Gratitude Lately.

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This week I’ve been grateful for the last colored leaves gracing our deck.

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Bathtime funtime with this silly goose.

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Colors and silhouettes and all of the natural things we are surrounded by.

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Summer’s teething lips and the dress that matches Dolly’s.

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Spying on story time with these two darlings.

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That somehow they become extra cute when they’re all bundled up and cuddly.

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Our last days in this teensy mountain town.

Gratitude.

Every week, I’ll be taking a nod from one of my favorite blogs and just doing a quick update and practice in thankfulness.

So in the past few weeks, here are a few things I’ve been grateful for:

family

My sweet best loves who make everyday exciting.
kimery tim

Best friends who drive 5 hours up horrible roads to see us. And the beautiful scenery we’re surrounded by!

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Fresh air, mobility, and shared experiences.

pumpkin outfit

This perfect girl and the silly and adorable outfits she lets us flaunt her in (pardon the cleavage).

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My family that only gets better with age.

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Facetiming the best sister/aunt.

leaves

Watching this girl enjoy the seasons.

Happy Thursday everyone! May we each experience the amazing power of gratitude: how it turns everything into enough.

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
― Marcel Proust

on meeting rachel held evans.

Last year for Christmas, Tim gave me both of Rachel Held Evans’ books. I had asked for her most recent, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, but he got me both saying that he thought it would be helpful to have her whole canon haha. Boy am I lucky–he is so thoughtful. And right.

My first introduction to Rachel was in a World Religions class my senior year. Our professor showed us this post, and while it wasn’t written by her, I knew she must have been pretty awesome to have this featured on her blog. For some time I would randomly visit her website, read some things she had posted and walk away really grateful and happy that someone out there had the ability to write so well about things that I felt I couldn’t, simply because to gather all my thoughts on these subjects and wrestle them down into actual words and sentences seemed like so much work (and by this time I was pregnant anyway, and making placenta is just truly exhausting). This is how I heard about her book, and I was ECSTATIC that not only was a young woman confronting the ideas that calling anything “biblical” is quite silly and that the Bible offers one actual stance on womanhood, but she actually took various instructions from the Bible as they related to women and lived them out literally for a year. So yeah, this gal sincerely refrained from touching anyone for twelve days during her period. She. is. awesome. I’ll let you read the publisher-approved Amazon description of it here.

But anyway, my biggest takeaway from this gem of a book was the idea of a “hermeneutic of love.” Tim and I have so many conversations centered on the frustrating task of interpreting the Bible, including how upset we get when people assume it’s a simple task and that there are little questions to be asked of it. Plus we both know just from, oh I don’t know–living life–that it is 10000% impossible to approach anything without some sort of filter or even ambition. And even if you are coming at it as objectively as possible, without any goal in mind, you cannot shed your layers of experience, personality, and ideas of who God is as you read the Bible. I’m positive that this is why there is so much debate about many of the Church’s “touchy” subjects–especially women. But Rachel reminds us that Jesus is the fulfillment of, well, the Bible. He is the standard of perfection–the human example given to us (& GOD ON EARTH) and the one that we should emulate. And when asked, Jesus offers that the greatest commandment is to love. EVERYONE. What a beautiful lens through which to read the Bible. And of course, one could easily go into specifics on Jesus’ wonderful, edifying, and important relationships with women as further instruction, but this hermeneutic of love offers so much. It encourages us to speak kindly, listen to other views, and–dare I say it–perhaps interpret the Bible in a more progressive, “What would Jesus do with this group of people now?” kind of way. I don’t know, I loved this book to pieces. I highly recommend it to ALL.

A few months later, I read her first book, Evolving in Monkey Town. This was a sincere treat for me, because during her junior year of college, she entered a very similar faith crisis as I did my junior year of college (but you know, ten years later). Her thoughts and ways of contending with ongoing doubt spoke so deeply to me as I continue to question and wrestle and doubt (as I surely will for all my days sigh). So seriously, if you’ve ever had just the slightest doubtful question and are not okay with trying to completely shut it up but would rather live with it and soak in the tension, please read this book. I’m pretty sure she’s revising it right now so a second edition should be coming out fairly soon. (Another book of comfort to me was In Praise of Doubt.)

ANYWAY, last night, Tim and I (and Summer!) ventured to Asheville to hear Rachel speak about this year of “biblical womanhood” and have a Q&A session. Tim and I were in. our. glory. As grateful as we are for this current season and the tremendous gift it has been to spend these 18 months in Highlands, we are severely devoid of “fellowship” (GAH that word) with people of like-mindedness, people who are willing to challenge us, and jeez I don’t know, Christians at all. And some of this is our fault, because we have been slightly reluctant to get too involved with the church we go to (because we are leaving soon, theological differences, lack of young married couples–much less 23 year old parents, etc.). But some of it is also work schedules, and that we are living in (partial) seclusion. But to be able to have a quick chat with Rachel and her husband Dan, to ask some questions and hear ideas from them, to just have a small interaction of this nature sincerely refreshed our souls so much. (Obviously, we really miss Taylor. 😥 We react similarly every time friends come to visit haha.)

We are so excited about taking our time to find a church in Florida, getting to know the people there, obtaining mentors (I’ve never had one but my friend Naomi tells me it’s the sheet) (Rachel plz b my long-distance mentor, thx bb), and just hopefully being a part of a group or network of people in which we can be honest about our questions and thoughts, challenged in these, encouraged in these, and pushed toward excellence and ongoing growth.

My personal challenge for myself as we enter this new time in our lives is summed up in this Henri Nouwen quote: “Sometimes I feel imprisoned by my own insights and ‘spiritual competence’. You alone, Lord, can reach out to me and save me. You alone.”

I want to sit through a church service without making a mental list of all the “wrong” or “backwards” things I just heard. I want to shed any idea that I have an elite view of how to live a Christian life. And I want to remind myself of the potency of the resurrection every single day, holding Jesus’ act as my motivation for doing everything instead of my pride or insecurity (what’s the difference, people) or fear.

I want to not be intellectually lazy. There are some days that I, embarrassingly enough, choose to read an article on Kim Kardashian’s parenting habits over one on the latest in Syria. When I have new questions and interests, I want to purposefully set aside time to research da hellz out of it. Ja feel?

And I want to be an excellent mom. A mom worthy of the praise-phrase eshet chayil! (Link is to a guest post by Rachel on another blog.)

(Majah props to Rachel and Dan for inadvertently helping us to sort of create these goals.)

So here’s to Asheville, Rachel and Dan, the most perfect partner Tim, moving, humility, and growth. (And hopefully no pregnancies in 2014.)

Rachel’s Amazon Page
Rachel’s Website & Blog

mmm fall.

I truly can’t believe it, but this is our last fall for a long time. 😦 One of the first benefits that Tim and I reaped by going to Taylor was this magnificent season. I mean for pity’s sake, it’s 90 degrees in both South Florida and the Bahamas right now, and the only trees I see in those parts are Palm Trees (which, don’t get me wrong, I adore). It’s just that it’s going to be hard giving up this relatively new discovery of ours, and so we’ve been trying to think of ways to celebrate this last one. Here is our tentative Fall To-Do List:

  1. Acquire pumpkins. (Done on October 10. Maybe there are literally hundreds of pumpkins currently decorating town. Maybe some storefronts and inns and restaurants have an excessive amount on display. Maybe Summer and I decided to help them out [of course I add her in to the blame]. And maybe there are now four delightful pumpkins sitting on my porch.)
  2. Decorate and carve said pumpkins.
  3. Hike Whiteside Mountain to take in the foliage. (Check out this recent article about Whiteside).
  4. Rake and play in the leaves before the lawn service does.
  5. Bake something new with pumpkin. (I’m thinking pumpkin scones considering Tim and I are constantly tempted to live off the Starbucks ones.)
  6. Make something involving apple cider. Maybe this is apple cider itself, or whatever. We’ll see.
  7. Go to an orchard or a pumpkin patch.
  8. Go to some type of festival. (We went to a state fair on September 11 and an apple festival last weekend. Like many events we get excited for in these little towns, neither quite lived up to the hype. Sigh.)
  9. Drink hot chocolate at Sunset Rock.
  10. Have some sort of Halloween Party. (Sweet, innocent Tim McD and Kimery are coming to visit and I’m thinking I’m going to force some sort of fest on them muahaha. Of course, this will probably end up being us starting a Harry Potter movie while drinking this. Just kidding, I hope we’re not that boring yet.)
  11. Take a million photos of Summer…oh wait. I do this daily.
  12. Dress her up for Halloween! She and I will be in Ft. Lauderdale for this occasion and boy does my mama have plans.

So there’s a start at least. Who knows what will happen ha. Anyway, I’m sorry it took me so long to post again. It’s mostly because last week we had a really terrible time with Summer. She cried constantly, needed to be held all the time, woke up throughout the night, and just seemed miserable. She also started to get a little rash on her forehead, tummy, and feet. I was so upset for a while, thinking that her personality must have altered and now I had a miserable baby instead of a happy one. Which, of course, would be fine cause it’s not like she’s going to be a baby forever–I just missed her giggles and smiles and stuff. But then in addition to the rash, she stopped wanting to eat anything and thus stopped wetting her diaper. We finally realized that she must be sick. We went to the doctor last Monday and he told us that she has a little stomach virus, which was also causing the rash (luckily Summer had a really mild version). He recommended that we give her Pedialyte to keep her hydrated and told us that it should remedy itself in a few days. Luckily, he was so right. After only one or two small drinks of Pedialyte, she was ready to nurse again, which was a HUGE relief. We made it through several episodes of diarrhea and just one more grumpy day and then she was back!! We are so grateful that she got better as quickly as she got sick. This is the first time she’s been ill, so Tim and I feel like we’ve made it through another parenting challenge. High five (said like Borat). The last few days I’ve inadvertently been doing even more fawning over her because I’m just so grateful that she’s still the same sweet yummy girl.

Other recent highlights include a visit from Ellen, a Taylor friend yesterday! She was a junior when I was a freshman, and that class on our wing treated us babies like royalty. Best upperclassmen award, for sure. I hadn’t seen her in a couple of years, so it was great to be with a fellow 2CO lady, catching up and walking around Highlands.

Also, Tim has been kicking butt at both work and school lately. He’s had an amazing work week, what with town being CRAZY and packed with leaf-lookers and such. He’s so sweet and complains so little. What a troopah. Also, he’s got a 97% in his class right now BAM.

And also! Summer is so close to crawling! She gets herself on her hands and knees all the time, and then pushes up into planks haha. Little yogi. But still no mobility!

And finally, here are some recent photos. 🙂

on love.

I think…Summer sort of told me she loved me last night (not with words of course, let’s not get crazy). This is something I wasn’t expecting for years, and I also wasn’t sure what it would feel like. I mean, kids simply do not have the depth and severity of love for their parents like parents do for them. My love for her is completely unconditional (but obvious and not-so-obviously  differs from the love between Tim and I). Tim and I will always have an exchange, actions and words that keep the other one aware of how loved and adored they are. We can always count on each other for that. But with Summer, I am totally prepared to lavish everything I have on her without the same sort of reciprocity. Therein lies the mystery in what receiving love from your own children is like. But just yesterday, I think she and I exchanged something like an understanding of love. For all I know this is completely in my head but whatevs. Allow me to describe:

Last night Summer had a particularly monstrous bed time.

Typically, she’ll have a bath, be really cuddly and giggly for a bit, and then settle down for the last supper. Most nights she falls asleep while eating. Whenever she doesn’t, we just lay her in her crib after we are positive that she is no longer hungry, and sometimes she’ll cry and squirm about for a while but she falls asleep on her own pretty quickly. Recently, this has all been transpiring by 11:00 the latest, but last night 11:00 came and went and there was little chatty Summer, displaying zero interest in leaving the party. Uh-oh.

At a little after 11, I laid her in her crib. This was met with expected crying so I quickly left and shut the door. (Such sounds are too painful to bear.) Ten minutes go by and this girl is WAILING. I mean screaming, freaking out, losing it. I went back in her room half-tempted to rip it apart searching for the predator making her squawk so hideously. I rubbed her back and shushed her until she calmed down. Side note: it really is the weirdest thing that babies like being shushed. I literally loathe it. Actually, it’s the only time I got mad during labor–when I thought Tim was shushing me.

I stayed for a long time and when she seemed okay, I left again. This time it took only two minutes for the crying to escalate to sheer hysteria comparable to a miserable hyena. Nonny Karen is visiting so she went in to have a go at it. By this point, we are all on the verge of tears because of how horrid and sad the crying is, and because we are simply dying to watch the season premiere of Homeland and we’re already a day behind (#goodbyebreakingbad). Haha just kidding, it is completely because we hate when she cries (she so rarely does) and by now I’m feeling like the worst mother in the world. I keep thinking about how she must be so mad at me cause if I were her I’d be screaming in contempt, not loneliness. Like jeez woman why you gotta be so cold.

Soon I heard footsteps coming down the hallway and thought “Holy crap. This has gotten so bad that Summer taught herself to walk so that she could escape.” But no; I learned that as soon as Nonny picked her up, she began throwing herself at and reaching for the door. So now here she was: her face salty and wet and her eyes fixed on me. I am the target of her fury and I am full of guilt because she must feel full of betrayal. Tim took her and whispered loving thoughts to her in a way that would have hushed me contentedly, but to each their own, I guess. Her eyes stayed on me. I ashamedly began making my way towards her to shower her in apologies and kisses and cuddles, and I was met with her lunging at and reaching for me. I winced and prepared for the blow, but no. She just held me and I seriously died. She just hugged me and cried into my shoulder much more softly, and truly we were both so grateful for each other. I bounced her up and down until she finally slipped into slumber. In order to prolong this magical moment of her sweet love, I shrunk into the rocking chair and just kept her close to me for a while longer before I laid her peacefully in her bed. I was literally ecstatic.

I know I’m really stretching the significance of this, but to me her choice of, hugs for, and contentment with me was a gift. It was her saying “I love you, mama!” long before I expected it. I am so excited for little gifts like these that I will unexpectedly receive throughout her life, hopefully culminating in her friendship.

Side note: Summer totally adores Tim. I’m definitely not the only person she ever wants to spend time with. And when Tim is playing his guitar or singing, it’s over. And also she was alone with Nonny for a while yesterday and today and was totally happy. This was just a random incident of her wanting my affection that just slaughtered me with yummies.

P.S.S. I am in no way against Ferberizing.

Lastly, this was all over by 11:45, for those interested.

Here are some photos!

glider high chair

On feeding an infant.

This sweet girl has been eye-ing table food and grabbing plates and slobbering everywhere for months, poor thing, and finally she is able to reap some rewards!

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Since she has turned 4 or 5 months, I have been dying with anticipation to start giving dis gal some real food. I researched the heck out of the process: read all sorts of articles, talked to her pediatrician, asked opinions of lots of folk, and stalked several mommy blogs. After all of this, I came to the conclusion that a process called “Baby-Led Weaning” was the way to go. Weaning is used here to mean “introducing new foods” not taking away da boob. The idea is that babies should learn to chew from the start, not simply get used to swallowing purees and then learn a skill that they maybe should have developed already. So you give them chunks of food, including pieces of whatever you may be eating (as long as it’s healthy and clean) and BAM these little creatures know what to do.

BUT NO NOT SO IT IS A LIE.

I mean sure, this obviously works for some people because of all the personal experiences I’ve read. And yes, Summer has given every indication that she is a perfect candidate for this type of eating: extreme interest in food (especially while I am eating), wonderful hand-eye coordination (she did not learn that from me), and an excellent grasp (both intellectually and physically, that is). BUT NO. It’s like she hates the taste of everything but breast milk! I gave her a banana, and she made a face that would have told any audience that indeed this item looked like a banana, but it was just a cleverly disguised mound of dirt. Although in all honesty, she did try to chomp around on it after a few minutes, but just didn’t really seem to care. Later that night, I tried a piece of steamed chicken. Again, some gnawing but nothing to indicate that she wanted this foreign piece of blah inside of her mouth, making its way down to her tum tum. I forfeited for the evening.

Several days later, I steamed up some sweet potato and carrot, hoping that this would do the trick. I gave it to her and she IMMEDIATELY knew that I was traitorously attempting to give her something that indeed was NOT from mommy’s body AGAIN. She made a grimace that would make even the Joker cry and pushed it right out of her mouth. No no no, she says.

Thus, I quit. I am so confused! This girl has been salivating at the sight of table food for weeks and weeks and weeks. What a little bluffer!

So yesterday, here we all are, sitting at our favorite Indian restaurant in all the world, as I attempt one last time at food-chunk-approach and not puree-approach. No. THREE STRIKES YOU’RE OUT, MAMA. Well I marched myself into Target, waving my white flag sky high. After much, much scouring for something that seemed acceptable for the perfect creature in my care, I landed upon an amazing cereal made by Ella’s Kitchen. (Aside from the comic sans font all over the website, I am a new fan.)

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And you know what? HUGE success. For all of the reasons I thought it wasn’t necessary, she obviously just needs her first foods to be soaked in breast milk. And that is so fine. She will learn to chew just like many babies have for centuries. I also picked up two little pouches of pureed bananas and carrots to try before I run off giving all my produce to this lil gal who ain’t having it. After a few weeks, once her palate has begun adjusting, I am really hoping to go back to having her feed herself chunks of fresh or steamed produce. This is all such an adventure. Wish us luck!

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about this bloggy

“Oh thank GOD. ANOTHER blog about being a mother. Golly I thought the internet was about to run right out.” – so not what I would be thinking if I were you.

But that’s okay! The thing is, I think I need this blog ha. I really think my best bet at processing various life changes and experiences is to write about them. And I am currently not short on those. In a matter of 56 days, I went from being a new college grad to a wife to an expectant mother. Like chill the heck out, girl. But now that my perfect little girl is 6 months, I feel like I’m finally able to rewind and begin sifting through the myriad lessons and joys that come along with all three of these things!

I’m not one of those women that have a niche. Like I don’t eat strictly vegan or gluten-free, I don’t stick to one specific workout regimen, and I’m a feminist but have not read enough books to claim that I hold all ze womanly knowledge. I don’t sew my pants off (or on for that matter), hell I don’t even drink coffee. But! I am interested in all those things, along with many others. And as much as I wish that I could claim I’m not a nut for something specific because I have a great sense of balance, I think it’s probably more my fear of failure and just having lots of interests.

Nevertheless, I like the idea of having a place to draw out my thoughts on all these topics, including marriage and parenthood. So here I am! I called this blog “Not Your Mama” because I just simply do not feel like the typical mother. First of all, I’m only 23. Secondly, I firmly believe there are maybe 1-2 Disney princesses that are not simply abhorrent. I am so much more concerned that my baby grows into a strong, healthy, independent, compassionate, generous lover of Jesus Christ. I never want her to fall into the “waiting for my prince” trap or be prisoner to crazy ideas of gender roles. Thirdly, I AIN’T yo mama. And fourthly, I really don’t have a specific angle or theme! I just want to put my ideas out there, keep my friends and family updated on my little munchkin, and ruminate on thoughts having to do with my husband, daughter, food, fitness, spiritual equality, and Jesus Christ.