Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Some days...

You know, there is a reason women like going to work. Work feels productive. When I was teaching, there were lovely measurable results pretty much every day. The kids learned ten more measures of a new song. Or I got a pile of papers graded and returned, never to look at them again. Or a fundraising letter was written and sent out. There were always things on my list, but they got crossed off and when they were crossed off they were really crossed off.

Motherhood and homemaking just isn’t like that. I’ve been up for six hours now. They’ve been a remarkably busy and “productive” six hours. But every single thing that I’ve crossed off my list will simply be written down on it again tomorrow. I’ve made breakfast, taken a shower (yes, it has to be on my list or it may not happen!), washed the dishes, emptied the dishwasher, picked up the family room, taken out the trash, made dinner, washed the dishes again, nursed Jonathan twice, fed solids for breakfast, played tickle games and read books and listened to music with him, started the first of at least three loads of laundry that must be done today.

All good and necessary things – all part of my life now. And most of the time I can be content and satisfied in the comfort of such a routine. I guess it just gets to me, occasionally: does it really matter that I’ve done the dishes for the 25th time this week? Does it matter that the laundry is started again, two days since the last time and knowing that I’ll be doing it again on Friday? Does it matter that I’ve read “Where is the Duck” to Jonathan for the umpteenth time?

Now that I’ve written it out, I think I may have just convinced myself that it does. :)

I’m glad that dishes are done because I like looking at a clean kitchen sink. I really don’t want to send Gabe to work in dirty clothes, or pay for disposable diapers, so I’m glad I started the laundry. I hope that Jonathan will enjoy books as much as Gabe and I do, so I’m glad that I read “Where is the Duck” again. And I do care that my family has healthy food to eat, so I’m glad I took the time to make dinner for us and smashed pumpkin for Jonathan.

If I was working, too, I’d probably go mad trying to do dishes, meals, reading, pick up, play, and (ha!) showers on top of the eight hour day.

Why is it so hard to remember this, some days?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Pulling up!

Yup, folks, he's done it! Jonathan pulled himself to a standing position this morning - not once but twice! Gabe and I watched and applauded. :)

It's funny how inordinately proud we are of our kidling. I mean, every baby figures this out eventually, but OUR baby is obviously brilliant to figure it out, right? :)


Friday, December 16, 2005

New phase

In the past week or so, Jonathan suddenly became really fun to play with. Before I enjoyed taking care of him, and we'd "play" learning games and such, but all of a sudden he's just fun. I find that I spend much of my day sitting on the floor with him - reading, rolling balls, playing peek-a-boo, clapping hands, watching him discover his world, and letting him use me as his personal jungle gym. We have such a great time I find I don't want to do my chores!

I think that's a pretty good place to be, as a SAHM. I'm glad that God has blessed me with Jonathan, and with a content spirit so that I can enjoy him.

Help, please?

I'm trying to remember a song. Part of it goes like this:

Home from the river they would go
Wibble wobble wibble wobble to and fro
But the ___ _____ duck with the feather on his back
He led the others with a quack quack quack.

Does anyone remember the rest of it? Or what it is called?


Jonathan has decided that he must bonk his head into every large new object he finds. Usually he is careful, and bonks gently - but not always. And he is so grieved when such an interesting object bonks him!

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

So funny!

Watching Jonathan crawl backwards is laugh-out-loud funny. I wish you all could see it!

The flip side of the evening

So the concert was great. Leaving Jonathan to go to the concert was not so great. We left him with Justy, (a high school student at our church) which was nice because I have a lot of confidence in her. She’s one of those sorts of people who acts about three years older than she actually is.

Unfortunately, Jonathan seems to be in a stage of life where Mommy not being within sight (or better yet, arms reach) means the world just came to an end. We left at 4:30pm, and he cried, with one short break to eat some smashed peas, until 6:30pm. That was when he fell asleep. Poor kid! Poor Justy!

So this morning I've been wondering: is part of being a good parent right now accepting that Jonathan doesn't understand that we're coming back, and therefore not going away for long periods of time? Or is this just something that he will learn eventually, if we do it? Gabe and I have a few movies in mind that we'd like to go see, and a friend has even offered to babysit so that we can...but now I'm wondering if it's fair to Jonathan to do so. Thoughts?

An evening out!

Friends of ours from church took us out to a concert last night. It was so much fun – I haven’t been to a “real” concert (i.e. not high schoolers!) since…hmmm…maybe not since college. It was in the Disney concert hall, which really is as cool as they said it was going to be. Their organ is to die for. And the acoustics are such that the small string ensemble just seemed to sparkle with brilliance. It wasn’t as good for the LA Master Chorale, but they are extremely competent and could probably sound good in a tin bucket.

On the program: Bach’s 5th Christmas cantata (yay!), another Christmas cantata by one of his contemporaries, a Jewish composition (current) and a variety of carol arrangements. Really delightful, particularly the Bach. I also especially liked an arrangement of “Lo, How a Rose, Ere Blooming”. The arranger was intelligent enough to realize that you can’t improve on the original, so he didn’t change anything for the first verse. That is, hands down, my very favorite Christmas piece, so I particularly appreciated his choice. The rest of the verses were quite nicely arranged, and I enjoyed them, too, of course!

Now, I just have to comment on the program notes. They were HIDEOUS. I should say that again. Hideous. JAC warned me, but I had to read them for myself. For the rest of you…don’t ever subject yourself to anything by Victoria Looseleaf. Except for a few excerpts, which I am now going to post for your daily dose of laughter (you have to laugh – otherwise you’d just cry or get mad.)

She opened her notes with the lovely assertion that “Were he alive today, his popularity would, no doubt, rival that of Diddy, Bono and the Pope, his image beamed world-wide in media of all stripes: In Times Square, 20 stories high, that famous wiggy silhouette dances joyously with an iPod; he’s also smiling haughtily from the pages of Vogue under the banner, ‘What becomes a legend most.’”

Right. This is drivel, certainly. But it gets worse.

She is talking about J.S. Bach.

Did you know that he is “the original sonic blingmeister”? What is that, anyway?

Ok, it gets better. I mean worse. The next object of her rambling is Buxtehude, a Bach contemporary.

“After all, Buxtehude put in nearly 40 years at St. Mary’s in Lubeck, his musical autonomy a model for careers of later Baroque masters, including George Frideric Handel, with parallels today in Houston rapper Bun B paving the path for Slim Thug.”

Yes, you read that right. She just “paralleled” Buxtehude, Handel, and rappers.

I could do this with most of the program notes. They’re just awful! I think the only thing in them that actually (had she elaborated on it) could have helped me was the statement that the Bach cantata is “predominantly in A major”. Now there is a fact! Everything else was just…drivel. And not even the high brow “I’m smarter than you and if you were just one of the elite you would understand” drivel…just plain old drivel.

It’s too bad for the LA Master Chorale. They really deserved better, because the concert was quite good. You should all go to one of their Christmas season concerts. :)

Sunday, December 11, 2005



Well, it's a start, eh?

He's also mastered the skill of moving from a sitting position to his tummy, and then pushing himself back UP to a sitting position again. It's pretty impressive to watch him do it.

Crawl, kid, crawl!

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Bach's Christmas Oratorios

Today was the first meeting of the Bach Listening Group (through Torrey, but extracurricular). I am so very glad that I participated. It was delightful to get together with a group of people who all love Bach as much as I do, and (being Torrey-ites) know how to discuss! We were discussing from both a textual and musical standpoint, and it was so interesting to hear all the different perspectives (music majors, music grads, non-music majors, tutors). Everyone had something to contribute, and I was really impressed by the insight that was shared this afternoon.

There is so much atonement theology in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio (or Cantatas, as you choose to think of them). At face value, the way most people listen to music, it’s just nice Christmas music with perhaps one hymn that is recognizable. But there is SO MUCH IN THIS MUSIC! Bach was so steeped in music and Lutheran theology that he just sort of breathed the theology into all of his music, probably without consciously doing so. The result is music that flawlessly expresses theologically beautiful text. Did you know that the soprano and bass duets are beautifully symbolic of heaven and earth, and particularly atonement focused? You see it in quite a few different ways: a soprano/bass duet about how Christ “came to earth poor” in order to “make us rich in heaven”; a bass recitative saying “Thus rightly, you angels, rejoice and sing…we play along with you; we can celebrate just as you do”; a duet that among other things proclaims “Jesus, O my dearest life, bridegroom of my soul…when I die, I know that I will not perish.” Do you see how they are blended together, and the earth (the bass) brought up to heaven?

I can’t do justice, here, to the depth of meaning that is present in these cantatas. It is stunning.

One of my very favorite parts, (and you should all listen to it!) is the third cantata, 6th movement. The text is “Lord, your compassion, your mercy comforts us and makes us free. Your gracious favor and love, Your miraculous doings make Your fatherly loyalty new again.” The music is highly structured, but gives a sense of immense freedom…the kind that makes you think of skipping in a field of flowers or dancing under the stars. It reminds me of how I first experienced the liturgy. We can dance in this way when we live in the structure of God’s mercy and grace.

I tried to find a link online to that section, but evidently all the online bach gurus only like the chorales or don’t want to share. :) I’ll let you borrow my cd if you want to listen to it, ok?

Acrobatics and other news

This morning Jonathan decided that nursing prone (like usual) was just SO yesterday. The new and improved nursing position is sitting up. It made me laugh, and Jenn, it reminded me of Elisa’s style of nursing. :)

In other news, he is still working on crawling. Only, I he seems to be directionally challenged. He tries so hard to reach the toy in front of him, but usually only succeeds in moving farther away from it!

Today he has his first runny nose. Not a bad one, thank goodness, just enough to make us keep the kleenex handy. He’s a bit cranky because of it.

The sliding glass door is currently a source of great fascination. Jonathan has taken to leaning over towards it and very carefully bumping his head into the glass. I think he can’t quite figure out what it is, since it is clear. He doesn’t ever hit hard enough to cause pain…but he does cry from the frustration of not being able to go through it.

Monday, November 28, 2005


We hosted Thanksgagely at our house this year...and it was SO MUCH FUN! Thanksgagely is a Thanksgiving potluck that a big group of friends have been doing for a few years - it began when a majority of the people all lived on the same street (Gagely) - and it has continued although most of those involved have since moved on to other places of residence. It is a great tradition. One of the things that I am most thankful for is the fact that I get to live so near to so many friends, and having many of them over for Thanksgiving dinner really reminded me how grateful I am.

When Gabe and I were looking at this house, thinking about buying it, one of the first things we thought was "wouldn't this be just perfect for hosting Thanksgagely!" And it was! We shoved the couches up against the wall, borrowed tables from church and chairs from various people, and packed about 20 people into our living room. Everyone brought food to share (I did the turkey and it turned out PERFECTLY - I couldn't believe it!) and there was talk and laughter and a thoroughly delightful time.

Poor Jonathan wasn't quite sure what to make of it all. He did ok until he missed his afternoon nap, and as it got later in the afternoon/evening he got less and less happy. Fortunately, he was ok as long as I wore him in the sling and we stayed mostly in the kitchen instead of in the thick of all those scary people. :)

All in all, it was a great evening. Thanks to all who came and contributed to the fun!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Light at the end of the tunnel?

I can’t believe it. Jonathan just went to sleep by himself. I nursed him, and he was just happy and relaxed, but certainly not anywhere near asleep. So as an experiment (one which Gabe had tried once before with success) I gave him an empty bottle to hold and chew on, and put him down in his car seat and left. And he WENT TO SLEEP!!! Not a peep out of him.

I’m afraid to hope, but I do hope, that perhaps we’re coming out of the woods sleep difficulties?

Fun new developments:

Repetition. Jonathan has discovered that he can do the same thing multiple times over. His favorite is opening and shutting a cabinet door – it makes such a fun bang!

Imitation. Jonathan thinks it is funny to fake cough, particularly if we cough back. :) This can go on for quite some time before he gets bored with it.

And...drumroll please...

Jonathan has SLEPT THROUGH THE NIGHT for TWO NIGHTS in a row!!! And we’re not talking the pediatrician’s definition of 5 hours. No, no, he stayed down for 11 hours. Needless to say, this makes for incredibly happy parents. :)

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

New sounds

Jonathan has two new sounds! He is now spending his time saying "tssss" and "tuh, tuh, tuh".

Yay Jonathan!

Now if he could only figure out "ma ma ma"! :)

Monday, November 21, 2005

first word?

I think that Jonathan may, just possibly, be connecting the sounds “dadada” to the person Daddy. Yesterday I was changing his diaper, and Gabe came over to smile and say hello to him. Then as Gabe turned away and started to leave the room, Jonathan started crying and saying “dadada”. Of itself, that wouldn’t be very convincing…except that when Gabe turned around and came back, Jonathan immediately stopped crying and smiled.

Ever since Jonathan has been making the “dada” sound, we’ve been actively working to connect the sound with the person. Maybe it is working?

Peace and quiet

I’ve decided that it is completely impossible not to love a peacefully sleeping baby. Particularly one that is in your arms. And belongs to you.

Creeping towards crawling

Jonathan is so close to crawling. I keep expecting him to figure it out any minute! He’s been rocking forward from a sitting position, leaning waaaay out to reach for something, and then catching himself on his hands and kicking his feet out behind him. Once there he realizes that he’s on his tummy, which he doesn’t like, and yells in frustration. :) But sometimes, particularly in the morning and when he’s outside at the park, he’s more receptive to practicing. I’m going to be glad when he can crawl, since I think it will help him be less easily frustrated. On the other hand, crawling means I have to finish babyproofing the house!

Thursday, November 17, 2005


Jonathan's, not mine. :)

I'm guessing this is just a stage we have to get seems like it would make sense developmentally. He wants to do so many things, and he doesn't have either the ability to do them or the words to tell me what he wants. So lately playtime (well, all the time, really) has been punctuated with rather piercing shrieks for no apparent reason. It's a little hard for me to deal with, first because I want to help him and I don't know how! And second because I don't want him to think that shrieking is a good way to get things, so I'm trying to balance helping him, with helping him learn a different way to deal with frustration. I sound a little silly to myself, responding to his cries with "say 'help, Mommy, help please'". After all, he can't say that! But I want him to know that when he can, that's the appropriate response...

I'm working on learning a couple of baby signs in the hopes that they may help. Some of the very simple ones might just be within his grasp now. Milk, more, all done, and sleep are pretty easy. I'm still looking for one for "help". Does anyone know this one, or have a good idea to make one up?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Those were for you, Sarah!

Wish you could have been there!
And the most important people: Libby and Jonathan. They look rather in love, don't they? :)
The cake.
Libby and me. Nice heater in the background, isn't it? ;)
I'm getting MARRIED?!?!?!
Libby and Abbey
Libby and Mom
Beautiful Libby

Libby and Jonathan are married!

Here are the paparazzi...

Friday, November 11, 2005


Well, not really. But you might want to think twice about selling through them – they’ve raised their fees.

This irritates me for three reasons.
1) They didn’t notify their sellers. Courtesy dictates that you tell your “customers” when you change your prices ( and others do this). Maybe Amazon was hoping we wouldn’t notice?
2) The added fee is arbitrary. I can’t even figure out what they think the reason for it is.
3) They’re already making bank on the shipping fees. Have you ever noticed that while Amazon credits the seller with a $2.28 shipping fee, they charge the buyer $3.49? That’s $1.21 in their pocket, every transaction, without an ounce of work for it.

Hmmph. I’m selling at now.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Parenting is hard.

Jonathan woke up this morning at 2:18am to nurse. "Oh good," I thought, "he'll nurse back to sleep and I'll get a glorious almost-eight-hours before having to get up." And on previous nights, that is what happens. But not tonight. Tonight he nursed, and then cried. And cried, and cried, and cried. I rocked him and sang to him for 10 minutes by the clock, with no result, then put him down to see if he'd cry himself back to sleep. 15 minutes later, he was still crying. I tried patting him, reassuring him, swinging his car seat (he sleeps in it) back and forth. He'd calm for a minute or two, then cry again. Back to the rocking chair, with no better results. Gabe changed his diaper, and Jonathan was happy as long as the light was on. As it was now a quarter to four, we decided that at least one of us needed sleep and we'd just let Jonathan get up. Hence my post at not-quite-four am.

It seems wrong to let him get us up in the middle of the night like this. It seems to set a horrible precedent, and I'm afraid that I'm just training him to think that 2am is a great time to get up. But I don't know what else to do. We can't just let him choke himself crying cause he's wide awake and thinks he's alone. And holding him in the dark while he cries doesn't let either Gabe or I sleep, which really isn't a workable solution either. For fifteen minutes, yes. For an hour, difficult, but yes. For the rest of the night? No.

I wish I knew what to do. And I wish I was asleep.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

one "step" closer to crawling!

Jonathan is starting to be quite determined in his attempts to reach things just beyond his grasp. He'll be sitting up, and will lean over forward as far as he can, and then kick his legs out behind him (at this point hopefully his hands are out in front ready to catch himself!) Then once on his tummy he wiggles his legs with lots of emphasis and little result as he tries to manuever his body just a few inches closer to the desired toy. It's quite cute to watch, and fun to see him get closer and closer to being mobile (yikes!) :)

Oh, and he's also rolling over again. He had stopped doing that entirely for a couple of months, and now he wants to do so again. There are just so many fascinating things just out of reach!

New toy!

Yesterday I was at Stater Bros perusing the dented cans bins (which often have things besides cans) and found one of those 10 inch soft plastic balls for only 50 cents. I bought it, took it home, washed it well, and gave it to Jonathan. He was fascinated! I let him play with it in our tiny kitchen, which meant that when it rolled away from him, it usually hit a cabinet and bounced right back. I just stood there and watched him as his little mind went to town trying to understand this new part of the world. Eventually it got to be a bit much for him and he looked up at me like "Mom, help, save me!" so I picked him up and we'll try again later. I think he likes it, though.

Boy do I have great timing!

I did the laundry this morning. I hung it out to dry. It is now raining.

Um...I like my clothes wet. :)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Early riser

I’m getting all too acquainted with the “wee sma’s” of the morning. Unlike most normal babies (who the books say should be sleeping 10+ hours at night) our son thinks that 8 is quite enough. So when he goes down at 7:30pm, he thinks that it’s time to rise and shine at 3:30am or so.

Gabe and I are rather at a loss as to what to do about this. Jonathan just isn’t tired anymore. He’s not crying – he’s “talking” – loudly. He only starts crying if we ignore him, which I suppose is reasonable.

So one of us has been getting up with him so that the other can sleep. While I was sick Gabe got up; usually I try to since he has to go to work and school. This is obviously not a great situation.

Does anyone have any great ideas? It seems like we shouldn’t be encouraging this (and getting up with him is encouraging it?) but we also can’t force him to sleep when he’s just not sleepy…


Once up he’s completely happy. He’s sitting playing with his toys while I write this.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005


Jonathan's new favorite "word" is Dada. Actually it comes out more like "adadadadada". We figure it's close enough, though, so we're encouraging it. :) Maybe he'll figure out the connection if every time he says it I tell him "yes, Daddy is at work" or "yes, we're on our way to pick up Daddy!"

It is quite fun to hear the change in Jonathan's vocal sounds. They used to just be mostly vowels and cooing, and now we can really hear the very early beginnings of what will become real words. He has some consonants pretty clearly now, and he "talks" quite purposefully and quite often.

Monday, October 31, 2005


Last night Jonathan made up for the disappointment of DST. He is a little bit sick, and evidently decided to sleep it off. Yesterday he went down for a nap at 4pm, like usual. But instead of waking up at 4:45 or so, he slept until 6:30pm, at which point I woke the poor protesting child up. I kept him up until 8pm, then he went down for the night and slept until 4pm, when Gabe woke him up to make sure he was ok and feed him (since it had been nine hours since his last feeding!) And then he went back to sleep at 6am and slept until 8am.

The wonderful thing about this is that it has given his sick mommy time to recover, too!

Daylight Savings Time

I used to really look forward to the end of Daylight Savings Time in the fall. It meant an extra hour of sleep - or sometimes an extra hour of studying - but it was always a nice change that made the night feel so much longer. So I was waiting for the great day this year with my normal anticipation. An extra hour of sleep - Joy!

Somehow, it wasn't such a great occasion. See, babies don't pay any attention to DST. So Jonathan, who usually wakes up at about 5am or so, woke up right on schedule. And the fact that the clock said it was 4am just didn't add much to the morning. :)

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Jelly legs

I went for a walk today. It was a nice idea. Exercise, you know. Lose those last irritating 8 pounds. But it turned out to be a 2.5 hour walk. This was not the best idea I've ever had.

The trouble with me and walking is that I find sane 45 minute walks around the neighborhood to be unbelievably boring. So, in the search for exercise I decide to go for a walk that will MATTER. A walk with a PURPOSE. A walk to a store that has to be 3+ miles away.

Costco is pretty cool. I think we might switch our membership there. But I think that next time I go, I'll drive.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Sleep - or the lack thereof

This morning's conversation (at 5:45am)

Emily: "Honey, I must have a huge sleep debt. Last night I got lots of sleep and I still feel exhausted!"

Gabe: "You only got seven hours minus interruptions. "


Maybe that's why I'm exhausted. When a GOOD night is seven hours and two nursings, you know your perspective has changed. Unfortunately, I don't think my body has changed!

Prayer would be appreciated, friends. I'm functioning, and I suppose on the outside look pretty together...but I don't feel very together.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

You know you're really tired

when you're singing a lullaby to your baby…and then wake up.

Yes, friends, it can be done – I actually sang myself to sleep.


Jonathan expresses excitement by waving his arms violently up and down. It's simultaneously very cute and very funny.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Jonathan has this darling trick of playing happily with his toys, and then when I call his name he'll look up at me with an inquiring look that slowly blossoms into an open-mouthed grin.

It make me wish I had a video camera. Of course, I doubt the camera would inspire said grins. Oh well. It's one of those things that I'm trying really hard to file away in my "never forget" memory banks.

Musical genius

Well, that's the way I see it, anyway. :)

Our little musician continues to amaze me. I put on Les Miserables this morning, and Jonathan is absolutely fascinated. He’s sitting staring at the cd player, occasionally grinning and breathing fast and waving his arms (which all means “I’m really excited!”) We’re already to Jean Valjean being the mayor and the introduction of Fantine, and he’s showing no signs of being bored. He has toys in front of him, within easy reach, but so far he’s completely ignoring them. The music is so much more interesting!

In fact, now that I'm actually posting, he's still happily listening, and we just got to the "If I speak, I am condemned; if I stay silent..." part. Wow!

Monday, October 10, 2005

More on music

Sarah tagged me with this one, and it's rather appropriate given my last post!

Instructions: List five songs that you are currently enjoying. It doesn't matter what genre they are from, whether they have words, or even if they're any good, but they must be songs you're really enjoying right now.

Post these instructions, the artist and the song in your blog along with your five songs. Then tag five other people to see what they're listening to.

So, without further ado, here are five of the bits of music that Jonathan and I have been enjoying lately:

1) Jane Eyre, the musical - all of it. It's one of the only cds that I can listen to multiple times a day for a week and still not be tired of it. That's what we were listening to when I took the previous picture of Jonathan.

2) Summertime by Lonestar (yes, I admit, it's country - but it's such good country!)

3) The Marvelous Toy and I Have A Song to Sing, O! by Peter, Paul, and Mommy (Mary)

4) Mr. Pinstripe Suit by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

5) Souvenir de Florence, Op. 70 by Tchaikovsky

I'd like to know what Jessica, Amber, Elena, Libby, and Jennifer are enjoying!

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Personality and playing

In the past week or so, Jonathan has suddenly developed this amazingly fun and individual personality. And it has absolutely revolutionized my days at home with him. Instead of just taking care of a baby, now I'm interacting and playing with this little person! He really plays! There are games he likes and games he doesn't like. (He makes his preferences known pretty clearly, too.) He responds differently to my differing moods: returns cuddles (when he's tired) when I cuddle him, giggles when I tickle him, laughs when I toss him up in the air, smiles when we read books or play with toys. He's an amazingly happy child, and I am truly enjoying playing with a tiny person rather than just caring for one.

Six months old

Today is Jonathan's half-birthday. We didn't really do anything special - just said "yay, you're six months old!" and left it at that. I suppose that's ok, since he really doesn't know or care that today was any different than yesterday.

According to pediatricians and "how to raise happy, healthy, successful children" books, you're supposed to start babies on solid foods between 4 and 6 months. Since he's six months old now, I suppose that means that I oughtn't to put it off any longer. Only, I don't really want to start him on solids. And it's not just feeling ambivalent...I have a rather strong dislike for the idea. This is weird.

After all, I'm excited and pleased whenever he reaches fun milestones like sitting up or smiling or holding onto things with his why not be excited about being old enough for solids?

I think that my dislike stems from two things. One is that I really like nursing. In fact, I would really prefer that he nursed more than he does, rather than less. When he rejects nursing, as he has done more often lately, it makes me cry. And I'm afraid that by introducing solids he will not only reduce how much he's nursing, but decide to stop entirely. I'm definitely not ready for that.

The second is that I feel this incredible weight of incompetance every time I try to think about feeding him solids. The mental conversation with myself runs something like this:

"Jonathan is six months old, and he should be starting solids."
"Do I have to?"
"Everyone says you should."
"Well...ok...but what should he start with?"
"Rice cereal is standard and you already bought it."
"But how much? When? How often? What if he skips nursing? What if he stops entirely? What if he wants to nurse occasionally but my milk dries up?"
"Emily, it's just rice cereal. Try it once a day."
"But if I give him cereal, then in a few days I have to give him carrots, or peas, or bananas, or or or. How do I know how much to give him? What if I forget what I gave him yesterday and he ends up with a completely unbalanced diet? What if he develops some bizarre allergy to everything? What if he decides he likes bananas more than milk and stops nursing?"

At about this point I give up and go nurse him because it makes me feel better.

I have a feeling that this is a little bit dysfunctional. So I actually am making the attempt to start giving him rice cereal once a day. Maybe someday soon I'll get brave and give him bananas too.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Sitting up!

Jonathan learned to sit up today. Yesterday he couldn't do it without help, and today he can.

It is so satisfying to see him do something that I've been working on teaching him. We've been actively practicing the whole sitting up idea for the past week...and now he can do it! I suppose he would have learned it on his own eventually, but I do feel a sense of accomplishment in his new skill.

It helps me see the value in sitting on the floor for hours playing with him. Because playing is his work, and practicing things like sitting up and rolling over and holding his head and torso up when he's on his tummy are all important skills that he wouldn't learn (or at least not in the same way) if I wasn't there working with him.

And I love it that I get to be the one to discover his new talents. Not a babysitter, not a day care worker, but ME. :)

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

I take it back

I do know how he did it. :)

He rolls to his back, then grabs his feet, pulls them up as far as possible, and rolls over to his side. Then when he stretches back out again, it's at a 90 or so degree angle from where he used to be. He can turn himself in circles this way.

Clever, isn't he?

I would also like to report that Jonathan just entertained himself perfectly happily for 25 minutes.
Big, big, big smiles. :)


I put Jonathan down in his play area this morning, on his tummy with a bunch of toys at hand. He was quite happy, so I turned away to get a few things done. A few minutes later, I looked back down at him - and he was on his back, with his head where his feet had been! I can't quite figure out how he did that.

Monday, September 26, 2005


Jonathan has discovered repeated motions. It is so cool to watch - he holds his teething fish in both fists and very deliberately pulls it in and out of his mouth. I think he likes how it feels against his gums. He's done this for three days, now, so I'm pretty sure it's not just a fluke. Watching baby minds develop is the most incredible thing!

Speaking of developing, I don't think I've mentioned here that Jonathan is also starting the beginnings of crawling. And sitting up. And standing while holding on to the sofa.

And I meant to write more about all that, but he just woke up crying, so I think I'd better go. :)

Friday, September 23, 2005

Comment verification

Sorry guys, but I'm getting comment spam and it's annoying. So please just bear with me and type in the verification word, ok?

I love getting comments, so don't stop. :)


Hat tip to Amber for finding this one...I think it's funny.

Your CD collection is almost as big as your ego,
and you can most likely play an instrument or
three. You're a real hit at parties, but you're
SO above karaoke.
What people love: You're instant entertainment.
Unless you play the obo.
What people hate: Your tendency to sing louder than
the radio and compare everything to a freaking

What Kind of Elitist Are You?
brought to you by Quizilla

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Last night was Jonathan's first rain storm, and what a storm! Lightening, thunder, pouring rain (for awhile, at least!) The thunder was a little scary for him - he jumped whenever there was a particularly loud clap - but Gabe and I were so pleased about the storm that I think he decided it must be ok. We took him outside with a towel around him and danced and twirled in circles.

I love the rain, and I hope that Jonathan grows to love it too. Some of my absolutely best memories of being a kid are of being outside in the rain, sailing boats in the ditch - and coming inside for hot chocolate or "grog" (chicken broth).

For that matter, some of my best memories of being a teenager are of the rain, too. Like the time that Jenn, Laura, and I had spent the whole day at the kitchen table, working on physics homework, and after dinner it started raining. We were all a bit crazy from too much physics, and we ran outside in our bare feet and raced around the neighborhood, splashing in puddles and getting completely soaked.

Someday I want to live in a place where it rains more often. :)

If only every day could be like this...

Jonathan and I get up. He's happy and smiling and fun to be around, which makes getting up much more pleasant. We go outside to enjoy the fresh air and sprinkles left over from last night's storm.

I put him in the swing in the kitchen with me and make breakfast. Hot chocolate and muffins, because it's the first rain of the year. Hurray!

Jonathan and I play on the floor. He "reads" his books (upside down) and I read to him. We play with rattles and practice sitting up and rolling over.

It's ten minutes early for his feeding, but he's fussy, so I think its time for his breakfast. I put in a Star Trek episode and treat myself to some "brain candy" while nursing him.

Jonathan is finished nursing and wants to be burped. I put him on my shoulder and pat his back. Amazingly, after he burps he is content to stay there with his thumb in his mouth.

I think that he may have fallen asleep on my shoulder, so I transfer him to his crib. Oops, wide open eyes. I hand him his blanket and run away, hoping he'll find his thumb. I know he's sleepy, and it is time for his nap anyway.

Jonathan is asleep. I can't believe how easy that was. Cuddles, then into his crib "drowsy, but awake" like all the doctors and books say.

Wouldn't it be nice if it could be like that every time? :)

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Mommy burnout

Disclaimer: this is not a happy happy joy joy post. If you prefer to keep the illusion that mommies love every minute of their every day, please stop reading.

That said, I’ve been having a rough few days lately. To be fair, yesterday was good, but most of my week was tough. And the thing is that I really didn’t have any particular reason for them to have been bad days. Jonathan was fussy in the afternoons – but he’s always fussy in the afternoons. I didn’t get as much accomplished as I wanted to – but there’s nothing new about that. But for some reason I’d come to the end of my day and just be so sick of everything. I didn’t want to sing one more song, I didn’t want to make the rest of dinner, I certainly didn’t want to wash the dishes, and I didn’t want to carry Jonathan around for one single minute longer.

To make matters worse, the fact that I felt like that also made me feel very, very guilty.

I work so hard to be a good mom (good wife/good person)…to balance housework with playing with Jonathan, to stay involved with my friends but invest enough time in Gabe, to remember to talk to God throughout the day, to create a happy, restful home for our family. But I feel like I just run out of energy to do it. How can I be a good wife when I’m so exhausted at the end of the day that all I want to do is pass off my child to another set of arms and go read a novel? How can I be a good mom when all I want to do is cry because Jonathan is crying and I can’t make him stop? How can I be a good friend when my entire life revolves around this tiny little person and my days are consumed with details that said friends cannot understand?

All my best convictions, resolutions, and attempts at being the kind of person and mom and wife that I want to be, seem to be biting the dust.

End unhappy post.

Today was a good day. Maybe tomorrow will be a good day too. :)


Yesterday morning I gave Jonathan some peaches for breakfast. He'd "tasted" my peach before (sucking on it a bit) but this was the first time I'd actually fed him a quantifiable amount.

In the hour or so afterward, he was quite fussy...but he's been intermitantly fussy often lately, so I just put him in the stroller and off we went. He calmed down, but about an hour and fifteen minutes after breakfast he suddenly wailed (and I mean wailed!) I ran around to look at him, and his face was all red and blotchy and his eyes looked sort of swollen. It was really scary, because I was 30 minutes away from home at this point, and I didn't know what I should do. He calmed down really quickly, though, and fifteen minutes later his face looked normal again.

So now I'm not sure what to think. Peaches were the only thing I can think to pin it on...but it would be kind of weird to be allergic to peaches, wouldn't it? I mean, that's one of the most basic "starter" foods for babies. Also, why would it take 75 minutes to show up as a rash? I thought an allergic reaction would be more immediate.

In any case, I think I've decided to just wait on the solid foods for awhile yet. I don't really think he needs them, even if he does think he wants them. Plus I want him to keep nursing, and since he's already starting to act uninterested, I doubt that solids right now are a great idea. I don't want him to decide that all he wants are solids!

Comments, thoughts, etc. would be appreciated, particularly if you've successfully fed a baby. :)

Update on the accident

This time it is just good news. :)

The other insurance company is accepting 100% liability. This is wonderful, wonderful news, since it makes my life twenty-five million times easier. They are paying for our car to be fixed (i.e. we don't have to pay our deductible!) and for a rental car, and on top of that they're sending us a check to cover "doctor's visits if you need them, otherwise it's just for your inconvenience." I'm not complaining! ;)

I did go to the doctor on Thursday (met our new doctor - he's quite nice) and had my suspicions confirmed that yes, indeed, the neck pain was minor and I shouldn't have any further trouble from the accident.

And can I just say again that I am SO glad that Jonathan and Brigid were not in the car, even if the accident was "minor."

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Good news and bad news

The good news is: Gabe and I are convinced that God wants to give us a new car.

The bad news is: He's giving it to us piece by piece.

I was just in the fourth (we think, anyway, we may have missed one or two in our count) car accident we've had this year. This one happened because an unlicensed teenager decided to turn left across my lane right in front of me. Previous accidents included having an SUV back up into my door, being rear-ended at a stoplight, and being the unfortunate recipient of the result of someone running a very red light.

Because of these accidents, our driver side door, rear bumper, back passenger side panel, and now our front bumper and hood have all had to be replaced. It's amazing how nice our car looks every time it comes back from the shop. Still, I can think of other ways I'd rather get a new car!

Ok, now down to seriousness. Jessica was in the car with me at the time, and she's pregnant. She's probably ok, but the nurse hot-line said that she should get an ultrasound within the next 24 hours, just to be sure. It would be great if you readers could pray that she can get scheduled for one without any hassle, and pray that her little "squirt" is still healthy and happy inside her.

I'd also appreciate prayer that all the issues of insurance would work out may be a bit complicated due to the fact that the other driver was unlicensed and thus uninsured. Plus, I have to figure out how insurance works for medical stuff like Jessica's ultrasound. I've never done that before.

Praise God that Jonathan and Brigid were not in the car with us, that we were only going 25-30 mph (instead of the 45 speed limit), and that the police were able to get there to help us quickly and well. It could have been so much worse.

The girl who hit us is sure getting a life lesson right now. The officer couldn't cite her for hitting us, since no one stopped to be a witness...but he cited her for driving without a license, which includes impounding her (parents') car. I would not want to be her right now.

And I devoutly hope that I am a better parent to Jonathan than her parents have been to her. Because they let her drive the car...she was out doing an errand for them. And on top of that, when she called her dad on her cell phone, he asked to talk to me, and tried to wheedle me into not calling the police. No wonder kids now don't know how to be responsible. Their parents never make them be responsible!!

Sigh. What a night.

Tomorrow I have to drive the car about 10 miles to a mechanic for an insurance appraisal. Could you pray that I'll be safe on that trip, and that I won't be too scared of driving? Accidents like this really shake me up for awhile.

Thanks, friends.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Food and sleep

Jonathan had his first "official" solid food tonight at dinner. I've let him taste things before, just sucking on them, but this was his first smashed up solids to actually swallow. He likes green beans a lot. In fact, he cried when it was gone. :)

He also likes the taste of peaches - I let him suck on mine today at lunch. In retrospect, I suppose I shouldn't have let him try two things in one day, but I don't think the peaches really counted, since he didn't get more than a few drops of juice. In any case, I'm pleased that he's so happy about trying new foods. So far there are no "tastes" that he hasn't liked.

As for sleep - it's a mixed bag. Last night he went for 8 hours without eating, which was fantastic. I'm attempting to keep him on a 4 hour feeding schedule, skipping the midnight-thirty one. So far it seems to be working well...I like the new predictability and he seems to get hungry right on time. On the other hand, he's still waking up quite a few times in the early part of the night, for no discernable reason. Last night Gabe and I lay in our bed wondering "should we pick him up or let him cry? How about going over just to pat him? will that help the situation or just make it worse? What about a pacifier? etc. etc. etc." There are as many theories as there are parents, it seems, and so it's really hard for me to know what the best thing is to do for Jonathan. Last night we went with letting him whimper until it became a full cry, and then patted him until he found his thumb again. That seemed to work...once back asleep he slept the rest of the night (until his 4:30am feeding.) I guess we'll go with that for a few weeks and see if it works. I do think its having some effect, since a few days ago patting him didn't help at all, and now it does.

Well, my darling son is crying unconsolably, so I think I'll go help Gabe figure out what's wrong. :)

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Updates, and night-time sleeping

Jonathan is giggling more and more. I love it.

Tummy time has ceased to be the cue for baby meltdown. The other day I let Jonathan play on his tummy, propped up so he could look out the window into the back yard, and he was perfectly happy until he happened to roll over onto his back. Then he cried. :)

We’ve started working more aggressively on night-time sleep issues. Jonathan had been sleeping with us, but he had started waking up every two hours or so and wanting to nurse. At 17lbs, this was ridiculous. So now we’re putting him down in his crib, and when he cries in the night I get up and pat his back and give him his pacifier and (most of the time) he’ll go back to sleep for another few hours. I hope that in a few weeks he’ll figure out that he doesn’t need to wake up at all except for the one mid-night feeding. I do still think he legitimately needs one feeding during the night, since he goes to bed at around 8 or 9pm and doesn’t actually get up until 7am or so.

I’m also working on setting up a nighttime routine…something along the lines of changing his diaper, nursing him, then rocking him in a modified cradle hold and singing a certain song until he’s asleep or almost asleep, then putting him in his crib. I think that just maybe he’s starting to get the idea, since when I see him starting to be sleepy during the day I use the same cradle hold and song to put him down for naps and they seem to be going pretty smoothly so far…we’ll see.

Does anyone out there have great ideas for getting a 5 month old to sleep through the night? Just please don’t be like the physician’s assistant last week, who told me to put him down in his crib while awake, and certainly don’t give him a pacifier or nurse or rock him to sleep. I have a sneaking suspicion that she doesn’t have children. :)


I am very pleased with the results of my day today: Gabe and I found and ordered a new desk for me. This is an amazing desk that will solve all of my organizational woes. Really. I just know it. It has drawers, and a place for the computer tower, and a pull-out shelf for the keyboard, and it is about five feet wide. I’m looking forward to moving all of my piles (currently scattered between three different areas and in various states of disarray) into one nice neat place and closing the drawers so that I can’t see it anymore. My one fear is that once it is out of sight, it will also be out of mind, and then I will forget to pay the bills, return the library books, find out why our property taxes are three times what we expected, and balance the checkbook.

Maybe out of sight, out of mind wouldn’t be such a bad thing. :)

I haven’t been blogging recently because I had one big thing to blog about, and I didn’t have my mind wrapped around it sufficiently to write it well. But I think that maybe I’m ready to write it out now, so here it goes.

The job that I was going to have this fall – the perfect job that let me teach for only three hours a week and had on-site child care included – is not as perfect as it was supposed to be. I showed up for my first day of work, only to be told that they were very very sorry, but child care would not be available after all because their insurance didn’t cover children under age 4 ½. I would need to find alternative care, and since they were so sorry, they would give me a $3 day stipend to offset the expense for the first two months.

$3 would cover about 1/5 of the actual cost of outside babysitting.

But I really wanted this job, so I tried to find babysitting. Only, no one was available. Of the ten people I asked, not one could do it. So I went back to Julie (my boss) and told her that I was terribly sorry, but I wouldn’t be able to teach for them because I simply couldn’t find childcare.

I expected her to be a bit frustrated at this news…after all, no one wants to find out one week into the school year that a teacher can’t stay. What I didn’t expect was for her to tell me that, actually, I could bring Jonathan to the site childcare – they just wouldn’t tell anyone.


The result of this was that I dug a little deeper, being quite uncomfortable with the situation, and discovered that not only would leaving Jonathan there be illegal due to lack of insurance, but the entire operation was illegal. The caretaker is not licensed (very nice woman, but not licensed), and the room is about 7 or 8 feet square and packed with as many as 8+ children.

I should have looked into the situation before I took the job. But because the job was for a California state charter school, I made the stupid mistake of thinking that they would be in compliance with California state law.

So I resigned. Julie was so upset she wouldn’t even talk to me on my last day. She had wanted me to give a month’s notice, which I couldn’t do because I didn’t have anyone to watch Jonathan. She told me that I was putting her in a “terrible position” and generally made me feel guilty and awful about the whole thing. Only, I really don’t think it was my fault. If childcare is offered as part of the package of a job, then legally licensed and insured childcare should actually be available. And if you are told on the first day of the job that actually, it isn’t, then I think resigning is justified. Anyway I don’t know what else I could have done.

I’m terribly disappointed about it all. Even in just the two weeks that I was there, I had already started loving my students. They were such bright, interested, excited 7th graders! And I feel a bit like God let me just taste something very sweet and then said “sorry, you can’t actually eat it.” Part of my head doesn’t believe God works like that, but it does feel that way.

On the other hand, last week (my last week teaching for them) Jonathan displayed some very clear signs of separation anxiety when I left him with babysitters. So maybe it’s better that I stay at home with him anyway. In a way, it’s nice to know that I’m needed…that Jessica or Libby just isn’t the same as Mommy. And the other day I was holding him and looked down at him and just felt an overwhelming sense that I’d made the right decision – no job was more important than Jonathan’s safety and happiness. After all, that’s why I stayed home in the first place.

But it’s hard to think that you can have both things you love, and then find out that you have to give one up…and it’s twice as hard when it happens the second time. I guess that’s why I’m so disappointed this time: I had already gone through the “giving up” process with Calvary, and I thought that the Gorman job was sort of a consolation gift, only to have to give it up as well.


But since this is the way it’s going to be, I’ve decided to work very hard at being the best Emily I can be in the situation God’s put me in. So I’m working on being a loving and fun mom, and taking good care of the body God’s given me, and keeping a clean and happy home for myself and for Gabe to come home to, and being a caring and encouraging person to those around me and to friends who are far away. And I actually sat down and wrote out specific goals to work toward in each of those areas.

Someday I want to teach again, and work towards being the best teacher I can be. But for now I think I just need to work on being a good woman.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Baby frustration

Two nights ago I got my first taste of parenting a child with emotions (beyond “I’m crying because I’m hungry or wet”). I had given Jonathan a page of a magazine to play with, because he always wants to “read” what I’m reading. He was happily playing with it, but I realized that he was getting it more successfully in his mouth than I wanted him to, and as it got soggy tiny pieces were in danger of going completely in. So I took it away from him and replaced it with a new toy…only he didn’t want the new toy. He wanted the soggy paper, and he was extremely unhappy about having it taken away. This is the first time he’s registered a frustration complaint in such a way…and I felt like I was dealing with a small child instead of just a baby. The baby doesn’t really notice a replacement – in fact doesn’t really notice that something just got taken away. Jonathan decidedly noticed, and made his feelings on the subject quite well known.

I’m not sure if I’m excited to see him develop and grow, or sad to see my tiny baby disappear, or worried that this is the mini-precursor to toddler temper tantrums. Maybe all three.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

We're back!

It’s been awhile since I last posted because we’ve been on vacation. Actually, we’ve been on a trip…I’m not quite sure it felt like vacation. :) We spent 11 days driving up to Elko, NV to see Steve, then across to Northern California to see my family, and then up to Toledo, OR to see Gabe’s extended family. I’m so glad we got to do it all, but it was exhausting. I think having a baby along made it more so than it would have been…the first few nights especially were pretty tough, as Jonathan had slept in the car most of the day and so didn’t feel the need to sleep at night. Thankfully it didn’t stay that way through the whole trip!

Poor kid, it’s hard enough for me (as an adult!) to handle 12 hours in the car. Jonathan just couldn’t understand why he had to be in the horrible car seat so much! He was fine in the mornings, especially when we left really early before he was really awake. But afternoons were awful unless we could get him to go to sleep. Gabe and I sang so many songs, and let Jonathan suck on our fingers, and shushed and sang some more and played Pat-a-cake until we couldn’t see straight. And when all else failed we gave up and stopped the car and took him out – which immediately made the world a brighter place until we put him back in.

The days we weren’t driving were lots of fun, though. It was great to see Steve, especially since it seems like most of our efforts to get together with him get thwarted one way or the other! We went hiking in the mountains, with Jonathan in the sling on Gabe’s hip and the diaper bag slung over my shoulder. It was absolutely beautiful, and lots of fun on the way up. The way down wasn’t so great, because I got what I think is altitude sickness, and wasn’t quite sure I was going to make it back down! A dizzy head and shaky knees on a narrow trail on the side of a mountain just aren’t the best. But Gabe and Steve were very sweet and I leaned on Gabe’s arm and made it down ok. I think I’ll stay a tad below 9700 feet in the future. :)

We also went out to see the ranch that Steve’s parents own. It’s a Christian camp out in the absolute middle of nowhere. No kidding…they can’t even get electricity because the closest power lines are 16 miles away. You have to drive for over half an hour on a dirt road just to get there, and that’s after driving the first half hour on a windy paved road through what you think is the middle of nowhere. Nevada is a crazy state.

The time with my family was great. Gabe and I left Jonathan with Mom (who loves being Grandmommy!) and went to the river to have lunch and put our feet in. It was a lot of fun to re-live the memories of when we first went there together, the summer before we got engaged. We also went to Nevada City to wander around town and visit a really cool bookstore. We spent lots of money we shouldn’t have on books, and then topped it off with ice cream on the way back to the car.

We also got to show off our son to his great-grandparents, which was really cool. Grandpa actually held Jonathan for more than a few seconds, which is rather amazing. It’s been the family joke ever since I was born that Grandpa holds the baby for a few seconds, just long enough to look terrified for the picture, and then give him/her back as quickly as possible. But he seems to have relaxed a bit, because he held Jonathan without any visible nerves or trouble at all. We have some great pictures.

Driving through Oregon was an amazing experience. I have never been in such a breathtakingly beautiful place. I kept pointing out the window and saying “look, Gabe, I want to live there.” And then a few minutes later “oh look, I want to live there!” After listening to this for the entire trip, Gabe finally turned to me and said with some exasperation, “Emily, you’ve pointed out thirty places that you want to live!” Actually, I think it was probably a lot more than thirty…at least I’d be easy to please up there, right?

My very favorite was a lovely large farmhouse, dark brown, set far enough back in the trees that you could only just see it from the road. There was a meadow beside the house, surrounded by trees, and a creek running alongside. It looked like the perfect place to raise children…just think of the fun and learning that could happen with a meadow to pasture goats and maybe a horse in, and a creek to wade in and catch tadpoles and minnows, and trees to climb and, and, and! When I picture my daydream family and home, it is in a place like that: homeschooling, teaching my children to love the outdoors and never feel the need for TV, helping them learn responsibility and compassion by taking care of animals, running around playing hide and seek in the trees.

Ok, back from my dreaming. It was nice to get a chance to meet some of Gabe’s extended family members. I guess technically I’d met them before, because they came to our wedding, but I don’t really remember them. Now I have a much better grasp of who Uncle Dave actually is. :) Grandma Moothart was a wonderfully caring and yet laid back hostess, and she was thrilled to get to meet Jonathan. She gave us a cute set of clothes that fit Jonathan perfectly, and had last been worn by Dad Moothart! We had fun meals in her home and at area restaurants, went walking on the beach (they have sand dunes!) and picked blackberries in the yard. Grandma even made us a blackberry pie!

The drive home was tough, I think particularly because it was the end and we were so tired and I just desperately wanted to be home. I enjoyed all the people on the trip, but after so many days all I wanted was my own house and peace and quiet and the chance to try to re-create some semblance of a schedule for Jonathan. But as long drives go, it really wasn’t too bad. Jonathan slept for much of the two days, and still slept at night without too much trouble, and we spent the night between the long driving days at my parents home again, which was nice. Poor Mom – she didn’t want to give Jonathan up!

Speaking of Mom, she was wonderful with Jonathan and wonderful to Gabe and I. We really got a huge break when we were there, because she just sort of took over and held him a lot. Even when he cried, Mom was right there ready to take him (even in the middle of the night!) It was sort of strange not be the one who always needed to hold him when he cried…I felt a bit displaced for awhile because I didn’t know quite how to be “mom” when Grandma was around! But that only lasted a short time, and then I settled in to enjoy the fact that it wasn’t all on my shoulders for a bit. It was definitely nice.

Before I forget: Jonathan learned how to roll over while we were up in Oregon! He succeeded in rolling from back to tummy, and also from tummy to back. Unfortunately, now that he’s home and back in his big cloth diapers, he doesn’t seem to be able to do it anymore. The diapers seem to be just too much weight and unwieldy bulk to allow him to move as easily as he did in the disposables we used on the trip. But now at least we (and he!) know that he can do it – maybe it’ll just take a bit more time to gain the strength necessary to do it with the diaper.

Jonathan is also laughing now. Not the half-way chuckle of before, but a full-on laugh. And he finds the funniest things funny! Tonight Gabe was trying to get him to roll over, and so he demonstrated it for him by flopping over from his back to his stomach beside Jonathan. For some reason this was the funniest thing Jonathan had ever seen…he laughed every time Gabe did it.

My baby’s laugh is the most wonderful sound in the world. I hope he does it more and more often.

Ok, it’s past my bedtime and I’m exhausted. I’ll blog more later when I can think straight again.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005


Jonathan is nursing about once every four hours in the day, and about every five or six hours at night. "Hurrah", you say, "that's great," you say. And when I was nursing every two hours I thought I would agree with you...

I miss getting to nurse him more often. It's a kind of closeness that just isn't duplicated in any other activity. It's the time when he looks up at me with utter contentment and trust in his wide eyes, and I can focus on him and love him and stroke his cheek and cuddle his tiny body as it relaxes against mine. It's totally different from holding him other times during the day.

Nursing less often really brings home the reality that little babies grow up incredibly fast. It's a little scary how fast - I almost want to say "slow down, wait, I'm not done with you at this stage, yet!" And yet I rejoice in all his new accomplishments as well...

Speaking of which, last night I got to watch as he discovered what cold glass feels like. I was lying on the bed with him, having just finished nursing, and Gabe had brought me a glass of cold water. Jonathan was intrigued by the blue color of the glass, I think, and reached out for it. The wonder in his face as he touched, and smiled, and touched again, was incredible.

I think I really like babies. I guess I'll just have to have a lot of them. :)

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Public transportation

I’ve decided that I don’t like Whittier public transportation.

I spent the morning and early afternoon doing a practice run on the bus routes that I’ll need to take to get to work at the Gorman Learning Center this year. It was not a pleasant experience. Of the four buses I took, three were either Montebello or Foothill Transit buses, and of those three, all the drivers were unkind.** I got the impression that young moms with babies were the worst kind of second-class citizen, at least in the drivers’ minds. They made me feel like they’d much rather I jumped in the lake rather than get on their bus. The first one actually didn’t want to let me on with my stroller, even though it folds in half to take up less space. What did he want me to do, leave it there at the bus stop? I insisted, and he wasn’t pleased with me at all. The second driver informed me three times while I was paying and going to a seat that I had to fold up the stroller. Nevermind that I’d already smiled and said “yes, of course”. And the third one just gave me a dirty look in response to a smile, and only grunted when I got off and said “thank you.” For heaven’s sake, these people give the impression that they wish all humans would disappear. I bet the rapture could happen and they’d enjoy being left behind.

I could understand better if Jonathan had been screaming when we got on. But he never did. He was perfectly quiet and smiling and happy for the entire trip, every time.

It’s going to be a long year riding buses with these people.

** (In fairness, the Norwalk Transit bus I took had a delightful driver who smiled and offered to help me get the stroller on the bus.)

Friday, August 05, 2005

So much to learn!

Jonathan is learning and changing so fast now I can hardly keep up with it. It seems like sometimes he learns something overnight…one day he can’t do it, and the next he can. I am continually amazed.

This morning he giggled for the first time. It was a real laugh…not the “heh” that he’s done before a few times, but a real one. It’s a charming sound and I hope that he’ll grace our house with it often.

He’s much better at using his hands now. He’s very actively working on the idea of opening and shutting his fingers in order to hold onto and grab at things. It’s very intentional…the other night I was reading a magazine, and he reached for it, dragging his fingers across it multiple times until he succeeded in getting the edge, and then he closed his fist and pulled. He definitely knows what he needs to do, and he’s working hard to do it!

About a week ago, Jonathan pretty much stopped talking. He would make sounds when he was crying, but almost completely stopped making his talking, happy sounds. I missed them! But all of a sudden yesterday he started again…and he has about ten times as many sounds as he used to! He uses more vowel sounds, much more intonation, and has also discovered that he can use sounds (other than crying) to communicate unhappiness. My last two days have been very full of “conversations” with him.

I wonder if perhaps he’s starting to have some separation anxiety. For about a week now, he has wanted to be held pretty much 100% of the time. It’s been really difficult to get anything done, especially because for a few days I had a hard time even putting him down to sleep…he’d wake up as soon as I took him out of the sling. It’s not quite like that now, but I can’t put him in the swing unless I’m working right at the table next to him. If I walk into the kitchen where he can’t see me, he’ll cry. So now I put him in the stroller and just take him with me into whatever room I need to work in. I’m glad that it works, because it’s really tiring to wear him 90% of the day.

Yesterday was a big day for him: he went swimming and got his first taste of watermelon. :) Mom’s group was at the Reynold’s swimming pool, and Kat brought treats (watermelon and healthy cupcakes) because it was Elisa’s birthday party too. All the kiddies were playing in the water (and having a marvelous time doing it!) I borrowed a swimmy diaper from Jessica, and took Jonathan in too. I wasn’t sure how he’d handle it, since he didn’t seem to like his feet dipped in when I’d done that before…but he did really well! I just held him really close to me, and talked to him the whole time, and by the time I took him out he’d smiled a few times and seemed to be enjoying it. I have a swimmy diaper on order for him, and when it comes, I think we’ll go swimming often in the complex pool. I really enjoyed it, and from the grins on the faces of the other kids, I think that with some more practice Jonathan will grow to love it too.

Anyway, after we got out, we were eating cupcakes and watermelon, and I brushed the watermelon up against Jonathan’s mouth so he could taste it. He looked sort of confused for a minute, and pushed his tongue out a bit, but then he realized that it tasted good, and he shoved his face up against it and started sucking away. It was terribly cute, and I’m glad Jenn had her camera handy.

Ok, so that’s a lot of update on Jonathan. Now for an update on Mommy…I could use some prayer for healing. My shoulders have been giving me quite a bit of problem for some weeks now, especially the right one. I figured it was just overwork because Jonathan was getting big so fast, but they’ve been getting worse – my right arm and hand have started going numb on occasion, and I can’t do a few moves in karate with that arm. So I went to a chiropractor yesterday, to see if he had any suggestions. It turns out that I have some minor tears in the shoulder muscle, and he thinks there is also a small tear in the rotator cuff. Thankfully, they are all minor enough that they will mostly heal themselves. He gave me a few stretching exercises to do, said to try to alternate the arm that I use to hold Jonathan, and said definitely to keep swimming and doing karate, albeit carefully. After we get back from our vacation, I’m going to go back for appointments for a few weeks…he says he thinks it will probably be fixed in six weekly appointments. So we’ll see. But in the meantime, it’s getting more and more painful to hold Jonathan…it hurt pretty severely today when I was trying to lift him into the sling. So if you could, please pray that the tears wouldn’t get worse, and that holding Jonathan would not be so painful. Thanks, friends. :)

Monday, August 01, 2005

One week shy of four months...

and Jonathan has decided it is time to learn how to roll over. Currently he can throw his shoulder into it and roll most of his upper torso over, but his rather large diapered bottom can't quite follow. :) Soon, perhaps!

Friday, July 29, 2005

Living hand to mouth

But not in the way most people mean it. :) Jonathan lives "hand to mouth" all the time now. Anything he can get in his hand, goes directly to his mouth. That is, if it stays in his hand long enough. He doesn't quite have the idea of opening and closing his fingers yet. :) But he's learning, more and more each day!


I have a job for the coming year! It's a wonderful, perfect, God-given job that will only require 3 hours of classroom teaching, and one (or so) hours of prep at home. So right now, in between the laundry and the lullabies, I am dreaming up the best way to teach 90% of the california standards for 7th grade math in two class hours a week. I'm loving it. :) As much as I like being a mommy, teaching is my vocation, my calling, my fascination. I can't wait to go back.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Karate update

It's too hot to do anything, and Jonathan is still in the middle of his afternoon nap, so a quick update.

It's going ok.

It's incredibly hard on my body, which I think is actually because it exacerbates a problem I'm already having: namely that Jonathan gained weight faster than my muscles could keep up. So I'm tired and sore almost all the time anyway, and when you hurt at the beginning of a karate class, that's a tough place to be.

But I'm enjoying re-learning and remembering all the forms (I have 6 of them back completely now, and another two are starting to solidify again.) And sparring is still fun, which was a bit of a surprise, and one I'm quite happy about.

Leslie keeps telling me to take it easy. I'm trying. It's hard to find a balance, because I want to work hard and at the highest level that I can...but I also don't want to really hurt myself. And I don't want to burn myself out with less serious hurts either.

I'm going to keep it up. Remind me of that if I start talking about quitting again. :)

If I were...

My sister at my life tagged me a few days ago with the "if I were..." game. So, Sarah, here it is. :)

If I could be a doctor...I'd want to be independantly wealthy first so that I wouldn't have to charge much, and would never have to belong to an HMO plan. Then I could spend as much time as I wanted with each patient, and be able to really listen and help them.

If I could be a gardener...I would need a greener thumb. Somehow half of everything I plant seems to bite the dust much sooner than it ought. However, now that I have my own backyard, Gabe and I are making some serious attempts at creating a green oasis as part of our household retreat. We'll see how well it works. My dreams currently include a patch of lawn (real, lush, green, soft, mmmm!) a small veggie and strawberry garden, and a flower garden with white roses, daisies, white day lillies, honeysuckle, and anything else that strikes my fancy.

If I could be a musician...well, I am one. But at the moment my talents are directed more toward "eensy weensy spider" than Verdi's Requiem. Sometimes that makes me sad - I love to be part of a really good choir and have the joy that comes from being one voice in a great soaring sound rising to heaven. Maybe when Jonathan is a little older and not nursing quite so often, I'll be able to join a semi-professional choir and have that again. I'd also love to (someday in the future) start a homeschool group choir, and maybe a good kids choir at my church many possibilities!

If I could be a missionary and a linguist...I'd be just like Sharon.

If I could be a wife and a mother...and I am...I refer you to Sarah's post here. She says it much better than I can, and I wholeheartedly agree with her. It's harder than it sounds to actually do it, though, and I'm finding myself appreciating my own mom so much more these days. Mommying is all about giving up what you want...all the time. And that's hard to do! I think that God gives women husbands so that we can start learning how to deny ourselves, and then gives us children to finish the job. Being a wife and a mother is learning to sacrifice self to others without grudging it; learning to walk in Christ's footsteps.

If you'd like to play, please do! Here are the questions:
If I could be a scientist...If I could be a farmer...If I could be a musician...If I could be a doctor...If I could be a painter...If I could be a gardener...If I could be a missionary...If I could be a chef...If I could be an architect...If I could be a linguist...If I could be a psychologist...If I could be a librarian...If I could be an athlete...If I could be a lawyer...If I could be an inn-keeper...If I could be a professor...If I could be a writer...If I could be a llama-rider...If I could be a bonnie pirate...If I could be an astronaut...If I could be a world famous blogger...If I could be a justice on any one court in the world...If I could be married to any current famous political figure...If I could be a wife...If I could be a mom...

I'd really love to hear from Jessica, and Elena, and Amber, if you don't mind taking the time. But if you're busy mommying, I completely understand!

Kisses, exploration, and heat.

Jonathan has discovered that kisses are happy things. He now responds to kisses on his cheeks with big smiles, and kissing noises get out and out grins. It's fun to see him starting to associate acts of love with happiness.

Also, he now knows how to bring things to his mouth. And he brings EVERYTHING to his mouth! He doesn't know how to reach for things yet, but if you put anything in his hand, or if something happens to be in grabbing distance (his hand closes on it by accident) then into his mouth it goes! He just wants to experience the whole world through his mouth right now. I'm having fun giving him things with different textures to chew on.

It is abominably hot. God grant that I am never 8 months pregnant during July.

Jonathan and I are doing our best to keep cool...we go out to the pool in the afternoon when it's worst in the house, and I have a fan blowing on him as much as I can (the best seems to be putting him in the swing with the fan on him.) It's hard, though, because holding him doesn't really make him happy because he's sad 'cause he's hot and holding him just makes it worse. Only he doesn't know that, and so he's just unhappy. I feel bad for the poor kid. I'm miserable too, but at least I understand why. He's just miserable, and I can't make it better.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


I've been reading Charles Swindoll's book The Grace Awakening this past week or so, and wanted to share an epiphany moment. Ok, here it is:

I am a new creation in Christ. I don't have to sin. In fact, the normal state of my life now should be not sinning.

Ok, now, that's all very nice and good and sunday school and we've all heard it, right? But bear with me here. :)

I don't know about the rest of you, but I grew up being told, effectively, "God's grace covers you when you do sin. Just be sure to confess everything...and if you're not sure, confess whatever you can't remember." The focus was on what to do when I sinned.

The result of this was an incredible guilt complex. Every time I tried to confess, I'd wrack my brain trying to think of everything I could possibly have done wrong...and when I couldn't think of anything, I felt even worse. After all, if I couldn't think of anything I'd either forgotten it all (how uncaring!) or was so prideful as to think I didn't have any sins to confess. Right?


As a new creation, my normal state of life should be not sinning! If I can't think of anything sinful to confess, then I should in all humility and joy thank God for his abundant grace that has conquered sin.

Maybe this is old hat to you, but it is huge and new and joyous to me.

More on birth control

I wanted to clarify a few things in an actual post, rather than in an increasingly long comment string. :)

First, I don't believe that procreation is the be-all end-all of sex. It is one aspect of it, along with pleasure and unity with your spouse. I think that if any of the three are absent, something real has been lost. It's a package deal that we have only very recently unpackaged.

Second, I am not making a blanket statement that all couples should take this position. I hold a very strong position that this is what we are supposed to be doing...but my position on what others are doing is held loosely if at all. Every couple will have a different situation, and since there is nowhere in the Bible that says "Thou shalt not use birth control", I see no need or justification for being dogmatic.


Two weeks ago I happened to sit next to a pregnant woman in church. I hadn't met her before, but we exchanged handshakes during the peace, and chatted for a few minutes about her duedate and how Jonathan was know, mommy talk. ;) In the course of that three minute conversation, she asked if I could use baby boy clothes, as her coming child is a girl, and she was going to give the boy clothes from her first child away to Goodwill. I said yes, please, but didn't really think that it would happen. Things like that often get said and then forgotten, you know?

But last Sunday there she was with a HUGE sack of baby clothes. Seriously, there are hundreds of dollars worth of clothes in that bag. And she just gave it to me. She said she was glad to give it to someone, rather than just to a charity.

The amazing thing is that this happened just as I was wondering what I was going to dress Jonathan in once he finished outgrowing all his clothes. Which he is doing right now. Silly us, we forgot to budget for baby clothes...but they must be bought!

It is amazing to me how God blesses us in such immediate response to our worries and needs. It is hard for me to trust him for our daily bread...but he provides so abundantly when I do.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Well, I did it. I started going to karate again. This is a bigger deal than perhaps it sounds, for a variety of reasons. One is that I haven’t done it for 12 months. That’s a long time. And it’s incredibly difficult to return as a brown belt, with brown belt expectations (at least my own, if not other people!) without having even thought about it for a year. It’s astonishing how difficult it is to get back into something at that level, even just from a physical angle…and the mental/emotional one isn’t any easier. On the other hand, it is also astonishing how much I remember, and how quickly it comes back.

It’s going to be hard, I think, to try to pace my return. I want to look like a brown belt again NOW, thank you very much. But surgery is a big deal, and so I really do need to say, “no, I can’t do those types of kicks now. Maybe in a few months.” This is hard. Maybe these next months of karate are supposed to be more about the internal aspect (keeping still and calm inside even when outside events are frustrating) than anything else. That's very likely.

I’ve been to two classes now. Thursday’s was the first, and I came away from it remembering all the reasons that I didn’t ever want to go back to karate, ever again. I almost didn’t. Tuesday’s was the second, and that one reminded me what I love about martial arts, and thinking that I care enough about the fullness of the discipline to put up with the not-so-great parts.

Thanks to Jenny and Stephanie who helped me remember why I do this.

Who needs Curves?

when you have your own personal 24 hour fitness right here at home?

Just strap on a 15 pound baby and vacuum the house.

I think I deserve some chocolate cake now. ;)

Sunday, July 10, 2005

It's a TOY!

And Jonathan is figuring out that he can play with it. :) We've hung a little stuffed giraffe rattle on his car seat, and today he started using his hands to bat at it (wow, it makes noise!) and pull it to him to chew on it (it tastes good too!) :) He entertained himself for quite a few minutes with this, while Gabe and I watched surreptitiously and enjoyed his new accomplishment.

It is amazing to watch his brain process things. He's learning cause and effect! And he seems to be enjoying it too. Yesterday he held an animated and quite happy conversation with the same giraffe.

It's just a stuffed giraffe, and it's just one tiny little action. But it's a huge step in Jonathan's learning and development, and I rejoice that I get to be here to see it happen!

Friday, July 08, 2005


Jonathan has connected "Mommy" and "milk". When Gabe is holding him, and he's hungry, he'll cry until he catches sight of me - at which point he stops for a moment. Of course, if I'm not quick enough about actually feeding him, he'll start again...but he definitely understands the connection. I think that's pretty cool.

Gabe also thinks that Jonathan has some connections between being in the kitchen and expecting to see me. I do spend quite a bit of time in the kitchen with him. The other night I was late getting home, and Jonathan was hungry and upset, and Gabe said that when he went into the kitchen Jonathan would quiet down (just for a second!) and look around like he expected me to be there.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Loving God

What does it mean to love God? Love is such a difficult term…hard to quantify, hard to define. I love my parents, my sister and brothers; I love Gabe, and I love Jonathan; I love my closest friends. Each relationship is different, and the love that I feel and the actions that follow are different as well. So when this abstract term is applied to God, I have a hard time knowing what is required of me.

I’ve often been told that loving God means being obedient to him. This is a fairly straightforward answer, but leaves me feeling that I’m missing something. After all, my love for Jonathan has nothing at all to do with being obedient to him. Love for Gabe could include obedience under some circumstances, but not often. And even my love for my parents no longer includes this component. Love for those closest to me (Jonathan and Gabe) plays out in my life primarily in two ways: as a (very strong) feeling, and as the action of giving to them. This includes giving up for them.

I can give things up for God, and often I find that obedience to him requires exactly that. So in that sense I can see the parallel between love for God and love for others in my life. But I can’t give to him, at least not in the same way that I give to Gabe or Jonathan. (Side note: I give scads of time to Gabe and to Jonathan. Is this a way in which I should be loving God, and am not?) And so I am left with love as a feeling…and I just don’t know how I’m supposed to feel love towards God. Every time I try to work this out, I come up with a complete blank. Love God. Love God. Love God. What does that feel like?

I don’t get very far with that attempt at understanding what loving God really is. So is it just obedience that is required? Gabe says that his concept of loving God is much tied up with the concept of duty…of doing that which is required of him. Since he also sees his relationship with me and with Jonathan in terms of duty, this makes sense. But I’ve never fully understood the idea of duty in a love relationship. And so that really hasn’t helped me much.

In some ways, having “loving God” mean “obeying God” only would be an easy answer. Not that it is easy to obey God 100% of the time, but that at least then I’d have a clear-cut answer of what I’m supposed to be striving for. As is I’m left with an uneasy feeling that I ought to be obeying and feeling…something. And I don’t know what that something is.

Comments are welcomed. :)

Teeth, smiles, and consonants

No more news on the possible tooth. It seems to just be moving around at the moment, which is too bad, because when it moves it hurts him! I wish it would just break through and be done with it.

On the other hand, I'm happyI still have his lovely toothless grin to gladden my heart. I wish I could capture it in a's this incredible outburst of pleased joy that just makes me want to scoop him up and laugh and cry all at once. I can't get it in a photo, because as soon as the camera appears, he stops smiling and looks confused. Cameras are strange beasts, evidently.

So I try to engrave that smile in my memory now, and hope it stays there. Sometimes it seems that he's growing up so fast I'll never be able to truly relish each stage as he's there...because he's through it so fast! And then I remind myself that at least I'm here to notice.

He has a new consonant sound, as of this morning. Now he can say "guh" AND "buh". I have a funny feeling that he may say "Gabe" before he says "dada". :)

Stay-at-home MOMMY

I woke up this morning with a million things whirling through my head. I needed to clean the kitchen, pick up the house, clean the bathroom, take care of half a dozen phone calls, appointments to make, etc. Pay the bills, balance the checkbook (three months worth), take another look at the budget that won't balance.

Jonathan started making waking up sounds, and my first thought was "no, no, stay asleep, I have too much to do and I can't do it with you awake." And then I caught myself. I'm a stay-at-home-MOM. Not a stay-at-home-wonder-woman-who-keeps-a-perfect-house.

So Jonathan woke up to a smiling mommy who took him on a walk, sang nursery rhymes, read poems, and thoroughly enjoyed him. Lord Jesus, help me to be that kind of mommy. After all, that's why I stay home.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

First tooth?

I think Jonathan might be working on his first tooth. It'd be a bit early for teeth, and the one that seems to be coming in isn't in the front like most first teeth are. But he's drooling quarts, and he's fussy all the time (or at least, it feels like all the time!) which is unusual. Jessica and I both think we can see/feel a little nubby spot in his gum. We'll see if a tooth erupts. :)

...and trusting God

My friend Jessica pointed out that my argument (in the second to last paragraph) breaks down if you consider that our bodies are fallen bodies. I agree…that fact makes the logic less convincing. The trouble is that, even when there are some logical leaps in the argument, I can’t get away from the feeling that God is telling me to trust him. Lack of trust is my most besetting sin, in almost all areas of my life. And so when I feel so strongly that God is saying “no, Emily, you need to trust me and do this my way”…chances are that he really is saying just that. And so I’m trying. Pray for me, please.

Making babies

I’ve been doing some pretty serious thinking about the arguments for and against birth control for some months now. This is the current result of that thinking. I’ve tried to write it with grace and I hope that no one will be offended. I did find, however, that it is not possible to write about controlling birth without mentioning how babies get made. If this bothers you, please read no further. :)

A few hundred years ago, a normal family might have had eight, nine, even thirteen children. They simply came as God gave them…and they often went home to be with him early in their lives. Since then, medical science has given us the ability to save the lives of many children who would have died. It has also given us the ability to see that they never live at all.

This ability has created a moral quandary for Christians. Do we make use of the knowledge we now have, choosing the size of our families as we desire, or do we allow God to give us children as he sees fit?

“It’s not God giving you all those children, you know, it is just nature running her course.” This is a standard objection raised when one dares to suggest “letting God plan our family.” I don’t find it very compelling, however, as it is God who created the natural order of things, including this fact: sex leads to babies. Since he has made it clear that sex within marriage is an abundant good, not to be avoided under normal circumstances, we must assume that his plan is for us to have babies…thus “nature runs her course” with his blessing and guidance.*

Birth control as commonly practiced involves some barrier between the act of sexual union and the creation of a new life. This could be an unnatural hormonal barrier, causing eggs not to be released; a chemical barrier, killing sperm before they reach the egg; a physical barrier, placing a blockade in the way of the sperm; or a combination of these.

I have found that these barrier methods seem to erect a barrier in my heart as well…something that asks me “why not accept with joy that life that this act is meant to create?” And so I am not easy in mind or heart while barring life from love.

The Catholics have it right on this point, I believe. Life is inextricably tied to the act of love. It should not be separated, and cannot be without a loss of something precious in the act itself. Those who have never known sex without birth control probably can’t know the loss, having never known the fullness. I have known both, and know that there is great, glorious, expansive joy in making love with the intent for children.

Having said this, I think that the Catholics have made a rather crucial logical error in their acceptance of “Natural Family Planning”. The claim is that this method is natural, working with the body’s fertility cycle instead of overruling it entirely. It requires sacrifice on the part of the couple, emphasizing the truth that sex cannot be taken lightly, simply as a recreational activity. Sex has natural results (pregnancy) and if pregnancy is not welcomed, sex cannot be either, at least during periods of fertility. This is all true, but I think it misses the point.

Ultimately, both barrier methods and NFP come down to the same thing: deciding not to welcome children at that particular time. Both take the issue of children out of the hands of God, with the parents choosing to take on the responsibility of deciding when the family should grow. The difference in method is real, and of the two choices, NFP is certainly more natural, working with the woman’s body instead of against. But it still places family planning into the hands of the parents, instead of those which formed us.

Our Father in heaven knows us. He knows our needs, our desires, our fears, and our joys. He knows what is best for us. We claim to believe this, and in every other area it is considered virtue to “leave it in God’s hands.” Why then would it be virtue to take this one crucial part of life in our own?

One compelling argument for birth control of any form is that of stewardship. God has given us finite resources, we say, and so we must be careful not to stretch those resources too thin by having too many children. This is compelling because it is hard to see where the money for the clothing, the extra bedroom, and the piano lessons will come from. Yet when Jesus taught his disciples how to pray, he said that we should pray “Give us this day our daily bread.” We are not to ask for a comprehensive budget that makes sense for the year…we are to ask only for our daily bread and trust that he will provide for our needs. And so where is our trust? Has he not carried you thus far? Do you think he’ll drop you if he’s carrying you and another child? The arguments for stewardship of what God has given seem inconsistent with choosing to refuse another gift.

Another aspect of stewardship, which I find particularly strong right now, is that of stewardship of the body. The female body needs time to recover from pregnancy and labor and birth. It needs time to heal, time to regenerate, time to lose those extra twenty pounds (at least, we think we need that last one!) These are real needs…and God has provided for them without our intervention. If a mother feeds her child in the way God intended (breastfeeding), then infertility for a time is unavoidable. This time is of different lengths in different women and at different times. Some will find themselves infertile for over a year, some six months, and some as few as two. It is tempting to say that two months is too short a time period…heaven knows I think that it is…but God knows your body better than you do. And his plans are for good, not for ill.

Choosing to bar life from the marriage bed, no matter the method, chooses to see only part of God’s plan for love. It limits both the love of the couple by refusing to share it with others, and limits their acceptance of God’s love in the form of the gifts he would give. Alternatively, embracing life opens our hearts for the fullness of our love for each other, and the opportunity for joy in the family that God, in his infinite love, allows us to create.

* The argument in outline runs something like this:
1) God created the natural order of things.
2) The natural order of things is that sex leads to babies.
3) Sex is a good thing, not to be avoided.
4) Therefore babies must also be a good thing.