Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ruby is Four!

Ruby's birthday was last week. I wanted to do the perfect post for her (whatever that is!), but I'd better just go ahead and post this. Something is better than nothing, right?
This is one of Ruby's most common "Isn't this fun?" faces of delight. One of my favorites.

As hard as it is for Casey and me to believe, it has been FOUR years since Ruby shot into our lives (literally). They say time flies, but it is truer than we could possibly imagine! Where did our little fussy baby go? And what of our chubby-faced toddler with the mullet?

We thank God for sending us such a sweet treasure. Ruby really is our little jewel. She has a tender heart and a helpful disposition. Usually, she will ask (and continue asking) if there is anything she can do to help me, and she cheerfully does whatever it is that I find for her.

Though she often has to be reminded that she is not the boss, her usually obedient example is helpful in guiding Claire's choices, and oftentimes her attitude is more "adult" than mine! Sometimes she will sweetly tell me, "Mommy, God says to be kind, and you are not talking kind to me." (I've given her permission to do this, and on some rough days, I'll ask her to remind me what God requires. I learned this from my friends, the Martins. Accountability is key for me, and if that is a 4-year-old, so be it. My hope is that as she grows and learns more Scripture, she will be able to challenge me that much more!)

Last week, Ruby had a birthday party. It wasn't much of one (cupcakes and a few friends over to play dress-up), but it's probably as close as we're going to get. We are just not the birthday hoopla type. Ruby and her friends had fun, and she talked about the party for days afterward.
From left to right: Ruby, Savannah (who is 2 days younger than Ruby, if you can believe it), Haley, Claire and Alexys.

Not easy to get five tiny ones to stay still long enough for a picture. We did get a lot of laughs, though.
These girls love dress-up!

Cupcakes! (Don't you love Claire's hoop dress?)

You'd think they'd notice all that frosting on their faces, but they were clueless.

This out-of-toddlerhood stage brings us into new territory: that of doing special things with Ruby for her birthday. Casey decided to take her to a Disney show the other week, and it sounded so fun that I decided to accept an invitation from a friend to a ladies' tea and take Ruby for a special date. Ruby loved both, and it was fun for both Casey and me to spend some (more) individualized time with her (she did share our tea date with Haley).

Case and Ruby grabbed dinner after the show. She was pretty excited.
Tea with the Ladies:
At our table: Annna, Angela and Chrissy
At first, Ruby was a little anxious about wearing her special dress. She kept asking me if people were going to laugh at her. (This has been a concern of hers for the last 4 months. Is it the age?)
I watched Ruby put cube after cube of sugar into her tea (which was cold and all but gone) while the speakers went on (and on, and on!) I was really surprised she did so well for it going as long as it did. And was glad she had something quiet to do.

On the right, you will see a gift basket, full of Christmas junk (not kidding). The ladies who had set up the tea party also set up a drawing. There were probably 25 gift baskets; we were given 3 tickets each to put in the bag of our choice (which coincided with the gift baskets). I put all my tickets into cute things that had little tea sets or fun kid stuff. Ruby insisted that she wanted her last ticket to go to this one, because she loved the mugs (Ugh.). I was totally appalled, but complied. It was so tempting to throw the ticket in the bag next to it: she wouldn't know better, but against my strongest inclinations, I put the ticket it in the bag she chose. A small step, I thought, toward letting go and allowing Ruby to like things I don't. Maybe by the time it's something big, I'll have learned to let go?
It was probably one of the last baskets I would ever EVER want, and what do you know? She won it. At first, I thought it was ironic, but then I realized that she won because hers was probably one of the only tickets in the bag. But the true irony lies in the fact that Ruby loved this basket because it had "Kwimmus Man" in it. That was the draw for her. She doesn't even know who he is, and yet she really wanted those mugs (scroll to the end of the post). So strange. And yes, we have those hideous, hand-wash-only, non-microwaveable mugs in our cupboard now. All for love of a child. (Awww.)

We got to stop by and see Ruby's sweet friend, "Lekus" when the tea party was over. Ruby's always been a little more excited to be Alexys' friend than she is to be Ruby's (as one can tell by the worried look: Who is this girl?)
Thank you, Lord, for lending us this sweet child. We do not deserve her, nor do we deserve any of the wonderful gifts You richly lavish on us. We are grateful! Help us to be faithful.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Follow-up to My Reproduction Rant

I have a few questions for my readers. This is new to me, since my readers don't usually post comments, and I haven't really ever asked pointed questions to encourage you to do so. The first question actually has to do with comments, and it may be one reason why I don't see many!

Does anyone have trouble commenting on my blog? I have the comments moderated, meaning that you won't see your comment right away (or sometimes at all, if I reply by e-mail), but the problem I'm hearing about is one regarding the word verification. If you have a problem commenting, please e-mail me so I can try to get it fixed (sarah at thecowarts dot org). I'm just trying to figure out if it's on my end or not.

My other question has to do with an e-mail I received today, regarding mostly the last four paragraphs of a post I did last week on pregnancy and miscarriage. Apparently, my opinion is not the only one out there :). I'd like to share another person's perspective and ask you, readers, to weigh in and tell me where you stand. My guess is that most of you will not feel as strongly as either of us. But surely you have an opinion! I think it would be educational to have a candid discussion on this, since it is not a subject openly discussed (at least in my circles).

Here is the other side (and I quote):
"I guess I am strongly opinionated in the other direction. I love people to ask if I am pregnant and I love to ask others, not that I can't wait for them to tell me, I just love the conversation of pregnancy, birth-control, sex, etc. I also believe in telling people that you are pregnant right away, God rejoices in that baby the moment it is conceived why shouldn't everybody rejoice in that baby as well, even if it is only for 6 weeks? Also, having had 6 miscarriages, I can tell you from my perspective that it is better people know... I am sure many do not feel this way, but it was harder for me that people did not know that I loss that precious one, because I wanted to talk about it, but no one knew to ask. It is harder to be comforted or to even grieve when you have to tell someone "oh by the way I was pregnant and I lost it and that is why I am depressed." Certainly, there will be those with careless words, but more often then not when someone asks how your pregnancy is and you tell them you lost it, they give you a hug, tell you they are sorry, and maybe that they will pray for you. That is far more comforting then not having anyone ask about the child you love and you lost without anyone knowing."

I have my take on this, what's your take, readers? Do you consider "Are you pregnant?" acceptable or inapropriate? Or does it depend on who's asking? And what of announcing pregnancy early and possible miscarriage? Does anyone feel the same way I do, or this reader does? I understand this to be a delicate issue, and realize that people may not feel free to comment as themselves, per se. I encourage you to comment anonomously, if it means you'll comment, as opposed to not! And if you'd rather e-mail me, please do so (but keep in mind that others may be helped by your perspective, so commenting may be better). Please, share your thoughts!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Link for Moms of Three Short Ones

Until I had my third baby, I really didn't feel a severe need to find other moms to relate to. Whether women had yet to have children or had many mattered little to me as far as friendship or conversation. After the birth of Haley, I began to deal with many things, not for the first time, but in a different capacity, and began to strive to find more women who could relate in some way to the situations in which I found myself.

Enter the internet. As any mom of tiny ones can attest to, the internet is one of the most amazing inventions for stay-at-home-moms! It allows me to stay connected and have adult conversation, sometimes even every day, and sometimes even deep conversations! Without the internet, I believe I would be in a corner, babbling and drooling along with my 8-month-old by now. There is just so little opportunity or time for meanigful adult interaction in this season of life.

What I have found especially refreshing is a few blogs that I've discovered where the women are down-to-earth and don't put on airs or give the impression that they are pretending to be something they are not. I discovered one of these such blogs last fall, and lo and behold, the woman had just had her third baby a few months after I had had Haley. There is so much encouragement to be had by reading something that someone else wrote that I can relate to in so many ways. It is validating to read someone else saying it, as opposed to trying to express it myself (as my confused non-mom friend looks on with furrowed brow and nods obligatorily).

Not that I don't appreciate these friends. I believe it is especially helpful to have friends in different seasons, like I had when I was single and newly married. In fact, I believe my mothering, homemaking and wife-ing would suffer even more, were it not for all the time spent since childhood with women in different stages of life. On both sides, it can be very good. The single friend can be so helpful in ways a married-with-children friend cannot, and let's just say that spending an afternoon with a mom and her lots-o-tots can be quite eye-opening and helpful for the single or married-without-children friend! I know, and my eyes continue to be opened as I remember back to my single days and times spent with my friends-with-children these many years later. (I believe, were I to go back, I would not raise my eyebrows quite as much as I did then. ;)

But there is just something about that woman who can relate on so many levels with my same struggles. Her mutual struggle and similar situation makes me that much more apt to think of her as my friend, though we may never have met. (Casey likes to call these blog people my "imaginary friends," and he's right, to some extent, because they are by far more my friend than I am thiers. Some don't even know who I am!)

One of the blogs that I will periodically stop by has a really good post today. One that comforted and encouraged me. If you are a mom of small children, you, too, may be heartened by her post. And if you do not have three, or even one child, it may be a good post to read in order to prepare or relate to friends who are mothers. I pray either way, you will be encouraged by this woman's transparency.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Reproduction Thoughts

A recent post, which touched on a subject that Casey and I have discussed often since Haley was born, did not include much of what I had originally written. At the time, I was feeling very guilty and subsequently vulnerable, and decided to tone down my whiny and complainy post by deleting some of the information.

However, I think what I ended up communicating in that post may have been that we do not desire to have more children or that a pending decision on this subject is based solely on what we are experiencing right now. Let me clarify that neither is the case. In fact, we continue to do what we have since the beginning of our marriage. (Family planners, brace yourselves!) We have never tried or tried not to get pregnant. It works well for us, and I can honestly say that the supposedly typical fear of a woman doesn't even cross my mind: "What if I get pregnant?!" The only exception is once soon after Haley was born, and almost as soon as I thought it, I dismissed it.

It is not that we don't know "what causes this" or that we think, "Eh, it won't happen." We see in Scripture that God is the one who opens and closes the womb, and He has shown Himself faithful to us in this way. By purely scientific standards, I should be having babies about every 10 months, meaning we should be due with our seventh baby about now!

When Casey and I discuss reproduction nowadays, it is usually to share our current thoughts and feelings, not to plan or decide anything. Truth be told, if we had found out we were pregnant last month, it would have been a comfort (a reason for why I was feeling quite overwhelmed) as well as a sobering thought for the work that lies ahead (and I'm not talking labor. If it were just about giving birth, I'd gladly have another half-dozen babies.).

Anyway, we continue to do what we always have, and I actually find much comfort in it. Every month that I get my cycle back I see more as a gift from God than I would if we were somehow trying to prevent pregnancy. It would be more of an assumption: "Of course we aren't pregnant. We're not trying to be." And conversely, each time we've discovered we were pregnant, we have been overjoyed by the gift God gave us. We could have worried when we didn't get pregnant for over a year after we were married, fretted over our "infertility" struggles, and become saddened by the news of other's pregnancies and our desire for a child. (I use the term infertility facetiously. There are actually people who refer to something quantified in months as "infertility!" I can't imagine what a slap in the face it is to anyone who has truly struggled with it.) But we saw it as a true blessing that God gave us that time alone with one another. We never thought in terms of "not being able" to get pregnant, and it was healthier for mind, body and soul to not go down that path, in my opinion.

So here we are, on the other side of the spectrum, and I am reticent to take away, so to speak, that super personal, super obvious way that God has shown His care over the "smallest" things in our life together. Perhaps it is weird to hear it in these terms, but we really do feel extremely loved by God, and I'd hate to lose that (the feeling, I'm not saying we wouldn't be loved by Him, just that we would not see these clear examples in the same way). I guess I should say that I'm really talking to certain people here, and there are many people who would be baffled by the whole "driving without a seat belt" idea (which, if need be, I will gladly address this acutely ridiculous analogy) but I assume most people who read my blog can at least see my perspective, even if they wouldn't do it themselves.

As things are, we're taking it one baby at a time. We pray God will give us the faith to continue to trust Him. The fact is that He is always faithful and always good. If we decide to do something about it, the wavering will be on our side! Any decision we make on this subject would be based on a long list, which I won't include here, but may be good to write out at some point for our own review.

While on the subject, and while already expressing some seriously personal thoughts, I might as well get it all out there. I talk to an acquaintance every so often who, in the course of a five to ten minute conversation, asks me if I'm pregnant every time we talk. Among other things, I mention to her that we're not trying to get pregnant (hoping to infer that she doesn't need to keep asking). I consider the "are you pregnant?" question extremely personal and inappropriate, even (and perhaps more so) if someone is trying. My opinion is, when I am supposed to know, my close friend, acquaintance, or sister WILL TELL ME, and I will tell people when they are supposed to know as well! As opinionated as I am, one will not find me expressing a personal distaste for many things this forcefully. There are many things I don't care for that I will never blog about, but I feel so strongly about this, and don't mind saying so.

Early miscarriage is very common in general, and especially in my family. When I find I am pregnant, miscarriage is one of the items on the list of what to prepare myself for. In fact, in my pregnancies with both Ruby and Haley, things went on that caused me to wonder if I was miscarrying or would miscarry. I did not freak out about it or borrow trouble by worrying; it is just one of the things I see as a possibility, and am prepared to deal with it with each pregnancy. Because of this, Casey and I wait quite awhile to announce that we are pregnant. We usually try to wait the full 12 weeks that are recommended, but often are not able to, because it would require lying to people who ask, and I won't do that just to keep the secret.

I have qualms about announcing pregnancy right away for a couple reasons. Not that I have a problem with other people doing so, I am just not willing to do it. But I think I actually cringe when I hear people announce to the general public that they've just taken a pregnancy test and it was positive. I hear all the time, "We want people to pray, so we're telling them right away." The problem is, news of miscarriage doesn't seem to travel nearly as fast as news of pregnancy. I have witnessed more times than I care to remember the awkward exchange between the once-pregnant woman and the excited church member or out-of-the loop friend congratulating with much vigor. It is painful for the bystanders, let alone the congratulator and the woman. I don't want to put anyone in that position (which is why, when friends have told me they are "barely" pregnant, sometimes I'll ask general "How's it going?" questions and wait for them to bring it up again if we haven't talked in awhile, and if I've heard through the grapevine that someone is pregnant, I will wait to congratulate them until they tell me themselves).

The other reason has to do with boundaries. With a subject so personal as miscarriage, I would want to be choosy about who has such information right away. Call me weird, but there are people that I'd just as soon tell a few years down the road, as more an exchange of information, rather than an invitation to console me. A friend recently told me of her miscarriage, and mentioned during the conversation a few of the comments she had received from others (who meant well, I am certain). Do people seriously not know there are things you just *do not* say to a grieving person? Or could it be that it jumps out of their mouths before they give it a thought? Anyway, with such touchy subjects, I think it can be good to be purposeful about how much information is shared and with whom.