Wednesday, September 29, 2010

We love our dance classes!

Suzi took a while to warm up to dance.

Week 1: Sat in my lap in the corner and cried.
Week 2: Switched to a younger group, spent half of class pouting and just standing there.
Week 3: Participated and had a good time.
Week 4: Paid even more attention, had even more fun, and participated in everything.

Here's a little video from her third class (she's the one in the purple). She really thought she should put her hands on her knees and bounce. Then she was like okay, fine, I'll tap my toe then.

I love watching Suzi through the one-way mirror. She is so cute tapping her little toes and prancing around and holding her arms up like a ballerina. Oh, it is so fun watching.

I am loving my tap class as well. The steps felt so clumsy and difficult in the first class, but now after some practice they are starting to feel natural and the sequences the teacher shows us just kind of flow. Who knew tap would be so easy to learn as an adult? I'm going to be sad when I have to stop going!

No videos of me dancing. I'm not as cute as Suzi. And I still need new tap shoes. Really badly.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Review: Prima Princessa Presents the Nutracker

You might remember how Suzi and I enjoyed Prima Princessa Presents Swan Lake. We were so happy to be asked to review their new DVD, Prima Princessa Presents the Nutcracker! They sent us a DVD and it arrived just in time to comfort Suzi on her sad first day of dance class.

If you are not familiar with Prima Princessa, their programs feature shortened versions of ballets performed by famous ballet companies. Between segments of the ballet, dance steps are demonstrated by ballet students and then viewers are encouraged to try the steps and dance along with the children on the DVD. The programs are arranged specifically to hold the attention of young children. They can enjoy watching a ballet and learning about dance whether or not they can attend a live performance or participate in a dance class.

First of all, I love Christmas and I love The Nutcracker. Unfortunately, where we live opportunities do not abound for seeing this ballet live, and with my two little ones, it's hard to get to any cultural event. I am happy to share this with Suzi (and Ivey) at home until we finally do get to take them to see more things. This version of the Nutracker, shortened and with breaks for dancing here and there, is fun for them and holds their attention. Suzi tries out the suggested dance steps, and a little while ago as they watched together, I noticed 13-month-old Ivey twirling in circles as well! They are cute to watch.

Not only is this a fun outlet for a kid's energy and a good alternative to turning on a movie which will keep them seated on the couch, it also reinforces some of the same dance steps Suzi is learning in her dance class. Glissade, in particular, is something not all the girls immediately grasp in class, and now Suzi has extra motivation to practice it at home. I was pleased at how the dance steps featured on this DVD are different from the ones in Prima Princessa Presents Swan Lake. It's a totally new program.

Whether or not you have the first DVD, I'd definitely recommend adding this one to your collection. It can be purchased here on Amazon, and the price cannot be beat. It's lovely to watch for both children and adults, and we'll probably be hitting the play button year-round.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Paranoia and pregnancy dreams

Friday night I dreamed that I could not wait another moment for an ultrasound, so my midwife Carey met me at the Clinique counter of the local mall and did an ultrasound for me there with a portable, handheld machine. It was discovered that I was pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl. I was excited but then thought, oh no! What does this mean for my homebirth?! I woke up suddenly in a bit of a panic, relieved to find it was only a dream and that I (probably) wasn't pregnant with twins.

My great-grandmother (mother's father's mother) had four sets of twins and two "odd" children, and that, of course, was without any fertility treatment. I've always wondered if it's just a matter of time before Jordan and I have twins, assuming we have several more pregnancies. I am totally fine with having just one baby at a time. There's no need to double-time our way to a large family. Especially this time when we didn't exactly set out to have a baby in the first place.

Saturday, all the nervousness from the past few weeks built up into a paranoia and I called Carey for real. I'd heard the heartbeat a couple of weeks before, but worry had started to creep back in. I hadn't gained any weight like I did with Suzi and Ivey, and it's not because I wasn't eating, trust me! I wasn't having any trouble buttoning most of my pants. Sure, my belly was sticking out a little, but after two babies it pretty much always does. I was supposed to be at 13 weeks but I hardly felt pregnant at all!

Carey came over last night to find Robin's heartbeat with the doppler (reason #367 I could never be happy going to an OB again) and we heard it clearer than ever before. Robin is there and is just quietly hanging out and growing and now I feel much better. I still can't wait to feel Robin moving around though. That's just amazing.

I'm pretty much always wrong, whether I'm guessing for myself or someone else, but I think this baby may be a boy. I just don't feel at all the same as I did with Suzi and Ivey. My skin isn't clearing up as much, I've barely been nauseous at all, I'm not gaining weight... Either my scale is broken and stuck on 135 or this pregnancy is different! (I guess it could be that while I'm not eating less food, I haven't been eating any fast food. We've cut out most junk food and have been trying to cook more from scratch, which ends up being better for us and lower in calories. Plus Ivey is still pretty enthusiastic about nursing.) Of course, my pregnancy with Ivey was different from Suzi's too and I thought she was a boy and was wrong. It could just as easily be a girl. I'd be happy either way. Jordan and I definitely plan to find out ahead of time, and it'll only be six or seven weeks before we can get that ultrasound!

This is my first belly shot (except for the one Megan took several weeks ago). Here I am at 12 weeks and 3 days!

I know you are probably thinking that I am showing quite a bit in this picture for 12 weeks but it's hard to tell because my belly gets bigger and smaller depending on several factors, plus it wasn't flat to begin with!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Medicaid patients shall be checked for gold teeth at the revolving door

I saw this poorly punctuated bit of nonsense on Facebook the other day. Here's what this doctor supposedly had to say, although it is likely that this whole thing was fabricated to make a point.

Pictured is a young physician by the name of Dr. Roger Starner Jones. His short two-paragraph letter to the White House accurately puts the blame on a "Culture Crisis" instead of a "Health Care Crisis"..

It's worth a quick read:

Dear Mr. President:
During my shift in the Emergency Room last night, I had the pleasure of evaluating a patient whose smile revealed an expensive shiny gold tooth, whose body was adorned with a wide assortment of elaborate and costly tattoos, who wore a very expensive brand of tennis shoes and who chatted on a new cellular telephone equipped with a popular R&B ringtone.

While glancing over her patient chart, I happened to notice that her payer status was listed as "Medicaid"! During my examination of her, the patient informed me that she smokes more than one pack of cigarettes every day, eats only at fast-food take-outs, and somehow still has money to buy pretzels and beer. And, you and our Congress expect me to pay for this woman's health care? I contend that our nation's "health care crisis" is not the result of a shortage of quality hospitals, doctors or nurses. Rather, it is the result of a "crisis of culture" a culture in which it is perfectly acceptable to spend money on luxuries and vices while refusing to take care of one's self or, heaven forbid, purchase health insurance. It is a culture based in the irresponsible credo that "I can do whatever I want to because someone else will always take care of me". Once you fix this "culture crisis" that rewards irresponsibility and dependency, you'll be amazed at how quickly our nation's health care difficulties will disappear.



This kind of thing really irritates me for several reasons.

1) Medicaid is not automatically granted to all low-income people. There are eligibility requirements. In our state, at least, many Medicaid beneficiaries are families with young children. When I worked at the hospital, I met some of them. Sometimes the parents made me mad, like when I told them not to smoke in the house with the nebulizer machine and they looked at me like I was crazy and asked why. I didn't always agree with the choices they made for their children, but you know what? Denying people Medicaid coverage because they don't live up to your expectations leaves out the most important people: the children. What do you think would happen if we denied nebulizer machines or hospital stays to children who could barely breathe because their parents didn't do what we wanted? They could die. If the children were treated and the bills were sent to the parents who have no means to pay, the account would go to collections and the burden would fall on patients who are able to pay. They would just pay more for the services they need, because someone is going to pay to keep the hospital rolling and you can't squeeze water from a rock.

2) Why are poor people expected to be impervious to the pressure of our consumer culture?
Tricky marketing works on everyone regardless of economic status. Dr. Jones is on his high horse about this woman's "costly tattoos, shiny gold tooth, expensive tennis shoes and new cellular telephone." I agree that most of these things are silly, but why do people only look down their noses at people who are on government assistance? This "culture crisis" involves all of us, whether we can afford luxuries or not. As I've said before, we vote with our money. If you want to sneer at people who buy things you think they can't afford, the least you can do is not be a person who promotes a wasteful lifestyle. I can make up an interesting little character, too. It's a woman with blonde highlights which are regularly maintained at the salon. She pays full retail for all her clothing at upscale department stores (a new wardrobe every season!), wears a large, sparkly diamond on her recently manicured finger and drives a shiny, gas-guzzling SUV. She enjoys monthly spa days with her friends and sometimes even gets botox and other treatments to enhance her appearance. She goes out to eat several times a week with friends or her husband--and not at fast food restaurants but at Olive Garden or a steakhouse. Why is it culturally okay for this woman to waste money while it is not okay for the woman on Medicaid? Because she "earned" it and "deserves" all these things? Maybe she earns a lot of money, but maybe she is putting it all on credit cards and is behind on her mortgage. For the purpose of this argument, it doesn't matter. She, too, is contributing to the crisis of people wanting too much. I don't see any problem with a few luxuries every once in a while. I've gotten my nails done, too. I like going out to eat as much as the next person--probably more--and I love to shop, albeit for different things than most mainstream people. But regardless of your financial situation, if you are going to spoil yourself, how do you expect to sit in judgment of others who naturally yearn for luxuries too, given that they are living in this same consumer culture which you have helped to build?

3) Why are people on Medicaid expected to take better care of themselves than everyone else? There are smokers and fast food addicts and non-exercisers and people who don't wash their hands after peeing on the same health insurance plan as my family. We strive to optimize our health and people who make the aforementioned bad choices cost us more money in the form of higher premiums. How would you like to have someone audit your lifestyle to be sure you're not costing me too much? Yeah, I didn't think you would. I wouldn't either. Annie
explains this concept so well, and in greater detail, here.

4) Things like this doctor's letter perpetuate a stereotypical view of those who benefit from Medicaid. A few people may be like this, but most are not.

If a doctor truly wrote this, I am alarmed, as I wouldn't want to be treated medically by someone so simple-minded. Dr. Jones does not offer any solution. All he offers is finger-pointing. Our consumer culture and the notion that we deserve the world on a silver platter was created over generations and is not going to be fixed overnight. Perhaps the funniest part is how he does not recognize that his salary is, in part, paid by the same Medicaid program that takes care of these people he thinks do not deserve it. Many hospital employees would not even have jobs were it not for the Medicaid program.

I can agree with Dr. Jones that we have a culture crisis, but it's not something our president can fix, and it does not apply only to people on government assistance. To fix this crisis, we all need to reject the idea that we deserve to be spoiled. Rich, poor, or in between, we could all learn a little moderation. It matters not if you can "afford" luxuries. It's easy to get all puffed up about what we have earned and forget that all the things we have, including a well-paying job, are gifts from God. I don't think God intends for us to blow all our money on ourselves. No one is perfect--I covet and sometimes get things I don't need, too--but if we pay a little extra in taxes and it means a woman can take her child to the doctor without fear of a devastating hospital bill, I'm happy with that. And I don't care how many gold teeth she has or how many cigarettes she smokes.

(Also of interest is this post from Judgmental Hippy, which inspired me to go ahead and publish my post even though it wasn't full of sunshine and rainbows. Her post does have some four-letter words in it, just in case you wanted to know, but it offers great perspective on a similar issue.)

Monday, September 20, 2010

We're fools whether we dance or not

Suzi's feet, all ready to dance

"We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance."
~Japanese Proverb~

As I've mentioned, Suzi recently started dance classes. A few weeks ago my mom and I took her to the studio to look around and get fitted for shoes. I was so excited for her, but my heart ached a little because, honestly, I have always wanted to dance.

My mom signed me up when I was five for one season of little girl dance class--marching around with batons, lyrical dancing to cutesy little songs, things like that. But the most memorable part of that class for me was sliding across the floor on my butt. It was slippery. We all did it for fun.

Anyway, I probably just wasn't ready to learn, which is why I quit, but looking back I wish I had learned to do some kind of dancing. I definitely have the desire to dance, and I always have. So it made me both happy and sad to see Suzi starting dance lessons, as it reminded me of what I never got to do.

And then, on the wall of the studio lobby, I saw it: A flier announcing an adult beginner tap dance class. A big grin spread across my face. It didn't matter if I had never tapped before. I knew what my mom would say and I was right. Yes, I am pregnant. Yes, it costs money. Yes, I might make a fool of myself. But it'll be good exercise, which I need, right? And I've always wanted to learn to dance, right? I thought of Hobo Mama and how she took a risk and signed up for a ballet class. I was totally signing up. Later on my mom and I talked on the phone and she asked me what Jordan thought. He was supportive as always. Of course, I had called him on my way home and said "Guess what! I'm going to learn to tap dance!" What other choice did he have?

It was a hard sell but finally I talked my mom into signing up with me, and tonight was our second class. Our teacher has a system of breaking down the steps to make them simple to learn, and then stringing them together to make it look almost like even I know what I am doing. It wasn't half as hard as I thought it'd be, and it reminded me of learning exhibition drill routines in Junior ROTC. I like it! It was good spending time with my mom and we could both use a fun way to get exercise. We were the only two in the first class, and tonight there were a couple of others, one of whom had tapped before and was really good. It's harder tapping on the kitchen floor at home and it leaves black marks, but practicing last week really helped me keep up in class tonight! For the first time I can remember, I am getting exercise and not hating it.

Moral of my tap dance story: Don't let anyone tell you you're too ______ to do something, and especially don't tell yourself you are. I'm so glad I took a chance and signed up. I'm so glad I rejected the notion that if you haven't learned to dance by the time you're six you're a lost cause, and the notion that pregnant women shouldn't make spectacles of themselves. I hate that many women would never in a million years take a dance class, not because they don't want to dance, but because they think they aren't skinny or young or whatever enough. And I'm so proud of my mom for going with me.

This is great. All I need now is bigger shoes. And if I'm getting new shoes anyway they might as well be pretty.


~Jenny, the pregnant tap dancer~

P.S. If you are in the area, you should sign up too. It's $30 a month or $10 to drop in for a class, and it's not hard to pick things up with the system our teacher is using. You'd fit right in. Let me know if you want more info!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

So we went to the Indie Craft Parade...

Saturday Megan and I drove to Greenville with Evie for the Indie Craft Parade. We walked out of the parking garage and both looked at each other and said "hmm, where is it?" No, neither of us thought to look up directions. This is a common occurrence with the two of us. After we finally found it, we were intimidated by the longish line that had formed outside. The event had been open for hours, so we were not expecting this. We worried that it would be super crowded inside. The line moved fast, though, and once we were inside it was not as crowded as I'd expected.

Everything looked beautiful and professional. The table displays were lovely and I can honestly say I've never been to an event like this. I hate that I don't have a picture to share, but you can find some other people's here. I didn't buy anything, partly because I didn't have much money and we needed $2 to pay the parking garage. We also didn't have a long time to look because we were trying to make it home in time for the football game. I loved how they took the time to make a program with a map and the names of all the artists, because now I can go search for Etsy shops later. The Indie Craft Parade was just about what I'd envisioned atmosphere-wise, except smaller. I bet the setup seems bigger when there aren't hundreds of people swarming it.

Only about 80 of nearly 300 applicants were accepted according to the ICP Facebook page, and I'm really curious about the products that didn't make it. There might have been some really wild, ingenious stuff in there that I didn't get to see. It's not that there weren't things like that there; several things spring to mind. This one lady made mermaids and things that looked really interesting. And then there were these guys with lots of beautiful, bright bow ties. Unique, colorful things to wear tempt me more than anything, and I was tempted, but I didn't know if Jordy was ready for the awesomeness of such a unique bow tie. Even though originality was one of the main things the jury was looking for in an applicant, there were participants who had similar products. I saw a fair bit of pottery, several people who made adorable stuffed animals, and Megan said she noticed a lot of knitters/yarn people. I liked (or loved, or at least appreciated) practically everything I saw, but since there were only about 80 accepted artists, I was surprised to see as much similarity as I did between some of the participants. I have mixed feelings about this, especially the pottery part, because I love pottery and, after taking a pottery class, I respect pottery. If you can throw a mug that stands up straight and holds water, my hat is off. Which leads to my only gripe about this event, because I wouldn't mind staying all day and looking at everyone's stuff...

The event space was beautiful, it really was, but I'm hoping next year they are able to find a bigger place. This was just the first year and they turned down two-thirds of the applicants. Next year, now that people have seen how successful the event was, there will no doubt be even more. I'd take a larger, less romantic location over missing most of the artists any day.

And maybe I feel this way partly because I entered some of my things and got rejected, which is totally understandable now because the people who were chosen were great. I only applied because I had no idea how big or small this event might be and thought I'd take a chance since it was the first year. Just as a side note as this has nothing to do with the event experience itself, it would have been great if the jury had taken the time to let each rejected applicant know, in a vague sense, why they were rejected. They said, at least to me, that "unfortunately, the amount of applications we received keep us from providing further information as to why your work may or may not have been approved." Okay, but you charged $10 a pop to apply. I know it would take too long to write a paragraph, but would it really be too much trouble to give a small hint? You could even use a number system like the health insurance companies do when they reject claims:

1: We generally don't think your work would fit in at our event. It's not our thing.
2: We like your concept, but it's not of the professional quality we were looking for. Take it up a level and try again next year.
3: We like your work, but we've already accepted several others with similar products. It needs more originality and uniqueness.

Not that I'm an expert--and there may be hardly any craft fairs that offer this type of info--but I think it would be doable, because surely these things are discussed during the jurying process. It's obvious the organizers spent the time they weren't doing this working hard to make the event the success that it was. However, I especially think a little more information would be a good idea for next year when an even greater number of talented people will probably be receiving rejection emails.

But all things considered, I loved Indie Craft Parade. The lighting, displays, and music all contributed to the atmosphere. It was exciting and inspiring and made me want to make things. The organizers obviously did everything they could think of to make the event a memorable experience for artists and shoppers. I am looking forward to shopping at next year's event, and hopefully then I will have more money to spend. Because trust me, I definitely wanted to.

pic from

P.S. Here's one of the bowties I was telling you about. I found them online and they are made by the Cordial Churchman. Cute, right? I asked Jordan after I came home Saturday if he would be into wearing such a bowtie and he said he would like to. They had one kind of like this but in Clemson colors and I am so sad now that I didn't buy it, but now that I look at the price, I didn't have enough cash on me anyway. Wah.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pregnancy dream: We couldn't get the cats out of the sofa

August 31, 2010 - about 9 weeks pregnant

Yesterday Suzi got an awful runny-nose cold and spent last night in our bed, tossing and turning and waking up to cry that her nose needed wiping. It was one of those thankfully rare nights on which all four of us sleep in one bed, and when this happens I am always so grateful we bought our king-size bed. I wonder how we are going to fit our family of five in there. It probably won't happen often, but there will be a thunderstorm or two, I'm sure.

When Suzi fell asleep, and I finally fell asleep, I dreamed that it was Christmas Eve and we were supposed to be setting up gifts in the living room but we couldn't, because we discovered that a bunch of stray cats had taken up residence in our sofa cushions. There were at least ten of them in there and it wasn't easy getting them out of the house. Then some strangers showed up who wanted to stay the night, but we were running short of space, especially considering our sofa was full of cats. And what with all those cats running around, Jordan was concerned about his furry black guinea pig, Hail Mary, which had recently gone missing.

I woke up suddenly and half wanted to go back to sleep to figure out what happened with all those cats. They were making the couch smell gross and it was really menacing the way they peered out of the little holes they'd ripped in our cushions. But my dreams generally don't pick up where they left off like that. Now Ivey is happily napping in my lap and Suzi is watching Alice in Wonderland, and I'm hungry, as usual.

Later this week I'm hoping to hear Robin's heartbeat. I'm so excited! Then, if this pregnancy is like my two others, I'll start dreaming about giving birth to a litter of kittens.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Six weeks

August 10, 2010

While I'm not quite ready to blog about my pregnancy yet, I don't want to lose all my early pregnancy thoughts, so I'm writing now and posting later. I'm at about six weeks now, and this pregnancy is already showing itself to be different from the past two.

1) I'm not nauseous unless I make the stupid mistake of going to bed without a snack first. It's even worse since Ivey nurses during the night, removing calories while I sleep. If this happens, when I wake up I have to get Jordan to run downstairs to make me some emergency toast with jelly. It's about the only thing I can even think of eating when I'm morning sick (or, as is usually the case, just have low blood sugar). When I was pregnant with Suzi it was the same, except I had to scrape most of the jelly off before eating it. I can't stand too much jelly, it's gross. But this is our third time and Jordan's gotten pretty good.

2) The night we found out we were pregnant, I thought of the name Robin. It made sense because of the extra egg in my nest and I said it would work for a girl or a boy. Jordan disagrees; if it's a boy he wants to name him Robert. He said Robin is not a boy's name. I said it was. Hello, Robin Williams? Robin Hood? Christopher Robin? But he really wants to name a boy Robert, and it was his grandfather's name, so I understand. If it's a boy we'll name him Robert and I'll call him Robby, but I kind of hope it's a girl.

3) Last night Jordan and I were watching Up together on Netflix. He'd already seen it and was so excited to show it to me because the couple reminded him of us. And we were having a great time seeing how cute the couple was and how much the guy looked like Jordan in those big geeky glasses of his, until (spoiler alert) the part where they lost a baby or couldn't get pregnant, and had this beautiful life together but never did get to go on their adventure, and then the wife died. I made it through all this quite stoically, and when it had been over for a couple of minutes and the movie had moved on, unexpectedly burst into tears. It was a sad movie, but this is not normal for me, and it made me feel better because lately it's been hard to believe I'm really pregnant, even though I want to be.

4) With Suzi and Ivey, I had daily pregnancy calendars that told a neat fact about the baby for every day of development. It had a sheet of stickers for me to mark important days, like "you feel me kicking," and I wrote notes about what we were doing to prepare and what I was experiencing. I still have these and I like to flip through them to see if what I'm going through now happened back then. Someday I will give them to my girls, and I'd planned to have one for each child. I was about to order one for Robin a few days ago, but I stopped myself. This time I thought I'd make my own. It won't be a frugal project because the calendar I was going to buy is only about $10, but it will be fun. I'll put my own pictures on it, and I'll have more room to write what I want. I haven't gotten started on it yet, though.

5) I want to hear the heartbeat. That will tell me this baby is okay and make all this seem like a reality. I can't wait. About four weeks to go.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Hold me closer, Whiny Dancer

My weepy ballerina was happy to finally get that sucker

Dance class today wasn't what I had envisioned. It obviously wasn't what Suzi had envisioned, either.

After a six-week summer dance camp, we decided to switch to a larger dance school. Suzi had sometimes been the only child in class over the summer, but when we arrived today, that was not nearly the case.

When we pulled up in the parking lot and saw all the cars, Suzi said she thought that, well, maybe she didn't want to go to class after all. I tried to stay upbeat and not give her any reason to feel nervous. I told her she'd be fine and it would be fun.

Everybody and their brother was there. No, literally, there were a bunch of bored-looking brothers sitting around doing homework, talking, and playing. There were a dozen little darlings in leotards and tutus clickety-clacking around in their new tap shoes in the lobby. Mothers and employees buzzed back and forth, getting girls ready for their classes. And the place echoed.

Suzi clung to me and I couldn't coax her off. We walked over to the door of her classroom and talked about meeting her teacher and going in to dance. She seemed okay with it, and I think it would've been fine, except that the teacher was in there with a previous class and when they finished, she let them all grab a piece of candy on their way out. Suzi saw the candy and figured she'd just get in line behind the girls in that class and have a piece. When I told her she'd be getting her candy after dancing, the meltdown commenced. Her teacher tried to take her hand and walk her into class, but she stomped in place and cried. It was a no-go.

I ended up sitting in the corner of the large mirrored room with Suzi in my lap pretty much the whole time. She refused to participate with the other girls, although she did enjoy watching. I can understand that feeling. I've been there, and I was glad to be there to hold Suzi while she went through it. But I felt like all the other moms were leering at me from behind the one-way mirror. Now I know that isn't true, because Jordan was in there. He said they were talking about the high cost of recital costumes, how great their daughters were going to do, and the excitement of possibly competing. Possibly. Competing. My kid is three. I am so not into that!

We are moving Miss Suzi to a smaller, younger class with the same teacher. She has confirmed that it was indeed the candy that threw her off today, and has promised to actually dance next week. In fact, she came home and danced to Prima Princessa Presents The Nutcracker, which came in the mail today. It couldn't possibly have come at a better time. (I will be reviewing it soon!) I have high hopes for dance, I really do. I think this new class will be much more on track with what she and I need.

But next week I think I'll carry a piece of candy in my pocket. Just in case.

An open letter to my baby

July 27, 2010

Dear Robin,

I just found out about you last night, after four tests, and now I should be in bed but I can't sleep. The first line didn't show up at first. Fine, I thought, and started to go tell Jordan we were right, just a little late. Nothing out of the ordinary. Then something, ever so faint, began to rise from the pale pink. I blinked, squeezed my eyes shut, opened them again. Held the test up to the light, looked over my glasses. I must have used it wrong. Or, we bought it at the dollar store, it must be a cheap test. Should have known that price was too good to be true. But another test, showing that same pink line, plus two more tests, the expensive kind, confirmed the news: You are there.

Happenings over the past month which seemed meaningless at the time fell into place like puzzle pieces. Somehow, Suzi knew about you, insisted you were in my belly, but I told her no. There was no way. We weren't trying, and it was far too early to tell anyway. She held her fingers up and said you were really tiny and she was right. You were the size of a poppy seed, but she knew you were there--and could barely contain her giggles of excitement. She has wanted you for a while.

Then Saturday I made this bird's nest necklace. It was nothing expensive or spectacular, but I loved it--a beautiful symbol of motherhood. Three was the obvious number of eggs to put in the nest, and I told myself one was for Suzi, one was for Ivey, and one was for the baby I hoped to have, someday. I really didn't think someday would be coming this spring.

We were not expecting you, and we did not try to bring you, it's true. But sometimes God knows better than we do and He put you there. You are so wanted by all of us. I don't care what anyone says--that we should have waited for a more convenient time, until we had more money, until we'd given several more years of attention to your sisters, until we were older. Yes, having three children at our age does fly in the face of modern wisdom. There will be challenges, but we will face them, and there will be plenty of love to go around. I am already filled with joy at the thought of you in my arms, in our van, in our bed, at our table. Everyone else will be, too.

We love you.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

The best surprise ever

Today was a wonderful day. We heard something we'd really been wanting to hear.

We're looking forward to another wonderful pregnancy and birth with our lovely midwife Carey. She made a house call on a Saturday morning to listen for the heartbeat because I am exactly ten weeks pregnant today.

I feel like I just found out, only better. The positive pregnancy test felt a little like a surprise party that I showed up to in my pajamas with curlers in my hair and no makeup on. We were expecting Suzi and Ivey, and this pregnancy, especially coming before Ivey was even a year old, caught us off guard. Honestly, I was mostly worried that no one would be happy for us. It's a hard thing to feel when you're pregnant, but our families surprised us with their support. We were thrilled to hear that promising little heartbeat--particularly since I've had very few pregnancy symptoms other than the positive test and have almost wondered if I'd just imagined the whole thing. Now I know there's a reason why I'm hungry all the time and think things smell funny when no one else knows what I'm talking about.

We named the baby Robin right away but that will change to Robert if it's a boy. Robin will probably be here sometime in April. Ohh! What could be better than an Easter baby?

After I found out I was pregnant but before I felt like announcing it on my blog, I wrote several posts and saved them. I know it's been a while since I wrote them, but I think I'll post them anyway just to remember what I was thinking.

Next on my to-do list: Make a pregnancy calendar. Should've done it weeks ago.

Oh, and the picture of me that plays with the heartbeat was taken last night by my friend Megan.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Why don't I just say nothing at all? Part Two: Rethought

I've been struggling lately.

You may have read my post about receiving hateful email forwards. It started with that, and soon I realized what I really already knew: Most opinions like these seem to come from a certain subset of Christian people. It isn't limited to intolerance of people of other faiths. It also includes telling nursing mothers to go in the bathroom because they are dishonoring God by feeding their babies in public. It includes private Christian high schools who claim their main goal is to bring students closer to knowing Jesus, but yet they uphold a policy of kicking out girls who get pregnant. It includes a certain minister I know who wanted to be sure he didn't sell his extra football ticket to a non-Christian because he didn't want to sit next to one.

People who do these things make me sad, because all the people they snub, insult, avoid and ignore? It hurts them. And I have yet to see these behaviors do any good. Usually they just push people further away.

If you only associate yourself with people who are Christians and refuse to talk to people who are different, how do you expect to spread the news of Jesus? People will obviously do things you don't feel are right, but why take on the weighty responsibility of judging them yourself? Why not love them the way they are and let God decide if they are right or wrong?

It was not hard at all for me to see judging and condemning people in the situations I've described as wrong--and I still maintain this opinion. What was difficult for me was realizing that this applies to me as well. Do you ever find you have a problem and God seems to be sending you the exact things you need to see until you figure things out?

Some things I've seen the past few days:

The Facebook status of someone I admire: Words which do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness. -Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (aka: Mother Teresa)

An article on Facebook that I'm pretty sure I can't find again, which posed the question: If you call someone "racist," are you doing it out of sadness for the victim or hatred for the guilty party?

The Facebook status (in part) of someone else I admire: "Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline." --MLK

The Bible, in a mostly random reading session: "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him." --1 John 9-11

The "remove the plank from your own eye" Bible verse, which I'm sure you've heard and which I had to come across several times before it sunk in.

And then in Sunday school we watched Rob Bell's Lump (link is a preview). Long story short, his son told two lies, got caught, and ran upstairs and hid in shame. Rob went up later and found him hiding under the covers. He told his son there was nothing he could do to make him love him less. I love Rob Bell. He talks about things that happen with his kids and then uses them to explain our relationship with God. The idea was that there is nothing we can do to make God love us any less. That includes having premarital sex. Converting to another religion. Letting someone get a glimpse of your breast while you're feeding a baby.

Harshly judging and spreading misinformation about others.

And in my case? Thinking and sometimes sharing ugly thoughts about those who harshly judge and spread misinformation about others.

I was right that these people should not take it upon themselves to judge and condemn. I was right that it hurts others, and I was right to distance myself from it. But I was wrong to want to give up on the people who do this because they make me angry, and I was wrong to judge them by saying to myself, they think they have it right but they don't. I'm pretty sure Jesus only wanted us to love others.

I will still stand up for my beliefs, but from now on I'll try to always do it out of love. I definitely feel it's necessary to stand up, though. Some Christians avoid mentioning their faith to others, not because they are ashamed of their faith, but because they are ashamed of the behaviors of other Christians. That simply will not do. Besides, while it's easy to love your own child or your own sister or husband or wife when they are doing something you disapprove of, I really think we are meant to love everyone, regardless of whether or not we know them. So, while I don't want anyone to feel judged by me, I will still say what I have to say because I want them to realize that maybe they don't know everything about a person or a group of people. I want them to take an opportunity to know someone better. I want them to listen to the other side. And I feel it's my responsibility to present that other side if I know it.

I usually don't speak rudely or harshly to others when I am presenting an alternative viewpoint, but there is frequently anger in my heart. Matching their anger with anger of my own does no good, so from now on I am going to do my best to love them. To appreciate that they are children of God who (I believe) do not fully understand the issue at hand, and even though I may be frustrated, to communicate my views out of love. If we could all do this, how much better would the world be? Instead of starting a fight, words spoken out of love will disarm, enlighten and bring people together.

It's not always easy. But I'm really going to try.

Note: This post is totally different from the first Part Two I wrote. Totally. Just thought I should let you know.