23 December 2006

Do you believe?

When I was a little girl, my parents fought a lot. My brothers and I were constantly on eggshells, particularly around my mother. Christmastime was no exception. We may or may not have gotten the tree up and lit before Christmas day. Same thing with lights on the house or Christmas shopping. I'm sure there were years when I feared not getting to celebrate the holiday at all, but I have pushed a lot of bad memories out of my mind.

I may not have felt much of the "Christmas Spirit" before the 25th day of the month, but I knew it was out there. I would often play in church the Sunday before Christmas with the choir. We did the same program every year, and I looked forward to it. People who hadn't been to church all year long would attend that day, some even joining the choir at the very last minute. Which made me think, there's no escaping the Christmas Sprit.

When my husband and I got engaged and I began spending Christmases with his family, I came to know the spiritedness of the holiday quite well. I couldn't believe how beautiful a simple holiday could be. Or how long it could last. My mother-in-law found joy in every aspect of the season. Her home became more beautiful, her food more delicious. I loved being there with them at that time of year.

Now that I have children, Christmas has a completely different impact on me. I am focused on how they perceive everything and the message they receive this time of year. I want them to think of Christ, not presents. And I want them to feel like they've already received the greatest gifts of all. It dawned on me the other day (as it has over and over in my life) that the key to happiness truly is living a Christ-centered life. So we've read scriptures of Christ's example and gifts to us, and we've looked for opportunities to serve others just as he did in preparation for his birthday.

I've noticed that the feeling of the Christmas spirit hits me at a different time each year and in a different way. I've also noticed that some years, it's harder to feel it than others. The passing years have brought more children, more shopping, more class parties, more responsibilities, more distractions. Somehow, though, Christmas day arrives and our home and hearts are always transformed. Even as a child, not knowing what December 25th would bring, that feeling of peace would arrive just in the nick of time.

So, do I believe? Oh yes, I do. In magic, in the Spirit, in whatever you want to call the change that comes over everything. Birthdays and many other holidays are subject to bitterness, but Christmas somehow survives every year. No matter what.

14 December 2006

Gesu Bambino

... my Christmas present to all of you (which also happens to include some rousing vocal accompaniment by Drew and "Between the Lions")!

12 December 2006

The midnight train to Georgia?

Anyone know where to catch it? ;)

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season brings me introspection and hope... I look at my life and I see a lot of room for improvement. And I hope I can keep going and improving my life. At times, though, I wonder how I might do that. Because it's the very things that keep my life in order that sometimes driving me crazy!

I thought about this deeply today as I dragged myself and my two little ones to the grocery store, simply because it's my usual day to go. I could have made it another day without the groceries themselves, but I knew that would upset the rest of my week. Yes - Monday and Tuesday are laundry days, plus Tuesday is grocery day. Wednesday is bathroom and dusting day. Thursday is vacuum and mop day. And Friday is kitchen day. Any deviation from "the schedule" and I pay for it more than I did by forcing myself to get it done in the first place. So, I just do it. Like jumping into a cold pool. Or pulling off a bandaid. Or getting out of bed as soon as the alarm sounds. You just do it.

What keeps you going? Me? Some days - a girl's night out. A quiet dinner with my husband after the children have gone to bed. A spoonful of peanut butter sprinkled with chocolate chips.:) Some days I don't need much at all. I wake up happy to go about my little routines. Other days I know I need something, but nothing really does the trick. I guess on those days, there is an unseen force or drive that keeps me going. Perhaps it is simply answering to the divine call of motherhood that blesses me with the power to endure.

So, I am grateful for the traditions of Christmas and the New Year. They give me the desire to sprint for the finish line. Even if I have to just go through the actions on some days, and wait for my heart to be in it.

When January 1st rolls around, I get to catch my breath and start anew.

08 December 2006

Rooty toot toot and a rummy tum tum

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
The holidays bring in lots of fun opportunities for me to perform, which has me thinking about some of my favorite Christmas music. I thought I'd give my review of the best stuff out there.

Two years ago I saw Harry Connick, Jr. perform. It was not only my first time to hear him in concert, it was also my first time to hear him. Lol. Nothing had steered me away from his music up until that point, I'd just never taken an interest in it. He performed primarily from his "Harry for the Holidays" album and let me tell you, I bought it practically on the way home from the concert. It is filled with upbeat, toe tapping renditions of all your favorite carols, plus a couple really good originals by handsome Mr. Harry himself.

Another great album I enjoy listening too is "An Airus Christmas". Now, I am partial to the music because I used to record for the sudio that produced it, but I also believe it is some of the most well written Christmas music out there. It is calming and beautiful - perfect for a drive out to see Christmas lights, or on the way to and from church, or in the background during dinner.

I love the soundtrack to "Miracle on 34th Street" (redone). There's nothing like a soulful Aretha Franklin side by side with the ethereal Sarah MacLachlan (can't wait to open her new album on Christmas morn) to put you in the holiday mood.

What's Christmas without a little Bing? There are a variety of Bing Crosby compilations to choose from. I don't believe I've heard one that I DIDN'T like. He's definitely a familiar voice during the holidays, and a necessary staple for your collection.

And here are a few songs you may not hear much of that I think are worthy of endless repetition:
Carol of the Bells
Oh Come, Oh Come, Emmanuel
What Child is This/Greensleeves
Coventry Carol
Jesu Bambino
I Saw Three Ships
Ave Maria
We Three Kings
I Wonder as I Wander
Little Drummer Boy
Do You Hear What I Hear?

Listen to The Nutcracker. Listen to The Messiah. Listen to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir ("Sing, Choir of Angels" is my favorite). All preferrably in lieu of "Last Christmas" by Wham. What does that song have to do with merry cheer, anyway? ;)

04 December 2006

I give you...

...my wreaths!

MOD Monday

Let your creative juices flow!

I have found that creativity just cannot be stifled, no matter how busy you get! I've hardly had the time to make things that I normally would around the holidays, but I managed to come up with a few cheap and very simple ideas to share with you all.

I caved and bought artificial trees this year (I've always been a fresh tree gal). I found 3 tall, skinny alpines that I really like. But the base is just an ugly black metal platform, which needed to be covered up. I wasn't sure if you could buy tree skirts that small. Plus I needed 3, which = $$$. So, I went to WalMart and bought some cheap felt, cut out my circles and sewed on a few buttons and ribbon ties, and voila! Each tree has a different pattern (I still need to whipstitch the edges of the other 2), and the grand total for all my supplies was about $10.

A few Christmases ago I went to a kitschy home decor store with my MIL. They these moss covered balls everywhere that were just gorgeous! - in Christmas trees, window sills, suspended from the ceiling. They were super easy to make... you can embellish them however you like, but I used copper wire, upholstery pins and organza.

I've yet to find stocking hangers I like... you know the ones, they hang over the front of your mantle. Well, they're all a bit trendy looking for me. I'm not saying this is a Vogue worthy idea, but it's a super cheap alternative: I just used mug hooks, on the underside of my mantle, and disguised each one with a pretty bow.

I think I've mentioned before how much I love wreaths. This year I made over some pretty plain ones I've had to give them a bit of a punch. Took me about 5 minutes to get inspired in the dried flowers aisle at the craft store, and only a little longer than that to make! Blogger won't let me post pictures of them right now... I'll have to try again later!

30 November 2006

Happy Thursday!

Remember when I said this? Well, I take it back. I want to skip "2" entirely! (Image not clear due to percussive motion by subject.)

Unfortunately, I think Sasha got these from me.

"You like that, Mom? Catch this gut!"

At least she's happy about it.

THIS does not happen very often!

27 November 2006

MOD Monday

With motherhood have come a few things I never thought I'd hear, say, or do. We all know the process of becoming real moms well, I am sure... that painful transition from cooking homemade meals to purchasing your first happy meal, from cleaning weekly to "as needed" (more fondly known as "where obvious"), from the "10 second rule" down to the "10 minute rule" (and occasionally, "unless it has hair on it" rule).

Things I never thought I'd hear.
Not long ago, my daughter walked in the door from school, handed me her jean jacklet, and said, "Here Mom, someone threw up on this".

Things I never thought I'd say.
My 2 year old has recently learned the art of tantrum throwing. Yes,
this 2 year old. These days, his floor thrashing ablilities have me saying things like "If you're going to do that, do it on the carpet." and "Can I join you?"

Things I never thought I'd do.
Race a child to the toilet... yes, more here on the subject of throwing up. (I would apologize, but really - what is a moral of the day without a few vomit stories? )
During one of our recent bouts with the flu, I managed to anticipate my daughter's actions and get her to the porcelain vessel without a second to spare. I thought maybe one day I'd be able to run a marathon. Little did I know it would only be a 50 foot sprint. Speed, indeed!

The point of today's moral is acceptance. Accepting "the things we cannot change".

So accept McDonald's in your life.Accept screaming 2 year olds in your life. Accept vomit in your life.

And life? It should get much easier.

15 November 2006

"Simulation terminated, simulation terminated" ...

...many moms know which movie that line came from. Sometimes, when I hear it, I daze off into my own little lala land and dream that I get to have a trial round of parenting before facing real situations... difficult situations... like with travelling for instance (we're driving 3200 miles round trip during the holidays this year). Or going to the dentist. It would just be really nice to know how to assure the best outcome. It would save my sanity. Oh, my sanity. Where did that go? But more wisdom will come of doing things for the first time, and messing up occasionally. Even if it takes 9 plus years to feel like I might have it all under my belt.

As one of MOFs recently taught me, it's not about me right now. It's about my kids. My small sacrifice of time - what, the next 18 years out of an entire lifetime? - will be dedicated to them, and their well being.

"You don't get a vacation from being a mom." --Little People, Big World, TLC.

It's recently become very real to me... how invested I am in this thing called motherhood. I wonder when I will resume sleeping all night long. I wake at every little sound. I worry when my kids are sick and when they are healthy. I may get out of the house for a bit by myself - to go grocery shopping. But how can you get through a trip to the store without thinking about your family? On rare occasion my time away is completely indulgent - like for a haircut or a girl's night out. But the last time I had a girl's night out, I was called home just an hour later to feed a baby who was suddenly refusing the bottle. I'm not complaining; I've come to accept this. In all I do, I am a mom. I don't get time off, just like I don't get a rehearsal.

I don't think I ever felt like a housewife before I had 4 children. I've always been a "stay at home mom", but I never really felt like one. I had my regular outlets - teaching violin, performing around town, leading weight watchers meetings, designing for wedding receptions. In the last couple of years, that list has dwindled. Considerably. There is spare time here and there, but simultaneous outlets are a thing of the past. As is a house that is completely clean, every room, at the same time. So, there are times now when I feel like all I do is be a wife, mom, and keep house. I will not let it define me, however, because what you don't see in the term housewife is the tender moments between mother and child, eternal partners, and family members as a whole.

I've created my family, now it is time to raise it. Instead of teaching other children how to play an instrument, I will attend piano lessons with my daughter and support her in HER desires. Instead of performing with the symphony, I will play Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star as many times as my toddler would like. And he will clap and squeal. And I will bow and accept weeds from the yard instead of freshly cut roses thrown at my feet. Instead of helping other women learn how to care for their bodies, I will care for my own and be an example to my children, teaching them how to treat their bodies as temples, helping them to respect themselves and have a srong self esteem. Instead of designing wedding receptions, I will let my little girl dream of her own big wedding some day and we will muse together about what a joyous day that will be. I will help her aspire to marrying in the temple and finding a man that is worthy of her, and my husband and I will model a strong loving relationship for our children. And I will feel both fulfilled and compensated because I'll be teaching them, shaping them, molding them.

I don't doubt that there will be a time or two over the next several years to do something fulfilling, just for me, that I love and that makes me Leilani. But when I do, I will be ever so grateful that motherhood, after all, is NOT a thankless job.

06 November 2006

MOD Monday

Yesterday a woman who used to be my visiting teacher shared some shocking news. She'd just been told that she had a 4 inch mass on her liver. She'd been in a car accident and in the process of checking her out, the doctor had discovered this mass. And her first thought? "I haven't been a good enough person - a good enough friend, a good enough wife, a good enough mother." She told all of us in Relief Society, "Don't let it take a wake up call to realize you could have been better."

That reminded me of a bit of wisdom that my great grandmother had left in an old journal. I dug through some stacks to find it and reread it. Dated June 14, 1936: "Live so that looking backward you can have no regrets. Dream lofty dreams and then ever struggling upward reach the upper most peaks. Then with love, friendship and charity toward all, be an inspiration for good to your fellow men and a sweet companion to your loved ones."

I think we've all been reminded at some point or another not to waste time in this life. There really is not any time to waste. Each moment DOES count. Each moment DOES matter. And all it takes is a single moment to possibly rob us of the freedom to make a difference - in our lives or in someone else's life. So let's take this "cliche" seriously...

...that's the moral of the day.

01 November 2006

God, give me patience...

... when wee hands tug at me with small demands.

That's where I've been. In the land of wee demands. Sorry for my absence - from both mine and your blogs.

We had a fantastic Halloween day. It started with a costume parade at the elementary school. Here's my little tank engine:

There was much baking and cooking as well. Taco soup, rice krispy treats WITH chocolate chips and iced confetti brownies.

Finally the time came to dress up and go party. Every now and then my little tiger would crouch down and roar at passersby. The one day of the year I don't have to apologize for that kind of behavior!

We opted to do the ward trunk or treat this year. I didn't spend much time at all on our trunk... I didn't really have the time, but I was sure inspired by some of the others!
We came home and let the kids hit a few of our neighbors' homes for the traditional trick or treat. Then everyone crashed, despite pure sugar pumping through our veins.

Sasha didn't "dress up" so I have to include a Fallish picture of her. :)

25 October 2006

Let them be two

... or three, or four, or whatever their age is. That's what we're supposed to do, but I am one of those parents who hangs on and resists.

Today is Drew's birthday. His 2nd birthday. I can't help thinking of him as my baby still. We had resolved that he was our last child, so everything I did with him, I did thinking I'd never get to do it again. That resulted in a strong bond.

This week I made the huge step of giving him his first haircut. He has a beautiful head of blond curls, which contradict his chubby stature in such an endearing way. I guess you could say they are his saving grace. So I've been afraid to part with them, to essentially let go of his babyhood.

I guess the fear here is forgetting cherished moments with our children - when they are so tiny and still and eager. It doesn't seem fair; the amount of time we get to enjoy seems to pale in comparison to the amount of time we invest - actively, mentally, emotionally. All we can do, really, is live in the moment. You may be surprised, it might last longer than you think... (and those baby curls may just stick around).

19 October 2006

Mortifying Mommy Moments

You know the ones. When your child goes stiff as a board as you try to quickly exit Sacrament meeting. When you let a bad word slip out in the fawyer. When you walk out of the church building, get in your car, drive all the way home, and realize you've left your toddler in the nursery. When you accidentally answer the door in your robe over nothing. When the door knocks just after you've screamed at one of your children. You open it and realize you forgot you had an appointment. With a parent educator. In your home. You're still in pajamas (albeit better than semi nakedness) and the living room has been taken over by millions of playthings. When your toddler metamorphosizes into a little hellion the minute you walk through your visiting teachee's door. When his blood curdling screams can be heard throughout the aisles of Target.

There are days when we think to ourselves, I am not cut out for this. Motherhood has stripped me of my dignity! I had one slew of days not too long ago. I plopped down on the sofa after what seemed like 100 hours on my feet to feed the baby and sing unamusingly with my toddler to his favorite CD. And he ever so softly reached over and placed his chubby little hand on my arm and began to stroke it while he listened to me sing. Then I looked down at Sasha who had just moments ago been red in the face with tears and got a big toothless grin followed by a few happy raspberries. And I thought to myself, "This is where I belong. This is what I am supposed to be doing. This is my validating moment, and it does not matter that no one else is here to witness it."

10 October 2006

Moral of the Day Monday

Just when you think you might sell one of your kids, they go and do something adorable. Adorable in a way that only your kid can be. My 7 year old daughter made me a card this weekend. Inside the cover it says (and I quote):

Roses are red.
Violets are blue.
Here is a card for you!

And on the other side:

Dear Mom, I love you more than you are sweet! You are lucky to have me.

Lol. So, the moral is... if you think you might lose it with your own kid today, just remember how lucky you are. To have them, of course. Not the other way around. Smirk, smirk. ;)

The lovely CMommy has tagged me to do another meme. I've been given 4 words for which I have to share my first impressions. They are internet, preschool, attire and design.

Internet - to which I am *somewhat* addicted. Lol. I remember the first time I really used the internet. We'd just had our first child and moved to Hawaii. The best shopping we had in Honolulu was in Waikiki and I hated trudging through the thick crowds of tourists. So I didn't venture out much, except to the local grocer, food stands, flea market and beach. So I thought I'd check out the world of online shopping. I was immediately drawn to the sales, the free shipping, the save $10 on $50 offers you can find on the internet. I remember my first purchases. They were of course for my baby girl... I bought a couple pairs of $4 shorts from the Gap and a $5 romper and got a free t-shirt and socks! Then when I went on bedrest for the first time (second pregnancy), my husband offered to buy me a laptop. I thought he was crazy. What in the world would I do all day with a laptop? WELL. Let me tell you, there's a lot you can do! That is how I first met MOFs. THAT is how this blog came about. The rest is history! (What does that cliche really mean, anyway? It just seemed appropriate here, lol.)

Preschool - enrichment for little people. Preschool is just so dang fun I wish I could go! Lol! I have been fortunate to find some superior programs for my tykes, too. I love that you can get a break just a couple mornings a week AND give your child their first mini learning and cultural experiences. It is also great for preparing them socially to enter Kindergarten.

Attire - something I think about often... What is appropriate wear for around the house? Yoga pants and a t-shirt. What is appropriate attire for the grocery store? Maybe a step up - jeans and a shirt. What is appropriate attire for shopping? Something too nice for flip- flops, lol, but not over the top. Plus jewelry. What is appropriate attire for a date? Something classy. A girl's night out? Something sassy. Church? Something that makes you feel good. After all it is the one recurring day of the week you have the opportunity to do your hair nicely and make up your face without interuption. Ideally, anyway.

Design - it's everything! I am extremely detail oriented. From my house to my blog! I guess my background in art helps me out here, but everything I do I approach with good design in mind. And it is something I just love to incorporate. I could browse magazines and tour homes and visit tiny unknown little shops for hours. I am constantly looking for new ways to use typical things. Reinventing everything. And I have to have a steady flow of change, too. I can't keep anything - my home, or myself, looking the same way for very long.

Now it's time for a chase. I tag Morning Glory, Kristen, and Itybtyfrog! Your words are classic, forge, home and charity.

09 October 2006

Moral of the Day Monday

Moms have no secrets. Although we like to think we do. The secret to unchipped dishes (cupboards filled with melanine/acrylic in all its cool modern varieties). The secret to a quiet toddler. The secret to a spotless house. The secret to a well balanced family diet. The secret to no cavities, ample sleep and complete obedience. And yes, chances are someone else has a dang good chocolate chip cookie recipe, too.

The truth is, we all have our formulas for success. And we are all successful in different areas of parenting or housekeeping or family health. I for one am great at loving children, but not disciplining them... getting them immunized on schedule but not taking them to the dentist... throwing a memorable, but usually overscheduled birthday party... remembering the allergy medication, but not their vitamins.

Moms are also pretty easy to read, although we wish we weren't. Behind the pursed lip smile is the mantra "I think I can, I think I can." This may be accompanied by a crying toddler. The wary eyes/black circles but still glowing expression belongs to new moms. As do the thoughts, "Please excuse my dreadful appearance and the growth that remains in my midsection." The "mission in mind" expression belongs to veteran moms. There is a quick and hurried, but organized and confident way about them. The zoned out expression from any and all moms means it's time for a new school year to begin! Or Christmas break to end. Not that any of us would like to admit we grow tired of our children from time to time. We're all trying to survive. We're all hoping to thrive.

And moms can be spotted pretty easily, but we'd each like to think "I don't look like a mom." We know not to wear white "stain magnet" shirts. Or black "snail trail highlighting" shirts either, for that matter. There are a few "mom jeans" still in existence - but they are an endangered species thank goodness. There is the mom bag on the shoulder, these days cleverely disguised as a purse. There are the mom cars - minivans, SUVs, complete with wrist spranging amenities. Yoga pants/capris, Old Navy tees, cute tennies/flip flops and "mom dos".

One thing not kept secret is how well moms can multi task. It is not uncommon to see a mom wearing one child, pushing another in a shopping cart and successfully balancing 2 weeks worth of groceries while singing "Old MacDonald" (to keep whining at bay, of course). They are also completely equipped with snacks and binkies and other distracters. Hence the need for the mom bag with the bottomless pit. At home they are capable of calming a fussy baby while cooking dinner, overseeing homework and blogging. ALL at the same time. ;)

My mother-in-law gave me some great advice this week. Truly one of the greatest "momisms" I've ever heard. We were talking about each of the kids, their struggles and their successes. I was beating around the bush for some encouragement because I don't wear my weaknesses on my sleeve very well. She said her mother - one of those highly admired supermoms - was once asked "Which of your kids do you love the most?" And she simply answered, "Which ever one needs me the most at the time."

While not one of us may hold the secret to a perfectly blissful parenting experience, we likely have some secret tidbits of wisdom brewing, just waiting to be unleashed.

And that's the moral of the day.

06 October 2006

Fall is here (or at least it should be)

Nettie has invited us to share our fall decorating ideas. I have a difficult time accepting that Fall is here. We still have temps in the 90s! But, I do sense that there is something in the air. And it is always fun to kick off the holiday season with some fun decor.

I love, love dried gourds:

And wreaths... I have one for every holiday and in between!

I got this little guy for $1 at Target. Ain't he cute?

And this flower filled letter box was inspired by my mother-in-law, uber fabulous interior designer that she is!

Happy Fall to all!

02 October 2006

Moral of the Day Monday

Floundering here in a sea of confusion lately. I've been questioning my parenting skills. Scrutinizing them, really. Feeling sub par. And looking for answers.

There are times when I feel so on top of my game. And then there is now. The opportunity to improve my mothering skills staring me boldly in the face. A challenge I warily accept, but one that I know will make me stronger.

How much of your wisdom do you attribute to being a mother? For me, all of it. Who knows how many of life's lessons I'd have learned had I not had children. Or how different I'd be. I am borrowing a quote that one of MOF's shared recently to help explain:

"There was something so valuable about what happened when one became a mother. For me it was the most liberating thing that ever happened. . . . Liberating because the demands that children make are not the demands of a normal 'other.' The children's demands on me were things that nobody else ever asked me to do. To be a good manager. To have a sense of humor. To deliver something that somebody else could use. And they were not interested in all the things that other people were interested in, like what I was wearing or if I were sensual. Somehow all of the baggage that I had accumulated as a person about what was valuable just fell away. I could not only be me--whatever that was--but somebody actually needed me to be that." -- Toni Morrison

When I consider what my life was before children, I do find motherhood liberating. Exhausting, but liberating. Nothing else in my life has made me stronger. And with strength comes confidence and freedom - from worry, from the fears that may immobilize us when our child hurts, suffers or when we don't know how to help them overcome something.

What are your thoughts? How do these words apply to you?

28 September 2006

Everything I Know I Learned From Good Tunes

Drewby and I dusted side by side to some rousing tunes this morning. As we worked, I realized how many great and profound one liners there are! So, I thought it would be fun to rattle off a few that came to my mind:

"Time to eat all your words, swallow your pride, open your eyes."

"You've got to get yourself together, you've got stuck in a moment and now you can't get out of it."

"When you lose something you can't replace. When you love someone but it goes to waste, could it be worse?"

"When the world is running down you make the best of what's still around."

"I should be crying but I just can't let it show. I should be hoping but I can't stop thinking."

"Don’t let your life pass you by. Weep not for the memories."

See if you can name these tunes, and maybe even come up with a few of your own!

26 September 2006

Tag, I'm it!

Nettie tagged me to do a meme which originated in New Zealand. If you are into meme history you can check out the original here.

What do you like most about where you live? I love my neighbors. We are fortunate enough to have the right age children all around us, and they all have terrific parents! We get together often for BBQs and it is a given that we are going to celebrate birthdays together. As for living near Austin itself, well it is dang hot, so I can't brag about the weather. But I do love the city. There is such diversity here. It's the "Live Music Capitol of the World", which as a musician, I can really appreciate! In the burbs where I live, we still need to work on our dedication to the arts, however.
Is there anything strange about where you live? Not really - although it is virtually unrecognizable from when we first moved in. The area is really booming, which is exciting (new IKEA and Outlets) and frustrating (construction) at the same time!
What's one of your all time favorite music albums, and why? Oh, that is so not fair! You can't ask a musician to pick just one! Therefore, I will list a couple recommendations.
Hush by Yo-Yo Ma, Bobby McFerrin, Johann Sebastian Bach, Jean Barriere, and Charles Gounod. It is amazing what you can do with a voice, a cello and some incredible compositions.
Metropolis by Turtle Island String Quartet. Again - amazing talent. Jazz on stringed isntruments at its best! This ensemble is a total inspiration to me! Julie-O is my favorite song on the album.
I also love
Vanessa Mae - classical violinist gone fusion!
I guess I'll stop there, but not because I couldn't come up with many, many more!
Did you have a passion for something as a kid that you still have now? I have all the same passions - for art, dance and music. I am most involved in music, since that is what I got my degree in (Viola Performance and Pedagogy), but I still try and stay connected to the art and dance world. In fact, it is my greatest fear that I'll lose my abilities is those 2 areas! In music I have played in orchestras around the world, recorded on some amazing soundtracks, and taught lessons. In dance I both performed professionally and choreographed. And my art mostly benefits myself and my close friends and family with whom I share it.
What do you like most about having a blog? Blogging has helped me to discover my love for encouraging and inspiring others. I've always been "the good listener", but this gives me the forum to speak my mind! It has also helped me to use my mind - to think, to write, to read - all important things when, as a mom, you mostly communicate on a child's level.
Now I'm going to tag:
Shelah, Les, and Valarie!

18 September 2006

Moral of the Day Monday

Moms are brave. Whether it be scaring away the monsters under the bed or giving up a small part of their lives, moms are brave.

Consider this quote by Melvin J. Ballard on the love of mothers:

"I grant you that there are many who approach the great responsibility of motherhood with fear and timidity, because of its dangers to the physical life of the mother, because of its pain, its sorrow and its distress; but in the very nature of things, if God should lighten the burdens, the sorrow, and the pain of child-bearing, he would endanger the enduring love of the mother for her children. There is nothing worthwhile we obtain unless we pay the price for it."

"That which is given to us freely, we consider of little value, and so, because a mother goes into the valley of death, lays her life upon the altar to bring life into the world, and because through the rearing of the children who come to her, she spends many sleepless nights, denies herself the personal pleasures of life, devotes herself with patience and care and strength almost more than she has, to the welfare of her children—this is what makes her love them. For where her treasure is, there her heart is, and the greatest treasure a woman has she gives in her service, her life itself."

I bet we can all relate to this quote, and in very different ways. With how little validation we receive for our troubles in pregnancy and in motherhood, these words bring both comfort and pride.

I sure wish I had heard these words when we conceived Sasha. It was such a blind leap of faith choosing to bring her into this world. It was a very unsure time for us... given my history of preterm labor and other complications we received very little support and encouragement when we needed it most. But we knew - beyond a shadow of a doubt -that it was the right thing for our family. We knew she belonged with us. And how on earth could we not do what we knew was right? How could we not have faith that the Lord only pushes us as far as we can go?

And as I find myself caught up in my whirlwind called life, I often think, "Hello, is anyone watching me? Look ma, no hands!" And though I am tired and worn down, I love them more than ever, these little fruits of my labors.

It is my wish that we recognize our courage in the seemingly small things we do, like simply carrying a child in our womb, let alone caring for it and protecting it once it is born. And that fear and unsurety we feel from time to time? Well, consider it humility. Consider it to mean that you are teachable and willing to learn to be better; to do better.

That's the moral of the day.

11 September 2006

In memoriam

I remember like it was yesterday. In fact, every year that passes since that horrific day, I cannot believe any time has passed at all. It is still so fresh on the minds and in the hearts of us all. We have witnessed a major part of history which is still a big part of our country's life.

On September 11, 2001 I woke up with a heavy heart. I had recently suffered a miscarriage and was in an awful disagreement with my mother. Of course when my husband called me from work to tell me what was going on, my attention immediately shifted from my own worries to those of the world. I only had Adriana then and she happily busied herself while I sat dumbfounded in front of the television. It was a few hours before it dawned on me that I had friends and family to worry about. All the circuits were busy by that point, but I got my relief when in the evening hours I received phone calls that all those I knew were safe. Still, I could not forget about the many others that would be receiving the exact opposite news. And my heart broke for them.

I was not going to blog today. I felt like I didn't have it in me to reflect on this sad day, let alone write about it. But then I realized that the sooner I push it out of my mind and ignor it, the sooner I have forgotten those that lost/gave their lives as innocent bystanders, heroes, and victims, as well as those whose loved ones were taken away.

09 September 2006

08 September 2006

I will remember

I will remember this picture, this mess made just 3 feet from where I was sitting and feeding the baby, this mess made despite my sweet scolding and then my ferocious scolding, this mess made 5 minutes after it was cleaned up. Because one day my little girls will become mothers, and they will call me and say "Mom, you will never believe the day I have had!" And I want to be able to say back to them "Oh honey, I can believe just about anything!"

04 September 2006

Moral of the Day Monday

Happy Labor Day, everyone! I hope you are all enjoying the day off and spending time with your families!

We've taken it pretty easy today, but have had lots of fun. I enjoyed sitting on a park bench and watching my children's imagination at play. I think I miss it a lot of times - their inner aspirations coming out in their free play. But when I really focus in, I am amazed at what I see!

I imagine Jonah will be some kind of stunt man. He has speed, strength and very little fear. And he loves a physical challenge:

Adriana would make a great performer - maybe an actress, perhaps a playwright. She's always poising for the camera. Always pretending to be someone else:

I am very touched by this picture because Drew has hemiplegia (specifically, right side asymmetry). He was in physical therapy for a year to catch him up developmentally. He has worked so hard and has overcome so many limitations. So it pleases me to see him reach a little higher and face obstacles head on. I see a little gymnast in him:

From what I can tell, Sasha is going to be a very serious little girl. She seems so pensive; loves to study her surroundings. At 9 weeks old, she makes very good eye contact and is trying to babble. She has so much to say, I can just tell!

If I could sum this up into a moral, I guess it would be to take the time and just sit back and watch. Watch your children's imaginations come to life and you might learn a little bit more about them.

30 August 2006

Well, it works for me!

I have been that mom who goes back to the grocery store several times a week because she didn't have the time to sit down and make one comprehensive list, ultimately forgetting some things. I'm not super organized with a weekly menu or anything, but I do keep one master grocery list saved on my computer. That way I can print it out and check off all the things we could need that week. Everything we ever use or eat is on that list, so it is virtually impossible for me to forget anything!

Works for me!!!

28 August 2006

Moral of the Day Monday

Sometimes effort alone is enough.

Yesterday we were 30 minutes late to church. It starts at 9 in the morning, and is a daunting task to have 6 people there by then.

Of course, the more agitated everyone got as they scurried through the house getting ready, the more things went awry... stubbed toes, knocked over cups of juice, neglected toddlers left to rip the newspaper into thousands of teeny, tiny shreds. It's Murphy's Law at its best. But we have made a commitment to go to church every Sunday, come what may.

So we get there and everything is going pretty well. The kids are reverent... for about 15 mintues. Then my 4 yr. old notices that his usual Thomas magnet set is missing from the "Sunday grab bag". Oh crap. The Thomas color forms and felt board were not a suitable substitution. So he lied down in the middle of the pew and began to cry. Daddy scooped him up, took him out into the hall, talked to him, and brought him back in. Everything is fine again... for about 15 mintues. (Lol, do you see where I am going here?) Things went sour two more times, same child, before the end of our meeting.

With a sigh of relief, my husband and I ushered everyone out of the chapel doors and on down the hall to their respective Sunday School classes. Again my 4 yr. old protested. What side of bed did he get out on, I am beginning to wonder? My husband had to get to his class that he teaches and I am standing in the hallway with a very reluctant 4 yr. old, a 7 week old and an almost 2 yr. old who looks like he's teetering on the edge of a meltdown as well. For the 2 yr. old, it is expected, in fact normal, to have separation anxiety. We deal with it. For the 4 yr. old, not so much. Daddy checks in on his class and takes our toddler to Nursery, says he be right back for the "middle child". He comes out of Nursery and gives me a thumbs up. Phew, all went well. The preschooler, however, is lying down again - this time in the middle of the hallway. So, Daddy scoops him up again and takes him into class with him to teach.

Not 5 mintues later, said "middle child" is being disruptive in Daddy's class. I was still outside in the hallway chatting away with some other hookey players ;), and showing off the baby, and therefore had no excuse not to rescue him. Just then the nursery leader comes out and tells me "Oh, Sister so-and-so has your son, he started crying so hard I thought he might puke. I knew you had the baby and that your husband is trying to teach right now, so I handed him off to her." I look down at my 4 yr. old who is pouting and on the floor again. Now I am officially short handed. I take the 4 yr. old back into Daddy's class, quietly explain our dilemma, and go check on my toddler. He's nodding off in my friend's arms who mouths to me "Don't worry about him." Love her. Because by now, the baby is fussing and ready to eat. So, off I go to feed and change her. She pees all over her dress. I do not have another one to put on her. S-okay. I am able to clean her up fairly well with wet wipes,
God's greatest creation, and feed her, and catch the last 20 minutes of Relief Society. Of course, I am exhausted, my back is in knots, my head is beginning to ache. As I walk by the fawyer, I notice that no one is occupying the sofa. Hmmm, tempting, but I get on to my class.

I sit down and begin to wonder quietly, why do I put myself through this? Is it worth the enormous effort to only get 20 minutes worth of meaningful church in? I look around the room and into the tired faces of all my sisters. We then sing "Abide With Me; Tis Eventide" together:

Abide with me; 'tis eventide.
Thy walk today with me
Has made my heart within me burn,
As I communed with thee.
Thy earnest words have filled my soul
And kept me near thy side.
O Savior, stay this night with me;
Behold, 'tis eventide.
O Savior stay this night with me;
Behold, 'tis eventide.

I realize then that my effort alone is worth it... to hear a few of God's earnest words alone is worth it. The Lord is by my side at all times... both when I am folding the umpteenth load of laundry and when I have come to worship Him, but coming to worship Him, making Sunday His day, is the least I can do to show my gratitude. And so I say to all my sisters, keep on... the Lord is by your side and has been through it all, including the Sunday morning frustrations.

And that's the moral of the day.

21 August 2006

Moral of the Day Monday

I am not certain of its original roots, but whomever coined or interpreted the phrase "Cleanliness is next to godliness" must not have had children. 4 children to be exact. I'm no sloth; I love an inviting and tidy home where the Spirit can reside. But I have learned to let go when I need to and to forego perfection in favor of quality family life. And it's a good feeling, to know that I can now look at:

laundry or art supplies left out on the table,

a few toys sprinkled on the family room floor,

or a little boy that's so excited to go outside and play he forgets to put any pants on, as signs of a happy home. And not be concerned with lining up the tassles on my oriental rugs. Because we all know that happiness is really what's next to godliness.

And that's the moral of the day!

18 August 2006

We have a suspect!

Nevermind the fact that he looks like he's been extracted from Cabanel's "Birth of Venus", this little cherub is guilty of hitting, pushing and refusing to share!

I think we'll strap on some wings, give him a bow and arrow and call it good this Halloween!

14 August 2006

Moral of the Day Monday

I really like to uplift and inspire my readers. That's kind of the voice I've chosen for this blog. It's fun every now and then to share a funny anecdote or show off some stuff, but my main purpose for blogging is to share my outlook on life with others. So, I've came up with the idea for Moral of the Day Monday. WAY better than Wild Card Wednesday! (shameless plug, lol ;)) I hope it's a success and that you'll drag your manic selves over here each Monday and find something beneficial and empowering.

The other day I was out doing some shopping and I had a moment where I was, for lack of a cheesier cliche, filled with love - for life and for everyone around me, friend or foe. What brought this on, I can't say exactly, but these moments happen from time to time, unexplained sensations that pass through me during no particular task or time of day that make me want to sing out loud. It's just a feeling of complete happiness. A feeling you want to share with everybody around you. A feeling I usually respond to with a smile. I love to smile! I love to be smiled at! And I have a hard time with the assumption that a smile is a sign of weakness or vulnerability. A smile doesn't have to mean "you can walk all over me", although sadly it can be taken as such.

I remember one of the popular girls in my middle school coming up to me once and asking me why I was always smiling. And she told me that it was pretty annoying. I probably should have asked her why she was always pouting... I imagine there are a lot of unhappy people that find happy people annoying! A genuine smile is an immediate sign of acceptance. It says, "Hey! I will not reject you or judge you, you are safe with me!" And I think that in today's world, we need a little more of that reassurance. It felt so good that day in the store to walk up and down the aisles smiling at everyone, and getting some smiles in return. I felt connected with everyone. I could feel that we all came from the same place. Maybe it was one of those moments where the veil is thin; I don't know. But I'm thinking there's got to be a special reason why we have this reflex. And I call it a reflex because it's a natural response, whether you can see or can't see, whether you're a newborn baby or a wise old soul, whether you're poor or wealthy, whether you speak my language or you don't, whether or not you look like me. It's not something you teach or copy or have to learn how to do. It just happens when stimulated by goodness.

And that's the moral of the day.

11 August 2006

Be a doll...

... and let me know if I am on your blogroll. I would very much like to return the favor.


07 August 2006

Today I am grateful for...

a beautiful baby to bless
family and friends to share special moments with
creative outlets
rain and lush trees
healthy, happy children
a good night's sleep


chocolate (you never know how much you appreciate something until it's gone)

02 August 2006

Can I get a woohoo?

I've posted 100 entries! Yeah!!! And, AND, Blogger is letting me post pictures! WOO HOO!

Okay, so my recent project has been baby announcements and I wanted to share... there are two kinds of paper because I couldn't find enough of just one print. It was fun to mix it up anyway!

That second picture won't rotate for some silly reason. And the coordinating paper inside of the second version is the darker pink you see with lighter pink polka dots. (Not shown because I'm not going to display all the personal info included.)

Too bad it's not Tip Tuesday, because I think I have one to put an end to sibling squabbles. First thing this morning I had a serious talk with my children. I told them "Mommy has a goal today, and that goal is not to yell. I want you two to make a goal as well... I want you not to yell or fight or hurt one another. Do you think we can work together to accomplish that?" Then I read my scriptures and told them that we cannot be happy when we are not good (Mosiah 2:41). Result: Today has been SUCH a good day. We've had lots of reminders, but what a difference I see! I don't know if summer boredom had set in, or if the anxiety of school beginning in 2 weeks was getting to them, but our days were getting pretty crazy with whining and bickering (that includes me, lol). No matter how much fun I planned or structure I implemented, we were all loose cannons. I like the feeling that we are all going to sprint through the next 2 weeks together with a good "goal" in mind. I'm thinking of getting all cutesy and making a chart. Thinking. ;)

I got tagged by The Mother Load to do a "baby meme" for Sasha.

3 things that scare me:

~the occasional bonk on the head or shriek from excited siblings
~Daddy's sudden and very loud sneezes
~when I'm not laid down ever so carefully (I have a strong startle reflex)

3 people that make me laugh:

~so far, Mommy is the only lucky one who gets smiles (bright and early in the morn)

3 things I love:

~being held
~being fed
~being sung to

3 things I hate:

~my swing
~being naked
~getting my diaper changed

3 things I don't understand:

~baths: sure I get lots of love when all is said and done, but what's with all the head sniffing?
~being set down: all is well, I am very comfy on my Mommy's chest, and then she goes and just PLOPS me down to tend to some other child's needs, or for Pete's sake, to go to the bathroom!
~changing clothes: what's the big deal? I get it, baby girl clothes are cute, but I'd rather stay warm in what I've got on than be undressed and redressed.

3 things on my floor:

~a playmat
~floor pillows for reading and cuddling
~a lavendar rug from the Land of Nod that Mommy just loves :)

3 things I'm doing right now:

~staring at my hands
~making facial expressions
~learning how to get what I want :)

3 ways to describe my personality:

~easy to please

3 things you should listen to:

~Mommy serenade me on her violin and viola
~lots of lullabies
~lots of stories

3 things you should never listen to:

~the banging and clamoring that my siblings call playing
~Daddy's CDs
~"Just a minute, Sasha" when Mommy can't get to me RIGHT AWAY

3 things I want to do before I die (in other words three things my mom wishes for me):

~feel the love that is all around me
~learn discipline
~give generously

3 absolute fave foods:

~Mama's milk
~Mama's milk
~Mama's milk!

3 things I'd like to learn:

~how to talk, man do I have a lot to say!
~how to turn down the volume around me :)
~how to grasp those dangly things in my bouncy seat

3 shows I watch:

We're not there yet!

3 babies I tag:

~London @ Mayhem in Mexico
~Mini Man @ Here Today... Probably Tomorrow Too
~Camden @ Teacher, Mom, Mad Woman

27 July 2006

A day in the life of...

... a crazy, busy mom of four:

8:00 am - scenario A) wake up panicked to hear your 2 little boys downstairs in the pantry, probably having a food fight; your 7 yr. old daughter (aka " big helper") is obliviously watching something totally worthless on Nickelodeon. scenario B) boys are still asleep and I can warm up to the day before diving in

8:15 am diapers changed - check, breakfast served - check, turn attention to baby

8:45 am - baby fed, me? not so much, place baby in swing, pray she falls asleep again, and rush upstairs to throw on some clothes

9:00 am - clean up remains of breakfast and kitchen; dress everyone, make beds together

9:30 am - decide how to spend my morning with the elder siblings. Options: play in backyard (swingset), play in front yard (bikes, scooters), blow bubbles, set up sprinkler, fill pool, go for a walk, bake cookies

10:45 am - 11 am - wind down aforementioned activity, wrangle kids in for a snack, pop in an Einstein video for Drew, change diapers and feed baby again

11:30 am - cuddle with baby for a bit before lunch craze

11:45 am - put baby in bouncy seat or sling, lunchtime!

12:15 pm - lunch over, clean up time! (This may extend into other areas of the house... whatever you can get done in about 45 minutes, or as long as your toddler will continue to nibble/play in high chair)

1:00 pm - if baby isn't settled down for another snooze, place back in swing; or, let kids take turns holding her before naptime (for Drew, almost 2)

1:30 pm - ah, naptime: change diapers again (obviously this happens frequently between the 2 "babies"... in fact, sometimes Sasha goes through 2 or more in one sitting!), read story or sing song first, go in bedroom multiple times over the next 30 minutes to put Drew back in bed, make mental note that he is too young probably to be in a big boy bed as he gets out frequently and destroys bedroom; hop on computer for a bit to check email, blog and message boards at warp speed

2:00ish pm - change and feed baby :) preferrably in front of TLC upstairs in bedroom, pending older two children's temperament to be left alone downstairs for 30 minutes. PBS sometimes works.

2:30 pm - serious naptime for baby in cradle in bedroom. This gives me a couple hours to fold or do a load of laundry, remind kids to be quiet, tidy up the house, work on a project, remind kids to be quiet, rest, pull out viola/violin, remind kids to be quiet, pop on computer again in effort to ignor loud disobedient children and calm dry, frazzled nerves, and of course fetch umpteen million snacks for 2 suddenly ferocious apetites! They usually need another activity in here somewhere too: painting, computer game, reading, coloring, playdough, water tray, popcorn/movie time...

4:30 pm - wake toddler or release him from his holding cage, change diaper, survey damage in bedroom, play the "clean up game", feed him a snack, think about dinner

5:00/5:30 pm - bewitching hour: wake baby and change and feed her, then start making dinner (usually with baby in sling as she has an internal sensor that tells her "Everyone is going to want Mommy for something over the next couple of hours and I am going to make sure I am first on the list.")

6:15-6:30 pm - eat dinner and pray that Daddy will walk in the door very soon :)

7:00 pm - wind down with fussy baby in a comfy chair while Daddy cleans up dinner (read: collapse).

7:30 pm - Bathe 3 (sometimes 4) little piggies. Tickle, read stories, get drinks of water, say goodnight - a thousand times.

8-8:30 pm - Official bedtime. Feed and change baby. Daddy snuggles her while I take my shower. I lay her down to sleep and spend 30 mintes or so talking with my hubby over ice cream or some other delectable treat. Then I hit the sack.

1ish am - baby wakes. Change and feed her.

4:30-5:00ish am - baby wakes. Change and feed her. Pray she'll be down for the count; if not pass her off to Daddy to settle down before he gets ready for work.

Somewhere in there at no specific times I tend to bickering, disasters, and hurt feelings or bodies, pray a lot, fulfill requests for hugs and kisses, answer the phone/door, pee and eat something. If I'm lucky, I'll even crack open my scriptures a half dozen times or so while breastfeeding to try and refill my spiritual cup and my patience reserves.

Does this all sound vaguely familiar to anyone? ;) I think if there were a boss involved, I'd get employee of the year for sure.

26 July 2006

Slow Dance

This poem was written by a teenage girl suffering with cancer. I received it today in my email and wanted to share it because it sums up so much of how I am viewing life right now. I am savoring these moments with a newborn... moments I will not experience again until I have grandchildren. And I wake up each day and squeeze every little bit of time in with my older children that I can, because they are growing up and leaving babyhood/childhood behind quicky. Take the time to let these words soak in. And be grateful for every living moment you have:

Have you ever watched kids
On a merry-go-round?
Or listened to the rain
Slapping on the ground?
Ever followed a butterfly's erratic flight? Or gazed at the sun into the fading night?
You better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.
Do you run through each day
On the fly?
When you ask How are you?
Do you hear the reply?
When the day is done !
Do you lie in your bed
With the next hundred chores
Running through your head?
You'd better slow down
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.
Ever told your child,
We'll do it tomorrow?
And in your haste,
Not see his sorrow?
Ever lost touch,
Let a good friendship die
Cause you never had time
To call and say,"Hi"
You'd better slow down.
Don't dance so fast.
Time is short.
The music won't last.
When you run so fast to get somewhere
You miss half the fun of getting there.
When you worry and hurry through your day,
It is like an unopened gift....
Thrown away.
Life is not a race.
Do take it slower
Hear the music
Before the song is over.

21 July 2006

I'd forgotten...

... how much I love:

the smell of a newborn baby's head
and their soft, scrunchy necks
the way my lips fit perfectly in the bridge of their nose
wide eyes at 1 in the morning
and bobbing little heads when put to my shoulder
teeny, tiny hands wrapped tightly around my fingers
floppy sleeping positions
the way every picture of a newborn turns out perfectly
grunts and squeaks and grimmaces
and the most adorable little sneezes
sleepy smiles, gas or no gas :)
melting like butter when placed chest to chest
and the immediate calming effect of holding baby in your arms
the excuse to just sit and cuddle and stare and think deep thoughts

19 July 2006

And the award goes to...

Thanks to all who participated in the guessing game. The winners were Morning Glory and Allie for birthdate and cmommy for weight. Your luxurious prizes are virtual chocolate and a pedicure.

Enjoy. :)

Things are going well here. Sasha loves to be held. She is sleeping 4-5 hours at a time at night. And I feel great!!! Now if I could just get back on top of my housework, lol.

14 July 2006

Shall we nickname her Liberty?

Well here it finally is... the tale of Sasha Evalani's arrival. I know it has taken me *some* time to write this. Unfortunately, the day after bringing her home we were back in the NICU for jaundice. That was not a fun experience, but it is behind us and she is doing fine now. Thank you for all the warm comments and well wishes!!!

On July 3, 2006 I woke up feeling a little bit of pressure and back pain associated with my contractions (which had been going on for some time). I took it easy throughout the morning - getting in and out of the bathtub, lying down, drinking plenty of fluids… just trying to decipher this from any other day. I called my doula Laura and discussed my symptoms with her and she felt like I should go into the hospital and at least get checked. After lots of thought and prayer, Andrew and I decided she was right… we just didn’t want to have another false alarm disappoint us. Getting out the door proved to be a challenge in and of itself. There was an entire bottle of juice spilled on the kitchen floor, lots of anxiety from the kids who were excited to have a “sleepover “, and a napless Drew to contend with. I actually sat down on the sofa at one point and said, “I refuse to have the baby under these conditions. Today is NOT the day!” I was fully convinced that I could talk my body out of labor. After all, I’d been doing it for months!

We got to the hospital around 4:30pm. At my OB appointment on Friday I had been 1-2cm dilated, 80% effaced and Sasha was quite low already… below 0 station. But my cervix was still posterior. Upon arrival at the hospital, I was 4 cm and 90% effaced, plus my cervix had moved forward, which had brought baby back up a bit but was really of no concern since that stubborn cervix had finally done its job! They called me “in active labor”, but my body really wasn’t doing it yet. I didn’t feel in sync at all and figured it would be as it was with Drew… that I would walk around at 4cm for a couple weeks. Disappointed, Andrew and I decided that rather than sit in the hospital infinitely waiting for something to happen, like being talked into getting labor augmented, we’d go home. The nurse strongly suggested we walk the halls for an hour first and see if there was any change. We knew there wouldn’t be (or that it would be minimal, if anything) but we agreed. Laura was with us and helped me through the few contractions I was having here and there… they were getting stronger and closer together, but I still was not convinced! It really did not feel as if my body had completely agreed to go into labor yet. After walking the halls for an hour I got checked again and was closer to 5cm dilated. By now it was after 6pm and I was hungry and uncomfortable in the tiny triage room. They wanted to monitor the baby for 20 minutes, during which time I had 3 contractions that required me to focus. During my last one, the OB on call came in and said she wished me the best, all the time watching this huge contraction peak on the monitor. I did my best not to show my discomfort. As if she believed that I wasn’t really feeling it! At this point I really didn’t know that I wasn’t in labor. In fact I was pretty sure things were “syncing up” now. But I knew I’d be miserable if I didn’t get somewhere more comfortable before active labor really began, and get some food in my system. So, with Laura’s full agreeance, we decided to go get ourselves some dinner and just see what happened at home on the birth ball and in the bathtub. The children were already taken care of and our friends were more than happy to keep them while we waited to see what my body would do. I signed an AMA (“Against Medical Advice“) to get out of the hospital. Once in the car, contractions came much, much closer together… almost on top of each other. They were getting painful, too. It just didn’t feel right to me, though. They seemed too close and too sudden, so we continued on our way home, stopping to pick up some dinner first. I knew I needed to wait for the contractions to space out and get even stronger before I’d be in active labor, so I was feeling calm and collected. I practiced breathing through each one, focusing on relaxing my entire body and letting nature take it course. I took bites of my burrito between the contractions on my birth ball at home. Andrew was watching wrestling on TV. After eating I decided to get in the bathtub for about 30 minutes, which felt great! I was almost wishing I’d decided on a water birth at that point, it was just so relaxing and comforting. I‘d been taking baths for a couple weeks to calm my prodromal contractions. The fact that they stayed strong this time told me something. Plus, it was at this point that they spaced out to an even 3 minutes. So, I could clearly see how many women preferred birthing in water.

As things got stronger and more organized, I knew without a doubt that this was it and that we needed to head back to the hospital. Only 2 hours had passed since leaving the hospital when we returned to it. It was now 9:15pm. I was admitted immediately and had reached 6cm. From this point, I had to get into a zone, find a voice for my contractions, move from the ball to the edge of the bed to my side once transition hit. I began to shake and Andrew rubbed my legs. Either Laura or Andrew was constantly fanning my face. The music we had compiled was very helpful in keeping me calm and relaxed. Laura read affirmations to me that gave me some relaxing imagery. As transition came to an end Andrew and Laura took turns providing counter pressure to my back as Sasha moved down the birth canal. It was then that I reached a point where I truly did not think I could handle the surges. I just couldn’t get on top of them anymore… the pain was definitely no longer under my control with any breathing or thoughts or music. Laura got to thinking that shaking + nausea + doubt probably meant I was close to complete (10 cm) so she suggested I get checked. I wasn’t sure if I wanted any disturbance at that point, but was anxious to see how far I’d come. This was my first check since being admitted. Lo and behold, the nurse proclaimed me complete! It was midnight and I could push as soon as I felt the urge. I was in shock, but also feeling very reassured. I had made it all the way to 10 cm before questioning myself. I knew now that Sasha was just minutes away, if only I could find my momentum to push her out. I said a few times “How am I going to do this?“ I guess I was a bit scared. My nurse Darlene said, “You ARE doing it!“ I just couldn’t believe it was happening, that this challenge was almost mine.

My body was not quite telling me what I needed to do yet, so I used a few contractions to experiment with pushing positions. I ended up being the most comfortable with a squatting bar over the bed (which I sat on the very edge of) and with Andrew behind me supporting and continuing to rub my lower back. And he had to do so quite vigorously. I also had to lean back into him just to keep from jumping out of that bed in utter pain. But leaning back quickly proved to be counteractive to pushing, which my body was really beginning to want to do, so I had to lean into my contractions, going against my instincts. This did not feel right for a few more contractions, but I finally got in tune and found my momentum, and pushing was a relief ! At that point something else took over completely. I could feel Sasha’s head with my own hand as I pushed. I felt totally in tune with her now and with bringing her into the world. The room was very quiet. The nurses were incredibly respectful. I hardly knew there was anyone there but me, Andrew and Laura… but there were also 3 nurses and the OB on call, Dr. Southmayde. They trusted me completely to know what to do and let me find my way through it all. I did nothing conventionally… I breathed through each contraction. There was no counting to 10. I just pushed when I felt the urge and for as long as I wanted and as many times during he contractions as I wanted. They did not quiet me or correct me at all.

I began to chant “I” while Laura said “I can do this!” for me. Andrew was getting emotional behind me I could tell. Iz was singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow/What a Wonderful World” as Sasha emerged. I don’t believe it was coincidence that this was also a song that I deeply associated with my late mother. It was comforting to hear that song again at this very moment and I felt some part of Mom was there watching me give birth to her granddaughter. And then came Gladys singing “I Am a Child of God”. Talk about perfect timing.

First the head. Immediate relief and rush of endorphins. Then my water finally broke. And the shoulders and the rest of her quickly followed. July 4th, 12:38am, 8 lbs. 12oz. and 21 inches long. I was overjoyed and emotional and feeling as if I were on top of Mt. Everest. She was perfect in every way, with lots of black hair and big brown eyes. Long, graceful fingers. She came out loud, ravenous and ready to eat! Latched on right away. Everything felt surreal for quite some time. As we called to deliver the wonderful news to our friends and family, I was feeling high and elated in a way I’d never experienced after birth. I had done it. My body had gone into labor on its own. I had experienced it in one fell swoop, from beginning to end, without stops and starts spread out over weeks. Without augmentation or artificial rupture of membranes or an epesiotomy. Without an epidural! And WITH a team of incredibly supportive and respectful medical professionals. It was the most amazing and strengthening experience for both Andrew and I and we knew instantly why we’d been compelled to go the route we did.

I will share a picture as soon as Blogger lets me!

02 July 2006

The Bathroom - Man's Portal Into Another World

As I wracked my brain for one last measly baby project to work on this past week, the thought occured to me (or an MOF, to be honest) to paint Sasha's closet door like a window into a fantasy world. It has yet to be completed, but provides a nice metaphor for today's post. For men, the bathroom seems to be a portal into some private world. A quiet place to get away and relax. For at least 30 minutes. In fact, it's a given that he'll be gone that long when he says "Honey, I'm going to go use the bathroom." Really, there would be no need to announce it if it weren't going to be such a big deal for him. Like, a treat or reward for being gone at the office all day. With how much time my husband spends in the "John" (see it's even named after a man), I wonder if he saves it all up for the minute he walks in the door, before I get my chance to unload on him.

Does your husband disappear for long periods of time to do his "business" like mine does? Is he also smart enough to find the furthest bathroom from where the hullabaloo is when he goes? Upstairs, master bedroom. Always. There's a bathroom just inside the garage door entrance that he walks by every evening. And another one at the top of the stairs. Nope, we want the suite at the end of the hall in the back of the house where you can't hear a dadgum thing. :) I, on the other hand, rarely get the chance to use my beautiful purple and sage green bathroom that I so thoughtfully decorated.

And are your children somehow trained to leave the husband be while he reads poops? Is there an unwritten rule that children must follow Mommy into the bathroom or is that just what happens in my house? Why oh why have we not learned from our counterparts how to properly use our time in the bathroom? Seriously. We rush through our business at lightening speed, sometimes without even closing the door all the way. I have learned to lock the door most of the time. Because having company sitting at the table just outside of it does not, I repeat, does not deter your children from barging in on you and revealing your nakedness in all its glory. But locking often leads to knocking. Incessant knocking. And whining.

Ladies, I think we must be missing out on something big here. I mean, I don't sit and watch my husband do his business in the bathroom, but I am pretty sure something miraculous must be happening in there for him to love it so much. And if it weren't for the aftersmell, I might even think there really was a portal in there somewhere.

Men also seem to have the showering thing downpat. I don't know about your significant other, but mine takes way longer time to shower than I do. And it's never rushed by queries for cereal or tattle taling. Or worrying about whether there has been a cereal catastrophe or reason to tattle that needs your immediate attention. "Calgon take me away?" Totally should have been designed for a man.

Conclusion: There's no such thing as "getting away". for a woman. in a bathroom.

For example, take my bath this morning. The minute the water is turned on, my 4 yr. old is right by my side. How does he do that? I already mentioned how far away our bathroom is.

And the 3rd degree: "What are you doing?" "Why?" "Are you going to use bubbles, Mommy?" "Which bubbles, Mommy?" "Oh, l like the purple bubbles." "Let me wash you, Mommy." "What's THAT, Mommy?" And of course, your husband doesn't hear you screaming his name at the top of your lungs. Because where is he? In front of the computer (the other portal to ignorant bliss) with headphones on "watching the children for you so you can get some down time". Or in my case, so you can contract in peace.

That brings me to my weekly update. On Friday my OB said that Sasha was at +2 station. You heard me right. And here I sit, very pregnant, in front of my laptop. :) Am I complaining? I'm not sure, lol. I thought I'd reached a state of contentment over this, but the mind really is a powerful thing. I can't get over the likelihood of her falling out when she is 2 inches from crowning. Rofl.

Both yesterday and today I have had some bloody show. My contractions are strong and applying adequate pressure to everything "down there". :) I have some good cramping going on as well. And am sure this has all lead to dilating further than the 2 I was on Friday. My hope is that I arrive at the hospital at 6 or 7 cm and am done in just a couple hours.

Let's have some fun. Maybe there will even be a PRIZE! Oooooh, now I've gotcha. ;) Would anyone like to guess how much longer Sasha will hang on (to whatever there is left to hang on to in there)? Oh, and how much she will weigh? 3 weeks ago our ultrasound showed her measuring 6 lbs. 11 oz. On your mark, get set, go!

27 June 2006

Wild Card Wednesday

Today I am answering Rachelle's call for the words discombobulated, percolate, loquacious, tawdry, facetious, and effervescence all in the same post. They surprisingly describe my mood level quite well these days.

And you all thought you were gonna get a break from the whining. Ha!

I am most definitely feeling the discombobulation. I'm not sure about my center of gravity, much less center of emotional, mental or spiritual stability right now. Common in the final weeks of pregnancy, no? (I can't be sure because 38 1/2 weeks is a record for me.) If I am not careful, this disconcertedness percolates everything I do and say! For example, screaming, "Stop screaming!" at my children. :) And then looking around the room like "Where did that come from?" "Who said that? How rude!" (Angel wings flapping away.)

I have well meaning frends and family calling daily to see if "she's here yet". Just in case I, you know, forgot to tell anyone. I try my hardest to meet their loquaciousness halfway, but it's hard to find the words with each and every inquiry. And it would be tawdry of course to say, "I really don't want to talk about it!" Perhaps I could just shut them up with "Hey, you wanna catch a movie? I need to celebrate making it past full term!" The Devil Wears Prada, licorice and a massive diet coke is looking very tempting.

Yes, it has been difficult connecting with my better known facetiousness right now; to find any humor in these circumstances of a baby who suddenly won't budge after every effort was made to keep her from doing so too early. To feel the music. But the effervescence will no doubt return with my waistline.

Just you wait... you won't be able to shut me up, then! :)

23 June 2006

Let's hope this works

Here's a humbling picture. Lol. This would be the "posterior cervix" version of downward facing dog. Yes, Sasha has comfortably wedged herself in front of my cervix. Silly girl. I am trying to get her out of my pelvis so she can drop back in over my cervix, make a good seal and help my contractions do their job. Reading, watching movies, becoming a playscape for my children - all easily accomplished in this position. :)
Good times here!

22 June 2006

Still with child

Just not feeling too great... she's going to take her time. Thanks for all the well wishes! Hope to have something more blogworthy than that very soon. :)

19 June 2006

"There's an upside to prodromal labor"

Yeah! That's what my doula said! And what is the upside you might ask? Generally, a faster active labor.

Well, duh, when your body has been warming up for about 3 months! Ugh.

So, seriously - can this go on for very long? I'm just barely 37 weeks! Update: Friday she dropped. Like a bowling ball into my pelvis (posterior, I might gleefully add)! Thankfully I had an appointment for that afternoon and my OB said for sure I wouldn't make it a week. Oh, and we got to peek at her almost 7 lb. chubby self. :) Yesterday I had contractions every 9-13 minutes apart all day long (except for during my nap whent hey were 17ish min. apart), but they didn't get any closer together than that or stronger. By bedtime, though, my lower back was in a good knot and my inner thighs and butt sore from all the pressure. Today, eh, I'm alright... not as many contractions, but they have gotten stronger. I am totally exhausted.

Whine, grimace, pout!

17 June 2006

A close-up

Here are some close-ups of the nearly complete nursery:

Here is a close-up of my ballooning ankle (Sasha dropped yesterday preventing nearly all lower body circulation):

And here is a close-up of the newly texturized pixie bangs:

My smile wasn't working very well today, so I cut it out of the picture, lol.

I am not sure I will be pregnant much longer. All bets are that she will be here in the next few days! By then I am sure my smile will be working and I will have happy, happy pictures to share. :)