Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Rain, Rain Go Away

It's raining. Again. And the forecast is for rain all week. Is it just me, or is this the wettest, rainiest summer ever? Blurg.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Photographic Interference

Is it bad that I just wanted a picture of Annie last Sunday morning? Apparently Henry thought so, because he was fighting tooth and nail to be in every picture I took:


... still trying...

...getting closer...


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wily Coyote

Conversation at Dinner:

Henry: I want Sprite.

Me: You have to eat everything on your plate first. (For the record, the contents of said plate included 4 pieces of shredded cheese and 3 chocolate teddy grahams).

Henry (whining): But I want Sprite.

Me: You may have Sprite when your plate is empty.

(Henry picks up his plate and heads for the garbage can)

Me: No, Henry, that food has to be eaten.

Henry (looking pleadingly at Bubba): Do you want to eat this?

Bubba: No, Henry. You have to eat it.

Henry: I want Sprite!

Bubba: You can have Sprite when your plate is empty.

(Henry dumps the contents of the plate on to the floor).

Bubba: Henry, pick up that food.

Henry: No!

Bubba: I don't want to see that food on the floor.

(Henry picks up his blanket and covers the food with it.)

Henry (innocently): Can I have Sprite now?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Seriously so blessed....

We were lucky to have Annie baby's blessing while we were in Utah. Pictured are the men who stood in the circle: my brother Scott (aka mic-holder), my Dad, Bubs, my father-in-law Lyle, and brother-in-law Geoffrey. Bubba gave a beautiful blessing. Annie wore the same blessing dress that I and all of my sisters and my niece Cara were blessed in. Ohh.....

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

We work hard for our money

Don't lie to me. You've all had this conversation with your spouse before. You know the one, the one that attempts to determine which of you has the harder job. On Sunday morning as we were preparing for church, Bubba and I had this conversation for the umpteenth time. I had bathed myself, Henry, and Annie, had done the breakfast dishes (which included the remains of the tuna fish sandwich Henry requested), prepared the diaper bag for church, and was nursing Annie when Bubba came home from his morning meeting and wondered why we weren't ready to go. A perfect scenario for another round of the "who has it worse off" game. Bubba said something interesting this time - I kid you not - he actually suggested that we sit down and try to quantify which of us actually works more hours each week.

So, in preparation for this meeting, I've been trying to determine how, exactly, to convert our respective tasks into a common unit for comparison. Would changing 5 dirty diapers be the equivalent of writing 1 brief? Does controlling a temper tantrum in public equal the taking of one deposition? What about loading 2 children into car seats, then into the grocery store, then maintaining possession of said children whilst frantically filling cart with foodstuffs, then loading kids back in the car (this time with 47 bags of groceries), then carrying the whole lot up a flight of stairs? What unit of work, my dear Bubba, is that equal to?

Of course, it's not really possible to determine who has the hardest job, because there are so many unquantifiable aspects to each of our roles. And even if we could determine which role is more difficult, what really would be the point? I suppose this conversation arises because we both want to feel validated, we both want our efforts to be recognized, we each want the other to acknowledge that we both do difficult and trying things each day.

I think that constantly bemoaning all the hard things I do as a mother is the wrong way to go about parenthood. When I look back on my childhood, I don't remember my mom complaining about how hard her lot was. I remember her pretending to be a beautician when she curled my hair in the morning, and making rice krispie treats and chocolate chip cookies for my sack lunch, and cheerfully working in the garden.

It reminds me of a quote I love from The Painted Veil: "Remember that it is nothing to do your duty, that it is demanded of you and is no more meritorious than to wash your hands when they are dirty; the only thing that counts is the love of duty; when love and duty are one, then grace is in you and you will enjoy a happiness which passes all understanding."

So next Sunday when Henry requests a tuna fish sandwich for breakfast and I struggle to find a skirt that I can fit into, I hope instead of tallying up the hours of work I will just smile and love it.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Life with Annie

Anne Lauren Karras was born March 1. She weighed 7lbs 2 oz and was 19 1/2 inches long. She is the sweetest little baby imaginable. She has made the transition from 1 to 2 children very easy for me. Even still, having a new-born is definitely draining! I feel like my mind is running very slowly... I am still negotiating life with 2 and trying to figure out what my new "normal" will be. More pictures of the babe:

1 Day Old
1 Week Old

2 Weeks Old

4 Weeks Old

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pretty in Pink

I know... it's been awhile. Blogging has been a low priority... But, here is a picture I took of Annie today. The dress she is wearing was a hand-made gift from my Aunt Ione. Annie is such a sweet baby and is doing well. More to follow...

Friday, February 27, 2009

Henry Said

Men and women have different styles of conversing, to be sure, but

toddlers take the difference to a whole other level. Henry has said some funny things this week. Among them:
-Bubba and I were talking about potty training. Henry was listening, and said eagerly, "I want to go on the potty train!"
-Henry has been a little obsessed with the movie Wall-E. So I guess it wasn't surprising that, when we dropped Bubba off at work and Bubba told Henry to "Be nice to mommy," Henry responded with ,"Be nice to Wall-E."
-Yesterday Henry volunteered to say the blessing for breakfast. It was hard to make out exactly what he was praying for, although I did hear the phrases "astronauts in space" and "Lightening McQueen on the road."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

He said, She said

From The Dangerous Book for Boys comes some apt advice for boys in regards to talking to girls: "Remember that girls are as nervous around you as you are around them, if you can imagine such a thing. They think and act rather differently to you, but without them life would be one long football locker room."

Bubba and I got over conversational nervousness a long time ago - but we still do think and act rather differently from each other. And sometimes, I think that Bubba forgets that when talking to me, he's not in the locker room, and I forget that I'm not in the midst of playing "Girl Talk" with my friends. Take, for example, our recent exchanges:

He says: I read a really interesting Paul Krugman article today.

She says: The baby has been kicking like crazy.

He says: I'd like to learn more about Keynsian economics.

She says: I wonder if we should buy a new bouncy chair for the baby.

He says: I'm curious to see how effective the economic stimulus plan will be.

She says: I'm hungry.

He says: I can't believe you don't care about the economic crisis!

She says: I can't believe you don't care about the baby!

For me, my pregnancy is the most important, pressing issue in my life right now, and so naturally it's what I want to talk about. For Bubba, the state of the economy is the most important, pressing issue in the whole world right now, and so naturally it's what he wants to talk about. And I know it's a generalization, but it does seem that women want to talk about internal, personal issues and men want to talk about external, impersonal issues. And that's not all bad. In fact, it's probably a good thing. We can help balance each other out, so instead of being stuck on opposite ends of the internal/external spectrum, we both end up somewhere closer to the middle.

Still, sometimes it's hard to get the conversational teeter-totter to balance. Take, for example, the game of 20 questions Bubba and I played on a trip to Des Moines. Neither one of us were able to guess the correct answer in 20 questions - even though we both hinted that it was something "really easy and obvious." And in hindsight, both answers were. And what were these really easy and obvious answers? Bubba's - the stimulus bill. Mine - an umbilical cord.

I don't know what is located between the football locker room and a rousing game of "Girl Talk," but if you do, let us know. I think if Bubba and I could meet there, we could have a really good conversation.

Friday, February 13, 2009

If only...

Driving Bubba to work yesterday, I passed this White Castle, and suddenly, I knew exactly what I want to do for Valentines Day. Is White Castle classy? You bet. Romantic? Not a doubt. I just hope they still have a table left...

Sorry, Geoff, hope this doesn't make you jealous. I guess this year you and Traci will just have to settle for Woody's again.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Motherhood Induced Schizophrenia

In the form of novelist Stephenie Meyer, about two things I am absolutely certain: I desperately don't want to be pregnant anymore. And I'm absolutely terrified to have another baby. I'm starting to find that motherhood is producing these diametrically opposed feelings more and more often. One moment I am blissfully dreaming about how sweet it will be to have a little baby girl, and the next I am panicked about how I will balance Henry's demands to play cars, the baby's demands to be fed, and my demands to shower and sleep. (Note: Bubba's demands are definitely an afterthought).

Motherhood may be unique in its ability to fracture a seemingly normal woman into Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I've definitely experienced ups and downs in other realms of my life - but the ups and downs of marriage or work are nothing compared to the rollercoaster ride of motherhood. I can go from entirely loving motherhood (watching Henry's pure joy in pushing a shopping cart), to completely loathing it (watching in pure terror as Henry knocks down a grocery store display), and back to entirely loving it again (watching Henry's sweet face as he apologizes) - all in the course of one shopping trip. Similar scenarios are played and replayed several times a day.

I suppose one reason for the conflicting feelings that motherhood produces is that motherhood itself has inherent contrasts. I am at once a guardian of a child of God and a janitor responsible for dirty diapers, clothes, and bodies. I am at once the vessel of a new life and lumbering, large, and awkward. I endure both temper tantrums and endless hugs; I experience both drudgery and boundless wonder; I feel the greatest frustration and the deepest love.

I am hoping that my pregnancy has amplified my swinging moods. Henry has definitely noticed my strange behaviour and, seeking a barometer of my moods, will often tentatively ask, "Mommy happy?" He asked this the other day when, in an attempt to take a much needed rest, I foolishly supplied him with a cookie sheet full of flour for him to use to play with his toy diggers. I congratulated myself on my ingenuity as I lay down on the bed, and Henry was busily distracted for nearly half an hour. When I went to check on him in the kitchen, I found that it is certainly not a wise idea to leave a 2 year old alone with a small mountain of flour. Henry noticed my crestfallen face as I observed the disaster in the kitchen and asked, quietly, "Mommy happy?"

My answer to that question now is certainly different then it was at the time, but as I think of my little Henry, his incredibly beautiful face and his boundless curiosity and energy, I'd have to say that yes, Henry, Mommy's happy. A little crazy, but happy.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Book Report

I am always looking for a good book to read. My friend Stacy and I were talking about this the other night, and promised to share our recommendations with each other. So Stacy, this post was inspired by you. Here are some books I've really enjoyed reading:

The Good Earth by Pearl Buck

A wonderful classic that I sadly hadn't heard of until it made it on Oprah's book club. Thanks, Oprah. The tale of Wang Lung and O-lan trying to make a life in pre-industrial China was so engaging and so moving.

Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton

Okay, is this another Oprah book? Maybe. A beautiful story of forgiveness and redemption. If you didn't have to read it in high school, read it now.

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

An unusual, powerful story about a boy learning to cope after he loses his father in the 9-11 attacks.

The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman

Non-fiction. I struggle with non-fiction, but I found this discussion about how technology is making the world smaller very interesting.

Wild Swans by Jung Chang

More non-fiction. But one of those books that proves that real life is stranger (and more horrific) than fiction. An autobiography of sorts of 3 generations of women living in China.

In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez

A historical fiction based on the lives of the Mirabel sisters who participated in an underground plot to overthrow the Dominican Republic's dictator.

The Street by Ann Petry

A powerful, engaging but ultimately tragic story about a single black woman raising a son during the 1940s. I heard about this book on NPR, and I think it is one of the best books I have ever read. The story is compelling, heart-wrenching, powerful.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

This book is a nice contrast to The Street - it is also about an impoverished family trying to survive, but is more hopeful and optimistic.

Life of Pi by Yann Matel

A story about a boy stranded on a life-boat with a tiger, and also a story about faith, God, and religion.

My Antonia by Willa Cather

The story of several immigrant families who move to rural Nebraska to start new lives for themselves. Kind of like Little House on the Prairie for grown-ups.

Okay, that's my list. What's yours?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Then and Now

Me, approx. 10 weeks pregnant

Me, today, approx 35 weeks pregnant

What a difference 25 weeks can make!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Bird Imitations and Other Non-Sequiturs

Every now and then, my dad will respond to something by saying, "That's it? Bird Imitations?" For a long time this response completely bewildered me, but, not wanting to be rude, I would just smile and nod. Finally, I learned that this baffling response was actually the punch line to a joke my dad knows, and that, in the context of the joke, it is used to express an underwhelmed attitude toward something rather extraordinary.

My dad is not alone in making references to outside material in everyday conversation. I've noticed that I do it a lot. Most of these references are to movie or television lines, and it is always delightful when an opportunity to fit one of these lines into conversation arises. Bubba and I have several lines we frequently use. Among our favorites: "That's why he's the judge and I'm the law talking guy", "You'll make a fine little helper, what's your name?", "It's already won the Pulitzer Prize, and it hasn't even been pooblished", "That just happened", "60 percent of the time, it works everytime", "Your mom goes to college", "Milk was a bad choice", "He's proud of his town."

If you recognize any of these lines, I bet you're smiling right now. If you don't recognize these lines, you're probably bored out of your mind. And that's the danger in incorporating an outside reference in everyday conversation - context is important. If your audience doesn't understand the context of the line you're quoting, confusion is inevitable.

This is why, on a trip to the grocery store with my in-laws, it wasn't wise of me to use the tag line from a Tostitos commercial when we were discussing where to meet up. For whatever reason, the situation prompted me to throw out the slogan "Meet you at the Tostitos," even though I had no intention of converging in the chip aisle. When Bubba suggested we head to the chip aisle after we had purchased our groceries, I knew I had violated a cardinal rule of quoting a line in a conversation.

The moral of this post: quote carefully, and know your audience.

That being said, what are some of your favorite lines?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Beyond Elementary

Who would have thought that having a college degree could come in handy as a stay-at-home mom? This week I've been grateful to have some knowledge of subjects way beyond an elementary school level. For example...

CIVICS - This subject helped me identify Henry's incorrect response to the question :"What will you do when your baby sister comes?" Among his answers were: A) Kiss her , B) Hold her, C) Push her down . Obviously, "C" was the incorrect answer. Now if only I can convince Henry of that...

NUTRITION AND FOOD SCIENCE - This subject helped me prepare a diet for Henry that resembles the Food Pyramid formerly found on the back of cereal boxes. Lets see... I think all of the groups are covered - Crunch Berries, Wheat Thins, and Ritz Bits. Finish it all off with an Oreo Cookie and Henry's good health is basically guaranteed.

LITERARY THEORY - This subject allowed me to save minutes of time when Henry selected a very wordy book from the library. My impressive knowledge of literary structure and form allowed me to reduce 3 paragraphs to a mere one sentence without compromising the content of the text.

Reasoning and Rational Decision Making - This subject allowed me to extricate Henry from the toy aisle of Target by reasonably explaining to him that we did not need to add another toy to the mountain he received at Christmas. This reasoning clearly worked, as we were able to exit the store that day. Unfortunately, said exit was preceded by a wild chase down the aisles, severe crying, and me balancing Henry precariously on my pregnant belly while also navigating the shopping cart.

GEOMETRY - This subject came in handy when, after a quick trip to the basement to do the laundry, I arrived at our apartment door to find that Henry had decided to lock the deadbolt. My re entrance to our apartment was much aided by repeated requests for Henry to look for the "top circle" and to turn the "line." After several minutes of these geometric commands, the line was finally turned and Henry and I enjoyed a sweet reunion. Just for the record, it was found that hysterical yelling and kicking of the door were ineffective methods for re entrance.

I don't know. After this week, I'm beginning to think I may need an advanced degree.

Friday, January 9, 2009

On second thought....

Now that my blog is private, I was really, really tempted to post a picture of Bubba that is a little scandalous... but my conscience got the best of me. And no, Chelsea, Bubba is not a never-nude. But I wouldn't mind seeing him in a pair of really short jean cut-offs, like these:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009


So...we all knew this day would come. Or not. But, I have decided to make my blog private. This decision was reached primarily for 2 reasons: 1) I have mild concerns about on-line predators. Although, if I do have an on-line lurker, s/he probably accounts for 1 of the 3 readers of this blog. 2) I really, really want to post more pictures like this, expect with less clothing:

So... if I have your email, expect an invitation. If I don't have your email address and you'd like an invitation, please email me at or leave your email in the comments. Thanks!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Imagination ran away with a spoon

This morning Henry, who has recently taken occupancy in our bed at night, woke us up by excitedly asking, "What's that spoon doing?". Bleary eyed, I asked him, "What spoon?" "That funny spoon," he said, "lets catch him." Further questioning brought forth even more bizarre comments from Henry, such as "spoon has legs and feet" and "spoon going out the window." I think he knew we were beginning to understand him when we asked about the dish and the cow jumping over the moon. "Lets get that cow," he said. We opted for reading him nursery rhymes from "My First Mother Goose" instead.