Friday, August 29, 2008

The Big Picture

When I did Project WILD in college (a 2-week minimalist backpacking trip in the Blue Ridge Mountains), someone gave me this advice: "Look up! When hiking, don't focus on your next step to the point where you forget to look up and see the beautiful nature all around you." It's a life reminder that I've needed lately.

You see, I'm not a detail-oriented person. I have to work at overcome this shortcoming. I make lists. I double and triple check my SQL and SAS code to make sure I didn't exchange a greater-than sign for a less-than sign. I try to be disciplined in re-reading emails before sending them to catch grammar/spelling errors. Did I say lists? Lots of lists... It seems like life runs by the details. If the details are left undone, the big picture plan can't be accomplished.

I understand details are important, but oh how I love the big picture! It's what motivates me, drives me and most importantly inspires me in life. I relish how all the pieces fit together in the overall scheme of things. If I don't keep a balance of details vs. the big picture in my life, things don't run smoothly.

This week I realized I need to remember the big picture of my life right now. There have been a lot of details to care for in preparing for the baby. I've become so caught up in how to best organize all the baby stuff we've so gratefully received, how to launder cloth diapers, how to best manage my ever-decreasing energy to maximize my productivity, etc. that I've forgotten to marvel at the beautiful big picture that we're having a baby! That our lives will be forever changed and, while painful at times, this change will be deeply satisfying. That the we will learn about ourselves and our Creator through the joys and sacrifices of parenthood.

If I don't get a chance to re-read the key sections of the baby books or if I don't have the baby's room organized - it won't matter! Our baby will still be an amazing gift from God. He will still come home to parents who love and care for him. The miraculous mystery of life will still have taken place.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Since when is this "routine"?!

This morning as I worked at my desk, I realized the baby had been kicking a lot and I hadn't even really been paying attention!! If you had told me that two months ago, there's no way I would have believed it. I guess you can get used to almost anything.

By the way, congratulations to my friends Mike and Lisa Law. They had their second child, Jonathon Michael Law on Sunday. Another playmate for my son and me!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Charlie - the other man

Some of you may be shocked to hear that I have another man in my life. No, it's not my unborn son (yet!)'s my 1992 Subaru Loyale named Charlie. I've been driving Charlie since 1997. He was my first (and only) car, lovingly given to me by my dad.

Peter changing Charlie's spark plugs

Since I now take public transportation to work, I don't drive much. However, this weekend I spent several hours driving around the DC area. The time in my car I was reflecting on how much I appreciate Charlie and how I hope he lasts for years to come.

Why do I love my beat-up, 16 year old car? Since you asked....

  • Visibility. My blind spots in this car are few and far between. Good visibility will be high on my list if we ever have to replace Charlie. Trust me, a pregnant lady really appreciates not having to twist her torso in order to see traffic behind her.
  • Great A/C. I don't know how he does it, but my little car's air conditioning is even better than the A/C on our 2005 Subaru. I guess they just don't make 'em like they used to.
  • Reliable. Yes, Subaru's are reliable in general (another important quality in a car), but Charlie goes above and beyond. In 11 years I've only broken down on the side of the road once.
  • Durable interior. Thanks to Armor All, the interior still looks pretty good. (I love Armor the point where I use it as a verb. "Peter, have we armoralled the cars lately?")
  • Takes curves at speeds most cars can only dream of. Subaru + Mountain Girl. Need I say more?
  • Doesn't go much faster than 60. Some people might see this as a detriment, however, if you can't go over 60 without the car shaking a bit, it actually makes driving more relaxing. You're not constantly evaluating if you should pass the car in front of you or change lanes, etc.
Lest you think I'm totally biased (instead of partially biased!), Charlie has at least two shortcomings.
  • He leaks oil. I think all older Subaru's are fated to this state. At least all the old Subaru's our family has ever owned.
  • No cup-holder. Oh I live for the day to have a sturdy, stable cup-holder built into my car! I tried the attachable ones, but it's just not the same. Charlie's successor will definitely have a cup-holder.
So, let's all raise a glass to Charlie's health. May he live long(er) and prosper!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Life and Death

The past week has been full of celebrating life and death for our family.

Peter's grandmother, Babci, died last Monday. Deciding it was best not to make a long trip so late in my pregnancy, I stayed in VA. Thankfully Larry, Stephanie, Katie and Peter were able to converge on Long Island from various parts of the world to attend the funeral. Babci lived a beautiful life that touched so many people. During my short visits with her over the past 8 or 9 years, she taught me so much about being a loving wife, about rejecting self-pity and getting satisfaction from embracing life's challenges, about loving Jesus through the big and small choices we make in everyday life, and much, much more. I'm grateful for every second I was able to spend with her. Katie has written a beautiful reflection about Babci on her blog.

As for celebrating life, amazingly we still had a family baby shower for me on Saturday. Somehow our Long Island relatives summoned the strength to come down for the shower the day after Babci's funeral. So we celebrated Baby Kraft's pending arrival in the midst of Knights, Krafts, Entresses, Gronaws, Cleckners, Kolhenbergs, and Paredes's. People were incredibly generous in helping equip us for the little bundle of joy that's coming in mid-September. But more importantly, they showered us with love, prayer and support - reminding Peter and me that we won't walk the path of parenthood alone.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Lately I've hung out with some people I previously only knew at arm's length. Peter and I had a lot of fun getting to know these folks better. It has me reflecting on how special it is when we open up with other people and examine the complexities of life together.

I've enjoyed myself so much that it reminded me of what a strong extrovert I am. Extroverts can be characterized as people who get energy from being around other people; this definitely applies to me. For me, quantity is doesn't always win over quality. One hearty conversation where we grapple in trying to understand life, ourselves and each other is more satisfying to me than a dozen small-talk conversations.

It's so difficult to see the world through eyes other than our own. I'm delighted when people push me to consider an alternative view, position or experience. It doesn't have to result in changing my stance or opinion on an issue. In fact, sometimes the best encounters are ones that make me reflect on my beliefs and leave me holding them more strongly. The beauty is that they have been pushed, prodded, questioned and tested. It's not always comfortable, but it's a much more real way to live life.

All of this is to say that I'm grateful for my friends and family - both new and old - who spur me on to step outside of myself. Thank you!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Biding Our Time

I haven't written in a while because there's not much to report on. It's not that we haven't been doing things. I just have a lot of half-formed reflections and thoughts that aren't ready to make it onto the blog yet.

To keep ourselves busy we've been doing final baby research on stuff like cribs, cloth diapers, etc. Sometimes it amuses me how hard we're working to make informed decisions about baby products. I wonder how many opinions we'll revise once we have even a mere two days of experience under our belts.

Peter has been working hard on the basement. With me recovering from my cold and being very tired lately, he's been on his own pretty much. He's put up practically all the drywall (just two tiny and tricky pieces left) and about 90% of the ceiling is in place. We'll start looking into carpet soon. Hopefully Peter won't have to frame the doors and put up the baseboards before we get the carpet installed.

Between the basement and baby preparation, we are finding pockets of time to go out for a movie, grab a milkshake, toss the frisbee a bit, etc. Life is good.

Only six more weeks to go!