Monday, March 28, 2011


Lexi and I played peek-a-boo with her favorite blanket. Her deep belly laugh cracks me up every time (that is, if you can hear it over Eric's commentary on helicopters and other business stuff :P).

And obviously, since I am not one to upload every picture and video of my baby (since this has never intentionally been a baby blog), I am only putting these up to bring some joy to my far away family and relatives.

Our time in Nebraska with Eric's family has been full of good times and way too many blueberry scones. But can you ever have too many of my mother-in-laws blueberry scones? I think not.


I think she may just be a musical prodigy. Either that or a hip hop dancer.
Clearly, being at Grandma Staswick's is lots of fun.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Deflecting the Zoop

For those of you trying to block an inevitable Zoop, I now have the official rules from the Zooper Masters. Sisters of mine, you can thank me later. :) For those of you have the unfortunate circumstance of not knowing what a Zoop is, all I can say is watch your chins.

Describe to me the rules concerning the blocking of a zoop, especially the timing of said block and when it is allowed.
-Nolan Hilliard

I believe this is from section iv, article 2. "A zoop can only be blocked in one manner. The sole approved manner of blocking a zoop is wth a raised hand brought up straight underneath the chin, perpendicular to the waist, or parallel to the line between the eyes. A zoop may not be blocked in any other manner, including, but not limited to ducking, tucking the chin, running, biting, and/or avoidance.
Concerning the timing of a zoop, once the fingers of the zooping hand have passed the midpoint of the chin, directly below the nose or on the line between the two middle teeth and the belly button (in case a nose is crooked), a zoop can on longer be blocked, but must be patiently accepted in stillness and resignation. However, once the fingers of the zooping hand have returned past this point, a block may be positioned in order to protect against a double zoop (or a situation known in some regions as multiple zoopage). The timing of a block can never be too early, as potential zoopies are encouraged to keep a continuous block (the "on guard" position) when in the presence of known zoopers.
-Josh Walton

Monday, March 21, 2011

Mushy Brain and Burned Apples

So I'm sitting on the couch, hanging out on Facebook and enjoying some down time while Lexi naps, when I smell something burning. Our windows are open, due to the warm weather today, so I think about the fact that our neighbors are probably making grilled cheese sandwiches and left one on the pan too long. Or the Barbeque place next door's smoke house went a little awry. In any case, I wasn't cooking anything so there was nothing to worry about.

I continued to casually peruse the internet, write a few emails, check up on a few friends. The burning smell is now much more pronounced. Not to worry, I tell myself, as I look at pictures of my friend's new baby. Smoke begins filling the apartment. Hmmm.... Maybe Eric is burning some toast? He looks too innocent, though, as he sits at his desk working (with headphones on). Then I realize that the view to my kitchen has been reasonably made blurry by smoke, stirring me from my perch on the couch to just check and make sure that it definitely is NOT our apartment that is on fire.

I know I'm not cooking anything, but I go into the kitchen anyway, thinking maybe I left a burner on from lunch or something.

And there on the stove is my pot of apples, burning to a charred crisp in their pot underneath a high blue flame. Oh yeah........ I was making applesauce for Alexandria....

Earth to Bethany.... Now that my apples are black and my apartment is filled with stinky burning apples smoke. I know I'm an idiot, so no need to laugh. The bad thing is that I've been doing this for the past year....starting something and then walking away and forgetting about it COMPLETELY. I blame the fact that I was pregnant, but Lexi was born TEN MONTHS AGO! Isn't my brain supposed to work correctly by now?

That firetruck that I hear on Foster Avenue is probably coming to my house, signaled by all the smoke. Hopefully the ceiling fan will do the trick.

On the upside, maybe I can start a Smoked Applesauce trend in the baby food department. Alexandria seems to think it's pretty great. But then again, she does eat spinach in her oatmeal for breakfast. And likes it.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

T.M.S. (Total Mom Syndrome)

Sometimes it's really hard being a mom. I love caring for my baby, but I feel like I am in "Mom mode" all the time. Nurturing, caring, making sure everyone is O.K. Diagnosis? Total Mom Syndrome. It's perfectly fine for me to be this way with Alexandria. If I wasn't, I might be worried. But lately, I am even beginning to be like this with my friends. Letting them know when to be careful, warning them of possible rough spots ahead to look out for, making them dinner so they eat something healthy that day, giving them advice, analyzing their relationships, letting them know they are loved... I don't know how they feel about it, but I know it is definitely beginning to annoy me.

Soooo, where is the switch that I can turn off and on so that when my kid goes to bed at night I can be the care-free, "un-mom" version of myself? And I don't want to be a Mom to my friends! I must make it stop!

I took a spiritual gifts assessment this week and surprise! Guess what my top 3 are? No, don't guess, I will just tell you and you can laugh (if you know me, that is...).

1) Wisdom
2) Discernment
and tied for 3) Exhortation and Shepherding/Pastoral Care

I laughed when I read the results, and Eric laughed along with me. Partly because it is so true in certain contexts, and partly because in a typical church setting (which this test was designed for) the answers are completely and utterly absurd. So there you go. I am even an annoying Mom in my spiritual giftings....blessed with enough common sense to wrap around the earth three times.

(If you need any, let me know. I am happy to share.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Wednesday in the Mind of Bethany

Spring is made sweeter when it arrives after such a long winter. The sun is so welcome on my face today. Not on Lexi's though. She kept squealing until I pulled the shade of her stroller down.

Sometimes I wish I could blog in pictures instead of words, with all of my thoughts coming out of my head in speech bubbles. This could have something to do with my love for graphic novels, or just the fact that I am in the middle of Craig Thompson's Carnet de Voyage and pretty much I am completely in love. You might think that adults reading comics is a little immature, but if you think that, then clearly you have never read a real graphic novel before. Read Blankets, also by Craig Thompson (can you tell I'm a fan?) and it will change your life. Just don't read it if you are under 18, due to adult content (aka...lovely sisters, stick to the Sunday comics...).

Living in an apartment isn't so bad, especially when I discovered today at the park that Lexi can crawl up stairs. Who knew?! Unfortunately, her version of crawling down the stairs is much simpler: crawl to the edge and let gravity do the rest.

There is a homeless man who lives in our neighborhood and sets up a permanent camp under one of the bridges along our walking trail during the winter months. On cold days, when I have been brave enough to take a walk, I will see him under there with a friend, sitting in chairs around a warm little fire. On warm, sunny spring days like today, I always think about him, and wonder if he opens his eyes in the morning and is happy simply because he know he won't be cold today.

I had a lot of misgivings and preconceptions about our church's small groups, called Gospel Communities, which kept Eric and I from joining one for the past several months. We finally decided that it was a step that we simply needed to take, and we have both been pleasantly surprised. I am challenged by the faith of the people in this group, who are truly being serious about walking with God and what that looks like in an ordinary life. I am realizing more and more that being a person who loves God with all he/she is has very little to do with reading the Bible and spending tons of time in traditional forms of prayer. While reading the Bible to know the truth and to know the character of God is essential, I think that Evangelical Christians have pushed the traditional view of "if you don't have a quiet time with the Lord every day then you are not walking with him/or your relationship is not in a good place" way too hard. I don't think that this is true at all. However, that is not to say that you shouldn't ever read the Bible. After all, Jesus knew the scriptures and could spot the Truth from a lie, which is essential to walking with God and living a righteous life. He also spent a lot of time in prayer, adjusting his heart to be in line with God's. But mostly, He simply lived in community with others - spending his life in close relationship with others. Because that's where true life happens. In community with others.(and I'm not talking about a once a week Sunday service here...I am talking about being in daily relationships with people - being involved and intertwined in the lives of others.)
The point of me saying this is in no way to try to convince you that I am right, (and there is no conclusion here, just thoughts) it's just something that Eric and I have been wrestling with lately and I think I am finally coming to peace with it. The way I live out my faith is very different from the normal labeled Christian, and I am finally beginning to understand that there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.

I made some awesome enchiladas (courtesy of Rick Bayless, check him out) for a dinner party I hosted here Monday night, but have been so bothered by the fact that they were barely spicy... Two days later, I keep having the impulse to call all the invited ladies up personally and apologize for the lack of spice. The funny thing is, if it had been any more spicy, I may have been the only one eating it. Thanks, Mexico, for destroying my perspective on the definition of flavor.

Speaking of Mexico, incredibly enough, I found a round-trip ticket to said country for under 300 dollars, which is kind of unheard of, so I bought it on the spot. Lexi and I are taking a little "working vacation" to Mexico City to be with my family and help out during the recovery of one of my family members who will be having a medical procedure done at the end of this month. Needless to say, Grandparents and young aunties are rather excited to see a certain someone....(who is, in fact, not me....), and I am hoping that Lexi's presence will bring some extra healing and cheer (along with the food that I will be cooking).

I saw some leaf buds about to burst open on the branches of a tree today. I love everything about this season. There is so much hope in new life. And so much joy.

I watched the movie "It's kind of a Funny Story" this past weekend, about a boy who checks himself into the hospital for being depressed and suicidal. He spends a week in the mental ward, discovering himself (starts expressing himself through making art), finding healing, and building meaningful relationships with the other patients. Art prevails. I am in love.

And don't be envious of the inner workings of my mind. I haven't even touched on what goes on in there while I'm sleeping. Don't worry. I will spare you. And it's not even 3 o'clock yet.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Blue Eyes Bug Eyes

Today I am so thankful for my little bug-eyed baby.
We make each other laugh even on the gloomiest of days.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Snowy Forests and a Dreamy Baby

I have been very hesitant to show these art pieces I worked on this winter for fear or either 1) unwanted criticism or 2) people telling me to do something with them, such as start working on something more serious (aka children's book illustrations). After being kindly yelled at by my good friend Dan, who is an incredible concept artist, I broke down and showed these to the ladies in my Moms group today. Who all pretty much overwhelmingly let me know that these are actually good. And I might actually have some sort of a future with this kind of idea.

Ever since I began my art making en devours years ago, it has been a dream of mine to illustrate a Children's book. Now, I realize that there are a LOT of very poorly done books for children out there, so it's not actually a matter of me not being able to. I simply want my book to be really good. One of the beautiful ones that even adults want to look at again and again. The only problem with this, is that pictures need a good story. And that is where I am stuck. I need a story.

But for now, here are some of the pieces I worked on early this winter, thinking about Lexi and snowy forests, and whimsical dreams. I do ask that you do not copy or reproduce these images in any way as they are artwork, but please enjoy them here on my blog for now. And I apologize for the images being so small...the blog can't handle much more.

As far as the process (so you know what you are looking at), I created each piece individually with India ink and watercolor on watercolor paper, and set the scene in a three-dimensional theater space, where I could create the illusion of a snowy forest. I lit the scene carefully, made it snow, and then took a picture of each scene.

Please let me know what you think in the comments.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Subconscious Meets Celebrity Baby

My computer has been in the hands of everyone other than me this entire week, which may not have been a bad thing, except in borrowing my computer, they are also "borrowing" our well as the obvious fact that I am left without my computer... it's a good thing I love those guys....

But now it's in my hands again, and after logging out of the various Facebook pages left open, closing all the Magic The Gathering tabs (I live in a building of nerds), and reading Dan's email (just kidding), and putting a reluctant Lexi down for her nap, I am finally able to write.

It's another gray day in Chicago. A day that started out with the soft patters of rain on my window that woke me from an extraordinary dream. It's funny what your subconscious prioritizes during REM sleep. My dream had everything to do with the utter panic I was feeling because I forgot to shave my legs and was wearing shorts, and had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that my friends and I were being chased down a snow covered mountain (yes, I was wearing shorts) by an enormous hungry bear. The moral of the story: shaving your legs when planning to wear shorts takes priority over becoming a grizzly bear's next meal. I'm so glad my subconscious mind took the effort to remind me of this important life fact as a woman in the USA.

Perhaps my brain was on overload from doing way to much the previous day. I somehow managed to lug all of our clothes to and from the laundromat, grocery shopped at Aldi, picked up Lexi's pack-n-play from a friend's house, went to a play date at my neighbor's house, made dinner, created a vegetable platter, went to a birthday party, and put Lexi to bed 3 different times in various locations...all in one day. If I drank coffee, I would have downed an entire pot by now. Since I don't drink coffee, I feel like I'm half alive this morning.

Speaking of Aldi, I confess I am an avid Aldi shopper. Forget the name brands, forget the organic labels. It's Aldi all the way, baby! Every time I go there, I have some sort of strange experience, which always keeps me coming back. One time, there was a lady with full beard, who was arguing with her husband (a clean cut dude) about which frozen pie to buy. Another time, I found a box of Star Wars Legos! And yesterday, I felt like I was walking around with a celebrity baby. Seriously, all we were lacking was the Paparazzi.

I put Lexi in the front of the shopping cart, and entered the store. Sliding doors open. We walk inside. You should have heard the screams. You think I'm kidding. I'm so not. There I was, trying to find a head of broccoli that looked halfway decent (at Aldi you have to be committed to dig a little to find the best), when the store erupted into loud ecstatic screams of "OH MY GAAAAAAWWWWWD SHE LOOKS LIKE A DOLL!!!!!!! OH MY GAAAAAAWWWWWDDDDDD!!!!! JACKIE GET OVER HERE YOU GOTTA SEE THIS!!!!!

And then everyone was looking. And all of the sudden, there were people FOLLOWING me, TOUCHING my child, TALKING to my child, and hollering at me from ACROSS THE STORE to find out how old she is, etc. I'm not kidding. It was a little creepy.

When I finally made it to the cash register (wishing I had some huge celebrity sun glasses to put over Lexi's eyes, I pulled up the cart for the nice lady to put my food into and ..... "OH MY GAAAAAAAAAWWWWWWWWWDDDD!!!! HER EYES ARE SO BIG AND SO BLUE!!!! HOW CUTE!!!!!! OH MY GAWWWWWWDDDD!!!!! CHERYL, DID YOU SEE THIS BABY???? SHE'S SO CUTE!!!!! O NO I'M SCARING HER!!!! (still shrieking) I'M SO SORRY I DIDNT MEAN TO SCARE YOU!!!!! YOU'RE JUST SOOOOOO CUTEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

The crowd flocks once again.

Poor Lexi. She just sat there, her eyes as big as saucers, a look of fear mixed with fascination and utter bewilderment plastered on her tiny face. I give her props for not crying, but secretly am a little proud of her for not hamming it up and smiling and doing the celebrity wave for all her Aldi fans.

It just further proves to me that if you want an exciting grocery shopping experience, Aldi has it all.