunday, and all that it means, we have such great hope. Hope shifts paradigms.  Hope empowers. 

So in these last few days of Lent, can you help me out? Can you help me finish strong? I find music such an effective way to meditate on truth that needs to sink in deep. I need these songs that speak to the resurrection to be equipped to celebrate and live in an Easter season. So I need your help to find some good ones. So far, between my own searching and the help of a few friends and family, I have managed to find the songs listed (and lyrics linked to) below. 

O Glorious Day [thanks for this tip, Mom!]
Christ is Risen [thanks Thomas-Steele (nice to meet you by the way) and Mom!]
You’re Beautiful [thanks, Emily!]
Up From the Grave He Arose [thanks, Grammy!]

Will you accept this challenge to seek out the risen Christ? It's harder than you would think! Can you help me add some good songs to this list the explicitly celebrate His rising from the dead on Easter morning? Share this with a friend or your worship leader, see if they can help me out too. Ready, set, GO!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

[Best of Year One] Three Years Ago Today

[Originally posted: Tuesday, June 7, 2011]

Three years ago today, I woke up on my sister’s plush green couch and watched Dan in Real Life while enjoying donut holes and orange juice. I went to Happy Nails with some of my favorite friends and had a manicure and pedicure. I ate at Rubio’s for lunch – chicken taquitos, chips, a churro, a big Diet Coke. Delicious.

Three years ago today, I relaxed for a few hours in the nursery of my childhood church. I had my hair done and actually liked how it turned out, and I put on the biggest, whitest dress of my life. Various vital women came and went, providing joy and comfort with their brief visits.

Three years ago today, I stood in the back of the church feeling a little bit nervous, clutching Daddy’s arm. Friends gathered around me and prayed for my future. My boss snuck in late and whispered “hello” and I whispered “you’re fired” and we chuckled and I felt less nervous. My best guy friend told me “this is your moment” and smiled at me before opening the doors to the church.
Photo: Christine Lee Smith
Three years ago today, I walked down the aisle with a smile pasted to my face while the man I love smiled back and cried. A lot. We remembered Jesus and His example of perfect love with an animal cracker and juice communion. We promised forever, and we meant it, and we immediately told the world about our promise on Facebook.

Three years ago today, we threw the best party I’ve ever attended. We had In-n-Out, a photo booth, a jazz band, colorful homemade desserts, and dancing, dancing, dancing. We dressed up a homely courtyard, filling it with strings of light and people we love. And it was all perfect because I was with my husband, who I love even more today than I did three years ago.
Photo: Christine Lee Smith
Happy anniversary, Jeffrey Michael!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Snapshot Saturday #13: whose pants are these anyway?

People often ask me what type of photo equipment I use and recommend. This shot was taken with my dinky old cellphone. Ok - not a masterpiece, but what a quirky sight to run across while walking around the Cal State East Bay campus?! I wish I knew who to credit for this creative art piece - if anyone knows, do tell! Also - points to anyone who can identify the post title reference.

UPDATE (5/22/12): Thanks to an anonymous commenter who tipped me off to the name of the artist of this installation, Ali Sharifi. Here's an article about the piece. I love learning the the meaning and significance behind this, to know that it is not just quirky, it is also insightful and purposeful. Thanks commenter, and thanks Ali!

When has a piece of public art caught you off guard and brightened up your day?

[Best of Year One] Anything Once: Urban Camping Or “The night I became a gamer”

[originally posted: THURSDAY, JULY 28, 2011]

Lobsters, what are your deal breakers when it comes to finding a potential mate? Girls that are taller than you? Back hair? Having a last name for a first name? Here are another blogger's thoughts on that topic.

For me, it was “gamers,” as in guys who play video games. I was never allowed to play any growing up and cultivated a very strong disrespect for anyone who indulged in this pastime. It seemed a sign of laziness, violence, ADHD, etc. This cartoon might capture my sentiments:

cartoon borrowed from here 
As my husband and I returned from our perfect honeymoon, after our perfect wedding, I settled into my perfect marriage. I anticipated some challenges in having to live with a boy for the first time – strange smells, junk food, rowdier music. What I got instead was a video game console being set up and used for hours every day. Somehow, I had accidentally married a gamer.

It was a great shock to my system. For months, I tried to understand the draw of these games he was into, and I just couldn’t get into it. All the while, I heard a great deal of talk about the Nintendo Wii console coming out. After months of anticipation, the day came near. I learned that he was SO excited, but he didn't expect he would be able to get his hands on one for months after it came out. I figured the longer the delay, the better.

The night before the release, we made an evening run to Target, cause it's my favorite store so I go there whenever I can find an excuse. While I was walking the isles towards the item I needed, I saw the look in his eyes as we passed by the Wii display. Intrigue, excitement, longing, sadness. I couldn’t keep him from it. I just couldn’t. I turned to him and with resoluteness announced my plan:

“We’re paying for this item, we’re walking out of this store, and you’re getting in that line [that had already been forming for a couple of hours]. I am going to go home to get some chairs, blankets, food, and entertainment, and I’m coming back. You’re going to wait in that line, and I’m gonna be right there with you.”

The shock and disbelief and joy I got in reaction was worth a much greater sacrifice. I knew there was no going back, and I also knew I would do this one hundred times over. I think there has never been a greater act I have done for our marriage before or since that night.

And I did it. I camped outside of a Bay Area target, right by the freeway, all through the night until those doors opened at 8am. We hung out with the other game-boys, shared some of our snacks [most of them did not have wives bringing them food and hot chocolate]. I curled up for a snooze or two in the car, I drove the car in circles around the parking lot trying desperately to get warm [it was frickin’ freezing that night!].

And after an act of dedication like that, how could I not feel like I had been initiated into this new culture? Of course plenty of those guys were insanely nerdy, but they were also really nice and some were even pretty cool and down to earth. And if I was going to freeze my toes off for that game console, I was going to find a way to like it. Even if my devotion preceded my positive opinion, I had indeed been converted. I would even call myself a "gamer-advocate" today . . . but more on that in another post.

Anyone else camp out for anything you [or a loved one] cared a lot about? Anyone shocked that I did? When have you shown a tremendous act of devotion to a thing or person? So tremendous that it is even a bit embarrassing and it takes you about 6 years to confess that act publicly? 

Monday, May 21, 2012

[Best of Year One] Movie Review Monday #17: Newsies

[Originally Posted on: Monday, September 12, 2011]

Dear Newsies,

A couple months ago, I wrote a top ten list of my favorite films. I somehow forgot to include you in this list, and for that I am truly sorry. How could I forget a film that has been so good to me? A film that has an embarrassing dance solo by Christian Bale and humiliating open-armed singing by Bill Pullman. A film in which Doogie Howser's BFF tap dances on tables with one of the Mighty Duck's Bash Brothers and the guy from Big goes from nerd to hero in an hour flat. 

I remember the first time we met. I was nine years old, and my family went to the Westminster 10 movie theater. They handed out fake newspapers that had everything from behind the scenes tidbits to an article teaching one of the dances from the film. My cousins and I mocked the newspaper, but then sat down to watch you. And I was hooked. You were filled with catchy songs and hundreds of cute dancing boys, which is really all a nine year-old girl needs. Just ask High School Musical.

You saw me through many summers of camp, giving my friends and me a beautiful soundtrack to belt out while we washed myriad dishes, and also giving us one of the only films that was acceptable to view in the staff lounge that did not star singing produce. 

You blessed me with a brief crush on a kid with bright blue eyes and greasy hair, who somehow made the battle cry "Have no fear, Brooklyn is here" something to cheer instead of ridicule. You gave me Crutchy in all his nerdy, voice-cracking glory. You filled my heart with happiness and my ears with bad fake New York accents. 

And so I apologize for leaving you out of my top ten, Newsies. I have your soundtrack. I have your VHS. I have your DVD. May I also have your forgiveness?

With Love and Contrition,


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Sabbath Sunday

This Sunday, we took a very long, lovely walk together in some beautiful sunny weather. We transfered Sofia straight from the stroller to the carseat and went to church. We went out for lunch where Sofia charmed the waitresses and greeted all the other patrons. Then we came home for a big family nap. There remans some spaghetti in our future, and hopefully a good nights rest. A much needed restful Sunday! How have y'all been Sabbathing, Lobsters?

Sabbath Sunday

Today, I went to church, out to Panera with friends, and my sister bought me some new jeans from Plato's Closet. (Well, I guess she bought me some old jeans, but they're new to me.) It's nice to have jeans that actually fit - all my other pairs are too baggy and I have to pull them up every few minutes and sometimes I'm holding too much baby to pull them up and I get all plumbery. 

I plan to laze around the house the rest of the day since it's dreary outside.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Flashback! the twentieth.

i love your emails so much! You are so uplifting to me, except when i get sad because you are sad, but that's ok - that's not a bad thing. Ummm - ok, so much to respond to.
Our first dance will be nearness of you by norah jones - but of course - and i definitely have to talk to manny about the cotten eyed joe, what would one of our dances be without it? Awful is what! He's in charge of reception music - that's the one thing he asked to have dominion over, so i'm not complaining, also - i love his taste. It will be alot of jazz and d'angelo and soul and good old classic rock every now and then and probably at least one christmas song i can think of.  I don’t think I ever told you about our sleigh ride adventure.  The boys dedicated the Sleigh Ride song to us on their Christmas radio show so in appreciation of our recognition, we thought we’d spoil them a bit.  We had Kerby plant a walky-talky in Aaron’s desk and we got Aaron’s extra set of keys from his sister.  We filled the bed of his truck with blankets and pillows and brought thermoses of hot chocolate and apple sider.  We then called them from the other walky talky and put on our own “Zoe and Megan” radio show.  It concluded by giving them some hints to come down into the parking lot.  As they ran out in search of us, we put on a cd with the sleigh ride song on it on full blast on Aaron’s stereo and waited with expectant giggles.  They came down all grins and Manny even had a santa hat on his head J .  We enjoyed our hot drinks as people walked by and stared at us with irresistible curiosity.  Once our drinks were done and the boys were over the shock of our creativity, we actually went on a ride – we took turns driving/riding in the truck bed on our way down to one of the lower fields on campus.   We drove into the middle of the field and the four of us all snuggled up in the back and watched the stars from under the blankets.  Therefore, the sleigh ride song invokes quite romantic memories for us and would be strangely appropriate at our wedding. Then after all the dance party madness, Manny and i will take off for our honeymoon - yikes!
Oo - work calls - must continue email in a few.
Manny is forever the most complicated mystery to me.  And while I can’t even begin to attempt to understand him fully, I’m constantly learning him and its an ongoing revelation of why I need him so much. Our worlds provide quite the culture shock for each other.  But in delving into them and talking to each other about what we experience there, we’re slowly coming to understand those foreign worlds and how it feels to tread on them with the pressure of acclimating ourselves to them for the sake of our love. 
Love love love,
Zoe faith 

Friday, May 18, 2012

[Best of Year One] Dear Sofia, Happy Birthday

[originally posted: WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4, 2012]

Dear Sofia,

Today is your very first birthday. Today, you are one year old. It feels like a life time since I met you for the first time, and it has been, it has been your entire life.

I feel like I can no longer call you my "baby girl" because you are not very much of a baby anymore. You feed yourself, you walk, and you babble all day long. You are just a little person, investigating the world right along side us. I wanted to be your mommy for years and years, but I honestly had absolutely no idea how much fun we were going to have together. Unfortunately, you are not going to remember all this fun so well, so I wanted to tell you a few things in writing so you can look back on this some day when you can understand what I'm saying and hear the little secrets I want to tell you from day to day.

You are a woman who knows what she wants. You are filled with passion, desire, and determination. Your favorite color is blue-circle. This is a block you always pick out first from a box of multi-colored/shaped blocks. You take your blue circle all around the house, carrying it in your hand or in your mouth where-ever you go. But you do seem to have a preference for blue in general too.You love shoes and credit cards and jewelry. You are already making me nervous with all your girliness!

You love your little music box that plays different orchestra instruments. You seem to have taken a particular liking to the french horn. You love to dance along to a Christmas-snoopy doll that plays the theme song from peanuts. You bob up and down and clap and we can't get over your awesome, though simple, little dance moves. Whenever you hear music of any sort, live or recorded, you start to smile and clap your hands. We love how much you love a good beat.

A couple of your favorite books are Mama, Baby, and other first words, Dr. Seus's ABC's (both of which Mama and Dada have memorized completely), I love you Stinky Face (which Mama and Dada are also fond of because you have been each of the characters at some point in this first year), Pat the Bunny (which you have totally mastered, and added your own actions, like snuggling and kissing Paul and Judy when you're feeling particularly kind). When we try to read your little bible stories to you, there is much screaming and shouting. Too many words, not enough pictures. We're hoping you'll grow into that one.

You LOVE drinking out of cups. Most of the liquid goes down your shirt, all over you tray, all over us, but you are a woman passionate about consuming liquids! You are a shockingly good eater, considering how horribly picky your parents were. You are usually willing to try anything Mama and Dada are eating. You go in waves, but on the good days, you down loads of yogurt, cereal, fruit, and oh how you do love to eat angel hair pasta with your hands! Oh the mess.

Lately, you've picked up this move where you tilt your little head and rest your temple on something - a stuffed animal, my chest, your food tray. It always makes Daddy and I say, "awww" and you love making us do that, so you make the gesture over and over. I have decided it means, "I love _fill in the blank object__" and I think it is the most adorable thing, even when the object is something like a TV remote.

When you get around new people, you are quiet and cautious at first, but soon, you warm up and make friends fast. You are trusting and quick to have a new person take you for a walk by the hand. With lots of new people you lead people to believe you don't have much to say, but in more intimate company, you have so much to contribute to the conversation.

Right now, you think you can talk. Really, you only have "Mama" and "Dada" down, maybe a few other real words pop up here and there. I swear I've heard you say "all done," "water," "turtle," "Hi, Dada," and once the sentence, "good Jesus, all done." My favorite is your new fixation on the word, "wow," we are hearing that one constantly lately! You have such wonder and curiosity about all things beautiful and fascinating and you help me to step back and appreciate so many things I would have otherwise taken for granted. You babble and babble and babble. Sometimes you cause yourself distress, and furrow your brows, and sometimes you crack yourself up and just laugh and laugh, and I can't help but laugh along, even though I don't get your joke. When you grow up, will you please tell us what you were saying all this time? I'm recording a few minutes of it so you can have it to reference.

I love how quick you are to laugh. I'm not sure if there's anything I love more about life right now than the opportunities to tickle you. I get my face all up in your neck and kiss and nuzzle your soft, warm, baby skin and you squeal with delight and I'm in Heaven. I get your closeness and your laugh all at once. You can't beg me to stop yet, so I just tickle you until I get worn out, and you just keep laughing and wriggling and we have so much fun.

You are no couch potato. While you adore TV remotes, you are really uninterested in TV. Sometimes Mama needs a little rest from all the fun, I'll turn on a kids program and hope to get a little breather while you watch, but you barely glance that way before your asking me to walk with you another lap to explore the house again. I keep trying to tell myself this is good and healthy.

There is one exception to the TV watching dislike. Sometimes, after nursing for a while in the afternoon, we put Pixar's "UP" on my phone, and we curl up and watch it together. You love it for the balloons and dogs, and I love it for the snuggle. That's the only time you are still in my arms and not in the process of going to sleep. These are some of the sweetest moments we've shared all year. Thank you, Steve Jobs, for rescuing this little animation company! RIP.

Sofia, we have recently started trying to provide an enhanced night-time routine for you. Instead of just putting you to bed, we now read Goodnight, Moon and then we say the Lords Prayer together as a family. You have mixed feelings about Goodnight, Moon, you alternate between yelling at it in anger and exclaiming with delight over the sight of the little mouse, the moon, and the red balloon. But when we begin to pray, you clasp your little hands and weave your little fingers together and Dada and Mama well up with happy joy.

After you go to bed, I come downstairs and have to empty my pockets from all the treasures I've had to steal away from you that you've picked up in odd places and tried to put in your mouth? My pockets are getting more and more full and curious lately.

Sofia, did you know that we spend all day together, and then I put you to bed, and then Daddy and I go to bed ourselves. But before we can fall asleep, because we miss you so much, we spend a few minutes looking at pictures on my phone and giggling and gushing over how adorable you are and how much we love you. You are our goodnight story.

We love you so much, not-so-baby-girl Sofia. I can't believe we've had the blessing of being with you for a whole year already. I already love the little person you are becoming. I'm so proud of how hard you work to learn and grow. I can't believe I ever went through life without you. Happy First Birthday my little Muffin.