Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas: Take One

We spent last weekend in Turlock celebrating Christmas with the Jeter and Moline side of the family. Wyatt's grandparents gave him a cool and very appreciated battery operated motorcycle and a motorcycle shirt to go with it.My mom got matching Hanna Anderson pajamas for all of the cousins (2.5 and under) and this is the only picture that doesn't have at least one child completely blurry.Wyatt approaches the opening of presents with focus.This is my grandpa that Wyatt calls Bumpa.Josh was home for the holiday and Wyatt is showing off the booty he found in the playhouse.Finally, we got a Christmas card yesterday from the Lambs. Wyatt adores Abbey Lamb. He got his hands on the picture and I found him laying on the couch adoringly staring at her photo saying, "Hi, Abbey" over and over and over. Pretty cute.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Christmas Tree Virgins No More

Please don't give me the sad eyes when you discover that Garett and I got our very first Christmas tree this year. It's okay, we're okay, we just haven't really wanted to get one before now. Wyatt asked me about Christmas trees a few weeks ago and we decided that it was time to find a tree. It's a simple little tree with only a few ornaments but it's ours and we're enjoying it. Wyatt appears to be skeptical of the whole thing and has a tree sprouting from his head.
He did love getting to put an angel on the top of the tree, and, even more exciting, shaking the tree and pushing the coffee table into the tree to try to knock the angel down.
Another first was watching the San Luis Obispo Christmas Parade. I've never been a huge parade fan but seeing it through Wyatt's eyes was a new experience. The goats, belly dancers and fire trucks were the highlights and I now have a bit of understanding of the lure of a parade.
We also had a holiday dinner with a few friends and Garett and I enjoyed doing some Italian cooking. I was thinking of our family in Italy while I prepared the food and was wishing we could be gracious hosts in the same way that they were to us. Jenni & Rebekah - I know how you guys like your meat sweet so I'm including this menu especially for you. It's all from Giada's Everyday Italian.

- Spinach Pesto with Parpadelle Pasta
- Peas with Prosciutto
- Roasted Pork Loin with Fig Sauce
- Basic Green Salad
- Panna Cotta with blackberries and blueberries

If you want any recipes, let me know and I'm happy to share. I think the fig sauce was the best treat because it just tasted like Christmas.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Giving Thanks

Garett and I hosted Thanksgiving at our home this year. We had a nice size group including my parents, Garett's dad, my grandpa, a dear family friend who is like a sibling and a family who recently moved here from Tien Jin, China. I've never roasted a turkey before so I decided to try a recipe from my friend Jenni who has never steered me wrong. Again, she came through. The turkey was a hit and we finally finished it last night.In addition to the delicious turkey, we served Pomegranate Fizzies. I found this recipe at the last minute in the latest Sunset. It's easy and feels especially seasonal.

Wyatt decided that he liked smashed potatoes best. I think it might have something to do with the fact that he loves the garbage truck and the garbage truck smashes the garbage. I'm not sure if he ate more than he smashed in his hands but I was a little too preoccupied to remind him about the "we don't play with food" guideline.Garett's dad spent a few days with us and Wyatt could not have enjoyed it more. He's started making a silly, scrunched up face when I pull out the camera.Finally, I love him in this sweatshirt and his Hannah Anderson hat. He looks like an old-timer football player and has the girth of a linebacker. He hates wearing hats but I can tie this one under his neck and it makes it pretty tricky for him to get off.
In spite of a car accident the week before and a double ear infection for Wyatt on Tuesday, we had a remarkably wonderful holiday. Simply being with our family and friends was a reminder of what actually matters and I am grateful to God for the way he reveals himself through relationships.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Always a Smile?

While in the ER yesterday afternoon, I saw the same doctor that we'd met a few weeks prior when we brought Wyatt in for Croup. I reminded him that we'd met and he said that he remembered me as the mom who was constantly smiling.

I had awhile to sit by myself in a quiet place (it's sad that the ER is my quiet place) and I thought a lot about what he said. Why in the world would I have been smiling while I was bringing in my son in the middle of the night for a scary bout of swelling of his vocal chords and windpipe that made it difficult for him to breathe?

I'm deeply committed to being a person who faces adversity with a smile. The problem is, this smile doesn't always come from a real place in my heart. Sometimes it forms out of habit or due to my fear of actually feeling sad or disappointed about something. I confuse a smile with truly expressing joy and gratitude, the kind that comes from experiencing sadness, followed up by the sweet relief of the presence of God.

My new commitment is to learn to allow my face to actually reflect my heart. Yes, it may not always be pretty, but it will be true and that, I believe, is what God is asking of me today.

Whiplash and Neckrubs

I was in a minor car accident yesterday that ended up being not so minor. On my way to work I was the third car in a rear-end "pile up". Unfortunately, the two cars behind me were large SUVs (think Expedition or Navigator) and moving quickly, and my little Acura did not hold up. The trunk area crumpled up like a gauzy skirt and it appears that my car is totaled.

Here's the good news. Wyatt wasn't with me. Garett left work quickly to meet me and I was only 15 minutes late to teach my class. And I walked away with only a bad case of whiplash.

Yesterday afternoon I put on movies for Wyatt and tried to rest on the couch. He kept coming over to me saying, "Come Mommy, please," which is really difficult for me to resist. I finally explained to him what happened and that my neck was sore. Without skipping a beat, he climbed up on the couch next to me and began rubbing my neck saying, "Oooohhhh...," with his sad eyes and tone. My sweet boy, I swear he gets his kindness-gene from his father.

I'm disappointed and a little overwhelmed at the prospect of finding another car, as we were hoping that I'd be driving this car for at least another five years. But, alas, we're on the hunt for a new ride. Well, not new, more like used, but new to us. If you have any ideas or suggestions, we'd love to hear from you. Where's the best place to look for cars these days?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

"Jewelry"

It all started a couple of weeks ago when Garett made me a jewelry stand for my birthday. I immediately took out my mess of a jewelry box and used the dining room table to organize all of my earrings, necklaces and bracelets on the metal stand. Wyatt observed the entire process and a fascination with jewelry began.
I had a couple of items including an old plastic necklace and a few headbands that ended up in the trash pile. This pile became Wyatt's and soon he was dressing Ruby in the necklaces and wearing the headbands around his neck. "Jewelry" seems to be in his top ten favorite words following closely behind "garbage", "dump", "smash", and "Maga" for Grandma.
This afternoon he named his stuffed puppy dog Jewelry. I still can't call the puppy by name without laughing out loud but he's pleased with his choice of name and who am I to disagree?

Friday, October 23, 2009

Light and Dark

Sometimes I don't feel capable of feeling the high of light and the depth of dark at the exact same moment. Instead, I tend to feel nothing, hoping to escape the dark unscathed and not truly experiencing the joy of the light. Why? I don't know exactly. But what I do know is that the this tendency has built up a callousness around my heart making it difficult to love and know love in meaningful ways. This translates into my relationship with God, others and, even, myself, I think. It might sound a little psychobabble-ish but it's true.

While I want to appear as if I'm okay with the variety of my experiences being a mom, really, I'm not. I judge the way that my experience of being a mom does not seem like a blessing. I am ashamed when I'm with groups of other moms and I can't find one positive thing to say about being Wyatt's mom. I get angry with God, thinking, "Why did He allow me to become a mom, knowing that I would not delight in any of it?" I feel bad about these thoughts crossing my mind, as I had so hoped to be a mom and can distinctly remember pleading with God to have a child.

As I type, the "I's" are springing from the page. I, I, I...is it all about me? Apparently. Perhaps being a mom and staying self-focused is not a good fit?

In addition to my deep commitment to all things me, it has also become a pattern to not grieve losses. What difference does this make? It, again, hardens my heart (as my commitment to not feel the pain of loss increases) and distances me from my Father who wants to meet me in the grief and remind me of who He is and how He has redeemed all things for His purposes to restore my hope and faith in His goodness and glory. Without depth in this primary relationship, I no longer know how to trust in the goodness of God during inevitable pain and loss. Cynicism and sadness grow exponentially.

God is helping me to face up to these realities and is revealing Himself. I wish I could kick this selfishness but it lingers daily. My pride leads me to believe I'm a judge, thinking I know what's up and defining what is and is not acceptable to feel.

Part of the process is learning how to grieve in a meaningful, God-honoring way. I don't even know where to begin (though I've been given some great suggestions) but am trusting that God will continue to be a God of comfort, acceptance, transformation and love, and will empower me with courage to continue facing up to life as it is. A good friend recently shared Isaiah 43:18-19 with me and it rings especially true today.

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! (I did not add this exclamation point for emphasis, it's actually there.) Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland."

Here's to a new thing. (I can't add my own exclamation point yet.)

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Mother/Father's Love and a Pumpkin Patch

Yes, that reads 33lbs. Thanks, Holly, for the great shot.
See above for example of small tantrum. I did force a photo shoot. How could I?

Yesterday I had the most meaningful experience to date as a parent. I'm not sure if I'll be able to capture it in words but I'd like to try.

It was time for Wyatt's nap and there was a crowd of people at my parent's house where we spent the weekend. I scooped him up and said my usual, "It's time for rest," and he went nuts. I think it was our first full blown fit/tantrum/I-don't-even-know-what-to-call-it. (To be clear, we have smaller ones all the time but something was different about this on.) As I carried him in my arms back to the bedroom, he flailed his arms and arched his back while screaming, "No, no, no, no, no..." and crying hysterically. We got to the bedroom and I closed the door behind us. (The best part of my parent's house is the unusually high placement of all doorknobs.)

The screaming picked up at this point, as he realized that the rest was, indeed, going to happen. I didn't know what to do (Garett's the patient parent) and quickly debated between two options. 1. I can lay him down in his bed quickly and let him cry it out. I figured he was crying anyway and a little extra crying wouldn't hurt. 2. I was second-guessing the speed with which we went from playing to resting and thought, maybe, I could just take him out to say goodbye and ease into the rest a little more gently.

Neither option seemed good so I decided to try something new. I figured it couldn't hurt and asked God to give me a little boost of energy to hang in there with my writhing-on-the-floor boy. By this time he was hitting his head against the door, still screaming. I found a book in the closet with Bible stories in rhyme and began to read it quietly. From time to time, I would get up from my chair and go over to him and say something like, "Wyatt, I love you so much. I am sad to see you so sad. It is time for a rest." This continued for maybe 10 minutes.

As I read and spoke gently to him, he began to turn his body toward me. After the turn, he would take one step and then stop. He slowly moved toward me sitting in the chair reading while he continued gurgling through his tears. Finally, he got to me and asked me to lift him up. He was still crying but beginning to melt a bit. At last, he nestled his head into my chest, held his blanket close and listened to the book. We read for quite some time, as I soaked in what had just happened, and hoped the tears would subside.

Watching Wyatt's process reminds me of how I desire to be in relationship with God. Not the tantrum part (although, sometimes it is my reality) but the moving toward our loving, long-suffering Father, still hurting, perhaps, and unsure of how things will turn out but moving toward nonetheless. I picture God loving me with his perfect mix of grace and truth, delighting in me as I am and transforming me into who he wants me to be. The transforming nature of the gospel compels and inspires new ways of being and responding to pain. In that moment, I got a tiny glimpse of the transforming power of love and I think God allowed this experience for that reminder.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Tears and Tunes

The other morning Wyatt and I went to Boo Boo Records for their weekly sing along time. We've only been one other time but I think this may be my personal highlight of no longer working on Wednesdays. Heidi leads kids and their parents in a raucous good time. Towards the end of show she led us through Five Little Ducks. When we got to the part about none of the little ducks coming back Wyatt burst into tears. He was inconsolable through the next few songs, burrowing his head in my chest and sucking his thumb. After awhile the sadness passed and he enjoyed the last couple of songs.

I keep thinking about a few things. Wyatt is a boy who feels deeply and his tears were another reminder of that fact. A few weeks ago, the purple helium balloon he got at Trader Joe's floated into the sky while he was playing on the deck. For the following couple of weeks, Wyatt woke up every day talking about the balloon, making sad eyes and a disappointed sound as he remembered what happened to the balloon. When he would venture outside, he would lift both arms up to the sky and longingly look for the lost balloon. Yes, my boy feels deeply.

In addition to becoming more acquainted with Wyatt's sensitive nature, my first and most natural inclination was to tell Wyatt that he was okay. I think my intention was to quiet him down and also to help him get past the tears. As I've thought about it, I hope I'll respond a little differently next time. Who wants to be told, "It's okay," when the tears are really flowing? I sure don't. Those who are able to sit with the tears, listen to understand their source and then simply attend to the pain stand out in my world. I desire to be that kind of mom (and friend, wife, daughter, etc.).

After we get through the tears, it's helpful to remember upon whom to fix our gaze. A gentle reminder of this beats problem solving any day. I'm glad that God shows up at sing along.

We love sand

After Wyatt and I got down to the water's edge, he laid flat on his belly, put his mouth down to the wet sand and ate mouthfuls. When do I start to get concerned that my son may have Pica? Until then, we'll have a good time and always remember to bring a change of clothes.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Before and After

We've been working on our house since the beginning of June and I have a couple of photos to share. We're not done but are at least moved in. Here are a few before and after kitchen shots:
This is the sink our family helped us buy in Italy. It's similar to the ones that they had in their homes and was quite a process getting over here. I love it and am flooded with good memories when I see it.The other areas that have seen a lot of work are the two bathrooms and the main living area. I'll post photos of those once I've taken them.

Dressed Up

Thank you Aunt Sarah and Aunt Rosella for my snazzy sweater vest and white button down shirt.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Cork Floors + Black Cubes + A Fun Dad = Giggles

This was taken the first night we spent in our new place. I'm posting this especially for you, Mom. I thought you'd like to see how much we are appreciating the black cubes.


video

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Birth of Gratitude

This morning Wyatt and I went to the church we've been attending in San Luis Obispo, First Presbyterian. While my body was begging me to stay home and rest, my heart knew that it needed worship. The pastor spoke true words about thankfulness and gratitude while my eyes welled up with tears and I experienced the beauty of the Holy Spirit.


I've been finding it difficult to be grateful. What tends to happen in a sadly cyclical nature, I complain about something, feel guilty about complaining and then wind up sitting with that guilt just long enough to muster up a bit of gratitude, only to go right back to complaining. I don't tend to complain out loud as much as I do in my head and heart. Unfortunately silent complaints still wreak havoc and impair gratitude.


The pastor shared a quote, I believe from author Eugene Peterson, that went something like this, "Gratitude is born when we mediate on God's grace and mercy." Yes, how true. God's grace and mercy are the antidote to my complaint/guilt/hint of gratitude/complaint cycle. Why is it so challenging to meditate on his grace and mercy? And why is it, even though God is so big and his grace and mercy so pervasive in my life and the world around me, that I choose to distract myself with other things and dwell on what isn't as it should be rather than what is? That's what I've been pondering this afternoon.


I have lots of excuses for my distraction and keen ability to complain. It's the energy required these days to be Wyatt's mom. It's the disappointing changes at work. It's the ways in which my body is in pain each day. It's missing my husband while he kindly and unselfishly works on our new home day and night. There's always something, isn't there?


I don't think that God's grace and mercy are counterpoints to these things, rather it's an in/through/because of kind of thing. I deeply desire to know and experience God through life as it is because I believe that he's there, in all of it, waiting for me to draw near to him, to redeem all things for his purposes and to reflect himself in and through me.

So, what if God's grace gives me joy and strength through Wyatt's never-ending energy and zest for life? What if I feel God's mercy through the change in my health care coverage, trusting that he will provide for my every need? What if I trust that God's grace will be sufficient, as it's been each and every day for the past 16 years, to sustain me through the highs and lows of Behcet's? What if I see the grace of God in his provision of our new home where we'll raise Wyatt and enjoy community?

And gratitude is born. In the dwelling, the meditating, the mind that so quickly swerves from gratitude to criticism. I like the idea of gratitude being born, starting as something small but growing naturally as we feed and nurture it. And, let's hope gratitude is the only thing I'm giving birth to anytime in the near future.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Bookworm Phase

Wyatt loves books and I love that he loves books. This love gets us through cranky late afternoons, trips to the supermarket and my exhaustion at the end of the day. These days it seems to be the only time he's content being still.He's started liking to read alone in his crib in the morning before he gets his day started. When I come in to get him, he reaches for his books and waves me away, letting me know he's not quite ready to get out of bed yet. I can relate. So I scoop up a few books, put them in his crib and turn on the light. He flips through them methodically and pretends to read them. Sometimes I stay in there and watch him but sometimes I tinker around in the kitchen listening to him babbling from the next room. This morning he read for a good 30 minutes. I think tomorrow I'm going to bring in a book of my own and enjoy a little morning reading.

You never know how long a new phase like this will last but it sure beats the screaming-until-I-pick-him-up phase.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Poisonous Plants for Children

This afternoon as Wyatt and I were playing a simple game of peekaboo, I noticed the beautiful colors of the jade plant and grabbed the camera. Right before I took the picture, Wyatt decided to take a huge bite of jade.

Of course I googled "poisonous plants for children" and thankfully jade is not on the list. Shortly thereafter, Wyatt decided to eat an entire handful of rocks from a pile near our house. Usually a quick finger sweep does the trick but now he's started clenching his jaw, looking over his shoulder and running away from me after he eats something outside. The wise words of his pediatrician continue ringing in my ear, "This year is all about safety."







Monday, June 1, 2009

Mmmmmm...

It seems I have quite a few shots of food we enjoyed in Italy and I'd like to share them. I'm still dreaming of the best pesto ever and the perfect wine from the barrel.

Here are some of the treats that were shared with us during our time with our family. First, the individual pizzas. Here's Lino kneading the dough that Theresa made that morning.

Here are the pizzas right before hitting the oven.

This is where the magic happens.

And, finally. the best pizza ever. He used three cheeses, fresh tomato sauce, homemade pancetta and argula from the garden. Jenni, I think you would approve of the thin crust.
Here's a shot of the meats curing in a room below one of their homes in town. Thankfully, I did not see this room in person and only saw the photo that Garett took upon our return.
And later, the coldcuts on our plate during the antipasto course.

The Ligurian region is known for their pesto and Lisetta's pesto is the best. She claims the key is to only use one small clove of garlic and barely any olive oil. It also helps that the most fragrant basil is grown in this region.

Norina (on the right) is affectionately called Queen of the Mushrooms, as she has several secret spots where she finds amazing mushrooms. That morning, Maria (in the middle) tricked her into thinking that she'd found this huge mushroom but she'd actually picked it up at the grocery store. Norina was in awe until she realized she was being tricked.

They sliced up and fried the mushroom. Yum.
I've been dreaming of Lino's cappuccino since our visit five years ago. He kindly made me one each morning and also shared his espresso with us after each and every meal.
In addition to the espresso, each meal concluded with some alcohol to "settle our stomach".
They took us to a restaurant in nearby Recco known for focaccia with fromaggio.

Wyatt loved it.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to take this photo in time to capture the tasty gelato on the top of these cones. My favorite flavor was pistachio and Garett's was straciatella (chocolate chip).

Finally, at the villa where we stayed in Levanto I discovered a very happy kumquat tree. When we checked out, I picked a big bag and saved them for the airplane ride home. Kumquats are my favorite fruit so it was the perfect ending to the trip.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

You know it's been awhile since you've blogged when...

...it takes three tries to remember your correct user name and password.

Here are a couple photos from our recent trip to Italy. Garett's grandfather was born in the small mountain town of Cassingheno about an hour outside Genova. This is a picture of his second cousins Lisetta and Norina, their husbands Rino and Lino and mother Theresa, and neighbor (who also lives in LA half of the year and was a very helpful translator) Maria. They have this amazing room below their home called a taverna where they host large family meals usually on Saturdays and Sundays. The wine abounds and the large wood fired pizza oven in the corner delivered individual pizzas on our last day together. Wyatt's backpack-turned-high chair got us through the deliciously long and leisurely meals.
Lisetta and Wyatt shared a particular bond. It was as if they were old friends when they first met.
Wyatt's first taste of fresh lemon gelato. You'd think he didn't like it but he ate nearly an entire bowl making this face after every bite.We went to our favorite little beach town, Levanto. The Hsiehs told us about it several years ago and we can't visit Italy without spending at least three days there. This was a typical shot from the days where we traveled by train.
Levanto has a large sandy beach where we spent most of our time. The water was warm and the sea still so it made for easy swimming.
Gratuitous family shot during our best non-family prepared meal.
I'll end with a product endorsement. The travel bed that Wyatt is playing in made our trip pleasant. He slept in it on the airplane in the space below our feet in our bulkhead seats and slept in it on the train while we traveled when he was tired. He slept in it every night during our stay and that allowed us to sleep well and enjoy the days. I got it from Amazon but here's a link to the manufacturer's website: http://www.kidco.com/main.taf?p=4,5 When packed up, it fit snugly in my carry on suitcase. Seriously the most worthwhile $75 we spent on the trip.