Monday, April 27, 2009

Ella Marie, Seven Weeks

Making Faces

Our weekends generally begin much the same way. . . Daddy and Caleb rise for breakfast and early morning cartoons, followed by Mamma and Ella who like to lay-a-bed a bit longer as they usually spend some quality time together during the night. Once all are up, breakfast follows and Caleb often joins me in the chair as I feed Ella. Sometimes we spend most of Ella's breakfast just being silly. Daddy caught a few examples on film for the benefit of all.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Give me Jesus

Last night found me bouncing from one baby to the next until the wee hours of the morning . . . Ella because she is just a ravenous little thing, and Caleb because he caught a terrible cold over the weekend and was still feeling pretty lousy last night. I am feeling a little worn this morning, but also remarkably blessed . . . I know that sounds a little strange, considering I only got about three hours of sleep last night, but my time with my children last night was remarkably sweet . . .

Ella is growing. Fast. Yesterday she tried rolling over and she nearly laughed at her Daddy. I am continually surprised at how fast time flies when I measure it against the changes my children are experiencing. Most days I find that I am so busy with Caleb, that Ella, because she is so content to simply sit in her swing, does just that, and I don't get to hold her or play with her, save when I am feeding her . . . So despite being tired, it is often a pleasure to pull my smiling and hungry daughter from her crib in the middle of the night, cuddle her close to my heart, and feed her as we rock in her nursery until she falls back asleep.

Night time rendezvous with Caleb are a little more rare as he is a marvelous night-time sleeper and rarely wakes unless he has a bad dream, or feels yucky—as was the case last night. But usually he is delirious and emotionally distraught, and it takes quite a bit of time and energy to calm him down and get him back to sleep . . . Not so last night. Last night my son was lucid and utterly delightful. At 1am he called my name (Mommy), and when I stumbled into his room, he sat up in bed and said, "Mommy, I need a dwink. I am wiw-we firsty!" And when I obliged, he wrapped his arms around my neck and thanked me, planted a sweet kiss on my lips and laid back down. But before closing his eyes he reached for me. As I leaned over him he placed his little hands on the sides of my face and said, "Jesus? Pwease?" He wanted me to sing Jesus Loves Me to him. And so I did—of course. We repeated this exact scenario three more times throughout the night, and at 4am he asked if I would snuggle with him when I finished singing . . . I immediately complied. (For those of you who know Caleb, he NEVER cuddles; never has. He is a very "hands-off" sort of fellow, and I have learned that when he asks for a little physical affection, to make the most of the opportunity because it might be a while before he asks again!)

As I lay cuddled up with my little boy, his sweet breath on my neck and his arms wrapped around me, it dawned on me how sweet this gift truly was . . . and how delightful it was to hear him ask for Jesus when he was in need of comfort. While Caleb does not know Jesus as his savior (yet), he does understand that Jesus is his "rescuer" and a source of help. How good it was for me to be reminded by my son in the dark of the night that the name of my Savior is such a source of comfort—for both of us.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Caleb and Ella

I realize I have posted a couple of pictures of Caleb holding Ella, and that they are remarkably similar to this one, but this image is becomming such a regular sight in our home that i feel inclined to share it here. I keep thinking, Ella's novelty to Caleb is going to wear off any minute. And yet almost every morning he asks, "I hold my sister? I hold her? I'm the brother." This is such a gift to me! And while I know Caleb will eventually get "bugged" by his sister, (like when she is into his stuff), for now I will keep taking this picture, and posting it, so I can remind myself and my son when he is particularly irritated and frustrated by Ella, that he is "the brother" and that he loves that role!

All By Myself

While I knew this would be a necessary part of Caleb's adjustment, I never realized how much independence would be necessary on his part with the arrival of his baby sister. It concerned me a bit the first couple of weeks, as Caleb tends to be a bit needy and is continually asking for help . . .even with things he is capable of accomplishing himself (he is a smart little guy and quickly learned, "why do it yourself when someone bigger and stronger can do it for you!?")

With Ella's entrance into our family, Caleb's monopoly on our time and attention has had to be divided, and while that has been the most difficult battle we have faced in this adjustment, it has resulted in new found self-sufficiency on Caleb's part, as well as a few new skills he has quickly picked up—undressing himself (a good thing at home, not-so-much in public), "reading" stories to himself and to us, and most recently, putting a rather-complex puzzle together all by himself. (I am quite proud of this one!) As the puzzle is geared for ages 3 and up, and Caleb is only two and a half, I think I have reason to be pretty proud of my little guy. Regardless of what I think, he is pretty proud of himself as the look on his face in this picture clearly shows! One more sign of independence.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Babies

Caleb and Ella
Easter Sunday
April 12, 2009


Daddy and Caleb spent part of the afternoon on Sunday really delving into the business of construction with the new play dough that Caleb received in his Easter basket. Between a variety of cookie-cutter shapes, rolled dough creatures, and hand prints, I am fairly convinced they both missed their calling, (though Caleb still has time), in the art of sculpture.

Men at Work

Saturday marked the first day here in central Minnesota that the sun actually accomplished something, and the temps hit forty-eight degrees! It was miraculous! Neighbors emerged from their long state of dormancy to reveal significant physical changes—longer hair, taller children, etc. We too emerged, took a long walk, soaked up some desperately needed vitamin D, and my two handsome men immediately set to work unearthing the back yard from last autumn's leaves that somehow never got raked, bagged, and disposed of. This is the first year that Caleb has been big enough, mobile enough, and able to follow instructions (ie, "no running in the street") to be outside and not only thoroughly enjoy the experience himself, but allow us to as well. In my mind, I have yet to experience a longer winter than the one we just lived through . . . something about being bound within four walls, pregnant, and with a red-headed toddler . . .

Anyway, spring is upon us, and despite my husband's realistic perspective, ("Only one more good April snowstorm, and then spring will be here!") I am celebrating the warmth.
Bring the sun!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Terms of Endearment

The more vocal Caleb becomes and the more extensive his vocabulary grows, the more surprised I am at the things that come out of his mouth. I forget that phrases and ideas—thoughts that come out of my mouth—will inevitably come out of his. Fortunately, at least at this point, I can say that Aaron and I have been very careful and have yet to hear very many detrimental words or phrases (of ours) come out of Caleb . . . which is a relief! (Though I am sure this will come at some point); even so, Caleb has a remarkable way of transforming our speech, and it is quite amusing to hear a two-year-old talking as we do.
Case in point: As we were grocery shopping early this week, Ella began fussing in her car-seat carrier, and before I could voice my usual soothing endeavors, Caleb turned around in the front of his grocery cart seat and laid his chubby little hand against her head:

"Don't cry Honey," he said, "It's ok. I love you."
My mouth dropped open and I promptly kissed him and told him what an amazing brother he was. He beamed appropriately.

And again later in the week: As we drove about town, both babies in the back seat, firmly strapped into their car seats and traveling as we usually do—Ella asleep and Caleb chattering on about everything from the color of the stoplights (he tells me how to drive these days), to the height of various buildings—when he suddenly paused and pointed out a new construction site as we drove past. "What's that, Honey?" He asked me. I laughed out loud and looked back at him.
"Did you just call me Honey?" I asked him.
"Honey." he said, nodding and echoing his Daddy perfectly. I laughed again.
"I'm the Mommy." I said
"You the Mommy." He repeated with a grin. "I'm the Caleb."
"You're the Caleb." I laughed again, "The one and only." Again the grin and he returned to commenting on his surroundings as we drove past them.

Aaron told me later that night that Caleb had called him "Honey" as well, which seemed especially amusing to both of us . . . but it caused us to be thankful too . . . that it was this name, this term of endearment, that had apparently fallen so frequently from our lips . . . that he felt compelled to use it as he heard us doing. What a relief, and a fabulous reminder of how fully we influence our son—for the bad and the good!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Four Weeks

Saturday, April 4. Ella Marie is four weeks old today!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


I was convinced Ella was a boy. In fact, I hoped she was. I can look back at my conviction now with a smile and know that it was founded out of fear—my reasoning following along these lines: "I only know how to do boys!" Apparently God thought differently.

You would think, that being a girl would alleviate some of my intrepidation . . . quite the contrary. It terrified me (prior to Ella's arrival that is). My first thought at the revealing ultrasound, after recovering from shock, was 'Oh God, what are you thinking? I am going to ruin her! Look at me . . . I'm a mess!' And I am, in all honesty . . . but fortunately, my Heavenly Father seems to specialize in messes—certainly in the daily redemption of them.

And so at twenty-two weeks pregnant, my thinking shifted from blue to pink. I was on shaky ground, let me assure you. For those of you who know me, I am not a fan of pink . . . never have been. (God must have found this very amusing). I saw myself as the ideal person to wrangle an armload of boys. And had that been the case, I am sure I would have been fine. However, God looked at me in all of my attempted self assurance, and saw the reality of my broken need to be loved more than needed . . . to be held, (something my son had never really done). And so he gave me a daughter. He gave me Ella.

She came out reaching for me, and when she settled on my chest for the first time, she literal pulled into me and instantly quit crying. I, of course, instantly began, and realized for the first time just what I would have missed had God given me what I thought I wanted. . .

My daughter is asleep in her chair next to me as I write this, and every once in awhile she grunts contentedly . . . I've not the slightest inkling of her dreams, but I can't help but sigh over her in wonder. She is dressed almost entirely in pink (I know, I know, laugh). I simply can't get enough of her.

At times, I am still afraid of her . . . afraid of the perceptive girl she will be, the way she will look at me and know if I am telling the truth. I am afraid of the emotional and creative young woman she will become; how she will hate me passionately at times, and then love me with equal passion. I am afraid of pushing her too hard, of not pushing her hard enough; of not letting her make her own mistakes, and of watching her repeat mine. I am afraid for her . . . of the pain she will experience that I cannot shield her from; for the dreams that will never be realized; of the love she will undoubtedly be denied, and of the love that will be reciprocated and make her another's.

But tonight . . . tonight I am going to take a deep breath and just be thankful. I'll put the future on hold a little bit longer and hold my baby. This I know for certain: God knew exactly what he was doing with my heart when He gave me a girl . . . and I am irrevocably altered . . . for the best.


"An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered."
-G. K. Chesterton

I've been dwelling on inconveniences a bit lately: the stomach flu that rages through my home . . . a new baby who sleeps in very small measures . . . a winter blizzard in April . . . a body that still has yet to fit into her pre-pregnancy clothes . . . a toddler who cannot and will not show any sign of self-control . . . I could go on and on. But not today.

Being a writer forces me to look at life in story format. This blog is a perfect case-in-point. But one of the greatest sources of frustration for me, is that as of late, my life does not offer the sort of adventure I crave. Almost all the activities, the pleasures, even the vices I once enjoyed are a bit out of reach—simply because my time, my energy, and my creativity are invested elsewhere at the moment . . . and for the next gazillion-moments to come . . . or at least until my children are potty trained, can dress themselves, and manage to scrounge the kitchen on their own for adequate sustenance.

Yet, as I drove home from the grocery store last week, dwelling too heavily on some of this, it struck me quite suddenly how fleeting these days actually are; how brief the inconveniences. Glancing in the backseat at my children, I wondered with a fierce stab of guilt if I was approaching this from the wrong angle. How many times have I heard women around me tell me to slow down and enjoy the time I have with my babies, because it is over so fast? While I have tried to appreciate and follow the words of advice, they generally barely filter through my sleep, food, and strength-deprived consciousness, and so I struggle to grasp their weight.

But looking at these babies of mine today, these tiny people filled with infinite possibility and mystery, I am gripped by the knowledge that these two are the greatest gift I have been given (cliche', I know). Perhaps even more, they are they greatest gift I have to give. They will remain when I cease. Their stories will continue where mine ends. And anything of value I wish to say will be said through them.

So, as Chesterton would assert, however inconvenienced I may or may not feel in these chaotic, exhausting days, I am living in the midst of the most amazing adventure I may ever be allowed to experience. And that's something worth writing about.