Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas from the Vonderhaus!

It's a world-wide birthday party!!
Happy Birthday Jesus!

Just a quick video of Christmas Day at the Vonderhaus...

Yes, it's true...Micah got a cap gun. He's been making everything into guns lately, and I thought he might like something that makes loud noises. And truth be told, I loved cap guns as a kid, and couldn't wait to share caps with my kids. As soon as the snow melts, we're going outside with a roll of caps and a hammer, and I'll show them what fun that is!

However, "all-boy" Micah with a gun is one of those funny/scary things. When he opened it, he explained, "Shoot people! Kill people!" Oh geez... Don't worry, we set him straight. Shoot animals, buddy. Kill dinner.


My heart fights against the consumerism and forced good-will towards men during this season. It wasn't until I was wrapping presents and assembling stockings last night that I started to get that giddy Christmas Spirit feeling. And then baby Jesus showed up in the nativity scene and we sang "Happy Birthday". And I realized that because of one little baby, who just happens to be the world's Savior, God is doing miracles all over the place, sometimes where God wouldn't have otherwise been invited in. So seasonal good-will or a genuine act of worship, I'll take it.

Thank you, God, for sending your Son.

As a baby.

To be with us, to show yourself to us.

To save the world!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Want a taste of my life? Go hang out with a roomful of preschoolers hopped up on Christmas cookies for an hour, then come and watch these videos. If that doesn't make you feel sleepy, I don't know what will.

Minutes later...

That is why I don't get much done these days... I'm tranquilized!

(Which, by the way, reminds me of this. The only part of that movie that makes me laugh 'till I cry! "YES!! That's AWESOME!!")

Sunday, December 14, 2008


I just made some changes to the blog. I did this because it's been a long time since I blogged and I wanted to make a little mark. Carve "wendy wuz here" on the wall. I didn't expect to write a whole stinkin' article. These things keep me up too late. I only came here to make some little changes... Like the awesome title picture of my kids, taken by our friend Aaron Courter. He did a whole fall photo shoot for us, and I think he has a great eye for the personality of the world around him. His pictures aren't just well taken, they are interesting, like they tell a story.

And I changed the description of me and what I do. What do I do? It doesn't feel like much these days. I feel a little bit like a bee trapped in an overturned glass. There's so much work to be done, but I'm stuck with a very limited flying radius, and I can see where I want to go. Half the time I can't think straight. Is it the winter weather? Is it the late-night addiction to catching up on LOST? Is it nursing a baby? Is it all the driving back and forth between home and school and school and home and back to school, then home again, then school, then home...and yes, that's the routine every day, sometimes with an errand or a visit with friends thrown in. Thank goodness gas prices came down recently! Is it the early-morning burping and diaper-changing? Maybe the toddlers that still come in about an hour after that early-morning baby feeding to get into our crowded bed to announce they've wet the bed? Maybe... where was I going with this? I've forgotten; I'm so tired.

I've been thinking recently about marginalization. No, that doesn't mean the making of margarine. (Ha! I'm hilarious!) I'm talking about the things that make us feel marginalized as people. My friend Jessi did a class project on the marginalization of moms. It's really cool and I hope you click on the link and check it out. After watching the video, I went about my day as usual: make-up-less, hair half-straightened, donning my uniform of maternity pants and a baggy sweatshirt...but with pride! For a couple of days I didn't care what I looked like, or how I compared with the mainstream world, my peers, or even my own lofty expectations! I listened to my mom friends as they hinted at their shortcomings, their tiny disappointments that were just part of their daily lives. Big to-do lists, figuring out their children, dealing with relatives. The more I listened, the more I wanted to shout, "WE ARE O.K. JUST THE WAY WE ARE! STOP FRETTING!" Our lives as moms seem too often to be a constant striving uphill. There is so much to do, and although we will never keep the laundry or dishes done, be totally self-sustaining, eco-friendly and p.c., lose all the weight and stop the wrinkles, parent our children and respect our husbands perfectly, find the perfect balance of family and volunteerism so that we can impact the world just so, and then blog about all of it in the hopes of getting at least a single comment to affirm that we're not unseen... we continue to strive. There is a lingering sense of dissatisfaction, because when it's all said and done, we are still just moms. There are no Emmys or Oscars for being a mom. No one gets rich and famous being a mom. And I'm not telling you anything that hasn't been said before. But we carry on because that fuzzy feeling of love for our children or our husbands, or even for God outweighs the struggle. Sometimes we get tired, and that "mom" name tag seems really heavy But like giving birth-- which started this whole thing in the first place-- you can't just give up and walk away. The hard work needs to be done and you are the only one who can do it.

So I decided to start reading Jesus in the Margins again. It's written by my pastor, Rick. He points out that Jesus can relate to the margins. He even arrived in the margins. Recently in a sermon he pointed out that Jesus even showed up here subversively...not like you'd think God would arrive. He says that Jesus "comes to the scandalous margins of society in order to identify with those of us who live in those places." Not only does Jesus identify with me in the margins, but he's there to rename me. "Yes, society names you, but there's another who names you, someone whose perception of you is ultimately more powerful than anything society can label you with," Rick says. "Which means, if you want to observe the glory of the Lord, if you want to witness the display of his splendor and his work, you have go to the margins to see it. Because it's in the margins where [moms do their amazing work]. Jesus says that they are the display of his splendor."

Now, I could tell you stories about how God has been renaming us here at the Vonderhaus. That is something I really understand. And so I start to see mothering-- and my identity in mothering-- in a whole new light. What I do in the margins for the glory of the Lord will look different to the world. It won't be competitive, not even in the form of "good ideas". It might look downright subversive at times. But what I will be doing for the glory of the Lord will be listening. A LOT of listening. I will be listening to God, calling me by the name He's picked out, giving me an agenda that has nothing to do with my dust-bunnies, my bathroom scale, the school fundraiser, or the huge piles of laundry around the house. "Jesus will be calling me out of the margins and into the fullness of divine love." And dang, it won't be'll be there with me. Imagine, a Mom's Community in the margins, touting our new names, displaying the Lord's splendor and his work! Our own little club, "all about Jesus' love being poured out into and through your life to others." (still quoting Jesus in the Margins)

So as I walk around like a zombie with my newborn, forgetting to call you or show up at parent meetings at school, as I skip out on parties and volunteerism, and if you come to my house and it smells weird and I look as messy as my living room but I have a smile on my face, just know that you may be looking at the Lord at work! If you talk with me for a few minutes, may you see a glimpse of the Lord's splendor... and not an endless struggle to push a boulder up a hill....

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Robeez Season of Giving

Now, who doesn't like Robeez? Even if you don't have kids, you want to buy these for somebody because they're just so danged cute, and they're great for kids' feet. They feel natural. They stay on. They last. Awesome.

For Robeez' Season of Giving, they will make a $5 contribution towards Kids in Distressed Situations for every ecard sent. Go here to send your ecard and make a difference for free during this season of giving. Easy-peazy-lemon-squeezy!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

I am not very political. In fact, I tend to shy away from all things controversial in the world unless I happen to be an expert in the subject. And, uhhmm...there's very little that I'm an expert on. And I certainly didn't pay a whole lot of attention in World History class-- I can't even remember who my teacher was (but I do remember the boy in the front row whom I asked to prom!). So now that you know how completely shallow I am where history and political science are concerned, it won't surprise you that I haven't ever considered Veterans Day as much more than a day off of school. Even today, I was mostly concerned with keeping tabs on the kids as they celebrated the four-day weekend by scattering off to friend's houses. And once, I thought "oh yeah--Veterans Day" as I fished around in the mailbox to find it empty.

One summer I had this boring job where I sat around in an office break room with a bunch of old farts, waiting to shuttle cars from here to there. So one day I decided to suck up my pride, put my naivety and poor schooling on my sleeve and start asking some questions about what it was like to have been a part of WWII. I thought it would be fantastic to hear it from the horse's mouth...real historical figures in my midst! I'm sure my eyes began to glaze over as they started to relay information that was so far out of my frame of reference that I was soon overwhelmed completely. However, that day sparked a desire in me to know the wars in America's History. There are a whole generation of Americans that had their lives changed by WWII. As if gentrification wasn't enough, to think that the major thing that changed you isn't even known, much less understood or remembered would be a little lonely and frustrating I think. There are a whole new generation of Americans that are being effected by the wars in the Gulf and Middle East. Will our grandchildren know what 9/11 is? Will they be able to explain the "War on Terror" as more than a Jon Stewart punchline?
As much as I wasted the bulk of this holiday not considering our country's veterans, I do think about my brother every day. He's in Iraq for the second time. He will have missed two birthdays and Christmas with family by the time he gets back. So if today I don't further my education of the veteran's experience, I will consider the sacrifices my brother, and therefore all the people currently serving our country, are making. I am proud of him for serving something bigger than himself, and because of him I am a little more proud to be American...and a little more political, too. So thank you, Chris, for showing America's sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations... you are in my prayers, I love you and miss you!
"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"
President Wilson, November 1919

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy Birthday

This is a busy time for us in the birthday department (which means the new year must be a pretty inspirational time for us!)...Morgen, Micah and Noble all have birthdays within 8-17 days of each other. Not only are their birthdays all bunched together, they are flanked by sweets-filled holidays (so must we really have cake too?). And then there's the awful truth that they are simply not the first boy and first girl who get all the first fruits of my imagination and parenting inspiration (perhaps they don't know to start demanding it months in advance). So sometimes I feel like they get a bit shafted with the birthday celebrating. I have to say though, that I am enjoying the challenge of carefully watching and listening to each child for what makes them unique and what I love about each one. They are all so different! I love them all equally but in different ways and for different reasons. I like that I am being challenged by the troupe to plan ahead and manage our time and resources because-- and I am appreciating this too-- the weight is on my shoulders to show them that they are special and loved unconditionally, and there is such a short window to do that before the foundation is laid and they are off building upon it.

MORGEN is FIVE! ....independent, creative, morning light!

Morgen has a great preschool teacher, Teacher Marge, who gifted Morgen a book on her birthday. Morgen wore one of her new princess dresses from Grammy to school, and she was celebrated with a birthday crown and a song!

Morgen wanted a Princess Party at Chuck E. Cheese's, so that's what she got! She changed princess dresses, wore her crown ALL day, and enjoyed running around CEC with a few of her friends. She even put up with Chucky for a minute, even though she refused to give him a high-five.

Tiny little things are thoughtful gifts from friends.

Mommy made a princess cake; Morgen added the sprinkles.

MICAH is FOUR! ....snuggling, energy, pure joy!

Micah got Blue sitting at the beach playing guitar (I just cannot get the layer-cake thing right! Why is my frosting always oozing off the cake?!). He made sure I knew what he wanted (after changing his mind about five times): "I want Blue's Clues! I want candles!" He was pretty excited to find a candle in the shape of a four on his cake! Four is his new number, you know.

The boy loves books! He was so excited (as were the rest of the kids) to get a bunch of new books from Grammy...including a gross one all about worms.

Since Taylor recently got a cool new wallet (like Daddy's) he decided to give his old one to Micah. "Hey, just like Tay-duh's!!" Micah exclaims. "Bob duh Bil-duh!"

"I'm getting ice cream!" he plans out loud to himself, singing the Bob the Builder theme song while he stuffs the $5 bill from Gramma & Papa in his wallet.

He was stoked to try out his very own Big Wheels (sin pantalones, of course!)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Noble's First Day

I should be sleeping right now...

...when I'm tired (which I am, because we went out for a while today) I feel the breath of postpartum on the back of my neck, threatening sadness...

But Noble is over eight days old already and I wanted
to post some more pictures of the big day...

He is so tiny and precious!

He loves to snuggle and to be held. In fact, if I need him to wake up, I just put him down and walk away for a few minutes. I knew when I was pregnant that he was going to be this way.

David has been awesome, doing almost everything with the kids: driving, cooking, buying a violin, going on field trips, while at the same time finishing the bedroom floor, assembling the bed (I helped with that) while I mostly just sit on the couch and let this baby [re-]condition my breasts into nursing machines. (Minor expletives involved.) I don't know how I will do this on my own when he goes back to work!

Everyone loves the baby. Morgen has not stopped asking "can I hold the baby?" since he was born! She is very mommy-esque.

I left them together for a minute and when I came back she was rocking him in her arms, singing songs to him. "He's got the whole world, in his hands..." Noble seems to really love being sung to (not all the kids did). His middle name, Ranen, means "to sing, to have joy." I think we chose a good name.

Micah likes to snuggle up next to this baby (he's been our morning snuggler since he was born). Noble turns and looks at him, waiting for him to talk. Micah says "I like him," and "Hi Noble!" and "baby like me!" (the baby likes me.)

Let's face it. These boys are all in love with each other. They are really great kids; I am fortunate for the relationships they all have.

Taylor brings out the "to have joy" part of Noble. He finds something to laugh about every day, from his funny faces... his little squeaky-toy sounds.

Now I think I'm going to go lay down with this little guy on my chest and go to sleep...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Noble Ranen Vonderahe

I have been pregnant for long enough. I can hardly walk, my extremities are swollen and numb, everything hurts, and my belly seems in a constant state of contraction. So October 17th, Friday morning around 4am, I gladly welcomed the backache that is true labor; I was ready to get this show on the road!
We woke up Aunt Renee and the kids and scurried around quietly gathering jackets and shoes and piled into the car. We checked into the hospital around 5:30am and had to wait while they found a room because they were so busy with new babies (I'm telling you, it's that full moon theory!). As they wheeled me around I had back-to-back contractions and even felt what I'll call the UTP ("urge to push")...not the best position for having contractions. I politely explained to the nurses that this was the 5th baby, and it would be happening fast ("so get that damn tub filled up!" I added in my mind), thinking of friends whose 5th babies were born into their daddy's hands after nurses and midwives didn't take them seriously.
They only had a chance to take one heartbeat monitor before I got into the tub. Things were looking good! This is my favorite way to labor: standing with my head in David's chest, drawing strength from his body. He is a rock, an amazing birthing partner. The nurses, midwives and doula said we really work well as a team which is awesome to hear...but I guess we've had a little practice at this thing, right?
I was glad to have our doula, Amanda there. It was strangely comforting knowing there was someone who had no medical agenda, who was only present to listen to and help communicate and meet my needs. I don't know why I didn't quite understand this before. I always assumed having David was enough, but as you can see, he is busy having his body squeezed and bitten, and he is permitted only a few words before I am hissing at him to STOP TALKING. Even though there wasn't time for her to contribute much in action, just having her present felt very supportive.
I am very proud of Korah and Taylor, my birth photo-journalists. They have a special nack for capturing the details of the moments, and their physical perspective makes for an interesting-- and often more modest-- composition. Plus, it gives them something to do, a purpose, and they are less inclined to worry and feel helpless when mommy is going through something difficult. The younger two are apt to follow the crowd: if it's alright with Korah and Taylor, it must be alright! Still, it was excellent to have their favorite Aunt Renee to snuggle and to wait with.

Micah probably could've just gone back to sleep.

Morgen just takes it all in. She's a learner! She's seen and heard mommy go through all sorts of emotions before, and she knows she's waiting for a baby!

When my water broke, there was a small amount of Meconium, and they told me I was going to have to get out of the tub to have the baby and they were going to have to call Peds, etc, so after the next contraction, could I just wait? Ah-ha-ha! Waiting again... very funny! Telling a force of nature to wait. Sure. Noble heard this and decided to just be born.
It was amazing--he just came squeezing right out! I mean, it was intensely hard work, but it was so incredibly fast! It was funny hearing the nurses getting ready for me to hop (yeah, right) onto a bed, and then switch to "nope, we're gonna have a baby!"
That's right we're gonna have a baby!
I love that the baby was instantly in my arms. No one elses. My very own prize for doing all that work! Right away I looked to see if it was a boy or a girl. Then as the names we had chosen got lost in my head I looked at him and said, "who are you?!" It was like I had not taken the time to consider that a real human was causing this pregnancy, was the purpose of this labor, and when suddenly there was this human in my arms it felt like "where did you come from? Do I know you?"
I was eager to share him with David, who was suddenly (to me) the only other person in the room...

8 pounds, 2 ounces...20 inches long
Born at 6:28am, October 17th, 2008
Only 2 1/2 hours of labor!

Korah is thrilled to have a baby brother, and to be the first to hold him!
For days she's been saying "I want you to have that baby to-day, mommy!"

Look at that proud papa and his gaggle of children :)

Micah has been eager to meet the baby for a long time. He's very curious to check him out.

The kids had heard a lot about the placenta, now they get to have a tour of it! We love life's lessons. And their expressions are priceless!

Korah, knowing a good photo op when she sees it, gets a good picture of the placenta's "tree". It's a bit much to post here on the family-friendly blog, but it's a great photo.

Noble came out wailing!! The boy does NOT like to be suddenly cold.

Ahhh...that heat lamp feels good.
Now give me back to my mommy.

Friday, September 26, 2008


I do childcare at the YMCA. In order to make it inviting and somewhat entertaining for our guests, we have an event calendar every month, chock-full of fun things to do like tattoo days and paper boat making. My boss finds ridiculous holidays on the web and my job is to invent activities to do on those days. I secretly love it, but I play it cool because I know I'm already a nerdy underpaid overachiever to my 20-something co-workers. Whatever. Love what you do, I say.

This last week, on one of my days off, it was National Comic Book Day. So before I left the day before, I went to my favorite place, the gigantic chalkboard, and drew up a bunch of blank comic strip pages with the instructions "CREATE YOUR OWN COMIC BOOK".

Today, seeing as how most of our guests are under three years old, the "Comic Book" was mostly a bunch of smeared scribbles. But then on one side was a single drawing of a boy named Hayden and his mini-biography. I have never even met Hayden, but I just thought this was awesome. I didn't have my camera with me, so I copied his drawing and here is my expanded interpretation: