November 28, 2009

Post-Thanksgiving Reflections

Note: I started writing this last Saturday and am only now getting to finish it.

I am typing at least part of this post with one hand. With my other arm I hold my 3-week-old son. His beautiful blue eyes are getting heavy as he inches closer to sleep. He just spit out the binky - let's see if he is awake enough to far, so good.

It's amazing to me how much life has changed in the last 3 weeks. Of course we knew our lives would be turned upside down by adding a kiddo to our ranks (spitting out the binky made him wake up a bit more - he's staring at me, and he's so cute!!), but we had no idea what that would look like.

Now I know infinitely more than I did 4 weeks ago, and I am also painfully aware of my ignorance (he wanted the binky back in, but he's still gazing at me with those precious eyes). Becoming a mom has taught me so much already, and one of the biggest lessons has been to feel my helplessness more deeply and painfully than ever before. There are so many things that I cannot control - how my child eats, how long he sleeps, and how many diapers I have to change are 3 things that come to mind right away.

Also, this being a mom thing has really challenged the side of me that loves to plan. Believe it or not, Levi is not always a fan of my to-do lists. I foolishly plan out how I would like my days to go, only to have my plan hijacked 6 seconds later. Redefining "productive" has been a challenge for me. It's tough to not measure the success of a day by how many items were checked off the to-do list. Forcing myself to not dwell on unfinished projects is tremendously difficult (like a blog post in process), and I am working on not letting the undone rob me of my peace.

But feeling my helplessness, re-thinking productivity, letting go of my to-do lists, and caring for this child have forced me to pray and pray and pray and pray. That's a good thing. The more I learn, the less I know, and the harder I cry out for wisdom. Just as nothing could have prepared me for the craziness a newborn introduces to life, no one could have prepared me for the love I feel toward this tiny person and the fierce desire to guard this child with every fiber of my being.

When we were in the hospital the first night I held Levi and thought to myself, "I love this child so much. I never want anything bad to happen to him." Then my mind began to swirl with all the bad things that could happen to him in his life. I began to panic...and then pray. And I keep praying.

So naturally, at Thanksgiving our thoughts were on Levi and how thankful we are for him. We are thankful he is here as part of our family, but I am also thankful for what I have learned and how I have grown in the the few short weeks since he was born. And I am thankful that this process will continue for years to come.

November 9, 2009


How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
To feel the love and joy he gives;

But sweeter still - the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He lives.
Levi Smith Fowler
Born November 6, 2009 at 7 pm
7 pounds, 2 ounces
19.5 inches

There are no words to express the joy and gratitude we have for this precious, precious little one. Our hearts are so full, our tears are plentiful, and our time is occupied with being in love with our baby. Don't think there will be many posts as I transition into this new role, but there are gazillions of photos that I hope to post one day soon...and reflections later. Let this newest adventure begin!

October 25, 2009

Fall Photos

This is my favorite season for the amazing colors! Sadly, much of the fall in St. Louis so far has been shrouded in grey, rainy days that are just depressing. But when the sun comes back out like it did yesterday, it's absolutely wonderful. Please come back, sun. Please come back.

October 15, 2009


Just wanted to take a moment and document on this site that BF is 37 weeks, which means I am officially full term. Eeek! Of course we all know that this doesn't really mean anything; after all, it could still be 3 or even 4 weeks before kiddo decides to make its appearance. But there is something about hearing myself say the words "full term" and seeing them written down that is absolutely thrilling.

Sometime soon I hope to post photos of me and my full-term belly. Yay!

October 11, 2009

All Quiet For Now

I realize I haven't posted much lately. The reason is fairly simple - I only have one thing on my mind: getting ready for this kiddo to come!
This one-track mind makes blogging difficult for two reasons:

1. I have nothing of consequence to say that isn't baby related, and what I do have to say about the baby isn't too interesting. It's growing. I'm growing. No problems, and we're thankful for that. Less than 4 weeks (we hope!!) until we get to meet this little one. That's pretty much it.

2. Getting ready for BF is so time-consuming and exhausting that I don't have any extra energy to devote to things like blogging. It seems like I spend every free second sorting, cleaning, and organizing baby stuff. Seriously. We spent Friday night doing baby laundry and organizing the nursery/office, and Saturday morning we boiled bottles. We did go apple picking in the afternoon, which was great, but otherwise this baby seems to be already consuming our lives.

That's why there haven' t been more posts in September and October and why I haven't posted many photos. Frankly, there's not much to say, though I am sure that we will make up for this drought with a flurry of photos in November. For now, I will leave you with a photo of a new pair of boot I got last week. They are my present to myself for being pregnant, and I love them. This is also a photo of my 35-week belly, which seems huge. But it's only getting bigger. More to come soon!

October 6, 2009

A Storyteller's Delight

Storytellers do more than simply tell stories. They sift through the tidal wave of information that constantly beats against the shore of our existence, tap into the cultural psyche, and articulate the hard questions that hijack one's thoughts in the middle of the night.

Is this it? Should I dare hope for more? What's the point?

The Best American Short Stories 2009 has just been released, and it seems as though this collection is filled to the brim with hard, probing, unsettling questions. Linda McCullough Moore's review is here, and her analysis is great.

Having not read the stories, I can't say too much about them. But they sound depressing. Typically depressing stories deter me because I don't like to be sad. But Moore makes me wonder if I should embrace the sadness of these stories, lingering over them to consider the questions being asked.

And to ask myself if I have an answer.

September 27, 2009

D-Day Approaches

If your office looks like this...
And you've got one of these sitting around...
And some of these...

One of these for collecting stuff...
And one of these waiting to be might be about to have a baby!

We are less than six weeks away from BF's due date, and we could not be happier. Well, the only thing that would make us happier is if the baby was coming sooner. We are really eager to meet this little one!

But all told, this has been a fabulous pregnancy, and even in my last few weeks I continue to feel good and enjoy being pregnant. Lindon is a fantastic help, too. This weekend we took a trip to Target to gather more stuff from our registry. Now we feel like we are kind of prepared for bringing home a little one from the hospital, even though we know we'll never REALLY be prepared. But with every passing day, we know that we are getting closer to being parents. We are so excited!

September 21, 2009

Long Time, No Post

I cannot believe it's been two weeks since I've updating this thing! Really, I've meant to post more frequently, but time has slipped away from me. Despite my best attempts to de-commit in anticipation of Baby Fowler, last week and the two weekends around it seemed to be rather full. To illustrate, below is a post I began writing last week to fill in readers on my crazy weekend. I never got to finish the post, but what I did get written (and it's unfinished state) illustrate just a little bit of how busy we've been. So that's all I've got for now. I hope to post more later...including baby shower photos!

Drafted 9/14/09:

Monday came far too quickly. Or rather, that weekend was crazy!

It's not often that I feel like a weekend was too short. My two days of freedom each week tend to be quite restful, and returning to an great job never feels as burdensome as returning to a sucky job. So typically I cannot relate to the plethora of Facebook posts on Mondays that say, "Where did the weekend go," or "I have a case of the Mondays," or "Wish the weekend was longer."

But last weekend went by far, far too quickly! I get tired just thinking about all that happened last weekend. Friday evening I made dinner, and we ran some errands at Target. We picked up a few odds and ends that we needed and got some snacks in anticipation of Saturday.

We spent most of Saturday at the hospital learning how to have a baby. Sort of. We took a Childbirth in a Day class at the hospital where I plan to deliver, and we found it to be very helpful. It provided just enough information without overwhelming us or boring us. And now we are pretty much pros at childbirth...pros who have zero experience.

While the class was helpful, it was very long. Our snacks from Target helped to ease to pain of sitting in class all day, but it was still long. We got home and felt exhausted from all the energy we expended trying to retain information on labor and delivery. I think I also felt tired from thinking about how exhausting labor and delivery will actually be.

All week we had told ourselves that after class on Saturday when we were tired and didn't feel like making dinner, we would go to Qdoba for dinner with a buy-one-get-one-free coupon. This was a wise decision and one we did not regret. Lindon, being the trooper that he is, then spent the evening working on our sidewalk, which still needs to be completed. I watched him and read
Sports Illustrated until I ran out of daylight. We crashed very early.

September 6, 2009

Summer Projects II

So the first project of the summer was renovating our bathroom. This bathroom was in pretty sorry shape before Lindon worked on it. There are some things we could not change; namely, we could not make this 40 square foot space any bigger. But at least we could make it feel bigger and look nicer. Here is a "before" photo.

The tile on the wall was a hideous shade of pink. The plaster walls did not hold the paint, so paint constantly chipped off into the shower (lovely), and the existing shower was a wonderful breeding ground for mold. Despite our best efforts to clean it, this tub was always growing mold. And the shower doors did not do much to make the tiny space feel any bigger. In this photo you can also see the corner of the vanity, which was very bulky for such a small space. And the medicine cabinet, while adding extra storage, was not tall enough for Lindon and I to use without bending over to look in the mirror. Basically, everything in the bathroom needed to go, except for the toilet. And that's what happened!

Lindon had assistance on this project from his father, and we are so grateful for the extra help! Lindon and his dad gutted the room, worked on the plumbing, put up moisture-resistant drywall, installed a new tub and shower, put ceramic tile on the floor, painted, installed a slim pedestal sink, and added a mirror that was tall enough for us.

The paint color we picked was a greyish blue, and it makes the room feel incredibly serene and relaxing. The shower curtain (shower doors are gone!) bows out to add extra space to the shower. But it can be pulled back when the shower is not in use to make the room feel bigger.

And having a tall mirror makes the room feel taller. It's also nice to not have to bend over to look into the mirror. We still need to change out the light fixture. The pineapple-looking light just doesn't cut it. But we are so pleased with the new look and feel of the bathroom. Since it's our only bathroom, it's nice to have one in good shape!

Summer Projects I

Each summer Lindon has taken on a project or two around our house. He loves these projects because they increase our home's potential value and allow him to use the side of his brain that doesn't get used when he sits in a classroom all day. Typically these projects are fairly ambitious, which means the house is in a state of chaos for a few days or few weeks while said project is finished. Lindon works like crazy on the task at hand, and he always does a fabulous job. The end product always makes it worth the few weeks of upheaval in the house.

This summer was no different. Upheaval and chaos reigned for a few short weeks, but they have been replaced by serenity and some fabulous improvements. Let's start with the latest project, and later I will post about the first project.

Project #2: The Deck

Before this summer, we had no deck. We had narrow concrete stairs that led from our back door to the driveway. Here is a "before" photo from last fall. Notice the cute puppy curled up next to our pumpkin. So sweet.

These stairs were fairly narrow and very steep, and many times I came dangerously close to slipping down the stairs. They also iced up very quickly in the winter, which made them extra perilous. It's never a great feeling when just getting to the car without a broken ankle is an accomplishment. And the prospect of trying to negotiate said stairs with a baby made me really, really nervous.

Lindon had been talking for a year about putting in a deck with a better stairway, and as soon as he had the time he got to do it. The first order of business was to get rid of the old stairs. The trusty sledgehammer did the trick. This was the scene when I came home from work one Wednesday (yes, Lindon had told me in advance what he planned to do):

With the help of some faithful friends, Lindon managed to get the deck built before he left to spend a week in PA.
With more help from faithful friends, he finished the deck last weekend! Here is the finished product. We also got some patio furniture which makes the deck all the more enjoyable.
Here are our new, wide stairs that will make this winter less frightening. At this point the only thing left is for Lindon to create a new sidewalk leading from the stairs to the driveway. He's working on it at I type this, and it should be done before the end of Labor Day weekend!

August 29, 2009

One More Saturday Post

Below is an email that we sent to friends and family earlier this week. If you read my blog, there is a good chance this email ended up in your inbox. But I'll post it again because great news is worth repeating!

Dear friends and family,
Earlier this month we celebrated three years of living in St. Louis. Just over three years ago we were living in Montgomery, Alabama, trying to prepare for the life ahead of us in St. Louis at Covenant Seminary. We had countless questions about our living situation, work prospects, and paying for seminary. So much seemed uncertain, except the sense that now was the time for us to go to seminary. In the past three years God has showed his faithfulness to us again and again and again. He provided a fantastic apartment for us and then a wonderful house, complete with a giant yard for the dog. He provided us both with jobs, friends, and a community in St. Louis that has loved us well.

And all through this process God has given us scholarships and generous contributions to pay for Lindon's seminary education, but often those funds have been more like a trickle than a waterfall. However, this summer has been a raging river of wonder for us. In early July we learned that Lindon was awarded a grant to be used toward schooling expenses. It was a sizable grant from a foundation that seeks to help students who have lived in Great Lake states, and the funds would have covered his tuition and left a little extra for Lindon to add resources to his pastoral library.

If our news ended here, there would be many reasons for rejoicing. We were astounded by this grant, and the idea continues to thrill us. But there's more.

Recently Lindon learned that he has received a full scholarship for his final year of seminary. All of his expenses will be paid, and his grant funding can be fully invested in furthering his educational and ministerial resources. We are so excited with this news, so we wanted to pass it on to you who have loved us and supported us so well for the past few years (if not longer!). We are thankful for God's provision in such tangible ways, and we are thankful for the ways He has used each of you to encourage and bless us. Whether it was your financial gift, your prayers, or your kind emails, God has reminded us of His goodness through your friendship and love. Sometimes it was a stream in the dessert; other times a waterfall that overwhelmed us.

As we look to the future there are still many unknowns. We don't know where Lindon will work when he finishes school next May. We have no idea where we will live after seminary. And then there is the small matter of adding a child to our ranks and the uncertainties that come with being parents (children come with instruction manuals, don't they?). But we have so many reasons to rejoice in our great God, and we look forward to how He will continue to reveal Himself to us through His gracious provision. As we reflect on the events that brought us to Covenant Seminary, God's hand is abundantly clear. We are grateful that His fingerprints continue to smudge our lives and shape our hearts, reminding remind us that we belong to Him. To Him alone belongs the glory forever and ever.


lindon, megan, and baby fowler

On Flying While Pregnant

I meant to include a follow-up post to my pre-travel post about flying while pregnant. I was a little jittery about flying at 29 weeks. It's not that I had concerns about going into labor on the plane, it's just that I wasn't excited about carting all my stuff around the airport and trying to get comfortable on an airplane, especially when traveling alone.

Well, when I got to my terminal on Thursday I had decided to ask if I could board the plane early. Typically I don't enjoy asking for things that seem like special favors, so this request seemed very forward to me. In retrospect, it's absolutely not, but at the time I felt like I was demanding a free seat or an in-flight massage or something.

Anyway, I explained to the sweet lady behind the desk that I was 6-and-a-half months pregnant and asked if I could board the plane when they called for passengers who need "extra time to board." Her eyes lit up, and she said, "Oh yes! Pregnancy is considered a temporary disability!" And with that she handed me an authorization to pre-board. She directed me to the terminal seats marked with the blue handicap stickers, and I sat there until it was time to board. It felt very strange to sit in a seat clearly marked for handicapped people. I didn't feel handicapped, and people seemed to look at my incredulously, as if they didn't believe I was really in need of a blue-sticker seat. But I had my authorization. That and the little kickaroo inside me confirmed that I was indeed legit.

A few minutes later a member of the flight crew asked me where I was headed. When I told him I was going to Cleveland, he said, "Let's go." And with that I was the first person to board the plane! Once on board someone offered to put my luggage in the luggage bin for me, and everyone encouraged by to take the spacious aisle seat. It was great!

My fellow travelers were not quite as sympathetic or supportive on the trip back to St. Louis. I had to hoist my own luggage, and passengers were not quite as willing to watch me board first. They also were not thrilled to wait while I got my luggage down to exit the plane. I did, however, get a refill of my in-flight beverage. But it didn't matter by that time we landed because I was so happy to be home and to see Lindon.

I think my travels during this pregnancy are over. I have no intention of going on any more trips until baby arrives. But in the future if I need to fly while pregnant, I fully intend to milk my temporary disability for all its worth.

Weekend Photos

Here are some pictures from our time in PA last weekend. We had so much going on all weekend, but it was a great time. On Saturday we threw a surprise 40th Anniversary party for Lindon's parents. It wasn't a surprise in the strict sense of the word (especially since it was at their house), but it was a surprise to them to see who came. And there were lots of people - we think about 100 total! It was a wonderful way to honor B&K and a great chance to see old friends.

And it was a chance to eat lots and lots of delicious cake! The gift from the kids (other than traveling to PA and throwing them a party) was a collage photo Lindon's brother created withfamily photos through the years (and a great Apple program). It's mounted below on the plant stand above the cakes.

My sister-in-law is pregnant with their second. In this photo she's about 21 weeks along, and I'm 29 weeks. It's really fun to think that our kids will be so close in age. My only first cousins are much older than me and live far away, so I am excited my little one will have cousins it will see regularly, even if we don't live near each other.

On Sunday my mom threw a baby shower for me and baby! It was a pretty low-key event, which I needed after all the excitement of Saturday's party. The cake was so perfect. I gave the decorator an idea of our party decorations and a color scheme, and this is what she created. I was so excited. It tasted amazing, too!

Sometimes it's amazing to reflect on life's adventures on how they bring people together, take them away, and bring them together again. Jana and her husband Tom were part of a small group with me and Lindon when we lived in Alabama. We watched them wrestle with whether Tom should start a second career as a pastor after a long career in the military. Finally they decided to pursue ministry, and in the summer 2005 they moved to Pittsburgh for Tom to attend Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. A year later Lindon and I wrestled with the same questions and ended up in St. Louis. Tom has since graduated from PTS, and he now pastors a church in Pittsburgh. We almost always try to see them when we go back to PA, and it was so special that Jana could be at my shower!
No Fowler baby wardrobe would be complete without a bit of Steelers paraphernalia!

August 19, 2009

All My Bags are Packed, I'm (almost) Ready to Go...

There are many things I should be doing right now, but for some reason a blog post seems like the most important.

Tomorrow is a big day. It's the day that baby and I will board a plane and head to PA for some time with my family. Plane rides are always exciting to me, but this will be my first plane experience while being 29 weeks pregnant. Woo.

I am very eager to get this show on the road...and also a little anxious. I flash a defiant smile at people who seem horrified that I am flying now. "They let you FLY this late in your pregnancy?!" they ask, and I remind them that I have had a perfect pregnancy until now. Stories of pregnant women going on last-minute trips and giving birth out of town do not frighten me. But still...I get a little jittery at the thought of a cramped plane. I have carefully chosen direct flights that will not take place over mealtimes and will not involve sitting for too long. I am prepared to ask for special seating because of my "medical condition" and plan to limit my water consumption so as to not have to use the plane lavatory. I even have my i-pod touch all charged so I can play games while I wait. But still...I'm a little nervous.

But once I get there! Then, the fun will start. I am so excited about my time with my family and Lindon's family. It's going to be a great trip, complete with a baby shower for us! There is lots to celebrate, and this is going to be a wonderful time of celebrating. I will get to spend time with people I do not often see, and that is wonderful.

The plane ride will be fine. I am confident everything will go smoothly. And it is going to be a great trip.

With that in mind, it's time to finish packing!

August 14, 2009

My recent addiction

Meet my recent addiction: slab pie. I discovered slab pie through the delightful cooking blog smitten kitchen, and I have made this dessert/breakfast/anytime snack twice in the past few weeks. It's a wonderful way to celebrate all the amazing fruit currently in season. Nothing says, "I appreciate you, blackberries," like couching them between two flaky, buttery crusts and topping it with a yummy glaze. I made it once with blackberries and once with mixed berries. Both were great.

And unlike traditional pie, slab pie is portable! Slice off an end piece and away you go. One thing Lindon and I both like about this pie is it is not too sweet. I ratchet down the sugar to not drown out the berries, and it works! Even with a little glaze on top, the berries are the star of this show. The amazing crust, however, wins the award for best supporting actor. If you're interested, you can get the original recipe here and start your end-of-summer celebrating!

August 10, 2009

A Good Thing to Remember

This afternoon the phone rang on three different occasions with the same name appearing on the caller ID. The first two times I answered with my customary greeting, but the only reply I got was dead silence. Understandably, I let her go to voicemail when did not pick up the third time the phone rang. After all, there's no use talking if no one is going to respond. But I could

A few minutes later one of my attorneys left the office to run an errand. As he exited he said, "You know [the name from the caller ID], she's nuts." I realized that the time I had not answered she had opted to transfer her call to the voicemail of this person, with whom she obviously wanted to speak. I told him about how she had called two other times and had not spoken when I answered the phone.

"Yeah," he said. "I don't remember much about her. But I do remember that she's crazy."

That's a good thing to remember.

August 6, 2009

Another Crash Update

So yesterday I called the Wildlife Center to check on our little guy. The nice lady who answered the phone had to go check on Crash and call me back with an update. She said he is doing fine, but "he's not out of the woods yet." The more I think about that phrase, the more it makes me laugh. Crash is indeed out of the woods. That's how his troubles began! But he is certainly on the mend and in good hands with the Wildlife Center staff.

Lindon also told me that when he dropped off Crash at the Wildlife Center of Missouri, the woman who received him said it was "baby squirrel season." That means this is the time of year when many baby squirrels are found and brought to the Wildlife Center. Currently they have 2 or 3 baby squirrels in addition to the one we brought them, "so he'll have friends," she said. It makes me happy to think that when Crash is strong enough and old enough, he will have other squirrels to play with before they are released back into the wild.

And when Crash is finally out of the woods, he will get to go back into the woods.

August 4, 2009

Crash Update

As of about noon, Crash is in the caring and capable hands of the Wildlife Center of Missouri. Lindon dropped him off, and the staff said we can call 24 hours later and check on him. So cute! I am determined to NOT call the minute it has been 24 hours because I know these people will take care of him. But they told Lindon we could come tour their facility some time, which we will probably do some time.

Like Lindon has been telling me all along, it's going to be fine.

Fowlers to the Rescue!!

Meet Crash.

Crash is a baby squirrel, probably between 1 and 2 weeks old. Our next-door neighbors found him on their driveway yesterday evening, still alive. We think he took a fall from their attic, hence the name Crash.

Because we love animals, and Lindon especially loves squirrels, we decided to do what we could to save little Crash. We are following the instructions of the Wildlife Center of Missouri and making concerted efforts to make sure Crash is reunited with his mother.

We will let you know how the endeavor goes. Crash has been a sweet little guy so far. We didn't hear a peep from him all night, which is fine with me because if he would have been crying for his mother it probably would have broken my heart. He spent the night in a ventilated shoe box in our sunroom. Since he's so tiny and furless, we tried to keep him nice and warm. Nash was VERY fascinated by our house guest last night and this morning, and he wanted desperately to play with his new friend. Naturally, this kind of interaction was not permitted. But it was so cute.

As I said before we have a huge soft spot for animals, and mine has only increased since being pregnant (sometimes it's really ridiculous how much I care about animals these days). I know there is a chance that little Crash won't make it, and that's just the way nature is sometimes. But I definitely want this little one to get a second chance. But as Lindon keeps telling me, "Megan, it's going to be fine."

It's going to be fine.

August 1, 2009

Three Years Ago

Three years ago today Lindon and I moved to St. Louis. It was a Tuesday afternoon when we rolled into town with a 26-foot Penske truck that contained all of our earthly possessions. I remember we hit traffic because of construction on the Martin Luther King Bridge, so I got to sit and just admire the Arch for a while. Our apartment was much nicer than either of us expected, and our new neighbors all came over to help us unload the truck. We couldn't believe how nice everyone was or how quickly they unloaded everything!

That evening we were very tired and very hungry and very clueless about where to eat, so we just started to driving. Some 20 minutes later we were still driving and still had no idea where we wanted to eat when I finally said, "I think Chili's sounds good." There was no way for us to know how to get to a Chili's or even if there was one in the area. But within minutes we saw a sign for Chili's ahead on the left. I remember nothing else about that dinner, other than it was good.

So much has changed in the past three years. We have moved from that apartment into our sweet little house. The cars in our driveway are not the cars that were in our Gulf Drive parking lot. Lindon has grown tremendously as a student and future pastor. We have learned so much about each other and about the life was want to have together. And now we have a baby on the way (something that was definitely not in the picture in 2006).

But for all that has changed, some things are still the same. The God who called us to seminary is still faithful as He calls us into the role of parents. This is still the place where we need to be, even though at times school is tremendously difficult and frustrating for Lindon. We know a little more about the post-seminary plan than we did three years ago, but not much. But that's ok. I don't worry as much about that now as I did three years ago (one good thing that has changed). We are in good hands, and I know that three years from now we will be able to look back and continue to marvel at how much has changed and how God is still faithful.

We are so thankful.

July 21, 2009

Life moving at the speed of, well, life

This summer is moving on at a mind-bogglingly fast pace.

It seems like just yesterday Lindon was relishing the sweet taste of freedom for the summer, and now it's late July! How did this happen?

It doesn't help that we have already been out of town twice and had company once. Currently Lindon's father is in town to spend a week with us. Then we have roughly two weeks off before my younger brother comes to visit for a few days. Then we head back to PA for some family time and a baby shower. Then classes begin!

And in between visits and visitors we are trying to wrap our heads around the idea of becoming parents and the idea that this might be our last summer in St. Louis. AND Lindon is serving as a church intern and, with the arrival of his father, beginning his house renovation projects. So basically my life is chaos right now.

While I don't mind a busy life, I find that during the busy times I crave extra control - control that I do not get. Our busy summer has also been dotted with bad news. In our families there have been some serious health scares this summer. Last week friends gave birth to a son with a troubling heart defect requiring major surgery (see "the elusive jaguar shark" blog on the right to learn more about how little George is doing). A pastor who is special to us is currently recovering from brain surgery, and other friends have had to suddenly leave St. Louis for very sad reasons. We do not know if we will ever see them again.

Yikes. When I see all of that written down it's no wonder I feel kind of stressed. And it's no wonder that I have had a hard time updating my blog. It's hard to know where to begin. I am trying to cope with the chaos in my life by not scheduling too many additional obligations and spending time with friends who can encourage and energize me. And it seems that keeping the kitchen clean helps me to not feel as overwhelmed.

So that's my life in one blog post. Also, I really chafe at unsolicited pregnancy advice. I was just thinking about how much I don't appreciate when people saying things like, "If you think life is crazy now, just wait until the baby comes!" or "If you think you're tired now, just wait until you have kids. You're going to be tired like this until the last one goes to college!" Words cannot convey how unhelpful these comments are or how much they make me want to slap the giver of such advice. Interestingly, these comments seem to come from people who do NOT know me, do not really understand my life, and are not in a position to be giving advice to me in the first place.

So, if that's the best you've got, please know that it's in your best interest to keep your mouth shut.

July 14, 2009

And one more thing...

In our house there is a large F hanging in our hallway. That F is a gift from Jere Scott and Dorothy, and it has become one of my favorite decorations. There is a great story behind it, too. It's too tedious to write down, but suffice it to say Dorothy taught me to appreciate being a Fowler with a capital F.

I Know the Feeling...

I just read my friend Dorothy's blog for the first time, and it made me cry. Dorothy and her husband Jere Scott were some of our best friends in Alabama, and now they have just moved to Philadelphia to attend Westminster Theological Seminary. I cried because I remember all too well the excitement and terror of leaving the familiar for a new adventure filled with uncertainty. In some ways Dorothy and JS might even have it worse than we did because on top of leaving friends, jobs, and their native culture, they are moving away from their families for the first time in their married life.

That's not easy. It takes tremendous courage to follow God's calling away from the comfort of the familiar. Many people take it for granted that a pastor's family will move around the country, and it's true that moving does often come with the territory for pastors. But that doesn't alleviate the loneliness of living away from loved ones. It's been 4 years since I have celebrated a Mother's Day with my own mother, and it is always hard. Same with Father's Day, family birthdays, and the small life events that one misses living in a day's drive from family.

But while it is difficult to leave family and start a new life, we have found unbelievable joy in the communities we have developed in the absence of family. When we lived in Alabama, we were part of 2 fabulous small groups where we were loved and cared for so well. We have been away from Alabama for 3 years, but we still feel very special connections to the people who welcomed us into their lives and made us part of their families.

One of those couples was Jere Scott and Dorothy, and we are so grateful to them for their friendship over the years. Lindon and Jere Scott were both youth directors, and they often planned events together. And Dorothy and I bonded over the craziness of being married to someone in full-time ministry.

One of the things I love about Dorothy is her great talent for cooking and entertaining with casual elegance. The first time she and JS had us over for dinner, she made Bananas Foster for dessert, complete with dimming the lights and igniting the pan. It was amazing! I have learned so much from her about cooking and making people feel welcome in my house. For Christmas she gave me a collection of recipes for every season, and it is one cookbook I use all the time. I cannot wait to see what great recipes she posts on her blog as she cooks her way through seminary.

Good luck, Jere Scott and Dorothy. You're in for quite a ride, but every bit of it is worth it.

July 13, 2009

Weekend Update

If last weekend had a theme for the Fowlers, it was rest. Lindon and I spent some time catching up on housework and beginning some new projects, but we also spent a lot of time napping. We needed it because last week was a bit of a stressful week for us.

Friday night we had a quasi-date, which meant we ate out, ran an enjoyable errand, and watched a movie at home. Our errand was to Babies R Us, where we purchased our stroller, extra car seat base, and baby carrier. It is so exciting to watch the office/ nursery fill up with baby things, especially big baby things. Each day we are more and more eager to meet this little one. Less than four months remaining!

We came home to watch a movie that we both enjoyed watching. That is rare. What is not rare is us having to stop the movie early because I am too tired to keep my eyes open any longer. That also happened on Friday.

On Saturday we both spent time doing work around the house. We cleaned and went grocery shopping in anticipation of our friend Andrea coming to visit on Thursday. We also finished watching "Expelled." We still liked it. And we both took naps on Saturday as well, which was nice.

Sunday we went to church and took long naps in the afternoon. The St. Louis rain made it hard to stay awake, so we both slept very well.

So in general, it was a pretty boring weekend, but we needed that. The rest and time for relaxing was so wonderful. We will both be going in all sorts of directions over the next month, so any time we can get to rest now is well worth it.

June 30, 2009

A Special Seminary Update

Last night we got some exciting news that I wanted to post while I am in updating mode. This spring Lindon applied for a grant that was large enough to cover all of his outstanding expenses for his last year of seminary. Yesterday he received a call informing him that he had received the grant!

We were thrilled with the news, and we continue to be amazed and humbled by how God has provided for us while we have been in St. Louis. Three years ago we began packing our belongings in Alabama, not sure how we were going to be able to pay for four years of school. Now here we are, 75% finished, with funding secure for the last year. And the most amazing part is that we have paid for virtually none of this. Lindon's schooling has been funded almost entirely through scholarships, individual donations, and now this grant.

There aren't words to convey how thankful we are for everyone who has supported us, whether it was writing a check, praying for us, or sending an encouraging email. We could not have made it through the past three years without you. You are an indelible part of our story, and your faith in Lindon has encouraged us during hard times.

For that, we thank you.

June 29, 2009

Summer Adventures

Our summer has been a little crazy, and I realized I haven't updated our blog on some exciting things that have happened. So here is a brief synopsis:

Baby Update: We had our 20-week appointment and ultrasound last Monday, and everything looks great. It was so amazing to get to see our little one and watch it move! Now I am incredibly eager for November to come so I can meet this precious person. Before the ultrasound I was just excited for the changes that come every week, but seeing baby's tiny hands and tiny feet made me want to hold those little hands and feet!

The question everyone asks is, "Did you find out what you are having." My answer is yes, and no. Yes, we have a beautiful, healthy baby whose feet are 3 cm at this point (and very cute). No, I don't know it's gender. And I don't want to know. It's not that I feel this is the "right" way to do things, this is just the way we are choosing to go about the pregnancy. And no, I don't care that I won't be able to decorate my nursery in pink or blue. Frankly, I have no desire to pin my child to gender-stereotypical colors before it's even born. This is our baby, and so we are doing things the way we want to do things. We are thankful for the people who understand this and don't try to give us a hard time about it.

Also, for those who are interested, we have begun our registries. Currently we are registered at Target and Babies R Us.

Lindon Update: My sweet husband is keeping himself busy this summer! Earlier this month he began a year-long job at the pastoral intern at a local church, and he has really immersed himself in this new role. His primary responsibilities include teaching youth Sunday school, holding youth group activities, and doing anything else he wants to do. He has tons of great ideas and lots of hopes for things he can accomplish with both the students and the congregation in general. Yesterday he had the chance to preach in church, and he did so well. I am so proud of him and look forward to hearing him preach more. This is a great chance to Lindon to do the aspects of ministry that he really loves and to figure out more precisely what he would like to do when he is finished.

House Update: Our summer would not be complete without some home improvement projects for Lindon to tackle during his time off from school. Since moving into the house we (meaning Lindon) have renovated the sun room, dining room, and kitchen and put fresh coats of paint in the living room, bed room, and office. The house looks so much better now. The only real project left is to do something about our teeny little bathroom with its crumbling pain, yucky plaster, and sickeningly-pink tile. Lindon has some ideas, and when his father comes out to visit in late July, they will start working on trying to make it feel a little bigger. There might be another project or two thrown in along the way.

Summer Travel Update: We are VERY excited to be spending the July 4th holiday with our dear friends in Montgomery, AL. We will roll out on Wednesday and spend Wednesday night in Memphis (yes, I have had "Walking in Memphis" in my head since Friday). This is one city we have never seen, and we don't know if we will ever again have this chance. So we are spending one night there and hope to eat at one of its renowned barbecue establishments. Then on to Montgomery, more good food, and time with great friends. We cannot wait.

June 23, 2009

The Things I'm Reading

Books make me happy - deliriously, delusionally happy.

I love to read, and recently I have found myself ravenously fascinated with the lives of others. But with the craziness of the last few months I had not picked up a new book in a while. Then on Saturday I decided to meander over to the library, renew my library card, and see what I could find. Typically I enter the library with a particular book in mind, and it's rare that I just spend time roaming through the stacks. But last weekend I had a book craving (probably pregnancy related, like my food cravings), and so I started rummaging through the biographies to see if anything would appease my literary appetite.

30 minutes later I emerged with more books than I will be able to finish, but my heart was so happy! I resisted my urge to dance or sing of hug the shelves. My craving for real life was satisfied and then some. I don't remember all the titles, but here is what I found:

- Dr. Seuss and Mr. Geisel; Dr. Seuss has always been one of my favorite authors, but I never knew anything about him. The more I read about this intensely shy man with a zany sense of humor, the more I like him.

- A biography of Eudora Welty; What? You've never heard of Eudora Welty?! Shame. She was a quirky Southern writer from my native Mississippi. My father always lamented that he never asked her to sign his copy of Delta Wedding when he was her neighbor.

- A biography of Dorothy Sayers; Sayers' name came up time and again in my British Literature classes during college, but I know virutally nothing about the woman who earned her way into C.S. Lewis' inner circle and published a plethora of material on a variety of subjects.

- In the Beauty of the Lillies by John Updike; I wanted to start Updike's Rabbit series, but when the library did not have the first book in the series on hand, I opted for a different angle on this recently-deceased writer.

- A Curtain of Green by Eudora Welty; Considered by most critics to be Welty's finest work, I thought it would be a good followup to her bio.

These five books sit on my coffee table, and I get such great pleasure from seeing them there! I have started the Dr. Seuss bio and love it so far. I want to attack more of these books, but I already have a pile of books I have begun and need to finish. They include:

- The God Who is There by Francis Schaeffer; This man was amazing, and his genius blows my mind.

- Your Pregnany and Birth; Not surprisingly, I have a few pregnancy books open at the moment. This one came from my doctor's office, and it is a fantastic overview of pregnancy and birth. Great for moms-to-be, like me.

- What to Expect When You're Expecting; The mother of all pregnancy books (ha), this comprehensive month-by-month guide to pregnancy is priceless. I would recommend it to anyone who is pregnant.

- The Bible; In particular, the ESV Study Bible, recently named the 2009 Book of the Year by World Magazine. If you like study Bibles with helpful material on how to read and understand the Bible the way it was meant to be read and understood, get this book. One of Lindon's seminary professors served as the general editor for this edition, so we are a little biased. But it's still great.

- Norton Anthology of American Literature: 1945 - present; Because while good literature never goes out of style, it's far more enjoyable when it's not required reading for class.

What are you reading this summer? I always like good book recommendations, even if I have to tuck them away for a while and come back to them later in life.

June 14, 2009

Our time in PA

So at last our Internet is back and reliable, and I can post some photos about our time with family! As I have said before, the trip was great. We had fun with all our family, but it went by far too quickly!

Our adventure started last Wednesday when we hit the road and spent the night in Zionsville, Indiana with some friends from Alabama. Pat was the pastor of our church in Alabama when Lindon came on staff, and he and his wife Laura have been wonderful friends. We always plan on seeing them at Thanksgiving when we spend the holiday with Laura's family at the farm, but it is an extra bonus when we can see them on our way to or from Pennsylvania. We had some much-needed catch-up time that went late into the night (when was the last time I saw midnight and it wasn't because I was waking up to pee?), and it was fabulous.

Pat and Laura also gave us our very first piece of baby clothing! Laura works for a children's clothing boutique, so she was able to find adorable clothing in gender-neutral colors. Our little one is going to look so cute in its little hoodie and blankie. This was our first article of clothing for the baby, so it felt strangely surreal to open it. Holding that little tiny sweatshirt made me realize I am going to have a little tiny person who will wear that sweatshirt. It's kind of crazy...

Thursday morning first thing we headed for Pennsylvania. That evening my brother became the fourth Smith kid to graduate from Butler Senior High School. There were 599 students in his class, so it took a LONG time to seat everyone. In fact, half the ceremony was just getting the graduates seated. The other half was speeches filled with logic-defying, sugary-sweet nonsense. And those were just the adult speakers...

Here are some of the family photos we took that evening. Most people think my brother looks more like Lindon than like me (thanks to the blond hair and blue eyes). But he really is MY brother, I promise. Oh, and you can also see my 18-week pregnant belly in this photo.

On Friday my mom, sister, and I went shopping! This was lots of fun for me because I came away with tons of maternity clothes. Mom and Katherine were very patient while I tried on TONS of clothing. Never before have I tried on so many things in one store. I was afraid I would never make it out of there, but I did. And I have lots of great clothes as souvenirs.

Saturday morning Lindon and I went to the local soccer fields to watch our nieces and nephew play. Since we live far away we miss many of these everyday activities. It was so nice to have a chance to be there and watch. And it's amazing how quickly they are growing!

Courtney is in the pink shorts.
Carter is in the blue shirt about to kick the ball. He scored his first goal of the season that day, and Lindon captured the whole thing on our camera!
Audrey is a 5-year-old soccer phenom. She scored more goals than we could count and still found a moment during the game to look at the camera.
Saturday evening we headed to East Brady to spend time time with Lindon's parents. Their house is almost right on the Allegheny River, so we meandered down to peek at the wall their neighbors are building to keep out flood waters. And since the sun doesn't set until after 9, I spent some time on their dock reading while Lindon and his dad played in the garage.

On Sunday we spent more quality time with the Fowlers, and we headed back first thing Monday morning. We arrived back in St. Louis around dinner time. It's a LONG drive. While it was wonderful to see everyone, the quick trip did make me wish we lived closer and could see our families more often. It's not very often that I wish I lived closer to Western PA (it's a dreary place to live, in my opinion). But now that our family is growing it makes me want to live closer to grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. Who knows where we will land after our adventure in seminary. But I hope that one day we will have a schedule where we can see our loved ones more than twice a year.