Monday, July 30, 2012

Top Eleven

Top Ten eleven things I am waaay, waaay over right now:

  1. 2 year molars and the accompanying no sleeping, congestion, runny nose and general misery they cause. Also the fact that they are apparently so named because they take 2 friggin years to come in.
  2. The Chick-fil-a story. I'm thinking Syria, the number of kids lingering in foster care or Bloomberg wanting to lock up formula deserve a little air time too.
  3. Summer. It's hot. I'm as huge as our power bill which is freakishly big.
  4. Heartburn and shortness of breath. Yes, yes, I'd go through it 400 times for this baby but it doesn't mean I'm not over it.
  5. Complaints on facebook status updates (not to be confused with complaining on blogs.) Phone a friend, people. Per your profile, you have 2,482 of them.
  6. Summer tv. I anticipate that the best thing about having a fall baby is a dvr full of new episodes just waiting on the 2 am feeding.
  7. Dog hair.
  8. Bed rest.
  9. Mary Kate asking for 'crackers' though nothing remotely resembling a cracker meets the definition of what the heck a cracker is in her toddler brain.
  10. Baby name discussions. Previously one of my all time favorite topics, now a reason to bang my head on a wall.
  11. Cellulite.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday, Saturday edition (again)

--- 1 ---

It's crazy that just over a week of non-blogging can make me scramble for something to write. But it's like exercise, the longer you stop, the harder it is to re-start. Speaking of exercise, I am so so so so ready to start running again. I am aware that after a summer spent solely eating and laying on the couch, plus birthing a presumed BIG baby, it is going to feel like pushing King Kong up Kilimanjaro. I don't care. I have picked out my running shoes and my running skort and I am even ready for the dreaded Publix hill that my friend Nomo uses to torture us. Feel free to link back to this blog when all I talk about in October is lack of sleep and how much I hate running.

--- 2 ---

Wednesday, we buried Vania. Newly allowed out to go to the grocery store or Target, I used my reprieve to attend her funeral. There were so many emotions. From social commentary like why black, poor women in Atlanta are so vulnerable to why an advocate like Vania was taken so soon, my mind wandered throughout the Mass. Tears fell only when one of Vania's biggest cheerleaders and our friend from the Gift of Grace, Maria, spoke about her life. Then I cried soft tears for a world that doesn't get to have this spunky lady in it anymore and for all the people I miss, having met the same end to the same disgusting disease. And then, sitting next to an also teary Sister Brunetta, I did as the sisters inspire me to do everyday. I prayed for the ones we still have. I prayed for Shawn, Antonia, Maria, Tawana, Rhonda, David, Tyler, Jackie and countless others. There's nothing more or better I can do.

--- 3 ---

This week has been full of small mercies that reminded me of all the good in my life. Prone to 7 days worth of a case of the Mondays, I struggle sometimes to keep "an attitude of gratitude." First I ran our car over a large median, the kind that looks like a small plateau to separate two lanes. I got it stuck and couldn't move, blocking traffic into the CVS. Multiple calls to Ross and my MIL went unanswered because they were grilling dinner. After 30 minutes of wondering what to do and listening to the sound of the underside of my car getting torn in two as I tried to move, our Alabama neighbor with an Alabama truck and Alabama tools showed up.  It took him less than a minute to yank my car free, check the underside and assure me that there was nothing leaking and my car would be fine. The very thought of another big expense had me boo-hooing in gratitude. How my car isn't destroyed I'll never know but I do know everyone should have a friend from Alabama.

--- 4 ---

And just to push His point home, God sent another "hey, I'm here. Take a breath, would ya? moment." Yesterday, a box from Omaha steaks arrived at our front door. A full meal of deliciousness inside, I stared at the box. I haven't seen Kimberly since my last recital at Doris Martin school of Dance in 1999. We read each other's blogs and have communicated every once in awhile over the years. I know Kimberly has a beautiful heart but would have never expected her to reach out like this to us. The ways in which friends have blessed our family during this time can't be measured. I feel like a jerk for the times I've whined and complained amidst all this kindness.

--- 5 ---

Reason number infinity to show some danged gratitude came Thursday at the perinatologist. A new doctor, who I shall call Dr. McDreamy, saw me and declared that baby is a big ole 4lbs, 8oz, fluid looks perfect and no signs point to labor in the next two weeks. He suggested 2 more weeks of bed rest to be sure but thinks that after that, we can probably just "take it easy." I can also stop being followed by them and just see my OB. Can I get a Hallelujah please?! At celebratory lunch at Ross's new fav, Del Taco, I told Ross I felt like we'd just been given a silver star sticker. It was affirmation of a job well done for weeks and weeks of fear, life changes and sacrfices by us and our families. Now, when I hold that full-term precious babe in my arms, then we'll take our gold star.

--- 6 ---

Mary Kate is in a way fun stage right now. The upside of toddler-monsterdom is an explosion in speech and conversation. She just came in from a ride on the "tractor" (bike) with Ross and gave me a 5 minute recap on dada and tractor and helmet and "I ride, I ride!" By far my favorite phrase is "I hold you." Oh my gosh does that make all six pre-7am tantrums disappear. Last night we saw our friends  the Johnson's. I got to snuggle 9 month old "Sloaney." Holding her while MK smiled and played with her feet and said her name over and over made me so excited and so thankful that we get another one of these creatures!
--- 7 ---

The last of the grandparent weekly shifts ended yesterday. We still have some help coming in next week but the big guns have left. We are all ready for a sense of normalcy around our home but Ross and I will definitely miss the eagerness that only a grandmother has to get our child out of her crib at the late hour of 6:10 am every day. I have enjoyed very few minutes of bed rest but I have a deeper, renewed appreciation for both our mothers (and our dads who survived without them for weeks at a time.) We could not have managed this far without them and that gold star I expect in September is as much theirs as it is ours. Living with people outside of your normal routine is sanctifying on everyone but I don't think a greater servant's heart exists outside of a mama.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Goodbye, sweet girl

It is 2:28 am. When the phone rang, I knew.
"I am sorry to call you this hour, Keri."
"I am calling to tell you Vania has passed."
Then no words, just sobs from my precious sister-friend.
Vania had been in surgery for almost a day. Sister Brunetta is still at Atlanta medical, almost 24 hours after they arrived.
I wish I were there to comfort this usually stoic woman.
Our loss of Vania is piercing.

This past Sunday, one of the volunteers said "Keri, Vania is very sick. They want to operate on her heart." Tears immediately came, despite pleas from Sister Dominga to not let them, lest she cry before Mass. Too many surgeries of too many patients like Vania had me afraid for her.

Two Sundays ago, Vania was, ever faithful, at Mass. She patted the arm of a recliner, offering me the leather chair next to her. As always, I commented on how beautiful she looked. As always, she said "I know, Keri."

Sunday night I called her in the hospital. "Vania, I know you are faking it just to get attention." She said, "Keri, if you see the doctors here, you fake it too."  Ever the flirt.
"Are you scared, Vania?"
"Why I scared, Keri. I have Jesus. He take care of me."
Good point, precious friend, Good point.

Her story is straight out of Redeeming Love. Born in Haiti, her life was harsh and hard. Her life in the U.S., marked by struggle, abuse, disease.
And then, like so many, she met the sisters.

and they tough-loved her and prayed her right into the path of a new faith.
They gave her a home, a purpose, a family.
And when I entered that blessed fold, she became a part of my heart, too.

She suffered often, due to kidney failure related to AIDS.
But she never, ever despaired.
She worked hard to support herself and to live independently.
Yet, many nights, returned to the Gift of Grace to help, to serve, or just for a piece of home.

Her faith was huge. "Why I scared, Keri?"
Oh dear friend, what a huge hole you leave on this earth.

Eternal rest, grant unto Vania, o Lord
and let perpetual light shine upon her.
May her soul, and all the souls of the faithful departed,
through the mercy of God, Rest in peace.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

new panties (size xxxxxxxxxxxxxL) needed

Things I said to my husband this morning:

Either Julia (my ob) can take me off bed rest this week or she can write me a script for Valium.

I could more easily run a marathon today than I could do another week of bed rest. Seriously. Go get my running shoes. I will prove it.

I. Just. Can't. Do. This. Any.more. (each dot = sobs)

Before this, I could have cared less if things were left undone at the end of the day. (husband laughs or snorts or something). Now I can't stand it because I think it's all my fault that YOUR dog's hair is all over the floor or MK's smocked dress is in the dryer.

I just can't do it anymore. (Yes, again.)

Obviously I am doing a crappy job at getting the crap over myself, as promised from last week. I want to prepare for my baby, to organize and nest. Pregnancy is the only time I EVER get this urge so I want to and I can't and insert lots of whining. I am tired of being told what to do and am fighting like hell against anyone who dare suggest I sit when I happen to stand (consider yourself warned visitors.)

But I read two things today that have been a little bit of the Holy Spirit nudging me toward those big (really big) girl panties I so need.

I have long followed the story of a sorority sister's friend, Katherine, who suffered an brain aneurysm at age 26 with a 6 month old baby. Her mom recently wrote this about some physical problems she herself was having in the midst of her daughter's constant medical challenges.

"I have been here before, in a place of “enforced rest.” To fight against it is frustrating and futile. But it is always a place where much learning happens. I look forward to sharing new lessons-learned-the-hard-way with you when I’m back."

Well, because I'm in a crappy mood, I don't, at this minute, share the sentiment that I look forward to sharing those lessons when this is over. But when the panty fairy finds that XXXXXL pair of Hanes Her Way, I'm sure I'll be back with posts ad nauseum on all I've learned. You're welcome.  That said, please go to Katherine's blog above and pray for that sweet girl. She needs it much more than Mrs. Bad Attitude over here.

And lastly, from the devotional I read when I ran away from home this morning (to a coffee shop where I put my feet up after crying to the owner that I just needed to drink a diet coke alone without worrying I'd deliver my baby. yup. sanity overfloweth.)

"There are days, sweet Jesus, when I feel like everything gets in the way of my plans. I am frustrated and discouraged. Divert my attention from myself, and help me devote myself to sweet meditation. Give me the grace to see your plans where once I only saw the disruption of mine." ~Danielle Bean and Elizabeth Foss.
Here's hoping...

Friday, July 13, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday

--- 1 ---
Last night Ross was vying for husband of the year, hugging me and telling me how brave and strong I've been. I think he might have been doing that thing we do to toddlers where we say "you are soo good at putting away your toys" when they are doing nothing of the sort. Or when we say "you are doing great at eating your broccoli" when they've asked for the 12th piece of bread. We hope that if we put enough positivity in their heads, they'll hear it enough and do it. Nonetheless, he made me feel, for just a minute, that I wasn't totally failing at my job of couch-potato incubator. However, in 'oh so Keri' fashion, I woke up today, having forgotten about all that positive reinforcement and feeling sorry for myself. Then I saw this. I boo-hooed out of happiness for this mama getting a chance to feel beautiful. She had a child with cancer. I have a healthy baby inside of me and am tortured into watching tv and reading blogs all day. Cry me a river. Have some cheese with that wine. Play the violin. Put on some big girl panties and deal. Feel free to add your favorite "get the crap over yourself" saying.

--- 2 ---
The irony in that diatribe is that I'm about to complain now. Faint if you will. When my mom went in to get MK from nap, I walked from my room to set up camp on the sofa and saw MK tell my mom "No!," HIT her, and then sweetly say "up, mama." My mom, in all her wisdom, understood that MK just wanted mama but respected my insistence that my toddler monster apologize. It still hurts. My girl, while surrounded by the very people she prefers just behind mama and daddy, still misses those basic needs being met by me. It is crushing. Now, you should know that when my mom offered to take her to the bounce house place near us, my child wouldn't give me a kiss and simply waved, saying "byyyyye" in her little country voice. I am aware that I am being played a little. Still, I hate that her little world has changed.  It will a damned long time before I complain about taking care of these creatures once I'm off my rear.
--- 3 ---
I find these cards to be about 10% foul to 90% funny but loved this one. I am not 39 but act 49 (okay, 59) so I laughed a lot.

--- 4 ---
I saw the perinatologist again yesterday. Baby is bigger at 3lbs, 8oz. It was crazy coolto be watching on the ultrasound as the baby pushed its big ole head down during a contraction and see the change on the screen. (well, the contraction part was way not cool). It was like watching labor from the inside and made me marvel at modern medicine. To my medical peeps, you are awesome. Now, to keep that little scene from happening too often for another 6 weeks.
--- 5 ---
Two of my oldest friends had healthy babies recently, one on MK's birthday. No matter how many friends have babies, whether their 1st or 5th, the miracle of it all isn't lost on me. I'd give a million dollars to be in Athens right now snuggling little O and bringing his mama a ginormous sweet tea or to be decking out little miss A in some pink in Savannah. It never gets old, this bringing a soul into the world thing. And it makes me pray all the more fervently for my friends who want to be (and SHOULD, do you hear me Jesus, SHOULD) be mamas.
--- 6 ---
Before bed rest, I spent a lot of time wishing for more community in mine and Ross's life. I have wished, and still do, to some extent, for people to live beside, worship beside, raise kids beside and just do life beside. But there hasn't been one week where I haven't had a visitor or two or three stop by with their kids to play with MK and help me pass the time. There hasn't been a week without someone dropping by the extra that their dinner made or a treat for one of us. I'm pretty sure that in some dictionary, that counts as community. So much of this experience has taught me to open my stubborn eyes and really be thankful for what's in front of my face, be that my ability to exercise, to clean a toilet, to comfort an irrational toddler, to help my husband with our home, to do life next to a friend.
--- 7 ---
For a girl who loves to read, I have been surprisingly un-read these last weeks. I have started the following books: Summer Rental (set partly in Savannah with scenes at my home church with a main character named Sullivan?? crazy), Catching Fire, The Egg and I, and Hole in the Gospel. Now, someone tell me to stop reading blogs (easily done while nursing a newborn at 2am with no brain cells) and read for the next few weeks (not easily done with 2 children, one nursing at 2 am having taken all my braincells). Seriously, if you've read any of these, please convince me to dust off the cover. Or even better, feel free to suggest something else to start with hopes of finishing before this time next year.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


And just like that, she is 2. This daughter I was so surprised to get, this daughter I prayed I would some day have, is 2 years old. I am flabbergasted.

I wrote her a sappy little letter for her memory box so I won't get too sentimental here. Suffice it to say, this little human has taught me more in 2 years than I learned in almost 20 years of formal education. Among the most important:
  • that God loves me. FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY I can comprehend that basic tenet of my faith. Because to give me her, to make me a mother to her, means He loves me bigger than I can dare imagine.
  • that I am madly, completely, totally in love with her father. Sure, I have less hair because of him and he makes me cuss a ton some, but at the end of the day, parenting her, with him, makes me gaga in love with him. Becoming parents together has been unifying and edifying. Every day I love him more, as a husband and most certainly as a father.
  • that I am valuable. I labored and gave birth to this person and even with that blessed epidural, believe it to be the most physically demanding thing I've ever accomplished. I am always surprised at my ability to teach her. Whether to say please and thank you or her colors or to say "It's a happy day!," I have the ability to birth and teach and educate a person.
  • that I am teachable. Raising up toddler monsters requires changing the game plan every 30 seconds or so and most days, I find that I can adapt. Learning who she is, what she needs, how she learns and what makes her tick keeps me a student.
  • that I am forgiveable. 9 days out of ten, I suck at parenting, at patience, at consistency, at being intentional. And ten days out of ten, she still wakes up and wants to see mama. All is forgiven (with the help of the ipad, of course.) She gives me grace each day and if her monster-ness can give grace, maybe I can FINALLY FINALLY FINALLY comprehend that God offers the same.
  • that I am in control of nothing. nada. zilch. In the interest of full disclosure, I am still fighting this with everything I have, but am sloowly starting to realize that I don't have control. (I may be teachable but am also pretty slow.)
  • that if I don't humble myself, she will do it for me. All mothers love when their kids are dressed well, coordinating hairbow in place and behaving like angels. All mothers also love to have 4 hour naptimes and a housekeeper/chef fairy godmother. Her job isn't to make me look good (excelling here, MK.) My job is to parent her with as much wisdom and grace and patience as possible in the face of her yelling "nooooo!!!" and throwing herself on the floor in her smocked dress.
  • that I need, like oxygen, a relationship with Jesus and as I'm realizing through this period of bedrest, I need his mother. Trusting that as she parented the savior of the world, loved him, grieved for him, taught him, she is helping me do the same to my girl. Through time spent reflecting on her, I am closer to that little boy she bore. And I can't think of anything I need more whilst raising this little human than the wisdom and love of one who gave her to me.
To my Mary Kate, thank you for teaching your hard-headed mama so much. Thank you for the pure and total joy that you bring every day. Thank you for the explosion of love that exists in mine and dad's heart. Thank you for loving us so wholly. We adore every bit of feisty, energetic, smart, loving, beautiful little you.
actual bday breakfast at our favorite place (who knew there was a girl cow?!) Mommy clearly thought girl cow was more adorable than MK did. She was fine from her seat and did eventually high five the cow but not before trying to run away.
If I had to give a top 5 of her "loves," a slide would definitely be on the list.
To MK, CFA= Elena. She asks for her all the time and loves the special attention this precious lady gives her. Mommy might have preferred an arby's sandwich or other fast food to CFA (well, until the chocolate chunk cookie arrived there), but there's no denying that this is a different kinda place.
a few days before MK's bday. Had to include this pic of MK's bff because this is SOOOO them. Joy with the big idea to remove everything from the dresser and MK happy to abed their crime. Ross said it perfectly. Thelma and Louise.
Thelma and Louise wreaking less havoc

daddy took the day off to celebrate his 2 year old. The whole family together while mommy kisses MK's "baby."
this child LOVES LOVES a "ballooooon"
joint 4th of July/bday celebration. "Heny" helping open her presents.

After a rough weekend, I called the nurse and she asked how compliant I was being on bedrest. From this spot exactly, I told her I'd get back on track promptly. This is what bedrest looks like on your babe's 2nd birthday.
 To all our family and friends who went out of their way to make our girl's birthday special, thank you. She was loved and celebrated and I could not be more grateful to all of you.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Today was (as of 10:37 am) rough. Ross took the day off and after what I made into a ridiculously stressful morning, we said bye to the grandparents and the babe as they made their way to the zoo. I crawled back into bed as R prepared to go mountain bike. He took one look at melodramatic wife and asked what was wrong. He sweetly wiped a tear from my eye as I told him that I felt a pity party of epic proportions coming on and he should probably bolt. After racing to the door, he (intelligently) walked back in and braced himself for the onslaught. Many incoherant thoughts spewed, much whining ensued. And then...then, the nitty gritty.

In between blubbering sobs, I tried to explain what the worst part of this whole situation is. "I am more introverted than I realized," I said. "Having people live in our small home with us is hard." Okay, true. On both accounts. But feeling like some big truth was about to reveal itself, I kept going. "I miss our life. I wanted to do things with MK before the baby comes." He nods, affirming and validating like any other petrified husband.  "I hate who I am in the midst of all of this." B.I.N.G.O.

I have been angry and impatient, unforgiving and unyielding. I have so boldly and selfishly gotten annoyed at the littlest offenses of my new housemates. Yes, I have moments where gratitude overflows in my heart. But sadly, I admit that there are more moments of quiet criticism. I have justified and rationalized every judgement I've made. I have projected my overall pissed-offness at bedrest onto people here who love us.

Spending 99% of my time in these small walls has been like walking around with a gigantic mirror, reflecting back my sin. I have been impatient, slow to give grace, quick to judge and an overall ogre. I shook in tears today at the realization of the vile human I have been, and to people who would throw themselves in front of a bus for my child, people who have dropped their entire lives to come care for the ogre and her toddler-monster baby. Gross. Just gross.

I sat with this realization for a little bit, let the tears of anger at myself and utter remorse flow. And then my husband said that word. GRACE. "His grace covers all of this." There was a difficult time in my life when I could not sit with my sin without thinking that there was no hope, no grace, not for me. During the day, I could interview a child abuser and find a small place of understanding and compassion. But I never believed that this grace stuff covered me too. In one particularly dark day, my friend Chrissie enlightened me by saying that if I didn't think God could forgive MY sins, I didn't believe the nails in Jesus' hands were enough.

Something about that imagery changed my heart. Visualizing the nails, I began to believe that yes, those were for me too. Many years ago, a morning like today would have sent me into days or weeks of dark depression. Today, I sat with the sin. I listened to that Godly husband and trusted His words. I've got plenty of time left on bedrest to grab hold of Jesus' hand and walk a better path, a kinder, gentler, more patient path. With a quiet house now, there are a few tears left, but these are of gratitude. Those nails and that grace let me start anew today and tomorrow and Sunday.

Being forced into a situation where my sin is right in front of my face every minute of the day is waaay not fun. But I don't think it's an accident either.

Monday, July 2, 2012

sweet memories

my almost 2-yr old little girl, using baby brother or sister for a pillow while we watch the 1,000,000th video of the day

this girl loves her puppy more than life

and loves to share her snacks with him

this was my most precious view before Mass Sunday

and by "before," I mean, before she grabbed the popcorn popper and ran through the house while Father attempted to say Mass and "before" Ross tried to take her out of Mass only to be subjected to blood-curdling screams.

A week from today, this dog-loving, "seester" loving, daddy-adoring, tantrum throwing, beautiful girl turns 2. We will celebrate this weekend by me sacrificing my recliner for a hard, Cathedral pew so that MK can be her toddler-self in a church nursery. It will be worth it, trust me.