Thursday, October 30, 2008

Oh, the confidence of ignorance

So yesterday while I'm at my midwife's office, I actually had time in the waiting room (doesn't happen very often--when she makes an appointment time, she means it!), and this nice young woman started asking me about my previous birth experiences (after getting over the shock of finding out it wasn't my first baby:  "You're third?  How old are you?"). 

She had been referred to one of the doctor's in the practice by her "home birth care provider" when her blood pressure started to sky rocket and said care giver was no longer comfortable with a home birth.  The young lady was rather disappointed that she wouldn't be able to give birth at home, and further disappointed that a water birth was not an option at Kaweah Delta.  Now, while I would never choose the option myself, I know a few people who have had water births (where mom essentially sits in a giant tub and gives birth under the water) and raved about it, and I certainly understand why it appeals to some people.

No, it was the next thing this first time mom said that caught my attention.  "Traditional hospital births are so violent.  I want my son's first moments in life to be peaceful, not full of kicking and screaming."   I smiled at this sweet, intelligent, profoundly ignorant young woman as I thought to myself, "I hope for your sake that whether your son enters the world on a hospital bed or in a bathtub, the first thing he does when he hits wordly air is let out a loud scream and flail those little limbs with all his might."

I can think of no other single sound so universally reassuring than that of a newborn's first cries--the very first obvious sign of life and health.  After hours of grueling and exhausting labor, what could put a new mom at rest more than the sound of a healthy set of lungs announcing to the world, "I'm here!"?  Keilana made it quickly and very effectively clear that she had a healthy set of lungs and she intended to use them.  She made it just as apparent that her little body was strong and she would not be contained as she scooted herself up in her little warmer moments after birth and wriggled wildly to escape any poking, prodding or measuring--quieting only when she was clean and wrapped in her very exhausted daddy's arms.

When I was in labor with Dylan, there was meconium in the amniotic fluid.  Though not an altogether unusual circumstance, it could mean fetal distress.  So when I got close to pushing, a team of neonatal specialists were on hand in the room just in case.  He didn't initially make much noise, so the pediatrician quickly suctioned some gook out of his nose and mouth with an aspirator and--as much because he was annoyed as because that made it easier to breath, I think--he let loose with a nice big scream.  The intervening time between birth and that scream was literally probably less than a minute or two, but it was long enough to make my whole body, already worn out, extremely tense.  At the sound of those healthy cries, my whole body relaxed for the first time in 18 hours.

I know a few mothers who haven't had the pleasure of hearing that first cry right away.  To name just a couple: my sister's last baby took a few minutes to give her that reassuring yelp, as doctors and nurses worked to make sure he was ok (which, in the end he was); a friend of mine experienced motherhood for the first time with a stillborn daughter (thankfully, she went on to deliver 7 very healthy children).  They could tell this new mom that there is nothing violent about those first cries--they are symphonies of life.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Ok, so three posts in a row now, I'm starting to sound like one of those crazy obsessive pregnant women who has nothing going on in my life but being pregnant.

I went to my midwife today.  Belly growing well (almost too well for my taste) and her heartbeat was very strong, and exactly where it was supposed to be at 140 beats per minute.  She moves even less now than she used to, but I'm sure that's just a matter of space (or lack thereof) at this point.  Her head, though not engaged, is moving lower (of course, I could've told you that before the appointment just based on the fact that my hips now feel as though they function independent of each other, unconnected, and every joint in my pelvis hurts horribly).   But the reason I'm so excited is that she wrote down, in pen, on my chart today "Induction on 12/12 if baby has not arrived".  So its official--I will absolutely NOT be pregnant more than another 6 1/2 weeks.  Five would be better, but what can you do?  I'm not going to be induced earlier and risk the chance of sitting in the hospital for 2 days again.  Ugh.  And it sounds like there's a good possibility that my mom may make it down for the birth after all.  Yippee!!!

Amanda watched Dylan for me today while I was in Visalia (I had to do a strep test today and last time he got a little nervous while I was on the exam table, so I wasn't sure how he'd handle that) and gave him a much needed and much appreciated haircut!! He looks so cute.  He's napping, but I'll try to get pictures of him when he's awake.  You should've seen the pile of hair it left on the floor--both those kids got my copious hair.  You could've practically made a wig from the clippings.  Plus, I scored more cute little girl clothes.  A friend of Amanda's is done having babies, so she passed on all her baby girl clothes to Amanda.  Amanda doesn't do purple, and I do a lot of purple (particularly since I have one redheaded girl and am likely to have another), so she gave me all kinds of cute little things for Baby Girl Clark.  She told me my belly was big, and was like, "You're a lot bigger than I am".  After remembering that wasn't supposed to be an insult:) I reminded her that even though our babies will likely be born only 2 or 3 days apart, my baby is actually 3 weeks older than hers (she's due Christmas day, but will be having a c-section on the 15th).

Keilana and Dylan had SO much fun playing with Clayton.  Its been a while since we went over there.  Dylan is such a boy.  At one point, Amanda and I were sitting in the livingroom, and he struts into the room in little rubber frog boots, with a water gun in each hand and yells "Ha ha!" as he jumps forward, legs wide apart and shoots both guns in the air.  If he weren't 3 ft tall wearing rubber boots, it may have been very intimidating.  Instead, it was incredibly hilarious.  

Anyway, I'm starving, since all I've eaten today are a granola bar, some trail mix and three bite size Twixes, so I'm gonna go find some real food.  Inching ever closer to not having to be pregnant anymore!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

35 weeks

My internet service has gone beserk and I may lose it at any moment, so very quickly, here we are with 5 weeks til the due date.  Both of us are doing well, other than being a little tired of sharing each other's space! :)

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Baby info

I've had lots of you send emails/make phone calls asking what we needed for the baby, and that's very sweet.  Please don't feel obligated to make a purchase for us, as we don't need much with this being baby #3, and I am horrible about getting gifts for everyone else (they usually get purchased and then sit in my room until the baby has outgrown them, at which point they generally end up as a last minute shower gift for someone who lives here).  

That being said, if you are one of the persistent ones (bless your generous souls--though I don't know how you find the time to bombard me with email) I did create a registry at Target a while ago, mostly as a shopping list for myself (you see, I cannot remember anything if I don't have it recorded somewhere).  So if you really want to get her something, an item off that list (or something similar you have purchased elsewhere, I am SO not picky) would be of the most help.  Thanks again for your thoughtfulness.  It doesn't go unnoticed or unappreciated, despite the fact that I am far worse than I used to be at answering phone calls/emails/etc and sending random thank you cards.  Love you all!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

My favorites. . . .

These are my most favorite scriptures, and I felt like sharing them today:

"Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ."  ~Galatians 6:2

"In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." ~John 16:33

"Wherefore, be of good cheer, and do not fear, for I the Lord am with you, and will stand by you; and ye shall bear record of me, even Jesus Christ, that I am the Son of the living God, that I was, that I am, and that I am to come."    ~D&C 68:6

". . .Be faithful and diligent in keeping the commandments of God, and I will encircle thee in the arms of my love.  Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Son of God. . .I am the light that shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehendeth it not. . . .Therefore, fear not little flock; do good; let earth and hell combine against you, for if ye are built upon my rock, they cannot prevail. . . .Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not."   D&C 6:20-21;34;36 (italics added)

There have been so many reasons to be happy--to "be of good cheer"--lately, but, as life seems to balance out this way, there have been a lot of distractions to discourage as well.  I have had the shortened version of that last scripture, with one little word change, "Therefore, fear not little [family];", etc, in my wallet for more than 2 years.  And someday, I will have it up on the wall in our family room in some form or another (I'm afraid that in the 2 years we've lived in our house, home decorating has taken a major back seat to other time and financial expenditures).  

There is so much in the world to distract from and detract from the Gospel and the family.  Part of the reason that that word change came to me ("flock" to "family) is that neither myself nor my husband is very good at reaching out.  We have a wonderful network of people (both family and friends) who try very hard to be supportive and are wonderful to us, but I'm afraid that often they don't know what kind of support to give, because we aren't very good at making known what is needed.  We don't always know how to form meaningful, close relationships, even with family members, and so we rely not just primarily but at times nearly exclusively on each other.  We are anchored and lifted in our marriage and our devotion to our children, all of which succeeds only on our willingness to be devoted to the Savior and His Gospel.  When we stumble in those things, everything else is harder.

The last few years have been a very bumpy road with work, family, friends, losses and surprises.  The last few weeks have been, in many ways, perhaps the most stressful we have known our entire life together.   A few days ago I was reminded by my YW about how often they have to hear a few scriptures from me, how I seem to find a way to work them in to almost every lesson I teach.   And it so happens that those scriptures are about taking care of each other, trusting in the Lord and not fearing the future, and being a good cheer.  I was humbled and grateful to have these precious, beautiful daughters of God whom I love remind me to live the lessons I taught, a reminder they probably didn't know I very much needed.  

After a temper tantrum last week over--what was it?--a combination of boredom and restlessness, a to-do list I keep ignoring, and legitimate reasons for frustration, I thought, I've got to have this baby and get my hormones back in check, because this creature we're all living with right now isn't me.  But since it is likely at least another 6 long weeks until I have the baby (and more likely more than 7), then start the process of leveling out, trying to find a sleep schedule, juggling three kids, etc, I decided I can't wait that long.  I thought to myself, what happens when the one who usually does the steadying needs to be steadied?  Who do we turn to then?  Just as I was about to slip into this frustrated, pointless debate with myself over what I need to do to fix myself, a gentle reminder came from young women who love me and pay more attention than I usually think they do.  Obviously, I am human.  Something I make dreadfully obvious more often than I'd like to discuss. But there is One who truly is always steady, constant.  The ancient command is employed daily still, "Peace; be still."  All I need to do is give of my love and time more devotedly and trust that all is in His hands.  What better reason to be of a cheerful temperament is there than that?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sunday drive

Yesterday after stake conference, we decided we could both use a little getaway/relaxation and the kids could both use naps, so we got in the car and went for a drive.  We drove up to Shaver Lake, more specifically Camp Chawanakee.  The gate into camp was locked, and none of the combos Doug tried worked, so we parked the car and took a little walk down to camp.  It was about a mile down (and then a mile back up, of course), but our little hikers did pretty good.  They both had short shoulder rides here and there, but they walked the majority of the way both directions.  It was a beautiful day, and much cooler than down in the valley.  As you can see, the kids actually wore sweaters!   It was a good way to spend our Sunday afternoon. 

Keilana is most always happy anywhere there's sand. . .she loves the sand.
Mighty mountain climber scaling the rocks near the lake.
A beautiful day!
They decided after touching the water with their fingers that mommy was right. . . it was too cold to touch any other body parts!
Dylan showing his true colors (and looking awfully pudgy.  I wonder if he's gonna have another growth spurt soon. . . . .)
Hiking back to the car with Daddy after playing at the lake.
Keilana and Daddy strolling through the sign for camp.  Doug worked up here (its a Boy Scout camp) several summers, as a wrangler, nature director, and commissioner in various years.
Dylan insisted on carrying the "backpack".  How lucky for him that my purse happened to match his outfit! :)

The Visit and the quilt

Mom and Christa were in Las Vegas all last week for an EMS conference of some sort, so Friday they rented a car and drove to our house for a visit (apparently when they made that decision, Mom was under the impression that Vegas was about 3 hours from our house, not 5 1/2. . . . . .).  We got to take them to the Farmer's Market, where they enjoyed some tamales and we all struggled to remember/figure out what the Spanish word for pork was.  I had some delicious tacos.  Its been so long since we've been to the street fair, because I honestly can't remember the last time I didn't work on Friday night.  It was fun to get out there and walk around again.  

Keilana walked Yaya over to show where her school was, and we saw a few of the murals along the way.   And of course we had to do the McDermont tour.  There was actually a lot more to see than the last time Mom was here.  They finished the zip line last week, and the framing for the tree is all up, but they still have to put on the foam.  They just started getting  the palm tree lights up this week, and Keilana and Dylan are very excited about those.  As you can see in the picture, they are neon colored, and they light up at night, serving as the street lights.  

Saturday afternoon we all went up to the Apple Festival in Springville, since Doug and I had never been before, and, though I love the citrus smell and taste I've gotten so used to here, apples always sound good.  Its just like any other community celebration fest, lots of food booths and craft booths, etc.  Mom bought me a cute "Boo" Halloween sign for the front door, and Doug got Keilana a yummy shave ice (since it was still in the high 80s:( ).   

I forgot to bring my camera along (a fairly regular habit these days, with my flakey brain), so these are pictures I stole from Christa (the ones she posted on the family website).  I absolutely hate seeing pictures of myself right now, but Doug says I can't edit myself out of all our family trips/events.  Anyway, a couple shots she got of us on our weekend adventures.

And last, but far from least, Grandma finished the baby's quilt and sent it down with Mom.  It's my favorite so far.  I requested purple this time and man did she deliver.  I think this one is absolutely adorable--complete with a big "C" for baby girl Clark.  She doesn't actually quilt anymore due to trouble with her fingers/shoulder, but I think she's usually tied baby quilts in the past anyway.  I think its beautiful!  I'm excited to wrap our newest little munchkin in it!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Oh, tis the season!

Well, election season is upon us.  I guess it has been for a while.  Only, what, something like 18 or 20 days left til the big day?  I have been paying attention to all races and issues, but one in particular has been in the forefront for me--us--here in California.  Several years ago, the voters of California passed what was known Proposition 22, which defined marriage as between a man and a woman.  This year, the court basically ignored that 61% majority and declared homosexual marriage legal in California.  This year, Proposition 8 is on the ballot as a constitutional amendment (meaning it needs a super majority to pass) stating that in the State of California, only marriage between a man and a woman shall be recognized as legal and valid.  The First Presidency (the executive governing body of our Church) has asked members to contribute time, money and energy to getting this Proposition passed, not to mention their votes.

I have, to this point, not delved into the issue publicly, because I know it is one that tends to stir a lot of strong emotions in people and the last thing the world (or internet) needs is more rancor.  Doug posted a blog yesterday about his response to a letter writer in one of the local papers.  I thought it was a well-thought and well said response.  You can read it here.  There has been much made of this as a "civil rights" issue.  I can see why people would be prone to seeing it that way, particularly if they haven't don't their research.  But the fact of the matter is that, in California, same sex domestic partnerships are awarded all the same personal benefits of the state as married couples:  rights of inheritance, hospital visits, health insurance coverage (with most companies), even adoption from public as well as private, secular adoption agencies, etc. 

The big argument I keep hearing is why we could possibly be opposed to letting people live their lives the way that they want to--what harm is it doing the rest of us?  This is why I do not have any problems with the benefits awarded by the state to same sex domestic partnerships or civil unions.  It allows people who view the morals of sexuality and relationships differently than I do to live as they choose without interfering with my life or my family.  When you start to change the definition of traditional marriage, though, then it does affect my family.  In the only other state where the definition of "marriage" includes gay couples, Massachusetts, second graders are taught that boys can marry boys and girls can marry girls and that that's a good thing.  The courts have told parents there that they have no legal right to object to this lesson or have their children removed from the classroom while it is taught.   No matter what you think about homosexuality, surely you must agree that it is a fundamental right of parents, not a privilege, to decide what their children will be taught?   So, take them out of public school if you don't like what's being taught, people say.  In California, my friends, the legal decree has already come--parents do not have a Constitutional right to homeschool their own children.  There have been no steps taken to take away that ability thus far, but who's to say what will happen in the future if that is the precedent that has been set?

Also in Massachusetts, private adoption agencies were told that they had to place children with gay married couples as a matter of equality, regardless of what the tenets of their faith said about homosexuality.  As a result, Catholic Charities (and several other religious adoption agencies whose size is less noticeable) have pulled out of the state, placing no children there at all.  If this were to happen in California, the results for the LDS church, which both receives and places A LOT of babies and children in the state of California, would be sad indeed.  If our clergy refused to perform homosexual marriages or refused to allow them to be performed in facilities owned by us, we could lose our tax exempt status, forcing the Church to pay a great deal of money in taxes, money that would otherwise be used to feed the poor and give humanitarian aid, as well as build more facilities to serve the needs of our members.

The "wall of separation between Church and state" that liberals are so fond of invoking exists, in the context it was written (which, by the way is not in the Constitution), as a protection of the free exercise of religion.  I have every right, both Constitutionally and God-given, to teach my children what I choose to be necessary and appropriate and to object to others teaching lessons that contradict that.  My faith has every right, if the Constitution is interpreted correctly, to deny marriage within its own walls to those it believes to be outside God's order of marriage, believing that marriage is created and solemnized by God, not the state.  I have no problem with the state granting the state-created benefits of state-authorized partnership to homosexual couples--I have no problem with the state doing this with common law marriages between heterosexual couples.   But it is a huge problem when the state starts telling me that the government can deem what is appropriate for my faith to declare.

Now, having said all this, I realize that there is a better than decent chance that Prop 8 may in fact fail.  If it does, what will this mean for my family?  Well, we may well be leaving the state sooner rather than later, so cie lest vie. But, ultimately, what it has reminded me is that I need to be diligent in teaching my children well--instructing them with accuracy and love, that they need not be "blown about by  every wind of doctrine."  This is really what I had intended to write about, but before I got around to writing it, I actually came across it on another blog.  If you want a few good words about moving forward with hope and protecting your children with the armor of God, read here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Belly, baby

Ok, so here we are with 7 weeks to go. I don't have to go to the midwife again for 2 more weeks.  Bless my midwife, she felt no reason, this being baby #3 and everything going smoothly, to make me stick to the typical appointment schedule of every 2 weeks after week 28.  Instead, I had my 28 week check up, then one at 32 weeks, then one at 35, then at 37, then once a week until baby comes.  I really appreciate that, because by the end I hate going to the doctor.  Its so tedious to have to take an hour out of my day every week or two to hang around an office, pee in a cup, be weighed and measured and have my blood pressure recorded.  Especially since this time I have to add an almost an hour's worth of driving to that routine.  (Ok, maybe closer to 45 minutes of driving).  I was spoiled with the first two--with Keilana, all my appointments until the last 2 or 3 weeks were at the clinic on campus (my OB had so many patients there, it just made sense for her to come there once a week) and with Dylan my midwife's office was literally just a couple miles from my apartment.  

Little tip for those of you who are/may become pregnant:  if you already feel rather whalish and unattractive, taking photos of yourself in a shapeless tshirt wearing no makeup is not generally helpful to your perception of your appearance.  Neither is letting your 4 year old take said picture (I did do a little cropping, but she did pretty good).  Anyway, things are going well.  I know I keep giving people different time frames when the baby's coming, so let me clarify, as there has been some confusion.  I am currently 33 weeks pregnant, so my estimated due date is December 2 (or 3, for some reason both are on my medical chart).  Since my babies do not come out until we make them (Keilana was induced at 8 days overdue, arrived the next day; Dylan was induced at 10 days overdue, arrived the next day).  Rita (my midwife) has said that she'd be happy to induce me on the 12th of December, assuming all goes as well as it has the last 2 pregnancies.  So we have that date more firmly in mind, so sometimes I rattle it off even though its not my due date.  Everyone clear now?

I'm actually feeling a bit better, less fatigued, I mean.--last Saturday was my last day of work, and I don't know who's happier about that, me or Doug (me working meant he rarely had a weekend either).  It is really nice to have one less demand on my time/energy/attention.  Now if I could just get my out of whack emotions under control! Doug tells me I'm not as bad as I think I am, but that's just because I more or less manage to control myself when other people are around.  I am so easily frustrated, I drive myself nuts!!  Last week, I was practically in tears, so intense was my frustration over the difficulty of getting the jam open to make Dylan a sandwich.  (Seriously, what do they make that stuff out of? Cement?!)  :)  I'm still quite tired, but not nearly as much as I was.  

Keilana is getting really excited.  If ever I were to forget for a moment how big I was, she is constantly reminding me (bless her heart) by saying, "I see my sister is getting big!!"  She's so hilarious.  Lately one of her oft-used phrases is "Oh my gosh!" with a very teenager-like inflection.  Dylan, who is talking more all the time but still not as much as you would expect a 2 1/2 year old to, has picked up this particular expression.  When he's frustrated or annoyed about something lately he either says, "Gosh!" or "Oh man!"  Oh, and my favorite of the week: last week, Keilana and Doug were playing in the livingroom when he started teasing her.  I don't remember what he said, but I do remember Keilana's response: "Don't say that Daddy! Its incorrect!"

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Unexpected Pleasantries

So Thursday evening I get a message on my phone from my sister Gwen.  She and her husband and her girls had spent the week in southern California, doing the Disneyland/Sea World/Zoo thing, and were changing up their travel plans home a little bit due to weather up north, so she thought maybe they could stop by and see us along the way.

They got here Saturday afternoon.  Keilana was so excited to see Maysa.  For whatever reason, even though they haven't spent much time together, of all her cousins on both sides, Maysa seems to be the favorite.  They had a lot of fun playing together.

I initially thought that they were just going to make a brief stop and then keep driving for a few more hours, but we spent so much time talking to them (and giving them the requisite McDermont tour, of course), that they decided to stay.  The girls had so much fun over at McDermont.  While Doug gave Todd and Gwen the big tour, I took the four little ones over to the bounce houses (Keilana's favorite thing about the place).  Its all decorated for Halloween right now, and every once in a while Maysa and Keilana would take a break from jumping to walk around and look at decorations, holding hands and pretending to be scared.  They have a witch broom that is on top of a little Roomba-type thing, so it looks like it just floats around on the floor, enchanted.  They'd run up to it, then watch for a minute before screaming and running back to the bounce houses giggling.  

Dylan remembered and was glad to see Paisley, of course.  They had a lot of fun together when we spent the week at their house back in June.  At one point they were standing on the stairs being monsters, just growling back and forth at each other very loudly.  And laughing just as loud.  It was nice to see Dylan playing with someone who could match him--Paisley's almost the exact same weight and height as him (she's actually a little taller) and has Keilana cheeks to boot!  She is so adorable!  While we were over at McDermont, I can't count how many times I heard people say, "She's so cute!"  And she has that same wonderfully mischievous grin that Dylan has--that one that says, "How could you possibly punish anyone this cute?" that gets me into so much trouble with him.

It was so great to see family at my house!  Since we moved to California 4 1/2 years ago, Mom's been down twice and Mom, Dad and Gwen all drove down together once, but that's it.   (I'm not complaining, that's just one of the prices to be paid for choosing to live far away from one's family).  But we got to see Gwen and Todd and the girls, and this weekend we get to see Yaya and Christa.  It almost seems too good to be true!!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Stolen words

These lovely thoughts are by my oldest sister, Christa and my dad, Michael, respectively.  Its amazing how different the members of a family can be, and yet how much we can have in common.  Reading Christa's made me laugh and made me a little melancholy and homesick, so I thought I'd share them both.

I am from bedtime stories
and nightly family dinners,
from wood-paneled walls and green shag carpet
from crippling shyness, four dozen cousins, and sharing a bedroom with four siblings.
I am from the base of the Garden Wall, mountain lakes and fields of daisies
from Farina and Reservation politics
from cheap beer around Friday night campfires
and after-church, roast beef dinners
on Sunday afternoons.
I am from the thrill of unexpected snow days
and canoe rides under full moons.
I am from bare feet in fresh-cut grass,
and Dad's gardens all around.
I am from long afternoons
floating irrigation canals
on stolen inner tubes.
I am from spontaneous 
and unexpected family gatherings,
Christmas tree cutting trips:
and Mom's homemade cinnamon rolls afterward.
I'm from stubborn independence
and laughing too loud.
I am from Snye'lmn,
this valley surrounded by mountains.
I am from dirt roads and potholes and 
too many wakes.
I'm from summers in teepees and old trucks
that run just well enough
to drive teen independence.
I am from frozen pipes in February
and dreams of air conditioning in August.
I'm from making due, and dreaming of more
from grandfathers
who made their livings with trees and horses,
from women who were always mothers first, 
but never solely.
I am from grandmothers' quilts, 
my grandfather's logging truck,
My other grandfather's NP brand
I'm from overstuffed bookshelves,
doing too much,
and the calm productivity 
of midnight hours.

Remembering, Holding

For Valerie

Promise? you asked when I said I loved you
one summer in Coronado.  And I did, on my knees
if that's what you wanted, on the boulders
at Imperial Beach.  You looked away, across an ocean
before saying "yes", no one else seeing 
how we could be.
Friend, we found ways to dream
each other into whatever the world did, returning to
each other again and again, our holding 
making of us more than the world:

our mothers and brothers and sisters came
to the Holy Family Hospital the crisp October
morning when Christa cam, our new little family making
family of them all.  I wondered how she knew
waking from a sound sleep to cry whenever
you traveled a shout away, unconsolable 
til you came back.  "You'll never see me weak,"
she later learned to think, and you quietly arranged 
what she needed, watching her grow strong.

And then Gwen, unable to walk, unwilling to crawl
running on all fours, a gentle steam roller, sure 
of herself and demanding that the world be right.
And the world around her rightened itself, sweet 
as the rules you taught her, intelligent and good
as laughter or music or food.

Eldon, the agile middle child, lazing in possibility
or climbing impossible ladders toward the sun
graceful as a young god, wanting to shower himself
into a moment as perfect as the moment creation 
began, all glory and thunder and light.  And you
waited with him, trusting the slow gathering of powers.

Michael and Becky, "attack babies"
prowling for hugs and laughter, his flaming
enthusiasm and her quiet insight an unlikely rightness, 
their twinned laughter a gentle background,
their difference a way of fitting.

The moment you said yes held this
quarter-century, itself a moment 

Ah, the gift for words!  They have both captured  so much so wonderfully here, that I won't ruin it by trying to add unnecessary lines myself.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Miracles and Joys

"We hear of the conversion of water into wine at the marriage in Cana as of a miracle.  But this conversion is, through the goodness of God, made every day before our eyes.  Behold the rain which descends from heaven upon our vineyards; there it enters the roots of the vines, to be changed into wine;  a constant proof that God loves us, and loves to see us happy.  The miracle in question was only performed to hasten the operation, under circumstances of present necessity, which required it." 
~Benjamin Franklin

Its in the spirit of this definition of miracles that I'm writing this morning.  The last two days, it has been seemingly small things, natural things, that have seemed quite wonderful to me.

Last night, Doug had to run to the store to get some food for our birds.  When he came back, I was sitting on the couch and he said, "Come here for a second.  Come outside."  I walked out onto the patio with him, looking around trying to see what it was he was so obviously excited about.  After a few moments I realized that it was the cool air, bordering on--dare I say it?--cold, about which he was so happy.  

To continue this excitement, when I woke up this morning I found that I was underneath the blankets on my bed.  We had slept with the windows open (a small miracle in and of itself) and when I poked my face out was delighted to feel my cheeks nipped by cold air.  When I walked Keilana to school this morning both the kids were wearing heavy sweaters.  Though I was wearing a warm long-sleeved shirt, I wished I had worn a sweater as well--what a delightful longing!  I love summer and winter (though living here makes me love even the idea of summer less every year), but neither elicits in me the kind of wonderment and gratitude that do the fall and spring.  The changing: in fall, the fading away of the heat, the leaves turning color, the first delightful meals of stew and evenings curled up with a cup of cocoa;  in spring, the bursting forth of color and new life after the long drab winter, the first warm rays of sunshine on my back.  Its in these changes, usually so welcome by the time they come, that I find my gratitude for this world, my testimony that it does have a divine (and loving) creator behind it all, is renewed and amplified.

Wednesday night, we had to go to the Church to watch a broadcast and afterwards we began talking to a friend, a conversation that went on longer than it probably should've, given that bedtime had already passed when the broadcast ended.  But how grateful I am that we have friends that enjoy thoughtful conversation as much as we do!  Anyway, we got home rather late and Keilana has a little bit of a cold, so I decided that if she didn't wake up on her own in time for school in the morning, I wasn't going to wake her.  Dylan, being his stubborn self, woke up at 6:30.  But he let me get away with putting in a movie for him and going back to bed myself.  So I slept in til 8:15!  It was glorious.  I laughed and said, only half-seriously, to Doug that since Keilana didn't go to school, I didn't have to go to work that evening and he needed a day off anyway, we should all go to Costco and get some shopping done.  He went to work until about 11, then he came home and we did just that.

On the way back, we stopped at Katy's office to say hello, and ended up talking four about 4 1/2 hours.  I am grateful for a mother-in-law who, blessed with an independent child, did all she could to nurture that independence.  I have a husband who is not in any way whatsoever a momma's boy (and the more I listen to other women talk about their husbands, the more grateful I am for that), but who at the same time has a tremendous amount of respect for his mother.  They enjoy one another's friendship and, for all the struggles inherent in their relationship for various, quite understandable reasons, they have a great deal of trust for each other.  She has been a wonderful second mother to me, and though we don't spend that kind of time with her as often as perhaps we should, I'm grateful for the times we do have that opportunity.

And the greatest miracle of all started on the way home.  Dylan has always been a great sleeper.  The night he was born, he slept for almost five hours.  The first day we brought him home from the hospital, he slept for eight or ten (granted, during the day, instead of at night, but still).  Such has been his wonderful disposition.  Until a few months ago, when he decided he'd rather not sleep at all.  My wonderfully content little boy has lately been always just on the verge of grumpy, because he never gets enough sleep. Wednesday, he fell asleep in the car on the way to my doctor appointment--at 9am.  Obviously, the kid needs more sleep.  That afternoon (since his nap in the car had been all of about 5 minutes), I tried to get him to nap.  I left him in his room for 3 1/2 hours.  I spanked him a couple of times. I tried to bribe him.  Nothing worked.  That night, we didn't get home until 10.  Then he woke up at 6:30.  He slept for most of the drive to Costco yesterday (about 20 min).  On the way home from Katy's office, he fell asleep.  It was about 6:30, so still a good hour until his normal bedtime.  Convinced that this would mean he would wake me up at 3am, I went to bed rather grumpy (especially since I don't ever get enough sleep myself, what with achy hips and annoying headaches, etc).  He woke up in the middle of the night and seemed a little disoriented and upset, so Doug brought him into our room so he could snuggle up with me.  He went back to sleep immediately, and didn't wake up until the alarm went off at 7 this morning!!  It was glorious, and it has been wonderful this morning to see him back to his normal little Dylan self--happy, mellow, easily satisfied, low key.  Amazing what one good night's sleep can do!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cartober fest and fall at last

Every October, Lindsay hosts a chili cook off.  This year, with wonderful McDermont just across the street and available, there was also a car show.  So the street in front of our house was full of vendors, lots of live music, clowns, etc.  And McDermont was full of cars!! Doug was helping to run the event, so we went over for a while to check it out and pay him a visit.  It was a lot of fun.  Dylan loved all the cars and hated that I wouldn't let him drive any of them.  There were about 75 cars and 25 or 30 motorcycles, and almost all of them were very, very cool.  Keilana liked just about anything that was a convertible.  I should also point out that I did not dress her.  She loves those silly boots and even though I've told her that they are for snow, if we get the teensy, tiniest bit of rain, she insists on wearing them.  This is a battle I see no sense in fighting, so I let her wear the furry things.  
In the arcade, Keilana tries her feet at the soccer kick game.
Dylan's favorite game in the arcade is, of course, the Nascar cars.  Though Whac-A-Mole and the Tokyo Drift Superbikes come in a close tied second.  He's actually pretty darned good at Whac-A-Mole.
Keilana was very bossy about Dance Dance Revolution--apparently, Dylan's dancing skills aren't up to her standards.
All the cars!!  Its so fun to see big things starting to happen over there.  Its been such a great journey and I'll be so grateful when I don't have to think about it anymore!!

I actually remembered to take my camera with me to the park today.  My ability to take a decent picture seems to decrease inversely proportionate to the size of my belly.  But there were a couple good ones in there.  It was so nice out--probably the high 70s, and sunny but not overbearingly so.  We stayed longer than usual today, and the kids were grateful for that.  They got lots of time to run and jump and climb and scream without ever once being told to slow down or quiet down.  They needed some extra time.  They were very, very happy.

Kids these days. . . .so disrespectful! :)
He thought he was such a clever monkey, until he realized he couldn't reach the bar in the middle.
Both of my kids prefer going up the slide to going down it.
Keilana taking a break, after going up and sliding down about 5 times in very rapid succession.
He really is a better, more agile climber than his girthiness would indicate.
Dylan tries to maintain his balance as Keilana gives him a push on the "spinner", as Keilana likes to call it.
If Dylan looks a little irritated here, its because he is.  Keilana runs up and down these bars all the time.  He has not yet figured out how to do it, and he HATES being outdone by his sister.
A favorite activity for both the kids is just hanging on the monkey bars, without ever going anyway.  I don't really get why its so funny, but then again, I haven't the sophisticated sense of play of a 2 or 4 year old.

And, on a final note, I went to my midwife again today.  I have 8 weeks to go until the due date, and my belly is measuring just right (still just a tiny smidge big).  The big news of the day is that she's finally turned around (no longer kinda-head-up-but-mostly-sideways), with her head down.  And now that she's a little more straight up and down, I'm a bit more comfortable.  The iron I started taking after my last appointment has made a big difference.  I'm still tired, but not nearly as fatigued as I had been.  Lets hope whatever bit of energy I have left lasts me another two months!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Children of the Mind

I have had my interests diverted elsewhere for a few months, so I hadn't really read much fiction.  The last few days I indulged the pleasure of reading Orson Scott Card's "Children of the Mind", on the books in his Ender series.  I love his writing, and I thought I'd share some of my favorite quotes from the book, in hopes that I might peak someone else's interest, that they might find a love of his fiction also.  I give them no context, but most of them stand on their own OK.

"Please don't disillusion me.  I haven't had breakfast yet."

"I find out what I really want by seeing what I do. . .That's what we all do, if we're honest about it.  We have our feelings, we make our decisions, but in the end we look back on our lives and see how sometimes we ignored our feelings, while most of our decisions were actually rationalizations because we had already decided in our secret hearts before we ever realized it consciously."

"If one has to say, in an argument, 'I am intelligent! I do know things!' then one might as well stop arguing."

"It doesn't mean I'm not a real person because I can choose to give my life to someone else.  It doesn't mean I don't have any fight in me."

"Everyone dies.  Everyone leaves.  What matters is the things you build together before they go.  What matters is the part of them that continues in you when they're gone."

". . .the aiua of the mothertree was strong without ambition. . . .the mothertree aiua expected nothing from her children, loved their independence as much as she had loved their need."

"That's life.  It hurts, it's dirty, and it feels very, very good."

"And enough for me that when my hand touched your shoulder, you leaned on me; and when you felt me slip away, you called my name."

"That's what civilized people do--they avoid the circumstance that enrages them.  Or if they can't avoid it, they detach."

"I always felt such a pity for you humans because you could only think of one thing at a time and your memories were so imperfect and. . . .now I realize that just getting through the day without killing somebody can be an achievement."

"I've had your tears with mine, and you've had mine with yours.  I think that's more intimate even than a kiss."

" 'This emotion I'm feeling now, this is love, right?'
   'I don't know.  Is it a longing?  Is it a giddy stupid happiness just because you're with  me?'
   'Yes,' she said.
   'That's influenza,' said Miro. 'Watch for nausea or diarrhea within a few hours.' "

"We'll see that child be varelse on some days and raman on others.  On some days, we'll be good parents and some days we'll be wretched failures.  Some days we'll be desperately sad and some days we'll be so happy we can hardly contain it.  I can live with that."

"Changing the world is good for those who want their names in books.  But being happy, that is for those who write their names in the lives of others, and hold the hearts of others as the treasure most dear."

"The sweet-faced baby, eager for life.  Baby tears from the pain of falling down.  Laughter at the simplest things--laughter because of a song, because of seeing a beloved face, because life was pure and good for him then, and nothing had caused him pain.  He was surrounded by love and hope.  The hands that touched him were strong and tender; he could trust them all. . . .How I wish you could have kept on living such a life of joy.  But no one can.  Language comes to us, and with it lies and threats, cruelty and disappointment.  You walk, and those steps lead you outside the shelter of your home.  To keep the joy of childhood you would have to die as a child, or live as one, never becoming a man, never growing.  So I can grieve for the lost child, and yet not regret the good man braced with pain and riven with guilt, who yet was kind to me and to many others. . . ."

This actually isn't even my favorite of his books, but they are all well-worth reading.  I love all the stuff I've been reading the last few years---history, nonfiction, science and theory, etc--but there's just nothing quite like good fiction.  That wonderfully melancholy feeling of finishing a book and knowing it was good because, as you finished the last page and closed the cover, you felt like you'd just lost a friend.  

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Grieving Period

My last two pregnancies, somewhere in month 7 or 8 I'd hit this kind of melancholy patch where, as excited as I was, I would have this tiny bit of mourning that our family was never going to be just as it had been before.  With Keilana, it was that my time with just Doug was ending, and that we wouldn't have that again for 20 or 30 years (and we'd been married less than a year), that from here on out, it would be about the baby.  When I was pregnant with Dylan, it was reflecting on all that we'd been through together, just the three of us, in the previous 18 months.  We had been removed from both our families and in many ways from a normal social circle, so we relied so heavily on each other--not just Keilana on us, but we on her.  We invested every spare moment and bit of energy in her, and she was our inspiration and our joy.  While that would all still be true to some degree, I knew the dynamic was about to change rapidly.

This time I haven't had that little sense of loss.  But I have had greater apprehension.  I've had a hard time nailing down exactly why that is, and as soon as it hit me it was so painfully obvious. I'm worried about the juggling--about finding a proper balance.  We will finally be outnumbered, I will finally have more children than I do arms.  I will have one in school full time and one that needs to be nursed and will consequently probably accompany me everywhere.  And once again with a baby on the way, we are considering major life changes.  Granted, this time they are not so certain or immediate, but they are also much less clearly defined.  And if we do move in the direction we are considering, it will also mean that I have more children and less of my husband around to help--that is a bit daunting to think about.  It places the search and desire for that elusive balance at the forefront of my mind.

Each stage that I have moved forward in life, that balance has been more difficult to achieve--with the one exception being transitioning from high school to college.  That was a bit ironic, since everyone warned me about all the demands there would be on me in college, about how busy and (possibly) overwhelming it would be.  After the demands I put on myself in all arenas of my life in high school, college felt more like a vacation.  But then I got married.  We were both full-time students, both working, I was pregnant, and we'd known each other less than a year, so we were trying to figure out how to work around and with one another's schedules, personalities, needs and desires.  Among other adjustments! It was a busy first year of marriage.

Then we had Keilana.  She was such a happy baby, my one complaint was that she was just so busy.  But that was also a blessing.  Since she loved to go, she did--everywhere we went.  We adjusted to working, new academic and social environments and demands, our new little family, and the various demands and responsibilities that came with those changes.  Somewhere in the middle of it all, we did manage to find some equilibrium, enough so that we decided it was time for another baby.  As we prepared to welcome him (just before the end of that master's program), we naively believed that once we were done with school (or at least the primary breadwinner was), we would have less stress, less demand on our time that the sometimes intensive school schedule required.

But then Doug got this job and we moved to Lindsay and have had 2 1/2 years of complete insanity.  His job has been hugely rewarding, but as with most things, the demands have been proportionate to the rewards--demands not only on time, but on mental, emotional and physical energy and wellness.  We have had to balance a very busy career with two growing children, several large callings, familial and social obligations (that, admittedly, were a bit of an adjustment after being accustomed to being a bit of an island unto ourselves for a few years), and many various activities.  There has just been so much going on with us as well as around us.  I look at my friends who have 4 or 5 (or 6 or 7) children and all the work it takes just keep their homes running on a daily basis, I sometimes wonder how they ever get done any of the other things that they do.  I know that they feel unbalanced as well, but I marvel that they have achieved the levels of balance in their lives and homes that they have.  

Being a bit apprehensive about a third baby (which they all kindly assure me is in fact the most difficult transition), it has been a comfort to me to have such friends--to have kind women in my life who have been there and are reassuring without being condescending (and I realize this is a virtue in them, because it would be hard for lesser women to be such, knowing I have only glimpsed what it is that they go through on a daily basis).  One of those friends recently pointed out a small wooden plaque in her kitchen that is one of the keys to her sanity and successes.  It reads, "Select the neglect".  I loved that thought, because I tend to be so much an all-or-nothing personality.  There is never enough time in day to accomplish everything I should, let alone everything I want to.  And so the key is finding what is most needful and going from there.  This friend happens to have 7 children ranging in age from 5 to 17 and was just recently released as Relief Society president (and is now teaching seminary)--the demands on her time and attention are indeed great. But she has become remarkably adept at discerning what is simply good, and what is truly needful.

I just keep hoping, praying and working to try to become like Mary, because I think I have a tendency to be more of a Martha.  "Thou are careful and troubled about many things. . ." that sounds like me a lot of days. But how good am I at choosing "that good part"?  One thing is for certain, as we move forward in the coming months and make decisions about what path to take our family down, I will have to get better at it.  The tasks and needs competing for my attention surely aren't going to lessen any time soon, and as time goes on will indeed probably only increase, and so I must learn to more effectively channel my attention where it is most needed.  There are many good things I could do with each hour of each day, but I must have a more heightened awareness of what the best thing I could do at the moment is.  Of what is the right thing.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Birthdays and BIRTHdays

So today is my dad's birthday. . . .should I tell you how old he is, or is that rude?  He was born in the 50s, let's have that suffice.

My dad is, in many ways, a very cool guy, so I thought in honor of his birthday I would share a few things that I particularly like about him:

*He eschews shoes (I really wanted a reason to use that phrase) in the summer months as much as possible.  As some of you may have noticed--I realize its very subtle--this is a habit I delightfully inherited.  While good at making a social impression when the situation necessitates it, formality is something he never has valued much in daily life, often leaving for his office with hair unbrushed and little to nothing on his feet.  I learned from his example both the importance of playing by the rules and making a good impression when appropriate, but being casually at ease the rest of the time.

*He has a delightfully weird and often wildly subversive sense of humor.  Possessing in myself a nature that is inherently averse to anyone assuming authority over me or my life, being blessed with a father who openly mocked unjust, incompetent or just plain evil authority figures or systems has been (for better or worse) a comfort and delight to me.  I also grew up finding humor in ways and places most people never would because of his sometimes bizarre amusements, and that has made life ever so much more fun.

*He is a great gardener.  When people who don't know my father have sought descriptions of him, I've used many words--brilliant, funny, diversely talented, etc--but what I usually come back to is that, at heart, I believe my father is essentially a hobbit.  Ok, so he doesn't have the smallness of thought that Tolkien endowed the Hobbits with (quite the opposite), but I do believe that where his heart truly lies is in peace and quiet and good-tilled earth.  My parents' yard is one of my favorite places on earth, for many reasons, but my father's beautiful gardens top the list.

*He loves big ideas.  His intellect and obvious love for serious and interesting thought pushed me to think about things more (and simply to think about different things) than I otherwise would probably be inclined to naturally.  Much of my strong curiosity and desire to learn was founded, I think, in a desire to be able to keep up with him (not that I can anyway;) ), and he fostered that growth when I was young by telling me lots of things and, more importantly, by asking me questions, which pushed me to get there on my own.  My thought processes and what I think about, though still quite meager compared to many, are more sophisticated than they would've been without that early "brain training".

*Music.  I don't know that my father has any musical talent.  I don't know that he doesn't.  I've never heard him attempt anything musical (save for one afternoon when Israel was about 3 singing "Old Macdonald").  What I do know is that he always had music playing, that my earliest musical memories and some of the music I still love were introduced to me by him.  The two songs I remember most from my early childhood are "Yesterday" by the Beatles and "Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota" by Weird Al (though its altogether possible that that was Christa's tape, I don't know).  My mom sang to me and with me often and my father always had good music playing, and because of that today I have a wonderful love for music--I'm rarely NOT listening to it (though this can be a financial problem, what with the impulsive ease of downloading music from iTunes right on my phone, wherever I am).

There are other things, but there's a few highlights for you.  I should have a picture of him to post, since one of the things I love about him is that he constantly mocks English teachers while simultaneously looking so much the part of an English teacher (which he is).  But living so far from home, and consequently not often taking picture of my family, I'm afraid I don't have any very good recent ones to upload.  Most of ya'll have seen him, though.  You get the idea:)  So happy birthday to Dad!

And on a parting note, it is now officially less than 2 months til my due date--though probably not less than two months til I have a baby.  The due date is the 2nd of December, but we are planning on the birth day being the 12th (or 13th, if she's as stubborn as the last two).  I feel big and uncomfortable and moody, and yet not quite ready to be taking care of a newborn.  Things are going well and a week from Saturday will be my last day of work, which should make things a bit easier.  Hopefully it won't be long after that that we'll be back in Montana so that my big ol' family can meet little Clark baby number 3. :)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Ricky Gervais, my new hero

Ok, so if you don't know who Ricky Gervais is, you should, because he's freaking hilarious.  He's a British comedian.  He just had a movie open with Greg Kinnear, in which he plays a cantankerous dentist who sees dead people (the reviews are mixed).  What he's most famous for, however, is originating the role now played by Steve Carrell on the "The Office".  That show is modeled after a similar one from the UK that was Gervais' brain child.

Anyway, last week he wrote an article for Newsweek about 8 things that annoy him.  I was skeptical going in, as usually such articles written by comedians are annoying, vulgar, offensive or all three.  But I loved the whole thing.  Showed that he is a classy guy who also happens to have a great sense of humor.

One of his pet peeves I share in spades, so I had to pass it on:

"People who use the line 'I say what I think.'  No, you're rude, and you're just trying to make it a virtue.  People are always going on about how 'I'm not two-faced.'  No, but you are a nasty, facist, racist piece of dirt.  That outweighs two-faced.  Next time, be two-faced."

So true!! I know so many people who think that in order to be polite you have to be fake and it drives me absolutely mad!  If I don't like someone, I don't have to pretend that we're best friends.  But I also don't have to ignore or denigrate them.  If I have an opinion that I know is rude but can't help but feeling, it hurts no one to keep it to myself until I can adjust my attitude or remove myself from the problem.  

I have always had trouble understanding true extroverts, being so far from that inclination myself.  But I have a hard time believing that, even if it is in your nature to say anything that comes into your head (and I work with a few teenagers for whom I know it is a very real personality trait), you couldn't learn to control what comes out of your mouth by the time you're an adult!