Tuesday, February 28, 2012


I close my eyes as the water pounds splashes over my head and streams down my back.  I feel so small in the shower.  Good small.  Small like I'm a miniscule part of a much bigger world out there.  Because I am.

During the day, I feel enormous.  Physically, I can't fit behind my desk at work anymore.  I cross my fingers that I won't be seated at a booth in a restaurant.  My favorite spring jacket won't button closed. 

During the day, I start to feel too big for this world.  Too good for this world.  I'm the biggest, best person in this world.  Earth revolves around ME.  And maybe the sun, but mostly ME.  So listen to me, world!  I'm the biggest, most important one here!

My morning shower is a time for smallness and reflection.  A time to remember where I really fall on this earth.  I am one of the billions of most important people.  The water cleanses my soul and brings me back to a humbler place.  I stand in the steam, washing my self-enormity away.  A little kick, from a miniature foot, reminds me again of my place on this earth.  It's the best feeling of small.


Monday, February 27, 2012

27 Weeks-ish

[caption id="attachment_1357" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Taken on 2/23/12: exactly 27 weeks"][/caption]

Yet another terrible picture of me!  This time, via webcam on a random computer.  While the lighting isn't great, you can get a pretty good idea of the beach ball I call Baby Gavin.  And also the gargantuan melons up top.  Notice how small my hips and butt still are... it makes picking out clothing really obnoxious.  Pants: size small.  Shirt: size large.

So yes, I'm exclusively wearing maternity clothes.
And yes, Gavin is a mover and shaker.  The movement is pretty much non-stop.  It's cute till I'm trying to sleep!
So no, I'm not sleeping all that well.
And no, I'm still not feeling all that great.

I scheduled an "emergency" visit to my OB last week.  In part to make sure I wasn't having real contractions - the discomfort was that bad.  I was high and tight, so Gavin isn't coming anytime soon.  Which is good.  Let's wait another 9.5 weeks.  But my doctor did refer me for an ultrasound of my gallbladder to rule out gallstones.

Besides the awful cramping (I guess really strong Braxton-Hicks), I've had sharp stabby pain under my right shoulder blade, near constant nausea, and a complete inability to poop.  Mix those symptoms with a really poor family history of gallbladder removals, and it looks like I'm experiencing a gallbladder attack.  I have the ultrasound on Wednesday.  I really hope I'm only carrying one foreign body (Gavin) in my torso at the moment.  I'll post an update as soon as I know more.

In happier news, Nate and my mom were able to devise a plan for how to rearrange the furniture to make room for Baby Gavin.  Laura and Gavin will share Laura's current room.  The guest room/office will remain as is, but with the addition of the changing table.  It's going to work.  I'm feeling slightly better about our baby preparedness.

Why we love Lady and the Tramp

Laura has watched Lady and the Tramp at least 15 times.  I have heard about not letting kids watch TV blah, blah, blah.  My daughter is in school most of her day, where there isn't a TV screen in sight.  She gets good, old-fashioned play time and learning with her peers, so a little TV at night doesn't bother me (her mother) in the least.  Plus, we have had some really, truly great learning experiences from Lady and the Tramp.

[caption id="attachment_1346" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="Ready to watch"][/caption]

Here are some of the best reasons I love watching Lady and the Tramp with my two-year-old:

Friday, February 24, 2012

Keep Reading!

If you ignore a problem long enough, it'll go away.  Right?  That's been my stance on the whole Google Friends Connect "issue."  GFC wasn't showing correctly on my new-ish WP blog anyway, so I have no idea if anyone who had previously subscribed through GFC is still out there.  Hellooooo?!????  Are you with me?!????

I figured GFC would go away and I would... just squeak by somehow and hope that I'd still be able to find all the blogs I love to read through Blogger.  Because I still log-in to Blogger every day to use that reader to read my beloved blog friends.  I'm, like, way ahead in this technology thing people. 

THEN this morning, I read about the new Linky Followers tool!  Thanks to Jennifer for adding Linky to her blog and telling the world!  I managed to get myself an account AND add the widget thingy to my blog.  It's over there!  On the right!

Sign up, please!  I would LOVE to keep all of you as readers.  I love you guys!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Mademoiselle Crocus

It's 65* and beautifully sunny here in Maryland today.  When I left this morning around 8:15, I needed sunglasses and only had on a light jacket for the sake of wearing an outer layer in the middle of winter.  My mom and Laura were on the couch discussing their plans for the day, including a promised trip outside to play on Laura's slide.

I don't think either of them planned on finding this little friend blossoming alongside the house:

You're a little early, Mademoiselle Crocus!  But can you blame her?  It's been so lovely outside.  Who wouldn't want to stretch their petals and soak up the warm sun?  I'm trying not to get my springtime hopes up.  March is still two weeks away and is a very long month.  In like a lamb, out like a lion, right?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I'm a Second Guesser

Hello.  My name is Caitlin and I'm a second-guesser. 
[Hi, Caitlin!]
You might wonder why this is a problem.  I spend so much of my life second guessing my decisions.  It's a really stressful waste of time and thought.  There are the philosophical second-guesses, like should I have gone to grad school without assessing whether or not I could truly afford the student loans?  Well, it's too late.  I did go to grad school, so stop the griping.  Then there are the daily second-guesses, like should I really try to make Laura eat this noodle even though she's being a picky brat and I'm tired of dealing with it?  If I give up on the noodle, am I failing her?  Should I try harder with the noodle?  Should I care less about the noodle?  Yes!  No!!  Worry!  Don't worry!!  I feel like I'm worse than a worrier - a worrier has some conviction!  None of this back and forth!

This year for Lent, I am giving up second-guessing.  Maybe I'm adding conviction.  Oh, I just don't know!  Maybe I should give up candy instead?  NO.  Second-guessing.  End of discussion.

Lent happens at a really good time of year for me.  It starts right in the middle of the Winter Doldrums, when life is grey and dreary and starting to feel a little lost.  The fun holidays are over, but Spring is still worlds away.  Easter often marks the first happy inkling of Spring, with bunny rabbits and pastel candy and cheery daffodils and crocuses showing their petals.  Easter is hope for me.  And since today is the start of Lent, Easter is a mere forty days away.  I can manage forty more days of Winter Doldrums.

Last year, I gave up saying "Laura's driving me crazy."  Which realistically meant that I added patience to my life.  If I couldn't say the forbidden phrase, I needed to reflect on what Laura was doing that was making me feel crazy.  And nine times out of ten, it wasn't Laura's actions at all.  So in short, Lent made me more patient and my life was better.

Second-guessing is an exhausting see-saw, and I want off.  It's not making me a better mother, wife, friend or human.  It's just making me anxious and tired.  I'm giving up second-guessing.  Que sera, sera.  What will be, will be.  Maybe Laura will eat grapes for dinner every night for the next forty days.  Or maybe pigs will fly and she'll start eating like a normal toddler again.  Oh wait, that means she'll be eating grapes for dinner every night for the end of time.  But it doesn't matter, because I'm not going to second-guess any of this.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012


I am not sure what to do.  Laura is increasingly picky about the foods she will and (mostly) will not eat.  When we first introduced solids way back when, Laura would eat everything we put in front of her.  Everything.  And when she started eating real foods, it was the same deal.  She preferred her foods to be saucy and red, but she'd pretty much each anything.

Lately?  Laura is dropping a previously loved food every minute.  We're down to butters and nunnets, with the occasional ogurt for variety.  But not the baby ogurt.  Only the di-saur ogurt.  Sometimes an appo wesh, but with the skin peeled, and no little bits of skin accidentally left on there.

If you're looking for a translation, Laura's menu is limited to peanut butter, chicken nuggets, Dananino yogurt (rather than Yo Baby), and apple wedges. 

The other night, she was adament that she needed meatballs and brocoli for dinner.  Awesome!  I keep meatballs in the freezer, so that's easy!  I got everything made and cooled.  Laura immediately decided that her meatballs were "dirty" and couldn't be eaten.  WHAT?!

The tantrums.  Oh, the tantrums.  And the more I try, the less she eats.  The less she eats, the more I freak out.  The more I freak out, the harder I try.  It's a bad cycle.  She had toast for dinner last night, people.  Toast.

How do you other moms get your picky kids to eat?  Is there a way to stop this madness?!

And to my own parents, an apology.  I am so sorry for all those nights I wouldn't eat dinner because the tacos had green things (peppers) in the meat.  I am so sorry for all those weeks when all I would eat was grilled cheese and fairy sandwiches (butter and white sugar on white bread).  I am sorry for the malnutrition and high cholesterol.  I am sorry for being a picky eater!

Friday, February 17, 2012

26 Weeks


It's been a few weeks, so I owe you a really bad picture of myself, taken with my iPhone propped up on my desk.  Sorry I couldn't get all of myself in the frame... It was more than a little awkward to take!  27 weeks is on the left, with 20 weeks (for comparison) on the right.  And for reference, you can see (sorta) how I looked at 27 weeks with Laura.  About the same. 

I have no idea how much weight I've gained, but it's getting up there.  I suddenly found myself drawn to cakes and cookies.  Not the healthiest way to eat during pregnancy.  Whatever.  Cake makes me happy, so I'm going with it.

I'm outgrowing my maternity clothes very quickly.  I think it's a combination of my freakishly large boobs pulling my shirts up higher on my waist, and my dryer shrinking everything.  It's really depressing to feel so large, and still have three months to go.  I know I'm going to get bigger, and I just don't feel like having to buy more crappy Old Navy maternity clothes.  Realistically, I was going to have to anyway, since I don't own any Spring-wear.

I'm really, really uncomfortable.  I know this is a pretty common complaint for pregnant women, but whatever.  I'm really uncomfortable.  With Laura, I had some major pelvis pain and a cute little foot shoved up in my ribs.  This time, I'm starting to get the pelvis pain again, which is compounded by severe constipation cramps that feel like full-blown contractions, along with some really strong  Braxton-Hicks contractions.  My doctor assures me that the tightening I'm feeling isn't in the right places to be real contractions, based on my uterus size.  But her assurances don't make me feel much better when I'm doubled over in tears every night. 

Nate has been a saint.  He has been washing all dishes, picking up all toys, and keeping Laura from jumping on me as much as possible.

My mother-in-law has been a saint.  She has been doing all laundry, making all beds, cleaning the bathroom, and letting me sleep in the guest bed (her bed) even when she is staying overnight to watch Laura for us.  Last night, she took Laura out to dinner so I could sit on the couch without moving for a few hours.  I only have "contractions" when I'm standing or walking.  I feel 100% fine when seated. 

Laura has been a saint.  As I collapsed on the couch the other night, she asked "Mommy back hurt?"  Her face was so full of concern and love.  I wanted to cry.  Instead, I scooped her onto my diminishing lap for hugs.  We played a rousing game of cyclops staring.  Nose-to-nose, so close to each other, our eyes begin to merge into one blue ocean.  This game drives Laura CRAZY with laughter!  She pulls away to refocus her eyes, and then throws her head back to mine to link noses again.  We may have had one head-bonk injury involving her forehead to my nose.  It was too hilarious to hurt.  She has just been so good.  And so understanding.

I keep bursting into tears at the most random moments.  I don't know if it's the hormones, the fact that Nate is out of town again, the discomfort, or all of the above.  I know that I would really like to quit my job and spend all day eating Zebra Cakes on the couch, but that's not possible.  I know that after I do burst into tears and sob for no more then 30 seconds, I feel worlds better.  It's as if I am a steam radiator, and I just need a quick release sometimes.  I also know that I would really like to poop like a normal person again.  I think my stomach would actually look less pregnant if only I could poop.  This is the best post ever.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Dunno

It started off as a really cute phrase.  We would ask Laura a question.  In response, she would shrug her little shoulders, turn her palms up (fingers slightly curled), and say "I dunno!"  Her voice would be filled with wonderment and possibility, as though she were saying, "Wow! I don't know what color that is, but I'd love to find out!"  It was so cute, we would laugh and giggle and repeat it back.  Laura would smile, pleased with her little joke.

It was really, really cute.  Until we noticed that Laura would often say "I dunno" when we knew she knew the answer.  It was still cute, but we would try to get her to actually answer the question.  "No, really Laura, what color is this?"

It was far less cute when Laura dropped all pretense of awe and humor.  She started answering every question with a bored, monotone "I dunno."  It was as if she was using this common phrase the way some people say "um" before they speak.  Her placeholder for thinking about an answer.  Except that she would never get around to answering.  We're working on it, forcing Laura to actually answer our questions.  Laura, what did you do at school today? 
I dunno. 
Yes, you do know, practice your remembering. 
Play my fends!  Play trucks!

Laura is a very smart little girl.  She knows the answers to most of our questions.  Most of them.  At 3:45 this morning, Laura was sobbing in her room.  We waited a few minutes to see if she'd settle down, and then we went in to calm her.  I asked her what was wrong.  She sobbed "I dunno!"  And I felt truly helpless.

For once, Laura was really unsure of an answer.  I wanted to prompt her to the right answer, but I didn't know what that answer was either.  I didn't want to ask if something hurt, because then she would be convinced that something did hurt.  I didn't want to ask if she'd had a bad dream, because then she would be convinced of something scary in her room.  Instead, I let the phrase slide as I laid Laura down in bed with us.  Sometimes, there is no answer. 

Why was Laura crying last night?  I dunno.   Did I completely mess up as a mom by laughing at a bad habit?  I dunno, but probably not.

Pouring my heart out, because I just don't know all the answers.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

Laura has been running around wishing us all a "Happy Balens Day!"  I wish the same to you!

I'm linking up with Memories Captured.  Because what better memory to capture than a two-year-old in a tutu and wings?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

My Laura

No matter how old Laura gets, I always think of the first time I saw her.  I wasn't able to hold her for the longest time.  It felt like ages (and was probably 20 minutes).  I had waited 9 months to see her, and now she was all the way across the room receiving urgent care I couldn't provide.  But now that she was breathing and just fine, what did she look like?   What sort of person was my daughter?

Nate took the picture on the left to show me.  That picture was the first time I saw my daughter.  The image is fused in my memory as who Laura is: determined, strong, a little stubborn, and absolutely beautiful.

Laura has grown and evolved so much over the past two years, as any child should.  There are the obvious differences in size and hair, but so much has remained the same.  My daughter is still one determined little girl.  She has a strong personality, which so far shows as a loyalty to her friends.  Laura is entirely stubborn, but she comes by that trait honestly.  And yes, Laura is beautiful.  (What kind of mother would I be if I didn't believe that?)


I'm not feeling well today, but couldn't stay home because I have no sick leave.  And I need to save that stuff for May and my maternity leave.  But I saw this cute little link-up, and thought I could handle it!

1. How long have you and your significant other been together?

Nate and I met in March of 2002 - nearly ten years ago!  We have done a lot of growing up together.


2. How did you meet? {What's your "love" story?}

We met when I was up visiting my older brother's close friend from high school.  I was going to college in Virginia at the time, far from home, and was eager to spend time with anyone at all in the area that I knew from home.  Chris was in Baltimore, and my brother wanted me to date him anyway (no clue why), so we planned a visit.  I arrived at Chris' apartment a little early, but his roommate was home.  No one told me his roommate was hot.  That was it for me.  I wouldn't call it love-at-first-sight, but something in my brain clicked and told me this guy was going to be important in my life.  For the record, Chris and I are very close friends to this day, and we would have made a terrible couple!


3. If married, how long have you been married? If not, is this the guy you hope to marry? {do tell}

Nate and I were married on a very hot, humid day in July 2007.  It was one of the funnest days of my life!


4. If you are married, where did you get married at? Big or small wedding?  If not, where would you like to get married? And will it be big or small?

We were married in the church where my parents, aunts and uncles were married, the same church where my older brother and I were baptized.  That was really special for me.  It's a gorgeous church, but thick with family history.  We had our reception in my parent's yard.  My mom's gardens were in full summer bloom, with Cape Cod blue hydrangeas EVERYWHERE.  It was exactly what I wanted.


5. Do you have any nick-names that you call one another? Do share!

Does Poophead count?  I mostly call Nate "hunny."  I'm aware of the misspelling.  Haven't you ever read Winnie the Pooh?  I call him Nathan when I am teasing or trying to get his attention.  Nate calls me "Babe," but also Cait or Caitlin.


6. Name 3 things you love most about your honey.

He's still one of the hottest guys I know.  He's can always get me to laugh, no matter what mood I'm in.  He looks me right in the eyes with this smile - I can't describe it... but it's so him and so perfect.


7. Tell us how he proposed? Or your ideal proposal?

Nate was trying to surprise me with a hot air balloon ride, during which he planned to propose.  But during our 4 pm dinner before the trip, the balloonist called to cancel.  So we were in the middle of nowhere, eating dinner at 4 pm, with no further plans.  Nate proposed just as our dinner was arriving.  His opening line was "So, I really love you [pause]" during which all I could think was, "Wait - is he proposing or dumping me?!"  When he pulled out the box with the ring, I completely lost all sense of propriety, grabbed the box, put the ring on, and nodded yes.  So much for a graceful answer!


8. Is he a flowers and teddy bear kind of guy for v-day, or strawberries, champagne, and rose petals?

Never flowers, but definitely teddy bears and likely a bottle of wine.  But probably not ON Valentine's Day, because we can all agree that prices are completely inflated this time of year. 


9. Are you a sunset dinner on the beach kind of girl, or pop a movie in and relax on the couch?

Neither?  Both?  I like going out to dinner in a pretty dress... then coming home jammies, more wine, and a movie.


10. Tell us one thing you'd like to do with your significant one day. If you could do anything? Go anywhere?

Nate and I are planning a rafting trip to Chile... someday... The same week we met, Nate read an article in Men's Health about this one rafting trip.  He cut it out and pinned it to his bathroom wall.  We've been talking about this trip for ten years.  I've only been rafting once, but that one trip was enough to tell me I WANT TO GO!  We are saving our credit card travel miles for this one trip. 


11. Tell us what you plan on doing on this Valentine's Day.

On actual Valentine's Day?  I'll probably make a somewhat fancy dinner for the three of us at home, and maybe have a small glass of red wine.  We try to avoid going out ON Valentine's Day, since the restaurants are so busy and the menus are so expensive.  We might go out for dinner this weekend (with Laura) to celebrate in advance.


12. Are you asking for anything this Valentine's day?

Peace on Earth.  And maybe some Valentine M&Ms.


13. Give us one piece of advice of keeping a relationship strong and full of love.

Honesty.  Nate and I are incredibly open with each other, which means we can work through issues before they become problems.  I might vent about Nate or various issues here on this blog, but we work through everything together.


14.  Show us a picture of what love means to you.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012


I must have read half a dozen posts this week written by moms feeling like they aren't good enough.  I blame the full moon: it has all of our children acting like crazy people.  Perhaps also there is some planet in retrograde, thereby lowering our ability as moms to value ourselves.  Otherwise, why would so many moms have written post after post, wondering about their ability to parent? 

We are good enough.

I have these feelings, too, sometimes.  These negative, terrible feelings of Mom Fail.  For a while, everything goes smoothly.  My kid is the cutest, smartest, and best behaved kid EVERRR!  Wee!  Then, as sudden as the tides, my child grates on every last nerve I have, until I'm reduced to a sniffling mess of emotions and negativity.  Surely my child's bad mood and behavior are some failing on my part.

They are not.  I am a good mom.  So are you.

Last night, I made a conscious choice to make my time at home with Laura meaningful and fun. Instead of nagging Laura to stay of the stairs for the love!, I sort of just let her play.  Amazingly, she spent very little time on or near the stairs.   When she started to whine about some toy she couldn't open, I asked her to take a breath and ask for help.  She did and was able to resolve her frustration on her own.  We had fun together last night.  I felt relaxed and empowered. 

This morning was a little more difficult.  Laura didn't want to go to school for some reason, and her tears began to pull at my heart-strings.  "Mommy werkin' ta-day?"  Yes, Mommy has to go to work today.  "No, Mommy! Waura's Mommy stay home."  No, Mommy has to go to work, and you have to go to school.  "No skew-well! My mommy my house!"

My heart cried with her for a moment or two.  I would have loved to have stayed at home with Laura today.  Truly!  In that moment, I realized that Laura's tears were wet, salty proof of my good parenting. 

My daughter loves me.  
I am doing a good job. 
She wants to be with me. 
I want to be with her.

I am good enough.  So are you.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

And then this happened

A friend I don't deserve came to my house today and cleaned my basement. We'd been planning it for weeks. I'd really been looking forward to it. Not the cleaning so much, mostly the part about having my house a little less toxic to live in.

I didn't get any "before" pictures. In part because my anxiety upon entering the basement. But also because of my sheer embarrassment over the state of things down there.

I organize shit for a living. My house is a disorganized, embarrassing nightmare. So I called in back-up. A coworker who also organizes shit for a living, who asked only for Chick Fil-A lunch in payment.

We threw out 12 bags of trash.
We emptied and recycled 20 cardboard boxes.
We condemned the Mouse Condo couch.

It was disgusting and wonderful. We laughed. We cried. We organized, cleaned, and made my house a little less awful.


And if you still think this looks bad, you have no idea. Nate asked if we could install a disco ball and throw a party. I said no, but only because I'm partied out after Christmas and Laura's birthday!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, February 3, 2012

This just happened

I found a mouse. And lost my shit.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, February 2, 2012

It's Time

Laura screamed and cried for a really long time last night after I put her in her crib.  I tried a few times to settle her down, but got nowhere and decided to just let her tire herself out.  Which sort of happened...

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Two Places at Once

I'm taking it easy at home today with Miss Ear Infection. But I'm also out visiting Ashley at Domestic Wannabe! Read all about a somewhat typical day of mine over at her place!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone