Things Like This Should Be Outlawed

Did anyone else see the story on CNN about the new torture device being used at Guantanamo Bay? It looks something like this.

I hear it can break a prisoner in less than one minute. It's that painful. Even if they were sleeping peacefully before they were strapped in.

Rumor says, it's even worse than the stuff they pass off as "food." (This is a old photo; I'm not sure they're doing this to the new prisoners at this point.)

Cruel, cruel world. But what do you expect from people who think this is funny?

Parents. Sadists.

I smell a Congressional hearing.

These are the last deep thoughts I'll have this week, I promise

I have to admit -- yesterday's post made me nervous. Really nervous. Butterflies-in-the-stomach nervous. All night long, I wrestled with the urge to run to my computer and delete the post. Of course, since I would have had to get out of my warm and cozy bed to do that, I managed to hold myself in check.

But still -- I was still nervous. (And lazy. What a combination.) I wondered how my reminiscing would be received, if it would be too melancholy for readers who might stop by looking for their daily dose of funny.

And then I started getting your comments. Thank you. They made the vulnerability worth it.

One of my favorite bloggers wrote about miscarriage recently, saying it's a right of passage no one tells you about, an almost universal step on the road of motherhood.

So true. Many of us have walked this path.

Still, I want to make clear -- this is my story. I wanted to share it because Monday was a tender day between me and my Jesus. But I would die a thousand deaths inside if it in any way caused you to doubt your own journey through loss.

For example, when I said I wasn't mad at God, I want you to know it's perfectly fine if you were -- or are. That's just where I was at that point. The four years previous to the miscarriage were the hardest, most devastating years of my life. I had already raged at God, pounded my fist on His chest and demanded to know why He allowed horrible pain in my life. Frankly, I was too tired to do it again -- especially after He so gently led me along the path to healing the time before.

I also know my loss at 12 weeks doesn't compare to the agony some of my friends have lived through. Losing a baby in the first trimester isn't like losing a baby at 20 weeks. Or 35 weeks. Or after birth. For me, it was the loss of a possibility, the end of a precious dream. As I wrote in my journal last year, I hadn't gotten the chance to know that little one yet. That changed the way I grieved. A few weeks after the miscarriage, I was ready to move on. God lifted my head and filled me with hope.

But for some people, a miscarriage is profoundly life-altering, and it takes months or even years to grieve that loss. If this is you, please know -- that's OK too. God makes all kinds of different people, and He can use each story. If you are still in the valley of the shadow? I can only point you toward Jesus. He knows your name. He sees your tears. And I believe He knows what He's doing -- even when we can't see it, even when we don't like it.

Yesterday, as I studied Teyla's sweet face -- which is covered with baby acne, poor pitiful little girl -- I marveled at God's mystery. His ways are higher than mine -- and wonderfully so. I don't know how He manages to redeem the heartbreak. I don't understand how He grows something beautiful out of our tears when we sow them in Him.

I just know He does. Always.

A Year Ago Today

A year ago today, I woke up to a bad dream. The spotting and cramping that had begun the night before -- "Surely, this is just residual spotting from my 11-week OB check on Friday," I reassured myself -- had not gone away. In fact, the cramps were getting worse.

I called my OB -- she was on call that weekend -- and she suggested we head to the ER, if we could make it out of the house. It was a big if. A wicked blizzard had blown through the previous 24 hours, with a one-two punch of freezing rain followed by wet snow. Our garage doors were literally encased in ice and frozen to the ground. It took my husband a couple of hours to chip the door loose, but once we were free, we loaded up the kids and thanked God for a four-wheel-drive vehicle that was able to navigate the treacherous roads.

By the time we got to the ER, I had a sinking feeling in my heart. And by the time we got into our own room, I knew. I wasn't just cramping anymore. I was miscarrying. I was in mini-labor, with regular and amazingly painful contractions.

(My sweet nurse offered to get me something for the pain. "That's probably a good idea," I reluctantly agreed. She returned with a needle that was at least ten inches long. "Ummm, it's not that bad!" I backpedaled. I'm a notorious needle wimp. But five more minutes of consistent cramping, and I was ready for the shot.)

They drew blood to check my HGC levels. They weren't where they should be. And within an hour, it was all over. In the ultrasound room, my body shed the tiny baby -- still in its amniotic sac -- and sent his or her soul to live with Jesus.

My OB was unspeakably kind. The ER staff was extraordinary. (They even took charge of our two older kids -- who didn't know I was pregnant in the first place -- and entertained them in an ambulance when it became apparent that it was going to get messy in our little ER space. To this day, Natalie has the stuffed kitten the EMTs gave her from their stash of toys. She thought our trip to the ER was awesome.) Corey, the perfect mix of strength and tenderness, didn't leave my side for days.

And me? Well, I was in shock. How does your heart comprehend that your hopes and dreams for the future have irrevocably changed? How does your mind grasp the sudden emptiness, the unfulfilled promise of a baby lost?

I wasn't mad at God, really. We had grown so close the past few years. I trusted Him.

But I was sad. Unspeakably sad. My heart was so heavy.

The next morning, I woke up and hoped it was all a nightmare. Instead, it was my new reality. As I wrote in a post a few days later, "Some of the sparkle has left my world."

I got into the shower and wept, leaning my head on the slick plastic wall, letting my tears mingle with the water's flow. I poured out my broken soul to the One Who Knows.
Oh great God
Be small enough to hear me now
There were times when I was crying
From the dark of Daniel's den
And I have asked you once or twice
If you would part the sea again
But tonight I do not need a fiery pillar in the sky
Just wanna know you're gonna hold me
If I start to cry
Oh Great God
Be small enough to hear me now
Of course, if you're a regular reader here at all, you know know the end to the story -- and it's full of God's grace and mystery. Just two months later -- before my body had even gotten back to normal -- Teyla Jenet was conceived. She is a tangible reminder to me today of God's goodness and His providence.

But a year ago today? I didn't know how this twist in my life's journey would play out. I only knew that I had a Father-God who cradled me while I cried, who spoke hope to my bruised heart. When I needed Him to hear the cry of this bleeding and broken girl, He was small enough.

What would I do without You, Lord? You are my tender rock and redeemer. My hope is forevermore in You.
I know you could leave writing on the wall that's just for me
Or send wisdom while I'm sleeping like in Solomon's sweet dreams
But I don't need the strength of Samson or a chariot, in the end
Just want to know that you still know how many hairs on my head
Oh Great God
Be small enough to hear me now
("Small Enough," by Nichole Nordeman)

He Gives and Takes Away

Like Job, I can only say, "The LORD gave [chikin] and the LORD has taken away [chikin]; may the name of the LORD be praised."

For lo, I have eaten of the Chick-fil-A, and I have left it behind. And verily, I did not taste of the Chick-n-Minis for the cursed hours of the breakfast menu I did miss by score and ten minutes.


But I'm over it now. Because I know I'll get another chance. According to CFA's website, they have locations in Kansas City, and I'll be traveling there in April for a cousin's wedding. God's mercies really are new every morning, aren't they? And you can bet I'll be up earlier next time to appreciate those mercies.

Plus, I'm back in Minnesota today. The sun is shining, the snow is glistening, ice crystals are forming in my bronchi passages. I'm positively giddy! Our high today is 14 (after a low of -6 last night), and we're eagerly expecting 20 to appear on our thermometers
tomorrow . Break out the lawn chairs and sunscreen!

And yes, that would be sarcasm pooling on your screen. Better wipe it up before it freezes.

My feelings may be summed up best by this poem my husband sent me last week. (Author unknown; I would guess hypothermia did them in.)
It's winter in Minnesota
And the gentle breezes blow
At fifty miles an hour
And thirty-five below.

Oh, how I love Minnesota
When the snow's up to your butt
You take a breath of winter
And you nose gets frozen shut.

Yes, the weather here is wonderful
So I guess I'll hang around
I could never leave Minnesota
'Cause I'm frozen to the ground!
I think I'm going to start a petition: "Minnesotans for Global Warming."

Or maybe "Minnesotans for Chick-fil-A."

Because if we're going to freeze, we should at least die happy.

Guess Where I Went Today For The First Time

Holy cow chikin.

I can't believe I've lived 36 years of my life as a Chick-Fil-A virgin.

And yes, that is one of the worst pictures of me ever taken. But I'm posting it anyway, because I'm still high from the crack that is the Original Chicken Sandwich accompanied by waffle fries and sweet tea. If I wasn't holding the baby, I would have been double-fisting.

I have no pride now. Only grief. Because in 18 hours, I return to a world devoid of Chick-Fil-A.

So here's what I need to know: How many visits do you think I can fit in between then and now without appearing unseemly? And do you think I can eat breakfast there twice if I: a. visit two separate restaurants on the way to the airport and b. claim to be part Hobbit?

I Give Up

I've been working on a post -- a real post that involves thought and editing and reflection and humor -- for five days now.

Five. Days.

What I've learned is this -- I'm not going to have the time to write those types of posts for the next six months to 16 years, give or take. Not without staying up really late, anyway, and that annoys my husband, who would apparently like to see me every once in a while. Go figure.

So here begins a new beginning. And it's so fitting -- whoa, am I rhyming genius today or what? -- because it was one year ago yesterday that I ventured into this here blogging world. (Original post here.)

I am now going to enter the world of the short post. The "I just thought of this" post. The "what a great picture I have to share this" post. The "I'm typing this off the top of my head" post. The "I could really use a professional editor right now because I'm way off topic" post.

See? I'm doing it right now. Can you feel the love?

So here's a quick update on my world:

Teyla -- she's growing up much too fast. Much. Too. Fast.

I've got pictures to prove it, too. (More on Teyla to come; I have a feeling this new, breezy style of blogging will lend itself to baby updates.)

My family -- we're in South Carolina right now, visiting my in-laws who flee here every winter. I can see why.

Me (and here's the pressing issue for today) -- I'm almost six weeks postpartum. I saw my doctor last week before we left Minnesota, and lo, she pronounced me good. My weight is at the same poundage as it was when I was 24 weeks pregnant. (When I looked like pretty much like this.)

So why is it that I wouldn't be able to get into that outfit today even if I was assisted by bacon grease and a shoehorn?!? It's like my body has declared a civil war on itself, and the weight has taken sides -- to the north and to the south -- and it's left a no-man's land of flappy skin in the middle.

And seriously -- has anyone seen Jennifer Lopez lately? Because I'm pretty sure I have something of hers.

Baby got back.

Connor is four-point-five years old already, which means I'm way out of the statue of limitations for having to remember what happened after the last pregnancy. So I turn to you, my loyal and wise blogging friends, to fill me in.

Is this normal? Does one's postpartum body always redistribute fat cells like a crazy host on HGTV's "Freestyle"? And if so, does one give in and buy a new "first year post baby" wardrobe to get through the transition? Because I miss wearing shirts that don't make me look like a Hollywood starlet and pants that have a real waistband with snaps and zippers and everything..

Now see? Aren't you glad that I'm going to be posting more riveting stuff like this? And more often, too? Hang on to your pants, ladies and gentlemen. Especially if you're wearing jeans with elastic waists. It's about to get funky.


Confession time: I'm a neurotic mess with OCD-tendencies when it comes to cleanliness. I'm a bit of a neatnik. I like my house picked up and put together. I don't do well with crumbs littering my kitchen floor or dust gathering on my coffee table. I like beds made, pajamas folded and backpacks hung orderly by the door. It's virtually impossible for me to go to bed with toys thrown about my living room, and I can't leave the house in the morning without the beds made. Can. Not.

In my pre-mommy days, this wasn't a problem. My husband is the farthest thing from a slob. (Our neatnik ways might be the only thing we have naturally in common.) Our dogs were outside dogs. (Of the cat we shall not speak. She was the interloper in my perfect world.) (And honestly, she would probably have said the same about me.) When I cleaned the house, it stayed clean -- often for weeks. Since Corey and I both kept crazy hours with our jobs, we just weren't home that much to dirty the place.

Then I had children. And lo, the earth shifted and my world came tumbling apart.

Thankfully, it was a slow tumbling. The first few years, the kids were too little to do much damage. I was able to keep to my religion of cleaning the entire house in a day. I would change the linens, dust every room, do the laundry, clean the kitchen, vacuum, Swiffer, mop, take out the garbage and water the plants in one eight-hour period. For a neatnik, it was a flurry of wonderfulness. At the end of the day, I could sigh with deep satisfaction and survey my sparkling kingdom and pronounce it good. (The sanguine side of me like the routine too, because once the house was clean, I had the other six days of the week to play.)

But now? The kids are older. And darn it, they like to play! And create! And "help" Mommy with her work! And build Thomas the Train villages in my living room and set up the full compliment of Little People in the kitchen.

This means my cleaning might not get finished in one eight-hour period anymore. Or, even worse, that my hard work during that eight-hour period will be undone by the evening of said day by the children I birthed from my very loins.

I was thinking about this last night, as I finished a whirlwind of cleaning. I had just finished picking up toys and hauling them back down to the basement playroom -- when I turned around to see my two older kids carrying (different) toys back up from the playroom so they could scatter them willy-nilly around the living room (which had been turned into a tent city thanks to strategically placed blanket and couch cushions).

My inward neatnik sounded like Charlie Brown who's just been denied the kicking of the football. "ARRRRGGGHHHH!"

But since the baby needed feeding, I was helpless to do anything about the chaos right then. And in hindsight, it was a good thing.

As I sat and nursed sweet little Teyla (sweet, sweet Teyla, who doesn't mess up my house when I've just cleaned it), I listened to Connor and Natalie play together in the living room. There was much laughter and joint decision making and -- yes, just a little bossing. They were having fun together and being creative and doing that "kid" thing that we all want our kids to do.

And I realized -- if I want them to play and imagine and grow, I have to let them make a mess. Messes are more than necessary. They are essential. I wish they could stretch their minds and laugh and create while they are living in little bubbles, unable to touch my pristine house. Then I could have the best of both worlds. I could have it all. But that's not reality. Despite what Martha Stewart and HGTV want me to believe, it's just not possible.

And that got me thinking about how God has made Himself known in my life. When I was younger, I had these perfect, polished plans for my future career. I had rosy, cotton-candy ideas for my marriage. I had it all figured out. I was going to be a passionate, sold-out, adventurous Christian -- who just happened to have a high-powered journalism career, a rock-solid marriage that others would aspire to and a beach house that would be both funky and comfortable.

And then God stepped in. And He messed everything up. Boy did He mess everything up.

Initially, I hated the chaos. I wasn't real fond of the searing pain involved in much of it either. I didn't understand why God couldn't just keep up His end of the bargain. "Remember God? The plan? It was supposed to be neat and clean and perfect. And this? Definitely not neat and clean and perfect. Not a blessing, Lord. Not a blessing."

But eventually, through many tears and many honest days spent on my face before God, I started to see that the messes were necessary. They were necessary for my growth. For my faith. For my soul. They were, in fact, huge blessings, if blessings in disguise.

If there's one thing I've learned, it's this: God knows how to make a good mess, and He knows how to make a mess good.

Which is why I ultimately decided to leave the disaster-that-was-my-living-room last night. Because sometimes the mess is a beautiful thing.

The sanguine side of my temperament would like me to note, for the record, that she rarely has a problem with messes. Nor does she hold such a tight rein on her soul. She welcomes spontaneity, fun, adventure and -- yes -- even chaos. Which is why I'm a slightly conflicted person. Thank you for your time.

A Few of my Favorite Things

Have I mentioned yet that I'm spending a lot of time online right now? Because I am.

In fact, I think my Bloglines account is starting to get weary of me dropping by. "For crying out loud, lady. Give it a rest! You just checked me five minutes ago! No one is updating their blog at 3:34 in the morning."

And for those of you noticing via your analytics engine that somebody is camping out on your blog for 20 hours a day, sorry. That would be me, leaving your blog open so I can comment at some point when I'm not nursing a baby. (I tried typing comments with one finger for a while, but it got too frustrating. And I'm too old to start text messaging. U R w/ me, rght?)

On the up side, I'm stumbling across many great new blogs. And I'm also enjoying a bunch of funny sites that I don't normally take the time to read.

So, because I'm a sharing kind of person, here are a few of the gems I found the over the past week.

My favorite line o' humor (via The Bleat):
Anyway. It took a few minutes to get into the parking lot, because I was behind a Caddy whose owner moved so slowly I suspected she had put the car in neutral and was waiting for the rotation of the earth to deliver her to her parking space.
My favorite lame criminal story, complete with biting commentary (via Buzz Minnesota):
"Obstruction. A 29-year-old man was arrested at Perkins. The man had left the restaurant the day before without paying his bill. When he returned the following day, staff called 911. The man denied not paying for his food, and deputies said he refused to follow their orders, so he was zapped with a Taser and arrested for obstruction.”

Two things to keep in mind as you wind your way through life: follow the officer’s instructions even if you believe in the depths of your heart that you paid for that short stack, and don’t run out on your restaurant bill. When I was a waiter we had a student clientèle, but few runners; they were poor and honest folk. You got lazy. Took your eye off the door. One night a fellow came in, slid around the back of the pie case, took a cream pie, and ran. Right away you know you’re not dealing with someone trying to feed a family. “Les Miserables” would be less effect if Jean Valjean had passed up the vegetables and stolen a bear claw. It was a cream pie, so perhaps he was the father of starving clowns, but I still didn't care.

I ran out the door, followed by two patrons who observed the theft and wanted a little vigilante justice to liven up a long cold night. We caught the fellow right away – he dropped the pie and blubbered apologies. It was for a fraternity scavenger hunt, dude, that’s all. Can’t you let me go?

We did. After he paid for the pie. He paid a lot for the pie, too. Enough to cover the price and a slice for the guys who helped run him down. A la mode, too.
Best advice for the GOP post-Super Tuesday (via Evangelical Outpost):
Pundit-based reality: McCain will destroy the GOP.

Voter-based reality: McCain is the leading choice for a majority of the GOP.

Listen, McCain is not my first choice. But he appears to be the inevitable choice of our party. If he's nominated I'll vote for him for the simple fact that his is far better than Obama or Clinton. If you disagree, then quietly vote for the third party candidate of your choice. But for heaven's sakes, stop whining, stop hyperventilating, and stop all the hyperbolic, Tony-award worthy dramatics. It's unbecoming.
My favorite public prank -- "Frozen Grand Central" (via the really interesting group Improv Everwhere):

By the way, I totally want to be friends with the people who started this concept. It's brilliant.

My favorite find of the week (the kind of thing that made me say, once again, I [heart] the Internet):
"Death of a Pig" by E.B. White
A wry and witty re-telling of the untimely demise of Mr. White's pig. It's a long essay, but I promise it's worth your time. (Hat tip to Karma Wilson, who is herself a wonderful writer of children's books.)

Oh, and in case you're already wondering -- Mr. White insisted this episode did not birth his eventual classic "Charlotte's Web."

And finally, my favorite "this will make you think" blog post of the week (and this faced some pretty stiff competition, believe you me):
What if ... none were enough?
Julie is always an eloquent writer, and this post is just another example of how she can turn a phrase and cut right to the heart.

Isn't the Internet grand?

See you out there. I'll be lurking.

Cute Teyla Talking

Hi everyone. My name is Teyla, and I'm the newest member of the Love Well family.

Since I'm officially four weeks old today, my Mom is letting me take over her blog for a few minutes so we can have a quick conversation, seeing as that's my favorite thing to do right now with the people who love me.

For example,
here's my Dad and me talking. We hold in-depth discussions every night.

He tells me what's on his mind and gives me the latest info on the Presidential elections.

Of course, I have no idea what he's saying.

But that's OK. Because he's handsome, in a Dad sort of way. So just looking at him is fine with me.

If I'm looking for something a little lighter, I turn to my big sister Natalie. She's great at dishing some girl talk.

I really like her, and she talks to me in such a sweet voice. But she holds me so close, it makes my eyes do funny things.

I also feel an uncontrollable urge to talk with my hands when I'm around Natalie. My Dad says all the females in my family do that.

Here's me partaking in some grandparent conversation, when my Grammie and Papa were here a few weeks ago.

They were fascinated by everything I said, even if I was filling my diaper during our discussion.

My Papa is a pastor, so I thought I should show him how I can give God some praise.

They told me lots of stories about my Mommy. Frankly, those gave me pause. Things that make you go "hmmmm."

Wow. All that talk is tiring. (Yawn!)

Good thing I have this lady to fall asleep on. We talk sometimes too, but really, she makes a better pillow than a conversationalist. She's not a bad cook either.

See you after my nap! Maybe....

Because It's Super Tuesday

So my husband is an executive at a company that raises money for nonprofits -- including political parties and candidates. (And that's all I'm saying about that for the time being. There shall be no name dropping at this point in the campaign.)

Obviously, with this being a Presidential election year in the U.S., things are pretty busy at work right now. Yet, strangely, his staff isn't hearing a lot of enthusiasm from voters -- even the voters who care enough to give money to support the candidate of their choice.

"It's a tough year," he remarked last week. "The whole population is suffering from electile dysfunction. There just doesn't seem to be a lot of arousal on the part of the voters."

(Bum, dum, bum.)

Thank you! He'll be here all week.

Ladies and Gentlemen, We Have A Belly Button

Teyla's umbilical cord fell off Friday. It only took three weeks and two days for her to reveal her belly button, which means she wins the Umbilical Cord Contest hands down.

I don't know why, but it took forever for our other kids umbilical cords to go. In fact, Natalie's hung around so long -- by clinging to a thread of gooey cord that wouldn't dry up no matter how much alcohol I poured onto her tummy -- that I ended up cutting it off with a pair of toenail clippers. Because it was beginning to smell.

Decaying umbilical cord. That's a scent no one imagines.

Anyway. Here's Teyla's newly revealed belly button.

And for those of you thinking, "Oh my word. She's posting pictures of her baby's belly button for crying out loud! Get a grip, woman!" I hear you. I just don't care.

It's my blog, and I'll blog what I want to.

Be thankful I can't post scents.

(Coming later this week: Pictures of Teyla where she's not crying. I promise.)

Updated to add: I forgot to mention how thrilled Connor and Natalie were by this development. They loathed the umbilical cord with a loathing normally reserved for scorpions and Swamp Things.

"Ewww! Get rid of it, Mom!" they pleaded when they helped me change Teyla's diaper for the first time. "It's disgusting!"

I was actually afraid to leave her with them for too long, lest one of them try to pull it off by hand. So Teyla's belly button? It's a good thing for my kids. It means the terrifying reign of the umbilical cord is over.

Until next time.


The Tooth Fairy Needs A Secretary

Yes, I know the term "secretary" is hopelessly antiquated. But the Tooth Fairy is a mythological creature. Ergo, she is allowed to call her help whatever she wishes.

Natalie lost another tooth yesterday. That's the fourth one she's lost in the last eight weeks. She's fast on her way to gumming all her food, like an elderly person eating dinner at Old Country Buffet at 4:30 PM.

(We tease her that she's going to be forced to eat nothing but mashed bananas the rest of the winter, but that's only because she loathes all things banana. The love is strong in this household.)

Want to see her hillbilly smile? It's adorable.

Unfortunately, the Tooth Fairy -- doubtlessly exhausted from nursing a newborn the repeated trips to our house the last few months -- didn't retrieve the tooth from under Natalie's pillow last night. Which means there was no small amount of pouting, crying and deep sighing this morning when we all got up.

I tried to comfort her with the thought that the Tooth Fairy is hardly ever derelict in her duties. After all, she even managed to get the tooth that fell out the night before Mom and Dad left for the hospital to have Teyla.

(Barely. Corey and I were already in bed, half-asleep, when I bolted upright and whispered sharply, "Oh! No!" Corey later told me this is the wrong thing to say to your husband in the middle of the night when you are already four centimeters dilated.)

But that did little to soothe the disappointed spirit of a six-year-old with no teeth and not enough quarters to show for it.

Hopefully, the Tooth Fairy will do better tonight. Does anyone want to volunteer to make a reminder call? Those fairies can be so undependable once the lights go out.