Friday, February 22, 2008

Rescue Mission

I thought the girls were being unusually quiet.

Here's why:

Angela's explanation of why they were systematically opening every individual roll from a case of paper towels:

"We were pretending that they were Elizabeth's friends and they were trapped in bags! so we had to rescue them."

About half of the friends were rescued. No explanation for the tower has been given to date.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bizzit your knavers

Both of my kids sometimes interchange their B, V and G sounds. It ends up being pretty funny.

balentime's day

and so on. Our favorite, though, is knavers.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Angela: "Mom, can you help me put my macaroni and cheese back in my bowl?"
Elizabeth: "Angela, it's dirty when it's on the floor. You don't eat it when it's dirty. You throw it away."
Angela: "Oh. Great."

Angela, helping me with my prayers last night: "Now say, 'I am thankful for the things my kids tell me to do.'"

Elizabeth, as Angela begins to cry hysterically: "I'll get a towel for when she throws up."

Angela, with a mouthful of pretzel sticks like a bunch of cigars (she removed them to speak): "I'm a nice shark that isn't mad at anyone."

Need suggestions

Elizabeth noticed that the "ch" combination doesn't always make the sound it does in "lunch" and "chair" but sometimes sounds like "ck."

Unfortunately the only examples I could think of were "technology" and "sepulchre."

Can anyone come up with more, um, youthful examples of words using the "ch" letters to sound like "ck"?

Dream interpretation

Two nights ago I had a dream. It was obviously very symbolic, of the type that Joseph himself would have recognized as full of meaning. Unfortunately I'm not certain of its intentions. I ask you for your input.

I was in the kitchen of a home that my husband and I had just purchased. I was trying to get settled in and my children and mother-in-law were nearby. I was loading the dishwasher.

Across from the dishwasher, in a large island (of the cabinet variety), was another dishwasher. This one had been broken for some time, but the previous owners, rather than replace it, had simply installed a new one. The task of removing it fell to us, the new owners.

I walked around to the other side of the island and opened what looked like a double cabinet. It was, in fact, another broken dishwasher. And two doors down from it was yet another one.

Four dishwashers, only the most recent one was functional. Each one had been set in to replace a broken one, a pattern which left frustration and wasted space. I opened the last dishwasher and saw that it was nearly full of pots and pans; they appeared clean and I was a little pleased to have gained some more kitchen cookware.

What does this sound like to you? What's your interpretation of this rich, profound dream of appliances?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Book reviews

I've been reading quite a few books. Here are some I've read this year so far and a few words about each:

Enchantment, by Orson Scott Card
What if Sleeping Beauty was real, and the princess awoke in modern times? Set between our familiar world and 850 AD Ukraine, this book interweaves Russian history, Jewish custom, folk tales from each, popular and obscure fairy tales, and makes it mostly believable. I resent when stories wrap up too cleanly, though. I want to sit down with Mr. Card and say, "Sometimes it's ok to have an unhappy ending. Really." While a bit over-researched and under-humanized, the book is enjoyable and difficult to set down.

The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion
Not as gut-wrenching as it could have been. It is a fascinating account of bewilderment and dealing with change, but I did not find in it the despair I would expect. Didion is removed and very careful about what she reveals of her experiences in the year after her husband suddenly died and her daughter lay ill in the hospital; what she says of those times is studied and self-conscious. One would expect no less of an accomplished writer, though it makes the book slightly less human, less sympathetic.

Sometimes reading like a laundry list of exotic vacations and exclusive restaurants, the point of it -- that Didion's and Dunne's wealth and privilege did nothing to cushion Joan from the grief -- is still clear.

Whitethorn Woods, by Maeve Binchy
Utterly delightful. It is a collection of short stories set around a particular place and event, each one told from a different perspective and through an entirely different personality. Each story is rich and varied, some humorous, some tragic, all of them engaging. This story could not be told without the glimpses into every person, without the knowledge in every history and an understanding of all motives and shortcomings.

The Pearl, by John Steinbeck
This was a challenge for me. I am innately opposed to Steinbeck. But I was challenged by someone I admire and the book is very short, so I read it. I am still in shock. While I understand the message (it's pretty clear), I find the turning point in the plot difficult to locate. It's a masterpiece. I hate to admit it.

Uglies, by Scott Westerfeld
A novel for the YA crowd. This is like Brave New World for a slightly younger audience. It is a futuristic book, taking place in a time when boys and girls undergo an extensive operation at age 16, to fix their features and become pretty. Before that they are known as 'uglies.' While objectionable in itself, there is something even more malicious to the operation.

I didn't find the book very intriguing until the halfway point, but I am still stunned by where it went from there. Stephenie Meyer fans will understand this analogy: What if, at the end of Twilight, Bella had turned into a monster, completely forgotten herself, went on endless rampages, and then the book ended?? I can barely wait to see what happens in book 2, Pretties.

The Goose Girl, by Shannon Hale:
Don't think that I set out to read retellings of fairy tales. I promise it's just a coincidence.

While that's ultimately what this book is -- a retelling of the Brothers Grimm story by the same name -- it is also much more than that. I have rarely read anything so captivating. It is simply charming. The characters are so splendid and the situation, going from bad to worse until it resolves unexpectedly (some of you will likely think of it as predictable -- "Oh, I saw THAT one coming a mile away -- of COURSE she's the king's long-lost child", that sort of thing) but it was a wonderful adventure getting there. Not a two-dimensional book at all, and there are more books that explore this world (Enna Burning, River Secrets). This is a story I can hardly wait to read to my daughters.

Also, I reread the Twilight series. And I attended two births, made 8 capes, threw two parties for a certain 5-year-old, gained 3 more doula clients, and hold a nervewracking calling in my church that requires hours of my time. And I haven't fallen behind on my homework.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Healthcare: an oxymoron...

Just like in any profession, some nurses are fantastic, and others are evil.

I have had the opportunity to attend two births in the past ten days. Here are some of the things I heard while assisting women through childbirth:

Nurse, seeing that contractions were five minutes apart: "Must be this natural thing."

Same nurse, to the mother: "You have a poopy uterus. It just isn't doing its job."

Nurse, while admitting the mother, during a difficult contraction: "Do you know your blood type? Do you have any allergies? Who's your pediatrician?"

Nurse: "The reason we don't want you to eat is really for your sake. If you eat you might get sick and throw up, and if you need a c-section, you can throw up and it might kill you."

(Actually, the main reason for the 'no food during labor' rule is because nurses don't want to be vomited upon. Only general anesthesia -- very rarely used for c-section anesthesia anymore; they mostly use epidurals or spinal blocks -- have the vomit aspiration risk. Nausea and vomiting are normal and healthy during labor, and carry far less risk than food deprivation.)

Nurse: "These contractions just aren't working."

Mother: "I really don't want an IV. Is there anything else we can do?"

Nurse: "I've seen babies get very, very sick. It's very sad. You don't want to take that risk with your child. This medication has no side effects and it will help you and your baby. You don't want your baby to get sick, do you?"

Nurse, one hour into pushing, mother's first baby: "If your contractions were stronger, you'd have your baby by now."

(Two hours is the average time spent pushing for a first baby.)

On the other hand, I've seen and heard some amazing things during the same births:
  • One nurse held the EFM on the mother's abdomen for twenty minutes rather than place the straps around her, because she understood that it was uncomfortable for an unmedicated mom.

  • A doctor suggested nipple stimulation to encourage contractions.

  • A first-time mother pulled her baby out of her own body once the shoulders were born.

  • The nurses dusted off the squatting bar for extensive use.

  • One nurse suggested walking and side-lying, which were exactly what was needed.

  • The no-eating rule was not enforced.

  • Two nurses had a murmured conversation about Higher Authorities: "We aren't the ones in charge here." "No, we're not. We never are."

  • One mother declined all shots, eyedrops, and immunizations, and did not meet resistance from the staff.

  • After seeing a small circle of the baby's head for an hour through a stretched perineum, the father asked, "How is this possible? How is this going to happen?" and the doctor replied, "It's a freakin' miracle."

Yes, it is!

Though I wish it was a miracle with the support of the nurses instead of in spite of them. If it were my decision, some of those nurses would be severely reprimanded, if not barred from delivery rooms altogether, for making those comments.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Five Years

Five years ago, on a peaceful Saturday, you, my first child, my daughter, were born.

Four more minutes and it would have been Sunday.

I remember how you looked around the room and already seemed to know who each person was, as if your time in the womb was spent studying voices and personalities, so that when you were born you were not surprised to see them. It made sense to you.

I remember how hard it was at first to take care of you, to understand what you needed. You were patient, introspective, and beautiful.

By 8 months you were walking. The first letter you knew was Q. You called balloons and fireworks by the same name ("Ball!!").
You stood in front of a mirror and said to yourself, "FWOG! - No, it's a fwog. FWOG! - No, it's a fwog..." You used to call anything you couldn't pronounce "ahi", and four different things were all called "armpit" by you (they were "blanket," "muffin," "ornament," and of course, "armpit").

You used to call yourself "Eddle-bess." Your sister was "Anchua."

You have always loved the outdoors. You have always been an artist.

You told jokes and made up puns as soon as you could speak. I remember you asked me what letter "pea" started with and then laughed when I told you. Then you asked again. And you laughed. And asked again.

At four you taught yourself to read. We stood by and watched, suddenly realizing that our goal of teaching you to read by the end of summer was not ambitious enough. A few weeks after we sat down with you and some books, you were reading to us. We have never been able to keep up with you.

I have always thought of 5 as a HUGE DEAL, and it is. I am so happy to have you in my family. I am so happy you were the first to come to me. I get to raise you and watch you grow. You are precious and I'm so glad I get to take this journey with you. The blank truth is that, no matter how old you get, you will always be my baby.

But you seem much more than 5 years old. You are Elizabeth.

Yes, today means a lot. I want to make today special for you, as much as I can. I want you to realize how deeply you are loved.

Today I celebrate the day you came to us. My world is better, Elizabeth, because you are here. Happy birthday, my love.