31 December 2010

some firsts

This year, I'm doing something different.  On previous New Year's, I've mourned the lasts while looking forward to the firsts to come.

Today, I'm rejoicing over this past year's firsts:

  • I turned 22 for the first time.
  • We had the first ever double birthday party for the kids.  It was also the first themed birthday party we've ever done.  (The closest we got before that was the LOST map I spent hours creating on the top of my birthday cake this year.)
  • For our 4th anniversary, we did a vow renewal with our closest friends, family, and favorite pastor.
  • We had our first real honeymoon, also in celebration of our anniversary.
  • It was the first year since getting married that we did not move to a different apartment.
  • We began our first deployment.
  • I had my first plane ride.
  • I got to see elephants, gorillas, flamingos, white tigers, sting rays, sharks, jelly fish, and more for the very first time in real life.
  • I got my first "real" camera.
  • It was the first Christmas Yonah was old enough to really get into.

Some firsts that I'm looking forward to in the upcoming year are:

  • The first baby born in a wonderful birthing center.
  • Arabelle's first experience as an older sister.
  • The first year my son will "officially" begin homeschooling, even if it's just preschool.  (Is he really that old already?)
  • The first homecoming after a deployment.

28 December 2010

small blessings

Today has been one of those days where my patience is being severely tested in many different areas.  I wish I could say I was coming close to passing for at least one of the tests, but that would, unfortunately, be a massive exaggeration.

But instead of focusing on how I failed, getting more and more miserable in my efforts as the day progressed, I want to share with you the conversation that occurred, which magically erased any grumpiness I could have felt as a result of the kind of day I'd had.  It took place on our way (an hour late) to discipleship group:

M:  I'm sorry, guys.  I had a really bad day and I was very frustrated, but that's no excuse for how I was acting.  Nobody should act that way, ever, no matter how upset they are.  I shouldn't have yelled as much, or said any of those mean words.
Y:  That's okay.  It was an accident, and accidents happen!  I know next time you'll use happy words.
M: Aww, thank you.  Thank you very much.  I will for sure try to use happy words next time.
(brief pause)
Y:  I'm frustrated, too.
M:  Oh?  Why are you frustrated?
Y:  Because I'm frustrated with Frank.  (His aunt.)
M:  Why are you frustrated with her?
Y:  Well, because she's a girl.
M:  What?  Why is it bad to be a girl?
Y:  Because it's mean.
M:  Why?
Y:  Because it's mean to me!  She should be a boy.

His gentle and loving response to my amends soothed away the guilt I was feeling; the following conversation brought a smile to both my lips and my heart.  Thank God I have this wonderful boy in my life.

27 December 2010

a dream realized

My little Fujifilm point-and-shoot camera went missing some time ago.  With its loss I quickly realized an opportunity.  It has always been a desire of mine to have a more professional camera so I could really capture the beautiful pictures that I craved.  I'd always dutifully swept this under the rug - especially after getting the little Fujifilm, which often took pictures that just blew me away.

I was inspired by a post I read on another blog.  I seriously considered if getting more than a point-and-shoot as a camera would give me the boost I needed to get me where I needed to go.  I started researching different cameras, checking out the pictures each took, reading through numerous reviews and comparisons, and really considering the purchase.

I ended up getting the Nikon D3100, an entry-level DSLR that came with an 18-55mm lens.  I have loved it from the moment I held it in my hands for the first time.  I'm saving now for another lens, either the 18-150mm or the 18-200mm.  Basically, I want to change lenses as little as possible, while being able to capture just about everything.

And that boost?  The most important is how much I really see the world when I am looking through that little square viewfinder.  It's so much easier to feel passionate about life when I am reminded of just how breathtaking it all is.  Other side effects are more motivation for housework (don't want to be embarrassed by my pictures, now do I?); a strong desire to get outside these four walls every day; better adherence to the daily routine; I take more pictures now - I could before, but now I get to; and splurging a bit on an old dream really has made me feel better about myself.

(Plus there is an added bonus: my son's favorite thing right now is for me to take pictures of him and his sister, which makes a nice incentive for good behavior and cleaning up his toys each day.)

All in all, it is one of the best purchases I have made, and I am absolutely happy that I finally had the guts to do it.

fear of nothing

I admit it: I am a coward.

I stopped blogging because I was too scared to face any sadness that might be uncovered as the holidays crept up.  For the same reason I also avoided any time with Jesus.  He always has this uncomfortable way of bringing up things that I really don't want to think about.

The really ironic thing is that there wasn't much sadness or loneliness to be worked through.  Sure, my holiday spirit was only at half voltage, but now that the holidays are done and it's safe to let myself feel again, I know that I wasn't horribly affected.  Once I managed to cope with the idea that my husband would be gone for the holidays, there were only a handful of short moments where I could say I was truly miserable.  But I was so unbelievably scared that there might be, well, something that I went to tremendous lengths to hide from myself.

If anyone asked how I was doing, I would automatically talk about pregnancy difficulties - not being able to keep up with the kids' energy levels, having continued trouble with "morning" sickness, difficulty getting comfortable enough to sleep at night.  If they specifically mentioned the absence, I'd give the standard answer I'd come up with: "Oh, you know, hanging in there; it's weird not having him around, but we're doing okay."  It was true, but sounded hollow.  I didn't want to dig to make sure it was true.

Worse, I missed out on a lot of good things this past holiday season.  In my experience, the attempt to keep from feeling negative feelings blocks out the positive ones as well.  This held true for me once again.

I used a handful of excuses as to why I had to hide.  The most prominent one was: "I don't want to rain on anyone's parade, and especially not ruin the holiday experiences for my children."  It sounds nice.  It would be almost admirable - if it were true.  But it wasn't.  That was only the cover.  The real reason was simply that I was scared.

One of these days I'll remember that it isn't scary to feel sad, and that I miss a lot when I'm obsessed with not feeling it.