Napping strike??

Suddenly, in the last two or three days, Mae has decided to not take naps. She just lays in her crib and cries and screams. For 20 minutes or more. She used to cry for a little bit and then would drift off to sleep.

I have been at the end of my rope about this – the middle of the day comes and I want nothing to do with her anymore. I don’t want to hold her, I don’t want to be around her. I’m simply beyond annoyed with her and no amount of “I’m happy to see you!!” smiles can wipe away the irritation.

I’ve been trying to identify the source of her sudden sleep strike.

We just moved her to cloth diapers, but she sleeps fine at night in them.

She is teething. Today, I gave her some teething stuff before nursing and laying her down. Yet I still hear her screaming upstairs.

She napped a little over an hour ago – only about 15 minutes so that could be the problem. She naps fine when I’m holding her, but I’m not going to hold her all day so she can sleep. And I don’t want to spend an hour rocking or whatever, either.

I’ve asked Google why she’s not sleeping, but Google has no answers for me.

I know this is all part of having a baby, learning all these things, but listening to her cry so much during the day just wears me down. I just want to make the house super loud and put on headphones so I can’t hear her anymore.

Man I’m tired. I suppose I should go check on the screaming child.

Trying New Things

Yesterday, we transitioned Mae to cloth diapers.

cloth diapers

That was something we had talked and talked about doing before we ever had her. We had decided to go for it, but as we researched it, we found it to be almost prohibitively expensive to start. Over $350 for 15 diapers or something. Of course, these things tend to eventually pay for themselves, but we just didn’t have the cash to drop at the time. So we did disposables just like most other people for the first nearly 5 months of her life. Then one day, I hit craigslist for something (probably daycare toys) and came across a deal for 20 diapers for $100 (which actually ended up as 22 diapers).

We decided to finally go for it. It seemed inexpensive enough to give it a real good try. So we drove to their house, picked up the diapers, asked 20 questions, came home, and then the diapers sat. First on the entrance table, then in a box, then into bags, back into a box – for probably two weeks. First we didn’t know what accessories we were going to get, then we didn’t have the right detergent, then we didn’t have the waterproof bag to put them in and excuses on and on and on.

ducks-in-a-row-21

Finally, we got our ducks in a row and yet, I still hesitated to start. Why?

We had everything we needed. We were going to be home all weekend. Heck, I’m home ALL. THE. TIME.

When I sat down to think about it, it occurred to me that I was actually feeling anxiety about starting these. Anxiety? About cloth diapers?

So in one of my free moments that I selfishly took during the weekend, I thought about it. What is the big hairy deal? What I discovered is that it wasn’t necessarily the cloth diapers and the extra work involved and all that – it was simply starting something new. It turns out, I’m fairly a creature of habit. I like to do what is familiar to me and I have a hard time incorporating something entirely new into what I do. The reason why this causes me anxiety is because I don’t know what to expect. I don’t know how it will end.

What if I’m terrible? What if I don’t get it? What if it doesn’t work?

I think back and I remember having anxiety about getting pregnant. I had anxiety about giving birth. I had anxiety about starting cloth diapers. All of these were completely foreign events to me.

Some people LOVE adventure, they LOVE new things, they can’t WAIT to try them. I am not one of those people. While on the surface, that may not seem like a terrible thing, it can be a barrier to growth. If I never move outside of my comfort zone, I never grow, develop, learn, or mature. I stay exactly where I am and who I am.

Which, to me, is unacceptable.

We aren’t meant to be stagnant, to stay in the same place doing the same things for our entire lives. We are meant to grow and develop, to become the best person (or representative of Christ) that we can be. Admittedly, it’s much easier to stay where I’m comfortable. I know what to expect, I know what is expected of me, and I have a good idea of how things will turn out. It’s much more difficult to jump into a foreign situation and just see where it takes me.

It’s the same thing in our spiritual lives, too, isn’t it? We like to keep doing what have (or haven’t) been doing, the same time, the same way, and yet we wonder why we aren’t growing. Why does God seem distant? Why am I not hearing his voice anymore? Am I even making a difference? Does anyone notice that I’m a Christian or do I need to get a face tattoo to say it for me?

tattoo

At church, our 2014 initiative is to read and live the Bible more than we’ve ever done before. I have to admit, so far, I’m not doing so great. I’m busy, I forget, I make excuses. The truth is, if I want to grow, I have to make it a priority. Like I said in my last post, I have to be intentional about doing it. I’ve been more intentional about reading my daily Bible verse emails before I check facebook or other emails. I still have work to do as far as consistently doing the daily readings, but I’m getting there.

I need to lower my expectations for myself. I always expect myself to do things perfectly the first time, as though there is no learning curve. That is probably also a likely source of the aforementioned anxiety. So what do I do? I think I can boil it down to a few steps.

1. Intentionally try new things.
2. Learn from my mistakes instead of beating myself up.
3. Apply the lessons.
4. Relax and keep on trying new things, like grabbing my feet.

Mae

What are your seemingly strange sources of anxiety? How do you cope with them?

The Rainbow Bridge

This post has been sitting here on my computer for over a week now. Things have been a little busy here.

Last week, my parents put down our first dog.

Weiner

He was old – 14 years. He was mostly blind, mostly deaf, fairly gimpy. He was grumpy – kennel and food aggressive. It was time. Of course, that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to say goodbye for a friend of such a long time.

The presence of death always gets me thinking about life, though. Mostly my dog’s lives – are we giving them everything we can considering the short time they are with us? It is easy to think “I should take them on more walks or get out to run more at the dog parks” or something like that. The more I think about it though, the more I think that it’s less about the activity and more about being intentional with the time we have together.

Dogs have somewhere between 10 and 20 years. Naturally, the bigger the dog, the fewer years we have together. We have two big dogs. I probably have somewhere around 10 years left with them. A short decade before they make the same walk. Am I doing justice to the time we have together and what really does that mean?

What about my own life? Am I doing justice to my own life? Building up a good example for my daughter in how I live? How I treat others? How I treat my dogs? What lessons am I intentionally and unintentionally passing along to her?

In college I had a friend who was terribly klutzy and fairly irresponsible. Always late, left perishable food items out for hours, walked or bumped into everything, super forgetful. We were good friends, but I knew that I didn’t want to be like her. As we talked and grew our friendship, I realized that she was like that because she floated through life. She was so distracted by baggage and how she saw herself that she wasn’t able to focus on the present moment. I want to focus on the present moment and be intentional about my life and what I’m doing.

Of course, living like that is really hard.

It doesn’t allow for excuses to get in the way of why things aren’t done or why I did something foolish. I have to accept all consequences for all of my actions – I chose to do one thing over another, knowing full well that I should do the other thing. We have seasons of more busy and less busy, more tired and less tired but that shouldn’t get in the way of living with intention. Figuring out what kind of life I’m building, being aware of the character I’m building, remembering that I am slowly building and creating. Who I am in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years depends on the choices I make today. Making better choices today leads to me being a better person in the future.

My dogs may have a short time on earth, but so do I. I am only lent the time, talents, money, friends, and family that I have. I am a steward, a manager of these things. How well am I managing? Somehow, at the end of my life, I don’t think that “I was too tired to do this or that” will be an acceptable response.

Love God. Love people. Take care of the things with which I’ve been entrusted.

When I think about Weiner, I’m reminded to enjoy the present moment. Dogs always live in the moment – not worried about making amends for the past or plans for the future. They enjoy the moment and family is everything. May I not forget this lesson so quickly.

My first marathon

I ran my very first marathon this weekend. Yep, 26.2 miles of non-stop forward movement.

It. Was. Brutal.

I was feeling great at mile 12, when I first saw my husband, James, and baby, Mae, mother-in-law and her fiance. “9 miles in 99 minutes!” I promised the family as I dashed away.

I was on track for a sub-5 hour marathon by the half-way point, having reached it just under 2 1/2 hours

Then I started to get a little tired, then my hips were aching and my feet were killing me. My back started hurting. I tanked around mile 17. Everything hurt. Running was a struggle. Walking was even more painful. I knew there was a drop out point less than a mile ahead of me since I had come across it on the way out of this out-and-back section.

I remembered that James and Mae would be waiting for me at mile 21. If I dropped out, it would probably take quite a while for the news to reach them. They would be there, waiting for me, worried about me. My mom was at the finish line, waiting. My dad was on his way back down the course looking for me to finish with me. I knew I couldn’t stop. At least not until 21. Four agonizing miles to go.

I walked a bit. Hobbled is probably more accurate. It was so painful, so I ran, or more accurately, shuffled. I had no energy to run, but I had even less energy to deal with the pain of walking. I heaved my body. My breath was short a few times. I wondered if I should stop at that ambulance up there and ask if I was okay.

I finally made it back into my neighborhood, where I knew mile 21 was just ahead. I looked and looked for family. I saw a friend first. Amy started walking toward me as soon as she saw me coming up the block. I shook my head at her and burst into tears. “I hurt so much!”

She rode her bike with me as I continued along. Finally, a few blocks up, I saw James and Mae. There people were in the street, blocking my path to them, wanting high-fives. I begrudgingly obliged and then swung around them and flung my arms around James’ neck and burst into tears again.

“Are you in pain?” he asked.

I nodded on his shoulder and sobbed.

“Where?” he asked.

“Everywhere!”

He gave me a kiss and I forced myself to keep going. I wanted to quit so bad, but seeing them gave me just enough hope that I could actually finish, that I continued. I asked him to meet me at the finish line. He said he would.

Amy and I continued along, very slowly. I stopped to walk when I couldn’t take another step running. I forced myself painfully to start running again when I couldn’t take the pain of walking anymore.

We crossed the bridge in Minnesota and I saw my county sheriff friend who took my picture and encouraged me along the course. I told Amy who she was and how I knew her. I chatted every so often about nothing just to help keep my own spirits up. It was hard to not think “If I had only done the half, I’d be done by now” or some similar thought. It was hard to push the thoughts of giving up out of my head. A pair of women and I kept passing and re-passing each other. They encouraged me to keep going, I just nodded. I gratefully said thanks to anyone along the road who gave me a bit of encouragement. I gave people thumbs up and told them good job.

Finally, I saw my dad at about 2 miles to go.

“I’ve been looking for you!” I exclaimed, having expected to see him much sooner.

“I’ve been looking for you, too.” He said. He got a blister and couldn’t run as far down the course to find me as he wanted. He walked alongside while I shuffled, now more determined than ever to finish. The longest 2 miles of my life.

We got back into downtown and I knew I was almost done. Amy peeled off to go to the finish line, leaving my dad and I just a few blocks to go by ourselves.

“Holy crap, dad. I just ran a marathon.” I said with two blocks to go. I was going to finish now, unless I dropped dead at that moment. I saw my mom as we rounded the corner. I saw James and Mae. My dad dropped off, and I headed straight for my little baby. We walked the last 20 or so feet and crossed the finish line together. I cried and clung to her, kissing her head. “We did it!” I told her. 5:55:54.

We tried walking home, but walking hurt for me. My dad went ahead home, got the van and picked us up. I couldn’t do much more than hobble the rest of the night. I discovered that in my six hours on the road, I got a nasty sunburn – on my face, my legs, my arms.

 

There is no way in the world that I could have finished that race without the support of my friends and family. They are the ones that gave me the strength to keep going when I wanted to quit. To persevere when I wanted to give up.

That’s life. That’s why God gives us  friends and family. To help us when we don’t have the strength to carry on. That’s why there are times when we have to throw our hands up and say “God, it’s yours. I can’t do this.”

I was reminded of that this weekend. I was reminded that I need to let go and let God much more often than I do. I need to remember once again what my priorities are and live by that. If my faith is a priority, then I have to give it priority. I have to take the time to read my Bible and absorb what it’s saying. I have to take the time to pray. If my family is my priority, then I need to rearrange my life so that they get the best of me and not what’s left of me. If my friends are my priority, I have to make the time to hang out more than once a quarter. I have to make the effort to connect. I know what’s important to me. It’s why I quit my job to stay home. Sometimes, I forget that. I get so caught up in the day to day, the interruptions in the schedule I’m trying to create, the frustrations of a little one who doesn’t do exactly what I want when I want her to do it, the annoyance the UPS or FedEx people come during nap time – I have to remember grace in the minute, patience with my circumstances, and always treat my priorities as though they actually are my priorities.

This marathon was terrible. It was hard. It was long. Giving birth without pain meds was easier than this, I think. However, through it all, I got some clarity that I needed. I’m finally walking like a normal person. My sunburn still stings. My name is sunburned into my arms because we wrote my name on my arms so people could encourage me during the race.  My big toes still hurt a little bit. My back is still a little sore. My head is much clearer.

And I’m already thinking about when my next marathon will be.

Working to be better

I read a few interesting articles this morning. One was on the imminent retirement of the baby boomers and another on the imminent population crisis in China.

They were both related in that our populations are getting older and there aren’t enough young people to replace and take care of these older generations through government programs or pensions. As countries develop and infant mortality drops, people have fewer children because each child is more likely than not to reach adulthood.

China’s dilemma is a result of their strict population control measures – one child per family. People are starting to realize a disastrous unintended consequence of this. Since males are the preferred only child, there are LOTS of young men arriving at marrying age, but because of female infanticide, orphanage populations, and adopting out of country, there aren’t enough young women for them to marry. This will continue to devastate China’s population as not enough women mean even fewer children. This also makes life more dangerous for women as desperate men do what they feel they need to in order to obtain a wife, including kidnapping women from population centers and taking them to rural areas where their options are extremely limited.

These articles in conjunction with the viral abortion video (which I am intentionally not linking to) are a sad commentary on our values today.

We leave the government to take care of our elders instead of taking care of them ourselves. We terminate or abandon babies if they aren’t the correct gender or if they are inconvenient. The worst part is that as a culture, we don’t have a problem with this. We believe it’s our right as individuals to pass off our responsibilities to our families who took care of us or children that we create.

Yes, having kids (at any time) is inconvenient. Yes, care of your parents or your in-laws when they are older is inconvenient. How did we become so obsessed with convenience? We are all guilty, myself included. I am not perfect – just ask my husband or my mother in law. I can get a little bent out of shape when things are inconvenient for me and not be as gracious as I should be.

I see these bits of culture, and it’s so easy to say “things were better back when…” but I think the truth is that we as humans have never changed. We have always been this depraved. Some eras usher in more moral conduct than others, but there is always this underbelly of abhorrent behaviors. Some eras usher in the acceptance and normalization of abhorrent behaviors.

None of use are exempt, either. We are all, myself included, part of this abhorrent underbelly. Maybe I don’t do this or that behavior, but I think it. I think judgments and criticisms that I would NEVER say, but I might as well have said it. Thinking it and not saying it is only slightly better than saying it. It still shows the state of my selfish and prideful heart.

So how do I become different?

The only way to be different than culture is to value that which is completely opposite of popular culture. To believe in something that popular culture doesn’t.

As a Christian, I do believe things that are the opposite of popular culture. Unfortunately, I’m only human and a hypocrite. I believe things and value things but act the total opposite. I say something important but act as if it isn’t.

We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me.For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me.For in my inner being I delight in God’s law;but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in my sinful nature a slave to the law of sin. 

Romans 7:14-25

We are all a work in progress. Thankfully I don’t have to be perfect, just working to be better.

Learning to say no

I have a hard time with No.

I can use it. I say it every day with the daycare kids and with the dogs. And I use it when I’m asked to upgrade or supersize this or that.

What about when it comes to managing my life and my time, though?

I have a great sense of responsibility – an overdeveloped sense of responsibility, actually. If I say I’m going to do something, well, I’m going to do it!

Even when it means sacrificing me time. Even when it doesn’t make sense. Even when it’s downright stupid.

I took one week of maternity leave because I didn’t want to leave work hanging since, at the time, I was the only person who knew how to do my job. My first daycare kid comes at 6:30 am three days a week. I answer the door when I’m upstairs pumping milk to people I honestly don’t want to talk to. I say yes to just about anything anyone ever asks me as long as I’m actually capable of doing it. Actually, I don’t think it matters if I can do it, I’ll say yes anyway.

Why do I do these things to myself?

I know what the outcome is going to be. I’m going to get burned out, start feeling resentful, and take time away from the things I want to do.

Like read my Bible. Or run (I am running my first marathon this weekend and my last two runs were the last two Saturdays. I’m suppose to taper, but I think this is excessive). Or write. Or read. Or just rest.

Part of it is that I genuinely want to be a helpful person. I want to help people out. I want to be dependable. I want people to be able to count on me. The part I forget about is “at what cost?”

How is what I’m doing affecting my attitude, my mood, and my relationships?

Why am I so afraid of taking care of myself? Why am I so obsessed with not letting people down? I know it’s not convenient for others for me to back out of something I said I’d do if it’s not working, but why continue pushing and trying to make something work that isn’t? Why try to force the issue?

I am so quick to accommodate that I fail to actually think things through. I say yes before I think about how this yes will affect what I already have going on.

In the end, I have to take care of myself first. If I can’t do that, I certainly can’t take care of my daughter. Or my dogs. Or my husband. Or my house. I have to force myself to remember that I am only human, a mere mortal. I can’t do it all, nor should I. I cannot be the answer to everyone’s dilemmas. If I am going to enjoy life and my opportunities, I have to give myself the time do so. When I’m so busy flying from one thing to the next, I don’t have time to enjoy anything.

Do you have a hard time saying no? What works for you to make sure you preserve time for yourself?

Continuing to grow

Last summer, we finally were able to take out our terrible cement front steps and replace it with a much nicer looking front porch.

We also had some not so beautiful looking peonies in the flower bed next to the steps. These are nicer looking ones than we had.

peonies

We agreed that it was finally time to pull those babies up and get rid of them. I haven’t liked them since the day we got the house.We pulled them up and gleefully said goodbye to our not-so-favorite plants.

I was looking forward to a fresh, empty flower bed to work with this year – to actually plant some flowers, take care of them, and not have to compete with those bushes of flowers.

I went outside Friday and this is what greeted me from the flower bed:

more not dead plants Not dead Peonies

They are growing back. Apparently we didn’t do a good job so that they would be gone for good.

It got me thinking, though. How often does this happen in our lives? We think we have completely gotten rid of something inside us that we detested just to have it pop its little head out of the soil of our hearts again and keep growing?

For these flowers, my lack of knowledge about them is what caused this regrowth. I don’t know anything about how they grow back and what part of the plant in the soil regenerates the live plant every spring and how to effectively remove that.

Isn’t it the same with our nasty little habits? We don’t fully understand them. We don’t know what causes them to keep coming back. We think we know how to get rid of them, but they come back again and again.

What can we do to fix this?

For the plants, it’s called the Internet. “How to effectively remove peonies from garden”

For life, it’s a bit more complicated, isn’t it? There is no Googling “How to stop hating [insert person from past]” or “How to reconnect with my crazy, drug-addicted-but-doesn’t-realize-it parent” or “How to stop berating myself internally for every little teensy mistake I make”. We have to observe ourselves. What mood am I in when I overeat? What does my mom say that drives me crazy and makes me start arguing with her? What are the characteristics of situations that provoke conversations in my head with past boyfriends or girlfriends?

My own life regrowing peony is a person from my past. I continue to have conversations in my head with this person. I review situations that happened and our responses. I try to figure out who is to blame for what. Why?

I will probably never see this person again. Figuring out what happened or why it happened doesn’t matter anymore. The results will not change. Their relationship or kid status isn’t going to make me feel any better or worse about my relationship or kid status.

So how do I grow past this? How do I finally rip up all the roots and get them all out so this doesn’t continue to regrow? Is that even a realistic possibility? Could this be a thorn in my side for the rest of my life? Will time heal these wounds? Do I need to pray about it more? Pray about it less?

I don’t have answers to these questions. I need to focus on my present life and all of the challenges, opportunities, relationships, and interests here and now. I need to continue growing in my faith. I need to continue maturing as a wife and mother. I know I need to stop dwelling on the past.

As for the flowers, I’ll let them be and plant around them. At least for one more summer.

What about you? What are the regrowing peonies in your life?