Saturday, December 27, 2008

My mom is a genius

Mom wrote this for matt's birthday this year. it is a set of instructions written to emulate the directions written in choppy english for other products manufactured in foreign lands.

For matt 12/7/08


With carefulness, open the candle packaging, so as to not break the candles shattering.

Also with carefully, open the cookies, hoping they will not be break having been travelled halfway around the world.

Place cookies on a plate or other surface.

Insert any number of candles in any number of cookies.

Use match to light candles.

Surrounding people to sing Happy Birthday.

Recipient to close eye, make wish, and blow candles.

All to eat cookies.

Remove candles prior.

© 2008 S2J* S2*@*#@

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Maia's In-Stocking Photo Shoot

An Ode To Grey Boy, the beloved and late Kirk family cat

An Ode to Grey Boy

First foundling, then friend
You grew to be ohana.
First runt and then sumocat
You were born to please Mama.
You took running starts
For your leaps to mom's bed.
The best spot to sleep
Was not near her head.
You played fetch with a foil ball.
You also were tripped over
When we walked down the hall.
When food was served
You were never unnerved.
When food overflowed from your dish
We could tell it fulfilled your every wish.
You begged for added food
so the boys gave you more.
I'm not sure you ever
could have fit through a cat door.
Our lives are so different now
That you have passed.
We will always remember you
the cat who left last.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

2008 Family Photo Collage

Christmas Letter 2008--Insanely LONG

Donnelson Family Christmas Letter 2008

"Count Your blessings, count them ton by ton!"
Dearest Friends and Family,

    We had a wonderful service at our church on Thanksgiving Eve, and our pastor asked people to share what they were thankful for.  An older lady stood up and reminded us of the saying "Count your blessings, Count them one by one," and then she talked of how, if we are careful to notice, we can count our blessings TON by TON!  I sat there and began to recount the ways God has worked in our lives confirming to me how much He cares for each second of our lives.  I decided I'd like to take you all on a trip down the road our family has recently traveled.
    Let's start with Christmas Eve 2007!  I woke up that morning and decided to use my dollar store pregnancy test.  There were two lines!  I had to double check, so I went to Safeway and got the "better" kind, and yes, it confirmed that we were expecting our fifth child!   Brandon and I were both excited to be expecting the child who'd complete our family.  I soon had lots of queasiness, which actually worried me, as our miscarried pregnancy was the only one in which I had ever felt significantly sick.  When I passed the 12 week mark, I breathed a sigh of relief and made official announcements, though we hadn't been able to resist, and had told most everyone we knew, asking them to pray that this baby would continue to grow healthy and strong.  Prayers were answered!  The pregnacy was easy and beautiful. My tummy measured small, which was another reason for prayer and concern and Maia was born small, but healthy!  In the weeks leading up to her birth I suffered from insomnia, panic and anxiety that I could not control, but those were relieved as Brandon, my dear friends Josie and Wendy,  my mom and wonderful sis in law Emma prayed me through her birth.  Maia's delivery was safe, beautiful, and the first one at home. God knew she was done baking, because her placenta had a dead spot and may have begun to soon fail.  Her cord was around her neck several times, but wasn't tight and caused no harm!
    Maia is a beautiful little baby, now more than double her tiny 6lb 13 oz birth weight.  Everyone loves her.  I think Saraiah loves her most of all.  Rod and Diane, my in-laws, witnessed this when the watched Saraiah hug Maia in her usual oops-Saraiah-you're-smashing-the-baby sort of way. They saw Saraiah's big brown eyes roll back in the joy of it all.  She was in heaven.  This was reassuring to me, because I am constantly needing to be aware of where Saraiah is in relation to Maia because she can't keep her hands away.  Saraiah has taken her loss of the baby status in the family a little hardly, so I am careful to spend time each day with her. Her favorite thing is for me to write out all the letters and numbers.  She then circles each one and asks me to relate them all to the people who are precious to her.  She is a beautiful girl who charms anyone she meets with her adorable laugh and soulful eyes.  She makes me smile even when she's covered with flour, permanent marker or Llama spit (our llama spat in her hair not long after Maia was born. I don't know why).
 Not only did our family increase, but so did our tiny farm.  Eva's goat had an easy delivery of twin baby girl goats on the day an ultrasound confirmed that the newest human addition to our family would also be a girl!   She was excited to help a cute little white kid be born, and then a few minutes later we had a beautiful brown one.  They are appropriately called Cinnamon and Sugar.  These goats later had a brush with death at the fair after eating something bad.  We prayed lots that day, and they made it.  Eva shows her huge capacity for love in the way she cares daily for these goats, as well as helping me daily with the human kids! She's ten now, and it's hard to believe that in 8 years she'll be an official adult.  Saraiah made the big switch to Eva's room from mom's.  Eva loves having her sleep in her room and works hard to keep her entertained with crafts and stories until she's drowsy.  Eva is naturally a leader in her quiet way, and it's good to see her grow as she steps up to the new responsibilities she has. She perseveres. This is a character trait that she growing it into a huge strength as she does tasks that seem too big--like shucking ALL of our corn from the garden herself and sewing a poncho all on her own.  Her current loves are knitting, sewing, and being the narrator in any play she is in.  ( you get the most lines and you don't have to memorize them!)
    Levi, now five, has been very interested in spiritual things lately, and seeing all the praying his dad was doing, decided he should pray too.  When I had a prolapsed uterus after Maia was born, he prayed for my  "uterus to go back in its right spot."  It did, though I was very skeptical because my recovery was much longer than with any of the other children.  He prayed for my bleeding to stop as well because I was concerned it was going so long, and of course it did.  He also decided he wanted to ask Jesus into his heart when I was sitting with Maia, only a few days old, on the recliner.  I don't even remember what led up to it, but it was so natural and good, that I don't think that matters.  Recent recurring prayers have been for grandma Vi to "not die" when she was extremely ill in and in a nursing home and for Uncle Matt to be safe  and "not die" in Iraq as he serves our country doing convoy patrols.  We saw grandma Vi be able to leave the nursing home and come home in a much better state, though not totally well, and saw Uncle Matt complete his first two convoy patrols safely.  The latest thing Levi is trying to grasp is that God sometimes says no or doesn't answer in the way we'd like.  He had prayed that God would make our world into the cartoon character Caillou's world, and that he could be Caillou.  He was dismayed to awake and find he was still in his own body and had to deal with daily struggles with siblings and chores.  I think he decided all was ok when he asked me to call him Caillou for the rest of the day, and I did!
      Isaac is growing into a responsible and wise young man. His mind is that of an engineer's and he knows how to work every piece of electronics in our house.  He picks up math easily, and understands science.  He builds lego creations with very intricate stories and purposes.  He loves Cub Scouts, and loves the fact that his daddy is one of his leaders now too.  He has often been so compliant and easygoing that I'm afraid I don't always give him the attention he deserves.  He struggled with this recently in the weeks surrounding his eighth  birthday and Thanksgiving.  Because I was so busy with our growing family and beginning the new homeschool year, it took me a while to notice this.  He needed desperately to see that I and others truly cared for him.  So one day I made certain to take him specially to Wal-Mart to spend his birthday money.  He immediately saw a remote control truck he had to have, and it was exactly $20...all of his money, which he counted carefully, then held tightly in his fist.  After much encouraging to buy something more practical, I finally decided to let him make his own decision.  He brought the truck to the check out and gave me his money.  He had lost one of his ten dollar bills.  I was devastated for him, and angry with myself for not helping him to take better care of his money.  I didn't reign in my emotions well and told him in a snippy voice that he had to take his toy back and get something for the $10 he had left, but that we could look for his money, though I knew it would be gone.  I knew he had to learn the lesson to take care of his money, and it would not be wise to bail him out, but I hated to do it.  Sadly, he chose a small lego set and returned to the cashier.  I suddenly realized that we could announce his loss on the loudspeaker, and maybe whoever picked it up could return it to him.  I figured this was a long shot, but it was worth it to try to appeal to the heart of people.  The cashier agreed to make the announcement, and it was soon announced that a boy lost his birthday $10 bill.  We waited to see if anyone might come up.  No one did.  We were about to pay for the lego set when a man walked up, found us, and gave us two $5 bills.  He said that he knew this wasn't Isaac's money, but he never had heard an announcement like ours, and that he knew the awful feeling of losing something special like that.  Both Isaac and I were flabbergasted.  Isaac grinned hugely, and we thanked the man profusely telling him that Isaac could now get the truck he wanted so badly!  He told Isaac to be sure to drive the wheels off that thing!  On the way home, Isaac was beaming and he said, "I can't stop thinking about that guy.  I just have joy inside of me!"  We talked about how even though he didn't really deserve the money because he lost it, he received grace and was able to get what he wanted anyway.   We talked about how God did that for us too.  Even though we deserved severe consequences for our sins, he sent Jesus to die for us to take them away!  Isaac was amazed that God could show he cared for him through a stranger's kindness, and he learned a deeper lesson of God's love that day too.  Since then, I've been more sure to give him the attention he needs, and I am bolstered by the knowledge that even though I hadn't probably cared for Isaac as best I could, God gave him hope, and that gave him joy.
    Last year Brandon took a step of faith and created his amazing goal completion program called Gone Vertical.  This was done as an act of obedience to a vision that both Brandon and I think was divinely inspired.  It's a simple, yet ingenious idea: you focus on three goals you'd like to attain.  They are entered into your account.  You get daily reminders via email or text to work on your task.  You check off your task each day you do it, and you watch your progress on a calendar.   Brandon uses it daily himself, and I have seen it change Brandon's life drastically for the better, enabling him to accomplish many things he just couldn't get to before.  You should check it out when you have time.  I know it has impacted the lives of others for the better, but mostly I see how it has impacted us and those around us.  Brandon is able to pray for the people and things he wants to pray for, and has seen God work miracles in many lives.  One example is Leo, a security guard where Brandon now works.  When Brandon met him, he was gruff and not used to anyone paying attention to him.  Brandon's cheerful smile and personal attention warmed him, and he told Brandon his wife was home dying and was already receiving hospice care.  Brandon promised to pray for her, and he actually did....Daily.  Then a beautiful thing happened.  God worked, and each time Brandon talked to Leo, he told him he was praying.  Amazingly, hospice left, because Leo's wife was getting better.  Leo was incredulous, but he told Brandon... "I think your prayers are working!"  If Gone Vertical helped Brandon pray for this one man and so increased his faith, and gave hime a little more time with his wife, that makes all the financial struggles worth while. 
    Looking back on the early part of this year, it's hard to believe we're where we are right now.  Our finances were not in the best shape because of the time Brandon had taken from a regular job in order to build Gone Vertical.  We decided that we needed to put our house on the market in early April and sell it rather quickly in order to avoid worse troubles.  I knew I had a lot to do to prepare.  A miracle arrived in the form of my dear friend Wendy.  She helped me pack all the things we didn't need away, and spent many nights painting our home into the wee hours of morning with me.  She brought me snacks and moral support when I felt pretty hopeless.  Brandon had been dealing with trials of panic attacks induced by asthma since an illness in November 2007.  He was focused on providing for our family while also working feverishly to make his vision a reality.  He knew he was on a timeline.  I reminded him of it a little too often.  Then, when everything was finally ready and the house prepared, we realized there was no way it could sell on the current market.  I was crushed and at my lowest point in a long time.  But it's in those times that you have to look up. And there was God, reminding me that He was in charge, and He hadn't forgotten me, and I was reminded how time and again, Brandon always came through and provided for our family.  And I knew that if I trusted Brandon to trust God, we'd be ok.  It is not a mistake that Brandon's name "popped" into his high school friend's head when he needed a contractor for a big programming job for Verizon.  This job offer came just as our other funds were nearly depleted.  The job has extended beyond its initial few months duration to a fairly permanent job.  The program Brandon built for the Northwest region of Verizon was so well received that it looks like it will be exended to the entire country.  It is a joy to see Brandon receive well-deserved praise for what he does.  His asthma and anxiety have also been greatly improved, though the struggle with them seemed endless as it dragged on all year.  He has been able to make time appear out of thin air to take us on vacations to Ocean Shores and the Olympic Peninsula.  He has been active in Cub Scouts.  He even arranged babysitting so I could join him in practicing in a community choir to sing Handel's Messiah at a recent Christmas concert.  It was beautiful to understand that heavenly music more intimately, and humbling to be driven to tears by the truth it tells  I had two favorite songs.  One was "Surely he hath borne our griefs."  It talked of all the grief and sorrow Jesus carried to the cross for us when he was beaten and bruised and died for our sins.  It is so beautiful and sad all at once, that it brought me to tears as we sang it at one of the rehearsals. The other song I loved was "Unto Us a Child is Born" telling about the prophecy of the Messiah.  Its lyrics come directly from the Isaiah 9:6.
    "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."  Isaiah 9:6
     As you travel the road this year brings you rememember that He cares for you and will carry your griefs.  He came to bring joy and peace, and to bring amazing grace.  This is my prayer for all of you, that you will be able to count your blessings ton by ton!

   Love and big hugs from all of us,
Angie (I'm 30 now!), Brandon (34), Eva (10), Isaac (8), Levi (5), Saraiah (2.5) and introducing Maia ( nearly 4 months)

Brandon's awesome goal completion program:
Angie's sporadically updated Blog:

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Photo Shoot of Maia--8 Days By SH Photography

Check out my favorite photographer's website and hire her!
She is based out of Stanwood, Washington. Her studio is actually out at her home on Camano Island.

She did this gorgeous photo shoot of Maia at 8 days old.
maia 8 day photo shoot

Saturday, October 25, 2008

My Recipe for World Peace

My brother Matt is being deployed to Iraq for the second time at the end of this month. He's here on a visit for 3 days, and it puts the whole war issue directly in front of my face. I want a president elected who will do his best to keep my brother safe, and all the other brothers and husbands and wives and uncles and aunts and grandmas and grandpas who are serving in the armed forces over there in that awful war. I am voting for McCain, and I hope he does the job. In the meantime, I have come up with a recipe for world peace once we extricate ourselves from the mess over there in the mideast.
Every adult, especially world leaders, should take a hint from toddlers in conflict resolution. They have a handle on the non-violent solution to dealing with frustrations. If they don't get their way, or someone wrongs them, they just throw themselves on the ground and have a fit.
So here's my plea to the next president and all leaders of our country and the world:
If the economy plummets further, and you're a little bummed. If another country likes to make nuclear power or says mean things about your country, here's what to do. Start screaming and yelling about nothing in particular. Turn yourself red in the face. Then, throw yourself on the ground and kick and scream. Have yourself a good old fashioned temper tantrum, then get over it.
In this way, world peace will be achieved, I am sure of it. Rather than having any outward aggression in anyway, have a fit. Get it all out. Then go about your business and try to make life better for yourself and those around you.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Creation and Birth of Maia Jo

I decided to stay up late and get Maia's pregnacy and birth story written. Here it is!

Written 10/08/2008 12:25 AM - 2:38 AM

"For You created my inmost being. You knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful, I know that full well." Psalm 139:13, 14

It is fitting that in the wee hours of the 10th birthday of my first child, I should choose to write down what I remember of the birth of my last child. Maia, you are our sixth child. One went early to be with Jesus, so early that there was no sign of him or her by the time we lost her at 12 weeks along. With your birth at 7:45 pm on Saturday, August 30th, we felt the circle of our family was complete.
You are a sweet gift to our family. It is appropriate that we confirmed on Christmas Eve that you were growing inside of me. I used a dollar store test, and found it showed a positive faint line. Of course, daddy and I believed that it might not be accurate, so I went to Safeway to get another fancier one. I couldn't wait to do it, and stopped in at Josie's house. She is my dear friend and daddy's cousin. You will call her Auntie Josie. It was again a postitive test! I called dad to tell him the great news, and he was so happy, but a little sad that I hadn't brought the test home to do with him right there.
I knew that I wanted Charlotte Geddis to be the midwife to help you into the world, and made an appointment with her to confirm the pregnancy. She had helped your cousins Corbin and Sienna, and your sister Saraiah to be born, and all of those births were beautiful, unforgettable experiences. On January 17, 2008, we had yet another positive pregnancy test at Charlotte's house, the very place your big sister Saraiah was born! She was born fast, once the labor decided to advance, and Charlotte had to run into the room to catch her. Based on my last period, we figured that your due date was somewhere between September 3rd and 12th. We thought it would be closer to the earlier date because Saraiah had come 2 weeks early, and I have intense contractions early on towards the end of the pregnancy. We were excited about you, and decided it would be fun to try to see whether you were a boy or a girl, so that I could decide which clothes to save for you. You were to be the tie breaker, since we had 3 boys and 3 girls in our family. When we had the ultrasound at about 20 weeks, the technician told us you were a girl! The girls won! I commented to dad that we'd have a lot of weddings, and when it came time for periods at our house, there would be a lot of emotional women around! How funny that before you were even born, I thought about you growing up! The funnier thing about your ultrasound was that when we read the report we were sent home with, it stated that you were male! The technician had checked the wrong box! I called to confirm that you were indeed a girl, and they went over the video of the ultrasound and said it was true! I laughed, though, whenever people asked what we were having, because I really didn't feel I could be sure until I met you. I had a friend who had been surprised that year by a boy when she was told she was having a girl!
My pregnancy with you went very well and with minimal hardship. I was still nursing Saraiah at the time, and whenever she would nurse, I could feel my uterus contract. I was very early along, and didn't want to risk losing you, so it was time for Saraiah to be done. She still slept cuddled in our bed until the last months of the pregnancy, so she got to enjoy her last little bit as the baby of the family. I suppose my main problem during the pregnancy revolved around problems that weren't there. You'll come to know that I sometimes worry too much, and I did that a lot when I was pregnant with you. I was concerned that I would miscarry you because I felt queasy in the early months, as I had been only when we lost our other baby. I thought about your birth and afraid I would lose you because an acquaintance at church had lost her baby the day I had my first appointment with Charlotte. I was afraid there would be complications in your birth because Josie's twins, Barrett and Liam had come into the world being baked alive by the fever she had, and she had nearly died from later complications. Fear seized me, and I had to daily give it up to God. I loved you so dearly from the moment I knew of you, that I was afraid to ever be parted from you. I slowly came to the understanding that God had a plan for your life, and it would be a blessing, no matter how it progressed. I made up my mind to love you while you were inside and to cherish that time, remembering that we were planning for you to be my last pregnancy. I had some varicose veins that got bigger in my legs, but that was about the only other discomfort I had. Your pregnancy was wonderful.
I began to think of names for you before I knew if you were a boy or a girl. Auntie Emma and I sat in church one day, and I noticed the book Malachi in the Bible, I pointed out that name to her, and thought that if it was a boy, we would have him be named Malachi Stephen, with his middle name being the same as my dad's. We soon found out that you were a girl, and we decided it would be fun to let you share grandma Marcia's middle name, Jo. Because Marcia went so well with Jo, I thought it would be fun for your name to start with M. Dad was supposed to name you, but couldn't think of anything, so he passed the naming rights on to me. I wrote to my aunts and cousins, friends and more family, asking for M names. I liked the names Maile and Miriam, and Maya. Then I saw a television show called "The 4400," where a girl had the name Maia. It was like the name Maya, and so I asked dad if he liked the name Maia Jo. He did. The meanings are sweet. Maia is from the Greek and means "Great Mother." Jo is short for Josephine, meaning "Jehovah Increases." You made me feel fulfulled as a mother, and that my nest was full, so I feel it's very appropriate. Perhaps it means too that you'll be a very nurturing type of person.
About halfway through your pregnancy, I started to seriously consider home birth. I know dad was a little fearful of it, and I had been too. However, Saraiah had been born at Charlotte's house, which was actually a little further from a hospital than ours. I felt that Charlotte was more than competent to deal with an emergency, having aided in thousands of births. We were also close to a fire station and the Interstate if we needed to get you more help fast. I was careful in how I approached the subject with dad, because it was such a sensitive one. I reminded him that I had gone along with some of his plans that I didn't totally agree with, and asked if he would do the same for me. He said yes! He was actually happy that we'd be able to stay home, and that he'd have the chance to maybe go take a breather in his office for a little bit during the birth when he needed.
We planned to have all of my favorite people at the birth: Aunt Josie as doula; Auntie Emma, also as a doula; Daddy, of course; big Sister Eva who felt she could handle it; Grandma Marcia, as long as she could make it from Hawaii; Charlotte and her assistants; and Miss Wendy, one of mom's best friends who had never been at a birth herself. I had very much enjoyed having a "helper for each limb" during contractions with Saraiah's birth, and decided it would be great to have such a large support group.
Throughout the pregnancy, people remarked that I looked very small. In fact, some people never knew I had been pregnant until I met you. Because Saraiah had been so early though, I began watching for you 2 weeks before September 3. I really only wanted you to come a week early, because that's when Grandma Marcia would arrive. She came, and the days passed. I got lots of contractions...false alarms. This happened five times before they finally kicked over into real labor the sixth time. As you'll probably know by the time you read this, what gets the baby in often helps get the baby out. We had caused the contractions, but you wouldn't make your debut until your body and mine both knew you were ready. I had a lot of anxiety in the days leading up to your birth. Your dad had dealt a lot with anxiety in the previous year, and it was the first time I really understood how he felt. This was a gift to me, to be able to really understand his pain, though the anxiety was so scary. My heart raced each night, and I didn't understand why. Sometimes it happened during my false labor. It even woke me up once. I decided to write out all the verses from the Bible that I knew about worry and anxiety, and reading those over and over really helped. One time Grandma Marcia, Uncle Danny and Aunty Emma came over and played scrabble with me while i had the false labor, and it helped keep the anxiety at bay. With the help of God, I had no anxiety when my labor begun on the day you were born.
On the morning of Saturday, August 30, I started to have contractions. It was 9:30, and they were pretty intense. I thought they would go away though, because they had the 5 other times. Grandma Marcia and Grandpa Steve were supposed to go to Deception Pass with great grandpa Don and his wife Fran, who had driven out from Indiana. At first I thought they should go, but by about an hour later, I called grandma up and asked her to stay closer. They all decided to stay home. I had felt like a "watched pot" over the past week, because I kept having so many false labors. I hoped that this wasn't another one, especially since they had to miss their special trip. I know now that they were content just to get to visit with one another, as it had been a long time since the last time they had seen each other. Daddy knows how I get when I am in labor. I always think I am not in labor, but he knows differently. He told me to call my support team, and i hemmed and hawed. Finally I let grandma Marcia know to come on over, as well as Josie and Wendy. I told them they might just be coming to hang out. They thought that was fine. Both Josie and Wendy had built in childcare, as it was Saturday, so they didn't care. Everyone puttered around, cleaning my house with me. We even pinned diapers together that I was working on sewing. We sent Isaac, Levi and Saraiah to grandma Diane and Grandpa Rod's house. Somehow, in my pregnant forgetfulness, I had forgotten to give them their copy of the birth plan, though we had discussed that they would watch the kids while you were born. I was surprised to find that Grandma Diane didn't have a clue that we were planning to have you at home! She and grandpa drove by me and my "entourage" were walking to get contractions going. She asked "aren't you going to the midwife yet?" She knew I had fast births. She was shocked to hear that we weren't going anywhere! I felt so badly that I hadn't told her. I thought I had!
Then we let Amy, my friend and Charlotte's assistant, know what was going on. She had a 2 day check to do in Snohomish, and we were trying to decide whether she should come over to strip my membranes (which is a way of encouraging labor) or not. We decided it was best we have her come afterwards, in case I really got going fast. Aunty Emma finished up work and came on over. Everything was so well orchestrated, it seemed to good to be true. I see now that it was God's great timing!
We went on more walks to encourage the labor, because it was slowing down when I'd sit. Eva and Grandma Marcia kept track of contractions, with eva drawing funny illustrations on the paper. You can see the paper in your baby book. We used Saraiah's way of talking about things, and designated contractions "mommy ones," "daddy ones, "baby ones" or "new ones." Auntie Josie chanted "Walk it out" to help me walk out contractions in a funny way. I guess they say this on the TV show "Dancing with the stars" when people get eliminated. Wendy sang pretty songs. Everyone held me alternatingly during contractions. Contractions were very intense on walks, so much so that Josie encouraged Charlotte to come and check how dilated I was. We had done three walks by now. Charlotte came at about 4:00 and checked me. I was the same i had been a week before-- 2 1/2 cm! Oh dear. I was ready to give up, because i didn't want you to be born if you weren't ready. However, I told myself it was going to be the last time I would put myself through the physical and emotional work of trying to keep labor going if it wasn't real. I told everyone that if nothing happened after my membranes were stripped and we went walking for an hour, I would be done, and i would go to bed. I was very tired and getting a little grouchy. Charlotte told me that sometimes we can torture ourselves keeping labor going when it's not ready to happen.
So Heather, Charlotte's assistant and Amy's friend, stripped my membranes and we went on one last walk. This went from 4:48 to 5:28 pm. The contractions were two and three minutes apart and varied between 30 seconds to almost a minute in length. I knew that when contractions get longer, stronger and closer together, that it is true labor. But I would not believe it. When we got back, i asked Heather to check me again, but contractions were so intense it took a long time for me to get to the bed to be checked! When I finally go there, she checked me, and smiled at me, saying that I was a 5 and could stretch to much more. She told me "You're going to have a baby today!" I started to cry, because I truly hadn't believed it would happen. I still refused to totally believe until Charlotte came and told me herself. I knew she was more stingy in her measurements than other midwives. Things were getting a lot more intense, and someone must have called Charlotte. I noticed at 6:24 pm that it felt like "real" contractions. I was finally admitting to myself that you were about to be born!
Charlotte arrived at 6:55 and she and her assistants were unpacking everything! There was an oxygen tank and the bed was made with a plastic shower curtain under it. The birth kit was pulled out. All their equipment was set up! Charlotte checked me. I asked if i was in labor, and everyone laughed, and she told me I was. She said the cervix was back, but that if she pulled it forward, you'd probably come fast. I said she could, and as she did, I said that it actually felt good to have her do that. She said she had never in her life had a woman say that, because it's normally so painful. It was, but I knew it would help you to come, so it felt good to have progress. She said there was a bulging water bag, and that it was almost going to pop in her face. She asked if she could pop it, and said that you'd likely come soon after that. She popped it, and soon I was pushing and pushing. It was too intense for Eva at this point, so she went out for a little, and after three or four big pushes, your head crowned. I screamed because I could feel the burning sensation, and because I wanted to keep pushing so that you wouldn't go back in! I don't think you would have, but I kept on pushing, and Eva and Grandma came back in just as your head and hand were born. Josie yelled, "you're having a baby, Angie!" and your head came out with the cord wrapped twice around the neck and once around the hand. The cord was loose, and that's why your heartrate was great, and there had been no indication of the cord being around the neck. Your uncle danny had been hearing all of this from the other room, and he said it was so wonderful, it gave him goosebumps! The rest of your body slid out easily. We saw that you were a girl. I can't remember who cut your cord. Your cry was really healthy, and I couldn't wait to hold you. I held you skin to skin with me right away, while your cord still pulsed. You were beautiful. I loved you even more that moment because i knew you were real. A pregnancy had given way to a baby! You had been a baby all along, and I finally got to meet you. I was elated.
I kept asking everyone to check my bleeding, because I had bled a lot with Saraiah. They were all surprised at how little I bled! My placenta was relatively small, so that the wound inside me was smaller than average. Also, you took to nursing immediately, and helped shrink the uterus. I started shaking all over because the adrenaline that normally kicks into gear in labor didn't have time to kick in until afterwards. People had to hold down my legs! You were adorable and your mouth was so big when you cried. You had lots of brown hair and were so cute! You were tiny..smaller than any of your siblings had been. You were 6lbs 13 oz. I had guessed 6 1/2 lbs, so I was close. You were 19.5 inches long, your head was 14.25 inches and your chest was 12.25 inches. Charlotte said you probably were a Sept. 12 due date because of all the white vernix and the difference in size between your head and chest. Your head even looked big. Your placenta was healthy except that it had a few dead spots on it, so it was still probably good that you were born when you were. We all cried and your daddy held you. Your brothers and sisters came in to meet you, and Auntie Josie let them hold you while I went to the bathroom for the first time since you were born. She explained to Levi that I had a scratch inside me, and that he needed to take care of me so my scratch could get better. Today, at 5.5 weeks postpartum, he still prays for my healing. He used to pray for my scratch to get better, then my bleeding mostly stopped, and now he prays for my uterus to go back where it's supposed to, since it's low. He prayed for the first time for Jesus to come into his heart while we were sitting on the recliner one day with you talking about Jesus. Ever since then, he prays all the time. His demeanor seems even more peaceful. You were there when he got Jesus in his heart!
Maia, you are a blessing. We love you dearly, and you are well prayed for. Auntie Josie and Great Aunt Carla held a baby blessing shower for you, where guests each prayed for a special character attribute, or aspect of your life. I cried because it was so beautiful. You are a masterpiece and are everything I could ever have hoped. You have helped complete me as a mommy. You just smiled today one of your first real smiles. I thought, what a sweet and special thing this is, that God created you to smile, to reward me so immensely in such a simple way. I pray that you will grow wise and strong and will trust in Jesus every step of your life. Thank you God for Maia Jo Donnelson!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Maia the bee

All of our kids have had a little song I sing to them with their name in it... it's usually something random, like "Levi, Levi Donnelson, King of the wild frontier." and with Saraiah it was "Saraiah Jean, she is the queen of everything, Saraiah Jean." With Maia, I think it's going to have to be the intro from this cartoon from my childhood, "Maya, maya the bee!"

Some pics of me and maia

These are photos of me and maia and our friend maria, my friend wendy's sweet little girl.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

More Maia pics

This is maia today!

The next pic is Maia a little yesterday or the day before.

Then Maia and the big brothers are out to save the day!
This was maia's first carseat ride.

Baby Maia Jo

Baby Maia made her debut on Saturday, August 30. This was quite appropriate, as it was labor day weekend, and her two big brothers were born on the 30th of November and June, and her daddy and I were married on May 30th!
Here's the text to her announcement email. . . .

> Subject: Baby Maia has arrived!
> Hi Friends and Family!
> The newest member of the Donnelson Family has just arrived! Maia Jo is her name. Maia means "mother" or "great one." Jo is my mom's middle name, and comes from the name Josephine, meaning God Shall Increase. We figure this is appropriate since she makes baby number five, making the female contingent win the tie breaker in our household. She is beautiful, and was our first born at home. She was born 4 days early, and is the littlest of all of our babies at 6 lbs 13 oz. She is 19.5 inches long and has Brandon's nose and light brown hair. A photo is attached from today, at 2 days old. Her life in the womb, her birth and her new little life are all miracles covered in prayer the whole way. Everything has gone really well so far and we would love all your continued prayers. She was born Saturday, August 30 at 7:45 pm after a long day of very early labor. The labor finally kicked over into active labor in the hour or 2 before she was born. Needless to say, after working all day to keep labor going and not much happen I was surprised to hear "You're going to have a baby today!" And indeed we do! We will post more photos on my blog listed below when the dust settles a little, so check in now and again!
> Love,
> Angie, writing for the Donnelsons who include
> Brandon, Eva, Isaac, Levi, Saraiah and now Maia!

The picture below is of Eva and Isaac in La Conner, where we went the day before Maia was born. We showed great Grandpa Don and his wonderful wife Fran around. What a wonderful thing that they got to be here and see baby Maia too. They had driven out so they could see my dad while mom and dad are here visiting.

This is me walking on one of the 3 long walks I went on with my labor "entourage." I'm smiling, so you can see labor was still very early. We could only get contractions to stay while walking. My best friends Josie and Wendy were there. Josie was my doula, Wendy was there as a coach too, as well as my mom, my wonderful sister in law, Emma and of course Eva, our oldest daughter. Eva and mom were the time keepers, keeping track of the length and frequency of contractions.

The next photo is of Maia's great grandpa Don Kirk and Fran, his lovely wife.

Levi is a big brother one more time!
He noticed "maia has red teeth!" Then we got to explain that babies are born without teeth, and grow them when they need them.

Dad holds both the little girls.

The next few pictures are of Maia's first day. There's me with her and big sis Eva.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Don't Blink

When you're nine months pregnant, you wake quite a few times in the night. It must be to help prepare the body for the upcoming years of waking with and caring for a young one. I usually wake at least 3 times each night, but last night it must have been more than 5. Each time I awoke, the same country song was in my head. Normally songs only get stuck in my head when I'm awake, but this time, my sleepy brain was playing a broken record of the same Kenny Chesney song.

"Don't blink
Just like that you're six years old and you take a nap and you
Wake up and you're twenty-five and your high school sweetheart becomes your wife
Don't blink
You just might miss your babies growing like mine did."

At first, I was mainly frustrated with myself for having a song in my head that kept waking me up, depriving me of sleep. I woke up a little groggy this morning and shuffled through the morning routine. It was slightly disappointing that the contractions I had yesterday had gone away. Pregnancy was making me uncomfortable, and I was ready to be done with it. Then at lunchtime, I had the song come into my mind again, and I decided maybe I should think a little more about it. I think God can speak through country songs. Although they're sometimes sappy and usually blatantly obvious on the meaning they carry, sometimes that's what I need to hear. The message of this was was clear: I needed to pay attention to life, to savor each moment that would be gone before I knew it. Our lives are just a vapor, but they are a vapor packed with amazing substance.

My mind carried me back ten years. My teenage, carefree years ended abruptly when I found I was pregnant with my beautiful daughter, Eva, and then made the journey into marriage with Brandon. In my last teen year, I grew up more than I had in the previous six. Suddenly, I was the one in charge of another life, plus I needed to learn to submit to a husband's will, when I wasn't even sure yet what mine was. God's will wasn't even in my radar, coming from a secular University and high school. The teen years had been full of questioning God, forgetting about Him, and trying to deny Him. The last teen year, He made himself real to me. Those long six years had brought me to a place where He could be My God, and I could decide for myself that I did need him, and he cared for me. He provided for our little family that year in countless ways, and I grew as my daughter did. Just like that, all that growing and learning I had done came to fruition in my transition into motherhood and marriage. Remembering the tough teen years I had walked through made my transition into adulthood very sweet.

Today, I looked at myself at 29 and knew I was coming to the next big change. Those ten years were filled with nursing, diapers, schooling, timeouts, band-aids, tears, and lots of macaroni and cheese. They were also sweetened by the many occasions God continued to provide miraculously for our family, whether we asked for it or not. We never were without a vehicle, a home, food, friends, or a great church family. All of these were brought to us, sometimes literally to our doorstep. It has been a time of hard growth through my own selfishness and wistfulness for life without so much responsibility. Mostly though, when I look at life 4 children later, expecting the fifth and last, I know God has worked His will in me. I need to be ready to move on, and it's so tough, but mostly, I need to remember all the things this stage of life has meant to me as a child of God.
I am pregnant with the future that this little baby will bring with her. I am also pregnant with the past our family has walked through. In the impending delivery, the two will meet briefly, then part ways. We'll leave our birth room as a maturing family with our newborn, and I will be sure not to blink.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Our "Stay-Cation"

I am 8.5 months pregnant, so going on the church camping trip was not going to happen. We hadn't used our tent yet this summer, so yesterday we had a "Stay-Cation" in our front yard! We pitched our tent, got out the camp chairs, and had a hot-dog roast with my brother and his wife and my in-laws. We had a great time, and when I had to pee at 1Am and 4AM, life was good, because I just had to go inside! Isn't my husband cute? And aren't the kids cute?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Pygora Yarn, cloth diapers, baby booties and baby blanket!

Here's my first skein/hank whatever you call it, of 2 ply pygora yarn. I have made balls of yarn and knitted them, but this is the first skein. I had to make the ball into this skein to enter it in the fair. I got 2nd place, because there wasn't enough twist, but I thought it was pretty cool to get that for the first skein I've made. It took all year for me to make on my turkish drop spindle while I waited for the kids during their classes at their homeschool resource school. I didn't work on it everytime, so it took forever! Now i hope I can get it back into a ball so I can use it for knitting. It's supposed to make a hat for eva, but it's a little scratchy!

This is the first set of cloth diapers I made for baby maia. They are the poquito pants home sewing pattern, the first thing I have ever sewn on my own with a pattern!

These are the wet felted baby booties I made for maia. They are very light! I needle felted the blue design on them.

This is the baby blanket I made for maia from an old chenille blanket that had been used by someone as a painting drop cloth, and from an soft blanky Josie's daughter used.

Goat hair dyeing

Here's some goat hair we dyed with jacquard acid dyes. First you see the freshly picked, cleaned and washed pygora fiber. Then you see it dyed in all its glory!

Pregnant photo shoot pics

Josie, my friend, cousin, sister, took these photos, and I edited them in picasa. She actually took the last pics that are black and white with the yellow flower exactly like that, because she can grab colors with her camera! cool!

some of the latest creations...

A needle felted apple, a princess hat and tie dyed cloth diapers! The kids helped a lot with the diapers. We did it at a 4H meeting.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Dreams are what life's really all about!

They say that you work through the problems of your day in your dreams. I love pregnancy because it's the one time in my life when I actually remember my dreams. This is mainly because 3 times nightly, my slumber is interrupted for potty breaks. The last three nights, I have had dreams too vivid and funny not to record somewhere, so you my loyal blog site, will be their permanent record.
Nightmares and their aftermath had left me dragging through each day for a whole week. Normally I am blissfully unaware of what happens in my REM sleep, but, I'm pregnant. I would wake to go and pee, and go to sleep, only to continue with my dreams playing out all of my fears. At 2:30 one morning I woke for that night's second pee stop with my heart racing, and I couldn't stand it any more. My latest dream was the first to include the baby we are expecting. Brandon and I walked with all of our children along and endless coast somewhere in Hawaii. Brandon held a sweet little white bundle of a baby. We walked past seeing pool after pool, ending up at a sandy beach. Soon, waves started to rise, growing larger every second. Having grown up swimming in the ocean, I knew that in order to avoid being pounded into the sand, you needed to dive under them. I yelled unheard instructions to the family, and soon everyone was covered by the waves. Somehow, everyone survived the onslaught, and I woke up breathless. I decided to read my bible so that I wouldn't have the memory of that dream in my mind. It comforted me, but I knew I had to do something to stop these dreams so that I could rest. Prayer always works for me when I'm desperate, so I prayed for angels to be around our home, and for God to protect my dreams, so that I could rest and the enemy would leave us alone. I was desperate to sleep soundly.
My prayers were answered! When I awoke for my 3rd pee at 5:30AM the next day, I remembered being in Germany in my dream. I was there with my whole family to get a hearing or vision test. It was very frustrating to be wasting vacation time doing this, and I was sad realize we'd be heading home to the US without having seen anything. The German nurse gave me a cursory examination and ignored the rest of my family. We were done. Then I looked at my newborn, and realized that it was a boy! I had been told i was having a girl. This was very upsetting news, because i had sewn all pink cloth diapers for the baby. Not only was he a boy, but he had full sized adult teeth that looked like his dad's! I reassured myself that some babies are born with teeth, they disappear and then come back later when it's more appropriate. I also was calling him Liam, because he looked exactly like my friend's son. I could not for the life of me remember what we had named him. I drove with my family to the airport a very perturbed person.
The next night was the same way. I was in a hospital waiting for my husband, who was having a caesarean section because he had carried our baby in his belly. I asked the nurse how that works, since men don't have a uterus. She said, " Oh, it's fine, the baby just wraps around their heart." That was a strange and dangerous sounding situation, but I didn't argue with her. I walked into the recovery room to hear my husband discussing the reason for his C-Section. He didn't want to go through labor because of his anxiety, so he had opted for a simpler solution. I walked into the next room, where our baby lay in an isolette, all cute and lonely. A doctor sat in the corner. I noticed a tell tale shape in my baby's eyes, and commented to the doctor, He's a Down Syndrome baby, isn't he? His eyes are different, and his genitals are different...that's why he looked like a girl on the ultrasound! (where this idea came from, I don't know) The doctor praised my good eye, and I happily snuggled my baby. I wondered if he would respond to infant potty training, as did babies without the struggle of Downs. Happily, when I held him over the potty there and made the "pssss" sound, he peed, then pooped out all of his meconium. A nearby nurse was very impressed.
I am thankful that my dreams have developed into ones that deal with my fears in a humorous way. It's a lot easier way to wake up, and I've had so much more energy. My continuous prayer now, is "God, protect my dreams!"

My Most Embarrassing Moment in Middle or High School

Well, it's been a month since my last writer's group meeting. The title of this blog post is the writing prompt for this month. I usually bring things to writer's group that I've written the day of writer's group! I think I missed one meeting since the last blog post. How's that for accountability? At least I write maybe once a month! I wrote a blurb about Brandon's Habit Trainer for the last writer's group meeting. Brandon needed a "How it works" page for the site, and I had a lot of fun writing it. I've been busy doing end of the school year wrap up, summer activities, and preparations for Maia Jo, our baby who's due September 3. Lately, Baby Thoughts are beginning to consume my being, since Maia is coming in less than 8 weeks! I think I'd like to write about the silly dreams I've been having, but I want to write the writing prompt first.
Truly embarrassing moments are ones you would prefer to completely wipe from your consciousness. Maybe that's why I can't remember many from my middle school and high school years. I tend to be an awkward sort of gal, so I think I've developed a healthy tolerance for embarrassment. As a shy, young elementary aged girl, I encountered embarrassing moments daily. As I've matured, I've noticed my these tragedies have naturally lessened. Maybe that's a natural part of growing up or just that some healthy ego callouses have had time to develop.

There are two times in my teenage years that I was mortally embarrassed. Beyond that, I just had the weekly "foot-in-your-mouth" comments I always wished were boomerangs I could bring back to me. To have true embarrassment you must endure an event you most likely never would have foreseen. You are also required to have an audience of people paying direct attention to you, preferably large. Can you be embarrassed when you're all by yourself? Maybe. But I think this question ranks in the level of "If a tree falls in a forest all alone, does it make a sound?"
I grew up in Hawaii, and swam at the beach with friends and family often on weekends. I was a late bloomer, and started my period when I was in 8th grade. I didn't know how to tell when it was coming, and therefore was never prepared. The most embarrassing moment for me in middle school fell on that fateful first day of one of my early menses. I was blessed to never get debilitating Midol-style cramps, and had decided to wear some cute white shorts over my swimsuit that day. I frolicked across the beach thinking people were admiring me in my lovely attire. Heads turned as I walked by, and I was flattered. I didn't know I was much to look at, but I guess I was! Pretty soon, a friend came up to me and told me "I think you have your period...." The pedestal i was pirouetting on crumbled in seconds as I looked at the big red spot on my pristine shorts. Somehow I made it to the bathroom and got a hold of the right equipment, slinking into the background for the rest of that beach day. In retrospect, I am sure no one was disgusted by my experience...half the population is female, and has, or someday will experience the joy of that time of the month. Periods are private and largely ignored in larger society. I think that's where my feelings came from. I remember seeing commercials for tampons and douches that made periods equivalent to a peaceful run through wild flowers... as long as you had the right product. Well, I found out what happens when you don't have the right product at the right time! I am sure there were other girls or women who watched me that day, and recalled that moment as they endured their own similar moments. Maybe I helped them. Maybe they said...well, at least it wasn't as bad as what happened to her!
My second moment of sheepishness happened on a statewide TV broadcast. I liked schoolwork, and had gotten very good at speaking German. Being a quiet person, I was a little perturbed at having such an impractical gift. I was very determined, however, to go to college so I could figure out what I was good at. What can shy people do for a living? The University of Puget Sound was going to be the place I would discover the path for my life. Unfortunately, it was an expensive place to learn this lesson, and being from a family of average income, I needed to help with the costs by getting lots of scholarship money. There was a scholarship program that gave rewards to students who excelled in specific areas like Mathematics, Science, and Foreign Language. I had been disqualified for a high school German speech competition because the judges believed I was a native German speaker. I though that I might actually be able to compete for this scholarship, so I made my portfolio, trying hard to look like a person whose life revolved around speaking the German language. I must have succeeded, because I was chosen as a finalist in the competition. There were only 2 other people in my category. We were required to do an interview with linguists. After that, we were to find out the winner of the scholarship live on a tv show that would be broadcast to all of Hawaii! Oh dear! On top of that, the event was held on the collossal stage of the Polynesian Cultural Center. Normally, people ate fire and danced impossible looking hulas on that stage, but this time, we, the scholars of Hawaii's schools were the performers. My heart sunk to the level of my belly button as I walked onto the stage. I noticed that the male newscaste named Dan Cook, who was emceeing the show had about 1/4 inch of make-up caked on his face. Well, at least he'd look good, I guessed. I chalked up my lack of stage makeup to youthfulness, and stepped up on to the platforms made for us. Many awards were given, and soon it was time for the foreign language award. Mr. Cook built up to the moment by telling all the wonderful things he could about the winner before announcing their name. He started vague, and got more specific, so that it was obvious to the winner that they'd be stepping forward. As he worked his way down the list for our winner, I started to think it might be me! Pretty soon, he said, "Born in American Samoa...." and I knew it had to be me! Who else could be born there? So i went ahead and stepped forward...quickly halted by quiet snickers, and an awkward silence from the microphone. He had not said my name! I stumbled awkwardly backwards and up to my rightful spot and waited, praying that I really was the one to win. Gosh, what if it was someone else???? Soon, my name was said, and I breathed again. I stumbled up to receive the large block of wood that was to be my lifelong reminder of this day. Soon, I realized I had won, and, yahoo, that meant money for college, and a smile graced my face. Later, I discovered that my husband, who I had not yet met, had watched me at that very moment. He says he thought I was cute. He couldn't have remembered me unless I had my embarassing moment, and so I am thankful for that sweet connection we have.
Today, I am happy to be married, and to have children. I find it's so much easier to live through the less graceful times when you know you don't have to impress anyone. My husband knows i pass gas, and laughs with me when I do goofy things. My kids do odd things all the time, but they make me smile and wrinkle my forehead more than anything else. I've helped create a family, and am no longer the center of my own world. It's a refreshing feeling!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

freedom from fear

I got to hear a speaker at Warm Beach Camp talk about freedom from fear tonight, and am glad I went. I have lived with fear and worry all my life...fear of eternity. I know, even though I'm a Christian, forever is just not something to be grasped. Fear of failure. Fear of not looking pretty. Fear of being dorky. Fear of losing loved ones. Fear of the Unknown. Lately, fear of the unknown has consumed my being. I let it do that. It was my job to worry about the unknown for my family, and do my darndest to figure out how to be prepared to protect them from unknown harms that might never happen. Or that might happen, but I have no control over. Losing our home was the most recent fear. There was nothing else I could control in our situation, and I wasn't quite ready to really give it over to God, so I did what I thought was best, and fretted about how to get the house on the market. Fiscally, it is probably the most sound decision to have the house on the market. Emotionally, it made me into a basket case. It was affecting my health, the kids' schooling and overall family well being. Brandon finally saw this the week before we were to put the place on the market. And I finally saw that I had been fighting him all along. No wonder it was so hard. So we are not selling the house, and Brandon's bearing the weight of that burden and the consequences that come with it. And he is ok with it. I know it's a heavy burden to bear, and I was trying to save him from that. But now that I have really given it over to him, I am really giving in over to God. Because God can do great things in hard times. One of the verses tonight the speaker shared was when Jesus said "In this world you will have trouble. Fear not, for I have overcome the world." So God's bigger than the worries, and as my good friend told me... in the occasion of really awfully hard times, it's nowhere near as hard as in your fears. In your fears, God is not with you. In your trials, he walks beside you.
After I grieved the loss of my project of protecting my husband from his burdens, it finally sunk in. Accepting his decision to carry this weight freed me from it. I am free from the heavy weight of fear that has pushed and sunk me deeper and deeper in to despair. I am free to trust that God will take care of me and my children through my husband, because there is absolutely, positively nothing else I can do. All I can do is lift my arms up like a little child and pray that He will carry me. And He is. I am able to think about next year, with far less anxiety. There are pangs of it when I try to make decisions about schooling and the birth of our last child, and which goats to sell off, I have no choice but to try to speculate what the next year might bring, and hope my decision jives with what actually happens. The strangest thing is, that people have been telling me they are praying for me in my situation, and I say thank you, but I realize my prayers have already been answered. I have been given the opportunity to trust, and to be released from fear, and it is actually happening. I know it will be tough again soon, so I welcome the prayers, and know I need them to continue, but for this time I will rest in the break the Lord has given me. I will enjoy the second half of my pregnancy and the last few months of the school year. I will listen to my children read to me, and I will read to them. I will sing them songs and do crafts with them. I will hug them for a long time. I will hug my husband extra long, knowing that I need to be in constant vigilant prayer for him as he carries our family's torch and leads us with God's help. I will love my husband more than ever before.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

How to be married to a dreamer and survive. . . .

It was about the third week I had poured into painting the interior of our 2600 square foot home. I was sleep deprived, crabby, very pregnant, and generally feeling sorry for myself. Homeschooling had fallen to the wayside, with just the three "Rs" getting covered, and in the last week the kids had done nothing but watch videos while I fumed over paint fumes, coming out occasionally to surprise them with my mood of the moment. Would I explode because there was diahhrea all over my 2 year old's bed, carpet, and body? Or would I be eager to take a break and sit down to read them a story or fix them a snack. Stress was mounting, and I needed a scapegoat. I decided my husband was the perfect one. We had to sell our home because there wasn't money coming in to pay the bills. My husband was embarking on making his latest dream a reality. And I was becoming too familiar with why that old phrase is so true: "Ain't momma happy, ain't nobody happy."
To understand why I was being insane, painting an entire house over a three week period, in the wet, cool Pacific Northwest spring, in the culmination of the school year, you must know more about my life. I am married to a dreamer. I am a pragmatist, realist, and all too often a pessimist, but the man I fell in love with is a man with visons. He sees possiblility and potential where for me loom risk and failure. I knew this when I married him, and stood at the altar on our wedding day, giddy, and trying to grasp the sobering thought--this was for the rest of my life! I had lived in the same home all of my life from the age of two and my parents had kept the same jobs all this time. My new husband couldn't count the business ventures and moves his family had cycled through. He was exciting, daring and fun, and I was ready for the ride.
I didn't know that the next few years of our lives would involve five moves, two new babies and about six jobs or business ventures for my husband. He was always looking to the the new and better idea. He usually succeeded at everything he did, easily surpassing his coworkers in skill in a short amount of time. I found soon that he was a conquerer! Once he had conquered a job, or a business didn't go exactly according to his vision, he moved on, without a qualm to the next thing. He was always more excited and optimistic each step of the way. I couldn't believe it! Here I had thought I'd live in the same house, the same town, the same state, and have my husband come home at the same time every day, and we'd have the perfect cookie cutter life. Little did I know what I had signed up for, and what growing God had in store for me through it!
There is a book called "Sacred Marriage." The driving point behind the book is that God intends marriage to be a way for us to grow more grow closer to being the people we were created to be when he made us in His image. It was not until I read this book that I realized that the point of being married wasn't to have the perfect predictable life. It was to live that life joined to my husband and growing with Him into the woman God wanted me to be.
My personal school of marriage was perfectly designed for me. I had married a man in God's own image! He was a man after God's own heart. God was the first dreamer. He had big plans for us, and created us to be wonderful companions and friends to Him. But he knew we had to be given a choice. We could not be forced into being His servants. We needed to choose it. When I married my husband, I could not be forced to follow his dreams. I had to choose to be the helper God intended me to be. Only then could I understand the joy that comes from marriage. Rather than thinking about what my husband could do better, how he could downsize his visions, I could pray for him. There is power in prayer, because God is almighty, and ultimately in charge. I could pray that God could work in my husband's visions. If I could not relate to my husband's dreamy ideas, I knew God could. He dreamed us up. He made the world. He made the universe! He had to dream bigger than any plan my husband could come up with, and he could work in ANY idea my husband had, no matter how hairbrained it seemed. In one of our homeschool days, we were listening to a bible verse cd, and God spoke to me in one of the verses.. "Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established." I cried. Could it be that I could commit my husband's ideas and work to Jesus, and somehow things would still work out for good? I could pray for him, that he could commit his work to the Lord, and maybe he would experience more success. I decided to do this.
I didn't know that such pain would come with the decision to trust that God would work in my husband's plans. He left his work in real estate to follow his dream of computer work. Finances were tight. He developed bad bronchitis, which led to severe asthma and frightening panic attacks that took us to the ER twice. He was humbled and shaken, and I had to be strong. I had to be the one to help give him hope, where he saw none, and I had to depend on God to give me that hope. Slowly God spoke to him and he crawled out of his despair. He began to work on a computer project that would help people draw nearer to God through accountability. God was establishing my husband's plans according to His will! It was beautiful to see the revival in my husband, and I rejoiced. But meanwhile, our finances were crumbling due to optimistic and sometimes rash decisions made over the previous four years during times of plenty when we didn't quite follow God.
My dream world I was beginning to finally get to live in, where I homeschooled, gardened, cared for animals and spun yarn was crumbling for my eyes. My dear church friends and beloved prayer group gals would be gone if we had to move far away. I demanded my husband find a job, but he wasn't ready. He was still working on his dream. So i prayed daily, and still do, that I can accept that God will work in the uncertainty of our lives. He knows that my husband has a dream. Just as the first protestants, abolitionists, suffragists, and prolifers had. And He wants to bring it to life. But it will be in His time. And it will be according to His design. He has done a great work in my husband, and a greater work in me, learning to trust my husband, but ultimately learning to trust in God.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The Essence of the Job of Motherhood

When you're a mom, you have realizations. They happen at the strangest times...while peeling a smashed fruit snack from your daughter's coat, or while reminding your your son, "No, we do not push the off button on the Wal-Mart automatic self check out computer." My most earth shattering one is one I feel all moms to be should be prepared for, and it happened during the weekly trip to the grocery store. The following is a real time play by play of the events of that fateful afternoon

I guide each of my four children out of the car, and not into the parking lot to be hit. We pass the coin operated toys and I convince all children that those aren't fun to ride anyway. Then I guide them away from the shopping cart we moms love to hate...the one that is a CAR. I think to myself that if they are trying to make our jobs easier, make the thing into a BUS already. We pass the well meaning people reminding me that I do indeed have my hands full, as I push more kids than groceries along in my trusty cart. The one in the front stands up, as I am comparing prices of breakfast cereal, and I save her from falling on her head in the nick of time. We fill our cart, and head over to the free cookies at the bakery, when suddenly we realize the child who was walking with us is no longer. I frantically wheel all kids around as we call for the missing child. He is found staring at the Spongebob macaroni and cheese box, wondering why we don't get THAT one. Relieved, I scoop him up into the cart with the other two youngest, and push the cart with all my mommy bicep power. We head back to the cookies, and I get one too, and we make a beeline to the checkout. Of course the checkout line is overrun with sweet nothings calling out to the children's cavities, “let us grow you, let us help you prevail!!!” What child can resist the call of these sirens? Little hands reach out to grab the Hubba Bubba, asking, “Please can we have one?" while deft mommy and older sister hands sweep little hands away. Out to the car again. All little ones are safely contained until they make it to the haven of the vehicle. After some squeezing and stepping on fingers and toes, all kids finally make it into carseats. I breathe a happy sigh of relief as the thought comes to me.

When you are a mom, 98% of your job is herding. Yes. Herding, as in a shepherdess gently caring for her sheep. Or maybe not always so gently, but certainly full of concern, care and love. We do the countless tiny things to preserve the lives and well being of these little ones entrusted to our care. Because they need us, and they want us to guide them. I know I wish I had been prepared for this before I had my first child.

The job of herding doesn't just apply to moms with more than one child. It starts with the first, then grows. When the first child becomes mobile, you notice that you no longer do that purposeful career-woman look-straight-ahead-walk. You find yourself analyzing where your little one might hide or wander to, or what she might pick up to eat. You notice yourself playing out the worst calamities in your mind, and then making every effort to prevent them from coming to life. Irons get put in the back of your closet. Knives are kept at the back of your tall cupboard. Protecting your children's innocence becomes a priority. You want good food for their minds. You guide your children's eyes from the terrible horror movie covers right at their eye level as you try to rent a family movie. You teach your children to be cautious around strangers, and are cautious even around people you know. You find it hard to let someone else do your job, even if it's for a 2 hour movie. You guard your children like no one else can.

When more children come along, your care does not diminish, but grows to fit each child, This is when your herding job gets more complicated. You are forced to multitask, predicting what each child's whim might compel them to do at any given time. Then you must evaluate whether action has to be taken on any of these presupposed whims. If the window is left open, will my four year old try to fly from it? If the wading pool is accidently left out in cold weather, how many children will decide to swim in it? If the lost pitbull comes to visit our house, which child will want to pet it, and how do I teach the child to be cautious, but not irrationally fearful? When one child is missing, you find you depend on the oldest to be like the sheepdog, carefully guarding those left behind until you find the lost child and rejoice. You research where predators live in your town, and are careful to do your best to protect your children, and to teach them how to be safe. You teach your children which foods are nourishing to their bodies and which will make them sick if they gorge themselves on them. You teach them to do things in moderation, and try to explain why it doesn't always pay to follow the crowd.

We pour our souls into the care of our children, often going cold and hungry merely because we forget to put on our coat or eat a bite of lunch. We do this without monetary compensation. We do it because it is who we are, and what we were made for. The moment we deliver that first child into the light of day, we begin that job. We do this work because we love it, and because we know that is means something. If we were not doing it, who would? We can't imagine, and so we herd. We train our children to respect authority, and show them that we are there to guide them through life. We make mistakes, and learn painfully from them. We always come out of trials with greater respect for the responsibility and joy that is motherhood. When you are a mother, you are the ultimate sheperdess. And you are loved for it.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Christmas knitting projects

Here are four hats I made for four of the cutest kiddos I know. (beside my own kids of course!) Don;t Eva and Isaac look so cat-in-the-hat-ish???

The ones with ears are a "bear hat" and a "Shrek hat." They were for my friend Josie's twin babies who are 8 or 9 months old. I do think the bear hat looks more like a chipmunk hat, though. I thought the bear hat was perfect for the boy who got it, because his name is Barrett! And the Shrek hat is perfect for Liam, the boy who got it, because it is green and his name is Irish and also he's got a cute personality that goes along with Shrek. No, he is not an ogre. he is very adorable. He is just spunky!
The other two hats are for their older sister and brother. The pink hat came with a fun blue scarf, and Sienna went "ooooohhhhh!" when she opened it. That's just the reaction that's fun to get when someone opens a gift!