Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Finding Melissa

I was explaining Cassandra to one of Rackspace's architects over lunch on Dec 16 when Rachel called: "I can't find Melissa. I sent her to clean her room, then when I went to call her to come eat I couldn't find her. I was downstairs almost the whole time, and I didn't hear the door open, but I've looked everywhere and I can't find her. If I can't find her in another ten minutes can you come help look?"

I'm a little slow but I realized that the right answer here was, "I'm on my way." We'd walked to the Thai place for lunch, so I ran back to the parking lot and drove home. (It was a long enough run that I was quite sore the next day. I call this "the Melissa exercise plan.")

At home, I doublechecked Rachel's canvasing. She'd been thorough: all the closets, under all the beds -- even in the furnace recesses, which wouldn't have occurred to me. No Melissa. I called in my Loud Daddy Voice. No Melissa. But her shoes were all present and I didn't see any jackets missing (although she has several), and it was cold enough out that I thought that if she HAD taken off she'd either gone inside or she'd be back.

We said a prayer, and I checked our closest neighbors. Melissa is not shy about inviting herself over to play with her friends, but none of them were home. The few people who were home hadn't seen her.

One of the women I talked to suggested that she might have gone down to Matthew's school. That seemed like an idea worth following up on, since she's set off to do just that before. (After a lady in a pickup truck brought her back the last time, Rachel instituted the rule that either Melissa has to come to school when I dropped Matthew off, or Rachel needs to be awake in case Melissa woke up and decided to pull that stunt again.)

Nobody at the school office had seen her, but they said they'd keep looking.

Having exhausted the high probabilities, I started moving down the lower ones. I expanded my radius of neighbors, and was doing this when a patrol car and an unmarked cop car went by and stopped in front of our house. Rachel had called the police after calling me the first time, and they were finally arriving (about an hour later).

I kept going down the street, and a few minutes later Rachel called me: "they found her." She'd hidden in one of the large padded bags we keep under the guest bed for our dining room table leafs. The difference between amateurs and professionals: Rachel and I had both bent over, seen the closed bag, and moved on. The policeman lifted the bed up and from that vantage point it was clear there was something else in the bag. Good thing, because they were about to call in the helicopter and everything.

We called the school and the nice lady who said she'd help drive the neighborhood and look to say "never mind," and sat down to figure out what to do with this girl. (We're still working on that one.)

My family knows stubborn, but to hide silently in the dark for an hour and a half, at the age of four? That's pretty exceptional.

Friday, December 25, 2009

A letter to Santa

Matthew wrote this letter to Santa:

Dear Santa,
How are you? I am doing good. This year I have a little good and a little bad. I will try to do my best in scool. I will leave milk and cookies [arrow and more writing on the back] for you. there will also be carrids for the reinder.

be safe
He also had an optimistic wish list for Santa.

1. elechric sorw (electric saw)
2. migerscop (microscope)
3. tellascop (telescope)
4. fillter (felt - for his craft projects)

I had to downgrade his expectations a bit. "Santa doesn't do dangerous gifts." So the electric saw was out of the question. A telescope and a microscope are both big gifts, and there are a lot of kids so I didn't think Santa could do that. He was a little disappointed, but seemed to understand.

On Christmas day, Matthew got a microscope. He has been in little boy heaven all day long. But that is for another post...

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A milestone

I was raised on a bland diet: neither of my parents is fond of spicy food, so my mother never cooked it. We didn't eat out to speak of, so I wasn't exposed to it that way either.

I didn't feel like I was missing anything. Why eat food that was painful? But when I started dating in college and going out to more restaurants, I found that I really liked Asian food, especially Thai food. Most Thai food is spicy, although I understand that American restaurants tone this down for wimpy white person taste buds. So if I had to learn to like spicy food to eat Thai, that was a trade-off at least worth considering.

So I've been working on this for years now, slowly, and now I'm mostly on a par with Rachel, who had the advantage of growing up with Tabasco sauce. Tonight I made Thai beef salad with Serrano peppers (substituted for the "thai red peppers" it called for; I'm pretty sure they are not to be found in San Antonio), and our guests commented that Serranos are spicier than Jalapenos.

I was pleased, because when I was a kid I thought Jalapenos were very, very spicy. Of course I knew by now that Jalapenos are really at the bottom of the minor leagues for spiciness, but hey: progress.

(Only recently did I learn that "the whole point of spicy food is that at first it is painful, causing the release of endorphins to the brain. With time the pain goes away and you still get the endorphins." A light turned on...)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Why all our soap bars have holes in them

Originally uploaded by jbellis
Melissa likes to screw them onto the bottom of the faucet, like this.

Dodged a bullet

Despite Matthew's best efforts, he just sprained his elbow this time. The doctor advised him to "take it easy." Ha!

He already has his cast picked out for next time though. "They have glow in the dark? Cool! I want the glow in the dark water-proof cast when I break my bone again!"

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Matthew's elbow, part 2

Last Thursday evening Jonathan told Matthew that he needed to clear the table. Instead, Matthew proceeded to ride on the over-sized exercise ball like a cowboy on a bucking bull, whooping it up. Unfortunately things did not end well for our hero. The "bull" bucked him off and he landed with his arm overextended. Crunch. He cried a bit and after that got if you'd been doing what you were supposed to be doing you wouldn't have gotten hurt from his father. He complained a bit about it hurting and we iced it, but there wasn't any swelling to speak of and he was still bouncing off the walls, so we didn't think too much about it.

The next day he was still complaining a bit about his elbow but said it only hurt when he straightened it all the way or when he tried to touch his shoulder. Since he didn't seem to be in too much discomfort, we sent him to school, but after school he still didn't like moving it. It looked to me like he needed to head to the doctor's office.

The timing could have been better. Jonathan's car wouldn't start, and I had a dinner to deliver to a friend.

Matthew's orthopedic clinic fit him in with the PA in a different office building, since his doc was in surgery for the rest of the day. I had an hour before we had to leave, so I threw together a dinner of chili. muffins, and a chocolate M&M pie, all while entertaining Isaac.

At 4:15 it was time to:
  • Drop Melissa off at her gymnastics class,
  • Drop off the dinner,
  • Take Jon and Matthew to the clinic. It turned out to be quite a bit further down the freeway than either of us expected, but where else could we find a place open and ready to see Matthew at 5 PM on a Friday?
  • Go back to pick up Melissa. Freeway traffic was bad, so I took the back roads, and it was still terrible. To top it off a blasted train decided to go past, and it was loooooooooooong! Grr! Fortunately Isaac mostly napped and when he wasn't zonked he took the trip with pretty good grace. I arrived 10 minutes late to gym class and collected Melissa,
  • Turn around and go back south again to pick up Matthew and Jonathan. Our timing was good and we arrived just as they were walking out of the building,
  • And pick up the babysitter for our date night!
Matthew was sporting a splint and grinning. The x-rays didn't show an obvious break, but as we learned the first time, growth plate fractures don't necessarily show up on x-ray immediately. Either it's a sprain, or he broke it and the fracture just isn't visible yet. He has a follow up appointment with his doctor tomorrow, and we should know more then. According to Jonathan, Matthew charmed the lady who applied his splint. She thought he was just too adorable and so polite.

[Post by Rachel with edits by yours truly, by request]

You're Older Than You've Ever Been

Matthew was singing this song with great relish today:

You're older than you've ever been
And now you're even older
And now you're even older
And now you're even older
You're older than you've ever been
And now you're even older
And now you're older STILL!

TIIIIIME is marching ON!
And TIME is still marching ON!

By They Might Be Giants

Repeat over and over. Thanks, Uncle Jeremy, for putting this gem on his MP3 player.

For my birthday he also gave me a book:

Would you believe he picked it out all by himself? And bought it with his own money too!

He was really excited to give it to me. We will enjoy reading it together, I'm sure. ;)

The Nutcracker

Saturday Melissa and I went to the Nutcracker. It was her first time to see a live ballet and she was so excited she was skipping.

She laughed at the naughty mice, sympathized with Clara and her troublesome brother, clapped for the "toys," and was enchanted with the snow ballerinas. Melissa loved the first part and made it through most of the second part before getting a bit bored. And hungry.

When asked what her favorite dancers were she quickly replied, "the pink ones!"

Monday, December 07, 2009

O Christmas tree

The second year of our marriage, Rachel and I got an artificial tree at Lowes, and Rachel has hated it more every year, mostly because it takes at least an hour to set up under the best of conditions, and two with "help."

This is the year that her hate for that collection of plastic finally overcame my reluctance to kill a live tree to have it shed the living hell out of our living room for a few weeks. It's every bit as bad as I feared, but Rachel likes the smell and keeps saying things like "What a pretty tree!" so this might be my fate for the foreseeable future.

(I think part of my immunity to the tree's charms might be that my memories of pine scent skew heavily towards trying to scrub pine sap off my skin as a boy -- much harder than you'd think -- rather than nutmeg and apple pie. The only trees we had with branches I could reach were pine.)

Melissa is thrilled, I think partly because she believes that buying and decorating the tree brings Christmas that much closer -- she keeps asking "is Christmas tomorrow?" -- but mostly because she adores pretty things. She was so anxious to get the tree that she offered to pay for it: "I saved lots of dollars!" I reassured her that buying the tree was Daddy's job, but she was still excited to help, and ultimately I accepted a single penny from her purse.

My cousin's wife Jen warned us to "keep it filled with TONS of water or it just [sheds] incredibly worse," and so far Melissa has been eager to claim that duty. She was dressed for church before the rest of us this morning, so I handed her a beaker with strict instructions to only fill it halfway full from the sink before taking it to the tree. The next time I came downstairs, Melissa met me with a hangdog expression. "Daddy? I had an accident." With Melissa lately, "having an accident" usually involves needing a change of underwear, so I was wary: "What kind of accident?" "I spilled. I spilled the whole thing in the bathroom!" So I told her to get a towel and wipe it up, and she scampered off, relieved again.

Now we are decorating it while Isaac naps. Rachel and I hung the lights ("Your dad didn't set much of an example for you here, did he?" "No. His contribution was primarily to bring the tree down from the attic") while the older kids broke ornaments in their excitement. The score is currently 1:1. Now Rachel is hanging the beads.

Update: now (a day later) the score is 1:2:2. Isaac and Melissa have each broken two.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Matthew and Melissa Art

Portrait of Heather
(oil pastels)
by Matthew
Matthew sketched this picture while in Houston and added the oil pastels when we returned home.

(construction paper and cotton balls)
by Melissa

by Matthew
This was a quick doodle for a friend.

Farmhouses on a hill

(oil pastels)
by Matthew
Matthew spent hours working on this and was so pleased with it when he finished.

Girl in Pink
by MelissaWas there any question who the artist was? Pink is definitely her preferred color to express herself.

Winter Scene
by Matthew
I forgot to ask the artist, but I think that is a cow in the middle there...


by Matthew
In this piece he learned a new technique in art class. To make the trees, he painted Ys.


  • Melissa, blessing the food: "... We thank thee for Mommy, and Daddy, and Mewissa ... [quietly:] dat's me! I'm Mewissa! I'm a girl. I saying da prayer. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

  • "I guess, technically, I already beat [Katamari Forever]. But not on drive mode! And I still need to collect some cousins and presents!" -- Rachel responds to a suggestion she play something else

  • Rachel: "You know, I would hate being the guy manning the phones at the Butterball Turkey Hotline on Thanksgiving. Because you know it's bad news, and it's too late to fix it."

  • Rachel: "Melissa, I'm going to put Isaac to sleep now. Please play quietly until I'm done." Melissa, five minutes later: "Daddy, Mommy is _gone_! Maybe she went to orchestra!" It's hard to tell when Melissa is actually paying attention to what you tell her. (It's also amusing that, a year later, Melissa still equates "Mommy is gone" with "Mommy is playing in the orchestra.)

  • Things I never thought I'd have to say: "Matthew! No sawing the railing!" (I was hoping I had misinterpreted what I thought I was hearing from inside the house, but Matthew just replied, "Okay.")

  • I don't really see the point of adding slices of white tissue-bread to a plate full of barbecue, but to the kids it was a revelation. Matthew tried to figure out why his mother only ever bakes whole wheat: "Mom?" Yes?" "Do you know how to make white bread?" Yes. "Did you ever make any?" Yes. "Did it turn out okay?" Yes...

  • Matthew: "Were Satan and King Herod friends?"

  • Isaac's job: take shiny, fragile ornaments off the tree and pull the tops off. Daddy's job: put the tops back on and re-hang higher on the tree.

  • Me, washing the pie Rachel gave him off Isaac: "You get him dirty, you clean him up! That's the law of the jungle!" Rachel: "No, the law of the jungle is 'Teach him to say Da-da.'"

At the Kids Workshop

Rachel found out that Home Depot offers a free activity on the first Saturday of each month called Kids Workshop. Every month there is a different project to build, and they give you a badge for each one you complete to put on your Official Kids Workshop Apron.

We went yesterday for the first time. It officially started at nine, and we arrived shortly after that. It was a zoo. The kids were immensely pleased with their aprons, especially Melissa, who told every employee she met that "I a worker, too!" The project was a 7-piece wagon, which was just about right for Matthew to do himself and Melissa to do with some help from Dad. By the time we were done about an hour later the crowd was much thinner, so we'll plan accordingly next month.

Some drama occurred when Matthew hammered a plastic axle in too hard and broke the head off. He took out his anger on the next nail he came across, which probably wasn't the best idea since he knocked one of his boards clean off. He started crying, "Now I won't get a badge!" I helped him put it back together, and although still mad at the broken axle, he was consoled that he did in fact still get a badge.

Melissa was tickled to death by the whole thing.

We bought a couple cheap boards for the kids to saw and hammer at home. Last night and this morning they were outside late and early hammering away (in their Official Worker Aprons, of course). This may be the best anti-princess activity yet, if it keeps up. It might not; this morning, Melissa failed to hold a board the way Matthew wanted, so he yelled at her and that was the end of her desire to participate today.

All in all, this is quite possibly the best freebie in America. (I understand Lowes has a similar program, but we haven't tried it yet.)


- Taken at 10:14 AM on December 05, 2009 - uploaded by ShoZu

- Taken at 10:06 AM on December 05, 2009 - uploaded by ShoZu
a quickr pickr post

Monday, November 30, 2009

Houston and Cousins

Thanksgiving day we invited some friends of ours to dinner. They'd just moved into town the weekend before and were still in the midst of boxes and unpacking. Deja vu! We moved the same weekend last year.

I cooked everything including the turkey the day before so we could play all morning, and relax during the afternoon. It was nice to see them. Boy their four kids were wired after being stuck in a car for two days and then cooped up in the house with boxes! Naturally a good time was had by all and all the kids whooped it up all over the house. Everyone was tired at the end of the day and slept well. Whew!

Friday we got off to a late start to Houston to see James and Cameo with their two cute boys. Heather and Will flew in for Thanksgiving weekend too, so it was like an extended cousin dinner. I sure miss those monthly dinners... Matthew and Melissa were delighted to see cousin Jacob and play with him. And they got to have a sleepover in his room. I wonder how much sleeping went on...

Saturday James, Cameo, and Jonathan took the big kids to the park to run around while they played ultimate frisbee. Jonathan didn't bring sneakers or cleats so he opted to play barefoot. (Yes, it was that warm last weekend, in the 70s and overcast. Then the next weekend Houston got snow. Go figure.) Jonathan had a good time, but he managed to do something to his foot. What is it with that man and frisbee? James and Cameo caught the BYU game that night, while the rest of us took the kids bowling. Jacob was a real bowler, but Melissa got bored after the fifth frame. Matthew wavered between frustration and elation. He hates losing. Explaining that it's just a game and he's still learning hasn't had much impact. Fortunately for him, Heather and I are also really lousy bowlers, so he was right around our scores. "Gutter ball!" The bowling alley was sophistocated enough to have the bumpers only pop up for the kids. I was impressed. Regrettably, I probably could have used the bumpers too. Heh.

The evenings were spent playing games. Word to the wise, Cameo rocks Dutch Blitz.

Sunday Jonathan forgot his church clothes and I gave him way more harassment than he deserved. Poor longsuffering guy. Haha. He thought I put them in the car, and I assumed he'd done so. Oh well. James outfitted him and he just wore his black socks, no shoes. It worked well enough. :) Thanks James. After a delicious lunch of crepes and orange juliuses made by Will (Jonathan: Wow, Will mixes everything in a blender, and he's good), and a few more games; we packed up the kids and drove home.

Isaac didn't nap much on the way to or from Houston, but at least he tolerated his carseat better this trip. He can be bribed with M&Ms now.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

SeaWorld - Ho!

We made it to SeaWorld!
We live a half hour away, but it's taken us a while to finally check it out. We originally were planning to go on Matthew's birthday, but it rained and Isaac was sick to boot. Boo! Jonathan suggested going on Thanksgiving since it was unlikely to be crowded that day. He was right. We got there and the parking lot was maybe 1/5 full. We walked right in and checked out the dolphins first thing.

The kids wanted to get a bit closer, so we shelled out only $12 for three tiny trays of sardines to feed the dolphins. Matthew and Melissa loved it. Unfortunately the dolphins and the kids were a bit too wiggly to get a good picture.

Here's the best out of a series of bad shots. :p

We saw the Shamu show and WOW was I impressed! Naturally I left the camera in the stroller parking, but it was amazing. The 3 whales leaped out into the air with their trainers standing on the end of their (snout?). They did flips, "danced" in circles, slapped water at the audience, and carried their trainers riding and standing at impressive speeds on their backs, fins, and snouts. It appeared that the trainers and the whales were having a blast out there together. Very fun to watch!

Matthew and Jonathan rode a splash rollercoaster together. Matthew begged to go on it and he just squeaked by the height requirement. It went up did a backwards dip, rotated frontwards again before racing to the bottom in a splash water fall. Jonathan said that Matthew was pretty whiteknuckled and he asked him at the end, "Did you like the ride?" Matthew hesitatingly responded yes. "Do you want to go again?" "No!" He did like the splash at the bottom, but once was enough! Melissa was insanely jealous that she didn't get to go to, but I think it was just as well.

Instead she rode some of the tamer rides.

Matthew up close and personal with the penguins. He asked a few questions and really enjoyed seeing the penguin up close.

One of the many pictures Matthew took of the penguins.

The aquariums were fun to visit too, and the shark tank was HUGE! There was something for everyone there, even play areas for Isaac. We'll be going back sometime since we purchased season tickets as a Christmas present. Maybe next time I can get some good pictures of the kids!

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I started this post over a week ago (finally finished it and hit publish). Hence the delay despite the November 28 date.

The turkey and trimmings are stashed in the refrigerator after another delectable Thanksgiving feast. Now I just have to think of 1001 ways to use up turkey.* Turkey pancakes, anyone?**

I am thankful for my little family and the three ring circus starring Matthew, Melissa, and Isaac. They keep us laughing.....and humbled. Boy do they humble us from time to time! I am also grateful for the my co-ringmaster who keeps me sane and puts up with my quirks. Thanks honey.

I'm grateful for good parents, Jonathan's and mine. I couldn't be luckier when it comes to parents who worked so hard to raise and teach me, and parents-in-law who welcomed me into the family as a daughter. We have great siblings too, both by birth and by marriage. We love and like to be around them, and count them as our friends as well as our siblings. How fortunate is that? Someday we plan to live closer to them so our kids can get to know their aunts, uncles, and cousins better.

Our kids are healthy. In particular, Isaac is thriving, and for that we are very grateful.

Matthew and Melissa are gentle people and (mostly) try to do what is right. Sure they argue from time to time as siblings do, but they also look out for each other and will share their last piece of candy with one another. Melissa always runs up to Matthew when we pick him up from school and throws her arms around him and gives him a kiss. She misses him during the day. Matthew protects his sister in the playground from bigger kids, and always sees that Melissa gets her fair share. He'll even divvy up his goody bag from friends' parties and offer it to his little sister. Both are very good to their baby brother and can't bear to see him cry.

I am grateful for Texas. We've enjoyed our year of respite in the great state of Texas. 2008 was an interesting year. While I wouldn't take anything back since we've learned so much, I'm still glad that 2009 has been peaceful. The people here are good people and look out for others. Our family has been kindly welcomed into the homes and lives of many different families both Texas natives and transplants. Living near five military bases, we have met people from all over that have adopted San Antonio as their home. This is a state populated by people that are unabashedly proud of their state's great heritage and very patriotic to country and to state. Matthew vacillates from claiming to be Utahn and Texan. I've told him he can claim both.

At this time of year my thoughts are more frequently turned to the Savior and his atonement. I am so grateful for a living, hearing God, and his Son, Jesus Christ. In times of weakness, I have been comforted, and do not doubt that God lives.

May you have a blessed Christmas and know our thoughts are with you, our friends and family, even though we are far away.

*I didn't do turkey pancakes, but we did have turkey enchiladas, homemade turkey mac 'n cheese (with stuffing topping), turkey wraps, and turkey sandwiches, naturally.

**We are all a little tired of turkey.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


  • Matthew left his mp3 player down. Isaac ate the foam padding off the headphones. The circle of life: I remember when Matthew ate the foam off one of mine.
  • Muppets: "A photographic memory? In your case, that means a memory that needs developing!" Matthew: "What's developing?" (Even funnier than the actual Muppet Show, or explaining 1970s technology in 2009, is the kids cracking up at the slapstick bits.)
  • Matthew: "I may be cute, but I'm also a little bit sweet."
  • Melissa: "Taste knee bullets! Right, dad?" Me: "?" "Tanks need bullets! Right?"
  • Rachel showed Melissa how to use the radio part of her clock-radio. She started on a classical station. By bedtime, I could hear guitars wailing. That's my girl.
  • Melissa: "Can I have more flat potatoes, please?" (She meant McDonald's hashbrowns.)
  • Watched the WCG Starcraft finals live at 2 AM. (Jaedong 2-1 Stork)
  • "I hate legos! They're stupit! [sic] And I hate Isaac!" Matthew learns that trying to build something on the floor is an exercise in frustration.
  • Every couple months, the traffic waves part just right and I take the 50mph curves on 281 S at 80. This makes my whole day go better. Glad I got this in one more time before we move offices. (I just realized what this means: no more snack closet.)
  • We had friends over for dinner last week. The chicken pasta broiled a little too long, and got a little toasty. Matthew told our guests, "That's okay; my mom burns things a lot."
  • Friend: "Did you finish your book?" Me: "Which book?" Friend: "The one you were reading in church." Rachel: "WHAT?" Friend: "Oops."
  • Melissa, singing: "A is for apple, M is for Melissa, E is for Melissa, L is for Melissa, ..."
  • Took Melissa with me to drop stuff off at FedEx and pick up Thai for lunch. In between, we had time to stop at Toys R Us, and Melissa charmed an empty but cute pink gift card from the cashier. She showed her prize to Matthew, who was green with envy -- not for the pink card per se, but because "You got to go to Toys That Are Us? No fair!"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Laundry Fairy's Ditty

This is the laundry that never ends,
Yes, it goes on and on my friend.

One lady started doing it, not realizing how much it was,
And she'll forever wash and fold it just because-

This is the laundry that never ends....

Sunday, November 08, 2009


  • Another nerd dream: I was teaching SICP, but I wished my friend Paul was teaching it instead of me. (Paul wrote a lisp-to-python-bytecode compiler, only that part isn't a dream.)
  • Need to blog about the birthday party we had for Melissa's invisible friend.
  • Rachel: "you know what Firefly reminds me of? Cowboy Bebop." She's right. It's a live action Cowboy Bebop with more soap opera and less action.
  • Isaac's morning ritual: diaper change, nurse, walk to the ps3 and eject whatever disc Rachel or I was playing last night, unplug Daddy's laptop.
  • Flew to Atlanta for the NoSQL East conference. (Didn't speak, this time -- just wanted to meet potential Cassandra users.) I've never been called "dearie" more times in my life than by the waitress at the greasy spoon for breakfast. In a Southern accent, of course. On the way back, Delta fubarred the seating assignments somehow, assigning half a dozen people to the same seat. Chaos ensued. Good times. Isaac was _very_ happy to see me when I got back.
  • Isaac isn't as into horseplay as his siblings were, but things like driving a truck over his arm totally crack him up.
  • 20 minutes late to the ward halloween party was not late enough for it to have actually started. It was a madhouse: they combined parties with the neighboring High Country ward, and the line for food stretched around all four walls of the gym. Fortunately we were near the front of the "people with small kids" group, and were done eating forty minutes later (when the line had shrunk to two and a half walls). They had a "trunk or treat" there but (a) it was going to be another hour before everyone ate and (b) we had to go to do real trick-or-treating. So we did.
  • Bishop Cowart: "Our youngest son went away to college in August. I've got to say... [He pauses, and he looks like he's going to get emotional] it's been nice."
  • My friend Ellis's brother is in China. They have church meetings over Skype. Cool.
  • Matthew is in little boy heaven: Uncle Jeremy sent him a Sansa music/video player, and preinstalled Rockbox (so it has games, too). Matthew is having fun with the games but more fun figuring out everything it can do. Also, the songs Jeremy loaded, including "the Mahna Mahna song." So we had to show him the Muppet Show source. Seven-year-old (and four-year-old) comedy GOLD. The phone call brought down the house.
  • Rachel rescued a couple of her 12 year old "young women" from waiting at church an hour early for the temple trip. At the table, one asked the other, "is Paris in Italy, or Italy in Paris?" I kid you not.
  • I realized that if practice could make me good at writing, it would have happened by now. That's me over here, proving talent does matter.
  • Another thing I thought went without saying: "Matthew, don't squirt your brother with the water bottle!" Isaac is soaked.
  • Someone left a bunch of gumdrops where Isaac could reach them this morning. He was a happy pumpkin -- happy, and sticky. (I guess that's step 5 on his morning to-do list: check for anything sticky and/or crunchy within reach.)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Isaac finds the marshmallow

One of the kids left the pantry door open (AGAIN) and Isaac took full advantage of the chance to explore its forbidden delights. He decided to see what was inside the jar of marshmallow creme and was not at all disappointed by what he found.

I put him in the high chair so he wouldn't get anything stickier than he already had, and relieved him of the creme. He was mad, but he realized he still had plenty on his hands to lick off, and busied himself with that for a while.

I had a trail of marshmallow to clean up, and then Isaac (and finally the high chair, which was by then not a little sticky). I'd just dressed him, too!

Fire Station

On Thursday, we went to the fire station with a small group of moms and kids. Melissa was thrilled. She got to climb up into the fire truck,

try on the hat,

and the heavy coat.

The captain asked the children fire safety questions, and Melissa knew the answers! We'd been discussing and practicing safety the day before, but sometimes it's hard to gauge how much they retain at this age. She knew her stuff. Made me proud.

How to get Melissa to sit still

Rachel: "I've never seen her so patient. She's not like that when _I_ do her hair!"

Me: "Maybe that's because you don't act like you're doing her a favor."

Melissa didn't quite make it through "Return of the Jedi"

Matthew really enjoyed it, though. He kept up a stream of commentary/questions. "This is going be FUN! [lightsaber noises]"

Monday, November 02, 2009

A letter to Uncle Brian, from Matthew

Dear Uncle Brian,

On Halloween, I went trick-or-treating with my friend Christian. We went across the roads with each other, and also we had a lot of fun. I was a knight, and Christian was a pirate.

My jack-o-lantern had some square glasses. It looked funny.

Today, right now, it's night.

Tomorrow I will have art class. I like art a lot, because there's different kinds of art: you can make sculptures and pictures.

I'm doing good. I hope you're doing good too.

I got a new [mp3] player called Sansa. It's like an iPod.

[Here Matthew wanders off to go play with the Sansa, a birthday gift from Uncle Jeremy.]

Love, Matthew

A letter to Uncle Brian, from Melissa

Dear Uncle Brian,

My invisible friend went trick or treating too! And she was a fairy, and I was a fairy. We're both fairies for Halloween, and we go to houses to get candy. I have wings, and a shirt, and a skirt, and tights, and sparkly shoes, and a crown. Mommy made my crown out of flowers!

We carved the pumpkins, and we cut a circle in it, and a square for the roof [top], and a face -- mine was a happy face, with nice eyes ... and one nose!

That's all!

Love, Melissa

Sunday, November 01, 2009


Matthew showing off his pumpkin. He designed it himself and cut out most of it until the pumpkin carving knives gave out and Mom had to step in with a kitchen knife. "He has square glasses! That's pretty silly huh?"

Melissa next to her pumpkin.

Isaac peering into the Jack o' lantern. He stayed with me to help pass out candy help himself to candy. He got a kick out of seeing the trick-or-treaters come to the door.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Pumpkin Patch

It's Autumn, but I have to keep reminding myself of that fact while walking in 80+ degree heat. Here the leaves do not change color and fall to ground. Instead San Antonio is smack dab in the middle of a butterfly migration path and we can see fluttering butterflies of all sorts of colors. Pretty, but not really Fall-ish. To get into the spirit of the season, the kids and I went to a pumpkin patch.

A Pumpkin in a pumpkin patch

Matthew and Melissa being silly

Playing in the bucket 'o corn

Melissa posing.

Isaac being chased by an "older" woman. She's 15 months and kept kissing him and attempting to poke him in the eye. "I like you!" Whack, whack. Sweet romance!

(Isaac was more interested in the pumpkins, dirt, straw, twigs...)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Paging Doctors Ellis and Ellis

"Mom can you call me Dr. E?" - Matthew

Daddy's checkup. Melissa peered into Jonathan's ears with an otoscope. "Daddy you have pretty ears!" Giggle.

Say "Ahhh!" "Wait a minute...is that a clean popsicle stick?" Too late! "Dad, I can't hear your heart, are you sure that is where your heart is?"

I got a checkup too, and since I was such a good patient, I got a popsicle from Dr. Melissa. And I didn't even need a shot! "When I grow up, I will give popsicles to all the kids after their checkups."

Sunday, October 25, 2009


  • I just realized that Matthew is now as old as our friend Joe was when he asked me almost 10 years ago, "Is Rachel part of your family?" Rachel says that my answer ("Not yet, Joe") was her first clue that I was serious.
  • Matthew: "What are those things that are like computers, but you put paper in them, and you have to pull a lever to make the paper come out?" Me: "A typewriter?"
  • Matthew is walking to school now, per The Mommy Compromise. (He wanted to six months ago, but Rachel wanted to wait 'til he was 7. So when he turned seven I twisted her arm and she okayed it.) Most mornings he walks with his friend Connor, but sometimes Connor forgets or is late and Matthew goes by himself. He's very pleased with this sign of independence.
  • Melissa, praying: "We're thankful everyone has lips." Rachel and I opened our eyes to exchange glances and suppressed chuckles. Not something that would have occurred to me, but Amen!
  • Did my 2008 federal taxes on Oct 14. (All you people who thought waiting 'til April 15 to file was procrastinating? Amateurs.)
  • Melissa was playing with a sequin (yes, just one) on the toilet and dropped it. Apparently I was supposed to fish it out. Sorry; there's a pretty short list of things I'll stick my hand into poo-swirled water for, and that's not one of them. I declined, and a grand mal tantrum ensued.
  • "It's all broke! I HATE these!" Matthew has a love/hate relationship with legos. Mostly hate.
  • Missed the fine print on Amazon's return policy: 15% fee for opened computers. Ouch.
  • Rachel: "Now that X moved out of the ward, Melissa has the shortest attention span in Sunday School." Good thing her teacher is a saint. But just in case, we have a standing offer with her to come sit with Melissa if she needs help sitting still.
  • Rachel made bubble tea -- sugary drinks with tapioca "bubbles," or "balls," as Matthew calls them. This resulted in comments such as "Everyone wants my balls," and "Who wants some of my balls?" I kept cracking up, and Rachel kept glaring at me. Comedy GOLD.
  • I was just starting to lift Isaac's legs to wipe when he reached down, grabbed his dirty diaper, and pulled it out. "That's why I change him over a [cloth] diaper," Rachel pointed out. But in this case, it wouldn't have helped; the poop was, quite literally, far-flung.
  • Matthew was climbing the fridge to get down the milk from the top shelf, and knocked down the apple cider Rachel just bought. It split open, spilling half a gallon all over the kitchen floor. Half a gallon covers a wide area; most of the kitchen, in fact. After wiping it up I mopped three times with water, pine sol, and water again. Then the mop broke, so I called it good. Still need to get a new mop.
  • Isaac just victimized the last door stop thingy. He likes to pull the rubber heads off the springs. Now he got the one by the garage door; I think that's all of the
  • Matthew's first sarcasm: "Thanks a LOT for losing my math thing, Mom." They grow up so fast... (And yes, he gets this from his father. I don't remember Rachel being sarcastic in front of the kids.)
  • The universal unit of size to Matthew is The Daddy. At the zoo, everthing was "It's as big as Daddy! It's taller than Daddy! Daddy, could you pick that up? What about that, is that as big as Daddy?"

The invisible birthday party

Melissa informed me that tomorrow is her invisible friend's birthday. "And you don't have to clean your room to go!" She insisted on this point several times: she didn't get to go to a real birthday party on Thursday because she hadn't cleaned her room for two days. But since room cleaning day isn't until Tuesday, I assented.

Melissa further informed me that besides cake, her invisible friend required presents, so we needed to go to the store. Of course! But I pointed that invisible friends only get invisible presents. Melissa was not immediately convinced, but I held firm. Finally she agreed, but still insisted that the invisible presents Need To Be Wrapped.

So, she got a sheet of wrapping paper. I thought I was going to find out what the invisible friend's name was, but she just wrote "M" on it. M is for m-visible, of course! And then she wrapped... something, I suppose. I'm actually not sure what happened to it after that. I imagine I'll find out tomorrow.

A walk with Isaac

We took a family walk tonight by the library. It's a mostly-paved track between 1/2 and 3/4 of a mile through woods and brush. The kids liked it, although I carried Melissa's scooter more often than not. (It's only "mostly" paved.)

Isaac wanted to walk like The Big Kids, of course, so he and I lagged behind while Rachel and Matthew took the lead. Melissa spent time at both ends.

Isaac saw lots of things that interested him. We stopped for further examination of four rocks, one stick, two dogs, and a used band-aid. (Daddy quickly confiscated that one.) Everything is fascinating when you're one.

Intermittently I would pick him up and walk quickly to catch up, but he would squirm free again to walk some more with that wide-legged toddler stance of his. I think he had a good time, until Rachel stowed him in his car seat for the ride home. That, he Did Not Approve of.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I'd be grumpy too!

Isaac is still recovering from a miserable cough and runny nose. He's also cutting 6 new teeth at once (two of which are molars), and he has a fierce case of diarrhea and diaper rash.

He's not a happy Pumpkin...

Thursday, October 15, 2009

How was your day?

To start out the day, Isaac and I did dishes. I put them in, he took them out. While we were busy, Melissa cleaned her room. Then I tossed a load in the wash and a load in the dryer. Hoot! Hoot! [play with me mom!] I crawled on my hands and knees and growled at Isaac. He squealed and toddled away as fast as he could, but not fast enough! Nom, nom, nom, I ate his belly* Giggle, giggle. After playing for a while he got tired. He curled up in my arms and nursed to sleep. He went down for a nap just in time for Melissa to come bounding downstairs. "My room's all clean!"

Great! It's PLAYDOUGH time!

Melissa stirring the pot.

What color do you want to make?

Then it was time for lunch. While I fixed it, Melissa worked on writing her 5s, sorting items, and counting 1-5. Crayons, pencils, and M&Ms were involved.

Lunch time!
PB&J, peaches, and carrots for her; pork chops, mushrooms, and rice for me. "Mom, can I try that?" Um sure. "Mmm! I like dis!" Then she ate about half of my lunch. (Maybe she's outgrowing her food pickiness? Nah.)

Reading time.
Melissa picked a story. We read. "How would you like to learn how to read, Melissa?" "No thanks, it's too hard." "We can just do sounds, how about that?" "OK!" Pulled out Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

It's the same book I used to teach Matthew and really is a fantastic beginning book. It builds step by step on the sounds the letters make, and introduces blending sounds in an easy to understand manner. There is a lot of repetition to reinforce past lessons which we sometimes skipped if Matthew already had it down cold. Overall I found it a good, parent/child friendly book. Melissa and I flew through the first three lessons easily. She seemed to enjoy it.

Isaac got up so I turned on Harold and the Purple Crayon for Melissa and attempted to feed Isaac lunch.

This is what he thought of it...

Those peaches were really sweet too!

Next Isaac decided to play TV monitor. He likes it OFF.

We find it rather tedious. "No! Isaac!"

He can also shut the doors to the entertainment cabinet. Melissa was getting frustrated. "Come here my baby trouble!"

[Grin] My work here is done!

I fed him some Cheerios and played with him so he'd leave the tv alone for a bit, then it was time to walk to Matthew's school. It was another muggy day. I later learned the heat index was about 109. That's getting pretty warm.

We get home and everybody had something to drink and an after school snack. Matthew showed me his folder and schoolwork. He read a story and I did some more laundry. Hoot! Hoot! [I'm getting tired again!] Nursed the Isaac and he crashed for his afternoon nap. 'Night, night, big guy.

I was feeling a bit tired too, so I decided to lie down on the couch and let the big kids watch some Teen Titans.

And that is precisely where Mr. Ellis found me when he came home an hour early from work.

Hello Handsome!

Since Isaac was still napping and I couldn't go back to sleep, Matthew and I started working on his lego bulldozer that grandma gave him for his birthday. Melissa "helped" too. We got about 1/3 done when it was time for dinner. Jonathan wanted to try a Caribbean place, but they went out of business, so the kids thought bubble "tea" sounded good to them. We stopped at Pearlberry for the bubble tea (taro flavored is my very favorite) and a great little Vietnamese place that we really like. Isaac was rather grumpy through dinner. His majesty threw about half of the things we offered him onto the floor. Check please!

Then it was...

Bedtime! Sweet, sweet bedtime. Teeth, jammies, a story, prayer, and into bed! Goodnight my little loves.

*I just discovered the option to change font colors on blogger. My darling man may find it annoying, but how fun for me! Next I need to do some tinkering with the layout...

Monday, October 12, 2009


Tonight Matthew decided to wet down Isaac's hair and comb it straight just like his. Surprisingly not only did Isaac tolerate his hair being combed, but when Matthew was finished, Isaac picked up the comb in one hand and grabbed Matthew's hand with the other to indicate more hair combing. Naturally Matthew obliged. Isaac made pleased noises.

Matthew went to bed satisfied that Isaac's hair was now straight. Shh! Don't tell him it didn't last long. Within 10 minutes, Isaac's hair started springing up again. He's got curly hair like his sister.

The Power of Placebo

Matthew and Melissa take any injury or ache (real or imagined) very seriously. Okay, they are hypochondriacs. Add that to an almost mystical belief in medicine curing anything and you have a recipe for unrelenting requests for medicines at inappropriate times. We try to limit over the counter drugs to a minimum; high fevers, congestion interfering with sleep, that sort of thing. For vague complaints of "my tummy isn't feeling well," there really isn't anything we can do. Of course M&M don't believe us and keep asking for something.

Enter Jonathan's stroke of genius.

"Here Matthew, try some placebo." He put a drop of dilute menthyl based rub on Matthew's stomach and magically it worked!

Placebo, the wonder drug of the ages!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Matthew's Birth

Seven years ago we welcomed Matthew into our family. On that day a mother and father were born too and we became a family of three. Matthew sometimes asks about his birthday, and I tell him a silly, happy story as I tuck him in at night.
Before you were born you were nestled inside my warm belly. You were happy in there and not in a hurry to come out. You loved to kick and stretch. We were so excited to meet you, but waited patiently for you to pick your very own birthday.

Daddy and I went on a long walk one night, and we talked about you. We thought maybe if we went on a walk, you might want to come out and take a walk with us. We went to bed and a few hours later I sat up in bed and said, "Oh, oh, oh the baby is coming!" Daddy and I waited a few hours and decided to go to the hospital. [Matthew interjects: I was born in a hospital? How come? "Well, we thought that was best then."] So we went to the hospital but the nurses said, "Not yet!" We were a little sad because we wanted to meet you, but still excited because we knew you were coming.

We went home and waited a day and I said, "Oh, oh, oh! The baby is surely coming now." [Matthew giggles] So daddy and I drove back to the hospital. The nurses said, "Not yet!" We were very sad and went home.

Another day passed and I was getting very tired and really, really ready to meet you. Finally I said, "Oh, oh, oh! The baby MUST be coming!" [Matthew giggles some more] We went to the hospital for the third time. This time the nurses said, "Yes! The baby is coming!" And you did!

When I first saw you I exclaimed, "My baby, my baby!" Daddy said, "I think he looks like a Matthew." So we named you Matthew and we were so happy you were in our family. [Matthew snuggles up next to me. "And I was the first kid in the family, huh? I like being in this family.]
That is the Matthew version of his birth. I realized I've never written about his birth like I have the other two. His was a difficult birth. Worth it? A thousand times yes, but still very difficult.

Matthew's birth, grownup version

I'd had a very healthy and active pregnancy. The due date was looming in a few days, so after a good walk we went to bed to get plenty of rest. A few hours later I was woken up by some powerful contractions which seemed to originate from my back. It was about 1 AM on Monday morning. I tried to go back to sleep several times, but when that failed I timed them. They were five minutes apart and lasting a good minute. Hmm. This might be it. After several hours of very uncomfortable back labor which ached even between contractions, we called a close friend and went to the hospital. We had to stop and wait a few times on the way in because the contractions took all my focus. Still we were excited.

When we arrived about 4 AM, we were met by a very stern, grumpy nurse. We put our bags and pillows in a corner. She handed me a gown and I changed. The nurse put a belt around my belly to measure contractions. Just as we had timed it, they were roughly five minutes apart and lasting over a minute. Without asking, the nurse announced that she was going to check for progress. I could feel another contraction coming and asked her to wait. She didn't. The pain was excruciating. Her digging fingers caused an intense burning pressure down there, which combined with the contraction was unbearable. I begged her to stop; she wouldn't and kept poking and prodding. I cried, and I do not cry easily and certainly not in front of strangers. She announced that I was only 1 cm and 70% effaced. We said we were leaving. I do not know the name of that nurse, but Jonathan dubbed her "nurse psycho-frankenstein."

We drove home a little frustrated, but ready to work with the labor and hopefully get things moving. Still the contractions came every 4 to 6 minutes and the pain in my back was quite fierce. I tried all different positions; hands and knees, leaning on the wall, lying on my side. Through it all Jonathan pushed hard on my lower back, held my hand, and encouraged me. He tried to get me to eat, but my stomach was in rebellion so I just sipped what little water I could keep down.

About 6 PM on Monday we drove back, the contraction pattern remained constant. We brought in our overnight bags and pillows thinking surely this was it. This time the midwife and midwife-in-training were there. They were both very calm and patient. The midwife-in-training asked if she could check for progress, and to let her know when was a good time to do so. I said okay and steeled myself for another excruciating experience....and found it didn't hurt. Huh!? Until psycho-frankenstein nurse, I hadn't had any cervix checks and didn't know that it wasn't supposed to hurt! That was the good part. The bad part was I was only dilated to a 1.5 and 90% effaced. After a full day of laboring, this was devastating news.

As we got ready to leave the senior midwife wanted to take my temperature again and discovered it was 100.5. At the hospital that is an automatic admission for a suspected infection. I received an IV with antibiotics and they used a straight cath to check for infection. I said I was pretty sure I didn't have one. No matter. Now I'm a big girl, but catheters hurt! Yeeowch! Later the results came back verifying no infection. Since I was running a low temperature, the baby had to be monitored constantly on that narrow, hard bed. One strap went around my belly to measure contractions, another strap to measure the baby's heart rate. The midwife encouraged me to eat and drink, but my stomach would have none of it and I threw up in a box that had Jonathan's dinner. Poor guy. The fluids from the IV must have helped, because my temperature dropped and we asked to go home. Through it all the contractions continued unrelentingly, and even between contractions my back ached. The midwife-in-training asked to do another cervix check since it'd been several hours. She said hesitatingly (perhaps trying to be generous),"Maybe a 2?" That was a fresh blow. Why wasn't anything happening despite the hard contractions? The midwife looked at me and said I really needed to get some rest. If I didn't, she didn't think I'd have the energy to push out a baby. I certainly couldn't argue with that; I was exhausted and barely holding it together. The midwife suggested a shot of morphine and explained that it may or may not stop the contractions, but either way I'd get some rest. I asked to think about it for a few minutes. After some discussion with Jonathan, I decided that the morphine might be my best option for recovering some energy and maybe getting things back on track. Jonathan was very concerned about me and was looking very tired and haggard himself. He'd had as little rest I had. I got the shot and Jonathan drove us back home. It was around midnight; I was completely demoralized and cried most of the way. Jonathan just held my hand. We were nearly 24 hours into this adventure.

Fortunately the morphine kicked in once we got home, and I drifted off to sleep still feeling contractions, but not much caring anymore. The pain was blissfully deadened. After about 5 hours I woke up still feeling contractions. It was Tuesday, early in the morning. I waited through a few of them but when they became too uncomfortable to lay on my side I rolled out of bed and landed on my hands and knees. Unfortunately in the process I woke up Jonathan. I told him I was fine, go back to sleep. But Jonathan is very loyal and insisted being up to help. He pushed on my back for hours upon hours. That day I found urinating very difficult and painful. There was a bit of blood mixed in, so I think the catheter used the night before must have bruised or scraped something. One more unpleasantness in a very tough labor. I leaned on the wall in the shower with hot water running down my back to ease some of the backache. It helped marginally. Jonathan tried to get me to eat and even went to the store and brought back powered protein which he mixed in a drink. It came back up as did the partial banana. Small sips of juice and water were about all I could manage. I began to think that this baby would never come and I'd slowly burnout completely. It was very taxing physically and mentally. Through it all Jonathan was there, strong, kind, and solicitous. About 4 PM Tuesday while sitting in a straight backed chair with a hot rice sock pressed firmly on my lower back I felt three powerful contractions right on top of each other with no rest. It felt like one continuous contraction with three peaks. At the same time I could feel the baby move suddenly and shift inside. Then labor resumed its former pattern. We left for the hospital once again.

Feeling very uncertain and a little hopeless, I suggested we leave everything in the car. A different midwife was on duty and she checked. 4 centimeters! Hallelujah! Some progress was being made, if slowly. Jonathan went to the car to retrieve our things. We called a friend, Jessica, and said this time for sure! She'd had given birth just three months before and brought her baby with her. Little Jacqueline nursed and then slept through nearly the entire labor. We were officially admitted around 6 PM and first thing I did was hop into the tub. The warm water helped take the edge off of the contractions, but did not take away the backache. Still it was somewhat better. Since I was going natural, I didn't have an IV or constant straps around my middle. Not being tethered to anything, I kept changing positions to find relief. The midwife just checked with her doppler periodically. I labored on the birth ball, in the tub, in the shower, and on the bed. I think the nurse was newer because she was quite the Nervous Nelly. The midwife seemed to think things were fine though, and mostly stayed in the background. Jessica and Jonathan took turns pressing HARD on my back during contractions. They really couldn't press too hard as far as I was concerned. My back was bruised the next day, but at the time it helped considerably.

While lying on my side feeling intense pressure, I heard a pop and felt liquid trickle. "Oh? My water broke!" The midwife seemed a bit skeptical but asked to check. Not only did the membranes break, but now I was at an 8! That cheered me up considerably for about 3 contractions, but then they got even closer and more intense. I got on the birth ball hoping to speed things up because I was getting very, very tired. I started to moan that there was no way I could do this any longer. Between contractions I rested my head on Jonathan's lap as he was seated in front of me. Upon hearing my complaints, Jessica chirped "Oh! You must be in transition! The baby is coming soon!" I was feeling very grumpy and had a hard time sharing her enthusiasm or optimism. Soon though I felt the urge to push. The midwife wanted to check, so I got off of the birth ball and gingerly climbed into bed. 9.5 centimeters with a lip! She explained that just a bit of cervix was left and that she could push against it during a contraction to move it past the baby's head. "It will hurt, but if it works it'll speed things up." Fine. She had me get on my hands and knees and when a contraction hit she urged me to push while she pushed against the lip. I pushed and yelled. Didn't work the first time so we tried again. "Push!" I pushed and yelled even louder as she pushed. 10 centimeters!

Since I was already on the bed it didn't occur to me to push anywhere else. (My other two children were not born anywhere near a bed!) The nurse instructed Jonathan to hold one leg, Jessica the other and I started pushing while propped up in a semi-sitting position. The nurse said, you're going to have your baby today! It was a half hour before midnight so I was encouraged. Then the minute hand slowly moved past midnight and I started tiring again. Two days without eating and little rest was really taking a toll. The nurse coached on when to push, but after a while I just ignored her and pushed when I could muster up a good one. Really, she didn't need to coach, the urge was irresistible and hurt more not to push. After a bit the nurse gave up and became silent. Overall, I found pushing less painful than the earlier labor, but much more tiring. It didn't help that my body was running out of steam. Finally a bit of head was visible and I could see his head move down and then retreat. It was 2 steps forward 1 step back. Then the head crowned and the midwife warned not to push once the baby's head was out. I couldn't believe we were that close... The next contraction I gave it all I had. First thing I saw was his sweet little face instead of the back of his head. Wasn't expecting that, but in retrospect it explains a lot.

Immediately the rest of him flew out without any effort on my part. A boy! I cried out, "My baby! My baby!" and reached for him. The midwife wrapped him in a blanket and handed him to me. The time was 1:34 AM on Wednesday, October 9th. 48 hours later and he was finally cradled my arms.

He looked up at me and it was love. I felt an overwhelming sense of awe, fierce protectiveness, pure joy, and responsibility.

He came out pink, alert and quietly gazing at us. That was lovely.

You can sort of see in this picture the swollen lump at the brow of his head. My theory is that he was presenting his brow until I felt the sudden shift Tuesday afternoon. I think at that point he moved his head enough so that he could be born. He came into the world ROP, face up and gazing at the stars.

Happy Birthday Matthew! It was a wild ride, but oh so worth it to be your mother!