Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas 2010



Hey Family!
Here are a few updates from the "505"...

Obviously, with the new addition to our family, we have been busy! Aria is 3 1/2 months now and is healthy as can be, praise God! You can see by her enormous cheeks that she continues to eat well :)



She is holding her head up and has learned to giggle, which makes mommy and daddy absolutely melt! She has a firm grasp and is working on holding on to objects, including mommy's hair. "Guh," "buh" and "duh" are now in her vocabulary. We know that somewhere within those gurgled consonants lies a deeply profound philosophical commentary on the human condition.



....and here she is explaining to Greg what Van Til meant by "antithesis" :)



"Papa" gave Aria her first moment in the TV spotlight over Thanksgiving. Here she is, live on the set of the New Mexico Style show....obviously in her most stylin' digs....and eying those margaritas.



As for the humble parents of this little star:

Greg is buckling down to finish his PHD in 2011 and he continues to work as the youth minister at our church. He is also in process of taking a position as an adjunct professor of Philosophy at Liberty University through their online program. He is an amazing Dad and brings many smiles and giggles out of his little girl.

Caitelen finished her MFA in Creative Writing back in August, just in time to begin her new adventure as a mom. Most of her time is joyfully spent teaching, playing with and caring for her daughter. She continues to stay busy in the her musical endeavors as well, serving at church and getting involved in some side projects here and there. She even brings Aria to most of her rehearsals and Aria remains attentive and interested in music so far. Caitelen will be going back to her part time position as the music teacher at Oak Grove in the Spring.

On a more humorous note, we got to appear in a local TV commercial, thanks to my Dad... watch our Oscar winning performances below ;)

video


MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY 2011 !!!



Love,
Greg, Caitelen and Aria Jane

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Birthday 9/10/10




After 9 months of preparation through reading and talking with wise moms, exercising, eating intentionally, practicing Hyponbirth relaxation techniques, and praying, the day I had patiently waited for finally arrived. The day I went into labor, I had an appointment scheduled with my midwife, Mary Lou. I was one week past the “due date” and had been having very mild Braxton Hicks contractions at inconsistent intervals and the occasional slightly more crampy ones, but I really hadn’t noticed any other “early labor” signs. Mary Lou did the usual check-up, listened to the baby’s heartbeat, checked my blood pressure and weight, etc., but this visit she wanted to do a vaginal exam to see if there was anything to report. To my surprise, she found me 3 cm dilated and 80% effaced. Obviously those mild surges were doing something! Mary Lou suggested that she also do a “sweep” (to separate the membranes around the baby from the cervix) as a safe and natural induction method since I was 41 weeks. This apparently releases hormones called prostaglandins, which sometimes kick-start labour. Mary Lou speculated that I would probably have the baby within the next 72 hours.

So, I went about my afternoon, got a massage, went to the Herb store and to the Mac store, all the while feeling a few more crampy, but mild, contractions. I called Greg on the way home and we decided that since we were planning a home birth we wanted to let our families be involved by at least coming over sometime in early labor to pray for us, the baby, and the upcoming birth. We didn’t think she would come any time soon, but wanted to have this prayer time anyway.

After our families left, Greg and I went out and had spicy indian food (another alleged natural inducer) and then came home and started watching a tv show. It wasn’t long before I began to feel restless.

Around 9:00 I decided to go downstairs and begin baking the baby’s birthday cake. This was something I had imagined would be fun to have ready for the day after the birth when family came to meet her. I could sense that my body was getting ready and my surges were getting a little more intense each time, so I started baking! Greg came downstairs and began timing the surges, which were getting more and more intense and demanding more of my attention each time. 5 minutes apart, 3 minutes apart.....they were coming quickly, but we weren’t sure if this was the real deal or not. Greg called Mary Lou and explained the situation. When she heard that I was still bustling around the kitchen baking a cake, she promptly told Greg to pour us each a small glass of wine, and get us to bed to sleep through as much of the night as we could .

At 10:00, each surge had me stopping to breathe deeply and lean on Greg for the duration. I set the cake on a cooling rack and headed upstairs. I had a hot shower, a few sips of wine, and laid down to rest. After that point, I completely lost track of time. I spent a couple of hours laying there with a heating pad on my back. I remember getting cold and getting the shakes, then getting too warm and kicking everything off (probably the hormones and adrenaline preparing my body for action).

Around 1:00 AM I felt like I had to pee and as I was sitting there in the bathroom, my water broke right over the toilet. I was kind of relieved that it had broken in such a convenient spot and not all over the floor somewhere else :) Greg called Mary Lou who said she’d be there soon. Meanwhile, I had another surge, this time stronger. Greg went to move his car for the midwives to park closer to the house and I stayed seated through another 2 surges before I felt ready to move.

I made my way downstairs and labored for a while, walking around and leaning on Greg or the counter, but then decided to try lying down in the guest bed to relieve some of the weight of gravity from walking. My surges were very strong now, and I was becoming more and more vocal, taking deep breaths and letting it out in long, low moans. I remembered the advice my dear friend Sarah (a home-birthing mom and the woman who inspired me to do it) had given me:


“Keep it low,” she said. “Remember, ‘Whale song!’”

The idea is that when we allow our cries to move up the scale into that screechy, high pitched range, we’re wasting energy and naturally tend to tense up our shoulders, neck and throats. This is counterproductive to the labor process. Keeping the sound low and using deep, long breaths is much more effective and energy saving. For me it was even more than that. I found that making gentle, low moaning sounds, even in between surges, kept me in a kind of self-soothing, hypnotic lull. I was also conscious about letting my jaw hang loose and not clenching my teeth. Keeping the jaw soft and relaxed has proven effects on the ability of the vaginal muscles to soften and open in labor.

When Mary Lou arrived around 2:00, she came in right as I was having another surge. Without even having to enter the room where I was, she told Greg that she could tell I was already in transition. She and Greg began setting up and filling the birthing tub. Not long after she arrived, I began feeling the urge to push. I was still in the bed and getting anxious to get into the water. I didn’t know at the time, but apparently our hot water had run out and Greg and Mary Lou were heating pots on the stove to get the tub filled enough, so they were not as present during that time, but I just labored on in the next room!

Finally, I was able to move into the water and I immediately felt more relaxed. The surges were still very strong, and Greg and Mary Lou were still working on filling the tub, but the warmth and relief from gravity was wonderful. I could hear my relaxing music mix playing in the background. The songs were familiar, and I had practiced relaxation techniques through my Hypnobirth classes while listening to these specific songs, so my body really responded to that trigger as well. I also remember the scent of lavender oil burning and the sound of water running from the sink as they worked on filling the pool. All of this relaxed me in between surges.

At some point, the other midwife, Barbara, arrived and began helping set up as well. My eyes remained closed most of the time, and I continued to go deeper and deeper into my birthing body, focusing on the sensations as they came and relaxing deeply in-between surges. As I got closer to the end, I actually felt myself falling asleep in-between very strong surges. I remember leaning over the side of the tub after a surge and a minute or so passed. I started dreaming something and my head jerked as I began to nod off. This was my body gathering every ounce of strength for the next push.

At one point in the labor Mary Lou asked me to step out of the tub and go back to the bed so they could examine me. This was a bit disruptive actually. Gravity set back in and I had to climb back up onto the bed and had a couple of surges there, but the midwives were able to clear the last bit of cervix out of the way and also help the baby’s head come down past the pubic bone. This helped move things along a bit and I was then able to go back into the water.

At that point everyone got very quiet and waited. Mary Lou would occasionally reach down with her stethoscope and check the baby’s heartbeat. Greg sat by the pool and would gently rub my arm or hold my hand and whisper encouragement to me or offer me water. I did some pushing with my back against the side of the pool, but my back ached in that position so I tried pushing on my hands and knees which was much easier. I would lay back against the pool in-between surges or sometimes just drape myself over the side of the pool to rest.

Before the birth, everyone had told me that I would reach a point where I would start to lose hope and think I couldn’t do it. Everyone said I would wish for a way out but that I would have to remember that the only “way” is through. I knew I would be tempted to doubt and falter, and those thoughts and feelings began to press on the back of my mind as I got closer, but I knew the truth—that my body was designed to perform in this way, and I fought to keep from giving into fear.

What truly gave me the gumption to keep going was reaching down and feeling the baby’s little head starting to come through. I must have made a face when I first felt it, because Mary Lou asked if I could feel anything and I excitedly exclaimed that I did! But after each surge, the head would slowly slip back inside.

“Is it normal that her head keeps going back in?” I asked, beginning to feel a bit like I was just pushing and feeling all this pain for nothing.

“It’s totally normal,” Mary Lou answered. “Everyone gets frustrated by that, but just remember that each time you push you’re making progress and it’s coming through more and more. You’re so close!”

She encouraged me that it would help to keep reaching down and feeling the area stretch each time. She also encouraged me to start deepening the pushes. She put it well when she told me to “make it as big as it needs to be.” And rather that making a lot of noise like I had been doing (which was thus far helpful), she wanted me to use the breath to push PAST the point I had been reaching before.

Apparently, according to the midwives, I had this look on my face of both “pain and ecstasy” when the head was crowning. I knew we were close, and I new that the moment of joy I had been dreaming about was just a few pushes away! When her head was far enough out so that it didn’t recede back inside, I experienced the most intense and prolonged pain of the labor. This was that “ring of fire” I had heard about. Indeed, it was crazy pain! But we were so close and I had a goal: get that head out and the rest will come easily! I focused on the sensation of her soft hair at my fingertips and the shape of her skull fitting miraculously through.

Finally, her head come all the way out and I was so excited and shocked that I leaned back exclaiming, “The head is out! The head is out!!” and Mary Lou had to remind me to focus and push the rest of the baby out! :) I was just so excited that I had gotten that head out!

Another push and at 4:37 AM, just 6 1/2 hours after labor began, her whole slippery, little body came gently out into my arms and I beheld my beautiful daughter, Aria Jane, for the first time!

The water was such a gentle transition for her, and she was so relaxed, that she didn’t want to wake up and cry for us at first. She just squirmed a little in my arms, looking peacefully asleep. Barbara massaged her back, cleared her nose and mouth with and aspirator, and even had to blow into her mouth once to wake her up and get her to take that first breath on her own. She was 6 lbs 13 ounces, 20.5 inches long and absolutely perfect!

Our first moments together were surreal. I was amazed at her fragility and her strength. Here was this little creature whom God had blessed us with. She was so delicate, so helpless, yet to be able experience birth on her end proves her own God-given health and strength! I remember so vividly taking it all in for the first time—her dark, soft hair, almond-shaped eyes, long fingers, perfect little nose, beautiful, puckered lips, the chord still connecting her to me for a few moments more. The weight of her in my arms instead of my belly was exhilarating! Nothing could have truly prepared me for this moment. I felt such a rush of love and energy and awe.

Now, my one-month-old daughter lays sleeping on my chest, cooing and breathing. I breathe in her sweet scent as I kiss her head and thank God for the miracle of life and for this child He has blessed us with. May she come to know His love for her someday and may we be faithful, loving parents, pointing her to Him in all we do. Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, His love endures forever!



Sunday, May 2, 2010

Belated...

I am, admittedly, not very good at blogging, but for those few who follow ours, here's a much overdue update on our (growing!) family :)

Over the last year (yes it has been that long since my last post!), Greg and I have kept busy traveling to Argentina with Mom and Dad Schnee, selling our house and moving into the North Valley, working on the grad school thesis and PHD, working/serving at the church and teaching, and, of course, finding out we are expecting our first baby!

We found out on New Years Eve, right after I had accepted the lead role in a production of the musical, "The Fantasticks." We were undoubtedly excited, but a little surprised at God's timing. Still, He was faithful to sustain me through a pretty rough first trimester.

Many nights I would come home from rehearsal, and eventually performances (during which I was singing, dancing, being lifted and twirled, and spinning on a box while sustaining high notes and trying not to fall off...not normally a big deal, but a little tough to do while being pregnant!), and poor Greg would have to get me at my "worst" (often holding back my hair for me ;)

There were moments when I didn't think I could do it, but the Lord truly sustained me and Greg was a ROCK for me...such a servant and a patient-hearted husband. As soon as I entered that second trimester and the show ended, my symptoms subsided tremendously and I've had a smooth pregnancy since. I'm now 22 weeks and about half way there! We are now preparing our hearts and home for this sweet, little GIRL!

Greg is still in the throws of his PHD and working at the church, and he leads our community (home) group at our house once a week. Our first spring in the new house seems to have come with many indoor and outdoor projects, and Greg has turned into quite the handy man! Every spare afternoon home, he can be found tending to our yard or working on some project. Other than the rampant weeds that seem to pop up every 1/2 hour, I think he finds joy in "working the land" :)

Here are a few snapshots from some of our recent adventures:



Greg and Dad Schnee enjoying an Argentine Cafe con Leche



Our little adobe casita in the North Valley



Getting my "drama" on in "The Music Man" last Fall



Hangin' out at the Ranch. Greg showing me how to shoot a gun.



As Luisa is "The Fantasticks." I was about 10 weeks pregnant here :)



Week 21 ultrasound. Baby girl!



Last summer at my residency for my masters in poetry, I wrote the following poem. It carries a whole new meaning for me now that I'm expecting a daughter.

Daughter

“Female fetuses already contain all the eggs that the newborn child will ever have. What that means, practically speaking, is that when your mother was just a fetus inside her mother, she already had developed one of the eggs that eventually became you.”
-Toni Weschler, MPH


Little almond, fracture of me still
in wait, you are set apart

In that space between my hips,
shallow womb,
where you are not, yet
you are.

My body prepares a place for you in its cycle of
hope and disappointment.

Hundreds fall from me like pearls,
but you are chosen.

Life within life,
the shaping of you held fast
for the shaping of me. You sleep
our lives joined,
hemmed to one another's
as part of a great thread held taut through
our mother’s bodies.

I carry your tiny beginnings
the way my grandmother carried me,
the way my grandmother’s mother carried my mother,

the way I will carry your daughter


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

A CHRIST mas reminder....

I was blessed to have the opportunity to sing a beautiful, old hymn for our church's Christmas service this last week. It's called "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence." The words of this song incite such a powerful reminder of what this season is truly about; that God come down in Christ Jesus for our salvation. I've posted the Youtube video and the song lyrics below....



Let all mortal flesh keep silence,
and with fear and trembling stand;
ponder nothing earthly minded,
for with blessing in his hand
Christ our God to earth descendeth,
our full homage to demand.

King of kings, yet born of Mary,
as of old on earth he stood,
Lord of lords in human vesture,
in the Body and the Blood
he will give to all the faithful
his own self for heavenly food.

Rank on rank the host of heaven
spreads its vanguard on the way,
as the Light of Light descendeth
from the realms of endless day,
that the powers of hell may vanish
as the darkness clears away.

At his feet the six-winged seraph;
cherubim with sleepless eye,
veil their faces to the Presence,
as with ceaseless voice they cry,
"Alleluia, alleluia!
Alleluia, Lord Most High!"

Words: Liturgy of Saint James (fifth century); trans. Gerald Moultrie (1829-1885), 1864
Music: Picardy (French carol as in The English Hymnal, 1906)

CHRISTMAS PUPPY!!!


We have a cute new addition to the Schnee family! No....it's not a baby...at least not a human baby! This is our 9 week old puppy, Joonyper (pronounced like Juniper). She is a Yorkie-Pooh (Yorkshire Terrier mixed with Poodle). She is a sweet, spunky little girl. We are having a BLAST with her!



Joonyper's sister went to my parents (Debbie and Bill) and they named her Flicker. Joony and Flicker had fun pouncing on tissue paper and eating bows and cookie crumbs this Christmas.


Joonyper and Flicker... Bath time.


Christmas Puppy!



We are such nerds.....unabashedly!!!


Anderson Family Pic.... We forgot to take one with Mom and Dad Schnee...but we did enjoy a wonderful Christmas eve up in the East Mountains....Look for documentation of the Schnee family trip to Argentina this coming spring!!

Love to all of our family and friends, especially those who are far away....we MISS you!
Merry Christmas and Happy 2009!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Autumn in Albuquerque

Updates from the Summer...

This summer was as full as usual! We kicked things off in June with Parent/Student camp in Mexico where we hear amazing teaching from our friend David Anderson and spent some time serving at the orphanage.


Reading with one of the girls at Casa Esperanza and Sneaking away for a walk on the beach!


Greg leading songs in Spanish


Then is was off to Buffalo, NY for a Schneeberger family reunion. Greg and his cousin Genny, who also lives here in ABQ with us, did the Ride for Roswell, miles! We also spent some time in the beautiful Thousand Islands at uncle Jerry's river-side cottage over the 4th of July.



Greg wakeboarding .....well....almost....



In July/August, I attended my first residency at Ashland University in Ohio to begin my MFA in Creative Writing while Greg continued to work on his PHD in Philosophy and Appologetics at home. Then we both headed off to Guatemala again. This was my second time going. What a joy it was to see familiar faces again and work on my Spanish a bit more! The translation of the New Testament into the language of Achi is almost completed! Keep praying for those working on it!


In our Guatemalan skirts....

video
Carol Barrera at her translation desk, reading Luke 24 in Achi

Autumn in Albuquerque
As the Fall season has set in, our "season" has shifted as well. Greg is working very hard at continuing his PHD work and working with parents and students at the church. He has implemented some new ideas for getting more in-depth with students. One way is through a monthly meeting at our house (called "Cypher") during which Greg leads the students through a series of video lectures or presentations, and a question/answer time dealing with various issues, for example, proving the existence of God, defending the faith...etc.

He is also preaching through a series on Biblical Ethics such as war and abortion...etc. These are hard issues, but it's so important to think about them and get kids thinking about them. Greg really feels the weight of that and the responsibility to present the Word to these kids and get them asking the hard questions and....if I may affirm him a bit...God has really blessed his teaching. He's doing an amazing job! He's also getting ready to teach in the main congregation in a few weeks so pray for him as he prepares!

Back in August, I started my new job teaching at Oak Grove Classical Academy. I teach music, first grade math and English, and help in the Kindergarten class as well. Needless to say, I have glue under my fingernails and kids voices ringing in my ears by the end of the day! It's great! This job has been a perfect fit for me. I never thought I would teach, but here I am and I absolutely love it!

I still teach a few piano and voice lessons on the side (joyflnoise.blogspot.com), and occasionally work as the wedding facilitator for the church as well as continuing to work on my MFA and serve in ministry with Greg.

We are having such a blast in this second year of marriage! God is so good. We are both continuing to be humbled and growing together in faith, ever more thankful for God's saving grace in our lives and marriage.


Some Snapshots from the last few months....

Out to a fancy dinner....I got to wear my grandma's vintage cocktail dress
and Greg wore his new suit coat!



Hiking up the Sandia Mountains




At the Balloon Glow during the Fiesta


Dad showing Greg the lay of the land up at their property in Northern New Mexico






He loves me..... really...


Thursday, May 15, 2008

What's New with the Newlyweds!

Spain...

We kicked off the new year in Spain which was surreal and wonderful. We spent most of our time in Granada, but took a few days to visit Almeria, Malaga, and Madrid as well. We were blessed to meet with some brothers and sisters there who are doing the Lord's work and we were so humbled to see their heart to serve and put faith into action. It stirred our excitement for the ways in which our church might be called to serve there in the future.



What a beautiful country and what a unique culture! Our days rarely started before noon and rarely ended before 2 AM. We ate dinner close to 9 or 10 PM and enjoyed the mid-day siesta when everything and everyone slows down, closes shop and rests. (We need to bring that to the states!)



We even saw a bit of North African influence in the Teterias, or Moroccan Tea Houses, that we visited nearly every day.
We often ended our days in those dimly lit, narrow shops, sitting at small round tables on hand-woven cushions with our own personal Moroccan-style tea pot. We sipped sweet tea, pouring a little at a time into tiny glasses, like tiny tea shots. What a departure from the life we live here in the US!


We also managed to find a Dunkin Doughnuts in Malaga so that Greg didn't go into complete withdrawl...

Morocco....

After enjoying Spain, we ventured into Morocco. While Greg's amazing Spanish skills kept us more than afloat in Spain, French and Moroccan Arabic were two very unfamiliar languages to both of us. Thankfully, we stayed with our dear friends Chris and Kenza and Kenza's wonderful family in Rabat. It made all the difference in the world knowing someone who could help us get around!



Staying with friends made our adventures that much more fun! We were treated like guests of honor as Kenza's family filled our bellies with good, rich, flavorful, food every morning, noon, and night. We must have gained a few pounds! We ate Tajine together, drank authentic Moroccan tea, tried our hand at a few French and Arabic words, and explored the city with Kenza and her brother Rachid, who were gracious enough to guide and translate (praise the Lord!).


Again, we were awed by the beautiful country and culture there. To hear the Imam's give a call to worship Allah over giant loudspeakers blasted from the city Mosques several times a day-- even in the middle of the night-- was somewhat daunting to foreign ears. But what an insightful thing to be able to visit this part of the world! We were so blessed by everyone's hospitality there, the amazing food, the beautiful sites, and of course, the company!


Kenza and Rachid dressed us up in traditional Moroccan garb




Home Again...

Since our trip, we've been enjoying being home for a while and keeping busy here. Greg introduced me to the sport of road biking and, although this spring has been windy, we've enjoyed exploring the city that way. Greg, after much prayer, decided to pursue a PHD in Philosophy and Apologetics and has begun his program through Whitefield Theological Seminary. I am also going back to school for a MFA (Master of Fine Arts) in Creative Writing through a school in Ohio called Ashland University. Both of our programs are "low-residency" so that we can still work and serve here while doing school. I have continued to teach music and am growing a small business with that, and Greg is serving faithfully in ministry to youth and families. We are both excited to pursue further education together at this unique time in life that the Lord has allowed us.
We're both preparing for a lot of travel this summer, to Mexico, Guatemala, New York...etc. And will have more updates in August!

Snapshots...


Early morning balloon ride over the city

Sailing over the Rio Grande


Go-Go Girls at the Tate wedding


In rare form...



Lovely Spring Picnic!


Jammin'




Uncle Greg and Lillian