Sunday, April 29, 2007

a Good Day

Things I have accomplished Miracles this weekend:

1) I cleaned the living room! I vacuumed! I threw out junk! It no longer looks like people in serious need of a social worker live here.
2) I cleaned the kitchen! The dishes are all washed! The floor swept! The counters wiped down! It isn't Perfect, but Flylady would be proud.
3) I went to Aldi! I bought "Nutritious Foods"! Including a cantelope and some strawberries.
4) I picked up all the clothes in tangled piles in our bedroom! I sorted! Dirty and clean laundries have found their homes!
5) I went to Nate's choir concert last night with his mom and brother and sister. We went out for food last night and I ate a lot even though I wasn't hungry. Good job!
6) I went to church this morning and it was Good, and we had fun with Adrienne.
7) I paid my credit card bill! And graded some papers!

Plan for tomorrow: get up early and try to finish grading HW 9; give everyone a perfect score on HW 10; take the papers to school and leave them outside my office; photocopy all my old Algebra HW's and give them to the professor so he will put those questions on the final (I know, I know!! How messed up is that?!? Don't even ask...) OB appointment at 2:45; then STUDY ALGEBRA.

Plan for Tuesday: STUDY ALGEBRA!?...!?! This is going to have to totally be a Holy Spirit thing.
Plan for Wednesday: Alg. final 9-12; Office hours 3-6
Plan for Thursday: Office hours 9-11:30; Proctor Calc. final 12-3; start grading Calc Final
Plan for Friday: Finish Grading calc final

*The End*

Love, Neb

Friday, April 27, 2007

Let it be known

That the last notes I will ever take in a math class (?) were written this morning. And they were:

Q) Is there such a polynomial?
A) Yes.


Thursday, April 26, 2007

21 Weeks- Maternity Shirt Edition

Okay hang on, I need to go make coffee in order to come up with anything to say here...

Alright, ahem! Yes! Hi there! I have been dozing in bed most of today. It is gray and cloudy and cold, and I wish that it were Warm and Sunny and Breezy so I could sit outside on the balcony. Also the apartment is all out-of-sorts (that means it wants straightened, as the Pennsylvanians would say), and I have this vague idea that I am meant to be studying Galois theory at the moment... but it seems like a rather overwhelming task. So instead, I am kind of Vegitating here on the intertubes (that's what my friend Ken from school calls the Internet.)

I weigh 145.0 lbs. Madelaine (we're having a girl [!!:-)!!!], in case you didn't pick that up from context clues) is almost 11 inches long and weighs about 12 ounces (actually, that was a week ago, and she's growing very quickly now so I bet she's a foot! or a pound! or both! maybe not quite...) Getting kicked is fun. Braxton-Hicks contractions are a little weird. That's about all there is to report along those lines, at the moment.

Anyone have any middle name suggestions that are compound words including "Mae"? Like "Avamae" or something? The guiding principle is that it can't sound too hillbillyish, like "Bessie Mae." So far, the worst middle name suggestion we have been given has been "Bob." Yes, someone suggested "Madelaine Bob."

Tomorrow is [assumably] my last Last Day of School, ever. Still have finals week, though. Yesterday I spent $77 for a cap and gown, so I guess this is it: I'm really Graduating. :-)

Love, Neb

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Marching Band

Every semester at Lehigh, at the end of the semester, the Marching Band marches all over campus one day, playing their songs.

Sometimes they come into Christmas-Saucon (the math building) and play indoors.

Marching bands make me Happy. :-)

Monday, April 23, 2007

Madelaine :-)

Head, body, legs folded up around- she's very flexible

Our little alien... the ultrasound technician promised us she'd have flesh by the time she's born...

Close-up of head

Thursday, April 19, 2007

20 weeks- Bad Hair Day Edition- UPDATED with text

Greetings, patient Nebiverse fans!

For those of you not in touch with your inner Pregnancy Calendar (or the ticker at the top), it is official: I am Halfway Through with this pregnancy. (Wow!)

Apparently when this picture was taken, forces of nature conspired to make my hair appear as if it had a cancerous growth somewhere near the top. Rest assured, though I am certainly in need of a trim, the situation is not as dire as it appears, and some degree of non-chaos has now been restored.

There is certainly some Significant and Visible Gestating Action going on in this picture, isn't there? I have started wearing maternity clothes occasionally and it's kind of fun starting to look Bigger. All my pants still fit though, which is good, because I don't have any maternity jeans yet. Tuesday morning I weighed 145.0 and Thurs. morning I weighed 146.4, so I think there might be some minor fluid rentention issues in my legs.

I am very excited because in 6.5 hours we are GOING FOR THE ULTRASOUND THAT MIGHT DETERMINE THE GENDER OF OUR BABY!!! As long as s/he is in the right position. And I am hoping that the wee one has all the right numbers of fingers and toes, etc. If I can scan pictures into this blog I will, but likely that won't be until Monday.

That's all for now...
Love, Neb

Saturday, April 14, 2007

I remembered what it was...

My Happy Thought from the middle of the night:

Sometimes I go through phases when I have trouble making decisions, even little decisions on a day-to-day basis. One of my imaginary friends (what? don't all of YOU have imaginary friends...?) is named the Rational Narrator, and she helps me make good choices when I'm having trouble. She guides me through the day-to-day processes of sleeping and eating and resting and getting work done. It's almost as if I need someone else to give me permission to make good choices, or, like I don't want to be responsible for making my own choices- I want to give the steering wheel to someone else.

And I realized, that is what the Holy Spirit is meant to be doing in my life. He wants to be in charge and He wants to make the good choices for me, if I will only let Him. So that is the first part of my Happy Thought.

The second part is that- sometimes I lament the fact that everyone I talk to doesn't have the complete picture, or can only understand certain aspects but not others of what I'm talking about. When I talk to my pastor or my Christian friends about problems dealing with stress, they understand good spiritual principles but not much else. When I talk to my doctor about stress, he understands physiology but not much else. When I talk to counseling type people about stress, they understand... well, not a whole lot. Arguably they understand something called "psychology," which isn't really much of anything, but since they're used to talking to people about stress, they are sort of an "expert," sort of. When I talk to my math grad student friends about stress, they get the part about how math makes you crazy, but not much else. When I talk to my friends who like to Write, they understand the writing part but not much else.

No one sees how it all fits together. And of course, no one understands the things that I don't tell anybody about at all.

But He understands. He designed all of the biochemistry and emotions and spirituality and Mathematics and Writing and He knows every single thought and feeling inside and out. He knows what's best, and all of the searching I do for the right person to talk to ultimately has to end with Him.

Love, Neb

19 1/2 weeks

There is only one Neb.

And this is my Blog.

Sorry, there are no 19 week pictures. On Wednesday I was feeling rather unphotogenic. On Thursday morning I weighed 144.0 lbs so if you want to know how big I am, go back to some other week where I weighed 144.0 lbs and cut and paste; it's about the same; maybe remove a little weight from some other part of me (my wrists? my feet?) and put it near my uterus.

At some point this week in the middle of the night (I think) I had this Perfect Post to give you, but I've forgotten it. The sunrise is pretty perfect though, isn't it?

Love, Neb

Saturday, April 07, 2007

A letter to the baby

Dear Galois,

Here is the first of what I hope will be many long letters you get from me throughout your life, and I have to say that I hope you can count them among the things that you really treasure. When I read my mom’s letters I see how much we are alike, and how we are in some ways so very different; they give me a focal point, a sense of perspective about who I am [who we are] and where I’ve come from. When I read my dad’s letters I cry over every word. I treasure every one of them.

I thought about what I wanted to tell you in this letter, and I realized it might not quite come out sounding like most of the letters unborn babies get from their moms, but that’s probably alright. You should start now getting used to the idea that both of your parents are really rather freakish, maybe no more or less than anyone else blessed enough to get to reproduce themselves, but freakish nonetheless. Studying mathematics (at least, so I am told) makes me weird, although by this point (the end of grad school) I am so far into it that I really can’t tell how weird I am anymore. Your father is planning on a lifetime career of weirdness, a career designed to provide us with food and shelter and video games, so really, we can’t complain. Your father is an absolutely amazing person. I married him because when he was 17 he could write a love letter like no one else, and now every time we make love I still feel enveloped in the same person who wrote those letters. Your father is loving and gentle and unselfish and kind and compassionate. He’s also very human, and sometimes he yells (as do I, of course). Jesus is living inside him, though, and I can tell you- that makes all the difference. I am as excited about watching him learn how to be your father as I am about becoming a mother.

There are so many things to tell you that I don’t even know where to begin, but the main thing coming to mind at the moment is just to say that, in the first sixteen weeks of your life, I don’t think I’ve been a very good mother, at least when it comes to the everyday parts of life like sleeping and eating and relaxing, and I’m really and truly sorry for that. Occasionally I stop and wonder how the things I do affect you, and I think, maybe you are shielded from the caffeine and the sleeplessness and the chocolate-cake-instead-of-vegetables and the Bad Chemicals from my unchecked stress, but I cannot help but think that these things make your womb a less-than-ideal home. Maybe you are in there thinking, “Why can’t mommy just calm down? What could be so important that she can’t just go to sleep?” and I have to tell you that your mommy is one who tries to… how did Jack Kerouac put it? To hold onto a thousand firecrackers at once, to will both sides of am impossibility, to live out every experience all at one time. My biological clock was ringing so loudly that I couldn’t stop waiting for you to come, but some other section of who I am had to finish what I started in mathematics, and apparently I only know one way to do that. I hope you can cope with life as a pre-born graduate student without too many physical (or psychological scars). At least it gives us some quality time together, right? A shared activity. You were with me when I took the final exam in real analysis last semester (that was one of the first things you did in life! Quite an accomplishment!) and you are living this semester with me, what is (I guess) the final chapter in my long and checkered career as a student. Some people never leave studenthood, though, and when I think about our life together next year (on the good days) I think that we’ll go to the library together, you and I, and we’ll read all the books about art and music and poetry and dance and Seashells and stars, and we’ll learn like we were meant to learn, free of grades and competition and “achievement” and pride. I’m looking forward to those days. (On the bad days I think that I’ll never do anything but sit catatonically watching TV and reading blogs while you drool and eat things off the carpet, but I just realized, you will have a natural curiosity about the world, won’t you? So maybe you can keep me on track. In a couple of years, anyway. Don’t forget to ask me to go to the library. Then we can go the park and feed the ducks, and then we can come home and have lunch and take a nap.)

The other main thing I wanted to tell you now was just how many things in this life I can’t wait to share with you. There have been so many millions of moments in my life when I have been so happy that I have thought “I would bring children into this world just so they could experience this.” Of course maybe you will be nothing at all like me, maybe nothing I love will strike a spark in your heart, but I have to believe at least a few things will. (And of course the fewer things we have in common, the more new things we will have to enjoy through each other’s eyes, right?) I can’t wait for you to hear Riverdance and Rich Mullins and Bob Dylan and U2, and the million other kinds of music that I love, and I can’t wait to find out about the music that is special to you, if I get the chance to hear about it. I can’t wait for you to read the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time, or Surprised by Joy, or maybe even “My Name is Asher Lev.” (You should wait until you reach a certain age for “Franny and Zooey.”) I can’t wait for you to See what calculus means for the first time (although I am prepared to forgive you if you hate it) and I want to teach you just the tiniest inkling about the way God created the world through mathematics. I want to show you the oceans and the mountains and the beautiful big prairies in Kansas and Wyoming, and tulips and daisies and big fields of wildflowers. The bluebonnets in Texas are beautiful and it’s a lot of fun to run through the fields. I want to teach you that if you’re ever lucky enough to live somewhere with a breeze that comes off the ocean, you have to soak up every minute of that breeze, you have to lock it away into your soul, because you might not be there forever but a breeze like that can keep moving inside you your whole life. I want to take you to Chicago on a perfect Chicago day. We will take the train into the city and you will see how blue the sky is among all the skyscrapers, and your neck will get stiff from looking up, and I will take you to the Art Institute and try to explain Picasso to you, and I will tell you about my life. I want to take you to all the places I’ve lived and try to explain them to you, to show you what they mean to me, to introduce you to all the people I have been so blessed to know along the way. I want to explain everything about my life to you. I won’t succeed in doing it but I want to try.

And I know in my heart that on some days you will be a delightful child eager to take it all in, and on some days you will be a sullen teenager wondering how much longer I plan to torture you. (And on some days you will be an impossible child living in the irrational state of childhood [that’s secretly just like adulthood] and on some days you will be a sensitive teenager gingerly sticking out your soul to the world.) I wanted to let you know now, I forgive you ahead of time for all of the days that will need forgiveness. And so much bigger is what I have to ask of you- I have to ask you to forgive me for the ways that I will fail you. There will be days when my immaturity shows through, and my selfishness, and my pride. Sometimes I will lose my temper with you and hurt your feelings, and it nearly kills me to think that I would do that but I know it will happen. There will be parts of your life that I won’t know how to parent, and I will probably know that I won’t know, but I’ll just make it up as I go along. I will need a lot of forgiveness. And I hope and pray that the heart God gives you and the Love God gives you is big enough to do that.

And now I have to say the things that all mommies say, just as lovers write the same things again and again and they sound new and fresh and beautiful every time. Part of me wants to keep you inside me forever, safe in a cocoon of muffled sound and dimmed light, buffered away from all the sharp bright hardness of this world. When you are born, Galois, you will become Frail, and vulnerable, and susceptible to a lifetime of things that could hurt you. I think about your life and I think, someday, in this life, you will fall down and skin your knees, or maybe you will break bones, or, something much worse could happen to you. Someday some little child will crush your spirit and when you are an adult some other adult will come and stomp on the leftover bits. There will probably be a day someday when something hurts you so badly that you wish, even just for a moment, that you were dead. And I think,

If you had a choice, would you stay where you are forever? If you could choose, would you choose to live this life in this world?

Soon we are celebrating Easter, when Jesus rose from the dead, and I want to try to explain to you what that means. When I was a little child, I remember having a Sunday School teacher who asked us one time, “What was the significance of Jesus rising from the dead? Why is that really the KEY point of the story?” And I was (for once!) actually a little bit stumped. I was a Good Sunday School child, I knew all the answers to all the questions about the stories, I could explain to you in great clarity from a young age the two sides of the equation balancing: we had sinned, we were bad, God loved us, Jesus died to take our punishment and undo the badness, now we could go to Heaven if we believed in Him. And that was that. Of course the story had a much happier ending because He rose from the dead- it really would have been sad if He had stayed dead, wouldn’t it? But honestly it seemed more to me that the KEY part of the story was the whole dying/exchange thing. I was happy that Jesus rose from the dead but I didn’t Get It.

And then I grew up and went through high school and learned about the Holocaust and starvation and wars and atrocities and broken hearts and cancer and serial killers, and then I went to college and took classes like “Philosophy of Religion,” where we looked at the Big Picture and asked the Big Questions: why did God create the world in the first place? What if He hadn’t? Knowing that Jesus would suffer what He did to save us, did He really think the whole project was worth it after all? And from the human perspective- for every beautiful thing in this world, there’s a horror. For every wildflower there’s a wildfire, for every baby born there’s a child starving, for every peaceful country there’s a genocide, for every Thanksgiving feast there’s a famine, for every wedding there’s a funeral, for every person newly falling in love there’s a broken heart, for every beautiful day at the beach, someone’s drowning in a tsunami. And to top it all off, apparently, a whole whole lot of people are ending up in Hell. And for awhile I used to wonder- when you put it all together, integrate all the pieces, add it all up and compute the sum- is it WORTH it for this world to be around the way it is? Sure, my life is great, and I’m going to Heaven, but in the grand and eternal scheme of things, is all the suffering and evil I see all around me really worth it?

Last Easter I had this realization, this big idea that is really sort of an exercise in speculative theology (meaning, you have to hold onto it loosely, you have to take it for what it is without over-analyzing or over-scrutinizing) and it has made me view Easter differently ever since. To go back to my Sunday School teacher’s original question- why is the Resurrection the KEY point of the story? Really, why is it (as my mom says) the key point of all of human history? As I grew older I understood more and more the answers that we as Christians have for this question. The Resurrection is what sets apart Christianity from every other religion in the world. We serve, not a dead human or a distant, ethereal deity but a perfect God Who somehow managed both sides, Who voluntarily laid aside His glory to take on human flesh and suffer and die with us- but did not succumb to the mortality, did not get defeated by death but defeated it instead. As CS Lewis said, it seems just unlikely and odd enough to be true, doesn’t it?

But here was my thought from last year. (When I tell you this, you will see how studying all the equations has messed with my mind a little bit over the years.) When Jesus died on the cross, He was undoing the damage that had been done to the universe by our sin. We had messed up the perfect and idyllic world He had created; we had set the balance to the negative side in a major way. We were the ones responsible for all of the death and destruction and chaos and misery. He was the One good and loving and kind enough to restore what had been broken, to tip the scale back to the balancing point. Jesus died, and the veil tore in two, the Stone Table cracked, the rocks split. He created a good world, we had messed it up, He died for us to undo our mess. Some sort of cosmic balance was brought back to the beginning.

What if the story had stopped there? Would it have been worth it?

When the sun came up on that Resurrection morning, when that stone was rolled away, the entire universe reeled at what it saw: for God had put His seal, his unmistakable and absolute announcement, that for once, for all time, irreversibly, undeniably, unequivocally, nonnegotiably, the question was answered, the matter was resolved. God answered the question, “Is it all worth it?” and His answer was YES. YES, it was all worth it, it is worth it, it will be worth it for all time, the agony and the ecstacy, the sorrow and the joy, the evil and the holiness, the misery and the rejoicing, when you add it all up the answer is definitively and unmistakably YES, it is all Very Good, and it is all for His good pleasure; it is all for His glory, and the one purpose and the one joy and the one glory of every human being of every nation and tribe and tongue on earth is to be a part of that fantastic celebration of our magnificent risen Savior. The scales are no longer balanced. They are permanently and unshakably tipped to one side- they are permanently tipped to the side of Joy.

No matter how your life turns out, I hope you always know that Joy.

I cannot wait to welcome you into this world, little one. And I love you more than I could ever say.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

18 Weeks- Compare and Contrast Edition

I weigh 143 lbs.

For your amusement, here is a repeat of the picture from Week 10, so you can compare:


Uh, yeah. Conclusion: watching belly pictures in the first half of pregnancy is about as exciting as watching paint dry.

I'm sure the action, suspense, and adventure will pick up a little bit more in the second half.

Coming soon:
*Letter to baby!
*NYC trip details!

Love, Neb