Monday, March 28, 2011

Post-it notes

Jeremy + BYU = catastrophe.  It could be because it was one of the few places I actually drove to almost daily.  During my first semester I remember locking my keys in my car time and time again and having to call my mom to come bring me a spare.  One of those times I locked my cell phone and backpack in my car as well.  I walked up to the Bean Museum and asked a lady at the desk if I could use the phone because I had locked my keys in my car.  She told me no because there were pay phones on campus.  When I explained that my backpack was in the car with my wallet she finally gave in.  My mom had me make five copies of my car key to put in every bag I owned.
On a particularly sunny spring day I was walking to the parking lot after an invigorating hour of Anthropology.  As I came around the Marriott Center and started down the hill I noticed a neon green car parked close to my own.  I wondered who had the confidence to drive that crazy looking vehicle.  I got closer to the lot and I noticed two boys doing something to the green car.  I squinted and noticed the car had an unusual texture.  A post-it note texture.  How cute!  I thought.  They're doing that cute Mormon asking-out thing where they go totally over the top go ask a girl to go ice blocking.  She was going to have a fun story to tell her roommates.

Upon further squinting and staring I realized that the bright green car was actually mine!  Poor Jeremy was be accosted by two boys and some brightly colored post-it notes.  My heart sank.  Those two boys spent so much time and effort decorating my little Corolla, and I felt mortified at the thought of having to tell them they got the wrong car.  All their hard work down the drain.

I slowed my pace, dreading the conversation I was about to have.  I walked up to the guy on the right side of the car covering my door in purple paper.  "What's going on?"  I said cautiously.  The boy on the other side of the car peaked over Jeremy's roof and I recognized him.  I had been on a date with him two days earlier.  They were trying to post-it note MY car.  Since I caught him in the act he didn't finish, but he spent about $70 on post-it notes.  Poor guy.

I got lots of honks and stares driving home.  But to the credit of the people who make post-it notes, they stuck really well and I only lost about three driving down University Avenue at 55 miles per hour.  The temperature dipped that night, and at about nine o'clock Braden and I pealed and pealed post-it notes until our fingers were sufficiently numb.  I captured these pictures beforehand:





Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Jeremy

I'm buying a new car!  Well, it's not exactly new, but it feels new to me.  My old car, Jeremy, has served me well for the past five years.  We've been through a lot together.  He was a junky little thing that my dad fixed up for his teenage drivers but became my very own.  Because Jeremy often had trouble starting, I would lift the hood and hammer the starter.  You can imagine the looks I got in parking lots across Utah County.  Sometimes people would offer help to the 5' 2" girl under the hood and sometimes they'd just stare.  Oddly enough, as my pregnant belly grew I got more stares than offers, but it was okay because I didn't need help.  I was one of the few non-mechanic people that could find the starter tucked underneath the engine deep in the belly of the car.

Jeremy was the reason I got a cell phone.  I started attending BYU in January of 2008 which happened to be a very snowy month.  I registered my car with the school but didn't receive my parking sticker in the mail by the time school began.  So, I had to park by the stadium and walk almost two miles to my first class on the opposite side of campus. . . in the snow. . . uphill. . . both ways. . . barefooted!  Okay, I had shoes, but they had holes in them and had to be removed as soon as I got to class so my socks could dry a little.

Wednesday night I had a class that ended at about 9:00 PM (Psychology, as I recall) and hiking down to my car was long and creepy.  Campus was almost deserted and the street leading down to the stadium was dark as the trees lining the sidewalks blocked out the glow of the street lamps.  My socks were soaked through and the nightly desert temperature drop was turning my toes blue.  The stadium lot was vast and empty.  My car was buried in nearly a foot and a half of snow.  I brushed off the door with my naked fingers only to find it frozen shut.  I leaned up against the seams hoping my body heat would melt the ice, which it did.  I slithered into the drivers seat and stuck the key in the ignition to start warming up the car while I brushed down the windows.  The silence pierced my soul.  I think silence is what fear sounds like.  Jeremy was dead.  And I didn't have a cell phone.

I began to panic.  Who would find me in the middle of a dark parking lot buried in snow at 9:30 at night?  I imagined sleeping in my car but feared my parents would call the police when I wouldn't come home.  I walked over to the dark Language Center and prayed a door would be unlocked.  When I found one the tense muscles running down my back relaxed slightly.  The lights were off in most of the building and I walked up two flights of stairs before finding one man who had stayed late in his office.  At first I asked if I could use his phone, but when he found out my car was dead he offered me a jump and thankfully, he had cables ('cause I sure didn't).

After the jump I headed home with a heart full of thankfulness.  While I sat at a stoplight still four miles from my house I sang along with the radio loudly.  "I'm not going to write you a love song, 'cause you asked for it, 'cause you need one. . ." (You sang that in your head, didn't you?)  And as I unassumingly belted, my car lurched forward suddenly and I felt myself jerk against my seat belt.  I looked in my review mirror only to see black, the headlights of the car behind me crunched up in my bumper.  After a split moment of body-numbing shock, I snapped back into reality.  What do I do?  All of those grueling months of Drivers Ed taught me that I should pull over so we could exchange information, make sure no one was hurt, and possibly file a police report.  The stop light turned green, I slowly pulled over to the side of the road, and the van that hit me punched the gas and sped away into the snowy night.  And I, stupid me, with my jaw on the floor watched them drive away.

My arms shook as I turned into the mall parking lot.  Drivers Ed didn't not teach me what to do if I ever had a nearly dead battery and got hit and abandoned four miles from home with no cell phone in the middle of a snow storm.  So I took some deep breaths, cried, and turned back onto State Street.  When I pulled up in front of my house I walked around to inspect my bumper.  Indented in the plastic was the license plate number of the hit-and-run van outlined in snow-melting salt.  Genius.

So, I got a cell phone, thanks to Jeremy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Three months old snapshot

Okay, so that last post was kind of a downer.  I've been having a particularly difficult time lately.  Andrea and I had a couple smooth weeks at the end of January and thought I had her all figured out so when things reverted back to no naps and hours of wailing I got really discouraged.  Monday was a hard day and daylight savings has killed our bedtime ritual.  I envy those who put their babies to bed between seven and eight because my goes to bed at one in the morning.

Tuesday morning Andrea woke up at about eight.  Usually she goes down for a nap a couple hours after she wakes up.  She needs at least an hour of sleep to wake up rested and happy.  Well, she got fifteen minutes and there was no getting her back to sleep.  I let her swing and swing and swing hoping it would make her droopy.  She started squealing like she was on a roller coaster so I tried the rocking chair and that just made her cry.  I eventually gave up on the nap and fed her again.  More play time on the floor for a hour and a half and she began to rub her eyes.  I picked her up and we began the "Let's go to sleep" dance all over again.  An hour later I sat in the rocking chair with my still wide awake baby supping from her "Hey Woman!  I'm overtired!" crying.  She sat with her back nestled up against my tummy staring at the fireplace like she'd never seen it before.  I stroked her mullet and she finally started closing her eyes.

It was such a peaceful moment and I felt joy pushing discouragement out of my soul.  As hard as being a mom is, there is nothing else I'd rather be doing.

Here's some highlights from the past couple weeks:

Last week our friends Shannon and Jeremy came to visit and they brought their new little one.  Those two are about six weeks apart and Andrea is almost four inches longer.  She's a regular string bean.
Last week I also tried to make a wheat and rice salad and I forgot I had grains cooking on the stove until I was nursing Andrea and noticed a foul odor.
Aunt Tessa picked out a new outfit for Andrea.  Hmmm. . . 
It has little ruffles on the bum!
She starting to enjoy her toys a little more.  I sing her songs like "Little Bunny Foo Foo" and use her dolly, elephant, and carrot to reenact the stories.
video
Yesterday she was having a little chat with her dolly and elephant.

Andrea has been sick this week.  She hasn't had a fever or runny nose or cough, but she has been losing her voice.  While she doesn't seem to be an any pain when she gets tired she starts whimpering as opposed to her usual wails.  It's so pathetic it's cute.  Paul and I have been calling her our pony because she is a little "hoarse."  He he he.  I know, bad joke.  Even though she's been a bit under the weather we got dressed up today for St. Patrick's Day and had a little photo shoot.  I made her a four-leaf clover bow by taking leftover ribbon from my wedding, tying two identical bows and crisscrossing them.  I think it turned out really cute!



Of course, I think she makes everything look cute.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Treading water

Swimmers have always impressed me.  I'm not a huge fan of the Summer Olympics, but I watched the year that Michael Phelps kicked serious butt.  Part of me wishes I had swimming lessons when I was small because I can't hold my breath under water without pinching my nose.  When I was in elementary school we spent our summers at the pool.  I was still pasty pale because the pool was indoors but I shouldn't complain because it probably saved me from some melanoma.  Anywho. . . I loved swimming.  I loved how light I felt in the water because feeling light was a rare but welcomed sensation for me.  Janell and I would strap on our goggles and practice underwater cartwheels and handstands.  We'd swim as close to the bottom as we could and pretend we were mermaids or Steven-eating sharks, and it was grand!  But I couldn't hold my breath without holding my nose.  Not cool.  So, my mom bought me a nose plug.  

My nose pug was marvelous, giving me all the two handed freedom I desired.  After a few hours my nose would begin to hurt and large sores formed above my nostrils.  Also not cool.  Who was I trying to impress though?  No one.  I was already bullied during the school year and boys hated me so I continued to sacrifice the beauty of my nose to our water games because it was worth it.

Then, I grew up a little.  Janell and I didn't play together like we use to.  I was embarrassed by my hot pink nose plug and I started becoming a little more self-conscious of my nose.  And like most teenagers I made the shift from playing at the pool to laying out on the hot lawn chairs sacrificing my melanoma-free skin to the sun in a desperate attempt to not be so. . . reflective.  I was grateful for mild-mannered friends who were too polite for wild splashing or dunking because I still couldn't hold my breath.

So, I never learned.  Paul tried to teach me one summer, but I nearly drowned a dozen times and needed mouth-to-mouth ;) . . . just kidding, I made that last part up. . . I got water up my nose repeatedly, which burns, and as I felt tears of frustration pooling at the corners of my eyes I declared I was giving up for the day.  When I said 'day,' what I meant was 'life.'

Now I'm three months into motherhood with a child that won't sleep.  I've read books and talked to other mothers to learn of their tips and tricks and I've tried them all!  And while Andrea is actually sleeping through the night pretty consistently now, it is only because she won't nap all day and cries and wails and sobs from about seven to ten o'clock in sheer exhaustion until she poops out during her final feeding.  I look forward to the mornings when she is cheerful and happy and I dread the afternoon and evenings as the smiley baby disappears.  It's like she can't fall asleep or stay asleep unless she is in my arms nursing.  I spent a few days being the human pacifier when she was a couple weeks old and I won't do it again.  What do I do to help this child?

I'm so exhausted, upset, ridiculously frazzled, and discouraged that everyday feels like I'm treading water.  But without knowing how to hold my breath or swim it mostly just feels like I'm drowning.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Elusive sleep

My baby is growing up too fast.  This last week she started rolling over on purpose and she is getting her first two teeth.  WHAT THE HECK?!  She is not suppose to be getting teeth yet.  Hopefully they will take their time breaking through because nursing her with teeth makes me a little nervous.  I'm trying so hard to enjoy her phases while they are occurring.  But they are passing so quickly.  What do I do?  I take pictures and videos and then I hold in my arms as I rock her every evening and marvel at what she's becoming.

video

When we play on her blanket during her play times I talk to her and she talks back.  It's like these little conversations that neither of us really understand but we both enjoy having.  She's two and a half months going on twelve.  I'm afraid if I blink I'll find myself driving her to kindergarten then sending her off to college.

But she's still not sleeping as well as I'd like.  We had three nights last week where she gave me a good eight hours, but she's not consistent.  This week we have struggled with some sleepless nights and days and I'm wearing down again.  I've spent so many tense moments putting her to bed only to have her awake and crying ten minutes later.  As worn out as becoming a mom has been physically, its spiritual toll has been my most difficult and personal battle.

I've always believed in God.  I have never doubted that He is real and involved in the lives of His children.  Since Andrea has joined our family I've spent many a night laying her down for the eleventeenth time and then pleading with my Heavenly Father to help her sleep.  I could see how tired she was and I could feel her struggling to adjust to this new world. Unable to fix her I turned to my divine resource.  When five minutes lapsed and the familiar precursor cries began to sound from the nightstand monitor I knew my answer.  It was another no.

The weeks passed by and I counted them.  One, two, three, four. . . eight, nine, ten.  And my nights drug on.  At about eight o'clock dread would creep into my soul with anticipation for another night of insomnia in my rocking chair.  And I started wondering if God was listening to me.  Because as millions of prayers for sleep ascended to heaven, millions of no's rained down and pounded my spirit with discouragement and a little doubt.  And I fought it, clinging to the testimony that had got me through so many other trails.

On Tuesday night I went to a Relief Society meeting and heard the following quote: "As the forces around us increase in intensity, whatever spiritual strength was once sufficient will not be enough." (Henry B. Eyring)

The moment I heard those words, the puzzle pieces came together and I could finally see the picture.  God answers all sincere prayers in one of two ways: our way or a better way.  I thought about the cumulative hours I'd spent in the last couple months asking for this cup to just pass from me.  I knew it would. . . Eventually, Andrea would learn how to sleep, but I wanted it to happen fast so I wouldn't have to experience the slow agony of passing this kidney stone of a trial.   But then I remembered my Savior asking for his cup to pass and receiving the same answer as me.  All along God wasn't saying "no."  He was saying, "That won't be the best thing for you."

And He is right.  I think about how much I've learned about Andrea in those long nights.  Watching and soothing and snuggling and swaddling and pacing and rocking and crying.  I know what she likes and doesn't like.  I can spot her subtle cues that others can't, and I understand her.  She came to me as a stranger and is now familiar.

However, I don't think it had to be so hard.  That's where the quote comes in.  As my life has become more complicated and my trials have increased, I haven't increased my spiritual training.  I was training for the 200 meter while being prepared for a marathon.  Heavenly Father was answering my prayers and I wasn't receiving the answer because I hadn't done my part.  My glazed-over midnight scripture study and rather disjointed and incoherent prayers couldn't give the greater spiritual results I sought.  My habits that use to be sufficient to sustain and maintain my faith and understanding were not equal to the new intensity of motherhood.

So, I'm trying to do better and I've stopped praying for her to sleep, but rather I'm asking for the strength I need to live through the experience.  And you know what?  I think I will.