Friday, January 28, 2011

In 20 years...


I want to remember:

1. That when I go get her out of her crib in the mornings, she breathes, "Mama," holds her hands out to be held, and then once her feet clear the slates she begins like a mantra, "ouff-ouff," (down, down or out, out)...when her feet hit the floor, she careens out of her room and never wearies until bed-time.

2. How much her fingers smell like Apple Cinnamon nutrigrain bars because those are her favorite.

3. The way she smiles around her paci when things are funny and she's not quite tired enough to fall asleep.

4. How much she loves to carry her lunch box to school.

5. Her busyness and how the only time she'll snuggle up to read books is at night-night time...and even then she only wants books about "woof-woofs." (dogs)

6. That she opens her mouth wide in silent exclamation when she flies down a slide and the way that her hair stands on end from the static.

7. Meggie signing "all done" for the word, "no!" My toddler's got spunk.

8. Her love of animals. I always dreamed of sharing my love for animals with my children and now I have it - I HAVE it. I'm picturing in my mind our visit to the park yesterday and Meg chasing after a big chocolate lab shouting, "Dooooo!" and giggling when the dog licked her entire face.

9. Her whirling, twirling walk...a little flitter thats 1/3 jump, 1/3 prance, and 1/3 whirlygig.

10. Her blossoming love of music - she wants it always playing and will ask for her children's cds specifically. I wonder how God is going to use this love in her life?

Sigh...it's the 2nd of the most glorious January days. ever. 70 degree weather and it feels just like it might when our 2nd baby girl comes into the world. Makes me just want to get outside and dig up some earth, plant some sweet smelling flowers. My heart overfloweth with gladness and I feel content. And, as if all of these lovies weren't enough, we learned that our very dear cousins are going to be parents for the first time in the fall. All today I've been imagining Kaitlin doing the same "mommy" tasks that have become such an intricate part of my daily existence and I can barely contain my happiness. Can't wait for your arrival, newest baby "O!"

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Things Guys Say

Ok, so if we DO ever have a snuggly, cuddly, bouncing baby boy, I am so glad that he'll have at least two older sisters. Because this is what boys who did NOT have sisters grow up to say to their (very) pregnant wives:

wife (while surveying my growing belly in the early-morning mirror): "Hmmm...I think I'm definitely bigger this time around than with Meg. What do you think?"

husband (while casually throwing on a sweatshirt): "Nooo - this time you just look pregnant. Last time Meg like rearranged your whole body in like a really weird way."

wife: "What? Basically I was just fat. Is that right?"

husband (realizing his mistake and trying to backtrack): "Uh - no - I mean - this time you just look cute pregnant. Meg had you all swollen all over. Uh. Just swollen. Not fat. Not fat, no."

:)

ps...I found this conversation hilarious and did not take offense at all - goodness knows Meggie was a huge baby and I had to get "huge" to accommodate her. At least he waited until now to tell me his honest feelings. Hence, I had to record it to remember later and smile.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

For Contentment to Stay, This House has GOT to Go...

WARNING: heavier than normal post to follow... :)

I am on a search for contentment. An aligning of my spirit and actions with full expression of who God created me to be - values, likes, activities, a way of being. Because what I’ve got going on right now, just isn’t working. And “working” is part of the problem.

One of the hardest components of “grace” for me to comprehend and live out is that I didn’t have anything to do with how it came to me. God loved me first, God called me first, God extended grace to me first...and then I responded. God created the means of salvation and Jesus paid the ransom for me. One day, I’ll gaze upon the face of God because he did the work. I did...nothing. And for a typical Type-A, over-achieving, gotta-do-everything-perfectly-or-not-even-try first-born, doing nothing and still reaping the rewards is hard to grasp. In fact, I’ve often struggled with the command: “do everything for the glory of God” because there seemed to me to be an unwritten implication of “God can only be glorified if you do things perfectly.” And, when I try to do things perfectly, I inevitably begin to think that on my own merit, strength, will I can somehow deserve what God has already done for me. Or, that if I don’t do things perfectly, then I am so unworthy, God may not even want me anymore. I doubt. I fail. I dissolve into a blubbering pool of self-pity and loathing (just ask my husband who’s spent countless hours in conversation with me as I pour out my innumerable failings). Exactly the opposite of what God calls me to be - a new creation for his sake. This is one girl who feels like she has to do all things right. And perfect. And the best.

Most of the time, then, my failings tend to center around the state of my house’s cleanliness - or not so cleanliness. I’m still working through why my insecurities settle themselves here. One hypothesis is that I grew up in a family that valued tons and tons of education - so I devoted myself to doing the best I could in that arena and had confidence that I could perform well as a student. I wasn’t really taught practical life skills like how to effectively load a dish-washer (oh, yes, Kyle had to show me this when we first got married) or make my own bread from scratch. The domestic “duties” that come with maintaining a household are not strengths of mine. However, I’ve also been indoctrinated (not really a good thing), whether through society’s un-written messages to women or my own perceptions of what it means to be a “good” wife (remember, I like equations with a predictable solution - do A + B = good wife), with the idea that women are responsible for maintaining clean and orderly households. Especially now that I’m working from home raising my little Meg, I feel more keenly that running this household effectively is under my jurisdiction - though Kyle does more than his share of service around the house.

So, here’s what usually happens: I try my hardest to keep up with the daily chores around the house, but with a toddler in tow, another baby on the way, unpredictability of sickness like ear infections and flu, teething, friends to see, dinners to prepare, dogs to walk...this house never even looks like it’s had one ounce of TLC. This house looks the same everyday no matter how hard I may have “worked.” Toys strewn around the floor, clothes ripped out of drawers, laundry overflowing, diapers sticking out of every available corner of trash cans, month-old food left in the refrigerator, shoes cascading out of the coat closet, jackets and hats littering end tables, piles of “no-no touches” stacked on the tv cabinet, leaves blown into the foyer by the open door, toothpaste caking the sinks, forever and ever. Not. exaggerating. Plus, I find myself apologizing to everyone who enters the threshold, “Sorry about the mess, I promise it doesn’t always look like this.” Sheesh, but oh, yes, it really usually does.

I’ve tried a schedule. I’ve tried talking it out with friends. I’ve tried doing a chore everyday. I’ve tried all the tips from all the magazines. And, I fail. Inevitably, I fail. My house isn’t perfect and I feel like I’ve failed God, my family, and myself.

Friends, I’m tired of living this way. I’m tired of trying to make myself into “that lady with the perfect house.” I’m more than tired, I’m exhausted. Because here’s what I’ve concluded: doing everything for God’s glory does not mean doing everything to perfection. (And believe me, I’ll kill myself striving for perfection.) Committing my actions to God for his glory is an attitude of gratefulness. Thank you for the opportunity to serve my family. Thank you for medicines that treat Meggie’s ear infections even if it means I can’t vacuum today. Thank you for these toys scattered about so that she can learn from her play. I may not have the energy to do the dishes tonight, but thank you, God, for showing me that I could let that one part go in order to have time to help Meggie with a puzzle.

Yesterday (Monday) was a day of discouragement. I spent an hour on Sunday night making a master plan for this upcoming week, writing out lists of goals for myself and for Meg, even writing a detailed, hour-by-hour time schedule for each day. I felt prepared. I felt like I was finally going to get a handle on the house this week. Then, Meggie woke up an hour early when Kyle accidentally flipped on the hall light outside her room and refused to go to back to sleep. Which meant I didn’t get to have my quiet time or get ready for the day. At breakfast, she didn’t want to eat, meaning that when we got home from Jazzercise at 10:00, she was starving. I fed her eggs and a nutrigrain bar, the whole time thinking: “Ugh - this will totally mess up her lunch at 12:30!” After her enormous “snack” and because she lost an hour of sleep in the morning, she was super cranky - toddler style cranky, if you know what I mean. She was yawning and rubbing her eyes; she needed a nap even though her normal nap time isn’t until around 1:00. Against all hopes for my “plan of the day,” I put her down for a nap. She slept until a little after 1:00...when she’s normally going down for her nap...which meant there was no.way. she would go down for me later on in the day. I begrudgingly gave into the knowledge that I would now have a 16 month old on my hands until bed-time at 7:00. After all this, I tried to forge ahead with my “chore of the day” which was to clean out the refrigerator. Yes, with food in there from Christmas. YUCK! Half-way through all the stuffing of the noodles and ham down the disposal, the disposal quit working and the sink started overflowing with dirty dishwater. I started to cry as I yanked ten handfuls of old, rotting, ground-up food out of the disposal. As the water swirled around my hands, acrid air assailing my nostrils, baby crying to be held, I silently submitted. I give in. I can’t fight this battle anymore. Even when I give my best organizational efforts to this task of keeping house, I lose. It’s just not in my nature or ability for this house to be perfect.

But, I do want it to be cozy. I do want it to be loving. I do want to care for it as a testimony to the ways that God has blessed our family, but I think, for me, doing that means nurturing the souls that dwell within this house. I think my contentment will follow when I allow this house to be “functional” - not perfect...and when I allow its functionality to be ok within me. Because, really, my daughter’s childhood - like the broken sink and even walls of this house - are temporary, are fleeting. It won’t always be this way - the all-consuming nature of it - and when my children are grown and the house is empty and all I have left to do is clean, I’ll look back on these temporary days and think, “Oh, wasn’t it grand back then?”

I want to invest my time in things eternal. In my relationship with God, my husband, with my daughter, with my friends and family. Let’s face it - I’m a quality time kinda gal...which means I’ll always choose a convo with a friend over scrubbing a toilet. (harkens back to one of the reasons I became a counselor as opposed to something super organized like teacher, accountant, businesswoman, etc.) This house won’t always be here, but I’m “working” on more important things now.

So, if you come over to my house, there won’t be any more apologies. But, there will be love, grace, and peace. Not perfection, but contentment. And if that sounds good to you, then come on over, come on in!


I rest my case. Who wouldn't rather spend time with this irresistible face learning to eat?


hmmm...mmm


annnddd...post-lunch clean-up duty. :)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Snow Day Play

If you've ever wondered how Meggie and I pass the time on snow days (or, rather, ice days)...this compilation of videos should give you a good idea! Enjoy - and happy snow day playing!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice...

That's what little GIRLS are made of! How much do you love the sound of "My two girls?" I sure do love it bunches!

Our anatomy screen/gender reveal appointment was scheduled for 4:00 pm on Friday, January 21st. After an agonizingly long day, Kyle and I sat together in the waiting room, hands clutched in mutual excitement and nervous anticipation, and were finally admitted back to the ultrasound room at 4:40 pm. Oh my - longest 40 minutes. ever. I sat down on the chair and couldn't stop giggling. Kyle got eerily quiet while we waited for our technician to boot up the system. He was unfortunately deployed during Meg's ultrasound appointment, so this was his first glimpse at our "inside" baby. I had tried to describe the "awe"some sensation of seeing new life on the screen, knowing that the image was OUR baby, but he still gasped in wonder as the screen showed our little one. I loved being able to share that experience with him, gazing on our baby for the first time by human eyes. The technician performed all the perfunctory measurements and then sometime in the middle said, "Are you still sure you want to know???...because it's another GIRL!"

"Oh, we were right," we both breathed as the knowledge of our new daughter slowly seeped in. Then, the technician switched to an image of her profile and said, "There she is." We watched as our baby girl stretched and yawned. The marvelous nature of those small movements - so much her own person and yet only 20 weeks alive! What was immediately noticeable to me, though, was how still and quiet she was - during Meggie's entire ultrasound, the technician kept saying, "Oh my goodness this baby's a mover" and "I've never seen a baby move this much - ever!" I've perceived that this baby was different, but seeing it confirmed was defining and special. She had her ankles crossed daintily while we watched and both of her hands were resting under her chin. This time around, we got the comment, "I think this baby's going to be a thinker." :) I'm excited to see how her personality develops once she's here just like Meggie's has grown. At the end of our session, the technician gave us the good news: "Well, she's measuring right on her due date, June 12th...and she's about 13 ounces. Perfect!" This news is good for two reasons: Meggie was always measuring 2 weeks ahead of schedule, and at 17 weeks, Meg was already 17 ounces...at 20 weeks, this new baby girl is 13. Oh my goodness?!? What if I could really have a 7 lb. baby - how different labor might be? :) She appears and feels gentle, calm, dainty, and feminine. I hope the name we've chosen for her reflects all of these traits. I'm going to try my hardest and respect Kyle's wish that we keep her name a secret until she's born, but I will disclose that it means "shining light" - and we've begun praying that this baby girl may be filled with God's light all of her days, as a light to the world, which shines like all the stars of the universe. (Phil 2:14-16)

The joy we feel at knowing that this second child of ours is another daughter is almost inexplicable. I don't think we've stopped smiling since we found out on Friday - and all through the night on Friday, I would wake up and think, "Sigh...it's a girl!" We picture Meggie and her sister as best friends, having that special bond that only sisters claim, and supporting each other through life. We hear our house filled with little squeals of girlish glee and see twirling skirts and curls. And, we feel privileged that God has chosen us to raise these two girls for his kingdom.

Already, since we've told people about our #2 being a girl, we've gotten some well-meaning, but hurtful comments like: "Oh, well, I guess this means you'll have to try again for a boy" or "Maybe next time you'll have your boy" or "Do you think Kyle's disappointed with two girls?" And our answer is always: "We love having girls and if we have a houseful of girls we couldn't be any happier." We would love having a son one day, but we feel content with the daughters in our lives. God has purposed them to us and has great plans for them - thank you, God, for choosing us to bring them into the world. There's just something so irresistible, lovely, and graceful about a baby girl running into your open arms, curls flying out like banners, snuggling in for a hug and a kiss, AND being called to train them up to be wives and mothers of their own.

One of my favorite memories of the day were Kyle's two statements following the reveal. When the computer shut off and the lights flashed on he kind of sighed, "Wow, I just love that I can say I'm the daddy with my girls." He then followed this sweet revelation up with, "But, ummm, I think I'm going to have to get another shot-gun. These girls need some protection." :)

Here she is...our second precious girl:







And, here we are at 20 weeks - halfway there! Baby Girl is the size of a banana and a smidge over the average size of 10.5 ounces at 13 ounces.




Just for fun, here's our first precious girl at 20 weeks:

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Oh, BABY...girl or boy?

The Meggie Girl is happily playing by herself in her room (so, so, so excited about that!) and while listening to her contented noises, I can feel soft, sweet flutters from Baby #2 deep in my belly. Hello, there, little one. You've been more quiet than your big sister, but you're beginning to let me know you're there, you're well, and you're alive a little more each day. Tomorrow, we are privileged to see you for the first time and our excitement makes each moment of today seem to last a year. Who are you? What secrets do you hold for us to know? We're hoping to have the first clue about your new life at our appointment...are you a baby sister or baby brother?

The evidence for either side is as follows:

Reasons you might be a GIRL...
1. Kyle and I both think that you are probably a girl. He had a dream, I have a feeling - a feeling of that's how a girl would feel to me feeling...but, we all know what happened the last time I had a "feeling." :) We also have the perfect girl name and have started, at least in our minds, to refer to you as "she" and "her."
2. MOST people have said to me, "You're giving off a girl vibe. It's totally a girl." As of right now, there are only two dissenters. Who shall remain nameless. (Jen Bibb and Erika Jepperson)
3. My cravings for chocolate have picked up - just like they did in the second trimester with Meg.
4. Your heartbeat began high at 185, then came down to 160, and then was 150 bpm at my last appointment. According to old wives' tales, heartbeats over 150 indicate a girl baby.
5. I'm carrying high just like I did with Meggie girl.
6. When I dangled my wedding ring on a piece of my hair and over my belly (another old wives' tale), it swung in circles...indicating a girl.
7. The Ancient Chinese Calendar predicts that you're a girl based on my age and month of conception...for the record, it correctly predicted Meg's gender.

Reasons you might be a BOY...
1. My pregnancy with you has been very different than my pregnancy with Meg. With you, I was sick almost everyday of the first trimester - sometimes multiple times. I actually lost weight during the first several weeks, differing from my 10 lb. gain in the first 10 weeks with your sister.
2. I crave oranges and salty foods NON-stop. Anytime I let my mind wander to "what's for dinner," I only want Mexican food. Typically, these salty cravings are supposed to mean I'm carrying a boy. With Meg I craved chocolate and fruit - sweet things.
3. Even though I'm carrying high like a girl, I'm also carrying "all out in front" like a boy (but, I also am carrying just like I did with Meg, so this probably doesn't really mean anything.)
4. And, even though the old adage about the heartbeat is 150 bpm or higher = girl, Meggie's heartbeat stayed in the high 160s until late in my pregnancy with her - her heartbeat eventually rested in the 140s during the last month.
5. When I dangled my wedding ring on a piece of my hair over my wrist, it swung back and forth, indicating a boy.
6. With Meggie, I had acne pretty badly in my second trimester. With you, my face has been perfectly clear and my hair has been thicker - all supposed signs of carrying a boy.

Well, all the evidence has been presented...what do you think this baby will be? Do you have any feelings one way or the other? I'd love for you to take the poll and weigh in with your opinion. Our appointment is tomorrow, Friday, the 21st at 4:00 pm CST. The last appointment of the last day of the week. GAH. But, we'll be sure to update as soon as we know!

Boy or girl, we adore you and welcome you into our family. We are so proud to call you ours.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

If I've been a little MIA on the email/blogging/facebook front, it's because I just got back late last night from my annual roommate reunion. I lived with the same three girls all through college (well, technically, THEY lived on the same hall freshmen year and I lived down a hall in the adjacent dormitory with another sweet roommate as a freshman...but I just like to go ahead and say that we went through all four years together.) and we made a pledge to see each other once-a-year if at all possible for the rest of forever after graduation. On year one we met at the beach, year two was in Gallup, NM at Amanda's place, year three was here when Meggie was a wee bebe, and year four spilled over into this past MLK day weekend in Greenville, SC - home to Jillian and Furman University, from which we graduated in 2006. We're hoping year five comes around this July in Kansas with Lauren as hostess.

Though we're all in a little different stations in life now, the bond we share makes it such that those small differences are nill in eachother's presence. They make me laugh like the carefree young girl I was in North Village, only dreaming of a future life with a military man, make me participate freely in adventures that my now normal "mommy" self would be too exhausted to try (like Just Dance "Who Let the Dog's Out?"), and make me feel more like "myself." With these special girls, I'm grounded, funny, honest, me. And there's never any awkwardness created by time, distance, or space - it's always as it's ever been and that brings me comfort.

The five day trip started on Thursday after I went over Meg's instructions with Kyle for like the 20th time (not because I felt like he needed it, but because I felt like I needed it), and hopped in the car for an early morning ride to Wichita. Lauren, now living in Manhattan, KS, met me there and we flew together to Greenville through Dallas. We talked non-stop the.whole.way.there. Ah, heaven! :) Jilly and Faye picked us up and we careened through the recently snow-covered streets to a Taco dinner in Greer, or "Guhr" to the locals. More talking.

Slept in late on Friday. More talking and lounging. We met my dear friend, Jen Bibb, for lunch at a favorite old haunt, Brickstreet Cafe, and then spent the rest of the afternoon perusing through downtown shops before going back for a nostalgic walk around Furman. Oh, my word. The campus is just as gorgeous and impressive and home as I remember it being, only it now boasts a revived Dining Hall and Science Building. I felt proud there and just a little old-er. As our little foursome traipsed about we passed several other groups of girlfriends. I looked at them and felt transported back in time. I saw them look at us and wondered if they were trying to place us in time as once belonging to Furman's campus. Lauren and I wondered if we looked like old ladies to them and I bet we kind of did. :) That night, we met some other friends at Thaicoon for dinner - our favorite thai restaurant in Greenville.

Saturday was Amanda's 27th birthday. After a late wake-up, we played Just Dance before getting ready for a late lunch and pedicures - the birthday girl's request. Our nails were finished in just enough time to change, primp, and fly to City Range for the birthday girl dinner. Not only was this restaurant one that we loved in college, but it was also the site Kyle and I picked for our rehearsal dinner. I loved reminiscing about both college and that special night while we were there.

On Sunday, our last full day together, I spent most of the morning with Jen, talking about life, marriage, and children...and eating a mountain of frozen yogurt. When the girls and I met back up, we went to a late afternoon showing of "Country Strong" followed by dinner at another favorite place. And, then, can you guess? We talked late into the night again. We were all a little subdued on Monday morning knowing that our time together was ending, but we packed in the car for a last breakfast hoorah at Bojangles. Lauren and I had to get us some bo-berry biscuits while on the East Coast. The airport again and a long day of travel home - but at least Lauren and I were traveling on the same flight so we got to break up the good-byes into more bearable chunks.

I missed my little family terribly while I was away, but knew Kyle would do a fantastic job as "single" parent to Meggie...and we had some gracious help! Thank you to my dear friends, Erika and Shannon, who kept Meg on Thursday and Friday while Kyle was at work so that I could have this reunion. Both Erika and Shannon love Meg and care for her as their own, and they even humored me by reading my ridiculously long babysitting manual of every tiny cue Meg could have possibly uttered in my absence. I felt completely at ease knowing she was under your watchful wings. :)

I don't have any pictures yet to show from this trip because my big ole camera didn't make the cut for my small carry-on bag and Jill/Amanda are the resident photographers of the group anyway. As soon as I can finnagle some out of them, I'll edit this written account and repost. But, I will include a picture from last year's reunion in the meantime. I've also included a portion of my bridesmaid's speech from our luncheon almost five years ago. The words were true then and they're even more true now - tested by the time we've spent away from our college lives:

There are three girls here that I want to especially recognize. My roommates: Jillian, Lauren, and Amanda. Anyone who knows me knows not only my roommates but that I love my roommates very much. It is a safe bet to wager that any story I tell usually involves them. I know that any of my Furman memories certainly do. When I think of college, I think of them. When I think of Greenville, I think of them. When I think of safety and security, I think of them. When I think of God's brilliance and reasons, I think of them. Yes, they are and forever will be my "roommates."

Tonight in the slide show, Kyle and I chose to include the words of a psalm that has special significance for us. Psalm 121 also holds memories of my roommates. On our last morning together, watching the sun rise over Pretty Place, we read this psalm together. Verses 7-8 read: “The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.” I felt that in my years at Furman, these girls were the guardians of that promise to me. And, if in my life I never find friends as good as these, they will have been enough because for four years, I was privileged to have the best.

***
We're settling back in to our regular routine now, and I must say that I was racing home from Wichita last night with abundant excitement thinking about getting back to the "job" waiting for me in the morning. I never thought I would find a purpose in life that I love so much as I do being mama to the Meggie girl and lucky wife to Kyle.


roommate reunion 2009

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Because She's just too Precious for Words















and to show off her curly locks:







Monday, January 10, 2011

16, 17, and...eeek! 18 weeks


Here we are at 18 weeks sporting my new maternity work-out clothes that I got for Christmas. Although, this day I don't think I did any working out other than entertaining the Meggie girl...but they're amazingly comfy! :) I also didn't get around to putting on any make-up this day - ah well, at least I had taken a shower.

How Far Along: 18 weeks.

Total Weight Gain/Loss: I was kinda scared to check my scale after Christmas, but was pleasantly surprised to find that I have only gained 10 lbs. So far, so good. I gained most of my weight with Meggie in the 2nd trimester, and by most I mean 8 lbs, 7 lbs, and 8 lbs respectively during those months with barely any weight gain in my third trimester. And I've definitely felt my appetite increase over the last couple of weeks, so I'm expecting to have some pretty big gains soon while hoping for little gains in order to NOT have another 10 lb baby in June.

Maternity Clothes: All maternity clothes now with the exception of some longer shirts and some workout clothes. I'm gonna have to go buy some winter maternity clothes because all of my stuff from Meg's pregnancy is summer wear. I only have one pair of maternity jeans and desperately need to add a few more into the rotation.

Gender: Hooray! We're finding out on January 21st which is only a little less than 2 weeks away. We were originally scheduled for this Wednesday (12th), but Kyle just started IP school today and wasn't able to get off of work. I keep telling myself that we waited a whole 10 months to find out whether Meg was a boy or a girl, so it should be easy to wait another two weeks. But, oh, now that we've decided to find out, it's not easy, it's not easy! I just want to knooooow.

I did have a dream the other night that it was a girl. Which agrees with Kyle's dream that the baby's a girl. So I'm gonna go with GIRL. Which makes me super excited to imagine having two little sweet things running around. Nothing in this world beats having a sister!

On the down side...we have absolutely no names for either a boy or a girl. None. We even spent one whole night trying to brainstorm names and couldn't come up with a single one that "felt" right. I don't know what we're going to do...maybe seeing the little one on the ultrasound screen will help? I've started asking God to send us the perfect name for this new child.

Movement: Yes, definitely feeling some movement now. But, the movements are very subtle and usually only happen at night after dinner. Even then, the baby only kicks a couple of times. VERY different from my acrobatic girl who my clients could see kicking through my shirt. :)

Cravings: Still oranges and orange juice...so weird. And french fries. And Mexican food and bunches of salty goodness. I did a little reading about week 18 on the internet a couple of days ago and it said that my appetite should be increasing about now. Check. It also said to try and avoid eating things that are just empty calories and don't really do much good for the baby - they mentioned things like french fries, chocolate, potato chips, and queso. Whooooops.

Symptoms: Oh, how I love thee, second trimester! I'm feeling a bajillion times better than even just a few weeks ago. No more nausea. No more exhaustion (most days). And no more irrational fears that I'll never feel like myself again. I am, however, feeling super emotional. As in, one night this week I was overcome with sadness and sat on the couch crying. When Kyle asked me what was wrong, I honestly couldn't come up with any reason to feel sad or be crying. I was just baby hormone emotional...I'm hoping anyways. :) After a couple of minutes, the feelings departed and I felt fine again. I'm also feeling nesting kicking in. It's not the cleaning nesting kind, it's the I want to hole up in my house and not leave kind of nesting...and the kind where I wake up in the middle of the night making to-do lists of stuff we have to tackle before Baby arrives.

Best Moment this week: Kyle and I were doing a little reorganizing in our bedroom and I glimpsed the bassinet attachment to our pack-and-play underneath our bed. Just seeing it down there (coupled with the act of freshening up our room) made me giddy with excitement to think of bringing another baby home to nest with us. I thought fondly of those early nights with Meggie girl which made this next baby seem so much more real. Sigh...


Baby #2 and Mama at 16 weeks. (top) Meggie and Mama at 16 weeks.

I'm curious...can you tell any differences in Meggie and Baby #2? I didn't consistently take preggo pictures with Meg, so this is my first-able comparison. I think I'm carrying both pretty high, but Meg's picture is closer up, so it's harder to tell. I do think I'm sticking out farther in Baby #2's picture. What do you think?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Oh, my little mess


*at breakfast this morning*

Many times during these days of mothering Meggie, the affectionate thought bubbles up: "Oh, what a cute little mess you are." And when that happens, praise for Meggie's creator spontaneously follows in my heart - unbidden, easy, quick - just like all those definitions of joy penned in the Bible.

Thank you, God, for my little mess.

Thank you that you made her with a curious spirit and a strong independent streak. Thank you for her mischevious cackle and sideways grin - right before she does a "no-no" - for her transparency so that I might take a moment to teach her your ways. Thank you for her abundant waves of hello and bye-bye and the enthusiastic way she says, "Daddy," when she hears my cell phone ring - even if he's standing right beside me. I love those little reminders that we're a military family, that you've chosen a special life for us. Most of all, thank you that things didn't turn out like I had thought they would. Thank you for entrusting Meg to us in the middle of my graduate education so that I might know the greater calling you had for me, as a mother to your Meggie girl. Thank you for the courage that you lent to me to give up the Ph.D. for this incredible and life-altering opportunity to serve you and my family through motherhood - because you know I never would have had that courage on my own. Thank you for the abundant ways in which our December 08 surprise - in the middle of my finals and Kyle's important check ride - continues to blossom, teach, inspire, and shape our family. Thank you, God, that you know best, that you've planned the best, and that that best is far better than any plans we've made on our own.

Thank you, God, for our little mess. We love her so much.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Merry Christmas...a Little Late

As with most things these days, I'm a little late in posting...but we wanted to wish our dear blogging friends a Merry Christmas and Happy New 2011 Year. Here's our 2010 picture (can't wait until we have a new little bundle in our bunch), our 2010 letter, and a recap of our Christmas celebration:



It’s Halloween weekend and Meggie and I have driven the four hours across Oklahoma and Texas to be with my cousin and her husband for a few days while we wait out Kyle’s latest deployment. As a new adventure, Kaitlin’s taken us to visit her friend’s farm, a farm with donkeys, horses, barnyard cats, and millions of oats that captivate Meggie’s attention - she sits for several minutes on the barn floor transferring handfuls of oats and grains from one bucket to another, the engineering scientist part of her personality never more evident than now. I watch her for a little while, then find myself drawn into the words, ideas, and questions of the “adult world” as I listen to Kaitlin and her friend talk about plans for the night.

But, because Meggie is a part of me, I can sense her energy in pursuit of a mischievous goal, even with my back turned and my conversation otherwise engaged. Slowly, I swivel around, always trying to balance the protective mother nature with the knowledge that she’s gotta learn from her own choices, and find my daughter, my child, my 14-month-old scrambled high onto the fence post, little fists clutched on the top rung, and long legs dangling down to the second. Her muscles strain to maintain her hold because she’s always preferred high places, the view from the top, particularly her daddy’s 6’7’’ shoulders, and I know she feels exhilarated up there, proud not only that she climbed her way, but that her perspective has changed so from that on the ground. She’s independent and brave. Then, I see one shoe slip off the bracing rung and her confidence shakes. She calls, “Mama...”. More insistently, “Mama!” And I’m there with my arms around her, knowing that my precious time to be her safe shelter will only last so long. She rests in my embrace before reaching again for the top, this time, though, she swings both legs over and perches like a cocky spring robin, taking in the expanse of barnyard and horses.

Our Meggie girl is spirited, energetic, and fearless. At almost 16-months-old, she possesses a zeal and curiosity for life that we treasure, but that sometimes makes us breathless with a parent’s anxiety. She loves exploring new places and people, and makes friends everywhere we go. Meg took her first steps this past year at 9 1/2 months, was walking by 12 months, and now runs with surprising speed in all directions - she has an independent mind, an infectious giggle, and a secure sense of what she “wants.” Right now, her favorite words to say are: uh-oh, which comes out sounding more like, “Waaah-OOW,” and baby, or “bay-beee,” which we love as Meggie will be welcoming her own new baby brother or sister in June 2011. We know she’s going to bask in being a big sister, having a little someone to teach things to, help with, and (hopefully) entertain. One of the qualities that we cherish most in Meggie is what others pick up on when they ask, “Is she always this happy?” Our Miss Margaret is a happy girl, and a loving girl, freely giving hugs and kisses and patting us on the back when we pick her up from nursery or a nap.

Kyle continues flying the E-6B Mercury for the Ironman Squadron out of Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma, and working as an Aircraft Safety Officer when he’s not deployed. He is now a qualified Aircraft Commander and Mission Commander and though he doesn’t have the traditional long-term deployments of the larger Navy, he’s been deployed well over 50% of this year. We long for the day when he’ll be with us year-round, but feel strengthened by the knowledge that Kyle’s able to support our growing family by fulfilling his dream and calling of being a Navy Pilot.

I (finally!!!) graduated from Oklahoma State University’s Masters of Counseling program this summer, but felt led to focus my time and energy on staying home with Meg and our sweet Baby VH#2 for the time being. After a few months of settling in as a stay-at-home-mom, I can not fathom a better place for using my counseling education than right here among these whom I love so much.

We pray for you and your family a special Christmas season, full of the grace of God who chose to come among us in the form of a babe. We are thankful for the dear place you each have in our hearts and memory, and pray a new year of blessings for you.

With love always,
Kyle, Shannon, Meggie, Baby #2, and Douglass the dog
Christmas 2010
we’d love for you to keep in touch with us at:
http://shannonandkylevanheest.blogspot.com
shannon.vanheest@gmail.com

***

Kyle came home to us late, late on the night of the 23rd. Phew - talk about rejoicing over the white cliffs of dover on a big ole wing-and-a-prayer. Before it was all said and done, Meggie ended her bout with sickness with an outer ear infection which (thank goodness) was not the ruptured ear drum that we thought (on Christmas Day, her left ear began to drain all kinds of pus and fluid), and the most pervasive yeast infection I've ever seen from all the antibiotics she was taking. Despite all of those maladies, though, I think we achieved our goal of having a laid-back, easy-going, joyful Christmas with just the three of us.

On Christmas Eve, we decided to have our big Christmas dinner a little early and try to make it to the 4:30 Christmas Eve service. We had everything ready to go by 1:30 - at which point Meggie decided that she needed her afternoon nap...and she slept for almost three straight hours - almost unheard of around our house. Her Christmas present to Kyle and me was a Christmas dinner for two. We lit the candles and enjoyed a romantic meal and kept trying to remember the last time we had been able to have an uninterrupted, quiet dinner just for ourselves at home! :) After Meg woke up from her nap, we all went to the beautiful Christmas Eve service at our church. Meggie enjoyed the music most of all, but sat in my lap with "bah-bah" and "paci" during the scripture readings. My favorite part was when she fell asleep for a moment while we all sang "O Little Town of Bethlehem" because Kyle and I had been singing that carol to her as a bedtime lullaby leading up to Christmas. When we got home from church, then, we had our little family's Christmas program (a tradition that my family does) where we read the birth of Jesus from the Bible, talk about what Christmas means to us, sing carols, and open one present.

our table set for two

attempting to pose Meg in front of the Christmas tree...I could just eat her up in her precious gingerbread dress! :)

still looking a little sickie

okay - I just think these next pictures are adorable...they're off Meg playing with her nativity scene in front of the fireplace:








On Christmas morning, Meg woke up kinda early (probably from her ear infection) and we opened presents in rounds to give her plenty of time to run off energy in between sitting down - she's one busy girl. During one of the breaks, we had our traditional Christmas morning breakfast of egg casserole, baked apples, and cinnamon rolls. Kyle and I laughed about how Meggie opened her Christmas presents: she would meticulously tear off tiny bits of paper, get bored, run around, come back to the present, and want us to finish ripping off the paper. Then, she would take all of the miniscule pieces of paper straight to the trash can. Oh, our little engineer. She was definitely more interested in the wrapping paper and bags than the actual gifts this year. But, I have a feeling this will change before our next Christmas. :)

really into the gift wrap
and her new little Meggie chair

getting ready to watch the SC bowl game with Daddy
This gamecock cheerleading outfit was in the first present Meg opened on Christmas Eve.

We spent the rest of the day relaxing, worrying over Meggie's ear, and getting ready for a visit from my mom, sister, and grandmother. The following week that they were here was seriously the most relaxed I've felt in like six months. Thank you, Mom, Grandmama, and Becca. Having them here was even better than vacation because Meggie stayed more on her schedule because of the familiar atmosphere, not having a formalized to-do list, sleeping in in the mornings (the last time we were around any family I was still breastfeeding) and getting to go on several dates with my lovey-love. Sigh...come back soon!