Thursday, July 30, 2009

Growing up


Emily has started out solid foods. Well, when I say she has started solid foods, I mean she isn't really into swallowing her rice cereal, but man oh man, does she love her spoon. She knows just what to do with it, too. She always sticks the correct end into her mouth. This milestone has really signalled to me that she is growing up. She'll still nurse for several months, but I am gradually becoming less essential to her survival. She's learning to roll to get where she wants to go. She's learning to manipulate the world around her. She's started the process of growing away from me. Which is what I'm raising her to do, but it still makes me a little wistful.

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As I'm standing in line at the pediatrician's office, Emily makes friends like she always does. She loves meeting new people, and she beams at the woman before us in line (despite having just had shots - isn't she a sweet baby?). I start chatting with the mother, and she exclaims, "it's no wonder she's such a smiley baby - she has you as an example!" I smile to myself - despite Emily's growing independence, she's still learning from me. Who I am and what I do make a difference in who she will become. And I've done something that has helped her take a positive step. I realize that if I do my job well, this process will continue throughout both our lives.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Bonsai!

We recently took an outing to the National Arboretum. Note to self: not the same thing as the National Botanical Gardens (where we were supposed to be meeting friends), even if it is the only place that Google Maps directs you to when you type in National Botanical Gardens. I've got to stop trusting Google Maps. But we still had a grand, though friendless, time there. The grounds were lovely, and they had a fascinating exhibit on Bonsai tress. They even had a 400 year old Bonsai tree that survived the bombing at Hiroshima.


In other news, I got to enjoy the fruits of my labors - I kept my tomatoes alive long enough to harvest!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Six Months

Holy cow, I've kept a baby alive for six months! (With a lot of help from friends and family, of course).

I was just re-reading my pre-pregnancy post about struggling to picture myself with a baby. And here I am, loving that life. Emily is an absolute delight. She wakes up each afternoon morning with giggles and enormous smiles. She laughes with me when I dance about the kitchen while cooking dinner. Her face lights up when I start singing her "Popcorn Popping." I'm positively addicted to the smell of the top of her head. I have so much fun with her. She is a very, very sweet little girl. I didn't know someone so young could express gratitude and affection, but she does. She gives me slobbery kisses, and genuine smiles when I do something nice for her. I'm so glad I get to enjoy this phase of life with her. Happy half-birthday, Emily!

Oh...

So remember how I was just complaining about how painful it was for me to make it through Robinson Crusoe? Turns out that I somehow managed to get my hands on a copy that seamlessly included the painfully dull sequel. So I read 150 pages more of poor Robin's adventures than everyone else at book group. Word of advice: if you decided to read Robinson Crusoe, read the shorter version.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Some random weekend musings

  • I read when I feed Emily (one of the many ways I multitask to get some me time). I've discovered that the more I like the book I'm reading, the more willing I am to feed her. I just finished Potok's My Name is Asher Lev, and I think Emily has probably gained five pounds in the past three days. The slighest little frown, and off we'd go to the chair where I feed her. Emily is lucky she didn't starve to death when I had to read Robinson Crusoe for book group. And I have to lead the discussion on it next week. I'm in so much trouble.
  • I went through a phase in high school where I liked shopping, but for most of my life, it has fallen into the realm of "girly things that just aren't me." Probably has something to do with having student loans to pay off. Or the fact the 80s seem to be coming back (heaven help us all). Anyways, can I say that not having the car during the day changes that? I had the car on Friday, and man oh man, I wanted to buy, buy, buy because it meant I could stay out longer. So I've decided the library is a safer bet (don't worry - all my Target purchases were responsible).
  • I went to my first Cub Scout Pack Meeting this week. That's right. I'm now volunteering as a den leader. I'll be with the Wolves and the Bears. It is going to be a lot of fun. Eight year olds are great. The biggest lesson I learned from the meeting is if you want boys to sit still, play music. We did an arrow of light ceremony and played background music, and the boys were just entranced. I'll have to remember that trick.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Company!

We've had a lot of company these past few weeks, and I've adored getting to spend so much time with people I love. First, my wonderful mother came into town. I really enjoyed just getting to hang out with her and talk with her. Life can get hectic, and it was wonderful just relaxing and being together.

Next, Mary Ellen came through Baltimore, so we drove up to meet her there. On the same trip, I got to meet my new nephew, Abraham (pictured with Mary Ellen)!


After that, Phil and Delys managed to arrange a long layover in Baltimore on their way back from a conference in England. It was wonderful to spend time with them, and remember being with them in London.

We met up with Delys and the Charles family down on the mall and hit a few museums (including a whirlwind 15 minute tour of the National Gallery before it closed). Here is Sam, Ben, and William's tribute to Rodin's Walking Man.

There are a lot more pictures on the Picasa album, so check them out!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Expanding and Contracting

At my six week checkup, I was back to my pre-pregnancy weight (please don’t throw rocks at me!). When I got home, I eagerly pulled out my “before” clothes. I was a bit startled to discover that although my weight had returned to normal, my body had significantly changed shape. My tight-fitting jeans now hung loosely around thighs, while I couldn’t get my dress slacks around my waist. My button-up shirts no longer closed around my nursing-enhanced chest. I was “back to normal,” but not quite the same.

A similar phenomenon has happened with my identity and motherhood. I am in a state of flux, with parts of myself expanding and parts contracting. I have increased significantly in empathy, but decreased in modesty (yes, I did flash an entire bus full of people while I was nursing at the park and ride). I have more to write about, but less to talk about. And, ironically, less to talk about, but a greater need to talk about it. I lean more heavily on some people, and other relationships have been temporarily put on hold. Some of my talents have been strengthened because of frequent use, while others are languishing because I haven’t attempted them since I became a mother. I am myself, but more and less simultaneously.

Some days I scroll through my blog and wonder where I am amid the onslaught of pictures of my daughter. Other days I skim my pre-motherhood journals and feel there is a dimension of myself missing at these earlier dates. President Brown gave a parable about a currant bush, where the plant needs to be pruned to become what the gardener wants it to become. I see this happening in my life. Parts of my identity are chopped off, and sometimes I miss them, but I know it will bring different growth in my life, and I will become more beautiful and have more to give as a result. And, most importantly, I am taking the shape that God wants me to take.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Thank you, President Uchtdorf

The desire to create is one of the deepest yearnings of the human soul. No
matter our talents, education, backgrounds, or abilities, we each have an
inherent wish to create something that did not exist before. -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

When President Uchtdorf addressed the women of the LDS church in October of 2008, he suggested two activities to us that would bring happiness into our lives (not the complete formula, of course): creating and being compassionate. I have to admit, I was a little skeptical about the creating part. In fact, recently I'd had a conversation with a friend about how I'd finally embraced the fact I was not creative. I wasn't saying that I didn't have talents. I just meant that I preferred to emulate, rather than innovate. I had a better talent for analyzing works of fiction than writing my own. I had a better talent for doing guitar covers of existing songs than writing my own. And yes, these works are a form of creation. But they just didn't feel creative to me.

When I first heard President Uchtdorf's talk, I started looking at my existing actions a little differently. Yes, the guitar song existed before, but I remembered comments of friends that said that I was able to make them feel something different when I sang it than when the artist did. I thought about cooking, and how I desperately need a recipe to start with, but I adjust it like crazy until it becomes my own. I realized that I do enjoy these things, and just because I used inspiration doesn't mean I didn't give them life. I nodded to myself, and thought I had got what President Uchtdorf was saying.

Since then, I decided to give the creativity thing a try. I've been working a little on creative non-fiction, and on writing songs. And while I'm nowhere even close to sending things off for publication (or even letting people listen to them), can I just say that I'm really finding joy in it? Part of it may just be that I'm taking time to do something for myself, which every mom needs. But the biggest change I've realized is that it makes me look at the world around me differently. I am looking for inspiration wherever I go, and I love what I see. It makes me explore my thoughts and feelings, and notice the little pleasures in my life. It makes me capture things that I might have let slip away, even if it is captured imperfectly. And it feels good.