Friday, April 29, 2011

This is what's happening today

It's Friday and you know what that means?  Baby Ruby came over to play!  Lila loves Baby Ruby.  The first word she said when she woke up from her nap was, "Baby?"  So cute.  The only problem is she likes to show her affection by "hugging" Ruby every five seconds.  And by hugging, I mean nearly strangling in a choke-hold.  I think I said "Gentle, Lila!" about 50 times in a ten minute span.
Notice Lila's chubby little mitts dangerously close to Ruby's neck.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

He makes all things well.

All will be well, and all will be well and all manner of things will be well.  Julian of Norwich.
why does she have a cat? I dunno.
Easter often makes me think of this quote because really, the promise of Easter is that all will be well.  When the sun set on Good Friday, even Jesus' most devoted disciples were in despair - after all, the man in whom they had put their hope of salvation had just been taken down from the cross on which he died and placed in a tomb.  It seemed that all of Jesus' promises of preparing a home for them, of changing the order of the world (you know, the last shall be first and all that), of a new kingdom coming, had died with the man they had given the last three years of their lives to.

I think sometimes we get stuck in Good Friday - or even Holy Saturday (or Black Saturday, as it is sometimes called) - and we forget about the promise of Resurrection Sunday.  It's so easy to view our circumstances through "Good Friday lenses."  We may look at the things that haven't quite turned out as we had hoped and think, "If God really loved me, I wouldn't be going through this right now."  Or we may (rightfully so) be distraught over the state of the world's tragedies and wonder, "How can there be a good God when all these horrible things are happening around us?"  If the story ended at Good Friday, those would be a valid questions.  The thing is, that wasn't the end of the story.

Some of you know that my cousin, Josh, committed suicide eight years ago.  Eight years feels like an eternity.  In eight years, I have graduated from college, gotten married, had a baby.  The last eight years have held a new lifetime for me.  There is a song on Brooke Fraser's new album that talks about the cycle of grief.  One of the choruses says, "Didn't want a year without you/ But somehow I've lived through another one."  That's how I feel every year on April 10th.  Some years it sneaks by unnoticed, but others - well it seems my heart remembers things that my mind forgets.

This year was one of those years when the grief felt fresh all over again.  Eight years later.  I told my friend Jordanne that I felt melodramatic to still be weeping after eight years.  But grief is like that.  It just rolls in and rolls out like waves.  Sometimes those waves are soft and lapping, other times they collect into a tsunami.  This year was a tsunami.  I couldn't understand it.  It's been eight years, shouldn't I be over this by now?  Last year wasn't like this.  What's different about this year?

As I reflected on it, I realized that this year perhaps felt similar to the year Josh died because of the date of Easter.  The year he died, Easter was April 20th - ten days later.  I remember how strange it felt to be celebrating the death and resurrection of Christ less than a week after we lowered Josh into his own tomb.  This year, the anniversary of Josh's death fell on a Sunday.  Exactly two weeks before Easter.  I think it felt a little too familiar, too similar to the way it felt eight years ago.

However, familiar though it might be, this year is not the same.  This year, just like many of the past eight year, I am armed with healing and truth and promise and hope because I have seen the truth of Julian's words come to be in my life.  My testimony is not only that he will make all things well, but that he DOES and he HAS.  Perhaps I will share a few of the things that make up that testimony another day, but for today - for Resurrection Day - I simply want to hesitate on the promise of no more tears, no more suffering, no more mourning, no more grief.  I want to walk around a bit in the hope of all things well.

Julian of Norwich had a series of visions of Christ as she lay on what appeared to be her deathbed.  She wrote them down and titled them Sixteen Revelations of Divine Love.  In one of her visions, Julian asks a question very similar to the one I mentioned above.  Julian asked, "Ah, good Lord, how could all things be well, because of the great harm which has come through sin to your creatures?"

Here is Julian's account of how the Lord responded:
And so our good Lord answered all the questions and doubts which I could raise, saying most comfortingly: I make all things well, and I can make all things well, and I shall make all things well, and I will make all things well; and you will see for yourself that every kind of thing will be well. ... And in these words God wishes us to be enclosed in rest and peace.
So today, Easter Sunday - Resurrection Sunday - the Kautzi family is rejoicing in the rest and peace that comes from a story that didn't end in a grave.  He makes all things well.  He can make all things well.  He shall make all things well.  He will make all things well.  I have seen for myself that every kind of thing will be well.  Including my Baby Girl who, after four days of a high, high fever, woke up this morning with NO FEVER!  Our very own little resurrection.  Hallelujah!  He is risen!  And now, it's your turn.  Say it with me:

He is risen indeed!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Lila is sicky.  AGAIN.  How many times have I written that in a blog post?  Too many to count.  I really am starting to wonder if there is some flaw in my parenting that is leaving my child vulnerable to every illness known to man.  We've had multiple colds and flus, croup (a mild case), lots of teething episodes that masqueraded as illnesses, a reaction (we think) to her MMR vaccination* and now this mystery illness. (*At the risk of being controversial, I just want to say for the record that I don't regret giving her the vaccine despite the reaction.  Measles, Mumps and Rubella are probably much worse to suffer through than a day or two of a fever and vomiting.  Just saying.)

Poor Baby Girl.  She's on day 2 of fighting something that is causing a really high fever.  Last night we woke up to her crying and when I went in to check on her she was so warm I thought her skin might melt off.  I stripped her down and took her temperature and my heart dropped into my stomach.  104.7°.  She was miserable, crying uncontrollably, thrashing around, inconsolable, moaning, gulping down water.  I was miserable for her.  I felt so helpless.  So clueless.  So ill-equipped.

Thankfully I don't have to do this motherhood thing by myself.  I am so grateful for the four (yes, FOUR) people I woke up at 4:00am.  My first calls were to my mom, then my sister (both nurses).  On their advice I called Children's Mercy's ask-a-nurse line.  While I waited for them to call back I got impatient and called my friend Holly (a pediatric nurse practitioner), but she didn't answer.  So I called my friend Julie who fortunately was on-call so she woke up to my call.  She was so sweet to me despite the hour of the morning.  She told me I was a good mom, that Lila was going to be okay, that I didn't need to go to the ER, and what to do to get Baby Girl's fever down.  While I was on the line with her, the ask-a-nurse lady called back and I got similar advice from her.  Then Holly called back and the advice was confirmed again (not that I didn't trust Julie, but you moms out there know that it's so easy to second guess EVERYTHING when it comes to doing the right thing for your child - especially in crisis situations).  I felt like the Lord was being very gracious to me with some very clear answers for the situation.  

Soon Lila's fever was down to 103.3° so I knew the Tylenol/ibuprofen regiment was working.  She was still pretty miserable though so we migrated back and forth between our bedroom and Lila's room, from the rocking chair to standing and swaying.  Eventually I rocked her to sleep and I collapsed back into bed for all of an hour and a half when she woke up again - shivering and sweating because her fever had broken (hooray!).  When her fever was still down in the morning I thought we might be in the clear, but Little Sister told me to take her to the doctor anyway.  I'm so glad I took her in because by the time we got back home her fever was back up to 102.8° and she was miserable again.  (By the way, Uncle Doctor said she has no visible signs of infection so they took some labs and hopefully we'll have some answers tomorrow.)

We had to go through the same extended routine as last night to get her down for a nap.  Both of us were in tears again.  She was miserable and I felt so sad for her.  I kept giving her choices of what might soothe her; "Do you want Mommy to rock you?  Do you want Mommy to stand up?  Do you want to get in your bed?  Do you want a drink of water?"  Finally I asked, "Do you want Mommy to sing?" And she sobbed, "Yeeaaahhh."  So I sang the first song that came to mind: Jesus Loves Me.  I have often thought that song is really cliche and I haven't even really sung it to her that much, but as I sang it to her this afternoon, I started to cry because the words had never felt more relevant or promising:

Jesus loves me, this I know for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to him belong.  They are weak, but He is strong.

My sick little one was so very weak, but the One who loves her is strong!  As I sang to Lila, I felt all my desperation to help my baby feel better overflow.  I cried and prayed and sang about ten rounds of the song until I finally felt her go limp in my arms as she gave in to sleep. 

Unfortunately, the nap didn't last long and the only thing she wanted to do when she got up was empty the contents of my purse and wallet:
The alternative was watching Mahna Mahna for the 40th time today.
We both were glad when the Husband came home from work early to cuddle Baby Girl.  By the way, it should go without saying that the Husband was by my side each moment of our miserable heart-breaking night.  But just in case it doesn't (go without saying), of course he was.  He's that kind of guy.

I have a game plan for tonight which includes setting my alarm to make sure Lila stays pumped full of ibuprofen to keep her fever down.  All the same, I'm still dreading a repeat of last night.  I just have to keep reminding myself that Jesus loves my Little One (this I know) and she belongs to him.  After all, her name is Lila.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


The last few weeks I've been trying to teach Lila some new words.  She now says wee (swing), ow-de-goi (outside), da-da (cracker), maa (moo), baa (baa), and oy-yo (love you).  I'm sure there's more she's saying that I haven't figured out yet what she means.  The girl will not stop talking.  Mostly it's incoherent, but there's pretty much a running commentary all day long.  Most days it's cute, but some days it just about drives me nuts.
Lila looking "ow-de-goi" - photo by Jewel Anderson
This day (as in today) all the babbling was cute.  Also, this day happens to be my birthday.  Thank you.  (I'm responding to your polite, "Oh! Happy Birthday!" that you would probably say if we were talking and not blog-municating.)  I love my birthday.  Although I will admit it's just kind of hard to hold on to the magic now that I'm a grown up.  Birthdays used to feel...fresh and exciting and full of wonder.  Today my birthday felt full of responsibility and significantly lacking in excitement and wonder.

It wasn't a horrible birthday.  I've definitely had worse (like the year I was pregnant with the Baby Girl and felt nauseous and lonely and hormonal and I spent my birthday crying because I felt left out and miserable.  Fun stuff.)  Today just felt like a grown-up's birthday.  Which I suppose it was.  Twenty-eight-year-old mama definitely qualifies as grown up.

And just to prove my maturity, I gave myself a really big present this year.  And by big, I mean expensive.  A new sewer pipe.  Yay.  Exactly what every girl wants for her birthday - to drop a couple thousand buckaroos on something that is buried 12 feet underground and holds poop.

Also, I had to work today.  I only work one day a week (spoiled?  yes, I am.) and this year my birthday happened to fall on that one day of the week.  Bummer.  And not only did I have to get up early on my birthday (NOT my cup of tea), but the kids were BONKERS.  Which could maybe be explained by the fact that they knew they were getting ice cream sandwiches for my birthday treat AND it was a full moon last night.  Kids go nuts whenever there's a full moon.  I swear.  Any of you other teachers notice this trend?

Anyway, a new sewer pipe and a day of wrangling little werewolves wasn't exactly my dream birthday.  But there were definitely great things about today.  Like getting loads of "Happy Birthday" texts from friends who remember my birthday even though I don't have Facebook to remind them.  And my sister-in-law and nieces coming up to school to surprise me with a gift and hugs.  And my parents taking us out to dinner and giving me a gift card to my Favorite Store Ever.  And the Husband giving me the new Brooke Fraser album and a promise for a "grown-up day" in which he calls in sick to stay home with Baby Girl and I get to go get a massage and go to lunch with a friend!  And maybe even Target!  By myself!  Without a purse full of diapers and crackers! (I know, it's totally lame that a solo trip to Target excites me, but BELIEVE me, running errands sans toddler sounds like a day at the spa!)

But the best birthday treat of all was when I put Lila to bed tonight.  I decided to rock her a bit in my newly finished rocking chair (there's a post about that coming soon!) so I could get some extra snuggle time with her.  So we rocked and I prayed for her and eventually she fell asleep in my arms.  I got up to put her in bed and as I lowered her into her crib she said, totally unprompted and in a very sleepy voice, "Oy-yo."  Now, isn't that enough to melt a mama's heart?  Best. Birthday. Present. Ever.

Oy-yo, too Baby Girl.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

four lessons

Anyone who is married will surely agree that it's super hard to have a healthy marriage without the help and support of family and friends.  And anyone who has kids I'm sure will give me a "here! here!" when I say that it is downright impossible to have a healthy family without the help of other people in your life.  You know, people who tell you your daughter is normal when she pops out 8 teeth at once, or more importantly, tell you you are normal when you feel like you just might want to drop-kick your screaming newborn to Timbuktu.  Or people who make special trips to your house to hold your newborn so you can shower (or brush your teeth for that matter!)  Or people who read your blog and make encouraging comments about your trials and tribulations of motherhood.  Marriage and parenthood are two of the hardest AND most rewarding things anyone will ever do.  And you simply can't do them well without a team.  Can I get an AMEN?

Two Thursdays a month our family gets together with some friends to learn how to be a community that supports healthy marriages and families.  We call them Thursday dinners. Thursday Dinners create an atmosphere in which unrelated people become family.   Amongst us, there is a family with 8 kids, some single people, some dating people, some engaged people, some newly-married people, some not-as-newly married people, some people with new babies and some people with some not-as-baby-ish babies (like us).  We're not all in the same stage of life, but we all value healthy families.  There's no agenda - just a meal and play/conversation time.  Thursday Dinners are simply a place to create extended family.  It's awesome.  You should come!  This is my official invitation to you!

The beauty of Thursday Dinners is that everyone brings something to share so there's not a huge burden on one person to cook and host every time.  This week, one of the things we signed up to bring was chocolate chip cookies.  So this afternoon, I set about making them.  Lila helped:
Immediately after I snapped this picture, she stuck her fist in the dough.
Turns out she's not all that helpful.
And this was her helping outfit:
Why does her head look so huge when she's naked?
After the cookies were made, I put some clothes on her and then went to get myself dressed as well.  She was awfully quiet in the kitchen (which is always worrisome) so I went to investigate.  I found this:
That's right, she's playing in the spice cabinet.  Very safe.
And upon further investigation, I found this:
I believe her plan was to transfer all the spices onto the
magic carpet doormat, but fortunately I caught her after
only three had made the transfer
 So what have we learned?
1. Toddlers aren't all that helpful in the kitchen (I think I already learned that lesson)
2. Spices are for cooking, not for playing (or sorting or organizing or whatever she was doing)
3. Marriage and parenthood are both easier when you have a family of friends to help you do them well (seriously, come to our next Thursday Dinner!)
4. Baby Girl looks way cute in piggy-tails

The end.

Monday, April 4, 2011