Thursday, October 31, 2013
Monday, October 28, 2013
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Because of an odd sequence of events, the sort of which happens regularly in Krinkeland, or, I might guess, in any home with four children, I did end up being at school for the music portion of the day. Here are my favorite memories, relayed to me before, during and after Grandparents' Day:
One day prior to the big event, Grandma visited her chiropractor, who is also a friend and a school parent. He told her he had seen the final rehearsal for the program and he was very impressed by the quality of Amanda's singing solo. "Amanda, Dr. Warren told me you did a great job on your solo-- I can't wait to hear it!" she said. Amanda, looking confused, replied, "Grandma, I don't have a solo in the program." "Oh, sure you do," Grandma encouraged, "Dr. Warren heard you, loud and clear." Amanda reiterated, "Grandma, I do not have a solo in the concert. What Dr. Warren heard was supposed to be the whole middle school singing-- I'm just the only one who came in."
At the actual concert, Madeline and I were standing back. As the whole middle school filed on stage, with our big girl in the center of the front row, Maddy hissed, "What are all those big kids doing on stage with Amanda?" (My sentiments, exactly, by the way.)
When the middle school started to sing "La Bamba," Maddy exclaimed, "Hey, I remember this from 'The Little Mermaid!'"
After the kids returned home, they sat at the kitchen table relaying highlights to me.
Grandma: "During lunch, Benjamin's girlfriend stopped by to visit."
Girls: (squeals and kissing noises)
Mom: "Girlfriend?! WHO?"
Grandma: "Yes, it was Ellen. She is a nice girl, very friendly and chatty. She's really cute, too."
Ben: "I hate to tell you this-- but she really is."
Thursday, October 24, 2013
This hunting decoy washed up on the beach at my parents' house, and Madeline rescued it amd claimed it as her new pet.
We have had the "It's not a duck, it's a goose" discussion. We have also had the "If there's 'lake stuff' coming out of it please don't set it on the couch" talk. Next up was the "Do not drag the decoy across the wood floor" lecture. But, tell Madeline she cannot keep the decoy or that a plastic goose is not actually a PET?!
That's the stuff of which Krinkeland legends are made.
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Wear your most impractical coat.
If at first the dog does not get his leash entangled in the scooter, be sure to entangle the scooter in the dog's leash.
Stop for lots of hugs.
Hover over every clump of wet leaves and call, "Hello, in there!"
"Mommy, whenever we see garbage, we have to yell, 'Ahoy!'"
Upon return, visit the swing set, and "pump, pump, pump your legs and save the pushes for Lucia!"
Here is one of those disconnects I have never understood-- and the defense attorney actually makes my case. Why IS it two counts of murder if someone kills a pregnant mother... but perfectly legal, as well as socially acceptable, for a pregnant mother to have an abortion and kill her baby? Even "unlawful abortion," which is the legal claim from the story below, carries a much more lenient punishment.
Man accused of killing pregnant wife claims fetus' death was abortion
If you have trouble with the link, here is the story by Liz O'Connell for Bring Me the News:
The Apple Valley man accused of killing his wife who was 15 weeks pregnant in March is seeking a reduced charge less than a week before his trial is set to begin.
Defense attorney Marsh Hallberg claims the death of the fetus was an abortion, not a murder, and is seeking to have the murder charges related to the fetus’ death dismissed, the Pioneer Press reports.
Halberg says the law barring unlawful abortion — ending a pregnancy without consent — is the proper fit if what Roger Holland is accused of and has a less-severe punishment.
Halberg also claims that the murder charges in the death of Margorie Holland encompass the death of the unborn child because the rights of a fetus fall in with the rights of the mother, the newspaper reports.
In response, Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom says there are distinct differences in the two laws and calls Halberg’s claim “offensive and legally unsupported.”
On the morning of March 7, police found Margorie Holland at the bottom of a stairway at the couple’s Apple Valley townhome. She died an hour later at a Burnsville hospital. An autopsy revealed Margorie Holland died from injuries consistent with strangulation.
I have a friend who lost her only child when her abusive ex-husband threw her down the stairs while she was pregnant. My friend obviously lived, and escaped. So, so many years later, she somberly describes the baby's death as a different kind of escape.
Domestic violence is sickening and intolerable.
Abortion is domestic violence, too.
I am pro-life because I respect the rights of every human to be on this planet, from conception to natural death. It is not up to me to judge the so-called value of a person's life. I know life is INVALUABLE.
Monday, October 21, 2013
Five snowflakes flew yesterday, sending Krinkeland into a tizzy. Madeline shed actual tears because I had not yet dug out her snowpants. Benjamin ripped all the tags off his new snowclothes and then swish-swished around the kitchen. It seemed every pair of mittens was missing one.
My attempts to assure the children there was no need to dress for real snowfall (because there was no real snowfall) were completely ignored. Finally, I just gave up, dug out the bins of boots and scarves, and set to dressing the little ones so they could "go out and play in the snow." In the typical pattern of my life, I got the two bundled and turned them toward the door, when Ben looked out the window and saw the fair-to-middlin' flurries had come to a halt.
"Nah, I guess I'll just go play on the iPad instead," he shrugged, and left a Thinsulate wake behind him.
I HATE winter.
Friday, October 18, 2013
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
When I became pregnant with my fourth and final child-- Madeline Kate, to the lineage tracers-- it was a different kind of pregnancy from the others. The main difference was that for the early weeks and months, I was so, so sick. I had always been fortunate to have fairly symptom-free pregnancies with the other children (apart from the massive weight gain-- is that a symptom?) and I was not sure how I was going to make it through the first trimester with this one. I had a hard time lifting my head from the pillow, and, even then, only moved enough to next have trouble lifting my head from the toilet seat. This went on for a number of weeks, both before and after the double lines showed up on the stick. With a toddler, a preschooler and a first grader also in my care, it was a tough situation.
I tried to give myself pep talks: "This is what other women go through every time! Quit thinking about it and stand up! Maybe you won't get so fat this time! This is what happens when 'advanced maternal age' kicks in! Dummy!" OK, so the pep talk is not my strong suit.
Finally, when I really felt at the end of my rope, I made an appointment to see my obstetrician. I was only nine or 10 weeks along, so this was early for a first OB visit, but I planned to plead for some nausea medication, or some sedatives (for me or for the children.) After the usual lab work and a brief, dynamic-free chat, the doctor took me in for an ultrasound. As he passed the wand over my belly, he soon said, "Ah, well, I see why you have been so sick!"
He pointed over one spot on my abdomen and there on the screen I saw the blob with the flashing blob in the middle. "There's your baby-- congratulations!" the doctor proclaimed, and, in the next breath, "Now, over here..." He slid the ultrasound wand slightly and continued, "This is another egg that was fertilized, but I can see this embryo is no longer growing. Since your body doesn't know that yet, it is trying to accommodate two babies, and that is why you feel so awful."
The doctor was straightforward and, while not happy, clearly focusing on the positive in his findings. He went on to explain to me that since I was so unwell, the usual next step would be to perform a D&C; HOWEVER, since I was still pregnant with a thriving baby, that would not be possible, because, obviously, such a procedure would kill that baby. He also explained that I was at higher risk with this pregnancy because, should my body elect to miscarry this one baby in the natural way, it would take out the healthy baby with it. The plan instead was to just wait, and watch, and wait, and hope that instead of miscarrying, my body would be able to reabsorb the other embryo and my pregnancy continue "normally."
I understood everything the doctor had said, but I processed none of it. He asked if I was OK, and I shrugged and said, "I guess."
Alone, I got dressed and walked out to the car. Once in the driver's seat, I called my husband from the parking lot and told him, "Well, I found out why I've been so sick." I explained what the doctor said and waited. In a plain voice, the babies' daddy replied, "Twins. Twins would have been nice." I shrugged and agreed. My husband told me he loved me and hung up the phone to go back to work. I don't remember crying. I don't think I called anyone else.
I was so focused at that time on keeping alive the baby I had, but I also felt helpless, because there was really nothing to do but wait. I didn't tell people I was pregnant. Part of the reason was the anticipated response to the announcement of a FOURTH child. More than that, I didn't want to tell people and then have to un-tell them if I lost this baby, too.
Finally, family on both sides could stand it no longer. I mean, I looked like death, I was already fat, I was making excuses not to do things and pawning off my kids on other people. "WHEN are you going to tell us?!" my mom finally burst out when we were out to dinner one evening. "Well, it's kind of complicated..." I began. "Oh, my gosh, it's TWINS!" my mom interrupted. "Well, it was..." I welled up. Then, I composed myself and told the story. I later told it similarly to my siblings, as Todd shared the news with his parents and sister.
We got on with things. The pregnancy did continue, somewhat normally, though I did have to see high-risk specialists, get frequent ultrasounds, and have a level II ultrasound and genetic counseling. I was about six months along before we could no longer see the other baby on ultrasound.
On the day I delivered Madeline, things happened slowly and then very quickly. Hers was a somewhat complicated birth and she was in a bit of distress, though, obviously, everything turned out beautifully. There was a lot of commotion in the delivery room. At one point, my nurse leaned down and said, "Are you OK? You seem sad." I replied, "Just overwhelmed." It was simply the most honest description I had-- I was overwhelmed by what had just happened, and by who was now here, as well as by who was missing.
Life went on. Life goes on.
I never told the other children about the missing baby. I knew I would at some point, because it could someday be a matter of their own reproductive health, but they were so young, and I didn't want to scare them. Also, I didn't have to tell them. There was still a baby.
Some of my friends knew, because it came up in conversations related to their own experiences and losses. I know a LOT of women who have lost babies. One is too many, and I know many more. I am uplifted by their strength.
My husband and I did not sit around mourning the baby. There was never any time. It never seemed right.
The following year, for my birthday, Todd had designed for me a mother's ring, with dazzling gems for each of the children's birthstones. Inset in the band next to Madeline's sparkling diamond is another, smaller diamond. I cried when I saw the ring, which is quite possibly the most thoughtful (not to mention expensive) thing my husband has ever done for me. "I can't believe you included the other baby!" I said. "I wasn't even sure you remembered." Todd shot back, "Remembered?! How could I not remember? It's my child, and, besides, you talk about it all the time."
He didn't mean anything by it, but his words chastened me. I didn't want to be that woman-- the one who cried, the one who monopolized conversations, the one who sucked the joy out of the room, the one who bemoaned what wasn't instead of focusing on what was. And I did acknowledge that even though I thought I did not often speak of my miscarriage, I must have been talking about it more than I realized. I was reminded when my SIL was expecting and I suggested a name and she replied, "Yes, that's a good name, but I would never use it, because I always think of that as your baby's name."
I received this news more than five years ago. I do not walk around in a gray haze, weeping and wishing for what is not. I do think every day of my baby who is not here. I believe any woman who has ever suffered a miscarriage does.
Now, I do not-- in any way-- compare my grief to that of parents who have had children get sick or have accidents and die, those whose babies were born with genetic conditions "incompatible with life," those whose babies have been stillborn, or even those who have suffered late-term miscarriages or multiple miscarriages. Then again, I do not understand why there should be a comparison for grief at all. I love my baby the way mothers love babies.
Today is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It's part of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. It's also Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Down Syndrome Awareness Month, and a month of some other causes. Other issues get talked about more. I don't know why. This is not a secret, but, sometimes, it does get treated that way. I sometimes feel it is not something I should discuss. I don't want to make a "big deal." I can feel silly, as though my experience is so minor compared to what some other women have had to endure.
Last month, my entire extended family took part in a memorial walk in honor of my nephew Michael, who died in his mother's womb on April 9 of this year. His birthday should have been September 9. The morning of the walk, as I stood at the registration table, gave all our names and gathered all our t-shirts, a volunteer asked me, "Has anyone directed you to our baby naming table?" "No," I chirped, "but I don't need to go to the baby naming table. I'm just here for support today." I meant that. This was for my sister, for her son.
A short time later, as we all lined up at the start of the walk, my mom turned and surprised me by asking, "Did you name your baby?" I blinked behind my sunglasses and shrugged. I was walking for Michael.
In the car as we left the park later that morning, I was emotional and I let that out by unfairly jabbing at my husband. He had run the 5K instead of walking with the rest of us. "We had a nice time, a nice talk, enjoying being together," I said. "You were off all by yourself. Did you even think about why we were here?" He replied quietly, "Of course, I did, Andrea." But I couldn't let it go. "Really?! What did you think about?"
"Trust me, Andrea, I had a very thoughtful, spiritual time, running through the woods, all by myself, in this heat," Todd said. "I thought about Michael. I thought about (another friend's baby who died.) I thought about Madeline's sister."
When I say bedtime prayers with my kids, they always "God bless" Baby Michael in heaven and Auntie's other baby in heaven. I am not even sure how or why they know my sister suffered another miscarriage, 10 years ago, before they had other children. Maybe it's just the way they always heard my prayers and picked up on them. When they say that, I always silently "God bless" our baby, too.
The children will know, because there is no reason for them to not know. This is not a secret; it is part of our family history and it's part of who I am. I imagine that's why I finally share this story here. I post about so many of the other things that happen with our family; it seems a gaping hole to never have recorded this chapter. Also, miscarriage is extremely common. Maybe you've experienced one yourself. If not, you know someone who has.
It's estimated one in four women has a miscarriage, stillbirth or infant loss. 20 percent of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Death is part of life. It is sad. We do go on. The babies are never, ever, ever, ever forgotten.
If you should ever suffer such a loss, don't be afraid to tell people. Ask for prayer. Ask for help. And if someone you know and love, a sister or a friend or a fellow school mom, loses a baby, HELP HER. Show up. Support her. Listen to her. Pray for her. Let her hurt. Send her a note. Offer your services with a meal, a chore, an errand. If she wants you to leave her alone, she will tell you. If that happens, leave her alone... but always come back.
I know a family who lost their first baby to SIDS and, at their daughter's funeral, a colleague hugged the mommy and whispered in her ear, "You just go ahead and break. We will all be here to help put you back together." If you feel you need support regarding a baby loss, please contact the Missing GRACE Foundation for counseling, support services, educational resources and more.
I don't know if the baby I miscarried is a boy or a girl. I am looking forward to getting to heaven to find out. With the twin thing, I have always kind of assumed it is a girl and, obviously, Todd has, too, from his "sister" reference on the walk day. The baby's name is Margaret, and I would have called her Maisy. But, just in case, the baby's middle name in Joshua. Margaret Joshua. Everyone wins. No one wins.
Sorry, Baby, that's just the kind of nut you got for a mother.
Every night, when I tuck each child into bed and turn out the light, the last thing I say is, "Thanks for being my little girl (or boy.)" Each urchin generally chirps back, "Thanks for being my big mommy!" I am thankful. Thanks for being my baby. Mommy loves you, and Jesus does, too.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Friday, October 11, 2013
This was the unusual scene yesterday in Krinkeland:
Thursday, October 10, 2013
MOST IMPORTANT MUSICALS
Next to Normal
Jesus Christ Superstar (Todd is more of a Godspell fan)
Evita (which Todd hates, by the way)
The Sound of Music
The Music Man
Guys and Dolls
Nunsense II: The Second Coming
Bye Bye Birdie
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
A know there are a lot of really well known, beloved, sometimes controversial musicals that did not make either of my lists. Maybe I haven't seen them/don't know them, and maybe I just don't like them. This is not open for debate... make your own lists.
Even if you do not know the story of "Miss Saigon," you can probably guess that it carries with it plenty of controversy. This is not the focus of this post, so I am not going to go into it, EXCEPT to say I think the very reasons many people criticize "Miss Saigon" are exactly why the show should be produced-- and seen. The program from this Ordway production even includes "Beyond the Stage" resources for those wishing to research further this story from the Vietnam War and how some view its portrayal on stage:
"'Welcome to Dreamland;' Power, Gender, and Post-Colonial Politics in Miss Saigon" by Eleanor Ty in Essays in Theatre, November 1, 1994.
"Challenging the Asian Illusion" by Gish Jen in the New York Times, August 11, 1991
"Gripe: '"Miss Saigon" is a Celebration of Stereotypes' by Dorinne Kondo in the Los Angeles Times, February 18, 1995
Apart from the cultural/racial/historical issues, I see this show in a very different light than I did the last time I saw a major production, which was before I had children, before I was even married. Motherhood has a powerful emotional pull. Furthermore, leave it to me to cue in on a "save the babies" theme, as I was more fully drawn to the pro-life push in the plot as it relates to (please forgive the derogatory term from the musical) Bui-Doi.
My favorite song from "Miss Saigon" is the first duet between Kim and Chris "Sun and Moon." I love it so much that years and years ago, when a friend asked me and Todd to sing at her wedding, I talked her into including this song, in a Catholic church no less:
Yet, in all this, the "star" of "Miss Saigon" is The Engineer. Todd was not as enamored with the actor we saw perform last night. I have no argument against it being a dazzling and pivotal role. It's just that I must be more of a romantic. Give me the base emotions over the spectacle anytime:
OK, after saying all that, I just have to say I am very disappointed by the lack of decent clips from this show on YouTube. You are not getting the full effect. But it is an amazing musical, with amazing music, and we had an amazing night.