Sunday, October 25, 2009


Oh look! I'm blogging.

Let's see, I wrote 34 posts in 2008 and.....5 in 2009. Hmm, I wonder what happened in 2009? Oh that's right, the baby!

I have become the classic overworked mother with little kids (3 five and under). And I have a weekend job. And I'm homeschooling. So, in that light, I've decided I need a bedcation.

What is a bedcation? Well, for me it would be 3 days in my nice cozy bed (with flannel sheets). The children would come in to visit and read stories with me but only for a little while. I'd take no less than three naps in a day (the baby could stay for those because he's such a good snuggler). Someone would bring me tasty and nutritious food (and chocolate) when I was hungry. I'd have the laptop and a stack of good books for between naptimes. I might get up to take a shower or go to the bathroom but no one is allowed to interrupt my bedcation bliss with requests for...well, anything. The cats are allowed to be on the bed as long as they don't request feeding. My husband is allowed on the bed as long as conversation is light, cheerful and only what I want to talk about. And if I want to sleep diagonally, he has to go somewhere else.

And the most important part of bedcation? Someone (not me) has to take care of EVERYTHING ELSE. Because we all know how hard it is to come back to a messy house after a vacation so a true bedcation involves someone taking care of the kids, house, pets, et al.

Yeah, I think that should do it. Bedcation once a month to see me through the toddler years.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dirty House Friends

I think I've mentioned in prior posts that I am not a woman in love with house work. Just the opposite (in hate with housework?). We have a base range of clean in our house that goes from fairly straightened to "step over the pile". It's a big range.

My spoken philosophy on cleaning the house for guests is "love me, not my house" but the reality is that I tend to go into a bit of a cleaning tizzy if I have people coming over that I don't really know. While I'm not a big people-pleaser, I get a slightly pinched over what a person might think if they had to use my bathroom in its normal resting state of little-kid-grubby.

Which is why I really appreciate my "dirty house friends". These are the people that love me and I trust them enough to keep loving me, whatever the condition of my house. It isn't that I want them to use the bathroom as-is but if they want to come over and I don't have time to clean it then I don't worry. My sister-in-law gets on this list, as does my mother and several other friends. I also have a few who get on the list because of their own low standards (the bachelor friend who never does dishes, for example).

The question I've been asking myself the last couple weeks is "Who are my dirty life friends?" Meaning, who can I trust enough to show up without my life all put together and know they still love me? Am I willing to do that with anyone, really? Because I like to be put together. A lot. Or maybe have some problem I can talk about in the past tense but only to show my openness and honesty, not to actually admit that I have anything current that needs helping. I'm kind of a hard head that way. And it isn't because there are people who don't love me, it is because I don't like to be messy or imperfect or vulnerable so I don't take the risk of putting it all out for them.

This is a problem, as of late, because I'm not doing so hot. Three kids and no money and postpartum to boot are kicking my butt. My choices have been shame (self, mostly) or numb (yeah Face Book). I'm not feeling happy. I love my kids but being a mom is hard and tiring. I want to stay home with them but I miss work and the extra money it brought. I want to run away and have an adventure without any responsibility. I feel heavy and depressed and sad. How's that for not put together?

Actually, I'm doing slightly better than I was. The first way I know is that I have the ability to write this. Being numb does not foster creativity. I also know I'm doing a little better because I've started telling people that things suck for me right now. Them: "How are you doing?" Me: "Crappy. You?" :) I even was able to cry about something I was sad about versus just finding a way to not feel it. It is sort of a weird way to mark progress but it is progress.

I know this is hormonal, I know it is situational, I know it will pass as things get more routine and I get more sleep. I'm putting one foot in front of the other trying to do what I know will help like eat and sleep and pray and be with people. But, right now I feel yucky at least a little bit every day. I don't like it very much.

I can't even think of a way to wrap up this post. Oh well. Love me, not my "togetherness".

Friday, February 13, 2009

Birth Story

**This is reprinted from Facebook for a particular lurker who isn't on that program. You know who you are!**

We were ready. The birth team was prepped, the birth tub was inflated in the garage, we had the bag of birth supplies packed, the baby girl clothes were in the dresser. Now all that was left was the waiting for our third daughter to arrive.

Thursday night, 1/22, Kevin had a little chat with "Baby Andra" in my tummy letting her know that it was time for her to come. Of course, I was only 39 weeks but that was the longest I'd been pregnant (Cadence came at 37 and Elyse at 38 1/2). He explained that he wanted to meet her so she could come the next day, as far as he was concerned.

I slept well that night and got up at about 5:30 to use the bathroom. As I sat down, I felt what could only be my water breaking. This was the day! I grabbed a towel and went back to bed. I woke Kevin up and told him apparently his baby could take direction because we were go for labor. I wasn't having any contractions so I called my friend and apprentice midwife Joanna to let her know and texted the rest of my birth team then went back to bed.

About 7:30 I started having some mild contractions every 10-15 minutes. I got up with Elyse and snuggled her on the sofa. Cadence got up soon after and I got to tell them that we'd meet their sister that day. They were jazzed!

The contractions had picked up a little and I was cold so I got in the shower while Kevin putzed around with the kids. I used up all the hot water then crawled into bed (I love my flannel sheets!). By this time it was about 9 and Kevin was getting a little stressed out doing house stuff with the kids so hyper (they kept wanting to jump on the bed, among other things). We decided to call my mom and ask her to take them to the park for an hour. We had a doula planned to be with the girls but it seemed too early to call her since I was still having contractions 10 minutes apart and able to talk through them.

By this time the endorphins had kicked in and I was dozing between contractions (I love that space between contractions, it seems like my birthday every time the hurting stops). I talked with Joanna again and she laughed that I was yawning.

My mom came at around 10. I was having contractions about 7 minutes apart, breathing through them. We told her we'd call in about an hour to bring the girls home. Kevin came and hung out with me on the bed while I dozed/contracted.

I got my first "toe curler" sometime after that. When the next came 5-7 minutes I told Kevin it was time to call Joanna and Wendi (midwife) and fill the tub. Kevin reported that Joanna would be there in about 30 minutes, which was fine. It was probably 11:15.

The next contraction was a doozy and I started dry heaving (my lovely personal gift--I always barf in labor). I had a bowl but really wanted to get to the bathroom because I thought I was going to have diarrhea too. I hollered for Kevin and he helped me stand up--and everything changed.

The next few minutes are really blurry. I got to the toilet. I was still heaving but now I was pushing too. I reached down and realized my perineum was bulging--this was baby coming! I asked Kevin to look and he said he saw head. He grabbed a towel. I reached down and felt ears. He told me to stand up to make room and we both reached down and delivered our baby. He wrapped the baby in the towel and we rubbed until we got a good cry. Kevin went to call Joanna to tell her and to grab more towels and a bowl to catch the placenta (neither of us wanted to dig it out of the toilet or drop it on the floor). It was about 11:35.

As Kevin stepped out, I looked at the little wet bundle in my arms and decided to do the finger/toe count. So I opened the towel to get a look at her and got my second surprise in a very short time. Our little girl, Andra Faith, WAS A BOY! I once again bellowed for Kevin (poor guy). When he came around the corner, all I could do was open the towel. My dear husband, who had just help deliver his own baby unassisted while maintaining calm, nearly fainted. I wish I could have gotten his expression on video.

I moved to the bed, Joanna and Wendi arrived. My mom came back (she didn't believe Kevin at first when he called). Cadence and Elyse met their brother. Cadence's response was, "A brother? That's what I prayed for!" Eventually I nursed, ate, then slept.

It took us two days to name Alexander Eugene. It took a few days after that to stop calling him "Andra".

I am amazed that I delivered an 8 lb 14.5 oz baby with contractions never closer than 5 minutes apart. I am tickled with our son. I think next baby we'll skip the ultrasound gender check and I'm making the midwife come when my water breaks.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Saying Goodbye to Andra

I'm a little emotional today. It probably has a lot to do with low sleep and the two week hormone drop. But, regardless of the reason, I'm feeling sad.

Our son was born 13 days ago. His arrival came as a complete surprise because we had been told we were having a girl. For the last 16 weeks of my pregnancy, I had been having conversations with Andra Faith. I pulled out our little girl clothes and put them in the dresser, remembering the other two girls wearing most of them. I thought about three girls going through teenage years, wondered who would make alliances with whom, dreamed about what kind of woman she would grow into. We had a birth blessing and prayed for her by name. I bonded with the little "girl" growing inside of me. Except, she wasn't a girl, he was a boy.

Today I packed away the pink baby clothes and I feel sad. It is a weird feeling to grieve over the loss of a child that never really existed except in my imagination. The whole time I thought I was talking to Andra, I was really talking to Alexander. He heard my voice, felt my touch, kicked my ribs and had the hiccups at 10 p.m. every night. He is a real, healthy and cute little boy. He will play with trucks, fight with his sisters and, I hope, grow into a man who loves Jesus. I've always hoped for both daughters and sons. I'm so glad and grateful for my boy. And I miss the girl I imagined.

So today I am sad for Andra. I know I could talk myself out of it but I'm not going to. I want to embrace Alexander for the God-image person that he is, see him and know him as he grows. To do that, I have to release who he isn't. He isn't a daughter, he isn't the third sister, he isn't Andra Faith. Releasing her will open the door for me to embrace him as his own person with his own future. My son, Alexander Eugene.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Am I Being too Sensitive?

So, a lot has happened that I haven't blogged about...namely the birth of our son.

But instead of doing that, I'm going to rant about the vacuum.

I have a pretty nice vacuum. A year ago, Christmas, my in-laws bought me a Kenmore Progressive dust suckin' machine. (Yes, I asked for a vacuum for Christmas.) It slices, it dices, it has more bells and whistles on it than I would have ever bought for myself.

But there is one "perk" on it I hate...the nag lights aka "dirt sensors". These lights are on the top of the body of the machine. There are three of them and they turn yellow with the amount of dirt I am vacuuming. Here is the official interpretation:

No lights: NOW it is clean, you may proceed to the next area guilt free
One light: Oops, you missed a spot
Two lights: Have we been a bit neglectful of our carpets lately?
Three lights: Holy sandboxes! You know this isn't for outdoor use, right?

I just vacuumed. Guess who's carpet is three light yellow? Everywhere. Even after letting the vacuum run on the spot for 10 seconds.

I found myself having a conversation with the vacuum. "Look," I said, "I just had a baby 9 days ago, I'm not even supposed to be vacuuming yet except that Kevin cleaned up the toys so I figured I'd finish the job. [waiting for lights to go off] I mean, c'mon, we have 6--count them 6--indoor cats and two preschoolers who like to play in the dirt. [Still waiting]. How about just moving from three to two so I feel like I've accomplished something? [Nada] Fine. I'm moving to the next area and assuming the lights are malfunctioning. Take that."

And I did. The carpet looks better but I know that it is still three-light dirty. Kind of like how everyone has at least one pair of underwear right now but there is a pile of dirty laundry. Or how we've been eating off paper plates but we have to wash glasses as we use them. Or how my children (all three) are safe and fed but perhaps all a bit neglected at the moment.

Kevin quoted the Hobbit this morning about feeling like too little butter spread across too much bread. Yeah, I get that. Hopefully, add a week postpartum and the butter will feel a bit more and the bread a bit less.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Coming Back to a Heart of Worship

First off, I want to reference a slightly different take on the same subject, as presented by my dear friend Suzanne here. She's uber-talented and knows about worship from the leading side.

What I'm pondering right now is corporate worship...singing, praying together, reading God's word out loud...all at a set time. I'm not all sorted out about it but I've found if I don't write something, it will all disappear into the void that is my mind. :)

Our family is involved in a house church but we also have the opportunity to have a more corporate time of celebration on Sunday nights. Partly because the baby is coming and partly because of some changes in me, we are making a more concerted effort to go on Sunday nights. Last night we had a good time of singing and praying, probably 30 minutes or more. I got something out of it but I also was left pondering, "What is it I'm supposed to be doing to really worship? How do I know if I've done it or not?"

The background is that I grew up in a church tradition where "worship" equalled "singing", specifically hymns with an occasional worship chorus if we were feeling cheeky. The mainstream church I attended as an adult also seemed to define worship as singing, only with edgy music that had drums and, perhaps, more hand raising.

One of the things that led my exodus from traditional church was the number of times I heard people rating the morning's worship by whether they liked the songs, performers, etc. So, if it was entertaining, it was good? Or if it was good music you could connect to God? You connected to God cried? felt good? what? So then I got really sensitive to anything I thought was trying to manipulate me into some sort of feeling. I got really critical of "boyfriend Jesus" songs (replace Jesus with "honey" and get a pop rock song), dimmed lights, repeated choruses, you get the picture. I've carried that with me into my current "organic" church.

The problem is, I like music. I believe God calls us to worship Him. I even enjoy having an emotional experience around my faith. And here I am in all my prickly defensiveness just waiting for someone to try and make me feel a certain way about God, church or myself while worshipping. Let me tell you, this does not open up my heart to much of anything. I don't know about other folks, but I can't really hold the space of being open to receive while also saying "back off!"

So what am I supposed to be doing? What is worship all about? Who cares what it is about for other people, what is it about for ME?

As far as I've gotten, this is what I think (keep in mind, I don't have scriptures here. I might be all wrong against the Bible. My current favorite Bible has no concordance so I need to go hunt down my other one. I am not the source of Truth, I get that):

The point of worship is to help me get to my most vulnerable and deep self and have dialogue with Jesus from that place. This is the inner part that gets covered over with small talk and theology and my insecurity and sin. I don't like to go there, it is a hard place to find. So, in worship, I have to filter what I'm doing through my head (don't turn off the brain and regurgitate mindlessly but don't just think and stop), and let what I'm saying, singing, praying settle down into my heart. The risk is that I will get to my emotions and just stop, thinking that I've gotten to where I need to go. But, while emotions live in my deep heart, they aren't the point. They are, sometimes, a by-product of the true conversation. Sometimes the true conversation is more like colors or impressions than words. Sometimes it is a sense of needing to do something, pray for someone, a recollection of a piece of scripture. Sometimes it is quiet, sometimes it is unsettling. All of it comes from the deep core of who I am connecting to the I AM.

What I'm learning to do is to see those that "lead worship" as those facilitating an invitation. God is inviting me into conversation with Him. Will I come? What can help me focus on getting to my deep heart, what will minimize the distractions? Am I willing to open up to the probing, penetrating heart of God and show him mine in return? And so often this invitation is in music because music represents a beauty that goes beyond the mind. (I read a quote I love by Simone Weil that says "The beauty of the world is almost the only way by which we can allow God to penetrate us...Beauty captivates the senses in order to obtain permission to pass straight through to the soul...The soul's inclination to love beauty is the trap God most frequently uses in order to win it.")

At the same time, can a worship leader manipulate in order to see a desired outcome? Sure. If tears are the measure of a good worship time, there will always be someone who works the crowd for tears. But even if he or she IS doing that, I am still responsible for doing what I know is right and true. I know the real point, I don't get off the hook if someone else doesn't. It is yet another example of where I have to stand up and have my own relationship with God, not pass the buck to another person to make it happen. Which is much, much harder but really the only way to grow.