Friday, December 3, 2010

november nuttiness

sp: "it's really fun to discover." (after she figured out that red and blue make purple while drawing a rainbow) -nov. 2

sp: "buzz lightyear can't have dinner."
me: "why?"
sp: "because he's mean."
me: "but he got nice at the end of the movie."
sp: "why?"
me: "cause he got humbled."
a few minutes later, thomas came into the room. golden holds up the buzz lightyear figure and says,
"he get humbled!" -nov. 2

sp: "a sandwich came into my room and said, 'no preservatives!'" -nov. 4

me: "you met auntie holly before. the first time you met her you were only 3 weeks old, a tiiiiiiiiiiiiiny baby!"
sp: "when my head was shaped like a triangle!" -nov. 5

sp: "do people get a hundred years old--til they're as old as a giant?" -nov. 5

(golden singing)
"i got the love of jason in my heart!" -nov. 6

sparrow flaps the cover of a book open, setting it on her lap, and says, "i'm gonna look at my laptop...what?! lauren had a baby?" -nov. 7 (wow, she understands that's how i find out about people's babies nowadays!)

when sparrow showed her something, golden said, "das really cool." -nov. 7 (hee hee! 2 yrs old! so sweet!)

G: "pizza. can swim." -nov. 9

sparrow drawing a spider. when she had drawn 7 legs on one side,
sp: "eight?"
me: "yeah."
sp: " can't have one more on that side!" (very distressed!) -nov. 10

sp: "God made the inside of us with waterproof. AND it's amazing that this waterproof can bend!" -nov. 10

song, "and ransom captive israel..." on in the background,
sp: "it's the kind of captain that saves people." -nov. 10

learning about lazarus, sparrow kept calling him "razzle-us." -nov. 10

g: "can i have some water? i want some caffeine in it." -nov. 10

sp: "that's a LOAD of bananas!" -nov. 10

g: "he's kicking. so faster." -nov. 10

sp: "let's pretend that herod walked up to this bowl of oatmeal and he climbed up to the edge, and he said, 'oh, gunness! that's a BUNCH of oatmeal!'" -nov. 11

g: "poky poky is the lord." (trying to remember a bible verse) -nov. 11

golden singing, "the horn, it does doodli doodli..." -nov. 11

sp: "what's recycling?"
me: "it's the kind of trash that you can make new stuff out of."
sp: "like what...collages?" -nov. 12

sparrow did a painting that we glued our family's heads onto. golden looks at the one of me, and says  "that's mommy--when you're older." -nov. 14

silas was nursing pretty vigorously one day while we were praying. sparrow leans over to me and whispers, "he's gonna get a brain freeze." -nov. 14

sp: "who in the world is named Gunness?"
me: "why, cause we say 'oh, gunness'?"
sp: " no, cause we say, 'thank Gunness.'" -nov. 15

golden shoves a microphone in my face and says, "talk about it." -nov. 15

(thomas walks into the room)
g: "hello, love." -nov. 15

me: "peas are a superfood."
sp: "what's a superfood?"
me: "it gives you super energy."
(me eating some peas out of her bowl)
sp: "why are you eating them? i don't want to have a little bit of super energy!" -nov. 15

sp: "i ate the chicken bra!" (broth) -nov. 15

g: "look! i'm hiding in the corny! i'm hiding in the corny! sparrow, hide in the corny!"
(sparrow hides in a corner too)
g: "now we both have corns." -nov. 18

me: why did that little doll table break again?"
g: "i dunno. i sat on it. with my body." -nov. 19

me: "you know what this song reminds me of? the whole foods in san francisco."
sp: "you know what mom? san francisco reminds me of itself." -nov. 20

(i made a pancake shaped like a heart)
g: "d'you wan' a heart pancake, mom?"
me: "no, i made it for you cause i love you."
g: "...maybe sticka da wall." -nov. 21 (so sweet! she wanted me to put it up on the wall for display, she thought it was so cool!)

(after we got a box of hand-me-downs from a friend for golden)
me to sparrow: "well, elliana is smaller than you, so she can't really pass her things down to you."
sp: "you mean UP to me?" -nov. 23

golden has taken to calling sparrow "sparrito." (she has heard it from me a few times!) so cute when she says, "come on, sparrito!"

me: "maybe we can make that manger today."
sp: "but can we put beautiful things in front of it? silas in a bumbo seat?" -nov. 26

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

happy advent time

our first advent was a beautiful time of warmth, togetherness, and anticipation. we made a jesse tree out of trader joe's paper bags to put onto the wall in the kitchen. we read the scriptures from isaiah and 1st samuel and sang christmas songs. then i had a special treat up my sleeve, an advent package from auntie martina in germany! she is so thoughtful, the girls were ecstatic, of course! she sent beautiful german woodcut ornaments and chocolate and tea and coloring books and cookies and then some! what a beautiful auntie i have. so amazing. i long for her to know the higher Love that drives the true excitement into this season! my girls (esp. sparrow) are so excited about Jesus; her idea was to make a manger and put "all our beautiful things" in front of it as an offering to baby Jesus. i even made a manger that sunday morning out of cardboard, but alas! it buckled quite quickly with golden  trying to put her dolly into it! perhaps we can reinforce and salvage it... we skipped second advent because we were out, but did third advent today and the girls made apple symbols for the jesse tree. golden's apple is sooo adorable! both apples are. i like these little crafts because i can make up anything simple and the girls are pleased to do it and pleased to tape their creations onto our 2-D tree. (though i do have my reservations about doing these "directed" crafts with golden, i think that kind of thing is mostly detrimental for a young artist's development. praying the good will outweigh that, though.)  the jesse tree is such a wonderful way to keep the focus on the story of Christ, and to teach Christ's centrality to the family from a young age. it takes you through the old testament with creation, the fall, the story of the covenant, israel, and all the key people leading up to Jesus.
lighting the candle

peeking princess with the fall crown

favorite curtain game

package from auntie martina

the jesse tree

golden calls this "apple and a raindrop." so there she is still being creative after i gave her a guided "apple and leaf" craft to do!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


what a blessing to be here in the old neighborhood with old friends as neighbors! emi and jonathan lent us their home for the big graham thanksgiving dinner while they went for thanksgiving with the in-laws. (we were the only ones there not actually related to the grahams, but... having known them since i was two, i feel related, anyway). they had put me in charge of the stuffed sweet potatoes, bread, and coffee. having done almost the entire dinner by myself for the past 2 years, i was amazed and very thankful that i didn't have to do more this year; i barely got it all done as it was! ok, i also made a pie and cranberry sauce, but i got those done the night before, and i was not baking bread from scratch. i guess having the three little ones diverting my attention every five minutes or less makes it more challenging than ever. i did get sparrow and golden involved, however, we are still learning a lifestyle of working together on everyday tasks. so here is what they did:

i put a big towel down on the kitchen floor and filled my biggest mixing bowl with water. then i dumped the 24 sweet potatoes out on the towel and the girls washed them in the water bowl, putting the clean ones in another bowl. i gave sparrow a kitchen towel to dry the sweet potatoes as they went along, and then we transferred them to the table and everyone helped poke holes into the skins with forks! this was a lot of fun for them and there was only one accident. sparrow also spent time with me in the kitchen during golden's nap. she was making thanksgiving cards for her friends. she would tell me what she wanted to write, and i would tell her the letters, which she would dutifully write down. she made three of them, a huge accomplishment for someone who can't actually read yet! by 3:30 we were over at the schmidt's place and everyone was already there: mr. and mrs. graham, julia's family, omi's family, and grandma sneider. the children's table was bigger than the grownups' table! which is how it should be. if it isn't, then we are not multiplying! but as it is, there were all the little ones shining and beaming around the table, and we felt very blessed.

all the food was amazing. what is it about stuffing that i love so much?! and yet it does not taste as good if i try to make it at any other time of the year... after dinner we all waddled out into the cold for an invigorating walk--it WAS cold, it was going to go below zero (celcius) that night! then back for dessert and games. there were more pies than you could shake a stick at, plus whipped cream, the aforementioned coffee, and pumpkin ice cream. the children were ecstatic. golden and sparrow came back for seconds and would have had thirds if i had let them! but they had not eaten that much dinner; it seems that the children weren't too thrilled with thanksgiving food! "the incredibles" came on tv. sparrow hates suspense in movies and can't usually handle it, but since she's seen that one before, it was alright, and the adults played games! apples to apples and wise and otherwise. my favorite "saying," made up by elizabeth (age 12) was this: "if there is fat on your hand...there is ham in your stomach." hahahaha! it was so cool of her to play games with us. she is the only "tween" in the family, and she is an amazing big sister. we were still there when emi and jonathan came back! hehe! they joined in the merriment for awhile, then there was a quick clean up flurry and time to head out into the night freeze for home. it was 10 pm.

during the morning. the girls making silas fancy.

the children at their amazing thanksgiving table
...and silas is part of the children crew too! his first thanksgiving!

mcdonnell family ready for a walk thanksgiving day

thomas walking with golden after she fell

ladies and children

running to catch up
checking the mail

zachary cozy with monty
children relaxing

golden the climber
...and slide!
i am so so so so thankful to the Lord Almighty for nursing us and nourishing us, for his patience and lovingkindness, His word, his mercies which are new every morning, His Holy Spirit which fills us daily, my husband who is so patient and hard working and such a good father, my beautiful blessings of children that i have been privileged to bear and now get to have the adventure of motherhood with! amazing friends and neighbors, the home we live in, all our mod cons (dishwasher, oven, stove, microwave, laundry, toaster, electricity, hot water, toilets, showers, computers, come ON!), and the vision and sacrifice of the pilgrims who came here to build a new world, as well as the pioneers and hard working farmers who tamed this land and made it so amazing. and of course for the soldiers who sacrificed and are still sacrificing for our freedom. God bless America, and may His name be glorified in it!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

october oddness

me singing: "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, once i caught a fish alive. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, then i let him go again. why did you let him go? because he bit my finger so! which finger did he bite?" (i pause for sparrow's answer.) all of a sudden, golden jumps in and says, "God!" -oct. 4 (oh dear, already got the sunday school answer thing down pat!)

sp: "i promised i would fall asleep, but...i just forgot." -oct. 7

sparrow was getting all worked up trying to get golden to try some home made salsa, but golden kept refusing.
me: "don't worry, she'll probably start liking it when she's four, like you."
sp: "but mom, this salsa won't last that long!" -oct. 7

sparrow looking at the new princess band-aids box: "mommy, belle looks like she's giving birth." -oct. 6

sp: "i hope heaven has a wood floor." -oct. 4 (do ya think she'll be disappointed when she finds it is not wood, but gold?)

sparrow put a hat on silas and was so delighted with it. "we should show himself to himself." -oct. 5

me: "silas, you've been so good over there, you've been in there for almost an hour!"
sp: "yeah and he was SO good in your belly when he was all by himself!" -oct. 6

golden calls the broom the "sweeper." -oct. 8

golden telling auntie omi about her little brother: "silas. red. hairs." -oct. 4

we were going through our MEP math lesson, and one of the questions for sparrow was "what do the grownups in your family do?"
sp: " the grownups watch movies in the night and look on the computer at morning."
q: "what do the children in your family do?"
sp: "the children kill scorpions in the night and buy pumpkins at morning."

then she really got on a roll:
"the dad juggles and the mom sings funny things. the grandma buys halos. golden likes to trip over her toys and fall on her head. she likes to throw bananas out in the desert and i like to throw watermelons out in the desert." -oct. 8

me: "how do they figure our baby is a boy? well, he's wearing boy clothes! if the baby looks like a boy, people will think it's a boy. if the baby looks like a girl, people will think it's a girl."
sp: "and if the baby looks like obama, people will think it's obama!" -oct. 10

sp: "i really feel bad for that man that he had to wait for 46 days." (this was the day after we had read the story of the pool of bethesda. the actual time the man waited to be healed was 38 years!) -oct. 14

sparrow looking at one of our wedding pictures: "mommy, you're so pretty there. i want to keep you that way."  -oct. 14

me: "danielle's great grandpa died. he went to heaven."

sp: "is he in the throne yard?"
me: "what are you talking about? what's a throne yard?"

sp: "that place where people die in a bunch of boxes!" -oct. 17

sp. re: silas: "why doesn't he have any eyebrows--he has no FUR!" -oct. 17

sp: "if our next daughter is a kitty, we can name her 'hello kitty.'" -oct. 17

I had gotten myself into a fix getting annoyed at these barbies that sparrow kept finding in the car (i had put them in there to get rid of, and apparently never gotten around to it.) i had to apologize for getting mad and explain why we don't want the barbies in our house. sparrow listened patiently and then said, "and besides, that one with the red dress had lint on it." (could i have asked for a better daughter? she's so precious!) -oct. 23

sp: "silas, you're so cute and pretty, i want to eat you. ...i want to eat myself, cause i'm so beautiful."
me: "and what makes you beautiful?"
sp: pauses to think, says finally, "...this dress."
me, laughing: "the Bible says it's your gentle and quiet spirit. your heart."
sp: "...and God can see inside this heart that's in me! and he also thinks i'm beautiful when i'm wearing NO clothes, and NO panties!" -oct. 23

sp: "God's light is SO white, it's not even dark white!" -oct. 24

silas is lying on the couch, crying: arms flailing, mouth open, eyes closed.
sp: "he looks like he's worshiping!" -oct. 24

golden, re: silas: "she's a little tadpole!" -oct. 26

me: "he who does not work does not eat."
g: "God is eating da flowers." -oct. 28

sp: "i'm gonna be 45 before silas."

Friday, October 15, 2010

evening at the dollhouse

  i had the best time playing doll house with my girls this evening!  we had a simple sabbath meal of curried vegetables and rice (the girls are learning to eat "grown-up" foods, and i am learning to be tough on them about that! hurrah!), and a lovely family devotion--well, interspersed with toddler training for whining, leaving the room, etc. but lovely nonetheless. the girls were all ready for bed by 8, so we had time to play! sparrow wanted to keep her dress on to play "lion," so we played lion for awhile, which segued into dollhouse, as our lion uncle, the playmobil lion, was keeping prisoners in the dollhouse, so it happened. soon he was teaching the prisoners to sing lovely christmas songs as a collective choir, and before we knew it, "uncle tony" had become a dog and we were setting up family relationships between the dolls and naming them all. 

sparrow and golden were given this dollhouse when thomas' boss' daughter was getting rid of stuff she didn't play with anymore! we were excited to receive such a grand present. it had come with several barbies, and i had promptly gotten rid of them. in the words of holly hobbie, those dolls are "just...too much." we replaced the barbies with whatever we had: several old dolls i used to play with as a little girl, a few mcdonald's happy meal dolls, a playmobil, a home made spoon doll, and some other characters we've picked up at various places. 

how GLAD i am that we decided to get rid of the barbies! sparrow is obsessed with beautiful princess stuff, and i think it is not healthy to indulge that too much. this, their eclectic, piecemeal family, is so much more interesting, despite the fact that most of the dolls are spatially challenged (way too small for their environment)!

left to right: aunt zelda, father harry ("because he's very hairy!"), mother isabella, daughter ann, daughter cherry (she's only nine!)(and i don't know why both of the daughters are naked at the dinner table...sounds about right, though), ...princess olivia, also known as rosemary (me: "and what is she in the family? the cousin?" sp:"no! she's the princess!" ...oh. of course. the princess of the family...) at the bottom we have cousin angelina sitting down with baby ocean, and of course "uncle tony," their dog who looks like a lion. the beloved pet horse, "starfish," looks on.

 oh and how could i have forgotten the doctor, Dr. westerband in this photo!?! sorry, my dear, diminutive dr. westerband. (it was the name of my real OB, of course! hahahaha!)

 here is the pet room. not all the animals are named yet. they also have a pink pony which they have named "elead."

i love playing with my girls!!

Friday, October 1, 2010

september funnies

sp: "in heaven there's no throwing crumbs at people. but there ARE fire crackers." -sept. 2

g: "silas go da class?"
sp: no, silas can't go to class! he's too little, he can't walk! and secondly, he can't do what the teacher says!" -sept. 3

sp: "i put the cake in the oven. it's boiling for 40 minutes. but we have to eat it all up, cause it's rotten." -sept. 3

sp: "or if this painting falls down, it might be really heavy and we don't want it to fall on him (silas) and break him. cause he's really cute." -sept. 4

me: "so when we're cold and hungry or when someone takes our things, we can still praise the Lord!"
sp: "yeah cause maybe those were old toys and we didn't want them and somebody takes them, so we praise Him!" -sept. 5

(playing store with sparrow)
me: "i will buy some strawberries and a banana so i have food on my journey."
sp: "and here's some butterfly meat. the dog meat is one dollar, but we're living in mexico." -sept. 5

golden woke up from her nap and searched the house. she came to me with tears in her huge blue eyes and said sadly, "i can't find it, the daddy." -sept. 9

golden's abc's: "ABCDEDG, HIJJ ellenono P. QRS, Y and Z, now I know my ABC's, HIJK ellenono P. QRS, Y and Z, now i know my ABC's, HIJJ ellenono P..." (on and on and on!) -sept. 10 and beyond

"you can pull your own hair." (sparrow to golden) -sept. 13

"roll it up, the panties." -golden, when she *pulls* up her panties. (potty training!) -sept. 14

we went to the pediatrician, and they had me do an assessment with each of the girls to see where they are at developmentally. on one of the questions i was doing with golden, there were five little pictures: a cat, dog, bird, horse, and man, all in a row. you are supposed to point to each one and see if your child can identify them. golden: "kitty!...doggie!...birdie!...horsie!.................Jesus!" -sept. 15

golden has finally been completely potty trained (except for the occasional night accident) and it is so funny to watch her enthusiasm for going potty. every single time she has to pee, she calls out, "gotta pee 'gain!" it is apparently never the first time that she has to pee. it's ALWAYS "again."

apparently there is an imaginary bagel that interacts with the girls. golden runs through the house yelling, "bagel, bagel, bagel!" the other day sparrow asked me if "that bagel" were still around.
me: "what bagel?"
sp: "the one that always chases golden around the house!" (oh, of COURSE! that one!)

golden was having a whining episode at dinner time and i was talking to her about her grumpy attitude.
me: "where's your happy smile?"
golden pauses and then painstakingly forces the most cheesy smile, and says,
"i found it!" -sept. 14

sp: "i wish my teeth were curly." -sept. 20

sp: "yesterday when daddy left, i missed him the badliest of ANY missing!" -sept. 21

sparrow calling after daddy in the morning:
"bye bye! feel safe!" -sept. 22

me: "let's draw a landscape today. do you know what a landscape is?"
sp: "yeah. if there's flowers in somebody's yard and you pick them, that's a landscape."
after a little time of discussing landscapes, golden points to her drawing and says,
"look, lamb cakes!" -sept. 22

sp: "is GOD a jolly good fellow, or is JESUS a jolly good fellow?" (she thought that song was a hymn! love!) -sept. 24

sp: "sometimes, if somebody's gentle and nice to you, you can say, 'no thank you, i can be nice to myself.'" -sept. 28

sp: "i think it's so amazing that we live."
me: "it IS amazing! what made you think of that just now?"
sp: "because when i was asleep, i didn't notice that i live." -sept. 29

me: "daddy has a pretty cool job. he gets to teach dance all day. but do you wanna know a secret? i have an even better job, because i get to be your mommy all day long!"
sp: "i get to be your special one all day long." -sept. 29

sp: "goliath and the devil should be cursed. they should be cursed with a sword, cause they're badder than sin." -sept. 30

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

why i love living in the middle of nowhere

when i first thought of moving back here, i was apprehensive about it being so far out, and so hot. after living in the vibrant, beautiful, and socially savvy community of santa barbara, CA for the past seven years, i thought i would go semi-crazy living back in the desert. but God truly brought me to a place where i craved to be here. and the Word says that "a desire fulfilled is a tree of life." a good desire, given me by the Lord. arizona has been wonderful for our family so far. let me count the ways.

1. it is cheap. we were especially blessed to find a house for rent that is especially affordable. (and did i mention it is huge? it is 4-bedrooms and 2 bathrooms in all, which is actually way too much space for us five, and we rarely use the "apartment" side of the house. mainly it is a storage area, but we do have plans to turn it into some sort of dance/art studio if possible.) it is SO nice to live life without scraping and scrounging to pay a basic thing like rent--WAY overly inflated rent. what a lot of stress that used to be!

2. it is conservative. it is so refreshing to have neighbors in the neighborhood and in the grocery line who understand our views of the government and society!

3. speaking of neighbors, we have wonderful neighbors. almost too good to be true. they let us borrow their car, give us needed items all the time, set up our internet for us, supported us from their church, paid our first few months of bills, go on evening walks with us, have us over to dinner, give us any advice and help we might need to make life here simpler, AND have children that are the same ages as ours! (yes, we are not REALLY out in the middle of nowhere. we have no stores, but we still have neighbors.)

4. less distractions. it is SO freeing to live a simpler life. and being our here affords far less opportunity to get distracted with things other than home and family. when i am in a fun town or big city, there are always things i want to check out, explore, and experience. here, there IS no cool coffee shop i want to try, so i stay home, to the betterment of my children's lives. they don't need more parks and stuff to do. they need me. here. and happy to be with THEM. and i am! so thankful for the help God has given me in this by setting me out here on my "homestead." He is giving me a new mindset that i am sure will grow stronger until i can keep it anywhere!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

july/ august quotes

"bear was the disobeyer." -sp. july 10

"mom, i don't like it when people sing happy birthday to me. i just like to sing it to everyone else. so could you tell all the people in the world not to do that to me? cause all the people in the world might take turns doing that." -sparrow, july 11

sp: "can i have some ice water?"
me: "no, there isn't any ice; there's something wrong with the ice maker."
sp: "well, we could HUNT for some!" -july 16

"golden, cheese is NOT animal. grows on trees." -sparrow, aug. 4th

me: "it's so green outside! how pretty."
sp: "well i think it should be pink outside." -aug. 11

me: "shoot, i ran a red light, i hope i don't get a ticket!"
sp: "the kind of ticket you get to go somewhere special?" -aug. 18

golden's funny words:
"bike-issle" (bicycle)
"hanguber" (hamburger)
"bili cord" (umbilical cord)

also, the other day the girls were eating yogurt. all of a sudden golden looked down and noticed she had spilled copious amounts on her dress. her immediate response: "oh gu'ness!"

her first complete sentence, i believe, was on july 21st:
"my clippy fell down!" she does talk a lot and can go on and on, she prays sweetly listing people every evening, but usually she leaves out some connective words between her thoughts, so i was surprised to hear that sentence with each word in its proper place!

Golden praying:
"lissa and uncle reesa and gino, and grampa ceci, and..."
(melissa and cousin teresa and cousin gino and grampa jim who lives with auntie ceci...) -aug.11

"i know, i could marry silas!" -sp., aug. 22

(excitedly, full of wonder)
"oh! HE smells like PIZZA!" -sp. aug. 24

"does God have a cell phone? ...a really big one?" -sp. aug. 24

looking at silas,
"mom, i'm glad he didn't break when i leaned on your belly." -aug. 24

Sunday, September 5, 2010

born yesterday

ok, so he wasn't really born yesterday, but that little phrase expresses so much to me right now. when you have a baby you are instantly brought back to the amazing fragility and wonder of life, and are thrown into an awe-state that is all wrapped up in the newness of this child: the tiny body which was there inside you but concealed for all that time, the fresh-sparked soul, and all the delicate unknowns about the life journey to come. it is hard to think about. really, really thinking about life usually makes me end up in tears. it is easier to brush off the cosmic breath with the pressing things of everyday life, with distractions and amusements... part of me wants to be a native american nature dweller right now, digging for roots and hunting the deer as i think on all this, instead of dishing up bowls of cheerios every morning inside these four walls. but there is the Spirit, and He still speaks whether you are in or out, so here i am, fulfilling my duties, and snatching moments of spirit-depth before the vulnerable newness grows into its path of solid branches.

the end of pregnancy was hard this time around. i have never bothered much about the classic complaints of the third trimester, because to me anything is so much better than being nauseous all the time, as during my first trimesters. but this time it was hard in a spiritual sense; i felt hot and irritated most of the time, and i was overly harsh with my girls a lot, which grieves me to think about. not knowing an exact due date was a challenge as well; i was pretty sure it was the middle of august, but as days went past that, i began to fear i might go all the way into september, grunting every time i had to pick up the kitchen cloths off the floor AGAIN and waddling about in my rotation of two and a half outfits day after day...

thomas had come back on the 13th, and being relieved that he would not be missing the birth, we breathed a bit easier as we settled down to wait. i had a couple of false starts. one evening i sat down to write my sister an email and suddenly pains came on so strong that i couldn't write. i went to bed... and woke up to my 6 am alarm, disappointed that i would be doing a pilates video workout instead of a uterine one which resulted in holding a baby in my arms. wednesday the 18th i was also having fairly strong contractions in the evening. i got sparrow's dance bag all ready for the following day, just in case i wasn't there to pack it, and went to bed... again waking up to a pilates workout. tired of working out, and having recently cleaned the bathrooms, i was so ready for baby now that i told sparrow on thurs. evening that tonight might be the night. she prayed before bed that the baby would come out tonight, and sure enough... this time i woke up at 3 am to contractions!

my labors have always started while i was sleeping. part of how i know it's real is if the contractions wake me up. i never do believe the labor if it is kicking in during the daytime, or before i've gone to sleep for the night. the first thing i like to do when i know i am in real labor is take a shower. i can't stand the thought of giving birth to a baby while having greasy hair. ok, my first labor i delayed the shower, but that is because i didn't know how fast labor was going to go! now i know. they are not going to dawdle on for 24 hours, if i want clean hair, i've gotta get it NOW. so i lit some candles and thoroughly enjoyed the freshness of dr. bronner's peppermint hemp soap as the water ran over me and i swayed to the rhythm of my labor. once out, i woke up thomas. THE PLAN was to leave ASAP and do most of the labor in the hospital this time, as the speed of the labor was totally unpredictable, and the distance to the hospital was MUCH greater this time than either of my previous experiences. we ate some toast with peanut butter and bananas as we packed, some chocolate yogurt--the hospital does not allow you to eat once admitted. the weirdest thing was that we could not find the "listening" half of our baby monitor! i SWEAR i put both pieces into the top drawer of the tall dresser in the girls' room, but we searched and searched between contractions, and only the "transmission" side was there. THE PLAN for the girls was to have abby kugler (staying in our attached apt.) listen to the monitor til morning as she slept, then bring them over to omi/monty's in the AM. i even called and woke up poor monty to see if he had a baby monitor, but no go.(oh yes, i did wake him up, but they are also missing parts of their monitor.) so when we were almost ready, we knocked on kugler's door, and abby ended up coming over and sleeping on the couch. poor woman!!! she was going to have to go manage the wycliffe conference tomorrow, and here she was all cheerful at 4 am with her pillow! i love that woman.

so thomas and i high tailed it out of there and i kept having to tell him "GENTLY!" over the speed bumps. whoo! my contractions were three or so minutes apart, but relaxed in the car somewhat, and got further apart when we got to the hospital. i tell you, it was so much more bearable being in the car without being in pushing stage! we called dr. westerband's office because there were a few things i had discussed with her that were outside of normal hospital protocol, and she was the one that would have to give them the directives concerning me. (she said no routine IV would be ok, and that i could deliver lying on my side.) however, dr. w's office did not pick up the phone! it rang and rang. they are supposed to have a 24-hour answering service! i called the hospital back and they said that oh yes, dr. w. was not on call tonight, and i would be assigned to a random doctor. what?! that can happen here??!!?? i was a bit apprehensive and miffed. what if the other dr. was a male who did not respect the woman's power to labor? what if they now insisted that i be connected to an iv? NOT the ideal situation! i didn't expect my doctor to leave me in the dust during the final stretch here. actually, continuity of care has been shown to have better outcomes for baby and mother. but oh well, no turning back now.

once we got to the hospital, the flood of paperwork began. oh yes. admission. then triage (where they made me put on a hospital gown and checked me to see if i was really in labor. i was 7 cm dilated!) then i got to walk to labor and delivery and my nurse spent 5 minutes trying to stab a hep lock needle into my vein, jabbing my bone repeatedly (it is still sore two weeks later!). that was definitely one of the worst parts. she was trying to stab it into one of the most obscure veins in my arm, which is baffling! I HAVE GOOD VEINS! i have NEVER had them try to stick it into a side vein like that before. it has always been no sweat. aaaaaaanyways... they brought me a labor ball, and strapped me to the fetal monitor, and the fun of waiting began. poor thomas was extremely tired after his long day at work, and i kept employing him as a double hip squeezer for every single contraction. we also made sure i drank tons of water so an IV wouldn't be necessary. but it really was a waiting game. i did spend some time on the toilet which must have helped me to progress, but other than that i did not move much or do much to work with my labor. i had been reading "natural childbirth the bradley way" a few days before, and just kept remembering the emphasis on the importance of totally relaxing your belly, so that is pretty much all i focused on this labor. trying to totally relax my belly with every contraction. i spent time draped over the birth ball which was on the bed, i spent time just sitting on the bed, also toward the end, leaning my head into thomas who was sitting in front of me for part of the time, and toward the end i was up on the bed kneeling and clasping the top part of the bed which they had put all the way up for me. i didn't even look at the nurse when a new shift came in. i didn't know what she looked like til after the birth, haha! but still it was frustrating because i swear they had me signing papers, answering questions, getting tested, and getting fingerprinted the WHOLE time i was there laboring, right up until the end! sheesh! when you ask a woman in active labor a question that requires an intellectual response, you pull her out of her active labor every time! i am baffled that they don't know that and am positive that had i been left alone to get into it more, it would have gone faster, and i would have perceived less pain. because it WAS painful. it was hard. i felt like i was in transition for about an hour and a half! toward the end there were some high blood pressure readings and they were concerned i was getting preeclampsia, so they took my blood and tested me. it came back negative. the blood pressure was also reading normal again. turned out to be a funky bp machine. ah, technology!

anyhow, pretty early on we got to meet the doctor that was on call tonight instead of westerband. her name was dr. gillespie, and yes, it was a woman! when she came in, i was immediately put at ease. she was young-ish, in her 30s perhaps, and looked a bit like jerusha gittlen. she was wearing a little silver cross on her necklace, and a kind, open smile. she allowed me to labor without an IV, and when i asked her about a possible side lying delivery, she said ok in such an agreeable and unhesitating manner that i became even bolder and asked, "...or hands-and-knees?" "sure," she said right away. and became immediately one of my favorite strangers in the world. even dr. westerband said she would get too turned around if i was on hands and knees, so to keep it on the side. i hit the jackpot with this dr. gillespie! i also asked her to put counter pressure on while baby was coming out, and to remind me to push slowly while crowning, cause they usu. shoot out so fast that i tear, and she agreed to that as well. i'm serious, she was the coolest!

i finally started feeling the first inklings of pushiness around...7:30, 7:45-ish. the contractions were coming a bit slower now, more sitting in between. the doctor came in and checked me. 9 cm. 9 cm!!!! see why checking is so discouraging/deceptive? when they told me i was 7 at admission, i thought, i'm almost done! more than 3 hours later, i had only progressed 2 cm! but i am sure that the whole checking/ belly monitor/ question asking caused me to slow, or even regress somewhat before i moved on. anyway, gillespie asked me if i wanted her to break my water. i said no. she then asked me not to push through my contractions for now, so i just blew and moo-ed for awhile until i told the nurse it was unbearable not to push, i couldn't help myself. she called the dr. in again and this time i was complete. i was still hugging the back of the bed, up on my knees, with my back toward everyone, and i had no desire to move. and i was pushing! ah, glorious pushing, it's my favorite part! it is A) perceived (by me) to be more productive than any other stage because it requires more active participation, and B) so encouraging because you KNOW the baby is almost here, it's almost over! my water broke with the first push.  the baby came out with the 2nd. the dr. coached me beautifully and provided the needed counter pressure. i definitely felt the "ring of fire" this time more than with my 1st two births. the head was coming out, and the contraction was ending. i stopped pushing, willing to wait for the next one, just to be sure i was pushing slow enough, but the dr. said, "keep pushing," so i pushed slowly through the end of the contraction, and the head came all the way out, and the body followed! 8:13 AM. what i had been growing in there for 9 months, my mystery, was here! "it's a boy!" they said. "IT'S OUT!" i thought. OH how wonderful to have this surprise come out and be so perfect! he was perfect! i pulled my shirt off and flipped over, reaching over the crazy bloody bed; they handed me the warm, squiggly body, blue curly cord trailing behind...

they clamped the cord right away, i asked if they could wait when i saw them doing it, but the dr. and nurse both immediately said, "no" and "we have to do it now." a bit surprising, but it was a minor thing after such a beautiful emergence that i didn't sweat it. thomas cut the cord. they suctioned him while he was on my belly. threw warm blankets on us. i just lay there relieved. thomas was stunned to have a son. we were both actually SO surprised! "i have begotten a man child with the help of the Lord!" (thomas is still getting used to it; he keeps referring to the baby as "she" and "her." we just laugh.) i put the baby to my breast right away this time. with my girls, i had waited to nurse, just placing them on my belly and letting them "crawl" up to find the milk for themselves. my philosophy on this has changed. yes, they CAN crawl up to find the breast at newborn, and it is really cool to see, but i have learned more about WHO I AM as MOTHER, who God made me, and what that means. part of my job is NOURISHER, and i have realized that me taking initiative to FEED my child is the right thing to do. i don't know how much it affects the child later on, if at all, but God gave ME the authority of motherhood, and they are not motherless. they don't have to be independently finding their food. the boy child latched on right away and began to suckle. it was a satisfying feeling.

they did give me pitocin in an IV pretty immediately to contract my uterus and stop the bleeding, which i would have preferred to avoid, (i think it cancels out some of the natural oxytocin that makes you fall in LOVE) but i was so happy with the birth that i didn't protest. i just looked at my boy child and laughed. gillespie checked me, and: NO TEARS! praise Jesus, i had thought it impossible. thomas got to hold his son after about 1/2 hour. then he made ready to go home for awhile, he wanted to see the girls, and i told him to feel free to take a nap. today was his day off!! i just sat there with my boy and praised God. and texted the world! i wolfed down a piece of french toast. i tried to sleep, but the pillows were impossibly uncomfortable. texted thomas: "bring pillows."  i finally acknowledged my nurse, Cathi, who turned out to be this awesome on-fire Christian! she told me her whole testimony, which was pretty radical, divorce, conviction by the HS, getting back together with her husband, he coming to the Lord DAYS before dying of a massive heart attack. she goes to a church with a messianic Jewish pastor, (i'd like to visit it sometime) and listens to all the calvary preachers on the radio, incl. the one who teaches at the church we've been attending in oro valley. she really was a sweetheart. i wish she would have remembered better what it is like to be in active labor!!!!!!!!!!!! but God obviously blessed us through one another that morning. AND she rescued my placenta from the trash. at last i took a shower, got a patronizing talk from a pediatrician about the vitamin-k shot, and my baby had his bath too (with the CA baby "tea tree and lavender" soap i had brought in). lauren came to see me on her lunch break and brought me a latte! whew! i REALLY wanted that coffee! it was so great to see her. soon after came mrs. graham with aunt trina, emily, omi, sparrow, golden, david, and danielle. the hospital staff weeded out d&d because they were non-related children =( but the others got to stay and help me transfer (at last) to the postpartum room, with a parade of balloons and presents. it was wonderful to have visitors. the girls took to their baby brother immediately, golden acted like she knew what it was going to be the whole time: "baby broder," she kept saying, and sparrow got to hold him on the bed.  soon thomas came back as well and stayed for awhile before going off to run some errands for me. i saw him again later that night and we sat down to discuss the question of our son's name. my sad discovery was that "youngblood," my long-favored name for a boy, is from jungbluth, german, and means "impetuous young man." impetuous?! impetuous???!!!??? really? does it have to??? ...we certainly couldn't speak that over our child. and besides, thomas was not so keen on the name anyways, so... i guess it was a good thing i decided to let it go. we had several options on the table: cyrus, blue, peregrin, strongbow (mine! i guess i am partial to warrior-sounding names), but decided in the end on Silas, at thomas' suggestion. i hadn't thought of it, but when he mentioned it, i thought "yes!" right away. and we had prayed a lot during the pregnancy about God giving us the right name. Silas Arrow. Silas means "forest" from greek "sylvanus." there are a lot of good spiritual connotations for forests, trees, etc. and i love that Silas in the Bible was a missionary and prophet. as for Arrow, thomas has always had that name in mind, and well, we are hoping for our quiver full of arrows! (Psalm 127.) God wants arrows for the battle!

"Listen to Me, O islands,
         And pay attention, you peoples from afar
         The LORD called Me from the womb;
         From the body of My mother He named Me.
    He has made My mouth like a sharp sword,
         In the shadow of His hand He has concealed Me;
         And He has also made Me a select arrow,
         He has hidden Me in His quiver."  Isaiah 49: 1-2

Silas Arrow McDonnell, Aug. 20, 2010, 7lbs 9 oz., 20"long

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


ok, placentas can be a bit intimidating. first there is the weirdness of an inanimate slab of meat hung by umbilical cord coming out of you. second there is all the blood and veins surrounding it, and then there is the question of what to do with it. so many options! but for me, the fascination factor overpowers the grossness factors, and after letting sparrow's placenta go to waste in my doula's freezer for about two years before i think she finally threw it away (i JUST couldn't decide how to enjoy it!), i went turbo with golden's and cooked it up with onions and garlic and ate the whole thing in two sittings! this time, i wanted to try dehydrating/encapsulating the nutritive mystery meat for a more spread-out release of the benefits (not to mention more user-friendly consumption).

now let me just observe that people are uncomfortable with placenta consumption because, presumably, of where it comes from. it comes out of a...crazy...kind of place. you want to eat that?? i'd like to remind everyone that the BABY came out of that same place, and we don't hesitate to kiss and smell and coo over it, even though it has not been sanitized by cooking, and has far less nutritional benefits. for that matter, YOU came out of that place. if you think eating placenta is gross, i think you're gross. 

on the night of august 22, the placenta was on the verge of turning 3 days old. now or never, i decided. at midnight i entered the kitchen prepared for a late-night tussle with the steak of my son's in-utero provision. i know i am supposed to start going to bed early, but...that's just going to have to start tomorrow! i recalled from golden's placenta that the process of dealing with the membranes can be very time-consuming, bloody, and frustrating. however, was in for several nice surprises and two nasty surprises.

the online tutorial i was using came from the cafe mom website, from a cindy collins. most grateful to her and to the internet. here is the approximate process:

step 1:  prep the prep area. get out all supplies. cover counter with newspaper (or paper bags) to help minimize cleanup.
the iced tea and dark chocolate are for personal fortification, prior to beginning. for some, a glass of vodka may be more appropriate?
2. rinse placenta in colander in sink and stab while rinsing to "bleed." (nice surprise #1: LOTS LESS BLOOD when you bleed/rinse beforehand! hello! why didn't the "cook it up like liver" tutorial tell me this last go-around? AVOID excessive trauma by adhering to step #2!)

3. sever cord at base (i used kitchen shears. i love them.)

4. "wrap placenta membrane fetal side around placenta into a ball." er... what? fetal side? ball? hm... my placenta's membranes seemed to be somehow already cut and partially separated from the placenta anyways, so this step was a no-go for me. i ended up cutting off the excess membrane and dealing with a partially-membraned organism, hoping for the best. (nice surprise #2: not having to remove all the membranes from the meat this time! that was the worst, remembering the last experience...)

5. place fresh lemon and fresh ginger in steaming water and steam placenta 15 mins. each side. huh. i had no lemon and no ginger. i did, however, have limes. the ginger is optional anyways. ...right? (nasty surprise #1: my steamer! it has a big skewer with a metal ring coming out the middle! i had to cut a slit thru the middle of the placenta in order to stab the skewer/ring through it. the worst was not realized until post-steaming: the placenta had shrunk and tightened to an astonishing degree, becoming stuck onto the skewer! in fact, i could not turn it over after 15 minutes; i had to steam it on one side for 30 mins. instead. then let it cool a bit before i wrestled it off the skewer.)

12:24 AM--what's cooking in mom's kitchen

6. slice thinly and dehydrate. set oven (toaster oven) to lowest temperature. should take 6-8 hours. (no... mine took about 34. the 6-8 hours must have been for a professional dehydrator only.)

7. have fun cleaning the utensils! (nasty surprise #2: steaming a placenta creates some majorly adhesive residue! i will never, never put a placenta into that type of leaf-folding steamer again. ever. nope.)

8. grind to powder in food processor. (yet to be done. the pieces are looking like beef jerky right about now, being stored for the time when i have time...)

9. fill empty capsules with placenta powder. take 3 capsules twice daily for 1st week and 2 capsules twice daily for 2nd week. store in freezer! (storage tip from my doula friend, not online.)

10. enjoy feeling like SUPERWOMAN.

Monday, August 16, 2010

golden's 2nd birthday

august 7th was a saturday, a beautiful day on which we celebrated the 2nd anniversary of our sunny golden child's arrival in our family!

sparrow and i had been plotting special birthday things and looking forward to them for quite some time. she had gotten five dollars out of her piggy bank to buy a special gift for her sister: a princess accessory set with a tiara, a necklace, earrings, and fancy heeled slippers. the night before the birthday, she got to stay up extra late with me to wrap it in a special way. it was going to be golden's breakfast gift. (in germany we have a tradition of giving gifts to the birthday person at breakfast time.)

golden and sparrow almost had the same joy when she opened it! we had had a rare "fancy" breakfast of pancakes (instead of the usual joe's o's cereal) and then sparrow got the gift out of the closet and presented it to the little one. oh what joy! i think golden wore those huge cinderella slippers for most of the day! we had gotten sparrow's out of storage too, so they traipsed about the house together clacking their plastic heels.

i decided to have a little toenail-painting session with the princesses as i took a break from cupcake baking (box mix!) and cleaning/getting ready for the party we were having that afternoon.  i have tried to stay away from nail polish because i think it is not good to give young children too much "grown-up" stuff to become vain over, on a regular basis. but every once in awhile, it is ok to do something rare and special, even if it involves breathing in fumes. they were so tickled! we chose a nice sparkly blue and boy, were they proud of their toes! i did mine too, of course.

during golden's nap, i let sparrow stay up and help me color the frosting for the cupcakes and put sprinkles on them. the theme was "colorful"--i had found the cutest fans and paper globes for decorations on clearance at target--they ALL cost me only about a dollar! they had deep, strong solid summer colors, so i made the cup cakes to match. we also colored the fruit dip and made the soy milk pink.

the children showed up shortly after three pm: annie and her adelin, plus baby abrina. auntie emily. auntie omi and her danielle and david. i had tried to keep it very small and very simple this year, because i have realized that children don't really care if they only have a cupcake, a $3 toy, and two friends over. we break our backs and our banks to invite 45 people, and the birthday girl ends up clinging to you because of all the strangers.

the children were quite exuberant and golden had LOTS of help blowing out candles and opening presents... thomas called from san francisco just before we sang happy birthday, so i put him on speakerphone, and he got to sing along. golden got lots of cool little presents, and i so appreciate not having a huge pileful of new toys to find a place for! she got sidewalk chalk and crayons and flower wall stickers and new sunday shoes (from me) and an art apron and craft jewels, things like that. we had such a good time! i broke my sugar fast for a day and had some cupcake and ice cream, luxurious!

golden, on your 2nd birthday--
every day we are more delighted and amazed at how much laughter and sweetness you add to our home. we feel so special that God gave you to us, and are blessed to be chosen to take care of you and love you. you love to share with others, you love to help, and you want to take care of us all. if mommy says she needs her shoes, you hurry to find them for me, and when i remind you to be sweet, you love to comply. you also love to be funny and silly, and your laugh is one of the most beautiful sounds i've ever heard. you can already pray with sincerity for others. always remember this habit and this sincerity, and God will make your heart overflow with love. you are an anointed, sparkly golden one. God has set you apart for Him, so shine! love, mommy