What a difference a year makes

Exactly one year ago I was waking up from surgery crying when I heard them say endometriosis in the recovery room.  I was still hoping that maybe nothing was wrong.  I wish I could lie and say I handled it well and had peace in the room and yada yada yada but I didn’t.  I went in afraid and I woke up afraid.  What was I doing, all the way in Omaha to get surgery by this doctor that seemed unimpressed by our case?  I had to continuously remind myself that I wasn’t crazy, that this was the next step, that this is what we had prepared for and was what we said we’d do the previous May when I started learning Creighton.  I knit socks to mark the journey.

Now here I am a year later.  With my Samuel in my arms and a linea negra on my stomach that for the time being overshadows the scars from last year and I am continuously reminded why I am so glad we took those steps last year, as scary as it was.  Because not knowing was scarier.  I didn’t know it would help, I didn’t know it would do anything other than put me at peace that we had “done what we could.”

I just wanted to mark this day…it was such a big deal for me last year.  This year is obviously much different, but its been a “big” day nonetheless…Samuel got his first bottle from Mike.  It was sad for me but I’m proud I didn’t cry.  It was recommended to us that if we eventually plan on giving him a bottle then its best to introduce it between 4-6 weeks, and he was 5 weeks yesterday.  He took it like a champ so well that it made me almost feel a little outdated.  But I came home and cuddled and nursed him again so he wouldn’t forget me that quickly :)

Luckily he didn’t.  And he may have given us his first smiles.  Its hard to tell since they are so fleeting but I think they are coming soon and I am so. excited.

 

**edited to add, I just looked at my blog for the first time in a while and it seems messed up to me but I’m too tired to try to fix it right now.  Is it messed up to anyone else?  Thanks!**

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10 years ago

We were living overseas.  It was a normal fall day of my senior year of high school.  We were having volleyball practice and I remember I was having such a good day.  Blocking and hitting really well.  And then, all our coaches phones starting ringing at once.  I didn’t even notice at first, I was so excited about having some free time to scrimmage and more time to practice.

But something was off.  Our coaches didn’t come back.  We were playing for a while now and no one even cared.  They started talking to each other in the gym corner.  Calling more people.  I remember thinking how odd it was that they all were so concerned with their phones rather than practice.   And it was odd that all of them had more important personal business to attend to.  I had heard something about an “accident” in the states.  A plane crash.  What was the big deal?  Plane crashes are sad, but they happen all the time.  Something about a security alert.  Very hush hush, they wanted to get everyone away from the American school, a target, without worrying us.  We were bussed home soon after, past the guards with machine guns.

By the time we got home we turned on AFN and watched the footage.   A plane had crashed into the skyscraper, that didn’t seem like an accident.  Two planes.  Planes crashing elsewhere and the Pentagon.  So close to home.  My uncle worked there.  My dad had worked there before we moved.  We watched all into the night.  I remember knowing the world changed.

We were on heightened security afterwards and had school canceled for the following days.  We had a curfew.  If we tried to lay low before, we for sure didn’t tell people we were Americans now.  I do remember wondering what it was like to live in America during this time.  They told us we were targets, living abroad.  But that attack was on our ground.  I almost felt safer being away.

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During mass today, after an amazing homily about forgiveness from our Father – which he tied into personal forgiveness as well as forgiveness for our national enemies, we were saying the Our Father when we started to hear a plane.  The engine grew louder and louder as the plane flew closer as we prayed.  It felt like it was right over our heads, aimed right for our church with all the windows and doors open.  I saw panic in the eyes of the altar servers and one even tried to run.  Other people in the pews started crossing themselves and you could almost feel the panic of those around us.  The sound drowned out our praying but we kept on with the words.  The thoughts actually crossed my mind  “What if this is it?”  Immediately followed by the thought “there is not better place to be” and I braced myself and kept praying.

The plane passed, we finished the prayer and you could hear mumbles as people breathed sighs of relief all around us during the sign of peace.  At the end of mass Father mentioned the event and reminded us that during events of war it seems like our prayers are drowned out by the noises of violence and war but we must keep praying.  Love and forgiveness is the only thing that can conquer hate.  It was surreal.

We later found out it was a flyover for a memorial celebration nearby.

What a way to commemorate 9-11 and give everyone heart attacks.

 

Where were you 10 years ago?

Most families are special

One of the great perks of moving is finding old boxes of memories.  Well, not really finding, more like trying to escape your parents cleaning out the house and giving you all your old stuff you thought would be stored there forever and then having to sift through it to figure out what’s worth keeping when you finally reach your destination.  And by “old stuff” I mean everything from my little ponies to elementary school progress reports to cards to my mom congratulating her on my birth (wait, why did I end up with those?!).

Old pictures are fun too, such as gems like this one.

I’ll spare you my awkward teenage years.

Something I found that is definitely going in the ‘keeper’ pile is this little book I wrote about 20 years ago about my family.

"My Family Book"

"This is my cat. He is funny. This is my sister. She is pretty."

I like to think I wrote it in order of my favorites, so naturally, the cat is first.

"This is my b(ig) brother. This is my mom."

"This is my dad. He is looking the other way. This is my l(ittle) brother."

Is it weird that I remember making this?  And I remember messing up my dad’s face and thinking it was brilliant that I would hide my mistake by pretending I needed to make him look the other way.  Yes, brilliant.

"This is me. Most families are special. My family is special and yours is too."

So prophetic.  Most families are special, but not all.  But don’t worry because ours are. (Whew).

Yes, my family is special.  Which is why I’m going cross-country to Virgina to visit them!  Well, mostly just that pretty sister and b. brother of mine, but still.  Its hard when we all 6 of us live in 5 different states and 4 different time zones, so I’ll take what I can get!

Wedding dress memory lane, anyone?

Betty Beguiles asked about wedding dresses the other day and I’ve been wanting to chime in but have been limited in my free time.  So here I am a little late but, better late than never.  So here’s my post about my wedding dress!  Which yes, was very special to me.

But first a quick digression.  I was flipping through digital wedding photos while a sample was running in lab.  I came across our wedding photographer’s blog post where she posted all our wedding pictures and a flood of emotions came over me.  Just seeing those pictures and remembering how I felt walking down that aisle and cutting that cake and seeing all our goofy smiles to prove it just made me tear up.  I look forward to the day when I get to see that man every day again, instead of little trips every few weeks before we separate again.  I haven’t written much about it, but this has been emotionally/mentally/physically challenging and I just can not wait for it to be over.  For us to be a normal couple again that commutes to a normal workplace 30 min. away instead of internationally.  I know it will be worth it in the long run, but until then it is not easy.  So I was looking at these pictures and silently tears started streaming down my face, tears of joy/nostalgia/tiredness and everything and who walks in but my boss. She hasn’t walked in like that in months.  Embarrassing.  I acted like I wasn’t crying (even though it was obvious) and I just answered her questions.  But her husband lives in China so maybe she understands.

Anyway, onto the dress.  I was never one of those girls who imagined my wedding dress.  In fact, I was one of those girls who screamed and kicked every time I was forced to wear a dress when I was younger.  For this reason, I was concerned about finding a dress that was ‘me’.  Of course, as soon as I saw it I knew it was perfect.  The one.  And well, for me, I think it was :)

It had little cap sleeves and a square/Queen Anne neckline and lace all over.  Lace was the only thing I knew I wanted.

"Model" shot my sister took of me while our photographer was taking someone else's picture. Hence fake smile.

But the open back is what really sold me.  It kind of looked like a heart.

The back is what sold me.

And another favorite part was my bustle.  French, as opposed to American I guess?  Either way, it was way cool.

The French bustle

Especially when I twirled!

Ok, enough bragging.  My dress was tight.  And so was my photographer.

It was funny though, because I tried to get a friend of mine of similar stature to use it later.  It was just so beautiful I wanted to share it!  She respectfully declined and I thought it was because she didn’t want a used dress, which I could understand.  However, it later came out that her mom didn’t think it was modest enough.  Ooops.  Oh well.

Her loss.  Ha!

You should post about your wedding dress too so I’m not the only late one :P

Why is negative inspiration stronger?

I’ve realized that I rarely write in my blog when I’m really happy.  It is not my impulse to write when I’m happy (although I occasionally do get it) but rather, just enjoy the moment of being happy.  Usually I finally get around to writing something after I’ve had a thought in my mind so long that won’t go away and I just need to work through it in order to 1) get it out so it will stop bothering me or 2) to figure out why I am feeling a certain way.  Negative or bothersome thoughts are the ones that make it out more easily, because I really want to stop thinking about them.  Happy, fun thoughts I want to keep around so I don’t have the same impulse to “get them out already” on my blog.  I realize this may skew my writings to make me seem more negative than I am in reality.  I’m really a pretty happy, goofy person!  I know that’s convincing if I have to tell you.  I’ve noticed that I’ve done this all my life in diaries too: write more when I’m upset.

Apparently, being unsettled is my muse.

Anyways, I know this will be hard to change, but I guess its good I recognize it.  I hate the idea of putting only negativity out into the internets and although that has been my tendency, especially as I work through issues relating to my sub-feritlity,  I’m going to try to balance it is a little better.

Starting with…more knitting projects!  I’ve made a couple more things I hope to have pictures up of soon.  And fortunately for me it was cold enough recently to actually wear them!

An exchange of hope

I saw this picture today and thought, wow, I have a good looking husband did I really go to India?

Traveling is not something I take for granted and is something that I hoped and hoped for for so long.   I get giddy like a schoolgirl as soon as I plan a trip and quite literally bounce off the walls.  I always wanted to travel when I was younger and I’ve always been drawn to the idea of distant places, probably because my dad would bring back strange mementos from all over the world but pictures were few and far between. So I was left to dream.

Exactly 5 years ago I did my first (and only) international service trip.  I was thinking about applying to the Peace Corps after I graduated college and knew I needed to have more experience doing similar activities if I was going to commit to two years of it.  We were to go down to a tiny village in Nicaragua with a group called Engineers without Borders and install a solar panel at their school to produce electricity.  We’d also be performing a health survey and testing the household wells for contamination in order to plan the next trip.

I wasn’t Catholic at the time.  And it wasn’t remotely even on the radar. So imagine my surprise when I was looking back through pictures and found this one:

I’m the one chilling on top of the ladder installing wires in the church, right up next to a giant crucifix and a giant mural of Jesus.  A little foreshadowing, perhaps?  We were supposed to install the solar panel onto the school, but when we got down to the community, the residents told us they wanted it to serve their church instead.  This being a secular trip, I remember we all talked about it and eventually justified the change in plans because the church really served as their community center so we wouldn’t really be promoting their church.

I’m not lying when I said I developed a love of children on this trip.  My younger brother is only a few years younger and we never really lived around younger cousins, and although I’ve done my fair share of babysitting for neighborhood kids growing up, my experience with little kids was limited.  You know those people who just attract kids?

My friend reading "Huevos verdes con jamon"

Yeah, that wasn’t ever me.  That was always the other girl.

Kids didn’t scare me, I just didn’t know how to act around them.  But boy, these kids broke me down!

Helping me put together the solar panel

 

And I particularly love this one!

By the end of the trip they were flocking to me!

And then there were these most adorable little twins with strawberry blonde hair.  I was so shy around them but by the end I snatched one up because he was too adorable not to have a picture with.

I’d just met the hubs a few weeks prior to leaving on that trip and when I think back to that time, the feeling I get in my stomach is synonymous to the feeling I remember having when I first met him.  It wasn’t quite love at first sight, but after our first couple conversations I had the distinct feeling that this man would change my life.

One of the last days on the trip we had a couple hours free in town and I wanted to send him an email to let him know I was thinking about him.  I asked our translator how to say “I miss you”.  Well, somewhere along the way I messed it all up and I proudly signed the letter “Te extracto mucho” which, all Spanish speakers already know, is definitely not how you say I miss you.  Its been our little inside joke ever since.

Anyway, that feeling that I get in my stomach, those butterflies of a new love, a new approach to life, and the feeling that you can go out there and change the world, all wrap up as one for me.  I’ve decided its the feeling of hope.  Before we got to the village, we thought we were going to change the world.  And we’d do it starting with this one community.   A few tests later and we realized how contaminated their well water was.  Bacteria and nitrates, it was no mystery why the rates of disease were so high.  We sat around contemplating what would be our next project.  A health center, a better school, clean water.  They needed it all.  How could we change the world if we couldn’t fix the problems in one village?

But we had to start somewhere.  We could give them a bit of electricity.  And the next time, a clean water source.  Although the basic civil infrastructure was what was lacking, engineered solutions could only skim the surface of what was really a political and sociological problem.  We worried if what we offered would have longevity.  Electric generators were common in the town and they powered tiny TVs and radios.  They could have easily used our solar panel for the same after we left.  Would our water system made out of PVC last or would they get tired of walking all the water to the town center to get clean water and just go back to using their contaminated well water?

Towards the end of the trip, it really hit us that all we had to offer was the idea that there was someone out there who was willing to help.  A hope of something that was greater than themselves.  Of course we could help provide limited tangible assistance as well, but we were unconvinced that that was the most valuable thing we offered.  Its frustrating, seeing a situation that you can’t change even if you really, really want to.

Of course the big surprise was that they offered us hope as well and planted the idea that we worried about all the wrong things.  How could they seem so happy, didn’t they know they had nothing?  Where were our children, our families? the younger women wanted to know, as they were our age and already had little packs of children running around their ankles.  A party they threw for us actually turned out to be a lengthy, fiery sermon about Jesus.  Too bad it was lost on us as only a few of us understood Spanish.  But the music and dancing later was universally understood as a celebration.

Soon after I returned from that trip I decided to go to grad school and study drinking water treatment.  With more education maybe I could help people on a larger scale.  Soon after that trip I also started attending Mass, which led to the start of my faith journey.  And soon after that trip I followed that butterfly feeling and started dating my now-husband.

My life really did change directions from that exchange of hope.

I wonder how anyone’s life in that village changed.

Sitting in a tree…

K-i-s-s-i-n-g,

First comes love,

Then comes marriage…

Then comes…

Waiting. A new house.  More waiting.  Wondering.  Fun traveling and attending family/friend’s weddings.  Love. A family divorce.  More waiting.  A family death. Crying. A job offer.  A new NFP method.  More tears.  Doubt.  A graduation.  A move across the border/Gulf.  More traveling. And more waiting.

Sometimes I can’t believe its been 2 years and others,  that’s its been only been 2 years!  Thank you, second year of marriage, for teaching me nice little nursery rhymes are children’s things and we should leave them for the children because they are not the content of actual marriages.  I guess that’s all a lesson I needed to learn eventually. Even though my head knew it, living it is something else entirely.  In real marriages you laugh together and thank God, you cry together and beg God, you find peace together and praise God, and you repeat, together.

Year two included lots of growth that revealed (surprise!) plenty of room for more growth.  All in all, I don’t know if I should say this but, I’m glad this year is over.  It. was. hard.  There were plenty of good times, but still, difficult.  Much more difficult than anticipated.  But we made it.

And if we can make it through this we can make it through anything.

Happy Anniversary, babe :)

Matching what?

I’ve realized I’ve never fully explained why I named my blog what I did.

It’s not really profound.

My husband’s nickname (and the nickname he now calls any cute, adorable kid that he thinks resembles himself) is “little moonhead”.  It started though because he really was a moonhead when he was little, as in, his head was as big as the moon.  Like a seriously cute, but nevertheless a ginormous moonhead.  It looked like a bobble head.  His mom has horror birthing stories to prove it! (sorry, but yes, I went there).

So as is the family tradition, I naturally joined in the making fun of his giant moonhead.  And purposely pose for pictures to make his head look even MORE ginormous.  Like so.

(I think he knows it in this picture.  Look at those suspicious eyes…)

That is until one day when I borrowed his hat, only to discover that SOMEHOW our heads are exactly the same size.   I have a moonhead too?? To be fair, I feel like I have more of a pin head that’s narrow but long.  His is more spherical and moon-ish.  But regardless, both of our heads take up about the same volume.  So we’re matching moonheads.  (Yes, we’ve thought about this entirely too much.)

Matching moonheads.  And whenever I call him a moonhead, he calls me one right back.  We even named our rockband “The Moonheads”.  And our wireless network.  I guess it just kind of stuck.

So these are the Adventures of the Moonheads.

I told you it wasn’t that cool.  That’s what I get for impulsively naming this blog!

Lasting Impressions

Last week, I surprised my husband in his office on the day before Thanksgiving by bringing him bubble tea!

“Wow, that was a great story!”

Wait! It gets better I promise!

I brought him bubble tea since 4 years before on that very day (the Wednesday before Thanksgiving) we went out on what I believe was our second “date” to go get bubble tea.  We were both leaving for our homes for the holiday weekend that day and had wanted to see each other before we left so we we ran off to the local bubble tea shop, played cards, and spent a few hours talking.

I’ll remember that day forever for four reasons:

1)   This might have been the first time we both began to see how our interest in each other was reciprocated.  The call was made last minute and we both dropped what we were doing to hang out at the drop of a hat.  I think it hit both of us how much we both liked each other.  I think about it and can feel that flutter in my stomach again :)

2)  And we’ll always remember that I won at his card game!  Bwahaha :)

3) We talked about religion (or lack thereof) for the first time.  We were sitting outside since November has the nicest weather here and I heard the bells ring for the Catholic church from across the street, which brought up the fact that he was Catholic and I was not.

4) I made the BIGGEST “foot-in-mouth” comment EVER (yes, related to #3).

“Oh, so you’re Catholic?  Have you seen The Meaning of Life by Monty Python?”  And then (oh yes, brace yourself) I started singing the “Every Sperm is Sacred” song.  Oh yes, I did.  I do these things.  These horribly embarrassing foot in mouth things.  (Hopefully not so much anymore?)

If you don’t know which skit I’m talking about, here it is in all its offensive glory:

To which this wonderfully patient and non-judgmental person I am now lucky to call my husband sat there silently, with a just-long-enough- awkward pause for me to realize that what I had said was horribly offensive.

I laugh thinking about it now.

What was he thinking still talking to me after that?

Well, I know now since he’s told me.

“That is everyone’s first response.  They just don’t understand.  There was enough there to make me want to keep talking to you.”

That silly girl didn’t understand either.  But I’m glad someone saw enough in her to stick around while she figured it out, because while it wasn’t necessary that I become Catholic (from his perspective), it was necessary that we share the same values (from both our perspectives).  So we were going to have to eventually address the whole birth control thing since that’s a show stopper.

My goal these days is to always stand as strong as he did that day when people make similar side comments that offend my faith/beliefs.  Because I know that they are 99% of the time doing it out of a misunderstanding, not because they are trying to be mean.  There’s too much good in everyone.

Family resemblance

I love my husband’s childhood pictures.  Wasn’t he a cutie?

little mikeyAnd by *wasn’t* I mean, *still is* :)  Just look at him, ever the scholar!

DSC05186

So will our future children get his gene’s or mine?  (or the more probable, 50/50%).  Hmm…I don’t know…after all my side shares a strong family resemblance….

JW2

DSC01719