Four Months Young

Dear Miss Alice,

You are four months old!

Four Month Letter

Today (Monday) you had your four-month well child. You weighed in at 15.08 pounds and measured 25 inches long exactly–75th percentile for height and weight. Your head? Massive. Just like your brothers before you. 99th percentile for that.

You also rolled to your tummy right there on the exam table. Well, you sort of did. You can’t figure out how to get that arm out of the way, so you just laid there on it getting angry.  Then you did it again at home on your activity mat. Twice. And both times you seemed angry at me because you got yourself stuck where you didn’t want to be.

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You are just trucking along being awesome, my dear. You average around 30 ounces a day, give or take a bottle. You are sleeping like a bear through the night, sometimes going more than ten hours at a stretch. You reach and reach for lots of things, but mostly like to hold my hand.

Today Eddie fed you a whole bottle for his first time. He was very proud that you only got mad at his newb status once. He didn’t dare burp you though. I think he is a little afraid of your tendency for spitting up.

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You’re growing to be such a beautiful little lady right before our eyes. You have a cheerful, social demeanor, bu far the most social of all three of our babies. You really do not love your car seat because you can’t see what is going on. You much prefer to be sitting on our lap or being held so you can see out. Although you do love both the Moby wrap and the Ergo carrier.

We still swaddle you at night in your miracle wrap. You are always completely out of it by morning, but you seem to take comfort in being tightly wrapped at night, so we go with it. In fact, you startle yourself awake if we try to lay you down without wrapping you up. Yet in the morning you have both arms out and over your head. This morning you even somehow had a leg out.  You’re crafty.

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Your brothers are still swoony over you. Eddie is a little daddy to you and Charlie tries to make you laugh. They fight over who you’re looking at and who gets to sit next to you when you’re on the floor or on the couch. You give your brothers the big eyes too. You somehow already know they would do just about anything for you.

You are also the most chatty baby we have had. It’s like you stored up all the stories and as soon as you found that you had a voice, you started cooing and squawking and gurgling to anyone who will listen. And the smile you give is the absolute best. The drool is starting to get serious, so I checked for “full gums”, but nope. Looks like you will retain your gummy grin for a while longer. That is totally Ok with me.

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Something is different with you, Alice. Or maybe it’s with me. I’m not really sure. I just know that this third time around? Is different.

I’m not as lost or broken as I was with Eddie.

I’m not as “on alert” as I was with Charlie.

But other than that, I can’t put my finger on it.

People like to chalk it up to “well, all babies are different” and “she’s a girl! Of course it’s different!” And while those may be true, there is something else. Something I don’t have words for.

Maybe it’s because I feel complete now.

Maybe it’s because you’re the last.

Maybe this is what thankful, blessed, nostalgic, sad, and joyful all mixed together feel like. Maybe I am not having any postpartum depression or anxiety this time. Maybe that’s it.

I really don’t know.

I just know that I love being with you. I love being your mom. And I am never sad that you’re around.

It’s crazy here some days with three kids, but you somehow ground me in all that nuts-o-crazy.

I love you more than I can find words for,

Momma

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Sluiter siblings at four months

Mary

Before having kids, Cortney and I “shopped” for a church home. Most places we went treated us kindly enough–people shook our hands and said, “welcome”, but that was about it. Even our current church was kind, but not overly so. It had been a long time since we had gone regularly and in those days before kids, we were greeted as if we were new.  This sort of bugged Cortney since he had been a member of our church since childhood.

We found a church we thought could be our church home, but by then I was largely pregnant with Eddie, it was winter, and sleeping in on Sunday rather than driving to a church where we didn’t know anyone seemed exhausting.

We had Eddie and Charlie baptized in our current church, and when Charlie was about 18 months old, we started going back regularly.

This time was different than the first time though. This time we were friends with more people and they welcomed us with open arms.

I figured we would just start going to Sunday services and send Eddie to Sunday School. You know, sort of ease in.

Nope. This was not what God planned for us, apparently. He was maybe sick of us “easing in” for the past eight years, so we were thrown right in.

My friend, The Preacher’s Wife, approached me about “helping” with our Sunday School program: Children in Worship. I figured I would be a helper in one of the rooms occasionally, but I found myself teaching right away.

And that is how I met Mary.

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Mary has been involved with the Children in Worship program for as long as it’s been a part of our church. She knows all the stories, knows what story objects go with every story box, what reflection activities each grade did with most of the stories, and she remembers all the children and loves them all individually. She remembers Cortney being in Children in Worship when he was a wee lad.

She was not just kind and welcoming, she was the epitome of love when she heard I would be joining the team. She held my hand and told me she was so glad. She already loved Eddie from his few times, and looked forward to Charlie joining in as well.

When I told her I was pregnant last summer, her eyes filled with tears and her hands went to her face in excited joy. Then she hugged me.

Before Alice was born, she loved her.

When Alice was set to be baptized, The Preacher’s Wife gave her a vintage baptismal gown, but Mary found the idea of making a hankie into a bonnet with this small poem:

I’m just a dainty hanky,
As square as square can be.
With stitches hands have fashioned
A bonnet out of me.

She’ll wear me home, a newborn,
Or for a special day.
Then I’ll be washed and pressed and
so neatly tucked away.

When Her Wedding Day arrives,
She’ll search about I’m told,
To find an item quite small
Of long ago and old.

And when she spots baby’s cap
No better will she see.
Snip out my stitches, and a
Wedding hanky I’ll be.

by Howard Ray White

She came to visit Alice and me in the hospital and gave me a tiny knit hat meant for a great granddaughter she would never have (she has all great grandsons).

She delivered our family a meal when Alice and I were released from the hospital.

She pats the boys on the heads and always asks them how they are. The boys love “Grandma Mary”. She is one of many “Church Grandmas” my children are blessed to have, but she will always be the very first.

Mary is always there with encouragement and unconditional love. She never expects anything in return, but hold my hand each Sunday and asks how I am–and really wants to know. Love and grace ooze out of her very being.

Without Mary’s genuine love and welcoming for my whole family, we may not have stayed regular church-goers and I know I would not be as involved as I am with our church family.

Mary has been described by many as a saint, but I am sure she would brush that off because all she does is love. But that is so much. In fact, it’s the greatest command, Jesus says.

And Mary does it as best as any human can.

At the end of last week, I received some devastating news about our beloved Mary. Once again I would have to sit my boys down and tell them someone we love is going to make a trip to Heaven soon.

Our hearts are hurting for our Mary. For her family. For our own hearts.

It’s hard to see why God would allow something to happen to the best of the best. We don’t understand. We feel that familiar feeling of being lost in a sea of sorrow and questions.

The image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd has always been a favorite of Mary’s. I can see that she takes it to heart–loving those around her and guiding them to safe places. She certainly guided my heart and family to the safe place that is now our church family.

We hope Mary feels God’s love. We hope Mary feels all of our love and our prayers.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
forever.

Psalm 23

Where My Writing Is

As I mentioned last month, I have been lucky to have my writing spread around the internet lately. In case you missed it, this is where I was in June…

First, a post of mine about being done having kids was republished at The Mid. If you missed it here, you can read it there.

I wrote an original post for BonBon Break about the kind of Christian I am…and the kind I am most certainly not.

I am also a regular contributor at The Educator’s Room where I wrote about how to keep your kids writing this summer and about the issues with public school funding, specifically my own job insecurity over the years.

Thanks for reading along!

Where I Was When Love Won

My students like to ask me where I was when historical stuff happened. Most of them start somewhere in the 80’s, but some are smart asses and ask me where I was when Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation. They fail my class, by the way.

I kid.

But it’s always interesting to me how quiet students get when they get to hear a first-hand account of something from history.

Where were you when John Lennon was shot?  I was only two, so probably at home.

What about when the Challenger exploded?  I was elementary aged, but I don’t remember where I was. I remember it happening and that it was a significant event.

And when they torn down the Berlin wall? Again, elementary age, but I was told “This will be in history books,” and that shocked me.

How about when Kurt Cobain died? High school English class. We didn’t have MTV, so I hung on everything my friends told me. It was the first celebrity death that really affected me.

9-11? Teaching Exploratory Spanish to sixth graders.

Did you vote for Obama? Our first black president? I did. But not because he’s Black. Which is probably even more historical. People voted for him because they believe(d) in him.

Some day they might ask me last week’s SCOTUS ruling. My own kids might ask me too.

Because my own children–ages 6 years, 3 years, and 4 months–will never know what it’s like to not be able to marry who you love because of the law.

I was thinking about that the other day. My dad was born in 1950. Segregation was still a thing, although he probably didn’t see it first hand because of the tiny, almost all white, Michigan town he lived in (and we still live in). It wasn’t until he was seventeen years old that interracial marriage became legal.

I can’t imagine that now. We have interracial marriage right in our family and it’s hard to imagine that they were just not allowed to do it because of a dumb law just fifty-two years ago. There were people who vehemently opposed interracial marriage then mostly citing Biblical passages.

I never knew that time.

And my children will never know that gay marriage was not legal. They will not live through all of the hate-filled Facebook posts or people cherry-picking Bible verses to support their hate.

By the time Eddie and Charlie and Alice are at an age to get married, they won’t have to worry if the person they love is a different race or religion or the same sex. They can marry that person and enjoy all the same government benefits as us straight white people.

I’m not a political blog even though I am a political person.

I don’t strive to be a controversial blog, even though in real life I will discuss hot topics with you all day long.

I don’t always write about the latest news items, but this one had me thinking about my parents and the history-making events and decisions that they lived through: Desegregation, Roe vs Wade, Vietnam, Watergate, the JFK assassination, etc. I wonder what it would be like to have their thoughts from when those things happened.

And so, because this is history that I thought my children would like to have my thoughts on, I am saying this: I am proud of the Supreme Court. I am proud of this decision.

We still have a long way to go in our country as far as eliminating prejudice and awarding equal rights to everyone. I have family, friends, colleagues, former students, and current students who face difficulties every day because of who they are. They fight for rights that should be theirs just by being citizens of the USA.

I am an ally to those people.

I want to teach my children to be allies as well. To have compassion and open ears for all people.

Where was I when love won?  I was at the park with my three children. I saw the decision on my phone and I looked up to see Eddie and Charlie engaging with all the kids who were there. In fact, I watched as Eddie approached the only Black family at the park and asked the little girl if she wanted to play tag with everyone. I watched Charlie run past a kid who fell only to turn around and hand the kid his shoe back.

It’s cheesy to say, but my eyes got all teary. My kids already seem to know that Love Wins. And I am just optimistic enough to think that as a country, we are heading in the right direction.

Where I Was When Love Won #LoveWins

The ABC’s of Me

I have about a million posts in draft.

Ok that is not true. I am using hyperbole here, but I have a bunch going on and I can’t bring myself to actually finish anything. So last week, my friend Jennifer did this fun little post that is also pretty informative and neat, and I thought “hey! I can do that!” So here we go…

A- Age: 37

B- Biggest Fear: death. I can’t think too hard about any of my children or Cortney or my parents or my brothers or me dying. My brain can’t shut the scenarios off and I follow them through and have panic attacks. I have what my therapist likes to refer to as an “Anxiety Disorder.” Trying to think about my life without my loved ones, my loved ones being in pain, or what will happen to my conscious after life sends me spinning.

Well. This is proving to be a jolly post.

C- Current Time: 3:30pm on a Monday

D- Drink you last had: coffee

E- Easiest Person To Talk to: Cortney. Sorry, babes. You never should have let me start talking to you all the way back in 1996. Now you’re stuck with all my words.

F- Favorite Song: I don’t think I have just one favorite over all the rest. But I love “Nightswimming” by R.E.M. an awful lot.

G- Grossest Memory: the time Eddie had the worst aqua dump in the history of aqua dumps while I was pregnant with Charlie. And while Cortney wasn’t home.

H- Hometown: Zeeland, Michigan!  Feel the Zeel!

I- In love with: Well, Cortney, of course. But lately I am also in love with this root beer beer called Not Your Father’s Root Beer. It’s actually on my summer bucket list to enjoy a tasty “root beer float” with this and some of my homemade vanilla bean ice cream.

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J- Jealous Of: anyone who doesn’t have to worry about money all the time. Also people who just have to cut out soda to lose 20 pounds.

K- Killed Someone? ‪only with the evil eye O_o

L- Longest Relationship: Cortney is definitely my longest romantic relationship–it will be 12 years in September. But my longest friendship would probably be with my bestie, Tonya since we met as mere tots in Sunday School.

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M- Middle Name: Ann

N- Number of Siblings: I have two brothers, Mike (who is married to the Lovely Ashley) and Chris (who is married to Sarah). I gained a sister, MacKenzie when I married Cortney (she is married to Dave) and another brother, Cody (who is married to Liz). I like to say I have eight siblings now.

O- One Wish: That my kids make choices that keep them safe AND happy.

P- Person who you last called: the dentist office.

Q- Question you’re always asked: “When is this due?” which is closely followed by “How many points is this?”

R- Reason to smile: Eddie slept in undies (rather than a pull up) last night and woke up dry, Alice is rolling to her side, and Charlie was a rock star at his first dentist appointment today.

S- Song you last sang: “Drop the Leash” by Pearl Jam. Because it was on the radio.

T- Time you woke up: The first time = 6:15am when Eddie came in to tell me he stayed dry.  Then 7:34am when Alice decided it was time to eat.

U- Underwear Color: Blue stripes

V- Vacation Destination: Somewhere with a swim-up bar and a wrist band.

W- Worst Habit: Snacking when I’m not really hungry. Although I am sure some people would say my worst habit is being late. Always with the late.

X- X-rays you’ve had: teeth, ankle, lungs

Y- Your favorite food: I have a really hard time choosing this too. I do love seafood–especially shrimp, lobster, scallops, and the like.

Z- Zodiac Sign: Aries. Despite two of my three children being born in March with me, I remain the sole Aries in the house. Which is probably for the best.

And because I don’t know how to wrap this up, here…look at this cute baby who was talking to me all morning and rolling to her side because it’s her new trick.

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Netflix and His New Obsession

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I blame Netflix for this.

Which means I suppose I have to blame myself since we have Netflix because of me. Plus I am the one who encouraged him to break free from Curious George and find some other shows to fill his “quiet time” while Charlie and Alice nap.

I honestly didn’t know it was still a think. I remember kids my youngest brother’s age going all wonky for it when we were kids, but I guess I didn’t realize little kids are still into it.

And now it’s invaded my home.

Pokemon.

Eddie loves it. LOVES. IT. WITH. A. CAPITAL. L. LOVES.

It’s his number one choice show during “TV Time” (rainy days, siblings’s nap time, and right before bed). When he’s not watching it, he is asking me to print coloring pages of Pokemon characters off the Internet. Or he is showing me the six cards a friend gave him and explaining powers and evolving to me.

The other day he was standing next to me while I was working giving me the low down on a bunch of stuff I didn’t really care about, and it brought back the memory of friends with older kids assuring me my two-year old would indeed talk so much one day I would wish for the days of no words back.

That time still hasn’t come, but I will admit the Pokemon stuff is boring and uninteresting to me. BUT…it’s so SO interesting to him. I really don’t care about battles, but watching him explain it to me with such fervor is amazing.

He watches those Netflix episodes over and over and studies those six cards like it is his job, asking me occasionally about words on them. He draws Pokemon on everything.

His birthday was this week and we gave him a pile of presents including Lego, craft stuff, and yes, a pack of Pokemon cards. Of all the things he got from his family (including a fishing pole and a marble maze) that tiny pack of Pokemon cards is his favorite. He even told me he was going to use any of the money he got to buy a book to keep his cards in.

Listen. There are worse things that he could be watching.

I’ll take the Pokemon phase.

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I am part of the Netflix #StreamTeam. This is not a sponsored post. I was provided with Netflix and a device to watch it on, but the opinions and stories I write are all mine, yo.

Upon Your Sixth Birthday

Dear Eddie,

You are six now.

I am actually a little speechless.

(but wait for it. you know I will find some words. I always do.)

Your birthday is so amazing and miraculous and all the things woven and tangled together. Your birth broke me down so I could be rebuilt into a mother. You did that, son.

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You are our number one, but you were actually number three. You are actually my middle “baby”. Two older, and two younger.

But you are our number one here. In our family.

I often tell each of you that you were chosen for our family by Jesus for a very specific reason. We don’t always know all the reasons, but we can see hints of some of them as our lives unfold.

You were the baby that “stuck.” As I watch you learn and grow I see that is no mistake. I don’t know how souls work. I don’t know if those lumps of cells that came before you had souls yet or not. I don’t know if those two pregnancies were both your soul trying to come to our family and it just took you three tries.  I don’t know if there are two souls in heaven that will just never make it to an earthly family. I like to think that they are in heaven so your Papa can have some grandkids, but the truth is I don’t know. And I’m not sure I’ll ever know or that I am meant to know.

What I do know is that you are a miracle. Your being here is a wonder to behold.

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You love to hear your birth story and I love to tell you. This year you loved that I added all the people who were waiting in our hospital room to meet you when we came out of the operating room. From that minute you have loved being the center of attention. You love an audience.

Eddie, I have been honored to watch you learn and grow over the past six years. You completed Kindergarten this year and now you are a full-fledged kid.

Right now you love Pokemon after finding it on Netflix only a few weeks ago. You talk nonstop about the battles and the evolving or whatever. I must say I am not that interested, but I absolutely love it that you are so passionate about it. You are giving me a glimpse as to how you will handle passions in the future: you learn everything there is to know, and you talk about it to everyone.

You love to do “crafts” which involve you envisioning something with boxes and paper and markers and scissors and glue and then making it happen.

You love to write and read.

You played soccer, T-ball, and took swimming lessons this year, and while you complained about going, once there you loved being involved.

Your teachers have always described you as a leader. I admit to not fully understanding this. I have always been nervous that maybe you would get picked on because you cry easily, but last week I finally saw what your teachers meant.

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On Friday I packed up you and your brother and sister and we headed to the park for a while to burn off some energy before lunch. Within five minutes of getting there, you had organized a game of tag with the four or so other kids who were there.

More kids showed up and you included each one.

When the game of tag broke up, you went over to the merry-go-round. You pushed and invited kids on and let them off if they asked. You made sure everyone was careful and that you went a little slower if little kids wanted on. You were respectful and chatty with the mom of the toddler who wanted to get on, and you even walked the merry-go-round very slowly to give that toddler a little ride.

Kids were calling you by name by the time we were ready to pack up.

“Eddie? Do those kids go to your school?”

“No.”

“Do you know them from T-ball or something?”

“No.”

“Then how do they know your name?”

“They asked. They said their names too, but I don’t remember. That’s a lot of names.”

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It was no big deal to you that all of these kids were suddenly your friends. It was totally casual. You walked onto that playground with all the confidence in the world that you were going to have fun with some kids. And you did.

In that moment, I looked at you differently.

I saw your confident stride–those legs that just keep getting longer–as you walked with your head held high, looking around for potential friends.

I saw your easy smile and helping hands.

I saw your caring nature.

I saw you, Eddie.

When you weren’t looking, I was.

You make me so proud to be your mom.

Happy 6th birthday, Eddie Bear.

Love, Mom

In His Image

So God created mankind in his own image; in the image of God he created them.
Genesis 1:27

 I have been sick to my stomach every time I turn on the news or open social media. I see article after article and post after post and video clip after video clip discussing and showing how racism is so institutionalized, it’s rooted in our every day lives.  So much so, that people are still still arguing in the comment sections about whether or not the Charleston murders were motivated by race.

HOW IS THIS EVEN DEBATABLE??? HOW CAN PEOPLE STILL NOT SEE THE PROBLEM?

I have not used my words.

I have shared the words of others over and over. I “like” stuff to show my support. But I have not used my words.

I have been reading comments and posts that make me so angry I can’t even see straight. I want to quit. I want to turn it all off. I want to plug my ears and sing LA LA LA to it all. I don’t want to let it affect me.

And you know what? I could do that. I could.

It would be easy to “block” anything with Charleston or racism in it on Facebook so it doesn’t show up in my feed. And then I wouldn’t have to think about it because it doesn’t directly affect my every day life.

Because I am white.

Because I am white, I could easily shut it off.

But I don’t. I make myself read it and hate it and cry over it.

And it’s not enough. All that pain I feel? It’s not even close to that being my life.

Being hated, suspected, judged…it is woven into the fabric of Black America. Of any color America other than white.

We say, “No. Not me.” But that is how institutionalized racism works. You may not consciously think, “man, I hate black people. They are all lesser humans.”  You may even BELIEVE you are not racist at all. But it’s in your brain. Our country has planted that seed down deep.

It’s everywhere. It’s in all of our cultural images. It’s in our socioeconomic system. It’s in business.

Why is the largest group of people in poverty people of color? It’s because since the day the slaves were freed, there has been no easy way to climb out of nothing. The white people were at the top and they stayed there.

“Oh, Katie,” you might say, “but we have a Black president and my neighbor is Black and he is a CEO.” Yes. Of course. But what about the cycle of poverty swirling at the bottom of America?

I’m not here to talk economics or politics. In fact, there will be those who only focus on my lack of knowing statics and miss my point here entirely.

And my point is: RACISM IS STILL A THING.

I simply cannot understand how people can hear a bowl-cutted runt of a white supremacist say…SAY…he hates black people and felt it was his “mission” to gun them down after praying with them for an HOUR and STILL say, “well, let’s not jump to the conclusion that this was race-related. This country doesn’t have racism like they used to.”

WHAT THE HELL?

Last night I stayed up too late feeling hopeless.

So white and so hopeless to help or be able to do anything ever to help.

Hopelessly helpless.

This morning, I got up, went to church and sat through a powerful sermon about racism. About getting out of our comfort zones–a small, affluent, mostly white mid-western town–and use our voice and words and anything else to break down the racism.

To be uncomfortable and examine our own prejudices which certainly are there because we are a part of the machine that is a broken world, a broken country.

I don’t know what God looks like, but, as it was pointed out this morning, we are all created in his image. Not his white image. Just “his image”.

That means Asian, Native American, White, Black, Muslim, and on and on…ALL…ALL OF US…in his image.

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
Galatians 3:28

In Jesus we are all exactly the same. All of us. He created all of us. Not just white people. Not just Christians. ALL OF US.

Stop acting like the racism isn’t there. Stop being comfortable that it’s someone else’s problem and that is just “too bad” for them.

Stop it.

As a member of the Reformed Church of America, I adhere to the beliefs confessed in the Belhar Confession, but the one that I believe applies here is the one brought up this morning:

We believe…that this unity must become visible so that the world may believe that separation, enmity and hatred between people and groups is sin which Christ has already conquered, and accordingly that anything which threatens this unity may have no place in the church and must be resisted (John 17:20-23)

The Belhar Confession stresses unity and was originally drafted in South Africa during Apartheid. The church carefully and prayerfully considered its role in race issues, and the Belhar was born. The Dutch Reformed Mission Church adopted it in 1986.

We must break down the walls of hate. I believe as a Christian I am actually called to break down this hate. It is my job.

Even if it makes me uncomfortable to raise my voice and say so. ESPECIALLY if it makes me uncomfortable. Because if I am uncomfortable saying it, that means it’s there and it scares me.

And it should scare you too.

God Created mankind in His Image; in His image He created them."

A Father’s Day Letter

Dear Cortney,

Happy Father’s Day, my love!  It’s been six years since you’re first one (and technically that day was two days before you actually became a father, but who’s counting?). Does it feel like six years of being a dad?

When we fell in love, I really didn’t have kids on the brain. I wanted to have a partner who was my best friend, who could laugh easily with me (and at me when appropriate), and who I could feel like a real team with. In fact, I know we both had reservations about ever having kids. We just really loved our life of just the two of us!  We could travel or sit home and no one was setting our schedule except us.

And then we accidentally got pregnant and miscarried.

Man.

It was like a ton of bricks, right?

I remember you holding me in the garage after the doctor’s appointment. I remember what you said as I buried my face in your shirt: “Well. I guess we know we want kids now.”

That was over eight years ago.

Remember that day you became a dad?

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And then three years later you did it again? This time a little wiser and prepared for a baby that  might just never stop crying?

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But then that kid was easy peasy…until he turned two. And you were pretty sure two was a good number, but I talked in you in to JUST ONE MORE…

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And so here we are. We went from “maybe no kids” to “Hey, we have three kids!”

I watched you bounce and pace with a colicky Eddie. I watched you be calm in ways that I just couldn’t be with Charlie. I also saw you yell out of anger and frustration for the first time in my life. Then I saw you fall in love with a daughter.

You are everything I thought you would be as a dad. You love your kids fiercely, but you have high expectations for their manners and accountability. You want to give them wonderful memories, but not a bunch of hand outs. You are firm, but so very cuddly and loving.

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Having kids has brought your silly side front and center. They may frustrate you to no end, but they also make you laugh harder than I have ever seen. Eddie’s random observations, Charlie’s looks, and Alice’s toots all make you chuckle in the best way.

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You have such a special relationship with each of our kids. Eddie is a thinker and builder like you are. Between the two of you, you could spend days with Legos or train sets and mulling over “constructions” for things to build.

Charlie is your communication clone. Both of you hold it in. The difference is you have learned to talk things through and not let things fester. Birdie is still learning. I have no doubts he will learn from you. He is also your helper. He wants a REAL rider lawn mower so he can do the front yard while you do the back.

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Your bond with Alice is new, but it shows in your eyes how in love you are with her. Your relationship with her is somehow different than that with the boys. You are softer with her. You call her dainty and tell her she is pretty. And she returns your attention with smiles and coos just for her daddy.

The day we were married you held my hands in front of church and rubbed them with your thumbs. I didn’t think I could fall any more in love with you than that day. My heart was so full.

Yet I fall over and over again watching you father our kids. Watching you be their silly “Dad-do” and their comforting “Daddy.” Being Charlie’s “Dad dad” and Eddie’s “Dad.” Soon you will be Alice’s doting “Da Da.”

Being a dad looks good on you, babe.

I’m happy we made these kids together.

Happy Father’s Day.

Ways My Baby is Like Having a Cat

When Alice was just shy of being a month old, we stopped by my friend, The Pastor’s Wife’s, house to drop of a couple things. I went around lunch time, and when I popped in, The Pastor (our pastor, actually) was sitting at the counter eating his lunch–a bowl of sugary cereal.

“Where’s Alice?” he quickly asked. The Pastor is known for his love of babies.

I laughed. “She is in her car seat. No one was supposed to be home; I was just popping in for a sec.”

He put his bowl in the sink and followed me out to the car to sneak a peak of Alice before walking back to church for the afternoon. He asked if she was sleeping, and he made this gesture that was supposed to represent a sleeping baby, but it looked like he was a cat with its paws up by its face.

I laughed again. “She’s a baby, not a cat!”

I’ve been thinking about that interaction, and you know what? After thinking about my now-deceased cat, Louis, I realized she may as well be a cat! Her behavior and mannerisms are not that unlike a feline.

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She likes to be warm.
Alice could live in a sunbeam. She much prefers warm spots and extra layers to even the hint of being chilly. When she was still tiny, I could place her Rock n Play near the window where she could feel the warm sun. She loved it! Louis always did the same thing. Our house faces south with a very large picture window in the living room. Louis used to actually move with the sunbeam in the afternoon.

She prefers to be held.
I know most babies love to be held, but she would rather sleep on one of us than anywhere else. Anyone who has ever met a cat knows that they prefer to be on a lap…especially the laps of people who do not love cats.

She has the most energy after she poops.
We always knew when Louis had used the litter box for poops because he would come tearing up the stairs and jump all over the furniture so fast we thought he had snorted something. Alice is maybe not quite as manic, but she is definitely most energetic after a BM–all happy and wiggly and kicky.

She bats at things you hold in front of her face.
This is the newest trick up her sleeve, but if you hold something in front of her, she will reach for it. If it’s something with a rattle, she will keep batting at it. Then she will ignore it for a minute, and then go right back to batting it. Seriously, I think if she could, she would bat it and chase it around the floor.

She cries for food.
I mean, duh, right? But in case you don’t know cats…or at least my cat…Louis was a Siamese. He cried about everything–especially food. He also cried if you were behind a closed door–also something Alice does. He cried if he was bored–also something Alice has been known to do. So I guess it’s better to say she is about as needy as a Siamese. Or maybe Siamese are as needy as babies. Because babies are supposed to be needy…they are babies. Seventeen year-old cats are just ornery and stuck in their ways.

I am not one to call pets “my babies,” but Louis was the first creature that was my responsibility. He has been gone for about three-and-a-half years now, and I miss having a little creature curl up on me. Maybe that is part of why I love the baby stage so much; they are completely dependent on you. Alice finds her comfort and joy in my arms.

I will miss that as she grows up and gains independence from needing to be held all the time.

And Cortney says no more cats.

But since we can’t have anymore babies, maybe he will give in to the cat thing…eventually.

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