Brain Fog and Sudoku

I looked in the bathroom to find my mom perched on the edge of the tub, doing sudoku.

“It’s supposed to help with brain fog,” she says.

She read somewhere that when you suffer from brain fog, you should engage in something that uses a different part of the brain.

Hence, sudoku.

Does it help? I wondered.

“I don’t know,” she says.

I close the door on my way out, leaving Mom hiding in the bathroom, that most sacred of all mommy hiding places.  Doing sudoku.

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Miscarriage – The Club I Never Wanted To Join

We just got news from our close friends Greg and Allison that they lost their baby at 10 weeks along. She is scheduled for surgery tomorrow at 3pm.

I hope that no one will tell them that it’s “God’s Will” that the baby died.

I hope that no one will tell them that it’s “better off this way”.

I hope no one will be quick to urge them to “try again”.

I do hope that they will find, as I did, that there is a hidden host of people who have shared their experience.

And I hope that they can share their pain with these people who still have their own lost babies tucked deep inside their hearts.

Me With Three, end of Day One

  • I should have resolved to teach the girls to go to sleep without supervision before the advent of No. 3.  But, hey, better late than never, I always say.  Night Three and things are going very well.  I’m hoping that by the end of the week we can just put them in bed and be FREE!!
  • I’m wondering if there is a limit to how many times Amelie can spill water somewhere in the house.  On the carpet.  I’m hoping there is a limit.
  • Back in the saddle again.  Or maybe, On the Road Again.  Depending on your preference.  I’m snickering at my resolution to take things slowly and easily.  Ah, ignorance and innocence.  But I was just, oh, so unwilling to let go of my leisurely return to the reality of full-time motherhood and stay-at-home-ness.

I was reminded of a scene in The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax (Mrs. Pollifax books are always a balm for the soul).  Old lady CIA agent is abducted from Mexico City and ends up leading an escape party from her Albanian jail.  Leads it right over a cliff, where she falls and lands on a tree branch.  Farrell, her companion, is trying to coach and coax her off the tree branch suspended in space and onto a ledge in the cliff.

Mrs. Pollifax says, “I prefer staying with this tree branch, thank you.”

Farrell said nastily, “For how many years, Duchess?”

Indeed!

  • Levi is a flourishing infant.  Waxing fat.  Losing his neck.  He reminds me of a big fat burrito.  I like patting him.  🙂  He, himself, at two weeks of age, thinks that he is a one-month-old.  No more newborn for him.  <sniff>  We’ve already graduated to size 1 diapers (benefits of mothering experience…it only took two blow-outs to convince me to move up to what seems like gigantic diapers).  And today he is wearing his first 0-3 month outfit.  I prefer him to look like a swaddled burrito over a stuffed sausage.  We’re vegetarian, you know.
  • Amelie and Lia learned today the Art of Sibling Conspiracy.  We got home from the library and within two minutes they were both hiding under the crib with the package of finger paints (yes, opened, yes on the carpet, yes I hate carpets).  And later there was the sneak off to the tent with a pacifier each.  Oh, it’s so much more fun to get into trouble together!  Oh my, am I ready for this?
  • I’m thinking that I will begin blogging more facebook-style.  I can pop in and type out a one-liner with one-hand in one-minute.  Blogging, on the other hand, takes not only two hands and many minutes, but also mental fortitude.
  • Devo asked Lia if she missed him today.  She said, “No, I didn’t miss you, because I had your love in my heart.”  <sniff>

Affirmation Needed

It’s so nice to know that I will soon return to a normal emotional state.  That this post-birth state of being will indeed pass.  Eventually.

I attribute it to fluctuating hormones, yes.  But also to the miracle of having your heart torn open to let in all the love for the new baby.

Like that Elizabeth Stone quote: “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

That just takes a little time to get used to, that’s all.

But until then, I am a deep well of need.

People cannot tell me enough times that my baby is perfect.

That I’m looking really good.

That I’m a great mother.

That I did so well during labor and birth.

That my family is wonderful.

That I’m amazing, wonderful, admirable.

Devo cannot lavish on me enough affection.  My girls cannot hug me enough.  I cannot get enough different-flavored kisses (strawberry and chocolate milk seem to be the main flavors).  I cannot get enough of my snuggling, loving little baby.

I know beforehand to steel myself for (or avoid, if possible) the person who always finds fault with my mothering and the one who always thinks I’m looking badly (and if I’m not, they’re surprised and taken aback in a mournful way).  I let Devo read all the nasty world news and keep it from me.  I can only handle happy happy happy things at the moment.

But let me tell you, it sure is a relief to know that this, too, will pass.

Levi’s Birth Story

Levi Aaron will be one week tomorrow.  (Yes, we finally named him.  Took some thinking.  I was gratified to find, after we named him, that we chose the most popular name on the baby name poll.)  One week ago right now I was starting labor and I wasn’t very happy about it.

I actually started having contractions on Sunday night.  After a week of “peace and safety” (read: absolutely nothing, not a twinge, not a cramp), things started up again.  And this time they were cramping in the front AND along the back. And to make them a little more believable, I had lost part of my mucus plug that morning…and my other two were born the same day as losing the mucus plug.

So I bustled around and fed the girls dinner and put them to bed and started making phone calls, to let the various people know that there might be a possibility of labor in the near future.  Karen (my midwife) decided to forgo the last night of camping with her family in San Diego and headed up towards home, only 45 minutes away instead of 2 hours.  My mom assured me that her day was clear.  And Devo came home after the church meeting.

And the contractions just moseyed along.  For another 24 hours.  At either 5 minutes apart or 10 minutes apart.  I thought, “At this rate, the baby will ooze out by next July.”

And then I thought, “Maybe this baby likes privacy.  Maybe I shouldn’t have called anybody.”  Hahaha.

So I slept, fairly fitfully, and took a nap, and went to the library and mailed boxes and went to yoga.  And, oh, yoga was great.  After a day of back cramps, the slow deep stretch class was just what I needed.  Things slowed down, I think I only had three contractions in the hour and a half.  By the end of class, my spirits were dropping and all I wanted was to go home and crawl into bed and sleep.

Devo went off to tennis and I put the girls in bed.  And that’s when it decided to start.  Of course the girls didn’t go to sleep easily.  And I was grumpy already.  And now trying to manage them with these annoying contractions threatened to send me over the edge.  So I abandoned my children to their mischief (which I could hear plainly) and crawled into the bathtub.

I’m so glad I didn’t know I was going to be in labor for seven more hours.  I had really been banking on two hours.  Ha.  Maybe next time.

By the time Devo got home, my mental state was tremulous indeed.  I squeezed out a few tears of self-pity.  And then I lay back in the bathtub and worked at pulling myself together.

Devo put the girls to bed, got me a heater and my swimsuit top and my toothbrush and the ipod with my relaxation and affirmation tracks, started filling the tub, setting out supplies, calling everyone.  Assuring Karen that I “looked pretty serious”.

My bath water got cold, so I transferred to the filling tub in the living room.  Lia woke up and came to watch.  Marni arrived.  Karen arrived.  Devo climbed in the tub with me.  And I labored.

It was a very relaxed labor.  I would have a contraction and then, nothing, for quite some time.  I imagine the gap were like 5 to 7 minutes between contractions, but what do I know?  Time is blessedly distorted in labor.  It would give me time to relax or to pull myself back together again.  Or to ask Lia for water or a towel (she was so sweet and helpful).

Amelie woke up and Devo got out of the water to go get her out of bed.  Amelie is in almost every picture that was taken during labor.  She played right around the tub, holding my hands, giving me kisses (“I love you, Mommy”), dabbling in the water, chatting away.  Amazing the empathy she has at just barely two.

Lia spent her time (that I saw) with Marni, reading and snuggling.  She would come to help me any time I asked.  People are so shocked at the idea of letting your children be with you during labor and birth, but I really don’t know why.  It is such a beautiful experience.

labor

Now, about hypnobirthing.  There is one visualization exercise that involves turning a dial on your “sensory panel” from ON (which is where it normally is) to OFF.  The idea is, letting endorphins work their magic and only experiencing comfort and relaxation.

It didn’t work for me.

I don’t know if I didn’t practice enough, didn’t have enough “faith”, or what.

But I do totally believe that eliminating fear eliminates tension, which in turn greatly reduces pain.

I also really liked the birth affirmations, which I had recorded myself (didn’t want to pay the additional $18) adding certain psalms and Bible verses in between.  Having them run continuously gave me something to ground myself with in between contractions.  I’d catch a blip here and a blip there.  The background music was my favorite “monk chant” that I got from my yoga teacher.

The Slow Breathing advocated by hypnobirthing was great.  Bradley also espouses ‘abdominal breathing’, but I like the hypnobirthing variation better.  Inhale for a fast count of 20 (or a slower count of 10), exhale for the same.  And, this is what made all the difference for me, pushing the stomach out out out while inhaling.  This extending of the stomach helped keep me focused and changed how I felt the contractions.

I found that if I could stayed calm and focused through two to three breaths, the main part of the contraction would be over and I’d be homefree.   In a manner of speaking.  In almost all the pictures, I look so relaxed, it’s almost funny.  My whole face is so slack, I laugh when I look at the pictures.

With Lia’s labor, also long and slow (9 hours), there was always an underlying current of pain.  The only moment of ease I experienced in her labor was when I threw up.  It was my favorite part of the whole experience.  Haha.

With Amelie’s labor (short, fast, and wild…2 hours), I had breaks in between the contractions, but the contractions themselves were so strong and overwhelming that the breaks were merely moments to try to recover my shattered self.

But this time I’d have a contraction, a manageable one, and then a long break.  It was rather…glorious…comparatively speaking.

Devo spent most of the time in the pool with me.  I’m surprised his arms weren’t sore…he pushed on my sacrum most of the time.  Towards the end Karen showed him how to squeeze my hips together.  The only problem was that when I’d try to tell him a contraction was starting and to push harder, he couldn’t hear my murmuring over the ipod.  I remember once just yelling out, PUSH! and then wondering if they were laughing at my imperious, demanding tone.  (He says they weren’t).  In between we’d just lay together, or I’d relax back on to him.

Sometime around 11, I asked Karen to check me.  I had decided that if I was at 4 cm, I’d need to brace myself for a long labor.  But surprise, surprise, I was 7-8 cm!  That was the best news.  I could feel myself grinning like a chessy cat, all proud and happy.  I perked up so much I thought I should tone it down.

I also thought that if I just willed it, I could dilate completely in a timely fashion.  So I concentrated on relaxing during contractions, and thinking “open, open, open”, and opening my mouth (a clenched jaw can inhibit dilation).

But to no avail, things just kept la-di-dah-ing.

Finally, finally, probably about 1am, Karen said I was complete.  I was starting to get uncomfortable AND impatient.  I had read so much about feeling the baby starting to move down and the mom moving quietly and seamlessly from Slow Breathing to Birth Breathing.  I was looking forward to that, the end stage.

Yeah, well.  Spent some time on the toilet, which to my surprise felt (comparatively) good.  With Lia’s labor, I had begged to pee in the shower, because sitting on the toilet made it so intense.  Tried the birth breathing.  Tried some pushing.  He wouldn’t budge.

There was a lovely, bulging sac preventing everything from moving.

Finally I decided to ask Karen to break it.  She suggested that I first try to pop it with my fingernail during a contraction.  No such luck, it was like thick plastic.

I think it took her like 7 or 8 tries with the amniohook to pop that sac.  It was a thick sucker.

By this time I’d had enough.  I was ready to be done.  Forget birth breathing, I was going to push. Back to the pool.

Now that the bag of waters was out of the way, pushing gave me results.  I think I pushed for 12 minutes (according to the video) after rupturing the membranes.

I was like a pushing machine.  I remember as he was crowning and it was stretching and burning thinking, “I was right, this isn’t the worst part”.  I was so proud of myself, I pushed and stopped and pushed and stopped and eased his head out. (I DIDN’T TEAR!!!! WOOHOO!!! …that’s a first).  I reached down to feel his face and had Devo (who was sitting behind me supporting me) feel his head, too.  Devo hadn’t felt the baby’s head with either of the girls, and I was eager for him to get to this time.  It is, after all, the best part…such an amazing moment when things are neither here nor there, suspended in space.  I asked Lia if she wanted to feel, but she didn’t.  I don’t know that she could have reached, anyhow.

And then, I don’t remember this from the other two, but I actually felt his head turn to align with his body.

I heard Karen asking if I wanted to catch the baby, but I didn’t respond.  She gave him a little support while I pushed out his shoulders and his body, and I heard her ask Marni to take a picture of him under the water before I lifted him out. Karen said that while he was still underwater, his eyes were open and he was moving his arms and legs.

1:58am.  April 21, 2009.

waterbirth

And then I lifted him up and out.  On the video I heard a shriek, a holler.  It was me yelling, “I did it!  I DID IT!”  I don’t remember that at all, but I wasn’t surprised.  My little self-pep talks through the whole labor consisted of, “You can do this.  Leilani, you can do it.”

And Amelie said, “Baby Brudder born!  Put him in the carseat!”

And Mom said that Lia’s eyes were wide, wide, wide.  Not quite scared, she said, just wide.

And then he didn’t breathe.  And we rubbed him and he didn’t breathe.  And we rubbed more vigorously and he didn’t breathe.  Karen felt the cord and decided to cut so that she could work on him.  So I stood up so that she could get at the cord (my cords are always embarrassingly skinny and short), and the shock of the air must have done the trick, because he started breathing and managed some cries.

And we were all happy.

girls with baby

Lia cut the cord.  She wanted to wear a blue plastic glove like Auntie Karen.

And then I lay back on Devo and we all admired our perfect new baby.  He looks remarkably like Lia.  Dark skin, dark hair, very similar features.  I had thought he was going to be dark.

It took forever to deliver the placenta.  Like 45 minutes or something.  I finally had to get out of the tub and nurse to help things along.

The baby had some moisture in his lungs, so he was patted and got it all drained out.  A nurse named Beth came along to assist Karen, and she took good care of our little baby.

I voted he was 7 pounds, 4 oz.  Somebody else thought maybe 7, 6.

He was 8 pounds, even.  21 inches long.

Long, long fingers.  Dark hair.  Beautiful little body.  Toes that can spread wide wide wide (good for yoga!).  Lots and lots of vernix.  Lots of downy, soft hair on his shoulders and back.

I took a shower…not quite the soothing glad experience I had so fondly remembered…the water never got very hot.

I had orange juice.  And cheesecake.  And, boy, was that cheesecake good.

I noticed that I was the only one to finish my piece.  I guess cheesecake doesn’t sound quite as good to normal people at 4am.

Devo put the girls to bed, I’m not sure what time.  But it was so amazing how they were awake virtually all night, and as happy and cheerful and contented as can be.

The baby was so peaceful, so contented, so quiet.  The next day he cried, and Devo came in from the other room to see what he looks like when he cries…he’s such a quiet little guy.

We crawled into bed about 6/6:30.

The girls woke up around 8:30, and we were off on Day 1.  My loving husband made me a delicious breakfast and we spent the day admiring our perfect new son.

I felt so good on Tuesday that I was asking Karen when I could go back to yoga and admiring my new, svelte self in the mirror (I love the deflated belly look…at least, I love it for the first week or two).  I was bustling about (okay, not really bustling, but compared to my energy level after previous births, I was bustling) taking care of myself and the baby while Devo did absolutely everything else.  Not tearing and not being exhausted from the labor made all the difference.

I’m going to try to jot down the different things from this last week that I wanted to record.  Hopefully I can remember them.  But now that I have the birth story out of the way, I feel I can jump forward to NOW without guilt.  🙂

Doctors

I don’t know when the last time this happened was (maybe nine months ago?), but I’m the first one up this morning.  Not that it’s a great accomplishment…I got up past 7am…we had a late night last night.  But I’ve got a doctor’s appointment this morning, purposefully early, and thought it behooved me to arrive on time.

I’m getting tested for Beta Strep today.  And the nurse practitioner said that she was also going to do a pelvic exam and check for effacement and dilation.  But I think I’m going to refuse.  After all, I’m only 36 weeks tomorrow…still a ways away.  And hearing that I’m dilated or effaced always sends me into swithers and dithers of psychological unrest.  And who wants someone poking around in there unless you have to?

Last appointment I asked the NP to see if she could tell which way the baby was positioned.  She told me that she couldn’t, because there was no ultrasound machine in the room.  She doesn’t know how to feel with her hands and figure it out.  I left feeling oh, so sorry for her and all others like her.  Imagine having a job caring for pregnant women and never feeling the babies!  How terrible!

And it’s not like it’s that hard.  You feel the hard head down near the pubic bone (usually), follow a smooth back up one side or the other, to a round squishy-hard bottom.  And then on the other side are the wiggling arms and legs.

I’m sorry for the resounding silence recently.  Sometimes real life happens.  And sometimes I happen…which is what happened this week.  Hopefully I’ve returned now.

Birth Art

One of my favorite birthing preparation books, Birthing From Within, does a lot with birth art.  Drawing, painting, sculpting, etc.  The only problem is that every time I try to draw/paint/sculpt, I end up using words.  Words speak to me.  Words satisfy.  Maybe that’s why I am a singer and not a pianist.

Which isn’t to say that I don’t respond to art…I do!  Especially birth art.  And women art.  If I didn’t think it would be just a little weird, my house would be filled with women and birth art.  Like this beautiful piece, Cradle of Love, by Nancy Bright.

Cradle of Love, Nancy Bright birth art

Rather than painting, I made a list of words that represent my beliefs and thoughts and experiences with labor and birth.  It’s a fairly comprehensive list, and now that I think of it, not necessarily an emotive list.  It might be an interesting exercise (or “inquiry”) to periodically make a smaller, shorter list of words that mean something specifically to me at the moment.  Then see how it changes over time as I get closer to Birth and as I work through and process my beliefs and fears.

Here it is, Leilani’s Birth Art.  (The artsy part came in when choosing colors and fonts at wordle.net).  Click on it to see it in full view.

word birth art

Yet Another Resolution

I hereby resolve to break the leg crossing habit.

crossing

After all, we all know from Princess Diaries that the knees should be pressed together and the ankles gracefully crossed.  But I think that can wait for next year.

Up to Here

What I’ve been up to during my long and unexplained silence-

1) browsing home decor sites.  My favorite so far?  Nesting Place.  I’m totally looking for an old door to become a headboard.

2) Being inspired to decorate and then searching hopelessly for nightstands and lamps for my bedroom.

3) Picking out my future (read: if we ever own a house) bedroom wall color – partly as a passive resistance to the ever-present orangey-yellow, and partly to help me figure out just what kind and color of nightstands and lamps I’m hopelessly looking for.

4) Family project: Acquiring a double bed for Lia and Amelie, sunning it in between rainstorms, rearranging their room into a much more becoming girlish haven, and now investing lots of time teaching Amelie to go to sleep without climbing out of bed and Lia to go to sleep without riling up Amelie.  Sisterly cuddling warms the heart.

5) Watching movies.  Devo’s been home most of the last two weeks or so and we’ve been taking it real easy.  Favorite movie recently watched?  Made of Honor.

6) Making yummy food, including tostada pizzas and hummus from homecooked garbanzos.  Also including a lot of pasta, burritos, and pbj – perhaps not so yummy, but equally filling.  Very grateful for the Thai feast at Kevin and Hilary’s wedding rehearsal party (wedding is in an hour, I’d better hurry).

7) Doing some cleaning and rearranging of cupboards.  You no longer risk a concussion when getting the medicine off of the top shelf in my closet.  (This was an act of love to my dear husband, who did not care for the danger of reaching for a bandaid.  I, for some reason, was unperturbed by the falling debris and would  just shove it back up.)

8) Developing varicose veins on my leg.  Rawr.  I purse my lips and glare at them whenever I see them.  Luckily it’s winter and I only see them rarely, so minimizing my ire.  I will forever remember my 27th year as the one that brought the first lines around my eyes and varicose veins.  But now I have a/nother legitimate excuse to put my feet up for awhile.  And to take vitamin E.

9) Lia and I have been working on Devo’s birthday present.  (It’s coming up on Thursday).  She knows what it is, and so far has managed to keep the surprise to herself.  Mostly.  We’ll see if she lasts another 5 days.

10) Budgeting and economizing.  We’ve been out to eat only twice this month, and once was for our lovely anniversary.

11) But mostly/mainly/primarily I’ve just been dealing with/struggling against/suffering from what I’m assuming is a Hormonal Storm.  Or a Ridiculously Elongated Crying Jag.  Or an attempt to turn the desert into a lush land. In other words, I’ve been crying alot.

Talk about mounds of tissue!  Mountains would be more accurate.  I have used up almost an entire roll of toilet paper…and not just any roll, an ultra extra fluffy large super Charmin roll.  I have had a perpetually puffy face and stinging, red rimmed eyes.  I have spent a number of hours with my head under my blanket, whilst two girls lift up the covers and poke in offerings of flowers or sprigs of green onion tops. Devo has picked up almost all the slack and invested much time in patting me and listening to my woes…whatever the woes happen to be at the moment.  For they certainly are only momentary, and not real problems.  After crying about something for an hour, you begin to realize if something is really a problem or if YOU’RE really the problem.  <snicker>

But it appears to be over now.  Or, maybe I shouldn’t tempt fate and should amend that to “it appears to be over FOR NOW”.  That is, I haven’t cried for more than 30 seconds for two or three days.  And my new fortitude has been tested by hardships that would have previously sent me to my roll of Charmin.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t been to yoga in over two weeks (it starts up again tomorrow HOORAY!), and only gone for three walks.  Maybe it’s because it’s a boy this time, and everyone knows that boys are more emotional than girls.  Who knows.  But I’m awfully, awfully glad to be feeling more like a human again. A human who can make life changing decisions such as what load of laundry to do today!  A human who can face old food in the refrigerator with Courage and Fortitude!

So, for the new year, I’d like to offer a toast to Less Crying!  Opa! (And a hope that I find those elusive nightstands and lamps.)

China

While helping Lia in the bathroom this weekend.

Lia: Mommy, why do boys pee standing up.

Mommy: You mean pee-pee?

Lia: Yeah, pee-pee.

Mommy: Because they have a penis.

Lia: Why do girls sit down?

Mommy: Because of the positioning of their urinary tract opening?

Lia, informatively: Girls have a China.

<pause>

Mommy: You mean, a vagina.

Lia: Yes, a vagina. That’s so cute. (She thinks for a moment). I want to call it an Indian.

And then there were Five…truly

And then there were truly five. And it is a pregnancy announcement this time! Hooray! (Laura, I had already written this when you commented…that’s so funny, hahaha!)  Yes, I’m serious.  And yes, they were hints.  🙂

I was going to announce it last week when the pregnancy test came back faintly but definit, but I couldn’t find a decent picture of a bun in an oven. And I thought I’d wait a week, just in case. Devo suggested waiting until after the first trimester before making a general announcement, since that is what we did last time. But that was a special post-miscarriage circumstance. So this time we are stepping out in faith and announcing it to our family and friends and beyond into the general blogosphere:

WE’RE HAVING A BABY AND WE’RE SO EXCITED!!!!!

Besides, I told him, I really want to blog about it. How lame would it be skirting around the most important thing happening to me for the next three months? And how many times could I start a post with “I’m so tired all the time” or “I puked again today” before someone caught on? At least now you can humor me and all of my pregnant whims.

No, I’m not going to be a wimp this time, and I will take care not to whine too often. And if I do, I’ll try to temper it with a little cheese.

I have nodded courteously in the direction of the introduction to soon-pervading exhaustion, just to acknowledge it’s presence. I am taking my prenatals courageously, even though they made me sick through my entire pregnancy with Amelie. And I am steadfastly ignoring my pregnant version of hypochondria. I am not nauseous. I am not debilitatingly tired. I am not waddling. I am not starving all the time. I am not getting rounder.

Well, actually, I am getting rounder. Four weeks into it and rounding already. I guess that’s what happens on Round 4. So I’m celebrating by throwing out, burying, or burning all paraphenalia that contains toned, lithe, thin, or hard images. I’m papering my walls with pictures of things that are round. And soft. And possibly swollen, to prepare me for looking at my face in the mirror towards the end of this adventure. This is my future, I will embrace it wholeheartedly.

Approximate due date is April 19. That means that currently I am five and a half weeks along. And my sesame seed baby is sprouting arm and leg buds this week. Already it has a little tiny heart! Incredible!

Lia has been very very cute about it. She’s been telling me for some time that about “when our new baby is born”. The day we found out that I was pregnant, Lia told me a number of times through the day, “Mommy, I’m so glad you are pregnant!” And accompanied it by a little hug or a sweet kiss. Now she talks to me about the baby in her tummy. She tells the baby good morning and good night. It’s so sweet…

Yoga is for Humans

I love looking at people during yoga class.  To see people in their unguarded moments is so revealing.  It’s almost like being given a gift.

My yoga class is full of slightly older women (and one courageous man), most of whom I’ve known at least peripherally for five or more years.  They are all so gracious to me, the pipsqueak of the class, living and letting live, lending me books, admiring my children.

And I, in turn, look at them when they have their eyes closed and see what you can’t see in people sitting stark upright in pews or behind an office desk.  Richness, maturity, struggle, peace…but most of all, it suddenly becomes clear that they are human.  Just like me.

Stepping Heavenward

On the recommendation of several blogs that I visit occasionally, I ordered the book written in the 1800s Stepping Heavenward: One Woman’s Journey to Godliness by Elizabeth Prentiss. And I read it. And taking the risk that this blog might seem like a book review blog, I’m going to review it anyhow. Maybe I should make a new category.

The story is told through a series of journal entries by the heroine, Katy. Now, I have to admit it–Katy drives me nuts. Probably because she’s too much like myself. [wry smile] The irritating parts of myself.

And everybody dies. I realize that it is the 1800s. I realize that Mrs. Prentiss, like Tolstoy, is interested and concerned in how people die…spiritually speaking. But it seems like someone is dying or coughing ominously on every other page. This in and of itself caused me to want to hurry through the book.

The flavor and language of the spirituality is 1800s-ish. Despite that, it is fairly light and enjoyable reading. The story of spiritual growth is all-too familiar and for the most part transcends the more ‘dated’ writing style. I can see that Mrs. Prentiss brought a great deal of liveliness to the idea of a spiritual person that probably was rather uncommon at the time. You can’t help but like Katy for her impulsiveness–something which is blessedly not done away with as she increases in her faith.

And all that being said, there are a number of gems–the very kind that I was led to believe the book contained. I’m always drawn to any help, perspective, and inspiration that helps my life as a mother increase in meaning and usefulness. Here’s a tidbit:

After her third baby was born:

She [her antagonistic live-in sister-in-law, Martha] says I shall now have one mouth the more to fill and two feet the more to shoes, more distrubed nights, more laborious days, and less leisure or visiting, reading, music, and drawing.

Well! This is one side of the story, to be sure, but I look at the other. Here is a sweet, fragrant mouth to kiss; here are two more feet to make music with their pattering about my nursery. Here is a soul to train for God; and the body in which it dwells is worthy all it will cost, since it is the abode of a kingly tenant. I may see less of friends, but I have gained one dearer than them all, to whom, while I minister, in Christ’s name, I make a willing sacrifice of what little leisure for my own recreation my other darlings had left me. Yes, my precious baby, you are welcome to your mother’s heart, welcome to her time, her strength, her health, her tenderest cares, to her lifelong prayers! Oh, how rich I am, how truly, how wondrously blest! (pp. 228-229.)

There now, isn’t that just divine?  I don’t think that I will ever again pick up this book to read just for the joy of it (who knows? maybe I will).  But I can definitely foresee reading it again when I’m struggling with myself, or when I need a clearer picture of my vocation.

The Virtuous Wife, extra task

From an NPR story on Peruvian potatoes:

Arbizu holds up a potato that looks like a bunch of fat purple grapes glued tightly together. A wife-to-be has to pass a test.

“The lady has to show her future parents-in-law that she will be a wife dedicated to her family by peeling successfully this potato,” he says. “It is very difficult to peel it.”

Read/listen/view the whole story.  If you want to see a picture of the potato upon which your whole future life could hinge, click on the audio slideshow and fast forward to the 11th picture.

Inspiration for Mothers (and others)

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Inspiration for mothers (and others) from the root word /spire/.
What we need, what we do, who we are, and who we hope to be…all rolled into one.
acrospire to put forth the first sprout [hahahaha]

aspire be eagerly desirous, especially for something of great or high value

conspire to act or work together toward the same result or goal

inspire to communicate, suggest, guide or control by divine influence;
give rise to, bring about, cause, etc;
to influence or impel;

perspire to sweat, especially when very warm as a result of strenuous exertion

reinspire to inspire anew

respire to breathe

spire to reach up toward the skies in the celestial and hopeful gesture of a spire

suspire to sigh

transpire to be revealed or become known; to occur, happen, take place

[BTW, lest I appear more pious than I truly am, the spire pictured is not a church spire, but can be found atop our local Starbucks…or was it a Barnes & Noble?]

Thanks to Dictionary.com for supplying most of the definitions.