Monday, October 27, 2008


Not surprisingly, I've been thinking a lot about parenting. Last night I had kind of a breakthrough.

I think that most parents are probably concerned with trying to raise their kids "right" and not screw them up. And, I think most everyone has some kind of emotional (if not physical) scarring from their childhood from when their parents DID mess up, and they are vehement about not repeating those mistakes with their own children. Which, chances are, they won't: they'll just make different ones that they weren't prepared for (but hopefully won't be as damaging; I'm a firm believer that generational improvement IS possible, as I've seen it happen).

The thing is, though, that scars aren't always ultimately bad: in fact, they're often stronger than the original flesh, and they don't have to be ugly. I have a couple of notable physical scars on my face: one right between my eyes from when my brother hit me with a gardening hoe, and one right above my left eye from when a coke bottle fell on it on a bus on my first day in Beijing. When I see these scars, I don't remember the pain of the incidents at all; instead, I associate them with happy memories of my youth: playing with my siblings in our back yard and having adventures as a young adult in China. I don't resent having the scars. They don't make me a less attractive person; rather, they add character to my face. There's no question whether or not I like them - they are a part of me.

Similarly, there are a lot of things that happened in my youth that caused me emotional pain. My parents were great parents, but they were not perfect, and there are some things they did that I have never understood or approved of and am determined to not repeat. The thing is, though, that in spite of some emotional scars, I am not a damaged person. In fact, I'd say my slightly scarred soul is at least as healthy and attractive as my slightly scarred body - I really don't have a problem with who I am today. That's pretty comforting to me as a new parent, as I try to give my daughters everything and ensure that they'll be happier and better than I am: even if I mess up in a way that permanently affects their psyches, it doesn't mean that I'll have ruined them or made them less than they could be. Bodies and souls heal remarkably - life is a beautiful plan.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Some highlights of my California trip

Seeing Court

It’s great to have him back, and we’re excited to fly him out to Houston so he can see Steven. Interestingly, in all the pictures I have of him, his mouth is open. Hmmm…

Getting bitten by a dog

In this instance, “highlight” means “notable,” not “enjoyable.” I decided to take Olivia on a walk to go see some cows, and on the way there we passed a house that had a bunch of dogs in the front. They looked to be fenced in, but as we walked by one of them got through the fence somehow, ran behind me and bit me on the leg.

Here’s how it looked right afterward:

Here’s how it looked the next day:

Here’s how it looked a week later:

Notice the smiley face?

So, I didn’t know what to do, but on my sister’s advice I called animal control. I’m just glad it didn’t get Olivia. Grrrr.

Playing with cousins

This was fun for both me and Olivia. It was great to see Meggan again and to play with Dallan and Patience’s little boys, as well as my siblings and their kids.

All in all, it was a very fun trip. There were other things I enjoyed as well, but a lot of those you can't really show in pictures. I love my family.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

It's a...

Here is her little spine:

And here is her cute little skeletal face:

She has a nice little pumping heart with four nicely formed chambers, and two skinny little legs and two skinny little arms and one nice round belly with lots of nicely formed guts in it. She also has a 3-vesseled umbilical cord that is attached in the right place, as is the placenta. Her head is even down right now, although she is certainly moving around and has plenty of time to do so. She's the right size and we've been steadily gaining 3 lbs. every 4 weeks, so everything looks perfect.

My initial reaction was not what I'd expected. I hadn't really been hoping for one gender over another, but as soon as I learned she was a girl I suddenly had this very protective feeling for Olivia. I was so anxious about her having a little sister who would be competing with her at everything and make her feel insecure or overlooked. I come from a very competitive family, and I don't want that for Olivia: family should be a place where you feel accepted and encouraged, not bullied or threatened or constantly pitted against someone.

My fretful emotions soon gave way for another uncomfortable one: guilt for my ingratitude at having a healthy child and for feeling defensive against a sweet little baby who hasn't even been born, because of something she's never done. Yes, Olivia's my little girl, but so is she. And she needs to be loved and protected too. There's enough love in me for both my little girls, and I can teach them to build each other up. I am both a big and a little sister, and I've loved being both, in spite of sibling rivalry. I have years of happy memories of jumping on the trampoline and doing puzzles, playing with My Little Ponies and doing water ballets in the pool, spending car trips braiding hair and counting warts on feet. There is no substitute for siblings.

So, after a nice shower and a nice lunch, I sat down again to look at the pictures of my tiny little skeleton. I felt the little pit-a-pats that are becoming more and more frequent in my belly. And I noticed how sweet those little eye sockets look.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

I'm sorry, Mark Johnson...whoever you are.

If it's any consolation, I dragged your 70-pound, over-sized suitcase all the way home before realizing that it was the wrong one. All the while juggling a backpack, a duffel bag full of old books, and a wiggly toddler after a 3-hour car ride that was followed by a 3-hour plane ride. The suffering you surely wished upon me came to pass.

Nevertheless, it's great to be home.