Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye, 2007!

Our year in review:

January 2007: A dark month, filled with cars breaking down and spiritual anguish. I briefly decide to move to Hawaii, but it doesn't materialize.

February 2007: Elizabeth turns 4! I attend my first VBAC as a doula -- an unmedicated one at that. And I suffer through my first sinus infection, which I did not recognize as such for almost ten miserable days.

March 2007: I officially drop out of my distance ed math class after receiving my first midterm score, which proved that the class was simply not working for me. I thought I understood it, but clearly, something was missing.

April 2007: I nearly hike the Subway.

May 2007: I attend a perfect birth. On our 8th wedding anniversary. And we have lots of family, cousins and siblings-in-law, in town.

June 2007: We go to the zoo. I see Pottercast live in Las Vegas, and attend my first wizard rock concert. I teach a childbirth ed series.

July 2007: Harry Potter frenzy at its peak, and I finish the final book in 15 hours. I start cello lessons! I teach myself to knit!

August 2007: My husband celebrates his birthday. I attend two more wizard concerts. We buy a top-of-the-line vacuum which we love and a new car which I love and am deeply grateful to have.

September 2007: My birthday ~ my favorite ever. I had Apple Jacks and apple pie and my husband decorated the house and it was just lovely. I get a new calling which I completely love. We visit family in California for a week. And Angela, my baby, turns 3.

October 2007: My dear friend takes me to a musical at Tuacahn and I'm blown away. I join my neighborhood book club and start reading at a fanatic pace. I devour the entire Twilight series in about 2 hours, along with three other books during the month. I set out on a quest to discover whether The Golden Compass is as evil as the emails claim.

November 2007: My brother-in-law gets married in what happens to be the wedding of the century, an event which profoundly changed my perspective on how I am living my life. We begin homeschooling our eldest daughter, which means that both children have school at home.

December 2007: My parents and sister visit me. I finish another childbirth ed series. I keep within my Christmas budget to the penny. I donate quilts and socialize. Angela poops on the potty. I vow to do the holidays differently next year. I get to the root of my deep and debilitating problems, finally, after years of work.

Overall, this year will be remembered by me as the year that put the permanent wrinkle between my eyebrows. It was a hard one for me and I don't think I'll miss the difficulty.

It has, however, put me in a mood to welcome 2008 with relief and the absolute trust that I am capable of living the life I should...

Happy new year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Nothing like hearing your own words repeated back to you through your children.

I had just discovered that the beautiful artwork on the kitchen wall had been glued there by two little monkeys.

I was in the process of removing it in strips when Elizabeth came up to me and said, "You have to put my blanket on my bed, Mom!"

My agitated response was, "No, I don't have to do that."

What did she say to that? Did she walk away, having been properly corrected? Did she understand the place in which I was trying to put her?


"You GET to do it, Mom!"

Friday, December 28, 2007

Love abounds

A picture Elizabeth drew of herself with her friend Austin:

Today I walked by the computer and saw that Elizabeth had written this:

And, sorry about the lateness, but here it finally is: the link to the Halloween pictures:


Thursday, December 27, 2007

Who gave birth at home recently?

Some names you might recognize:

Dave Matthews and wife

Dave Matthews and his wife, Ashley, kept the sex of their baby a surprise. Matthews said, "We'll keep the magic of our eyes being the witness." The baby, August Oliver, was born at home on June 19th.

Charlotte Church

Now 21 years old (not 12 as I always imagine), Charlotte Church gave birth to her daughter at home in a birthing pool on September 20th. Her boyfriend, Gavin, was present for the birth. Charlotte: "I was telling you I loved you, wasn't I? Saying 'I love you, but I can't do this!' You were brilliant, you kept saying, 'Just get through this one.'" Gavin: "I felt a bit weepy the other day because I looked at her, and she looked so lush and I thought about the birth and it was so perfect, so it was just with happiness..." She is co-sleeping with and breastfeeding her baby.

Ani DiFranco

Ani gave birth to her daughter at home on January 20th. Ani said, "Having her has brought me a lot of peace and joy and made me think about a lot of things that I didn’t before. Birth is the epicenter of women’s power."

AJ Langer

Allison Joy Langer (she played Rayanne on My So-Called Life) delivered her daughter at home in California on January 31st. She had a waterbirth with her husband in attendance.

Joely Fisher

Joely Fisher gave birth to her daughter at home in what she calls a "spectacular" experience. "But I decided to have her at home and had a lot of friends around and of course her father was there. And of course, the doctor, the doula, the midwife, the butcher, baker and candlestick maker."

Josie Maran

Model and cosmetics entrepreneur Josie Maran delivered her baby in her backyard. Very eco-conscious, she uses a hybrid cloth diaper with flushable inserts that biodegrade completely. Of her birth, she says, "I practice what I preach."

Lisa Bonet

Actress Lisa Bonet, now known as Lilakoi, gave birth to her daughter at home on July 21st. the baby's name is Lola Iolani Momoa. The middle name means royal hawk, and was chosen as there were hawks flying around [overhead] during the birth.

On this note, look into Ricki Lake's documentary, The Business of Being Born, coming to a city near you. On January 19th (an Saturday) it will be shown in Las Vegas and Sacramento.

If you are reading this, I expect you to be there.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Qristmas Quotes

While opening presents:

Angela, thrilled: "It's a BOX!"

Me, upon opening a present containing mix for Chocolate Peanut Butter Bread: "Ohh, wow!"
Elizabeth: "Is it what you always wanted, Mom?"
Me: "Yes, sweetheart -- but I didn't know it until now..."

Angela, excited: "It's PAPER!!"

Surveying the living room, full of toys and trappings of toys:

Me: "Time to clean up! Pick up one toy before you open the next, sweetheart."
Elizabeth: "Princesses don't clean up messes, Mom."

The day after Christmas:

Angela: "It's still Christmas! ...Isn't it, Mom?"

Angela: "There are no bad Christmases."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Monday, December 10, 2007


It has been several months since I have attended a birth. I have participated in many discussions about childbirth, and I have taught two series of childbirth education, and consulted with many women about their births. But I have not helped any one through labor in a very long time.

I am feeling the void.

It feeds my soul to attend births. I don't know why; all people have talents and enjoyments, from painting to sports to historical research, and none of us chose what we like. I love the world of labor, and I love spending time with women in labor. That sounds strange, but there it is. I love labor and birth.

So I am feeling the lack of it.

Last night I received an email that rubbed salt into that void:

...we are planning on having a unassisted birth ...We are looking to have a doula who would just be there for support...We would like to know if this is something that you would be willing to work with...
Oh, cripes.

Unassisted births are the extreme end of homebirths. These are births to which no care provider -- no midwife, no one -- is invited. Women give birth in their homes, without any medical help whatsoever.

As birth is a normal process, it usually goes well. Not many things can go wrong with birth. Really.

The things that can go wrong, tend to do so quickly. And without a qualified medical person there to recognize it, a happy, normal experience can turn aberrant and debilitating.

I am not necessarily anti-unassisted birth. I have a very good friend who has had three homebirths, two of which were unassisted. I have a huge amount of respect for her, and because of her I have learned a lot about it.

Those who choose to birth unassisted are typically very well-read and well-researched. They learn as much as they can, because they are not allowing anyone -- no doctor, midwife, nurse, nobody -- to hold the responsibility for the outcome of their birth except themselves. They take excellent care of themselves. These are generally good things.

However, it is not difficult to imagine the scenario where an unassisted homebirth with a doula in attendance meets complications. If something were to go wrong, saying "but I'm not medically-trained and couldn't have known/helped/recognized/taken action" will not prevent serious litigious fallout. There is precedence; it has happened before.

It would be horribly irresponsible for me to enter into a contract of this nature. It would be outside my professional guidelines to do so. It would put my career and family at risk.

But oh, my heart aches. I would love to attend this birth. I wish I didn't have to say "no." There is simply no way around it, though.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Checking the Kids' Camera

I never know what I'm going to find, or how to caption any of it. So, here it is:

Monday, December 3, 2007

Complete Review of the His Dark Materials Series

I finished the third and final book of the His Dark Materials trilogy, of The Golden Compass notoreity. Now I can speak to the entire series.

First, let me reaffirm that there is absolutely nothing religiously amiss about The Golden Compass or its sequel The Subtle Knife. The real controversy begins with the third book.

  • This is not a series of books for young children. The themes are too dark, too grown-up. In a way the audience is probably self-regulating, because there are long, dull parts that no one younger than 14 would probably have the drive to read through anyway.
  • This is not a series well-suited for Catholics. When religion is represented, it is very thinly-veiled as being the author's viewpoint of the Catholic church specifically. The majority of the books do not deal with religion, but when it is mentioned, it is not kindly.

For everyone else, for those who are very religious, insecure about their faith, or have no religion to defend, reading these books is akin to listening to John Lennon's song Imagine. It's not a series that will make you leave your faith. It probably won't even make you think of your own personal beliefs, whether you agree with one of the philosophies presented or not. You won't feel defensive about religion.

That said, I found myself to be quite annoyed by the presence of religion in the third book, for what it was. Anytime it was mentioned or represented, it felt like the author was departing from the story and stepping into the book to Saaaay Soooomething. It didn't feel like a natural part of the world he had built beginning with the first book. It was annoying. Not destructive, but certainly it was tiresome.

Parts of the book were astonishing. The creativity was exceptional. I did think the narrative voice was a bit detached, and that prevented me from becoming very emotionally involved with the progression of the story, and some of it just plain did not make sense, contradicted itself, and some content was too convoluted for even a fantasy, but overall, it was a good read.

All those who claim that HDM is superior to Harry Potter are smoking crack. Well, maybe that's a bit extreme. They're nutcases, at least. The HP books are so much richer and more complex, with much more sympathetic and fleshed-out characters; the plot is more vividly presented, the magic more accessible. The battle between good and evil has many gray areas, making it realistic and believable. Corruption is represented accurately, affecting both those with good and not so good intentions. The growth of the characters is more interesting to me in Potter. (And, of course, there's the tiny detail that the main character is not a chronic liar.)

So, be assured, your soul will not be corrupted by these mere books. Nor do they qualify as must-read-before-you-die books. I can only imagine the movie is the same way, unless they really played up and emphasized the anti-religiousness. But they'd be stupid to do so.