Thursday, December 31, 2009

Confidence in the Great Physician - Suspicion About Everyone Else!

It came today. The resolution letter. (See my post "Faxing Away A Year's Worth of Tears I knew it would because of the conversation I had with Anthem several days ago inquiring as to whether they got my latest addendum to the grievance. One more bump along the way. There were so many bumps along the way, including the initial denial of the grievance. Lots of phone calls, yet another letter, and so much time spent on the phone. Was it worth it? I suppose so. It wasn't lost on me, however, that I got this letter on the last day of 2009. Perhaps it's symbolic of being done with the old things in the past year and starting 2010 off with a fresh, new, hopeful start. I was surprised at how I felt as I first scanned the letter. Fear. I felt a wave of fear wind my stomach up in a tight knot. Wow, I thought, this is real. All the words are in black and white. And then, "All of your concerns you shared have been investigated fully by our Quality Management Department." OK.
     At any rate, it's over. This is "closure," right? In a bittersweet way I suppose. Apparently, Anthem received the responses from the doctor and the hospital on December 24th. It now gets handed off to the legal department at Anthem and they will decide which course of action they will take with the doctor and hospital, if any, now that they have both sides of the story and all my medical records.  If any formal disciplinary actions are taken against the doctor and hospital it will appear on the website of the Department of Consumer Affairs. That information is made public to inform people of any problems with licensed individuals in the State of California. The public nature of the information seems protective of consumers more than anything.
     In fact, I was looking up an obstetrician on that website awhile ago who I know was formally disciplined. Next to his name it said "Probation completed." I had heard the story about this doctor a couple of years ago. Apparently, his gross negligence - not responding to calls from the nursing staff - led to the death of a young patient. He was sent away to an exotic location (I'm not kidding) for "training" or something like that for six weeks. The hospital was put on probation for several years, the nursing staff was questioned and deposed and traumatized (again) by all the disciplinary measures taken against the hospital, massive lawsuits against everybody and their brother ensued and it was just A-W-F-U-L.
     At the park about 8 months ago I met this woman with a young baby. We got to talking about her labor and delivery. She proceeds to tell me that her delivery was quite traumatic because the baby was born in the bed and no doctor or nurse was around to assist with the delivery. The woman had an epidural so she didn't feel the baby emerge under her bed sheet. She just saw blood and then looked underneath the sheet and voila! there was her baby.  Apparently, she and her husband overheard her nurse calling her doctor several times, BUT HE NEVER RESPONDED TO THE CALLS TILL IT WAS TOO LATE. You know who that doctor was? You guessed it. The doctor I described in the paragraph above. Apparently, over a decade later this doctor still hasn't changed his negligent ways.
     Want to hear something even scarier? I almost went to see him for my pregnancy with Julia. He didn't take my insurance.(Phew! Having an HMO has its unanticipated advantages I guess).On doctor ratings websites he had glowing reviews.On the Department of Consumer Affairs Medical Board website, however, he had completed probation the month I was inquiring about whether he took my insurance. I think for a small fee I could've gotten more details as to why he was put on probation. Perhaps that's what I'll recommend to women who want to choose a doctor. The ratings websites for doctors are limited. The Medical Board has way too few reports of "bad" conduct by doctors. However, with that one doctor in particular had that woman checked him out perhaps she would have chosen a different doctor. Her delivery probably wouldn't have been so scary. Who knows?
     Don't get me wrong. I'm NOT anti-doctor. My dad and father-in-law are both doctors. Both men have cared for thousands of patients over the years with compassion and integrity. My mom and stepmom were labor and delivery nurses. They, too, cared for many women with kindness and competence. I have utmost respect and admiration for medical professionals, including my younger sister who's been an ICU nurse for over 17 years. One of my close friends is a new med/surg oncology nurse. They both tell me their stories. I'm amazed they can do what they do shift after shift.
     Perhaps one motivation for my grievance came from all the hardworking and caring medical people in my family. It's appropriate to keep the medical profession at its best. Sometimes doctors and nurses need help when they've lost the vision they had at the beginning of medical/nursing school, the memory of when they took the Hippocratic Oath - "First, do no harm"- or when they're having a bad day, week, year...Perhaps disciplinary measures really help most of those doctors and nurses to take stock, reevaluate, make changes. But then there are always those doctors who never really learn. My prayer and voice to others is to do thorough research, ask around, PRAY if you have any concerns about a health care provider.
     Who really knows? I return to my steadfast belief that God is sovereign "over the affairs of men." And he's watchful. Scripture describes him as the Great Physician. How comforting and revealing that that would be one of the names of God. When I found out several days after Julia was born that my whole church prayed that my delivery would go well just 2 hours before Julia was born, I started crying and shook at relief that God really came through for me. What would have happened had they not prayed? But they did. Thank you Lord Jesus.I've been pondering the fact that all things in our lives are meant to point to the glory of Jesus Christ. My prayer and hope about this grievance I filed was that somehow that would happen. Who knows? God does. I can remind myself of that - again. And choose the title of this post as I  have really come to experience things. May God be glorified!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Held Captive in the Dentist's Chair

     Been to see your dentist lately?  Ever thought about the fact that we're held captive as we're reclining in that fabulous vinyl, hydraulically -operated chair with the little plastic-lined drool pad attached to us with little clips around our neck? Let's not forget the bright light shining in our face as the dentist skillfully utilizes each and every little sharp-pointed, stainless steel tool (does she have to use ALL of them?!) and of course, the water drill. Bzzzzz! Bzzzz! Are you feeling the water spraying sensations and loud drill sounds in your ear right now? Sorry, don't mean to bring back bad memories. Anyway, yesterday's appointment was a little more "captivating" than usual.
     My dentist, thankfully, is very sweet. She relishes talking about recipes and food.  I'm quite grateful, too, because she will frequently offer yogurt or lychee fruit to my kids if she hears them say, "I'm hungry!" And, of course, they're ALWAYS hungry at the dentist's office (Pavlov, anyone?). Additionally, I got my favorite and frequently requested b-b-q pork recipe from her. Anyway, needless to say, I always leave there hungry.
     She also has six kids and fourteen grandchildren. In fact, there's a playroom in her office with toys her kids played with (think "vintage toys") and a small tv that plays videos. It's great for me and my kids when we're all getting our teeth cleaned. We go religiously every 6 months and I usually break it up between two visits because, as you'll see, it's better not to bring my littler ones if I can avoid it. Because she is the only one that cleans our teeth (her dental hygienist - the lovely Viola - only takes x-rays and flosses our teeth at the end), and she takes her time (she's very thorough! Ouch!), the wait to see her can be quite long. In fact, when Tim has his appointment he frequently falls asleep in the chair. His snoring can be heard throughout the whole office! Anyway, the playroom has served us quite well throughout the years.
     So, it was my turn to have my teeth cleaned and Daisy, Chloe, and Elena were with me. All of them had already had their dental needs taken care of. So, I'm sitting in the chair and Daisy walks in and says that she wants to watch. Uhh...ok..."Don't touch anything!" She settles herself into a stool that is quite a bit higher than my reclining chair and looks down into my mouth. "What's all that stuff in yo' mouf?! Is the denist cleaning yo teef? I can see all yo teef! What are all dees buttons fo?" Bla, blah, blah.As she's asking all these questions, her little face is close to mine and spit from her mouth is falling onto my bottom lip and into my mouth. Eww...gross! All I can say is: "Ugh-Day-ee-do tu duh bu!" The dentist nicely says, "Oh, Daisy, don't touch the buttons." And then Dr. W  takes the tools out of my mouth and I tell Daisy quite firmly, "Get Elena for me!"
     As the dentist goes back to work ever so determined to rid my mouth of plaque, Chloe comes in and sits on the stool previously occupied by Daisy. Dr. W is called out of the room and Chloe says to me, "What's this button?" She proceeds to press it and my chair immediately moves to an upright sitting position. Shazam! "Uh, that's what it's for, Chloe. Where is Elena?!" Elena walks in. "Please take them for a walk around the block, or something, anything!" Apparently, they had tired of the playroom and there were no intriguing videos that they hadn't already watched before. Elena responds, "They never listen to me!" Ugh...I plead with her to try again and I can't remember whether I threatened or bribed Daisy and Chloe. Dr W came back to persist in her torture, I mean, finished cleaning my teeth and I was blessedly on my way.

     I had planned on being the first one to have my teeth cleaned so that the toy room would hold their interest till I was done. It didn't work out that way...this time, that is. Next time, things will be different!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Gift Giving Tim-Style

Perhaps you got an idea of what my darling husband is like by his culinary, uh, efforts, in the kitchen. Wait till you hear about the gifts he's lavished on me over the years!

I got to thinking about Tim's gift giving style after we came back from Target 2 Saturday's ago. As the Christmas season began I thought about how much I love buying gifts and do all the gift buying (you'll soon realize why), but that Tim is kind of left out of the whole thing.He's never minded, but I didn't want to be selfish. So, we're at Target on Saturday evening after a dinner date and I point out a couple of things I had in mind for the girls. He responds:

"I can get that at a yard sale!"

"Tim!" I say rather shocked at the idea of going to yard sales for Christmas presents. It's actually not a bad idea, and Tim has really scored at yard sales in the past. It just didn't sound right to me.

We head down the Wii game aisle. "I know the girls have been wanting this one for sure," I announce, pointing to the exact game Camille had mentioned a week earlier.

"Are you sure they won't be on sale after Christmas?"

"No, they won't. Come on Tim. What fun is Christmas morning if the girls have to go shopping the next day? That's weird!"
We leave the store sans Christmas gifts for the girls. Tim related to me this week that he "really needed to start hitting the yard sales."

"Knock yourself out," I tell him.

Our first Christmas together Tim got me a lovely piece of lingerie. I looked at the size and said, "This is too small for me." He replies, "Maybe you could lose weight so that you could fit into it." Um, wrong thing to say to your new wife of three months. And then there was our 3rd anniversary 2 weeks after our firstborn child was born. I was eight days overdue and pushed for over two hours getting that huge baby out. At Beckham Place in Pasadena several weeks later Tim's anniversary gift for me was a 3 inch square mirrored magnet with a white lamb imprinted on it that said, "I love ewe."

"A magnet?!" I said to him.

"Well you told me to stop buying you flowers because it was too expensive." Um...that's not quite what I meant.

And then there was my birthday this year. I found a box of blonde hair color in his top drawer while putting his t-shirts away. I start laughing and take it to him. "Do you have plans for this?"

"It's for your birthday. I had a coupon for it."

"But it's such a bright blonde color."

"You're blonde."

"I was blonde when I was five!"

Interestingly enough, my responses have changed from, uh, "not good," to laughter. I think my husband's odd sense of gift giving is funny. It makes me laugh because I no longer take it personally. That someone could think way he does is amusing to me. I usually now give him a list of specific things I want from him, complete with detailed descriptions, price, and aisle number. Or, the girls help him with what they know I like. Sometimes, I just buy myself a present and tell him what he got me. "Oh, great!" he says, relieved because he knows I'm not going to return it like so many gifts in years past, and he's not going to get the silent treatment or a tantrum from me anymore.But laughter and making fun of him - oh yeah!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Dieting During Christmas

Crazy, huh? Starting a new diet on December 1st? Think about it. It's the perfect time to start a new diet. (This has nothing to do with Tim's unappetizing cooking, either. He isn't really allowed near the stove with a pan.) I give myself Saturday as a "free day" because I can bear the deprivation and salads and fruit and nonfat yogurt and counting calories knowing that on Saturday I can go to Bean Town and blissfully consume an orange chocolate chip scone. On Saturday nights Tim and I go out on a hot date (well, maybe not too hot - it is colder these days...)and I usually pick at what he orders (hopefully something with fries!)  while enjoying endless refills of Diet Coke. It's heavenly. Not only do I have some alone time with my handsome husband and some meaningful adult conversation, we usually go to some tasty place. We love Island's, Claim Jumper, Cheesecake Factory, the new Stonefire Grill, and of, course, the Corner Bakery. With my family we usually try different dim sum restaurants and Thai food. We both love Indian Cuisine and I've been wanting to try a Brazilian b-b-q place, Chiarrascurro, one of these days. Anyway, so Saturdays are my "fun food" day.
    Dieting has been a strange experience for me throughout my life. I've always been a little overweight with periods of thinness or heaviness depending on the season. My three approaches to dieting have been: 1) consuming 1,600 calories a day and getting plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean dairy products and limited refined sugar, 2) eating whatever I have a desire for but only when I'm really hungry and eating only till I'm satisfied, and 3) Weight Watchers and counting "points." I've tried all three approaches several times and sometimes I've been successful and sometimes I haven't been. One amazing thing I discovered with the "eat anything I want, but only very small portions" is that I lost 18 pounds in three months, ate cake for breakfast (I really think Costco has the best tasting cakes for the money!) and I didn't exercise at all. I loved that diet and was able to keep it up somewhat when I was pregnant with Leanne. Then exhaustion, not feeling well, and being distracted made it harder for me to keep up with that approach.

     With all three methods I never could tell why one was successful or not because they all worked at various times. So I've been praying about this issue for a long time and asking God to help me. I really resist trendy, "bandwagon" approaches to dieting. God knows my body, my weaknesses, and what I need. So, it came to me to keep a food diary everyday, except Saturday of course, and be faithful to it just until my 40th birthday in February. I'll re-evaluate at that point. I do feel like my ability to stick with this plan (I'm on week 2 and I've been very disciplined) is ONLY the grace of God. I cannot muster the will  power or desire on my own. It has to be a work of his spirit in my heart and mind.
     What has been discouraging and shocking (still) has been how high my weight has gotten up to. I can trace back how that happened. It was in the fall of 2005 and I had just found out I was pregnant with Daisy. My pregnancy came about sooner that I had planned and I was a bit shocked. Add to that the novelty of cable television and Food Network. Then add Giada DeLaurentiis and her fabulous, scrumptious tv show "Everyday Italian." I watched that show religiously and tried many of her recipes. I love her cooking. I liken it to "food pornography," however, and no longer watch her show. I just can't resist trying her recipes, so I abstain from even turning her show on. (Plus, she needs to cover up her chest! She really flaunts her boobs sometimes and it irritates me!) I gained a whopping 60 pounds during my pregnancy with Daisy. No wonder she was over 9 1/2 pounds! All my other pregnancies I had usually gained between 32 and 40 pounds. So, I'm still fighting to lose those extra 20 plus pounds. Before I got pregnant with Julia I had lost some weight and managed to keep my weight gain to only 35 pounds. I lost all that weight, but have gone up and down about 10 pounds since.
     I'm not motivated by vanity much or what other people think. My cholesterol is slightly elevated, though, and that's not healthy. I want to be a good example to my daughters by eating nutritious foods and being self-controlled. I also want to look closer to the way I looked when my husband married me. It doesn't seem fair to him that I've gained 40 pounds since our wedding (he's made it clear that it bothers him -  I don't blame him). And, I don't want to use food to try to comfort or entertain myself. That's a bad habit. And, I'm not comfortable with how my clothes fit, look, or how I feel.So, my dependence on God continues.Hopefully I'll report that by my 40th birthday I've lost some weight and will continue to lose all the rest that I need to. I'll have to pray especially during Christmas and birthday parties this month when I see all the Christmas cookies, fudge, cakes, chocolate, savory, cheesy appetizers and on and on and on. One strategy that seems helpful is to suck on a Hershey's kiss. They're only 25 calories each! That seems to help with my chocolate craving. Now if I can only stick to just one or two, well maybe three...Oh, Lord, help me!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Frosted Flake Chicken A La Tim

 Yum!Yum! Good eats! Frosted Flake Chicken A La Tim

Need a new recipe for the holidays? Want to try a little something new and, uh, unusual? Have I got a recipe for you! Here it is:
1 "adventurous" and hungry husband
2 packages of skinless, boneless and defrosting chicken thighs that were a really, really good deal and waiting to be tried in a new tasty Apricot Chicken recipe later that week
1 cup of crushed Frosted Flakes
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup flour
1 glass baking dish that is ungreased so that you have to spend an inordinate amount of time getting the chicken unstuck from it after you throw out the hard, crusty, vomit-looking inedible coating from it
 Step 1: Go to Ikea with Daisy at around 5:00 pm on a Saturday evening and leave no provisions for dinner; no leftovers and nothing already prepared.
Step 2: Don't call home with any practical, LOGICAL suggestions for dinner or suggest picking something up while en route home from said shopping trip.
Step 3: Make sure that Elena and Camille are at their friends' house so that they don't make Top Ramen or macaroni and cheese. You know, palatable dinner food.
That's it. Really simple. Bon appetit!

(As a side note ladies: please don't be jealous of what a creative cook my husband is, ok?)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Fun-Sort of

Thanksgiving was fun this year - kind of. We had a small crowd, Tim and our six girls, and my sister Ann and her boyfriend, David. Later, Holly and her girls, Madeline and Olivia, came by and visited for awhile. The food was tasty, nothing burned (too badly, that is), and everyone was in a pleasant mood.

And then...later at around 3:00 a.m. I hear Julia coughing and crying in her crib. I went to check on her and -ugh-she had barfed orange, pumpkin pie vomit all over herself and her crib. So, I proceed to clean her up and put new sheets on her bed. Thankfully, Tim helped me. So, I lay back in bed weary and tired from having cooked 90% of our Thanksgiving meal all by myself (a first for me and I was pleased with how everything turned out, mostly). I heard it again - coughing and crying and when I checked on Julia again she had thrown up more pumpkin vomit. Ewww...So, I decided to lay with her on my chest on the couch and try to catch her vomit with a chucks pad wrapped around her chest. (Those are the greatest things. I happened to have an extra large one from when Julia was a newborn. They're great at catching nasty, oozing diapers. Because they're soft cotton-like material on one side and plastic-lined on the other, they're great to use and then throw out. They reminded me of when I had Julia. They were used to catch all the "fluid" after my water was broken. They're used in hospitals a lot).
     Anyway, my sweet Julia was trying so hard to get comfortable so that she could fall asleep. I finally put her in her bed with make-shift clean bedding and went to bed myself. She seemed fine throughout the day so I thought nothing of her throwing up. However, later that night after I lay her down, she woke up again crying. I put her pacifier back in her mouth and all was well. When I got her up in the morning I was grossed out and felt terrible that she had actually thrown up and I didn't see it. It was a lot less than the night before so I thought that maybe I was giving her too rich of foods. But I began to feel a bit queasy and so did Leanne. I had plans to see Paul and Angela and their 7 kids - the girls' cousins-out in Lancaster that day. What to do? I left Leanne at home and proceeded with my plans. I am rarely sick and thought I was ok. After a couple of hours at Paul and Angela's house it was time to go.
     So here's the scenario: I'm driving home on the 5 Freeway southbound and I'm looking at my extra large 1/2 full Diet Coke cup from McDonald's thinking I should empty it out because I might need it. I was feeling quite queasy at this point. I throw it out and keep driving. About 10 minutes later as I'm driving 80mph ( I know - I was speeding again. I was so trying to get home quickly because I was feeling worse and worse) and trying to get on to the 210 East in heavy traffic because I forgot that I like going home on the 134 East instead, I grab my McDonald's extra large cup and - well - I don't need to be graphic because I'm sure you can figure out what happened. A couple more uses of the blessed extra large cup and I was feeling much better - but not totally. I arrive home and rush out of my car, stopping near my garden area  to relieve my revived nausea, and then I head indoors and lay down for hours feeling achy, nauseous, and continuing to throw up. Leanne apparently had been throwing up for hours and was now moaning at wanting something to drink because she was so thirsty. There are few things worse than telling your severely dehydrated child who is screaming out and moaning in pain that she can't have anything to drink because it will continue her vomiting. Oh...ugh...And poor Tim was having a hard time with all the sickness, his desire to study his physics, and my need for him to step into my shoes. Oh, and by the way, "please go out at 10:00 pm to get some Drano because the sink is clogged again and we REALLY need it." Sigh. Groan. And then about an hour later he starts throwing up - violently and with great moans and groans. It was then Camille's turn to get sick - all over her bed and her floor. Leanne - at 1:00 a.m. was complaining of leg pain. Leg pain?! " Do you feel like throwing up?" "No. But this one leg hurts so badly." "Umm...I don't really know what to tell you, honey. It looks ok. Sleep on your other side."
     Several hours later and some solid sleep, I woke up feeling capable of cleaning up all the messes, running to the grocery store for popsicles, 7-up, jello, and bagels (for me), and getting my house somewhat back in order.
     I was so thankful that I got home safely. I so hope that I didn't get any of the Dybdahl kids sick. I'll call Angela later and find out. With lots of hand sanitizer, fervent prayers, and partial quarantining, I'm hoping Elena, Chloe, and Daisy don't get sick (oh please God-spare me!) So, on to Christmas we go. I love the holiday season and so does Tim. I think this will be a great Christmas season if we could just get well and stay that way. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Sounds of...Nothing

A couple of mornings ago I awoke on my own at 5 am. I listened for a couple of seconds and then I heard...


Ahhh...the sounds of quiet. You might think that because I'm quite a talker and rather loud (it's a Hollcraft trait -we're all LOUD!), that I must like a lot of noise. No. I  love quiet and solitude. Perhaps it's because I get so little of it. But at 5 am it was so quiet - no traffic sounds in my neighborhood or yard equipment whirring and buzzing, no dishwasher or washing machine shaking and rattling, no sprinklers twinkling water around, and mostly, no people noises. Not even Tim softly snoring, breathing loudly, or mumbling about chemistry assignments (Tim really never leaves his work entirely at school!).

It was glorious. I thought about this period of silence I was enjoying. I began to think about people who had needs that I knew of and prayed for them. I told God that I was all His today and that He could use me in anyway He wanted. I knew that would invariably mean lots of dishes, laundry, multiple directions to many little children about various chores, many encouragements to "be kind," "stop fighting," "leave her alone!," correcting - verbally and otherwise-undesirable attitudes, unpleasant deeds, and general disobedience, lots of phone calls to check off items on my "to do" list, various trips to church for co-op lessons and teaching my Spanish class, picking up many little toys that find their way into crevices and nooks ALL AROUND my house, preparing a multitude of snacks and meals, reading plenty of stories, books, and instructions about school assignments, giving tickles, hugs, kisses and gentle pats and rubs to just about everybody (including Tim - he's not overly affectionate but I know he doesn't like being left out!), cleaning up more spills than I care to count, and shopping at various stores for fabulous deals and returning various items that weren't such fabulous deals, praying here and there for people and situations that come to mind, and perhaps catching in about 15-20 minutes of the book I'm currently reading about the Holy Spirit by Chuck Swindoll (SO inspiring!), and on and on and on. Nothing glamorous. Just my attempt at being faithful to God and my husband and children.

I have so much activity and NOISE in my day, everyday, all day long. I felt that God awoke me early, and refreshed I might add, just to draw me near to himself and enjoy my attention. God doesn't need my attention, but He's worthy of it. He deserves the very best part of my day - my waking moments that I savor before the day begins. I found that I started my morning quite joyful and the day went fairly well. At the end of my day as I lay in bed relaxing and letting the days' events float away, I thought about my Friend again. "You are so good God. Thank you." And with that, I drifted off to a solid nights' sleep again. I'm confident that more likely than not, God did use me as He saw fit. I felt His pleasure at a day lived well. I need to make adjustments, particularly to correcting my children gently and patiently, but overall I felt peace as I drifted off to sleep.

I have a great life.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I'm A Bad Driver

Well, at least I can admit it! I got a speeding ticket about two weeks ago. I was in a rush to get home in the morning to start school with the girls. When the officer pulled me over I said, "I know I was speeding. I need to be home in three minutes. Can you make this quick?" Four minutes later, I was on my way heading east on Sierra Madre Blvd. towards Michillinda to go home.Ugh. I still haven't gotten the official ticket to know how much it's going to cost. It'll be expensive. I haven't told Tim yet. Another ugh.
     My biggest problem is that I drive too fast. My neighbor told me several months ago to slow down because of all the kids that play in our street. He was right. I'm trying, but sometimes I forget. While driving home on Grandview St., a lady stopped at a stop sign motioned for me to slow down. She was right, too. All these admonishments are warnings for me to slow down. I feel rather embarrassed when I'm corrected because I know they're all right. And the speeding tickets are so expensive. I won't even blog about Tim's thoughts and words regarding my driving. Think: ULTIMATE BACK-SEAT DRIVER TO THE OUTERMOST EXTREME LIMITS OF TOLERABILITY.  I NEVER EVER EVER drive while Tim is in the car. I have actually stopped the car in the middle of the street so that Tim can take over driving. 
     Anyway, it's just sooooo hard to drive slowly. Not only do I have lots and lots of things to do everyday, I usually have several kids at home that I'm rushing home to make sure that they haven't set the house on fire, clogged the toilet to overflowing with toilet paper, let Julia wander out into the street like she has a persistent propensity to do, or pull each others hair out over the last Tootsie Roll they happened upon under the refrigerator from last Halloween's candy supply. Uh-huh. You get the picture.
     Another problem about speeding plagues me: I'm just a fast-moving, energetic, hyper-speed kind of person. I really can't help it. When I'm fairly well-rested, there's no stopping me! I talk fast (and a lot, I know), write fast, do the dishes fast, cook and clean quickly, read fast, even change diapers fast. (That's a good thing, too, because, boy, does Julia squawk when she's being changed!) Also, I write so fast that I have a hard time handwriting anything because my hand can't neatly and legibly keep up with my thoughts. This quality of mine generally serves me well, though, except while driving.
     In truth, however, I used to drive my parents nuts. Whenever they saw me eat sugar in particular, they would look at each other and roll their eyes. They knew I would be particularly spastic for several hours after the dreaded consumption of sugar. So, when I observe my busiest girl, Chloe, in all her hyperactive glory, I  know that she will be able to accomplish great things in the future with all of her energy. Sometimes she almost drives me into the ground, though! I realize where her energy comes from. (Throat-clearing here)

     One disadvantage to this high energy personality that I have is that I can easily overwhelm people. Think: calm, even-keeled, mild-mannered, and just really low-energy people find me either 1)overwhelming and anxiety-producing, 2)entertaining, so they laugh at me! or 3)I don't quite know-but they avoid me in grocery stores, parks, libraries...Well, not really. I just thought that they might and I just haven't really noticed it. (Six kids keeps me very distracted while out in public much of the time.) When I meet people who are overwhelmed by my personality I feel very self-conscious. I find myself trying to talk s-l-o-w-e-r and be less emotive. This is almost excruciating, but I try for their sake and mine. I can really feel like an idiot around these calm people. So, I LOVE people who are like me. I love high energy, fun-loving, hearty- laughing, fast-talking people! LOVE THEM! They understand me! They appreciate me! I don't have to be "self-monitoring" around them and they don't have to be that way around me!  Yoo hoo! Of course, I have many mild-mannered friends that I absolutely adore, too. You know who you are. 
      The other problem I have with driving and speed is that I, well, I - ok- this is really hard to admit. I tailgate! I know it's terrible! I'm just driving too fast, needing to get somewhere ON TIME (because that's usually important to me), and other people just drive too slow! Really people, just a little faster?! Oh, but there are my bad, impatient habits coming out. I've also been know to utter a few  -unsavory- (I like that term better) names at drivers. The worst part is that my children hear me and that's really not good. Really, really not good.So, it's imperative that I work on my driving habits. Consider this post an open invitation to ask me if I've been keeping my driving speed down. Just don't ask me when I'm rushing out the door on my way to somewhere important. Old habits die hard. Ugh.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Librarians Who Can't Sing

With this title you may be wondering, Huh? Librarians don't sing! They check my books out, help me find books, tell me how much my overdue fines are, tell my kids to stop running around the library while screaming and jumping on furniture- Oh, wait, those are my kids, not yours. So, anyway, just to clarify, as part of their official job description, librarians DO NOT sing to the library patrons. Unless...they're doing kiddie story time! Ah hah! you think.  This makes sense now! Laura has a bazillion kids and she probably takes them to library story time because it's free childcare for a blessed 25 minutes or so while she aimlessly wanders the library aisles looking for exciting, informative, engaging reading material.

Well...yes and no. I do take them to Pajama Story time at the sweet, little adorable Hastings Branch Library. (Although, I have been accosted by a nose-hating, strange woman there before. See my post last year "I Bet You Cry About Your Nose" I typically get Daisy and Chloe settled on their cute little bright blue or orange cushions and the librarian (who happens to have five kids - and he's young looking! Cute kids, too, and a nice wife. I really am very chatty, aren't I?) starts singing the ultimate, song-to-end-all-kids-songs "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands! Clap! Clap! If you're happy and you know it..." (Is the tune starting in your head now? I bet you'll start humming it in about 3 seconds!)

The only problem that I have with this fabulous little song is that...the librarian really can't sing well - at all. He does try, but he cuts the notes short and is rather flat-sounding. Now, I'm no singing expert, but Tim is. Tim grew up in a singing family. In fact, their Sunday morning worship had no instruments, only singing - acapella, they call it. There's no lyin' when it's acapella! How your voice sounds is rather apparent to everyone around you. So, Tim will pick apart a singer and tell me why they're good or not and use all this official sounding musical lingo. I'm always impressed by his expert analysis, but hear myself saying, "Well, they sound OK to me..." So, for me to notice that someone's singing doesn't knock my socks off is something. But, the librarian singer is sweet and earnest and the kids don't care. They just sing along blissfully unaware of the marginal musical talent they're being exposed to. So, should I care? No, I really don't. Besides, I'm sure his own kids adore his singing and his smart  wife just tells him how wonderful he is, so who am I to tear the beautiful, idyllic picture apart with my unprofessional criticism? (OK, so I'm a bit melodramatic and overly imaginative, but it's my blog and I can write whatever I want to).

However, there was one story time at my second favorite library in the admirable Pasadena Public Library System that actually had me thoroughly IRRITATED! The L----  V---- Branch (this is to protect the innocent and the not-so-innocent) is a little library in this gorgeous neighborhood in the north R--- B--- area. They have the best toys in their children's department. I can look for books in the kids section while my girls (and an occasional tag along friend or two) play and everybody has a delightful time. So, a year ago I took Daisy and then baby Julia to story time there one morning. The librarian was very charming, but couldn't sing to save her life. She totally slaughtered the song. I was almost traumatized by it. And the little kiddos singing along with her weren't loud enough to drown her cacophony out. At all. It's possible I was quite postpartum, hormonal or whatever, but I found myself really bugged by how badly she mangled the children's songs. I decided to NEVER frequent THAT story time again. Would a whole generation of R--- B--- area residents and their children and nannies (oops! I let that one slip!) be forever turned off by story time and the required songs of childhood because this one well-intentioned librarian couldn't carry a tune? Would they be ruined in some way by the wretched sounds choking their way out of her mouth? Maybe she should've sung "If you can't sing and you shouldn't try shut your mouth (clap! clap!). If you can't sing and you shouldn't try shut your mouth (clap! clap!)..."  OK, so I'm sort of mean.

 (Check this out, library lady!)

Come to think of it, almost all the librarians that I've taken my kids to library story time to see have been marginal singers. But none was worse than the L---- V---- lady. Poor thing, maybe she doesn't know how bad she is. Then again, the library is a publically funded place, not some professional Broadway theater. And I really do love my local libraries and all the phenomenal and patient librarians who have helped me and my kids and taken hundreds of dollars of mine in overdue library fines over the years (yes, it's probably at least $200 by this time. Please don't tell Tim).Anyway,  I'm just in a punchy mood these days. I'm probably overdue for a relaxing, refreshing day off . But not at the library during story time.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dear Mom

     Since you left 19 years ago, you know I haven't talked to you or written to you directly much. It's kind of creepy to me in some ways. I really believe that you're in Heaven with Jesus and my little babies (perhaps my boys!) that never made it into the world. I just feel more comfortable talking to God as opposed to you. I was thinking, though, that the anniversary of your death is in a couple of weeks and I wanted to write you this letter. So much has changed with me since you were last here. I'm sure you know that, though.

  I was 20 when you died, a young woman. I'm now almost 40 - a middle-aged woman with a husband and six daughters. Can you imagine that? I remember you once saying to me, "I hope you have 10 girls just like you!" Well, I got 60% of the way there! But they're not all like me. Elena, my oldest, resembles me in some ways. She's very serious and studious, kind of like I was. She's also very hardworking (when she wants to be) and is generally reliable and helpful. She has a dry and very funny sense of humor, but tends to keep her emotions to herself (definitely NOT like me, but like her Dad). I'm very proud of her and I really like her. She's a great girl and beautiful, too. I'm really going to have to fight the boys off. I'm sure they're already afraid of me! Good!

  Camille is next in line. She has my coloring, but her Dad's features. She's intensely sensitive and artistic. She has a very tender heart towards the outcasts, the hurting, the weirdos, and other alternative types. She is definitely like me in that regard. Remember Arthur in my 6th grade class? The chubby boy from Poland who needed a friend? I reached out to him and helped him get comfortable at school. Camille would be my girl who do that. She gravitates toward the Arthur's of the world. She's also very dramatic and theatrical like I was. Remember when I was the lead in the Christmas play? I was Lady Huntington in The Twelve Days of Christmas play and I was ALL DRAMA. Camille has a very intelligent, keen sense of humor, too. She is so funny. The drama gets a bit old at times with her, but then we just tease it out of her. She's a sweetheart.
  Lulu, Leanne, comes next. She had the softest, sweetest skin when she was a baby. And the cheeks on that kid!  They hung down over her face! She was absolutely adorable. She's my friend magnet.She's got this gushy, easygoing personality and she just melds with other kids and gets along with everybody (although not always her sisters, but that's another story.) She looks and acts just like her Dad. She appears to be very absent-minded and placid. Remember Steve Bruno down the street, who would "wear" his cat, Tippy, while reading a book as his mother hounded  him to get ready for school in the morning? That's kind of like Leanne. She is very smart and loves science and reading. She's a sharp cookie and an earnest learner. That is definitely like me. She's a delightful girl.

And then came Chloe. I chose her name because "Chloe" was one of your favorite perfumes when I was growing up. I still remember seeing it on your gray and white marble vanity in your bathroom. The smell would linger in the air after you sprayed it on before leaving for work at night as a labor and delivery nurse.OK - so, I'll just repeat what Dad smilingly has said for years about Chloe, "Payback is great!" She is me at my most intense, driven, determined, temperamental, hysterical at times and downright difficult. And yet she has this zest for excitement and people and life that is infectious and contagious. She's very clever, charming, and downright naughty at times. She's also busy, industrious, and very task-oriented.Yep - she's very much my daughter. She even has my blues eyes and coloring. I love her dearly.

Daisy is #5 - my Spring flower. I love her name. She was named after your favorite flower. I still remember as a young teenager walking up to Fair Oaks and going to the florist that was there and buying you a bouquet of daisies. You were very touched when I brought them home. So, Daisy is my pixie-faced cutie. She is very articulate and sassy. She's also a real people lover and very friendly once she warms up to people. She loves clothes and has the craziest outfits on at times. She's my girliest girl and very fun. I adore her.

  Julia is my last girl. She's the baby of the family and she's precious. She thinks I'm just the greatest! She's so happy to see me when I've been gone awhile and I can always calm her down like no one else can. That's what a mother does, huh? I remember the morning I was leaving for school as a teenager and I was upset and crying for some reason. You pulled into the driveway because you had finished the night shift in labor and delivery at Huntington. You saw me crying and were so compassionate towards me. I think I came back inside and you made me lunch for the day or fixed my hair or something like that. I know you were really tired because you had just worked for about 10 hours, but you still took time to care for me. Thank you.
     Right before each of my babies was born, I always missed you the most. Those few weeks before my due dates were the most painful reminders of your absence in my life. I knew how much you loved helping women have babies (even the screamers and the druggies) and you took great pride in caring for them and reassuring them. I know you were a popular nurse at work, not only with the patients, but with your co-workers as well.  Oddly enough, I didn't miss you so much right before Julia was born. I was so happy to be pregnant with her, my last one I knew. I so enjoyed those last few weeks. But of all my deliveries, I most needed you with her. After she was born I grieved terribly the lost moments that I so desired with you while laboring and delivering my babies. I imagined you lifting my back and helping me get up to walk, giving me guidance on different labor positions, having you check the FHR and reassuring me, and just loving every minute of helping me. I remember you sitting down with my friend Dawn who was pregnant with her first baby several months before you died. You had a pregnancy book and you showed her pictures, educated her about what she could expect, and addressed her concerns. I know she cherished your care. I was so jealous of her when I thought back to that time. No one did that for me. But, I did have Dr. Aldahl for several of my pregnancies and she looked like you and had your bubbly personality. She was so perfect for me. But she left her practice prematurely. I didn't fare so well with my male OB's. Oh well. I'm all done with that season of my life and I'm relieved. Now I get to help my daughters when their time comes. Hopefully not too soon!

  And then there's Tim. He's an old lady magnet. That is, the old ladies just love him! He's got this sweet smile and boyish charm and they eat him up! He is very handsome and he loves our girls. He's very well-educated, hardworking, and intellectual. I love that about him. He's a bit of a dreamer and lives in his own world at times. I let him. Teaching 200 students a day who aren't that motivated and who come from impoverished backgrounds really takes its toll. I try to make life for him easy, relatively peaceful, and fun. I'm not always successful, but I try. I love him and am devoted to him.
Dad has done well. Karen is so good to him. She has patience, charm, and smarts about how to soothe the savage beast in him. I so admire her. She's had so many trials in her life and yet she's always thinking of others and serving them. She's so devoted to her kids and grandkids. My children adore her. We are so fortunate to have her. She's encouraged me so many times and in so many ways with all my kids and being a mother. I know God especially placed her in my life during this time period. I also love that she knew me from when I was born. She has memories about me and you that Dad doesn't even have. That shared history is unique. It helps to fill in the missing pieces.

   Ann, Sarah, and Michael are all on their own journey. I'm close with Sarah and Ann. Michael, well, I'm sure you know about him. I'm believing that God will find him and help him. Well, anyway, I'm just about done with my letter. I think you'd be proud of me. I've made lots of mistakes and made decisions I wished I hadn't, but, I'm content with my life. God has been so good to me. I can't wait to see you again.  Laura

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hiccups Cure

This morning at 7:45 am Chloe and I were in my bedroom folding the clothes on my bed. We had an exchange that went something like this:
Chloe: "Mom, I have the hiccups."
Me:  "You do? I have a remedy for that."
Chloe:  "Really?"
Me "Yes. I've been trained and certified in getting rid of hiccups in children. You want me to try my remedy on you? (Earnest nod from Chloe.)All right, well payment will be due when services are rendered. You know, the payment is a big hug and a smoochie kiss.Can you pay that? (Another vigorous nod from Chloe). Come here then."
Chloe walks over to where I'm standing. I bend down and put my arm behind her knees and another arm around her waist and turn her upside down. I begin to shake her up and down while gently pressing on her tummy with one hand and pressing my fingers into her ribs with my other hand. She starts laughing and squirming.
Me:"You can't laugh! No laughing! The cure won't work! Stop laughing!" The giggles and hearty laughter continue from my little squirmy six year old and then I put her down. "Did it work?"
Chloe: "Yeah" (big toothy smile and giggles).
Me: "Good! You know, I was at the top of my class. You need to pay me now." Chloe turns to me and I give her a big hug and a kiss and I'm laughing at our silly exchange and the hiccups cure that worked. I looked at the clock then and realized that she would have been at school at the moment she was getting the hiccups treatment from her highly qualified AND certified Mom. Would there have been anyone at school with my qualifications? I don't think so. Those qualifications come from the heart.
Ahh...the joys of motherhood and homeschooling.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Random Things and Fall is Here!

It's Sunday morning and I'm at my computer looking over old blog posts. I'm dressed for church and really want to go, but Julia has been sick and is napping right now. I wanted to take her to church and at least enjoy worship - even if it means chasing her around the back of the church. I can't bear the thought of waking her up, though. I was up with her for about an hour and a half last night. She seems to have left ear pain and I fear it's an ear infection. I'm going to have to get her into the ENT this week if she doesn't seem better. She's been up A LOT this week. Many nights I've gone to her 4 or 5 times to try and settle her. I think what's making things worse is that she doesn't always get her antihistamine at night like she should. If I go out at night Tim might forget it or I forget to give it to her. Sometimes I have a hard time remembering everything I should. Oh well.

This week I'm starting the "Felicity" book series for Leanne's history curriculum. My girls love the American Girl books and dolls. They can really break the bank, but they are very high quality products. I love using historical fiction as a tool to teach history. So, this week we'll delve into early American Colonial history with Felicity. Leanne and I are both looking forward to it.

Yesterday I got a tearful call from someone close to me. Her birth control method had failed and she was pregnant. Oops! She's been cramping and bleeding for weeks and was worried about all that that could mean. I quickly arranged childcare and went to the hospital to be with her. It appears to be an ectopic pregnancy. She seems to be doing well when I spoke with her this morning. She commented that she was amazed at how well she slept in the hospital. I told that as I was up with Julia she came to mind and I was praying that very thing for her: Help her to sleep well, Lord. I know how everything hurts so much more when you're exhausted.(One of the most challenging things about Julia's birth was that when I delivered her I had been awake, and very active, for over 30 hours. I was totally exhausted and depleted. Sleep is soooo important!) When I hung up with her this morning she was still waiting for her ob/gyn's partner to come into the hospital and talk with her about what was going to happen next. I heard her asking other people at the hospital, "Have you heard anything about Dr. So and So? My regular doctor is on vacation, so I have to see Dr. So and So. What have you heard?" I could so relate to her concerns and wanting to be reassured that she was in good hands. I've been there. She was told that Dr. So and So is very good. I'm hoping and praying this is her experience. I'm sure everything will go fine with her. Pregnancy loss, even an unexpected one, is always laden with emotions. I will continue to pray for her.

The weather is turning fall-ish. I LOVE fall weather almost as much as spring weather. I love cool, slightly overcast, windy fall days. LOVE THEM! However, fall tends to be a harder time for me emotionally. My emotions seem much more sensitive and I struggle with feeling "normal" and upbeat much more in September, October, and November. I have a couple of theories about this. Throughout my life fall contained some events associated with difficult losses. My Mom was very ill and died in mid-November. Also, we came back from Mammoth every summer and had to leave carefree, idyllic summer days behind and start school. There's also less light in the fall and I'm light-sensitive. I seem affected by dark days with a corresponding "darker" mood. Anyway, at least I'm aware of these things now. This fall seems a little better, though.

I'm going to enjoy a quiet house now, take my church outfit off, and maybe take a nap.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Faxing Away A Year's Worth of Tears

So, I did it. I wrestled with the decision for about two weeks. I cried over it, mulled it over in my mind, pondered several applicable Scriptures, and, of course, talked to and prayed with several trusted friends about the issue. I even mentioned it to my pastor and he prayed for me. We discussed it at Care Group. Was I trusting God by taking this possible course of action? Was I trusting God to issue His justice, as opposed to me circumventing His plan? Was this act stemming from bitterness I was holding onto? And on and on and on I wrestled.Then, I thought of different ways to accomplish a similar purpose, all to no avail. Several friends, by the grace of God, were very direct and helpful to me. Thank you. You know who you are. Finally, I had to sit down, pen and paper in hand, and just do it. Hours and hours later at my computer, probably a whole ink cartridge and a hundred sheets of paper later, it was done.

An eleven page document, a "masterpiece" if you will. I poured everything I had in it to make it thorough and effective in communicating the events of July 13, 2008 and the days that followed. I filed a grievance with my insurance against my former doctor and the hospital that I had Julia at. Please note: it is not my intention, in any way, shape, or form, to reveal the specifics of who and where Julia's birth took place on my blog. I am not confined to HIPAA regulations, but I am confined to a conscience that believes in going through the right channels to "air beefs" so to speak. And so I did.

My insurance will look at my allegations and inform both entities, my former doctor and the hospital, of the grievance. They will have their chance, without having to pay attorneys' fees, to respond to my claims. Apparently, according to the patient advocate that never called me back after 10 weeks (I finally called him), the grievance is taken very seriously by the hospital. After all, the review committee with the insurance is a branch of the American Medical Association and they have the power to go as far as suspending licenses to practice medicine. (I know, though, that the AMA is well-known for protecting their doctors).They can also impose fines. My insurance pays a huge chunk of my former doctor and the hospital's paycheck. It's a big deal. It should be. Julia could have been seriously injured or, even worse, she could have died. (I won't even get into the mental and emotional fallout I suffered from being profoundly traumatized by the whole experience. Those of you close to me know how I've struggled. Thank you for your faithful love and patience with me over this past year. I really needed all of you.) Those parties responsible in any way should have to answer for the decisions and words they made and spoke, or neglected to regarding me and Julia.

But it was heart wrenching for me. The main reason was that I know how sensitive and fearful my former doctor is. Through various conversations I had with him during my pregnancy it became apparent to me that it was hard on him when his patients perceived him to be uncaring,incompetent, or unavailable, even when the patients made foolish choices and he was not to blame. Pleasing his patients, and being thought well of by colleagues and patients, was very important to him. But he has a temper. And he could be selfish at times.

It will be up to my insurance to look over everything I prepared and make their own determination as to whether their "standard of care" was met for me and Julia. I'm not asking for money or an apology. I really get nothing out of it, except the satisfaction of knowing that the details surrounding my delivery and subsequent conversations with my doctor will be exposed and scrutinized. A judgment will be rendered. I will never know what it is. I'm ok with that. I'd rather not know.

As I faxed all eleven pages to my insurance yesterday morning, I saw on my printer screen "Page 1 sent...", "Page 2 sent...", "Page 3 sent...". I felt relief creeping into my soul, page by page - "sent." The burden of feeling powerless and victimized over this last year with no apparent recourse was unbearable. A friend who was praying for me about the situation prayed something like, "Lord, your Word says that your yoke is easy and your burden is light. Please help Laura to give this burden to you and take upon herself your easy yoke and light burden." I was so comforted by that prayer. Prayerfully, painfully, and thoughtfully I felt that faxing that eleven page document was giving Jesus my burden. The battle is not over, though. I have to remind myself that I've faxed into God's hands and my insurance's hands my grievance and that it's over for me in a bigger sense. Any remaining issues in my heart God will deal with.

And he will- with his unrelenting love and faithfulness. Thank you, Lord.

I do feel hopeful in a way that I haven't felt in a long time. I believe with all my heart that God will use this for good for my former doctor, the hospital, and all the women who follow in my footsteps to that little corner of the world where my doctor practices medicine. God bless you, Dr. ------. I really mean that from the bottom of my heart.

Monday, September 7, 2009


So, I had a couple of minutes after finishing school this morning and I got to thinking about my trip to the Bonaventure the other day. Sarah and I and 8 kids (I know - I'll never take them all there again!) went to the revolving lounge at the Bonaventure at around 5:30 on Friday afternoon. As we were leaving I was waiting for the hostess to bring me my stroller. All 10 of us are waiting by the hostess podium-thing and we see two young, fresh-faced couples dressed to the nines walking down the stairs toward us. They check in with the hostess and I noticed one of the young men in particular. How could I not? He was tall, young, blondish and handsome. What I really noticed, though, was his bright white dazzling sports coat with matching pants and white dress shirt. The material was beautiful. It was shiny satin white stripes on white cotton material. (I loved textured clothing! Especially white dress shirts that have textures - very classy!). I looked over at his date who was young and gorgeous. They mentioned they were in a party of like 15 people or something. It appeared that they were having drinks before dinner or some fancy event. They all had anticipatory "we're going to have a lot of fun tonight" looks on their faces, but they did seem a little nervous. It was an interesting sight.
And then I looked down. I noticed it and looked again. Was that a - a - no, it couldn't be. Was it supposed to be like that? I noticed a rip in the tall, white in shining armor - oops, I mean suited- guy's pants. Agh! The pants were very loose, and there was a darkish color coming through the 3-inch rip at the seam of his backside. I stared for a moment and then thought Do I pull him aside and discreetly inform him of his unanticipated air conditioned pants? Do I ignore it, hoping every one else will, too? Will one his buddies or -God forbid-his date point it out? It was a brief dilemma which I pointed out to my sister in a very discreet manner. We looked at one another and tried not to laugh. I was embarrassed for the guy!
But, my stroller came and we left the young, beautiful people, one with a wardrobe malfunction, to themselves. I wondered what happened. What would you have done?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sensational Sleep

(Isn't this baby so precious? I love newborns!)I just finished my second week of homeschooling and I haven't given up yet (despite a 4th bout of head lice in 9 months. Ugh...)Is there a medal out there for me? I am just kidding. It's actually gone very well. The girls and I are on a productive cleaning schedule and our morning school schedule yields finished assignments and plenty of instruction and learning, although I'm always needing to tweak it here and there. So far, I'm very pleased with how things are going. My mornings are VERY busy and I'm usually disciplined at not answering the phone, which typically throws me off.(I love to talk! But then, you knew that...) The mid-afternoons tend to vary a bit, but everyone has a quiet time and I'll either run errands or lay down myself for a nap.
Ahhh...naps...sleep. What's that?!?! Seriously, though, when I lay down at the end of the night for sleep I feel extremely gratified at the industrious day I've put in at my home and with my children. It's such a pleasing thought to fall asleep knowing I made wise use of my time and resources and spent quality and quantity time with my kids (most of the time). I'm always confused when I hear of all the Americans who have trouble sleeping at night - and not due to pregnancy or babies that don't sleep well. It baffles me to think people need pills to fall asleep at night! I'm definitely not passing judgment, but I couldn't imagine that!I do remember, however, during some seasons (like when I only had two kids) when I would sleep too late or didn't do a lot throughout the day that I had a more difficult time sleeping. And then there's my last post that I typed up at 2 am. Sometimes I do have a lot on my mind, but most of the time I sleep quite well when outside forces don't impede my quest for quality sleep.
It's not that I love to sleep for long periods of time, nor do I need a lot sleep, but the sleep I get needs to be good quality sleep. Since I got pregnant with Julia a good night's sleep has detrimentally eluded me. She's sleeping better now, but she still has her crazy middle-of-the-night wake ups. Overall, though, we're both sleeping better.
I love everything about sleeping. I love my bed, my sheets have to be silky and soft (and a lovely color!), my down pillow can't be too thick or bouncy, and my pajamas have to be ultra comfortable and pretty. I've discovered the newer spandex-y material that they are making high end pajamas with these days. I can't buy cheap cotton or combed cotton pajamas anymore. And no pajama gowns-they're too twisty. Marshall's tends to have the best quality and best prices for the pajamas that I simply must have. When I do sleep, after all, it should be as enjoyable as I can get.
When I awake from sleep I rarely remember my dreams. I've heard that's best-my sleep was deep enough to forget what I dreamed about. There have been a couple of dreams in my life, however, that I've never forgotten. These have been very vivid visually. Most recently, since Julia's birth, I've had some real humdingers. I've had about 5 very vivid dreams not only in terms of visual impact, but emotional as well. One in particular was very powerful. And I don't know what it means. These dreams I've had in the last year have been loaded with MEGA imagery and meanings that I can only guess as to what they mean. Others that I have shared them with have had their opinions, but by and large I'm rather baffled by them. But they were very real and very powerful. For a time I believe I misinterpreted them and that was very troubling (sleep deprivation really does a number on my thinking!). These dreams had very exciting and encouraging parts as well as very troubling and mysterious parts. I believe really, though, that they're best left alone. I don't dwell on them or think much about them anymore. They are in my past - along with a whole lot of other stuff I'd rather forget about.
I was not planning on blogging about sleep or dreams, but I couldn't help it once I got started. I simply love thinking about, talking about, planning for and doing SLEEP!
I was actually going to blog about my trip to the Bonavista lounge at the Bonaventure Hotel in Downtown LA yesterday. I saw this amusing sight that got me thinking....but I have many things to do right now like check on Julia. Where is that adorable busy baby? It's so quiet...gotta go!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's 2 am and Here I Am...

So, I should be asleep right now. No, Julia did not wake me up. I just woke up after being asleep for a couple of hours and couldn't get back to sleep. My mind and emotions started to turn over and wander. So, here I am. I started homeschooling all the girls this week and am working out the kinks in my schedule. I think it's going really well and I'm enjoying being with all of them. One challenge I'm having is my little gypsy - Daisy - is at it again. Apparently, when she was supposed to be in bed she snuck into her older sisters' room and stole Camille's journal and 3 purses the girls had. The girls were beside themselves when they had discovered it later that night. I had been out visiting with Tim's family earlier this evening, so I didn't catch the crime in process. I told the girls that they needed to TRY to understand that Daisy is 3 and that this is what 3 year olds do. It really is a difficult age and so destructive. Stereos, car DVD's, seatbelts, cameras and various appliances have always been broken and destroyed by 3 year olds in our home. Thank God for warranties - we've always needed to use them! Anyway, what I need to do is replace the girls door handle with one that locks - but not with a key. Tim has been working such long hours lately that he has no time. Let's see, in all my spare time maybe I can figure that out. Along with fixing the garbage disposal....Maybe that's what I should be doing at 2 am! All of the sudden I feel really tired now....

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dramatic Change of Heart - continued

So, where was I before my crazy vacation? Oh yes, my current change of heart. On the last day of school for Chloe, who finished kindergarten, and Leanne, who finished2nd grade, I looked back at the school as the girls got into the car and I said "goodbye." I had felt that I was done with that school, at least for the next year. I had an inexplicable desire to homeschool the girls. Chloe was looking at being retained for kindergarten, which neither Tim nor I was thrilled about. Leanne had had just a so-so year. I realized how difficult it had been to have two in public school while having two being homeschooled and in a co-op at church. I was in two different worlds and I couldn't give myself to either world. I didn't really commit myself to anything and it was depressing to me. When I was pregnant with Julia school was good for Leanne and Chloe because both were helped in ways that I couldn't provide. And when Julia was a newborn I was so distraught and traumatized over all that had happened with her birth and challenges with Tim that I didn't have anything extra to give emotionally. I barely hung on last year with my older girls.
However, I had planned to have my middle girls in school for years to come and eventually homeschool them later. But to have them all home was quite a different decision. Let's that would be homeschooling a high schooler, a middle schooler, two elementary grade schoolers, with a 3 and a 1 year old at home. All day. Every day. And on and on and on. Ummm...WHY?! That's exactly what Tim thought and he was not so enthusiastic. We talked many times about it and I had grown so excited about the idea of them being all home again that I was having a hard time with his resistance. We set up an appointment with our pastor to discuss the issue. I got stuck in bad traffic and couldn't make it. Then Chloe's teacher noted dramatic progress during summer school and they wanted to promote her to 1st grade. Although Tim was more in favor of homeschooling Chloe (and hence, Leanne, too) than retaining her, when she was going to be promoted he wanted her and Leanne in school. My plans were derailed. I knew Tim really didn't want them homeschooled because he didn't see why I would do that when the best elementary school in all of PUSD is our neighborhood school.

So, back to the pastor we went. This time, I wasn't stuck in traffic. And even more amazingly, I had decided to go with whatever decision Tim made - cheerfully and with no negative emotion. This was even more dramatic about me than wanting to homeschool them. That I would not argue my case (I had considered law school before becoming a teacher. Tim knows I would have been a great lawyer, unfortunately)and plead with Tim and get all emotional over a vision and a desire that had awoken inside me was perhaps the most dramatic change in me throughout this whole process. However, I was really depressed about the thought of putting them in school. But, I determined to have a good attitude about it.
The counseling appointment with our wise, even-keeled, gracious pastor went very well. Midway through the appointment, Tim strongly leaned toward putting Leanne and Chloe in school. "Okay," I said. "Your feelings matter and if you're not comfortable with homeschooling them, then we'll put them in school." I really had a good attitude, even as I tried so hard not to let my tears show. "Be strong, Laura - don't cry!" I told myself. I was trying so hard in those moments to trust that God would help me with putting them in school.

And then the question came. Matter-of-fact, curious: "And you think this is the best decision for Laura and the girls?" my pastor asked. Tim looked like he hadn't thought of that before. He was now posed with a very important question. And before too long he said: "We'll homeschool them."

The king's heart is in the hand of the Lord. He turns it like a watercourse wherever he wills..." Proverbs (not sure exactly which one)

So, we'll see how this goes. I really am looking forward to it.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

What I Did On My Summer Vacation

Remember when you returned to school in September with your starchy, new clothes and stiff, shiny shoes on the First Day of School? For me, Marengo Elementary was my grade school in South Pasadena and I still remember the paper-y smell of the classrooms and the humid, hot feeling in the air. My first assignment was always to write a sentence, paragraph, or essay (depending on what grade I was in) about what I did during my summer break. My essay was always filled with much of the same: my adventures in Mammoth Lakes. All summer long we lived in our condo in Mammoth and waterskiied, fished, went horse back riding, inner-tubed down the Owens River (SO FUN!),visited Bodie the ghost town, and hung out at the Rec room, jacuzzi, and pool area with various friends we'd see every summer. It was really an idyllic summer existence. From the time I was 1 year old to the end of my 12th summer we were up there from late June till early September. It has ruined me forever for a normal, hot, humid, crowded summer in Los Angeles. But, I'm adjusting and learning how to love LA in the summer with mu kids who have no idea what they are missing just 6 hours and 300 miles away in Inyo County.

Anyway, I still remember the endless supply of quarters my parents always had for the pinball machine, pool table and then PAC MAN - the King of all video games! These kids can have their Wii games, Mario Bros, X-BOX, and Nintendo DS whatever-you-call-thems, but PAC MAN and his long-lasting love, MS. PAC MAN, will always reign as the "Best Video Games Ever."

OK, so enough about my enthusiasm about video games. Tim usually has his best paying extra jobs during the summer so he works ALL SUMMER LONG. So, we don't really vacation in the summer (or at all). We do take trips at Christmas, usually, to Tim's mom Joan's house in northern California. During the 4th of July for a couple of summers several years ago we'd go to my Dad and Stepmom's beach house in Ventura and that was FABULOUS. But, alas, the beautiful beach house with the view of the Channel Islands (on a clear day) and the charming sand dunes and inviting jetty is gone. Retirement was calling to my Dad and so their finances adjusted accordingly. I understand. I really enjoyed it - a lot - while it lasted. I really love the beach.

Anyway, in January my stepmom mentioned that she had booked a week at a great resort in Palm Springs the first week of August. "Could we make it?" "Absolutely!" I said without pausing. A whole week? Wow...unheard of... So, with Tim's new schedule he was only able to make it for one day and night at the beginning and end of the week. One of my stepsisters and one of my sisters joined us and we really had fun, except for....well...let me just say the details are better left undisclosed to protect the innocent. But, near-drowning, police help, an urgent 911 call, heli-transport to the nearest hospital, and a hospital waiting room that was so beautiful I thought I was in an art musuem (those old, rich folks in Palm Springs spare no expense in living the good life - thanks, Bob Hope!), fast moving, intense prayers and a few tears spanned my week on vacation. When I told a friend's husband some of the details, coupled with a remembrance of our last family vacation over New Year's with Camille's leg infection, he remarked: "You should just stay home from now on." No kidding!
But, in all reality, the resort was beautiful, the kids swam till way past bedtime, we played games, laughed heartily, and went on a wild goose chase with my new GPS application on my phone that ended in my stepsister and I getting to a better movie theater with much cheaper prices and 7 kids with us than we had originally intended (and a trip to the Verizon store to see why it wasn't working. When I programmed the hospital on my GPS it sent me to the casino. I wish! That is, if I gambled, which I don't). I also saw God's miraculous, providential timing of events, places and people to save lives in a variety of ways. I was quite affected emotionally at seeing God's caring hand. Thank you God, for always being an ever-present help in times of need.

And, goodness gracious, thank God for air conditioning! There were some days it was up to 114 degrees! Memories of the cool, breezy Mammoth summers where I would hear the wooshing sound of wind through the masses of pine trees on the hillside near my parents condo still emerge in my mind's eye....ahh, childhood!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dramatic Change of Heart - part deux

So, where was I before my hard drive crashed and I lost perhaps hundreds of photos that I hadn't gotten around to backing up yet? Oh, yes, a dramatic change of heart.
It was July 14th and I was at my friend Joy's house. I was discussing the two year ordeal I had been going through with Tim about having another baby - my 5th potentially. In short, I didn't want another baby. The adjustment to our 4th baby was rough on our marriage and my 4th baby was DIFFICULT in every possible way. I couldn't imagine a 5th baby. Fear was abounding in my heart. Joy broke through all of that and said,"The Bible does say to submit in this issue."
Pause. "Really? You're right." And then Diane jumps in to wholly support Joy's declaration of truth. Tim wasn't asking me to do anything wrong, per se. I could trust God with this decision. It was a baby, after all. Not a move half across the world or some disease he was going to give me. So, 9 months and 2 days later Daisy was born. I got pregnant MUCH more quickly than I had planned. And Daisy, with her sweet pixie face, is my most affectionate child. She frequently tells me how much she loves me and is delightful and cheerful. She is three, however, so she's needing A LOT of loving discipline these days. What a delightful, spunky girl she is. My "precious Spring flower" I call her. Her name is perhaps my favorite of all my girls' names. I love flowers!
Most surprisingly, my heart had so changed about having children that even though I had started my pregnancy with Daisy thinking it would be my last, it didn't end that way. I didn't see my OB/GYN for my postpartum visit after Daisy was born, so no permanent plans were discussed. After Daisy turned 1 I had the crazy notion of another baby. Julia was very much planned. I was looking forward to this last pregnancy and enjoyed every minute of it. During Julia's pregnancy, though, many difficulties and trials ensued at home. I was sick for most it with a flu, bronchial and asthma issues, and a horribly painful foot condition. I chose a doctor all the way in downtown and didn't relish the monthly drive down there when my last OB was 5 minutes from my house door to door. Because of my "advanced maternal age" I saw a perinatologist too many times all the way in West LA (my choice to go all the way to West LA as opposed to just downtown. I had my reasons, though. I really liked my perinatologist in West LA).
Anyway, the last few weeks of my pregnancy I felt great. Julia was well-positioned in me so I was very comfortable. I remember popping out of bed in the morning with her, as opposed to easing my way out of bed with Chloe and Daisy because I cramped so badly when first getting out of bed in the morning. I remember telling my doctor at my 37 week checkup with Julia that "I feel great! I was clipping my toe nails this morning!" The memory of his bewildered facial expression makes me laugh even today. He's used to his 37 weekers complaining "How much longer? When can I have this baby? Can I be induced? I can't sleep at night" and on and on. Not me. I really felt good and was so enjoying those last few weeks of feeling Julia move inside me knowing I would never experience this again. I knew all too well that once she was born the outstretched arms from 5 older sisters, Dad, family and friends would be all too willing to hold her. I wished I had waited a little longer to have her. I probably could have held off a couple of days. But, alas, she was healthy when she was born and not premature in any way. I have so enjoyed her this past year. I have so many memories of holding her close and just feeling her sweet little body against mine and thanking God that I got just one more baby. Such feelings of love are hard to duplicate. So, my dramatic change of heart about one baby led to two babies! So, I've decided on another change of heart and it came rather unexpectantly, too. But it's late now and I'll have to continue this post later.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dramatic Change of Heart

There have been a few times in my life when I have had a dramatic change of heart, or made a dramatic decision spontaneously. We'll start with the dramatic decision spontaneously made.
Tim and I were together on a Saturday morning when we were dating and were intending on going to a Singles Meeting at church a little later on. All of the sudden Tim blurts out, "Let's get married today!" We had been dating for seven weeks (yes weeks, not months or even years). I look at him and say, "What?!" We had broached the topic several weeks earlier, but hadn't discussed it much since then. In fact, we had even "broken up" for several hours (yes, hours, not days, weeks or even months. Everything happened in warp speed time for us.)
Well, he begged me to marry him. He told me some stories from the Bible to justify the crazy decision. We went to my Dad's house later that morning and Tim formally asked him for my hand in marriage. My Dad replied, "Why don't you just live together first?" To which we replied, "Well, Dad, we don't believe in that." So, my teary-eyed Dad gave us his blessing (and some money!) and sent us off with my older sister and her boyfriend at the time. That was almost 17 years ago. The rest, they say, is history.
In retrospect, I would have done things differently. I believe the outcome would have been similar, but the timing and the process would have been quite different. But, I was 22 and immature and I hadn't learned how to make such big decisions with confidence that God always has my best interests in mind. I'm still learning that lesson. Anyway, I feel sorry for Tim. He had no idea what he was getting in to. I was a nightmare of a wife in those earlier years of our marriage. According to Tim, I've been much better the last 8 years - much to his relief! No one would ever accuse me of not trying hard, however. I am one of the most persistent people I know. And I love God who has changed my life. He's given me a new heart and a new mind. As I've clung to the commands of Scripture as well as the promises He's given me, he has changed me. Pleasing him and loving him is more important to me than anything else in my life. But often times my words and attitudes don't always reflect that commitment. I'm glad he's the one who's started this work in me and that he will be faithful to complete it.
Anyway, many years and 4 kids later, I had a dramatic change of heart. I remember the day I was sitting in my friend Joy's living room with our friend Diane and it was a hot summer July day. Her words pierced my heart. What a powerful moment that was that would forever alter the course of my life...
Well, the mother board on my computer is busted, so I'm at the library blogging on my little blog. I have to go because I've got kids at home, plans this afternoon, and the grocery store to go to. Plus, a tropical iced tea sounds really good right now....I'll finish this post later.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Reflections on Julia's First Year

Where do I start? Happy Birthday Julia! You've been such a sweet, mild-mannered baby and I've loved watching you grow and learn how to roll, crawl, and attempt the first maneuvers for walking. You can crawl faster than any baby I've ever had! And you love to eat! When I put you on my lap to nurse you I notice you smack your lips and say "Na na na." You latch on eagerly and patiently keep sucking for several minutes (yes, I've got a very slow let down) till you start enjoying all the good stuff. You are delightful and I love your full, sweet, kissable lips. So precious. You also take great comfort in grabbing and sometimes pulling my hair - hard! Ouch! It seems to comfort you the most, until I'm wincing in pain and have to pry your fat little fingers from hair strands you've pulled out. Anyway, you are very sweet, easygoing, and happy with anybody. We haven't had any issues with separation anxiety, although your sisters report so much crying when I'm gone but you never cry with me. Maybe they're making up stories!

Anyway, as with all of my babies, there is some interesting facet about their birth I share with them. With Julia's birth I've thought what that might be. Perhaps "You got stuck on the way out and your Dad almost had to pull you out. The nurse managed to get you out before your Dad ran for the pliers!" That sounds fairly humorous and I think maybe in the next few years I can say it with laughter. I'm getting closer to that day - but I'm not there yet. I don't cry as easily about the whole situation as I did before. It has been a whole year. I've sought God for healing and I've sought answers. I even got a copy of my chart from the hospital to look over what was actually charted. It looked fairly accurate to my memory. Some questions still remain, however. I contacted the patient advocate at the hospital where Julia was born and explained what happened on the day of her birth. He had a hard time believing parts of it. I tried to be fair to all parties involved. I was surprised, however, at how close to tears I was at recounting certain aspects of it and realized I still have a ways to go. It's been a whole year, but I realized, oh so discouragingly, that it will just take more time than I had hoped.
I don't know when or if the patient advocate will get back to me. I don't think he will have the answers I'm really looking for. Anything will be helpful, though. Even the fact that he is, in theory at least, advocating on my behalf was tremendously comforting. And he was such a compassionate, patient listener. That meant so much to me.
Being affected the way I was by her birth and everything and everyone surrounding it has been very humbling. I appreciate the hours my patient family and close friends have spent listening to me go through all the details - again and again, as I was searching for answers and trying to make sense of it all. Oddly enough, I felt God showed me how my pride caused some of my pain. I realized how the hidden, circuitous route that prideful, self-sufficient doubt in God's goodness led me on the path I took. I have learned much about my own vulnerabilities and weaknesses. Please help me not to forget, God. I really don't want to learn these things again. All this awareness, however, does not let others involved in the whole thing off the hook. But they are not on my hook, they are on God's. Have mercy, Lord, in the midst of your justice.

My flowers, strawberries, and bird bath need watering now. So, off I go to water and tend to my garden. In the cool of the morning in my garden I'm always drawn to Jesus. And so I will talk with my Friend once more about this whole situation and put it in his hands. And I will thank him, again and again for my beautiful, precious, delightful daughter - my Jewel-ia. And if I start to cry - again - I know that I will not hear, "Again? You're crying again?! When are you going to get past all this?" No, in fact, the Bible says that he records every one of our tears and that they are all kept in a bottle. In time I will forget most of those tears, but He won't.

Monday, June 15, 2009

They had a great time!

I'll let the pictures tell the story. (I still haven't figured out how to post pictures on my blog normally or post captions).

Friday, June 5, 2009

My Version of "24"

I once saw a small portion of an episode of "24"-that popular series starring Keifer Sutherland last year at a friend's house. A couple of minutes was all I could take. The torture and brutality were horrid - not enjoyable tv viewing at all. As I understand it, though, it's very popular because of all the blood and guts, action, drama, mystery, torture, and unusual time sequencing. No thanks.

Fastforward to this morning. I went to Bean Town in Sierra Madre with Daisy and Julia to get a scone and have some coffee. Bean Town is one of my most favorite places in the whole wide world. It really captures the essence of Sierra Madre. And Sierra Madre, for all of its small-town corruption, gossip, rampant recreational drug use, racism, and hippie liberals with hairy, stinky dogs (not that there's anything wrong with hippie liberals - I love 'em- they're just conservatives who haven't grown up. I could do without their hairy, stinky dogs, though) is a sweet, friendly, endearing, slow-paced, Mayberry kind of place to live. I love the town. It has really grown on me over the past 5 years I've lived here.

But, I digress. The girls who work at Bean Town in the morning are very young and cute. One of them was turning 24 as the banner under the counter read. I wished her a "happy birthday" and then said, "Turning 24 is great, but I'm so glad I'm not 24 anymore. I'm one of those rare people who really believes getting older is great. But, 24 is a great age to be." I really didn't want to be one of those condescending old people in any way. At that moment, Michael comes in. Michael is the friendliest person in town. He's probably in his mid to late 60's and is frequently at Bean Town. He helps himself to his "usual" behind the counter and talks to just about anyone. He's quirky, offbeat, outspoken, funny and just my kind of guy. I really think we could be friends. Everyone seems to know him. I've had a couple of brief and entertaining conversations with him myself. As he's standing in line wishing Amber a "happy birthday" I ask him "Would you want to be 24 again?" He looks at me seriously and quickly says "NO." I laughed and sat down to juggle hot coffee, grabby Julia, a couple of packets of Splenda, a bag with a chocolate chip orange scone (the yummiest, best scones in town! Although Tim has told me mine are better. He's so sweet - but he's wrong)and guiding Daisy to a seat on the couch. I begin to reminisce about my 24th year of life. It wasn't pretty. It was my version of "24" - complete with drama, mystery, action, torture - but no blood and guts thank God.

I should explain. (You knew I would, didn't you?) Let's see, at 24 I was working full-time as a long term sub at Garfield High School where Tim works, going to school part-time, doing my student teaching, and also pregnant with Elena. I didn't have a lot of friends then because I was so busy with the aforementioned activites and a lot of my older friends were in different places geographically and otherwise. My mother had been dead only 4 years at that point (not a long time in my opinion) and I had only been married two years. After the first year of wedded bliss wore off, I was shocked and depressed to realize that my husband wasn't perfect and that I was - gasp - really selfish and immature! Marriage really exposed all these yucky qualities of mine. And it's been 15 years of hard work and determination to grow and change by the grace of God to become less selfish and immature, and yet I have a long way to go. It seems these days the one bonus to time and a little bit of maturity is only greater awareness. I see my selfishness and immaturity more quickly now(see my post "Yelling at the Bus Driver") and am swifter and more skilled at making amends. A recent trial I encountered was just learning a lesson I hadn't in a past similar trial. I was actually glad God gave me a second chance to get it "right" this time. I'm still working on it, though. I know God will be faithful to help me.

Anyway, maybe I'll visit Bean Town tonight. They have their morning bakery items half-priced or free towards closing. And, I love to walk around town at night by myself. I always stay on well-traveled, well-lit streets as I walk past most of the closed businesses and just enjoy my sweet little town. Who knows? Maybe I'll run into Michael.