Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year's Eve Eve

That's right. That wasn't a typo. My question for you today is: what are you doing New Year's Eve Eve?

Five years ago, the Man and I teasingly enjoyed asking about the other's New Year's Eve plans. And five years ago, on New Year's Eve, we said vows before God and man, I got cake shoved up my nose, and we started a new life together. This year, on New Year's Eve Eve (well, technically New Year's Eve Eve Day--but now we're just getting confused), we're hoping to add two more lives to the world: a beautiful end to what has been, though challenging, a beautiful year.

So my question for you (other than, "Will you please pray for us?") is: what are you doing on the second to last day of the year? Will you be brave and challenge yourself alongside me to bring new life into the world? I don't know what that will look like for you: perhaps it is taking the time to be purposeful in a relationship that is dying, perhaps it is using your creativity to make something new and beautiful, perhaps it is slowing down to rest at the end of a busy season so that you have the strength to go on another day. But as the year is dying, would you join me in thinking about how we can create new life in the following days?

Thank you so much for all the encouragement, love, and support you have provided for our family over the last months. We are grateful for you. I hope to be back soon with photographic evidence that I didn't just spent the last 9 months eating an obscene amount of bean burritos. Happy New Year!

This was the beginning of today.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

One Last Reading Suggestion

So do you remember back in the day when this used to be a book blog? You know, when I would write about books and only occasionally the family or something of potential spiritual significance and things around here were literary and intellectual (oh, I made a joke!) and oh-so-inspiriational? Then the twins hijacked things and suddenly I'm posting massively pregnant selfies and we're all making bets about how long the twins will stay in (and how big my belly can get).

But today, in the spirit of the New Year, we're going to momentarily get back on track because I want to share with you one of my favourite books of all time.

Drumroll, please.

The Hawk and the Dove by Penelope Wilcock.

Admittedly, it's not so much just one book as an entire series, and I've only read the first three books (I've heard 4-6 are excellent as well), but if I had one set of books I would encourage you to read in 2014, I think this would be it. I read them growing up and asked my parents to give them to me this year for my birthday (because nothing screams 27 and pregnant like the monastic life), and they have made my December meditative, laughter filled, and encouraging. The story line revolves around a Benedictine monastery in the fourteenth century as a group of monks learns what it truly means to love each other and be loved by God in the midst of brokenness. I'll even admit to you that I finished rereading The Hawk and the Dove trilogy a couple weeks ago, and I still haven't moved it from my night stand to my bookshelf, because I don't want to forget what my soul learned from reading it.

This last month as I've prepared for the birth of the twins with my husband halfway around the world and my two boys showing obvious evidence of stress, I've needed the reminder that "love has no defences, and you only know it's love when it hurts." I've needed the Christ who wept in Gethsemane. I've needed the Lord of the wounded and broken. And that is the Jesus that Penelope Wilcock so gently and skillfully writes about. Pick up these books this year. You can read a chapter at a time, a story at a time, really, in between the busyness of your life, and maybe Christ will come to you as well and let you touch the wounds in his hands and side like he did for me and remind you that you are not alone.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Christmas Poem

Twas two days before Christmas
And beyond any doubt
Not a twin child was stirring
To try to come out.
The induction is scheduled
For Monday at eight
(unless things get rolling
on some other date).
So I'll open up presents
While heavy with twins
And hope after Christmas
Active labour begins.

Happy 38 weeks, everybody!

Once upon a time, I could see the bottom of my belly.
Once upon a time, there wasn't a bottom to my belly...
.
From all our family to yours: Merry Christmas. And from Tiny, of course: God bless us, everyone!

{Constant induction date changes are not purposefully mean on our part--just a Christmas present from us to everyone else so that you don't get bored waiting for the New Year to come in.}

Sunday, December 15, 2013

I'm Dreaming of a Non-Pregnant Christmas...

I hereby confess that I'm "so over" being pregnant, because at some point, well, we all need to call it a day. The stats tell us that the average twin pregnancy draws to a close during week 35. I'm closing out week 36. I've been stuck at 4cm for 2 weeks now with the twins in go position after 6 weeks of contractions, and this.is.getting.old. So let's talk about this without whining or dramatics.

Just kidding.

Let's have LOTS of fun whining and dramatics! Specially accompanied by bullet points! (Only because I love you.)

So here it is. My complete list entitled: How You Know You're Over Your Twinancy.
  • Your best friend in sarcasm makes a joke and you totally and completely miss it. For the record, yes, the full moon does affect the tides. And yes, pregnancy does take away any ability to use your brain.
  • You are stopped at Walmart by wide eyed gawkers who affirm that they have never before seen anyone that big. Ever! You ruefully agree.
  • There are more stretch marks than skin on your belly.
  • Your doctor looks surprised when you show up for your regularly scheduled appointment.
  • Your nephew maintains that "Aunt Marian's belly is TOO full!" and your oldest son likens you to a whale. I can't make this stuff up, people.
  • When you go for a stroll around the block, you hold hands with your one-year old and sometimes think he's walking too fast.
  • There is no way to sit without your legs being assaulted by your boxing twins. In fact, there's a decidedly misshapen lump at the bottom of your belly where Baby B's head is. It's awkward. Sitting modestly in public: also awkward.
  • You purposefully tempt fate by going out in public and hoping your water will break. Walmart! The post office! Church! Sit down restaurants! I've tried them all!
  • Your To Do Before the Twins Arrive List is completely finished, and the fact that there's nothing left to do is driving you crazy. You have consequently begun to drive everyone else crazy. At the very least, the Man has a nice Christmas package on the way complete with the most awesome craft Tiny has ever created in his very short and creative two years. I'm a little disappointed in myself for not taking a picture of it before I sent it halfway around the world.
  • Snuggling with your post-utero children involves a lot of, "Ouch! Please don't put your elbow in Mommy's belly!" and "No! Do not sit on the twins!" and "I love you so much but if you poke me in the stomach one more time…"
  • You're so uncomfortable and tired that you want the twins to arrive even though you know you're going to be uncomfortable and tired in all new ways once they finally do. It's not about logic. It's about the all new level of pregnancy crazy into which you have descended.
  • You find yourself doing squats in the bathroom right before bed because making yourself go into labour at 10 o'clock at night is a brilliant idea.
Anyway, I just thought I would share. I will also share the below picture of my massive, almost 37 weeks twin-nant belly. Hope it won't break your computer screen.

Friday, December 6, 2013

A Little Snowy Book Blog

Because today is a snow day, and because today begins the Mersmas celebrations (if you don't know what Mersmas is, I pity you), and because I'm getting complaints about my lack of blogging verbosity this month, here I am. And may I just say: seriously? I blogged every day in October. I really thought you guys would want a bit more of a break from me. Let's be honest, after six weeks of bed rest, I want a break from me.

Anyway, I'm not going to update you on any of my exciting bed rest stories today. I am, however, going to present a couple awesome books for your holiday reading and make one completely snarky comment about the books my children have been exposing me to while I'm stuck on bed rest and unable to protect myself from their literary demands. I will go ahead and be completely honest and say that I have not finished either of the books I am recommending to you, and I rarely suggest books I haven't finished, but since the twins could show up any day now, I didn't want to miss out on the chance to write about them on here. So if they turn out REALLY awful at the end (the books, not the twins), I will come back here and eat my words, but I seriously doubt that's going to happen because they are both by writers that I trust. To make sure my bases are covered, I'm including the original book trailers below so you can decide if you're interested regardless of my half-read conclusions.

First up, A Million Little Ways by Emily P. Freeman. I can't tell you how much I'm learning from this book. My emails to the Man are peppered with quotations from it, as I consider with Emily Freeman how to make art in my life. I will be completely honest and say that some of the things she writes about have hit a little close to home. There have been some teary moments for me reading her words as I've faced fears and confessed sin, and this has been good. And yes, before you tell me that I'm just hormonal, I will reiterate that the book is just that well-written and thought provoking. Otherwise why would I risk telling you about it when I haven't even finished it?



Second, I am thoroughly enjoying Ann Voskamp's Advent book, The Greatest Gift. My mom-in-love sent it for an early Mersmas present, and it is making my December so much more lovely. It takes only a few minutes of my day and brings me to a place of worship that keeps me focused on the true gift of Christmas: Christ. The boys helped me cut out the printable Jesse Tree ornaments that went along with it, and then we added some off center holes (hole punching is fun!) and some twine, and they're being added to our already wonderfully mismatched tree.


Lastly, and completely frivolously, I spend a lot of time reading train and tractor and airplane and car books. That's fine. It's one of those things about having boys (I am, however, pretty psyched about reading warrior princess books to the Baby Girl Twin). But let the record show: I do not approve of this  excessive personification of motorized vehicles. Machines do not have faces or feelings or the need to sleep. Sorry. I have no problem with talking, emoting animals, but there's a line, people, there's a line. And if I have to read one more book about a talking machine with feelings and bodily functions…well…it's not going to be pretty.

Anyway, a couple books to add to your Christmas wish list and a deep thought for all children's book writers out there to ponder. Merry Mersmas, everyone!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Para-Para-Paranoid!

The other day I confessed to my sister that I entertain myself during the day by playing the "What would I do if I went into labour right NOW!" game (also known as the "What would I do if my water broke right NOW!" game). It's terribly entertaining. I'm a self-confessed plan junkie, so you can understand why I get such a kick out of this. Besides which, there just aren't that many entertainment options while on bed rest, other than cheesy Christmas movies, of course.

Anyway, so I told Amanda that this is how I keep my thought life active and ward off the potential take over of pregnancy brain. She countered by saying that she frequently plays the "What would I do if I got attacked right NOW!" game. Essentially, these are the same thing. Having a baby (or two) is pretty much equivalent to being attacked. Once again, I realize that my sister and I are pretty much exactly the same person. Except for the short/tall thing, the single/married thing, the no kids/kids thing, the Africa/rural Oklahoma thing, and a few other…things.

At any rate, while the practical side of me hopes I make it to my scheduled c-section date, the part of me that loves a good story imagines me saying, "So, I was singing 'Father Abraham' with the boys before bed, and…" Because how funny would it be if my bed rest version of "Father Abraham" (which is quite an entertaining sight, let me tell you) was the final straw that broke the water's sack (or the camel's back)? Yes, I know. Not funny to anyone but me. And possibly my dad who passed on his penchant for punny jokes.

Other things that I am imagining these days: both twins coming out female and breaking that news to the Man over Skype, my belly literally splitting open, and how nice it's going to be to finally cut my toe nails and shave my legs (I have really great friends here, but there are limits…). Obviously some of these things are more likely to happen than others. As in: I'm pretty sure we can trust the results of the twenty gazillion ultrasounds I've had, and I'm pretty sure it's scientifically impossible for the twins to rip their way out of me (since, as far as I know, they are not half-vampire). Still, all this paranoia is keeping me thoroughly entertained!

And so I wanted to share.

I will also share this picture of me finishing out week 34 like a boss. And yes, on those rare occasions I do get out of the house, I'm getting some massive double takes.

Shirt courtesy of my former partner in pregnancy
who deserted me for a cute baby 4 weeks ago.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Choices

I'm sitting in bed listening to Christmas music while I eat homemade pumpkin bread (hand delivered by a grinning Littles--he also included half of a slightly mushed banana) and balancing a cup of coffee on my gigantic belly. I've been intending to come write for about a week now, but I will just be honest: I have been a whole gigantic mess of crabby lately.

I'm tired. I miss the Man this time of year. The aforementioned gigantic belly is extremely uncomfortable. I'm in those last lovely hormone fluctuations that make me so much fun to be around. And Tiny got bronchitis this week. All that to say that I'm spending all my strength these days trying and mostly failing to be nice to the wonderful family that's stuck in this house with me 24/7 (and then working up the energy to apologize), and there just hasn't been much left for superfluous things like answering the phone (sorry) or responding to non-husband sent emails (sorry) or blogging (probably no one needs an apology for this one although it's questionable whether anyone needed an apology for the other two).

The good news is that I have only about 3 more weeks to go before a scheduled c-section and then you won't be hearing from me because I'll be juggling twins--and not because bed rest sapped the survival skills out of me. The disappointing thing, for me at any rate, is that I spent most of Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays, being Queen of the Grump. It's not that I don't have a lot to be thankful for. In fact, I can give you a whole list of wonderful things that I'm rejoicing in--and I am grateful these days that joy and gratitude are choices--it's just that twinancy is exhausting, guys. And I prefer not to expose others to the unfortunate effects of that unless absolutely necessary.

But anyway, since I haven't had to expend any energy this morning by getting out of bed, I thought I would share with you a few things that have been fun in the midst of the mess.

On Sunday, it snowed! I had additional appreciation for this since it meant that the Fairy God-Aunt couldn't fly home until Wednesday. I was not sufficiently apologetic about this either, but we had a lovely day eating cinnamon raisin biscuits and playing in the snow. Well, everyone else played in the snow. I stood at the window and took pictures.

Even the Trig-dog went out. His Thanksgiving bandana kept him really warm.
The boys used socks for gloves because somehow
all their mittens disappeared between last winter and this one.
This was my failed attempt to lure them over to the window for a cute picture
And this was before Tiny realized how cold he was,
freaked out,
and came back in for snuggles with the live heater that is my pregnant belly.
Snow garden!
An improvement on our normal flower-less bed.

Then Sunday night, I had two lovely teenage girls come by to supervise my sister with the Christmas decorations.  I diligently sat on the couch while they unpacked our scraggly Christmas tree and strung lights.


The Man is hoping these two girls will follow us throughout his career
and repeat the process every Christmas.
Trigs got into the Christmas spirit
with his penguin tea cozy hat.
The nutcracker got hungry.
And yes, this is what the entire house would've looked like
if I'd let Amanda decorate the whole house on her own.

At any rate, there have been other things to rejoice over this week: a crystal clear Skype video with the Man on Thanksgiving, the little men helping fold laundry, Tiny having bronchitis but not pneumonia, fun moments with Amanda and other friends who have bopped in and out of the house, every day the twins have stayed put. You get the picture.

We choose thanksgiving even on the hard days, and that's the victory--not having everything go our way. And no, not even "feeling" great about how everything is going. So yes, I'm crabby, but I'm still grateful. Happy Thanksgiving, a little late, everyone.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

It Takes A Village (To Survive Bed Rest)

I spent the morning at the Frizz Salon, the only hair cuttery I know of where you can sit on your bed and have your hair trimmed by play dough tools, where your barbers stop mid cut to give you lots of hugs, and where your hair cut is followed by a lego back massage.

Incidentally, it's also the only salon where your barber might forget what he's doing and decide to accidentally whack your head with the hair dryer.

Really, I deserved a morning of pampering because yesterday the Trig-Dog decided to slip his collar while my sister was walking him and managed to escape off base. I spent the afternoon in agony, first imagining how I was going to tell my husband his beloved dog was lost forever or possibly run over by a car, and then, wallowing in embarrassment when two of the awesome cops the Man works with had to spend close to an hour chasing down Trigger on foot.

Good thing that the donut eating cop stereotype doesn't apply on base.

Also, it may be another year before I show my face at the squadron again. Just saying.

Part of this is because when Trigs got returned to me by the two sweaty and out of breath Security Forces guys I was still in my pajamas and rocking unwashed hair (day four of unwashed hair to boot). The other part is just unadulterated shame because this is not the first time that Trigger has single-handedly re-tasked half the squadron. Lastly, Trigger may or may not have eaten through 2 whole bags of the K9 units dog treats during the chase down process (he's sneaky), and I have no clue when I'll be able to get to the store to buy replacements.

Incidentally, if I had been chasing down that dog while carrying a weapon, the Man might have come home to a taxidermied Trigger.

Anyway, on a completely unrelated note, you should know that it's getting hard to type on my laptop these days. The belly…it just won't stop growing. I told a friend today that I actually wished the Man was a little bit of a fatty so that I could still fit in his shirts at this point, but no luck (see above comment about donut eating cops). Instead, I'm wearing maternity dresses as shirts.

The truth is that I watched my sister do a Jillian Michael's work out today (in fact, our whole family watched, especially Trigs who kept trying to see how close he could get to her and then accidentally got kicked in the face), and as she diligently mountain climbed and super-manned her way through twenty minutes, I realized that even if I wasn't on bed rest, I am completely incapable of doing any of those exercises now. Well, I might be able to pull off a plank, but my belly would be resting on the ground.

I will tell you what I did do though. On Saturday, I busted out of bed rest. Yes. I did. I'm a rebel. Well, technically, I got my doctor's permission and took with me all my medical records for this pregnancy (which could've thrown me into active labour because they're starting to rival War and Peace), but I drove an hour away and got family Christmas pictures taken! Sure, three other adults had to go with me in case I spontaneously decided to push out the twins halfway between here and there and I wasn't allowed to go into the Target with everyone afterwards, but I. Did. Something! Other than sit in bed and grow twins, that is.

That's where the title of this blog comes from though. It seriously is taking half the base to keep me sane and taken care of right now. It's a little ridiculous. Soon, though, I plan to enlist at least two of my friends to stand next to me fanning me with peacock feathers at all times because I'm not going to lie--the hot flashes this time are a beast.

And that is my rambling, completely nonsensical post for the week. The End.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Twinternational Nursery!

It's finally here!

The moment you've all been waiting for!

Take some time to head over to my friend Rachelle's blog to see the big nursery reveal! And after you leave her adoring comments, come back by and tell me what you think.

Big thanks to Rachelle for creating such a beautiful nursery for the twins--and for being so flexible with me when I bailed on her for bed rest. Thanks as well to the wonderful team who stepped up to help whether through painting (and dealing with my amateur painting skills), moving furniture, ironing bedding, or sewing (and resewing when I realized measuring is not in my skill set). I'm thinking now that it won't be so bad practically living in there for the first few months of the twins' lives...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Because I Love You Too Much To Let You Be Bored

I have another few posts in the works, but if you are pregnant with twins and stuck on bed rest, I couldn't leave you without some easily accessible and instantaneous reading material. And for those of you who aren't pregnant with twins and stuck on bed rest, I know the question at the fore front of your mind is how I'm surviving house arrest. Here is your answer in the form of multiple blog links. Go ahead, grab a cup of coffee (decaf, in my honour) and waste a few minutes reading with me.

First, because we all need a little awesomeness and creativity in our life, and because there is no such thing as too many dinosaurs, check this out: Dinovember!

Then, to hit on a few more serious notes, here is one of the best words of encouragement I've read in a while: "Everything isn’t a marker to make you feel behind or ahead; everything is a flame to make you see GOD is here," writes Ann Voskamp. And have I mentioned recently how much I love her? I just received her latest book in the mail, a collection of readings for Advent, and I hope I can update you on it towards the end of December, that is, if I survive the "advent" of the twins, haha. 

{Aside: I love being pregnant at Christmas. Seriously. I know I don't normally tell you things I love about my pregnancies, but there's just something about being pregnant at Christmas--even if I miss the entire Advent season because I'm on bed rest.}

While you're poking around on Ann Voskamp's blog, go read this challenge for Thanksgiving, because "What if gratitude always meant a question mark — asking how will you let your gratitude to Christ mark the world for Christ?"

And then, since we're prepping for the holiday season already, run by Jen Hatmaker's blog and join me in thinking about what we really want to be saying through our Christmas traditions. Special props to my oldest sister for sending me that way today: she knows how I enjoy a thought provoking read that still makes me laugh. This paragraph just had me howling:
When we saw the mountains of presents in front of our P.R.E.S.C.H.O.O.L.E.R.S. and watched them rip through boxes so fast, they had no idea what they even received, I caught Brandon's eye across the room and mouthed, "We were freaks!" Not to mention all this bounty was brought into a home burgeoning with loot already, so we had to get rid of a bunch of toys just to shoehorn in the new stuff. Kindly note that the recipients of all this commerce couldn't even wipe their own butts yet. 
Insane at best, sacrilegious at worst.
And then if you're wanting to explore some alternative giving options, bop on over to the Neverthirst website and check out what they're doing around the world. This is the company my not-so-big sister works for and you can read her personal (and absolutely insane) stories over on her blog, Dangdut. And really, this whole blog was just a giant lead up to tell you that she's coming to see me on Friday, and I am insanely excited about it (hence the italics and bolding), and I'm still mad at myself for forgetting to mention her in my last post, but at least it gave her plenty of fodder for snarky comments about her not-so-little sister.

Two more completely unrelated comments:

Aunt Beth is busy teaching my non-reading three year old how to do a word find and his gasp of excitement upon finding "yellow" helped me reconcile myself to the fact that when I asked him earlier if he would hate me if I did his word find, he actually said yes. I personally believe that telling a woman on bed rest that you won't share your word find puzzle is equivalent to stealing food from a pregnant woman. It should never be done if you value your life. Thankfully, I found a free word find app on my phone, and I may now survive until the babies arrive.

Today I realized that if I lived in the world of Harry Potter, my patronus would be a burping camel. I may never be the same again.

Anyway, happy reading and come back later for more self-mockery, some potentially deep thoughts, and new reading material (next time in book form).

Sunday, November 10, 2013

All This

This week, I was reminded of this brief story told by Charles Spurgeon. He writes,
I have heard of some good old woman in a cottage, who had nothing but a piece of bread and a little wafer, and lifting up her hands, she said, as a blessing, "What! all this, and Christ too?"
These words have been constantly in my mind the last few days.

On Tuesday, Tiny got a virus (or his two year molars decided to really put us through the wringer) and had fun exploding diapers and vomiting everywhere for a few days. We think we've finally turned the corner on things, and Aunt Beth hasn't had to change sheets in two whole days, but the super abundance of bodily fluids in our home has not helped with the cabin fever.

On Thursday, Littles lost it and I had to play the "let's call your daddy" card (or rather the "let's text Daddy, see if he's free and has a phone card, and then wait for him to get a good signal" card) for the first time this deployment. And have I mentioned recently enough how much I appreciate the Man? Because when I asked, he uncomplainingly left the gym, tracked down a phone card, and called to talk to his son and then his overly hormonal wife, and did not once make me feel like I should've been able to handle things on my own.

On Friday, the need to nest hit yet again. Have I mentioned on here recently enough how difficult it is to nest while on bed rest (that rhyme bothers me)? So, being a nerd, I engaged in intellectual nesting by reading Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg, which unfortunately only took about 24 hours before I started cheating on bed rest and conning Aunt Beth into ironing all the linens for the nursery/guest room. She loves me. And I am also now being bullied into resting more, even if that means busy work in bed.

Anyway, all week, I've been thinking about that story from Spurgeon, thinking also about how much of a mind game this is right now. The days are long, and I have a little too much time to think, and it's very easy to count the frustrations instead of the blessings. So, as the hours have passed, I've been trying to focus.

When Tiny throws up, I choose to say thank you that these stomach troubles occur when Aunt Beth is here to help with clean up, and as I say thank you, I remind myself that God has given me all this, and Christ too.

When Littles has a melt down, I choose to say thank you that I have an accessibly deployed husband who will take the time to be dad, and as I say thank you, I remind myself that God has given me all this, and Christ too.

When my antsy-ness is about to drive me mad, I choose to say thank you for the many people who have come to help me get the house and nursery in order (and for the ability to sit on the bed and pack and repack the hospital bag half a dozen times in a row), and as I say thank you, I remind myself that God has given me all this, and Christ too.

So, as I continue to choose my focus, I wanted to share a few moments of joy with you. These things that God has given me (and Christ too).


An early Christmas present from my in-laws, crocheted by the Man's grandmother years ago, I need this constant reminder to choose peace instead of anxiety. I hung it where I can see it literally all day long.


It looks like we've turned the corner on sick. It's fun to be able to give Tiny something that's not on the BRAT diet.


Snuggles with Aunt Beth and the Trig-Dog while looking for pictures of white lions, while I rejoice that for once my over-large belly isn't being sat on or poked by these little bundles of energy who don't grasp the concept that twinancy is uncomfortable.


There are few things I love more than yellow flowers in my house. The sweet friend who brought them by probably had no idea how these would cheer up my week.


Tomorrow is 32 weeks, and the twins are hanging tight. Yes, daily, hourly rejoicing in this. Also, does anyone else think my belly has shifted? Aunt Beth and I are placing bets.


Bribing myself to stay home from church with cookies and coffee. It's always the little things that get us through.


Stacks of books (read and unread), flower pot gifts for the twins (if anyone knows who sent these, please tell me, so I can send them a thank you note for the fun interruption to my week), and the constant reminder that I can choose in everything to give thanks.

All this, friends, and Christ too.

Happy Sunday. Thank you for being the Church to me when I cannot physically go to church these days--I can't tell you how that encourages my heart.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Bullet Posts Are My Favourite

Well, bullet posts and coffee and little boys setting up their own Easter egg hunt on a rainy day in November are all my favourite things. You know what's not my favourite though? Having autocorrect take the "u" out of all my Britishly spelled words.

  • I've turned into pregnant Bella from the Twilight series: my unborn children are sucking the life out of me. (This blog in no way promotes or encourages the reading and watching of poorly written vampire narratives: indulge at your own risk. Possible side effects include, but are not limited to, loss of brain cells, a fascination with glittery things, and the desire to emulate heroines who possess no sense of self-preservation.)
  • Crap-tractions: they aren't cramps and they aren't contractions, but they sure are crappy!
  • Benjamin Franklin's half baked ideas and two year molars are a really bad combination.
  • Things I love about bed rest: PHENOMENAL, cosmic laziness! (I'm channeling the genie from Aladdin here, obviously), endless reading time! (I'm four books down already this week and it's only Tuesday), the chance to be all caught up on correspondence (this is back-firing on the Man who now gets half a dozen emails from me in a day--I'm just verbose--he knew this when he married me), all the fun company and food that voluntarily comes my way, and the opportunity to see just how blessed and loved our family is. Bed rest = blessed.
  • Things I wish I could skip about bed rest: limited exposure to sunlight and fresh air (this makes me cranky), the inability to exercise out my emotions (this also makes me cranky), having to ask for help for everything (I realize this is good for me, but again, it makes me cranky), not being able to pick up Tiny (this makes him cranky), and the generally crankiness that constantly threatens to ensue. Bed rest = fighting the cranks.
  • My two partners in pregnancy both decided to go into labour and have their super cute baby boys this weekend. I feel just a smidge left behind. But they have both told me not to get any ideas. Still, I'm already missing the chance to send whiney pregnancy texts to them. Now they're all blissed out and sleep-deprived with their new babies and I'm still (thankfully) pregnant.
  • I think I may owe you guys a book post sometime in the near future. Anyone interested in this?
And I think that's all for now. I'm ready for lunch and nap time, the true exciting moments of my day.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Oh, Bed Rest

I know I said things were going to be a little quieter around here once my 31 Days series finished up, but I didn't really intend them to be this quiet. The truth is that I have turned into a hibernating winter bear. All I do is eat and sleep. The boys play with Aunt Beth or whoever has stolen them for the morning/afternoon, they come and snuggle and read with me at intervals throughout the day, and I help out with their bedtime and nap time routines, but other than that, the only thing I'm really doing is making a pot of coffee in the morning and growing the twins. Incidentally, this week I have two pineapples in there. (Psych, anyone?) I am also, occasionally, allowed to fold laundry.

I thought I would have hit cabin fever by now, but honestly, I am just so ridiculously tired. I'm not sure if it's the medication they put me on, the fact that I cut out my one cup of half caff last week, or that I can finally allow myself to be tired, but I am taking a morning and an afternoon nap and still going to sleep by ten. Who am I?

In the meantime, though, I'm discovering what incredible cooks I have for friends. And I'm kind of wishing every meal came with a recipe card attached (for when I finally start cooking again--that will happen one of these days, right?). My appetite, which tanked over the last four weeks or so, has returned full force, and I am taking advantage of the fact that our refrigerator runneth over.

While I'm sure all of this is just thrilling news to you, I do come with a bit of a teaser. My friend Rachelle has been hard at work on the nursery this week (nothing like a little pre-term labour to kick everyone into gear), and I think we may have a nursery reveal for you sometime this coming week. In the meantime, I will continue to beguile you with thrilling tales of Marian on Bed Rest. What more could you ask for?

One last thing that will absolutely blow your mind: Mavis Beacon would be terribly impressed by the increase in typing speed I'm exhibiting today just from catching up on email. Got to keep myself occupied, right? I mean, in between the multiple naps, of course.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

beauty{full}: the goal

I wanted to finish this series up by tying everything together with a neat little bow, but the truth is, I think I summed things up fairly nicely yesterday. In fact, my dad already preemptively congratulated me on my wrap up after yesterday's post, so maybe that's a sign that I should shut up and move on.

In that case, I'll just say this tonight: let's not miss out on the opportunity to look for beauty in our lives, not because it is something to be worshiped, but because true beauty should inevitably point us to what really matters in life. And that is always worthwhile.

Thank you, once again for sticking with me this month. I think November might be a little bit quieter around here, but who knows: I may need the distraction of blogging while becoming a permanent fixture on my couch. And again, if you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here.

Happy November!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

beauty{full}: the secret

It's our second to last day with this topic, and I think I've finally figured out the secret to seeing the beautiful in everything, yes, and even the secret to being full of beauty ourselves. The funny thing is that it was right in front of my face all along, but this morning as I lay awake in the still dark dawn, the pieces started coming together.

First, I was thinking again about my life verse that encourages me by saying:

Therefore, let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame and sat down at the right hand of God. Consider him, who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:2-3

Then, as I was scrolling through some stuff on my phone, I bumped back up against a verse I had saved from Song of Solomon that says, simply, "Yea, he is altogether lovely." Avoiding the fun arguments about how Song of Solomon shapes our theology, I will simply say that one of the interpretations likens the love between the Lover and the Beloved to the love between Christ and the Church, and I love the thought that Christ is the one who is "altogether lovely", or as other translations say, "desirable in every way."

These two verses were butting up against each other in my mind as I tried to get back to sleep, when I realized that what I've been writing about all month, boiled down into just a few simple words is that if we want to see beauty, we have to look for beauty, and if we want to be beautiful, we have to put beautiful things into our minds, our hearts, and our souls.

When I truly make the choice to fix my eyes on Christ, it keeps me from growing weary and losing heart because he is the one who is altogether lovely, the one wholly desirable, and he feeds my soul with beauty. Because he is the ultimate beauty, when I purpose to put Christ in, more Christ (and consequently, more beauty) comes flowing out. It's that simple.

The secret is really that. simple.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

beauty{full}: the unexpected

Today I got put on bed rest. This was unexpected to me. You know who did not find this unexpected? God. You know what else was not unexpected by Him? The incredible out pouring of love and service from the wonderful community He has placed us in. This has been beautiful. And I am thanking God for the opportunity to see once again how deeply loved our family is.

I'm going to keep this short because I'm tired and the medication they put me on makes me more than a little bit dizzy, but I'm home (which is beautiful) and the contractions are under control and not moving towards labour (which is beautiful) and I have more help right now than I know what to do with (which is beautiful) and I was able to keep in great contact with the Man all through this (and that too was beautiful).

I just wanted you to rejoice with me. Because as much as we celebrated reaching 30 weeks yesterday, I want to celebrate reaching 30 weeks and 1 day with both twins still inside and the ability to be at home with my little men.

Please forgive the many double negatives included in this post and the general poor writing. I blame the tiny little yellow pill they're making me swallow every six hours. And while blaming it, thanking God for the unexpected chance to take said pill and thereby keep the twins in for a few more weeks (six, hopefully).

Thank you for your prayers for our family, and for rejoicing with us in God's sovereignty, modern medicine, the instantaneous communication provided by technology, and the joy of being home.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Monday, October 28, 2013

beauty{full}: some house keeping and a quick thought

I'm here to interrupt your regularly scheduled blog post with a little bit of house keeping. I know this will throw you all for an extreme loop since you've been coming in droves to hear me ramble on existentially about beauty (kidding--my readership triples every time I write about the twins, so I'm well aware of what you're coming for). At any rate, a few little things that we need covered, and then I'll give you a quick thought on beauty at the end. And bonus: there will be pictures.

So, first off, celebrate with me: we've reached the 30 week mark! There is no turning back now! As if there was the possibility of turning back before...hmm... Seriously, though, it's pretty fun being in the home stretch, even though now my belly is so big I have to take my belly pictures in landscape:


It's a joke. Laugh a little. 

I have however, officially out grown every single maternity shirt I own and am now living solely in dresses (and one lovely bright-orange muumuu from Africa). Okay, I guess what I'm wearing right now is sort of tunic-ish, but, unless my memory fails me, there was a day (long ago) when I wore it with leggings, and I'm not of the tribe that believes leggings are an appropriate substitute for pants. In more fun pregnancy news, this is the first time my wedding rings have ever stayed on this long, which is proof that the twins really are taking every bit of nutrition from me.

Yesterday the boys dragged me (against my will) to the fall festival on base. And then made me stand in line forever (also against my will) so they could ride a horse. Here's my knight in shining armour. He gave a huge grin the second I put the camera down. Stinker. And yes, that child is fearless (even braving the massive bouncy-slide, though he required a little help getting to the top), but his ability to stay straight in a saddle is non-existent.


And here is the Little Man (literally), finally getting the gumption to ride the horse after spending the last two fall festivals just watching from the side lines. Seriously, all he did the last two years was sit and watch the horse. At any rate, I am unbelievably proud. I may have teared up a little. Shut up: I'm hormonal. Much like his brother, little dude kept accidentally attempting to ride the side of the horse instead of the back. What is it with my children? They obviously got their poor horsemanship skills from me. And for the inquiring minds desperate to know, Littles rode first; I'm just too lazy to reorder the pictures.


Also, just so credit is given where credit is due, I totally bloused Little's pants with rubber bands. And his pants are being held up by a file clip. That is ingenuity at its best, my friend. Also, are those kids cute or what? Even if the Little Man didn't have his eyes open the whole way.


Lastly, I'm nesting like a crazy woman right now. Which is hard to do when you're massively pregnant with twins, but I'm hoping to have some nursery progress to show you, sooner rather than later. I'm also  being good and writing out my birth plan, the boys' schedule (for whoever is with them), and my needs-to-happen-before-twins To Do list in case I go into labour early and someone else is finishing those last few things I haven't quite gotten to. The productivity level around here is sickening.

But to close you out with one beauty related thought, this morning I read Isaiah 61:10 which says, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lordmy soul shall exult in my God, for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

I find myself asking in response, "Am I truly allowing the Lord to clothe me in beauty or am I demanding my right to beautify myself in my own way?" Perhaps the ultimate Artist has a different plan for my beautification than I do. Can I trust him to know the specific details of the garments of salvation he has for me? Can I rejoice in him, even when he adorns me with different jewels than the ones I would've picked? Can I exult in him, when he has placed on my head what seems to me a maid's cap instead of a magnificent headdress?

Just thinking. In between everything else of course, the To Do lists and the mommying and the nesting and the growing of brains and lungs and hearts. And inviting you, as always, to think with me. And laugh with me. And occasionally laugh at me.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Sunday, October 27, 2013

beauty{full}: brave

I have always stuck out like a sore thumb. Tall and blonde in a small and wonderfully Asian culture, if I stepped out of the house, people were watching. In fact, once we moved to the kampung, I didn't even have to walk through my front door: a small alley ran right in front of our home, and my mom put up curtains so that we could eat our meals without being watched by a large contingent of children with their faces pressed up against our windows.

Then when we hit our first deployment, I was one of the first in our group of young military wives to go through one, and I sensed them watching me, waiting to see how I would do, how I would handle it--especially pregnant with our first child. No pressure...

Still, it has been nothing compared to these last few months. For the first time, probably, I have found myself to be a source of gossip. I don't mean bad gossip. I just mean that this is a crazy story and people are retelling it. At least once a month, one of my friends tells me, laughingly, that she over-heard someone at some function asking if they'd heard about the deployed spouse with two toddlers who is now pregnant with twins. The "Hey! I know her!" ice breaker is hard to resist. Trust me, my mother has used my height as an ice breaker for years--I'm an excellent ice breaker.

I don't really mind. Nobody lives in a bubble. People are watching. I learned this at an early age. It has proved to be a challenge to me, probably in a good way, but a constant challenge to be brave--not fake--but to speak my reality in a way that somehow still brings glory to Christ.

One of the traditions the boys and I do around meal times is the lighting of a candle. As the flame touches the wick, we talk about what it means to let the Light of the world shine through us in the every day. The funny thing is that as the story of the twins has circulated our small base, my opportunities to let my light shine have increased a thousand fold. I can allow my fears and failures and need for grace to point to Christ and reach a much larger audience than I even realize: the neighbors who stop me as I walk the dog (boys in tow), the curious shoppers who want to ask when I'm due, even (maybe especially) the doctors and nurses who will see me deliver these babies without my husband by my side.

So today, I'm going to ask you to pray for me: to be brave--again, not fake, never fake--but brave enough to use my words and my life to point to Christ, to real Truth, to His endless Grace, even when there are more moments of fear and exhaustion and frustration than I care to count. Pray that I will be brave enough to not waste this opportunity to be light. Pray that I will remember that all bravery is rooted in Christ's grace towards me.

I'm planning to print out and frame this printable soon.

And thank you: for providing me this opportunity to be brave with my words by reading what I write here and responding to me with such encouragement and compassion. I'm grateful. This bravery, I'm learning, is a beautiful thing--even when it means forcing myself to write daily for 31 days straight and feeling like I'm driving you all insane with my ceaseless drivel.

The boys and I have been enjoying this song together lately, and I wanted to share. I also wanted to ask you if you would be willing to go out on a limb and share back with me an area where you have been challenged to bravery lately. And we all know I don't do "reader response" requests very often, so humour me. I'm pregnant, and my husband's deployed--how can you say no to this massive belly? But watch the video first. Preferably while trying out your best dance moves--I did, and they were womb-shakingly epic.


{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Saturday, October 26, 2013

beauty{full}: home

So. Figuring out this homemaking thing hasn't been the easiest thing I've ever done. I remember telling the Man when we were discussing when to have kids that I'd like a couple years of having a living room that wasn't completely covered in children's toys. Actually, let's be honest, I said five to ten years of "adult space". About that...

At any rate, the Man and I spent the first four months of our married life in temporary lodging on a tiny Army base in Texas: one bedroom with attached bath, a mini-fridge and a microwave. Don't believe me? The blog has photographic evidence. And then the day we signed on our first apartment, we found out the Man was deploying and that I was pregnant. Needless to say, this threw a wrench in my homemaking plans. I'm still trying to catch up. Right now, I'm living in sheer terror that I'm going to accidentally step on some left out toy that I couldn't see due to The Belly and crash ungracefully to the floor, thereby ending up with multiple injuries that will require me to ask for even more help than I am currently humbling myself to request. Needless to say, I have become the Pick Up Nazi lately.

I've had to learn the basics of caring for and decorating a home through three pregnancies, three moves, and two deployments, and it just hasn't come naturally. I've never gotten to a place where I've felt like things were perfect and I could call it a day and rest on my laurels. Part of this is my tendency towards perfectionism; part of this is that when I think we are actually getting settled, we hit yet another transition; and part of this is just the nature of having a home full of growing children with changing needs.

Thankfully, I have some wonderful people to learn from, including both of my mothers and a whole host of friends who model for me what it is like to create a beautiful home (beautiful, not perfect). I also read good books. Here are a few truths that I am fighting to implement into our home life:

Homemaking is about making a home, not about making perfection. A perfect home is an authentic, creative, animated space where Peace and Christ and Beauty are embraced. {Perfect does not equate to immaculate.}

I have these words (and the other 9 Helps) taped up inside my laundry room. I need the constant reminder that "perfect" for our family doesn't mean "perfect" in my normal sense of the word. There will be dog fur trapped underneath the legs of the coffee table, there will be toy trains peaking out from beneath the TV stand, and sometimes there will be stuffed animals joining us at the dinner table.

Surrounding myself with God's Word:
In everything give thanks.
Even the fact that the boys are using my curling iron as a baseball bat.
Just for today, I will ask for His grace to transfigure all things into beauty. He's working to redeem all things, in His time, into the image of His Son. 

These grace prayers are taped up by my kitchen sink (yes, my husband has lovingly pointed out that this is tacky--and I deserve that), and I pray through them daily. Because there are daily dishes. And yes, even those dishes are being redeemed somehow into His Image. I pray that I am too. If you go looking for these grace prayers on Ann Voskamp's blog, I believe she has updated to a different version from the one I have.

See how well my pathetic house plant is doing?
And please don't judge the candle:
it was leftover from last year.
Waste not, want not.
The point of keeping a home is not to be perfectionistic or neurotic about cleanliness and order but to create a life of balance that brings joy to your world and those around you.
(Sally Clarkson, Desperate, p. 112)

I wrote about this book a few months ago, and it continues to challenge me. In fact, I selflessly mailed my copy to my mom-in-love, per her request, only to have a friend give me another copy last month! I was more excited than I care to admit. This was one of the moments that gave me a little kick in the rear. I am both perfectionistic and neurotic (sadly, not just about cleanliness and order). I demand that everything be put away at the end of the day though I have been repeatedly challenged to allow my children to more fully explore their art by occasionally leaving things out--really cool train tracks have even made it a few days. But I'm the first to tell you that a completely trashed room makes my skin itch. Literally. Don't even get me started on how annoyed I am to be physically incapable of doing most of the cleaning of the house right now (I am playing mind games with myself in regard to the spider webs that have taken over our front porch--it's in character for the month!). I have to, have to, sit back and ask myself if the goal is a clean and orderly house or the "life of balance" that brings joy to our family.

My happy fall bookshelf.
The reality is that a family, eating, creating dirty dishes, playing, making messes, and having fun simply generates lots and lots of work. The constant stream of work will never really stop flowing: it will only change and morph over time. Your home will never be perfect, but accepting housework challenges as a part of a normal life and embracing them as part of a regular rhythm will allow you to enjoy the people in your home. When you do, your children have the potential to remember home as a place of harmony and positivity.
(Sally Clarkson, Desperate, p. 113)

That concept of a regular rhythm...it helps me. A lot. I am a scheduler, a planner. I like routine. And I function better in it. So do the boys. With twins on the way, our routine is about to get chucked out the window and we will have to regroup yet again. That scares to mess out of me. And that's okay. We will get back to our rhythm eventually; it just might've shifted into a slightly more complex tempo than it was previously.

The most beautiful thing happening in our home:
snuggles and reading about Jesus.

Don't neglect to see the beauty of the life around you while being over-whelmed by the duties of life.
(Sally Clarkson, Desperate, p. 159)

I don't want to miss it. And I know you don't want to either. I want the making of my home to be about actually making a home not fulfilling some deep-seated desire for perfection (whether in decorating, cleaning, or organizing). I want to see the beauty that is already there and allow it to inspire me to create more beauty.

{One of the small ways I have sought to bring beauty into our home is to non-creepily stalk bloggers who provide free printables that I can incorporate into our seasonal decor: a quick and cheap-as-free fix for my decorating boredom. You can find the Give Thanks printable here, the Galatians 6:9 one here, and the Autumn Essentials printable here.}

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Friday, October 25, 2013

beauty{full}: re-scarring

I heard a story once of a young woman who, as a little girl, was badly bitten on the face by a dog. Years later, she's still working with the doctors to remove the scars. And do you know how they do it? By repeated dermabrasion, which is, in a sense, literally sanding down the old scars so that new skin can form where the scar once was.

I cannot get this out of my mind. The thought that, in order to heal, we must have our old scars sanded off of us. We must allow for repeated re-scarring (if you will) in order to ultimately de-scar. Is this the way to beauty in a broken world?

***

The Man's mother is one of the most beautiful women I know. I spend almost every pregnancy praying that one of my kids will end up with her eyes (no luck so far, but I have better odds this time, right?). But my favourite thing about my mother-in-law is her arms. If you look carefully, you can see tiny little white scars covering her hands all the way up past her elbows. These scars are the evidence of 28 years of selflessly caring for my husband's disabled twin. 

For twenty eight years, the Man's wonderful parents have cared for their son, in their own home, with their own hands, at great personal cost and sacrifice to themselves. They have changed diapers, given baths, learned more medical care than some doctors I know. They have strained their bodies, spent their money, lived for months at the hospital, repeatedly rearranged their home and home life so that their son could receive the best care they could possibly give. 

And the scars on my mom-in-love's arms are just one of the testimonies to the incredible love they have poured and continue to pour out on their child. He is alive because of them. He is alive because of their sacrifice. He is alive because they allowed themselves to be repeatedly scarred and re-scarred for his sake. And the result is incredibly beautiful. 

I see it. Not just when I look at him (and after my husband and our kids, he gives me some of the best hugs ever), but also when I look at my in-laws. They are made beautiful in this sacrificial scarring. They have been transformed by it.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Thursday, October 24, 2013

beauty{full}: being personal

It's my mom's 60th birthday today. Well, today where she is, not today where I am. And interestingly enough, one of the most beautiful things I've heard this week came from her. And no, Mom, it was not anything from that insanely long email you sent me about Bonhoeffer. In all pathetic honesty, the twins have so fried my brain that half of what was in there was completely incomprehensible to me, but thank you for believing in my remaining smarts, even if everyone else is aware that they have long since flown the coop.

Anyway, my mom was sharing with me about her plans for her sixtieth birthday. One of the things I love about my mom is her ability to throw herself a party. And this year she did just that: with a few dozen orphans. From the pictures, it looks like she loved every minute of it. In the middle of our conversation about crazy cake and pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, she made a throw away comment about having another party at the deaf school with the orphan girl that she had gotten enrolled there because--get this--she had given this little girl her birthday.

I'm not sure why this struck me in the way that it did. Maybe it's because, to me, birthdays are intensely personal (on my birthday, I want to make sure that everyone knows it's about ME), and if I were to enroll an orphan in school and have to pick a birthday for their paperwork, I would more than likely just pick a random date. Not my mom. My mom picks her own birthday to share. And then she takes the time to celebrate it. With cake. That's selfless. That's personal. That's beautiful. And I can't get it out of my thoughts.

So I just want to take a moment to celebrate the sixty beauty-filled years of my mom's life. She makes me unbelievably proud and gives me endless food for thought (sometimes more than I can handle--cough, cough, Bonhoeffer, cough, cough). Most of all, I love being able to sit back and watch her grow in beauty more and more with each passing year. And I'm glad that this year she's going to show up in time to help me celebrate my birthday. Maybe we'll play pin-the-twins-on-the-gigantic-belly. But there will most definitely be cake.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

beauty{full}: spirit

I was describing a mutual acquaintance to the Man a while ago in an effort to remember her name. I told him her height, hair color, build, and where he would have know her. When he figured out who I was talking about he replied, "Oh! You mean the angry one!" I would never have thought to describe her that way, having always thought of her as an attractive woman, but once I sat down and considered it...yeah...she did kind of come across as angry all the time. So much so that my husband never even noticed her other physical characteristics.

In contrast, one of the most beautiful women I know is not what one would call traditionally pretty, but when I look at her face, I am overwhelmed by the kindness in her eyes, the gentle spirit evidenced, the obvious desire to lovingly serve others, even at her own expense. Though her face is scarred, her hair thinning, and her teeth no where near straight, she has always been the example for me of true beauty. When I describe her to others, I find myself speaking of her character instead of her physical traits. I have no need to list off her physical attributes because her spirit so clearly shows through.

Over and over again I learn that the physical inevitably flows from the spiritual. There is only so long that a pretty face can be pretty before it needs a beautiful spirit to make it into something more. And when a pretty face has behind it an ugly spirit...that spirit doesn't hide for very long. We spend so much time whitening our teeth and plucking our eyebrows and moisturizing our skin, when perhaps we should instead work on developing a beautiful spirit that would counteract our inevitable physical defaults. Because let's be honest: no matter how good we might look right now (and for some of us that's still up for debate), twenty years down the road there will be more wrinkles on our faces (and everywhere else) and less hair on our heads.

So let's ask ourselves: what do we think people see when they look at us? Do they see a mere amalgamation of physical characteristics or do they see our spirits shining out from beyond these temporal facades and transforming everything from our bushy hair to our big feet? And what do we want to do about that?

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

beauty{full}: trash trucks

I'm going to keep this brief because I've been having massive amounts of heartburn all day today, and I think I'm finally done with it and just want to go to sleep. I'm also having hot flashes like nobody's business. There's nothing quite like waking up in the middle of the night drenched in sweat only to discover that the thermostat is set on 66. I'm sure the Man is really sad he's missing this--his equator girl normally likes the temperature at a slow roast.

Anyway, today was trash day. In our house, that's a big deal. The trash truck normally comes around breakfast time, and there's a mad scramble from the table to the kitchen window so we can watch the trash truck collect the contents of the bin. Generally, there are squeals of excitement from the boys and a desperate attempt from me to avoid letting Tiny's yogurt splattered self transfer his nastiness to me. The boys get such a kick out of it. I'm not saying that it's their favourite part of the day, but it's close. Seriously. They love that trash truck. They think it is awesome. In their minds, every day should be trash day. Need I say it? Somehow in their little boy brains, the trash truck is a thing of beauty.

This got me thinking. Are there other things that are really ugly (I mean, seriously: trash trucks are gross) that we have somehow relegated to the status of beautiful for one reason or another? In the case of the trash truck, the boys are endlessly excited by the giant claw that grabs our garbage bin and that is why it quantifies as beautiful. But what about, say, certain animals that are absolutely fascinating in their ugliness (naked mole rats, I'm talking about you)? Do they somehow become beautiful since they are just so darn interesting? I don't know.

But lately I have been thinking about something ugly that has been relegated to a place of beauty. In fact, many of us find it so beautiful that we put replicas of it on the walls of our home, on our jewelry, tattooed on our bodies: a cross.

Can anyone think of a modern day equivalent of the cross? An electric chair. Yep. How would you like a little gold electric chair to hang around your neck?

So, what's the deal? It would take something big, something very big for me to see an electric chair as anything but a means for execution. And that's what helps me understand the true impact of what Christ did on the cross. If it can so totally change the way we see a mode of execution, then surely something of incredible import has happened here. I think the truth is that when we look at the cross, we don't see a gallows or a guillotine or an electric chair: we see grace made flesh.

And it was no small grace. It was such an incredible, unbelievable, inconceivable grace (Christ
voluntarily giving his life for us) that it utterly obliterated the ugliness of the cross, transforming it into the ultimate symbol of beauty.

I think that beats out the trash truck, somehow.

{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}

Monday, October 21, 2013

beauty(full): finishing

I spent today painting this bookshelf. And then repainting it and moving it back to the nursery and then going to war with it over getting the shelves back in and then repainting over the ensuing casualties of war and then finally stocking it with books and other paraphernalia.  And please, please, I beg you, do not judge this bookshelf by the picture I took of it. It looks really cute in real lighting and not the manufactured lighting I had to produce with the help of a handy friend once I finally finished things at 9pm. Or so.


I want to tell you that the lesson I learned about beauty today is that it requires hard work and perseverance, but I don't think that's completely true. You see, it wasn't about hard work or perseverance today: it was about my own stupidity and sheer dogged stubbornness that I was going to finish at least one thing (one thing!) when I don't feel like anything else is getting finished these days. I also fully realize that it would've taken a smarter, more experienced painter about half the time and effort it took me. I got the job done, but someone else would've done a better job of it and finished it two days ago.

I could tell you that the lesson I learned fell right in line with the Nester's motto, "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful," but I'm not entirely sure that it's beautiful and I tried obsessively to get it as close to perfect as possible. So...yeah...not there yet.

I will tell you this, though, the fact that it's done (even if I end up moving various items around on it--and yes, I realize that the lamp is lightbulb-less) makes me feel a little bit less stressed out about things. Did you know that thebump.com told me to pack my hospital bag this week? Seriously?! I'm only at the 29 week mark, people! Can we say overkill?

I promise you that I'm not going crazy about the fact that the nursery is not done yet, or anything along those lines, but it is driving me crazy that I don't feel like I'm really accomplishing much these days. The dishes I wash with my belly propped up against the sink ledge get dirty again. The sheets I struggle to put on the beds get peed on again. The boys I strain valiantly cuddle and hug need to be comforted again. I am in an endless cycle where the work gets done just to be done all over again. And this doesn't even touch on twinancy where the end seems to be no where in sight.

This is not a bad thing. It's just a thing.

But sometimes, feeling like I've finished something, even something as small as painting a bookshelf, is what I need to feel like beauty has been realized. Sometimes it's finding some free artwork online, printing it off, and rearranging some picture frames. Sometimes it's...yeah, no, I can't even think of a third example for you because this kind of moment has been so rare lately.

I'm not talking about the everyday beautiful small things here. I did those today too: drinking a mug of hot cocoa and savouring the half-melted marshmallows at the end, taking the boys to a bookstore and actually buying them books, eating dinner by candle light... No, I'm talking here about purposefully taking the time to create something beautiful, from start to finish. Not petering out. Not losing interest. Not giving up. But saying: no matter how insignificant this might seem to someone else, it matters to me, and I will work to bring beauty into my home. That's what I'm talking about.

And that's what I needed today. Even if I almost killed myself trying to make it happen.

This picture is a freebie for you.
And an explanation for why this blog is so late.
Hard to type with cat-belly.
{If you're looking for the rest of this series, all the links can be found here. Thank you so much for joining with me this month.}