Monday, June 22, 2009

Does this remind you of Alfred Hitchcock?

Wanna see some more Australian fauna? (Warning to my friend David, you may not like this.) The day after we came home from the hospital, as we were watching TV with the kids, we realized that we had some visitors on the front porch.

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos are pretty common here in Sydney, and they often travel in groups. But we don't often get to see them this close-up. Perhaps they felt the radiating cuteness from our house and came to check it out. They are quite big birds, each one about the same size as a large parrot. Wiki says they're 18-22 inches (45-55cm) tall. Dang. That's bigger than our newborn. Jason is telling me that he thinks the wingspan is about 3 feet. He's a smart dude, so I'll take his word for it.

When we first moved here and I would see one, I always had the initial reaction that it must've escaped from a pet store somewhere. A girl just doesn't see these types of birds in Texas! They make this loud screeching sound, and combined with the kookaburras can create quite a ruckus in the early morning. One more reason I sleep with earplugs!

We see cockatoos feeding on the ground sometimes at parks and in people's front yards. When my parents visited after Nate was born, my Dad actually hand-fed some at the park.

So, there you have it. Sulphur-crested cockatoos. Pretty cool, huh? Did you learn something new? Well, that's what I'm here for, folks. And if you come visit, I promise not to feed you to a cockatoo or let them go all Alfred Hitchcock on you. (I was gonna post a pic of the movie, but it just freaks me out too much.)


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Still Here!

Hi everyone! Grace is busy watching Sesame Street with Nate, so I thought I'd come say hello. I am determined that she learn her letters as soon as possible, hence the TV regimen. No slackers in this family! She's gotta learn to pull her own weight--she's 8 days old today. We'll start on chores tomorrow, I think.

We have had a good first week at home. Definitely not as much time to blog now that I'm not in the hospital! Something about those two extra children, I suppose. Our good friend Donna is visiting from Auckland and has been a HUGE help with the house and baby. So that has eased me into life with three kids. I think the homemade pecan sugar cookies offered on tap have cushioned the blow a bit.

I forgot how lovely it is to hold a tiny baby, when they kind of just curl up on your chest. She is a little baby burrito right now, all wrapped up in a perfect bundle. (Why do we always refer to babies as food items?) I was holding her the other day on a trip to the grocery store, and said to Jason, "I can't believe this could be our last little bundle, can you?" "Um...yes," he said, smiling at me. I am lucky to have a husband who is really comfortable with newborns, though! He is a champion.

Some other things I'd forgotten about this stage of life:
--The little squeaky sounds that babies make. She sounds like a squeeze toy sometimes!
--How tiring it is to feed a baby all day, then fall into bed at night only to be woken an hour later by said hungry baby. Then two hours after that, and three hours after that.
--The hilarious faces they make when they are trying to wake themselves up. She scrunches her eyebrows and looks like the world's tiniest old man, disgruntled about something.
--The juggling act of spending time with your other children while taking care of the baby. Nate is wanting me to play with him a lot! I have been a nursing superhero with him a couple times this week already. An interesting image, isn't it? Too bad there aren't any comic books for new mothers.
--The feeling of achievement that you get when you have brushed your teeth, showered and gotten dressed, all before 10am. Look out, world!

I'm sure there are other things I've forgotten, but I've forgotten them right now. Suffice to say that we are well, the kids are adjusting, I am tired, and feeling very blessed. How are you?

Friday, June 12, 2009

Give the people what they want, I always say

Previously, we've discussed how an immediate transfusion of cuteness into the atmosphere could quite possibly turn our global economy around, ward off climate change, and maybe deal with this pesky North Korea situation.

So, am I posting these pictures in a shameless plot to fish for your compliments on how adorable my children are? Reader, I am not. I just want to do my part to ward off these global giants. It is sheer benevolence and a desire to like, be the change and stuff. Or something. Anyway, looky look!

KA-POW, Kim Jong Il!

In your FACE, melting glaciers!

Run home to mama, credit crisis!

That is TOTALLY gonna work. Grace is waking up, so I better run. I think she must feel the tremors in the earth's crust due to her own adorablity-ness.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Grace is here!

And all is well. She's just a little over 24 hours old, and the tiniest little thing! Her head fits right in my palm--grapefruit sized. When Jason brought the kids up to meet her yesterday, it struck me anew how huge they are in comparison! I mean, Nate just looked like a Mack truck or something.

I'll post more details and pics later--I just wanted to thank everyone for their emails, blogments (did I make up a word?), calls and most of all, prayers. I don't think childbirth could've gone much more smoothly than this. Thanks also to Becky for her sweet post and all the Suburban Matron readers! It was so sweet to read what y'all wrote. We are off to a pretty good start and I am feeling great. I love this hospital--I gotta tell you. They are really wonderful here. The nurses are all just so friendly and so helpful--it's like having all these moms and big sisters around. They call me "sweetheart" and bring me tea. It feels a little like summer camp. But with stitches, less sleep and no mosquitoes. Can I stay forever?

A few years ago, when Nate was still a baby, I was sitting up in bed one night, and had this thought: Your next child will be a girl, and you should name her Grace Elaine. Another baby wasn't really on the radar yet for us, so I tucked that thought away for later. But when we found out that #3 was a girl, we had our name. Elaine is my amazing mama's middle name, and I can think of no better person to name a child after. And Grace--well, grace is one of my favorite ideas/concepts/truths. Realization of what grace is has changed my life forever. So I love that our new baby daughter will be a reminder of that for me.

I just want to include this little "definition" of grace from a spiritual perspective. I love the way that Frederick Buechner worded this, and it's this amazing truth that comes to mind when I think of why we named our little one Grace.

"After centuries of handling and mishandling, most religious words have become so shopworn nobody's much interested anymore. Not so with grace, for some reason. Mysteriously, even derivatives like gracious and graceful still have some of the bloom left.

Grace is something you can never get but can only be given. There's no way to earn it or deserve it or bring it about any more than you can deserve the taste of raspberries and cream or earn good looks or bring about your own birth.

A good sleep is grace and so are good dreams. Most tears are grace. The smell of rain is grace. Somebody loving you is grace. Loving somebody is grace. Have you ever tried to love somebody?

A crucial eccentricity of the Christian faith is the assertion that people are saved by grace. There's nothing you have to do. There's nothing you have to do. There's nothing you have to do.

The grace of God means something like: 'Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are, because the party wouldn't have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don't be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It's for you I created the universe. I love you.'

There's only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can only be yours if you'll reach out and take it.

Maybe being to reach out and take it is a gift too.”

More later. Love y'all!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Set Phasers to Wicked Awesome Last night, Jason and I took some friends who are visiting from Auckland out to see Star Trek. Y'all. Have you seen this movie? It was so good. AND, we got to see it in the IMAX theatre downtown in Darling Harbour, which is one of my favorite places to go in Sydney.

(See? The IMAX is in that yellow-black building. Isn't the harbour pretty?)

I thought maybe the phenomenal surround sound, ginormous screen and incredible special effects might send me into labor. I even ran up the stairs to get to our seats (got some funny looks on that one). Apparently, this baby is not a Trekkie like me. She'll probably be all into, like, Baby Einstein and stuff. Ugh. That is so 2002.

But, I eased my restlessness at the movies with a huge bag of M&Ms, my hubby by my side and a completely youknowwhat-kickin' movie. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night! But IMAX movies are pricey, so this girl better come soon.

You think she'd resent having "Spock" as a middle name? Just wondering.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

This is what's up.

Hey there, y'all. I was hoping my next post would be all about our baby girl finally being born! Alas, she is still a-cookin'. My actual due date is this Saturday, so hopefully we will meet her soon!

This is the longest I've ever been pregnant--and I'm not even overdue yet! Both Ava and Nate were early, so of course I expected this one to be, too. Ahh, but that's where your expectations can come back to haunt you! So, over the last week or so, I have been making a conscious effort to CHILL OUT about it. This has involved a few episodes of The West Wing in the evenings (I love that show) and some gummy bears. Okay, a lot of gummy bears. And a couple handfuls of chocolate chips. Okay, several. Am I a walking cliche or what? Desperate times.

(You have to bite the heads off first so you don't hear the screams--handy hint.)

In other news...

I have been trying to take care of every loose end I can think of before baby comes. This means that the house is cleaner and better organized than it has been in quite awhile. Now, if you know me, you know that it's probably still pretty average. Like, picture your house. Okay, now make it a little more cluttered and not as nattily decorated and now it's like my house. But for us, it's lookin' pretty good right now. And you know all those little annoying things you have on the back burner to do? Forms to fill out, stuff to mail, birthday gifts to buy? Y'all, I have been doing it all. It feels so good. I even took all of Ava and Nate's drawings and other stuff I would feel guilty about throwing away and put them in little binders. Their "memory books". It's like an alien has invaded my body. I was thinking the other day, This is how organized people must feel. I need to act like I'm always 9 months pregnant and then I'd get so much more done! Except that I'd be able to zip up my jeans. That would be awesome.

Becky and I are working feverishly to plan a big family holiday when they all come out here at the end of the month. My mom and dad, Beck are her family are all coming to see us! (My brother Dave and his wife, Katie will hopefully come in September.) I've been spending lots of time online (and neglecting you guys) looking for holiday homes in Queensland, along the Sunshine Coast. Trying to decide between this:
or this:

Now, doesn't that make you wanna come too? I gotta tell you, this is a beautiful country, and there are so many things to see. So that's one more thing I'm hoping to secure before this little girl decides to show up. So if you know anyone who has a house on the Sunshine Coast that can accommodate 11 people, let me know, would you?

AND, tomorrow is our tenth anniversary! Dang, that was quick! I heard someone say once that both people in a marriage should feel like they married "up". Boy, did I. Spelling errors aside, he really is the best person I've ever known. Plus, he's way cute.

Jason first told me he wanted to marry me while we sat on the grass at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower. (See? One more thing we have in common with Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Except for the Scientology thing.) He'd been bacpacking for 5 months around Europe and I had just flown into Paris to meet up with him. We were just a little excited to see each other. I'll never forget--he would walk around train stations, city streets, and art muesuems with a big baguette strapped to the outside of his backpack. When he was hungry, he'd just reach back and pull off a hunk of bread. And then he'd be all surprised when I didn't want any. All I could think of was all the places that bread had been. This sort of scenario has played out in many, many different ways over the last ten years. Love you, babe! Happy anniversary.

Sorry for the randomness! Maybe I've had too much sugar. But, this is what's doin' over here. Hope all is well with you.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Can't I Get an Honorary Degree for this or Something?

I've been thinking today about how much of parenting is about marketing. Have you ever thought about this? The packaging and re-packaging of information in such a way that it becomes palatable, even preferable, to your kids.

Becky did a post recently about making a grilled cheese sandwich for her little dude, and how he wouldn't eat the crusts. Several of the commenters shared their tactics in "repackaging" the crusts so they would get eaten.

Saturday evening, Jason made us all breakfast for dinner.
Do you ever do this? It was so yummy. Pancakes and lots of syrup, bacon, scrambled eggs with cheese. I was craving pancakes, so I loved it. But the thing that struck me was how excited the kids were and what a novelty it was to them. You would've thought the circus was in town or something. They danced around the kitchen and hugged each other. (They are cheap dates.)

My mom used to do this for us and I can remember feeling like it was a really special occasion. Now, I realize that it was probably just that she hadn't gone to the grocery store that day and needed to come up with something filling that we would eat. But, see? Marketing! If she'd said, "Hey guys, all we have tonight is grits and scrambled eggs with toast. Sorry", we would've been totally bummed out. Instead, it was like, "Guess what! We get to have breakfast! But it's nighttime! See the crazy paradox? What a cool mom I am!"

I have "re-packaged" vitamins to be energy pills. That sounds suspiciously like speed or something, but I promise it's not. I tell Nate when he eats broccoli that I can see his bones getting stronger. (Hey--it does have calcium!)In addition, it is now really awesome to still sit in his car seat cause now he's up high enough to roll the window down.

In my life as a parent, I spend the vast majority of my time on the following:
**Making sure no one falls off cliffs or gets hit by cars (You think I jest-- you should see our cliff-like driveway)
**Brushing tangles out of hair
**Talking about why heaven is good even if there aren't toys there and why Jesus can fly but that doesn't mean He is a boy fairy.
**Taking information that is mundane or undesirable and re-formatting it into fun! Let me! I saw it first!

I used to wonder why parents were so tired all the time. Now I think it's because you are constantly filtering information, explaining it, managing expectations and spinning it, baby! It can be quite fun, actually. And when Jason and I come up with a particularly good spin, we look at each other, nod and smile, like "Ohhhh yeah, baby. We are good." But what about you? Share your best spin-master stories. Help a sister out, would ya? Or if you haven't done it yourself, what worked on you?