Saturday, April 24, 2010

Two Books

I put in a request, on facebook, for a book suggestion. I trust Jim's opinion so I chose his book, East of Eden (also, because he actually GAVE me a copy to read hahahaha!).

I PURPOSELY didn't read any other reviews before or since reading these books. I hardly ever do, because I find it colors my view of the book while I'm reading it, and that ruins it for me. I know a lot of people like to have a lot of people's opinions before they read a book, so here ya go! If you are NOT one of those people, do not continue to read!

East of Eden, by John Steinbeck
I had to read The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men when I was in school. I really loved those books, so I was excited to read this book (even though I thought I had read it back when, it turns out that I'd only seen the movie a long time ago...didn't even remember what the movie was about). It started out with so much background and family details and history, it was a little hard to get into. I was also only a couple of weeks away from delivery and couldn't find a minute to read. I'd take the lazy way out and read a quick article online or check fb. I brought the book with me to the hospital, though. Because the kids were all sick at home, Butch stayed home with them and Trina stayed in the hospital with me so I got in some good hours of reading time!

There were SO many beautiful and good lines in this book! Despite graphic details about evil, whorehouses, beatings, abuse, and many references to the ugliness of life in the early part of the century, I can still call this great book!

It was mostly a fictionalized version of the details of life for the people who grew and lived in the late 18-early 1900s around the place where the author's family came from. It contained a lot of true parts of his own family tree but included a lot of conjecture based on family stories and rumors. It was kind of historical fiction meets family tree.

I sensed the author put a lot of his own attitudes and feelings into the many different strong characters in this book. One of the most important characters with the most impact on all the surrounding characters was the author's own grandfather. He describes him in such loving detail, almost to the point of repetition, that you can tell the author thought a lot of his grandfather and wished to honor his memory for all time and for the rest of his family's sake.

The only thing I find "wrong" with this novel, is that the author gets kind of unfocused on what he wants to mainly parlay with the story. Is it a family history? Is it a re-telling of the book of Genesis? Is it just a bunch of intertwined stories of people and their lives? I finished the last few chapters with a feeling of disappointment in where the story ended up. I guess, at that point, I was actually expecting a certain amount of drama that never really delivered. It's almost like the author sensed he was over dramatizing a true story and pulled back.

The book is VERY concentrated on the virtue and vice of each character. He seems to want us to truly understand that man has both good and evil inside him that that we have the CHOICE to act upon those characteristics. One or more of the characters seems to be born evil with no chance of redemption, so the theory that we have a choice doesn't follow there. The book is VERY heavy on multiple philosophies (as discussions by many of the characters) so you can tell the author is a deep and heavy thinker who enjoys getting others to think deeply as well (without over dramatizing). I love that kind of writing, so: GOOD JOB, JIM! You nailed it!

The Shack, by William Young
The book The Shack was recommended by a number of people but my neighbor just happened to be finishing it and handed it over just the other day. I finished it in one afternoon. I hadn't really heard anything about it, so I read an article about the author before I read it. It seems the author has MAJOR issues (was raised by missionary parents and was abused by tribespeople, had an affair after having 6 kids...yeah, issues). The book is all about a guy whose daughter is abducted and murdered by a psycho. He gets invited to the shack ( in which she was presumably killed) by God. God appears to him in a trinitarian form of characters. They are all non-white people. I had a lot of issues with this book.

First of all, a lot of the theology in the book is bogus. It's a very imaginative and private view of God, personified by the author. It seemed like his own way of working through the factors of forgiveness while indulging himself in countering years of religious abuse by his idiot parents, who ever thought it would be a good idea to raise a child in a third world country surrounded by heathens. Blech. I already had major issues with parents who choose this kind of life for their children, now I'm convinced it can't lead to any GOOD to bring your healthy child to a backward land to "preach the Word of God". If this author's mind and behaviors are any indication of what could happen to a perfectly innocent child in that circumstance, NO THANK YOU!

It was a quick read and a fair story line, but the author got WAY hung up on his own philosophies and his own brand of theology (all the while denigrating all of the thousands of years of theology of the Church...trapping the reader into thinking "gee, if I don't really believe this author, I must be one of those zombie church-goers and not a real Christian/believer"). If I were a parent who had a child brutalized in this or in a similar way, I'd be horrified and UNcomforted by this man's vision of "heaven" or eternity with God. I also found myself tuning out when he kept stressing that theory that dark is just the absence of light. I get it, already, it's just not TRUE that that's ALL it is. Evil is it's own entity. Evil does exist. The author contradicts himself with this theory by saying that God was with the girl during the evil act. The obvious problem there is that evil still WAS, even in the presence of God. The author had a lot of help writing this book, you can just tell. He's not a very good author and the story sags quite a bit in the middle and end.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Very Advanced

One and a half days old, and we captured her first smile already. We figure she'll be walking by next week.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


(Ah've decided that purple is her signutuh culuh)

Evangeline Susan Nielsen

Born at 1:35, Friday afternoon, April 16th, 2010.

10 pounds 3 oz.

21 3/4 inches in length

I wish I could post the video of her being born. It was such a funny delivery. I had all my sistahs there and they were SO helpful. I'll try to re-cap the adventures for you.

Here's what happened from MY perspective (I've seen the video and it's SO much different than what I was perceiving! The second med they put in my epidural line made me super groggy and nauseous so I was closing my eyes for most of the actual delivery. Closing my eyes made me have a very interesting conversation with myself.):

I got to the hospital with Trina (Butch decided to stay home and just ease the kids into the day so they wouldn't be alone for so long, since we didn't know how long things would take) around 6am. They hooked me up to monitors and tried to start the pitocin but I insisted that they wait until the epidural was placed. That was a good move.

I was dilated to 3 (which was one more than on the day before, so it meant I was already sort of starting labor. I estimate that I would have had her within three days, had I gone "naturally". My due date is today, Sunday the 18th!).

They finally came in and placed the epidural and started the pitocin around 10am (it went a lot faster than it sounds...lots of paperwork and fussing anyway.) then the action started. I was checked about an hour into it and the contractions finally came around 3 minutes, consistently. Meanwhile, all my girls started filtering in as I texted them with updates. My "go number" was 5, and most of them rushed over as soon as they knew it was going pretty fast. Here's everyone "helping" me (before things got intense. The truth is, they are actually more involved in the actual delivery than we parody here in the picture!)

(Oh, Butch finally came, he's taking the picture!)
The picture didn't include Krista, who hadn't seen a baby born before (except her own three). She walked in right after I started pushing. I just saw the video and it was super funny. I pushed, then someone walks in and I say "Oh, HI! Yay, you made it! then I started pushing and had the baby!). Also, it doesn't include Anna, who was in California at her coffee convention thingie. She missed a good one, but she and her new husband get to be the godparents. Oh, did I mention that they are expecting their first baby???!!! They announced it at Easter and we are all so happy!

When things started to hurt, I panicked because that had happened before, and I got nervous when the anesth. didn't come in and bump my meds (he told me if the pain got above 5, to call him) so I had to endure some pretty nasty contractions before he came in and gave me a big bolus of a different medication into the epidural line. It worked and things moved pretty textbook-like into transition. I got the shakes and felt more pressure so the doctor checked me and told me I could push any time. I told him that I could, but that I didn't want to, yet. He told me "that's just fine, we'll let her come down by herself" and I was happy. I could hear her heartbeat the whole time and knew she was fine, so I just fought the nausea and tried to remember to breathe. Rachie was right beside me so I whispered that I was going to try a "practice push" with nobody watching, to see if that did anything. She conspired to hide and distract while I pushed. I realized that I was feeling a little pain with the contractions, and that holding my breath and pretending to push, actually made the pain go away so I told them I was ready to "push".

In my head, I was having the following conversation:

Me: I feel like puking, I need to abandon this "pushing" facade (I really couldn't feel anything to push, so I was totally faking it), and just try to puke, maybe I'd feel better?

Me: Yeah, you could do that, but if you do, then it will take longer and you will be doing this thing forever. How about just keep doing the holding the breath thing and fake it some more until you pass out. THEN, you won't have to puke and maybe the baby will come on her own?

Me: Good idea. They're telling me to "push" again, so I'll really put on a good show this time and maybe my face will turn red. I'll throw in a grunt or two for show.

Me: Heh heh, that would be a hoot.
I had to keep from stopping the "pushing" charade to make comments on what I was feeling and thinking. I thought "they'll never believe I'm pushing if I stop to make conversation!".

So, I "pushed" a bunch more. I never ever felt a baby like this. She was bouncing, moving, kicking, twisting and totally awake from the moment I got to the hospital, until hours after she was born. I've NEVER had a child kick her way out of the womb before! She was pushing and twisting all the way out! That totally distracted me front the queasy feeling that I kept having. I had estimated 8 lbs, 7 oz when we did our last minute guesses (that we post on the wipeoff board). The nurse won with a guess of 9 lbs, 13 oz! She said, when the baby's head was out, "Do you want to feel your baby's head?" I sneered at her, "No, YOU can feel it."

I HATE when people want you to look at or feel the baby before it's totally OUT of the body. I also hate when people say "PUSH". I think I've mentioned that before.

The nurse was perfectly nice, I just didn't get a chance to warn her.

Right before I started to really push, Weazy started crying and ran into the bathroom and puked her guts out. Butch was attending to her during the whole birth. I think he'd rather help a puking child, than watch a baby be born, so I'm pretty sure he was okay with that arrangement. We chalked it up to nerves (which was weird, since she'd seen Tommy be born and was perfectly fine with that) but it turned out, 4 of the six kids had a puking stomach virus all day Friday and most of Saturday. No fever, no previous indications, just violent, sudden vomiting that didn't stop for 24 hours! Other than Weazy being at the hospital right when her barf-fest started, it was pretty good timing! If I had stayed home and went into labor on my own...EW. What a mess!

So, Evangeline came out and woofed in a big wad of fluid but it got suctioned out quickly, she was perfect (perfectly CHUBBY!) in every way, and now she's sitting in her brother's arms, squeaking and looking slightly orangy.

It was the quickest (5.5 hours), least painful, least stressful, best delivery I've ever had. If this were my first baby, I'd have 6 more HAHAHAHAHA!

Butch is my total hero for keeping things in order around here despite the barf-o-rama. Mom came and really stepped up with the keeping up on wash and trying to make the kids feel better. I really itched to go home right away since I felt SO good. I almost feel like myself only two days later! So, I decided to steal away during the night and came home around 9pm last night. I loved "sleeping" in my own bed. The baby was sleeping a lot and I actually had to wake her for some feedings, just to be sure she can start the milk and get rid of the jaundice before it takes hold. She's a good nurser and is so sweet to look at and play with. She's a charmer. She's being fought over quite a bit today.

I'll post a bunch of pictures of our visitors and Evangeline. The only non-family visitor, besides some of the sistahs, was Meredith who was there for the birth, because she happened to have an appt. at the clinic next door, but had her daughters with her. She went to the waiting room and, I didn't find out until later, kept an eye on Krista's kids until after Evangeline was born! She also ran out and came back later, by herself, for a nice long visit and brought a huge goodie basket of awesome, useful stuff. I can't thank her enough! She included some note cards for thank-yous but I think I'll do some personal emails instead, since my handwriting is so horrible, they'll think they got a card from the doctor's office.

Thank you, EVERYONE, for prayers, for being there, for helping me with the other kids, and for just being friends of our big, crazy family.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

"4, 3, 2, 1, Earth Beloooowwww Us..."

That dang song keeps running through my mind when people (i.e. EVERYONE WHO IS WITHIN TALKING DISTANCE THAT I'VE EVER SEEN IN THE PAST TWO WEEKS) ask me "When is the baby due?"

I'm huge. I mean, my BELLY is huge. I can't suck it in anymore. I'm fooling no one.

("The Countdown starrrrrrts...")

I am not a rocketship!

Shut up, voices in my head!!!

"...drifting, falling, floating weightless
calling, calling home..."

I then remember how every time I'm at that "no turning back" moment at the hospital, I feel the unreasonable urge to get up, get dressed, go home and go to bed. "YOU guys can stay here and do this thing. I'M going home. I've decided I've changed my mind and I don't wanna do this any more. Nice seeing you all! Sorry to disappoint you but I'm leaving now!"

("Hello Major To,. are you receiving?
Turn the thrusters on.
We're standing by."
There's no reply...)

Nobody ever takes me seriously when I say "I CAN'T DO THIS!" Don't they know that I really CAN'T?! I guess not, because they won't let me go home and they make me PUUUUUSH all of the time. Jerks.

Oh well, at least they've been trained not not NOT to say "pushpushpushpshpshspshspshsp" I hate it when I hear that and I will just go ahead and NOT push for people who do that awful thing. I'm not their monkey. They can't tell me what to do. I'll push when I'm damn good and ready to push, so there.

(Watching in a trance, the crew is certain.
Nothing left to chance, all is working.
Trying to relax, up in the capsule
"Send me up a drink.", jokes Major Tom.
The count goes on...)

And now, the song is safely here, on my blog, where it will haunt all of YOU and drive YOU nuts today. I need to sit and gestate one more day. I can't have this song drilling my brain anymore with it's synthesizer beat and beeboobopbop robot sounds in the background pushing me to the brink of insanity.

(The countdown starrrrrts...)


Friday. I go in on Friday to have this baby. THIS Friday. (If I don't run away from the hospital, that is.)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dr. Bocker

All of the kids are kind of past the "oh my gosh, I can't WAIT for the new baby to come!" stage. All except Bocker (Niklaus).

Bocker has always been the one child in the family to ask "Are you okay?" if you sneezed, coughed, made a noise of pain, etc.. I didn't really notice that fact for a long time. He seems to be ultra empathetic, which is a rare thing for children. He asks me questions about the baby all of the time and is the only one patient enough to really feel the baby when she's moving around. He loves it when she wiggles and his eyes get HUGE and he says "WHOA, that was a GOOD one!" then he laughs with pure joy.

I wonder why? I didn't treat him any different than any of the other kids. I didn't overly coddle him, or overly punish him. I think it's just really, truly his nature! It's so funny how he walks past me and puts his hand on my belly, then walks away as if nothing's happened. He's the ONLY one who will ask, "How are you doing, Mom?" in the middle of the day, out of the blue. He's the only one who LOVES being snuggled and holding on to another person. If he could be physically attached to someone all day (a la' conjoined twins), he'd probably be a happy camper!

He loves those medical shows and baby story shows and never even says "EWWWW" on the gross parts. During those survivor shows the family likes to watch, he'll say, "Don't worry, Mom, I'll tell you when the yucky parts come and you can cover your eyes!". He watches them, and doesn't even really cringe. If someone is bleeding or in any kind of pain, he IMMEDIATELY asks if you need anything and won't hesitate to get it for you. He's like our own personal triage nurse.

He's an unusual duck, but I sure like him. Oh, and I think I might want him in the delivery room with me. If it's not too dramatic (i.e. I've had an early epidural that works perfectly), I think he'd really get a kick out of the whole thing. He's really more suited to that than any of the other kids. The bigger girls were at the last delivery and they did really well. My sistahs did a good job of ushering them out of the room during sensitive times and keeping them in a "can see the baby coming out" only position in the room. It worked out nicely so I really can't see a problem for Bocker being there when this little girl is born.

He will probably be right next to me in the bed saying, "It's okay, Mom, there's just a little blood, it's going to be okay. WHOA, did you SEE that? That was COOL! Do you need another pillow?" the whole time. Am I messing him up for life? Or, will he end up being a really good OB/GYN some day?

Saturday, April 10, 2010

8 Days of Creation?

We've got some new mosaics on the baptismal "font"/hot tub. I thought they were VERY beautiful, so I snapped a few pics before Mass a couple Sundays ago.

I still don't like this giant thing in the back of church but, at least it looks a little more decorated now. I've seen worse...MUCH worse, so I probably shouldn't complain.
I guess the panels are supposed to represent the story of creation...the "8 days of creation" Father said. HUH? He sort of laughed and said he'd explain it in a later homily so, stay tuned!

The new baby will be baptized here, that's nice. I can't wait to post pictures of THAT day, because it will mean that she's on the OUTSIDE, safe and sound!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

I Apolergize

I meant to do that thing on the sidebar where it shows the latest postings of all of my peeps. So, I went ahead and deleted all of my links first, then got distracted...of course. I'll get to it sometime soon so all the newbies can see all of the oldies/goodies that have been my blogfriends/family/realpals for years. The world awaits my procrastinating but well-intentioned duties. Meanwhile, I'll post a few pictures and wait for the calls and emails to come in with more offers of housekeeping, billpaying, childcare, hair-highlighting to get on my highly sought after blogroll spot HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Mari and cousin, Sofia

Tommy lovin' on Cousin Vinny

How to keep track of the quiet ones outside, at night, before bed, in their cut-off-footie jammies