Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Good Grief

As I write this, it has been just under a week since my sweet Grandpa succumbed to leukemia after a very short bout.

I was very thankful to be with him the afternoon before he passed and was able to say my final goodbye, as my gut was telling me I wouldn't see him alive again. I am also thankful that he had family there with him right up until the end.
So, a peaceful exit for Grandpa and then let the mourning begin for the rest of us. It is always interesting to see how mourning and grief manifest themselves, especially in my own life. This time, I mostly did a lot of "grief-eating" which is like stress eating except sadder. I also just wanted to sit around and stare...a general malaise, really. Very hard to do when you have a toddler.

Because of hospital visits and drives over to Santa Cruz and generally putting life on hold for the moments at the edge of a family member's death, I began to fear all the things I wasn't getting done in my work life, home life and ministry life. 

Yesterday I had a mini anxiety attack while driving my husband to work. My chest constricted, my stomach nearly had a revolt, and I began to panic and cry. I worried that allowing myself all this time (which was really a couple of days) to grieve, I was losing all my good habits and rhythms I had worked so hard to establish. But surely taking time to grieve is healthy!

I still am struggling with how one grieves while maintaining some sort of rhythm and momentum. Part of me feels that when someone dies, that I kind of want to stop too. Unfortunately, life doesn't allow us stop for long, especially those of us with children and/or jobs (which I'd venture to say is most people). 

I guess it's okay if my momentum is a bit slower and halting of gait as I move ahead with my life while missing my grandpa. The suddenness of his death was shocking and the reality of it has perhaps only begun to sink in.

Rest in peace, Grandpa. You continue to be very loved.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Best/Worst Mother in the World

There've been a few articles and blog posts lately about how easy it is in the age of social media to put your best foot forward and portray only the best of your life and experiences to the virtual world. 

(Look at us, we always have fun and are very excited about everything!!)

Honestly, I don't know how different this is from normal life...I think we all wish to portray our best selves to those around us, and that we do our best to do exactly that from day to day. 

All that to say, I hope I'm not fooling anyone into thinking that because I occasionally hand sew things for my son or request educational toys for his birthdays that I'm some kind of super mom. I think it goes without saying that I am a temperamental redhead with barely a patient bone in my body. Any time I am kind to my son, I truly count that as a feat of the Holy Spirit.

(Look how nice I am when there's a camera on me!)

This morning I was particularly tired and ornery. I shouted at my son and brushed aside his feelings and desires because they seemed foolish or inconvenient to me at the time. I had to give myself a time out; I prayed a desperate prayer for God to make me better or at least help me make it until the kid's nap time so I could take a rest too.

Naptime proved to be a refreshing time for both of us. Calvin woke up from nap very jolly and cute and I had gotten a power nap and break so I was ready to get back in there and be better. Grace abounded.

We got to hang out, take a walk, and eventually make dinner together. At least one "SuperMom" feat I'd like to accomplish is to have my family enjoy cooking together and also to make a habit of sitting down to enjoy the food we've made and revel in the blessing that every meal should be (maybe this is the Italian in me?).

In a world where I feel like the worst mom a bunch of the time, it's kinda nice to feel like maybe I'm getting a few things right, even in the midst of a snappy, grumpy day. For me, the smile on my kid's face as he "paints" olive oil on pitas makes me feel, at least for that moment, that I'm the best mom around!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Hands Off My Toddler

I've been thinking lately about how much fun Calvin's toddlerhood has been (at least for me!) compared to babyhood. Don't get me wrong, I had the cutest, smiliest little chubby baby I could ask for, and I loved nursing him and rocking him and all those other baby things.

But now that he can run around and amuse himself and understand humor and talk a little bit, I'm really starting to feel like the mother of a "kid" instead of a baby. And I've taken what I hope are the appropriate steps backward from the type of mothering that a baby needs as opposed to a toddler.

I've heard that this is kind of a new wave of parenting style, which I'm sure has a pithy name like "Hands Off Parenting" or something. But basically what it means for Calvin and I is that I leave him alone now more often to explore the backyard while I do dishes or work on my laptop in the kitchen (for instance). I'm not checking on him every three seconds like when he was 9 months old and starting to crawl. He can entertain himself for bigger chunks of time. I've even made him a fun backpack so that HE can carry around his diapers and wipes for a change, and I can just carry a regular-sized purse around!

The best part about this is that I can take him more places with me and feel like we are both actually enjoying ourselves and each other. Perhaps this is just me growing into motherhood, I'm not sure. But I am seriously enjoying being the parent of my sweet little two year old!

I'm considering this time a sweet calm before the storm of eventually adding another child to the mix. I'm not sure if I'm ready for it, but we'd like to pull the trigger soon before Calvin (and Mama!) gets too much older. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Summer Catch-up

I've been MIA with little to say in the past couple months. My brain has been working overtime, but I just haven't had the chance to sit and reflect and write anything down. 

Since late March, my family has dealt with thyroid cancer (all gone now!), IRS audit (still feeling the sting), car troubles (thankfully we had a teensy bit of money left over from the audit!), more cancer cropping up in other family members, adjusting to living with friends, turning 29 (me, that is), taking up seeing again and a bunch of other regular life events! 

I found a fun little way to play catch-up for any interested parties, so here goes!

Listening - to my little one learn his letters, numbers, and a mess of new words! Very cool.

Loving - living with friends, having a cancer-free husband, SEWING!

Thinking - about the amazing sermon I heard this morning, new developments at Ballet SJ, and crafty projects

Wanting - all my friends and family to be magically healthy

Needing - lunch


Until next time!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Somebody to Lean On

As my husband goes into surgery to remove a possibly cancerous mass from his neck and possibly his thyroid, I'm sitting here finally having a little cry in my car. I think it's just because I have not really cried up until now, so a little catharsis is needed.

However, I am not afraid. I feel so loved and supported and upheld in prayer. You might never realize the blessing of the body of Christ until you are led by their love through hard times.

We have some friends watching over our baby for a few nights. We have our friends whom we live with holding down the fort at home and who took us out for a wonderful "last supper" last night. We have a whole gaggle of friends who came over to our house last night to pray with us, plus I know many more thinking of us today and praying for a good outcome. There are friends who I know will come through with meals and childcare should we need it in the coming days. My lovely Auntie Leslie is headed my way with sandwiches and moral support while we wait in the hospital and pray.

Honestly, I'm not that great at caring for others in this way. I have a lot to learn. And although I wouldn't wish health problems on anyone, it has been a wonderful lesson to me as we go through this to see God's hands and feet in action as we are served by His people and by others who wouldn't claim to be His but are being used as a blessing to us as well. I feel better equipped as a Christian to care for others now that I have seen it done well. How's that for a bright side?

I don't know how things will turn out, but I do know everything will be okay. Thanks and love to all, and may God bless you!

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Stealing Back Peace

By all accounts, I'm a fairly busy person.

I'm a mom. I could stop right there...it's a full-time job, 24/7, it's all the things you've heard and probably more.

However, I then have quite a few other things going on, including part-time working from home for Ballet San Jose, and a few entrepreneurial pursuits including crocheting made-to-order toys for children and teaching private in-home music classes for toddlers. I've got playdates with Las Madres and also with a group I started for the church mamas.

I'm also a pastor's wife and Worship Lead at Dwell Christian Church in Willow Glen. We just moved into a large house with friends this past weekend, so my life is still in boxes that I'm frantically trying to eradicate.

Like I said...busy!

I try to set aside some time every day to be quiet, to read God's word, to contemplate the mysteries of the universe He created, and to send up small prayers like Anne Lamott's two essentials ("Help me, help me, help me!" and "Thank you!"). It's not much. Nothing like the herculean things I used to try to do in college like get up early before class and do an hour of prayer and bible reading every day...seemed small to me then...boy do times change!

So many things can come along and "steal" the peace I feel when I just stop and take time to be with my God. So sometimes, I have to "steal" it back. I have to steal moments early in the morning by sitting my kid in front of a Signing Time DVD for half an hour while I gulp coffee and hungrily read a few chapters of scripture. I have to steal some quiet in the afternoon while he (thankfully!) naps between eating a bit and doing work for the Ballet to recharge after a morning of play dates and averting mini-disasters.

Yesterday I let the dog and the kid outside to play, brought a kitchen chair out on the deck and did my coffee/bible thing there, listening to the birds and huddling against the chilly breeze. It didn't actually feel overly peaceful at the time, but I prayed a "Help me!" sort of prayer for the day, and indeed, peace followed.

As I follow God, peace follows me, and I am eternally grateful.

"There's a peace I've come to know/ though my heart and flesh may fail.
There's an anchor for my soul/ I can say 'It is well'."- Chris Tomlin, "I Will Rise"

PS While I was Googling "anne lamott two prayers" to remember what they were, I came upon this blog, "There Are No Ordinary Moments", and was struck by how similar her story in this post sounded to my experiences. You might take a moment to read it. Also, apparently Anne Lamott has come out with a new book entitled Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers ... I really like that third one, actually. It's like petition, thanksgiving and worship, all in three little one-word prayers!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Movin' On Up!

So, we signed the lease last night on our shiny new 4 bedroom, 2 bath rental house! Well, it's shiny new to us, anyway. 

Some things I am desperately looking forward to at the new place:

1. My child will have his own room and will not have to live in our living room. 
2. DISHWASHER! Visions of empty sinks dance in my head! And counter space, glorious counter space! And while we're at it...a garbage disposal (no, our current place does not have one...)
3. Washer and dryer that I don't have to put quarters into! 
4. Front yard! Back yard! Covered deck!
5. Fireplace!
6. Not worrying about parking and which day is street sweeping on which side of the street, etc... and hauling my stroller, kid and all my bags up and down three flights of stairs. 
7. Garage with so much storage, and an extra fridge and freezer (good when sharing a place with four adults and a toddler).

Some things that I will actually really miss about this place:

1. Living downtown...right in the heart of it all, two blocks away from my work, easy walking access to pretty much anything I could ever want or need. Close to our downtown church plant. Moving to the suburbs was never really in my plan, but hey...plans change!
2. Living in an old Victorian. Sure, it's quirky and outdated, but it has so much character and charm!
3. My sweet walk-in pantry
4. Claw foot tub
5. Really big bedroom...our bedroom in the new place will literally be for the bed. That's pretty much it.
6. The apartment where we brought home our first born baby boy. There are really good memories here. 

I don't have any photos of the new place to share yet, but I anticipate so many wonderful memories to be made there, too. 

I feel like moving in with friends is one of those things that everyone raises an eyebrow at, putting it on par with discussing religion or politics in mixed company, or co-signing a friend's car loan. However, I feel it is one of those things like when we took our toddler on a cross-country road trip from Nor. Cal. to Denver. People said it couldn't be done! People said it shouldn't be done! People said even if you do it, you won't like it! But you know what?! All those people were wrong! I knew it in my gut then, and I know it now. This is gonna be great. 

And now, to pack!

Monday, January 21, 2013


Well, I've been neglecting the blog in the New Year again...hard to force myself to come up with witty things to write about, so I just don't. You're welcome, world!

However, there are a few things I've been thinking and musing about. They're a little random.

First on my mind is my poor baby who has a temp of 103.2! Yikes. We've given him meds and I'm trying to get him to hydrate so hopefully that comes down soon.

Secondly, I understand that companies don't want their employees to wear their scary piercings and have visible tattoos and all that, but surely you could let the guy at Michael's keep his giant plugs in his ears. It is WAY more disturbing to see his mangled earlobes swinging around than it would be to see a guy with giant plugs! (I told you this was a random post!)

Lastly and most hugely, I'm thinking about apartments and houses. Specifically, the thought of sharing space with another couple or family. Some people think we're crazy, but I think it could actually work and work well to pool resources and live in community with Christian brothers and sisters.

Also, the thought of being missional and actually living in the community where we have come to do ministry. LUCKILY (ahem, not...) we chose two of the more expensive places in San Jose (downtown and Willow Glen) to do ministry, so that's going well. Ugh.

It's difficult to reconcile being missional and trusting that God will provide with being good stewards of our money that He's already given us and realistic as to what we can actually afford. Balancing faith and reason is always a big struggle.

What about you? Have you ever entertained the thought of communal living? And what do you think about mangled earlobes on Michael's employees? (Just kidding.)

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

On Being Mother to a Boy.

I've been reading through a collection of essays entitled It's A Boy!, which is a bunch of women writers reflecting on having sons.

It has made me reflect a bit, now that I have been the mother of a son for a whole 18 months (hardly an expert, I know!), on my own feelings on the matter. I was a woman who always wanted sons. I was ecstatic to receive the ultrasound images that revealed I was indeed to bear a son. I don't think I had a lot of hang-ups about bearing a child of the opposite gender to me; on the contrary, I welcomed that otherness!

Truthfully, I have loved pretty much every minute of being the mother of a boy, but probably more rightfully, simply a mother in general. I feel that parenthood has helped me understand who God is more, because I can more truly understand how He loves me as a parent loves their child. Knowing I can never even fathom the greatness of His love for me or for my own son is very humbling, and it inspires in me so much praise and thankfulness and love.

A little story about my baby from today:
Usually at library story time, he will sit in my lap during the songs and stories, transfixed and rarely moving except to clap after a song. Today I asked him if he wanted to get up and dance, and he stood up and started "singing" along, clapping, doing the movements, etc..., all in his little measured, engineer-y way. I was grinning from ear to ear and laugh-crying through it all.

I was trying to understand why my heart was so full in that moment. Maybe because he was doing something that I loved to do (artsy stuff like dancing and singing) and that I value. Perhaps it was that I have seen him go from weeks of carefully observing to have the courage to stand up and do. Or is it just that I adore pretty much every little thing he does? I don't really know.

Who can explain love? It just is. I simply love my sensitive, inquisitive, happy, smart little boy!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

A New Year!

Well, hello 2013!

Despite the fact that I was quite ill over New Year's Eve (not alcohol related, I feel compelled to mention), I am, like the good American I am, hopeful and optimistic about this coming year.

I was really happy to come from vacation and find all the Christmas cards in the mail that we missed receiving. I actually really like to read people's "Year in Review" letters that they write! I was a little sad I didn't take the time to do Christmas cards or a letter, so I'm making up for it a bit with this post.

A very quick review of 2012 -

January - We opened the New Year in Colorado. I got to see Shar and Mike! I start to come to grips with being a stay-at-home mother to my beautiful boy.
February - Just when I come to grips with that, I get hired back part-time at Ballet San Jose in the newly minted Education and Outreach Department. I love, love, love Ballet San Jose, so although slightly overwhelmed with even the small workload this brings, I am thrilled. Also, this month our friend Glori Helveston was born, so I was doing a lot of rejoicing.
March - The baby and I take a trip, sans Dad, to Texas to visit my three sisters and a bunch of the cousins. Too much fun, although we missed Dad a lot!
April - Baby's first Easter, his first birthday party invitation (Kayna!), we happily joined the cult of Costco, I finished all three Hunger Games books.
May - I turned 28 without too much freaking out and had my first "official" Mother's Day.
June - The baby got Roseola while also teething (nightmare), we took a family trip to Santa Barbara, and I started creating and selling crocheted cupcakes! Also UEFA 2012 was on, so we watched a lot of soccer.
July - I initiated a "church gals" night out. I led music at my very first VBS. We got to see the Heims for some precious hours at SFO. My baby turned a year old and had the birthday bash to end all bashes with his best friend Sam, plus we went to at least two other birthday parties for Jadon and Abby.
August - A short trip to CO to watch Beth and Tom get married and see the baby's grandparents and Auntie Aims. Willow Glen Baptist Church + City Church + CRC became Dwell Christian Church. The baby starts walking! Chris and I celebrate 4 years of marriage.
September - Football starts again, and I do much rejoicing. The baby gets croup, and I do much mourning. We visit the aquarium, a farm, Savers, the mall. Erin and I go to the opera.
October - Visited the Children's Discovery Museum with our friends Tyler and Keri, the baby drags us through some decidedly un-wonderful "wonder weeks", Baby Lillian (Sam's little sister) makes her way into the world, and Dwell Harvest Carnival with my pirate husband and tiger baby.
I blogged through the month of November, so that's pretty well documented.
December - One of my best friends from high school had her baby Emmy, we found out Tia and JohnE Kim will have a boy next year, we spent a lot of time in the car to and from CO, a wonderful Christmas, great time with family, a rockin' NYE celebration with our wonderful friends, the Levins.

We are truly blessed!

So here we are on New Years Day. I sort of cringe at resolutions, but really, they are a good idea all year 'round. So if I were forced to say, I would assert the following:

- I resolve to read my Bible more and spend more time in prayer. I have been egregiously neglecting alone time with my God. Having a small child is really no excuse.
- I want to become even more organized in terms of baby and house.
- I want to be the best Education and Outreach Assistant I can be at Ballet San Jose.
- Praying throughout this year for the future of God's church at Dwell, possibly thinking about attempting another kiddo, and therefore possibly another place to call home in this big, expensive town.

So much to think about and look forward to. So much to thank God for. So many new reasons to praise Him and new opportunities to trust Him completely.

Bring it on, 2013!