Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Something to be Thankful For

If you haven't thanked God for the health of your precious children in the midst of all the business and preparation this week here is something that will remind you of what a tremendous blessing their health is. Right now there are so many families with children in their little hospital rooms who can't go home for the holidays. There are so many things that you CAN do to relieve a little of their discomfort - call the hospitality house nearby and offer to bring or fix a hot meal for the families there, or just donate enough to provide free lodging for one night. Bring cookies to a waiting room. Pray. Even if you don't know anyone in the hospital, you can still bring those sick and hurting souls before His throne. It really isn't that difficult or time consuming to get involved and bring comfort to a few people who will probably never be able to express their gratitude - but trust me, they appreciate every bit of comfort and personal touch that comes their way during those dark hours.

This was beautifully written by my second cousin, Chrissy Martin, after working a particularly difficult shift in the Peds ICU: (reprinted here with her permission)

Slow, steady heartbeat.
Dark. Empty. Silent.

They drop all around me,
ripping and tearing their families hearts as they fall.
Crashing, crushing, burning.

I float through untouched, protected.
Not really here.
Myself. Alone.
Like a Shadow.
A spirit -- benevolent but cold.

But a single image, unexpectedly caught, brands my heart.
Mother and baby say goodbye,
both in daddy's arms, all three much too young.
Bathed in the glow of a dying sun,
a timeless picture of love and peace is marred
by the black evil of this reality in which we live.

It sears my mind
and ruthlessly jerks me out of my cloud of oblivion.
It floods my soul with the previously distant present
and the familiar chill of helpless pain.
I struggle feebly
to crawl back,
But I can't seem to find my way.

Slow, steady heartbeat.
Dark. Empty. Silent.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

A Look Back at Emmy

Emmy joined the family 2 years and 8 days after Joshua. You'd think after the first experience I had with labor I'd be dreading those first moments of realization when the labor pains began. Nope. Not me. I was trying everything I could think of to get labor started. (except castor oil. Nooo castor oil for me, thanks.)

It had been quite the pregnancy from the get-go. You know, there was the normal nausea, exhaustion, that taste in your mouth that never goes away, all the fun things we all go through in early pregnancy.

And then the real fun started. First, it was this craving of ice that I couldn't shake off. After a while I just... gave in to it.

Just once.

Or twice.

Okay, I admit it. A few weeks after the cravings started I was known by name to the people at the gas station, who expected me on a very regular basis to come in and get a cup of ice, just ice, and walk back out with a wave.

At first they charged me a quarter for the cup.

They stopped doing that after I snarled at them a few times about how ridiculous that was. I think they felt bad for me, this very round lady with a toddler on her hip, fishing around the bottom of her purse for a quarter because the craving was so overwhelming I couldn't seem to walk back out of there and go home to make ice of my own.

Took too long, you know, to make ice in a tray.

I'd have to wait HOURS for that.

Talk about ridiculous.

Of course, most of the time I went to the grocery store and bought bags of ice and took them home all ready to eat straight from the freezer bag.

The thought of it now just makes my teeth hurt.

I talked to my midwife about the craving of ice and she wasn't too concerned about it. "Your bloodwork was fine!", she said cheerfully, and sent me on my merry way home... to chew on more ice.

Once my ice cravings were recognized and a plan of action put in place, I started realizing ice wasn't the only craving I had. On my rounds to the store and back on my little ice runs, I found I was really enjoying the summer air, the breeze through the open window, the peace and quiet as my son slept in his car seat in the back, and the wonderful smell of asphalt being freshly laid.

Oh yes. Asphalt.

Mmm... the smell of freshly laid asphalt. Sniffing the air as we drove back and forth, back and forth through the construction zones abounding in northern Michigan in the month of July...

Yeah. Weird, huh? Something was definitely off about the whole thing. At least I didn't want to EAT the asphalt though! Some women crave and EAT chalk while pregnant. Of course, I know now that cravings like that signal some sort of imbalance of chemicals and what not, but then I just took the word of my midwife that I must be fine and kept trucking on.

And eating my ice, of course.

When my mom showed up nearly two weeks before my due date ("Don't want to be late to the party like last time, dear!") she was a little shocked by the sight of me.

I admit, I was kind of... round. And big. But really, I'm not sure it warranted THAT kind of reaction.

"Lisa, your ankles are... HUGE!"

"Thanks, Mom."

"And your feet! Your feet are like SAUSAGES!! Look at your TOES!"

"Again. Thanks. I can't really see my feet down there, but I'll take your word for it."

"And why are you carrying around that cup of ice?!"

"Eh, I don't really know, but I'm almost out. Wanna go for a drive? I know of this construction site about 10 miles away we could check out..."

She was concerned. My midwife was not. I was just simply ready to be done. I was ready to be done, oh, about the time people started asking me when I was going to have that baby because "oh my goodness, you're so HUGE!" at 32 weeks.

I tried and tried to get labor started early. Nothing worked. Dilated to 3 for more than 3 weeks, one trip to L&D for a false alarm, and crying great crocodile tears of frustration at the weekly appointments when even the midwife's attempts to get things going failed to make progress.

Finally my due date came.

And then it went.

No baby. Now I was just crying in frustration in blustery outbursts at random intervals.

I woke up with contractions around 3 am and came downstairs to sit in the rocker and start timing them. They came and went, I rocked, I went for walks, I showered... and the contractions came and went and nothing fell into a discernible pattern. They went from 3 minutes to 7 minutes to 3 minutes to 20 minutes.

I was sure it was another false alarm and I'd go another week or two or maybe a month at the rate this was going.

I mean, for all I knew it wasn't really the real thing because although the pains were moderate, my water hadn't broken, which was one of the first signs of labor with Josh!

Finally, with tears of frustration, I took my midwife's advice and dosed myself with two Tylenol PM and went to bed.

Colby went to the church bonfire.

Two hours later when he came home he woke me up to check on me. I'd had contractions in between being passed out asleep, but none that were too terrible. When I got up from the bed to go use the bathroom, a contraction hit me and had me doubled over the side of the bed, trying to get my bearings and figure out how to breathe again.

"Wow." Colby said as he watched my eyes get that slightly crazy look to them.

30 seconds later another contraction hit me. I hadn't even made it around to the other side of the bed yet.

"Let's ROLL!" Colby yelled down the stairs to my mom. And ROLL we did!

I hardly had time to process anything as we went from house to truck to hospital to... yeah, I lost track after that of all that was going on. Next thing I knew I was in full panic mode, which I know now comes about 2 minutes before the need to push for me. I didn't even have TIME to think about wanting a water birth. I didn't have time to think about where and how I wanted to give birth or drugs for that matter - there was just this knowledge suddenly that I was in "the zone" and I wasn't about to move from the position I was in - even though it wasn't the most conducive to catching a baby. But we won't get into that.

Her birth was mercifully quick, despite the fact that she came out with her hand up next to her face.

They laid her immediately on my chest, cut the cord, suctioned her appropriately, and stepped back.

I looked down at my tiny little daughter. Okay, maybe not so tiny. Oh. Oh wow! She's kinda a big girl ain't she? I thought.

She looked up at me. And pooped.

On my bare skin, mind you.

And then she peed.

It was at this point I looked around for some "Help here, please!" and noticed that the nurses had ALL taken a step back from the bed.

What in the...?? I thought as I looked at the row of nurses, hands clasped nervously in front of them, looking askance at me holding my poopy baby. Well, one kind of had her hands a little outstretched as if this were excruciatingly difficult to have this 'hands off' approach.

She was the one who came rushing forward when I asked for help. Apparently they had all been warned before hand that I was a "homebirthing mama" and wanted as little intervention as possible.

Yeah. I may be a little crunchy here... but not THAT crunchy!! Please don't make me do the clean up too!

After she had relieved herself so thoroughly, they put her up on the scale.

9 pounds, 2 ounces. Everyone collectively turned and looked at me. 9 pounds?! Out of ME?!

"Did you know she was going to be THAT BIG?!" one of the nurses asked.

"Uh. No. No clue. The other midwife guessed somewhere around 6.5 lbs. a week ago." I answered.

Yeah, see?! I KNEW she wasn't a 6 pounder when I carried her around inside of me for that long! I wanted to say. Where's the phone? I'll call her up and tell her RIGHT NOW!

Ah well. At least I didn't KNOW she was a 9 pounder before I went into labor. It would have scared the bejeebers out of me.

Totally makes me have a whole new respect for our neighbor lady, who just gave birth this week to twin boys, 10 lbs. 1 oz, and 10 lbs. 3 oz. At home. With no drugs. Wow. I remember how incredibly miserable it was to carry around 9 pounds of baby inside me - 20 pounds of baby is just beyond what I can wrap my mind around!

I felt like a whole new woman after giving birth to Emmy. The relief was immense! But I finally had to come to terms with how messed up my hormones and chemical balance were when the baby blues hit me hard a few weeks later. I couldn't shake them off. I couldn't pull myself up by my bootstraps and get back to normal. It was hard, and looking back, I know it had a lot to do with all of those crazy things that went on during the pregnancy. Like smelling asphalt.

That little girl has been my challenge since before she was born, and she still is! But besides teaching me patience, patience, and more patience, she is also the bright shining light with the golden laughter and the spirit of adventure that takes us all to new places. I don't know what I'd do without her.

We survived those first few months, just in time to have another surprise thrown at us - a new pregnancy when Emmy was just 8 months old.

Oh boy.

But that's another story.

yep, she was a little chublik!

I couldn't believe all the hair she had! And then it fell out and turned blonde.

at 9 months

at 1 year old - yep, the fiery temper has pretty much always been there...

2 years old, what a cutie.

at 3 years old, my little butterfly!

Now she's 4 years old!

Monday, November 16, 2009


I just about ran the car off the road when the guy on the radio casually mentioned that they'd be closing part of down town early Sunday morning for the filming of some movie starring Josh Lucas.


THE Josh Lucas?! The one from Sweet Home Alabama?

"Josh Lucas has starred in numerous other films including Sweet Home Alabama and Glory Road..." the radio announcer continued in a dull monotone voice.

Or at least it sounded pretty monotonous to me when the voice in my head was about two octaves higher than normal.

Yes, that's right, the voice in my head. No, not THAT kind of voice, just... you know, the normal voice in your head that carries on the conversation with your best friend that you started the other day on the phone but didn't get to finish because your phone battery went dead, or the one that keeps a running dialogue of things you want to write in your blog or things that come to your mind 12 hours later after your kid randomly asks about where babies come from and your mind goes blank so you tell him "..from the cabbage patch, now hurry up and get your shoes on so we can go, we'll talk later.". You know, normal voices.

Speaking of the phone...

I needed to find my phone so I could call my best friend and TRY to squeak out in somewhat intelligible sentences this new bit of information.


Okay, at that point I realize how completely juvenile all that Eeeking makes me sound, but I couldn't help it. And seriously, when was the last time I used "like" and "totally" in the same sentence?

I took a deep breath, fully expecting to hear a "HUH?" on the other end, but of course, I underestimated my best friend entirely. Not only did she understand the words that came tumbling out two octaves higher, sounding like they were on a sped-up record player of the Chipmunks and interspersed with Eeeks to boot, she did the good friend thing and took up Eeeking right along with me. And she didn't even know who it was yet!

The radio announcer said they'd be closing the streets for a couple of hours starting at 6 am on Sunday (or so I thought). If I had really stopped to think about it, I would have realized it takes a whole lot longer to film a scene than that, but I wasn't thinking straight right then.

All I heard was, "Be there at 6 am with your coffee in hand and you might get to see Josh Lucas." Or better yet, maybe they'd see me and ask me to be an extra! And pay me! And I'd get my picture taken with Josh Lucas!

Saturday night when we put the kids to bed I told them all to be ready for an adventure in the morning! They went to bed remarkably well and with the cutest little grins on their faces.

I was wide awake at 4 am. It was like waiting for Christmas morning when I was a kid!

I went out to the kitchen and turned on a pot of water, then decided to go check google out and see if I could come up with any more pertinent information about the shoot. Had my "duh" moment of the day when I realized they'd be filming all day and not just a few hours in the early morning.

We went anyway. Just a little later. I actually let the kids sit down at the table and eat breakfast first instead of packing a picnic of rolled up thawed pancakes from the freezer and oranges peeled on the way.

And then - we ran our errands first.

"Are we going on a Dinosaur Adventure?!", Emmy asked for the umpteenth time. No matter how many times I tried to explain to her that the "adventure" was really more for Mommy than for the kids, it still failed to sink in.

Finally, at about 10 o'clock, we managed to get around to parking near the down town district. Good grief, I thought, this is not nearly as exciting as it would have been if I were here at 6 am with a Starbucks, my best friend, wearing our Silver jeans, tall boots, big hair and lots of eyeliner. You know, pretending for a few minutes that we're not country girls to the core.

Instead, there I was having on yesterday's makeup and yesterdays curls done up in a messy bun, with jeans, tennis shoes, and blue hoodie on. Colby wore his standard uniform: wranglers, boots, and t-shirt, with his black carrhart coat with the big family business emblem blazing across the back for good measure. "In case we get filmed!" he said. He also wanted to drive the truck and park it somewhere nearby.

"Yes, dear, it would definitely stand out and be recognizable in a movie, but I'm just not sure that's the look they're going for here... you know, smoke stacks and all..."

As we stepped out into the chilly morning air, strapping the two girls into the stroller, we saw that we were parked near the costume trailer and another little camper trailer.

"I'll bet that's where Josh Lucas is", I said knowingly to Colby as we walked past and up the block.

We walked down the row of closed storefronts and window shopped the toy shops and furniture stores as we watched the camera crews setting up for a scene. Soon we passed this sign:

I blocked out the name of the movie because I really have NO idea what the film is about and what all kinda stuff it might have in it - so until I have some clue I'm not going to be giving it any plugs. I know Josh Lucas is in some other films right now you couldn't pay me to see, so.... there you have it.

I was surprised at how few people had turned out on a Sunday morning to watch a major hollywood production going on. I'd expected there to be hardly any room to stand, let alone enough room to mosey around the streets. But then, I guess around here we kind of have a reputation for being "chill" for those famous types. Eminem and Kid Rock both have houses up here. Kid Rock filmed his video for "All Summer Long" on a lake up here near his house. Lots of rumors float around about several movie stars and big houses on the lake with boat slips built into secret coves.

And let's not forget our real claim to fame: Michael Moore. Although I have to admit some of the ideas he had for this area and its particular economy aren't bad, in general I'm not his biggest fan, so forgive me if I don't dwell on that one.

We continued on our way to where the great majority of the "crowd of spectators" was - about 2 dozen people gathered around the only business in the district that was open: the coffee shop! "Mmmm... coffee! Warm, comforting, coffee!", I murmured aloud to no one in particular.

Colby stayed outside with the kids to watch the cameramen scurrying around while I stepped inside the coffee shop. Everyone smiled as I walked in.

Wow, were they expecting Josh Lucas to walk in? Or is everyone just this perky after several cups of coffee while watching a film crew?, I wondered.

We stood outside and watched the whole process for one very small scene:


"QUIET!!!...... ROLLING!!!"

The collective group of people standing around held their breath for 30 seconds, then...

"CUT!! CU-UT!!"

"Move OUT to re-frame for the wide shot!" ... or something like that.

I didn't recognize the actress they were filming in the car scene, but we did have some suspicions about a tall, lanky man in dark glasses and a hoodie standing just behind the cameras. Was that Josh Lucas? Same walk, same build... hard to tell with the glasses, though.

The wind was biting and after we'd been out there about an hour the kids began to really get fidgety. Joshua wanted to know if we were going to watch the car crash. I repeatedly tried to reassure him that it would be a CONTROLLED car crash, not an accidental car crash, and that everyone would be fine, but there was no convincing him that any good could come from a car being wrecked in any way. He's like that. He doesn't like his toy cars to get smashed up and wrecked. Even when he's playing with them and jumping them with his toy monster trucks, none of them actually touch each other in the process. You only know that he's playing "Crashing Cars" because of the sound effects he makes!

We made our way back to the parking lot. I snapped a photo of the costume trailer and camper parked there in front of our car, then sighed and put the camera away in my pocket. Oh, well, I thought, it was fascinating to see the movie being shot, even if I didn't see Josh Lucas.

"Hey Hon! There he IS!" I heard Colby call to me from the side of the car. I turned just in time to see Josh Lucas step out of the camper and into the passenger seat of the black Suburban parked in front of it.

My jaw dropped open and I stared as they drove away, just a few measly feet away from me.

Yay!!! Good timing! Well, except for the fact I'd just put my camera away 5 seconds before. I did my little happy dance and squealed my squeal before hopping into the warm car.

*sigh* Yes, I have to admit, it was fun to feel like I was 16 and about to see one of the Jonas brothers or something. Hey! At least I'm not one of these 30-something moms drooling over some twinkling vampire! Really!

"I'm trying to tone down the excitement here, honey." I said to my hubby as we drove away.

"That's okay," he said, "you know I have too much self confidence to be bothered by THAT!"

Yep, ain't that the truth. Gotta love that man!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Barn Kitty and Her Offspring

Last year in October we adopted a kitty from some friends who moved away. She was a pretty little black kitty who seemed friendly and loving when I brought her home from her perch in the barn at her old home. I knew she was pretty much a barn cat, but I thought she'd quickly make the transition from barn to house without much fuss. What cat wouldn't want to be inside all winter long cooped up with three little kids?

In the house she came, and under the chair she went. We didn't see her for several more hours. No amount of food or bird feathers on a string could lure her from her hiding spot. At one point the kids tipped the recliner over to find her while I was occupied elsewhere, and they came crying to me when she was nowhere to be found! I grabbed a towel and dried my hands with a sigh as I walked into the living room where the recliner sat on it's top and the workings of the rocker were exposed to the big window. Good grief, I thought, what would the neighbors think?!

Sure enough, no kitty was purring quietly under the chair waiting to be nabbed by grubby little hands. Instead, she was up IN the underside of the chair so far you could just barely make out her glowing yellow eyes. Of course, it helped that she was coal-black and the chair disguised her very well. I careful set the chair back down and told the kids she must be hiding somewhere around here and shrugged my shoulders. That set them off on an hour long treasure hunt that turned up nothing. They went to bed that night sorely disappointed in their new house-kitty.

As I let Twerty out before bedtime, a black object shot from the corner of my eye past my feet and out the door. This was not good. Eventually she made her way to the barn.

In the barn she became lovey and purred whenever Colby would bring her a bowl of food, riding around on his shoulders as he fed the horses.

Now, I thought, Now she's ready to come in and be a respectable house cat.

Wrong. The second she came in the back door with me she turned into a crazed maniac, shooting around the room and hissing at me, eventually crouched in the back of one of the high shelves staring at me with those glowing eyes. Good grief! Maybe we should have renamed her Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde! A few scratches and some bloody hands later, she was released back into the wilds of the farm and made her way happily back to the barn, where she continued to purr and ride around on Colby's shoulders.

When spring came she disappeared, only to resurface in the shop with 4 tiny little black fluff balls huddled around her.

The kids were ecstatic. KITTENS! They screamed when they found out. Surely one could be made into a house cat, I thought.

Or not. Barn Kitty made every attempt to prevent us from successfully taming her kittens. She purred when we brought food to her, but growled menacingly when we touched her babies. Now and then I'd sneak one out to bring into the house and love on so he'd get used to people.

Soon I found that she would move the kittens whenever I touched one, and I didn't have time to track them down in the midst of the piles of tools and materials spread around everywhere. When they were old enough to start eating some soft food, Barn Kitty would come out and purr while she ate and growl at the kittens if they ventured forth from their hiding place as if to say, "Over my dead body will you make these kittens friendly with you, lady.", and then she'd go back to purring and eating.

Summer came and the kittens started exploring their world. They learned to hunt. They caught all the leftover mice in the barn and the squirrels in the shop. And they wouldn't let us within 30 feet of them.

Eventually we dubbed one of them "The Brave Kitty". He was the first to take food from our hands, the first to let us touch him, and began to purr whenever we brought him food.

One day we lured him in the house with a whole can of food all to himself.

He hid under the bookshelf only peeking his head out to eat when no one was around.

The next day we lured him in again, and that time he came all the way out from under the bookshelf and let us touch him for brief moments before shooting back out of sight.

The third day we tried to lure him in and his brother decided to try it. He came in, shot past the food and went straight for the chair. Hmm.. I thought, this seems familiar! He had to be extricated after the kids went to bed with gloves and a blanket.

Brave Kitty came back in every day after that, and soon didn't retreat to the shelf at all. Soon he was letting us pick him up and pet him, playing with Twerty, and purring so hard it turned into an odd squeak-purr. He has even started playing with us. He puts up with the girls carrying him around and all kinds of things little kids do to the poor pets of the house.

His brother did come in one other time, followed Brave Kitty in the door and somehow made his way up the stairs to Emmy's room.

We found him huddled behind the furniture with his ears back and wild glowing yellow eyes. Dr. Jekyll Junior, apparently. I called Colby to come up and HELP me get the cat out of the room so Emmy could go to sleep in there. He came in armed with a blanket and I was wishing I'd thought to at least bring my gardening gloves in with me.

Colby closed the door quickly behind him and we had to wait for our eyes to adjust to the semi-darkness of her room. There's no light in that room, but that's a different story altogether.

We heaved up the couch and turned it over, just in time to watch a flying black furball leap up to the top of the curtain rod and turn, hissing at us, before a very impressive acrobatic flip from the curtain to the top of the door jamb to the back of the couch and back to the curtain, where he clung, swinging back and forth and growling with his ears pinned back. Whoa there, Jekyll, jr. A few more trips around the light fixture, curtains, back of my legs, and soon he was caught in the blanket and ready for transport back out doors.

Apparentely Brave Kitty has turned out to be the black sheep of the family, and a happy one at that. We will hopefully have him as part of the family for a very long time. And then... we're going to the pet store. Maybe we'll get a gerbil. Or some fish. Fish would be good.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


A Look Back At Joshua:

So there I was, laying in bed, trying to get some rest, excited that my mom was flying in the next day to be here for the birth, when.. "pop!" ... I instantly realized it had been a very bad mistake for me to procrastinate on putting the waterproof mattress pad down under the sheet. I just, you know, never thought it would happen to me!

We called the midwife and let her know what was going on, then called my mom, whose flight wasn't scheduled to leave for another 13 hours or so. From the west coast. With two connections. She was kind of panicked.

I settled in for a considerably less than restful night of timing the contractions and writing down when they came on a little notepad next to the bed. In the morning, about when the sun came up, the contractions stalled out and we called the midwife again, who suggested we shut the phone off and get some sleep as long as we could. I napped here and there, but not much. Too excited! Little did I know!!! They picked up again 2 hours later and we got ready for the real stuff to begin.

In the afternoon we finally plugged the phone back in to call the other family members who wanted to be there, and somewhere in between the phone rang! It was a by now VERY panicked mom who was somewhere in the middle of nowhere about 20 miles from our house, upset and lost.

"My mom is WHERE?!" Apparently she had hopped an earlier flight, assisted by wonderful women who understood completely at all check in counters along the way, rented a car when she got to the airport early and couldn't get a hold of us, and started driving.. "that way" towards our house! She'd only been here once before. It's amazing what having your child in labor with her first child will drive you to do. Okay, bad pun, sorry Mom!

Of course, things were much better once Mom was there. Everyone else began arriving too, and by dinner time we were all ready to get down to business. Except me. Things were getting painful! I walked up the stairs. I walked down the stairs. I then repeated that a few times. I walked and walked and grew very discouraged at the lack of progress. "Oh, look! You're a 4!!" ... "Bite Me!" ... Okay, that's what I wanted to say, but didn't. Instead I think I just cried. They say I was funny and cracking jokes during this time, but I really don't remember. Mostly what I remember is all the mean, nasty things I WANTED to say, but didn't. Except the one time the midwife told me, for the 100th time, "Ride the wave, just Ride the Wave, dear." and I told her through gritted teeth, "I. Want. To. GET. OFFffff. THE. RIDE. now." Seeing as how that was said in the middle of a strong contraction in which I could hardly breathe, I think she caught my drift.

Somewhere about that time my clothes started to feel like they were choking me and I soon became convinced they were trying to kill me and had to go. All I could think was, "Get them OFF me before I BURN them off!!!" No one argued. The midwives' eyes got big, my best friend giggled, my husband went to his happy place in the 'zone', my mom gathered all the sheets and table cloths in the house and covered every window and door, and my mother in law retreated to the corner of the living room where she prayed. Still not sure if she prayed for the safety of the delivery or my soul. Ah, well. I'm sure both needed praying for right then.

So, pretty much everything from there starts to blur together for the next 8 hours. 8 MORE HOURS! lol. There are some startlingly clear moments, like eating some warm, comforting potato soup - and then throwing it up violently several times.

Or like when the house was dark and quiet and everyone perched around the house in chairs and beds and slept. Except me. I laid on the bed set up in the living room and tried to rest in between contractions that teetered on the edge of overwhelming me. In those moments I would stare at this certain wrinkle in the sheet that covered the big window. In our Lamaze classes they'd talk about having a "focal point" and I used to laugh. A focal point? What on earth good would that do?! They showed some picture of a beach in Hawaii and suggested finding something similar to focus on. "Pshaw! Who needs a beach in Hawaii when I've got me a wrinkle to stare at?", I thought to myself when I found that, indeed, a focal point can be VERY useful.

A few weeks after Josh was born I wrote my whole birth story out for posterity's sake. The midwife asked for permission to use it in her New Parents handout. I wondered if she were trying to scare people out of having children. My story was written in such dark and foreboding tones it almost seems gothic.

Yeah, it did get dark and blurry after that wrinkle thing, but eventually there was a light turned on at the end of the tunnel. Again, sorry for the bad pun there, people! So many moments I didn't think I could do it, a couple of panicky thoughts of believing I would soon pass out from the pain, and then what? Would my EMT sister in law then go to work and slice me open to save the baby while my RN mother in law helped? At least I had a little reassurance at that thought that the baby would live even if the pain killed me. And that was the important thing. I thought of all the things I wanted to say to people.

"Take care of the baby for me...", I tried to croak out to Raini once, but I was too tired to squeeze the air out of me and form words with my mouth. So then I retreated to trying to communicate these things with my eyes. "If I blink twice will she get it?" I wondered. "Hmm.. ah, well, if I die, I die. Guess I should have written my goodbye notes before going into labor."

When the need to push finally came it was around 2 in the morning. I had been in and out of the birthing tub, relieved by the hot water, but had gotten out again to lay on the bed and rest while everyone slept. The midwife laid on the couch opposite me. As soon as my breathing changed her eyes flew open and her gaze bore into me. "Are you... pushing?", she asked? "UNnnnnhhhOooo", I replied. Her eyes squinted back in recognition. I didn't want to push. I wanted to sleep for a while so I had the strength to push. Soon the house was alive with people rushing around getting ready for the big event. When everyone was all gathered round me to watch the grunting lady give birth, the midwife gently reminded me I had wanted to give birth in the tub.

"She's fine." I heard my mother tell the midwife.

"Lisa, remember, you want to have a water birth.", the midwife directed her comment toward me, trying to get me to make eye contact with her during an incredibly BUSY moment. Some of them exchanged glances as they wondered - How are we going to lift her up and get her in the tub if she says YES? Maybe get a chair lift...? Or the engine hoist..??? 5 women, 1 man, might still be a challenge to get her up...

All the eyes in the room shifted and soon I felt like I was just blatantly being stared at. Someone rubbed my leg and asked me if I wanted to try getting in the tub. And then... THEN.. I was MAD. "FINE!!", I thought. "You want me to get in the birthing tub, FINE!" From somewhere down deep inside I found the strength in between contractions to push everyone out of my way and waddle hugely into the kitchen and sling my leg up over the edge of the tub while everyone scrambled to my assistance. I settled into the heat and buoyancy of the water as terse laughter tinkled around the circle when it sank in that 10 seconds ago I was laying on the bed pushing.

At the end of those 30 hours of labor I found myself astounded that I had overcome myself, the pain, the fear, everything. Just before dawn on the second day I finally managed to get the job done. And then there he was, in my arms, his little wrinkly face looking up at me from his perch on my chest. He took his first breath, cried his first tiny little cry, and grabbed his Daddy's thumb.

I looked up at the midwife, standing over the birthing tub and croaked with all the strength left in me, "I AM WOMAN!" Which embarrassing anecdote I had no memory of whatsoever until I watched the video one time. Apparently I was proud of myself! lol.

I'd post a picture or two of the birth, but they are entirely too graphic. And not in a blood-and-guts sort of way, but because, as stated earlier, I get all anti-clothing when I'm in labor. And besides, my husband was wearing this thick flannel shirt and a Carrhart vest over top of it in ALL the PICTURES! Seriously, he looks like he just came in from hunting. Why not a single woman in the house told him to go change outta that getup I'll never know.

A few years later when that little boy needed to have his heart fixed through an open heart surgery that lowered his body temperature, put him on the heart/lung machine for 6 hours and drew us all to our knees to lift him up before the throne of God, I was immensely thankful for having learned through those long and difficult hours of labor that I WAS strong enough to do what needed to be done, that I was capable of handling this, and that God would provide all that we needed.
About 40 minutes after surgery - age 3 years 9 months

At 4 weeks

at one year old

2 years old

3 years old! And with his undies on his head...

4 years old trying to look like Daddy

5 years old

My boy is 6 years old now!

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Old Farmhouse

This will be a long and boring post for some of you, but I know there are lots of family members who will enjoy this update!

Yes, I know I complain often about the old farmhouse life, with the dust bunnies and the drafty walls and the creaky stairs, but now and then the old girl will surprise you with the most exquisite hidden treasures.

When Colby's mom and stepdad came up last weekend and helped me with some wallpapering and some painting in the living room, I had no idea it would spark a fire under me to completely renovate the entire main room. Once I had the painting of one half of the room done and the matching wall paper up, I was too excited about the whole thing to stop there. My main problem with the changes? The carpet no longer matched. It didn't even come close to matching. It had to go.

Bright and early Monday morning after taking Josh to school I cleared out the room and pulled up the carpet. And the carpet pad. And the tack boards at the edges of the room. Which actually takes a lot of work! I was thankful that there was this big ole' crowbar sitting around the house waiting for me to put it to such a use!

Under the carpet was this linoleum, we figure it must have been installed in the early 60's based on the style and the one very old clipped out coupon for 7 cents off a box of tin foil that expired in 1964 that we found under the edge.

So after that 400 lbs or so of old flooring had been removed, I had to stand back and just stare in awe at the 100+ year old maple flooring beneath. It had been hiding there all along, covered up for nearly 50 years!

The wood stove still stood in it's place over by the old brick chimney covered over with plaster. It was far too heavy for me to move. I can't even lift a corner of it. So that evening when Colby got home he engineered a way to get it up onto a wooden cart with wheels and wheeled it off to the other side of the room so we could remove the carpet and linoleum there and FINALLY build a nice hearth.

It had already been a long day of pulling, lifting, scraping, etc. but we couldn't stop. It was so much fun! At the very end of the day, before we fell into bed, Colby decided to get out a little dish of warm, soapy water and a scrub brush and just see what the floor would look like CLEAN. It was amazing.

The next day I moved all of the furniture back into the main room and started removing carpet in the other half of the room. (which hasn't been painted yet)

Under the linoleum we found two more cold air return registers that we didn't know about. One of them actually had nothing under it. I pulled up the register and looked straight down to the basement. Wow.

Once I'd gotten up all of the carpet and linoleum and scraped and pulled up all of the nails and staples, it was time to pick up Josh from school. On the way home I picked up a big bottle of Murphy's Oil Soap and a long handled scrub brush (plus a heavy duty hand one just in case). Only a few feet into scrubbing with the long handled one I bent the handle completely over. And that area wasn't nearly as clean as I wanted it to be. So the rest of that afternoon I spent on my hands and knees scrubbing for all I was worth. Somewhere in the midst of that I had my "Worst Mommy of the Year" moment when my girls took themselves over to Grandma Rose's house to watch TV completely without my knowledge. There were several frantic minutes as I made myself hoarse and searched every outbuilding half a dozen times. I think I got a few gray hairs for that one and about 5 years taken off my life. Anyway, let's not dwell on that, shall we?

Scrubbing that floor was an incredibly muddy task. The amount of dirt and grime that came off of that wood was amazing, and I would scrub, scrub, scrub one small area, then quickly wipe off the grime with paper towels or newspapers because it completely soiled a rag so quickly and thoroughly that I was spending too much time trying to rinse it out each time and I didn't want it to soak back into the wood.

When it was wet it was pretty and you could see all of the burling and different shades of dark and light woods.

When Colby got home that night, he helped me do a second scrubbing on the cleaned area. I couldn't believe how much mud he still made the second time around.

There are still many square feet yet to be scrubbed, but our first priority was to get the hearth built and reinstall the stove so we could heat the house with wood again as quickly as possible. So on Friday Colby began the task of building the hearth and laying the stone tile. First he had to go down to the basement and brace up the beams so the extra weight wouldn't be a problem.

We had found a place next to the door to the stairwell where the old wood floor had been patched with newer wood flooring that didn't match. It isn't the same width and includes some pieces of oak, it looks like. We talked about removing the maple flooring where the hearth would be placed so we could patch that area properly, but in the end decided against it - I wanted to keep the floor under the hearth intact if at all possible, and really the old patch told a story and adds to the history of the house. The patch was placed there a VERY long time ago, when they removed the old staircase that went up from the living room straight up to Joshua's room, before the addition of the kitchen.

The bottom of the built-in bookcase was removed and you can see how many layers of paint there were over the old lathe and plaster wall at the back.

The building of the hearth went smoothly, and while it is still a ways away from being done, once the 9 middle stone tiles were placed and set, we were ready to let that cure over the Sabbath and be ready to reinstall the stove Sunday.

Tiles set in place and drying Friday afternoon. They will look a whole lot better when they are cleaned and sealed, but that won't be until after the rest of the tiles have been laid and grouted.

With some furniture in - gasp! the couch without it's cover! - and livable for Sabbath.

Sunday afternoon we put the stove back in place and lit a nice warm fire! Yes, there's still a long way to go to finish the hearth, the floor, and the mantle, but we are hoping to have it mostly done by Thanksgiving!

This is a rough sketch that Colby did on a piece of lumber of what the end result will be like once all of the tile has been laid and the mantle built.

Last night after we had stacked some more firewood and put the kids to bed, we curled up on the couch. I started reading our new book to Colby while we listened to the snapping, crackling fire in the stove and soaked up it's warmth. There is no doubt that we are very blessed!


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