Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Thursday, October 28, 2010


What do you think
little kids do
when the grown ups are off chatting?
Well, first they steal the camera.
Then one climbs way up on a rickety bookshelf
while the other snaps
a picture of the crime.
(shhhh! mommy will never know!)

Photo by four year old Benjamin. You have a great future career as a photographer for the tabloids, Benj.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In loving memory

I went to Ruth’s today. I was nervous to go, not knowing if I would be able to somehow help, or if being there with Jonah would hurt. I am so glad I went.

Ruth has been my friend for a few years now. We met at a support group I host for women who have experienced a traumatic birth. Last year when Guy and I experienced our last miscarriage, Ruth had one a week later. Ruth and I became pregnant again just 10 weeks apart, and had enjoyed sharing our pregnancies; complaints, joys and all.

A few days before her due date, Ruth came to see Jonah for the first time. She was round bellied, tired, excited, and counting the days till she would finally meet her baby, who she had named Rhys (pronounced like Reese).

On the 15th Ruth called. Her hello didn’t sound very good, and I figured she was just plain exhausted from being 4 days overdue. I asked if she was ok.

“Rhys went to live with Jesus” she said, softly beginning to cry. I barely comprehended her. What did that mean? I tried to put it together in my mind, while my voice blankly responded to her, asking questions and echoing over and over, “Oh, Ruth, I’m so sorry…”

I hung up the phone, and sat in the studio for several minutes repeating her words in my mind. Then I looked down at Jonah, asleep in my arms, and it hit me. I burst into tears and sobbed endlessly. I called Guy, crying, and told him. His sincere shock came to my ear in a whisper, “Oh, no!” I didn’t have any answers for his questions of why, because I realized I had not heard a word of what Ruth had said after telling me of her agonizing loss. I told Guy of my lifeless response to her news, and decided I must call her back. Certainly she must have been pained by my distant response. When she picked up the phone, my voice tried to reach out to her through my tears, “I just realized, I am so sorry, I didn’t understand!” We talked and cried.

Ruth had gone into labor, and was excitedly looking forward to meeting her wee babe soon. She called the midwife and prepared herself for her homebirth. After a few hours Ruth realized that it had been some time since she felt the baby kick. When the midwife arrived, no heartbeat could be found. Ruth was hurried to the hospital where her worst fears were realized. Baby Rhys was born at 2AM, and Ruth and her husband Steve met their baby, then soon said goodbye.

I hung up the phone, weeping. I have wept, and at times sobbed, in the days since.

At Rhys’s memorial on Friday, I was so touched as Steve bravely stood before a room filled 300 strong, and spoke from his heart. “I refuse to let Rhys become a tragedy in my life.” He said. He spoke of the amazing outpouring of love to their family, of how relationships were being strengthened, friendships rekindled, all because of little Rhys. He encouraged us all to reach out to someone in our lives from whom we had grown distant. I came straight home and made a phone call to someone I deeply miss. That was what Steve asked from us as Rhys’s legacy, and I wanted to make that legacy start in my life.

So today I spent the day with Ruth. We cried a lot. We laughed quite a bit, too. She shared with me the beautiful portraits that had been taken for them by Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, a group of photographers who donate their time to take the tender images of stillborn babies for their grieving parents. I tidied the house and fed the kids, but my small efforts seemed so weak in the shadow of my friend’s loss. Ruth held Jonah while he slept, and by some small miracle, he slept for hours, seeming to soothe her aching heart and empty arms. Small miracles are welcome in this home.

So this is my simple tribute to Rhys. I never was blessed to meet him. But I know that God knows him, and knows his mother and father. I know we will not understand why this sweet angel didn’t get to stay, or why his mother has to say goodbye in this life, but I know she will hold her son again, because I know God loves his children.


Ruth is in all of my prayers, and I know she would welcome your prayers, too.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How to get your kids to eat dinner

Two nights ago the kids were unanimously grossed-out by the dinner they were served. They whined, they moaned, they threatened to puke. I grew up in an Eat-it-or-else house so I stink at dealing with food strikes. Guy was handling it all very well, though. First he began complimenting them on their awesome "Yuck" faces. Then he made it a competition to see who could make the most disgusted, obnoxious, completely repulsed face after each bite. The winner, he promised, would get "The biggest bowl of ice cream".
Ethan won, hands down. And after dinner was over (and eaten, I might add) he was handed, with great pomp and circumstance, the biggest bowl we own, with two scoops of ice cream in it... two scoops, just like everybody else.
The face he made next was classic. (see photo :)
I gotta say I have been pretty impressed with the boy lately. He has pulled his grades up with great determination. He takes care of collecting cans each month for the scout's ongoing fundraiser, never complaining about riding his bike with huge bags of cans dangling from both hands, or about standing in line with the local hobos and wine-os to cash them in. He has been working out, eating well, taking care of his scout and church responsibilities, all without being prodded.
But what impressed me most happened a few nights ago. He came out of his room after having gone off to bed, and handed me a book-on-CD he had recently checked out from the library. "Here Mom," he said, "This book is really inappropriate. It has a lot of swearing in it, and I shouldn't be listening to it." His voice sounded almost reverent. No, not reverent, self-respecting (is that a word?).
What a cool kid.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Living in Disneyland

Just before Jonah's blessing, there was a flurry of cleaning. It was a feeble attempt on my part to reverse the effects of months of deferred maintenance while I grew a tiny human. At one point, having run out of time to actually mop, I gave Tessa a wash cloth and asked her to spot clean the floor. She happily obliged, and a few minutes later said,

"Mama, I is like Cinderwella."

"You are?"

"Yeah, cuz I is cleaning da' floohr, only I don't have a dwess of wags."

Not 15 minutes later, Ellie came in to ask if daddy would be the one doing Jonah's blessing. I told her he would, to which she replied, "Can you tell him to lift Jonah up like in Lion King?" She struck a Rafiki-pose, her face stoic and serious, raising her arms to the sky as though she were holding up young Simba.

A few days later, Tessa got a cloth and went at the floors again, only this time she was really workin' it.

"Look mom. Dis is my upset face, cuz I am Cinderwella and I am sad washin' da floohr."

If there is a casting call for a Disney film any time soon, somebody should let these two know about it!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Sending a prayer

A dear friend of mine is going through a trial right now that no one should ever have to experience. I don't feel like her trial is mine to share, so I can only say my heart is with her. I can't quite focus on anything else right now than her and her pain. I think of her dozens of times a day, and each time I am overcome with my inability to help her. Only time, and her faith in God can. So each time I think of her, I just pray.
I know you don't know her, and you don't know why, but maybe you can pray for her, too.
Beautiful photo by Ethan

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wait and see, cradle crap and potty talk

Warning: The following contains graphic descriptions of breastfed poop. Reader Beware.

Jonah's doctor visit last week was, um, ok…I suppose. Doctor V. agreed with me that due to the blood I had seen in is dipe, Jonah likely has a food allergy . Of course, just like when you go to the mechanic because your car is making a weird sound, and the sound disappears while you are there, Jonah had no blood in his diaper when we were there. But the green mucus was still there, as was his reflux. The good doctor gave him some reflux medicine which seems to be helping some, but she also said the words I feared, “Well, he is clearly thriving, so I am not concerned about him. This will probably resolve with time, so we can just wait and see.”

Yikes. Wait and see? He is in pain, I told her. To me, thriving or not, he deserves to have his pain investigated. She said give the reflux medicine a chance. What if it isn’t the reflux? I had asked. One step at a time, she had replied.

Dang. I don’t do waiting well, especially not when my baby is in pain.

As far as the rash goes, she suggested hydrocortisone cream and said it was likely a very bad case of cradle-cap. It didn’t make sense to me to treat the symptom and not the cause. I had read that cradle cap was the fungus (one that we all have a little bit of) that also caused dandruff. There is a special shampoo that I had begun using a while ago that has medicine in it to kill the fungus, but I had stopped because the rash was still there, and I started pursuing the food allergy idea at the same time. When Jonah showed some improvement on his skin, I had attributed it to the diet changes.

When we got home I gently exfoliated Jonah's skin with a pinch of salt granules and bathed him for two more days. His skin cleared almost completely.

With all of the crying Jonah has also developed an umbilical hernia. His little belly button has become an outie, and a large purple one, at that. Again, her response was to wait and see if it resolves on its own. In this case, I am ok with waiting. I would hate to subject him to surgery that was not necessary.

She suggested I stick with the diet if it helps. So I haven’t really known if it is the food, reflux, or itchy rash that has had him screaming, but since the rash is gone, and he is on meds but still fussy, I am back to the food drawing board.

I abandoned corn two days ago. I am down to rice in its many forms, and a few fruits and veggies. Oh, and chicken. And prayer!

We have spent the day in the rocker today.
Maybe tomorrow will be better.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Blessings and more blessings

This weekend was so special. Our family came from all over; LA, Fairfield and San Jose, and friends joined us for a sweet celebration. This was the day that Jonah was given a tender blessing by is father, my sweetie, at church. It is our custom to have a baby blessing for new sojourners on the earth, and usually the blessing is given to the baby by their papas. All the special men in their lives gather in a circle to participate; Grandpa, Uncle Chris, Justin, David, Bishop and Dennis. Guy blessed baby Jonah with strength and health. He said that Jonah would be blessed to be able to overcome his trials, for it was through trial that he came into this life. That he would be helped and supported by his brothers and sisters on both sides of the veil. Guy wept, I bawled, and tears moistened the cheeks of so many in in congregation. Guy had to wipe his face on the burp cloth he had taken up with him in case Jonah urped. I ended up using a onesie to wipe my tears.
The only one who didn't cry, miraculously, blessedly, was Jonah. He started to rev up at the beginning and I just assumed I would be picking out my husbands voice from amongst the squalls, but he hushed, and only fussed for a moment once, when David smiled at him. It made for a great joke later.
At home that afternoon, we celebrated with so many loved ones, there was barely room to keep them! We ate and laughed and told stories. Everybody washed hands and passed Jonah around. The germ-phobe in me stepped aside and made room for the part of me that believes that it takes a village to raise a child. This is my village. These are the people who have supported and counseled us, grieved with us, and now at long last, share in our joy and celebration.

G'ma and G'pa H with our kiddos

Supermom Auntie Kori with two of her 11 kids.

My brother Kenny, wife Tracey who I adore, three of their great and amazingly polite kids, and my Dad.

Uncles are great for putting babies to sleep. Kenny is so tall he makes Jonah disappear on his lap. .

Sweet Nicole helped with the food, and helped keep my nerves calm. I tend to stress when we host a gathering, wanting every thing to go well, and every one to feel content.
My studio was transformed (oh, and cleaned!) for the buffet table.
The big kids, and...

the little 'uns.
I was sad when people started gathering their things and saying their goodbyes. It may be months before I see some of them again. Many, many months. And then there was the ever present reminder of those who were not with us... Julean and Zack (we missed you!), Mom, (she would have loved being around so many grandchildren. I can hear her voice in my head right now, saying "Please pass the baby!" as though he were the pepper), and my two sisters who live out of state and don't get out this way often.
Soon the pile of little shoes was gone, and Guy and I walked across the grass after having said goodbye to all of our family almost at once. Steph and David stayed, and helped me transition between a houseful and a house nearly empty (funny that seven people in the house can feel empty!). It is too hard when everyone leaves at the same time. But I have to say, I have finally figured out the thing about spending special days with family and friends is that after the day is done, you still have the people you love, no matter how far away they are.
(Oh, and I took Jonah to the doctor. I will tell you all about it tomorrow. Right now I need to sleep!)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Here we go...

A sudden flare up.

We have a doctor's appointment today. Jonah continues to scream in pain and break out in a mystery rash. I have gone off of dairy, soy, gluten, citrus, nuts, tomatoes, chocolate (oh, say it isn't so!), bananas and pineapple. Rice is my new friend. My friends know I am not the type to run to a doc to solve my problems, but I am officially out of ideas.

Jonah will be content, even smiling, and suddenly, mid-smile he pulls is legs up, grimaces and screams. It breaks my heart. The rash flares up for no apparent reason. There has been blood in his diaper...

I pray that the doctor will listen to us. I hope that Jonah will show the doctor what we see at home. I'll keep you posted, no pun intended.

Your prayers would be appreciated.

Monday, October 4, 2010


Twice a year we have the wonderful opportunity to listen to a church conference that is broadcast from Salt Lake City. We stay home and watch the conference talks on the computer, all snuggled together in our jammies. It can be challenging to get the kids to sit still and listen, or to stay awake and listen (you can count the adults in on that second one!).

During the first two hour Sunday session, the little kids jockeyed for the best lap space, arguing over who touched who, while Ethan pretended to be “resting his eyes”. Adam and Ellie squabbled, and in general everyone was in a rather snotty mood.

I wondered if it was worth it… trying to get the kids to listen to “a bunch of old people”, as the boys put it, expounding on gospel topics. About halfway through, I sort of gave up on getting Ethan to stay awake, and just felt grateful that Jonah was staying asleep. 50% ain’t bad.

It's in moments like these that I begin to question how, as a parent, I can possibly teach my children the values that I hope to instill in them. How can I compete with the noise of the world, it's media, and it's call for excitement that puts them in peril? Will the lessons I try to teach them be heard above the din?

In the break between sessions, Guy made a brunchy table-full of food, including gluten free pancakes for me (and just in case you were curious, yes, you can use gluten-free, egg-free, dairy-free pancakes as rubber insoles). Jonah woke and had his first cry-fest of the day, and everyone else woke up a little bit, too.

When the second session started, we settled in to listen. The kids began making paper airplanes, and as long as they were quiet, I figured it was okay. Perhaps some of the words floating through the room, over the sound of crumpling paper, would be able to penetrate their ears.

And then, there it was, evidence that it was not all in vain; Ethan began reciting aloud from memory the scripture being quoted by the speaker. The choir and congregation began to sing, and the kids all joined in; “I am a child of God, and he has sent me here, has given me an earthly home with parents kind and dear…” Well, I don’t know how kind and dear we are, but I for one was feeling my heart swell as I saw my children casually folding paper airplanes and singing about needing to be led by faithful parents... "lead me, guide me, walk beside me, help me find the way; teach me all that I must do to live with Him someday".

The best came later as a speaker began telling a story, and the kids shushed each other, then grew more quiet and still to listen. Once in a while one of the boys would even comment, proving that indeed, something was getting through to them.

And again, Jonah slept quietly in my arms.


As the teenage years zoom toward me, I grow more fearful that the world will have a tighter grip on my children than I will be able to have. And though I know it is really up to them, and I have no real "grip" at all, I still wish I could hold them tightly and not let the world have it's chance with them.

Am I teaching them enough? Am I leading them and guiding them?

Today Tessa came into the room singing to a picture that she held in her hands. "A song I made up about Jesus" as she put it. Then she said, "Mom, Jesus is the son of God." (the phrase that she was assigned to recite in an upcoming program at church).

"Oh, you already learned your part!" I said, smiling.
"No, it's writted right here." She said pointing to the picture in her hands of Jesus blessing the little children.
She's learning. And whether or not I am teaching her, or her sweet little soul somehow just knows, as long as she understands that she is a precious daughter of a loving Heavenly Father, that is all that matters.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


"Daddy could gib me plano lessons."
Wouldn't it be nice if we could take her, hand over hand, to teach her all she needed to know? Wouldn't it be perfect if we could help her to never mess up, never make a mistake?
She sat tonight all by herself at the piano (plano!) and sang as she played random notes. She was singing "I Am a Child of God", perfectly out-of-tune at the top of her two little lungs.
She flipped the music book open to "Once There Was a Snowman" and then brought the book in to me to complain. "I used to know dis one! Now I can't easy pway it!"
(In Tessa-talk, "easy" means "even").
I wish I could easy do things, too. I'd hardly know where to start.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Equestrian Midwifery

Did you know that ponies came in litters?

Introducing Midwife Tessa and her apprentice, Sailor.

If you put on your magic glasses, you can see the invisible gloves.