Thursday, April 30, 2009

Birthday Bows and Stats

My sister Anika gave Bella adorable headbands with interchangeable flowers and bows for her birthday. Word has it she made them herself. Flowers seem to bring out Bella’s natural beauty, especially when it is as big as her head. I’m serious. She looks so fabthat I feel frumpy next to her.

Well, at her 1 year check up she checked in at 15 lbs 9 oz and 26 inches long. She's still going strong in the 0 percentile in both categories, and she is roughly the size and weight of a 6 month old.

Temple Trip Tornado

We went to the temple on the last Saturday of the month. We can add this one to the string of disasters that seem imminent on the last Saturday of each month. I wrote a short story about this one because it was a shocker. Yes, I realize we should have been huddling in a storm shelter instead of cruising the interstate, but in our defense after more than three hours in the car we just wanted to get home.

Thunder grumbled louder and deeper as we whizzed past a roadside marker that read “Wyandotte county line.” The overcast sky varied from deep purple to greenish gray. The NPR disc jockey’s voice boomed on our car speakers.

“I repeat,” the announcer paused, “there is a tornado warning in effect in western Wyandotte County. At least one tornado touch down has been confirmed in the area. If you are in your homes, go to your storm shelters, or safe area, the basement, or the lowest level of the house. Avoid windows and cover your head with a mattress,” his voice directed as the rain pounded our roof and windshield. “If you are in a mobile home or a vehicle, abandon it and go to the nearest safe place—a stable building or storm shelter. Lay flat in a ditch or culvert as a last resort.”

I looked at my husband. His eyelids strained wider than usual, the result of trying to see the road through the hammering downpour, and the announcement on the radio. My heart began knocking on my ribs to the beat of the windshield wipers.

“The tornado warning remains in effect until 7:30 p.m.,” the radio announced. The clock showed 7:19.

“Hon, I’m scared,” Ryan husband admitted. “We are in western Wyandotte, and there aren’t any near by buildings to go to. Should we pull over?” No off ramps or stable buildings were in view. I scanned the countryside to my right for a promising ditch or culvert we could lay in. They looked wet. I pondered the improbability of another tornado touching down exactly where we were driving, and the probability that getting drenched in a ditch for the next ten minutes would be in vain. A soggy ride home with a cold one-year-old didn’t appeal to me.

“No, I think we should just keep going. We’ll be home in almost fifteen minutes.” The windshield wipers twitched across the windshield on high, but still couldn’t clear the water streaming down the glass, blurring the lane lines ahead of us. Besides, we would be out of western Wyandotte and into Leavenworth by the time the tornado warning expired.

“A tornado warning is also in effect for Leavenworth,” the radio announced, and the man reiterated instructions to go to a safe place for another five minutes. The purple clouds above us swirled like a heavenly whirlpool and sagged close to the earth as we entered Leavenworth. We urged our tiny car down the watery roadways. Ours was the only vehicle on the southbound freeway, even though it was early Saturday evening. Ryan’s grip on the steering wheel squeezed the blood from his fingers. Bella slumbered motionless in her car seat in the back. I laughed, imagining my tornado-phoebe brother-in-law in the back seat too.

I debated mentally whether we were doing the right thing. “God will protect us on the way home from the temple,” I thought. And then I remembered our last few temple trips, sliding off the frozen freeway, Ryan forgetting his suit and having to buy a new one, a rock breaking our windshield, and moments after that the windshield wipers broke in the first big snow storm of the season. “But, that was on the way to the temple. We are on our way home from the temple,” I retorted. And then I realized that God expects us to do the best we can and He’ll do the rest. We aren’t doing the best we can to protect ourselves right now.

My heartbeat increased to a gallop when we noticed the string of police cars and trucks lining the frontage road. A barn torn into a heap with just one, red, freshly painted wall still standing. I cast my eyes about and found metal roof pieces dangling in the treetops, and cars parked on their hoods instead of their wheels. Several roadside trees were cloven in two.

“Woa! Did you see that house?” Ryan pointed to a place now hidden behind a hill. I didn’t need to ask what he saw. “We are almost home. Just a few minutes left.” But then the announcer’s voice interrupted the music once again.

“We have reports of a tornado touch down in the Leavenworth area within the last ten to fifteen minutes. A barn was damaged, as well as nearby houses and a few overturned cars…” Ryan and I gaped at each other.

“I’m glad we stopped at McDonald’s, or we might have driven right into it,” Ryan said with his eyes still wide. I didn’t say anything. I only thought about how trivial a damp car ride would be compared to the damage we could have sustained if we met a tornado in a ’97 Nissan Sentra. I reached back and felt Bella’s tiny fingers without waking her, grateful that a tornado hadn’t disrupted her sleep.

“Does Texas have tornadoes?” I ask him before we climb out of the car in our apartment parking lot. We reached Lawrence in time for severe thunderstorm warnings and a tornado watch in our city.

“I don’t know, but Houston has hurricanes.”

*Next time we are aware of a tornado warning we will seek shelter, even if we’re in the car. We’ll lay in a culvert for hours if we have to.

This link has a video that surveys the damages from this tornado that I thought was pretty impressive.

Also, I nabbed these photos from the Lawrence Journalworld website.

An Unwanted Pancake

On Sunday morning, two weeks ago, we sidled from our apartment laden with the diaper bag, our church bag, and Bella in her car seat. When the car came into view we both saw that it tilted ominously to one side. We hoped we had parked in a hole, but we hadn’t. Our front passenger side tire hung from the rim with its hollow folds resting on the asphalt.

It was possible to arrive in Topeka in time to teach our lessons if we fixed it within half an hour, so Ryan traded his suit for grungy clothes and set to work while I put my make up on, and gave moral support. He jacked up the car and removed the flat without a problem and we thought we would make it, until we found that the new spare tire we just bought didn’t even fit on the wheel. Instead of walking forty miles to our Spanish branch, we decided to go to the University ward down the street.

What a lame spare tire! Why did it say it was for a '97 Sentra? We bought that one to replace the first one that failed us. When Ryan put it on our car two winters ago we discovered that the previous owner had bent the spare's rim beyond what should be possible and that one didn't work either.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Happy Birthday Bella! (for real this time)

Although we already did her first birthday party a week ago, today is the real day.

It has been a year since that memorable day, and my tailbone still hurts, but it was more than worth the struggle. Every time she learns something new or starts making new noises a thrill waves through my body. This little princess brings more joy to our life than anything in the world possibly could. She is the sweetest girl in the whole world.

Today Bella is a tireless bundle of energy. Her favorite haunts are, in the bathroom, under the bed, inside her toy basket, and anywhere Mommy and Daddy are. Her favorite food is cake. Her favorite grandparent is...whichever one is reading this right now. Her favorite activities are, emptying cupboards and sitting inside them, pulling all her toys out of the toy basket and climbing into it, removing food storage from under the bed and then crawling under, splashing in the tub, playing “chase” with Mommy and Daddy, and being carried around. She doesn’t like, getting her face wiped, eating food, getting her diaper changed, or letting Mommy get anything done.

***Warning*** Graphic descriptions of child birth follow. Do not read if you have a weak stomach.

One year ago Ryan hurtled us through Harrison Blvd. traffic to get to McKay Dee hospital in Ogden, Utah. My contractions were less than three minutes apart and our ’97 Nissan Sentra didn’t have the horse power to go fast enough for me. Ryan found a wheel chair by the hospital entrance because I couldn’t walk more than two steps between contractions. Before we had crossed the lobby I was begging for a vomit recipient. He couldn’t understand my plea between the dry heaves. When the heaves were no longer “dry,” he understood. He ran along the walls and corners searching for a trash can; meanwhile, a well meaning woman saw my plight and, despite my protests, wheeled me into the ladies room to sponge it off. I told her I was in labor, and all I wanted was for the pain to go away. She continued wiping my face and clothes with damp towels, telling me that after she got me cleaned up we would go upstairs and see about the epidural. Her priorities were mixed up. I was ready to knock her over and push my own wheelchair up to Labor and Delivery when Ryan found me.

My troubles weren’t over after getting upstairs and into a bed. Ryan wouldn’t let me squeeze his hand, or arm through the contractions after two tries. He didn’t want the bones in his hand crushed, and he didn’t like the Indian burn on his arm either. The nurse had a limitless list of questions about our insurance, my personal info, and possible allergies. Her response to, or I should say evasion of, my inquiries about how long it would take them to give me an epidural, was pushing my blood pressure higher and higher. If she would have just given me some sort of estimate I would have left her in peace. Instead, she replied with, “Oh, after we’re done with this,” and, “It shouldn’t be too long,” or “when the anesthesiologist gets here.” Ryan kept apologizing for my being short with her.

I finally got the epidural a couple hours after we got to the hospital. I was in bliss. I could still feel my legs and move them, including the pressure from the contractions, but it didn’t hurt. Unfortunately, baby Bella’s heart rate went down, and stayed down: it hovered around 60, instead of 120, and they couldn’t get it back up. After almost ten minutes they decided to stop my contractions to see if it would help, then they attached a metal probe to her head to get more accurate readings. Bella stabilized and they tried to get my contractions going again. It took more than half an hour for the petosin to kick in but it did. My doctor formulated a plan to make sure the distress of delivery didn’t become too dangerous for our almost born baby. The plan was to “Get the baby out, as quick as possible.” So I pushed, and he pulled with the vacuum. Nine minutes later Isabella *Cecilia Harvey came into the world weighing 5 pounds 5 ounces. I broke my tailbone, and ripped in two places. Ryan just kept repeating, “There’s so much blood!”

*Ryan took advantage of my newfound epidural bliss. He was filling out the birth certificate form when he suggested we make her middle name “Cecilia.” I objected because I thought it was weird to name her after me. Ryan persisted and I couldn’t really think of a reason not to. Now the poor thing will have to learn how to spell a 21 letter name in kindergarten.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Cake Diving

I know Bella's birthday isn't until tuesday, but Ryan's classmates threw a birthday party for her, so she did her cake diving a week early.

Infant Egg Hunting

Bella didn't mind that the eggs had nothing in them.

Escapades in the Pack'N'Play

For any of you who want to hear Bella giggle. She doesn't mind the pack'n'play as long as she isn't in there for more than five minutes.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Promised Land- Texas!

It's official, and it has been for more than a week-I just haven't updated the blog. We are moving to Sugar Land, Texas!!! After receiving three job offers (I can brag about my husband, right?), Ryan accepted a position as "Management Assistant I" at the City of Sugar Land. He starts June 1st!