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April, 2011 Monthly archive

as of this April, i’ve officially been a Christian for 10 years. i came to Christ in college (at a secular college of 40,000+ people no less), thanks to the examples of roommates and close friends and despite being a liberal arts student from a non-religious household. because i have no real family history of any form of religion being shared or practiced in the home, i suppose i have always been nervous about sharing about how awesome God’s love is with my children.

well, at the moment, Elisha is making all of that terribly easy (thanks, Lord. you always provide when i’m not looking!). he loves, no seriously loves, his Bible. he even says it (sort of; it often comes out like “mamol” instead of “Bible,” but it’s still cute). he’ll take it off the shelf, even if its’s stuck in a crowd of other books. he asks to read it every night before bed (unless he falls asleep in the car while we’re out, then it’s straight to bed on those nights). it’s awesome.

we have a Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd-Jones. the illustrations by Jago are amazing. i love them! it’s hard to get an example off the internet, so the next time you’re at a bookstore, see if you can find the book. some of the stories are vertical. some of the stories are diagonal. some of the illustrations are just beautiful.

Elisha obviously isn’t old enough to understand the stories or really understand any theology, but it’s really great to be able to read to him about God’s Never Stopping, Never Giving Up kind of love. it’s fun to watch him point to the cover every time one of us says Jesus. for him to be raised knowing the kinds of things that both Justin and I didn’t know or care about until we were adults is really exciting for me. having the security of knowing Someone created and cared for you from childhood will hopefully be a comfort and a blessing for Elisha, an opportunity and a joy i didn’t know myself until much later in life.

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.[a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

to be able to pass on our faith instead of hold it back, to be able to bear fruit in His name, is something i’m not taking for granted. it makes having children even more of a meaningful experience than it already is.

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sorry for missing a post yesterday. i just couldn’t think of what would be a fantastic tutorial or other tidbit to share. i’m also suddenly busy with work again, which is (of course) a good thing. the sporadic schedule of a freelancer is still rather interesting to me; i keep hoping for work to pick up and become more regular, but i know there are some things i still need to work on personally first. i’m a little frustrated at how it seems nearly impossible to hear back from some of the freelance opportunities i apply to online on places like freelanceswitch or freelancefolder. i’ve sent plenty of applications and have only heard back from one. maybe two.

i guess i know i’m bursting with all of this eager, excited energy, but i still need to beef up my portfolio. well, i’ve got two pro bono websites in the wings and a non-profit site that i just met with the client for today.

i’ve also got some wedding invites to silkscreen. it’s a lot of work (work i should probably have started by this time in the evening, to be honest), but they’re going to look so great when they’re finished. i just don’t know if i have enough room in our townhouse to lay them all out to dry—150 invites, 150 RSVP cards are a lot of little sheets of paper!

anyway, i’m still struggling with my identity, i think. i feel like i really need to figure out what it is i do best, what it is i’m happiest doing. i don’t think i know the answer to that yet.

i love the web.

but i also love illustration.

i also love photomanipulation and image editing.

i also love silkscreen and printmaking.

i also love sewing.

so. uh. which is it? should i focus on one? all? none? is there something i’m still missing in this puzzle of my life as a self-employed creative?

i don’t know yet. i’m not sure. i feel like the picture was clear, but after what feels like rejection after rejection (silence can be just as heavy as an email negative), i’m beginning to question whether or not i’m good enough at what i think i’m good at. i think i just need more examples of what i can do—i’ve been designing for the web for almost 10 years now, people. 10 (and that’s not counting the few years before that i taught myself HTML and built my own blog as a high school student). i’ve also been drawing and printmaking for that long, too.

i hate feeling stuck. it’s the worst feeling ever.

i hate realizing that i have all of this passion, this potential, but i feel like it’s being wasted. on nothing.

someone notice, would you?

i’ve got a lot to give here, you see.

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oh no, more crazy whacked out ramblings on a Monday? really, must it go on? you ask.

well, so far, i don’t think i’m crazy, but i do have a bad habit of rambling …

i’ve written about elimination communication twice before already (here and here), but now that we’ve got over half a year’s experience of it under our belts, i thought i’d share more about it for the curious (or for those who think we’re crazy, which is more likely the case).

when i first read about EC while researching and purchasing our first (used) cloth diapers from the cloth diapering community called diaperswappers (a great place to find used cloth diapers, by the way), i’ll admit i thought it sounded really crazy, too. at first, just getting into the rhythm of parenthood was more than enough of a struggle for the hubbs and i, first-time parents as we were. however, as we got to know little E better, as we got to learn more about how he communicated with us his needs—hungry, tired, and, eventually, wet or dirty—i began to wonder if there was actually something to that EC stuff after all. since Justin was already on board with cloth diapers from the moment we found out we were expecting, i decided to share about what i’d read and see what he thought.

we bought the book, the diaper free baby, by christine gross-loh. i did most of the reading, ahem, but i did talk to hubbs about what i read (all the time, often while i was reading it …) and the basic methodology of part-time elimination communication. because i was still working full time when Eli was 6 months old, we decided to only give EC a try while i was around so Justin just kept changing diapers and washing diaper laundry as usual.

so, for me, i began to notice how simple things were right away. we gave Elisha naked time and watched for his own cues (and occasionally had some messes). he’d get suddenly loud right before (or during) a pee. or, if he was already babbling or playing, he’d go really quiet and still. he was already a regular pooper. catching poops was the easiest part of EC—he’d go every morning after waking up for the day and sometimes a second time after his first nap or before bed after meals. occasionally, he’d go a day without going or decided he’d rather just go in the car, but eventually these things both faded and he’s able to hold it to poop on the potty all the time at 13 months (well, except for that week of diarrhea, but we won’t go there … ew).

we’re at the point now where he doesn’t actually like being wet. except when he’s playing, that is. when he’s involved in something exciting, he won’t let us know he has to go (he signs his own version of “potty,” which is pointing to his diaper area or tugging on his training pants). in the car, he lets us know he’s peed in his diaper (our stash of GroVia AIOs for going out of the house; he’s not quite ready for full-time training pants) by getting very loud.

my point is, however, we started small. (and there are so many things anyone can start small on!)

we didn’t have big expectations.

it was just something new.

a parental experiment—one that, yes, we were learning, too.

he peed on his potty after naps and then before/after meals. as Justin began to witness that Elisha did cue and actually liked the potty, he began to join in. since he could sit up, he sat on a little baby bjorn potty or we’d hold him in what’s called an in-arms position over the big potty at home or while we were out. eventually, once i was working from home, we suddenly realized we’d become full-time with EC. it just kind of happened. something casual and experimental became a part of our lives as we learned to communicate with each other. Elisha learned to sign for milk and for food right alongside the sign for potty, so it was just another part of his vocabulary. did he always tell us? no, especially when teething or hitting big milestones like walking. he spent those days mostly in diapers instead of the training pants he usually wears around the house. he’d still use the potty to poop, but he never had the time or the gumption to tell us he needed to pee when major things were going on in his mouth or in his brain.

and that’s okay with us. we’re not potty training here. we’re just communicating.

what? there’s a difference?

yes. i believe so.

i get uncomfortable when people ask me how potty training is going when they see me ask Elisha if he needs to go potty or if he’s wet. i get frustrated when people tell me they must be lazier parents than we are because we EC (or even because we use cloth diapers). i dislike it when people complain that we’re the ones being trained instead of our child(ren) when it comes to learning life skills such as going on the toilet.

yes, there are things we as parents must learn about our children. we need to learn how they tell us they’re hungry or tired and how they tell us about their elimination needs is just another part of the puzzle. i’ve learned that babies don’t necessarily like being left to sit in their own waste—they like being dry and clean just like adults do. in my opinion (please note that), the rise of a convenience-oriented disposable culture has encouraged us to lose touch with some of the amazing things God designed babies (and their parents) to do. babies quickly lose touch with the sensations of being wet or soiled in a diaper as a bad thing when they spend hours in the same one, sagging to their knees. then, once they’re two (or  later depending on the when they’re “ready” as today’s potty training standards go), we begin the process of attempting to reverse what they’ve been, uh, well, trained to do. we suddenly tell them diapers are bad and the potty is good. we bribe them to change their minds with songs and candy.

what i’ve discovered is that we can keep them aware the whole time. there are still accidents. we still spend days in diapers. but, seriously, we’re never going to have to untrain and retrain. the potty is normal, not something scary and new. being wet or dirty is not ideal, though tolerable when it happens (especially at night when he still doesn’t necessarily wake in time to go potty), and Elisha knows that. e

to me, i think it’s amazing. like crazy amazing.

babies are capable of so much more than i ever knew and becoming a parent has, indeed, taught me a lot. the difference i feel from the mainstream of our culture is that i actually enjoy being “trained” to listen to my baby, encouraged and thrilled by the bonds we build. that’s something i signed onto do when i became a parent—i signed on to wholly becoming a part of my children’s lives in order to raise them into healthy adults.

well, i turned out alright, you say.

so did i.

so did a lot of people who were raised in disposable diapers and with formula (not everyone can breastfeed, and i know that. but i also think a lot of women aren’t given enough support and information and end up giving up way too soon). we did grow up into adults just fine, as far as we can tell … so what’s the big deal?

i guess, in my mind, it all goes back to some of what i shared when i talked about why we chose to use cloth diapers as a family. to me, it’s about living sustainably, about being good stewards, about avoiding harmful chemicals that are completely unnecessary, and not just for our planet but for the lives entrusted into our care.

when it comes to elimination communication, i can totally understand that it’s not for everyone, but i really have my caveats about saying such things as “you do what’s good for you and i’ll do what’s good for me.” i do believe that kind of subjectivity isn’t healthy all the time, but i have learned that parenting is a rather touchy subject in which is currently better to pick your battles over than to see people get hurt. i just always want people to know that contrary to what we see around us, yes, there are options and yes, many of them work just as well if not better than the status quo.

i understand that it’s a commitment in both time and process. i do think there are definitely some interesting things to be learned, both in simply choosing cloth diapers or even giving EC a try.

not that i’m saying you (yes you) aren’t taking care of your child. i’m sure you are. well, i hope so. i just like the idea of really jumping in, and i think more people should consider other areas of their lives they could commit to making stewardly changes in, what with eating local or recycling or buying organic or wearing earth-conscious clothing … why not?

so, things are going awesome here, and none of you are a bad parent for not following the paths we’ve chosen. i just like providing some food for thought, and i hope that you’re all thinking. if you’re ever prompted to make changes, let me know, as i’m always excited to hear about other parenting adventures!

Share your thoughts?

adelie penguin antarctica

it’s no small secret around my house and with my family that i love penguins. i think they’re adorable and awesome. i have a fair number of penguins in my collection, from pajama pants to Christmas decorations to stuffed animals. (though, if i’d have to choose, i’d say the octopus is still my most favorite animal ever.)

Penguin Logos

Penguins

Penguin

penguin trek

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So determined. Whattaface.
Whassup?

so, i’ve been meaning to make a list of all the things little E signs and says, as well as start keeping track of the words and signs we’re working on. his willingness to communicate with words and sign sort of exploded just recently (i can’t remember exactly when, but it was maybe a little before his first birthday). he wants us to read to him, to tell him what things are, and to pay attention to him when he’s talking. he’s curious, but can get frustrated if we don’t catch on soon enough. ah, toddlerhood … as of this week (at 13 months), here’s where we’re at:

signs

  • all done
  • bye-bye
  • drink
  • food
  • milk
  • more
  • points (at everything, really; it’s also his form of saying hello 50-75% of the time instead of waving)
  • potty (he’ll point in the direction of his diaper or tap his underpants when he needs to go)
  • wash (he’ll rub his chest and tummy like he’s getting washed)
  • yes & no (though, he mostly just does no; he does know how to nod if he wants to)

words he says

  • mama
  • papa
  • boob (heehee; this was technically his first word)
  • more (which currently still sounds like “moe”)
  • woof/arf (for dog or when the dog barks at things)
  • bye-bye (bah-bah or just ba! with a bit of a country twang)
  • all done (he says “ah duh” and signs all done)
  • bath (also sounds like ba!)
  • Bible (sounds like “bai-bu” and he can pick out his Jesus Storybook Bible from the shelf no matter where it is when we ask for it before bedtime)
  • balloon (sounds like “mamoon” most of the time)
  • nurse (as in, to eat, which is his own made up word of “nah nah.” sometimes, he chooses to use this word for me in general instead of mama)
  • night night
  • vroom vroom (for motorcycles and cars and sometimes bicycles)

words we’re working on

  • book
  • up (& down, i guess)
  • dog

Can I touch it?

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Elisha at 13 months

Elisha at 13 months

Elisha at 13 months

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i haven’t written at all about the earthquake and tsunami in Japan here on sojourning, us or on my design blog at hellonifty, not because i don’t have anything to say but because my heart is just that broken. you see, in case you don’t know me in person, i lived there in some of the places most devastated. i call that part of japan my home in conversation. i call those people my people with a fondness that can only be expressed in tone of voice inaccessable here on the internet. i have people i still call my family and my friends who were once there, most of them i know are safe, some of them i do not. i have places permanently etched into my memories that have been erased, washed away, and are gone forever … or are for quite sometime no longer accessible because of radiation from the daiichi nuclear plant.

Yonomori in Futaba-gun, near Tomioka and the nuclear power plant Yonomori in Futaba-gun, near Tomioka and the nuclear power plant
Kashima Sunset
Yonomori in Futaba-gun, near Tomioka and the nuclear power plant Kashima-machi in the summer

fukushima-ken has my heart. tohoku (northern japan) is my home away from home. i have never felt more at home anywhere else than i did in Japan, home staying in kashima-machi (known now as minamisoma) or serving the fukushima first bible baptist church (you can click the english link on their front page for donation options and for pastor akira sato’s diary in english. it’s, uh, really heartbreaking, so have some tissues, okay? i can’t read it without crying) in tomioka-machi (where the daiichi plant is).

all of these places are in the evacuation zone; both places i may never see in person again in my lifetime without the potential for health risk. so many of the places i remember have been damaged, if not destroyed.

Yonomori Chapel
Our First Anniversary, Japan Style

this still crushes me.

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i lay awake at night, our windows open to the breeze, and stare at the ceiling when i cannot sleep, making myself remember all the places i saw, all the places i took for granted. i pray for the church that took me in, that let a foreigner like me into their hearts and homes, a church that now is scattered, most having migrated to tokyo to begin a new life in a strange place. i pray for the displaced, all of them. so many of them were tied for generations to their lands (rich, beautiful farm land) on the coast of tohoku. now, they have nothing. i pray for my home stay family who are retired and have to start over somewhere new, for the hopelessness that must weigh heavily on the hearts of everyone from those tiny coastal towns. i pray for the Christians who are now working hard to bring hope to the places that need it most. i pray that broken hearts and broken lives will be made new.

but, sometimes the words are hard to say. sometimes, it hurts too much and i hesitate.

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it hurts because even though i am not japanese, part of me is missing.

a part i do not have words for. a part i cannot name.

it hurts because i am reminded how much i have let slip away. i have not been in touch with the church since my husband and i visited on our first anniversary. i have not kept in contact with the people i held—no hold still—so dear to my heart.

i feel guilty.

the weight of my forgetfulness is a burden that i don’t know what to do with.

i want to cross the ocean just to say i’m sorry.

i’m so sorry.

you see, i am still so very much in love with Japan. the small seed that God put there so many years ago has grown into a deep-rooted tree in my heart. it’s a wild, untamed tree right now, overgrown like the rest of my spiritual garden, but it’s still so beautiful. i literally ache with longing to be back there sometimes. it’s a tangible feeling. like pins and needles inside my chest.

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the road to recovery is going to be long. and difficult. even once our media here stops talking about the devastation, people there will still be devastated. people there will still be suffering and struggling. the damage is internal as well as external.

one day, sooner rather than later, i hope to be back there, family in tow. i want to hug and weep and pray. i want to love and sing and cherish. i want to remember old joys. i want to celebrate new beginnings.

 

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