Monday, September 29, 2008

golden's sunny self, and discussion on baby poop

a little progress note on the newest mcdonnell! i have written about sparrow so much, and this IS supposed to be primarily a family journal, so i can't neglect to write about the cutenesses of golden as well.

she is such a precious child of God. she is clever and charming. she has gotten really smiley lately and likes to gurgle and coo gently. she smiled for the first time at 3 weeks! she is now noticing when someone comes into the room, and has started to "track" people with her eyes. Golden has slept til 5 or 6 am several times already! yessssss. it depends on how soon she last nursed or pooped before bedtime. honestly i think her bowel movements more often wake her up than does hunger.

i have been attempting to infant potty-train, which has been really interesting: I try to be in tune with her body language enough to notice when she is pooping. then i take her diaper off quickly and set her over a little pot (old yogurt container) and i say her trigger word. "doo doo!" reminiscent of a dog, i know, but this is the trigger word used by the pearls in the book that 1st introduced me to the concept of infant potty training, and well, i was too lazy to make up my own. so doo doo it is. except sparrow seems to find this word highly amusing, and now she runs around gleefully exclaiming "doo doo! doo doo!" which is obviously going to render the trigger ineffective! i have been trying to explain to her that that is mommy's word and that she should call it poopy. now she says when golden is doing her thing, "DOO DOO!... poopy! i said poopy!" hhhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaaaaahahaha. so accommodating.

the idea of the trigger word is that eventually Golden will associate it so much with pooping that i'll be able to set her on the pot and say it, and then she will go, not the other way around. usually she takes quite awhile to push it all out, with long breaks in between; which is why it's so challenging. (well, one of the reasons.) she tends to pee right after she is done pooping, and i have a separate trigger for peeing: "psssssssssssssss." but the pooping is the main issue.

i got a few more ideas for helping her along yesterday while reading ina may's guide to childbirth. she describes a technique for helping a woman in labor to relax her leg muscles, which in turn relaxes her sphincters. you shake or roll the muscles of her thighs and butt. germans call this "shaking the apples." i love germans. anyways, so i thought, what if it helps to relax the cervix-sphincter, it probably helps relax the anal one also! i have started grunting along with her too, because for laboring women it helps to get down and make the noises with them. bingo. now i just treat golden in her b.m. like a woman in labor and it has been much funner (and effective?) ever since.

another idea i got for saving money on diapers was to use cloth diapers and hand wash them. this was made possible by thomas' brother sending down all their daughter's recently outgrown all-in-ones. i never would have been able to afford the initial cost of buying the diapers, so i am really excited that i got some free ones. however, i am beginning to doubt that i will actually be able to accomplish this hand washing. it is already more than i can handle to spray and wash the stained clothes before it's too late. what am i thinking!?! i can't keep the bedroom picked up, the kitchen swept, or the living room vacuumed, yet i am going to sit and scrub diapers every night during my free time? ...well, i am ambitious, i guess, and eager to do my part to help save money. my excuse for not having started doing this yet is that i will need a fairly large tub where i can soak the diapers in vinegar til they are ready to be dried (so they don't get mildewy). i could do a dryer load every 3 days or so and still save a bunch of money. so we haven't gotten me my tub yet. waiting to pay the major october bills first. gotta keep these priorities straight, you know. rent before pooping gadgets.

Friday, September 26, 2008

feelings of evening

a rambling of some things i was feeling when we were putting the girls to bed/ praying. is it just a temp attack, or am i becoming somehow clinically depressed?

i am angry, irritated, or on edge most of the time. i hate the person that i am becoming. i hate that i snap and yell at sparrow so much instead of giving her sparkle and joy and song. i feel helpless in my circumstances. i feel lusterless. getting uglier. i hate that i slouch all the time, that i can't speak german. that we can't even go visit germany. i hate that i wasted away my whole interitance on everyday expenses. i hate that i haven't become a professional in anything, but am an amateur in many things. it is useless. i am afraid of profession. i feel fated and unsupported. frowny. cynical. unwilling to support my husband in his dreams. my own opportunity to work right now is next to nil. i know my job as a mother is immensely important, yet i feel like i am failing at even that. the one thing i have ample opportunity to do. so many other things i'd like to do but am crippled because of a lack of money or time. it's just not how i ever pictured my life. i feel like becoming a missionary, but only because it would give some meaning and honor to our poverty. i feel scatterbrained. unable to complete basic tasks, like vaccuuming. all day i spend trying to just barely keep the house in a semblance of livability, but while i wash dishes, sparrow is ripping up and strewing paper everywhere (for example). then i spend the next 10 mins. cleaning that up but get interrupted cause she has to go poo and needs me to sit there with her for 15 minutes while it comes out, then it takes me 5 to 10 mins. to finally get her to put her panties back on, then while i am cleaning her potty she dumps out her toys and comes into the bedroom shaking a loud rattle which makes the baby wake up and now it is noon and i haven't even showered yet. i get so frustrated. i am graceless. i feel like i spend my whole day trying to minimize fallout from hurricane sparrow and never have time to really clean anything thoroughly. anal. never able to think and do a task at the same time. lazy. unresearched. opinionated but unexcited. apprehensive of the future. self-cursed. pessimistic. losing hope for change. a permanent drain on society. a constant burden to my friends. charity case. i'd like to be the one who has money to give. the one extending blessing to others. but all i do is complain (even now) and batter friends with my issues and opinions. i feel stuck. wishing to find the reason but unable to sort through the chaos. unable to keep a schedule. unable to formulate goals. indecisive. i feel no clarity in my mind or life yet don't know what i've done to cause this.

these little people are gonna grow up to be my strong daughters. let me be a person of substance, Lord. make me like steel, nay, like gold. pliable, beautiful.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


sparrow hit a major milestone today in her artistic development: the mandala! let me explain.

in the book young at art, the author, susan striker, outlines the artistic development of children in the stages through which they all progress as little creative beings. first they scribble. the opportunity to scribble--and to scribble a lot from a young age--is super important to a child's mental development. it is a stepping stone to their ability to read and write. there are several different kinds of scribbles, and children will naturally progress through all the types. (there are visual examples of these in the book.) eventually, around the age of three, a child will begin to make circle shapes, connecting one end of a line to the other. then follows the mandala. a mandala is technically two or more shapes with a common center. in the case of a child's mandala, however, it is a bit more loosely defined. it can be a circle with lines intersecting or lines sticking out of it (like a "sun"). but it can also take a "ladder" shape. at any rate, it is quite amazing because the mandala is the precursor to the human figure. the circle/outer shape will soon be made into the common head/body and features drawn within, limbs without. it is not til later that a child will make separate shapes for the head and body. the incredible and interesting thing is that all children progress this way and make these shapes--culminating in the human form--on their own, without being taught or shown.

it is thus important to a child's artistic development that she not only be given opportunity, but also be left alone to explore and progress through these stages at her own pace. it can be crippling to the creativity of the young artist to have adults draw cute pictures for her or show her "how" to draw, or to even suggest that anything the child creates looks "like" something in the real world. the early work of a young artist is more about the kinetic exercise of it all rather than the visual outcome. to encourage a toddler to create things that somehow fit into the parent's concept of artistic "product" can be detrimental to the freedom of their own learning process, expression, and emotional release. children want to please their parents more than anything, and when they end up doing art that is tailored to please mom or dad, it is a sad loss. this is why it is key to hold off on even making value judgments such as "i like that!" it is ok to encourage the child by telling them they are a good artist, but in general, the child will know they are being encouraged if the parent simply provides them with plenty of opportunity for creating, and engages them with descriptions that help them learn about what they are doing: "that is a thick, black line," "i see you made a round line and a straight line," etc.

see exhibit A for the gorgeous mandala that sparrow made today. to break all the rules, i will describe it as looking like a little amoeba or roly-poly bug. it is an oval-shape with a scribble inside of it as well as several short lines sticking out. on the same page she also made another one that is more like a big outline with a smaller shape enclosed within it. they are absolutely incredible; i snatched the paper away as soon as she was done with it and placed it on my desk where it could not be ruined. every time i walked by my desk today i simply got a bursting glow from the accomplishment of my offspring.
From artkidsblog

exhibit A

the first time i noticed that sparrow was even connecting her lines was at the beginning of this month when she produced several gorgeous examples one day of bold pink and purple circles. i saved those, too. susan striker managed to save every single drawing her son ever produced, which was a wonderful affirmation for him, i'm sure. i am not quite so realistically able to do the same, as we live in an apartment, not a house, and don't have space for a whole extra trunk for each kid's artwork at the moment. i save what i can. the highlights. and try not to ever let sparrow see me throwing anything away. i think it is more important that she be allowed the experience and that she has me engaging her about her art in a positive way. too bad she has already figured out by some outside influence that people draw "things." she asks me most every day--to my chagrin--if i can draw her something or other; a bird, a cat, a snail... but i tell her that she should draw, and sometimes i scribble with her. i hope that the sunday school coloring-book-style art is not ruining her too much either. i have sighed much about her sunday school art. it is the antithesis of everything that should be given to a toddler artistically. seriously! christians may eventually get wise to the fact that giving 2-yr-olds cute drawings of bartimaeus to scribble on has nothing--nothing! to do with scripture or helping embed a love for the Word in their hearts. it is kitschy distraction, really. in the meantime, well-meaning parents must appreciate the benefits of sunday school while undoing the creative damage as much as possible from home! but i digress. sparrow has come to her mandala despite it all. and i could not be more proud.

From artkidsblog

exhibit B--what sparrow was doing just before the appearance of the mandala

Thursday, September 11, 2008

what defines me

on those grey
mellow sky
california mornings
drifting through screens
into my opened life:
me, a baby, and a cup of coffee.
it's a picture
black and white
that will stand with me
til i am grey
and drafty

Monday, September 8, 2008


my mind has been ablaze these last few days with thoughts and questions about homeopathy. it is amazing! but is it ok? is it legit? and most weighing on my mind: is it kosher for a Christian to participate in?

i have been reading a great book called "raising a vaccine free child" by wendy lydall. in it, i have encountered a comprehensive explanation of homeopathy and its origins, the first i have ever read. (previously my reading about homeopathy was limited to a phrase or two out of a brochure from a health food store.) i am intrigued, amazed, and slightly disturbed.

evidently, the principle behind homeopathy is "like cures like." (from greek homoios-same or like, and pathos-suffering) a toxic substance is taken and diluted in water which is shaken. then part of this shaken water is diluted in more water and shaken again. this is repeated many times until the toxic substance is so diluted that it is extremely minimal in the water. then the substance is put into pill form, usually, to treat any symptom similar to the toxic reaction the original substance would have created if ingested. (quinine elicits symptoms similar to malaria, therefore the homeopathic remedy derived from quinine is usually the one used to treat malaria patients.) the idea is that the energy of the substance is captured in the shaking, and that it exerts its influence on the energy of the human body, harmonizing to eliminate the symptoms. it can be likened to the phenomenon that when one string of a guitar is plucked, an adjacent guitar's same string would also vibrate while the other strings remained still.

understandably, it is sworn off by many christians on account of this "energy" principle, as new-agers and occultists are usually the main types that are on about "energy." but there has to be more than just wording similarity, in my opinion, to ascertain a real connection. internet and radio are also based on "waves" and vibrations of sorts, and that is not considered occultic. the other issue is that homeopathy is not currently explainable by modern science, as "the electromagnetic field cannot be seen under a microscope" (wendy lydall). it doesn't fit into the paradigm. (to read a great book about how science is slow to change due to bureaucracy, read "the structure of scientific revolutions" by thomas kuhn. it is an enormously influential work. hour modern usage of the 'paradigm' idea comes from this text.)

the crazy thing about homeopathy is that it works. much better than "conventional medicine," sometimes. it can cure the craziest things. tuberculosis. malaria. tetanus. food poisoning. cholera. forms of cancer. and it works on animals as well as on humans, so it has nothing to do with belief. in recent trials, homeopathy was shown to be 2.75 times as effective as a placebo, whereas widespread antidepressant drugs were only 1.3 times as effective. another crazy thing is that homeopathy must be administered by symptom, not by disease, so the treatment for any given illness might not be the same for one individual as it would be for another. a homeopath would have to personally assess each person's symptoms before deciding which remedy is best. and yet another crazy feature is how delicate the "energy" field is: if your homeopathic medicine or a person being treated by such gets near any strong smells (such as peppermint or tea tree oil), it is inactivated. so when i was taking my arnica after giving birth, apparently it was being deactivated every time i brushed with my minty, tea tree oily toothpaste! who knew? at any rate, i was so intrigued about all this that i started thinking i would like to study it in-depth, apprentice with someone, do an official education in this stuff!

so i was thinking that i had better research homeopathy and its origins a little more before i launched full-on into this discipline. i discovered that the founder, samuel hahneman, was not occultically connected at all, and he just happened to discover the method of homeopathy. no seances, no spells, no prayers to obscure deities to bless his mission of healing the world through evil energy. some of the websites i looked at were accusing the man of "not being a christian." hahaha, anyways, if we were to reject anything that originated from anyone who was not a christian, we would be an odd folk indeed! the bible says that god rains on the just and the unjust, and it is clear to me that he gifts people, all his people, whether they acknowledge that their gifts are from him or not. also, "all truth is god's truth." i fully believe that when a good thing about god's world is discovered, the thinking christian embraces it and thanks god for how amazing he is!

another issue discrediting the christian naysayers is the issue of allopathic, or modern western medicine. what are ITS origins? when one goes back to the greek history, it has some crazy hokey roots, i'm telling you. have you ever read the hippocratic oath? it's the one doctors get to take upon graduation (though i believe it's no longer mandatory.) they swear by Apollo, Asclepius, Hygieia, and Panacea and all the gods. that is something directly from the beginnings of modern medicine that remains. if a christian wants to reject homeopathy on grounds of possible demonic connections, the same must be done to modern medicine. also, note the crazy and barbaric things that have been done in the history of modern medicine: bloodletting, leeches, removal of tonsils, vaccination, etc. hokey? look in your own back yard!

here is just one example of a fundamentalist arguing without thinking:

Once Christians start worrying about food combinations and energy levels, one wonders where our faith has gone in the God who heals us.

Having followed Holistic healing principles for two years Alice found it was becoming a religion in itself; feeling guilty when she ate red meat or dairy products or even when giving the kids medicine.

Her focus became on herself believing that she could heal herself.

She didn't feel she could ask God for healing as it was her own fault for being sick.

You the reader might be saying, "But I have high blood pressure and Homeopathy is the only thing that helps!"

In the light of what you have read, and as New Age thought becomes prevalent in medicine, you will have to choose between supporting occultic based practices and following the word of God.

Jesus promised an abundant life; a wholeness, peace, joy and hope that transcends health and wealth and offers a fullness of life that rests on the grace and mercy of the Creator.


so basically we shouldn't think about trying to eat healthy or use knowledge to make smart choices about our vessels? man, i am thinking if God gave you a brain to learn and research the effects of red meat, then comprehend that it is bad for you, you SHOULD feel guilty for eating it, YOU KNOW BETTER! this guy's line of thinking is completely backward. by that logic, if someone were to break in to his house, he should not call the police because it means he is trusting in man rather than God. if his wife has a complex about being able to ask God for healing, that is another problem, it doesn't stem from becoming smarter about how to take care of yourself and your family. it comes from a misunderstanding of God's character and how much he loves us and forgives us and wants to heal us, even when we make bad choices. and note that she is quick to want to give her kids "traditional" medicine but decides to reject homeopathy. no sense! yes, jesus promised joy and hope that transcends health and wealth, but does this mean we suppress intelligence about managing the body or the money God gives us? (i find interesting his use of the phrase "health and wealth" anyways--the people who advocate the health and wealth gospel are completely on the other end of the spectrum as those who would seek to improve their health intelligently. they think God will basically give them whatever they want, instead of acknowledging that we have a huge part in stewarding ourselves.)

in conclusion, i am convinced that homeopathy is a gift from the Lord. He has always been ahead of the times regardless of the scientific paradigms. example: in the Bible the jews knew not to circumcise til the 8th day, it was part of their God-given tradition. now we find out scientifically that a baby's clotting factors take about a week to kick in, til they can develop vitamin k in their bodies! so the fact that it doesn't fit into western medicine doesn't bother me. and judging from the things i have read, it doesn't check out as a spiritual crock conceived by satan to lead us astray.


can you really vote for a guy who refers to a baby as a punishment comparable to an std?

quote obama: "Look, I got two daughters — 9 years old and 6 years old, I am going to teach them first about values and morals, but if they make a mistake, I don't want them punished with a baby. I don't want them punished with an STD at age 16, so it doesn't make sense to not give them information."

i don't know WHAT parent could refer to a child as a punishment. i mean, i'm no big fan of mccain, but this is just SO sad. life is a gift, whether it was planned or not. besides, having a baby that you put yourself in a position to conceive is a matter of taking responsibility for your actions. no, the baby is not the punishment. if obama's daughters don't wanna be "punished" with a baby, let them be punished with the dang PREGNANCY and then put the baby up for adoption.

can you imagine if we raised our kids that way? "well, sparrow, i don't think it's a good idea to play with knives, but just in case you DO, here's a band-aid in advance." no! i have to teach her more responsibly than that and it IS possible. i can leave a sharp knife on the counter these days and KNOW that she will not touch it because i have taught her to know better.

anyways, this was not intended to be a parenting lesson. i am just baffled that he could say something like that. but i guess this is the same guy that stood up in the senate twice, vehemently speaking against the passing of the live birth protection act. basically, now, if an abortion fails and the baby is born alive despite the doctor's best efforts, they LEAVE the baby out to die, not giving it ANYTHING until it finally expires and then they take it to the morgue. the live birth protection act was an effort to try to create safety for babies born alive. obama is the only senator that actually stood up and spoke to condemn the efforts of this act. i know politics is a messy business, and i can understand why some politicians would vote for certain things just to stay alive in their job. but getting up to actually speak on something is a totally different level. what would his six and nine year-old daughters think of him if they knew he was orating in his day job to keep babies dying slow, helpless deaths on the clinic table? i wonder if he could even watch one of these die like that. does he know what he's saying?

so, ok, if life doesn't begin at conception, but rather at birth, then wouldn't you call it birth if a baby comes out alive? i guess to them what makes it life is the mother's will: if she wants the baby or not. but by this line of thinking, it won't be long before it will be legal to kill our babies days after they are born, should we decide we don't want them.

this is all screwed up. a government employed social worker comes to barbie's house to make sure her kids don't have bruises. where are the government social workers trying to make sure that these slowly dying babies don't have any "bruises?" SICK discrepancy.

enlighten me as to why he is votable, i am disgusted.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

simplicity by necessity

now that i have quit my job working for rod (the most interesting boss, no doubt, i will ever lay claim to), my life is once again a domestic bliss punctuated by social events. and wine. "she does enjoy a sherry if you know what i mean." no, no, i really only use sherry to cook, but i watched "miss pettigrew lives for a day" last night, and incorporating movie quotes into my life was always one of my greatest strengths. does anyone remember this? i think it got so out of hand at one point that 50% of everything i said to anyone was straight movie quotes. i really SO rarely watch movies anymore, reason being: parenthood. but it's more complex than having less time on my hands to entertain myself. i suppose that compared to the intense, gritty joy of parenthood, most movies are basically crap and not worth watching. ESPECIALLY since you are spending two hours and some amount of money. i mean, we used to watch movies every single night in college, and go to the at least once a week! (where i got the money for this sinful extravagance i can't tell you.)

so what are the social events that punctuate my life? baby showers. wedding showers. weddings. house warming parties. birthdays. in little golden's four weeks of life she has been to many such events already, when babies should technically stay at home for six weeks to build up their fragile immune systems. oh well. most of these things could really not be missed. my life sounds so frivolous when described this way, but what's key about social events is relationships. i LOVE my friends. but the older i get, the more i realize what an inconsiderate person i am. and i always come away from said events analyzing conversations i had, usually feeling awkward or remorseful about something that i said or didn't say to someone.

i really, really hate how i tend to especially judge people that have more money than me, that spend money on their hair or their babies or nice things for their lovely, private homes. i always think that these things are so trivial, that there are kids in africa that would kill to even have three meals a day, and here people are, spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on one silly oriental rug or a flashy engagement ring or a designer wedding gown or a snazzy stroller when a thrift store stroller would do just as well. but then i inevitably re-realize that the the only reason i am more "humble" than they is that God has forced humility on me by circumstance. not because i choose to spend my extra on starving children in the third world as opposed to curtains for my living room. i know i WOULD spend a ton of money, if i could, on west elm home decor, clothes from, and a dang oriental rug, i suppose. but i can't. i've been wearing the same green gauchos and tank top every day since god was a boy and i suppose i will continue to wear them daily until someone else has pity on me and sends me on a shopping trip.

(this has happened to me at least twice. the most recent one was when rod looked over his occhiali designer glasses at me and scanned my frumpy blue sweater and greasy hair. then he slowly and deliberately got his wallet out of his pocket, got a credit card out of his wallet, and tossed it across the desk. "i want you to go out," he said, "and buy yourself...200 dollars worth of clothes. NOT food, not gas, not baby gear. clothes. you can give me back my credit card on friday." hm. boy did i have fun with that one.)

but anyways, part of me just really wants to chuck it all and move to mexico, ESPECIALLY if we ever end up having more than what we live on now. so that i would be kept in perspective about what it means to truly lack, and hopefully be able to make conservative choices in what i buy for myself, my home, or my kids. i have yet to see in santa barbara someone who lives far below their means so that they can donate the rest to the cause of the afflicted.

(next day)
yes, God has definitely chosen this simplicity for me. i thought of some more stuff i would spend money on if i weren't a financially struggling mother of two: i am probably one of those kinds of people who would have her eyeliner tattooed on! i have a hunch. but we'll never know for sure...unless i end up rich, of course. but by then i hope i'll know better than to be so vain. wait, is it vain or is it practical? my dad always said time is money, too, so adding up all the time i have spent over the years putting on eyeliner (ESPECIALLY attempting to perfect the art of liquid eyeliner!)... it could be a good investment! for the record, i now only wear eyeliner on special occasions. but here's a funny story: when i was in high school and first experimenting with makeup, i heard through the grapevine that my friend's mother had said at one point: "oh, here comes doris with her ten pounds of eyeliner!" hahahaha. not so now.

so it is for me simplicity by necessity. i am many things inside. i am just as much a city lady as i am a country lass. i am a fashion vixen and a fashion shunner. i am a martini girl and a granola girl. part of me wants to acquire, to live in a nice home, to travel around the country and the world, see it all and have it all. and part of me is a minimalist and a homebody, recognizing the ultimate importance of quiet time with family, and the frivolity of thinking anything truly enlightening can be found in the entertainment of globe trotting. "there is nothing new under the sun." nicely spoken by the wisest man that ever lived.

but i am sure, apart from the purely materialistic aspects of it, my other "selves" will get their outlet in heaven: my desire for a home, the draw to experience other cultures, etc. for now, i have one body and one life, and twenty seven years of it have already been spent. the past is a road that is deeply etched, not a fluid river, like the future. there was one way that my childhood happened, and it is past. one college education. done. one marriage. one definitive step into parenthood. it could have been so many different ways. but here i am with my humble life and i really don't think it's been a bad one! no matter what you live, humanity always clings to life. hope springs eternal, even for those that DO have horrible lives and no God. they usually find some hope in the fluidity of the future, to make them want to live on. this is one clear aspect of being made in the image of God. he, too, values life. even when the resemblance is only seen in our love for our own life.

but i am not only someone that has been. the ever passing present is also making me into someone more concrete, perhaps chiseling away at my "other selves" as i get used to what this life has been for me for so long: simple. i find myself making decisions now that i would not have made before. i got a used double stroller for my baby shower, for example. it is functional, but it is worn. i have gotten offers from people to buy me a new stroller or "anything i want" for the baby. but i have made the decision to stick with the old stroller. because i need to know that it is ok to stop competing, that useful things, and things i am immensely thankful for, can be old and sub-prime. IT'S O.K. i do NOT need the new, spiffy stroller. it is good for me, and it is good for my kids, to walk around in santa barbara amongst all the hot rich yoga-pant moms with their nimbus 2000's, so to speak, with our old, functional, loved, humble stuff. and our heads still held high with a smile. goodbye to my martini self, my bigcitynewyorkstilettoheelprofessionalwhitesuitedgroomed self. i can feel you fading more and more.

but will she make a comeback when i am older and my kids have left the nest??--i fear i may still turn into an old, lipsticked cougar!