Archive | December, 2013
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Merry Christmas!

25 Dec

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Harnessing Guilt for Good

19 Dec

A feeling I have often, but especially at Christmastime, is Too Much to Do and Too Little Time. I’m sure a lot of people can relate. This year, I had wanted to take some time everyday to sit down with our family and do an Advent activity. Here it is, December 19 and we haven’t even cracked our Bible. One day last week, I was thinking through all the things on my to-do list and thought, “Wait a minute. How did my schedule get completely filled up?” I thought that I was being modest with my Christmas plans but December has a way of filling up without you even trying.

And as it happens whenever I start feeling overwhelmed by one aspect of my life, I started thinking about all the other aspects of my life that I’m “failing” at – like prayer, Bible study, thoughtfulness for friends, exercise, organization, etc. – and then I not only feel overwhelmed, I also feel guilty.

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At those times, I think most people (including myself) have two main reactions: 1) Try to do it all or 2) Stop caring. In a sermon I heard several years ago by Steve Shank of Sovereign Grace, he told of a 3rd option. Talking about Philippians 4:12, he said that apostle Paul had learned to be content with what he had, while also desiring more. How is that possible? When you recognize that the person who gets you from Point A to Point B, from the reality of your life to what you want it to be, isn’t YOU but GOD, then you can be content with What Is, while still longing for What Could Be.

So I don’t have to choose between trying to do it all or just not caring. I can stop trying even though I care. Instead of swinging to one end or the other of the spectrum, there’s a tension in the middle where I can recognize the things I want to be true in my life, but I don’t strive to make them happen. I don’t stop caring, but I do stop striving.

My reaction to that kind of statement 4 years ago would’ve been “Say what?!? If I’m not the one doing it, then how will it get done?” And the answer is the Holy Spirit. The presence of God. When we have a relationship with God through Christ, we not only have His promise that the verdict is in and we are righteous in His eyes – we also have His promise that He will make us into the people He has created us to be. “He who calls you is faithful; He will surely do it.”

The Spirit is the connection between God’s promise and the reality of it happening. He is the tangible, practical outworking of God’s power in our lives. So when I want to be more intentional about praying for people, I don’t have to say “Ok, I’m going to pray for 15 minutes every morning starting at 7:30.” There’s nothing wrong with that if God leads me to that, but my first response to a conviction shouldn’t be activity. Instead of seeing a problem in my life and determining the course of action to remedy it, God wants me to take that conviction and turn to Him in prayer. Ask Him to help me pray for others more often – and then TRUST that He will help me, by reminding me to pray for others, giving me the desire to pray for them when I do remember, growing my understanding of His love for me so that I think of myself less often and of others more often.

When God is the one leading, real change happens. When I’m the one determining what needs to get done, I eventually lose steam and end up right back where I started – and so the cycle begins again.

That’s why there are no specific commands in the Bible. Because the outworking of the Spirit’s conviction and the Christian life look differently for everyone. God says “Be hospitable” and “Give to the needy” and “Remember the poor” – those are pretty vague. I used to be frustrated and think “But what does that look like?” Answer: Only God can show you. Because it’s different for everyone. You might have the idea that to Be Hospitable, you have to open your home to exchange students, or invite your in-laws to move in. And for some people, it does mean that. But maybe for you, it’s just having friends over for lunch. Or hosting a baby shower.

So when I’m thinking about all the things that I want to be doing during Christmas, or the things that I wish I were doing in life but am not, or the things I would change, I don’t have to cast those things aside as “guilt producers” or stupid “expectations imposed on me by society.” I feel guilty about those things because I really want to do them. I want them to be true of my life. I don’t feel guilty about not going bungee jumping or not being a CEO. Because I don’t want those things. I feel guilty about the things I care about.

I read an interesting article about guilt in a parenting magazine the other day while I was pumping at work. The author said that guilt in the right degree is healthy because only sociopaths don’t feel guilt. That was interesting to me. I have always thought about guilt as a bad thing, as in I shouldn’t feel guilty ever. But now I can see guilt as a tool to show me what really matters to me. And instead of trying to deal with that guilt via self-improvement and to-do lists and productivity, or a Who Cares? attitude, I can recognize that I feel guilty because I wish those things were true about my life. At same time, I recognize that I can’t make them a reality on my own. I need God to help me, to show me the One Thing to do right now, and to trust that somehow, by following His leading on the Little Things, He is shaping the Big Picture into something glorious.

It’s hard to do in practice. Our house projects for moving have not gone according to our plans, and Travis and I both have responded poorly at times. Whenever that happens, I know that the cause is we’ve stopped trusting in God and started trusting in ourselves – in our actions, our planning, our common sense. God doesn’t work that way. His ways are higher. His plans are better. We need to trust and rest. “In quietness and trust is your strength.”

Christmas Festivities + House Projects

18 Dec

Things have been pretty busy over here, but life is good!

Wednesday night, we had our Christmas celebration with our care group. We ate dinner together as usual and then played a huge group game of Apples to Apples. It was a lot of fun! Travis and I both won a round.

Thursday night, we went out to dinner with Travis’ company at The Fort in Morrison. It’s a small company (4 men + Travis) so we all had fun chatting and laughing about the crazy stuff that happens on the road.

Friday, I had lunch with a friend and then went to the church to set my table up for the women’s Christmas tea on Saturday.

20131213_141239 20131213_141246 20131213_141253Saturday, Travis worked on the soffet and fascia while I ran errands and frantically baked some Bagel Bites right before leaving for the Christmas tea. The tea was a lot of fun though, and I got to chat with some new faces. Right when the tea ended, I packed up my table quickly, drove home to nurse Emma and then turned around to take her to the babysitters for our date night. We went out to eat at Rock Bottom Brewery and then to Avs vs. Wild game. It was a pretty tame game – the teams were so evenly matched that not many surprise plays happened. But the game ended up going into overtime and a shoot out, where the Wild won!

Sunday, Travis did some more work on the soffet and fascia while Emma napped and I cleaned our house for the first time in way too long (oops). I also picked some friends up from the airport.

Monday, it was in the upper 50s, so we had Charlotte watch Emma while Travis and I painted the soffet and fascia. We got it scraped, washed and painted in about 6 hours!

20131216_115114This shows all the scraping we did.

Tuesday, I took a half day off from work to help Travis put a second coat of paint on. Painting is done! We went from white to a dark brown based on our realtor’s suggestion. I never would’ve thought to paint it dark brown but we think it looks nice! My neck is so tired from looking up for that long.

housepainting1 housepainting2We’re not quite ready for the gutters to be installed – Travis has to add a piece of wood for them to hang the gutters on – but we’re very close!

So that’s what we’ve been up to around here! Next up is packing for our trip to Minnesota. So excited!

A Chilly Weekend

10 Dec

This past weekend was a busy and chilly one! On Thursday, I ducked out of work early to get my hair cut! I chopped off 4-5 inches.

haircutI really like it BUT I haven’t had my hair this short for several years, so it’s taking some time to get used to it. It’s too short for a ponytail now, but still long enough to get in my face so exercising and brushing my teeth are interesting. It also requires a lot more work to look presentable – with long hair, I often blowdried it halfway and then put it up in a messy bun. Not anymore!

Friday, my work had our holiday party at a bowling alley, and I took Emma along. She was a hit! I was able to have one of my co-workers hold her while I was bowling and she was happy and content for almost 2 full games. I didn’t take any pictures though… *fail*

After the party, I went over to my friend Charlotte’s house to watch her 2 kids while she and her husband (also named Travis) went to his work Christmas party. They’re going to watch Emma this Thursday night while we go to (my) Travis’ work party. It was really fun watching her kids. They’re 4 and almost 2, and they were very obedient and fun! Emma was having a rough night though because she is very congested right now, and I think she’s getting her top 2 teeth. Poor baby.

On Saturday, Travis and I got up at 4 am to help out with our friend D’s Fa La La race. I took Emma up to my friend Carrie’s house, who graciously agreed to watch Emma at 6 am even though she isn’t a morning person! Fortunately, Emma was very happy and easy all day – and majorly cute.

emmatripleThe race went well, and even though it was only about 1 degree out, I stayed warm in my many layers as long as I was moving around. After the race, I picked Emma up and we went out to eat at Buffalo Wild Wings with some of the race staff – our post-race tradition.

Once we were done eating, it was already 4 pm! Emma took a little nap on the way home, and stayed asleep long enough for me to get all our race stuff put away, which felt good to get done.

Sunday, Travis and I were on projection and lights so we had to get to church an hour early. I also forgot our gifts for the foster children that our church ‘adopts’ at Christmas so in the middle of church (when Emma was fussy because she needed a nap), I ran home to get them and Emma napped in the car. After church, we went straight home, ate lunch and then I took a 3 hour nap! I got up a little over halfway through to check on Travis and Emma, and Emma was still sleeping too! She slept for 2.5 hours, which happens fairly often on Sundays, but not any other day. Apparently, church is exhausting!

Even though I enjoy the chilly weather because the snow doesn’t melt, I do miss being able to be outside. I’m glad it’s finally warming up around here.

Emma Grace: 8 Months

7 Dec

Back when Emma was born, her first Christmas seemed like an eternity away. And here it is, in just a few weeks! Craziness.

Emma8Month 037 (Large)SIZE

Emma is getting so big! She’s wearing almost all 9-month clothes, and some 12-month. We’ve decided that she has a really long torso, because she outgrows the shirt of an outfit before the pants even fit (length-wise)! She also wears dresses in at least one size bigger than normal, otherwise her bum is hanging out all the time.

20131204_114922Her feet finally fit into shoes!

SLEEP

Emma is down to 2 naps a day. She can go 2 – 2.5 hours between naps now, and go 3.5-4 hours between her last nap and bedtime. Every once in a while, she needs 3 naps, but I try to not let that happen because then she stays up too late. It’d be ok if she slept in, but she still gets up at the same time as ever, usually between 5:30 and 6. Aye. So she and I both get less sleep than if she just went to bed earlier. Her ideal bedtime is between 6 and 7.

Emma had gotten back into the groove of sleeping at least 8 hours straight after her first teething episode, but then the past week, she started waking up 2-4 times a night again. I thought maybe she was teething but nothing’s happened there, so who knows?

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Emma has gotten in the groove of eating 3 meals of solid foods a day. So far, they’ve all been purees but we’re going to start trying finger foods. The few times we’ve tried little hunks of cheese or Cheerios, Emma couldn’t get them to her mouth, but we’ll keep trying! Her favorite food so far is yogurt. She also likes bananas, applesauce, butternut squash and spinach mixed with banana.

She did have her first little bout of constipation this past month, but a couple days of eating pureed prunes and peaches, and she was back to normal. Man, are solid food poops messy though!

Little by little, my milk is dwindling. I think that’s one reason why Emma takes shorter naps at home than at daycare – she drinks more in a bottle at daycare than she does in a nursing session at home. Since she stays awake longer now too, I’ve started nursing her before her naps so that she’ll sleep longer.

I started pumping only twice at work, instead of 3 times, and usually get about 3-4 oz each, which is only enough for about 1 bottle. It is what it is. Emma just drinks more formula. I’ve been giving her at least 2 oz of formula before bed, in addition to nursing. One night, I nursed Emma and she fell asleep but she woke up about an hour later, and seemed hungry. I gave her a bottle and she chugged 8 oz! Girlfriend was hungry.

Emma8Month 031 (Large)DEVELOPMENT

Just in the past couple of days, Emma has started rolling over to her belly voluntarily to play with toys. And she’ll stay there for a little while before rolling back. Yay Emma! I’m glad to see that she’s no longer a tummy hater. But I’ve noticed this with a few things – if I put her on her tummy, she doesn’t like it. If she chooses to roll over, she’s fine. Little Miss Independent.

Emma still falls over quite a bit sitting up, but I think this will get better once she starts to crawl/move around on her own. She stills loves to stand up and has gotten a lot more steady on her feet. She can hold herself up on furniture briefly. We bought her this Baby Einstein activity table for Christmas so that she had something to play with while standing up. We’ve let her play with it early, since we’ll be in Minnesota for Christmas, but she’s not a huge fan. I think it might be sensory overload. Hopefully that gets better as she gets older. We also bought her this shape sorter for Christmas, which we’ll bring to MN with us.

Emma8Month 026 (Large)Emma has started giggling a lot more this past month – she’ll giggle at a bunch of stuff that you wouldn’t even think was funny. Like the knife set on our counter. Our Christmas tree. The bunny on the shelf in her room. The dogs. A squeezy spoon. (Seriously, watch that video – it’s so funny!) And she’s still squawking and smiling up a storm – she is almost always making noise. She’s such a happy little girl.

The best way to describe her favorite noise to make right now, though, is gurgling. She does it in the back of her throat. It’s so cute. But a little difficult to do while eating.

Emma8Month 034 (Large)Emma likes to flap her arms up and down, and when laying down, she slams her feet on the ground. (It’s hard to describe baby movements, but those of you with babies probably know what I’m talking about!) She also gets so excited when I pick her up that she does a little jumping motion in my arms.

I think Emma might be starting to develop some attachment issues because she hardly ever lets anyone else hold her, especially if I’m in the room. She’d rather be sitting next to me than being held by someone else, and has started reaching for me if someone else is holding her. But she is still doing great at daycare and still likes Daddy, so that’s good!

20131204_075349I mentioned this in a previous post, but we’ve started swapping date nights with some friends whose daughter is about 3 weeks younger than Emma. Emma has enjoyed it so much! It’s been so cute to watch Emma look at her friend, reach out to touch her, and try to interact with her. Emma also loves my friend’s 4-year-old boy at daycare – apparently, he cracks her up all the time!

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Emma is such a joy! I am blessed to be her mother.

20 Ways Dogs Are Like Kids

5 Dec

While having dogs for 4 years and being around young kids often, I’ve noticed a few similarities…

1. They always want whatever toy someone else has. Doesn’t matter if they thought their squeaker was the coolest thing ever 5 seconds ago – it is now lame sauce.

2. They run around in short bursts of intense energy and then crash hard. Only difference – dogs voluntarily sleep about 20 hours every day.

3. Everyone has an opinion about how they should be trained/raised. My dogs don’t walk beside me on a leash because I don’t care enough to train them, but I always feel like I’m going to get chastised by someone more dog-savvy.

4. If they misbehave in public, you feel like a bad parent. Sorry, we’re still working on teaching Charlie to not jump up. Or Katy to not run out the front door. Or both dogs to not go berzerk when the doorbell rings.

5. You’re more concerned about their health and nutrition than your own. I don’t measure out my own food to make sure I’m not eating too much.

6. They wake you up in the morning several hours before you want to get up. Always.

7. You clean up their messes, bodily and otherwise. Can I just say “EW” and “You never get used to it”?

8. Their safety and well-being keep you awake at night. This is especially true when they are puppies. “Does she need to go out?” “Does she think I’ve abandoned her?” “Is that her whining, or my imagination?”

9. You feel bad for not spending all your time with them. But sometimes you just need a freaking break already.

10. You plan your day around them. “Well, we should probably drive 20 minutes home and 20 minutes back to this same area, so that we can let the dogs out.” “Well, we should probably drive around aimlessly for 40 minutes so that Emma can take a nap.”

11. You talk to them in a baby voice and kiss them on the head. Hey, they’re cute!

12. You and your spouse have to be agreed and consistent on how to discipline them. Mixed signals are never a good thing.

13. They constantly want attention. Wherever you go, there they are.

14. They decide that the perfect time to bring out every toy they own is when you have guests over. “It’s a little hard to hear over all the squeaking you’re making!”

15. Their adorableness makes your anger melt every time. Who can stay mad at that face?

16. They can make a clean house dirty in an impressively short amount of time. Tell me, how does dog hair get into the freezer?

17. They like to cuddle. Little space heaters.

18. They don’t let you have anything nice or valuable for long. It all gets chewed on eventually.

19. They are easily entertained. A plain bone occupies them for hours.

20. You do things with and for them that you wouldn’t do otherwise. The number of walks I gone on has increased exponentially since getting dogs.

…………………

Dog owners and parents, can you think of any more?

Thanksgiving Weekend 2013

3 Dec

It was nice staying in town for Thanksgiving this year. On Wednesday night, I went with some of our small group from church to volunteer for Operation Christmas Child while Travis stayed home with Emma. We’ve done this for the past 4-5 years and it is always rewarding and enjoyable. I didn’t go last year because I was pregnant, so I’m glad I got to go this year! We prepared boxes that were going to Guayana and Togo.

On Thursday (Thanksgiving Day), we ran the Turkey Chase 5K that benefitted the Denver Rescue Mission with our friends D and Doug. It was Emma’s first race! She did really well – she slept through the first half and was content hanging out for the rest. While I think the Denver Rescue Mission is a great organization, I was a little frustrated with the race. One, the first half mile was on gravel – while that’s nice for running, it’s a little bumpy for a stroller! So Travis and I ended up mostly walking that portion for Emma’s sake. Two, the course ended up being 3.5 miles instead of 3.1. And three, it was an out and back course on a greenway, meaning not much room to get by slower people. Travis and I had quite a time of weaving around walkers and other strollers. But really, those things are just frustrations as a runner with a stroller. If we hadn’t had a stroller, it would’ve been fine, except for the course length.

We had a pretty good race anyway though. Here are our mile splits:

turkey trot splitsWe were cruising for Mile 3! A little too much, because I had to have Travis take over pushing the stroller. I pushed it for the first mile or so, he pushed for the second mile, I pushed it again for about 5 minutes, and then he pushed it the rest of the way. 😉 That was nice. We finished in 38:42, average pace of 11:08/mile.

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After the race, we went home, showered while Emma took a nap and then went over to our friends’ house for the feast. We brought pumpkin pie with whipped cream and green bean casserole (which I made for the first time, and I thought it was meh). But the rest of the food was delicious!

1486723_10202757468642641_1227915238_nEmma thought so too – she mostly had her own butternut squash puree, but she tried mashed potatoes and pumpkin pie. She loved the pie!

20131128_145135After stuffing ourselves, the guys went downstairs to watch football and the ladies talked and looked through Black Friday ads. It was nice and lowkey, but it certainly wasn’t as relaxing as in past years, with a baby to take care of!

On Friday, Travis went fly fishing with a couple of friends, including my friend Cathy’s husband, so Emma and I went over and hung out at her house most of the day (after I took a much-needed nap during Emma’s naptime!). We drank coffee, talked and watched Miracle on 34th Street – I had never seen it before. I enjoyed it.

Saturday, Travis woke up sick. Major bummer because that’s when we were supposed to have our date night/birthday celebration! I had bought tickets to the Avalanche vs. Wild hockey game, but we ended up selling them. Instead, we just hung out at home watching Monsters University while Emma was at our friends’ house. We have another date night scheduled in a couple weeks, so hopefully that’ll turn out more like we hope. It was a nice night anyway.  And we didn’t have to worry about the volume being too loud! (Emma’s room is right next to our living room – sooo looking forward to a bigger house!)

On Sunday, Emma and I went to church while Travis stayed home. I checked her into the nursery for the sermon, but she lasted only about 5 minutes. When I came back to get her, her face was bright red and she had snot running down her face from crying so hard. Poor baby! She just wanted mommy though because she was perfectly happy with me. The rest of the day, we just bummed at home because I was beat.

Monday was a marathon shopping day for me and Emma. I realized that every weekend until we leave for Minnesota is crazy busy so I needed to get some Christmas shopping done ASAP! We went to Office Max, the post office, Sports Authority, Walmart and the grocery store. Emma was a trouper though! The only noise she made in the stores was a lot of loud squawking at Walmart.

Hope you all had a good Thanksgiving!