Friday, January 28, 2011

Valentine's Day Photo Session






Instead of giving away cards this year, we decided to share our sweetest Valentine with everyone this year by sending out photos :).

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Encouragement

I DVRd an interview-type show on the new Oprah channel a few days ago. Maya Angelou was the honored guest last week; I finally got a chance to watch it yesterday. I've read a few of her poems, and until yesterday I appreciated her work from a distance, but this special captured her strength and beauty as a person so well that I now respect Maya Angelou on an entirely different level.

She's more than familiar with suffering. But she doesn't present herself as a victim, and she doesn't just discuss how she's overcome the difficulties she's experienced (from being raped at age 7, to being mute until age 6 and undergoing emotional abuse because of it). Her way of communicating reflects the kind of strength that I lack. She is a wise woman, and I'm glad I got to hear her speak--even if it was behind a television screen.

Toward the end of the show, she shared a quote that I hadn't heard before, and then she went on to explain the truth behind it. This is how it's re-quoted on this site:
"If a human being dreams a great dream, dares to love somebody; if a human being dares to be Martin King, or Mahatma Gandhi, or Mother Theresa, or Malcolm X; if a human being dares to be bigger than the condition into which she or he was born—it means so can you. And so you can try to stretch, stretch, stretch yourself so you can internalize, 'Homo sum, humani nil a me alienum puto. I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me.' That's one thing I'm learning." — Dr. Maya Angelou
The part that wasn't included on the site resonated with me most. When she first shared the quote, "I am a human being, nothing human can be alien to me," she brought up some of the worst of us. Those who have committed the most heinous crimes, including "the bigot and the batterer". We refer to those crimes as "inhuman". The irony is, the crimes were committed by a human. She explained that we all have the potential to commit those wrongs, because we are all human. Considering we're all sinners, that's not a difficult concept to grasp mentally. Still, when I heard the quote I felt guilty because I knew that in my heart I often fail. The playing field is level, though. It's discouraging to hear, and to believe that the person on death row is our spiritual twin brother...

But then she brought up another truth. Mother Theresa is also our sister. Inspired by the love of God in her heart, she shared so much of herself with those in need and impacted all of us, directly and indirectly.

The beauty in the quote is what else it reveals: we have a choice! We are capable of so much evil, and so much good. Having God in our lives liberates us--that's what the apostles in the Bible say; on the show, Maya Angelou also said many times that "love liberates". I can't ignore this key verse, either "Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love" (1 John 4:8). The two are one in the same. So it makes sense that if we are lacking Love we are limited in our choices, and how we behave.

I guess I can say that I grasp a bit more how understanding God's love truly liberates us; we're able to rise above ourselves, or the innate evil in us (as discouraging as that word is), and love like he loved us. After all, isn't that essentially what the true peacemakers, from Mother Theresa to Ghandi, were able to do?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

When the going gets tough?

Proof that spring does arrive in this town!

When the going gets tough, what do you do? How do you cope?

We're in the middle of another test, or rough time. Mirabel is sick AGAIN, probably because I had to keep taking her to the doctor the last few weeks for a cough from her last cold that wouldn't go away. Both Jose and I have asthma, and it seemed like an asthmatic cough to me. She would wake up every night coughing and coughing for a month straight. On the last visit, the doctor gave her a nebulizer, but it scares her. She hates the noise and freaks out when she just sees the mask.

She's sick again and the cough is even worse. Multiple times a day we have to take her into the bathroom, turn on the shower, and hope the steam helps some.

Right before she got sick, she wasn't sleeping well. As in, waking up about 10 times a night. When she's officially sick, she really doesn't sleep at all. My immune system doesn't operate very well when sleep-deprived, so now I'm getting sick for the 5th time in less than a year.

To top it off, the weather is horrendous. We've been told Boston has never been this bad. We live in one of the oldest parts of the city, and it seems they aren't prepared to deal with these conditions (they meaning the electric company). We had another power outage during the last storm. We're expected to get hit with yet another snow storm this week, so we are preparing for another power outage.

We also haven't gone outside in days. We tend to lock ourselves indoors when the weather is this bad. It hit the negative temps yesterday, so the weather really isn't suitable for taking a brisk walk.

I hate that I'm complaining about it, but I don't like keeping stuff bottled up either. I feel exhausted, emotionally and physically. We haven't seen family in months, and we only have each other to get by (as in, Jose has me and I have him). Poor Mirabel is also becoming more sad. She's been whining non-stop these past couple of feverish days, I couldn't even put her down to use the restroom yesterday morning.

When the going gets tough, I pray. Sometimes it's just a really simple "God, help me, " but sometimes that's enough for a boost. Right now I'm sitting under a blanket on the living room foor, waiting for the doctor to return my call while I'm surrounded by dirty plates left over from a hearty breakfast. It's times like these when even dirty dishes become something to be thankful for. Thank God I have nutritious food to eat for breakfast. Thank God for this warm blanket, for the sweater I'm wearing, that the baby is sleeping peacefully, that I have a doctor who personally takes the time to call me back. Thank God that winter is only a few months long. Thank God that he set up the seasons so that spring follows winter. Boston winters might be brutal, but the spring is more beautiful here than anywhere else.

If I force myself (yes, sometimes it requires FORCING) to focus on, or document a list of, the positive, it inevitably leads to an attitude change.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

When somebody loves you, it's no good unless they love you all the way...

A few nights ago, we shared a tasty dinner with friends. We talked about a few different topics, like marriage, and how some folks rush into it without considering the amount of dedication required to make it work. Though I know marriage isn't for everyone, I can honestly say that I'm learning more about myself as an individual now that I'm married than before, when I was single. I think I am one of those people who was meant to get married. That definitely doesn't mean that marriage life comes naturally; like in many other areas of life, I usually am my own worst enemy.

I am very insecure. We all have our personal insecurities, and though I certainly have my bad hair days, or days when I wish my teeth were straighter or my face was blemish free, I am more insecure about feeling accepted as a person. I think, sometimes, that it's more difficult to get along with someone who is insecure about their personality, or inner self, than their outer appearance. Though I'm not a plastic surgery advocate in the least bit, sometimes I feel like I could really use an attitude lift. And by lift, I mean it. A lift in how I view myself--an ability to see myself the way God sees me, so that constructive criticism can be just that, constructive.

The irony of it all is that I am very critical of myself, and I highly doubt (when I'm in my right mind) that anyone else is as critical of me. Kind of like when we look in the mirror, see a tiny zit, and suddenly feel like it's taking over, pushing our eyes and nose aside, growing larger by the second like the mutant that it is[n't]. We are completely convinced that everyone can see it. Of course, we only feel that way because paranoia has driven us to look in every mirror (or reflection on any window!) so many times that we've memorized exactly where the spot rests on our face.

Believe me, I have been there and done it! The details say it all. It's a fact, we are all flawed, physically and emotionally. I wouldn't even say that I magnify my character flaws that much, but rather, I magnify the extent to which those flaws are a part of who I am. So as a result, who I am is someone who isn't worth loving--because the flaws are so terrible. And of course, when I receive any kind of criticism, it strikes the most insecure aspect of my character. I decided, "That's it, this person doesn't love me because I'm unlovable. Obviously, if they have to criticize me it's because I'm not good enough." The criticism, though constructive, becomes the sad excuse I use to distance myself. It was once a survival mechanism, but now it's a stumbling block. I become distant and angry, and just no fun.

Feeling good enough is something I've struggled with since I was a kid. I'm embarrassed to admit it, but that character flaw expresses itself in very childish ways sometimes (or I should say, I express myself in very childish ways). Why can't I get it through my head that I'm 26 and not 2! Yes, I know I'm small(as far as my stature goes!) but I can be bigger than that.

When someone who I don't know very well offers a bit of constructive criticism, it isn't such a big deal. I get irked, but I blow it off because I feel like I haven't lost anything. But when, say, my spouse suggests that I may need a reality check because I'm being ridiculous--then I feel it like a paper cut that's been soaked in lime juice and dipped in salt water.

I'm going to be honest. I value sincere relationships. I really don't like being fake or making it seem like I have a perfect life, or a perfect anything. But on that same note, there are only a few people I am very close to. Mostly, because of this insecurity I have. Jose and I were very open and sincere with each other when we were dating, and we still are. I love how that kind of sincerity led to our marriage. But with sincerity comes the honest truth, and the tearing off of the bandaids. Open wounds and honest truth--now that's like chili on a gaping wound, not a paper cut.

I'll say it again. I was meant to get married. I enjoy the emotional intimacy, and I know that I wouldn't have this kind of opportunity to grow in any other relationship, with anyone else. It's often said that some folks get married with the false belief they'll find completion in their spouse. I didn't give into that way of thinking; I felt complete before getting married. However, what I didn't quite grasp before marriage was that I'd only come to know myself completely with the help of this certain help mate, the one I was meant to marry.

This certain someone (Jose :) would do that by simply (or not so simply) living out his vows, and going the extra mile. Just because we love our spouse "for better or for worse" doesn't mean that we have to stop there. When they are at their worst, the sincerity of our godly love and unconditional companionship should encourage them to go from worse, to better, to best.

I know I'm with the one because I'm learning what it means to be at my best, with him and because of him.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Colors

Though white, clean spaces are relaxing to the senses, I'm starting to question whether a white/cream theme in my [dream!] home would really be all that "homey" for us. There's something cozy about color.

Maybe it's the relief it brings. Like, who cares if you have a kiddo running through the house with muddy shoes on. Sure you can clean it up afterward, but at least you don't have to worry about missing a spot. Then there's color therapy, right? Certain colors make us feel a certain way.

And flowers. They don't have to match the colors in the rest of the room. Their presence alone brings hope...on rainy days of all kinds. Toys all over the floor? Who cares. There are flowers on the kitchen table, it's gonna be ok. LOVE flowers. I also love how they're used in these rooms. My [dream] home will have flowers in every room :); wild flowers during the summer months, and bouquets during the winter months.

I really like these rooms for different reasons. Found them on Skona Hem (and check out that beautiful cabin when you click the link!).




Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Worst Blizzard

That's a picture of the street we parked our car on. As you can see, some of the trees fell over thanks to yesterday's blizzard. But that was the least of our worries, as we were notified that a transformer went down at 1PM.

The electricity wasn't restored until around 4AM!

We didn't have ANY HEAT. It was one of the worst experiences we've had so far here in MA. We went grocery shopping the night before to stock up on food before the storm, so we had to put our perishables out on our porch so they wouldn't go bad.

We survived on 4 candles and 3 layers of clothing; I haven't showered (yuck), and feel pretty gross. Jose ate fruits and nuts for dinner, and a can of sardines (eww! :P). I was able to order food (thankfully!). Gonna go shower... I could really use some sunshine right about now; maybe I should invest in one of those happy lights?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

...Sometimes I forget

I accidentally missed the OB appointment that I mentioned awhile back. Yep, just outright forgot. Which is really funny, considering a little over a year ago I wouldn't have dared to miss such an appointment. It was scheduled during the time we were all sick; we were so caught up in just trying to feel better that it simply slipped my mind. I finally got around to rescheduling yesterday; it's set for Monday the 31st.

I guess I'm not as excited about going this time because I have an idea of what they're going to tell me: that I need to wait before I can take any meds, since my body is in somewhat of a dormant state, and I'm still EBFing Mirabel (even at night, that girl loves her midnight snack--or snacks :P!).

I've been doing some research. It seems that what might've happened with Clomid the last time is that I O'd late. So I'm wondering if maybe I can take a few trigger shots (HCG shots), so that I don't have to sit around twiddling my thumbs. I really don't want to take a higher dose of Clomid, considering how bad the migraines were the last time I took it (before Mirabel). Oh, the speculations. I really don't like this part. Which is why I'm setting some rules for myself this time. I'm not going to do more than 3 rounds, and I won't do anything invasive; no IVF, no ovarian drilling (what I'd considered before). It's just not necessary.

In the end, I just want more children. How God brings them to us is up to him. Who am I to request a date or method of delivery? Saying this brings me a sense of relief. Knowing we will adopt also gives me a lot of hope. Why? Because I know that if the infertility treatment doesn't work, there will still be someone who needs a mom and I'd be happy to fill that need. Of course, that it is a lot easier to say now that we have Mirabel. But that doesn't mean we're done and that God is done answering our prayers for children.

Also, if I'm going to invest a ton of emotional energy into researching the many ways we can add to our family, I'd rather investigate the option that leads to better (more certain) outcomes. So if we don't have a due date within these next 2 years, we will just adopt earlier than we initially thought. Like I said, that doesn't really mean I'm putting a timeframe on all of this. If God decides to bring another little one into our lives at some unexpected time, in some miraculous way, we certainly wouldn't protest :). Honestly, the more the merrier...up to about 5 (my last name isn't Duggar, after all ;).

Monday, January 10, 2011

Seven point five



Saturday, January 8, 2011

Playing house

We're snowed in (kind of) again...during these cold dreary days when we can't go outside, and it's a lazy Saturday, we spend time planning or cleaning. We were hoping to clean out our storage unit this weekend, but our car doesn't drive too well on snowy roads. So we did some planning today instead, mostly dreaming, really :).

We are going to rent for awhile when we move back to Austin so that we can save up for a down payment, but we still like to look at homes that are available and think about what we'd like. I really like the homes below, especially the first one. Some things are a bit dated, but I really love the light, the built in shelves, the open spaces, covered patio area (perfect for those summer afternoons when there are mosquitos out). All in all, it's a cute house, I have to admit I kind of like the pink walls too ;). But I also really like the color and outside style/look of the second blue house (second set of snap shots).




This is the second blue house:

I like the kitchen of this third house:


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Now that I have a little girl...

I've been a fan of the Sanrio crew since I was a kiddo. Growing up in Southern California (I spent the first 9 years of my life there), I was surrounded by Hello Kitty and her pals (I'm very thankful to my young group of friends for introducing me to them).

Between the ages of 5 and 7, I lived two blocks away from a shopping center that included a Japanese bakery called Mikawaya, a grocery store formerly called Meiji Market, and a Sanrio Surprise (oh yes, and I was also about a mile away from the King's Hawaiian Bread headquarters!). My grandma and I used to go there all the time for fresh fish; my mom and I used to bike ride there on sunny Saturday afternoons. We'd be sure to stop by the Sanrio store so I could pick up a grab bag, or some over priced (but seriously cute) My Melody or Little Twin Stars mechanical pencils, for my matching plastic and probably pink pencil case (with an equally cute Sanrio character featured on the lid).

So many positive associations with these fun characters which is why I can't seem to let them go, even though I'm pushing 27.


But I don't have an excuse for Calico Critters.

And I didn't discover these Sugar Bunnies until high school/college (part of the Sanrio crew, possibly San-X). Doesn't this video have an Amelie twist to it? :)

Now that I have a little girl, I can use her as my reason for purchasing over-the-top girlie/kiddish items like these that I (yep, that would be me) just can't seem to outgrow ;).

Are there any cartoons or collectible items from your childhood that you don't want to outgrow either?
 

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