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what i do in my fishbowl of a kitchen after dark with all the lights on.

in our kitchen, the entire south wall is floor-to-ceiling glass (and sometimes belowthefloor-to-ceiling glass).  after i painted all the trim in there when we moved, i was tempted to not put any kind of curtains up, but todd thought they needed at least something, so we settled on some sheers.

a friend once asked me if i ever felt exposed because of those windows, which i guess never really occurred to me as being a possibility, so i replied, 'not really.  it's not like i do anything weird in my kitchen.'

last night i sat in an armchair right up next to the glass, nursing my baby, reading a book and picking my nose.  that's how i do. 

what they never tell you about breastfeeding.

before i start, i would like to say i'm pretty gung-ho about breastfeeding.  it's free.  it's healthy.  it's supported by the medical community and, let's face it, i could use a few points in my direction in that regard considering i don't vaccinate and am in strong support of red meat and butter.  lots of red meat and butter.

HOWEVER.

i have a bone to pick with the breastfeeding pamphlets.  pretty much any current literature you find on breastfeeding proclaims it to be super convenient for going in public because you don't have to carry around a sterile bottle, or find a source of warm-enough water to mix it with.  and i can grant them that.  but i would like to point out the fact that convenience while in public should not be a selling point for breastfeeding considering that, while it may be hard to find warm water for formula, it's a bit harder to find a public place in which it's appropriate and encouraged to channel your inner aborigini and get all bare-chesty. 

instead, you find yourself, oh, i don't know... huddled in the back of your minivan in the walmart parking lot trying to feed your child while you distract your older two kids with an elmo movie.  hypothetically speaking. convenient? hardly.

also, it is rarely convenient when, upon hearing a child (any child...or adult) cough or sneeze or breathe, your milk lets down and you end up with two half-dollar sized wet spots on the front of your shirt.  'easily remedied by wearing nursing pads,' you argue? considering those are about as absorbent as a page out of the latest Better Homes and Gardens, or as bulky and bunchy-looking as stuffing a tube sock down your shirt, i would like to state again that convenience has nothing to do with the decision to breastfeed.

and lastly, it is far from convenient to be the only person who can feed your baby, or to have to pump in order for someone else to feed them. 

to reiterate, i do not want to come off sounding anti-breastfeeding.  like i said, i'm in strong support of it.  i just think anyone who has breastfed for more than an hour would find that the convenience argument for breastfeeding is downright silly.

get dee gaytah, jekkob. shootum. shootum.

when we moved to our house nearly a year ago, we decided not to pay for cable to save money and brain cells.  on top of it, we have no idea if it's possible to hook up our converter box thing, which means we don't even have channels like PBS and the CW.  (i know what you're thinking, but it is indeed possible to live without One Tree Hill or whatever vampire-sorority show has now replaced it.)

i went into the transition knowing it was well worth it, but also that it wouldn't be easy.  i would clearly miss watching the duggars and daydreaming myself into each episode.  i also anticipated really missing american pickers, anything on HGTV (except 'bang for your buck' and 'house hunters international' - stinkers one and all), and nonstop reruns of scrubs.  i even anticipated missing random shows about aliens on the history channel and also 'antiques roadshow,' not because i ever really watched the latter, but because i liked to know i had the option if i ever felt so inclined due to the receipt of a high-value heirloom or the advent of my 70th birthday.

what i did not anticipate missing nearly as much as i do? SWAMP PEOPLE.

if you have never had the pleasure, swamp people is a reality show about guys in the louisiana bayous who hunt gators for a living. yeah - it's as awesome as it sounds.  one guy wears bibbies with no shirt under them, and a stars and bars doo-rag.  a pair of brothers hunt turtles for dinner.  another guy bathes in bleach.  how can you go wrong with a show like that?!  admittedly, at first, i really hated the show and would make todd turn the channel.  something about lifeless gator bodies remind me of babies.  (as do whole roasting chickens, but that's a story for another day.)  so it sickened me a little.

but once i squelched that inconvenient maternal reaction, swamp people became the best thing that ever happened to my tuesday night.  now that we don't have cable, i'm left with a tuesday-night-gators-and-turtle-eating-shaped hole in my heart.

then a couple of weeks ago, discussion with my chiropractor took a turn for the bayou, and he was genuinely surprised that i like that show because his wife is vehemently anti-swamp-professions and won't watch it with him.  which makes sense to me because baiting a present-day dinosaur with a raw chicken before risking your life to shoot it in the head seems like a distinctly masculine thing to enjoy. 

so, i have to admit, i felt markedly unfeminine after said discussion, but i also left feeling a sense of hope because, until the good doctor mentioned it, i had forgotten i could probably watch episodes online.  feminine sensibilities clearly aside.


also, it's my birthday today.  huzzah!

why i don't trust whirlpool.

the other day we had a couple of friends over, the husband half of which sells appliances and could name the make and model number of all of our kitchen machinery.  when the discussion came around to the Whirlpool Quiet Partner III dishwasher we have, he mentioned that the higher the number (or number of I's), the lower the decibels of sound it makes when running.  which he remarked is kind of misleading.  what if you wanted a really loud dishwasher, so you were all like, III sounds louder than I, i'll take it!  then you get home and can barely hear it and you're all, this is not what i paid for!

so my proposal is that, instead of using roman numerals to (confusingly) indicate the level of noise the Quiet Partner makes, whirlpool should start using different descriptive words in the actual name of the product.  like the Quiet Partner I could be changed to something more like, The Only Semi-Respectful Partner, and the Quiet Partner II could be changed to The Partner Who Sleeps Most of the Time but Also is a Bit of a Mouth-Breather, and the Quiet Partner III could be changed to That Partner Who's Always In the Room but You Forget He's There Until it's Too Late.

just a thought.  i think it would promote transparency in advertising, and also serve to alleviate some confusion.  although i could see where it would serve to instigate some other confusion...so maybe it's a wash.  (and i have volitionally chosen not to expound upon that potential pun.)

why i deserve to have my ideas within the walls of a museum someday.

everybody says davinci was a genius because he invented the scissors.  and also because of a lot of the other genuis-y stuff he managed to do.  but i read somewhere legitimate that he only slept like two hours at a time.

and it really makes me think that, as a mother of a newborn, i'm probably just as brilliant as davinci simply because 'brilliant' is often interchangeable with 'crazy,' and if this is how much sleep davinci got on a regular basis, i'm pretty sure he was just crazy sometimes.  at my current level of sleep, i could totally see myself saying things like, 'next time we go to war, let's build a giant spoon on wheels and hurl stuff at the infidels with it.  plan of attack: owned,' and 'okay, so see these two knives? let's tie them together so we get the cutting power of two knives with the physical exertion of one knife.  what should we call it? sizzers.  no, wait.  scissors.  but it will be pronounced the same.  i just really like the look of the letter c but the 'kk'-sound can kiss my butt.'

also, i'm pretty sure i could paint the mona lisa.  but maybe that's just because i have an unfoundedly high level of self assurance.

how i almost gave birth in a hallway under the watchful and hands-off gaze of ten members of the medical staff.

hey, so i have to tell you about that time i was in labor with finneas and some lady in the parking lot at the hospital ran inside to get me a wheelchair because being helpful to laboring women is a nice thing to do.  so then todd is one-handing the wheelchair and pulling our suitcase behind him, and he manages to get us onto the elevator and up to the fourth floor to deliver but then there are these special automatic handicapped-accessible doors....that have no push button.  so we're standing there, trying to figure out the disability-friendly doors, and these nurses and doctors are standing like twenty feet on the other side of the doors just staring at us trying to get the doors open and talking to each other like, 'i wonder if they know how to work those things.'

so then todd opens the door with one hand and pulls the suitcase through with the other, and i, dilated to nearly ten centimeters at this point, try and skooch the wheelchair through with my foot, kind of like a pumpkin with legs riding a skateboard, and then we get through and the nurse is all, 'why didn't you push the button?' and we were all, 'great question' and she was all 'it was like twenty feet behind you the whole time.'

thank you, nurse.  you have been very helpful.  also, good luck to anyone trying work the handicapped-accessible doors if you are visually handicapped.

finn hadd fo. we call him that for short.

oh my word. finneas turns two weeks old tomorrow! i know it's only two weeks, and in the grand scheme of eternity (or even just in the grand scheme of 2012), it doesn't really seem all that significant...but still. it feels like a long time that has gone by really quickly. if that makes sense.

to everyone who has been praying for us - THANK YOU SO MUCH. i can really feel that we're being covered in prayer. everything has gone so smoothly, especially considering how worried i was. finneas started out knowing which end was up (and by that i mean he knows that dark = sleepytime), and i haven't had even the tiniest bit of baby blues, much less full-blown depressive stuff. please keep praying for that if you have been, since postpartum depression can wait a while before setting in, but so far i'm feeling really good about how things are going.

todd took the last two weeks off, and my mom is here this week, so i've had lots of time to rest, recover, and get to know the newest van voorst, whom i like to call 'baked potato' or 'poops pants.' or finneas. since that's his name. here are some things i've come to appreciate about him over the last two weeks:

..this child can EAT. and eat. and then eat. his biceps are starting to resemble eric booker's.

..his favorite activities include peeing al fresco and pooping in very fresh diapers. give him a brand new pair of pampers and thirty seconds and watch (and listen to) the magic unfold.

..he has already developed character bits for his future in improv comedy. let's see, there's The Dead Guy, Turtleface, The Wet Noodle, Naked and Pissed About It, and Schlumpy McBurps. i have a feeling his knack for truly becoming the character (think: joaquin phoenix, i swear he's that good) will someday fund the implementation of my dream for a fully pimped out retirement condo. (counter-depth mini fridge? comically small patio overlooking a dog park? oh yeah. but all in due time.)

..the sheer strength of will and determination to not succumb to the soothing effects of a pacifier. it's the principle of the matter, and he is nothing if not principled.

so that's finneas in a nutshell. it turns out it's pretty easy to sum up a life if that life is only 13 days long so far.

i'm a jerkwad. you're a jerkwad. and god knows it.

i think there's a common misconception that being a christian has anything to do with being a better person.  that's why there are so many christians out there who point the judgmental finger at others as though they're somehow superior, and so many nonbelievers who feel like they're not good enough for god or something.  (or, conversely, who think they don't need god because they're 'good enough' or 'at least i'm better than so-and-so.')  it's because we all make the mistake of thinking the two kinds of people in the world are 'bad' people and 'good' people.  the closer you are to 'good,' the better off you are in the eyes of god.

but the truth is that there are two kinds of people in the world: dirtbag sinners who deserve hell, and dirtbag sinners who deserve hell but have been saved by the work of jesus.  and you know what? god is not concerned with you becoming a 'better person' after he saves you, either.  he knows you're a dirtbag, he knows he made you out of dust, and the whole reason jesus had to die was because he knows that, as such, we would never be able to earn anything at all worth having - jesus had to do it for us.

but what god is concerned with is christians becoming new people.  not people who cuss less, or are nicer, or go to church every week.  he's concerned with people whose hearts are brand new because they used to be dead in their sin and now they're alive.  they used to be enemies of god, and through nothing they did to deserve it, they're now part of god's family.  as a result, they might end up cussing less or being nicer or going to church more - but it's because they are able to see that god is better than what they are and what they had, not because those things in any way make them better.

i am not a better person than i was before jesus found me.  in a lot of ways, i'm a worse person - i now know what i should do, and i don't always do it.  i now have the spirit of god in me that gives me the power to walk away from sin, and i still often cling to it.  but jesus died to make me new, not to make me better, and i can honestly say i am a new, different, alive person because of it.  and i'm forgiven for my dirtiness.  and that's better than being better.

if you're annoyed by people who spell it 'grey' rather than 'gray,' be prepared to be really annoyed.

i looked in the mirror the other morning and came face-to-face with my dreaded nemesis: the grey hair.  and not just one, but a little chunk of them right in the center where my widow's peak would be if i were christina ricci.  but i'm obviously not christina ricci, as indicated by my grey hairs and my lack of millions of dollars and also the fact that i've never been best friends with casper.

at first, i was in disbelief, so i called todd in to check them.  he reassured me he saw nothing, but after he left and i began examining my head again, it became clear that they weren't just light in color or catching the sunlight strangely or some of those weird hairs we all get (i assume) that just don't have any color to them for some unexplained reason.  no, these were very curly, very coarse and very grey.

i have been waiting for this for a while, but i must say i was shocked to just...wake up...and suddenly have grey hair.  apart from shocked, i was a little bitter that i had to be dealing with this now, what with a newborn in the house and also a three-year-old with the voms and also a postpartum body that won't quit.  apart from bitter, i was all, yeah that sounds about right that i'd get grey hair now.

i will say that there is a silver lining in all this:  within the month, the post-pregnancy hormones will set in (or, the during-pregnancy hormones will set out; i don't know the science behind it all) and all my hair will fall out.  so instead of ever seeing my grey hairs, you will get the opportunity to see a lot more of my forehead and scalp than you ever wanted to see.

sweet timing.


note: yesterday's video embedding code was a stinker.  i hopefully fixed the problem, so go here if you want to see the awesomest church diva of all time.  (the first time i watched it i was drinking a glass of water and did that classic 50's sitcom 'spray it everywhere when you laugh' thing.  no lie.)

random thoughts and tidbits about last week.

for the first time in three labors, i lost my mucous plug, which i can direly tell any skeptics out there is grosser than it sounds.

i am oh-for-three in pooping on the medical staff during labor.  which honestly, i'm pretty proud of.  (although, i DID actually hear myself screaming, 'i feel like i'm going to pee on you!! is that okay?!!'  i didn't actually end up peeing on the midwife, so her permission turned out to be unnecessary, but it was reassuring to have it granted.)

i really liked my natural birth experience, and would definitely consider doing it again, but i will not lie and say i thought it was necessarily better than my epidural with atticus. although todd really liked the way it played out this time, since i wasn't all 'sedated,' as he put it.  i could see that. 

i had considered that i might one day do a home birth.  i don't now think that will ever happen - i have to admit that room service, housekeeping and available overnight babysitting of my newborn are hard to pass up.  (although, i would say that the drawback of all the help at the hospital is that it becomes way overly helpful at times and you're all like, 'why are you in my room, representative from the library? and what are you doing here, professional photographer? have they just invited the entire population of ames to visit me and sell me stuff?'  at least if some sales guy or mormon evangelist shows up to your door after a home birth you don't have to answer.  or so i must forever assume.)

apparently finneas swallowed a bunch of amniotic fluid and kept puking it up overnight in the nursery at the hospital.  they said at one point he turned blue and they had to kind of pound on him to get him breathing again.  it made me glad that i didn't know about it at the time - i would have FREAKED. OUT. and then stopped sleeping altogether just to make sure he didn't die...one more reason to love the 24-hour surveillance available at the hospital.

the doctors told us that they suspect finneas was weighed wrong at birth - he was somewhere between 7 lb 9 oz and 8 lb 6 oz... which is kind of a big difference.  and i'm all, it's a digital scale.  if you don't hire illiterates to read it, shouldn't it be pretty fail-proof?  so we will never know for sure just how much kid i pushed out this time around.

the end.

a birthday party!

atticus has been obsessed with birthday parties lately.  i suspect it's because he thinks we need more thomas the tank engine toys.  whatever the case, he's been talking about them a lot lately.  so i thought it would be fun for them to bring cupcakes to the hospital to celebrate finneas' birthday - you know, make this whole thing less foreign and awkward and generally traumatic.

my mom baked the cupcakes with them and brought them along the last morning we were there.  i think it was perfect timing because it seemed the kids were starting to get a little worn out from the break from our routine life, and it kind of gave them a fun thing to do to keep their minds off of killing each other and destroying the hospital a la john bonham.  (apparently according to todd, who is consistently more accurate and also better looking than wikipedia so i haven't bothered to corroborate this factoid, he - john bonham, not todd - once even left a dead octopus in a hotel room.  and i'm all, 'what?')

anyway.  all this took place the second time the kids visited the hospital, meaning these are not photos of them first meeting finneas; for me to post photos in chronological order would be a) impossible at my current capacity for mental function, and b) inconsistent with the whole course of this entire blog, so maybe someday i'll post pictures of the kids meeting finneas, but not today.  at this point in time as captured forever on 'film,' finneas is old news and cupcakes are the main event.





'i hold it baby!'





ahh, young finneas, you will soon learn that this life is going to be rough for you, full of well intentioned but 'anaconda squeeze'-ing big brothers.


finneas looks thrilled rather cast-off.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY, FINNEAS!

all the gory details.

okay, so, labor details.  i promise there won't be anything graphic, but if you're someone who can't stomach words like 'dilated' and 'contractions,' maybe quit reading now.  pretend my labor consisted of me smelling a flower and then having a dove place finneas in my arms.

i woke up at 6:15 on tuesday with contractiony-cramps, but they were pretty far apart, not super regular, and not super strong.  so i went downstairs to tell todd i thought 'today might be the day' but that he should head to work and i'd call him as things progressed.  an hour later, as he was pulling into the parking lot at work, i called him again and told him this was definitely 'it,' but that it was slow going and that he could get some stuff done at work before heading home.

todd got home about 11:00, and my mom arrived about an hour later.  since both my previous labors were only eight hours start-to-finish, i figured i wouldn't have much more time to labor at home before needing to leave.

not the case.

my contractions never really got regular, and were still only 15-20 minutes apart after lunch, and sometimes kind of petered out all together.  todd and i went on a walk to speed things up, and contractions were around five minutes apart while we were walking, but slowed down again once we got home.  it was actually kind of nice, though, since my mom and sister were there, and the kids were running around, and all manners of 'normal life' were still happening, i was able to keep my mind off of things in between contractions and 'laboring' was actually relatively easy for a lot of the day.

around 5:30, i was starting to get really discouraged because we were coming up on twelve hours and my contractions were getting much stronger, but not necessarily closer together.  the midwife called to see if i thought i would be coming in yet that night and if it was 'real labor,' because if so, she'd sleep in the on-call room instead of going home.  the longer i was at home, the more i worried that she'd have slept there for no reason.  (maybe a silly thing to think at the time, but i was kind of preoccupied with it and pretty anxious about it.)

around 8:30 i decided i wanted to go to the hospital, even though we had decided to stay at home as long as possible.  my contractions were super intense, though still pretty far apart, and i just wanted to use the whirlpool tub and rest and know i wouldn't have to go anywhere after that.  so we grabbed our things, and on the way to the car, my contractions suddenly sped up and were happening with only a few seconds in between.

i was really worried about the car ride, since we'd have to drive 20 minutes to the hospital and i could only imagine how difficult it would be to have tons of contractions in the car where i couldn't stand upright or have someone push on my back (which was a HUGE help in managing up until that point).  it was a total God-thing though, because i only had two contractions the entire way there.

once we got up to our room (we checked in at exactly 9:00), i stopped at the end of the bed with a major contraction, and after that i could hardly move again.  every time i tried to even get my leg up on the bed, another one would come, and then another, and another. 

the midwife checked me and i was just praying she'd say i was at least dilated to eight (if not, i was pretty sure i'd get an epidural because i couldn't imagine doing this much longer).  she checked and was like, 'uh, you're at like nine and three-quarters.  next time you have a contraction you should push.'  so...i did.  twice.  the first push, my water broke.  the second push, we'd had a baby.  at 9:19.  and not sans SCREAMING AT THE TOP OF MY LUNGS things like, 'somebody help me!' and 'i'm never doing this again!' and your basic, 'AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGGG!'

it was insane.  after laboring so slowly all day, it was surreal that he was here and i didn't even have time to haul myself all the way into bed (i had only gotten halfway up into the bed before he was born).  i am so thankful that it played out the way it did, though.  my labor at home was easy-going and there were plenty of good distractions, and the hardest part (pushing) was over in five minutes or less.  i didn't have horrible contractions in the car, and we really did labor at home until the very last minute, but there wasn't any sense of panic in getting to the hospital.



i am SO GRATEFUL that this went so much better than it could have, and even that i imagined it might.  a huge, huge THANK YOU to everyone who prayed for us - we definitely felt it!

photos of the newest v.v.









FINALLY.

finneas haddon foxe v.v. is now present and accounted for, and is also blonde.  who'd have guessed?

weight: 8 lb, 6 oz
length: 21.75 inches
time: 9:19 p.m.
date: 3/6/12
ready to conquer opponents with: signature 'cobra strike' move

long story short, i showed up at the hospital 19 minutes before he came out.  i'll post more later today, and also put up some pictures, but it was a long day yesterday and a late night, so i'm going to get some shut-eye (about to become a rare commodity) and get to it later.  keep checking back!

THANK YOU SO MUCH for your thoughts and prayers!

freezer cooking

freezer meals have been a lifesaver these last few days.  i made a bunch of them over the course of january, and i had decided we'd start eating from the stash starting march 1, baby or no.  i have really been glad to not have to think much about dinner prep at all the last few days.  the thing i LOVE about freezer meals is that the prep is all done, as is most of the cleaning up, so it's really a matter of turning on the oven and scrounging up a side dish (raw veggies are basically the best - also no prep or cleanup) and dinner's ready.

when i first tried freezer cooking (i think when i was pregnant with penelope), it was totally overwhelming because i had no idea what i was doing.  i've done it quite a bit since, just because it ends up making life SO MUCH EASIER in the long run, and here are things i've found work for me:

1.  i don't spend a whole day putting together a million different kinds of things.  instead, in january, i just wrote out a menu plan of meals that would freeze easily and then made two or three at a time.  monday night is lasagna night? instead of making one, i made three and froze two of them.  this seriously cuts down on clean up (you'd have to clean up the dinner dishes either way, right?), and really doesn't take much more time than you'd normally alot to meal prep.  (it does take a little maneuvering with the grocery budget, though, to pay for march's meals in january. just an observation.)

2.  i line my freezer-bound casserole dishes with foil and put the casserole inside the foil.  that way, after it's frozen solid, you can just run the bottom under hot water to release the foil, take the entire casserole out of the dish and pop it in a large ziplock bag.  that way i can reuse the casserole dish; plus, it takes up way less space in the freezer, which is at a premium since i only have a side-by-side.  (plus, who has like 20 extra casserole dishes just laying around waiting to hang out in the freezer for months on end?)

3.  sometimes it's equally as quick, but takes up way less space, to just put together a sauce or ingredients and do some basic cooking later.  last night we ate baked mac and cheese - i had made the sauce beforehand, then just cooked some noodles quick and poured it all into a dish to cook.  total effort last night? about 10 minutes to cook the noodles.  (when you freeze liquids in a ziplock bag, lay them flat on a shelf or cookie sheet; once they're frozen, they'll stay organized a lot easier and won't take up as much space.)

4. i put frozen casseroles directly in the oven without thawing.  usually at 375* for around an hour and a half, give or take depending on the size of the casserole.  if it has cheese on top, i cover it with foil until the very end so it doesn't get all dried out and gross.

5.  i undercook any noodles in the casseroles on the front end so they don't end up all mushy when i go to bake them.  i use rice pasta, so it might be a little different timing, but i boil the noodles for about half the time the package recommends before adding them to the casserole, then when they bake they soften up the rest of the way.

6.  i also put together 'kits' of things, so we're not just eating casseroles for a month straight.  for instance, a 'pizza kit' includes premixed (but unbaked) pizza dough, cooked italian sausage, some frozen chopped green peppers, and a bag of cheese.  all i have to do the day-of (after thawing in the fridge) is spread and bake the dough (10 minutes), open a jar of pizza sauce, and add all the toppings.  the only pan i have to clean up is the pizza pan.  easy.  this also works great for tacos (precooked seasoned meat, tortillas, cheese) and even bacon burgers (pre-cooked bacon, pre-formed burger patties, cheese slices and buns).  just add whatever fresh ingredients you need at the time.

7. some other easy alternatives to casseroles that freeze really well are crock pot 'kits,' most soups, and marinated or seasoned meat.  i just dumped some seasonings in with some chicken legs, and later on i'll thaw them and bake as normal.  marinade is really good because as the meat thaws, it's also doing the work of marinating right in the bag, so then you just dump it out and bake it. 

not sure if that helps anyone out, but i'd really encourage you to try it at least once.  (maybe soon i'll post some of the recipes that i've found work really well in the freezer.) it's awesome even for when unexpected company comes to just be able to grab a lasagna out of the freezer and act like you slaved away on it all day, just to make them feel guilty for showing up unexpectedly.

GAAAAAARRRRRG.

so, looooonnnng story short (but not short enough), i'm still pregnant.  my due date came and went and here we are.  as you can maybe guess, i'm downright thrilled.



surprisingly less grouchy than i'd expect to be taking this picture.

i have to tell you, i'm getting antsy to get this kid out.  i know that the day we bring him home, i'm going to be all, 'what was i thinking they're so much quieter when they're inside,' but right now i'm singularly focused on the one goal of not being pregnant anymore.  so i'm compiling a list of things i've heard help toward that end.

- spicy foods

- castor oil (yikes)

- foot massages

- sex

- weird chiropractic/acupressure stuff around your ankles (this is what sent me into labor with penelope)

- chinese food (probably for the same reason as castor oil)

- red raspberry tea and other herbally stuff

- running up and down the stairs/jumping on a trampoline, etc.

- acupressure on your hand

- sitting on a birth ball

- eating fresh pineapple

- having your membranes stripped (a little more interventionist, but this is how i finally got stuff going with atticus...five days after my due date.  hopefully i won't have to wait that long this time around.)

PEOPLE.  ANY MORE SUGGESTIONS?! i am about to get really serious about exercising my parental authority and kicking this kid out on my time.  my house, my rules.  so any nuggets of advice you can pass my way would be much appreciated! 

how my ridiculous bucket list has anything to do with anything.

when i was sixteen, i had this list of stuff i wanted to do before i die.  and because i was sixteen, it did not have things like 'never watch citizen kane ever again' and 'stop being so stinking afraid of snorkeling' and 'pass for a college student when i visit campustown,' and other more refined things like i would put on a list now. (if i made a list now.  it seems that only sixteen-year-olds have the wherewithal do stuff like that.  which is a problem, because sixteen-year-olds tend to put really stupid or totally bizarre stuff on their lists.

or maybe that was just sixteen-year-old paige.)

i don't remember much about my list.  i know it had 176 things on it, which is pretty ambitious if you think about it.  i know it had something on it about learning the seven chakras.  i'm positive it said something about being able to quote john lennon lyrics in day-to-day conversation.  and i'm also sure it mentioned cooking a whole meal entirely from things i grew...which actually might stay on my adult bucket list.  but the thing i remember most vividly is that my #1 goal in life was "get religious."

sure, i always considered myself more or less a christian.  i believed in jesus, i knew he died for my sin on the cross, and i was a decent, relatively moral person.  i figured if i died, i'd get into heaven because i'd done enough good to outweigh the bad - i got good grades, i was nice to people, the only time i've ever been drunk was two days before my twenty-first birthday.  stuff like that.  but deep down, i had this bitterness and loneliness and confusion, and these memories of things that i had done or thought that i was so ashamed of.  and regardless of how hard i worked at being good and doing the right things, those things were lurking down there, and i was terrified that someone would find out.  and i guess i thought that 'getting religious' would solve that.

my senior year of high school, through a series of people and events (one of which was having a pizza thrown at me by an ex-boyfriend with a lip ring - i'll have to tell you that story sometime), god smacked me in the face with one very important truth: good enough is not enough.  perfection is what gets you into heaven, makes it possible to have any kind of meaningful relationship with god.  and compared to that standard, i wasn't good enoughand couldn't be.  i was going to hell even though i had done most things right in life and there was nothing i could do to change that.  and that's kind of a scary thought for a seventeen-year-old to absorb.

i was not, and never would be, good enough.  i would never have it all together, i would never be able to escape the shame of the things that i did that i could never tell anyone about (but that god already knew).  i would always be dirty.  but then he slapped me in the face with this little nugget: jesus is perfect. and not only that, but the whole reason he died on the cross was to trade me - his life for mine, his sinlessness for my failed attempts and shamefulness.  he would give me his perfection and i would be good enough.  not because i had earned it, but because jesus had, and he was offering it to me.

i can't describe to you what...relief...and joy... and, i don't know, weightlessness i felt.  i didn't have to be ashamed of failing anymore.  i didn't have to fix my brokenness and loneliness and bitterness myself.  and i'll be honest and tell you i struggled for a really long time with guilt over accepting jesus' death for me, because i obviously didn't deserve it.  and that's still true.  i will never deserve it and i will always be a screw-up when left to my own devices.  but the bible makes it clear that no one deserves it, and he offers it to us freely anyway. and not only that, but he doesn't regret it when we take him up on the offer and let him stand in our place, be condemned and die for our sin, and we get to live in freedom from the weight of it all and the death that it brings.  we get to live.  i got to live, and i don't deserve it, but i am so grateful.

and his offer is for you, too.  he's not waiting for you to get your crap together.  he's not waiting for you to be good enough.  he's not waiting for you to get bangs or some trendy greek tattoo or whatever it is that makes you look like you 'fit in' at church.  his offer is for right now, however you are and whatever baggage you bring with you.  recognize that the things you do, the good stuff and the bad stuff, is nothing compared to what jesus did for you.  repent of - turn away from - all the stuff you're relying on to make it through this life on your own, and believe in this GOOD NEWS.

now, i'm not necessarily saying we should punch meteorologists in the jugular. per se.

apparently tuesday was supposed to be doomsday. rain, ice all over the road, fluctuating temperatures and constant varied forms of precipitation wreaking havoc all around the midwest.

so, of course, you know me; i freak out. i imagine all these worst-case-scenarios where i go into labor in the middle of the night, my sister not getting here in time to watch the kids, my parents dying in some 'ice road truckers' daredevil attempt to get up here in time for us to go to the hospital. meanwhile, we load up the van - juveniles and all - to make it to the hospital in time, only to be confronted with the crappy roads ourselves, and i have my baby in a van while my whole family watches. then we all die of exposure and no one can even sell our van to help pay for funeral expenses because it smells like afterbirth.

cheery.

well, i bet you can guess what happened on tuesday. nothing.

oh, i mean it rained. a little. a smattering. and it was kind of cold, i guess. and the wind earned a solid "C." so i guess somebody somewhere (probably in san diego) could categorize it as inclement. but worth a freak-out (and the resulting glimmering hope that at least we'd be immortalized in a lifetime movie)? no.

and i'm struck by how often this has happened this winter. where all the weather people are like, O.M.G. it's time to dig a hole into the very crust of the earth with your own bare hands for shelter because THIS IS IT PEOPLE. and then they're all like, whoops i meant a 30% chance of 'wintry mix.'

and it makes me wonder a) how we have apparently regressed in our ability to predict weather patterns with the advent of related technology, b) how much of this is human error and how much can be blamed on droids, and c) how much meteorologists get paid to suck at their jobs all the time. because i bet it's a lot compared to other jobs you get paid to suck at. like customer service based out of india. or mopping the movie theater floor. or politics in most forms. (eh, i bet you get paid more to suck at politics than you do to suck at meteorology. i'll throw them that bone, at least.)

so anyway. all that being said: if meteorologists are at all responsible for spreading the news about global warming, as i suspect they might be, we can all just laugh that off as a definite 'whoops, their bad' and get on with our lives. because they obviously have no expertise in the general category of 'weather and other temperature-related phenomena.'