Friday, December 12, 2008

Birth Story -Kristiana

It was mostly uneventful, aside from the actual birth, which is great and exactly what every woman desires. I was induced with Alexander and it all went fine, but the pitocin induced contractions were intense and scary. I was strapped to a bed with a million wires and tubes streaming from my body. I kept thinking that this is not the way it is supposed to be. It felt totally out of control, like a runaway train. Despite my husband and mother-in-law being there I felt totally alone, because they did not know how to help me through it, I did not know what I was doing and the nurses came in only periodically, then the doctor showed at the delivery. So, this time around I was looking to experience birth as it was meant to be.

On the day of Kristiana's birth, Thursday, December 4th, I woke up at 4:15 a.m. with a contraction. This was not unusual, because for the last week I had been waking up around the same time each morning with a few contractions and then I would fall back asleep. After a couple more contractions than I expected, I went the bathroom. There was quite a bit of blood, etc. I thought, this could be it. But, this was not unexpected either considering my midwife stripped my membranes (I think she has a good technique to stimulate labor) followed by a little "marital union" (as Fr. Tim refers to IT), at the midwife's recommendation. The contractions continued every five minutes for an hour. So, I said to myself, I am sure this is it. I took a hot bath to calm things down, since it seemed to be happening fast. After my bath the contractions were still coming every five minutes and were lasting 30 seconds. I said to myself, at this rate I'll have a baby by noon. So, I called Andrew, who was at work (FedEx Shipping), and said that I was in labor and he should come home, because I don't know how what to expect, we might need to go soon.

I kept waiting for longer more intense contractions, but they didn't come. We all (my mom, Andrew, Alexander and myself) had some breakfast at Whataburger (wonderful Texan fast food burger joint). Then we chatted awhile. Around 10:30 a.m. the contractions had slowed down quite a bit. They almost weren't there. I started to panic that this could be false labor, but I knew that even if it stopped today, it would surely start again tomorrow. I decided to take a walk at 11:30 a.m., because every time I walked around I had more contractions. With my mom and Alexander in the stroller, we strolled. My midwife called around noon and asked how it was going, I said I was walking because the contractions slowed. And I told her I might have a slow leak. She asked me a few questions about it and then said, probably not. She said go home and take a nap, because I would be sorry later that I used all my energy walking. I hung up the phone, and uh oh, my water broke. So I walked back slightly wet.

At home my mom and Andrew really wanted me to call back and go in to the doctor's office. I said, no, I'm tired now and I am go to take a nap. So I did, sorta. I laid down and immediately started to doze, but every 25 minutes I had an intense and long contraction that threw me out of bed. That's right kicked my butt right out of bed. Finally, I decided I could not sleep and went back downstairs to see how everyone was doing. Again, they all wanted me to call the office. I did not want to immediately, because I needed to put Alexander down for a nap and the contractions were not that close together, although they were beginning to pick up speed and intensity.

Finally, I called the office around 1:45 p.m. and said that I think it's time to be check and I think my water broke. I arrived at the office at 2:00 p.m. She said I was 7 cm (a lot farther along than I thought). My water had broke and she was going to cancel the rest of her appointments and meet me at the hospital. By 2:45 p.m. I was all checked in and ready to go. Andrew and I sat to play some gin. We did not get far in the game. He and the nurse took bets on when they thought the baby would be born. Andrew said by 5:00 and the nurse said by 5:30. I was shocked by both guesses. So soon! But, Andrew was right. By the time the midwife arrived things moved swiftly. She had me lean over the birth ball on my chest and rock back and forth through contractions as she and Andrew rubbed my back. That scenario worked well. After a half hour she check me again and said that if I wanted to start pushing we'd have a baby in a jiffy. Okay, what ever you say. It was at this point my brain started to go numb and I was just trying to take orders.

Here's where I spare you gory details and skip to the part that's slightly amusing and why Andrew can't look at me the same anymore. As our little baby was being born I screamed; I screamed bloody murder (as my dad would say); I screamed my head off; Andrew said it sounded like someone was tearing my arms off (well, it's sort of like that, dear); After the first two screams, the nurses and midwife started saying "NO, Renee, guttural, lower! The screams aren't helping." Bull! what do you know. "Push!" and I replied as I pushed, "Noooo!!!" But, in my head I kept thinking just do it, or you will be here (Here=baby half born, in excruciating pain) all day. My attempts to not scream turned into pursing my lips, which caused me to spit (like a sputter) all over the nurses and midwife. Oops, didn't mean to do that, but whatever, it's working. Andrew tells me from the looks of every one's faces they had never heard a woman scream like that before. Except the midwife, who was trying not to laugh. (I think they are all partially deaf now.) Andrew was half way across the room at this point (good, where I want him to be). Andrew was traumatized by the screaming. I think he has told everyone we know about it ( if he didn't tell you I just did). After months of telling me I could do it without an epidural, he is now saying next time you get one. Ha, ha, ha.

The actual birth part was the worst pain ever. However, it all happened very quickly and I have ALREADY forgotten how bad the pain was. I remember thinking in the middle of it, "Oh no, put it back. I don't want to do this now. Do-over, do-over." I now know why women get fully dilated and then ask for the epidural and by that point it's too late. It's because up until that point, it was all fine and totally manageable pain. I know that it goes a lot differently for some women and they have more intense contractions earlier. It was not like that. In other words, it was a good birthing experience. I feel like recovery has been faster. Although, we all have the sniffles now and Alexander has decided he needs to sleep in our bed. Grr. He is stealing sleep from us all.

Anyway, that's pretty much it. Praise be to God! I know a lot of prayers were prayed for us. They were answered.

And Joelle, I still haven't heard from you. Surely, you have given birth and have some pictures to share.

Alexander's Present From Flightygirl

I received this hat yesterday from an awesome mommy blogger (flightygirl). She graciously shared her crafty knitting talent with me, and Alexander. This is probably the first hat he has been really excited about. It will come in handy when when go to Washington in January. Of course, we can use it right now here in Texas since it is very cold now. Three cheers for Kelly. Yay, Kelly, Yay, Kelly, Yay, Kelly.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Debut - Kristiana Noelle Clayton

Born 12/4/08, 5:06 p.m., 6lbs 7oz, 19 in.
She's a beauty!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

It's Okay There's Always the Hot Dog Song

To start: Here’s a shout out to Sarah in Afghanistan. Give’em hell! I hope your living arrangements get to be better. Your movies will be on their way shortly.

Stop reading here if you don’t like complaining…

I am feeling a little miserable. She’s all cramped and kicking hard for more space. I have had lots of contractions, which are not painful, but uncomfortable. My motility is really bad, i.e. it’s hard to get up and my waddle is profound. :-( It feels like my bladder is perpetually full. I promised myself I would never get swelling, because despite what people say that is not normal. Yesterday when I left work, my shoes were tight!—more water and walking, please.

It’s awful to say, but at this point in pregnancy, when pleading for it to be over, I know why people say they only want to have two/three children (or when they are up all night puking, or when you realize how expensive they are, or that you can invest more time in their care and upbringing the less of them you have). I will conveniently forget these feelings in a year, or so, because as far as I can tell, “the more the merrier,” despite all the trouble to rear them.

And despite my misery, I firmly do NOT want this baby to come now. First, the midwife leaves town tomorrow for five days. I went through all the stages of grief about her possibly not being here for the birth. I thought I was over it, but the more miserable I become the more I wish she were here. Second, I now have four days off work and I plan on spending a majority of that time resting. And I really want that rest, because I know I will enter the land of the living dead as soon as this little one is born. Then, I think I will be far more miserable.

I did not sleep well last night. I woke up at 4:00 a.m. cold and my sinuses hurt quite a bit, so I did not fall back asleep. It was time to get up to start the daily routine about the time I felt like I could go back to sleep. I took a long, hot shower, cleared out those sinuses and sore muscles and got on with it (though still miserable).

Alexander was pretty sweet and well-behaved this morning. He sang the hot dog song…you’d have to be there to know how cute that is. I hated to have to take him to daycare. It would have been nice to go back to sleep for a couple of hours and wake up to sweet husband and son playing. But, I had some work to finish up before I go on leave.

I do not plan to be at work next week. I think the baby is no more than a week away and depending how I feel, I may not go to work next week. However, chances are that after a few days rest, I will not have the baby and will feel much more up to going to work. I still stick by that all signs point birth happening in no more than a week.

Monday, November 24, 2008

The Big Bad Two Year Old

From Alexander 2nd Birthday

I think that if you click this image it will take you to the entire Alexander Birthday Album.

10 things about Alexander at 2 years old:

1. Loves Elmo, Thomas the Train, blocks, counting and sometimes he sings the alphabet when he thinks no one is listening.
2. He has figured out how to turn on the T.V. and wants it turned on to kids shows at all times.
3. He still struggles with asthma.
4. Baths are okay, but only if he is ready.
5. Rough housing with dad means number one good time and lots of giggles.
6. Milk! The boy lives on milk. Other favorite foods include pizza, ravioli (kind of getting tired of this), cereal, pop tarts, french toast, bananas and other snacky food items--all junk food.
7. He is pretty cautious.
8. He does not like dirty hands. Unless it is literally dirt and then he doesn't mind indulging in dirt.
9. He does not know how to share. He's very full of himself. How else would he be, he's two and is currently the only child. As far as he is concerned the sun rises and sets for him.
10. He is about to have a baby sister and then his world will really change.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Baby Update - 18 Days Until Due Date

I saw my midwife today. Everything is normal for this point (we have some progress toward birth) and the expectation is to make it to somewhere near the due date.

HOWEVER, thanks to our wonderful holiday next week (don't get me wrong, I LOVE Thanksgiving), I will not have another appointment for 13 days AND my midwife is leaving town from Thanksgiving to the following Tuesday. PANIC. I was really looking forward to having a midwife for this birth and now it is a real possibility that she may not be there.

She said that she was fairly confident that she would be there for this birth. But her leaving town does give me a little anxiety. We can make though, I can put me feet up and cross my legs and think good thoughts. :-) This is no time for me to be impatient, even though every other thought I have is about this pregnancy and baby. It's time to take it easy.

Say a little prayer that I have a midwife for this birth. I was feeling SO confident about everything, because I knew she would be there. I am losing my confidence a little...a lot.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Slavophile - We Changed Our Minds?

At Br. Gabriel's request:

So our dear friend called Sunday evening and he put into my head that Andrew and I should go "Russian" and spell our daughter's name with a "K," since we are such Slavophiles. I have been hearing this echo in my head for a couple of days now. Today, I mentioned it to Andrew and without hesitation he said, "Okay." Somehow, this has solved his discomfort of spelling it without an "h." We had consider it before, but for some reason it made more sense when Br. Gabriel said it.

Kristiana Noelle - I week we will be back to Walburga.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

"Be Not Afraid" to Defend Innocent Life Always

"AWESOME. I have never been more proud to be an AMERICAN Catholic. I'm always proud to be a Catholic. Love, AC",0,615284.story

I wanted to post the text as well, because someday this link will cease, but my blog will keep record.

Catholic bishops plan to forcefully confront Obama
By Manya Brachear Tribune staff reporter
8:38 PM CST, November 11, 2008
BALTIMORE - In a direct challenge to President-elect Barack Obama, America's Roman Catholic bishops vowed on Tuesday to accept no compromise for the sake of national unity until there is legal protection for the unborn.About 300 bishops, gathered in Baltimore for their national meeting, adopted a formal blessing for a child in the womb and advised Chicago's Cardinal Francis George, president of the conference, as he began drafting a statement from the bishops to the incoming Obama administration. That document will call on the administration and Catholics who supported Obama to work to outlaw abortion."This is not a matter of political compromise or a matter of finding some way of common ground," said Bishop Daniel Conlon of Steubenville, Ohio. "It's a matter of absolutes."The bishops, long one of the leading political forces against abortion, spent the first part of Tuesday behind closed doors reportedly debating the merits of "Faithful Citizenship," a nuanced guide for Catholic voters issued last November.
Though the document made clear that "the direct and intentional destruction of innocent human life is always wrong and is not just one issue among many," it also advised Catholics to weigh issues like poverty, war, the environment and human rights when choosing candidates.But some bishops said they were surprised to see Catholics cite the document as justification for selecting candidates--like Obama--who support abortion rights. A slim majority of the nation's Catholics voted for the Democratic candidate.Several bishops said that Catholics could not in good conscience vote for a candidate who favored abortion rights after Obama pledged to pass legislation that would overturn state's restrictions on abortion such as late-term abortion bans and requirements of parental consent."Any one of us here would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow--die tomorrow!--to bring about the end of abortion," said Auxiliary Bishop Robert Hermann of St. Louis.Bishops Thomas Paprocki of Chicago said such legislation could threaten laws that allow health-care workers to refrain from carrying out procedures that violate their conscience, putting Catholic health care institutions in jeopardy."There are grave consequences," Paprocki said in an interview. "If Catholic hospitals were required by federal law to perform abortions, we'd have to close our hospitals.""I don't think I'm being alarmist," Paprocki told the bishops.George agreed that losing federal funds would put Catholic health care facilities, which make up a third of the nation's hospitals, out of business. Closing Catholic hospitals would put many patients seeking charitable care from those facilities at risk, he added.In crafting the statement to Obama, the bishops urged the cardinal to indicate a desire to work with the administration in areas of economic justice, immigration reform, health care for the poor and religious freedom. But they stressed the church's "intent on opposing evil" and "defense of the unborn child."They vowed to oppose any law or executive order that might loosen restrictions on abortion.They emphasized that efforts to advance abortion rights would "permanently alienate tens of millions of Americans and would be interpreted by many Catholics as an attack on the Church." They also urged Catholics in public life to be committed to the teachings of the church.Bishop Joseph Martino of Scranton, Pa., vice president-elect Joe Biden's home town, called on his brother bishops to be more punitive against Catholic officials who are "stridently anti-life.""I cannot have the vice president coming to Scranton and saying he learned his values there when those values are utterly against those of the Catholic Church," Martino said.Sister Jamie Phelps, a theologian at Xavier University in Louisiana, also served on Obama's National Catholic Advisory Board. She applauds the bishops for issuing the statement. But she said the Faithful Citizenship document made it clear that while the rights of an unborn child are a priority voters should consider a whole range of issues regarding the preservation and quality of life."That child has no voice if it's not the voice of the bishops and the voice of Catholics," she said. "But you can not pick and choose an intrinsic evil."George said the Faithful Citizenship document remains the guiding principle for Catholic voters. But he said future versions should be tweaked so portions are not "misused and misinterpreted." He said Catholics seemed to overlook the "whole question of proportionate reason."George has attributed Obama's victory to the economy, insisting that it was not a referendum on moral issues such as abortion rights.The bishops also approved a blessing on Tuesday devoted to a child in the womb, intended to support parents, unite parishes and foster respect for human life within society."Obviously it's a very tangible way for us to witness pastorally and sacramentally to the life of an unborn child," said Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville. "It's very consistent with the priorities we've raised."

Monday, November 10, 2008

Doin' Fine

We survived the weekend. Alexander is doing much better and eating well. He ate a nice little serving of green beans at lunch yesterday. Woohoo for vegetables! He likes them well cooked and buttery. He's down to two breathing treatments a day.

I took it extremely easy for a few hours on Sunday and I feel much better too--at least in terms of birthing. I did not do the laundry; oh well. I no longer feel like birth is near, which is great.

Andrew will be home late tonight--every garbage can is full and the litter box has not been touched in five days and Alexander is in desperate need of some rough housing. Among a million other reasons he is missed, it will be great to have him home again.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Great Catharsis

I know I said no blogs, but I just feel the need to get it all out—I need a little cathartic blogging. We have been having a little bit of suffering around our home. By all rights, nothing major, but a moderate discomfort just the same.

At this very moment, as I write this blog, I think this baby in utero is trying escape. It feels like she is trying to climb out. Fortunately there are no contractions, so she can’t get out. But, I think she’s dropped already! What does that mean? It could mean we could see each other very soon, or more likely it just means I get to have a bowling bowl against my pelvis for the next month. (Yuck, yuck, yuck, you didn’t want to know that.)

And now for the days of our lives…


We began this unpleasant week Sunday evening with Alexander having a fever. I had trouble sleeping that night—I think it was the time change. The next day Alex was completely unwell. Andrew and I shared caring for Alexander that day. I went into work and then came home in the afternoon. Alex went to the doctor late in the afternoon with a high fever. His throat was badly infected. We were hoping it was strep throat or an ear infection since both of those can be treated with antibiotics. It was not. We proceeded to have several more days of fevers, finishing out the week with asthma complications. More on that later.

Paper & Travel

What makes things more complicated is that Andrew had a paper to deliver at a conference this weekend. He had not completed the paper and now was caring for an ill child and stressed out wife. Andrew always leaves these things for the final moments. It’s not that he has not been working on it. He just seems to work better under the pressure of the final hours. I always stress out when he leaves these things to the last minute. He tries to tell me it’s not my problem, but it is. He is my other half and he is under pressure, so I am under pressure. Further, if he had completed the paper earlier, he could have cared for Alexander himself and I would not have to miss so much work.


My work is busy and I feel like I am behind, because I will be on leave soon and I need to tie up loose ends. When I was at work at the beginning to the week I felt stressed, because I had to leave a bunch of times to take care of Alexander. I felt stressed because I knew Alexander was at home feeling crumby. And I was tired and unfocused due to not sleeping well—worrying about work, Alex and Andrew.


To be honest, the result of the presidential election did not surprise me, nor stress me out. I said to Andrew after the Republican convention that I did not think McCain could pull it off, because ever since the results of the primaries way back in February and March, not once has McCain been ahead of Obama in the polls. That indicated to me that voters’ minds were not likely to change. I CAN be realistic despite my idealism. But, I wasn’t going to give up hope until the fat lady sung (her name is Oprah…slam). I am very happy his little girls can have a dog now. Having a pet is one of those childhood rights of passage.

I am disappointed, but things are going to be fine for now and hopefully I can get some awesome government freebies that I will now be “entitled” to under the Obama administration. ;-) I mean, if I plan to have eight or so children some free healthcare would be great. (Ha, ha, I crack myself up. Yeah, I know I am the only one laughing.)

Mental Collapse

Tuesday Alexander was pretty much well, a little tired, but no fevers. Wednesday he woke up with a fever and the sinister asthma cough. Andrew was also leaving that day for his conference, which meant I could not go to work. I went into work for a couple of hours before Andrew left and brought home a little work hoping I could catch up when Alex went down for a nap. Did I mention I was exhausted! I could hardly keep my eyes open. I should have taken a nap myself, but instead I went for the computer to get work done. I quickly found that my plan to do work was dashed. Our computer had a Trojan that I could not remove. (I am currently using an antiquated laptop…it scares me. It’s so slow.) So, I called Andrew and began to blast him for procrastinating and not taking care of things like this, since he knew about it and had plans to reformat the computer weeks ago, and I dumped everything else on him that I had been keeping it all bottled up. He listened to me sob about everything in my tired, delirious, pregnant mental breakdown. He was patient, kind, loving and understanding and promised to fix the things he could. That helped. I feel better now.


I went to the dentist Thursday and the dental hygienist looked at me and said I was not going to make it to the due date. She said the baby had dropped and she was giving it two weeks, or very soon. Of course, I was more than happy to hear this since I am very uncomfortable. Now I am holding out hope that she is right. She has always seemed extremely perceptive to me—like she is clairvoyant. I don’t know why I am so eager to give birth again—immanent pain, months of little sleep. I should just be happy with the nice little life and routine I have now. Maybe it’s things like I went walking today and I could barely tie my shoes and clumsily lost my balance stepping off a curb, fell and skinned my knee like a little kid—it’s little things like that make birth sound appealing. Maybe I am just weary of going to work—although, the work of caring for a newborn is far greater. Maybe I am just eager to meet her and see her.


Alexander’s asthma is currently threat level yellow to orange. It’s more like an orange at night and yellow during the day. He has kept me awake for a couple of nights. He woke up with another fever on Thursday, but the doctor said the day before it was probably due to the asthma since the infection has cleared up. He is not getting enough oxygen at night. I took him to daycare with a fever yesterday morning knowing that it would probably go away as soon as he got moving and cleared his lungs of some phlegm. He did and he had a good day playing with his friends. He was quite exhausted from the breathing troubles. He is having his nebulizer treatments at daycare. This morning he packed up his things early and waited by the door impatiently this morning. I asked him if he wanted to go and he said yes, so I rushed around turning off lights and packing my things. He is tired of being cooped up in the house.


So tired—I am going to bed early. My glands are swollen now too. I hope I don’t get as sick as Alexander.

I assume if you read this far you cared to know. Like I said before this was my great catharsis of the past week (Did I mention I can be a bit of a complainer? It makes me feel better and then I can get on with it). I hope now to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Although, I am currently listening to Alexander cough on the baby monitor. I put him in bed an hour ago and he is still coughing. He wanted to go to bed. I hope he can settle down soon. Say a prayer for the little guy and that I don’t have a baby before Andrew comes home (it’s unlikely, but who knows).

P.S. Sorry there are no pictures illustrating this wonderful post this old computer is just to frustrating to wait for it to do fancy stuff like graphics.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Political Impressions 2.0 - Catholics Cannot Vote For Obama in Good Conscious

Catholics you cannot support a candidate who enforces the right to abortion and still call yourself Catholic. I am very weary of so-called Catholics telling me that all things considered, if they ignore that part of the candidate, he is the best candidate. It is not true on so many levels, but most of all, Obama is not the best candidate because of his position on abortion.

I have seen the websites out there that claim that even Catholics can reconcile their beliefs with Obama’s point of view because of his plan for social programs for women—daycare, healthcare for mother and child, abstinence programs, etc. However, it is a fallacy to believe that simply because these social welfare programs exist that they will reduce abortion. That supposes that the choice to have the child will be easier or more likely, or that people will have better ability to be moral.

In fact, having the types of social programs Obama proposes encourages social irresponsibility. There are responsibilities and consequences to the procreative act—the greatest we will encounter in our lifetime—and to remove some of those responsibilities and consequences encourages irresponsibility, i.e., more people will have intercourse casually with lessened risk of having to care for the health and well-being of partner or offspring.

Abortion and contraceptives exploit women more than anything we have seen since their legalization in our nation. A man can use a woman’s body with no consequences. He does not have to respect her or care for her. When he is done with her body, he can leave her. The woman does not even respect herself enough to demand that only one who will care for her and remain partnered with her may have her. Then when she is left vulnerable and with child, exploited, she makes a horrible decision to end this child’s life, because it would in someway damage her own. Further, there are health risks to these things that everyone seems to ignore. I cannot even go into all the reasons that a woman is exploited via abortion and contraceptives.

Obama said if my daughter made a mistake, I would not want her to be punished with a child. Say what! A child is a punishment. That means you, me, everyone was a punishment to our parents, because statistics are that most parents did not plan their pregnancy. That is the message you want your daughters to get? Children are only good and worthy of life if you desire them? (That’s heinous.)

It’s all disgusting. How can one truly justify abortion? Tell me how are you or I any different than we were at conception? Technically speaking, an embryo has the exact (EXACT) same genetic makeup as a full grown adult. The only difference between an adult and embryo is time and nutrition. If you deprive that from a newborn infant, then you are a heinous murderer. But, if you decide at 24 weeks gestation to deprive that, then there are no social or legal consequences placed upon your head. Further, if by some miracle a child survives this attempted murder by his/her mother, the law does not protect his/her life. (It’s heinous.)

I know. Obama does not “support” abortion. He just wants women to have the right to make that choice for themselves. He does not want them to have to suffer the consequences of their own actions, or the consequences of anyone else’s action either. He does not want the American society to have to be punished with an unwanted child. (It’s heinous.)

Do not vote Obama because you think you can reconcile your beliefs with his. You can’t justify this one.


From The Mouths of Babes - Halloween

Alexander's first time trick-or-treating and he took to it like a duck to water. The moment he saw a Tootsie pop enter his bucket, it is all he could think about and talk about. It was the prize of the evening. He had so much fun that when he fell and skinned his knee (pretty badly) he did not even cry until another parent noticed how bad it was later, and mommy gasped at the sight and then the tears fell. The kids were all perfectly adorable. They ingested far too much candy post trick-or-treating, I began to fear for their teeth (and now I know I AM A MOM!).

Mommy's Homemade Elmo; The trick-or-treaters; The Loot; The Prize!; The Cristiana Pumpkin; Mommy at 35 weeks

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given"

Luke 11:29-33 - When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, "This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it except the sign of Jonah. For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nin'eveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation. The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. The men of Nin'eveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. "No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a bushel, but on a stand, that those who enter may see the light."

Our Sign is the Cross – He will not grant you another sign, so that he may give holy things to dogs or throw pearls before swine….
He said only the sign of Jonah will be given to them. This means the Passion on the Cross and the Resurrection from the dead. (St. Cyril of Alexandria)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

No Blogging Allowed - Again

It’s that time of year again. It has been for the past month. I have been trying to pretend that it is not, but I cannot avoid it anymore. It’s my work's convention prep time and holiday time and baby time. I have been and will be far too busy to blog.

I hope to fit in a blog here or there, but, they will be few and far between.

Monday, October 13, 2008

An Evening at The Heart of Texas Fair

I have never seen our little man so quiet and intrepid. But, he definitely enjoyed the adventure--the animals, the pony ride and the funnel cake. :-)

Friday, October 10, 2008

09 Presidential Political Impressions 1.1 – Marxism; or How This Election Will Transform Us to Socialism

I must admit that I am no scholar of Marx, but here we go in my attempt to simplify Marxist notions in reference to U.S. Presidential candidate Barack Obama. My goal here is that my mother-in-law will understand and finish reading this without her eyes glazing over (It’s okay if it happens; I already want to check out on this matter). I must admit Marxism is a bit complex to explain, or to put in a nutshell. But, here it is in a nutshell:

Marxism is not a type of political regime as one might think, but HOW a government reforms society to become a socialist governance. I emphasize here the metamorphosis of the society and the beliefs stemming the change. A Marxist Society attempts to overthrow *capitalism (*=our current state, in which we live and have a competitive free market), and in its place the government would control all major institutions and institute new, major, social programs, excepting religion.

Marxism in two nutshells—another emphasis of Marxism is the redistribution of wealth to even the division of different classes. The overall sentiment is that everyone is an equally important cog in the machine, and therefore, we as a society must take care of every cog equally.

Are you screwing up your face yet? I feel a bit dizzy already. It’s not really possible to put Marxism in a nutshell. Further, lots of people know that it has not worked out well for those nations who implemented Marxist ideals and therefore, it has a taboo nature attached to it. However, the above nutshell is the working knowledge that I am working with here in this post. If it makes you feel better, substitute the word Marxism with Socialist Democracy (which is an acceptable substitution, I looked it up).

I had heard knowledgeable and notable political analysts call Obama a Marxist for various reasons. I asked myself whether I thought the claims were unwarranted. They were not. Obama is a strict socialist. Here are a few of questions to ask when considering whether Obama is a Marxist (a.k.a. strong supporter of socialism).

1. Does he think there is a class struggle in America? Clearly, yes
2. Does he think that because there is a class struggle the government should step in with government funded social programs? Yes
3. Does he think that more of the private sector needs to be regulated by government? Yes

O’Reilly accused Obama of being Robin Hood Obama—taking from the rich and giving to the poor. Except that when Robin Hood stole from the rich he was taking from tyrannical land lords who unjustly taxed the land tenants. Obama just wants to tax the riche for simply being richer.
Further, Obama claimed that, “if I am sitting pretty, and you have got a waitress who is making minimum wage plus tips, and I can afford it and she can't, what's the big deal for me to say ‘I am going to pay a little bit more?’” That is not the free market, democratic, capitalist America we have come to know and love. It’s socialism.

Also in this interview,
O'REILLY: You are taking money away from the big earners, and you are giving it to people who don't. That's called "income redistribution." It's a socialist tenet.
BARACK OBAMA: What I believe is, is that there are certain things we have got to do. And we have got to help people who have a tough time affording college, so they can benefit like we have benefited from this great country. People who are having a tough time, they don't have health care, people who are trying to figure out how they are going to pay the bills. And there are certain things we have got to do.

Guess what? I have learned that a college education is not worth as much as one would think. It’s been greatly devalued by the fact that many American workers have college educations; and that the quality of education is different now on many levels. Now, when I look at job advertisements, they all require a master’s degree or equivalent experience. I have found that those who chose to complete associates degrees have also faired much better in income earnings. One, A.A. degrees are more practical and career oriented. Two, people I know who received an associate degree spent two more years in the job market earning wages and gaining experience. Three, they did not spend between $20,000-$40,000 a year on a 4 year post-secondary education. Further, it is because of government education loans that universities have been able to increase enrollment, increase demand, and therefore increase their overall tuition, but not necessarily increase overall quality.

Okay. I’ll concede something major here. Do I think Barack Obama is a staunch Marxist? Heck no! It is clear that man loves capitalism. Sen. Obama could not be the self-made man that he is without it. He could not be the well-funded campaigner he is without capitalism. Barack Obama wants this nation to be a successful, capitalist nation full of hope and opportunity. He wants it to be the kind of nation that gave him all the opportunity he was afforded. BUT, he wants to do it by having the U.S. government take over some of America’s tested and true capitalist institutions. That part of his plan does not make sense to me.

Does he believe in socialism? His plans for America indicate yes. Let’s put this in the Marxist terminology used previously. Obama wants to TRANSFORM THE American governance so that the GOVERNMENT HAS MORE POWER TO CREATE socioeconomic EQUALITY BETWEEN THE CLASSES. You do not need me to rehash his plans. They are on his website. Now, you know where I am coming from, if you found my previous posting cryptic or inflammatory.

What I want for America is better quality Americans. In my plan for America, we do not simply bestow what is desired. It has to be earned. I hate to see Americans forget that this nation was humbly built by hard work and a competitive spirit. Our quality of living is already vastly better than what could have been dreamed 30 years ago. Lets not lose our competitive edge by relinquishing all control to government. Some government e is good, too much is bad.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Sweater She'll Probably Never Wear, Etc.

Well, it only took 5 weeks of Alexander’s napping or bedtime, and two seasons of NCIS on DVD to finish, but here it is—My Homemade Baby Sweater. It’s a nice relaxing activity for a pregnant mommy.

I learned a lot about gauge while making this sweater. It turns out that it was okay I knitted it too long, because the gauge of yarn and needle size I used made the sleeves longer too. I also learned some new techniques. It’s super soft and probably more a 12 month old size sweater. I still have to get some mauve color buttons.

Next up, a cable knit scarf. I have the supplies now for cable knitting. We’ll see how I do. There are always mistakes when learning to do something new.

Sad times—I think very shortly our digital camera will die a permanent death. I cannot say that I have been very pleased with it. I can never get a picture with the right lighting. It’s either too bright, too dark, or grainy. Now it takes pictures with a dark band at the top. I paid way too much for it. Lesson learned: it’s not a good idea to buy a digital camera off of ebay; further it’s probably even better to be able to give a camera a test run, since it is so expensive.

Too bright, too dark, too grainy

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Oops...he, he, he - Editing & Corrections

Yesterday, I said that the bailout was $700 million. Then I re-read my post today and realized my mistake. I do know it is a $700 Billion bailout. I feel like Dr. Evil in the first Austin Powers movie. I am taking this whole world ransom for one meeell-yon doll-ars. Mwah ha ha ha. I really should edit before I post. Mea culpa.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Playing Pretend with the Economy

On a side note: I know. People who read my blog (that sounds weird to me) are waiting to hear the rest of my political impressions (that sounds conceded and probably is). But, I have had a busy week and I do not want to be hasty about what I say next. So, the next one is coming and it is coming soon. I plan to make it as simple as possible.

Moving on…there is something that has been bothering me for the past six months. It’s the economy. I understand very little about economics and I am wholeheartedly lost in this mess. I am lost even after watching a television program on current economics (can’t learn it in an hour folks). I learned that this kind of meltdown has happened to the U.S. six times before. Hmm, and we did not learn anything? I know things are bad. I know that it is very, very bad that many of our largest companies are bankrupt.

Here is where I am confused. How can congress just decide to bailout the American market with $700 million? It seems like fake money to me. Maybe that is why the rest of the world markets are tanking too. We just pumped a bunch of fake money into it.

Here is another thing that confuses me. Everywhere I look I see Americans continuing to live their lives of leisure, enjoying their families, putting food on their tables. That’s the most important thing. Americans are still putting food on the table. In the Great Depression people instantly lost their jobs, were homeless and starving. I do not think that is where we are going yet, because I have been watching this closely all year. For people with jobs the biggest sacrifice I have seen people make so far is trading down their transportation. Americans can do with a little humbling and remember our simpler roots.

Further the American dollar is still way higher than what I would expect it to be at this point.

Granted, I am still paying my bills, my debts (cursed college loans and college credit cards). If I did not have a job, I would not be able to do this. I would be part of the problem. But, like I have said, I am confused about this whole mess: how we got there and how it will be corrected, if we can correct it.

The economy is fake, to me anyway. What would happen if we wiped it all clean? Probably nothing would happen at this point. That is what is happening in my eyes. Headline: Today Global Markets Tank and Wipe Themselves Clean – The Market Will Start Over Fresh Next Year.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

’09 Presidential Political Impressions 1.0 - Marxism

After last Friday’s presidential debate I was not impressed by either candidate. By this point in presidential elections I am usually disenchanted and disheartened by both candidates and to be honest, nothing has changed. There comes a point when a mature individual realizes that neither candidate will be able to wave his or her magic wand and fix everything. However, please excuse the South Park reference from the 2000 election, at least it’s not between a douche and a terd sandwich.

Despite my disenchantment, my mind IS made up about this presidential election. There are a couple of things I must point out about the opponent. Firstly, Sen. Barack Obama has been accused to his face that he is a Marxist and he has not denied it, nor can he deny it. His intention is to transform this nation from a historically successful capitalist democracy to a socialist democracy a.k.a Marxist society. Everything Obama has proposed to “Change” the U.S.A. are Marxist tenets.

Marxism has proven, on a grand scale, to be an ineffective form of government and has crippled great and weak nations alike. This alone could be the greatest reason to vote for the other candidate, Sen. John McCain, who desires to move America back toward our capitalist roots. It is the very same capitalist government that our founding fathers intended us to have when they wrote the declaration of independence, declaring that we would not be crippled by British “taxation without representation.”

With the economic strife we Americans have suffered in recent times, it is clear we have already begun our transformation to a socialist democracy. In hindsight, the credit crisis was created not only by greed, but socialist tenets claiming that everyone ought to be able to get a credit line. The fact is that not everyone deserves credit. It’s earned through hard work. It used to be that you paid 20% down to buy a house on credit. That was ended with the idea that poor people deserve to own houses too. Look where that socialist idea has gotten us—global destruction of the credit market. Well done socialism. A vote for Obama is a vote for socialism, a vote for Marxism.

Upcoming Blog Posts:

- Examples from Obama’s Plan for America that are Marxist
- A Baby is a “Punishment” – Unless Your Pay Grade Allows for It
- Sen. McCain – A History of Service

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Evasive Sleep

Nature's cruel joke--instead of preparing for a baby by hibernating, which would be nice, lots of pregnant don't sleep in the last trimester. Unfortunately, the hormones associated with creating a human also make me wakeful. I am in that stage of pregnancy in which I am exhausted from waddling around all day yet cannot sleep through the night.

Last night I woke up at 2 a.m. and could not sleep. I laid in bed for an hour and then decided that wasn't working, so I should get up an do something else. Usually watching boring T.V. works. I went downstairs, drank a glass of water, and took a dose of benedryl to help me go back to sleep, laid down on the sofa to watch part of a biography on Reagan, which was on PBS. I thought I would fall back asleep with the benedryl and Reagan bio. When the hour biography ended, I decided that I was probably too hungry to sleep. So, I ate a "toaster sandwich" and began to watch the Antiques Roadshow. I did fall asleep easily on a full belly. However, I am extremely tired today and have been for the past week and half. I can see now that this is how it will be for a while. I better get some more of those toaster sandwiches!

I am currently slurping down a cup of half hot chocolate, half coffee.

P.S. With the current election putting abortion issues front and center, I keep hearing the promotion of this "Born Alive" Bill. Every time I hear about it, I cannot help but cry (real tears--not just a sad feeling). These babies are born alive, and killed after a botched abortion. This campaign says that this happens more often than we want to think about. Honestly, in these late term abortions, I do not see the difference between killing them inside the womb or outside. With the help of modern medicine, people have survived being born at 24 weeks gestation. Further, I have heard stories of parents who have been told after testing that their child has some disability: downs syndrome; bad hear; one set of parents was told that their baby had no brian; being pro-life these parents did not abort, when doctors placed the option before them. The mothers carried the babies to term and they were born perfectly normal. The doctors and their tests were wrong. Can you imagine that mistake? It's insane.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Knitting of My Own Two Hands

The beginning of my baby sweater minus sleeves and the collar. The picture of the blue sweater is what it is supposed to look like done...provided I had followed the directions perfectly. I made one sleeve and royally messed it up. I will have to start over on the sleeves

Scarf #1: I know it looks wonky. It's just not laying flat.

I can crochet now. But, I am not very good at it. It is clear it will take a while to become good at it.

29 weeks - Its Getting Tight in Here

Friday, September 19, 2008

Protecting the Innocent - Two Wrongs Don't Make a Right

Andrew and I have been watching politics pretty closely lately. Last week, we listened to commentators debate Women's Rights in relation to Vice Presidential candidate, Sarah Palin. The debaters were all women discussing the rights women have gained. They pointed out that the major issues women have been fighting for are equal pay for equal work and the right to abort pregnancy. After all this time--fifty years to get equal employment and another fifty to fight for equal pay--women still have not exactly won the battle for equal pay. However, the right to abort pregnancy was won relatively quickly.

(On a side note: I am not one to downplay the accomplishments of women over the last couple of centuries and the struggle it was for them to achieve such.)

One commentator charged that should McCain-Palin win, they would fight to setback one of the great Women's Rights triumphs, and also charged (erroneously) that they would imprison women who had been raped and aborted a resulting pregnancy.

Firstly, I saw the fallacy in this claim right away. Just because a politician claims that abortion is wrong and should not be a protected right does not automatically lead to the claim that lawmakers would imprison those who have an abortion. As a former philosophy student, I was instantly appauled by the fallacy the debater was espousing. It was also appauling to think of a victim of such a heinous crime being imprisoned.

But now I have had some some time to think about it. I had never thought about this issue in terms of whether or not a rape victim should be imprisoned for aborting a resulting a child. That is a good question. After she has already suffered so much, should she face prison? Clearly that is not productive. She is not the one who commited the crime in the first place.

Rape is probably the worst crime to survive. A woman who survives it may never heal and the scars run deep. Now, I hate to say it, but to the rape victim, one of those torments maybe pregnancy. Though it may be difficult to deal with, I believe the only way for the victimized woman to maintain her own innocence is to carry the baby to term. Then it is her choice to give him or her for adoption, or keep the child. That should be our goal, as a society, in such cases, we should work to protect the innocence of the victim. However, whether a woman aborts the child or births it, the scars of her rape are never going to go away. Why destroy an innocent life when those scars will always be present?

The child did not do anything wrong. Why should it be murdered because a crime was commited during its conception? Easy for me to say, right? I never had to deal with being raped and pregnant. That's true. It is easy for me to SAY. But, two wrongs don't make a right.

I do know a woman who was raped, gave birth to twin girls and raised them. She does not care that their was not love in their conception. There is love between her and her daughters. There is love between her daughters and their children. Her daughters are out there being valuable members of society--fighting the good fight, saving lives. My friend, her scars are her own, but she does not consider her daughters a part scars; they were part of the healing.

So, would I imprison a woman who was raped and then aborted a resulting pregnancy? I am not sure how it should be handled. I do know that it is wrong. But, prison hardly seems appropriate; and is costly. I know that extreme duress leads people to do things they would not normally do--temporary insanity. If abortion were not so readily available and it was not a socially acceptable norm, I think there would be more women who would carry the babies to term and give them to adoption, or raise them. The goal of American society has been to rehabilitate criminals. The same should be for rape victims. We need to rehabilitate their lives after rape and all that entails.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Project Runway Fans Only

Project Runway is one of my guilty pleasures. I love this T.V. show, because it always gets my creative juices flowing. Last season, I discovered that photos from the finale at Bryant Park can be seen on New York Magazine’s Fashion website. This is several weeks before the T.V. finale. This season and last I have gotten a sneak peek and you can too.

Anyway, I was blown away by Leanne’s final designs. I sat up and noticed her after the New York City Inspiration Challenge on Project Runway. I have been impressed with her every challenge since. I have also been a big fan of Korto. I am marking down Leanne to win the show this season. If she does not win, it would be crime.

There is one huge criticism I have of Leanne’s collection. She used one color palette, or the same three colors; well really, she used one color (teal) and many neutral, creamy, oatmeal shades. But, her designs are so extravagant and interesting she gets away with it.

See Leanne’s Designs here:

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"There is No Dignity in Death"

I was watching the television show "House" the other night. It was a rerun that I had seen before, and had forgotten. But, he made a good point that I could ponder on for the rest of my life. It could even be a motto to live by. He was with a patient and she said to him, "Just go away and let me die with dignity." To which he quickly responded in a fierce tone,
To paraphrase:

"There is no dignity in death. There never is. [pause] You can LIVE with dignity. But, there is no dignity in death."

I repeat it. "There is no dignity in death."

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines dignity as, "the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed" And what I think Dr. House means is that death shows no man dignity. Death overcomes man's body, breaks it, and ravages it--cause it to suffer in the pain of death. No man escapes the agony of death. From all accounts, no matter how death occurs, even if in an instant it is undignified agony. Dr. House's message to the woman was to choose life if you are given the option even if it is a struggle to live.

I won't go into an in depth discussion on this, because like I said before, it is something to ponder on for the rest of one's life. But, it also reminds me of the old Church teaching, to live everyday as though it were your last.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Pregnancy Art - That's All I Have

No boasting. It's not very good. Just some haphazard, preggy, emotional drawings. She's not naked its art :-)

Renee Unplugged

This is a quick impromptu blog post. I am writing this as fast as I can--feeling speedy today.

Woohoo! Exactly 90 days until our due date. No, consensus was decided on how to spell the baby's name. I guess we will just wait and see what we feel most comfortable with when she is born. I guess you all will have to wait for the birth announcement.

Last week I moved onto Plan B baby sweater. My coworker did not have the patience to teach me the sweater. She thought it would be best to bring her big corchet hooks and just teach me the basic stitches and let me practice that a while. This all makes sense to me since it took me years to get to a point in knitting where I didn't make quite so many mistakes. Speaking of mistakes, my Plan B baby sweater is coming along great. I finished the hardest part over the weekend. Unfortunately, I did make a pretty big mistake that I can live with. I started on the next step, the smaller front panels. As I read the instructions, I realized that I made the back panel almost two inches too long, and it's not fixable at this point. I read those instructions more than a dozen times, but my pregnancy brain did not register it. The only thing I did know is when I was about 3/4 done with the back panel, I kept saying to Andrew, "This doesn't quite look right." That will show me for watching the two parties' national conventions while knitting. Lesson #1 in knitting - Do not divide your attention when reading the instructions. C'est la vie. It's going to be a long, lean sweater. I hope to return to the crochet sweater once I learn how to crochet better. It's too cute not to make.

I asked my midwife for recommendations on books about birthing methodology. She loaned me a crazy book, which is really spiritual and psychological. She said that I would find some of it odd, but that the right mindset was there and it should help get me in the right frame of mind. She was right. It's really odd, but it makes me feel super maternal and womanly. The first TEN chapters were mostly about pregnancy and birth art. It was all about how she recommends her patients do art to reveal their subconscious emotions and thoughts on birth and pregnancy. Then she uses it to change their feelings into more positive, yet realistic attitudes and encourages them to be more knowledgeable and know what they want, etc. Anyway, I have only just begun the section on actual birth methodology. It's a quick read, because most of it has been frippery that I glossed over. There were also a lot of birth stories and discussion at the beginning that I found somewhat helpful, because I haven't heard a lot of birth stories. I also tried a little bit of my own pregnancy art, because I fancy myself an artist sometimes and I felt a little creative spark inside me. I wasn't sure what would come out of my mind, but as usual all the images I thought were overly positive and idealistic. I do not think that I address pain and suffering in my life enough. I even idealize pain and suffering. I cannot tell if that is good or bad. But, I have realized latley that I am afraid of not being strong enough in birth. I am afraid of wussing out, because I really want to have an ideal, natural birth, without an epidural.

Enough of my ramblings, I am sure you were tired of it two paragraphs ago. When I have progressed farther on my knitting and birth art, I will share it via photographs.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Yarn Nest

(Disclaimer: I didn't edited this, so I think there might be some errors)
I have been knitting! And I am learning to crochet. I was feeling really depressed about the lack of creativity in my life as I watched many of my friends getting crafty. I have also felt a great need to nest. I keep telling myself that it is too early in this pregnancy to nest. But, I can’t deny the urge to nest. I have wanted to make sweet little dresses with my sewing machine. But, after months of struggle with my sewing machine—feeling inadequate, breaking needles—I have decided that it is not me; the sewing machine is broken. Every time I get going the needle breaks no matter what tension I set it to. I loaned the machine to a friend some months ago and something might have happened to it in transit—like it was dinged around in the trunk of the car on the way home. It worked before then and it worked for my friend, but it hasn’t worked since it came home. It also makes a little grinding noise, so maybe it need grease. I don’t know. I am going to have to find someone to look at it. But, I have definitely decided that my sewing troubles are not my fault. I have moved on to knitting, etc. I have knitted before and I am getting better at it. I might even try to branch out into more advanced techniques. Currently, I am making a scarf. I am knitting very fast, but it doesn’t feel like the project is moving along fast enough. I think I chose the wrong gauge knitting needle. I am going to have to expand my needle collection. I have a size 8, which I am working with now; size 13 and size 6.

I also decided to make a baby sweater. The only sweater pattern at Walmart I really liked was a crochet pattern. So, I said to myself, how hard can this be? After trying it, crocheting is not difficult, but reading the crochet lingo is. I have enlisted a coworker to interpret for me and show me a thing or two. These types of things are better learned by example. I am determined to make a baby sweater, so if crochet doesn’t work out, I do have a plan B sweater knitting project.


The rest of the Claytons in Claytonopolis are stressed. Andrew is stressed to the max because his first PhD comprehensive exam is in two weeks. Then he will have another two weeks after that. Every moment of every day he is stressed. It has been very much like the way it is the week before school finals. Study, study, study, all day and all night, then finals come and collapse. Except this finals preparation seems to be never ending with weeks on end of intense study and stress. After this Andrew will be bald and grey.

Alexander also seems stressed. In the past couple of weeks, his main caretaker at daycare had to start working part time, so they moved her back to the baby room. She has been a constant fixture in his life since he started at daycare. I think he really misses her, because he has been coming home really stressed out, whiny and clingy, like he hasn’t gotten enough love and cuddles. I feel really bad for him. But, also his behavior has been really hard for Andrew and I to deal with. He hasn’t been eating very well at home either. I am sure he will begin to adjust to this new person at daycare, but it will take some time.

I am fine. I am not too stressed. Andrew and Alexander stress me, because they are stressed. But, it is not my own personal stress. I feel a little bit of stress because I am trying to coordinate childcare at our church for parents who go to the Wednesday night Christian education classes. But, I don’t put too much pressure on myself over that. It kind of fell in my lap and I am pretty sure God is in charge of this one.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

There's No Place Like Home

Aaah. Nothing like a cup-a-tea and a Vegemite toast. It's love in a brown, yeastie paste (that didn't come out right).

Today, a package arrived from Australia from my, oh so, thoughtful and kind, cousin Tim. It contained two fresh and delicious tubes of the unforgettable Australian delicacy, Vegemite.

It's the perfect comfort, breakfast, or snack. This brings to mind all that is good in the world. All is right in my world again. I really could go on and on about this topic, but I will kindly spare you the garrulity.

This Folks is What We Call Progress

This is me hanging out in my GU Think Pink shirt, taking pictures of myself in the bathroom mirror ( I wear this awesome shirt 85% of the time when I am at home). That is a 24 weeks pregnant belly. It's huge. I am sure I did not look this round the belly first time I was pregnant even though I weighed 20lbs more (I compared a 24 weeks picture from Alexander's pregnancy). The muscles are just not as tight.

I am pretty excited to meet little Cristiana (I was given a bassinet today. Other mommas can check it out HERE) I am not sure if I am ready for life to change all over again. I was just starting to get the groove back. But, who wants to live in a groove the rest of life. Otherwise known as a rut. No, things just would not be interesting and challenging without a little fun like raising a family. Enjoy the wealth of this belly.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Indian Cooking

In the past three weeks I have made three different Indian dishes: Chicken Korma (Left), Beef Kofta (Center), and Vegetable and Beef Samosas (Right). The end results were all tasty and well executed. I am almost done with this Indian cuisine cooking spree. After last night's samosas, I am almost sick of it. I will explain why later in the post. However, I will not be satisfied until I have made a meal using coconut milk. For some reason, coconut is one of those things that adds a delightful, delicate, comforting flavor. It's one of those things that sets off something in my brain. (Other foods that do this to me include, Bay leaves, vine ripe tomatoes, sliced, with a dash of garlic salt, soft Brie and wine. )

Growing up, it was always my mom's thing to cook international food. She made Indian, Chinese, Mexican, Italian, French, Irish and so on. Those were some of our favorites. She always took special care to procure authentic ingredients. She did not care if it took weeks to find the ingredients, days to prepare, hours to cook. It's her thing to think big, dream the impossible dream, and go outside the box. But, we all loved Indian food. My dad had a lot of Indian and Middle Eastern students over the years and after dinner at their homes, Mom was never afraid to get their recipes.

While I was in college, my mom and I were out and about in Spokane and found a book called The Complete Indian. I instantly had to have it. It has a recipe for just about any Indian dish you can think of and details on the Art of Indian cooking. Last month, Andrew and I enjoyed a dinner out in Dallas at an Indian restaurant. I thought to myself, I like Indian cuisine so much that I need to get out my cook book and learn to make some of these dishes, so that I can pass the experience on to our kids.

The Chicken Korma took half a day to collect ingredients, prepare and cook. It was a very meditative, contemplative experience for me. A lot of Indian dishes take a long time to make. That is part of the experience. Generally speaking, it's a very spiritual culture. Always when the scent of the aromatic spices hit my nose, and I know I am going to be quietly working away in the kitchen for a while, I feel the urge to meditate, pray and contemplate the greater things in life. It's a wonderful practice. I am sure there are other long process recipes from any culture that I could do this with, but currently the recipes I have that take the longest time are those in The Complete Indian.

To contradict myself, the Beef Kofta took no time at all. It took no more time than it takes to make brown rice (40 mins). I put the rice on to cook and commenced making these spice filled meatballs. I served them with broccoli and a cilantro yogurt sauce. The yogurt sauce was the perfect compliment to these meatballs. Andrew was quite pleased. Cilantro is his favorite herb.

The Samosas took the longest time of all to prepare; including the time it took to find wonton wrappers. There was a recipe for the dough to make the pastry shell, but I was not keen on the level of difficulty and time it would take. Further, I knew that wonton wrappers could be bought in the store and were the same thing as the dough. After a couple weeks of looking, I finally asked the right person. On Sunday afternoon, I made the beef filling and the vegetable filling and then simply put them in the refrigerator. Last night, we all came home together. Andrew, for some reason, was overly excited about the samosas and wanted to help. I stuffed the little packages and Andrew tended to them as they fried in the oil. Alexander stirred his own pot of water with green food dye in it on his little kid table. It kept him busy for the time we were cooking. When we were done he had a nice pot of duplo block stew. We ate the samosas with sweet chile sauce I found in the international food aisle at the grocery. It was another Indian food success.

With all the work put into this Indian food stint and how heavy the food tends to be, I am pretty much spent. However, like I said before, I will not be satisfied until I serve up a plate of food with coconut milk. Although, I am not limited to Indian food with this ingredient.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sling: His Friend and Mine

I just wanted to share my little precious moment from Monday night. Alexander finally decided to give the sling a try since he was needing some cuddling and a pacifier. We cuddled and made dinner. It was a special moment.

This blog picture also features:
-My almost 6 months pregnant belly (Cristiana in utero).
-Eleri's awesome turquoise, handmade, sling (I love the pleats--an essential feature).
-Theotokos Icon from Poland (Feast of the Dormition of Our Lady tomorrow--one of my most favorite feasts).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Voodoo Magic? (My Acupuncture Experience)

So, I went to the acupuncturist yesterday. We talked a bit. Then after a while she started sticking the needles in me. She did not warn me, but I guess I knew because she started wiping spots with an alcohol wipe. It was odd at first, but also exciting. When she put in the last one in my foot all the points she had put in started to tingle. I smiled and said to myself, “Oh, that’s it. She hit the happy spot.” Then a warm relaxing feeling came over me. She turned on the space age, relaxation music and said I am going to let you relax for twenty minutes. So, I sat there relaxing, thinking about various things; no cumbersome thoughts came to me. It was just nice. Then she came back, we talked a little more.

Honestly, I was having an “up” day in the first place, but I don’t think it compares to now. Since the treatment, I have felt alert, relaxed and genuinely happy. I feel like I can handle life again. I really feel different. I woke up and did not have to drag myself around trying to pull it together. It’s an exciting feeling. I feel like I have regained Renee.

She said that she thought it could take three to four treatments for the full effect. I expect at some point this nice little high will wear off and I willing be begging to go back. I have an appointment for next week.

She also recommended a high quality fish oil supplement to stabilize the situation. She said that since these two babies are spaced somewhat close together that my body likely hasn’t had time to fully recover and the fats I need for my own brain function are being taken from my brain for the baby’s brain. In my own speculation, I had been sick all winter, and was still breastfeeding Alexander, and had just lost 20 lbs. So, my body may not have been ready for this challenge. It all makes more sense to me now, since this came on early in the first trimester, probably just six weeks after conception.

I will have to see where I go from here. I took cod liver oil before I was pregnant with Alexander and another fish oil during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester. Then I read an article saying that cod liver oil has been linked to staving off post-partum depression when taken after birth (for all my currently pregnant pals, heed this advice). So, I took my cod liver oil and never felt better during and after pregnant with Alexander. But, after becoming busy and overburdened with motherhood and working, my fish oil habit dwindled. Further, I tried taking fish oil and omega-3 supplements in the first trimester of this pregnancy, but they made the nausea worse, so I quit. The lady I saw yesterday said that I needed to take a higher quality supplement and it won’t cause me so much trouble. I have got nothing to lose but my $40.

Diagnosis: moody pregnant lady syndrome
Prescription: fish oil and needles
Prognosis: good to excellent, time will tell

On a side note, this week Fr. Timothy told us that our prayers were good, but to listen more and simply be with God. “Be still, and know that I am God.” (Just thought I would share, since I seem to be able to hear the homilies again.)

Friday, August 8, 2008

Baby #2 Update

So, now I know why they call this a delicate condition. I feel delicate. Wednesday night I deposited myself on the sofa with no energy to do much else. Thursday after my appointment at the doctor's office I went home and collapsed around 11:00 am and was pretty much unconscious until 4:15 pm when I woke up stumbled to the bathroom, but vomited before I got there, then had to clean it up by myself before the baby boy got home.

I went to see my midwife yesterday. My suspicians were correct; after being examined and tested, there is nothing going on that is out of the ordinary--it's all within the range of normal. But, unlike an MD she made some helpful recommendations. I almost blurted out that I have begun to distrust Western medicine completey (not totally true). At the risk of my ego, I did blurt out a couple of other things in addition to the pregnancy discomfort I have been overly emotional, crabby and depressed. Which is huge to me, because this is no time for me to fall apart when Andrew needs me to keep things together at least until he has finished the PhD comps.

After she explained some things to me, she suggested counseling. I simply said, I think I was looking for a more holistic approach. She didn't skip a beat and referred me to an accupunctist/nutritionist and we made the appointment right there.

I felt relieved. I was starting to lose it there. Usually, when I go to doctors and I have a problem, but still fall within the range of normal they say, sorry, suck it up and go home, it will pass. I want to say, hey, this isn't normal for me, I am miserable and my problem has not been addressed. So, this time I am glad she had an idea of an alternative. My insurance might cover part of it and she is not that expensive anyhow.

I was not too keen on counseling because while it might be helpful to some, she had already explained it was due to hormonal changes, and I don't know how talking about it would help hormonal changes. She said that they don't give pregnant women medications for this right away. I was not mentioning it to her because I wanted medication anyway. I just wanted her to say its a deficiency in this..., eat more this...I have long thought that a lot of these things can be helped via nutrition etc. Since, I managed to help other physical problems in my life via nutrition and exercise. I'll admit, lately my diet has been deplorable--high fat, high sugar, high carb, refined, enriched foods. And Wednesday I took a walk and barely made it through. I was having contractions and ligament pain.

I also know why they say that each pregnancy is different. I took for granted what an easy pregnancy it was last time. I think that the difference is because I am having a girl this time and different hormones go into making a girl, i.e., I think I am getting too many female hormones like estrogen, the same hormones that give a girl p.m.s. It's just a theory. I'll see what the accupuncture lady says.

That's the update...and for all my preggie pals, hang in there. I know it's not all peaches and cream.