Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Travel - Reverb10

Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

Hmmmm.... I'm not sure why I thought December was a good month to try to start blogging again. I've fallen way behind on answering the daily prompts, but today's is easy, mostly because it doesn't require any introspection. 

Travel. I love it; although it's a bit more challenging (and expensive) with kids in tow. But, I love having the kids along, seeing new things through their eyes, and being forced to take things slowly and just enjoy the being together that happens. 

This January we spent three weeks in Bucerias, Mexico, just north of Puerto Vallarta. It was lovely, peaceful, relaxing, sunny, and warm. We spent most of our days just swimming, walking into town, and eating yummy Mexican food. Erik's parents joined us for a week and it was fun to have them with us and share that special place with them. We took the bus into Puerto Vallarta a couple of times and enjoyed walking along the malecon. We also rented a vehicle and drove up into the mountains to a lovely little town called San Sebastian del Oeste. 

That was the main travel we did this year. There were other smaller trips to see friends here in Oregon and Washington, to visit waterfalls and other such delights.

Next year? How and where wouldn't I like to travel would be easier to answer? Realistically though, if we do another big trip it will probably be to Mexico again. It's kind of our go-to destination because we use our Alaska Airlines credit card to pay for just about everything we buy, then pay it off each month. Those miles add up, and along with the $99 companion fare they offer each year, we've never paid more than about $700 for our whole family to fly to Mexico. That makes is do-able, and it's also nice that it's not too far away. So, while I'd love to travel further afield - Thailand, India, Europe, Haiti, Costa Rica - for now Mexico is probably the only place we can really get to.

This post is part of reverb10.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

5 Minutes - Reverb10

5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

2010. It's hard to believe it's almost over already. Quick memories:
Warm sunshine on my baby belly in Mexico, happy splashing and swimming with the kids, tacos, whale watching, sand.
Morning snuggles with my kids.
Seeing the joy they are finding in creativity and making gifts for others.
Giving birth to Pearl; getting to know this sweetest of babies.
Raphael learning to talk; all the funny ways he pronounces his words.
Poppy sounding out her first words.
Brigid's 40 Day Blessing and her baptism.
Watching the Apparent Project grow, selling AP jewelry, and raising money to build a house in Haiti.
Evenings by the fire. 
Listening to the kids recite poetry and immerse themselves in imaginative play.
Watching my husband play with the kids and laughing together.

Time's up.

This post is part of reverb10.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Appreciate- Reverb10

Appreciate. What's the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

I think I missed a whole bunch of days. It's been busy busy, happy, sad, busy. I entered the magical world of Narnia (the ballet, not the movie), grieved with a dear friend as she held her tiny lifeless baby in her arms, tried to cram a year's worth of visiting with another friend into an evening, shared my enthusiasm for Apparent Project jewelry, cooked meals, soothed owies, loved my family, lost my temper, slept (but not enough), put up our Christmas tree, and appreciated the wonder of it all. 

Which leads back to the prompt: Appreciate. I don't know if there is any one thing I can point to. I think I'm learning to appreciate my son Peregrine more. He is the one that keeps me on my toes, that challenges me at every turn. So often others tell me the wonderful things they see in him, and I need to hear that. I need to grow in my appreciation of the unique character that he is. 

Each year I appreciate my mom more. As I grow in my own motherhood I see how much she poured her life into her kids, how she still does. I see my own selfishness, and I think of how she has given her life, her interests, her self, for the sake of her family. She is one of my heroes. 

I appreciate quiet, in those fleeting moments when it can be had. 

I appreciate my husband; hard working, steady, loving, so good to us. I waited what seemed like a long time for him. He was worth it. I'm blessed.

This post is part of reverb10.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Party - Reverb10

Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

I must be a middle aged (that sounds way too old for me) mother, because I'd have to say hands down the party of the year for me was Peregrine's 8th birthday. We've always had a costume party for him, and most years it's just been family. We wait with great excitement to see what everyone will come dressed as, and there is great anticipation as the time draws near. 
This year, for probably not the first time, Peregrine wanted to dress as a pirate. Now, I've been fighting against pirate-dom for years, but this year I finally surrendered and decided we'd just make it fun and lighthearted. He decided to ask his guests to bring a pie for a "pirate style pie contest" of which he would be the judge, and he carefully crafted ribbons for the winners of his contest. We found everything we needed for Peregrine's costume in a quick goodwill run, and I fashioned a "pie-rate" patch for the back of his vest. (I have to give him design credit though as he drew for me what he wanted it to look like.)
The day arrived, and with it the guests (some from as far away as Arizona!), the costumes, and the pies. As usual, there were grandparents, aunties, uncles, and cousins in grand costumes. There was delicious food, and then there was pie. All sorts of pie. We dished a small piece of each pie onto a large plate for the judge, who thoughtfully tried each one. The room was quiet as he pronounced the winners. And this is where our boy really shone; as he handed out the ribbons he was so diplomatic, so in charge, recognizing each entry for it's different quality, and each person for their contribution to his party. I was amazed and pleased. 

Another thing I noticed was how the gifts are changing to reflect a boy who is no longer little. Instead of lots of toys there were science kits and gadgets and books; he was thrilled with everything, and without being prompted remembered to thank people as he opened his gifts. 
It was a happy day for my happy (not-so-little) pie-rate. 

This post is part of reverb10

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Beautifully Different

December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)

This is a hard question; different from whom? There are many ways in which I'm "different" than the mainstream culture. I have four kids and homeschool, eat very natural food, have all sorts of opinions that aren't one bit politially correct. I'm a Christian, a follower of Jesus Christ, and not only that, I'm part of the ancient eastern Orthodox Christian church. I have very hairy arms and my nose is pierced.

I've actually given a fair bit of thought to this whole being different thing. Why am I not content with the status quo? Is it a good thing? A pride thing? A bad thing? Why are some people happy to just go along with the flow, not really questioning the norm, and others of us have to question, delve into, rethink everything?. Sometimes it's lonely. Sometimes it's kind of fun. 

If any part of my "differentness" lights people up, then I hope it is the light of Christ shining through me, shining in spite of all the ways I dim that precious Light. If there is any beauty in me, in comes from Him.

This post is part of reverb10.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Community- Reverb10

December 7 – Community
Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?
Community is something I love, something I long for. I've lived in and been a part of it at different levels. Right now I live in a "micro-community" of my own little family, and it takes more effort to build and be a part of a larger community. This year I've grown closer to and more involved in my church family and as I reflect on this it makes me very glad. At times I wish I were able to participate  and serve more, or just be more involved on account of the season of my life with small children. But, there is so much grace, grace for where I'm at and gentle encouragement to keep on going. Some days it's so hard just to be there, in church, but always there is so much support, so many voices of grace. There are hands ready to help grab a toddler or hold a baby or redirect a kid with lots of energy. There is a family that embraces my family and more importantly, there is a mystical communion we share; even when we are not together, I am becoming more aware of how we are all part of One Body. 

I look forward to growing more in communion, in community, with my own "little" family, with my church family, and with everyone who is part of my life.

This post is part of reverb10.

Make - Reverb10

I'm just not going to count the popsicle stick and button snowflake ornaments I made with the kids yesterday, okay? 
In a frenzy of last minute, late night crafting, I made a stocking for my wee Brigid. I'm married to the man who claims to have the best stocking in the world, and I've lovingly fashioned unique stockings for each of my kids. They too are convinced that each of theirs is the best. So, when I set out to make a new one, I have a lot to live up to! This time I decided to do something fun, a Victorian style "Crazy quilt" stocking. Having recently done some serious purging of my fabric stash I bought all new fabrics for this project- silk, velvet, an Indian sari fabric, brocade, and a couple different trims. Erik wanted me to put some pearls on it, in honor of our little "Pearl". I also added a pearly heart shaped button, and, since she's named after an Irish saint, embroidered a Celtic knot heart. I love the way it came out and hope that she too will think she has the best stocking in the world! 
I also crafted two little felt hearts to put in the girls' stockings this year. I'd bought some ornaments on clearance after Christmas last year, but when I unpacked them I decided I really didn't like them. So, with only a few days before St. Nicholas day, when we open stockings, I decided to make ornaments. Poppy is so thrilled at having a little sister and loves to have matching things; I didn't have enough of the red felt to make them both the same, so I did them opposite. They're stuffed with bits of wool, and were a fun little project to put together. 
I have many projects I want to make, and never enough time. With Christmas coming up though, I have a few gifts left to make for various people. And that's all I have to say about that.

This post is part of reverb10.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Let Go - Reverb10

Sometimes it's all I can do to NOT take over! 

This was a hard question for me, and I was tempted to skip it. Today's prompt, after all, is a lot more fun. The more I thought on it though, the more I realized how hard it is for me to let go of control. I can't say that I have let go of it this year, but rather that I'm trying. Kids seem to go from utterly helpless to fiercely independent in a matter of moments, which means that I need to change from doing everything for them, to teaching them to do things, and then....letting go. Letting them button their own shirt, even if it's mismatched. Letting them decorate their own cake, even if it's messy, or their own gingerbread house, even if, (gasp!) all the candy is not symmetrical. It means letting them sew things and craft things and not grab the needle or the scissors and trim things up a little. It means letting them experience for themselves the joy of learning, the satisfaction of having created something by themselves. And for some reason, I find this hard. Very hard. 
As I think on this, I realize how much more intentional I need to be about this letting go, not just in the small matters, but in the bigger ones too. I mean, really, it doesn't matter that my son loves to wear nice button up shirts, one on top of another, untucked, with a belt over top and camo shorts on the bottom. This is seriously one of this favorite combinations of clothing, and I've exercised considerable restraint in not telling him how ridiculous it looks. He may look back on his pictures someday and wish I'd told him, but whatever. Clothing is not something I choose to make a battle over, but there are other areas where I need to start giving my older two kids more freedom. I need to guide, but not carry and control. I need to be there for them, but not micromanage their days. It's a hard balance, this letting go, and I hope it's something I will continue to grow in. 

This post is part of reverb10.

St. Nicholas Day

Happy Saint Nicholas Day!

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Wonder - Reverb10

Introducing our newest child to the wonder of our faith.

 Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

I like the wording of this question. It's easy to focus on the things in my life that are rather mundane; there is an abundance of laundry, cooking, diapers, sweeping, cleaning, and the like. Wonder is something that must be cultivated. I think the two things in my life that have helped me to retain a sense of wonder, or at least to grasp it at certain moments, are my children and my faith. Both of those are also things that without cultivation will not thrive. Through the eyes of my children I see life as they see it, exciting, something to be grasped and held onto. Through the eyes of faith I see life as a precious gift; I see beauty rising from ashes. I see the image of Christ in the poor, the hungry, the destitute. I see it in my children, my husband, and sometimes I glimpse it in myself, for I too, am made to be like Him. I am loved and accepted in the Beloved, and I wonder at the marvelous grace that continues to flow in and around us. 
The answer to this question is itself a wonder; it is in giving to others, dying to myself, seeking to truly live a life of faith and love, that wonder is cultivated, kept alive, and growing within. 

This post is part of reverb10.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Moment - Reverb 10

Brand New

I didn't have to think too hard about this one; the moment our little Pearl was born was probably my most "alive", intense, and wonderful one of the year. If I were never to give birth to another child, it is that moment, when the work is over and your tiny, warm, wet Life is placed on your chest, that I would be sad never to experience again. 

It's a moment of fulfillment; the little one I've grown, waited for, imagined, been sick for, prepared for, labored with all my strength for, prayed for; she is here. She has been placed upon my chest by her Daddy, my Love; he has been the first to hold her, to take her from me and give her to me, all in one motion. It's the end, and yet it is the beginning, all wrapped up in one wonderful moment. There is such a sense of relief, of release, a flowing of love, the weight of responsibility, of exhaustion and exhilaration all wrapped up one little person. There is a flood of joy as I feast my eyes upon this Baby, taking in her features, her dark hair, her perfectly formed mouth. She is all softness and warmth, fresh from my body, no longer within me, but still a part of me, forever. Soft morning light, the light of a spring morning, comes in the large window, and yet I am only aware of Her, of the miracle, the gift, that she is. She cries, the way only a brand new baby does, and I rejoice at the sound of her, this baby whom I have only felt. There is rejoicing all around me, tears of joy, praises and thanksgiving. I am surrounded by the people I love best in this world, and those who love me, all ready to love and be loved by this little child. It is a time for joy, the coming of a child, the moment I first meet my beloved little Brigid Pearl. 

One Word - Reverb10

A Typical Busy Moment in my Day

My word for this year, for 2010, would have to be Busy. Seems I run in a hundred directions at once, caring for small people and all the details of their lives. It's a good kind of busy, the best I can imagine. I never feel caught up, rarely feel as if I've accomplished all the things I'd like to by the end of the day, but I wouldn't trade it for any other life.

I'd like to look back on 2011, and call it Joy. So often I forget that, let it go, and allow feelings of frustration and anxiety to define me. I don't anticipate this next year being any less Busy than this one; in fact, with my baby becoming mobile in the next several months I imagine it being the busiest year yet. My hope, my prayer, is that I will move through it with a little more grace, a little more peace of soul, and a lot more Joy. 

Long Time No Blog

Back in the early Fall I had some idea that I was going to get back to regular posting on my blog....( insert laughter here.) Each day goes by, and I'm running along behind it trying not to swallow too much dust. Did you know that having four kids is time consuming? And cooking for, cleaning up after, homeschooling, and all the other things that come along with them take up a lot of time too? Oh, and then there's this incredible man that lives here as well; he seems familiar, like someone I knew in the past. Sometimes he gets a minute or three of my time, but not nearly enough. Someday I'm going to make it up to him, but for now he patiently goes to work each day, comes home, plays with kids, helps with dishes, rarely bats an eye at the messes that seem to pop up around here, and in general just loves me like a rock.... it's a good life.
I very much enjoy writing, and would love to make more time for it. (My high school history teacher used to say "Time is something you make, not something you have"; I think there's something to that.) For now, little Facebook "soundbites" are serving me well for jotting down a few little things here and there, leaving this space sorely neglected. My friend Rae, who lives in India, just started participating in reverb10, a daily prompt for the month of December. It's a chance for bloggers to "reflect on this year and manifest what's next". I thought it sounded like fun, although I'm not going to commit to doing it daily. Why set myself up for failure? Besides, it started on Wednesday, so I'd already be behind. So maybe, just maybe, I'll be on here a little more often.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Houses for Haiti Update

    I want to thank all of you who contributed to Houses for Haiti; we've reached and even surpassed our goal of $1600. Our grand total was $2,110! Shelley asked if instead of building one home we'd be willing to help rebuild two homes. One is for a woman and her baby who are living in rubble. They don't have enough space to put up one of the wood houses, so instead "we" will build them a smaller, concrete house. The rest of the money will repair the wall and put a new roof on the home of a family of six. Two more Haitian families will have a home thanks to you! Shelley said that construction on these projects will be starting any time, and she will share before and after pics which I'm so excited to see.
    Please continue to keep the people of Haiti, Shelley and Corrigan, and the ministry of Apparent Project in your prayers. Also, as you think of Christmas giving, would you consider some "alternate" gifts to help the people of Haiti? You could sponsor a child, purchase much needed supplies from AP's Amazon wish list, sponsor an artisan, or host a jewelry party. (For those of you who are local, I'm going to be having a jewelry party mid-November. This beautiful, handmade jewelry makes a great gift while helping those in need.) There are other ways to help on their website.
    Again, thanks to all who contributed money, posted about it on your blogs or facebook, helped with the yard sales, donated items, prayed, and told your friends about it. May God bless you for blessing others! Stay tuned for pictures of "our" houses going up!

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Gyspy (A Poem by Peregrine)

Here's a little poem Peregrine wrote this morning for school. We were looking at a painting and he thought this up on his own; I didn't ask him to do it. I helped him with a few lines. 

The Gypsy
by Peregrine (age 7)

The Gypsies come and the Gypsies go
Whether it rains or whether it snows.
And hardly anybody knows
What they have and what they know.
Then one day a Gypsy small
Came from his old wagon tall
Asking for a bit of food
And as I was in a pleasant mood
I gave him some of the family bread
Then with a thankful heart he said
“Thank you very, very much
For giving me this little lunch!”
He reached into his pouch of things
And from it he pulled a golden ring.
With joy he handed it to me
And it was a pleasure to see.
Away he went, the Gypsy small,
Off again to his wagon tall.
And as he left he waved goodbye
And there was a twinkle in his eye.
And that’s all I know of the Gypsy small
Who went away in his wagon tall
As all Gypsies come and all Gypsies go
Whether it rains or whether is snows.

Author’s Note: As a young poet it’s hard to think up morals for the poems and think up the poems themselves; it’s hard to do that too. (But it can still be fun!) This poem was based on one of the pictures in our school lessons. I’m going to keep on writing poems for a long time. (That is, mom’s going to type them, and I think them up.) Adios for now, Peregrine 

Thursday, September 09, 2010

No Child Left Behind

It's never too early to start on their education, right? 

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Houses for Haiti- Update and Giveaways!

First, I want to thank those of you who have contributed to our Houses for Haiti campaign! We've raised over $750 and are  almost half of the way to our goal of $1600. We're that much closer to being able to build a house for a homeless Haitian family. Please consider joining this great project.
This week I have a couple of items that were donated to help raise money... I feel a tel-a-thon coming on! Any of these would make a great gift for someone or a nice treat for you! 

This is a super cute vintage style apron in a whimsical butterfly print with coordinating aqua trim.  It's made of soft cotton and ties around the back and at the neck.
(Apron sewing courtesy of my super sister Alyssa; photo courtesy of Peregrine!)
This is available for a donation of $25 or more.

Bracelets made by Apparent Project Artisans in Haiti. These are made with hand-rolled paper beads and are on elasticized cord. Fun and funky!
Each bracelet is available for your donation of $10 or more.

This is a great cotton tote bag that is perfect for groceries, library books, clothing, diapers,  or just about anything. It's made of sturdy cotton and is fully lined and reversible. There are several pockets as well! I have one of these bags and get compliments on it often. (This was also donated and made by my sister Alyssa.)
Bag available for a donation of $20 or more.

If you would like to receive one of these items in return for your donation, please click on the Chipin Widgit above. You will be taken directly to The Apparent Project's secure paypal page. Then come back and leave me a comment letting me know what you would like and I will get it to you. Again, thanks for your help and please keep the people of Haiti in your prayers! 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Houses for Haiti


It's been seven months since the earthquake that devastated Haiti and the media spotlight has long since left this little island nation. Yet, in spite of all the foreign aid that has poured in, well over a million people are still homeless. The live in tents that are tattered and worn by the fierce sun, hurricane winds, and torrential rains that mark summertime in Haiti. They live, if you can call it that, under whatever pieces of shade and shelter they can find, under old tarps held up by sticks, trying to stay dry, trying to protect and feed their children. They live in overcrowded makeshift camps, thousands upon thousands of precious souls, with nothing to protect them from disease, flooding, theft, and rape.

A Haitian woman and her children.

I've written before about the work of my dear friends Shelley and Corrigan Clay and their non-profit organization, The Apparent Project. They are working to provide employment for Haitians, as well as providing education, food, and housing as they're able. Many of Haiti's orphans still have parents, but their parents are unable to provide for them; they are poverty orphans. Shelley and Corrigan's heart is to provide families with the tools they need to stay together. At last count they were employing around 70 people making jewelry and other products which are sold here in the United States.

A beautiful necklace crafted by Apparent Artisans; even the paper beads are handmade!

One of the latest endeavors of The Apparent Project is to help build permanent homes for families who are still homeless. With a matching grant from the Netherlands, they are able to build a small but sturdy house for a donation of only $1600. That's about what many of us pay a every month or two for our rent or mortgage, and this will build a whole house!  They're able to purchase these homes from a company who also employs Haitians in the pre-construction phase. The $1600 includes everything- the labor (more Haitians given work!), all the supplies, paint, floor, etc. The Apparent Project doesn't take any overhead on house donations.

One of the four houses already built by The Apparent Project.

Now I realize that $1600 is more than most of us have jingling around in our pockets; that's where my friends and family come in. I felt challenged to see if I could raise the money to put up one house in Haiti, so here I am asking for you to join me in making this a reality. When I break it down it doesn't really seem like such a big deal. If all of my Facebook friends gave $10, we could put up a house! Or if 40 families could each give $40, we could raise enough money to get one family in a safe home! I'm going to ask my homeschool groups, friends, and family to join in this project, and my husband will ask his co-workers.

     This is my challenge to you, my plea on behalf of someone who is desperately in need of our help. Here's what I'm asking you to do:

  1. Click on Chipin at the top of this post. You will be taken directly to The Apparent Project's paypal page where you can make a donation.  
  2. Come back here and leave a comment letting me know that you donated. You'll be able to see how much progress we're making in the Chipin widget at the top. I have a couple of lovely necklaces from The Apparent Project, and everyone who donates and leaves a comment will be entered to win one of them. 
  3. Grab a "Houses for Haiti" button above or from the upper left corner and put it on your blog. (Just copy and paste the code and it will link back to this post. Also, please share this on Facebook, Twitter, through email, etc. Spread the word, share the love... let's build a house! 
  4. If you blog it, Facebook it, Twitter it, or otherwise communicate it, then leave an additional comment and you'll receive more entries to win a necklace. 
  5. Pray for the people of Haiti, the work of The Apparent Project and all the others who are working there. 
In the event that we're unable to raise a full $1600, then our money can join in with other donations to help build a house. In the event we raise more... awesome!  

Special thanks to Shelley Clay for the use of her photos, and to my friend Ali Telfer who designed the button. Ali does blog design and all proceeds go to help fund her family's adoption journey. 

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Grain Free Scones

    A few years ago we had a lovely Sunday evening tradition of having "tea" for dinner. It usually consisted of scones, tea, and a few other small things, maybe some slices of cheese or hard boiled eggs. It was simple, and a nice way to end the weekend together. We got away from it in the last several months, as Erik, Peregrine, and Poppy have been off of all grains.
    I love to bake, and had been pretty proficient at doing gluten free, but grain free has been a new challenge! Thankfully, there's a lot you can do with both almond and coconut flour. When I posted on Facebook last week that we were having grain free scones someone asked me for the recipe so I thought I'd share it here. This is adapted from a recipe in Elana Amsterdam's wonderful book, The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook. I highly recommend both her book and her website, With no further ado, here's the recipe I've been using.

Currant and Lemon Zest Scones
(Cute little boy not included)

Sunday Evening Scones

2 1/2 C Blanched Almond Flour
1/2 t. Sea Salt
1/2 t. Baking Soda
1/2 t Cinnamon, Nutmeg, or Cardamom (optional)
1/3 C Melted Coconut Oil
1/4 C Honey
2 Eggs
1 T Grated Citrus Peel (optional)
 1 C Currants, Nuts, Dried Fruit, or Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 350 and line a large baking sheet or two small sheets with parchment paper. 
In a large mixing bowl combine the almond flour, salt, baking soda, and spice if using. 
In a separate bowl combine melted coconut oil, honey, eggs, and citrus zest; whisk to combine. Add wet ingredients and whatever nuts and/or dried fruit you're using to the almond flour mixture. Mix just until it forms a stiff dough. Drop the batter, in scant 1/4 cups, onto the parchment lined baking sheets. 
Bake for 12-17 minutes until golden and firm to the touch. You can do the toothpick test if you're not sure if they're done or not. Serve warm or cool. 

This post is linked to Real Food Forager's Grain Free Round-Up.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Letter to Pearl (at Three Months)

Pearl at Three Months

    My dear sweet little Pearl,
    Can you really be three months old? Already? It was a year ago we learned that God was blessing us with another baby. I was thrilled, of course, filled with hope and expectation and a tiny seed of a baby girl. The months went by, and as my belly expanded we all looked eagerly forward to the day you would make your appearance. There was a time when I didn't know if we would be able to have any more babies, and since then God has given us two more, your big brother Raphael, and you.
    You, sweet Pearl. The moment I particularly looked forward to for so long came and went, like it has with your brothers and sister ahead of you. It was the brief moment when labor was over and everything faded in the perfect and precious light of you. Your Daddy caught you and gently lifted you up onto my chest, into my weary arms. You were warm and soft and wet and perfect, and nothing else mattered. There are really no words to describe that instant, when I held you for the first time, when I saw your sweet face and your little body. It is so fleeting, that moment, and yet it will remain in my memory. I loved you already, of course, but now I could see you and touch you and hold you close.
    It seems like you just arrived, but already you've changed and grown so much. You were born perfectly soft and delicate, with dark hair and dark eyes; you enraptured each and every one of us. I'm so thankful for the first 40 days I had with you, when I had lots of time to snuggle and hold and nurse and cuddle you. I've learned, as all mamas must, that those days are too fleeting, that by the end of them the floppy little newborn is already gone, replaced by a bright and wondrous baby.
    You are scrumptious and soft and delightful, little one. You don't cry much, and when you do it's usually not too hard to figure out what you need. Your big sister Poppy, who adores you, knows "the list" and will sometimes help me rule things out: Is she hungry? Is she tired? Does she need a clean diaper? Even at night you rarely cry; I awaken to your soft stirrings and lift you close, where we snuggle and you nurse and are perfectly content together.
    Poppy and Peregrine love to hold you, to smile and coo at you or sing to you. You delight them, and all of us, with your big gummy smiles. I love how your whole body joins in with some of those smiles, little arms waving and legs pumping. Your first smiles were so tentative and we really had to work to get them out of you, but not anymore. Now you see us and break into huge grins. You bring us such joy.
    Raphael loves you too, and if you survive his brand of love you're going to be a tough little cookie! For as often as he hears the word, he doesn't have a very good handle on "gentle" yet... but we're working on it. He's had a bit of a hard time getting used to not being my "baby" anymore. Sometimes when I'm holding you he points at your car seat and says to me "Seat! Baby! Mama! Seat!" He loves to hold you too, with lots of help from Mama. I really have to keep an eye on him when he's near you. I think, though, that you and Raphi are going to be great buddies someday.
    You laughed for the first time the other night. You've developed some pretty great cheeks and now you're working on a second chin. I was trying to clean out what our friends call "the cheese factory", where your chin(s) meet your neck, and you laughed. It was the most beautiful and innocent of sounds. I know, like your smiles, that soon it will come easily, but for now we'll work hard to hear that sound. I look forward to lots of happy laughter with you!
    I love you sweetie, and I tell you so often. You don't know what the words mean yet, but you know you're loved. I look at you and wonder who you are, wonder who you will become. I am humbled at the task ahead of me, of raising you, and your brothers and sister. I so often fall short of the example I want to be, of the love you deserve. I'm glad you're part of our family little Brigid Pearl Annabelle. I can't imagine it without you.
    You are the sweetest baby of my heart.


Monday, August 16, 2010


Just as every child is unique, it seems that every labor and delivery plays out differently than the other. Having done this four times now, you'd think I might have some idea of how my body "does" it, but each time I'm surprised. Before the details fade even more, here is the story of Brigid's birth.
    I strongly dislike due dates. As much as I try to downplay "the date" as a magical day, it's pretty hard to ignore. Both of my boys were "late" and Poppy was "early" so I was really hoping we'd have a girl/boy pattern here and this baby girl would be early as well. Forty weeks of pregnancy were to be completed on May 17th, a Monday. I felt really good through most of this pregnancy, and even at the end I was ready, but not miserable. On Sunday night I started having some mild contractions, not strong, but something different than the Braxton-Hicks I'd been having for months. In the past, "those" contractions have never preceded real labor by more than a day or two. I got up Monday morning feeling like there was a good possibility that I'd go into labor that day, and thought it would be funny to have a baby actually born on their due date. Erik stayed home from work and I was able to rest and relax some. My mom, dad, and sisters were all "on call", waiting and ready to come and help when we needed them.

The Belly, in the "fullness of the time" , the day before she was born.

    On Monday afternoon both Peregrine and Poppy had dress rehearsal for their dance classes. My sister Alyssa offered to take them, but I wanted to go since I figured I would probably not make it to their recitals the following weekend; surely Baby would make her appearance before that! Erik and I decided to take them, and Alyssa met us there to help out and "just in case" we needed to leave. I continued to have contractions on and off throughout the day, and I remember walking around at the recital and actually having to stop for a contraction. I enjoyed watching my precious kids make their big debut; Poppy as a fluffy ballerina, and Peregrine tapping and tumbling away as a garage mechanic... they made quite a pair!

Peregrine and Poppy after their rehearsal.

    We got home, put the kids to bed, and decided we'd better get some rest too. Since it was the end of the day I hoped for a decent night's sleep and that "real" labor would hold off until morning. I lay down in my bed, arranging pillows, trying to get as comfortable as possible. Just as I would drift off to sleep I would have a contraction. They seemed to be coming about every 15 minutes, and getting stronger as that long night wore on. Being tired, I just lay on my side, breathing through them, sleeping in between. I frequently got up to go to the bathroom, and every time I did it would bring on more contractions. With all of my other labors my water had broken prior to or at the onset of labor, so even though the contractions were strong and regular I was still a little unsure as to whether this was "it" or not. I kept thinking it would really kick in if I got up and walked around, but I just wanted to sleep. As the night passed the contractions got closer together, but were still only about ten minutes apart. Through all of this my husband slept peacefully beside me, apparently unaware of my turning from side to side and numerous visits to the bathroom. I figured I might as well let him sleep, as he'd need all the rest he could later on. 
    My sister Alyssa had emailed me before she went to bed, saying she'd be up for a while and if I needed anything to let her know. I considered calling her or my parents, thought about asking her to bring over her yoga ball for me to sit on. But, as much as I wanted to have this baby, I really, really wanted some sleep first! So all through the night I slept in short stretches, in between contractions. They grew stronger, so strong that I was gripping my pillow with one hand, my prayer rope in the other, my fingers moving over the knots as I tried to focus not on the pain, but on Jesus, my strength and the giver of mercy. 
    Finally at about 5AM I was tired of laying there trying to sleep; I decided it was time to get up and test my theory. I woke up Erik, who kicked into gear. Sure enough the contractions started getting a little closer together. I sat in my rocking chair for a while and I think Erik made me eat some yogurt. I remember leaning on the counter, moaning, and Erik said that we needed to call the midwife. He's been with me through enough labors to know that if I'm moaning, it's intense, and if it's intense, it could happen quickly. My contractions were still only about 7 minutes apart and I think I argued with him a little, saying the midwife would just tell us to call back when they were closer together. We called my parents to let them know what was going on and then we called the midwife, Michelle. Sure enough, she talked to me and I guess I wasn't too convincing, because she suggested I take a shower or bath and call back when they were coming faster.
    In the time it took me to walk to the bathroom and get ready to get in the tub, I was having a contraction, a strong one, every two or three minutes! Erik called her back and told her we were going to head over, as he wasn't comfortable waiting any longer. My mom and dad got here quickly, and Erik and I, along with my Mom and Poppy, all left for the birthing center. It was a beautiful spring morning, and we got there about 6:45AM. The nurse checked me for dilation and you can imagine my surprise when she said I was at 8 centimeters! I figured it wouldn't be long at all before we would meet out little girl.
    I got into the tub, where I hoped to finish off labor and give birth. The water felt great, so relaxing; unfortunately a little too relaxing, as my contractions slowed down to about five or six minutes apart. It felt good to have a little break, but I had a hard time getting into a comfortable position and after a while I had to come to terms with the fact that the water wasn't "working" for me. The rational part of me knew I needed to let go of my desire to give birth in the water and try something else. Michelle, the midwife, had actually just delivered another baby that morning, so she arrived while I was in the tub. She had such a calm presence; I really appreciated her quiet manner and how hands-off she was. Erik was right there with me, of course, and my Mom and sisters, Alyssa and Gloria, were also there, offering strength, encouragement, humor, and sips of coconut water. My sweet little Poppy would run in every few minutes and say "I love you Mama" and bring me cards she was making in the other room.

Sister Love.
 We've all been at each other's births. I have the best sisters in the world! 

Poppy brought me a Poppy... I was surrounded with such love.

   I got out of the tub, (with some help!) and tried hanging on the squat bar for a while. It didn't escape my notice that the foam covering the bar had bite marks on it. Contractions at this point were very strong, and I think I moaned and sung and probably even roared a little through them. I leaned over the edge of the bed for a while, puzzled and beginning to feel a little frustrated that it wasn't happening more quickly. Michelle felt for the baby's position and said that she was still pretty high up, even though I was so far dilated. She suggested I walk some more, or that she could break my water. As much as I'm in favor of letting things happen naturally, I was very tired and knew that breaking the water would probably help bring baby down. After she broke the water, I labored upright for a few more minutes, and then Michelle suggested that I try laying on my side. At this point I was feeling the urge to push.

Intense for both of us... getting closer.

    The details become a little fuzzy to me at this point. I found laying on my side awkward, but, well, pushing is never comfortable! I usually feel a great sense of relief when it's time to push, like I can finally put all that energy into something instead of just trying to breathe through contractions. And while pushing is never easy, this time it was extra hard. I was seriously doubting that I was able to do it. I remember really roaring, so much that my throat was hurting, and my mom told me to tuck my chin. All of my strength, all that was in me, working, pushing, giving birth, bringing my baby to the light...

Love and joy!
My mom took this and you can see the beads of sweat on my face.

    And she moved through me, out of me; I always think that is the most incredible sensation! She was born at 9:21AM, just about 2 1/2 hours after arriving at the birth center. Erik caught her and placed her tenderly up on me, all warm and wet and new and beautiful. Joy filled my heart, filled the room. The moment of so many expectations, so much hope, had come to pass and our precious baby girl was in my arms. Poppy got up on the bed to admire and meet her new baby sister, and everyone joined in the thanks and happiness! It was a moment I had envisioned for so long; one of the sweetest memories are those moments when you hold your baby for the first time.  It's so fleeting and yet indelibly imprinted in my memory.

My Mom and my girls.

    Our little Pearl had no interest in eating for quite a while. I just held her close, snuggled up against me, enjoying sweet rest and the indescribable wonder of her. She was strong, healthy, perfect. There were a few details I only learned a little later. In the last moments of labor my eyes were closed and I was very internal. I didn't know if Erik had gotten to deliver her or not, as he has with our last two. I was so glad when he told me he was the one who lifted her up onto me. The midwife also said that Pearl was born posterior, or face up, which I think explains why pushing was so much harder this time. I didn't have any back labor in spite of her being in that position, and thankfully, I didn't tear either.  I also didn't know that Poppy had been very upset at seeing me so animated and loud at the end. Alyssa had stood just outside the door with her as I was pushing, and Poppy cried and told her that she never wanted to have babies. (She apparently has that wonderful quality given to women, the ability to forget the pain of labor. She told me this morning, when I was teasing her about not growing up, that of course she will grow up because she wants to have a baby! I'm glad she wasn't traumatized for life!) Alyssa also told me that two men from the laundry service were in the hall collecting the laundry and got a real earful! I bet the birthing center is one of the more interesting places they service.


She weighed in at 7lbs 6oz, our smallest baby by an ounce!

   After a while my sisters and Mom and Poppy left and it was just Erik, Brigid, and I. We all snuggled together in the big bed, just resting and enjoying the quiet. I slept for a while and Erik held our sweet bundle. We had several hours together, uninterrupted, before they even weighed her. I loved the atmosphere of the birthing center; it was so peaceful, homelike, and comfortable. Late in the afternoon my parents brought the other kids over to meet their new little sister. We left the birthing center around 7PM, a family of six! My parents took Peregrine and Poppy to spend the night, and so it was just Erik and I and "the littles". Our priest came over to offer special prayers for little Pearl, our newest blessing from God. 
Welcome to the family, little one!


    And so went the story of our dear Brigid's birth. It was totally unlike any of the other kids' births, unique just like her. We are so thankful that everything went well and that God chose to bless us with this precious little girl. Thank you all for your prayers and love!