A daily...meh, weekly dose of babies, reality, and love.
You're welcome.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

winter camp (and the multitudes)

When Sam and I decided to help at our church youth group's Winter Camp, I knew a couple of things.

I knew it would be complicated to take a baby and all of her stuff to camp.
I knew I'd feel stressed about missing a weekend of homework.
I knew we’d all be tired when we got home on Sunday night.
I knew Clara would get sick. (one baby + 85 teenagers + flu season= a sick baby. Preeettty much a guarantee.)

I had a few really good reasons to stay home from camp this year. No one would've blamed me for skipping out- in fact, they were probably expecting it. And to be honest, I expected it too. I like staying home with my family. I like it more than anything in the world, actually. So why did I think dragging Smoochie all the way up a mountain for a weekend with a bunch of teens was worth the effort? What on earth did we have to offer?

I doubted the impact of my presence at camp. Breast feeding Clara means I am literally attached to her every three hours, all day long. I am a slave to her feeding schedule. She also doesn’t go all night without eating yet, so I knew she would wake up at least once, want nestled next to me in bed, and whimper for a midnight nursing.
None of this is conducive to working and sleeping in a cabin with junior high or high school students, am I right? So what was I going to do? I couldn’t be a counselor. And even though I’ve directed plenty of camps in my time, that wasn’t my gig this year. How could I help when so much of my time, my energy, and my attention are devoted to my daughter?

What does a new mom have to offer when it comes to serving others? 

Here’s the thing: I was raised at church camp. My mom took me to my first summer camp when I was four months old. All of our parents did this- they folded our little jeans and sweatshirts into duffle bags, they stacked sleeping bags and pillows in the back of their station wagons, they tied our bikes to the roof of the car, and they took us to church camp. They directed camp, they cooked for camp, they were camp nurses, camp worship leaders, camp speakers, and camp counselors. It didn’t matter that they had five, six, seven kids to cart along with them (my parents and their friends liked having babies, yeesh). They just DID it, you know? And we were better for it. Filthy faces and fingernails, burnt marshmallow in our hair, scrapes on our knees, games of capture the flag that spanned a forest and an evening; it was paradise. We grew up on that dirt, in those creeks. We met our best friends, our business partners, our husbands and wives at summer camp. We forged our spiritual paths, made decisions about who we are and what we believe. Camp changed us, one pancake breakfast and swim in the lake at a time.

This Horney family isn’t stopping at one baby. We want to keep growing our home, give Smooch some brothers and sisters. And if I stopped being involved in ministry because I have little kids…I’d never go to camp again.

There will always be reasons not to serve. 
We are busy. We have obligations. We are tired. Our kids are too young, our jobs too demanding, our spouses uninterested, our friends unimpressed, our time limited.

But what I’m learning; what I’m working through; what I’m committed to remembering, is this-
If God shows me a job to do, He will make a way to get it done. If He gives me a talent, He will open doors to let that talent shine. If He asks me to stay home, it is for a good reason. 

And if He asks me to find my sleeping bag, stuff a weekend worth of diapers into a suitcase, and wash dishes at Winter Camp, He’ll use my rolled up sleeves and pruned up fingers in bigger ways than I will ever realize. He will take my new mama moments, my meager offerings of time and limited energy, and like the magic of two fish and five loaves of bread…
He will multiply.

All I have to do is GO. 

Well. Pack some cute clothes for Smoochie, and then go.
Priorities, people. Priorities. 


Monday, February 25, 2013

suck it, applesauce.

My hesitation in feeding real people food to Clara stems from two places. (two selfish places.)
1. Sounds messy.
2. Sounds time consuming.

Ok, three selfish places-
3. It'll probably make her diapers smell bad.

Also, admitting that she is old enough for solids feels like she might be moving out tomorrow. It's terrible. I know a lot of people think we're crazy, but in this house we dread every passing moment  in our baby's life. Call us weird, or obsessive, or gluttons for punishment, but sometimes we just want our newborn back. She's changing too fast!

Sitting up for playtime? Drop dead adorable, but also depressing.
Nursing in five minutes flat rather than a meandering thirty? Convenient, but the end of long stolen moments together.
Curious about the world around her? Amazing to watch, but remember when WE were her whole world? Now she just wants to feed herself and stand up on our laps and for all I know she's using nap times to apply to law school or plan her freaking wedding.

And now, with damp, sticky banana hands rubbing our faces and tart applesauce smell on her round cheeks...it's all too much for these Horney parents.

But also, she is giving WORLD CLASS hugs lately. She's laughing at our funny (that's subjective) little songs. She loves her story time at night. She takes weekend trips with us like a champ. And for the love of our Lord on high, that kid can rock a pair of skinny jeans and her hair bows with the ease of any ol' Baby Gap model.
I remember our pediatrician telling us that every stage seems like the most fun...until you get to the next stage. Looking at my two week old daughter, I silently called him a nut. And now here we are,

and every day shines brighter than the last.

Alright, Dr. Roy, alright.
I agree, you handsome son of a gun.
It does keep getting better.

Happy 6 months, Clara Noelle.
You are a bright constellation, 
a million stars to light the new picture in our lives.

We love you. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

deep breaths (and sometimes wine before dinner.)

You guys. I know I've been sobbingly posting my angst lately. Probably way too much, according to the "Uh, hey Jess... you doing ok?" texts and e-mails and phone calls I've been getting from people who are a little worried about my state of mind. 

We're ok over here
Dramatic. Hyperbolic. But also very happy, and working through my issues, one bloggy essay at a time. 

So, in light of my concerning past posts...heeeere's a few (less anxious) updates, and some (blurry) pictures from a Horney Saturday morning a few weeks ago. 

Turns out I didn't know what 'sleep training' meant, and also that I needed to trust myself, and also that I can pretty much do whatever I want when it comes to my own kid. 

SLEEP TRAINING is teaching your baby to fall asleep by themselves and stay asleep. 
Clara has always done that during the daytime-  I didn't even know that was a THING. I just kissed her and laid her wide-awake little self in the crib for naps without thinking twice. 
So after a few days of her lying in her room crying, screaming, and not falling asleep for bedtime, we started to wonder. Why could she fall asleep on her own all day long, but not at night? The crying didn't feel right to us.


She tells us when she is ready for bed with her very first yawn/squeal/whine. She only fusses when she is dead tired, and if we catch her when she is ready, bedtime is a snap. It's worked like a charm, and bedtime is lovely again. 
No crying. 
Just snoozing.
*As for night weaning, that has not even begun. I haven't slept more than 4 hours in a row since November, folks. My nipples are as tired as my eyeballs. 

 My sisters and my Mom are champs and always act like Clara was perfect while I was gone, so whether they just read this blog and know they need to lie, or she is actually cleaning up her act, I'll never know. My friend Macey gave me some sage advice. She also had to start leaving her daughter recently when she went back to work as an accountant (on 'restricted' time- 40 hours a week- and that is why Macey is so successful). She told me to make every minute count; whether I'm with Clara or in class, she encouraged me to be fully engaged and present. Smart, right?
I'm trying, Mace. I'm also practicing being content in all things, and trusting God with my daughter and any sociopathic tendencies she may exhibit in the future.

*sidenote: I hope Clara is at least a genius if she's going to be nuts. 

3. Pumping milk on campus is still a pain in my ass. Leaving one class 10 minutes early and arriving at the next class 10 minutes late is affecting my work and my grades, as much as I'd like to pretend it isn't. But let's get real here. A few lost minutes of either 20th Century British Literature or The History of the English Language will not change my life, and I probably don't need to worry about my teachers thinking I'm wasting their time or mine. They don't care, for pete's sake. It's my life, not theirs. 
And have I mentioned that I L O V E nursing my daughter? It's my favorite part of every day, and I know it's good for her. However, I don't actually have time to get into the office of the lovely woman who offered me her space.
Which presents complications. 

But if I have to check out a key that is ziptied to a CD,
haul my breastpump up to the fourth floor of the ILC, 
lock myself into a conference room, 
try to pump 5 oz. in 15 minutes, 
and carry around my milk on ice packs until I get home three hours later? 
So be it. It's stupid complicated, but it's worth it to this mama. 

And I guess that's sort of the point of making a family, right?
       It's worth it.
None of it makes any sense until you're THERE, until there's a kid at your house, and your world is upside down, and you have never ever been so proud or happy or thankful or scared in your entire life, and your heart actually thumps against your skin as it beats the beautiful complicated song of parenthood. 

It's a love that explodes from your fingertips, you guys. And it's worth it. 

Friday, February 15, 2013

sorry about the baseboards.

Poppi and Nona are coming to visit this weekend! We are very excited over here, and also noticing a few things that have changed.

Before Clara was born, when we had empty closets in our house, and I didn't spend 20 minutes in the bathroom at Costco cleaning a diaper blowout and then walking around with poop on my sleeves, Sam and I used to clean the HELL out of our house before his parents came to stay.

I'm talking: vacuuming ceiling fans. wiping down baseboards. touching up wall paint. organizing shelves in the garage. All stuff they probably never noticed and never would have cared about at all- they just wanted to come see their kids. But we had some strange need to present our absolute best by way of our house, like, hey look mom and dad! We ALWAYS bleach and iron our white duvet cover! And why yes, those bath mats are freshly washed every week just like they should be...

Today we started our usual "family is coming" preparations, but the preparations look a little different these days. Yes, we still participate in a few irrational cleaning spurts ("of course, Sandy and Debbie, our cars are always cleaned out and vacuumed." WHY, sam and jessie? WHY? So stupid.)

The thing is, no matter how hard we try, our house is never as clean as it used to be. Bookshelves are scattered with toys. Bottle parts and pumping equipment fill the sink. Laundry, in a dark revolving door of deja vu, never seems to be done. I mopped our floors, but Clara will spit up on them later tonight. I dusted our shelves and desks, and then immediately covered them again with the same piles of textbooks, writing manuscripts, binders, bags, letters to address, cameras, and the same pencils and papers that polluted them before.

It cannot be helped. We live here. Now more than ever before, we LIVE here. The footsteps of our lives echo a different beat, one that follows the opening and closing of our garage door, the lunches packed in and out each day, a baby and the thousands of textiles her existence encourages (blankets and blankets and blankets galore- it's like she's constantly on the verge of building a fort for all of her other baby friends.) We used to be minimalists, I swear. We had unused drawers in our bathrooms, cavernous cupboards in our kitchen, you could've moved us to another continent with three duffle bags and a half day's notice.
And by golly, we CLEANED like we meant it!

But not today, my friends. Not really any of these new days, actually. We'd rather take pictures of our 5-month old daughter and her naked dimpled tush, of her tap-tap-tapping squishy toes, of her wicked anti-bedtime smiles. We need a minute to feel our hearts warm up when she interlaces her impossibly tiny fingers through ours. We have songs to sing and cheeks to chew, jammies to zip and giggles to coax, stories to read and more snuggling instead of homework or chores than we'd ever admit.

So if you want to come to my house, or if you are Sam's parents and you wake up all weekend to a pair of Smoochie eyes with stars of delight bursting clean through the deep blue irises...

Pardon our piles, and please excuse the old milk smell on our t-shirts.

But feel free to kiss our sweet girl. She loves a good open-mouthed slobber fest. :)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

just trying to be more normal over here...

I've been thinking, lately, about calming down. (ha! 26 years later. You're welcome, Sam.)
I can be a little high-strung. Anxious. Excited. Edgy. I think too long about too many things and end up down a path of sleepless worry (needless worry). This is not unusual for creative people, I realize, and part of that mania in my head helps spur ideas. But let's be honest- the word 'mania' can never truly be good, right?
What is good about journaling, about keeping a blog, is that you have a record of what you were worried about, and you can see the path you were walking, and you gain some insight simply on account of remembering the past.
Even when the "past" was last month. Or a week ago.
Or yesterday.

Here's what I forget: Life requires rhythm to work properly. Our entire world is built on this principle.
The planets revolve around the sun in celestial rhythm, masses of elements with some giant shadowed knowledge of their place in the universe.

Oceans roll in and out, rising and falling, tides told by that quiet cousin of ours, the pale and powerful moon, dictating the covering and uncovering of sand, turtles, grasslands, lava rocks, shallow pools.

Meanwhile God turns the Earth in tangent circles, twenty-four and 365 cycles of blinding sun and heavy dark, piercing stars and rippling winds, season after season after season after season.

Dear Sam and Clara,
We're in a new season, my loves. Our new rhythm is lovely, but sometimes difficult to follow. I don't know how other people make this look easy, but I struggle with the pace of our path. Today is a chance to fall deeper into life with you two, to let go of my fears, to let God be the keeper of our time and hope. This life we're building together is heartbreakingly beautiful, you guys, and I love you with every strand of DNA in my body. And in yours.

and our bodies
moving in their own rhythm
birth and death so closely related
we cannot distinguish
between old and young, and their paper soft skin, and their needs, and their dependence,
bookends of a ticking metronome
heartbeats and blinking eyes.
step lightly,
relax your fingers,
loosen your clenched up jaw,
and remember you
before the tides came in,
before the stars got lost,
before the ticking metronome
and wide awake dreaming.
you are a planet/find your orbit.
remember last week
sing for tomorrow.

jessie. mama. wife. friend. sister.

Friday, February 8, 2013

my daughter the sociopath

It's been weeks since I've written any Horney blogs, and let me tell you why. I boarded the back-to-school train and that thing is BARRELLING down the tracks of my life, leaving precious time to even think straight, much less write for fun. The worst part is that I'm hanging off that train like a hobo without a plan, one foot on the rickety car and one foot searching for some solid ground- searching for a way to stop time.

In a normal semester on a normal schedule, I love school. I love spending hours in the library, catching up on homework. I love the tangible gratification of a grading system. I love my long walks alone on the greenbelt, making my way to campus.

But in this white washed Idaho winter, trudging down the Boise greenbelt beside a low, dark river, under gray skies and bare cottonwood trees, I am struggling.

My anxiety level is though the roof. Lately, I can't even fall asleep at night. (This is terrible. I have, like, 4 hours to sleep at all, and I am wasting them laying awake and worrying about life. Might as well just push my sanity into a garbage disposal and flip the "on" switch, you know?)

I just thought going back to school would be easier than this. I can't stand to be on campus. I can't stand when my teachers go ONE MINUTE over time in class. I just want to get the heck out of there and get back to my baby girl. Back to my family. Back to my heart.

How can my blood keep pumping when my heart is in another zipcode? 

I am full of a desperate sort of grief, an overwhelming guilt. I am abandoning my daughter. I am leaving her for hours at a time, and she doesn't even understand time yet, or know that I'm ever coming back. She just knows that the person she loves most in the whole world is, quite suddenly, gone. And despite the fact that I leave her in the arms of her grandmother and her aunts, my footsteps out of their houses get heavier each day, my chest crushed under the knowledge that she will cry while I am gone. That she might not take her bottle.  And because I depend on the kindness of my family and their willingness to watch my baby, I have to leave her with someone different almost every day of the week. And in my weird little mommy head full of weird little mommy lies, I am worried that Clara will form some sort of attachment disorder, that she will become a sociopath, that someday you will see me interviewed on evening cable news and I'll be saying things like, "She always was a sullen child," or "We just never saw this kind of violence coming, honestly." 

Here's what people tell me to make me feel better:
"She just learning to be flexible."
"She'll eat when she's hungry."
"Crying never hurt a baby."
"She'll never remember this."
"She's just like this because she spends too much time with you."


So now, writhing in grief and guilt, I am SO TEMPTED to parent differently. I am tempted to parent in a way I swore I never would- parenting to keep my child happy.

 Here's my very flawed reasoning:
 If she's going to cry while I'm at school, 
I certainly don't want her crying when we are together.
 In fact, I'll just never LET her cry at our house. 
I can't handle it these days. 
I am guilt-parenting, 
which I hate, 
but I can't help it.

And I don't want to do anything without her. Don't invite me anywhere that she can't come- I won't leave her with ANOTHER sitter for MORE hours of the week. I can't do it. 

But you guys.
(I'm sure you already know this.)
I cannot parent out of guilt and fear. 
These are not healthy emotions that produce healthy decisions. 
These emotions create
inner turmoil;
outward stress;
sleepless nights.

My head knows to be thankful for a community of people so willing to invest in my family.
My heart whispers, "It should be her mama taking care of her."

My head knows that finishing school is important, that I am setting a good example for my children.
My heart whispers, "A degree can never replace these precious times with your daughter."

My head knows that God will protect my daughter from the emotional damage I am so fearful of.
My heart whispers, "You are her mother. She needs you most. You are abandoning her- and for what?"

I know that I'm supposed to be at school. Sam and I both feel peace about that decision, led to finish what we've started.
Then why is this so damn HARD?

Or, better yet...why did I think it would be easy?

My friend Jamie came over last week to have a glass of wine with me (since I refuse to leave my house or my child, she came to me- gosh I love her), and she sat at my kitchen table listening to me moan and groan and fret about school, Clara, Sam, life, and the self-spinning tornado I refuse to step out of. She listened and encouraged me, and then later she sent me a devotional (by Laura A. Barter Snow) that she thought would help. Here's a line from it: 
"I want you to learn when temptations attack you, and the enemy comes in "like a pent-up flood" (Isa 59:19), that "this is my doing" and that your weakness needs My strength, and your safety lies in letting Me fight for you.
Are you in difficult circumstances, surrounded by people who do not understand you, never ask your opinion, and always push you aside? "This is my doing." I am the God of circumstances. You did not come to this place by accident—you are exactly where I meant for you to be." 
JESSIE! OF COURSE this is difficult! Who ever said that balancing life and family and dreams is easy, for pete's sake? Where did I ever get that notion? The TRUTH is that God will fight my fights for me when I let Him. I am meant to be right where I am, and my heavenly Father is right here with me. He knows my dreams and He loves them and for the sake of all that is good and holy- HE LOVES ME.

So. I've decided to spend my time at school concentrating on my work rather than wondering what Smooch is doing right that moment. And I'll spend my time with Clara and Sam reading stories, eating breakfast in bed, and trading sloppy kisses rather than worrying about the possibility of raising a tiny (albeit adorable) sociopath.
After all, if she turns out crazy, I can just blame my sisters, right?