Monday, July 30, 2012

A Strong Woman

“You are a strong woman.”

I knew it more than felt it.  Was there something different in my reflection?  As I washed my hands, I couldn’t help but feel there was something unrecognizable about my eyes.  I wasn’t sure I was quite the same person I had been a few days before.  I had been a girl then.  Now, girlhood was gone -- replaced by motherhood.

It was April 1, 2012, and everything felt different.  My daughter Anna Christine had been born that morning.

It was a home birth after a long labor.  Contractions started late Thursday night, and it was now Sunday – Palm Sunday.  I had slept very little during those few days.  Excitement, adrenaline, and pain conspired to keep me awake.  I tried to sleep, but I couldn’t.  I took little more than a few short naps during my labor.

I knew going into it that every woman and labor was different, but I hadn’t been prepared for how different mine was.  Based on what I had read and also learned at childbirth class, I expected a pattern of contractions that would start out mild, far apart, and short and gradually become stronger, closer together, and longer.  My experience over Friday and Saturday did not match this pattern, however. The contraction intervals were all over the place and were anywhere from three to twenty minutes apart.  The most common interval was about ten to fifteen minutes apart.  Most of them lasted between 90 seconds and two minutes.  The pain was intense.  Physically, it was challenging, but I was also perplexed that my “labor” was not matching what I expected it to be like.  I grew more and more exhausted, but sleep would still not come.

Despite the long hours laboring, by mid Saturday afternoon, I had not dilated much and was still not considered in “active labor” since a regular pattern had not been established.  I was tempted to become discouraged, but I tried to keep in mind that labor can change quickly.  Just because I had progressed only a little bit in a long time did not mean it would continue that way.

My husband Zachary also encouraged me.  He took such good care of me over those days!  He brought me water and food, encouraged me to walk and move around, read me scriptures, etc.  I had two pages of Bible verses written out for him to choose from, but one in particular came to mean more to me than I could have imagined. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me [Philippians 4:13].”

One of our midwife’s assistants came back to check on me Saturday evening, and I had finally made significant progress.  I was seven to eight centimeters dilated, so the midwife and the other assistant were called in.  I was so thankful I was able to stay home during this process.  I think it would have added an extra level of stress if we had to drive 45 minutes into Tulsa for the birth of our baby.

I remember changing the calendars over to the new month with Zachary.  I was almost 42 weeks pregnant, so even though I knew it was normal for pregnancies to go that long, I had sort of expected our baby to be born already.  Yet, April had come and we now knew without a doubt that it was the day our little baby would meet the world.

The wee hours of Sunday took me to my breaking point and beyond, but the Lord was with me.  My midwife had me go through a series of positions to help the baby get in the right place for delivery.  It was rough, very rough.  In my worst moments, I felt I could not go on.  I didn’t want to say it, but “I can’t do it!” came from my lips.  I could never leave it like that though. In my worst pain I urged myself on.  “I CAN do it!”  If I could manage it, I confessed, “I can do ALL things through CHRIST who gives me strength.”  Other times, I said it in my mind where God alone could hear me.

So many people had prayed for the safe delivery of our baby.  Zachary and I formed new bonds that night.  He was ever my pillar of calm strength.  Just knowing he was nearby brought me comfort.  Our marriage was less than a year old, but our closeness could not be measured by time itself.  As a childhood friend turned sweetheart, he knows me like no one else.

The knowledge that my parents were awake and praying for me in a nearby hotel brought me additional strength.  I know other people were praying for me too.  I will never forget being told later by a dear friend and mentor that she had stayed up all night praying for me.  Believe me, I needed it.  I had never been so tempted to feel alone, powerless, and weak.

We made it through the night.  Dawn’s light peeped through our window blinds.  I remember being surprised by the light.  The night was gone.  Our little Palm Sunday baby had to be born soon.

My midwives were concerned about how weak I was after days of so little sleep, so they fed me bite size pieces of cheese throughout the night. I did not want that cheese, but I only refused it once.  I knew I was in the best possible care, and I was not about to ignore their advice.  The best interests of me and my baby motivated their torturous food choice.  At the time, I wondered if I would ever be able to eat and enjoy cheese again, but thankfully, I can.

Finally, it was time to deliver the baby.  I went through the pushing phase faster than I think they expected.  I was so exhausted, but I was not about to dawdle if I had a choice.  I told the midwives I needed to be DONE!

The moment came at 8:53 a.m. I will never forget seeing my baby girl’s face for the first time.  I recognized her.  She was my daughter; there was no mistaking it.  A perfect blend of my husband and I, Anna Christine Pruett didn’t just look like a baby, she looked like our baby.  Holding Anna in my arms felt like the most natural thing in the world.  My dream of being a mother had come true.  Seeing Zachary, the love of my life, hold little Anna brought a new smile to my face I have experienced every day since.  Our journey of parenthood had begun.

So, looking in the mirror later that Sunday, I knew I had entered a new stage in life.  My experience had forever changed me.  Yes, I am still Elizabeth with the same personality, interests, and desires as before, but I am not the girl I was.  My eyes tell a deeper story now.  I am a mother, and, with God’s help, I commit my life to being the best mother I can be.

“You are a strong woman.”

Yes, with God’s strength, I am.

Friday, July 27, 2012

The Washington State Moore Family: 1940

Lawrence and Marjorie Moore were living with their three children in Buenna, a neighborhood in Federal Way, King County, Washington, when the 1940 census enumerator came by on April 22.  They were just a short distance from Seattle where Lawrence worked as an auto painter.

Lawrence was a veteran of the Great War and a Michigan native who had spent time in Lodi, California during his younger years.  Now, at age 46, he had been living in the Seattle area for more than a decade. It could be a compliment to his youthful appearance that his wife, Marjorie, reported her husband’s age as being only 36 – the same answer given ten years previously for the 1930 census.  Or, it was just the mistake of the enumerator.

Lawrence Lloyd Moore, Sr.
Marjorie was only four days shy of her 38th birthday, but she accurately reported her own age as 37.  Born in Iowa, she came from a family on the move; she had already been in Washington longer than anywhere else.  In fact, she and her husband had been living in the same neighborhood for at least five years, and they now owned a house worth $3,700.

I know this because one of the questions on the 1940 census asked each person where they were living five years before on April 1, 1935.  The Moore family indicated that they had lived in the “same place,” so they were in a different house in the same town and county.  There seems to be an abnormality with how their enumerator used the 1935 “State” box, however.  For non-migrants like the Moore family, the box should have been left blank, but instead, for Lawrence it reads “Glenn” and for Marjorie, “Council Bluffs.”  Obviously, Glenn and Council Bluffs are not states, so what question were they answering?   One possibility is that they were asked where they considered themselves from – their hometown.  Glenn, Michigan, is not too far away from where Lawrence grew up, and Council Bluffs is in Marjorie’s birth state of Iowa.  This is just one possible explanation.

Marjorie Ellis Rosenberg Moore
Lawrence had an eighth grade education, while Marjorie had four years of high school.  Lawrence worked, “For pay or profit in private or nonemergency Govt. work during week of March 24-30” with a 40 hour work week.  He had been employed all 52 weeks of the previous year.  His income was $1,300, and they were not receiving money from any other sources.  Marjorie was engaged in home housework.

Lawrence and Marjorie had three sons, all born in Washington State.  Lawrence Jr. was eight years old and had completed the second grade.  Robert was six, and although attending school, had not finished any grades yet.  The youngest, Bruce, was just seven months old.

Bess Mayo, Lawrence’s 57 year old sister, was living in Kenmore which is also in King County.  Thirty years previously, in 1910, she was Mrs. Merritt Galbreath, but sometime after that year her marriage disintegrated.  I was unable to find her in the 1920 or 1930 census records, but she was married to Arthur Mayo on 19 January 1932.  By 1940, Arthur and Bess owned a home worth $3,000. Arthur was a 55 year old native of Maine. Bess was born in Michigan.  Both had four years of high school.  In 1935, they had been living in Seattle.  Neither was working outside the home, and although no occupation is listed, Arthur’s income was $1,700 after working all 52 weeks of 1939.  Bess did the home housework.

Everett Heister
Another sister, Ruth Heister, was 55 and living about a hundred miles to the north in Lynden, Whatcom County.  Previously married to Frederick Dougherty, she married widower O. [Oscar] Everett Heister (56) on 7 October 1933.  The two were renting their home on Main Street for $25. Everett’s 20 year old son Nevin lived with them.  Father and son were both born in Indiana.  Ruth was born in Michigan.  The three of them had been living in Seattle in 1935.  Everett had three years of high school while Ruth had one.  Everett owned a furniture store, and Ruth was the bookkeeper. They both worked 48 hours a week and were fully employed in 1939. Nevin was in college, having completed two years already and was working part-time.  He was a draftsman assigned to public emergency work during the week of March 24-30 for 12 hours.  He worked 36 weeks in 1939 for $135 and was unemployed three weeks. 

Ruth and Everett Heister in front of their furniture store.
So, in 1940, three of the seven Moore siblings, children of William and Evangeline Moore, were living in Washington State.  No one could have known that Lawrence, a young husband and father, had less than a year on this earth remaining to him.  He was injured in a car crash on his way home from work on New Year’s Eve 1940, and he died on 22 January 1941.
Arthur and Bess Mayo, William F. Moore, Larry in front, Everett and Ruth Heister, Robert in front, Lawrence Moore, Sr. About 1939.
Source Information: 1940 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2012. Original data: United States of America, Bureau of the Census. Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1940. T627, 4,643 rolls.

Source Citation:
Year: 1940; Census Place: Buenna, King, Washington; Roll: T627_4343; Page: 1A; Enumeration District: 17-37.

Year: 1940; Census Place: Lynden, Whatcom, Washington; Roll: T627_4369; Page: 11A; Enumeration District: 37-52.

Year: 1940; Census Place: Kenmore, King, Washington; Roll: T627_4344; Page: 2A; Enumeration District: 17-99.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Frank Spencer Obituary

Frank Spencer as a young man.
The Bristow News
Thursday, May 7, 1959
Page 1

Rites Wednesday For Mr. Spencer -- Church Member Seventy Years

Services were held at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Free Will Baptist church for Frank Wolfward [Walford?] Spencer with the Reverend George M. Schaum officiating, assisted by the Reverend Waldo Young.

Mr. Spencer died Sunday [3 May 1959] in Bristow Memorial hospital.

He was born in Kentucky, May 20, 1868 and came to Oklahoma in 1904.  A retired farmer and carpenter, he had lived in Bristow for 30 years.  He had been a member of the Free Will Baptist church for 70 years.

Survivors are his wife, Mollie, of the home, 309 East Second; six daughters, Mrs. Viola Miller, Bristow, Mrs. Vickie Palmer, Waco, Texas, Mrs. Allie Walls, Antioch, California, Mrs. Leora Arnold, Drumright, Mrs. Rosa Osburn, Tahlequah, and Mrs. Ida Brown, California; one son, William Spencer, Bristow; one stepson, Sherman Hammons, McKinney, Texas; one step-daughter, Mrs. Ada Looney, Venica, California; 27 grandchildren, 44 great-grandchildren and 12 great-great-grandchildren.

Burial was in Oaklawn cemetery with Dunaway funeral home in charge of arrangements.

This is the obituary we found today for Zachary's great, great grandfather.  We went to the public library in Bristow, Oklahoma for Anna's first genealogy research trip.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Bread: Pretty and Pretty Ugly

It was good to work in the kitchen and make bread today.  Anna sits in her bouncer just outside the kitchen so she can see everything I am doing and I can talk her through the process.

We made two loaves.  I mixed all the ingredients together, kneaded them together, and they did the first rise together.  They parted ways when it was time to be in the loaf pans.  They began to take on their own characteristics during the second rise, but these differences became more pronounced in the heat of the oven.  When I took them out, one was a gorgeous loaf that met all my expectations; the other was pitted and misshapen -- pretty close to ugly.

I did just about everything the same; they were the same for most of the process.  As I looked down at my two loaves, I couldn't help but think they mirror my life right now.  I feel as though I can use the same techniques to soothe Anna in almost identical circumstances.  One time it puts her to sleep, the other time she screams in protest.  I can clean baby poop off two outfits.  One cleans off just fine, the other stains.

The results aren't guaranteed, but I do my best, and when something doesn't work, I just try something else.  Anna is such a happy baby in general. I know something will soothe her -- even if that thing is just time.  Stains aren't the worse thing that can happen either.

One loaf is pretty (in my opinion) and the other is ugly, but it doesn't even matter.  My guess is, they both taste the same anyway.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Working Together

"Art and I, we always worked together; especially after the children got older, and I didn’t have to be in the house so much. We really became a team, and where Arthur was, Irene was. Everyone kind of made fun of us, but we enjoyed it. It was our life. We loved it. Working together. He would take a tractor, and I would take a tractor, whatever we were doing, I was right with him."

~my great grandmother Irene Beem on living and farming with her husband Arthur.

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Sinking of the Titanic

April 15th of this year marked the centennial of the sinking of the Titanic. Anna was only two weeks old at the time, so I was in full survival mode with taking care of myself and the new baby.  I was able to do little more than notice the online buzz about the Titanic and read a great article about John Harper -- a man who shared the gospel with countless passengers (some of whom gave their hearts to Christ) before going down with the ship.

Things have settled down to something close to normal -- the new normal anyway -- so I have been trying to do more reading.  The Sinking of the Titanic came to my attention, and I was able to read it on my Kindle.  Bruce M. Caplan edited and reissued Logan Marshall's The Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters which was originally published within weeks of the disaster.

The Sinking of the Titanic includes accounts of many survivors who tell of seeing family members and friends for the last time before escaping in life boats.  Many of them were plucked from the icy water after jumping or falling from the floundering ship.  Their straightforward accounts are touching in their simplicity and humanized for me the often sensationalized story of the sinking Titanic.

It is evident the original author was slightly infatuated by the richest passengers on board and named several of them repeatedly in his narrative (almost in the same way some writers use key words more than necessary to increase traffic on their webpage). However, he does not leave out the second and third classes entirely, and he devoted much time to the heroism of the crew, including the wireless operator, the band, and the young cabin boys who made no attempt to risk the lives of others by saving themselves.  They and more than a thousand others perished in the icy Atlantic that night.

This is not a book one can say they enjoyed, but it was a good read about an important world event.  My husband shocked me this week by relaying something he read online.  Apparently, many young people are surprised to learn that the Titanic movie was based on a true story.  They thought it was all made up for the movie.  "People actually died?"

Yes, they did.  This book will bring the stories of real people to life in a way one is not likely to forget soon.

Friday, July 06, 2012

Rough Day

I am frazzled.

Today was another early day.  Zachary had to be at work at 6:30.  Anna got me up at 5:00 or so, and we were up for good.  I did get a nap later in the morning and for that I am grateful.

I was washing dishes at 10:30 when I stepped away from the sink for a minute to care for Anna.  When I returned to the sink our water pressure was gone.  There was only a slight trickle of water.  Well, that ended my dish-washing.  Forget cooking oatmeal for my lunch.  Say goodbye to laundry day too.  I really needed to do laundry, but even I did not know how much yet.

The water came back around 1:00, but it was dirty red.  There is no way I am going to drink, cook, or wash with water that looks like that.  I am pretty sure my whites would have come out looking rust colored.  I know this because I cleaned Anna up after a blowout diaper, and her white onesie now has a larger dirty spot than when I first started rinsing it out.

That wasn’t the biggest mess of the day however.

Anna threw up this afternoon while I was feeding her.  She hardly spits up at all, so it took me by surprise.  This wasn’t normal spit up either.  This was projectile throw up that came out her mouth and her nose.  It scared her and me.  Her panicked face almost made me panic, but as a mother, that is not a real option.  I sat her up, patted her back, and talked as calmly as I could until it stopped.  Once I got the quiver out of my own voice I was able to talk more comfortingly.  I breathed a big sigh of relief when she finally gave me a small smile in response to my forced one.  The cottage cheese looking throw up was everywhere, and I mean everywhere!

I wish doing laundry was an option, but it is not.

Once I got us cleaned up we took a short nap together (only she could sleep) which helped both of us.  After that, it has been a struggle to keep her happy today, but I know days like this pass, and even on a day like today, there is joy. She smiles at me from across the room or falls asleep contentedly in my arms.  Today was rough, and I felt like crying, but I know it is all worth it.

Anna Rolls Over

Anna is a funny little girl.  She learned how to roll over from her stomach to her back more than a month ago. Once she learned, she did it almost every time we had tummy time... until she stopped.  This video was filmed during the couple of weeks that she was doing it.

A baby's development is sometimes two steps forward and one step back, and Anna proves it in her reluctance to roll over now.  She thinks about it, tries, and almost makes it, but she can't seem to remember how she did it.  After she gives up, we will help her roll over, and she smiles so big!  She looks at me as if to say, "Look at me, Mommy! I did it! I thought I failed, but I guess I didn't, because, look, I'm on my back now!"

Speaking of which, I know Anna isn't of talking age yet, but she could have fooled me last week. She said, "Mommy!" in the middle of all her jabbering. I don't care what she was trying to say; it worked for me!

Many thanks to Zachary's mom for taking these pictures!

[UPDATE] In between the time this was written and posted, Anna rolled over again, so I guess she hasn't forgotten completely.  Good going, Anna!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

2012 Chocolate Mousse

It was a success!  I am so happy; I love the 4th of July.  This was a fun and simple recipe to make. It only has four ingredients: chocolate, heavy cream, sugar, and egg whites.  You can find the recipe here. My chocolate loving self was very happy.  Zachary told his co-workers I was making chocolate mousse for the 4th, and one responded, "She really likes chocolate, doesn't she?" I guess they remembered the chocolate truffles from December.

Well, I do like chocolate, and this fit the bill perfectly.

Next up?  ...Time to read the Declaration of Independence.

Happy Independence Day!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Readying for the 4th

All ready for the special service at church
It will just be our little family this 4th of July: Zachary, me, and our little Anna.  That means that if I want chocolate mousse this year, I will have to make it myself.

You see, Independence Day is about two things for me, celebrating the Declaration of Independence and eating my dad's chocolate mousse.  He started the tradition of making the dessert when I was just a small child, and he has been faithful to it since.  He doesn't have a favorite recipe since he likes to try new things, but, within a few days of the 4th -- and usually on Independence Day itself -- Dad whips out the heavy cream, sugar, and chocolate and makes the best mousse ever.

Zachary and our little girl
I have watched Dad do it, but I have never made it all on my own.  We visited both sets of parents last year and enjoyed their cooking, so this year will be our first "on our own." Like I said, if I want to follow tradition this year and have delicious, mouth watering chocolate mousse on the 4th, I had better plan on making it myself.  It might be challenging without a double boiler, but I will find a way.

We hope.

A recipe has been found, the ingredients purchased, and the frame of mind set.  I plan on making it either tonight or tomorrow.  I will post my results sometime later.

Of course, Independence Day is also the day I like to reflect on our roots by rereading the document we are celebrating. This year will mark the first time Anna will hear it read even though it will be a few years before she understands the significance of it.

Anna Christine
I think the meaning of July 4th tends to get lost somewhere in the fireworks, cookouts, swimming, and family time.  At most, it is often another day to celebrate our troops abroad.

This is dangerous.

We are losing our liberties one at a time, and the politicians who are sending our young men and women into harm's way are not doing it anymore to preserve the independence our ancestors fought so hard to win. If you read the Declaration of Independence to the end, you will see it was written in response to a long list of abuses against the people by their government.  Now, 236 years later, there are new abuses.  It is time for us all to reevaluate our government's role and return to the values of 1776.

I'm reading the Declaration of Independence and making chocolate mousse.  What about you?

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Letters of a Woman Homesteader

Elinore Stewart with her husband and children
You know you are reading a good book when a fiddle is mentioned, and you worry, for one split second, that it might wake the baby.

Okay, so I was exhausted late at night with a newborn, but it still does the writer credit.

The book is "Letters of a Woman Homesteader" by Elinore Pruitt Stewart. It is a collection of her actual letters written from her homestead in Wyoming starting in 1909.  She claims she does not know how to write properly, but she does indeed!

Reading this book was like gaining a new pen-pal from another era.  I started out knowing nothing about Elinore, but I got to know her gradually through her letters.  Writing to an old employer, she doesn't tell all.  If she isn't ready to share something about her private life, she doesn't write about it until later... if ever.   This is not a tell-all novel written by an omniscient narrator.  This is real life; often ugly, hard, and tragic.  Amazingly, her overall mood is upbeat as she overcomes challenges with creativity and hard work.  I was amazed by her ambition, dedication, and humor.  Her stories make my life as a newlywed and mother feel like vacation!

To me, Elinore often does the unexpected.  For example, I never would have guessed that a woman pioneer would set out on a recreational camping trip just because she could.  Heading into the wild with only her small daughter, she shows herself capable of hunting or fishing to provide food along the way.  Her survival skills would beat those of any Boy Scout.

One of the best parts? It is a free Kindle book. Elinore Pruitt Stewart's talent of description makes this both a fun and educational read.