Posts in March 2013

The Day After

Tomorrow is Easter Sunday, the day of celebration. And yesterday was Good Friday. But what about that day of gloom in between? No one seems to recognize it, but I have always considered it one of the worst days of limbo each year.

When my grandma was admitted to the hospital, we knew to say our goodbyes. I was 15; insecure and troubled with my own inner struggles. She was one that I connected with; I wanted to grow up to be like my grandma. She was kind, gentle and had a full heart of love for everybody. And she never lost the chance to tell us grandkids so. But she had not been herself over the last few years; dementia had nestled into her mind and began to do its unfair damage. It’s such a cruel disease. I had slowly said my goodbyes to the grandma I knew up until the hospital.

The followers of Jesus didn’t get a chance to say their goodbyes over the course of time. Not like I did with my grandma. Of course, he gave them plenty of advance notice, but chances are they were just typical people who didn’t understand his meanings until much later.

Grandma went to be with God pretty soon after she was admitted. Or so I remember. In my memory, it was time. I had let her go, and I didn’t weep like I thought I would have. There was no easy way for the followers of Jesus to let him go. They had to watch him be tried, beaten and torn in two. They watched their beloved hang and bleed, and I can only imagine the sounds of sorrow, anguish and pain from those who loved him as he breathed his last.

They were able to finally say goodbye when he was placed in the tomb. They probably felt defeated, confused and so, so tired. It wears the body down to mourn that hard. I mean, you probably remember the last time you cried so hard your eyes burned. That’s not something you forget – because all your energy is seeped out into tears. I wonder what the memorial service for Jesus was like. Did the soldiers gawk? Did they feel the tiniest bit of pity for the survivors? Did Jesus’ followers try to comfort each other?

The funerals in my family are more like celebrations. We love seeing everyone and catching up. It’s a morbid way for a family reunion, but I am blessed to know that most of my family members know Jesus, and so, it is not a doomed situation. We grieve together, but then we remember. You’ll typically find us laughing and smiling. And I really think that’s how my passed family members would want it.

And then? After the burial? Everyone’s supposed to go “back to normal.”

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Grandma’s locket

I seem to remember holding it together pretty well during my grandma’s funeral. But man, those days following were tough. I think it hit me all of a sudden, and then I was expected to reenter into those difficult and challenging adolescent days. People don’t think to check up on those who’ve lost a loved one very well. I think I could have benefited from a caring person who understood that I hadn’t fully finished mourning. I still have days where I think fondly of her, even all these years later. I know she is with Jesus, but I am selfish and wish she could have met my husband and son. These are the days that I pull out her old jewelry, a memento.

What about the followers of Jesus? What could they have been thinking? Did they feel tricked? Did they even think at all? I have to believe that those who continued with their lives “as normal” the day after Jesus’ death had the most faith in the entire world. They must have known it wasn’t the end.

Seriously, Day 2 is more gloomy and horrible than Good Friday to me. I am grateful to know the rest of the story, and you better believe I’ll be celebrating in the morning!

Posted: March 30th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Comments: 1 Comment.

Sans Diaper

photo (1)We had our first naked baby accident-on-the-floor tonight. I feel like we’ve reached a major milestone.

Wes escaped a diaper change, as he’s been much more fidgety and unhappy about laying down on the changing pad these days. He used to just lay there, patiently. Not anymore. He grabs hold of anything he can and uses it to turn over the nearly 30 lbs of him and climb to his knees. That little naked behind was so funny that I just let him go with it.

He ran up and down the hallway stark naked for about 5 minutes. Pure glee! Something about no clothes – and especially no diaper – is thrilling for little people. And it makes us adults laugh!

After running from me to Steven and back again, he suddenly stopped, looked confused for a second, and then started peeing. He looked down and quickly back up at us with sheer terror.

WHAT IS HAPPENING?!

He ran to me, still peeing, slipped and fell. I had to stifle laughter because the poor kid was so scared. This was the first time he has peed without his diaper on and noticed. I hugged his little naked self and told him it was okay, it happens to everyone.

His head nuzzled my neck and it was pretty adorable overall. (Until I had to wrestle getting a diaper and pajamas on him!)

And for the next few minutes, he kept pointing and grabbing at his diaper, like he understood what happened. Hmm, maybe potty training, which is in the waaaay future, won’t be as difficult as I keep imagining question mark?

Photo credit goes to my gal Nikki who caught this amazing moment a few weeks ago at a friends’ house.

Posted: March 27th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Comments: 1 Comment.

The Leaders of our Pack

I haven’t written much about our dogs, Jake and Lucy, lately. We’re not the type of people who toss the dogs to the side post-baby, but I rather like to think of them as additional toddlers in the house. Okay, so, they don’t take up all our time anymore, we don’t go on as many walks and they spend more time alone than before Wes was born. However, they still hog our bed at night, cuddle on the couch and enjoy lots of snuggles.

Since the dogs aren’t first priority anymore, I’ve noticed some things.

1) The back yard is full of poop. Gross. I spent 45 minutes filling a trash bag full of old dog doo so that I don’t have to watch every step that Wes takes this spring. We haven’t ever really worried about this because we rarely had people stomping around in our yard, and frankly, the lawn mower pretty much took care of our needs… Double gross. But I’m now actually really excited to spend more time outside, running, chasing and kicking balls around.

2) Our house reeks of dog. I used to be much better at keeping up with the dog smell around here. Now I feel like it’s gotten waaaay out of hand. I also used to blame the smell on my super pregnant nose, but I don’t even have that excuse anymore. If I complain about the stink, I can only imagine what people think when they visit. Just cleaning the couches and rug doesn’t cut it.

I think I’ve pinpointed the problem – Jake’s mouth. Seriously. His breed (Italian Greyhound) has frequent dental issues from their lack of panting. His breath has been pretty foul lately, and I think it’s past time to get these rotten teeth extracted. He’s going to be one of those old, toothless dogs – we’ve already pulled several over the years.

To make this post even more gross, here’s why I think our house – mainly our living room –  smells so bad. Jake grooms frequently; pretty much any time he gets comfortable, he finds the need to lick everything. And occasionally he misses and ends up soaking whatever he’s laying on as well. Enter stinky couch!

Of course, we’ll have a whole ‘nother smell issue once it’s warm out and the dogs “sweat.” Ick.

But now that I’ve totally convinced some of you to never invite a dog into your family, here’s the absolutely wonderful things about our furry kids.

  • They love Wes. I mean, truly love him. They follow him around the whole house. From Day 1, they were smitten.
  • Through Jake and Lucy, Wes learned how to love pretty quickly. Parental love and dog love are two completely different things.
  • They are guardians. Sure, they’re not very frightening, but they try to sound so to all those who pass by our big picture window. It’s kinda endearing to know that they want to protect this “pack.”
  • Once they get over your presence in the driveway, and we greet you at the door, they will love you to pieces. And lick your ears. Everyone kind to us is welcome in their domain, haha. In fact, they may sit in your lap. At the same time.
  • They make Wes laugh. Hearing his laugh makes me laugh and life is grand.
  • They let Wes poke, prod and pull. Well, Lucy does. Jake doesn’t like to be disturbed when he is napping, but who does?
  • They provide wonderful company when Steven is out of town and when Wes is asleep. I’m never alone.

So I guess the dog smells, once addressed, can be tolerated for the sake of everything above. And even cleaning up dog poop is pretty manageable.

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Posted: March 23rd, 2013
Categories: Leah
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On Contentedness

My heart is not proud;
  my eyes are not haughty.
I don’t concern myself with matters too great
  or too awesome for me to grasp.
Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself.
Psalm 131:1-2a NLT

Antique White or Ivory Lace? Do you realize how many various shades of white paint you can choose from? I brought home at least 15 different swatches to find the perfect shade for our living room. This will be the third color the walls have seen since we moved in six years ago. You know what’s funny? The walls were white – or Bone Satin – when we bought the place. I can’t seem to find the right “aura” for this particular room. Yellow was short lived, and the current brown is just so dark. I need light, airy space in there…I think.

I’m not going to pretend that I follow the ancient psalm above. My resolutions for 2013 weren’t publicly announced, though I did tell myself that I would practice being content with my life. I’ve been a worrier for as long as I remember, and trusting the Lord has always been a difficult task. So when I poorly jerryrigged a new rod and set of curtains above our big living room window today, I nearly broke down with shame when Steven came home to find my disastrous attempt. He was able to pull them directly off the wall, and they clattered to the floor. I was so ready for a new look that I didn’t care to make sure it was safe.

Here’s the thing. I like our house, but it’s certainly not my dream house. It’s been a wonderful place for us as a newly married couple with furry friends. Sometimes a tiny kitchen is cozy and quaint, and original hardwoods, glass tile and Formica are sought-after in certain markets. While I love the features of our home, I’ve struggled over the years with being happy about its layout. Entertaining people in a small house can be a challenge, and add a toddler to the mix… you get the idea. So small updates, like my curtain and paint idea, have been my go-to remedy for rekindling that first house love.

Sure, you can tell me that it’s all good, I was just excited about decorating, right? Right. I am. And don’t get me wrong, we will install them (properly) soon enough, and we probably will get a wall color picked out eventually. But the point is this: my focus isn’t aligned. I’m not practicing contentedness.

I could easily put the blame to Pinterest or other social media. Everyone posts happy news because they want to celebrate with others, and why not? I do it, too. “Yay! I just saved $173849128374 on my grocery bill!” or “Hooray! Look at these before and after photos of my closet organization!” Some friends have good baby news, some are building a new house, some are going on vacation or bought a new car. While I am happy and rejoice along with them, I know that I’ve taken it to heart in a negative way. I’ve been downright jealous.

Surrounded by family and friends, a wonderful job, a sturdy roof over my head and reliable car to drive, I still long for more. Once the curtains are hung in a newly painted living room, the sting will likely lessen for a while. Then, inevitably, it will creep back. I’ve got to get a handle on this contentedness thing before it consumes. What kind of example will I be for Wes if he sees my unhappiness? Will he think that his love isn’t enough? That things are good for only a little while?

Oh, dear. I guess I’ll start small – like, with the living room. If it doesn’t turn out like a photo on houzz.com, it will be alright. After all, the whole goal for my white wall haven is to provide a feeling of calm and quiet. For Pete’s sake, be still, Leah.

Posted: March 17th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Comments: 4 Comments.

Potatoes, Fevers and I’m a Hot Mess

I generally try to keep this blog positive and non-complain-y, but I have to break the rules occasionally. After all, what is the point of journaling (face it, I don’t blog for money or recognition, so therefore this is my public journal) if it doesn’t act as a release of some sort?

It’s been a tough week of Mom Guilt. And you know what else I’ve realized? I really suck at homemaking.

My job doesn’t typically include grant writing, but occasionally I assist here and there, and one of my proposals is due this coming Monday. It’s done and just needs to be printed and copied multiple times, and I am certainly grateful that I started working on it three weeks ago. But sometimes deadlines press so hard on me that I can’t think. I press onward to beat the deadline… like several days before, if I can. If not, I stress out about all the kajillion things that could stand in my way and make me miss the deadline. Ugghhh my brain!

Enter yet another Wes sickness. This time it’s just a low grade fever and runny nose, but I actually got annoyed at my son for being sick. As if he meant to get in the way of my deadline! And then… it hits.

MOM GUILT.

I have it bad. I feel torn between work and home life. What’s the boundary? If I’m not in the office, or heaven forbid, miss the proposal deadline, what will happen? Will I be needed? YES. Of course I will. That’s why I have a job.

If I’m not at home to comfort my feverish child who just wants his mom, what will happen? Will I be needed? YES. Will I be missed? DOUBLE YES.

You know what’s funny? I don’t consider myself stressed out right now. I tell myself I “just have a lot going on,” but when I look at my work load, I realize that I probably am stressing negatively. In fact, I had a near breakdown this evening when I accused myself of dinner failure. You see, during this week of approaching deadline, I found two large bags of potatoes in my pantry. For some crazy reason, I decided they needed to be eaten RIGHT NOW so that I wouldn’t have to throw them away (sprouts were everywhere). The night before I had attempted a new recipe that involved way too many cloves and not enough orange slices and it was pretty much horrible. And then, these potatoes… bah. My attempt two nights in a row was disastrous. WHO can mess up freaking potatoes?! This girl. I’m a hot mess.

And that week-old load of clean laundry that needs to be put away was ignored again today. Somehow denying it my attention serves as punishment. “Nuh uh, you don’t GET to be put away because of that crazy potato incident!” See? It makes sense.

Wes picks up on it. He was cranky today, too. When the sun decided to make a presence, we headed outside and soaked up our Vitamin D and felt tons better. He’s so much like me that way.

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Thankfully the proposal is done. I had the day off work today anyway, and it worked in my favor. But I need to remember to reevaluate my priorities. My family comes first and foremost. I need to take a chill pill and relax more. On purpose. Even if I don’t feel stressed out, you know? Be present with myself and my husband and my kid. And heck, I threw out the potatoes anyway.

Posted: March 8th, 2013
Categories: Leah
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Winter Blahs Defeated (for free!)

The last few weeks have been cold, rainy, slushy or snowy. Pretty much terrible weather, but especially bad with a little person anxious to discover the world.

I know many mothers who take their kids to the Y or a gym or art class, but we’re bumbly people who don’t do that sort of thing – or have the extra funds for that matter. Since I’ve been working 4-day work weeks the last month or so, it’s been a fun challenge to entertain my guy during “Mom Friday.” And then there’s the weekend.

Yes, there’s all kinds of crafts and activities we do at home, but sometimes you just need to get out of the house, you know? So here’s a few places we’ve been lately, and with great response. Definitely repeating.

1. The Indianapolis Zoo in FebruaryTotal time: 1.5 hours, Total cost: $0

Photo 1(1)Okay, so I’m getting this one out of the way first because for most people it won’t be free. But since my generous parents get our families memberships to the Children’s Museum for Christmas and the Indianapolis Zoo for Mother’s/Father’s Day, we hold a special key. But let me fill you in on a little secret…no one goes to the zoo in winter, so you get the place pretty much to yourself! On a Saturday afternoon in February, there are no gatekeepers to collect parking money.

Based on Wes’ out-of-body experience at the Shedd Aquarium a few weeks ago, we decided to go specifically for the Oceans exhibit. If you stick to the indoor buildings, you don’t need to bundle up very much. There were, like, 5 other people at the zoo that day, so we let Wes run around in the Oceans building and we took our time looking at the fish, sharks and sea horses. He was thrilled with the sea lions and penguins, and when we got to the polar bear at the end of the exhibit, we just turned around and went back through it. It was probably one of the best ideas we’ve ever had. What a great, cheap way to spend an afternoon.

2. Once Upon a ChildTotal time: 45 minutes, Total cost: $0

My mom lives across the street from a second hand children’s retail store. It’s a wonder that I ever buy anything new. They have everything from clothes (separated by color and size), books, strollers & kids’ furniture to toys of all shapes and sizes. There is a play area for the kids to romp and play in while you shop, though I really don’t even need to stick Wes in there as there is plenty to look at and touch within the store itself. We can easily spend a half hour or more just looking around and testing out toys that beep, flash and click.

3. IMCPL Central LibraryTotal time: 1 hour, Total cost: $1

PhotoGridThis morning Wes and I had some time to kill as our house was getting cleaned. (PS – check out my friend Sarah’s Indy Green Queen Cleaning for wonderful, affordable service using her own natural, chemical-free cleaning products!) We headed to the Central Library for an hour of entertainment. I’ve been to this library a dozen times, but I’ve never checked out the children’s area until today. It is fantastic! We’ll be going many many more times. Wes loved the interactive activity wall, bookshelves at his height, oodles of puzzles, blocks and sound-making STUFF.

He was moving the full hour. So much to see and do! For an added piece of fun, we ran into my high school friend, Liesel, and her three children. Wes was fascinated with her 4-month-old daughter, Jemima. He couldn’t get enough of her laughs and smiles.

The best part of the library? The green screened “theatre!” Kids can climb onto a stage that projects their image into a changing scene. Wes enjoyed watching the big kids play football, get stuck in a snowstorm and surf. He worked up enough courage at the end to get on the stage himself and then ran around in circles. Adorable.

We made it out with 3 library books, a fun morning and a tired kid for $1 (parking).

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What are some of your freebie outing ideas? Is there a place we definitely need to check out?

Posted: March 1st, 2013
Categories: Leah
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