Tuesday, February 26, 2008

I'm not one for surveys

I rarely ever fill out surveys, actually this is the second one of this kind that I have done. Seems like a fun thing to do and Soren is perfectly content to play for a while, so here goes...

1. What is your occupation? Full-time Mama
2. What color are your socks right now? No socks right now. But I do LOVE striped socks!!
3. What are you listening to right now? Ah-ah-ah-da-da-da (in a happy tone...it's very sweet.)
4. What was the last thing that you ate? Some of Soren's breakfast - apples, blueberries, oats, amaranth and quinoa cereal.
5. Can you drive a stick shift? Oh yeah, quite well actually. It's impressive. I drive an automatic usually, but I pick it back up whenever I drive Karl's truck.
6. What color would you be, if you were a color? Purple...isn't this just asking what your favorite color is?
7. Last person you spoke to on the phone? Skylana
8. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Yes I do.
9. How old are you today? 27
10. Favorite drink? Raspberry Italian Cream Soda
11. What is your favorite sport to watch? Volleyball. If Volleyball wasn't on, and there was nothing else to do, I would rather stare at a wall.
12. Have you ever dyed your hair? Yes, it's one of my favorite things to do. I don't do it much anymore though.
13. Pets? 1 saucy Golden Retriver.
14. Favorite food? Sweet Basil Tofu from Thai-riffic - the best!
15. Last movie you watched? "Rendition"
16. Favorite day of the year? Christmas
17. What do you do to vent anger? Cry. I always wish I had a punching bag though when I really need to get it out of me.
18. What was your favorite toy as a child? Barbies and Breyer horses
19. What is your favorite, fall or spring? Fall in Boulder is heaven.
20. Cherry or blueberry? Both fresh, neither cooked.
21. Do you want your friends to e-mail you back? (Speaking generally, not about this survey.) Yeah, I love getting emails from friends ;)
22. Who is most likely to respond? My sister
23. Who is least likely to respond? Flo. She always gets in touch some other way.
24. What are your current living arrangements? Apartment with 1 husband, 1 dog, 1 baby.
25. When was the last time you cried? On Sunday when Karl was going to go to school for the whole day. (He didn't go.)
26. Who is the friend you’ve had the longest that you are sending this to? I'm not really sending it to her, but Flo has been my best friend for almost 22 years!
27. Favorite smell? The top of Soren's head, Weleda baby products and the essential oil of geranium.
28. Plain, cheese or spicy hamburgers? The only hamburger I would ever eat is from In-n-Out - animal style, well done, mustard instead .
29. Favorite car? Cross between a Honda CR-V and Volvo Cross Country.
30. Favorite cat breed? Korat
31. Number of keys on your key ring? 5
32. How many years at your current job? Almost 9 months!
33. Favorite day of the week? Any day that Karl isn't working or at school or doing homework.
34. How many states have you lived in? 4 - California, Colorado, Minnesota, and a village (I know, not a state) in Germany.
35. What is your favorite hobby? I have a lot of things that I would like to be my hobbies, such as crocheting, making cards, scrapbooking. I have started these things many times and never seem to finish anything! I like to read and cook and once in a while I really like baking cakes.
36. Last book you read: "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sticks and Stones

No...not the ones you hurt people with, I'm talking about the ones kids once used as toys. As a nanny, I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time observing which parenting styles worked and which did not. I learned some invaluable lessons during those years, here are the biggies:

1. Babies need LOTS of love - no matter what else is going on!
2. Babies need LOTS of sleep - no matter how much they protest.
3. Babies need good nutrition - no matter how hard or expensive it is to provide it.
4. Babies DO NOT need toys that flash and beep!!

The fourth point is the one I'm going to address in this particular blog, although I'm sure I'll address the others at some point (I'm pretty passionate about all of them!)

This morning Karl came home and wanted me to listen to an episode he heard on NPR entitled "Old-Fashioned Play Builds Serious Skills." The article/episode validated my current disdain for toys that flash lights and play music (noise.) The most appaulling (but not surprising) facts highlighted in this article was how different our kids are since we have introduced these kinds of imagination-killing toys into their lives. Instead of reciting the entire article, you can read it (or listen to it) if you would like here. Basically, we have a problem on our hands with children who do not know how to control themselves and do not know how to play if "Dora the Explorer" is not telling them what to do or a toy isn't lighting up their face as they play with it.

I have heard many parents tell me how they don't like the toys their kids play with or that they think their kids have too many. The weird thing to me is that they do nothing about it, like they are powerless to stop their kids from having these things. Sure, it is more difficult to ignore the commercialism or to kindly ask well-meaning gift-givers to forgo the "fun" toys and give clothes or books instead. Who wants to be the "bad guy?" The truth is, children know how to play instinctively, and it's us (the parents) who ultimately have the power to encourage or inhibit this in them. I know that no loving parent would intentionally curb their child's imagination, but many are unintentionally doing it all the time.

It is certainly not my intention to toot my own horn here - that is a huge peeve of mine in this already overly narcissistic blog world. I simply want to give some "food for thought" to any loving parent who wants the best for their kids - and that may just be a wooden spoon at playtime!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008


On Wednesday, Karl and I decided that we needed to get out of town. It was good timing since Karl did not have a thing to do this weekend (I don't remember the last time that has happened!) Our friends Jon and Kari from Wisconsin were going to be in San Diego for the weekend, so that became our destination. It was a whirlwind trip but so worth every rushed minute of it. We gave Soren another chance at being a good road tripper, and boy did he meet prove himself (although he had only 12 hours in the car as opposed to 50 on our last trip to WA.)

This post would be a lot more interesting if I actually had pictures to show you of our activities, but we were so busy, we forgot to get the camera out to capture them! So picture this...

We pack up the car and head out of town on Friday afternoon. Meet up with Karl's cousin Brandon for dinner at California Pizza Kitchen in Thousand Oaks. Check into our hotel in San Diego around 10:30pm.

We get up at 7:30 on Saturday morning, get in the car to find something to eat. Find a cool, locally owned natural grocery store and get smoothies and baby food. Go back to the hotel to take Soren for his first swim. (This is where a picture would come in handy.) Swim takes about 3 minutes as the pool is too cold for little babies. Go back to the room and get ready for the day. Meet our long-lost friends for some yummy Thai lunch. Stuff our faces. Drive to Encinitas to walk along the beach. (Picture would be nice.) Stop for some coffee and treats. Head back to the hotel with just enough time to change. Meet up with Jon and Kari again at a fancy restaurant called "Venice" for some delectable Italian fare. Stuff our faces once more. Call it a night and say goodbye at 10:00pm.

The next morning we got up early to head down to La Jolla to meet Karl's cousin Märit for brunch. After trying to find parking for 45 minutes, we had lunch in an old beach house - complete with whitewashed walls and painted blue hardwood floors (a picture is worth a thousand words.) After our brief visit, we got back in the car and started our journey back home.

Trips like these are refreshing for us and we both need a little change of scenery, even for a few days, once in a while. What's even better is sharing it with family and friends! We hope that Soren grows up to love a spontaneous adventure every now and then and will be blessed with amazing friends and family like we have.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Lundeen Factor

Soren plays hardball over black beans and avocado. I think we might have a future pundit on our hands. Maybe someday he'll be on The Colbert Report!?

Friday, February 8, 2008

8 months with Soren

Yesterday Soren turned 8 months old...a fact that absolutely blows my mind. It honestly feels like a few days ago that I birthed him into this world, but our lives have been so wrapped up in him for the past 8 months that it's hard to imagine life without him. I have wanted to write a blog about my birth experience and I figure that there's no time like 8 months after the fact to do it! So here goes (in a nutshell - it was 21 hours long!)...

On June 6, two days after my "due date", my water broke at 10:00am while I was on the phone with my friend Sarah. I had no contractions at that point, so I called my midwife to let her know and then I carried on with my day. I remember walking Violet over to the bank that day and the teller asked me when I was due, I told her that my water had broken that morning and she all but called 911 to have them take me to the hospital. I assured her that I did not need to be at the hospital and that walking was actually one of the best things I could be doing at that time.

Karl went to school and work that day while I prepared our house for the birth. After he got home from school we went out to eat at Cabo San Luis (I had a good excuse to not make dinner that night.) I wouldn't know until later that the contractions actually started as I was eating those scrumptious fish tacos. The sensation was much different than what I had anticipated, just an intense pressure in my pelvis - a menstrual period times ten.

At around 9pm, I called my family and those who were planning to be at the birth to let them know that I thought I was probably going into labor soon. Everyone was on standby until things picked up. Karl and I got ready for bed around 10, knowing that we would have a long day ahead of us in the morning. We got in bed and it quickly became obvious to me that we would not be sleeping that night. I finally realized that the strange pressures I had been feeling in my pelvis were the contractions I had been waiting for. I then labored on the toilet and in the shower until midnight and then we called our midwife when the contractions got close together and I was not able to talk through them.

The birth team slowly trickled in our house as I labored in bed, with my birth playlist on the computer and my Aveda candles burning to calm me. I was so proud of myself for handling the pain with complete relaxation, just like we had learned to do in 10 weeks of Bradley classes. The pain was completely localized in my pelvis and lower back, I had no pain whatsoever in my abdominal area like I had planned for. (I would later come to realize that I was experiencing "back labor.")

My midwife let me labor for a few more hours before she checked me, but I was convinced, because of the intensity of the pressure in my pelvis, that this baby was coming soon. The assistants started to fill up the tub in our dining room in preparation for my planned waterbirth. I started labor already being 1 centimeter dilated, so it came as a huge shock when my midwife announced that I was only 3 centimeters dilated. I tried not to get discouraged, because I knew things like this happened and I was prepared to let Soren come on his own terms. My midwife, however, was not thrilled about the lack of progress especially because I started running a low-grade fever and Soren's heart rate was becoming a little erratic. She gave me 2 hours to progress significantly, so I quickly got out of my relaxing "den" and started to walk around the apartment complex to speed things along. Karl, my best friend Flo and my doula came along for the stroll, each taking turns holding my IV bag or me as I walked/contracted.

After watching the sun come up while I diligently walked my way through labor, I was checked again, this time positive that I would almost be ready to push. "Oh honey", were the next words I heard out of my midwife's mouth. I could tell by her tone of voice and the look on her face that she was about to announce bad news. I was only 5 centimeters and my fever was not going down. I knew at that moment that I would not be having the home birth I wanted and planned for. I had a meltdown on my bed while Flo talked to me about how I was feeling. Her words were so encouraging to me and she helped me think straight through the pain and disappointment. She knew that I wanted the safest possible outcome for Soren, so I didn't have to worry about sounding selfish for mourning the loss of the birth I had hoped for.

At approximately 7 am we all drove to the hospital for what has now been deemed in my memory as "the longest 10 minutes ever spent in the car." When we arrived at French Hospital I was greeted by the nicest nurses who encouraged me birth however I felt comfortable. So I refused the ugly hospital gown and tried all of the tricks they had on hand to help me labor effectively - birthing ball, squatting bar, toilet, long hallways, etc.

At 12 noon, 26 hours after my water broke, I started to get the urge to push. I felt so relieved that I would be over the pain and finally be able to meet my little one soon. Well, soon was not as soon as I thought. After the first 2 hours of pushing, I was starting to get a little discouraged. The on-call midwife consulted with my midwife and told her that she would prefer I get an epidural and start on Pitocin to help things progress faster. She made sure to inform her that this was a conservative treatment plan, as the on-call OB would have preferred to start prepping the OR for a C-Section. Karl and I discussed it, and after finding out that both the baby and I were doing just fine (albeit exhausted) we refused both options and continued what we had been doing. After probably a hundred announcements from my encouraging birth team (all of whom had birthed without drugs) that I had "one more push" to go, I started to give up hope that I would ever see this so-called baby.

After 3 hours and 15 minutes of using every ounce of my strength to get Soren out, he slid out into the hands of the on-call midwife and Karl. He was immediately placed on my chest, like we had requested but I was too exhausted to lift my head up to look at him. When my mom helped me lift my head up, my eyes could not focus on his face. It was as if everything went into shut-down mode as soon as he was out. No feelings of elation, no adrenalin rush, no shouting or tears of joy - just sheer exhaustion and relief that it was over. It didn't take long for me to fall more in love with that little bundle than I had been before. There is nothing like looking at the face of your own child for the first time and the love that you feel for them compares to nothing else.

We spent the night in the hospital that night so they could keep an eye on me after a very exhausting labor and pretty significant blood loss after the birth. After how hesitant I was going to the hospital, it was strangely bittersweet leaving. I had been through something pretty traumatic (as much as I hate to admit that, it was) and I liked the feeling of having people devoted to taking care of me around the clock. Once we got home, I felt relaxed and excited although the reminders of my planned home birth put an ache in my heart that would not go away until several weeks later.

I am thankful for how the story of Soren's birth played out, although it couldn't have been further from what I had hoped and planned for. I guess this is what happens when you are patient enough and willing to let birth unfold how it may, instead of forcing it to happen how someone else thinks it should.

Well, I finished this post in the exact time Soren needed for his afternoon nap and now he is squealing in his crib for me to come pick him up. I am so overwhelmed by how special this little guy is and just how much I love him. There is no other task on earth that can humble a person as much as being a parent, and I am thankful for the chance to do it.