Last Christmas I got really into decorating our house.  Lights and those shiny balls (so cheap, but pretty hanging from the ceiling or mounted in bowls), holly and burlap are among my Christmas decorating staples.  I really did let myself get stressed by the season.  With decorating, baking goodies, buying gifts, planning a trip (Gregg’s present last year was a quick trip to New York City), I missed the reason for the season.  (The perfect overused phrase for what happened–and it rhymes.)  I didn’t realize it until Christmas was over, so this year I’m taking a slightly different approach.

This season, I decorated, but I did it pretty quickly so as not to get consumed by it.  We aren’t getting gifts for as many family members this year as we did last year (this cuts down on stress).  The gifts I have purchased are ones that I’m excited about giving, and I haven’t spent too much money on everyone.  But, I’m also preparing.

I’m preparing for Christmas itself even though I’m really not sure how to do this.  Reading baby Jesus scripture, gazing at an Advent wreath…I’m not sure, those don’t feel quite right to me.  But, I’ve found a way to tie in preparing for a baby with preparing for Christmas.  This just occurred to me this morning.  The common denominator between the two (Christmas and pregnancy) is grace.  Grace.

Even though I’m not sure how to prepare for Christmas, I’ve been doing a lot of preparing for a baby coming our way.  When I ask moms for advice, (and I have been asking.  I’m usually not a fan of advice, but I’ve had little shame in asking about maternity clothes, baby gear, labor, reusable diapers, pumping, a side ways swinging swing versus a normal swinging swing, and motherhood in general.  The questions are endless.  I can’t get enough of this advice to be honest.  And, I know I’m not going to get all of the answers until, um, I guess never.)

One piece of advice that I’ve been holding onto is to give yourself grace. (Two examples are E’s posts  and Ashley’s post, another example being my good friend Anne Lamott.)  This is not my best attribute.  But these women are saying over and over, give yourself a break, cut yourself some slack, trust its all going to be okay.  Grace.  Grace.  Grace.  They are talking about those immediate post-baby months and forever after that, too.   So, I figure, I should go ahead and practice now.  Christmastime seems like a good time to start.

Now, how do I do that?  Again, not really sure.  Its a total change in thinking.  A different way of thinking about myself and looking at myself.  Lowering the standard for myself of what I should  do.  Should=my Arch enemy.  As I’m preparing for labor and preparing to be a parent, learning things like how to keep a baby from crying not-stop, etc., I’m also preparing to practice grace.  Anne Lamott talks about looking at yourself from the outside with absolute tenderness.  She describes how helpful this is.  This is how God looks at me/us, right?  So why shouldn’t I/we do the same for myself/ourselves?

Advertisements

I keep accidentally spelling the name of this store wrong, so I’m just going to let it fly.  (Disclaimer: I know that the plural form of baby is babies and not babys.)

Gregg and I went to register over the weekend at Babies R Us, and we didn’t get in a fight.  Victory.  I tried to pick a fight, but Gregg stopped me in my tracks by making a joke.  Very clever, that one.  Registering for wedding gifts was a different story.  I like shopping with Gregg, because he says things like, “Let’s register for more practical things.”  And then, when we get to the bottles, he says, “Ok, which ones are the best?”  He even said, “Aren’t there some new pacifiers that all are the rage?”  Where and how does he even get all this information?  He knows we need stuff, and he wants to get the good stuff, but he doesn’t want a lot of it.

I know this baby is going to need some stuff when he comes.  Clothes, diapers, a place to sleep.  But, does he really need a plastic “weather” shield cover to put over his $500 backroading stroller?

Weather Shield

Weather Shield

Does he need a baby spa/bathtub/shower especially for him?

Luxury Whirlpool

Luxury Baby Whirlpool

These are actual items on sale at Babies R Us.  I know that there will be some things that we “must-have,” I’m just not exactly sure what they are yet.  I have some great mom-friends tat have been super helpful in telling me what the “must-haves” are.  Some of them seem to be true for everyone and others seem to vary from mom to mom and baby to baby.  I hope I’m not offending anyone, but its just fun to be a bit cynical sometimes.

My mother-in-law, already told us she was getting us this.  Definitely not a necessity, but pretty stinking cute.

Lion mane car seat cover

Lion mane car seat cover

See, I’m not completely cold-hearted when it comes to baby stuff.  Just trying to find the balance.

I wonder when I’ll have to change the title of my blog: “This Circle of Quiet.”  I assumed that country living/rural life was quiet, and it is compared to living in the city.  But, we have 5 pets and a baby on the way.  Its already not very quiet at our house, and I suppose its only going to get louder.  The animals have been more of a handful lately.  Pooping inside, for example.  And, integrating our huge white, polar bear dog with our two medium-sized herding dogs has been an event.  There’s been lots of growling and snarling.  Max got body-slammed by Aspen at one point for getting in her face (I don’t know how else to explain these fights besides making them sound like 13 year old girls in the lunch room.  I went to a ghetto middle school, ok?).

But, I’ve been loving them.  Even when I’m cleaning up their poop (I never realized how amazing Resolve was!), I’m thankful for them.  I’ve been comparing them to kids a lot.  Like, “Okay, its time for everyone to go outside, so I can get some stuff done around the house,” and “I need to give ____ some attention because I haven’t in awhile.”

Aspen is starved for love and attention.  She’s still a working dog.  She’s protecting our sheep and our chickens.  But she won’t stay in the fenced-in area where the sheep are.  She also won’t leave our property (unless she sees us leave), so I think she’s still doing her job pretty well.  She reminds me so much of Max.  We got Max from a shelter and Aspen from a rescue group.  They both have separation anxiety (or some other psychological diagnosis that our human feelings have projected on them), so they need a lot of love.  Even our cats, that were found on the side of the road, are extra affectionate.  I don’t think I would love them all so much if they weren’t so loveable.  Roo, who was the pick of the litter, knows that she’s loved.  She thinks that she’s hot stuff, and she can be sweet and affectionate at times, but she’s also a snob.

As I’m writing, Aspen literally just threw up on the couch that we are cuddling on together.  Its like she knew what I was writing thinking about.  Okay, apologies to all the weak-stomached out there.  I’ll try to limit my bodily fluids talk in the future.

Its a BOY, not a GIRL!  Its BLUE and not PINK!  So, scratch the this post from the record, as well as my mother’s intuition that prompted me to buy a leopard print coat for a 6 month old.  Apparently the umbilical cord was covering the Oh-so-important boy part on our ultrasound.

So…bring on the toy trucks and barnyard animals and big appetites and sore arms that come from carrying the heavy load of a baby boy.

Last week, when E linked up to my post on emyselfandi, I got over 300 hits.  This is about 4 times what my traffic typically is.  So, for my first confession, that is the main reason why I’m linking up today.  That was such an ego boost for my little blog here!

I’m knitting a scarf for me.  I feel a little bit guilty about it, because I’m pregnant and so many of my friends are pregnant.  I should be knitting baby stuff, right?  I knit during my downtime at work.  My co-workers will ask me what I’m making, and I say “A scarf for me, BUT as soon as I finish it, I’m going to start knitting for Baby.”  This is true, but I’m always very quick to mention what I’m going to knit next to avoid any judgmental eyes (that would probably never come).

I miss Knoxville.  So does Gregg.  I idealized moving away, now I idealize moving back.  We like it here on the Eastern Shore (more and more-its rhyme time, apparently).  We love our house and our farm, and I love my job (once I drive the hour to get there).  But, we miss home and the people there.

Aspen

We got a new dog.  Her name is Aspen.  She is enormous.  More than 100 pounds of Great Pyranees?  Probably so.  This is a confession, because she makes 5 pets for us.  But!  She’s a working girl.  Gregg got her to keep predators away from…

Sheep

these three (hopefully) pregnant girls…

Chickens

as well as these mama hens.  I think she’s doing a good job because she spends all night barking.

Last confession, I don’t really like turkey that much.  Happy Thanksgiving!

These days, it seems like to be a mom, you have to be an interior designer, gourmet cook, writer, and overall creative genius.  While I love Pinterest and blogs as much as the next girl. Sometimes as I’m perusing the Web, I just  think: Woa, that looks pretty, but I could never do that, and I don’t really want to try.  Trying to would mean a way-too-early dose of Mommy Guilt that I’m just not ready for.

That said, I’ve been looking at doable projects for Baby that I could actually complete.  There are projects and there are PpppprrrrrOOOOoojjjjeeeeeCCCCCTTTTsssssssss.  I’m more into the former.  I like to start a project, work on a project, and finish a project in a timely manner.  If it takes too long (unless its knitting), I get frustrated or annoyed and lose interest.  (I feel similarly about dinner, too.  Sorry, Gregg.)  Here are some doable baby DIY projects (not PpppprrrrrOOOOoojjjjeeeeeCCCCCTTTTssssssss)  that I like and may attempt.

Doable Project: Monogrammed Canvas with Buttons

Doable Project: Mobile

Doable Project: Another mobile with other cutie vintage pictures that I couldn’t crop out. 🙂

Doable Project: Lace in Embroidery hoops

This is from the Nester.  The subtitle of her blog is: It doesn’t have to be Perfect to be Beautiful. This is the life statement that I didn’t know I had.  Doesn’t look like baby, but still very feminine, which I like.

Not a project, just inspiration.  I love the turquoise Chevron pattern.

And then there’s knitting.  There’s about a bogozillion things that I would like to knit for this baby.  Here’s just one.

Poncho

My baby HAS to make this face if I make her this poncho.

Its hard to tell if I thought of any of these ideas myself or if they were all stolen from Pinterest.  Maybe I can say “inspired by”, as opposed to “stolen from.”

By the way, we found out that we’re having a girl!!  In case you couldn’t tell by my ultra-feminine design board here.

I’m really getting into learning about labor and birth.  I love reading about what to do to prepare and what the experience could possibly be like.  Lea calls the experience of medication-free contractions Laborland.  Sounds like Candyland, but I don’t think there’s much of a similarity.

But, I’ve been having some issues with the natural childbirth books that I’ve been reading.

First, what I love.  I love hearing what a female body is capable of doing.  I love hearing about the power of the mind when in labor: not feeling safe (i.e. someone that you don’t like/don’t trust coming into the labor room) can actually make a woman regress in her labor.  Woa.  I’m interested in learning what I need to do to prepare, both mentally and physically, and I love when these books help me do that.  And I love that, with their books, they share an alternative approach to the traditional, mainstream hospital setting.

What I don’t like is the total anti-establishment, anti-modern medicine attitude that some of these authors take.  I get it, its important for women to be informed about their choices and understand the interventions that may be offered to them in the hospital.  I just don’t like the bashing.  I don’t like painting every medication used for induction like it is going destroy your baby and your body.  There are risks with these medications, certainly, but the way they are presented could instill a lot of unnecessary fear.  I feel like the tone should be more to inform and not bash, but I don’t think an unbiased view on this subject exists and maybe it shouldn’t.

I think I’m sensitive about this issue because I’ve worked in the environment that they are bashing, and it is very protocol-driven.  I don’t like the Ob/Gyn’s and hospital staff being portrayed as uncaring clock-watchers (they are out there, but its not the majority).  Just don’t bash my friends!  I know the doctors and the nurses that work in the establishment and the majority of them care so much about their patients and want to take very good care of them throughout their pregnancy, labor, and birth.

Bloggers, sometimes do you think you are repeating yourself in your posts?  Sometimes, I think, have I said this before…?  Hope I’m not being too repetitive.

A BFF came to see me this weekend.  What a treat!  Gregg made us pizza on Friday night.  Sam (her 16 month old) got to run around with the dogs, cats, and sheep.  Did I mention our (hopefully) pregnant sheep are finally living with us?  We also roamed around a town yard sale on Saturday.  That’s right, a whole town came out to sell their stuff in a yard sale.  We racked up.  I got a necklace, a pile of lace for crafting, some Christmas ornaments, and a leopard print coat for a six month old girl(I have a hunch okay). [Comment on animal print:  I never have worn animal print except for a snakeskin tube top I owned in high school.  Was that even me?  Not sure.  Animal print is just not my thing, but on a little girl?  Come on, that’s going to be adorable.  Gregg was not a fan.]  I didn’t pay more than $2 for anything (better than Goodwill!).  E, Jeff, and Sam got an array of classic boardgames.

E, Sam, P, and Chief

The best thing about this weekend was being known.  Even for just 24 hours, I had friend in my house who has known me since I was three years old.  (Wow.)  We knew each other as little kids in preschool, as Freshman year roommates, as newly married friends, and, now, as moms and moms-to-be.  So, so thankful.  These kind of friendships are rare.  My college friendships are rare, because they are lasting.  They have a future and a past.  I heard that the average friendship only lasts 6 years.

Meeting friends on the Eastern Shore, we’re starting right where we are, in the present, that is.  There’s no past.  Only a now and a future.  In a place where people already have long-standing friendships with handfuls of people, nobody really feels like they need a new friend.  They’re all lived here their whole lives, or so it seems.

This brings me to my  resolution.  I want to be welcoming to new people in the future.  This resolution is stemming from our experience here so far.  It seems like our friendships are two steps forward and one step back.

After getting settled in my community (in college, in San Francisco, in Knoxville), I have been pretty hesitant to reach out to new people.  Small talk is hard and exhausting.  But making people feel welcome is really important.

I prayed for a friend this weekend, after E left, and God began to answer me.  At Sunday school, the girls were really excited that I was pregnant.  Its fun to connect with people over an unborn baby.  Its like insta-connection.

I started listening to Bringing up Bebe this morning.  I’m already thankful that this is the first pregnancy/parenting/baby book I’m reading during my pregnancy.  The book’s author is an American woman who conceives, carries, and raises 3 children in Paris.  While in France, she observes how different the entire French culture approaches motherhood and parenthood than we do in America.  Their attitude is much more worry-free while still raising confident and creative children.  The French pregnancy magazines have articles entitled “9 Month Spa” rather than “Is it safe?”  During pregnancy they encourage indulgence (while somehow gaining the recommended French 26 pounds versus the American recommended 35 pounds) rather than fear.  The French parents aren’t required to adhere to one parenting theory or another, instead, they have a cultural theory that’s so embedded into everyone’s psyche that its actually difficult for the French to articulate what it is.

Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman

What I’m thankful for…

Pumpkin spice lattes AND Gingerbread lattes from Starbucks.  (I usually get decaf, ok?)

Birthday money, including a gift certificate to Gap.

Two dogs, two cats, and a sweet husband.

A BFF coming to see me this weekend with her husband and baby.

A job that’s my most favorite that I’ve ever had.

A baby and a belly that’s just starting to poke out.

Holidays coming up where we get to see family, both coming to us and going to them.

A free dinner tonight, thank you drug rep.

Pay day.

Plants purchased at a discounted price (anything purchased at a discounted price!).

Connecting with my friends that live on the other side of the country (Meg and Julie).

Talking to other pregnant girls about being pregnant (especially about maternity clothes).

The beginning of my 29th year.

Scarves, sweaters, knitting, fall colors.

Its sometimes hard to get started, but once you get going, more things to be thankful for just keep coming up.  This was effective therapy, since I felt like I had been too negative lately. (Example: a post entitled “woes.”)