Face-querade

I remember back in junior high, for awhile, this one friend and I thought it was the coolest thing to hang out in online chat rooms.  We would get in from school, grab a snack, and plunk ourselves down in front of the computer and try to get Americans to believe that it was hard for us to find a place to plug in the computer in the igloo (I don’t remember that one ever working). Of course, my mother did not like my spending time in chat rooms; she had read Focus on the Family and well knew how they were fraught with creepy, middle-aged men pretending to be high school quarterbacks trying to get girls to give them their home addresses.  But we were smarter than that – we were well aware that things were seldom as they appeared when it came to chat rooms – in fact, we were pretty deceitful as well when it came to our true identities.  Once we were logged in, we magically transformed into a blonde 16-year-old surfer girl named Starla from California, or some other such silliness.

Hello, Starla

Thankfully, I left Starla and chat rooms behind in 8th grade.  Of course, like every twenty-something, there was also a long-running infatuation with MSN, a brief tryst with MySpace, and then the inevitable marriage to Facebook in more recent years.

Ah, Facebook.  While there are the usual faults to find with the online social networking giant, at least most are up front about who they are.  No 16-year-old blondies or creepy masquerading men on my friends list (that I know of, anyway…)! It’s quite something though, how much we tend to look through the rest of life – real life, if you will – through the Facebook lens.  Admit it, you are guilty of figuring out how you are going to word your status update about how awesome the concert was (lets see…”omg – Britney totally rocked last night!” …or “lungs hurt from screaming so much – Britney was amazing!!!!”?) while you are still in the arena rocking out to Baby One More Time.  And you’ve maybe, definitely taken photos of yourself in awesome locations doing awesome things for the sole purpose of setting it as a profile picture when you get home.  Actually, with the skyrocketing popularity of smartphones, you can post that awesome picture of you next to that rhinoceros while the rhino watches over your shoulder as you do it.

“This is totally my next profile pic!!!!!!!”

You know, the usual complaint with Facebook and other social networking sites is that we are spending too much time online, and less time in the “real world”.  But it seems to me that the more popular Facebook gets, the more active and in-touch with the “real world” my friends become!  I think a bunch of them are actually taking cooking lessons, because seriously every Instagram they post of their dinner is something completely mouthwatering and delicious-looking.  And all the status updates I read about baking!

Then there’s another group of friends who have all become super athletic.  I’m always reading about how they’re off to the gym and what a great workout they just had, and I realize that I dont think I even own running shoes anymore.  And there’s my supermom friends, who are all just always doing crafts, have perfect children, and somehow manage to do the laundry, cook supper, clean the everythingand have time to report about it all online.

And may I say that all of my Facebook friends are incredibly photogenic – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a single bad profile pic of any of them!!

Okay, so I hope you recognized the increasingly facetious tone of those last few paragraphs.

The truth is, while anonymous chat rooms may be more or less a thing of the past, social media sites, where we are encouraged to “share” everything via status updates and Instagram, give us the opportunity to pick and choose exactly what we post, so our perceived best foot is forward at all times.  Unlike real life, only the “good stuff” gets shown – only the stuff that makes us appear interesting and likable – so while nobody (okay, few) people are lying about who they are, nobody is being 100% honest either.

And I’m guilty of this too, although “guilty” isn’t really the right word, since it makes sense that we are only going to share those things that we think are interesting or attractive, but the unintentional end result is a highly edited profile that doesn’t quite paint the whole picture.  Scrolling through my Facebook profile as it is right now, one might assume, based on the things that I’ve posted in the past couple of months,  that I probably don’t have many interests outside of my daughter and motherhood in general, and that this daughter is smiley and a big cuddly bundle of fun all of the time.  Ha ha ha!

Of course, there are the usual rule breakers, and we poke fun at those few Facebook users who don’t seem to understand that telling the world about every little detail of their lives makes others quickly hit the “unsubscribe” button.  Actually, if we regularly posted the average and every day stuff, we’d probably see a lot more of this kind of thing on Facebook:

“Dinner tonight – Hamburger Helper again.”

Or this:

“Totally fun time hanging at Timmy’s after the show!”

Yes, that’s me back in 2008, and there’s a reason that picture has never made a Facebook appearance.  But I digress.

Now some of you may be thinking, “Okay Jenae, great post and all, but is it really worth the 1300-some words you’ve just written about it?  What does it matter?”

Well, maybe it doesn’t.  I don’t know.  But I do know that there are one or two individuals I absolutely love being around in the “real world”, who, truthfully, I find just a little bit…annoying on Facebook.  And there are a certain few friends who I would take a lot less seriously if spelling and grammar skills were an integral part of in-person conversations!  And if it weren’t for face to face interactions, I wouldn’t know that Gertrude’s face doesn’t actually normally look like this:

More seriously, I wonder how an individual’s self perception is potentially affected by scrolling through and seeing how “interesting” and “perfect” all of his or her friends’ lives seem to be.  I wonder how many mothers read about all of their cleaning, baking, and crafting friends while looking around at their own untidy homes feeling like failures.  I wonder how consumer culture is fueled as we read about and see photos of friends’ new cars and clothes.  I wonder if, after reading status updates about someone else’s partner surprising her with flowers, or reading an article about 21 things a husband should do for his wife, anyone has felt even slightly less satisfied with her own husband, and taken it out on him, even just a little bit.  And while I’m sure few would make the conscious connection between Facebook and how they perceive their own life circumstances, what about on the subconscious level?  I know that my friends’ children are likely just as difficult as my own can be sometimes, but more than once, I’ve found myself mildly surprised to find out that someone’s child is actually just as awful at sleeping as mine, and that status update last week about him sleeping through the night was a total fluke.  In any case, I would be very interested, and not at all surprised, to hear if there is any correlation between a rise in depression as the popularity of Facebook continues to rise.

In any case, I know what you’re really thinking about and wondering after reading this article: “Am I that friend that Jenae likes less online??”

Well, rest at ease, that was more to make a point than anything else.  And truth be told, I like you all better in real life, so lets try to get together there more often, okay?

Grow, Garden, Grow!

One of the things I love best about our new place is having a wonderful garden in the back yard.  We tried to grow a garden last summer, but since we weren’t here for the first month and a half to tend it, it was a sorry, withered little thing.  This year it’s coming up beautifully, and we are having a lot of fun watching it flourish, and enjoying the fresh veggies and berries its already produced.

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Oh Me of Little Faith

Last night was a terrible night.  My almost-8-month-old daughter, awakened multiple times by some unknown ailment, spent a good portion of the night letting us know in no uncertain terms that she was very unhappy with her circumstances.  As I related the night’s events to my mother this morning over Skype, clutching my precious mug of coffee in one hand, baby in the other (looking, I’m sure, the epitome of the bedraggled “new mom”), she asked me, “well, did you pray with her?”

Pray with her?  Well, of course I had!  At least, sort of.  More or less.  In truth, what I had done, groggy and grumpy and thinking more about my pillow than prayer, was mumble something along the lines of “God please calm Alice.”  And that’s it.

And as I thought about my midnight “prayer” later, after my mom and I had hung up and I was preparing my now happy-to-go-to-sleep baby for her morning nap, I realized that I hadn’t actually prayed for Alice, not really.  All I had done was, not giving much thought to Who I was talking to, mumbled some words into the air, and when the crying hadn’t ceased immediately after the last word, gave up. Oh well, I tried.

And I have to say that what I had done seems more like attempting a magic charm than asking for help; I had behaved as though the power would come from the words, not the one to whom the words were theoretically directed. 

Now, I know that this is not the way to talk to God.  But I started wondering, why didn’t I take the time to really pray, to really ask God to help my daughter?

I do believe in the power of prayer.  I have heard amazing stories from people I know and trust about miracles and healings and personal transformations.  I have been reading all about God bringing His kingdom here, to earth, now, through the prayers of people like me, and getting excited about it.  So why, if I truly believe that God will heal people from cancer, cast demons from the afflicted, and bring revival in my city, why do I act as though he wont grant my crying daughter peace and sleep?

As I reread that last paragraph, I noticed something.  God’s kingdom is coming because of the prayers of people like me.  Like me…but not…me?

I thought about this a bit.

Do I really believe that God hears the prayers of others better than He hears my prayers?  That others’ prayers are better, more eloquent, more skilled, than my own?  And that because of this, I am somehow exempt from praying for things – on my own, but especially in a group, out loud, even in front of my almost-8-month-old daughter?

Oh, me of little faith.

God, forgive my lack of faith and believing that You want to hear from some of Your children more than others.  Help me lead by example in praying with faith for my child.  

The Day We Got Stuck In The Snow

One winter, when I was seven or eight years old, and Brady was five or six, and Nicky (as we called him at that time) was just a baby, we built the best snow fort ever.  It may have even been the same year that We Lost Our Boots, but I’m not sure.

We piled the snow from our yard up, up, up against the fence, so high it was level with the top.  Then we waited a day or two for the snow to harden in place, and then my dad and Grandpa Fast (who was visiting with Grandma from Manitoba) hollowed it out while Brady and I bounced around the yard excitedly and probably got in the way.  

We loved that fort, and played in it all winter long.  It was king of the snow forts, as far as we were concerned – we built little snow shelves on the inside, and carved little snow dishes and forks and knives out of smaller, hardened pieces of snow to set on them.  We climbed all over that snow fort, and it doubled as our own miniature, personal tobogganing hill.  

Of course, with all the play that fort got, it inevitably deteriorated in condition throughout the winter.  One day Brady punched a hole through the top of it, which initially incited the dire wrath of seven-or-eight-year-old me, but soon became just another awesome feature of the fort: as the hole slowly enlarged and we started calling it the “manhole”, we spent hours sliding through it, up and down, like little seals sliding through holes in the ice in the Arctic.

It is there that our story really begins.

The Day We Got Stuck In The Snow was not, as you may imagine, a frosty, prairie-fresh wintry day – it was actually some months later, when March had arrived, and the earth was waking from its winter sleep.  The almost-spring sun had been blazing for a week or two, melted snow dripped from every roof, the breeze blew luke-warm and we felt free because we could  finally forego scarves; everywhere the snow was beginning to melt, and everything looked especially bright as the snow developed that sheen it gets as it begins to melt, then freezes, melts, then freezes and slowly disappears.

And our poor snow fort that was once king of the snow forts had begun to tire.  While it had once proudly stood as high as the fence in our back yard, it now sagged a sad foot or so below.  The doorway was dilapidated, and it hunched there, huddled against the back fence, a sad, shiny, aging beast.

On this particular springlike winter day, I donned my ski pants (it was almost warm enough for splash pants) and jacket, and raced outside, and immediately climbed atop the snow fort – it may have been on its last legs, but it still had a few days of play left in those old bones!  The first thing I wanted to do was dive headfirst down the manhole, which was had been a favorite feat throughout the winter, so down I went, hands first, and when my hands hit the ground, to “walk” on them, allowing my hips and legs to follow.  Then of course wriggle out, and climb back to the top and do it all over again (as I type out this explanation, it doesn’t sound nearly as thrilling as it was, I swear).

Only this time, I hadn’t taken into account the fact that the snow fort had shrunk a good foot or so, and that the inside would similarly be smaller.  And this time, as I ducked headfirst into the hole and my hands hit that snow beneath, I realized with dawning horror that there was just no room to walk on my hands, no room to wriggle those hips and legs into the snow fort behind me.  Even worse, I had no leverage to reverse myself back up out of the hole, so there I hung, balanced on my hands, legs splayed awkwardly in the air.

Stuck.

Dont panic, I told myself, Somebody has to look out the window soon, and then they’ll come help me.

The minutes that followed seem like hours as I twisted this way and that, trying to find some cranny to give me just a little more room to wriggle my way out.  I tried not to think about what would happen if nobody looked out the window – would my family find me hours later, passed out, frozen to death as the sun sank and the almost-spring warmth gone with it?  But my self-reassurances were right –  a few minutes later I heard the back door bang open and shut, and the whisk whisk of Brady’s snowpants rubbing together as he made his way toward me.  Relief washed over my inverted little body.

“What are you doing??” he asked, with far too much casualness for my dire situation.

“The fort melted!  I’m stuck!  Go get dad!” I bellowed, and Brady, thankfully, whisk whisked his way back inside.  I, meanwhile, relaxed, knowing that my salvation would be short at hand.

I can only imagine what my dad thought when he looked out the window and saw the lower half of his daughter’s body sprouting from the top of this snow pile, but he did what I’m sure any sane parent would do in the situation – got out the video camera.

When the door banged open and shut again, and I heard decidedly adult footsteps trudging through the snow, I was so relieved!  But my relief was short lived, as instead of immediately pulling me from my snowy snare, as ought to have happened, my dad began plying me with redundant questions, presumably for the benefit of his future film audience.

I’m sure there were visions of Bob Saget, ten thousand dollars, and America’s Funniest Home Videos playing in his head.

“What are you doing, Jenae?”  “How did you get stuck?” 

Well, my hands and arms were beginning to tingle, and I was in no mood to pander to such blatant disrespect.  I could hear the mirth in my dad’s voice, which only made me more indignant.  “Get me out!  Now!!”

At this point, Brady made a decision.  Apparently, Dad was not going to help me out, and it was up to him.  As the video footage later revealed, he purposefully ascended the snow fort, wrapped both his arms around my knees, and puuuuulled!   Unfortunately this mighty yet misguided effort caused my knees to attempt to bend in a way they definitely did not want to bend, and as he pulled, I gave a roar of pain.

“STOOOOOOOPPPPPP!!!”

And my dad kept that film a-rolling.

Thankfully this malarkey did not continue for much longer.  As Brady stopped trying to help, and I twisted and turned and wriggled and squirmed, finally, miraculously, I found an angle at which I could kind of mash my head and shoulders into the wall of the fort, and shimmy and squeeze the rest of my body down.  Sweet mercy, I was free!

I tumbled out the front door of the snow fort, brushed myself off and stretched my newly liberated limbs, realizing that my days of diving down the manhole were over, at least for that winter.

Now, you may be wondering, Jenae, the title of this story is The Day We Got Stuck In The Snow – it sounds like you were the only one who was stuck!  

Well, not two minutes after I had extricated myself from the snow fort (camera still rolling, by the way), Dad and I heard Brady give a loud, panicked cry – apparently, after witnessing my struggle, he wanted to see if he was still capable of descending through the manhole head first.  

It was at this point Dad decided to drop the camera and lend a hand.

The day ended happily, though.  After Dad swiftly freed a tear-stained Brady from the fort (Of course!  Why hadn’t I played the sympathy card?), we played for the rest of the afternoon in the snow.

It was a day not long after, when patches of grass were appearing here and there and a steady stream of geese were winging their way V-shapedly back North, I climbed atop the old fort one more time.  My weight proved to be too much for its old bones to handle, and I suddenly found myself inside the fort with nothing but the wide blue sky above me.  

That was the end of our once-proud fort, king of all snow forts.

And that is the story of the day we got stuck in the snow.

Kony, Beiber Fever, and Other Bandwagons to Jump On or Off

Chances are, in the past day and a half, you’ve seen something about Kony 2012 or Invisible Children splashed across your Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest news feed.  I know I first came across it yesterday afternoon while perusing Facebook – a couple of friends had posted this link, imploring myself and their other Facebook pals to watch this videoso, having nothing better to do at the time, I did.

For those of you who either reside beneath the proverbial rock or are currently Lenting from social networking (I can’t think of any other way it could have escaped your notice!), Kony 2012 is the newest campaign from the non-profit group Invisible Children, which is aimed at halting the abduction of children by Joseph Kony and his rebel group the LRA in Africa, and turning them into child soldiers and sex slaves.  In a nutshell, this particular campaign is aimed at bringing awareness to the world – to “make Kony famous” – in order to motivate the masses to lobby for aid and manpower to be sent to locate and arrest Kony for his crimes – this year.

So, I watched the half-hour Kony 2012 video last afternoon, and by the time I checked back into Facebook later that evening, almost every other post in my news feed was a link to this same video.  This thing has gone viral – in fact, as I type this, the version of it posted on YouTube has over 19.5 million* views!

Of course, it didn’t take long for the critics to chime in either.

“Do your research first!  Heard bad things about this!” one friend wrote in response to the clip, and I noticed this was echoed a few times as down I scrolled.

As I was following my friend’s advice and doing my research, criticisms abounded: from the way funding is divvied up (only 32% goes to direct services), to their somewhat shoddy rating on Charity Navigator (2/4 stars), to the fact that they are not aimed at the root of the child soldier problem (would the LRA really just give up if Kony did get arrested?), apparently Invisible Children just has got everything wrong!

Sure, some of these criticisms are valid.  But as I compared the criticisms with what Invisible Children’s mandate is for Kony 2012, I think it is also valid to say: so what?  Of all of the bandwagons to scoff at, why choose one that actually gets us comfy North Americans thinking and caring about something outside of our cushy little comfort zones?  This is not Bieber Fever here, folks!

I am interested in how one could view a project such as this – built upon rallying people together on behalf of others – in a negative light.  No fund allocation stats or Charity Navigator ratings can refute the positive effect of this.  Invisible Children isn’t campaigning through their video solely (or even primarily) to raise funds, they are motivating the individual to pick up the phone, send an email, to actively join in on their cause.

(Though in reference to the Kony 2012 definition of “actively join”, I did read such colourful descriptions such as “slactivism” and “buy-tivism”, along with a poke or two at how lame and pointless raising awareness for a cause is, and a whole bunch of slams on people who wear TOMS.)

The truth is, there is no really solid reason not to join in.  Invisible Children is doing, and encouaging others to do, something good!  And it’s just a bit shameful at how quick some can be to leap on the opposing bandwagon and immediately launch into a crazy game of chicken.  I find it kind of insane how somebody can, say, publicly admit they are on the Beiber Fever bandwagon (don’t get me wrong here, folks.  Justin Beiber is adorable in his cute little boy way, but that’s as far is it should ever, ever go!), and all it will elicit are a few joking comments and a couple of “likes”, but share the Kony 2012 video, and you are suddenly assaulted with comments, blogs, and articles galore about how you have been fooled into buying into the trendy “charity meme du jour”.

Yes, do your research and if you decide Kony 2012 is not your bandwagon, fine, okay.  But quite frankly I found it refreshing to log into Facebook, and instead of being bombarded with links to videos of other people doing idiotic things on camera, finding people actually caring enough about something outside of themselves to hit the “share” button.

So come on, folks.  Find another bandwagon to play chicken with.

To see the Kony 2012 video, click here.

To read an anti-Kony 2012 article, click here.

*I wrote the first part of this blog last night.  When I checked this morning, Kony 2012 had been viewed over 32.5 million times.

Cinemagraphs

The other day I was browsing Pinterest, my new favorite place to waste time online, when I saw a pin that caught my eye.  I clicked the link, and was introduced to the total awesomeness of cinemagraphs.

Well, I got so excited about how eerily wonderful these things were, I just had to try my hand at making my own.  So behold!  My first two attempts at cinemagraphy!

What do you think?  Neat, eh?  There will be more to come, I am sure.  If you want to see more cinemagraph awesomeness by the guys who came up with the idea (read: theirs are amazing and way better than what I came up with with my little point & shoot), you should head over to this website.

*So, I’m not sure why the first one doesn’t appear to be moving (it does in my edit window!), but if you want to see the movement in that one, just click on it).

Scattered Thoughts on A Growing Belly, and Life in General These Past Six Months.

It’s a rainy morning here in Medicine Hat.  Rainy and quiet – the kind of morning that inspires one to stay in pyjamas, sip creamy coffee slowly (yes, it is a cream-in type of morning), and curl up on the couch with a good book or crossword.

Or in my case, sit down at the computer and attempt to write a blog that I’ve been putting off writing for months now.

I don’t know why exactly I’ve been so daunted by writing about this topic, it’s a joy-filled one and something that makes me incredibly happy.  Maybe it’s that its such a huge thing and I would hardly know where to begin such a blog post.  Maybe I’m sort of feeling that my thoughts on the matter are hardly original or profound, so I’ve been waiting until I do have something unique to say, some big point to make.  In any case, that hasn’t happened, I still don’t know where to begin exactly, but nonetheless I’ve decided it’s time to write.

Those of you who know real-life Jenae or have glanced at my Facebook page – or for that matter, have read the title of this post (which I will come up with later and which will probably give the nature of this little essay away) will know that I am now six months pregnant – 26 weeks exactly today, actually.  In this past six months, I’m sure I worked through every emotion possible related to pregnancy and becoming a parent (sometimes lightning-fast too, much to Nathan’s bewilderment and chagrin).  Mostly excitement and anticipation, but alongside that there was (and still is sometimes) those feelings of unpreparedness, inadequacy, and just sheer terror.

I remember the day I took “the test”.  It was one of those “not trying, but not not trying”,  “in God’s timing it’ll happen” scenarios, and I think a big part of me didn’t really think that it would happen yet, not us for awhile yet I’d sort of thought in the back of my head.  Nonetheless, after waiting the appropriate amount of time, I peeked at the stick, and almost didn’t believe that I was seeing that faint blue plus sign in the little window!  I think I must’ve double checked the instructions three or four times before showing Nathan.

“Well, turns out I’m pregnant,” I said to him.  And then I began to cry.  No, “bawl” is probably a more accurate description of what I did.  I cried because I was so happy that I was going to be a mom, that Nathan and I were going to be parents!  I cried because this meant that it would never again be just Nathan & I, that in nine months every freedom we’d had as young, relatively independent people was going to suddenly and rudely be taken away.  I cried because I knew my life was about to change so radically, and though I knew this, I had no idea what that would really mean until it actually happened.  I cried because the idea that Nathan and I – me! – had created a new life and this was so cool and so overwhelming, and I cried because – well, isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when you find out you’re going to be a parent?

*         *          *

In those first months, I never got violently ill (thankfully!), but I was dreadfully tired all the time.  I had mono in college, and that is what I would liken my first three months of being pregnant to – mono, but for three months instead of just one, and it’s kind of supposed to be a secret so not only do all you feel like doing is sleeping and eating whatever foods don’t gross you out, but you have to hide it from everyone else!  I’d go through the school day and come home and crash, but I actually thought I’d done a pretty good job of being normal, until when I finally made the announcement, all (and I do mean each and every) of the older ladies I worked with said “we thought so!  You were always yawning and eating and so pale!!”  And I thought pregnancy was supposed to give you some sort of magical glow.  Oh well.  I guess “so pale” isn’t the least complimentary thing somebody could say (since then, I’ve had “you’re getting so huge!!!” and “look how you’re waddling already!”, which make me laugh a little because at any other time in life, in any other situation, those things would be so not appropriate to say to anybody.  But I dont mind hearing them at all).

*          *          *

This past spring, our Bible study went through Rob Bell’s somewhat controversial new book Love Wins.  It talks a lot about Heaven and hell, how we read about them in that Bible and how we usually interpret and teach these topics.  It was interesting, if not always particularly scholarly or en pointe (now Rob, is this something you just read into the text and thought sounded nice?  Or is there an actual study somewhere where I could read more about this?), and in any case made me think about and evaluate what exactly it is I believe about what happens after death.  We talked about how, in many of our growing up years, we felt like if we didn’t talk about Jesus to our friends right now, they could die and go to hell and it would be my fault.  Now I don’t believe it was the intention of any of our parents to put this huge burden and potential guilt on our little shoulders, just a “side effect”, if you will, of the way evangelism was taught to us.

As we read our way through the book, I was struck time and time again with the thought “and I have to somehow figure out how to teach this to a child?  Not only will I (and Nathan, of course) be responsible for this child’s physical health, but also (and just as importantly) the moral and spiritual health.  I mean, Heaven and hell alone are huge, controversial, complicated subjects, but they’re not even the most poignant things!  What if we do a bad job?  What if we stress the wrong things?  It would break my heart to have my child become bitter and disillusioned with Christianity because of misguided teaching, because we introduced her to a fraudulent version of Jesus.  It’s an astronomically huge responsibility, and makes me feel very, very small, but I guess we’ve got a few years yet to figure that one out yet.

*          *          *

Bonding with my baby has been a bit of a process for me.  I can’t say that “maternal” has ever been a real accurate personal descriptor.  I like kids, but it’s only after they can walk and form complete sentences that I’ve ever really felt comfortable around them.  Attempting to handle a newborn, I’ve always sort of felt like a gorilla attempting to play the violin – no real clue about how to hold it comfortably or keep it from screeching.  I was actually sort of worried about this at first.  When my belly began to swell, it did not fill me with any sort of sense of wonder or tender anticipation.  No, instead, I had thoughts like “this looks more like a beer gut than a baby belly!”, “people are going to think I’m fat!”, and “I don’t wanna get huge!!!”.  The idea, honestly, of feeling the first movements freaked me out a little; I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about something moving around in there that wasn’t just digestion or really, a part of my own body (this may be partly to blame on too many sci-fi movies).  Hearing the heartbeat for the first time was neat, but at the time I didn’t have anything really tangible to connect it to, and it was the same with a pregnancy book somebody lent me that had pictures of the development for every day.

And then one day, as I was driving with some friends, I felt it.  A little nudge, right under my belly button, that was unmistakable.  It was not gas, it was not digestion, it was definitely, beautifully, my baby.  My baby.  And it made me smile a genuine, joyful smile.  This was the little person who, when upset, even when squalling as a newborn, will want me for comfort above any other person in the world.  The little person I would get to watch learn first to make eye contact, then smile, then roll over, and crawl, and explore the world.  My baby!  As these realizations grew from that moment, as I began to feel more and more flutterings and pokes and kicks, so too began to grow a love for this little person, not just an intellectual yes of course I will love my child, but a real from the heart love for the little person inside my belly right here, right now.  It was (and is) an emerging love, a love that is being learned day by day.  And through it I am learning bit by bit what it means, and will mean, to be a mother.

*          *          *

Just over a month ago, Nathan and I went to our second trimester ultrasound.  This was very exciting for a variety of reasons: our first ultrasound was very early, so the baby then was literally a tiny blip on the screen.  This was going to be the first time we’d get an idea of what our baby actually looked like!  Not only that, but I’d been dying to find out if we were having a boy or girl since the day I took the pregnancy test, and here was finally the chance! It was an awesome experience, getting to see the little hands and feet and body, to see the heart pumping and see the baby move as I felt it happen!  Then the ultrasound tech said to me, “here is where the legs are, can you guess what you might be having?”  I hesitated, and she went on, “let me put it this way.  It might be hard to see, because there is really nothing there to see.”  Understanding what she was saying, I exclaimed “A girl!  We’re having a baby girl!”  It truly was a surprise, as my maternal instincts really had given me no intuitive feeling one way or the other as to what we were having.

We have decided to name our little girl Alice, no middle name yet.  I like being able to call her by her name, Alice, rather than just “the baby” or something generic.

*          *          *

Yesterday I went to the Labour and Delivery section of the hospital.  In the past few days, I’d been feeling less pronounced movement from Alice, and instead of sitting here worrying, I decided to go for a fetal movement monitoring test.  I don’t like being able to physically see whether or not everything is okay with Alice.  Anyway, it turned out everything was just fine, and actually the nurse said that the results were surprisingly good for how far along I am.  This made me very happy to hear.  As I was laying there, pressing a button every time I felt movement and chatting with my mother who’d come along, we suddenly heard this low, almost primal scream echo from down the hall.  It was long, it was loud, and it was unmistakably the sound of a woman in the middle of giving birth.

It was terrifying.  And I couldn’t help realizing that yup, that was going to be me in t-minus three months from now.

I can’t wait.

*          *          *

As I’ve been sitting here writing these past couple of hours, I’ve noticed that the rain has stopped, it’s slightly less gray out there and the clouds are beginning to break.  My coffee is finished (not to worry, I am allowed a certain amount of caffeine per day!), and I have no inkling to refill it.  I guess it’s time to get out of these pyjamas, and get ready for whatever happens next!

Babies!

We have some brand new little neighbours at our place!  Nathan was working outside the other day, when he stumbled upon a teeny little nest tucked inside a folded up lawn chair on our back porch, and that teeny little nest was full of teeny little baby birds!  Apparently those birds had been very stealthy about their nest building for quite some time, because none of us (including the cat) had any idea it was there!

Mama bird sat anxiously by while I snapped this photo.  Aren’t they cute??

Storm Forecast

This morning something very exciting occurred here in Nanaimo: there was a real mccoy, honest-to-goodness thunder storm forecast for today!  Oh, the titillation that snaked through the room at the thought that here, today, we just might hear a thunderclap in the distance!

It never storms here, and when I say never, I mean ne-verrrrr.  There has been one time, hiking in the middle of nowhere in Strathcona last summer, that I was certain I heard upon the wind thunder’s low grumble on the other side of a mountain.  I even saw peaky white clouds in the distance, but alas, to the occasion no storm did rise.

I miss thunder storms.

To me, the ideas of thunder and lightning and summer are all intermingled – summer-season in Southern Alberta means storm-season, and there is no storm like the gales the prairies can whip up.  If you have never spent a hot night in July sitting on your back deck, no tree or hill obscuring your vision, watching a storm – a churning-clouded, green-tinged tempest, hurling out bolts of full cloud-to-ground lightning; howling out window-shaking peals of thunder – roll in, and you finally are forced inside by whipping winds and pelting rain – if you haven’t watched a storm like this, then my friend, you haven’t seen a storm.

one type of scenery the Island's got nothing on. source:http://faculty.deanza.fhda.edu/gawrychjeff/

The thing about a storm is, with it, change is brought.  It shakes things up, keep us from getting too comfortable.  Sometimes the earth is left refreshed, rejuvenated, awakened.  Dry earth welcomes the rain and closes up cracks.  Plants perk up; sagging stems and leaves are green once more.  The air is an invigorating cool, and that smell!  On the other hand, storms can leave a path of devastation in their wake.  Winds can litter the ground with whole limbs from trees.  Hail can batter crops, wreak havoc on homes, and shatter windows.  And I remember more than one tense evening as a child, hunkering down in the basement, for fear of a tornado destroying our home.

The change is inevitable.  You can feel it in the air before the first flash of lightning appears on the horizon.

A leaf may stir after a day of stifling stillness.

The birds’ songs, so a part of a summer day we seldom pay them mind, are suddenly,conspicuously silent.

The sky darkens, the wind picks up, the heat of the day is gone, and ready or not, there you are in the middle of it: the storm; change.

I do love storms.  I love the intenseness, the power, and the way they make me feel so small and awed, but it can be disconcerting not knowing if I’m going to be left refreshed or ravaged.

source: Wallcoo.net

In a few short weeks, I’m moving home to Alberta after almost two years of living on the Island.  This is sort of the foremost of several big changes taking place in my life in the next little while.  And I am excited – to be near family, to be a part of our church there again, to reconnect with dear friends.  But a healthy does of trepidation goes along with that excitement.  What about friends we’ve made here?  I’m leaving an awesome job at a great school.  And let’s be honest, isn’t going from the bountifulness of Vancouver Island back to the…well…relative barrenness of Southeastern Alberta kind of a trade down?  What if the whole “grass is greener on the other side” thing happens?

I guess change is good.  It’s inevitable.  It shakes us up, keeps us from getting too comfortable.  And I’m more or less prepared for the upheaval.

I’m just a little disconcerted, is all, not fully knowing if, in the end, I’m going to be left refreshed or ravaged.

Of all of the things I love about the Island, the landscape here easily rises to the top of my list.  Oceans, mountains, temperate rain forests – there’s an extra high dosage of naturey eye candy here, and I love that almost any direction I look, there’s something amazing to see.

This past weekend Nathan & I ventured out to Ucluelet for a romantic weekend getaway extravaganza, graciously awarded to us by the good people who’s timeshare presentation we had to sit through last fall in the form of a two-nights-for-one dealio.  Between the kayaking and pretend surfing (I figured body boarding was the more baby-safe option, especially since I am particularly wretched at surfing), I had time to snap a few photos of the gloriousness that is our west coast.  Enjoy, and all you interior-dwellers (of which I am soon to become one of again, I know), try not to become too jealous that this isn’t what’s outside of your front door!

waves crashing at the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet

wave aftermath

our view of the inlet from our room

sunset

my own special "ocean eye candy"!