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Saturday, December 25, 2010
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Oregonians have some kind of aversion to umbrellas. Ironic considering the annual rainfall amount. We all seem to fear that if caught under an umbrella we'll be scoffed at and labeled "out-of-towners." The funny thing is that that's probably a logical fear. Somehow, at some point in time it became part of the Oregonian culture (especially northern Oregon) to brave wind, rain and sleet with nothing but a haphazard hood; and do it proudly without complaint. No matter the weather, it never occurs to me to grab an umbrella; in fact, here's a confession: I don't own one. I live in Salem, Oregon where we get an average of 150 days of rain a year and I don't even own an umbrella.
It's been exceptionally wet here lately and it has left us with nothing to do but go on with life as though it weren't raining miserably at all. We kept waiting for a "dry" day (and by this we never even meant "dry" in the literal sense, we just meant not deafening downpours) to do things like hang Christmas lights and visit the Christmas display at the zoo. "Dry" has yet to come, so we did what any good Oregonian would do and we hung our Christmas lights in a sideways downpour. Elias, clad in rain boots and a ski jacket, came with us. Yes, I let my son play outside during a rainstorm. Yes, he wound up face first in the gutter and came up sputtering with a smile, "Wawa!" (we're currently praying against parasites, or anything else he may have contracted from a face-full of gutter water). Yes, I questioned my parenting choice multiple times during our soggy escapade, but he was thrilled to puddle stomp and completely oblivious to the cold. Wise or poor choice, I'm still not sure, but I do know that there's no avoiding having rain as a Christmas tradition along with our tree and Christmas lights as long as we call Salem "home."
Side note: As I write this, my television is flashing images of a tornado that just hit about 30 miles from my house. I was in no way exaggerating when I said our weather has been insane lately! A tornado in Oregon...who knew?
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Elias and I went to the library today for story time, a sweet 30 minutes of toddlers bouncing off of one another like particles in a microwave through stories and songs with hand motions. Elias always tries to climb into the story-teller's lap--he's always rejected. Too many kids, not enough laps. The "event" of this morning, however, did not happen during story time. It happened afterward in the activity room. The theme this month is "Things that Go"--an entire room full of cars, airplanes, helicopters, cars, and cars...it's my son's dream space.
A little necessary backstory: I worry about my son. I worry because in all his little classrooms: at church and at our mommy group, he's the biggest kid in his class, hands down. He is usually about four inches taller and packing a good amount more girth than every other child his age, so he seems to have acquired a bit of a giant's complex. He rules the room with an iron fist. He takes toys from smaller more unsuspecting children and they wisely don't fight back. Most stand in shock and move on after some consideration, only the brave (or excessively tir
ed) dare to cry in his wake. I've found myself sadistically hoping that he'd try something like that on an older, bigger kid so that maybe some kid justice could prevail and he'd be taught a lesson the natural way. I hope this because no amount of chastising from me has steeped his giant's complex. So, as terrible as it sounds, I've been lying in wait for the moment that a two
or three-year-old teaches my son what I have been unable to: bullying is not nice! I thought my moment had come today. I was wrong.
Elias was happily playing with some match-box cars on a table with a pretty elaborate road set up on it. He was, of course, playing with the red car because all red cars are Lightning McQueen from Pixar's Cars. He'd been successfully fending other kids off of the fake McQueen for over 20 minutes when a bigger, older kid approached to dethrone him. Big Older Kid had another thing coming. Big Older Kid snatched the car from Elias and turned to run only to be fully tackled from behind, arms wrapped around him in a vice, and taken to the ground like a trained linebacker. One Tarzan-like yell and my son took down a three-year-old little boy who was a whole head taller than him.I fear that had I not wrenched him off of Big Older Kid, he may have stood on top of him beating his chest and declaring himself King of the Mountain...or the playroom. All hyperbole aside, mothers gasped and froze who witnessed my child attack and destroy the McQueen thief and I have no idea what I did or said to Elias, I only know that we left. Right then and there. We were out, fast as Lightning McQueen himself.
So now what? Kid justice failed and my son still thinks he runs the world. He seems only to know Elias justice, no matter what I do. On the way home I was suddenly reminded of the prayers I prayed over him when he was in the womb: for strength, and leadership, and fearlessness. Today, I can't for the life of me remember if I added any clauses in that included wisdom or compassion. Strike one, Mom.
Halfway home I turned around and my heavy-eyed little boy blew me a kiss and smiled impishly from his carseat. Another calculated move. Well executed, son. You still have my heart, even if you have gotten us banned from the library playroom.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
My son has hidden his tennis shoes. He's done a fine job of it too, because they have been unfindable for four days now. I'm a relatively intelligent adult and I have no idea where he's placed them. I'm beginning to understand that this may have been entirely intentional. I saw him go downstairs with them one day and come back up without them. I assumed that he'd "put them to bed" because this is what he does with most everything else. He hurls things like stuffed animals, race cars, sippy cups and all articles of clothing from his top drawer over the side of his crib, laying them to rest in heaps like a tiny junkyard--thereby "putting them to bed." His shoes never went to bed. They didn't go to the book bin, or the stuffed animal box, or his dresser, or my dresser, or the bathtub, or the dryer, or the creepy closet under my stairs that smells like a nursing home no matter what I do. I've exhausted all his hiding places and come to realize that he's evolving and adapting his schemes like the velociraptors from Jurassic Park. Every time I think I'm ahead, he one-ups me. Some days it's all I can do not to be eaten alive.
Joke's on you, Elias. Now you're stuck wearing Converse AllStars in the pouring down rain. Extra socks? Check.
Thursday, November 4, 2010
I am proud to say that my talented husband is officially touring. Elias and I delivered him and the band to PDX early Monday morning and we won't see him again until November 22. I'm thankful for two things right now: 1) Elias and I took an airplane trip to see family in S. California just a couple weeks ago, so he's familiar with the concept, 2) Elias was there to see Daddy go to the airplane. Now every day when Elias wakes up in the morning, and again when he wakes up from his nap, and again when we sit down to dinner and again when I'm tucking him in bed and he asks for his daddy, I can tell him that Daddy left on the airplane and we will go get him from the airplane when it's time. Sounds complex for a 17-month-old to wrap his mind around, but it seems to appease him most days. Now when he asks for Daddy, I can say "where is Daddy?" and he replies, "shhhhoooooo" which, for those unfamiliar with Elias-speak, is code for "airplane."
I have wonderful people who love me checking in on me with the "how are you doing?"s and the "do you need any help?"s and so far my "pretty good!"s and "no, I think we got it"s are the honest truth. I do intentional things to make time move as quickly as possible and hopefully that works for the full three weeks of husband absenteeism. I'm used to going it alone and independence has never been a sorrowful (or lonely) thing for me; what I was not prepared for was how to help my toddler "miss" someone. And not just "someone," but his very favorite "someone." He breaks my heart a little bit every morning when he calls for daddy from his crib and then has to settle for me--again.
The bright side, however, is that Logan is doing what he loves and he's serving God and people in a specific way that not many are called to do. He is so uniquely and perfectly gifted for it, too, that I can't imagine him in any other capacity. Not that he wouldn't be successful: he's one of those obnoxious folks who is good at everything they try, but I don't think anything else would fit him quite as perfectly. So, if you haven't ever had the pleasure of a Logan Martin concert, jump on his site and check out the rest of the tour dates (and a preview of one of the songs from the NEW RECORD), and if you want a laugh or to feel involved (as I SO desperately do) check out the band's video blog. And if you see him before I do, tell him that his two biggest fans couldn't be more proud of him, and we can't wait to see him.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I used to live for summer. I don't like to be cold but I do like to be outside, therefore summer equaled Erica's time of year. Not so anymore. I do adore summer time, but the older I get, the more I'm falling in love with fall. The colors in Oregon are splendid, and somehow they were lost on me until about 5 years ago. The air feels cleaner inthe fall too, crisp and fresh; it brings cider, pumpkins, hay rides, a fabulous excuse to appear in public in costume, sweet potato fries, rain boots, leaf jumping and a slew of other things that I will miss in another month or two. It's more fun now too, watching Elias discover what fall means. Fall, to Elias, now means petting zoos, picking up as many leaves from parking lots as he possibly can before we get indoors again because
maybe, just maybe, they'll be gone again when we come back out. It means going to a land of pumpkins where he gets to touch whatever he wants and even bring some pumpkins home! It means hay rides behind a tractor and it means Mommy is parking in the garage now (a whole new land to discover and explore). It means that funny looking kids show up at his door and we give away the treats that he's not allowed to eat and then these kids leave...they don't even stay to play. Having him around gives meaning
to the cliche that you learn as much from your kids as you
Seeing him discover things makes my world new again and that's such a gift. I've always
thought of myself as a kid-at-heart, but he out-kids me every day (appropriately so, I guess) and it's refreshing.
The more often he makes me play in the dirt, take a
or run instead of walk, the better I am. Sure, life seems to speed up from the second you bring a baby home and start watching them grow...faster and faster...but maybe, if you let them, they can slow life down for you every once in a while too.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I last wrote about how the miracle that is my son had been finally dawning on me. I thought about that one a lot and I think I've come to an important truth: this is the only here and now we get. That could mean a lot of things to you depending on your story and where you're at in that story, but it's a blessing for me right now.
Elias, in the beginning of his journey, when life was at it's highest and lowest for me while I struggled to celebrate the birth of my son and mourn the loss of the healthy baby I thought I was giving birth to, was already a miracle. With every low, there was a high: "he has some birth defects, but we can work on them." "He's having surgery, but it's not nearly as extensive as we thought...we'll be done in 30 minutes." "He's not recovering properly, but we can equip you and send you home to care for him." And then as the "lows" became just regular life, suddenly there was healing and the "highs" started out-numbering the "lows": "you're right, he's urinating on his own now, you can stop catheterizing him." "He has healed perfectly and there shouldn't be further issues." And then we were only returning to the Children's Hospital once a year for check-ups and we stopped feeling like they should have given us a punch-card like the corner coffee shop does: with every nine visits, get the tenth for free (oh, if only!).
He was a miracle then. God was healing him and working in him then, and while I saw it, it was like watching a Christmas celebration from outside in the cold. The party is there; it's warm and inviting and worth smiling about, but you can't quite reach it. The pain of watching my baby hurt was still too raw and unexpected to celebrate the little victories. I missed them. Ten of them still weighed less than the one big elephant in my heart labeled UNJUST, UNHEALTHY, BETRAYAL, UNCERTAINTY...I couldn't see past that elephant most of the time. Some have elephants that are heavier, bigger, that last longer or hurt deeper. I listened to parents cry in the NICU a bed over from my son's who were not getting good news. Parents who had to hear that their baby would never fully recover. I remember that mother's face, her posture, her tears. I won't forget her. My heart hurt with her then and I still think about her now, but even in that journey I pray that as her "lows": the challenges that come with her son, become just another sound in the rhythm of what life looks like for them, that she'd rest in the little victories too. Let's make it clear: I don't pretend to believe that we all find the miracles we seek in this life. Part of this emotional journey for me these past weeks has been the overwhelming understanding that I have been, my son has been, one of the privileged.
As the cliche goes, everything is clearer in hindsight. On this side of the hurt I can say that I find myself searching desperately for the silver lining in my here-and-nows. For my sake, for my family's sake, for the sake of those still seeking their miracles. I'm trying to live in the ups, the highs, the joys as much as I can. I don't succeed every day. The days, the seasons, when the downs are easier to see than the ups can still be hard, but I think the ups are easier to find when you're looking--especially because in some stages of life, they're great at playing hard-to-get. So keep looking.
Friday, October 1, 2010
A woman in my life whom I truly admire recently wrote on her blog, Chasing My Miracle (thank you, Jen, from the bottom of my heart, for sharing) a little bit about her journey with her daughter. A medical journey that was longer and more severe than my Elias' but her words and memories she shared of places we frequented and feelings I felt then, in the middle of the journey, and now in the light of the reason I too, can call my Elias my miracle were stirring for me. She captured in words what I have been resting and rejoicing in during this very week. This week, as my son who was born without the ability to expel waste from his tiny body, who underwent surgeries and subsequent tests on his G.I. tract, kidneys, bladder, anus...the necessary list of medical violations and impositions goes on...this week, my son began potty training like a regular toddler. He's young and we're trying it out, not expecting success overnight, but he's physically able to do it. We were told he might not. That statement sums his journey up wonderfully. They said he might not, but he does.
As Jen relates in her blog, I so often forget about where we started because he's perfect now. I have the luxury of forgetting! I was so struck with her words because they have been my internal dialogue this past week, and every time Elias pees on the bathroom rug or points to his Pull-Up and says "Uh-oh!" after an accident I swallow tears of joy. Thank you, God, that we made it here. Thank you for my miracle.
It has happened. It was inevitable. The first perfunctory gasp when I answered a stranger that yes, indeed, I'm not due to give birth until FEBRUARY. Thanks to my size, the way I carry, my husband's genetic predisposition to create sturdy, strapping boys that grow inside a (albeit long) petite and let's just say it: delicate frame, I will pocket nearly 100 more gasps or comments of the like over the next 19 weeks. The worst part is that they're warranted. I denied that fact the first time around, magically gazing into the mirror and simply seeing pregnant me, which was normal for me and nothing to do with some crazy pregnant-woman standard. This time, having come out the other side and looked back at pictures of what "pregnant me" actually looked like I can certainly see why that shape (reminiscent of a grape stacked on top of an orange, perched on two toothpicks) would incite rude gasps, chuckles and loud monosyllabic exclamations like "wow!", "whoa!", and "no!" That last one is one of my favorites. Really? You think I'd joke about this?
So it's begun. The season in which I try to be rubber while complete strangers throw sticks and stones at me that they haven't even realized are destructive weapons. The good news for both sides is that my skin is thicker this time around. I've emerged from denial and can almost laugh with them...at least for now. I'll check back in after 50 more shocked reactions, 15-20 more pounds of weight-gain, and 10-15 more weeks of unintentional verbal abuse. We'll see who's laughing then. Until then, when/if you see me refrain from using words like "enormous" (or any variation of it). Mostly because I'm not...yet...so you should save up or you'll run out of adjectives by the time January hits and it really is true.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
After much anticipation and more social media hype than I intended, I downed my 24oz of water (a pregnant woman's nightmare) and waited for a nurse to call us back to our ultrasound. "Interested in gender?" asked the tech, "ABSOLUTELY!" I blurted. "Do you have a preference?" she inquired. Logan explained about his overpowering Martin-ability to produce males. 3 nano-seconds later she laughed, I saw the definitive between-the-legs shot, and she said, "looks like the streak continues...it's a boy! DEFINITELY a boy. And he's not shy!" It's true, our second son bounced around spread-eagle for quite some time as if to say, "Read me loud and clear, mom, I'm NOT a girl!" I think he was mocking me. I love him already. I loved him before then, but there's something about seeing your child squirm around on an ultrasound picture that gives him a new sense of reality and permanency that can carry a mom through the last 20ish weeks until they meet face-to-face. I have a friend, whom I adore, who is walking an adoption road right now (thank you, Becca, for your insight, your honesty, and your perspective), an alternate and equally poignant journey to motherhood. I think of her now and I believe that getting a referral and seeing a picture of your child would have a similar effect. It's just knowing more about the little one that you've already given your heart to that propels you through the rest of your wait until you can hold them in your arms.
Something strange happened to me while I lie on the ultrasound table, trying to forget about my throbbing bladder: my ache for a little girl in my life was obliterated at the sight of my youngest son. Perhaps, down the road it will return, as Logan and I discuss the direction of our family, but for now, in my here-and-now, this little boy is exactly what was intended for our family. It was always him, and he's supposed to be a him. Elias is supposed to grow up with a brother. I'm supposed to be a mom of boys (maybe always, maybe for now). It was strange to realize that he's what I wanted all along, even 3 weeks ago when I was praying in Fred Meyer over the baby girl clothes that God would give me someone to put them on.
We called family to let them know we were tossing another little boy into the Martin pool and we were met with this odd, apologetic tone a lot of the time. This wracks me with guilt, so let me be clear RIGHT NOW: there is not a shred of my being that was let down when that tech giggled and I saw my baby boy. Not even a little. If God ever gives us a baby girl I will be THRILLED. If God gives us more little boys to love I will be THRILLED. In equal measure. I don't know how to explain that but it's the honest truth.
Oh, and p.s. Wal Mart lady, you were wrong.
Sunday, September 5, 2010
Two weeks from tomorrow (Sept. 20) we go for an ultrasound--THE ultrasound. The check on all the vital organs, see how he/she is growing, find out the gender ultrasound. You should know, before I go any further that having girls in this family is unheard of. Period. I have brothers, my husband has brothers, his dad has brothers, his brothers all have had multiple boys...there is NO estrogen. So, naturally, this ultrasound is highly anticipated.
"What do you want?" is one of those questions that owners of pregnant bellies hear equally as often as "How far along are you?" and it's generally the predecessor to "What are you having?" The "good mom" answer is "It doesn't matter as long as it's healthy." [Aside: I have come to despise this answer. What does that mean? That if it's not healthy you'll be dissatisfied? You'll return it like an ugly vase you got as a wedding present but never registered for? NO! You love an "unhealthy" baby the way any parent loves their child...maybe in an even more painful, transcendent way than you love a "healthy" baby! I wish P.C. women everywhere would find a new catch-phase.] Some version of that answer is what I give strangers. What I would tell you if we were friends is that we want a girl SO bad! Now, there's some honesty in the "..as long as it's healthy" answer--sort of. We know boys. We love boys. We can do boys. We would be THRILLED with another boy; however, the novelty and enigmatic qualities that seem to surround this unknown creature called "female" in the Martin family is undeniably irresistible. She's like the forbidden fruit of baby making--we just want a taste of what it's like!
Yesterday in WalMart, in an M. Night Shyamalanesque scene, a strange woman with frizzy hair and dark circles under her eyes looked my belly over and stated flatly, "So, you're having a girl next." I subconsciously stepped back and stammered "I don't know, maybe. We haven't found out yet." She just nodded, as if someone had told her something they hadn't let me in on yet. Maybe she's psychic, maybe she's gifted, maybe she's just a little nutty, but in some strange way I took it as confirmation...for the moment anyway. We'll see what the ultrasound technician finds. Frankly, I'll be shocked if they say it's a girl. I'll demand black & white proof of a tiny between-the-legs shot if they say it's a girl. In the mean time, I'm left having twisted dreams about the WalMart lady and my so-called baby girl. And I fully expect to hear, "It's a boy!" on September 20. Here's to waiting!
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Thursday, July 29, 2010
We took a trip in June to one of our favorite places in Oregon: Silver Falls. Lucky for us it's only about 20 minutes from our house--one of our favorite things about Oregon. This was Elias' first trip and as with most things in his life, this was a great adventure. We hiked some walking trails along 2 of the falls and enjoyed the view! The first of many Silver Falls trips I think.
Somehow, around age 11-12 months, my son developed an attachment to my purse. He (loudly) lost his mind when I would have to get it out in the grocery store to pay, he sought it out when we were at home, he became obsessive. So I did the only thing I could think to do and I gave it to him. I cleared everything out that I couldn't live without and it became his. It was his best friend. He took it with him everywhere, he carried it around the house, it was his pretty patent sidekick. Much to his Dad's relief, he has since moved on and now only desires my purse for the intent purpose of dumping its contents, but for a time, my rough and tough little boy carried a purse. And he wore it well. Goodbye "purse stage." Hello to a new one, perhaps.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
1 year old! It's unbelievable that it was a year ago that our little man came into the world. This year has been a long journey, but it still went so fast. Elias has come so far in that year and it is a miracle every day to watch him play and explore, rough-house, and grow is a perpetual blessing. We had so much fun with him at his birthday party and at the zoo the following day on his actual birthday that I couldn't choose what photos to post--it's too limited! To see more birthday photos you can go to the following link:
It's happened. The first big bump. Playing chase with Mommy in the living room and somehow instead of crawling behind him into the open room, he leapt to his right straight into the corner of the wall, taking the corner of the baseboards under his eye and the corner of the wall on the forehead. Ouch. Nothing a little ice and permission to play with Mommy's cell phone didn't fix, though. Probably more traumatic for Mom than for Elias. The battle wounds begin.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
First thing in the morning, Logan set out to install the new TV mount...and it took him twice as long because he had "help." This little guy is passionate about helping!
Armed with the instruction guide and his tool of choice (a baseball rattle), Elias is ready to show his Dad how it's done.
Way to go boys!
The Martins just graduated up another rung on the life-ladder and purchased their first home. It was one of the most nerve-wracking decisions I've ever had to make. Our experience was "special" in every sense of the word and every piece to the home-buying process fit so perfectly that, in actuality, it was less of a decision and more of an acceptance of our destiny, the next step in His plan, karmaic fortune, _____ fill-in-your-blank. Our "blank" is "His Plan" and so accept we did. We were in no position to buy a house. Ha! We're still in no position to buy a house and yet, I sit and type in my comfy chair from my home rather than a shell of windows and doors that someone is letting me borrow for a while; who may keep a hefty amount of my hard-earned money if I don't give it back better than I found it.
God is good. It's more than a charismatic Christian chant ("All the time!"). It's truth. Not to be mistaken for "God is safe" (thank you, C.S. Lewis) or "God is nice", or "God is happiness;" though I won't argue that He can be all those things. But He is good. God heard a girl in Salem, Oregon say that she wanted a home where her son could crawl around on the carpet and not worry about whose grime he was crawling through. He heard this girl desire a kitchen and not a hallway, a yard and not a mud-pit, and a place where her son would know stability and safety, warmth--in both body and company. This girl's list went on and on (as it usually does when she's daydreaming...or begging) and God heard it all and orchestrated everything for her. He brought the right realtor (thanks, Mia!) who knew the right homeowner with the right house, in the right neighborhood, who would take the right amount of downpayment...shall I go on?
Nope, this is not the house I've dreamed of since I was five (there's no lake here and I do not own 15 horses), but it is right here. I know peace here; in my heart, and for the safety of my family. Puzzle pieces don't fit together when they're thrown in the box, they fit when the puzzleteer places them in the correct order, in the correct direction. Logan and I were fortunate enough to have learned that by now and trusted the Puzzleteer on this one, only to watch our puzzle come together in a way that we would never have been able to put together ourselves. Amazing when He knows us better than we know ourselves.
The fact that we ever finished packing with our little one around is a miracle in itself, but it happened and we're here! We're by no means unpacked yet thanks to travel, sickness, holidays, excuses and more excuses, but we'll get there. We've never had to unpack somewhere that we plan to stay a while, so this is all new for us. You put stuff away more precisely when you know it'll be there a while. In the mean time, we're an open house anyway. Want to come over? Come on over, Reader! Welcome to the Martin abode!
Elias is crawling! We knew it was only a matter of time, but somehow I was still shocked by how different life is with a mobile child. Oh, how I long for the days of knowing exactly where my son was at all times. Now I'd need a small army task-force, cameras in all rooms, and a battalion of robots to keep track of him every second of the day. Within days of mastering crawling, he was already clambering up on the furniture and all low-level surfaces to get new perspectives and a boost to his feet. He's a handful. All the time. He keeps life crazy. And he is our joy.
"Helping" Mommy with laundry.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
When life is full, the blog suffers. Sorry. There's no way around that, but I can catch you up on what the last few months have held. Get ready for some marathon blogging...
First up: we had to say goodbye to our puppy dog in February; a sad and relieving ordeal.
Gavin was our furry first-born, but with an actual baby around he began feeling more and more neglected. He was sad all the time, not exercised enough and therefore was wreaking havoc in our yard. We adored him, but he was pretty annoyed with Elias being around and that made me nervous. Seeing that all parties would be better off apart, he went to live with some friends of ours who have older kids. He is loving life there and we're adjusting to being a sans-pet household for the first time in a long time. We'll have another dog someday when Elias is older, but for now: Goodbye, Gavin. We'll miss you!