Sunday, July 31, 2011

What's in a Name?

On occasion, there are things that Devin does or suggests that make me think he is crazy, but that eventually grow on me. (This is because he has a visionary, spontaneous, adventurous spirit while I have to take time to process, plan and analyze every little angle of each little detail.) The naming of the twins was no exception.

I didn't care for his favorite boy name when he first shared it with me (this was before we were pregnant). I didn't think he was crazy, I just didn't like the name. Problem was, Devin really, really liked the name and had since before we met. Fortunately, I ended up falling in love with his name, he ended up really liking my "always been a favorite" middle name and -voila!- we unofficially had a boy name should we ever have a son (which, of course, we did - times two).

Then, we discovered we were pregnant with twins boys and the task of finding a second boy name (and a middle name) that we could both agree on and that sounded good with the previously elected name became... shall we say, challenging? Emotional? Tension-filled? Take your pick- they were all there at one time or another during the early stages of the process.

The Process: For about a week, we separately poured over thousands of baby names (until I was just about really to poke my eyeballs out) and each made a list of our favorites.

The Criteria: Strong, solid names that weren't too common, but not so unique that they couldn't be taken seriously in a boardroom. (This is how we felt about the first baby name we had picked.)

The Moment of Truth: We compared lists. My list was short, Devin's list was about three times as long. Between us, there was only one name that appeared on both lists and I was baffled by some of Devin's name choices. Apparently, our definitions of "strong and solid" were completely different (he didn't like my name choices either by the way). I honestly wondered how on earth we would ever pick the second twin's name. It seemed our preferences were so at odds that I would either have a very disappointed husband when I refused to choose one of his recommend names, or I would have a son whose name I would quickly mumble upon every new introduction out of sheer embarrassment.

There was one name in particular, Devin's top choice for a middle name, that was so poorly received by me that it was scratched out beyond recognition on the sheet of paper where it lay. But the more I stared at that scribble of ink, the more I thought about the name and why Devin liked it so much, the more I started to be attracted to it. Before I knew it, I had agreed to this "crazy" middle name and liked it more than any of the other three names we had (finally) decided on. Miracle upon miracle - our boys had names that we both really loved! (By this point the process had become really fun and we couldn't help but grin when we whispered our secret names to our little buns in the oven.)

Then Devin proclaimed that he might want to wait until the boys were born to announce their names - which I thought was completely ridiculous. However, the more we talked about how much that decision meant to Devin, the more I realized the idea didn't really bother me. (Isn't it strange how often we hang on to something, not because it's necessarily what we want, but because that's just not the way we are used to having things done?) I agreed that we would announce the names whenever Devin decided the time was right and I was genuinely content to wait until the birth. (Some friends and family were a little less eager to wait that long and tried very hard (::ahem:: Megan) to wriggle it out of us.)

Recently though, Devin came to the conclusion that he was just too excited about the names and wanted to share them pre-birth after all. So at my birthday dinner this past weekend, we did just that!

Hmm... this post has gotten much longer than intended, so I'll save the name announcement for tomorrow. (Don't hate me too much...)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Goal #47 COMPLETE: 1.21 Gigawatts of Fun

More progress on my Project 101 in 1001 list. Read about my journey here. 

Goal #47 - Have a "Back to the Future" party with friends and watch all three movies in one day. COMPLETE 

I've always been a big fan of these movies, but I've never watched them consecutively and I thought this would be an entertaining goal to complete with a few friends. (On a list of 101 goals, I've got to give myself a few that are 100% frivolous and fun.) We had a great time watching these classic (and still very funny) films while enjoying pizza, popcorn, brownies, donuts and - Great Scott! - home-brewed beer made by our friend Martin. 

Obviously I didn't have any, but I hear Martin's blueberry wheat beer was quite tasty and I think it's pretty cool that I have a backyard moonshiner as a friend. 

Baby Matty wanted in on the beer-fest too, or maybe he was just thrown off by the bottle shape. (No worries, he didn't get any booze - I promise.)

We all had a good laugh watching the "future" scenes (set in 2015) and comparing the film's portrayal of future technology, clothing, etc. with the realities of today (or the today of four years from now). I found this amusing article that outlines the things that have and haven't come true from the movie.

Thanks to Martin, Susanne, Ben, Jamie and Matty for joining us in all the paradoxical, time-traveling fun! It was such a nice break from our crazy lives - thanks for giving us a reason to relax for a whole day!

And thank you Michael J. Fox, Christiphor Loyd, Crispin Glover and Thomas F. Wilson for creating so many memorable, versatile characters for us to enjoy! (17 different characters or variations of characters were portrayed by just these four actors.)

(Side note: Devin and I were so grateful to spend time with Ben and Jamie and their little boy Matty. Ben and Jamie live their parenthood with such joy and are incredibly positive when it comes to advice, stories and experiences about being parents. It has been a bit discouraging (for me anyways - Devin tends to be able to let stuff roll off his back pretty well) to try and joyfully prepare for this new life stage in a world that is full of such negativity towards children/parenthood. Not to mention (except I'm gonna) feeling a bit bombarded with horror stories of the new baby stage. It is such an encouragement to Devin and I to have such an example of parental enthusiasm as we prepare to embark on our own journey as new parents.)

Jamie and Matty

Monday, July 25, 2011

Goal #17 In Progress: Top 100 Movies

Goal #17 (In Progress): Watch ten movies off of the AFI’s list of 100 Top Movies
I just finished choosing my ten movies to watch off of the AFI’s Top 100 Movies list (maybe I'm subconsciously preparing for the possibility of bed rest?) and kicked it off this weekend with Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Below are the ten films I plan to add to my classic movie repertoire (Devin helped me put together this list as it's just no fun to watch movies by yourself... Rocky was his choice - just wanted to clear that up): 

#1 - 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)  [check!]
#2 - Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) (love me some Jimmy Stewart)
#3 - One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)   (because I've always wondered who Nurse Ratched was)  [check!]
#4 - Rocky (1976)
#5 - Tootsie (1982) 
#6 - Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) [check!]
#7 - Swing Time (1936) (also love me some dancin', singin' Fred Astaire)   [check!]
#8 - Sophie's Choice (1982)
#9 - Ben-Hur (1959)    [check!]
#10 - Chosen by my readers. What movie off this list do you think I should see?
Edit: Based on the suggestions I've received, I'm going to go with Blade Runner as #10. This list needs a little Sci-Fi Adventure. ;-)   [check!]

(the movies I've already seen are: The Godfather Parts I and II, Casablanca, Singin' in the Rain, Gone with the Wind, Schindler's List, The Wizard of Oz, Star Wars, It's a Wonderful Life, Some Like It Hot, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, To Kill A Mockingbird, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, The Sound of Music, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, West Side Story, Jaws, Saving Private Ryan, The Shawshank Redemption, Forrest Gump, Titanic, 12 Angry Men, The Sixth Sense, Toy Story, Raiders of the Lost Ark)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Uganda Stories: Beautiful Feet

Yep. I think it's high time I start sharing some more stories from our trip to Uganda (back in March...). Sorry for the long delay - I'm still processing the time we spent there. Not to mention I've had something(s) on my mind and growing in my belly that have served as a major distraction. 
* * *
One very special night at Canaan Children's Home (the orphanage we lived at in Jinja, Uganda) was spent on our knees before some beautiful, precious kids.

A couple on our trip heard that many of the children living at Canaan did not have shoes for school. Most of them only have sandals and flip-flops (though the majority of the time they run around barefoot). This generous couple decided then and there to order enough black, patten leather shoes for each school-age child at Canaan to have their very own pair (and dress socks to go with them). This open-hearted act inspired our team to make a special evening out of giving the shoes to the kids - a way to bless the them beyond just a material gift (which was still a huge deal to them).  

So, during our last evening together, we gathered all of the school-age children in the open-air chapel. At the front we had a few chairs set up, along with basins of water and towels. As each child's name was called, they came to the front, received their new shoes and took a seat in one of the chairs. Our team members then washed their feet and helped them try on their shoes. You should have seen their beaming faces (the kids and the team members)! Pictures don't do the moment justice, but I'll share a few to try and give you just a glimpse.

Kneeling before those kids - holding and washing those dirty, scabbed, precious feet - was a very special experience for everyone involved. It was special for the children to be honored in such a way and an honor for us to be able to wash their feet and show them Christ-like love. 

My only regret (one shared by our team when we realized what had happened) was that, because some of the shoes had not been delivered in time, not all the kids got shoes that evening. But that is not where the real regret lies. 

Although the children with the missing shoes were assured they would not be forgotten, we did forget them in one way and it breaks my heart to remember. Not only did those kids not get presented with their shoes that night, they also did not get their feet washed. Why we didn't think to wash all of their feet - shoes or no shoes - I don't know. Perhaps we were just too caught up in our "assembly line" of name/shoes/wash that we missed the longing looks of the kids who didn't get shoes or the gift of having their feet washed. Perhaps we let our American "get it done and get it done right" mentality shadow this time of service. I'm not sure how it happened - but I wish I could go back and do it differently.

I share this not to ruin a sweet story, or to lessen our gift to these kids, but rather to show how easy it is to "miss it" - even amidst a loving act of service. No doubt, our hearts were focused on blessing the kids at Canaan, but we were also so focused on our "plan" for how to do that efficiently, that we completely missed out on blessing some of the kids who fell just barely outside of our well-laid plans. 

This saddens me to remember, but also serves as a reminder to not let my plans for serving others get in the way of truly meeting the needs before me.      

(We traveled with Visiting Orphans - an organization that offers multiple trips yearly and to numerous countries, all with one purpose - to love the orphan and care for the needy.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Progress on the Double Denial

Sometimes my blog entries serve as an outlet for me to get my jumbled thoughts and feelings out of my head and into some kinds of workable order. It also brings about some accountability from my readers (whether they actually express it or not). Often these things will result in something actually getting done. In the case of being in denial about the babies coming, the blogosphere stars seemed to have aligned to cause a (somewhat) steady burst of motivation. 

Something else that kicked me into high gear was when my friend Alejandra read my double denial post and told me she (and her husband!) could come over and help me with The Baby To Do List. I quickly accepted her offer. One little problem - I hadn't actually made the list yet. Problem number two: while I had some specific painting and sewing projects they could help with, I didn't actually have the paint for which to paint with or the material for which to sew with. Thus, Alejandra's offer gave me the kick start I needed to get down, get busy and get out of denial! (At lease a little - I am pregnant with twins after all, which still (sometimes daily) comes as quite a shock.)

So two Saturdays ago, Devin, Jose, Alejanda and I spent many hours prepping for the babies. Our apartment was a flurry of sewing, painting and crib assembly (and Jose was awarded the privilege of cutting out 60+ fleece "butt wipes" for our cloth diapering system). We got a whole lot done and oh my goodness do I feel so much better when I look at my Baby To Do List! 

Not only was it such a blessing to have two extra people helping to conquer projects, having fabulous company (such as we did with Ale and Jose) made the work day fun and the time pass much faster. Thank you Alejandra and Jose!!! 

Here's a little sneak peak at some of the progress we made on the boys' room...

Our guestroom, turned office, turned nursery was already fully decorated with black and white, so we decided to embrace what was already there and simply make some small (and inexpensive) changes that would give the room more of a "little boy" feel. Black and white polka-dots and some splashes of bright color were our solutions.

Our color inspiration came from these little guys - our Uganda souvenirs for the twins:

(No, we are not doing a giraffe theme (sorry Marla) or an Africa theme or a Zoo theme (sorry again Marla) - just picking up on the colors.)

I snagged these cute chalkboard storage bins at Goodwill for $2.50 each, but they obviously needed a little spray paint lovin' (which I left up to my non-pregnant husband and friends). I absolutely love how they turned out!

(the chest was also a Goodwill purchase that Devin revamped a while back.)

Last little detail I'll show - a homemade card (created from vintage game cards) from my cousin Marla. I framed it and turned it into some quick, cute (and cheap) twin nursery art.

Speaking of Baby Baby - here I am 28 weeks pregnant. Hello third trimester!

So that's your little preview of the nursery. What's funny about our color scheme (something I didn't realize until days later) is that the colors we chose ended up being ♫ "red and yellow, black and white..." ♫ (you know the rest if you grew up anywhere near a church). To make things even better - guess what the colors of the Ugandan flag are?

Yep - black, red and yellow. Totally unintentional on both accounts, but I kinda love it. :-)

Monday, July 18, 2011

The Purpose of Rest

Life has been so topsy-turvy lately and so much has been going on - big things, small things, things I want to remember and share - and yet the blog is silent. I wonder, how is it possible to have so much to express and yet be stricken fast, long and hard with such a bad case of writer's block? Maybe there is just plain too much going on in my head, but not enough "doing" anything about it and this has resulted in a multi-week hiatus from the blog. I don't really know and it hurts my brain to think about it too long.

I'm gonna try my best to write something somewhat meaningful today and the topic that I keep intending to write about is ironically (and somewhat hypocritically, but I'm learning) - REST.

We were talking about rest in a recent (oh - I guess that was actually about three weeks ago) ladies' Bible study at my church. There were a whole slew of verses that we studied on the subject, but the two that stood out to me the most were possibly the two most often repeated and known the world over:

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, 
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths 
for his name’s sake. 
(Psalms 23:1-3)

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 
(Psalms 46:10)

These verses are common. I've probably read them, recited them and seen them printed, embroidered and quoted thousands of times. Yet, when I read them this time around, something new jumped out at me. Rest is not about me. True rest (the kind that scripture talks about) has never been about me. Shocking I know. But like every other part of the Bible, the point is always God and His glory. Even things that can benefit me (rest, truth, biblical living, salvation) are only byproducts of the true purpose behind them- bringing God glory. 

Read those verses again:

The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters, 
he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths 
for his name’s sake
(Psalms 23:1-3)

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 
(Psalms 46:10)

Making rest a part of my life is about God. It is for His name's sake, for His glory, so that He will be exalted. When I don't follow the command to rest in Him, I miss the opportunity to point others to His glory. 

Honestly, how can I tote the idea that a life with God brings "peace that passes all understanding" while at the same time run around stressed-out, maxed-out and over-committed? That sort of lifestyle does nothing to bring God glory.

The challenge is, I don't really know what a life resting in God looks like. I've spent my whole life in a world (America) that often requires a fast pace just to keep from getting trampled. But I don't want to live like an American, I want to live like a Christian and I think in this particular area, the two often collide. Again, I don't know where the change lies or really how to make it happen yet, but I'm learning. Slowly. 

One area that I'm learning to be better at is taking a Sabbath - a day of rest. To work hard during the week, in order to rest on Sunday and let the command "remember the Sabbath" become part of my life. This change (in progress) has been entirely due to Devin's influence (okay, consistent prodding). I married a mellow guy and getting his fast-paced, over-achiever wife to settle down for five minutes, let alone a whole day has been challenging for him I know, but I believe he is doing the right thing in leading our family to learn take a day of rest. We are still figuring out exactly what that should look like, but it's a start in the right direction.

So that's what I've been pondering amidst the swirl of life (and maybe part of the reason for my stand-still). What about you? I imagine your life is just as busy, or more so, as mine. How do you make biblical, God-centered rest a part your life/week/day?