The Lives and Adventures of the McCune Dickerson Family

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Welcome Eve/Wow Its Been Over a Year Already!!

Last December, as we read about the events leading up to birth of our Savior, I had a lot of empathy and insight into Mary’s condition. 

Aurora was two weeks late. Rowen was a day early. There were two different due dates: 12/13 and 12/18. I had false labor on 12/6 and 12/13.
 I was so hopeful about having a baby come before Christmas. But in the end, babies and Lord have a lot more control over these things than mothers, even impatient mothers with acupuncture or super greasy meals (which I tried this time instead of castor oil).  
I really, really wanted to meet our new little baby before Christmas. 

One part of that was so that he or she could star in our family’s little Nativity play.

Instead, I got to be the donkey and Rosie got to be Mary. 

We had a sweet Christmas Eve and Christmas Day just the four of us and I really did wonder at how I ever would have gotten things together for the holiday if our baby had come at my leisure, but… I also was just aching to have this baby come out and meet us!

By the 26th, I'd already done my share of silly attempts to get baby to come out, so I went swimming at the Y, and tried to just relax, not think about it and enjoy the day.  Abram and I each nonchalantly suggested that perhaps instead of celebrating our anniversary on the 27th, we should get a sitter and go out on the 26th. We went to Village Books and enjoyed a nice, quiet, peaceful evening.  

In the wee hours of the morning I awoke with contractions (again!), after a few hours we called our beloved midwife, Winni. She came and checked me at 5, said it was still pre labor, and went to sleep at the birth center (she must have amazing mastery over her body's wakefulness with her career). 

In the morning, once everyone else was up, Abram contacted our good friend Dayna to come and get the girls. I was making muffins and getting to the point of needing to take breaks when the contractions came. Abram considered that he perhaps could squeeze in a run. I mustered a decent death glare.

I wanted to walk with him during this stage as we'd been able to with Aurora, but it was raining pretty steadily and I didn't want to be leaning on his wet jacket every time I had a contraction… so we stuck around the house. At least this baby was granting my wish for active labor during the daytime instead of through the night like Aurora and Rowen's. 

The yoga/birthing ball and Abram pushing on my back were my biggest helps.

We had Winni come back to check on me sometime in the late morning and she checked me and said I was at a 9! Woohoo! I thought maybe she was right and this labor would go fairly quickly. 

I ended up pushing for an hour. It seemed a lot longer and harder than I had hoped or expected for a third delivery. I remember despairing that I would be able to ever gain traction enough to help this baby come out. I knew that Abram and the midwives were there to support me, but it felt so lonely knowing only I could help this child come out.

Fortunately, she did. We were surprised and delighted to learn that we had another daughter!!
As I lay in my bed holding this tiny, snuffling wonder, I just felt so, so grateful for the privilege of being with this tender soul. It felt so blissful to have her at last in my arms after longing and working to help her come for what felt like so long. 

I think I was most prepared this time to just soak in these early, precious moments this time and truly savor them. 
 Fortunately, I was not alone in my delight at her arrival! 

Aurora and Rowen were frequently pleading to hold her or contesting whose turn it was to hold her. 
It was so wonderful to have Winni's wisdom and caring. I felt so grateful to have her home visits! 

We all just delighted in having this darling, tiny wonder join our family. After a few days, Abram officially conceded (its so short! What will her nickname be?) and we named her 
Eve McCune Dickerson. 
It is such a blessing and privilege to have her happy soul join our family. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013


A few months ago I made the trip out to the Hannegan Farm store to pick up our bee order (another story).  Shannon had warned me not to come home with any chicks.  She should have known better.  Our little flock of layer are doing great, the chicks I was interested in were destined for the table.

The kids of course were ecstatic, at least until the baby ducks arrived in the mail a few days later, which might have had something to do with Shannon's warning.  I wasn't too worried though, if we were already going to be feeding a set of small birds a few more wouldn't be so bad.  I only bought 10.  

Meat birds have been on my radar for a long time.  It's so incredible to be at a place in life with our house under control, and space in the yard to take on so many of the food and urban-steading projects that have intrigued me for years. Standard table fare is so far from the killing and butchering of animals. A great gulf separates the consumer from the death, blood, and carnage that is slaughtering.  Yet our consumption of animals is really an active acceptance of the industrialization of killing.  It became so so clear how and why the industrial mechanized labor models have swallowed up the meat packing industry.  I have know this for a long time, but I this knowledge became experience spending an entire afternoon even with knife, killing cones, a scalder and a plucker, it process 13 birds.  It is so easy for each step, killing, bleeding, plucking, gutting, severing, cleaning, and packaging to be differentiated.  Stopping to consider the sheer scale of consumption of meat and the subsequent demand there is no wonder that the economies of efficiency and scale dominate the industry.   Of course, there are the externalities with such systems.

  Slaughtering our own birds was an education.  Born from a desire to appreciate and have control over the food we consume.  It was also about community, friends and family sharing in a process that for thousands of years was elementary and fundamental to survival.  Yet here we were, the educated and privileged, ignorant of such a fundamental skill, how to kill and prepare our food.  Blood and gut juices dripped from our hands and onto the pages of the book, diagraming what we were to do.  But, we figured it out.  While those first birds were painfully slow, gruesome, and humbling we learned to decode the mysteries of organ meats, we located and removed the foul glands, we raked the inner cavity of the lifeless carcass with our fingernails removing the last bits of lungs and connective tissues.  We became the processing system.  Feather, entrails, feet, and lifeless chicken heads filled our curbside "Food Plus" bin and clean fresh chicken filled our freezer. It was a horribly uneconomical process, but one that I will do again. 

Birch Bay Bike Trip

About a month ago our ward announced that they would be hosting a campout at Birch Bay state park.  I leaned over to Shannon and said, "We should bike there".  Birch Bay has long been one of our destination clamming, crabbing, and warm water summer swimming destinations, but with it being so close, 20ish miles, we have always made it a day trip.
The week leading up to the trip was rain, but we held on to the hope that the forecast would be correct and we'd have sun.  Friday rolled around, rain in the morning and sun in the afternoon.  It was a bit of a crazy day at work, the last day of school before our final expedition, so I was running late for our 4pm departure.  When I arrived home I found the babe-o's ready to ride and hanging out in the yard next to their bikes.  
   I had packed up the gear earlier in the week so departure was relatively smooth, a few last minute shuffles and we were on the road! The trip was super smooth, sunshine, beautiful farms, views of the ocean and islands, and just long enough to feel like we were going someplace.   
The ride took us about 2.5 hours, we arrived in camp with time to eat, visit, and enjoy the sunset.  It was one of the better ward activities I've been a part of, low key, simple, and time to hang out with folks out side.  What could be better? 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Garden

It's the first year in our new house that needs all sorts of work.  We started out wanting to be sane and reasonable. We would be doing a lot of house projects. It would be hectic. 

(I was pretty impressed that Abram agreed. He tends to be a bit less reasonable and a bit more wildly idealistic and ambitious, which usually turns out to be a blessing...)

We started with two raised beds and a sunny section alongside the garage. After spending the morning tearing up the sod, Abram came back that evening and realized that instead of two raised beds, we could have oriented them horizontally and gotten in 5. “Oh well,” I thought. “We can do it all differently next year.”

Then Abram talked to a parent at the school who’d had someone come till his yard with a tractor.
Then he found the craigslist ad. 
Then I said, “We might as well go the length of the backyard if he’s coming out.” 

So, here we are with 1200 feet of garden space. I was nervous going into it, but as soon as it was tilled and we began arranging beds that afternoon (and Abram actually agreed that we could do organic shapes and not just highly efficient rectangles!), suddenly I was just giddy with the possibility of what we had just taken on.  I could barely keep my mouth shut about it!

 Not the best picture, but you can see where it was heading a few weeks ago...  The squashes are rocking their whole section and filling in all the paths. The sunflowers are nearly as tall as Aurora now and I can't wait for the beans to climb to the top of the teepee. 

 I have to admit that I am so happy when I see the girls snacking on goodies from the garden. Even if they don't finish it (usually the case with beets), we cook it up for dinner and they're so much more interested in eating things they've watered and picked themselves. 
In the words of the Jack Johnson playing right now, 
"This is how it's supposed to be" !!

The garden is lush with goodness: chard, kale, lettuces, zucchini, beets, leeks, green onions, carrots, herbs. We are really enjoying it.

The winter gardening edition of the seed catalogue showed up at the school a few weeks ago and Abram came home with another wild notion.....

Yep, we’ve probably got another 8-900 feet tilled. I was not so convinced with one section, I admit it. I’m still a bit concerned about tying it in with the rest of the yard. And yet, as we were pulling up carrots for the girls to snack on and Abram was reminding me of the gloriousness of the garden, I thought, “Hmm, we could actually plant enough carrots to feed these girls through the winter.” 
I guess less lawn and awkward landscaping could work out alright this year.  ;)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Winter... already a memory

We were really excited about taking the girls skiing this year. Gear swaps were attended, petite skis and accouterments were haggled for, skiing was practiced in our carpeted hall with Abram standing in (pushing, really) for gravity and the fall line…. But then there was this whole buying our first house thing. 

So, instead, the one time we got up to Mt. Baker as a family this year, was on Christmas Eve for sledding.  It was a beautiful day. One unidentified jump on the first run convinced Rowen that she was done for the day, but she giggled away at the top of the hill contentedly while Aurora and Abram did more runs and built snowmen. 

Aurora in fact, was so enthralled with the snow, gravity, sliding on her bumski, and playing with her friend Adia, that she could not be coaxed into standing still to record for time immemorial that we had gone out to the snow together. 

And really, these pictures are a lot more visually interesting than all the ones not taken of us slimming down our belongings, packing, cleaning, moving, and embarking on the many house projects before us (though some before and after photos will make their way on here eventually).

We sure were thinking about all our beloved family and friends far away over the Christmas season, even though we didn't let you know!