My Baby Had a Baby

The last four days have been pretty incredible. My baby had a baby! This child I never knew I needed had a child of her own.

Yes! My baby had a baby.

self portrait by Mary

Mary & D.J. opted for a home birth. It took me a while to get my brain wrapped around that. A home birth. Their child, created of their love, given them by God Almighty, entered the world in a tub of soothing, warm water set up in the dining area of their tiny, 1920s era, urban apartment. She would exit the womb that had nurtured and protected her for almost 10 months into the eager and waiting arms of her Mama and Papa who will continue to nurture and protect her, forever.

No monitors, no I.V.’s, no interventions that are common to giving birth in the realm of modern medicine, unless they chose to have them. Unless there was a need for those options. This was their well-informed, educated, fully-researched decision. And it was the perfect choice for them, for this birth, of this child.
There were emergency options available “in case”, but visible supplies were simple and basic. Uncomplicated.

Calming lavender essential oil was diffused, Mary’s favorite music playing softly in the background and the familiar street noises wafting in from the Windows.


Mary’s common mantra was, “birth without fear”. It was the message reverberating in the affirmations gracing the wall above her birthing tub. A ready reminder that this is a natural process and the process itself is not something a woman needs to fear. Her body is created to do this.

Her prenatal care was excellent, all ultrasounds confirmed that Nora was healthy and ready. Every exam was positive. Mary approached her day with amazing courage and strength. “Birth without fear”.

Yet, that is exactly what this wrought in me every time I thought about the “what ifs”. Fear. Anxiety. Doubt. But I chose to be a part of their cheering team. I wanted to be brave and break out of my very controlled, project management, color within all the lines, mindset. I desired to learn to trust. To trust nature, to trust God, to trust my daughter & son-in-love’s choices, to trust myself to embrace all of these factors and to enjoy being their support every step of the way. Because, my baby was having a baby.

I was blessed to capture this amazing event, most of the 14 hours, in pictures. Beginning to beginning, because after Nora was born, was not the end, rather the genesis of their new definition of family. Salas, party of three.

This blog as a whole, is about things in life from this Gramma’s view from the perch. I flew down from my perch on Wednesday, July 20, 2016, and landed right at the center of life in the raw. The reality of giving life and breath to a little human in the most natural way possible. And my view was beautiful, breathtaking, overwhelming, inspiring, exciting, heart wrenching, emotional, brilliant, spiritual, life changing, and so much more.

Birth, regardless of location is not glamorous. It’s beautiful, but it is NOT glamorous. There is physical pain, hard physical work, grossness, ickiness, messiness, bloody stuff, and waiting, so much waiting. Nora had kept her family waiting for ten days beyond what all of the health care teams had estimated her due date to be. And then for another 14 hours we waited while Nora slowly got herself in the best position she could, while Mary’s body did what Mamas bodies do best: release their baby into the world.
Nora’s was a compound presentation. This means there was more than just her head in the birth position. Her hand was also up beside her face, pushing her head slightly to the side, making it challenging for her to exit the birth canal smoothly. This is likely the reason Mary had so many intense pre-labor contractions for almost a week and a half before her water broke. It is the body’s way of trying to push the extra appendage out of the way. This made her labor hard, intense, exhausting!

And my baby was a beast, working with her body, victoriously delivering her daughter in the way she and her husband had chosen together, completely naturally, in spite of the challenges. At any time she could have said, “let’s go” and she would have had full support if she believed she was truly unable to continue without medication or other intervention. D.J.’s total and complete commitment to his wife and daughter’s best interest, safety, comfort and well-being was unmistakable.  His love and devotion is branded all over them and I am blessed.

Mary’s midwife team was amazing. They were all in for the duration and then some. When I was introduced to each of them on arrival, a hug was the greeting. We were all a team, committed to assisting Mary bring her precious child into the world. These ladies are family now, having shared in one of the most intimately precious events, in the life of my baby child. I will forever be grateful to Pauline & Mary of Abiding Grace Midwifery. Their gentle, supportive demeanor, coupled with their extensive knowledge and experience set the tone for this special delivery. To say nothing of their strong faith guiding them through the process, supporting my Mary with encouraging words, her own affirmations and prayer. “Thank you” seems inadequate.

Mary experienced a fairly severe tear. Nora’s size, presentation, and one quick jump up in the water by Mary when a particularly painful contraction peaked at one point, left her with some repair needed. They went to their chosen provider and obtained the further care necessary. Pauline was with them every step of the way, advocating and sharing details to be sure the team at the hospital had all he information necessary for the very best outcome. Mary said she was delighted to wake up from the surgery to see Pauline’s encouraging eyes right there beside D.J.’s. And then on her birthday mind you, the third day of Nora’s life, Pauline visited their home again herself, for day three Nora check and to bring beautiful gifts. Yes, thank you is hardly adequate.

I am full. I am changed. I am more brave and confident today than I was four days ago. How can I not be? Mary defined courage, tenacity and resolve for me. D.J. exhibited love and devotion so deep it was palpable. Nora brought another piece of puzzle into this thing called my life, one more step in completing the puzzle of me.

Natural birth whether at home, a birthing center, hospital or any other location may not be for everyone. Bringing a life into this world is admirable and to be celebrated, regardless of the method chosen. I am simply grateful I was afforded this gift, this experience to share with my daughter and son-in-love.
And I am so very blessed to add Nora Jane Salas to our family as grandchild number 11.

“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.” Proverbs 17:6 ESV

Welcome to the world, Nora Jane Salas!  Gramma loves you!

Born July 20, 2016 ~ 5:13 p.m ~ 9.5 lbs. ~ 21 3/4 inches! Beautiful Blessing from Above


A Step Back to Domesticity

I ran across this entry from a former blog I had. It was written December, 2011. It brought me some smiles. I hope you enjoy it also.

A Step Back to Domesticity

I mended a set of sheets today, much to the amazement of my family. When they realized what I was doing, one would have thought I had grown a second head. Blank stares. “Why don’t you just go buy a new set?” I was asked. Why indeed?

Truth be told, I did purchase a new set a few days ago. I chose one of the less expensive establishments and still, for 300 thread count sheets I paid $39! Forty bucks for a set of sheets! I had automatically placed the old sheets in the laundry hamper when I removed them from the bed, thinking that whether I donated them to charity or used them for cleaning cloths or whatever, I would want them to be clean and fresh. 

As I removed that nice fresh smelling bundle out of the dryer, a thought struck me. Though there were a couple of “L” shaped tears, the sheets seemed to be saying “we still have use left in us!” I was taken back to my childhood when it was common for my mother and grandmother to mend clothes, linens, darn socks, replace buttons and do whatever was necessary to extend the life of whatever we had been blessed with.

My mother would lovingly launder our clothes and then take the time to hang it on a clothesline in our backyard. Those baskets of wet clothes were heavy! Then she would reach up and carefully clip a clothes pin over the edge of the sock or towel and wait for the fresh air to do the job of drying the clothes. Then back out she would trek to carefully remove the clothes and carry them into the house where she would fluff, fold and iron until everything was just so. Each fold, shake, smooth and pressing contained countless prayers for the owner.

My father was a welder & mechanic on heavy duty highway construction equipment. To deflect the sparks from welding, my mother would laboriously soak his work clothes in a mixture of water and liquid laundry starch, wring them out individually by hand and then iron them, by hand to a stiff, shiny, crisp uniform that he was proud to don. He knew he would be protected from spark burns and he always looked neat and nice at the beginning of each work day, with his grey work outfit and black engineer boots. 

So, why did I mend my sheets and what does my mother’s laundry routines have to do with it? I realized that for the last 20 years I have cheated my family out of living frugally. I have cheated myself out of the domestic routines that added so much value to my life as a child. Up till 6 months ago I have worked at jobs that were decently lucrative and my family has become caught up in the “disposable mentality” that our society espouses! “If the sheet tears, throw it away; if a button falls off, donate the shirt to charity; if the shoe is scuffed, get rid of it and just go buy a new item.” That mentality is no longer practical, with me being unemployed. We have to learn from the past.

My dad, as I mentioned, worked in construction. Looking back I now know that some years were great and some years were very lean. We had to make the most of every single thing we were provided. And my parents did it elegantly! Linens and clothes were mended, shoes were repaired, buttons were replaced, cars maintained and respected and our home was humble but safe, warm and sufficient. I knew that taking care of things showed our appreciation for that which we were blessed with. I didn’t really realize, as a youngster that it was also a way of stretching the meager income my parents supported us with. “Things” last a long time and you grow very fond of them when you painstakingly choose to care for them, repair them, maintain them through the years.

I didn’t stop at mending those sheets. The fragrance of fresh, clean cotton beckoned me. I got out my iron and ironing board, grabbed the Egyptian cotton linen spray, and I ironed the pillow cases just the way my precious mom used to do. I spritzed them lightly with the spray, and smoothed the case with the hot iron. I folded it in half and ironed it again. Once again, I brought the edges of the pillow case together in a fold leaving me with a long rectangle across the width of the pillow case. I pressed it once more, then took the right edge and folded it over then the left edge and laid it carefully over also, folding it into thirds. Smooth, crisp, fresh, clean, ironed pillow cases.

I can hardly wait to change the sheets again. The new, 300 thread count, overpriced sheets are on the bed right now. I’m looking forward to laying my cheek on my old, mended, freshly laundered and ironed sheets. They will take me back to my childhood when I lie down that night. To the day of the week my mother would do the laundry, carry it to the clothesline, hang them out to dry, bring them in and lovingly iron my sweetly embroidered pillow case and I’d climb into my bed and deeply breathe in that sweet, sweet smell of clean cotton, and of my mom. I’ll sleep well that night, just like I did so long ago.

Slow to Speak

My hope is that this piece is thought provoking, perhaps a springboard for change or motivation to make a difference in a positive way.

For the last several months I have tried to take a breath before “posting all that Bible stuff”. But my reality is that the Word of God, (“that Bible stuff”) is how I live and it is what I believe. When craziness abounds around me and I’m looking for a way to make some sense of the craziness, that is where I go. The Bible. It works for me. (And thousands upon millions of others, I might add)

In regard to the events of the last week or so, the verse below keeps repeating in my heart. Let me break down for you what the words are telling me for this time we are in.

1. LISTEN! Hear one another. Truly honestly be interested and HEAR one another. Everyone, not just those you already know agree with your views. “Seek to understand” ~ Stephen Covey

2. BEFORE YOU SPEAK, have all the hard facts. Not those you read in someone’s post that found their information from a cousin of a friend of a neighbor of a former employer who might have known one of the principals at one time 18 years ago. And by all means if what you are going to say won’t contribute toward a solution, DON’T speak at all. “If you can’t say sumthin’ nice, don’t say nuffin’ at all!” ~ Thumper from the Disney movie, Bambi

3. COOL YOUR JETS with your righteous anger. There are elements of these situations that merit anger and emotion. But “in your anger do not sin!” If your words are going to stir up more anger and division, then they are not well thought out. Words and actions that are simply out of selfish anger will not have a good outcome. It will only lead down the same path that got you angry to start with and now you have become a part of the problem.

Social media makes it all to easy to know instantly about a situation without all the facts. Instead, we receive thousands of posts and images, word and opinions that are biased one way or the other. Let’s take time to breathe, listen, understand, take valuable action (I.e., prayer, education on each situation, compassion, voting when called upon to do so, more education in regard to authentic history, volunteering, etc.)
Let’s be better than we have been being. We have future generations watching what we do. We are teaching them with our actions, one way or the other.
“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.”

James 1:19
#listen #hear #think #slowtoanger #compassion #forthechildren #betheexample

To Re-Examine My Why

As the events of life and circumstances have evolved this year, I’ve had to stop and take a look at many of whys I have in life.  Why do I procrastinate? Why do I believe what I believe? Why do I get inside myself when things are tough? Right now… why do I want to blog?

My why has changed in the last several months.  My why is multi-faceted.

First, I have a deep desire to connect. To connect in a way that is meaningful and loaded with value. I am passionate about relationships and being intentional about the pursuit for those connections.  Having a place where we can “perch” together, I believe, is a way to connect with people I may not have opportunity to connect with otherwise or it may be simply easier to begin here with others and have the chance to springboard to a real eyeball to eyeball friendship.

I also want to make a difference.  My heart is so full of ideas and experience and love for so much that I want to share.  If I can share one thing in a forum such as “Gramma’s Perch” and make a difference in only one other’s life, then I will have fulfilled that one deep wish I have, to be an inspiration or resource for another woman living on this planet.

Let’s be real.  I also want to promote some things I have passion for and want to invite others to enjoy along with me.  Some of them will profit me materially, others will enrich me emotionally.

California Women’s Retreat is coming up and coming along, getting ready for our annual gathering February 26 – 28, 2012.  What a better way to let women know what’s going on from a personal perspective?

I am re-launching my direct selling business which I am so in love with. Not only are our products such high quality useful items but the foundation of Thirty-One is based on amazing values and purposes to empower women to be independent entrepreneurs, as well as reaching out to those who may not be in a position to help themselves quite yet, giving women and children tools to move forward.  The icing on the cake for me is that the company is an amazingly faith-based organization, who is not ashamed to say who they are or give glory to God for their success.

So, my why? To connect with women with the purpose of making a difference and creating some amazing relationships and connections that will benefit others as well as promote those things that are near and dear to my heart.

Pull up a spot on the perch here.  Grab some tea or a cup of coffee and lets chirp for a bit. Let’s connect. I’m looking forward to getting to know you.  I’m equally as excited to be known by you.

#blogging101 #thirtyone #womenentrepreneurs #friendship #workingthroughgrief #cwr2016 #californiawomensretreat

Births, Engagements, Funerals, Weddings and Birthdays

Births, Engagements, Funerals, Weddings and Birthdays

Yes, it is a strange title. But it has been my life for the last few months. Well, let’s face it… for the first half of 2015!

When I last posted at the beginning of the year, I shared that the term I felt was going to be my guiding word for this year was courage.courage

I was right. I’ve needed courage and more, to walk through the last 162 days. It has “taken a village” provided by God to sustain, encourage, lift me up, rebuild my joy, give me strength and endurance and restore my peace. And I am stronger, wiser and more in love with my Savior today than I was on New Year’s Day. I am praying that God will choose a less trauma filled road to teach me lessons and build my hope and character over the next half of the year! Can I get an Amen…several Amens? Please?

On January 18, 2015 a precious angel was born to my eldest daughter, Melinda. Victoria Catherine Hoagland entered this world with a little physical heart that God made in the way he chose to make it.Pink Hat It was a heart with a condition known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. It required surgery, which lead to some complications which ultimately caused a routine procedure, not related to her heart surgery per se, to become non-routine and ended her short, sweet 23 days of life. In those 23 days, Torie Cate touched the lives of thousands of people near and far, showing them the spirit of a fighter and drawing them into a hope and a faith that many had never known before. Her life made a difference. Her life was precious. Her life was planned by God.

During this emotional time, on February 2nd, my youngest, my MIsha, my Mary Ashleigh called to say that she was engaged to the man of her dreams (and ours!) Daniel Joshua (DJ) Salas.

Proposal  “And oh, by the way…. we don’t want to wait very long to be husband and wife… we are thinking 3 months at the most”. Such joy, elation, excitement…. such panic?! 3 months? Are you kidding me? This is my baby. engagementShe will have the wedding of her dreams in 3 months, if God provides the way.

And so, on Saturday, May 23, 2015 Daniel Joshua Salas took Mary Ashleigh Hoagland to be his wife and they became Mr. & Mrs. Salas. #salaspartyoftwo #djandmary

Mr. and Mrs. Salas

Two days ago I celebrated the first day of the last year of being in my 50s. I come into this 60th year on Earth with renewed excitement for life. A refreshed perspective on what is important. Commitment to pursue the important and leave the other stuff for the “time left over” instead of the other way around. I have goals for this year. Things I am asking God to empower me to accomplish before June 9, 2016. Better health, smaller clothes, an enriched mind and closer, more intimate relationship with my Lord.

I’m back. Gramma will share with you over the next several weeks what I have learned through the experiences God has allowed me so far this year.

So… pull up that place on the perch, settle in and let’s talk. antique-bird-cages-wallpaper-border-wallpaper-border-with-birds-antique-bird-cages

I know my God doesn’t allow anything that He doesn’t want used to enrich someone’s life. Maybe my lessons were meant for you.

Jeremiah 29 11

Blessings & Hugs,

Gramma Arla

Sunday Supper

What comes to your mind when you hear the words “Sunday Supper”?  For me that phrase brings images of my darling Momma and Grandma in their colorful aprons in the kitchen lovingly, preparing a feast that would gather us together as family. The smells that emanated from their kitchens probably originated in Heaven itself. Fried chicken, biscuits, home made macaroni & cheese, a heavenly pot roast or maybe a big pot of spaghetti and meatballs with Momma’s garlic bread. Oh I’m getting hungry!

The “family” consisted of whomever was lucky enough to know the time to show up for that little bit of heaven. Could be the neighbors across the street or the preacher and his family or possibly someone that Daddy worked with or occasionally a young man who’d been hitchhiking that Daddy gave a ride to on his way home from a road job. It was a different time back then. We could help those out that needed a hand with not as much fear. A friend out for a Sunday drive could knock on the door unknowingly and be exuberantly gathered in to share the meal. To eat. To talk. To visit. To share time with. There always seemed to be plenty of chairs and an abundance of leftovers to take for lunches in the coming week, regardless of how many “family members” graced our table.

I had the privilege of traveling to Alabama with a dear friend of mine back in the early 90’s. During part of our trip we stayed with his niece’s “in-laws to be”, Mr. & Mrs. Killough. When we arrived I was immediately enamored with the grace and love that exuded from every fiber of that home and family. We visited until late in the evening, retiring to rooms that were so comfortable and welcoming that I wanted to stay forever. But I knew that wouldn’t be happening. This was Saturday evening and we would be leaving the day after tomorrow. I wondered for a moment about inquiring about being adopted, but with my own sweet family at home, that seemed a little drastic.

When I got up the next morning and popped my head out of the room I’d dreamed sweet dreams in the night before. the scent of bacon cooking, coffee brewing and the sweet sounds of praise music met my senses with amazing impact! We melted into the joy of a meal prepared and presented with the same love and grace we had been welcomed with the previous evening. We ate, quickly cleared away the dishes and went off to church worshiping together as “family”.

Later in the afternoon is when the “magic” happened. Sunday Supper! I can still remember that meal. I can taste it smell it, see it! I’ve even tried to re-create it a few times. My attempt at the dishes were prepared the same way, because Mrs. Killough gave me the recipes. The tastes were similar. The aromas were a close match. It is only recently that I have realized why the Sunday Suppers I have tried to replicate weren’t quite the same.

My Momma, my Grandma & Mrs. Killough all included ingredients that they put in all of their meals that I have not consciously sought to put into my Sunday Suppers. In the hurry, hurry, busy life I’ve come to know as mine, I’ve been neglecting to invite a specific guest and apply a special spice to the “food”. My Sunday Suppers have become functional, but not purposeful. I’ve even begun to dread mealtimes on occasion. My Sunday Suppers need to have more of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The Sunday Suppers that remain in my heart and memory from those years ago were less about the casseroles and roasts and desserts and more about the “other food”. The food of fellowship. The food of love and of grace. The food of a shared table and shared lives. Love on purpose.

I want to revive Sunday Supper. Jesus will always be the guest of honor and the Holy Spirit will spice the love that we share through the meal. 2015 is an opportunity for me to recapture a precious tradition from my youth and share that with my kids, grands, neighbors and friends. A time to reach out to some that may not have “family”. Someone who needs to be received with grace and love.

Sunday Supper. It’s more than physical food.

“Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart.” Acts 2:46 NAS

Welcome to the Perch!

What better way to begin the new year than to launch this little bit of me, that has been wanting to share life with you for a while now. It’s interesting to me how differently I see the world from this vantage point.  From a year or two, or fifty some, of life experiences. From up here… on Gramma’s Perch.

I hope you enjoy the things I share with you and maybe even find some value and ideas for your own life.  Whether you are  a grandmother, just beginning your family or a single, I’d like to think that you will find value in the day to day musings, observations and discoveries I share.

On this first day of 2015 I’ve been thinking about words.  Or, more specifically, a word.  A word of focus for this year.  It’s become a little trendy to have a word for the year ahead.  A theme, if you will. I generally am not about being trendy, rather I’m about being individual; different; me!  But this is an effort I believe can hold power for pursuing the journey ahead.  Maybe you will find it to be worthwhile, also.

I prayed bout it.  I pondered.  I wanted something to come to mind that would knock my socks off.  Instead, the word that kept coming back to mind was one that actually made me feel a little fearful.  Ironic with the word that it is.  Oh.. you want to know the word, don’t you? Courage.  My word for this year is courage.


I bantered back and forth a little and decided that it must just be coming to mind because the theme for the California Women’s Retreat is “The Key to Courage”.   So I went for a walk, read a book, sat down and prayed again and guess what?  My word is still courage.

The word scares me a little because I already know some of the things I will face this year.  I immediately decided I would have to “muster up courage” to walk the path I know I will have to walk.  And then I realized.  No, I already have the courage.  I already have the strength.  All of the courage I need comes from my power source, God almighty. How exciting!  Courage. COURAGE.  Hmm… now I’m sounding a little like the Lion in the Wizard of Oz! But it is true, what the lion learned! It’s inside of us and has been all along. Now, just to remember that as I travel!

What an exciting journey I will have this year, walking with courage, down the path that is mine!  COURAGE.

Welcome to the Perch. Let’s share a cup of java or tea….and some COURAGE!




P.S.  I really would love it if you could join me at California Women’s Retreat February 28-March 1 in San Ramon.  How fun it would be to get to know you a little better while be learn more about “The Key to Courage” together.