Thursday, July 19, 2007

"Norbert" Update: The Beginning of The End

Well as of yesterday, July 18th, we are only 4 weeks away from meeting our baby! I met with our midwife yesterday and we talked about labor, delivery, and "drugs" (which Jon and I are going to try to avoid as much as possible, but we're leaving the door open!). Hehehe...I just read that last sentence, and yes, Jon is also going to try to avoid using any sort of drugs while I'm in labor...! TRY!

Baby's head is already facing down and is locked into my pelvic bone (which makes for uncomfortable movement of...anything). And I'm one cm dialated (which isn't much, but I'll take what I can get!) The midwife guess-timated that "Norbert" is a little small and is probably somewhere between 5 and 5 1/2 pounds at this point, putting "him" between 7 and 7 1/2 pounds at birth.

In the meantime we just finished our "birthing classes" and we learned a great deal! But ever since then, Jon has been watching me like a ticking time bomb. Which I am, I guess. Really, baby could come at any time!! We learned that very soon before the baby comes, mom goes through a "nesting" phase where she feels a large urge to clean and organize etc. Believe me, my "to do" list keeps getting longer! But what I didn't figure in was that Jon would go through a "nesting" phase, too! I came home from grocery shopping yesterday to find our bedroom all flipped around to accommodate a "nursery corner" where my art studio used to be! (bye bye art studio...see you again when we have more space!) He even set up one of my poseable art figures to look like it was carrying a baby :) HE EVEN VACUUMED! What a man, what a man, what a mighty good man!

Well, that's my update. I do have a prayer request if you wouldn't mind bowing your heads for a minute today. I left my job at the beginning of June and so my insurance provider will be changing. However, we are waiting for our application to go through, and as you can imagine, time is running short! Jon and I have done everything we can, and so we are waiting on the Lord. God is teaching me to "be still and know that He is God" or better yet "be still and LET HIM BE GOD." I have really let go of control in this situation because there is nothing I can do to speed up the process. Please just pray with us that the application goes through and that it does so in time for the delivery! We have faith that God will come through for us!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

New Adventures in the Life of Brenda #4: God Likes to be Asked

So today Jon and I started our "express birthing classes" at the hospital where we'll deliver. This means that last night I was tearing through the office looking for the workbook and paperwork that they sent us to bring to the class. Getting frustrated with myself for once again misplacing something of importance, I chastised myself and said to God, "You must just shake your head at me with a grin on your face, huh? Will she ever learn to put things away???" It occurred to me to pray that God would help me find the workbook, but I dismissed it saying to myself, "This is my problem, and I need to take the responsibility for it." After a few more minutes of fruitless searching, I bit my lip and stuffed my pride. "I don't suppose God, that you would help me find it." I picked up my calendar and placed it in the file where it belonged; then an item behind it caught my eye. I swear I had looked over that file a thousand times but I recognized that item only after uttering that prayer not even 5 seconds before hand. Of course it was the workbook. I might have been able to dismiss it as coincidence (as I am wont to do too often, I'm sorry to say) except that I was almost STILL SAYING THE PRAYER as I found it in that file. It was like God had interrupted me and handed me the workbook! I laughed outloud and probably laughed for a good minute! It was as if God was playing a joke on me, and I felt joy and complete companionship with God as opposed to being chastised or scolded for misplacing yet ANOTHER item. I could almost hear Him say to me, "I get a kick out of you Brenda!" Can you imagine God laughing with his eyes twinkling as a Father's eyes would twinkle with his daughter?

This reminded me of C. S. Lewis's book The Magician's Nephew. Near the end of the story Aslan the Lion tells Digory to find a magic tree. On his journey Digory and his companion Jill become very hungry and they have nothing for supper. Their faithful steed Fledge the talking horse hunkers down for some grass. This is their conversation:

Polly and Digory started at one another in dismay. "Well I DO think that someone might have arranged about our meals," said Digory. "I'm sure Alsan would have, if you'd asked him." said Fledge. "Wouldn't he know without being asked?" said Polly. "I've no doubt he would," said the horse (still with his mouth full). "But I've a sort of idea that he likes to be asked."

Of course God knows our needs before we ask them. But in asking for them, we are admitting that we can't get it on our own. We are admitting that we need him. And it's his absolute delight to meet our needs and prove himself as our provider, time and time again. He met me on a small scale with that workbook. I have faith He will meet me on larger issues looming ahead of me. It's his delight to do it. I am waiting for that "big fish" to come in, and when it does, I will be posting it. It's for His own glory that He answers prayer, and so it's for his glory that I share how He has heard my cry, no matter how small and insignificant!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

There and Back Again: A Belly's Tale

Also known as our vacation through the Great Lakes and to New York City

From June 12 through the 29th, Jon and I ventured across the upper quarter of the United States in search of all things interesting (I'll mention here that we drove through Ohio doing 80 and only stopped for potty breaks).

Our tour began in Duluth along Lake Superior where we did the usual "Duluth stuff" (watching the lift bridge lift all the way for an ore shipper was pretty cool, and visiting the Army Corps of Engineers Maritime Museum).

Then, following Superior's south shore, we camped on Wisconsin's Apostle Islands, taking the ferry to Madeline Island. I impressed with the stark difference of the North Shore with the South Shore. The south shore is much sandier (no cliffs) although the sand was red from the iron deposits. From there we cut through UP Michigan and camped on the Mackinac Straits where Lake Michigan and Lake Huron meet. Mackinac Island was a bustling town void of "horseless carriages" and full of 19th Century charm. If you were to paint a picture of what you thought a bed and breakfast in a Victorian mansion with 100-year-old lilac TREES in the front yard looked like, you'd be looking down the streets of Mackinac. And fudge shoppes galore (to the exquisite delight of this pregnant lady!)

I'll take this moment to mention that even though we camped for about half the trip, the baby and I did very well! I was surprised how comfortable the air mattress was. For all you camping buffs out there, yes, we DID bring an air mattress and inflated it in our tent. But I don't want to hear any guff from you. Let's see how well YOU do sleeping on the ground with a 5 lb baby swimming inside of your belly! And a special "Thank You" to our friends the Charlebois-es who lent us those very camping chairs you see in the picture! Without them, I would have had a butt full of sand.

From Mackinac we followed the south shore of Huron and camped another night at Bay City, MI. We had interesting (and very talkative) neighbors at this site. I hope we were able to leave them with the hope and love of Jesus! Then we crossed over into Canada (where I was brutally attacked by a kamikaze butterfly who dive-bombed in through my open car window). We hid the apples and oranges under the trail mix and Tostidos and off we drove to Toronto where Jon received a wonderful first father's day present from God!! Upon arriving at our hotel, we noticed that our hotel was not next to, but ATTACHED and A PART OF the Skydome, excuse me, Roger's Stadium. The front desk lady asked if we had tickets for the Blue Jays game that evening. "No," we replied. "Well, I'll just upgrade your room so you can see the game, no extra charge!" Wait a minute...see the game? What was she talking about? Well, if you know your baseball stadiums, you would know that the Skydome has hotel rooms that look out over Center Field!! AND THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT WE HAD! A room that looked over Center Field! So we watched the Blue Jays play that night for free! (who cares if they played the boring Nationals...!) Here's Jon enjoying the game from our field-view balcony!!

We could see most of Ontario (and almost to Niagara Falls) from the top of the CN Tower, and we also visited China Town in Toronto. After only one day in Canada we left for Niagara Falls! This is probably one of my favorite sights of the trip! Sure, when you think of Niagara Falls you think of a beautiful waterfall where everyone gets married or takes their honeymoon. Well, there's a reason for that! Seeing and FEELING Niagara Falls was amazingly powerful and you can't help but be in awe of our great God for such a creation!! We walked over into Canada and ate lunch at a revolving restaurant which towered over both American Falls and Horseshoe Falls. We definitely splurged on that meal!!! And those silly Canadians made us pay 50 cents each to get through the turnstile to leave Canada. Good thing we didn't blow ALL of our Canadian money on that $4 icecream bar...

Then we plunged down into upstate New York where we camped 2 nights near Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame! We spent the better part of a day slowly meandering our way through the hall, but only after we had fulfilled my intense craving for donuts. Mmm...donuts...

From there we drove into the City of New York. We went over the directions about a hundred times and although Jon looked and acted comletely calm as he drove through Manhatten, Queens, and finally Brooklyn (where our friends live) he confessed later that he felt white-knuckled and pushed around...not unlike what he felt as he crossed into Iraq. Ah, I'm glad NYC could bring Jon back to his fond memories of Iraq. We stayed with long-time friends Barbara and Chad Lawson in Brooklyn and met their rambunctious doggie Charlie. That first day in the city was Jon's birthday. After Barbi cooked us delicious ribs and corn bread with chocolate/caramel cake for his birthday dinner, we took them out to a Mets game. And WHO were the Mets playing on Jon's birthday you ask???? THE MINNESOTA TWINS!!!! We got all dressed up in our Twins garb and took the metro to Shea Stadium. And as a birthday present, Santana pitched a shutout and the Twins won 9-0!! We were stoked! New York was a blur of amazing sights, like the Empire State Building, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Museum of Natural History, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (aka The Met), and very, very swollen feet :) We even got to spend an evening with our good friend Mike Kurland who is going to school in New Jersey. To cap off the City, Barbi and Chad took us out to an Italian place that only the locals know (so it was affordable!) where we enjoyed a delightful, relaxing candle-lit meal! We were very impressed with New York and especially with New Yorkers! The Mets fans were gracious, transit-riders ALWAYS gave up their seat for my belly, and everyone was willing to help you if you had a question! People even asked if they could take a picture for us and didn't steal our camera! We were quite blessed :)
After New York brought a guy peeing on the New Jersey turnpike...that's all we had hoped for from New Jersey anyway. We saw the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia (a beautiful city) and ate Philli Cheesesteaks for lunch. We didn't get to see the inside of Independance Hall, but we are already planning a trip back to Phili with our kids when we see Washington DC. Pennsylvania brought us to Gettysburg (where we camped again) and the next day we camped on the very edge of the border at Raccoon Creek State Park...known for its raccoons aparently. We didn't know, although the name should have given it away. It was there that our garbage bag was stolen and the bandit that thiefed it made off into the woods, only to be heard fighting with other furry friends over its contents. Too funny :)

On the return trip we stayed with my half-brother and his family in Indianapolis. It was great seeing their boys, especially since I hadn't met their youngest. We loved spending the day with them, seeing Connor Prairie (a working prairie town where Jenny works part-time) and playing with the boys. We both feel a little more ready for kids after spending a few days with them!

We saw my dearest friend Emily Lloyd up in northern Indiana (Amish country, donchaknow) before driving onto Chicago. We saw Chicago in one about exhausting!!! We went up in the ferris wheel at the Navy Pier, Norbert beat Jon and I at Mini Golf, then we walked through Grant's Park on our way to the Field's Museum (where we spent almost the entire time in the ancient americas FASCINATING!) and the Aquarium (where we swooned over the Balugas! Baby Baluga in the deep blue sea...swims so wild and he swims so free!) From there we sought out some Chicago-style pizza. We just happened to stumble on the best pizza in the City, Giorgiano's just down the street from the Sears Tower. We ate until cheese dripped down our chins!!! Then we topped off the evening with a view of the night-time skyline from the Sears Tower. It was definitely a packed day!

We drove through Wisconsin and cheered when we reached the Minnesota border! We took 61 up through Redwing where we stopped for lunch and the waitress asked us if we wanted any "tooooooooooooooast" with our "dinner." YES! It feels so good to be home :)

Friday, July 6, 2007

Baby's got personality!

As of yesterday, I can say that my baby could beat me up. Little Norbert is head down, ready to launch out the chute, which puts his bony butt just to the side of my inside-out bellybutton and his legs and feet floating around the sides. Yesterday he started what I would call abuse. There I was, innocently putting on my make-up when JAB JAB!!! Double kick to the ribs!

"Ouch!!" I yell dropping my brush.
"Ow!! Honey!" I clutch my side trying to find the little foot that's doing all the damage.
"What?" Jon answers from the office.
"YOUR baby is beating me up!" JAB JAB JAB JAB!!!!
Jon lightly pats the bony protrusion in my belly. "Don't hurt mommy!"

Norbert eventually settled back down. But that night we went to go meet cousin Aryn and Uncle Matt and Aunt Julie. We watched the Minnesota Orchestra play at Plymouth Creek Park followed by fireworks. Well, the baby did just fine during the recorded "cannons" for the 1812 Overature, but when the REAL cannon went off to announce the beginning of the fireworks, Norbert got scared! He jumped with all limbs flailing, hitting all sides of his little cocoon. We knew that babies in the womb could hear outside noises if they were loud enough to drown out my heartbeat and digestive noises, and that they could feel pain around 24 weeks, and they could even show discomfort and grimaces at situations they don't like. But I didn't know they could be startled! I hugged my tummy, trying to hold back my laughter (to no avail) and spoke soothing words I knew baby could hear. I hope this doesn't mean baby will be afraid of loud noises, now. I sure like fireworks!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Bush and Putin: By Jon Gill

This weekend, news was all over the story of Bush and Putin getting together for talks. It seemed this was prompted by Putin, and that even Bush didn't really know what the purpose of the talks was. Today, I found the answer in a headline:

"Bush and Putin meet to discuss ties"

While this seems like a silly thing to travel thousands of miles for (I have done that flight, and east-to-west it's 9 1/2 hours), I understand the importance of good relationships within one's occupation. Since being president is a bit more global of an occupation than my own (bartending), I can see that it would take great measures to ensure that relationships are kept up. Still, you think they would discuss other fun things, like sports or hobbies, instead of their ties. Here is my idea of a fun conversation on ties:

Bush: "Hey Vlad, that's a kickin' tie you got there. Whaddya call that color?"
Putin: "You probably could not pronounce what we call it, but I think it translates to 'Cornflower Blue' in your country. It is Chinese silk, and it cost 3 million barrels of oil."
Bush: "Cool. I got this one in West Virginia. Flea markets are great. Not too keen on China. Love oil though."
Putin: "I think I have seen you wear this tie before."
Bush: "Oh yeah, I wear it all the time. This is my 'Hello America, do you feel safe?' tie. See? It's patriotic - got the red, the white, and the blue right in there, like our flag."
Putin: "My flag is also white and red and blue."
Bush: "No kiddin'? Cool."

Perhaps the headlines, which have been thin lately, will keep us updated on more presidential conversation pieces in the near future. I would love to see what Hugo Chavez thinks about NASCAR. I'm sure George would too.

Bush and Putin put aside their differences and their ties for the sake of occupational friendship and politeness.