Introspective Insights

Introspective - adj: Examining sensory and perceptual experiences. Insight - n: The capacity to discern the true nature of a situation.

It Won’t Be Long Now

I’m counting the days until little Zachary John makes his appearance. Everything is going well. The midwives think that he is much smaller than Kayla was and he is head down and ready to go. Everyday seems slow when waiting for something this big to happen. I hate that I just used such a simple word as “big” to describe giving birth and the experience of raising another child. In truth the magnitude of it all is alluding me at the moment. I’m just trying to take one day at a time.

Everything is ready – at least physically – his room, clothes, even diapers and wipes all loaded up into the changing table. My bag and his are packed. Yet everyday I keep wondering, am I ready? Mentally ready? I’m trying to stay positive, to take the memory of the chaos of those first few weeks with Kayla in perspective. To remember that I was new to everything and at least this time there are only some aspects that are completely new. Like the fact that he is a completely different person – with a different personality and habits among many other things of course.

I’m not sure what I had to say in this post that is very profound, but more just me trying to grasp the stillness and quiet before this joyous change. It reminds me more than ever that I have to trust God in all things. He has given me the gift of this little boy. Zachary John means “remembered by a gracious God.” Because he has remembered me, I know that he will be with me through this.

Don’t Let it Get Away

I’ve been subconsciously avoiding this topic for awhile because it means that I have to admit something to myself – that Kayla is growing up and time is flying forward at light speed. I’ve been sort of watching it all happen out of the corner of my eye in denial as if somehow avoiding this topic will prevent that truth from occurring. But it is happening. In some ways I don’t even recognize my baby.

She talks is complete sentences now and some of the things we talk about are even surprising to me. With the new baby on the way it reminds me that in some ways she will be forced to grow up a little bit more. This makes me sad, but in the same way I know it will be good for her. She pats my belly and says hi to “baby brudder” just about everyday. Yesterday she asked if baby brudder could come out and play dinosaurs with her. Today she said “he really wants out, right now!” When we told her that she would teach him how to play she just smiled and growled and laughed like she does in her sweet, little excited way.

But tonight as I laid down with her as she was falling asleep, all I could see was my baby girl in the half light. Her sweet cherub face filling my view, her little thumb in her mouth, her eyelashes fluttering, fighting the sleepiness. I pulled her close and kissed her. I wished the moment would last forever.

In some ways I guess it will – she will always be my baby girl no matter what happens and no matter how old she is.

The Distraction of Electricity

Over this past weekend we spent 40 hours without electricity. It started Friday night about 7pm when a storm passed through and knocked out the power. (Thankfully we still had hot water.) This is very unusual for our area and we were surprised to find that our neighbors across the street all had power. We found out later that only about 35-40 houses in our neighborhood were out.

As we sat there in the dark that night, under the faint glow of the street light across the street, I pondered how much we rely on electricity not just for the normal day to day operations such as the hair drying, dish washing, and microwaving, but for the distractions of everyday life.

Jerry and I were forced to just sit there, literally, and talk in the romantic candle light. We talked about everything we could think of and enjoyed the candles that had been collecting dust for months. The candles in our fireplace had only been lit once since we put them in this spring – what a travesty! I pulled out every new, scented candle I’ve been forgetting to try and put them out. It was so quiet…no hum of some distant appliance or even the quiet static of the baby monitor. Most importantly, no computer, Internet or *gasp* BLOG to distract us from what we should really be doing – spending time together.

The next morning, the transformer down the street was repaired and we went back to life as normal – washing clothes, sending emails, and blow drying hair. But the story doesn’t end here, a little more than 24 hours later, we hear a shocking “ka-pow!” and the power went out again. In some ways I was annoyed, I really wanted to crosstich that night and there is just no way to do that in the dark, even with a great flashlight! In other ways, it was a relief. There was no way I could catch up on some of my work projects or get sucked into the Internet that night.

We sat outside watching the stars and gazing at the moon rising. It was cool outside and quiet – we sipped our coffee and talked softly. For once I was thankful for the lack of distractions…for being forced to do nothing but relax. It was as if God was trying to tell us in an indisputable way to just put the difficult week behind us and be still. Well, thanks Big Guy – we needed that!

The Blossoming Belly

Well, for those of you who don’t know, Baby Powell v2.0 is on the way. This pregnancy has been very odd or maybe not odd in the “statistical significance” sense, but odd in the “not like the other one” sense. We tried for several months to get pregnant and after watching just about every other female family member get pregnant before me, we were finally blessed with the digital readout at the crack of dawn (6:30am 5/31) of “Pregnant.” I was happy and excited but so bleary eyed that the tears ran down my cheeks on the outer rim of my eyes instead of the inner rim near my nose. Weird? Odd? Yeah, it was. Because we were on vacation, we promptly went back to sleep until Kayla woke up.

The weeks following involved exponential weight gain (12 lbs in 6 weeks – thanks wacky thyroid!), nausea in the evening – what’s that talk about “morning” sickness? Don’t know about that… And being smacked on the head with a two by four fatigue at random times of day. For a couple of weeks, Jerry just tucked me in at about 9pm.

Suddenly at 10 weeks – I came back to life! I could stay awake in the evenings! I tossed out my saltines that I had permanently attached to my person! I made it through the late afternoon without a snack! Ahhhhh…but then the belly popped out. And with a vengeance it went forth in its glorious round girth. There should be some law against “popping” before week 13. In one week, normal clothes became 2-3 inches too small. Maternity clothes from my previous pregnancy were all for the wrong season, so only a few worked at this stage. But all was not lost – $100 later – two pairs of pants and three shirts joined my life and brought me over to chic maternity land. Who knew that I looked so good in mint green? Or that the inventor of the “miracle pant” would now become a beneficiary in my will? Could sleek khaki pants and breast-hugging shirts somehow make me a better person? I guess that all remains to be seen.

On July 11 we went in for my first midwife appointment. After all the talk about twins, she thought it best to do an early ultrasound verification. One little baby was hanging around in there – its little heartbeat flickering. All of a sudden – it started jumping around – thrashing its little arms and legs as if it knew it was on camera and as if to say, “Hi Mom and Dad – I’m doing good in here!!!” Our midwife laughed in surprise and said, “that is so unusual to see the baby moving this early.” Well, as we have seen with Kayla, we don’t have ordinary babies (and I mean this in the best possible way of course). Of course our baby would move around like mad at 9 1/2 weeks!

Two weeks later (11 weeks or so), I felt that flutter feeling (Moms, you know what I’m talking about). Now with “normal” pregnancies this usually happens around 16-18 weeks. I stood there thinking to myself, “Naaaahhhhh, this is pretty early.” It’s as if this baby heard my thoughts and decided to do it…hmmm…seven more times! I know without a doubt that was the baby moving. I don’t care what anyone else says. My midwife confirmed today that without the placenta in front as it was with Kayla, it is pretty likely that I’m more sensitive to movement and I did feel this little one moving.

At my appointment today we very easily heard the baby’s heartbeat – slower than Kayla’s, but very strong as if to say, “I’m strong and healthy, Mom and Dad.”

I’m pretty convinced that like Kayla, this baby is going to have a story to tell when we meet him or her for the first time. (Kayla’s was a pretty intense story as she screamed bloody murder for 45 minutes straight right after she was born. No little baby wah, wah for her!) It’s been very different than last time, but so calm and peaceful. It is odd, but I’m looking forward to giving birth. Maybe I am slightly naive as I did not even have one contraction with Kayla (c-section due to her size – 10lbs 3oz), but I have a sense of rightness with this whole process.

As for now, the belly continues to grow. I rub it and dance often – just to make Kayla and Jerry laugh. Ironically, even though this blossoming is so important, so unique and so well, fun this time, I have not taken one picture of it in its spherical glory. I guess it’s off to select the appropriate photo shoot look and start clicking away.

Sweet, Sweet Summer…

Well, here we are…it’s official…the calendar may not say the first day of summer, but it might as well be. Summer unofficially started weeks ago…and isn’t glorious!

Maybe you don’t agree and well, I wouldn’t blame you. The shocking transition from 55 degrees to 85 isn’t for the faint of heart and can make some of us even irritated with the idea of a new season. I’m with you…I get it…but I’m here to talk about the good stuff. The stuff that summer dreams are made of.

There is nothing like gazing at the greenest, most perfectly trimmed patch of grass and just imaging yourself lying on it, petting it. Ohhhh…this love of freshly cut grass has exhibited itself in me very strangely. I have visions of sleeping on it…I think that is why I took up golf. I can’t help but love the perfectly manicured greens. When people aren’t looking I stroke that grass as if it were my small, furry pet. How can’t you love that crisp smelling field of perfection?

And the flowers – is there anything like the sight of orange daylillies (and they are everywhere around here these days) smiling in the breeze – swaying so gently as if singing a lullabye.

And the sky so blue you can’t imagine that it could be real – contrasting with the crisp white clouds floating by.

All of this enticing beauty – beckoning me to be a part of it…stirring a longing in me so pure and so exciting. I long to see a lake – not any lake, but Lake Michigan – part lake, part ocean. Big enough that I can’t imagine its end, small enough to believe that it can be embraced. I imagine looking out…hearing the waves crash, the seagulls call, the sandpipers flit way with their tiny little feet.

Looking out into the endless blue reminds me that this is all a gift from a Creator that longs to know us so intensely that he would use any noble means possible to get our attention. Which brings me to a breathtaking watercolor sunset. Always unique, always quiet, and always gently asking, “Meet me here again tomorrow?” How kind, how thoughtful, how delightfully loving He is.

So do yourself a favor tonight, tomorrow or the next day…go outside – maybe at dusk – check out the canvas near you. Now I know in my postage stamp of suburbia I can’t really see the full sunset, but I can see the pink and purple streaks reflecting in the sky and the lightening bugs starting to flicker here and there. Get out there…be quiet, be still, and know that He is God.


The Magnitude of Folding Undergarments

Don’t be alarmed by the name of this post. I won’t be sharing scary stories about my own undergarments or (even scarier) my husband’s. Last night, I was folding my daughter’s clothes – excited (probably more than she) over all the cute things she just got for her birthday. That crisp little white skirt with the aqua polo embroidered with little hearts – brilliant! If only they made things so perfectly cute for me (and I could actually wear them without looking childish). That was when I stumbled upon them while aimlessly reaching into the basket – 7 pair of little undergarments – pictures of Disney princesses on them. I picked up the first one, folded it and was shocked at how small it was. Mystified by how such a tiny package was about to make such a big impact on me. You see, she hasn’t actually worn them yet. I bought them in preparation for the diaper free utopia I hope to experience in the near future. But as I continued to fold each one, I couldn’t believe how tiny they were – each little brightly colored nub stacked on top of each other – in contrast to what they represented – the end of the diaper and wipe era.

“She’s growing up,” I thought. What?!?! How could this be happening? Today it’s panties, tomorrow it’s her first car?!?! I was overcome – the tears started welling up. In a word, I was vehklempt! I had the urge to hide them away – or worse, toss them into the trash with all of the other things I’m vainly attempting to avoid. But I did what I was supposed to (I’m a rule follower at heart – but will break rules in the spirit of the right thing to do). I put them perfectly folded into the basket to put in her drawer the next day. The top drawer – next to the silly infant hats that I can’t part with even though they never fit her wibbly, wobbly head and the 75 barettes she refuses to wear.

So the magnitude of undergarments you ask? The magnitude is the fact that my baby just turned 2. If you don’t have children, this doesn’t sound like a very long time, but for those of you that do, you know it is a lifetime. A lifetime of constant newness, of mindblowing changes, of ultimate highs of the first smile, laugh, “Love you, Mama” and ultimate lows of sleepless nights and a child in pain. My heart swelling and overflowing with love and breaking all at the same time. An indescribable journey of matchless joy.

As far as my own undergarments, well, they just aren’t worth mentioning.

Papers and Pens and Journals, Oh My!

Office supplies…the mere mention brings a dreamy smile to my face while visions of brightly colored, sparkly gel pens float in my head. Memories of the smell of sharpies…the crisp feeling of paper in my hand. The rich, musky smell of a leather bound journal. My adhesive in hand, my reflection mirrored back in the silver paper trimmer. Ahhhh…what else is there in life?

Even more wonderful – the feeling of cracking open a hard bound book for the first time. I sometimes wonder if they make books extra crispy for me! Or better yet, the feeling of a paperback held firmly in my hand as I devour the pages.

It is ironic that the paper and pen medium appeals to me so much. I probably have about 20 journals, of which I’ve written in maybe 5 or 6. But I keep buying them. I just can’t help myself. My latest purchase was a red leather one with a heart embossed on the front. I was captivated by the thick scent beckoning me from under the plastic wrapping…it was more expensive than the others, but I kept coming back to show my affection. In the end it enticed me by wearing its heart on its sleeve. I was consumed! OK, OK, I’m not completely obsessed, it actually is in use – my husband and I write love notes back and forth in it. Sometimes I just pick it up and pet its beautiful, embossed cover. You little rascal, I hear you calling me now! Perhaps you will get your wish my pretty – hubby deserves a love note today.

Back to the irony – it is ironic how I really believe I will write in the journals – that I will use that new pen that feels so perfect in my hand and glides so effortlessly over the pages, but alas, both collect dust. Instead I’m here in cyberspace. Clicking away on my keyboard in a relatively sterile smelling office (where is that coffee candle when I need it?) with the shadow of an overflowing pencil cup in my peripheral vision. Here is where I can share my thoughts…here is where I can scrupulously edit each sentence with the miracle of spell and grammar check. Here is where I can make that font LARGER! Who could have dreamed of such perfection? Typing almost as quickly as the thoughts go through my head…fingers perched on the home keys…the white glow of the monitor warming my heart. I guess it is official…I’m a geek…I’m a blogger now…I’ve moved to the next dimension. At least for now…

Oh maybe tomorrow that cute little white joural with the purple flower on it will have its day, the purple gel pen patiently waiting by its side. Maybe the 5 books I’m in the process of reading will experience the joy of living their purpose – being read by a person instead of rotting in a drawer! But for now I continue to type…or maybe it’s off to Amazon where I can browse the books, quietly clicking to turn the pages.

The Sound of Silence
It is not often when you have a small child that you can truly envelop yourself in silence. Yet today is one of those rare moments when my husband is not home and my daughter is asleep. Ironically still is that there are no environmental sounds – the soft thud, thud of the dryer, the swish and drain of the dishwasher…nothing. The only sound I hear is the occasional soft, sweet sighs of Kayla as she drifts deeper into sleep. How sweet and calming this is. It used to be that I wouldn’t let myself enjoy such a peaceful moment. Shouldn’t I be doing something? Cleaning, ironing, washing dishes, making a neglected phone call, emailing pictures, sending invitations. No…not tonight. Tonight I’m quiet…at least for now. Listening. God has given me this moment to hear him and I’m listening for the still, small voice.

Have you heard God talking? Have you listened for that voice? Maybe you expected something else…something loud and dramatic. That is what the world wants us to think. The loudest voice drowns out all others – the biggest, flashiest object gets our attention. But is that what we really want to have? Is that really what we need?

We were recently at Disney World and I remember thinking in amazement that a vacation here is the highlight of many people’s year. I’m not saying that this is a bad thing – it was enjoyable to be there and there was much fun to be had. But I was thinking of people that obsess about being there, that this place is the one bright spot for them to look forward to. It is as if for some people the fantasy land that exists there is preferred over what real life is. Somehow this struck me as sad. We are so wrapped up in what we see and can feel and touch and experience that we sell ourselves out for created treasures rather than unseen treasures that only God can give us.

What are those treasures? What about freedom from worry or fear, a mind at rest, peaceful sleep, hope in all things, joy in all circumstances. As you seek to know who God is personally (not through the eyes of others) these things will come.

I looked at the people around us thinking of the motto of Disney World, “Where Dreams Come True.” What is your dream? For a child maybe it does involve meeting their favorite character at Disney. But as an adult, my dream is to leave a legacy of love and respect to my children – for them to know that the ultimate dream and fantasy is not Cinderella’s Castle, but the streets of gold in heaven. For them to experience the treasures of knowing who God really is.

So for now I’m listening…listening for the purpose that God has put me here. Listening for the dreams I have to come true with his help. Silently embracing the treasures he has given me.

Pure Joy
I was reminded today of how important reflections on the simple things in life are to keeping our joy. My daughter was running through the house with the pure expression of boundless joy on her face screaming “I’m gonna get you Daddy!” The simplest joy – being able to run and jump can somehow put a tiring, draining day into perspective. This is what matters…not the time spent working on someone else’s problems. It is in the everyday, simple moments where the true meaning of life is found. In the quietness of a peaceful home with little feet pattering…with the soft sound of “love you, Mama.”

Maybe you don’t have children…it never seemed like something you could do. Yeah, I was there once too – only imagining the hassles, the change that seemed too overwhelming to embrace. Then one day she was here…I was confused and tired, like any new mother, overwhelmed to the pit of exhaustion wondering what I had done. And then one day, she looked at me through her tears as if to say, “are you my Mama?” And I looked back through my own and realized that yes, I was her Mama and that an extension of my heart and soul was in my arms. I could feel and touch this wonderful new life and nothing could ever change that – nothing else mattered.

Life isn’t always those meaningful, earthshattering moments and being a Mom isn’t always a trascending experience. But I will never change the feeling of little tiny arms hugging me or seeing her effervescent, smiling face running towards me with her arms stretched wide.

Today was not what I wanted, not what I aspired to, not what I wished it to be…but the short, sweet time spent with my girl is what I needed. May your joy be found in the quiet observations of everyday moments.

Introspective Insights

introspective
adj : examining own sensory and perceptual experiences

in·sight
n. The capacity to discern the true nature of a situation; penetration.
The act or outcome of grasping the inward or hidden nature of things or of perceiving in an intuitive manner.