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Category Archives: Beauty

A terrible beauty

I remember her towels.  For some reason, I keep coming back to the image of her soft, perfectly folded white towels.  They were so incredibly neat and tidy.  And pure.

I wasn’t supposed to be her doula.  My partner had called me at the last minute and I entered her space for the first time when she was in labor.  She was stunning.  Brilliant red hair and a quiet strength.  This was their first baby and they wanted to stay home for most of their labor.

I remember some funny things.  Some things that will remain unsaid.  I remember in active labor, I looked over and saw a shotgun (rifle?) by the bed.  I wondered if it was wise to have a gun so close to a woman in active labor.  I remember the ways I flubbed up.  One incident made my blooper page.  I remember laughter.

We arrived at the birth center.  She was fully dilated and quickly pushed her baby into her husband’s hands.  A son.

During her postpartum, when she needed extra help with breastfeeding, I brought lactation help.  We spent hours in her home.  It was the intimate time of women with the new mother.  We three cried when her milk came.

Her mothering was fierce and deliberate.  She is the kind of mother we need more of.

Last week, she died from an aggressive cancer.  She leaves behind her precious husband, her toddler, and her born-too-soon baby girl.  And it is awful.  It is wrong.  And not meant to be like this.

Yet, there is beauty–certainly in her life–but also in her passing.  I heard her name from so many places during her illness.  People who didn’t even know her.  She breathed grace and confidence and HOPE.  This is the mystery of redemption.  That God, who does not  want suffering, can redeem it.  Beauty from ashes.  If we let him.

When I remember Jessica, it will always be a vision of those white towels.  And I’ll hope that my life will be as well-lived.

Some Favorite Things

Norah’s new nature shelf.  We’ve had trouble with Norah’s nature table.  Trouble that starts with a capital “C” and comes in the shape of a 16 month old wild thing.  For Christmas, Scott made a shelf to go above Norah’s bed.  Out of reach (for now) of Cedar.  It has a shelf on top and a string with clothespins for attaching feathers, leaves, butterflies, etc.  Norah had so much fun arranging her fall/winter nature treasures.  And the dead Hercules beetle that we are apparently keeping forever.   

The Jesus Storybook Bible:  Every Story Whispers His Name.  Oh my.  I had heard mama friends speak with such passion about this book.  I knew it would be good.  But this good?  I’ve been so frustrated with the Bible storybooks for children.  The stories are disjointed.  God is sending floods, kicking people out of a garden, sending plagues.  A cohesive story and an amazing grace are missing.  I cried when I read the introduction!  “You see, no matter what, in spite of everything, God would love his children–with a Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.  And though they would forget him, and run from him, deep in their hearts, God’s children would miss him always, and long for him–lost children yearning for their home.”

The plasma car.  There is such joy I never could have imagined in hearing your children play together.  Sorry Mom, if I’d known, maybe I wouldn’t have fought with Noelle so much.  The plasma car has given me hours of happy sibling play.  Thank you, Great-Nanny!  Too bad she doesn’t have a computer to read this. 


Our completed fireplace.  My husband was determined not only to make most of our Christmas gifts this year but also to complete our fireplace.  He built this thing of beauty from nothing.  It was an empty corner.  He built the mantle, installed the logs, carved the designs and centerpiece, cut the rock, stacked the rock, cursed at the rock, swore he’d never mess with rock again.  And he finished it Christmas Eve.  He is a machine.  Or a superhero.  Or maybe a robot superhero.


I’ll post more on some of the other gifts he made.  After we give them all out.  There are so many other favorite things I’m enjoying from sweet family and friends.  Mostly, I’m savoring time together while my whole family is living geographically in the same place–until March.  More on that later, too.

How to treat a woman during childbirth



 If a woman doesn’t look like a Goddess during birth then someone isn’t treating her right.

–Ina May Gaskin

Oh *blush*

Thank you to A Little Bit of All of It  for selecting this blog as a “One Lovely Blog Award” winner. 

I will strive to live up to the loveliness!

Now I am honored to pass along the prize to 15 blogs I read.  I picked only mamas I have met in real life.  That isn’t part of the rules but it helped me narrow down my selection! 

For those who choose to pass along the award to others, the rules are:  accept the award on your blog and then select 15 lovely blogs to award.    

Without further ado, my lovely award recipients are (in no particular order):

  1. Babyfingers
  2. a la mode
  3. beneath this starry spinning
  4. Bringing Up Ballard
  5. Kidnapped by Suburbia
  6. Red Dirt Girl
  7. the rest of the story…
  8. Fresh Milk Delivered Daily
  9. Broken, Yet Beautiful
  10. Life Prints by Tracie
  11. Confessions of a Misplaced Alaskan
  12. Simply
  13. Adventures in Living & Learning
  14. My Thoughts
  15. My Loves

Hopefully a few of you ladies wll pass along the award to others.

My sister’s doula

My family is tight.  I have one sibling.  My parents still love each other.  We have weekly Sunday dinner during which we sit at the table talking long after the coffee has cooled.  And for this rare moment, we all live in geographic proximity.   

When my sister became pregnant, I coached myself on:

  • respecting her privacy
  • not using scare tactics
  • not saying too much
  • not saying too little
  • keeping horror stories to myself
  • keeping homebirth talk to a minimum
  • stepping back and allowing them to make informed decisions

All the while, I wondered how I could possibly be her doula in the hospital setting.  I imagined scenes of security guards forcibly removing me from the hospital.  But they chose a homebirth and I breathed a sigh of relief.  I wouldn’t need to guard her or time her arrival at the hospital just right.  I could relax into supporting.


As her time approached, I had so much anxiety.  If she had to transport, I would blame myself.  I knew this.  Deeply knew this.  A big sister thing, you know?  I did a Hypnobabies “fear clearing” before her birth. 

Then her birthing time began.  And it felt so normal.  The anxiety melted away as I moved into the familiar and comfortable space of birth.  I hunkered down to support her in the work of bringing a baby. 

What I was not prepared for was the emotion.  The powerful emotion that hit me full force out of nowhere as she was close to birthing.  At this moment:

Yes, this moment.  Do you know what I was thinking?  I was remembering the time I left her in my uncle’s hayloft.  She was little and refused to come down the ladder.  So my cousins and I left her crying.  My horrible brain fired off many of those memories in rapid succession leaving me a pile of mush.  I wept in her shoulder so she wouldn’t see.  I was entirely unprepared for the onslaught memories.  I never cried at my own births. 

She was a warrior, as I knew she would be.  And Zach was a strong birth partner whispering prayers and endearments throughout. 

Her sweet babe weighing in at 8lbs 4oz was a precious dumpling.

And her doula was busy remembering every mean thing she ever did to her. 

You give me

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   What you give me is
   the extraordinary sun
   splashing its light
   into astonished trees
                   –Denise Levertov

Mirrors Burn

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Some mornings

in summer I step outside

and the sky opens

and pours itself into me

as if I were a saint

about to die.  But the plot

calls for me to live,

be ordinary, say nothing

to anyone.  Inside the house

the mirrors burn when I pass.

–Lisel Mueller

Don’t cry over cracked eggs

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I opened a new carton of eggs this morning and found three broken eggs.  Boo.

Then I remembered something I saw last weekend when Scott and I toured some green(ish) homes

I filled the eggshells with a little bit of activated charcoal and potting soil, gathered some moss from the yard, and made these little cuties. 

I don’t know how long they will last.  I suppose I’ll mist them when they seem dry and we’ll see what happens.

They look lovely on the shelf above my sink. 

Turning Wood

My husband got a lathe for Christmas and he has been a busy woodsy man.

The honey dipper with the reddish handle is from fallen cedar we found in my parent’s forest.  The dark wood salt cellar is from Scott’s grandfather–some black walnut from his forest.  The other honey dippers are from pine and redwood.  He also made a stunning wooden scoop from cedar.  Everything is finished with local beeswax.  Not sure yet what I’m doing with the tiny pine scoop pictured.  I’m keeping catnip in the salt cellar. 

Why do I need catnip, you ask.  Catnip is an excellent and safe herb for babies.  It soothes digestions, helps with achy gums, and (bonus!) acts as instant lullaby.  I keep it growing in abundance. 

Another woodsy feature to our holidays:  Norah wanted to give a gift to Cedar.  So Scott cut some baby blocks with nice grips for baby hands and Norah spent hours sanding them.  Then they coated them with beeswax.  Such a sweet gift. 

I love my crafty woodsman.  Even when his shoes fill with sawdust and spill out onto the bedroom floor.  Even when he stays in his workshop until 3am.

Good Tidings

We received the BEST box of treasures from Norah’s friend, Abe.  Abe lives in Vermont and we miss him terribly.  For Norah’s birthday, he gathered some precious gifts to send her way.  They will absolutely be featured on our December nature table.

And I love the birthday card.  It is a balloon.  When we blew it up, we could read Abe’s message.  How creative!


Thanks Abraham and Abby!!!