After a very rainy Memorial Day, we had a pleasant evening so we headed over to leave some family flowers. Colin kept himself busy by examining things left at graves. He loves flags.
Grand parents
I wanted a nice photo with Colin and my huge belly, but Colin was not having it.

Sadly we have a niece and a nephew buried here. We know their spirits are not here but are being well taken care of. My brother, whose son is the front grave, once reminded us of my great uncle who also lost a daughter and spoke about how the loss of a child is like an investment in eternity. I know our families will continue after this lifetime.

Colin loves water. He also has been very attached to wearing his orange coat again.

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Still pregnant. Thanks for the calls and emails, but yes, baby girl is still happy in her womb home. I am a day or two short of 40 weeks and my official due date is not until the end of the month, but since Colin was 10 days old by this point in his pregnancy, we are anxious to meet our baby girl. Last Tuesday it really seemed like things were getting started but then they stopped. I am anti-induction unless there is a medical reason, but I see why women (and doctors) opt for that option. I have been reading about all the preparations the baby is going through even until the very end (babies stock up on mom's iron since breast milk does not have much iron, and it is a time for baby to get extra antibodies above and beyond what is passed on via breast milk). I am happy she is getting extra time and we are taking time to rest and further prepare. We are trying to stay busy with Colin. We took him to Wheeler Farm yesterday and to a movie this afternoon. Anyway, Colin's birth was easy because I had about one day of early labor and then my water broke and he was here eight hours later. I hope that maybe this is a more laid back baby since she seems happy to just hang out. Colin kind of burst into the world and has not stopped. This baby girl is still carrying really high and seems to be pocking her bum out to the world. We supersticiously are not getting everything ready (like the bag to take to the birth center) because we will need something to do in early labor and if we are too ready she will wait until June. Anyway. . . think good birth thoughts for us.
Our good friend Alisa
and her husband Lonnie welcomes their twins into the world last week so that is the most exciting baby news we have. We are so happy for the new parents and hope to join them with two children sometime soon!

Brian here

This spinach is our first garden produce of the year. Not bad for May.

Red Onions. Ann's mom was out doing some watering and saw me come over to the garden (again). She walked over to comment on how out of control my obsession with the garden has become. I was just laying on my stomach to take a picture of the onions when she arrived. Point taken.

Yukon Gold potatoes

Top view of a Brandywine tomato plant. Brandywines are an Amish heirloom breed. One of the tastiest varieties out there. We have 22 tomato plants in the garden- 6 varieties. Yes, it is overkill. But no other type of produce better illustrates the huge gulf that exists between supermarket and garden fresh vegetables (fruits).

It's a big garden.

It was a great sunset tonight. Here's a shot of the grapes. People sometimes think there is a graveyard up on the property when they see the grape trellises from a distance.

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Since we finally have some nice weather, the garden Green Man is up and running again. My mom picked him up when they lived in England, and here is a bit from Wikipedia about the tradition: Found in many cultures around the world, the Green Man is often related to natural vegetative deities springing up in different cultures throughout the ages. Primarily it is interpreted as a symbol of rebirth, or "renaissance," representing the cycle of growth each spring.
It is nice to have a little vegetative deity looking out for us. We have loved watching spring finally come. Even just earlier this week there was hardly any ivy around the green man, and in a few days it has exploded. Sadly, we will be enjoying weather in the 90's in the next few days. Colin loves to be wet. This was after the run in with the sprinkler.
Here is one of Colin's water stations. You can see lots of Brian's and my Mom's seedling outside. They are HUGE now and many have made their way into the garden. We have tons extra tomato plants if interested. . .
Colin got a new used car this week. A neighbor whose daughter is getting rid of things her kids have out-grown hooked us up, and Colin has been so happy. We love it too because he will stay in one place playing with the car for a few minutes at a time. (This does not happen much outside.)
He is also learning about gas, and he will one day realize the good deal that his car gets. He is filling up with premium grade and purchased over 12 gallons for $14. Sounds like a dream. We are still very, very happy with our hybrid car (about 50 miles a gallon).

Again, Colin playing with water. Sadly, Colin has had a strange cough for a few weeks now and after a full round of amoxicillin, the doctor put him on a stronger antibiotic. He has only had three doses of the new medicine but has had 5 diarrhea diapers. For this I am very happy for extra plastic pants to go over the diaper and save me from so many changes of clothing. (I got the plastic pants the day before we went to France because he had diarrhea. That is the last thing I wanted to deal with on a trans-Atlantic flight, but things went well and it was Brian sick on the plane and not Colin.) Poor little guy though, as we do not want his bum to get sore and hate to see him a little sick. We wonder if the cough is better than the effects of the antibiotics. It is weird because he has very mild symptoms (slight runny nose) but then this hacking cough that does not want to go away. It does not seem like allergies or asthma. Maybe he is a secret smoker. So we will see what the doctor wants after this round.
AND, no baby yet. I am 39 weeks so I feel like a time bomb. Colin was born by this time, which makes me feel like I have been pregnant forever. We went on a long walk this morning but I did not even feel any contractions. Brian commented today that our life is a bit monotonous so we should shake things up by having a baby. Yeah, that would be nice. My feet are getting very swollen and Brian affectionately calls them little sausages. This is quite nice because they are actually big sausages. I'm achy and it is hard to move, but we are trying to stay active. Brian is having both sympathy pregnancy pain and an upset stomach in honor of Colin. How sweet.

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We took a few more head shots today. Here are the options, and we want to see what people like. Below is the current head shot Brian has been using. I still really like it, but with Brian's shorter hair and wanting to re-do one in color, we have been exploring options.
Option 1-previously posted
Option 2
Option 3
Option 4
Option 5Here is how Colin dealt with the photo shoot today. It was too much for him.
We had a lovely Mother's Day. I felt very maternal. Brian made cinnamon rolls and a lovely dinner, and gave me a new summer robe. He also took over Colin control during Church, which was very nice.

Nothing much

We have enjoyed almost an entire week together as a family. My parents are in Seattle and things have been quiet. We are trying to get a few things in order while we can, but we are kind of slow. I'm 38 weeks so it could be any day or it could be June. The baby is still very high, which is such a difference from Colin who stayed low the entire pregnancy. It is possible she will not drop until I am in labor, but I would kind of like some extra room for my lungs. I'm very healthy, including the human baby parasite in my abdominal cavity, who has great strong fetal heart tones. She gets the hiccups a lot and right now is moving so much that the shape of my huge belly keeps shifting. The baby is a lot more portable now, even if I'm just waddling around. Sadly I keep having commitments that keep me from my prenatal yoga class, as it is one thing that still feels really good on my achy pregnant body. Anyway. . . .this pregnancy has gone fast and very slow all at the same time. We are excited to meet the baby and I am sure she will choose a good birth day. I think May 20th would be nice, but we shall see.

We have been spending lots of time with "big toys" at local playgrounds. Colin will now take on any slide and loves climbing everything (including non-toys). He requires many hours outside a day. As we have been getting baby things out, he becomes very obsessed with them. The other day I got out the port-a-crib for my friend's little girl because I had some old roommates from BYU visit. Sadly, we did not take any photos of visiting friends and all their children. Colin has become obsessed with the crib since I got it out. As we have been on the road so much, the port-a-crib was the only crib he knew. He learned how to climb out of it when he was 17 months old so we switched him to a toddler bed. However, he has been only wanting to sleep in the crib and seems to have forgotten how to get out (for now). He also had to take several baths in the infant tub, which he thought was a boat. It will be very interesting to see how he does with a new born.

We are in the process of taking new head shots for Brian. I like this one, but there are still a few more things we are going to try. This is still a very raw photo as Brian has not processed it though photo shop. We were just checking a few things today.

Colin was very bored by the picture taking and just wanted his Dada to chase him. I bought Colin some chocolate yogurt and that is what is all over his mouth. He has had a strange cough, which got him on antibiotics this week. I am happy to have him eat yogurt, even if it is chocolate. He used to love yogurt but has not eaten it well recently. He loves his antibiotics and would have multiple doses at a time if he had his way. It is only his second time on antibiotics and the first did not go so well, so we are pleased. He was so cute at the doctor's office. Any little thing they would check on him he would say "oh thank you" and just loved the whole experience. He remembered that he gets stickers at the doctor's. They had Curious George stickers which were very exciting.
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Brian was in Boston all last week to sing the tenor role in Franz Josef Haydn's "The Creation". He loved singing the piece again, and the concert was very well-received. Here is a bit from the Boston Globe's review:

Tenor Brian Stucki was superb, with a bright, easy tone that maintained sweetness even in heavier moments; he adopted subtle personae throughout, be it his droll reminder to Adam and Eve to stay out of trouble, or the roguish glint in his eye as hell's spirits were cast down.

(Here is the link to the full article if so desired) I am very happy things went to well for him. He will be back in Boston in early December for several Messiah performances with the Handel and Haydn Society, which was the first performing organization to present Messiah on American soil.

My brother and sister-in-law were able to come to one of the performances from CT. They overheard some older ladies talking about how Brian was something like, delicious, or melts in your mouth (Pat and April will have to fill in the details). Brian has a way with older women. I wish I could have been there but considering a few difficult factors, Colin and I stayed home. The baby was on strict orders to not be born while Brian was gone and she did a good job. She is now welcome anytime, well, after Brian's commitments this weekend. She will choose a good birthday.

We recently watched “The Business of Being Born” and since we are in this business, (I am now 37 weeks pregnant so I’m considered full-term! Bring it on baby!) We enjoyed all the questions and issues it brought up. Mostly, I think it is interesting how we are taught by our culture to fear birth and to mistrust our bodies, when the majority of births are normal. Yes, birth is unpredictable and can be extremely frightening, but our culture is obsessed with this fear when childbirth is a very normal part of most woman’s lives. (My heart does ache for friends who have struggled with infertility or lack a proper sperm donor.)

I have some strong opinions about childbirth since it is a field I have been active in, even years before my own child bearing. I trained as a doula (labor assistant, see for more info) in 2000. I have always been amazed with birth. I feel it is a miraculous and spiritual process where the power of God moves through a woman’s body to bring new life. Before I was trained as a doula and assisted other women through childbirth, I just kind of assumed I would deliver my future children the way most American women do: in a hospital, with an OB and medical interventions. The film discusses the current crisis in American maternity care. Just watch the film to find out what I’m talking about as there is too much to mention. (The documentary is available thought Netflix and your local library). Suffice it to say that Cuba and Poland have better infant mortality rates than the USA. I read another article recently that stated “the maternal death rate in the USA is four times higher than it should be and why is no one talking about this?”* . There are many very alarming trends that hurt our women and children, many of which come from cultural/medical perceptions which treat birth as a pathology and not a normal, healthy, state of being. I am very grateful for the medical advances that are available and that save women and children everyday. However, in the majority of women, birth is a normal process. With proper preparation, a belief in the birth process, and confronting the fear of childbirth instead of giving into it, I believe women could have more options in the process of birth. Many more problems can arise when unnecessary medical interventions are introduced. (I am not judging people who choose a medical birth, but I do think if women really looked at what is going on in maternal/child health and knew what questions to ask that some different choices would be made.) Here is a local example from Utah. Utah has an 80% induction rate, which directly corresponds to a nearly 40% cesarean rate since induction greatly increases the probability of a surgical outcome. Many OB/GYNs insist that pitocin creates the exact same physical effect as oxytocin, the body’s natural hormone. Not so. This assumption ignores the many other dynamics taking place in the body of a woman who is coming into labor naturally. Pitocin contractions tend to be much more intense and less manageable without pain medications and can put the baby through unnecessary stress. In normal circumstances, about 15% of pregnancies will have a medical reason to end in a cesarean, which again, is wonderful and saves lives. But C- sections are major surgery and carry all the attending risks of major surgery. When they are happening over twice as often as they should, it is time to ask some questions.

Many women feel technology is giving them more options but it is actually taking choices away. What happens with an epidural is a good example. Epidurals are great in relieving pain, but everything that comes with an epidural (urinary catheter, continuous fetal monitoring, IVs, the epidural needle itself, etc) make it necessary for a woman to labor in bed. There are few positions less helpful to the labor process (and birth) then being flat on one’s back. It negates the help of gravity and impedes the woman’s ability to move freely, all of which can help the baby descend and get into a good position for birth. For pain relief and management, laboring in a bath or shower or using different pressure points and positions are also very helpful but are no longer an option. I been present for multiple epidurals and I have seen good and bad examples of the effects they have on a laboring woman. (Good example, a mom with a very, very long labor and was exhausted, chose an epidural, was able to rest and finish dilating, got to 10 cm and successfully brought her beautiful baby into the world. Bad example, the baby’s heart rate slowed down dramatically after the epidural, which necessitated more interventions, not to mention frightening the new parents. Prior to the epidural the baby was tolerating labor without any complications.) As a personal irony, my mom, who gave birth to my six older siblings naturally, had an epidural for my birth and loved it!

As I was taught as a doula, when considering medical procedures we should consider the risks, benefits, and alternatives available. (Even here, there is question as to whether hospitals provide full disclosure as to the risks entailed with certain procedures. If this were not an issue, I don’t believe that purely elective C-sections for healthy pregnancies would ever take place).Women are typically not taught to think like this about childbirth and the medical establishment is certainly not forthcoming with any options other then those which fit their model (a model which is typically geared toward artificial timelines in labor progress and aggressive management). Many first time moms I have spoken to did not even know they had other options in childbirth outside of the typical interventions. And even if a woman is aware of other options, the power disparity that typically exists between a laboring woman and her OB/GYN makes choice illusory.

* from “Masking Maternal Mortality” by Ina May Gaskin in the March/April 2008 issue of the magazine “Mothering”.
More reading about the cultural fear of birth:
Robbie Davis-Floyd is a Cultural Anthropologist and has many interesting articles about childbirth here:

On a personal note:
Colin was born in a hospital, and the birth itself was a wonderful and empowering experience. I had Brian laboring with me and could not have done it without him. He has become a great advocate for natural childbirth as he is among a minority of people who have witnessed how labor can proceed naturally (only about 14% of American women give birth naturally). We also had a great nurse, midwife, and two very supportive friends who came to welcome Colin into the world. The hospital never pressured me to receive pain medication or unnecessary interventions, and I was very, very happy to not have an IV, continuous fetal monitoring (Doppler yes but I was not strapped to the bed). However, I had a very quick labor (8 hours total, about 5 hours in the hospital) and things may have been different if I had been hanging out there for 24+ hours. I trusted my body. I trusted the birth process, and visualized every contraction bringing me closer to holding my baby. I was able to totally relax, not fight against the process but completely give into it. The only time I felt uncomfortable in the whole process was when the nurse made me stay still or in a position I did not want to be in to take my blood pressure. I was free to move around and naturally and innately found ways to be comfortable. We had a situation with Colin after he was born where we felt that hospital policy took precedence over what would have been best for our situation, and this is why we are choosing to give birth in a birth center instead of a hospital this time. The birth center is amazingly peaceful and lovely, and has a 3% cesarean rate (which is partially due to the fact that higher risk pregnancies are referred out to OBs and hospitals, as they should be.) All other outcome statistics are also better than average at the birth center. I do understand that if there is anything threatening my life or the life of my baby, we will head to a hospital, and I completely trust my midwife to make that judgment call. I am almost more nervous for this birth experience than I was the first time around since Colin was so easy and since if I develop complications I will need to go to a hospital. But knowing all that I know, and that birth is unpredictable, I know it will be ok however things happen. I simply hope for a healthy baby and a healthy me.

Baby Colin just born.