Today I took care of my mind, soul, and body. Most notably, and at times exhausting, I worked intensively with other alcoholics. And it was a special day for a number of reasons. One woman, under two weeks sober, came to my home and we we shared our experiences. Side by side. I am honored, as ever, to be a part of another’s Recovery. When I work with another alcoholic in this way I’m reminded of my early sobriety – a precious memory to me, today.
Today was also my mother’s natal birthday, and my sponsor’s sobriety birthday. Both these women are so incredibly important in my life. I have a different relationship with each, and I have different ways of honoring them. Each friendship has its own tenor, but they are each a source for me.
My mother is one of the largest influences in my life. If there is any quality you find in me and admire, I could tell you a bit about where it came from, and I have a conscious contact with roots in what I’ve learned from my mother. Whether a quality she brought, or one she lacked, all paths lead back to her. I found her failings so distressing as to lead me through painful journies, and today I bless the memory of those more difficult times. Her assets, however, eased my path and in turn bless all those in my life. From my mother, I learned a steadfast loyalty, a wicked sense of humor, a joy in sensual pleasures, an appreciation for the lovelier things in life, and a genuine trust of and love for other women.
My sponsor – thinking on her brings tears to my eyes. I have had so much help and from many quarters, but it was she who taught me the meaning of dignity after catastrophic lowness. She taught me about Forgiveness; and I watched her for quite some time to see if it was real. But, it was – she had forgiven things I did not think were possible to forgive. She has taught me about patience, kindness, and honesty. If you have ever thought I had a modicum of empathy and compassion, she is one of my greatest teachers. Our friendship is entirely reciprocated in equal measure and with a great deal of warmth. In many ways she is a mother to me where no other mother quite rang true, and she has been a steady friend in ways practical and spiritual. She is truly a blessing in my life.
This morning I took a bike ride to the track stadium and steadily climbed up and down stairs; I am attempting to strengthen and heal my knees. I took my time and rested between flights, and listened to a Buddhist podcast. I laughed aloud in recognition many times by the simple truths I heard, and I sat on a humid little wooden bench and looked out on green fields. “Life is not so serious as the mind makes it out to be,” I remembered. I felt a gladness I could touch something calm, and real, with my mind, which still needs much healing.
Home after my outing I cooked, and cooked, and cooked some more: dishes for my children, for my friends, for my mother, for my husband, for myself. Cooking, washing dishes, patience and persistence and service. Sliced ripe mango; perfectly over-easy eggs for my son. Butter-fried jalepeño slices over pressure-cooked beans with fresh garlic – warmed wheat and corn tortillas. Sharp grated cheese, fresh lettuce. Cooking itself a meditation, if I let it be one. As I sliced garlic I thought, “I am slicing garlic now so I can pay attention to you when the time comes.”
A mindfulness practice. So I can be here for you.Read More
Today was my husband’s 36th birthday. I was thinking this afternoon that our marriage is an extraordinary one. You know those vows, “in sickness and in health”? I realized today Ralph and I have spent almost all our fifteen years together in sickness. With my recent reflections on my kidney illness, it doesn’t look like any time soon we’ll be in a “health” phase, either.
But our relationship has matured into something quite wonderful and very strong, and something I treasure very much. Respect is easy to promise or even to give when you’ve not gone through Hell together. Respect, love and devotion after we’ve been through is the most precious alchemy.
Today the four of us drive to Montesano for lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. Nels complains about a gift winging its way to him in the mail, and I give into my irritation with his ingratitude. “With that bad attitude, you’ll probably make bad things happen to you,” I tell him tartly. He replies serenely, “That concept is called ‘karma’. Which doesn’t really exist.”
And I calmly turn my head and looked out the passenger-side window and laugh silently. He won that argument, although no matter what he believes I’m not sure if there’s anything I have more respect for than karma.
Something changes in the car and soon we are all restored to good spirits. We discuss names and name-changes, and Nels announces his plans for a new name. When he clarifies the spelling I am quite impressed: Aqua Sun – as in, Aqua Sun Hogaboom. Which suits him, if you know him. Now I don’t think he is serious about the name change – unlike his sister three years ago – but I do think I love that name so much, and I love the thought of the responses I’d get calling him that in public.
As I write, this same child is singing to his father and brings him some homemade sweets. “That’s a lot of jam,” I hear my husband observe mildly. Nels proudly brings me this impressive concoction in a bifurcated cupcake dish: a ripe plum sliced perfectly into a Pac Man presentation, a cloth napkin and fork, and a “jam cake” garnished with fruit and a large swath of glitter-frosting. By “jam cake” I do not mean something baked, it is literally what looks like a quarter-cup of preserves. (“It’s only one scoop!” he says cheerfully after his father demurral).
Nels likes to cook.Read More
Happy birthday, my little guy.
This gathering was funded in large part by a blog donation from Ylva, all the way over in Sweden. UM, how wonderful was this? We were so grateful.
The morning after: the telltale karaoke lineup:
Karaoke worked up starting about nine PM. We had three reluctant participants who got way less reluctant pretty quick! It was in particular awesome to see my sister sing; she has many years as professional under her belt – opera, flamenco, and jazz to name a few. P.S. I am a hero. I broke the “overreaching” ice by debuting my set with some Beysus. & I continued it with some Queen.
I didn’t take as many pictures as I would have liked. I had my hands full with the work of a party, and the work of just being Me.
We had a great time, and we have wonderful friends and family. Truly an enjoyable gathering.
I gave birth to my son nine years ago today. Every year I post his birth story on this date. Several families have told me the story has influenced their birth choices; several women that it was the (beginning) inspiration for their home birth! I am humbled – and, as always, grateful.
Nels David Hogaboom
a birth story
Born at home to mom Kelly, dad Ralph, and sister Sophia [/Phoenix]
1:20 AM Wednesday April 7, 2004
8 pounds 7 ounces
21 inches long
April 6th, 9 AM – is it or isn’t it?
A couple hours after I wake up on Tuesday I’m having mild contractions that are only a tiny bit more intense than the Braxton Hicks contractions I’d had throughout the last half of my pregnancy. These contractions are only slightly painful and certainly not too intense. Nevertheless, they are somewhat distracting and never truly subside, coming anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes apart. Ralph senses things are going to go into motion and comes home at noon, starting his two weeks off of work. He calls my mom at about 3 PM and tells her to head up to see us (she leaves about 5 PM). At this point I am hopeful of labor but also feeling somewhat silly at the thought I might be treating everyone to a false alarm. My mom arrives at about 9 PM time and she and Ralph start writing down my contractions, calling midwives, and cleaning the house up a bit.
April 6th, 10 PM – the real thing
My mom and I are watching a movie together and my contractions are still coming about 10 minutes apart. I still claim I am unsure if labor is going someplace. But everyone is noticing I pause the movie during each contraction so I can concentrate on getting though it. I’m undecided if I should walk around to “get things moving” or lie down and rest in between contractions. I’m trying not to be too fearful of another long labor like I had with my first child. Suddenly at about 10:30 PM I hop up from the bed and turn off the movie, since contractions have sped up to about 4 minutes apart. Naturally my mom and Ralph are very excited and go about making phone calls and preparations while I pace the floor and cope with each contraction. It is going quite well but I keep telling myself these are the “easy” contractions and I try not to worry about what’s to come.
Around 10:30 my midwives and my doula start arriving and I am focusing inward in the classic “Laborland” manner. I notice peripherally how efficient and friendly everyone is, setting up the bed, laying out blankets and birth supplies and getting snacks. Everyone is wonderful to me and provides me with water and encouragement between contractions, respectful silence and privacy during. I feel very protected and honored and so it is easy not to be fearful. My doula Elizabeth arrives and strokes my back and speaks softly to me. She puts me nearly to sleep in between contractions. I am feeling so grateful for the love and encouragement I am getting. I know I am coping very well and in fact since I am doing so well I don’t think I am very far along.
April 7th, Midnight – silliest labor quote
Things are intense but I don’t want a check to see how far I’ve dilated. I am somewhat afraid to discover all the work I am doing hasn’t gotten me anywhere. Laura (one of the midwives) suggests I get into the tub. I’d always thought of the tub as what you use as a last resort toward the end of labor so I tell her I can wait. After a few more contractions I decide to get in, hoping for some pain relief. I spend about 40 minutes in the tub with contractions edging up their intensity. Everyone is around me encouraging me and vocalizing though my contractions. Elizabeth holds my hands and breathes with me through the contractions, then puts a cold cloth on my head and neck in between. Everyone helps keep me calm and focused, as does the knowledge I have to take each contraction one at a time. Close to 1 AM I feel the urge to have Ralph hold and kiss me while I rest, and help talk me through contractions (he’s repeating something I read from Birthing From Within: “Labor is hard work, it hurts, and you can do it”). I don’t realize at the time but I am going through transition. After a few contractions I start to feel a little of that, well — grunting urge. I know it is perfectly okay to grunt and push a little to help with the pain and I instinctively do so. The midwives clue into what I am doing and are back in the room. Laura says, “Gee Kelly, it sounds like you’re pushing” and I reply (idiotically) “I’m not really pushing, it just feels good to bear down a little bit”. These contractions are pretty rough but everyone is helping me so much it is still very manageable.
April 7th, 1:10 AM – OUCH, OUCH, OUCH!
Kathy convinces me to let her check me and informs me not only am I completely dilated, but that the baby’s head has descended quite a bit. I am completely amazed at this (despite knowing I am feeling the urge to push) and even accuse everyone of just saying that to make me feel better! (I feel a little silly about this later). During each contraction I am feeling the pain in my hips, all the way to the bone, which my midwives tell me is a sign the baby is moving. Kathy tells me later I comment that it is like a crowbar prying my pelvis apart. Despite the pain I am coping well and in between the contractions I am still calm. I comment that I am not feeling any pressure in my bottom yet and I think to myself this means I have a ways to go. Oops, I speak too soon — with the next contraction I feel the baby AT THE DOOR, so to speak. This takes me by surprise and my labor sounds change from low and powerful to very alarmed and – well – a little screechy. Everyone is talking to me and trying to help me calm down and focus. I am amazed at the pain and pressure and overcome with an almost frantic need to push. I am pushing, pushing, pushing, before I can tune into my midwives telling me to ease off. I do the best I can and manage to ease off a bit and direct my energies more constructively. Despite the pain I am overjoyed to know I am so close and my baby will be here any minute. “I know I will feel so good when I see my baby”, I tell myself and this helps me. Kathy tells me to reach down and feel the head and after an initial hesitation I do, surprised again at how soft and smooth it is. I can feel each part of his head I deliver. It hurts! But I know I am close. The head is out and then I am surprised by the fullness and difficulty of the shoulders, which I do not remember from my first birth.
April 7th, 1:20 AM – Nels is born
With one final push I feel my baby being delivered and I am surprised it is already over. I have been kneeling in the tub and so immediately turn around and Ralph tells me later I am saying, “Give me my baby! I want to hold my baby!” to the midwives who are doing their thing. I have a vision of my baby’s long, smooth body floating in the water, the room lit by candlelight in a soft glow. Within seconds he is in my arms and I am crying and Ralph is crying and the whole room is full of a collective soft and surprised murmur. I am holding my child to my chest and saying, “I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it” over and over, feeling so filled with surprise and happiness. The child is perfect and so soft and I feel wonderful. I realize I have done it, I have given birth to a healthy baby in my own home, with my own power.
April 7th, early morning – getting to know you
I stay in the water crying and holding my baby for several minutes before anyone thinks to discover the baby’s sex. I hold my newborn away from my chest and in between squirming legs and the umbilical cord I see we have a boy! Of course, this is perfect. Everything feels perfect! After a few more minutes I am ready to get out of the water and get cleaned up, but I know we have to wait for the delivery of the placenta. I feel like this takes forever but it probably is only a fifteen minute wait. Another surprising feeling of fullness and then the placenta is delivered. Kathy has to pull the cord a bit and gently massage my tummy to get the whole thing in one piece. My mom is on the phone with my dad and has to pass the phone around so she can cut the cord. I am ready to get out and dry off and nurse my second child.
I am helped out of the tub and into some dry clothes. I am so happy to have so much loving help. I prop myself up on the bed and hold my son to my breast. He latches almost immediately like a pro. I keep asking my husband, “Is this really happening?” because it has gone like a dream and I am so happy. After some time of nursing the midwife eventually takes my son to the foot of the bed to weigh him and check his limbs and reflexes. Elizabeth brings me food — cheese, bread, apples and oranges. My pulse is checked and found to be high (100) so I am encouraged to drink a huge glass of water (this happened with my first child, too). My afterpains are intense, more so than with my daughter’s birth, but I know this to be normal. I breathe through them. My daughter Sophie wakes up and is brought into the room, looking cranky and confused. I kiss her and introduce her to her brother (she is unimpressed) and Ralph takes her back to the bedroom to settle her back to sleep. Kathy checks my bottom out and finds only two tiny tears, no need for sutures. The energy of the house is settling, people are packing things, Elizabeth says goodbye. Laura leaves too and I take a shower with Kathy’s help. She stays long enough to give postpartum instructions and asks me to page her when I can pee. I am a little anxious about this myself, for vague fear of a catheter. Kathy leaves about 3:20 and as her car is pulling out I am able to pee, feeling now finally that everything is alright.
My husband is looking dead tired. I am wired and unable to sleep. We send my mom off to bed. I hold my son who is still awake! He is drowsy though and wants to snuggle. At about 4:30 AM I finally fall asleep on the bed, Ralph on the couch, holding his son. We are awakened just before 7 AM to the joyful sounds of our firstborn running through the house talking excitedly to Grandma. Grandma looks like she really needs a cup of coffee.
Nels one year ago:Read More
OK, look. Today was not just about food or anything. No, really, there was a lot of friendship and talk, catching up and cuddles and walks. But like, the company who visited us? Responsible for:
THESE AWESOME CUPCAKES
and this was after:
a taco date al taqueria
cream scones, hot English Breakfast tea, blood oranges (made by Ralph)
Beecher’s Flagship cheddar, two wedges
Spanish almonds from Pasta & Co.
dried fruit crisps: apple, orange from Simple & Crisp
and Honey Hazlenut & Flagship Cheese Crackers (Beecher’s, again)
all-day pot roast & mashed potatoes
a winter fruit salad with lemon poppyseed dressing, apples, dried cherries, and swiss cheese
I have to say, the orange crisps were my favorite. Well, besides the cheddar. Some things are just so amazing to taste. And are also just beautiful, too – the orange crisps look like stained glass.
Phee, opening a few presents:
But Hamilton isn’t happy about anything. She’d like to passive-aggressively remind you, “other people need to use these stairs you know.”Read More
This morning my children, husband, mother and I, as well as my kids’ friend A., hit the road and headed to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium as day ONE of our daughter’s BIRTHDAY EXTRAVAGANZAAAAAAAAAaaA
Tiger cub does BLUE STEEL —
OK then. I took a billion pictures of the red wolves – because I love wolves so much. They are spookily beautiful. Pictures can’t capture it. But maybe this stretch will translate pretty well:
The wolves really do move around in an eerily-coordinated pack; they grapple but silently.
Feeding stinky waterfowl; many were shy about getting a tasty fish:
Dancing Shrimp! You are looking at their tails, here. They were shy and would not turn around, but they did have a coordinated dance going on. They were less than an inch long. Beautiful.
A spooky octopus. No way to get a good photo; I just enjoyed her as she moved about.
A handsome goat that kind of reminds me of Jasmine’s dubstep boyfriend. I refused to take a photo of the even-greedier goat to the left.
The arctic fox. Ralph and I have a great little story about this fella but it’s probably only funny to us. Anyway, my mom was so excited by his cuteness. She laughed and clapped and turned around to smile at Ralph and I as we walked toward her on the trail and I said to him, “the littlest grandma.”
“‘Sup, we’re gibbons. DEAL WITH IT.”
Children in the bamboo, being lovely. Nels:
Peacocking! These peacocks were shady as fuck. Like one creeped a single mama out to her car and stood there watching her and I think she felt a bit weird about it.
Nels took many photos and texted them to his friend D.’s mama. So, there’s that.
Tiger cub, playing! This was rather touching. You could see this fellow really loved the little feline. “Little”, a six month tiger cub about sixty-five pounds of muscle and hungry potentiality. Very powerful to watch, even as a baby.
The two of them kept playing (the guy was like, “I’ve got a tiger, you don’t, so I’m awesome”) but I noticed the tiger would crawl up on the stump behind his human playmate, then jump on his neck and gnaw on it. This is how most tiger attacks go down – from behind, at the neck. And the VAST majority of tiger attacks are successful – for the tiger. (Here are some tiger attack tips! Also, LOLOLO). So anyway it was cute this guy thought the tiger was “playing” but it was actually, “practicing how to kill and eat him.”
This is E.T. the walrus. He is 3300 pounds of sass, and he likes to play with his massive walrus-dick (oosik represent!). While we were watching him he did this magnificent half-somersault, except instead of completing it it grappled his own business and whiskerly-chewed on it.
A photo on the steps; the kids talk about E.T.’s “trick” somersault, because my mom kept calling it a “trick” delightedly as she hadn’t caught the naughty bit of it until the kids finally detailed her a bit.
Two siamangs cuddle after eating bananas. I gotta admit, it is satisfying to watch monkeys eat bananas. And it’s sweet to watch monkeys cuddle. And it’s sad to see monkeys in enclosures.
The touch tanks. Today was kind of special. I got to see the very moment a docent talked my son into touching an anenome; and he did. I got to watch him go from fear, to wonder. It was pretty cool.
Nels, staring down a nurse shark.
After our lengthy stay at the zoo, we traveled to pho, had coffee and doughnuts at the Krispy Kreme (the kids enjoyed watching them make the doughnuts and spent several minutes enthralled), and then I shambled my various coupons into Jo-Ann’s Fabric & Craft for some sewing supplies (I am not much of a coupon-er but FABRIC COUPONS are an organizing principle of my life).
Today was a good day: day one of three of Phee’s birthday. Tomorrow we have some more awesomesauce. We Hogabooms go hard, it must be admitted.Read More