oh baby, telephone.

i hadn’t planned on giving asher much for his first birthday. he already had plenty of toys and household objects to keep his attention. besides, one year olds think cardboard and wooden spoons are amazing.

one day in september we were leisurely cruising through costco. he loves riding in shopping carts as well as eating the little whopper sized samples. that day he was feasting on toast with jam and indian curry.

we’d made our way to the book display, and that’s when it happened. he was beyond excited. he spotted a book with a green tractor on the front. he was making so much noise and motioning for it that people around us stopped to watch and laugh. i couldn’t ignore his enthusiasm. i was coerced by my child to make a purchase.

amid all the christmas frenzy i walked up and down the toy aisles with asher in the shopping cart. i wanted to see what caught his eye. i already planned on a very minimal christmas with bath fizzies at the top of the list. hearing him gasp at all the fun things made me almost want to buy up things willy nilly. but he was a fickle toy lover, as most toddlers tend to be. as soon as he had a beanie baby in his clutches, he discarded it for go go police car which quickly fell to the wayside for a thomas the train.

it has been incredible to watch his preferences take shape.

early on it was clocks, lights, watches, tags, balls and steam.

soon dogs became his favorite. daily he watches our neighbor’s dog out our back windows.

he loves anything that goes vroom; garbage trucks, semis, tractors, buses, cars. he hears every airplane that flies overhead, even while we are inside the house. he shows me a modified version of the airplane sign and adds a sound effect.

he picks out every bird, no matter how high up in the sky, and snaps his fingers against his thumb.

lately he fancies light switches (especially the one that turns on the bathroom fan), kitchen utensils, our slippers (worn on his hands), earbuds and all remote controls.

around nine months i casually began introducing a few signs, but i wasn’t consistent and didn’t pick it back up until several months later. somewhere in there he started showing us a sign in earnest. he’d hold one hand out while rubbing his pointer finger across his palm. we were puzzled. we didn’t recognize it at all. frustrated that we weren’t understanding him, he’d get a little overzealous with the rubbing. frantically trying to communicate with us.

after some speculation we realized he had invented his very own sign… for our iphones.

christmas loot 2014our reluctance to let him play with the desired phones has not deterred his requests. sometimes, first thing in the morning, he eagerly asks for it. or during church when he sees someone on an ipad. or at a restaurant when someone nearby is texting.

this kid is cuckoo for electronics.

needless to say, santa will not be bringing little whopper a smart phone this christmas.

………………………..
hello! ma baby; howard and emerson

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i believe.

this summer, sitting in a cushioned chair at the paramount, i realized i was ashamed of a decision i had made.

we had been curious.

i admit i find occasional south park episodes amusing and harmless. i understood the show’s content would be potentially questionable yet i was still interested in seeing it for myself. i wanted to understand better how it portrayed my faith which is a huge part of me. i felt that seeing the thing would equip me to better discuss it with others.

i realize now how flawed that logic is. i didn’t need to experiment to be able to just say no just like i don’t need to touch fire to know i’ll be burned.

and so we sat in the orchestra, feeling like spies among the theater goers.

it began, and i laughed through most of the first act. it used a quirky inside humor about our religious culture. i was surprised those seated near us were laughing so hard. i thought the lds specific jokes would have been lost on them.

and then the second act happened.

it was crude and vulgar and shockingly offensive in a way that any morally inclined, god-fearing spectator would have been offended. i didn’t laugh the rest of the show. i hunched over in my seat, ashamed.

the one dim little light in that entire dark night was the number, i believe.

i was familiar with that song from youtube and found it to be beautifully powerful. however, i was physically shocked when the audience laughed at the repeated phrase, a mormon just believes. i felt personally wounded by their laughter. i hadn’t taken those lyrics as comical. i took them to mean we are faithful despite what life throws our way. when faced with the unknown we have faith. we trust in god. we believe. 

we quickly exited the theater. walking up pine and then pike we talked about the evening. the show. our mistake. and our belief.

looking back on that ride home i recall our disappointment – but surprisingly what stands out to me the most is the undeniable spirit we felt. the spirit that admonishes, prompts, teaches and guides us. the spirit that testifies of Him.

tonight i helped a little boy, on the verge of walking, open his little people nativity. i watched him as he moved the animals, held the angel and tossed the wise men. i held my breath as he braced himself with one arm and reached the other out to grab ornaments off the tree.

and then i thought about faith.

how it is born fragile, needing to be held, and rocked, and fed.

eventually it wants to be independent, but it still needs to be supported.

until, miraculously, it takes several steps unassisted.

through trial and error, through trust, through action, that faith becomes belief.

i believe.

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we’re up all night.

what is your favorite thing about the munchkin? i asked.

when i’m holding him and he rests his head on my shoulder and takes a deep breath right before falling asleep. he said.

there are entirely too many favorites. each day is filled with them.

this week it was watching him lay flat on his tummy in the bath for the first time. he sang loudly while his little legs kept busy kicking behind.

it was me growling while i crawl-chased him and now he has the best gravelly growl ever. (even if he unleashes it during sacrament meeting).

it was throwing him all his little socks while i folded the laundry. he likes socks, but this time i saw recognition as he bent forward and touched the sock to his toes.

it was understanding his cute little voice saying thank you.

it was watching him turn anything into a phone and have a conversation.

hello? can you hear me now?

hello? can you hear me now?

it was hearing very loud crunching after discovering little whopper on the kitchen floor, feasting on pirate’s booty that he looted from a drawer.

it was laughing so hard each time he pointed to his chest and said proudly dada! despite repeated lessons pointing to each of us and saying the appropriate name.

it was walking into a mall decked out with christmas and seeing him excitedly point to all the lights.

it was having christian work from home today and not being able to keep the baby downstairs. every chance he got he made a break for the office, making it all the way up the stairs, down the hall, and banging on the door repeatedly.

and like it’s been since he was less a little boy and more a little baby – it is dancing. he’s loved everything our turntable has spun. he especially loves a made up beat christian busts out frequently.

it’s in the middle of those living room dance parties that is my very favorite.

i am thankful for a husband who is not a dancer, but becomes one for our little boy.

……………………………………..
get lucky by daft punk

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something in between.

due to my position at church i have access to people’s feelings and concerns. women approach me when they are in need, are frustrated or want me to take action. something that i did not expect is an overwhelming sentiment spanning the divide of age and position. it is loneliness. so many perceive they do not belong. they assume everyone else is happily connected without them.

part of perception is that even if it is false, if that is how the individual perceives reality, than to them, it is truth.

among these determinations is the unhelpful need to categorize. when we categorize we shut ourselves off to opportunities. and friendships.

unsurprisingly – almost everyone seems to feel as if they do not quite fit in.  converts.  young mothers. mothers of teens. child-less women. single women. divorced women. empty nesters. grandmothers. women with inactive or non-member family members.

i have felt this throughout our marriage. the first few years we were outsiders in a heavily student ward in seattle. it was amusing to see people try to figure out why we were in seattle and how to categorize us, no children, graduated from school, late 20s, not from the pacific northwest… you could almost see the steam rise as their brains did not compute.

our move to the suburbs brought confusion since everyone assumed we were in our early 20s. everyone our age had on average three children. some were even teenagers. despite those differences we made excellent friends.

and then things shifted when we had asher.

it has been an interesting past year socially.

having a first baby in your late 30s is complicated. do i belong to the young new mom group? or is my group those who are my age but are done having kids and gearing up for the tween years? or is my group those slightly older than me with teenagers?

finding a new balance has been tricky. the truth is i don’t feel like i belong to any one group because i have friends within each. maybe that is how it should be. the pre-set groups are more confining than inviting. we should be open to wherever we can serve, or love or befriend.

……..
anna begins by counting crows

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fancy pants.

why do you have to make something fancy?? christian asks.

i usually ignore him. from day one he’s said things like, we don’t need to use napkins, paper towels work fine. or why are you using serving dishes? it’s just getting one more thing dirty. or you don’t need to make a dessert.

quickly you can see how our differing belief systems regarding food and kitchen clash.

on almost a nightly basis he consumes some form of snack before dinner. the top contenders are: an entire sleeve of oreos, ritz crackers with peanut butter and honey or mini pretzels. when given meal options 100% of the time he will request lasagna, even though he knows we don’t keep ricotta on hand. when in a hunger pinch, top ramen + broccoli will do or several bowls of cold cereal. he puts kitchen gadgets, mixing bowls, pots and pans away willy nilly. when asked to retrieve an ingredient from the big freezer, after some rummaging he usually says, it’s not in there. and then i go and dig the thing out. without fail he never remembers if i wanted salted or unsalted butter. he likes to let things pile up in the sink. he calls it soaking.

sunday night, he protested from the couch – mid mario kart race while simultaneously trying to keep little whopper at bay from the controller. i wanted to make some treat deliveries to a few friends that night. i was just about ready to drop the doughnut holes into the hot oil.

you’re making something fancy, aren’t you? 

no just some doughnut holes.

wait, you have to heat oil up for that and fry them. why don’t you just make some cookies?

i brushed him off. who was i to take culinary advice from a grown man-child who would eat pizza every day for the rest of his life? besides, doughnut holes aren’t fancy. i didn’t even make a yeasted dough or roll it out. now that would have been fancy.

the holes sizzled while little whopper wanted my attention and christian growled at the cheating computer. i proceeded to stubbornly fry all of the dough even though batch after batch was burning. i powdered them, thinking all they needed was a little cosmetic help. i tasted them. burnt exterior with blotchy sugary patches with doughy centers. there would be no redemption for those little blobs.

are you going to go make your deliveries? he asked.

no. they’re ruined. i said.

occasionally i get frustrated with myself in the kitchen: when my recipe doesn’t turn out like the picture. when my baked goods don’t release from the pan. when my cookies are too flat or too crunchy. when we eat quickly while gulping water because i added too much heat. when i decide to mash two recipes together on the fly yielding poor results.

despite all the misses christian is always an eager diner. devouring what i make with gratitude. except for tonight. tonight we just stared at those sad little doughnut holes and thought about the cookies we could have been eating.

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lord business.

we had driven past their little stand once already. they’d been faithfully manning it for a few hours now. the mildly warm temperature brings out a kind of frenzy here. people in shorts and tank tops pack the trails. everyone has their garage doors open while they squeeze in some outdoor projects before the inevitable rains begin. and children attempt to be small business owners, usually while wearing swimming suits.

as we passed by the lemonade stand for the second time i felt a twinge of duty. the stand vacant of customers, the brother and sister looked like they could use some support. by the time we decided to pull over we were a few houses passed the kids. christian’s mom handed me some change and i made my way back to the little entrepreneurs.

they were so excited to see me coming and got a cup of ice cold lemonade ready.

50 cents, right? i asked as i reached forward with two shiny quarters.

it’s one dollar. the big brother quickly said. the little sister held the cup out, anxiously waiting.

oh. i said looking from them to my hand and back again.

through the driver side window of the car i told christian what they were charging for lemonade powder mix.

a dollar!? we are not paying a dollar!

rather than get in the car i froze. but they think i’m coming back. i squeaked. the kids looking on in anticipation.

did you tell them you were coming back?

no, i just walked away.

well then get in the car, let’s go. 

i got in the car feeling a kind of shame mixed with extreme embarrassment. i sunk down in my seat trying to avoid those four little eyes looking on in confusion.

why are you embarrassed? christian asked. we are teaching them a business lesson. they should have been flexible and charged what the market demanded. they should have accepted the 50 cents–it was better than getting nothing.    

and that is when i remember i was married to lord business.

when the lego movie first came out people told us we would love it because it is about christian. i didn’t understand how that was possible. until about half way through watching the movie myself. i realized the baddie was really symbolic of a grown man daddy. who had a large stash of legos. and in christian’s case the do not touch signs are the equivalent of the pristine unopened packaging.

kids’ hopes are always dashed at our home. but why aren’t they opened? they cry, expecting to find a lego heaven playroom.

i guess i am lord business. christian said at the movie’s end. but i’d never super glue legos together! 

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enough.

this last week i spent some time with a deaf sister from my congregation in her home. my attempts to communicate involved lots of arms and hands speaking a made up sign language. i understood her thank yous and i did a sloppy you’re welcome, my hand signing a w but moving in the wrong direction.

asher was with me for one of the visits. excited to be in a new place with things to explore, i held him firmly, not wanting him to knock over anything. she asked a question and i understood. shaking my head i tried to convey that i don’t have other babies. he is my only one.

on a piece of paper i wrote out – i’ve had a lot of miscarriages – and something about seeing it written so abruptly and directly jarred me a bit. she clutched her heart and expressed so much love without any words. she asked his name. below my first sentence i wrote – asher – and then she wrote – beautiful.

last weekend we took asher to the museum of flight for a boeing day. the big attraction was the newly arrived 787 which will now be on display there.

our outing filled me with excitement and some trepidation.

the last time we were there, i was pregnant. for the very first time.

it was a thursday. i’d been feeling sick for a while but all pregnancy tests were negative so we were at the doctor. i was shocked when she jovially said, you’re pregnant! the nurse grabbed christian from the waiting room. we sat there so surprised and so happy. christian kept the print out from the pregnancy test for his journal.

and then we went to the museum of flight. the next day i saw a blinking heart beat for the very first time.

this time we were there with our little whopper.

he was excited to hear and see all the planes landing. he laughed at all the people, especially kids. he yelled until we took him out of the stroller and then he wanted to be held like superman so he could push the stroller himself. he enamored the families in front and behind while we wound our way through the very long line to board the 787. on board he preferred if i crouched down so he could look out the windows. he gave one of the pilots a high-five.

all the while i kept thinking how this visit was connected to the last one.

i don’t think i will stop thinking about all that has happened in between. after a long struggle, having a baby doesn’t calm the storm. it does bridge the chasm that kept you from what you wanted – but it doesn’t quiet the desire for more, or the fear of if nots.

for me, i want asher to know, that he is enough. that isn’t to say i won’t be sad at times. or things may get hard again. or someone else’s announcement may pierce me. but if it is just us with this crazy little whopper, it is enough.IMG_7024a

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