Friday, February 29, 2008

This Is

This is Shannon's Heprin Lock

These are some movies we didn't watch

This is the pre-planned birthday party the Graceys brought with them

These are Jane's shoes

This is Shannon's bed and liquid lunch

This is a contraction

This is Shannon coping with early pain

These are my booties

This is a tired man in a ridiculous suit awaiting a life changing event

This is baby, rent from mother's womb

This is us

And this, this is Magnolia Grace

Born 11:57 am, Feb. 29, 2008

9 lbs. 12 oz., 21.5" long

All are healthy and exhausted except baby who is healthy and precious beyond intelligibility.

Another Brief Update

It is just after 9 am on the 29th. Shannon's water broke 33.5 hours ago. No baby yet. It has been an insane, exhausting, painful and emotional night that we will definitely tell you more about later.

Baby is still very healthy. Shannon is healthy but exhausted. Earlier this morning she started on some pain medication and now she has been given an epidural. We are still trying for a vaginal birth but the doctor isn't super optimistic about that possibility. It's a far cry from our drug-free, intervention-free, natural birth plan but we may very well be having a C-section, a little later.

Prayers are appreciated.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Brief Update. More to Come.

Just want to let everyone know that everything is going well. Shannon is healthy and handling the contractions amazingly.

Baby is also "fabulous," as the nurse often remarks. She heard that Papa was rooting for a leapling and she didn't want to disappoint our readership, which has voted, in a come from behind victory, 18-15 in favor of a leap day baby, so she's taking her sweet time.

The doc isn't pushing induction either because things are progressing and the baby is doing really well.

She let Shannon have peanut butter toast with her standard jello and broth dinner and Shannon deemed it "the best meal ever."

Thank you all for your incredible enthusiasm! It is fun to check comments every once in a while.

And we're off...

to the hospital that is. My water broke around 12:30 am, contractions are still irregular but they want to check us out since it has been so long since the water broke. We'll keep you posted.

Late Night Somethin' Somethin'

It is difficult to damage liquid but Shannon has done it.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Labor Kickstart Strategy: We are Entering Phase 2


√ - Pound Cake

√ - Ice Cream

√ - Raspberry Tea

√ - Greasy Hamburger

√ - Spicy Food

√ - Eggplant Parmesan

√ - Walking

√ - Jumping

√ - Sex

√ - Significant Change in Barometric Pressure

√ - Lunar Eclipse

√ - Tempting Murphy's Law by Leaving the Country

√ - Politely Asking Baby to Come Out

√ - Reasoning with Baby


√ - Shouting at Baby

√ - Bribery

√ - Blackmail

 - Dance Dance Revolution

 - Organized Protest

 - Hunger Strike

 - Psychological Warfare

 - Bald-faced Threats

 - Swinging Shannon Around by her Arms

 - Upright Bungee Jumping

 - Vacuum Suction

 - Pliers

 - Garden Hose Enema

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Comment Tutorial

People, unless you have a blog of your own, you have no idea how much joy it brings a blogger to read comments from readers. We love them. We crave them. We feed off them. They spur us on to blog more.

It's silly really that we get so ecstatic about a few brief statements. It would be like I was talking to you face to face telling you, for example, about the time I played basketball against a team of creepy but patriotic Canadian midgets, and then after I finish you say something like, "Boooring. You've already told me that one. Get a new midget story." And then, despite your insensitivity, I get really excited, clap my hands and say, "Yesssss! You talked to me!! Shannon, someone talked to me again!"

But that's what it's like. You have the power to brighten my day, even with curses and criticism. So faithful readers, I entreat you, brighten my day! With this tutorial, you previously silent lurkers have no excuses.

Those of you that do comment regularly, thank you! You are the wind beneath my wings, the narcotic in this addict's veins.

Rookies (aka Mom): Make sure your sound is turned on, then click on the video box below.

Veterans: Don't bother watching

Monday, February 25, 2008

Bad Question = New Poll

If you were one of the 5 people that voted already on the Leap Day question, sorry you will have to vote again. The way I worded the first question made it hard for people to answer, so I deleted that poll. What I really want to know is if you had to induce or have a c-section, something that gave you some choice in your baby's birthday, would you choose to give your baby a Leap Day birthday?

P.S. If you comment using the anonymous button, type your name because it makes it so much more fun when we know who thinks what.

Leap Year Baby?

Well, we had another Non-stress test today and passed with flying colors. Since we are so healthy we are going to keep waiting. On Friday, we are scheduled for a BPP, which is an ultrasound test that will make sure that the baby has enough fluid and the placenta is functioning normally. As long as that test comes back normal we will at least wait through next weekend before attempting to induce.

This got us thinking...Qwanesha might be born in March! Or she could be a Leap Year Baby!!!

Brian's grandma really doesn't want it to be a Leap Year Baby. What do you think? Would it be cool? weird? Vote in the poll and then leave a comment with your thoughts.

Bath Time Belly Bulges

This is what our little girl does instead of coming out. Maybe she's trying but she just can't find the door?

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Les Miserables

Last night I went to see Les Miserables with one of my friends from school. The show is hosted by my school but has students involved from the other two Bellingham High Schools as well as Ferndale High. Several of my former students are involved in the production: from main actors to the chorus, from the backstage crew to the live all-student orchestra. They have been working hard all year on this play and I'm really glad I got a chance to see it!

If you are in Bellingham and want something fun to do, the show is playing through next weekend at Bellingham High School. I highly recommend it. Just make sure to get there early to get a good seat.

Show and Ticket Information
Bellingham Herald Review

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Non-stress Test

Today, little Qwanesha had her first test, an NST or Non-stress Test. Around 40 weeks of pregnancy the placenta, which has been transferring sustenance between me and baby, can start to deteriorate. So my doctor's office just wanted to make sure she was still healthy by checking that her heart rate elevates with movement and subsides with rest.

The nurse reclined me on the examination table and then rolled in a cart with a little machine on it and strapped a heart monitor to my belly. I was handed a glass of ice water with a straw and a button to push whenever the baby moved. Brian thought I looked kind of funny, like a beach bum about to detonate her belly. The nurse left the room and the machine started spitting out a line graph of little baby's fluctuating heart rate.

A few minutes later, the nurse popped her head back in and asked "Is she doing gynamstics in there?!" I told her she is always VERY active. She told me that I could stop pushing the button because she could hear her moving all the way in the hall. Then the nurse looked at the print out and proclaimed that it was already a "beautiful NST," but we would give it a few more minutes for good measure.

That's the good news. Our girl is very healthy and reactive. The bad news is that she is still inside me. I know that many of you are checking our blog or calling to hear news of her grand entrance. But true to Rush form, she is starting out life late. At least she is not stressed about it.

Brian has been incredibly supportive as I have battled roller-coaster emotions as the days go by. He keeps reminding me that the average first pregnancy is 41 weeks and a day. I don't know what he is going to say after tomorrow.

The doctor I was supposed to see had four women in labor at the hospital. (I guess some babies did respond to the lunar eclipse, Mom) But kindly enough another doctor stepped in to talk to us about our options. They are pretty respectful of the fact that Brian and I would like to have a natural non-medicated childbirth. But since induction is non-natural she talked us through each option and tried to prepare us for needing to deviate from our plan. According to her, after 42 weeks the probability of complications due to placental decline significantly increases, but the induction process for first time moms is not always easy. So our doctor's office likes to avoid it if possible and they hope to give us the natural birth we desire.

Our next steps are to do another NST and see the doctor on Monday. At that point we will decide on our method of induction and schedule it at the childbirth center, later that week. Hopefully, we will have a birthday party before that.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Relationship Advice from the School Bus

One Nine-year-old girl to another: "When you beat up a boy it sorta means you love him."

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

James and Katherine Moes

January was a busy month for Brian and me. Now that I am done working and just sitting around waiting for our baby to come, I am catching up on some blogging.

One of the highlights of January was attending our friend James's wedding. Brian went to Trinity Western University with James. They were both art majors and put on their first non-school related art show collaboratively.

Although this was the 27th wedding Brian and I have attended together(!), it was our first Orthodox wedding. Separate from our own journey, James and Katherine recently joined the Orthodox church. You can read more about Orthodox weddings on our other blog, Liminal Incense.

Congratulations James and Katherine!

May God grant you many years, health and salvation!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Conversations from the School Bus

I think driving school buses is training me to parent in those unusual situations you can't fully anticipate. At least I hope there's some transference from one situation to the other. With my primary responsibility being to get these kids safely home in a timely manner, It's often challenging to respond to some of their concerns as quickly as I need to but still be sensitive and fair. I can imagine that parenting, especially with multiple children, will demand similarly expedient, on-the-ball responses.

Everyday the younger kids say things like, "Billy said the B-word!" or "Katrina stuck her tongue out at me." I'm getting better at quickly defusing these standard situations but I still get thrown for a loop on a regular basis with more bizarre comments and situations.

A few weeks ago, a scrawny 11-year-old decked in camouflage was riddling me with adultish clich├ęs like, "It's been really rainy this week, huh?" and "The flu bug is really gettin' around these days." Then, he was quiet for a while--perhaps he ran out of stereotypical small-talk topics. Finally, out of the blue, he says:

"I have huge tonsils."

Yesterday, most of the kids were loaded on the bus already and we were just waiting for our departure time when the sweetest little kindergarten girl walks up to me and says, "Bus driver, Julie is sad."

Me: "Why is she sad?"

Little Girl: "Here." She grabs my hand. "Come with me."

We walk down the aisle hand in hand.

Little Girl: "Tina told Julie she wasn't her friend any more."

How do you deal with this!? I would not make a good kindergarten teacher.

Later, mid-drive with the same wee ones, amidst the uproar of 3 o'clock juveniles, I hear what sounds like tiny English-speaking kittens. Some of them, because there's a placard up front inscribed with their previous driver's name, are calling me "Jim." The others are just saying "bus driver." I look in my rearview mirror and single out one of the smallest kittens who looks like she's about to cry.

Me: What's wrong?

Teary-eyed Kitten: Megan says she won't let me look at her imaginary guinea pig.

I am dead serious. She said this.

Me: Her imaginary guinea pig??

TEK: Yeah, she won't let me look at it.

Completely baffled that someone would shed real tears over an imaginary guinea pig and seeing what I thought was a fairly simple solution I told her that she should have an imaginary guinea pig too. I couldn't hear her response. I hope I didn't add to her sorrow.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I have yet to experience the common pregnancy complaint of strangers touching my belly, but every time I go out I do have at least one stranger ask about my pregnancy.  Lately, I have been having a lot of fun answering the question "When are you due?" with one word "Thursday." Shocked, people usually say "What?! Wow!" and then continue excitedly with various other questions and comments like "And you're still driving!" 

Today, I tried my doctor's recommendation of Raspberry Tea to jump start labor.  Nothing yet. Maybe for dinner I will try his other recommendation: Eggplant Parmesan. Any other ideas?

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Rest in Peace, Faithful Servants

We now salute these fallen soldiers, who endured insufferable working conditions; who were never lauded publicly; who got dragged through the mud on a daily basis; who will never be the hero, yet never failed to steadfastly maintain their post and unflinchingly uphold the other members of their team. 

In this ruthless war of attrition you have done your region proud.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Mambo and Improv

Brian and I rotate who takes the lead in planning Valentine's Day each year. This year it was Brian's turn and since our baby is due on Valentine's Day we decided to celebrate early just in case we are a little busy next week.

So, last night Brian took me to a cute Italian place in Fairhaven (an area of Bellingham) called Mambo Italiano Cafe. He had won a gift certificate from a local radio contest awhile back--Brian wins a lot of these--and we had heard great things about it. My dinner was delicious and I would recommend it if you are looking for Italian in Bellingham.

Next, we went to Village Books to look for a fun (non-baby related) book for me to read while I'm passing the time, followed by a relaxing dessert at Mallard Ice Cream playing Outburst on their couch.

Finally, we ended the evening at the UpFront Theatre, a comedy improv place owned by Ryan Stiles of The Drew Carey Show and Who's Line is it Anyway? The show was called Hellingham, a murder mystery where the players randomly pick characters created by the audience and a role (killer, victim or townsperson) and then improv the story without revealing their role. At intermission the audience gets a chance to vote for their guess of the identity of the murderer. Brian and I didn't guess correctly, but we laughed pretty hard. It was a nice twist on improv. If you are in Bellingham with nothing to do, they have one more show at 9:30 tonight. But buy your tickets in advance because they sold out last night.

Friday, February 8, 2008

A first taste of babysitting

Due to Brian's continued sickness, my very pregnant state, and Otis's daily need to go to the dog park--we don't have a yard--I decided to seek out a responsible high school student to hire to take Otis for us. I quickly found one that enthusiastically accepted and we arranged to start today.

While waiting for her to pick him up after school, I gathered his leash, a poop-bag, and some treats, reassuring Otis that he was going to meet a new friend today. Then I decided I should make her a list of commands that he knows. When she got here I gave her the run down on our park routine including strategies on getting him back in the car when he is not ready to stop playing. As she left I reminded her to feel free to call my cell phone if she had any questions.

Walking back into the house, I started thinking about what I would do if Otis ran away on her and other far-fetched emergency scenarios. Then it hit me: I am a dork. I just gave this high schooler the equivalant of what I got when I was babysitting numerous small children for the first time. What am I going to be like when I am actually leaving my child with a babysitter! This is just a dog for crying out loud.

Needless to say, it sure was nice to rest at home instead of taking him to the park in our continuous Northwest rain! And Otis and his new friend had a blast at the park!

The Information You Really Want

Still no baby yet. Sorry to disappoint all you eager readers who don't care about my haircut and just want to hear some big news.

I'm sick again (for a record third time this year--grrrr), so we're happy to wait a few days.

Let me rephrase: I'm okay waiting a few days, since I'm not the one with a giant protuberance on my torso, chronic back pain, shortened breath, diminished appetite, uncomfortable ribs, heartburn, swollen appendages, spontaneous nausea, and extreme uncontrollable emotions, among other things. Shannon just wants a healthy husband/coach that will definitely be allowed in the delivery room.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Haircuts by Children

I posted this as my profile picture on facebook recently and a lot of people have been asking if there is a story behind the blue beard.

Here it is:

Two Sundays ago I went up to the Push International Performing Arts Festival in Vancouver and attended a performance/event called Haircuts by Children.

The title really does explain it. A handful of 10 year olds, trained by local professional hair stylists over the span of a week, give free haircuts to anyone brave enough (or foolish enough?) to risk their vanity and trust an unknown child with scissors.

I had to do it! Not only did it sound like a blast, I LOVE the concept. It gently raises so many questions about us as individuals and about our social boundaries and power structures. I love the generosity of it. Can you remember a time in your young life when an adult trusted you with something important? Do you remember how empowering that was?

Before I went, I read everything I could get my hands on about the performance, its creator Darren O'Donnell, and his Toronto-based experimental theater company Mammalian Diving Reflex. So, I thought I knew what to expect when I arrived. O'Donnell had written:

I'd expected the scene to be relatively anarchic, with hair flying all over the place, but, in reality, with kids taking the responsibility so seriously, the mood becomes almost somber.

That's definitely not what I experienced when I walked in to the little Vancouver salon. The mood was anything but somber; it was positively jubilant. The back wall was lined with spectators giggling at their friends' new 'dos and cheering loudly any time a cut was finished. Many of the participants' hair looked jubilant too. Or at least a little more colorful.

I really don't care what my hair looks like. Shy of shaving genitalia into my mop, I don't think there's any haircut that would really embarrass me (at least short term). I also don't usually get stage fright, but I started getting a little nervous as I entered.

When I found Hazel--one of the organizers whom I had previously met only in my inbox--she ushered me down to the third chair where I waited for Daisy and Chance to finish up with their current victim--er, client.

Chance finished rubbing violet coloring into the man's newly acquired bald spots and then invited me to sit.

I gulped and did as I was told.

"So what can we do for you today?"

I told them they could do whatever they wanted with my hair, which I had been growing specially for the occasion, but I wanted to keep the beard.

"We'll turn it blue then!"

The two of them ended up dividing my head exactly in half, with Daisy timidly but conscientiously buzzing the left side. Chance, however, for all his gusto, seemed a little too eager to get to the beard coloration and did a slightly less ideal job shearing the right.

Now, in the mornings, since I haven't rectified the situation yet, I wake up with localized bed head. I look something like a mangy, lopsided macaroni penguin.

Aside from a few missed spots, they did fine. I'm not sure why though, after being given 100% artistic license with my hair, they opted to merely buzz it. There were a lot of crazier cuts going on, including "soccer ball head" and what I will affectionately refer to as "sporadic technicolor rat tails."

Not all of them were bizarre though. I hung around afterward and watched several women get straight up trims or "normal" haircuts (that turned out really well!). I think that's where the somberness O'Donnell mentioned comes in. Any time an adult requested something very specific and un-flamboyant the kids got really focused and took their job seriously.

Not too seriously though. Almost without exception, they couldn't resist adding at least a little color.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Tick, tick, tick...

I feel like a walking time-bomb, but I can't read the timer. It could be any day or it could be weeks away. Any moms out there feel that way at the end of your pregnancy?

Every plan made is tentative. Everyone comments on how it could be anytime and it might be the last time I see them without our baby. I don't mind these comments; I even make them myself. But it does intensify the feeling of impending explosion!

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Clayton Beach

Brian and I decided to take advantage of the semi-sunny day and get stir-crazy Otis out of the house as well as some good exercise for the rest of us.
Our destination was Clayton Beach: a not-too-strenuous hike for a nine month pregnant lady, a great view of the sound and a perfect playground for dogs. All of us feel very refreshed!

Mid-air collision - Trudella was in true form!

She even chased Otis up this hill and pinned him there.
"Hey guys! Whatcha doing? Taking a nature shot?"
A rare sight -- Otis actually trying to play tug with Trudy!