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...

Monday, December 19, 2016

Advent Season (Whoops, Christmas already)

How is your Advent going, if you celebrate? Or maybe you "observe" Advent but save the celebrating for Christmas? Sometimes I wish we celebrated St. Nicholas or St. Lucia, too!

(Then a week went by after I started this post)

I got out the Christmas decorations in November, and I was glad for that because my enthusiasm soon fizzled out. In order to enjoy them in December, they really need to be put up in November, right? Before things get crazy?

David is almost 4.5 and I keep waiting for the year when he will be "into" Christmas. We got out our Christmas books and dutifully read them every night for a few weeks, but I don't even suggest it anymore. David likes to decline suggestions now with "I don't think so" or "no thank you." And this includes a lot of my arts and crafts or cooking ideas. He's said "I don't think so" to several baking projects recently. I tried making cookies but the dough was too sticky and David plopped a few M&Ms on and called it a day. I gave him free reign over all the ornaments but he didn't even have the heart to hang any. He likes the part where he opens the boxes and discovers the contents (but not putting them back). Maybe I could make that count for something, sometime. Are boys just not into the baking and decorating?

And he doesn't like listening to music.

So...this is the adult side of Christmas (or any holiday), I guess. Doing things that it seems no one appreciates, so that they can look back on it later as a nice memory. I'm not being sarcastic...I'm sure as a child I did my share of complaining and taking everything for granted. And now I miss those days. Of course David is gradually learning bits and pieces of how Jesus came to Earth and walked among us. So it's not like the holiday is ignored.

As usual, I stopped short of getting ALL the decorations out...funny, I remember my own mother doing that. I thought to myself...I'll make myself get them out, and then I'll have to do the work again when I put them away. So there is just a little bit here and there. I love the lights, though. I want to get more of those. Pretty lighting definitely adds a special mood. I lost my Christmas greeting cards that I put up every year. :( I hope they turn up someday. Yes, I hang onto every little scrap of paper from my life.

My MIL is in the hospital! And probably won't be released by Christmas. :( But hopefully for New Year's. Also, Andrei is preaching on Saturday and Sunday at a church retreat, which we're not going to. So that's our Christmas! But I think the "elves" may come up with a bit of holiday magic after all...

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Sophia's Birth Story, Part 3

Part 1

Part 2

My non-stress test was Thursday, and I would be 42 weeks on Monday. The next day (Friday), my sister was trying to make weekend plans with us, as my aunt was visiting her from the west coast. There was the possibility of meeting up at a playground or similar location on Saturday.

I didn't want to commit to anything, and the more I thought about it, the more I doubted I could handle a car ride. Wait a minute...I wasn't feeling well at all!

Other ladies in the birth forums had been feeling terrible for ages. Aching joints, contractions, etc. If I was just starting to feel poorly, it didn't necessarily mean something was happening...

At dinner, I went easy on the garlic aioli, just in case the nausea was going to start like it had with David, right at dinnertime!

I finally had to admit to my mom that I wasn't sure I would make it through the night. With David, the contractions had started at least 48 hours before. So I hated to get my hopes up, but then again, we had to be prepared.

A skunk had sprayed outside. I remembered the same thing when I was in labor the first time, heading out to the car in the middle of the night.

I couldn't even help David brush his teeth. Andrei took over and I retreated to the other room for the night. The contractions were just about 10 minutes apart, all night long. And that brings me to my birth plan...

5 years later

 After my latest  weird dream sequence , I found my mind wandering to an alternate scenario where our church never split up . I did the math...