Unless you have a child who is "more"... more energetic, more boisterous, more emotional, more easily disrupted, etc... you cannot possibly understand the ways of parents who have such a child.

Ocean will be 2 years old in February and he is the cheese to my cracker. I love that kid with every fiber of my being. Being his mother for the last 22 months has taught me how to be creative in the way that I guide, discipline and encourage him because he is one of those "more" children... he is spirited. If you spend more than 5 minutes with my little guy you will understand what I mean; as a baby he was what Dr. Sears calls "high need". There are those who become overwhelmed at his enthusiasm (and volume) and result to calling him names or speaking poorly of him (and this from adults... shameful). They look at me as though I'm crazy for negotiating with him, and roll their eyes when I'm inflexible about his nap and bedtimes. I have felt the glares of other mothers during storytime at the library when their babies were sitting quietly, listening... and my son was shrieking with delight, racing to the front to play with the puppets that the storyteller was using. I have seen the incredulous looks as I, 9 months pregnant, chased my son through the mall just because he saw a balloon in a store and would stop at nothing to get a closer look.

I have to admit my own ignorance as well, because before Ocean came along I would see other children like him and think, "That child is out of control." or "Doesn't that parent discipline their child?" How incredibly judgmental of me. I never realized the sensitivity it takes to mother a child with such an intense experience of the world. I didn't understand how much these children need to feel independent and free to explore their environment, or how they feel as though they will burst if they have no outlet for the current of energy that is always coursing through their little bodies (as evidenced by the tiny foot that is always tapping, even when he's sitting still).

Ocean is a challenging child to parent, because I am now having to think outside the box. The parenting books, magazines and advice columns don't work for us. We have to come up with our own solutions. And often times those solutions are inconvenient, time consuming and unconventional. But I came to a weighty realization last week which has given me fresh energy: I am Ocean's mom for a reason. I have to believe part of that reason is because of my willingness to be his advocate when most of the world doesn't understand. I love the creativity it takes to be his mommy; to come up with strategies that will allow him to express himself while helping him learn that there are boundaries and consequences. And of course I have to believe I'm best suited for the job of guiding him into adulthood... a daunting but exhilarating task.

I can't wait to see the spirited adult that my "more" child will become, and while he's being shaped and molded into his own little entity I'm certain I'm in for a transformation of my own.

On this New Year's Eve, Cheers to all the mothers out there, especially the mothers of the Spirited.


iris's birth story

I was getting ready for bed at midnight on November 21 when my water broke. I woke Phil up and told him my water had broken and he started getting things together. After calling Cheryl, our midwife, contractions still hadn't begun so I lay down and listened to my birthing affirmations. Surges began at around 1:30am; I spent the time on the birth ball and walking around the house. It was amazing that with each surge I could feel the baby moving down into my pelvis, and by visualizing these movements I was able to facilitate dilation. It also became quickly apparent that the baby was in a posterior position because at about 3:00 I stopped getting a break in between surges and was feeling a constant intense pressure in my back. I had been in the shower for about an hour and by this time the surges were coming about 2-3 minutes apart. We spoke with the midwife again and headed to the hospital at about 4:00am.

By the time we arrived at the hospital the pain in my back was so intense that I was unable to stay on top of the surges. Even with 28 hours of back labor with Ocean, I was able to deal with it pretty well but this time felt much more intense, and I even cussed Phil out a little. They checked me at 4:30am and I was 4cm dilated. Phil had called Lindsay to let her know we were at the hospital and she arrived soon afterwards.

By the time Lindsay arrived I was completely out of the zone. I wasn't in control of the surges and was unable to cope with the back labor I was experiencing. But when Cheryl got there at 5:00 she checked me again and I was 8cm! Yes, that's right, I dilated 4 centimeters in 30 minutes. Cheryl took control, turned down the lights, started filling up the labor tub and put exactly the right counter-pressure on my back to get me focused again. At one point I had Cheryl, Lindsay and another nurse all massaging my back and encouraging me through each surge and the surges suddenly felt more productive and manageable again.

Once the tub was full I got in and was able to get a little bit of relief of some of the pressure, but before long I was feeling the most excruciating pain in my back. Despite my efforts to go deeper into relaxation I was unable to work through it and asked for an epidural. Cheryl wanted to check me one last time to make sure I wasn't completely open and when she did I was still at 8cm, almost 2 hours later.

At 7:00 the anesthesiologist arrived and I got what my nurse called The Perfect Epidural. My back labor was instantly gone but I could still feel the contractions and was able to move my legs and change positions. At this point it was much easier to use visualization to continue helping my body open and move the baby down.

The midwives also had a shift change at this time and so Cheryl left and Jodi arrived. The next several hours were uneventful from an outsider's perspective. Jodi checked me at 9:00am and I was almost 10cm. Then she checked again when I began feeling a slight urge to push and I still wasn't quite complete. But at about 1:00pm I felt my body bear down and she checked again… sure enough, I was fully open and the baby was ready to be born.

I pushed for about an hour and Iris was born… all 9 pounds, 10 ounces of her! Her head was also really big, which explains the intensity of the back labor that I experienced given the size and shape of my pelvis. But even with all of that baby, I birthed her easily, quickly and painlessly with no damage to my body.

And now my shameless plug for Hypnobirthing. I went into this birth with no fear and with absolute certainty of my body's ability to birth my child, and my ability to help facilitate and control what most would consider an involuntary process… no small feat after the negative associations I carried with me following Ocean's birth. I also connected so deeply with Iris during our birthing time that when I would give her an instruction she followed it ("Turn your head," or "Drop down further.") It was amazing to feel that involved, knowing she and I were working hard together to bring her into this world… I would not have been that aware of the baby's role in birth had it not been for the connection she and I forged during our relaxation sessions. And finally, the fact that a 9 pound 10 ounce baby came through my body so effortlessly… wow. You could say that her brother paved the way but he weighed two pounds less than she did and let's just say my recovery with him was much more difficult. This time my recovery has been easy and relatively painless… no meds needed. Iris has been a calm, alert and sweet baby so far and I also attribute much of that to the peaceful way in which she entered the world.

There is no greater sense of accomplishment than bringing forth life, no matter how it's done. Yes, we were made to do it… but when it actually happens we feel super-human. Or maybe we are simply experiencing the fullness of humanity as God intended, as creators made in the Creator's image.

Thank you, everyone, for your kind words of support and congratulations. We can't wait to introduce Iris to all of the people who have been anxiously awaiting her arrival.


it's a girl. =)

I will post a more detailed update later but wanted to announce the arrival of Iris McCabe this afternoon at 1:58pm after about 14 hours of labor. She is clearly the linebacker of the family, weighing in at a whopping 9 lbs, 10 oz, and 21 inches long! I didn't know I was capable of making such a big baby. But I'm sure cookies had something to do with it. =/

Anyhow, we're all doing fine and I will update more later for those who want to know all the details. =)


blah blah blah, me me me

Not-my-favorite-midwife scheduled an induction for Friday. Since both NSTs have shown baby to be healthy and thriving, I plan to reschedule for Monday if baby doesn't come by Wednesday night. As uncomfortable as I am I don't like having someone else decide when and how my baby will be born... sorry.

Today I had contractions every ten minutes from 11am-7pm. They stopped at 7, I went to sleep for a bit and woke up drenched with sweat. Gross, I know. Hoping it means hormones are getting ready for the real deal.

I've been doing okay up until today, but honestly I'm getting to the end of my emotional pregnant rope. I truly can't imagine actually having a baby at this point. I know it's impossible but I feel like I will be pregnant forever... like this baby will just always live inside of me.

At any rate, if desperation is any indication of impending labor, it should be happening any second now...


it must be comfy in there

...or my babies just like to gestate.


a (sort of long) general update

I am 9 days away from my due date and aside from the exhaustion and general aches and pains (which are to be expected) I can't really complain too much. I've been having some contractions (or "surges" as we say in Hypnobirthing language) for the last week or so and I have to say that it's fun to feel my body working to get ready for this baby to be born. I didn't really have any contractions with Ocean until labor began so I'm enjoying the sensations of preparation this time.

We took the hospital tour at St. Joe's tonight and can I just say HOLY COW... those mother/baby rooms are ridiculously tiny. There's no room for a visitor, much less a husband to stay there. And NO showers in the rooms?! Oy. We will definitely have to focus on getting me the hell out of there ASAP after giving birth.

Our house is coming along quickly (it's painted!) and we're hoping to be in by February, but it could even be sooner than that... fingers crossed!

Because our apartment lease is up shortly, and therefore to avoid renting month-to-month, we are moving in with my wonderfully generous and accommodating parents this weekend and will be there until our house is completed. I have to say I'll be glad for the assistance and the company once the baby arrives... Ocean has such a special relationship with his Mimi and Papa and it will be good for him to have in-house spoiling while I'm tending to the needs of his new little sibling.

And while we're on the subject of my little man, I've really been treasuring this time I have with him before the baby arrives. We were playing outside the other day after it had rained; Ocean was stomping, jumping and rolling in the puddles on the sidewalk and just having a great time. I was watching from a few feet away, feeling such love for him and at the same time such sadness that he will be my "one and only" for just a short time longer. By the end of our play time I was wiping away tears because he just has no idea how much his life is going to change in the next couple of weeks... and I wish I could communicate to him how special he is to me, right now, as my only child. People keep asking me if I'm worried that I won't be able to love another baby like I love Ocean, but that's not the case. I KNOW I'll love this baby as much as I love him and it makes my heart ache a little to know that I won't be feeling that love for ONLY him anymore (if that even makes sense). These are probably just crazy ramblings of a highly emotional pregnant mommy so thanks for indulging me.

Thank you for all the emails and phonecalls to check on me... if I don't get back with you right away I've been crazy trying to pack up for the move so please be patient and be assured that I am very grateful for everyone's love and care for me. =)


prayers, good vibes, whateva

You know, I would love to be the perky, happy, glowing pregnant lady... but I've come to grips with the fact that I'm just NOT. While I am fortunate that my body is (clearly) capable of baby making I simply don't enjoy being pregnant.

I'm tired, y'all, and my hips are aching. My son is sucking the little bit of energy that I have left and I'm waking up seven times every night to pee. I have fallen three times in the past two weeks and have given up trying to eat well because I just don't have time. On top of everything else, my maternity clothes no longer fit and I honestly don't care that the bottom of my belly usually hangs out of my shirt. It's actually more comfortable that way because 23.5 hours of every day I feel like I'm going to DIE from heat exhaustion and the breeze feels quite nice.

In that vein, I've decided it's in everyone's best interests that I have this baby in four weeks. I can't make it 6 weeks to my due date but by week 38 baby should be nice and baked so let's get some happy thoughts going for the last week of October. Pray, do a baby dance, whatever you got. Let's get this party started!


today's life lessons

LIFE LESSON 1: Breyers Ice Cream is pure crap. CRAP. Ben and Jerry's is significantly more expensive but there is a very good, very delicious reason for that. It has substance. It is not fluffy. It is WORTH the extra money. Just in case you ever need to make a decision.

LIFE LESSON 2: Toys do not belong in the living room and now I know why. I got off the couch to go into the kitchen, stepped on a little plastic widget and the next thing I knew I was sprawled out on the floor with bruised knees. I'm not sure of two things:

1. How in the world I didn't land on my belly. It is huge and I fell forward. Somehow I rolled slightly to my left and ended up on my side instead of on my stomach. Close call... thank you little baby Jesus.

2. How in the world Phil was able to refrain from laughing until he made sure I was okay. He said he wasn't going to laugh at his pregnant wife falling on what looked like her stomach but I don't know how he didn't think it was hilarious. I mean, after the searing pain in my hips and knees started to wear off even I was laughing through my tears. When it comes to people falling my motto is laugh first, ask questions later.


when to say when

A quick little funny:

This morning Ocean and I got home from the grocery store right at nap time. When he's tired he has a difficult time controlling his emotions, as do most toddlers. We came in the apartment but because he wanted to stay outside he decided to express his displeasure by screaming and then headbutting my legs. I bent down, looked him in the eye and said the standard, "Ocean, you do not hit mommy. If you hit again, you will get a time-out." He nodded his head and ran into the hallway, where we "do" time-outs. I walked into the hallway and he was sitting, facing the wall with his legs crossed! I sat down behind him and counted to 30 as we always do and he just sat quietly, leaning against me, truly taking a time-out. At the end of the 30 seconds he smiled, gave me a kiss and went to find his stuffed duck, completely calm and centered.

I guess even babies know when they've lost control and need a break in order to get themselves together. I could probably learn a thing or two from this kid...


michael vick and the american diet

***Warning: This is totally a soap-box rant that includes some graphic content regarding factory farms. You will want to stop reading here if you are easily offended or take things personally, because that's not my intent. For you thick-skinned brave souls.... carry on.***

A lot of people are pretty pissed at Michael Vick right now and rightfully so. I mean, the guy was involved in some really heinous acts against innocent animals and he pretty much deserves to have the book thrown at him.

While I would love to place all the blame on Mike and his cohorts I have to wonder what influence our culture had on his decision to commit such violent acts against these dogs. Every year 27 billion animals are violently slaughtered by the same- and even more inhumane- means as those pit bulls. Each day at factory farms around this country thousands of pigs, cattle, chickens and turkeys are hung, electrocuted, beaten, slashed and boiled alive before being cut up or ground up, neatly packaged and shipped to your local supermarket… but that story won't make the front page of CNN.com anytime soon. Why is it acceptable for us to torture certain animals but not others? And why do we feel justified in passing judgment on Michael Vick over our bacon breakfast, turkey sandwich lunch and steak dinner? Do dogs feel more pain than farm animals? Are they smarter? Sweeter? Cuter? Why do they get preferential treatment and protection under American laws? I'm genuinely curious.

Do I think this lets Vick off the hook? Absolutely not. Do the crime, do the time. But there are plenty of other people (corporations) that allow this atrocity to happen on a much larger scale every day and we the people support it and turn a blind eye. Why?

I don't judge anyone for how they choose to live their life. I'm not against meat-eaters, I'm against factory farming. 99% of my friends and family members are meat-eaters and it doesn't bother me one bit. What bothers me is the way that we have turned life into a commodity, and the double-standard that's been created for the animals that will never have any option for their lives other than to end up on someone's dinner plate. I fault the government for that, not the consumer. Much like the dogs in this case, who were bred solely for fighting, and were killed when they didn't live up to a certain man-imposed standard, there are billions of animals this year who will never have a purpose other than death. And that breaks my heart while infuriating me to the core.


beauty and the beach

We got home last night from a wonderful beach vacation. Ocean quickly got over his aversion to sand and had a blast digging, knocking down the sand castles we built, and watching his Papa fish in the shore break. As for me, since the physical changes of carrying a life don't always feel like the most desirable I thought I would be so self-conscious being in a swim suit while hugely pregnant but it turned out to be very much the opposite... I've actually not felt prettier while pregnant than I did in all my lycra-laden pregnant glory. There was something so natural and beautiful about being in the powerful presence of the ocean while myself being in the most organic and ethereal state of humanity. The only way I would have felt more empowered is if they made body boards with cut-outs for pregnant bellies.

Now that we're home and settled (and semi-recovered from the late flight with a very tired toddler), I have a lot of catching up to do so please be patient with me as I get back to everyone who has emailed or messaged me in the last week. I'll also be posting some beach pictures as soon as I can get them uploaded.


touchy feely

Last week someone told me that children are our greatest prayer and I think that begins during pregnancy. There's something within all of us that hopes each new person will bring something great to the world... who wouldn't want to be a part of that, if only for a fleeting moment with a gentle touch?

With that in mind, I know a lot of pregnant women despise people touching their bellies... I am not one of them. I am cynical and crabby and mostly miserable to be around these days but when someone becomes so enamored by the magical mystery of a new life hidden in the body of a woman that they can't help but to reach out and connect with that energy... how can I not receive that as a blessing? Everyone desires a connection with something greater than themselves and the essence of creation is life's most profound mystery.

So hands on my belly don't bother me. More than that, I appreciate the blessing for both me and my baby. Touch away!


my apologies

I'd like to apologize to society in general for being an obnoxious teenager once in my life. I find it difficult to believe that my friends and I were ever as silly as the three girls in Blockbuster tonight... and yet somehow I have visions of us drawing attention to ourselves in every public place that we visited. Sure, it was fun at the time... but now I understand with much greater clarity the stares and glares of, well, pretty much everyone.

Tonight, I was the mean pregnant woman in line behind them, tapping my foot and clearing my throat while the booty-shorts wearing giggle twits tried to decide whether they wanted like two bags of gummi worms or like one bag of gummi worms and one bag of Skittles. The fact that their queen bee notified me that she would only be like another 26 seconds didn't make up for the 7.5 minutes I had already sacrificed to the candy gods. The other 5 people in line behind me were even less amused... and the poor cashier. He actually mouthed "I'm sorry" to me while they were trying to figure out how much money they would save by buying the Twizzlers instead of the Skittles.

I made a well thought out and not at all rash decision during that 7.76 minutes that if and when I have daughters they will not be allowed to have friends. Problem solved.

And I really am sorry, society. Truly I am.


thursday musings

1. The most unintentionally funny commercial currently on television:
The Botox commercial where the poor lady is trying to make all of these crazy expressions to "prove" that you can raise your eyebrows once you've had Botox. The only problem is, she *can't* raise her eyebrows and only ends up looking ridiculous. Cracks me up every time.

2. Who was the drunk a-hole who pounded on our door at 4:13am this morning? It takes me long enough to fall asleep now when I haven't had the Be-Jeebus scared out of me. And additionally, I have a sleeping baby and the standing rule is "Wake Him, Take Him." Trust me, you do NOT want to be on the business end of that.

3. Ocean now repeats just about any word you ask him to. Except "Mommy." When I ask him to say Mommy he says "Up!" This may answer any questions about why my back is constantly killing me.

4. If you live in Ann Arbor and are going to cut down a tree on your property it's probably a good idea to notify the neighbors first. Otherwise they might get pissed and call the police (who can't do anything anyway because removing trees on private property is not illegal).

5. 2.5 more weeks until we go to the beach! Moms, if you travel you have to check out this site. I'm hoping it makes our stay much more enjoyable to have an actual crib for Ocean so we don't have to fight the pack-n-play battle (as in he'd rather play than sleep in that thing).


croup is the devil.

I'm very thankful for all of my babysitting and nannying experience before having children because if it weren't for caring for a croupy baby already I would have been flipping out last night.

For the last two nights my little baby boy has been up with a croupy cough, which is basically a lot of barking and wheezing sounds. Last night he didn't even fall asleep until midnight and then was up just about every hour until 7:30 this morning. It's the most terrible thing when your child is sick and crying and can't be consoled. He didn't even want his pacifier or his duckie, which is completely unheard of. I held him, I walked around with him and I tried to lay down with him but he just cried and cried and if you've ever experienced croup you know crying makes it a hundred times harder for them to breathe. So we spent much of the night last night in a steamy bathroom, or as I like to call it the Sick Baby Sauna (which sounds much more glamorous).

What is it about being awake in the middle of the night with a baby who is ill, that makes you feel as though you will never sleep again? Logically I know that he will eventually be better and we will all return to sleep-filled nights and well-rested days but in the middle of the night there's an incredible hopelessness that I'm doomed to eternally walk around like night of the living dead and things will never return to normal.

And then I start to become very fearful of adding another baby to the mix. What happens when they are both sick at the same time? How will I handle caring for two during those trying nights, but also during the days when I'm running on empty? And what if I get sick also? What then?

And then morning comes, and I drag myself out of bed to take a shower and begin my day, and all of those worries just fade into the night. I feel this gentle reminder in my spirit that there's a reason I only have one child at this moment, and that's because right now I am equipped to handle the one I have. I have to trust that by the time number two arrives, I will be prepared for two. But as for right now one is all I need to worry about.

So I could use lots of prayers that tonight will be a better night for both of us and also that God will give me what I need right when I need it so that when number two arrives I'll be prepared and won't already be flipping out about number three.


war on "drugs"

From CNN.com:
ATLANTA, Georgia (CNN) -- The prescription drugs allegedly found in Al Gore III's possession Wednesday are favorites among young people, according to drug abuse experts, who say prescription drugs may soon overtake street drugs in popularity.

Some young people perceive that prescription drugs are safer than street drugs, experts say.

"I wouldn't be surprised if right now at this point in time, there are more kids abusing prescription drugs than abusing marijuana," said Joseph A. Califano Jr., chairman and president of CASA, the National Center on Alcohol and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Gore was arrested on charges of possessing -- in addition to marijuana -- Vicodin, Xanax, Valium and Adderall...

...Another appeal to prescription drugs, besides the easy access, is that young people often perceive them as safer.

"They don't have to go to the streets and deal with some guy they don't know and get marijuana where they don't know what's in it," Califano said. "Also, they see their parents using these drugs, so they seem safe."

Jack said prescription drugs can be more challenging to treat than addiction to street drugs. "In traditional drug abuse, addicts can say, 'I've been using meth or coke or pot,' and an addiction specialist knows what to do," she said. But with prescription drugs, "sometimes the kids don't even know what they've been taking. They just pass the pills around."

Part of the solution would be for drug makers to formulate their products so they're harder to abuse, said Califano, adding that anti-drug campaigns also should focus more on prescription drug abuse.

Parents need to do their part as well, he said. "When I was a kid in Brooklyn, when parents had liquor, they locked up the liquor cabinet," he said. "Maybe parents need to lock up the medicine cabinet."

And from an article written by Erin Hildebrandt for Mothering Magazine:
(Our kids) need every shred of information we can give them, so that they do not choose to huff butane or snort heroin simply because they survived smoking the joint we told them was dangerous, and because they therefore assume we must be lying about the rest.



Ocean was up sick for 3 hours last night, which means I've been going on just a few hours sleep myself today. That, after a very long weekend with lots of activity (Including, for Phil, his first scrimmage. For me, mostly trying to keep an over zealous toddler from running onto the football field). So why is it that I cannot fall asleep tonight?? Even Steven Halpern isn't doing the trick. It's after 11 already and I have to get up at 7, which sounds really lucky but leaves less than 8 hours if I fall asleep right... NOW. Insomnia math. Boo. I think I'll have some tea and read a really boring book.


50% (but feeling twice that)

I had my 20 week midwife appointment today. I can't believe I'm at the halfway point already. This pregnancy has been flying by, which I attribute to my very busy little boy who keeps me just as busy. My iron levels are fantastic, my blood pressure is low and I've gained a total of 10 pounds which I feel okay bragging about because I had gained at least twice that at this point during my last pregnancy.

We finished Hypnobirthing last week and I'm totally excited about giving birth this time. I'm realizing that if you tell yourself something often enough, you begin to believe it... true or false, good or bad. So I've been working through my first birth, reshaping that experience, and also choosing the kind of birth I want to have this time around. I am extremely relaxed and confident that this birth will go smoothly and be exactly what I'm envisioning.

Hypnobirthing classes ended, but yoga began. Our church is having yoga on Monday nights and I had the best time this week. What an awesome way to connect to your body and learn how to release... I see this being very helpful for birth also.

So all of this is to say that I'm feeling fantastic and despite the occasional unfounded emotional outburst I am really pleased with my pregnancy experience thus far. Yay, baby. =)


what the crap was that?

Phil and I ate some carrots last night before going to bed. Went to sleep feeling fine. Woke up out of a dead sleep feeling like something wasn't quite right... broke out into a cold sweat and thought, "uh-oh". High-tailed it to the bathroom where I promptly threw up, then spent the next few hours there doing the same. Eventually fell back asleep. Woke up this morning feeling tired, but better. Phil was fine, but as for me... I'll probably never eat carrots again.


ungrateful little rodent.

If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk.
When you give him the milk, he'll probably ask for a straw.
When he's finished, he'll ask for a napkin.
Then he will want to look in a mirror to make sure he doesn't have a milk mustache.
When he looks into the mirror, he might notice that his hair needs a trim. So he will probably ask for a pair of scissors.
When he's finished giving himself a trim, he'll want a broom to sweep up. He'll start sweeping. He might get carried away and sweep every room in the house. He may even end up washing the floors as well!
When he's done, he'll probably want to take a nap. You will have to fix a little box for him with a blanket and a pillow. He'll crawl in, make himself comfortable and fluff the pillow a few times.
He'll probably ask you to read him a story. So you'll read him one from one of your books, and he'll ask to see the pictures. When he looks at the pictures, he'll get so excited he'll want to draw one of his own. He'll ask for paper and crayons.
He'll draw a picture. When the picture is finished, he'll want to sign his name with a pen.
Then he'll want to hang his picture on your refrigerator. Which means he will need…scotch tape.
He'll hang up his drawing and stand back to look at it. Looking at the refrigerator will remind him that he's thirsty so…he'll ask for a glass of milk.
And chances are if he asks for a glass of milk, he's going to want a cookie to go with it.

(And the moral of the story is, if someone is a pain in the ass at the beginning, they will be a pain in the ass until the end. And also, don't offer to help people when money is involved.)




*Phil has our house plans in hand and we're getting ready to submit them to the city for approval. I hope we're in our new house before Pea Buddy arrives.

*We went to the Nat yesterday so Phil could work out and Ocean could get out of the house for a bit. When we got there one of the guy swimmers was working out with no shirt on. After intense scrutiny, Ocean started pulling his shirt up and patting his tummy. He kept it up for about 10 minutes before I asked him if he wanted to take his shirt off. He nodded emphatically so I took it off... and he stuck his little chest out and strutted his stuff for the rest of the afternoon.

*Did anyone else see Miss USA fall on her ass last night during the Miss Universe pageant?! Wow... I kinda felt bad for her but I laughed so hard for about an hour after it happened. A quote from The Superficial: "She slipped and fell during the evening gown portion and, well, that's kind of a big deal when you're in a competition where the only judging criteria are how you look in a bikini and your ability to walk."

*I left my pillow at the hotel when we were in Charlotte and ever since then Phil has been funny pillow guy. Our first night back he put a tiny little throw pillow in my spot just to mock me. I bought a new pillow the next day. Last night our dryer broke (again) and our pillow cases were all soaking wet... except for one. Which I of course kept for myself and made Phil take the uncomfortable spare pillow. While I was brushing my teeth he took my pillow and replaced it with Ocean's plastic ball. I'm glad pregnant women get lots of respect in this house.

*Ocean has started signing "More". We went to the pool today and he finally got up enough courage to let me hold his hands and dunk his toes in the water. I put him back on the pool deck and he immediately signed "More". So cute. =)

*I'm still trying to decide where to have this baby. If anyone has positive things to say about either U of M or St. Joe's feel free to pass it along.

*I ate half a dozen chocolate chip cookies yesterday. It was worth the extra 5 pounds I'll have to lose after I have the baby.


with woman

With Woman

From "Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method":
"In other parts of the world- Spain, France, the British Isles and Old Europe- the lives of the people centered on nature and motherhood. They honored Mother Nature, Mother Earth and Mother Creator. Women were revered as the givers of life.

With no awareness of the link between intercourse and the conception of a child, it was believed that women brought forth children at will. As creators, they were thought to be connected to deity. Statues of the goddesses of these early people were of full breasted women with bodies clearly depicting the ballooning abdomen of women about to give birth. These primal people regarded birthing as the highest manifestation of nature...

Women were nurturers and healers, developing, brewing and administering medicine. All healing came by the hands and healing spirit of women. They collaborated and exchanged learning, overseen by the 'wise women' of the village."

And later, in the same book:
"In Germany [in the early 16th century]... Martin Luther wrote, 'If women become tired [in childbirth], or even die, it does not matter. Let them die in childbirth. That's what they are there for."

I have been reflecting upon this for a couple of days now, and I'm just wondering how we got from the place where women were honored and revered to the place where we were regarded as disposable baby-makers, to where we are now... still working through the misogyny that started creeping into the human race during the second century. And not just in childbirth... this climate of woman-hating permeates through our entire culture.

Damn, you guys, I'm pissed. I better go to bed before I end up writing a book, or before my head explodes.


i may be blogging a lot today

I just stole this off of my sister's friend's blog. It's so full of truth and wisdom that I'm actually speechless. I'll just let you marinate in it...

"Jesus never talked to a prostitute...because he never saw a prostitute. He saw a woman." -Unknown


building go carts with my ex-landlord

If our paths have ever crossed, chances are good that you've made a cameo in one of my dreams over the last few weeks. I cannot begin to describe the randomness and intensity of some of these dreams. I'm assuming it has something to do with pregnancy hormones, though I don't remember experiencing any dreams like these while pregnant with Ocean (DMT experts, I'm sure you have a lot to say).

So if we've met in real life, we've probably also met between the hours of 11pm and 7am, trying to solve the murder of the famous white rapper "Tooth" in New Orleans... being taught by Martha Stewart the most efficient way to slice onions using nothing but our bare hands... receiving medals of honor for fixing spaceships which will be used to eventually save the planet... babysitting a brood of chicks while their mother, a Pomeranian, interviews for jobs...

In the words of Mitch Hedberg, "If I'm sleeping, I just want to SLEEP. I want to dream about watching myself sleep." I'm tired of waking up exhausted because I've been running around Pittsburgh all night searching desperately for a restaurant that serves veggie burgers and Soy Delicious.


the 9th beatitude

"Blessed is the man who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed."

I live my life one day at a time and happily accept surprises and uninvited treasures that come my way. Rarely do I expect much from other people; a little common courtesy and politeness is usually more than enough to satisfy me. But there are days and moments when I am blindsided by personal disappointment brought on by an unmet expectation that I didn't realize I had. How do I respond? My natural, carnal instinct is to tell myself that it doesn't matter and to deny my true hurt over the situation. But inevitably this leads to resentment and bitterness which is just too heavy a load for me to carry.

Sometimes I wish I could go through life, truly never expecting anything from anyone, being thankful for the things I do have. But as Dame Edith Evans said, "I can't imagine going on when there are no more expectations." Keeping the bar so low for people scares me... I want to have faith in the human race, believing that we really do want to make others' lives a little brighter.

I guess the only answer is to be the kind of spouse, friend and family member that I wish to have. "A man who becomes conscious of the responsibility he bears toward a human being who affectionately waits for him, or to an unfinished work, will never be able to throw away his life. He knows the 'why' for his existence, and will be able to bear almost any 'how'." -Victor Frankl


one is silver and the other gold

We just got back to Ann Arbor and we had such a nice time visiting our friends in Charlotte. I wish I could convince a few of them to move up this way (and you know who you are). Unfortunately Maggie still hasn't made her debut and Jess is handling it like a champ as she is well past her due date, so we're hoping to hear good news soon.

To those of you on MySpace...

Lisa, thanks again for venturing out to the mall with us. It was awesome seeing your little guys; Ocean just loves them! You're an incredible mom and I aspire to be as patient with my kids as you are with yours. One day...

Becca, you look fantastic and I'm so happy I got to see you. Life just isn't the same without you here. Take the hint.

Rachel, Lucas is such a doll and you're doing an incredible job. Wow... he's so lucky to have you for a mommy!

Lesli, I appreciated our time together this week. I miss our walks and talks! I love how motivated you are. Oh, and Kyla is just the most darling little girl. I adore both of you!

Mike, I wish we had more time to hang out but I'm sure we'll see more of each other in June. It was sweet how Ocean really took to you; you'll have to come up to visit this summer.

Courtney, I'm sorry Ethan was sick and I missed seeing you. =(

Daniel... I'm sad I didn't get to see you AT ALL. =( But it won't be long until we're back down again and I'm pretty sure I'll be seeing you next time... ;)

Miss you guys already!


could it be...?

I'm already feeling the baby move! It started last week and is a lot different than with Ocean. With O, the first movement I felt was the fetal equivalent of a karate chop to the pelvis, whereas this one is doing some spinny, fluttery action. I really wasn't expecting to feel anything for another week or two so this has been a very cool turn of events.


where i stand

As I browse through other people's MySpace profiles and I see their religious affiliations and spiritual leanings I sometimes feel a pang of guilt for not being such a gung-ho Christian as to wear MyFaith on MySleeve, or at least making my devotion to Jesus more obvious on my public profile.

Over the last few years I have undergone a radical spiritual transformation with regard to the way I see God, humanity, the world and myself. Admittedly I have become a bit of a cynic and skeptic when it comes to matters of faith in the traditional, religious sense and I find it difficult to authentically express what's in my heart without appearing as though I carry what I abhor in all circles: Judgment and hypocrisy. Let me do my best to describe my journey for those of you who may be interested in catching a glimpse of the path I'm on, or for those of you who have put me on the Prayer List.

I grew up calling myself a Christian. I tried to make the right decisions and do the right things because I was taught that's what The Bible says, and what God expects. There were standards to uphold and I made every attempt to meet them. Late into my teen years, I grew tired of trying so hard to measure up to this impossibly high marking stick; thus beginning my rebellion away from God and the church. This lasted for a few years, and I must pause here and say that I am terribly sorry to anyone whom I hurt during this time in my life. In the search for happiness I became selfish and embittered and had little regard for anyone else. For that I am deeply sorry.

Several years later I became involved with an incredible group of people who called themselves Christians but were nothing like the Christians I had known, or had been trying to be. They were loving, forgiving, selfless and kind. They welcomed me into their fold with open arms and genuinely loved me, despite my arrogance and insecurity. It took a while but I began to come around towards God again, seeing a new picture of this Creator who didn't want anything from me… he just wanted me.

Flash forward a few more years. Phil and I are married, I am pregnant with Ocean and we go to a festival called Breathe at the Columbus Ohio Vineyard. Jay Pathak, a pastor in Arvada Colorado, is talking about the difference between Christians vs. Followers of Jesus and something about this just resonated and took root within me. I realized that I had been fighting a culture war as a Christian, still holding people to the same standards that had kept me imprisoned for so many years. I used religion as an excuse for judgment, hate, hypocrisy and arrogance. That weekend, something broke inside of me and I realized what an ass I had been. In an instant I stopped giving a rip about "religious political issues"; what's being taught in science class, who people sleep with and when, what our money says, what people do with or to their bodies; the list goes on and on. In less than 30 seconds my personal motto went from "Thou Shalt Not" to "Live and Let Live… and just love."

I left cultural Christianity behind that weekend, and have since identified myself as a student of Jesus. I love him, I learn from him and I spend time talking to him. I'm convinced that none of us are "In" or "Out"; we are all on our own spiritual journeys and are searching for ultimate truth and meaning in our painful, screwed-up lives. I love all people now, regardless of who they are or how they live. Jesus hung out with everyone and the only people he got pissed at were the religious people who were forcing man-imposed regulations on the people around them and ultimately taking advantage of the social, spiritual and political underdogs of the day. So I guess that's where I've been for the last few years. I struggle with judging cultural Christians who would rather point their pious fingers at what they deem to be sinful rather than reaching out towards the hurting people in this world… there are so many. But it's a lot easier to point at someone else than to look inside and see your own ugly blemishes… which is my own admission as I grapple with my judgment toward western Christians.

So you may have been thinking that I've lost my salvation or that I'm backsliding, or whatever other buzzwords the western church uses to pigeonhole those of us who are looking for deeper meaning from a God who is the power of Love, Hope and Mercy personified, and whose depth is infinite. But the truth is that I would prefer to be on the Prayer List, because I need all the help I can get in continuing to struggle through this tension of the mundane and the supernaturally joyous existence of which we are all a part.

And that is where I currently stand.


lucky number 13

Today is the first day in weeks that I haven't felt sick. =)

So I ate... and ate... and ate. Coffee cake for breakfast, huevos rancheros for lunch, veggie tacos for dinner, and lots and lots of snacks! I can say the word "tofu" now without gagging and I was actually able to get a lot done around the house thanks to an increase in my energy level.

Apparently 13 weeks is the magic number for this pregnancy. Let's hear it for the second trimester! Wahoo!


i'm famished

I am hungry like 24 hours a day but nothing sounds good. The last couple of weeks I've been surviving on the following:

Mashed potatoes
Oatmeal Crisp cereal
Apples & Applesauce
Pineapple Orange juice

It's not that I'm craving any of these foods, it's just that the thought of them doesn't make me gag. If anyone has any other ideas, I'm open to suggestions. And if anybody is so inclined at this very moment to bring me a raspberry coffee cake I'll be your best friend forever and ever. =)


in a heartbeat

We had our first prenatal appointment today with our midwife and we heard the baby's heartbeat. It was 160... totally strong and on the high end of normal, just like Ocean's was. I think we may be in for it.

It's one thing to see a little pink line on a home pregnancy test; it's an entirely different experience to hear the "Whoomp-whoomp, whoomp-whoomp" of your unborn child's heart. There's actually a little growing person in there, swimming, flipping and twisting (at least that's what mine was doing, because the heartbeat kept moving around and we could hear sloshing with every turn). It all became so much more real today. And the experience was extra special this time around because Ocean wanted to sit on my tummy while we listened to the heartbeat. I know I'm emotional anyway but that just about sent me over the edge.

What a neat day. =)


two under two

Cat's out of the bag... I'm just over 11 weeks pregnant with baby number two. The due date is November 11, which (based on my track record) means you shouldn't expect the arrival any time before Thanksgiving.

We aren't sure if we will find out the sex, and we already have names but we aren't telling. It makes things more interesting that way. ;)

We will attempt a natural birth with this one as well, and we'll start Hypnobirthing classes soon.

The morning sickness is gone, except for an episode last week when Ocean decided to do a stinky while he was in the bath. He pooped and I started throwing up... we were quite a sight. Aside from that, I am feeling great overall, but for those of you who knew me when I was pregnant with Ocean... Pregnant Cassie is back in full force. I tend to isolate myself and not return phonecalls which is weird I know... it's like post partum but during partum. Anyway, please bear with me and don't take it personally if I get flaky. I'll be back to normal by Christmas.

Thanks, everyone, for the congratulatory notes. We'll keep you all posted!


home alone

My boys just took off for Midland for the bulk of the weekend. Ocean is riding in Daddy's car for the first time! We got him all settled and I leaned into the back seat and asked him for a kiss... he puckered up and planted one on my lips! This is the first time he hasn't open-mouth kissed me, or tried to rip my lips off when I lean in. What a little darling.

So I already cleaned the kitchen and folded two loads of laundry. I'm on my way to see Blades of Glory shortly (yes, alone... going to the movies by myself is one of my favorite extra-curricular activites) and plan to watch The Notebook two hundred times in a row tonight. Well, maybe not that many. But I'm looking forward to the down time and appreciate my husband giving me the weekend off so I can, in the words of Bob Marley, "Simmer Down".

I hope everyone has a great weekend!


a little devastated

What the crap happened to Sweet Tarts?! It's probably been 5 years since I've eaten them but I've been having a rough week and wanted some sugar to artificially boost my down in the dumpiness. So I bought a box yesterday and I was expecting to sink my tastebuds into that sweet, tart goodness. Instead I was met with disappointment. The purple now taste like crap, the red taste like barf, and don't even get me started on orange. At some point along the line they added blue, which sounds gross but by default has become my new favorite because it just tastes like cardboard with a hint of Hawaiian Punch. I can't believe I wasted 99 cents on this box of garbage. And yet, as I sit here writing, I have eaten about ten more of the little turds.

Why must things change when they were fine in the first place? Hey Sweet Tarts: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. And I plan to call 1-800-358-1971 between 8am and 8pm M-F EST to let you know just that.


the mad tax dash

The dreaded taxes are finally done. I'm not sure why I wait so long to start them when we have all the documents we need by like February. They all sat in a neat-ish little pile in the office until roughly one day last week when I decided I better get my butt in gear and start Turbo Taxing it up. I hit a snafu when it came time to enter information for our stocks but it was quickly resolved with a frustrated call to Phil, who got it straightened out in no time.

I guess I just needed to vent the last few days to anyone and everyone who is going through the same stress I've been under with regard to taxes. I always feel a huge sense of relief once they are finished but it's inevitable... this time next year I'll be doing the mad tax dash once again.

Happy Filing!


the land of laundry and half-eaten snacks

Have you ever seen Take-Home Chef on TLC? I caught it the other day and was thinking that it would be really cool except for one tiny detail... I could never, ever just bring someone into my house with no warning. I'd be calling everyone I knew with a key to go clean my house, or at least throw everything in a back bedroom, before the camera crew showed up. The few times I've seen this show the person's house is immaculate... am I the only one who lives in chaos 99% of the time?!

I propose a new show called "Take-Home Housecleaner". I would totally jump on that.


identity crisis

A recap of The Birthday Song as sung to me by my husband, father and mother (as my son looked on):

"Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear MOMMY
Happy Birthday to you."

Let's review:
I am not my husband's mommy.
I am not my father's mommy.
I m not my mother's mommy.
I *am* my son's mommy... but he wasn't singing.

I am truly amazed by how much people's perception of who you are changes after having a child! I guess I'd rather have everyone in my life calling me mommy instead of Ocean calling me Cassie.


for a good time, call...

My friend Erin just gave me the best haircut I've had in over a year, easily. If you need a cut, color, or any hair-related service, please call her at the LifeSpa in Novi (located in Lifetime Fitness off Haggerty). The number there is (248)735-5389. She's talented, she's quick and she's easy on the eyes.

By the way, she did not ask me to do this; I just enjoy passing along good information. =)


london bridge is...

This might be the funniest thing I've seen since the combined pinata busting/Josh Fox ass-whooping at our great Cinco de Mayo Party of 2005. Check it.



My nose ring is tiny. Really, really small. Compared to the rest of my body it's practically microscopic. So why is it that with one quick swipe of the hand during a wrestling match gone terribly wrong, Ocean has the ability to catch the side of my nose ring and rip it halfway out, leaving me to grab my nose and run to the mirror crying, "AIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!"

I got it back in with a little elbow grease and a few sniffles but it's still sore. No more wrestling Captain Destructo without first placing a band-aid over my nose.


the life of a city

What is it that draws us to one place or another? Many of us dream of relocating to a warmer or cooler climate. Still others move in order to be near to family or friends. Probably the vast majority of Americans simply go where their jobs take them.

If you're fortunate, you will find wonderful new friends in the place that you decide to take up residence. You will undoubtedly find a favorite new grocery store, a comfy little neighborhood coffee shop, a gem of a dinner restaurant. Your place of worship will be full of loving, supportive people. You will get into a new groove and start to recreate your life in this brand new locale.

But what about the spirit of the city? How does one find that? How can you find the undercurrent that drives a town; that fuels the people; that pulsates within the core of the community?

As I was out and about in Ann Arbor today I felt myself become swept into the current of this city. I spotted a woman riding a bicycle through the snow flurries; she was probably nearing 60 years old, with long gray hair, bundled up in a long wool coat with a messenger bag on her shoulder. A few miles down the road I passed the Re-Use center, and the parking lot was packed. Later, I drove by a house on campus with a giant paper mache football helmet on the front lawn. On my fourth trip around the parking lot of Whole Foods looking for a parking spot I saw a mother with her very young daughter coming out of Borders with bags and bags of books. Tonight at the Michigan/OSU basketball game the coliseum was alive with excitement, and the energy was tangible. Even in the trademark gray sky there was a certain charming quality, as if the predictability of the weather should be something that we appreciate about this place in such uncertain times.

Just as effortlessly as I left this city almost three years ago, today- just as seamlessly- I felt myself pulled right back in. And I couldn't be more jazzed to be back.


first year

One year ago, right now, I was giving birth to my baby. I can't believe how quickly this year has flown by. I remember all too well those first few weeks, adjusting to this new little person who burst into our lives with the gusto of crashing Ocean waves. I recall the struggles of breastfeeding, the frustrating sleep issues, the raging post-partum hormones. It was hard.

But I also remember the first time I saw that little face, all pink and wrinkled, mouth wide open and screaming mad. After 42 weeks of pregnancy and 28 hours of labor, he still wasn't ready to come out. Looking at that little person was the most surreal experience of my life. He is the best of Phil and the best of me all wrapped up in this little tiny package. I didnt sleep for two days. I just wanted to stare at my little Ocean, touch him, kiss him. He was so perfect.

I recall the first time I felt that my heart would break from the amount of love that I felt for my son. He was about a week old, and it was 3:00 in the morning. He woke up to eat and I was rocking him back to sleep, singing "You Are My Sunshine". I got to the line, "You'll never know dear, how much I love you," and I realized how true that was. My eyes filled with tears at the notion that I was completely and utterly ruined. I wasn't prepared for the depth of emotion I would feel for this person who never existed before, and who I love simply because he's alive. I still feel overwhelmed by my love for him and my instinct to protect him, no matter the cost.

Now that he's sleeping through the night (finally... hooray!), he has eight teeth, he's through the separation anxiety stage and he's become a walking fool, my life has gotten exponentially easier. Every day I love Ocean more and every stage he goes through is my favorite. But there are those moments and days (like today) when I remember that newborn baby smell, and picture his skinny little arms, and think about how tiny and dependent and helpless my little boy once was and I become wistful. I wouldn't go back, because I love watching Ocean grow and change and become more and more independent (that's the goal, right?) but I will always cherish those special moments with my firstborn. After all, he taught me how to be a mother.

I love you so much today and always, my sweet Ocean Philip. Happy Birthday little man.



Humans' beef with livestock: a warmer planet
American meat eaters are responsible for 1.5 more tons of carbon dioxide per person than vegetarians every year.

By Brad Knickerbocker, staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

As Congress begins to tackle the causes and cures of global warming, the action focuses on gas-guzzling vehicles and coal-fired power plants, not on lowly bovines.

Yet livestock are a major emitter of greenhouse gases that cause climate change. And as meat becomes a growing mainstay of human diet around the world, changing what we eat may prove as hard as changing what we drive.

It's not just the well-known and frequently joked-about flatulence and manure of grass-chewing cattle that's the problem, according to a recent report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Land-use changes, especially deforestation to expand pastures and to create arable land for feed crops, is a big part. So is the use of energy to produce fertilizers, to run the slaughterhouses and meat-processing plants, and to pump water.

"Livestock are one of the most significant contributors to today's most serious environmental problems," Henning Steinfeld, senior author of the report, said when the FAO findings were released in November.

Livestock are responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse-gas emissions as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent, reports the FAO. This includes 9 percent of all CO2 emissions, 37 percent of methane, and 65 percent of nitrous oxide. Altogether, that's more than the emissions caused by transportation.

The latter two gases are particularly troubling - even though they represent far smaller concentrations in atmosphere than CO2, which remains the main global warming culprit. But methane has 23 times the global warming potential (GWP) of CO2 and nitrous oxide has 296 times the warming potential of carbon dioxide.

Methane could become a greater problem if the permafrost in northern latitudes thaws with increasing temperatures, releasing the gas now trapped below decaying vegetation. What's more certain is that emissions of these gases can spike as humans consume more livestock products.

As prosperity increased around the world in recent decades, the number of people eating meat (and the amount one eats every year) has risen steadily. Between 1970 and 2002, annual per capita meat consumption in developing countries rose from 11 kilograms (24 lbs.) to 29 kilograms (64 lbs.), according to the FAO. (In developed countries, the comparable figures were 65 kilos and 80 kilos.) As population increased, total meat consumption in the developing world grew nearly five-fold over that period.

Beyond that, annual global meat production is projected to more than double from 229 million tons at the beginning of the decade to 465 million tons in 2050. This makes livestock the fastest growing sector of global agriculture.

Animal-rights activists and those advocating vegetarianism have been quick to pick up on the implications of the FAO report.

"Arguably the best way to reduce global warming in our lifetimes is to reduce or eliminate our consumption of animal products," writes Noam Mohr in a report for EarthSave International.

Changing one's diet can lower greenhouse gas emissions quicker than shifts away from fossil fuel burning technologies, Mr. Mohr writes, because the turnover rate for farm animals is shorter than that for cars and power plants.

"Even if cheap, zero-emission fuel sources were available today, they would take many years to build and slowly replace the massive infrastructure our economy depends upon today," he writes. "Similarly, unlike carbon dioxide which can remain in the air for more than a century, methane cycles out of the atmosphere in just eight years, so that lower methane emissions quickly translate to cooling of the earth."

Researchers at the University of Chicago compared the global warming impact of meat eaters with that of vegetarians and found that the average American diet - including all food processing steps - results in the annual production of an extra 1.5 tons of CO2-equivalent (in the form of all greenhouse gases) compared to a no-meat diet. Researchers Gidon Eshel and Pamela Martin concluded that dietary changes could make more difference than trading in a standard sedan for a more efficient hybrid car, which reduces annual CO2 emissions by roughly one ton a year.

"It doesn't have to be all the way to the extreme end of vegan," says Dr. Eshel, whose family raised beef cattle in Israel. "If you simply cut down from two burgers a week to one, you've already made a substantial difference."

Staff writer Peter Spotts contributed to this report.
Full HTML version of this story which may include photos, graphics, and related links: http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0220/p03s01-ussc.html


recipe of the day

This is a delicious recipe for a chilly day and it uses only 6 ingredients. As a bonus for the earth and for your body it's completely vegan. Use fresh, organic ingredients for maximum flavor and nutrition.

Creamy Broccoli Soup
Serves 4 | 30 minutes

1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced
3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
6 cups (about 1.5 lbs.) broccoli, florets separated, stems peeled and cut into 1/2 inch rounds
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

1. Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil into a large saucepan. Add onion, and cook 7 minutes over medium heat, or until softened, stirring often. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute more.

2. Add broth, 1 cup of water, broccoli, potato and mushrooms. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 15 minutes or until broccoli is tender.

3. Puree soup in blender. Return to pot. Season with sea salt and pepper.

Serve with whole grain bread and couscous, quinoa or orzo on the side.


tas philas - "girlfriends"

Only Tas Philas can eat at Bob Evans together and think it was the best meal they've had in a long time... simply because the company is just that good.

Only Tas Philas understand the pressure and frustration of trying to be Superwoman and failing at it over and over.

Only Tas Philas cry when you cry. Even if it's over something that seems insignificant.

Only Tas Philas can be hooked up to a breast pump next to you in the car and it's perfectly normal and comfortable.

Only Tas Philas can see you with snot running down your face, and deodorant that has not withstood the power of the Holy Ghost, and want to hug you anyway.

Only Tas Philas can share our deepest struggles with our hard-headed, stubborn pride and our terrible, heart-wrenching fear of being vulnerable or *gasp* inter-dependent.

Only Tas Philas know the desperation of a new mother with a crying baby.

Only Tas Philas would think it was funny when they forgot where they were sitting in a group of over 7000 people.

Only Tas Philas wouldn't judge me, and at the same time point me in the right direction instead of telling me everything I want to hear.

Only Tas Philas use their jacket sleeves to open those nasty parking garage stairwell doors. Blech.

Only Tas Philas can remain close despite the distance between us.

Only you, my Tas Philas friend, would sacrifice yourself to get into the trenches with me; suffer with me; and love me until I had the strength to climb out of my pit and into the presence of God.

I love you, Tas Philas.


good point.

He who is full loathes honey, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet.
Proverbs 27:7


reason #269 why i love ann arbor

Trader Joe's and Whole Foods within 2 miles of each other. I actually got a little grocery shopping adrenaline rush today.

I spent about 80 bucks on groceries for the week. The same stuff would have cost me twice as much in Charlotte. It's a vegan paradise in Ann Arbor, make no mistake about it... so far it totally makes up for the sub-zero temps. Talk to me when the novelty has worn off, though; things could change really quickly as the winter drags on and I start taking the convenience for granted.

Pray for me.




Yes, we made it to Michigan. We moved into our new place. On the coldest weekend of the year.

I've been so spoiled in Charlotte with the mild temperatures, blue skies and minimal precipitation. This is going to be quite an adjustment.

But it was awesome to see the look on Ocean's face when he woke up from his nap this afternoon and his Mimi, Papa, Grandma and Grandpa were all there. So the lesson here is:

One Penske moving truck - $350
Gas for the trip - $100
Watching my son get to know his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins - Priceless.


the end of extreme poverty

Bono just tore it up on the Image Awards tonight. In talking about the AIDS crisis in Africa and the Western church's resistance to get involved he said that, no matter your view on who God is, what He's about, or even whether he exists, "God is with the poor, and God is with us if we are with them."

So basic, so biblical, so practical, so true.

Anyone wanna go to Africa?


passion and purpose

"Without passion man is a mere latent force and possibility, like the flint which awaits the shock of the iron before it can give forth its spark." -Henri Frederic Amiel

"Passion surprises. One doesn't search it. It can happen to you tomorrow." -Isabelle Adjani

"Temperance is simply a disposition of the mind which binds the passion." -Saint Thomas Aquinas


lyrical therapy

Daisy, give yourself away
Lookup at the rain
The beautiful display
Of power and surrender
Giving us today
And she gives herself away

Rain, another rainy day
Comes up from the ocean
Give herself away
She comes down easy
On rich and dead the same
And she gives herself away

Let it go
Daisy, Let it go
Open up your fist
This fallen world
Doesn't hold your interest
It doesn't hold your soul
Daisy, let it go

Pain, give yourself a name
Call yourself contrition
Avarice of blame
Giving isn't easy
Neither is the rain
When she gives herself away

Daisy, why another day?
Why another sunrise
Who will take the blame
For all redemptive motion
And every rainy day
When he gives himself away

Let it go
Daisy, Let it go
Open up your fist
This fallen world
Doesn't hold your interest
It doesn't hold your soul
Daisy, let it go

-Switchfoot, "Daisy"


the saga continues

I bought a six pack of Corona tonight.

I was NOT carded.

I was wearing a shirt that said "I put the SC in Senior Citizen".


i put the r in rad

Here's an amusing little story.

I was at my friend Lesli's house last week and she was having a woman clean her house. We were all sort of chatting and the woman said to me, "My daughter wore that very same shirt to school today!" I looked down at my shirt... it says "I put the R in Rad." Oh, so there are two of us? Sweet.

Lesli and I, of course, cracked up. She went on to say, "She's 17 though, so she knows what's 'in'." Whew, I feel much better now.

"Of course, she borrowed the shirt from my 14 year old."

We lost it. I think Lesli is still on the floor laughing at that one.

Now, I told you that story to tell you this story:

Lately I've really needed a baby-free day. On Monday Phil was off of work so he sent me out to be alone and get some things done that I wanted to do, instead of needed to do (which always ends up happening when I get time alone. It's the grocery store... the post office... you get the idea). After my haircut and pedicure I ended up at the movie theater. I've been wanting to see Children of Men since I heard it was coming out (it ended up being a waste of time and money... a huge disappointment. But that's another blog for another day) so I purchased a ticket from the teenager behind the window and went inside to the ticket-taker.

A woman no more than ten years older than me smiled as I handed her my ticket. She looked at it, looked at me, and then looked back at the ticket. I was still holding my hand out, waiting for her to tear the damn ticket and give it back to me so I could buy some scrumptuous popcorn and get to my seat but she was just standing there staring at me with the Diane Sawyer look (you know the one... that weird, sort of far-off constipated look). I raised my eyebrows in a not-so-subtle "WTH is your problem" kind of way and she cleared her throat and said... wait for it...

"Can I see your ID please?"


I suddenly got all flustered like I got caught trying to skip class or something. I fumbled in my diaper bag-esque purse and pulled out my wallet while she tried to make nice by telling me, "Someday, honey, you'll appreciate this."

No, Honey, I think what I would appreciate is buying some scrumptuous popcorn and not having to fish my ID out of my purse to prove to you that I am, in fact, OVER THE AGE OF 17. SEVEN. TEEN. I know I look young, but not senior-in-high-school young. Come on, lady.

When I finally got to my seat with my scrumptuous popcorn I set my purse down and noticed my shirt... "I put the R in Rad". And also, apparently, in "caRded at the R-Rated movie".

That shirt is going to Goodwill. Or the 14 year old down the street.


please pray

for my friend Tracey. She's in the hospital on life support and things aren't looking great right now.



We have spent the last two-plus months packing up our house, doing some home-improvement projects and trying to get this place in tip-top shape. We listed our house the week of Christmas and it sold ten days later. Yes, folks, we're heading home to Ann Arbor.

Phil will still be working with Accenture, though we're not sure the nature of his project just yet, and we'll be able to be near family and friends, our rockin' church and of course TRADER JOE'S.

The plan is to be there by the first week of February (after Brian's birthday). For those of you in Charlotte, we will miss you! We'll be back at some point... we're thinking of this trek back to our roots as our temporary and much-needed oasis (hilarious when you consider the climate, I know, but oh-so-true) and want you to feel free to visit anytime. And for those of you in Michigan... we'll see you in a month!