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Friday, September 28, 2007

California Dirt

Let me tell you about our windows. Because we live next to LAX, in the part of town that gets hit with the most airplane noise, our apartment has been decked out with quadruple paned windows. These things are heavy duty - and for the first two years we've had them neither my husband, our neighbors, nor our apartment manager could figure out how to get the windows out to clean them.

So they were pretty dirty - as you can imagine. About a month ago, I was seized with the compulsion to clean every inch of our apartment in preparation for our baby. And this included our Fort Knox windows. With a little investigation, I was able to find someone who showed us how to get each pane out, but the work was heavy enough that it required man strength.

For that reason, I called on my Dad to come help Dwayne clean the windows. The guys worked diligently, spending all morning pulling each pane out of each window in each room of our apartment. Finally, the work was done. We got everything sparkling and I was a happy pregnant lady.

Now, fast forward four weeks - the Fall season has begun. I love Fall. In fact, I crave it every year, but here in California it hardly changes. True -- the air gets cooler, people stop going to the beaches, and perhaps one tree every mile or so turns red, but the days are still persistently sunny and warm. It's a bit disconcerting.

You can understand then, that I was so excited when last weekend we had a decent-sized thunderstorm. Perhaps the first I've really seen in California with lightening included! I was so excited. I opened all the windows, so I could hear it falling. I opened the door, stuck my head out, and was instantly wet. Rain this heavy rarely ever falls in LA, and especially near the ocean where we live. The rain was so heavy that it fell through our bedroom window, ran down the wall, and even got our comforter wet! I was so excited! Finally, I was getting a little taste of Fall, or some season other than the perpetually perky sunshine of LA.

The next morning, I walked out into the living room, opened the curtains, and breathed deep of the crisp morning air. But then I saw it - caking the crevaces, the corners, and the panes of my nicely cleaned windows. California dirt.

Does this happen in other parts of the country? I don't remember. Do you battle layers of mud/dirt being caked on your windows, cars, or pavement when it rains? Or does it rain so frequently that it keeps things clean? The opposite is true here. Dirt builds up for a year so that when it finally does rain it makes everything more dirty than it was before!

Oh well, at least my windows were clean for a few weeks.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

For An Expectant Mother

- Taken from "Hours of Devotion: Fanny Neuda's Book of Prayers for Jewish Women" -

Almighty One -- the one from whom life comes,
From whom the strength for life
And the joy of life arises --
You have been mindful of me
And have given me this sweet joy;
The prospect of becoming a mother.
Beneath my heart, I feel the seed of a new life
That shall, through me, come to see
The light of the world --
My husband's child and mine,
A new being born of our wedded joy,
A new bond born of our wedded love.

Parent of all, I thank you
For having given me, your servant,
The blessing of motherhood.

In your wisdom you have spoken the ominous words,
I will let your pangs be great in childbearing;
In pain shall you bear children.

Should we be permitted to mutter and complain that you,
In your great goodness, imposed this on us?
Wise and good are all your decrees.
For long months you allow our unborn children
To rest beneath our hearts until they ripen into life;
Allowing us to gain the knowledge and insight
That we still lack in taking up this task.
You have coupled this time with pangs and pains
Because every pain, every discomfort we feel,
Should remind us that we are becoming mothers,
Should guide the soul to recall
The exalted task and decree that we are accepting.
And why shouldn't we gladly bear the fleeting pangs
And joyfully carry this blessed burden?
Why shouldn't we gladly forgo
Some comforts and pleasures
And accept some sacrifices
For the sweet and fulfilling experience of motherhood,
For the good fortune and blessing of having children?
For our children shall be
As fruit-bearing trees in God's orchard.
For God is the one who allows us
To continue to blossom through our children,
The one who makes us so rich and fortunate
Through the precious treasures
Of a child's love and loyalty.

Parent of All, may you allow the tender fruit within me
To thrive and ripen into a perfect, healthy child,
And bless this child with a strong body
And a beautiful, pious soul.
Grant me also the constancy, discretion, and restraint
To refrain from anything that might harm or endanger
My unborn child, that I might always be aware of it
And guard myself against damaging influences,
Never allowing myself to become overwhelmed
By fear, anger, grief, sorrow,
Or anything else that agitates and disturbs
The soul's tranquility.
May you hear me, O God, my refuge,
In whom I hope and trust. Amen.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Baby Shower & My Sister

I'm tired today - didn't fall asleep until 4am because my head was spinning with details about what still needs to get done. Also the baby was particularly active - kicking my ribs and digging into my pelvic floor.

I thought I might show you pictures of the Baby shower this past weekend. They're below. It was wonderful. I was reminded that I have a great support system here in LA and I marvel at how God has brought so many wonderful people into my life these past four years.

The only thing missing from the day was my sister's presence. It would have been a little hard for her to make it since Annie lives in New Zealand.

This makes me think about my own past as a missionary kid. I rarely saw my grandparents, aunts, and uncles. I didn't really get to know my family until the age of 14 when we moved back to the states for good. This separation didn't seem that traumatic at the time. I just remember that I loved getting gifts from my grandparents in the states, and I loved having my American cousins come visit.

I also remember that Family Reunions were really exciting. I loved them, and I think they were particularly special for everyone. There's something to be said about not being with your extended family for years at a time and then all of a sudden being dropped into their company. You marvel at each other and the ways that you've changed and grown and matured. With each consecutive visit you seem like new creations to one another.

It's a little strange to think that my kids are going to have this same experience with their "Aunt Annie" and her family.

At any rate, I can't wait for my sister to come visit in January and meet her new niece! We miss each other for sure, but I know God will touch what little time we have together and make it memorable.

Here are some pictures of the Baby Shower:

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Charlie Horse

I knew coming into the third trimester that many women get leg cramps. I watched the little videos on and read about it in my pregnancy books.

Our birthing class instructor, Michelle, even warned us about it. "What are you supposed to do when you get leg cramps?" she asked the class.

"Beat the hell out of it," piped up one husband from across the room. We all chuckled.

"That's right, massage the area and use your breathing excercises!" Michelle said cheerily.

Yesterday morning, at 6am, the leg cramps hit. Two charlie horses - one in each calve! Remembering Michelle's words, I reached around my big belly, grasped at my calves, tried to massage them and breathe all at the same time - he he he who! Instead, all that came out was - ow ow ow ow!

Until this point I've been psyching myself up to attempt un-medicated labor and delivery. I've thought to myself, "I can tough out the pain, especially armed with my breathing excercises."

But once those Charlie horses hit all I could think was, "I can barely handle charlie horses. How am I supposed to handle contractions!!"

I've been hobbling ever since. Man, I didn't know leg cramps could be so brutal!