28 February 2008

So, so...UBER.

I recently (um, Monday) hung out my shingle as a Reliable Data Transcriptionist. My cousin Sarah helped set me up with the University and posted flyers all over the place advertising my services. Not only that, but she already had a project lined up for me transcribing interviews for a fellow Doctoral student.

It has been uber-interesting; first of all, the general theory is that one hour of audio will take about three hours to transcribe. My first hour took more like . . . seven. I completed the transcription during three separate sleep cycles for my kids: During the first cycle, I worked for three hours and completed 19 minutes of audio. (That is definitely NOT the rate to stay at.) During the second cycle, I doubled my rate of production, and during the third, I doubled that, So things are looking up. Second of all, getting back to the uber-interesting-ness of it all, my first interview dealt with MATH. So, you know, it was right up my alley.

But you know when you get in a groove, and you just can't stop until you're done? That happened to me last night, and I ended up awake until after 1 am finishing the interview. And even after I lay down, my mind was still abuzz. I must have played 20 games of electronic solitaire before I was able to drift off.

Needless to say (but I always say it anyway), when Charis woke up at 7:30 this morning, I was not eager to get up and care for her. So, like any good, responsible parent would, I turned on PBS for her and told her to stay quiet so Mama could sleep some more. She's three, though, so not prone to being quiet for hours--or even minutes--on end, and it was not long before I was thoroughly annoyed that I had ever decided to procreate. Some minutes later, after I had caved in to her endless prattling about bagels and cream cheese and given her sustenance, I crawled back into bed, wanting to sleep for at least another century. It was at this point that my annoying child approached me.

"Hey!" she said, gently smoothing my hair and kissing my forehead. "I love you, sweetie."

I immediately swept her into my arms, smothering her with kisses and apologizing for the copious amount of TV she had been allowed to watch and the neglect she had suffered at my hand.

Or not so much. I mean, I was still really, really tired. But I was no longer annoyed, and even felt a few warm fuzzies toward the girl, which is not really a bad way to start the day after all.

23 February 2008

God's Faithfulness and Stuff

I have a lot of updates to do--namely, an update on our construction progress and, you know, updates on the kids and their growth--but the amount of pictures and editing thereof and whatnot has me feeling slightly overwhelmed. For now, I will settle for this: a post about God's faithfulness in our lives.

Well, as most of you know, Abe is in the holding pattern of seasonal layoff, and has been since the first week in December. We fortunately had a little bit of money saved, and Abe has been able to draw unemployment, but the real sustaining wonder has been God's provision through others' kindnesses. I know I've written about that before, but it is fresh in my mind, since we just received another anonymous gift yesterday. I knew what it was even before I opened the envelope, and, knowing I would certainly cry when I saw what was in it, I made Abe open it. I cried anyway.

I just finished reading the Stephen King book The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. The story is about a little girl, lost in the woods, who gets a measure of help and comfort from a vision of Red Sox pitcher Tom Gordon. Gordon is a closer, and apparently, his trademark move is to point to the sky, toward God, after a save. In the book, the little girl asks him why he does this.

"I point," he says, "because it's God's nature to come on in the bottom of the ninth."

Well, is this theologically accurate? Not completely. But it feels that way sometimes: you're hopeless, hopeless, hopeless, and then bingo--in the bottom of the ninth, just when you need it, God comes through and shows Himself in such a way that He is unmistakable. Does that mean he wasn't there until then? Absolutely not. But maybe those moments of despair make the skies a little clearer to see Him in.

I mention that to say that yesterday was feeling like the bottom of the ninth to me; we've reached the point where we've almost exhausted our savings, and we've got some big bills coming up. The really big stuff--mortgage, heat--is fine. We'll be fine for those. But our cushion is growing mighty thin, and after doing the math yesterday, I was really feeling the stress of it. And then I got the mail, and we received this anonymous gift, and it felt like God really came on. Enclosed with the gift was this tiny note:

"Please consider this a gift from the Lord!

Philippians 4:19-
And my God will meet all your needs
according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus."

Amen, right?

But wait, there's more...

We've also had some cause for concern lately related to my pregnancy. A few Fridays ago, we had an ultrasound. We were able to see our baby in 3-D, which was absolutely overwhelming and wonderful. But the technology, you see, has improved since my ultrasounds with the other two kids, and the better technology means a better look at what's really going on. Which means we have a greater chance of seeing some potentially scary stuff.

In this particular ultrasound, we saw two things we weren't expecting to see. The first, placenta previa, caught me by surprise and wasn't even a complication I'd considered. My placenta is so low-lying that it's blocking the baby's exit and may be cause for a C section. We're praying that it won't come to that, but until we see that it has moved out of the way, I am on somewhat restricted activity, which includes not picking my kids up too much (yeah, sure) and stepping away from playing volleyball. Bummer. Still, I know of several women who had a similar diagnosis and everything ended up working out just fine, so we're waiting and praying about that one.

The second thing we saw was called EIF, which is short for something that means "calcified spots on the baby's heart." Echo-something-foci. While this is not life-threatening in any way, it does double our chances of having a baby with Downs Syndrome. Other risk factors--age, family history--are in our favor, and other indicators of Downs were not present, so chances are that this will ultimately amount to just a few spots. But the possibility of raising a Downs child and all that entails is something I'm trying to prepare myself for without obsessing about it (a tall order, for sure).

In it all, God is still God. And when it all comes down to it, He has never--and will never--make a mistake. His faithfulness is great in little things like gift cards and bills, and great in big things like pregnancy. What a comfort to know that in the bottom of the ninth, and in every inning leading up to it, and even in the things after that, God is there.

18 February 2008

Sounds Just Like Her Mama

Judah was being obstinate. I had just told him No for some reason, and he was not pleased with me, so he knocked over the galvanized bucket full of matchbox cars in protest. Charis turned to him, sternly looking him square in the face.

"Judah!" She said. "You need to watch your tude-a-tude!!"

I could barely contain myself. "Charis, what did you just say?"

She glanced into space and worked it out. "Tude-a-tude. Tude-a . . . ATTITUDE! Judah, you need to watch your ATTITUDE!"

I suppose she's heard me say that a time or two . . .

07 February 2008

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night

Here's the story Charis told me at bedtime tonight:

One day, Aunt Beth went into the forest, and there were many creepy things there. She saw some pirates, and they poked her all over with their hand-hooks. She was very frightened, so she ran away from the pirates into a very small, warm cave. She stayed there until the pirates told her it was safe to come out. Then they all had a picnic and they ate turkey.

Of course, it took much longer for us to get through it when she told me firsthand, but she liked her story so much that she kept asking me to "read it again."

When I asked her to tell a story about Daddy and Judah, it was strangely similar. But instead of pirates, there were bears. And instead of one warm cave, Daddy had a big cave and Judah had a small one, and they were both very cold. She never got to the end of that story, but I think it's safe to assume that a picnic and some turkey were probably involved.

06 February 2008

The Potty Saga Continues

This time, it's Judah.

This morning, when I awoke, I turned immediately to go upstairs to use the restroom. I'm pregnant; it's what I do. Judah was already awake and greeted me as I exited the bedroom, and when I turned to go upstairs and informed him I was heading up to the bathroom, he started frantically shouting, "ME! ME! ME! ME!"

"You want to go to the potty?" I asked.

"YEAH!" he replied. And he did want to--that much was clear. He spent the next 10 minutes on the potty--a few minutes on the big one, then a few minutes on the little one, then back to the big one, and so on and so forth. He made a few mentions of what he anticipated to do on the potty, but I largely disregarded them, because the diaper I removed from him before he sat on the potties showed evidence that he was really all done in that area.

Charis came up to use the restroom herself, and Judah and I had wandered back to the little potty to sit for a spell. Then, hearing that Charis was all done, he headed back for the big potty with a determined look on his face. He clearly meant business.

I watched in horror/amusement as he quickly ran to the toilet, aimed his little self in the general direction of the bowl, and did his thing. All over the side of the toilet and the floor.

Well, at least he's got the right idea. Now we've just got to get him some shoes with lifts so his target practice can be a little more accurate!

04 February 2008

What You Want, Baby, You Got

Just a few minutes ago, Abe was out working on the addition, with the radio tuned to some radio program called "Retro Lunch." Apparently, during the lunch hour, this particular station plays retro pop favorites.

Imagine our delight that much of what is deemed "retro" was popular when we were in high school.

Anyway, I heard Abe whoop giddily, and he cranked up the volume on the radio. I immediately recognized the distinctive bass line of that oldie-but-goodie Young MC classic, "Bust a Move."

Oh, yes.

So immediately, Abe and I were transported back to our youth, and I hustled out onto the addition to have a little impromptu dance party, with the kids trailing behind me in a scene from "90s pop Pied Piper of Hamelin."

Well, normally, Charis and Judah can bust a move with the best of them. But they're never really seen us strut our stuff.

The result apparently horrified them.

Charis actually stood next to me, tugging on my shirt and softly saying, "No, mama, no." Meanwhile, Judah stood across the room next to Abe, absolutely still and transfixed by the train wreck that was his mother's dancing. We tried to encourage him to groove a little himself, but he was apparently too mortified to try.

And all I'm thinking is, if my dancing affects them this strongly when they are but mere toddlers, imagine the effect it will have when they're teenagers.

Oh, yes.

03 February 2008

3 Days, 2 Nights

. . . that's how long it has been since Charis has worn a diaper. She asked us two nights ago if she could try to sleep in her underwear, and we figured, gotta try sometime! She had already had a few successful naps sans diaper, so we knew it was becoming more and more likely she could go all night without an accident. And she did. One down, one to go! (Abe's goal is to have Judah potty trained by the end of summer. Man, wouldn't that be nice. Improbable, but nice.)