Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Crane

There is a park across the street from Ella's school.  As with many parks, this park is frequented by some who I assume are homeless, including one kind woman who has touched my heart.  I only see her every once in a while, but have tried to stop and offer what I could.  One time it was my daily apple which I usually bring in to work with me.  Back in January on a particularly cold Arizona morning, shortly after I found out I was pregnant, I happened to have a $20 bill in my wallet, which I shared with her, telling her that I had been blessed and wanted to bless her.

On Tuesday morning, I saw her sitting against the lamppost, basking in the warm sun.  I dropped off Ella, and then pulled out the $8 that I had in my purse and proceeded across the street, offering it to her.  When she saw me--now quite visibly pregnant, as I hadn't been in January--she asked, in broken English, if I was the same woman who had given her money before, and if I was having a baby.  When I shared that we were expecting a baby girl in August, she immediately starting fingering through the money I had just given her, telling me that she was looking for an "8".  I tried to insist that the money was for her, and she insisted that she wanted to make something for the baby.  I tried to get away by telling her that I had to get to work, but again, she pleaded that I sit down for two minutes.

And so I did.  She shared that she wanted to make a crane for my unborn baby, since they are a sign of good luck in the Asian culture.  With the crispiest dollar out of the stack I had given her, which I'm sure she desperately needed, she proceeded to fold and bend and smooth each corner.  I tried to make small talk, sitting there on the curb across the street from my daughter's school, as other parents came and left.  I asked her name, and thought that she responded that her French name was "Norie".  When I asked how long she had been in Tucson, she responded that she had arrived on January 14th of the previous year, and then kindly told me that she needed to focus on the crane.  I whispered that I had an apple in the car for her, and that I would be right back.

I returned as she was finishing.  I placed my apple on her bag, and watched in silence as she put the final touches on the tiny paper crane, now not more than an inch big.  The gift that I had tried to give her, she had returned as a beautiful gift for me.  She earnestly told me that this child would be a great leader, and that I had a great task in front of me.  She then asked my name, and when I responded that my name was "Laura", her eyes lit up, and she proclaimed "We have the same name!".  I had misunderstood her when she shared her name, hearing an "N" in place of an "L".  Her name is actually "Laurie", the French version of my same name, coming from "Laurel Tree".  Learning this, Laurie because much more excited, proclaiming that God had brought us together, and explaining that none of the other mothers ever stopped for her--only me. 

I don't doubt that God brought us together.  I don't know why He put it on my heart to reach out to her, but in my walk with Him, I've come to realize that there is so much that I don't understand about His plan for my life, and so I just keep on going, trying to listen to that still, small voice that guides me. 

In reading more about the crane in Chinese culture, I understand that it is associated with longevity and auspiciousness.  I've had former International students who have shared cranes with me in the past.  I don't necessary believe in "luck", but I will cherish this gift as a reminder of God's blessings in my life.  I thought that I was blessing Laurie, but really, she was blessing me. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Weekend Away

I traveled to New York over the weekend for work.  Back in December when we first determined that I was going on this trip, my husband and I talked about taking advantage of our free room in the middle of Times Square and planning a mini family vacation...but then it turned out that I was pregnant, so we figured it would be best to save our money.  So instead, I flew off to New York, and my husband brought Ella camping for a special daddy-daughter weekend.

I was impressed that my husband agreed to take Ella camping for the weekend.  We have a pretty good balance of work within our family, but I simply have more time alone with Ella, simply because I drive her to and from school on my way to work, and my husband works in the opposite direction.  And his civilian job and Army responsibilities often take him away from the home for at least one weekend a month, at the minimum, and as long as six weeks--internationally, nonetheless.  So I get a fair enough of alone-time with just Ella and me, and he's had very little (this also means that I rarely get any alone-time by it's a little strange for me, as well, but in the opposite way).  But I think that it was good for them (and me), and Ella was so so so excited to go camping again!  My husband even packed her clothes for their trip without my assistance!  (We did, however, forget to pack the bread for their sandwiches).

As for me, I had a fun and busy--and yet a little lonely--weekend in New York.  Our flight got in with just enough time to catch a show (Wicked was sold out, but we were able to purchase tickets for Chicago just minutes before the show started), I spoiled Ella by buying too many books at an awesomely huge bookstore, we ate some great food, and I even got in two long runs through Central Park (although I'm fairly certain that my GPS app was thrown off by the tall buildings, because I find it highly unlikely that I ran a 7 minute mile at 24 weeks pregnant while dodging pedestrian traffic and waiting for traffic lights). 

But the long cross-country flights have done quite some damage to my poor ankles!  I'll spare you a picture, but they are so so so fat!  I don't remember them getting quite this plump the last time around with Ella!  I tried to elevate them a good bit last night, but it still sure felt strange to run this morning.  I'll prop them up as much as I can at work, but there's only so much room under my desk.  My very-dear friend assured me that she experienced the same thing when she flew internationally at 25 weeks with her first son, and that the swelling eventually went down after a week, so I'm hoping that mine will also return to a fairly-normal size.  I realize that ankles (and everything else) will swell a bit during pregnancy, but I just feel like it's too soon to experience the discomfort that I most definitely expect in late-pregnancy.  Besides, I still have another five miles to go before I hit 100 miles!

This week's blessing is Ella's little friend's mom, who was kind enough to bring Ella to and from school on Monday while I was traveling.  Her daughter is three days older than Ella, and they started at our original daycare at the same time.  The mom also works at the University, so we've become good friends.  They moved out to our side of town a couple of months ago, and it's been such a blessing to be able to rely on her for some pick-ups and drop-offs when I have to work late.  She's even offered to bring Ella into school while I'm on maternity leave...and I will probably take her up on her offer!