Thursday, January 31, 2008

12 weeks

Week Twelve

Vocal cords begin to form - While perhaps not quite ready to be introduced to the nearest opera stage, your infant will use these immediately following the moment of birth. Bet you can't wait to hear that first cry!
Those precious eyes begin to move closer together - Are you wondering if he will have mommy's crystal green eyes, daddy's laughing brown ones, or maybe out of the gene pool will emerge grandma's clear blue!
Ears shift to their normal place on the side of the head
Intestines move farther in to your child's body
His or her liver begins to function - Responsible for cleansing the blood, storing nutrients, and providing needed chemicals, this is an important event!
The pancreas begins to produce insulin
Guess what? Your baby's average size is now at a whopping length: 2.13 inches (5.4cm) and weight: 0.49 ounce (14gm)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Home Again!

Sorry! We got home last night but a flurry of activity kept me from posting. Hurrah! We're back together again, all under the same roof, all happy, all in one piece, all good.
Wow. I never thought this day would come!!! I'm glad Brent's training is only 6 months, and not years and years like some occupations!! (I put 'only' but really it didn't feel like 'only' --it felt like an eternity).
I had prayed for fair weather because Saskatchewan weather is not generally moderate this time of year, and my children and myself do not own snowsuits and down jackets as would be appropriate for true Prairie winter weather. We own rain gear. We live in a rainforest. SO, I was pleasantly surprised to encounter -2 degree weather when we arrived. The first thing the boys did when we arrived at the house we rented for the weekend (there were eleven of our extended family there so we just rented a whole house for the weekend instead of paying big bucks for a hotel room) was put on mitts and hats and run out in the backyard to play in the snow. What fun! I have pix but not digital, so I'll have to scan them in later.
We enjoyed a pleasant afternoon together and a good dinner out, and the next day was moderate weather as well: an unheard of PLUS 2 degrees and sunshine! There were some family events and a church service in the base chapel (which was built in 1885 and is the oldest building in Regina, AND which has no bathroom as we discovered when Ayden decided he finally had to go for the first time that day at around noon) that day, and a wine and cheese event that evening. Brent had to return to base that night for his weekend curfew of 11:00, and to prepare his uniform for graduation the next day, so we had to say goodbye that night. :-(
The next morning was a huge scuffle with eleven people and two bathrooms and a fancy grad ceremony to get ready for!! We managed. But the night before sometime after midnight the weather took a bit of a turn: a storm blew in with a fury: 44 kph winds, -25 degrees, and blowing snow. The boys were not well equipped. They both screamed their heads off every time we had to venture outside for the smallest thing. What a change! Definitely the coldest weather either of them had ever been in, and a far cry from Thailand, I tell you.
The ceremony itself lasted at least 3 hours! There was a swearing in ceremony, some food, an hour long parade with fancy red serge (handsome, handsome, handsome is my husband in that red uniform, I tell you), lots of shouting and stomping and swords and music, and then the badge ceremony. Brent was valedictorian, and voted winner of the comradeship award by his classmates, and mentioned most frequently as recipient of 'Superior' rating (highest mark possible) in all his exams. I cried when he received the comradeship award, which is awarded to the troop member who most exemplifies discipline, honesty, compassion, and integrity. Finally, finally, other people are recognizing what I've seen go unrecognized in Brent's character for years and years (especially in his vocation: his friends would agree how exceptional he is, but at work he has rarely been recognized). I couldn't be prouder. I told him when he left that he had to work hard while he was away, to make my extra work at home worthwhile, but I need not have bothered. He's found his niche, and he does well because he throws himself into it and because he is an exceptional person. I am so proud of him that when I write 'I feel proud' it doesn't seem to quite say what I mean. It seems trite.
There was a formal banquet that night with all the who's who of whoever giving speeches and taking photos. It was a bit stiff, but the keynote speaker was my kind of guy, poo-pooing his credentials and telling funny war stories and poking fun at himself and the graduates. Ayden and I danced afterwards, while everyone was milling around taking photos and telling stories, and it was a good end to a very full day.
We braced ourselves to re-enter the storm: the wind was still going 44 kph, and the temperature had dropped to -29 degrees: that makes for a whopping minus 45 degrees with wind chill!! THAT is colder than anything I experienced in Russia, which is saying quite a lot. It was so rediculously cold that the car heater couldn't get warm. It was survivable inside the car, but even after 40 minutes the air coming out of the vents was still only coolish.
The storm shut down the airport that day.
That meant that Cherilyn's flight the next morning at seven was cancelled, and her next available flight out was Wednesday morning at 5 a.m. It also meant that our flights were all delayed, Brent wasn't even in their computer as on our flight (a quick call to Brent's school and presto, he was back on again...whew...), and all our flights were overbooked with 10 or more standbys as people tried to fly out whose flights had been cancelled the day before. What a gong show. Once we were on the plane everything was fine: my mom, Brent's parents, Brent's brother and sister in law and baby Ella, AND the four of us were on the same flight (we take up half the plane!) for the first leg of the trip home, and Brent sat with the boys while I relaxed in the row behind him.
I'm officially off duty.
I'll be checking into the spa for a month or so.
You won't be able to reach me.

As a side note: hooray for individual TVs on airplanes. The boys were TV stoned watching satellite Treehouse all the way to Saskatchewan and all the way back, so it was actually relaxing once we were in the air. It's the getting ON the plane that is hairy, with two bags of toys, one bag of 'supplies' like sweatshirts, pullups, wipes, snacks, my purse, my big fancy camera, two preschool aged boys who want to touch EVERYTHING and talk to EVERYONE, and two carseats. I love having a carseat once we're on, but getting it on is a hassle. Especially getting two on! Anyways, we made it!! And all ten of us made our connecting flights (my mom had ten minutes in Calgary to get from flight to flight), despite having been delayed in Regina.

AND and and...funny story...
The morning that we left my cat got locked outside, away from her food and water, but she ran away and I couldn't catch her so i called a friend of mine who has a house key and asked her to run by and let my cat in. She was more than happy to help. However, once I got myself and the two boys and the four suitcases and the two carseats safely on the plane at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, I realized with trepidation that I had parked in the long term parking lot in Abbotsford but forgot to actually pay for parking.
So I phoned my wonderful, fantastic, above-and-beyond friend who had let in my cat, and asked her to drive back to my house to pick up my extra car key, then drive out to Abbotsford airport, find my car in the parking lot, pay for parking, put the ticket on my dash, and drive home again. She did.
200% thanks, hoorays, and wahoos for awesome friends!!!

When we returned to Abbotsford I wasn't sure if the car would still be there, as it had spent some time in long term parking without a ticket, but it was, covered in a foot of snow, thanks to my wonderful friend (her name is Rowenna and if you see her, tell her she's wonderful).

THEN we arrived home, expecting a terrific mess, and discovered that some mysterious fairies had CLEANED OUR HOUSE!! Hello? You think you have great friends? Check out mine. Believe me, the kitchen was AWEFUL when I left. Every plate, dish, pot, piece of cutlery, and cup that we own was dirty and not a single item was in the empty dishwasher. The garbage stank, the floor was nasty, and toys littered the livingroom floor.
It was ALL CLEAN!!!!!!! Now THAT was the gift of the century, I tell you. I suspect Rowenna was involved, because she has my house key. I also suspect my friend Melissa Wyville, as I had lent her a fondu pot and this was back in my house. I suspect they may have had help from other amazing friends of ours, and for all of them I'd like to say thank you.

For everyone who prayed, supported, looked after my kids, comforted, listened, sympathized, cleaned my house, fixed my car, fed me meals, took my kids to daycare or preschool, and helped me pay for things I had trouble affording:
Thank you. I can't tell you enough how grateful I am for what you have done. The big things and the small. I couldn't have done this without you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I think I'll go cuddle my family now.
You're the best.

Friday, January 25, 2008

How to follow?

It's hard to follow such a profound and tragic experience with trivial daily matters...
I can't get this baby out of my head. He makes me more patient with my kids. He makes me kiss them more when they are within arm's reach and in receptive-to-kissing moods. He makes me smell their hair more appreciatively. I'm sure he has done that for all of us.

In the spirit of appreciation: I am grateful that tomorrow we fly to Regina to be reunited as a family. My singleness is done. The boys get their daddy back. I'm so glad it is over.
See you next week!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

(not my) Baby

...but 'mine' in a different sense.
Today at work a baby died.
This morning, he was perfect. He laughed, he grabbed, he arched his back to get out of his high chair, and in one neglectful handful of minutes, he shattered like glass.
In fact, he is not dead right this minute; it is strange how the line between death and life is actually so grey and traversable, in medicine (though not grey and traversable enough). This afternoon he drowned in a pond in a yard (if you live close by you will know how COLD a pond would have been today), unattended or unaccounted for. He was discovered, CPR was performed, ALS attended and intubated, pumped him with drugs, and ventilated him, and warmed him up a tiny bit (initial core temperature was 21 degrees...generally acknowledged to be the lower threshold of survivable hypothermia, although 'a patient is not dead until they are warm and dead' because cold actually preserves brain tissue in situations where lack of oxygen would normally kill it), and his heart started beating again. He was cold. Deep in a coma. He had been dead.
His lungs were full of fluid. His temperature was difficult to control. Several hours in the ER he suddenly had one pupil that was 3 times larger than the other, and slow to react, which indicates brain swelling on that side and probable irreversible brain damage.
All our hearts dropped when I discovered those pupils. You HOPE that the glass that shattered was simply cracked, or broken in such a way that a little heat and a little skill will restore it completely, but those pupils showed us just how completely shattered he was.
His tiny shape was flown in a helicopter to a more advanced hospital. He had a tube in his tummy, another in his trachea, a machine breathing for him, sedation and painkillers, four IV lines, a tiny heart monitor, a tiny hard collar and two IV bags holding his head still, a catheter, and he looked so SMALL in the adult stretcher with pediatrician and flight paramedics sitting next to him. Oh, we are SO VULNERABLE it is a miracle any of us survive at all.
Jesus, send all your angels. Heal him, heal him, heal him. Give him another chance to snuggle, to throw his sippy cup on the floor, to laugh. Abandon all your posts and fly to him.

I rarely cry after calls, but this one brought me a flood of tears. Matthew almost drowned once. A dozen times a week I have a panicky minute of fear; "Where are they? Are they safe? Why is it so quiet?" No matter how tightly or how gently we hold them, sometimes they break beyond repair.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Night off

Tonight, a bit surprisingly (though it shouldn't have been surprising for me, because I arranged my own schedule, but this evening I was surprised to discover, nevertheless), I have the evening to myself. I was supposed to work a night shift tonight but recently traded it for a day shift tomorrow, but still had the boys arranged to go to grandma's for the night due to my early start and grandma needing to drop the boys off at daycare tomorrow morning. She dropped by to pick them up about 4:45. Wahoo! A night off. I've ordered in pizza and I have a good book. Ah, bliss.
Five more days.

Sunday, January 20, 2008



Saturday, January 19, 2008

The Waiting Child

I'm on my second read through of this book, "The Waiting Child: How the Faith and Love of One Orphan Saved the Life of Another." I've been wanting to write on my blog about it since my first read, but then I leant the book to my mom, who leant it to my grandma, and it only recently made it back to me. This book is a true story, written by a woman who adopted a four year old girl from China who had a remarkable bond with another child left behind at the orphanage, and who lobbied for his adoption with unceasing faith and energy until it finally happened. This is a remarkable story, and a remarkable family. I wanted to share with you some of my favourite bits.

"The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials"
-Chinese proverb

"To be a star you must follow your own light, follow your own path, and never fear the darkness, for that is when the stars shine the brightest."

"Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage."
-Lao Tzu

"I have spread my dreams under your feet,
tread softly because you tread on my dreams."
-WB Yeats

"Who travels for love finds a thousand miles not longer than one."
-Japanese proverb

"Love is the condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own."
-Robert A. Heinlein

"The strongest oak tree of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It's the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and the rains and the scorching sun."
-Napoleon Hill

And in answer to those who criticize the removal of children from the country and culture it was born in, to be adopted by parents overseas (to whom I would like to point out that, while of COURSE the #1 best choice is to have children grow up in their own culture, in their birth families. But sometimes, the #1 choice is not available. This makes the #2 choice, adoption and immigration, the new #1 choice. And a beautiful one).
"It is not for him to pride himself who loveth his own country, but rather for him who loveth the whole world. The earth is but one country and mankind its creatures."
-Baha Allah

"The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core strength within you that survives all hurt."
-Max Lerner

I was drawn to this book for several reasons. The main characters are gripping. Their story's 'plot,' if you can call it that when the story is true, is riveting. But most of all, the author is so honest. Her description of her first meeting with her four year old daughter resonated with me. I felt similar emotions when I met BOTH my children, adopted and biological, and in the weeks following. I also felt oceans of love, awe, and wonder, and spent hours watching them sleep. But sometimes, we forget to remember that those first weeks can feel so, so ambiguous.
"Even now it is hard to describe the emotions I felt during this first meeting. I was not basking in the sheer beauty of my new daughter...this seemed more like taking inventory. Also missing was the rush of mother's love that had filled me last time. Although I told Lou Jiao from the start that I loved her--it was one of the few Chinese phrases I could say--it was a lie. I did not yet feel any real connection to her. What I felt most keenly was fear. I was sweating, uncertain, and felt that things were spinning out of control, that time was moving too quickly; I was not ready for this. A strange jumble of emotions surged through me, but one thing I knew with certainty: joy wasn't one of them."
Later that day, she is overcome with fear when left alone with her new daughter in a strange hotel room. I remember that.
Soon enough, of course, she falls in love, and gets slowly drawn into her daughter's singleness of purpose: finding a family for her best friend, whom she calls 'Xiao Mei Mei," and who still lives in the Chinese orphanage she left behind. Jaclyn lobbies for his adoption, and in the process learns more about the process involved. Or tries. She is, after all, only four. One day, she asks her baby sister, also adopted from China, "Christ-a-tee, why your China mama leave you on the ground?"..."Jaclyn felt enormous anger at her China mama in spite of my best efforts to help her understand why parents sometimes cannot care for their children. I did not want her to taint Christy's view of her birth mother too, so I stepped in and said, "Jaclyn, we believe that Christy's China mama might have been very sick and could not take care of baby Christy. So she took her to a safe place where people would help take care of her until her new mama could come for her."
Jaclyn looked at me skeptically.
...I began again my attempt to change her understanding of all this. I struggled to find the right words to explain to one so young the complicated economic, social, and political circumstances that control mothers' decisions in the country I had come to love. Jaclyn listened patiently but then insisted that I hear her, too.
"Mama," she said, with emotion born of anger in her voice, "a baby on the GROUND! A baby can't walk. A baby can't talk. A baby no have even teeth. Cars come by! A BABY GET HURT! That DISGUSTING!"

It's true, Jaclyn. That disgusting. I have so much patience and empathy and compassion for the individual birth parents involved in any relinquishment of a child, and I carefully withhold judgement...but ultimately, on some level, as humans who all affect each other and all have responsibility for the world's children, the circumstances leading to 'a baby on the ground' really are disgusting. It really is too aweful that it happens at all, anywhere in the world. And it does.
Ai. That we live in a world where there are children without families.

Great book. Made me cry.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Not for the faint of heart

Consider yourself warned! Last night I got home from work and FELL into bed, drifting off to sleep with all the lights burning and book in hand, at around 7. I woke up at 3 a.m., groggy and incredibly thirsty, so I went downstairs and got a big, 16 oz mug of my favourite grape juice. With ice. I drank it all and lay down again, feeling much refreshed and well fortified against spider nightmares. I started to get heartburn before I could fall asleep again, which made me toss and turn trying to find a comfortable position to reduce the heartburn or at least trick myself long enough to fall back asleep. About 40 minutes later I sat bolt upright in bed, KNOWING I was about to throw up. I RAN to the bathroom trying to keep my mouth clamped shut as it filled with re-grape juice because I wanted to SAVE MY BRAND NEW CARPET from a heavy dose of vomited grape stain.
As a result, the pressure build up sprayed my bathroom with a fair amount of force. It was on the mirror, the floor, all over the counter, the sink, the faucet, the front of the cupboards, the wall, ugh. I threw up for a good minute and a half, at least, until my stomach (and my duodenum, I'm sure!) was totally empty, and then I crawled back into my bed to rest. For five minutes, after which my alarm clock went off as it was time to get ready for work! Awesome.
For those of you who were worried, I missed the carpet by a quarter of an inch. Thank you JESUS.
I spent my work day trying to forget grape juice even exists, and trying not to hurl in the back of the ambulance. My partner was sympathetic (after he learned I wasn't contagious). Ayden, when I picked him up from his grandma's house, was not sympathetic but rather threw tantrum after tantrum until I finally spanked him for repeatedly getting out of the time out chair (about 25 repetitions) after which he settled down and even gave me a birthday card. For, it's my birthday. I didn't think I'd spend my 30th birthday vomiting and spanking my small child, but one can't really be picky. One deals with what one encounters.

Things I'm thankful for as I enter the first year of 'my thirties:'
-wonderful husband
-two healthy kids
-a third brewing
-my job
-my house
-painting (art, not my walls)
-good music on my ipod
-mini evolutions of self
-sunshine, sunshine, sunshine (I'll be thankful when it shines again)
-the colour red
-hugs and kisses from my boys
-new discoveries
-trips away from home
-clouds (but not together)
-an absence of a necessity to ever drink grape juice again

love you all

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Week Ten

Baby is now called a fetus in "medical terms". You, however, may have chosen the name "peanut," "angel," "jumping bean" or simply "miracle."
The most critical part of your infant's development is complete. Now you are headed into a period of rapid growth.
While a bit strange to envision, your baby's head is now about half its length - Soon the rest of the body's growth will catch up but this area is prepared to keep up with the rapid brain development!
Eyelids fuse shut and irises begin to develop - Eye color is also determined by this point.
Placenta begins to function this week or next - The placenta is the organ responsible for both the provision of nutrients along with the removal of waste to keep your baby growing strong!
Your baby will be about 1.22 inch long (3.1cm) and weigh 0.14 ounce (4gm) at the end of this week

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Thank you mommy

Yesterday my mom arrived. She stays until Monday. Today I am sick, so she got up with the kids in the morning, entertained them all day, and helped me put them to bed. Hallelujah for mothers! There is no one else like them. She helped me clean the kitchen a bit, too. Blessed mother. I think that is supposed to refer to Mary; I don't care! My mom's a saint, too.

The dedication in the front of this book, "The Waiting Child" that I'm reading

'For the millions of children on this earth like [my daughter].
For those who live each day in the never-ending darkness
of a life without a mama
to shield you from the storms,
to hold you when you hurt,
to dry your tears,
to love you...

May you survive, as she did, with your soul intact.
May you hang on to hope, as she did, with both hands.

May you believe.'

A Message for my favourite lurker

Anne: I think I talked to you on the phone this morning :-) I called to see if Ken wanted my night shift tonight because I'm sick, and it didn't occur to me that I was talking to you until after I hung up! Then I thought it would be weird of me to phone back just to say, "Hey! It is me!" Isn't that funny? Does that make us officially introduced? I think our class ought to have another barbeque so you can come and we can finally meet. :-)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Circle of Life

I don't usually blog these situations, but this one was notable and I've a few things I'd like to say about it.
Today I am working. 8-7. 17 minutes into our shift this morning, we got a code 3 for a stroke, so we go puttering out there (can one 'putter' anywhere with lights and sirens?) to meet with a very pale, very weak, very sweaty elderly gentleman with virtually NO medical history. Quite healthy, in fact. He has no pain, no difficulty breathing, he can answer my questions: he is simply very weak and 'feels sick.' I did my initial assessment and discovered a blood pressure of 58/00 (normal= 120/80...generally people lose consciousness between 80-90/whatever, so this guy's pressure made me sit up straight). Coupled with his skin colour, I suspected something cardiac so we got him onto our cot, called ALS, and attempted an IV start (oxygen on, of course). I poked his arm in 3 places and had no luck, but ALS did far better than I once they got there. This patient looked SICK, felt SICK, and was getting SICKER by the minute, but he was still talking to me, and following commands. The ALS cardiac monitor revealed some pretty sombre signs and they decided to intubate. I was monitoring his airway while they prepped, and all of a sudden one of my periodic consciousness checks turned up unresponsive. A quick check: cardiac arrest.
One minute he's looking me in the eyes and saying, "Oh, I don't feel good," and the next he's dead. It's striking to be there for that exact moment. I felt awe that I was priveleged to witness that moment in someone's life...while we sweated bullets to try and stave it off with CPR, atropine, epinephrine, saline bolus, intubation, ventilation, 12 lead, electronic pacing, etc, etc. This was my first 'witnessed arrest,' by which we mean witnessed by us and CPR intervention immediately initiated (a person's best chance of survival when their heart stops beating is with a witnessed arrest). I've done CPR before, on people found down but not down long, and I've certainly done my fair share of 'definately dead, don't attempt resuscitations,' but it is more rare to have a witnessed arrest like we had this morning. FYI, I have never done a successful resuscitation. Never. Our successful resuscitation rate in BC hovers around 14-16% (Seattle has the best success rate in North America, at 19%), so you can see that, while we give it everything we've got when someone's heart stops, it is generally a futile effort with minimal success. Now, that success rate is 'survival to hospital discharge,' so there are more people whose hearts restart but who don't survive the night, or the week, or the following month...anyways, I digress. But I digress in an interesting and slightly surprising (to the public, who watch too much unrealistic TV) direction.
Another interesting digression: higher CPR/defibrillation resuscitation success rates are possible in the following categories:
Hypoxic arrest
-airway obstruction including occlusion of airway by unconscious person's tongue
-smoke inhalation
With children

Lower rates:
Cardiac arrest caused by trauma (ie, car accident), aka Traumatic arrests (an ironic term, since all arrests are emotionally traumatic)
Massive cardiac events
The elderly

We worked and worked to give this gentleman the best possible chance for survival, but nothing we did helped. When it is someone's time to die, not even the most brilliant medicine on earth or the most perfectly executed protocol or the best resuscitation team can save them. Death keeps medicine humble, because our most powerful efforts are powerless before it, much of the time.
My muscles are sore from my cycles of doing chest compressions. CPR is VERY hard work. My glasses kept slipping down my nose from the sweat on my face. I was also given the privilege of being entrusted with airway management (suction, ventilation, ensuring the tube doesn't go too far down the patient's trachea) in between chest compression rotations, which is a result of the trust relationship I've started to build up with ALS. Trust is good. Trust on a team makes all the difference in a situation like this one. Today I gained new respect for the ALS attendant in charge of this arrest because of the way he treated everyone in the room. He can be a gruff man of few words, but he was made specifically for moments like these, because he treated everyone with respect, calm consideration, and genuine compassion--firefighters, us BLS paramedics, his partner, and the many family members who were in the room. He kept the medical team working efficiently, and he kept the family informed of every step he was taking, giving them 5-10 minute updates on how things were going (not well, in general), and ensuring that they were a part of the decision making process and most of all, ensuring that they felt informed and empathized with. This paramedic has a LOT of things to do and to think about, and I admire that he felt the family's emotional well being to be one of his top priorities during this tragic event in their lives. In the end, we attempted to resuscitate him for over half an hour, and then called a doctor to pronounce his death. All our charms were not enough. I wonder if, as some people report, he watched us work for awhile before he left, from a corner of the room. I wonder if he feels peaceful now. I'm positive he does. He left behind a widow of 68 years. When we stopped our efforts and she came over to kiss him goodbye, I started to cry.
Who am I, to witness these moments? I feel clumsy and rough, just standing beside people in their softest, saddest moments. I always want to reassure them by crying out, "I care! I'm not just a callous medical system robot, I feel alongside you, and I grieve that you grieve," but of course it is not about me so I am silent. I also think that life is beautiful, even in its ending. How can this be so? I don't know, but I find it to be. It is like shards of glass, or a Picasso, or a burnt forest. Fragments of what it was, but full of beauty nonetheless. This man was sometimes kind, loving, mean, selfish, tired, cranky, heroic, gentle, humorous; all the good and bad and full things we all are every day, and he was unique, and beautiful. And he left. His life is gone.
Who am I, to see this?

Saturday, January 5, 2008


Well, I stuck it out to the bitter end with this book. It was a neat and interesting idea; one half of the novel was a pivotal, transitional week in the life of a woman in her mid forties, and the other half of the book was the same week in the life of her husband. The reality was that neither the woman or her husband was all that interesting. There were a few cliches. There was quite a bit of predictable depressing midlife musings, and the ending reminded me of a Simpson's episode: everything in the end of the story returns to the way it was at the beginning of the story. A return to the status quo. If this week was so 'transitional,' why would this be the case? And why should I invest my time in characters who are boring, just for the sake of an interesting idea?
Carol Shields, while an admirable, Canadian author, tends to pen stories about characters with potential, but not actual, veracity and depth. My favourite of hers is"Unless." At first glance the main character seems uninteresting, bordering on the cliche, but she really manages to climb out of that first impression fairly quickly and to grapple with some actual deep, interesting issues in a sympathetic way. Even "Unless" moves slowly, but "Happenstance?" I was dreading picking it up by the end! I wanted to see it through, because I respect Carol Shields and because I wanted to see what happened, but it really wasn't worth the effort, in my opinion.
The characters were boring and the plot not enough to make up for it, and the literary artistry barely enough to keep me in. So, if you happen across "Happenstance," and you'd like my opinion, I say 'don't bother!'

Friday, January 4, 2008


Ayden just came in the kitchen where I was making lunch with a very contrite look on his face, and said, "I'm sorry, mommy!" Uh oh. He led me to the scene of the crime, which was upstairs in our spare bedroom/playroom, and showed me a plugged in rotating fan, wire cutting pliers, and a faint smell of smoke. He got his hands on the tools used to rip up the carpet, managed to plug the fan in despite a childproof outlet cover, and decided to fiddle with the wire using the pliers. I'm guessing he didn't know the pliers were capable of actually cutting the wire and was fairly surprised when "There was a big flash right by my face and I thought our house was going to catch on fire, mommy." Part of me wants to laugh hysterically and part of me wants to cry. If I get these kids to adulthood alive it will be no minor feat!!!

8 weeks

Cartilage and bones begin to form - At the end of this week your baby will have already completed 1/5th of the journey 'til his birthday!
The basic structure of the eye is well underway - The position is more "newborn" like already!
The tongue begins to develop
Intestines move out of the umbilical cord into the abdomen.
Body grows and makes room - Two months along and this little one is growing inside and out by leaps and bounds!
The fingers and toes have appeared but are webbed and short
Baby's length (crown to rump) is 0.61 inch (1.6cm) and weight is 0.04 ounce (1gm)

Pix of Ayden at school

Ayden looks so serious and focused! I can't believe he's this big already.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

The Kite Runner

I went to a movie tonight! With grown ups! My mother in law and aunt in law (?!) and sister in law (so many friggin inlaws) and i went to see the Kite Runner. I read the book a couple of years ago and it grabbed me and wouldn't let me go. It was one of those books that you grieve when it is over because you love the people so much. (Unlike my current novel, Happenstance by Carol Shields; I kind of don't really like the people in it, even though it's interesting enough to read through to conclusion...really, if you don't like the people in a story what's the point? I'm an avid reader and appreciate the art of literature as much as the next person but still at the heart of my passion for reading is a love affair with characters).
The movie was released recently and we went to see it tonight. I must say, THIS was a film adaptation that does a book justice AND stands alone in its own right. It was a BEAUTIFUL film, I cried for most of the last half of the movie, and all of the actors do a wonderfully compelling job.
A main theme in the story is shame, especially childhood shame, and I can't help but grieve at how powerfully negative a force guilt is in the human experience. It is capable of destroying so much that is beautiful. Why, I wonder, is it so prevalent in our religion? In our holy book? In our religious history? I digress.
My aunt in law said after the movie that in the early part of the story she began to dislike the main character because he was cowardly and did not step in to defend his best friend as he is brutally beaten and raped, but my response to this part of the story was to weep that a child had to carry the weight of guilt of this magnitude, when no child should be asked to be courageous or brave in the face of such evil. I cried that children DO feel guilt, and shame, and heavy responsibility, in an adult world they have no control over and few mechanisms with which to cope. I wished for a world filled with peace, and wind in the trees, and kindness, for my children.
Also interesting how the truth, which the main character learns as an adult, that his childhood best friend is actually his half brother, sets him free from guilt and fills him with bravery beyond imagination. The truth shall set you free.
Anyways, this movie was wonderful and beautiful and grievously tragic. Go see it. And read the book. It's a story not entirely plot driven, so I won't have ruined it for you.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bringing in 2008

Our first day of the new year was marked by an unconscious gift from my children: we all slept in until 9:00 a.m. I'm not sure Matthew has EVER slept that late in the morning, and he's always the first to rouse. Oh, sleep, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways...
I got up and made Amish Oatmeal again~wow, is that ever a good recipe, and I also made good headway in cleaning my kitchen. My house is still in wild shambles post-painting and post-carpeting and post-christmas. I blame the baby. I just don't have the energy to even care. Anyways, I did commence with the kitchen yesterday. I was then on the prowl for something to DO. The boys were restless and fighting, and I didn't want to look at or crawl over the mess anymore (literally, the clean laundry pile requires CLIMBING to get to the boys' bathroom) so we had to get out. On a national stat.
The aquarium was open!! We drove down and spent over two hours watching and learning about belugas, otters, dolphins, sea stars, anemonies, jellies, octopi, and fish, fish, fish. It was AWESOME. We've been to the aquarium many times before, but this was by far the best trip because both boys were totally into it, had the energy to last for the whole tour, and are old enough to really learn some stuff. I love teaching them about biology (well, I love teaching Ayden. Matthew is a kinetic learner and I've yet to really get a grasp on how best to teach him biology without using words) because I find it so fascinating to think about. It also contributed to my enjoyment that there was no traffic to get down there, and the aquarium itself was only moderately busy. The only real bummer for me was that the aquarium no longer serves veggie dogs so I had to feed my kids REAL hot dogs (horror! I usually trick them with soy) because I'd promised them dogs, not knowing they don't have soy anymore. Matthew dropped his dod on the ground two bites in, and Ayden sat for 10 minutes and screamed because I put ketchup on the SIDE of his hotdog weiner instead of ON TOP and now it was TOUCHING THE BUN, and then he ate half and left the rest. $6 pretty much wasted. They ate most of the fruit salad I bought them. So the hot dog adventure was disappointing, but the rest of the trip was awesome.
Then we went to IHOP for supper (good luck finding something to eat on their menu when you are pregnant and can't eat eggs). I had crepes. Yummy. The boys had pancakes.
Awesome day.
Bed time was a bit of a joke. I fell asleep before either of them, and then at 2:45 this morning I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep. I lay there for 2 hours and then gave up and got a snack and turned on the computer. It's 5:00 now. Today should be fun. :P

During my pregnancy with Ayden I had this recurring nightmare that was difficult to wake up from, and it was really really vivid. In the nightmare I would wake up in my bed, open my eyes, and see a huge spider (yuck, yuck) descending onto my face. Usually Brent would wake up to me thrashing around, yelling about spiders, still dreaming. He would wake me up and calm me down. I couldn't figure out why I had this weird recurring nightmare through my whole pregnancy, until recently I did some research on hypoglycemia and discovered that low blood sugar can give you nightmares. Voila!
This pregnancy I've been trying to eat bedtime snacks to defend against nightmares. Two weeks ago I had my first spider nightmare of this pregnancy. There was no Brent to wake me up so I wound up falling out of bed because I thrashed around so much, and woke up after I thumped on the floor with a VERY surprised cat. It was actually quite hilarious. I was mystified because I had had a snack before bedtime! Later I figured out that my snack (popcorn) had very few calories in it, and was probably not enough to fend off the nightmare.
The converse side of this, and my daytime eating to fend off hypoglycemia and morning sickness, is 3 new pounds. I really don't eat that MUCH but I eat every hour or two during the day and all that bedtime snack does is sit around and affix itself to my ass, hence, poundage. I'm active, I exercise, but poundage loves my ass when I'm pregnant. I also only eat healthy stuff: I had some chocolate christmas day and almost threw up. I don't eat fries. I can't have eggs. Those crepes were not healthy but that was unusual, plus my eggless options were french toast (not eggLESS but I probably could have eaten them) and crepes. And I did feel sick after eating them because of the sugar. Fat. Ass. >:( Hoping to devise a solution soon.

I'm going to go try and sleep again.