Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Move Like Jagger

A poopy wipe in one hand and two chubby, squirmy ankles in the other, I was movin’ like Jagger—changing Q’s diaper, singing and dancing to Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger” because it was making him laugh.

It would have made others laugh, too, because you should know I can neither sing nor dance. I’m doing good if I start the ABCs low enough so that I can actually hit Q—the letter Q—without cracking. Our house has always been filled with music. But since Q made his debut, the music is accompanied by much singing and much dancing because Q likes it…he giggles, he coos, he quiets.

Right after we brought him home, that Avicci song—“Wake Me Up”—was new and on every two seconds. So, I danced around our kitchen with a newborn who quieted to the up and down motion…to Avicci. My showers are now concerts. I belt out “Amazing Grace,” “Row, Row, Row Your Boat,” “She’ll Be Comin’ Round the Mountain”…anything…because it quiets Q in his little chair should he start getting fussy before I have a chance to shave. We sing the “Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round” so many times each day that I finally started writing music, too, creating verses about Q toot, toot, tooting. 

Around Christmas, B, Q and I would dance and sing to Christmas songs…Neil Diamond’s “Drummer Boy” (yikes), “Baby, It’s Cold Outside,”  “Jingle Bell Rock.” The list goes on. And Q would laugh and laugh as our little trio moved awkwardly around the kitchen swaying, dancing, hopping around together.

In the mornings, I hear B sing the German Good Morning song, as he calls it. …Guten morgen Guten morgen. I’m still not sure if B made it up or not, but it’s become a standard melody as we take our first sips of coffee and keep Q calm until he’s fed.

The other night, I was in the shower performing my usual concert and thinking, wow…it was really working this time…Q was so quiet…I peeked out from behind the curtain to discover that B had moved Q without telling me. I was singing to no one. Which is when I got to thinking about how much I was singing and dancing lately.

Everyday, Q and I read a book called Giraffes Can’t Dance. Long story short, Gerald the giraffe doesn’t think he can dance.  His “neck was long and slim, but his knees were awfully crooked and his legs were rather thin.” Through a series of events, though, he discovers that he can! At the end, in front of all of his African animal mates, “I am dancing, I am dancing, I am DANCING!” Gerald cries.

I turned the shower off and finished a verse of “Down by the Bay” to no one. “I am dancing, I am dancing, I am DANCING!” Heather cried. I smiled and realized that motherhood is a bit like dancing. You’re not sure you can and then next thing you know, you’re movin’ like Jagger. 

P.S. If you don’t know “Moves Like Jagger,” have a little listen. I post this in honor of my husband who was recently told he looked like Adam Levine. He later asked me… “Who is Adam Levine?” Maroon 5, baby. I’d also like to point out that Adam Levine, who my husband looks like!, was People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in 2013. Ha!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Exchange

There’s something funny that happens at the beginning of every get together with my girlfriends. It’s the exchange. The other night we met at a Mexican restaurant, and as we unzipped our coats, took our gloves and hats off, hooked our purses on chairs and listened to the waitress quickly tell us the specials—margaritas half price…the exchange occurred. I slid a breastfeeding book I borrowed from one friend across the table. That friend passed a stack of bass fishing magazines to another—from one husband to the other. A different friend handed me a bag—three books she had borrowed so long ago, I had forgotten she had them. She also had an unfinished knitting project—baby booties—did someone want to take and finish? And the fifth friend passed out Valentine’s bags filled with candy and stuffed fabric hearts to each one of us.

In the past this exchange has included clothes—our own and baby, pictures, food, coupons. Bits and pieces, odds and ends, of our lives and personalities that when shared with one another has made life a little easier, a little better, a little brighter. More often than not this exchange of goods happens silently—no explanation necessary. I know why. She’s knows how. The what is known. And this whole thing occurs as our main conversation begins, food is ordered, and drinks arrive.

As the night came to a close, and we huddled in the entryway saying goodbye where the heater was blowing warm air, I thought maybe friendships are the exchange of life. Dear ones who quietly—amidst babies, devastating test results, cross-country moves, achievements and failures, the monotony of a long cold Minnesota winter—lend different aspects of themselves and their experiences at opportune times. And at their best—no explanation necessary.

Sunday, February 09, 2014


Our neighbors were not so neighborly in California. One called and reported us for parking in front of her house. For the record, it was public street parking! Open to all. The cop shrugged his shoulders and told us not to be offended…she’s called on others, so maybe just steer clear of that 12-foot space. Often we heard our next-door neighbor yelling at his girlfriend on the phone. And then there was the pervert across the street. The list goes on. Suffice it to say, we got used to watching our backs on our street and in L.A. in general.

When we moved back to Minnesota and settled into a cute rental house on a quiet cul-de-sac, we hoped our neighbors would be different. And they have not disappointed. They’ve been great. Which is why B was mortified when I decided to mow the lawn 8 months pregnant. What are they going to think of me?! Makin’ my prego wife cut the grass?! It’s also why he would have been mortified last week when I got Q down for his nap and decided to help out—shovel the driveway. Still in my red plaid pajama pants, I threw my boots on not caring whether the pjs went in or outside the boots. Live in Minnesota? You know the look. Pulled my hat down over my ears and zipped up my big warm coat. One cannot be vain in Minnesota when it’s 10 below and you have to shovel.

I stepped outside and one look at the driveway revealed that much more snow had fallen than I thought. At certain points, it was up to my knees. Nevertheless, I got to work, breathing in the crisp, sharp air to the rhythm of the shovel against pavement. A few minutes in, I was huffing and sweating and looking at our next-door neighbor—what with his fancy snow blower just easily and quickly clearing his driveway. Wow, he must feel like a tool I thought, self-righteously! Watching me do the hard work by hand! Really though, I was envious of the resources he had and I was also beginning to think that maybe our neighbors in California weren’t as bad as I remembered—at least they didn’t snow blow in front of me? I continued and a few neighbors drove by, waved. Well, I got half the driveway cleared. My back hurt, and I was nervous leaving Q in the house alone for too long. So I called it and hoped B would be impressed with that amount.

Late afternoon, I peeked out the front window to discover that—lo and behold—someone came and snow blowed the other half of our driveway. I was stunned. Kindness! We haven’t been used to this. I think it was more pity than anything. Someone saw this woman in raggedy pajama pants wielding a shovel bigger than her trying to clear snow.

When I called B to proudly tell him that I shoveled half the driveway and then Voila! ...that made someone feel bad and another Voila! ...now the whole driveway is clear for him, the first thing he said was “What?! Why were you out there?! What are the neighbors going to think of me?!”

We don’t know who did it though. And it’s not like we’re hanging outside right now, able to chit chat with the neighbors and ask around. I want to know so I can somehow repay them! Make them cookies. Send B over to shovel their driveway? Something?! But that’s the beauty of true kindness. It’s done quietly with no intention, sometimes no possibility, of repayment. And funny, I want to repay the person who did this, which would be nice, but in a twisted way it would somehow glorify me and make me look like a fancy-nice, thoughtful neighbor. True kindness humbles and inspires the receiver, leaving them no option but to do the same for another.   

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Happy Book Day

It’d been so long. I hadn’t read a book—turned the pages, used a bookmark, let it rest on my night stand—since before Quade…pre-Q, as we say. I used to roam the aisles of Barnes & Noble slowly, sipping coffee. And after all rows had been combed I’d pick a book—the book! Now you should see me when I run into a store. I’m a maniac. The goal is to get in and out as fast as possible. The only reason I’m there in the first place is because I wasn’t able to get what I needed online from my phone while nursing. All this to say, I haven’t had time to go to Barnes & Noble and pick out a book! And I’ve thought about the library, but the cold weather, Q’s potential to scream like a pterodactyl, and the fact that I probably couldn’t get through a book before it was due ended that thought.

And then the Kindle. Someone generously offered to give me their Kindle. Not sell it to me. But give it to me. They dropped it off for me to see if I’d like. I tried. Oh how I tried. I brought it to bed with me. I let my fingers practice what it’d be like to turn the page. On off. On off. On off. “Here, B, you try it,” I said as I shoved it at my husband. “What do you think?” I asked excitedly, wanting him to encourage me that it would be fantastic! But, alas, he knows me too well and we’re too much alike. “I think you won’t use it,” he said. Big sigh. I knew he was right. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t see myself using it. I sadly gave it back.

Then, a couple Wednesdays ago. There it was. A book. Mom had stopped by to drop a few things off, and in the pile she left on the kitchen table was Shauna Niequist’s book Bread and Wine. It was so pretty. Hardcover. I couldn’t wait to open it.  So, the next morning as the sun was rising and I was nursing, rather than mindlessly sliding my finger across my phone, checking the weather, Facebook, my email, etc., I read. The words were like pillows. Soft, comfortable, warm. I couldn’t get enough. Wow—reading’s like riding a bike, I thought, you don’t really lose it! I read, read, and read, and felt a little bit of my pre-Q self return. When Q finished eating I read aloud to him as he stared at me milky-eyed. And when I nursed him after his morning nap, I read some more. By the time I crawled into bed with B that night, he looked at me with eyebrows raised? Really, Heather? Half the book already? Yup.

It’s actually the perfect book to begin reading again on. It’s light. It’s fun. It’s inspiring. It’s a blend of short stories and fun recipes. And if you get to feed a five month old four times a day, you can read half of it in a day! I actually made a recipe from it last night, too, and it was great and so easy.

Perhaps the best part of my book though is that on the inside cover, mom left a note:

Happy Hump Day
Happy Darn Cold Day
Happy Flat Tire Day
Happy Dermatology Appointment Day
Happy “thank you for taking us to the airport in two days” Day.
Relax and Enjoy.

As you can tell, my mom is a rockstar. On that particular day, I was in need of some brightness, and like all rockstar moms do, somehow she just knew—she maybe even knew without really knowing that she knew I needed something bright.

And here’s what I concluded. You can’t write an amazing note on a library book or a Kindle! You need a real book that you get to keep. And any day during which you can relax and enjoy the words of a book—if only for a few minutes while nursing—is a happy day. Which is why I promptly lined up another book (ordered online from my phone to be conveniently delivered to my doorstep).

Happy Book Day!

Now is the time

* written June 10, 2013

I am reading a book review—about one woman’s yearlong adventure in Iceland—in the Sunday paper’s Variety section as if I’m going to have time to not only check the book out next time I’m casually strolling through Barnes & Noble, but to actually purchase the book and read it! I know instinctively this is not going to happen. I still have a couple books to read about how to survive labor which is now a mere eight weeks away, and then a book about breastfeeding, a book about keeping God and your faith front and center in the midst of a new baby, a book about healthy sleeping habits for babies, a book about how to make your own baby food, a book about the best books about surviving the first year of motherhood—and the list goes on. And from what I understand, all this reading better be done before my cervix dilates to 10 because after that, it’s all over.

Supposedly I won’t have time (or energy) to even go to the bathroom let alone do any sort of pleasure reading. There will be no more going out to eat (scrounging for crumbs at home will be hard enough), no more sleeping in, no more caring what you look like or when you look like it, no more quiet, no more peace, no more sex. But congratulations on the forthcoming arrival of your baby boy!

The warnings of many have been somewhat daunting for me and my husband! To be fair, they’re usually quickly followed up with assurances about how wonderful parenting is, that kids are pretty much the best thing ever, and that we will be fantastic parents. Thanks, but…

In one way or another all of the warnings seem to do with time—lack thereof or how it’s spent or where it goes. And I get it—I will likely not get to read about one woman’s yearlong adventure in Iceland…just for the heck of it.

But I can’t help but think that there’s actually plenty of time. Amazingly God creates a baby between husband and wife. And amazingly, He has created my body to build this baby without me really having to do a thing for 9 months! He will soon prepare my body to push this baby out. And if all of this is any indication, He has built in the appropriate and necessary time to enjoy and be present as compassionate parents during this special time. It’s me who will—I know I will—clutter my time with earthly things and wonder where it’s gone once this baby arrives.

So, as I worry about how quickly time is running out—only eight more weeks!—I am praying that my husband and I prepare to honor God’s timing. Clearly, now is the time He has called us to be parents. Now is our time to have and nurture a baby.