Friday, July 29, 2005

Redefining Limitations

One thing I’ve learned about motherhood thus far is that the human being is capable of doing so much more than what one would ordinarily think possible. Take today, for instance. I was at the grocery store and my cart was three-fourths of the way full. As I was walking down the dairy aisle, Meredith decided to wake from her peaceful nap and start wailing. Loudly. It wasn’t long before I started to notice eyeballs being pointed in my direction and, not wanting to become the focal point of the entire store, I tried to shush and pacify my daughter. This was to no avail and finally I was forced to take her out of her infant seat and rock her while holding the pacifier in her mouth. I tried several times to place her back in her seat but she instantly started wailing again. I looked down at my grocery list and then back at the groceries piled in my cart. I wasn’t sure how it would work but I figured that I was going to, somehow, have to hold Meredith, push my cart with my one free hand, get the rest of my groceries, check-out, and load my car.

Today I learned a valuable piece of information: it is much easier to pull a cart with one hand than push a cart with one hand. It took me about five minutes to figure this out, by the way. I must be a slow study.

At the check-out counter, I was able to unload all my groceries with just one hand except for the large watermelon in my cart. I put Meredith down for a second (she of course wailed loudly), threw the watermelon on the conveyor belt, and then picked her up again. Somehow – don’t ask me how – I managed to find my check card in my purse and pay for my groceries.

Then I realized I was up for the biggest challenge of the day. I had chosen to shop at a grocery store that requires you to bag your own groceries (as a cost saving measure). I single-handedly bagged and loaded about half of my groceries until, at last, one of the employees took pity on me and offered to help.

As I exited the grocery store, again pulling my cart with one hand and holding the baby in the other arm, it was over 100 degrees outside. But I had already started perspiring long ago – in the dairy aisle to be precise.

Now I’m home. Meredith is blissfully sleeping. The world is peaceful again. And I’ve learned a lot about what a human being is capable of doing under certain circumstances.

On another note, I’m very happy to report that Meredith has started to smile “for real” now. (In other words, she smiles at times other than when she has gas.) Last night she made eye contact with Kevin and he smiled at her while telling her “hi gorgeous” and she beamed back at him. We know it was a “real” smile because, for the first time, she smiled with her eyes.

This is something I’ve been waiting for. It’s amazing how much you can love a baby who shows no recognition of you and no tangible appreciation for you. But it’s SO very nice – like the icing on the cake – when they begin to show an understanding that you actually exist and can smile back at you.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Retail Experiences

At probably the worst time possible, our washing machine decided to die. Since our family size has expanded to three persons, I’ve done more laundry than I ever thought imaginable. With the death of said washing machine, we were prompted to visit several retail stores last night in search of a replacement.

While I understand the principle of getting a commission, and the fact that salespeople have to earn a living too, I really hate going to a store where the salespeople trail you about ten feet for a few dozen yards until they decide to go in for the kill. Or, in other words, accost you with their pitch. And I always know when it’s going to happen too. I’ve learned to anticipate their next move by watching from the corner of my eye.

Also yesterday, I went to the mall with Meredith for a stroll. I wanted some exercise but it’s been too hot here lately to do much outside. I’m trying not to be the typical young mom who frets about germs around every corner. But I still try to be cautious. I had Meredith covered up in her stroller for the entire trek until the end when I uncovered her to give her some fresh air. At that precise moment a little girl, probably five or six years old, came from nowhere and ran up to Meredith to stroke her face. She was really cute – I could clearly see her excitement to touch a little baby. “What is her name?” she asked. I felt myself stiffen as I answered the question, trying to reassure myself that the little girl probably wasn’t sick. Fortunately her mom was close behind her and said, “No, you’re not supposed to touch babies who are that little.” “Why?” asked the girl. “Because you have germs,” said her mom. The little girl looked horrified to realize that she has germs. It was actually pretty funny.

And then there was this adorable little boy, probably five years old, who held the door open for me as I was leaving the mall because he noticed that I was pushing a stroller. In fact, he had just come through the door and had to run back to assist me. He was with his sister, just a few years older than him, and I didn’t see an adult anywhere nearby. It really caught me off guard that such a little boy would do such a gentlemanly thing without being prompted by his mother. It was refreshing to see so much thoughtfulness possessed by such a young child. This random act of kindness totally made my day.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Tour de Meredith

Congrats to Lance for doing it again. I’m happy to report that, thanks to Kevin, we got a good dose of the Tour de France over the past several weeks. Every time there was a lull in our household activity, Kevin would suggest turning on the TV to see what’s going on with the Tour.

The more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that there’s an analogy somewhere between a strenuous bike race and taking care of a newborn. Both require stamina and endurance, that’s for sure.

When I’m not taking care of Meredith (those few hours every day), I just want to hold her and look at her. She’s so little and fragile, yet so full of expression and so strong.

I think I have this unrealistic fear that she’ll be suddenly grown up if I happen to take my eyes off her. But maybe that’s not such an unreasonable notion after all. They say that babies grow up fast. In fact, I think Meredith is already changing and growing.

And I think I’ve changed a little bit too. Although I hope that I’ve never been too materialistic of a person, I think I’ve become much less materialistic since Meredith entered this world. After holding my own baby in my arms, the value and attraction of all earthly possessions and exploits have paled considerably.

Some things are merely temporal … others are eternal. I am constantly amazed that God has entrusted me with the stewardship of a little soul named Meredith Grace.

… I’ll try to blog more frequently in the coming weeks. But, no promises. I’m having fun with my baby!

Family Photo

Takin' it all in ...

M's First Outing to Lake Tahoe

Saturday, July 16, 2005

A Slow Emergence

Well, I'm slowly starting to reenter the land of the living. The last week (is that how long it's been?) has been surreal. Meredith is such a great baby. I could write on and on about all the escapades we've had thus far. Maybe I'll summarize a few of them sometime in the next few days. It's been wonderful to have Kevin home from work for the last week. The three of us have gotten in some good bonding time. Kevin's THE expert at calming Meredith when she's upset. It's truly amazing to see how good he is with her. The biggest challenge since she's been born is keeping her awake long enough to make her eat. We feel like we have to nearly torture her, by dragging wet cloths on her face and mercilessly tickling her feet, in order to make her wake up. In case you’ve never done it, fighting with a drowsy baby is not easy task. But I guess it’s better than an extremely fussy baby. At least we get some rest now and then!

On another note, I thought I'd include a link to my sister Betsy's blog. Lately she's been having quite a few adventures trekking across the country on flying jobs. She's updated her blog with some fun pictures. Apparently she was in Virginia last week and found some of my old stomping grounds. Seeing these pictures brought back a lot of fond memories. That was a such a great chapter of life.

But this one is too. So far, I like this mommy business.

By the way … I have a question. Is it ever too soon to paint a little girl’s toe nails? They’d look so cute! (We’re going to have so much fun together!!)

Friday, July 15, 2005


Mommy and me.

Daddy's girl.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

We're glad to be home now.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Announcing . . .

. . . the arrival of Meredith Grace Koons. Mommy and baby are both doing fine. Daddy is doing OK too . . . still looking for the buttons that popped off his proud shirt. Here are the stats: born at 11:26 p.m. on July 7; 8 lbs. 2 oz.; 20.5 in. long. It all happened very fast. Amy didn't even start having contractions until about 5:00 p.m. last night. We're both very grateful for a great labor and delivery. We're so happy and excited about our new life with little Meredith.

Welcome to the world, Meredith.

8 lbs. 2 oz., 20.5 in. long.

All cleaned up.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Sage Advice for Singles

While I don’t agree with everything that proceeds from Dobson’s mouth, I recently read an article he wrote on advice for singles who want to build healthy dating relationships and I couldn’t agree more with what he says. I think a lot of it is counterintuitive – but that’s why it’s so important to understand.

This morning Kevin and I had a discussion about singles playing “cat and mouse” and how a guy is motivated by a woman who acts disinterested in him. There’s no incentive for a guy to chase after a girl who is always available for him. (I’ve actually watched my sister treat guys like dirt – to the point where I thought she was being extremely rude – but then sit back and be amazed at how the guy would go absolutely wild and be even more desperate for her.) We reminisced about the time I wasn’t “sure” Kevin liked me or not because he was giving me mixed signals. So, I signed up for a seminar in D.C. on how to get a job on capitol hill. That was a turning point in our relationship because I basically sent a loud and clear message to Kevin that I could live without him and that it was possible for me to have an exciting, adventurous life on my own. Before I knew it, he was asking if he could go to the seminar with me!

Anyway, this conversation made me recollect Dobson’s article and track it down so I could read it again. In addition to Dobson’s advice on giving each other space, he also has a lot of other interesting, helpful things to say.

Question: In your book Love Must Be Tough, you suggested some ways unmarried people can build healthy relationships and not smother each other. Would you share those again? Would you apply the "tough love" principle to those of us who are not married? How does the issue of respect relate to our romantic relationships, and how can we build and preserve it?

Answer: The principles of loving toughness are the same for those who are single as for those who have been married for decades. There are circumstances, however, that are specific to the courtship period. Let me cite 17 suggestions that will help you avoid the common pitfalls among those who are trying to win the heart of another.

1. Don't let a relationship move too fast in its infancy. The phrase "too hot not to cool down" has validity. Romantic affairs that begin in a frenzy frequently burn themselves out. Take it one step at a time.

2. Don't discuss your personal inadequacies and flaws in great detail when the relationship is new. No matter how warm and accepting your friend may be, any great revelation of low self-esteem or embarrassing weaknesses can be fatal when interpersonal "valleys" occur. And they will occur.

3. Remember that respect precedes love. Build it stone upon stone.

4. Don't call too often on the phone or give the other person an opportunity to get tired of you.

5. Don't be too quick to reveal your desire to get married -- or that you think you've just found Mr. Wonderful or Miss Marvelous. If your partner has not arrived at the same conclusion, you'll throw him or her into panic.

6. Most important: Relationships are constantly being tested by cautious lovers who like to nibble at the bait before swallowing the hook. This testing procedure takes many forms, but it usually involves pulling backward from the other person to see what will happen. Perhaps a foolish fight is initiated. Maybe two weeks will pass without a phone call. Or sometimes flirtation occurs with a rival. In each instance, the question being asked is "How important am I to you, and what would you do if you lost me?" An even more basic issue lies below that one. It wants to know "How free am I to leave if I want to?" It is incredibly important in these instances to appear poised, secure, and equally independent. Do not grasp the other person and beg for mercy. Some people remain single throughout life because they cannot resist the temptation to grovel when the test occurs.

7. Extending the same concept, keep in mind that virtually every dating relationship that continues for a year or more and seems to be moving toward marriage will be given the ultimate test. A breakup will occur, motivated by only one of the lovers. The rejected individual should know that their future together depends on the skill with which he or she handles that crisis. If the hurting individual can remain calm, the next two steps may be reconciliation and marriage. It often happens that way. If not, then no amount of pleading will change anything.

8. Do not depend entirely upon one another for the satisfaction of every emotional need. Maintain interests and activities outside that romantic relationship, even after marriage.

9. Guard against selfishness in your love affair. Neither the man nor the woman should do all the giving. I once broke up with a girl because she let me take her to nice places, bring her flowers, buy her lunch, etc. I wanted to do these things but expected her to reciprocate in some way. She didn't.

10. Beware of blindness to obvious warning signs that tell you that your potential husband or wife is basically disloyal, hateful, spiritually uncommitted, hooked on drugs or alcohol, given to selfishness, etc. Believe me, a bad marriage is far worse than the most lonely instance of singleness.

11. Beginning early in the dating relationship, treat the other person with respect and expect the same in return. A man should open doors for a woman on a formal evening; a woman should speak respectfully of her escort when in public, etc. If you don't preserve this respectful attitude when the foundations of marriage are being laid, it will be virtually impossible to construct them later.

12. Do not equate human worth with flawless beauty or handsomeness! If you require physical perfection in your mate, he or she may make the same demands of you. Neither of you will keep it for long. Don't let love escape you because of the false values of your culture.

13. If genuine love has escaped you thus far, don't begin believing "no one would ever want me." That is a deadly trap that can destroy you emotionally! Millions of people are looking for someone to love. The problem is finding one another!

14. Regardless of how brilliant the love affair has been, take time to "check your assumptions" with your partner before committing yourself to marriage. It is surprising how often men and women plunge toward matrimony without ever becoming aware of major differences in expectation between them.

15. Sexual familiarity can be deadly to a relationship. In addition to the many moral, spiritual, and physical reasons for remaining virgins until marriage, there are numerous psychological and interpersonal advantages as well. Though it's an old-fashioned notion, perhaps, it is still true that men do not respect "easy" women and often become bored with those who have held nothing in reserve. Likewise, women often disrespect men who have only one thing on their minds. Both sexes need to remember how to use a very ancient word. It's pronounced "no!"

16. Country singer Tom T. Hall wrote a song in which he revealed an understanding of the concept we have been describing. His lyric read, "If you hold love too loosely then it flies away; if you hold love too tightly, it'll die. It's one of the mysteries of life." Hall's observation is accurate. If the commitment between a man and a woman is given insufficient importance in their lives, it will wither like a plant without water. The whole world knows that much. But fewer lovers seem to realize that extreme dependency can be just as deadly to a love affair. It has been said that the person who needs the other least will normally be in control of the relationship. I believe that to be true.

17. There is nothing about marriage that eliminates the basic need for freedom and respect in romantic interactions. Keep the mystery and the dignity in your relationship. If the other partner begins to feel trapped and withdraws for a time, grant him or her some space and pull back yourself. Do not build a cage around that person. Instead, release your grip with confidence while never appeasing immorality or destructive behavior.

These are the basics of the "love must be tough" concept. I could list another hundred suggestions, but you get the idea.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Nose Rings

Lately Kevin has been reading Ezekiel in his daily bible reading. The other day I asked him what exactly he was reading about and he read me a portion from chapter 16 about God’s love for His people and how God came to a struggling Jerusalem and lovingly washed her, clothed her, and adorned her with gold and silver, including (v. 12) putting a jewel in her nose.

This led to a discussion on the propriety of nose rings.

I was shocked, absolutely shocked (probably because I married a man whom I consider to be much more “conservative” than myself), when Kevin said he wouldn’t mind if I got a “small stud” in my nose. He said that he thinks they can be attractive and he doesn’t see anything wrong with it, especially in light of the fact that God himself declares in Ezekiel that it’s something beautiful and desirable. (He did say, however, that he’d rather I not get anything larger than a “small stud” because he personally thinks that’s highly unattractive.)

Okay, mom, if you are reading this blog, please rest assured that I’m not planning to rush out and pierce my nose today. Actually, despite Kevin’s blessing, I have no desire to do so. I’m happy with the holes I already have in my head – all the ones God gave me at birth plus two artificial holes, one in each ear.

But, back to our conversation … It was interesting to mull over the topic of body piercings for a few moments. Aside from any perceived “wrongness” or “rightness” in piercing your body, it’s true that there are certain cultural connotations to body piercing that the well-meaning person should take into consideration. But it’s also clear that connotations change over time. For example, what would have been considered a “rebellious” piercing twenty years ago, might not be considered such today.

In the end we concluded that you simply can't make an airtight case that it’s “wrong” to pierce your nose when God explicitly declares in scripture that it’s something He thinks is “beautiful.”

Baby Update

Or, rather, the non-baby update. Even though my doctor keeps telling me she thinks the baby will come any minute, still … nothing. As of Friday, my doctor told me she thinks the baby is “at least eight pounds.” My mom, who generally always looks on the bright side, said “That’s great; you’ll have a fat, healthy baby.” All I can think is “Yikes.”

Although it would’ve been fun to have the baby come on the 4th of July, I’m actually glad it didn’t. Personally, I think being born on a holiday would stink because then you’d have to share your birthday with something else.

You know how I talked about doing that DinnerTime thing? Well, I finally did it! And it was fabulous! It took about 45 minutes (only!) to make six meals that generously feed six persons each. Actually, I ended up with more like 12 meals because I split most of them into two different portions, which will be plenty for Kevin and myself. Not only was it fast to make all the meals, it was also incredibly fun. I enjoyed the sense of community as I worked next to a couple dozen other women while we quickly put together healthy, “homemade” meals for our families. I also felt very spoiled during the process. All of the ingredients were ready and pre-prepared when I got there. And as soon as I finished making a meal, the employees at DinnerTime would come and clean up after me. I would then wash my hands and proceed to the next station where I would start making the next meal. Now we have a bunch of quick dinners awaiting us in the freezer – everything from Thai Cashew Chicken to Penne with Prosciutto. This is a very reassuring thought.