Saturday, May 30, 2015

Sorry-Grateful

With the popularity of FaceBook and Instagram increasing in the past few years and the added busyness of a full-time job and a kid (and a puppy and a cat...and a husband), I've stopped blogging about our lives. I am not wasting time catching up on the three years since I've last posted, but I would like to share about this past year or so. I will make it really exciting and brief (there might be a hint of sarcasm there).

Last June, I became pregnant with our second child. We had a busy summer and in July, went to Maryland for a week-long YFC assignment with the whole family. I was a head leader and JJ was the speaker. Owen mostly hung out with my mom and complained about everything. Toward the end of the week (of course, the night I was the ONLY staff member on call) I became violently ill. A student just happened to go into a diabetic coma as I was praying to the Porcelain God to end my life right there on the bathroom linoleum. If it hadn't been for my hyper-vigilant mother who also happens to be a diabetes specialist and pharmacist (for the past 30 or so years), that girl would have been SOL. I was able to rally (I shouldn't have) and I attempted to help. She was taken to the ER with my mom and I went back to the room to convulse for a few more hours. The next day, I went on my merry way, but as the next couple of days stretched on I could tell something was wrong.

I was certain I'd had a miscarriage.

I didn't talk about it, but silently suffered on the trip back to Spokane. I wanted to be helpful and cheerful, but resigned myself to the fact that if the baby had died, there was nothing I could do about it. I walked around until my ten week appointment, thinking about a dead baby inside me and telling no one how I felt.

I went to the appointment and told the ultrasound technician that I was pretty sure I'd had a miscarriage and to not feel bad when she saw the dead embryo. She just needed to tell me and send me to my doctor so I could get rid of it. At this point, after nearly two years or trying to conceive I had become very cynical and could feel my old, melancholy self creeping her way back in. I let her in the door of my mind gladly. It was nice to have my old self back to commiserate with.

Sure enough, the technician saw what I already knew and did exactly what I told her to not do. She hugged me and said she was so sorry. I needed her to go against my wishes. I needed Wendy's embrace. She has been there for nearly every ultrasound since and I appreciate her vulnerability more than she will ever know.

I floated down the hallway to a room and my OB caught me in the hall with a big smile on her face,"Katy! Do we have some news?" I simply said, "Yeah, it doesn't look good. It's OK. I'll see you in a sec." She entered my room a few minutes later and sweetly and calmly led me through what I needed to do next. She hugged me and assured me she would be there for me on this journey. She's the best.

I went home and broke the news to JJ. He was apologetic, but reality washed over him quickly. He has to leave the next day for summer camp and was devastated. I would have to go through the miscarriage alone. It was a Friday and when I woke up that sunny Saturday morning, JJ left for camp and I called my mom. I call her for everything, but this time I NEEDED her. I was planning on doing it all alone, but I was terrified. Terrified of what I would see. Scared that the baby was really alive and I was aborting it. Worried that my son would hear me crying. My mom came to the rescue and none of those horrifying images came to life.

I went to the Pharm to complete my miscarriage. Owen played in the Timothy grass and with their pup, Lucy. I contracted. He cuddled me. I cried. My parents comforted me. I begged. God covered me. I contracted. I contracted. I contracted.

The day was bizarre. As I took the medication to shed the fetal tissue, a giant wind storm blew through their property. Trees fell, the sky turned dark, their property caught fire. I contracted. When the storm was all over, it was night time and we lit lanterns in the house as there was no power. Everything felt apocalyptic. The babe was in his cowboy bed and my parents kept vigil until it was all over.

The last time I felt the need to push, I heard the embryo fall into the water. I could have flushed it, but I felt like I needed to honor this life. I plunged my hands into the water and retrieved my baby. My baby. That's what it was. the sac was clear, the embryo was developed, but not yet human-like. But it was my baby in my hands 7 months before it should have been. I put it back into the water and whispered a goodbye. I washed my hands and went back into the living room. My step-dad kissed my head like he always does, and poured me a glass of whiskey. Suddenly, Owen woke up in the middle of the night which he never does at the Pharm. He came upstairs in the pitch black which he never does anywhere. He snuggled by lamplight with me, then we went to bed.

We all slept hard and woke up late. The very next day, we all drove to Wenatchee in my step-dad's truck and got a 7 week old puppy we named Crosby. He was born the same month I had conceived the baby. He was and is a blessing to our family.

I was told to wait two cycles to get pregnant again, but the thought of having another miscarriage was so off-putting I didn't want to think about it. So we waited and didn't think about it. Each month, I wasn't pregnant was disappointing and relieving.

By November I still wasn't pregnant and really getting used to the idea that we would only have one birth-child. At this point, thinking about fostering and adoption was exhausting so I didn't.

November 17th, I went to work. I did not feel well. I figured it was indigestion or this stomach illness that was ravaging my students and faculty. Toward the end of the day, I was feeling really rotten. I sat down to attempt to relieve the stabbing pain in my abdomen, but as I took my seat, a shotgun blast went off inside me.

I got up to use the restroom because I thought I was going to throw up. I stumbled across the hallway and in the 3 seconds it took to get from my office to the restroom, I was already fainting. A student saw me and asked if I was OK. That's the last really clear memory I have until a few minute later when I wondered why my face hurt and why my mouth tasted like blood. I was confronted by the cold surface my body was pressed against and thought it strange that I had just seen a student jump over me. She had been using the restroom when I collapsed a third time into the stall next to her.

Paramedics were called and JJ was en route. I continued to faint. I tried to answer questions. My vitals ere dropping and I was floating. I floated above the crowd in the restroom and stayed suspended in the air until I realized I was in an ambulance. Then in the the ER. Then getting an ultrasound. Then in surgery. I was pregnant. But the embryo was on my ovary and it was killing me.

I woke up and had a couple of days in the hospital. I love hospital food and nurses. I'm not kidding. I think if I had to live in a hospital I would probably do just fine.

It was two days of pain and needles, blood transfusions and catheters. It took two days for my body to work again and when it did I went home. Then I watched Netflix for two weeks and that was like an early Christmas gift.

I missed the opening week of my musical and the theatre family rallied and found an understudy. They were and are gracious, skilled, lovely, beautiful, big-hearted, incredible people. I could go on and on about the director and stage-manager. It was unconditional love all-around.

Pretty soon, I was at my new-normal and everyone continued to be gracious and wonderful. Even though that was the most difficult time of my life, I also look back on it fondly because of friends, family, co-workers, and the theatre community. Sometimes I just have to close my eyes and remember how they all made me feel and I can again gather up that love they heaped on me.

This was only half the journey. During these months, JJ had applied for a perfect job for him. He didn't get this job. I can't say much about it because I am still devastated and furious. One group's decision turned our already tumultuous lives upside down and I'm still not sure how to feel anything other than frustration and rage. It is what it is, but it's a huge mistake.

Anyway.

This began a path I thought I had been assured we wouldn't go on for years to come. It feels like we had just moved to West Central and into this big, beautiful, perfect home. I felt forced to change our trajectory and what I was promised was our "calling." I was, and am still, so confused. I still feel like I will wake up and this will have all been a nightmare. But I'm not asleep. And it is all reality.

JJ was offered multiple positions within Youth for Christ and they all required a move. I was vehemently opposed to a move so JJ stopped talking about it for a while. Then the offers became more serious. I lost count of how many people were asking him to come to their areas to do the very job he was rejected for here. It made me proud and angry. So he's good enough for everyone else, but not Spokane? I have to sell my home, move my family and my things, leave our friends and our community, find a new job and a new life all because of one decision. JJ's life was scattered all while the pieces of my life were finally fitting together.

One of the positions JJ was offered was with his old boss, whom we love. I said "no." Then I said, "I am not saying 'yes,' but I feel like I can't say, 'no.'"

I couldn't be the person to squash JJ's "dream job." In all honesty, I feel forced to give up everything I have fought tooth and nail for so he could have this dream. He didn't ask me to, but I felt I had no other choice.

In the midst of all this, I discovered I was surprisingly pregnant once again. We were told to wait. We did--I think. I know how pregnancy happens, I'm just still shocked it did. Sure it would end in miscarriage or near death, I did very little to celebrate or even think about this baby. I went to an appointment early just to make sure I wasn't going to die. They couldn't say much about the blob other than it wasn't growing any place it shouldn't be.

Like all the other pregnancies, I cramped and bled. Except this time, I also became extremely ill. I was sick all the time and even had to take days off from work because getting out of bed was impossible, unless I was throwing up. I went in for more tests and ultrasounds and every time I expected to see another still heart, there it was bigger than before.

It grew arms and legs. It had a chin and nose. It moved. Its heart kept beating and it kept growing. When Owen was 17 weeks, I felt him move. I saw him move my abdomen just a few days after I felt it. This baby wasn't moving. I agonized, but my old self comforted me and we lost hope together. But my belly swelled and my body ached. My appetite increased and my sleep decreased. I begged the baby to move. It didn't.

Until it did. The very next day after I begged God for a sign.

That was last Tuesday. Today is Saturday and as I type, my nearly 20 week old fetus is kicking inside me.

Living.

Moving.

It's a real, live baby and it's really complicating everything. It means that I need to stay here and stay on my insurance while JJ starts his new job in Seattle. It means I will be a single mom for most of the week while I get my Kindergartener off to his new (amazing) school he was accepted to (great timing, Universe. I appreciate that). It means I will go to my appointments alone. I will attempt to sell or rent this beautiful, misplaced home--MY home--and pack everything up while I am 8 and 9 months pregnant. It means I will say my goodbyes and mourn my wonderful life all while trying to stay calm for the sake of a baby who shouldn't be blamed for any of this. It means I have to take responsibility for staying sane and mentally sharp all while wanting to fall apart.

I will wake up. I will wake up my son. And the dog. I will feed at least two of us and dress us. I will make sack lunches and tie shoes. I will zip backpacks and search through purses for my keys. I will remember to lock all the doors and make sure the puppy is outside and happy. I will remember to have enough gas to take my son to school and be to work on time. I will love other people's kids. Then I will go pick up my son at his new (amazing) school and take him home. We will collapse. I will feed at least two of us. I will bathe at least one of us. I will put the boy, the dog, the cat, and the mama with the baby inside her all to bed. At least three of us will sleep. Then I will do it all over again.

I wish I saw the silver lining in all of this. I am grieving. I don't see it. Maybe I refuse to see it. I try to be grateful for all I do have and thank each moment for its presence in my life. My beautiful therapist told me something I will never forget. She told me that I see all of these good things in my life as outward gifts coming into me. When really, it was what was inside me all along that brought these gifts to me. I drew this life toward myself. It was no accident. She told me it's me. It was always me and I can create this life for myself no matter where I go. Maybe that is my silver lining. For now, I have to live in the grey. It reminds me of a song from my favorite musical, Company. The song is called "Sorry-Grateful." The main character, Bobby, asks his friend Harry if he regrets getting married. Harry replies with this:


You're always sorry

You're always grateful

You're always wondering what might have been

Then she walks in


And still you're sorry

And still you're grateful

And still you wonder

And still you doubt

And she goes out


Everything's different

Nothing's changed

Only maybe slightly rearranged


You're sorry-grateful

Regretful-happy

Why look for answers

Where none occur?


You always are

What you always were

Which has nothing to do with

All to do with her


You're always sorry

You're always grateful

You hold her thinking

I'm not alone

You're still alone


You don't live for her

You do live with her

You're scared she's starting

To drift away

And scared she'll stay


Good things get better

Bad get worse

Wait, I think I meant that in reverse


You're sorry-grateful

Regretful-happy

Why look for answers

Where none occur

You'll always be

What you always were

Which has nothing to do with

All to do with her


Nothing to do with

All to do with her


This doesn't fit perfectly with out situation, but the sentiment holds true. In life, you are always stuck between the good and the bad. It is what it is. It's just life. I realize that we could be dealing with much worse, but this is our reality and it's very difficult at the moment.


I'm sorry we have to uproot our lives.

I'm grateful for a new baby.

I'm regretful I couldn't figure out a way to stay.

I'm happy for all the opportunities.


I'm still looking for answers where none occur.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Easy Does It

I remember when my brother and I discovered Easy Cheese. It was on a family trip to Disneyland and my frugal parents decided to drive all the way there in our crimson Astro van. Around noon, after we were saturated with Kirby’s Dreamland and Tetris on our Gameboys, my mother pulled out the red snack cooler. It was the Arc of the Proverbial Snack Covenant and in it was the Holy Grail of our childhood. My dear mother brought forth the elements: individual cans of “Cheddar ‘n Bacon” Easy Cheese and Chicken in a Biskit crackers--arguably, America’s favorite snack.

Our hearts leapt for joy for we had only heard of this snack in commercials. We dreamed of being able to spray the yellow streams of delight directly into our mouths and now was our day. For a shining moment in time, my brother and I shared his bench seat in the back for one time and one time only on our trip to Anaheim, California. Upon the curiously chicken-flavored “biskits” we made--slowly and with great care--smiley faces. Smily faces with eyebrows. Smiley faces with crazy hair. Smily faces with no hair. Smily faces with glasses. A Mickey Mouse smiley face. There was no end to the smiley faces we could create, admire, and devour.

My brother and I have always been good savers when it comes to things we really enjoy. So, we left a half-box of “biskits” and some squirts of bacon-flavored cheese product in the can for later. I went back to my bench seat in the middle and he returned to lounging in the seat behind me. We drifted in an out of dreams and through small, dusty towns until once more, the crackers and squeezable cheese beckoned.

I remember looking at the bottle of cheese and the crackers and feeling so conflicted. My mind was telling me to dive in, but my stomach was telling me seasoned crackers and ribbons of orange “cheese” were going to be problematic shortly. This was right about the time my dad pulled over near a gas station and told us to make sure all the windows were shut. At the very moment the Holy Snack Elements began to betray me, we were enveloped by a Saharan-sized sandstorm.

I didn’t have time to react in awe at this amazing event unfolding around me. I had to run 100 yards to that gas station and pray that they let me in while sand swirled around me. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice it to say, upon my successful return to the Crimson Chariot, I didn’t finish that bottle of Easy Cheese and haven’t touched the stuff since.

Why am I telling this story? Lately I have been thinking about doing difficult things. Maybe you are like me and you tend toward looking for an easy way out of situations. Take dieting for example. I am on a diet where I have basically decided to just eat healthy and exercise like you’re supposed to. Eating healthy is easy. I enjoy it and it makes me feel better immediately. Exercising is hard for me. I can’t seem to find the time or the exercise I like doing. I begin some crazy dance-aerobics group and soon find myself looking for excuses to not go and this usually happens about three classes in. It’s also difficult to prioritize yourself when you are a mom. Moms, do you ever think back on your day with a child and realize that you clothed, bathed, wiped, comforted, and fed that child but haven’t done a single one of those things for yourself? Or maybe you are like me and you work full-time so being away at the gym for an hour seems like torture when all you want to do is spend every millisecond with your child. In any case, it’s hard making decisions to do things that are difficult because it would be nice to have a little bit of easy every once in a while.

We live in a time where convenience is a commodity. If we can simplify, it feels like we are adding minutes to our lives when in reality, we are robbing ourselves of what’s good. I’m not talking about TV dinners and machines you hook up to your abdomen to give you a six-pack while you watch reruns of “Seinfeld.” I’m talking about making a decision to do difficult things because we know that in the end that’s what is good for us. It seems simple and we hear it all the time, but how many of us really do that?

Two stories come to mind when I think about doing difficult things. The first, is a parable Jesus told about two roads. He basically says that there is one wide road, and everybody on it is eating TV dinners and using ab-machines while watching reruns of Seinfeld. There are tons of people crowding it and more coming in droves. Then there is the narrow road and not a lot of people take this road because you actually have to do work on it. You will have to sacrifice a lot. You will probably sweat. And there are definitely no TV dinners included. But in the end it’s the wide road, the easy road, that leads nowhere. It leads to destruction. To carry out the metaphor, it leads to beer-bellies and your cable being cut-off. The narrow road leads to nothing but good things. It leads to life and that’s the one we all have a hard time taking because getting there isn’t easy, but Jesus promises that there is a great reward for those who take it.

So, what? Great, Katy I totally get it, like I always do every time I hear this sermon preached. Thanks for telling one more boring story about Easy Cheese to illustrate the same point.


I’m not finished.

The other story that comes to mind is when Jesus knows that he is about ready to be brutally killed. He asks his Father if it’s at all possible that he take the easy way out of this horrible situation. It seems reasonable, right? I would do the very same thing. But Jesus knew the will of his Father and he took the hard road because he knew the reward would be great not only for himself, but also for us.

Jesus died to take away the sin of the easy road. He knew that we would always want to choose it, so he made the decision to take the hard road for us. When Jesus asked God if he could take the easy road, he not only knew the will of his Father, but also knew his heart. He knew, like the prophet Jeremiah said, God had only good plans for him. He didn’t have plans to harm him, but plans to give Jesus--and us--a hope and a future. Jesus took the hard road for us because he trusted that there were good things to come.

Why have I been thinking about this lately? JJ and I are in the process of a huge decision for our lives. We are planning on moving to West Central Spokane (a place people call “Felony Flats”) this summer which is a scary prospect for me. I love our neighbors and this little house. I’m four minutes from my job and I know where to find everything at the Safeway down the street. I fee comfortable jogging in my neighborhood. Ok, I don’t jog, but if I did, I would feel safe doing it. There is nothing about West Central that would indicate to any person it is a great place to live. That is, until you start doing life there.

You see, God is asking me to take a chance and to jump over to the hard road anytime I choose. It’s funny, because there is no electrified fence or barbed-wire between the two roads. You don’t even have to back-track to begin walking down the hard road. It’s as simple as overcoming the barrier of making the decision to do difficult things that are maybe a little frightening. I worry about my son and our future children feeling safe. I worry that my stuff will be stolen or my house vandalized. I worry that one of us will be seriously injured. But there is a life happening there that God wants us to be a part of even if it doesn’t make sense to most people.

In his new book, Love Does, Bob Goff encourages Christians to not hide behind a veil of terminology like, “mission trip,” or in this case, “missional living.” We aren’t going to a mission. We are going to people. We are going to be absorbed by these people. So I’ve stopped thinking in terms of, “missional living” and I’ve started thinking the way Bob and his family do and really, the way Jesus did. We are moving to West Central to make new friends.

If you know me, you’ll know that loving new people isn’t a stretch and I’m still wondering why the grocery bagger hasn’t invited me to his son’s bar mitzvah come up on the 22nd. Still, I have difficulty wrapping my heart around how to let these particular new people love me back and wondering what my new life with my new friends will look like.

I know God is telling me that the easy road isn’t the way to go, especially with regard to this situation. I know that if I decide to stay here I will be missing out on some of the fun God wants me to have while I am living out the promise he made to us in Jeremiah 29:11.

God doesn’t want me to fill up on the Easy Cheeses of life, if you will. I have a feeling that if I do, my life will end up in a sandstorm of frustration and I won’t have to wonder how I got into that mess. So, it’s time to make the difficult choice and do the hard work on the path Jesus already chose for me.  I feel confident that the end is better than a half-a-can of orange, bacon-flavored goo.

We will let you know how it goes.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Happiness and Cheer

The holiday season is upon us and I have finally found a moment to update the blog. If you have found us using the QR code on our postcard--congratulations! You are either under the age of 40, not still living under a rock, or took the time to Google "squiggly black square" and went through the tutorial on how to use it. Woo hoo!

Two thousand eleven has been a whirlwind of a year and I can't believe we've finally made it to Christmas Winter (as we must call in in School District #81) break. We aren't yet at the halfway point in the school year, but it's quickly approaching. Summer can't come soon enough for us here. I would be satisfied to never see another snowflake ever again and it's looking like I might get my wish this year. Although, I did teach Owen to catch them with his tongue and now at the slightest hint of a gray could, he opens his mouth wide. It might be freezing outside, but that melted my heart. Aside from Owen being occasionally happy to see a flake or two, JJ and I often comment that if we woke up tomorrow to 90 degree heat we wouldn't have a single complaint. Alas, it is still winter and we have to make the most of it.

Each time this year, I feel the anxiety welling up inside me due to the money spent, rushing around finding gifts, and worrying that I might have missed wishing someone a Happy Christmakwanzikahorwhathaveyou. I stayed up last night thinking about how stressful this time of year always gets no matter how I try to not make it about money and presents. It seems like each year, I declare that I won't be buying gifts or doing the typical Christmas thing, and somehow I get lured in. It never fills us up, never makes us happy, and always seems to leave a little twinge of guilt that I couldn't make it about what I want it to be about. And wouldn't you know it? I had a wake-up call.

Remember when you were a kid and you didn't finish your cereal and your parents would say, "You know there are starving children in Africa who would be happy to eat your soggy Cheerios!"
I remember thinking, Well if they want me to mail my rotten food to them, I will. It's a horrible thought, I know. I didn't want my parents making me feel guilty for not finishing my meal. In that same line of thinking, I used to say that whatever our issues and circumstances are, they are important because they are our individual reality and that matters. I can't compare my difficult situation to a starving child in Africa's situation. I can't let that lessen the pain or discomfort I am feeling because what I am feeling is real, too. The counselor (and human) in me wants to validate every single inconvenience, but the realist in me has become acutely aware that is does matter that others are less-fortunate. The starving child in Africa actually should change our lives. The two friends we have with the same "rare" form of cancer do make me less prone to complaining about colds, flu, and aches or pains. The people who got my old wool sweaters, hats, and jackets it UGM this week should change my perspective on our material wealth. Of course I can't complain--I'm getting off really easy.

This post isn't meant to beat anyone over the head and force anyone to take back all their gifts and exchange your 8-foot tall Christmas tree for a Charlie Brown twig. I am simply realizing that Christmas has nothing to do with spending money, sending cards, or listening to Christmas songs. None of those things are bad--in fact for you thoughtful people out there, it's an act of love and care for those around you. I just look at what is happening in the lives of those around us near and far, loved ones and strangers, and I can't help but feel like I am missing the mark. I am missing the true Christmas. I am missing the revelation of the Christ Child and all that he came for.

When I delivered my old stuff to the UGM this week, I drove past the bike rack outside its front doors. I was struck not only by the fact that in this cold weather, people are still riding bikes, but also by the two or three children's bikes that were parked there as well. I began crying as I left the parking lot, thinking about the fact that there were children just like Owen inside that building warming up and eating a hot meal. No home to call their own. No Christmas presents. No parties with hams or pie. Their reality washed over me like an ice-cold river. I ached for it to be different and better, fully knowing that it might never be in this life, but recognizing that the message of the season is that it will be different in another life.

My heart longs for the hope that Magi felt when they heard about Jesus. It aches for our friends to feel the awe and wonder of his healing power. My soul reaches out in recognition of God's holiness and pure love. In justifying the busy nature of the season, I feel the pain of the thought that I have missed the opportunity to experience these things. But how small-minded of me to think that these aspects of God only come once a year. Isn't this the longing of a weary soul each day that it is on this Earth? It should be, anyway and how often I forget.

These are just the thoughts of a human becoming aware of my personal selfishness and pride. My hope is that I can remember the message of this season each day. I have a feeling that if I carried the hope of the Christ Child in my heart more fully throughout the year, that I wouldn't feel so jaded about the rush of Christmastime. Our prayer for you, our friends, is that you feel that hope and longing for the true meaning of the coming of Christ. We hope that you understand the invasion of Christ in your life and that the true message of Christ is alive in your hearts all year long. Thank you for loving us and loving the people around you. You all do it so well and this world needs the love you are giving it. Enjoy what you've got and continue being grateful.

Merry Christmas.


Monday, March 7, 2011

On the slippery slope to Carrot Top, or: Letting Mother Nature Down


As my hair snaps off into my lap, I consider renaming vivalavancils.blogspot.com. I wanted to call it failblog.bogspot.com, but there is already a "failblog" which really just looks like a blog with videos of situations I get myself into daily. My spring cleaning effort (read: experiment) has so far, been a giant failure. I put something I thought was shampoo in my hair and it seemed to turn it an orangeish hue.

Did anyone else become violently ill after looking at this photo?


It turned out to smell like a cleaning product, but I suspect it was Old Spice Body Wash because I smelled like the man my man actually smells like.

I also found some organic face toner and used that. I have no idea what face toner is for, but at some point in college a woman convinced me I needed it (the year was 2004 to be exact) so I bought it and after not knowing what it was for and decided that it wasn't important enough to use on my face before my 8 AM Old Testament class, I stopped using it. It somehow managed to follow me into our home and wind up back on my face 7 years later. I think a good rule of thumb is that any product you have had for longer than the time it would take you to use it up had you been using it on a regular basis is likely not safe to use again 7 years later.

I also had to ask a sales clerk at Bath & Body Works what color Sea Island Cotton shower gel is supposed to be and it turns out that chartreuse (while beautiful) is not it.

All of this is to say that I have moved on from my experiment and have used some of the soaps to clean things which surprisingly/horrifyingly worked (it can clean my sink AND my skin?). The other stuff I rinsed out and recycled or repurposed the containers.

Anyway, this little experiment has taught me two things about myself:

1. I don’t like showering all that much so when I do shower it has to be nice (so I got shampoo that didn’t burn my hair off and face wash that actually eliminates blemishes rather than causes them)

2. That I love the Earth enough to want to change the way I live my life rather than make up for the crappy things I have done in the past.

OK. I am now moving onto other things like being a grump about this horrible weather. Speaking of turning orange, I see a tanning bed in my future...





12-9-2009-jersey-shore-02.jpg


Saturday, February 26, 2011

Spring Cleaning

It isn't time to open the windows and let the sound of birds and the fresh, clean air drift though our windows. We are ready for that, but Mother Nature and that freaking Groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, are in cahoots and have a different idea. It is 9. Yes, 9. As in degrees. It's the worst. I was to be cleaning and purging myself of all the items we have claimed over the years, but I am either too cold to move or I gather these items, but taking them to the trash is an actual life or death situation. I might never make it back from the garage and I'll wind up eating the garbage I just threw out and peeing on myself to stay warm like Bear Grylls inevitably ends up doing on every episode of Man Vs. Wild ( I wonder if his wife is ever like, "Bear! Really? Right now at the super market? Peeing on yourself won't make this line go any faster!").

"Hey, it's either eat this raw fish, or drink my own pee, lady. You choose."

So, as I am fuming about this frigid day, I hop in the shower to warm up and I get a brilliant idea. I am looking around at the five hundred products we have in the shower fully knowing that there are five hundred more in the medicine cabinets and drawers and I decide to use them all. No, not like that minute, in the shower, but until they are gone. The thought of only having the products I actually use and need (which would be like five) is somehow very freeing. Here are the rules:

1. Use all bottles, big and small--yes, even travel-sized and samples.

2. No buying any products just because you don't like something. This means that when that nice bottle of shampoo is gone, we're using Head & Shoulders.

3. We may throw out expired products (nobody wants to use Gold Bond Medicated Lotion when it's past the date. That's more like A Thousand Tiny Fairies Softly Blowing By--With Burning Hot Blister-Causing Daggers in Their Hands).

4. We don't have to use seasonal products like sunscreen and bug spray ("Katy has an interesting oily glow today and smells faintly of the pool and deet.").

5. We have to actually take all the vitamins we have (unless they are expired, of course and even then, I enjoy a good hallucination as much as the next person, so why not?)

6. We don't have to use medicated products unless we need them. I don't want to burn my face off unless I am actually having an acne outbreak--then, bring on the benzoyl peroxide!

This may mean that the next time you see me you might think, "Wow, Katy's scent reminded me of this perfume from the Gap I used to wear in Junior High."

And you would be right.
Because I still have a sample bottle of Dream and a huge one of Om.

So far, it's not looking impossible, but I do have an inordinate amount of Lip Venom to get through (remember that stuff?).

Lisa Rinna remembers Lip Venom!



How can you begin spring cleaning before spring's officially decided to show up?

We have a long way to go

Thursday, February 24, 2011

I 'Just' Had a Baby--Really.

I have come to the awful realization that JJ and I are on the slippery slope to 30. I keep saying that we are in our early 20s, but it's obviously (as in legally) not true. It hasn't been for a couple of years. This means that not only do we have to start acting our age, but we also have to accept that we are indeed old enough and wise enough to have a child. JJ will look over at me at least once a day and say, "We have a child. In our house. Like, a living, breathing, pooping, small human being." I sometimes can't believe that I am someone's mother and my prayers often consist of asking God why he is entrusting us with another human's life. Then I ask for patience, wisdom, and an anti-wrinkle cream that doesn't cost over $5 and comes in a bigger jar than .5 ounces.

These wrinkles are likely caused from all the smiling we do with Owen who is a ham and an absolute joy to be with. I can hardly wait to wake up in the morning and go get him. There is nothing like laying in bed and listening to him wake up with coos and laughing, then going into his room and peeking over the crib only to see him look up with a big toothless* grin, kicking and wiggling. From the moment he wakes up, he is going a million miles a minute. Tucker usually comes into Owen's room with me and the mere sight of Tucker sends Owen into a frenzy. The converse is also true, but the type of frenzy Tucker experiences at the sight of Owen is not so much a happy feeling as it is truly terrifying for him. We try to keep the two at a distance, but the braver and more mobile Owen becomes, the more aggressive Tucker is. If I had a crystal ball, I might see a de-clawing in Tuck's future and more handfuls of cat hair in Owen's.

Owen just learned how to roll from back to front which is a problem at night when he accidentally wakes himself up by rolling over. He really enjoys categorizing his toys by putting like toys in piles which actually kind of freaks us out. He's eating well and basically loves everything he tries except of course, anything other than water from a bottle**. This is pretty limiting for me as it means that Owen refuses to eat while I am subbing (this can be up to 9 hours). He's obviously not starving at 22 pounds and 29 inches. I just put 12 month PJs on him and I want to cry. He's just getting so big and learning so much every day. There are times when I am holding him and he's snuggling (very rare) and I just cry. I am so thankful for him. I am proud beyond any sense of pride I have ever had in myself and I am deliriously happy. Don't get any ideas--pooping, crying, eating constantly, drooling, and pooping some more will not get YOU on my good side.

So, at 7 months I have to now stop using the excuse that I just had a baby. I have to finally tighten up these abs (or the muscles that used to be abs--sort of) and begin figuring out how to actually parent, not just sustain his life. Here are a few pictures of our bubbly, crazy, seven month old on the slippery slope to 1 year.

* He now has a tooth as of this morning
**We discovered the right bottle and he's eating whatever out of it
How quickly things change in a couple of days!


Check out the dinosaur toes. He's a Snuggleosaurus.

Still loving that bath time. He's taken a few nosedives into the water trying to grab that octopus. Don't worry, I eventually put the camera down long enough to retrieve him from the water.

Rocking and occasionally moving an arm. He can stay this way forever for all I care.

He loves to look at his shadow.

Trying to get a picture of his 4 inch hairs that I refused to cut--until this day. I finally cut them and it still makes me sad they are gone. I think Tucker ate them.

No matter how we put the blanket on, he's always snuggled up when we peek at him.

Tucker, disguising himself as one of Owen's toys.
"Categorize this little man!"

We are SO ready for spring!

New 12 month PJs! Yeesh. He will eat us out of house and home when he's a teenager.

I am ready for some new books, but Owen seems to not mind that this is billionth time we've read Green Eggs and Ham.

Hanging out at YoungLives Club with Auntie Shauna and his baby buddies.


video

Friday, December 31, 2010

Year in Review

I am a sucker for those “Year in Review” shows that come out at the end of each year. It really doesn’t matter what station it’s on what subject they are reviewing. I usually know a little something about everything thanks to all the time I waste on Huffington Post at three in the morning when I can’t fall back to sleep after our lovely neighbor decides to put the pipe down and start working on his junker out front. Eh. Anyway, these shows are always fun for me even if it’s “Year in Review: Goriest Shark Attacks” or “Year in Review: Shades of Kim Kardashian’s Lip Balm in 2010” or even better “Year in Review: Larry King and His Many-Patterned Suspenders.”

Just this morning I saw an advertisement for “2010’s Best Celebrity Freak Outs,” which seems kind of juxtaposed to me. Best celebrity freak outs? Are they ever good? I guess I stared in awe along with everyone else when Lindsay Lohan went to rehab for the 11th time in a month or when Tiger Woods got his car bashed in with his golf clubs by his seemingly out-of-control wife (who turned out to be the normal one of the two--poor lady). When I watch these shows I often find myself viewing this year through the lens of the media. We saw politicians rise and fall. We watched stories of celebrity infidelity unfold. We stayed glued to our televisions and watched natural disasters wreak havoc on our world. We helplessly watched a war that seems like it will never end.

It’s easy to think of this past year as a list of strange events and tragedies, allowing ourselves to view our world through such a narrow lens. I suppose I sometimes look at my year as events that have happened to me rather than moments I participated in. When I reflect on 2010 in terms of the latter my memories are much richer; more meaningful. So I have made a list of these moments maybe not for the reader, but for me to enjoy and steep in. Here is The JJ & Katy Vancil Year in Review:

1. We joyfully welcomed our first Snuggie into our home. While many see this item as purely meme, I have truly enjoyed and am currently enjoying our super-plush blanket with sleeves. OK onto the real list.

2. I was pregnant. My pregnancy was not textbook in any way. If I hadn’t taken a pregnancy test, I might have not known I was pregnant until I was about 20 weeks along. I wasn’t sick and other than being really tired, I had a fairly easy pregnancy. We had a bump in the road when I began heavily bleeding and was placed on bed rest for two weeks. We were always on edge thinking that at any moment, we could lose the baby, but God was faithful and the bleeding stopped eventually. Although the doctors could never find the source of the bleeding, I ended up having a heart-shaped placenta (which for those who are not experts on placentae, it’s not supposed to be heart-shaped) which could have meant that the placenta was not fully attached. That could have been a big problem, but it wasn’t in the end. All in all, I had a great pregnancy and if I could have one like that every time (minus the bleeding) I would maybe have 30 or so kids. Growing this life inside of me was what I call a unifying experience. It connected me to the earth (yes, the earth--is that New Agey? Oh well). it connected me to my ancestors, it connected me to myself, and best of all it helped me recognize God in everything I did, thought, and said.

3. JJ and I began praying for our future in a new way. We opened ourselves up to God to do something new in our lives and guess what happened? He did. JJ was asked to interview at a few new jobs and we started to realize that there would be big changes in our future.Over the last few years, our lives have become more globalized I guess one could say. We have had bigger, newer, and fresher ideas that it seems God is growing in us and God wanted to give us the opportunity to move on those ideas. So we started looking for new opportunities both in career and relationship.

4. We went to Romania. I often think back on this experience and wonder if it actually happened. It was so perfectly orchestrated and executed that only God could have been the master designer of that trip. We reconnected with friends from Germany, made new friends from all over Europe, and fell in love with a place we had never even considered visiting. We also had the pleasure of spending a day in Budapest which was not the highlight of the trip to be sure, but it was such a special treat and a lovely way to end our time there.

5. I graduated from graduate school and could officially call myself a counselor. What I love about my education is that I have never once had buyer’s remorse. I can’t say that about many things as I am the Queen of Second Guessing Myself. I enjoyed school, I did really well, I am done, but I don’t have a job. I have been subbing and I love that, but it is difficult and my new prayer for this next year is that I will be given a .5 position so I can stay at home with Owen most of the time.

6. JJ got a new job with YFC. We had a difficult time leaving the kids at Shiloh, but they and we understood that God’s call is bigger than to a church. Many people at Shiloh have been wonderful in supporting God’s call on our lives and those friends of ours have continued to encourage us and even volunteer sometimes. They continue to love us and to love little Owen which does our hearts a lot of good. We are thankful to have friends who get what God is doing in the world and are OK with us doing it some other place than Shiloh. JJ feels great at YFC and our hearts have been opened to a new group of people in a really tough place. We feel a little bit like visitors there, but we know that we are slowly becoming family not only with the kids and leaders, but with JJ’s incredible co-workers whom we love so much.

7. A few of our favorite people got married and we were blessed to be a part of these ceremonies. We love weddings. I love them mostly for the wedding cake, but we love them because we get to participate in God’s plan for someone’s life. Joel & Jeannie, Jake & Kellie, Emily & Jason, and Emily & Alex have been a huge influence on us and we are so happy to be a part of their lives. Those first three weddings mentioned dilated me to a good four centimeters and Owen was just a few weeks old at the last wedding--his first flight and trip to Colorado!

8. We had a baby. Crazy. We often (like maybe ten times a day) look at Owen and say to each other, “Do we really have a son?” It feels surreal and lovely and terrifying all at once. Giving birth to him was amazing and each day our love for him grows. I have thought this crazy thought before that if God loves me half as much as I love Owen, then I am deeply, madly, crazily loved. What’s amazing is that my love for Owen is a fraction of how much God loves me and all of us. Sometimes I have to stop thinking about Owen because my heart feels too full. Just now I am crying even expressing my love for him. I wish there was another word than love to describe my feelings about our son because love doesn’t even seem to do it justice. He is the best part of us and we cherish being a family.

9. We went to Hawai’i. Many of you know, our honeymoon was not good. It was kind of a nightmare and the stuff of legends, if you really want to know. I wish I had taken photographic evidence of what we endured when we weren’t escaping from our miseries on the beach (that part was good), but I’m hoping that the lack of proof will someday help me forget. So, when JJ was asked to perform his cousin’s wedding on Kaua’i, we decided to make it a second honeymoon of sorts. Granted, there were no lazy afternoons drinking margaritas out of fishbowls (I had a baby to nurse!) and we were old enough to rent a car this time (no more chicken trucks into town!), it was still the vacation we always wanted. We spent time loving each other, loving Owen, and LOVING Kaua’i. On these cold winter days, JJ will look off into the distance and whisper, “I miss Kaua’i.” He even said last week that he thinks we have to live there someday. OK, if you twist my arm.

10. We started going to a new church. We are learning, growing, and feeling challenged every day. We have said to each other, “I wish today was Sunday,” because we are excited to go to church and learn, worship, and pause for a minute. We feel like we are able to take what we participate in on Sunday as we go through Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and that’s all we’ve ever wanted.

11. My final favorite memory for this year is that we are celebrating Advent through the Epiphany by doing readings from theologians. Our favorites (no surprise here) have been, Karl Barth, Brennan Manning, and C.S. Lewis. We have loved this time of pausing and reflecting together every day, so we will be starting My Utmost for His Highest in the new year.

There you have it. I know there are many more things that happened in the year, but these are the ones that stick out as “Year in Review” worthy material. One final thought: JJ and I were talking a couple of days ago about what we want this new year to be about. We realized in this conversation that if we want it to be about something, we need to make that happen. It’s not just going to happen to us. We need to be active participants in our lives this year and make it be about what we want it to be about. So, we are excited to see where that takes us in the new year. We feel like God is doing huge things and we look forward to being caught up in that.

Happy 2011.