Sunday, December 27, 2009

A Life Lesson from the Ants

As I feel about all animals in the animal kingdom, I believe there is a lot we can learn from our friends the ants. Of course, we've all heard tale of their great teamwork - how they work together to carry large objects much heavier than any one could carry alone or how they build elaborate mazes in their ant hills. I suppose there are all sorts of things we could learn from these creatures, but they taught me something brand new last week.

For the past several weeks, we have had an ant problem in our kitchen. Our wonderful landlords responded promptly, as always, and had the pest control folks out to our house the day after this unfortunate discovery took place. The pest control people left this sticky substance in the corners of our cabinets which supposedly works like this: the ants are attracted to it, they gather it up in their little ant fashion and take it back to share with the colony thinking it's a real treat, only it's poison and it kills off the whole colony. [Sort of sad, isn't it?] That's how it's supposed to work. Instead, it actually must have been a real treat, because weeks later the ants were still enjoying it and flocking in greater numbers than ever to come try this new substance. Our kitchen has become something of a hot spot for the neighborhood ants. Although this has been a bit annoying, I'm so relieved that it's ants and not something else. I am neither scared of nor grossed out by ants, so if there's going to be some sort of problem, I'd prefer it to be an ant problem! If it were roaches, spiders, or anything of that disturbing nature, we'd have a REAL problem on our hands. But I digress...

So the other morning, feeling Christmasy and cozy, I made a cup of hot tea and went to fetch the honey to sweeten it up a bit. To my dismay, when I picked up the honey, I found a little ant attempting to crawl into the lid. He wasn't having much success. I turned the honey bottle around to inspect it from another angle and found that all of his friends had the same goal in mind as well. These guys had managed to crawl down inside the crack of the lid and were dangerously close to their goal. I wasn't sure whether it were actually possible for them to reach the honey because of the screw-cap lid, but of course I wasn't going to proceed with using it in this state. Not knowing what else to do, I unscrewed the lid with plans to wash these poor suckers down the drain. That was, apparently, my fatal flaw. The second the lid came loose, those sugar scavengers had a green light into their honey wonderland. At this point, I was a bit grossed out, I must admit. No one wants little creatures making themselves at home in your honey. I quickly screwed the lid back on and set the whole thing down in the sink. My tea would have to be sweetened with sugar that day. I looked down at the bottle of honey sitting in the sink and saw the tiny ants, shriveled and floating in the sticky amber liquid. It suddenly struck me: This is a life lesson for us all! Those ants finally got exactly what they wanted and it killed them!

It's something to think about, really. What do you think you really want? What do I think I really want? If I get what I want, will I be happier? Will I be a better person? Or will I end up like the ants, who must have thought in their last seconds [on whatever level ants think], "We worked our whole lives for THIS?"

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Does That Make Me Crazy?

A friend of mine listens to a radio show every morning that has a segment called, "Does That Make Me Crazy?" Apparently people call in and tell about quirky things that they do. I don't listen to that show and don't feel like calling in, but I do have some quirky habits I would like to tell you about.

1) I attribute human characteristics (mainly, feelings) to inanimate objects. For example, I will never leave a fork alone in the silverware drawer. If I take the second to last fork, I will just move the remaining fork to be with one of it's cousins - the salad forks, for instance - until there are more forks to join it once again in its part of the silverware tray. Same thing for bowls, plates, etc. No dish left alone, that's my motto. Well, not a motto, really, but I just hate the thought of something being lonely. When I used to roll my hair in high school, I would rotate the rollers that got used each time so that none of them got left out or felt unimportant. If I accidentally drop a grape down the drain when I'm washing them in the sink, I'll pluck another one off the vine and throw it in there, too, so the dropped one will have company down there. If I'm eating pizza at a restaurant and there is one piece remaining (that, for some reason, doesn't get to come home in a to-go box), I cut it in half so that there will be two pieces and they can keep each other company. When I'm eating cereal - Cheerios, let's say - I make sure I never swallow just one piece by itself... you guessed it - so it won't be lonely. I wonder what this obsession with not leaving things alone says about me? Am I terrified at the thought of being alone? Probably so. I sure do love people, so why would I want to spend extended periods of time alone? It's just not how I'm wired. So, I assume that nothing in the world (inanimate objects included) wants to be alone, either. Does that make me crazy?

2) I engage in some superstitious behaviors even though I'm not superstitious. Growing up, my dad old us that as a kid, he and his siblings would raise their feet whenever someone drove over a railroad track. If you don't raise your feet, you're supposed to lose your girlfriend or boyfriend. Once I heard that, I started doing it just for fun. I still can't seem to drive over a railroad track without raising my feet. It's just a habit now, I guess. I don't even think about it.

When I'm eating cereal - Cheerios, let's say! - I pretend that the number of Cheerios in my last spoonful will predict the number of children I will have. Of course I don't believe this, but I like to play this little game with myself. The game is sort of rigged, though, because I often just make sure that my last bite contains three Cheerios - the number of children I hope to have. Does that make me crazy?

3) Whenever I am walking across a parking lot to my car and it is 1) raining 2) extra chilly and windy or 3) I am carrying something heavy, I always count in my head (and sometimes under my breath) to make the walk seem shorter. I say one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight; two, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight; three, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, etc. The goal is to reach my car by eight counts of eight. If I need to, I extend my stride and take giant steps in order to make it. I'm not quite sure when I started doing this, but it does seem to help. In my estimation, it makes the walk seem only one-eighth as long as it actually is, because I pretend that each set of eight counts is one step and/or one second. Does that make me crazy?

4) I microwave in prime numbers whenever possible. If a prime number just won't get it, I at least make sure that it's an odd number. Does that make me crazy?

Well, does it? More importantly, I'm interested to know about the quirks of others. I know I'm not the only one out there who does strange things like this. Let's hear it, folks - bring on the crazy!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Mother God

My whole world has changed since my last post. The last time I posted, my stomach stuck out like an oversized basketball, my time was still my own, I rarely cried, and I thought I knew how much I was going to love my little girl.

Three months ago today, I gave birth to Marin Blake. She weighed 6 pounds 2 ounces (thank the Lord for that - I did a natural birth and am not sure I could have made it through had she been one ounce larger!) and was 19 inches long. She is perfect. I can't get over how much I love her! I get excited each time she wakes me up in the middle of the night wanting to eat - I miss her after even a few hours and just love to see that sweet little face looking up at me! My heart breaks when she cries (I cried with her as she got her first shot at her two-week appointment) and I can't imagine life without her after these twelve short weeks.

Life as a mother has reminded me (or maybe truly taught me for the first time) of some of the qualities of God. As I interact with my daughter and realize time and again how utterly dependent she is on me at this stage of her little life, I can't help but think of my relationship with God.

Marin has a little timer in her tummy and can tell almost to the minute when three hours have passed and it's time for her next meal. She lets me know when it's time to eat and becomes upset quite quickly if I don't feed her immediately, even if I'm in the process of getting set up to feed her. She is not satisfied until she is eating (she's a lot like me in that way, actually!) If seeing her cry weren't so sad, it would be almost comical to see how worked up she gets when her meal is just seconds away. You would never know from her response to hunger that I have been feeding her every 3 hours her whole life. Her memory doesn't tell her to trust me - she just knows she is hungry. It is a perfect parallel to how I often respond when there are needs (and sometimes even wants) in my life. I get all panicky inside and worry that I won't be taken care of. It's as if I have forgotten ALL of the times God has come through for me in the past. I always imagine God responding to me in the same way I respond to Marin as I calmly tell her, "Don't worry, baby girl - I know just what you need. It's on the way..."

I Know Better Than You...
When Marin wakes up in the middle of the night to eat, I always check to see whether she has a dirty diaper before I feed her. If she does, I change it before she eats so that I won't reawaken her with this whole process after her meal. She often stops crying when I pick her up, as if to say, "What a relief! Someone is listening to me!" However, when she realizes I am changing her diaper rather than feeding her, she bursts into sobs, crying harder than she was before I picked her up. I picture her thinking, "But this isn't what I wanted, Mom! Aren't you listening? Can't you see that I'm starving?" As I reassure her that her meal is on the way, I think of how good it will feel to her to have a clean diaper and a full tummy when I lay her back down to sleep. Again, I can't help but see the parallel in my own life. God knows what I need, and he is consistently faithful in my life, but sometimes he is changing my diaper first when what I wanted was to eat. It's all very upsetting until I'm clean and fed and back in the crib...

How Deep the Mother's Love for Us...
There's an old hymn I love called "How Deep the Father's Love for Us." In our patriarchal society (and in the patriarchal society in which the Bible was written) we usually refer to God as Father. I have no problem with this and am not on some feminazi soapbox about the gender of God; however, as a mother myself (and having watched my mother take care of us growing up) it seems to me that the image of God as Mother is almost more fitting. I am extremely close to my own father and adore watching Krister dote over Marin, so I do not deny the deep connection fathers have with their children. But think of the mother's role with her children - of the deep physical connection present from birth, as her body changes in form and function to meet the needs of her baby, as mother and baby become codependent in the breast-feeding process, both needing the other for comfort and relief. Think of the endless selflessness that it takes to be a good mother. I am overwhelmed with love for Marin. I feel as though I have been given a small glimpse of God's love for me as this new relationship unfolds, as I gladly sacrifice to meet Marin's needs out of a deep and indescribable love. I understand for the first time in my life how greatly God rejoices in me, not because of anything I have done, but just because I am.

I am grateful for God the Father. I am grateful for God the Mother. I am so grateful to be a mother myself, and in this role to learn anew the love God has for me.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Baby Bump

I have every intention of staying committed to the original intent of this blog, which was to amuse myself (and possibly someone happening by the site) by relating random and ridiculous thoughts and stories from my life; however, given that I am (hopefully!) days away from having my first child, this event is clearly taking precedence in my mind and will likely continue to for, I don't know, the next 18 years? Admittedly, I haven't been blogging anyway, so I'm sure no one would notice or care if my blog changed from the purpose of amusing myself to being amused and amazed by my new little girl. That being said, I know I will need a creative outlet of some sort in between diaper changes and feedings, so I do hope to maintain a sense of my pre-baby self even after little Marin transforms life as we know it around here. That's what we're naming her, by the way - Marin Blake! I can hardly wait to meet her, and that little trickster had us fooled into thinking she was hours away in the earlier part of the week. She was only kidding, apparently, so I have a few more days (and hopefully not weeks!) left on my hands before she arrives.

I just finished cleaning the kitchen sink (again!) and remembered that a friend had asked me to post some pregnancy pics to my blog since it's been a while since we've seen one another. So, here they are! Hopefully the next time you see me she will be in my arms and not in my big belly! (And, of course, hopefully my belly will be a little less big!) :)

These were taken by my parents last Thursday at Turtle Creek, right by the gazebo where Krister proposed and I had my bridal portraits made. Fun memories! We were saying I should go ahead and deliver in the gazebo to keep up the trend of big events in my life happening there - I know the Turtle Creek residents would love that!

This was taken at the Dallas Arboretum a couple of Saturdays ago. I drug poor Krister out there in the scorching heat and humidity to take pictures of flowers for the nursery. He got some great ones and they are now framed above the changing table!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Super-Sized Surprise

I am currently 21 weeks pregnant, and today we had our big sonogram! We were actually supposed to find out yesterday, but due to a mix-up at our doctor's office, the big reveal had to be delayed for a painstaking 24 more hours! Poor little Baby Beluga was all hopped up on pre-sonogram Dr. Pepper for nothing yesterday!

Today we returned with great anticipation and the full expectation that we were in for the news, "It's a boy!" I must admit that, having had only brothers, I have always hoped to someday have a daughter. We both want at least one of each if we got to special-order our children, so of course we would have been thrilled with either gender. But, in the back of my mind I have always hoped to have a daughter first. Partly because I am the first-born in my family and I think big sisters are great! How else are you going to have someone convincing the other siblings that it would be wonderful to surprise Mom and Dad with a clean house when they get home? I just can't see a big brother organizing that, but I guess it depends on the brother! Also, as much as I want a son someday (and would have been thrilled to have a son first!) I had this nagging fear that if I didn't get a daughter right off the bat, I might never get one at all.

Growing up, I pictured myself as the mother of all boys. I simply adore boys and will let you in on the secret that I wished I were a boy myself through many of my growing up years. I used to write essays (I know, I'm a dork!) about how much easier it was to be a boy. The essays consisted of themes like: If you're a girl and you don't shave, it's considered to be gross... if you're a boy and you don't shave, you're thought of as manly because you grew a beard. If you're a boy you can run around with your shirt off and pee wherever you want (within reason, of course). If you're a girl you're expected to wear make-up and look great all of the time. And, of course, there was always the mention of the monthly "visitor" and all of the unfairness that entails. Plus, I always detested the drama of girls and the back-stabbing, gossiping nature of so many girl relationships. Boys do it the right way - they have a fist fight and then return to being buddies. Why can't girls be like that?

The general consensus among many of our friends and family was that I was going to have a boy. I believed it myself - I was having dreams about having a boy, I completely stopped searching for girls' names and instead pored over the boy names section of my baby names books. Even our midwife said that, based on the heartbeat, we were likely having a boy. So imagine our surprise when the stenographer announced, "Your baby isn't being cooperative, but I can get a peek and... you're having a little girl!" Krister was so shocked that he thought she was kidding at first. As she pointed out the evidence, tears streamed down my face in a steady flow that didn't stop until we left the office (only to resume in the form of happy sobs when I got to the car). I want a son someday. I love boys and all of the dirty, rambunctious fun that they bring with them. I want to have a little Krister running around the house and cheer for him at sporting events (or whatever events in which he chooses to participate! We can only hope he gets Krister's natural ability when it comes to sports!) I want a son. But today, my prayer for a daughter was answered. I am so grateful.