One could go on and on forever talking about anything, but I'll just touch on it here.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Paying for Your Imagination

A punch of the air with my feet and palms propels me fifty feet above the children's heads. They stare up at me, whistle admiration, and ask to learn how to do as I do. 

The latest flying dream. Memory tells me that I fly in my dreams at least once or twice a year. Perhaps I flew more often in my childhood. Perhaps that's because I also flew in the daytime then. 

I'm not convinced that adults, in general, lose their imaginations; they put them on a type of layaway. They promise themselves that when they save up enough time, then they will get back to creativity and play. But time is spent doing the necessary grown-up occupations that, if ignored, would cause a lot of trouble. Soon, adults are in the red and imagination gets dusty on the shelf. Or, worse, it gets put out on the rack for someone else to buy. Sad truth is, few people buy it. 

Secret Santas get recognized in the news every Christmas season because they pay for strangers' items that are on layaway. If I had a million dollars—or half a billion if I chose the winning number for tonight's Mega Million jackpot draw—I would go buy all the imagination that is on layaway. Then I would give it back to every sad-faced, weary, dreary, overworked, stressed, depressed, bored grown up out there. Maybe then they would smile more, laugh more, play more. Maybe then they would create and share and give such as never before. 

I suppose I should do what I am able to—since I have not the wealth of Bill Gates—and rescue my own imagination, support my husband's, and feed my son's. I should fly while the cage door is open instead of locking it shut. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Conscious Stream of Thoughts by Unconscious Zombie Mother

A buzzing. Thoughts of Pooh and bees. No. Must open eyes. Must move. Can't. Must cover the baby. What? Who? Coming up the stairs. No, my husband left for work. Did he lock the door? Oh the neck twinges. Once, I had a pillow under my head. Sweaty baby fingers find my hair and pull a little. Sniff. Sniff. Suck. Suck. Then the fog consumes. Where? How? Swishing sound like a winter coat on a moving body. Wait. No one's there. He's crying. Still asleep. I have to finish the laundry, clean the toilet. Paris? I can take a train to Paris? But should I go tonight? Alone? Seriously. Now my nose has trouble breathing, too. Not fair; he took NyQuil! Wow, baby feet are so cold! I must warm them up. You just ate. Now too hot. Sleep. Sleep again. Shhh, shhh, shhh. Someone's at the door; I'm sure of it! Still in my pajamas. But it's dark, dark, dark inside and out. We don't have a dog. Why is the dog barking? Or is the baby crying? No. He's asleep again. What is that sound? All I had to eat was hot chocolate and graham crackers. Of course I'll get sick too. Is it Friday or Tuesday? This sweater. This sweater hasn't seen the washing machine in days. Something crusty on the shoulder. Just five more minutes and then I will get to that list. Still that buzzing. . . .

"Tah, tah, tah."

Hello, sweet one! Yes, that's my nose. OK. OK. We can do this.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Visiting the Hundred Acre Wood

My son and I take lots of trips together. When he was but days old we visited Africa and the endless desert and met a boy there who was from another planet. Weeks later, we trekked through the Appalachians and also traveled by boat, encountered a giant bear, and listened to the story of Pi. And a few days ago, we gathered pinecones in the Hundred Acre Wood, stopped by Pooh Corner, and went on a grand "Expotition" to the North Pole. I had been to most of these places before, but not for ages. Taking Geddy made the journeys more real than I have ever imagined. And I have always had a healthy imagination. Or at least I did when I was young.

The favorite trip by far, and one that we will take again and again, was to see Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga and Roo, Tigger, and Christopher Robin. I've known these characters since I was quite small–perhaps not as small as Small, Rabbit's relation, but since before I could read. Geddy and I took our trip by the same route that I've always taken–through the battered paperbacks my dad gave to me for my 4th birthday.

We watched Pooh sail in the air pretending to be a rain cloud, then get stuck in Rabbit's front door because he ate too much honey. Piglet showed us how a "Very Small Animal" can be a hero when he got out of Owl's wrecked home and went for help. When poor Eeyore lost his tail, we cheered that he found his smile when Christopher Robin pinned the tail on him again. Rabbit tried to get Kanga and Roo to leave but ended up becoming Roo's best buddy, and for that we were very glad because Roo is a very happy little guy. When Rabbit also tried to lose Tigger, er, make him less bouncy, we laughed because Tigger found a very lost Rabbit and also won his friendship. Owl taught us how to spell his name: WOL, and Christopher Robin shared his "silly old Bear" with us while he was gone to school.

No matter how old we get, or how many years go by, we can always go back to visit Pooh and friends because "in that enchanted place on the top of the Forest, a little boy and his Bear will always be playing."

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The Animal Kingdom Mom Support Group

Raising a child seems to come naturally to most mothers of the animal kingdom. I'm not sure how it works in the forests, the jungles, the deserts, but mothers just seem to know about feeding and protecting and teaching their young. Instinct. Yet humans, though self-proclaimed "Animals of Very Much Brain," spend a lot of time and money on instructing the moms of their species on what to do with babies and children. And even then, many, many moms (including this one) freak out about their grinning, sniveling, pooping, laughing, spitting, gurgling, howling, hugging offspring. You don't hear camels and hyenas stressing over whether their young are hitting the developmental milestones at the right time.

Then again, I could be wrong. Maybe all animal moms need help and advice from strangers at the grocery store / watering hole, the best-seller lists at the book store, and the endless websites online. OK, not sure what the animal equivalents would be for those last two. But what if animal moms have support groups, or weekly gatherings, where they talk over their child-rearing challenges? Perhaps it goes something like this:

Koala Mom 1: I only slept 20 hours yesterday instead of 22! Joey just would not settle down! I am so exhausted!

Koala Mom 2: I had the same problem with my Joey when he was that age. I tried wrapping him in eucalyptus leaves for 30 minutes after he would wake up. Worked like a charm!


Ostrich Mom 1: Little Chick is always stretching his neck up to the sky and never wants to bury his head in the sand. I'm worried about him.

Ostrich Mom 2: My cousin's Chick goes to a special school for that. I could get you the number. *


Blue Whale Mom 1: (to Mom 2) Your calf is looking a little peaked there. Are you sure he's getting enough milk?

Blue Whale Mom 2: He only gained 180 pounds yesterday, but the doctor said not to worry. Well you know me, I did worry! But I've weighed him three times today and gave him an extra feeding, and as of lunchtime he had already put on 190 pounds, so I think he'll reach the average by tonight.


Giraffe Mom 1: Stretch isn't living up to his name. His neck is 6 inches shorter than those of his friends.

Giraffe Mom 2: My Skye has the opposite problem. He's always getting his neck tangled in the tops of the trees.

Giraffe Mom 3: I read that it's all about how far they had to fall when they were born. The new recommendation is that mothers give birth while standing over a hole if the parents have short necks. If there is a fear that the baby will have too long of a neck, the mother should give birth over a pile of leaves.


Fox Mom 1: Kit started making this ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding noise.

Fox Mom 2: That's better than mine. He's saying fraka-kaka-kaka-kaka-kow. He learned it from his friends at school.

Fox Mom 3: I think I'll homeschool.


Well, this human mom has to go change her offspring's poopy diaper. She just changed a poopy diaper five minutes ago. Do you think said offspring is sick? Should this mom research it online? Isn't there a book about poop? Maybe she should just clean him and stop worrying!

Photo credit: Creative Commons: belgianchocolate

*Yes, I know that ostriches don't bury their heads in the sand. Laugh with me. :)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Don't Let it Come out Your Nose!

Luke and I started having a discussion last night about all those phrases our parents used to say–and still do–and that all well-meaning people say but that are totally unnecessary phrases if you think about it. I mean, yes, I say them all the time just because that's what we say. As if we believe that we MUST say these words or the worst of the worst will happen. But seriously. Think about it.

Drive safe! (Well I was going to crash into a tree, but you're right I should stay safe.)
Don't burn yourself! (OK, now that you mention it, I will NOT stick my hand into this pot of boiling water.)
Don't cut yourself! (Really? I was going to chop off part of my finger and put it in the salad, but you know, maybe I won't do that now.)
To a shy or introverted child: Don't talk to strangers! (Mom, I don't talk to people I know, but I was going to go up to that man with the puppy and candy and tell him my name, phone number, and address. Now I'm having second thoughts.)
To a teenage daughter: Have a good time at the party! (But all my friends will be there! OK, you're right; I should just enjoy it.)
Don't knock it over! (But I really wanted to spill grape juice on the carpet and get grounded! Fine. I'll drink it instead.)
Don't trip! (It's so tempting to just bust my toe and fall on my face, but I guess I could find something better to do.)
Don't slip! (But that's the best part about walking on ice across a busy street with cars driven by people who drive as if they don't know that it's winter!)
Don't fall off the roof! (But I was hoping to so that I wouldn't have to clean out the gutters.)
Don't cut your arm off! (But it would be so much more fun to spend the day in the ER instead of trimming the shrubs with a chainsaw!) (Our house not long ago.)
Don't forget to always wear clean underwear in case you get in an accident! (Cause otherwise just go ahead and wear the same pair for three days. But really, how will I keep it clean once I've been in the accident?)
Don't poke your eye out! (Classic.)

I'm sure we will tell Geddy some of these advice gems and then slap ourselves for being like our parents, but for now the only one I'm really telling Geddy is:

Don't let the milk come out your nose!

He's in the habit lately of getting very distracted while eating and he often likes to bend over backwards on my lap and look around and see if Daddy or anyone is watching him. He loves attention. (Not sure he will be shy, so the talking to strangers bit will be useful.)

Once, not long after he had eaten, he was on the floor on his back and I was up by his head. He tilted his head back to look at me and then spit up. He was soon sputtering and coughing and milk was streaming out his nose. His eyes were watering. I freaked and quickly turned him on his side and then picked him up, expecting him to cry and be very upset. What did he do next? He laughed! Silly Mommy! Having it come out my nose gets me lots of attention!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Poetic Meditation

Inside, a Star Burns

Inside, a star burns.
Indigestion sears my throat,
makes memories twinkle
as hot sparklers poking
their fire through my ears, nose.
My eyes aflame,
it grows, expands, begins.

Or does it end,
light years ago, inside me?
A roasting seed,
planted when I first took breath,
never to be born under the sun.

I am its black hole.

Creative Commons: Judy Schmidt

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Dusting My Thoughts

Most of the time I could do without chores. Cleaning the bathroom and vacuuming hit the top of my list of least favorite activities (oh, and grocery shopping). But want to know what pretty much never happens here? Dusting. Sometimes I see the dust and then remember that I should do something about it, so I wipe the top of the speakers with my sweatshirt. Yeah, while I'm wearing it. Then I forget about it all for another month or so.

I'm a little too particular about cleaning up my brain lint, however. I can't stand to have cluttered, "dusty," disorganized thoughts. So I'm constantly going through them, wiping them down, and putting them in rows, columns, and alphabetized files in my head. But I can't seem to let some get so dusty that I swipe them from existence. I find this highly irritating about myself. Why do I need to hold onto that stupid memory of something I did or said that I regret? It's like keeping a half-eaten sandwich bought in the airport that I will never finish because it's gross but I feel bad about throwing it away because I paid a good load of money for it. Why do I need to go over and over my list for the coming day while I'm feeding my son at 1:00 AM? And then, when the day is over and I admit that I missed completing some items on my list, why do I have to re categorize them to fit the following day's schedule?

All this mental maintenance causes me to sometimes want to sell everything and move to a bark hut. OK, I would miss electricity, and running water, and, hey, how would I post to my blog? And just because I was suddenly out in the middle of nowhere doesn't mean I wouldn't constantly be going over how bad I felt when I didn't smile at the friendly little chipmunk and maybe I should go take him some treats. Dang it! It's 1:00 AM and I didn't make peanut clusters for little Chip–or Dale–I must do that tomorrow. File under P.

Well, becoming an adult brought a lot of responsibility with it (funny, I don't remember saying when I was little that I wanted to be an adult when I grew up.), and becoming a mom brought tons more. More lists. Yes, you've heard it all before. You may have done it all before if you are an adult or a mom such as I. (And if you are my mother, NO, it is NOT YOUR FAULT that I live my adult motherly life this way. Well, maybe just a teensy weensy bit. Hey, take credit for giving your daughter an amazing work ethic and an empathetic spirit–yes, I blame you for my attributes!). You may even go above and beyond what I do and use Pledge when you polish up your thought files. (Incidentally, does it irk you too as you remember the joy you had playing house when you were little and how you loved getting a toy broom or toy vacuum for Christmas so you could clean "just like Mommy and Daddy" did? What were we thinking!) Yes, responsibility has a lot of lows.

But on the positive side, I do spend much of my days lately engaged in happiness and not just up to my eyeballs in stress about what I should be doing, should have done, should do tomorrow. I get down on my tummy to laugh for ten minutes straight with my little boy; I read books about Winnie-the-Pooh and typing cows and then read those books backwards–very poetic; and I examine all the types of leaves on the trees as Geddy and I walk.

So how do I learn to dwell more on those happy moments than on my lists, my faults, my regrets? How do I learn to "let things go" in the same way that I let dust build up in my house? How? HOW? HOW?  

Maybe I should just go to the beach. :)

But seriously, as the chipmunk story proves, my thoughts just go with me wherever I go. The dirty stalkers! So, maybe you can help. Please, if you see me staring off into space and I look as if I'm roaming the organizer aisles of Staples, or if you catch me wordlessly chewing myself out for doing that "stupid thing," (like I might be hitting myself or something. I dunno) remind me to ditch the dust rag.

Monday, September 16, 2013

What Discover Card Can't Buy for Baby

Before a baby enters the world the parents either get excited about all the "baby stuff" they get to buy or they become overwhelmed. OK, maybe both. It could be: "Ooh, which crib will best complement the nursery motif?" or "I just looked at 70 types of baby swings–I think I need an aspirin!" It was a little different in our house.

Neither excited nor overwhelmed about baby gadgets, we busily fended off the barrage of questions about how we were going to decorate the nursery if we didn't know the gender of our baby. Sure, I was stressed but not about bedroom themes and colors. I figured we needed a bed, some diapers, and some onesies. Gender didn't matter when choosing these items. I also figured that as we got to know our baby and as our baby grew we would gradually acquire other items.

Well, the day I planned to go home from the hospital, I started to panic. I didn't suddenly want a ton of baby furniture, but I realized some more items might make adjusting to baby Geddy in the house a little easier. So I sent off my research-everything-before-buying husband and my buying-and-giving-is-my-love-language mother-in-law to Target. Since my husband was barely staying afloat on coffee after surviving 30+ hours without sleep, a flow of strange new emotions that came with becoming a dad, and a migraine, he was not in the research mode at all but the shopping-in-a-store-is-the-worst-activity-ever mindset. With his happy shopping mother along, LOTS of items went into the cart. Maybe two carts. I came home and hardly recognized our living room.

But it turns out that I didn't need to panic. Here is the happy truth of life with Geddy in the early days and even continuing into the now. Yes, he's spent some time sleeping and swaying in his swing. Yes, the bassinet was a life saver for many naps. Yes, our backs are missing the changing table (Geddy got too big and heavy for it and now we just use the floor). But where has Geddy spent many, many happy moments? Where did we, and do we sometimes still, turn when he just wouldn't be soothed, or when Mommy just needed some uninterrupted sleep? The super deluxe, all-in-one, not found in stores, priceless Daddy-O-Matic. Versatile, equipped with numerous songs from a variety of genres, capable of making the best white noise, entertaining with funny faces and stories, the Daddy-O-Matic mostly comes with an abundant supply of unconditional love. And hey, just check out the following features the Daddy-O-Matic can transform into.

When Daddy and baby just need to lay back and chill: The Decliner (Daddy recliner)

When baby refuses to go to sleep anywhere else: The Drib

When baby needs a little gentle motion for sleep: The Docker

When baby wants to have a little fun: The Dwing

No, we don't plan to keep all the Target purchases from that first day, but our all-in-one baby must-have will not be for sale on Craigslist when Geddy gets older.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

David's Wink

Grandeur can illuminate the sky with lightning, openly visible to thousands of people, but sometimes it tiptoes by us and sometimes hides. We have to search or let it surprise us. The shimmering colors on the scales of a fish. The glint of gold in a human eye. But mostly, we ought to remember who made it so.


They say Michelangelo “discovered” the wonder of David hiding in a rejected block of marble and set him free. Had David hidden because of his nakedness? But he stands powerful and sure of himself, not ashamed like some ancient Adam. This masterpiece, resting cooly in the Galleria dell'Accademia in Florence, Italy, hides no longer. My friend and I found him surrounded by tourists and cameras. But David is a silent celebrity, camera shy. The blaring announcements every few moments emphatically prohibited photography, and docents paced the floor, wagging their fingers at anyone removing a lens cap. We didn't risk the photos, unlike the rebellious guy to our left. He cradled a camera in his palm, holding it nonchalantly by his side, and swiftly snapped a photo while he gazed in the other direction. Just outside the doors people peddled postcards, T-shirts, and even small figurines of David, picture perfect down to the precious details. Could a haphazard photo capture the wonder of David better than such quality merchandise? Could it capture the grandeur?

My compact point and shoot had always been at the ready to preserve memories of travel abroad, but in the galleria a pencil and a piece of paper seemed more appropriate–and legal. So I drew David, more to amuse my friend than anything. In quick sketch I copied the shadows, the turns. Eleven years later my friend still has the picture. It causes her to laugh. Laugh over my attention to detail, laugh about the stories of our trip together. We don't have a photograph of the real David and we didn't buy any tourist trinkets, but we have a little bit of him that no one else can ever have.

Around the city, the tourists flowed with the heat wave from one masterpiece to another. Almost every person we walked by was a tourist with a camera slung around her neck. (Yep, I was also guilty). One day we visited Michelangelo’s final resting place and cameras flashed there, too. In Paris, the Mona Lisa had hidden behind video cameras and the backs of many heads. She still smiled. Most people fought their way to the front of the crowd only to snap their photo and move on to the next work of art. How many took time to really see her?

Italy blooms with other beautiful creations, including more Davids. Two (I think now three) replicas exist in Florence and anyone may photograph them. I admit that I did, so what is so special about the real one? Are the others not beautiful, too? Maybe the real David isn't even there anymore. Maybe he watches behind one of those transparent mirrors, or perhaps he got disgusted with all the illegal camera flashes and long ago caught the train to Rome, eager to blend in as a tourist himself. Imagine David walking along with a camera. What beauty would he choose to photograph?

I wonder: Is a statue beautiful? A painting? A building? Aren’t they just interpretations of the real beauty that we cannot contain? In the case of David, are we truly in awe of him or the ability of his creator? When the lightning cracks and the sunset bleeds through the sky; when the bird hops by our feet and the baby's hand curls around our finger; do we appreciate the maker of all grandeur? 

God's Grandeur
by  Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Clinging to the Good

I won't say that I read the Bible much, but sometimes I read it with my pen and notebook handy, and sometimes I actually pay attention. Thanks to the embrace of a neighborhood Bible study, I'm paying attention a little more lately. A few minutes ago I read Romans 12:9, which states: "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good" (NIV). This verse comes in a section with the heading "Love." The final words of the chapter: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Where did my thoughts immediately travel? To Meg and her brother Charles Wallace, somewhere in space trying to find their father, trying to get home, trying to resist evil. Meg broke the spell holding her little brother by saying over and over that she loved him. She couldn't fight the evil any other way and win. This, I believe, is because good is God and love is God and only he can conquer evil.

So, then, to cling to what is good must be to cling to God, right?

How do I do that? I could follow a list of what it means to do good and shun evil, but what if it just made me a delusional Pharisee? Do I even know what is evil in my life? I can list off the great and terrible evils that even our society puts a black mark on and imprisons people for, and I can say that I'm not involved in those so I must be avoiding evil. I think those crimes are despicable, so I must hate what is evil. But am I just living on the outskirts? Maybe the evil isn't in my life but could it creep in? "Love must be sincere." The whole list of how we ought to treat one another, especially our enemies—I want to follow that sincerely. I want to continue to abhor evil and keep my focus where it should be.

Easy to do, yes? Here I am in my blessed little life with a caring, loving husband and a happy little boy. But IT tries to sneak in and tell me lies about myself–that I'm not taking care of my family the way I should or that I'm not worthy of such blessings. Well I don't want to cling to that nonsense. I think I need to get the focus off of me.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

School Absence

Yes. School started this week. I know this because I watched out my window as the neighbors took first-day-of-school pictures of their two happy kids who were sporting new backpacks. I know because the school next door has the sounds of children shrieking on the playground again. I know school started because it's almost September and I can smell the freshly sharpened pencil aroma in the air.

Yes school started but for the first year since, heck, birth–my dad was a teacher and I spent a lot of time at his school, then I became a student, then I became a teacher–I'm not there.

Will I miss the bells telling kids when to be inside, when to go to lunch, when to play? No. Will I miss the rows of desks, the raise-your-hand to speak, the discipline slips, the rules against tag, the rigid reading program, the pages of data entry, the cranky copy machines, the fluorescent lights, lack of windows, heating issues? No.

I will miss the laughter of teachers and students, the curiosity of 5 and 6 year olds, the moment the lightbulb goes on for a child, the corny jokes only first graders can tell, the friendly sock monkey, lunchtime with friends, drawings from little girls, listening to children teach and help each other.

I will miss the quiet classrooms and the noisy ones. I will miss the stubborn whiny kids and the eager smiling ones. I will miss the polite kids from kindergarten to sixth grade who ALWAYS hold the door for someone and ALWAYS say You're welcome, and, I swear, ALWAYS mean it. I will miss the 2nd-now-3rd grade boy who told me I was looking pretty one day. I still will miss the 4th-now-6th grade boy (he moved away last year) who told me I had "bed head." I will miss my "little teachers"–those 1st and 2nd graders who taught me so much more than I ever dreamed of teaching them. I will miss my desk mates and our cramped portable (but not the lack of a restroom).

I will miss the OFFICE SUPPLIES. Oh I get giddy just thinking about them! I may have to go to Staples later. Post its and paper clips and pencils–oh my!

Sigh. Still, no matter all that I will miss I do not regret my decision to stay home with my little boy. I don't want to miss his moments because I am with someone else's kids. It's sad enough that my husband misses so much time with our son. Maybe one of these years we will trade and I will go back to working away from home.

But for now I may sneak over to school sometimes. OK, sneaking is not a good idea. I promise I will sign in and get my visitor sticker. I may go back when I can to listen to a student read or help a teacher friend with classroom work (please don't send me to the copier for two hours).

Maybe I can go back just enough so I won't be considered truant!

Friday, August 16, 2013

A Dark and Poopy Night: 10 Lessons from the Wee One in the Wee Hours

Mothers-to-be, take notes :)

1. You will sleep through thunderstorms that shake the house, light up the bedroom, and even disturb the slumbers of your hibernating husband; but if the baby hiccoughs you will jerk awake, leap from your bed, and rush to his side to make sure he is OK. (True story. Monday night).

2. If you change a poopy diaper and discover that the baby has not wet it, you will learn to duck and cover. It only takes a couple of "warm showers" while wearing your clothes that you will see the importance of this lesson. (Of course this is more difficult at night unless you want to put your hand in the diaper to feel for wetness. Last night, well, at least I wasn't wearing much clothing.)

3. You will think you have learned the difference between the sounds of passing gas and the sounds of gushy depositing. Then you will find out that, nope, you were wrong. So if the diaper is empty, don't change it quite yet even if it is wet. Somethin's a comin'.

4. You will take the baby's temperature multiple times because you thought the thermometer would light up in the dark and show you the reading but no it doesn't so you will turn the overhead light on and then take the temperature again and yes you had a clean diaper laid out but somehow you won't get it all the way under the bum and the changing pad you usually have on the floor will be in the wash and finally you will affirm that the baby doesn't have a temperature but the baby will have no trouble releasing the poo because you stuck him so many times and then it will be all over the carpet, his clothes, and, well, SOME will make it on the diaper and you will have to grab multiple cloth diapers to wipe everything up and the baby will be laughing and laughing because what better revenge is there for having a stick poked up your bum?

5. If you venture into the territory of issue number 4, no matter how loudly you call for your husband to come help, he will not hear you and he will not wake up. You need to be loud like thunder. (hmm, could he be faking?)

6. You will put the baby to bed in his onesie because he was already falling asleep and you didn't want to wake him up to change his clothes and you will wrap him up well and believe that he will be warm enough. Then he will wake up only an hour later with both arms sticking up over his head and they will be like ice cubes and then you will go and put on his long-sleeved jammies (yes, Daddy might help with this if he isn't snoring already) so he can have his arms above his head and maybe they will then just feel like melted ice cubes and you will get him all tucked back in and then you will hear rumblings in his diaper and you will think of number 3 on this list. Then you will have to ask yourself, poop or noise? If you go with noise and go back to bed and it was really poop, he will probably wake up in another hour because he really doesn't like the feeling of yuck up his back. If you go with poop, then you have to unwrap him, undo his jammies, and check the diaper. This will cause him to believe that he is hungry even though he ate not long before. Then you will sigh, pick him up, and feed him.

7. For some reason, no matter how many times you have started nursing the baby and then realized that you didn't have a burp cloth handy and then, naturally, the baby spit everything down your shirt you will do this again and again. Then, at night, you will change the baby across the hall from your bedroom so you can keep it quiet for your husband to sleep–this is why you change the baby on the carpet sometimes– (and why you think you need to be quiet is impossible to figure out) and then, while carrying the baby back to your room he will spit up all over and a glob of it will land on the tile floor. Then you will go put him down, clean him off, and wipe the floor, but when you walk back across the floor with the baby you will slip and almost fall because apparently breast milk wiped off of tile makes for a very slick surface. You will put baby to bed and go back with a wet rag this time and scrub and scrub, but you will only make it worse. You will go to bed. Then you will stay awake for a while reminding yourself to tell your husband about the slick spot before he walks on it. You will forget. Morning will come. Thankfully, he won't fall down the stairs.

8. You will think that after a long night where the baby is awake a lot and crying that he will sleep really well and long during his morning nap. Nope.

9. Sometimes, one of the baby's prolonged cries will wake your husband and he will offer to take the baby downstairs and stay with him so you can sleep. This is all very sweet and helpful and a great idea, but you will stay awake convinced that the baby needs his mommy even though he isn't hungry and you trust your husband completely and he is very good at soothing and quieting the baby. You will worry if you hear the baby keep crying AND if the baby is suddenly quiet because of course you will think your husband has fallen asleep and the baby has stopped breathing.

10. In the morning you will be bleary-eyed, stink of milk and spit and pee and poop, seriously contemplate becoming a coffee drinker even though you can't stand the flavor, and want to cry because you didn't do the dishes the night before and the kitchen is a mess and also it smells like potato peelings. Then you will look into your baby's eyes and he will laugh and laugh and smile and the rough night will be forgotten. (Unless of course you document it all in a blog post.)

Moms, what's your best baby night story?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Infinite Problem of Garbage

Garbage gets me down. I'm stunned each week by how full our can is when carted to the street. Even before a baby, this household sent quite a load to the dump. I'm ashamed. I try to make myself feel better by piling the recycle bin to bursting. I carry reusable bags to the grocery store. I wrap our baby in cloth diapers–most of the time. But I'm not so naive to believe that this makes up for the horrendous mounds of junk that we throw out each month. And yes, I also know that many items we think are being recycled actually end up in the ocean. What we do with garbage stinks!

Now that I have more time at home I want to make a serious effort to reduce the waste we toss. Since I write this after making two trips out to our garbage can, I guess I haven't put much into that effort yet. I realize what really needs to happen first is I need to learn how to cook. If I cooked more meals from scratch, we would have fewer items in the recycle bin for starters. What about personal hygiene product containers? Is there anything I can do to limit that type of trash? Some people make their own soaps and shampoos and keep it in reusable bottles. I've been thinking of looking into that. If I could cut out one bag of garbage like, I don't know, a month, every two months–what's reasonable?–that's something. You might say it won't begin to make a dent globally speaking, but why rush to thinking of the whole planet? I can't clean the whole planet. But I can take better care of my speck on it. And I might save money, eat better, feel healthier, and be happier in the process.

I'm asking for help from everyone who reads this. Help me think of new ways to reduce our addition to the garbage patch.

So here is my list of what we do now (not to pat ourselves on the back but just to let you know so we don't get repeats):

1. recycle (glass, plastics with the "right" numbers, paper, tin and aluminum cans– you know!)
2. reusable bags for groceries (though I often get the plastic ones and use as trash bags! Gah! And hey, why don't I use cloth bags for other types of shopping, too? Duh! Why did I JUST now think of that?)
3. reusable mesh bags for produce
4. cloth diapers on baby (we do use disposables at night, on trips, etc. I may try to reduce this, and I don't use disposable wipes at home–maybe should, but that is a lot more laundry!)
5. no paper towels–yeah, OK, it's only because we ran out of the ones from my sister (who used to work for a paper mill) and I have not bought any more. They're so handy! How can I resist getting more?
6. refillable soap dispensers–this means that I buy one big thing of soap every so often to refill the dispensers around the house. Then we still throw out the big containers when they are empty of course.

If I think of any more that we do now, I'll come back and add those on in a comment.

So, what do you do that I don't? Are there any ways you recycle by using stuff for different things at home? Please share your ideas, too, of what you would like to do or what you've heard that some people do.

Thank you! Feel free to join me in cutting down on the garbage problem.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Begin By Opening the Door



Mistake it at first for the music
keeping baby asleep, the creaking complaints of the ceiling,
the zippers tumbling in the washing machine. Then smell it
from the window screen: confirmation. Nod to your husband,
with a glance toward the bassinet, then walk your bare feet
to the back door. Turn the knob,
exit your domestic world, and enter time
standing still. Feel it on your palms;
turn to the sky, and let it lick your face
like hundreds of hummingbird tongues. Taste it in your pores, an electric sizzle infusion.
Squish through the grass, blades clinging to your toes,
and start to twirl.
Arch your back and take in the sky as it drenches your body and wipes away your exhaustion.
See it so well with your eyes closed.
Know it deep inside you.

Creative Commons: mooode 1

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The One-Handed Blogger

This could be a short post. Reason one: Bump is only slightly asleep, which means he's mostly awake and

yep, screaming happened. OK. Soothed for seconds.

Reason two: Typing with one hand takes time, and Bump, though bouncing happily while cradled in my left arm, is, as I said, mostly awake and he likes my time.

But I find that I can blog one handed and even eat with my left hand. And I thought at first that it would always take at minimum four hands to change a diaper, but now I can do it with two in the dark.

Difficult to type while Bump is eating, however. (Sorry that you have to read this so slowly). I may have to come back later. Amazing how parenthood reveals to me all that I really can and can't do.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

How I Am: A Status Update

Annie Hindman wants to take a shower but little man sleeps so soundly in his swing and she can't stomach leaving the room for too long. Worry to the tenth power- what happens when a worrywart becomes a mother. Annie Hindman vows to stop researching every little problem or potential problem. At least for today. Today, for now, she will only use the internet to blog or chat with people. Annie Hindman remembers jet lag knocking her out for hours after flying across the ocean. And this? Baby lag? But every squeak and sigh breaks the coma spell. Rest comes unexpectedly. 20 minutes feels like an hour. Annie Hindman has a sore back, tail bone, gut. Remembers fresh air and sunshine. Cries when  baby cries, when he smiles, when he stretches his arms above his head or scrunches up his face. Smiles when he looks up, eyes blinking, trying to focus on her. Annie Hindman rejoices in the morning hours. Holds her son close. Tells him he blesses her world. Tickles his feet. Annie Hindman lets go a little fear. Practices breathing again. 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Story of Geddy Lee

A week ago yesterday, in the early hours of the morning, I checked to see that our bag had everything it needed. I took a shower. I tried to eat a bowl of cereal but couldn't finish it. I looked at the clock. Oh no. Late already. Once in the car, I kept checking the clock. Who knows what worried me. It isn't as if we would get to the hospital and they would turn us away. Sorry, you don't get to have your baby today because you are ten minutes late. Maybe I just needed something on my mind to distract me. Leave it to Luke. "We have time to stop at Starbucks, right?" We pulled up to the window, greeted by the barista with the usual "What are you up to this morning?" Luke answered, "Oh, just going to the hospital to have a baby."

One week ago.


I settled into my hospital gown and got ready for a day of waiting. OK, I didn't just sit around playing Mahjong on the iPad or anything. Well, maybe I did for the first couple of hours. That and eat popsicles. And laugh at the birth jokes Luke read to me. It started so comfortably! Then the abrupt breaking of the water. Yikes. Every time I stood up from the birth ball I felt a RUSH of liquid. But that's just too much information.

Labor day had begun. 22 hours would roll by with nurse shift changes, my doctor coming and going telling me I was at 3 cm, then 4, then 5- can't really recall but the progression seemed slow to both of us. My habit of looking at the clock continued throughout the day and night. I marveled at how time seemed to RUSH along even though I was very anxious to see my baby and Bump didn't appear anxious to see me.

I kept drinking ice water without a thought to visiting the restroom. Then the nurse in training saw my oddly shaped right side. She RUSHed out to get the other nurse. They both looked me over and decided it was my bladder. Have you been eliminating OK? they asked. I said I hadn't felt the need. Off to the bathroom I went and returned without the massive lump!

Our birth plan may have started to crumble but my resolve to avoid an epidural remained strong. OK, so labor didn't start on its own; at least it started, I told myself. Bump was more than a week overdue and needed to enter the world.

Breathing became my most important activity, as any woman who has been through labor can probably attest to. Preparing for this moment hadn't been easy because every practice breath just seemed so phony. All at once I couldn't believe how important it was to breathe well and consistently through each contraction. The Pitocin started light and then at one point they stopped its drip dripping into my arm because they thought my contractions would do well on their own. Later into the day, however, I was upped to a 12 and this is probably where grunting and staring at focal points came in.

I had planned all along to use my husband's eyes as my focal point, but I was surprised to learn that I could not look anyone in the eye when I was in my trance. I desperately needed to stare at a small, inanimate object. I chose light switches, power outlets, and the ampersand between our names written on the board on the wall. If anyone came between me and the object, I felt increased distress but lacked the ability to tell the person to move out of the way.

My most awesome labor nurse who stayed with me almost constantly during her shift put on soothing music, rubbed scented oils on my face and the sheet under my nose, massaged my feet, and taught me to make deep noises through the toughest of contractions. She also put into practice nipple stimulation, which really started my body to RUSH toward the moment of pushing. She kept telling me, "You can, and you are," which caused me to say in my head, "I can, and I am," as well as repeat the word "baby" over and over. My nurse also showed me that being on my hands and knees in the bed would give me the most comfortable position. It even allowed me to joke, apologizing for mooning my sister. Darn gowns that open in the back! But when my arms would give out on me, back to standing it was. Lying on my back, the worst place for me, I reserved for when the doctor had to check me.

Standing worked best when I could lean into my husband or my sister, since they took turns supporting my weight and allowing me to squeeze life out of their shoulders. Sometimes we would sway. My mother near tears, trying to hold it all together in my presence, really became emotional watching her two daughters dance. I truly do not know how I would have survived without Luke and Sara.

As the urge to push increased, I told my nurse. She checked me and discovered that I was ready except for one little area of my cervix. She suggested helping take care of that and then she would let me push. I gladly consented. Then we got started with what I thought would be the hardest part of all, and it probably would have been if all had gone as it should. As it was, the pushing gave tremendous relief to my aching back. That, and, well, the fact that I vomited. TMI again?

Ah, but a natural birth just wasn't to be. My little baby had a big head, revealed the doctor when the nurse called her back because my pushing had done absolutely nothing. Suddenly there were many more people in my room going over what would happen for my c-section. I cried through the intensity of the contractions. Luke signed consent forms. Then they wheeled me away. "Take good care of my baby," mom told the anesthetist.

My second thought, after disappointment, was oh man, now some relief! My third thought was, oh no, will Luke be able to be in the room with me? We had carefully explained in our birth plan that Luke could faint easily- it's a family trait- and he would not be cutting the umbilical cord. Now I was going to have major surgery. How would he fare? But my hero, my knight, gowned up and sat at my side, holding my hand, joking with the anesthetist. He later told me he tried something his doctor cousin, afflicted with the same propensity to pass out and go into shock in medical moments, had learned- eat a ton of salt before the event. He downed a bunch of salty chips so he could be there to support me.

And then, as I was shaking like none other, I heard the cry of my newborn son. More shaking and teeth chattering and tears followed. "Annie," my doctor said from the other side of the curtain, "this is a big baby!" 8 lbs. 15.6 oz. and 22 1/2 in. long with a 14 in. head! But when I later held him in my arms, he was tiny to me. And beautiful. And ours.

Geddy Lee, born at 4:33 AM to exhausted but exuberant parents

Saturday, May 25, 2013

No Hair for My Hairbrush

Upon waking, I turn to the sleepy man next to me. He looks peaceful, comfortable, and . . . . wait a minute! He looks different! What's going on? He resembles my husband, yet something isn't right. My heart beats faster because this isn't a dream. I look closer.

Luke's long blond locks are gone!

He opens his eyes, smiles at me, then sees my shocked expression. His hands fly to his head. Then he gives me a mirrored look of horror.

OK, then we laugh.


Though Luke and I have known each other since before our teen years, during our entire friendship/courtship/romance/marriage his hair has only been long. He goes for haircuts occasionally, but his hair had recently gotten well past his shoulders. The heat of summer is coming and he decided it was time to take off a few inches. We figured it would still be long enough to put in a ponytail, but then Luke asked, "Hey, what's the length it has to be to donate?" Before I knew it, we were driving to the hair salon.

I could have stayed home, but I needed to chaperone the cutting. It wasn't that I worried- much- about the outcome but more that I needed to keep an eye on the woman doing the cutting. Too often Luke comes back with tales of a large-bosomed woman pressing into his neck as she styles and chats away. This time seemed to go well, but once the ponytail was removed from Luke's head, the woman couldn't stop talking about and touching the hair. She took it over to another stylist. "Check this out! Feel this hair!" she cooed. "This is softer and nicer than most women's hair!' Yeah, Luke said he hears that a lot too. Oh my!

Then I looked at my husband's head. So little hair left! The only chance for ponytails was if he did a bunch of tiny ones all over the top. And the snipping continued. We had both talked about him growing it out again, which is what he explained to the stylist, but I realized that it wasn't going to happen overnight. Luke's hair in a plastic bag, we soon left for home. I kept staring over at him, reaching up and touching his fuzzy head. I couldn't believe how different he looked. He couldn't believe it either.


The story of the hair, ghost written by Annie Hindman:

The last time I had short hair was in 2005. It had always been short, from way back to the days of sitting at Grandma Betty's kitchen table in that old highchair, "two or three on the sides and a little longer on top." Then, during early adulthood, certain events occurred and I didn't feel like doing much of anything, especially when it came to cutting my hair. Friends and family members started giving me a hard time about getting my hair cut, so, of course, I just didn't.

As my hair grew, something began to change for me. One time on a Horizon airline flight to Portland, the stewardess said I looked just like one of the members of some rock band that had flown the day earlier. Then complete strangers would come up to me and comment. My hair had become a conversation starter. For an extreme introvert who was recovering from a pretty rough patch in my life, this was a completely new experience. As my hair grew, I became far more approachable. I learned how to flirt again and carry on conversations. Much like Samson's hair gave him strength, mine gradually helped me comfortably interact with people again.

And then of course, there was the time at Walmart when I was stooped over looking for something on a lower shelf and the 5'4" salesman touched me on the shoulder and said, "Excuse me, ma'am." The look of horror on his face when a 6'1" man with a full beard stood up to look down at him was priceless.

I discovered that people make lots of assumptions about a man with long hair. A man has to be secure in his own identity to wear his hair that way. I imagine that there are thousands of men out there who are too insecure in who they are as a person and as a man to risk standing out. For me, it was a perfect fit because I was going through the process of learning just exactly who I was. I learned to not be afraid and to not draw my identity from what other people thought of me. I learned that Jesus died for me so that I could be adopted into His family. That is true love. How could the opinions of others begin to compare with that?

Annie and I have some dear friends who are struggling with cancer, one as an active participant, the other in a support role. They have completed their 4th round of chemo. Hearing about their journey, as well as the journeys of several other friends and family members who have struggled with cancer, got me to thinking about a lot of things. Among them are purpose, family (we're having a baby soon!), and identity. And I thought about my hair. I could cut three or four inches off and throw it in the trash... or... I could cut off the last 8 years and give someone's daughter (or someone's son) a new identity.   :)

My hair's journey soon complete, I not only get to start another path of my own but the baby won't be able to pull my hair!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Five Dylans: On Why We Won't Name Our Baby Dylan (even though it's a great name)

We were at a hair salon last night (more on that in my next post) and chatting with the two stylists about  babies. (My belly really gets people talking.) Both women are mothers, one pregnant with her third child. At some point the conversation got around to names. We shared our picks (sorry, not saying them on here yet, though some of you know!) and then Luke, who claims he's terrible with remembering names, noted that I dislike the name Dylan because of some of my past student encounters.

"Thanks, guys," said the stylist who's expecting. "That was my boy pick!"

I quickly spoke up saying that Dylan is truly a great name; it just won't work for me.

That got me reflecting once again on the Dylans and Dillons of my teaching career. I've encountered girls with this name, but my trauma involves boy Dylans. Five to be exact. Maybe six. I feel as if I'm forgetting one. (Perhaps I'm just remembering Dylan from 90210. Now he was a troubled guy!) In nearly every school where I've taught, I've met a troubled, ornery, neglected boy named Dylan. Two scared me. One was a joy to work with but got messed up in the wrong crowd. The other two tried to drive me crazy. My heart cried for them all.

What did these Dylans have in common besides their name? I learned very little about most of them because they didn't stick around long, but four of them had been kicked out of school at different times for fighting or making threats or failing classes. The two I call scary got expelled from our high school permanently. My artistic little Dylan who was put in alternative school with all the older boys ended up accused of stealing. One who sat in the back of my class tying himself to his seat and throwing things at girls became a dad before he was 16. Only one Dylan may have escaped expulsion; he just liked to antagonize me during lessons.

My guess is that these boys didn't feel loved. I never met parents or guardians for any of them. I heard bits and pieces about the chaotic home lives they had, but I tried hard not to judge the adults I didn't know. The negative talk all around me made me angry. Teachers and principals were quick to write off these boys. I didn't know how to help them, but it seemed terribly wrong to discuss the kids the way we did. Even if the boys never heard anything that was said, they knew how "the powers that be" perceived them. I tried to beam positive thoughts and use upbeat language whenever I could. But my time with each Dylan was so limited. I felt so helpless.

I don't believe a name can be cursed, and maybe it would actually be a nice tribute to my Dylans to let my child share the name. Son of the sea. (or could it be daughter of the sea?) The sea is magnificent but a turbulent place. I don't want to bring a storm into my family. I can only pray that each Dylan has found a calm to replace the madness.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

At Least the Second Time I Had My Pants On

Bump checkups always include excitement. I never tire of listening to the heartbeat, looking at the surreal images of Bump during the ultrasound, watching my belly ripple as I count movements for the NST. When the doctor tells me all is going well, that makes my lengthy visits even better.

Today, at my appointment for week 38, I got to experience all the usual thrills with an unexpected surge of adrenaline.

Head down, "camera" shy, Bump was in great position for the ultrasound. "This baby has a lot of hair," the tech told me. She also said that Bump is in the 90th percentile for almost all measurements. I hope that the weight estimate of a little over 8 lbs. is either on the heavy side of guessing or that Bump doesn't put on too much more weight before birth!

My next stop was for the non-stress test, or NST. Not only did I get gel smeared on my belly and two straps belted firmly around me- one attached to the fetal heart rate monitor and one to check my contractions- but I also got to strip from the waist down and wrap in a very small sheet. The reason for the disrobing was not for the NST but so I'd be ready when the doctor came in to "check my progress." So, lying down in a room with hot fluorescent lights glaring on me, I waited all alone and hoped the doctor would arrive soon. Still, clicking the button every time Bump moved and feeling the tickles inside me, I couldn't really complain.

Suddenly, the sound of Bump's heartbeat was drowned out by a piercing wail. Seriously? The fire alarm? I waited for a nurse to rush in and unstrap me. No one came. I realized I had to get out of there. Struggling, I sat up a bit and undid one belt. Goo was all over me, my pants were far away on a chair, and I had no idea if fire blocked my exit. Thankfully, a nurse came to my rescue and helped me with the other belt and wiped my belly clean. She told me she would wait for me on the other side of the door while I got dressed. Unfortunately, she didn't close the door. Do you know how hard it is to put on underwear and pants while pregnant with a beach ball? And to do it quickly is nearly impossible. Somehow I managed before any firemen came down the hall!

I followed the crowd of women out of the building and across the street. My appointment wasn't over, but that wasn't the only reason I couldn't actually leave: my car was in the parking garage. We didn't see smoke or flames, and the firetruck didn't arrive very promptly. I realized it could be my longest doctor's visit ever. And, naturally, I had to use the restroom.

Happily, it wasn't long before I was half naked on a table again. The doctor finally came and gave me a good report, told me I was making progress, and zipped away to catch up with other patients. I drove to work to finish the day, excitement over.

At school I told my coworkers my humorous story along with all the Bump updates. Then I went to make photocopies. There was an odd beeping noise in the office and I wondered about it a little, but people were in the building working on wiring or something so I decided to ignore it. Suddenly, what do you know, a familiar wailing sound greeted my ears. I looked at the secretary. I looked at another coworker. Planned drill? Nobody seemed to know. Well, better evacuate. As we walked out into the field we learned that it was not a drill, but it wasn't a fire either. I shook my head and laughed. At least this time I was already dressed!

Monday, April 15, 2013

God's Blessings in Human Form

My husband put together the crib the other day. I mostly stood around watching, taking photos to document the process. We couldn't believe we were suddenly that couple, setting up a bed for a baby. Our baby. Why did the presence of a crib make this life-changing event so real? I mean, my stretching belly, jabs and pokes and ripples from inside, sounds of another heartbeat every time I visit the doctor- these should make it real enough. Maybe it's the visual sign that Bump won't always be in my middle. 

Parenthood. What a challenge and a gift! How did we get here? How will we know what to give this child? How can we be worthy of this gift?


For starters, we have awesome, loving parents. Are they perfect? No. But we wouldn't give them up for anything. Will we raise our child the way they raised us? Probably in more ways than we will admit right now! But mostly what stands out from their parenting is unconditional love. They don't give up on us even when we make mistakes. God doesn't give up on us either. I kinda think they believe in us and that we will seek and find the right path; when others believe in us, well, that's powerful.

More than our parents and extended family members, Luke and I have been blessed with special people entering our lives right when we needed them the most. Mentors, friends, and teachers have encouraged our interests and helped us create our passions. We're better people because of them. 

For Luke, he found just the right support in Blaine Kenney, Paul Akahoshi, Fred Gray, Larry Lambeth (my dad!), and Gary Laabs to guide him in electronics, computers, and ham radio. He survived high school with no small thanks to Bob Leake, teacher and friend, with whom he worked side-by-side creating and building while also talking about life's bigger picture. Off into the world he went, getting a pretty good job when he was still just a youngster. There he met Terry and Wanda Horn, two special people who became like family and stayed with him through some difficult life moments. (Now they've "adopted" me too.) In college, Luke really found his niche in the computer science world- a world made just for him I'm sure. Amit Jain advised, challenged, and befriended him as Luke eventually climbed all the way to the top, attaining his master's degree in Computer Science. 

I, a shy and stubborn child who didn't easily reach out to others, was also blessed by Blaine and his lovely wife, Faith, during a lonely time in my life. Horses and people, God's angels I think, rescued me from sadness. In high school, Ms. Pearson (Diana as I now call her) not only taught me a lot about libraries (what could be greater than working around books?) but gave me an after-school job. (Years later we would work together again, where I found the joy of giving back to others tutoring adults in the English language). In school I loved biology but found my voice in English classes. Mrs. Dielman, Mrs. Gornick, and Mrs. Winegar exposed me to thought-provoking books and challenged me with writing assignments. I soared into college loving the taste of words on the tip of my pencil. College blessed me with more excellent writing coaches, especially Dan Lamberton and Gary Wiss, and an art angel, Martha Mason. Lost in words and drawings, I would find peace and joy. But beyond academics, I found God. A teary drive to Walt Meske's house led to my baptism just before graduation. And an afternoon in Gary's office led to my exodus from my safe college campus out into the world of hurting students where I tried to be a mentor to them. 

And of course, Luke found me and I found him. We continue to receive blessings from people around us, and we focus on building each other up. Maybe we don't feel ready in any way to take care of this little one coming into this crazy world, but God's given us a lot of help along our paths in life and I don't think He's going to quit. 

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Poem for Luke

Blue's Color

Your eyes shine like a joke before the telling,
like polished spoons reflecting mirthful Alice-in-Wonderland distortion,
like memories of pearls forming in their oysters,
like the delight of a child treasure hunter,
like bees bleeding honey,
friendship forging secrets,
dew dotting the hidden garden.
Like specks of pixie dust escaping under the door,
a river under fire in a lightning storm,
a moment before waking.
Like buttered toast under the jam,
like found pennies in a puddle,
like melting chocolate by candlelight,
like forgotten sadness,
proposing in the falling snow,
an icicle hanging from a tree branch,
a hummingbird's wink.
Like sand coating bare feet,
a plucked guitar string quivering
after a song freshly sung,
like an idea taking shape,
like a love-painted sea.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Janet Jackson, Exposed Breasts, and My Blossoming Flower

No need to blush; my post isn't rated R. It's rated C for childbirth.


While you may already connect the name Janet Jackson with naked flesh, this Janet didn't flash my husband and me- or about ten other couples- last weekend. She caused us to laugh, to cringe, and to cry (well maybe that was just the hormones leaking) as she saturated our brains with everything we ever wanted to know about pregnancy, labor, and postpartum life. (Luke says maybe most of it he didn't really want to know.)

In this childbirth class, Bump joined a group of bigger bumps- since most women there are due before I am. We even had some "imitation bumps" when two fathers agreed to wear empathy bellies for several hours- more on that later. A room full of bumps for an all-day session meant many of us needed to find ways to get comfortable. Squishy chairs, pregnancy balls, and our bed pillows from home helped out quite a bit, but the husbands didn't have the same luxuries. Mine got a headache. The one in front of us kept dozing off and leaning on his wife for support. Plus, our fearless leader kept asking the men to move tables and chairs around and to put away equipment for her.

My months of internet trolling meant that I had already read a lot about childbirth and even watched several videos before attending this class, but Luke wasn't as prepared to see and hear some of what he saw and heard. Take, for example, the c-section footage. Yeah, let's just say he didn't watch all of that. And the epidural video? Not for him. I can't say that I enjoyed watching these, but I wasn't surprised by what I saw. Instead, my funny bone was tickled when they told the women to think of our cervixes as blossoming flowers. Hmm. I've watched flowers bloom but I've never heard them yell or curse the bees for pollinating them. Maybe that's just because I don't speak flower.

The most entertaining moment, however, was watching the men get strapped into the fake breasts and bellies. Once they had everything on, Nurse Janet asked them to untie and take off one shoe. She didn't let them sit down in a chair. One guy, rather limber, didn't have much trouble bending over but I think his baby bump squished more than the real ones do, or should. The other guy teetered and tottered about for a while and almost lost his "bladder" a few times. Then they had to walk about the room, and finally they had to get down on the floor and arrange their pillows under and around them. As soon as they got settled on the floor, Janet told them to roll over and rearrange their pillows. Then she had them roll back over, all the while keeping in mind the amount of space they had so they wouldn't knock the imaginary other person out of bed. Yes, this is where my laughter turned to tears.

Just when I thought the pregnant men were the only ones who would have to do any "acting" for the day, we circled up for some good old labor breathing exercises that you always see on tv shows.  I think I spent some time almost hyperventilating. Forcing myself to breathe when I didn't really want to was a little strange. And I swear Luke and I were the only ones "hee hee whooing." Yeah, OK, maybe it felt silly and I got dizzy even though I was on the floor, but at least I'll make the correct noises when Bump comes into the world.

Oh, you're wondering about the exposed breasts? We got to watch several babies- on video- experience nursing for the first time. That was a happy moment. All the agony the women had gone through ended the moment their babies came to the breast. Nurse Janet did well not to end the day showing the c-section. Very family friendly; I'm glad the video editors didn't censor it.


That evening as Luke was in bed cradling his pounding head in his hands, he commented how thankful he was that we went through this class AFTER Bump's conception because if he had seen and heard it all BEFORE, Bump might not be.

Two months and fourteen days until we meet Bump. Unless Bump doesn't know how to use a calendar.

Creative Commons: Nina Matthews Photography

Sunday, February 24, 2013


When I sit down on the couch­­–after exhausting my pregnant body whirlwinding around the house with the vacuum, the laundry basket, the dishrag–I think, What do I have to say to this blank page on my screen? My life story? My grocery list? Both sound plain to my thoughts' ears. Then a question from a different corner: What will my child ask me?

The countless Whys go skipping by, like a troop of children on pogo sticks. Why is the sky blue? Why can't I find the end of the rainbow? Why do I have eyebrows? Why didn't Daddy have to eat all of his salad? Why was I in your belly- did you swallow me? I imagine no pause between with any chance for my response. Then I imagine a great long pause at the end of the stream of questioning, a small and earnest face looking up at me, and a moment when I wonder if the questions need answering.
Do I answer scientifically? Do I make up fantastical responses? (The sky is blue because it's one eye of a great blue-eyed giant, whose pupil is the sun, who stares down at us through a magnifying glass to see what we do all day.) Do I say I don't know or I'll tell you when you are older? Do I say Ask your father?–great for the salad question. Do I say Figure it out for yourself? Do I smile and change the subject?–who wants ice cream?! Maybe all of the above?
What if my child worries like I do and did–even when very young? Why do we have to have money–Why can't people just do stuff for each other? Why do people get mad and hurt people? Why do other kids say mean things to me? Why do I have bad dreams? Why doesn't Jesus come? Yes. I will say why, too.
Maybe I will ask my child questions: Why do you keep growing taller? Why is your laugh contagious? Why do you have five toes on each foot? Why do you have your daddy's desire to take things apart? Why do you wake up at 5 every morning? Why do you love me so much?
And then I will write down all of his or her answers and fill my blank page with happiness and child insight. And maybe I won't vacuum, or do laundry, or wash dishes for one afternoon. Maybe two. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013


The third trimester starts somewhere around now, and I reflect over the course of this pregnancy. The last few months didn't pass over like swooping swallows. They didn't linger like slugs in the driveway. This pregnancy, neither speedy nor plodding, just goes along its way. With nausea over and only mild current discomforts I sometimes get busy with work or daily life happenings and forget to think about my current state. Of course any scary story of pregnancy complications sends me to the internet and gets me thinking a little TOO much about what is- or might be- going on inside of me. And of course, too, Bump usually reminds me of Bump's presence. If Bump forgets to remind me, then I suddenly remember with great panic and hold my belly, maybe gently poke it, and wait for the reassuring nudge right back. Then all is well, I'm pregnant again, I smile and allow myself the extra bowl of ice cream, and I think about all things baby.

Lately when I sit beside wiggly six and seven-year-olds, I have a different sort of panic as I realize that Bump won't stay a baby forever. Bump won't even stay Bump forever. (Well, maybe, whether he or she likes it or not; nicknames do have a way of lingering). Bump will be five, six, and seven. I sometimes find that I want to study my students, like specimens under a microscope. I can't do that with Bump or my poor child will get some sort of complex. Anyway, the point is, I adore five, six, and seven. But they don't stay forever either.

Naturally, I don't want to stay pregnant forever and I won't want Bump to stay one age forever. I just alarm myself with these truths. Then I find comfort again.

It's like the sun peaking out this weekend. A blessing after our surprising cold, dark, and snowy January. I like dark and snowy, but I didn't want it to last all winter. Or maybe I just didn't want winter to last all winter. But, now, as I look out our window, I see the sun sneaking away again. Then I remember how much I dislike day after day after day of incessant blinding sun and heat in the summer. Yep. I'm OK with changes. I just need to enjoy every moment that takes shape before it passes away for good.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Save the Needles

My hero husband, though quite accustomed to giving me my daily injections, still can't stand needles, blood, or any sort of personal painful injury. He has a history of going into shock rather easily, which he has in common with some members of his family. So, "needles"s to say he's grateful that I get the "bee sting" every morning instead of him. If only we could find a way to put a positive spin on his spiral into unconsciousness.

It all started in first grade- well, before first grade- when he had to get immunizations. Simple, quick pokes, right? Over and done, Luke stood up, and then, and then . . . as he felt a little hot and blackness starting to creep into his vision, the next thing he knew he woke up on a bed.

A few years down the path of grade school- when I first met Luke- he was out in the furnace room with a couple of other students doing some cutting with a razor knife (yeah, we went to private school where we could do cool things like that). The knife slipped and skewered his thigh. One of the kids pulled the knife out and then the two boys started to help Luke into the school when one said, "We're losing him." Then Luke woke up in the boy's restroom on a cot, his pants off and a coat over his legs, and the teacher (my dad) standing over him checking out his injury. He ended up being fine but his leg still bears the scar.

His next vivid fainting episode took place during blood work before a sinus surgery. He wasn't donating blood, just giving a little sample, but it was enough to make the lights grow dim again.

Unfortunately for my hero, he would have to suffer through frequent allergy shots over a three-year span. Luke and family developed a strategy, however, to help him stay conscious. Don't look at the needle and have the skin pinched up really tightly. Oh, and only his Grandma Betty could administer the shots because Luke's mom had just as much trouble as he.

As an adult, Luke faces flu season with our family pharmacist, whose own son suffers from needle fear. With his head down and ample time to rest behind the little curtain when it is all over, Luke manages to make it through without hitting the floor.


My collection of syringes piles up, ready for disposal. It's too bad we have to throw them out after just one use. Hang on, brilliant idea forming-

Many a night as I toss and turn, snore, and cry out at odd times because my leg has cramped up or I am suddenly acutely aware of the spinning of the earth- the pleasures of sleeping with Bump- I worry that Luke isn't getting enough rest. If only there was something we could do to help him sleep. NyQuil should only be taken in moderation. And, well, you know, when Luke is actually sick. And I really don't want him getting hooked on sleeping pills. Hmmm. Maybe, just maybe, I should start saving my used needles!

Think of it! Luke can't fall asleep, or I have just rudely awakened him and he needs to fall back asleep because it is only 2:00 AM- what if I just grabbed a needle and gave him a quick jab in the arm! You know what would happen- he'd be out like a light! Problem solved. Now that's a way to reuse and snooze!