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Settling

I took an unintentional 3.5 month hiatus from blogging and quite a bit has changed since I last posted, like, let’s see: our home, the weather, the number of people in our family, the overall shape of my body, amount of sunlight in each day. . . I have lots of thoughts, pictures, news, and on and on to share, but for now, here are some highlights:

April 1-we moved from 107 to 101 Reykjavik, to an awesome flat facing the Tjorn in the center of town.  It was nice being next to Laugardalur park, but I’m much happier downtown where I don’t have to take the bus to get anywhere.

April-May, sometime–it stopped getting dark, at all, ever.

May 7th–Baby girl enters the world!!  I really look forward to sharing her insane birth story and a few precious pictures in an upcoming post:)

May 8-June 2–first our friend Kara visits, then my mom, then my sister!  Several fun day trips with everyone to other fantastically beautiful parts of this country

June–settling into life with two kids, fortunately with the help of some gorgeous weather!  Lots of time spent at the playground, in the kitchen, at playgroups, and the library.

Projects finished since March 13–Everett’s sweater (ALMOST in time for Easter), E’s Easter basket (now toy storage), easter garlands and letters for friends back home, E’s overalls, knit baby blanket, tiny baby sweater and matching hat, tote bag for a friend’s birthday, fathers’ day present.

In other news: a new addiction to Pinterest (something easily explored one-handed and while nursing or bouncing a fussy baby) has led to a growing project list and several yummy kitchen experiments.

Pictures and links to all patterns, tutorials, and recipes forthcoming!

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Posted by on June 28, 2012 in At Home, My Projects, Travel

 

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Transient once again. . .or still

Yep, as many of you know already, because you know me, we have left St. Louis once again and are living in Iceland for the next 5 1/2 months.  We only just found out we’d be coming a week before Christmas, so in the scramble to get everything sorted out we actually left our house several weeks ago so a renter could move in and have spent the time in between at a weekly rental with Eric’s parents, a friends’ house, and my parents house.  We finally flew out of Nashville on Tuesday and arrived in Reykjavik on Thursday morning, local time.  But in truth, our state of transience never really seemed to go away, even after we returned to the U.S. back in August.   So much has been in flux or in a less-than-certain mode that truly settling in never happened.  You see, the possibility that we might get to come to Iceland this semester always existed, and as a result (this just dawned on us the other day), Eric and I both felt frustrated and overwhelmed by the present and completely unable to settle into anything–not our house, not a routine, not any kind of contentment–throughout the fall.  For me this took the form of hating my house, which seemed to never ever get clean or organized; going mad with the sense that my very active and mobile child was stealing all of my identity by monopolizing my time and energy (and messing up the house), and the inability to commit to certain activities in case I had to leave them.  I also found out in September that I’m expecting again, so first-trimester discomfort and lack of energy, combined with several bouts of illness in the house, turned me into a whimpering little girl on several occasions.

And yet, it finally crystalized in my heart as the plane took off the other day, that all of this fostered in me a dependence on others like I have never ever experienced in my life (or at least as an adult).  Up to this point, even after Everett was born, I had a fierce sense of independence and self-reliance; a determination to make it on my own and basically, to do whatever I wanted.  Marriage changed this a little bit, but having a toddler (as opposed to a complacent, portable baby) changed it completely!  With Eric using our only car 2-3 days out of the week, being alone with this adorable, crazy, into-everything little boy was breaking me down.  Community, human contact, and conversation went from being things I loved and enjoyed to things I could not live without.  And I had to surrender my notions of being a perfect, “got-it-all-together” kind of mom and do things like drop my kid off with friends at the last minute b/c I forgot about an appointment, let a friend come over and help me clean up because the task felt insurmountable, invite myself and my toddler over for a play date and gladly accept if a dinner invitation happened to follow.  So even though I never really felt like I settled back in at our home in St. Louis, it was extra hard to leave this time around.  It felt like much more than leaving a place and rather like leaving a version of myself in which I had grown comfortably reliant on others to remind me of who I am and where my limitations lie.

Watching the snow fall, which it did on and off all day yesterday, from the giant picture window in our current living room

So now a task is before us–find community in this strange place.  I’m already intimidated by the language barrier and the fact that our apartment is located in a part of town which which I am unfamiliar.  But I am still relying on my husband and everyone at home to stay in touch, pray for us, and let me be sad and lonely sometimes.

 
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Posted by on February 17, 2012 in At Home, Travel, Writings

 

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Belated 1st Birthday

So I confess, life back in St. Louis hardly seems blog-worthy these days.  Eric teaches two days a week, during which he has our only car, and keeps a pretty rigorous research and writing schedule the other three-to-four days, so mostly I hang out with Everett, try to keep the place liveable amongst a mess of stuff that has been displaced from the lowest shelves, and try to find things to keep both of us occupied, inside or outside the house.  This does not often include world-class museums, monuments, or even shopping that is not necessary for survival.  And it rarely leaves time anymore for creative endeavors.  Eric’s mom was visiting us for awhile back in September, which gave me some extra time, and planning and preparing for Everett’s first birthday party–which we held a week and a half after his actual birthday–has been my main creative outlet recently.  I thought it would be fun to have a travel-themed party, given the fact that Everett spent more of his first year outside of the U.S. than here, so we had some travel themed activities, favors, and food from each country we visited.  Both sets of grandparents were here, as well as my brother, and we had an absolutely perfect day for the outdoor affair.  I think it was a total success!

Little sketchbooks made to look like passports ("PASSPORT" is stamped in gold on them but it was pretty hard to see), along with stickers that looked like passport stamps

Our favor boxes, meant to look kinda like suitcases, with some luggage tags made from leftover oilcloth scraps--tutorial anyone? They were super easy to make! Inside were European candies (from World Market) and space for their activities like. . .

these little wooden airplanes from Oriental Trading Co., easily "painted" with crayola markers!

Some decor--simple flags cut from an old U.S. road atlas and sewn together at the top--also super easy!

The cake--maple walnut with maple cream cheese icing--to represent Canada (along with the moose finger-puppet-turned-cake-topper)

The birthday boy with his first taste of cake

Our earliest guests enjoying themselves--eventually the backyard was full of toddlers and older sibblings and parents and it was fantastic!

Unfortunately I didn’t get any good pictures of the food table, I was too busy trying to get the food finished and out and keeping cool or warm!  But we had dutch pannekoeken (pancakes, a lot like crepes) with nutella and other spreads, scones with jam and cream mini steak and ale pies, chips (fries) with malt vinegar (English style) and mayonaise (Dutch style), salad with our favorite L’Abri recipe dressing, and Icelandic skyr (yogurt) that I managed to find at Whole Foods.

Everett opened presents with just family after everyone else had left, at which point he was totally overwhelmed and a bit glassy-eyed so the pictures are more amusing than adorable, but he got lots of good stuff, and we are grateful for lots of new toys to keep him occupied (we had painfully few after all the traveling!)

I am hoping to participate in a couple of craft shows coming up, and I also want to add a few things to my currently inactive etsy shop, so keep an eye out for a possible giveaway as I attempt to draw more attention to myself:)

 
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Posted by on October 25, 2011 in Fun with Everett, My Projects

 

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Addendum to Birth section of 6 Months: Reflection

I remembered that there was something else I’ve been wanting to share for awhile about Everett’s birth and just forgot to pop it in my post from yesterday. It’s something I put in a letter to a friend who gave birth in December; as is often the case, I find writing letters to be one of the most thought-clarifying activities ever, and this was no exception:

“While I try not to be too arrogant about having an all-natural birth, I think it is something to be commended in our world today.* When B— came to see us just a few hours after Everett was born, she gave me a hug and said, “I’m so proud of you!” and that was probably the best thing I heard all day. That being said, I also feel that it’s tremendously humbling, and as crazy hard as it was, an honor to have experienced it. I’ve had many conversations with my doula about it and we agree that the experience of labor really sets the stage for parenthood in all its wildness and beauty, and I feel as if it is a very visceral and physical manifestation of what God requires of us every day: a complete surrender of control to allow His beautifully designed creation to do it’s wonderful work, to bear that otherworldly pain through prayer and meditation and reliance upon our community, and to faithfully receive into our arms a new life and the humbling honor of being called to parent. I also feel that on a very basic level my perspective on my own body and pain has completely changed for the better. While they had their own life-changing experience, I almost feel sorry for our husbands that they will never get to experience what we have!”

*please please please don’t read any judgment into the way I speak about so called all-natural childbirth. I firmly believe that our bodies are good at telling us what they need, and that sometimes what they need is some relief from distracting pain and exhaustion to get a job done, sometimes they need help from a surgical procedure, and sometimes they just need to be left alone.  I am grateful for my experience, but like I said yesterday, everyone’s is different and uniquely special.

This same friend (who did give me full permission to publish this, just fyi) just sent me her amazing birth story, written as a letter to her little boy, which of course gave me all kinds of ideas and reminded me of all kinds of things that I want to go back and change in mine!  Ah well, perhaps I will keep adapting it, perhaps my perspective on it will continually change, and maybe new things will pop into my memory over and over.  I also hope to get Eric to write it from his point of view; I didn’t want to speak for him in my writing but I know he has a lot to say about the experience!

 
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Posted by on March 22, 2011 in Fun with Everett

 

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6 Months: Reflections

All smiles!

Today my little guy hit his 6-month-birthday.  Part of me is tempted to think, “where did the time go?” but to be honest, I feel like the last half-year has been a perfect blend of whizzing by and slowly passing, full of adventure, tricky challenges, and perfectly quiet lovely moments.  I broke down a few of my thoughts into three little nuggets to avoid gushing on and on about the whole of my life since September.

Birth
Everyone feels differently about their labor and delivery experience, but if asked, all the advice I have for those anticipating the birth of their first child can be summed up in just a few sentences: Of course it’s wonderful and miraculous and all the rest of it, but I will not lie to you–do not believe anyone who tells you it won’t hurt–they don’t know your body, every labor experience is different, and the truth is that the pain can be shocking in it’s strangeness and its intensity.  BUT, you can do it, and in the words of my amazing doula, “time is just a thing,” and it will pass, and labor will at some point be over, and you will be confronted with the most amazing overwhelming little being when it is.  Secondly, and along the same lines, prepare to be unprepared, no matter how many books you’ve read or how many classes you’ve taken.  The experience is out of this world, and I suspect this applies to labor and delivery as well as the next 18+ years.  (Everett’s full birth story from my perspective available to download here, if you really want all the details.  Warning: it’s kinda long b/c I tried to recall all the details I could)

Brand new baby Everett

Parenthood
The first thought that both Eric and I had when we saw Everett’s funny-shaped little head was, “who ARE you?!”  It hit us in that moment that we did not know him yet; he’s not a mini-Emily or a mini-Eric, he is a whole separate person.  Whoa.  This was not in any way a negative realization.  Rather it filled me with an overwhelming sense of  respect for this tiny being–for his life, for every need that he has, for the person he was at birth and the person he’s going to become under our watch.  Respect was not a sensation I expected to feel for a baby, any baby, and it was a pleasant surprise.  Close on the heels of Respect came a humbling sense of honor that I get to be this little being’s mother, the one who gets to be with him through so much growth and development, experience new life with him, and hopefully help him out a little along the way.  What an amazing privilege, like receiving the most sought-after commission from my high commander. I hope and pray Eric and I can hold onto these sensations into toddler tantrums, childhood sass, teenage attitude, and whatever else might come our way.

Grace
The other night I went into Everett’s room where he was sleeping soundly and felt so special that it was my right and privilege to be able pick him up and hold him and kiss him just because I wanted to, because I love him, because I love the feeling of his warm skin and limp relaxed body when he’sasleep, and because he’s mine.  Then a rush of grief seized me as I suddenly thought of all the mothers around the world who have mourned, and are mourning, their babies lost to

My Sweet Family

earthquakes and tsunamis, cyclones, hurricanes, and fires; illness, famine, starvation; war, even American missiles, insurgent attacks, suicide bombs, nuclear meltdown; cancer, leukemia, genetic defects, famine; freak accidents, vindictive psychotic ex-husbands, car wrecks.  I held Everett and wept, praying, and praising God that my baby is healthy, safe, and close to me at all times.

Family
I maintain that Eric and I became a family the day we got married, 2 1/2 years before we found out Everett was on his way, but his addition and his steady growth from single cell to 6-month-old has resulted and is beautifully tangled up in steady growth for all three of us together.  His milestones may be more obvious but there can be no doubt that Eric and I have grown as individuals, in our marriage, and of course as parents.  I don’t mean to gush too much, but it really is fun to sit back and reflect on how miraculous this whole family infrastructure truly is.

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in At Home, Fun with Everett

 

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