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

Advertisements

A Look Back at 2014

This has been quite a year!  Here’s my photo recap…

 

Evening walk in the cultural district with Husband.  A common occurrence this year.  :)

Evening walk in the cultural district with Husband—a common occurrence this year. 🙂

Volunteering with Compassion International!  We did this twice this year.

Volunteering with Compassion International! We did this twice this year and loved it.  Getting kids sponsored feels great!

We got snow during our visit with my Grammy and Aunt Barbara in Lubbock in February.

We got snow during our visit with my Grammy and Aunt Barbara in Lubbock in February.

Celebrating Valentine's Day with a double date out on the town—love these two!

Celebrating Valentine’s Day with a double date out on the town—love these two!

Another evening walk with Husband—my favorite way of getting to know our new city :)

Another evening walk with Husband—my favorite way of getting to know our new city 🙂

Here we are celebrating Dad's St. Patty's Day birthday.  He's just a bit excited.

Here we are celebrating Dad’s St. Patty’s Day birthday. He’s just a bit excited about the strawberry cake we made for him.

This is a shot I snapped of the Kimbell in the springtime.  I worked here for a season before grad school.

This is a shot I snapped of the Kimbell in the springtime. I worked here for a season before grad school.

In April, I got to visit Bryan at work for the first time!  So much technology is happening down there.

In April, I got to visit Bryan at work for the first time! So much technology is happening down there.

This was my first bike ride in many moons.  (…if you don't count the time a big group surprised our friend Derek and rode through downtown Abilene together, and I fell down and ripped my jeans.)  This time I didn't fall once.

This was my first bike ride in many moons. (…if you don’t count the time a big group surprised our friend Derek and rode through downtown Abilene together, and I fell down and ripped my jeans.) This time I didn’t fall once.

We celebrated Easter with my adorable cousin and the rest of the fam.

We celebrated Easter with my adorable cousin and the rest of the fam.

At the end of April, I started a new job.  Not a bad view at all.  :)

At the end of April, I started a new job. Not a bad view at all. 🙂

Summer in the city

Summer in the city

Costa Rica enjoyed great success in the World Cup this summer, and we loved every minute of it!  Vamos Ticos!!

Costa Rica enjoyed great success in the World Cup this summer, and we loved every minute of it! Vamos Ticos!!

As regular readers of this blog may remember, I got to watch one of my best friends get married in Siciliy in June.  Isn't she beautiful?!

As regular readers of this blog may remember, I got to watch one of my best friends get married in Siciliy in June. Isn’t she beautiful?!

My handsome wedding date

My handsome wedding date

Then we got to explore Italy!  This is Piazza San Marco in Venice.

Then we got to explore Italy! This is Piazza San Marco in Venice.

Beautiful Florence

Beautiful Florence

Sorrento, on the Amalfi Coast—it was breathtaking!  I haven't blogged about this part of the trip yet.

Sorrento, on the Amalfi Coast—it was breathtaking! I haven’t blogged about this part of the trip yet.

It was such a memorable trip for us.  I'm so thankful.  :)

It was such a memorable trip for us. I’m so thankful. 🙂

I got to hear my brother preach at Camp Deer Run in July.  Such a proud big sister moment.  :)

I got to hear my brother preach at Camp Deer Run in July. Such a proud big sister moment. 🙂

In 2014, my cooking experiments have continued.  This is Irish Soda Bread with raisins.  Yummmm.

In 2014, my cooking experiments have continued. This is Irish Soda Bread with raisins. Yummmm.

In August, I celebrated my 30TH birthday with some wonderful friends.  :)

In August, I celebrated my 30TH birthday with some of our dearest friends visiting. 🙂

Then was the long-awaited reunion with my college girlfriends at Andrea's Texas reception.  It was such a blessing to have some time with these ladies, even if it was too short.

Then was the long-awaited reunion with my college girlfriends at Andrea’s Texas reception. It was such a blessing to have some time with these ladies, even if it was too short.

In September, we announced that Baby Rodriguez is on the way!

In September, we announced that Baby Rodriguez is on the way!

The bump on Oct. 10th

The bump on Oct. 10th

It's a boy!  The ultrasound confirmed it on October 29th, but I had a feeling all along.  :)

It’s a boy! The ultrasound confirmed it on October 29th, but I had a feeling all along. 🙂

We enjoyed a beautiful fall.  This is my favorite tree at my parents' house.

We enjoyed a beautiful fall. This is my favorite tree at my parents’ house.

 

Thanksgiving was with my Mom's side of the family.  I love this picture!

Thanksgiving was with my Mom’s side of the family. I love this picture!

Bryan surprised me with tickets to see the Nutcracker at the Bass Hall for our anniversary!  :)  Pure Christmas magic.

Bryan surprised me with tickets to see the Nutcracker at the Bass Hall for our anniversary! 🙂 Pure Christmas magic.

Bryan's mom and sister came to spend Christmas with us!  It was so good to have some time with them.

Bryan’s mom and sister came to spend Christmas with us! It was so good to have some time with them.

Enjoying beautiful Sundance Square

Enjoying beautiful Sundance Square

 

We spent Christmas with my Dad's side of the family in Lubbock.  Look at these cuties.

We spent Christmas with my Dad’s side of the family in Lubbock. Look at these cuties.

 We're so thankful for our early baby presents from the Costa Rican familia!  :)  Getting ready for Baby is so surreal!

We’re so thankful for our early baby presents from the Costa Rican familia! 🙂 Getting ready for Baby is so surreal!

 

It’s been an amazing year.  This exercise of looking back through pictures has reminded me again how grateful I am.  2015 promises to be full of adventure, and I’m ready to welcome it.  Happy New Year and Feliz Año Nuevo to each one of you, dear friends and family!!

Grateful for the Growing

I took a little blogging break this fall, and posts may continue to be more sporadic for awhile.  I will post the rest of our Italy trip, but I need to interrupt that series for a minute to share some exciting news.  Bryan and I are going to have a baby! Announcement When I chose my one word for the year, I have to admit that I didn’t just choose the word “GROW” because we were moving to a new place and starting new jobs.  I hoped that our family would grow this year, too.  Now I’m well into my 2nd trimester.  Aaahhh!  Oh, and we’re buying a house for the baby to live in.  If all goes smoothly, we will be moving in January.  I’ve been wanting to write about all of these life happenings in this space for more than a month, but it all felt like too much to express.  How do you begin to describe such an experience?  I’m still not sure.  But I’m writing nonetheless, because I’m tired of not writing.  🙂

I don’t think we really, fully believed that I was pregnant until the first sonogram in August.  Then I spent the next several weeks feeling horribly ill while trying to simultaneously keep myself from worrying that something could go wrong and also mentally and emotionally prepare myself for the possibility that something could go wrong.  This sounds completely crazy, and it has been, but maybe some of my mom friends can relate?  The first trimester was rough.  It wasn’t until mid-October that I started to get my energy back and feel like myself again.  This is a humbling experience in so many ways, and I’m thankful for all that God is teaching me.

These days, we’re feeling really thankful and full of joy.  Bryan and I have basically been grinning ear to ear since the anatomy scan at Week 18.  That’s only a slight exaggeration.  It’s a BOY!admin-ajax.php

I didn’t think it was possible for my sweet husband and I to be any more sappily in love with each other, but, my goodness, this has done it.  We are both the oldest in our family, and this is the first grandchild on both sides.  So, all of our relatives are going gaga over our unborn child, too.  It’s so much fun.  Do you ever have moments or even seasons of life when you realize that you’re making memories that you will always treasure?  It’s a rare gift (for me, anyway) to be aware of that while it’s happening.  I think it’s sometimes referred to as being nostalgic for the present.  I felt that way the semester I studied abroad and got to travel around Europe with some amazing friends.  I felt it when I met Bryan and periodically during our subsequent dating, engagement and newlywed seasons.  And I feel it now.  This time is so special, and I want to soak it up and remember everything.  I hope to capture some of the experience here with updates over the next few months.  Thank you for reading, dear ones.  We would appreciate your prayers during this incredible time in our lives.  We know that everything is about to change, and we are so glad to be on this adventure together.

Last year at this time, we were saying goodbye to my beloved Pawpaw.  I still sometimes can’t believe he’s not here with us anymore.  I’m so grateful for his life and for the blessing of this new life that brings some much-needed joy to this season for our family.  Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!

Edgewalkers

When I read this article on race and identity and the “changing face of America”, I was completely riveted.  I sometimes talk here about my experience of being married to someone from another culture.  It’s not for everyone, but it’s an adventure that I truly love.  I also work with refugees and have two brothers from Uganda, so I spend a lot of time pondering diversity, cultural/racial heritage, the acculturation process, etc.  Each of us has a complex and multifaceted cultural identity.  My future kids will have two distinct cultures they can claim.  We want them to know both and be able to weave them together in a way that makes sense for them.   In the article, Michele Norris goes into the statistics on interracial marriage and discusses her findings on the experiences and struggles of people who identify with more than one ethnic group.  I highly recommend reading it in it’s entirety (the pictures are stunning!!), but here is an excerpt:

Edgewalkers are like happy ambassadors who “move between cultural traditions and cultural communities with some level of ease, comfort and enjoyment.” Edgewalkers welcome questions, even when the query is boneheaded or uncomfortable (“Ooooh, is that your father?”). They are calm when people stare or ask about their suntans or light eyes. They enjoy confounding people. Humor is always in their toolbox. Patience too. They see these encounters as a chance to chip away at a tortured history.

Isn’t this what we want for all multiethnic children?  Oh, that we could all be comfortable in our skin and well-adjusted enough to laugh ourselves when the occasion calls for it.   (i.e. http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/)  It’s a work in progress for many of us.  We live in a fallen world, but, at our best, we are able to see the beauty in each other’s unique features AND our own and to laugh at the humanity that makes us assume things about each other, trusting that our assumptions don’t come from a place of malice.  I will say that since changing my last name to Rodriguez, I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing some less-than-subtle surprised reactions when people who have seen my name meet me (with my blonde hair and blue eyes and pinkish skin) in person for the first time.  It’s occurred to me that it would be really great to obtain a PhD and have a guest speaking gig where I was just introduced as Dr. Rodriguez.  How many people do you think would be expecting a middle-aged Latino man to walk out onto the stage?  Note to self:  This is probably not a legitimate reason to pursue a PhD.  

I am thankful for the diversity in the US.  In my job, we talk about our mission to “welcome the stranger”.  The US resettled almost 60,000 refugees in 2012.  (from the ORR official website)  People from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, South America and other regions who have been persecuted and endangered are brought here each year to begin new lives full of hope.  They start businesses and pursue degrees and live out the American dream.   I am inspired and privileged to watch this happening for my clients.  Their children can grow up free to pursue their dreams and fall in love with anyone they choose.

Some of you may have heard about the Tumblr called “We Are the 15 Percent” that was started in response to the sweet Cheerios commercial featuring an interracial family.  The 2008 US census reports that 15% of new marriages in the U.S. are interracial.  My friend, Julie, and her husband were featured there, and I loved scrolling through and seeing the beautiful families.  I submitted a photo of me and Bryan on our wedding day, and they published it on our anniversary.  Here it is.  I know I have a lot to learn, so here’s a shout out to the Edgewalkers among us.  🙂

382870_2995157321976_2107353601_n

My Costa Rican siblings 🙂

Day Fourteen: Commiserating

When I think about grad school, I remember long hours in the library.  I remember doing some tough self-reflection and stretching myself thin trying to balance internships and research.  I remember sleepless nights thinking about client situations that made me feel helpless and eating toast for dinner while I survived on a stipend.  It was challenging.  Once you finish something like that, you’re always glad you did it.  Now I have that degree, and I always will.  But that’s not the only reason I’m glad I did it.

Reflecting on that season of life, I think about conversations and experiences shared with friends that encouraged me along the way.  My colleagues from the program are scattered far and wide now living out their callings in a wide variety of ways.  We listened to each others frustrations—empathizing, validating, blowing off steam together.  The commiserating was crucial.  It was the passionate, intelligent fellow future social workers I studied alongside that made my grad school experience so rich and memorable.  I’m thankful for them and the work they’re doing now to make the world a better place.

convocationI

Day Twelve: Pen Pals

I picked up this book about Julia Child and her pen pal, Avis DeVoto, at a bookstore recently.  I didn’t buy it, but it did get me thinking.  I had a few pen pals throughout my growing up years and always loved the concept of exchanging letters.  I still find it so gratifying to read and write handwritten letters.  There is something to be said for taking the time to sit down and write a letter—an update, a reflection, a thank you or show of support in a tough time.  Receiving a letter like this makes me feel special.

People are always concerned with efficiency these days.  It’s become a cultural norm.  But what if we took the time to write down our thoughts on nice stationary and send them to our confidants?  It’s a tradition that I’d like to recapture.  I think there’s something almost magical about it.  One thing that I appreciate about Avis and Julia’s pen pal friendship is that they didn’t just write thank you notes for gifts or sympathy cards when one of them lost a loved one.  They wrote back and forth regularly just sharing about their day to day lives.

I talked earlier in this series about long distance friendships.  It’s remarkable to think that these two women were able to maintain such a close friendship without any of the technologies that we enjoy today.  Letter writing feels very personal, and it kept them connected.  They sustained a strong friendship, felt free to discuss topics that they might not broach in public, and ultimately supported each other over the course of many years and seasons of life.

Julia and Avis

photo credit

I think I’ve just inspired myself to get some new stationary.  🙂

Day Ten: Shared History

When I was a sophomore in college, I studied abroad for a semester in England.  I believe there were fifteen girls and ten guys in our group.  We lived in two houses next door to each other.  We studied together, shared all of our meals, traveled together, worshiped together, etc, etc.

It was a pivotal chapter in my life—spiritually and emotionally.  I think it was for a lot of us.  You could feel God working.  So many conversations and experiences from that semester will stay with me forever.  Whispered words between four girls on a late night bus ride from Oxford to London, watching a powerful thunderstorm roll in off the Mediterranean from a cliff in Cinque Terre, Italy, befriending a Australian in a Scottish hostel, watching a pack of wild horses canter past us during an Easter sunrise devotional…God was there in all of it, working in our hearts and creating an unbreakable bond among us.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity I had to share that time with that particular group of people.  These days, I don’t see many of them too often.  We keep in touch via Facebook or Instagram.  Oh, that’s a depressing sentence for an old fashioned girl like me.  It’s a good thing I’ve heard talk of a reunion in the works.  I follow some of their blogs.  Several of my study abroad friends are incredibly talented writers.  No matter where they are or how long it’s been since we’ve spoken, I still care for each of them.  The thing about shared history is that when you have meaningful experiences with people then you associate them with the emotions you felt at the time.  Because that semester was such a positive, life-giving time for me, I think happy thoughts when I think about those friends.  I will always feel a connection with them, but beyond that, thinking about them is truly uplifting.  And I think that’s pretty cool.

snow in Oxford

Day Nine: Friends of All Ages, Part II

Thirty is looming for me now, and what I’ve heard from friends is that the thirties are a truly wonderful time.  Many people feel more self-assured in their thirties.  You have a much better idea of what you stand for and what kind of a person you want to be than you did in your twenties.  You have a few things figured out.  Maybe you’re a homeowner, or you’re doing well professionally.  Maybe you have a spouse and/or offspring.

It seems to me that this confidence increases the older you get.  Have you ever had a conversation with someone in their eighties?  They’ve got nothing to prove to anyone!  In some ways, I really look forward to that–should God grant me that many years.  It’s exhausting at times to be where I am–making personal and professional decisions and figuring out which roads to take.  I have a lot to learn from older friends who have been through the crossroads that are still in front of me.

Anne Bogel is writing a thoughtful series on mentoring.  I encourage you to check it out.  It has prompted me to think about what a mentoring relationship could look like in my life.  I am thinking about coworkers or perhaps someone at church now that we are ready to get more involved there.  Have you had a mentoring relationship that has blessed your life?  I’d love to hear about it…

Fireflies

One of the best, most magical parts of summer is when the fireflies come out.  As a little girl visiting my grandparents in the piney woods of East Texas, I would stand beneath the weeping willow tree in the backyard with my sister and cousins forever holding my breath and waiting to see them glow.  My mom helped us poke holes in a baby food jar lid so that we could capture some to keep as pets.  The next morning, as soon as I opened my eyes, I would cradle the jar on the nightstand.  They usually hadn’t survived the night, so I waited for dusk to catch a new batch.  I loved them so.

Fireflies

credit

They still hold some magic for me.  When I was in college, a friend introduced me to the lovely, mellow music of Mason Jennings.  He has a song with these lyrics…

And honey I’m sure
That you’ve been in love before
Plenty of men have held high places in your eyes
And jealousy has got no use for me
The past is beautiful
Like the darkness between the fireflies

I saw my first fireflies of the season last week, and I’ve had this song in my head ever since.  What an image, isn’t it?  A dear friend of mine is getting married to someone she met while working as a missionary overseas.  In some ways, thinking about their situation and impending intercultural marriage has really taken me back to the past…the early months of my relationship with Bryan.  I emailed her recently about something entirely different and found myself writing about our joys and struggles during that beginning phase.IMG_1539

The fact that we need plane tickets and a passport to travel from one of our families to the other is something that will always be a challenge for us, and we’re constantly trying to balance and reevaluate (especially me).  I want to make sure that he never resents the choice he made.  People often say to my  husband, “Wow, I don’t know how you handle being so far from your family and friends…” or “You moved from Costa Rica to Texas?!  Why?  It’s so beautiful there!”  (only causing me to further despise small talk).  I try to keep my cool on the surface, but those comments really sting.  He moved here to be with me.  We Skype with his family at least once a week and see them as often as possible, but we still miss them so much.  And, yes, he misses the natural beauty of his homeland, too, but there are plenty of things he loves about Texas.

I told my friend that if her fiance ever wants to talk someone who fell in love with an American and moved to Texas, I know Bryan would be happy to listen, empathize and be a source of encouragement.  I wrote that I think intercultural marriages can end up being  strong in a unique way.  There are things that we are hypersensitive to that couples from the same country might take for granted.  We work on our communication constantly because of our cultural and language differences.  [For example, when he looks at me like I’m crazy when I ask about our plans for the following month, we talk through our different cultural perspectives on making plans.  :)]  It’s affirming, too, that we have made sacrifices in order to be together.  Knowing that we chose each other even though it wasn’t the easiest road really gives us confidence in our relationship.  We believe that God brought us together and it’s SO worth the sacrifices and inconveniences.

When I look back on what we’ve come through in order to be together—our first Valentine’s Day via Skype; countless hours of studying for Bryan in his second language; financial hardship; being separated from family; waiting and trusting that God would provide a student visa and, later, a green card; my frustration with not being able to communicate well enough in Spanish to really get to know my husband’s family and friends; so many misunderstandings and moments of confusion or frustration due to cultural differences…God has brought us through all of it.  We all can relate to the idea in the song, I think.  The darkness brings us to a place of light.  We have been through darkness that makes us stronger and more grateful.  So, wherever you are this morning, friends, (literally and figuratively), please be encouraged.  Here’s hoping we see more fireflies before the summer’s end.