Thursday, May 31, 2007

They Say It's Your Birthday!

WARNING! WARNING! This is very long and would, no doubt, be quite tiresome for someone to read (unless they happen to be related to our birthday boy.)

Happy birthday, dear Nicknack!

At this time one year ago, we were holding you in our arms for the first time, marvelling at how amazing, miraculous, and surprisingly cute you were!

For some reason, I had an irrational concern that you might be a very unattractive baby. The night before your second trimester ultrasound I had a horrible nightmare that I could see on the sonogram that you looked very much like one of your Dad's relatives, who shall remain nameless. You already had teeth that stuck straight out, even in the womb! I had a lot of very vivid dreams, while carrying you. Including very upsetting nightmares in which your Dad decided to divorce me or left me for another woman. Once I even reached over and whacked him, when I awoke from a particularly irksome dream. But, you know your Dad. He was a pretty good sport about it.

Those dreams were as unrealistic as my nightmares about what you would look like. The second thing that Dr. Harvey said, as she greeted you on your birth day was "What a cutie!" The nurse agreed, "He IS cute!" I thought, "Let me see!" And it was true. I was so relieved! You were just beautiful, right from the start.

But the very first thing Dr. Harvey said was, "It's a..." She was trying to prompt your Dad. We thought it would be fun for him to announce your gender. We had waited all those months to find out what kind of baby we would be getting. I thought you were a boy from the start, just for the record. But, of course, I couldn't be sure. Dr. Harvey had to twice say, "It's a..." before your Dad emerged from the state of shock and said, "Oh! It's a.... boy!" with a laugh in his voice.

There were a few moments of silence, on your part. Your Dad and I both vividly remember you taking your first breath and looking from side to side. Like, "Where AM I!?" Then you did a lot of very hearty screaming. That little newborn cry, "Waah! Waah!" It was music to our ears.

The first thing I said to you was, "Who are YOU?!" I know that probably sounds odd. I was just so shocked to see you. Of course, I knew you would be arriving. I'd seen your ultrasounds, felt your movements, and pushed SOMEONE for several hours. But, somehow, I was still surprised that it was you. I kept saying, "I can't believe it! Can you even believe this?"

I didn't expect you to look so much like a Hoxworth. I sort of felt like, "Oh, it's YOU! Of course, why didn't I expect that it would be you!?" It's hard to believe now that I couldn't imagine exactly who you would be, before you were born. It just couldn't have been anyone else. The other thing I said, which, unfortunately, is on tape, was, "I never want any baby other than you!" Of course, I would love to have other children, and I hope they don't take that comment personally. I was just so completely content with you. Your Dad, Gramsy, and I were all immediately and forever smitten.

You were so pink and lively. Your Apgars were 9/9, but you had a touch of fever, which I'd developed during labor. But you seemed fine and very healthy. Because you were a week overdue, your nails were quite long and the skin on your little shrively hands and feet was a bit peely. You had those newborn blue gray eyes and about the average amount of hair. The color was as indescribable then as it is now. Sort of brownish blondish reddish. Just like mine, by the way. You were 8.04 pounds. Did I ever mention that I predicted that you would be a week late and would weight eight pounds? Strange, huh?

You were an angel straight from heaven. A very mellow newborn. Here are a few things about your newborn months that are especially special to me:

1. Your breath. It was heaven sent. And the weird thing was that neither your Dad nor Grandma could detect it! It was kind of a perfumey chemical scent and if I could have figured out how to bottle it, I would have.

2. Your monster sounds. We always had eating issues and in the middle of the night your Dad would try to restrain your arms while you tried SO hard to suck on them, so that you could focus your attention, ahem, elsewhere, and nurse. You made the funniest little wild baby animal sounds. We called you the Masher and Monster/Monner because you would just smoosh your face anywhere and try to nurse. Everywhere except the proper place, of course! :)

3. Your boob radar. Okay, this is hard to describe. But if I was holding you and you were hungry you did this hilarious thing that involved you slooowly moving your face across my line of vision, milimeters from my face, looking right through me, on the hunt for something to latch on to. It was the cutest. Your eyes were still a little "blank" then, like a baby kitten.

4. Your frog bod. The way you slept on our chests. How you only would consent to sleep soundly on your tummy or swaddle in your Papasan bouncer. How your Dad had a knack for swaddling. The way you and I napped, check to cheek or nose to nose. Those first few months when you sometimes slept in the crook of my arm. Rocking you.

5. The first time you smiled at me. You smiled at your Dad first and wouldn't stop smiling at him for a week. But no smiles for me. One evening, after your bath, I put you on your hooded duckie towel on our bed and started to get you ready for bed. As I began to sing first few notes of "Teddy Bear Picnic," you beamed at me. A big gummy, toothless grin that melted my heart. Especially since that was our special song when I was carrying you. I sang that to you every day. I guess you recognized it.

6. Your other favorite songs, which were "Old MacDonald Had a Farm," "What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor," and "I Wish I Were an Oscar Meyer Weiner." It was pretty embarassing trying to get you to smile for your three month photos, singing those last two. But they worked.

7. The way your Dad and I would just sit around admiring you for hours. We sometimes discussed which part of you looked the most delicious. It was a toss up between your tummy, thighs, or cheeks. If a baby can be kissed too much, you are doomed.

8. Being proud to take you anywhere. And feeling a little huffy that there wasn't a mad stampede at the store so that everyone could come admire your awesomeness. HELLO! World's most darling baby, here, folks!

You have changed so much since those early days, of course. Your every achievement has been pretty thrilling. I never thought a tooth could be adorable until I saw your first tooth peeking through your gum. You know have five full teeth (three on bottom, two on top), one half bottom tooth and two half top teeth.

You have been pretty much average, timeline-wise, for your milestones. You rolled onto your tummy early, but rolled onto your back a bit late. You started crawling and pulling yourself up in your crib within days of each other. You were the last baby in the church nursery to start crawling (the others are girls and at least six weeks older than you) but you are MUCH faster than the rest.

You were a very quiet and easy going baby until you started crawling, at seven months. Then, all of a sudden, we started to realize how independent and strong willed you really were. At your nine month check up, your Pediatrician commented on what a "handful" you were. I look at him quizzically. "What on earth makes you think that?" He pointed out how you grabbed everything in sight and the tantrums you threw when poked and prodded. I laughed it off and later your Dad and Grandma and I decided he was bonkers. He even wrote, "Very active. Good luck." on the send home chart. Whatever.

A few weeks later (as I removed you for the fourth time from the off limit behind-the-recliner-corner, comforted you after another diaper-change induced tantrum, peeled you off the bookcase you were attempting to climb, and chased you as you squeezed through the gap between the baby gate and sofa), I realized you really were...spirited! For better or worse, you seem to have a temperament simliar to my own. My tantrums were legendary. I was the "girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead." However, your mother is a bit more strong willed than mine was. So we'll see how that works for you. :) But, between the two of us, I like your spirit.

Your latest accomplishments are clapping on cue (when we say "Yaaay!"), pulling up your blanket or hiding your eyes to play peek-a-boo, and climbing the bookcase, baby gates, and slide. You are an accomplished cruiser and have outgrown (for now, at least), the tendency to bonk your head on any and every thing. In fact, you hardly ever fall anymore. Today you stood for about a minute.

Your favorite toy is your new piano, given to you by your doting Grandma Helen. But what you love the best, are books. You read dozens a day. You babble along as you flip the pages, pointing your chubby little finger at various images. You are mesmerized by our birds and the stray kitties we feed. Today you cracked up as you watched "Alley" chasing a bug. Your laugh is the world's greatest sound. You used to have a one syllable laugh "Huh!" Now it's more of a sqealed "Hah Hah!"

But enough about you. Just kidding.

It has been an amazing year for our little family. We still can't believe that God has blessed us so abundantly. We would have been happy with any old baby, but we got YOU. Two people couldn't be luckier. You are a delight. We are both so proud to call you our child and so thankful that God chose us as your parents.

I want to tell you how incredibly fortunate you are. You have an amazing earthly Dad. The kind of Dad I always wanted, and accidentally married. I had a hunch that someone who was such a kind husband would make a marvelous father. And was I right. He thinks you hung the moon. He is the most doting and encouraging and interested Dad a baby could ever ask for. Your Dad had an amazing father of his own. Very nurturing and involved. And HIS Dad raised him, when his mother left them, at a young age. So you come from a long line of special and loving Dads. As for your mom, she's a hopeless mess. But she adores you.

On this, your first birthday, I have a lot of hopes and dreams for you. But none amount to much, without the desire of my heart, which is that you know God. That you are blessed by loving him. That is the most important thing in the world to me. I will do everything I can to share Him with you, but I know that only He can stir your heart to accept his grace. Please don't ever forget that you are his.

And your Dad has this message for you, "Stay sweet!" He says that to you all the time. You are pretty sweet. He is going to write you a letter of his own, although, don't worry, it won't be this long!

Bless you, Nicholas Lane.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

My First Meme: Where Do You Eat Out?

Ooh! I've been tagged for my first meme. Thank you, Jenna @ Joyful Journey!

I will try to play by the rules, but if I do something incorrectly, please don't hold it against me. :)

Here are said rules:

1. Link to name of person that tagged you. (see above.)
2. Include state and country you live in.
3. List top five favorite local restaurants.
4. Tag five other people and let them know they've been tagged!

Okay, I'm going to copy Jenna's lead and get a little creative and include restaurants that are not necessarily located here, in Seattle.

But I will start with a couple of my local favorites.

1. Wild Ginger - Seattle, WA

If you are in the downtown Seattle area, I recommend Wild Ginger. It offers Pan-Asian cuisine and I strongly urge you to order the Seven Elements soup, which is an amazing coconut curry noodle soup (khao soi). One time I saw Al Gore at Wild Ginger, around the time of the last presidential election. Wait, maybe that's not a big draw. I forgot that a lot my internet sisters are from "red states." Disregard that last comment. Let me try this instead: Yes, they do serve Starbucks.

2. Shanghai Garden - Chinatown (Seattle), WA

No points for ambiance or service. They don't even have a website. And the last time I picked up food here, I got stuck in my parking spot by a double parker! But if you go here for a bite of authentic Chinese food or dim sum, you'll thank me later. I know they sound odd, but here's what you must order: shrimp and strawberries (sounds awful, right? but it's amazing) and handmade green noodles. Yes, I said green. Trust me.

3. La Mex - Anchorage, AK

Oh, La Mex. How I love you. Here's a bit of background. I was born in Anchorage, Alaska. My first memory of a restaurant is the original La Mex (there are now several), playing with those gross cigarette machines in the lobby. Nice, right? If you find yourself in Anchorage, please go there. Please order the cheese enchiladas with extra rice. Go to the original La Mex. They haven't changed it since the 70s and it is very Regal Beagle (from Three's Company). Here is how much I love La Mex. Are. you. ready. for. THIS? Two birthdays ago Penn had my Auntie Nan FLY IN La Mex for my birthday. In coolers. He went on a mysterious mission (to the airport, which is about 15 minutes from our house) and came home all mysterious-like, and put something in the oven and then just casually brought me a plate of La Mex. Real, live, La Mex!! He's a good egg.

4. Dalvay-by-the-Sea - Prince Edward Island, Canada

If you're looking for a wonderful family vacation destination and love Anne of Green Gables (and who in their right mind doesn't?), I suggest you plan a trip to Prince Edward Island. Be sure to stay at Dalvay-by-the-Sea, in Cavendish. This is the place they filmed as the White Sands Hotel, people. It's right on a gorgeous red and white sand beach. Very duney. They'll even pack a picnic lunch for you. The water is unbelievably shallow and pretty warm - you can wade and wade and wade. Definitely rent a bicycle. You'll find yourself biking on an old horse and buggy road, through an an overgrown orchard, and by an antiquated grave yard. I mean, it's old. There are gravestones for people lost in shipwrecks, for heaven's sake. And when you're ready to eat, just pop into the hotel's restaurant. But make sure you have a reservation. And give yourself a lot of time because there are many courses and this is small town service, at its slowest. For dessert I insist that you try the "Sticky Date Pudding w/Toffee Sauce." It is so good that Penn requested the recipe and recreates it for my birthday every year. (He's a chef.)

5. Oyster Fest - Shelton, Washington

Okay, this isn't a restaurant. But it is the culinary highlight of my year? Penn and I go with his parents and we all start counting down until October, somewhere around the fourth of July. The night before is what we refer to as "Oyster Fest Eve." On Oyster Fest morning we get up bright and early and drive to Tacoma to pick up the folks, then head to Shelton, Washington for THE Oyster Fest. We are practically giddy with anticipation by the time we find a place to park and walk all the way to the front gates. And there it is. Oyster Fest. Dozens and dozens of little booths all over the place, practically calling our names. We always start and finish up at the Boy Scout's booth, where one can purchase $2 bowls of mussels. There are also clams, delicious and inexpensive lobster tails, chowder, and all kinds of oysters. There are tons of other non-seafood options, and two years in a row I made the mistake of eating a big bowl of apple crisp and ice cream, mid-fest. Big mistake. Who fills up with apple crisp when there are shellfish to be had? Me, and twice! Duh. We're always a little sad as we drive home from Oyster Fest, with our pants unbuttoned, in the post-Thanksgiving fashion. My mother-in-law is usually the first to say, "Well, only 365 days until the next Oyster Fest!" Yaaay!

So that's my list. I'm going to tag:

Teri @ Facedown in Romeo, Mississippi


Robin @ Robinznest in the northwest (like me!)

If I didn't tag you, you can still leave a comment about your favorite local or non-local restaurant. I love reading about where other people love to eat!!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Birthday Gladness

Today was the big day! Nicknack's birthday party. He doesn't turn one until the 31st, so I have a few more days to enjoy my baby before he turns into a big kid.

I'm soooo happy we had this party for him. Not just because Nicknack enjoyed himself immensely or because it was such fun to get all the people who love him best together in one room. True and true. But also because he is only one and won't remember all of this. This was the practice year. Thank heaven. I learned a lot in the process of throwing his party. Especially:

1. How to make and frost a cake. I (over)cooked the cake yesterday, and frosted it today. As I pulled out all the cake ingredients, I noticed my baking powder had expired in 2004. So I ran to the store. While there, I picked up extra chip and ice creams, more potatoes (since I'd made the potato salad too salty and wanted to add a few more), and a half dozen other things. Got home. Did NOT have baking powder. My dear husband ran to the store for me and brought home a fresh can. This morning I got out all the frosting ingredients, including the giant bag of powdered sugar. Only it wasn't powdered sugar, it was pancake mix. Another trip to the store. On the plus side, my potato salad was practically perfect.

2. How to decorate for a party. Did you know that helium balloons only last about 24 hours? I discovered this interesting fact this morning, as I opened the office door to a roomful of floor-level balloons. Arg! Also, I'd never hung streamers before. That was a pretty comical exercise. My perfectionism and Penn's height (about 6'5) resulted in a splendid streamer display, if I do say so myself. Luckily, we'll get to enjoy it for a few days, until Nicknack's official birthday.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are several photos, which will save you from thousands more words from me!

Yee ha!

Making music (his favorite gift, hands down)



...during (we cheered him on with such enthusiasm he began to clap for himself in between bites!)

...and after!

Penn and I often say that we are Nicknack's fan club. Although there are only two members, we are truly committed. We go to great lengths and make total fools of ourselves to entertain him. We make the biggest fuss over the tiniest of things, if they are in any way related to him. We hang on his every "word" and ooh and aah over every expression and fresh head of bed hair. Sometimes after he's gone to sleep at night, we miss him. We just can't get enough of this kid. We are his own private cheerleading squad. The best part of this day was sharing it with the people who love our little person. They aren't as hopelessly devoted as we two, but they definitely qualify for fan club membership, even if for only one day a year. Tomorrow things will go back to normal. Nicknack will wake up to find he has only two people wrapped around his finger. I am so grateful that I have the privilege of being his one and only mommy.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

My First Foray into Frugality

Yesterday I did something I've never done before. I used coupons at the grocery store!

Our weekly grocery bill has been hovering around $150 a visit for months. Not including diapers, formula, or toiletries. Or meat, which we buy from the butcher. It just seems a little much for two adults and a baby.

I have never been known for being frugal. I'm not exactly extravagent, either. Basically, I'm spontaneous. I don't usually have a plan, when shopping, so I just buy whatever strikes my fancy. We tend to purchase a lot of organic foods, which can be expensive. I have a lot of brand preferences. And my husband is a chef, so he has his own ideas about grocery shopping. He's a total food snob.

So I've decided to try to reduce my weekly grocery bill. And I started yesterday.

In the morning I planned out a few meals for the week. I also looked up the recipe for the croissant casserole (thanks Boomama!) I'm taking to tomorrows Bible study's annual brunch. Finally, I spent a few moments thinking about what I will serve at Nicknack's first birthday party, this Sunday.

Then I fished out the grocery store inserts from the recycling bin (my husband had already put them out because Tuesday is trash/recycling day). Penn was impressed that I'd gone out and gotten them myself. I usually call that kind of a task a "man job." Pretty much anything unpleasant, in my book, is a "man job." But I was that motivated.

I spread all the colorful circulars out on the living room floor and began the hunt for a pair of scissors. As I clipped coupons or circled specials, I created a shopping list. My husband looked on. Sceptically. I even had a $5 off coupon for Safeway and I noted that if I spent $30 on specially marked items, I would receive a $10 rebate.

I set out later in the day, Nicknack in tow.

It was kind of fun. Almost every single thing I bought was either on sale, matched one of my coupons, or was part of the rebate promotion. Except for baby yogurt and crescent rolls for the aforementioned recipe. I stocked up on Hebrew National hot dogs and black label center cut bacon and still only spent $123, not including the $10 rebate, for which I qualified. And I brought home a lot of good stuff.

I was so proud.

Until I woke up this morning. For some reason, the very first thing that popped into my head, before I was even fully awake, was "How come I don't remember unloading a grocery bag with the crescent rolls?" As I emerged from my sleep fog, I tried to remember putting those four crescent roll containers in the refrigerator or freezer. Uh oh.

I rushed out to the car (brr, is that garage floor is cold first thing in the morning!) and opened the Jeep's tailgate. I didn't see a grocery bag. I lifted the grocery cart cover that protects Nicknack from the perils of germs. There it was. One lone little grocery bag. Sigh.

I brought it into the kitchen, where Penn was making Nicknack's breakfast. He helped me unload the bag. Four crescent roll containers. Two containers of ice cream. And one six-pack of four dollar baby yogurt. Total cost: about $20.

I was really mad at myself. $20 isn't a big deal, but it just felt like a defeat after my efforts to be frugal. And don't you just get tired of making mistakes sometimes? Especially since this is the kind of thing that Penn would never ever do. He's just not that kind of person. He never drives home to find he's left the garage door open for six hours. He never forgets about laundry, mid-cycle, and has to rewash clean clothes that have sat in the washer wet for so long they smell like mildew. He's never, in his life, run out of gas or locked himself out of the car or house. He always knows exactly where he left his keys. And his cell phone. Which is always charged. He is so sensible and responsible. Sometimes it just bugs me. Just once, I would like him to do something absent-minded so I could be as gracious about it as he always is. He just shrugged off the spoiled yogurt and puddle of ice cream with an "Oh well, don't worry about it, honey. It's only money and I bet you'll never make this mistake again." I didn't have the heart to tell him that I'd left grocery store bags in the car overnight once before (only with the tailgate still open, on that occasion). I'd had the foresight to bring in all the perishables first, so it was only bread and soda. But he's right, I will be more careful in future.

Today I'm headed to Albertson's to replace the items that were ruined. I also plan to pick up some soda, because I noticed in the circulars that came in yesterday's mail that both Albertson's and QFC have 5 for $12 deals on Coke fridge packs. A girl can never have enough diet cherry Coke. And I have a couple of Albertson's coupons in my little coupon organizer.

See? I haven't given up the fight! Yesterday's defeat will not stop me from defending my family from grocery store gouging! I may have lost the battle...! Yada yada. You get the idea. Really, it's just kind of fun to find good deals and watch my tally decrease as the clerk scans the coupons. Kind of like free money. :)

Monday, May 21, 2007

Muddling Through

I spent the weekend playing catch up. I had a midterm and paper due today, and I've been procrastinating for about half of the quarter. As a result, I was way behind.

This is quite unlike me. I am normally the Hermione of every class. I do not want an A. I certainly can't deal with an A-. What I'm striving for is an A+. Preferably the highest grade in the class, but I'll settle for a 97% or higher. No, a high A isn't worth any more than a middle A, GPA wise. At least not at my particular university. But I like to have a cushion. A few points for wiggle room, just in case I have an off day. A 96 is so close to a 95, which is practically a 94, which is frighteningly close to a 93, which as an A MINUS.

I realize that as I get closer to graduation, my classes will begin to get much more difficult and my perspective may become a tad unrealistic, and need to change. But so far, this has been my attitude. Until now.

This quarter, I'd describe myself as a B+ student. I can't get over it, myself. When I haven't been having panic attacks about it, it's been very liberating. I just feel unmotivated to pursue excellence. Good enough sounds... good enough. And, although I find my economics and accounting textbooks very interesting (I'm not being sarcastic here), I have to make myself keep up with the reading. And, well, I have never been the kind of person who is good at making myself do the things I don't want to do. And we all know life is full of those things! So this tendency has been problematic for me. It's called discipline. And I lack it. It affects every area of my life.

This Includes my quiet time with the Lord. This morning I slept in and didn't get to my Bible reading until Nicknack was awake. Have you ever noticed that it is very difficult to concentrate on Exodus with Sesame Street on in the background? I found myself paying more attention to monsters singing "Fuzzy and Blue" (one of my favorites) than to The Priestly Garments and Conscecration of Priests.

Also, my lack of discipline means I weigh approximately the same as the day I delivered Nicknack. It's why I have a second pudding. And just one more slice of pizza. And pretend I don't notice the monstrously large (and unsightly) treadmill that sits in our living room. It's why I don't go grocery shopping until I've run out of eggs, I sometimes wash whites because I'm wearing my last pair of clean socks, and why I've started a "household binder" about sixteen times, but haven't finished. It's also the reason I wait until the last minute to do everything, which sometimes affects the people I love. "Oh, here's another gift certificate for your birthday, ________ (fill in the blank). I meant to shop for the perfect present, wrap it with love, and get it sent to you in time, but..." I guess I had more important things to do? Hardly.

From time to time I've prayed about this subject, but, guess what. I don't even have the discipline to regularly pray for discipline! Jeesh!

So, as a result of what is probably my greatest flaw (among MANY, so you know it's a problem), I spent yesterday locked in my bedroom, cramming for my exam and finishing my paper. I was in there for twelve hours, minus the thirty minute break I took to visit with Nicknack. I wasn't really THAT far behind, but getting through a textbook chapter takes me a looooong time. Like many of you, I sometimes read a for-fun book in one day or over a weekend. But when it comes to textbooks, I lose my mind.

As a child and teenager, I was diagnosed with ADD. They told my parents I would probably grow out of it. I don't know about that, but I have adapted and learned to work around some of the things that are typically associated with this diagnosis. My natural tendency is to start reading a chapter and then suddenly find myself, thirty minutes later, lost in thought about something totally unrelated. Arg. Start over. Then I read a page or two and realize I haven't actually taken in anything on the pages. Arg. Start over. I find that if I read aloud, that helps. But it slows me down. The other thing I do is take notes. Lots of them. At least ten pages per chapter. So that really takes time. The final thing I often try, which is the most time consuming, is to read every chapter twice. Usually I'll read each section, then repeat, then move on.

So that's why it took me the entire day to catch up. Perfectionism is a necessity, if I intend to absorb any of the material.

Penn is just the most supportive husband a person could ask for. He is so encouraging. He spent the day with Nicknack, and I have no doubt that he would make a much better stay at home parent. In addition to endlessly entertaining our little man, he made me a special breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When he was delivering one of many diet cherry Cokes he joked, "I think I had my kids too far apart!" I asked him what he meant. "Well, I have a baby to take care of AND a college kid to look after. Keep up the good work, college girl." Cheesy wink. When I finally emerged from my room after nine in the evening, the house was clean. It hadn't been messy, but it hadn't been super clean either.

I sometimes struggle with a defensive nature. My first thought, upon realizing that the house was spotless, wasn't pretty. This fleeting thought popped into my head: "I guess he's trying to show me how easy my job is." Like all his acts of service throughout the day, including bringing three meals to my bedside, where just to say, "See? This is what you should be able to accomplish every day, regardless of the baby."

I immediately recognized how silly these thoughts were. Penn is sooooo not like that. He's a very accepting person and, at least claims, that as long as I'm happy and the baby is happy, he is happy. Would he love to come home to a hot meal and freshly baked cookies each night? Of course. Does a spotless house improve both of our moods and outlooks? Most definitely. But that wasn't the message he intended to send yesterday. I know because I asked him, "You really are better at all this than I am, aren't you?" He rolled his eyes and pointed out that doing my job for one day isn't the same as around the clock, day in and day out. "That's true." I agreed.

But I'm not so sure. I think he and I both know that he really would make a great househusband. And I'm not the best homemaker in the world. I always thought that the second I gave birth I would be immediately transformed into the kind of mother who does everything perfectly. I imagined I'd be a better wife. And basically a perfect human being. You know, a "Mom." So it's been pretty disappointing to find that I'm still the same old me. Still naturally messy with a tendency to overcompensate with my label maker. Still bound to leave any social situation feeling that I've said the wrong thing. Still struggling to keep my temper in check over the little things. Still barely able to watch the evening news without sinking into the depths of despair. Still a waster of time. Still an unaccomplished chef, at best. And, above all, still undisciplined!

But one thing that I'm doing differently these days, now that I'm a mom? Not taking things to heart so much. I'm quicker to recognize flaws and keep moving. I've already grieved over all my shortcoming, as a mother and homemaker. I don't need to keep doing so every time I rediscover this about myself. Apparently many new mothers struggle with perfectionism. The most comforting words my mother has ever spoken to me were when she advised me to just "muddle through." She claims that is what she always did, and I certainly never noticed anything lacking in her mothering skills. I can only hope that Nicknack is as blind to my bumbling as I was to my own mother's.

I'm okay with the fact that my husband runs rings around me as a parent, spouse, chef, housekeeper, and launderer. God still gave the stay-at-home gig to me. All I can do is give it the old college try and assume that whatever I have to give is enough, and that God will make up the difference.

I accept the fact, barring a miracle, my gpa is going to take a minor hit. Oh well.

I'm still praying for discipline. But I'm reminded of something my uncle once told my mother. He said that religion is like antidepressants. Some people need it/them and some people don't. Only the weak need to believe in God, he said. To that I say, HALLELUJAH! Of course, I know that we are all weak and need God, but I'm hallelujah-ing the fact that He went out of His way to make sure I was extra lost without Him. I'm a hopeless mess! I don't see how I could ever get a big head, with all my flaws always biting me in the bee-hind. There is no way I could ever delude myself into thinking I don't need Him. That I could lean on my own understanding. Praise God for imperfections. Which, I guess, includes muddling mothering skills, haphazard homemaking, and B-pluses.

Now, what I want to know is why every time I sit down to write a two paragraph post about my day, it turns into an essay? In addition to discipline, I clearly lack brevity. So add that to the list.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Struggling in Seattle

I like Seattle. The weather isn't half as bad as you think. It's nice when it ought to be, in late spring and summer. And when it's shining, it's glorious. I've included a few photos of our backyard view, as proof. It's lovely. The mountains, the sound, the islands, the lakes, the trees.

Thanks to three cross country road trips, I've visited 45 states. (I still have North Dakota, Nebraska, Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina left.) And while certain places may tie this area for physical beauty, I've never been anywhere that beats it outright.

Nice, right? But it doesn't feel like home. Even after six years. There are so many people, but I don't know any of them. Wherever I go I feel totally anonymous.

We live in a lovely and quiet neighborhood full of little old ladies, many of whom have lived in their homes since ours was built, in 1959. They've known each other forever, and they stick to themselves. They will wave, but only if I wave first. I like our neighborhood. Great views, great park, great beach access. It's great. But it's surrounded by... how shall I put this. With the exception of a few small neighborhoods, our town (a semi-urban suburb of Seattle) is not-so-great. Not such great schools. Not such great houses. Not such great safety. And to go elsewhere requires a freeway. Oh, how I hate freeways.

We only get one earthly life, and who knows how long our go-round will last? I just keep thinking, is this where we really want Nicknack to spend his one and only precious childhood?

I want him to have the roots I never had. A hometown.

And I guess I don't want him to be as lonely as I am.

I know it's my own fault. I've lived in six states in the past decade. I've attended one year of college. I've attended three different high schools. I've never stuck around anywhere long enough to cultivate real friendships.

And I'm a homebody. I've turned down oodles of invites (over the years) to stay home in my PJs, sit on the sofa, and watch tv with Penn. I signed up for the Junior League. But then I got intimidated and never went back. And even when I have made friends, here and elsewhere, I've let them fall away. I haven't kept in touch with work friends. I've never taken them up on their (half-hearted?) invites to lunch or for drinks. What would I do with the baby? What would I talk about, other than the baby?

So I exchange a few pleasant e-mails a year with sort of old kind of friends from places I have lived. One friend from high school. Two from college. A few from Connecticut. They're going to do a marathon. Going to wine and cheese parties. Going to Greece. Going back to law school. Going out on the town. I've changed so much since we were really friends. We hardly know each other. Now we're just acquaintances.

My favorite people (other than my mother, of course), the people I really keep in touch with, are my aunts and my mother's lifelong friends. The women who have known me since babyhood. I love these women. Their opinions matter to me. I could talk to them for hours and hours and hours. But none live in my town. Or even my state. They can't pop over. I don't see them at the grocery store. I can't wave to them at church. I can't meet them for lunch or head to Target with them.

I want something more for Nicknack. A place that he loves and feels loved, with people he knows and who know him. Long term friendships with peers. A home base. With lots of happy memories. And I guess I still want all that for myself, too. If it's not too late. And Penn! He doesn't have a friend to do guy stuff with. A Christian friend to talk to. All his old high school and college buddies have chosen a very different road in life. And besides, he's home in his sweatpants, with me!

So this is where we are. I feel kind of stuck. Is it wrong to want something different when we are so ridiculously blessed? How can we discern what God wants? Are these selfish desires? Are these shallow dreams for our son?

Should we, instead, focus on the old, "Bloom where you're planted?" concept? Surely God could do something with us here in Seattle. This is a largely unchurched corner of the world. The needs are great. Has God put us here for a specific purpose? Or are we free to leave?

I'm hoping the latter. But above all, I really do want to do what God wants me to do. I realize that this life is not my home and I have a hometown waiting for me in heaven. Complete with main street, harvest festival, church potlucks, and white Christmases. Maybe not literally. But you know what I mean.

I feel so conflicted about this right now. What do you think? I guess I just need to mull this over with God for a while. Thank you for listening!

(This photo was taken June 26, 2006; Nicknack was only about one month old. He was so LITTLE!)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Home Alone

It's Mother's Day and I'm home alone.

I suppose that sounds a little odd. But what I really wanted today was a little time to myself. My days - weekdays and weekends - tend to run together. The only difference is whether Penn is home or not. But whether he is or isn't, it's still all about naps, bottles, meals, laundry, and that darn kitchen that will just not stay shiny no matter how many times I clean it. So today Penn took Nicknack to spend the afternoon and have dinner with his family.

This morning, we three attended church. Or to be precise, Penn and I enjoyed the service while Nicknack had a blast at nursery. As usual, after Communion, I snuck out to fetch him. (We like to have him with us so we can worship together, as a family.) By the last song, "His Love Endures Forever," the congregation's toes were tapping and hands were clapping. Not too shabby for Presbyterians, right? Nicknack clapped his hands, too! I guess the Spirit really moved him! :) It brought tears to my eyes and delighted his Dad to no end.

Time alone sounded good but it felt so unnatural to watch them pull out of the driveway. Without me. After waving like a mad woman and blowing dozens of kisses, I spent an hour "organizing" photos of Nicknack.

Then Penn called to confirm their safe arrival and I could breathe again and get down to the business of goofing off.

Penn had pulled out all the stops. He brought home a take-and-bake pizza, a bottle of champagne, a few of my favorite snacks, and a People AND US magazine.

I don't generally indulge in trashy magazines unless I'm sick or waiting for the Dentist or Doctor. (They tend to have an unhealthy effect on my spirit.) Wow, a lot of "beautiful people" have had babies since the last time I got my teeth cleaned! Also, there were a number of young people I've never heard of up to all kinds of unwholesome things. I guess I'm out of the loop. But Lindsay Lohan was still out whooping it up and Nicole Ritchie was still troublingly thin. I wonder if those two know Jesus. I hope so.

Okay, I have a confession. Am I a terrible person? I'm struggling with a mild case of Schadenfreude over this Paris Hilton situation.

I finished my magazines and decided they really weren't as entertaining as I remembered. They used to make me want to starve myself to a size two. Finance a Range Rover. Open a credit card so I, too, could have a Berkin bag. Or at least get on a waitlist somewhere. I guess these magazines are no longer a temptation to me (PTL), which makes them kinda boring.

I should have read an Accounting chapter or started my Economics paper. There were several loads of laundry with my name on them. And, of course, there was the kitchen. There is always the kitchen. Sigh.

But I didn't do any of that. I did a lot of the same things I usually do, such as putting off schoolwork and chores and spending too much time on the internet. Only guilt-free. Because it's Mother's Day, after all. I watched Molly Shannon on SNL (DVR). I read a couple sections of the newspaper. Best of all, I talked to my mother for over an hour. She's getting over bronchitis, so we decided to postpone our Mother's Day festivities until she's up to it.

Pretty soon I'll hear the garage door open. I'll jump off the sofa and race to the door. My little guy will all buckled into his Cowmooflage Britax. He may or may not be excited to see me. Doesn't even matter. He'll be sucking his gigi, wearing those footy pjs with the dinosaurs, and ready for bed. It's past his bedtime, so he'll likely be cranky. And I. can't. wait! Because I had a day to myself. It wasn't all that much fun and I didn't get as much accomplished as I thought. Tomorrow we'll be back to the same old same old, and that sounds just about perfect.

Friday, May 11, 2007

First Day at the Gym (For Both of Us)

Yikes! Step aerobics were a lot easier seven years and fifty pounds ago!

Today was my first day at my new fancy gym.

And I forgot to wear deodorant! I was in a rush, what can I say.

I wanted to get there super early so I could fill out all the paperwork for the "kid's club," spend a few minutes with Nicknack (since it's his first visit there), ask my instructor if her class ("The Ultimate Workout") was appropriate for beginners, and get a primo spot at the back of the room.

In actuality, I arrived just in time (sans deodorant) to scribble something on some paperwork, blow Nicknack a kiss, and have a ten second discussion with my instructor. She assured me that, although it was an advanced class with lots of complicated footwork, I was welcome to do just the basic steps until I got the hang of it.

It was meant to be a 75 minute class (half cardio, half weights and stuff), but I planned to (and did) duck out after the cardio. I will build up to the entire class, eventually.

Wow. Did it ever kick my boonie! I pride myself on picking up on things quickly and being coordinated. I was a cheerleader for TWO whole years, for gosh sakes. But this was some serious steppin'. I literally never got through the entire routine once. Not even close. When I finally did start to get the footwork down, I was too tuckered out to go on! But I kept moving, even when I just had to march in place. Which was fine. I just hope I didn't throw off any of the other steppers. One woman, kittycorner to me, gave me several sympathetic glances. She was a little lost, too, at times. But I was the worst, by far.

But I'll be back. I'm pretty competitive.

After the cardio fun was over, I went to pick up Nicknack. I was a little worried, because I'd had to just rush off and leave him with strangers. He has gone through pretty much zero seperation anxiety. (He's eleven and one half months.) And he's been spending a couple of hours at the church nursery twice a week since he was three months old. If ever I am tempted to skip my weekly Bible study or Sunday service I just think of how much fun he has with those nursery ladies and I get myself there. He just loves every minute of it, and why wouldn't he? Those sweet gals are so good to him.

So I was pretty sure he'd be fine, and I hadn't been paged or anything, but there was a little trepidation in my heart as I left the studio. By the time I approached the kid's center's door (about sixty seconds later) I had come to the conclusion that I was a terrible! mother!

"I probably should have stayed with him for a while. What was I thinking? This is nothing like the church nursery! WAY bigger! Ten times the number of children. And not seperated by age, like he's used to. Why, one of those giant oafy looking three year olds is probably pushing my itsum bitsum off a slide right this minute. Walk faster. Hang on baby, mama's almost there! Or wait. He and little Meghan, from church, have been known to get into spats over pacifiers and rocking horses. But she's a feist, like he is, and holds her own. What if my little menace has cleaned someone's clock? I hate bullies! At the very least, there is no doubt that he has thrown a temper tantrum. Lord help anyone who takes anything away from or has to say no to our little man. I should have warned them about that."

Whew! I was there. The very first thing I heard, before I'd even opened the door all the way, was a peal of laughter. His laughter. I don't know how to describe it, but just imagine the laughter of your baby, or your child when he or she was a baby, and you'll know that little giggle was angels' music to my ears.

I imagine there must have been dozens of other noises and voices, but his was the only thing I heard. Aha! This must be how penguin mothers pick their little one out of the crowd. God is amazing.

I scanned the room for my little penguin, eager to take him in with my eyes until I could get my arms around him. I'd been gone almost an hour, after all.

The room is huge. There is a little gym/court area, a quiet area with cribs and swings, a movie area, a baby-gated play area (where I'd left him), and in between all this, a half dozen toy stations. About 20 two and three year olds were sitting on the floor, watching a Disney video. (It's kid center's busiest time of day so they, smartly, choose this hour for movie watching. I don't hold it against them. It was a gaggle of children.) The baby area was full of caregivers with babies on their laps or in exersaucers. But where, oh where was Nicknack? I could still hear him squealing with delight.

Finally, I found him. He was all by himself, playing with one of those pretend kitchens. (I don't think I've told you this, but Penn is a professional chef.) Just standing there, turning knobs, opening doors, and just generally cracking himself up. He looked so little and silly from across that big room.

I could just eat him up.

You should know that Nicknack has never been a very demonstrative baby. For the first nine months of his life he showed little interest in me and never acknowledged, in any way, that he knew who I was. This bothered me at times. My Bible study ladies assured me that this is healthy. He is independent. He is well adusted. He feels secure. I wouldn't want a clingy baby, would I? Would I? Noooo, of course I wouldn't. Wink wink.

But in the past month or two he's delighted me by demonstrating mild happiness to see me when I pick him up from nursery or return from an outing. When I play on the floor with him I am sometimes on the receiving end of a hug. Or at least his version of a hug, which is more like a gentle headbutt. On the rarest of occasions, these are accompanied by a sloppy (but cherished!) kiss/bite. And every once in a while, if he's really tired, he'll let me rock him, like when he was little. If he's actually in the process of falling asleep, he'll rest his tired little head on my shoulder or under my chin. If he's not quite ready to give up the ghost he'll lay in my arms, looking at me. He touches my teeth (?), plays with my hair, or pats my face a little too hard as I wonder what in the world I did to deserve him. (Answer: nothing.)

My point is, I live for this stuff, and it's not an everyday occurence.

Today he pulled out all the stops. I got a headbutt/hug. I got a monster's kiss. I got another kiss. I got another hug. He crawled up and onto my lap. We played kitchen together for a few minutes, then he lifted up his hands for me to pick him up, and I knew it was time to go home.

During the car ride I kept thinking of that joy fillled giggle of his and reliving our moment together. I couldn't wait to tell Penn all about it. But I had to because I forgot my cell phone.

One of the many wonderful things about being somebody's mother is sharing it with somebody's father. Because there is only one other person on the planet who knows exactly what Nicknack's different laughs sound like. And will imitate each one with me, when we're somewhere together, without him. And missing him. He's the only other person who cares to hear every detail of our daily adventures. And, most importantly, he's the only other person who really and truly realizes how super cute our child is. Other people have the gall and audacity to think their kid is the cutest. It's the weirdest thing.

I came home, put Nicknack down for a nap, and called Penn.

Despite the fact that I made a total nerd of myself in class today, it was a wonderful first trip to the gym.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Birthday Cake Madness

Shortly after Penn and I married I decided that not only would I make memorable, amazing, and elaborate birthday cakes (just like my own mama's) for each of our children, I would do so for Penn, each year. It would be my "thing."

I chose a scrumptious sounding triple chocolate recipe. The most complicated I could find. And it was going to be huge. A Pollyanna kind of cake. I researched different theories in frosting. I took an online cake decorating tutorial. I purchased baking flour, baking sugar, and the finest butter. I bought the tools I would need. I was ready.

About a week before his birthday I had a thought.

My Mother-in-Law is a dear woman. She really is. BUT, she has one annoying habit. Wherever my MIL goes, she brings food. I'm not talking about, "Can I bring something?" and she shows up with a salad. I mean, she raids the food warehouse that is her kitchen, spends a day cooking, then has to make three trips from the car to bring in all her creations.

And they're, um... different. Some things are pickled. PICKLED! Almost everything has onions. (Did I ever mention that I have a near-phobia of onions?) The chips are the wrong brand. The cookies are sugar-free. The soda is GENERIC. It's just all wrong. And, besides, I've made or provided all these things! I just bite my lip as I watch her move my china dishes and crystal bowls and pitchers to make room for her tupperware containers full of some goopy-looking mystery casserole.

So, as I was thinking about this birthday cake I was planning for Penn, I thought of my mother-in-law.

I say to Penn, "Would you please call your mother and let her know that I'm making your cake so she doesn't bring one?"

Penn replies, "Oh, she would never just show up with a cake. She knows you're making it." (Penn always assumes things.)

I say, "I know you don't THINK she would bring a cake, but you don't KNOW that she wouldn't, so just humor me, and call her."

Penn answers, "Okay, I will."

Day of the party. I have spent hours sifting and stirring my heart out. The cake has cooled and I am about to begin frosting. The phone rings. It's her. I hear Penn on the other line.

"Okay, mother, sounds good. We'll see you then... Whaaaaat?! I thought I told you..."

Then I hear a bunch of urgent sounding whispering. And I just know.

I'm standing in the kitchen with my hand on my hips, eyebrows raised, covered in flour, when Penn shuffles sheepishly into the kitchen. With his mother still on the line.

Penn: "Uuum. I guess I didn't tell my mother not to make a cake."


Penn: Soooo. She's made a cake. Actually, two cakes. She's made two cakes. And a pie. Two cakes and a pie.


Penn: I can't really tell her not to bring the cakes and pie, after she went to so much trouble. We'll just have three cakes and a pie. More is better, right? (nervous laugh)


I was thinking about all those photos from my childhood birthdays and I was positive there was only one cake on the table. Because my mother did things right. One cake. One.

My face began to burn, my heart started thumping, and tears were welling up in my eyes. I know, I know, over a cake! But I was so mad! This is exactly what I knew would happen and this is exactly why I expressly asked my husband to make sure this didn't happen!

Being the mature and godly woman that I was/am, I threw my apron on the kitchen floor and stomped off to lock myself in the bathroom so I could feel sorry for myself and cry piteously, in private.

My MIL, who was still on the phone, wanted to talk to me. She had, er, picked up on the fact that I wasn't delighted by her contributions. Of course, it wasn't her fault, as her son hadn't told her about his new wife's OCD or her endeavors to make him this oh-so-special cake.

But I wasn't in a charitable mood. In fact, I don't think I've ever behaved so badly in my life. Well, actually, I have, and it involved my in-laws, but that's another story for another day. I actually refused to talk to my mother-in-law.

Penn was dumbfounded as he tried to hand me the phone. "Honey, she wants to talk to you!"


"But what am I supposed to tell her?

"I could not care less."

"You really won't talk to her? Are you serious?"


About this time Penn started to get upset with me. This was, after all, HIS birthday. Wasn't this cake supposed to be about HIM?

No, obviously not.

I spent the rest of the day getting ready for the party, working on the food, and doing some last minute cleaning.

Then, shortly before the guests were due to arrive, I decided it was time. Time to move my amazing creation to its proper place on the gorgeous cake stand we'd received as a wedding present. As I was lifting the cake from the counter to the stand, it happened.

My beautiful concoction just. fell. apart.

I just stood there in shock, unable to do anything to save my precious cake. (Notice I say my cake, and not Penn's? Let's be real.) What could I do? Believe me, you can't catch cake. In about two seconds it was over and there it was, in chunky chocolate heaps, all over my counter.

It was immediately apparent. There was no hope. No effort valiant enough to turn it back into something even remotely cake-like. It was unsalvagable.

And I was so glad! As my cake crumbled, I was humbled. The pride in my heart just melted. I knew I'd overreacted and handled things poorly. The anger died with the cake.

"Penn?!" I hollered. "Call you mother! Tell her to bring those cakes. AND the pie."

Soon after, my mother-in-law arrived, grocery bags in hand.

She was apologetic. I was apologetic. She was gracious. I was gracious. She hugged me and I hugged her back. All was forgiven. Thankfully, my in-laws don't get their feathers ruffled as easily as SOME people's families. And they don't hold grudges, either.

Her German chocolate cake (Penn's favorite) saved the day. Was it fancy? Nope. Was it fabulous? Not so much. The other cake was sugar-free, for the two family members with Diabetes. I hadn't thought of them. Of course. The pie was for ME! Let that sink in for a moment. The tantrum I threw was in protest of a pie made for me. Why, you ask, did she make a pie especially for me? Because she knew I didn't care for German chocolate cake. Because she's like that. I've never cared for German chocolate, Penn's favorite, so I chose to make something else on on HIS birthday. Because I'm like that. Me, me, ME!

We actually ran out of cake, if you can believe it. We ate all of her cake (well, not the sugar-free cake, there was plenty left) and had to break out my flop of a cake, or what was left of it. My mother-in-law declared her chunk delicious. And it was.

My MIL turned 80 this year. She is the eldest of 11. She has four children, with a fourteen year age gap between the oldest and youngest (Penn). So she's everybody's mom and she's used to taking care of everyone, which, in her book means feeding anyone who comes within 50 feet of her person. And that includes me.

In the five years we've been married, I haven't attempted another cake for Penn. I've purchased an ice cream cake, I've made cupcakes, and I've ordered a cake from a bakery. I've adopted a different attitude toward my MIL's bad habit. She is now more than welcome to bring whatever she'd like, foodwise, because it means a lot less work for me and, to be honest, my in-laws like her cooking more than mine anyway. I save the fancy menus, tables, and graces for visits from my own parents. They notice my efforts and make a fuss over me, which, let's face it, is what all this cake business is probably about.

Since I had a son of my own almost one year ago, I appreciate my mother-in-law in a new way. Now I know why she still treats Penn like her baby. Why she defends his truly horrifying 1987 senior picture hairstyle with a huffy, "Penn has always had BEAUTIFUL hair!" AND why she thinks he's the greatest thing since sliced bread and won't acknowledge any flaws or misdeeds on his part.

Every once in a while I think about my future daughter-in-law, and it's already bittersweet. I never thought about how incredibly important a person's choice of spouse is until I looked at it from a mama's perspective. This woman will be a part of our immediate family. She'll be the mother of our grandchildren. We'll have to share holidays with her family. We'll have to share our Nicknack. More than share. In fact, we'll be lucky if she shares him with us. She'll be Nicknack's best friend. He'll love her more than either of us combined. They'll take care of each other. They'll need each other. They'll have inside jokes and secrets to which we won't be privy. And she'll make his birthday cakes. And their children's birthday cakes, too.

It is with happy heart that I turn my thoughts to my son’s first birthday cake. He turns one on the very last day of May.

I'm trying to remember that this party is for him, not me. That if any part of it is stressful to me, that I'm taking it too seriously. That I need to share him with everyone who loves him. And most importantly, I'm trying to remember what I did wrong with that disaster of a cake!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

May Weight Loss Challenge

Today is the big day! All across blog land, ladies everywhere are uniting to do the one thing ladies do best. Start a new diet!

I'm glad it didn't start on Monday. Whenever I start a diet on a Monday and then fail at some point during the week I just decide to start over again the following Monday.

Sometimes I think that all the pre-dieting behavior (you know, one last this or that before I start my diet!) more than negates the benefits of dieting.

So I didn't do that this time and since we're starting on Tuesday, if I fall off the wagon I'm just going to keep going, rather than starting over at some future date. I'm not going to let perfectionism shoot me in the foot!

So here are my goals:

1. To fit into my pre-pregnany jeans - so that means about two pant sizes.
2. To fit into the jeans I wore when I married Penn - so that means another two pant sizes.
3. To fit into the jeans I wore when I met Penn - so that is one more pant size.

So in total, I'd like to lose five sizes, although I'm breaking this big goal into smaller, more attainable goals.

Once I acheive a goal, I will focus on the next goal. However, the most important thing will be to maintain each size, once achieved. Not to backslide. So that goal will trump all goals. I'd much rather just lose two pant sizes and stay there than to lose all five and return back to where I started.

I'm not into scales, but I will weigh myself only once, each time I achieve a goal. I tend to get too depressed if I have to acknowledge my weight on a regular basis and I don't want to fall into the depths of despair when I reach that inevitable plateau.

Plain and simple, my goal is to fit into all of the lovely and expensive clothing that currently lives in large plastic storage containers, labeled by size. (Did I ever mention how much I love my label maker?) I want to say goodbye (forever!) to all the plus sized loungewear from Target that I've purchased over the years on a "strictly temporary" basis.

My plans to achieve this goal include:

1. Joining a gym. There is a "super gym" about 15 or 20 minutes from us that I haven't joined because of the distance and expense. Who am I kidding? I don't have any social obligations or a job. I have time to drive the extra distance. Also, they have childcare. This is perfect, because my ladies Bible Study will be on summer hiatus and Nicknack will, therefore, no longer have his weekly nursery experience, which he LOVES. So this can substitute. Finally, said gym just sent a mailing with an offer for six weeks for $20! So even with parking and the cost of childcare that is affordable. I'm going to really milk this six week trial membership for all it's worth and practically live there. They have tons of classes to choose from, swimming, and even a three story rock wall. And while Nicknack is at the nursery I can also sit in the sauna, steam room, or jacuzzi! Yay! They even offer free baby swimming lessons, which I wanted to sign him up for this summer, anyway, so it's perfect!

2. Watching my portions and stopping to make a CONSCIOUS decision before I eat anything. I'm not going nuts. We already shop healthy but then supplement our whole wheat, free range, low salt choices with trips to Dairy Queen and candy that is hidden throughout the house. I just need to eat smaller portions and leave out all the obvious junky snacks.


No fast food.
No sugar treats (candy, pie, cookies, or cake - except on Nicknack's upcoming birthday!)
Nothing totally devoid of nutritional value (chips, pop tarts, etc.)

I'll post occasionally about how I am doing.

If you're on a diet or new fitness regime, let me know!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Pre-Summer Family Fun

EDITED: Photos removed.

Today was Nicholas's first visit to the zoo!

He wasn't into the animals, but he did love the people watching and the carousel! It was a wonderful day.

Usually when I go somewhere full of, well, people, I get annoyed about something or other. I guess I'm not really a people person? I tend to notice everything, which means I notice all the good things and also all the things that I shouldn't really notice. You know, the person smoking in a non-smoking area. The person giving their two year old soda. The person hogging the grocery store conveyer belt with their inconsiderate item placement! That's my pet peeve in life, which is why my items are all neatly stacked and smooshed together so as to take up as little space as possible. In fact, when I was pregnant, I once, um (how do I type this without sounding like a terrible person), "accidentally" gently nuuuuuuudged a woman in line in front of me who would not move forward to allow me the opportunity to unload my groceries!

I just always tend to get on my soapbox about something. I feel the irritation rise to skin level and then I'm off. Poor Penn has been on the receiving end of soooo many lectures and diatribes about others' imperfections. This from Mrs. Plank-in-the-Eye, herself.

But yesterday I started reading James. Why does almost every single verse hit me right between the eyes? Did James know me, personally? Ouch! Especially 1:19-20: "My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires."

Yesterday I prayed for god to replace my sinful tendency to be critical, judgement, and easily irritated. I want to be more patient, loving, and generous in spirit. And I know only God has the strength and power to change these faults. I come from a long line of perfectionism and criticism. I think our family motto had something to do with not "suffering fools gladly." The hawk on our family crest does look pretty sarcastic.

So today, I was delighted to see the Lord already hard at work on refining my atrocious character. I still noticed the usual things that might annoy me, but I noticed that I noticed. God pointed out all the opportunities I had to choose his way instead of my own. And just the gentle prodding of the spirit was enough. There were plenty of opportunities for eye rolls, but the usual venom didn't flow through my veins. I just noticed things, noted them, and let them go. As a result of God's work, I enjoyed myself even more than usual. There were no little annoyances to murk up a day full of clearly happy family memories.

Instead I got to focus on all the adorable children and their loving parents. The amazing animals and gorgeous scenery. The glorious weather, fragrant flowers, and blossoming trees. The (mostly) happy antics of our cherub and the proud adoration of his Dad. And all the many makes and models of strollers. Oh my goodness, the strollers. Not one person had our wonderful red Zooper stroller.

After our zoo outing, and Nicknack's afternoon nap, we spent the evening playing in the backyard. We even set up his kiddie pool. Weatherwise, it was a pretty impressive day for Seattle!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Things I Never Want to Forget

Things I never want to forget about carrying Nicknack (in no particular order):

1. The way he always had the hiccups! It worried me to no end;

2. The way he got up in the middle of the morning (between 4 and 4:30am) and bounced, jumped, and did a jig;

3. Singing "Teddy Bear Picnic" to him, especially in the bathtub;

4. Seeing his first ultrasound, at seven weeks. His heartbeat - bink, bink, bink - is why we started calling him Bink Bink, then Bink. In fact, a week after his birth we almost changed his name to Brinkley, because we couldn't stop calling and thinking of him as Bink!

5. The other ultrasound, when we got to really see him for the first time. He waved to us!

6. The joy of shopping at Babies R' Us and belonging!

7. The fun of setting up the nursery. Especially when the glider arrived, just sitting in it, rocking, and imagining
what was to be!

8. The cuteness of the little layette clothes and tiny little diapers!

9. Always wearing pink;

10. Packing for the hospital and buying new things (bathrobe, slippers socks, earrings) so I could look extra cute for this delivery (HA!)

11. Attending the birth classes and reading all the books and feeling like the most prepared (and therefore bound to be the best and most perfect) parents!

12. Always having him with me; taking him wherever I went;

13. Realizing what God had done for us and committing Nicknack to his care;

14. Walking into the bathroom to clean it and noticing myself beaming - just grinning! - in the bathroom mirror, without even intending to... I was just that happy!

15. Putting together the stroller, the crib, etc. It was a hassle, but so neat to see baby gear sitting around the house! Also, driving around with a car seat;

16. The fact that I always thought he'd be a boy, from the second I learned we were expecting. In fact, I'd actually bought some baby clothes before I even found out, because I couldn't resist their cuteness. And, for the first time, it was boy clothing I couldn't resist!

17. The fact that I always predicted he'd be late; he arrived one week after his due date.

18. Finally getting to obsess about baby names and having it not be weird.

19. Coming up with his name, even though it had never made our top ten list, or even been considered. Also, the fact that Penn and I tend to be on the same page about most things, even potential baby names;

20. The feeling of importance and meaning; I was somebody's Mama now. Penn and I felt like more than just a couple now - we felt like a family!

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Living in the Present

Since my post yesterday I've been thinking of how I long for the past. It's a new sensation. For the first 28 years of my life I was always looking forward.

When I met Penn and we started dating, I couldn't WAIT until we were exclusive and he was totally wrapped around my finger and head over heels in love with me. Check. Then I couldn't WAIT until he asked me to marry him. I think back about that period of time and I could just slap myself! I was so clueless.

Have you seen the movie "How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days?" When I saw that I couldn't stop laughing because it was so me! I tidied his apartment, "redecorated," and made him change his haircut and throw out a lot of (albeit horrid) shirts. And his pair of PLAID DENIM shorts. He truly needed me. But that's beside the point.

I did everything wrong, include basically rushing him into an engagement. Then I couldn't WAIT for the big day. I became totally obsessed with all the details of the wedding and honeymoon. Nevermind the relationship. You know, the marriage? How can one little person be so hugely flawed?

We had a two or three month break up, when we moved from Connecticut to Seattle. So that, of course, really helped me to gain perspective and do things differently when we got back together. Right? Right? ...notsomuch.

It was right back to the old "can't-wait" syndrome. I couldn't wait until we were engaged - again! Then the wedding, although what we planned was more low key. Although I STILL COULDN'T WAIT! Then we got married and right away, we were compromising about when to start family planning. Penn wanted to wait a few years. You'll never guess, but... I didn't want to wait. We met in the middle and because it took us some time to conceive Nicknack didn't arrive until we'd been married nearly four years. And praise be to God, the timing was perfect.

If I had a time machine, I'd go back and give myself this advice: Yes, you can wait! Stop obsessing about the future! To everything there is a season! Enjoy your life, wherever you are in it!

But I don't have a time machine, and if I had one, old me wouldn't have listened to new me anyway. It's kind of like how you can't tell a teenager anything. They tend to know everything, already. So save your breath! I wonder if teenagers where like that when Jesus walked the earth. But I digress.

So, as I shared before, I enjoyed my pregnancy. I mean, I loved it. For the first time in my life I wasn't looking forward or looking back. And, in hindsight, although I'd love to be pregnant again I feel so satisfied by my experience that it was enough. It was so good, and I was actually so present and conscious of how good it was, that it was enough.

Since Nicknack was 11 days old (that's the first time, of many, I looked at his one-day-old photo and cried about how much he'd changed), I've reversed my old bad habit of living in the future. I've started obsessing about the past. After my last post, I realized that this is just as wrong. The one time in my life I've really been totally content to live in a season without looking forward or later trying to relive it was our pregnancy. I look back fondly, but I don't feel the need to relive it and I don't feel the same bittersweet nostalgia as I do about Nicknack as a little baby. I just feel happy that I got to experience it.

I need to live that way now. Otherwise, someday I'll be looking at this period of my life and longing for it. I need to live this season fully, just totally enjoying all the big and little joys and not looking back so often. I can certainly look back and relish the past. But to long so for the past tricks me into missing some of the joy of right now. The enemy is so so crafty, isn't he? But this time, his victory was short-lived, and ultimately, he failed. The difference is that during those old days (years!) I was technically a Christian. But I wasn't looking up much. I still feel like a baby Christian, with mustard-seed faith, much of the time. But I really and truly believe and desire God. And he has been so faithful to work with me. He's really showing me what "to everything there is a season" means.

So even though I will continue to spend this, Nicknack's birthday month, looking back in my posts, I will not be constantly looking back in my day to day life. Instead, I'm going to concentrate on the adorable and amazing little person he is now and all the things I need to learn in this season of our lives together as DatDat, Mama, and Nicknack.

Friday, May 4, 2007

My Heavenly Pregnancy

Last night Penn and I looked at some of Nicknack's newborn photos together. Ah, Nicknack the newborn. He was the most precious thing you can imagine. It went by so quickly that I almost can't believe it ever happened. He was just so tiny and new. And now he's so strong and busy! Every day, several times a day, I wish for a time machine. Or magical remote. I'd love to rewind and relive, rewind and relive, rewind and relive. I don't want to lose sight of the present, of course! But I still long for the past, and he's only approaching his first birthday. I can just imagine how weepy I'll be when he graduates high school, gets married, etc.

But let's not think about the future. We're looking backward, again, today.

I'm thinking about what I was doing last year at this time. Let's see, I was hugely pregnant and full of anticipation. I had a very lovely pregnancy. No morning sickness. No heartburn. Pretty much bliss. I didn't work at all during the whole nine months so I took long baths, read lots of books about babies, spent hours planning the nursery and preparing his or her layette, and NAPPING! Lots of napping.

I just loved it. I loved the fact that my baby was always with me. I read out loud and sang to him all the time. I just couldn't imagine what he or she would be like. I was pretty comfortable most of the time. Penn absolutely spoiled me, even more than usual. Nightly backrubs, a big spa trip, all my favorite foods, all the time. I felt so important and special. I was somebody's mommy!

From the day I found out I was pregnant, I thought he'd be a boy. I also said, right from the beginning, whenever I'd tell people our due date was May 24th, that I thought he'd be late. He was born exactly one week after our due date. So I never was in a big hurry for him to arrive. Even as our due date approached, I was excited, but not in the usual "I can't wait I can't wait I can't wait I can't wait!" way I would have expected. For the first time in my life I just enjoyed a season of my life without looking forward to something "better." I knew I might never get to be pregnant again and I just absolutely savored every minute of it.

The 40th and 41st week were the only two weeks I really felt really uncomfortable. It became difficult to sleep and the frequent visits to the loo got to be a bit much. It was during these last two weeks of pregnancy that I finally felt ready for the baby, ready to bid my lovely pregnancy adieu. It was bittersweet to close such a happy chapter, even though I knew something even more special was waiting.

I wish every woman who desires to could experience pregnancy. A really blessed, comfortable, easy pregnancy, with no complications.

We used to enjoy Scrubs, although the past few seasons it has really crossed the lines of good taste and is not something we continue to watch. However, I did catch a few minutes of it a few weeks back. On this particular episode, different characters were apparently visited by ghosts. (I don't really believe in ghosts, myself.) Anyhoo, one of these Doctors (Dr. Cox, I believe) was visited by a former character who had been depressed and committed suicide. She gleefully told him that she was in heaven now and in heaven, she got to be pregnant! And, quite obviously, she was. It's hard to describe, but it was an "aaaw, how cute!" kind of moment.

This was silly episode of an even sillier show, but I thought it was kind of a neat idea. I don't know exactly what heaven holds for us, but it is fun to think about. Maybe all the centuries of women who have longed for a child, but never conceived (or worse, grieved for a baby lost in miscarriage) get to experience carrying a baby in heaven. If so, I hope they have an experience similar to mine, because I wouldn't change a thing!

Thank you God for such a sweet blessing. Your tender, loving kindness and mercy takes my breath away.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Infertility Saga, Part 2

When we did finally conceive, this is how it happened. (Not THAT part.) Every month I'd head to Seattle proper to have a follicle study ultrasound to see if I had a good sized egg waiting in the wings. When the ultrasound revealed the time was right, I'd get a shot from my OB/Gyn. Then we'd cross our fingers, say our prayers, and play checkers. Or something like that.

It was August, and we were desperate. We'd just accepted that the adoption door was closed, at least for the time being. Like many times before, we were cuddled up, side by side, in prayer. In our five years of marriage Penn and I have rarely prayed together. The first prayer we ever prayed together, out loud, was for a baby. We'd prayed done this before, but this time was different.

Here's a little secret. I'd never really asked God for anything before. I mean really, boldly ASKED him for something with the expectation that he might ANSWER. Even our prayers for this baby were accompanied by qualifications. Sort of, "...If this is your will, God, we would like to have a baby, but if it isn't your will we understand..." kind of prayer. No expectation. I was terrified to really, honestly, ask God for something. You know, directly. For one thing, it seemed a little rude. Surely God would give us what he wanted us to have. No need to be pushy! But even more than that, I was afraid. I was terrified that God wouldn't answer our prayer to have or be able to adopt a baby. Ever. People prayed every day without tangible answers. And for some reason, I felt that if I asked God directly for something and never heard back from him, that it might shake my faith. It might make me wonder if God was really there, hearing me. If he cared. If he was real. So I always gave God lots of "outs." Lots of "wiggle room." I had never really opened my heart and been completely vulnerable and talked to God like I really believed he was there or that he might help me.

Until the day Penn and I prayed together, in August. I was weeping. I remember asking God to please have mercy on us. I just kept repeating that over and over. Penn told God that this was our heart's desire and that we couldn't make this happen on our own. That we just completely gave up and put it in his hands. That we were counting on him as the only one who could give us this gift that we so desperately needed and wanted.

It's hard for me to explain how this prayer differed from the others. But it was a whole new level of communication. Honest. Raw. Real.

I'm not suggesting that people who never conceive or aren't able to adopt didn't pray hard enough! The power of prayer is a mystery. Almost as mysterious as the will of God. We will never understand it all until we're on the other side of heaven. The shroud will be lifted. Our vision will become clear. Our perspective will be eternal. And we'll see HIM. Face to face.

I don't question what God did for us. I just know that we threw ourselves at his feet and begged for mercy. And he took mercy on us.

Because the very next pregnancy test we took was POSITIVE.

Later that month I go down for my usual follicle ultrasound. But they can't find an egg. Any egg, anywhere. I meet with my very kind OB. She comforts me as I cry. It appears I won't be ovulating at all this month. This is something new! Oh dear. She's worried.

She sends me to have a blood test, on the off change I might have already ovulated, which would be a couple of weeks early, for me. She is highly doubtful. In all the months we've been doing these follicle studies, I've been ovulating at six weeks. This is not even week five yet. Her parting words, as I head out the door? "Maybe you already ovulated. Stranger things have happened."

Oddly enough, I let a little hope slip into my heart. I thought about how funny it would be if I'd actually ovulated like a regular person, at week four. Usually, when a hopeful thought slipped into my mind, I didn't let it stay there for long. I usually tried to balance it out with a healthy dose of skepticism. To avoid getting my hopes dashed to bits. But not this time. I just let that thought - that maybe I'd ovulated already - slip in one ear and out the other, without contradicting it.

The test reveals that I did, in fact, already ovulate. So we missed our opportunity for our little shot, post-ovulation. But instead of feeling discouraged, I felt hopeful. And again, I let myself without checking it like always. Hope is the most wonderful little feeling, isn't it?

Some time goes by. Hmm. Sorry to be graphic, but no visit from Aunt Flo. Now I KNOW that I've ovulated at least two weeks prior, because it was confirmed by the blood tests. More hope. Not over the top excited hope. Just a little tiny thought rolling around somewhere in my mind without any other thoughts trying to stamp it out, like usual.

I get up the next morning, and retrieve a pregnancy test from the Costco box. Yes, at this point we'd been purchasing pregnancy tests in bulk. I take the test. I set it down to wait the alotted time.

As always, I can't stand to wait that long. So after just a few seconds, I pick it up and watch the little box change sloooowly from left to right. It's almost immediately apparent that it is a plus, rather than the usual sad little minus.

My hand starts to shake and the waterworks start before my mind can even comprehend the results. Like my body realized the news before my brain did. Shock. Total and complete shock.

All I could think was, "Penn." I was on auto pilot. Before I knew what I was doing or saying, I was out of the bathroom and halfway across the bedroom. Penn was in a dead sleep.

"Penn, can you come look at something? Penn! I need you to look at something, please!" Only it sounded more like, "Penn-can-you-comelookatsomething?PennIneedyoutolookatsomethingplease!" I think I was quietly screaming.

He JUMPED out of his side of the bed. "What?! What is it!?" He always wakes up a little grumpy and his voice was a combination of crankiness and panick.

He later said he thought I'd woken him up to "rescue" (either save or smoosh, depending on size and scariness) a spider from the bathroom.

The I reached out toward him, with the test in my hand. I'll never forget the look on his face as he tried to comprehend what he was seeing and what it meant.

We sat down on the bed together and kept looking at the test. Then looking at each other. And smiling. And laughing. And crying. And hugging. And looking at the test again and again and again. For what seemed like a long time.

The only reason we weren't screaming and running victory laps around the house was because we had houseguests - my beloved Auntie Nancy and my dearest cousin Carla.

I kept saying, "Let's not get our hopes up. It's probably wrong." But I didn't think so. Penn pointed out that the line was very faint. Although, actually, that was the control line he was pointing to, but I was too flustered to notice. We called the 800 number on box and the loveliest customer service representative on the planet (at least that's how I remember her) on the other end of the line assured us that a faint positive sign is a positive sign. The faintness of the line isn't important. The line is.

I called my OB and scheduled an official test. (Thank goodness they don't kill rabbits anymore because I just couldn't and I'd have had to wait around wondering if was pregnant until it finally became physically apparent!)

Did I mention I had jury duty that day? Oh, well, I did. I had to get ready to go, act (to my aunt and cousin) like nothing out of the ordinary was happening, and go to jury duty. It was Friday, and I'd already served on a jury Monday through Thursday. We'd found a man guilty of DWI and I'd been thinking about him a lot. In fact, the night before I'd been in tears worrying we'd erred, ruined his life, and worst of all, hurt his feelings. As I drove to jury duty it occured to me that those might have been pregnancy hormones. Hmm. Maybe I really was pregnant! I was still in denial, at this point. And to be fair, I cry at the drop of a hat, so that wasn't necessarily all that telling. (But what happened at juror selection that morning was!)

I was the first person to enter the courtoom, so I sat in the front row. I was literally the first person called on to answer some questions from a potential case's prosecuting and defense attorneys. Well, first they asked the whole room a bunch of general questions. If you answered a certain way to a specific question they'd have you keep your hand raised and then they'd record your number. For example, did anyone have a close relative who worked as a police officer? That sort of thing. Throughout this process they dismissed about half the room. But there were still at least a hundred of us left in the courtroom when they began the individual interrogation, with possibly-pregnant, little old me.

First, the one attorney asked me some questions. Then the other. I was doing well until I was asked whether I'd already served on a jury that week. As I answered in the affirmative, I inexplicably began to cry. It was the kind of crying you do when you're singing at church. You know, you're trying not to cry and hoping no one notices? Trying to keep the tears that are welling up to stay in your eye, where they belong. Or maybe I'm the only person who does this. I cry almost every Sunday.

They kept asking questions and I kept thinking about this unfortunate man and his unfortunate choice and his unfortunate situation. Pretty soon my face was burning (and probably quite red and splochy) and the tears were refusing to stay put. I tried to discretely pat them away.

Youngish, handsome-ish attorney: "Ms. Hox, Is there any reason you do not wish to be selected as juror for this trial?" (in a loud, booming, voice)

Me, Ms. Hox: "yes." (sniffle)

Handsome Person: "Yes? er - Yes, you DO have a reason you do not with to be selected as a juror?" (less loudly and no longer booming)

Me: "yes." (sniffle sniffle)

Hot Stuff: "Oh. And would you please share that reason with the court?" (now speaking like a normal person)

Me: (sniffle sniffle) well. um. (sniffle) because I've been thinking a lot about the trial I served on earlier this week. (sniffle) and, um. (voice getting high and all sentences now sounding like questions) um, it's just really been weighing heavily on my heart. (sniffle, shoulders starting to heave) um, I guess I've been second guessing our decision. (sniffle sniffle sniffle sniffle) and so, um, I just think it might be too much responsibility for me and that someone else would make a better juror. um. (sniffle)

By this point, the attorney clearly notices that I am crying. He's smooth, though.

Smoothy Smootherson: "Well, Ms. Hox, wouldn't you agree that jury duty is a serious matter and that jurors should take such a responsibility seriously?"

Me: yes...I suppose. (I can feel my eyes swelling shut as I speak)

Perry Mason: And, wouldn't you agree that the fact that you take your role as a juror so seriously makes you an ideal juror?"

Me: no. (barely audible)

Ben Matlock: "No?"

Me: no. (squeaked)

At this point, this handsome lawyer person finally gave up. There was a long pause as the the attorneys whispered amongst themselves.

Suddenly very sympathetic sounding attorney: "Ms. Hox, would you like me to request that the judge dismiss you from jury service right now?"

Ms. Hox: yes, please. (in a very small voice)

There was a long pause as the attorney and judge whispered amongst themselves.

Nicest attorney in the state of Washington: "Ms. Hox, the court thanks you for your service this week. You are hereby dismissed."

Me: thank you. (in the tiniest voice in the state of Washington)

Now is the super fun part in the story where I get to leave the courtroom. You know how when you're in church or at a movie and you get up to leave while everyone else in the row wishes to remain? So they all have to stand up as you shuffle by and try not to step on their toes or trip over their purses?

Being the first person seated in, at the far end of the row means I have to do this down the entire row, as I whisper, "excuse me. thank you. sorry. oops. excuse me. thank you." Sniffling all the way.

I also am at the front of the courtroom, while the exit is located at the rear. So now I get to walk down the aisle, like a bride without her groom. A very choked up, with a red face, tears streaming down her face, shoulders heaving as she tries not to sob kind of bride. Best of all, a snot running out of her nose kind of bride. Pretty!

I get a lot of curious looks (from public defenders, potential lawbreakers, and officers of the peace) as I hurry down the corridor. Of course, I don't have a tissue. I don't have allergies, it isn't cold season, and I'm not a mom...yet. Well, not technically.

I stepped out into the sunlight and started trying to remember exactly where I'd parked, and started to laugh. I'd just been the biggest fool I'd ever made of myself (and I'd made a fool of myself plenty of times before and since). As I started Mossy (our Jeep) I said outloud, to no one in particular, "I'm either pregnant or I have LOST it."

Our plan had been that I would wait 24 hours and take another test the next morning. But who was I kidding, I took another one the minute I walked in the door. I also took a third one a few days later just to make sure I was still pregnant. It was such a victory.

Anyway, after the second positive result, I called my mother. She's an elementary school counselor, so I expected to leave her a voicemail. But she answered.

I hadn't thought ahead about what I wanted to say. What eloquent and memorable and heartfelt way I could tell her the exciting news. was memorable and heartfelt. The second I heard her voice, I became hysterical. "I'msittinghereholdingnotonebuttwopositivepregnancytests!"

My mother claimed she couldn't understand me.

I took a deep breath, to regain my composure and tried again. "I'm sitting here holdingnotonebuttwopositivepregnancytests." Boo hoo, etc.


"That's what I thought you meant!" Boo hoo, etc.

We squealed about it until she had to hang up. Children in her office and all.

When I called Penn to confess that I'd already told my mother he'd already called his!

We obviously didn't observe the tradition of keeping this kind of news private during the first trimester. Within a couple of weeks I'd told everyone I could think to tell. I have never been one to keep a secret - I just always tattle on myself. I always keep the secrets with which others have entrusted me, of course. But this was our news and boy, I blurted it out to grocery store checkers, catalog telephone operators, and pretty much anyone who had the good fortune to be in or around at our nearest outlet mall. Because, of course, I hit Carter's and Osh Kosh and Baby Gap when I was, oh, about three weeks pregnant.

We taped the pregnancy tests on the fridge. Hygenic, right? Well, I put the little plastic caps back on.

In a few days we had the official call of congratulations from my cautiously optimistic OB, Dr. Susan Harvey.

I still have those old pregnancy test sticks in a plastic container. Unfortunately, I've noticed that you can't see the plus sign anymore. These things don't stand the test of time, apparently. So I suppose I can throw them out. But I probably won't.

I don't know if I'll ever get to experience another positive pregnancy test. I've taken a few, since Nicknack's birth. We aren't actively "family planning." We've learned that what God has in store for us is better than what we could plan for ourselves. So that takes the pressure off. We don't have to make decisions about how many years to space our children. We'll wait a while and if none of those plus signs make an appearance we'll knock on the adoption door again. When the time is right. When we feel led.

I don't know if God has any more children in store for us. I don't know if I'll ever carry another child. I don't know if God will allow us to adopt. Or whether he'll bring foster children into our lives. I'd love to have more children, but I don't long for them, as I did for Nicknack. If I never have another I am content. The Lord has given us our heart's desire. He's sleeping in his room right now. How I hope he gets the desire of his heart, and how I pray that he'll know and love our God who created him and does all things well.