Funny Moment of the Day

True story:

Zoe woke us up a few times last night, so this afternoon I went to Starbucks to pick up 2 drinks–one for me and one for David.

I ordered my drink (iced soy latte) and told the cashier, and my husband wants a tall blonde.” [as in blonde roast]

Without skipping a beat, the cashier said “well, your husband should appreciate what he has.  Nothing wrong with a short blonde.” 

Well played, Will at Starbucks.  Well played.

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My Advice for Moms-To-Be

I know a lot of expectant mothers right now and I’m so happy for all of you!! It’s so exciting!!

You all have been asking me questions about products, work maternity plans, newborn sleep, etc.  I am happy to provide insight into my experiences with all of those things, but I thought I would be remiss if I didn’t share my biggest piece of advice to expectant mothers: relax.  make decisions.  Don’t look back.  

It’s so easy to work yourself into a complete tailspin about getting everything right.  There are all these blogs, magazines, podcasts, books, etc. telling you conflicting information and it gets really confusing and preys on your anxieties about wanting to set your baby up right for life.   I had the most anxiety-provoking six weeks of my life waiting for Zoe and wanting to get everything “right!”

But BECAUSE we only had six weeks to prepare for Zoe’s arrival, we got a different perspective. We didn’t have a lot of time to comparison shop and debate all of the different options you can choose for your pregnancy, birth, delivery, and post baby options.  We just talked to a few friends, read a few books, and decided “this, this, and this.”  Some of our options (like our delivery) were already made for us, and so we just said “okay.”  And man, what a blessing!!!

From what I have observed, there is much pressure out there to come up with a strategy for every aspect of pregnancy and parenting from the second you test positive on a pregnancy test—but in the end, what matters is that you have a baby, that you can provide a physically and emotionally safe home, and that you have the basic skills to keep that baby alive.  I am confident that all of you can provide that.

The love and affection you feel for your child (and that they feel for you!) won’t be any deeper because you read 30 books, listened to weekly podcasts, followed holistic midwives on Twitter, researched and carefully registered for all organic baby products, wrote a detailed birth plan and delivered your child accordingly, painted a tree or chevrons on your nursery wall in low-VOC paint a la Pinterest, baby-proofed your home in the second trimester, ate only organic food throughout your pregnancy, attended months of classes, and read mom blogs on a daily basis.

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Pregnant women are under so much pressure to do everything “right.”  And it IS important to get good prenatal care and stay healthy during pregnancy, but really? Keeping your levels of stress and anxiety low is equally important for your baby, your marriage, and yourself.  If you’re following your doctor’s suggestions, your baby is probably going to turn out fine! You’re doing a great job.  Don’t get sucked into the madness!

Yes, you have to get stuff when you have a baby.  But it doesn’t have to be difficult.  Everyone thinks their products/way of doing things is the best, so just find a few people with your budget, lifestyle, and degree of practicality and pick their brain.  Then do what they did.  (I do recommend looking at current safety recommendations since those change a lot…but just be warned that you’re opening a Pandora’s box of fear and anxiety.  Be brief!)

If you’re ENJOYING doing all the comparison shopping and baby research, have fun.  But if you’re reading all these things and freaking out, recognize that you have the power in this situation.  Tell yourself “I could technically get everything I need for my baby in six weeks like Sarah and David did, so I’m not spending nine months stressing about this!” Then make some decisions and move on!

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Parenting isn’t about the gear, the nursery appearance, the birth plan.  It’s about care, nurture, development.  Educate yourself, definitely (books about baby care, sleep, and preparing your marriage for parenting are my recommendations!) but don’t work yourself into a tailspin trying to create a plan—things may be very different than you expected when you actually have your baby, and you will want that flexibility to make decisions then.  Don’t say THIS IS HOW WE ARE DOING THINGS and box yourself in, only to end up having to change your plan after an emotional breakdown and a month of stubborn insanity.

Nurture yourself, too.  Ask friends with kids what they enjoy about parenting and what went well in their delivery.  Get sleep if you can, enjoy being with your significant other (maybe make a “baby bucket list!”) make some extra money if you get the chance and it doesn’t put you out too much, buy a few cute baby outfits just for funsies, and try your hardest to enjoy this time in your life instead of feeling pressured by it.

Oh, and get a Boppy.  (There’s that product recommendation you actually asked for!) 🙂

Readers with kids—do you have any other advice for moms-to-be?

Perspective

God is doing some big things in my life.  And I’m thankful.

Lately, I feel like He has been really impressing upon my heart the importance of talking with, listening to, and appreciating the soul and presence of others, even other people that I don’t know—the bagger at the grocery store, our mail man, the cashier at a store, the customers behind me in line.  I’m being challenged to take that next step of slowing down and engaging with someone else’s heart.

It’s amazing.  And humbling.

I always thought I was a fairly compassionate person who would make time for others, but the reality is that now I’m being asked to engage in ways I haven’t before…which means I had room to grow.

What made me think I was too busy, too important to do this before?

Just 5 minutes ago I had a conversation with my mail man about his mom’s dementia.  He has been delivering my mail (and giving treats to my dog!) for years and yet I never really thought about his life outside of his job.  Why? I now have perspective about some of the things he might be dealing with behind the smile and “have a great day!” I now know how to pray for him.

I had the most encouraging conversation with our bagger at Publix yesterday.  He was in his mid-30s, had some special needs and was bagging groceries like it was the most exciting activity in the world.  As he joyfully packed up my formula and spinach and walked us to our car, he had the sweetest conversation with Zoe, found out all about our family and our dog (“every little girl needs a dog!” he said,) and told me excitedly, “I love making friends! Not everyone wants to talk to me, but I want to be their friend anyway!”

I’m thankful for my new friend.  I’m glad I didn’t miss him.

This isn’t the first time in my life that I’ve awakened to the sacredness of the people around me.

When I worked at a coffee shop during one college summer, I used to open the shop alone every morning.  I’d listen to praise music and pray while I made coffee and watched the sun rise. It was a tiny coffee shop, so I engaged with customers one at a time as they drove through.  I made their drinks efficiently, but I was never in a hurry to get them to leave.  I would talk with them and try to find out what was going on in their lives, and then I’d pray for each customer as they left—whether it was simply “help them to have a good day, Lord” or something more specific based on our conversation. It was one of the best summers of my life because I felt like I really saw people.  I felt like my work mattered, even though it was “just” making coffee, because I was seeing people through His eyes and offering them His smiles—and I hoped, His hope.

Then I started to do work that actually seemed to matter more in our society, and somehow, I bought into the busyness, the stress, the illusion of importance that we like to assign our calendars and to-do-lists.  I still engaged with others as part of my job, and I tried to engage out of work, but I was tired and had a million things to do and gradually, my perspective got duller and blurrier.  I began to see things through my perspective, my judgments, my priorities again.

I’m loving this slower pace, this awakening, this perspective that God is giving me in this new chapter of life.  I want to cling to it.  I want to live in it.  And so I pray for guidance, for wisdom—to make decisions that allow me to stay this connected to God and this disconnected from our societal ideals of “progress,” “what’s meaningful” and “what’s important.”

And I give thanks for His grace in awakening me, once again, to the beauty around me—to what’s really important and meaningful.

“I do not want merely to possess faith; I want a faith that possesses me.”  –Charles Kingsley

Beachin’ It With Zoe

So I’ve been really wanting to share about our vacation, but it’s been difficult to find time.  Since Zoe hit 4 months, she’s been much more demanding than she used to be.  I don’t mean that in a negative sense–she’s very happy and easygoing once I give her what she wants!—but she is a chatty little extrovert who requires constant stimulation and activity.

And apparently, very little sleep.

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Naps are dumb! Let’s party!!

But it’s great.  For the first few months of her life, I took her on one outing per day and we spent the rest of the day at home.  Now I feel like she wants and NEEDS a faster pace of life, which feels great to have again.

For example, yesterday we went to the gym, the grocery store, play group, our house for a few hours (one of my high school girls came over to chat for an hour during that time,) our friend’s house to meet her new baby, and on a neighborhood walk before Zoe went to bed. That may sound like an alarming amount of activity for a baby, but she seems to crave it.

It’s now Sunday (I started writing this post on Wednesday, if that gives you any indication of what I was talking about.) I better share some beach pictures before we get interrupted again!

Our Beach Vacation

Every spring, my family goes to the same beach in Florida for two weeks.  We’ve been going there since I was 9 and it’s one of my favorite places in the world.  For the last few years, I have gone for a long weekend and then hustled back to work–but now, my job is portable, so Zoe and I stayed for two weeks.

Poor David could only stay for one week, so we decided to drive up together and then have Zoe and I fly back.  I got advice from friends on the supplies we’d need (you need more than you’d think,) made a packing list, started shopping/borrowing a few weeks ahead of time, packed myself and Zoe for the trip, and had the car loaded with our baggage the night before.  It was like I was a real, legitimate adult.  Scary.

We soon found that driving 7 hours with a baby has its ups…and really big downs.

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We forgot our misery when we arrived and saw the house we’d be staying in for the next 2 weeks.

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It was a bit over the top.

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These were the crazy cats we went to the beach with (add my husband, my parents, and both of my grandmothers.)

photo3This was Zoe’s reaction: PEOPLE!!!!

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ZZZ. 

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PEOPLE!!!

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WHY DO I HAVE TO STOP TALKING TO THE PEOPLE?!! *thrashes about angrily before crashing in fit of exhaustion*

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Lessons learned: vacation with a baby is not really a vacation—it is work in a new setting. However, it IS time with family and (in this case) time in one of the most gorgeous places in the world.  I loved seeing the beach every morning, walking by the dune lakes, riding my bike on the woodland trails, and drinking wine while watching the sunset every night.  Seriously, give me a beach and my family and I am the happiest person alive.  Not even hyperbole.

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I am so glad we got to go!!

Look for two new posts soon–one sharing my new mom advice and one recapping my thoughts on an interesting lunch date we had recently.  Thanks for reading!

Guessing Game

What do the following items have in common?

Tylenol, sweat, throw up, old beverage, hand sanitizer.  

a) They are all part of a college weekend.

b) They are all necessary for a CrossFit workout.

c) They are all things you’ll see in a MLB stadium.

d) They are all in my hair.

If you guessed “D,” you’re right! I’ve been a little absent lately (we were somewhere fun and I’ll catch you up soon!)  In the meantime, I have 45 minutes to prepare my house for a banquet—because what high school girls’ small group DOESN’T have a Middle Eastern inspired banquet to celebrate the end of the book of Esther?!!