Monday, July 30, 2007

DC part deux

The voters have spoken.

I feel like my entire house is packed. It's like we've moved. I finally located the cable for the camera, though, so this edition of My Life will be illustrated!

When I had recovered from the zoo, and BJ had returned from his conference, it was time to meet Andrew for dinner. Andrew works for the State Department. He could tell us what he does, but then he'd have to kill us. We had a great time at the Old Ebbitt Grill, which is apparently where important people like Andrew go for hamburgers. I made the mistake of ordering pasta. I've noticed something about pasta... Its quality is inversely proportional to its cost. In other words, the more expensive it is, the more it tastes like Chef Boyardee. Oh well. The hummus appetizer was really good, and the company was outstanding, so I didn't care.

Andrew walked back to our hotel with us, and we stopped along the way to get ice cream. MG was absolutely terrible. She was overtired and sick to death of being out of her routine, but she fell asleep in the stroller, so I couldn't get too mad. There was some excitement outside of our hotel. Apparently a homeless person had been harassing a woman, so the doorman called the police. They were racing around, up and down the street looking for him. An ambulance and a fire truck were also there, but I'm not sure why. No one was hurt or on fire. Anyway, it was exciting. We stood outside and watched the action, long enough to figure out what was going on. I wasn't going to go upstairs if the hotel was on fire, right?

When we finally made it to our room, we basically passed out from exhaustion and slept late the next day. Since we still had soles on our shoes, we decided to walk some more. We took the metro to Capital South, and then walked from there, past the Capital (singing "I'm just a bill, yes I'm only a bill...") and understanding why they call it Capital HILL.

I tried to get MG to take a nap on the lawn, but she was having none of it. We ate lunch at the cafeteria at the House Office Building, which was fun. More baby kissers. Then we walked to the Air and Space Museum. BJ was like a kid in a candy store. It was very cool to see MG getting excited over the stuff that BJ gets excited over. They are two peas in a pod.

MG got pretty fussy after about half of the A&S Museum, so I took the girls to McDonald's and let BJ finish looking at all the stuff. Turns out that we started on the wrong side - we started with Air, and should've started with Space. Oops. While we were wandering around waiting for him, a huge storm blew up and threatened to send us straight to Kansas.

Well, this was supposed to be posted yesterday, but it took a million years to get both the kids to sleep, and it didn't happen. Sorry.

Where was I? Oh, so the storm blew up and we managed to get back to the metro station before we got completely soaked. And all these jerks who could totally have walked the extra 50 feet to the escalator were crowding into the elevator that we legitimately needed (because of the stroller) and I had to bite my tongue... But anyway...

As I was standing there waiting to buy our Metro tickets, Bill and Sharon called to change our meeting place because of the storm - their timing couldn't have been better! So we went the other way, and ended up at Red Hot and Blues which was a lot of fun. We were able to take our time catching up, as MG fell asleep in the stroller (small wonder, she skipped her nap entirely).

We collapsed, again, when we got back to the hotel. All of this recreation is exhausting.

On Saturday we had breakfast with my cousin Brian. We tried not to take up his whole day, because who wants to hang out with their old cousin and her smelly kids when there is a whole world of summer college fun waiting? He was very gracious about spending a few hours of his Saturday with us old farts, though, and it was really nice to catch up with him and hear some of his stories about college.

After breakfast, BJ and the girls and I got the car and headed down to the other half of the Mall, where the WWII memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, and the Washington Monument are. We parked in that area (since we'd checked out of the hotel by this time), and wandered. Sweet Lord it was hot. I am not even joking when I say that I bought a pair of pants when we got back that was a size smaller than usual, because I lost so much water weight from sweating. It was just ridiculous. We saw a lot of stuff, and then hopped on a bus and rode over to Arlington National Cemetery (I know we know of someone who is buried there - help me remember who. I think it's someone's dad, but heck if I can remember whose dad it is!)

We toured Arlington on the bus, then came back over to D.C. and rode the bus a few more stops before realizing that we were going to get stuck if we rode any farther from our car, as they were closing at 5 pm and throwing everyone off the bus wherever they happened to be. So, we got off of the bus (which sucked, because the tour guide on that one was really good) and walked back to our car. Then we drove to the National Cathedral, just in time for it to close. We'll have to keep that on the list for next time.

After leaving the National Cathedral, we hit the road and drove straight through to home. Ugh. We left at 5 pm and got home at 6 am. BJ and I took turns sleeping, so we wouldn't have to stop. It was a long haul, but we made it.

Now we're recovering. I should probably go get dressed and do something productive today. Poor BJ is coming down with a cold. And MG has figured out how to open all doors, so I need to go get some babyproofing gear. Either that, or a bit of electric fence. That would work.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

A Very O'Hell Vacation

My Dad and "Bonus Mom" have a strong family tradition of having National Lampoon style vacations. Apparently this tradition goes back generations in my Dad's family. When my forefathers and mothers got off of the boat from Ireland, they took a look around Ellis Island, and my great-great-great-grandmother said to my great-great-great-grandfather, "Oh hell, I think I left the oven on in Dublin!"

For the sake of anonymity, this family will heretofore be referred to as the O'Hell family. Not to be confused with my mother's people, the McLates. That's another post.

We had a very O'Hell vacation.

It all started on Tuesday afternoon. I returned from visiting little Cameron and his parents, and when I arrived at the house, both kids were asleep. We were mostly packed, so I told BJ we should "git while the gittin's good" and hit the road. We threw the rest of the stuff in the car and hit the road. Claire didn't love this plan, though. She started crying before we left the driveway. "Shirley she'll go back to sleep when we get on the interstate!" we thought. That Shirley O'Hell gets us in trouble every single time. She didn't. We ended up having to stop before we even got to the Big City in the Middle. It did not bode well.

We persevered. Around 10 pm our friend Ben, who was housesitting for us, called and said that he was locked out of our house. We had locked the screen door to keep MG in, and had failed to unlock it in our haste to get on the road. The key he had fit the door behind the locked screen door. Nuts. So, we helped him break into our house. It's probably not a good idea for me to go into details on the 'net, but it was a process. It is a comfort to know that our house isn't easy to break into.

Once Ben got inside, he found that there was water on the floor in the hall. Apparently Culligan had capped something off incorrectly when they removed our expensive water softener by the month thingie, and it leaked under the wall and into the hall. Culligan came out at 11 pm to fix it. It was a long night for Ben, and this whole time we were on the road in the next state over thinking, "Should we go back??"

We drove until it wasn't safe to drive anymore, and made it to Pennsylvania, where we gave up and stopped for the night. We slept as fast as we could, and went to McDonald's the next morning for breakfast. There was a Playplace, and we thought it would be a good idea for MG to run off a little steam before we put her back in the car for 3 or 4 hours. Unfortunately, we let her drink her chocolate milk first and then play, and she yakked all over herself, the play place, and her Daddy.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that BJ had spilled his coffee, too, on the way to the table, so it was a two mop visit to Mickey Dee's. BJ said, "Let's get out of here before they run us out of town on a rail!"

Things started to settle down as we got closer to D.C. Thanks to the GPS, we made it to our hotel without incident. Our hotel was, in a word, funky.

D.C. is weird. The license plates say "Taxation without Representation." You'll be in a really nice neighborhood, and then you'll turn a corner and you're in a really not nice neighborhood. And, for a city where a lot of tourists go, they're really unused to seeing babies. Especially pretty babies like mine. Ha ha... We were fawned all over, mostly by 20-something women who appeared to be reluctantly putting their careers ahead of any plans for a family (judging by the power suits, the lack of wedding rings, and the over-enthusiasm for people in diapers that I observed).

When we got there, BJ went down to the conference to register, and the girls and I got settled in the hotel and took a nap. He returned, and we went off in search of dinner. We ended up at McCormick and Schmick's, which was extremely good. It kind of made Red Lobster look like Long John Silver's. I had the stuffed salmon (Oh. My. God.) and BJ had the Crab Étouffée. Even better than the food, though, was our waitress Jamie. She made us feel like guests in her home, and I told her so. It was a fantastic meal.

After dinner, we walked down to the White House, around the Old Executive Office Building, around the front of the White House, and up past the Treasury Building. Some guy was talking to the security guard (apparently he didn't know the difference between "tour guide" and "security guard"). He asked the guard, "Where does the president spend most of his time?" and I called, "Texas!" over my shoulder, but that was the closest I got to any sort of political statement. This is pretty good, considering my normal outspokenness and my politics.

Moving right along... The following day, Thursday, was BJ's conference, so he got up early and went to Arlington, while the girls and I headed to the National Zoo.

The zoo kicked my ass.

It's beautiful, and it's free which is just incredible. It's part of the Smithsonian (and I never knew what a national treasure the Smithsonian was until I saw all the museums, the zoo, etc. Wow. I could spend years there, trying to take it all in. Just incredible...). The zoo goes gradually downhill, though, so by the time you're good and tired, you've got to walk all the way back up again. And that's just about the right time for MG to decide that she's hungry, so I hauled ass up the hill, pushing MG and carrying Claire in the sling. It was about 100 degrees and SO humid. I thought I was going to die. At one point, a woman offered to help by pushing the stroller, but I said, "No thanks, it's the only thing holding me up right now."

I'm pretty sure I got heat exhaustion. I was sweating buckets. It was just gross. And the water in our hotel didn't get as cold as you'd hope when you're dying of heat exhaustion, which prevented me from taking a really cold shower when we got back. Looking back, that's probably good, because I would've probably cooled myself off too quickly and gotten sick. As it was, I just had a headache and was nauseated, but it went away once I got cool.

Now you're thinking, "Well, Shirley (there she is again!) she learned her lesson that day and didn't overdo it on Friday or Saturday!"

Yeah, right.

I'm going to have to do this in installments, though, because I've been writing this all day and I'm tired. I'll find the cord for the camera, too, so I can include pictures with the next installment.

For now, we're home safe and sound. I'm sure it will take me 6 months to get the girls back into our normal routine!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Headin' up, movin' out

Alright, I get it. Audience participation is not your thing. Fine. No more of that foolishness. Although I'm still hoping for a comment from Gayle-Aunt about when Grandma delivered Alex...

Anyway, we're getting ready to leave, so I'll be quiet today. Wish us luck with the drive!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Memories Monday

Today we're going to have a carnival! Share your birth stories with the rest of the class... (Scroll down for mine). To add your story, put in your name and the permalink to the post on your blog in this Mister Linky. Feel free to steal the graphic, too. If you don't have a blog, just leave a comment, instead.

Thank you for playing!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Monday Memories: Claire's Birth Story

Dear Claire,

Well, it took me a little longer to get this down in writing than your sister's did, but that's what happens when you have two babies instead of one! You are already four months old - where does the time go? I'd better write down your birth story before I lose the details!

During the last month of my pregnancy I was diagnosed with Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy - which, roughly translated, means that my liver was broken and I itched a lot. This condition can cause some pretty serious complications, so Dr. Sinnott, your Dad, and I agreed to induce labor if you weren't born before March 21. On March 13, though, I had a headache that didn't go away, in spite of the fact that I had taken Tylenol. I remembered this from when I was pregnant with your sister, so I called the doctor's office and made an appointment to get a non-stress test and a blood pressure check that day. Meanwhile, since it was the first really nice day of the year, we played outside with your sister and did some yard work. I honestly didn't think it was a very big deal.

When I got to the doctor's office, the nurse, Linda, checked my blood pressure and it was 168/100. That is extremely high. She had me lie down on my left side on the exam table (not easy when you're 8 months pregnant!!) and went to call the doctor, who was not in the office that day. When she came back, her eyes were as big as grapefruits and she said, "He wants you to meet him at the hospital!" My mouth gaped open and shut like a goldfish for a minute, and then I burst into tears.

I was really afraid of being induced. While I was pregnant with your sister, I read a bunch of books that scared the socks off of me. Not only that, but your Grandma Denna was still on vacation in Spain, and I had really wanted her to be there for your birth. I called your Dad, who started to make arrangements for your sister, and then I called Grandma in Spain and cried a whole lot. She cried too. We were an international mess.

It turns out that I actually spent more time crying over being induced than I spent in labor, but we'll get to that...

So, I got home, and your Dad had arranged for our good friend Karen to come over to sit with Mary Grace until Grandma Diana could get to our house. We got everything ready. After the rush to get to the hospital when MG was born, it was weird to have enough time to remember things. What's ironic is that I had spent a large part of my pregnancy with you worrying that I would have you in the middle of the kitchen floor, because I had been in labor such a short time with your sister. I guess it's time for me to stop worrying - it seems that I always worry about the wrong things.

After I dragged my feet, hoping that I would go into natural labor, as long as I thought I could, we drove to the hospital. We checked in and were admitted to a labor and delivery room. The nurse was really nice. We filled out a ton of paperwork, and then we waited... and waited... and waited...

The doctor finally arrived at 6 to put in the Cytotec, which was the drug that he used to start my labor. Normally I would've been freaking out and asking him a thousand questions, but by that time I had resigned myself to the fact that we were going ahead with this, and I didn't really have a choice, so when your Dad started asking questions I said, "Let's just do this." I was so eager to meet you, but I was so frightened that you would have complications from being born 4 weeks early, or that I would have complications from being induced. Anyway, by that point I was over it, and if we were going to do it, I wanted to get the show on the road.

I had little, "cute" contractions with the Cytotec. It wasn't anything more than a menstrual cramp. I don't even count those first four hours as "labor" because it wasn't hard work. I would say things like, "I think that might have been a contraction." That's not labor. When you're in labor, you know! Or at least, I do, anyway.

So, we hung out for four hours. Your Grandpa Bob, Grandma Susan, and Aunt Megan came to the hospital. They helped me laugh and relax and not worry about things so much. Grandpa Bob and I went for a walk. Grandma Susan bought dinner for your Dad. We just hung out, really, talking and laughing and telling stories. I worried about you. I worried about your sister. I worried about me. I tried not to let any of it show. Having Megan and Grandpa and Grandma there helped, not only because they distracted me, but because I felt like I had to be brave for them.

The nice thing about being induced was that I knew that these were the last few times I was going to feel you moving inside me, so I got to cherish those memories. When your sister was born, I felt lonely in my own skin for a long time, until I felt you move. It was hard, after getting used to those little "hellos," to get used to not feeling them anymore. I enjoyed those little kicks, even pushing on my belly to make you wiggle, so that I could feel them one more time before you were born. When you give me grandbabies, you'll understand how special that feeling is.

I was beginning to think that the Cytotec wasn't working, when the doctor came back (at 10 pm) to break my water. When we started, I was at 3 cm, and the Cytotec had only helped me to dilate one more centimeter to 4. He said that was enough, though, and he broke my water. I didn't look at the instrument that he used or anything, I was too scared.

Immediately after he broke the waters I felt this huge rush of hormones that caused me to cry and shake and get really, really scared. It didn't help that I also had a huge contraction. It felt like about 3 hours of normal labor happened to me in about 3 seconds. The doctor told me that this was normal, and that I would be okay, and went to lie down. The nurses told me that they needed to monitor you for an hour before I could walk around, so I had to lie in the bed and try to keep the monitors on you (you kept moving around and we'd lose your heartbeat, which was terrifying, even though I knew what it was).

My memory gets pretty fuzzy after that. I know that Grandpa and Grandma and Megan were still there, but they kind of hung back. I really only remember your Dad's face. He was so wonderful and encouraging. I kept saying, "I want to go home!" and "I can't do this!" (that's how I do transition, I guess). He was like a rock, and I don't know how anyone has a baby without him there, because I know that I wouldn't want to!

After about 45 minutes I started to feel like I needed to push. I remembered from the first time that pushing felt really good, so I wanted that part to start right away, because my contractions were sharp and extremely painful. The nurse checked me and said that I was at 8 cm. I didn't believe her, I felt like I was at least at 13. I told Megan to go get the doctor for me, because it was time to PUSH! She didn't know what to do, so she just stayed put. I had the nurse check me again, a short time later, and I was at 10. Your Dad says that it was 15 minutes later, or so. It felt like 15 seconds to me. I had no concept of time. Everything was moving so quickly. The contractions took all of my attention. I would feel one start and I would say, "Here comes another!" and your wonderful Daddy would remind me to breathe, and he'd look into my eyes, and he'd hold my hand until I made it through. He was just incredible. If this rocket science business doesn't work out, we're going to rent him out as a labor coach.

Finally the nurse checked me and I was at 10. I wanted to push so badly, but they kept telling me to wait for the doctor. That's like trying to hold back a tsunami. When you have your babies, and you want to push, go ahead and push, don't listen to them... Anyway, I really tried not to push, but I had to, so I had two little pushes while we were waiting for the doctor.

Your dad and I didn't notice, but all three of our witnesses (who stayed for the whole thing, it happened so fast!) said that the lights and sirens on the labor ward came on at that time. Apparently I was going a little too fast, so they turned on the "uh oh" lights. That meant that everyone in scrubs in a 10 mile radius was suddenly in my room. I remember looking up and thinking, "There weren't this many people when I had Mary Grace!" But then I remembered that you were 4 weeks early, and I thought, "Well, maybe it's the NICU team, just in case there's a problem..." and I decided not to worry about it. Meanwhile, the doctor was running to my room. When he got there, he barely had time to get his gown on and sit down before I pushed you out into the world. I remember thinking, "Geez, I hope he doesn't spike her and yell, 'Touchdown!'"

When they laid you on my chest, I said, "She's purple and covered with mayonnaise!" You were the strangest color I'd ever seen - there has to be a picture of it somewhere (Grandpa Bob took a few pictures that were confiscated, but that's another story! Good thing he's a nurse and he's used to that sort of thing, or we'd both still be in therapy! :) ). The nurse rubbed you really hard with a towel, until you were a more normal color.

Thank God, you didn't have any problems that are normally associated with premature babies - your lungs were fully developed and everything. You were 7 lb. 3 oz (I only have one mold) and 18.5 inches long. You were born at 11:09 pm, so I was only in real labor for one hour and nine minutes! WOW! Talk about a rocket powered baby!

You are just the sweetest little baby in the world. You're so good, and you love to cuddle. I love being a mother of two. It's a lot easier the second time around - you are benefiting from all the things I learned the first time around.

I love you so much!


Monday Memories: MG's Birth Story

I wrote this when MG was 6 days old:

Dear Mary Grace,

On Tuesday, August 9, 2005 your dad and I decided to go out for dinner, to "blow the stink off of me" as your great-great-grandma Shank would've said, in spite of the bedrest. I was just sick to death of being in the house. We went to Scotty's and had a huge meal, both of us had cheeseburgers and fries, and milkshakes. We talked about being parents, and how weird it was that we could have you and still be home from the hospital by the weekend (which we were!). I told your Dad that I really felt ready to be a mother, and that I wasn't really scared anymore, just excited. We also decided on what we'd name you if you were a girl (which I have been sure all along that you were), but we still didn't have a boy's name picked out. We had talked about Alexander a lot, William, and Harrison (but we don't love the nickname "Harry"), and Calvin, and a few other names, but none "felt" right.

We went straight home after dinner, and we watched the movie "The Abyss." It finished around midnight, and I fell asleep on the couch. Your Dad was working because he had a big meeting the next day. I woke up around 2 am, and we dragged our feet getting upstairs and ready for bed. I brushed my teeth and washed my face, and laid down in bed. It wasn't long before I felt a really big contraction at 2:36. It sort of felt like a menstrual cramp, only a lot stronger. I went in the bathroom and discovered that I had passed some of the mucus plug, or "show," and I came out to tell your Dad, "I don't think we'll be getting much sleep tonight!"

The first few contractions were no big deal. Your Dad made an Excel spreadsheet to time them - a very engineer thing to do! He was wonderful about helping me stay comfortable, and encouraging me, and generally being very supportive. He rubbed my back for a while, and my feet. He slow danced with me and rubbed my lower back, too, which really helped.

I was really surprised at how hard the contractions were. I figured that I was in the early phase of labor - Stage 1. In the video, the couple went out for lunch and fed the ducks in the park during Stage 1! It was supposed to last for 8 - 12 hours. I was feeling like a wimp, really, because the "easy" part was so hard for me. I thought it might help to get in a bath, so around 4 am I got in the bathtub. That REALLY helped relax me, and made it a lot easier to deal with the contractions. Unfortunately, the water got cold pretty quickly, so I had to get out or freeze. It was a bit of a challenge to get out of the tub, and the instant I did, the contractions started coming fast and furious. I thought I was still in Stage 1, so I was stunned at how much they hurt!

I sort of felt like there were two of me the whole time, there was the physical me that was doing and saying things, and then there was my internal voice that was sort of narrating the whole experience. My physical self, at this point, was screaming, "GO TO THE HOSPITAL!" but my inner voice was saying, "They're just going to send you home. You're still in early labor. Suck it up!" Finally, around 5 am I told your Dad that it was time to go to the hospital. I told him that the contractions were too fast for me to get on top of, and that I was scared. He asked if I was sure, and I said I was, so he started getting everything ready for us to go. He got my hospital bag that I had packed in advance, and he got the cord blood collection kit, and started to get the car seat together. I called your Grandma Denna (I said, "This is not a drill!") at about 5 am. I also sent an e-mail to your Peanut list saying, "Ready or not, here I come!" I went to the bathroom one more time, and sat down at the top of the stairs because he had asked me not to try to go down them by myself. When I sat down, I could feel your head starting to crown. I told your Dad, and he stepped up his preparations. Finally we managed to get the essentials (although we forgot both cameras, and several other things), and to get out the door. I had a contraction on the porch, which the neighbors must have been thrilled about at 5:15 am. I had 4 more in the 8 minutes that it took us to get from home to the hospital. I cussed a lot on the way there, and tried to talk your Dad into running stoplights. He refused, of course. Looking back, I realize that this was Stage 2, or transition, which is supposed to be the hardest part of labor. At the time, though, I still thought I was in the easy "early labor." Looking back, I don't think I got any of the easy labor!

We got to the hospital, and I had a contraction as soon as I got out of the car. There was a nurse reporting for work at the same time that we got there, and she was kind enough to get me a wheelchair. She said to the lady in admitting, "She's in active labor, we need to get her admitted right away!" and the admitting lady said, "I'm with a patient!" in this really crummy voice. My internal narrator said, "You're going to be with THREE patients in a minute if you don't hustle, lady!" but I think I just groaned. Luckily there was another person working in admitting, and she got us checked in and taken upstairs to Labor and Delivery.

I still thought I was in the "easy" part, so I was telling your Dad on the way upstairs that I wanted an epidural. I told him that I had been stupid to ever want natural childbirth. I think he got pretty worried at that point, because I had told him all along not to let me take anything. I think he worried that he was damned if he did, damned if he didn't, as they say.

We got up to the room, which we had been in the Sunday before when we got my blood pressure checked out, strangely enough. The nurse gave me a gown and told me to change in the bathroom, and to go pee into this teensy tiny cup, which I thought was a cruel joke! I dropped my clothes in the middle of the floor, and there they stayed.

The nurse checked me to see how far along we were. She asked me when my water had broken, and I said that it hadn't. Unfortunately, this didn't match what she was feeling, and she kept checking for a long time. Of course, another contraction started, and that part really hurt. I was yelling a lot, begging her to stop, and in the back of my mind the "narrator" was thinking, "If I don't shut up, BJ's going to deck her and get himself kicked out of the hospital... I need to get a hold of myself!" but I just couldn't. Finally, just when I started hoping that he WOULD deck her, she stopped. She said, "You're ready to push!" and my narrator said, "That's a mean joke to play on someone who's in early labor..." I didn't believe that I had gotten to 10 centimeters in only 3 hours! I said, "Really?" and she said, "Yep, you're at 10 and there's just a little more cervix. It's time." So, she told me to hold back my legs and to bear down, and I did and it felt SO good. What a relief to do something productive, after just relaxing through all that pain (or trying to, anyway).

I was hopeful that your Grandma Denna would make it, but I was a little more worried about the doctor. We hadn't called him on the way, in our hurry. So I was thrilled when he walked in. He had been delivering another baby, and just happened to be there. I even managed to joke that we had forgotten to stop at Starbucks and get him a coffee (we had teased about this at previous appointments). I should mention, again, at this point that the whole time your Dad was fabulous. He was so encouraging and so strong. I know now that he was scared, too, but I never would've known it at the time. He was just incredible. I told him later that if I had written him a script, I couldn't have gotten it better than he did all by himself. I would have done it without him if I had to, because I didn't get much choice in the matter, but I can't imagine how terrified and lonely and uncomfortable I would've been. Your Dad went to Florida a couple of weeks ago to see the shuttle launch. We figured that if I went into labor, he'd be able to get back in time. Little did we know... and I'm so glad that it didn't work out that way. I wouldn't have wanted to be alone.

Anyway, back to the action, I was pushing and pushing at this point, about three times for each contraction. Someone had gotten me a wet washcloth for my head, and that was wonderful. Things got really painful when your head came through my cervix, and I got discouraged. Then I heard your Dad say, in a very emotional voice, "Oh, I can see her head, Honey, I can see her hair!" and that was so encouraging. I pushed harder after that. I remember asking the nurse, "How many more?" and she said, "Two or three." I said, "Pushes or contractions?" and she replied "Contractions." I was working SO hard. The room was really cold, but I was sweating buckets. I remember looking up at the mirror and thinking, "There is NO way that this baby is coming out of me, they're going to have to get a knife..." I just couldn't believe what was about to happen. Finally, finally, after 15 minutes at 6:14 am, you were born. I remember the sensation of your head coming out, but I don't remember what it felt like to push the rest of you out, it happened so fast. We've been joking that it was fast because you're rocket powered. Dad calls you his little bottle rocket, because of the squeaky noises that you make.

Dr. Sinnott said, "It's a girl!" He put you on my stomach and you were all legs and arms. I couldn't really focus my eyes on you, probably from fatigue. They only left you there about a minute before they took you over to the other side of the room to clean you up. The nurse stamped your feet onto your birth certificate, and put a stamp on your Dad's hand, too. It stayed there for a couple days, which was cute.

You weighed 7 pounds, 3 ounces, and were 19.25 inches long. Your head had been engaged in my pelvis for so long (about a month) that it caused a hemotoma, basically a big goose egg. This is causing jaundice, as your body breaks it down, but it's starting to go away. You had stork bites on the back of your neck. Otherwise, you were perfect. You had really long fingers and toes. We still haven't decided who you look like.

The doctor said that you had your hand up next to your neck, with your fingers on your chin, which caused me to tear a little. While they were cleaning you up, the doctor was cleaning me up. I delivered your placenta (placentas are really gross looking!) a few minutes after they finished putting in the stitches (only 3 or 4). Your Dad stayed with you while they cleaned you up, then they brought you back to me to try to breastfeed and to "bond" for a while. Your Dad decided to go park the car, which was still parked outside the emergency room door. While he was down there, your Grandma Denna arrived. She was pretty disappointed to have missed your birth, but was really excited that I had only been in labor for about three and a half hours, and I had only pushed for 15 minutes. That's twice as fast as I was born.

(There was more here about her first week of life, but I took it out, because we're talking about birth, here...)

I love you, Peanut.


The Luckiest

This song makes me cry.

SeeqPod Music beta - Playable Search

(How's that for a cool new feature? See, I'm all about bringing you the latest technology. This isn't just a brag blog, it's a service!)

Friday, July 20, 2007

You have to kiss a lot of frogs

Posted by Picasa

Awwww... She's sharing!

Posted by Picasa


This is about the funniest video I've ever seen. Gotta love the Onion.

What's even funnier is that BJ saw me watching it, and thought that something was really wrong in the world. "What's going on? What's wrong?" he said. I just chuckled and restarted it.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Study In Opposites

The procedure for getting MG to sleep tonight:

Change her clothes; get into our bed with her; nurse her until I can't stand it any more; sing her "Claire's song" x 3; tell her that I'm not singing any more it's time for her to go to sleep; lay there while she rolls herself up in the blanket, decides that one thread is out of place, and has to re-roll herself all over again a thousand times; rub her back for 45 minutes and listen to her say, "Rubbin' my back. Daddy likes it," because I told her once 3 months ago that Daddy likes it when Mommy rubs his back before he goes to sleep, too; tell her that I'm not nursing her again, that we already nursed, that she's really getting too big for this foolishness and if she doesn't knock it off I'm going to put her in her room all by herself and go downstairs x 492,872; hold my breath for 5 minutes when it seems that she might have finally fallen asleep (about 45 minutes into this whole procedure); sneak out of bed because I hear Claire crying downstairs; swear under breath when MG wakes up; yell at her that this is insane and that she can sleep in her bed or my bed but she is NOT going downstairs and I am NOT going to nurse her anymore and she is NOT getting chocolate milk and I am NOT happy. Daddy takes over while Mommy initiates Claire procedure (see below). Daddy rubs her back and lets her roll herself up another 13 times and tells her a story and holds his breath and she finally goes to sleep after another 20 minutes of this foolishness.

The procedure for getting Claire to sleep tonight:

Nurse her for about 5 minutes; move her into the bassinet; knock a book off of the dresser and wake her up; swear; (fortunately Mommy didn't have to jump off of the roof because MG, miraculously, stayed asleep); pat and shush for a minute, realize that that isn't working, pick her up. Decide that we ought to have at least one kid who goes to bed correctly and put Claire in the crib, turn on the fishy mobile thing with lights and music, and stand there and watch Claire fall asleep all on her own.

The procedure for getting Mommy to sleep tonight:


I'm going to host a "Memories Monday" blog carnival on Monday. If you have a blog, you write about the topic, then you come back here and permalink to your blog in the space provided. It's just like "Works for Me Wednesday." Let me know if you have any questions.

The topic for our first Carnival is going to be "Birth Stories." I'm sure it's been done, but I haven't done it, so we're doing it. You have the next few days to prepare, and then we'll have the carnival on Monday. All I ask is that you link back to my blog in your post. It's fun if we all use the same picture, too, but you don't have to.

Look here for more info about Blog Carnivals.

If you don't have a blog, you can still participate. Just leave a comment on the Carnival post on Monday.

Here We Go Again!

First of all, here's the picture that should have accompanied yesterday's post about Time Out:

She got that one for spitting half-chewed string cheese out all over the place. Ugh. However, she did it without screaming, and even said, "I made a big mess. I'm sorry," as she sat down. WOW! She really does "get it." I mean, how many not-even-two year olds apologize??? Seriously.

True confessions time - the only career I've ever thought, "Wow, I would really enjoy that!" about is being an advice columnist. I want to be Dear Amy. Wouldn't that be a hoot? The thing is, do I have to wait until my kids are grown and they've turned out ok before I can be an "expert," or can I just call myself one now, and when my kids both end up in prison, you can all point and laugh and be glad that you never listened to me to begin with?

So, speaking of not listening to me, BJ and I have lost our minds again and are taking a road trip to Washington DC next week with both kids. It's about a 10 hour drive from here. I feel confident in telling you this because Max is staying home, and we'll have a house sitter here to take care of her, so it's not like any thieves are going to say, "Woo hoo! Now's our chance!!" We're taking all the cool stuff with us, anyway...

BJ has a conference out there, so we're allowing about 30 hours to get there, just in case. We're planning to leave after dinner on Tuesday and drive most of the night (all night, if we can, after all, we're used to not sleeping, anyway!). Then we're planning on visiting some friends and seeing some sights, as long as we're out there, before we come home.

The longest road trip we've ever taken with MG was about 2-1/2 hours. That was during the day. Hopefully between Nosrus Tap and a couple of Charlie and Lolas on DVD, and the fact that it's night time and she should be sleeping, anyway, we'll manage. It's funny, I'm not worried at all about Claire. Now watch, Mary Grace will be an angel, and we'll wonder who replaced Our Claire with a Screaming Mimi.

If I'm uncharacteristically quiet over the next few days, you'll now know why. I'm either getting ready for the trip, or I'm gone.

The other big news (now that she's had a chance to tell everyone herself):

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

WFMW - How to do Time Outs Correctly

There is a lot of confusion in the world about Time Out. What it is, how to do it, and how to make it work. I am here to help demystify the time out.

Here are my qualifications - I've got an almost-two year old, I worked for two years in a residential facility for kids with Mental Retardation and Behavioral Disorders (the toughest behavior cases out there) and lived to tell about it, and I went to school to be a Special Ed teacher (and took Applied Behavioral Analysis and other courses to learn how to deal with kids).

The most common misconception I read/see/hear is that a time out is for punishment. It is not. The time out serves two purposes. 1) It removes the misbehaving child from whatever stimulus or situation is causing the misbehavior (so, if little Sally is hitting little Johnny, it removes Sally from Johnny's presence, which interrupts the hitting behavior). 2) It reestablishes parental authority (in other words, it reminds the child who is in charge).

I think a lot of people think that the time out is a punishment because it has been touted as an alternative to spanking (which is a punishment). However, if you use Time Out incorrectly, as a punishment, you're defeating the actual purpose of the time out and making your job, as parent, much harder.

The recommended guideline for the duration of a time out is one minute for every year of age. So, a two year old gets a two minute time out. (I recently saw a time out bear, which I refuse to link to because it's a bad idea, but it had a timer that went up to 60 minutes, and I kept wondering if there were parents out there giving their kids' grandparents time outs, too... Then I thought it might not be a bad idea. You hear that Dad? I'm coming for you with the time out bear if you don't behave yourself... Nevermind that you're 56 years old. The timer will work for you for 4 more years!!)

Anyway, we started with time outs for MG when she was one. This also happened to be when she started needing them. We reserve time outs for egregious behavior - in the beginning it was only for things that could hurt her or someone else (i.e., tormenting the dog, jumping on the couch, biting, etc.). Now we've started to use it for property destruction infractions, too, but I'll get to that.

This is how it should work:

Child is misbehaving. Parent says, "Child, if you do not stop doing X, you're going to get a time out." Child continues to misbehave. Parent says, "I'm sorry you're choosing to do X, you need to come take a time out."

You then remove the child to the time out area. We started with the crib, but now we do them at the bottom of the stairs (on the lowest step or on the rug in front of the stairs - and you all just thought I was weird for having a bath mat at the bottom of the stairs!!). I don't believe in having a single place (like a "Naughty Chair") to take time outs. First, because if you say, "You will sit THERE" you get into a power struggle. If you say, "You can take your time out here or there," you're still allowing the child choices, and you're less likely to get into a senseless power struggle. Second, because if the child is used to a single chair, what do you do when you go out? Take it with you? Stairs and rugs are common enough, though, that you can find them virtually anywhere, and having multiple locations makes it easier for the child to generalize when you're at Grandma's, say, and you have to do time out on a chair instead of a step.

Assuming that the child goes willingly (I'll get to unwilling children in a second), you start a timer and say, "Good job. You've got two more minutes." If the child wants to scream and cry and freak out, that's ok. In addition to removing them from the situation that causes the misbehavior, allowing them to scream and holler allows them to release some of the frustration/tension that the situation has caused. This is healthy. The place where I worked required the children to be "calm and compliant" before the time out countdown started, but I think that's crazy. I don't care if MG cries the whole two minutes, as long as she is on the step or the rug.

Anyway, you sit there for the two minutes with them, giving comfort with your presence but not talking to them (except to maybe remind them to stay in the time out area, or say, "It's ok," or "You're doing fine," or "Calm down," occasionally). This is not the time to have a discussion about what happened. Just give them that two minutes to get control of themselves. Be encouraging and supportive, but not too much. A word or two here or there is all you need. A lot of parents talk too much, in general. That's another post...

When the timer beeps, get down on the child's level and give her a hug. She needs reassurance that you still love her, no matter what she did. Then you explain, in terms that she can understand, why she got the time out. "Child, you did X, so I had to give you a time out. Next time when you feel Y, instead of doing X, you could try doing Z instead." (Next time you feel frustrated, instead of hitting your sister, you could try walking away, instead.) You are Teaching here, not punishing. You want them to understand what you expect. So tell them, and use small, understandable words. "You got a time out because you ran out into the street without looking both ways. Next time you want to cross the street, you need to wait for me to hold your hand, and look both ways." You don't need to use scare tactics "A big truck could squash you!!!" You don't want to create fear. You simply want to instruct the child on what's expected. If the child is old enough, have them repeat back the situation and the behavior to you. Say, "Now, next time you get frustrated, what are you going to do?" and encourage the child to say, "Walk away." This may take time to get right, and is over the head of little kids, but you can ask the question and then answer it for him. Eventually he'll understand what you want to hear. Repeating it to you will help him internalize the correct behavior.

You always want to end a time out positively. "I love you," or "Good job," and then, the most important step, "Let's go do something else!" Redirect the child to an appropriate activity, NOT the activity that caused the problem to begin with. If the kid threw a block at his sister's head, you don't want to send him back to play with the blocks. Give him something soft! :)

Just as it takes a dozen exposures to a new food before a child will like it, it often takes a dozen time outs for the same offense before a child "gets it." This is why parents everywhere have said, "I've told you a thousand times...." (and then groaned because they sound just like their own parents!)

It will also take more than a dozen tries before your child understands what a time out is. That's ok. You're teaching. Rome wasn't built in a day.

What do you do if the child won't take his time out? You suspend all attention, fun, and most interaction until he does. If he talks to you, you say, "I will talk to you after you take your time out." If he says, "I want some water," you say, "You can have a drink of water after you take your time out." If he says, "I need a clean diaper," you say, "You can have a new diaper after you take your time out." I'm not kidding. The universe stops until the time out is over. If the child goes off and plays by himself, fine. The greatest currency you have with your kids is your attention. So you withhold it until he's taken his time out. We're only talking about two minutes, here. It isn't child abuse to sit in a wet diaper for two minutes. It isn't child abuse to withhold dinner for two minutes. If the child CHOOSES to make it two hours instead of two minutes, well, fine. That's his choice. Children aren't harmed by one missed (or delayed) meal or drink. Oh, and try to keep it positive. You CAN have X after you take your time out, instead of, you can't have X until you've taken your time out. I'm not sure why, but it makes a difference.

Try to be as neutral as possible. You're going to be frustrated. You'll want to say, "It's just two freaking minutes, will you take your time out already so we can GO???" Don't show it. If you say that, he'll know that you want to go, and that by not taking his time out, he can needle you. He can "win." Don't show your hand. Don't let him know what your currency is. Be as calm and neutral as possible (always, not just with time outs). I know this is impossible. Just last night, MG was driving me crazy, and I lost my cool. Luckily her Dad was home, so he could be the good cop while I chilled out. (It's a natural reaction when your toddler sticks her hand onto the cutting board where you're cutting carrots to freak out a little. She's really lucky I didn't cut off her fingers... Argh.)

I didn't think that Time Outs were working with MG, because she screamed like a crazy person every time I gave her one at home. Then we were at Grandpa Ben's farm, and she colored on the TV with a crayon (property destruction). I gave her a time out and braced myself for one of those scenes that you don't want your kids to have in front of your in-laws, no matter how cool and understanding they are... But damned if she didn't march right over and sit down on the step and take her time out like a little angel. I was absolutely stunned. It was one of my proudest parenting moments.

I would be happy to elaborate or answer any questions you may have about time outs, or discipline in general. I hope that this has helped you understand how to use the time out correctly and effectively!

Works for me!

Monday, July 16, 2007


I'd better fire off today's post before Happy Hour starts.

No, smarty pants, I wasn't too hungover to post today. I've just been busy and stuff. At the end of another really good book. How do I find so much time to read, you ask? Well, in general, I totally neglect my kids. Instead of making loving and rapt eye contact with them while they're nursing, I lay on my side in bed and prop the book up on the other side of their heads. Really, there's only so much loving and rapt eye contact one can make with a baby. Especially when eye contact causes the baby in question to smile and squirm and coo. Quite cute, most of the time, but not when you want her to just eat already and have done with it.

Believe me, when you're nursing half the neighborhood, it's important for them to just eat and have done with it, already.

I also neglect them at the park. I will walk around long enough to get Claire to fall asleep in the sling, and then I'll let Mary Grace run loose in the children's play area while I read, looking up often enough to ensure that she hasn't run away with the weird little sand eating boy. I also carry a book in the diaper bag, so that I can read at stop lights, at McDonald's in the play area, and at railroad crossings (generally only when trains are present).

I figure that what they're lacking in rapt maternal eye contact is being made up in the excellent literacy example I am setting for them. Or something.

Moving right along... I found an absolutely fascinating post at another blog today. Go read it (open another window for God's sake, you're MY traffic!), I'll wait.

How in the world are we supposed to raise girls who feel good about their real bodies, when truly beautiful women like Faith Hill have to be airbrushed into oblivion before they're "good enough" for a magazine cover? Honestly, as a mother of daughters, it makes me so sick.

You might have noticed from yesterday's drunken rant - um, I mean, yesterday's missive, that I'm not the thinnest reed in the oboe. In fact, I'm not even in the woodwind section. I'm more of a cello. Clearly this state doesn't bother me in the slightest, because I'm sitting here eating Brownie Explosion ice cream while writing this (happy hour has officially begun, people!). I am at peace with my body. It produced two incredible children. How can I begrudge it the ice cream it so richly deserves?? Sure, I'd like to lose a few pounds, but until someone comes out with a pill that can make you drop weight without deprivation, sweat, or anal leakage, I'm going to keep eating my ice cream.

Anyway, I am in touch with my surroundings enough to know that I am either seriously in denial, or I am extremely rare among women. Most of the "role models" (and role model makers, like Oprah, and the people who airbrush the magazines) out there seem to think that this (or this, or this, or this) is what a woman should look like.

Don't get me wrong. I love thin people. Some of my favorite people are thin. I like to keep them around because they let me finish their desserts. And if my girls grow up and they decide to be thin, I will support them. I will love them every bit as much as I would if they weren't thin. In fact, I will finish their desserts.

The thing is, I want them to aim for a healthy, attainable weight - not an unhealthy, unrealistic, airbrushed fantasy weight that is impossible for anyone to achieve with any sort of health or wellness in tact.

When I was a teenager, there were thin girls, but they were normal thin. Even the girls on Beverly Hills 90210 started off normal, for God's sake.

But if current trends continue, young girls are going to want to look more like coat hangers than like women by the time my girls are teenagers, and it scares me.

Sure, I want them to look stunning in the gowns that they wear when they accept their Nobel Prizes (becoming the first ever team of sisters to win Nobel Prizes for Physics and Peace in the same year). But I hope that they'll find a way to love themselves no matter what they look like. I hope they won't look at themselves, and wish that Photoshop worked on people's actual bodies, instead of just their photos.

On the other hand, by that time, maybe we will be able to Photoshop our bodies. In that case, I'm going to want to have plenty of body to work with. Pass the whipped cream!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

I Got My Mad Parenting Skillz from Sears!!! W00T

Ok, full disclosure - I had a couple glasses of wine while on the phone with Gramma, so if I'm typing a little crooked or something, well, don't say I didn't warn you. (It doesn't count as drinking alone if you're on the phone with someone else who's drinking, right?)

Stop looking at my gigantic behind! I've had two kids! (Nevermind the fact that my behind was exactly that size prior to the having of the two kids!) ((I told you I'd had a drink)). That's me, at the Big Cool Park, feeding the geese. I'm actually deathly afraid of all water fowl, but that's a discussion for another day.

See that blue sash of fabric? That's my sling. I often wonder if people, when seeing me from behind, think I'm a former beauty queen who just can't let it go, or what. It must look rather odd. But from the front, you can see that it is The World's Most Fabulous Baby Carrier Ever!!!! I am like the babywearing ambassador for our town. Everywhere I go in this thing, people have to stop me and ask what it is, where I got it, whether or not I like it, how much it cost, etc. If they don't stop me to talk, they say, "Awww, look at the baby in the bag!" or something similar.

Therefore, I will enumerate the joys of babywearing for you here. Then I can just tell people to check out my blog, and I won't have to have a 30 minute conversation about it every time I leave the house. (To be honest, I like the attention, but I'm only telling you that because of the wine).

I wore MG in a ring sling when she was a baby. The problem was that the ring bonked her in the head, and I found myself constant adjusting it. It was, in a word, a PITA (pain in the ass).

Then, while I was pregnant with Claire, I found the adjustable pouch. The fleece one, to be exact. It was love at first sight.

I wear my sling every single day. When we're at the grocery store, I put MG in the cart and Claire in the sling, and we go. When we're at the park, I put MG on the ground and Claire in the sling, and we go. When we're at the mall, I start out with them both in the double stroller (which I also love, btw), but by the time we get to the second store I've got MG walking and C in the sling and I'm pushing our crap in the stroller. Oh well.

Anyway, the fabulous thing about the sling is that I still have arms to snatch MG from the jaws of death with, when I'm holding Claire. The jaws of death (or should I say, Jaws of Death) present themselves quite often when you're not even two, and it seems that I spend my entire day saying, "No," and "Don't touch that," and "Get out of the road!" and "OH MY GOD IF YOU PUT THAT IN YOUR MOUTH... SPIT IT OUT! SPIT IT OUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"


Having arms greatly facilitates the removal of the poisonous substances from the mouth, the removal of the child from the road, etc. Enter the sling.

With the sling I can multitask. I can carry Claire and save MG from the Jaws of Death every 15 minutes at the same time. I don't have to drop Claire upon the pavement in order to run out and save MG from whatever Impending Doom is imminent (which is rather self defeating, actually, because what good is it to save one offspring if you maim the other one in the process??). It is a beautiful thing.

Babywearing is also, actually, good for the baby involved. Apparently babies like to be held occasionally, and having a sling enables you to do this, even when you are drinking too much wine while blogging (actually, she's in the swing right now, being neglected by her father, because I discovered that I was a little too tipsy to blog and hold the baby and drink the wine all at once).

The best feature about the sling is that Claire usually goes to sleep when she's in it. Of course, Claire, being an agreeable sort of child and a second-easy-child in general, sleeps in the face of all sorts of stimuli, including loud noises, Nosrus Tap, and daylight. She's awesome. Anyway, the rhythmic movement of the baby in the sling reminds them of the rhythmic movement of themselves in the womb and they konk right out. It's like magic. It's nearly to the point where all I have to do is show her the sling and she passes out like a sorority girl at a frat party.

I think I'm probably going to regret posting this in the morning. I'd better get more wine.

Right. The final, and often unpublished, benefit of the sling is that it covers up all the unsightly stains on your t-shirt. I was a sloppy sort before I had kids, but now that I have actual children hanging off of me at all times, I am constantly covered with a fine layer of snot, tears, applesauce (or juice), dirt, ravioli, and urine. I know, this sounds almost as attractive as my gigantic behind (I told you not to look!). If I want to wear one of my stained t-shirts (which is code for all of my stained t-shirts) out in public, all I have to do is toss Our Claire in the sling, and we're good to go. No one can see the stains.

Wearing a baby in a sling is the closest I am ever going to come to being a celebrity. The freaking Kangaroo Korner people ought to pay me a commission, because half of Our Town's residents have bought them on my recommendation. If I could sew, I would totally make them and sell them, but alas, I am a wordsmith and not a... fabricsmith... Oh wow, I really need to go to bed.

Please leave a comment and let me know whether or not I should post Under the Influence in the future.

I love you, Man!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Return of the Drive In

Claire is doing much better. The fever broke after about 24 hours. I think it was the rotavirus vaccine that did it to her. And 24 hours of fever is better than the fun we had when MG had rotavirus. I was hugely pregnant with Claire - it was about 6 weeks before she was born. MG caught it at the doctor's office, and within 18 hours was puking her little guts out (11/12 times she threw up, she got it all over me. Motherhood is so glamorous!). We ended up in the emergency room. BJ and I had it, too, but not as badly as Mary Grace. It was absolutely miserable, and something I never want to do again, hence the vaccine. See, I used to be all, "Oh, we don't need flu shots and chicken pox shots and stuff like that because they won't be maimed or disfigured if they live through the flu or the chicken pox, so just give us the polio and the MMR and the DTAP and all the vaccines against really dangerous stuff, and we'll get immune to the not-as-dangerous stuff the old fashioned way." Yeah. And then I met rotavirus. Good Lord.

I can't imagine living a hundred years ago, when people used to die of simple infections and dehydration and other things that are so easy for us, in the U.S., to deal with now. It used to be normal for mothers to have lost a child, or several children. In some places it still is. I can't imagine. Those people didn't/don't love their children any less than we do. I'm really grateful to live in this time.

So, speaking of The Way Things Were, we went to the drive-in again last night. They were showing Ratatouille and Live Free or Die Hard. It was nice to see an adult movie that is still in theaters for a change. Ratatouille was cute, but over MG's head. Die Hard had some funny dialog, but required an uncomfortable level of "suspension of disbelief." They did some things with a fighter jet that were just not even possible. Oh well, it was fun. We didn't get home till 2 am. (The girls fell asleep long before the second movie came on, of course). BJ, the wus, is still upstairs sleeping. He made a brief appearance and then went right back up to bed.

I don't think he's been puked on, either. Sucks to be The Mom.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Shot in the Dark

Claire, my sweet little Claire, is reacting badly to the shots she had yesterday. Her fever hasn't been below 101 since 8 pm last night. It maxed out at 104 this morning. I was steeling myself against the possibility of febrile seizures, but they never came (I anticipate, therefore I do not panic). Holding her I can feel the fever moving around her little body. Her head is burning with that sharp, hot fever feeling - the sensation that tells all of my maternal instincts that something is wrong. Nursing her is like nursing a roast. She's heavy and still and hot in my arms.

I've hardly put her down. I made dinner while holding her, ate while holding her, slept while holding her. I can only offer her the comfort of Tylenol and my presence. My poor little lovey.

This too shall pass.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Birthday Dilemma...

I had planned on renting a shelter at a local park for MG's birthday party (August 10 is the big day, but it's a Friday, so I was thinking August 11), but the shelters at the two parks we love are rented for that day! Who knew that you had to schedule these things 6 months in advance??

So, do we have the party here? Do we have it at the park without a shelter, and just take a card table for cutting the cake on? I hadn't planned on a meal, mainly I had planned to do cake and ice cream and drinks at a park (near the play equipment) so the kids would have something to do (and I won't have to clean my house! Ha!) I mean, she's going to be two. We don't need to get all crazy about things, right? No pony rides necessary... If we go to the park where the train is, and buy enough tickets for all the kids to go a couple of times (how cute would that picture be, all the kids hanging off of the train?), that's all she needs.

We certainly don't want to get into one of those situations where we're trying to out-do ourselves year after year, and then find that there's nowhere left to go.

But all the shelters close to the playground at that park are already reserved. There is plenty of wide open space, though. We could just stake a claim on the grass, put up our cake, have everyone bring camp chairs, and watch the kids go nuts. What do you think? Sound like a plan, or should I just suck it up and do it at the house?

By the way, if you're reading this and you know us, you're invited. :) I'll put up the details as they become available.


In other news, I was incorrect in the video when I said Claire was 11 pounds 8 ounces - she was weighed today at the doctor's office and they called it 12 pounds 10 ounces. She's 4 months old, and apparently you're supposed to double your birthweight by 4 months, so he's "a little" concerned (she'd be 14#6 if she had hit that mark).

Am I the only person who thinks that all the problems with childhood obesity may be related to these ridiculous recommendations for babies (including the whole "whole milk until you're two" thing, which we're doing, grudgingly)? I mean, she's a perfectly healthy kid. She is getting tons of milk - trust me on this. She's not hungry. She sleeps wonderfully. She has rolls of chub on her thighs (someday she's going to hate me for broadcasting that to the world!). So, what's the problem?

I'm just saying that it doesn't make a whole lot of sense to cram food down a kid's throat for X number of years, and try to get them to gain weight, and then to turn around when they're heavy and put them on a diet.

As long as she's clearly happy and comfortable, I'm going to trust that my body is giving her what she needs, and if she wants to weigh a bit less than she's "supposed" to, I'm not going to freak out about it. I think freaking out about breastfeeding caused many of the problems we faced the first time around.

Then he tells me that we should start solids. At four months. Now, I love our doctor, so don't get me wrong, but I am not starting solids. She still has a tongue thrust reflex. She doesn't sit up yet. She isn't ready for food - she'll choke. I'm not giving it to her. In one breath he says, "Go ahead and start food," but in the next he says, "She really only needs breast milk until she's one, the food is just for practice..." Then he says that maybe she'll gain the weight she should once we start solids. I didn't point out that breastmilk is more calorically dense than anything we're going to feed her (unless we lose our minds and share our cheesecake with her or something). Breastmilk has 20 calories per ounce, and is 50% fat! I'm pretty sure that rice cereal and pureed peas are not going to pack on the pounds the way Mommy's milk will!

Am I the only person who thinks that maybe all the allergy problems kids have these days may be related to these stupid recommendations for babies? I'm not a doctor or anything, but it seems pretty interesting, to me. I read someplace that the intestine in a newborn actually has larger pores to absorb nutrients through than an adults (they called it an "open gut") and that's why you don't want to give them food too early - because things will get in through those holes that aren't supposed to - proteins that the baby may be allergic to (or develop an allergy to). But what do I know? I'm just a mom. These are things that I really don't want to debate while Mary Grace is sticking things in her mouth that the last kid through that exam room had in his mouth, and he probably had bubonic plague or something, so I just smile and nod and then come home and do what I want.

(I just remembered that I gave Kathy at the doctor's office the address of my blog today, so um, yeah. Hi Kathy. Shhhh!)

Our Claire and Daddy

Posted by Picasa

Product Placement

Posted by Picasa

I'm still the baby!

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Cameron's Video

Hello to all of Cameron's friends and relatives! I am happy to host his internet debut! He is a beautiful boy. Karen and Jim are so lucky, and I know that Owen is going to be an awesome big brother!!!

Without further ado:

(Make sure you leave a comment to tell his Mama how gorgeous she looks - no woman should look that great so soon after having a baby!)

Y'all come back, now, y'hear?

An Almost Perfect Day

It was so beautiful here today. One of those days that makes me glad that I live here, because we get about half a dozen of these days a year, so not only do we get to enjoy them, we appreciate them!

We had lunch with BJ, and I left my purse at the restaurant. I didn't realize it until a good 45 minutes later. Cash, prescription meds, digital camera, all my credit cards, all my work credit cards... basically my entire life was left on the back of a random chair in Qdoba. I called. They had it. I raced back. Every single thing was still in there.

I love it here. I don't ever want to move.

After nap, we went to the big park that has the zoo and the train and the playground. We did everything twice. MG was so good. Claire slept a lot. I even got to read some of my book. I remembered to put sunscreen on everyone. No one cried when we had to leave. Wow.

On the way home we saw a car accident on the 4 lane, divided highway that goes through town. I didn't think it looked too bad, until I saw the toddler seat in the median. It had been ejected from one of the cars. I don't know if there was a toddler in it at the time or not.

So do me a favor, if you have a kid in a car seat, and take your car to the local police or fire department, or to AAA, and have it checked to make sure your car seat is installed correctly, ok? I mean, the sight of that seat just made me sick to my stomach. It was thrown almost all the way into the opposing lane of traffic. Just a couple more feet and it could've been squashed by the next car to come along.

I hope there was no kid in the car seat, but if there was, I hope he or she is ok.

Otherwise, though, it was a perfect day. We broke our bad-day streak!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

WFMW - Improvise a Changing Table

When Mary Grace was little, I only changed diapers upstairs - figuring that going up 13 stairs to the changing table several times a day was good exercise. However, when I was "great with" Claire (BJ would argue that I'm not at all "great" when pregnant, but that's another post), I decided that I didn't want to haul my gigantic carcass up and down the stairs to the "real" changing table every time my first child needed a clean diaper.

On the other hand, I also didn't want the changing table downstairs (there's no room, for one thing), and the thought of changing diapers on the dining room table just sent me into a germophobic tailspin.

Enter the WFMW tip - the changing table on the washing machine! I got one of these, and popped it upon the top of the washer (note the raised sides). It doesn't weigh anything, so taking it off to throw in a load of clothes is a piece of cake. I have a box on top of the dryer that holds diapers (in two sizes, lucky me!), wipes, powder, butt paste, etc. There's plenty of room for a Diaper Genie in our laundry room, too, so it doesn't stink (at least I don't think it does - and if my house ever does get diaper or pet stink, I am counting on you to tell me!).

Added bonus #1 - the older kid loves to play with the knobs and buttons on the washer while getting changed, which prevents her from sticking her hands into the dirty diaper.

Added bonus #2 - the younger kid has been known to fall asleep if left too long on the washer during the spin cycle (it was totally a controlled experiment and I was right there the whole time - don't get your "delicates" in a twist!).

Added bonus #3 - it doesn't take up any additional space in my house, or cause any additional mess. WFMW

This would be an ideal solution for new parents in a small house, who don't want a traditional changing table. Works for me!!

Single Mom

BJ is still at the conference (he'll be home tonight, so all of you serial killers, baby stealers, and burglars have totally missed your opportunity, neener neener neener!). As far as I'm concerned, he can't get here soon enough.

Last week was a really busy week for him at work. More than once he didn't come home until well past midnight. That was the primary reason for our extended trip to Grammaland - I figured, if I was going to be home alone, anyway, I might as well not be home.

I feel like I haven't seen him in months, and I'm worried that the kids won't recognize him when he does get home. And, I have to admit, I'm jealous that he can leave for a few days, while I can't be away from Claire for more than an hour, and MG would freak right out if I tried to leave for much more than that. It has made me think a lot about single parents.

How on earth do you do it? This has been one of the hardest weeks of my parenting life. It's psychologically so different to know that there's no one coming home soon. Yesterday was interminable. I felt like it lasted for at least 47 hours. It wasn't because we just sat in the house whining at each other all day, either, although it felt like we did that for a large percentage of the day... We actually managed to get to the hospital to see Karen's new baby, Nameless, who is the smallest baby I have ever seen in real life - 5 pounds, 15 ounces. He made Claire look huge.

I can't imagine what it would be like to do this alone - to not have another adult to empty the Diaper Genie once in a while, or to open the sippy cup full of milk that accidentally got left in the toy room for a week, or to fool into changing the really horrible diapers. After one week of it, I am ready to lose my tiny mind. I find myself lacking patience, snapping at MG, letting Claire cry longer than I normally would... The house is a mess. I have no motivation to change that fact. And we've been eating complete crap. What's the point of cooking something when the only other person here to eat thinks that buttered noodles with Parmesan cheese are the height of culinary perfection?

I've always respected single parents, but I never had any idea just how hard it was. My hat is off to all of you who have done this alone. I honestly have no idea how you manage(d) it.

Monday, July 9, 2007

I love this dog

The night that BJ proposed to me, we went to the Applebee's at the mall. While waiting for our table, we wandered the mall, and ended up at the pet store. BJ said, "I want a puppy!"

"You can have a puppy when I have a ring!" I replied. Little did I know that the ring was in his pocket.

That's how Maxine came into our lives.

They told us, at the shelter, that she was a German Shepherd/Lab mix, and that she'd weigh between 40 and 50 pounds. She topped out at 90 pounds. We think she's actually German Shepherd/Chow (black tongue)/Greyhound (that orangy color, the shape of her body) but who knows? All I know is that she is the best damn dog in the history of the universe. She makes Lassie look like a couch potato.

She speaks English, for one thing, which is convenient. I counted one time, and she knows over 75 words and phrases. Not that she always listens, but she knows them.

I once had an argument about guns with our friend John Paul. He carried a gun. I told him that Max was a better crime deterrent than his gun, because everyone knew that we had Max, but no one knew he had a gun. He laughed, and said, "Max? She's harmless. She wouldn't hurt a fly!" I said, "Oh yeah? Hit me." "What?" "Hit me." So he did.

It took me 20 minutes to calm her down. She was ready to take him apart.

Good dog.

She also protects the kids, particularly when she thinks that Daddy is playing too rough. She'll bark and growl and basically draw his attention to herself, giving the kids an opportunity to escape, maybe? Who knows? When we were at the farm on the fourth of July, she growled at Rocky, my brother in law's basset hound, when she thought he was being too rough with Mary Grace.

So, BJ is gone for a couple of days, at a conference, and we're home alone. Last night around 4 am, I heard a noise. I woke up suddenly and froze, terrified, the girls asleep on either side of me. Max growled, low in her throat. We waited. Silence.

Then I heard Max sigh, and go back to sleep. And I realized that if there had been anything to fear, Max would've let me know (in no uncertain terms - she has a wicked bark). And if someone ever was stupid enough to come in the house, she would take them apart if they threatened us.

I slept really well. Max had eggs and toast for breakfast.

Good dog, Max.
Good dog.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Hey, Look!

I've been scouring the web, looking for interesting content to put over at the right hand side, there. Check them out! I love the new slide show, personally. It just cracks me up when the drunk guy from Walmart shows up on there. I also am "sharing" some of the other blogs I read, so if you scroll down, you will see a dynamic list of what I'm reading today, and it should stay pretty fresh, considering the sheer number of blogs that I read (it's sad, you don't want to know).

The "blogosphere" (HATE that term) is really a community. I'm hoping that you will find something new, interesting, or different (besides just what cute thing MG said today) through my blog. I know that some of my readers are less 'net savvy than others, so by promoting these things, I hope to help you find places you might otherwise have missed. To boldly go... Aw, skip it. BJ's not home, no sci-fi metaphors.

It is so past my bedtime.

East Meets (Old) West

Holy moly, have we been busy! I don't think we've stopped running for a week. You can see the effect it has had on Claire!

Here are the highlights -
Since BJ was working like a crazy person, we decided to head up to Grammaland on Thursday night. The girls were very good in the car. Mary Grace worked hard to entertain Biscuit the Cat. Every day she looks more like a kid, and less like a baby. Especially with the ponytail in her hair. Good grief. How is it possible that she's going to be two next month?

We spent the night at my mom's on Friday, and then on Saturday when she left for work, we went to the place where my friend Jenny boards her horses to meet Harley and Sam. Mary Grace was SO good! Perhaps it was because the big animals scared her, but she listened and followed directions like a champ. I was so proud of her. I actually surprised Jenny with my willingness to ride Harley. I hadn't been on a horse since she and I went to ride her old horse, Tess, in high school! Surprisingly, riding a horse is just like riding a bike, and after just a moment or two, it all came back to me.

Mary Grace warmed up considerably as we spent more time at the barn, but was still unimpressed with her first horse ride. I'm hoping that she'll be a little more willing next time. When we left, she did ask to go back, "just for a minute," so she may be a cowgirl yet. Although I'm not sure this is a hobby I want to encourage - after all, horses aren't cheap! I'm going to have to clip a lot of coupons to be able to afford tap lessons (damn you, Nosrus Tap!), and music lessons (because all kids should play an instrument, if nothing else so that they learn fractions), and a horse. I did save $50 at Walgreen's today (on stuff we really needed) and I got a hell of a deal on some baby clothes, so maybe... Oh, who am I kidding, I'm going to go broke buying $2 tickets for her to ride the train at the zoo over and over and over.
Anyway, after our horsey ride we went to Gramma Susan's to see Uncle Steve and meet my Aunt Ting Ting and their son David. David was born 30 minutes before Claire (although he was in China, so figuring that out required no small amount of math). He weighs 50% more than Claire. I don't know how Ting Ting carries him around all day. My back hurts badly enough from carrying Claire around!! We had a great visit with them, and with Alison and her mom (Alison will be coming back to us in the fall, when she returns to college and her job as Best Nanny Ever). Mary Grace had a great time playing with her and being afraid of Uncle Steve for no apparent reason.

We spent the night at Dad and Susan's so that we could visit with Dad, who had to work 2nd shift and didn't get home until way late. Then the next morning they went to the Big City to the West to visit Susan and Steve's cousin, and the girls and I came home (after a brief stopover to see Mom and Mimi before they went to work). We hung out with BJ for a bit, then he left for his conference today, so now it's just us girls again for a few days.

My good friend Karen had a baby - little Noname! He weighs just under 6 pounds, and is about a month early, so send your good thoughts and prayers toward them.

In other wonderful news, Claire laughed for the first time tonight. I'm hoping to get it on video soon. There is just nothing better than the sound of a baby's laugh.