Sunday, November 20, 2011

View From Up Here

It is common knowledge that life has peaks and valleys. I doubt the theory needs any more explanation from me. That's just the way that life is; however, just knowing that peaks exist doesn't necessarily help get you out of a valley and knowing that life may get better doesn't instill confidence that it actually will.

Marriages have the same topography—the heights of love and the lows of loathing—but I think the valleys in marriage are especially frightening.

I originally followed the preceding sentence with the word "because," but then realized I had to replace that word with a period. The valleys in marriage are just frightening period. I have some theories, but it doesn't really matter why they're so scary. Maybe it's because we usually start out on peaks in love and don't have to work at all to get there the first time. Maybe it's because we rarely see examples of couples who have gotten out of valleys. Maybe it's because we're experienced enough to know that the dizzying highs we feel in a new relationship are chemical reactions that are impossible to recreate in a long-term relationship. Maybe your reasons are different from mine.

When our daughter was born, I mean right after she was born, I felt more in love with Peter than I had since we were dating. I couldn't tell him enough how much I loved him. . . that feeling was short-lived. The third or fourth time I got up to feed Lydia and a sleeping Peter muttered an unconscious complaint, I thought, "I hate him so much," and for several months, even though I tried very hard to choose to love, I didn't feel anything akin to love. I loved my baby girl. I mean, I loved my baby. . . No, I mean, I looooooooooved my baby girl. Peter, I could take or leave.

It was scary.

I told myself that this was just a valley and it was just temporary, but it didn't feel temporary. It felt like I'd done the love thing and now I'm doing the parent thing. I thought I just needed to accept that this is a different stage of my life. . . one I don't like it at all, but one we're stuck with.

Why do I tell this story? So that I can tell the ending. Turns out, it was just a valley. And after Peter and I walked far enough through it, we reached its end and the ground began to rise beneath our feet. Our relationship just gradually got more and more friendly, more and more loving, more and more passionate until I feel like we're in as good a spot as we've ever been.

Peter and I went on a trip to Arizona last weekend and it was like a second honeymoon. I hadn't really even realized that we were climbing out of the valley until I saw the view from the mountain top and realized we'd made it.

I can't tell you how we made things better—at least, my goal here is not to offer any relationship advice. I only share this story to encourage you that there really are more peaks out there. Keep going. It's worth it.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

So Far, So Good

I have now officially been a Stay-At-Home Mom for two weeks and—hold on, The Bunny just woke up—okay, I'm back. These two weeks been amazing! I had no idea I would enjoy this as much as I do.

Of course, life is less stressful now. It seems like that should go without saying; I mean, this is practically a vacation, but I wasn't sure what to anticipate. The fact of the matter is that while I have to run a household on a tighter budget than I did with two incomes, I have the whole day to run it. I have all day to accomplish the tasks that I used to try to get done in a couple hours. I do have to get things done with the interference of a toddler who likes to turn our house into an obstacle course, so it's a good thing I have so much time.

Now, the last time I wasn't working I was excessively pregnant, so I didn't do much more than watch Battlestar Galactica and eat gummy worms. This time around, I'm trying to make the most of my time. I have a to-do list app (Do It Tomorrow) on my phone and absolutely anything I think of goes on there. I don't rely on my memory at all. From the time Peter leaves for work until the time he comes home, I work through that list, trying to get as much crossed off as possible. I feel like I'm getting a lot accomplished and am really pleased to have a clean house for the first time in ages. Also, I actually have time to get out and play with Lydia, which brings me to the second big reason this time at home has been such a blessing.

I feel, quite unexpectedly, like I've gotten to know my daughter on a whole new level. It wasn't as if I caught her doing things that she's never done before, but more that I didn't realize the extent to which her "little quirks" were a substantial part of her personality. She's intensely affectionate. She's clever but rebellious. She's more mature than I was prepared for—closer to a child now than a baby.

It frightens me to realize how much I missed as a working parent. I'm in favor of working moms. I've always wanted to be a working mom. I would never claim that you have to stay at home to know your child; however, even though I know others make it work, it seems clear that I was not.

I don't want to delude myself that this is always going to be easy or that I'll enjoy it forever (I am still looking for part-time work, after all), but right now I'm feeling the freedom that comes from being in the right place at the right time in your life. This not working works for me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

In Which Sarah Stays Home

I tried the working mom thing, and I failed.

It was all going swell until the end of my daughter's first year. I'd missed her while working, of course, but honestly, not as much as I expected to. When I was at work, I was focused on work and when I was at home I enjoyed her company as I did my chores and errands. Then a couple different things happened.

First, she learned to walk; suddenly she wasnt just a passive observer lying on her play mat as I went about my daily life. Remember that blog I used to have, yeah, now I don't even have time to READ blogs let alone write them. My entire day after is spent keeping her out of the dog food and off of the stairs. Cleaning sticky hands and then cleaning spilled milk (and as someone whose car is starting to smell from a hundred tiny spills, I can tell you it definitely makes me cry). After she goes to sleep, I summon the little energy I have to just get the house put back together, much less actually get ahead.

The second thing that happened was she learned to talk and it turned out, she's really fun! I could spend all day just playing with her. Running errands with her is exhausting but great; she always has a comment (unintelligible, of course) to make. I never ever considered being a teacher and never really considered myself a kid person, but watching Lydia begin to explore and learn about the world around her makes me want to be a part of it. I don't see myself home-schooling her and struggling to pretend I know Algebra and Economics, but I do want to teach her the alphabet and colors, and the one or two hours we get at home between work and bed isn't enough.

So last week, I let my contract at my job run out and I went home. I'll be trying to find a part-time job, so prayers and leads are welcome.

I'm a little bit (incredibly) scared about what this means. I'm scared about giving up on my career. I worked so hard to get where I was and then the layoff last year definitely set me back. I feel like this is me surrendering on my dream of being a successful career-woman. What if I never become anything but a mom? What if I'm 40 and unemployable?

The other scary thing is giving up a second income. I don't know how long it will take for me to find a part-time job. I don't know if I have what it takes to run a family on one income. As you may have gathered, neither finances nor DIYing are my fortes. I don't even know where coupons come from!

So here I am, on Day 1 as a SAHM. I have no idea how long this is going to last or how hard it's going to be, but I intend to savor every moment of it.

I'm beginning to believe that if you've got life figured out, you're probably in a coma. In real life, the ground moves beneath your feet. Sometimes it moves slowly, like sand washing in and out with the waves on a beach. Sometimes it moves fast and dangerously, like an earthquake. Either way, you've got to learn to adjust and keep going. That's why this blog is called This Awkward Age—the awkwardness never ends.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Awkward Motherhood: My First Mother's Day

I issued an executive directive this weekend: We are not going to be celebrating Mother's Day in our house.

I mean no disrespect to the rest of you who are into that scene, but as for me and my house, we're going to lay low and hide from the universe. Holidays and I do not get along. There's always too much pressure for the day to be perfect, or if not perfect, at least better than average. It's tempting fate. Holidays are, from my perspective, looking out at a brewing thunder storm and announcing that it looks like a lovely day to fly a kite. You're just begging to be struck down, charred and crispy.

The last thing I need in my year is another holiday and in my opinion Mother's Day is the most manufactured holiday of them all. At least Valentine's day is associated with a saint. Mother's Day is just a day where culture guilts you into proving your appreciation for your mom (and let's face it, if your mom didn't think you loved her the rest of the year, there's no way you're going to turn it around in one day with some grand gesture).

I will spare you the details of my Mother's Day weekend, I don't want to get started complaining, but I will say that it started out with our dryer dying and included losing a paycheck, spilling milkshake in my car, and cutting my finger on a knife. These were no permanent disasters and if this were just any weekend it would have just been stressful, but you add the we're-going-to-have-a-pleasant-relaxing-day-or-die-trying pressure of a holiday and the celebration became a curse.

So while Peter and I lay in bed, absolutely beaten down by the day, I told him, "We will not be celebrating Mother's Day any more. Lydia can make homemade cards until she's too old for it to be cute, but beyond that, just throw me a 'Thanks, hun' throughout the year and we'll call it even."

I was single long enough to realize that simply being a Mom is itself a gift. And by the way, thanks guys, I love it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Story of the Little, Lost Bird

"If you become a bird and fly away from me. . . I will be a tree that you come home to."
The Runaway Bunny by Margaret Wise Brown

This is the story of the little bird I saved. When is say "saved," I mean, "managed not to accidentally kill."

Thursday is our watering night. While I was out by the side of the house trying to reach the spots the sprinkler couldn't get to, I noticed what I thought was dried grass clippings blowing in the wind. I realized that this was was actually a bird—a young bird—and my heart sank. While the bird wasn't tiny, it clearly wasn't full grown. It wasn't injured but wasn't trying to fly. I looked around for a nest, but couldn't find one in the small crepe myrtle trees nearby. There was an old nest in a vent high on the side of our house, but I wasn't even aware if it was being used  anymore.

I grew up in the country and with my sister attempted many times to help displaced young bunnies and birds. It ne'er worked. The animals always died. It is pretty obvious that an intelligent, caring, equipped human can't replace the animal's actual mom; that's why students take animal husbandry courses to do what the dumbest animals do by instinct. I am not a zoo keeper or a vet, so I realized immediately that this little birds was a lost cause. My heart broke. The thought of watching this small life slowly die outside our home was just wrenching. I could leave the bird where it was, but then I'd just be waiting for one of the local cats or dogs to eat it.

I grabbed Peter and we checked out the small trees nearby. Peter decided that the bird must have come from the nest in the vent since there were clearly no nests in the trees. The vent was small and dark and we couldn't see any birds inside, but it was entirely possible they were there. 

Peter climbed the ladder and put the bird inside, but I was still pretty worried. On the one hand, that HAD to be the nest; on the other hand, I didn't hear any noise coming from the area. On the one hand, there was no way we could properly care for a baby bird even if we wanted to; on the other hand, what if we had just stuffed a little baby creature into a hole that wasn't it's home where it would starve all alone!

Peter was so patient with me as I fretted and we talked about our options. He asked if we should get the bird out. I told him I had no idea what to do to keep it alive. Peter told me that his family had kept birds as pets growing up and he'd done it before. I reminded him that there would be no one at home all day like there had been in his house. Peter pointed out that the bird was almost grown anyway. He clearly didn't want a wild bird in the house, but he could tell how worried I was and was pretty generous in offering to take the bird in.

As we were standing there debating whether or not to go back up the ladder and retrieve the bird, we saw the flap on the vent above us start to move. Suddenly the little bird hopped out! It would have been adorable if it hadn't seemed so tragic!

The bird hit the ladder and bounced off and onto the ground where it landed on its neck.

I felt sick! The little guy wasn't moving as we scooped him up and checked him out. I was on the verge of tears, but Peter assured me the bird was okay, just stunned. I was sure he was just being comforting; the still, fragile bird looked like it would soon be gone. Peter told me to go inside and see what we'd need to buy to be able to feed the bird. I was pretty sure he was just trying to distract me while the bird died, but I was eager not to be around when that happened, so I hurried off.

The first little piece of info I came across in my Google search was that mother birds feed their babies every 20 minutes. Holy smoke! We were clearly not going to be able to do that for the bird. It was looking pretty grim.

Then I found a site that offered the suggestion of putting the bird in a berry basket in a nearby tree or bush. It said that birds will often continue to feed their young even if they're transplanted from the nest. I don't have a berry basket but I did have an old, plastic basket filled with junk in the garage. We filled the basket with grass and put the bird in. Then we stuck it in tightly between the branches of the crepe Myrtle.

We went inside and I broke down. Seriously, everything seemed like a much bigger deal than it should have. To cheer myself up, I snuck into Lydia's room to watch her sleep. 

The next day I was not thinking about the bird at all. I was trying to get ready for work when Peter called me to the door. The little bird's mother had been feeding her. The basket nest had worked! Later that day, I got this text from Peter: The little birdie just flew!!

He'd been on his way to his car when he saw the little bird follow its mom out of the tree. I can't believe it worked! I can't believe the bird didn't get eaten by a dog or fried by the sun! I can't believe the bird's mom came back for it!

We see the fragility of life demonstrated daily. As a mom, it's nice to Be reminded of life's resilience as well.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tiny Blossom of Victory

 "And God said, 'Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.' And it was so."
Genesis 1:11

I have conquered the earth. And this tiny flower, who's name I can't even remember, is my trophy.

I do not have a green thumb. I don't necessarily have a black thumb, but I'm not even responsible and diligent enough to start a garden, let alone kill one. I can never remember when planting season is for flowers, which isn't aided by department store garden centers that display their seeds in the spring when plants should be blooming and Christmas trees during the planting season. So I wander through Lowes every spring infatuated by the rows of colorful flowers in full bloom. I know I could buy them all and bring them home, but it feels like cheating (and kind of a waste of money) to plant flowers that someone else started.

In addition, I've been focused more on my lawn than flower bed. Since Peter first bought a house in 2008, I've taken it as a personal challenge to create a beautiful, suburban yard. I grew up mostly out in the sticks, and while I loved having wild woods outside my door to play in, the grass-is-greener part of me always daydreamed of having (literally) greener grass to play in.

So obsessed was I with this project that the year after Peter and I got married, I proposed we tear out the mix of grasses that spottily covered our front yard and re-seed. God bless him, Peter agreed for some unknown reason. And it looked fabulous (for three months) until in my zeal, I over applied weed killer and killed the yard pretty completely…at least we tried(?). In the end, it didn't really matter. We moved a few months later and I had to start over again. Except this time, I was massively pregnant and not really able to do much gardening at all.

After sitting out a summer, I was not going to waste another year. I got the yard taken care of early this spring so it was lush and green if not weed-free. I carefully sorted through the selection of flowers at the garden store and purchased a variety of seeds and sprouts. I brought the flowers home and lovingly placed them in the corner of the kitchen, which is the recommended spot for forgetting something exists.

Before I knew it, I was pushing the outer limit of the planting season. It was now or never so I (kindly?) forced Peter out to weed the flower garden. This would probably be an 8 hour task when done properly—I gave him an hour. I immediately planted the seeds and flowers in the soil freshly vacated by grass and weeds, watered liberally, and prayed.

Within a week everything was dead.

The peace lily wilted and looked like overcooked spinach, the flowers fried in the sun, and the grass quickly reclaimed it's territory.

But then, yesterday, I noticed a touch of color punctuating the green and brown. Success. One life has survived. It's a small victory, but I'll take it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Grateful For: My new schedule

Here's an equation: the challenges of being a new mom + ((challenges of starting a new job * a job in a new field) - Any seniority earned in my last field in the eight years since college) = LORD, beer me strength.

I've been working weekends and the closing shift for the last four months. I think I literally had the worst schedule possible at my company; I'm not sure that this schedule is usually even given out since I've never actually met anyone I shared it with. I often wondered who I'd pissed off to get this assignment. It was pretty awful, but it was temporary. This week I started my new schedule.

My new schedule is Sundays and Mondays off, working 8-5. I'm very happy about it. My previous schedule had me out of sync with the rhythm of the rest of the world. The first day of my work week was Friday, so I shared none of the communal markers of a week (I.e., Sunday=church, Friday=weekend). Subsequently, I could never remember what day it was. People would tell me something was happening on Tuesday and I actually expected it to happen on Saturday. Also, the pattern of my day was reversed. I did my housework, exercise, and projects in the morning before going to work, started work already exhausted, and after work came home only to quickly eat something and crawl into bed. During my week there was no running errands and no meeting friends, and since my husband worked during my "weekend," there was almost no dating.

I'm so grateful to be able to get off work while the sun is still out, go to church with my family on Sunday, and share two days off with my husband. It may only be temporary, but I'm savoring every day.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

If I May Speak Dishonestly

Here's a message to every friend who will ever again ask my opinion on her boyfriend (file this away in your records and pull it out when the situation arises): I love him! He's so dear and perfect for you!


Well, honestly, I don't know why you are even asking my opinion since you clearly just want me to rubber stamp your decision. I've been through this scenario over and over again since junior high, and frankly I've had enough of it. You want me to meet your latest love? Yeah, let's not and say we did. Let's avoid the accusations of distrust and disrespect that will inevitably arise when I question your decision; let's pretend that I met him and loved him, because that's all you really want to hear.

You don't want to hear that I think you're far too serious with someone you hardly know. You don't want to hear that while his mouth said he loves your mind, his hands said he loves your butt. You definitely don't want to hear that the reason he's having trouble with his crazy exes is because he's a moron who FATHERS CHILDREN with CRAZY WOMEN! I don't expect to see everything in your latest crush that you see. Of course I'm not going to like your crush the way you do (how inappropriate would that be!). But I do expect that if you claim to care about my opinion and respect my perspective, you won't get all rebellious teenager on me when I tell you what I honestly think about the guy you bring over.

Maybe I don't understand because I'm too likely to believe the opinions of others than my own opinions. When I asked people their opinions of Peter, I was listening—I was keenly aware of the blinders on my eyes and actively looking for flaws I might have missed. Of course, I am a terrible pessimist and my example is probably not a good one to follow, but I don't understand how one can claim to value my friendship without valuing my opinion. I certainly don't know how you can expect me to care about you without turning a critical eye to the most important decision you'll make.

I'm not looking to take the reins on anyone's life. Really, my hands are full of my own life. So if you really don't want to know what I think, let's just avoid the games. Let's just avoid the drama and the hurt feelings. Stop pretending you care what I think about your boyfriend (while you're at it, you might as well stop pretending you care about my concerns either) and just imagine you heard me say, "Congratulations." And we can just leave it at that

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Awkward Motherhood: How do you strap a car seat to a canoe?

It's that time of year, time to realize I procrastinated too long in planning my vacation. I had my reasons but none of those are relevant now. Spring is upon us and summer is closing in and all I've decided is that we don't have the budget to fly to California (but I'm still checking just in case that changes, Tiffany).

What's making this decision even more difficult than usual is that in addition to my normal indecisiveness, I have to accommodate an infant as traveling companion. I love my bunny, but she is not a very flexible traveller.
All the things I was unable to do last summer while in my last trimester of pregnancy are, of course, what I want to do most: tubing, canoeing, riding roller coasters. Heck, I even suddenly want to go horseback riding for the first time since I was 9. None of these can be done while carrying around an infant!

All the vacation activities I've done in past years have been pretty leisurely affairs.

• 2007, Dallas—visiting relatives, aquarium, and the state fair
• 2008, Panama City, FL—the beach and mini-golf (our crazy honeymoon)
• 2009, Fort Worth—zoo, art museum, and botanical garden
• 2010, Corpus Christi—the beach and aquarium

Last summer, being the size and shape of a manatee made me really appreciate the opportunity to do anything more active than stroll on level ground or sit in a pool of water. I was so looking forward to this year of possibilities when I could go anywhere and do anything!

Not so fast, Amelia Earhart. In your fantasy of white water rafting down the Colorado (or tubing the Guadalupe), where exactly was Lydia?

Oh, right.

So, I guess it's another year of walking around looking at interesting paintings, flowers, animals, fish, etc. Whatever's easy to do with a baby strapped to your chest. We can certainly go back to the beach, sit in the waves, and try to keep Lydia from ingesting half the beach. I guess we'll have to leave more thrilling adventures for next year.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


You can't outgrow your siblings. You can abandon your family if you're desperate enough to get away from them, but there is never a day when you stop seeing your sister or brother as the creep who got into your toys and pulled your hair. Even if you get along with your siblings, this is true. A friend may be closer than a brother, but a sister can never be distant as a friend.

With a sister, any adult failures can be directly traced back to childhood faults. There is no presumption of innocence with a sister as there might be with a friend, because a sister knows you too well to believe you're not in a life-long conspiracy to make her miserable.

My sister and I were always antagonistic growing up. I don't know exactly why, but she always considered me an enemy and I saw her as an irrational, unpredictable creature. Since becoming adults, our relationship has gotten better, but somehow, it can never transcend those childhood tropes. We may now eat sushi and drink wine together, but in the back of our minds, we still see each other as the kids who stole each others' French fries from our Happy Meals.

Sisters may eventually learn to appreciate each other but they will always keep a suspicious eye on one another.

In my entire adult life, I can't think of a time my sister was upset with me and it was simply forgiven or explained away. Any misunderstanding is the cause of great offense. With my friends, if I say something that sounds hurtful, I can simply say, "I'm sorry, what I was trying to say was…" and they believe me. That doesn't work with a sister. A sister knows, or thinks she knows, that your hurtful words and actions are simply the continuation of a pattern started at birth. No matter how close you become, how much you appreciate and respect each other, there will always be an unspoken bias against a sister.

The problem is, I believe, that like a spouse, a sibling is a victim of proximity. Siblings are yoked together unwillingly, and without the luxury of retreating when disagreements arise, hurts fester. The result is that any minor pain is felt for years. When I sigh deeply around my sister, she hears a thousand unspoken criticisms. When my sister complains about hurt feelings, I only hear a thousand groundless accusations.

The bottom line is that try as I might, I will never be able to treat my sister like a friend—she's not a friend; sisters are different from friends—but I do hope that I can keep that in mind and make the best of our fraternal relationship. Give me a prayer, if you think of it.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Grateful For: A clean ice cream scoop

What I'm grateful for this week is a small thing, but significant, and once again, it involves Peter. My husband always washes the ice cream scoop after he uses it.

Peter eats dessert right after dinner like a normal person. I usually eat dessert an hour or so later, but Peter always washes and dries the scoop so it's there waiting when I'm ready for ice cream. I've never asked him to do this; he just does. It's one of those little things that tells me he's thinking about me and cares.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


A couple months ago, I was assigned a schedule that required me to work on weekends. I was sad to have to miss church services but optimistic that it would be bearable. I missed church, but I was making do with what I had—I still visited with my Christian friends as much as I could and I listened to my church's sermons on podcast. It seemed like I had a pretty good routine going. I have all my bases covered. I have all the best parts of church—I just see the members of my church family I like and I only experience the parts of service I enjoy. I don't have to deal with any of that filler like, I don't know, worship.

Oh yeah, worship. I'd forgotten about that. If the sermon is the meat of a church service, then worship would be the steamed vegetables on the side—sometimes they're seasoned well, but they're never what I'm actually hungry for.

When I was a teenager, I used to get in trouble for looking so bored during worship. When I was in college, I went to church late to avoid hearing the choir. When I moved to Georgetown, I went to a church that took worship beyond music and singing and integrated art, prayer, and communion into services. In Austin, I went to a church that had an absolutely AMAZING praise team composed of professional musicians, but that wasn't enough alone. We chose our current church without considering the worship style at all.

When I stand up in church on Sundays and sing along, but I find my voice fades as I sing until I'm practically whispering. Eventually, I'm just mouthing the words. It's not that I hate worship—worship, the expression of adoration of God, I'm in favor of—it's just that worship is, you know…just singing, right? Worship is for artsy people who play acoustic guitars in their spare time, not me. I don't sing in the shower; I don't sing in my car. Why do I need to sing in church?

I don't know what the official answer to that is, but here's what I've noticed is missing in my life free of worship:

1. A designated time of worship. Right, I know I worship God in all my actions, but honestly that's still multitasking. That's like telling Peter, I love you while I'm working and shopping and cleaning, so we don't need to actually make love. (I'm sure he'd be plenty happy to hear that.)

2. A focus of worship. Worship pastors put a lot of thought into the messages of the songs they choose to lead a church in. Rather than shuffling through songs at random, they're offering you a theme to meditate on.

3. A UNIFIED focus of worship. Not only does worship give you a theme to meditate on, but it gives that same theme to everyone around you. For the rest of that service, that day, or potentially that week, 200 people in your community (give or take) will have one specific aspect of God's magnificence running through their minds and souls as the songs they sang in church play in their heads.

4. A softer heart. Listening is a little like jogging; it's easy if you're doing it wrong. If you listen at church while writing notes to your friends (me) or listen at home while busy with work (also me), it's pretty painless. But if you actually listen to hear and learn, you can get hurt. Much like my hamstrings, I need to stretch my pride and selfishness through worship. If I listen while my ego's still tight, I'll end up offended rather than changed.

As I said before, this is not an official list, nor is it an exhaustive list, but these are the reasons relevant to me. I don't know how I'm going to integrate worship into my life for the next few months, but it's become clear that the time has come to find a way.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Awkward Motherhood: I'll take my shampoo dry.

I don't know what morning routines are like for my other moms. Most of my mommy friends are SAHMs, but even though I imagine they have all the time they need to get through their daily routines, I doubt that's actually true. I for one, am a mess in the mornings. Don't get me wrong, the morning is my favorite part of the day—I work evenings so it's the only time of day I actually get to spend with Lydia—but I always have more I want to do than time to get it done (I still have a box of Christmas decorations I need to put away!). So my beauty routine is hardly a priority.

While I've never been the type who had to look flawless before she left the house—and you should have seen me in high school!—I still try to pull myself together each morning. I don't want to give up and wear that beat-down mommy uniform, but with a baby in the house, it is tempting. Let me be frank, I consider it a good day when I have enough time to shower, so I'm kind of a sucker for anything that will shave time off my morning routine.

My latest discovery is dry shampoo from Suave.
It was only a couple bucks at HEB, so I figured I wouldn't be out too much if it didn't work. So far I have to admit it's been exactly what I hoped. Basically it's like baby powder in a spray can; you spray it on the roots of your hair and it soaks up the oil. If your daughter spits up in your hair, this is not going to help. Still, not having to wash and dry my hair so often probably saves me 30 minutes a week. That's not extreme, but that's an extra load of laundry!

Hopefully, this suggestion might help one of you get a few minutes back, too.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Grateful For: The year I was 30

I turned 30 a year ago. If you're good at math, you can figure out how old I'm turning today. Turning 30 was exciting, but this birthday is slightly…anti-climactic. It's a lot more fun turning 30 than just being in your thirties. But I'm grateful for this last year with all it's ups and downs

February. I started the year with the most amazing party ever! My friend Jen arranged the most beautiful event—dinner followed by a night-time garden party at her house. My husband booked a band and hired them to write a song about me! The police came! Green came! My sister got tipsy! It was great!

March. We found out that the little Peanut Butler I'd been carrying was a girl and decided to name her Lydia. Then we moved into our new, suburban house. It was huge and empty and inspiring. I had dreams of how I would decorate it. I had dreams of our Lydia as a teenager running up and down the stairs with her friends. I also had the uneasy feeling that life was too good to be true and mentioned that to Peter as we fell asleep on the last day of the month.

April. On the first day if the new month—April Fool's Day—I was laid off of work. Nothing really more to say about that. I wasn't incredibly happy at UT, but I liked what I did and wasn't ready to stop doing it yet.

May. I got offered a contract job and then had the offer revoked when the employer realized just how pregnant I was. I was disappointed, but too tired to fight it.

June. A former co-worker gave me a contact that led to a job doing freelance editing from home. Easily my favorite job ever. Perfect for that last, miserable stretch of my pregnancy.

Peter and I travelled to Corpus Christi for a babymoon that our closest family and friends had arranged for us. It remains a favorite memory of all time.

July. I had a fight with a very close friend. That's all I remember about July.

August. My daughter was born! I became a mommy. I felt like I was reborn as a new person. A person who can push a baby out of her, a person who considers sleep optional, a person who loves abundantly without any need for love returned.

September. Peter and I celebrated our second anniversary. He took me hiking in Bastrop State Park; it was exactly what I wanted.

October. I started working as a contract employee at Apple. It's not easy work, but I enjoy the challenge and love working near Peter.

November-December. I'm writing off the whole holiday season. It was just…ugh. The house did look pretty sweet, though.

January. Peter and I went out on THREE dates! Not just dates, but amazing dates. We went dancing, we saw a band, and we ate a very fancy pizza at a super classy bar on 6th street.

February. So grateful for my valentines—the special ladies who haven't forgotten me as I became a mom and have forgiven me as I totally flaked on them: Jennifer, Heather, Cindy, Jen, Mom, and Sonnet.

To everyone who has gone through this year with me, thank you.

Hiking at Cedar Breaks

Peter and I got to spend a couple days together last week. Unfortunately it was because he was on bereavement leave; his grandfather passed away on Monday. I don't think we've had a single day off together since New Years when he was sick. Peter was obviously pretty down because of his loss, but it was still a special time.

The weather on Wednesday was humid, but mild, so we decided to get outside while we still could. I had just been talking to my friends about how I feel I spent too much of my twenties trying to get caught up instead of actually experiencing life. Instead of going out on my weekends, i spent my time doing all the chores I hadn't gotten done during the week. Well, no more! Although I had plenty of things that desperately needed to get done (Has anyone cleaned the bathroom since Lydia was born? You haven't? Me either.), we decided to savor the time together. Who knows when we'll get this chance again.

We decided to go hiking, but didn't want to go too far. I knew I'd been hiking on a nice path in a park along Lake Georgetown, but that was back in 2005 and there are several different parks along Lake Georgetown. I had no idea which one I'd gone to. We decided to try Cedar Breaks park, mostly because it's right off DB Wood road. It seemed like the easiest to find and I figured if that was appealing to me know, it probably would have been six years ago as well. (BTW, it's been six years since I lived in Georgetown?!)

At the gate of Cedar Breaks, I told the attendant, an elderly lady named Mildred, that we only needed a day pass. While he pulled out his wallet to pay the enhance fee, Peter leaned over to the driver's-side window and asked, "Are there any good hiking trails here"?

Mildred turned and grabbed a clip-board, then said, "Put your money away." It turns out that hiking is free there.

Peter walked Lady on her leash and tried to keep her enthusiasm in check. I had Lydia wrapped to my chest. Lydia was so happy being out with us! She sang for over an hour as we walked. When my hands got anywhere close to her pudgy hands, she grabbed my fingers and stuck them in her mouth to chew on.

It turns out this was the park I'd visited before and it was a great hike! Obviously, a cedar forest is nothing dark and mysterious, but it did provide shade on our walk, and honestly the walk was not that easy.
It wasn't too intimidating, but it was challenging and definitely made us work. And the view was gorgeous. Maybe any view looks beautiful on a good day, but I found myself thanking God for the experience and resolving to do this more often.

It was a perfect family day. It was the kind of day that when I was single I daydreamed of spending with my family. After all the rough days (and weeks and months) we've had to work through lately (no offense Lydia, but you don't make things easier), this day felt like our reward.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Awkward Motherhood: Diapers everywhere!

This morning I woke up to a clean stash of diapers! ^_^ Joy! I washed diapers last night and threw them in the dryer before bed, so when I woke up today, I had a pile of clean diapers spread out on the living room floor! I can say without any sarcasm that this was a great start to my day.

I normally hate doing laundry, but for some reason diaper laundry is one of the parenting chores I cherish. Maybe it's just because you don't have to worry about diapers getting wrinkled, but I think there might be something else to it. There's something about drawers filled with clean diapers that makes me feel secure.
I imagine surrounding myself in cottony riches—stacks of diapers everywhere—like Scrooge McDuck did with his gold.

I know it's silly, but I love knowing that I have more than enough diapers to make it through the day. I guess that says more about my issues with trusting in God's provision than about the value of reusable diapers.

I voluntarily admit that this is a difficult area for me. I mean, one of the major reasons I went back to work after Lydia was born was because I didn't want to test God's provision. I believe God will take care of us, but. . . I like having a little wiggle room in the budget. This has always been a weakness of mine, but having a child to take care of only exacerbates this problem.

This is definitely an aspect of my character I should work on, but for now, I've got my clean piles of diapers all over the house and I'm happy.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Grateful For: My Smart Phone

I'll admit I'm a little bit of an addict. My phone has become something of an appendage.

I'm going to try not to get all fanboy here, so I'm not even going to mention the model, but here's a picture of it:
I remember when Peter first asked me if I wanted a smart phone in 2007. I thought the idea was crazy! I just wanted a thin flip phone—not a smart phone. What would I use it for? I just used my phone for making calls, taking a few pictures, and playing Tetris. The only reason I agreed to let him give me one for Christmas was that I discovered it was thinner than the Razor.

Holy cow! How naive I was! I had no idea how much it would change my life. First of all, my phone is my primary computer. My phone is the only calendar I use, my only address book, and my only iPod. I read the news on my phone, I read the Bible on my phone, I take pictures and video on my phone, and I view my friend's pics on my phone. I use my phone when I'm wandering around downtown and need to remember how to get to my car. I even use my phone when I'm checking on my daughter in the middle of the night (it's my flashlight).

And I realize this is nothing special; we all use our phones like this now. But I'm amused when I think back four years to how useless I assumed a smart phone would be. And I'm grateful that I had the chance to change my mind.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Resolved: To become hip. . . Resolution: FAILED

I only had one resolution this year. It was a fairly small one, but still I've failed so far.

My resolution was to get hip. Specifically regarding popular music. I've never been caught up on the current music scene. (Are these even the right phrases to use? Somehow I sound like I'm 68.) When I was a kid, my parents were very protective of the cultural influences they allowed into our home, so most current secular music was not allowed. Current Christian music was allowed, but growing up in Weimar, there were no radio stations nearby that played this music, and in the days before iTunes recommendations, it was hard to stay current while so isolated.

In my early twenties, I was of course free to listen to whatever I wanted but had no room in my very responsible budget for music, and being a rule follower, I wasn't about to use Napster. By the time I was in a position to indulge in music purchases, I felt so out of the loop that it seemed pointless to start following bands and artists at that point.

I felt too old. If I tried to start following bands and musicians now, I'd just be a poser, right? *shudder*

Sure,I have a few songs I've taken from Peter's library, but I haven't purchased a song or album in several years. My iPhone is mostly full of podcasts where people sit around discussing technology, parenting, or religion. It was actually one of these podcasts that inspired me to this year's resolution. I started listening to the Relevant Magazine podcast. In this particular podcast, people sat around and discussed music. I have to admit, as they discussed new bands I'd never heard of and how they compared to old bands I'd never heard of, I became quite jealous.

Obviously this is their job—to know music inside and out—but they're talking for the benefit of their subscribers, which means that someone else out there understands and, even more importantly, cares about these discussions...I want to be that person! For once in my life, I want to be plugged in. I want to be hip. So this year I had one resolution: to be exposed to, pay attention to, purchase, and ultimately listen to good, modern music. Wanna know how many times I've so much as turned on my radio all year? Zero.

What can I say? I'd much rather listen to people talking about music than actually listen to music. I'm going to continue trying to broaden my horizons, but I'm done trying to deny who I really am. I'm never going to be a hipster, but if I try, maybe I can be a nerd with a little good music on her phone.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Awkward Motherhood

I often repeat the saying, men become men with kids, but women become moms.

Being a mom is so far removed from any other experience of your life that nothing can prepare you for the new role. It's an all-consuming obsession. Every thought you have and every ounce of energy is given to this kid who doesn't know or care that you exist. Every task you do in a day has to be redone a dozen times before the day ends. It's an unrequited love, an obsequious devotion, and a Sisyphean endeavor. And I'm totally stinking it up.

There aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done let alone spend time enjoying the kid I'm raising. And yet, the mush-minded 6-month-old is really the only person I'm fit to associate with. My conversations regularly turn to the topic of diapering. I go to work with baby food on my clothes. I pick my lingerie based on how easy it will be to nurse in. I'm terrible company for anyone more sophisticated than Lydia.

And you may say, "Well you just need more Mommy friends." And to that I respond with a question: how many new moms does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Three—one to spend all her energy researching lightbulb brands and green alternatives, then decide it's easier just to sit in the dark; one to wander around the store shopping for hours only to come home and realize she forgot to buy the lightbulb; and one to actually buy the bulb, change it, then break down in tears over how much better the other moms are doing.

Ugh. I'm exhausted just typing this.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Going dancing with my husband.

I love dancing! I'm terrible at dancing, but I love it. I didn't grow up dancing and didn't do much of it before I met Peter. Peter wasn't a big dancer before me either.

Like most guys, Peter could go a lifetime without dancing. He never sits up and thinks, I really want to dance today. But as long as we've been together, he's always taken me dancing.

I appreciate that. I love when he lets go of his perfectionism and enjoys the moment. I love holding him as we stumble around the dance floor.

I'm thankful for dancing with my husband.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Awkward Gratitude

Sometimes saying thanks is easy.

Thanks for holding my drink while I tie my shoe; thanks for changing the baby's diaper while I'm in the shower; thanks for depositing the check in the bank.

Sometimes thanks are more awkward.

Thanks for driving my lunch across town when I left it at home; thanks for cleaning the bed when I was sick and threw up on it; thanks for fighting the bank to get them to reverse a fee I didn't notice but should have.

That's the kind of gratitude that costs you; it requires you to admit you actually needed someone—they gave you something you couldn't get on your own. Those are the times when you know you owe someone and you know you probably won't be able to pay them back sufficiently.

All you can hope to do is tell them that you appreciate what they did.

I'm not grateful enough. I need to express thankfulness when it's easy and when it's hard. So here's a few easy things I'm grateful for to start off with.

- Cheap drinks—$1 drinks from McDonalds & Sonic Happy Hour
- Friends who hang out with me even though I have a kid in tow
- Digital cameras—take as many pics as you want; delete the awful ones before anyone sees them

More tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How Did This Happen?

I was a unique child. I don't just say that because my mother told me I was special. I say that because I've not yet heard any friends or acquaintances relate experiences similar to mine. An avid reader (maybe obsessive is a better description) I constantly ran out of content to consume. I read while doing everything—riding to school, watching television, eating dinner—and from an early age I began reading the parenting literature lying around our house. I actually learned about sex by reading an article in a magazine about how to talk to your kids about sex!

Because of this, I always felt slightly removed from my peer group. I was at the same time, seeing the world from the midst of adolescence and seeing it from the outside. I knew while I was having mood swings and struggling to assert my independence that that's what was going on. And furthermore, I knew exactly what the experts' opinions were on my opinions and feelings and how they suggested I should be treated or disciplined.

As someone who was socially awkward from birth, this did not help matters any. I had no patience for my peers. I had no interest in their silliness and affairs. Of course my heart longed for drama and romance, but I saw myself above the pettiness of that age. And I thought, if I can only make it through high school, the world will be mine. As an adult, I'll finally find a place were I belong.

But that didn't happen.

So here's the awkward irony of my life. I—someone who has hated teenagers, movies about teenagers, and books about teenagers since I was a teenager myself—have come to discover I feel more like an adolescent than I did in high school. Then I was 13 going on 30; now I'm 30 going on 13.

No time to dwell, however. I hear my daughter has woken up from her nap and it's time to feed her. The hardest part of traversing adolescence as an adult is that you don't have the time to wallow in introspection. This blog will be my indulgent outlet. Maybe I'll see if anyone else can relate. . .

. . . Oh! And I'll be talking about how Awesome my daughter is. Here's a pic