Thursday, May 20, 2010

30 Before 30: Updated

My list is now ALMOST complete, just one more spot for something:

30 Before 30

  1. Take Madeleine to the Wild Animal Park
  2. Get a new haircut.
  3. Re-pierce my rook & maybe finish with an industrial
  4. Go with Tim to the Getty Museum
  5. Go to Huntington Library
  6. Decorate nursery to include Peanut
  7. Go to a national park
  8. Run a 5K race
  9. Paint the bathrooms

10. Re-finish/paint our hand-me down tables

  1. Re-finish/paint our Adirondack chairs
  2. Play a song on my guitar
  3. Spend a night away with Tim
  4. Sew a dress for Madeleine
  5. Find a “good” mascara
  6. Enjoy a piece of mudpie with Christina
  7. Organize the linen cave
  8. Learn the Abondigas soup recipe
  9. Enjoy karaoke night with friends
  10. Buy awesome maternity jeans
  11. Go to a Chargers game
  12. Enjoy my backyard during the summer
  13. Have another baby
  14. Enjoy a girl’s day out at the wineries
  15. Start a scrapbook for Madeleine
  16. Start a scrapbook for Peanut
  17. Drink at least 64 oz of water a day
  18. Organize a summer book club
  19. Have a scrapbook night with my mom
  20. Have a fabulous 30th birthday!
Love, Lauren

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Premarital Counseling

I have a stack of books next to my bed about 15 deep, and I decided I needed to just start reading them off, one by one. Most of them I have started and am about 2-3 chapters into them. So, I picked up Start Your Family by Steve & Candice Watters. I really don't know why I need to read a book subtitled "Inspiration for Having Babies", but I am. The book is a fast and easy read- nothing too spectacular, but they do quote a lot of great thinkers and hit on some tougher issues facing today's modern family (and specifically woman). Here are some passages that I really appreciate:

"The promise of growing a bank account before growing a family is that it will make the parenting enterprise much easier. There's something to that thinking. Obviously, a couple has to have a basic financial foundation in place to cover the costs of children. The problem in our day is that our context for establishing has grown out of whack. The baby industry, for instance, plays on the fears and desires of new moms with gear, gadgets, videos and more, promising safety, comfort, cuteness, and a leg up on the other less pampered babies. It can be easy to think that much of that stuff is essential for a new baby, even though most of us turned out okay with a fraction of those things." (95)

"In talking about why women were upset about the ads [ads from the American Society of Reproductive Medicine featuring the words "Advancing age decreases your ability to have children" under an upside-down bottle dripping sand granules towards the nipple] magazines like TIME publicized the campaign's implication: your fertility has limitations. Just ask the director of the largest fertility clinic in San Francisco. 'Most of the women who come in here are healthy...they're here because they are forty.' " (86)

"Remarkably few women realize in the 20s that their fertility begins a decline at age 27 that quickens after 35 and plummets after 40. And how many men even think about their fertility beginning to dwindle starting at age 35? For those couples who do conceive naturally, many report not having as many children as they would have like to." (88)

" 'Of all the explosive subjects in America today, non is as cordoned off, as surrounded by rhetorical landmines, as the question of whether and just how much children need their parents--especially their mothers. In an age littered with discarded taboos, this one in particular remains virtually untouched...For decades everything about the unfettered woman-her opportunities, her anxieties, her having of not having it all has been dissected to the smallest detail...the ideological spotlight remains the same: It is on the grown woman and what they need and want.' " ( Eberstadt qtd. in Watters 118-119)

" 'So far as I know, there has never been a poll done on three and four-year olds, but if there were, I doubt the majority would say they are "happier" and "better off" with their mothers away all day....A six-year old is indifferent to the arguments of why it is important for women to be in the office, rather than at home. What children understand is what they experience, vividly, every day, moment to moment; and for thousands of children who are placed in full-time care before they have learned how to express their first smile, that is the inexplicable loss of the person whom they love most in the world.' " (Critterden qtd in Watters (119)

"Oh that God would give every mother a vision of the glory and splendor of the work that is given to her when a babe is placed in her bosom to be nursed and trained! Could she have but one glimpse into the future of that life as it reaches on into eternity; could she be made to understand her own personal responsibility for the training of this child, for the development of its life and for the destiny --she would see that in all God's world there is no other work so noble and so worthy of her best powers, and she would commit to no other hands the sacred and holy trust given to her." (121)

I appreciate that Steve & Candace Watters discuss finances in detail. I have often found myself lamenting the fact that I can't build the "cutest" nursery for each baby because we don't have the funds. I recently saw a post about a cute nursery that the couple called "budget" because it only came to about $800. I laugh because Madeleine's nursery was free. A hand-me down crib. An oversized filing cabinet as a changing table. A wheeled printer desk as a changing station and lovely gifts from my family including a rocker and her "Jungle Babies" bedding & linens. Keegan also made me some lovely fabric covered letters that decorate the wall. I find myself mentally limiting what we, and God can do because we live in a small(1200sqft), overcrowded (2 adulst, 2 babies, 2 dogs, 2 cats) house. But that is when I forget, it's not about the nursery, it's about the newborn. And I think this is just more and more of our culture twisting my mind to desire self. It started with weddings; do you remember the last cake and punch wedding you went to where the wedding cost under $2000? Today's weddings are grandiose events that take years to plan...and sometimes that planning and the vision become so consuming that the bride doesn't even realize that the person whom she chose may not be the one for her at all. Because she is worried more about her dress and the venue than his heart and their growth in Christ. This explosion in making everything "an event" (yes, I'm speaking to myself- I am planning MJ's 1st b-day too) is only fueled by gorgeous Martha Stewart photo spreads and design blogs that make everything so pristine, beautiful and "perfect". This perfectness ideology has translated to the baby industry where parents deck their kids' rooms out in expensive and new stuff. Why? Kids bang on things, they throw stuff, they are messy and destructive until they are trained, and even a well-behaved kid may tear a page or two in a book or drop juice on the floor. Even perfect little Madeleine likes taking our cup coasters and playing with them on our coffee table (another hand-me-down). I struggle, and it's my heart- when I see lovely homes and organized nurseries and lots of space and playrooms and stuff because I don't have that, and I can't afford to duplicate it. Even at Target, items add up. I would just hate to limit my desire for kids because I felt that I couldn't give them the lifestyle our culture claims they "need". Does that make sense?
So, I've been thinking about this a LOT, and I really have a burden about it because I see so many young people getting married or contemplating marriage and I really want to say to them "Hey, have you thought about kids? You should talk a lot about kids because the amount of time you'll be married WITH kids far outweighs the amount of time you'll be married WITHOUT kids." Children can really change your lifestyle, and I hate to see young women bury themselves under school or consumer debt in such a way that they are required to work into marriage. Then they postpone kids because they cannot afford them due to debt. Does anyone see this vicious cycle? Or, they amass such a luxurious lifestyle on a double-income that the inertia of maintaining that high-budget blitz for adults-only never allows room for children.

I would also tell them to think about the purpose of marriage. What does being married allow you to do that dating doesn't? For godly couples: sex. What is the purpose of sex? Again, the world has skewed our thinking to believe that it is about mindlessly engaging in passionate sexual acts that are fun, exciting, and pleasurable with no thought to the biological and functional outcome of intercourse. I mean, isn't that what the Pill allows you to do? You don't have to think about getting pregnant, you don't have to be conscience of the idea that when you engage in intercourse you might become pregnant. The pill and iuds and other chemical forms of birth control allow the annoyance of tracking and being aware of your fertility to fade into the background. How many young women are conscience of their fertility, cycles and ovulation? It seems to only become a focus when couples want to conceive, yet cannot. So, for the majority it becomes anywhere, anytime, no thinking- just sex. But God did not want us to be mindless about our sexuality. He wanted us to be engaged- to be conscience- to be aware of His purposes for our passion. And believe me, there can be passion! It doesn't have to be one or the other either. I am fully aware of my fertility and my cycles, and also have exciting, fun, pleasurable romps on a very regular basis (was that TMI?). And as I've said before in another post, the same attitudes that leads an ungodly person to seek abortion is the same attitude of the ungodly who seeks to disregard God's intention for sex regarding procreation: "We're not ready"; "We're so young"; "We have to finish school"; "We have to establish ourselves"; "We'd like to buy a house first"; "We don't want a baby yet"; "We can't afford it"; "We want to have our own adventures first"; "We can't handle more than two or three or x..."; "We have plenty of time" (so you hope). All these statements are about me, me, me. They involve no sacrifice, and as every parent knows, children demand sacrifice. These thoughts are of the same Spirit which drives a woman to abort her child. Read them again with abortion as the end in mind this time.

I do not understand why more time isn't spent with engaged couples on their desires for family, their planning with family in mind and godly views on birth control options. I really want to tell young engaged couples: don't put it off. Have kids in the Springtime of your youth, when you have the energy and drive and stamina to discipline and train and play and enjoy your kids. Don't put it off in hopes of attaining a lifestyle that makes you feel comfortable, because if you wait until you are "ready" for kids, you'll never be ready. Don't cheat yourself and your own parents out of long, beautiful, and plentiful years with children. Not one person leaves this earth saying "Gee, I wish I had acquired more things and had fewer kids." God created marriage for the begetting of offspring. He was looking to create a nation, a people, a royal kingdom from families. That is why Christ is the Bridegroom and we are the bride- every Christian is an adopted CHILD- we know this!!!!! Why have we taken on the world's attitude toward children and marriage? How can we ever, as a godly man or woman say to another Christian: "Seek your own desires, then have kids."? If you have the chance to counsel engaged Christians, challenge them with what the Bible says about children, and why they might be postponing at all.

Psalm 127:3-5
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one's youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

Deuteronomy 7:14
You shall be blessed above all peoples. There shall not be male or female barren among you or among your livestock.

Malachi 2:15
Didn’t the LORD make you one with your wife? In body and spirit you are His. And what does he want? Godly children from your union. So guard your heart; remain loyal to the wife of your youth.(NLT)

Love, Lauren

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Spring Yard Work Phase 2: Concrete

Phase 2 consisted of removing all the dirt we had dug out of the back. Jeff Landis graciously helped us load it into a trailer and dump it at his house for free!!! He needed the fill dirt and we didn't want to have to pay to dispose of it. I also didn't want to shovel it all by hand; I spent about two hours one morning with my brother Jared hand shoveling dirt into a dump trailer and it was only fun for about half an hour. I wanted to help out as much as I could, but pregnancy limits what I can do a little bit more.
Jeff removes the dirt in a small fraction of the time:
Dan Arthur of Arthur Masonry lays our concrete and brickwork to match.

The last phase of fencing is still not done (I need to complete the stain) but I'll post what Tim and his dad, Gary, completed.

Spring Yard Work Phase 1: Prepping for concrete

It's just that time of year when people get out into the sunshine to work on their homes. For us, it was no exception. Starting back in March, we began working on our yard to make it child-safe. It's been a long process, and it still isn't done, but here's what we've done so far:

This is the home when Tim was purchasing it back in 2005, the owner was a retired marine and spent lots of time meticulously manicuring the yards:

Here is the home in 2007. The landscape has not been maintained as scrupulously, but it still looks nice- maybe a little overgrown:
Here is the home in 2009, right before (like three days) before Madeleine was born, the fence is getting run down and the landscape has grown enormous (and so have I) over the 4 years Tim has owned the property:
Another June 2009 shot, the yard looks pretty good, green and flowery:
We knew we needed to add a pool fence for our kids to keep them from drowning. Then we realized that a pool fence around this pool would feel too enclosed, so we decided to rip out all the landscaping and concrete it to make a deck area. Once we got the deck in, the fence would be exposed, so we decided to build a new one. This is how it went:
What do you think, does this face make him look tough?
At least Sima found a cool spot in the shade while the rest of us worked tearing out landscape and dirt.

All in all, it was about 6 yards of dirt and two trees later that we were finally ready to pour concrete. On to Phase 2!

Friday, May 7, 2010


Oh, how do I describe the wonder of this morning!!! After a morning nap, I lifted Madeleine out of the crib with smiles and waves to the animals on her curtain valance, "Hello, Elephant," and a "goodbye Lion" as she waved to them from outside the room. We served a fresh and wonderful second breakfast, she worked on strawberries, avocado, sweet potatoes and cheese as I cleaned the kitchen. I played some worship and we danced around, laughing and enjoying every second of being mother and daughter. I had the entire kitchen cleaned and heated up some leftover lunch for myself. I took some beans and corn, smothered them over soy chorizo and wrapped them with cheese in a huge burrito tortilla. Oh, the delicious yumminess of it was so enjoyable. I savored every bite and continued to nibble here and there as I worked in the kitchen and sang with Mads. A song came on with the lyrics "la la la" and she joined in- she loves singing la la. I swooped her up out of her chair and swung her around laughing and sqeauling. The worship song made me think of heaven and rejoicing before the throne. I buried my face into her neck and she laughed and laughed as I cried a little to the thought that this is how Almighty God feels about His children!! This is what heaven will be like when we'll be dancing in worship to God, being swung around in the innocent, utter joy of being in His arms, tenderly loved and affectionately cared for. It made me cry a little. We pranced down the hallway to her nursery to change her into play clothes and we had more silly fun as I raspberried her tummy and sucked on her bink (pacifier)to her delight. (She never uses it, but likes to see me use it). We were so relishing all this time of tender nothings. I hugged her and kissed her to the playroom where I set her down, my thoughts now turning to my own lunch and enjoying it while playing with her.
Oh, how can I explain all the frustration of this morning. I knew I had placed my burrito on the island, so I was surprised and dismayed when it was gone. I saw Roscoe slinking out of the kitchen and Sima skulking into the playroom. That is when the storm of rage hit me. In that moment, I absolutely hated my dogs. I wanted to take the safety stick we place in the door at night and beat them mercilessly. They had eaten my lunch!! They had stolen from me and my Peanut the satisfaction of a lovely and nourishing lunch. I wanted to kill. I chased them outside and told them they were bad. I locked them outside and looked for a new lunch, but nothing looked as good as I knew the burrito was. I sulked into the playroom with Mads. I heard the most annoying scratch at the door, twice, and I decided to no longer live under the Spirit's control and give into my murderous rage to beat Sima senseless. I stood Mads by her walker shopping cart telling her I would be right back. I picked up the stick as I headed out the door and ran after them telling them to stay away. At this point in time I heard Madeleine screaming from the inside of the house. I ran inside with my heart racing and found her on her tummy, holding onto the shopping cart handle. She had fallen and was not too happy. I picked her up and held her; I was so upset with everything. My glorious day had been turned dour because of those dogs. I was raging on the inside; I reached for my phone to call my mom, I was going to ask her to come get the dogs since I was about the hurt them. It was at that moment that God allowed Tim to call. I picked up the phone with one hand, and in the other held my crying baby. I started crying too. After pouring out my whole heart to him and telling him how horrible this all was because I had prayed to specifically live under the Spirit today and not do anything unless guided by him, I was struggling to be honoring to God regarding those dogs. It was at this time that I remembered what I wrote to an answer in the CBS Genesis study. There is no "bad" or "good" when you are God's. There is only godly or ungodly responses. Tim helped me to see that if I let the dogs ruin my day that it would be an ungodly response to this situation. God knew the dogs would eat my burrito (okay that makes me laugh too) and God knew Mads would fall and cry. I just didn't know how I would respond to these little trials. I wasn't perfect, but I didn't beat my dogs and I didn't turn my frustration towards Madeleine or Tim.

Joy and Sorrow, all in the span of a half hour. I hope this makes you laugh. And if there was ever a word to the wise I can speak:


okay, and if anyone wants two dogs or two me.