Saturday, September 19, 2009

Manifold birthday blessings for two

Many, many thanks for abundant blessings is what I can say for the various celebrations of Isabella and my birthdays. Blessings that felt undeserving but were very moving. I have been inundated with way too much heavy-handed, burdensome stuff, that such blessings were truly rays of sunshine.

The birthday blessings started last weekend, when my college roommate, Karen, arrived for a visit on Saturday morning from Georgia. Since she was only staying barely two days and a night, I wanted to make the most of her visit. We went straight from the airport to Colorado Springs, where we took her to Garden of the Gods and Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Aw man, I still have loads of pictures to post from when my in-laws and my parents (different visits) came. Back to the subject at hand. Two interesting tidbits about Cheyenne Mountain Zoo: it is literally built into the mountain, and we can feed any willing giraffes by hand.


Something Karen and I discussed is that we've known each other for nearly half of our lives. What?! That can't be possible. Was college really that long ago?


I will neither confirm nor deny when we started college and became acquainted. Anyhoo, we came back somewhat early, because Karen had decided she was taking me out to dinner and a show for my birthday. Thank you hubby for watching our two lovely children. Karen's a vegetarian, but she said she had no problems with me ordering the salmon. Cooked to perfection at medium rare. Then we headed to the downstairs portion of the restaurant to see an Impulse Theater performance. The performance is what it sounds like; the actors do not act from prewritten scripts. What they do, to a certain extent, is determined by the audience.

Attending a live performance with actors on stage fed a fiery passion within me that has not been nurtured in some time. Acting - being in a play or musical - is one of those things that will never leave my heart. It's a dream that I must, at some point, pursue to keep myself truly alive. Being there, seeing that with Karen lit a fire within me. And? Having an evening, where I wasn't studying but doing something so enjoyable, without the girls was so refreshing and exuberant.

After the performance, we headed home to find three sleeping people. We headed down to the basement and watched "he loves me, he loves me not," while doing face masks and assorted hand/foot care. Not a bad way to end the day, eh?

Fast forward to Sunday after church. I had casually mentioned to a number of my friends that we were having a group birthday celebration at my house (for me; Isabella's celebration was to come the following weekend). It was two o'clock and no one else had come. Karen and I kept ourselves busy, conversing and playing Skipbo. Come on folks, we haven't seen each other in two years; we have so much to do in such little time. Still, I was sad that no one else was turning up for our little informal party.

Guess who shows up at about 3 o'clock? Sally and Ashley. They are very dear people, and I am ever blessed that they both live in Denver now. The way I originally met them was through Manda; Sally is Manda's mom, and Ashley is Manda's sister. I was just glad for the company, but they came bearing gifts, including a cake! I cannot remember the last time I had a cake on my birthday. Was it my freshman year in college when my parents accepted my RA's suggestion to buy a cake for me? And a cake stand that is my first and very own? Too cool.


Truth be told, conversation amongst us ladies - Sally, Karen, Ashley, and me, whilst we played Skipbo was most fascinating. Because Karen was not familiar with Sally and Ashley, topics that I was too chicken to raise were discussed. Somehow I felt as if I was supposed to already know certain information about Ashley and Sally, in virtue of being close to Manda; but osmosis doesn't work that way.

Ashley and me - hey wait a minute. we're missing any pictures with sally present

Felt like we had a lot in common, as a group of women sharing from the heart.

Wednesday, the 16th was my birthday. Interestingly, Isabella was due on September 14th, 2 days before my birthday. It was a Friday. Manda took me to a Cold Stone Creamery, hoping that getting a bunch of sweetness into my body would prompt Isabella to begin her journey into the world. Far from it.

By the 18th, when my doctor strongly encouraged me to begin my induction and I obliged, my body was still showing absolutely NO SIGN of being ready to usher Isabella into the world. After over 32 hours of misery in the hospital and no significant labor progress, the birthing changed drastically and for the worse. I ended up having a C-section and Isabella had to stay in the intensive care unit for 8 days. I can still remember the morning I went to the hospital and everything thereafter like it was today. It was dark and rainy (wow, shouldn't I have taken that as a hint of what was to come? :)). . .

Let's come back to more present times. Wednesday morning, the 16th, my spiritual mentor and I had planned on getting massages. Due to lack of foresight on either of our parts (we didn't schedule appointments ahead of time), we couldn't do what we had planned. Instead, we window shopped, and I ended up trying at least 15 articles of clothing at Christopher & Banks, one of her favorite stores. Had three people waiting on me. Huh? People never wait on me. Sales associates usually leave me to my own devices, assuming I won't spend any money (which is usually correct, but still!) As I was nearly done trying stuff on, I was thinking, "oh crap. do they expect me to actually purchase something? We got carried away (Carrol was excited about me trying on different things), and I hadn't thought much about buying anything.

Anyways, my good friend, Lynette, kept company with the girls while I was out, and I promised her some curry for lunch upon my return. So, we enjoyed lunching together and catching up.

About three to four hours later, Troy came home for a bit, in between his afternoon and evening class, especially to spend time with me for my birthday. We grabbed a bite to eat and wandered around Aspen Grove Shopping Center.


This afternoon, I had planned a little birthday party to celebrate Isabella's third birthday. I cannot believe that my baby, my firstborn, is already THREE!


Make a comment about my Michelin or Pillsbury midsection, and die. I was unsure of what I wanted to do for her cake. I had toyed around with doing an Elmo themed cake, but alas, last minute decision-making did not work in my favor. This is what I picked up instead. Baking a cake was not an option. First of all, there's the change in ingredients amounts, to account for the altitude. Second, I have absolutely no gifts in baking. I'm better at cooking main entrees, dishes, or soups.

Not too bad for a last minute buy, right? Isabella's still not keen on fire or flames, no matter how small.

I still remember playing underneath the dining room table, as a child. It brought smiles to my heart to see Elias, Violet, and Isabella doing the same.

Dude, I definitely need a new flash, an external flash. 80% of the photographs I took were blurry, because the inside of our house lacked sufficient sunlight for quick shutter releases.

Below is a picture of Sallina and Elias (Sallina and Dan are the parents of Violet and Elias), friends that have grown in our hearts since we met them a little while ago.

Grandma and Grandpa (Karen and John, respectively) gave Isabella this car for her birthday. Since she has had the opportunity to ride in it, which was Thursday night, she has been adamant about not wanting to share it with Victoria. That is why I am utterly amazed that she was willing to share it with Violet. Thank goodness she modeled sharing behavior this afternoon. She's a growing and maturing little girl. Okay, I luv you, good night.


Sunday, September 13, 2009

Oh, the pressure


The day before yesterday, the 11th, I saw my first Practicum client. Practicum is one of many hoops I have to jump to complete a MA in Counseling Licensure; this involves seeing clients at our campus counseling center - Shepherd's Gate. Reached a new level of nervousness in the moments leading up to that first session. I felt like I had to pee every minute or two. I wasn't sure whether I'd do more good than harm. My heart was racing. The well being of this client, in part, was in my hands. On top of that, there were so many matters I had to remember to do - give the client a parking pass, get the person to fill out requisite paper work, take that person's payment, set up the next appointment, etc.

One huge lesson I learned from that first session struck me towards the end of the session. Leaving my worldview and my experiences at the sideline, whilst listening to the client's story, is so challenging. A must, nevertheless. Whilst the person described something that is not unique to humankind, I couldn't help but think I could anticipate how that person was feeling or might respond, given my experiences and given the history of humankind. This sort of assumption could not be more misguided. I hadn't known anything about this person other than whatever little time I had spent with that person this day. Assumptions that a person can easily understand what someone else is experiencing and feeling is quite dangerous. All in all, thought the first session went well.