Newborn Prayers and Pictures

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John Jacob Ortega—“Jack”—joined us October 12! We’re doing well, and thanks to Mama Rote, Israel, and other family, I’ve been enjoying a kind of maternity leave from my regular job. Even so, newborn life is quite a thrill ride. Yesterday I was thinking to myself that Jack is really starting to even out, really maturing; the next thing I know he decided to party hard all through the night. So nothing’s predictable at this point, which I should know very well.

Two or three days after he was born, one of our pastors came over and did a short blessing for Jack and our family. (The mini-service is in the Book of Common Prayer, page 439: “A Thanksgiving for the Birth or Adoption of a Child”). It was beautiful! I’ve loved being part of a more liturgical church here in Nashville, one that uses these time-tested resources. First of all, I tend to like anything that’s old. Secondly, in this stage of life, I don’t have much excess energy to speak of, so I like having prayers written for me, a church with a Bible reading plan already in place. I find it restful; and I feel no need to re-invent the wheel or to show off by getting really creative. Finally, the prayers are so beautifully expressed:

O God, you have taught us through your blessed Son that whoever receives a little child in the name of Christ receives Christ himself: We give you thanks for the blessing you have bestowed upon this family in giving them a child. Confirm their joy by a lively sense of your presence with them, and give them calm strength and patient wisdom as they seek to bring this child to love all that is true and noble, just and pure, lovable and gracious, excellent and admirable, following the example of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Calm strength! Patient wisdom! Yes, exactly. That’s what I crave as a parent.

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“Confirm their joy by a lively sense of your presence . . .”

And if anyone’s having a difficult time remember their work at home matters:

May God the Father, who by Baptism adopts us as his children, grant you grace.

May God the Son, who sanctified a home at Nazareth, fill you with love.

May God the Holy Spirit, who has made the Church one family, keep you in peace. Amen.

 photo 9E9741D6-D578-44BD-98FF-7868757419D5_zpskkizfw9j.jpgAnd as I flipped around more in the ol’ BCP, several of the prayers “for use by a Sick Person” (p. 461) felt appropriate for me and this postpartum time. (I don’t think we should treat pregnancy and childbirth as a sickness, by the way. Still, a body needs to heal, plus anyone can use the prayers!)

For Trust in God

O God, the source of all health: So fill my heart with faith in your love, that with calm expectancy I may make room for your power to possess me, and gracefully accept your healing; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 photo 88C1CF0C-028D-4E79-993D-2C42BB19CA54_zps6wbsywb7.jpg For Sleep (hahaha)

O heavenly Father, you give your children sleep for the refreshing of soul and body: Grant me this gift, I pray; keep me in that perfect peace which you have promised to those whose minds are fixed on you; and give me such a sense of your presence, that in the hours of silence I may enjoy the blessed assurance of your love; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

In the Morning

This is another day, O Lord. I know not what it will bring forth, but make me ready, Lord, for whatever it may be. If I am to stand up, help me to stand bravely. If I am to sit still, help me to sit quietly. If I am to lie low, help me to do it patiently. And if I am to do nothing, let me do it gallantly. Make these words more than words, and give me the Spirit of Jesus. Amen.

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Hope you’re well, internet friends. If you need me, I’ll be here, endeavoring to lie low, to gallantly do nothing!

P.S. For fun! Three weeks with Mary Tobin (we were all babies!), and Oh, Man. (six weeks after adding #2 into the mix!). I’m posting earlier in a baby’s life than I ever have before. That’s a good sign, right?

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Ode to John

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Maltby and John eating imaginary fish.

He’s a goofball, my brother, and the email with his New Year’s resolutions for the year 2000 was possibly the funniest document I’ve ever read. I wish I could find it in the archives of my defunct hotmail account, but I’ve tried before with no success. The only resolution I remember was that John would change his name to include an exclamation point at the end, after our last name. As far as I know, he signed documents that way at least until he got to college. He’s still in my phone as John Rote!.

John is a performer. He’s loud. In truth, the word I’ve used most to describe him is obnoxious. He did make my life as the younger sister a lot more colorful—grabbing Mom to tango in the kitchen, for example; blasting “Ice Ice Baby” with windows down on the two-minute drive to our high school; hanging a detached computer mouse out the tailgate of his car so that other drivers would wave frantically at him, pointing to the back of the vehicle.

But he irked, aggravated, distracted, annoyed me like no one else.

I’m quieter, not quite as funny, many times was not in the mood for his antics. Also, if he chose to pick me up and throw me over his shoulder, I was powerless to stop him.

When the time came, we went off to college in opposite directions, John to the free spirited west coast, me to the traditional east coast the following year. Whenever we were back at home in Memphis, I’d tire quickly of his loudness, exasperated: “Can’t you just have a normal conversation? Everything doesn’t need to be a joke!”

When I brought my future husband Israel home with me to meet the family for Thanksgiving (I’d warned him about the loudness), we were sitting on the couch watching the Macy’s parade when John walked in from the airport and said (loudly), “Why are we watching the parade?! Who watches this parade?!”

I do. And this is my boyfriend, visiting for the first time, trying to survive in this bizarre house where people needlessly yell about Thanksgiving festivities.

John’s gregarious personality came in handy at my wedding the next November. He picked up out-of-town guests from the airport (and actually got out to the parking lot with visitors in town for a different wedding before asking, So how do you guys know Josie and Israel?). He provided local dining and late night recommendations. He led the troops to Beale Street after the reception, and he asked my girlfriends from college about their love lives and whether they’d been open-mouth kissing anyone lately. Everybody had a great time.

Speaking of love lives, I was curious to meet John’s girlfriend—he’d pined after her from afar, they’d broken up after her graduation, and they reunited when they both found themselves living in New York City. Now John and Maltby seemed pretty serious. I wondered, and worried a bit, about what kind of girl would put up with John’s manic behavior. Would she match his volume? Would she be mute? How could anything seriously real, an actual relationship, work out?

I met her. She loves art, loves horses. She’s fun. Certainly not as loud as John. I asked her how she puts up with him. . . and it seemed like she didn’t really know what I was talking about. She told me a story about John traveling with his college rugby team. He was a senior, and the team had a free night in Los Angeles. Instead of heading off with the upperclassmen, John found a night spot that admitted his teammates who were under 21. I think it was karaoke. Maybe bowling.

I started to consider my brother from Maltby’s point of view, or anyone’s point of view other than mine. . .

Maybe, when John and I see each other, we revert to our childhood roles. Maybe he’s not so obnoxious to everyone else. Maybe everyone else isn’t so easily offended.

He’s loud, yes. But also kind, unselfish, and thoughtful.

John and Maltby will be married this winter. The night they met, he was on another rugby trip, post college, this time in New Orleans. He told his ride to go ahead back to Memphis, he’d figure something out. He’d met a pretty girl from Georgia.

Along with my husband (who, evidently, survived and thrived after that first Thanksgiving weekend), I recently visited my brother and his fiancee, who now live in San Francisco. They took us on a hike by the Golden Gate bridge, loaned us John’s car to drive out to wine country, showed us their favorite neighborhood spots (not to mention the neighborhood naked guy). John told inappropriate jokes, shared an outrageously hilarious southern lawyer impression, and Maltby patted his leg when the volume got too high. We had a great time.

I guess we’ve both mellowed with a little growing up. I have two brothers besides John, though he and I are closest in age. When I told Will and Ben that poignant story about the time John stayed to do karaoke with the freshmen rugby players, they listened, paused, and confirmed that it was Maltby who related that event from John’s college days—before she had actually met him. My oldest brother voiced what all three of us were thinking. “Knowing John, he probably just made that up to impress her.”

Well. Even if he did, I don’t mind so much anymore.

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Happy wedding week, Maltby and John!

An idea for parents with two cuties in diapers . . .

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This is one of those systems that I’ve figured out right as Mary Tobin’s getting out of diapers . . . I wish I’d done it earlier, so I decided to throw it out here to benefit future generations. Don’t get your hopes up. This probably falls into the same category as using lapel pins for push pins, but I love this kind of stuff.

When selecting diapers, I decided to buy patterns with warm colors (pink, red, orange, yellow) for Mary Tobin and cool colors (purple, blue, green) for Inez. You’d think that the tiny versus large sizes would be enough to easily distinguish between them; but when it’s late at night or you’re frantically reaching into a diaper bag, or someone’s yelling, or you yourself are crying . . . it helps for things to be as clear as possible.

So that’s it! Read on if you care to learn more about what type of diapers we use . . .

The pattern/color selection was on my mind because we get diapers delivered by The Honest Company and they have cute seasonal patterns to choose from. Initially we ordered diapers from somewhere else since my only requirement was that they be delivered instead of me lugging a huge box of diapers as well as a baby up to our apartment, but I tried Honest Company when la princesa battled diaper rash for awhile. Honest Company’s diapers are a bit more expensive, but they’re free of all the questionable, stinky chemicals. So far Inez hasn’t had any diaper rash. If you’re on the market, I recommend them.

Plus, better patterns . . . Mama Rote and I agree that it’s bizarre and disconcerting when Elmo or Mickey’s face is gazing at you from a child’s bottom or crotch . . . maybe that’s just us. (But you could also apply my system there: Elmo for one kid, Mickey for another . . . ??)

Totally seems like it, but this is not a sponsored post. I will give you my referral link though—if you use this link and order from Honest, you can get a few diapers to try for free, and I’ll get some credit and be forever grateful (I believe it’s one of those deals where you need to cancel if you don’t want to continue receiving diaper deliveries).

Might I add for those not currently in the diaper game: a gift card makes a great gift for expecting parents, especially those expecting #2 (or more). For Inez, we had a “Books and Bloomers” shower (bloomers meaning diapers) since we already had the requisite baby gear.

Happy diaper shopping, I guess!

Musical Beds (+ Girls’ Room Inspiration!)

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When my oldest brother Will was yet an only child and Dad was traveling a lot, Mom and Will met Dad at the airport, in the days when you could go all the way to the gate to greet incoming passengers. When Will saw Dad walk out of the jetway, he ran up happily and shouted, “Dad, nobody slept in Mom’s bed last night!”

Mama Rote is not a floozy. They’d been working on getting Will to sleep in his own bed all night. Good job, Brother!

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We’ve just gotten through a similar stage with Mary Tobin. She’s always been a champion sleeper and truly is doing great overall. (Please understand, my mom once told someone that I’m a “sleep nazi”—in other words, my standards are very high. I like to get a ton of sleep, so sue me.) Still, Mary Tobin hit a few bumps as several transitions converged . . . moving, new big girl bed, new baby in the family, a bit of potty training, new understanding of the dark and fear . . . who knows. But—knock on wood—getting into our new house with her new room, shared with sister, has helped a lot. I think things have been quieter partly because she’s scared of waking Inez up. Hallelujah.

Tell me, did you share a room with a sibling growing up? I never did because I was the only girl (read: the princess). But I love the idea and think it will be fantastic for them. At least, looking back I think it will be great, and they’ll have to learn to deal with each other in the mean time.

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Unsure about sharing.

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Getting the girls’ room all ready was also a lesson to me that I actually can be a good mover if I can motivate myself. We focused with laser-like precision on unpacking their room first to give these chickadees as smooth a transition as possible. Thanks to pre-painting and curtain hanging by the grandparents, the room was basically good to go the first night.

As we battle the disarray in every other part of the house, I’ve found myself sitting in the girls’ room whenever possible; it’s so peaceful by comparison.

Regarding decorating choices for their room: I’m doing my best to keep it simple, but it’s a struggle. We’ve got some lovely art in there, including the señorita mexicana and some prints from vintage style Mexican calendars. My new favorite is a piece of beautiful Otomi fabric that I’ve been saving for the right spot since I bought it in Mexico, thanks to mi suegra’s bargaining. I had my prices and my Spanish prepared, but after haltingly exchanging a couple of sentences with the vendor my courage failed, so I sent in the big guns: Mama Ortega.

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Let’s call the diaper pail a modern sculptural piece.

As we left the market in Cholula, she told me that the guy was so excited to sell that piece of fabric, and that his mother and sister had worked on it for five months. ¿¿QUE?? I felt immensely guilty for haggling them down (well, Mama Ortega was my bargaining agent) to such a great price for that amount of work. She quickly assured me that the guy was thrilled to sell it, that he’d go home that night and celebrate with his family, that it was quite a big sum of money for them. Phew. I could’ve dealt with colonial angst for a long time.

I love this wall hanging because it’s so charming and Mexican, but instead of the animal Otomi pattern that’s so hot right now, the flowers look like something that my grandmother could’ve had too. (The flowers are poinsettias, which are from Mexico. Did you know that?)

It doubles as a fantastic backdrop for a Father’s Day photo shoot:

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More on kids’ rooms/nurseries:

  • Examples of how to un-obnoxiously use pink in a little girl’s room. (I should be a headline writer! Clickbait!)
  • Lay Baby Lay is still one of my faves for nursery and general design inspiration. Here’s the post where I went a little nuts going through all her inspiration boards.
  • Finally, I’m [somewhat, half-heartedly] trying to follow Nashville designer Rachel Halvorson’s advice to keep it simple in kids’ rooms. This room she designed for twin girls is so lovely, and as she points out, “If you took out the artwork, and a few accessories, you’d still have a neutral palette to work with. And when they come in with their hot pink superman capes and polka dot beach balls?? There’s your pop of color.”

Oh, Man.

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Hey there, internet! I hardly know what to tell you since last I wrote. It’s safe to say that if I haven’t posted in awhile, my life has either been so wonderful, or so awful, that I haven’t found energy to give the ol’ blog. Which is it this time? I’d like to maintain an aura of mystery . . . but probably some of both.

Since last we met, beautiful Inez (aka Bebe Dos) came to join us! She was born two days before Christmas, and what a lovely holiday we had. Her full name is Sara Inez: Sara is Israel’s mom, and Inez is for his great aunt Inés. Name background: Inés/Inez is the Spanish/Italian/Portuguese variant of Agnes, and it means pure. We are pronouncing it in the more Spanish/Mexican way—ee ness or ee nez—rather than the Southern way—eye nez. :) I hope to write more about the name, the birth, etc. at a later date TBD.

As I’d hoped, figuring out a newborn this time around is not so scary since we’ve already been through it . . . not that it’s easy or not exhausting, but at least we can know some of those difficult things are normal and temporary. The new territory is how on earth to handle two little girls—logistically and emotionally! Mary Tobin is doing well with baby sister, but understandably is working to get more of our attention in both positive and negative ways. (Please do help a mama out with any free advice!) MT’s verbal ability is climbing and climbing, which is fun to watch. One cute example: after we’ve been laughing together, she releases a sigh and says, “oh, man.” Evidently I say that.

Oh, man. What a packed month six weeks (is it possible?). Overall things are fine, but life with a newborn is a bit of rollercoaster, isn’t it? There are ups and downs, of course, and nice smooth sections where you can gaze at the scenery, and then once in a while a free fall where you scream “I’m going to die!” Once you’re through it, you think, “I guess I didn’t die. But I don’t know if I can do that again.”

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Oh, man. Serenity now!