Monday, January 29, 2007

The span of a moment

Excerpt from my journal this past week:

Two mornings ago, I found the boys in their room -- Andrew in the windowsill, looking down at the stream, and Elijah lying on his back on the floor with some little trucks -- singing Silent Night.

Last night, Elijah came to me on the couch before bed, put his arm around me and laid his head on my shoulder.

Today I was explaining to Andrew (after a rather rough patch) that when he was disobedient it made me sad. His face crumpled into a pout. Tears started rolling down his face, and he said "Mommy, my face is very sad", then collapsed into wails.

Tonight, Elijah talked and sang himself to sleep. Overheard: discussions with himself about the movie "Cars", sung portions of the Veggie Tales Theme Song and Silent Night.

These are moments, snapshots in my life which will never repeat. I'm beginning to understand the difference between "living through" a life stage/situation and living fully in it. The choice is mine.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

11 weeks to showtime

I'm 29 weeks.

Click on the picture if you want to see The Belly Gallery. I think it's interesting how the self-portraits go from sunny to edgy and moody. They will definitely land in a modified book, or printed on fabric or as a collage somehow. I've got a few ideas floating around in my head...

Now before you start saying something like "holy crap, your belly is huge", just think about this: I still have 11 weeks to go.

The baby is supposedly about 3 pounds at this point, and both boys weighed 9 pounds at birth. So the baby could gain 6 more pounds in the next few weeks. I know. Wow.

The boys think it's pretty amazing too.

Lately I've been writing a lot in my journal, which I tend to do when things are out of sorts. Something that's been very helpful to me is writing lists of things that make me insane, and then, later on when I've calmed down, things that I'm thankful for. Here's something that made it onto the latter list:

I wouldn't say that I'm totally out of the woods yet, panic-wise, but I am starting to fall in love with being a mother again. It really helps when two certain little companions suddenly take to acting like angels every day.

Seriously. Every day. They've been incredibly well behaved for about a week now. Andrew's been obeying and being a good example to Elijah, as well as doing his part in taking care of Elijah, even when I haven't asked him to. They've been playing together peacefully (for the most part), and haven't even been asking to watch as many videos. Some days they don't watch any, and still they're contented and good and let me breath all at once.

I'm guessing that it has to do with the fact that I've been spending time really being with them, as opposed to just taking care of them. They are really cool little people who have interesting personalities, and I do enjoy them.

Sometimes I need to take some steps back before I can step back in and appreciate things as they are.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Rock and Roll Skully Sweaters

With all of the knitting that I do, I've never knit sweaters for the boys. Can you believe it? I know, all non-knitters think that The Thing To Do is to knit sweaters, but actually, I generally knit socks. Anyway, you're not interested in that, but you might be interested in how adorable the boys are...and they happen to be wearing brand-spanking-new fresh-off-the-needles skully sweaters that I just finished last week.

These sweaters are knit in the style of a favorite old sweatshirt hoodies, so they're very cozy, comfortable and roomy with plenty of room to grow. The boys will definitely fit in these next year.
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If you feel the need to know any of the technical details of these sweaters, you can check out the post I put up here at my fiber arts blog. (You will find that the boys are named "Sparky and Max" on that blog to maintain anonymity.)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Eating out

On Monday night, we went out to this tiny local French restaurant for dinner. Elijah made friends with the owner's kids right away.

Andrew, on the other hand, wanted to just sit with me and watch them color.

The pizza there is stellar. You can get it with all kinds of interesting toppings on it, and we gave it a unanimous thumbs up.

They also serve crepes filled with almost anything cheesy you can think of, and their quiche crust is the kind that even I won't leave behind.

Andrew had the brilliant idea to bring along some books, which saved the night several times.

I highly recommend this strategy if you're ever going out with young children.

The boys felt that the best part of dinner was at the end, when the owner gave them lemon lollipops.

Altogether, it was a successful night.

Notice the white lace curtains in the background of some of the pics. These are the only kind of curtains that I've seen here in Germany. I'm pretty sure that they never use any other.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007


Edited to correct links.

There is a very cool indoor playground in the area that we go to sometimes. Our favorite thing about it is that parents can go everywhere in it with their children, and the place is huge. There are two ball pits, a sextuple trampoline, climbing tunnles, rope bridges, and long, fast slides. We pack a lunch, and get there right when it opens in the morning, so it ends up being a really fun day for everyone.

Jonathan and Hannah finished their trip to Italy with a stop in England, then Jom flew back here to spend the rest of his winter break with us. On Saturday, we went to the playground, and had a great time. I wasn't feeling very well (Jom and I were playing soccer with the small people on Friday, and I think that I jostled my belly around a little too much; things were pretty sore, and dind't feel quite right.), so unfortunately I only got pics of the "baby" area. I spent most of my time knitting at a table right near by; whenever the four guys were playing there, I was able to shoot some of the fun.

Click here to see the whole album.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007


It is surprising how much we, as people, take things for granted. There are many things you can probably apply this to, but I'm speaking specifically of the body. Ownership of your body is something you probably almost never think of, right? Your body, with all of it's little functions, malfunctions, troubles and joys are things that we pretty much don't have to consider. They just are, they just do, you are just you and that's the way it is. Of course, until, say, a truck runs over your foot, or you break your arm wrestling, or become very ill. Or get pregnant. Interestingly enough, that last thing is something that's normal, merely a body function, a healthy, natural happening. But it trumps all, because besides the fact that it makes you more aware of your body function (or not), it also causes you to realize that you're not on your own. At all. It's one of the most selfless decisions possible. "I plan to give my body to someone else for about a year so that they can live."
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When I was pregnant with Andrew, he thought it a good sport to kick me in the ribs so often and so hard, that I was still quite sore for over a month after he was born. I never got x-rays to prove it, but I'm fairly certain, from all indications, that my bottom ribs were fractured.

The person inside makes decisions to do things on their own that affect me, yet, there is nothing that I can do about it.

There's something that is kind of exciting in an Alien movie way about watching a baby move through my skin, yet it's dehumanizing, in a sense. While all of this is taking place inside of me, on the outside, I care for two small people who, no matter how gorgeous and wonderful, are still rather young and challenging. Every single need is met by me. Food and nap schedules, constant decisions about playtime activities ("Can we watch another video?"), attempts to be a creative and loving mother, all depend on me, ever moment of the day. And night. The happiness, health, and forming of two boys to be men rest in my hands. (I don't mean to say that Greg doesn't do a hell of a lot whenever he's home, but I'm just talking about being "Mommy", for which there is no substitute. Also, he works long hours, so often we don't see him at all.)
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Who am I? What is my purpose, besides a human manufacturing plant? This baby will appear in three months. Do I have the energy, the drive, the focus for three? I'm pretty certain the job I have chosen as a mother is one of the most challenging options possible to me. I could have been a stay at home wife with a fun, crafty business. I could have had an outside, part-time job and pretended that I was still a mall-rat. I could have crafted and shopped and created and lived and loved and traveled with Greg and by myself. I could have time. We could have more use of our money for our own selfish pursuits (diapers, pull-ups, etc are rather costly). So what was I thinking?

There is no out for me.

Please note that I feel bad for even thinking this way. It's not that I wish to return any of my children, but I would like to rediscover the joy, to be actually excited about them. It would be nice to love my job again.
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When Greg was deployed the first time, I remember suddenly wanting a baby. It became a need. Within a few months of Greg returning, I was pregnant with Andrew, and we were so thrilled. I was realistic about children -- being the oldest of nine tends to instill that in a person -- yet being a mom was something that I could never be truly prepared for. How could anyone? I didn't realize that I had the capacity to be that tired, that angry, that overworked, that emotional, pumped that full of hormones. I didn't realize that it was possible to have that much love, patience, joy, hope, and expectation. But what does it mean? Why do I want it? And once again: who am I?

All of my life, I thought that I knew who I was. But looking back now, I realize that I've often only defined myself by my surroundings. Relationships, life situation, etc. It's time to find me.
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I have never appreciated my mom more. It was impossible for me to appreciate all of the selflessness, the strength, the endurance, and the constant giving of herself until I became a mom as well. I only have three. She has nine.

Please don't take this post as a cry for help, or a need for all kinds of "hey, chin up, it's going to get better" comments. I realize that this time in my life is the most challenging possible. It doesn't get harder than having only small people in the house, with no older ones to help. They will grow up. Things will probably get easier in some ways, while harder in others. In my head I know these things. I'm not asking for your pity, but since we share so much of our lives through this blog, I think that it's important that I share this struggle with you all (if you've actually made it this far through such a long post.)
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I've spend much time meditating this while knitting feverishly on a lace-weight shawl. I feel as though I've knit my frustrations, my anger, my fears, my insecurity and doubt and hope and love and concern all into this shawl. I need to know that I am just Faith, the person, beyond, besides, separate from all of the "stuff". Stitch by stitch, row by row, through creating I am slowly finding myself.
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Friday, January 05, 2007

that's Fred

No time for a "real" post today, but check this out, it'll rock your world. (Er, or something.) I must say, I respect the guy. I think.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Birthday Hat

We're not sure why, but somehow the boys think that the bandanas are "birthday hats". I wear bandanas often when I don't feel like fixing my hair, so I've got a bunch of them. Greg put some on the boys a few nights ago, and they ran around shouting "birthday party hat" for a while. Here's a little bit of the action.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007


Seven years. As of January 1st, that's how long Greg and I have been together (our official "go" moment was at Rob's house on New Year's day, 2000). It's amazing to consider, since I had never been able to maintain a relationship longer than 2 weeks before that. Two random facts:

1) My mom alerted my dad to the possibility of interest between Greg and I, and my dad pulled me aside. "I want you to be careful not to hurt him, ok?". This still cracks me up, since fathers (especially mine) are usually all kinds of concerned about the welfare of their daughters as opposed to the young men they pair up with. This gives a small indication, however, of the rather interesting place I was at in my life.

In the first week that we were together, I tried to convince Greg not to continue with me, because I promised that I would break up with him at least once (I was just coming out of a very unstable time in my life, and was a little crazy and off kilter in more ways than one). I that I wasn't the ideal choice for "first girlfriend".

As it turns out, Greg was far more stubbern, and way more loving than I could have imagined. We never broke up, I never broke his heart, and a year-and-a-half later, we got married. Three kids and seven years later, and I still think that was one fine idea.

(After Greg made fudge a few days ago, the boys learned all about the joys of licking the pot clean)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Top Christmas Albums of 2006

One of my favorite Christmas traditions is the singing of Christmas carols. I have many fond memories of loading 20-30 kids in the back of trucks and traveling all around Warren Center (PA) with the Methodist Youth Fellowship. Although carols were originally sung by pagans during their Winter Solstice celebrations, I think it’s a great tradition that we have adopted as praise to God. This year we decided that, in the Darling household, we’d play Christmas music every day, throughout the Christmas season. Honestly, we haven’t really stopped yet, but here are our top 5 favorite Christmas albums of 2006:

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1. Sarah McLachlan – Wintersong

This was, by far, our favorite album this year, and it’s going to be a hard one to top next year. Although her music is often times sad and depressing, Sarah’s music was part of the soundtrack to our early years together. This record came by recommendation from Aunt Susie and is definitely a great one. All but one song are traditional carols, and somewhat surprisingly, she even included a few rather spiritual selections. It just might be the perfect mix of old, new and original recordings ever put together for a Christmas record.
Favorite songs: “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)”, “Wintersong”, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, “O Little Town of Bethlahem”, “The First Noel / Mary Mary”, “Silent Night”, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, “Christmas Time Is Here”.

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2. Over The Rhine – Snow Angels

This came in as a very close second to Wintersong and is actually OTR’s second Christmas record. What makes this record unique is that all songs but one, the semi-cover / new interpretation of “Jingle Bells”, titled “One Olive Jingle”, are original recordings. There’s also one rather sad song, actually the title track, that we usually skip, but the rest are winners. I, of course, ordered this album the day it came out for pre-order, which treated me to an exclusive, download-only, slightly-more-acoustic version entitled Snow Angels Sketches, which is also very good.
(As a semi-related plug / reminder for OTR fans: Don’t forget to pre-order your copy of Live From Nowhere, Vol. II, which comes out in March. Vol. I is one of our favorites ever, but sadly, went out of print rather quickly, and is now only available on iTunes.)
Favorite songs: “All I Ever Get For Christmas”, “White Horse”, “Here It Is”, “Snowed In With You”, “One Olive Jingle”.

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3. Leigh Nash – Wishing For This

I’ve always loved Leigh’s voice, and it’s a great treat to hear her singing Christmas songs this year. Although this would technically only qualify as an EP, as there are only seven tracks, it is an enjoyable listen. Only one traditional Christmas carol can be heard and there’s one other song, “Last Christmas”, that we both don’t care for, but this download-only is definitely worth the seven bucks.
Favorite songs: “Maybe This Christmas”, “Hard Candy Christmas”, “Baby It’s Cold Outside” (cover / duet with Gabe Dixon).

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4. Sufjan Stevens – Songs For Christmas

I’ve officially determined that it is not possible for Sufjan to make a bad record, and with a whopping 42 titles you really can’t go wrong. Faith wasn’t extremely excited about this one because the songs definitely have that signature Sufjan sound, and tend to lack the traditional “classic carol sound”, but I kind of like that. My mom would like this record because they did “Lo! How a Rose E’er Blooming”. It’s always a hilarious treat to hear Mom belt out every note (most of them wrong), at full volume, even though she really doesn’t know the song at all. Not that Mom is a bad singer. It’s just that, for some reason, she loves to pick carols that neither she, nor the rest of us, really knows how to sing. Anyway, it’s a solid release, containing a mixture of original with traditional. My only slight critique, which I guess discounts what I said above, is that 42 songs may have been a bit overkill.
Favorite songs: “That Was The Worst Christmas Ever!”, “I Saw Three Ships”, “Once In Royal David’s City”, “O Holy Night”, “Hey Guys! It’s Christmas Time!”

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5. Odon Soterias – A Piping Hot Christmas

Bagpipe / hand-drum, traditional Christmas carols as could only be expected from this unique duo. Of course, this one is only available through the band’s website, and because it’s an independent release, it comes sans jewel case or insert. Still it’s a welcome change to hear carols-by-bagpipe.
Favorite songs: “Little Drummer Boy”, “We Three Kings”, “What Child Is This”

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* Honorable mention: Del Castillo, as everyone knows (or should know) is the greatest Latin rock band ever to walk the face of the earth. This year they released a free download of "Silent Night".

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year!

Little trivia fact:
In Germany, the age of consent and legal drinking age both come at the same time -- 14.

Wow. When German's celebrate New Year, they don't mess around. Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures because I was toddler-wrangling all night, but one of our friends did, so hopefully I can get some from her to post soon.

Every year, it is legal to set off fireworks for a half-hour in Germany, from 12-12:30 AM on New Year's day. We went to our friends, Jeff and CC (who have the 3-year-old Other Andrew) for a party where there was lots of food and drink, and much partaking of both by all guests. At midnight everyone went outside, and the semi-tipsy guys began setting off firecrackers and large fireworks like it was their job. The entire countryside joined in for a fireworks display that was both loud and colorful, although Andrew was so tired that he nearly fell asleep right in the middle of it all. Soon they were joined by a group of rather inebriated Germans, mostly teenagers, who assisted in setting off bottle rockets a little too close to cars...than maybe aimed at the cars...and then joined in the fire breathing that Greg was overseeing.

One of the German guys (probably about 16), insisted on holding the torch pretty much BY the fire ball at the end, and when he was blowing the fuel, would keep his mouth so close that the fire was licking his lips the whole time. We're not sure if he was extraordinarily gifted or just too stone drunk to care.

I'm still tired and the boys have been a little crabby today, but it was a fun night.

Hope you all had a safe and great New Year's Eve, and get enough sleep to start your year off right!