Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What Grandma Gave Me

I spent the majority of my childhood overseas, away from extended family, and sometimes feel like I didn't get to spend a great deal of time with my grandparents. But as I look at the blessing that Grandma, Virginia Owen, was to my life, I realize that there really were many memories made, stories told, and lessons learned. In an effort to post quickly and not post perfection, this blog is just a conglomeration of the things Grandma gave me.

A Love for Creating:
My grandma was an excellent seamstress and crafter. Although I wouldn't call myself an expert crafter or seamstress in the least, I love to create. I don't remember the first time my grandma let me practice sewing in her sewing room lined with shelves of fabric, multiple sewing machines, jars of buttons, and drawers full of embroidered patches and spools of thread. But I was probably four or five. One Easter, my brother and I went down to the "bay house" in Rockport, TX with my grandparents. In between fishing sessions Grandma helped us sew our own quilts. Mine had a patriotic theme, and Garrett's had a Dallas Cowboys theme. Years later, while Lorenzo and I were dating, he said he wanted a t-shirt quilt. I hadn't sewn in years, but from what Grandma taught me years before, and a little help from youtube I made Lorenzo his very own t-shirt quilt.

Anyone who has known me for very long, and probably anyone who has known my grandma for very long, would say we are slightly forgetful or absentminded. When I was probably 9 or 10, I tried to collect stamps. Grandma took me to the post office one time to help me expand my collection. There was some kind of nice coffee table book about stamps for sale that I wanted. Grandma told me that she would buy it for me then, but save it to give to me for my birthday or Christmas. We'll just say, 19 or so years later, I still have not received a coffee table book about stamps for my birthday or Christmas. A few weeks ago when my parents said Grandma was sick,(not at all expecting that she would pass away) I decided I'd send her a get well soon card and a couple pictures of Thomas. I bought the card, wrote in the card, and didn't get around to printing pictures of Thomas for a few days. Finally a week or so after I bought the card, I sent it to Grandma. I think she would have gotten in the mail sometime towards the end of last week. At least I hope my forgetfulness and dilly dallying didn't keep the card from getting to her in time for her to see it.

A Little Baylor Bear:
Grandma's mother, Grandmother Hightower, graduated from Baylor University, and Grandma also attended Baylor for a time. I believe she only went to Baylor for a year or two, before she married my grandpa and moved to be closer to him. But she was always so supportive of me going to Baylor. Someone had given her a little pin of a bear when she went to Baylor. When I started at Baylor she sent me that pin, with a little note that said, this Bear needs to go back to Baylor to graduate.

Memories and Family History:
Grandma always had a story to tell. I have many memories of sitting around the dining room table at the bay house, or in the fifth wheeler, listening to Grandma tell about her childhood and her relatives. I don't so much like to tell stories, but want to make sure that memories are recorded, thus...things like this blog. I won't give the details here, but a couple of my favorite stories from Grandma involve something about trading guns in Mexico and a donkey, and a stolen gravestone being thrown in the Brazos.
Grandma was always making sure that there was correct information about family members, where they were from, and when their birthdays were, etc. When we went down to see her one of the last times, she got her little notebook out and noted Lorenzo's name and birthday in the book...officially part of the Owen clan.

14 karat gold and hypoallergenic please:
These were words my grandma and I were both very familiar with. Grandma and I were both allergic to metal. Grandma would always tell me how they had to sew little pieces of fabric over the metal snaps on all of my baby clothes because my skin would get irritated from the metal. When I was a little girl Grandma started giving me a special kind of lotion that would help keep our skin from breaking out into a rash from wearing jewelry. Every once and a while over the years, she'd give me another bottle of it, but hadn't given me one in probably 8 or 10 years. We went to visit Grandma for her birthday in April, and while we were talking in the living room, she went to the refrigerator and got two bottles of that lotion out for me and my mom. I'm not sure why my grandma had two spare bottles of lotion in the fridge, but I'm glad she did, cause I've been using it on Thomas for the past few months, and it always reminds me of Grandma.

An Ivory Cross:
My grandparents went to visit my dad while he lived in Tanzania when he was in his 20's. At that time, buying and selling ivory was legal. Grandma must have bought several simple ivory cross necklaces to give as presents back in the states. She gave me this cross necklace when I was probably in my early teens, possibly younger. I think she gave them to my cousins as well, but it was always so special to me, to have a little piece of Tanzania, a place that was so far away, but so close to my heart.

There are so many things I could say about Grandma. The things above that she gave me are pretty trivial. The things that I hope to get as I get older and grow into more of a daughter in Christ, are her soft spirit, her genuine kindness, her generosity, her class, and her poise. I will always be thankful for having such a wonderful Grandma.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Birth Story of Thomas Owen Pablo-Part Two

This post is coming a little late, but Thomas's birth was quite memorable, so I don't think I'll have too much trouble remembering things. This might be too detailed for some, but is mostly just to have it in writing. :-)

Right after Lorenzo went to work on Friday, I started having steady but not at all painful contractions. They lasted for a few hours, and then stopped. Lorenzo and I had an appointment with our midwife(who had stepped in while our original was out of the country) around noon. Our midwife and student midwife both said Thomas could come tomorrow, or next week. And that we should just keep them posted, and update our doula.

My mom came into town and we spent the afternoon together getting lunch and running some last minute errands. I was having some contractions in my back, that were a little painful, kind of like someone was shocking my lower back, but I could still walk and talk just fine. About the time my mom left it was time for Lorenzo to come home from work.

After Lorenzo got home from work my memory gets a little fuzzy. I know I wasn't in a lot of pain yet. I know we went for a walk, and we ate dinner. At around 9 or 10 at night the contractions started to get more consistent, and more painful, and only in my back. Lorenzo used the contraction timer on his phone, and my contractions were lasting about a minute, and coming about every 4 or 5 minutes. He texted the midwife and she suggested I take some benadryl and take a warm bath and try to get some sleep. I laughed when Lorenzo said that, and told him, there would be no sleeping, but I took two benadryl and a bath. I called our doula, and told her what was happening, and she said that the baby was probably in a bad position and I should do some exercises to help get him in the right position, and maybe go to a chiropractor first thing in the morning.

At about 11 Lorenzo and I got in bed. I tried to get some sleep while Lorenzo watched TV and played candy crush. As Lorenzo was playing on his iphone and dozing in and out of sleep, I started to have really painful contractions in my back. I think I told Lorenzo this was NOT the time to play candy crush, and NOT the time for him to sleep. Lorenzo texted and called our doula several times throughout the night, and she said she'd be over first thing in the morning, thinking the whole time that our baby was just in the wrong position.

I purposely didn't look at the clock all night, in hopes that time would go by faster. I spent most of the night in silence, praying that the Lord would give me strength and endurance, and keep our baby boy safe. In the dark and quiet of the night, I felt like Lorenzo, God, our baby, and I, were the only beings in the entire universe. Philippians 4:13 ran through my mind over and over again, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." I was so thankful for Lorenzo through all of this, and so thankful that he had paid attention through all of our birthing classes and appointments with the midwife. The one technique (the double hip squeeze) that we had learned in our birthing class, that I thought Lorenzo didn't know how to do correctly, ended up being the ONLY thing that helped all night long.

11PM to 4:30AM was a blur. Lorenzo had called and texted the doula a few times, but we had mainly been in go mode, working through nonstop contractions. At about 4:30 in the morning, Lorenzo could tell that my contractions weren't stopping. If anything, I would get a break of 20 or 30 seconds in between each one. I told him that I felt like I needed to push and that I wanted our doula to come. He called our doula and she said she would be over soon. A little after 5 our doula showed up. She was immediately able to help me calm down and breath easier through the contractions. After about 10 or 15 minutes she said we should head to the birthing center....which was 45 minutes away. The thought of driving 45 minutes seemed impossible, and I didn't think I was going to be able to handle these contractions for another four or five hours.

As we drove out of our apartment complex, the Matt Maher song, "Lord I need You" came on the radio. And all I could do was try to sing along, and make that my prayer.

"Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here, I find my rest
Without You, I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart
Lord, I need You
Oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense
My righteousness
Oh, God how I need You"

After driving down the road for about 15 minutes, the urge to push was getting too strong to stop. Our doula, who had been telling me to breath through my contractions and not to push, changed her tune, and calmly just told me to do whatever I needed to. What seems like seconds later,(it may have been a minute or two), Thomas was born, as Lorenzo was driving down the interstate, in our Honda Civic. I didn't even know what had happened until after he was born, and I heard his cry. I think Lorenzo and I were both in shock. The doula picked him up, wrapped him in a towel, and placed him in my hands. He was moving, crying, and absolutely perfect. Lorenzo finally found a place to pull to the side of the road, and turn around to see our beautiful baby boy. We were in awe, and not at all worried that our son had just been born in a car.

At that point we decided to drive back to our apartment, instead of going to the birthing center, which we were still about thirty minutes away from. Our midwife and assistant midwife arrived at our apartment about five minutes after we did. Thomas and I both ended up being perfectly fine. It was a crazy, crazy, night. One which I hope never to repeat. I had originally been afraid that I wouldn't be able to go through a "natural childbirth". But now I feel like I can conquer much more than I thought I could before. Through the whole experience, I grew even closer to Lorenzo, and even closer to the Lord. And, now our son, Thomas Owen Pablo, has a pretty awesome story to tell people when he's older.

It was an experience to say the least, not the experience we wanted, but I did learn from it. I think everyone involved learned from it. I would certainly use a midwife in the future. My advice for mommies to be, would be not to feel like you're going to be a burden by calling your midwife during the middle of the night, if you're having contractions. In the future I will ask for help from the professionals early. And tell them I need help and to come, if asking or explaining is not enough. I will not be worried about coming off paranoid, or as an inconvenience. I think more than anything, I learned that it's important not to put too much importance in an experience you hope to have. I so hoped to have a peaceful birth out in the country at a beautiful birthing center, surrounded by my birthing team and husband. It didn't quite turn out that way, but in the end, that's really ok. God was most definitely present, and was most definitely watching over us, and that is what matters.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Birth Story of Thomas Owen Pablo-Part 1

I hate to say that it has been YEARS since my last blog post. Working with refugees there have been many experiences and stories that I've wanted to share but being in the world of nonprofits and social work, sharing work related details is a big no no. But, to catch you up really fast, I've been in Fort Worth for almost four years, married to an amazing man for almost two years, and a mother to an adorable little boy for almost three weeks. The name of my blog is Adventures of Clairebear, and if there ever was an event in my life that deserved to be called an adventure, the birth of our son, Thomas Owen Pablo, would be one. Ive split it up into two entries, the first leading up to the birth and the second, the actual birth.

I've always been a wimp when it comes to handling pain. When I was little the doctor would have to get multiple people to hold me down to give me a shot. Over the years I've learned to cope with needles a little better but still don't do well at the dentists office and the thought of having to spend any extended period of time in the hospital raises my blood pressure. Because of all of this I had always been afraid of having a baby, until I started learning about midwifery. Over the past couple years several of my friends and coworkers had out-of-hospital births using midwives. Someone told us to watch "The Business of Being Born", a documentary about natural child birth. It completely changed my views of child birth and let me actually look forward to the idea of having a child instead of being terrified about it. So, when we found out we were having a baby, we decided to go the natural, maybe not so conventional route, and found a midwife, a birthing center, and a doula, and I was so excited about all of it.

People would ask if I was nervous about having the baby, and said that I was crazy for not having the option of an epidural or any kind of pain relievers. They asked if it was safe to use a midwife, and asked if there was a hospital close to the birthing center. Some people were fascinated, and some seemed concerned. The birthing center we found was beautiful. It's out in the country, surrounded by pastures, and looks like a nice bed and breakfast. And they have a pet donkey that was also pregnant, and surprise, surprise, that was a big selling point. I was very excited about the possibility of going for a walk in the pasture with the pregnant donkey. Our one concern was that the birthing center was 45 minutes away from our apartment, which seemed far, but as a first time mom, 45 minutes didn't seem like that big of a deal.

In November there was a very serious typhoon that hit the Philippines, and our midwife had the opportunity to go serve as a midwife there for a few weeks. She was very thoughtful in making sure that I was ok with her going. Selfishly I wanted her to stay in the country, but clearly I knew it was much more important that she go take care of women in the Philippines who wouldn't have the chance of any kind of prenatal care or anyone to help deliver their babies. And, Lorenzo's half Filipino, so how could we say, no don't go help. And, she was planning on being back in the US two or three weeks before I was due, plenty of time for her to be the midwife at our birth.

She set us up with another midwife that she works with, and there was a student midwife that we had been working with throughout my pregnancy who we felt very comfortable with and would still be at all our appointments. About four weeks before my due date I was told that our original midwife was going to stay in the Philippines longer than originally planned. She would now get back to the US five days after my due date. I was disappointed but felt comfortable with the new midwife and wasn't really worried.

And on the same day we got that news I found out that our baby was breech, so I had bigger things to think about than who would be at our birth. Thus commenced a week of lying inverted on an ironing board, listening to a hypnosis CD, getting acupuncture, going to the chiropractor,putting bags of frozen peas on my belly, and praying a lot. Thankfully, by the end of the week he was back in the right position. Over the next couple weeks I thought I felt him flip back and forth a few more times and just decided our baby must just want to keep us on our toes....and he did, until the day he was born.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Peer Pressure-tweet tweet

Many months ago I posted a blog about Twitter and my feelings towards it. I still feel the same way, but now, I find myself in a predicament. My friends from church ALL have twitter and are in communication with each other quite often. I've resisted, I've held off, but I'm not sure how much longer I can resist. I don't really feel like I'm missing out, but they all tell me I am.

So, I thought I should write some pro's and con's, or better, maybe some rules of appropriate tweeting etiquette. I may offend you, you may have done these things in the past. I apologize, and we can talk about that another time.

My main reason I do not want twitter:
I think it is just plain rude to tweet, text, play a game, IM, surf the web, or look down at your phone for any extended period of time when interacting with a real live person, in person.

My twitter etiquette rules:
-An occasional tweet or text is permissible. However, if you are with someone you do not know well, you should not bring your phone out at all, unless absolutely necessary.Is Twitter ever absolutely necessary?(do not set it on the table, do not hide it in your lap, don't position it in your purse face up so you can see who's contacting you)
-If you are with friends or family and you need to contact someone, 2-3 texts or tweets over a few hours time is ok. I personally think it is less rude and more efficient, specifically if you are making plans or have actual important business to attend to, to excuse yourself, and make a quick phone call.

I fear that over time we might lose the art of conversation, becoming more and more socially awkward and unable to engage in casual conversation. Why? because of things like twitter.

But, I do understand it is not logical to think, my getting twitter, will cause others to have bad tweeting etiquette. I can chose to follow my own tweeting etiquette rules, in consideration of others, but my getting twitter will not improve or worsen their habits.
And I'm not sure I should stay away from twitter if it's something that is becoming more and more popular. However, I'm also not sure I should get twitter just because everyone else is doing it.

I think I'd like to go live in a hut with no cell phone reception, no home phone, and no Internet at home. Sure, I'd invite my friends and neighbors over for tea all the time, walk to the local Internet cafe quite often, check up on things, use their little phone booth to call internationally, but I would not feel the need to constantly check up on absolutely everything. :-) But until then, guess I'll just have to tweet or not to tweet.

Monday, July 19, 2010

God's little birthday squirrel

My time in Fort Worth has had its ups and downs, sometimes I've thought, this is exactly where I'm supposed to be, and sometimes I've thought, I should've gone to Thailand, or anywhere else. Usually I think this on days, like today, when I'm sorting through piles and piles of background checks, reference checks, check requests....checks, copies, emails, least in Tanzania the electricity would go out, or we'd run out of paper or the Internet wouldn't work, but no such luck in fort worth, Texas.

Anyway, on Saturday evening I decided to go for a little run at TCU and I was met by a cute little squirrel next to my car, and it reminded me of my 23rd birthday. On my 23rd birthday I was at Baylor, my favorite place to be during the summer. And on that day I went to my favorite spot on campus, book and apple in hand, to camp out and read for a while.

I found my spot, on a concrete step, under a tree. I heard a little chattering, really almost a little bark. I looked over, and there he was, a little squirrel standing a few feet away from me, not a gross, sickly looking squirrel, a Baylor squirrel,a well groomed, well fed squirrel. I glanced over, smiled at the squirrel and kept reading. I bit into my apple, and saw the squirrel in the corner of my eye, waving his little paws in the air and chattering at me. I kind of wanted to give him a piece of my apple, but I kind of thought he might pounce. The little squirrel jumped up on the step next to me,so I tossed him a tiny little piece of my apple, he scurried over and nibbled away. I tossed another piece, he scurried closer, now he was inches away from my're probably thinking, squirrels have teeth, some have rabies, squirrels are not pets. But I broke off a piece of the apple and held it in my hand, and the little squirrel cautiously came over, and nibbled away at the apple in my hand. In that moment little squirrel and I became buddies, at least for about fifteen minutes, while I sat and fed him bits of apple.

This might sound silly, but growing up I usually had some kind of pet, and often it was some kind of pet I had caught in the backyard, like a frog or a caterpillar, or a chameleon, or a turtle. I love probably any kind of animal, although, I try not to force wildlife into captivity anymore.

But I think that on my 23rd birthday, God gave me that little squirrel as a reminder of Gods perfect and wonderfully made creatures, I'm not sure if God gives birthday presents, but if he does, I think he gave me that squirrel. A little joy on my birthday.

That's my story for today. Next time...look forward to, the dog show experience, dining TZed style in Fort Worth and maybe an update on the never ending school search, job search.

Tutaonana.-I'm also working on my Swahili these days. :-)

Monday, May 31, 2010


There are a few wise men from the past hundred years I would liked to have met, three that come to mind right away, C.S. Lewis, Jim Elliot, and Oswald Chambers. Tonight, as I was getting ready to go to bed, I read June 1st from My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers. Yesterday in Sunday school we talked about trusting and following God in the little and big things, one of the many verses we looked at was Proverbs 16:9
"A man's heart plans his way, but the Lord determines his steps."

Here is one paragraph from June 1st:
"It is much easier to do something than to trust in God; we see the activity and mistake panic for inspiration. That is why we see so few fellow workers with God, yet so many people working for God. We would much rather work for God than believe in Him. Do I really believe that God will do in me what I cannot do? The degree of hopelessness I have for others comes from never realizing that God has done anything for me. Is my own personal experience such a wonderful realization of God’s power and might that I can never have a sense of hopelessness for anyone else I see? Has any spiritual work been accomplished in me at all? The degree of panic activity in my life is equal to the degree of my lack of personal spiritual experience." much in this little paragraph, what jumps out at me is "it is much easier to do something than to trust in God" and "The degree of hopelessness I have for others comes from never realizing that God has done anything for me."
trusting and realizing/acknowledging what God does for us are not foreign ideas or hard concepts to grasp, but often not easy to put into practice. In a time when Iwant to know what the see the big picture, I want to see past the next little step God has for me, this is a good reminder, it is much better to live and serve, here and now, than to worry about things a year or two or ten from now. Well, unfortunately, that's all for now, maybe we'll revisit Oswald's June 1st in the near future.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Who would've thought?

Right now I find myself thinking, who would've thought that I would be living in Fort Worth right now. Who would've thought I'd be here and not in Africa or some other country across the globe. But, I find myself here, I think, in the exact place God wants me to be, at least for right now.

The past few months were filled with possibilties of job opportunities, one that I really wanted and didn't get, one that I got and didn't really want, and the one that I ended up with: Catholic Charities in Fort Worth, working with refugee minors. After more than six months of moving and new jobs and new places and more moving etc...I feel like I am finally settling in, a feeling I never really had when I was in Dallas. Why? I don't really know, maybe because of the place I lived, or the job I had, or just because I really knew I wasn't going to be there very long.

I've been at Catholic Charities for two weeks now, so far, it's been going well. I pray my usual, "please let my boss look past my forgetfulness and clumsiness and see my dedication and good attitude."...kidding...kind of. I'm pretty sure I'm ADHD, so, I'll just say, sitting at a quiet cubicle for hours, being asked to remember lots of little tiny details may not be my forte, my solution, lots and lots of post it notes and an ocassional dab of whiteout. For my next job, I think I'd like to work outside....or just think, philosophize about life....preferably outside.

Lets I bought a couch, I'm living in an apartment for the next year. I'm currently searching for a church. A group from First Baptist Kaufman is starting a church here in Fort Worth, I think I'm going to check that out! I've been to a couple other churches so far, one that I really liked, so we'll see what happens.

On a similar note....maybe slightly offensive note, I find people in Fort Worth to be more down to earth than people in Dallas, or maybe just the ones I've met. Maybe I'm just thinking this because of a book I recently read, "The Dallas Womens Guide to Gold Digging with Pride." Absolutely hilarious, the best $3 half price book purchase I've ever made.

well, it's my bedtime. Hopefully I'll write something more interesting soon. Some work anecdotes, new Fort Worth Adventures!