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, September 30, 2010

Sex Talk and other such nonsense

I am really tired tonight. I want to tell all of the funny and touching things that have happened this week, but I just haven't got the strength in me after two hours of Jonah fussing and crying. But here is what I might have talked about...

About how a conversation about the tooth fairy somehow turned into a sex talk. It was so funny, the boys and I were laughing our heads off. It was the best sex talk ever, I think.

About Tessa being a midwife to her stuffed unicorn. It gave birth to about six Pretty Ponies. She wore imaginary gloves.

About learning how to eat while still avoiding dairy, gluten, soy, nuts, eggs, citrus,, gosh, there must be more, but I am too busy enjoying this lovely rice cake to remember.

About how Robin showed up with hamburgers that were bun-free, mayo-free and cheese free, and wrapped in lettuce. She just felt like she should come over. I didn't know why until that evening, when my nerves were shot and I would have fallen apart, but I was able to look at the laundry I got folded while she held Jonah, and I didn't feel like crying anymore.

About how in one tiny week, Jonah as learned to push up on his sweet little feet, reach up and bonk my face repeatedly with his little fist, and coo. It was gorgeous.

About how I was alone for three nights while my hubby and kids went to LA to go to a wedding. Then a noisy critter found it's way into our bedroom wall and kept me up until 3AM.

About how Guy fibbed to me and told me he was heading home from LA and would be here by Sunday night, and then surprised me by walking into church with my kidlets.

About going shopping for the first time as a family of seven. Somebody shoot me. Please.

And about being there for my hubby after a hard day. It's the least I could do after he has been here for me over and over this year.

What a week.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ethan Day

Old hat. Old pro. Been there, done that.

These are some of the things that have been said by folks in reference to the fact that I am now the mother of a fifth child. At first I thought it was just what people say instead of “Holy crap, woman, are you trying to populate your own island?” I would smile and pretend it was true, that I honestly knew what I was doing, and then I thought about it and realized it was true. I kinda do know what I am doing. It’s like stepping into a time machine when I think back 13 years to when Ethan was a tiny babe, to my fear, frustration, and inexperience. I remember him crying all evening, and bouncing him in an unnatural way, not really knowing what to do. I was going through the mommy motions, but I had a lot to learn.

And it was a really huge learning curve. In fact, Ethan believes that since I made all my mistakes on him that we should celebrate “Ethan Day”, where his siblings give him thank you presents for all they have benefited from by me screwing up on him so much.

So (now don't judge me) it is actually sort of good that Jonah is a “fussy baby”. I think if he weren’t, I might easily switch to auto pilot. I first noticed the tendency to tune-out a little in the first few days after Jonah was born (back before the “fussy” set in). It wasn’t that I wanted to ignore him, it’s just that nursing and tending a baby are as comfortable for me as an old pair of maternity pants (I am not back into pre-preggie clothes yet). I can latch a baby in the dark, I can change a diaper on my lap, I can nurse a baby in my sleep and not even know I have done it. I can do dishes, help with homework, fold laundry, and talk on the phone, all with the baby snoozing in a sling on my chest. I have been known to ask Guy in a panic, "Where's the baby!?", only to have him say, "Under your nose."

So, though I am sad that Jonah is hurting, I am finding myself so present for him. When he fusses, I want to sit in the rocker and whisper lovingly in his ear. When he squirms in a wet diaper, I get a kick out of changing him (three times in 20 minutes!). The other day as we got ready to leave, he emptied his belly in a giant splash on the floor (and my legs, and the sling, diaper bag, keys, sandals…). I laughed out loud, and took him to the bathroom where he properly finished the job just inches away from the sink, all over the rug and cabinet door. It was awesome.

I don't even mind our 2AM dances as I sing in his ear to put him to sleep.

Yeah, maybe we should celebrate Ethan Day, and give little gifts of gratitude to Adam, Ellie and Tessa for giving me the chance to hone my mama-skills. I'm not glad Jonah is uncomfortable, but what a blessing that I know how to help him, and can do it with some patience and humor.

Maybe I'll just send Ethan a thank you card. After all, we have yet to traverse the teen-age years. I have lots more mistakes to make!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Alone with Ellie

So, I'm alone with Ellie for the afternoon.
The whole afternoon.
One long, long afternoon.
Yeah, so it turns out that I am not accustomed to being one on one with the child.
I usually have Tessa as a buffer.
Or one of the boys to keep her occupied with tattling, fighting or (as they constantly complain), "being annoying".
She happens to talk a lot.
Did I say a lot?
Allow me to re-phrase that.
Like constantly, nonstop, as in chatterbox-on-speed.
I got to hear every detail of her day.
Did I say detail?
I meant micro-detail.
I heard about her skinned elbow, but somehow her story started out with her and some boy not finding a frizbee and playing with a deflated ball instead. The ball was red, in case you wondered.
Of course you did.
At some point this evening, she actually stopped talking and decided she wanted to have a conversation. She cocked her head to the side, put a hand on her hip, and very seriously said,
"So, Mom. You're 28 years old now."
"Yup," I said trying not to giggle. "I'm gettin' old."
(I have been telling the kids for a few years that I am 27. The boys know it is a joke, but they also don't know how old I really am. When my birthday came last week, I said something about being 27 and Ellie corrected me. "No, Mom, you're 28 now!")
"You're not gettin' old, Mom." She said with consolation. "But Dad is. His hair is getting really white."
"Yeah, Dad is, like, a hundred." I said. She doesn't know I dye my hair.
(Shhhh. Don't tell)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A letter from Julean

Photo taken circa 1994. I was seven.

This is Julean. She is my sister-in-law, or my "sister-in-love" as a friend of mine calls it. On my birthday she paid a sweet tribute to me, as is her tradition, by writing a post about me and how we met on her blog (sadly it is a private blog, but I wish it were not because she is a gifted writer and an intuitive, inspired and inspiring person).

We met one day while on our missions in Costa Rica, when we lucked out being in the same place at the same time. I remember feeling that day like my heart had found a little piece of itself that I hadn't known was missing. Soon we would be made companions, and together we were a force to be reckoned with. We worked hard, laughed gobs, and had so many amazing experiences.

Back in the good ol' US of A, we learned that God had plopped us together in a mosquito-infested, third world country just so that she could meet and marry my brother. So that made us family, which is even better.

Oh, and she really gets along great with my hubby, which is even mucho mas mejor... um, that is "lots more better". Gotta love Spanish.

Here is a letter she sent to Guy the other day after reading about my b-day dinner:

Dear Guy,

You are a gem...for my next birthday, I have two wishes.

Number one, I wish you would come to my house and cook a mouth-watering masterpiece for me!!!

And number two, bring that delicious baby so I can nuzzle his cheeks and neck while you cook and in between bites of said culinary masterpiece, of course.

That's all I want. Those are my birthday wishes.

Thanking you in advance,


(She lives on the other coast, making this wish a little more challenging!)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Jonah has been battling some minor complications of mortality, truly minor on the list of things that can be wrong with a baby. In fact, when Ethan went through them as a newbie-human, the doctor sent me home with an RX for a chill pill, saying this is normal for a baby. Normal, maybe, but do nothing? Oh, no.

Jonah is wrestling with the notorious “colic”, and a mystery rash of unknown origin. Because I don’t believe in colic, that “some babies are just plain fussy for no apparent reason”, I have been trying to sniff out the cause of his distress. I started two weeks ago by eliminating my favorite food group, dairy (and by favorite, I mean ICE CREAM). I don’t mind not having the sauces, dressings or even cheese, but man, do I miss ice cream. Oh, and by the way, they put dairy in half of EVERYTHING.

Within a week I had also eliminated soy products, hence, there goes the other half of EVERYTHING, including chocolate (Evil, thy name is Soy Lethicin). I decided late last night, after a day of his crying and green diapers, that it is time to go whole-hog and do a full elimination diet. Meanwhile Jonah's tender skin has gone wild with spots that disappear and reappear randomly. At times it has looked like he was on the mend (this is when we take all the cute pictures), and just hours later the rash re-appears, worse than ever. It wasn’t too long before I developed an itchy, bumpy patch on my face, another on my breast. I wondered if they could be related, and headed for my computer. I narrowed it down (via pictures on the Web) to two common, harmless, supposedly self-limiting rashes, and the recommended treatments are “Wait”, and “Wait”. Oh, and guess what the recommended treatment for colic is… yup… wait.

Sorry, I ain’t the waitin' kind’a mama.

The two conditions, rash and tummy trouble, take turns competing for my attention. Tummy trouble wins, hands down, with the shrill, heart wrenching cry it elicits. But the crying infuriates the rash, which becomes hot and stippled, claiming more and more baby terrain by the minute, and more and more of my worry-muscles.

Kind hearted Erin (the gifted photographer-see her site here) who has navigated these waters with her own highly sensitive little girls, has generously become my guide through tummy town. Thanks to her, I have not had to reinvent the dairy-soy-gluten-free wheel, and I have a very sympathetic listening ear (though I cannot bring myself to complain to her, since it would be like complaining of a paper-cut to an amputee). Still there are moments of overwhelm.

Last night as I rocked Jonah, our tears mingling, Guy asked if I would like him to hold Jonah for a while.

“Sure.” I replied, in that I-suppose-so tone.

Then I heard Ellen’s voice in my head; “Ask for what you need” it reminded.

“Actually I would like you to hold me for a while.” I said, almost as quickly as the realization surfaced.

He did.


As Jonah rubbed his face vigorously into my shirt today, I wondered if he, too, was itchy, and wanted a scratch but couldn’t ask for it.

Gosh, wouldn’t it be awful to not be able to ask for what you need?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Happy Belated Birthday (Dinner)!


As most folks know, my Sweetie gives the gift of amazing food to those he loves. I think he might love me most of all, based on his latest culinary concoction. I'm glad our friend Annmarie was in town to sample it all. It's always good to share.

There had not been time on my actual birthday to prepare a birthday feast, so Guy saved it for this past weekend when he could really take the time to do it up right. And boy, did he ever!

Cashew encrusted pork with roasted honey-glazed pears (spiced with cinnamon and cayenne, among other secret ingredients), and served with homemade pear chutney that was to die for. But wait, there’s more! Brown-sugared sweet potatoes and yams, and our favorite veggie, broccoli.

All made with special care to stick within the confines of my dairy and soy-free diet. The magical combinations of sweet and savory, accented by the spices he chose allowed the tenth bite to be as amazing as the first.


Happy birthday to me, baby. Thank you, Guy Alan.

Oh, and for dessert….

We actually had angel food cake topped with strawberries, but it feels like a post wouldn’t be complete without a picture of my lil’ darling, Jonah. Yes, ladies and gents, he has begun smiling on command! Big, peeling grins that go on and on. He even chuckled in his sleep the other day, so I don’t imagine that giggles are too far off. It sure makes up for him spewing down my neck twice today. Lucky for me, my bra was there to catch it all!


Photos by Annmarie Hall

Friday, September 17, 2010

Quote of the week

"Jesus is de boss of Mama."
- Tessa
"I'm finking of you accidentwy poking me in de bum-bone of (with) yoh shawp nails, but you won't do dat 'cuz you love me 'cuz I'm yoh small daughtoh, and I love you too."
-Tessa's reflections after asking me to help wipe her.
Tessa has taken to blaming Jesus for a lot of things lately, like owies, traffic, and food she doesn't like. I am not quite sure where she is getting this new religion from, as
I am not in the habit of giving him credit for unpleasant things.
When I asked Tessa if Jesus was her friend, she shook her head "no".
"He's my family." She said.
Well, that explains everything.
(Please note the spectacular make-up. She was only sorry there was no blue lipstick to match her dress.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

They got us...

Guy headed out the door Sunday morning to go to his meetings. Soon he popped his head back in the door and said, "They got us!"
(see the post below called "Joke's on you")
We learned that while Ellen and her kidlets were outside plastic-wrapping our cars, obliviously we had let Toby, our dog, out to visit the tree. Our fearless watchdog stood and stared blankly at the perps (calling all robbers! Wimpy guard dog on duty!).
So the game is on. Now it's our turn
(I am open to suggestions!).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

What a difference a year makes

A year ago, I turned forty. It was a really challenging thing for me, I think, for the same classic reasons that many people fight growing older. I realized that I was about halfway through with my earthly sojourn, and that I had not accomplished nearly all that I thought I would have by that point in my life.


Yesterday was my birthday again. And it was a great day. You know why? I have had the windows of heaven opened to me and been so abundantly blessed, and not for the reasons that one might think.


When I was nine weeks pregnant with Jonah and was told he had not made it, that I would soon miscarry, and then told that I should hurry to the hospital as they suspected a tubal pregnancy and I might need surgery, it was truly one of the saddest moments in my life. It was on the way to the hospital that day, when I should have been in my most desperately low of lows, that I was flooded with an amazing peace. I was overcome with the sense that somehow, some impossible way, everything was going to be alright. I was filled with joy.


An hour later we were driving home with the new knowledge that all was well, the baby was fine and we could look forward to the birth of our child.


Some might think that it would be after the good news that I was able to feel the love of God, but it was before. It was before the good news and the successful pregnancy and the homebirth and the celebration over new little Jonah. It was that day in the van on the way to the hospital, during the tragedy and heartache. It was in one of the worst moments in my life that I felt the love of God. And that love was Joy.


And it hasn’t been until recently that I realized what that moment has come to mean to me. I think that moment was life-changing. Each day since, each time that I think of it, it comes to mean more to me, and the joy of that moment penetrates my life and becomes more a part of who I am.


Last year I was the woman who had lost four babies. I was turning forty with an empty belly, feeling so broken, and feeling like I had little to look forward to. Today, one month to the day from his birth, I hold my sweet little son. I have the honor or being mama to four other amazing kiddos and the wife of a good, kind man. But I think the biggest blessing of the past year, the one that lingers and continues to grow, is the joy.


(And this little blessing is pretty darn great, too).


(Oh, and 41 is a dairy-and-soy-free cake walk!)


Sunday, September 12, 2010

New Resident

Ever since he got here he's had us waiting on him hand and foot.
He makes us late all the time.
He stays up all night making a huge racket, and then sleeps the day away.
The few short hours he is actually awake he spends complaining.
He lays around most of the time making big messes and expecting me to clean up after him.
He is always eating.
He doesn’t have a job.
Half the time he stinks.
He farts and belches and never excuses himself.
He doesn’t help around the house, and since he showed up I can’t seem to get anything done.

Isn’t it wonderful?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Joke's on you

Sunday night Ellen - dear wonderful, you-would-be-so-lucky-to-know-her Ellen - came over to discuss carpooling. After hammering out the details (which are that I get way too much time off of driving, and I am not in charge of mornings so I can stay in my jams till noon if I need to...), we got down to the serious business of chatting. Ellen's brain works a lot like mine, that is, similar to a caffeinated hamster with ADD; jumping from topic to topic, and laughing and crying a lot in between (do hamsters cry? I don't know).
Well, somehow between our tears about testimonies and our laughter over fake dog poop, we got to talking about practical jokes. We took turns sharing escapades of our younger days, and lamenting that no body really knows how to joke around anymore. At one point, Ellen said something about being too old for practical jokes now.
I asked, "Is it possible to be too old for practical jokes?!" I think not!
After she left, naturally I felt the need to dust off my whoopie cushion, get out my snake-in-a-can and come up with something we could do to Ellen. Strike while the iron is hot, I always say (actually, I have never said that before).
Taking a page from the tales of the evening, Guy and I pulled out one of our best practical jokes from our early married days. We began photocopying our children's faces (eyes shut, of course). Back in the day we didn't have a copier on our printer. No, back then we had to dig through the sofa to find change, and then stand guard for each other while we used the copier at the local all-night 7-Eleven. Good times, good times.
Well, this time we had the convenience of a copier, but the inconvenience of 5 children to work into the act. One by one we scanned the kids mugs, (all but the baby... we scanned his cute diapered booty), making an extra set of copies to leave at Dave and Steph's house, then climbed into the mini-van at 11 o'clock at night.
Wouldn't you know it, Dave and Steph's house was lit up like a roman candle, and in true Sacramento style, the windows were all open to cool off the house. The same scenario was playing out at Ellen's house. But being the dare devils we are, we went for it (well, the rest of the family went for it, I sat in the van with the baby, him sucking on my finger (pinkie nursing, as Tessa calls it)...) to keep him calm.
At Ellen's, the kids all hid along the fence as Guy crawled around on the grass, stabbing plastic forks into the ground with our silly, photocopied faces taped to them. I could see - but not hear - from inside the van as the kids began fighting in whispers and wild, angry hand gestures, trying to make one another be quiet or move one way or another. Guy came over and I could see him shaking his finger at them and pointing to the van. Inside the van the baby began to fuss, and I frantically tried to soothe him. What were we thinking taking kids out at 11PM to fork a lawn?
At one point, Ellen actually reached her hand through the blinds to shut a window, and Guy flopped down on his belly, not 10 feet away from her. Finally finished, we headed back to Dave and Steph's, only to find the blinds and windows open and a Barmitzvah or something going on in the front room. Guy dropped Tessa, the baby and I off at home and tried again with the boys at 1AM, but apparently some people are actually nocturnal. They gave up and came home.
The guys intended to go back at 4 am, but when the alarm went off, Guy decided that some things are way more important that a good prank, sleep being chief among them. The next night the kids all took off with daddy again, a photocopy in each hand, and this time met with success. They had just enough time to smack the smashed face prints on the window and run for the van when the blinds went up.
Guy and the kids came in the house laughing and chattering about nearly getting caught. A few minutes later the phone rang. It was Steph.
"Best...surprise...ever!" she exclaimed.
We haven't heard a peep from Ellen. If I'm not mistaken, that can only mean one thing;
we had better sleep with our blinds open.
And perhaps think of a prank we can do in the daylight.

Monday, September 6, 2010


Last night I asked Ethan if he would like to change the baby. He has been taking care of Jonah when ever he can get his hands on him. In fact, if the kids could all lactate, I would never even get to hold this cute little peanut.
Ethan was thrilled at the offer to change Jonah until he got the diaper open. Then he gagged and offered him right back. I tried to convince Ethan that breastfed baby poo smells like popcorn or yogurt. Not only did that not convince him, I may have just ruined yogurt for him forever.
I think my vacation is officially over.

Friday, September 3, 2010

This little piggy had...

(corrected, after hearing Tessa playing with Jonah's toes again this morning):

"Dis widdol piggy wen' to mahket

dis widdol piggy stay home

dis widdol piggy have roas-muk

dis widdol piggy have none

dis widdol piggy say wee wee wee ahw da' way home!"

"What did the little piggy have?" I ask.


"Roast milk?"

"No, Broast-mulk!"

"Oh! Breast milk?'


The days are flying by so fast. I hate that. And then I realize, they are just days. They have no power. They don't take anything from me. When did I stop counting Tessa's days, or her weeks? I don't tell folks she is 53 months old. I learned to enjoy her days, and at some point I stopped counting them. I wonder when that was, and when it will be that I stop counting Jonah's days.

(20, by the way, in case you lost count. But it only feels like about 8.)