Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Parable of the Birthing Woman

Part of the philosophy of CrossFit, where I am doing a one-month boot camp with two of my friends, is to foster a healthy sense of team. My first day, I saw with a sinking heart what this was going to look like. The instructors came close as we were working through our workouts of the day, and yelled things like, "You're doing great! What number are you on?" so they could count with us through our final reps.

Oh, heck no.

When the first girl in my team approached me to yell at me a bit and ask what number I was on, I told her nicely through my gritted I'm-trying-to-do-a-pushup teeth that I preferred just to count on my own, thank you.

The next class a different team mate approached me mid-squat and yelled a bit and asked me what number I was on. A small chorus of my new allies responded that I preferred to count on my own, and that I preferred working without the cheering. Great! The news was spreading.

As we finished our workout for the day and headed off around the complex to run a lap, one of my teammates sidled up to me and asked, "Do you really not like the cheering?! You don't want us to cheer for you?" I knew this wasn't going over well. I felt like I had just announced my strong dislike of kittens, or worse, abandoned kittens. I had to come up with a way of explaining how I felt to this super strong girl who biked to class, was always one of the first to finish, and usually beat most of the guys.

Finally, it came to me. "Have you ever given birth?" I asked her. My question caught her off guard. "No..." she responded, "Have you?". "Yes" I said, "And I think giving birth is the best way I can describe why I need space when I am doing my workouts. In childbirth, as labor progresses and the work becomes physically more difficult, women tend to turn inward and focus on accomplishing the feat before them. It is a time when outside voices become distracting. I think that's how I feel when I am doing one of our workouts. I am so out of shape that I require my greatest concentration to finish, and so I do better on my own, plodding along at my own pace."

And someday, I think I will be as strong as she is, and the cheering will probably be just what it takes to help me launch through the end of the workout. But I'm not quite there yet. With workouts that include racing yourself through flipping a monster tire 5 times, doing 50 standing squats, then 50 push ups, then 50 sit ups, then 50 walking lunges, and then flipping the tire 5 more times, I am very much still in child-birth phase.

This getting buff business is just slow work.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


For the most part, I really enjoy writing, and this blog is my easel of choice. Occasionally I will have a brain freeze for about five weeks and stare at the screen trying to type words (any words will do), only to find that I can't even muster a decent caption to my photos. And especially since the day Giovanna was born, my brain has been slipping out my ear and flopping onto my desk, unused.

Which is why I love that last month in my bookclub we were assigned to read this book: Anne Lamott's "Bird by Bird". Technically, it is a guide to writing, but even for the ladies in my bookclub who don't care much for writing, it was empowering and inspirational in its own right. I highly recommend* it to anyone who wants to improve their writing, and to anybody who just wants an insightful, self-depreciatingly hilarious, inspirational read.

I am still figuring out how this book will play a role in my life, because I haven't churned out my best-selling novel yet. However, I have noticed that I spend more time engaging in the practice of narrating my thoughts and actions now than I used to, as if someday my mundane existence may be the meat for a really great book.

But you know what? By paying better attention to the things I say and do, and jumping into third person on myself, I've learned a few things: I've learned that I am funnier than I thought I was, I do things for strange and even superstitious reasons sometimes, and that between being a Christian and a Social Worker, I have been trained to censor myself from making a lot of frank and hasty judgments about people and situations. For example, when I found myself narrating in my head a silent interaction between me and someone of color, or between me and someone it would have been easy to pass judgment on, I found myself choosing my descriptive words very carefully, because I could feel the power of the words I chose, to represent me and my beliefs or not to represent me. Most of the time I do not engage in this narrative of my life, and I believe that I may be missing out on a simple tool for introspection. This exercise has allowed me to consider writers, and how they may be a small struggling population, but that they in their workaday worlds may be more knowledgeable about themselves than any of the rest of us.

* I do highly recommend this book, but I want to add a caveat that there are some swear words in this book, for those of you who would like to read it but may be very sensitive to profanity.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Twelve, jyuuni, zwölf, doze

You are probably hoping that I continue this trend of monthly updates until Gigi is 100 months old, but sadly I think that this will be the last one until I do an update at 18 months. I know, you feel sad, and probably a little confused and frustrated. The sudden absence of so much cuteness can be devastating.

There is a lot that happened this final month of her first sweet year.

First and foremost, Gigi got her own bedroom. Since Marcos works primarily from home, we have reserved our second bedroom as his office from the time we moved in, but it was finally time to switch over. Honestly, that time had come long ago, but from last October on we have been lucky enough to have a lot of family members visit, and it made sense for us to hold off on the switch so that we could offer our family some private space. Now, Gigi can sleep without being interrupted, we can move in and out of our bedroom at night without having to tip-toe, and Gigi has access to all of her toys in her own room. The first night she screamed when we put her to down to sleep, the second night she wailed, the third night she whimpered and by day four we were in business. Another confirmation that kiddos can make any transition to a new, positive arrangement within a week, no trauma involved.

"Look Ma, no hands!". (No pants or diaper either, but who's paying attention?) Another key feature of this month has been her transition to independent standing, and her first few steps! Gigi can stand for very long periods of time if she is distracted by something in her hands. The week before her birthday, she started taking one step from standing position before falling down, and on her birthday she took about three or four independent steps to move from the couch to the chair. I've always referred to her as my text-book baby, but it was funny even to me that it was on her birthday that she explored walking for the first time. She has bumped up her movement to about 6 to 8 steps in a row, but prefers crawling when she is busy and has it on her agenda to inspect everything in our home. Which is every day.

Gigi's is changing physiologically as well. She has three teeth on the bottom, and four coming in simultaneously on top. At her one year check-up she was 20 lbs. 11 oz. (a bit lighter than she has been in the past) but 29.5 inches long. She is growing longer and leaner. Her hair is as long as all get-out, and she has started pulling out her barrettes when she is bored. Sometimes I will look over and see her head tipped back, trying to navigate the world through the small crack of visibility left under the huge shelf of hair hanging over her eyes. We might have to give a go at her first haircut pretty soon.

Socially, she is plowing forward. She babbles to us, sings to herself, says "hi" as she puts objects up to her ear, she says "bye-bye" and waves to strangers all the time. She hands us things now, and she loves to flash her cheesy grin and flirt and pretend that she is shy. She has also grown uncomfortable having us out of her sight. She plays so nicely when we are around, but as soon as we leave she becomes very unhappy. She is also offended when total strangers walk away from her, as if she has some unfinished business.

Here are some photos from her first birthday. After the big birthday to-do a few weeks ago, we had a small dinner with a few friends on her actual birth day, and opened a few gifts before bed. Above she is playing with the cup and finger puppets her Aunty Katy sent. Below, she gets affectionate with the phone while her Aunty Lizzy sings to her on speaker phone.

Any more gifts down there? Yes, one more: pink crocs from Aunty Lani and Uncle John! Hooray!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Four years ago, today...

On April 12th, 2007, Marcos and I were married in the Mount Timpanogos Temple in Utah Valley. This remains pretty much the best decision of my life. We sometimes argue, we sometimes dislike the air we breathe, and we are sometimes immature, but boy have we got something great going on! I am so proud to be the wife of such a great man.

Happy Anniversary Marcos! Here's to many more years of joy.

These are the 50 things I love most about Marcos (in no particular order)...
  1. He is an attentive, loving, doting, energetic dad
  2. He reads people well, and responds generously
  3. He has the best monkey face east of the Mississippi
  4. He sees my potential and my core, and what I can become, rather than simply who I am now
  5. He is aware of the needs of people around him, and he moves to action - unstopped by fear or guilt or embarrassment
  6. He never comments on my dragon breath in the morning or makes negative comments about my looks
  7. He is spiritually grounded, and firm in his faith
  8. He makes me want to be a better woman, all the time
  9. He values his friendships, with those who live near and those who live far away
  10. He always invites me to Guys Night Out, even though I've never been in a desperate enough place to take him up on it
  11. He is often planning who to have over for dinner next
  12. He is a man with integrity - he lives honestly and openly and walks the walk
  13. He is always up for a late night hot cocoa at Starbucks or a late night grocery run
  14. He is firm with me when I am choosing to behave in a small way or when I say small things
  15. He is extremely loyal to his family members
  16. He sees people's actions in the context of their situation, upbringing and motives, instead of being overly upset by their disappointing behavior
  17. He has the most beautiful smile wrinkles in the corners of his eyes
  18. He goes very far out of his way to secure my comfort
  19. He charges the batteries for my electric toothbrush without me asking
  20. He provides well for our family and I am excited about our future because he is doing something that he loves
  21. Although I am slow to admit this, his technological genius has really enhanced our life in so many ways
  22. He lets me bi-brow his uni-brow
  23. He is really confident and capable when it comes to anything to do with Gigi, and is rocking my world as a half-time stay-at-home dad
  24. He is such a good friend to me, and confidant, and we really enjoy each other's company
  25. He has taught me to have a more fluid definition of "personal belongings"
  26. (This has snuck up on me over the years, but) he is gorgeous
  27. He is a champion of women and children - this is one of the things that first attracted me to him, and it is a deeply seated part of his character
  28. He is handy around the house
  29. He has an amazing spacial intelligence - when we play rummikub he will always win because he can shift multiple pieces in his head without losing his beginning and ending positions
  30. He has become a talented host - often when we have people over, it is he who first jumps up to light the candles, turn on the music and perfect the lighting and prepare beverages
  31. He has no need in his life for gossip and backbiting
  32. He is flexible with plans, and very easy going
  33. He is affirming and appreciative, and never withholds a generous thought
  34. He does his share of household duties - and then some
  35. His body fits perfectly with mine when we snuggle and intertwine
  36. He gives very thoughtful gifts
  37. Although it is a dying art, he is very chivalrous and it complements his character
  38. He celebrates my talents
  39. He twists my arm to make me buy nice things for myself, when I am resistant because of price
  40. He cooks a mean chicken stroganoff
  41. He is frugal with money, but knows how to spend it too - when the time is right
  42. His energy and positive regard for people make him a natural leader - people enjoy being around him
  43. He makes me laugh with his mix-ups in the English language - Metta: "Why is Gigi crying?", Marcos: "She butt-headed me"
  44. He is always up for an adventure
  45. He sometimes takes walks with me at night, and we talk about life, hand in hand
  46. He is mature, but also has a portion of kid left in him, which gives him access to adults and kids
  47. He is very cheerful and can make friends with anyone - he is on a first name basis with the girl at the deli counter and the produce man at our grocery store
  48. He is good at forgiving and strongly believes in people's ability to change
  49. He is true to me
  50. He enjoys making people happy

Sunday, April 10, 2011

One year of Giovanna

Today our little girl Giovanna turned one year old. I keep asking myself, "Metta, how do you feel about this?" and I keep coming back to "grateful". I am grateful that our entrance into the wild world of parenting has been accompanied by such a sweet little girl. I feel like we have embarked on a journey together, and we get to lead - and at times be lead by - this happy, charismatic, beautiful little soul. I'm grateful that she has been (relatively) healthy and strong, and that her development is right on target. I'm grateful that she attracts such love from the people around us. I'm grateful that she is affectionate, and flirty, and independent. And I am grateful that she was Heaven sent to our family.

Here are some photos of our babe through the year. Above, Marcos and I kiss on the day before Gigi was born.

April 2010













Happy Birthday Sweetheart!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Another perspective

A few weeks ago I posted about a park trip we made with some friends on an early spring day. It was our little friend's 2nd birthday. Well here are some photos our friend Rex took. He's the birthday girl's daddy and he is playing with a new-ish toy: his D-SLR camera with manual focus. Fun to see how a different machine captures the afternoon!

Despite her slimming down a bit when she became more mobile, Gigi has kept the softest, most squishy and smoochable cheeks.

I especially love this photo of Gigi with the bubbles. Thanks Rex and Rhonda, for sharing your treasures!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Boot Camp

My friend Becca called me yesterday to ask if I wanted to sign up for boot camp at a local fitness center. She and our friend Jamie had seen the coupon online and wanted to know if I was up for one month of torture. I was.

It starts tomorrow, and I am slightly nervous. What if I am the weakest one there? What if it's like running, and I have to coach myself through not hating it?

But Heaven knows I need it. I'm on a quest to regain my body, even though I'm still breastfeeding and Gigi is requiring her fair share. For Pete's sake, I have a wedding coming up in June, and there is a really pretty emerald dress I have to fit into as a Bridesmaid. I can zip it up (hallelujah), but I still haven't passed the stuffed sausage-esque phase.

Bring it on.