Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Before and Afters of a Humbling Cleaning Day

Something To Do...
There’s work for the hand and there’s work for the heart,
something to do, something to do;
and each should be busy performing his part,
there’s something for all to do
The sick must be soothed and the hungry be fed,

something to do, something to do;

The naked be clothed and the erring be led,

there’s something for all to do.

The Master says “work” and has shown us the way,

something to do, something to do;

He says “not tomorrow the time is today”

there’s something for all to do.

There’s work for for the aged

and work for the young,

there’s work for us all

and excuses for none;

There’s work for the feeble and work for the strong;

there’s something for all to do.

Learning To Live With A Small House

You know your house is too small when...

  • You store strollers and sleeping bags and extra jackets in your vehicle because there's no other place in the house (besides the living room floor)
  • You dread going to the grocery store because you know that even with bare cupboards at home, there will still not be enough room for a week's worth of groceries in your kitchen
  • You have to try to remember what color your counter tops are because you rarely see them anymore
  • You use your oven to store pots, pans, cookie sheets, frying pans, canned food, bread, chips, cereal and leftover baked goods
  • You drive by simple ranch style houses and see them as mansions
  • You wonder what it would be like to store extra clothes, sewing projects, Christmas decorations and all your extra baby furniture somewhere IN your house without it being in the way
  • You stack storage items in your closets from the floor clear to the ceiling
  • You never stock up on anything anymore -- even extra bars of soap would cause a catostrophic event in your bathroom.
  • You have to store matches in your knife drawer because there is simply no other place to put them
  • You keep a 20lb bag of potatoes and your husband's lunch box on the dining room floor
  • You'd have to give your couch away in order to have room for a Christmas tree
  • And worst of all, no matter how much you clean, your house never stays clean

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Way Of A Man With A Maid

Tomorrow (the 24th) marks 4 years since Toby and I were engaged. I always get rather nostalgic around this anniversary, reflecting on all the things that happened then and have occurred since.

I think back farther and re-contemplate our courtship days. You know all the legalities and logistics for "Biblical" courtship, etc. I have to smile when I realize through the words of a friend that dating/courtship/betrothal are all a terminology thing: eventually they all lead to marriage.

Contrary to unfortunate popular thinking, there are no rules or commands given in the Bible in regards to "courtship." There are instructions on purity and holiness but no rule list for courtship. There are also Old Testament examples of betrothal and marriage but we forget that the practice there was strictly cultural. If we're supposed to follow that tradition then we should also follow the rest of the Judaic law and traditions. When it comes to "Biblical Courtship," I often wonder why people tag Biblical on it considering it is only a nice idea and seems like something God should've written Himself or approved.

Don't think I'm giving unmarried couples keys to immorality or unaccountable promise making between them and a prospective partner. It is not right to flippantly bounce around in a relationship and neither is it right to not guard yourself in the physical department in regards to purity before marriage. But I still strongly believe that courtship is never a "7 Step Principle" that more than one couple can follow. It's a custom made adventure for every individual person.

I know of many couples who followed strict rules handed down to them by self-appointed courtship leaders who somehow managed to make laws and bylaws of this God ordained relationship. Outings were strictly governed, inches were implemented between the betrothed and communication was strictly shared only through parents or some other form of healthy filter.

Many of those relationships end in frustration. Not all end, but many do. There is too much emphasis put on doing this thing ultra godly but when it comes right down to it, it ends up being a confusing mess and completely man-made.

The potential groom is dating his future father-in-law and the dear bride is getting to know her father better. Or, the couple is limited to mere chit-chat and short visits involving no in depth mutual sharing of hearts and minds in regards to marriage issues. There is no simple trust put in God; it's all confined in a certain little box called: Biblical Courtship Standards. I find it funny that many of these people say they're trusting God but I wonder how they can truly do that when they stick to strict check lists that they made and take long periods of time to learn every in and out of the potential in-law.

Ironically enough, even the name tagged to the "type" of relationship a couple is in seems to determine the level of purity between the lovers. But that isn't always the case.

I was surprised after moving to another state and Church and I learned that the pre-engagement time of sincere young people seeking God's will in my new Church surprisingly called their relationship dating. When you mentioned courtship, they looked at you funny. There was honestly no connection between that word and the meaning of what many conservatives define courtship as.

But when you observed a little longer and found out the details of their relationship, you realized that even though they were dating, they weren't immoral, they weren't spending hours alone together in dark cars and they were even saving their first kiss for the wedding day.

And they call this dating?! Another example of the fact that this is a terminology thing: Marriage.

There's also a misconception that a couple shouldn't start courting unless they know that it's God's will for them to get married. Why court then? If that was truly the point of courtship, then why doesn't the couple just get married right up front? Courtship is a time for the couple to find out IF they're compatible for marriage. The last part of the definition here couldn't say it better:
  • Courtship
    n : a man's courting of a woman; seeking the affections of a woman (usually with the hope of marriage)

I've come to the conclusion that there simply is no benefit in pushing one's own standards of courtship on other people. If it worked for one couple great, but personalities, geography, characters, age, and many other aspects need to be considered when implementing a one-size-fits-all mentality in regards to courtship.

This topic is important to me because of what I learned through this special time in my life. I should mention that I had many ideas and plans before I met Toby in regards to courtship. Equally so, he had many details that he thought were important. By bringing two separate individuals together, we had to mesh ideas into one plan.

Now for our story...

One thing that we both automatically did was call our relationship courtship. So, that's why I refer to our pre-engagement relationship as courtship because of the way it just went for us. But when I'm talking to people who refer to courtship as dating, I have no problem calling the relationship that we had, dating. The name doesn't change anything.

We lived 8 1/2 hours apart. The bulk of our communication during courtship was done on email. We spent many hours visiting on the phone after our engagement. When Toby came and visited me, we had time alone to visit, catch up and get to know each other better. We spent hours sharing ideas, thoughts and preferences that we would've otherwise been hindered to share if other people would've been with us.

Equally so, we as a couple spent a lot of time with family members when Toby was visiting. Understandably, most of those times of visiting were spent chit-chatting and held no foundation to our marriage. As a couple, we were thankful for those opportunities to share time with others but if the bulk of our time would've consisted mainly of chit-chat, it is understandable to assume that we would've had a limited understanding of each other. Of course you can do all this communication after marriage but what is the purpose of the engagement period if you don't have opportunities to show interest and share ideas in each other as you plan your marriage together?

Toby's folks are missionaries overseas and because of their mission plans, our wedding date was determined by that. Seriously, we had 3 weekends to choose from. Or our other option was to wait an indefinite amount of time. Considering the fact that Toby would've had an uncertain place of residence and would've lived alone or lodged with a friend for the entire time, our parents and us felt it wasn't wise to hold off the wedding.

Toby held a very steady and reliable job, was financially stable and we had his folks' house available immediately for us to rent from the land owners. Had Toby stayed single, both he and his folk's doubted that the house would've been available for him to rent alone considering he was a bachelor and the landlord was pretty picky when it came to tenants. (We all know how rough old bachelors can be. :) )

All these details played into the duration of our premarriage days. It was ironic to think that situations beyond our control like this were enforcing when our wedding day would be. It just went to show that it was perfect timing as to when we met and when the Lord led our hearts together in love. And then what followed as the wedding day arrived.

Since that cold, beautiful, fateful day in February, we both have grown so much in the understanding of marriage and love. As single youth, we both read all the courtship/dating books, many courtship/dating stories and more courtship vs. dating articles than we could count. Ironically, many of those pieces of reading are authored by both young and old, unmarried people. I wonder how this delicate issue of love can be rightly handled and determined by those whom have had no first hand experience with it.

As we approach the anniversary of the beginning of our love, I'm reminded again that love is such a journey. I would've never thought that the love we had back then could actually get better. And definitely not this much better. Even with the strain of change, moves, children and occupations, it still grows dearer everyday. But, I guess when you marry the one you love and love the one you marry, it can only get better.

Equally so, even the truest, deepest and tenderest love isn't always the fairy tale experience we assume it should be. In case all you young lassies think that all men are always the remember-every-little-detail-of-everything-ALL-the-time kind of lovers, don't set your hearts on such lofty ideas. To prove my point, ask Toby when our engagement anniversary is.

At least he knows when our wedding anniversary is and that I like cream and sugar in my coffee. I love you honey!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

On Morning Sickness, Watermelon and Naked Juice

A good day yesterday made me think that maybe I might be normal again someday.
  • I took a shower and spent half the time just smelling the soap (usually, I hate the smell of any soap)
  • I got dressed AND fixed my hair all on the same day
  • I fried myself an egg for breakfast
  • I shopped at three different stores that sold food
  • I was away from home for all of 4 hours
  • I never had to take a nausea pill
  • I only brushed my teeth twice the whole day (usually it's a lot more than that)
  • I made Toby steak for supper and even seasoned it well myself
  • I sampled food and drinks at Sam's club
  • I didn't nap in the afternoon
  • I organized an entire food cupboard in my kitchen
  • I changed a wet diaper
  • I wore a maternity shirt just for fun
  • And I stayed up way too late

If you're wondering what I usually do on a 1st trimester pregnancy day, my schedule consists of simply eating, sleeping and being merry. Being merry is the most important because attitude is everything. Right?

I tried two new things yesterday that I think may have helped the nausea ease off: watermelon and Naked Red Machine juice. Both of those have something in them that's known to ease morning sickness. The 1 qt. juice jug alone has 2lbs. of fruit in it. And no preservatives or additives. It's like a delicious and nutritious home-made fruit smoothie in a bottle but without the mess. (Thanks Wissmanns for the tip on watermelon! I have to wonder if it indeed is miracle food.)

I also read in a pregnancy article that typically, morning sickness peaks in the 9th week. And that's right where I am. So, I have to wonder and have even let myself hope a little that perhaps I am seeing the end to this tunnel.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Do they allow dolphins in hospitals yet?

I've done a water birth before the but the thought of sharing it with a mammal of any kind is just not my style. I don't need a dolphin to divert my mind from the pain, thank you. This news clip is worth the read just for kicks...

Dolphins to help out in Underwater Childbirth in Israel

EILAT (AUG. 3) DPA - A school of dolphins will play a key role in a revolutionary childbirth technique to be pioneered in a Red Sea bay off the coast of Eilat in southern Israel, local press reports said Monday.

The project is the brainchild of French and British scientists who researched the therapeutic powers of dolphins and noticed their extraordinary cooperation when a baby dolphin is born.
Six British mothers-to-be were due to arrive in Israel in September, a month before their schedule delivery date, to test whether the dolphins will be as much help in human births.

The women are scheduled to swim daily in the Dolphin Reef to create a bond with the friendly sea-mammals. The birth will take place inside a special perspex tank underwater which will allow the women to touch and stroke the dolphins during labour in order to divert their minds from the pain.

The women will be accompanied by a full medical team which will also set up a highly sophisticated maternity hospital on the shore in case of complications, the Ma'ariv daily reported.

Also part of the entourage will be film and press crews from England where detailed coverage of the experiment is planned.

News link here

Baby News

At 9 weeks pregnant, we heard our baby's heartbeat! 182 BPM came through nice and clear and it sounded so precious.

Our baby is only the size of an olive. Can you imagine how tiny the actual heart must be?

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Please Pray

We just learned that Toby's mom is very sick with Typhoid fever. Considering the fact they are down in Haiti in a rather remote place, medical attention is pretty sparse. She does have the antibiotics needed to get over this illness but she's already been on them the minimal amount of time advised in order to see results and she is getting no better.

Please pray for her full recovery and that her health would be restored. Also, pray that no one else will get it. Typhoid is pretty contagious and the fact that they have no hot water nor do they live in real sanitary conditions, the fever can spread faster.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

On Brains And Babies

I told Toby this morning that until now, our baby didn't have a brain.

"I know how much it means to you that our baby gets a good brain so I thought you'd like to know that it's getting one right now," I informed him.

"I wonder what it's thinking?" Was his teasing response. "Man, it feels warm in here."

Only Toby.

pregnancy calendar

Friday, November 03, 2006

An Undecisive Mind?

I was doing some breastfeeding research for a friend and came upon this site here. I had to smile when after reading the descriptions and implications of each product that increased milk supply, I got down the line and found a product that reduced it.

What made me smile was when I remembered that when I first have a baby, I need the milk reducer (I usually have enough milk for triplets). After several months of nursing, I eventually need the milk inducer.

Even with breastfeeding, a woman's body just can never make up it's mind.

I Can't Help I'm Norwegian

There is nothing worse than getting hit by a pregnancy craving that falls severely in an "Ethnic Food" category. Especially when it's Scandinavian ethnic food. Even more tragic is the fact that most of the ethnic foods near us are Mexican, Chinese, Italian and Mexican, Chinese, Mexican, Italian and Chinese.

And as hard as I try, I am not appetized by egg rolls or spanish rice. Or even pizza.

The other day, I was dreaming heavenly visions of Lefse (I better hyperlink that word for those of you who aren't blessed with a Scandinavian heritage as I am.)

I recollected over past holiday seasons when I'd go holiday shopping and would search in the dairy departments of the local supermarkets for the necessary means to truly celebrate the season with: Lefse.

Imagine my dismay when I could find none that first year. I just assumed they hadn't gotten the shipment in.

A week later, I returned and scrounged around the store. Nothing.

Thanksgiving was coming so close, how could the lefse not be in yet? Their turkey bins were full and the yam cart was heaping, hams were on sale and cranberries decked the fruit aisle. But no lefse.

What is wrong with this store? I wondered.

I finally asked a store worker.

"Do you guys have your lefse in yet?"

"Excuse me," she said, putting down her box of packaged goods she was unpacking and stepped closer so she could find out if I was speaking English.

"Your lefse... is it in yet?" I innocently said.

"Ah.... what was that you said?" she politely asked again.

"Lef - SA." I repeated. The look on her face made me wonder if she thought I said a bad word.

"What is... Leee... that?" She asked.

She couldn't even say the word.

I explained that it was similar to a tortilla only made with potatoes.

"How do you spell it?" Was her curious response.

"L-E-F-S-E," I said.

By now I could clearly tell that this lady had no idea WHAT lefse was. I also knew there was none in the store. Hopelessly, I despaired that we would have to endure a lefse-less holiday.

"Hmmm, never heard of it before," she said, still curious at this mysterious food item that was supposedly sold in some grocery stores.

"Well, it is a Norwegian food so maybe that's the problem," I said.

She immediately assured me that this was a highly populated German town and hardly does one ever see a Norwegian.

I wanted to say that since she was looking at a Norwegian right then, that should warrant enough reason for her store to sell lefse.

Instead, I thanked her for her help and she thanked me for the education in lefse. I could tell it was something still rolling around in her head as she distractedly went back to stocking her shelves.

Later that holiday season, I enjoyed the tradition of eating lefse at my parents' home in Wisconsin. They may have lots of snow up there, but at least they have lefse . Unlike balmy Nebraska with tons of wind and no true holiday treats in the form of a potato flat bread.

A couple years later, I was again looking towards the holidays with joy. Of course by then, I had succumbed to the fact that lefse was truly a very special food and only made and sold in special places. And obviously, only special people seemed to enjoy eating it.

But, a turn of events unfolded and surprised me with lefse in my own Nebraskan home through the entire holiday season. Read the story here. I still smile when I think of how that happened.

Back to this holiday season.

Recently, I was despairing that there was nothing for this sick, pregnant mom to eat. Suddenly, I had a vision of lefse. Oh dear... here we go again. Another unquenched pregnancy craving.

I went online and surfed lefse sites. Lena's Lefse, Mrs. Olson's Lefse, Jakob's Lefse, lefse.com, etc. teasingly danced across my screen. How could it be that they were all located in the frigid north, nestled in Scandinavian sounding towns that were surely fragranced with burning wood stoves and tantalizing smoke houses wafting on the northern breeze? I could just hear the Norwegian accents as I read their sites about the lefse products they had to sell.

As I continued to despair, I searched aimlessly in the local phone book under "ethnic food" and "Scandinavian" and "Norwegian." Our largely populated town surely had to have at least one Scandinavian shop listed in it's larger-than-Websters-Dictionary-size phone book.

But there were no friendly titles that would've depicted the guarantee of a Norwegian greeting when you stepped through the ringing door....

"Hell-oah there-ah!"

"Do you have lefse?" I could ask.

"YAAAH sshhhuuurrre!! You-ah betch-ya!" Would come the automatic response.

I was so desperate for lefse by this time that I would've paid to even smell lefse.

That night I mentioned to Toby that I had another pregnancy craving.

He just rolled his eyes and said, "Yeah, I know... Olive Garden?" As if there could be nothing more out of this world than Olive Garden's spendy menu.

"Nope," I assured him.

His eyebrows raised and he looked at me curiously.

"Lefse," I said watching as the infamous 5-letter word hit his ears and he remembered that his Norwegian wife is living in a strange place in a strange land with no lefse.

"Oh, well... there's nothing you can do about that," he answered re assuredly, as if by reminding me that since there was absolutely no lefse around here, I could immediately delete the pregnancy craving as one would delete a file on their computer.

"I know," I said, "I checked all over the phone book thinking there would be at least one Scandinavian shop or restaurant but there's nothing." I reminded him that we live in the land of the Mexican and Chinese so there were only Mexican and Chinese restaurants around....

"Accept for one Israeli restaurant," I said. "Jerusalem Cuisine."

"That's interesting," he replied over his book.

"But why Honey, would they have a restaurant like THAT but not a Scandinavian one?"

"Well, because there's no Scandinavians around here," was his wise answer.

Then I informed him that one place around here does have lefse: THE INTERNET.

"You can buy it online?" He asked me.

"Yes... And they ship it right to your door," I told him, as if the shipping right to your door feature was extraordinary.

"Well, then order some lefse," he said with a tone that made me think that he was wondering why I had made such an ado over something that could be easily fixed.

"I can but with shipping and a good sized order, it would be about..." and I mentally calculated the cost before coming up with a total.

Being the all wise and thinking man my husband is, he informed me that an order of lefse would cost less than a meal at Olive Garden. He assured me it was well worth it. (He's a pretty nice guy... even if he isn't Norwegian.)

So, I went online, found a site that offered free shipping and made the final sale of my prize purchase over half the price of what a meal at Olive Garden is.

In three days, I will have lefse at my door. Truly a miracle when you live in Nebraska.

Some Kids...

"Landon, do you love Mommy?" I asked my charming little boy just after feeding him a sandwhich for lunch.

"Hmm, hmm..." he answered with a sweet smile through a bite of bread.

"Is Mommy your favorite?" I teasingly asked him thinking that since he loved me, he would surely like me enough to call me his favorite.

"No, Brinney is my favorite," he said, informing me of his heart's true love.

"Well, are you Mommy's boy?" I asked, hoping for at least some place in his heart.

"No, Daddy's my boy," he answered confidently and then he offered some more heart breaking information, "And Levi's my buddy."

"Landon," I made one last attempt. "Who am I?"

"Mommy," was his reply.

"I'm just Mommy?" I ask desperately.

"Yeah," he said and then grinned, "Don't be silly!"

I guess there are no places left in his little heart: I am just the Mom.