Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Do You Remember?

Do you remember the last time you rode a roller coaster? Mine must've been junior or senior year of college when I was at Six Flags with some friends. We'd been several times over the years, but for some reason that last visit just wasn't as fun. I remember thinking the roller coasters were unpleasant instead of adventurous. Kind of bone-jarring and nauseating. I thought to myself, huh, I must be growing up. That's not to say I wouldn't hop on one again just to make sure, but I'm not really chomping at the bit to do so, either.

Our friend Andrew posted a Bill Watterson quote on Facebook tonight that seemed to perfectly summarize my thoughts as I slipped into the contemplative reverie many of us find ourselves in this time of year: "The truth is, most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive. At that time, we turn around and say, yes, this is obviously where I was going all along."

Of course, I won't pretend to sit here on New Year's Eve thinking that I've actually arrived. Do we ever arrive? My limited experience with adulthood says no. But for the first time in a long time, my thoughts have slowed down enough for me to look back and see that so far, it all needed to happen like this. I don't mean to be morbidly vague, but coming to the end of yourself is quite possibly the best thing you can ever hope for. Only then can you glimpse how big God is.

Last year I was all, good riddance 2012. This year, I would like to think that I'm wholeheartedly grateful for 2013. The dark, dark spring allowed the sun to shine so much brighter in the summer when I was ready to let it in.

I feel like the last 3 years  no, four yearsor five? okay maybe the last six years have been one massive roller coaster. I graduated from college in 2007 with bright eyes and high hopes, as one should! I saw all the freedoms of adulthood laid out before me and had no grasp of the responsibility it takes to build an intentional life. I mean, I knew how to manage my money and balance my checkbook (thanks Dad!). But there was no deeper concept that maybe adulthood is harder than it looks when you're a kid. I feel like this is fairly common. Quarter-life crises abound when reality starts to hit, right?

Anyway, I stepped off that stage, diploma in hand, and unwittingly stepped onto the crazy roller coaster of young adulthood.

I don't mean to stretch an analogy too far, but if you've been on this roller coaster surely you can empathize. At first, it's exciting! After all, the unknown stretching out before you is full of possibilities. There's a bit of an uphill climb, but that's to be expected as you start your career! Then at some point, your feet fall out from under you. Maybe it scares you, maybe it thrills you, maybe you're too busy worrying about how you look to notice how fast and far you fell. The roller coaster picks up speed, but that's life! You're busy. You're living life to the fullest or something like that.

As the roller coaster continues to accelerate rapidly, maybe you start to loose your breath. The turns are steeper and the climbs and subsequent drops become more and more frequent. Your stomach is constantly in your throat. Your teeth are rattling. Maybe you're still riding high on adrenaline, or maybe you start to get scared. You can't see where you're going anymore. You're terrified of what loops and twists and turns lay ahead. You realize you can't do anything to make this roller coaster stop. You think you'd rather be anywhere but here. You knuckles are white. Maybe you're screaming, maybe you're mute.

Suddenly, before you have time to think about what's happening, you grind to a halt. The machine throws your safety harness off and you're expected to test your sea legs on the hollow wooden platform. Is the platform shaking, or are you? Once you catch your breath, you step back and look at the behemoth before you with respect and a whole new appreciation for what just happened. Also maybe with gratitude because it's a little bit ridiculous that you're somehow still intact.

This is how I'm feeling on the cusp of a brand new year. I have a deep appreciation for where I've been, and I wouldn't change a thing. I feel like I've stepped off of one roller coaster long enough for the dust to settle-- finally! But I'm not so naive now. I know entirely new adventures await. Thankfully, 2013 taught me that the safety belt of God's peace will help a whole lot more than my own conniving plans to stop the roller coaster or somehow direct its course. Because sometimes you can't stop it. You just have to hold on for dear life, or let Someone hold onto you.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Year in Review

A friend recently asked me what the best and worst moments of 2013 were, and as I thought back it was truly hard to believe the incredible amount of change that has occurred in the past 365 days.

Here's a really brief summary of my year:

8... months of accutane

5... years of marriage

5... countries visited (US, Canada, Haiti, Slovenia, Croatia. My first real mission trip and my first trip to Europe in the same year! I never would've seen that coming.)

4... distinct seasons of life conveniently marked by the seasons of the year (a dark winter, a testing spring, a leap of faith and lessons in rest and trust this summer, and relief and abundance this fall)

3... number of new jobs I've had in the past year 

3... number of oceans I visited! (Pacific, Atlantic, and Adriatic Sea. Amazing.)

2... Gospel Communities

2... times we drove to DFW, effectively doubling the number of times we've visited since moving 4 years ago. Miss that place!

1... blog redesign. Click over to check it out! (Credit to Jessi from Naptime Diaries for working so patiently with me.)

1... graduate school class. Yikes. (Halfway done, but in a holding pattern right now.)

1.... precious baby on its way!

Here's another summary via my Instagram pictures!  To avoid confusion, keep in mind the video starts with this December and moves backward, ending last January. Whew! What a year.

Friday, December 27, 2013

15 Weeks and 16 Weeks

15 Weeks 

Wait. Am I really 15 weeks pregnant? The last 5 weeks have gone much quicker than I expected! The first 10 weeks crawled and now... am I actually losing count already?!

This week for the first time, I went to put on my skinny jeans and they were tighter in the waist than in the legs! I mean, I've gained and lost weight in general since I bought these jeans, so they've certainly been tight before, but not like this. This time, I legitimately noticed a difference in the level of difficulty it took to button them in the first place. (Remember this post? I've still been wearing my skinny jeans about once a week, since they're my nicest pair. I just haven't washed them in a while, so they're much more forgiving now!)

My fundal height is rapidly approaching my belly button already and I feel like I went from looking and feeling normal to looking and feeling pregnant overnight. Two co-workers commented on my belly out of the blue this week. And I was in scrubs, which tend to be forgiving! (Of course, they were fitted scrubs and it was the day after I'd eaten an entire pizza by myself the night before, so I did have mixed feelings about those comments.) That was also the day I stepped on the scale and noticed I'd gain 1.5 pounds in a week. Oops. It's hard to figure out how much to eat when I'm always legitimately hungry!

Also, bending over is starting to become difficult. I drop stuff a lot (My natural clumsiness and absent-mindedness seem to increase by the day. It's terrifying.) so I'm constantly bending over to pick something up but suddenly, it's harder. I can't bend with the same range of motion. My stomach is just... in the way. Yes, I'm aware that I will look back at that statement in 20 weeks and laugh.

Craving of the week: Sushiiiii. And cheese? But not together. Gross.

Aversion of the week: Lulu's Thai food. I'm finally sick of it after eating it constantly in the first trimester! Also blue cheese. For some reason I keep thinking of it and gagging even though I haven't been near it since Thanksgiving (although that was not a good experience).

Symptom of the Week: FATIGUE. Nausea was the name of the game in the first trimester, but fatigue seems to have come out of nowhere the last few weeks. I'm ready for bed by 8pm every night.

16 Weeks 

This week was Christmas, so it went by in quite a whirlwind! I worked Saturday night and we drove to Omaha bright and early Sunday morning in less than ideal weather. By the time we went to bed Sunday night I had more or less been awake for 40 hours? In hindsight that made me really sensitive and emotional all week! Most of my thoughts should probably stay off the interwebs, but I'll say that this week was definitely a struggle in the emotional realm.

My belly seemed to grow massively this week, but I also ate lots of yummy holiday foods. I thought maybe there would be less guilt with holiday indulgences during pregnancy, but there was actually more considering this was the week I finally officially gave up on normal jeans quite abruptly (like, we had to make an unplanned shopping trip for maternity jeans while we were out of town). The food baby vs. real baby battle has been waging in my head and resurrecting some old eating disorder demons. I'm looking forward to looking a little more pregnant and a little less like I ate too many cookies, I guess.

Although don't get me wrong... it's awesome that things are moving in the right direction! It's just weird to have such a rapidly changing body. I'm not sure how anyone could actually be prepared for it the first time.

Cravings: I was hardly ever hungry this week, but everything tasted good. My mom made some really great meat on the 23rd, and I housed an entire take out order of pad thai on the 24th, so I guess I liked those enough ;-) Glad my nausea is gone!

Aversions: Occasionally something doesn't sound appealing in the moment, but even coffee is starting to smell good again so hopefully I'm over the worst of it.

Symptoms: The last few weeks I've been getting random pulling twinges in my abdomen and lower back. Round ligament pain? Something's definitely changing in there but it's not really painful or inconvenient, although I can also feel my main abdominal muscles start to stretch and that's a bit weird. Otherwise just same old tired. I blame ridiculous night shifts without naps more than the baby, though.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas from the 3 of Us

We celebrated in Omaha this year and had some good family time and good food. Hope you did, too!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th has become a holiday of sorts for Ross and I. Not because we love Halloween and creepy things and bad luck, but because it's been such a significant date for us in the past few years.

Friday April 13, 2012 was quite possibly the worst day of my life. It was the day I learned the truth about our marriage.

Friday July 13, 2012 was the day we renewed our vows after separation, counseling, and much divine intervention.

Ever since then, we've tried to celebrate Friday the 13th with a fun night out. Anniversaries have not been historically good for us (this year was the definite exception to the rule). Nor has Valentine's Day or other big holidays. Too much pressure, leading to dashed expectations.

But Friday the 13th? It's random. It usually sneaks up on us. It often comes around more than once a year. And it's fun for us.

This past Friday December 13, we got a great discount deal on the Nutcracker ballet and took a little staycation. Friday we braved the freezing rain and grabbed sushi at Nara. Yummmm. We had a gluten-free"Mostess" cupcake from Mud Pie for dessert.

Saturday, we slept in and then went to the Nutcracker. It was my first real event in the Kauffman Center, and it was awesome!

It was great to have unlimited time to talk and just hang out with each other without normal life distractions. And Ross got to go to the ballet for the first time! I felt lousy and didn't want to be photographed, but now I do wish we'd gotten a better picture of us to commemorate the occasion.

The next Friday the 13th... is our baby's due date. How awesome is that?! We couldn't have planned it if we tried. It would be really cool if this baby decided to be among the 5% of babies who are actually born on their due date, right?

Friday, December 13, 2013

14 Weeks: An Ode to My Husband After the First Trimester

Dear Ross,

Thank you for adjusting. You love making breakfast on the weekends and you've gracefully moved from fancy omlettes to smoothies to plain old eggs as my stomach sees fit these past few months.

Thank you for throwing away leftovers hidden in the back of the fridge that have gone bad because I didn't want to risk smelling them and feeling sick.

Thank you for eating the same meals on repeat for the first trimester when my stomach could only handle a few things (so many scrambled eggs).

Thank you for baking me muffins after night shift.

Thank you for eating Lulu's takeout every other week (I try to spread it out) because that's obviously what I'm craving most frequently.

(Also, I think my love language is food???)

Thank you for not getting frustrated when my 4am bathroom trips and snack breaks wake you up.

Thank you for answering all the iterations of "do I look bigger" over and over again. And for answering correctly! (Do my arms look bigger? "No." Does my stomach look bigger? "You can see a little bump sometimes!" Does my butt look bigger? "No.")

Thank you for getting so excited about ultrasounds and belly pooch. It gives me the freedom to be a little more excited and a little less anxious.

But thank you for also listening when the anxiety overflows and spills out into tears.

Thank you for wanting to start a family and take this risk with me even though we have no clue what we've gotten ourselves into.

I can't wait to see you grow into a father!


P.S. This week...

Baby is the size of: a lemon! (or, according to the "real life" picture on my Hello Baby app, it's basically the size of my iPhone screen)

Cravings: Chocolate pudding? Don't know where that came from, but I got some almond milk pudding at Whole Foods that made me pretty happy! Also craving sushi... especially my favorite roll from a restaurant in Ft. Worth!

Aversions: Coffee still doesn't sound great. But chocolate is now OFF the aversion list! Most vegetables are inching their way out of gag-worthy status, too. My goal next week is to eat more veggies.

Symptoms: Fatigue. I had more nausea than fatigue during the first trimester, but it's getting to me now. It could also be the weather. I was having hip pain earlier in the week, but I started sleeping with more pillows and that seems to help. Finally, I got shingles again. Thankfully, I'm familiar with this little painful rash by now and I jumped on it. Starting meds 3 hours after the rash appears helps shorten the course of the rash immensely!

Monday, December 9, 2013

How to Stop a Pity Party

1. READ the Word. Truth is the best thing to re-route your thoughts.

2. JOURNAL all of those thoughts. Sort them out. And then act on them accordingly, or let them go if necessary.

3. Find a TASK with a clear beginning and end and accomplish it (Ross probably wishes I'd sort a pile of papers, but going for a run worked for me).

4. BAKE a childhood comfort food.

Here's the gluten-free version of the best Oatmeal Muffins my mom made growing up:

1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour (I used Namaste brand, but King Arthur Flour has a good one, too)
1/3 cup powdered sugar
3/4 cup gluten-free rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 beaten egg
3/4 cup unsweetened, unflavored almond milk (or milk of choice)
1/4 cup cooking oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and prepare muffin tin. In a medium bowl combine flour, sugar, oats, baking powder, and salt. In a small bowl combine egg, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture all at once to the flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Batter will be lumpy. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full. Bake at 400 for 18-20 minutes. Cool in muffin cups on a wire rack for 5 minutes and then remove from muffin tin and serve warm.

Preferably with butter and grandma's strawberry jam on top.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Prepare Him Room

I know people don't usually give things up for Advent, but I had a few days off earlier this week and I found myself glued to my phone at one point, toggling between facebook, blogs, and Instagram. Perhaps looking for interaction without having to leave the toasty warm, but empty, apartment? Whatever it was, I realized then and there that this isn't how I want to spend my time. Especially during Advent.

(thanks for the prints, Jami!)

Christmas is approaching so quickly. Am I actually preparing room for Jesus in my life, or am I filling my down time with more stuff? Obviously, my answer has been the latter. In a season of watchful anticipation that's taken on a whole new meaning as we wait for a babe of our own, I want to re-focus and recollect. I want to enjoy peace and quiet while I still have it. I want to celebrate with my family. I want to learn how to rest and be patient.

So I signed off Instagram and Facebook for the rest of Advent and I'm amazed how often I picked up my phone yesterday and idly scrolled over, only to realize Instagram wasn't there. This is going to be good for me.

In very stark contrast with last year when I was too busy to practically breathe, I'm discouraged with the amount of downtime I have right now (my PRN job keeps cancelling me because their census is so low, which is really stressful financially). Yes, I'm looking for other PRN jobs, but in the end all I can do is wait expectantly. I can wait, knowing God has a plan. Maybe part of this plan is learning to embrace the rest and the quiet while it lasts. To gather strength and patience for the days ahead.

The night I deleted Instagram from my phone, I also read this from Charles Spurgeon's Morning and Evening devotional: "...we wait, by which we learn that we are not to be petulant, like Jonah or Elijah when they said, 'Let me die'; nor are we to whimper and sigh for the end of life because we are tired of work or wish to escape from our present sufferings till the will of the Lord is done. We are to groan for glorification, but we are to wait patiently for it, knowing that what the Lord appoints is best. Waiting implies being ready. We are to stand at the door expecting the Beloved to open it and take us away to Himself."

What are you doing as you wait in joyful expectation for God's ultimate rescue plan?  (Why yes, we're been reading the Jesus Storybook Bible every night this Advent. Why do you ask? If you haven't read it, you should. If you have, you'll know that Jesus is often alluded to as God's rescue plan to save His wayward children.)

13 Weeks: Alien Invasion

Sometimes it feels like my body has been invaded by aliens. I'm not even talking about the weirdness of having a tiny little person existing inside of me! All these hormonal changes are truly wild.

Best I can figure, pregnancy is like going through puberty again at warp speed. All sorts of things are growing in new places, and growing bigger in other places. My moods are all over the place. Body image is perpetually confused. Tempers are short. Everything (good and bad) makes me tear up. Hunger can overtake me out of nowhere.

Other things... just change. Like tastebuds. I feel like a totally different person sometimes. Here we are in the midst of winter squash season, something I usually embrace. Yet the though of eating cooked squash right now makes me gag a little. Instead, I want things like cucumber and onion salad, sushi, green smoothies, cold cereal... things I rarely crave even in the warmest months since I'm so cold-natured! It's weird.

Also, sometimes I cannot drink enough water.

Other times, I wake up feeling completely drugged, like someone slipped me some Valium in my sleep and I'm still hazy when I get up. My grandma Ginny empathized with me over this fatigue at Thanksgiving. It was so fun hearing her talk about being pregnant all those years ago!

I'm not the world's greatest sleeper, but getting up at 4am and being unable to fall back asleep is also something new that's getting old really fast.

You would think some caffeine could fix that. I love good black coffee, but right now even the smell of coffee makes me turn up my nose. My Grandma Schekirke empathized with me on this one-- she's a coffee fanatic. Except when she was pregnant back in the day.

I don't have a bump yet, but my belly button is suddenly much shallower and tighter? It's weird. I'm not used to seeing the bottom of my belly button.

Also, I'm generally a clumsy person but lately I drop everything! It's like my hands just don't work half the time.

Basically, this baby is already starting to change everything and I love it... most of the time.

Thankfully, one thing has been conspicuously absent the past two days-- nausea!!! I'm practically euphoric that I don't feel like vomiting every waking moment. I still have some food aversions, and nausea does still sneak up on me from time to time, but it's a night and day difference from last week. I feel like myself again in some ways!

With this week behind me, just like that, I'm out of the first trimester. This pregnancy thing is starting to seem a lot more real (and not like one long bout of the stomach flu). I'm getting really excited to meet whoever is growing in there. He or she is already the size of a small peach this week!