Tuesday, January 10, 2017

My little boy

You know the joke (sort of) about how new parents look down at their baby and wonder when the "real" parents will show up? Only because it is such a great responsibility!

Confession time: I STILL feel that way, even though my son just turned 4.5 years old. How is he MINE? How am I old enough to have kids? (and some of my friends have teenagers) When are the real grown-ups going to show up and make the decisions and take him to the doctor and shepherd his little heart? I'm so glad I don't have to do it by myself. Because I'm winging it.

When I take the time to slow down, I wonder if I'm too late to enjoy him while he's still little. What if he doesn't need me anymore? I yell "I love you!" just to test it out, and he still says it back. :) I reach out for a cuddle, and he's still up for it. Whew. I can't carry him around anymore. And since I stopped trying to carry him around much about a year ago, it always surprises me when I put my arms around him and feel how tall and heavy he's gotten.

At night David often calls for me, since Daddy is with Sophia. I grab half the contents of my bedside table and relocate to his bed across the hall. Recently I noticed that he was making it until dawn by himself. But then I kept going in to join him anyway. Sometimes the neighbors were too loud on my side of the apartment, and sometimes I just wanted the company. I wanted to squeeze in as many cuddles as I could! Then when it got really cold this past week, we curled up together for warmth, and argued in the morning over who would turn on the light!

Having a younger sibling can make a child seem older, but David is still a little boy! He still has cute (mis)pronunciation and plenty of innocence left. "Come visit us sometime," say the guests on their way out. "Okay, I'll come tomorrow!" I'm a little bit scared thinking of the disappointments in life that will eventually come his way.

I hope he notices that I neglect the housework in order to spend time with him! I know it probably seems like he always has to wait for me to just do one more thing-feed the baby, go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, turn on the washing machine, etc. But I really do try to relax and be present, even if I complain about the mess all along the way.

4.5 years ago I became a mother! I don't feel like I'm out of the fog yet, but I've managed to keep him alive so far. ;)

P.S. Totally forgot to dedicate a song to my birthday boy! Not really related to motherhood, but in honor of the Storks movie we've been watching lately, it's "Fire and the Flood" by Vance Joy.

Late at night when you can't fall asleep
I'll be lying right beside you counting sheep
Anywhere I go there you are
Anywhere I go there you are...

Thursday, January 5, 2017


A lot of people were commenting on how awful 2016 was. And I can definitely think of people near me who have lost loved ones very recently. Even as I type this, the names and faces float across my mind, and I lift them up to the Lord. A child...a mother....an orphanage director...a father. Sometimes it is just something that happens to other people, and sometimes it is closer to home.

He isn't doing it as much now, but David had a period this fall where he was asking me about death a lot.

"Mommy, I don't want to die, EVER." And I just say "I know." Because I don't want to trivialize the grim reality of death by saying something too chipper, and neither do I want to admit that it scares me, too.

But one day we had a talk about new bodies, and he kind of latched on to that idea. And by the next evening he had a new prayer request: that we would die soon, to see Jesus, to get new bodies, so that he could run fast and Nina could pick him up and play rough with him, etc. I felt like his uncomplicated understanding of it made it easier for him to change direction with his thinking.

I don't know if I'm too young for a mid-life crisis or not, but sometimes it feels like I'm at some kind of point of no return (over the hill?), where that old injury or whatever isn't something that's just going to go away....it's here for good. Those hobbies might never fit into my lifestyle again.  This old brain might not bounce back (though it's still early postpartum). And sooner or later we do have to look to the future and think about eventually having new bodies. I wish I could have the pure excitement of my son as he imagines unlimited physical activity!

Will there be gravity in heaven?

Monday, January 2, 2017

We Made It, Part 2

We survived New Year's Eve!

It actually wasn't too bad considering New Year's Eve is one of my least favorite holidays. I think I'm warming up to it, but it's still hard to accept that the Russian New Year is my Christmas. So a lot of the excitement that I feel for Christmas is what they feel before New Year's. Whereas I feel nothing before New Year's, so I feel guilty for feeling nothing! If that even makes sense. I also don't like messing with everybody's sleep schedule and then having to get back on track. That must be an adult thing as I enjoyed plenty of all-nighters in my youth!

So, my in-laws came over around our dinnertime which is 8pm. I barely lifted a finger this time. I try to get the table set and create a generally festive atmosphere, but I can't handle a bunch of cooking and cleaning with small kids around. So they actually brought the food AND the presents, and I was (mostly) cool, calm and collected...MY gift to everyone. Seriously, it was a good plan. I was hanging the laundry while they were there, though...sometimes Andrei and I sneak around trying to get things done while the grandparents are around!

We had a tasty meal: chicken, oven fries (by Andrei), mushrooms in cream sauce, beet salad, and fresh veggies. Assorted storebought desserts.

We tried to get Sophia some sleep before the fireworks began, but she wasn't keen on missing the party. She definitely got a little over-stimulated.

Friday, December 30, 2016

We Made It!

We survived the first semester with 2 kids! Andrei's done administering exams, so we've got a break now until next semester. There are definite perks to the academic schedule. If only certain conditions were a little bit more ideal!

I'm not sure what I pictured exactly, but the last few months could have been worse. We had our non-sleeper first and our good sleeper second (I type this as she is screaming hysterically and not going to sleep, but...usually she's pretty good).

One of the harder things about having more than one child is keeping them safe from each other... keeping them from waking each other up, etc. Sophia is pretty easy-going and can play with her toys by herself when she's in a good mood. So if she were an only child I could get something done, but instead I have to make sure David isn't smothering her. I might have mentioned before that I thought David might be kind of doing it to provoke us. So now that we don't repeat "be gentle" a thousand times a day, he doesn't run right over to squeeze her. He does it spontaneously but it's not like the first thing on his agenda. I have caught him rolling her over a few times, though!

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Punch in the Gut

Started this post a month ago or so...

I feel somewhat convicted. I've never much been into political-correctness. Most of the advocating I've done has been for orphans and sometimes I've sided with various movements related to Christian values.

I know a lot of minorities in America have felt "unsafe" lately, and as a white Christian I realize that I don't have much experience with being discriminated against. So I don't even really know what to say! (sidenote: some friends of ours just commented that a swastika was painted on their lawn on Christmas Eve! Devastating...)

(another sidenote: I've never gotten into the politics of holidays in Russia...not sure minorities have even really started to make their voices heard. Western Christmas falls during the Orthodox pre-Christmas fasting period.)

In U.S. culture, I have often appreciated efforts to put the "Christ" back in Christmas. I dislike the mish-mash that the holiday season has morphed into. December/January contains several DIFFERENT holidays, and I like to call them by name. When I was very young, school music programs would still contain selections from various holidays, including Christmas, etc....instead of removing everything except the most secular of songs/traditions.

Anyway, a Jewish acquaintance recently made a comment online, asking people how he should reply when wished a "Merry Christmas." Meaning, how should he keep his feelings under control. While we fight for the right to keep Christ in our holiday greetings, it literally causes others pain (being kicked in the gut was basically how he described it). I hate the word "offended" and I'm usually the one to say that Jesus wouldn't care about offending people. But really I think that boldness is more appopriate when you need to confront some hard truths. Different context.

There's a controversy going on now (that was a month or two ago), related to some Pro-Life ads featuring some people with Down's Syndrome, and that might offend women who've had abortions, or something. Again I think...who cares about offending when the cause (saving babies' lives) is so important? But...sometimes there is a third option that would better protect all involved...and in a good way, not justifying controversial actions. That's what I've been pondering.

As another example, I have never much thought about whether or not I'm offending Muslims. Please don't get me wrong, as it's not like I've been called out for doing something offensive and chosen to just keep on doing it. It's more that I have not examined my own behavior to see how it looks to people in various demographics.

When "it" happens to someone close to you, that's often the point when you change your mind. So the fact that this person on FB was putting himself out there made me stop and think. Maybe when generalizations are made about people groups, I tend to ignore it, but when a person shares about personal experience, that's when I take it seriously. I wonder if it would work for sharing about the causes that are important to me, too. Instead of sharing articles written by someone else, coming out and saying "I'm a  ____ and I feel sad about _____." Maybe those memes and things that are passed around are just too passive-aggressive. What if instead of quoting a Bible verse, I shared about how it makes me feel when my own faith is mocked, or a health condition that affects me is made fun of? And of course it depends on your audience, too!

I want the Gospel message to be heard and not silenced. And if I say Merry Christmas...well, I'm really wishing that to Christians first, and secular Christmas-celebrators second, not really addressing those who DON'T celebrate. BUT I don't want to go around "kicking" people in the gut. Hmmmmm. Makes you think...