Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Life lately

Life lately has been too good to blog.  Why blog when I'm surrounded by so much awesome?  Yet at the same time life has been too good not to blog.  I want to remember this stuff!  I want to chronicle my wonderful family.  It's selfish, really, as I can just pull up a blog post on a bad day and instantly remember the good times that have happened and have yet to happen that make it all worthwhile.  I don't do that here.  So this post won't be a recap of fun weekends or silly kid stories.  I have other places for that.  Places that are far more meaningful to me.  This is my place to whine.  Which is probably why I'm not some wildly successful blogger.  I'm just another woman complaining into the ether.  And lately, I just haven't had much to complain about.

 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

On Pre-K Homework and Perfectionism

Laura started Pre-K at her daycare the last week of August.  She was so excited.  So very excited.  Not to finally be in the 4's class, even though she's been four for 3/4 of a year now.  But because of homework.

"I can't wait to move up to the 4's class so I can get homework!  Grandma calls it homefun!  It's going to be perfect!"

"Perfect."  But that's precisely the problem I have with this homework.  Perfectionism.

Laura comes home every night with her intimidating black composition book with assignments glued in.  Practice these letters.  Color in this picture.  Draw these shapes to match.  It's not the actual assignments - it's the expectation Laura has for herself to be perfect.

Practice these letters: She's lefty, which means that our right-handed system of letter writing is not intuitive for her.  Many of her letters come out perfectly written... completely backwards.  And as soon as Laura compares her letter to the example, she bursts into tears.  "It's not perfect!  It needs to be perfect!  My teacher will be upset!"

Woah.  WAIT A MINUTE.  You are four years old.  You still fit on my lap, and snuggle blankies to sleep, and need me to cut up your food at dinner.  You are still so little and young and innocent.  Please, PLEASE don't worry about what a teacher thinks of you.

I am frustrated, and maybe I need to speak with her teacher about this, but I am frustrated because it feels like Laura is feeling pressured  to learn and do things a certain way.  Maybe the pressure she is feeling is all internal.  But if there is a teacher - or even a classmate - making her feel this way, she needs it to stop.  She'll learn to write her letters.  I'm quite sure of that.  I just don't need her feeling intimidated into learning.

As Laura said just last night, "Mom, this homework really isn't fun.  I thought it was supposed to be fun."  So I wrote as much in a little note in her composition book last night:
Laura did not finish writing her P's because she was getting too upset when they weren't "perfect" and I asked her to stop. -C

Monday, September 1, 2014

Apologies to Lil' Troy

Wanna be a -- crawler, shot caller
Twenty pacifiers -- on the ExerSaucer
A crawler gettin fed tonight

Paul will be six months old on the 5th.  He's not actually crawling yet... But it's close.  He gets up on his hands and knees before face planting, and when he's on his tummy and pushes himself backwards to wherever it is he wants to go.  Hide your daughters: Paul's on the move.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Cheese

There are so many things I love about this photo:
I see a dress I felt spectacular in, despite hours of panic and more than one last minute dress purchase while this one waited patiently in my closet.

I see hair that was worth every penny of having it done professionally hours beforehand.

I see pride and ease in feeding my baby during a wedding reception...

I also see a little "cocktail" of Sprite (his 4th in as many minutes), set oh so carefully to the side on the chair he carefully pulled over to be next to me.

I see those pudgy little hands purposefully set on his lap.

I see that suit! My god, that little seersucker suit!

I see the world's funniest two-year-old, cheesing for the camera...

I also see joy, and laughter, and beauty in a day filled with the same.  My brother was married this weekend.  My little brother (who I often picture in my head as a blonde, choo-choo loving, funny little guy, so very similar to the blonde, choo-choo loving funny little guy seated beside me in this photo), all grown up and married to a wonderful woman. 

It's a blurry photo, and "terrible" of both me and Gavin.  But it's my favorite photo from the day.  Or at least one of them... it was such a happy day, and there are so many photos I love, but this one.  There's just something about this one.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Tuesday Night BBQ

Every Tuesday night for the past several weeks, we have had "plans" with our neighbors.  Laura even asks "Mom, it's the middle day of school - do we have plans tonight?"  I love it!  I love the friendship and camaraderie we have found in our new neighborhood.  This, this Tuesday night routine, is a huge reason why we moved.  Tuesday nights means hamburger or hot dogs on the grill, a potluck of salads, running in sprinklers, and getting covered in melted Popsicle - all on a weeknight!

Yesterday, we weren't supposed to have "plans."  The other mom and I hadn't discussed anything, and I thought I'd take my kids to the pool.  Well, it was too chilly (!) for the pool, so I asked my friend (!!) if she'd like to bring the kids over for Popsicles after dinner. 

"I don't know how soon we can get over there, I have to wait for the husband to bring home buns."
"Well, I have tons of buns but not enough burgers - shall we pool our resources?"
"Yes! Your yard or mine?"

We wound up at our yard, which ended up being a silly choice as I was completely out of propane!  So we cooked the burgers inside and made do.  It was probably even better that way, adding to the spontaneity of our Tuesday Night BBQ.  All seven kids broke down in tired tantrums at the same time, so I helped my friend scoop her kids into the car while Nate wrangled our own kids into the house for bedtime.

I need to go buy more Popsicles and propane.  We'll probably have to skip our BBQ next week (my brother is getting married!!!), but I can't wait to start back up again after that.  It feels so nice having friends!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Parenting

Before I was a mom, I wondered how it would handle "parenting" other people's kids.  Like, say I had a friend's kid at my house and I needed to put a stop to some sort of behavior. Would I turn a blind eye because I was too afraid to parent someone else's kid? Would I offend that parent by stepping in? Would I feel weird?

As it turns out, like most everything else parenting related, speaking to other peoples kids comes fairly naturally.  You see something happen, you react to it.  And rather than feeling weird... I actually feel boastful. 

Like "I just told our kids what's what. Didn't I handle that nicely?! I said xyz and told them zyx and I think they really got it!  I spoke to them and they understood and now they're playing so nicely! High five me!"

This is not the reaction I expected of myself.  But maybe I shouldn't be surprised. I really like to brag.  Even when it's over something like getting three little girls to play nicely.

Sidenote: wow. That mean girls crap starts so young!  And don't get me wrong, I was upset with my daughter for excluding someone... But I was also pretty upset with the excluded girl for being so damn whiney! I mean, no wonder the others didn't want to play with you, you expected to be included by whining to grown ups that you weren't being included! As if the girls could read your mind that you wanted to play too?  There is a lot to be said of simply saying "hey, can I play too?" 

So yeah, I reprimanded all three girls.  Laura, you have felt excluded and it sucks. Be nice and include this little girl.  But also, friend? You can't just whine your way into an invitation to play! Include yourself and please stop tattling!  Humph!

I avoided the whiney girl's mom... She seemed rather whiney herself. But I was delighted by the high-five I got from the third girl's mom!


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Scenes from this week

Four and a half with an attitude

Mini golf

Mr. Handsome

Literary dog

Monday, July 14, 2014

Baptisms, Cake and Baby-led Weaning

Doctors will tell you that babies can start having solid foods around four months old.  But they caveat that by adding that babies shouldn't have solid foods until they begin showing interest in foods.

Paul was baptized on Sunday, 10 days after his four month birthday.  I baked a little cake to serve as dessert at his reception after the baptism. And when I asked to get a picture of him with the cake, he DOVE in!  I have seen one-year-olds less interested in their first birthday cakes!  
We had not yet given Paul any solid foods to eat. In part because I simply hadn't remembered to buy any infant cereal at the store on any of my grocery runs!  However, I think we can safely assume that Paul in definitely interested in food, and ready for cereal!

I also just love that my son's first food was cake... I have had a deep love of cake since I was a baby. My first word was cake - maybe it will be Paul's, too!
Paul's second food: rice cereal on 7/14/14

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Asking for help

I tend to believe I can do everything.  I can be a mom and a wife and a coworker!  I can get all the laundry washed, folded and put away!  I can do all the dishes!  I can feed everyone all the meals!  Healthy meals, too!  I can get all my work (both at home and at work) done!  I can vacuum, too!  Groceries!  Planning!  Play dates!  Let's go to the pool - Daddy will Birthday parties, showers, baptisms - all the parties!

And I don't need help!

But oh yes, I do need help.

Lately, everything has been slipping a little.  The house isn't as tidy.  I can't figure out what the hell to cook for dinner on any given night.  We've been getting more take-out than I believe is healthy or wallet-friendly.  I took the kids to the pool once by myself and it was... a challenge.  Work has been frustrating to say the least, and confusing and difficult and self-esteem wrenching.

I know I'm no saint.  I'm not perfect, nor should I strive to be so.  But it's been really hard for me to step back and say "No I can't do this. Not by myself."  And so I've had to ask for help.  I need Nate to meet me at the pool - if only to help me carry the kids kicking and screaming back to the car when it's time to go home.  I need help with the laundry - even if it's just carrying the folded baskets upstairs to their designated bedroom.  I need help with dinner - even if that means another night of take-out that Nate brings home.  He's part of the marriage too, so why don't I let myself depend on him more?

And I need help at work.  This has been the hardest help to ask for.  Asking for help at work means I have to admit that I am struggling and that I should have asked for help months ago.  Weeks ago.  Even days ago.  Every day I let pass without asking for help only mires me further and only beats down my usually cheerful and positive demeanor.  (Side note: while I can be extremely mopey at home, I tend to be the complete opposite at work.  At work, I'm the cheerful optimistic cheerleader,  keeping everyone else peppy. Strange, isn't it?)

Today I asked for helped.  I sat with my boss, apologized for getting a little weepy, and told her all the horrible things I've been feeling inside for waiting so long to ask for help.  I told her all the things that are confusing me and challenging me and keeping me from moving forward with projects.  I asked for help.  And she gave it freely and without hesitation.  Because that's what she's there for - to oversee and assist and lead and help.

Why did I wait so long?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Capable

This is what going to the zoo with three kids looks like.
Nate was in North Carolina on Saturday, leaving me to fend for myself with the three children.  I needed a plan to get us all out of the house, and my friends were planning to be in DC.  Perfect!  I'll see friends AND get the kids out of the house without going crazy!
The plan was a good one.  I would feed the children an early lunch, then leave the house at noon in order to give Gavin a chance to nap in the car.  We would park in a prepaid garage near the National Zoo (thank you Groupon and Parking Panda!).  I would wear Paul in the front pack, and push the other two in the double stroller.  We would meet our friends at the pandas at 2:00.

The problem with plans is that they never quite go, well, according to plans!

The first part worked out just fine.  We got into DC, found our prepaid garage, and walked to the zoo a few blocks away.  So it was hot, so the stroller was heavy, we were off to a fun day at the zoo!  But then snag #1: a delayed flight into DC meant we wouldn't see half the friends we were planning to see until 5:00 at the earliest, and I wasn't sure my crew would last that long.

And shortly thereafter, snag #2: "meet at the pandas" is a really vague meeting place, as it turns out, and my other friend doesn't have a phone after spending 6 years overseas... So there I was, wandering the National Zoo with three children all by myself.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to give up and walk back to the car and go home.  I was on the brink of feeling completely inadequate in taking three kids out of the house by myself.

But wait a minute, self!  I'm already at the zoo!  The children are (gasp) excited to see animals!  They're even behaving and sitting nicely in the stroller and holding hands when they get out of the stroller to see better.  They are overjoyed to see pandas!  They don't care in the least that my plan to see my friends isn't quite working out.  And you know what, self?  I am completely capable of doing this trip!

I swallowed back the tears, handed snacks out to the kids, and chose to enjoy myself.  And as it turns out, we did find that phoneless friend!  And we were able to stick around the city till 5:00 to meet up with the other friends for some dinner!  My kids were amazingly well behaved, given the heat and length of the outing and everything else.  And I felt completely capable and strong and confident pushing my trio through the DC Pride Parade, where we happened to wind up (I totally forgot that was going on!) for dinner. 

I was staring at all the men who had forgotten their pants that morning... and they were gawking at me in turn!  "Good lord, that's a lot of kids, lady!" I heard from one man in gold undies with a tiara...  All in all, it was a wonderful day.  And then I got shingles.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Work It

Last week was hard.  I flew from Albany to Chicago, switched planes, and flew the rest of the way to Seattle, with Paul strapped snugly to my chest.  We checked one bag and one car seat, and carried two bags and a stroller through the airports.  Let's be honest: the stroller was for the duffel bag, not the baby.

We landed at 11 am, hopped in a taxi, and off-loaded at the Conference center. I checked my suitcase, grabbed my conference badge, and met my coworkers outside my session.  They took Paul while I changed in the ladies room, put in my contacts, and slapped on some make-up. A quick lunch and a venti coffee later, I was up on stage speaking to 100 Chinese museum professionals.  And while I knew Paul was safe outside the meeting room, I heard him cry a few times and I knew he was as exhausted as I.

We spent most of Monday in the exhibition hall, meeting vendors in person and scoping out the coolest freebies to bring home.  We did go to the general session, and I'm glad I did.  The speaker was fabulous (and Paul was quiet).  Monday was great. I was on a high from my crazy Sunday itinerary going off without a hitch and I felt confident in Paul's easy personality.

Tuesday brought sessions I wanted to hear.  And I tried.  So hard, I tried to sit through sessions.  But a crying baby in a crowded meeting room isn't fair to anyone.  So I left every session I went to within the first 10 minutes.  And I sat in a corner and cried for feeling like bringing Paul was a mistake.

But that was stupid.  I didn't go to the conference to hear things, at least that wasn't my sole reason.  I went to the conference to represent my museum.  To speak and be heard.  And actually, yes, to be seen as a strong working mother with my child in a front pack on my chest.  There aren't a ton of working mom role models in my field.  I am proud to be one of the few.

Tuesday night, after telling myself it was ok to skip the sessions, I went to a fabulous evening event.  The venue was packed, so imagine my surprise when several people elbowed their way to me - me! - to tell me they had seen me all week with Paul and that they were inspired by seeing us together at the conference.  

So when I walked into my second session Wednesday morning I didn't have Paul strapped to my chest (he was at the hotel with my aunt), but I was carrying instead pride and confidence.  My session was fabulous - a packed room with great audience response and questions.  

I hope my fellow conference goers attended great sessions and went home with some fun freebies.  I didn't attend a single full session, but I came away with the best freebie there is - a great deal of confidence in who I am as a woman, mother and professional.  


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

On Doing It All

I leave on Friday for a whirlwind of a week abroad, just me and Lil Paul-Paul (as Laura calls him), traveling the US.  We'll first be attending my sister's college graduation, as she has been to every single graduation for me and my two brothers - we owe her!  Next, Paul and I will be hopping on a plane to fly to the West coast for a work conference.  I won't simply be attending... I am presenting.  Twice.  Because I'm crazy, right? 

But what mom isn't a little crazy.  We do everything we can to be everything to everyone.  We are first a daughter and sister, because they have been there from the very beginning: from the toddler tantrums, through the bad glasses and braces of middle school, the drama of high school and college, weddings and babies.   We are a daughter and a sister, so we go to graduations, to show our love and support by being there for such a big achievement.

We are a wife to the man we met so many years ago on a Friday afternoon, and to whom we have promised a lifetime of love and devotion.  So before we leave him with two young children for a week, we write out schedules and lunch plans.  We prepare a birthday present for a friend's party.  We buy easy dinners for the nights we are away. 

We are mother to our beautiful sons and daughters.  The children for whom we have wished and prayed and hoped for and continue to love every minute of every day.  We want the very best for our children.  For many mothers, that means staying home.  And some of us go to work, trusting with every fiber of our being that they're okay all day without us.  So we lovingly pack school bags, and ask for that one last hug at drop off, and eagerly await stories of their day away.

We are friends and colleagues.  And sometimes that means we have to put work a little ahead of our families.  We leave before the sun rises, and get home in time to help tuck in.  Sometimes we travel - all the way across the country - to advance our careers.  Sometimes this means we miss important things at home, like birthdays - both our own child's and a dear friend's.  We miss packing lunches, and folding tiny pairs of shorts, and bath time and stories.  We miss the beautiful mundane...  but we miss it to ultimately to better support the families we so love. 

So Friday I leave home, leave Laura and Gavin and Nate for seven days.  I will spend time with my family - the original six of us (plus Paul), as none of our spouses will be there.  I am so excited for this quick visit with my parents, sister and two brothers, just us, for the first time in years. 

On Sunday, I fly to the West Coast and my first of two presentations.  I'm missing Gavin's 2nd birthday.  My big boy, turning two years old, and I'll be on a plane and speaking in front of strangers.  But even while spending a week as a professional, I'll still be a mom first - with Paul attending every session in the front pack with me.  I've been a little stressed about this crazy itinerary, I have a packing list a foot long, I'm not exactly sure how everything will go, I'm still tripping on my words for my presentation, and I'm a little worried about how well Paul will travel.  But I know I can do it, because that's what moms do.  We do it all.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Life's Perfect Moments

AKA: Why you should never leave a four-year-old in charge of anything.
Laura not squashing the baby

We have had a lot of rain in Maryland this week.  A lot.  And while the skies are clear today, my basement is still a little damp.  I may have been home all day Wednesday during the worst of the downpours, but that doesn't mean I remembered to check the french drain by the basement door for clogs!  Which brings me to this:


I went down to the basement for one quick second to do something I can’t even remember anymore, and saw a line of mud along the door sill with an area of darker carpet spread (of course) through the dress-up clothes and a large pile of books on the floor next to the bookshelf.  The drain!  The blasted drain had to be clogged - and it was in that moment I remembered I'm supposed to check said drain for clogs before things get messy... oops!

I ran back upstairs to grab Laura to help me clean up the books, and noted that Paul was on his activity mat on the floor, so, like, sort of safe-ish enough.  Gavin followed to “help” move the books that had been strewn about the floor to a dry part of the basement, so Paul was totally fine!  We got everything cleaned up inside, so I needed to move outside to clear the drain before the flooding got worse.  

But then I had to go outside in the deluge of rain to unclog the drain and shovel the masses of wet leaves out of the area.  I left Laura in charge with Paul still on the floor… even though it would have taken me 20 seconds to put him in the swing.  The drain too longer to clear than I anticipated, but I was so focused on my task, I really didn't notice how much time was passing.  The kids were dry inside, and in my brain that meant they were safe.  
Gavin not squashing the baby

I finally got the drain cleared and went inside bleeding from two spots on my hands from doing god only knows what while cleaning the drain, to find Gavin sitting on Paul whacking him with a remote, while Laura is pulling Gavin’s feet and sobbing that he needs to stop and listen to her because she’s the oldest and why is he not listening!  (I don't know, Laura, but if you get him to listen please share your sage wisdom!)  Nate walked in right at that moment, as I am standing in a puddle of rain water and blood next to three crying children, and asked if I could help gather up water glasses for the dishwasher… I laughed, told him to save the infant (still on the floor), and walked away.

The rain has stopped.  The children survived.  The basement is fine, minus a few books.  This is my perfect life.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Bubbles the Fish

I bet you thought we got a new pet...
As much as I love formal serve ware with fish designs, no. I'm not a fish person... For eating or as pets.  But Bubbles is a new friend around here, helping little Paul breath a little easier as he works through a bad case of bronchiolitis.  We are lucky it's not RSV.  

In case you're wondering, Bubbles came with the name.  And Paul hates him.

Monday, April 14, 2014

BOB-bing along

When I was initially shopping for a stroller back in 2009, I thought "why would I spend $500 on a stroller that won't fit in my car?"  So I bought the travel system that came with the infant seat and a stroller that... barely fit in my car.  And also only rolled smoothly on nicely paved surfaces.  And was obnoxious.  And ended up being abandoned in the basement.  

We also had a smaller, "fancy" umbrella stroller that for some reason just never rolled as easily as it should have.

So I bought a cheapie umbrella stroller from Babies R Us that was our go-to stroller.  

Then I wanted a double stroller and bought one without doing enough research.  And while it fit two kids, it was incredibly heavy to lift and push, barely fit in my car, and just wasn't worth it.  And then I started running and wanted a jogging stroller but just couldn't justify a 5th stroller when most of my running was done once I got to work, without children.

But now I'm healed enough from Paul's birth that I've been itching to get moving again.  I know longer have a gym membership, and any exercise I am going to do will be with Paul in tow.  So I became obsessed with jogging strollers, swallowing the stupidity of owning five strollers.  I wanted a good one, but one that didn't cost an arm and a leg.  We just don't have the cash for a $500 stroller right now!  

Everything I read and researched and tested in stores brought me back to the BOB - the most expensive of the bunch. But I wanted it!  So bad.  Oh the running I would do with Paul in a BOB!  So I found a used one on a certain Craig's list, bought it, and love it!!!
Paul loves it too.  Our new neighborhood is wonderful for walking and running.  The weather has been fabulous, and I've been soaking up the sunshine and warm breeze!  We are expecting rain tomorrow, so I'll have to leave the BOB barely fitting in my trunk till we have some sunshine again. Oh well!  We'll be back on the trails on the next sunny day!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

One of those super mom days

Today it was just me and my boys.  My first full day alone with more than just Paul since he was born.  Laura is on a trip with Grandma, so I still have yet to spend a full day alone with all three... Baby steps?

I was nervous about today, but am happy to report we had a great day.   Timorrow will probably be terrible, as a counter, but today was great.
I showered, fed everyone and got us in the car to run errands.  We picked up some supplies at Home Depot, then got home for lunch.  I even got Gavin to take a nap!  Paul didn't quite cooperate with napping at the same time, but his overlapped the tail end of Gavin's, so I got a brief doze as well. 

After nap (while Paul snoozed away in the  swing), Gav and I got to work on our project!  We added coffee table legs to a Brio train top that has been my brother's long long ago!  Gavin painted the legs, then helped me attach them!


We are proud of our handiwork, and can't wait to configure some train tracks tomorrow!

Paul took a long enough nap that Gav and I got some swing time in before dinner.  Miraculously, Paul's naps worked our so nicely all day!  He cooperated with my needs for keeping Gavin entertained and safe... and what's even better, Paul fell asleep for the night early!  It's 9:30 and I am in bed.  I don't expect tomorrow to go as smoothly as today, but maybe I'll be happily surprised!  Good night!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Big Boy Bed


I blame myself, as I foolishly had the bed from Gavin's room moved into the nursery so I could more easily get in and out of bed to feed Paul, with the c-section recovery.  We didn't think Gavin would care, since he's been so happy staying in the crib.  But I suppose having your mom and dad gone for four nights, then bringing home the new baby and taking his bed was just too much.

It's hard becoming a big brother!  This new kid suddenly appearing on mom's lap, crying at all hours of the day and night, with fun looking bouncy contraptions that big brothers aren't allowed to sit in...  Gavin has taken his new role of big brother in stride, always hugging and kissing "Baby," patting his head and bringing him toys to play with.  (And as sweet as it all is, omg terrifying!  Those hugs are one well-meaning step away from smothering!  This is all incredibly supervised!)

But as sweetly as Gavin is toward his brother, I did expect some less positive behavior changes.  With Laura, it's been a quickness to tears.  With Gavin, it's been a literal fear of bedtime.  Vaulting himself out of the crib, landing on his head (of course), and running screaming into the hall.

Night lights haven't worked.  Neither has music, blankies, stuffed animals, or anything besides a grown-up sitting right next to him in bed.  

In a big boy bed, that is.  The crib jumping was just too dangerous.  A big boy bed for my sweet big brother... A little sooner than I feel like he's really ready, but what can you do??  My in-laws brought a toddler bed for Gavin to use, so we set that up in his room.  But the next problem has been the fear of being alone.

We tried staying with him till he fell asleep.  But he would pop up like a daisy as soon as we thought he was alseep.  We tried moving him into Laura's room.  But he just kept both of them awake.  Laura was so patient, but so upset!  

After nights of screaming and crying and running into the hall at 3am, we needed a new strategy.  We asked Gavin if he'd like his twin bed back.  He nodded yes.  Did he want it in his room? No.  He wanted to sleep in his bed... In Paul's room.  Would that mean sleep for everyone else??  Fine.

However, we did also decide to put a lock on Gavin's new room's door... A tip I had read and filed away ages ago.  But putting it into practice was much harder emotionally than I thought it would be!  My poor, scared little boy locked into his room??  But our desire to not hold a door closed, sitting in the hall all night won out.

It's been three nights with Gavin in a twin bed locked in the nursery.  He has cried at the door for a few minutes each night, then tucked himself back into bed.  He has woken crying and trying the door each night between 1 and 3, but he ended up sleeping in the bed.  I am glad he's locked in the room during the wee hour wake-ups, as I am terrified he would fall down the stairs in his tantrum.  But it's heartbreaking all the same, knowing he's in his room afraid of something he can't quite verbalize.

On the other hand, he is super cute all snuggled into his big bed! 

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Frozen Fractals all around

Yesterday was officially Frozen Day!!  Which is appropriate, as the nation has been plunged in the winter that just won't end.  Have you seen this image by Honest Toddler?
I about died when I read it.  And then I went online and pre-ordered our copy of Frozen.  

My mom picked the kids up from school last night, along with some drive-thru Chick Fil-A, and I surprised Laura with the precious DVD when she got home.  We all are our treat dinner on the couch while watching the movie.  And I swear, Gavin (who hadn't seen the movie before) was singing along with the songs as much as Laura and I were!  Must be all the times we've listened to the soundtrack on repeat...

It was a really fun night.  But I'm ready for some spring!  C'mon Elsa, thaw that frozen heart - and this frozen landscape!





Friday, March 14, 2014

I case you wanted to hear more

Birth is a funny thing.  I keep remembering snippets and vignettes from our four day stay at the hospital...  Some I can't wait to forget, others I hope to remember.

The first thing I noticed about Paul was his huge nose (which he has already grown into).  But the first thing I said was, "he's so squishy!  His name shall be squishy and he shall be mine!"  And the. Repeated several times to Nate, "make sure we tell my mom how squishy his face is!"  Morphine is a funny thing...

Laura's first impression of Paul, "Gavin was cuter!"

The lactation consultant, "Wow! You have great breasts!  For breast feeding.  I mean, they're very nice... Um..." (I took the compliment!)

Nate banked a diaper into one of two trash cans by the door, just after watching Villanova's win.  I said, "nice shot! Channeling Nova?"  "Well, Nova wouldn't have banked it.  And... I was aiming for the other trash can."  I about died from laughing (which hurt my stitches a lot!)

It is amazing how women have the ability to truly forget pain.  I've had three babies, and never remember what contractions actually feel like... While my memory is till fresh, here's my description:

Contractions feel like a firy sword stabbing through your pelvis.  At least, that's how they felt for me.  Saturday and Sunday I just had the firy sword of pelvis splitting pain.  By Monday, I also had a terrible pulsing, throbbing achy back pain to go with the firy sword.  I never felt a full-stomach squeezing that I'd heard about from other moms... Which was part of why I wasn't sure I was actually in labor!!

And my feelings on c-sections:  stitches sting like crazy, and I don't know what I would do without the full-body "binder" (girdle) they gave me to keep my stomach tight.  And since I actually have three rows of stitches (my uterus is double-stitched so I can - haha! - have a VBAC someday), the worst pain is when I sneeze, cough, or take too deep a breath and feel the interior stitches getting pulled.  I have cried a few times from the pain of a sneeze.  

Gavin also elbowed me very hard in the stomach at his second visit to the hospital.  I screamed, scared Gavin, and terrified Paul who had been eating at the time.  Poor Paul had trouble latching the rest of the day (cue more tears from me) from the fright!

Let's pretend for a hot second that we do try (or accidentally...) for a 4th baby.  I am so glad I'll be able to try for a VBAC.  I'd rather birth triplets vaginally than recover from a c-section again.  In the meantime, I'm getting an IUD in five weeks.  Clearly, I can't be trusted to properly take birth control pills on my own!


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Paul's birth: part two

My view, just after the epidural

I was at the hospital, 5cm dilated.  I wanted an epidural, after so many days of pelvis burning contractions, but I had to get through half a bag of IV drip antibiotics first, as I was GBS+.  I had a great nurse though, and the second I was halfway through the bag, the anesthesiologist was in my room!  I was in a very happy place very quickly after that.

For about an hour.

Then, I watched Nate take a bite of banana and suddenly felt so, so awful.  I needed to throw up.  I hate throwing up, so this was bad.  Nate hurried to call the nurse, who came running with a whole team.  I think they saw my bp and Paul's heart rate plummet on their computers, but I'm not sure.  I do know that Paul's heart rate went from a healthy 130 to a terrifying 70.

I was halfway to the OR before I realized, oh my god, they think I need this baby out NOW!  My doctor met us in the OR and calmly took over.  She asked if we felt ok with waiting on the c-section to see if our vitals could even out with oxygen.  We agreed, and the vitals did indeed get better.  She checked me again and I was dilated to 9cm, so she asked if I'd like to try pushing.

I pushed for 45 exhausting minutes.  The epidural was a little less strong with each push (which was helpful for me), but I was exhausted.  Paul was exhausted.  He wasn't coming down, and he had heart decelerations followed by tachycardia (fast heart) with each push.  My doctor tried to see if pitocin would help move Paul further down, but that didn't work.  I pushed one more time, but to no avail.  Every push, Paul would move a little then bounce right back up.  Plus, there was meconium in my (finally) broken water, and we were all just done.  Nate, the doctor and I agreed to have the c-section.

But remember the failing epidural?  It seems that during all the drama and pushing, the line had become displaced.  So even though the anesthesiologist was pumping in tons of medicine, I could still feel every test pinch on my tummy.  They couldn't re-place the epidural, so I had to have a spinal tap.

Wow, that sucked.  The spinal tap itself was incredibly painful and scary.  Then, the morphine kicked in and was so strong I couldn't even turn my head.  I was hallucinating and rambling and confused... And terrified. 

I remember, throughout the ordeal, wanting to cry but being afraid my crying would hurt Paul's heart rate again.  I asked permission to cry on several occasions (always granted).  Nate was so sweet, holding my hand every time I needed to cry.  Once the morphine kicked in, I was past crying.  Since I wasn't really aware anymore anyway...  

I do remember the NICU team being so incredibly helpful and clear.  Since there was meconium, I might not see Paul right away.  If he cried immediately, they'd show him to me.  If he didn't cry, I wouldn't see him till they had a chance to take care of him.  My expectations, even high on morphine, were realistic thanks to their words.  I remember the doctor saying "okay, the baby is out and he's not crying; he's going with the NICU team now."

I scary minute later, he was crying with healthy gusto and Nate asked me if I could spare his hand to see the baby (permission granted).  They called out his birth weight, and I was astounded!  8 pounds, 15 ounces.  Almost 9 pounds, and 21.75 inches long!  And when I finally saw him, I laughed at Paul's big, silly nose.

It turns out that Paul's umbilical cord was wrapped around his shoulder.  So Paul was basically bungee jumping with each push.  Plus, the cord was squashed with every contraction, causing all the distress. A vaginal delivery would have been incredibly difficult and dangerous for both of us... The c-section was definitely the right move for us.  Not a fun decision, but the right one.
Just after birth... Well, just after he was breathing and all!  (Already so alert!)

I keep thinking of the adage about the month of March: in like a lion, out like a lamb.  Paul's birth was scary and dramatic and not at all what I envisioned.  But he has been such a sweet, alert baby since we got home!  He eats like a champ, and was already 9 pounds 2 ounces at his 5-day check-up!  He loves watching his big brother and sister.  He loves being snuggled in blankies.  Really, the only times he cries are when he has a dirty diaper... or is getting a diaper changed!
A few hours old (with some still skeptical siblings)

We are all so happy he's here.  Laura and Gavin have both been very sweet older siblings.  Gavin needs a few more hugs, Laura needs a few more stories... But I'm happy to give as many hugs and stories as needed!
Baby's 1st selfie, taken today at 8 days old

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Paul's birth story, part one

Laura and me post-showers at almost 39 weeks.

I'm breaking this into two parts, at home and at the hospital.  Here's part one:

I had envisioned Paul's birth following a similar pattern as his big brother and sister.  My water would break and I'd head to the hospital to inevitably be induced.  He'd arrive several hours later, and we'd go home two days later.

We were out and about Saturday, enjoying a rare sunny day.  I was cranky and miserable, but at almost 39 weeks, I thought that was ok.  I had some contractions that afternoon and evening, but they quickly stopped when I laid down.  We had snow in the forecast, so I did actually pull myself together enough for a 9pm trip for groceries!

Sunday was grey and yucky.  My contractions were stronger, though no more trackable than before.  I didn't want to be in labor during the storm, so I spent most of the day laying on the couch.

My 39 week check up was canceled on Monday, so I spent the day, you guessed it, on the couch.  It was snowing and icy and gross.  I was happy to go nowhere.  

I went to the make up appointment Tuesday.  I was 4 cm dilated, up from 3 cm the previous week.  The doctor was confident I wouldn't be pregnant much longer.  I still couldn't track the contractions but they were stronger, more frequent and not eased by laying down.  My mother-in-law insisted on coming that night just in case, and I felt better and better about that as the day progressed.  I did get some work things wrapped up, but I wasn't very happy or comfortable.  We ordered pizza for dinner, as I just couldn't fathom cooking.  

I tried to go to bed around 9, but couldn't sleep.  Around midnight, the strangest thing... Just as I was really starting to debate going to the hospital Gavin woke up crying.  He would cry at the exact moment I had a contraction!  And it's not like I was yelling through them, or even that near his bedroom.  Every contraction.  The strangest thing...

I called the doctor at 1 am; she said I could come in.  In the end, Nate and I didn't want to drive an hour to not be admitted and have to drive an hour home.  Id never been in labor before, remember, so I was really unsure of how to decide when it was "time!"  We decided to try for a little more sleep.  I actually did get two good hours of sleep.  I woke up around 4 to some very strong contractions.  It was time.  I didn't want to sit in rush hour traffic trying to get to my downtown baltimore hospital, so I woke Nate up.  He insisted I take a shower (good man !) while he gathered our final stuff.  The drive to the hospital was awful, but traffic free!  I was admitted immediately, and skipped triage... And asked for that epidural!  I was 5 cm dilated, and hating every contraction.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Can I give up being pregnant for Lent?

Hi.  I'm here.  39 weeks, 1 day pregnant. 4 cm dilated.  The doctor predicted just moments ago that my water will break in the next few days (she could feel a bulging balloon of water, sorry for the TMI?).  She stripped my membranes (more TMI?).  I've been having sporadic contractions since Saturday.  I can't move without a grimace, and have spent most of my time on the couch.  I'm at Chick Fil-A getting lunch, and that's all I have to say about that.

Friday, February 28, 2014

(Almost) Done

Other than wanting to vacuum the entire house two or three times in a row, there's one thing left on my list of "things I must finish before the baby arrives."

I have to finish the blanket Laura is "making" the baby.  I put making in quotes, as she drew the picture, but really I'm making the blankie while she watches...  

I finished the blankie for Laura.  She's not expecting a blankie, but she was so sad to know I'd made blankies for two of her cousins but not for her.  So I pulled out all the stops, designing this special blankie.

And I refinished the blankie I had made for Gavin after he was born, adding a back and some border stitching.  His is much smaller than Laura's or the one for the new baby, but still handmade with love by mommy.

So now I'm down to this:
I now have all but two peacock wings scribbled in with stitching, and need to finish the last band of the rainbow.  I need to trace and stitch Laura's note to her new brother onto the back, then put it all together.  It'll take 3-4 hours of work...

But then?  I'll be done.  D-O-N-E.  DONE!  Done with my must-finish projects.  And beyond "over" being pregnant.  I'm not quite 39 weeks, and I know I should prepare myself for potentially three more weeks of baby growing.  But I can't.  I've gone, almost overnight, from "I'm actually feeling great!" to "OMG one more random contraction with no other action and I might cry."  I'm tired, enormous, in a constant state of Braxton-Hick ball of tight, queasy, short of breath, and starting to swell.  My lips are buzzing from lack of oxygen, and I'm just exhausted.

Come on baby.  I'm ready.



Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Work

I'm over it.  So over it.  I am so not ready to have a newbie at home... But I am so ready to be done with work for a little while.  And also to not be pregnant.  Because here is what 37 weeks looks like:
I'm totally over work.  I'd rather be on the couch snuggling my little buddy.  I'd rather be eating all the cookies.  I'd rather be wallowing in my last few weeks of sluggish, clumsy, pregnant walking.  I'd much rather be napping...

I'd rather be working on special projects. Like this blankie for a special big sister.
And turning this drawing of a peacock with a rainbow into a blankie for a special littlest brother:
Hell, I'd rather be vacuuming and mopping.  Let's be honest.  The nesting urge has kicked in (though has not been activated upon).  

The baby clothes are all washed.  I found my stash of nursing bras and shirts.  I packed my favorite shampoo in my hospital bag.  The infant seat is stowed in the van (not yet installed... Tips on packing three kids in carseats in a minivan??).  Stuff is ready.

And I am so, so ready... To not be working anymore!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

We've just had nearly two feet of snow, and my blizzard preparedness is awarded zero points, and my God have mercy on my soul.  I bought a box of Fruit Loops, a gallon of milk and some raspberry lemonade.  We had plenty of toilet paper, so what else would we need?

Oh, maybe something to eat for dinner??  Oops.

So we made homemade pizzas last night (with yeast that was miraculously still active!), but I have absolutely nothing planned for dinner tonight.  Going out for Mexican sounds so amazing... until I think about how crowded every restaurant will be tonight.  Especially following such a big storm.

I'm at work today (why, I'm not sure... no one else is).  And I should have a chance to stop by the grocery store on my way home.  I can still scrape together some sort of yummy dinner!

In the meantime, my kids are snug at home enjoying the tiny Valentine's gifts I picked up for them.  Plates, forks & spoons, and a book for each of them, plus a cute dress for Laura.  I threw some dollar store stickers on some dollar store doilies as Valentine's for each, and called it a day.

Laura's class Valentine's were made similarly.  Laura adorned the doilies with tons of stickers, and I taped a dollar store heart-decorated pencil to the back of each.

Gavin's were a little more fun, but he wasn't actually involved... Thank you PicMonkey and Photoshop!  I filled some dollar store heart-covered zipper bags with stickers, then stapled the following picture over top (yes, the writing is upside-down on purpose - sticker tags!):
It was a dollar store holiday, for sure!  But seriously, where else can you get hundreds of stickers for so cheap??  Laura and I stayed up late on Tuesday making our Valentine's, and had so much fun chatting about all the kids in her class.  Valentine's Day might be a little silly or forced for some, but I love that it gives my daughter a chance to reflect positively on all her little friends.  She even found something nice to say about the one child likes least of all!

And just to be cute, I made these little Valentine's for our closest family members:

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

I Defy Gravity

I mean seriously!  That's not a beach ball under that shirt... that's a baby.  A baby due in less than four weeks!!  The rest of me looks shockingly normal (minus some weird puffy lips I have, but don't really show in this selfie).  I've only gained around 27 pounds, which is fabulous.  Less than the other two pregnancies (I think), and physically I'm feeling pretty good.  I mean... as good as one can carrying around a 27 pound basketball in her stomach.

I have had lots of little teeny contractions here and there, usually when I'm thirsty, hungry, tired, or in need of a bathroom.  I tend to ignore them, since they don't really mean anything.  The baby's swift jabs to the ribs, bladder and hips are far more annoying!  But I have also had a few REALLY strong, really long contractions too.  My breath was taken away last night by a few really awful contractions that had me leaning against a wall for support and wondering how soon this baby plans to arrive.  Thankfully, I realized that a combination of Mexican and a huge glass of milk (I'm lactose intolerant) were probably making some tiny yawn contractions that much worse.  A few tums and an early bedtime settled things right down.

That said, even the teeny boring contractions are doing something.  I am 2.5 centimeters and 60% effaced.  Last week I was 1 cm and 0% effaced, so things are progressing.  It's my third pregnancy so obviously I probably walk around 1 cm dilated even when I'm not pregnant at this point.  So the progress I made in the last week isn't getting me too excited for anything.  Also, I'm GBS+ again.  Which means I'll have to have four hours of IV antibiotics as soon as I head into L&D before I can get anything really going.

Which, of course, assumes I'll have a similar labor as the other two: my water will break but I'll end up being induced.  I was not GBS+ with Laura, but my water broke so violently and was so very damp and yucky to sit around in, we rushed to L&D immediately.  I was GBS+ with Gavin, so when my water broke (in a far more manageable amount), I didn't have the option to stay home at all.  With both labors, I accepted Pitocin (and the epidural), but still had to have my water RE-broken hours and hours of no progress later.

So this time, assuming my water breaks again, I'll scramble to get someone out to our house in the middle of nowhere to watch the older two, hop in the car for almost an hour to get to our preferred hospital in the city, and beg for the IV of antibiotics as soon as I arrive.  After four hours of nothing, when they ask if they can give me Pitocin, I'll ask if they can instead re-break my water first.  See if that jump starts anything... if it does, maybe I can have a med-free birth!  I labored (with Pitocin) without an epidural with Laura for way too long, so I can know I can do that part.  And I delivered Gavin with an epidural that had worn completely off, so I know I can do that part, too!  Maybe I can do the whole thing?  Or not.  This whole pregnancy has been so completely go-with-the-flow, I'll just let decisions happen as they will.  And hope that when the baby decides to make his appearance, I have a loving grown-up at the ready to snuggle the other two.

See you soon, little guy!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Trials

I had this all typed out and hit "publish" last Tuesday... Apparently it did not, in fact, publish.  So it's a week later and things are fine.  I'm fine.  Cheerier post to come.

Everything has always come so relatively easy for me.  I mean, I work hard... But things also just seem to, sort of, just work out perfectly.  And I know I've been spoiled - incredibly spoiled - by my good luck or karma or the Grace of God. Whatever.  So I had kinda sorta been wondering when the shoe would drop.  When I'd face a trial.

You recall I became surprise pregnant in July.  Days later, I had a new job with a pay raise that would enable me to work from home three days a week, etc.  And that shortly after that, Nate agreed to start looking for a new house... A house which we found very quickly.  A beautiful, wonderful house that I wanted desperately enough to agree to a sort of weird financing situation.

We moved in October, with our old house on the market.  And that's where the trials start.  

The house is still on the market.  We pay two mortgages each month, while keeping the heat as low as possible and our lights turned off.  We have had to pour additional momey into this and that random thing at the old house, while getting used to increased expenses at the new house.

Just before thanksgiving, the upstairs heat went out.  We were a little chilly at night, but we just threw some extra blankets on and waited for the heat to be fixed.  It took three tries.

During the first round of polar vortex, the pipes in the sink froze.  We couldn't find anything burst, so we just waited for the pipes to thaw.  I washed dishes in the bathroom sink and used paper plates as much as possible.

A week or two after the pipes thawed, I realized the dishwasher wasn't actually washing anything... It just sort of ran constantly and never shifted cycles.  I turned it off, washed the dishes by hand, and kept forgetting to call anyone to fix it. Well, I finally made that call only to find that the dishwasher had also frozen and had cracked.  It's currently laying in severed pieces in the garage, while we wait for the floor to dry before installing a new dishwasher.  

And just yesterday, a neighbor came frantically into the house to let us know the garage was on fire.  She had 911 on the line and grabbed my barefoot kids to take to her house.  Nate ran barefoot into the driveway to start throwing snow onto the fire, and was joined by several neighbors with extinguishers.  I joined the kids, and watched as our street filled with fire trucks.  

Thank god, it was a trash can fire, outside the garage.  The corner of the garage needs some reframing and all new siding... But there was no structural damage.  The fire was contained before it got to the roof.  None of the electrical caught.  No one was hurt (though Nate's feet were fairly cold). 

We are so, so lucky.

But at the same time, I am so, so upset.  I'm 35 weeks pregnant, tired, shaken, sore and crampy.  I have been praying since August for our home and family.  I hadn't really ever done that before.  But here I am. Praying and hoping and begging.  Bad news comes in threes?  Please let the fire be our third.  Please.  

I have been tried.  And I just don't know what else could go wrong.  I am just waiting for the next bad thing.