Till the Wheels Come Off

Ravenna West, Part Three
September 6, 2012, 12:39 am
Filed under: 2309, Family, Love, Photo

End of the line, folks. Tom’s last little bit is below. Thanks again for reading about my darling little girl’s arrival and for all of the encouragement.


So, dear friends and hippies of all decades, I have become that guy: the one who talks about his homebirth experience. How it was a spiritually-enlightening, eye-opening, No way! kind of experience. After re-reading this, I realize that I expend a lot of effort at not being certain things, rather than unabashedly letting my flag fly for the outlandish and marvelous things I do believe in and love. I imagine this outlandish and marvelous little girl will help me do just that.

Aside from my little girl’s birth, I should mention something else significant that happened a few weeks ago. I became Dad. Not a Dad, just “Dad.”

I always thought “Daddy” was far too precious and even tried to get Rocco to just stick with those first three letters when he first started muttering, “Da!”, but I eventually—and happily—learned to accept my full term of endearment.

Although this dad finally got what he wanted, he’s secretly looking forward to once again hearing “Daddy?!” from the lips of someone on tiptoes reaching for a countertop prize or, more likely, hoping to receive a sentencing pardon from their bunk.

As I write this, I’m sitting on the back porch of a friend’s beach house—close enough that I could easily (and happily) toss this computer into the lazy tide of the Puget Sound—while my best shot at Daddy v.2 practices her abilities to summon a Big Person with yells, screams and squalls from inside.

I’m going to go inside now and teach her that calling my name, in any form, will work every time. And despite being far-less equipped than Mom (anatomically or emotionally) to satisfy her needs, I’m going to remind her that, unlike Mom, I lead the best adventures, cook a tastier breakfast and make the finest pillow forts in all the land.


Ravenna West, Part Two
September 4, 2012, 11:46 pm
Filed under: 2309, Family, Love

Thanks for reading yesterday, everyone. As promised, Part Two:


Once we officially became clients of Carmon, within the next few days we borrowed and set up an inflatable birthing pool in our bedroom (which Rocco thought was the finest idea anyone had dreamed up since the rocket launch at his third birthday party), we began stockpiling Carmon’s list of homebirth supplies (on that very, very small chance that both car and uterus would stay parked at home) and proceeded to feel an unmerited calm between the two of us given our change of plan that felt as orchestrated as it was unprecedented.

And so, a few days later on a late Monday night, I called Carmon (who had already spent almost two days at another home birth) after Kate’s contractions had kicked into high-gear. Not wanting to be the hair-trigger parents—“Now? Now! I think it’s now. Wait, no… now!”—I told her that I’d keep her posted with Kate’s progress, but that she probably didn’t need to come yet. At this point, it was just Kate and I in our bedroom with candlelight, a good playlist and a not-empty-for-long bassinet by our bedside. Kate would enjoy 3-4 minutes of nonchalant conversation and trivial requests (“I wonder what Roc’s doing right now. Did you put the towels in the dryer?”) after which she’d hold my hands and breathe through contractions that tested her pain tolerance and developed within her an Einsteinian sense of the immense space contained within a single minute.

Fairly soon, her mom arrived to compensate for my utter lack of massage technique. Next, I was calling Carmon around 11:45p to artfully say, “The water! It broke!”, and Carmon was immediately en route, undoubtedly wondering why I was anything but urgent with my initial phone call.

When our hero midwife arrived shortly thereafter, she was hefting a sherpa’s load of gear into the house in a single trip. After checking on Kate and listening to the baby’s heartbeat, she began quietly but deftly arranging supplies and equipment in case things progressed faster than expected; which seemed to be a safe bet given the day’s events.

For the next hour or so, in between the heavy breathing of contractions Kate made jokes about my fear of seeming too demanding or urgent which could have very easily resulted in a doctorless delivery. Once supplies were arranged and the contractions began increasing in intensity, Carmon checked to see how things were progressing in order to know if it was time to head to the hospital. (If you’ve made a tiny human yourself, you’re likely quietly muttering, “Of course it was! Are you guys nuts?!” And you would be so very spot on. On both counts.) Carmon’s relieving—but quite unexpected—verdict to Kate was, “Your work is done, my dear. I’m sorry, but we’re not going to make it to the hospital. This baby is coming right here, right now.”

As Kate lowered herself into the water of the pool, Carmon suggested that I get into position to “catch” my daughter. And at 1:23a, that’s exactly what I did. Almost instantly, I laid Ravenna on Kate’s chest and watched in awe (and only a little bit of terror) as the little cord that had fed and nourished my daughter since conception (or thereabouts, my biology’s a bit hazy) pulsed its last, went still and was then clipped and presented to me to sever.

Recalling the evening, Kate and I both realized that, unlike Rocco’s delivery, neither of us shed a tear when Ravenna first opened her eyes or her mouth. There was only irrepressible joy when we saw her (and I believe I saw more than a little of Rosie’s “Yes we can!” fist-pump when I looked at Kate’s face).

We had been told for months and months about Kate’s slim chances of even delivering this baby naturally. Especially since Ravenna’s growth-rate appeared to be in a high percentile. Besides, homebirths were risky and issue-prone, right? Nursing would also likely be difficult. And yet, there I stood, watching my exhausted but healthy wife hold our very healthy daughter (ten pounds!) to her chest to nurse by candlelight in our own bedroom. At that moment, I was more than proud of my girls’ accomplishments. I experienced a kind of awe at what God, our Creator, allows and empowers us to accomplish. More than mere spectators at the miracles of creation, we are invited to participate in the labor as well as all of the pride and hopeful expectation that accompany creating some new thing, some new child. Someone in our image. Someone who will become like us. Like her brother. Someone who we will have the chance to fashion and teach and shape and love and love and love and finally share with the world, saying, “Here she is, Ravenna West. The very best we could do.”



Tomorrow, we’ll wrap up the trilogy. See you then!

April 17, 2012, 12:00 am
Filed under: 2309, Friends, Kid speak, Love, Photo

Easter is definitely a big deal around our house. Rocco has been looking forward to it since January. I’m not even sure why, but he was completely willing to skip Valentine’s Day and go straight to Easter egg dying. We wanted to capitalize on the fact that he was so into it, so Tom told him the story of Easter. Rocco’s recap of the story went something like this, “Yea! Jesus and God was good. He sang songs and was kind. Then bad people were mean to him and killed Him for 3 minutes, but then He came back to life so we could have EEEEAAAAASSSSTTTEEERRR! Yea!” It was in that moment that I totally understood how the Easter bunny and chocolate eggs version took off.

We had a fun day earlier in the week, friends came over, we dyed eggs, made cookies and decorated them, and had an Easter egg hunt! Don’t look at my counters, please. We made play dough the day before and there is still flour in my grout. Tile in my kitchen? Never again. I digress.

We went to church Sunday morning, came home for a snooze, then spent the rest of the day with family. It was lovely.

We will continue to have fun every year, but I really want my son to know, to understand what Jesus did for him. There will be egg dying, and cookie baking, and chocolate hunting, but there will also be seeds planted that will one day grow into gratefulness. This song gets me every time, and reminds me of the real reason we celebrate this day each year.

In Christ Alone

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

Valentine’s Day
February 24, 2012, 2:00 am
Filed under: 2309, Family, Love, recipes, Uncategorized

I woke up Tuesday morning and I could tell it wasn’t going to be the best day. Tom was at work, I was home working, my girl Kay was five hours away from her new home oh so far away, and I had a big fat mess to clean up from the day before. I looked at 16 dirty, empty wine glasses, and felt this sadness come over me that I really didn’t want to feel on the “love” day.

I decided that Roc and I should go on n early morning date to FROST to get some sprinkle donuts for our little friends and to finish up his valentines for school that afternoon.

We had a nice morning, but I just couldn’t shake the downer feeling I had. The kids I take care of arrived, and they all played together for a bit before Janine, my close friend and neighbor, took Rocco and Gracie to school. Since it was Valentine’s day, the kids at preschool were having a party. No other kids were allowed which meant that I couldn’t go; I was pretty heartbroken about it, but I carried on until I got this picture from Janine at the party:

You may or may not be able to tell from the picture, but that is circle time and ALL of the other kids have a parent behind them. My kid was the ONLY one without a parent there. Seriously, it was a pretty crappy feeling. I sat on my couch while the kids I take care of napped, those dirty wine glasses glared at me, and Janine’s little boy sat on my lap… it was all I could do to hold the tears back.

Roc got home around 3:00 and I was so happy to see him. We went through all of his valentines and he told me all about his party. It wasn’t until about 3:30 that I realized Tom would be home at 5:00, my kitchen was nowhere near clean, I had no card, no gift, and NOTHING planned for dinner. Valentine’s Day dinner. Awesome.

By 5:00 I did have the downstairs clean, but that was it: no card, no dinner, and no shower yet for that day. Tom came home and could see that I was super down. He told me to relax and that he and the boy were taking care of dinner.  They took off for Central Market and I just sat there for a minute. I eventually decided to take a bath. When I turned on the faucet, my tear ducts started flowing as well. I sat in that tub and cried, and cried and CRIED. I’m not exaggerating, I think there was drooling involved. Not pretty.

The boys were gone for over an hour, and well before they came home, I was feeling much better. I was clean, I was ready to apologize for my attitude and I was ready for a lovely evening. Rocco was so tired from his big day that he fell asleep on the way home. I carried him up to bed and Tom started putting a lovely, simple dinner together.

Dessert did not disappoint either, here’s the recipe for that.

As I sat across the table from the man I have loved since he was a boy, I couldn’t help but think to myself, “He just makes everything better.” I am however, not feeling that way right now as he dances around the loft, distracting me, yapping about American Idol this, and American Idol that. Lord, have mercy…we deserve each other.

A really good cry every once in a while never hurts either.

[Thank you, Kelsey, for the amazing cake pops. You always know how to make kids and grown ups smile.]

Saying goodbye stinks.
February 23, 2012, 2:00 am
Filed under: 2309, Friends, Love

This girl is a pretty darn good blogger. She is my closest friend, but she now lives about 1,200 miles away from me as of Valentine’s Day. Nice, huh… feelin’ the love. No, I’m good. Not bitter at all. Did I mention she took my her two little girls with her? I know, rude.

I actually really am happy for her and her little family, and hey, North Dakota will be a perfect vacation destination for us! (To be filed under: Things you never thought you’d say.) This big move has been in the works for quite a while now, and I have said for about a year, “By the time you move, I want to be blogging again.” It’s such a fun way to stay connected, and I am hoping that her consistent posts will keep me on my toes.

They took off last Monday, the 13th, but not before some of her closest friends here got to share one last meal, lots of hugs, laughs, and a few tears. Since it was almost Valentine’s Day and we all love her so much, it seemed only appropriate to have a love-themed party, right?

Here was the menu:

Pomegranate fizzies, coffee and tea.

Hot crab dip with crackers.

Grape and cashew chicken curry salad on croissants.

Cherry, almond & blue cheese salad.

Red pepper & ranch veggie shooters.

Red velvet cake pops, strawberries & pound cake drizzled in chocolate, shortbread fruit “pizza”, and mini strawberry shakes.

It was all girly, all red & pink, and all delicious!

Kaylee lived here less than 4 years, but in that time she built some deep, lasting friendships. This doesn’t surprise me at all. She has an easy going personality, is fun, kind and believes the best about her friends. She is trustworthy and that is huge for me. It has been so refreshing to get to know her, watch her become a wife and a mom, and grow up together over the past few years.

Kaylee girl, you are a treasure to us all. You are, and will continue to be missed. I look forward to our friendship continuing to grow as we let our roots grow down in different soil.

All our love,

The girls.


I’m with the band
August 3, 2010, 10:11 pm
Filed under: 2309, Novalis

Guess who’s coming over tonight, Rocco?  …. “The band!!!!”  I’m pretty sure that is his answer every time I ask him that question.  Luckily, about once a week, he’s right!  Let me tell you, this boy LOVES band practice.  So do I, I really do.  It’s a family affair.  Wives and kids come, coffee and treats get made, furniture gets moved and we just pray that the neighbors continue to love us.  Speaking of the neighbors, even they show up from time to time, we have SO MUCH FUN!  The kids use chopsticks to drum, play tennis rackets like they’re guitars and when they get tired of that, they make their way to the back deck to throw the ball around.  Music is a gift and our favorite thing is to share that gift with as many people as possible. 









Baby Food Magic*
April 23, 2009, 9:13 pm
Filed under: 2309, Photo, Uncategorized

I will tell you this.  Rocco has THE BEST dad in the whole world. 

It was a Friday night after a long week of work, I had fallen alseep on the couch while Rocco napped.  Tom was sitting on the couch reading this…


I awoke to the garage door slamming.  In walked Tom with our baby and several bags of groceries.  My heart skipped a few beats when I realized all that had happened without me even slipping into conciousness ONCE.  I wasn’t dreaming.  Tom found the baby food recipes in the back of his new Tyler Florence cookbook.  He told me that he had “turned over a new leaf.”

Rocco was going to have a completely new menu: all organic and fresh foods. All the jars I bought said organic, isn’t that the same thing?  Tommy isn’t the kind of guy who will choose one and make a mass quantity, oh no, he bought the ingredients for ALL of the recipes.  I didn’t tell him that he would still be up at 3 in the morning, after the kitchen had exploded and there were little tupperware containers of baby food everywhere.  I wanted him to experience the “joy of discovery.”

So he set Rocco up in his highchair and they began their “project.”

VERY exciting!


The house smelled AMAZING.



He found appliances that I didn’t even know we had!  Long after our little man had retired for the night, we taste tested all of the food:  sweet peas and mint, brown rice with roasted banana and cinnamon, parmesan & cauliflower puree and our favorite, roasted blueberry and applesauce.  We are considering canning and selling the last one, it goes something like this, “One bite for Rocco, two bites for mommy, three bites for daddy, one bite for Rocco…” 

Seriously folks, it’s THAT good.