Monday, March 1, 2010

The strangest birthday request

"Hey mom - for my birthday can you take me to see dead bodies?"

Yeah, that probably hasn't been heard before. But it's what I asked my mom for my birthday. For us to go to the Bodies exhibit, currently in Seattle.

It makes sense for someone like me, completely in love with the science of the human body. And I knew my mom would be excited to go too. My sister also jumped up at the chance, with more enthusiasm than I had seen in a while. Hubby also decided to go, so the 4 of us went to Seattle. To see dead people. Even better, to PAY to see dead people.

Gosh, when I say it like that it sounds creepy. But I loved it. It was fascinating. It was beautiful.

Using a special preservation process, donated bodies that have voluteered for the program are disected in special ways to highlight various systems or organs. And when I say "special", I mean "how in the holy heck did they do that?".

Immediately when we walked in, we went to the "touching booth" - the only thing you were allowed to touch. There was a kidney and the temporal lobe of the brain. This just fueled my fire. I wanted more. Must see more. There was an almost complete central nervous system - just the brain, eyes, and central nerves laid out. Sections of the brain were in another display case - one showed the aftermath of a stroke. Then a full body stood up and positioned "in action" (well, almost full - the abdomen was exposed and the skin was absent). This body freaked me out for a moment - it still had eyelashes. Holy cow - eyelashes? It was the moment that made it real for me. These were real bodies. Real humans. Real people. Wow.

My favorite highlights of the exhibit:

* Two bodies stood facing each other, touching hands. One was the skeleton, the other muscles and a little skin. Wait - it's not two bodies - it's the same body, just the skeleton separated out. Try to imagine that.

* Lungs were shown - both healthy and with lung cancer from smoking. And another with emphysema from smoking. Ok, I've seen this before - the highlight to me was that there was a giant plexiglass box next to the unhealthy lungs where visitors could put in their cigarettes. And my sister (almost) did. (she didn't have a backup plan - patches - with her and she didn't want to kill us.) That was a highlight. It's not too late, sis.

* They had several organs as well as a complete body showing just the circulatory system. They injected a polymer plastic into the veins, and then chemically dissolved the rest. So what was left was just veins, arteries and the heart. Wow.

* An entire body was laid out - how do I say? In the natural position? Except that it was all in micro cross sections separated by about an inch. I can't even describe it accurately. The video on the site for the Seattle exhibit shows it.

* A highlight - that also brought me to tears - was the fetus displays. It was in a completely separate section with a sign warning visitors what the exhibit was, reminding them that all babies were lost naturally and legally volunteered, and encouraging visitors to make sure they wanted to see before proceeding. I wasn't sure. I waited. I made sure that hubby was with me. I took a deep breath. And I walked in. It was fascinating. I think I was able to pretend for a bit that it wasn't real. And it was beautiful to see the creation of life in process. The miracle that occurs to make this tiny - so tiny - embryo grow into a fetus - then bigger into a viable human. Seeing the miracle of God in front of me was amazing. Then I saw a baby that was 15 weeks - as old as our baby. And for a moment I thought "awww - how amazing - that's just like our little baby". And then the very next moment I realized that the baby in front of my eyes didn't make it. And what would happen if our baby... oh boy. That was it. I quietly slipped out, had to sit down, and tried to catch my breath. I had a few tears, but I'm still glad that I went in.

All in all, an amazing opportunity. It furthered my love for this amazing science. It made me hunger for more. And, I must say, it was an excellent birthday present. Thanks, mom! =)

PS: I spared the faint of heart by not posting pictures. But if you want to see some, there are plenty online. Definintely worth a look. It's fascinating.

Monday, February 1, 2010

For my 3 year old girl

For my grown-up big girl, my wonder, my baby forever.

How is it possible that just yesterday I was holding your hands while you learned to take your first steps? And the day before that I was holding you in one arm and you would fall asleep on my chest?

Your first word was "no". And your daddy and I looked at each other and asked "oh boy - does that count as her first word?" And now you are talking so much - beyond full sentences and full thoughts. You and I can practically have philosophical conversations together. You never cease to impress me. Recently you were looking out the window looking for animals and you turned to me and said "mommy, Jesus loves all the animals just like he loves me!" You blow me away.

And you drive me crazy too. I'll admit it. You test every inch of your mommmy's patience. For me to be able to love you even when you drive me nuts... well, that's strong love, little girl. You may never know how much I really love you. I may not ever truly understand it.

You are a very, very independent girl. Oh wow. If there is one thing that I hear you say over and over, it is "I want to do it my very own self!" You love to help me, especially in the kitchen. Any job that you can do yourself makes you so happy. As long as you actually want to do it, of course. You are a toddler, after all.

But sometimes I see past that baby/toddler grin and I see a glimpse of the future - of who you will be. I love that. I try to cherish every moment with you because I know that future is coming fast.

Now you're going to be a big sister. And I think you will be a fabulous big sister. I think you already are.

3 years old. Going on 20. =) You really do crack me up. And I love you. More than words can say.

Happy birthday, Catherine Eleanore. Happy birthday to you.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Long time no see

It's been 245 days since my last blog. Laziness? no. Nothing to talk about? Definitely not. I think that I've been wrapped up in that "other" site, doing my updates there. Anyone who cares enough to read this is also there, so why double up? That's my theory.

Now I have much more to talk about. We're having a baby!! So I can throw out a few pregnancy updates on the "other" site, but I feel like talking baby stuff all. the. time. There's more room for that here. hee hee.

My due date is August 20, which means that I am about one quarter the way there. Whew!

#1 difference with this one is that I have an almost-3-year-old to chase around while trying to deal with nauseousness and fatigue. One of my first thoughts when we found out was "well, this will be fun".

Speaking of which, Punky is requesting my attention. Hopefully more to come. =)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Songs of change

I get the feeling that we are moving into a time of transition. And I don't mean to reference the world and society, which is arguably in its own transition between changing leaders and the changing face of our economy. No, I mean this quite selfishly. There is a lot of change on the horizon for me and my family.

To run through briefly:

- I am (hopefully - crossing fingers) starting nursing school in fall.
- Stephen and I will no longer be singing with the Seattle Bach Choir with no immediate plans for singing anywhere else.
- Stephen's mom (who is Catherine's day care provider) is losing her house and therefore her day care. She will still be watching her grandkids, but that will be (get ready for it...) at our house!
- Two very dear friends of ours, and part of Catherine's godfamily, will be moving overseas and they will be missed very much.

Alright, so the list doesn't look very long when I write it like that. But these are huge, life altering changes for us. Interwoven between these changes are doubts, unknowns, hope, excitement, sadness, and... emptiness.

The emptiness I mention here only refers to the change of us not singing any more. We decided to stop singing with this choir because of our changing priorities and the political garbage that has been happening within the choir. It has nothing to do with us not wanting to sing. Unfortunately singing for us this past year has meant a weekly 2 hour round trip to Seattle and the stress of dealing with ridiculous ... ugh... grrr... just plain stupidness. (for the lack of a better way to really explain it) It has been less joy and more stress, which is not what singing is meant to be.

It's the right decision, but it leaves me feeling very sad. Making this decision brought upon a lot of soul searching for me. I closely examined what singing means to me, and where my voice and music experience and capibilities could bring me. It led me to an unexpected path - realizing and accepting the limitations of my skill. I've always been insecure about my voice. My voice is much more of a supporting role, not a leading actress. And not even in a Judi_Dench kind of way. More like a person in the chorus in a musical. And in the back row at that. So this has always been at the back of my mind in the form of insecurity. It's different now - this is knowing my limitations.

"Come on Brie, don't say that! You're great! Believe in yourself!"

OK, I know, I know. But it's not like that. It was hard coming to this conclusion. I've fought for so long to give myself confidence. And I just couldn't understand that if God gave me this gift, what use is it if I'm not good enough to really use it? The answer that I was given for this very question is what gave me the acceptance I needed: just because you have a gift from God does not mean that you have to be the best in it, and just because you are not the best does not mean that it is not a gift from God.

So I will still sing. I will sing with Catherine and teach her to love music. I will sing in the shower. I will sing in the garden. I've been thinking about joining my church choir again, if my new schedule in fall allows. And I will sing karaoke, oh YES! I love my karaoke!!! But will I sing Mozart, Bach, Eben, Britten, Poulenc...? I don't know. Maybe again someday. But for now I will remember and cherish all of the incredible memories that we have with this choir and choirs that I've been with previously. I will enjoy our last concert this weekend. And we will move on.

Mother's day, part two

My mom and sis came up to visit last weekend, making it the second part of mother's day for me. On Saturday we went up to Seattle and walked around downtown. That night I had the performace with the Puget Sound Symphony Orchestra, so they got to come to that. And of course Stephen came up for that, as well as his dad and new girlfriend, Claire. After the performance we went to the Cheesecake Factory. We had a great time laughing and enjoying the best desserts on earth.
Sunday they got to spend some more time with Catherine, and we went to the ZOO!! Lots of fun and lots of pictures!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Mother's day, part one

Pictures from the first part of my mother's day, which was Sunday morning. We had breakfast at Jen's church with some family, and then got to play in the park for a little bit. My mother's day present from Stephen? Besides being all around supportive and extra attentive that day? A couple of new garden tools, which I had asked for since mine broke not just 2 days before, and a stack of clear plastic organizing bins. OK, so I like to organize, but I didn't know what he was getting at. Then he explained that the bins come with a promise - for him to organize all of his computer/electronic components and parts. YEA!!!!!!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

mother's day

I've been struggling with mother's day this year. I'm down that I've had to work on Mother's day weekend for the last 3 years. And not just a little work shift that makes doing anything else inconvenient. More like working 20 hours in 2 days and work swallowing up my whole weekend. If you've heard me complain about this a million times already I sincerely apologize and thank you for letting me vent. But I'm sorry, it sucks.

A month ago I told Stephen that I wanted to forget that mother's day existed this weekend and I announced that in our household mother's day would officially be the following weekend. As the day got closer, I changed my mind. To be a mother and to have to miss out on the one special day a year that is all about the appreciation that we secretly (or not so secretly) crave, it just bummed me out. Even if I can't fully participate, I want to join in just a little bit.

So we'll go to breakfast at Jen's church so I can be with her (whom I've shared every motherhood experience since we were both pregnant together) and my godmother/mother-in-law, Theresa. At least for a short time. And more importantly, I'm making every minute spent with Catherine count, before I have to leave. And then my mom and sister are coming up next weekend to spend some special time. So it will be nice. It will work out.

Then there's the gifts - the tokens of the above-mentioned appreciation. I've struggled with this as well, and I'm just now realizing why. I guess I haven't quite figured out yet what to expect as a mother myself. Ever since I've became a mom there is only one thing to truly expect for this day: work. But what do I want for gifts, what do I expect from those around me whom I am craving this appreciation from?

So I thought about it - what have I done for my mom for 30 years? There's been the handmade cards, the flowers, the breakfast in bed. A gift every once in a while - usually handmade. But one thing was always the same - spending time with mom. And maybe an especially tight hug and a special kiss.

So is that my problem? Because I can't have the time that I want with my family, I'm looking for something else? I kept giving Stephen hints about things that I wanted. Because it's not about gifts. It's about time together. It's about saying "thank you" and "I love you". And maybe a handmade card or some other little, hearfelt token to specially say these things.

It's times like this that I still feel like a new mom. I'm still figuring these things out. I usually have a pretty good idea of what to do for my mom. But for me? What do I want? I'll just have to take a cue from the pros. ;)