Six Months of Awesome

I’m having a hard time writing about motherhood.  It’s too much.  I feel all of the things (mostly intense joy).  Also, the “mom brain” phenomenon that I heard about has hit me hard, and I’m not my most articulate self lately.  I’m not so much with the words.  It’s sad, but I’m hopeful that it won’t be a permanent condition.

Our sweet boy turned six months old last Friday in the midst of two weeks of travel and hosting and babysitting, so now I sit down to write about this milestone…and I just…there are no words big enough to describe my thoughts on this subject.  Benjamin is feisty and social and hilarious.  He loves to snuggle but he also loves to move. He is as wild as his hair would suggest and as sweet as his smile would indicate.  He sleeps like a champ and eats as though he’s certain each feeding will be his last.  He’s very verbal and laughs a lot.  He is DETERMINED.  He has a wide range of dramatic facial expressions.  He loves to grab everything in sight (his favorite is having two fistfuls of someone’s hair).  He fights naps because he doesn’t want to miss anything.  He loves music and the great outdoors.  His eyes light up when he’s in a new place or has a new experience (most recently starting solid foods).

He has the ability to completely wear us out, but he has brought us more joy than we ever could have imagined.  Benjamin has taught us so much about our Creator.  Bryan and I are so thankful for this beautiful, vivacious boy and humbled that God chose us to be his parents.  And since a picture is worth a thousand words, here are a few that express the past six months a bit better than I can…

*Note:  The pictures on the striped rug are his monthly pictures, starting with 1 month old.

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Ben’s Nursery

We bought our first house when I was seven months pregnant.  I don’t necessarily recommend this, but with our lease ending March 31st and the baby’s due date at April 2nd, it was the best choice for us.  I’m so thankful that we were able to move in and make it feel like home before Ben was born.  Getting his nursery ready was so much fun, and I mentioned awhile ago that I would share some pictures.  So, here is a little tour…

I’m not a huge theme person, but I started sort of jokingly referring to this as “global baby chic”.  We have a lot of different colors, too.  There are touches of navy and lighter gray/blue, and I love the rug with green, orange, brown, robin’s egg blue and tan.  I wanted his nursery to feel cozy and colorful—a place where he can rest well and play hard and let his imagination run wild.

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It’s really special to me that we are using the crib my dad built when my parents were expecting me.  My two younger siblings used it, too.  We decided that my dad would paint the top part white to modernize it for the next generation.  It’s got tons of storage, and it’s just so beautiful.  Ben has been sleeping very well in the crib for about two months.  We have several cute fitted sheets with animals in lieu of a full crib set.  This one is my favorite.

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We also have this little rocker that was mine.  My hope is that this will become a favorite reading spot for Ben when he’s a bit older.

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I got this little bookshelf for my tiny garage apartment when I was in grad school.  I’m not sure if Target still carries it, but I might like to get one or two more.  I love to see it full of children’s books now!  We have some in English and Spanish.

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The dresser was the last item purchased.  We went to several secondhand and discount places but didn’t have any luck, and so we found ourselves making the trek to IKEA when I was basically ready to give birth at any moment.  This ended up being just the right size.  Worth it.

My sister, the artist, painted this beautiful mirror for Ben.  He loves to look at it while we’re changing him.  His eyes get really big.  🙂

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We got a glider and decided that we’d rather use it in the living room.

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I have included links below if you’re interested.  Thanks for coming on the tour, friends!

*Please note that, in addition to reused or homemade pieces, we used gift cards and bought discontinued and sale items, etc.  I don’t think we paid full price for anything.

Dresser: IKEA

Window hanging (similar):  World Market

Spanish prints:  Etsy

Crib: Made by Dad circa 1984

Bookshelf:  Target

Rocker:  Passed down from me

Lamp:  World Market (discontinued)

Laundry hamper:  Target

Glider:  (similar) Buy Buy Baby

Rug:  (similar) World Market

Painted Mirror:  Made by Aunt Katie

Pregnancy is Crazy: Part Two

Here is the link to Part One if you missed it yesterday.  I’m blogging my thoughts on pregnancy this week.  A few more things about this experience that I want to remember…

I want to remember how pregnancy has changed my body image and taught me so much about self-sacrifice and humility.  Some days I feel cute or even beautiful with my curves, thicker hair, perpetually rosy cheeks.  Other days I feel huge and clumsy.  I’ve always thought of other pregnant women as beautiful, so I’m trying to see myself in that same light.  We are often our own harshest critics, aren’t we?  The comments can be disconcerting, too.  Last week someone told me I was going to have a big baby.  Rude.  Today, someone told me I’m only showing in my stomach.  Huh.  Thanks.  These contradictory comments happen all the time.  For the record, Bryan has told me often how beautiful I am to him, and that helps.  My body is changing rapidly, and it’s out of my control.  This is something that I must accept–even embrace–as I focus on my baby’s well being.  My priorities have shifted, and that’s a good thing.

I want to remember the pure, unadulterated joy of family and friends when we shared our news and as the pregnancy  progresses.  Nothing quite compares to being able to tell your parents that they are going to become grandparents and your siblings that they will become aunts and uncles for the first time.  Bryan and I both got to experience this.  Our families mean the world to us.  They have done so much for us and supported us so well in a million different ways.  I will never forget how deeply satisfying it was to share this good news with them and see their smiles and happy tears.  Now we watch their faces light up as they witness my growing belly and help us prepare for his arrival.  🙂  What a blessing.

I want to remember my sheer delight in preparing.  Now that we’re officially moved into our new house and getting settled, I am able to do something that I’ve been waiting to do since about September.  I am nesting!  I will do a future post about Baby’s nursery, but suffice it to say I am loving the process of planning it out and selecting his things.  We have some showers coming up in February, and I’m really looking forward to that.

I want to remember daydreaming about holding him and imagining countless details about the person he will be.  I often wonder what he will look like.  This little boy:IMG_0946Kara2and this little girl:eyesgrew up and fell in love.

What kind of tiny human will the combination of our features make?  I can hardly wait to see him!  I just keep picturing a mini version of my handsome husband, and I have to remind myself that we could have a blonde or even a redhead, and that would be okay, too.  Haha.  I know for certain that we will be completely in love with our little guy.  We already are!  If you read this someday, Baby, I want you to know how loved you were even before you were born.  Your papa and I (and the rest of your family and friends) can’t wait to meet you in just a couple of months!IMG_5586

The In Between, Part II

Here is the first part of this story, in case you missed it.  Sunday (Father’s Day) we went to see the freshly “bush-hogged” (a new word I learned that day) land that my parents bought to roam around and imagine the house that they are planning to build there. IMG_4154 The last time we went, I was in sandals.  I got a fire ant bite on each foot.  So, this time I came prepared and wore my rain boots.  If only I had thought about my arms.  My dad and I tried to measure the circumference of a large tree in a still-overgrown grove on the far side of the property.  We eventually gave up because we couldn’t get close enough to it.  The next afternoon at work, I noticed that my arm felt a bit warm.  I was hustling around a room full of clients helping with enrollment paperwork for English classes when I looked down to see a red patch in the crook of my elbow.  Poison ivy.  I am one of those sad humans with sensitive skin, so I’m allergic to poison ivy.  Highly allergic.  (ahem)

By Tuesday, I had to leave work and find a clinic that could give me a cortisone shot ASAP.  Of course, we don’t have our insurance cards yet having just started new jobs.  I called on a potential rental house while I waited two hours at the clinic—multi-tasking is key in these uncertain times.  By Wednesday night, it was clear that the shot had not done it’s job.  I didn’t sleep at all, and the poison ivy was spreading rapidly.  I had to email my new supervisor and explain the situation.  Thankfully, he was very understanding–having had his own severe poison ivy experience.  I went to the doctor and got an oral steroid.  Later that afternoon I stood in front of the mirror with swollen, bleeding ears and itchy, inflamed skin on my arms and face.  Bryan was half and hour away at work, and I briefly considered driving myself to the ER or finishing the job and just setting myself on fire.  Low point number two.  At the risk of sounding melodramatic, it has been some of the worst pain I’ve experienced in my 28 years.  Today, I can proudly say that I finally feel hopeful that I will someday have normal skin again.  And I probably won’t take it for granted nearly as much as I did before.

Saturday, I was able to leave the house, and it renewed my spirits.  I think I’d just been sitting and staring at my blistered skin for two solid days, washing my hands every five minutes to no avail while the rash continued to spread.  You know you need to get out when you close your eyes to sleep at night and see visions of blotchy red arms.  Bryan took me to the movies.  He can’t get over how I keep asking him to turn the air conditioner higher.  That’s not like me at all.  Enjoy it while you can, honey.  🙂  Then we went to a restaurant and sat together in a booth facing a window and ate nachos at 3pm.  We looked out at the traffic and buildings and reflected on life in the city thus far.  We talked about our dreams for the future and expressed our gratitude for God’s provision.

Admittedly, this new chapter and I have gotten off to a rough start, but sitting there with Bryan, I felt my confidence begin to rise again.  The thing is, I was so comfortable with our life before.  And although it’s been tempting throughout this “in between” time to long for what we left behind, I know deep in my heart that it was time for a new adventure.  These setbacks I’ve experienced have beaten me up a bit, but looking out that window Saturday afternoon–completely relaxed for the first time in a long while–I remembered that we are right where we’re supposed to be.  I relish this opportunity to be challenged.  I want to learn new things and meet new people and explore a new city.  I feel like we will grow here in ways I can’t imagine now.

One of the aspects of transition that I’ve come to appreciate the most is how it reminds me that God is our only constant.  Isn’t it dangerous to get too comfortable?  With any luck, I’ll be writing to you next from our new home in the big city, but until then, I’ll be okay.  I heard this quote from Augustine in a sermon recently, and it’s become my mantra.  “O Lord, our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Amen.

 

Seeking Some Coziness

We are moving incredibly soon, and I am experiencing a classic case of what is commonly referred to as “mixed emotions”.  I am thrilled, anxious, relieved, content, curious, sorrowful, stressed, confused and hopeful.  We have a good life here in this sleepy college town.  I have always enjoyed being a student, and working at a university has allowed me to capture that spirit again.  I love the energy of a learning environment.  The world of academia stimulates my introspective nature and inspires me–especially now, at the end of this chapter, when I am filled with nostalgia.  It couldn’t last forever.  Maybe I will get another degree someday, but maybe not.  Now it is time to move on.  The extent to which I love being a student is the extent to which my husband loves working.  He is thankful to be closing the door on his time as a student, and he is so ready to work again.  He thrives when he is being productive in a practical way–not the more theorectical productivity of student tasks.  We are opposites in many ways, and I suppose this is one of them.  I am grateful that this is the case, as I think it makes us a stronger team.  We balance each other out.  My emotional responses soften his logical perspective, and he brings me back to earth.

For someone who enjoys variety and thrives on adventure, I sure do cherish the comforts of my routine.  Right now I’m thinking about the big things that will be hard when we move to a new city in a few days, like saying goodbye to the beloved friends that make up our community here.  But I’m also contemplating the small details that I will have to give up and replace with new ones.  Taco Tuesday after water aerobics.  Stumbling to the kitchen each morning to open the blinds on the distant sunrise.  My ocassional trips to favorite hiding spots on campus to pray and reflect on life.  Talking about babies and careers and relationships at Thursday lunches with my small group ladies.  These little comforts are like my grown up security blanket.  They make me feel safe, relaxed and in control (though, clearly, I’m not).  My security blanket will soon be gone, and for awhile, I will tiptoe around gingerly in my new environment.  I will feel that constant shakiness inside that always comes with unfamiliar territory.

Months from now I will have discovered new favorite comforts.  Bryan and I will be settling into our great new jobs.  We’ll be close enough to my family to meet up for dinner on a week night.  We will enjoy the stimulating accouterments of a beautiful city.  I have so many reasons to look forward to the next few months.  It feels like the right move for us, no doubt.  It’s just tempting to wish that I could fast forward the tearful hugs and new house noises and traffic confusion and small talk with strangers and learning of new rules.  Perhaps any uncertainty brings back too many painful memories of my quarterlife crisis.  But honestly, what I’m most happily awaiting is that moment when I realize that, gradually, I have found my new normal.  New comforts.  New friendships.

God is good, and my present thankfulness is twofold.  First, I am thankful to be sad as we prepare to leave.  It means that we have learned and grown and developed genuine friendships during our time here.  This is where we got to know each other in so many ways.  It’s where we started our life together as husband and wife.  It will always be a special place to us.  Also, I am thankful for where we’re headed.  We have been so blessed with new professional opportunities and a wonderful city to explore that happens to put us closer to my sweet family.  What more could we ask for?  Thank you, Lord.

I never imagined when I graduated college and moved away, that I would be back here someday.  Looking back on my second stint in Abilene, I must say that I love it even more now.  Here are a few favorites from our time in Big Sky Country.  Abilene, it’s been real.  To quote Phil Collins, “You’ll be in my heart…always.”

Campus sunset Paramount Theater Roommate pajama night Snowpocalypse State FairSalsa LizanoNuestra Iglesia  What are your favorite comforts, friends?  I’m open to new ideas.  🙂  Bring on the adventure!

Daydreams

Bryan is a student, so I sometimes have time to kill in the evenings while he is studying.  One of my favorite things to do during this time (you know, after I finish chores…) is watch HGTV, which he finds exceedingly dull.  I love to imagine what kind of house we’ll have someday.  I love the details that these shows make you consider.  I have learned that hardwood floors are good for people with allergies, that a good location is more important than cosmetic changes that need to be made, that I would love to have an island in the kitchen and tons of other points to consider.  It’s so much fun to dream about being a homeowner and having the opportunity to decorate and make it a comfortable place where people will feel welcome, where we will (Lord willing) raise little Rodriguezes and make lots of wonderful memories.

I love House Hunters International the most.  I live vicariously through these strangers who are picking up their lives and embracing a new culture.  I get restless sometimes with the routine of an 8 to 5 job and my comfortable life in the U.S.  Travel really is addictive.  After a semester in Oxford during college, my yearning to see the world and experience new scenery, food, people, languages, etc. became exponentially stronger.  This led to my decision to go to language school in Costa Rica after grad school, where I fell in love with the man that is now my husband.  (And yes, he has an adorable Spanish accent.)  That’s a story for another day.  Where was I?  Oh yes!  Traveling and HGTV.  Yesterday I found a fun architecture quiz that I wanted to share with you.  Here is my result:

You’re a lively Spanish Colonial!

Like a Spanish Colonial home, you are warm with an eye toward the romance of living. While you are traditional and can be a little introverted, you are also enlivened with impulsive flairs of color that amuse and energize your friends and family. Spanish Colonial homes take a simple construction style and add artistic details like painted tiles, iron fixtures, and huge carved doors denoting, like you, a love of art and individuality. Your combination of down-to-earth fun and elegance puts everyone at ease.
Learn more about Spanish Colonial architecture

I think a Spanish Colonial would suit me very well.  🙂  If you’re interested, you can take the quiz here.  It will take you roughly ten minutes.  Enjoy!