silent all these years

in 2007, my “career” in the christian worship industry was brought to a grinding hault…
which brought a lot of my beliefs around faith, the church and leadership into question for me.

in 2008 i was divorced.

in 2009 i became an abusive relationship survivor
and in 2010 i became a single mother to newborn twins.

in 2011 i was given another chance at love as a 2nd wife to my 2nd husband.

in 2012 i was given a job that i love that has nothing to do with the church.

i have spent years fighting a mighty battle with what was at one time a crippling depression (as evidenced
here, here, and yes, probably here too...) it cripples me no longer.

and 2013 i will try to find what i have to say, if anything… yet again.

“sometimes i hear my voice
i hear my voice
i hear my voice and it’s been here...
silent all these years.”


you think you're scared of camping now? just you wait...

in an effort to be both amusing and cute, J. posted on his facebook wall his list of fears regarding our camping trip to the BWCA this weekend. allow me to share both his post here, and my rebuttle.

J. writes:

"This weekend my girlfriend ... is taking me camping (way) up north. I have not been camping since High School. While I am very excited and have been looking forward to it all week, I do have a few reservations. The following is a list of my concerns.

1) Rattle snakes. ‘Hope I don’t get bit by one. Believe me, I will be. Guaranteed!

2) Bears. ‘Hope I don’t get eaten by one.

3) Tics. ‘Hope I don’t become home to one.

4) Swimming in the Lake. I can’t swim. While flailing around I hope I don’t attract a gigantic muskellunge who considers me any easy meal. And Ashley, no dunking!

5) Family style BBQ. Hope we don’t become unwitting participants in one (and yes, for those keeping track at home that is a Butthole Surfers reference).

6) This is the sound of an Elk mating call: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jNVx10VF9ss
Surprisingly and not without a teeny bit of irony, this call is very similar to the sound Ashley makes when she snores. So, what happens if, in the morning, I unzip the tent only to find a herd of Elk have made our campsite their nesting grounds? What then? Show me the camping survival reference guidebook that has a chapter on that, you can’t.

7) Cliffs. Hope I don’t get vertigo and fall off of one.

8) I forget what 8 was for.

9) ‘Hope I don’t come back a hippy.

10) ‘Hope we don’t encounter the Blair Witch. Hey, it could happen.

11) Lastly, I hope I don’t come back loving jam bands like phish, the Grateful Dead, etc. To prevent this, I’m going to load Ashley’s IPod with Husker Du, Daft Punk, Slipknot .

and now, for my rebuttle.

1) you needn't fear snakes in minnesota, for only three snakes are native to the north country: the eastern garter snake (thamnophis sirtalis), the northern redbelly snake (storeria occipitomaculata), and the northern ringneck snake (diadophis punctatus), none of which are poisonous. however, should the one and only displaced rattlesnake in minnesota happen to make it's way into our tent? i offer the following from bear grylls: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WzMHVbQc0rA

2) black bears have been known to be a nuisance in northern minnesota, and their tales are many and legendary. and although i have been known to torture my friends on previous BWCA trips with a somewhat unwarranted fear of black bears, if one should wander into our campsite, they are most likely looking for food scraps or perhaps a warm cuddle.

in bill bryson's book "into the wild", he tells the tale of a family picnicking along the eastern seaboard who encountered a black bear during their joyous meal. thinking the bear was harmless and seeing a photo opportunity, the matriarch dipped her infants hand in a jar of honey and held it out to the bear while smiling for the camera her husband was operating. the bear thusly ripped off the infant's hand and forearm. and still, another story in the same book tells a tale of a boy scout who fell asleep in his tent with a snickers candy bar in his sleeping bag. later in the night, a black bear, obviously mad from the scent of caramelly-noughatty-goodness, ripped the tent apart and dragged the boy into the woods. by the time the scout leader stumbled awake to rescue the boy, both the snickers bar and the boy were half digested.

because of these stories, i am not bringing either of my infants, a snickers bar, a boy scout, or a jar of honey.

3) tick's can be a nuisance, this is true. but i have been bitten many a time and survived with my sanity and limbs generally in tact. of the things to fear in northern minnesota, tick's are not high on my list. being a good and native new yorker, i fear a crazy murderer on the run from the law who just might happen upon our happy campsite before i fear anything nature can induce.

4) swimming is a necessity in northern minnesota, especially when there are no showers to be found. if J. refuses to swim, he will not be sleeping in my tent. this is a very simple equation. swimming in lake + no available showers = happy J. sleeping in warm tent next to beautiful girlfriend. refusing to swim in lake + no available showers = J. sleeping on the cold, hard ground while beautiful (clean) girlfriend sleeps soundly inside tent.

5) i am surprised that J. and i have made it this far in our budding relationship, as i know nothing about the butthole surfers, husker du (pronounced "husker do", right?), slipknot or mountain biking. i digress...

6) i think facebook is an unnecessary place to disclose the nightly habits and/or rituals of one's partner. and because i care deeply for J., i will spare you all of his nightly habits and/or rituals.

7) cliffs? this is minnesota. i think the biggest cliff we have in these parts is the stone arch bridge.

8) nice reference... "10, 10, 10, 10, everything, everything, everything, everything..."

9) hippies are not the only genre of person to take to the woods. but it is, primarily and unfortunately, a caucasian-dominated recreational activity.

10) yes, 'tis true. i saw the blair witch film in theaters when it first came out WHILE ON A CAMPING TRIP. we thought it a good rainy-day activity versus sitting in a stuffy, drippy tent. i do not recommend seeing this movie before embarking on a camping trip. which brings me to my top five things NOT to see before camping:
sean penn's adaptation of 'into the wild'
michael jackson's "thriller" music video
any of the friday the 13th movies
stand by me
brokeback mountain

11) see #5.


sleep training twins will make one question the existence of god

in my household of two babies, we have what i consider to be a sleeping "problem". and just for the record, yes, i do consider the fact that i have not gotten more than five hours of consecutive sleep in the past eight months a significant problem... for me.

i did some research today and, asides from realizing that we are doing a handful of things right when it comes to teaching a baby to put themselves to sleep, there are a handful of things that we seem to be doing wrong. after reading approximately four chapters of "the perfect guide to putting your perfect baby to sleep in a perfect fashion so that you can call yourself a perfect mama".com, i wondered if i might be keeping my babies up too late in the evening. the method that i read said, quite simply, that all of your middle-of-the-night problems would be solved if you put your baby in his or her crib when they are drowsy, but still awake. typically, i wait until my babies are so tired that they are rubbing their eyes and crying themselves silly before i put them in their cribs for the night. and the 30 - 90 minutes that follow said putting-in-crib are a test of wills, patience, and above all, an exercise in complete futility and exhaustion.

so this evening, i attempted to watch for signs that they were drowsy, but not yet overtired, and put them in their cribs at that point. that was at 6:15. dare i say this aloud, but save for a little bit of vocalizations from nash about three minutes ago, they've been sleeping ever since.

now, i may pay for this at 3:00 a.m. when nash and zeke decide that it's time to wake up and conquer july 27th, 2010 once and for all! but we shall see. until then, i'll take a few hours of peace and quiet in my house, and a bedtime routine that doesn't involve bailing wire, countless trips to the nursery with earmuffs, and vodka.


two parts panic, one part excitement

i am now twenty-eight weeks pregnant with these two little burgeoning babes and find myself waffling between utter and complete panic, excitement… then right back into panic.

the panic stems from the reality that, very soon, i will be the sole caregiver for two bodies, two spirits, two souls that have been entrusted to my care by someThing greater than myself who obviously thinks i am capable of such a thing… which leaves me feeling two ways - #1) i am more than slightly inadequate for such a daunting task, and #2) this someThing greater obviously doesn’t know me.

the panic also stems from the fact that i have never held a baby for longer than 15 seconds without thrusting the screaming-red-faced-nightmare back into the soothing arms of its mother. i don’t know. there’s just always been something about me and babies – i make them scream their heads off. and in a very short period of time, i am going to, supposedly, be that soothing presence of "mom" for not only one, but two screaming-red-faced-nightmares beautiful babes. i have also never in my life changed a diaper... not even on a doll. and, yes, very soon i will be changing two babies' diapers with some dreadful frequency.

oh, but in the midst of this panic and fear of the unknown, i am stricken with excitement that my entire life is about to change… forever. i will never again not be a mama to these two babes – no matter what may happen. what a beautiful gift i have been given.

i know there will be many moments of joy and beauty amidst the fumbling craziness that is soon to come. my only hope is that the moments of joy and beauty are enough to hold me fast and steady through the moments of panic and fear which will surely continue until i am no longer on this earth.


and here we are, at twenty weeks

this week, i am twenty weeks pregnant.

from what i've heard, twenty weeks is a milestone. it's usually around the time you have the "big ultrasound" where they check for all important limbs, body parts, and specifically, those body parts. around twenty weeks, most women start to feel those first few baby kicks. twenty weeks is also the exact mid-point of your forty week pregnancy. twenty weeks down, twenty to go.

however, i am having twins. which means that i will most likely meet this two little creatures earlier than forty weeks. we could wind up face-to-faces around thirty-four weeks or anytime thereafter.

"so what?" you may be wondering.

well, i'll tell you what. i am losing sleep at night over the thought that i'm more than half way through my pregnancy and have nothing to show for it other than countless pairs of elastic waist pants and a fridge stocked full of food for my ever-increasing appetite. but that is pretty much all i have to show for myself at this twenty week milestone - a bigger belly, a voracious appetite, and bigger, more flexible pants.

the room we have designated as the "baby-baby room" is a vacant, un-painted, dreary disaster of leftover and yet-to-be-unpacked items from our move one month ago... we have researched carseats, cribs and strollers but have not made any decisions or purchased anything... we haven't decided what kind or type of slings we'll need, nor have we made a decision on what kind of cloth diapers will be best...

i had hoped that my thrust into motherhood would be the kind that my friends would admire or write to their own mothers about - a blissfully organized week-by-week planning guide to motherhood with items ticked off of a to-do list in a manner that would make martha stewart foam at the mouth. instead, i am as disorganized and behind-the-proverbial-eight-ball as one could possibly be.

i know i can do better than this, but i am just so damn tired... and hungry.


... and then there were two

'round about the end of march, i wound up pregnant.

i guess the phrase "wound up pregnant" doesn't really quite fit. it's not as if i did nothing to bring this on. but this was definitely not planned. we were not trying to get pregnant. we had not seriously talked about starting a family anytime in the next decade. in fact, due to a medical diagnosis that my partner received in his younger years, we indeed thought it impossible to ever have children together without external and medical, eh-hem, "intervention".

the weeks that followed the discovery of those two little pink lines on not only one, two, or three, but seven different pregnancy tests, were a mixture of panic, excitement, fear and trembling. as the days ticked by, the panic began to subside into peace and i began to feel more and more okay with the idea of growing another human for the next nine months and then welcoming that human into this broken world with some modicum of sanity, a bounty of mistakes and an ample amount love.

so as i was, quite literally, just barely starting to wrap my head and heart around the idea of having a baby ("a" baby, meaning one, singular, solo) i went in for my first OB appointment. i was about 8 weeks pregnant. chris was not with me at this appointment as i figured it would be the standard OB/GYN rigamaroll, and let's just be honest - no one really wants an audience for this.

i will never forget the moment that the nurse practitioner "got in there" (pardon the bluntness, but if you're a regular reader of my blog you are used to it by now...) and said "well, both pregnancies look great". at this point, my lack of knowledge regarding conception, the female reproductive system and babies in general reared it's ugly head as i responded with - "both pregnancies? what, is one of them the placenta or something?" the nurse simply smiled and stated quite plainly, as if reading me the weather report for the next five days, "no, my dear. you are having twins."

i do believe that my heart stopped for approximately 8 seconds.

at the conclusion of this appointment, i walked to my car, clutching the ultrasound pictures of two little circular blobs in my sweaty hands. i fell into the car seat in wracking sobs. i had to talk to someone, but telling chris over the phone seemed somewhat cold and innappropriate. so, of course, i called my mother.

i happened to catch her at a thruway stop somewhere along the eastern seaboard. i believe she may have been in a dunkin' donuts. she answered the phone and heard my trembling voice squeak out "mom? i'm having twins..." . i believe at this point, she laughed with sheer joy and announced to the entire dunkin' donuts that she was going to be a first time grandma to twins. this was not exactly the "support" i was expecting, but her joy and excitement quickly eased my panic and fear. in fact, it became contagious.

i went into work and immediately walked to chris' desk. he knew that i had an appointment that morning and i'm sure he was somewhat fearful and nervous of what they might find. i walked into his cube and said "we need to talk. now." chris has since told me that i was white as a sheet. we walked into an empty conference room and sat down. i pried the now crinkled and sweaty ultrasound pictures from my trembling fist and simply slid them across the table towards him, not saying a word. he looked at it for a moment, and then gave me a big smile and said "...... two?!"

a lot has happened since then, as i am now 19 weeks along. i have stumbled into the vast and somewhat chaotic sea of all-things-baby including, but not limited to:
  • crib comparisons
  • ring sling and baby wrap shopping
  • support groups for mama's of twins
  • cloth versus disposable diaper debates
  • car seat shopping
  • maternity pants (quite possibly the only proof that there is, in fact, a God)
  • various birthing plans for twins
  • attachment parenting resources
  • breast feeding forums
  • organic pregnancies
  • prenatal yoga classes
  • stroller comparisons

all of this and i find myself somewhere in the middle of feeling "i'm only 19 weeks along" and "holy-crap-i'm-already-19-weeks-along".

so consider yourself officially welcomed onto this journey... this miraculous event that has taken over and changed me, forever and for the rest of my life.


why ashley rebekah is such a universe-sized idiot...

alright. here's what happened.

for the past 10 days or so, i've been having "trouble" with my car. and by "trouble", i mean it hasn't been starting.i decided it was time to take the car in to the shop when levi (my brittany spaniel) and i got stuck in a chilly grocery store parking lot on tuesday night. i have lately taken to running errands with my dog. he's alone for such a massive part of the day that it is simply too heart breaking to leave him again in the evenings for errand running. so i usually throw him into the car and we errand together.

back to tuesday night.

after about 3 tries in that chilly parking lot, the car did finally turn over. levi, bearing witness to all the drama and panic of this event, gave me a look that only a disappointed child or dog could give it's irresponsible parent, as if to say "when are you going to start acting like a grown up and take better care of ME???". i sighed, gave levi a sideways glance as he tilted his curly auburn head in shame and embarrassment. i picked up the phone, called toyota, and made an appointment for friday.

which brings us to this morning. just wait... i'm getting to the idiot part.

bright and early, after about 4 cups of coffee and 6 attempts to start the car, it finally did start. i drove the car out to the shop, stepped out of my car, gave the nice technician my keys and explained the situation. he walked over to my car, opened the door and sat in the drivers seat to take down the usual information (VIN #, mileage, etc). but then, he stepped out of the car and kindly summoned me - "ma'am? i think i know what your problem is..."

yeah. my FLOOR MAT was all crumpled up under the clutch, so the clutch wasn't quite making contact enough to start the car.

for this, i woke up at 5:15 a.m., showered and drove 15 miles.