Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hair today, gone tomorrow?

Photo by Betssssssy on Flickr
Summer is here, and it is time to break out the tank tops, swim suits and other hot-weather survival gear...and maybe the razor?

This is a dilemma I face every summer season now. Oh, for the innocent days of my youth when I naively assumed that being able to shave was a cool part of being grown up. I actually liked the idea back then. Of course, that was a couple of decades ago. I also wore hose/tights at times then, and had sensory issues that made the prickle of hair underneath them absolutely awful. As I've grown, I've come to see pantyhose as a demonic device, much the way most people nowadays would view torture relics from the Inquisition, and have found my freedom.

I am somewhat ambivelent, however, about embracing life as a hirsute hippy. Now, since I've had kids, I've naturally progressed towards a more, er, natural lifestyle in many respects, anyway. We practice child-led weaning, cloth diaper, don't vaccinate or circ, and generally go along with many of the other tenets of those who appreciate the way our bodies are designed. When my oldest daughter asked me why I shaved my legs, I had no satisfactory answer.

I am not usually one to do things just because "everyone else" is doing it. Besides, I have enough friends in enough places to know that not everyone finds the absence of hair more attractive.

Despite my preference for natural childbirth, I am a total wimp and would never consider anything like waxing or any other form of hair removal that could possibly involve pain, however fleeting or minor. I am sensitive to the chemicals in dipilatories, so those are out. Which leaves only a razor, and I get razor burn easily.

Somehow, though, I admit to a mild asthetic preference for smooth, hairless skin. And, TMI perhaps, but I find it easier to smell fresh and ladylike without a ton of hair, also more of a consideration when it is 100+ degrees outside.

But, I am also lazy, and not inclined to shave daily, anyhow. And with three kidlets, time alone in the bathroom is rare enough that I don't want to commit to the upkeep.

So most of the time, I compromise. I shave under my arms frequently in summer, and occasionally but not always my knees and below if they will be visible/I plan on swimming.  I won't go into details about more personal areas except to say that the occasional trim with scissors is the most I'll do there (see previous comments on waxing, et al. Ouch! I crossed my legs just thinking of it).

Yet, as I consider items to pack for this summer's trip, I sigh inwardly and wonder why, and even if, I should bother to pack a razor. Would I feel differently if I had grown up in a culture where women didn't normally shave? It is interesting to think about all the little things that go into beauty rituals across time and place. Which ones are worth passing on to my daughter?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Spotlight on Carrie!

Hey, everybody!

An awesome missionary friend of mine just stated blogging. Check out her site at: http://www.perfectinhim.blogspot.com/ She has breath-taking pics, adorable kids, and wonderful recipes which I am hoping she will share. :)

Friday, June 26, 2009

A birthday poop story

My precious Elena turns one today. I was thinking a lot last night about the miracle of her birth. It truly was amazing how God worked out so many details. Our OB, who has been practicing for several decades, had never seen a situation like that before.

Seeing her personality grow and develop this past year has been so much fun. She is feisty and loving, determined, sensitive and loves to smile and laugh. Our family would be incomplete without her.

So, all morning, I've been in a sentimental, slightly sappy mood. My darling baby decided to bring a healthy dose of reality into that. I was changing her diaper when Joel woke up. He wasn't feeling well, and climbed into my lap to nurse. I cuddled him, then smelled the most awful stench. My first thought was that he had had diarrhea or something, but he was clean.

I looked over, and Elena had two handfuls of the most horrible Playdough substitute you could imagine. I'll spare you a graphic description of color and consistency, but it was not typical breastfed-baby-poo. It is going to be a looooong time before I crave guacamole again.

In the split second that I was frozen in horror, she managed to spread it through her hair and face, then grab my hair before I could dodge. (I sprained my foot, and am really slow these days).

Realizing that all was lost, anyway, I scooped her up to hobble to the bathroom. She had also managed to cover two of my shoes and one of Joel's, along with an impressive amount of carpet. She never has that much in a diaper--why now?! Ay, ay ay.

We are both bathed and no longer covered in smelly, hazardous biomatter. I've had the carpet extractor out, but it still needs work. We're off to celebrate the birthday (without any more of the little cookies I gave her last night. Not sure if she was allergic to something in there, but it definitely didn't agree with her). The birthday has got to get sweeter from here, right? :D

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Abba's Day

It is very cool to me that God chose to reveal Himself as our Father. He wants us to approach Him as our Daddy. Daddy. Papi. Abba.

One of the best things in my life the last five years has been seeing our kids relate to Carlos. They love being with him.

Every morning, Elena looks for him as soon as she wakes up, and joyfully squeals "Dadada!" as soon as she sees him. She'll fearlessly launch herself towards him, knowing that he'll catch her. The trust and delight in their relationship is incredibly sweet.

Joel has taken to singing songs to Carlos on a regular basis, just because he loves pouring out his heart to his daddy. Last night, Joel fell asleep singing to him. They play games constantly, and his laughter with Carlos is a song in itself.

Ariana's joy overflows when she goes riding bikes with him, and learns something new. Sharing her achievements with him make them even more special to her. When she is stuck in sadness, he can lift her out by helping her giggle and think of something else until she has the perspective to face the problem.

I think we've all heard of fathers who, for whatever reason, wound up blurring the view we have of God. I know that no earthly father is perfect, but I see the love that permeates the relationship between our children and Carlos, and know that they have a solid basis for trusting their heavenly Father and His love for them. What an amazing gift!

As they grow in age and faith, I hope they never lose the exuberance and confidence to throw themselves into God's arms. I hope that He will always be the one they seek before anyone else. I want them to always pour their hearts out to the One who rejoices over us with singing. With each new challenge, I want them to find strength and joy in Him. I hope that they can rest in Him when they are hurting, and be healed. I want them to grow closer each day to their Abba.

Friday, June 19, 2009

A girl after my own heart

I've been so busy with classes that I haven't been updating much here. When I am not busy, my mind just shuts off, so I haven't had much to say, anyway. ;)

Ariana has been coming to class with me a lot. It has been fun. The students can't get over how well-behaved and loving she is. They've asked if she is that quiet all the time. Uh, no. Definitely not. But I am glad that she has been so considerate of everyone else during class.

One of her favorite things to do while I am teaching is to write little love notes on the bottom of the board. Yesterday, she wrote over and over, "I love Dad and Mom. I love [the name of my co-instructor, a good friend]. I love Mom a lot!" It was very sweet. At one point, the students began to smile. I looked over, and written in a banner all across the bottom of the board, she had declared, "I love choclate! I love choclate! I love choclate! I love choclate! I love choclate! I love choclate! I love choclate!(sic)"

Hmmmm...wonder where she got that from?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

25 years from now

I've been thinking about what I want my children to be like in 25 years. What traits do I want to see? Now, of course, the nature vs. nurture thing has been hashed out a zillion times, and we still don't know exactly how much is inborn and how much is learned. But there are several things that I hope for.

I want my children to be loving. I want them to care about other people as well as themselves. I want them to have goals and purpose, and the internal strength to pursue them despite obstacles. I want them to be confident in who they were created to be, to express themselves and like themselves. I want them to be disciplined and have self-control. I want them to be intellectually curious and to show initiative. I want them to do the right thing because it is right, regardless of the approval of others. I want them to speak out at injustice and stand up for their convictions. I want them to love God with all their hearts, and to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, to be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I don't suppose my list is unique--I think that most Christians would agree. The thing that is easy for us to lose sight of, though, is that while most of us admire these qualities in an adult, most of them are inconvenient, to put it mildly, in children.

Somehow, the lack of a couple of decades causes us to see determination as stubbornness, confidence and the courage to speak up as disrespect. Intellectual curiosity and initiate result in a lot of messes. We try to manipulate them with punishments and rewards, rather than patiently nurturing their internal motivation. When they like themselves, we get uncomfortable, maybe because we don't like ourselves very much. We are embarrassed when they speak out, and try to shame them into caring more about the approval of others than their own conscience. And, sometimes, we cloud their view of God with out own fearfulness and clutching at control.

What difference would it make if we put aside the fear and tried to see things from a long-term perspective? If we chose to nurture the qualities we want them to have as adults, even when it makes parenting difficult? I admit, I am inconsistent sometimes. There are moments when I am impatient and want shortcuts to compliance, regardless of the cost. Yet being mindful of the qualities I desire for them as adults helps me to be more patient, to be more conscious of how I correct them, to be more aware of the amazing seeds that God has planted into their personalities. Parenting isn't a short-term endeavor. We are holding the future. What do we want it to be?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Sleep deprived stupor

I haven't been posting quite as regularly the last couple of weeks because of my teaching schedule. I love the class, but have been getting up at five every morning, not going to bed any earlier, and it is starting to take its toll. Normally, I can handle lack of sleep without too many obvious side effects, but yesterday...yikes. I embarrassed myself repeatedly. The culmination of many spaced-out moments came when I got halfway home before realizing that I had the basket from the grocery store with my groceries sitting in my front seat. Normally, I am only this tired and mentally unfocused (to put it nicely) in early pregnancy. I do not think I can use that as an excuse this time. On the other hand, if I leave my purse behind someplace (which has happened with every pregnancy--and only then--so far), I will pick up a home pregnancy test. :D

Monday, June 8, 2009

From my heart

I was recently asked to share some things from my heart on the subject of discipleship and discipline, and how God disciples and disciplines us. This isn't a bunch of arguments against spanking, or a Bible study on the topic--that has been done better than I could do by others. It is just what I would share with a friend, some thoughts on how God has parented me.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Caught in the whirlpool

Photo by Marijn de Vries Hoogerwerff on Flickr
My first week of summer class is over. They are my favorite classes of the entire year, in spite of the grueling schedule (6 credit hours in 16 days). The class has gone great. We are all still adjusting to the switch in my working hours, but the first week went well, overall.

I don't know why, but I am always a little surprised at how much the kids take their cue from my emotional barometer. By Wednesday, I was no fun to be around, at all. I have to get up around 5AM and none of us are getting our usual amount of sleep, because we are still going to bed (or at least falling asleep) around the normal time for us. After teaching for several hours, I just wanted to relax, and instead, my kidlets wanted more energy and involvement than I wanted to give. After being away from me all day, they want so much to reconnect, when I just want to veg in front of the computer.

Intellectually, I know that if I can muster up the reserves to play and connect with them and refill their love cups, things will go so much more smoothly. But, boy oh boy, the selfish side of me just wants to ignore that. As I said, Wednesday was pretty nasty. My selfish side was winning, and they were getting more frustrated and desperate for attention. You could practically see the point when that desperation reached the level where cooperation and obedience disintegrated and they were using any means necessary to engage me.

It all just spiraled. My irritability and grouchiness just fed the break in our connection and they became as miserable as I was. We are not a perfect family, of course, but there is normally a strong undercurrent of peace in our home. Even though they may be frequent, the moments of craziness or correction are generally just on the surface. This week, the erosion of relationship was producing some really ugly discord. We were all caught in the whirlpool of hurt feelings and hurtful words and actions.

Thursday was much better. We snuggled a lot, and then went to the splash park and had fun. You know what? It really didn't take that much energy, and certainly nowhere near the energy drain of fighting each other. The evening went much more smoothly. Just as my attitude had trapped us in the whirlpool before, once I got out of it, they followed my lead. Today has been a good day, although Joel and Elena are still much clingier than usual.

It was a good reminder for me that I have the authority (the responsibility and the power) to change the attitude in my home. I can steer us into or out of emotional whirlpools. Right now, the only whirlpool I want to be in is a nice whirlpool tub, with lavender bath salts, a good book, a great coffee drink, and a piece of chocolate. And maybe a few happily splashing kidlets. :)

Monday, June 1, 2009

Hold on tight

After lots of lazy, carefree days, the summer schedule has hit with a vengeance! I'm teaching 6 credit hours in 16 days. I've got a good class, and today went really well. Of course, the hard part is being away from the kidlets. Still, I am really grateful for how things are working out.

Today Elenita stayed with MIL, while my mom took care of Ariana and Joel. MIL lives just 10 minutes from my school, so I was able to come and nurse Elena on my lunch break. She cried when I left and tried to cling to me. While that was hard, at least I knew she was with her abuelita who loves her dearly, who will comfort her and care for her to the best of her ability.

She only cried a few moments after I left, but then Carlos called. Once she heard his voice, she was inconsolable for the next hour, and just kept crying and piteously repeating, "Dadada. Papapa" over and over. She is very much a Daddy's girl!

Those of you on my Facebook may have seen that Joelito got ahold of the scissors this weekend and decided to cut his hair. Some of the chunks were several inches long. However, after my initial period of mourning, and the professional cut to repair the damage, I actually like the new 'do better. :)

Here is the new look--can't you tell by the grin that this little guy has mischief down to an art form? Good thing he is super sweet!