Thursday, December 31, 2009

One Decade at a Time

A whole new decade is starting in just over twelve hours. And, still being in Christmas vacation mode in Tennessee, I haven't given a thought to next week, let alone the next ten years. What have I done in the last ten years?

The year 2000 opened propitiously. I stood downtown in Salt Lake City, and kissed the boy that I'd liked for years, seemingly unrequitedly, until a week previously when we'd finally come together.. Then, mere hours later, he dumped me, because he was best friends with my sister (I didn't understand it then, I still don't understand what all happened now). Whew, good thing that I don't believe in omens, because the year just struggled onward from there. The next day we went to my Grandpa's funeral. A few days after that, I had a severe stomach ache, which I suffered through overnight, when my Mom finally took me to the urgent care clinic. Where I was in so much pain that after the three hour wait time, as a 17 year old girl, mind you, I was rolling around on the floor of the waiting room, crying from the pain. They tested my white blood count, and it had skyrocketed, which with my other symptoms led to a sure thing - Appendicitis. I spent four days in the hospital from an infection, too.

Two months later, I was skipping backwards down a hill (yes, I know that was stupid. Now.) and I fell and broke my wrist, and had my second, and last, surgery of my life.

After that, I am happy to report the decade improved considerably.

2001 I graduated from High School, and went to BYU, majoring in Near Eastern Studies. I joined the Quill and the Sword, a Medieval Re-enactment club. All of this was very exciting. I loved the spiritual atmosphere of BYU and my own parallel spiritual growth of my first year as an independent adult. I also began a relationship with another freshman, which although did not end in marriage had a long term positive influence in my life.

2002 I became president of the Quill and the Sword, as a sophomore. I was terrified, but also intrigued. I gained my best friend, Michele, who was the secretary in the presidency, and who also worked at the Cannon Center with me. I dropped my here-to-fore double major, Comparative Literature, because I realized that as much as I liked to read Literature, I did not want to spend my life in Literature classes.

2003 I started out this year by having a flash relationship and engagement. I spent months of doubt and indecision after dear johning my missionary (what the freshman relationship had turned into), and eventually I broke off the engagement four and a half weeks before the wedding. After trailing dismally on, the relationship itself ended a month later. This was all in the first six months of the year, after which I'm happy to say the year evened out considerably. I am sure for many people a quick dating stage works fine. For me it didn't. In the fall of the year, I began my golden Junior year of College. It was my best year of the four I attended school, with a great group of friends and an established academic trajectory (good grades, but nothing so good as to interfere with any potential romance or social life). I spent one night a week, as I had since my freshman year, and would continue on until I graduated, at Cooking Guild, a subsidiary of the Medieval Club. It was my major social event of the week, where a bunch of friends got together and made medieval food together. Yummy!

2004 This was a landmark year, although I didn't know it to start out with. I met Avram in January at a Club meeting. We became fast friends. Then in March I decided to go on an Arabic study abroad to Egypt that fall. Two months later, Avram and I began dating, and spent the whole Summer in a somewhat rocky relationship, since the aforementioned missionary was coming home that August. Missionary came home, Avram and I broke up (as agreed before we ever even started dating), everything was honky dory with the Returned Missionary (hereafter referred to as RM), and I went off to Egypt planning to marry the RM sometime in 2005, although we were not engaged. Three weeks later, I wrote Avram and told him that I wanted to marry him instead. After much issues, Avram and I became engaged long distance - something I always swore I would never do. (The RM nicely recovered, and got married to someone else only four months after Avram and I married). We had a rocky long distance relationship, mostly just because it's hard to communicate across continents.

2005 Avram and I finally ceased to have a rocky relationship and ensued on our current wonderful relationship, and we got happily married in the Salt Lake Temple on April 22, 2005, which is also Earth Day. That's how much we care about the environment. For most people, I would not say that a difficult dating and engagement lead to a great marriage, but it worked very well for us. I also finished most of my college education by our wedding, with only a measly 3 1/2 credits left to go - which I finished that summer and fall, and achieved a B.A. by the end of 2005. I also got pregnant soon after our wedding, which we were ecstatic about, and spent much of the summer on the couch, sick with Lydia. That was when we weren't working full time together at DT as Window Washers, where our motto was, "Probably you won't die." We spent vast hours in conversation together, getting to know each other as newlyweds and also as work partners. When I wasn't losing my breakfast. By the fall I recovered, and we had lots of fun with our first Autumn and Christmas together.

2006 Lydia was born on March 2, forever changing our family, my job description and world. I spent a lot of time with the "Madonna Complex" as Avram calls it, where you stare lovingly at your child to the exclusion of all else. Lydia was a demanding child, needing lots of holding, and refusing to sleep well (she never did sleep well until about age two or so). But she was also darling, with lots of smiles, and an enchanting personality. Avram meanwhile continued working on his undergraduate degree in Ancient Near Eastern Studies, and we continued living in Wymount, the married student housing of BYU. We loved Wymount, and living near the mountains, not to mention all of our family walks in Provo - which were still far fewer walks than Avram and I had been wont to take during our dating years. We loved Provo. I still love it, sniff, sniff. I loved that I could walk to the Library, which was a huge old building near downtown, that had been one of the original buildings of BYU. I loved going to Center Street, to the cramped yet still sprawling used bookstore where a mysterious seven foot tall (so he looked to me) man would buy our books for store credit, and prowl through the stacks as king of his domain. I loved the restaurants - Bombay House, and Lon's Cook 'n Shack, and Burger Supreme with the best fries ever. And Two Jacks, which wasn't technically in Provo, but just a short drive away in Springville and had the best pizza ever (Provo apparently has the domain on best things ever). I love that I saw it all through the rose coloured glasses of youth and I know that, but that I still love it as much as ever. I loved my college friends from Provo - Michele, and Travis, and Matt & Sarah, and Samuel (who was also my brother in law), and my Club roommates over the years. My college years, extended to six years because of Avram, were great.

2007 But it had to end sometime, and in April of this year Avram graduated with his B.A. I also had a miscarriage, which was sad, but I was comforted by the thought of having more children in the future. I started a blog, shortly before we left Provo to keep in touch with family and friends. You may have heard of it before. We prepared to go to England for a one year Master's degree at the University of Oxford for Avram, and with this end in sight we moved in with Avram's parents in Virginia for the summer. Avram went back and worked at the restaurant he'd worked at all through his teenage years, and I even took a job there part time, while Avram's family watched Lydia. Lydia charmed our hearts, as all first children have a job of doing. Despite the cruel heat and humidity of Virginia, we enjoyed our ward there, and the generosity of his family in taking us in. Shortly before we left, we suspected I was pregnant, but never did get around to taking a pregnancy test, since I started feeling sick and it was fairly self evident. So we moved to a foreign country with our little family of three, going on four. I started feeling old a little bit when I turned 25 that October. We went through lots of changes in life, but also spent a lot of time with our own little America inside of our apartment. The year ended out with Matt & Sarah visiting us, a bonus excitement, and a unique Christmas eve dinner spent at an Indian Restaurant, where Matt had the hottest vindaloo he had ever eaten. We also visited Churchill's grave. We loved our ward in England (you're going to see a trend here - we've never moved to a ward we haven't loved in our marriage), and how loving and helpful they all were to us.

2008 Another year of Change for our family (what year hasn't been in this decade?) Lydia learned her whole alphabet - to recognize it written, not just knowing the alphabet song - before her second birthday in March, not that this portended any super genius skills on her part. But as first time parents it made us feel special. My Mom and Step dad Don came and visited us around the same time, and we went on a visit to France. Lydia was a trooper of a tourist, and Avram and I enjoyed meeting the lovely French people who helped us out at every turn they could. We also liked seeing Nicolas Sarkozy from a distance of twenty feet, and exploring the random niches of the Louvre. We didn't like the endless sandwich shops, and missed the hearty meat pies and bangers and mash in England, that really stick to your ribs when it's freezing outside. We did more sight seeing in the one week in France than we did in the rest of the nine months in England, but we did get to know the English area of Oxford. Well, the daily areas we visited at least, plus our little town of Yarnton four miles north of Oxford, where we lived in the top flat of a divided Vicar's house that was 350 years old, situated on Yarnton Manor, built in the 1600s and home of some of the Spencer ancestors of Princess Diana. This was all as picturesque as it sounds, but also very isolating. Avram realized that he wasn't built for expat living, but we still plan on going back for our 15 year anniversary for a two week touristy vacation where we actually see England.

Meanwhile, Avram got into OSU with a fellowship (well, all good things must come to an end. Which in a short update, there are 60 people signed up for the class currently, so this means very good things for next quarter.), and we prepared to move to the land of Ohio. Also, on April 28, Elisheva entered our lives, born in Oxford through wonderful midwives. Elisheva had dark brunette hair, a contrast to Lydia's blond bob, and a reddish complexion. She was such a calm baby, that in her early months she earned the nickname, "Lump." We moved back to Virginia, where we sojourned for another couple of months before moving to Ohio. Avram began a Ph.d. program in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. We decided to never move again.

2009 The last year of the decade opens. I started out the decade in High School in Wisconsin, and it ends with me back in the Midwest in Ohio. Our married lives settle down for the first time since Provo, as we spend an entire calendar year not moving. Somehow I never do manage to accomplish as much as I think I will, though. Elisheva turns into an active toddler, with chubby cheeks and a killer smile. Lydia turns three and eventually potty trains at about three and a half. My life begins to be defined by my children, instead of the beginning of the decade, when it was defined by my boyfriends. I visit Utah twice this year, for the first time since we left. I love seeing family and friends. This fall I got pregnant with our third, and try and convince myself I'm not terrified of managing more children than hands I've got. Not that I struggle with managing my hands per se. After the morning sickness subsides, the terror does also, and now we're just excited for the (boy? I think?) on the way (if it's a girl, we're still just as excited).

And now I'm facing a whole new decade. The last one involved kissing six boys. Maybe the next decade will involve kissing six of my children. (well, I've got two and a half down already). Avram and I have been married for four and a half years - we'll have been married for almost 15 years. He was my best friend in 2004, and he's still my best friend now. He even lets me tell him my dreams every morning when I wake up, and always turns out lights for me, even though he's scared of the dark, just like I am. Ten years from now maybe I'll have worn him down enough that he'll even tell me his dreams.

I lived in four states and England and Egypt. I visited three more countries in addition to that - Jordan, Syria, and France (well, the train did cut through Belgium, but I never got out, so I didn't count it.) I hope the next decade doesn't involve so much moving, but you never can tell. In ten years I'll be 37. Avram will have his Ph.d. - in four years or so, and God willing he'll have a tenure track position (maybe even be tenured?) by 2020. I would like to get back to the foreign countries we've already visited, and add Israel to the list as well. I also dream of moving back to Provo permanently, but that all depends on BYU having the right opening, and Avram being the right person to fill it.

I spent the first half of the decade spending all my time worrying and thinking about myself, and feeling like I had the potentiality to do anything in the world. Now I spend all my time in my own life familial world, with Avram, Lydia and Elisheva. I don't even leave the house for days at a time, and sometimes I feel like the world beyond has no interaction with me. But at the same time, I also know that what I've spent the last five years doing has held far more lasting importance than anything I did in college, as fun as it was. And have you ever felt a child's arm's around you, and known that they love you more than anything else in the world?

So yes, it's been a very good decade indeed.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

No time to think of a title, must go and assemble Cheese Ball

I really ought to be getting ready for a Christmas party we're having here in five hours. (In case anyone is reading it and didn't get invited, it's nothing personal, and only related to the size of our living room) The one at our house - you know, the house that needs to be cleaned. Within five hours. Oh, it's nothing drastic, but we should have done it yesterday, and somehow yesterday morning there was a burning need in our combined foursome of a nuclear family to spend quality time together playing free demos of Peggle and Bookworm Adventures 2. And then yesterday afternoon I was called to teach today's Relief Society lesson - which went well, thanks to the wonderful participation of the sisters I was teaching - and so I had to read the lesson. And then take a nap, because we all know how sacrosanct my naps are at this point in my life.

Then there was only time to get the family ready to go grocery shopping, run from the grocery store to a baptism at the Church, and immediately afterward segue-way from a baptism to our Ward Christmas Party. Getting home, and getting the girls to bed two hours late left no room for an evening sprucing.

Which brings us to today. To now. But I'm really on the computer for a legitimate reason - it was to get a recipe for the cheese ball I'm making. But recipezaar didn't have the specific type recipe I wanted, based on the ingredients I already have in my fridge, so I'm just going to fudge it anyway. There went my legitimate reason.

Oh, and did I mention that Avram was home for twenty minutes after church before he had to leave for Hometeaching, and that his companion is barely 16 and sans drivers license (it's those 50 hours of driving experience. He could drive me to Utah and back before he had enough hours to get a license), so Avram drove to the other end of the ward to pick him up, then back to our end for the appointment, then they're going to pick us all up in a half hour from now, when we go and drop the companion off, and then go to the ward building for Tithing Settlement.

Hmm, maybe we can just have the Christmas party outside. In the freezing rain.

At least we had a moment of inspiration in the Grocery Store. We had planned to make a Buche de Noel, or in English a cake roll made to look like the Yule Log, which is a tradition I inherited from my mother, who served her mission in Belgium and France. Then, we walked passed the frozed eclairs and cream puffs, and I had an epiphany that we could just buy the food, and avoid hours of cooking. Hallelujah, although I do love homemade food when I have time to prepare it. And instead of bringing my visiting teachee the homemade bread and pie I had previously promised to bring for her when I go to her house tomorrow morning for her birthday , I'm just going to bring her the left over cream puffs and eclairs (I already passed this by her), and so it saves us double cooking.

Just to be very clear, I am not attempting to complain about nor do I dislike a Christmas Party that we planned ourselves, nor do I dislike hometeaching or Tithing Settlements. I only dislike having to clean my house, and Sundays that somehow combine all of the above into one united day of business. And this is the first stressful even somewhat Christmas related activity we've done - we're going for the so-low-key-we-don't-ever-leave-the-house Christmas celebrating this year.

Oh, dear. Now I only have twenty minutes to make up the recipe for the Cheese Ball. Wish me (and the Ball) luck!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

More Silver Linings

We just checked Avram's student account, and it looks like being a T.A. gives him a half tuition waiver (good thing someone actually told us about this....), which is exciting. Getting a half tuition waiver could be better than getting a full stipend, if it has to come in between the two. And if he can become a citizen of Ohio, then his tuition will only be $1250 or so, which is definitely less than the $8000 worst case scenario we were facing up until now.

Plus we had schnitzel and spaetzel and rote kole for dinner, which is just German for chicken fried pork steaks (really, really good, with lots of lemon juice over them), and special German noodles and braised sweet/sour red cabbage, and life is always more positive with yummy food.

Also, Avram is now 100% done with finals - he turned in his grades for the class he taught this evening. I helped tabulate up the grades with him, since I love things like adding up numbers on a ten key, and making lists of people. I have the heart of a secretary - I was one for two years in college, and I loved it. My dream job is to be the secretary/receptionist of Avram's department someday, and then I could work around people doing Near Eastern Things while I get to file papers and chat with students and keep a small jar of candy on my desk for people to eat.

I was amazed this evening how often a grade would turn on just a few points, just a few questions answered right or wrong, just a couple of classes (and hence quizzes) missed. Suddenly I felt I understood all those non A grades I got, that were A- or B+ where I felt I had done better than my grade showed. Lesson learned: go to class. And always do the extra credit.

Tap, Tap, "Is This Thing Still On?"

Hi, remember me? I used to have a blog? Everything is okay here - I'm feeling better and actually attempting to be productive with my days - plus take naps every afternoon. One must have ones priorities in order, after all. We survived the drive to Maine and back, and are now gearing up for our trip to Kansas and then on to Tennessee (yes, I know that's more backtracking than 'on to,' but whatever) for Christmas. We leave in a week and a half - we're practically nomadic. Let's just hope our almost ten year old car with 137,000 miles feels really nomadic too.

I'm really going to write a real post someday. When I don't have Elisheva in my lap. And laundry to fold. And when I can correlate my thoughts in to cogent sentances that form topical paragraphs. So...maybe when I'm forty. No, I really do want to blog again soon - I have lots of blog posts that never get written, but then I mentally dictate out while showering, or driving, or falling asleep. If I could find a way to directly import these into my computer, while bypassing the whole physical typing business (or even sitting at the computer and having it on), I would be a millionaire. I'd also have a blog that doesn't have a picture heading that's a whole season behind the times.

Some quick stories/updates. Avram is almost done with his finals - he's finishing his second take home final downstairs as I write. Then he just has to grade the finals for the class he taught, and he's all done with this quarter. We've been having some difficult times with his funding. He has had full funding thus far (which for those not neck deep in academia, means that he has a tuition waiver, subsidized health insurance and fees, and a monthly stipend which along with my baby sitting covers our budget nicely.) and because of the fellowship he received his first year, which strongly encourages his department to give full funding for a full five years, we were not really worried about his funding for the long term either.

But then the stock market crashed, and the recession started (hey, the recession is over - did you know that? I know lots of people that know that, but they all live in NPR land.), and Avram and I figure the old department secretary, who left after that year, must have taken all the department's funds and either invested them all in the stock market a week before the crash or ran to Vegas, and at least got free cocktails while she lost all the money. Regardless of where the money went, after the recession his department went dead broke. Avram went from having a sure class he would be teaching for this whole year to not having anything at all. The department voted to not have any more classes than had been taught the previous year, nor to increase the number of student teachers at all. Avram's wonderful advisor managed to dig up a teaching job for Avram this fall, but all he could get for the winter was as a T.A. for a class the advisor is teaching.

We are grateful for anything, but it is sad to go from full funding to not much funding at all. This T.A. job doesn't give a tuition waiver, and although it does subsidize health insurance and fees, its stipend is half what Avram receives now. And Avram is currently an out of state citizen, and unless they let him become an Ohio citizen (we are filling out the paperwork currently), then he'll have to pay $8,000 tuition for next quarter, which is three months long. As a citizen he would pay $2,500.

Oh, and as of now the Department has absolutely nothing for Avram, or anyone else, for Spring Quarter.

We've worked so hard this last year to pay off student loan debt, and have really done quite well. It's so discouraging to think that in one fell swoop, if Avram can't get in state tuition, we'll lose at least half of what we've paid off. It's like we've been digging ourselves out of debt with a shovel, and along comes a backhoe that can cover us under in five minutes or less. I know that he's still a student, and many people don't pay off student loans at all while being students, but I don't want to be many people - I want to be debt free.

I think between his Nibley Fellowship (thank you Neal A. Maxwell Institute! We love you!) and our tax refund we won't need to go into debt at all if he can get in state tuition, and if Spring funding works out, so that's what I'm praying for now. There is one possible catch - if 60 students don't sign up for the course, he won't even have the T.A. position. When last checked, there were 58 registered.

It's funny - when we decided to have another kid, his funding was looking pretty bright. Now I feel almost irresponsible having another child when we have such financial difficulties, but I suppose that one can never know the future perfectly. And in the long run we'll have enough money. I hope.

It is nice that the largest trials Avram and I have had since marriage have been financial, because really, finances are not ultimately that important. Sure, we need to be good stewards of what the Lord has given us, but no one was ever kept out of the Celestial Kingdom because of student loans (obviously this is doctrine according to Thora, and not in any way an official LDS position).

Someday Avram will graduate, and then he'll get a job, and even if, God forbid, he does not get an Academic position, he'll still make more than he does now, and he can always fall back on his Arabic and get a job with the government. And then we'll pay off all our debt, and we won't look white trash, and it will all be okay. Plus, there is a silver lining, because we just found out that forty credits from Avram's master's degree in England transferred, which means that he'll be done with coursework a lot sooner, which means he'll graduate sooner, which under all the circumstances is very exciting indeed.

Hmm, maybe I never blog because this has all been unfolding recently, and has clearly been at the top of my mind, and starting writing caused it to all spill out onto the page. In summary, though, we're doing okay, and Lydia and Elisheva have so many relatives who are starved to give presents to small girls that they won't know what to do with themselves and all their Christmas presents, and thank goodness for lots of free money coming to us via BYU and the government, because then we shouldn't need to go into more debt.

So if you feel inclined to pray for us, pray that two more students, at least, sign up for the class Avram needs to T.A., and that we get full funding for the Spring (and the rest of our lives, while you're at it).

Back to the regularly scheduled blog - updates to our lives. That was Avram (plus Thora's anxieties).

As for me, I'm twelve weeks along, and have my first midwife appointment tomorrow. It's with the only group my insurance covers, and I'm not too excited about it, but maybe I'll like them after all. I'm wearing my first all-maternity clothes outfit today, not because I look pregnant, but because my regular pants don't fit very well, and if I'm wearing maternity pants it's hard to not wear a maternity shirt, so it's long enough to cover the stretchy fabric.

Lydia is still obsessed with princesses. She spends the better part of every day wearing dress up clothing, which is usually pink. Lydia is convinced we're having a girl, so we can have three girls. (I think we're having a boy, just because the morning sickness was so different). Elisheva is obsessed mainly with Cheerios, and eats about three bowls full every morning. She also is saying more words, but usually just echoing you. She also loves to go places, and often brings you her shoes or coat so we can go on a trip.

And that's the family. If I follow recent trends, you won't hear from me again until the next decade, but I hope to be better at recording, so maybe you will.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Not Feeling Verbose.

We're going to Maine for Thanksgiving. Avram has a brother in school there.

We're better from our death colds that lasted two and a half weeks.

I'm not feeling morning sick anymore, although still rather short on energy, with unpredictable blood sugar levels. I'm only ten weeks along - so I don't understand (and yet am still very grateful for) why the early reprieve. Maybe I'm further along than I think I am.

Most days consist of eating every hour or two (thank goodness for cheerios), lying on the couch a lot, and slowly puttering around trying to clean. Plus babysitting half the time. Not much to talk about.

Lydia dictated a letter to Santa Clause. It started, "Give me candy, give me toys." She sure knew what she wanted. Lydia is also learning her numbers (years behind learning her letters). This is what she says of some of them: 5 is like an S. 6 has a babushka on its head. 7 also has a babushka on its head. 8 is two circles and looks like a B. 9 is like a P, and has a babushka on its bottom. I have a feeling this girl is not going to be a mathematician. We call Lydia when she puts scarves on her head (which she loves to do) a babushka. I have yet to determine exactly what this has to do with the numbers 6, 7, or 9.

Just to clear something up from the last post - I don't actually want or intend to do an unassisted (or just Avram assisted) home birth.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

A Mother's Rantings

Avram and I are trying to figure out where to go for Maternity care for our baby. I love having midwives, and that's what I used both with Lydia and Elisheva. Actually, I just love England's approach to childbirth. Everyone has midwives, unless you have a high risk pregnancy, and the whole country approaches childbirth as a natural experience, that is not a sickness. Of course, I do not mean natural here as in they don't let you have an epidural if you want it, since pain medication is totally up to you, but rather that it is not a disease to be treated. And they are very supportive of natural births, and are not pushy at all about many things.

Imagine yourself in America, in an American hospital, while I describe this. So, I needed to have an antibiotic administered to me every four hours while in labor with Elisheva, or after my water broke. So after my water broke at five am one Monday morning in England, we went to the hospital and got there at eight am. It was a busy day, and so I was lowest priority, so they never got around to giving me my first dose of antibiotic until noon. But meanwhile they did bring Avram and I lots of toast and jam, and offered us tea as well. After the first dose of antibiotic (intravenously, but I had a heperin lock, and also the needle used was a thin one, not the same iv mark I would need at all for getting a fluids IV, which are so standard in the States. ) No one mentioned induction to me. No one was worried in the slightest that my water had broken and I hadn't gone into labor yet. So after my dose, they assigned me a bed up in a room they kept for women who had pregnancy complications and so were in the hospital before birth (seemed like mostly for multiple births). Then Avram and I were free to walk wherever we wanted to in the hospital, I could eat whatever I wanted to, and we were as free as larks - except I did have to stay inside the hospital itself since I had the hep lock.

Then, after dinner at seven pm, no one had still mentioned induction. No one had given me a time limit on how long I could go with my water broken before having a mandatory c section. It was the very absence of a stressful situation. And I did go into labor around seven, and I did have Elisheva two hours later. And I had her while kneeling (on a yoga mat) on the floor. And my Midwife, who had an apprentice with her, thanked me for having a natural birth, and not giving birth lying in bed. She was grateful to me, so that she could show her apprentice a natual birth done well. During this time, they did intermittent monitering, but it was a hand held device that the midwife used - no being strapped to anything, including a bed moniter (which did happen with Lydia, and they forgot I was still strapped to it when I started pushing, and I couldn't move, and it was bad. Until Avram figured out what was happening.)

Now, in America. I would have shown up at the hospital, and they would have strapped a ton of gear on me, and probably done internal monitering too. Then they would have induced me. And given me a time limit on how long I could go with my water broken before I needed a c-section. And I would have given birth probably on my back, if I'd had a doctor (my midwife with Lydia did let me kneel, but told me afterwards that I should be grateful that I had a midwife, because a doctor never would have let me give birth in that position - note that it's me who's supposed to be grateful in the States, not the other way around).

I feel like America is stuck in the dark ages as far as it goes for Childbirth. I want to have all my children in England. Luckily I have short enough labors that they don't have much time to harass me, but that's another problem. Because the only midwife group at all that is covered by my insurance I do not like. They have an 18 % c-section rate, which is rediculous since Midwives only can take low risk patients. They are with a group of doctors, which is fine, but then since they cover three hospitals, only one of which I can go to because of my insurance, if the midwife on duty is at on of the other two hospitals, they'll call a doctor to come and deliver me. My labor with Elisheva on the official records - when the hospital decided I was in labor - only took an hour and fourteen minutes. There is no way unless a medical personnel is already there that I'll even be delivered by their docter. Which means some haphazard nurse will deliver my poor baby. And I'll probably still have to pay the stupid doctor anyway.

And I was talking to someone training to be a nurse this last week, and she was saying that in her experience with the labor floor, that the nurses really push for epidurals, because they don't want to have to deal with natural labors. Great. And my hospital, the OSU hospital, is a huge one, with lots of specialized care. Which also means they'll have lots of routines. Smaller hospitals are much more willing to work with individual wants. That's why when I had Lydia in Utah I didn't pick the main Provo hospital, but a smaller one in Orem that was very friendly to birthing. My nurse was even a hypno-birthing instructor, which I had not done, but she did help me with laboring a lot. (Plus she turned out to be my second cousin once removed, or something. Welcome to Utah).

It's enough to make me just want to have a homebirth with a midwife, but that's another $1500 extra than what it would be to have a baby on insurance. And my labors are short enough that I'm currently just planning to grit my teeth and bear it, to save the money (which we don't have to spend anyway).

I'm quite riled up with the Medical maternity situation in Ohio. I feel like Bones in the Star Trek movie where they go back in time to a hospital in the 1980s - where he keeps on making comments about the Dark Ages, and the Spanish Inquisition. That's what I'm stuck in, here. The Dark Ages.

I've half joked with Avram that if we dawdle when I go into labor we can just have the baby here, and he can deliver it. Both Avram and his brother were born at home because they came so quickly. But I don't really want to have that kind of birth, besides which I'd still have to go to the hospital afterwards, anyway.

It's not fair. If we are supposed to have such great Gender equality and all that jazz, and have such advanced Women's Stuff, how come we treat birth so awfully? It's demeaning to me to have to go through the American Medical System. I'm not against pain medication, nor doctors, nor large, specialized hospitals. England managed to have all of these, but also had managed to keep the humanity of childbearing. I wish it was because of their National Health System (ie, Socialized Health System), but that's too much to ask for. I'm sure if America had Socialized Health, it wouldn't solve this, just standardize it further.

I don't have anything profound to say at the end of this besides, "Grump. Grump. Grump."

Saturday, November 7, 2009

How to Tell if You've Been Sitting On the Couch For Far too long watching the Second Season of Star Trek

A couple of nights ago, I dreampt that I was in love with Spock. Yes, Spock, the one with no emotions. Data is my favorite Next Generation, so apparently I have a thing for guys who come across as robots (or are one). I was trying to find a way to get him to admit that it would be logical to love and marry me, but I had not been successful, although I knew that secretly Spock was full of all sorts of rampant feelings for me.

So I went to his mother Amanda, and convinced her that it would be logical for him to marry a human, so he could get in touch with his human side. And based on the Pon-far episode (which apparently I checked for complete logic while in my sleep), we do know that Vulcans can have arranged marriages. So she agreed with me, and arranged the marriage, and voila! I knew that Spock, the spouting computer, was all mine.

Then I kept watching some more episodes, in the days since this dream, and I've been wondering to myself why I would actually want to marry a man who cannot accept emotional reasons for actions. Could you imagine Spock taking care of a morning sick woman, because she simply doesn't feel well? Could you imagine Spock trying to reason with a three year old, and even worse an 18 month old?

Lesson learned: Spock and other TV men might be great to dream about, but I'm glad I'm married to Avram. Even if he doesn't have pointy ears.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

I will Survive

I think I'm going to survive. This morning I washed a whole rack of dishes, and then I folded (almost) a load of laundry. And now I'm getting ready to take Lydia to playschool, and go grocery shopping. My stomach doesn't feel top notch, but it also doesn't have a death wish with my name on it. Maybe I will get through this whole pregnancy thing after all. Maybe we can someday have more than three kids (because lately Avram and I have decided that we're too wimpy to do any more, even though we've always maintained previously we wanted a large family). Also, maybe I'll eventually get over this cold - does anyone have any great natural cold remedies? Especially cold prevention remedies - I have been getting colds monthly for a long time now, and I don't know why I am so lame. I used to almost never get colds. And now I can't take my best friend, sudafed, so I really need something to combat them.

On a happier note, I've decided to finally post our Halloween pictures, which for us are two weeks old, because all we did for Halloween was go to our Ward's Trunk or Treat and party. I'm not against trick or treating at all - in fact, my friend posted this article, and I love it. Go and read it now. I have always thought that no one had ever been poisoned by trick or treating, and that we're just too paranoid today. I love being right. We just didn't get to it, because Avram was helping a family move, and there was no way, feeling sick, that I was going to take the girl's by myself.

Avram's mom sewed the girls princess dresses, and Avram was Prince Philip, while I was...a queen. Or maybe a wicked step mother.
I like Halloweens when we have homesewn costumes, and I didn't do anything for it. Let's be honest, I've never sewn a Halloween costume in my life - my family was always more of the scrounge around, and put together random stuff sort of people.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Thanks for Listening

Remember when I said I foresaw a larger return to blogging now that Avram is back in school? That was before I got pregnant. Now I only foresee possibly, perhaps, surviving through to mid December (my 12 week mark). Normally I try not to be a downer on the Internet - I figure that the world has enough depressing news, and really doesn't need to know how messy my house is to just make everyone collapse in crying heaps of lost humanity.

But, you can go find yourself a heap of lost humanity and box of kleenex, because my house is really messy. So messy, I wouldn't even take a picture of my bedroom and let my own sisters see it. We're down to the wash a dish as you need it approach to living. Where's Avram in all this? Well, he's taking care of his wife and two daughters, all of whom came down with terrible colds on Friday. And he's doing all of the cooking for all three meals every day, because even the thought of food makes me feel yucky - at any time, day or night. And he's helping me babysit. And he's grading his midterms he administered for his class he's teaching. While at the same time taking two take-home midterms of his own.

When I was pregnant with Lydia, I was classically morning sick. I threw up every morning, once or twice, and I was nauseaus all morning long. Then by lunchtime, I could eat just fine, and the rest of the day I was quite stable. With Elisheva I was nauseaus during the daytime, until around three or so, but I never threw up except twice the whole pregnancy. With this baby, I'm not nauseaus as in I feel like I'm going to hurl. I just feel sick. All of the time, day and night. Food sound yucky to me. I'm so dehydrated that last night while watching a movie where they drank some water out of a dipper, I almost started crying I wanted it so bad. But then everytime I do drink water, I feel so sick and upset stomachy that I've unintentionally gone on strike. I tried crystal light. I tried juice (I can do apple juice, but we ran out of it). Milk I could do, but with this cold I can only handle it in cereal. Last night Avram got me a cup of water, and had me take one sip every couple of minutes. Over a half hour, I managed to get down a whole cup of water, and not feel yuckier than normal.

I am grateful I'm not throwing up all of the time. But I never realized how refreshing having time off every day where I don't feel sick was until now. Now I feel like myself and hence my family are in pure survival mode. "Seven and a half weeks" that's my mantra. Only five weeks left of this.

On the positive side, I finally weaned Elisheva. I had wanted to before I got pregnant, but planned to do it over Christmas break, when Avram had time to help her if she needed extra care and attention. Then, with not being able to keep even myself and fetus in enough liquid, I knew that I couldn't keep nursing Elisheva, even just the little bit that I still did. Two mornings ago, she nursed like normal. And then, via a miracle of God, she hasn't nursed since. I haven't offered, and she hasn't tried, and just like that she's weaned. Although I was ready to be done with nursing her before - not because I have anything against kids over a year old nursing. I nursed until I was two and a half, and supposedly they've done studies and children who are nursed until they're over two are smarter, or something. My mother was very La Leche League, and all that. Just with Elisheva I knew we were planning on having a kid soon, and wanted my own body back for a while, completely mine. That didn't happen. And I although I am very glad and relieved that she stopped cold turkey, I do find myself feeling sentimental and a little poignant. I love the nursing relationship, the closeness you feel to your baby. I love that it can not only nourish them physically, but also comfort them when sad or hurt, and calm them from nightmares in the middle of the night.

Now that Elisheva is weaned, she seems so old to me, such a big girl. She turned 18 months this last week.

I realize reading this whole post you might think that we don't want another baby. We do - this was not an accidental pregnancy (although we did go to the temple at the end of August and decided to stop waiting....and one month later I was pregnant. I expected several months would pass.) And I was the third child, so I know what charmers they can be. But I've babysat extra children since Lydia was a baby, and I also know how hard it is when you have three or four young children to take care of. Even after part-time babysitting James, who's now 10 months old, since he was six weeks old, I still shy away from going places with all three children. It's such a chore. Everyone always says that the third child is the hardest, because then you run out of hands. And I'm scared of that. Of feeling overwhelmed. I already feel overwhelmed in anticipation of feeling overwhelmed, as senseless as that is. Plus I look at our girls, and I ask myself, "How can anyone add to me and my girls? Won't I just have to divide my love up?" Although I know this is a logical fallacy. I couldn't imagine having more than just Lydia until Elisheva actually came. There were a couple of weeks of emotional and physical adjustmant to our home and hearts, but now I cannot imagine not having Elisheva in our lives. I find that when I think of times before she was born, I almost insert her into the memories because she is such a core member of our family, I truly cannot imagine how we were a family until she came along.

To sum up: we're ok. Really. I just like to complain - thanks for listening.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sing it with me, now.... (to the tune of "There Was an Old Lady")

There was a young Mama who lay on the couch

She lay on the couch to settle her stomach

From eating the food that went with the water

She drank with the pill

The pill that she swallowed to nourish the baby

That wriggled and tickled and jiggled inside her.

Perhaps she'll cry.

P.S. We are thrilled. If thrilled means lying in bed composing bad parodies of songs while my stomach revolts.

P.P.S. Due June 17, 2010

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Haphazard Family Fun Day

This was going to be a funny post. But after having the pictures already uploaded (out of order) for over a week, I think I'll settle for just a finished post. We went pumpkin picking on Friday - with the whole family. It was going to be a perfect Autumnal Family Outing, with crisp air, and a hay ride pulled by a tractor, complete with cute pumpkins. We arrived later than we had planned because we received an email that the mom's group we were going with was having a flux of people at nine thirty, so to come later. It turns out that Ten thirty was a little too much later - we drove up to see the tractor driving off with the last Mom's group hay ride. No matter, I determined to wait until the next time around, when surely more moms would have arrived. Except none came. And we got out first, and Lydia walked through some wet grass/mud, since it had rained for most of the week. And then Lydia took off her shoes, because they were wet and muddy. So she's standing there in the cold wailing, and wanting to be carried. At this point we made a break back to the car, to wait there.You can see from Elisheva's expression how we were all feeling at that point.

Finally we determined to forego the hayride, and just walk over to the nearby pumpkin field, and pick what we could there. We carried Lydia to the field, but then let her go, muddy socks and all.
Lydia could not pick what pumpkin she wanted. She told us we was looking for the perfect pumpkin, and personally wandered over the entire field searching for it. Finally, after Elisheva had falled down in the mud, gotten stuck in some other mud, and I had fallen down as well, Avram picked Lydia's pumpkin for her.

We picked out a family pumpkin and an Elisheva pumpkin as well, and then hobbled back to the main area, where I tried to pretend we were a cute all-American family, and not cold and muddy. Speaking of not being cute, why did I think a garish pink flowered jacket was a good idea - where were our picturesque Autumnal sweaters? (That we don't own?)

Oh, I forgot to mention that Lydia had a runny nose, too. We had planned to go home after this, but it was such a let down of an experience (hey, last year, when I went with just the girls, was perfect) that we decided to go to Culver's, our favorite hamburger place, and pop over to the Zoo, which was by the Pumpkin Farm and Culver's.

Notice the stylish mud I'm sporting to the zoo.
We found some clean sock's in the car, and then bundled the girls up with whatever random things we could find in the car as well (hooray for never cleaning out the car), so they would stay warm, since it was really quite cold. The zoo was not what you would call busy.
Which we enjoyed just fine. We only went to the indoor exhibits, the highlight of which was the aquarium. This was the first time being there that Elisheva really got into the fish. She loved it, and kept exlaiming, "Wow! Wow!"

So the haphazard family fun day was turned around, into a truly fun day. Even though we did fill our mud quota for the year.

Friday, October 16, 2009

In Which I Revel in Medieval Intellectual Awakenings

Avram and I have maintained for years that we prefer experiences to accruing physical belongings or gifts. Having said that, we have also struggled to live up to this ideal. Countless times I have put off going to Kirtland, only a two and a half hour drive, because of timing, or money (we want to spend the night), or whatnot, but I've spent the amount of money again and again on random things at home, and I've definitely put in my fair share of Saturdays reading blogs and taking naps. Perhaps because we are a materialistic society, perhaps because collecting stuff is so much easier than doing activities, but I have noticed that as Americans we spend most of our lives building up belongings, and not necessarily memories.

A week ago Avram through his university was informed of an Early Music concert series here in Columbus; early music meaning medieval and renaissance. We had discussed getting an "experience" instead physical gifts for ourselves for Christmas, but had not found anything to tempt us both, until this appeared. When we found that the first of the six concerts was to by the Anonymous 4, a group I already knew and liked, in a fit of excitement we mailed out our subscription for all six concerts that very day. Avram getting student prices at half cost sweetened the deal a lot. On top of all this, we even worked out babysitting for all six concerts through trading with a family in our ward, so that is planned as well.

One of the major reasons I married Avram was I like how we connected intellectually. Five and a half years and two kids later, when I'm a stay at home Mom and he's a Ph.d. student, sometimes I feel like he kept the intellectuality, and I have de-evolved to where I can only talk about what current fantasy book I've read, or what my decorating plans are for our home. Signing up for these concerts made me feel intellectual, and stimulated mentally, and I hadn't even attended them yet! Another highlight was that this meant Avram and had an automatic date planned until April. Natural dating is not something we have developed in our relationship.

Despite this being a Christmas present, the Concerts began tonight, and run through April at one a month, skipping December. So this evening Avram and I put on our fancy, yet subdued academic intellectual clothing - Harris Tweed for Avram, and a brown skirt and pink sweater for me, and we actually spent some time alone together not in the confines of our own home.

We drove to Capital University here in greater Columbus, and were very pleased with the antiquity of the concert hall we met in. Ambiance is very important, and there is nothing like decorated finials and elaborate ceilings to help me appreciate music. The Anonymous 4, whom we saw this evening, is a group of four women who sing accapella. The concert was better than hoped for - the harmonies were sublime, the subject matter - a day's worth of music from a Spanish Nunnery containing the Los Huelgos Codex in the 13th century, from Metins to Mass to other Latin names I can't remember, to the ending Night songs - the subject matter was Medieval and wonderful. By the second song I was ready to become a Medieval Nun - I told Avram this, but for some reason he didn't want to join me. And, I felt my IQ rising by the Motet. If the concert had lasted any longer, I would have been able to discuss in relevant musical terms that historical importance of the Polyphonic manuscripts that were sung by women - apparently a shocking/somewhat unheard of matter in the Catholic Church. Since the concert did end, I can only quote in parrot-like manner what the 20 minute lecuturor proceeding the concert told us of this matter. If I could spend a whole day listening to this type of performance, I would almost have a master's degree by proxy, I am sure.

Afterwards to help us in our achievement of intellectual transcendence (plus perhaps to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Early Music concert series), there was a wine and cheese reception. Avram and I gathered smoked Gouda, smoked provolone, and Muenster, along with dried apricots and pistachios, and passing by the wine, filled our glasses with virginal punch. Then we sat and discussed the Greek loan words into the Latin texts, the supreme importance of Mary, and the Mary Cult in Medieval Christianity - seeing as almost every song spoke of and to Mary and her role as the star of the sea (stella maris) and her mediation with Christ.

I know that tomorrow morning I'll be back to talking about the Ward Halloween Party next week, and what this week's schedule looks like, and what so-and-so is doing in their life currently, but for now I revel in feeling alive and independent from my two loved, yet needy, daughters.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Tragicomedy (Plus some Abstinence in the Beginning)

Ok, so I haven't posted in forever - at least, long thoughtful (on my side at least - perhaps you can replace inane from your side) posts in forever. Anything with pictures in it is just for my mother. So I've been wanting to post when I have the creative fever on me, and I have a writing voice that will wow you, and perhaps garner me some sort of new, invented Nobel Prize in Literature for random bloggers that no one knows (hey, maybe I could get it for my intention in writing great things - whattd'ya say?). But I am remarkably fever free, and for the first time since Monday am even on the computer, so I'll have to just spew out whatever is on my mind. If James Joyce could pull off famous stream of consciousness, why can't I?

First off, I saw this link on Just Randi's blog - to Lloyds Pharmacy, which is trying to encourage safe sex. So I went and found out my "Sex Degrees of Separation," I admit, for the express purpose of mocking it. Sometimes when I encounter something like this, I am (dare I say it, and sound like a BYU editorial?) appalled that abstinence doesn't even come into question. That having one partner (my husband, just to be very clear here) who is in his late twenties, they assume I've had indirect sexual contact with 747,101 people. Or perhaps what they were really trying to say, was one person. I didn't find it a very potentially useful diagnostic tool when they didn't ask how many sexual partners your partner has had. But then, I'm sure that the people who invented this, and most people who are taking it, can't either imagine complete abstinence before marriage, nor complete, lifelong fidelity in marriage (let alone a complete, lifelong marriage, period.) Echoing something my friend Beth said recently on her blog, I do not feel that the LDS standards of morality, along with other commonly seen "restrictive" commandments like the Word of Wisdom (which I acknowledge is different from ancient times, but although they did drink alcoholic beverages, I would gladly give up wine to forego having to keep the rest of the Kashrut laws), and others are in fact limiting at all.

On the subject of religion, for the most part the happiest people I have known are deeply religious, from Muslims I knew in Egypt to Catholics I've known in America. Not to mention the Mormons I've met on three continents. Anyway.

Life has been rather a comedy of errors lately. Two days ago, in a very unusual day, I had five kids (including my own) for all day babysitting, plus for two hours in the afternoon two more kids, making SEVEN children five and under in my four room house (plus a bathroom). Luckily, the whole time the extra two were here there were also two others that were sleeping, so I only had five awake at a time. And we watched a movie, which I try to rarely if ever do while babysitting, but some days call for desperate, quiet inducing measures. Unluckily, one of the children napping was a two year old in a Pack 'n Play in my bedroom. Usually I only have babies in that pack 'n play, and it's pushed up against a bookshelf and dresser. This day the two year old reached up, and with the extra height provided by the portable bed spot grabbed ahold of my hair that was braided and waiting to be sent to Locks of Love. Why was it still hanging out on my bookcase? (ok, so that's a weird place for fragile things, but we have a certain bookcase we tend to pile things we don't want the girls get into too high for them to reach) Because a friend of mine is planning to cut her hair, and wanted to send her hair in with mine, so I'd been waiting for that.

So, to be brief, the two year old got the hair, and when I got to her, it was only a sad bundle of what looked like a dead hair animal. It was sad. Very, very sad. (These two sentences right here, with their brief yet heart rending description will be what I get that Nobel Prize for). Before my cut hair had felt so freeing - in a heartbeat I felt shorn, bereft of my beautiful hair. I put the two year old in timeout for five minutes, and talked to her about not touching things that aren't hers, but really one can only use the word Accountable with Two year Old so long before one sounds utterly ridiculous. It reminded me in small measure of the time when Lydia took the Weighing of the Heart scene, painted on real papyrus, that I had bought in Egypt, that had been the turning point for Avram and I, and ripped a large central strip out of it. She was also two at the time. I tell you, parenting is not for the weak of heart.

That evening, in a numb state, with tears lurking in my throat, I went through and rescued what hair I could, laying it out into a pile, and then putting it into a ponytail. Then came the hardest part - I carefully held the end of the ponytail, and brushed it all out - with huge globs of hair coming free. At last I was left with a reduced ponytail of brushed hair (Locks of Love hair cannot be loose, and it must be in a ponytail or braided), about one third to a half of what I'd started out with. I carefully put it into a plastic baggie, and put it somewhere much more childproof.

It amazed me how attached I was to hair that I had freely, happily chopped off. I had been glad to have it gone, and had never missed it. Until Tuesday. Now I find myself wanting to grow my hair long again. But when I cut my hair, I had decided to leave it short for a long time! Plus it took me four years to grow it out since the last short haircut I had. I think this life is designed to make us let go of our vanities, and longings for physical possessions. At least, children are definitely designed for the aforementioned.

This morning, Avram and I, in trading off, made Blueberry muffins. Unfortunately, somehow the flour got almost doubled. Once we realized that, we went back and added more of everything else - except an egg. So the resulting muffins taste very, very odd. And we made twice as many as normal. Lovely.

But in good news, I'm done babysitting for the week, Avram's program is having a beginning of the year social tonight where they have yummy Middle Eastern food (plus then I don't have to cook dinner), and tomorrow we're going as a family to a pumpkin patch to pick pumpkins. And it's a real pumpkin patch, where the pumpkins are still attached to the vines! Plus last Saturday we went to the Zoo and rode the Antique 1914 carousel for the first time - Elisheva's first carousel ride ever. So, life is good. And sad. It's a tragicomedy - but somehow I think those are better than the Comedies where everyone has to have fun all the time, just because the Playwright said so.

Monday, October 5, 2009

If you've ever wondered where Heavenly Father lives....

Avram, singing Silent Night to Lydia at bedtime.

Avram: "...Infant mother and child -"

Lydia, "That's Jesus. When he was a baby. He was just little. And his Mama."

Avram, "...Sleep in heavenly peace -"

Lydia, "That's about Jesus' daddy. He lives in the sky, in the cloud temple. That's my favorite temple. You and Mama went to a temple - that's where you were married. It was a different temple. And had windows."

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Guess which child at the Library Story Time belongs to me?

Lydia gets so shy around groups of children, although she can be very interactive one on one. Sometimes I despair of knowing how to get her involved, but she isn't sad being on the sidelines. In fact, she comes home excited as anything, so I guess that's just the way she's built. I like to dream that she'll be some amazing author, since she loves to observe people. It really astounds me how much each child comes to Earth with their own little personality intact, even from the day they are born. We can mold and guide them to their best selves, but it is working to make water run uphill to turn them into someone else.

What happens when you forget to attach the booster seat to the chair, but not to the child...

I was upstairs, and heard some desperate crying....

Recently some friends, who don't have children, were talking about how mothers will often post pictures of their children in trouble, or into something, or whatnot, and then say that they just had to get a picture. I laughed about it, because it's true, these pictures are all over the Internet, and leave you wondering if their child was on fire, if they'd run and get a picture first, before putting them out.

But I admit, I also do the same. I think because as a Mother, there are things that make us laugh, and we just have to share them with someone - telling people about it later doesn't work. We need pictures. And it's not like Elisheva was in danger while I ran and got the camera...she couldn't even move! Also, I think this kind of pictures happen because your kid does something naughty, and you can either laugh, or cry, or take a picture, and scold now and laugh later.
Lydia did this when she was just six months old, while I took a twenty minute nap. She was so proud of herself! Luckily, I was able to re-piece the book together, or I wouldn't think this was a cute picture at all, but instead a catastrophe.

If you're this kind of picture taking Mom, why do you do it?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Autumnal Day

Avram had his second day back at school today, the first one making its appearance last Wednesday. His only teacher was out of town (for his two classes), so we started school, and then immediately dropped back into vacation mode until today. Avram is teaching his first class this quarter, a Biblical Literature class to 26 students. So far his school year has consisted of teaching twice - a different beginning than he's ever had before to school. Despite being very nervous, he has loved his first two days, and feels really positive about teaching.

As for myself, I love Autumn. I love how the air smells, and how the leaves are already starting to turn. I love that my brain, after being sluggish for the summer months, comes alive again. Perhaps because my birthday is in October, perhaps because I love school, and school was always the harbinger of the coming season, but Autumn has always been my favorite time of year.Recently Avram and I re-arranged our living room, because I got inspired on a whim, or as Avram likes to say, I had a bee in my bonnet. I also made up a list of every dinner we've eaten this last year, and organized it by category, so now I have a master list of menus to refer to when I don't know what to plan for menus that week (which happens every week).

Today, my first full official day of homemaking alone since June (Avram took Arabic in the summer, but he was home every day by one or so), I kept busy. I transferred all the girls clothing from Summer to Fall, and re-packed the endless discarded diaper and wipe boxes with the latest offerings of too small clothing. I read from the large Martha Stewart Tome on housekeeping. I'm only in the kitchen, the first room she addresses, but I'm determined to make it clear through to the Attic. Then, feeling motivated, I went and cleaned my kitchen. It was not filthy, but needed the usual light smattering of dish doing, plus sweeping and mopping the floor. Or so I thought. With Martha Stewarts words echoing in my ear, I suddenly realized how filthy my entire kitchen is. It reeks of dirt, in greasy, baked on places. I decided to clean my stove to address the embarrassment residing in one quarter of my home, and discovered that I had neglected cleaning the drip pans for so long that I think they'll never come clean, and also that my stove top can lift up. Who knew? Lydia kept on asking me what I was doing, which made me uncomfortably aware how rare her mother deep cleaning must be. Never the less, I shouldered on, with only comet and a kitchen sponge, and although my Stove is still liably not fit for swine to eat from, its underbelly makes me proud. Besides, compared to when Avram is home, and I want to vacation, it's amazing. Also, I washed and dried (and put away) four loads of laundry today. Yes, I know you don't care about my cleanings, but to me it's all I have to show progress.

Meanwhile, my girls, with a bedroom full of toys from loving relatives, found a box to share.
Mostly they shared it well.
Except when Lydia struggled to share.
Then later today they played together with their baby stroller.
Although Lydia likes sharing here a lot more than Elisheva did.
I look to a return to blogging, now that life is back to routine. And as long as my girls keep entertaining each other.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Love Letter to Sqaw Peak

While going through photos to upload to Facebook of our old Medieval club college days, I ran across this photo. I would walk up to Rock Canyon Park as one of my routes of frequent walks with Lydia as a baby. I miss those meandering walks, but even more I miss the mountains. I forget how much they affect me, until something reminds me, such as a picture. I grew up in Salt Lake City, and so the mountains were always there, but they were just that - there as a back drop. I grew up in the middle of the valley, where the mountains often looked like two dimensional painted cardboard backdrops - beautiful, but distant to myself. In college, in Provo, I truly began to love the mountains. In Autumn the first signs of the changing season were seen in the mountain foliage. First on Mount Timpanogos, then creeping across the mountains down through Provo the reds and oranges crept in among the green. In November the small mountain behind the temple - seen between the two larger ones, would always fill up with snow first, and could be seen between its somber companions as a spot of white. (You can't see the small mountain here, but it's right behind the Temple.)

In March the mists came down, and made Provo feel like the Scottish Highlands.

I always knew where I was in the world, with the mountains beside me. Multiple times in my college career I came to the mountainside in the evening, and watched Utah Valley's city scape while pondering life's questions. Even while living in a city, I still felt a part of nature by seeing it daily above me.

I love aspects of other areas I've lived. When I first moved to Wisconsin, I still remember the rush of wonder when I saw my first purply twilight. I had read of twilights in books, but always took them for authors' fancies, in the same league as snow always on Christmas Eve, and neighborhoods with childhood activities reminiscent of the Little Rascals. Then, on that country twilight evening, I realized that outside of Utah, outside of mountains that obscured the setting sun, twilight was more than a literary device, but an actual, poignant event. Egypt had the Mediterranean Ocean, viewable from my balcony. England had such high levels of picturesque that I felt every sight better belonged on a postcard. Columbus has rain, which I'm enjoying even this very evening. Virginia had thunderstorms that would shake the house for hours in their fury, a wildness I delighted in with every crack and flash of light.

But I shall never forget my mountains. If I never live in Provo again, it will always be the guardian of my heart, for my heart is held within its walls of stone.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Yikes, She is Cute

Elisheva continues to become my most favorite toddler. The things she loves most in the world: food, shoes, and going places. Elisheva loves grated cheese,and has learned that if others at the table have a bowl, or spoon or whatnot, she needs one too.She now feeds herself, and delights in it. Elisheva has developed an attachment to shoes, and specifically to once she has shoes on, going outside, and going places. She loves to play in the dirt of my tiny herb garden.
When you take her shoes off at night, she usually cries. Also, once she has her shoes on for the day, and thinks we need to go somewhere as a family, but aren't leaving fast enough, she'll deliberately unsnap her jelly sandals, and then come to you for re-snapping, thus reminding you that we need to hurry up and go, already!

Elisheva has a few words, although she is a slow talker. She'll regularly say, "Mama," "Nana" (banana), "Shoes" (her favorite word, to no-one's surprise), "More Milk!" always said as a command, and occasionally she'll pop out with book, or water, or Lydia, or even Daddy. Today she said cheese. Mostly she uses expressive grunts to navigate herself through the world, which do work quite effectively.

Yikes, She is Cute

Elisheva continues to become my most favorite toddler. The things she loves most in the world: food, shoes, and going places. Elisheva loves grated cheese,and has learned that if others at the table have a bowl, or spoon or whatnot, she needs one too.She now feeds herself, and delights in it. Elisheva has developed an attachment to shoes, and specifically to once she has shoes one, going outside, and going places. She loves to play in the dirt of my tiny herb garden.
When you take her shoes off at night, she usually cries. Also, once she has her shoes on for the day, and thinks we need to go somewhere as a family, but aren't leaving fast enough, she'll deliberately unsnap her jelly sandals, and then come to you for re-snapping, thus reminding you that we need to hurry up and go, already!

Elisheva has a few words, although she is a slow talker. She'll regularly say, "Mama," "Nana" (banana), "Shoes" (her favorite word, to no-one's surprise), "More Milk!" always said as a command, and occasionally she'll pop out with book, or water, or Lydia, or even Daddy. Today she said cheese. Mostly she uses expressive grunts to navigate herself through the world, which do work quite effectively.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

I Did It!

My before picture of my hair. It's wet - so that's why it's kind of scraggly. It reached my natural waist.Don't mind the demon eyes.

My friend that I babysit for cut it for me (she's gone to hair cutting school, and she also cuts Avram's hair - and we babysit so her and her husband can go to the temple. I like trading.)
Although I asked her to cut my hair this morning, when she dropped off her son that I babysit part time, and so I knew all day I would be cutting it, this did not make me feel nostalgic in the slightest over my hair. When she braided my hair, and lopped it off, I didn't feel even a pang of remorse.Look at all that hair! As I mentioned before, I will be sending it into Locks of Love. I've never donated my hair before, since the last time I went drastic with the haircuts it was died, and back then they didn't take died hair - although they do now. But this hair hasn't been died at all - it's all natural. Not that I've ever had anyone ask me that, since I have a very common hair color - but I always secretly wished someone would, so I could tell them it was all natural.

I asked for the shortest cut I felt comfortable with, since I know for sure my hair will grow out, and I wanted to see how I felt about really short hair.
I like it, but I think I'll like it the most when it's grown out an inch or so - so I can make it more feminine with hair products and stuff.
I like this picture, because it looks like I have attitude. I do have attitude. I'm glad I don't look like a man with short hair. Not that I was specifically worried about this, but all the pictures you find when you look up short haircuts are of supermodels or actresses, all of whom have professional stylists and makeup people and genes that tell them what beauty products to use. I don't have any of that, so who knows what the same haircut would look like on me?

After we put the girls to bed, I ran over to CVS, and spent my October allowance and then some on some beauty products - hair stuff (like Gel, but cooler), and mascara and lip stain (like lipstick, only not. It looks like a little marker, but it has a stain. Since Avram and I both hate the taste of lipstick and lip gloss, I thought I'd give it a try.) and eyebrow cold waxing kit thingy, since we don't own any tweezers, and I thought if I could do it all in one go, I'm good with that. I don't usually wear makeup. Actually, I wear makeup on average about every other month or so. But now with short hair, I don't want to look masculine, or frumpy, so I thought I'd buff up my makeup collection.

Then I came home, and put on the lipstain. And it looked orange. Then I tried the eyebrow waxing, which would have been as effective if I'd taken some of our packing tape and used it instead. Then I was sad. Then I blotted off half the lipstain, which I'd apparently way over applied, and my lips did not scare me any longer. I finished up with the mascara, which was at least what I thought it would be (it's waxless, for no clumping), and the hair stuff, which I also liked. Then I felt better, and less like a teenage girl who buys all the wrong beauty products, becuase she has so little experience with them, and no one to tell her what to use. Hey, during my formative makeup years, ie college, I almost never wore makeup. I blame it on being a Granola, and always dating granola boyfriends who thought makeup was weird. Yes, the major boyfriends in my life liked me better without makeup. Where did I find these boys, I tell you.

I just looked up at a hair trader website, and the really long stuff sold for about $2000-$2500. I'd like to think my hair was worth maybe $1500. Doesn't that make me sound rich? After all, this hair had never been blow dried, not even once. It had had zero hair products used on it (well, shampoo and conditioner). I'd never died it, or permed it, or done anything to it. It's like the Gift of the Magi story, although if all she could buy for over a $1000 was a measly watch chain, she was being seriously gypped. And I'm not buying Avram anything with my hair. I like the idea of knowing how much my hair is "worth" although I'm donating it to Locks of Love. It makes me feel rich inside, like I can afford to give thousands of dollars to children who need wigs.

Overall, I'm very happy with the change. And now I shall go have some homemade peach pie, because in all this excitement I ate almost no dinner.

Hail to the Princess Lydia!

How do you know you have a three year old girl? Every thing is princess. These dolls are, from left to right, Aurora, Belle, and Ariel. Every pink dress is an Aurora dress, and every Blue dress a Cinderella one. Heaven forbid if you suggest a green or purple dress - those aren't any princesses! Your bedding (compliments of grandparents) are Disney princess themed. You can sleep on your princess sheets in your princess pajamas. (Although your princess obsession cannot explain your headgear).

You know all the words to the Aurora song -

I know you, I walked with you once upon a dream

I know you, the gleam in your eyes is so familiar a gleam
And I know it's true, that visions are seldom what they seem
But if I know you, I know that it's true
You'll love me at once, the way you did once, upon a dream.

More tellingly, both of your parents will also know all the words.
You dry off from baths in your princess towel - apparently with an also appropriately Princess snooty expression.You often spend your days dressed up, over your blue Cinderella dress, in your dressup, obligatory pink princess dress. Your favorite color is pink - pink everything. In short, your name is Lydia.

Note - I do not know where this princess obsession came from - it must be hardwired into Lydia's brain. She's been equally exposed to many Children's movies, and we do not buy her "themed" toys - but here it is. I just try and emphasize the general princess theme, and not the specific Disney Princess theme, so I don't feel so much like my child is a walking advertisement.