Thursday, October 23, 2008

God Said No

Emma has taken to praying before we eat our lunch these days...something, I'm embarrassed to say, I haven't really taught her to do. We generally pray before dinner and before bedtime, but for some reason our cheerios and pb & j sandwiches have been missing out on their daily blessing around here.

She is trying to sneak in as many prayers as possible in a campaign to get the baby to come out sooner. She may be more impatient for this baby to be born than I am. One day when she was begging my stomach to release the baby treasure within, I told her that, really, when the baby comes out was up to God (and the baby) and that we didn't have a lot of say in it. I told her if she wanted the baby to come out that she should pray about it and ask God to make it happen. Problem solved, and onto unloading the dishwasher for me. Ahh, but things are never that simple are they?

So now Emma prays before lunch and at other times of the day. Instead of her usual rote prayer where she pretty much thanks him for Daddy, Mommy, Charlie and a whole laundry list of things that are important to her like leaves and spider costumes and granola bars, she is now asking God for something. No, she is not asking, she is beseeching. Beseeching is a really weird word. I don't think I've ever written it down before. Anyway, her prayer starts out "Dear God" like usual and then she gets down to business. "God?" She says, as though she's checking to see if he's listening. "God? Please let this baby be born TOMORROW. Amen." She doesn't throw in any of that "if it's your will" jazz, or "if you're not busy with other stuff" like I might do. I always feel weird asking God for things so boldly. I usually try to be more cool about it.

Well she prayed that prayer two days ago and here we all are still, me typing at the computer, the baby pushing my tummy out so it's almost touching the keyboard. Yesterday, Emma told me, apropos of nothing, "God said no." We hadn't been talking about the baby or anything, but I knew what she was talking about. It's a hard truth to witness your child learn...that sometimes God says no to what we ask for. I imagine, up until now, Emma has thought of God as this big Santa Claus type of guy up in Heaven who is just hanging out granting wishes to people from his little workshop in the clouds. I even think of him that way sometimes and then get frustrated when God says no. Why would he say no to sick friends getting better, to us moving closer to family, to a child's request for a baby to be born? I don't pretend to fully understand it. All I know for sure is that he does have a plan for all of us and it is better than any of us could envision for ourselves. Maybe his vision will not make our lives easier, or fancier or more comfortable, but it will most likely shape us into what and who he wants us to be, which is sort of the goal of, well, life. Right?

So, all Emma and I can do at this point is be patient and pray and hope for the best. It's not glamorous, but I think it's teaching us both more than we realize: that we are not in charge here, and that's a good thing.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The calm before the storm

Everything is strangely normal at our house considering everything is about to change in just 19 short days from now. And no, I'm not just referring to the election, although election day just happens to be my due date. Everything seems relatively normal, but there's an electricity in the air, an anticipation that makes the mundane seem more poignant. As I give the kids a bath at night I think, these are the last nights I'm only going to have to bathe two kids. As we struggle to go down three flights of stairs and head off fifteen minutes late to wherever we were supposed to be fifteen minutes ago, I think, these are the last few times I will only have to haul two kids down three flights of stairs and strap them into car seats. Pretty soon I will be nursing a baby while Emma and Charlie do their art work all over the kitchen floor and I will be rendered essentially powerless if they decide to start painting their toenails with watercolors or building a robot out of my colanders.

I realize intellectually that I have it pretty easy right now as I can do things like head upstairs to take a shower whenever the mood strikes me and not worry about leaving the kids unattended for a few minutes. I have a few afternoons off during the week while they are both at preschool and I am a giantly pregnant lady of leisure, free to waddle the aisles of Babies 'r Us and Target all by myself. Or sometimes during their preschool hours I will put on my hypnobirthing CDs and catch a few hypno-induced zzzz's (I have yet to make it through an entire CD without falling asleep).

Life is good right now and I have it pretty easy. I realize this, but I still can't stand the waiting any longer. I am just dying to meet this new baby and have him come join our little foursome, making everything wonderfully chaotic and complicated. I know that he will only be about 20 inches long, won't be able to see more than a few feet in front of his face, will likely sleep a good portion of the time and eat the rest of the time, but I have been preparing our home as though we were expecting Martha Stewart or Prince Charles to drop in for a visit any second. Just in case the new babe decides to go rifling through my closet, he will find that I have dedicated certain areas for all my craft stuff, my yarn carefully wound and organized by color, my scrapbook stickers, paper, and pictures lovingly appointed. I have organized my pantry for him, cleaned out everyone's closets and the garage. I have gone to Costco to buy a forest's worth of paper towels and toilet paper, shampoo by the gallons, tomato sauce and coffee by the crate. It's like I'm preparing for some kind of permanent house guest who just happens to be staying with us during Y2K or a hurricane.

When I'm not obsessively nesting, I've been trying to pass the time by doing some projects (or "projecks" as Emma would call them) that help me keep my mind off of the whole having a baby thing. Here's what I've been up to lately:

Planning, sketching, discussing and designing Halloween costumes. Halloween and the potential craftiness that it can inspire has been a great distraction to me and the kids. We have been discussing their Halloween costumes for about the past two weeks and we're just now getting around to the business of actually making them. Here is our sketch of Emma's Supergirl costume:

This was the first of many Halloween costume ideas she has come up with. She changes her mind daily though. Most recently she has decided she wanted to be a spider-witch. There was also a point in time where she wanted to be a star, for me to be Earth, Brandon to be Saturn and Charlie to be a rocket. I think I would make a great planet, so I was all excited about this idea, but, alas, she has moved on to other ideas. Last night she said she just wanted to be a princess. Whatever. I've relinquished any control over her and her Halloween ideas.

Charlie is much more decisive and focused in his interests. At first he wanted to be Wall-e. Here is our Wall-e costume sketch:

I think in theory this would be a really cute costume for Charlie. I like that he's into nerdy stuff like environmentally conscious robots and I want to support that interest, but I know Charlie. There is no way he's wearing a spray-painted box for more than like two seconds. He is all about robots, but he is also all about comfort and so Wall-e is just not in the cards I think. Luckily, he decided on his own that he wanted to be a "3-2-1 blast-off rocket" instead and I think that sounds like a much more wearable costume (at least the way I'm designing it). So here is the "3-2-1 blast-off rocket" so far....

It's a work in progress, but I think it will be cute. I just have to figure out a way to make the pointy top part of the rocket in such a way that is comfy, yet pointy and rocket-like. I'm thinking I'll make some sort of cone hat out of black felt and somehow affix it to a hat or hooded sweatshirt? I'm open to suggestions if anyone has any.

Emma just informed me that she decided she wants to be Supergirl now. Looks like it's time to figure out a way to make a yellow sequin-sparkle mask and track down some purple tights. I better run. I hope the baby is born soon, but not too soon. There's lots of important work still to be done!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

(Paper bag) Princess Party

I am feeling so uninspired to do anything lately that does not involve yarn, felt or, apparently, butter. It seems I have been going through butter at an alarming rate. That is probably because I made this crazy castle cake for Emma's birthday party.

The cake involved baking five little cakes and layering them. It seemed like it would be really easy after watching this video of some pastry chef masquerading as a normal lady make the cake. Anyway, my cake had a few foundation problems and leaned way over to the side, causing the ice cream cone turrets to sort of come at you from weird, scary angles. Emma was very happy with it though and it tasted okay so that was really all that mattered.

Not that you asked, but here are the puppets and backdrop I made for the Paper Bag Princess party.

It turns out it's really easy and rewarding to make your own puppets. I found an easy pattern for making the base of the puppet (I would share it with you, but I can't seem to find it on the internet just now). Then I just had fun gluing on their faces and accessories. As their faces came to life I just kept smiling at my little felt creations. It's probably hormonal (on my part not the puppets'), but they just seemed to have their own little puppet personalities once I was done with them. Anyway, I highly recommend making some puppets. And it's so fun to personalize them to your child's favorite stories. I still owe Charlie a rocket ship puppet. Here's our puppet show in case you're interested in checking it out!

The other fun, crafty thing I did for the party was to make giant coloring pages to serve as decoration and a party activity for the kids. Basically, I scanned in pictures from the Paper Bag Princess book. Then I turned the scanned picture into a black and white line drawing by using the "lithograph" setting on the software that came with my printer/scanner. I also have a similar setting on the software that came with my Kodak digital camera--it's called "coloring book" in that software. Anyway, I turned a color picture like this:

Into a coloring book page like this

Then I took the black and white pages to Kinko's and blew them up to 2 ft. x 3 ft. posters for the kids to color. You can see the same picture behind Emma & Charlie in this picture.

I was very pleased with how the big coloring pages turned out and I think they would also be a fun and inexpensive way to jazz up a kid's bedroom. You could have them up as coloring pages and give your child (washable) crayons to use at his/her leisure or you could frame some favorite storybook art this way too. Oh, my brain is just bursting with the craft ideas at the moment! Not so much with the writing, but for everything there is a season, right?

Here's another project I've been working on at night (instead of blogging):

I won't tell you how long it took me to get that one piece of the baby sweater completed. I had to start over at least eight times before I finally got the hang of the cables. Before I figured out the pattern, the baby in that Time For Baby picture would stare up at me and I imagined he was saying, while smiling his smug little baby smile "you'll never figure out how to make this sweater. You are completely incapable of knitting cables, silly." But I sure showed him. Check out those cables, baby. Who's silly now? I am now working on the front of the sweater and so far, so good. Once I figure out all the weird knitting lingo and my hands just start doing what they're supposed to do and I don't hear that baby making fun of me in my head, I really enjoy knitting--especially knitting for a baby that is kicking and wriggling around as I my needles click along. I can't help but think of the following verses (from Psalm 139):

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

There is something almost holy about knitting something for a baby. With each stitch there is the opportunity to ponder this new life that is on the cusp of being in this world, but is still not quite here yet. How will this baby leave his mark? What will his particular gifts and talents be? What will my job be as his mother? I love to think about this stuff as I make his little brown sweater. That is so much more fascinating to me at the moment than writing. Writing, I'll come back to you soon, I promise. For now, I've got a sweater I simply have to make.