Thursday, February 27, 2014

Boog boog boog.

Lately, Cal is going through so many changes I can hardly keep track of him. It seems like every day he is saying a new word or performing a new skill. I have found with being a parent that there are things to enjoy in every new phase, but I have to say that this most recent one might be my favorite. I feel like I am constantly cracking up at Cal's antics or in awe of what he has learned. Here are some of his new "tricks":

:: He has a quickly growing vocabulary, and the words that he speaks really make me laugh because they are kind of random. He says the normal words: Mama, Daddy (always DadDY, not DaDA), Nana, and uh-oh. The rest of his vocabulary is nature based: tree, sun, moon, owl, doggie, kitty. He also has a few garbled words that might be real words or might just be me putting words in his mouth. Sometimes he makes a sound like "No no no no," sometimes "all done," and sometimes "nana" (although in reference to oranges, not bananas). Then of course he has his own personal language, in which he is fluent and constantly talking. Lately I've wondered if he is trying to say real words and his little tongue-tied mouth just can't get around them yet, because he'll say something to me and then look at me like I'm stupid for not complying with his request.

:: He has walked a couple of times (today was the first time in almost a month!) but generally refuses to. At 15 months and almost 30 lbs., I am all for the walking to begin. I'm starting to get a really sore back from carrying him around.

:: Cal really likes when we make growling or yelling noises (in joking of course -- he knows if we are actually mad and does not like that). Sometimes he will start growling or yelling to encourage us to start, and once we do he giggles at us.

:: Lately, he likes to feed me. He will hold something up in his fingers and even if I am across the room will say, "Aaah," and open his mouth. Usually he does it to get rid of food he doesn't want, like blueberries, but occasionally he will offer something he loves, like goldfish or graham crackers, just to be sweet.

:: He LOVES his stuffed animals. He has a whole menagerie of "best friends" and loves them all, although his two "kitties" are, I think, his very favorites. He sleeps with two kitties, a doggie, and his Jenna-bear, which lately he has been calling "Daddy." (In fact, he calls all bears "Daddy" these days).

:: Cal could read books all day. Usually in the morning he pulls books off the shelves and finds all the suns and moons and points to them and says what they are (and almost never mixes them up). He'd rather be in his room reading books than anywhere else, except for maybe outside.

:: He has become much more affectionate. He was never a snuggler as a baby, but lately he will give hugs and kiss-bites (I have a few bruises). He also loves to kiss/bite his animals, usually chewing on their noses or tails.

:: He LOVES flowers. He always wants to touch them and is (usually) good at being gentle and not ripping them to pieces.

That's what this little creature has been up to lately. Every day he seems to change a little more and I am excited to see what he does next. :)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Thoughts on the Atonement and Christlike Love.

I never, never get tired of this image by Liz Lemon Swindle.
A long time ago, I went crying to a good friend of mine about an ugly breakup I was going through. A fairly significant contributor to that breakup was my struggle with depression and anxiety, and I was feeling pretty hideously awful. My friend listened to me, and then said simply, "I wish I could take it from you." I've never been able to forget those words.

Yesterday, these words came into my mind again, as I learned about a challenge a family on our unit is going through. The nurse caring for the patient said to me, "I would donate my bone marrow for her," and it instantly brought tears to my eyes. Again, here was someone saying, "I wish I could take this away and carry it myself."

Of course there is already one who can take this from us, and my first thought when meditating on these two experiences was that Christ is the only one who can take our sorrows from us. In the most obvious sense, he is the only one who can take our sorrows. And for some reason, this magnificent, perfect being loves us enough to choose to do so, suffering the pain of Gethsemane and the cross so we can be resurrected and perfected, and so that we are never alone in our pain.
And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities (Alma 7:12).
However, as I continued to think about this, and about the love that caused my friend during my breakup and my coworker during this family's struggle to voice such loving intentions, I realized that, while we can never measure up to what Christ has done for us, we can in our own small ways take upon us the pain of others. There is a quote I love that says "Shared joy is double joy; sorrow shared is half sorrow." (According to Google this is a Swedish proverb -- I couldn't remember where I heard it first). In addition, when I was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I made a promise with God that I would
Bear one another's burdens, that they may be light; yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort (excerpted from Mosiah 18:8-9). 
It occurred to me that these experiences are the way God prepares us to become more Christlike. These moments when we desire to take another's pain, we are experiencing a small measure of charity, or Christlike love, and practicing for the day when we can return to Christ's presence and learn to become like Him.

(Also, slightly tangentially, this made me think about how everything about baptism is practice in emulating the Savior. Entering the water is a symbol of his death, and being brought up is a symbol of his resurrection, as we are made new beings through our baptism. And then this piece of the baptismal covenant, in bearing one another's burdens etc. demonstrates how we are promising to follow Christ's example as we take on the responsibilities and blessings of baptism. Maybe a post for another day, where I can explore this further -- I definitely want to study it now).

Anyway, back to the subject at hand of Christlike love -- as I thought of this, I thought of how others had borne my burdens and made them lighter in the past few days (days that have been a little rocky due to a lot of stress and not a lot of sleep). There was the coworker that stayed a few minutes past her long night shift with a stressful patient to listen to me talk about how I am adjusting to being on my own as a nurse. There is my husband, who took a trip out of his way and his busy schedule to buy me cupcakes (cupcakes are the ultimate balm for my soul). While I know I am so far from where I want to be in developing Christlike love, I am grateful for these chances to see it displayed in others and the motivation it gives me to develop it better in myself, as well as grateful to the Savior who teaches, exemplifies, and personifies that charity.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Some Nights

Some nights, you are stressed about work because the last shift was tough and you've been off for a few days, and you have four shifts this week, two in a row, and you're not sure how you're going to get through them.

And on some of those nights, your baby wakes up at 2:30 screaming. And you give him Tylenol and milk and graham crackers and cuddles, and he goes soft and quiet in your arms, and you try to put him back in bed, and it starts all over again. So you go into your own room and hope that he'll quiet down in five minutes, like usual.

When he doesn't, you go back, feeling guilty for not being there not only in the last five minutes but for the next two days. You repeat the cycle again, his eyelids start to flutter closed, you tuck "kitty" into his arms and try again.

And the process repeats.

So you sit out in the front room with your computer and cry with him but separate from him, fighting with the knowledge that he needs to sleep and can't do it with you in the room and the pain of hearing him scream because he is tired and confused and can't settle himself down.

Then his cries turn to shuddering sighs and he falls asleep, while you sit in front of a computer screen, robbed of rest, knowing your alarm will go off in 66 minutes and you have a 12 hour shift coming your way.

And the only good out of the situation is the thought, "Well, I guess I'm really going to have to rely on Heavenly Father to get me through this day."

Here's to a day of lots of praying and a merciful assignment.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

What do you DO all day?!

Isn't that the most loaded question for any woman? But I'm asking it (a little tongue in cheek). I straddle this odd line between working mom and stay-at-home mom. I work full time -- but my shifts are 12 hours long. So 3 days a week I am a nurse who only sees her baby for a few minutes in the morning (if I'm lucky... it's the only time I hope he wakes up early), and the other 4 I stay at home. I also usually work at least one if not both weekend days, so I am usually home on my own. I love it, because Cal is able to spend most of his time with family (and we have a fabulous babysitter on the days when he can't be). However, sometimes it is weird transitioning from work to stay-at-home, especially because my days worked aren't always consecutive, and because I'm trying to cram in all the errands and laundry (fortunately right now we have a lady that cleans for us twice a month, although the husband has gently hinted that our budget might need to lose that extra help).

So my question is this: What do you do all day? And I don't mean that you don't have enough to do. I know that there are a million things that you do, so my real question is: WHICH of them do you do? How do you balance playing with your children, cleaning, running errands, and being a human being? Maybe my predicament is made worse by the fact that Cal is not much of a napper, but I feel so guilty for the twenty minutes I take to put on some make up and do my hair. If I sit on the floor and play with him all day, I feel guilty that I didn't do anything to the house, and frustrated that I spend my precious after-bedtime hours scrambling.

I feel like I should spend every moment playing with my son, especially because 36 hours of the week I am away from him. However, part of me thinks this is crazy, and I do have other things to do. I feel guilty for errands, I feel guilty for ignoring him for ten minutes to load the dishwasher. (Mind, he is not crying during this time usually). Basically, I have a complex and I want to compare notes. How do you balance keeping the house and your sanity with giving your child the love and attention that he needs and wants?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Little Gems

I am an imperfect person who sometimes struggles with finding gratitude for the small, day-to-day joys in life. However, today many of those tiny perfect moments cropped up together.

:: Cal laughed himself to sleep tonight. I was tempted to go in and see what was so funny, but I don't mess with bedtime. Still, it was delightful to hear him giggling until he went all the way into sleep.

:: Cal was also reunited with a friend today. A few days ago, milk saturated his "doggie" and the poor little animal smelled so bad we had to take it away until we could wash it. As we carted him off to the laundry today, Cal cried because he wanted to snuggle him. When I finally brought him back, fresh and fluffy and clean, Cal cried "Doggie! Doggie!" and planted several big kisses on the doggie's nose.

:: Cal decided to feed me today. He started picking up pieces of his snacks and holding them out to me. He would open his mouth and say "Aah" when he wanted me to eat. At one point in the day I couldn't get him to calm down and let me finish cooking dinner so I sat on the floor grating cheese, and he picked up all the little pieces of shredded cheese that fell off the grater and fed them to me.

:: We went for a walk to Point Dume this morning. I haven't taken advantage of the natural beauties of this area much, and it was amazing to walk above the beach. We heard sea lions, went down to tide pools (Cal was terrified and climbed up my torso, trying to get to higher ground), and enjoyed the ocean. I was struck by the idea that we were all the way on the edge of the United States. I mean, obviously, but I had never thought of it that way before and it was an awe-inspiring feeling for me.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Thoughts on Perfectionism

Today during my scripture study I kept coming across things that spoke to my issues with perfectionism. This is what I wrote in my study journal: 

“The joyful news for anyone who desires to be rid of the consequences of past poor choices is that the Lord sees weaknesses differently than He does rebellion. Whereas the Lord warns that unrepented rebellion will bring punishment, when the Lord speaks of weaknesses, it is always with mercy.” – Elder Richard G. Scott

WHAT A BLESSING!! I struggle so much with my perfectionism, and this seems like the perfect answer. Obviously the most important piece of the puzzle is for me to lean on the Savior through the Atonement. But this also helps. When I openly choose to do bad things, it is going to be difficult to repent and it is rebellion. But when I just struggle and am truly trying to overcome my sins (some of the things I am thinking of are being short with my family members and allowing stress to dim my hope in the Savior), the Lord understands and will continue to bless me with strength and forgiveness as I strive to do better.

2 Nephi 4:17-19:
“Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.
            “I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.
            “And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.”

I don’t love this to compare myself to Nephi per se, but I love what it means. It means that in Nephi’s own progression, he too has fallen short of the glory of God. We all have fallen short of that glory, and we all need the Atonement. I would imagine that he falls less short of it than I do, but that doesn’t actually matter. It doesn’t matter how I compare to my fellow man, how I stack up against their righteousness. It isn’t a competition to get into heaven – there isn’t a cutoff as to how many people are allowed inside. The only competition I have is myself and my own weaknesses, and I have the best trainer, the best support, available to me 24/7.
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