Well, one semester (pretty much) down. I have finals left this week, but all my assignments are turned in, and I’ll spend one day each studying for the remaining finals and taking them — one each Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It’s a trifle odd how quickly the semester has flown by, and flown by it has. It hardly seems that it’s been four months since we moved here. On the other hand, in some ways, living in Oklahoma seems like a different life.
I find that I deeply enjoy the mix of theological study and software development that has come to characterize my weeks. As I hoped going in, the mix of the two has helped me stay fresh and avoiding burning out on either end of the spectrum. I’ve knocked out several large papers: one on church father Saint Athanasius of Alexandria and another on the ever-controversial and perplexing interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11:2–6, the infamous passage on head coverings. For that latter one, I did something I expect to do for all major assignments going forward: converted the paper into the most prominent ebook formats as well as a nicely formatted PDF. This nerdy guy just keeps getting nerdier.
I have another half marathon in three weeks. I have a decent shot at setting a personal best, but even if not, I’m happy I’ll be running it. I’ve learned an important lesson as it approaches: don’t ever schedule a race so that your training should be peaking at the same time you have your finals and term papers due. My training has simply been uneven the last couple weeks because I’ve had so much schoolwork to knock out. Between that and getting a late start following the down time I had courtesy of moving, this has just not been a great season. One of my goals is not to go into a post-race slump this time, but to keep up the training all through the summer (making whatever schedule adjustments necessary to deal with the heat and humidity). That should set me up very well for the next race, for which I’m hoping to actually have some company in the form of friends Stephen Carradini (who will probably be running the half) and Katie King (who will hopefully be running the 10k).
As I’m writing, Ellie is sitting on the floor beside the sofa, playing with her cloth fruit toys. A moment ago, she was “eating” the banana from the set—bananas being her very favorite food, it’s no surprise that’s also her favorite of that little collection. She’s now crawling under our coffee table, finding herself a trifle perplexed by the fact that she’s gotten bigger and has a harder time getting under (not to mention back out from under). Catching Jaimie watching her, she babbles at her, and then laughs as Jaimie laughs at her. After a few minutes of crawling around and playing with my shoes (the ones on my feet right now), she sat and started rocking back and forth in time to the music playing in the background as I write.
She’s inimitable, and absolutely fascinating—not to mention a source of enormous joy. Two of my favorite parts of the day are getting her up with Jaimie every morning and being greeted by her happy smile, and playing and praying with her before bed every night. The older she gets, the more I enjoy it. That says something, because even when she was a day old and keeping us up in the middle of the night, I liked spending time with her. The more she can communicate, though, the more fun it gets.
Speaking of which… she’s talking, just a little! She has had “Hi” and “Yeah” for a while; in the past week or so “Dada” has entered her slowly growing vocabulary. At the moment we’re not sure if she realizes that Daddy is me or whether she thinks it’s “parents,” as she doesn’t distinguish well between Jaimie and me when using it—but it also varies day to day how aware she seems to be of what “Mommy” means. (Some days, we can say, “Who’s Mommy?” and she consistently looks and makes happy noises and flails in Jaimie’s direction, and the same toward me with “Who’s Daddy?” Other days she just gets excited and does nothing at all.) Add in her growing responsiveness to questions with head shaking of various sorts to indicate “No” and “Yes,” and this stage has been enormously fun.
It has also been marked by having to discipline her a little bit here and there, of course, as her will shows up more and more. The majority of the time, she’s great, and even a sweetly delivered, “Ellie, that’s not for playing!” is enough to dissuade her. Most of the rest of the time, telling her, “No, Ellie!” does the trick. Occasionally, though… occasionally she gets it in her head that she’s going to do what she wants regardless of what we say. Perhaps four times in three months, she has gotten little smacks on the hand. What is fascinating to me to see is how she processes it. First comes surprise (“Oh! Dad meant it!”); then the double realization that it hurt and that we’re really unhappy with her (tears); then, as we comfort her and tell her we love her, calming; and finally happy playing within a few seconds. No discipline is pleasant for the moment, but it helps her to know that our boundaries are real boundaries and we’ll back them up; she actually plays more happily after we have reinforced that than beforehand, which is fascinating. We don’t love disciplining her, but it is good for her, and we’re glad she responds well.
And now, I’m off to go enjoy some time hanging out with my wife lady before I dive back into the studying and final-taking on Monday. God speed.