Saturday, June 27, 2009

ina may

Ina May Gaskin, the most influential American midwife of the past 50 years, and author of "Guide to Childbirth" and "Spiritual Midwifery" visited our little corner of the world today, and I got to witness it!

Her workshop took place at the Goleta Valley Community Center. I was only 1 minute late and hustled to find a seat, say hi to some friends, and grab a decaf before turning my attention to the front, where the object of my great admiration was, in all her wisdom and beauty. and fame! i can't deny i was a little star struck.

The lecture, over 4 hours long, seemed more like 1 1/2, and she told so many great anecdotes while covering amazing ground on multiple topics. I took copious volumes of notes. Blurbs:

-Ina May is a self-taught midwife! she learned by doing, learned by watching, & a few people informally giving her workshops here and there. the first few births she assisted took place on busses during the "caravan" she & her husband were a part of in the '70s.

-Did you know that the US maternal death rate (from childbirth complications) could be as much as 3 times higher than the reported numbers?

-"Pit to distress" is the unwritten policy in many hospitals in this country. (They will rev up the pitocin until the baby starts to go into distress, then back it off a little. baby now in distress, needs to come out soon, c-section ensues, hospital gets more money...)

- The WHO recommends that c-section rates stay below 15%. the US c-section rate is 30%. in 1965 it was 4.5%. Have women's bodies REALLY changed THAT much in 44 years?

-Maternal morbidity rate goes up 4x with a c-section compared to a vaginal birth.

-Ina May uses bodily function jokes to encourage mothers to laugh during labor. laughing produces oxytocin and relaxes the sphincter! (she uses a hilarious german poop book as a tool sometimes. this is the video version.)

-Prolonged labor usually happens when the woman is not allowed to eat/drink, when she is kept at the hospital instead of being allowed to labor at home.

-Prolonged labor is frequently due to psychological reasons/ hangups. (in one instance a lady was stuck at 7cm for 2 days before i.m. discovered that what was bothering her was a lack of commitment from her husband! they repeated their vows then and there in a more "acceptable" way, & baby born an hour and a half later. another lady was stuck at 7 for 12 hours & it was found out she had always been afraid of dying in labor but once it was vocalized, she progressed.) so: slow labor? try a DTR or a heart-to-heart!

-the "classic" upside-down beetle position of a woman giving birth in a hospital began because one of the old kings of france decided he wanted to see his mistress give birth, and decreed that she should lie that way because it was most convenient for him to see like that! and the position is still favored by male OBs (and insensitive women OBs) who prefer a convenient view rather than the employment of gravity and common sense.

-i.m. has a theory that the no eating/drinking rule in hospitals for labor came about cause the staff can't be bothered to clean up the potential vomit. (they SAY it's because in case you have a c-section and need general anesthesia, you can get aspiration pneumonia if you have food in your tummy and happen to vomit. there is NO recorded instance of this actually happening during a c-section, and--hello!! could someone not be standing by to just WATCH and see if she vomits, then turn her head, suction, etc.?) these things are NOT about what's best for the woman, obviously.

-Vomiting is actually good in labor. (to a point!) it makes you dilate.

-Sphincter law! Ina May has so much good common sense. sphincter law is about comparing the cervix to other sphincters in the body, studying what makes them tick, and applying the knowledge to help a smooth dilation and easier labor. (they are involuntary muscles, they are shy, they don't obey orders, they respond well to praise, they open better when the jaw is relaxed, open better with a laugh or a smile...)

-thankfulness increases oxytocin! i was happy that i.m. admitted that a thankful prayer could help a labor progress. and it's a true Biblical principle, too: be thankful, and the joy will come. not the other way around. you can see, i learned and learned. drank it in. i was happy i remembered to take my camera, too.

after the workshop, there was a most amazingly delicious vegetarian, organic lunch catered by kim schiffer/fresh food catering (?) i can't find a website, but if you ever get a chance to eat their food, DO it. BEST pita bread ever. and i don't even like pita bread.

thankfulness still following me for the whole gorgeous uniqueness of this experience.

Friday, June 26, 2009


on the 23rd of june she stood for a few seconds without holding on!

around the same time she started stacking blocks and not just pushing them over!

on the 25th of june she was putting a ball into the dump truck and rolling it back and forth. she was also playing with the "stacking" wooden light house that belonged to my brother when he was little. she tried to stack a cardboard block onto it. heeeheee!

july 6th
golden responds by blowing kisses if she hears "janny" or "i love you!" thanks to our downstairs neighbor!

wow. now it is the middle of september and she is doing sooooooo much!

she began to really walk on 9-9-09. it was our first day of mops for the fall semester, and they had stuck her in the classroom with all these big toddlers! i am pretty sure she was the only one there who couldn't walk, (well she could, as we shall see, but being able to and doing it are two different things...) and there were a ton of kids in there! well i was a bit worried about her getting bowled over, but sure enough, it was the boost she needed to encourage her to do this, cause she began walking later that afternoon! woohoo! yes, she had taken one step or so a few times before this. i think the first time was on the 17th of august.

golden's also been teething like a monster! well, a sweet monster, but it is profuse teething. for awhile she was waking up three and four times a night again! she has four molars and all 8 front teeth and i believe she is now working on canines. i think sparrow had all her teeth at 18 months too.

she is doing the funniest little thing right now, because she learned "nase," which is nose. i mean, she knows to point to it, not that she can say it. but it is so great, because not only does she point to it, she sticks her finger in her nostril and starts twisting! hahaha, i love it! she generously picked both my nostrils for me in this way the other day while she was nursing. so helpful!

golden loves to look at board books, and i give her a book in her crib every night so she can look at it in the morning if she gets up before everyone else. poor thing has not gotten nearly the literary attention that sparrow has, but at least she enjoys doing this solo. every time i do read her a book, i have to translate it into german anyways. and sparrow, i have to say, is a total literarily-trained phenomenon. if i am reading her stories or even novels like the laura ingalls kind, she can sit still and pay attention for ages! but if we are trying to do family devotions, or if i am trying to get her to focus on eating or picking up toys, she won't! i have been reading to her daily since she was a baby, but i haven't been trying to train her in any of those other things until recently. amazing.

for a few days, golden's favorite thing to say (esp. looking at books), was "oh, da!" soooo cute. i got it on video. now she does more varied sounds.

today she tried to show me the sign for "giraffe," which i make by putting my hand on my throat and stretching it and turning my head side to side. she has the right idea! but she grabs her own face instead of her throat, and waggles it side to side.

she can say several words: "die sterne" (the stars) is a pretty clear one that she attempts daily. she loves the hanging glitter stars above sparrow's bed and points them out to me pretty much every time we are nursing in the chair throughout the day. she also knows the signs for a lot of the animals on her noah's ark mobile: zebra, lion, squirrel, crocodile, bird, etc. and she can do cat, dog, frog, horse, monkey, duck, mouse (squeaking) and bunny (sort of.) you put up two fingers like bunny ears. she usually manages one to three fingers and bends and straightens them dutifully. love it! oh yes, she can also say "hase," which means bunny in german. she also does the funniest thing for donkey: she nods her head up and down vigorously. apparently i nod my head up and down when i say "hee haw." dog is definitely her favorite animal right now. she calls almost everything "de" and says "wuff" and gets all excited. she did this with a wooden elephant the other day and kept on insisting it was a dog, even when i was doing the elephant sign repeatedly!

today (sept. 15th) she also did the sign for "tree." she was so in awe of the tree above her head as i changed her diaper on the grass.

she is just all around lovely.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

self denial and parenting

now that i am a parent, trying to train up my kids to be productive citizens who make a difference for God, the issue of self-denial comes up a lot. i am learning to instill this "giving up for God" attitude in my children. many times, too, i have looked at the parts of my life that don't seem to be making any progress and have wondered if this might have something to do with my own lack of training in self-denial and submission to authority. the other night i mused that much of my challenge with money stems from a lack of good planning. partly personality, to be sure, but to get right down to it, we were probably not trained to become good planners in our missionary, month-by-month home. so how do i teach my children to become good planners? i realized that this is just another aspect of the discipline of self-denial. if you can be taught from a young age to delay gratification, you will understand and accept planning as a part of life. this is why we parents must be vigilant over the attitudes of our young children. obeying parents is the first form of self-denial, and i've definitely been a slacker with sparrow in her first three years. i am almost "tougher" on golden, actually, because i have seen with sparrow what happens when there is too much slack, and am driven to nip things in the bud now when they first arise.

as for my own childhood, my parents did spank, but i don't recall ever being deliberately trained for good attitude or good behavior. (God bless my parents for their awesome encouragements, creativity, love for God, self-sacrifice, and so much more. so many of the resources i have found as a parent just weren't around when they were raising us.) i know they expected respect, joy, and good behavior, but the difference is that they did not demand them. i must have disappointed them so much, because being evil in nature, i did not naturally give them the respect they most certainly deserved. i am still remorseful about how little respect i gave (and sometimes still have a hard time giving) my dad, and my mom too, when she was alive. and there are so many slothful, willful, selfish habits i still entertain because indeed i was never trained out of them at the first, and surprise! i did not grow out of them on my own! ah, sinful nature at its best. not that i don't take responsibility for my own sins. i am an adult now and it is my job to wage my own battle against the flesh. but Lord knows old habits die hard, and i am more determined than ever to give my kids the tools to be able to deny themselves and conquer their will from an early age...

i have been reading on an awesome website, a book called raising godly tomatoes. and i am pleased to report marked progress with sparrow, even after only several weeks of beginning to implement the suggestions. i was really fired up about "to train up a child," by michael and debi pearl, but found that practically, it left me lacking in steps to take one by one. i was very passionate about making the training happen, but still found myself confused about whining, bad attitude, etc. in my 2-yr-old (at the time). with godly tomatoes i am finally on a path, and the suggestions she gives are super simple, direct, and explicit. she explores a variety of situations and gives the parenting response, and it's helped immensely. i feel like i have taken my home back! sparrow is much sweeter, says "i love you" more, and i can see in her more the desire to be sweet. also, i WANT to hang out with her now! what a joy. we still have a long way to go, but i feel so peaceful knowing what to do.

in the past, i felt that i must be careful to let sparrow have all the freedoms i could afford her, in order to somehow not "mess her up," create friendship between us, and breed in her the creative, explorer, free-spirit thing, which i have myself so enjoyed. this meant following her around while she explored everything in her path, being patient as she diverged from the path over and over, and fulfilling all requests that i could. one day i realized that within one minute's span she had given me five separate requests and some of them were contradictory! it dawned on me that i was running around like a chicken trying to follow her whims, when she didn't even know what she wanted! what a waste of time! i realize now that friendship may be achieved if i am a lenient mother, ...or it may not. a creative spirit can still be bred within, and in fact is enhanced by, an atmosphere of discipline. as for being "messed up," it dawned on me finally that she is far more likely to be well-adjusted and able to deal with life happily if she has learned to deny herself. and to be thankful. of course, i will be a loving authority, and i pray, a selfless one. this is not just to preserve my own sanity--although sanity in my home IS pleasant. of course i will still give her choices where appropriate. but i won't feel bad for expecting her to get dressed quickly if we are on a time crunch!

one of the best nuggets i have read so far from g.t. is this: "Personally, I believe we are designed to have large families. If we weren't, we would not ovulate for years and years, and our husbands would not desire us for years and years. God would not have urged us to "be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth". Therefore, it seems to me that it is far more natural to adopt a parenting method that works with one or many children, as opposed to a parenting method that only works with one or two children." O wise, funny woman! and it is so true! when we think about all the modern, psychology and humanism-based stuff we are supposed to do for our children in order not to mess them up, one can go crazy with just one child! no wonder! but i started to think, the other day, listening to "little house in the big woods" on cd with sparrow--wow. that caroline worked hard all day, every day. she didn't have time, certainly, to cajole her kids, plead with her whiny toddlers, and redirect her babies all day long, or be worried about giving them enough "experiences"! no. the kids had to learn early on to be content to work, and content with what they had. and they were thankful. it is a funny little secret i am learning: that less choices actually lead to more thankfulness. i can certainly see that sparrow is thankful that i am the authority. i only hope God does a quick work in me now, to help me become as self-disciplined as my children will soon be!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

the new healthy

i thought i was quite the expert on healthy living. wrong. i have just been taken to a whole new level in the past month or two by the goading of holly lomelino, my good friend here who is one of the best people to exchange ideas with. what i love about holly is that she is a person of action. she reads, she absorbs, she acts. it's not just a sitting-around-discussing-theory thing with her. and she's a great listener, i could go on and on. she has three young ones and also a stay-at-home mom, and this past semester we did our own preschool together twice a week, so she is one of the people i hang out with the most.

several months ago, she started talking to me about this book called a full quiver. "i don't wanna know," was my first response. but a few weeks later when she mentioned it again, i said, "oh yeah, when are you giving me that book to read?" holly: "i thought you didn't want to." me: "holly, give me the book, build my faith. i probably won't agree with everything in it, but whatever. that's not going to stop me from approaching the information." the book changed my life. (if you are familiar with the bible, you can probably guess the topic and stance of the book just from the title. but we will leave that for another post and another day.)

a few weeks later, holly got into perfect health the natural way, by mary-ann shearer. she started moping about my kitchen telling me i HAD to read it and help her work through all the info, cause she felt it was so impossible to follow the dietary recommendations, esp. with kids in the house. and that is how this all began. before i had a chance to read it, she burned through another one that was making her even MORE mopey: why christians get sick, by rev. george h. malkmus. this was a major upheaval because it was changing her whole concept of how a meal should be built, and in today's modern age it is practically impossible to escape the foods and food combos that are not recommended, not to mention keeping them away from your kids and convincing your husband of the joys of this new milk-free, practically meat-free, heavily raw diet.

i finally got a chance to read perfect health (still in the middle of the other one) and again, it changed my life. by the time i was reading it, holly was getting a lot more gung ho and into the swing of things with feeding the kids right and starting to feel all this transformation and energy from her newfound knowledge. she had gotten a recipe book (i think it was this one), geared toward moms with young kids, from the malkmus angle. she is looking fabulous, by the way. she's a skinny minnie, and has super radiant skin. "well i'm not getting sleep, so it must be the food," she says.

indeed, i can testify. a few weeks after beginning my own transformation, i was up til 4 AM writing my business plan for the self employment training class i was taking through WEV (amazing local small business center. i recommend their services and the class to anyone). as you know, when moms stay up til 4 am, they don't have the luxury of sleeping in. oh, no. up at 6 again, and at 'em! i had read in perfect health that eating only raw food when under stress or with little sleep can help you to keep functioning well. so that is what i did the next day. raw food until after the class was over (9pm) and then we had some bread and cheese and champagne to celebrate. but it was seriously amazing, the immediate effect of the foods i was eating. i was full of energy that day.

the other thing this lifestyle change helped me to do with relative ease was to quit caffeine. quit caffeine!?!!? why would i do such a thing, you ask? yes, haha anyone that knows me knows that coffee was pretty much one of my #1 joys in life. when it was time to go to bed at night, i used to get this secret little excited feeling that the next thing i would get to do was wake up and have my cup of coffee! mmmm mmm mmmm nothing but peet's for me please, i am a coffee snob and was a coffee/tea educator at peet's when i worked there. actually, my husband and i fell in love over church and coffee snobbery, so it was a big part of my life to say the least.

however, when i read perfect health, there was a section of the book where the author mentioned that caffeine can contribute to aggression, and the sentence stopped me in my tracks. for the last couple of months i had been bumming on my frequent anger outbursts with sparrow over small issues. yet, i would be SO tired and feel not in control of my emotions many times, if she was testing me just a bit too much or refusing to take her nap, etc. i had so far heard nothing bad about coffee except as concerns its acidity (can leach calcium from your bones), and i felt i could deal with that risk. now i was confronted with a very real opportunity to change my attitude in the home, if i would be willing to give up that one half-caf cup of coffee that i loved so much. and i decided then and there that i would take the challenge. how could i not at least try and see what happened? i waited awhile, though, then went a little less on the caffeine one day, then decaf. it was pretty hard goings for about three days, when i felt sluggish and blah all day. but it was still amazingly easy for the likes of me, coffee addict extraordinaire, and i got zero migraines or other intense symptoms. and almost immediately i also noticed a change in my aggressive behavior. now i feel like i am in control of my voice and my frustration a LOT more, which is amazing, and i know it makes a difference in sparrow's life. my daughters needed that.

(caffeine, by the way, can rear its ugly head in a number of other ways, too: moods, stress levels, hormonal functions, blood sugar, and blood pressure. i found it made me extremely tired after the high, and now i am more evenly energetic throughout the day.)

seriously, perfect health was a major wake-up call and paradigm shift in the way i thought about nutrition for health. i thought i was doing pretty good because we eat whole grains, don't have a lot of sugar, eat fruits and vegetables every day, don't eat a lot of dairy, and very rarely have red meat. sounds pretty good, right? wrong. enter food combination theory. sure, i had HEARD of food combining before, but come on, that just sounds hokey. not to mention complicated. so the major rule of food combining is: don't ever eat meat or other protein with carbs/starches. and when i found out why, it made so much sense. our stomach uses different enzymes to digest proteins than it does to digest starches. when the two are eaten at the same time, the one enzyme cancels the other out, and the meat sits in the stomach undigested, and ferments, then putrefies. gross. a meal like this can stay in your stomach for up to 12 hours. just the stomach!! when foods are actually supposed to travel through the entire digestive system in 15 hours or less.

mary-ann shearer led me through research, science, and common sense on the matter, and i am a complete believer. which is good, because since we don't buy chicken anymore, our food for the week is cheaper. but i love love love this book because it didn't make things hard. i had no burden while reading it. i love that she is so big on eating fruit. lots of the anti-cancer and weight-loss diets are really warning against fruit as high in calories and sugar. this is completely missing the picture. i hate diets that focus on calories. God made fruit to be the most attractive food group on the planet. why on earth would we suddenly think it is bad for you? it is full of vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and even protein. it is a live food that builds cells instead of tearing them down. it is alkaline-forming in the body instead of acid-forming, like most other foods. note that fruit is best eaten by itself. when consumed with carbs, it can stay in the stomach too long and ferment and indeed create acidity. this includes a glass of orange juice with your cereal or strawberries on pancakes. but if you eat fruit by itself and do so a lot, you will find your cravings for other foods going away, and you will stop obsessing over food.

i have seen this in my own life to an amazing degree. parties used to be a major gorging ground for me; if i went to a social gathering where there was food, all my healthiness would go right out the window and i'd eat whatever the heck looked good, and a lot of it. now i find that the unhealthy foods at parties mostly don't even appeal to me anymore. it is a huge freeing breakthrough for me, actually.

so step 1 is to eat one fruit meal a day. step 2 is to eat for your cravings: if you crave salty foods, your body is craving healthy fats, so try eating an avocado. if you crave sugar, your body needs fruit. step 3 is to eat something raw before every meal. there are 5 steps, but these 3 are the most important. i recommend buying the book for anyone who wants to have more energy, be less dependent on food, think clearer, be more upbeat, have better skin, avoid chronic diseases common to western society, improve their digestion, get better sleep, feel more rested in the morning, lose weight, deal with hormonal imbalances or behavioral issues, or generally get more healthy.

most health problems can be taken care of with a change in diet. doctors don't know this, nor do they want to know. they want to give vaccines and prescriptions so they can get their perks from pharmaceutical companies. ok, that might be generalising doctors a bit, but seriously, doctors get practically NO nutritional training during their 12 years of schooling, so some won't even acknowledge a link between eating and health! and they do get perks from big pharma when they prescribe & vaccinate more. does anyone else think that should be illegal?! helloooooooooo, conflict of interests! (don't get me started on vaccines. the best book i've read on this is raising a vaccine free child, by wendy lydall)

two more reasons why i love the approach of mary-ann shearer is that she presents the lifestyle as an "add-to" diet, not a "take-away" diet. and she also has lots of common sense about vitamins. if you are being pressured by a diet promo to purchase a bunch of supplements, you should be wary of it. i think this is super good advice, and so freeing. i used to bemoan our inability to spend money on supplements. now i know whole foods can supply all we need.

i am up and blogging at 1:40 a.m. and will be up at 6 or 7 tomorrow. how do i have the energy with my 2 little ones? caffeine? red bull? super pills? nope. good, plain food that is renewing my cells and giving my body life as God intended. be inspired!

sparrow the three-year-old

i didn't get a chance to make notes on sparrow's birthday. the big one turned three on april 18th. her party was held on sat, april 11th at goleta beach park. what a whirlwind. we were doing an "art" theme, and one of the brilliant things about the party was that the kids were each going to decorate a cake. not until i was making the cake the day before did i realize that our limited fridge space was going to create a problem. where were six cakes going to go? and even more difficult: once they were frosted in white the next morning with butter cream frosting, i couldn't stack them any more, but the frosting was prone to easy melting. good thing my brother came to the rescue with a mini fridge that he has in his room. but it was a frantic AM what with the baby and the frosting and getting all the food and bbq and art supplies together; thomas was out running an errand and the party was scheduled to start soon, but i couldn't get out of the house by myself or drive the tray of cakes without them fudging, and was going a bit crazy. at that moment naomi and barnaby knocked on my door and asked me if i needed help! they figured they should probably not leave before my car was gone. bless them! so they took the cakes for me and we made it out the door. thomas had gone on ahead with the balloons and table cloths, but as i was arriving, he called me and asked me where i was.
"i'm here. i'm just pulling into the parking lot."
"what? which way did you go? why did i get here so much faster?"
"i took fairview."
"fairview...?" then something horrible happened on the other end. he realized we were in 2 different locations!
"where are you?" he said.
"goleta beach. where are you?"
"stowe grove!"
i tried to say something but he had already hung up. i was too baffled to think too long cause now we had to get the food out and the babies and round up any wandering guests who might have already arrived before us. then the whole caravan of the reeves arrived, and my jaw dropped open. they ALL came! i was only expecting goldie, but was so happy to see the entire family nonetheless. soon enough thomas was there and we set up table cloths and gave kids balloons.

enter holly: "the sea gulls just ate your cakes." WHAT! aaaaaaah! worst ever! i ran over and swatted away the sea gulls (rats of the sea), which had left a nasty mess of my careful frosting job. (yum, said the sea gull. naughty sea gull.) i was super flustered because thomas and i had already discussed the sea gulls and the cake earlier, knowing the weasely food-swiping nature of these characters, and had decided we'd leave the cake in the car until time to decorate. information that in all the jumble i had forgotten to pass on to naomi and barnaby, poor unsuspecting souls... i rushed the sad crumby cake tray back to my car, where i realized that it was not quite so bad as it had seemed at first. i could salvage the other halves of the two compromised cakes, and i'd have had to cut all the cakes in half anyways because of the extra guests.

the kids' first artistic activity was painting wooden "treasure" boxes from michaels that they would get to take home. there weren't quite enough once again, but samuel and hope were good enough to share.

then on to the cake decorating. cake first! because if we waited, the frosting would have melted in the car. the kids had such an awesome time making their cake creations with nasty store-bought tubes of glitter-gel icing and colored sunflower seeds. there were some very over-the-top pieces of piled/dripping colors and ALL the adults scraped the color fun off before eating. hahahah. bitter stuff.

sparrow had helped me make the cake, and she was so excited to have chocolate, her pick. last year the cake was more healthy with carrots and no refined sugar. this year since she had an opinion and heck--it WAS her birthday--i let her choose whatever kind she wanted. i still made it with whole wheat, of course. she gets cake/ treats sometimes at weddings or special occasions, so why make it more extreme on her birthday. that carrot cake takes a really long time to make, too. but it is good.

anyhow, next on the party agenda was more artistic embellishment of the treasure boxes as the kids got to glue jewels on. they got crayons to decorate their own white gift bags too. but it was SUCH a crazy windy day that the table cloths blew off a couple times and almost scattered the drying treasure boxes. my hair was everywhere and it was generally loud, so i felt like i was yelling and shrieking at everyone with instructions. boo. good thing i had help from derika and tara in directing and assisting the creative endeavors. tara and melissa took over the care of golden, too, who to her chagrin had been basically ignored by me all day long. =(

the most elaborate treasure box was created by jade dillon, who took such sweet time and care in gluing those flower jewels on in every spare space. i was impressed.

then more food, free play, and present time, and before too long we were wrapping it up. what amazing silence when we got into the car out of the wind. what a full day. what good friends. precious daughter. oh and i can't forget to recount the hilarious instance where hope (below) ran off with the cheese. she found a block of cheese in the cooler and decided to take off running! then goldie reeve decided to chase her, and the two ran around the park like little munchkins. fast ones. with cheese. too bad there is no picture because it was amazing, and all the grown ups were laughing and yelling.

sparrow got to wear home made birthday crown. she picked, placed and glued all the jewels the day before.

thanks to alan for taking pics at the party. my computer crashed at the end of april, and i lost my photos--bloooo--but through alan's documentary the party's essence was saved from suffering a fate of banishment to a place of mental images alone.

thomas was off to china on the 15th of april, so sparrow's real birthday was more of a quiet day. i did have plans to take her to padaro beach grill again as last year, but we battled traffic only to find the place closed for a wedding! so we got some picnic food at tj's instead and headed once again to goleta beach park. ah, and sparrow got to pick out flowers--finally, finally! every time we go to tj's she wants to get flowers, and i always say, "no, maybe on your birthday." now was that day! and she picked out a dozen red roses. what an adorable girl. at the park i also bought her an ice cream from the ice cream trolley lady. she picked a nasty blue sonic-character ice cream with gum eyes that turned her tongue and whole face blue. when it started dripping down the stick, she licked it and then said, laughing, "i licked the paint!" and to top off the sugar, i let her get a gum ball in the amazing gum ball machine at blockbuster. that might have been her favorite part, watching the red gum ball roll around and around down the track. wow. first ever experience with that american classic. then we stayed up late and watched "milo and otis" and ate home made popcorn. i am so proud of her & it's fun to let her stay up late every now and then and have some "big girl" time.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

may musings

"the wind wants to come in, but we will never let it in here." -may 5

"mom, the potty wants me to fall in it. but i wanna stay out of it." -may 8

"mom, can you be careful not to flush me in the hole?" -may 8

funny and a little disconcerting: sparrow's first "ocd" behavior has emerged: for some reason, she has decided that she can't be in the bathroom longer than the toilet tank takes to fill back up after flushing. so when we are washing her hands, she gets all squirmy and hurried and starts saying, "it's gonna be too late! it's gonna be too late!" (it took me a few times to figure out what she was talking about!) then she races off down the hall as soon as i let her go. now i don't even bother to flush until she's done washing--it eliminates the stress.

sp: "mom, cut my leg!"
me: "but that will hurt you!"
sp: "mom, i won't have any legs, and you'll just have to carry me." -may 10

me: "wow, this is my fourth mothers day!"
sp: "no, it's HAPPY mother's day." -may 10

me: "guess what we are going to learn about in preschool today? rectangles!"
sp: "mom, we always learn about rectangles. what about our ABC's?" -may 14
(after all the effort i go through to keep her clear of the pressure to learn early alphabets so that she can flourish as an artist...)

sp: "what will the police do to us when they pull us over?"
me: "they'll probably give us a..." (sparrow cuts in)
"will they turn us into a statue?" -may 16

"when it snows a lot i will wear my fairy dress ALL night long." -may 19

sp: "i wanna watch a movie."
me: "when do you NOT wanna watch a movie?"
sp: "i don't wanna watch a movie after my movie." -may 19

"the elephants walked all across the crosswalk string." (she meant "tightrope." haha!) -may 19

"here is a heart for you, for being good." -may 20

"mommy, i'll let you sweep if you're good." -may 20

"mommy, i got some coin for you. so you can go to trader joe's and get me some balloons." -may 20

(i was trying to fix a toy)
me: "i need some tools."
sp: "mom, someday if you're a daddy you can have some tools." -may 24

"this is my wedding day... i bedda dance." -may 24

me: "what do you say when you want to measure yourself?"
sp: "five months tall?" -may 24

"red and yellow, black and white and green, they are precious in my sight." -may 26

(reading amelia bedelia book, page where amelia bedelia is looking at the fancy draperies in the huge house...)
my, those must be rich folks.
sp: "no, those are not rich folks."
me: "what are they?"
sp: "those are windows!" -may 28

"the next time we go to heaven, we will see my grandma." -may 28

"mom, next time it's thursday we will go to the wedding and we will wear a wedding dress and we will marry daddy." -may 30

sp: "what are we doing today?"
me: "we're going to church."
sp: "i just have one question: can you not leave me alone?" -may 31

(discussing jacob of the Bible and the goat skin deception)
sp: "he was like a bear."
me: "why do you think he was like a bear?"
sp: "cause he had fur on his arms."
me: "why do you think he wanted to have fur on his arms?"
sp: "cause he was like a bear, ya goon!" -may 31

Thursday, June 11, 2009

faster than falling

i dreamed that an israeli family was staying with us in a horribly cluttered apartment. a specific family that i have actually met in real life.

i dreamed that i was running around in a shopping/restaurant area close to a beach, trying to find my backpack that i had left at an outdoor restaurant table because someone malicious was out to get it, or me...

there was a building with some sort of balcony. it was three stories tall. i went up into the building. i met some amazing and knowledgeable professor or theologian or writer that i admired and he was telling me something very interesting. we were sitting at the edge of the balcony in this discussion, and there were two other guys behind us. suddenly one of them leaned over and pushed the professor off the balcony and tried to push me too. i somehow resisted and kicked him in the face so he fell off the balcony instead and died.

i ran away. i was trying to get to the elevator but when i went through the next door, there was the dead guy i had just kicked, standing there, trying to get into the elevator with me with his bruised head and limp limbs. i pushed him out of the way and closed the elevator door. the elevator said it had 20 floors, even though i knew there were only three. there were only two options. arrow up or arrow down. i wanted to go down so i pushed that one.

the elevator went down. then it started going faster and faster and faster. i had to hold on. i was having the awful falling feeling in the pit of my stomach. it was unbearable. it kept going down and it kept going faster. i was gripping a handle inside the elevator. it was going faster than falling. i couldn't handle the feeling anymore, it was physically frightening and horrible. i had to wake myself up. i started shaking my head. i woke up on my pillow with a fog in my head and the stomach crunching finally faded.

a naptime dream, no less. i can't figure out all the pieces. it was definitely some sort of spiritual oppression. the past two weeks have been more bare than usual in our house. we are being broken down piece by piece.

there is bad news after bad news and the girls are sick, it really does pour. we pray, we worship, i do feel like i am losing hope some days though. there is nothing to do but to press in to God.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

clark bread

look what we found in the park in the dark
we will take him home, we will call him clark
he will live at our house, he will grow and grow
will our mother like this? we don't know.
-Dr. Seuss

our first self-made sour dough bread, from a recipe out of "above rubies" magazine.

we had to catch the wild yeast from the air, and feed the "dough pet" for a week before he was ready for baking. now that we have our starter, we hope to keep him alive for years to come. sparrow can't decide what she wants to name him/her. one day it was freddy, the next it was polly. for now, in honor of the dr. seuss verse we recited while we were growing the dough, we call him clark.

the beauty and satisfaction of home made bread. four simple ingredients, many bites of bliss.

(note that sparrow is eating her bread butter-side-down in this pic... another dr. seuss reference!)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

infant potty training, take II

golden is 10 months old. time to stop buying diapers. my plan is to let her be naked for a few weeks, get ready with spray and wipes, and... not check email, do housework, or do anything else besides pay attention. when i see her going, i will say the trigger word until--hopefully--i get used to her rhythm and she can go on command.

today we had a few presents on the floor, but we were prepared for cleanup. since i am off caffeine now, and am eating so much better (i recommend mary-ann shearer's book 'perfect health the natural way' for easiest & most amazing nutrition overhaul ever), i have the energy and equilibrium to handle the messes. that is not stressing me out at all.

the trigger word thing only happened once though. i didn't pay attention enough, i know that much!

also, i am doing hand motions for both pee and poop, so if she needs to, she can tell me that she's gotta go. this could be really funny, hahaha! but i kept it clean, they are G-rated.

i tried infant potty training when golden was just newborn, but at the time she had really liquid-y excretions and i was unwilling to let that get on the furniture. now that she is both autonomously navigating the floor and creating firm little "cookie poos" as we like to call them (way easier cleanup!), i am ready to take this on again. i do need tips if anyone has done this before.

ok, but i saw the most shockingly brilliant and surprising thing on a home video my husband made in china: the toddlers there are all diaperless. and they run around in PANTS THAT HAVE SLITS DOWN THE BACK. WHY is this not common knowledge in america??! has ANYONE ever heard of this before? apparently they just hold out the newspaper when the kid's gotta go. these people are quite resourceful. they even take the kids in public like this! if they can do it, we---can---do---it. can you imagine the possibilities of new children's clothes we could design? this should SO be my new business endeavor: "kids anytime pooper pants for all seasons! cute new styles!" i can just see it now.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

golden hour

i think the last time i blogged golden's progress was when she was 7 months old. she is thriving and completely into everything but in a very good way. she is an amazing self-entertainer and not prone to whining, which is definitely appreciated. i am gonna do my darndest to help her keep that trend on up through 2 and 3! anyways, she is quite strong and active; thomas calls her "muscle girl." she has the sweetest little toothy smile, her two front teeth are huge with a big gap in the middle, and it is such bliss to hear her totally gleeful chortle when she is hiding behind a curtain or getting her neck tickled.

she developed her pincer grasp around 7, 8 months which was a huge help in feeding times, she is a pro at cheerios and even slippery pieces of fruit. she also loves to eat baby carrots and will consume most forms of vegetable. especially steamed broccoli. she eats tons of that and it is amazing to see her face and surroundings after a good broccoli meal. hurricane!! oh yes, and be careful how close you get to her when you are eating. she has been known to grab and finish off pesto sandwiches.

in early may golden began to attempt saying words (beyond mama, dadda). one day we were studying eric carle pictures of little rubber ducks and she said, "enne!" which as everyone knows is the baby way to say "ente," or duck, in german. (this is super interesting, because "duck" was sparrow's first attempted word as well! in english, of course, though.) she also says "be" (bear) and does the sign for it, and "ba ba" (baby) when looking in the mirror. she does the "mouse" sign too, and loves it, thanks to the maisy mouse lift-the-flap book, which i have been trying to read to her every night. since her middle name is maisie, she HAD to love maisy mouse! one of golden's favorite animal signs is the one for frog, where she sticks out her tongue. she is so eager to show me her frog-sign skills every time she hears a word that sounds remotely like "frosch." oh, and she can sign "hut" (hat)(patting the top of your head) really well now, and hats make her laugh, especially when you put napkins or similar on your head and tell her it's a "hut." (pronounced "hoot.")

nowadays the child is a surprisingly speedy crawler, and is a pro at getting herself down once she has pulled up to a table or other object. she can do these amazing deep squats, actually. it is inspiring to watch. she also, when she really needs me, crawls up and pulls herself up to standing on my pant leg. then i know she is very hungry or very tired.

she is really funny about having her face washed. when i splash water to get food off her mouth after meal time, she sticks out her tongue and tries to drink the water. such a crack-up. she is a super humor-filled bundle all around. she loves being chased and bounced, and she loves hiding games. she tries to crawl away really fast, but then she will splay herself face down flat on a soft blanket or bed and chuckle. when you pick her up all food-covered after a meal and hold her out away from yourself to carry the mess monster to the sink, her legs will jog up and down the whole time.

golden has also learned to give kisses, which is what i have been waiting for her whole life! she is great at that now, and will always make kissy signs at our downstairs neighbor, jan, who is like a grandma to the girls. golden absolutely loves jan. whenever she sees her, she lights up and begins to wave. it is really precious to see.

discovery, discovery! she has been playing with her bumbo seat ALL the time these past few days. she tries to get it out from under the table, where it is usually kept. then, when someone gets it for her, she climbs in and out of it, leans on it, navigates it like a little pro. fun times. the other day golden was also entertaining herself by putting a little floamy-bracelet into a deep jug and then looking into the depths and fishing it out again. love watching the learning happening with such simple things. her favorite place to discover seems to be the bathroom, however. she will book it! for the loo when the door is open, and of course pull herself up on the toilet. we are washing lots of little hands...

babies are a never-ending source of amusement. today (06-06) i was showing golden how to push the button on the baby wipe box so that the lid pops up. she was endlessly fascinated and pushed it over and over while i stood by and cheered! hah. but that is how they learn. love it. i was also showing her the general sign for "animals" (tiere) tonight, which is: rubbing your arm gently. she was getting it, but it was so adorable, cause instead of rubbing her own arm, she would rub mine. she also does this with the sign for "nursing." she pats my chest instead of her own. she can also do an "indian call" by clapping her hand over her mouth repeatedly.

golden has six teeth (two on top and four on bottom). she is about at the same pace with that as sparrow was at her age. she is teething again, though, at least one more top one is coming in right now. it makes her wake up more at night. JUST when you think they are going to start sleeping through all the time, they start teething again.

she also likes to dance and play "instruments." she knows which button on the musical toy makes the melodies, and she will push it and then stand there (holding on to it) and shakey-dance. while we were doing preschool in the spring, she loved shaking a maraka or rattle during kid song time.

i love this girl's zest for life. her default is a smile. i have a lot to learn from her.

Monday, June 1, 2009

working it out

here it is. the business class ended three weeks ago. graduation two weeks ago with a full length ceremony at fess parker. summer schedule is here for preschool (field trips now, only once per week.) i now have time to write.

but i find that i am still in process of catching the vision that God is trying to give me, droplets at a time, attempts to gather and glean in the barren chaos that seems to define us some (most?)days.

this blog has been a sheltered family affair. but i am becoming aware that in order to be a good citizen of heaven, and a good steward at what God has placed in my hands, i must seek the good of more than just my clan. the good of my community, society,...

i need lessons in humility before i am ready to write, really write.

thoughts for this evening. i know i have a somber tone. and ok, here's why:

i have just come off of a completely spiritual experience at a blog just discovered: if you go to it you will know why. i am awed by the expressions of grace in this woman.

i want to say to heck with the california apartment and move out to the country and take up farming. see me next year in a gingham dress with blue pinafore, kneading daily bread and speaking to my youngsters in a gentle irish lilt.

no, but seriously. my brief moments on the above blog brought to light several things all at once:

1) christianity isn't boring. i already knew this, of course, but the beauty and holiness of everyday life with Christ, as expressed by ann voskamp are almost tangible and brought me to the brink of reverent tears. i am repenting for my lean toward the world's view of Bible.

2) holiness is here, now. much to learn in the area of living out my higher calling in the every day. much to learn about focusing in on Christ, sealing the lips of complaint, and opening the lips of joyous praise. treating each moment as sacred, God-made.

3) i have sorely neglected the cultivation of beauty and quiet in my life in recent years. to be drawn into a space of poetic expression, depth of feeling, and love for aesthetics (God shines through in the thoughtful simplicity) made my little heart swell. God created us to mimic Him. if i have to pencil in time in the calendar to express His beauty, i will do so. i WILL.

just go there. your heart will respond.