It's Happening Again

I'm losing my behind. It happened with Cora, too. Lots of throw up, less junk to fill the trunk. My jeans are kind of sad.

PS: I watched Julie and Julia for the first time tonight. I loved it. Mmm, Butter.

Letter from Jesus about Christmas --

Okay, I hardly ever read forward emails, but I read this one, and I'm so glad I did. Glad enough to skip over in-boxes allover and post it directly on my blog. Muah-haha. Thanks, Teri.

Dear Children,

It has come to my attention that many you are upset that folks are taking My name out of the season. Maybe you've forgotten that I wasn't actually born during this time of the year and that it was some of your predecessors who decided to celebrate My birthday on what was actually a time of pagan festival. . . although I do appreciate being remembered anytime.

How I personally feel about this celebration can probably be most easily understood by those of you who have been blessed with children of your own. I don't care what you call the day. If you want to celebrate My birth, just GET ALONG AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

Now, having said that let Me go on. If it bothers you that the town in which you live doesn't allow a scene depicting My birth, then just get rid of a couple of Santas and snowmen and put in a small Nativity scene on your own front lawn. If all My followers did that there wouldn't be any need for such a scene on the town square because there would be many of them all around town.

Stop worrying about the fact that people are calling the tree a holiday tree, instead of a Christmas tree. It was I who made all trees. You can remember Me anytime you see any tree. Decorate a grape vine if you wish: I actually spoke of that one in a teaching, explaining who I am in relation to you and what each of our tasks were. If you have forgotten that one, look up John 15: 1 - 8.

If you want to give Me a present in remembrance of My birth here is my wish list. Choose something from it:

1. Instead of writing protest letters objecting to the way My birthday is being celebrated, write letters of love and hope to soldiers away from home. They are terribly afraid and lonely this time of year. I know, they tell Me all the time.

2. Visit someone in a nursing home. Not just during Christmas time, but all through the year. You don't have to know them personally. They just need to know that someone cares about them.

3. Instead of writing the president complaining about the wording on the cards his staff sends out this year, why don't you write and tell him that you'll be praying for him and his family? Then follow up. It will be nice hearing from you again.

4. Instead of giving your children a lot of gifts you can't afford and they don't need, spend time with them. Tell them the story of My birth, and why I came to live with you down here. Hold them in your arms and remind them that I love them.

5. Pick someone that has hurt you in the past and forgive him or her.

6. Did you know that someone in your town will attempt to take their own life this season because they feel so alone and hopeless? Since you don't know who that person is, try giving everyone you meet a warm smile; it could make the difference.

7. Instead of nit picking about what the retailer in your town calls the holiday, be patient with the people who work there. Give them a warm smile and a kind word. Even if they aren't allowed to wish you a "Merry Christmas" that doesn't keep you from wishing them one. Then stop shopping there on Sunday. If the store didn't make so much money on that day they'd close and let their employees spend the day at home with their families

8. If you really want to make a difference, support a missionary-- especially one who takes My love and Good News to those who have never heard My name.

9. Here's a good one. There are individuals and whole families in your town who not only will have no "Christmas" tree, but neither will they have any presents to give or receive. If you don't know them, buy some food and a few gifts and give them to the Salvation Army or some other
charity which believes in Me and they will make the delivery for you.

10. Finally, if you want to make a statement about your belief in and loyalty to Me, then behave like a Christian. Don't do things in secret that you wouldn't do in My presence. Let people know by your actions and words that you are one of mine.

Don't forget; I am God and can take care of Myself. Just love Me and do what I have told you to do. I'll take care of all the rest. Check out the list above and get to work; time is short. I'll help you, but the ball is now in your court. And do have a most blessed Christmas with all those whom you love and remember:

On Being Pregnant

Today marks 12 weeks and 1 day. Yippee! It would be even more exciting if the throw up part was over. I felt better at 16 weeks with Cora. 4 more weeks of this? I'm prepared, sort of. In the beginning of all of this, I told Jake I couldn't wait to adopt the rest of our children.

I had an appointment with my OB yesterday, my fourth one, I feel so spoiled. It was mostly to make sure she was comfortable with my weight. We got to listen to Indee's heartbeat, and it was terrific. Much longer than last time. Every time I go in, she (my OB) says I'm having a boy. Maybe it's a natural reaction. One girl must mean one boy is on the way. I still want to call him* a he.

I haven't really had any cravings. I buy some things, and then open them and want nothing to do with them. Nothing ever sounds good. Except for a meatball sub a few weeks ago. I can't wait to have an appetite again. And to like milk again. Oh how I've missed cereal, even though the very thought of it does something funny to my tummy. Life without cereal is weird. Gum is a lifesaver. I chew it all the time to keep a nice even flavor in my mouth.

My dreams have been vivid and crazy. Two nights ago, I dreamed I was in jail and they were about to confiscate my Peppermint Extra. It was a nightmare. The worst part (worse than no gum?) was that I could only talk to Jake and Cora through the glass and phone thing. Not being able to touch my babies. I think there were real, non-dream, tears involved. Last night I dreamed about some monsters, a boy and girl, er, man and woman monster. The girl monster lived in a cottage on a hill. The boy monster was in love with her, and he went that night to kiss her, which would break the monster spell. Some villagers were making their way up the hill, and the girl monster went to go stop them, they didn't know boy monster was at the cottage, nor that he could break the spell and end the oppression they'd inflicted upon girl monster. He hid in the cottage, and turned all the lights out. He couldn't get one of the lights was attached to her alarm clock. He hid it under the covers, where he was hiding too. It was hot with the light under the covers. I was even breaking a sweat. All of the sudden girl monster burst through the door, you could hear the villagers behind her. She came in and planted a kiss on boy monster. Then I woke up, so I didn't get to see how fabulous they became and how they put the villagers in their place...which I'm sure is what happened.

A Name.

After my last post, I received several suggestions on what I should temporarily name this little fetus o' mine. There was one that extra grabbed my attention. It was presented by my lovely friend, Emily. We met in high school, and she has always been one of the nicest people I know. When my too-long boyfriend and I broke up my junior year, she let her then-boyfriend, Michael (also my friend), take me out on a friendly dinner movie date. All went well until we got to the movie and I saw my no-longer boyfriend's car in the parking lot. I was certain he was there with a girl. The girl (who I love) he started dating before we were officially over...who he was taking out on a date the night he dropped off a break up letter on my doorstep (she was in the car AND my mom was out of town).

Anyway, I saw his car, parked mine, got out, and threw up in the lot. I felt horrible as I'd just had a great dinner on my friend's token, and there he was patting me on the back as I tossed it all. It seems so silly now, and I got over him relatively quickly (though I was still in high school and he liked to date my friends so drama persisted with him all my days at Apache Junction High)...but the thought of being replaceable before I was ever really out of the picture...that is one of the worst feelings.

That was a tangent, but a little back story and example to help give a little glimpse of how important Emily has been to me.

Now to the part you've all been waiting for. She suggested Indi because of how much I would like for him/her to be born on Independence Day. I think it needs an e, so from this point until whenever we find out if he/she is a boy or girl, I will call him/her Indee. Write it down, make it happen. Right?

Dear Little In-Utero Baby

I hope you'll like broccoli. I had some for dinner tonight. I like it, but the way I felt while eating it makes me think otherwise of your opinion. Cora, your big sister, loves broccoli. And apples. She could eat them all day if I let her, but I don't let her because she needs fat too. Fat is an essential part of any diet. But beware: There are good fats and bad fats. You'll discover this with most things in life.

As half of you knows, I'm not sure which half any more, but the part that started out as an egg, from my ovary, I've always wanted to have a baby on the Fourth of July. It's my favorite holiday. And I think one of the coolest things I could give you would be guaranteed fireworks every year on your birthday. Stick with me, literally, and we can make it happen. You're due in the window of June 30-July 5. I'm getting shots in about a month and a half to help make sure you stay in as long as possible. Hopefully we won't have a single set of regular contractions before the big day. Let alone regular ones for weeks. Hey! And maybe you won't be breech either. Turn early. That's my advice for you. Turn early.

I'm sorry I don't have a ridiculously clever name for you. The first time I was pregnant, I named him/her Quackers, technically your papa did that. I named Cora Jelly Bean. I've been going over and over various names. The hard part is that it has to be gender neutral. It's just a name to get you through until I know for sure if you're a boy or girl. I like the funny kind. I hope you do too. I think you're a boy so far. And if you're a girl, I apologize for the boy vibes circulating around me. You can override them, I give you permission. I want you to be healthy and happy, and I am already in love with you.

Christmas Challenge

A friend from Oklahoma presented a Christmas Challenge. I thought it was a good one. The challenge is to start reading Luke on December 1 and read a chapter a day finishing on December 24. It's a nice way to remember the true spirit of the season. I wasn't going to do it at first because I just finished reading Luke not long ago, and had moved on to 3 Nephi, also about Christ's life from a different perspective. As I was reading last night, I couldn't help thinking about the challenge and found my way wandering back to Luke. I read Chapter 3 for December 3, and wanted to share a little bit of what stood out to me.

Luke 3 is where Jesus is baptized by John the baptist. The two verses I loved come from what John the Baptist is telling the people about baptism. The people had just asked him how to avoid the devastation of sin.

Verse 11 says: He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.

Verse 14: And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.

I loved these tidbits of advice for how to live and thought that these verses went beautifully together. In BrieAnn's sum it up world: Always be willing to give to others, treat all fairly, and be content with what you have. I really like the last part of 14. That is SO HARD sometimes.

This challenge will be fun. I didn't start on time, I just jumped in on the chapter of the day I started, and if I'm feeling super human (that's a stretch), I'll go back and make up for what I missed.

Ode to Joy...or the cause of joy.

I don't know where to begin. This post is inspired by how great I feel. I feel great because of a little drug called zofran. I'm taking zofran because I am with child. Yes, you heard it here first, maybe?

I have been a barf bag for the last several weeks, 4 or 5, I'm beginning to lose track. I do know what every little crevice of our toilet looks like. I'm 10 weeks-ish. Zofran is the third thing I've tried to help quell the nausea and vomiting, and while I would normally be crashed in bed right now, as Cora is asleep in hers, I just couldn't do it. I feel too good to sleep.

We heard our little baby's heart beat for approximately 2 seconds yesterday, and it was amazing. Just a reassurance, and reason enough to finally spill the beans. I'm ever so cautious now, after our first pregnancy ended in miscarriage at 12 weeks. I think I told everyone, perfect strangers, and it was hard when people, even months later, asked how the pregnancy was going.

I'm leaning towards a boy. It would be so much easier to have a girl because of all the girl stuff we already have, but we shall see, and I will be in-love either way. So if we have a girl, her name will be Magnolia Jane McInnes, and if we have a boy his name will be Atticus Zebedee....even though I've been dreaming of Henry. We shall see again. And in my heart of hearts, I keep wanting more than one. Not because I want two babies at once as much as I don't want to be pregnant as many times. Two friends found out they're having twins. So cool!

And lastly, my OB is really great, I've already been to her three times. On my first visit, she told me about progesterone shots as a way to prevent preterm labor. The research is fairly new, but I'm excited to have a plan to try and prevent going into labor at 32 weeks and having a baby at 35 weeks. So somewhere between 16 and 20 weeks, I'll start getting a weekly shot of progesterone. Wish me luck on that one! I'll have to give them to myself if I start before 20 weeks when I'm in Texas and Oklahoma in January and early February.

I am so happy to be pregnant, and especially happy that I'm not bogged down in an overwhelming state of nausea today. LOVE!

PS: It's snowing in Chicago.

Welcome to the World of What were we thinking:

Jake and I have wanted a dog for our whole life together.

On Thursday, we got one.

He is cute and sweet, a three-year-old miniature dachshund [Doxie, with love]. He instantly attached himself to Jake. He is house-broken and likes walks. He doesn't really play with toys and has only had one treat [not because we haven't tried to give him more]. He sleeps through the night, almost. He is tender and affectionate. His name is Noonan.

We took him back today.

While driving Jake to work at Depaul on Friday [yesterday, and the day after we got Noonan], I looked over a Jake and said, "I don't know if I'm ready for a dog." I was relieved when he said something similar. Four walks a day out to the park, a nearly two-year-old, not being able to come and go as we please...Life with a dog is not the same as we knew growing up when we had a yard. We'd made up our minds that there was a better family out there for Noonan. And I'm glad because Friday night, he started showing signs of jealousy towards Cora - he had previously done the same thing with cats [he'd been adopted and returned once before]. Jake and Cora were singing at the table, Noonan was watching from the couch, and then he came over and started barking and jumping up at her. He snapped at her a few times as well - granted, there was food a toy involved. He will make a great pet for a family with older kids, or an established couple who can love on him and him alone. It was hard to leave him, I did it alone, well, with Cora. I know he will find a good home.

We adopted him from PAWS [Pets Are Worth Saving], which is an AMAZING example of a humane shelter. None of the animals stay in cages. They have a room and toys and go on several walks throughout the day. They adopt 50-70% of their pets each week, and bring in new ones every morning. The adoption fee is one of the cheapest, and $75 of it is returned if you complete an obedience course. Every pet goes through a Foster-to-Adopt program. You have the animal for up to two weeks to see how they do in your home and with your family before the adoption is final. If, for any reason, something doesn't work out, you can bring them back and receive a full refund with-in the two weeks. It takes the pressure off, and allows for what's best for the dog/cat. If you have a soft spot for dogs and cats, you can donate to this organization. It's money well spent. When Jake gets his schedule for next quarter, I want to volunteer there one day of the week.


In the end, we were thinking that we wanted to give a nice home and a lot of love to a dog. Now is simply not the right time for us.

PS: Noonan wasn't sad when we left him. He knows everyone at PAWS and everyone knows him! He was so happy to see everyone again. We didn't actually have to leave him. An employee came and got him from us [someone we knew from when we picked him up] while I was filling out a little bit of paperwork. He was already ready to see whoever his new family will be by the time we left. I wouldn't have been able to handle it any other way. And it's Saturday. PAWS was packed with potential adopters.

The Cheap Kind

Cora started out in Pampers Swaddlers. I had a few other brands that had been given to us, and all of them gave her diaper rash. So we stuck with Swaddlers intermingled with Seventh Generation because Swaddlers only go up to a size 2-3 (I called it a 2.5), and I wanted something I knew we could switch to when the time came.

When she grew out of Swaddlers we switched to Pampers BabyDry and occasionally Cruisers when BabyDry was unavailable. All was going well until she started leaking out of every kind of Pampers, even after we went up a size. The day my diaper world changed was July 18, 2008. We were at Katy's (Jake's cousin) and Cooper's wedding where Cora was the flower girl. I had one extra diaper packed to last through ceremony and reception...One. A mother of five came to my rescue. Her baby and Cora happened to be in the same size, and she had a whole package in her van. I saw the blue and green polka-dot diaper and had no idea what brand it was, but it didn't give Cora a rash, and there was no leak. AMAZING!

It wasn't until I was at Target and saw the same diaper on the yellow Up & Up box that I knew where they came from. Then I looked at the price and almost fell over...SIX whole dollars less than Pampers for more diapers. They've redesigned the diaper in the last few months and it's even better. They have a lot more stretch and leg protection. And they're really soft.

Swaddlers were awesome, and I wouldn't use anything else for little itty-bitties, but I wish I would have known how great Target's diapers were when the Swaddlers phase was through. The moral of this story: If you haven't ever tried Target's diapers, or if its been a while since you have, give them a shot. I was pleasantly surprised.

Going at it Alone

This post was supposed to be a victory.

Today was the first day I attempted public transportation alone with Cora AND the stroller. Adler Planetarium was having a free day, and we needed to get out and about.

We caught the 10:45 Metra at 51st and rode to 11th/Museum Campus. We got off and headed to the elevator, I pushed the button, the light flashed for a second, and then the orange glow went away. I tried repeatedly to no avail.

I remember this stop for the number of stairs to get up to street level. Jake and Parker once carted Cora and stroller up all of the stairs, and they were tired when they got to the top.

Oh well, I'm macho. I whip her stroller around and start pulling it up one stair at a time. When I got to the landing in the middle, I heard a man talking on his phone interrupt his conversation with "Hold on, let me go help this lady." While we both knew I could make it the rest of the way, I took him up on his kind gesture. He was, after all, the elevator repairman.

Adler Planetarium was all right. It's like elementary age friendly. Cora likes the moon, so that was nice. She also really likes running around from exhibit to exhibit - perfect. We saw one of the Gemini space crafts in an exhibit devoted to Jim Lovell. I think Cora almost appreciated that it had been in space.

We headed out to go have lunch in Grant Park at Buckingham Fountain, but on our trip over, Cora was showing the signs of fatigue, and a train was coming soon, so we headed back to the station and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Yes, I had checked the schedule before we left home. The train finally comes, and I brush off the "blue line" remark I hear the conductor say because all lines lead back to the 51st/53rd street station. Almost*.


I'm talking with an elderly lady across from me. She's telling me all about her great-grandson and how smart he is because both of his parents are educators and work with him. I felt rude when I glanced out the window once and realized we should be slowing down, but we're not. And I glanced out again and she paused and I said, "Do we stop at 51st?" She said "no, you need to be on the South Chicago Line...." and somewhere in the middle of that sentence one of the conductors said "we stop at 55/56/57."

"I can do 55th," I said, glad that it wasn't a bigger number. I had visions of streets in the 90s dancing through my head and waiting another hour before I could jump on another train and come back home. Relief. I got off the train that was closer to 57th than 55th, and made my way down to the 55th exit, only to see an accessible sign saying to exit at 57th. I was proud and continued on, glad when another kind stranger helped me carry the stroller down a REALLY big flight of stairs. Two sets.

We walked the nine blocks home, and I was wondering if I should count this as a successful first solo trip or not. I mean, I did make it home, and Cora fell asleep a block before we got there. Maybe it's a victory afterall.

Side note: The Metra is an older transit system that is closer to our home than the "El" (or CTA). It is usually very convienient, but if you're not at one of the major stations that denotes which trains are which, they all look the same except for the South Shore Line, which has orange instead of blue on it. It also spreads out to running every hour in off-peak parts of the day. The El is much easier in the sense that all cars are labeled with the color of the line and the direction it is going, so even if you happen to be in an area close to the loop, you don't have to guess what line a train is, even if it shares the tracks with multiple lines. You generally never have to wait for than ten minutes.


Close up of Curtains

My cousin Kiersty asked for a close up of the curtains, and because I am a needy reader of her blog - always requesting that she post extra pictures and videos - I'm going to indulge her.

And since I'm showing a close up, I'll also reveal my secret....

The striped fabric was a table cloth, and the top floral and damask fabric was a table runner. Both were part of the Garden Party collection at Target, and I fell in love with it the moment I saw it. I kept going back and forth, like maybe it was too "girlie," but I couldn't resist any longer when pieces got the lovely little reddish orange clearance sticker. I cut the table cloth and runner in half and sewed them together as well as a hem down the inside of each panel.

I sewed a strip of fabric on the back to run the curtain rod through.

The kitchen valance is one full table runner. It fit perfectly!

I got the sewing machine out to sew a strip of fabric on and then thought "Hmm, I can just run the rod between the back layer of pink fabric and the front floral/damask (it was hollow between). So I cut an inch and a half slit at each end and ran the rod through - If only hanging the rod would have been so easy - I discovered the joy of plaster.

A closer close up. Yes, it's the same fabric as the shower curtain.

And if I can ever talk Jake into it, I'd LOVE this quilt for our room. It reminds me of a hand-painted quilt my great-grandma made.

And Today's Tour...

...will take us through the kitchen and bathroom - not in that order.

I love the hardcore plumbing.

And the bright colors in an otherwise dreary space.

The hallway from the front door.

Our dining area looking towards the kitchen.

...from the front door.
At the end of the kitchen looking towards the living room.

Gas stove.

Our one maple cabinet. I like it for the drawer, but I'm fond of the rest of my Old Ironsides cabinets.

"Eye Candy" wall and "Daily Bread"
I love my fiesta.

Apron Collection

Extra storage.

The galley.

I hope you enjoyed the peek. Come back real' soon now, ya hear?


Tracey and Parker [Jake's mom and brother] came to Chicago to spend their fall break with us. It was fun to see some familiar faces. We went on a few adventures - free adventures because that's how I roll. Free minus the food, we ate out almost every meal. Tracey was very gracious.

And I guess free minus the transportation, but I refuse to pay fifteen to twenty dollars to park my car somewhere.

The weather was cloudy and cold. I admittedly do not want winter to set in, but at the same time, I can't wait to see the punch it packs. This week will be a reprieve. It is sunny and wonderful. Blue skies and temperatures in the upper fifties to lower sixties. Fall in Chicago.

Cora and I went to the library, and I saw Tar Beach. I heard about this book some time ago when it won the Caldecott Honor. I meant to read it then, but time slipped by, and I forgot about it. We checked it out, and I read it to her before her nap. She loved it and was asleep in record time. I loved it. The story was originally part one of a five-part quilt series, Woman on a Bridge, by Faith Ringgold, and she later adapted it into a book. The illustrations are lovely, and the story reminds me of my very own Tar Beach, though I called it my "tHinK SpoT." It was at the base of the Superstition Mountains in a cul-de-sac called Morning Dove Court. I looked it up the other day and there is still just one house there - and the lot in front of my tHinK SpoT is still for sale. Does anyone have a little over a quarter of a million dollars they'd like to loan me? Thanks in advance.

Today is the day I've spent getting a few things back together. Washing extra laundry and such. It's also the day I'm getting rid of leftovers. My mother-in-law loves Diet Coke. It's this thing that runs in the blood of the women in her family. She bought a twelve-pack and only drank six while she was here. I rarely drink pop except for the occassional Mug rootbeer. But not today. I'm on DC numero dos. Holy fizzy. I don't even like the taste of artificial sweetener...

[The lovely golden leaves from our bedroom window]

Some Bumpin' Tunes and a Shining Example

I was visiting NieNie Dialogues this morning, like I frequently do, and she had a link to a new cd called Nearer. I followed the link and oh my, I want it. My heart is not one that generally desires material things, but this is different. It doesn't just have one or two of my favorite hymns, it has all of them, even "More Holiness Give Me," which hasn't been recorded very much. So, go check it out, and fall in love with it too, in all of it's 30 second clips.

A bit about NieNie [aka Stephanie Nielson]. I found her blog about a week before she, her husband Christian [aka Mr. Nielson], and their friend Doug Kinneard were in a plane crash near St. Johns, AZ. That was August 16, 2008. Doug died from injuries, Christian was burned over 30 percent of his body and Stephaie over 80 percent. I spent the next few months crying over and praying for this woman and her family I'd never met. I know I was joined by all the readers of her blog in this mix of heartache at what had happened and hope for her recovery...for her life. The remarkable thing about it is that despite an event as big as a plane crash, and how it would alter one's life, it's like a little blip on the radar when it comes to making up who she is to me.

In the months she spent in a medically induced coma, I poured over her posts. I loved reading about all the places she frequented in Mesa, as that was her home when I found her. It was my growing up home. I still look at the real estate in the zip code I grew up in [85203], and dream about the houses I would live in if I moved back tomorrow. She made me feel sentimental, like I need more of that. I do. I like my sentimental self. I felt like I was catching up with an old friend.

She has four children, but was able to find this balance between motherhood and selfhood. I think the magic was that the line was blurred. She lives a life full of passion and creation, and every little part adds to who she is. Everyday is physically difficult for her, but she knows how to make the most with what is in front of her, even if some of her posts are heavy-hearted - she keeps it real. She seeks out beauty in every thing. She inspires me. If you haven't heard of her before and need a boost every now and again, go take a peek into her life. She will enrich your soul.

NieNie Dialogues

Riding without Holding On

Tonight I found an old friend on facebook. If you've ever been to Mesa Arizona, then I'm sure you know him, too. Yes, Diz-Z is on facebook. He's a street minister who used to ride up along main street praising God and shouting "Halelujiah" I can't really remember Mesa without him. I think he started his minitry when I was six-ish. I've written a few pieces about him as the years have progressed. He's one of those sort of mythic characters in my life. I love that he is still doing what he loves.

"I just want to help others" - from his weekly inspiration video 12-12-09

Follow this link to check him out:


I've been thinking about this for a while, but wasn't sure how to put it. I was reading a friend's blog this morning, and I think it may have cleared up some of the confusing parts of my dilemma.

When I was a senior in high school, I was sure I was going to get a degree in creative writing and be an English teacher. And then when I had children I would stay at home and be a freelance writer, thanks to the advice of my high school counselor. I met Jake, got married, and moved to Oklahoma not long after high school. [Technically I met Jake a month before I graduated from high school, but who's being technical?] There were no creative writing programs in Oklahoma City, so I got a degree in English on the writing track [and the education track, and I was one course shy of the literature track, and in three years because I wanted to graduate "on time," but again, technicalities]. Wherever Jake was going for his graduate work would be where I would further my education [not necessarily at the same school, but in the same city/close region]. Here we are in Chicago, and there are several creative writing programs, two of which I'm really interested.

So what's the problem? I haven't written anything substantial since I graduated from college. I can't figure it out either. I used to write all the time just because. I've been wondering if I should get a degree specifically in writing or something that inspires my writing. I'm passionate about a lot of things, one of which is the area of social equality. I've been glancing at public policy and international relations programs, both of which can be coupled with a law degree. But even with all of this, I wonder how/why I would do such a thing when I'm totally devoted to being a mom at this moment in my life. I'm still paying of student loans from undergraduate, and it doesn't make sense to possibly incur more debt when in the end of the program I will likely continue to stay home until all of my pretend children, besides Cora of course, are in school.

This has been what I've been going around and around about since Cora was born.

I was talking with a cousin about it and she said something I think is very true: "I think that it is prudent for you to be as educated as you can be- for both you and Cora, I think that any education you get will only help her in the long run, but it would mean that there are days you would have to spend less time with her while you do it and I don't know how that balance works out..."

And then I read Megan's post this morning. Among the many things I could relate to, the part I'd never thought of was where she talked about wanting a hobby, but not wanting it to feel like work or a job. "I want to do it as much or as little as I desire." Because she has a job, and that is being a mom to her three children..."and it's a great gig." Something about thinking of what I want to do with my life in terms of what career I want to have really made sense. I think I spend too much time worrying about what I'm going to do that I don't ever do what I really love to do. I shouldn't worry about a piece that I want to write being suitable as a writing sample for a prospective program, or picking the right organization to get involved with as something that will look good on a resume.

The word unfulfilled has come up. Am I fulfilled as a wife? Yes. Am I fulfilled as a mother? Yes. Am I fulfilled as a me? Not completely. And I want to change that. And I don't have to know everything all at once, no matter how much I'd like to. I just don't want to be in neutral because I can't think of anything more lame or heartbreaking than simply staying put.

PS: I deleted a paragraph from this post about how I cringe whenever I'm asked to think about my "talents." I'm a "jack of many* trades, but a master of none." I think one of my talents is kindness, and maybe the kind of person we are working towards becoming has the potential to be our greatest talent of all.

A Delightful Taste Sensation

Cora and I went to the Fedex store to send something to Oklahoma, and met Jake on our way home so we could walk together. I love family strolls. I was trying to figure out what we could make for lunch that would would be quick and easy. We decided on grilled cheese sandwiches. These were not just any grilled cheeses. No way. It was the best grilled cheese I've ever had, and nothing was out of the ordinary. We used extra sharp white cheddar cheese on a multigrain bread with unsalted butter. I sprinkled a bit of salt and pepper on the outside of one side of the sandwich like I always do. I "grilled" them to a perfect golden brown.

When I bit into mine, it was the perfect flavor combination. I think it had something to do with the strong cheese and the semi-sweet tasting bread. On the side we had artichoke kalamata hommus. So good. [One of the best pizzas I've ever had was at the Bread Company in Urbana, IL. It had ricotta, artichokes, kalamata olives, and brie cheese on a wonderfully thin crust.]

I love when food surprises me.

Getting Older

There is something glorious about getting older. It has everything to do with becoming more at ease with myself.

glo⋅ri⋅ous [glawr-ee-uh s, glohr-] adjective delightful; wonderful; completely enjoyable

When I look back on the years I've lived so far, of all the things I could regret, the only thing I really do is not always being the kind of person I wanted to be. I wish I would have been a little kinder, a little better - times I wish I would have stood up to things with which I did not agree.

With age comes a sort of liberation. A freedom from the oppression of oneself. While I certainly hold onto ingrained self-consciousness, I am aware that most of these things have little to do with the person I actually am, and more to do with me letting other people's expectations govern the decisions I make. There isn't a map laid out of where life will go or the experiences I'll meet, but there is confidence in knowing that I can make it. I've got the goods to carry me through, and I know that I will be made more insightful for my diligence in becoming.

I love the motto my biological father once wrote me in a letter:

"Follow your bliss, stick to your guns, and never let them take you alive."


Around the time I got married, my friend, Brecken, gave me a calendar of quotes. It was charming with old fashioned colored black and white pictures, and flowers in the corners. This block of paper sat on the desk in our tiny studio apartment. I loved tearing the old day off and reading what was in store for me on the new day that appeared. On Monday, October 4, 2004, I read

"Part of kindness is loving people more than they deserve." [Joseph Joubert]

I thought about it all day, and when tomorrow came and it was time to tear the sheet off, I found myself unable to throw it away. I tore it off and put it in my scriptures. It remains there to this very day, nearly 5 years later. I look at it often, I say the words over and over again in my head. I say a modified version because I think the actual quote is "A part of kindness consists in loving people more than they deserve."

I can't help but think of the way I am loved perfectly by Christ, despite my imperfections. And if he can love me that way, then I have absolutely no justification for not showing that same sort of kindness to those around me.

C.R. Gibson wrote:

I have wept in the night for the shortness of sight,
That to somebody’s need made me blind;
But I never have yet felt a twinge of regret,
for being a little too kind.

Four Minutes of Your Time

Fact Check

I was talking with someone today who said they didn't like Obama because he was going to take away medicare and social security, and without those things, this person would be "up a creek." It again made me sad, so I thought I would link a website that has more information on a lot of the myths circulating around the health care bill.

HERE is the site.

Also, if you didn't get to watch the president's speech on health care, and you have questions about the bill, it's a must see. I can't believe how many people don't watch the president speak, and still believe they are informed on where he stands on issues. The White House has never been so transparent as it is now.

You can watch his talk HERE.

I've decided that for the next few days, I'm going to post fliers that discuss various elements of the health care bill.

Dear Cora

You fall asleep in my arms almost every night. Tonight when I was carrying you to bed, I couldn't get over how beautiful you are.

Something was extra tender about seeing your scuffed nose and scraped forehead from your tumble yesterday.

Your paci fell out, and you were breathing in and out of your mouth so softly. I stole a kiss on the lips because you don't give them up very easy when you're awake.

PS: Your hair is totally rad.


Yesterday was my first swim in Lake Michigan. I can hardly call it a swim, as the water was never beyond my waist while standing up, but it was delightful. I might have a fear of large bodies of water. And might stands because I don't want to have one, but whenever I take off to swim in a body of water I can't see the other side of, my breath leaves me. I first swam without floaties at the pool in my grandparents' retirement community. It was the pool I swore contained a boa constrictor from the pet store at Tri-City mall in the deep end, all 6 feet of water.

So I don't know if the fear comes from what I think lies beneath, or from my two very near drowning incidents. The first one was at Sunsplash in the wave pool. I was 12 or 13, and I got stuck under someone in an innertube. I was just about to use my last bit of energy when my Uncle David comes out of nowhere, pushes me up and out of the water, and gets me all the way back to calmer waters. The second time, I was older in high school, I think it was during my junior year. I did a weird dive off the board and started laughing about it before I hit the water. I'm coming up for hair, but realize my top came up, so I stay down to fix it, and that's when it laughter has used up my air supply, and my lungs involuntarity inhale. I was hopping towards the shallow end, and every time I came up for air, I would cough and go back under. Sarah Keller saved me that time, and I almost barfed on Nathaniel's shoulder because I was coughing so much. Good times. Anyway, I love water, and I don't want to be afraid of it. At the same time, I've tried really hard to not be so afraid of snakes, but I can't do it. Something abour their cold, scaly, contracting bodies in my hands just doesn't agree with my senses. I wasn't afraid of the ocean in Hawaii, maybe because it was so warm.

And even more on the matter: I've always been a little jealous of the meaning of my sister's name. Her name is Marissa, and it means "of the sea." Beautifully put.

I didn't mean to wander so far into water, but apparently I had a lot to get off my chest about it. Next, I would like to discuss Portraits in Malibu at aesthetic pursuits. I love this blog, and I'm pretty sure I would love hanging out with the blogger all the time. Don't you want to run around on the beach in a wedding dress? I DO! Lauryl, I would be a fake bride model for you any day (I saw a couple doing their wedding shoot on Michigan Avenue and thought of you).

And last, but certainly not least: Please go here. A friend from our church in Oklahoma is missing. Please remember David and his family in your prayers..

An Afternoon at the Beach

We live a few blocks away from Lake Michigan. There are wonderful parks and bike trails all along the lakefront...18 miles of it anyway. It's about a mile and a half to the closest beach, and that was our destination today.

She's still dry...

There are always so many lovely boats.

Promontory Point (Beautiful views of Chicago's skyline can be seen from here).

We didn't wear our swimsuits because I didn't know what the water would be like. Big mistake. The water was perfect, and Cora would have appreciated a 'lil Swimmers diaper.

And randomly, I ran into a woman who moved here about 5 weeks ago. In our conversation, we discussed her husband being a Phd student at the Lutheran Theological Seminary, a place I applied at. After a little more conversing, she said she was a little overwhelmed at her new job at the seminary. I inquired a little more, and she got the job I applied for in financial aid. They received over 80 resumes...what an unusual commonality. Everywhere I go, I meet someone new. I've been exchanging contact information with people I've known for less than like 2 minutes. I'll write more about this wonderful communal place soon.

Cora's Room and a Cozy Place for You

We got Cora's room straightened out, for the most part, this morning. I snapped a few shots. She needs A LOT more art on the walls, but it's fun. Everything is really accessible to her.

We bought this rug to go under the table, but Cora is really into spitting her food out, or throwing it on the floor, so we moved the rug to her room so we wouldn't be afraid of eating at our table.

(Aren't the floors gorgeous?)

I found a tapestry on clearance at Target that I intend to make curtains out of, but I've been going back and forth because I don't want to obstruct her view or the great light. The tapestry looks like a bunch of hand-drawn pictures in green, blue, orange, brown, and a raspberry red color, all on a creamy backdrop. There are owls and trees and clouds and other friendly things. Some of the sayings are "I give a hoot," "I love trees," and a few more things along those lines...very cute.

And this is for you when you come and visit. Meemaw and I made the pillows and bedspread. I'll take pictures of the "office" half of the room later.

A Preview

Here is a preview of our apartment. The living room is the most put together right now. We're really close to being done, just a few boxes left in one closet. 



We are loving living in Hyde Park. Tonight we're going to a free concert at Millenium Park put on by Lyric Opera Chicago to open their season. On Tuesday we went to Oprah's kickoff party, and I saw Oprah and Fergie up close within like 3 minutes of one another. Our neighborhood is beautiful, the lake is my pretend ocean, and the people have been so very warm. I am so happy to be here.
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Hyde Park

I can't stop looking at this website. It's all about Hyde Park. Notice there are no winter pictures, but everything looks lovely.

Go ahead, Feel Beautiful.

You know how a new haircut can make you feel giddy?

And make you crave a date with photo booth when your alone in the living room after everyone has gone to bed...
And makes you check the mirror a hundred times more often than usual...

And makes you want to pose for everything...

And make sure your wedding ring is in full view so no one gets any ideas...

And makes you open your eyes a little wider...

And stand a little taller...

And smile a little bigger? Good.

Then you'll understand this post.


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