Monday, April 25, 2011

Baby Got a New Pair of Shoes!

They're actually her first pair of shoes, and she wasn't quite sure what to make of them at first. Then, after chewing the toes (while wearing the shoes) and examining the soles she forgot about them and went back to standing up so that she could reach the remote control. Since she was wearing the shoes, I let her play with it for a minute as a reward.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Daddy Time

Ella LOVES her daddy. Here, she's working on walking toward him. I love the trust in her eyes, the focus she has on his face.

And then there's a round of applause:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Laundry Assistant

Ella likes to help me do the laundry. She's a sorter. The only problem is, everything she picks up, she throws behind her. She also doesn't know that the stuff that's already folded doesn't need to be sorted.

Friday, April 15, 2011

A churchy little town

It's a churchy little town we live in.

The first morning we woke up here, there was a flier on our door about HOPE (it was all caps). Then it said there would be "great singing, outstanding music, a message of Hope from Matthew 28:1-10--Jesus’ Resurrection - Why It Really Matters."

Justin read it out loud and said, "They put that last?"

I laughed. "Justin, sometimes you're just spot on."

We won't be going to that church.

Then, last night, missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints came by looking, by name, for the teenage girl who used to live here. When I told the young man that she had moved, he told me he was here to share the message of hope... did I want to learn more about... I told him "Thank you, but I'm Christian. I don't believe in... I'm Lutheran."

He asked me if I knew anyone in the area that needed service, "We do service projects. We paint houses..."

"No, thank you. We don't need anything; I don't know, we're just renters," I stumbled, glancing at Ella, who was sitting in her play yard watching skeptically. "Thanks, though."

They left.

Then today, there was a pamphlet from the Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses in Westminster (a couple of towns over). JESUS "TAKES AWAY the SIN of the WORLD." It reads. "How does he do so? Why is this necessary? How can you benefit?" Then it says, "Each year, Jehovah's Witnesses gather to commemorate Juesus' death on its anniversary. This year, the anniversary falls on Sunday, April 17, after sundown."

So now I'm confused. Palm Sunday is April 17. Maundy Thursday is April 21. Good Friday is April 22. Easter is April 24.

Good Friday is April 22, but "the anniversary" is April 17?

There's a banner on Main Street (it really is called that) advertising a Sunrise Service at 7 a.m. on the beach sponsored by the United Methodist Church. Ella and I might go to that. The three of us will all go to the 10:30 service at Our Savior's Lutheran Church.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ella is OK with the House

Maybe it's because I stopped calling it the Scary House and started calling it the Palace of Joy, but Ella is growing comfortable in her new home.

She's sleeping right now, hopefully for the night. Justin is at work. I am sitting on the couch and I cannot see my entire home from here, like I could before, when we lived in the apartment.

However, I could see it all if it were daytime--there are that many windows.

The house, as I've mentioned before, is J-shaped. Backward J-shaped. The inside of the J is all windows, so from the kitchen (the tip of the short end of the J) I can see through the courtyard to Ella's bedroom (in the top of the long end of the J).

I'll post pictures soon. Right now it's all boxes and mess, and my camera is in a cupboard for safekeeping.

Monday, April 11, 2011

And for her final trick...

Ella couldn't move out of the apartment without reaching one last milestone.

Justin put her in her crib for a moment and left the room. When he returned she was standing, gripping the rail.

Earlier, I had caught her in the attempt and captured it on film. He managed to capture the final  event; it's a good thing I leave my camera lying around for people to use.

She starts out innocently enough.

But you can tell she's got plans.

She's on her way.

"I think I can..."
And there she is

Our life as we knew it is over.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

10,000 knives when all you need is a fork....

We're moving.

I packed all the cutlery, all the cookware, all the dishes, all the knives.

I figured we'd use the plastic stuff until we unpacked in two days. 

Then, I opened our Costco-box of plasticware and found two BAGS of knives, two spoons and a fork.

Tonight is Ella's last night in this apartment we call home. It's her last night sleeping in Redondo Beach because tomorrow night she will stay with Grandma, since we're taking the crib apart for the movers who are coming on Tuesday morning.

I am so looking forward to living in a house. I finished the shelf-papering today and put everything away so that the movers will have easy access to the spaces they will fill with our worldly goods. It is so much space. And, bonus, it is still just two blocks from the ocean. We're still on the west side of PCH. We'll be walking distance from coffee shops, grocery stores, bars and the library, just like we wanted. There's really nothing to miss here.

But I still feel sentimental.

This move marks the end of us living like starving college students. Justin and I have known each other for almost ten years. (We met on June 16, 2001, but that's another story.) For our almost nine-year marriage we have been living in apartments, with usually one income, and mostly just the two of us.

Then we had Ella.

In two days, we move into a house with a backyard and a (treadmill) pool and hot tub. In just over two months, Justin starts working as a doctor, an attending, not a resident, not a student but a genuine practitioner of medicine. We'll be able to grocery shop at a store, instead of the Commissary (cheaper food, less selection, no customer service, baggers who work for tips-only). We will be able to buy replacement socks when ours get holes. Ella can have (almost) anything she wants. Anything she needs. I won't have to keep explaining to people that Justin is a doctor, but he's a resident which means he doesn't get paid like a doctor--more like a teacher.

Yet, I wax sentimental.

I've been thinking a lot about our move from our Mira Mesa house (we did once rent a house--when I was working as a teacher, and he was a medical student) to Hillcrest.

I had asked Justin to hide the knives.

You see, when we moved from that house, we were moving from the house that had space for a baby's room to a small two-bedroom apartment, where Justin would have an office in which to study his third-year medical school information. We were moving from the house where we lived when I had my miscarriage. We were moving at a time when I was on disability because of my postpartum depression turned major depressive disorder.

I remember two things.

We were going to have a garage sale on the weekend, but during my outpatient Cognitive Behavioral Therapy group session I had talked (again) about suicide and they decided I should go inpatient for a while.

"But we're having a garage sale this weekend."

"That sounds like a stressful situation."

"But we're moving and I have to help with the packing."

And so it went.

Justin held the garage sale on his own; I hear a friend helped him. He had just taken a final, and one of his friends drove with him to the hospital so they could take my car home.

It was almost Easter.

I believe in the resurrection of the dead, and the life everlasting.

I remember being in the new apartment after our friends helped us move in--we were still U-Haul-ers then. Justin had to leave for something. He asked me if I would be OK. I said yes, I would be fine. I intended to stay on the couch and watch Netflix episodes of Law and Order: Criminal Intent while he was gone. But could he please hide the knives.

He did. I remember I built a little barricade to the kitchen, so that not only were the knives hidden, but also I would have to really think about it and try hard to get to them and accidentally use one to cut myself.

Crazy, isn't it?

Now, here I am, writing in the middle of the night while my baby sleeps in the next room. Moving from our tiny Redondo Beach apartment to a house in Seal Beach with a laundry room and an office and a room for my little girl.

It feels like it's all coming together and I am so in awe of it all.

I hardly know what to say, but, "Thank you."

Friday, April 08, 2011

Ella Hates the House least as much as she hated the pumpkin patch.

Ella cried every time we put her down near a pumpkin. We think maybe it was because the hay was itchy?

Ella cried every time we put her down any where in the house. We think maybe it was because it's new to her?
It could also be the road work they are doing right outside our door. There are diggers and tractors rolling around, and men yelling over the din. She also hates the vacuum cleaner, and Justin was vacuuming today. He thought maybe holding her while he did it would help, but she ended up quaking in his arms. It didn't help that one of the attachments fell off and as he replaced it he sucked up some of her hair.

I can handle it when she's crying and there is no good reason for it, that I can detect, at least. I can basically handle it. But seeing her terrified was torturing me. I had to sit with her and her toys (including George! her comforting stuffed animal/blanket monkey!) in the new play yard. When I tried to escape the cage so I could lay some shelf paper, she wailed.

We ended up driving her over to my mom's house so she could hang out with her grandma and we could get some work done around the house.

More pictures soon--I just had my cell phone with me today.

Incidentally, she wore the same jeans today that she wore to the pumpkin patch--she  was five months old then and is almost 11 months old today... they are size six months.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Parenting in non-parallel time

The trouble with being an ER doctor's wife is that our lives do not operate in parallel time.

I'm sitting on the couch waiting for him to wake up at 11 p.m. so I can go to sleep after talking to Justin about buying a BOB for $200 from some lady in Irvine. (Here are the pictures she sent me:)

I could go to sleep now, but if I wait one more hour I will actually sleep, rather than tossing and turning while I watch the clock, afraid I will fall asleep and miss my chance to have a conversation.

I imagine that a wife of a partner with a normal work schedule would have had this conversation before 8:27 p.m.--the moment in which I sent an e-mail to the Craigslist seller of the BOB Revolution Stroller Strides Stroller saying I wanted to buy her stroller.

Instead, I have been making parenting decisions via facebook for most of the night.

It's how I get by, when Justin is working or sleeping and I need to get through an experience as the only adult in the room--especially when it is too late to call my mom.

Take for instance, sleep training.

Ella used to like falling asleep lying swaddled on a pillow next to me. When she finally fell asleep, I would carefully carry her to her crib, praying that I could lower her to the mattress without waking her.

One night, she was fussing next to me and it was getting later and later, and I was desperately tired.

I realized that I could either let her fuss, finally fall asleep, wake up on the way to the crib, and then start all over again, or I could start sleep training.

I took a deep breath and chose to sleep train.

Knowing that the key to sleep training is the ability for the child to comfort herself, I also had to teach her to sleep unswaddled.

So, for the first time in our lives, I put her down in just her pajamas with her pacifier and nothing else in the crib, told her I loved her and left the room.

The crying began.

On the other side of her door, which means in our living room, I began pacing. Then I turned to my facebook account. My friends-who-have-been-there saved me from myself. (I wish I could go back on facebook and find the posts.) They told me it was hard for them, too, the first night. They told me that it was the only way to go. They told me they weren't "in that camp", but that they wished me luck. They told me my doctor was right--that I had to let her cry. They told me they would find a different doctor. A friend whose kids I know feel secure and loved and safe told me she did it and that helped me to know that I could do it, too.

Ella fell asleep after almost an hour of crying. (Later, friends told me I got off lucky.)

As my friend with the happy kids told me, it took three nights and she has slept well ever since--except when she had a cold and when she was teething. I'm afraid I'll jinx it, blogging about it so late at night, but she sleeps through the night! And she still loves me.

So tonight, when I needed to ask someone if $200 was a good buy for a BOB, I turned to facebook.

I gained encouragement, a reminder that it is a lot of money for a stroller and a reminder that it is a good deal. (They sell for $439 + tax new.)

So now, I feel more sure of my decision to make the purchase; I just want to talk to my husband about it first.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011


I've reached the point in packing where I keep sitting down on the couch, staring at things and wondering what to do next.

We've estimated that we have about 15 hours, so probably 30, left of packing to do.

This would be a reasonable estimation, if Justin weren't working nights and sleeping during the day for the next 4 of 6 days left until we move. And if I didn't have a baby in the apartment.

Instead, I keep retreating to the couch.  "Aaaaaaahhhhhh!"

It's also a problem that everything I look at might be useful in the next few days. Do we need the plates? The bowls? How about the pots and pans? What will we eat?

Ella can't go without her toys.

Justin is sleeping in the room with the clothes.

I don't have a place to lay the paintings once I wrap them in blankets that doesn't invite the baby to throw herself down on the blanket to cuddle.

But it's really going to be OK. It gets done. Somehow.

There's also stuff to do at the new house.

We're going to be surrounded by storage space, which is hugely exciting, given that we've been living with boxes piled in our living room and covered with a pretty blue sarong for 3 years.

But I'm obsessed with shelf paper.

Probably 15 hours of shelf papering to do.

"Justin, I don't know how people move without their lease overlapping. You know, like be out by April 30th and in on May 1st."

"They probably just throw it all together."

"That seems chaotic to me."

"They probably think our way of doing it is more chaotic."

"They're probably right."

But I want everything in our new house to be just right, so that we don't have the kind of mess we have here. I know there will be a certain amount of disarray--after all, a one-year-old will be living with us, but at least we can start off right.

All that said, I should probably do something around here. Maybe pack up the paintings and put them in the car overnight so we can move them tomorrow?

Monday, April 04, 2011

Can't sleep.

Thought checking my social networks would help.

Learned that a friend of a friend who is a friend of mine is going into hospice care... cancer.

I know what hospice care is like--we did it with Justin's mom.



(I was going to erase prayerful, because it sounds impossible if I'm speechless. But then I realized God knows the prayer that is in our hearts.)

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Giggling on the Swings

No more tears--Ella now giggles on the swings.

One Really Big Church

I am loving that this blog is inviting spiritually-based conversation from all over North America. (Comments have been on my facebook page, from San Diego, Orange County, Colorado and Toronto, so far.) It reminds me that church is not just a building--there is a universal church, one that unites all of God's people. My friends are helping me through this spiritual journey, even from afar.

First, I have to say that I do know that our God is a loving God. I know he will not seek revenge, especially not for a measly broken Lenten promise.

One dear friend pointed out that my "Lenten promise is one way to show God [I] love him. But if [I] choose to bag it - [I] will find another way. And God loves [me] the same, no matter what [I] do--Grace by Faith and all that good stuff..."

I definitely have faith in God. And I have faith in God being a loving God--"For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son." (John 3:16)

That gift brought us past that Old Testament God from whom people feared revenge to a God of love and grace--the free gift of love from God.

We don't have to work for it.

That said, being reminded that my Lenten promise is a way for me to show God that I love him renews my desire to fulfill that promise.

How hard really, will it be to abstain from drinking for about 20 more days? So I don't drink during girls night or a celebration dinner or happy hour or moving. Big deal--I'll have God's love to strengthen me in my resolve, right?

Because after all, when someone does something that shows you how much they love you, aren't you inspired to return the display of affection?

Easter is coming. Resurrection Sunday. The day Christ rises from the grave, proving once and for all that He is our God, and that He loves us.

This isn't Christmas for little kids--in and around a month before it happens, hoping that good behavior will earn them the gifts they so richly desire.

This is Easter. This is God's love. This is a free gift of love. This is for everyone.

So, my really big church, thanks for being God's little messengers, reminding me that Jesus loves me and that there is no way I could possibly earn that amazing love.

In other news, kind of related, Ella and I went to church today. Justin and I found a wonderful Lutheran Church just about 15 minutes from where we are going to live, called Our Saviour's Lutheran Church. He's working today, and I woke up early and inspired, so I got the little girl ready and we were off in time (almost) for a 10:30 service.

It was awesome.

I love the Lutheran liturgy, which includes corporate confession and forgiveness, hymns, readings, prayers, sermon, offering, and Communion.

I haven't been bothering going to church alone with Ella because I hadn't thought I could get much out of it with her squirming in my lap the whole time (it's right during her nap time). But she was a little doll, and I was able to enjoy the hymns (and even sing along) and Communion. She didn't even bat at the tiny wine glass (those little plastic glasses... not my favorite way to commune (I prefer the community of intinction in the shared chalice), but acceptable).

University Lutheran Church friends, you'll appreciate this--they are doing Holden Evening Prayer for Wednesday evening Lent services! There are only two Wednesday's in Lent left, and both conflict with Justin's work schedule, and I'm not sure I'm ambitious enough to drive in traffic to take her somewhere at her bedtime, but... who knows. Wednesday night might find us in Long Beach at church.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

April Fool

If I believed that God paid attention to these types of details, or if I truly believed in karma, I might think that the culmination of yesterday afternoon and evening was a result of our Lenten lapse.

But I'm pretty sure it was just something that happened.

Justin called just after 4 p.m. on a high from getting off work in the Pediatric ER early, since it was blessedly slow. I'm always so happy for the world when he has a slow day at work, because it means people didn't need emergency medical attention, not just that he gets to come home early, or maybe check his e-mail at work.

Unfortunately, I had forgotten our conversation about the possibility that he would come home early, so I was in Seal Beach instead of Redondo.

We decided he would come south to meet us, and then we would have a dinner date while my mom watched Ella.

Then he got a flat tire when he reached Long Beach.

Being a manly man, he changed the tire himself instead of calling AAA. (I am a girly-girl and would have called for help.)

The spare was also flat.

AAA to the rescue.

But, their "emergency" service would take 45 minutes to arrive, and Discount Tire closes at 6 p.m.

So, we had to come up with a plan by which we could get the tire repaired and he could still work for the next three days in a row.

Thus, he drove to my parents house, we switched cars, and I spent the night here in Huntington Beach so that I could take the car to the shop today.

All in all, a nuisance but not severely bad enough to be revenge for drinking during Lent despite our vow to abstain from alcohol.

So, at dinner, he had a beer and I had a martini.

We are going to burn in hell. Right?

Apparently, chucking our Lenten promise, isn't in the spirit of Lent, but neither was giving in on Thursday night.

So, I'm back at the conundrum of what to do.

I'm thinking we could give something else up, or just drink in a lot more moderation than we were pre-Lent, or go back to not drinking, or...

I'm not sure God really cares.

My understanding of Lenten sacrifices is to do something difficult so that when you face the challenge you must turn to God for strength.

Am I right?

And then, God helps you through the trial. It's representative of Jesus's 40 days in the desert, right?

So, if I continue to think about God, but sometimes decide that a drink would be OK, is that insufficiently pious?


It's a work in progress, my spiritual life.