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.