Tuesday, July 27, 2010

2 Weeks

It's 9:15 and I'm still in my pajamas. How sad is that? Even worse, if I had my way I would not only be in my pajamas, I'd still be sound asleep in my soft, comfy, warm, inviting bed... Oh, bed, how I miss thee.

Whew. It's been two weeks since our little one was born, and time is doing that strange, overlapping thing when sometimes it feels as if we brought him home yesterday and sometimes it feels as if he has been a part of our lives forever. Either way, I continue to be blissfully euphoric about my new role as a mother of three. Three. It's such a nice, complete number. The sides of a triangle, each leaf of a clover, the Trinity. I like being a mother of three. No, I love it. But I'm busy, too. Tired. A little red-eyed and pale. Mostly because when I'm ready to sleep, my baby is as wide-eyed and cheerful as the cutie in the picture above. (No, that honey is not mine... Sorry!) And yet, how is it the dark lines under my eyes mean nothing when I get to bury my lips in the sweet neck of my baby?

Okay, I told you that if I blogged during this time it would be little more than sentimental drivel. Sorry. But you were warned. Anyway, before I totally embarrass myself and start composing sonnets to my little one, I'll write what I came to write and go take a much-needed shower. I think I could sculpt my hair right now using nothing my my fingers and a bit of elbow grease. Sad, isn't it?

While two weeks of fawning over my infant is not nearly enough time to satisfy my mommy cravings, I am starting to miss my "regular" life. I've been working hard on stuff for One Body One Hope (check out the blog for some exciting news!), reading a lot, and getting the creative itch to write again... Fourteen days is a long time to abandon my craft! So, it's time. Or almost time. I'll be getting back into the swing of things slowly this week...

Which includes sneak previews of some of my works in progress, writing tips and life inspirations from Donald Miller (A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is one of the best books I've ever read. Ever.), some recipes for busy moms (I found time to make the best cookies the other day--they lasted all of ten hours), and other fun tidbits about life, summer, motherhood, imagination, and maybe even breastfeeding. ;)

Love and hugs to all! I hope you're enjoying the last few days of July... Yikes. Is August a mere breath away??? See you on Thursday... Or maybe Friday. ;)

Monday, July 19, 2010

It's a BOY!

Just wanted to pop in and let you all know that our little one was born late on Tuesday, July 13 after 20 hours of labor. Yikes! Who knew it could take so long for such a tiny guy (7 lb., 1 oz., 20 inches long) to make his appearance? Oh well, he was worth every second and more. He's such a honey--sweet and soft and full of all those amazing baby sounds... I could not possibly be more in love. Anyway, I'm afraid I don't share my children's names online (sorry!), nor do I post photos of them, but I thought these two would be okay. They say babies all look the same, but I'm pretty taken with mine. ;)

Hugs to all! I'll be blogging more soon. Until then, see what I'm doing in the top photo? That's pretty much what I'll be up to... My lips have hardly left his precious little body.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Special Delivery

No, that's not my belly. But isn't it cute? I know some people aren't fond of the pregnant silhouette, but I think it's soooo beautiful. Too bad I won't be sporting the tummy much longer...

Too bad? What am I talking about?! I am so excited to meet this baby! And if all goes as planned I'll be holding my little one in my arms by early this week. I'm being induced on Tuesday morning, and though I'm not thrilled about having an induction, I've accepted that with my history (and the blood-thinning injections I've been giving myself for the past nine months) I don't have much of a choice. So pitocin it is. Oh joy. However, I have been having some very strong (and rather regular) contractions all weekend, so maybe I'll still get my wish and go into labor naturally. Wouldn't that be fun? I'll be praying this baby decides to fool the doctors.

Anyway, as you can imagine, my mind is elsewhere these days. So I'm going to be taking a break from blogging for... oh, I don't know... however long it takes for me to get over the I-don't-want-to-do-anything-but-stare-at-my-baby stage. I'll pop in to let you know the good news, but don't expect any long, thought-provoking posts in the next little while. More likely, you'll receive a random, sappy ode to my wee one that was written in tears on the keyboard. Darn hormones.

While I'm gone, blessings to you! Enjoy the dog days of summer... Drink lemonade, let your kids play in the sprinkler, read a cheap paperback that lets you leave your brain on a shelf, and soak up these amazing July days. They'll be over in a flash.

Hugs to all!

Saturday, July 10, 2010


Wow. How's that for a post title? Are you still with me? Or have you run from my blog screaming??? ;)

Saturdays are my "just for fun" days, and today I feel like conducting a poll. But before I do, I have to give you a little background...

My first son was born in Canada, and I was the happy recipient of a year-long maternity leave. Being the smitten young mom that I was, I eagerly nursed my little one for 10 and 1/2 months. It was bliss. I loved it. He loved it. I never even gave my son a bottle because there was no need to. I was there and I had everything he needed. As you can imagine, I became very adept at managing my little son and a great, big blanket that preserved my modesty. Breastfeeding was such a positive experience for me that I've been eagerly anticipating it again. Until recently.

A few days ago someone took me aside to gently tell me that when my baby is born, I need to nurse in a separate room. None of this discreet feeding behind a blanket around family and/or close friends. Me and my little one have to be out of sight. I was heartbroken.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no exhibitionist and I have no desire to embarrass myself or those around me by flaunting anything that doesn't need to be flaunted. But if I have to leave the room every time my baby needs to eat (like, every two hours), I don't know if I can breastfeed. Just the thought makes me sad.

So, here's my question for you. How do you view this obviously touchy subject? I'd love to know.

  1. Breast is best! New mothers have every right to nurse their babies wherever they want to. Naysayers can close their eyes.
  2. Breastfeeding is great for both mothers and babies. So is compromise. Go ahead and feed, but be discreet. Use a blanket. Know the situation and leave the room when it's appropriate.
  3. If you choose to breastfeed, that's fine, but please use a bottle in public. Even if you use a blanket, we know what you're doing and aren't thrilled with the reminder.
  4. Breastfeeding is gross. That's why people invented formula.
I think you probably already know where I fall on the spectrum, but I'll share after I hear from a few of you. 

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Poetry in Motion

Sometimes a picture really is worth a thousand words. This is my oldest son, launching off the end of the dock during our recent lake vacation. Isn't he beautiful? A photo like this is enough to take my breath away. There's a poem in the frame. A story. An epic.

Do you have a picture that makes you sigh? I know you can't share it in the comment section of my blog, but I'd love a link or at least an explanation...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Fact vs. Fiction

This might come as a surprise to you, but I write fiction. Shocker, I know.

Okay, okay. Of course you know I write fiction. Why bring it up? Because I believe wholeheartedly that the line between fact and fiction is pretty stinkin' fine. Am I suggesting that my Julia character (After the Leaves Fall, Summer Snow, and the upcoming Beneath the Night Tree) is based on my own life? Not at all. I don't have much in common with Julia at all. Maybe, more scandalously, I relate to Abigail (The Moment Between), the somewhat disturbed protagonist of my most recent book. Actually, she's an aberration to me, a total enigma. I wrote about her because I didn't understand her and I wanted to develop empathy for someone that I just didn't get.

So if I'm not writing about myself, why do I think the line between fact and fiction is fine? Because I believe it is impossible to write and not include bits and pieces of yourself. In fact, I might be so bold as to say that you can't be a good writer unless you're willing to bare segments of your soul.

Scary thought. Bits of my soul on display for anyone to read about and dissect? You bet. Anything honest, anything real and moving and potentially changing (even on a very small scale) has to include some sort of sacrifice. For me, that sacrifice comes in the form of little revelations. You read my books, you're going to learn a bit about me--even if the story is far from autobiographical.

Right now I'm working on a book that is framed by a staggering loss. It's a hard book for me to write because I have to daily put myself in the shoes of a woman who has lost her husband. It's not enough for me to simply imagine how she feels, I have to make myself really and truly face the reality of what it would be like to find myself husband-less. It's painful. I don't want to think about that possibility, much less dwell on it to the point of heartache. But her fictional reactions will be based on the tears I've shed trying to put pieces of myself into her life. And I'm weaving in other agonies, other things I've faced even if they don't perfectly relate to my protagonist's situation. It's not fun to dredge that stuff up, especially when I'm working on fiction, not autobiography or even biography.

But I believe that story is powerful. I believe that when we share pieces of ourselves we allow others to deal with their own pain and loss, joy and moments of celebration. It's powerful to be a part of something that matters, that has the promise to reach out and touch another person at a place where they're at (or have been or will be). And I'm willing to weave my fact into my fiction.

How about you? Are you willing to share? Do you allow people to enter into your own struggles and moments of epiphany? Has anyone ever "let you in" and changed things for you?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Homemade Strawberry Pie

After a couple of heavy posts this week, I thought I'd bring us into the holiday weekend with my favorite 4th of July recipe. This is my grandmother's strawberry pie recipe passed down to my mom and on to me. In my humble opinion, it's the absolute best pie ever. Period. I'll never make strawberry pie another way.

Happy 4th of July!!!

Strawberry Pie

1 9-inch pie shell, baked
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 tbsp. white (Karo) syrup
1 small box strawberry gelatin
3 tbsp. cornstarch
1-2 quarts fresh strawberries (depending on how full you want the shell to be)

Boil sugar, water, cornstarch, and syrup stirring constantly. Add dry gelatin and cook until just thickened. Cool slightly. Assemble berries in pie shell (I like to clean my strawberries but leave them whole. It takes awhile to arrange the pie this way, but it looks so pretty!). Pour cooled gelatin mixture over the berries, covering completely. Refrigerate until set. Serve with lots of whipped cream!

Yummy! What's your favorite 4th of July dish???

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Balance, Part II

Yikes. Apparently I have a lot to say about balance! After a long post on Tuesday, we're gearing up for another long one today. But before you're tempted to think that I have this all figured out, let me assure you that I'm as much of a sojourner as any of you. I make horrible mistakes in my pathetic attempts to keep my life sane and balanced. I yell at my kids when they interrupt something "important" that I'm in the middle of doing. And I drive myself in circles trying to make it all work. But I'm learning as I go, and it's getting better. A few years ago I don't think I was in a very healthy place. Now I can honestly say that my stress level is so low sometimes I should probably check my blood pressure. That's saying a lot for this formerly high-strung missy!

Anyway, on to a few more things I've learned about balance along the way...

3. Dream big, but be realistic. Sad to say, but no, you really can't do everything... Though God might have a few surprises up his sleeve. I went through four different majors in college before I finally settled on one. It was such a tough decision for me because there were a dozen things I wanted to do! I was passionate about law and journalism and global issues... Never mind art and writing and veterinary medicine. I wanted to be a marine biologist and an international lawyer and missionary in Uganda. God gave me big dreams and I wanted to do them all. I still want to do them all, and believe it or not, God is continuing to give me ways to fulfill my dreams. But they don't always look like I envisioned they would. I've been a lifeguard, a ranch hand on a dairy farm, a teacher, a speaker, an author, a mother, and a founding member of an exciting non-profit. Not all at the same time, though some of those dreams overlapped. I think the secret to fulfilling those longings was the fact that I held them loosely and I didn't force them--I knew I couldn't be everything I wanted to be and do everything I wanted to do, so I picked a passion (seemingly giving up other dreams) and went with it. Then God opened another door and I walked through that one, too. Several doors later and I can look back and realize that the path I've trod has been paved with dreams--ones that were gifted to me instead of ones that I fought for.

4. Rest. Relax. Be patient. Wait. I'm an ambitious girl. I like to chart my own course and make things happen instead of waiting for them to happen to me. I don't know, maybe that works for some people. But in my "old age" I'm realizing that every day is a gift. I don't want to spend it wishing that I was doing something else or forcing something to happen that isn't meant to be. If my baby needs me today, I want to have the patience to put everything else aside--all the other things that I think are important to "balance"--and focus heart and soul, body and mind on the child that has been placed in my arms. There will be another day to write. Another day to revamp my blog or have a heart-to-heart over coffee with my best friend. All in God's good time.

5. Give it up. This is the last bit of "wisdom" I'm going to give you and it might be the hardest to receive. For people like us (people who embrace creativity, dream big, and long to make a difference in the world) it's hard to understand that every passion and dream we have is not heaven-sent. But sometimes we need to take a long, hard look at ourselves and assess what we see. Ask yourself the following questions: Why am I doing this? Why do I want to do this? Is it a true calling on my life or is it merely a passion? What do I have to give up in order to pursue this dream? Is it worth the sacrifice? Sometimes your final answer is going to be a resounding no. Or not yet. I have given up several things (some kicking and screaming, some willingly) that were not good for me. I'm not saying they weren't good things in and of themselves, but for me at that stage in my life they were time-drains. Or worse. But there is even redemption in giving something up. I can't tell you how good it feels to let go of something that you shouldn't have been clinging to in the first place! Talk about freedom!

Well, there you have my suggestions for finding balance. I'd love to hear what you have to say. What are some things you do to keep a little balance in your life? Do you have any specific advice to share? Stories of your own successes or failures along the way? Let's keep the conversation going...