Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Back from Pakistan

I've spent the past few days in Pakistan, in my imagination, as I've been reading Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

Of all the places in the world to hang out, Pakistan wouldn't be on my list. I've even been to India - and while I was there I remember hearing things about Pakistan that were scary. And here this guy Greg Mortenson, an American mountain climber, ends up making it his second home.

The book details how Mortenson promises some kindly and poor mountain village folks that he will help them build a school for their kids. And then keeps his promise. No small task considering the travel, fundraising, and politics involved for an American to zoom in and start big construction projects.

Weirdest for me was that though Mortenson has a Christian background, I understand from the book that he doesn't embrace a particular faith himself. And throughout the book, as he serves and loves the poor and suffering, I kept wondering not just whether a strong follower of Jesus would do what Mortenson did, but whether one could. Oftentimes, doors were open to Mortenson specifically because he wasn't a Christian. And he didn't back away when the opportunities arose for him to learn to pray with Muslims, washing ritually and bowing to Mecca.

This book, though fascinating, isn't exactly an action-packed thriller, yet I didn't notice what page I was on until into the 300s. I wanted to follow Greg Mortenson around, adventure after adventure, and get a closer look at his heart. I am thankful to him and to David Oliver Relin for writing the story. Certainly, my views of Muslims, terrorists, and that whole area of our planet have been altered for the better. I was elated to read the Afterword where I learned that Three Cups of Tea "has been a freshman, honors, or campus-wide required reading selection in over eighty universities and hundreds of schools. It is also required reading for senior U.S. military commanders, Pentagon officers in counter-insurgency training, and Special Forces deploying to Afghanistan...." Hallelujah! And in some way, it benefited this Western United States suburban housewife as well.

My suburban housewife life blows away

Literally. I've picked up a lot of trash this morning blown into my yard by the near-tornado out there. Did I mention I'm supposed to be taking the kids and their baskets to an Easter egg hunt at lunchtime?

I look at the trash I pick up, caught in my bushes after its journey down the cul de sac. There was a piece of an ice bag. An Allegiant Air ticket stub from Monterey to Vegas. Some Papa John's pizza boxes (more than one blew across my desert landscape). A receipt for a purchase at the Post Office.

Came back in from tidying and Cayna is sobbing. "My Webkinz is dead!" she screeched. There, there, daughter. (You RARELY played with the thing -- I think it's been dead for a while and you're just now noticing.)

Assemble 15 eggs per child with Starbursts and Tootsie Rolls. That's sixty eggs for you non-mathematicians.

Clean up the spilled milk that John turned into a painting project on the dining room table. Try to talk to Monica about important housewife topics and Webkinz is blaring at my house while her toddler screams in the background at hers.

My hair is sprayed and teased into a mass of concrete curls and captured in a rubber band that matches my shoes so that I can look like an adorable 39 year-old at the park.

It's Holy Week, folks. Somewhere around here. Can you feel it?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I'd rather not, but I know I need to

I gotta delve more into the issue of women in the Catholic Church. I'm perfectly comfortable not having women priests, but I'd like to have a more informed intellect about the whole thing. I know there are some profound writings out there by orthodox Catholics who affirm women and women in ministry (but not the priesthood) and I'd like to start with those. Then, eventually, I want to read something from the "other side". I wonder if there exists anything thoughtful, not too angry.

Somehow, in accepting the Church's say on male-only priests, I feel like a sell-out to my gender. But usually the ultra-feminist members of my gender irk me. I end up feeling like a jellyfish - all squirmy and translucent and not any real substance or brain. I hate feeling like that.

I think the thing that makes this topic hard to want to study is that I know people who cite the male-only priesthood as one of the things that keeps them from becoming Catholic. And ME reading up on it isn't going to solve the dilemma for them. But I still gotta figure out where I'm coming from.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Three simple ways to save your housewife life

1) You may not think about this much, so it's a good thing I do. Bath towels are a veritable haven for pesky varmints like hairy spiders, scorpions, and in some parts of the country, possums. Even if you use your towel every twenty-four hours (or more), it doesn't take long for scary and potentially deadly creatures to take up residence therein. The solution? A simple shake. I've been employing this since a cockroach scare I had in the 90s. Most pests aren't expecting to be shaken, so they let go, fall to the floor, and can be squashed. (Except in the case of the possum. We don't have those out here, so I'm not sure what you do with a possum once you've dislodged him or her from your towel.) Note: it is essential to shake the towel away from your body. If you're not careful about this, the hairy spider/scorpion/possum might be shaken in such a way as to force it to latch onto one of your vulnerable body parts. Just be careful, is all I'm saying.

2) I have found no studies comparing the dangers of modern laundry rooms with the dangers of coal mines, but I think it's only a matter of time. With coal mines, there is the unavoidable danger of developing coalworker's pneumoconiosis. In short, black lung. And it ain't pretty. With laundry rooms, there is the unavoidable danger of developing lint lung. I can't prove it yet, but I think this might be just as nasty as black lung. You know when you go to clean out your lint filter in your dryer -- (you DO clean that out, right? If not, you are exposing your self to MANY other housewife dangers that I don't have time to get into right now, but they include blowing up your entire house) -- as I was saying, you know when you clean out that filter? -- zillions of lint particles are released into the air, and therefore your nose, and therefore your lungs. To combat lint lung, you can 1)wear a mask; 2)start using a clothesline outside; or 3)hold your breath while you clean out the filter. I recommend the third option since a mask will make you look like a dork and clothes on a clothesline are veritable havens for pesky varmints like hairy spiders, scorpions, and in some parts of the country, possums. If you start to feel light-headed while holding your breath, try cleaning the filter more often.

3) Methane is a gas produced from decaying organic wastes. Methane is not toxic; however, it is highly flammable and may form explosive mixtures with air. I'm wondering, on a given day, how much methane might be accumulating in my kitchen trash can containing PullUps, poopy diapers, rotten potatoes (I meant to bake them...), half-eaten sandwiches made partly from animal products, and mouse-pee-soaked cage bedding. My local gas company has a handy-dandy "Safety" section on their website for which I am grateful. It might have saved your life and mine. It states, as follows: IF YOU SUSPECT A LEAK: (or if you have a trash can similar to the one described above)
* Leave the vicinity immediately.
* Warn others.
* Do not light a match, start or stop an engine, use a phone, switch on or off lights, or do anything that might create a spark.

That's it, housewives! You heard it here first. Until you can hire a trained and properly-attired hazardous waste removal expert to take out your trash - get out of the house! I recommend going to Baskin Robbins. Just don't eat too much and clog your arteries and set yourself up for a heart attack. That's fodder for another post, my friends.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What is it about the Vietnam War?

Just finished another book centered on the Vietnam War. Totally dug the female author's perspective. She was an Army nurse in Vietnam for one year, and does a heck of a job remembering the entire time.

Would I recommend this book? Sure, but I'm trying to think about what it has to offer the thirty-something housewife of 2010. Especially considering most of my friends aren't necessarily history or war buffs. (If you are one of those things, this book is a must-read.)

This book provides a clear look outside my life as a homemaker and a parent and spouse and even a believer in the gospel. I think it's good and healthy to try to appreciate a diversity of people, experiences, and perspectives. Not to try to escape my circumstances (not at all), but to step outside of them for even the couple days it takes to read and become absorbed in a book. Maybe all I'm really saying is that I like a good story.

Home Before Morning is a good story. And a true one, written by Lynda Van Devanter. I loved getting to hear details (even some gory ones) of this woman's whole experience there. As a writer and an analyzer and a self-proclaimed therapist - I would have RELISHED getting to witness the process this woman went through to recall all this stuff and get it onto paper.

Plenty of books have brought me to tears, but this one did it over and over again. And I wondered, considering the many attitudes our society has toward the Vietnam War, and considering all the hopelessness I was reading from page to page, how it would all turn out for Ms. Van Devanter. The ending was completely inspiring. And I'll leave it at that. If you read it, you don't want me to ruin it. And if you don't, you're probably content to hear it ends well. At least this particular Vietnam story.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Morning Muddling

On a good Sunday, right before Mass, I'm rational, coherent and serene as I heft the diaper bag and climb into the van. I'm aware that I'm going to hang out with the God of the universe in His house.

On every other Sunday, my reverence for that same God of the universe is overtaken by one or all of the following concerns: one of my children is wearing an outfit I wouldn't have chosen; I'm not holding in my belly effectively enough; John will inadvertently topple an elderly parishioner and the paramedics will be called.

How can I move more toward that "good" Sunday? I don't know. Just so you know, I truly don't know. I don't want you to keep reading thinking I'll conclude with a brilliant answer. I don't have one. I know it has much to do with prayer, accepting the grace of God, and probably a Valium prescription - but each of those presents hurdles of its own.

Today I arrived at our usual row and whispered "Good morning" to the woman in the end seat. She didn't reply and right there just a few feet from the crucifix I got annoyed. Can't she say good morning back? What a pill! (Never mind that the other 45 people I'd already greeted smiled and replied promptly. I was focused on the woman who didn't. I think I'm a little like Ray Romano's character on "Everybody Loves Raymond". He absolutely could not deal with not being liked. I also, apparently, insist on being warmly greeted and smiled at in all circumstances.) I noticed moments later that the woman was praying the Rosary. Oops.

There's the real life of a follower of Jesus, I think. I'm perfectly capable of harshly judging a prayerful old lady right in front of Jesus! And HE is perfectly capable of still loving and forgiving me. And that's what keeps me going back Sunday after Sunday. No matter how the morning goes beforehand.

Saturday, March 20, 2010


That's an adjective. Describes how I'm feeling. Sitting typing this on our new iMac. What is the "i" for? Wondered the same thing when I got my iPod.

Kevin is sitting beside me and his excitement about this new toy is palpable. Mostly, I feel I've just arrived in a new town and don't know my way around. That's okay. This town has fewer wires and pieces and I'm all about less clutter.

In other news, just moments ago I was still asleep and dreaming that I was going to Bulgaria. I was mostly worried about using my purse instead of a passport carrier. And get this, our flight went from home to Switzerland, to France, to Baker. Yes, that's right - Baker, California. Last stop en route to Bulgaria. And we had an overnight there. A true nightmare.

Did I mention Kevin was sitting right here? So I need to end this digression and go on in my new computer tutorial.

Happy Saturday from the new Apple!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010

- I gave up reading Little Dorrit. It is a testimony to some super-odd personality issue/trait that I read 300 pages before throwing in the towel. That's like being married 35 years and then getting divorced! Who DOES that? Weirdos, I tell you.

- Laura asked if I'm still off sugar. The answer is yes. Next question: am I still tempted every single day to throw in the towel and scarf down a half-gal of ice cream and a couple spoonfuls of Betty Crocker chocolate frosting? The answer is yes. Some days are easier than others.

- Suzie asked when I have time to read. I almost always read whatever current novel I'm enjoying in the morning, before the kids are up, along with scripture and something else spiritual. I take a full hour. This is a new practice since Lent. Also, we have "quiet" time in the afternoon from roughly 1:00 to 2:00 p.m. During that time, John naps, the older three play in their rooms, and I read/pray/nap. Finally, I frequently read at bedtime. If Kevin is involved in a book, we read together on the couch downstairs even before bedtime. Today when the kids had P.E. class, I brought my book to the park and read about a paragraph before there were friends there to chat with. Current read - Home Before Morning, The True Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam, by Lynda Van Devanter. I already like Ms. Van Devanter FAR more than Charles Dickens. Oodles more. Tons. Buckets. Loads.

- I have to make a confession. I have been watching "19 Kids and Counting". It is fascinating from an anthropological/sociological standpoint, a family standpoint, a media studies standpoint, a psychological standpoint, a housekeeping standpoint, a middle-American cultural standpoint, and a nosy-busybody-gawk-at-someone-else's-life standpoint. I find myself peering at each younger child and wondering which one will write an expose twenty years from now. Call me cynical. It won't be the first time.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Thinking of St. Patrick

In addition to having a plan for what green to wear today, I'm thinking of St. Patrick. I read a little about him last night, but my retention was low, so I don't have any profound truth to share. What I do find myself thinking about is suffering. All the saints have crazy stories of suffering and following Jesus at high cost. I weep to think how much I DON'T want to suffer. I told Jesus earlier (with a smile through the tears) that I'd like to see a list of the possible ways I might suffer in my life and be allowed to cross off the things I think would be "too much". For example, I might accept another labor and delivery, but ixnay the uterine cancer.

I was reading about Hope in The Virtue Driven Life just now and there was a story of a young man dying of AIDS who from his hospital bed saw the angels coming for him. What hope and confidence! I don't feel worthy to have the angels and saints come welcoming me into heaven. Now don't get all Protestant-view-of-justification on me. I know what it means that Jesus died for me. But I do see a bigger picture now, and I see the saints interceding for me. I even felt driven earlier to ask Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to pray for me. But I realize the need, too, to strive to align my life more with the saints' lives. And, most of all with the cross of Jesus. So, in that, I could sure use YOUR prayers, too!

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I'm off to don the jeans and the green t-shirt.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

And miles to read before I sleep

Do I sound at ALL like Robert Frost? I'm trying to...

I came home from Sacramento feeling quite elated. ("I" being "me minus my quads", and a little bit of my hip flexors.) To compound the elation, there were scads of books all over the house. Next year's homeschool books came in (joy!) along with a rather large shipment from Amazon. Kevin had some birthday money that he chose to spend on books and we used a little extra cash in the budget to purchase a few for me, too.

I know you're dying to hear the titles. Maybe I'm just dying to share.

(Keep in mind my previous post about all that I'm trying to zoom through right now reading-wise and you'll be able to picture the Everest-height pile of books on my nightstand. I can't read fast enough!)

Kevin's pile:
An Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine, by John Henry Cardinal Newman
By What Authority? - An Evangelical Discovers Catholic Tradition, by Mark Shea (who rocks!)
Our Lady of Guadalupe, by Carl Anderson and Msgr. Eduardo Chavez
Philosophy 101 by Socrates (An Introduction to Philosophy Via Plato's Apology), by Peter Kreeft
Be a Man! by Fr. Larry Richards
Answering the New Atheism, by Scott Hahn and Benjamin Wiker

And my pile, which is interspersed with one book to read the kids and two that Kevin and I are going read together-ish:
The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo (thanks, Suzie! I'll let you know how it goes for us)
Three Cups of Tea, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (a recommend from the Richardsons... much thanks!)
Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder (also a Richardson recommend)
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett (which Kevin heard something about and thought I'd like - set in Mississippi, 1962)
Life of Pi, by Yann Martel (I've wanted to read this for years, ever since Fr. David in Yucaipa mentioned it in one of his homilies and the plot intrigued me. You'd have to be a brick not to be intrigued by the plot.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sacramento Sunday

When I was a reporter for the Rebel Yell in college, the thing I liked most about the job was getting into places and meeting people that I otherwise wouldn't. I can say the same now, a million years later, about running.

Yesterday in Sacramento, the sun came up at 7:19, and by ten after eight, I was running across Tower Bridge on Capitol Avenue with the bright sun and the capitol building side by side in my view.

Right at the end of the bridge, there was a small crowd gathered for our group of runners and they cheered for me. A high point of the race, for sure.

At the 5K mark, I allowed myself a long glance at my GPS and was thrilled to see that I was 32 minutes in. WAY better than my slow, slow race in Prescott and right on track to beat my 7-mile practice run which took an hour and a half.

Topping every hill, (there were just a few, and they weren't as bad as in my neighborhood) I felt exhausted but counseled myself not to slow down or stop knowing I'd recover in a second. Once the recovery happened, I tried to speed up. It was the first time in a race that I coherently talked myself through some tough spots and kept up a little strategy.

Going into Old Town brought back memories of our Hanford days when we'd take the train up to Sacramento and visit the train museum with our two kids at the time. I ran by the museum with memories of those few visits and they kept me going - along with the nice little downhill right after the museum.

By mile 6, I was ready to stop. My right knee started to kill and I walked for the first time. Maybe ten steps, and then the thought of Mike waiting at the exchange zone got me jogging again. It was discouraging to look at the GPS and see my pace was over 12 minutes at that point. Then that glorious 7-mile marker appeared and next I saw Mike's face and he told me "An hour and twenty!" and high-fived me and took off. I stopped my watch, I shut down the i-Pod, which I don't have much memory of hearing, and walked around in a daze for just a minute before grabbing some water and pulling myself together to look for Layla and cheer for her finish.

Besides the thrill of running another race, and a new distance, the best part of this weekend was seeing old friends and meeting some new. It was a tiny bit wild to hang out with so many InterVarsity folks, with my student and staff life now so far in the past, but still has the same feeling of familiarity and fast friendship that it always did for me. I'm glad Rob inspired this, thrilled that Mike asked me to run with him, and grateful to have had the chance to see a million friends I've known for decades, plus see some of the "new generation" of Inter Varsity staff in my old area and beyond. What a dream. I'm still floating a little. Sore quads, but still floating. When's the next race?

Love to: partner Mike, host Heather, host Mike, little Martin, in-utero "Toby", Larry, Nina, Daniel, Shawn, Nathan, Layla, support-crew Lauren, Noemi, Madeline, water-and-wastewater-engineer-neighbor-to-the-Haights Mike, his tall friend, his wife the "other" Heather who I didn't see this time, Fleet Feet, Gustavo my new life coach (seriously, and he only charged ten bucks), Becca (sp?) and her whole family and their cool portrait with the tree and their plates from Marshalls, her boyfriend who ran great and had an equally great smile but whose name I've forgotten, Rob, Amy, Lucy, Lily and that amazing chocolate cake, James, Tina, Adam, Todd and Daniel. I didn't make it to the goat farm, but for the record, I thought of it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

I can check a meat cleaver,

but no-go in my carry-on. I went to the TSA website to refresh my memory about what I can and can't bring in my suitcase. My main concerns being: deodorant, hairspray, and a flask. Oh, wait --- I'm going on this trip ALONE. I won't need the flask after all. Only if the kids were coming.

Side question: Why would anyone (other than a professional butcher en route to a convention in Germany) need to check a meat cleaver? It's a mystery to me.

I'm off to Sacramento tomorrow. I look forward to visiting my parallel partner and good friend Heather and her family. And I aspire to run 7.1 miles in a relay with Mike Nalley. In under 90 minutes, mark my words, okay? Other than visiting and running - I plan to get in some reading, journalling, prayer time, and general relaxation.

Now to go pack everything but a meat cleaver.

I'm becoming a therapist!

At least then when I analyze myself, it will be a professional opinion, not just an amateur.

I've been a basket case this week. More yelling than usual, a nervous stomach, some mild depression. What's up?

Part of it is leaving town for the weekend. I'm taking a jet plane to an exotic locale to run a relay with my former coworker. I like to leave the laundry done, the frig full, and the house somewhat clean before I go.

Part of it is realizing after two and a half years here that we're still in limbo. If this is an extended object lesson from God that nothing on earth is permanent - I GET IT!!! Can't I just have a teeny bit of permanence? I guess I have, just not on paper.

Part of it is going to the doc for the first time in a couple years. More than that. I haven't seen an OB/Gyn since maybe 2005? I've still had exams, since midwives run their tests through labs (not just cauldrons) but I haven't seen an M.D. She seems to be a fabulous doc. So fabulous that she detected something out of sorts uterus-wise. I plan to credit the birthing of two 11-pounders in a row unless the upcoming follow-up tests say different.

Part of it might be Charles Dickens' fault. This Little Dorrit might be the death of me. I will have lots of dreamy reading time on my weekend away, so I need to consider if it's Dickens I want to spend it with.

Anyway... it's time for me to get licensed. Then you can tell me your problems, too - and I can charge you!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Defined: a pungent red pepper, often pickled and eaten as an appetizer or added to meat stews, sauces, etc.

Restauranted: near my house, often frequented by me on my mom's day out; favorite is the chicken bowl with black beans, rice, and guac, and a beer

Purchased: for cheap at Trader Joe's in a nice little vat - "Garlic Chipotle Salsa"

Disliked: by Kevin, so he doesn't get into my private vat in the refrigerator

Monday, March 8, 2010

Books, again

Really, if I thought it was the least bit interesting, I'd write about books every day. Since it's not - but since today has been dreary anyway --- let's talk about reading.

I finished Born to Run. And in a new move, I passed it on to my father-in-law who likes non-fiction. I'm curious what response that book's quirkiness will bring from this man who is kind of a riddle to me. (Same guy, by the way, who ran my most recent 5K with me.)

Now reading The Virtue Driven Life, by Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R. for spiritual reasons, and Little Dorrit (by Dickens), for friendship reasons. Only friendship could make me pick up another book by Charles Dickens. I'm less than ten chapters in, and have discovered that if I'm in a focused state I can follow the characters. 859 pages plus footnotes and then an 8-hour PBS miniseries to follow if I so desire. Janelle, my buddy, you're lucky it's getting good. And I'm making NO commitment to the miniseries.

Ventured to the library with Joe today to pick up some reading on the Revolutionary War. I am WAY more excited to read this stuff than Joe is. I know next to nothing about that part of our history, other than the gist. Couldn't resist looking at the sale shelves, and picked up The Great Gatsby (which I've read but don't own) and Sarah Morgan, The Civil War Diary of A Southern Woman. Once I plow through Dickens, the Diary, and the Virtues, I have Home Before Morning sitting on my desk. It's a little recommend from my dad and it's "The True Story of an Army Nurse in Vietnam." Somehow I'm all swept up in war history, it appears. From the Revolution to the Civil War to Vietnam.

My reading personality took a hit when my friend #1 tried to read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and couldn't get into it. Both friend #1 and friend #2 rejected Pride and Prejudice after just a few chapters (but they still want to watch the movie). Friend #2 is reading and (thankfully) appreciating Roots, and plans to pass it to Friend #1 when she's done. Friend #2 is from Canada and doesn't "get" race issues in the U.S. at all. Roots has made her want to read something from the perspective of, say, a southern plantation owner --- to TRY to get how the heck they perceived/justified slavery. If Sarah Morgan, mentioned above, has a friend out there who kept a PRE-Civil War diary about life on a plantation from the perspective of the rich white owner, THAT'S the book I'm after.

Okay? Enough about books for now? What are you reading?

Friday, March 5, 2010

Pretty Trees and Drum Sets

Ah, life on a Friday morning.

The toilet seat cracked this morning. I'm happy to say it wasn't MY butt that did the damage, it was another family member who shall remain nameless.

As I write, my son and his piano teacher are filling our home with lovely music.

I'm straining to see if I can survive another minute without ordering next year's books for the kids' homeschool.

My mother-in-law comes today. Warrants a prayer with my husband in front of the fireplace before he left for work this morning. And she's only here for an hour and a half. Does this reveal some issues?

My biggest life question: Could God move us to South Carolina or overseas? Or will I live and die in Las Vegas? I wonder every day. Every DAY!!!

Tonight is Stations of the Cross. At OUR HOUSE! We're going to try it out. See, the church has it every Friday during Lent, and then they serve a meatless soup/pasta dinner. But for art, Cayna had to make ALL FOURTEEN STATIONS out of popsicle sticks! Needless to say, Cayna did not do them on her own. I think I developed arthritis cutting out the images of Jesus. Anyway, we have them hanging around the house so we thought we should do it once here. We'll see if any of our friends RSVP and then I have some meatless dinner to make!

The world's prettiest tree is in my backyard. In summer, it is full of shiny green leaves. In Fall, it has the most brilliant reds and browns and oranges. In winter, it gets naked and I have to look at my neighbor's house for a few months, which really isn't a bad thing. Unless they use the bathroom at night with the light on and don't close the blinds. In spring, now, it is covered with white blossoms. When viewed from our upstairs windows first thing in the morning, it is as if it has snowed, which is a very disconcerting picture for a desert resident in March. The world seems out of balance, though magical, for just a second. Then we realize it's not snow - but it is our beautiful tree.

Kevin had his birthday yesterday. Opened Wii "Band Hero", and tried out the guitar, drums, and karaoke. If you were wondering, he sang a song by No Doubt. Drummed to some Janet Jackson, and there were a few minutes of Culture Club at one point. What a world I live in. Happy birthday, Kevin!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

"Born by Breakfast"

The birth story of Bethanie Kerala.

Late on March 2nd, the contractions started. Typical. Both my previous labors began soon after bedtime. Once I knew they were for real, I called the midwife. I'd had the thought (expectation?) that this third baby would come so fast I'd have to deliver her myself. I'd even had Karen, my midwife, prep me for an unassisted birth. That remains the most brilliant piece of comedy in Bethanie's birth.

After midnight sometime, I sat in my pajamas watching "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and Karen sat nearby filling out paperwork. Kevin must have been snoozing in the recliner. And taking occasional photos, since I have a shot of me and my belly near the TV.

There was enough textbook progression that Karen predicted the baby would join us by breakfast.

Breakfast came and went. Again, there is a photo of me sitting (on a chux pad) in the recliner eating a bowl of cereal. At 6:00 a.m., I called our long-time friend Barbara, who now happened to also live in Yucaipa. She had earlier agreed to take care of Joe and Cayna while I was in labor. She came over sometime in the next couple hours and settled in like the rest of us.

I got a discount on my homebirth by (happily) agreeing to let some of Karen's students attend the birth. Three of them showed up, and someone went for Starbucks. By that time, I went upstairs to try to get some sleep since baby wasn't interested in the morning arrival.

Lunch came and went and it became a trial to avoid looking at the clock. After my attempt at a nap, I stayed upstairs. Labor was long and slow. As it turned out, Bethanie was turned around the wrong way, so I was having some pretty nasty back labor. Later, the midwife said she actually witnessed baby's head (and therefore body) "corkscrew" before she was born. She labored screwy-louie, but presented just fine.

Moments after her birth (and just before dinner - NOT breakfast!), Barbara brought Joe and Cayna in and they were so enthralled. It was a beautiful time, and I was beyond relieved to have that difficult labor over. Mind you, I am sparing the details of the complicated hour or two preceding the pushing. Fast forward to the weighing of my new baby girl. Eleven pounds, three ounces!

Barbara went out to get Subway sandwiches for everyone for dinner. I sipped grape juice and got a couple shots in the leg to slow some extra bleeding.

And that was five years ago today.

Bethanie is named after the town of Bethany in scripture. Much prettier than, say, Galatia. And in keeping with her sister who is named after Cana in Galilee. I like that Bethany is the town where Jesus' good friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived. And where he was anointed. We pray Bethanie will be a good friend of Jesus herself. And that she will worship him extravagantly.

Kerala is one of the states in India where I spent time during my Global Projects trip in 1995. It was beautiful. And I guess you could say it was where I became assured of my calling to go into student ministry. May God lead Bethanie to places where she can hear his voice quite clearly.

I'm honored to be Bethanie's mom. She is a ray of sunshine, has an adorable laugh, and ready hugs. Happy birthday to my Bethanie!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

"Smell like a Man, Man."

Q: What is your experience with Old Spice?

A: Well, my high-school boyfriend, Jay, was an avid wearer. And I thought he smelled wonderful. I didn't credit the Old Spice, of course, I thought it was his natural aroma. (How sad and clueless a smitten high school girl can be.) My evidence was that my Uncle Don used the same brand and he certainly didn't smell good like Jay. Years later, my husband-to-be, Kevin, informed me never to buy Old Spice because his first step-dad wore it and he didn't have nice feelings for his first step-dad. Honestly, it's a good thing: I'm sure it wouldn't have been beneficial to conjure up the old boyfriend scent on the new husband.

Q: So why are we bringing this up now?

A: Old Spice has the funniest commercials in the history of the universe. You can view any of them on their website here. Prepare to laugh out loud and a LOT. Particularly the two labeled NEW on the site. We saw both of them on TV last night and I thought I was going to convulse and fall off the couch.

If you simply refuse to follow this link for the mirth of your day, at least relish this funny quote: "We're not saying this body wash will make your man smell into a romantic millionaire jet fighter pilot, but we are insinuating it."

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sweet Days

Today begins a wild week of sugar.

Tomorrow I am baking muffins for a Cub Scout meeting.

The next day, it's cupcakes for gymnastics class.

After that, Bethanie's chocolate "animal" cake. (Her vision is a cake covered with little plastic animals. I can do that!)

Kevin wants no cake for his birthday, but Snickers, Mike & Ike's, and other candy he hasn't thought of yet. One year he wanted peanut M&Ms, so I filled a bowl and stuck a candle in the middle. I think a candle will hold quite nicely in a Snickers bar.

But all this to say I have a good, solid week of pure sugar ahead.

Pray for my self-control!


Saturday was my monthly Mom's Day Off. Really, I'm going to have to rent a furnished apartment high above the city so I can go there and relax in the quiet and not be distracted by phones, laundry, or SHOPPING. My goal for MDO is not just to catch up on all the errands I can't do with kids, but lately I'm coming home at the end of my time away with WAY too many shopping bags.

Bag #1 - Running shoes. And, despite my decision to stay with Asics, I ended up buying Mizunos. I love them.

Bag #2 - Birthday goods for Bethanie, who is about to turn 5. Ready or not.

Bag #3 - New running pants from Kohl's. I wore out my favorite 5 year-old running pants and am tired of looking like a giant dork in my other too-short pants. I like the new pair as much as my new Mizunos.

Bag #4 - Pet Smart. Humongous bag of cage filler for the mice. Small supply of food and water treatment for "Blue's Clues", our new fish. Joe's new fish. In memoriam - "Measles" died last week. Joe's mouse. So I suppose it's good he has "Blue's Clues" to take the edge off the grief. Of course, he inherited Blue's Clues because his good friend Gunner from three doors down just moved to South Dakota, so I'm not sure what's going to take the edge off of THAT grief. A new pet bird? A ferret? What? How do you solve these childhood traumas?

Bags #5-7 - Groceries from Trader Joe's. Have you been made aware of how delicious their organic sour cream is? Seriously, it's like heaven. Imagine me in my comfy new shoes and cozy pants slurping sour cream off a spoon in my quiet high-rise apartment that I use once a month.

Anyone wanna go in on that apartment with me?