Tess Hospital Album

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The basics

Tess Harper
8 lbs 2 oz
(thanks to my talented friends tina and rhonda for the pics!)

humiliating belly shots

One of my best friends is a photographer. A really good photographer. I usually take advantage of her services all the time. However, I won't let her anywhere near my belly. I have never been a fan of maternity pictures. I'm not saying that pregnancy is gross (well lots of it is) or pregnant people aren't beautiful. They can be. I am just not a fan. Some maternity pictures I have seen are really neat ( that is the best adjective I can come up with)....but what do you do with them? Really, I am not hanging those things in my house.
That being said. I do want to document (at least a little bit) the giantness of this belly I lug around every day. Especially since it should be partly gone in less than 36 hours :)
So here are some funny shots me and Owen took.

quantum mechanics

Since I am supposed to have a baby Thursday morning, Wednesday is my last day of work for about 8 weeks. I have been working really hard to get ready so that I don't have to "lesson plan" over my maternity leave. I got through the first 3-4 weeks with ease but hit a major bump with quantum mechanics. This isn't something most people get. I'm not even sure I really get it. A video or worksheets won't cut it. I wasted hours trying to figure out the best format for notes, practice, etc. Nothing seemed to make sense or like I could leave it with a sub. Electron configurations, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and orbital diagrams take lots of explanation and hand holding.
And then I remember something they told us way back in one of my education classes in college. I don't remember what class it was, or probably most of what I was taught. But I do remember the professor saying this: "80% or more of your students will learn the same amount with or without you." I don't remember if they were trying to take some of the pressure off of us babies or inspire us to seek out those 20% who need us.
But for right now it reminds me that most of them still probably won't get it even if I was there. That it doesn't matter. This has no little to no impact on their life. I can stop stressing.
It is not about me.
We do this as Christians. We think we have to ___________________________ to have significance, to "save" our friends, etc.
It isn't about us.
Sure God calls us to do His work, but we can not take any kind of credit for the results. We should still strive to do our best at work or be obediant. I think that is all God cares about. Not the end result. He is responsible for the full 100% of that.


I start to wince whenever someone ones to bring up the coming election in group conversation.
Don't get me wrong. It is important. It should be discussed.
I just don't like it.
I don't always no where I stand.
This registered Republican is considering voting in the other direction. But truth be told, I haven't done my research. I'm still on the fence.
As always it seems there are no good options.
Do I go with certain moral issues? Do I go with what I think is best for the hope of the country? Or who will be best at foreign policy? Or who will be best for my bank account. Shaun's no voting philosophy is sounding better all the time ( don't lecture me in your comments.... I will vote)

Being a teacher makes you liberal even if you don't want to be. Reading Shane Claiborne doesn't leave you much choice.

But secretly I still harbor all these conservative things.
Me and Shaun are responsible. We have good health insurance. We are saving for our retirement. Part of me thinks I should be rewarded for this. Why should I have to pay for people who aren't responsible like me? Sure they of course should have some basic rights and services, but shouldn't they do something for them. Shouldn't mine be better.

And then I think about all those troubling parables Jesus told. He paid the workers who worked one hour the same as the ones who worked all day. He didn't care so much about fair. About responsible. About giving people what they were due. He loved.
The early church didn't care so much about 401Ks or portfolios or social security. They took care of each other. I'm not sure that concept is entirely democratic either. What the bible has to say about politics doesn't fit neatly into either party. It dabbles in the moral right, and lingers to the bleeding left.
I'm not even sure Jesus would vote.
You might argue with me and and say these things I am pondering are church issues not government ones. And to that I agree. Sort of. But only sort of.

Before I vote, I promise to do my research. But I will still squirm when the topic is brought up in large groups. When someone makes a snide comment. In either direction.


I guess this post is probably a week after the fact.
But maybe it is more timely than i think.
A week is about as long as it takes for us to forget. For the next headline to take over.
About this exact time last week, I was making a run to WalMart for water, flashlights and peanut butter. Just in case we lost power.
A hurricane was heading our way, well it would be just a tropical storm by the time it got to DFW but still possibly strong enough to knock out the power for a little while. I also tried to fill up my car with gas before the gas prices went up too much.
Those closer to Galveston had a lot more prep work.
My brother. My friend Laura. My friend Julie.
This is Texas. Plenty of people we know live that way.

Friday night I went to hang out with some women from church. One of the women works at our mission center and was saying how rough it was to see them stream in all day. It isn't like watching Katrina on TV. That was half a day away. Houston is just down the interstate.

Saturday morning. Still no hurricane. Mainly because it was camped out over Houston and just dumping on them.
It could have been worse. My brother had power back on in almost 24 hours and will need a new roof. My parents in College Station lost their fence and a tree blew into my sister's house ( not through just against). My friend Laura won't have power for weeks.

Our version of the storm was pretty lame. A little rain. A little wind. We established that the power wasn't going out and hit the mall to buy some birthday presents before Tess gets here. Oddly the parking lot was packed.
O was crazy hyper and we thought maybe some time in the toddler play area would do him good. It was full of kids too. Many of their parents were on cell phones calling friends and relatives saying that they made it out of Houston. Were ok. Were having a hard time finding a hotel.
These people had faces. I could overhear their conversations. I wasn't watching them on TV. They were stranded. I wanted to do something but didn't. I didn't have any money or an extra room. So I just got in my car and went home slightly rattled.

Monday around lunch I started having contractions. Steady ones that took my breath away and made my back hurt. I taught my last block. Stayed late getting a few things ready just in case and finally made it home and hit the couch. Contractions kept coming.
I tried drinking water, laying down and eventually gave up. (these are the tricks that usually make my braxton hicks contractions go away). At about 5 minutes apart we took O next door and headed to the hospital.
We were the only ones in triage. The nurse did not think I was in labor but wanted to monitor my contractions for at least an hour and see what was happening. It was calm and quiet and all you could hear was the baby's heartbeat on the monitor and my quiet cussing through contractions.
And then in a frenzy a young hispanic women comes in. She is carrying twins and about to deliver them right there in triage. She is from Houston. Displaced and in labor times two. Already at a 10. The nurses rush around. Page doctors. Any doctor since hers is out of town. They try to keep her from pushing until she gets across the hall. Me and Shaun suddenly get quiet. She is alone and in the wrong city. Shaun goes out and slips some money in her mom's purse in the waiting room. She makes it across the hall and delivers two boys before my hour is ever up. She had a face, even if I never saw it through the hospital curtains. I definantly heard it. I heard her cries of pain. Her social security number. What she had for lunch and her fear. I do not know what she left behind. If she can go back yet. If she has power or not. But she is not some picture on TV or in the newspaper. Or even a phone call to a friend or relative. She was lying in the bed next to me.
Obviously, me and Shaun did not have a baby that night. After about an hour they gave me a shot and sent me home. The contractions stopped around midnight. But I did not stop thinking about the girl who had come in after me. Faces. Real faces make it hard to ignore tragedy. When they are crying next to you they are not so easily forgotten with the next headline.


I forget that race is still very much an issue.

I hate to be reminded.

Yesterday ( I teach highschool), our spirit "dress up" day was Hip Hop Day. As I walked into the school I thought how fun and original. Lots of students and even teachers participated. They were in their warmup up suits. Crooked hats. Big chains. Jerseys. Big pants. Adiadas. And of course shades. I wanted to bust out with some Run DMC as I walked down the hall. And then I got to first period. It only took a few minutes for me to notice some major tension. Mainly it was the white kids who dressed up and participated. Most of my black students were not amused. They felt mocked. Despite the seating chart that they usually sit in. My kids were now arranged into a white side and a black side. The white kids didn't really know how to respond and the tension increased. At first I just told them to be quiet. Then I tried to ignore it. Then I finally had to address it. I think I even botched it.

This current election is bringing out ugly race issues ( and gender issues) that I thought most of the people in our country had moved passed.

I have a friend who was looking into adoption. White babies cost twice as much and take 3-4X as long to get. Black and mixed racial babies are half price. That makes me angry.

I don't have an answer. I know the process is slow. I know that it gets better with each generation. But this is not fast enough.

in training

I go through phases where I like to pretend that I am a runner. Unlike some people who truly run....I usually have to have a purpose. An event or race that I am training for. A challenge to beat Shaun or finish under a certain time.

I haven't been able to run for a while. Yes, I know a person who ran like 10 miles the day before she delivered. I am not that girl. The most running I do is to the bathroom. Too much activity gives me contractions........and trust me I want this baby to stay put for exactly 12 more days.

My body howeve is apparently in it's own training routine. She is training me to get used to waking up all night. I pee at least every two hours ( I hope she doesn't want to eat that much). At least every other night I am up for an hour or more. Just awake. Wide awake. Sometimes I lay there. Pray. Lesson plan. Count backwards ( my equivalent of sheep). Sometimes I give up and get out of bed and read or watch tv. I've discovered that 5 am is a great time to go to WalMart. If you can make your way around all those stockers.

Last time I remember waking up around 3 am, not being able to go back to sleep and watching old episodes of things like Full House and Saved by the Bell on TV. When Owen got here......that is exactly when he would wake up for his nightly feedings. I don't know that I can prepare or train for all my sleepless nights ahead.....but my body is sure trying. It is at least getting used to being awake when I shouldn't. Learning the middle of the night TV schedules. It amazes me that my body does that. That it knows and gets ready, despite my reluctance.

This race has no true finish line, but in less than 2 weeks I won't be spending these sleepless hours alone. This is what I have been training for.

That's all for now. I'm off to WalMart before the rest of the world wakes up.

2 more weeks to speak like a grown up

My friend offered to lend me this velcro belly thing they gave her in the hospital that she swore helped her with her c-section recovery. I looked online to check it out. I found a few for sale and it was named the "swelly belly band".
I may borrow it from my friend, but refuse to call anything a swelly belly band.

I also have a "boppy".......which if you don't know is an essential U-shaped pillow used for nursing, tummy time and various other things. There is a slightly different brand with a little mroe stuffing, called "my breast friend". I absolutely refuse to buy or use anything called my breast friend no matter how great it is. I would tell you to google it but am afraid of the images that might pop up.

People often point to my belly and refer to me in terms like "preggers" and "prego". Not a fan of being called anything that shares a name ( or at least a spelling) with spaghetti sauce brand.

For right now, I like to ignore or roll my eyes at this kind of talk. But soon all kinds of ridiculous talk will be coming out of my mouth. O got called pretty much anything that started w/ a p as a baby. I wasn't sure why.....but nonsensical names just tumbled out of my mouth. He was my little papya, popcorn, porkchop, pumpkin.....you name it. We picked up his paci off the ground and drank from his baba (bottle...not my own pep name for my boobs) and wrapped him snugly in his blankie. I will speak primarily of events involving orafaces. Spit up and dirty diapers and detailed descriptions of each. This doesn't even include breast feeding.

Now, about the silliest word I use is asking him if he has to go "potty". Sometimes I even say I have to go potty. About every hour or so these days.

As much as I don't want to be pregnant anymore ( and how is cankles for a funny word).....I will relish in my last 2 weeks to talk like a grown up. To talk about the metric system and movies I want to see ( and might even get to....Burn after Reading), food that I don't produce and I even speak semi-fluent StarWars with Owen.

flu shots

Me and O just came from getting our flu shots.
He has a Tazmanian devil bandaid, I have Bugs Bunny. My arm is already starting to feel a bit warm and heavy and I am hoping to not feel bad in the morning. It will be well worth it if it keeps me and Tess from getting the flu this year.
Vaccines are kind of interesting.
The flu vaccine for example….people in the CDC “predict” in Jan or Feb which strains of the virus they think will be the most prevalent. Grow those viruses in chicken eggs. Kill the virus and use it to make the vaccine.
One shot that just might prevent me from a week of achy fever and chills.
They might be wrong at the CDC. Sometimes it mutates. Sometimes we get sick anyways………but……….with the vaccine it isn’t usually as bad. Last year O was the only one in our house to get a shot. We all 3 got the flu. O happily played and watched cartoons after his does of Motrin to deal with the fever, while me and Shaun wanted to curl up and die.
I am kind of amazed that a shot of tiny dead viruses can keep me from getting sick, or at least sicker. It is all based on our immune system and it’s memory.
I wish I handled sin like that. That I remembered. That all it took was one dose of mistake and my mind could fight it off next time. Even better, if it was dead ( like the virus in a vaccine) to begin with. Expose myself to just a little bit……to pride and selfishness and envy ( I could go on here)………and my heart would some how know how to ward them off better next time.
My heart often seems to have no memory defense system. I think God tires of me making the same mistakes over and over.
And I guess he does.
So even though there is no vaccine for my heart, I am thankful that at least he does not tire of just ME.

buying in bulk

We tried to the Sams thing once. I just couldn't do it. I like the idea of having a year's supply of toilet paper in my garage, or never running out of paper towels...but I had serious difficulty in dropping 20$ on toilet paper. I would much rather purchase my 8 roll pack every few weeks or so. Actually I prefer the 4 roll pack because it actually fits in a bag and isn't so awkward to carry.
When I order contacts, I usually only get a 3 month supply. Shaun gets his for a year.
When gas prices were up close to 4$ a gallon...I refused to fill my tank. I wasn't saving any money. If anything I was wasting it......along with my time......but I didn't want to see the price column click up into the 80s. Sometimes I just didn't want to wait for it to fill up. Sometimes I was hoping it would drop in the next few days. Regardless I always drove off with my half full tank, and would have to return sooner than I wished for another half tank.
Gas dropped a bit and I started filling up again.
Shaun's work gave him a Costco card.
Costco is far superior to Sams and I have been really trying to buy bigger. I don't think I am saving much dough on the actual purchases......but the less trips I have to make to the store....possibly the less random things I will buy. I am also starting to feel more conviction about my wastefulness. If I buy one big bottle of detergent, rather than 3 little ones......I cut the plastic wastes in at least half.
This is a slow process for me.
Today I needed dishsoap. I like those cute little gel caplets. It was 6$ for 20ish.....or 15$ for 60. I will be doing lots of dishes in the next month ( bottles, bottles and more bottles) but I still put the small container in my cart. Who spends 15$ on dish soap! A few seconds later, I went back and traded my little container for the big one. I tried not to look as the checker scanned it a few minutes later.

I know this connection has been made dozens of times already......but I can't help thinking about a song about getting your 5$ fill on God that week. ( It was written when you could almost drive on 5$ worth of gas for the week). Not enough to cost you too much, just enough to get you through the week. I have to admit that sometimes I show up on Sunday for my 5$ fill up.

Do you think they sell Jesus at Costco? I want him in bulk.


I like to play that twisted game w/ shaun when something is new. I ask him if I look different. He stares at me blankly......I assumes goes through the checklist, is her hair shorter, a different color, is that outfit new, etc. Last weekend I asked him that questions. I got the blank checklist stare and finally he settled on "did you get more freckles?".
uh, no. I got my eyebrows waxed. No major change. Although it is my favorite 10$ makeover.
Teenagers seem to have this dramatic difference down. One of my students from last year swung by my room and asked if she looked different. I didn't have to stare blankly or go through a mental checklist. Everything was different.
Last year she sported chains, spikes, chunky shoes, dark colors and rainbow jewlery. I am pretty sure every item in her closet was purchased at Hot Topic. She was often seen walking down the hall holding hands with a different girl every few months.
The day she asked me this she was wearing a preppy jumper, cute little flats, and plain boring hair. I said yes of course she looked different. It seemed like her new wardrobe also came with a new set of goals and study habits and I tried to encourage her in those. Later that after noon, I had to tell her to add a little bit of space between her and the boy she was almost mounting in the hallway.
Amazing what kind of change can happen in 8 short weeks.
As a grown up I resist this. Sure I like a new haircut and a new outfit or maybe even a crazy nailpolish color.......but I wouldn't even know where to begin making over my entire image.
I would like to think that this is because I know who I am ....and there isn't any reason to wake up different.
The truth is, my identity should reflect Christ. And hopefully occasionally it does. Mostly I think I just look like me. To be more like Him - we all need to make some changes. Often I think they are too hard or too dramatic or costs too much. A true life of love and service involves a lot more than a 10$ eyebrow wax. Maybe I need to learn a few things from my newly prepped out ex-student.

Generation Hex

This blog is all about 2 things I don’t usually do.
1. Blog tours. Despite the fact that my friend Tina runs some of these, and you often get free books ( I love books). I have never done one. Is it like selling out? What if you don’t like the book? That kind of thing.
2. Read books with titles like Generation Hex: Understanding the Subtle Dangers of Wicca. Makes me a little scared. It is either going to be over the top conservative or just weird over the top. ( I was pleased to discover it was mostly neither).
So two things out of my comfort zone…..here goes.

Like I said I was a bit reluctant to get into the book, but was surprised to learn that Wicca is actually one of the fastest growing “religions” in the US, especially in teenagers. I teach high school and started to realize maybe there was a little more here for me than I had first thought.
I did have to struggle through the first few chapters about Harry Potter and Halloween, but as soon as I hit the first interview with a 16 year old Wiccan I started to picture some of my students. Wicca, or “the craft” isn’t something usually discussed or thought to be widespread but I now have a suspicion that I have more Wiccans sitting in my desk than Buddhists or Islamic followers combined. Goth doesn’t necessarily equal Wiccan but most people put labels on those kids. 9 years of teaching has made me realize that dark clothes, odd make up and slightly different “outside reading” doesn’t make for a bad scary kid. These students are often quiet, kind and extremely smart. I also can’t help but notice that they are usually hurting and searching which might be what led them to Wicca.
The authors do a fabulous job of pointing out what draws people, and is continuing to draw people to this set of beliefs. As a Christian we should be wise about what is appealing about another religion and what our beliefs say about it. For example, there is a very large draw of women and teen girls into Wicca. Part of what is attractive is the strong role of women and focus on some of those feminine traits. Both Jesus and Paul spoke of women in a more elevated role than they currently had in society. God is traditionally seen as male, but the truth is he is neither male nor female and all of the above. A more balanced perspective might help some of the women seeking that aspect of God, rather than finding it in the Wiccan goddess.
The thing that I like most about this book, wasn’t specific to Wicca but just good tips on how to deal with ANYONE with a different belief systems than you. It stressed
1. Education – a good portion of the book was just devoted to what Wicca is, what it is not and how it compares to Christianity.
2. Kindness and respect – listening, not showing up with an agenda, not taking jabs or making jokes, arguing or pushing. Both authors were very respectful in their interviews and research.
3. That we have something to learn from them. This must be balanced carefully with the truths of the Bible. For example, Wiccans have an amazing respect for creation and the Earth. As Christians many of us could apply some of those practices ( though not the belief systems).

If you would like to learn more about the book, Wicca or the authors ( Dillon Burroughs and Marla Alupoaicei) please check out this website: http://www.blogtourspot.com/genhex-blog-tour/genhex-media-release/.